Like a Story Arc
, but longer—spanning the entire series
The term originated with The X-Files
(whose writers referred to its alien conspiracy episodes as "mythology episodes," a term which itself has fallen into common usage), though Babylon 5
is probably a better example of an effective Myth Arc
. Comparing The X-Files
to Babylon 5
provides an object lesson in the value of knowing where you're headed when you set up a large-scale arc: both series had slow-building (often season-spanning) stories, but Babylon 5
would eventually resolve its stories while The X-Files
' overarching plot just got strung along further and further, until—in what's now called The Chris Carter Effect
—its viewers lost confidence that the plots would ever be resolved.
In some shows—such as the aforementioned series—the trend is to alternate between Myth Arc
stories and Monster of the Week
episodes, making it easier for new viewers to get into the show and ensuring some short-term gratification while keeping the viewer's interest over the long run. However, heavily arc-based shows
show that the American public is willing to invest their time over longer periods too.
series very often have arcs running the entirety of their series, which can span hundreds of episodes, with examples such as Super Dimension Fortress Macross
, Neon Genesis Evangelion
, Martian Successor Nadesico
, various Gundam
(which had a Myth Arc from the very first episode), and others. The predominance of such arc-based plotting in anime (many of which were introduced to foreign audiences in the mid 90s), as opposed to the generally episodic nature of American TV series of the 80s and 90s, is part of what led to the massive rise in anime's popularity with the nerd-core at that time, and many suspect that the development of multiple Myth Arc-based shows on American television in the 2000s was a reaction to that.
Can lead to a Continuity Lock-Out
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Anime and Manga
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes has one of these.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion has the war on the Angels, which is later revealed to be a small part of SEELE's Human Instrumentality Project.
- The Macross franchise, in addition to having individual arcs in its shows, possesses several myth arcs that run throughout the franchise, including learning more about the Protoculture and the origins of mankind and the Zentraedi, and finding worlds to replace the seriously damaged Earth.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann starts off as an episodic action/adventure/mecha series following a small band of rebels fighting the Beastmen, who had driven humanity underground. After a mindblowing plot twist followed by some significant Character Development, the series developed into a full-blown war-story. However, after a Time Skip, it is revealed that the war was nothing more than a tiny part of the whole picture.
- The modern remake of Bubblegum Crisis, subtitled Tokyo: 2040 significantly differed from its predecessor in having a significantly developed myth arc, as opposed to the prior's tendency towards single episodes and two-parters at most.
- Naruto started off with a single, largely free-standing arc; the second arc kicked off a Myth Arc that has dominated the storyline (at least in the manga) ever since, with more and more getting added and making it even more complicated. Even the events of the first arc later come back.
- The main myth arc of One Piece is Luffy's quest to become the Pirate King, which starts in the first chapter. Another one starting later in the series revolves around the conflicts between the main powers of the world, how the main characters' actions affect the balance, and the secret history of the world (and just how far some will go to keep it that way).
- Dragon Ball had quite a few. The first were Goku's tail and unexplained powers and the Dragon Balls themselves, which were both introduced in the very first arc, but weren't resolved until Dragon Ball Z. There was another relating to the shared history of Piccolo and Kami, one involving Son Goku's gradual ascension into the mythical Super Saiyan, and one involving Son Gohan's hidden powers.
- Ash's goal To Be a Master in the Pokémon anime. In each and every saga.
- Detective Conan, the protagonist is turned into a child by poison and seeks to punish those responsible.
- Cowboy Bebop, while mostly episodic, has two basic plots running through the whole series: Faye's search for her past and identity, but most importantly, the full story of Spike's life as a mobster and his lost love, Julia.
- And from the same creator, Samurai Champloo has the search for the Sunflower Samurai.
- Bleach: Since the beginning, scattered information suggested the existence of a Myth Arc. However, its true coherence doesn't become clear until the Thousand-Year Blood-War Arc. Word of God confirmed this final arc is what every other story arc was preparing for. Elements include: Aizen's activities, Urahara's activities, Soul Society's Black and Gray Morality, Yamamoto's rigid sense of justice, the Shinigami-Quincy wars, the fundamental nature of the Hollow threat, Ichigo's constantly-fluctuating shinigami development. And so on.
- Haruhi Suzumiya alternates between enthralling plots and (usually) comedic side stories. (The novels are either a full story divided into chapters, or full off short stories)
- Shaman King does this when, sometime between the end of Season 1 and the start of Season 3, the focus of the series leaves the Shaman Fight entirely and delves off into exploring Hao's involvement in his third consecutive Shaman Fight, at each of which he attempted to steal the Great Spirit, as well as Hao being Yoh's Evil Twin. In fact, the series ends before the Shaman King is even decided.
- It didn't exactly end, it just went on an extremely long and sudden Series Hiatus (the manga, anyway; the anime concluded with a vague Gecko Ending). The final issues have just been recently published.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! had the history of the Pharaoh, Millennium Items, and the Shadow Games that advanced with each Story Arc until its conclusion at the end of the series.
- Code Geass contains an on-and-off form of Myth Arc revolving around the true nature of the Geass power. This arc begins arguably in the first episode, when Lelouch receives Geass, but the implications of the power are almost always overshadowed by the Britannian/Eleven conflict and Lelouch's search for the truth about his mother's death. The Geass Arc comes into its own later when Mao appears. Mao cannot turn off his Geass, foreshadowing that Lelouch's Geass will also become uncontrollable. The Geass Arc effectively ends in Episode 21 of R2, when Lelouch brings his Geass it to its final permanent binocular form in order to use Geass on the World of C, ultimately destroying the Thought Elevator and killing both Charles and Marianne. Later on, when Lelouch, Suzaku, and C.C. return from the World of C, emerging in the Schneizel Arc, Lelouch finally catches up to all the second-guessing and criticism thrown at him behind his back while he was busy during the Geass arc.
