Primarily used in Comic Book fandom, Continuity Porn is a sometimes derogatory, sometimes affectionate, name for a story overly focused on continuity, to the detriment of the story.
There are two main types of continuity porn, although they often overlap:
The first is a story that exists primarily or only to resolve or explain continuity problems. The problem is that this often happens without having a strong story of its own — sort of a canonical Fan Wank or Fix Fic. However, anything that promises to "fix all those niggling little problems we've accumulated over the years" is likely to not do that to the satisfaction of anyone, but nearly always produces something that just manages to introduce even more problems. It often involves a thick soup of Retcon. This tends to be the most common type, especially for series with long histories and many writers/contributors behind it.
Drawing the line between good and bad continuity is pretty subjective for either type, though, since fans have different expectations of exactly how much continuity is a good thing for the series. One fan's shameless continuity porn is another's "taking advantage of the rich history" or "cleverly and entertainingly fixing a long-standing problem."
This usually only happens with Long Runners, because they're the only ones with enough continuity to support it. Usually the introduction of Continuity Porn is a good sign that the inmates have started Running the Asylum. Continuity Porn is also a form of Pandering to the Base.
Despite being primarily associated with comics, the term seems to have originated in Star Trekfandom, perhaps unsurprisingly. It reached a wider audience when Enterprise executive producer Brannon Braga, who read the Trek forums once in a while during his tenure, mentioned in a Cinescape interview that he found it an apt description.
Compare and contrast Continuity Cavalcade, where instead of the work being driven by continuity concerns, there is simply a single scene loaded with many Continuity Nods.
Compare Continuity Creep, Continuity Snarl and Armed with Canon.
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Anime and Manga
Macross Frontier. Notably, the continuity porn is only really noticeable to people who have been following the Macross franchise from the very beginning; it isn't so much the plot, as it is nearly every single scene having a reference to a different Macross series.
One Piece author Eiichiro Oda is big on this. The newest Straw Hat Pirate Brook is a perfect example, but far from the only one. It begins in a self-contained arc in volume 12, where the crew meets a whale who wants to reunite with the pirate crew that presumably abandoned it, goes completely unmentioned for another 30-40 volumes, then comes back when we learn that Brook is the sole survivor of that very pirate crew.
A special manga chapter detailing the backstory of the tenth movie's Big Bad also has panels featuring from all over the One Piece continuity, up to and including a guy who only showed up for one chapter in volume 3 getting his body stuck in a treasure chest.
Silvers Rayleigh, who first appeared in a flashback (volume 3, chapter 19), and then showed up in the actual storyline 487 chapters later (vol. 52, chapter 506).
Lately, we've got Jimbei. Not even the One Piece Wiki remembered that one of the nicest, most helpful characters in the series is also the one who released Arlong into the East Blue after he told Jimbei he could either kill him or let him go, and Jimbei chose the latter. Luckily, Oda did, and the manga had a flashback regarding this.
Another thing Oda is very good at is seeding in innocuous things that eventually become very important later. Best seen with Ace and Luffy's Blood Brothers ceremony, it turns out the black spot on the edge of the panel is the shadow of the previously unmentioned Sabo's cup.
Gundam Unicorn: Denham's Zaku from the first episode of the original Mobile Suit Gundam showing up in a museum is a fairly good example. All the stuff from previous series' that show up in ∀ Gundam might count, but it's extremely oblique how, or even if, that show fits into the timeline (s).
The fourth season of Bakugan is this. Characters who haven't been seen since the first season have reappeared, New Vestoria and Gundelia have been revisited with the Gundelia Invaders cast playing a large role, Spectra appears to answer a Gondor Calls for Aid, and the Big Bad Mag Mel turns out to be the previous season's Big Bad Emperor Barodius turned that way due to being punished by the Bakugan version of God, Code Eve. And the season isn't even half way over yet! However, this is a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, as it's actually helpped the story more than hurt it.
Since Natsu keeps a memento of every event in Fairy Tail his house is this. Things he collects range from understandable (the flyers from the jobs he's gone on) to a little odd (the maid outfit he tricked Lucy into wearing on her first job) to just plain weird (rubble, which he has specifically labeled as being from the time he went berserk during Erza's trial)
Nearly every chapter in Yotsuba&! has some nod to a previous chapter, sometimes several. Every time you see the Yotsu Box there are about 4 or 5 toys in it that Yotsuba was seen using a few chapters back. Remember the chapter where they assembled a bookshelf? Remember that little testshelf Koiwai and Yotsuba build? Yotsuba uses it to reach the stove when making pancakes.
One of the common criticisms of Infinite Crisis was that it was continuity porn in both senses of the term. DC in general is perceived to engage in 'hard continuity' (i.e., inconsistencies are deliberately explained) versus Marvel's 'softer' kind (inconsistencies, especially bad ones, are eventually just ignored).
52 veers into the second variety of continuity porn, though that might depend on whom you ask. In its defence, though, it is hard to do a yearlong series touching on every character in the DC Universe without getting a little esoteric sometimes.
This was even commented on by one of the writers (Mark Waid), who mentioned that "... no good fiction ever came out of worrying first and foremost whether its events fit into 'continuity'."
Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is assuredly the ultimate embodiment of this trope, being continuity porn for all continuities ever. Many sequences and moments in the stories seem to have no purpose other than for Moore to reference as many fictional places and characters as possible. To the extent of explaining Hyde's slow transformation from human to monster, and having a very small date range for the actual events (1891-1894, during Sherlock Holmes' supposed death after falling off a cliff with Moriarty. It is actually considered one of the Holmes sub-works despite Holmes appearing only briefly in a flashback).
Roy Thomas's All-Star Squadron is the best example, often going to great lengths to "solve" continuity problems that nobody but Thomas even knew existed.
Gotham City Sirens has two cases of continuity porn, so far. When The Joker attacks the three 'reformed' villains he uses the phrase "Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed," when powering up his super blimp in an obvious throwback to the Adam West series. Later it turns out to be a fake Joker who was really Gaggy, a circus midget who was one of Joker's first sidekicks who first appeared in 1966! Talk about a throwback.
In Pre CrisisBronze AgeSuperman comics, DC's guy in charge of Superman continuity was Promoted Fanboy E. Nelson Bridwell. Bridwell adored the minutia of the Superman mythos, and whenever he personally penned a story, it was chock full of Continuity Nods, often to obscure Silver Age stuff. In stories focusing on the history of the character and his world (such as the original, pre-Crisis Krypton Chronicles and World of Krypton miniseries), this worked very well, but in stories that were set in the present day, the constant references did sometimes feel intrusive.
JLA: Year One and JLA: Incarnations were both written to show how the Justice League's history "really" happened in the Post-Crisis universe. It helped that both focused on the characters' personalities and interactions rather than harping on minutae, however.
Anytime an artist is directed to show a wide shot of the Batcave, this inevitably happens. Older versions of the Batmobile, artifacts from cases, etc. (Especially the eight-foot-high penny, the mechanical Tyrannosaurus, and the oversized Joker playing card hanging from the ceiling).
