Nothing Is the Same Anymore
"Everything is different now!"
For many shows, the Status Quo Is God
. No matter what happens in a given episode or arc, somehow, things go back to the way things used to be by the end. However, there are series that have the guts to break this pattern — to seriously change their premise, or at least to shake up major parts of their story, and really mean it. No Reset Buttons
, no Snap Backs
, no way to restore the comfortable status quo. Nothing Is The Same Anymore is Exactly What It Says on the Tin
— the setting, or the characters' situation, has changed significantly and irrevocably, for better or for worse, and now the characters have to deal with it.
The trick is to do it without Jumping the Shark
, which can be a difficult task.
As there isn't an easy out
if it all goes wrong, the writers tend to have to resort to desperate measures like All Just a Dream
to attempt to undo the damage should things go pear-shaped and are rejected by audiences. This rarely goes well, and can even result in a Franchise Killer
. Pretty much the only hope is a well-executed Continuity Reboot
See also Game Changer
, Wham Episode
, Freak Out
, Post Script Season
, Breaking the Fellowship
, Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome
, and Ascended Fridge Horror
. You have been warned.
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Anime and Manga
- Legend of Galactic Heroes pulls this three times after Whamtastical episodes involving two deaths and one invasion.
- The Eclipse in Berserk is as Earth-shattering an example of this as can be imagined. Though as the pre-Eclipse story was essentially the longest ever flashback it loses a little of its impact. Only a little though.
- Even that got drastically changed when Griffith manipulated Skull Knight's power to fuse all the planes of existence together.
- Code Geass developed somewhat gradually for a while. The Black Knights would win small battles and recruit allies and basically consolidate their power overtime, sure, but they never made grabs to free Japan rapidly, and no major characters died nor were any important Knightmares permanently destroyed. Then episode 22 rolls around and jacks the plot into high gear quite quickly, forcing the Black Knights to try and retake Japan all in a single day. Unfortunately for the Black Knights, they weren't quite ready yet.
- The final four episodes of R2 take it to a whole new level. Lelouch spent the majority of the series working towards Britannia's destruction. Lelouch is now the Britannian emperor. Suzaku spent the majority of the series trying to capture or kill Lelouch. Suzaku is now Lelouch's bodyguard. Kallen spent the majority of the series as Lelouch's most devoted follower. Kallen is now desperately trying to kill Lelouch. The Black Knights were under the command of Lelouch and working towards liberating Japan. Lelouch conquers Japan, again, forcing the Black Knights to ally with Schneizel (their former enemy) in order to try and liberate it from Lelouch.
- Happens after the third freaking episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. How bad was it? The main character couldn't properly enjoy food anymore because of what she witnessed.
- Mai-Otome: In a Wham Episode a little past the halfway point of the series, Nagi conquers Windbloom and deposes Mashiro, while Nina's jealousy boils over, leading her to finally fight Arika, accidentally killing Erstin, who in turn had just turned out to be a Mole, prompting the previously Uncannily good Arika to fly into Unstoppable Rage. Oh, and nearly the entire cast is depowered. Ultimately, the Garderobe academy is nearly entirely abandoned as the central setting of the show while the main cast, largely in a state of freaking out, is dispersed to the wind. Even the opening credits change (albeit one episode too early, somewhat spoiling the surprise).
- So too does Mai-Hime, where halfway through the premise changes from A straight Magical Girl show with teenage girls fighting monstrous orphans and taking down the Big Bad American Conspiracy in the first half to: The HiME festival where they have to fight and defeat each other until only one remains, which means possibly killing the other and at least killing the other's most important person.
- Season three of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, starting when the heroes start chasing down Cobra. Apart from the bad guys, even the regular students are shown to be rather jerkassy, and not just in their elitism. And Yubel. The show is far darker from then on until essentially the end.
- Episode Eight of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Some people try to apply Fanon Dis Continuity to the remaining episodes, as they simply cannot accept Kamina's true role as a Decoy Protagonist.
- 20th Century Boys combines this with Your Princess Is in Another Castle all in one hell of a Wham Episode which ends in a Time Skip, where about a third of the way through the Big Bad Friend actually manages to completely screw over our heroes and become prime minister of Japan. Cut to 15 years later and it's a bona fide Villain World, with the main character from the first third presumed dead along with most of his Nakama. The series does this again about two thirds of the way through when someone takes the Big Bad's place and releases a virus killing about a third of the world's population. Cut to 3 years later and things are much worse than before, setting things up for the finale.
- Xam'd: Lost Memories does this after the Zanbani is damaged during battle and is out of commission until the Series Finale, both Akiyuki and Nakiami leave the Zanbani and are separated, and Furuichi kills himself when Haru rejects him for Akiyuki. But what really cements the trope is when Nakiami sells her iconic red wave rider.
- School Rumble revolved around Harima's attempts to woo the girl of his dreams, until he mistakenly declared his love for someone else.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS takes the series through a Genre Shift from a somewhat unorthodox Magical Girl series to a full Sci-Fi/Military series series with a few Magical Girl elements still remaining, kicks out roughly half of the previous cast into obscurity and ages the main characters via Time Skip.
- Kekkaishi's central premise of defending the Karasumori site (aka Yoshimori's school) from ayakashi while Yoshimori occasionally muses about sealing away Karasumori's power permanently changes when Yoshimori's mother returns and removes Lord Karasumori from the site, leaving with him and Yoshimori to find a new location to seal him away.