- The whole plot of Death Note is all one Myth Arc: Light, or Kira, attempting to kill L and later his successors and L attempting to arrest Kira. Plans wrote this manga.
- Slayers is pretty good at alternating between Myth Arc and filler episodes. While each season will have one story arc spanning it, the three story arcs are intricately connected and form one very long plot.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! has Negi's search for his Disappeared Dad. It doesn't really become central until around volume 6, which is naturally where the anime adaptation cut off.
- Vinland Saga has Thorfinn's dreams of Vinland and the phrase "somewhere not here".
- Despite the first chapters of Fullmetal Alchemist looking like your usual shonen Adventure Towns, the whole manga is one long and steady Myth Arc, going out of its way to explain how the homunculi, Father, Hohenheim, the Gate of Truth, Amestris, and the destruction of Xerxes are all intertwined, ultimately leading up to Father's current plan of using the souls in Amestris to summon God. The author has actually said the ending for the story was the first thing she came up with, and then worked backwards from there.
- The 2003 anime version has a different myth arc of its own: Dante and her attempts to create a philosopher's stone to permit a Body Surf.
- All of the recurring story lines in Detective Conan fall under this.
- Monster: the goal to capture Johann Liebert, naturally.
- Also Tenma's quest to understand who Johann is, and Nina's attempt to make sense of her past.
- Pretty much the entire first season of Eureka Seven is just foreshadowing for the second half of the series and getting to know the characters.
- Specifically there are quite a few myth arcs in this series: Gekkostate's war with the United Federation, which is related to the conflict between Holland and Dewey Novak, the implied Love Dodecahedron between Renton, Eureka, Holland, and Talho (it's complicated), Dominic's love for Anemone, Anemone's descent into madness as a result of piloting The END, Eureka's physical and emotional metamorphosis, and most importantly, the growing relationship between Renton and Eureka, which is related to the scub coral and their attempts to communicate with mankind.
- Noir, as mentioned above, had a Myth Arc from the very first episode, which covered Mireille and Kirika's investigation of the Ancient Conspiracy of the "Soldats". At first, the series devoted much of its time to Target Of The Week episodes, but the Myth Arc gradually intensified, eventually completely eclipsing the assassins plot.
- Madlax similarly had a Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy Myth Arc with The Syndicate of Enfant at its center. The investigation of Enfant completely eclipsed the Mission Of The Week and Slice of Life routine by episode 10, but it wasn't until episode 18 that all Plot Threads converged into the main plot.
- El Cazador de la Bruja had a Myth Arc regarding the Government Conspiracy called Project Leviathan, of which Ellis was a test subject. It isn't until the final 4-5 episodes that the series abandons its episodic nature to start resolving the Myth Arc.
- Every season of Digimon has a myth arc, but especially Digimon Tamers which had the season begin with Calumon's arrival into the human world and deeper into the season we find he's the catalyst for Digimon evolution—not that constant clues weren't given throughout the season.
- Fairy Tail has the dragons' disappearance (and the number 7) which it will occasionally throw a tidbit out for. So far they've reaffirmed the date they all vanished, hinted that Dragon Slayers shouldn't actually exist, and even had a dragon sighting, but the heroes are too busy getting into all kinds of weird crap to follow up on this. Until the direct involvement of seven dragons being brought from the past and seven Dragon Slayers fighting them, and later they meet one of them in the present again.
- Another myth arc is about the dark wizard Zeref, who seems ever closer to bringing chaos about for every arc that passes by.
- Saiyuki is a Myth Arc inside a Myth Arc. For the entire first series, the only visible arc is the four heroes' quest to reach India, crush the baddies' nefarious scheme, and restore peace and harmony to Tougenkyo. It's not until midway thru the second series that the real Arc—which finally takes main stage in the third series—begins to reveal itself (why are these particular four on the mission? who is the only human in Houtou Castle? and just how did Sanzo's master really die, and why?)
- InuYasha was about recovering the Shikon jewel shards and killing Naraku.
- Queen's Blade and its sequel Queen's Blade Rebellion, besides the tournament, deals about a single question: Who the hell is the Swamp Witch anyways, and why she's so hellbent to destroy the tournament?
- Doki! Doki! Pretty Cure! has its own page. Unlike the previous Pretty Cure season, they aren't pure filler episodes and every episode advance the plot a little bit. The whole story is about the four later five Pretty Cures getting stronger and fighting the Selfish Kingdom and the relationship between the The Heroine and The Dragon.
- Kagerou Project has one in the form of the Daze/Never-Ending World, the Big Bad who will do anything to live forever, and how it ties into the backstory of every single main character. While the series (particularly the songs and anime) is highly episodic and character-focused, every time we're given a glimpse into one of their back-stories, the larger mystery unfolding around them is fleshed out little by little, either through exposition (usually from Kido or Ene), seeing the events happen before us (as with Hibiya and Hiyori) or by Shintaro's subconscious use of his time-line-spanning Photographic Memory. Due to the Loads and Loads of Characters and the sheer complexity of the plot, Continuity Lock-Out tends to ensue.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena is usually divided into either three or four different story arcs, but the entire series is a single story building up to an apocalyptic finale, showing how Akio grooms and manipulates Utena through a specific set of trials, all leading up to the moment where she trusts Anthy enough to let her draw the sword of her heart and stab her in the back with it.
