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Out of Order

A truly strange tendency that some networks have is to air episodes of a television show in an order that disregards the order that they were written in. For some shows, particularly those of the episodic variety, this will make little difference. For a series with continuity, this can confuse the heck out of viewers.

This is occasionally justified, or at least understandable, if a recent event or tragedy might make airing the episode so close to it be Too Soon.

Not to be confused with Anachronic Order, in which the writers intended for it to be this way. Also not to be confused with the common plot device for a Potty Emergency or justification for a Forgotten Superweapon. Often a symptom of being Screwed by the Network.

This trope has nothing to do with the "functional" variety of "out of order"; for tropes to that effect, see Phlebotinum Breakdown, Holodeck Malfunction, Plot-Driven Breakdown and Failsafe Failure.

NOTE: TV Tropes executives have decided that this article should not be presented in its proper order, and instead have shuffled around the example folders.

Examples:

Western Animation has its own page.

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    Comics 
  • The Belgian comic strip Suske en Wiske serializes all its albums in one unchronological mess. The first 66 black-and-white albums are no longer available, so they simply started again from number 67 (!!) and randomly republished the older albums in color again, together with the newer titles. This makes reading the albums in this new order very confusing.
  • Tintin comics were translated into English in somewhat-random order. The translators altered the dialogue occasionally to try to make the "new" order make sense, but of course that just led to further confusion when the comics were re-released in proper order without the dialogue being fixed.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the fourth season of Cybill, the title character comes back from her mother's funeral in episode 13. Her mother then dies at the end of episode 21, which aired more than three months later.
  • Seinfeld did this on a number of occasions. The first was with "Male Unbonding" which was the second episode to be filmed but the fourth to be shown. This is particularly confusing because it introduces Elaine and so those who had seen her in the previous two episodes shown would not understand this. It was reinstated as the second episode for the DVD release. The second episode where this happened was "The Stranded", which was supposed to be part of Season 2 but was held over until Season 3 because of The Gulf War. This too was put back as part of Season 2 when the DVD was released.
  • Father Ted did this in the first season — the pilot episode was actually broadcast sixth, while a VCR received in the third episode is somehow already there in the second.
    • And far more egregiously there is the car they have. They get it in the second episode of Series 2 but somehow have it in the first series and in the episode before this. The reason for this is the episode was actually written for Series 1 and was carried over to Series 2. This is presumably because they decided to use the pilot episode in Series 1 instead.
  • Firefly's episodes (that were actually aired) were aired in a seemingly random order, destroying the continuity of the series. Fortunately, the DVDs have the episodes in the correct order, including the ones that Fox didn't air.
    • And seemingly specifically to add insult to injury, what was supposed to be the pilot/first episode was the very last episode aired on FOX.
    • The reason for that is that FOX didn't even want to air the pilot in the first place; they felt it was too long and too cerebral. To solve this problem, they commissioned a second, more action-oriented pilot, which became "The Train Job" ... and then aired all the episodes out of order anyway.
  • [adult swim] played the season finale of Moral Orel as the premiere. They even mentioned doing so in the preceding commercial bumper. The reason for this is that the finale happened to be a Christmas Episode, while the premiere was scheduled to air around late December.
    • Firefly and Moral Orel are even more unusual in that for both, neither the airing order, nor the production order are the intended viewing order.
  • iCarly: The reason that Status Quo Is God on the show is because Nick constantly shifts episodes on their own whims. The broadcast order is practically random compared to production order.
    • This made some of the episode themes rather odd as the 3rd aired episode, iDream of Dance actually was the 13th episode produced and the physical hairstyles have a fairly sharp contrast to how the actors & actresses appeared in the first 2 episodes. Same for the episodes iNevel (aired 6th yet produced 4th) and its companion episode iRue the Day (aired 11th but produced 15th).
    • Season 2 also has a notoriously odd example as the first 4 episodes aired were all produced after the mini-TV movie special, iGo to Japan, which aired as the 5th-7th episodes of the season.
    • Season 3 also had an episode, iCarly Awards, that was produced ahead of 3 Season 2 episodes yet it was aired as the 4th episode of Season 3.
    • The worst example is the three part crossover with Victorious being sandwiched in between iOMG which ends on a cliff-hanger and what will be the first episode of Season 5 (or the second half of Season 4, it's complicated), and required Word of God to come out and say it is out of order.
    • However, the crossover was actually filmed right after iOMG and comprises the last 3 epsiodes of that production cycle (according to the production numbers). In this case the continuity problem was created by the writers and producers and could have been avoided by airing the episodes out of order.
  • The first season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers suffers heavily from this for about the first 30 episodes. This is partly because FOX moved certain episodes around for "sneak preview" specials or to better fit certain holidays (aka a Frankenstein monster episode better fits airing on Halloween) and partly because Saban's production order for filming early episodes were based more on convenience rather than intended viewing order (which has become even more evident during the 2010 recut airings on ABC). Luckily most of these early episodes were more episodic in nature so continuity issues aren't as heavily noticed like it would have been in later seasons.