- While the world of Animal Land is cruel, it has its genuinely lighthearted moments. Then Monoko, the cute little adopted tanuki mother of Tarouza the human protagonist, sacrifices herself in order to protect her children and it's laid pretty bare how much of a Crapsack World the world of Animal Land is.
- Dragon Ball mostly had light hearted wacky adventures that Goku and his friends gotten into. Sure they were some threats but you knew they'd come out on top eventually. But it changes at the end of the 22nd Martial Arts Tournament and Beginning of King Piccolo Saga with Krillin being killed by one of Piccolo's henchmen Things took a darker turn from then on with much more at stake and this would continue on into Z.
- The World God Only Knows (Post-Goddesses Arc) qualifies as this. To articulate, Hell's terrorists tried to overtake Earth. Six of the girls in the story not only remember their time with Keima but now know of each other and the Goddesses they host. Chihiro, though not remembering her conquest, knows of the truth about the girls after having her heart broken by Keima in order to protect her. And lastly, Keima cries alone as he apologies to Chihiro for leading her on and then breaking her heart so fiercely. As the Heart of Jupiter Arc takes center stage, the plot thickens a lot more, and people actually start dying.
- While the first two movies of the Rebuild of Evangelion are remakes of the original series, with the second half of 2.0 starting to go Off the Rails, the third movie change the entire setting in a complete departure from the original series, taking place 14 years after the end of 2.0 and Third Impact ravaged the planet even worse. Misato is now at the head of a new organization trying to prevent new Impacts from happening, the Angels are long gone, and Tokyo-3 is a giant ruin transformed into core material housing the now automated ruins of NERV HQ, from which Gendo and SEELE still plot to unleash Instrumentality on the world. And Shinji slept through all these events inside EVA-01, discovering upon waking that he's hated by all of his friends who survived for having played a part on Third Impact at the end of the previous movie.
- One Piece stated as much when the war at Marineford loomed on the horizon and indeed following Whitebeard's death and his powers being stolen. The once balanced power of the world was broken and a new, albeit uncertain, pirate age was born.
- In Sailor Moon, the reveal of the Silver Crystal and the Moon Princess brings a sudden end to both the find the Crystal and find the Princess arcs (though differently depending on the version), and both the Sailor Guardians and Dark Kingdom start really stepping up their game, especially in the finale. From that point on, nothing for the entire season, yet alone series afterward is the same.
- This seems to be the motto of the comic book series Daredevil, with every noteworthy writer since Frank Miller trying to outdo the other in terms of who could shake up Matt Murdock's life the most.
- Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker love changing their characters' status quo. To stick only with Daredevil: During Bendis' run Daredevil was unmasked by press, The Kingpin was killed but got better, Matt got married, became the new Kingpin, was left by his wife and was thrown in jail. When Brubaker was in charge Matt got out of jail, The Kingpin left the country, Matt's wife came back to him and went mad thanks to one of his enemies, Matt had a one-night stand with his friend and left everything to become the leader of Hand. And please, don't ask how it goes in their other titles.
- The comic book Invincible is sort of like this, though it only goes twelve issues with the initial status quo before the main character's father does a Face-Heel Turn and beats the living crap out of his son, starting the status quo for the rest of the series. Issue 50 looks to shake things up again.
- The New Universe comic Justice did an impressive one of these about halfway through its run. In Issue 15 (cleverly titled Everything You Know Is Wrong) the readers - and the main character - find out that he isn't an interdimensional holy warrior but in fact a DEA agent who had an entire false life mentally implanted into him by a drug lord. He then becomes a borderline psychotic loner, who still can suffer flashbacks to his fake life if drugged up enough.
- Erik Larsen's The Savage Dragon tends to change its status quo quite often.
- Batman has had this trope happen twice (or more depending on definitions) in ways that are likely to stay permanently (a rarity for comics), and a bunch of others that might change.
- The original Robin, Dick Grayson, became Nightwing.
- Robin #2 was killed then returned, if only long enough for a Face-Heel Turn to The Red Hood.
- Robin #3 changed his name to Red Robin.
- Batman had a son (without his knowledge or consent, apparently) with Talia al-Ghul. He's a 10-year-old trained assassin and Robin #5. He is killed by his clone/brother trying to save Gotham.
- This trope is commonly invoked in the marketing of any given big comic book event. Whether it's a Crisis Crossover or a big storyline within a single book, editorial loves to entice readers to pick it up with the promise that nothing will ever be the same afterward. Sometimes this is true... but just as often, whatever changes the storyline brings are eventually undone either by plot contrivance or retcon.
- Lampshaded in an issue of The Flash in the early 2000's. At the time, the book was famous for pulling big storylines about once a year. The ad copy for the following issue promised that "nothing will ever be the same again! Yeah, we know we say that all the time... but it's been true every time we've said it."
- As both Crisis Crossovers and The Flash were mentioned, combing them leads to Flashpoint.
- Marvel is currently doing it all the time - almost everything changes so fast that it's scary.
- An early example is in the 1960s is when the writers decided that Iron Man's Achilles' Heel of his external pacemaker function continually threatening to run out of power on him and give heart failure was getting old. So, they wrote a story where Stark is Hauled Before A Senate Sub Committee, where the arduous question goes so long that Stark collapses with his battery problems. A doctor examines him, discovers his seriously poor state of health and has him rushed to a hospital. After that, Stark finally gets some serious medical care by professionals which leads to a heart transplant to help him.