- Druid City's main character, Hunter Hastings, refuses to speak about the events that lead to him fleeing Austin, Texas. In each volume, more hints are revealed for his reason, normally through contact with the character Jenean Walker, who does enter the main story until Volume 7.
- One Hundred Bullets, one that only becomes apparent later on via Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
- Preacher: Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy's ongoing search for God.
- The Sandman is a clever example of a Myth Arc in disguise. While the occasional volume may have some development on what would seem to be an ongoing story (Season Of Mists and Brief Lives) it is not until The Kindly Ones when we learn that nearly all aspects of the series were parts of Dream's ongoing plan to evolve himself into a more sympathetic being.
- Lucifer has a more typical one, as events from previous arcs weave into those of the next.
- Bone, often classified as a more comedic Lord of the Rings.
- Hellboy is known for this.
- Transmetropolitan was once described note as a "3000 page graphic novel".
- The Grendel comics are basically one big Myth Arc detailing the beginnings of a young man who becomes an assassin and eventually telling how, in his basic idea and concept, Grendel conquers the planet.
- IDW's recent Transformers comics seem to be setting up a double Myth Arc. One concerning the Lost Light and its crew's search for the Knights of Cybertron and another one concerning Bumblebee and the other Autobots attempts to maintain peace on Cybertron (it's not going well to say the least). They also appear to be building up to the return of Optimus Prime.
- The current Deadpool ongoings seem to be developing a myth arc concerning Deadpool trying to be a better person. No telling how long it will go on for though.
- Judge Dredd has had a myth arc building for much of the comic's run as to whether the Judges' rule is legitimate. This question has been hanging since 1977, but the Origins story has this bombshell: Judge Fargo, the first Chief Judge and the one whom Dredd and several others were cloned from, had a My God, What Have I Done? moment when he saw what America was becoming under the Judges, and his last words to Dredd were to tell him that the Judges' rule was wrong, and he had to reverse it.
- Ever since the reboot, Aquaman has been mostly built around the mystery of just what — or who — sank Atlantis.
- The Pony POV Series has two myth arcs:
- The Lunaverse is primarily built around the struggle between the Luna 6 and Corona; while they face other villains, she's the overall looming threat throughout the series.
- Reimagined Enterprise: The approaching Earth-Romulan War up until the last episode of the second season, where it shifts into the ongoing Earth-Romulan War. Would be a spoiler, except, of course, it was established long before the series that there was an Earth-Romulan War around this time.
- The Facing The Future Series has several ongoing story threads that may or may not be connected — Vlad sending ghosts after Danny for unclear reasons, the Mysterious Watcher known as "G" keeping an eye on Danny for his shadowy superiors, and Danny somehow developing both a dangerous Super Mode and a Psychic Link with Sam.
- A rather notable example in the "hidden epic" of The Cosmere. So far the only connections between the different worlds are hoid, parallels between the shards, and a few other things. However Sanderson has stated that he plans to have these references form an extra story in conjunction with the main plots of each of his books.
- The Dark Tower is, of course, about Roland's journey to The Dark Tower.
- Animorphs has one with the Yeerks, namely the overarching conflict across the galaxy. It was basically guaranteed that any book narrated by Ax would discuss this slight bit, any book narrated by Marco would have the myth-arc regarding his mother, Visser One, and stuff narrated by Tobias would deal with the Hork-Bajir, and the Anti-Morphing Ray arc. The whole series had the myth-arc of the war between Crayak and Ellimist, generally covered in Rachel's narrations.
- Harry Potter. Every book is about Harry's struggle against Voldemort, in one form or another. The second book seemed like an oddball, Monster of the Week episode, until book six revealed just how well it fit into the overall story.
- Umberto Eco's novels (The Name of the Rose, Foucaults Pendulum, The Island Of The Day Before, Baudolino, and The Mysterious Flame Of Queen Loana) supposedly form a Myth Arc, but rather infuriatingly, he never says what it is, and the connections are too subtle for anybody else to even begin to guess.
- The Deryni novels and short stories have interrelated plot arcs that span several centuries.
- Fraught relations between the kingdoms of Gwynedd and Torenth. A younger son of the Torenthi king invades and conquers Gwynedd; after much suffering and several generations, the old ruling family is restored, but at a high price. Descendants of the Torenthi invaders repeatedly attempt to reclaim Gwynedd over the following centuries, and the claim is ultimately folded back into the Torenthi ruling House of Furstan.
- Deryni-human relations change dramatically in response to the conquest and restoration. Deryni were open and respected, with established schools teaching the ars magica and Healing in particular. A reactionary segment of human lords spiritual and temporal proclaim Deryni to be anathema to solidify their own power after the restoration. The masses are easily brought to help with the persecution of Deryni, thanks to their lack of sophistication and the efforts of dogmatic churchmen. It literally takes centuries for the right people to come on the scene to openly contest the notion that all Deryni are evil and live to tell the tale—and even then, it's a close-run thing for some of them.
- Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen myth arc about the Crippled God covers several hundred thousand years (mostly in backstory) including dragons, primitive hominids, many many gods and demigods, multiple world-spanning disasters and what ever the heck happened to Mother Dark. The histories of Dessimbelackis' First, the Malazan and Letherii empires are also mysteries that carry the plot. Dang archaeologists.
