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Reset Button

"Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."
T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

The Reset Button is any means by which previously occurring drastic events are made partially or wholly irrelevant by the end of the story. This is very common to American TV shows both live-action and animated, particularly from The Sixties through The Nineties, because programming directors like to have the luxury of repeating episodes in any order or no particular order at all. It is also a prime way of enforcing Status Quo Is God.

Any Reset Button events in a Time Travel story are usually related to, or caused by, a Temporal Paradox. For when hits the Reset Button on a video game, see Bag of Spilling. When the player hits it, a lot, over and over, see Save Scumming.

One of the easiest ways to break An Aesop, as it makes depicting any consequences of misdeeds in an earlier episode impossible.

Can lead to a Story Reset often in such a way that parts of the story are rewritten at a later date.

When a series heavily relies on Status Quo Is God, you can expect this trope to be used in some shape or form in order to avoid a continuity (which holds especially true for cartoons), sometimes Played for Laughs.

Three Wishes stories often end with the last wish undoing the damage from the first two.

A Super Trope to Reset Button Ending, "Groundhog Day" Loop (where the reset applies to almost everyone save for those aware of the loop), Sequel Reset (the button is pressed during the sequel).

Compare All Just a Dream, Snapback,Filler, World-Healing Wave, Opening a Can of Clones, No Ontological Inertia.

Contrast with Here We Go Again.

Not to be confused with the "End of the World" Special that concludes many anime series, in which much of the damage done in the series is reversed, but the main storylines either remain or become resolved.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Excel♥Saga, the Reset Button is actually a character: the Great Will of the Macrocosm, a floating vortex with arms. Her major purpose is to continually resurrect cast members as needed, which is quite often. Things get complicated when she not only fails to bring back Pedro, but starts sleeping with him. It turns out she and his wife are one and the same... somehow. The Reset Button gets pressed at least four times in the first episode alone...
  • In the Dragon Ball series, the Dragon Balls are frequently used as a reset button for resurrecting dead characters, recreating destroyed planets, etc. Entire series are based on the concept of collecting all the Dragon Balls to undo the damage done in the previous arc. Unlike most Reset Buttons, this one actually has limits, especially early on when a specific wish can only be made once. The more powerful Namekian Dragon Balls didn't have this limit, though, and it was removed from the Earth Dragon Balls after Dende replaced Kami. There's also a strict time limit, at least when it comes to resurrecting the dead: the wish has to be made within a year of the person's death. Which could have added complications given that the Dragon Balls spread across the world and become inert for a year after a wish is granted, and are completely untraceable until they reactivate.
  • In Sailor Moon, the title character twice serves as the embodiment of a reset button, at the end of the first and fifth seasons. Not only does she bring the entire main cast Back from the Dead in both cases, but in the first season, she also erases their memories (as well as her own) of being superheroes and saving the world, because she just wants to be normal. She is given her memories back in the very next episode, when a new enemy arrives.
    • She also acted as a reset button in the manga at the end of the Infinity Arc when she brought the entire planet back after Sailor Saturn killed everyone on it. Furthermore, she also acts as a universe wide reset button in the last chapter of the manga.
  • Code Geass essentially does this for its second season. Lelouch may know a little more about the details surrounding his mother's death, but those details are essentially unimportant to Lelouch meeting his mother and resolving the series. The reset is also part of a Gambit Roulette played by Charles Britannia to prevent Lelouch from meddling in his plans without killing him.
  • In the Love Hina anime, any time it seems there might be progression in the relationship between two characters (most usually Keitaro and Naru), an event will occur (typically Keitaro "accidentally" touching Naru's breasts with a consequent Megaton Punch making Keitaro A Twinkle in the Sky) to ensure that Status Quo Is God. Conversely, in the manga, Keitaro and Naru's relationship does progress (though occasionally in a "two steps forward, one step back" kind of way), and the Distant Finale shows their wedding day.
    • The Hinata Inn is more or less destroyed on several occasions, but always comes back.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni starts most arcs as if the previous ones had never happened; this at first seems to be Negative Continuity but the first season's final arc implies something more is going on when Keiichi freaks out (confessing to his very-much-alive friend that he can remember killing her) after suddenly remembering traumatic details from the very first arc. In the second season, we're introduced to the character that keeps pressing the Reset Button.
  • The Reset Button ending of Mai-HiME, in which Miyu shatters the pillars, restoring all the Himes' most important people to life (as well as a few of the Himes themselves), and even heals Nao's eye.
  • The end of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX's third season. Understandable, though, considering they killed off just about the entire cast. Was anyone expecting them to stay dead?
  • Miaka of Fushigi Yuugi uses her last wish to Suzaku so that the two worlds would return to normal. They don't.
  • Portions of the series Saitama Chainsaw Shoujo were rendered moot when it was revealed that the classmates Fumio sliced and diced were actually doppelgangers. The real students were locked away in another dimension.
  • In The Wallflower manga, some progress has been made with Sunako and her unladylike behavior (she hardly ever gets nosebleeds anymore, for a start), but any development that would actually change the manga dynamic for good is reset. The most infuriating example of this is a late chapter in which Sunako finally realizes that she's beautiful and Kyohei finally seems to be having a Love Epiphany in regards to Sunako, only for all of that progress to be undone in the end thanks to a couple of thoughtless words from Kyohei.
  • The end of Magikano. It was revealed that time should be reversed every year so the Demon King (Haruo) would not awaken but to put some spice in the story, this time it was too late but was resolved anyway.
  • The Animated Music Video On Your Mark has one, around 04:34, when two of the main characters are about to die.
  • In the RS arc of Pokémon Special, Norman, Steven, and Courtney die in the battle, so Ruby whips out a Celebi who brings them back.
  • The end of the 11eyes anime. Everyone except the three main characters is resurrected and loses their memories of everything bad that happened, including 'their own deaths'.
  • Seto no Hanayome. Nagasumi's house and school get destroyed on a regular basis, but always come back. Handwaved with the idea that Lunar's father owns a construction company.
  • In Mirai Nikki, Yukiteru Amano's sole reason to winning the game and becoming God is so he can wield the Reset Button and bring all his friends back to life. It won't work.
  • The ending of Fullmetal Alchemist downplayed this trope. Only one thing was reset: Roy regaining his eyesight and even that was justified by the leftover Philosopher's Stone. Permanent changes include
    • The death of King Bradley and Gruman installed in his place
    • Ed losing his alchemy
    • Ed getting his arm back and Al his body
  • In "Serial Experiments Lain", this is how the nice, child-like incarnation of Lain deals with rumors at school. Twice. It's unclear whether the events are erased, memories are erased, or whether the two are equivalent. See also Reset Button Ending.
  • Since the four "Inuyasha" movies are not entirely cannon, each includes a short scene after the credits that undoes anything that happened during the movie that might have been expected to affect the series. For example, in "The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass," the final scene returns Inuyasha and Kagome to their previous state of UST despite their earlier kiss and the end scene of "Swords of an Honorable Ruler" has Kagome put the necklace of control (which was previously broken) back around Inuyasha's neck.
  • In End of Evangelion, humanity gets reset, with Shinji and Asuka as Adam and Eve. Maybe...
    • Rebuild of Evangelion more or less confirms this too some extent with the sea's being red, Lilith's corpse being on the moon and Kaworu's omonus "The third child again huh?" and "This time, I'll show you true happiness." The title of the upcoming third film, You Can (Not) Redo, also seems to support this idea.
    • The manga ending also more or less confirms that theory (at least in that continuity), showing Asuka and Shinji meeting for the first time in a restored world where Second Impact never occurred.
  • In the original, 1969 Himitsu no Akko-chan series, after meeting a new deaf kid, the heroine Akko-chan uses her magic mirror to wish herself deaf-mute and achieve a better understanding of his plight. However, when believing to have already gotten her Aesop Akko-chan tries to wish her hearing back, she finds out that, due to having wished herself deaf and mute, she no longer possesses the ability to communicate verbally, and the mirror refuses her wish. The Reset Button hits itself, restoring the heroine at her original state, only after the protagonist is scared into her right Aesop.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka uses her wish to reboot the universe into a slightly less horrible place by making it so witches cannot exist; all it cost her in return was being forgotten by everyone except Homura. A lesser example occurs every time Homura resets time following a failed attempt to save Madoka from dying or becoming a witch.
  • In Naruto. Pain's last act is to resurrect everyone he killed during the attack on the Hidden Leaf Village, but it's implied that he can only do so within a short period of time after killing them.
  • Lampshaded in Sket Dance. In chapter 159, their wacky antics burns their club room down, and in the following chapter, when trying to explain themselves, Bossun and Himeko insists that it's a "gag manga" and that the room will surely return to normal in a week's time.
  • In The World God Only Knows, Keima has to conquer a cute but mysterious and suicidal young girl during the Heart of Jupiter arc. There's two catches, however : he's in his seven-year old body in the past, via Mental Time Travel, and he has a limited number of tries, represented by bars on the orb he's been given. If the girl he's trying to conquer is overcome with despair, she transforms into a baby and the Reset Button is pressed, sending Keima back to the start of his mission with only him aware of it, much like a "Groundhog Day" Loop.
  • In Fairy Tail, Ultear's goal for most of her life was to find a magical Reset Button that could give her back her lost childhood. At one point she thought she found it when she discovered the Dangerous Forbidden Technique "Last Ages". Master Hades then told her why it was considered dangerous and forbidden: the spell can reverse time, but it also takes away the caster's time in the process via Rapid Aging. She eventually decides to cast it anyway to prevent the Dragons' invasion. Unfortunately, she is only able to turn back time by one minute. Fortunately, that one minute is enough to save many lives, including Gray's.