- An even more dramatic change was in the Incredible Hulk series its early years when the US military had no idea about Banner's Hulk condition, but suspected the scientist and the monster were compatriots. In one pivotal episode, Rick Jones, convinced that Banner was dead, told Col. Glenn Talbot the truth and from then on, Banner was a fugitive from the US authorities determined to kill or contain him.
- Despite claims by the comic's marketing to the contrary, mostly averted with the Secret Wars mini-series. Given that it was competing with Crisis on Infinite Earths (having been released almost simultaneously), Secret Wars was advertised as being a complete shakeup of the Marvel Universe, and that nothing in Marvel would ever be the same afterward. This was only true in a few instances:
- Spider-Man acquired his black suit, which would go on to empower the supervillain Venom.
- She-Hulk joined the Fantastic Four, and stayed with them for some time. She's still considered a close friend of the family.
- The Hulk had Banner's brain, and had recently been pardoned of all past crimes. Something on Battleworld caused him to slip back into an angry persona, leading to a multi-state mindless rampage with thousands of fatalities. Fallout from that rampage was subtext or text for decades.
- Most other changes, like the destruction of Ultron and Kang, did not stick.
- In a couple of places they even restored status quo that had previously been shaken up, like Dr Doom who had been dead prior to Secret Wars but mysteriously showed up for the story leading to the need for a later storyline to explain how he'd come back.
- The currently running Marvel Now! imprint that started on the heels of Fear Itself and Avengers vs X-Men is starting to do this too. Most notably;
- Doc Ock switched bodies with Peter Parker, killed his own body with Peter Parker in it, but not before inheriting all of Peter's memories. He is currently fighting crime under Spider-Man's mantle, as a "Superior" Spider-Man.
- The original Nick Fury has gone under the radar, being replaced with his son, who resembles Ultimate Nick Fury.
- Iron Man is a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
- The Avengers and the X-Men formed a united sub-team nicknamed the Uncanny Avengers.
- In Avengers vs X-Men Cyclops killed Professor X while under the influence of the Phoenix Force, and is attempting to redeem himself while everyone he knows hates and fears him. Also, the Phoenix Force is now destroyednote , causing untold damage to the universe (some effects briefly seen in Gillen's Iron Man run; the Celestials are now aware of aliens living off of their lifeblood, and are not amused).
- The "Age of Ultron" storyline, Ultron returned and is ruling over a dystopian world.
- The ending of Superior Spider-Man changed everything again: Peter Parker regains control of his body, but is left holding the bag of everything Dr. Octopus had left over, including Parker Industries, a doctorate, a girlfriend in the form of Anna-Maria Marconi and a lot of ill will. Thankfully, the superhero community is more forgiving than, say, Mary Jane Watson.
- Hellboy In Hell
- Ultimate Marvel started out as Adaptation Distillation, but has moved to having this as a goal to set it apart from the main Marvel Universe. The first big change was the Ultimatum event, but that's not the only one:
- With the X-Men, everyone considered a mutant leader or potential leader (Professor X, Magneto, Cyclops, Wolverine) died in Ultimatum. Mutancy is now outlawed and people are allowed to shoot on sight, forcing mutants underground. And it's been revealed that the mutant gene was created in a lab, removing any protection they would have gotten as "the next step of evolution".
- The Fantastic Four also disbanded after Ultimatum, and it's unlikely they'll come back together anytime soon as Reed has undergone a Face-Heel Turn, with Johnny going off to join the Spider-Man cast and then the X-Men instead. Ben "The Thing" Grimm also shed his rocky skin, gaining energy powers instead.
- Spider-Man was killed in action, and a new character with no direct connection to Peter Parker has taken up the mantle.
- In the fall of 2012, it looks as though that Captain America will become the President of the United States (a divided and broken up U.S., mind you, but still...).
- Les Légendaires went through this during the Anathos Cycle: Danael is possessed by a God of Evil, killed and resurrected but no longer part of the team, all the other protagonists have been scarred or crippled to life and get new powers and abilities, they finally got rid of their Hero with Bad Publicity status, their Arch-Enemy has been Killed Off for Real, the couples have fallen apart and a Sixth Ranger has been added.
- DC comics is well known for their various cosmic retcons, and absorbing other comic universes into the mainstream, the most notable example is New 52.
- Archie Comics is now doing that for Sonic the Hedgehog following the Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide storyline thanks to Dr. Eggman's unwillingness to let Sonic win. The full extent of this is a soft reboot, the multiverse coollapsing, and the planet shattering.
- Issue 50, the final issue of the "Endgame" arc, saw Dr. Robotnik be eradicated when his Ultimate Annihilator weapon goes unstable. At the time, this was a major game-changer, with the following issues (including the next 48-page special, aptly named "Brave New World") finding the Freedom Fighters dealing with a world where they finally achieved their ultimate goal and how to bring peace to a land without Robotnik.
- Lucifer does this at a rate of about every ten issues. The most memorable times include when Lucifer makes his own universe, when God leaves creation and locks it behind Him, when His granddaughter takes His throne; when the Angel of Silence speaks.
- The Green Lantern Bat Family Crossover Lights Out was billed as "the story that will change the Green Lantern universe forever". And given that by the time it's over, we see the destruction of Oa, the Green Lanterns relocating to Mogo, the Blue Lanterns wiped out (save for Saint Walker) and the Red Lanterns given sole jurisdiction over Sector 2814 (including Earth), it's safe to say it lived up to the hype.