    • Later Power Rangers seasons, aside from an occasional hiccup here and there, seem to have fixed it so that intended viewing order, original airings, and production orders are all one in the same. Some of the rare hiccups to have occurred in later seasons were known to have been caused by trying to get a number of guest stars for a certain team-up episode, an unexpected Too Soon moment occurring that required an episode to be delayed and reworked, and simple human error where the wrong episode tape was grabbed by mistake and aired by the television station.
    • Nickelodeon started Power Rangers Samurai with episode 3; whereas the "real" episodes 1 and 2 weren't aired until midseason as an origins special. Needless to say, a lot of people were left confused by this very odd premiere.
    • Count on every holiday special to contain characters who shouldn't be there yet, or to be missing characters who should. Clash of the Red Rangers also has Serrator lurking around but not doing too much well before we properly meet him.
  • The first six or seven episodes of Sliders were screened in a slightly screwy order, and even released on DVD in the same way. As it was a highly episodic show, it didn't matter too much, but there were some odd moments such as the sliders starting an episode dressed weirdly on a flooding world, only to end the following episode the same way, or setting the portal device to a randomised timer after they'd already been using it that way for weeks.
    • This actually worked in the show's favor in Season 2: Fox originally wouldn't let the show resolve the previous season's Cliff Hanger ending, but Tracy Torme was able to lobby Fox to allow it (although, even then, the resolution seemed almost an afterthought, since it actually was). The resolution was included as part of the 3rd episode to be filmed... and 1st to be shown.
  • The sad treatment of many American shows when they're diffused in foreign countries.
  • During the show's run on the Sci Fi Channel, the crew of Mystery Science Theater 3000 objected to doing on-going storylines in the host segments because the channel had a habit of doing this.
    • Strangely, though, the series had rarely had ongoing storylines before, but did have something of one for their first season on the channel—because network executives asked them to do so.
    • The episode featuring Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders actually debuted after the Grand Finale episode because of licensing problems with the movie.
    • Season one has this so bad it even messes with the production code number. #104, Women Of The Prehistoric Planet, makes several references to episodes 105, 109 and 110—even announcing the winners of a contest that had first been announced in the latter—and contains conventions that wouldn't show up until later in the season, such as the desk buttons, a pre-commercial host segment immediately following the theme song, and the version of "movie sign" that we all know and love. The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide confirms that the episode number is wrong, and that the Brains have no idea how it got like that.
  • The second season of SeaQuest DSV did this. It was somewhat spoiled by hearing about a main character's death three weeks before he was killed.
  • The Tremors TV series suffered from it immensely: except for the series premiere, all episodes were shown in a pretty much randomized order, which made some secondary plotlines seem extremely weird. The most prominent example is that the mid-season introduction of Mixmaster, a new threat to the town, was shown way after the heroes had already battled its spawns on several occasions. The episode had to be presented as a flashback to preserve at least the pretense of having the continuity.
    • Other continuity problems also resulted, such as Tyler dating a woman mid-season whom he'd originally met in the Attack of the Town Festival episode which aired at the very end.
  • The final two episodes of Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet were broadcast the wrong way round (the last episode second-to-last and the second-to-last episode last), what was annoying about this was that the Mysterons were finally defeated in the last episode (or were they?), and the episodes where released on DVD in the broadcast order. This ultimately was the final nail in a coffin full of network screwing. However, at a Fanderson convention that took place that year the last five episodes of the series were screened long before they where aired, in order.
  • In the United States and UK, Babylon 5 aired in largely chronological order, although even then there were some minor ordering problems ("Day of the Dead" being the most obvious, though that episode would likely cause problems no matter where it was put). But that's not the order the episodes were filmed—usually, to keep costs down, if a set was needed for several episodes they'd film them all at once. A few countries aired the heavily arc-based show based on production order. Unlike Firefly, the DVDs follow the US broadcast order.
  • The Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade was aired in a seemingly random order determined by Executive Meddling. Plot continuity be damned. The DVDs include them in broadcast order, rather than what Word of God has said to be the proper order. Since this happened during production, there is actually no order that really makes sense.
  • Every TV broadcaster showed the 26 episodes of UFO in different order, due to the then highly-localized nature of the ITV "network" in Britain (fortunately there were no multi-episode plotlines in this sci-fi series).
  • In Australia, Channel Nine saw fit to show the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation out of order. So we saw Tasha alive after she was dead. Of course that was before she turned out to be alive because she hadn't died in a parallel reality...ah bugger it!
  • "Hea Ain't Heavy, He's My Hamster," written as the series premiere of The Weird Al Show, was broadcast tenth. This made all the exposition introducing the characters and premise seem very odd.
  • The original run of Star Trek had different production and broadcast orders. Fortunately the status quo was God.