- The Lord of the Rings (although it was originally meant to be one book), as well as many other popular fantasy series.
- The Dresden Files seems to have developed this as of Proven Guilty with the reveal of the Black Council. And after Cold Days with the introduction of Outsiders and Nemesis, it's definitely Gone Cosmic.
- All of the books in Dennis L. McKiernan's Mithgar series fit this trope. They might seem unrelated at first (many books are stand-alone and can be read without reading the others) however they all play a part in the culmination of the Myth Arc and the defeating of the Big Bad. It's especially impressive considering the books were not written in (in-universe) chronological order.
- The various Doctor Who Expanded Universe novel series have had their own myth arcs. The Doctor Who New Adventures had a myth arc concerning the Doctor's true identity and the murky origins of the Time Lords; the Eighth Doctor Adventures had a myth arc concerning a future "War in Heaven" between the Time Lords and an unknown enemy, and the implications for the rest of the universe when the Time Lords lose.
- The Bernice Summerfield novels and audio dramas each have their own distinct Myth Arc, despite having several episodes in common — the audio dramas describe the rise and fall of the Irving Braxiatel, while the novels concern the unleashing of a Sealed Evil in a Can from Dellah University, leading to the Time Lords and the People vanishing from the universe. Some attempt is made at Arc Welding into a single series despite their drastically different depictions of the title character.
- Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings 'verse is split into, at present, four different series which in many ways are self-contained. Together, however, they make up one big Myth Arc about the return of the dragons and the White Prophet's quest.
- The Foundation trilogy is about the psychohistorically predicted decline and fall of the Galactic Empire and the eventual rise of the Foundation to become the next empire.
- A Song of Ice and Fire - the whole series is essentially covered by a story arc dealing with the troubles revolving the Kingdom's throne and who is to be the supreme ruler, and there's still no end in sight. Complicated by the fact that the story is a Deconstructor Fleet, and so even familiar Myth Arcs like The Chosen One or the Rightful King Returns aren't sure bets.
- And hidden beneath that is the coming of the Others, and the prophecy of The Prince Who Was Promised.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians - the whole series is a story arc about preventing the Titan's rise.
- The 39 Clues is a myth arc about completing the search for the titular 39 clues.
- The New Jedi Order series is a nineteen-book Myth Arc within the wider context of the Star Wars Expanded Universe detailing the apocalyptic war between the New Republic and the invading Yuuzhan Vong.
Live Action Television
- LOST has a Myth Arc built in, though it is a bone of contention as to whether the authors actually knew where they were headed or not (see Twin Peaks).
- The official line from the creators is that they knew how they wanted to end the series, and how to direct the plotlines to get there. Now that it is over, debate rages as to whether the last season was a fulfillment of a proper Myth Arc or an Ass Pull.
- Unsurprisingly, a number of shows that tried to cash in on the success of LOST had them, too: Invasion, Threshold, Surface — well, we assume they did; they were cancelled before the arcs could develop.
- More successful were The 4400 and Heroes, although the former actually predated LOST by a good few months.
- In Castle finding who killed Beckett's mother, and the organization behind him.
- The 3XK plotline seems to be a second myth arc for the show.
- Twin Peaks looked like it had a Myth Arc, but David Lynch later admitted he had been making it all up as he went along.
- Both versions of Battlestar Galactica were arc-based, though elements thereof were made up on the fly; in the 2000s version, for example, the one-shot character Sam Anders was reintroduced into the arc 15 episodes after his first appearance, and became a recurring character in Season 3, because actress Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) wanted her character to have a love interest. By season 4 it is fair to say that he has suddenly become absolutely vital to the ongoing (and soon to be ending) arc.
- Before Sam Anders, another one-shot character who ended up being relatively fundamental to an ongoing plot point of Galactica is Karl "Helo" Agathon. Originally he was supposed to die abandoned in Caprica during the miniseries. The Powers that Be liked him enough to bring him back to eventually be the father of the shape of things to come, Hera, and occasionally the second in command of Galactica herself. Also, one of the few who managed to get a truly happy ending...well, if you consider living like a Luddite on the prehistoric savannas of Africa a frakking happy ending.
- While Supernatural is also a Monster of the Week show, the main ongoing plot-driven arc is tied directly into the long-term plans that a demon had for the Winchester family: specifically, Sam and Dean's attempts to figure out what those plans are and to thwart them. (With varying degrees of success. All four (five) of the Winchesters have had significant Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments.) The first couple of seasons almost implied that Sam alone was key to the Myth Arc, but there were hints, such as the anvils dropped in "Faith" and "Houses Of The Holy" or the Yellow-Eyed Demon preferring to spend time breaking down/taunting Dean rather than Sam in both of their major confrontations, that suggested throughout that Dean was pretty important himself. Cue Seasons Four and Five and both brothers are held on an approximately equal level of importance in terms of the Myth Arc and neither of them wants the job.
- Somehow, the four seasons that come after the Apocalypse is over manage to combine this trope and Story Arc by dealing with the fallout of the first five seasons through the use of several larger enemies that come in and make their move, most lasting only one season before being killed off. The writers even go back to previously-dropped plot threads from the first five seasons and expand on them, such as creating another prophet that isn't God in disguise this time.
- The entire run of classic and new series Doctor Who has a few common threads running through; most notably, the premise of "Doctor who?" has varying surges of interest in different series; the new series has picked up on the mystery behind the Doctor's name again, with "Forest of the Dead" confirming that he actually has a real name. Whether or not these questions can be classed as arcs probably hinges upon whether they were ever intended to be answered.
