Status Quo Is God

"Looks like everything's back the way it was! Which is the only way it should ever be."
Marge Simpson, The Simpsons

Within a work, particularly long-running series and franchises, almost nothing changes. If something does change, it's generally reset back to the way it was before very quickly.

This usually happens in a series with no overarching conflict or plot, although it is also the final stage of Exponential Plot Delay, the phenomenon in which the plot of a serial story has totally ground to a halt. In either case, each installment of the series will open under virtually identical circumstances to the installment that came before.

Why create a static situation? The creators want the audience to be familiar with the characters and situation, without having to bother with such things as "what happened last episode". For example, they may use a title sequence that tells us everything we need to know, or, if the series has a serial plot, flashbacks, since Viewers Are Goldfish. Much like Failure Is the Only Option, any changes at all are resolved with a Snap Back or Reset Button. And God forbid anyone change the status quo of the surrounding world. Another reason is that some TV shows will have multiple episodes written and produced simultaneously, and it's easier to keep every episode ending the way it began so one writer doesn't inadvertently contradict another.

This trope is especially true for cartoons, where networks want to be free to broadcast reruns in any convenient order or lack thereof. It's also very common in sitcoms, and as a result, there are plenty of Broken Aesops created by the fact that, although characters have learned their lessons or attempted to improve their predicaments, nothing ever really changes.

While this trope can be used to help avoid Continuity Lockout — where a work becomes inaccessible to casual fans — it also be very difficult to juggle an unchanging status quo without gradually turning off your audience; characters and situations which never change tend to get stale after a while, and audiences can get a bit tired of seeing the Reset Button being pushed every time it looks like something might happen to change things.

Status Quo Is God can easily collide with Happily Ever After. Sometimes, a story simply can't have an ending that is both happy and maintains the status quo—thus, these two powerful tropes are in conflict with each other. When this conflict occurs, it's likely that the status quo will be maintained, and the ending will be less happy than it might have been if not for Status Quo Is God.

Status Quo Is God is usually the justification for a Yo Yo Plot Point or an Ageless Birthday Episode. It has nothing to do with the divinity of a certain rock band, however.

Negative Continuity is what happens when the writers become too aware of the ramifications of Status Quo is God: they freely change anything and everything, knowing that absolutely none of it will ever stick long-term. See also, Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome, in which characters get a glimpse of an alternative universe where things have, in fact, changed.

Related to Just Eat Gilligan and Un-Confession. For the opposite, in which a work changes dramatically over the course of its run, see Nothing Is the Same Anymore.


  • Butt-Monkey: Sometimes, when a character's unchanging status quo is played for laughs.
  • Cardboard Prison: Related to Joker Immunity described below; when not even a long prison sentence will last for a criminal.
  • Cartwright Curse: Relationships that might change a character's romantic status quo don't last.
  • Comic-Book Time: Time stands still in-universe, despite the long progression of time in the real world. Gets extra confusing when real years and events are mentioned.
    • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Characters don't age visibly. Especially noticeable with children not reaching adulthood, or adults not joining the ranks of the elderly.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: When a married couple will not be separated forever.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: No matter how many times the heroes thwart villains and save the world, bystanders will act like it's the heroes' first time, and civilians won't display any admiration for them or give them any special treatment.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: If the success of the character implies a drastic alteration of the status quo of the series and/or the character itself.
  • The Good Guys Always Win: The near-universal rule that the bad guys must always lose. note 
  • Ignored Epiphany: Whenever a character intentionally maintains their status quo.
  • Negative Continuity: Taken to its logical extreme, drastic changes happen but are quickly reverted by next time, without any explanation. Common in surrealistic works.
  • Plot Armor: Main characters (usually main protagonists, but also main antagonists) are deemed too important to die.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Fantastic technology is only used as a plot device, and barely affects the lives of the unnamed masses.
  • Reset Button: The status quo is reinforced by reverting any changes with a handwave.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: When the character's actions are rendered moot at the end.
    • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The same as above but not only actively tragic but rendering any-and-all accomplishments meaningless.
  • Static Character: Anyone who doesn't go through character development.
    • Aesop Amnesia: No one learns from their mistakes or remembers any lessons.
  • Strictly Formula: When a series rarely (if ever) deviates from a standard plot formula.
  • True Love Is Boring: If the status quo of the character forces him/her to remain single or without a couple.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Competitors will always end with their same results if Continuing Is Painful for the losers. note 


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This describes every Rumiko Takahashi regular series. Swap "curses" for "mental hangups and unkillable bad guys" where applicable.
    • Maison Ikkoku is the sole exception (So far...), and change took 96 episodes to arrive and stick.
    • Though not entirely bound to the trope, Ranma ½'s only means of advancing its story appear to have been introducing new characters, or having an existing character learn a new combat technique. Two of the story's main features, the relationships of the characters and the curses that some of them carried, remained set in stone despite the characters' many attempts to alter them one way or another. In fact, when the story got to the point where it had nowhere to go but to change, the series ended.
    • Urusei Yatsura went through thirty-eight volumes of Ataru chasing after other women and refusing admitting out loud that he loved Lum. Finally, when the story left him no option other than acknowledging his feelings, Reset Button was pressed. The only meaningful change in the status-quo was Shinobu breaking up with Ataru, and that change happened in the beginning and it was forced on Takahashi by her editors. This was lampshaded in a story arc where several characters have the chance to make a future tailored to her needs. Shinobu is unsure of what asking, and thus she decides nothing changes. Shortly after she got to see that future and she realized it was a dumb idea.
    • This is painfully common in InuYasha:
      • Naraku is such an unkillable bastard that he manages to maintain his status as the Big Bad for several hundred chapters, and usually is The Man Behind the Man for every other villain who isn't a Monster of the Week.
      • The third movie is also guilty; the enchanted "sit!" beads are broken partway into the movie, but since the film isn't part of series canon, the beads have to be replaced, this is handled in a post-credits scene in which Kagome puts them back on for... no real reason.
  • Unintentionally created by the season 2 finale of The Big O. As the two mechs duke it out a third, goddess, shows up and at first starts deleting everything until Roger convinces her to give the world a chance. It is implied that this has happened before and because there is no season three it could happen again.
  • The crew of Cowboy Bebop as far as their financial fortunes went, at any rate. Although some people would say that if gambling was involved then their Perpetual Poverty was probably inevitable.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Daily Lives of High School Boys. The kids are discussing what they plan to do after graduating, and Hidenori breaks the fourth wall in order to explain that it's irrelevant since they'll always be in their sophomore year of high school.
    • And by the end of the series, he's correct. Despite several episodes showing the kids taking summer breaks and things such as that, they're still inexplicably in their sophomore year at the end of the finale.
  • In Detective Conan, Ran will start to suspect Conan is actually Shinichi, only for him to throw off her suspicions. Also, Shinichi is no closer to finding out more about the shady organization that turned him into a child and turning back to normal again than he was almost two decades ago in real time when the manga first came out.
  • Dragon Ball Super reestablishes Vegeta's rivalry with Goku, which many thought would have ended after the Buu Saga in Dragon Ball Z. However, here, Vegeta's rivalry takes an entirely different path - he knows and accepts that Goku's the strongest, but he's itching to prove he can be just as strong, too.
  • In Excel Saga, the group ACROSS will never completely take over Fukuoka City, but they can at least make progress. In the anime though, every mission ACROSS attempts will end in failure and they will be no closer to controlling F City then when they started at the beginning of the episode.
  • The Get Backers do not make a profit. Ever. On the off chance their task is performed to one hundred percent perfection and their client is on the up-and-up, they'll spend it almost instantly. Or will be billed for the collateral damage they racked up on their mission, or have their fees taken by the outside contractors they hired to assist them, or Paul will just take their payment as part of the payment for their monstrously huge tab...
  • In Gintama, no matter how many jobs the protagonists take on, they will never make any profit. And the rent never gets paid. Ever.
    • Subverted with Gintoki's sword. It is revealed in one episode that in case one gets broken, he just orders another from a galactic shopping channel and has it customized so it looks exactly the same as the previous one.
    • Gintoki manages to pay the rent few times by helping Otose with her problems (i.e. preventing Katherine from running off with Otose's money at the beginning, saving Otose's life). And in one chapter, Gintoki pays the rent in cash (even though he is forced to do so by Tama).
    • And now sadly inverted after the Shogun Assassination Arc. The Shogun Shigeshige is assassinated and the Shinsengumi are dissolved to name only few of the tons of things that changed after this arc. Oh! and Gintoki left the house due the Government persecution towards him!
  • This is in fact a very important plot point in I'm Gonna Be an Angel! where the heroine who throughout the whole series was aspiring to become an angel for her loved one, upon gaining her much-awaited wings decides she doesn't really want to be an angel anymore. This applies to the majority of characters. The message is that you don't have to change when your loved ones love you the way you are and that change may sometimes lead to losing all that you held precious to your heart.
  • Commonly averted with K-On!, which sets up the sorts of "lesson of the week" situations that you'd normally fully expect a cast in a work like this to forget about by the next episode (i.e. don't be so clingy, be more thoughtful towards your friends, study hard, etc.) but actually has them work as permanent character development.
  • Love Hina manages to reset practically every character or relationship development, even finally getting into Tokyo University or Naru shouting she loves Keitaro at the top of her lungs when he is only a few feet away seems to have no effect whatsoever.
    • Naru and Keitaro's relationship is developed gradually and gracefully in the first half of the series, going from hostility to them generally liking each other even though they refuse to admit it. The status quo effect first comes when their relationship has gotten to the point where it is all or nothing. Every time they seem to finally become a couple, the circumstances are reset. Every time they seem to think that they will never be a couple, the circumstances are reset, too.
  • Lupin III: Very little changes and most events from the movies never carry over to the next, because the franchise operates with Negative Continuity.
  • Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun runs on this trope. While there is a slow passage of time occurring and character interactions have diversified, the characters themselves and the relationships they had that were established early-on have changed only marginally, if at all, since the time the manga started. It can be inferred that this is due to the fact that any significant romantic or dramatic developments will probably disrupt the lighthearted comedic nature of the series - the author has revealed several scrapped plot-lines that were all rejected for creating some form of complications between characters.
  • Anime filler naturally can't affect the overall plot too much. Five interesting examples from Naruto:
    • Sasuke is in the hospital at the end of the "Search for Tsunade" arc but is revived in time for the Land of Tea filler arc. Since the next arc begins with Sasuke in the hospital, he gets injured again in the filler.
    • In the Fuma Clan filler arc, Naruto and Sakura fight Kabuto... but since he's too major a villain to kill off, it turns out to be someone else in disguise.
    • The same filler arc features Orochimaru. Also as a disguised filler villain. Speaking with villain-disguised-as-Kabuto. Amongst themselves. In character as Orochimaru and Kabuto! Though presumably the idea was that Orochimaru left these disguised villains behind in his base as decoys, the way it was presented manages to combine all the worst aspects of Never Trust a Trailer within the context of the episode itself.
    • This also applies to any filler arc that has at least some potential to get Naruto close to finding Orochimaru and/or Sasuke (Mizuki, Bikochuu, Land of Sea, Three Tails). In the Treasure Hunt arc, Tsunade threatens to send Naruto, Hinata and Kiba back to the academy if they fail — they obviously don't.
    • The Three-Tails filler arc focuses on the struggle between Konoha and Orochimaru over the Three Tailed Beast. If you read the manga, you know that Akatsuki manages to capture it, making the outcome no longer a surprise.
  • The "perpetually broke" version of this trope was played with in One Piece. Despite being pirates, the Straw Hats don't usually have much money around.
    • In one anime filler arc, they finally have gotten their hands on a pile of gold, but they end up in tightly secured Marine base. Just when they make it back to their ship and are on their way to freedom, they realize that all their gold was confiscated by the Marines. Just when you think they'll sigh and suck it up, they turn around and break into the base to get it back. However, the status quo at the time was that they had already had a bunch of treasure they just haven't sold yet, so it's kind of a wash. A couple of islands later, they have it converted to cash and, soon enough, two of their three hundred million Berries is stolen and spent before they can get it back. But at the end of it all, the money went into materials used to build them a kick ass new ship.
    • In Movie 4, in which they enter a contest with the same amount of berries as the worth of the aforementioned pile of treasure, they win the contest, but are forced to leave before they collect their winnings.
    • In Movie 7, the crew agrees to return an old woman to an island in exchange for information regarding the island's secret treasure. Despite the local maniacal mechanical genius in charge constantly trying to take them out, they manage to reveal the fact that the entire island is a giant turtle which lays eggs with solid gold shells. The Straw Hats set sail at the end of the movie with a large piece of a shell in tow as thanks for saving everyone... only for it to sink moments later.
    • Of course, it's highly unlikely that they - or anyone - is going to find the legendary treasure One Piece, assuming that it is a treasure. As a MacGuffin that drives the entire plot of the series, Gold Roger's treasure will likely not be seen until the finale.
  • Pokémon
    • Face it: Ash's Pikachu is never going to be a Raichu. This is explained in a few episodes, most notably when the Vermilion Gym match has it face its evolved form. In-universe, it's a matter of pride. From a strategic standpoint, it's because Pikachu can still learn more moves from getting stronger while Raichu, being a stone-evolved Pokémon, can't learn much (such as learning Volt Tackle in the Battle Frontier arc, then trading it for Electro Ball early on in Unova). And in real life, it's because they'd have to redesign the series' iconic mascot. Taken to a particular extreme in the Mistralton Tower episode, in which Ash performs a Diving Save to prevent a Thunder Stone from accidentally hitting Pikachu.
    • Ash will always hit the Reset Button whenever he finds out about a new region, ditching the Big Three of the last in favor of the next. Also Pikachu will continue defeating legends then losing to rookies.
    • Speaking of Team Rocket, EVERY. SINGLE. TEAM ROCKET. SPLITTING UP. EPISODE. One has to wonder how many times the writers will recycle a plot about Team Rocket splitting up only to get back together by the end of the episode. They did have a split up that lasted for several episodes in Black and White, with Meowth even being with Ash's group for a while. Though Meowth was acting as The Mole.
    • Ash will never win a League arc based on the main series's regions. According to Word of God, the anime will never truly end until Ash becomes a Pokémon Master. To the anime itself, this apparently means winning the regional Pokémon League tournament, and because of this Ash is going to lose at some point in the tourney, no matter how much of an edge he has. Painfully enforced in the Sinnoh League, where Ash was bested by Tobias and his Darkrai and Latios. The fact that Ash put a better dent in his team than the person Tobias faced next implied that Ash would have won the whole tournament if it weren't for the poorly-established man. Also among the most ridiculous is Cameron in Unova, a ditzy trainer who's made many an Epic Fail and yet still manages to pull a win against Ash by way of his Riolu evolving into Lucario partway through the fight. It happens again in the Kalos League (despite the creators naming the episode "Kalos League Victory! Ash's Ultimate Battle!"), but this time Ash lost by way of the anime ignoring the basic function of Pokémon battles.
    • Ash will never have a love interest, and will always be oblivious to the feelings of any female that is interested in him. It seemed like this would finally be subverted in Kalos, but Serena waited until right before Ash left the region to actually confess to him.
    • This trope is actually a reason why many fans and haters of the anime says that it has hit the point of Seasonal Rot.
  • Sgt. Frog is particularly devoted to this trope. Let's face it, Keroro will continue building Gunpla and ticking Natsumi off, Tamama will continue eating candy and obsessing over Keroro, Giroro will continue to be infatuated with Natsumi and shine his guns, Kururu will continue being a jerk and eating curry, Dororo will continue to sit in a corner and cry, and Momoka will never get together with Fuyuki outside the realms of fanfiction. NOTHING SHALL CHANGE.
    • Lampshaded in one episode where Momoka visualises herself still watching Fuyuki quietly from a corner. In the future. Where both are well into their eighties. Apparently the Japanese are known to age well, but still...
  • In the Tenchi Muyo! manga series, despite it running for 22 volumes, Tenchi STILL never chooses a girl. Oh, and if the house blows up, it'll be good as new next story. One story lampshaded this a bit.
    • Admittedly, though, the manga does subvert a lot of how the OVA worked - the gang goes out to more places, the characters are a lot more outgoing, Mihoshi has a driver's license, Sasami goes to school, among others.
  • To Heart 2: After thirteen episodes and five OVAs, the Unlucky Everydude still hasn't chosen a girl out of his Harem.
  • WORKING!! is the epitome of Status Quo, with characters seemingly going out of their way to establish a status quo even when its detrimental to their goals or has nothing to do with them whatsoever. There is never even an explanation for this and it is done without a hint of irony.

