Nothing Is the Same Anymore

Dragon renovations tend to be drastic.

"Everything is different now!"
Mabel Pines, Gravity Falls

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.

SPOILERS AHEAD. You have been warned.


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     Anime and Manga  
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes pulls this three times after Whamtastical episodes aolving 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. Even that got drastically changed when Griffith manipulated Skull Knight's power to fuse all the planes of existence together.
  • Code Geass:
    • The series developed 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. 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).
  • Mai-Hime. 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 Striker S 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.
  • Everything changed when Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle entered the Acid!Tokyo arc, where the Syaoran who's been with the group since the beginning is a clone and the real one escapes only to arrive too late when the clone attacks his former companions which includes ripping out Fai's right eye. It goes downhill afterwards where Fai's past is revealed and that Sakura is also a clone.
  • This also happens to its companion manga, XxxHolic where Watanuki's past is revealed and Yuuko turns out to be Dead All Along, with Watanuki taking her place as the shop owner.

     Comic Books  
  • 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 collapsing, 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • In Origin Story, Alex Harris effectively tells the US government that she will be watching their every move, and that if she sees them do something that crosses what she considers a Moral Event Horizon, she will come down on them hard. And she will keep coming down on them until they get the message. When Tony Stark points out that this is effectively a “terrorist threat”, Alex counters that its actually more akin to a parent telling their children to stop fighting or they'll be sent to their room.

  • 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.
  • Jurassic World marks this point for the Jurassic Park series. As the movie opens, the franchise's resident Mega Corp. InGen has been bought out by their rivals in the Masrani Corporation, who have finally managed to open the world's first successful dinosaur theme park. While the other movies took place in deserted islands and unopened park sites, Jurassic World marks the first entry to feature a thriving, fully functional park filled with vulnerable tourists. There's a new setting, and now way more things that can go wrong.

  • 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  
  • Agents Of SHIELD just had one that synchronized with the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier: the reveal that HYDRA has been hidden within SHIELD since its inception, and that the Clairvoyant was actually a SHIELD agent who used his security clearance to stay ahead of the Team. By the end of the season, Coulson has become director of SHIELD, which at the moment consists of himself, the five agents under his command, and the agent in charge of their one and only base of operations. It's a pretty jarring change from the massive Government Agency of Fiction we were introduced to when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was first formed.
  • Babylon 5 had many, many such moments, as almost every episode left the world different than it had started. In fact, "Nothing's the same anymore" is the last spoken line of season 1, spoken by Commander Sinclair. After the assassination of the Earth Alliance president, Delenn in a chrysalis, and Garibaldi being shot you can understand why Sinclair feels that way.
  • Friends:
    • Half-way season 3, when Ross cheats on Rachel the dynamics of their relationship literally never go back to be the same.
    Rachel: I can't... You're a totally different person to me now. Now this has changed things... forever...
    • Later in the show, Ross gets married and Monica and Chandler sleep together. Ross's marriage ends almost immediately, and they keep teasing a quick and quiet end to Monica and Chandler's relationship. But they continue dating, stay together and end up getting married. Their marriage is the start of the Friends 'growing up' and tellingly the series ends with them moving to the suburbs with their children.
    • Rachel's pregnancy at the end of Season 7.
  • The Series 2 finale of Skins both averts this and plays it straight. On the one hand, one character died, two others left for America and the rest of the group parted ways. On the other hand, an entirely new cast was introduced for Series 3, thus restoring the status quo of a teenage school drama.
  • End of Season 4 of Supernatural. Not only do we have Lucifer rising from hell and kicking off the Apocalypse, the four horsemen riding and the Angels going into full out war mode, there is also a significant change in the relationship between Sam and Dean after the betrayals and secrets of the previous season.
    • Season 6, where it was revealed that when Sam's body was resurrected at the end of the Season 5 finale, he came back with no soul.
  • At the end of the third season finale of LOST, the flashbacks are revealed to be flash forwards. This Tomato Surprise is not just what changes everything however (though it definitely qualifies as a Wham Episode). What indicates the permanent change is the undeniable proof that characters make it off the island. As of now, the show is no longer an Ontological Mystery. The outside world begins to play big roles in the ensuing events, and it becomes a more clear-cut conflict driven storyline.