- With the new series, the production teams of both Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat have taken to building up series-long Myth Arcs. This is done by adding subtle hints, clues, and foreshadowing throughout the episodes until the series finale, where the events are explained and the loose ends are tied up.
- The first four series of the "nuWho" revival eventually coalesce into a Myth Arc in The End of Time special, which draws elements from every preceding series as well as featuring every major recurring character up to that point.
- The fifth and sixth seem to be building a Myth Arc of their own, based around the relationship between The Doctor and River Song, The Silence, and the reasoning behind the TARDIS exploding in the series 5 finale.
- And given that the event referenced as the central point of this arc is said to occur "at the fall of the Eleventh", it's possible that this arc will cover Eleven's entire tenure.
- Confirmed, as of The Time of the Doctor - and for bonus points, it links back to the Time War arc, directly resulting from it and therefore arguably linking together all seven series up to that point.
- According to one theory, the Time War forms a complex web of a myth arc going back and forth across the series. The Doctor fails to prevent the creation of the Daleks and is earlier unsuccessful at destroying them at an early stage in his first encounter, which leads them to develop space travel and become an all-conquering armada. They then develop a crude form of time travel and resurrect their creator who helps them refine it, which they use to try and defeat the Doctor at an earlier point in his life after declaring war against his people. After centuries of fighting and countless civilisations lost, the Doctor defeats the Daleks single-handedly by destroying his home planet, except not really, resulting in only a few survivors falling out of time. A Dalek sect called "The Cult of Skaro" escaped out of the universe and returned after the war to rebuild the Dalek race. They are defeated, but their last surviving member rescues Davros from the Time War, but then goes mad and engineers the total defeat of the Daleks. Only a few survive, but they rebuild their race from some of the very first Dalek DNA and depart to conqueror the universe again. Davros survives and attempts to secure the Time Lords' secret to perfect time travel, but fails and his home planet is destroyed in the process.
- Fringe started off as a Monster of the Week show, with some mythology elements seeded in to keep the traditional J. J. Abrams crowd interested. Over time, however, the procedural elements have taken a definite backseat to the story arc. While there are still a fair number of episodes with a case of the week, often towards the middle of the season, the Myth Arc still tends to feature prominently in them.
- Originally intended to be an episodic supernatural-mystery-of-the-week series, Angel began developing a myth arc of its own with its first season finale, involving Angel and friends being pivotal players in an upcoming apocalypse.
- The Sarah Connor Chronicles had a running Myth Arc regarding the characters preventing Skynet's creation and Judgment Day, though it also focuses on numerous subplots and a lot of personal character development.
- Earth: Final Conflict was both loved and praised by its fans for its complicated, multidimensional and just way too convoluted arc. The writers were smart enough to make all things vague and open to personal interpretation to avoid an inevitable Series Continuity Error and mostly let the viewer himself discern right from wrong.
- Babylon 5, as mentioned in the article itself, is one of the archetypical Myth Arcs, and often credited/blamed for the proliferation of Myth Arcs in science fiction shows since.
- The quirky Police Procedural Life was an example of the mixture idea: while each episode involved solving an individual Mystery of the Week, most episodes would also involve the main character's quest discover who arranged for him to be wrongfully convicted of murder. This story was left largely hanging by the series' abrupt cancellation. While, by the second season's finale, he had learned why he was framed, he had not learned who (and since the "why" was the second one claimed in as many seasons, that, too, could have been merely a Red Herring).
- The Mentalist has the mystery of finding out who the serial killer Red John is.
- Monk: Finding out who murdered Trudy Monk.
- Following Monk, the various "quirky" shows on USA Network have also adopted the system of having a Myth Arc across episodes that mostly focus on Mystery of the Week or Monster of the Week episodes. As follows, they are:
- Burn Notice: Who burned Michael Westen? How can he get un-burned? Will he get un-burned at all? And who exactly is going about starting wars for the money?
- White Collar: Who is the Man with the Ring? What happened/who killed Kate? And what will become of the music box?
- Royal Pains: What's wrong with HankMed's mysterious benefactor, Boris? And what exactly was/is Eddie R. Lawson up to?
- Alias was a otherwise straightforward Tuxedo and Martini spy drama, but also had a show-spanning Myth Arc involving a Leonardo da Vinci knockoff Renaissance inventor named Milo Rambaldi.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had the conflict with the Dominion; although the Dominion wasn't even mentioned for the first season, the claiming of the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant in the pilot episode sets up this conflict.
- Person of Interest has a strong Myth Arc surrounding the Machine, the advanced surveillance supercomputer that identifies each episode's Victim of the Week for the protagonists to help. Most episodes flesh out a different aspect, either how it was created (via Finch's flashbacks), what various superpowers will do to obtain or control it (via Reese's flashbacks and several present-day stories) or just what the Machine has become capable of on its own.
- As noted at the top of the page, The X-Files starts out as a semi-episodic Monster of the Week style mystery show but over time, it develops an overarching storyline concerning a government conspiracy and possible alien activity. Unfortunatly the arc wasen't resolved by the time of the final episode which ends revealing that all this abduction, conspiracy, alien stuff is linked to a possible full-on Alien Invasion.
- On Farscape, Crichton's efforts to return home to Earth, and the attempts by the Peacekeepers and Scarrans to gain access to the wormhole technology he's using to do it.
- The Legend Of Dick And Dom has the quest to create the potion and return it to Fyredor.