  • Marvel/DC Comics live by this trope. They've really put themselves into a Catch-22 situation, they can change things around and kill off characters and whatnot, but killing popular characters will cause an uproar among fans; if they pursue their current strategy of keeping things the way they are, then people get to come on this wiki and put them here in this trope for not changing anything.
  • Batman
    • The Riddler reformed in 2006 and became a private detective. Not only is he good at it and indulges his obsession a bit, but it changed him morally for the better. Of course, a few years later, a severe head injury sent him right back to his villainous ways.
    • Another Batman foe: Poor Harvey Dent is a victim of this. No matter how many times his face and sanity are restored, soon he is driven back to his (half)disfigured face and insanity, even in some out-of-mainstream-continuity stories, like Batman: Black and White. In an Alternate Future from Frank Miller's limited series Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, only his face is restored, not his sanity. From Bad to Worse: His good side vanished, leaving him all "normal" outside and all monstrous inside.
    • Grant Morrison acknowledged this in his run, where Bruce was temporarily "killed off" during Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P., leading to Dick Grayson becoming the new Batman. Morrison has flat out stated that he knew there was no way in hell DC and Warner Bros. would ever let him permanently replace Batman, so he purposefully structured the story in such a way that left the door open for Bruce's return. He also admitted that he killed off Bruce's son Damian for similar reasons, since having a kid clashes too heavily with Batman's iconic "brooding loner" image. Damian has since come back, however. (It helps that he's even more of a brooding loner than Bruce.)
    • The Barbara Gordon incarnation of Batgirl eventually had this happen. In the well-acclaimed graphic novel The Killing Joke, she was shot in the spine by The Joker, rendering her permanently paralyzed. Barbara then took on the persona of Oracle, working behind the scenes to aid the Bat-Family with her hacking skills and computer expertise, during which she became an inspiration and idol for many real life disabled readers, and led the Birds of Prey. But after the 2011 reboot New 52, Barbara was back on her legs as Batgirl, despite spending almost exactly half her publication history as Oracle.

      Averted concerning her long-time ally and love interest, Dick Grayson, the original Robin, after he became Nightwing. As he was succeeded by several others in the role of Robin, most prominently Tim Drake, as well as the general census that the Nightwing identity is much more badass, interesting, dramatic, and sexy than the Robin identity, the idea of him returning to being Robin is incredibly unlikely to ever happen. This, of course, causes some resentment for those who were fans of Oracle, as its seen as unfair that Barbara isn't allowed to outgrow her identity as Batgirl, but Dick returning to being Robin is unlikely to happen, with many seeing it as a Double Standard.
    • There are stories where Jim Gordon is removed from the post of Commissioner only to end up back in the post. While naturally some of these are the result of ongoing subplots such as the early stuff with Hamilton Hillnote  and the Batman comics between Knightfall (including Prodigal) and Contagionnote , others are done after other stories.