  • Chuck did this multiple times as it underwent very slight Cerebus Syndrome and made the Big Bads of each season become more and more involved.
    • Biggest changes: the end of season 2 when Chuck got the Intersect 2.0 ("I know kung fu!") and the end of season 4, when Chuck and Sarah get married, the heroes break with the CIA to form Carmichael Industries, and Morgan gets the Intersect while Chuck is without it.
  • Battlestar Galactica did this twice.
    • Season 2: "Lay Down Your Burdens I & II" ended with the humans giving up the search for earth, to settle on a substitute planet instead. Two years later, after getting settled, the Cylons show up and enslave them all.
    • Season 4.0: "Revelations"; Peace is declared between the fleet and the rebel Cylons, who have been made mortal and apparently been reduced in population to a single Base Ship; together, the two factions locate Earth; and upon landing on it, discover the uninhabitable, radioactive ruins of a city that looks remarkably like New York.
  • House:
    • The series ended Season 3 with the departure of Dr. House's entire staff, to be replaced with new staff members for Season 4. Then they all came back, but in supporting roles with the new team taking most of the camera time. Then at the end of season 5 House goes crazy.
    • The final season was missing a major supporting character (Cuddy, replaced by Foreman, a former team member and new Dean of Medicine after Cuddy's departure). The final episode brought back everyone who'd ever been on the team for at least a cameo, including the dead one (Kutner) and Amber (never technically part of the team proper and also dead).
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did this partially when they introduced the Dominion. Although it retained its interest in the Bajorans and Cardassians, the headaches of running the station, and the usual space opera elements, a hefty dose of war epic took over the rest of the series (and mixed in with all of the above).
    • In the DS9 novels, Bajor finally joins The Federation. Kira moves from a Militia Colonel to a Starfleet Captain, Ro Laren becomes chief of security and starts a relationship with Quark, Odo sends them a Jem'Hadar, First Minister Shakaar is killed off because he's possessed by evil aliens and Ben Sisko returns from the wormhole, but settles on Bajor with his family in unofficial retirement. And that's just for starters.
      • The recent TNG novels are also working to make Nothing The Same Any More (for instance The Borg eat Pluto! It's hard to Handwave that sort of thing away later). Basically, with the Canon focused on Prequels, the 24th century has been left wide open for the novels to have some fun with.
      • The even more recent TNG (and their associated crossover) novels have gone even further. The Federation and Klingons were devastated by a Borg invasion, but the Borg were ultimately defeated and are now gone, forever, with billions of former drones now having their own minds back and losing their tech (including Annika Hanson, now the ex-Seven of Nine).
    • Although not on TV, the setting of the new Star Trek MMO is based on this: the setting is the start of the 25th Century. The Klingons and the Federation are back at war, the Romulan Empire is barely holding together after Romulus was destroyed as per the new Star Trek reboot), and more.
  • After poor ratings with the initial standard Star Trek "just jet around exploring the galaxy" plot, Star Trek: Enterprise did a similar "war epic" upgrade, sending the cast on a journey to battle a hostile alien race that had launched a massive 9/11-style attack on Earth.
    • This was then followed up with a confusing time-travel storyline, which led to another change to multi-episode stories.
  • Earth: Final Conflict was notorious for significant cast turnover, resulting in a new group of main characters every season or so. The most drastic plot change happened in season 5, where the show ditched its V style plot entirely for something more closely resembling Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but without any depth at all.
  • The early seasons of Stargate SG-1 had the team cast as outmatched, fish-out-of-water soldiers exploring a hostile and alien galaxy in a desperate fight against the galaxy's technologically superior rulers. About halfway through the show, Earth became the most powerful faction in the galaxy, and the tone of the show switched to Earth being sort of the galactic police, protecting the rest of the galaxy from external threats ranging from the interstellar mafia to alien invasions by hostile lego bugs or Crystal Dragon Jesus crusaders. Which makes the idea of the Stargate program being a secret all the more ridiculous, really.