Wolverine: Origins exists to "fully" detail Wolverine's mysterious past, has also been called continuity porn. Note that all of the hinted-at elements of Wolverine's past have already been revealed; Origins deals with this by making up an entirely new Ancient Conspiracy and trying to work it in around the edges. At this point, anything dealing with Wolverine's Expansion Pack Past is probably continuity porn by default.
Lampshade Hanging/parody in an issue of She-Hulk, which promised to fix almost all of Marvel's past and future continuity problems. And did, sort of: any appearances by a character you don't like are actually a tourist from another universe cosplaying as that character.
Not to mention that the entire Dan Slott run of She-Hulk abounded with often obscure jokes about Marvel continuity - to the point where they had the law firm with a COMIC BOOK COLLECTION and She-Hulk reads the first issue of... well, her.
The infamous Continuity Xorn escapades. Three different writers gave three different takes in order to clean it up but each just got more and more convoluted and complicated that really the best thing to do was just throw it all into the sun.
Kurt Busiek is fond of continuity, and has proven quite capable of weaving disparate continuity threads into a cohesive (and entertaining) whole.
Avengers Forever is probably Busiek's most Continuity Pornastic piece of writing. Among other things, it explains how almost every major event in the history of the Avengers - and the histories of the Avengers in every parallel universe - was either caused by Immortus or cleaned up by him afterwards to save the human race from the Time Keepers. It also spent an entire issue detailing the history of sometime Big Bad Kang the Conquerer. However, because time travel is an important part of the series, and because the story is generally good, it usually manages to get away with it.
An earlier example of Kurt Busiek, before with Marvels, a four-issue mini-series that managed to encapsulate the entire early history of Marvel Comics (from World War II to the Death of Gwen Stacy) and present it from a street-level point of view, showing how an average man sees the Marvel Universe.
Marvel pulled one of these with Secret Invasion. Character derailment you say? Alien mole!Too many of one guy to make sense in universe? Alien double! Character death of your favorite minor character, even though it was a powerful move and strongly affected the rest of the characters? Alien doppelganger!
Spider-Man's "Brand New Day", "Maximum Clonage", and a lot of JMS's writing went into heavy continuity nods and switches. And usually by the end a lot was left hanging.
And still left hanging. "One More Day"/"Brand New Day" seems to be going out of their way to avoid continuity porn and ignore the continuity problems that have been created because of the situation.
Eventually they wrote One Moment in Time, or OMIT, that explained exactly how continuity chaged because of OMD. The Wedding Annual, MJ's pregnancy, and, ironically, One More Day itself are the only things in which anything beyond Spidey's marital status was changed.
Don Rosa's epic comic book series The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, in which he carefully explains every single reference to the events of Scrooge's early life that Carl Barks ever made. Incredibly, despite Rosa's severe obsession with continuity, he still manages to tell a fantastic story at the same time. In his commentaries, he discusses the issue of how Barks kept changing the dates and timelines, and how many issues relating Scrooge's turn from a villain-character into a hero posed problems. He managed to insert some of them, like how Scrooge McDuck, who made his entire fortune square nevertheless managed to be a ruthless robber baron in Africa, but others he just gracefully ignored, such as a magic timeglass that was claimed to be the origin of Scrooge's wealth in one Barks story. If there's a lesson to be learned from these compromises, it is that knowing when to temper Continuity Porn with Broad Strokes helps make a great story.
Hellboy. One of the great things about the series is that its rich interconnected story rewards those who know the fine details of the canon. The downside of this is that Hellboy's continuity spans 16 years worth of miniseries and one-shots spread out across five different comic series. That is a lot of baggage for the casual reader to unpack. An example of this problem is readers can only understand that the old man speaking to Gruagach in issue two of Hellboy: The Wild Hunt is the demon lord Astaroth if they read Hellboy: Box Full of Evil issue two (published about 8 years before Wild Hunt), which then means that Hell has offered its tacit support to the Queen of Blood and suggests that things are going to get much worse. For the informed all of this is implied without being stated, to the detriment of those who are only now entering the series. The best way to read the series is in trade paperback form from start to finish, or better yet with the oversized Hellboy Library Editions.
JLA/Avengers. It's pure nerd pornography from start to finish, from both universes - no surprise, since it's by Kurt Busiek. He and George Perez were quite proud of managing to fit in every character who had ever been a member of either team.
The Conan one-off story Mirror of the Manticore in Savage Sword of Conan 58 exists only to explain how Olgerd Vladislav's hand, broken by Conan in A Witch Shall Be Born, can be whole when Conan kills him next time they meet.
Star Trek: Countdown, the prequel (or sequel???) to the 2009 film actually plays as a Mind Screwdriver for the fans. The author brilliantly bridged the event between the TNG saga and the new Alternate Universe to make the new film fit into Star Trek canon. The appearance of the TNG cast just scream for nerdgasm from the trekkies.
Sin City has a tight-knit continuity. Usually, every story will have at least one scene at Kadie's Bar which shows several characters in the background making references to past events. It is also common to see the same scene played more than once in different stories but from different characters' points of view. Also, it's not uncommon for a character to mention a certain event, only for that event to be played out in another story due to the series' Anachronic Order.
The Doctor Who Magazine comic strip "Hunters of the Burning Stone". It's the fiftieth aniversary year, so naturally tying up a Story Arc about psychic metal that's been running since 2011 also involves a Call Back to an Eighth Doctor strip (the final pre-New Series storyline), the return of Ian and Barbara, the revelation that the titular Hunters are the Tribe of Gum(!!) and a journey into the Doctor's memory.
The Spirou and Fantasio book Aux Sources du Z involves time travel to Spirou's previous adventures, including some by oft-forgotten authors.
Almost all fanfiction will fall under this trope in one way or another, rarely or never giving explanations to things that can be found in canon. It is justified, however — what's the point of making a fanfic accessible to everyone if only fans of the original work will read it?
The Dragon Ball Z fanfiction Honor Trip is a great example. Author American Vigor seems to have taken it upon himself to explain away the main show's major inconsistencies regarding time travel, the otherworld and many other continuity errors it seemed to have. Whether this is a good choice in terms of the narrative is up to the reader.
The Spider-Girl Fixfic "The Parker Cliche" dismisses much loathed Spider-Man stories One More Day, Brand New Day. OMIT, and upcoming events such as "Superior Spider-Man", as bad dreams of May "Mayday" Parker. Author Zarius, whose criticisms and distaste of bad Spidey stories are the stuff of legend, even takes the time to dismiss AU stories such as Ultimate Spider-Man's "Death of Spider-Man" saga and the 90s Spidey animated series story "The Return of Hydro Man" as bad dreams of their respective universes's Spider-Men. Mary Jane gives a "crowning speech of awesome" about how none of the Parkers will ever let these worst-case scenarios come to pass.
Ace Combat: The Equestrian War runs on this, as nearly every chapter references an event or marks the appearance of a character from the series. The sequel is bound to feature it as well.