      Officer Down saw Gordon resign after getting shot (though the decision was based more of his age and the fact he missed his second wife, Sarah Essen, than the fact that his shooter seemed to get away with it). That was the status quo for five years until Face the Face, part of the One Year Later Time Skip of Infinite Crisis, which saw Gordon return to the role of Police Commissioner, (as well as Harvey Bullock return to the force after being forced out by Gordon's successor Michael Akins when he got wind that Bullock sold out Gordon's shooter to the mob and Harvey Dent becoming Two-Face after his face was fixed in Batman: Hush). Despite his name being cleared, Gordon wasn't reinstated in the end of Batman Eternal and even wonders what he'll do now, a Sequel Hook to Superheavy, where he becomes Batman after Bruce's presumed death in Batman: Endgame. Superheavy not only ends with Bruce once again as Batman, but Maggie Sawyer, who'd become Commissioner during the final issues of Eternal, returning to the MCU and Gordon being reappointed Commissioner.
  • One of the most obvious and dramatic examples is Guy Gardner, who lost his power ring after it was destroyed by Parallax. Guy went on to get a full rework, including new powers, a new look, a new supporting cast and a new job. This lasted for several years—about a year and a half of which was actually in his own ongoing monthly—until Geoff Johns wrote Green Lantern Rebirth, which snapped him back to his '80s status quo without any real explanation. While he may be back to being a Green Lantern, his character is not what it was in the 80s and 90s as he's changed over time. Gardner isn't the dumb obnoxious jerk he used to be, though his attitude is somewhat similar. Instead he's simply a jerk with an attitude on the surface, showing far more depth of character and loyalty beneath, particularly with Kyle Rayner. And that awful bowl haircut is gone too.
    • The course of Superheavy and DC Rebirth would also see the events of Eternal and Endgame undone as Alfred gains a new hand after the Joker cuts it off in Endgame and Bruce regain control of Wayne Enterprises, Wayne Manor, and his fortune after losing them in Eternal.
  • X-Men
    • Charles Xavier was introduced as an invalid who uses a wheelchair. Several times during the comic's run, Xavier has regained the use of his legs. It's only a matter of time until something reverses this situation, either undoing whatever allowed his legs to heal or sustaining a new injury.
    • Marvel seems to think the concept of the X-Men doesn't work if mutants aren't feared and hated by everybody, so any progress they make is inevitably undone. Grant Morrison's run had mutants gaining some acceptance among the younger generations and developing their own culture. Then House of M comes along and the mutant race is reduced to around 200 survivors. And then comes Avengers vs. X-Men, where thanks to the actions of Cyclops and the Phoenix Five, mutants are once again repopulated. In a strange twist though, mutants are more accepted now, especially by leftwing college students (similar to how LGBT rights tend to be a sticking point for this crowd in real life) after Cyclops' actions, both during the decimated time and as a Phoenix avatar where, in the former, he did a lot to gain good press for mutants as well as reminding people how powerful the X-Men are and unwise it is to attack them, and in the latter, used his godlike power to better humanity and solve many third-world problems. But, government handling has now intensified with the renewed risk of omnipowerful mutants wrecking havoc, Police Brutality has became more common, and mutants who can't defend themselves and live in hostile areas are in serious risk. In general, things have gotten better but still have a long way to go, which is a reality for real life minorities.
    • Speaking of X-Men, Rogue possesses the power to absorb the psyche and powers of those she touches. When she was first introduced, these powers were uncontrollable and this fact was often a source of angst for her. Her powers would frequently change and she would even occasionally lose them, only to have them inevitably return as uncontrollable as ever. Then, after nearly thirty years of publications, Rogue finally gained control over her powers during Messiah Complex with help from Professor Xavier. However, come 2014 and Uncanny Avengers, Rogue has once again lost control over her powers and has permanently absorbed Wonder Man's power and psyche, essentially reverting her to how she was when she was first introduced. She even goes on a crazed rant about how she'd been through the whole ordeal already and commented that she couldn't even stand the thought of having to do it again. Having Wonder Man in her head probably didn't help either.
    • Grant Morrison created the villain John Sublime as meta commentary on this trope. Mutants are a natural threat to him, so he intentionally manipulates events to keep them in a constant state of cyclical fighting so they can't band together and stop him.
  • The cyclical nature of comics was lampshaded in an issue of New Avengers, where Wonder Man points out that the entire Civil War crossover was utterly pointless since everything (more or less) went back to normal within just a few short years.
  • Kingdom Come lampshades this. Wonder Woman's entire purpose was to come to America and bring an end to warfare across the globe. The problem of course is, thanks to this and Reed Richards Is Useless, she'll never be allowed to make any real progress in this mission. Thus, we cut to a few decades later and find that she's been exiled by her fellow Amazons precisely because she hadn't made any headway in solving this problem.
  • A good example would be costumes. Most heroes and villains have gone through numerous costume changes, but usually return to their original, iconic outfit, if for no other reason than branding. This obviously doesn't extend to film and TV adaptations, since most superhero costumes are altered for live-action due to practical reasons.
  • Fantastic Four
    • The Fantastic Four are one of the few comic teams where the members change uniforms and actually stick with the new duds. (Except one case where Sue once tried a Stripperiffic outfit that exposed her cleavage and midriff; it just wasn't her, and surprisingly, the fans knew it. She got rid of it quickly.)
    • Poor Benjamin Grimm will always be The Thing. Reed Richards' various attempts to find a cure to his condition will never work, or if so always be reversed. This is lampshaded in Marvel 1602 where Reed Richards, theorizing that stories are laws of the universe, states that a cure for Benjamin wouldn't last long since he's much more interesting the way he is.
    • Averted in the Ultimate Marvel universe, following the end of Ultimate Fantastic Four. Ben Grimm does in fact manage to shake his rock-like form, and gain all-new powers which include the ability to switch between his regular human form and his rock form.
    • In Fantastic Four #403-405, the team visits an Aztec temple discovered by archaeologist Ken Robeson. The abandoned temple can harness cosmic rays which may have killed off the original tribe. The Thing visits the temple and is briefly turned into human form. The technology is never used for this purpose again, and by #416 it is said to have been dismantled to help fight Onslaught.
    • Not only can Doctor Doom never be killed for real, but he'll never lose control over Latveria for too long, since him being King and Dictator is a very important part of the character's concept. Is there such a thing as Joker Diplomatic Immunity? Also, his face will never get better, though this seems to be a conscious decision on his part so that he'll always have a permanent reminder of Reed's "crimes" against him.
  • Spider-Man. Oh Galactus, Spider-Man. Marvel is dead-set on dragging him back to a single guy living with his Aunt May and working minimum wage at the Daily Bugle, no matter how many Ass Pulls or Voodoo Sharks it takes. See The Clone Saga and One More Day.
    • Speaking of Spider-Man... As of the Spider-Island arc, his current girlfriend dumped him, the psychic block preventing people from learning his secret identity is gone, and he and MJ have decided to rekindle their relationship. It also gave Spider-Girl back her powers, which she had lost a few years ago, and Eddie Brock is no longer Anti-Venom.
    • Spider-Man has also gained new abilities at several times over the years (such as poisonous stingers from his forearms and organic webbing like in the movies). He once grew four extra arms in a failed attempt to remove his powers (he was probably glad that was temporary). He always loses these quickly enough and reverts to his original Stan Lee / Steve Ditko powerset.
    • Spider-Man seems to have gained two distinct Status Quos: He's either a single young adult living either alone, with his aunt, or a close friend, or he's married/in a committed relationship with Mary Jane Watson who he lives with, and appears to be growing up. This is the result of two parties Running the Asylum; in the former case, people who grew up with single young Spidey and/or cling onto him as a means to cling onto their own young adulthood, and so insist on keeping him this way, and in the latter case, people who grew up with Spidey when he was dating Mary Jane who, thanks to being the Ensemble Darkhorse, became a Fan-Preferred Couple with him, and so they make it canon and have them settle down since that's the logical path for a relationship to go, and likely similar to how the writer is currently. Because of this, Mary Jane has repeatedly been Put on a Bus, often via a means to try and ensure that she doesn't come back (such as killing her off or Derailing her), but every time this happens she always comes back (usually because whatever prompted her to leave, she gets over and reunites with Peter because ultimately, they both love each other too much). This is similar with any prominent relationship in mainstream comics; Superman and Lois Lane, Batman and Catwoman, Green Arrow and Black Canary, Henry Pym and The Wasp, Iron Man and Pepper Potts, Hawkeye and Mockingbird, and many, many others are pretty much stuck in an endless cycle of being broken up by writers who prefer them single and reunited by those who prefer them together. Because of this, fans of either persuasion should be able to rest easy, because sooner or later, they're going to be the way they want them. For a while. (In practice, of course, whichever set of fans is currently not being served call loudly for the Reset Button to be pushed now.)
  • Batman/Spider-Man villains thrive on this policy. The Joker especially, who has a trope named after him. He can kill and destroy as many lives as he wants, and all Bats does is punch him a few times and send him back to an easily escapable prison/asylum. He'll always be there to menace the Bat, and the ramifications of this continual (and destructive) cycle have now pretty much became a core aspect of their dynamic.
  • Similar to Ben Grimm's situation further above, poor Bruce Banner will always be the Hulk. He will never find a permanent cure, and because of that, he and Betty Ross will most likely always be Star-Crossed Lovers. Things might have changed with Betty Ross becoming the Red She-Hulk, but she permanently lost her powers.
  • This was predicted by Kieron Gillen concerning Loki; he would eventually go back to his usual self after Gillen had him reverted to childhood with about half his memories, practically worshiping The Mighty Thor. Much of the impact of the arc was not from wondering if the change would stick, but on the possible effects once things reverted to Status Quo. As writer of the Thor title (renamed Journey into Mystery thanks to the focus on Loki, rather than Thor), he indicated that Loki turning evil again WAS NOT a foregone conclusion, as Thor destroyed the Ragnarok cycle which contained the writings that decreed the destinies of the Asgardians, enabling all of them to Screw Destiny, Loki included, but in the end, Loki's villainous side returned. The writer says he chose to end the story with Loki's return to evil because he knew that if he didn't, someone else would come along and do it anyway. And at least if Loki fell from grace under his pen, he could do it in a suitably emotional manner. "So-and-so IS NOT a foregone conclusion" has been said numerous times (see Joe Quesada talking about the Spider-Man identity reveal, saying "it won't just be undone by magic a year later." So take any promise of permanence with a gigantic grain of salt.
    • HOWEVER, this was ultimately subverted in the end. Loki's adventures were continued in Gillen's Young Avengers run, with them now developing a massive Guilt Complex over his villainous' side returning, ultimately revealing that Loki's dark side hadn't returned; rather, their mind and memories had been restored but they retained the morality of their young self, and after they were restored to an older form (if albeit still younger than traditional, being now a 20s-something), they're now having a solid go at a Heel–Face Turn in Loki: Agent of Asgard, with a big focus on how they're attempting to Screw Destiny, with their future self, who had inevitably returned to villainy, playing the role of the Big Bad.
  • The Archie Comics Love Showdown storyline promised that Archie would chose either Betty or Veronica once and for all. The four part story ends with him choosing Third-Option Love Interest, but was followed up with a special that reset the situation back to normal.
  • In Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, the Eggman that Sonic's been fighting is from another universe. When Sonic told Zonic the Zone Cop about this in #197, he didn't care, because "Sonic Prime has to fight a Robotnik."
  • Les Légendaires is probably the only case where this trope is played straight and averted at the same time: the heroes' main goal is to break the curse that turned everyone on their world into children, for the length of the story, they are not allowed to succeed, or there would no longer be any main plot. On the other hand, the characters and their universe do go through changes. Except for Book 5 and 6, none of the change are ever removed. The most notable time this trope is defied is the Anathos Cycle, which involves the main characters are savagely scarred and crippled, their leader becomes a villain then dying, their Arch-Enemy losing his Joker Immunity to be finally Killed Off for Real, the protagonists getting new powers and looks, and, finally, getting their reputation reestablished. All those change are permanent, and there were no Reset Button.
  • Cyborg, like the Hulk and the Thing, frequently falls victim to this. Anytime he regains his normal human appearance (or at least gets a sleeker, less monstrous form), it's always undone within a few years.
  • Frequently used in The Beano and similar comics (The Beezer, Whizzer and Chips, The Dandy) when a strip ends with a major change to the characters occurring there is often a Note From Ed acting as a Reset Button saying the character will be back to normal by next week.
  • Lampshaded in one Nodwick strip in Dragon, in which Nodwick has been bouncing back and forth in time trying to save the universe from the Unnamable, and has taken several levels in badass as a result, becoming a mutliclassed wizard-cleric-fighter. The strip ends with Artax reassuring Yeagar that once the Unnamable's been dealt with they can wipe his brain, because having him be better than them at everything is just embarrassing.
  • Iznogoud: Whatever happens to Iznogoud—even being blasted into orbit—he's back safe and sound in the next story. There was made a "The Returns of Iznogoud" album, which adds via Retcon epilogues to many of the "bad endings" of past stories, explaining how Iznogoud each time manages to return to normal status quo. With some exceptions. Some of these epilogues have him trying to escape the bad situation and ending in a worse situation. For example Iznogoud escapes the complex maze to end up in the inescapable dungeons. Iznogoud has been there before (in a much older story) but doesn't remember any way out. While there he meets an older incarnation of himself, still searching for the way out after all these years.
  • Morbius the Living Vampire will always be a living vampire. Despite being cured of his pseudo-vampirism several times over the years, sooner or later he's always reverted back. He was once killed and brought back as an undead being, but, true to his name, ended up going back to 'living' about a year later. He's also worn several costumes over the years, including a leather outfit in his first solo series, but eventually always goes back to his signature outfit, the one he was introduced in.
  • Captain America has often handed his shield and title to other people. John Walker, Bucky Barnes, and Sam Wilson, respectively because Steve had became disenhearted with the role, was thought to be dead, or had been Brought Down to Normal. Each of those has eventually end(ed) with them stepping down and handing the title back in order to return to their own personal identity. Almost subverted with Bucky, though, as Steve had believed that being Captain America was a good thing for Bucky, and when he returned, he opted to take a promotion to becoming the new top-dog of SHIELD, making him something of a general to the superhero populace, rather than the field leader of the Avengers. This, largely, was thanks to fan reaction towards Bucky!Cap being so overwhelmingly positive that many fans didn't want Steve to come back to the role. In the end, he only returned to the role as it was in order to coincide with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    • Sam Wilson became the official Captain America in Captain America: Sam Wilson. In Nick Spencer's Captain America, Steve Rogers is back to normal and resumes being Captain America. Now both are Captain America.

    Fan Works 
  • Stick to the Foaluma is this trope Played for Drama in a terrifying fashion. Silver Spoon begins to realize how her and Diamond's lives seem to revolve around torturing the CMC and tries to change it...only for the computer controlling the show to literally press the Reset Button and Ret Gones it completely.
  • Interestingly played with in The Infinite Loops. Since the whole plot is an episodic collection of time loops that various universes are forced into while the Admins repair the Multiverse, a lot of things are constantly reset to "normal" and there is no end in sight for the repairs. But the characters that are aware of the time loops grow and develop....
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, this is Played for Drama. In episodes 5 and 9, ProtoMan's Heel–Face Turn and promotion are temporary, but have lasting effects on him and other characters. ProtoMan even leaves episode 9 in worse shape than when he started.
  • Averted in the rewrite of Calvin and Hobbes II: Lost at Sea
  • A major theme of Sonic X: Dark Chaos. Sure Sonic and his friends stopped Dark Tails and saved the galaxy... but the endless conflict between Maledict and Allysion continues, they both got what they wanted in the end, and there's nothing anyone can do to stop them. Until the Cruel Twist Ending.
  • A common complaint with That Look is that Naruto never manages to grow as a character. Every time he appears to be a Dumbass No More, he does something mind-numbingly stupid (such as not understanding the point of attacking a reservoir that supplies seventy percent of Suna's water, despite knowing Suna is in a desert). Furthermore, characters will comment on his growth only to insist he's still just a dumb kid a few chapters later. Combined with this is the fact his relationship with Anko never either moves forward or actually ends.

    Films - Animated 
  • In The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Plankton goes back to his villainous ways at the end. Given that this is a prequel to the first movie, he'd need to.
  • This is at the heart of Wreck-It Ralph. By the end of the movie, Ralph accepts this, but everything he's gone through by that point helps him understand the importance of his particular status and even earns him the respect he truly deserved. After all, plainly put, a video game like his literally can't function without him. Having finally gained a real true friend after it all helps too.

    Films - Live Action 
  • The premise for Batman: The Movie and the Batman TV Series is that that incarnation of Batman only is useful to fight supervillains (and nothing more). He cannot change anything more in his world. Robin's idea to better the world by making a "Freaky Friday" Flip with the bickering United World Organization security council is quickly rejected by Batman. Then when this happens… the security council is still bickering between themselves, but each one of them is bickering in a different idiom. Batman realizes this and he and Robin going out inconspicuously through the window.
  • Before The Dark Knight Saga you could expect all Batman movies to have the main villain dead, with Gotham saved. And Bruce Wayne would always get a new girlfriend, only to end up single again for the next movie. The notable exception is Batman & Robin; both villains are alive at the end although both are incarcerated and one has reformed.
  • Count Dracula always comes back.
  • Godzilla will always come back to either: A) fight other (possibly Eviler Than Thou) monsters; B) destroy a major city (usually Tokyo), or C) both. No matter how many times the JSDF tries to stop him.
    • For the first sequel, it was another Godzilla, just according to keikaku and predicted by Dr. Yamane in the first Godzilla film. For the rest of the Showa series, he was never permanently defeated, but merely came back throughout one loose but traceable continuity. Other times (like the Return of Godzilla and most of the Millennium films) it was an alternate continuity, sometimes even altering the in-universe events of the films they included. This case could be more Strictly Formula than Status Quo Is God.
    • Comic book writers like to subvert this. In Planetary the Four kill off the Kaiju in their crusade against weird, and in Marvel Civil War it was explained that the arrival of Japanese Superheroes allowed Japan to put an end to its Kaiju attacks. Moral of the Story: the way to kill off a status quo is with another status quo.
  • High School Musical has a song all about this called "Stick to the Status Quo". As described by The Agony Booth. This results in Sharpay becoming more empty-headed and bitchy by the second movie and again in the third one.
  • Indiana Jones: see James Bond. He finds lost treasures, and they're never heard from again. The Lost Ark? After its display of power, The Government packs it away and nothing bad happens despite the biblical prophecy that anyone who kept the Ark from the rightful Israelites would suffer God's wrath. The Shankara Stones? It's just a rock without the others (and, uh, no one ever will go down to that river). The Holy Grail? Trapped behind a cursed barrier. The Crystal Skull? Reunites with its body, and flies off to space... and another dimension.
  • It's a Wonderful Life is an in-universe case: while George has the opportunity to leave town for college and "see the world", the fact that Potter will take over his father's business and shut it down if he doesn't stay forces him to stay and run the building-and-loan himself. While it is later revealed that he made the wiser choice by staying instead of leaving, his only apparent motivation to make this choice in the first place was a desire to keep the town the same.
  • James Bond never changed his name or call number, even after 40 years of the original (Dr. No-Die Another Day) continuity, countless adventures, and five different actors. Never received any permanent scars or disabilities from battle wounds. Never married (for long), fathered children, caught a disease, or even gets a morning-after call from the Bond Girls he slept with in previous movies. Any new techno-toys Q gave him would vanish before the next movie.