    • There was also a gradually growing international presence. At first only the US and presumably Canada knew about the SGC (Canada by default: a Canadian general officer is second in command of NORAD, and Canadian personnel work in Cheyenne Mountain and would eventually have to wonder what the hell was happening in the basement). Then the Russians had to become involved when they gained the second stargate, and were hesitant partners (and sometime rivals). Then the UN Security Council had to be informed when external threats became too obvious to hide. And by the end of the series multiple nations had starships and the Antarctica and Atlantis teams were fully multinational.
    • Another big change came at the beginning of season nine, which introduced Cameron Mitchell as the replacement to Jack O'Neill, and reintroduced new team member (or tag-along, originally) Vala Mal Doran. Although Vala was temporarily transported to the Ori galaxy, she returned, and both she and Mitchell stayed for the rest of the series and into the movies. O'Neill continued to have guest spots and was mentioned regularly, but never returned as a main character.
      • That was also a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as O'Neill was slowly phased out of the show per Richard Dean Anderson's request, so he could spend more time with his family. It also just made sense, as by that point Colonel O'Neill was in his 50s, an age at which you'd expect a highly decorated Air Force officer to be promoted to at least Brigadier General and no longer be personally involved in field operations.
    • While the cancelled Stargate Universe focuses more on the crew of the Destiny, a few episodes deal with Earth being in a state of Space Cold War with the Lucian Alliance, which has grown from an obscure criminal group to a major power in the galaxy. In fact, this is evidenced in the Universe pilot when an Earth battlecruiser is having trouble fighting off several Lucian Alliance Ha'taks, which have been cannon fodder for a long time now. This is clear evidence that the human leaders of the Lucian Alliance are not stupid and are perfectly willing to innovate (something the Goa'uld had trouble doing). Later on, the Lucian Alliance is conducting spy missions and terrorist strikes on Earth using advanced tech.
  • The last TV episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Willow activating all the potential Slayers, so that there isn't a Chosen One, two, or whatever. The Season 8 comics have entire armies of Slayers. Also, the Masquerade is finally broken and the world at large is made aware of the supernatural, plus the many deaths in the final battle against The First.
  • Angel massively reinvented itself multiple times over its five seasons. The biggest of these events comes in the finale of season four, when when Angel and company start working for the Big Bad. And in the comics, the entire city of Los Angeles is plunged into Hell.
  • A Different World was the perfect representation of this trope. It shows how students' lives change when they graduate from high school and leave home to go to college, and again when you leave college to go into the real world.
    Walter (To Dwayne) :Just remember when you finally do leave here, it's a different world out there.
  • Arrested Development did this quite a lot. Notably, somewhere in the second season, Buster has his hand bitten off by a loose seal. For the rest of the original show's run, Buster does not have a hand (he wears a hook, prosthetic hand or nothing on his hand at all from time-to-time). During season four, he gets a new hand, of sorts, but due to the season's Anachronic Order, this isn't fully explained before it's glimpsed on screen, causing what seems like a Series Continuity Error, which is probably intentional given how the series operates.
  • Boy Meets World actually does this surprisingly well after Cory graduates high school and prepares to head to college, and coming to terms with the fact that he'll be leaving home, Mr. Feeny won't be his teacher anymore, and that his favorite restaurant has closed and a new establishment has taken over. In the end, Eric tells him to take a bite of a cheeseburger from the new restaurant, and when Cory admits it tastes good, Eric explains that not all changes are necessarily bad and can be for the better if we're open to new events occurring in our lives.
  • On Heroes, when Claire regenerates in full view of the Company Man, blowing the Masquerade that Noah had spent fifteen years of manipulation setting up and keeping up.
    • And at the end of the show, when Claire leaps from a Ferris Wheel to the ground and places her bones back into place in full view of every news network in America.
  • The factions, their members, and the motivations changed between each season of The 4400. The first season was simply dealing with the immediate need to understand the incident and deal with the displaced people. Season two was more of the long term effects of what the event would cause (Including many people who also wanted powers joining a clear Church of Scientology knockoff), and the government trying to use the abducted. Season 3 dealt with more violent actions and strife among the people. Season 4 began the introduction of the super-power serum to the general public (Although it had a 50-50 rate for powers or death), and the pseudo-religious movement to save the world. Season to season, The 4400 had more changes season to season than most other shows, and it more or less worked.