    Card Games 
  • In the card game Magic: The Gathering, numerous cards can wipe the playing field clear of any combination of permanents in play and/or cards in hand. Its typical use is in fast decks against slow decks. However, cards that better match the idea of a Reset Button are Lich's Mirror and Sway of the Stars, though neither are perfect examples; Lich's Mirror only provides a reset button for one player and Sway of the Stars sets players' life totals to 7 rather than the beginning 20 (but in every other way does in fact reset the game to the beginning).
    • Karn Liberated restarts the game, but still isn't a perfect example because all non-Aura permanents exiled by it start under you control.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the card Final Destiny, due to its 5-card discard cost and the game's strict limit of only having 6 cards in your hand at the end of your turn, is virtually unplayable. (Certain other cards such as the continuous spell Infinite Cards, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin in that there is no limit to either player's hand size, and Enervating Mist, a continuous trap that sets your opponent's hand size limit to 5, subvert this rule.) More widely used but less powerful versions include Heavy Storm and Dark Hole, which wipes all spells/traps and all monsters, respectively.
    • With gameplay the way it is they're not really "Reset Buttons", so much as "what you had is in the Graveyard", and for many strategies, Zombie decks in particular, this works in their favor. The closest thing to an actual reset button is the Banned card Fiber Jar, which resets everything back to the beginning save for RFG zone and Life Points.
    • Then there's Rainbow dragon, a 4000/0 special summon with no cost other than having all 7 different crystal beasts out, his effects can't be used on the turn he's summoned, but he has 2, the first is to send every crystal beast on you side of the field (a total of nine thanks to their effect of being spells when destroyed) to the graveyard for a 1000 point boost for each, the second is remove all crystal beasts in your graveyard from the game and then return every card on the field to their owners deck.

    Comics 
  • The end of Angel: After the Fall looks this way, until you realize that everyone in L.A. still remembers Hell A. Everyone knows that demons are real, everyone remembers seeing death or possibly actually dying, and everyone knows that Angel's a hero.
  • In the Dark Xena series by Dynamite, Gabrielle convinces a Cthulhu type being to hit the reset button, causing everything to go back to the way it was before season 4 of Xena: Warrior Princess, but not without consequences....
  • The most thorough and brutal reset button ever seen was the end of The Clone Saga in Spider-Man. Over the course of the last decade, Peter Parker met a resurfaced clone of himself, got Mary Jane pregnant, suffered superpower outages, and gave up being Spider-Man to pursue family life. Everything actually seemed to be changing (some would argue for the better). Then in a four issue arc, Mary Jane was drugged and her baby was stolen, even though she thought she had miscarried (the child was never seen again, except for the alternate-continuity Spider-Girl series). And Peter's clone was killed by Norman Osborne, who had been supposedly dead for thirty years! In one fell swoop, Peter was Spider-Man again, his clone was gone, his major villain was back, and he wasn't (to his knowledge) a father.
    • Continuing the theme of Spider-Man plot regression, years later, Osborne taunted Peter by claiming to have kidnapped "May". Peter assumed that he meant his daughter (whom Osborne actually did kidnap), but discovered that his frail Aunt May had been a held a prisoner for nearly ten years, and not dead at all.
    • Yet another example occurred whenPeter rewrote the last twenty years of canon by making a deal with Mephisto. He gave up his marriage (and quite a few other historically established facts) to save his Aunt's life. It took a while, but the editors finally undid the last twenty years of stories.
  • Green Lantern: Rebirth and The Flash: Rebirth both do this by way of taking the old Silver Age stars of both series (Hal and Barry respectively) and putting them back into the starring role. Green Lantern in particular felt like this, due to the major Retcon of Parallax being necessary for it to work and bringing back the entire Green Lantern Corps.
  • James Robinson's 2 year+ World of New Krypton arc seemed to promise big and lasting changes for Superman. Kandor rescued from Brainiac and re-enlarged along with 80,000 Kryptonians (including Supergirl's parents). Superman leaving Earth, his wife and regular job to go live on the New Krypton they create. The destruction of the Phantom Zone and the release of all the prisoners it contained. Mon-El being cured of his lead poisoning. The return of Lois' father General Lane as a xenophobic human supremacist who commits some quite horrific war crimes against Superman's people, showing Kal/Clark that Earth isn't perhaps the home he thought it was. Lois being sacked from the Daily Planet. The death of Jimmy Olsen... All snapped back to the previous status quo in the over the course of the four issue War of the Supermen mini.
  • Entire plot reset in Freddyvs Jason Vs Ash: Nightmare Warriors. At the very end, Agent Wesley Carter is sent back in time and signs Freddy's search warrant. Thus eliminating the technicality that gave him freedom, preventing him from being burned and becoming a dream demon. Which makes it so all the Nightmare on Elm Street films didn't happen. In turn, Freddy was the one who resurrected Jason after he died in Jason Goes to Hell, therefore Jason will stay dead at the end, preventing Jason X from taking place. And meaning that the Freddy/Jason timeline has a "split timeline" starting at Fv J, splitting into F vs J vs A and Jason X.
  • While Les Légendaires mostly averts this trope (every story arc is at least once referenced later, and any change that happen will remain), there was at least one exception with the story arc in Book 5 and 6, involving the current villain Ceyderom travelling through time in order to prevent the Legendaries from ever existing. After all Legendaries but Jadina died trying to stop him, Jadina ends up seizing the time travelling machine, going back to a few week before Ceyderom found it and destroying, thus cancelling everything that has happened since the beginning of the story arc; apparently, even her forgot everything that has happened then. On the other hand, the arc made mention of part of the Legendaries' past, and introduced two characters (Prince Halan and Tenebris) who came back later.
  • Very explicitly set up and used in the Thanos storyline The Infinity Gauntlet. In the first couple issues, Thanos kills off half the universe, (including the entire Fantastic Four), and sets the Earth spinning away from the sun. In the last couple issues, this is all undone; Nebula, who had been horribly tortured by Thanos, took control of the Gauntlet and reset time to a point before the torture began.
  • Suicide Squad had an interesting psychological version. Late in the run of the first series, cold-blooded Death Seeker Deadshot hunted down and shot someone who was using his costume, then walked away, effectively killing and abandoning his Deadshot persona. In issues after that you can see him becoming more emotional and engaged, though no less homicidal. But in the final arc of the book, the costume is returned to him; he puts it back on (despite the bullet hole in the forehead) and promptly reverts to his old behavior.
  • Age Of Ultron both plays this trope straight and averts it. The series opens in the aftermath of a Great Offscreen War, with most of The Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four having been killed by the title villain, and ends with Wolverine and Sue Storm going back in time and preventing the whole mess from ever occurring. However, we later learn that as a result of the Reset Button being hit, violent "Time Quakes" are appearing throughout the universe, A.I.s are popping up around the globe and going absolutely berserk, and as the icing on the cake, Galactus has now been teleported to the Ultimate Marvel reality.
  • In Marvel Comics' miniseries Mys-Tech Wars, Nick Fury infiltrates a Mys-Tech compound and inadvartently sets off a chain reaction that threatens to destroy the world. The whole thing is brought back to square one at the end with Time Travel.