    This only really started with the Roger Moore films. The Connery films (and Lazenby's sole outing) had a loose story arc revolving around Bond taking on Blofeld and SPECTRE.
    • One fanon explanation is that "007" is "James Bond" ... that is, James Bond is a codename, so whether the current agent with designation 007 looks like Sean Connery, Roger Moore, or Pierce Brosnan, his identity documents still say "James Bond." This was actually given a shout-out in Secret Avengers, with Hawkeye wondering if the new Nick Fury (the African-American son of the original Nick Fury, introduced to coincide with the popularity of the Race Lift Fury gets in adaptations nowadays) is the same deal, and they 'just pretend its the same guy with no fuss'. The two then actually debate this idea concerning Bond, but both seem to accept it as their own Headcanon.
  • An in-story example: In The Matrix trilogy, it's revealed that the humans and machines have gone through several cycles of rebellion and war, always returning to the status quo in between.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan features this; in the original episode "Space Seed," the evil Khan learns his lesson, and goes away with a happy ending; meanwhile in the first Star Trek movie, many developments are made to characters and technology. However in this sequel, Khan is back to his evil old self, and likewise most other things are back the way they were before.
    • This goes double for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; in Star Trek II, Spock died, and Kirk's son was introduced, along with his terraforming "Genesis Device;" however at the end of the movie, all of these are undone by the plot: Spock is brought back to life, Kirk's son is killed, and the Genesis Device is no more.
    • Star Trek III also introduced "trans-warp drive," and destroys the Enterprise. In Star Trek IV... well, you get the picture.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: The Last Stand seemed like this. During the movie, several characters died (including Professor X!) and many more were "cured" of their powers. Two scenes at the end hint that 1. Xavier downloaded his mind into a catatonic body and 2. Magneto and the others are recovering their powers, meaning the only changes that stick are Scott and Phoenix's deaths. And since Phoenix came back once...
    • Pleasantly and surprisingly averted in The Wolverine. Taking quite a bit of adamantium from Wolverine's claws right before a major installment coming up takes some balls from the creators. However the movie also plays this straight. Magneto is confirmed to have regained his powers, while Professor X is back. And in the wheelchair. The next movie hits a Reset Button for the entire continuity..

  • The entire point of The Wheel of Time series is that this trope is almost literal truth. The Creator made the Wheel of Time and, by design, it makes time cyclical and all major events will eventually happen again and again in some fashion, without end. The Big Bad seeks to destroy the Wheel of Time, which would upset the status quo. The good guys seek to prevent this, so maintenance of the status quo is the Good Guy Prime Directive.
    • The fact that the Wheel of Time can only be destroyed by destroying the universe might also have something to do with it.
  • The Red Dwarf novel Backwards, written by Rob Grant (who co-wrote the original six seasons of the television show). In this book, the "best end" Grant could come up with was having everything revert to as it is in the TV series, in spite of two of the cast dying and the other two being reverted in age by 10 years.
  • The novels of P. G. Wodehouse, which typically begin with a disruption of the status quo — an engagement broken off, a cook threatening to resign, Bertie growing a moustache — and end with its restoration. Jeeves is the archetypal status quo-restorer.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe trilogy "Black Fleet Crisis" seemed to toy with the idea of replacing the New Republic's (formerly the Rebel Alliance) iconic X-wings with a new starfighter: the E-wing. It didn't last, as all subsequent books mostly went back to X-wings whenever there was a space battle to be had. They were upgraded X-wing models to be sure, but the important thing is that they were still the same familiar ship we saw in the movies.
  • In Space Marine Battles novel Death of Integrity, the plot centers on retrieving a data core containing all pre-Heresy weapon designs, the reintroduction of which would spell death to all mankind's enemies. Given how it's Warhammer 40,000, infamous for upholding its status quo, you can guess how well that goes.
  • Wet Desert: Tracking Down a Terrorist on the Colorado River: The President is planning to rebuild the dams that were destroyed during the flood.
  • Justified in Maskerade, where a vampire manages to make his family immune to most Classical Movie Vampire weaknesses. In the end, it's explained that it's actually better for vampires to get staked by an angry mob once in a while, as trying to get around their many weaknesses leads to their victims looking for a more permanent solution (such as taking the ashes, sealing them in a bottle, and sending it over the Rim).