  • In Primeval, Season One ends with Cutter coming back from a trip to the past and realising that he has changed time so he is in an entirely different timeline and quite literally, nothing is the same any more, up to and including one of the main characters no longer existing. This isn't rectified (as yet) so the show changes format fairly drastically for Season Two.
  • Alias did this quite regularly, in fact, one could say the only parts of the show where things were the same for a significant period of time was season one to mid-season two, and early- to late-season four. It even shook up the seeming entire premise of the show (a show about a spy) in the first episode (a show about a double agent father-daughter team.)
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles pulled this off several times, but the biggest was Cameron has traveled to the future with John Henry, John Connor travels to the future with the T-1001, who we've learned has been working with the Resistance by creating an anti-skynet program in the past, while another program exists that is trying to destroy the pro-resistance program. And now that John Connor is in the future, he was never in the past to lead the resistance, so no one in the future knows who he is.
  • Every regeneration in Doctor Who is a mild example of this.
    • The Troughton-Pertwee switch is worth special mention. None of the characters are maintained, the Time Lords are introduced for the first time, and the Doctor no longer travels in time and space (though after a few years this returned) and the Doctor starts working for UNIT. And plus it's in color.
    • The later series managed this in its first episode. The Time Lords are extinct, the TARDIS's interior has changed dramatically, and the Ninth Doctor shows up after having just recently regenerated (and changed his wardrobe) offscreen.
    • The Tenth Doctor said goodbye to all his former companions, regenerated alone, and effectively destroyed the TARDIS control room in doing so. By the end of "The Eleventh Hour", the newly minted Eleventh Doctor has a regenerated TARDIS, a new sonic screwdriver, a new companion, and a bowtie.
    • The revelation in "The Name of the Doctor" that there is a previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor.
  • The Torchwood: Children of Earth miniseries was just one big Wham Moment after another, to the point that many fans thought it would turn out to be Torch the Franchise and Run. It had already started at the conclusion of the previous series which killed two of the main cast. This series further stepped up the Wham by brutally destroying the remaining team members' base, killing another teammate and leading to the main character leaving Earth after being forced to kill his own grandson. Plus Gwen becomes a mother. Torchwood's fourth series, Miracle Day, continues the trend with a ten-episode arc set largely in the USA, with new protagonists in addition to those who survived Children of Earth. By the end of the season two of the new protagonists have died and one of them has become immortal.
  • The Season 4 final episode of iCarly has a Shocking Swerve which confirms Sam is in love with Freddie, who already has an existing thing with Carly who might be hiding her own hidden feelings for Freddie. The creator of the show accidentally leaked most of the episodes from season 5 (he removed and replaced the picture). If the episode titles are true, it will destroy the Status Quo Is God element of the show, and ramp it up into a full fledged Love Triangle.
    • Subverted: After a five episode stint, everything went back to the way it was before.
  • Season 4 of Eureka seriously shakes up the status quo by transporting five main characters and Dr. Grant to an alternate timeline where their relationships, personalities, or jobs may be very different. This lasted until the series finale.
  • Red Dwarf did this twice. Firstly in Series 6, where the crew lose the eponymous ship, and once again when they get it back at the end of Series 7 - but all the crew that died in the very first episode are re-instated, so the ship is fully populated for the first time since that first episode. "Back to Earth" seems to set this up by them going back to Earth, but it's another squid like the despair squid at the end of Series 5 (Back to Reality), which also appeared to set this up by them supposedly being in a videogame the whole time. Status Quo Is God in these cases. Series 3 also changed the premise slightly, going from isolation to a more action-adventure show.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess shook things up with "The Deliverer," which saw Gabrielle commit her first kill (thus losing her blood innocence), the introduction of Dahak and the beginning of the "Rift" arc. A shaken Gabrielle even laments, "Everything's different now."
