: But Mom, what's Dad gonna do about a job? Lois
: Well Chris, you remember that episode of The Honeymooners
where Ralph lost his job but at the end he didn't get it back? Peter
: Oh yeah, that always bugged the crap outta me. What was up with that? [roll credits]
Similar to the Reset Button
, except that the writers make no attempt to get rid of the plotline's ramifications by story's end. Instead, things are back to normal by the start of the next episode with no explanation.
Repeated use of Snap Back may, for good or bad, cause Negative Continuity
. (Entries on this page that start with "Every episode of..." should probably be on that other page instead.) For use of Snap Backs from a character's (non
point of view, see Aesop Amnesia
Compare Unexplained Recovery
. See also Continuity Reboot
, Negative Continuity
, and Status Quo Is God
. Now has a Playing With page.
Unrelated to adjustable baseball caps.
Not to be confused with a "fashionable" item of headwear
young people wear nowadays. Or a particular gameplay mechanic
introduced in later entries
of the Marvel vs. Capcom
series. Or the Go position type
. Or when someone actually "snaps" back at someone else
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- The plotlines of Urusei Yatsura frequently devolve into total chaos — accompanied by either massive property damage or a run-from-the-lynch-mob chase scene — but the chaos is always resolved offscreen between episodes.
- The other half of the plots end up with something apparently permanent happening to Ataru: getting split into two exact clones, or getting trapped in an alternate dimension, or getting his house overrun with mirror-demons, just to name a few. All of these consequences always end offscreen by the next chapter.
- Itoshiki apparently dies in one episode of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei and runs away after being unable to figure out if he is really himself in another. He's back next episode without explanation.
- He actually is killed by his female "admirers" in the class in the middle of one episode in Zan, and is alive in the next scene. Maybe it never happened? Maybe he just got better? Does it matter?
- Of course, this is Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei we're talking about.
- The Team Rocket trio gets this in Pokémon, arguably in every episode that ends with them blasting off again, but three notable instances early on in the series stand out: 1) Attack of the Prehistoric Pokémon in which they are last shown sealed inside a cave with the aforementioned Pokémon, who were previously implied to be aggressive predators. 2) Abra and the Psychic Showdown, in which Jessie and James are left paralyzed for the entirety of the episode after an encounter with Sabrina's doll, and 3) Viva Las Lapras, in which Team Rocket is arrested at the end, in one of the few times in the entire series (the previous time it happened had a scene where they dug out of prison). Cassidy and Butch have gone to jail several times, but it's usually stated that Giovanni springs for their release, something he's unlikely to do for Jessie and James.
- Happens to Ash at one time, in a way that almost lampshades it. At the end of one episode, Ash gets accidentally turned into a Pikachu. The next episode starts just in time for the spell to wear off.
- Mugen, Jin, and Fuu die in one episode of Samurai Champloo. This episode is never mentioned again and the characters are alive again in the next episode. This is never explained.
- One early filler episode of Fairy Tail has Natsu, Loke, Gray, Lucy, Erza, and Happy all swap bodies, then learn they have half an hour to reverse the spell before the effects become permanent. With Levy's help they figure out how to undo the spell in the last minute, but there's only time to return Lucy and Gray to normal, and Levy accidentally swaps the whole rest of the guild while she's doing this. The episode promptly ends, and everything is back to normal the next time, in spite of them referencing it in a non-filler episode later.
- In a chapter of Franken Fran, Officer Kuhou is surgically transformed into a Cute Monster Girl. A few chapters later, she is seen as a human again, with no explanation about how she was turned back.
- Space Dandy's first episode ends with the main heroes dying in an explosion. They're fine in the next episode, though QT questions it during the preview.