  • "Moria", the last aired episode of The Others aired out of its intended order. Though the show had a Myth Arc, it progressed slowly and subtly enough that this might have gone unnoticed, except that it aired after the season finale cliffhanger which left the entire cast apparently dead.
  • The Lone Gunmen also had an episode burnt off after a major season- (series-) ending cliffhanger: Three weeks after an episode ending with the LGs getting captured by a SWAT team (the finale), FOX burned off an episode involving a kids' show host turning out to be a spy.
  • Two of a Kind features another case of "leftover episode airing after a season- (series-)ending cliffhanger", albeit a much less intense one than either The Others or The Lone Gunmen: A season of UST ended with a kiss at the airport, after which Carrie left for Brazil and promised, "See you in September." During the summer, after the season finale, ABC burned off an episode that featured a Shout-Out to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and (actress-wise, anyway) Michelle Tanner befriending a Goth Helga Pataki.
  • Quite a few episodes of Kids Incorporated probably aired out of order. Since the show had no real continuity, this was never a problem, but it does lead to one notable strange moment in the season four finale, "What's In A Name", where The Kid's real name is revealed to the gang — although his brother had called him by it several times in the previous episode. note 
  • Several episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street aired out of order, especially early in its run when the show was more plot-arc based. In a slightly surprising move, the relocated episodes had title cards inserted explaining their proper place in continuity. Most spectacularly, though Detective Crosetti is absent for the entire season, it's six episodes in before we discover that he'd committed suicide months earlier. This is fixed in the DVD release, which specifically notes that the episodes are in the order the producers intended.
    • Also happens near the end of Season 7. Thanks to shuffling after the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, viewers saw FBI Agent Mike Giardello resign his position, then inexplicably show up at a hostage situation in the next episodes.
    • The Adena Watson case in Season 1 got scrambled when "Night of the Dead Living," originally meant to be the third episode, instead aired as the ninth and last.
  • The Prisoner was written in one order, filmed in a second, and aired in a third; the original intended airing orders often had to be shuffled around because several episodes were not ready for their original transmission dates. Though the show has an ongoing storyline, it's so frequently surreal that it's impossible to say what the "right" order is. The most widely accepted order nowadays, and the one used for its DVD release, was deduced by the fan club, and contradicts the canonical order given by the production company, the order given by Patrick McGoohan, and the airing order, but does work out logically (that is, references to Number 6 as a new arrival antecede references to his having been there a while, and what few calendar dates we see all happen in the right order).
    • The BBC's page on the series sums up the problem neatly: "One of the many fascinating things about The Prisoner is that no-one knows what order the episodes should be watched in. There is, however, a consensus on two things. Firstly, they should not be watched in the order they were made, and secondly, they should not be watched in the order they were broadcast."
  • Sometimes unintentional: in 1978, NBC ran 17 minutes of Part 3 of the miniseries Loose Change before realizing that it was Part 2 that was supposed to be airing that evening, leading to a particularly embarassing "oops" announcement. NBC also (in 1969) ran the segments for The Monkees' special 33-1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee out of order, but given the anarchic nature of the program's structure to begin with, it's safe to say no one noticed.
  • The Sister Sister episode "Slumber Party" had a scene with Lisa and her cat Li'l Ray. The problem is that this episode aired before "Cheater, Cheater", which starts with Lisa showing Li'l Ray to Tia and Tamera and telling them how she got him.
  • "Holly's First Job" on What I Like About You was shelved when it was produced, then later aired in between a two-parter. This was sort of justified by the production schedule (part 1 was finished only a couple days before airing; part 2 would not have been ready by the next week), but the episode itself was nonsensical in this placement: Holly'd already had multiple jobs by that point, & the b-plot was part of an already-concluded story arc.
  • Supernatural: CW pushed a non-arc related episode "Monster Movie" back to air two arc related episodes closer to the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, the characters' behaviors then seemed random and no longer made much sense.
    • Similarly, the episode "Mystery Spot" was supposed to air after the episode "Jus in Bello." However, since the entire third season was hamstrung by the Writer's Strike, it was decided to air "Jus in Bello" after "Mystery Spot," since it had an ending that could qualify as a season finale in the event that the strike left the season cut off where it was.
  • Taxi was one of the victims of the infamous SAG strike in 1980, having to hold two episodes over for the following season, which were the last to feature Bobby Wheeler as a regular character.
    • Earlier on, Reverend Jim had been hired on the third episode of the second season, but he didn't appear for the following six episodes, being either this or an Anachronic Order.