  • Game of Thrones, though based upon a series of novels that had been around for over a decade, was lauded by some critics for having the guts to kill off Ned Stark, played by Sean Bean, who had been prominently featured in the promotional material for the season, in the ninth of ten episodes. Indeed, as the series moves along, Martin's gut-wrenching style will likely be pushing the limits of what a TV audience is willing to endure with regards to the characters they love the most.
    • Much like in the books, the Red Wedding in Season 3 Episode 9 kills off King Robb Stark, his mother Catelyn and his wife Talisa, effectively ending the Stark-Lannister conflict that has been the backbone of the series thus far.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand has radically different dynamics in each of its seasons, to the point that they're all given different names. Spartacus: Blood and Sand is actually just the first season's title.
    • Season One focuses on the ludus in Capua, where Spartacus endures slavery while forming shifting rivalries and alliances with both the other gladiators and his master. It ends with about half the cast dead.
    • The second season is a Start of Darkness for the first season villains at the Capua ludus, before Spartacus even arrived. It was filmed to give the actor who played Spartacus, Andy Whitfield, time to recover from cancer. He died anyway.
    • The third season has a recast Spartacus and his gladiators waging a guerrilla campaign against Roman soldiers. Actual gladiator matches make only cursory appearances after their saturation in the previous seasons, and they actually destroy the Capua arena halfway through the season. It ends with more than half the cast dead.
  • Three key moments have changed things forever on Merlin: Arthur impulsively kissing Guinevere, Merlin being forced to poison Morgana in order to break a fatal spell over Camelot, and King Uther's death.
    • As of the end of series four, Camelot now has a Queen: Guinevere.
  • Pointed out by Abed in Community after Jeff and Britta had sex.
  • The first season finale of Once Upon a Time: The Curse is finally broken, and Mr Gold unleashes magic into Storybrooke.
  • 24 very often changed things up, but the final two seasons easily deserve special mention:
    • The seventh season saw Counter Terrorist Unit, or CTU, being decommissioned, a rogue Jack Bauer forced to ally with the FBI, longtime characters Bill Buchanan and Tony Almeida respectively dying and going through a Face-Heel Turn to get revenge on the man who murdered his family.
    • And somehow the final season managed to top it. It seemingly went with something closer to the status quo from early seasons in the series, with Jack and Chloe working with a newly recommisoned CTU in New York to protect a foreign President... then two thirds in completely threw it out the window with said President dying, Jack's love interest also dying, former Big Good President Taylor pulling a Face-Heel Turn and siding with series Big Bad Charles Logan to protect that masterminds behind both deaths to perserve a peace treaty, Jack snapping because of her betrayal resulting in him pulling one as well by going on a bloodthirsty rampage, and Chloe now desperately trying to expose the former's cover up while stopping the latter. Holy. Freaking. Shit.
  • The first episode of Mr. Show has a character musing about this, commenting "Wow, [X] has really changed. At first it's sad (his friend has "changed" into a jerk), then it's over little things (the leaves have "really changed") then it gets kinda obvious and expected ("Look at that caterpillar. Wow, it's really changed. Now it's a butterfly, thinks it's so big. And then . . .
    Ernie: Wow, look at that traffic light, wow it's really changed . . . (A bus arrives)
  • This happens two times in Frasier 's run, both of them taking place in season 7. First time is half way through the season when Frasier, under the effects of painkillers for his back, blurts out to Daphne that Niles is in love with her. Afterwards, Daphne begins to develop feelings for Niles in return, leading to Unrequited Love Switcheroo. Which eventually leads to the events of the end of the season when Daphne abandons her wedding to be with Niles and they ''finally'' become a couple. It is fully cemented when Daphne, who has almost always called him "Dr. Crane" up to that, finally calls him Niles.
  • For the first two seasons, Ant Farm was about a group of child prodigies attending high school, but come season 3, and the setting is changed to a special boarding school for child prodigies, thus leaving out half the original cast.
  • Breaking Bad is famous for its fast-paced plot that isn't afraid to change the status quo every few episodes (leading to a pretty severe case of Continuity Lockout). Still, a few episodes stand out:
    • "ABQ": Walt's cancer is cured, and Walt and Skyler separate after Skyler correctly guesses that Walt's a drug dealer. The Fawlty Towers Plot in the first two seasons is out the window for good.