- Grant Morrison's run on JLA is rather infamous for its rather extreme snapbacks. Premised on the idea of the JLA being an allegory for a pantheon of gods, it was decided that the JLA (being made up of seven of the heaviest of the heavy-hitters in the DCU; Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter) would only tackle huge, often literally world-shattering events. Threats included but were not limited to: an assault on Earth (okay, San Francisco) by renegade angels from Heaven, a war between two nigh-omnipotent djinn that threw the Earth and moon around like basketballs, not one but two mass invasions by White Martians, and (as a grand finale) a massive galaxy-killing superweapon that was defeated by granting temporary superpowers to THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF EARTH. The snapback from that final arc (awesome though it is) is enough to give you whiplash. The entire human race apparently suffers no consequences, societal changes or other effects from acquiring superpowers, fighting a galaxy-killing superweapon, and then losing those powers again; in fact, they never even bring it up. Not even in a "Oh, it's Batman: I sure wish I had superpowers again right now" kind of way.
- The Donald Duck & Co universe is notorious for this. No matter how extreme the events in a story, they're nearly always somehow undone at the end and never referred to in any later tale. The protagonists may be run out of town, Duckburg may be the victim of a natural disaster, but all of the events have been magically undone. The most obvious example is Uncle Scrooge's money bin, which is completely destroyed multiple times (or in one case, forced to move elsewhere due to the city planning construction that would have to go through it, only to of course be back in its typical spot next story). Some things seem to be unalterable, though — while Scrooge may lose his money bin, the Beagle Boys never seem to be able to steal his money (except, ironically, in their very first appearance).
- New Krypton introduced an entirely new status quo for the Superman franchise, with the title book being taken over by Mon-El, Nightwing and Flamebird taking over Action Comics, and a new planet full of Kryptonians being created. By the end of the event, New Krypton was destroyed, Flamebird and the new Kryptonians were all dead, and Mon-El and Nightwing were sent back into the Phantom Zone so that Superman could reclaim his two ongoing titles.
- Brian Bendis' storied New Avengers / Avengers run (which began in Disassembled) ended in this manner to a degree. The Vision and Ant-Man were returned to life, Scarlet Witch was alleviated of her crimes via Demonic Possession, Clint Barton ditched the Ronin costume and returned to the Hawkeye identity, The Wasp's death was revealed to have been a fake-out, The Sentry was killed off, and Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones all resigned from the Avengers. The only real lasting impact seems to be the continued use of Avengers Tower, and Spider-Woman, Wolverine and Spider-Man remaining with the team.
- Though a few of those cases weren't Bendis' doing. Scarlet Witch's possession Retcon and Ant-Man's resurrection both occurred in The Children's Crusade, for instance.
- The first Transformers film has Bumblebee regaining his ability to speak. In the next two, he's again talking in sound bites without explanation. Also, the first film ends with a very public battle between a ton of robots that no Weirdness Censor could possibly cover up, and yet the Transformers are back to being a secret only conspiracy theorists believe in by the next film.
- Averted in the third film where it is revealed that the final battle in the second film resulted in the Transformers becoming public knowledge.
- Pretty much what happens to nearly every Bond Girl whether they survive or not. By the next film, Bond's moved on with no mention of the women from the last movie.
- In the Pink Panther series, there's the matter of Dreyfus. In Strikes Again, he crosses the line between everyday villainy and cartoonish supervillainy, and the film ends with him being disintegrated from existence. In the very next film, he's in the same situation as he was before (being released from an insane asylum) with nary an explanation.
- In the first Darkman film the artificial skin would break down after being exposed to light for exactly 99 minutes. In the sequel, Darkman works with another scientist and manages to create a new version of the skin which can withstand light for about half an hour longer. In the third film the time limit is again 99 minutes without explanation.
- The books of Robert Rankin's Brentford Trilogy appear to follow one another, except each one contains sufficient destruction to make the next impossible.
- Ephraim Kishon has died and sometimes even gone to hell at the end of several of his short stories. Of course, it didn't exactly last.
- In the Wheel of Time, a town called Hinderstap has people who go violently insane every night, savagely kill each other, and then wake up in the working in the same beds they'd woken up in previously. Damage to buildings is permanent, and anyone from outside who dies in their town becomes part of the cycle. They've tried every possible way to escape it, but every morning they still wake up in their beds.
- In Memory of Light, Mat decides that this makes them excellent shock troops.