  • Bones: The season three episode "Player Under Pressure" was actually delayed for almost exactly one year from its intended airdate ( it was supposed to be a 2nd season episode- aired April 21, 2008 instead of April 17, 2007!) due to the Virginia Tech shooting occurring right before it was set to air (the episodes involves a college basketball player found dead in the campus). Because of the year gap, there is an enormous loss of continuity- the biggest issue is that the episode is set before Hodgins proposes to Angela. The original episode was supposed to contain Hodgins' first proposal attempt- this was cut from the broadcast episode and replaced with a scene where they get caught being intimate on the security camera -showing they tried to make it fit in the 3rd season timeline (but the original is available on the season 3 dvd). But other conversations allude to Hodgins proposing and the general behavior of the characters doesn't match their season 3 selves. Not to mention the markedly different looks (i.e. hairstyles) of the individual characters. Succinctly, even a newcomer to the series can tell you it is decidedly out of place.
    • Also, most of season one was aired out of order. Fox got a lot of complaints about it.
  • The Bones spinoff series The Finder has similar odd airing date rearrangements. Some are understandable (to a degree), the crossover ep with Lance Sweets was moved from sixth episode to second probably an an attempt to catch more viewers. But others just cause Continuity to scream out in terror. If you don't realize the order shift, you would think Willa and Walter's jerkass behavior was flip flopping around without reason, the same goes for the status of Walter and Isabel's love life. As of Episode 10 only three episodes were aired matching their production numbers (1, 4, and 8 for the boys and girls keeping score at home).
  • Tracker held over the two part episode "Fever of the Hunt", which originally was the 12th and 13th episode, until near the end of the series, so it could be used for Sweeps Week.
  • Law and Order SVU: The 8th season episode "Scheherazade" was aired obviously out of sequence as well, since even though it was a self contained episode (no carry-over plot lines or anything), Det. Benson's hairstyle had changed distinctly several episodes back (shorter, darker, and with bangs) and in this episode, her hair was suddenly long again.
  • Law & Order: The pilot, "Everybody's Favorite Bagman," was aired as the sixth episode in the first season. As a result, the viewers saw a different DA (Roy Thinnes) than the one they'd seen for the past five weeks (Steven Hill). The layout of the DA's offices was completely different. The detectives are assigned to the 36th Precinct, after five weeks at the 2-7. And the detectives are introduced to ADA Robinette after having worked with him previously.
  • Blackadder II is probably out of order. It starts with an episode where Percy is clean shaven, but in episode 2 Percy has a beard which he shaves off and is clean shaven throughout the rest of the series.
  • The ninth (and final) season of The Drew Carey Show was aired in seemingly random order (compare the production codes to the episode order). This made the show's subplots difficult to follow, especially since the intended premiere episode aired mid-season. Fortunately, the two finale episodes were shown in the correct order, and TBS airs reruns of these episodes in their intended order.
  • The first season of Leverage (after the pilot) aired in a random order, so that the team's level of trust in each other, the leader's alcoholism, and possible romantic attractions were off from episode to episode.
  • Although a break-out success, FOX stuck their notoriously meddling fingers in the episode order of Lie to Me second season. This was quite obvious when the Thanksgiving and Christmas themed episodes both aired before turkey day; not to mention sudden changes in season and characterization.
  • An unusual example: Two episodes of season 5 of LOST were aired out of order — "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" was originally supposed to air before "316," but Cuse & Lindelof switched them around because they thought it was "cooler."
    • Solitary and Raised by Another were in a switched order, because it didn't make sense for the characters to be playing golf when Charlie and Claire were missing. It was heavily re-edited to fit...so much so that it's hard to believe they were aired out of order, what with Charlie being at the golf game and all.
  • Red Dwarf has a loose enough continuity that this wouldn't typically be a problem, until you get to Series VI - it follows on from the Series V finale Back to Reality (which was the first episode of Series V on the American VHS release). Recurring villains, cast changes, Continuity Nods and multi-part stories (all rare in the early series) mean there's a specific order to later series. They're very rarely aired in order.
    • Series I's "Future Echoes" aired earlier than intended. It was originally intended as the fourth episode, but was moved to second because it was felt that the sci-fi elements would help the show attract viewers and allow it to go on longer (the BBC was reluctant to take on the show for more than one series). The consensus by both the makers and fans is that this was a good move.
      • Series IV aired completely out of order. The original planned order was "Dimension Jump", "Justice", "Camille", "White Hole" "DNA" and "Meltdown". However, "Dimension Jump"'s parody of war was considered insensitive at the time of the Gulf War. As a result, it was moved to the fifth episode, and the episodes "Camille", "DNA" and "Justice" were moved earlier on in the series than planned. "Camille" was moved to the first episode due to the popularity of Kryten, and "DNA" was moved to the second because of good responses from fans (it is still one of the most popular episodes). "Justice" was moved to the third episode, and "White Hole" and "Meltdown" remained the fourth and sixth episodes as originally planned. Reruns of the series broadcast the episodes in the original intended order, but VHS and DVD used the original broadcast order.