    Fan Works 
  • Marvel/DC After Hours has some fun with it.
    Spiderman: Wait. So, that's all Superman had to do?
    Batman: What do you mean?
    Spiderman: I mean, he just pressed the reset button, basically. I was kinda hoping for something, I don't know, a bit more... epic
    Batman: It's a perfectly plausible resolution.
    Spiderman: Yeah, but is it satisfying?
    Batman: It works within the boundaries of what was established.
    Spiderman: Yeah, but it takes all the excitement out of it if all you have to do is make it so that it never happened.
    Batman: No, that's only if it turns out to just be a dream or something.
    Spiderman: But you can't have drama without...
  • In Always Having Juice, Shadow’s Time Travel ability amounts to this; if he ever messes up, he strikes a pose and goes back in time to a point where he can start over.
  • Time Vortexes in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series usually act as these.
  • Subverted when the Author Avatar of this fanfic attempts to reverse time, stating: "Now to sort out this universe for the next poor sod who comes to write here. I unleash the power of... THE BACKSPACE!" Unfortunately, another character saved a copy and posted it on the Fanfic website.
  • Near the end of Marie D Suesse And The Mystery New Pirate Age, a fic that takes place 20 years after Luffy's execution and the deaths of the Straw Hat and Heart Pirates, among many others, it is revealed that Law/The Disinfector's plan is to return the world to normal. To do so, he needs the power of Madelyn's wish-granting ability, he needs Mar to use her logic powers to twist the rules enough to make this wish possible, and he needs Mar's father, who has not made a wish, to make the wish. It succeeds, but it results in Mar, who was conceived after Madelyn went to the real world to escape the consequences of her actions, being removed from existence.
  • An unusual example in Pokeumans in that it's part of the beginning of the story, not the end. Here, the Legendary Pokemon used their power to delete all knowledge of their existence and return humanity to the way it was without them before escaping to an alternate dimension.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Michael Crichton film Sphere employed a Reset Button. The book's ending is left ambiguous enough that one can infer that the Reset Button attempt only made things worse, though The Film of the Book lacks this Karmic Twist Ending.
  • The movie Bewitched, which already didn't make much sense, employed a reset button about 2/3rds of the way through the movie that practically took the story back to the beginning again.
  • Galaxy Quest had a very limited Reset Button: the Omega 13 could turn time back thirteen seconds. Just barely enough time to fix a major mistake. Fortunately, it wasn't a plot reset button. The movie was way too good to try that.
  • The Russian movie Day Watch ends (thanks to a piece of miraculous chalk) with a huge reset of not just all of its events, but also those of the first movie (Night Watch). Though at least there are some developments right after that and some of the characters seem to retain the memories of the original timeline.
  • The Prince of Persia film, much like it's game conterpart has the both the Sands themselves and the Dagger of Time, which allowed the wielder to undo anything they wanted. And just like the game, the events of the entire film end up being reset back to the begining.
  • In the Superman films:
    • When Lois dies in the first film, our hero starts flying around the earth and goes back in time to save her. Because we see Superman flying around the Earth, which reverses its rotation as he flies faster and faster, most viewers interpreted this scene as Superman reversing the rotation of the Earth, which magically reverses time. It was supposed to represent Superman flying so fast that he flies through time and into the past. The Earth spinning backward is a visual representation of the reversal of time, much like the hands of a clock going backwards in other time-traveling scenes. In the comics, Superman sometimes travels through time by exceeding the speed of light. He even made us forget about the earthquake that killed Lois. What earthquake? Exactly.
    • Superman's time travel ends up freeing the Kryptonian villains in Richard Donner's [superior] cut of Superman II, forcing Supes to do the "backwards rotation" thing a second time to undo all the crap General Zod started (in fairness, this was supposed to be part II's ending from the get-go; it was moved to part I after Donner got canned).
  • The 1936 film The Man Who Could Work Miracles (based on an H.G. Wells short story of the same name) employs a giant reset button. After stopping earth's rotation to make the day last forever and the Literal Genie trope operates with the effect of DESTROYING the entire surface. The main character decided he is only human after all - he wishes he'd never had his godlike powers and returns to the very beginning of the plot, minus the powers or memory he ever had them.
  • Subverted in Mystery Men: Trying to free Captain Amazing from Casanova Frankenstein's mansion, the team is confused by the toggle-switch instructions, and Mr. Furious asks if there is "some sort of reset button". When the toggles are flipped in the wrong order, killing Captain Amazing, Mr. Furious responds with, "Everybody heard me say reset button, right?"
  • The Jumanji board game; it's even there in the instructions. What it doesn't say is that the game can even undo time. It has at least the power to erase the years between starting and ending the game from history.
    • Likewise, in Zathura, the sort-of sequel to Jumanji, when the game ends the house is restored to normal and the astronaut is retconned out of existence. One of the scarier Reset Buttons, given that it involves being sucked into a black hole.
  • Funny Games uses this in a highly literal sense.
  • Star Trek (2009) hits a reset button for the universe of a franchise (apart from the prequel series Enterprise, while explicitly invoking the MST3K Mantra as a fig-leaf)
  • There was a type of reset-button used after Star Trek: The Motion Picture, when the events of the movie seemed to no longer exist as of Star Trek II. The Enterprise re-fit seemed greatly toned down from its awesome power shown, Spock no longer had his embrace of emotion gained in the movie, and events were now set 15 years in the future rather than 2-1/2. Wordof God indicates that this due to a studio-decision to depart from the old ways and appeal to a broader audience with Star Wars-like sci-fi, hero-vs-villain, derring-do and metaphor, as opposed to the original formula of logic, hard science and futuristic optimism. This was visually demonstrated when Khan hoisted Checkov in a one-handed manner unmistakably reminiscent of Darth Vader doing the same to Captain Antilles... while indicating a similar turn of character.
  • Star Trek: Generations used the Reset Button, via Picard's travelling back through the Nexus to before the star exploded, in order to bring back Kirk to help stop it from happening.
    • An unintentional aversion exists here, in that it's established early in the movie that Picard's brother and nephew recently died in a house fire causing Picard to break down in tears. Yet even when given the power to return to any point of time he doesn't even consider going back far enough to prevent his own blood relations' horrible firey death.
  • Men In Black II pulled out a partial reset button to bring back Agent K, who had been sent to happy retirement at the end of the first film. Also to stubbornly maintain the new guy-mentor relationship between J and K, the film added a layer of secrets known to K but which J was completely unaware of, despite having worked as a Man in Black for years by then.
  • Happens at the end of Dogma '95 movie Truly Human.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past for the entire franchise, as Wolverine's interference has essentially made First Class the only film in the series which is (still) canon with respect to the new timeline. By the end of the movie, Scott, Jean and Professor Xavier are alive again, Rogue has her powers back, and she and Bobby are dating again.

    Literature 
  • David and Leigh Eddings's Dreamers series ends with a massive Reset Button, using time travel to negate the existence of the Big Bad and thus negate absolutely everything that occurred in the previous novels. Almost the entire fanbase turned against the authors after that, understandably.
  • Deliberately pushed at the end of Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros. The princes of medieval Demonland, having triumphed over rival Witchland, nevertheless mourn the loss of their worthy enemies and the ending of their epic battles. Their companion the demi-goddess Sophonisba allows their entire world to be reset to just before the countries declare war, to the satisfaction of all involved, with the implication that this may keep happening for the rest of time.
  • BBC Books' last full-length novel based on ''Doctor Who'' featuring the Eighth Doctor sets up a Reset Button to clear the novel continuity out of the way of the new series, but doesn't actually press it. Instead, the book ends on a cliffhanger. Lance Parkin left the door open in case the new series bombed, as the BBC thought it might have done. In which case, novel continuity would have (mostly or completely) ignored the new series continuity.
    • The main plot point reversed is the destruction of Gallifrey and the death of almost all of the Time Lords. Which then happens again (by different means) in the Backstory for the new series. Gallifrey is clearly a very unlucky planet.
  • The beginning of the book The Toyminator applies the reset button to the main characters so that they'll be exactly as they were when the hollow chocolate bunnies of the apocalypse (not misspelled), the previous book, began. This is only its first problem.
  • A Game of Universe features both direct and indirect examples of Reset Buttons. In the direct example, Germain goes back in time seven seconds after losing a magical battle and going to hell. The indirect example comes when an angel reveals that he's been following Germain and traveling back in time every time he dies.
  • Done in Animorphs when the gang go back in time to prevent the birth of Visser Four's human host body.
    • Also done when they manage to acquire T-Rex morphs via time travel, likely to prevent it being a in-universe game breaker.
  • At the end of the Discworld novel Sourcery, Coin resets the entire Disc, undoing all the damage done by the magical war that had taken place.
  • Pratchett uses this trope again in Johnny and the Bomb. After preventing Blackbury's bombardment and leaving Wobbler in past, when they return they don't know how it was before.
  • This is becoming a theme in Pratchett: the way the History Monks are evoked to ensure the correct passage of history happens, even if it means having to manipulate the timeline to do it. Small Gods, Thief of Time and the whole Koom Valley Thing are all examples of the Reset Button in action.
    • Dean Koontz has been known to abuse it as well, you get the impression he likes to kill his heroes a few times before letting them off.
  • Jack Chalker's Well World series has a universal (as in, resets the entire universe) reset button in the vast computer known as the Well of Souls. Only one problem: You have to destroy the entire existing universe, effectively killing everyone in it in the process. No wonder the sole remaining guardian tends to wipe his own memory and has to be dragged kicking and screaming back to the Well World to do his job.
  • Tom Clancy's novel Red Storm Rising features a large-scale conflict between the Soviet Union and the NATO countries, however a treaty at the end essentially reestablishes the status quo, without any major changes. Although there are still a lot of dead people and ruined naval vessels and so forth, so it's really just a political reset button.
  • There is a giant "reset to reality" after The Bear and the Dragon deleting everything that happened in the last four books in the Ryanverse series.
  • The SF novel Space Chantey by R. A. Lafferty has a literal reset button, called a Dong Button; if you've made a major blunder, you can press the Dong Button to go back and correct your mistake. One scene makes use of the fact that, since losing all your money on an ill-advised gamble is a major mistake, it would be useful to have a Dong Button in a casino, and always make the largest bet you can make.
  • H. G. Wells's "The Man Who Could Work Miracles" is a vintage example, in which the title character chooses to undo all the damage he's caused by willing that history re-set itself to just before he discovered his powers, at which point he'll lose them forever.
  • In Before I Fall, Samantha's day restarts every time she dies or falls asleep, whichever comes first, until the seventh day, when she dies for good.
  • In Those That Wake, this seems to have been pushed in regards to Laura in the sequel. What really happened was that her memories were erased.