    Live Action TV 
  • In House, on three separate occasions House regains the use of his leg without pain and no longer has to walk with a cane, but due to various circumstances he never stays that way. Twice he rejected a method of eliminating the pain, believing that his own personal misery was a necessary ingredient for doing the job well. Similarly, House has a vicodin addiction for most of the series, and while he does remain clean of vicodin for more than a season, he eventually does start taking it again.
  • Saved by the Bell was the king of this, with new girlfriends constantly introduced for Zack and disappearing after their one episode. There was the case of the homeless girl who, along with her father was about to move into Zack's house, as well as Slater's previously unseen sister. While Lisa didn't disappear after the episode where she and Zack started dating, the relationship was dropped after one episode. The only non-main cast girlfriend to stick around was Stacy during the "Malibu Sands" mini-season, and she was never mentioned after the Malibu Sands recap episode at the beginning of the senior year season. Earlier, Violet disappeared without explanation after a several episode run that left Screech without his girlfriend and pining for Lisa again.
  • iCarly: Every plot that involves a conflict between Carly and Sam, or a certain incident threatens the loss of one of the ¡Three Amigos! ends up being resolved in the same episode. They finally had an ongoing plot-arc during the "iSeddie" Season 5, but after the pairing broke up, they have mentioned it exactly once and never again.
  • Austin & Ally: The Zalien episode set up a sort of Odd Friendship for Dez and Trish... which promptly crashes at the end of the episode.
    • It's averted with the 'Starr Records' plot-line in the final two episodes of Season 1. You'd expect something to go disastrously wrong so that Austin can remain an independent singer trying to reach for the stars but nothing does. He signs a record deal. He has a record made. They release the CD and have a launch party, and remark at the end of Albums & Auditions that with Austin moving up in the music world that things will be changing.
    • Played straight with Ally's plot in Albums & Auditions. The Power of Friendship makes her decide to stay in Miami instead of leaving to go to New York for music school.
  • JAG & NCIS: Both have a strong emphasis on character development, continuity, and story arcs, so this trope really just applies to some aspects of the shows. Any attempt to dissolve the teams is crushed mercilessly or repaired by the season premiere and any new Love Interest is evil.
    • Of note is Harm returning to flying duty in the fifth season. One multi-episode story arc later, and his commander advises him to transfer back to JAG, because he can do more good there than in the cockpitnote 
    • NCIS is so notable for having all of its characters screwed up to some degree that it was notable that when Ellie Bishop joined the show in Season 12, she was the first person in the show's run to join the team and be Happily Married and to have come from a normal, happy family, pretty much the opposite of everyone. But sure enough, she's well on her way to having the same tragic, screwed-up love life that everyone else has, with her marriage becoming increasingly strained to the point where her husband admits to an affair and them divorcing, and her new boyfriend being killed off just before she would have accepted his proposal.
  • Often Played for Laughs on Arrested Development, whenever the narrator says "next time on Arrested Development." What he says will happen never happens in the next show, but is most often a brief explanation how everything ends up exactly the way it was before in time for the next episode. For example, when Micheal set fire to the Banana stand, he is shown rebuilding it during the "next time." When he was arrested after a misunderstanding involving the forced abduction of a Hispanic housekeeper, he is shown being set free because she could not identify him in a police lineup.
  • Power Rangers both follows and averts this trope. Most of the time, the monster is defeated, and things go back to normal (with any damage being repaired by next episode). But there's times when they get new Zords, a new ranger, or a new Big Bad, who tends to stick around until the end of the season. This trope is especially played straight in the early seasons. After the fifth season, the series tries to avert this trope more and more by introducing dynamic story-elements. Most seasons, especially in the early seasons after the Zordon Saga, ended with the Rangers' zords and/or base destroyed, their powers lost (sometimes burned out to kill the Big Bad) and often with the team going their separate ways. By the time for the crossover with the next series rolls around (to say nothing of reunion/anniversary specials), their powers will be back, at least for a while.
  • Battlestar Galactica:
    • Battlestar Galactica (1978) played this trope straight for the most part, with the exception of having Baltar captured halfway through its run and frequently being visited in the Prison Barge whenever the heroes needed him for information. And adding a few new regular and recurring characters such as Sheba. The status quo of the Fleet leaving the colonies in search of Earth (and never really finding it) remained unchanged up until the final episode.
    • According to producer Ron Moore, Battlestar Galactica (2003) makes a conscious effort to avert this trope, the idea being to introduce irrevocable change on a regular basis so the show doesn't stagnate and become the same episode over and over again. Some viewers naturally experience possible side-effects. This was explicitly a reaction to how status quo was god over on Star Trek: Voyager, criticized for resorting to the "reset button" all the time (i.e. they must have a "shuttle factory" for all the ones that get destroyed during that series).
      • One of the basic points they made is that they do not have replicators like Star Trek, and as a single ship on the run without a homeworld anymore, they physically do not have the industrial capacity to replace complex machine parts anymore. They can fudge it a bit by cobbling together spare parts stripped from other ships, but fundamentally, Galactica doesn't have a Starfighter factory on board. When a Viper fighter gets damaged beyond repair, that's it - the overall number of Vipers they have can't increase (except when they had Pegasus, but not for long).
      • When Galactica takes a severe pounding during the battle over New Caprica, it stays half-crippled for the rest of the TV series. They don't have a home planet with orbital drydocks to repair it in. Even a half-wrecked battlestar can put up a good deal of a fight, however, though from that point on the ship's mechanics are really facing a losing battle to keep it running.
      • On the other hand, Ron Moore openly picked the "Final Five Cylons" based on shock value, what would disrupt the status quo, rather than based on what made sense within the plot. This included openly breaking their own story rules, and not even setting up the reveal with plausible explanations - i.e. one character even had a child, and the one cardinal rule they had about Cylons was that they're sterile. Moore bluntly admitted that this was indeed simply breaking his own rules, and openly made a ham-fisted retcon to explain that it wasn't really his child. Viewers and critics were not amused.
  • Gilligan's Island: Obviously this series was built entirely around this trope — i.e. it's all about how they want to get off the island; but that would end the series, so it can't possibly happen. Years after the series ended, there was a special where they did get off the island. There was a sequel to the special, as well, where they returned to the island and converted it into a tourist destination. In the television movie Rescue From Gilligan's Island, Gilligan finds a valuable piece of an exploded satellite, a tsunami washes everyone off the island, they return home, there's secret agent shenanigans, and at the end they all go on another boat trip, get caught in a hurricane... and wind up right back on the island.
  • Glee. Dear God in Heaven, Glee.
    • No matter how emphatically Rachel walks out of the club, Finn makes out with... someone new, or Kurt is compassionate to his bully Karofsky, by the end of the episode it will all be back. Even Kurt changing schools only lasted a few episodes.
    • The glee club is persistently considered to be unpopular despite repeated incidents of them being the focus of rapturous responses from the student body at some of their performances. Santana even thought she could win enough votes to become prom queen by getting Kurt to come back to McKinley after he went to Dalton. Even though both before and after his return much was made of how much homophobic hostility towards him there was from the student body, and the question of why, if the students hate the glee club, they should care about improving their chances at Nationals.
  • Psych. Shawn and Jules and their relationship. They never really displayed any overt affection towards each other, but Shawn has turned down some relationships with characters that would obviously change the dynamic of the show because of some unspoken thing that they'll get together eventually. Eventually Shawn gets a girlfriend, Abigail, and the viewer is treated to Juliet's reaction to that. And post- season's five "Extradition II" Status Quo is No Longer God.
  • Burn Notice. Whatever happens and whatever Mike does, he's going to stay in Miami. The change is in how Mike deals with it, and by the middle of season three, he's reconciled himself to giving up figuring out who burned him.
    • Lampshaded when Mike returns at the beginning of Season Four, only to find Sam and Fi are already embroiled in a case-of-the-week as if he had not disappeared into a secret prison for several weeks. He protests this, and Fiona reveals they'd taken a client out of respect to him and his memory.
    • The Burn Notice is eventually more or less lifted - right around the time the show gets renewed for several series - only for circumstances to keep Mike mostly in Miami. Part of the reason is that as a burned spy with a penchant for do-gooding, the CIA can use Mike for jobs and have plausible deniability.
  • British sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf tends to subscribe to this most of the time. It doesn't matter if one of the crew is turned from robot to human, or if reality itself is collapsing, status quo will almost always return. Exceptions are made for the start of the 6th, 7th and 8th seasons, where a new Status Quo will be applied for the rest of that season, no matter how little sense it makes. This even includes bringing back a former character, who had left to go hop around the multiverse at random. However, because it's a scifi-sitcom, this series has a decent excuse.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Sabrina's transformation of In the Blood snob Libby into a Fallen Princess ultimately ends up having this effect.
  • 7Days has essentially no character development. Frank and Olga never get their relationship past the flirting phase. Donovan never gets to backstep (or do much of anything else). Ramsey still hates Frank's guts all throughout the series even though Frank stuck out his neck to protect him on multiple occasions.
  • As irritating as this trope can be in light-hearted series, it's even more so in serious drama. Spooks has managed to hit both this trope and Anyone Can Die, the latter for destroying half of south-east England, murdering the Royal Family, killing the parliament and leaving one of their main cast on death's door, before revealing the whole thing was a training exercise.
  • Star Trek: Prior to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (and arguably Star Trek: The Next Generation), this was the standard procedure. Likewise for the Star Trek Expanded Universe novels, to not interfere with any of the shows or movies.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • Two especially blatant instances of shoving things back into status quo in the original series can be found in the episodes "Operation - Annihilate!" and "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky". In the former, Spock is afflicted by an alien parasite, and it is discovered that extremely bright light can kill it without harming the host. Well, except for rendering Spock permanently blind. Mere minutes from the end Spock suddenly turns up on the bridge with his eyesight restored, and it is handwaved by explaining that Vulcans have a secondary inner eyelid which protected him from permanent blindness. Said physical feature was never mentioned before, and never brought up again until late in Enterprise. In the beginning of "For the World is Hollow...", we learn that McCoy has a rare incurable disease which will kill him within a year. Wouldn't you know it, the new civilization the Enterprise encounters in the episode has advanced medical knowledge which just happens to include a cure for that very disease.
    • On at least three separate occasions, Kirk lost someone he had fallen in love with, grieved until the end of the episode, and then carried on as gung-ho as ever in the next episode. Justified in "Requiem for Methuselah" by Spock using a mind-meld to suppress Kirk's memories of the event.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The head writers consider in hindsight this trope the biggest problem with the award-winning episode "The Inner Light": An alien probe zaps Picard which results in him in experiencing decades of living on an alien world, while in reality only hours pass. However, in later episodes there are no indications that this experience had any lasting effect on Picard, beyond teaching him to play the flute.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine started out like this too before ending with heavy serialization - the early episode "Hard Time", O'Brien is convicted of a crime and sentenced to live twenty years in prison... and is then given the memories of a twenty year stint in a maximum security prison that included every bad event you can imagine happening in such a place. The rest of the episode deals with the fact that, even though he physically was never in prison, he still has PTSD and his behavior patterns are now those of a ruthless prisoner and how he has trouble relating to his wife and friends anymore, and so on. This traumatic, life-changing event, or its supposedly long-term effects, are never mentioned again once the episode is over with no explanation as to why it suddenly goes away other than "a different writer is penning the next episode."
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • An accusation sometimes leveled at the series. Stranded 70 years from home, with corridors and shuttles being blown to crap every week, and the ship is in mint condition by next episode, leading to one episode where Chakotay insisted they already had a full complement of shuttles even though he is the one most responsible for losing them. Few characters were promoted, despite many displaying competence that is wildly out of proportion to their rank; Harry Kim, in particular, spent seven years as bridge crew without a promotion, on the grounds that "somebody's gotta be the ensign". Doubtless this was due to TNG's mammoth success in syndication, where viewers could jump into the show at dinnertime and not miss anything.
    SFDebris: What would it have hurt to make changes to Seven - to have her grow even a little - half a dozen episodes before the end of the series, after you've been teasing it for years? Then again, this is a show about getting home that cut to the credits before they reached it. So for all we know, Voyager got hit by an asteroid before it reached Earth, and Janeway was the only survivor.
    • Perhaps the most outrageous example comes from the episode "Deadlock." The ep kicks off with the surprise deaths of Harry Kim and Ensign Wildman's newborn baby daughter Naomi. This major story development is quickly averted via the convenient splitting of Voyager and its crew into two identical ones. Said duplication sticks around just long enough to fill out the episode's runtime, after which it is destroyed, and all the duplicates die...except for the doubles of Harry and Naomi. Janeway had ordered this Harry to take the baby over to the other Voyager. In other words, she wanted them to replace the dead ones just before she self-destructs her ship to save it from the bad guys. Everyone on the ship treats him as if he were the original and no one ever mentions it again.
    • Another episode dealt with the "Year of Hell," which was foreseen by Kes, yet no one remembers to steer away from the race that started it. The year gets progressively worse, killing most of Voyager's crew, most of the survivors leaving on shuttles, and Voyager itself quickly losing power. Janeway initiates a Reset Button by ramming the enemy ship with Voyager. Since the Doomsday Weapon was based on altering time, its destruction reset the entire year, and Janeway making the decision to go around. (Her words just before ramming: "I wouldn't mind forgetting that this entire year ever happened.")
    • One episode featured a baby with Borg implants, rescued from the Borg by Voyager's crew. After flip-flopping on how to deal with the infant, the crew decide to keep the child on board and raise it themselves. Following this episode, the baby is never seen or mentioned again.
    • "Tuvix" is a prime example. Reviewer Tim Lynch said that the reason Janeway decided to destroy Tuvix and restore Neelix and Tuvok despite the ship being better off without them and most of the crew loving him is that Ethan Phillips and Tim Russ had contracts.
  • Seinfeld
    • Although the plots implicitly offer up an unlimited number of hilarious, deliciously complex, irony-steeped Aesops, the characters never, ever learn anything from them and in every episode they are as shallow and petty as they were in the previous one. In fact, in nine years of adventures, the only change they ever went through was that by the Finale they ran out of new things to talk about and started repeating what they had been talking about in the Pilot.
    • The show even had a season long arc playing with and lampshading this trope. Season 7 began with George and Jerry coming to a mutual realization that they both need to grow up and stop acting so immature and petty, and the two of them make a pact to turn themselves around. This leads George to propose to his old Girlfriend Susan, meanwhile, Kramer talks Jerry out of his half of the pact, and George spends the rest of the season trying to regain Status Quo by getting out of the engagement to Susan.
    • One episode had Jerry discovering that he has this as a superpower. No matter what happens to him, he'll always end up no better or worse than when he started. For example, Elaine takes a $20 bill from him and tosses it out the window to see if he gets the money back. Sure enough, when he puts on his jacket to leave, he puts his hand in the pocket and finds a $20 bill. Kramer dubs him "Even Steven".
  • Lampshaded by That '70s Show. Kelso complains at length that he's gone for the entire summer and nothing's changed. The minute he leaves, Jackie and Hyde are all over each other. The show was pretty bad about that though in an effort to keep everyone single and hanging around Eric Foreman's house. Eric and Donna got the worst of it. At first they were going to high school, then they were preparing for college, then Eric's father Red had a heart attack and Eric had to stay behind to take care of him so Donna didn't go either. Then they broke up, got back together, decided to get married, called it off, then just hung around doing nothing until Eric left the show.
  • If Status Quo Is God, Babylon 5 regularly commits deicide. Drastic, lasting changes often occur from episode to episode. Even in one relatively standalone episode from Season 2, a race is killed off. This is the series that gave us the trope name for Nothing Is the Same Anymore. Several of the actors commented that it was a great show to work on because they never knew what would be happening next and it was a given that their characters would change significantly over the course of the show's events.
  • When's the last time an episode of Monk changed something in the continuity? Even the "Trudy bomb" is losing its impact because the last several episodes that involved her case in some way didn't change anything or reveal anything. Monk has been mired in its' own status quo for quite a long time, and the season finales haven't really changed anything.
  • Merlin (2008). It wasn't so apparent in series one, because nothing terribly earth-shattering happened, but then it looks like things were finally going to get shaken up a little, only to reverse it all at the start of series two - Merlin is forced to go back on his vow not to speak to the dragon again; Morgana finds out for certain about her magic, freaks out, and runs away, but at the end of the episode she's back and things are more or less exactly as they were; Gwen and Arthur start to fall in love, only to agree that it wouldn't work out; Merlin gets a girlfriend and vows to run away with her, but by the end of the episode she's dead, and the chances are he'll be over it by next week, And then worst of all, Arthur finds out the truth about his birth and tries to kill his father, only to be persuaded it was all a lie and go back to his 'all magic is evil' attitude. However, it looks like this may possibly change soon - at some point this series, the dragon is going to be released.
  • The Mighty Boosh has Howard Moon. An unwritten rule seems to be that anything that could possibly maybe lead to him being happy will be killed off or revealed to be some horrible prank.
  • Roseanne arguably played this relatively straight for eight seasons, then in the last season decided to avert it entirely, with the Conners winning the lottery, not losing it by the end of the episode. They remained rich until the end of the season when it was revealed that Roseanne had been making up the entire thing to try and cope with Dan's death. Many believe all of this to be the point where the show jumped the shark, showing that tropes are not bad.
  • Eureka averted it in a bold move; despite some sacrifices (Poor Jo Lupo) when the 4th season saw them travel through time and permanently alter their present, introducing Grant from the year 1947 and making reassigning Lupo and Fargo to superior roles.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • While it does have some story and character arcs, there are a surprising amount of Filler episodes in which something will upset the balance of the main characters lives only to be completely ignored forever after. A couple of examples are the girl who moved in upstairs and became something of a rival to Girl Next Door Penny (but she disappears in the next episode and is never heard from again) and the trip the four guys take to the arctic (they are instantly back at the beginning of the next episode with very little lasting change).
    • Averted at the end of season 7. In addition to Penny quitting her waitressing job, the last three episodes have events that shake up everything. Sheldon realizes that string theory is a dead end and decides to change his field of study, Professor Proton (a longtime hero and somewhat-friend of Sheldon and Leonard) dies, Penny and Leonard finally get engaged, and Stuart's comic book shop burns down. If that's not enough, the prospect of his friends' marriage forcing him out of the apartment coupled with the possibility that the university might not let him change his field of study causes Sheldon to ultimately decide to get on a train bound for an unknown destination.
  • Lampshaded on an episode of Cheers, when an old man came into the bar and commented on how he hadn't been there in 20 years, and noted how many things had changed— including, he said, "the wallpaper behind Norm."
  • In the How I Met Your Mother episode "Blitzgiving," we are introduced to Ted and Marshall's college buddy "The Blitz," who possesses a curse that makes awesome things happen... right after he leaves a room. Over the course of the episode, the curse is passed to Ted, then Barney, but it returns to The Blitz during the end credits.
  • Smallville
    • While many aspects do change in the show, there are at least two things that remain the same. The first is it will not take long before a Brought Down to Normal Clark regains his powers. The second is that the people who are destined to know he has powers will be the only ones to keep that information. When Clark wanted Jor-El to restore Chloe's memories without her knowing his secret, Chloe remembered two episodes later. The characters who aren't supposed to know will have Easy Amnesia.
    • In a short-term example, Clark spent an awful lot of time keeping Lex and Tess alive because they were on the opening titles, while letting Villains of the Week who were a lot less dangerous than them die.
  • The goal of the leads in Person of Interest is to resolve bad situations. At the same time, they know going into it they will ultimately fail and die having only made minor changes in the world. ...At least until the Season 3 finale. Team Machine has helped along a major change in the world: it is now watched over by a malevolent Machine that functions to attack the population, rather than defend it. Nothing Is the Same Anymore and our heroes are in hiding. Talk about Averted Trope.
  • Like any other trope on Community this was played with, though ultimately averted. Over the course of six seasons, five out of the original seven Study Group members left Greendale altogether (though one was only because of their death.) Jeff's seeming inability to leave Greendale behind completely was also treated as a major plot point rather than an excuse to keep the status quo in place.
  • Lampshaded on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air; one season ended with Will moving back to Philadelphia. The next season started with NBC studio execs showing up to kidnap him and drag him back to Bel Air, and the whole thing was never mentioned again.
  • At the beginning of the fourth season of Modern Family, the Dunphys' eldest daughter, Haley, leaves to go to college, a move which she'd realistically spent a lot of her time worrying about the previous season. Four episodes later, however, she gets arrested trying to flee a party and is ... expelled from school, allowing her to live at home again.
    • Alex actually lasts an entire year at school (albeit one only 50 miles from home). But in the beginning of the following season, she gets mono and conveniently decides to just take the entire semester off. Time will tell if or when she ever goes back.
  • In MythQuest, the kids have to be extremely careful to not change the myths that they go into, as changing the story in the myth world changes it in the real world as well, and after a short amount of time, within memory as well. This tends to have ripple effects, one of which is to make escaping the myth world easier for Gorgos.
  • Supernatural:
    • Anything that could potentially separate Sam and Dean, be it a bad argument, demon trickery, a trip to Purgatory, death, or Death, will be quickly resolved because Sam and Dean just can't be apart. If it cannot be fixed quickly in-universe, they will use a Time Skip. Over the course of 10 seasons, the longest they're ever separated is two episodes ("Free To Be You And Me" and "The End" in season 5).
    • The season 8 finale ends with Castiel losing his angelic powers. The season 9 premiere introduces Ezekiel, another angel who allies with the heroes. Nine episodes later, he's revealed to be a bad guy. In the same episode, Cas gets his powers back. As much as Word of God complains about the Story-Breaker Power of the angels, they sure want to keep one around to help clean up after Sam and Dean.
    • At the end of season 9, Dean becomes a demon. This lasts less than three episodes.
  • 24 is a show that generally does change its status quo up, there does seem to be one universal rule to that always has to be kept. Jack Bauer can never be happy, probably because True Art Is Angsty or something like that. Any time he is in even a remotely good mood or has something to keep him moving on, it will be violently taken away from him. For the majority of the series it seems that the one other constant was Jack working with the CTU no matter what. This hit especially hard in both the fourth and sixth seasons, both which tried to have Jack go in different places but soon saw him working with it again all too quickly. After that, the series made sure to avoid this: Season 7 averted things by not having the CTU appear at all, while Season 8 subverted things by having him once again work with them (albeit their New York City branch this time around) and then had him split off just a little halfway through, becoming a borderline terrorist in order to get the bad guys on his own. The upcoming Live Another Day mini-series, which many fans are calling "Season 9" is averting this as well, as things will be taking place entirely in London.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place is very good at avoiding this, given its strong sense of continuity. The only instance where this trope was invoked was with the dragon dog.
  • Victorious: An incredibly annoying example comes from the episode "Helen Back Again". Helen, a character from Drake & Josh, comes to Hollywood Arts to be the new principal. She decides to implement a new rule that every student must audition again in order to continue attending. Since Trina's original audition was a fluke, she obviously can't pass legitimately. After a mix-up that almost sends Tori packing instead of Trina, Tori stages a mugging to make Trina look like a hero in front of Helen. Not only is Trina unaware of Tori's plan, meaning their sibling dynamic remains as toxic as ever, but Helen never appears again in the series – rendering the whole episode useless as anything other than a semi-crossover.
  • Family Matters, in addition to being the poster child for Aesop Amnesia, often had Urkel do some pretty extreme damage to the Winslows' house. From shooting through their roof with a jet pack to destroying their entire garage. By the next scene(!), everything would be completely repaired and said damage would never be mentioned again.
  • Charmed
    • No matter what happened, or what kind of creature the sisters got turned into (be them vampires, warlocks, valkyries or even demons), by the end of the episode the transformation was undone.
    • Subverted in "Crime and Witch-demeanors" where Phoebe is stripped of her powers, not regaining her premonition until the next season.
  • Castle:
    • In the Season 6 premiere, Beckett accepts a job in Washington, DC. It takes but four episodes for her to be back as an NYC police detective, and that's only because budget cuts prevented her from returning to duty immediately upon being fired from her DC job in the 3rd episode. It is again played straight with the opening to season 7 when Castle is abducted and disappears for two months just as he and Beckett are about to be married, obviously thus delaying the wedding and allowing them to have status quo in terms of their relationship.
    • However, the main series itself averts this, in order, Captain Montgomery is killed to save Beckett. Then she's shot anyway, at which point Castle admits that he loves her. Then she gets amnesia and doesn't remember. Then he overhears her saying that she did remember. This pushes him away, just when she's about to open up about her feelings. Then he tells her he knows, just as she's about to go after a man involved in her mother's murder. After she's nearly killed, she realizes she loves Castle, and they start a relationship. As they engage in increasingly transparent shenanigans to hide their relationship, they finally take down Joanna Beckett's killer. Oh, and that FBI thing? That was after Beckett accepted Castle's marriage proposal.
    • In a slightly more minor capacity this is also played straight in various episodes in which Castle and Beckett are given a situation in which her usual authority is not valid(generally when they are out of her jurisdiction) or that they otherwise shouldn't be working together normally (like when Castle was briefly a fugitive or when Beckett was working for the feds), but that they generally keep doing things as normal partners by the second commercial break.
  • Frasier has flipped between playing the trope straight and inverting it. For example, the end of Season Five has the radio personalities getting fired. Frasier, however, is never able to find a permanent girlfriend so he can remain a bachelor. Ditto Martin, until the end of the series when it doesn't matter anymore.
  • Sort of zig-zagged with Anthony Bourdain in No Reservations. On one hand, he thinks a chef that sticks with a specialty dish will be the death of him or her. On the other, he has a hard on for food stalls that specialize in one dish because they do it well.
  • A common complaint about Friends is that, despite the many changes that happen in the six characters' lives throughout the series (new jobs, new apartments, etc.), they (except Chandler and possibly Rachel) never really grow or evolve as people. Instead, continuing to make the same mistakes and maintain the same unlikable traits (which are, if anything, amplified due to Flanderization) from season to season. In a sense, the series both plays straight and averts this trope.
  • Both played straight and averted in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • Averted after about Episode 10 of Season 1, when the Myth Arc really kicks in, and nearly every episode ends with some life-changing event for at least one character. Taken Up to Eleven by the end of the season; the show and most of is characters are basically unrecognisable from the pilot, a mere 22 episodes ago.
    • Played straight with the Bus, the plane on which the team live and work. Any damage it takes, no matter how catastrophic, will usually be fixed by the beginning of the next episode at the latest; if it's stolen, they'll always manage to get it back in the same amount of time. Then subverted when it really is destroyed for good in "The Dirty Half-Dozen", but by that point Coulson's team had gotten their own base and stopped using the Bus nearly as often. And by the start of season 3, Coulson's replaced it with an even fancier plane, Zephyr One.
    • Looks set to be played straight again in Season 2 with Ward's character: after deciding not to kill him off as planned at the end of Season 1 and having Brett Dalton renew his contract as main cast for Season 2, the writers now need to find a way to get him out of jail and back in with the team, despite him now being a known enemy. Except they don't; he ends up working with HYDRA instead. Fans worried that he would have some sort of redemption arc, the closest he comes is when he rescues Skye from some bonds, expecting her to team up with him to escape, and she promptly shoots him and leaves.
  • ER. This was all but guaranteed anytime it seemed that a character might be leaving the hospital for another job. As long as it was known that their portrayer didn't intend to leave the show, there was no reason to angst.
    • Doug Ross is fired a third of the way into the second season and by the beginning of the next episode, accepts a job offer at a prestigious clinic. However, said episode was the legendary "Hell And High Water". By the episode after that, the hospital administration was so impressed by his heroic actions that they offered him his previous job back.
    • In the second-season finale, Carol gets fed up with the red tape she constantly has to deal with and quits. By the third season premiere, she's back at work, with absolutely no explanation as to how she got her job back and aside from one other person snarking, "Well, you could always quit again" when she was complaining about something, no references to it were ever made.
    • At the beginning of the ninth season, Elizabeth Corday was shown to have returned to London (with her husband's death, she no longer had any ties to Chicago. It was also completely plausible, given the longer time frame). By episode's end, being very unhappy and having realized that she no longer fits in in England, she decides to return to Chicago. By the very next episode, she's back at work, having resumed her job and moved back into her house without the slightest blip.
  • Season 3 of Elementary begins with Sherlock having recruited a new protege to replace Watson and Watson herself having started her own detective business and found a steady boyfriend. After season 3's winter hiatus Kitty's Cycle of Revenge character arc was speedily resolved, Watson's boyfriend was killed by Elena March, and Watson decided to move back in with Sherlock. This was spread across five episodes to make the reset a little less obvious.
  • The X-Files is firmly committed to its Half-Arc Season structure. No matter what happens in a Myth Arc episode, no matter what tragedies Mulder and Scully endure, and no matter how much they antagonize the conspiracy that controls their government, it can't prevent them from continuing to work for the government investigating weird cases, because then the Monster of the Week episodes couldn't happen like normal.