    • Though Series 2's first episode "Kryten" was intended as a one-off episode, the titular character was revived for Series 3. As the last episode Parallel Universe is the only one with any actual continuity (the introduction of the character Hilly replacing Holly), it is entirely possible to watch "Kryten" as the penultimate episode of that series, and assume Kryten is being reprogrammed during "Parallel Universe".
  • Glee switched the airings of "Funk" (episode 20) and Theatricality (episode 21) because the latter was themed around the ever popular Lady Gaga, and FOX wanted it to air during May sweeps. This created a situation in which Jesse St. James is clearly stated to have left New Directions to rejoin Vocal Adrenaline, with the next episode starting with Jesse shocking everybody by revealing he's left New Directions to rejoin Vocal Adrenaline.
  • In the early to mid-nineties several American series suffered greatly from this in the Netherlands. These weren't just small, unloved or cult series, these were high profile shows with viewership well into the millions like ER. With the advent of the Internet and series like LOST, the practice has luckily died off.
  • American Gothic, also in the DVD boxset.
  • After the pilot, the next five episodes of The Good Guys were originally aired out of order, causing an episode centered around tracking an informant's ankle monitor to be aired before he received said ankle monitor.
  • Unnatural History suffered from this, but the Continuity Nods are subtle enough that it's hard to notice.
  • The FOX sitcom Back to You, which was cancelled after its first season, was certainly not helped by the fact that the episodes were shown in an order such that we noticed a certain character missing several episodes before the episode where she is fired.
  • In France, private TV channel TF1 is infamous for doing this. Unfortunately, it's also the biggest channel in terms of market-shares and usually gets to broadcast some of the most popular American series.
  • The second and third seasons of Robin of Sherwood were shown out of order, creating oddities with the supposed death of Marian's father in season two, and sowing confusion with the progress of the romance between Marian and Robin #2 in season 3.
  • In Community episode Physical Education Jeff tells Leonard he talked to his son on Family Day... a callback to the next episode's central event.
  • Nearly every episode of Code Name: Eternity, aside from the season premiere and season finale, aired out of order. This resulted in new cast members being introduced and then disappearing, the slight semblance of an ongoing plotline not making any sense, and a Clip Show featuring clips from episodes that hadn't aired yet.
  • While Game Shows don't have plots, several shows qualify for this list.
    • Wheel of Fortune tapes out of order. This was made obvious in Season 28, when following longtime announcer Charlie O'Donnell's death they pulled a Same Language Dub over his 40 yet-to-air shows. Further, with the exception of Johnny Gilbert, guest announcers never had all their episodes air consecutively.
      • Even more obvious in Season 29, as two changes were made about a month in: the addition of "1/2 Kia" tags, and the relocation of the Mystery Round from Round 3 to Round 2. However, some episodes were taped before this point, and hence come before the above changes. One "America's Game" show didn't have said tags, as it was from the second taping session aka "season premiere week", which didn't have them. (This in itself is odd, as the Halloween shows were taped first and had "1/2 Car" tags instead. Even weirder is that they also awarded $500 per consonant, which was dropped for the first two shows of the third taping session before coming back.)
    • The Price Is Right also tapes extremely out of order, but this is usually discernible only in minute changes to the set disappearing and reappearing. It became more obvious in 2003 and 2010 following the on-air auditions of replacement announcers, which sometimes changed positions in odd spots. Other times, it has led to the host mentioning something upcoming that has already happened, or vice versa.
    • The 2007-08 American Temptation didn't get around to showing the first taped week until March, and most of the run aired out of taping order. The fact it had returning champs and a growing jackpot didn't seem to matter.
    • Merv Griffin's Crosswords was a large example as, while it didn't have returning champs, it did change its payout structure about 4-5 times as tapings progressed (including the removal of Crossword Getaways and the introduction and removal of Xbox sponsorship). The first tapings didn't air for a while (the first aired show was the 27th taping), and beginning around December 2007 the airing schedule began skipping around between payout structures.
    • Family Feud has been like this since at least the 2006-07 season.
  • Series six of the revived Doctor Who was split into two parts, and after it was decided that the first half was too repetitive with all its episodes about people going around a dark area with flashlights, the episode "Night Terrors" was pushed to the second half, while "The Curse of the Black Spot" was moved into its place. The latter apparently required quite a bit of rewriting to make sense in its new spot, but specifics haven't been given. As for "Night Terrors," they got away with simply adding a little tag to the end (although it does now contain Foreshadowing for something that had already happened).
    • "The Curse of Fenric" (in which Ace mentions being scared of a particular haunted house) was intended to come before "Ghost Light" (in which the Doctor deliberately takes her there to find out what was so scary). In the event, "Ghost Light" was broadcast first.
  • Disney Channel seemed to have a habit in the mid-2000s of showing TV show episodes in an order that differs from the production order. Some awkward results:
    • The third season of Lizzie Mcguire traces Lizzie and Gordo graduating middle school and having a Relationship Upgrade, but then spending a few more episodes as middle-school friends. Miranda also came back from "Mexico" without warning.