    • "Green Light" and "Más": Though definitely not as Whammy as a lot of other episodes in this show, they deserve mention for having Walt quitting his teaching job and receiving an offer from Gus to cook meth full-time. At that point, it becomes clear that Walt is no longer a respectable family man who cooks meth on the side to pay the bills—he's a professional meth cook who pretends to be a respectable family man for appearance's sake.
    • "Face Off": Walt successfully assassinates Gus...but he poisons Brock in the course of his plan, making it clear that he's become a Villain Protagonist.
    • "Gliding Over All": Hank finds Walt's copy of Leaves of Grass with a dedication written by Gale, and realizes that he was the "W.W." referenced in Gale's notes.
  • In the third season finale of Fringe, the timeline is reset so that Peter died in 1985. While Peter does return and Olivia does eventually recall the prior timeline, this change is never reverted. This means that a fair portion of the things we saw from the first three seasons, including character relationships, never happened or happened in wildly different ways. And the finale of the fourth season deals with the Fringe Team getting freed out of amber in 2036, after having been encased there 20 years earlier. For season five (and thus the rest of the series), they join The Resistance against the Observer occupation in this dystopian future. And in the last episode, there is yet another timeline reset, resulting in in the Observers (at least of the kind we got to know them) never coming into existence.
  • Jeremiah invokes this by name, in episode 8, "Firewall." Jeremiah and the rest of the crew discover that not everyone over puberty died in the Big Death, and that many of the survivors are former US military holed up in a place called Valhalla Sector. Who once they're sure the disease is gone are planning to roll out a military dictatorship based on superior firepower: helicopter gunships, when no one outside has anything better than basic firearms.

    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.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.

     Video Games  
  • 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.
    • The ending to the trilogy is... epic.
  • 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 (storyline-wise, 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. Mass Effect 3 is one giant warzone from start to finish. Everything that happens, even the romances and lighthearted side quests, is tempered by the knowledge that tomorrow, everyone you know might die, and the odds are getting worse all the time.
  • 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.
  • The mobile port of Bloons TD 5 gives us version 2.0, in which pretty much everything gets much sharper in detail. However, if you want to have the classic feel, play the mobile port of Bloons TD Battles.
  • The ending of Metal Gear Solid did this for the Metal Gear saga, with an embittered Solid Snake finally cutting ties with the US military after discovering the truth about the cloning project that resulted in his birth. Metal Gear Solid 2 elaborated on the fallout from the ending, with Snake and Otacon joining forces to start "Philanthropy", a private military organization devoted to containing the threat of Metal Gear.
  • Happened after the ending of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. In the previous games of the series, the player was always send out to save the Septim Empire. Martin, the last member of the imperial Septim bloodline sacrifices himself to defeat the Big Bad Mehrunes Dagon and banish his demonic army back to the realms of Oblivion. The lack of a legitimate heir and the damages caused by The Legions of Hell left a power vacuum which ultimately caused the Empire to crumble, meaning several of its conquered provinces are already making plans on seceding.
  • Dragon Age II ended with mage circles all over the world rising up in rebellion following the Templars heavy and iron-fisted response to the original rebellion in Kirkwall, along with the Templars abandoning the Chantry in order to completely focus on putting down or wiping out the mages, completely obliterating a status quo that had been in place for nearly a thousand years.

  • 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.
  • Sluggy Freelance does this occasionally, but the "bROKEN" 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

    Web Original 
  • 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.

     Western Animation  
  • 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.
  • Frisky Dingo tried to do this in almost every episode. Friends and enemies switch sides with blinding speed, Season-spanning quests get cut off anticlimactically, and maybe three-fourths of the main cast get Killed Off for Real.
  • The Avalon and Gathering storylines in Gargoyles completely rewrote the Gargoyles' situation. Xanatos pulled a Heel-Face Turn, and the Gargoyles returned to their castle. Owen and Puck were revealed to be the same person and Puck was (mostly) depowered. The Phoenix Gate has been destroyed. And there's gargoyle clans everywhere in the world. So many conflicts were resolved that, just to provide more season fodder, The Masquerade had to break.