    Live Action TV 
  • My Name Is Earl sees Earl spending the last of his $100,000 lottery winnings in season 3. At the end of the season, his ex-wife leaves him $75,000 in savings after joining an Amish community, effectively putting Earl back where he started in the beginning of the series.
  • iCarly has pushed the button with both major couples, Carly/Freddie and Sam/Freddie.
    • It spent three seasons building up the Carly/Freddie relationship. They got together in one episode after Freddie saved Carly's life then broke up based on Sam's questionable idea that Carly's feelings weren't real, leading to a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy when the reset button gets hit and none of the trio ever speak of it again.
    • Sam/Freddie got a 5 episode arc dedicated to exploring that relationship. They break up for a myriad of reasons and never speak of it again. The Sam/Freddie arc came after the Carly/Freddie one. Not a single line in the 5 episodes even mentions the fact that Freddie was and could easily still be in love with Carly and that Carly and Freddie were an item in the past.
    • In the series finale, a conversation between Freddie and Sam over the phone mentions their previous relationship when the two toyed with the idea of getting back together. Then about 5 minutes later Carly goes up to kiss Freddie, which made people wonder what the point of the Sam & Freddie conversation was.
  • Given its dependence on Time Travel, Star Trek can often be found pressing this button:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series did push the reset button once, inexplicably, through time-travel; here, they undid events of the past by simply beaming future persons into their prior selves before the time-change, which somehow erased the future person's memory. This was a Reset Button since they conveniently claimed that by doing this, "it never happened—" when the two Air Force personnel were clearly on the Enterprise.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine finally had to introduce a branch of Starfleet called the "Temporal Investigations", in which they cited Kirk as having committed seventeen separate temporal violations; the biggest file on record.
    • One egregious reset in Deep Space Nine is in the episode "To the Death," where the Defiant returns to the station to find one entire pylon has been blown up by a Jem'Hadar raid. It makes for a shocking visual, but by the next episode the station looks like new....because they fixed it. In the Cardassian architectural style. It's unlikely that the Cardassians would have provided them with the materials to do so, though.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation has pushed the button on occasion, but often doing it very well. Episodes like "All Good Things..." and "Yesterday's Enterprise" all end with the paradoxes that caused the problem in the first place being resolved, stopping all events from happening. The difference from the later uses is in that the former case, Picard was able to remember the events that had transpired, and was a different man because of it. In the latter, the entire episode was built around the moral implications of pushing the button, and even when it was pressed, the events would have consequences later in the series.
    • Star Trek: Voyager, specifically, may have caused irreparable damage to the entire Trope Console due to its constant, eager pounding of the Reset Button. Character development still continues despite the usage of the reset button on Voyager. In fact, fewer episodes hit the reset button than don't. Most of the episodes that do are time travel episodes.
    • Voyager did manage to do it once with style, in the episode "The Year of Hell".
    • Oddly enough, one time the writers actually forgot they had pushed the reset button. A time agent is sent back to the 20th century and spends three decades viewed as a crazy bum, until the Voyager crew fixes things and meets him again in younger form, and he has no memory of the former timeline. Later, the agent shows up again and we find out that now he does remember those three decades and has a grudge against Voyager due to causing them. This had to do, amusingly, with some sort of time-induced insanity brought on by having the proverbial reset button pressed one too many times.
  • The episode of My Favorite Martian where Martin's nephew Andromeda ("Andy") shows up, ends with Martin using a time machine as a Reset Button when Andy's success in proving his and Martin's origins starts the neighbors looking for torches and pitchforks.
  • A rare example of a Reset Button without Applied Phlebotinum: the fifth season finale of Degrassi The Next Generation undid nearly everything that had happened that season, in order to get things in position for next season. Character relationships that had taken over a dozen episodes to develop undid themselves in less than ten minutes, and characters revealed that they had never really been that way. It was Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends, but also other loose ends.
  • The Torchwood Season Finale, "End of Days", features a false climax has the heroes pressing a reset button that fixes everything that's gone wrong earlier in the episode, but in a subversion of the trope, doing causes the son of Satan to physically manifest himself as a gigantic monster who kills thousands of people before the team can stop him.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Used in the Series 3 finale "Last of the Time Lords", wherein a year was reset by the destruction of the machine that kept the altered timeline running. This only resets a third of the three-part story, though, taking them back to just before the midpoint cliffhanger. Only everyone on board the Valiant at the time remember the year that never happened, which briefly comes into play much later at the beginning of "The End of Time".
    • Another example appears in "Father's Day", in which Rose rescues her father Pete from dying in a hit-and-run. Problem is, he's supposed to die, and his survival unleashes the Monster of the Week, which is only defeated by his Heroic Sacrifice, which (arguably) resets the timeline back to its original state.
    • A crueler example is that at the end of Series 4 finale "Journey's End". While the timeline is not reset at all, Donna herself is reset to her original self as her knowledge of the Doctor threatens to kill her, poor thing.
    • Also found in the Series 5 "The Big Bang"; most of the episode is devoted to finding a way to hit the Reset Button. After the Doctor presses it with a Heroic Sacrifice that apparently erases him from reality, Amy still remembers him while everyone else apparently doesn't at first — and her memories are the only way to bring him back to the universe. Also, the pressing resets a bit more than the events of the episode, like Amy's parents being restored.
    • And again in Series 6 "The Girl Who Waited". Amy gets caught in a faster timestream, causing her to have lived 36 years before being rescued. The Doctor and Rory try to save younger Amy from having to wait that long, but they need older Amy's help. She initially refuses, because it would mean erasing her own existence.
    • In Series 7 "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS", at the beginning of the episode, when the TARDIS is powering down, Clara asks the Doctor, "Don't you have a big friendly (reset) button you can push?" After it appears that they will die near the end of the episode, the Doctor manages to go back in time to that same moment and get his earlier self a device that says "BIG FRIENDLY BUTTON" on it. He presses the button and the timeline is restored to before the emergency occurred. A wink and a nod to the audience.
    • One important distinction regarding all the Doctor Who examples above is that, while a reset button has been pressed, memories of the reset events remain with at least one character (naturally, the Doctor) and occasionally others. "The Big Bang" is specifically built around this concept, while in the case of Donna Noble, the episode "The End of Time" establishes that she still retains the memories of her adventures, but they are suppressed.
    • In the show's earliest years, the TARDIS console had a literal reset button in the Fast Return Switch. It only appeared in "The Edge of Destruction", and the First Doctor intended it to take Ian and Barbara home. Unfortunately, the damn thing didn't work right, and the TARDIS hurtled back in time toward the Big Bang. The Fast Return Switch was never used again, or even mentioned in the Classic Series.
  • Every time Monk appears to be making progress psychologically, some event in the episode will traumatize him even further. (For example: a blackmailer impersonates Trudy, an actor playing him has a psychotic break...)
    • Or something less big. Almost all of the filler-episode progress is undone in the last five minutes of that episode. This began to ease off in the eighth and final season, fortunately.
  • Both 1960s/1970s TV Westerns The Big Valley and Bonanza had the same thing happening, every time a male character in the show got serious with a woman or got married, she got killed off in some gruesome fashion or died of some horrible disease, or in childbirth, on the same episode. (Exception: Hoss' mother on Bonanza lasted two episodes.)
  • The pilot of the prematurely canceled remake of Fantasy Island involved a little boy whose fantasy was that his father would turn out to be his favorite superhero. In a very blatant Lampshade Hanging, the boy says that his hero's best superpower is the "reset button" on his video game, which allows him to return from death and undo all his mistakes — which is how the boy undoes all the trouble his wish has caused at the end of the show.
  • A number of times in the Stargate Verse: the Aschen arc, "Unending" and more recently Stargate Atlantis In which Sam Carter, Dr. Keller, Ronon Dex and Teyla all die painfully and a hologram Rodney manages to get Sheppard back from the future to reset the plot. Then a building collapses on several of the characters.
    • In "Unending", the Reset Button is an actual button that's pressed near the end of the episode.
    • In the Stargate Universe episode "Time". The episode begins with a reset button having already been pushed, with the crew discovering a recording device sent back through time. It gave the crew enough information to figure out the episode's plot. By that time several characters have already died a second time, so they wind up loading another recording device with a brief summary of exactly what they need to do to solve everything, and sent that back through time, pushing the reset button a second time. A subsequent short webisode reveals that, in the main timeline, they wind up finding both recording devices. It was either one of the best episodes so far or a complete disaster.
  • Dallas infamously Ret Conned a season into being All Just a Dream.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki has the Time Vent card, which turns back time. The person hosting the Rider Wars, Shiro, uses this card to get the ending he wants, but when he discovers that it's not what his sister wanted, he uses it one last time to revive everyone.
    • Much of Kamen Rider Decade: Final Chapter is about Tsukasa trying to find a way to reset the Kamen Rider multiverse to how it was before the interdimensional collapse and the Rider War that ensued from it. After he presses it with a Heroic Sacrifice, everyone still remembers him after they have been restored —- and their memories are the only way to bring him back from the dead.
  • In an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place a genie in a lamp comes with a literal reset button.
  • After killing off all but one of the entire cast of Witchblade, what else was there to do but turn back time in the first season finale?