- How I Met Your Mother, unsurprisingly, all boils down to the story of how Ted met his future kids' mother.
- Ayreon did this, though not chronologically, with the story of Humanity from Planet Y to 2084.
- Frank Zappa did this with his music; he had a massive stockpile of cultural references, injokes, and musical riffs which he repeatedly drew from over his thirty-year career.
- Coheed and Cambria's music is one enormous myth arc.
- Complete with a tie-in comic book. Written by Claudio Sanchez himself!
- Craig Finn's bands, Lifter Puller and The Hold Steady both contain myth-arcs of a sort.
- Brave Saint Saturn's three albums all told a single story about a manned mission to Saturn that went awry.
- Rhapsody of Fire tells the tale of the defeat of Nekron through most of their albums.
- Big Finish Doctor Who has its own Myth Arcs. For the Eighth Doctor there was anti-time and the Divergent Universe, which stretched from his first Big Finish appearance "Storm Warning" (January 2001) to "The Next Life" (December 2004), the four "seasons" where he was the current Doctor.
- Then for the later Eighth Doctor stories, from the finale of the New Eighth Doctor Adventures into Dark Eyes, they seem to be tying into the Time War, with events like the Daleks trying to destroy the Time Lords and the Master being resurrected.
- Before this was the "Dalek Empire" arc, showing the Daleks expanding their Empire and attacking Gallifrey. This leads into the "Dalek Empire" series, showing their attacks on the Milky Way in the 42nd and 67th centuries.
- Unintentionally Part 2 of Dalek Empire "The Apocalypse Element" where the Daleks attack Gallifrey seems to be part of the Time War. In the Doctor Who 2006 annual RTD claims this may have begun the escalation of events.
- The Might and Magic games have individual plots that are quite simple and a much more complex plot that spans the entire series as well alternating with the Heroes of Might and Magic spinoff series. Playing the entire franchise in the fiction's chronological order can be very interesting as all the pieces of the puzzle click together.
- Heroes of Might and Magic V, its addons, and Dark Messiah together form another Myth Arc.
- There were exceptions: Heroes II's expansion were unconnected to the rest (indeed, not even all the campaigns in the expansion appears to take place in the same world), Might and Magic IX dropped the thread that had bound all RPG Might and Magic games up to thennote , and Heroes IV's expansions were more-or-less only connected via taking place on the same world as Heroes IV, away from both Heroes IV's and Might and Magic IX's settings and stories.
- Metal Gear. Now, about Metal Gear... though there's a school of thought that Kojima was just making it up and retconning as he went along. Reportedly, he wanted to end the series with Metal Gear Solid, but got pressured into continuing. Taking four whole games on 3 different consoles to setup and resolve the Patriots arc might be his way of getting revenge.
- The "Xehanort Saga" of the Kingdom Hearts series.
- Fallout is building up a decent Myth Arc and it will be interesting to see what parts of it are carried on into New Vegas — there are two main strands to this: firstly the story of how the world ended up the way it did, and how the Government with its Crapsaccharine Vault experiments became the Enclave which is encountered by the PC in 2 and 3, and had its sticky little fingers in the FEV virus you discover in 1. Secondly, the story is about how the world is on the road to some kind of recovery — in every game so far, the world has been slightly more built-up, less sparsely populated and a little less crapsack than the last, and the player can affect this progress; hindering by destroying entire settlements or helping by improving the ones that exist. Each game also gives you the chance to help Harold, who is, if you keep him alive in Fallout 3, pretty much the only way the desert will ever become green again. All of this makes gritty little Fallout one of the most idealistic video games out there, in an Earn Your Happy Ending kind of way.
- Fallout: New Vegas in particular has a Myth Arc in its DLC involving Ulysses, the original courier who was to deliver the Platinum Chip who has some past history with the Courier. Their final confrontation is the entire point of the DLC Lonesome Road.
- Lonesome Road is just the end of the myth arc, as Ulysses is mentioned as early as the second town visited in the main game, and mentioned several time's after. He follows you around for the majority of the main game, and you follow him for the majority of the DLC.
- The Assassin's Creed series appears on the surface to be a Stealth-Based Game where you play as a Bad Ass who murders a lot of people with a fancy knife. Fair enough, but the series also contains a Framing Story that is largely omitted from the advertising: these ancient lives are being relived in the present day by a man named Desmond Miles, who is using a device called the Animus to access a VR simulation of his Genetic Memory. This comes about as the culmination of a millennia-long Secret War between the Templars and Assassins over the right to control humanity's future. The war is focused on a series of artifacts left behind by The Ones Who Came Before, an ancient civilization that created humankind before dying in some kind of catastrophe. Further, said civilization foresaw their doom and left behind messages embedded in these artifacts, as well as a special genetic legacy, all in an attempt to Fling a Light into the Future so that Desmond, in 2012, can stop The End of the World as We Know It from happening again. All of human history is a carefully crafted lie designed to conceal this struggle, as is revealed in cryptic "Truth" puzzles throughout the games.
- The relatively minor Morrigan/Flemeth plot in Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II, especially after Flemeth's cryptic remarks in the second game and Morrigan's Sequel Hook at the end of Witch Hunt, suggest that the entire saga of seemingly unrelated tales is being set up as a massive Gambit Roulette war between the two.
- Infamous has the story of the Ray Sphere and the threat of the Beast span both of its games.