    • A major plot point in the 11th episode of Phil of the Future depicts Phil revealing to Keely that he and his family are futuristic time travelers, despite the first nine episodes already showing her entrusted to this secret.
      • Subverted with the plot point involving Debbie Burwick revealed to be a cyborg and dying in the Halloween episode, yet in both airing and production order, she still appears in subsequent episodes before just not appearing at all in Season 2. This troper simply places that episode as the Season 1 finale for that reason.
    • A number of scenes in the fifth episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody seem intended to act as Establishing Character Moments.
    • A later victim of this was Jonas. All but one of the first season's episodes aired out of order, which made continuity a bit of a nightmare. Joe and Stella's relationship varied wildly as a result, not to mention little things like the Stellevator (the band's automated fashion designer program) being casually mentioned in the fourth episode only to be introduced as something new three episodes later.
    • The Norwegian Disney Channel does this with every show. So contigious episodes are never shown after each other. And often can one have seen little of a series yet one have seen the same episode 3 times.
  • The 11th episode of the 1990 series "The Flash" has a character mention the fact that Doctor Tina McGee had become an evil criminal. This is a story that happens in the very next episode of the series.
  • Scrubs had a few instances of this. For example, season 3's "My Dirty Secret" features the character Sean, who had left for New Zealand a few episodes earlier and wouldn't return until much later in the season, and the lynchpin of the voiceover at the end is that while everyone's dealing with their problems with sex, J.D. isn't getting any at all...even though he had had been dating Danni for a few episodes. In a variation, season 8's "My ABCs" was intended as the season premiere, but ABC decided to tweak "My Jerks" to use as the premiere instead because of Courtney Cox's guest spot, which makes some of the interactions with the new interns in "My AB Cs" seem confusing. However, the episodes' airtime switch obviously occured pre-production, as a couple hurried lines here and there establish that "My Jerks" is the premiere and that certain plot points (like JD and Elliot getting back together) have already occured by "My ABCs" — there apparently just wasn't time to rewrite the scripts substantially.
  • Happens a couple of times with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In season 4, we see the episode with Hilda hiding Daniel Boone in the attic instead of sending him back to his own time a couple of episodes before Hilda actually brings him forwards in time. In Season 6 we see Morgan talking about her dad cutting her off a couple of episodes before he actually did cut her off.
    • The Nickelodeon UK airing order of Season 3 also showed a clue to the family secret appearing on the board (and being solved by Mrs Quick) several episodes before she actually recieved the clue. Unlike the above two examples, this does appear in the coirrect order on the DVD release.
  • Chuck suffered this in its second season when due to the episode following its second-half premier (Chuck Versus the Third Dimension) being preempted by an address by President Obama, the schedule for its Valentine's Day episode (Chuck Versus the Suburbs) was unchanged so it would still air on the holiday, with the episode that was supposed to air precede it (Chuck Versus the Best Friend) finally airing the week after, which interrupted the story flow (the Valentine's episode leads directly into the fourth episode after the break). Unfortunately, the order was not corrected for the DVD release.
  • The original edition of the last DVD for the second season of Farscape altered the order of the last five episodes so the entire three-part Liars, Guns and Money arc would appear on the first disk, rather than breaking it up to maintain the original broadcast (one-part, three-part, one-part) and proper story order. Which is glaring because at the end of Liars, Guns and Money the crew succeeds in rescuing D'Argo's son, while in the episode preceding it, and which was placed on the second disk of this set, the crew is still seeking information as to his whereabouts. This decision is even stranger considering that the same thing was not done with the We're So Screwed trilogy that led into the series finale.
  • The season 1 of Blossom aired its episodes so randomly that we saw Blossom going to the prom at Tyler High in episode 2, Blossom planning her homecoming dance at Tyler High in episode 8 and Blossom having her first day at Tyler High in episode 11.
  • Stargate SG-1 had a pair of season 8 episodes, "Affinity" and "Covenant", air in backwards order. This creates a minor continuity hiccup when in "Affinity" Daniel identifies the people who kidnapped him as agents of the Trust, a group that was supposed to be revealed in "Covenant".
  • The Sci Fi Channel did this to Lexx when it first aired. Sci-Fi built their entire promotion for the "new" series (new to them, anyway) around the "sex in space!" angle, so they skipped over the four TV movies (which were retroactively called "1st season" after the series became an actual series) entirely, then deliberately selected a handful of 2nd-season episodes which had the highest levels of sexual content (implied), nudity (which got blurred out, of course), and general raunchiness, then premiered those episodes first. Trouble was, not only did 2nd season actually have a serious plot arc, but it also assumed that you had already seen the four TV movies and knew who these characters were, and the episodes Sci-Fi chose to lead off with kept referring to events which US audiences hadn't seen yet. To add to the confusion, one of the characters (Zev) changed actresses and appearance about three episodes into season 2 — a change which was explained by the plot if you watched the episodes in order, but which left Sci-Fi's audience baffled as to why the character whom they were used to seeing as a pouty-lipped redhead was suddenly a round-faced platinum blonde in one episode with no apparent explanation.