- Fix Fics are often a fan's attempt at reversing said changes, or at least showing what it would have been like had the change never occured.
- The status quo in Dept Heaven Apocrypha took its first big hit with Kylier's accidental Mind Rape of Nessiah. Although the conflict in that plotline is solved for now, it looks as though their relationship is never going to recover.
- It happened again when Seth cheated on Meria the morning after they first slept together. Both characters (and those around them) were hit hard; the jeering of the unworthy masses has put the former in a Heroic BSOD that she's only now recovering from, and the latter has completely lost most of her carefree demeanor.
- Two Step departs from the usual Left 4 Dead four-survivor ensemble when the ship Coach, Rochelle, Ellis and Nick were on sinks. Nick is injured by a Witch and ends up left behind, and most of the story is about him traveling completely alone. The ensemble aspect returns a bit later on, but it doesn't last long - Nick ditches them at a safe place later on. Another mechanic that is discarded is the "kill lots of zombies", as it's implied that the Commons died or mutated more during the course of the story, reinforced by the fact that the only zombies encountered are Special Infected. Even the immediate objective of the survivors changes from 'find someplace safe' to 'find someplace warm and make it safe'. Oh, Nick gets a dog, too.
- A Growing Affection doesn't have much of a status quo, but there are a few major events that shake things up. Like the end of book one and start of book two, when Naruto gets promoted, the Sound is liberated from Kabuto and becomes an ally of the Leaf, the Leaf teams get shuffled, and Naruto and Hinata become a couple. The end of book two has the fall of the Akatsuki and the Kyubi merging with Naruto.
- The Facing The Future Series follows the Grand Finale of Danny Phantom where Danny's secret is revealed to his family and Valerie (Word of God is that he finds the premise of the whole world knowing Danny's secret absurd). However, the fanfics take it even farther by having Sam becoming half ghost as well as many other changes that keep occurring to keep the series fresh.
- In The Lion King Adventures, this is the case in Series 5, following the destruction of the Pride Lands and the deaths of Simba's parents at the end of Series 4.
- The 1983: Doomsday Stories do this to the Axis Powers Hetalia cast by having a nuclear war break out in 1983. A good deal of the fics in the AU are about the surviving Nations and some dead ones picking up the pieces, though this gradually fades further down the line as life moves on and new countries emerge from the wasteland.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, post episode 5, nothing is necessarily safe, as it continues beyond where the show left off. The interlude to Episode 8 exemplifies this, with tons of new plot developments appearing.
- Episode 11 has major changes in the status quo; even its title is "Things Change." The biggest one is ProtoMan leaving Wily.
- In We Are All Pokémon Trainers, the AU arc and its aftermath caused some radical changes in the RP both in-universe and in the meta, to the point that it's referred to as the Upheaval Saga.
- Psycho kills off the apparent main character and completely changes the plot from a thief on the run to a serial killer at a motel.
- Trail of the Pink Panther seems to do this to Inspector Clouseau (the ending reveals he survived), but that's because all of Clouseau's scenes in the first half are actually deleted scenes from The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Peter Sellers having been dead for almost 2 years when this film was made. The film was intended as the gateway for a new protagonist to enter the series with the next film and wasn't even conceived until after Sellers' death.
- Star Trek: For the characters, the events of this film are just another event, but for the fans with the benefit of oversight, it heavily alters Star Trek mythology. Most notably the destruction of Vulcan. The devastated look on the older Spock's face cements that until then, the changes could have simply turned this into a Close Enough Timeline. Now nothing will ever be the same. Word of God said that Vulcan was destroyed for exactly this reason: to show that things are not the same, and that this is deadly serious.
- By the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier the World Security Council is dead, S.H.I.E.L.D. has become a ghost organization due to massive internal corruption, HYDRA did not die off when the Red Skull vanished and now Nick Fury is using his presumed death to hunt them down, Black Widow's cover has been exposed and she is now seeking a new identity, and Captain America and The Falcon are chasing down The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes to snap him out of his brainwashing.
- After all the time-travelling takes place in X-Men: Days of Future Past, the course of history has been altered with only Wolverine and Professor X aware of what went on previously, Jean Grey and Cyclops are both Back from the Dead, Rogue apparently has her powers once more, Mystique has apparently undergone a Heel-Face Turn, and the public became aware of the mutant presence two decades earlier than it did in the original timeline. Also, the events of The Last Stand and Origins have been confirmed to never have transpired in the new timeline, and the events of X-Men and X-Men United occurred differently if they occurred at all.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe New Jedi Order series. They killed: Chewbacca, Anakin Solo, Borsk Fey'lya, Admiral Ackbar, The Hapan Queen Mother Teneniel Djo, and Mon Mothma. Oh, and started Jacen Solo on the road to the Dark Side that would later lead to his death.
- The Blood Books, in Blood Pact: Vicki becomes a vampire.
- Late in the Animorphs series, Marco is forced to reveal what has been going on to his father so that the two can fake their deaths and go into hiding. At the same time, Visser One is killed, giving Visser Three full control of the invasion and allowing him to use his more direct tactics. A little bit later, the Yeerks find out that the Animorphs are human, a fact that they had spent the entire series trying to keep secret, forcing them and their families into hiding. The seriousness of the kids' new situation is highlighted by the revelation of Jake's last name.