Live Action TV
- Both played straight and subverted on NBC's Medium: while every episode, and indeed the entire premise of the show, is about how Alison has significant dreams, every time she wakes up from a dream and is upset, her husband Joe tells her to go back to sleep, because it was "just a dream". However, in the episode where their youngest daughter Marie requires glasses, she does indeed wear them again the next episode.
- MST3K often does the Snap Back within the episode itself. One episode had Mike turned into a small, ventriloquist dummy-esque robot in the second host segment due to the effects of a wormhole the SOL was traveling through, and stayed that way until the next commercial break. Right after the break, he returns to normal with no more explanation than "I'm back!"
- Of course, the most common example of a Snap Back on MST3K was Frank getting killed by Dr. Forrester. In every case, he was back in the next episode, looking none the worse for wear. When Frank left the show, Dr. F sang a touching song called "Who Will I Kill?", and in an episode of Cinematic Titanic, Frank lampshades it by saying blithely, "In my experience, you can die and then come right back in the next episode."
- Star Trek: Spock steals the secret of the Romulan cloaking device, but the Federation never develops their own or learns how to counter it until the time of the next series. In a later Re Vision, it is explained that Starfleet has a treaty with the Romulans forbidding them from developing cloaking technology.
- Justified in-episode by acknowledging that cloaking technology is an ongoing arms race. Spock: "Military secrets are the most fleeting of all"
- Big character events, like Kirk's brother dying, or Picard recovering from Cardassian torture, or pretty much any time any new phenomenon/discovery/ technology is integral to the plot, are completely forgotten and everything is back to the status quo by next episode. Even the death of Kirk's son went completely unmentioned for two movies. The one notable exception to this would be Picard's assimilation by the Borg, which returned repeatedly to haunt him over the years.
- DS9 tends to avert this, with gradual Character Development happening. That does make the cases that do happen, like Miles O'Brien's trauma fake 20-year prison sentence that culminated in a suicide attempt never being mentioned again, a bit egregious.
- In the original series episode "The Changeling," Uhura is mindwiped, and the last we hear of her she can only speak Swahili and is being retaught how to read. She's back to normal by the next episode.
- Minor example from Voyager: In the episode "The Cloud" the replicator "fuel" is running low, which prompts the Voyager to venture into the titular cloud in hopes of siphoning materials to refill it from within. By the end of the episode they have failed to do so, but in the next one there is no attention paid to casual use of the replicator.
- A strange example: "Isaac and Ishmael", the third season opener to The West Wing, was prepared as a Very Special Episode reacting to the 9/11 attacks. During the opening sequence, the actors, out of character, outright state that the episode is "a storytelling aberration", and that the audience should not try to fit it into the series Story Arc. The episode falls right in the middle of a Cliff Hanger, and series continuity proceeds directly from the preceding episode, "Two Cathedrals", to the next, "Manchester". While later episodes imply that the events of the episode are not, strictly speaking, non-canonical, they emphatically do not occur at any specific point in the series continuity.
- On Saved by the Bell, Zach Morris works to understand a girl and her father who are very stand-offish in a Two-Part Episode. As it turns out, they're homeless and live in Bayside after it closes each day. There's a bit of a Tear Jerker conclusion when Zach allows both of them to live in his house...whereupon they are never seen nor mentioned by anyone again.
- In the final episode of Series 1 of The IT Crowd, Jen sleeps with Moss, Roy sleeps with Moss's then-girlfriend (who also happens to look just like Roy's mother), and Richmond sleeps with the head of the company, Denholm Reynholm. Everything is back to normal at the start of Series 2.
- Several character, but especially Baltar, in the new Battlestar Galactica series. Multiple early episodes end with him being convinced he is an instrument of God, while he's dismissive of the notion again at the start of the next episode.
- On Seinfeld, Jerry and Elaine attempt to maintain a sexual relationship in addition to their friendship. This naturally backfires, and the end of the episode appears to be Jerry and Elaine's friendship reaching an abrupt end. By the next episode, it's like nothing ever happened.