  • Til Death, due to epic Schedule Slip brought on by low ratings, and the production studio's decision to keep making episodes for the third season despite FOX pulling the show without giving a return datenote . As a result, episodes 8-11 from the season three order aired after season four had already premiered. During a double-stacked burnoff run on Sundays @ 7 in the first half of 2010, most weeks featured a season three episode and a season four episode airing alongside one another. And for extra points, three left over season three episodes aired after the official series finale.
  • The Higher Ground episode "Hope Falls", whose plot centered around a student attempting suicide, was delayed for a month because of a high-profile suicide case. One slight problem: It's also the episode where Daisy arrives at Mount Horizon, meaning she comes out of nowhere for three episodes that were supposed to air after "Hope Falls", but aired before it.
  • A slight case in Eerie Indiana - the episode "The Broken Record" was intended to be the eighth episode of the series' only season, but was aired as the last. The only real continuity problem this caused is that Dash-X, who had become part of the main cast late in the season, is completely absent - despite this, it originally aired with the revised version of the opening credits that included Jason Marsden's name
  • Drake & Josh has been a victim of this twice. The fourth season premiere, "Megan's Revenge", wasn't shown until the back end of the season, despite clips from it being shown in promos AND the opening. Possibly even more egregious was the last regular episode broadcast, "Dance Contest". The reason it was delayed was so it could be aired in TeenNick's dancing episode marathon. The poor planning? Josh calls Mindy his ex-girlfriend despite being aired a month after the finale "Really Big Shrimp" when they got back together!
  • In Quantum Leap, even the episodes themselves make Quantum Leaps. At the end of "Play It Again, Seymour", the last episode in the first season, Sam leaps into the body of a rather tasty young woman. He then has to repeat the very same leap at the end of episode 3 of the 2nd season because the story that actually features the girl isn't until episode 4, "What Price Gloria?". Meanwhile, instead of making the expected leap into Gloria at the start of the 2nd season, he leaps into the body of the husband in "Honeymoon Express", a mythology episode. He has to change the future in order to stop the government abandoning the Quantum Leap project.
  • Caitlin's Way was produced as two twenty-six-episode seasons, but broadcast as three seasons of twenty-two, nineteen, and ten episodes (with one episode, "Burned," not airing during the show's original run and only showing up in repeats). The two-parter produced to open the second season was likewise broadcast at the start of that season, and makes reference to first-season episodes that had not been broadcast yet.
  • JAG: The first season episode "Boot" was meant to air after "Defensive Action", the episode where Harm is promoted to Lieutenant Commander. Due to being aired sooner, Harm gets a one-episode promotion before being promptly demoted again without anyone noticing.

    Anime and Manga 
  • A particularly bad example occurred with Tenchi Muyo!, where episodes from three very similar series were broadcast in the same timeslot in seemingly random order.
  • There was some controversy when the US DVD release of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya undid the Anachronic Order of the broadcast. The company responded by putting the episodes in broadcast order in one disc and chronological order on the other in future releases.
    • Although it does help that the first four episodes, ie a DVD's worth, are the first four episodes.
  • Here's a pretty crazy one: When Tokyo Mew Mew was dubbed into English as Mew Mew Power, not only was episode 12 aired as the premiere, episode 13 was shorn of the references to 12.
  • When Ninja Robots (aka the dubbed version of Ninja Senshi Tobikage) aired in Australia in a block of about half a dozen episodes were televised out of order. This was particularly obvious because it skipped the introduction of a major character. This alternative ordering of the episodes was repeated on the DVD.
  • Kids' WB! reruns of Pokémon were also aired out of order for a while, which may have been one contributing factor to its decline in popularity, since fans lost interest and newcomers were confused.
    • The 15th episode "Battle Aboard the St. Anne" aired first in the U.S. as part of a "sneak peek" due to it being more action-packed and therefore "interesting" to hook viewers. note  When the show was picked up for broadcast, it aired in its proper spot.
      • Good luck trying to figure out the proper order ofPokémon Special by its magazine releases alone. Seeing how being published in two or three different magazines at once is the only reason it's allowed to go beyond a single volume's worth of material unlike other Pokemon manga, expect to be very confused until the volumes do come out.
      • And for that matter, good luck trying to figure out the order of episodes after the Infamous Seizure episode was banned in the dub, especially the two episodes that feature Lickitung.