    Newspaper Comics 
  • Invoked in an Over the Hedge story arc in which Verne is made over by RJ in an attempt to humiliate him, but ends up making him popular with the ladies (or as RJ puts it, turned him into Hugh Heffner). This somehow upsets nature, and the Nature Police arrest him, but he gives Hammy an energy drink, enabling him to go back and stop the makeover from happening, but it not only has the present day have two Hammys, but also has them, Verne, and RJ speak backwards (represented by backwards text).
  • Dennis the Menace (US) celebrated his fifth birthday every year.
  • Peanuts:
    • Charlie Brown never succeeded in kicking that football. Schulz refused to break the status quo even when requests were made after he announced his retirement.
    • It looked like Charlie Brown would never truly win a baseball game for the same reason. (One time, he did win, and it seemed such a big event that Walter Cronkite himself congratulated Charlie Brown on the CBS Evening News; unfortunately, Charlie Brown had to forfeit the game because Rerun had gambled on it, so Cronkite regrettably rescinded what he said.) However, Schulz broke the status quo in 1993, by having him win two games fairly (against the same team, no less, a team run by a spacy girl who believed she was Roy Hobbs granddaughter.)
  • FoxTrot slipped into this - at first it actually did have a bit of continuity (Jason's teacher retiring, Andy's hairstyle changing, Andy's job being established as a columnist, the Summer Camp arc, Peter and Denise getting together) but it quickly fell into this, as with every story arc the status quo would be reset. This made the time when Phoebe and Eugene visited seem somewhat odd.

  • Mentioned and subverted in an episode of Hamish and Dougal, in which Mrs. Naughtie tries to get her old job back after handing in her resignation.
    Mrs. Naughtie: Oh, Mr. Hamish, Mr. Dougal! Can't I go back to being your housekeeper again?
    Hamish: Ah, yes...and it'd be just like old times.
    Dougal: Yes... ...but the position has already been filled. Goodbye!

    Tabletop Games 
  • The new edition of Warhammer 40,000 states that mankind has entered the Time of Ending, with the long-awaited fall of the Imperium imminent. Fans weren't fooled, since the in-universe calendar was actually rewound by about 4 decades in order to make the "Time of Ending" take place before year 41000. As always, The End of the World as We Know It is still very, very unlikely.
    • On the other hand, the series has seen the introduction of new races, and changes to old ones — the Tyranids, for example, are a vastly different force from the Genestealer infiltrators that first attacked the Imperium.
    • The whole point of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 was that the world is always almost about to end.
    • The rules of both systems managed to avert this to some extent. 8th edition fantasy shook up the way the rules had worked for years in a huge way and 5th edition 40k altered things to a big extent too.
    • And Warhammer has now ended with The Bad Guy Wins, segueing into Warhammer: Age of Sigmar via Warhammer The End Times.
    • Quite recently averted with the brand new 7th Edition codexes, and the Gathering Storm plotline which inflicts lasting consequences for multiple factions. Abaddon has finally conquered and destroyed Cadia, leaving the Cadian regiments as The Remnant, the Eldar have managed to partially summon Ynnead and a new movement is opening up the possibility of the reunification of the Craftworld and Dark Eldar, and Primarch Roboute Guilliman has returned.
  • White Wolf is not fond of this trope. In the Old World of Darkness, any apocalypse foretold in a gameline would come to pass when that game went out of print, ending with the Time of Fire when the oWoD ended. The New World of Darkness is designed as a more static universe.
    • Interestingly enough, in New World of Darkness, the God Machine spends it's existence maintaining the status quo.
  • Scion has the Overworld War take noticeable steps between the three main books.
  • Exalted is even more blunt about shooting this trope in the face. In the second book they ever published, they made it abundantly clear that the metaplot would not be moving forward canonically from the Day 0 of Realm Year 768, as the characters are intended to deform and reshape the setting around them in their image. More detail has been given about the setting as it stands—mostly to provide new and interesting ways for Creation to go to Hell in one way or another, or for players to fight against it—but nothing has definitively gone forward and progressed information on the inside of the core book. Actually, in Exalted, Status Quo may well be God. On the other hand, starting characters can start off with a power suite to murder the gods.
    • 3e does project what could happen in the years following Day 0, showing how Creation changes over time, but again the characters are fully expected to crash in and shake things up.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Ravenloft's mysterious Dark Powers explicitly apply Laser-Guided Amnesia and Phlebotinum-Induced Stupidity to the populations and even darklords of the various domains in order to preserve the general theme of each domain. Hence, for example, Vlad Drakov will never incorporate firearms into his Medieval-style army, even though surrounding domains have them, firmly believing that magic and guns are "coward's weapons." Likewise, many supposedly-human darklords are centuries old, and the residents of their domains don't seem to notice.
    • In the CD&D Hollow World setting, the quasi-divine Immortals slapped an extremely powerful spell on the place to ensure that cultures preserved within it wouldn't change.
  • BattleTech seems to avert this with the different eras (Star League, Clan Invasion, Jihad, etc...), but plays one constant straight: Don't expect anything that threatens to seriously shift the overall deadlock to last for very long. In fact, it's usually the point where everybody goes back to shooting each other that begins and/or ends each Era.
    • Likewise, other factions may come and go, but the five Great Houses that were introduced first (Davion, Kurita, Liao, Marik and Steiner) are clearly here to stay and remain in charge of their respective Successor States roughly until the heat death of the universe. The Free Worlds League may currently (as of this writing) look like it's falling apart, but it's really just a matter of time before it pulls itself back together with once again some scion or other of the extended Marik family at the helm.