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "White Hole", Lister knocks a planet into the hole to collapse it, causing all time spewed out by it to become null. Kryten explains that the few weeks events leading to this point will not have happened, all the while the decor around them slowly vanishes to a field of stars. Just as the cast themselves are about to vanish, Kryten takes the occasion to tell Rimmer just how much he hates him, ending with a final "Ha!" just as they all get reset back to the start of the episode again.
  • Angel pressed the Reset Button and erased the events of the previous 24 hours in the episode "I Will Always Remember You" in order to save Buffy's life. However, as the events erased including Angel becoming human and having a perfect night with Buffy, and that Angel's price for getting the Reset Button pushed was that he alone remembered everything, it became an instant Tear Jerker.
    • Debatable price, since it was only mentioned offhand a few times, especially after that specific episode, and then the series pretended it never happened and as of season 2 Angel actively sought humanity even though the same terms would still apply, to the point where at the end of the series, Angel claims to have forgotten what it's like to be human, even though he spent almost 24 hours as a human only five years earlier. One would think after centuries of vampirism, such an experience would have a lasting impression.
      • Well, Angel's eventual humanity is prophesized to come after he plays a pivotal role in the Apocalypse, at which point his job will be done. As much a head scratcher as his signing away of the Shanshu is, it just shows a major point of the premise: the good fight never ends. And when not remembering what humanity was like he was speaking to Harmony. He wanted to make a good impression so she would believe him when he gave her the false info.
      • It can also be argued that at the time of Angel's 24 hours as a human, he had already had a pivotal role in multiple apolcalypses (on both sides, so that ambiguity is covered) so it was the fulfillment of the prophecy, and Angel threw it away. Though the later seasons of Angel indicate that "an apocalypse" and "the apocalypse" are different things.
  • LOST played with the idea for over a season. Ultimately, it didn't work and was just a Red Herring.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer does this at least twice:
    • In the season one episode "Nightmares", everyone's nightmares start to come true, but the effects are erased at the end of the episode. A debatable example, as the Scoobies retain a perfect memory of what happened.
    • A more definite example is the season three episode "The Wish". Cordelia makes a wish that propels the show into an Alternate Universe where the vampires have their run of Sunnydale. At the end, Giles destroys the MacGuffin that allowed the demon Anyanka to do this. The only character who remembers anything is Anyanka herself, who becomes human due to the destruction of said MacGuffin. Although in "Dopplegangland" the events of this episode manage to come back and bite the characters in the ass one last time.
      • And if Vamp Willow had her way, there would most likely be some literal ass-biting, most likely with herself.
    • And in the comic storyline Guarded Buffy smashes the hell out of it, going back on helping others through bodyguard work and more than managing financially to remain in Perpetual Poverty and killing vampires.
  • Cory in the House features a literal Big Red reset button. Established as a Chekhov's Gun early on. Given that it's sole appearance was in a Dream Episode, there wasn't much of a mystery as to what it was.
  • Happens once in Big Wolf on Campus.
  • Smallville is one of the biggest offenders in Reset Button land. Almost every episode has someone finding out about his powers, and then getting their memory erased, or leaving town, or dying. Only the season finales and premieres have any lasting character development. Any relationships he has will only last about two episodes before we're back to the Status Quo.
    • Season 5, Reckoning - Clark telling Lana he's an alien, proposing to her, Lana's death and Lex seeing Clark using his powers is all undone by the end of the episode thanks to a crystal given to Clark by Jor-El.
    • Season 8, Infamous, Clark's use of a Reset Button is referenced by trope name. Linda Lake writing about his secret, him telling Lois the truth about him and Chloe being ripped to shreds by Doomsday never happened. But in turn, Davis kills Linda.
  • Merlin has followed Smallville's example in many ways, even calling their show "An Arthurian Smallville". They also use the Reset Button just as much. Every time someone sees Merlin use magic, you know they're about to die, leave Camelot, or lose their memory. Also, every time it looks like King Uther might die, change his views on magic, or somehow lose his throne, the effect will be reset within two episodes. It's annoying, but an amusing game is to try to predict how the writers will get everything back to the Status Quo by the end of the episode.
    • It seems that they broke the reset button in Series 4 though, as both Uther and Lancelot die within 3 episodes..
  • Despite setting out to avert this trope, the conclusion to Battlestar Galactica's New Caprica arc at the beginning of Season 3 served as a Reset Button of sorts by killing off the Pegasus as quick as it could and resetting the show to as it was in Season 1, losing its momentum in many almost irrelevent standalones.
    • Even though the fleet's situation in Season 3 is similar to that of Season 1, they avert the Reset Button by having the characters spend almost all of the season dealing with the after-effects of the New Caprica arc: first with "Collaborators", then with "Unfinished Business", and finally with Baltar's trial which takes up the final three episodes of the season. Most of the characters and relationships were profoundly altered by the events on New Caprica. The plot was reset after New Caprica, but the characters weren't.
  • In the Heroes third Volume Villains, some of the characters referred to Hiro as their reset button in case anything went wrong in their battle against Arthur. Unfortunately, Arthur got to him first and regressed him mentally to 10 years old.
  • The third-season premiere of Chuck managed to reset a goodly bit of the core premises of the series, other than Chuck's Power Upgrade and his now-willing participation in the spy game.
    • Averted by the fourth season's end. Not only does Chuck end up marrying Sarah (putting a more-than-definite end to their UST), he's quit the CIA and started up his own private security firm. Oh, did we mention that Chuck no longer has the Intersect, and it's Morgan who has it now?
  • The children's game shows Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego and Where In Time Is Carmen San Diego do this in an interesting manner. At the end of every episode, one of Carmen's henchmen is always captured, and Carmen herself is sometimes captured. Everything is all hunky dory and the host of the show praises the winning contestant for saving the world, but then in the time between the end of that episode and the beginning of the next day's/week's episode, the reset button is hit, allowing Carmen to return to planning evil capers in every episode.
  • DAAS Kapital used this constantly and shamelessly. Whether Tim was turning into a were-cockroach, Richard had been revealed to be an exploding robot, Paul turned out to be a secret alien or rocks fell and everybody died, you could be assured that none of this would affect next week's episode in the slightest.
  • With House, M.D., the reset button is psychological. House goes through several life-altering events, and it always seems like he's going to change for the better - except he doesn't. The Button itself usually comes in the form of House's Vicodin addiction, and not surprisingly the signal that tells us he's "back to his old self" is usually him taking a pill.
  • The amusingly literal-minded children's BBC sitcom Hounded sees its protagonist Rufus Hound sucked weekly into a parallel universe where he must face off with an incompetent Big Bad who is such a Card-Carrying Villain he's actually called Dr Muhahahaha, whose preposterous scheme of the week to take over the Earth is invariably foiled by the hero at the end of each episode - in expectation of which Dr Mu has installed a literal big red Reset Button he can press at this point, which rewinds the whole episode's plot back to the start of the day ready for him to have another crack next time...
  • Parodied in The IT Crowd: one episode where Jen is in danger of being fired by Ben Genderson ends with the note that "in the excitement they forgot to fire Jen and so that whole Ben Genderson thing didn't really go anywhere".
    • Subverted with Richmond, the goth living behind a mysterious door in the IT office. The episode ends with a clear reset, with them encouraging him to back into isolation behind the door, but he continues to appear irregularly in later episodes all the same.
  • One two parter episode of The X-Files called 'Dreamland' has Mulder accidentally switch bodies with a Man In Black working at area 51. Unfortunately, they find out there is no way to switch back, but luckily at the end of the episode, everything just sort of fixes itself, with time even reversing so that no-one remembers the events that took place. It's a pretty blatant Reset Button, and doesn't even make much sense in the way it works, but the episodes are such fun anyway, most fans don't seem to care.
    • Though Mulder still has the waterbed the Man in Black put in his apartment, and is very confused by it; a later episode has him saying "It was a gift. I think."
  • Used several times in Supernatural, though the principal characters are typically left aware of what happened.
    • In "Mystery Spot" the Trickster (Gabriel) killed Dean over and over again, and then brought him back to as if nothing had happened following an excruciatingly funny "Groundhog Day" Loop.
    • By Castiel in "My Heart Will Go On" (though it was passed off to everyone except Sam and Dean as All Just a Dream) when Fate forced him to retroactively re-sink the Titanic
    • By Michael at the end of "The Song Remains The Same", where the only notable change to reality by the end of the episode was the destruction of Anna, which apparently had little practical effect on anything.
  • No matter how often Colt Seavers ofThe Fall Guy totals his truck, he has always got a shiny new one in the next episode—in spite of the Running Gag that the truck isn't even paid off yet.
  • All that paint is cleaned up impossibly quickly at the end of Community episode Modern Warfare; the school looks pristine just a few hours after the game ended.
    • Possibly lampshaded in the tag of the second season finalie, where Abed is talking to the janator with the job of spending the summer cleaning the absolutely trashed library.
  • In the Frasier episode "Bla-Z-Boy", Frasier accidentally (or not) destroys Martin's ancient chair by setting it on fire and dropping it off a 19th floor balcony. At the end of the episode, he hires a weaver and a carpenter to construct an exact replica based on old photos. The fact that the recliner seen in the rest of the series is a replacement is never mentioned again.
  • Mentioned in The Big Bang Theory. After Amy makes a drunken fool of herself, Sheldon suggests "resetting" their relationship to the point it was at previously.
  • The second-season 2 Broke Girls episode "And Not-So-Sweet Charity" seems to have hit the reset button for the entire series. At the end, Max and Caroline have sold their lease out to the building's new owners and used the money to pay off their debts ... leaving them with only a dollar in the cupcake fund, less than any other episode in the series up to this point, and basically back where they started.
  • Despite being based upon Time Travel, Quantum Leap managed to avoid this trope except in one instance: when Sam first encountered Alia, the Evil Leaper, he managed to eventually talk her down from killing him. This somehow caused her to be recalled retroactively, undoing the damage that she already had done and resetting Sam to when he first arrived in that time period.