  • ReBoot did it very well. After an episodic first season in which Status Quo Is God, a Wham Episode kicked in, changed everything, gave the new premise some time to settle in, and then did the same thing again.
    • For those interested, the first Wham Episode had Bob expelled from Mainframe and into the Web. Enzo was now left as the new guardian. After a few episodes, Enzo was defeated in one of the games, and in order to avoid being Nullified he had to change his Icon so that the game took him with it instead. And to hammer the point home, a Time Skip came right after.
    • Basically after that episode, there is no Status Quo anymore. Wandering the net only lasts a few episodes before switching to searching the web and then switching to reclaiming Mainframe from Megabyte. Season 4 deceptively tries to reestablish the old Status Quo, but then throws it out the window with Megabyte taking over in the Cliff Hanger.
  • South Park invokes this in the episodes "You're Getting Old" and "Ass Burgers", in which Stan starts seeing and hearing everything as shit, and from there it spirals out — Randy starts a career as "Steamy Ray Vaughn", Sharon divorces him and moves downtown with her kids, Stan no longer has any friends, Cartman and Kyle become friends, Cartman creates a food franchise, and the President of the United States is a duck. All of which were undone in the end... just as Stan was starting to look forward to what the new status quo had to offer.
    • Season 4 plays with this with the much-touted "4th Grade", with the kids looking forward to big changes... only for the second episode (the Trapper Keeper one) to plunk them into the same kind of adventures no different from when they are in the 3rd grade.
    Stan: ...What the hell just happened?
    Kyle: Damn, I thought 4th grade was gonna be different!
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • The third season ended with Brock quitting the OSI and leaving the Ventures, all the Hank and Dean clones dead (rendering the main characters killable) and 24 dying.
    • The end of the first season was a pretty big change, too: The boys died. They came back in the second season, of course, but it confirmed that the boys were clones, which was only hinted at before.
  • The first two seasons of X-Men: Evolution had a sort of Masquerade thing going on where the mutants are hiding their existence from the world. At the end of season two, a Sentinel is let lose on the city and the mutants have no choice but to fight it, revealing themselves to the world. The characters try to continue their normal lives and remain in high school, but things have changed. As with the comic book source material, they have to deal with discrimination and they lose many of their non-mutant companions.
  • Young Justice: The first episode of the second season does this thanks to a Time Skip. The changes that occurred over the previous five years are only gradually revealed over the course of the entire season. The final episode, with Darkseid revealing himself, appears to set up another case of this...but season 3 never happens.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • By the end of the third season, Rainbow Dash makes some real progress in her dream of joining the Wonderbolts, Trixie and Discord are fixed, and more importantly, Twilight Sparkle has been coronated a princess and made an alicorn to match that status.
    • Also extends into the season 4 premiere and the following episode: The Mane 6 sacrifice the Elements of Harmony to revive the Tree of Harmony and save Equestria. Also they begin writing in a group Diary kept by Twilight instead of sending letters.
    • Twilight's Kingdom Part 2:
      • The Mane Six gain Rainbow Power, and with it, new powers to explore. The library is destroyed, but in its place is a new castle effectively making Ponyville into a kingdom and Twilight is dubbed "Princess of Friendship".
      • Discord's character also crossed whatever the polar opposite of the Moral Event Horizon is. He fully accepts the Mane Six are now his friends and can be truly considered reformed now.
  • Total Drama:
    • Season 3 of the series shakes up the basic formula a bit by having the contestants sing musical numbers in each episode and ends with an Evil vs. Evil finale. Season 4 goes a step further by replacing the entire cast with new characters. All of these twists have been surprisingly well-received.
    • Season 4 has also become notorious for breaking the tradition of the Final 2 being different genders. This, combined with the third season finale has led fans to the conclusion that literally anyone can win now.
  • Archer invoked this from the start of the fifth season; the spy agency ISIS was closed down by the FBI leaving all the main characters working there out of a job but with a ton of cocaine on hand starting off the "Archer Vice" arc based in Miami. Reason for throwing out one of the series' main conceits? Word of God is simply that it was getting boring and simply wanted to do a Miami Vice thing with the characters.