Disk Mania, a Scooby-Doo! Mystery IncorporatedBackstory, has detailed explanations for why the wrong pieces of the Planispheric Disk were sometimes shown in the animation, why there is a volcanic island off Crystal Cove that nobody remembers, and why Crystal Cove has so many glass door-knobs.
In the Legend of Zelda fanfic trilogy the Bound Destinies Trilogy, there is quite a bit of this. The entire trilogy is, in essence, a crossover of the lore of four games in the series: Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword. The trilogy serves as not only dishing out various dynamics of emotion and storytelling, but they also help to expand the already intricate lore of the series and better connect the aforementioned titles together. Each one of the three stories, no matter what era of the series's timeline they take place in, all make references to all of the games in one way or another.
The Star Wars prequel trilogy. The whole thing is devoted to explaining the retcons in the original trilogy. And to get as many characters from the OT into the backstory, even if there's no good reason for them to be there.
A deleted scene in A View to a Kill involved cameo appearances of numerous Bond gadgets from previous movies.
This is frequently cited as the biggest issue with the Saw films after Saw III. There are two big reasons for this: the fact that they killed off a major character (the main villain of the franchise!) in Saw III, and the franchise's love affair with badly-executed twist endings. It became a running joke in fandom that 90% of a Saw film is spent filling in the plot holes caused by the ending of the last one.
Thieves' World was a series of books created by Robert Asprin where various authors would write short stories in a Shared Universe, the town of Sanctuary. As time went on authors would make references to their and other's stories in earlier books. But since the authors were off writing their own stories and not sitting in a room together to make sure it all fit, various problems started to arise and eventually the idea was abandoned.
Which is a shame... The first book did mention something along the lines that any continuity errors you might notice are from people telling their stories as first person and...enhancing... their part in a story.
There are a few books in the New Jedi Order which are nothing but recalls to previous plots strung together with a weak story. There wasn't much cooperation among most writers before then, and so each writer often tried to ignore every other writer's output; NJO sometimes took things too far in the other direction.
Another Star Wars Expanded Universe novel, Death Star, was meant to be this for all of the stories about the origins of the Death Star (including new information raised in the prequels), and finally explain all of the differing accounts of how the Death Star plans were stolen, but it never actually directly addresses the latter issue.
For what is generally considered the best example, James Luceno's novels all manage to do this. Cloak of Deception is a prequel to the Phantom Menace and does an excellent job with some of the loose ends from that plot. Similarly Labyrinth of Evil is a interquel to Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith and is about the mystery of the origins of Sidious from the perspective of the Jedi. Both include a ridiculous number of references to the existing EU and do so without affecting the story.
Timothy Zahn. Wrote the first of the EU books with The Thrawn Trilogy, read the EU as it occurred, and tidied all of the Bantam section of the EU with continuity name-drops everywhere over the course of the Hand of Thrawn, including a missing puzzle piece he inadvertently created in the Thrawn Trilogy. Then wrote a second two-book piece of continuity porn with Outbound Flight/Survivor's Quest, and tied up the Jorj Car'das arc as a subplot in Choices of One. Possibly provided porn before continuity, with the appearance of Booster Terrik in his short story Mist Encounter, published in the Star Wars Adventure Journal as canon before Booster made his appearance in the Stackpole X-Wing books; nobody is quite certain if Booster is a creation of Zahn or Stackpole, but evidence and the authors' longstanding friendship suggests Booster was Stackpole's character borrowed for the short story.
"Ayla and the Tests", in the Whateley Universe, is probably this trope, since there is a ton of continuity polishing over every other character's stories for most of the Fall 2006 term, fixing a bunch of little tiny things the fans had spotted (or in a couple cases, things only the author had spotted).
The 2006 novel Friday the 13th: Carnival Of Maniacs is ripe with this, with every Friday the 13th film released at the time (with the exception of Jason X, since it takes place in the future) getting lots and lots of references, with even minor elements being referred to.
The Icelandic Sagas, being semi-accurate descriptions of major events in Icelandic history all happening in the narrow time frame of around 200 years. It's not uncommon for a main character from one saga to become a minor one in another, or vice versa.
Definitely present in Bluestar's Prophecy. Scenes from later books replicated in full with detailed explanations of what was going on, lots of cameos of Field Guide characters, and backstories for all the major villains of the first arc. As well, the book did it's best to give backstories to almost all the characters in the main group. This was kind of difficult. It even gave a large role to a character who was only mentioned once in the entire series and didn't get on the cast list in that book ( Rosetail).
Though the entirety of Omen of the Stars has it, The Last Hope especially. Not only does it include appearances by many cats from the earlier series and the Expanded Universe, but after Firestar's death, all nine of the cats who gave him nine lives appear to take him to StarClan, with their gifts they gave repeated.
Stephen King's Needful Things is an entire book made up of characters, references and concepts from previous King novels. Billed as "The Last Castle Rock Novel" (a reference to the setting which many of King's books shared), the plot has a small-town sheriff named Alan Pangborn facing off against a supernatural creature who has possessed many of the local townspeople, including John Merrill from Stand by Me. The book references the Four Past Midnight novellas, a character who is related to the murderer from The Dead Zone, Shawshank Prison, It and The Dark Half. The final battle involves Alan and Big Bad Leland Gaunt summoning the spirits of the possessed car Christine and killer dog Cujo (from the books of the same name) to battle.
Discworld is a collection of several different, intertwining series, as well as various stand-alone books, all of which refer to events from previous installments.
PTerry is pretty good about making the individual novels work if they're the first one you come across, though. While it's helpful to know a bit about the backstory of, say, Granny Weatherwax if you're reading Carpe Jugulum or Rincewind if you're reading The Last Continent, it's usually possible to pick up the character traits you need to follow the story pretty quickly.
Continuity porn is sadly common in many Sherlock Holmes pastiches, whose authors often attempt to recreate the feel of the original with a multitude of references. These can range from the mild (the reappearance of previous clients or the Persian slipper) to the jarring, with expressions lifted straight from the canonical stories ("...which veiled his keen and eager nature", "the game is afoot!"). Academic papers have been written on the subject of whether post-Return Holmes was the real thing, so one can hardly blame the pastiche writers for being worried.
The Quantum Archangel by Craig Hinton (creator of the term Fanwank — not a coincidence) beats War in the continuity stakes. It starts out as a sequel to The Time Monster, drags in The Daemons to tie together the two explanations for Atlantis, throws every Sufficiently Advanced Alien in the series and its spinoffs against the Mad Mind of Bophemeral, explains the origin of Mondas, and then chucks in a series of parallel universes involving Prime Minister Mel against the Cybermen; Lord President Doctor against the Daleks (with the inevitable nod to "The War" in the Eighth Doctor books); and Stuart Hyde against a teamup of the Master, Rani, Monk and Drax. Unlike War, however, it's fun.