    Video Games 
  • Every MMORPG, as covered in Perpetually Static, with exceptions, though...
    • EverQuest II, for example, has occasional events that change the political landscape of the world, usually coinciding with expansions. Gameplay doesn't change much unless you're in one of the new starter cities, but the status quo is sometimes allowed to change.
    • Also, EVE Online. Player organizations can and do control large areas of the game, and ownership changes all the time depending on how the latest war is going.
    • Kingdom of Loathing lampshades this by revealing that nothing (almost) the player can do has an effect on the place. The exception is found in some site-wide events, in which you have a choice on which side to choose. The more you work for that side, the better the outcome for you.
    • Since The Lord of the Rings Online is based on, well, The Lord of the Rings, it's fairly obvious that changing the main storyline is verboten. The game manages, though, to suggest that the player is responsible for several background events mentioned in the books, and the main Fellowship characters appear in several locations in-game to request your help. For example, Aragorn appears in Bree and in Rivendell among other locations, and even where he's not actually present, the NPCs you run into will refer to him as if he is either expected at any moment (and you need to do something to make his arrival possible) or has just passed through (and left a message for you to gather 15 Orc Macguffins to break some curse or whatever). Whether the Fellowship "is about to arrive" or "has just left" in any given area depends on exactly where you are in the quest chain.
    • In PlaneShift, since the game hasn't reached version 1 yet, time is officially frozen and all changes to the world are accomplished via Retcon. The only exception is the brief "Crystal Eclipse" storyline that bridged versions 0.3 and 0.4, which introduced two new gods and left a definite mark on the game's history.
    • City of Heroes flirts with this from time to time. While some villain groups have seen sufficient progress (especially the Fifth Column's eventual destruction and reformation into the Council), many fans have wondered just * how* many times, say, Countess Crey has to get arrested for murdering the original Countess Crey and taking her place for it to stick. The game never offers a reason why she's said to be in jail at the end of the story arc, but gamewise, her company and her persona are still just as effectively evil as ever.
    • City of Villains players know that there is no placating Blue Steel, no matter how hard they try.
    • Tabula Rasa was a bit of an exception - for example, there were bases which were constantly changing ownership as each of the opposing sides stormed to take it back. This did have some effects on gameplay, though they weren't so huge (when the base wasn't yours you couldn't use it's teleporter or shops and you also lost access to the mission givers there, so sometimes you had to mount an attack on enemy position just to get a quest if you were unlucky). TR never grown as much as Richard Garriot intended, so we might have seen more examples of this if they didn't discontinue it. And also, to an extent, the original Ultima Online allowed players to build their own houses and in some cases whole cities (on some shards). One such shard was meant as a fairly realistic world, so it had complicated population replenishment, even migration and such and just as the official real economy (just like EVE Online above).
    • RuneScape averts this, as several quests feature prominent nonplayer characters dying and leaving new characters to take their place. Additionally, one quest requires the player to steal several public statues for a garden, after the quest these now empty statue plinths remain permanently unoccupied.
      • Runescape has delved into some very dark territory in a recent story arc that utterly shatters a status quo that's been held for about 12 years. As of the middle of 2013, a battlefield appeared in the town of Lumbridge that has heavily damaged the surrounding countryside, greatly changing an area that was otherwise altered fairly little since the game first went live.
    • World of Warcraft jumped up and down averting this trope (at least partially) in the Cataclysm expansion which completely remade the original zones (though not those of the other expansions) as well as heavy use of phasing technology to allow players' actions to cause changes to the world, if only for themselves.
    • Guild Wars and its various expansions stuck to this for a long period until the introduction of Guild Wars: Beyond. The storylines introduced continued where the original Prophecies and Factions campaigns left off, resulting in entire zones being populated with new and more dangerous enemies.
    • Guild Wars 2 made small modifications to the landscape during its first season of Living World content, but none that really broke status quo. This changed with the Battle of Lion's Arch, where the main Hub City was devastated.
    • Final Fantasy XIV had several cities and landscapes change drastically after the Calamity nearly destroyed Eorzea. The changes are reflected in A Realm Reborn (2.0) where some towns never recovered, ancient monsters that were in slumber were now awoken, and certain parts of the landscape in the far north are inaccessible due to avalanches blocking the paths.
  • The RPG Betrayal at Krondor is all about the effort of a certain dark elf to bring peace to his race and put an end to hostile relations between humans and dark elves that have been going on forever. The game is based on The Riftwar Cycle and its plot was canonised in a novelisation. Two hundred years later in the series, nothing much has changed about the dark elves.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Similarly, the Status Quo is enforced by a God in the Zelda series as established by The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Every time Link and Zelda reincarnate, Ganon, or another evil with Demise's 'blin army, will reincarnate to threaten them at least once. Which is a weird sort of anticipatory revenge since the evil force always manifests as someone at least a generation older than they are.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    • No matter what Dr. Eggman uses to conquer the world with (or if the powerful artifact/monster backfires), Sonic will always defeat the mad scientist and save the world while sporting a cocky attitude, only for Dr. Eggman to try again next week.
    • Sonic Adventure had some character development for Tails (who decides to do things on his own now instead of relying on Sonic all of the time) and Amy (who says that she's "going to make that Sonic respect me!" instead of just following him around everywhere like a crazed fangirl) that was conveniently absent come Sonic Adventure 2.
  • 99% of Castlevania games have Dracula as the final boss. 98.9% of them have this, WITH the second last boss as Death as well.
    • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has both (as you fight Dracula and Death at the same time; you can have two characters, so why shouldn't they as well?), which is at best a minor subversion.
  • Touhou: Major events happen an average of once a year in Gensoukyou, but nothing major has changed, beyond the introduction of some new factions... there's been a lot of minor changes, and the world currently looks fairly different than it did at the start. But the basic status quo of a broke miko defending the lone human village in a land of youkai hasn't changed, and is unlikely to.
  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy has a rare in-universe case of this. The heroes and villains have been waging war in the name of their gods for a while now, but every time one side comes within reach of winning, Shinryu resets everything back the way it used to be, starting the war over again. This is because Shinryu made a deal with Cid, aka the Narrator, that he would keep the war going forever in a "Groundhog Day" Loop in order to temper Chaos into the ultimate force of destruction. In this case, God is in fact, keeping the status quo!
  • Tekken - Averted. As of the sixth game, the storyline spans three decades and it shows. Technology evolves, characters age, return or not, and some are outright Killed Off for Real.
  • The Warcraft universe averts. With every game and addon the political and geographical landscape gets severely altered, with new factions arising as fast as others get obliterated and cities and worlds are taken off the map.
  • Crysis features C.E.L.L, a group of Obviously Evil Private Military Contractors responsible for gunning down the innocent New York plague victims they were supposed to be protecting. By the end of the second game they have been thoroughly crushed by the player character, the aliens, and the US Marine forces, with both their field commander and their CEO dead and their remaining shareholders on trail for war crimes. Their main base of operations has had its Self-Destruct Mechanism pushed, and all their remaining hardware has been commandeered by the Marines. So they're out of the picture for good, right? Nope. They're fully operational 20 years later in Crysis 3, having suffered no penalty from the government and with more than enough resources to attempt a Take Over the World plot.
  • In I Miss the Sunrise, many of your crewmates' final personal scenes are built up to seem like they will be making major changes to themselves or the world, but these plans are always prevented or shut down for various reasons. Some characters' subplots do get proper resolutions in the ending, though.
  • Redmond and Blumont's endless bickering over gravel in Team Fortress 2 ensured that there would be endless reasons for the RED and BLU teams to fight each other. At least until their long-lost brother, Grey, killed them both and sent an army of killer robots after the mercenaries, forcing them to team up.
    • And yet EVEN IN DEATH, these two are still bickering about who won their competition, even forcing their mercs to fight to send the opposite brother down to hell before the opposite team can do the same
  • The main reason for Penelope's rather poorly-done Face–Heel Turn in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time was to return the Cooper Gang to it's three-man dynamic. The equally useless Dmitri fared a bit better: he got to be mission control in the present day.
  • This trope is cruelly exploited in Shin Megami Tensei IV with Jonathan. The societies of Mikado and Tokyo are tremendously different, to the point he vigorously denies there's any opportunity for coexistence (to be fair, a bucolic, pastoral kingdom and a modern society don't have very much in common besides some issues with demons). The Archangels reveal to him the status quo is in the verge of a complete breakdown, and that Mikado will be engulfed in Tokyo's chaos unless the "complete extermination" option is used, to make him enter martyrdom to summon Merkabah.
  • After the end of the Trepasser D Lc for Dragon Age: Inquisition, no matter who you choose as the next Divine, The Circles are back.
  • Final Fantasy X has the trope used as a plot point. The world of Spira is always under the constant threat of the gigantic monster Sin, that destroys everything it comes across. Summoners, who are the followers of the Yevon religion, go on pilgrimages so that they can obtain the final aeon and use it to kill Sin while sacrificing their lives in the process. This brings out a period known as the Calm where people can live in peace for a while (the current one is a record ten years) until Sin is reborn and the cycle starts all over again. The cycle has gone on for so long (a thousand years to be exact!) that nobody questions it. When the main character, Tidus, starts questioning everything and the teachings of Yevon, that's when everyone starts to wonder why things never change and they vow to actually change the status quo once and for all. Yevon doesn't like people questioning them and threatening the status quo (Yevon ruled all of Spira for a thousand years are aren't going to let that go anytime soon), so they brand the main characters as traitors that are sentenced to death. The party does find a way to defeat Sin once and for all while also exposing the lies that Yevon had upheld for a thousand years.

    Web Comics 
  • Averted in Schlock Mercenary, where the company's fortunes have shifted up and down, their having gone through multiple ships, and having lost and gained secondary characters on many occasions. On the other hand, they remain essentially the same mid-sized mercenary company, despite their intermittent involvement in galactic politics and engineering megaprojects on the same scale.
  • Sexy Losers had a rule, declared early on by its creator in his annotations: "Everyone is locked into their sexual perversion of choice." This meant, unfortunately, that his characters had little wiggle room — the storyline quickly "The Seduction of Madame X" cuts off; by the 17th time he's recycling jokes. Eventually, the series came to an abrupt halt, which may have been the writer realizing he was out of things he could do with the characters without breaking his rule.
  • Ménage à 3 looked like an example of this trope, with (among other things) Gary the geeky virgin, who never even had a girlfriend, being repeatedly sexually frustrated. But then, Gary got laid (despite the increasingly clear evidence that his problem wasn't being in this comic, it was being Gary), various other characters lost their supposed "Karma Houdini" statuses or underwent character development, and the story sailed on regardless. It wasn't so much that the trope was subverted as that the writers turned out to be playing a long game.
  • Treading Ground: In 2003, strip #6 establishes the main plot: Rose has the hots for Nate, but the 21-year-old guy doesn't want to have sex with the 16 year-old-girl until she's of legal age. After eight years (about one year in Comic-Book Time), in which both characters have plenty of sex (just not with each other), they finally realise they are victims of SoCalization; 16 is legal age in their state. So in 2011, strip #251 concludes the series with them holding hands... And still not having had sex together yet.
  • Insecticomics goes out of its way to show that it won't do this, particularly in the areas of Thrust's change to female and the disbanding of the Brigade.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Bob's roof will always, somehow, get repaired after having been destroyed earlier in the story. Lampshaded by the fact that it is unapologetically a Running Gag.
  • The cast of Sore Thumbs was missing Cecania's special ability to sell games when she went off to Romania, so Harmony got a ridiculous boob job. Once they brought Cecania back, Harmony had them removed.
  • Lampshaded and averted in PvP when Robbie wins the lottery.
    Cole: Trust me, Robbie is going to walk through that door and inform us that everything has returned to the status quo.
    * beat*
    Cole: Any minute now...
  • Played straight with Welcome to the Convenience Store. There isn't a story-line.
  • Bob and George: X gets George to help restore it.
  • Mocked in this Men in Hats strip.
  • Sonichu often does this.

    Web Original 
  • At the end of the Angry Video Game Nerd Christmas Carol, the Nerd decides to only play good games after what he saw of the future... and not ten seconds later, decides to keep on playing shitty games.
  • The end of H2K9.
  • GoAnimate: The troublemakers in the "X Gets Grounded" videos never stop doing things that will inevitably ground them, even if they receive more than one Punishment Day.
  • James of TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life holds this belief. For the most part, he's wrong.
  • Completely averted, and possibly subverted, in the Whateley Universe. While it is played with using Jade, by later in the series, Don Sebastaino of the Alphas is in the hospital, Tansy is running the Alphas, and Jade now has breasts and gender reconstructive surgery that works!
  • Utterly and thoroughly averted in Worm. Over the course of the narrative, the main character goes from being a scared, bullied teenager, to a superpowered warlord running half the city, to a superhero, just like she always wanted to be, to ... well, just read the story.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Movie plays with this trope, the characters mention how many powerful cards they have that they will never use again, and how they will never mention the events that happened in the film again.
  • Plumbing the Death Star: One of the reasons Duscher can get away with picking Soapland Christmas (now merged into Twisted Christmas) in "Exploiting Television Tropes for Financial and Personal Gain" is by pointing out because the writers will want to get back to a comfortable status quo by the next season, so they'll just write him out of whatever trouble he finds during his holiday horrors.