    Music Videos 
  • "Asylum" by Disturbed has a literal case of this. The insane patient of the Asylum is having a Cuckoo Nest situation in which they're constantly trying to escape only to die or be killed as a result. The camera then closes into an image of a button with "Reset" written across it and suddenly he's back in his padded cell. At the end of the video he gets Genre Savvy to this and attempts to kill himself with a furnace to escape the doctors, except it wasn't a hallucination this time.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Over the Edge has a faction called the Cut-Ups who have the Cut-Ups Machine; feeding pieces of paper with words on them (newspaper clippings, mostly) into it and starting it up resets all of reality. Or at least, the game world—the two are not necessarily the same from the characters' perspective. Apparently, this has happened at least once.

    Video Games 
  • It's...right there on your game system itself.
  • The whole mechanic of New Game+: everything in the story goes back to however it was in the beginning, except for whatever features (usually experience levels and items) you're allowed to keep.
  • Mengsk's Dominion empire in Starcraft was literally hit with a Reset Button at the start of Wings Of Liberty. You could skip from the original Starcraft to Wings Of Liberty and not realize that there was an expansion game (Brood War) in-between where the Dominion got the living crap beaten out of them.
  • The Simpsons Game game had the ultimate reset button when they asked God to restore Springfield following an alien invasion.
  • Xenosaga made this a central plot point in the third game Thus Spoke Zarathustra and ultimate goal of the Big Bad. Wilhelm intended to use an artifact to reset time so the Universe wouldn't be destroyed by spatial expansion.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has the both the Sands themselves and the Dagger of Time, a (very) short-time reset button that allowed a player to undo huge mistakes like falling into a death trap, or taking a major beating in a fight. As well, the events of the entire game end up being reset by the end, and in the end movie the Prince uses the Dagger one last time to undo kissing the woman he fell in love with during the erased timeline, who rejects him for doing so while having "just" met her. In a unique variation, the Reset Button mechanism itself sets off the events of the second game, as the Powers That Be are out to punish the Prince for using it.
    • And it goes on... the time manipulations of Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (erasing the existence of the Sands of Time) enable Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones to happen, as they result in the Vizier never being killed by the Prince during the first one. At the end of The Two Thrones when the Prince finds his dead father and his dark side taunts him to find some way to rewind time again, he vows to take responsibility for his actions and refuses to hit the button again.
  • Final Fantasy V had a Time spell called Return or Reset (depending on which version) that you could use during combat to rewind to the beginning of the fight. This spell was very favorable to the player— it would also reset the battle condition. So, for example, if the battle began as an Ambush attack, the player could use this spell and the battle condition would most likely to be changed to a normal battle or even a preemptive attack. Also, it cost only 1 MP.
    • It also let's you attempt to steal items again, especially useful if you need a Rare Item from one of the rarer encounters.
    • Similarly several Wild AR Ms games.
    • Super Mario RPG also rewound time for battles via an item called Earlier Times. This would reset the battle back to the start, including its conditions such as the party's status and items held at that time.
    • And Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has Retry Clocks, which restart the battle if you get KO'd.
    • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team has the Miracle/Silver Badge combo, which reverts your status to the prior turn. Returns used items, cancels effects, resets countdowns, etc.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): Used at the very end, though it's suggested that Sonic and Elise still remember each other vaguely. This was a good move on the design team's part.
    • Sadly, they didn't do it well enough, it seems, as people are still arguing over the Plot Hole involving Blaze. Nevermind that the Sonic Rush subseries completely disregards that game; granted, there's the Sonic Rivals subseriesnote , but considering how the first Rivals game has no definitive ending, this is questionable at best.
      • There's also the case of how Crisis City exists in Sonic Generations where it's not supposed to, though that could just be the Time Eater messing with the timelines.
    • A reset happens in the bad ending for Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Eggman presumably uses the Time Stones to CTRL-Z everything you did in the game.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the Reset Button is one of the central gameplay elements. Link only has three days to save Termina — if he runs out of time, he has to play the Song of Time to go back to the first day, and everything that has happened to the world or the characters is reset.
    • Fortunately, the Ocarina's time magic doesn't reset everything, allowing Link to accomplish more with each new cycle.
    • You can theoretically do it all in one cycle (not counting the first reset, which is unavoidable), but you have to really know what you're doing: speed run guide.
      • ALMOST all. Some less important aspects (such as several of the minigames) will still have to be skipped.
  • Parodied in Grand Theft Auto III's ingame radio chat show channel Chatterbox, in which, while discussing video games, ironically, the show's host Lazlow and a caller get to the concept of reset buttons. The caller says "Life does not have a Reset Button" to which Lazlow responds that the show does and proceeds to prove his point by pressing said button. Since the game disc can only hold so much, the radio show must keep repeating the same things. The Reset Button on the show just explains that away easy.
  • Lufia II gives Maxim the Reset spell, which lets him reset a puzzle room to prevent you from getting stuck if you screw up a difficult puzzle.
  • The second Ar tonelico has a Song Magic called the Reset Button. It resets the battle. Supposedly, you use it to reset bad things that might happen in battle, but there's really no point... And then later on, weird things happen to the Reset Button in its so-called "upgrades".
  • Most gaming consoles have either a reset button or a combination of buttons (ex: A + B + Select + Start) which would reload the game from the menu screen. This was essentially inputted so as to not hurt the console, as turning it on/off quickly could fry some important stuff. There's even one on the computer which you are using right now!
  • Super Mario Galaxy ends with Rosalina resetting reality itself after the destruction of Bowser's galaxy ends up ripping apart the universe, effectively making the sequel a semi-Continuity Reboot.
  • The good endings of Knights in the Nightmare.
  • In The Legend of Spyro, it turns out Spyro is the Reset Button for the planet. If the Destroyer is successful in triggering The End of the World as We Know It, Spyro (and likely any Purple Dragon for that matter) can use their power to stop it and restore the world to normal.
  • Mortal Kombat 9 resets the entire Mortal Kombat series, starting at the very beginning of the first ever Mortal Kombat tournament. But since Raiden now has knowledge of the future (and the events of the future games), some things are going to change.
  • All Super Mario Bros. games. No continuity whatsoever, because Shigeru Miyamoto feels that it may limit the development of future Mario titles. Considering that Zelda, his franchise which does have a continuity, is a bit of a timeline clusterfuck, he may have a point.
  • The retries in the Blinx the Time Sweeper series act as this, reversing time to before you made the fatal mistake so you can try again.
  • Every time you ascend in Kingdom of Loathing, things rapidly go back to the way things were at the beginning of the game, requiring you to to go back and do it all over.
  • In Bastion, this is invoked but deconstructed in the Restoration ending. The Bastion completely resets the world, so the characters are replaced with their past selves, and there is nothing to stop events from repeating themselves.
  • In BlazBlue, the whole setting is a "Groundhog Day" Loop, with various possibilities playing out in a Time Loop, and then resetting itself. Several characters often die in Multiple Endings and other instances, but never canonically. In the Canon ending of BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, however, the Reset Button and the "Groundhog Day" Loop are removed by Terumi, so if anyone dies now, they die for good.
  • In the Neko Entertainment game Puddle, spilling radioactive liquid sodium into a nuclear singularity will cause a Negative Space Wedgie that completely undoes the events of the game, returning the puddle to being coffee. Just in time for the guy who poured it in the first place to return and drink it.
  • Throughout much of Ghost Trick, you're hitting little Reset Buttons here and there to avert people's fates through your powers of time manipulation. All this seems to lead to the conclusion that the game will end with everyone being saved but the universe as a whole being left intact. Wrong! The final chapter suddenly changes things drastically when you're presented with the chance to go back and undo the Plot Triggering Death itself, completely rewriting reality and ending a ten-year ordeal once and for all.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Little Busters! this happens at the end of each playthrough apart from the very last, where it's revealed that the whole story so far has taken place in a made-up world created by Kyousuke, Masato, Kengo, and the girls after a terrible bus crash left them all bar Riki and Rin near death. However, timelines can have an impact on one another - after you spend more time with Rin in one timeline, she'll become more confident during the next playthrough, while a particularly disastrous timeline ends up almost crippling her emotionally.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: The Strong Bad Email "do over" revolves around which email Strong Bad would redo if he could. At the end of the email, he decides the current email is the one he should be doing over. It turns out the Lappy actually has a "do over" setting that resets the email to its unanswered state.
  • Neurotically Yours: One episode of Foamy the Squirrel has the violent squirrel suddenly produce a 'Reboot-Button' which can be viewed here [1]. It less resets time as it does splinter the current timeline into two while making all characters of their universe aware of the new timeline. Before its use Foamy goes on a rant about how use of the button will also reset all memories, so any realisations made up until that point would be lost, it sends the show right back to the VERY FIRST EPISODE as well as paving the way for an animation change.