- Changes, the twelth book in The Dresden Files. By the end of the book, just about everything in Harry's life has changed. Up to and including the "life" part.
- Harry Potter has several WHAM Episodes that effectively change everything.
- The first, and perhaps the biggest in terms of how the plot of the series changed, was the death of Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. His murder marked the point in which the books stopped playing around with being "kids' books" and started getting down to the meat of it. And of course, that's also the book where Voldemort went from a decrepit spirit trying to regain a body to his full strength, with magical protection against Harry and his returning minions to boot. Lampshaded in the film with Hermione's line at the end, "Everything's going to change now, isn't it?" Said line got prominently featured in one of the trailers.
- The death of Dumbledore in Half-Blood Prince meant that the only person Voldemort ever feared is gone and that Hogwarts is no longer the safest place in the Wizarding World.
- The death of Scrimgeour in Deathly Hallows resulted in a coup d'etat, with Voldemort running the Ministry of Magic. The Power Trio was forced to go on the run throughout the entire book while everyone else had to deal with being in a Police State run by the Death Eaters.
- A Song of Ice and Fire seems to delight in flipping its readers' expectations as to who the main protagonist of the series is, at critical moments of every odd-numbered book:
- In A Game of Thrones Eddard Stark is beheaded about 90% of the way through, after the entirety of the book up to that point had been acting like he was the main hero.
- In A Storm of Swords it's Robb's turn to go, after having taken over from his father as the seeming hero of the story and the one king in the war the readers were set up to root for.
- In A Dance with Dragons Jon Snow is seemingly stabbed to death murdered by his own men after a series of unpopular management decisions, without ever learning the truth about his origins and despite virtually every reader assuming he's the "ice" half of the song alluded to in the series' title. The "fire" half, Daenerys, loses the power base she'd spent the entire series up to that point building up, while her own nephew Aegon, previously having been assumed dead, is revealed to be alive and leading a campaign to retake Westeros, which is what everybody assumed Daenerys would do. Aegon's claim to the throne is actually even stronger than Daenerys' ever was, which leaves her fate questionable at best.
- A huge part of The Hunger Games.
- Galaxy of Fear starts off as fairly episodic with a rather set dynamic between the characters, but after the sixth book one character is Put on a Bus and dynamics between the remaining characters change completely. There's also a fresh sense of urgency and insecurity as now the characters have to flee from The Empire, which is there at every turn. It's not as dramatic a change as some, but it certainly impacts the series.
- The Last Full Measure depicts the long, downward slide of the Confederacy / the long but inevitable march towards victory for the Union after the Battle of Gettysburg and Grant's appointment as head of the Army of the Potomac. It's a stark contrast to the start of the war in Gods and Generals, where Lee seemed incapable of losing battles.
- T. S. Eliot's 1927 poem "The Journey of the Magi" is a reminiscence, many years after the fact, of one of the three magi ("wise men") who travelled westward across Asia in search of the Christ Child at the first Christmas. After finding and visiting the baby Jesus, he returns home to find that his former pagan beliefs no longer satisfy him, and that he suddenly feels spiritually unfulfilled. He never grasped the significance of what he saw, and has become so depressed that "I should be glad of another death."
- In Fire Ascending, after the universal mess that had been created got repaired, so to speak, the universe took one more change. It plays the entire series off as books writen within the series.
- The ending of Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword and the Mel'in episodes from the sequels. The Emperor is finally in control, the Rainbow is scattered and in hiding, Seamni is no longer an enemy of humankind but the Emperor's lover, the Dwarves are allies with humans, the empire is in shambles and facing a feudal reaction, and there's no longer anyone to protect Mel'in from the arriving main army of the Goat-legs.
- There are several throughout The Wheel of Time, but probably the most climactic and sudden is the cleansing of the Source in book 9. After three thousand years, male Channelers are no longer doomed to insanity and death. Under the circumstances, most people are doubtful at best about this change.
Live Action TV
Mythology & Religion
- The Bible has both historical and religious examples.
- Historically, Babylon destroys Jerusalem and takes the Israelites into captivity, ending the Davidic dynasty of kings.
- Religiously, Jesus' life and death, which replaces the Mosaic Law with principles like the Golden Rule, erases God's favoritism towards the Israelites, and changes God's modus operandi from sponsoring a physical country with borders that need defending inhabited by a single race to sponsoring a spiritual nation separated from earthly war and politics populated by anyone who wants to serve God.
- And then, a few decades later, Jerusalem gets destroyed again, this time by the Romans, and the Diaspora happens.
- Norse Mythology has the death of Baldur by Loki, Odin has one of Loki's sons killed in return, and when Loki gets mad about this and insults the Aesir, they capture and bind him. It's at this point when Loki turns from Trickster Archetype to Big Bad and Ragnarok turns from being prophecy to inevitable occurrence.
- The Spellplague that marked the transition of the Forgotten Realms from Dungeons & Dragons from 3E to 4E was essentially this. Not everyone took this change well.
- Long before that, The Time of Troubles transitioned the setting from 1E to 2E. Interestingly, the transition from 2E to 3E was merely Handwaved, the only significant change being the return of Bane. Although the final line of "Die Vecna Die!" (one of the last official 2E modules, whose purpose was largely to be an in-universe explanation of the changes) was "Nothing will ever be the same again."