  • Superjail!: The third season ends with the Warden burning down Superjail and Alice and Lord Stingray escaping to Ultraprison.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Season 5 finale ends with Ahsoka Tano leaving the Jedi Order. Of course, given that this takes place before Revenge of the Sith, something had to have happened to her.
  • Futurama:
    • Played with in the ending to the fourth movie where the entire cast (and then some) are on the run and flee into a giant wormhole that was said to take them to unknown corners of the universe. However, the revived next season gives things a subtle Hand Wave that puts everything back to status quo. It was said that there was a dispute whether or not to make the change. Obviously, those against it won.
    • The ending to the fourth movie was set up to be a satisfying conclusion to the series of the "and they lived happily ever after in outer space" variety. When they got the green light for a new season (by a different network), the choice to bring them back to Earth (and the established supporting characters) vs. leaving them tootling around in Parts Unknown (and radically changing the tone of the series)... doesn't seem like something anyone should need to think too hard about. Come on, losing Nixon's Head? Mom? Zapp Brannigan? Robot Devil?
  • Legend Of Korra's second season ends with Korra now completely cut off from her past lives due to Unalaq temporarily destroying Raava after extracting her from her body. Not only that, after Unalaq is killed and Vaatu is purified, Korra decides to leave the spirit portals open to begin a new spiritual age which hopefully will lead to true peace between humans and spirits.
  • In Littlest Pet Shop (2012), one of the biggest premises was that Blythe could communicate with animals. Afraid of being considered a freak, or even insane, she kept it as her "Biggest secret". However, a little into the 3rd season, she confessed to her best friend, who in turn recalled odd moments (in her point of view) throughout the series's history which gave her solid proof that Blythe could in speak to and understand animals. And she totally accepts it.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Perry the Platypus has a secret to keep from the Flynn-Fletcher family, namely that he's an OWCA agent. In "Happy Birthday Isabella", his latest battle against Dr. Doofenshmirtz was taken to the house of Candace's best friend, Stacy. With his secret exposed, Perry was able to protect his identity via a Loophole Abuse, namely that Stacy is not a member of his family.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) kept altering its status quo in season 2, but many of these things were cosmetic changes. However, for the Season Finale, everything changed with The Invasion. After Shredder decides to do a Villain Team-Up with the Kraang again, they make their move, beginning the Kraang's second invasion of New York, only this time, more effectively. April's other friend Irma turned out to be a Kraang spy, and with his help, the Kraang trash the lair and destroy the shellraiser. Scattering and disorganized, the turtles and their allies try to fight the invasion as best they can, but disaster slowly creeps in on them. Leonardo fights the entire foot clan on his own, but is critically injured by Shredder. In turn, Kraang Prime turns Mr. O'Neil into an even more hideous Kraang mutant, and the turtles are forced to abandon April's apartment. Then in combat, Shredder manages to disable both Splinter and Leatherhead, with the turtles horrifyingly watching the latter get thrown deeper into the sewers. The turtles try a heroic Last Stand against Kraang Prime, but even with their new Humongous Mecha, they're no match, and are forced to flee New York after easily their worst defeat to date this incarnation.

     Real Life  
  • 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.
  • In the next 15 or so years, medical science will undergo another upheaval, as diseases are starting to evolve around antibiotics (the so-called "superbugs"). This will likely render many of them useless.
  • 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 a proverbial "wall" in the mid '00s due to 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. It could be (and often is) said that Moore's Law has continued through this path, although it is now more often expressed as multi-core and cheaper processors than faster processors.
      • This is not the first time that the primary driver of Moore's Law hit a wall but Moore's Law kept going by picking up a new primary driver. For instance, DRAM allowed memory to be fabricated as transistors and integrated, circumventing the limits of external memory access. Photolithography was limited by the physics of the light sources, which limited how small circuits could be until a way to apply a better light source (deep UV) was found (and even that might be replaced by electron beams, to carve out yet smaller circuits). And so on; the other wiki has a list. Every time, it was predicted that fundamental physical limits would finally put an end to Moore's Law.
  • Your life. Odds are it's not quite the same as it was even five years ago. Going through puberty, too, as it'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.