Another Expanded Universe novel, Who Killed Kennedy, covered a large chunk of the series' history, mostly around the Jon Pertwee era, although other Doctors, past and future, are mentioned. The protagonist even started a romance with Dorothy "Dodo" Chaplet, a former companion from the William Hartnell years, while investigating the history of UNIT and confronting the Master over a plot to alter history during the Kennedy assassination. Writer David Bishop acknowledged the graphic novel Marvels as an influence on his story. The entire novel is available online for free with the author's permission.
The first Eighth Doctor Adventures novel "The Eight Doctors" is made of this trope. All eight Doctors and their companions appear in it, as do very large chunks of Time Lord society. In particular, the Sixth Doctor section consists almost entirely of an attempt to clear up the Trial of a Time LordContinuity Snarls.
Transformers: Exodus and its sequel Exiles give even Transformers Animated (see Western Animation) a run for its money on this score. Of the many TF properties with the Informed Attribute of being connected to Transformers Prime, this is the one that took the "new aligned continuity" thing most seriously. Chunks of everything ever, from G1 to the Beast era to the Japan-original series to the Japan-only series to the Marvel, Dreamwave, and IDW comics to Animated, and eventually, once enough of it had aired, Prime, have been taken to make a Transformers universe where at least something from your favorite incarnation, no matter what that is, won't just appear, it'll appear and matter. Even the bits that only exist due to bad dubbing.note In Transformers Energon,The Powers That Be got squicked about the religion thing in the Super Link original - even though it was the Marvel comic that introduced it and Beast Wars that ran with it. So "Primus" becomes "The Core" and his lines are reassigned to other characters... except when they aren't. In the Exodus and Exiles 'verse, it just happens that there's something called The Core that is where Primus resides.
There's a Data-focused novel out there (Star Trek: Immortal Coil by Jeffrey Lang) partially dedicated to explaining how Noonien Soong got into androids - and just to show off, they linked it to no less than two Star Trek: The Original Series episodes, "What Are Little Girls Made Of" and "Requiem for Methuselah". The actual plot got even worse, with every sentient machine in the history of Star Trek making an appearance. And a reference to The Questor Tapes, Gene Roddenberry's other android!
Peter David is in love with this trope in his novels, most specifically Star Trek: New Frontier. Up to and including implying that Number One and Nurse Chapel were the same person, and explaining why the voice of Federation starships universally sounds like Majel Barrett Roddenberry. Number One, aka Captain Pike's XO, was a computer expert and programmed the voices.
And the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch, which managed to link the ever-popular first season of TNG neural parasites, the Trill, and an ancient civilization from a throw-away archaeology reference somewhere in TNG.
Greg Cox's novels on the early life of Khan are DRIPPING in this: over 2 novels, Khan meets or is shown to affect every single person mentioned as living in the 20th Century over the course of all series and movies, from Gary Seven from TOS and Gillian from The Voyage Home to Janeway's ancestor shown in flashbacks briefly in 1 episode of Voyager. It does all this WHILE explaining how there could be a world war between genetically engineered supermen who control much of the Earth, and the general public has no idea about it.
Star Trek: Federation does this subtly, expanding on small background details or using them for in-jokes that aren't necessary to "get" to enjoy the book. Just for a few examples:
The story is framed as an old, tired Admiral Kirk, post-TUC, asking a question of the Guardian of Forever ("Why?"), and getting an answer ("yes, your life and all the pain and losses you suffered were most certainly worth it, and this is why").
In the 2060s timeline, the Optimum movement is led by Colonel Green and uses the insignia seen in the "post-atomic courtroom" in "Encounter at Farpoint", and also has an appearance (as Red Shirts) of the New United Nations mentioned in that episode.
There's a Ferengi ship christened The 62nd Rule, in reference to the Rules of Acquisition that wouldn't come up until Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Live Action TV
Surprisingly, there is a lot of continuity porn in the sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The season 6 finale featured a lot of callbacks to previous episodes showing Sweet Dee's ex-boyfriends and the gang trying to discover who the father of her baby is. The two part season 7 finale being a high school reunion ties back to almost every character introduced (or mentioned) on the show who went to high school with the gang.
The 8th season episode "The Gang Recycles Their Trash" recycles various plots from previous episodes, all while the characters comment on how they're covering old ground and try to do things differently this time. Many of the associated jokes are re-done with a new twist.
"Planet of the Daleks" has a whole bunch of scenes referencing "The Daleks" and "The Daleks' Master Plan" with little explanation, stories from ten years ago before the age of home video or even novelisations.
Some pinpoint the first major Fan Wank moment in the Classic series as being the Fifth Doctor's post-regeneration trauma causing him to go through impressions of all four previous Doctors in "Castrovalva". There's a similar, more compressed moment in "The Mysterious Planet" when the Sixth Doctor, after being knocked out, reverts to the Fourth Doctor's personality for a little while until snapping out of it. Most recently, a Cyberman duplicate of the Eleventh Doctor glitched out and began acting like the Second, Third and Fourth Doctors before snapping out of it.
In modern Who, "Turn Left" and "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End", which referenced nigh-on every significant alien invasion of Earth from four series since the show was revived in 2005. Even many obsessive fans of the new series were a bit confused.
In the same vein, the whole conjoined era of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors was brought to a close in 2010's Season Finale"The End of Time", which was not only fairly Continuity Porn-heavy as a whole but concluded with a pure, unadulterated ten-minute slab of the stuff just to emotionally revisit a whole string of the era's main characters one last time.
This is despite "new" Doctor Who taking deliberate steps to avoid Continuity Porn when the programme was first brought back, by reintroducing its previous incarnation's 26 years of continuity only slowly and selectively.
And then there's spinoff show The Sarah Jane Adventures serial "Death of the Doctor", which is hardcore fetish Continuity Porn despite being not actually a Doctor Who episode. (And it's in a kids' show, ironically.) It's two half-hour episodes consisting almost entirely of references to classic Who, with former character Jo Grant brought back to star alongside Sarah Jane Smith 37 1/2 years since she last played the Doctor's onscreen companion. This culminated in scriptwriter Russell T Davies stopping the action dead just before the closing credits to allow Sarah Jane to fill us all in on what classic companions were doing, including Ian, Barbara, Harry, Tegan, and Ace. The target audience had no idea who these people were — but fans of the classic series did. Heartwarming ensued.
Buffy was better in this domain, but sometimes some episodes followed directly the Angel ones. Which wasn't that bad in the original run because the recap segment also recapped the Angel episodes. But if you're watching on DVD and don't remember the Angel episode it goes with, you're a bit lost.
Season 8 of Charmed had a big stream of references to past episodes. The Seven Deadly Sins and Grams' cursed wedding ring were used against the sisters again in one of the last episodes, Greg Piper's brief fireman boyfriend from season 6 made a guest appearance, Billie references both Barbus and the B-plot of "Ex Libris" to make a criminal confess, the sisters get trapped inside the dollhouse again, the Angel of Destiny shows up as do the Elders and the Avatars and Phoebe gets a big flashback to her previous love lives. Then there's the whole Back for the Finale thing.