- For the Mystara D&D setting, the Wrath of the Immortals boxed set was this trope. Sinking a game-setting's most powerful empire into the ocean sort of has to be an example.
- When a Critical Shift goes down in Feng Shui, if the PCs have no way of reversing this, it is essentially this.
- Back when the God-Emperor of Mankind was still up and about, the galaxy was a far nicer place, the forces of Chaos were still humans and mutants, and technology was freely available. Now Chaos has its own Super Soldiers, technology that was once common are now irreplaceable treasured relics, and the Emperor needs to burn the souls of a thousand psykers every day just to stay alive and keep the Imperial fleets running.
- The territories of the Inner Sphere tend to change frequently in BattleTech. Many changes happen over time, such as the formation and destruction of new factions. The Clans underwent the War of Reaving which annihilated several Clans and separating the Home and Sphere Clans. Clan Ghost Bear and Snow Raven have merged with other nations.
- BIONICLE's story went in a relatively steady pace for the initial three years, but after that, every succeeding year trampled over the previously established status quo until there was almost nothing left of the original plot. In "short":
- 2001: Six Toa arrive on a besieged tropical island to stop the Makuta and awaken Mata Nui.
- '02: The heroes go through a Mid-Season Upgrade.
- '03: A former important supporting character becomes the Seventh Toa, the Makuta is seemingly killed. The islanders rebuild themselves to be stronger.
- '04: Whole Episode Flashback to the ancient city of Metru Nui. Turns out the entire story up to this point was a lie, and there were more Toa and Makuta, and various other organizations, and way more islands.
- '05: Continuing the Flashback, Metru Nui is in ruins.
- '06: Metru Nui, in the present, is repopulated. Every character adopts a new life. Six former side characters become Toa. A secret organization is revealed. Makuta returns.
- '07: The new Toa change permanently and one of them is Killed Off for Real. The original island from '01 is demolished.
- '08: The island is fully destroyed as Mata Nui awakens, but Makuta takes over his body, thus the villain wins. Tons of characters are killed off. We find out Mata Nui is actually a huge robot and every character is a malfunctioning mechanoid, and as such, the whole story is the result of an unintended glitch.
- '09: We're introduced to a brand new world, Bara Magna. Mata Nui makes a new body and wins a war for the locals. Meanwhile, the original universe becomes a vile Crapsack World.
- '10: Makuta is offed, the entire original universe and every place we've seen is destroyed, Mata Nui goes back to stasis, Bara Magna becomes the beautiful Spherus Magna, every mutation done to characters is reversed, and the leader of the original group of Toa is de-evolved into his original stature. Lots of important characters get killed in side stories. Oh, and the Bionicle franchise ends.
- '11: The untied plot threads are further complicated in official web-serials, and seemingly every new chapter rewrites the story in some way, some spectacularly so. The writer must be aiming to set a record.
- Splinter Cell: Double Agent and Splinter Cell: Conviction change the series from being about Sam Fisher, badass SIGINT Ninja battling terrorists for a secret BlackOps branch of the US government, to being about Sam Fisher, badass fugitive on the run from the US government for a crime he didn't commit (although gameplay in Double Agent at least is largely unchanged, as Sam is surprisingly well-equipped for a supposed outlaw).
- Final Fantasy VI had the Big Bad pretty much destroy civilization halfway through the game.
- Final Fantasy X: From around halfway through the game, things unravel this way: Yevon is exposed to the people as a Church Of Evil, the Al Bhed reveal the airship - passing a new landmark in a society that fears technology, the Guado declare war on the Al Bhed (and later, the Ronso) after Seymour is 'killed' the first time, the party decide to Screw Destiny and kill Yunalesca - an action that ensures Summoners can't use the Final Summoning ever again. The ending itself is the largest example, with Sin vanquished forever and the Fayth put to rest, bringing about an Eternal Calm - but also leaving all of Spira to deal with some uncomfortable truths about the last 1000 years of their history.
- Final Fantasy XIII: The game ends with the Cocoon-fal'Cie all dying and Cocoon falling to Pulse as a result, only a Heroic Sacrifice from Vanille and Fang preventing it from colliding with the world below. Now without any kind of protection, and a population partially decimated by the fall, humanity is left to adjust to the wilderness of Pulse.
- The sequel (which takes place three years later) showcases the consequences, including but not limited to humans developing magic powers, humans becoming divided over whether to abandon Cocoon or not, and time itself becoming twisted and riddled with paradoxes.
- Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is a typical Naughty Dog platformer with very little plot. Its sequels though that send the characters into the future are much darker GTA-style games, with a much deeper story.
- The Neverhood's Battle of Robot Bil completely changes the tone of the remainder of the game. For a Widget Series-type story with bizarre settings and lots of bizarre humor, you would hardly expect your only allies abruptly getting killed off, leaving you all alone inside the creepy Big Bad's place where no bizarre humour can even exist, with hint messages from Willie discontinued for obvious reasons.
- Metroid Fusion has the Metroids being extinct. Unfortunately, every other Metroid game that came out after this (back in 2002) has been set before Fusion! Metroids keep being bred, and killed off in the last 2 games before this (storylinewise, those being Super Metroid and Metroid: Other M. If there is a game set after Fusion, it will either seriously shake up the plot, or somehow Metroids will exist again, keeping the former Status Quo.