- The Metroid Prime games follow a story arc centered around the mutagen known as Phazon: The first game introduces Phazon in the dying world of Tallon IV and also showed the downfall of the Chozo civilization and the attempts of the Space Pirates to mine it; the second showed a planet locked in perpetual dimensional flux due to a Phazon meteor impact; the third had the Space Pirates launch an all-out war against The Federation, an act which brought to light the source of all Phazon.
- The Touhou games from Mountain of Faith to Hopeless Masquerade is informally dubbed "Kanako Saga", "Religion Arc", or more jokingly "Moriya Shrine Conspiracy arc". The other games have mostly standalone plots, but the games in this arc are usually caused by something that happens in a previous game, with each game introducing a new religious faction in Gensokyo.
- In place for the "Modern Warfare" trilogy, about Soap's rise, adventures, and death. The entirety of Call of Duty will become this if there's the possible Black Ops-Modern Warfare crossover hinted at by intel at the end of Black Ops.
- With the advent of Black Ops 2 this connection between Modern Warfare and Black Ops has been proven false. However the Black Ops series has its own Myth Arc comprising of World at War, Black Ops, and Black Ops 2 with Viktor Reznov's life and death being the single main entity connecting the 3 games.
- The Mass Effect series is essentially one big story arc concerning the Normandy's battles against the Reapers with a bunch of little subplots and side stories tossed in between, such as the quarian/geth war, Cerberus and their schemes, and the increasing bigotry amongst the various races of the universe.
- The Ben Jorden Paranormal Investigator series has one, though it's so well-hidden and integrated into the cases that you probably won't notice it at all until Case 7.
- Baldur's Gate revolves around the origins of the protagonist, and the entire nature versus nurture debate. It's revealed in the last instalment Gorion grabbed the hero instead of Sarevok, despite the two children lying so close to each other implying Sarevok and CharName are Not So Different.
- Abstract Gender: Who experimented on Ryan and Brian and why? Unfortunately, the series ended before this question was answered.
- C'est la Vie where one of the two original protagonists met her "true love" http://www.gocomics.com/cestlavie/2003/11/28 three days before http://www.gocomics.com/cestlavie/2003/11/25 and almost 8 years later, still has only had a few cups of espresso with him (other than trying to kill him with a teddy bear).
- Girl Genius, starting with the fourth strip and continuing until today — and likely quite some time into the future as well.
- Girl Genius started as a comic book series, so that "fourth strip" is actually the fourth page of the first issue.
- Tons in El Goonish Shive, the early strips are packed with many clues for later arcs. In a more specific sense, Lord Tedd and Tedd's backstory.
- Somewhat subverted in that the creator admits that he has thrown out much of the earlier foreshadowing as irrelevant to the ever-changing 'current' direction of the strip.
- It may take some time to notice, but Schlock Mercenary has a slowly building plot winding through most of its stories, All starting with Kevyn's invention of the teraport.
- Gunnerkrigg Court initially seemed to be a series of one-shot stories. However, by chapter 7 it had became apparent that continuity is in full effect and that prior chapters had far-reaching, unforeseen consequences. When asked how much of the comic he plans in advance, Tom Siddell has said he scripts the plot many months in advance, and he knows exactly how the comic will end... but how he'll get from the former to the latter is up in the air. One of the major ones is the shadowy history of the court and Jeanne in specific, the vicious and sorrowful spirit at the Annan waters; dealing with her and trying to help her has been the catalyst for numerous chapters.
- Homestuck has always been influenced by a single enemy, and by Act 6 Intermission 5, it's obvious the Myth Arc is dealing with this enemy, Lord English.
- Shadownova. Things are put in motion from the first page of the first chapter when a bad guy decides to bomb a school, leading to Iris's involvement in the human/everto war and subsequently the plot.
- The Order of the Stick, started with jokes about the Dungeons & Dragons rules, but soon developped a quite complex myth arc.
- Xykon was revealed in strip 13, and as of 832 shows no sign of being resolved any time soon.
- It takes a while, but Sluggy Freelance's Myth Arc begins with Oasis and the plans of Hereti-Corp. There are a lot of other smaller arcs in the series, but the Oasis/HC arc has been going on in both the background and foreground for more than a decade. Not only that, but other major arcs, including K'Z'K and the Dimension of Pain, are being vowen together with it; if they all become one Myth Arc, it will have been going on (at least retrospectively speaking) practically since the very beginning.
- The Abominable Charles Christopher definately has one, but it's very well hidden and the whole comic is a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
- KateModern, though whether they manage to resolve it before the show ends remains to be seen.
- Broken Saints
- Some would argue that this is where Red vs. Blue has progressed towards, primarily involving Project Freelancer.
- Main series of Chaos Fighters.
- Marble Hornets is one big storyline involving Jay's attempts to figure out what happened to Alex, who the Operator is, and how the Masked Men and totheark are linked to him.
- The major myth arc of Worm focuses on the nature of parahuman powers and an impending apocalypse.
- The point of Danny Phantom — according to the fans, anyway. Although it's hard to tell after season 2.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: the Avatar mastering Water, Earth, and Fire, and saving the world.
- Iron Man: Armored Adventures is a rare superhero cartoon example of where there's a set goal form the very first episode the heroes are trying to obtain, and all the following episodes develop towards that goal in one form or another.
- Spartakus And The Sun Beneath The Sea centered around the protagonists' search for a way to keep the titular Sun from dying and destroying the underground civilization of Arcadia. The show lasted only two seasons, and was ended when the heroes eventually discovered the truth behind the Sun and what was needed to save the people of Arcadia.