LOST gives us quite a lot in the last two seasons because of all the Aborted Arcs that left mysteries unresolved. Some of the more offending examples are the dismissively offhand revelations that the mysterious whispers in the jungle are dead people, the bird that cries "Hurley" was genetically modified by Dharma scientists, and that JACOB HAD A THING FOR NUMBERS. These examples clearly fall under the category that serves no purpose to the plot.
Conversely, the show is replete with episodes that manage to advance the plot while filling in the deliberate blanks quite satisfactorily. Most of season 5 attempts this using time travel, and episodes like "Across the Sea" make good use of the show's trademark flashback plot device.
How I Met Your Mother often ventures into this territory, invariably forcing Alyson Hannigan to put on a wig for the hair color she had in a particular season during a flashback. Justified in that the narrator is one of the characters, looking back with nostalgia.
Community uses its ensemble cast to full effect. Masterfully subverted in a clip show that wasn't a clip show, creating continuity porn with episodes that never happened.
Los Simuladores: Former clients of the guys appear in every episode taking part in the drills.
Smallville, having gone for ten years or so, has done this several times. Most notably, the episode "Abyss" has many flashbacks and changes to Chloe's memories of past episodes, and scenes that took place before the series, but were mentioned.
Season ten in general borders on this. The wiki even started to have a "Homages to Previous Seasons" section on the episode articles.
The Grand Finale is made of this, including two very long flashbacks of Lex and Clark.
The Shield featured a continuity-heavy episode, "Co-Pilot", that exists for no other reason than to fill in plot holes and continuity errors no one had asked for (as well as give the show's makeup team time to figure out how they would depict Strike Team member Ronnie Gardocki's facial disfigurement). The episode, set weeks before the actual pilot, brought back most of the supporting characters who had died over the course of the first and second season (including Connie, the hooker who was killed two episodes prior, and Detective Terry Crowley, whose death motivated the entire series), cleared up unanswered questions from the first season and explained how the entire cast got to be where they are.
The fifth season of The Wire does this in an attempt to wrap up the entire series and touch as many of its dizzying plotlines and characters as possible. Former one-shot characters (like Jeff Price, the reporter who had a single appearance in season 3) become main characters, while other major/supporting characters (down to some of the dock workers and Russians in season 2, and a one-scene character from a season 1 episode) show up to further various subplots. There are also entire story threads that were filmed solely to emphasize continuity with previous seasons - a key resolution of the final case is the discovery of a character's saliva sample from the previous season, which is emphasized when a cop visits the Baltimore morgue (which hadn't been seen since Season 3) to discuss his findings.
The final episode of Desperate Housewives. Season eight started with a book endCall Back in the form of a note that originally drove Mary Alice to suicide, but the double-length Finale really takes the cake. Not only does it feature Mary Alice and Martha Huber in a flashback opening, but it also makes numerous references to the earlier plotlines, brings several characters back, including a one-shot character that met Lynette randomly at the supermarket in the very FIRST episode (and discussed choosing family over career with her both times). Then at the end of the episode we see a huge Continuity Cavalcade including just about every character that died during the series.
The series finale of Seinfeld featured the main four in court, bringing as witnesses nearly every minor character ever introduced in the series. Including the Soup Nazi, whose name is revealed to be Yev Kassem.
Notably the fourth season episode "The Road Not Taken" deconstructed Noodle Incidents and seemingly meaningless footnotes originating in earlier episodes, by developing them into more complex stories, notoriously about Louie's stint as a cabbie (seen in "Memories of Cab 804"), Reverend Jim's semester at Harvard (first mentioned in "Going Home") and how Alex lost a lucrative job and a family, finally getting into the cab business (mentioned in various episodes).
A more specific (and longer) example involves Alex's aforementioned family. The Pilot Episode involves him driving to Miami to see his daughter Cathy, whom he hasn't seen for fifteen years, an event he mentioned two years later after he finds out he wasn't invited to Cathy's wedding by his ex-wife Phyllis (who even recalled how many years had passed after the last time she had seen Alex), whose weight gain was referenced a year later when they crossed paths once again after she was divorced by her second husband, who made a restraining order against her the following Christmas.
The writers take Wizards of Waverly Place's continuity very seriously, as seen in Season 3. Although, they sometimes attempt this so much that they tend to mix things up. Justin confusing the Edgebono Utoosis spell with another is one example. In "Future Harper", Max refers to a pet lizard that ran away, with Alex and Justin inferring that it died. Later, in "Max's Secret Girlfriend", Max's dead lizard is his most loved possession.
Mason is a product of this. In "Future Harper", the Future Harper asks Alex if she had broken up with Mason yet. Alex looks confused, and nothing more was said about the subject. Guess who shows up later on?
Future Harper seems to be the hub for all plans, because she wrote books based on Alex's wizard adventures. Dozens of episodes later, regular Harper began to write a book based on Alex's life.
In the Grand Finale, there is plenty of Call Back to previous episodes, and there are a lot of spells that are used in this episode that have shown up throughout the entire show.
When The Police got back together to remake 'Don't Stand So Close To Me', the Music Video featured primarily excerpts from prior Police videos. The other components are either CGI of Police-related items and features, and the Police themselves standing and rotating (although Sting's costume is cute..as well as what's in the costume, too). At least among the videos were bits from the original song's video.
Done by necessity rather than choice: the original idea had been for the group to begin their reformation by making a whole album of old songs revisited, but in the event they got on so badly that only one track was completed for release, and when it came to doing a video they refused to appear in it together.
blink-182 in their video for "Man Overboard", use "What's My Age Again?", "All the Small Things" and "Adam's Song" as nightmares.
The Beatles: listen to the lyrics in "Glass Onion" (Queen would do the same on "Soul Brother").
In the music video for "Free as a Bird" as well.
Done in Barenaked Ladies' "Thanks, That Was Fun". The video (made in 2005) references 15 years of the band's career, including all of their music videos, as well as live performances. The video clip also uses digital trickery to make it look as if singers Steven Page and Ed Robertson are "singing" the lyrics to this song in their older works - done by using CGI to move their mouths to match the new lyrics.
Also used in Alanis Morissette's "Three Easy Steps" video. It even references videos from her "pre-Jagged Little Pill" period, and goes so far as to reference You Can't Do That on Television, which she appeared on long before her music career.
Funeral for a Friend have spent most of their career paying homage to their early EPs and their first album Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation. Their 2007 EP The Great Wide Open features both their first two EPs played live in full, and their old logo from 2003 made a reappearance on their best of compilation Your History Is Mine in 2009. Their 2008 album Memory And Humanity features a reworked version of this logo and it also has similar Scenery Porn for its album cover. Their 2011 album Welcome Home Armageddon features a song called Old Hymns, which seems to be about how fans take the band's early work religiously and no matter what they do people will always compare their new stuff to it. It is in a similar musical style to that album, as well. It was even released on the label who released their EPs and first album, who they rejoined with for it.
When Five Iron Frenzy (known in part for their joke songs) released what was then planned to be their final album, it included the track "This is how the story ends" giving endings/resolutions to all their joke songs/characters.