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a similar case, permanently sealing Ganondorf, the Triforce, the Master Sword and Hyrule itself deep under the ocean in a finale based on letting go of the past and accepting "the winds of change". Of course, the only games set after Wind Waker are the two DS games, with the second taking place in a new Hyrule. All other games set after Ocarina of Time take place in an Alternate Timeline.
- World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is the Nothing Is The Same Anymore Expansion. While the first two expansions each opened a new continent without touching the old world, bar minor details, this expansion retooled the old content to match with the new status quo, both in terms of gameplay and story. Azeroth is hit by the eponymous Cataclysm, some zones are left completely wrecked while others change hands, and virtually every zone has its questing experience significantly revamped.
- The first third or so of the original Shin Megami Tensei was Urban Fantasy Just Before the End. That probably tells you what the rest of the game is set in.
- This is a major part of Mass Effect 2. After Shepard is brought back from the dead he/she tries to bring the old crew back together but most of them have moved on or do not want to join him, including his/her old love interests. Only two of the old squad members rejoin and they have changed during the two years. The new Normandy is not quite the same as the old one. Since Shepard now works for Cerberus and not the Alliance military people react differently to him/her.
- The entire point behind A Realm Reborn (AKA Patch 2.0) for Final Fantasy XIV is to show that the entire region of Eorzea has completely changed after the events of the Calamity, along with everyone's lives forever altered by the same event.
- During the first season of its Living World content, Guild Wars 2 regularly introduced content that was mostly removed with the next update. This changed when the Battle of Lion's Arch destroyed the game's main Hub City in spectacular fashion. Even after the event's completion the city remains in shambles due to the lengthy reconstruction.
- Team Fortress 2 centers on a petty rivalry between two brothers, Redmond and Blutarch Mann, played out through an endless net-stalemate war between their mercenary armies. The Mann vs. Machine Update, however, is based on the premise of the Mann brothers both being assassinated by their long-lost third brother, effectively putting all of the mercs out of a job. He then proceeded to try to take over Mann Co — which had been willed to a third party over half a century ago — with an army of robots, which led to the mercs being re-hired by Saxton Hale to defend it. In the real world, though, not only are all of the original RED-vs-BLU maps still playable, more are still being developed and the short Expiration Date seems to be set when their rivalry was still going on.
- Starslip Crisis when it became Starslip: The main characters starslipped into a universe where starslip drive was outlawed and almost immediately afterward crushed Katarakis' evil plans before they came to fruition (since the "present time" in this universe is two years earlier than the one in the previous universe), causing Vanderbeam to keep/regain his position as captain. The loss of the starslip drive then caused the Terran Consortium to collapse and be repurposed as the "United Star Configuration". The Fuseli is then decomissioned and turned into an orbiting space museum while Vanderbeam and his crew are reassigned to the starship Paradigm, thus making the strip a bit closer to traditional Space Opera. Jovia is still dead, though.
- And Vanderbeam's suit has become the uniform... somehow.
- Sluggy Freelance does this occasionally, but the most recent arc hit this hard. Hereti Corp finally manages to capture Oasis, Riff and Zoe are trapped in an apparently dystopian world, and Torg is slowly going insane from all of this. Oh, and Torg, Bun Bun, Sam, and Sasha are now working for the Minion Master to lay low, but that's pretty minor compared to everything else that happened.
- In Questionable Content, beginning at strip 500 when Faye tells Marten how her father had committed suicide in front of her.
- John Kossler, author of The Word Weary, states in About section that he tries to avoid Status Quo Is God and make any changes he makes to his characters stick.
- Around late 2011 to early 2012, a succession of unrelated events radically altered several of the major characters of Sinfest, changing the tone of the entire comic as a result. The previously seductive 'Nique gets an Important Haircut and a pair of pants as she turned ultra-feminist to fight 'The Patriarchy'. Li'l E takes a dive in the River Lethe and forgets all the bitterness that made him turn evil (while we simultaneously discover that he's not just a Devil Fanboy - he's the bonafide Antichrist, son of the Devil! The Fundamentalist Strawman Seymor gets shot by the Arrows of Amor, and turns into a Love Freak sort of christian instead (when he isn't busy reading erotic Jesus-fanfiction). Fuschia escapes from Satan's service and gets together with Criminy, with the two of them turning Sickeningly Sweethearts. And the previously one-shot-joke characters known as The Sisterhood of Spooky Shit (a group of tricycle-riding girls fighting misogyny) takes a level in badass and now seem to be directly facing off against Satan himself, and his support of the Patriarchy and sex-industry. Slick - who doesn't get nearly the screentime he used to - attempts to forgo his Casanova Wannabe, pretend-pimp ways in order to win over the changed 'Nique - resulting in the creation of his very own Enemy Within 'Devil Slick'. Does it ultimately improve the comic? That's up for debate...
- Homestuck shakes up the status quo pretty regularly, starting off with four kids dicking around in their apartment, to suddenly turning into an alternating Just Before the End/epic RPG-esque story with the kids entering a video game-esque world. Then Jack kills the Black Queen and takes her prototype ring and runs the game's story completely Off the Rails. Then the internet trolls pestering the kids are revealed to be actual alien trolls from a previous session of the game who created the kids' universe, and it just keeps building from there.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl: Chapter 75 Lucy leaves Roseville High
- The beginning of Red vs. Blue season 6 has the Reds and Blues scattered from their familiar Blood Gulch to a half-dozen different places. While they do regroup, things are never the same—it takes them five seasons to get back to some semblance of Blood Gulch, and in that time, two major characters die permanently, they find out the war is a lie, and kill the Director. There's no way for them to go back to just shooting at one another now, as they jointly recognize toward the end of season 10.