    Web Comics 
  • Done literally in this Perry Bible Fellowship comic..
  • The Order of the Stick, strip #570.
  • Spells and Whistles has reset itself several times while finding its own unique artistic style (the first such occurrence caused by a cease-and-desist from PvP) and eventually went on to intentionally keep on hitting the reset button as part of the story narrative. An alternate main character breaks out of her doomed comic universe to hunt down those she feels are responsible for her life coming undone.
  • MSF High: Not totally, but at the end of the day, all injuries heal, the dead rise, and transformed students can choose to change back or keep the new form forever.
  • The Way of the Metagamer has a literal example.
  • Okay, on a dare from one of his friends, Jesus of Gods Playing Poker and Quetzalcoatl went off on an adventure. Jesus ended up being doped up on something and joined a LA Gang and caused the gang to go on a Acts of Random Kindness spree causing chaos and terror all over LA. His father decided to just reset everything.
  • Another literal example exists in City of Reality, in the form of a device that allows its owner to rewind time for everyone except themselves. A point is made to show just how horribly this can be abused.
  • In a odd variation, this is part of how the plot of Misfile gets started, with the last two years of Emily's life (including acceptance into Harvard) being erased. She remembers them, just nobody else.
  • In Schlock Mercenary this is done by one Kevyn, the company Mad Scientist, who uses a special wormgate to essentially Save Scum the whole universe
  • Homestuck plays it for drama: The Scratch is a giant temporal reset button, with the purpose of starting over a session that has no hope of being completed. The catch is that the Scratch doesn't just reset the session itself, but the 'conditions' of the session, up to and including players themselves and the whole universe they are in. The kicker is that initiating it is the kids' only option right now, royally fucked up as their session is.
    • It turns out that this had already happened to the troll universe.
    • You know what the awesome thing is? All of the kids manage to escape the scratch and make it to the new session. Normally, this is completely impossible, so this is completely awesome.
  • Averting this is the Word of God reason why there is no time travel in El Goonish Shive.
    Sarah: Grace finally snapped and destroyed half of Moperville.
    Tedd: TO THE UNDO BUTTON!
  • Lampshaded in this Fuzzy Five strip.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation entry SCP-2000. The article is filled with non-stop technobabble but is otherwise played straight. The facility can rebuild humanity. And it's already been used at least twice.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Rick And Morty episode "Rick Potion #9", Rick manages to turn everyone in the world into monsters. His solution : Find a alternate universe in which that Rick solved the problem AND got killed along with Morty minutes later. Our Rick and Morty simply buried the bodies before they were discovered and took over their lives.
  • In Superman: The Animated Series, all of Mr. Mxyzptlk's handiwork is apparently undone when Superman tricks him into returning to the fifth dimension.
  • In the fourth season of Teen Titans, Raven becomes the portal for her father Trigon to enter the world, after which he transforms the entire planet into a lava-covered inferno. However, at the end of the arc, Raven calls upon the powers of friendship and deus ex machina to reset everything and restore the world to its original form.
  • Code Lyoko has a Reset Button (the RTTP or "Return to the Past" program) that gets used in the majority of the episodes, though they generally can't do this until XANA's current scheme has been defeated.
    • Later attempted to balance it out, by saying that every time they do, XANA gets stronger. So they stop doing it every episode.
      • It also has the limitation of being unable to bring people back from the dead. How the heroes know this is never revealed.
  • Erasing someone's recent memory to prevent them from "knowing too much" is a common device. This has been used in Futurama and the movie Dude, Where's my Car?, among others. See Memory Wiping Crew.
  • The three-part Time Travel episode of Kim Possible, "A Sitch in Time", undoes all memory and consequences of its events by story's end. The twist: Ron retains the memory of hating Norwegian meatcakes, even though his move to Norway was undone, and thus he never tasted any.
  • In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy frequently has to hit the Reset Button by un-wishing whatever disaster his thoughtless wishing caused this time — often delayed by lost or stolen wands.
  • The Code Monkeys episode "Todd Loses His Mind" has a very literal Reset Button Ending: just as Dave and Jerry are about to be shot by Mr. Larrity, and Todd is about to blow up Gameavision HQ, the Code Monkeys "game" locks up, and the "player" is forced to start over.
  • Subverted in a (non-canon) The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror story, in which Homer's brain is taken out and placed in a robot by Mr. Burns, but his lack of motivation and love of donuts overrides any orders given to him and he ends up only causing destruction and doing nothing. In the end Mr. Burns puts Homer's brain back, but he is crushed under the weight of the heavy robot's body. He tells his assistant Smithers to get surgical tools and ether before Homer wakes up screaming in bed, thinking the whole story was just a dream... then he notices that Mr. Burns' head was grafted onto his shoulder as a way of preserving him. A teaser of the next episode of the Simpsons involves Homer being stuck in an Sitcom-esque situation where Homer has to do what Marge asks him to and also attend a meeting for Mr. Burns, causing him to exclaim, "Oh, I hate having two heads!"
    • The Simpsons is also home to arguably the best-known Reset Button of modern times: just after the real Seymour Skinner is put on a train out of Springfield, Judge Snyder declares that anybody mentioning the events of that episode would be tortured.
      • This is briefly referenced in a later episode when Principal Skinner notes that Lisa is constantly replacing her cats and calling them Snowball to avoid discontinuity. Lisa responds by addressing him as "Principal Tamzarian".
      • A similar example occurs in the recent episode "Donnie Fatso", where Fat Tony dies and is replaced by his cousin Fit Tony, who lets himself go after the pressure of the job gets to him and becomes Fat Fit Tony, then just Fat Tony.
    • And a lampshading by Lisa: "Don't worry, Bart. It seems like every week something odd happens to the Simpsons. My advice is to ride it out, make the occasional smart-alec quip, and by next week we'll be back to where we started from, ready for another wacky adventure."
      • "Lisa episodes", with "Lisa the Vegetarian" as the exception, tend to do this. "She Of Little Faith"? Lisa's Buddhism is (almost) never mentioned again. "Lard of The Dance"? Alex Whitney never appears or is mentioned again, except for a one-liner and the occasional cameo. "Bye Bye Nerdie"? Francine and Poindextrose are never mentioned again. So it makes sense that Lisa has mild Medium Awareness.
    • Brilliantly used in the episode "Thank God It's Doomsday", when Homer asks God to take back the Apocalypse:
    God: To do what you're asking, I'd have to turn back time.
    Homer: Superman did it!
    God: Fine smartypants, I will undo the Apocalypse.
  • The episode "The Fantastic Mr. Frump" of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends featured an ordinary man who accidentally gained reality-warping powers. After being egged on by Doctor Doom and unintentionally causing a great deal of trouble (including summoning up "the weirdest creature in the universe"), everything gets reset back to normal:
    Spider-Man: I can't believe that in a minute we're going to forget something as incredible as all this!
    Iceman: As incredible as what?
    Spider-Man: (shrugs)