Judas Priest's 2005 album Angel of Retribution is littered with this, with at least half the songs strewn with citations of lyrics from past Priest songs, frankly to the point of self-plagiarization. This also happened as early as 1990, with the Painkiller song "All Guns Blazing" containing the lyric "sad wings that Heaven sent", which is a clear Call Back to the very early Priest album Sad Wings of Destiny, which in 1976 (the year of its initial release) was recorded solely with a small record label in Britain. In fact, you could say that the metallic "Angel" who serves as the mascot of Angel of Retribution is practically a reincarnation of the Fallen Angel who appeared on the cover of Sad Wings of Destiny 29 years earlier!
The KLF went a bit nuts with this. The single and video "Justified And Ancient (Stand By The JAMs)" in particular manages to throw just about every Running Gag, Author Catchphrase, Arc Word and Recurring Riff into the pot and the video chucks in a whole bunch of clips from previous videos as well. And that's before you take into account all the additional references to guest star Tammy Wynnette's career...
CHIKARA's Wham Episode at their Season 9 finale pulled the pin on a storyline at least two years in the making. Initial plotpoints that were dismissed as some oddity (a last minute contract negotiation in September 2007, one confusing end to a match two months later UltraMantis Black seemingly missing his man's opponent and knocking out his own man, then not showing any surprise], the rather unexplained disappearance of Chris Hero after the following show, a supernatural-themed site becoming a website sponsor in 2008/2009) were all tied together and then elaborated on in the following months.
A big part of the problem with Vince Russo's writing style is his inconsistent wavering between Continuity Porn and Canon Discontinuity. In order to appreciate many of Russo's storylines, you must remember exactly what he wants you to remember (even if it goes back to the '80s), and forget exactly what he doesn't want you to remember (even if it happened three months ago).
WWE celebrated the 1000th episode of Raw in 2012, and about ten episodes before that, the company busted out a floodgate of continuity, bringing back old wrestlers, managers, storylines, and the like.
Long story short, The Bible is probably the only example on this list which has thousands of essays, hundreds of books, and entire university courses dedicated to analyzing the sheer tidal wave of Call Backs and Continuity Nods and what they all mean. Of course, when the most deeply-held beliefs of millions about the origins and meaning of existence are based in large part on the meanings of those call backs and continuity nods, you can justify that ocean of ink.
BIONICLE ventured into this area from time to time, the most noteworthy example being the two-year flashback story of the Metru Nui Saga. Various other Flashbacks had a tendency to become this, though to some, they may have lead to a Continuity Lockout, especially if they referenced minor side-stories.
A major complaint about Metal Gear Solid 4 is that a lot of the story falls between this and Continuity Lockout; containing references and themes from even the games on the MSX; bringing back minor dangling plot threads and references as MacGuffins, Applied Phlebotinum, and Chekhovs Guns; and fitting in fanservice cameos from almost every character who wasn't confirmed dead - as well as a couple of fanservice cameos from characters who were. Even a lot of the camera angles and character motions were lifted from previous games as blink-and-you'll-miss-it symbolism for the kind of hardcore fans who'd memorised every single cutscene. Of course, to some extent this was the whole point of the game, as it was designed to wrap the whole series up.
Mortal Kombat had at least four examples of this: the Konquest mode of Deception (which was quickly thrown into Canon Discontinuity despite a halfway-decent attempt to explain Where Are They Now for each of the forgotten characters), Armageddon (which was what Deception's Konquest Mode would've been if They Just Didn't Care), Annihilation (which tried to cram as many character references as possible, to the detriment of the plot), and Conquest (with a C, which gave several mortal characters Identical Grandfathersjust so fans of the show can see them despite being 500 years before they were technically supposed to appear). And one has to wonder why people say plot doesn't matter in an MK game...
Though any newcomer can jump into The Legend of Zelda at any point without having to know what the general plot is for the series, they won't experience the deep appreciation a longtime fan will have over all the subtle references to previous games.
Sonic Chronicles was one of these. It had references to various games and cartoons, including: Chili Dogs, Swat-bots from SatAm, the use of the name "Robotnik" (something which hadn't been mentioned for a while), old level names re-used, recycled sound effects and (poorly emulated) re-used music from old games, old badniks in the backgrounds, an old Mega Drive in a background, a reference to Amy's tarot card reading (which was a plot point in the Sonic the Hedgehog CDinstruction manual that was long since forgotten), a nod to Sonic X (Tails' workshop contains a plantpot, arguably with Cosmo's seed in it), an explanation of the gizoids and Emerl, an evil albino echidna (just like the two separate evil albino echidnas from the Archieand Fleetway comics) and an ending which mirrors the opening plot of Sonic the Comic.
Sonic Generations is also continuity porn. It features levels from almost every major title in the series, with many references to (and elements such as level gimmicks from) levels within that didn't make it, musical nods and remixes, and tiny little details that only the most dedicated fans would notice. It also features both the current and the old Sonic models.
''Fire Emblem Awakening Invokes this to LUDICROUS levels, to the point of fans saying [justhereforgodzilla/Play for references, not for the game]. Most of the Regalia (Super Power weapons) return with revamped appearences, And the characters from past titles appear in DLC, with an entire CLASS dedicated to Marth. The fact that 49% of it all is a series of references to games that WERE NEVER RELEASED IN AMERICA that fans get just goes to show how dedicated the FE community is.
The Halo series has gotten pretty insane about this in the later games, as more and more elements from the Expanded Universe are brought in. Even disregarding that, each game seems to assume that you've played the previous releases; this is particularly apparent in with regards to Halo 3, since it was originally intended to be part of the same game as Halo 2.
Halo 3: ODST is somewhat better about this than the other games, despite being technically an expansion pack; it contains an opening scroll that explains the backstory a bit, and has a fairly self-contained plot. You'll still need to play the other games to understand who Sergeant Johnson is, what an "Elite" is and why everyone is shocked to find them being killed by Brutes, as well as the meaning of The Stinger if the player beats the game on Legendary.
Halo also has the dubious honor of being a series where someone who only has partial knowledge about the expanded universe will often be more confused than someone who has no knowledge about it. For example, most of Halo: Reach's apparent contradictions with earlier EU material are perfectly explainable...but only if one has read Dr. Halsey's journal, the 2010 and 2011 reprints of The Fall Of Reach (which contain several retcons and bonus sections intended to smooth over the original 2001 version's contradictions with later canon), Halo Waypoint's Data Drops, andthis message from LCDR Kurt Ambrose to SCPO Franklin Mendez.
This comes to a head with Halo 4; several players had trouble understanding a large number of major plot points because they did not read the Halo 3 terminals, the Kilo-Five Trilogy, or The Forerunner Saga. 4's terminals do help clarify some issues for people not familiar with the EU, but even those tend to be missed by a lot of players.
Star Trek Online is filled with continuity nods of various degrees, from meeting Tom Paris' and Belanna Torres' kid, to referencing Spock's disappearance prior to the new Trek movie.