- In Worm, with its constantly-moving Godzilla Threshold and abundance of Wham Whatevers, this happens at least four different times:
- First, Leviathan attacks the city, leaving it a wasteland filled with refugees and easy prey to supervillains.
- Second, when Tattletale jury-rigs an interdimensional portal out of two Cloud Cuckoolander's powers, opening up the possibility of escaping the Crapsack World where humanity is steadily being destroyed.
- Thirdly, the sequence of events that begins when the supervillain Skitter is attacked by Defiant and Dragon in the middle of a public school, and ends with Alexandria and Director Tagg dead and Skitter becoming a superhero.
- Fourth, the aftermath of the last Big Bad's rampage. Too many people dead to count, and The Multiverse has to rebuild, with the added challenge of interdimensional relations.
- Proving that barriers were meant to be broken, Transformers: Beast Wars did this on Saturday morning while advertising toys. At the start of each season, natch. Season two shook things up a little by introducing the Transmetals, altering the planet, etc.; season three shook things up a lot by destroying the Axalon and forcing the Maximals to move into the Ark, putting them on the defensive until the series finale.
- The third series of Transformers Animated is also seen as being very different than its predecessors, starting with Sari being revealed to be a robot and going from there. Its tone is also much darker than the earlier seasons- onscreen death starts up, for example.
- Transformers: The Movie divides The Transformers into what could be easily mistaken for two entirely different series (and indeed was released as such in Japan, with Season 3 branded "Transformers: 2010").
- Transformers Prime goes for broke in the second season finale in ways that haven't been done since the movie. Megatron has declared war not only on the Autobots but also Earth, parking a giant fortress on the ground, the team has been scattered and shot down and the base has been destroyed with Optimus inside.
- The third season continues to ramp this up. First, Bumblebee gets a new paint job, Ultra Magnus joins Team Prime, Shockwave returns and brings with him the wrath of the Predacons, and oh yeah, Optimus gets revived into a new body with a frickin jet pack! The only thing that returns to status quo is that the Decepticons' new base is destroyed.
- Daria: The final episode of season 3, "Jane's Addition," marked a major change in the series. For instance, it introduced Tom Sloan, who would become a major love interest of Jane and then Daria while Daria finally gets over her infatuation with Trent when he lets her down on a school project. Furthermore, it marked the discarding of the series' Reset Button to begin a Story Arc in which all the characters begin to mature while facing situations that would change them forever.
- Any major technological development in the field of warfare is one of these, but the development of the atomic bomb was something totally unprecedented; a weapon of such terrible power that we are afraid to use it.
- The Industrial Revolution. A few hundred unskilled laborers can now do the work of several times as many skilled artisans, and ownership of agricultural land is no longer the primary method of joining the wealthy elite.
- Antibiotics. Diseases that previously required weeks of convalescence at best could now be cured in a matter of days.
- The Internet. Need we even elaborate?
- Real Life itself. Nothing ever stays the same for too long and as a wise man once said, "the only constant is change." Every ten or twenty years or so something big happens and the global picture changes. The Civil Rights movement. Perestroika and fall of the Soviet Union. The attack on the WTC and the War on Terror. After 2012, which represented the end and restart of the Mayan calendar, we entered into another big transition which was started by the global financial crisis, and no one knows what will be next. Only not very smart old folks can think that everything will be as it is right now.
- People get older and do change over time, for better or worse. Sometimes you part ways with friends and meet new ones, move to different places, get fired from and/or quit your job and find another, possibly better one, get married, have kids, reunite with your old friends later on in life (and maybe introduce them to some of the new ones you've made), and etc. Overall things change constantly, and it doesn't always have to be a bad thing.
- Many futurists are considering that the pace of change itself is accelerating due to technological progress bootstrapping on itself, Moore's Law being a popular aspect of the concept. From current trends alone we may deduce that in a matter of a decade, we're likely to have robust humanoid robots, self-driving cars, personalized health care based on individual genomic analysis, technology replacing most occupations based on routine work and processing data, widespread solar power production capability in every building displacing much of the fossil fuel infrastructure, 3D-printing revolutionizing manufacturing, new materials such as graphene finally getting to market, and of course developments we can't even foresee yet. No wonder many are confident The Singularity will arrive right on track.
- Moore's Law (at least regarding clock-speed), however, ended up hitting the proverbial "wall" in the mid '00s due to something that everybody should have seen coming: the laws of physics. Electricity travels through circuit traces at slightly less than the speed of light. Light travels at approximately 300,000,000 meters per second. Ergo, in one nanosecond (a billionth of a second), it can travel just short of 0.3 meters. Your CPU clock cycle can only be as fast as it takes for electricity to travel the length of the longest circuit trace in your mainboard. That's why CPU clock speeds maxed out betwixt three and four gigahertz. This helped cue the development of light-based logic gates and optical circuitry, as well as quantum processors (whose computational speed is effectively a variable and whose theoretical limits are harder to pin down), as well as considerably more research into parallel processing and self-reconfiguring circuitry, so the world is continuing to surprise.
- Your life. Odds are it's not quite the same as it was even five years ago.
- For that matter, going through puberty. That's when everything starts to change...
- This trope was invoked by the media within minutes of the world realizing the 9/11 attacks were not an accident. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy as a result.