  • Done in almost every single episode of the Challenge of the Superfriends. The Legion of Doom would trap some or all of the Superfriends in some sort of deathtrap or Rube Goldberg scheme, but the heroes would escape and catch the villains, who would then invariably escape.
    • For an example of a Reset Button inside of a Reset Button, there is the episode "Rest in Peace Superfriends" where the Legion of Doom actually succeeds in murdering all of the Superfriends, only for them to reveal that they actually killed robot clones of the Superfriends.
    • In the final episode of the Season the Legion of Doom when trying to destroy the Superfriends with a solar flare accidently destroy the world, including themselves. However aliens visiting Earth turn back time and stop the solar flare.
  • This happens in an episode of Family Guy in which Stewie builds a time machine.
    • At the end of the episode "FOX-y Lady", Peter asks Lois how she lost her job at FOX News. She answers, "Oh I don't know. Does anyone really care?" Peter says that she's right- by the end of every episode everything is back to normal.
    • This trope is subverted in one episode: Peter loses his job and doesn't get it back at the end of the episode.
  • Danny Phantom employs this once via time travel and once with a wish. (The episode with the wish is generally ignored by fans) To be fair, it stopped quite a lot of death from occurring, including Danny's whole family. It did have (fortunate) repercussions, however. Danny is now aware that Jazz knows his Secret Identity.
  • One Drawn Together episode spoofs the Superman movie time reversal Captain Hero does this while in a wheelchair, reversing time to the Big Bang. Then he takes The Slow Path back to the present by waiting.
  • In the first of a two part episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series entitled "The Hobgoblin", Peter Parker finally moves out of his Aunt May's house to live with Harry Osborn in an apartment. To keep the status quo, he cannot be allowed to stay in said apartment, so the writers fabricated a rather flimsy excuse. During a visit by Aunt May to Peter's new apartment, which has been trashed from the previous night's housewarming party, the Hobgoblin attacks and kidnaps Harry, in the process sending Aunt May into a shock so fierce she goes into some kind of coma. She remains this way until the end of the next episode, after which she wakes up and tells Peter, to his surprise, her shock was at the mess in his apartment; not the Hobgoblin's attack. After which Peter thinks he's not ready to move out on his own, so moves back in with his Aunt and by the next episode, status quo is back to normal.
  • X-Men: Evolution has a bit: When the Brotherhood of Mutants attacks a high-school football game and reveals all of the X-Men, you hope. Then Professor Xavier mind-wipes a stadium filled with people, and the broadcast, apparently, got cut. A later reveal would be too broad to mindwipe, though.
  • The '90s X-Men cartoon has a flatly ridiculous one: Scott proposes to Jean, she accepts, and they get married in a big ceremony. But, oh no, it turns out the priest was actually a disguised villain, so they're not really married! And despite their feelings not having changed, it never occurs to them to just have another ceremony, until a couple of seasons later. Presumably the idea was to not completely shut down the Scott/Jean/Logan love triangle. They eventually got married for real.
  • In the Futurama episode The Late Philip J. Fry, everything in the year 3010 remains the same as before, despite various screwing with the timelines as the universe cycled.
  • South Park:
  • Litterally pressed in ''ReBoot' by the User. Two keystrokes, and Mainframe is restored to its season 1 state. It even brings back dead characters, and clones Enzo. This was a risk though, as the characters had to make the user restart the system, and there was a chance that everything would just outright crash.
  • Phineas and Ferb does this Played for Laughs, so the show can find the most off-the-wall ways to prevent the boys from getting caught by their parents.
    • Usually the resetting is limited to the boys not getting caught, but "She's the Mayor" went WAY farther. After becoming mayor of Danville for a day, Candace uses her position to reveal her brothers' newly built classic frontier village (complete with gold-loving old coot). Just as Linda calls the boys out to punish them (although it makes no sense why, since their village wasn't hurting anyone, but that's another trope), Doofenshmirtz activates his Accelerate-inator (which he invented to speed up having to play golf with his brother) which opens up holes in the space time continuum (which Doof knew would happen, but figured it was worth it), reseting everything back to earlier that day, with the old coot winning the contest instead and no one having any knowledge of what happened.
    Candace: (after watching the news) I was robbed!
    • The TV Movie "Across the Second Dimension" did this, erasing the characters' knowledge of Perry's secret identity at the end of the movie. In addition, the movie deconstructs the continued use of this trope: After hundreds of "coincidental" occurrences, Candace begins to believe that there is a literal "mysterious force" that prevents her mom from ever seeing what her brothers are doing. (Actually, she more-or-less prays to it in an earlier episode, "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted".) After Candace disappears through an interdimensional portal, best friend Stacy even builds a shrine to the "mysterious force".
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Wishbones", Grim wishes for all of the episode's events to have never happened. It then cuts to the beginning of the episode, where Billy is watching the washing machine, thinking it's TV. This time, Mandy stuffs him in the washing machine.
    Mandy: [sarcastically] And what show is this we're watching?
    Billy: My favorite: Laundry Day!
    Mandy: Billy, would you like to be on TV?
    Billy: I wish!
    [Mandy opens the washing machine and sticks Billy in]
    Mandy: Wish granted.
  • In the Ninjago episode "Wrong Place, Wrong Time", the ninja prevent Lord Garmadon from helping his past self defeat Kai by destroying his weapon that he used to go back in time in the first place. The episode ends with them at the beginning, where the weapon apparently never existed at all, bringing up all kinds of questions.
  • In the Dan Vs. episode "The Family Cruise", when the cruise ship that Dan, Chris, Elise and her patents are on enters a rift in space-time parodying The Bermuda Triangle, it goes back to right before Elise finished packing and only Dan remembers what happened. This time around Dan gets hit in the face when Elise's parents open the front door, knocking him out cold and Elise duct tapes him to a chair so he doesn't follow them.
  • The Grand Finale of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated was one great cosmic reset button.
  • The Grand Finale of Mighty Max has this as the only way to stop the Big Bad from using the cap to take over the world. However, the way it seems to work is a bit of a New Game+, with our heroes retaining the knowledge of all that had transpired during their first go-round (with the hope that they can actually defeat the Skullmaster this time).
  • In the intended Grand Finale of Dexter's Laboratory, Dexter finally reveals his secret laboratory to his parents, while Dexter himself finds out his monkey is a superhero. (These are two things kept secret for the rest of the series). The very last shot of the episode has Dexter's memory-erasing ray used to revert everyone's memories back to where they were when the episode began except Dee Dee, who was already in on both secrets from the beginning anyway.


Replacement ArtifactContinuity TropesRetcanon
Regular CharacterScript SpeakRetool
Offstage VillainyWriter Cop OutReset Button Ending
Progressive Era MontageTime Travel TropesReset Button Ending
Rape Is a Special Kind of EvilFanfic/I Will Remember YouThe Reveal
Reptile And Amphibian TropesImageSource/PhotographyReverse Grip

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