Ace Attorney Investigations doesn't even try to disguise the fact that it assumes you've played at least the entire Phoenix Arc. Besides starring several major supporting characters from said games, cameos and background gags abound throughout every case, most of which will not make any sense whatsoever if you haven't already beaten most of the series.
Ace Attorney is oddly attached to its first game more than the others in more than a few ways. While it is good at referencing every game in the set, especially when it comes to major characters (spot the future reference to Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney in AAI Case 3!), the first game is the one they tend to turn to if they need a random minor character, callback piece of background music, or gag.
Tom Clancy's End War lives and breathes this trope, as numerous organizations and characters are present in the game and narrative without being given any proper explanation. You are expected to know who Third Echelon, Team Rainbow, the H.A.W.X. aircraft and The Ghosts are. Better yet, this is the canoncial continuation for the JSF's leader, Captain Scott Mitchell, who was last seen near death in Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2.
In Command & Conquer: Kane's Wrath, one of the campaign missions has the player character leading an attack on an enemy base in South Africa. Early in the mission, one of the player's soldiers remarks that the battlefield "feels familiar...almost as if [he'd] fought here before...". The final mission of the Nod Campaign in the first Command and Conquer game took place in South Africa...and was set fifty years before the events of Kane's Wrath.
The entire game is a Continuity Porno; featuring the long, lost, forgotten character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, that only the biggest of animation fanatics would have known about before hand, characters that were one-offs or used sparingly (IE The Lonesome Ghosts), levels based on Mickey Mouse, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and a Pluto cartoon, old rides, nevermind the fact that the world is based on Disneyland, and creator Warren Spector claims almost everything in the game is from Disney's history.
The cutscenes of Transformers: Call Of The Future (placed in The Transformers cartoon continuity) mention events of the TV series anytime they can.
This glorious tradition is followed by Transformers: War for Cybertron - while it is, in theory, rebooting continuity, in practice, the designers were clearly homaging the G1 material of their childhoods heavily.
Fallout: New Vegas is full of continuity porn. Most overtly it references Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, particularly 2. Old characters, settlements, events, and groups are mentioned. Old characters show up on NCR bank notes and old symbols appear on flags or walls. The game even delves into the backstory of pre-war factions like RobCo electronics is explored. However, the bulk of continuity porn is actually references to cut content. Most of the setup, factions and history are cribbed from a never-finished version of Fallout 3 which shares several designers with New Vegas. Cut enemies from Fallout 2 have appeared in promotional clips for downloadable content.
Additionally, it can be difficult to deduce that New Vegas is even post-apocalyptic for the first several hours. Unlike the sealed Vault of Fallout 3 followed by its "Scenic Overlook', most of the Mojave either never was inhabited or has been rebuilt.
Only if you don't count in all the abandoned locations or ramshackle building made out of scrap... It's still post apocalyptic, only over 200 (that's two hundred) years after the apocalipse. One would expect humanity to finally get around to the whole "rebuilding civilisation" buisnesess so long after. In that aspect, it's fairly similar to Fallout 2.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution revels in this. To note, the game begins with references to two of the villains from the first game and a leitmotif that references the original UNATCO theme, and ends with a secret conversation that namedrops the eventual head of the Illuminati and a virus that may become the plague from the first game. Left and right, you'll find important names being dropped, foreshadowing of future events discussed, and concepts that the original game had in their infancy.
In the demo for Space Quest 6, several mementos from previous games can be found in Roger's quarters.
In the Sam & Max video games by Telltale, each successive mission earns the duo at least a few souveniers of their past adventure in their office. At first this is mostly limited to bits and pieces of their former foes they lock in a closet, but during the second season of episodes, extra souveniers start showing up in the office itself (like a whack-a-rat minigame) and the whole place is enormously, ridiculously cluttered soon. Recurring character Sybil Pandemik has her own version of this: she keeps changing jobs and her office never fully gets rid of old memorabilia.
The Super Smash Bros. series, especially Brawl are this for the entire Nintendo company in the form of a fighting game.
Mass Effect 3 is this. One of the many advertised attractions of the game is attention paid to the literal thousands of flags which mark your various decisions in the first two games, not to mention the dozens upon dozens of Shout Outs,Mythology Gags and Ascended Memes. The Conrad Verner sidequest is probably the penultimate example, as it tracks a half-dozen completely unrelated and non-mandatory sidequests from the first game and scrambles them all together.
Tales of Graces as the sort-of-10th anniversary game, verges on this in comparison to the rest of the series. While the Tales Series always has lots of in-jokes, Graces takes this to hilarious extremes. Some enemies rip their names right from other games. The ultimate weapons in Graces f are all ripped from game titles as well, designed to evoke the games in question, and contain references in their descriptions. There are the standard Cameo Bosses and cameo costumes, etcetera. There are subtler references too: Sophie asks Hubert if he wears glasses because his eyes are "dangerous," which is exactly why Jade Curtiss wears glasses, and Malik's "right into next week!" battle quote is lifted from Tales of Vesperia. Where it gets ridiculous is in things like the absurd statue of Kratos in Barona and the Magic Carta minigame, which lets you collect cards of characters from previous games. Not only are the more popular characters - like Jade, or Zelos - expensive or difficult to find, but it's much easier to win the Magic Carta game if you're familiar with the previous titles. Relatively ambiguous quotes like "Intend to? I already have" stick out much more if you know their context. And the reward for beating this game? Cameo costumes!
Rockman 4 Minus Infinity goes overboard in the sheer amount of references to other Mega Man games, including borrowing stage gimmicks and bosses (in addition to referencing other games frequently as well).
Saints Row IV is this to the entire Saints Row franchise. Not only does it bring back characters that are long since dead, it even brings separate versions of the same character. Helped by the fact that most of the game takes place in what is essentially the Matrix. It even has a cameo by the default player character of the first game. You can kill him.
In the Doctor Who video game The Eternity Clock, various hats that can be found for the Eleventh Doctor to wear count as this, being an extensive list of everything the Doctor has ever worn on his head over the entire fifty-year run of the show at that point. The Eleventh Doctor even comments on his taste in fashion at the time - suggesting that the reason his First incarnation was "in such a bad mood" was because his hat was itchy, and remarking that when he wore the wine-red fedora favoured by the Fourth Doctor towards the end of his life he had a thing about wearing lots of red.
The Elder Scrolls simultaneously subverts this and plays it straight, in that each game in the series generally has in-game books referencing and explaining the events of the previous game, but not only has a plot independent of previous games, but can actually use the time-warping effects endemic to the setting ("Dragon Breaks") to contradict details revealed in past games (the most egregious example being the retconning of the central province of Cyrodil previously described as an Equatorial Rainforest in promotional materials, to a more traditional European-style fantasy setting.)
The WarcraftExpanded Universe novel War Games, featuring the trial of Garrosh Hellscream, has the Bronze Dragonflight using a device to allow the court to see specific events as they happened. During the course of the book we are shown images of scenes from both the video game proper and previous books as far back as Lord of the Clans at least.