- Justice League Unlimited had the Cadmus arc, which involved quite a bit of Arc Welding from the second season episode "A Better World," as well as two episodes from Superman: The Animated Series, which had originally aired eight years prior. The writers hadn't originally planned for it, but were able to make it work spectacularly well.
- Young Justice has a running plot thread. It involves the Light: A collection of DC Supervillains with a goal to make Earth a galactic superpower. Season 1 was about finding a way to make earth noticed, while Season 2 was about undermining one of their "partners". As the show was Cut Short, this thread was never fully resolved, though it did end with over half the Light fleeing the planet, captured or dead, and the earth gaining prominence for defeating Mongul and the Reach.
- Green Lantern: The Animated Series has one despite having only 1 season. Namely, it's about Razer learning to be a better hero.
- Symbionic Titan appeared to be this, having little bits of information revealed at a time in non-chronological order, which makes it rather irritating that the complicated plot they got going is being wrapped up hastily in four episodes, due to cancellation.
- The Pirates of Dark Water did this all the way back in the 80s, with the entire series focused on obtaining the Thirteen Treasures of Rue to stop the titular Dark Water. Sadly, it was before its time and was canceled after only 8 of the 13 treasures had been found.
- The Secret Saturdays develops a Myth Arc concerning the hunt for Kur and the battle against Argost. The first few seasons alternate between episodic adventures and episodes that furthered the main storyline but the final season largely abandoned this approach and almost all episodes in that season are used to tie up all the loose ends and set up the Grand Finale.
- The mysteries and conspiracies surrounding the original Mystery Crew and the curse of Crystal Cove drives the entirety of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. It follows an episodic structure but each episode drives the main storyline forward in some way. Pretty impressive considering that this is only the second time any Scooby-Doo story has had an actual Story Arc (the first being The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo).
- Kim Possible: Ron's development with Mystical Monkey Power.
- Franz Hopper and the history behind Lyoko, X.A.N.A. and the supercomputer is the Myth Arc of Season 2 of Code Lyoko.
- Adventure Time was at first revealed by Word of God that it takes place in a post-apocalyptic Sugar Bowl, but as Cerebus Syndrome started kicking in so did Continuity Creep and now there are multiple episodes that directly relate to the apocalypse as well its effect on the characters; additionally cosmic forces have been hinted on, with the Cosmic Owl who has made appearances as early as season one and has finally made his proper debut in the season five premiere. After the introduction of The Multiverse it is implied that the cosmic forces will appear again.
- Regular Show has the ongoing myth arc of Mordecai's relationship with Margaret (which is on hiatus whilst she goes to university), Rigby's awkward relationship with his brother Don, and information about Benson's past that shows why he is such a hothead. The episodes of the show are only 10 minutes long and most of the story is in the half of the show that doesn't feature the Monster of the Week, so a single plot development can span quite a number of episodes.
- Winx Club has Bloom's origins and the search for her parents. In season 1 she learns she is the princess of the now dead planet Domino and has the mythical Dragon Flame, which is the source of her powers. It takes a backseat during season 2, where the she continues to study her past. It takes front stage during season 3, particularly in fighting Valtor, who fought her parents during the fall of Domino and may know something about their fate. In the first movie, The Secret of the Lost Kingdom, she manages to revive Domino and reunite with her birth parents. The second movie Magical Adventure, deals with her getting to know her parents while finishing off the Ancestral Witches who destroyed Domino in the first place. Afterwards, the myth arc is done and is not part of the plot aside from a few references in seasons 4 and beyond.
- Codename: Kids Next Door has the ongoing conflict between adults and kids.
- Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers was one of the first Western animated series to attempt this back in 1986, with an arching Myth Arc about the League's war with the Crown Empire, and several Story Arcs that tied into it, like the kidnapping of Zachary's wife, the botched Supertrooper project (with resulting fallout), and the League's attempt to get the aid of Tarkon.
- Disney's Doug has Doug and Skeeter occasionally visiting Lucky Duck Lake in an attempt to discover if a monster exists in there (a nod to the legendary Loch Ness Monster). The monster itself finally makes an appearance in The Movie and plays an important role.
- Futurama has three notable ones: Fry's role as the savior of the universe and what that has to do with him winding up in the future, the relationship between him and Leela, and Leela trying to find out where she came from and whether or not her birth parents are still alive. Did I mention this is a comedy?
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic takes the show's Once per Episode conceit of the Mane Six ponies, Twilight Sparkle in particular, learning lessons of friendship to Myth Arc level when it is revealed in the season 3 premiere that all of Twilight's lessons were designed to build her up as an alicorn princess of Equestria.
- Clone High supposedly had one involving the Secret Board of Shadowy Figures sending the clones off to high school in an attempt to breed a super intelligent clone army. Also Principal Scudworth planned on stealing the clones to create his dream project: Cloney island. Due to the series tragically being Cut Short, little progress was made on either.
- Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends has one involving Nick's father's disappearance that has him constantly pursuing, but hints of a greater arc begin to show as the series progresses. It eventually culminates with an Alien Invasion by a race known as the Shadoens, which requires the Aliiance and all the aliens on Earth to combat.
- Steven Universe: in addition to the general concept of Steven growing up and developing his powers, there are two, possibly linked, myth arcs. Number One- the fact that all the monsters they fight are actually corrupted gems. Number Two- the Gems have been cut off from their home planet for centuries, and have concerns about what's going on there.
- ''Gravity Falls has such an arc, though it's subtle. So far it seems to be what big secret the Author of Journal 3 found.