      • To clarify: Lickitung's first appearance was episode 49 in the Japanese airing; the episode in which it was captured was episode 52. Episode 53 also clearly belongs immediately after episode 52 because Togepi, who hatched in episode 50, is nowhere to be seen in that episode. The KidsWB airing further compounded this by airing these episodes after episodes 54-57 (again, by the Japanese numbering, since there had already been three skipped episodes in the dub by this point, only one of which ever aired), with a four-month break from new episodes immediately preceding it, which could easily lead to a person believing that Team Rocket just acquires all of its Pokémon off-screen as James's Victreebel, which was acquired off-screen, made its dub debut before the episode in which Jessie caught her Lickitung aired in the dub.
  • Mega Man NT Warrior was also aired out of order, moving the "filler" episodes to later, continuity be damned. At first it was thought to be KidsWB's fault, but other countries who got the show from ShoPro also had it out of order; so, all fingers pointing to ShoPro for this note 
  • KidsWB trifecta! While Nelvana did dub all 70 episodes of Cardcaptor Sakura (CardCaptors), KidsWB only aired about half of them (the more action packed and/or Shaoran-centered ones), and very much out of order.
  • Speaking of Nelvana, their dub of Medabots at first skipped some Filler episodes to get the first two "arcs" of the series to fit in a 26-episodes season (in the Japanese version, the arcs took 39 episodes). After deciding to dub the rest, such episodes were inserted as the first episodes of "Season 2". Lots of continuity headaches.
  • The English dub of the Dragon Ball franchise was subject to this to a certain extent, particularly with the home releases. Uncut DVDs of the series began in 2000 with episodes 68-74 of DBZ, with the end of the series (around 291) being released in 2003, while episodes in the early 200s were still being released in 2005. DBZ alone wasn't available in it's entirety until 2007, while the first 13 episodes of the original Dragon Ball series weren't released to DVD uncut in the US until 2009.
    • Naturally, when Toonami expanded to Kids' WB! and started showing Dragon Ball Z, the episodes shown were semingly chosen completely at random from the entire series shown on Cartoon Network up to that point, despite every episode having a Previously On segment and a To Be Continued segment. Rarely would the show even be on the same story arc on consecutive days. Since no one who started DBZ from Kids' WB! could understand what's going on, viewership plummeted, and Kids' WB! pulled DBZ out of its schedule shortly afterward.
  • The 80s Astro Boy series' episode order has been completely ignored for all English broadcast and home video releases, with some of the very last episodes airing among the first, and some of the very first episodes airing among the last. Fortunately, the very first and last episodes remained the same.
  • Slayers: The order of the movies and OVAs is not very clear. They all take place before the TV series begins, but in what order? Slayers Excellent takes place first, but since it was written as a prequel, it doesn't give the characters any formal introduction, and it's not recommended to be watched first. The Slayers Premium movie is the only "movie" to take place in the middle of the TV series, but even then... it's not very clear exactly WHERE in the series it takes place...
  • In The Nineties dub of Sailor Moon, DiC aired the first episode of the Negamoon arc after the episode Queen Beryl was defeated. They were trying to hold out the 13 Doom Tree episodes to air as a Network exclusive (Sailor Moon aired in syndication back then) other countries that aired the English dub aired the episodes in the proper order. Also for continuity reasons the Doom Trees episodes are numbered after the Beryl episodes.

    Literature 

  • An interesting example is the New Testament — few Christians realise that Paul's epistles, although they describe events after Jesus's death, are actually the oldest Christian writings. 1 Thessalonians was written around AD 51, while by all accounts, Luke and John were written after AD 59 at the earliest.
    • The Old Testament exhibits this kind of thing as well: what most Christians call the Books of History were originally from two different sections of the Jewish Bible, the Nevi'im (which puts Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings alongside the books of the prophets) and the Ketuvim (which has nearly every other Old Testament book), but early Christians reordered the Ketuvim so that all the story-like books were all together and ran (roughly) in chronological order.

    Webcomics 
  • Before Homestuck was a thing that happened, Andrew Hussie made at least three Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff comics as part of a discussion on the Penny Arcade forums; when they went up on the newly-established SBAHJ site months later, they were in a different order from the order in which they were made. The famous stairs comic, the first in the site's order, was the third made; the actual first made was the I Banged Your Mom comic, the second in the site's order.
  • Shiniez Was constantly this in the strip's older days; the strips were posted in the order they were completed, not in the order of chronology or even in the order they were thought up. Word of God lampshaded this but rarely gave help.
    • These days this is mostly averted as the comic is updating chronologically and in chapters. Previously standalone stripped have been absorbed by the progressing narrative. Though future strips and pin ups are still released, these are kept in galleries separate from the chapters now making the comic much easier to navigate.

    Music 
  • Funeral for a Friend's concept album Tales Don't Tell Themselves tells a story over each track, but the track order was chosen for flow rather than telling the story in order. The opening track Into Oblivion (Reunion) is clearly the last part of the story, as most of the album is about the perilous time at sea - this one is about how he is now escaped the dangers and is coming home. The narrator says he 'stared into oblivion and found my own reflection there', which indicates he's past the oblivion that other tracks such as 'Out Of Reach' detail.

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