- This is due to Larry David thinking it would be the series finale. He'd always been against hooking Jerry and Elaine up, and only did it as a present to the execs on his way out. When the show was unexpectedly renewed, everyone agreed it was best to just sweep everything under the rug. That said, it is given a very brief Hand Wave in "The Pen", when Jerry's mother asks him what happens, he simply responds that it "didn't work out."
- At the end of "The Airport", George is trapped on an airplane with a serial killer. In the next episode, he's back in New York alive and well (as "well" as George gets, anyway)
- The end of "The Soup" has George banned from Monk's Cafe and sitting alone at Reggie's. Obviously, later episodes have him sitting back there with Jerry and the others taking about nothing, but with little to no explanation as to how.
- George seemingly gave up his philosophy of always doing the opposite off-screen between seasons. He still keeps the job with the Yankees he gained as a result of this philosophy, though
- On iCarly, Sam spends an episode doing a Girliness Upgrade because she's worried guys (and Pete, specifically) don't like her because she's too much of a tomboy. In the end, Sam has to give in to that tomboyish side to protect Carly from a bully. Pete and her end up walking out together because he likes a girl who can kick butt. He's never heard of again.
- In the second episode of Garth Marenghis Darkplace, after Liz goes crazy and tries to kill everyone, she is given a lobotomy to remove her Psychic Powers. The next episode, she still has her psychic abilities, like nothing happened. Not that the show strives for continuity...
- On Boy Meets World, a few of the wackier Eric plotlines in the final season had endings that led to this. For example, "The Honeymooners" ends by showing him being boiled in a big soup pot by Hawaiian natives, yet he's back at home with no mention of this in the next episode.
- An unusually serious example: In the The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Mona Lisa's Revenge", K9 zaps the Mona Lisa and the Abomination back into paintings-along with himself. Next episode, everything's back to normal with no explanation.
- Adam was shot in a mid season finale in Degrassi...and then he gets better by the premiere of the second half of the season and only brings it up twice (and one of these time, it was a one off line that was played for laughs).
- Sinner was also shot and the only mention of it is when he wears a sling for his whole five second scene in the next episode.
- An early episode of Father Ted ends with the atmosphere-sucking Father Stone being allowed to live in the Parochial House for ever. He's never mentioned or seen again in the rest of the series.
- In the Dinosaurs episode "Green Card", Mr. Richfield fires all of his tree pushers because there are no more trees for them to push. Although they do get hired back at WESAYSO by the end (to build a wall to keep four-legged Dinosaurs away, as they are blamed for the bad economy), we never see the trees fully grown back. The next episode we see them at work shows them working as if they hadn't previously run out of trees.
- Also, while most of the fired tree pushers get hired back, Richfield denies re-employment for Roy, who had just married Monica. We never see him get his job back (though the public changes its racism of four-legged Dinosaurs after they save the lives of those who got injurred building the wall to keep them out).
- Friends: Chandler goes to Yemen to fend off Janice in "The One With All the Rugby". He is in New York in the next episode.
- Considering that he didn't have any luggage or a passport, not so unlikely. He may have bought a ticket to Yemen, but it wasn't a direct flight. Assuming that he went anywhere, he flew as far as his connecting flight in Paris, which would take about six hours, then bought a ticket on the next flight back to New York. He wouldn't be allowed to leave De Gaulle airport without a passport, so he'd pay whatever it took for the next flight, get something to eat, and leave after four or five hours. He'd be gone less than a day. It's funny they never talk about it. Chandler's exploits in the Paris airport would be a good story; but that he'd be back home and over his jet lag in a week is not strange.
- The Muppet Show: In one episode, the band decides to quit the show because they dislike the theme song, and during the end credits only Rowlf is in the orchestra. The band is back in the next episode as if no conflict had happened.
- Also, in the episode with John Cleese, Gonzo's arm gets stretched longer after he catches a cannonball. When Gonzo asks the guest star for help, Cleese merely stretches Gonzo's other arm as well as his legs. After this Gonzo is not seen for the rest of the episode, and his condition isn't mentioned.