The Bronze Dragonflight serves as justification for this in World of Warcraft itself as well, particularly in the Caverns of Time. While there are some changes (someone is trying to mess with the Timeline, after all), the instances found there reference events across the entire EU.
And then there's the cartoon "hremail #7". It exists to provide an origin story for the Strong Bad Email shorts and to parody the early years of the Homestar Runner website (the artwork is a pseudo-reversion to their earlier art style, and the jokes reference many abandoned early running gags). However, as the H*R wiki is quick to point out, the cartoon actually contradicts many prior cartoons.
The "EVERYBODY DO THE FLOP" music video of the asdfmovie canon features every primary character in the series.
Parodied in Narbonic, with "Continuity Repairs with Rob & Andy".
Happens quite a bit during the "bROKEN" arc from Sluggy Freelance. It seems like practically every strip for months on end has a footnote linking back to the past strips it references, some of which haven't been mentioned for nearly a decade.
This was probably because bROKEN's plot was planned to air far earlier than a decade. A similar problem occurs in El Goonish Shive's Sister 2 storyline. It stands to reason that a surprise ending delayed for years is no longer a surprise, but webcomics are written seat-of-your-pants that it's easy to lose control. In the end, it's just as much the author's fault as though they had done it on purpose.
A noteworthy example is Bob & George. So much weird stuff happens all the damn time that it's impossible for everything to work. And it still does. Nothing happens by accident, everything is explained, everything fits. David Anez is a god when it comes to retconning.
The final arc of Casey and Andy has things that wrap up every odd little throwaway gag for years, including odd things about their neighbor Jen, and why a deceased president hates them.
It's Walky! spin-off Shortpacked! intentionally avoided this for much of its run, due to the latter having a much different tone. This let Shortpacked! stand on its own as a comic about a toy store. In later strips, however, David Willis has started including more and more connections, cameos and guest-stars from the parent strip, often having to use his accompanying commentary to explain things to new readers.
As in most of the MS Paint Adventures comics. Problem Sleuth is also extremely confusing unless read from the beginning.
Hussie lampshades this in the commentary of the books, saying at one point that he was going to include a Callback Zone but then reasoned even he wouldn't be able to catch all of them, and at another point saying this:
Chekhov's Mop Bucket is used later by John in a prank involving Gushers. Also, Chekov's Every Single Story Detail plays a key role in the future as well. Keep an eye out for it.
The Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Return of Batgirl" is a minor example. It contains a number of references to earlier episodes that don't relate directly to the plot, which stands out in a series that is far more episodic than later DCAU series. This is just one of the elements that make the episode feel more like a fanfic episode that happened to get produced.
Any scene with Bat-Mite is subject to this to various degrees.
Even more so in Mite Fall which has a cameo appearance of just about every character that ever appeared in the show and references to just about every Batman incarnation. Even way back when Batman used guns.
Same goes for Young Justice. Every minor hero or villain introduced seems to have been chosen to make some fan somewhere happy.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. The movie does its best to introduce all its characters and plot points for novice viewers, but unless you've watched the Justice League show and are a long time DC comic reader, half the movie will go straight over your head.
The Allspark Allmanac is a continuity porno if there ever was one. A reference to a magazine-contest-winning fancharacter in the 80s in Japan, never featured in a story ever? Sure, why not?
Transformers Animated itself is at least a continuity pink film. While there'll be no Continuity Lockout if you aren't a day-one TF-aholic, if you are one (but not a GEEWUNner) you'll enjoy the onslaught of references, injokes, and ironic twists on past characters and lines.
And Transformers Prime is ramping up to do the same. It's set in a new "Universe" referred to in-house as the Aligned continuity, which includes War for Cybertron, the novel Exodus, Fall of Cybertron, and the Prime cartoon... so far. There are plans to add more very soon, and a main selling point of it is a new, overarching story that will incorporate elements of previous stories in a way to make the vast majority of fans happy. And it's working.
Moral Orel, despite being an 11-minute claymation comedy series, has plenty. Orel has a poster for a band mentioned in episode one, and the entire basis for season 3 is a single, seemingly throw-away musical episode.
This happens a lot in Moral Orel, more so as it goes on. Dino says early on he didn't care much about continuity (an early episode has Nurse Bendy referred to as "Nurse Blinkless"). Considering the last season is in Anachronic Order (most of it is happening prior to the season 2 finale). Lots of continuity hints even tend to be in the background, such as Miss Sculptham's newspaper clippings.
The Venture Bros. is loaded with this. Minor throw-away gags and pop culture references in one episode end up being the entire basis of episodes and new characters in later episodes.
Phineas and Ferb. A lot of references are made to minor gags, characters, events, and places seen earlier in the series.
Special mention must go to the hour-long special "Summer Belongs To You." The Continuity Nods flew as fast as the group did — and they went around the world in a day.
Roller coaster the musical turns this Up to Eleven. Some of the bigger examples include one of Candace's songs listing a ton of the things that Phineas and Ferb had done up to that point and the finale song which features almost every character that had ever appeared in the show.
If Rollercoaster: The Musical turns it up to eleven, then Across the Second Dimension cranks it up past thirteen. Not only do continuity nods proliferate the work, but many become significant plot points or action sequences, and the climax is a continuity orgy every bit as big as the end of Rollercoaster: The Musical, except this time it has the benefit of not breaking the fourth wall to do it.
Frisky Dingo does this so much that in one episode the part that says previously on Frisky Dingo just has Killface saying if you want to know what happened I recommend iTunes.
The episode "A New Leaf" of Sponge Bob Square Pants, where Mr. Krabs throws Plankton's most recent invention into a room filled with every other invention he used earlier in the series.
In one episode of Gravity Falls, Dipper and Mabel steal a time machine from time traveler Blendin Blandin, and end up travelling through various time periods by accident, including the first three episodes of the series. At the end of the episode Blendin has to go back in time and pick up all the things Dipper and Mabel dropped and fix the various time paradoxes he caused. If you look closely in past episodes, he's there in the background picking up stuff they dropped before the episode even aired.
Ben 10: Omniverse is a borderline orgy of Continuity Nods to the the original Ben 10 series; the show is cut with flashbacks about adventures of 10 years old Ben back to the original series era, the characters were redesigned to look more like their original series counterparts, and old aliens and characters are brought back (the Megawhatts, an early threat from the original show, are brought back right in the third episode). This is from the guy who made Transformers Animated after all.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The season 3 episode "Magic Duel" not only brings back fan favorite Trixie Lulamoon, but officially canonizes both the fandom's use of the term "alicorn" to describe winged unicorns like Celestia and Luna and the Fandom Specific Plot of Trixie being made into a laughingstock after the events of "Boast Busters" (even working on Pinkie Pie's family rock farm) and seeking revenge on Twilight, and then, aside from the winning age spell, every spell cast in the initial duel is a reference to a prior episode (including "Boast Busters", "Winter Wrap-Up", "Over a Barrel", and "Swarm of the Century").