- One episode of Married... with Children ended with them being turned into monkeys. Which they don't actually react to
Peggy: So, I guess we're monkeys (No-one responds as they continue watching TV)
- Another episode has Bud fighting and resisting from being taken over by his "Inner cool self" At the end, his cool self has complete control of his body and it just ends there.
- NewsRadio used this frequently when the network would try and force the writers into a plotline. Probably the most jarring example is when Jimmy James hired a woman named Andrea as an efficiency expert. Andrea proceeded to demote Dave, promote Lisa in his place, and fire Matthew. This went on for a couple of episodes... until one episode Andrea was suddenly gone, Matthew had his job back, and everything else that happened in the arc was completely undone, except for the Dave/Lisa switch, without any explanation whatsoever.
- At the end of Mystery Case Files: Ravenhearst, you see a picture of the cleansed and cheerful Ravenhearst Manor. At the start of "Return To Ravenhearst", not only is it back to being a creepy, trash-filled house loaded with bizarre door locks, but it's been that way long enough for the local town council to have condemned the building.
- In Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters it ends with Captain Quark shrinking down to action figure size, and just left like that yet in the next game, Tools of Destruction he is back to normal. Likely justified that Size Matters is an alternate continuity spin-off and isn't actually canon with the main series.
- Goats used this trope to allow the comic to continue after frustrated aliens annihilated the Earth on a whim, killing or destroying everything relevant to the comic's canon. However, when the Earth conveniently returns after a week of guest comics, the characters remember everything (in the first comic after the Earth's destruction, a character asks, "Remember that time the Earth was destroyed?") making it either a lampshading or Subverted Trope, depending on how you look at it.
- Penny Arcade does this a lot, but in a particularly notable storyline, one of the two protagonists accidentally kills his wife using a technique he learned from a video game, and goes on to win $20,000,000 in a lawsuit. The Snap Back is described in the protagonist's own words thusly: "Money's gone. In my grief, I paid a Mad Scientist twenty million for a cybernetic replica of my dead wife. It was my wish that it look, feel, and behave just as she did." The next panel keeps it from qualifying as the Reset Button, as said replica is simply a bucket on roller skates, and his wife does indeed return without explanation.
- They almost never use continuity. Jokes and character traits, as well as characters can repeat, but they even once cancelled the final strip of a 3-part arc for fear of creating continuity. 3-part arcs are the longest anyone gets one Penny Arcade that aren't Twisp, Catsby or the Cardboard Tube Samurai.
- Bob the Angry Flower is mostly a series of one-shots with very weak continuity. Since Bob is both powerful and amoral, it could be no other way. But one of the books includes a UN Field Guide to Bob and his various weapons and devices, which lampshades the lack of continuity and justifies it as the diligent efforts of the government. (Never let Bob near the button that blows up the Earth, since we barely managed to put it back together and ressurrect everybody last time.)
- Subverted and lampshaded during the transition betweenThe Apple of Discord (a joke-a-day comic that had been heavy on Snap Back) to the spinoff comic, Apple Valley (an ongoing story comic with little-to-no Snap Back that grew out of Ao D) . Several characters go out drinking, only to wake up several states away from home with no idea where they are or how to get home. Thinking the 'joke' done, they wait around for the comic to return to normal, and are horrified when it doesn't and they realize they now have to walk home.
- On Plus EV, Harold won a lot of money and lost it again, lost weight and gained it again... and so on.
- In The Motley Two, one of these happened some time in the past, due to unknown temporal chicanery. Subverted In the effects do not go unnoticed by the general populace.
- Ultra Fast Pony:
- In "Makin' Babies", the main cast are turned into babies by a miscast magic spell. The episode ends with them still stuck as babies. They're adults again in the next episode, with no explanation or even acknowledgement that the baby incident happened. The series creator lampshades this with his description of the episode: "I had a canon once. It was awful."
- Subverted elsewhere. In "Out With The Old Characters", Apple Bloom burns down the schoolhouse, which reappears in later episodes. The explanation comes in the next season's episode "Granny Smith Is Mean": The schoolhouse burns down again, then reappears in the very next scene. Sweetie Belle comments, "Aw, they're getting really fast at rebuilding the school."