    Western Animation 
  • Rugrats played this trope several times. In the episode "Angelica's Birthday", Angelica supposedly turns 4. However, in the later "Pickles Vs. Pickles" episode, it's said by her parents (Drew and Charlotte) that she's still 3. Similarly, in the episode "The Baby Vanishes," Drew finally admits that Angelica's a spoiled brat and begins taking measures to do something about it. However, in the following(!) episode "When Wishes Come True," Angelica's back to being her daddy's pride and joy.
  • For the most part, this was played straight in Rocko's Modern Life. In fact, it was a policy for all of the Nicktoons of The '90s. But then the creators wanted Filburt and Dr. Hutchison to get married, and to do that, they had to fight with the higher-ups. Eventually, they relented, and Filburt and Dr. Hutchison get engaged in "The Big Question", and actually married in "The Big Answer." They also have Babies Ever After. It was the first Nicktoon to subvert the status quo.
  • The above notwithstanding, the first crop of Nicktoons were among the first American cartoons to avert this. Doug gets to graduate, Chuckie is potty-trained and stays potty-trained, Filbert and Dr. Hutchinson go steady, get married and have children and Ren and Stimpy dispenses with a Status Quo altogether.
  • 6teen: Jonesy gets a new job at the start of every episode and loses it at the end.
  • The Transformers series was like this for the first two seasons. Then The Movie came out in 1986. Once season three starts we have an all new cast, with the original characters making cameos, and the Quintessons are introduced. About the only thing that snaps back is Optimus Prime coming back to life and returning to his job as leader of the Autobots at the end of the third season. Bumblebee becomes a more prominent character during the season finale when Prime comes back, but it's as Goldbug, an upgraded form he needed after taking heavy damage fighting a berserk Superion, as well as to shill the new Goldbug toy, because the series, after all, was Merchandise-Driven.
    • Played straight in the comics, where while editorial fiat forced Simon Furman and other writers to make many of the same changes, many of them were undone by later writers or as soon as the editors stopped caring. Bumblebee's change into the more powerful, intimidating, and overall more adult-seeming Goldbug was just one such example when he was heavily damaged and required rebuilding, and Ratchet simply chose to rebuild him back in his original Bumblebee appearance. When the outraged patient demanded to know why this had been done without his permission and against his wishes, Ratchet merely shrugged and answered "Call it personal preference, but I always preferred your original form." In this particular case, however, it was also because Bumblebee's original form had a new toy out.
  • Transformers Prime has been criticized for this, killing off characters such as Breakdown and Dreadwing, putting Airachnid into stasis, returning rogue Starscream back to his previous position, eliminating the "third faction", MECH entirely, putting most MacGuffins into storage without being used, and undoing such game changers as the Star Saber and New Kaon/Darkmount, a fact acknowledged by the writers.
  • Code Lyoko does this with the Reset Button. Until the fact that XANA becomes more powerful with each Return to the Past was revealed, every episode ended with everybody on the verge of death when the time warp wiped the problems away.
    • Unfortunately, the story also starts falling into a larger sort of status quo as it develops, one so immutable that it allowed fans to start predicting the outcome of the show's cliffhangers in advance. No matter how many times characters like Sissi and Jim prove their usefulness, they'll never be exempt from the Masquerade. There will never be more Lyoko warriors than the four main cast members (the one who seems to join ends up becoming evil), and Franz Hopper will never be devirtualized. This trope's prevalence as the show went on was only made all the more frustrating by the official website offering fan polls on things like "which supporting character should become a Lyoko warrior".
  • Dexter's Laboratory
    • A harsh one of this was the original Grand Finale of the series, "Last But Not Beast". Dexter and his family had fully united to destroy the beast that Dexter accidentally awoke from its slumber and everyone was happy. However, Dad remembers about Dexter's titular lab and Dexter's quick to remove that information from both Mom and Dad, even making them forget the fact that they saved the world together! When Monkey's mask is torn off and Dexter discovers his identity, Monkey uses the gun to remove everything from that point from his mind, allowing Mandark to declare that he had destroyed the monster, leaving a despondent Dexter to bemoan that he should have destroyed it. Dee-Dee, the only member of the family that remembers the fight, waves goodbye to the audience as the (original run of the) show comes to a close.
  • The Dragon Hunters, like the Get Backers, never do lasting profits, despite all of Gwizdo's schemes toward this end. Sometimes they do get to fly home with the reward money, but by the start of next episode they will invariably be broke.
  • DuckTales — and, in fact, any other appearance of Scrooge McDuck — is oddly obsessive about this trope, even to the extent of Scrooge very rarely managing to walk home with the treasure he's seeking. Do they really think that an extra million or so dollars would have any effect on the lifestyle of a man with five multiplujillion, nine impossibidillion, seven fantasticatrillion dollars and ten cents?
    • The comics that DuckTales is based on are even worse, and that extends to comics that don't feature Scrooge at all. This is understandable, since there are probably hundreds of artists in many different countries making the comics, and most of them ignore the other artists. Depending on the Writer, the stories may instead have Negative Continuity.
    • Most writers will callback to previous stories they created but will ignore the ones made by others so as not to mess with anyone's long-term story plans. The exception is Don Rosa, who considers all Carl Barks stories canon to his own universe and has written several sequels to Barks tales.
  • Family Guy
    • In "He’s Too Sexy for His Fat", Peter gets plastic surgery, resulting in a fit, handsome guy. This being Family Guy, the episode ended with him falling into a vat of lard and becoming fat again. Even worse was the episode where Lois gains a lot of weight after Peter's vasectomy. In the end she has quickie liposuction and surgery and ends up looking exactly as though she had never gained the weight at all. Peter in his episode lampshades the trope by proudly stating he didn't learn his lesson.note 
    • But things change on occasion: Peter lost his job at the toy factory permanently (at the end of the episode, they point out how odd it is that the status quo has not been restored), became a fisherman, had his boat sunk, and finally settled into his brewery job. Cleveland and Loretta separated and stayed that way. Bonnie finally had her kid, with whom she had been pregnant with for over six seasons. Also, characters are Killed Off for Real such as Muriel Goldman, Johnny and Vern, Francis Griffin, and Diane Simmons; any returns are from their ghosts.
    • Later seasons have subverted this, with Brian's lasting relationship with Jillian (Okay, they broke up in the end, but they were together for about a season's worth of episodes.)
    • This trope is occasionally lampshaded. Peter once told Bonnie "You've been pregnant for five or six years, either have the baby or don't." Also, Lois got fired from FOX News. Why? Who gives a damn, the episode is over and everything is back the way it always is (her words, more or less).
      Lois: I'm glad everything's back to normal. I guess I just wasn't cut out to be a news reporter.
      Peter: Yeah, how did you lose your job anyway, Lois?
      Lois: Ah, I don't know, Peter. Do you really care? Does anyone really care?
      Peter: I guess you're right. The story's over, everything's back to normal 'til next week, so who gives a damn? Anyone got anything funny left to say? Stewie? Brian? Meg? Chris? No? Alright then. (to the camera) See you next week, folks!
    • There was also the time Peter was declared legally retarded. Lois, who he burned earlier, comes back with no damage done, though she will smell like fries for weeks. Also in the episode where Peter's father-in-law goes bankrupt. His wife, who has married Ted Turner, divorces him for no good reason. The episode ends with her coming back to Carter after divorcing Turner and taking half his assets, restoring their fortune.
    • References are made to some recurring themes. For example, when the Griffins are on the run and they end up in Texas. Peter mentions that he is "legally retarded".
    • How many times has Joe regained the use of his legs only to lose them again at the end of the episode? Played especially darkly in one episode. Joe gets his legs permanently fixed and start being too aggressive and active for his more sedentary buddies to keep up with to the point where he's disgusted with them. They decide they want the old Joe back so they break his back again to put him back in the chair.
    • Played extremely straight in "Seahorse Seashell Party" that has a bit of a Broken Base. After season upon season of abuse, Meg FINALLY stands up to her family and points out just what horrible people they are. She calls out Lois for being a drug-addicted whore who's done nothing but take out her own frustration on Meg and how once she's 18, she never wants to see her again. She calls Peter out for being a fat disgusting waste who doesn't care about anyone but himself. She lays into them so hard that the entire family turns against each other. Later on, Meg is talking to Brian and she realizes that the family can't function without Meg there to be the emotional and physical punching bag so they don't end up killing each other. In the end, the status quo is maintained, and Meg is still the Butt-Monkey.
    • Similarly, in "Baby Not On Board," Lois snaps and yells at Peter for constantly getting distracted from what she asks him to do and tells him just how stupid he can be. Peter retorts with passive-aggressiveness about how he is flawed and that's just who he is (by repeating John Candy's speech in Planes, Trains and Automobiles nearly verbatim). Lois just takes it at face value, apologizes, and Peter is back to his usual antics.
    • The trope gets lampshaded by Brain in part 1 of "Stewie Kills Lois". After Stewie complains about Lois leaving him for a cruise and how he would do bad things to her, Brain points out that Stewie will just bitch, cry for his mommy, hug her when she comes home, have apple juice, poop, and then fall asleep. Stewie realizes Brian is right and tries to fight against the status quo, but it is maintained in the end anyway.
    • Lampshaded again in another episode where Peter brings home a cutout of Kathy Ireland and starts his usual shenanigans by thinking the cutout is a real woman. Lois just shrugs her shoulder and says "I'm gonna let this one run its course", knowing that the antics will eventually stop.
    • Played straight again in Season 12, where Brian gets killed off in an incredibly drawn-out sequence of reactions, even getting Tony Sirico from The Sopranos to voice a replacement talking dog. Two episodes later, though...
  • Sister series American Dad! lampshades this trope several times, mostly hinging on Stan never learning his lesson. Among such lampshades include Stan saying that lying is "basically my whole bit," and explicitly saying that he's never learned his lesson all the other times it's blown up in his face.
    • Additionally, in "American Stepdad", when Stan and Roger share an unusually close moment:
    • Though some things do change, Stan's become gradually less conservative as the series as gone on (to the point he not only accepted his gay neighbors, he tried to get Terry's homophobic dad to accept him), Steve's also gradually becoming less of a nerd, and finally got a first kiss after constant Yank the Dog's Chain.
  • Bob's Burgers
    • Tina, like Meg, is the show's Butt-Monkey and a large source of humor stems from her loneliness. One episode ends with Tina finally meeting a boy who shows some romantic interest in her, so naturally, he's neither seen nor mentioned again by the time the next episode begins.
    • The show runs on the Perpetual Poverty trope, so any episode that involves the financial betterment of the family will inevitably lead to a Downer Ending. One episode has the family buying a food truck and finding great success with it...only for it to be destroyed at the end. Another has them entering a game show in order to win a new car, only to lose in the final round after having dominated the show earlier. In newer episode, its more common for Bob HIMSELF to sabotage any advances he makes, as he's obsessed with becoming successful entirely by the merit of his food, with no help from gimmicks or promotions like his hated rival Jimmy Pesto (who's a horrible cook but a successfull restaurant owner). This gets to the point where Bob returns a 100.000$ investment given to him by his old childhood friend because said friend wanted to give the restaurant a Tiki theme. However, unlike the earlier seasons, Bob has a string of minor, temporary advances such as getting public acknowledgement from a celebrity chef who loved his food.
  • Futurama
    • The trope is lampshaded, deconstructed, and parodied in the episode "When Aliens Attack". When the main cast is forced to reshoot the finale of Single Female Lawyer to prevent an alien invasion, Leela (as the titular character) decides to propose marriage. Fry is angry, as he states that you don't do that on television because people only watch TV because of this very trope. Right on cue, this angers the aliens, who proceed with their invasion until Fry improvises an ending that would result in her character remaining single, placating the aliens. (The fact that real-life shows often destroy the status quo during the finale is ignored). The aliens are satisfied with this ending, and leave peacefully. With everything back to normal, Fry has a short monologue (serving as a Spoof Aesop) about how things should always go back to normal at the end of an episode. The Camera then cuts to a devastated New New York, most of it having been destroyed during the episode. The status quo is restored by the next episode, so it's a Double Subversion.
    • After the end of the series and Bender's Big Score changed things somewhat, fans have taken to accusing The Beast With A Billion Backs of needlessly bowing to this trope.
    • Bender's Big Score may have parodied it during its opening roll call, when we see Amy with much longer hair. Bender accidentally burns it off an instant later, leaving her with her hairstyle from the series.
    • The trope is subverted in "The Beast with a Billion Backs". Kif breaks up with Amy after she cheats on him, and they stay separated until the end of "Into The Wild Green Yonder".
    • Subverted again (and crossed with Crowning Moment of Heartwarming) in "Into The Wild Green Yonder". After ignoring Fry's love for her, Leela realises that she feels the same way, and they share their first romantic kiss.
    • Then played straight (to the point of parody) in the opening episode of season six, going to great (and circuitous!) lengths to restore the status quo. Seems Fry and Leela are still together though.
  • South Park
    • Season 15 did this. After the Drama Bomb episode, "You're Getting Old", it looked like there was going to be some sort of change in terms of the boys' relationships (Mainly in Stan's cynicism is affecting his life). Kyle and Stan have a falling out, Kyle and Cartman are shown being together of their own volition and getting along. The episode ends with Randy and Sharonnote  separating and moving from the Marsh family home into an apartment. When the next episode, "Ass Burgers", features a Snap Back, this is invoked in end. As just Stan is about to embrace the new changes, the status quo comes back with Randy & Sharon getting back together off-screen, Kyle & Cartman bickering once again, and Stan going back to the life he once had, though he now secretly drinks to keep off his cynical levels. Sharon even says that sometimes it's best to stick with what you know.
    Sharon: "It’s like the same shit just happens over and over, then in a week it just all resets until it happens again. Every week it’s kind of the same story in a different way, but it just keeps getting more and more ridiculous."
    • Episode "Tsst" has Cartman's mom go to extreme lengths to get him to behave. When she finally succeeds, Cartman's mom is ecstatic that Cartman is a well behaved boy, but once she finds out that the person who helped her left her because he has other clients to tend to, she completely undoes all the changes by spoiling Cartman so that she won't feel like she is alone. However, she does start disciplining him more often.
    • The first time, in the episode "Mecha Streisand", a reporter appears, saying that the town had managed to rebuild itself "just weeks after the devastating attack of mutant genetic creatures, zombies, and Thanksgiving turkeys". Then Mecha Streisand shows up and begins to wreck the town, prompting a "not again" comment from the reporter.
      • Another episode has a reporter describing South Park as "a sleepy mountain town where nothing ever happens" followed by a faster and quieter line "except the occasional destruction of the entire town".
    • The second time, in "201", after the main events of the plot is resolved, the mayor announces, "Alright, people, let's start rebuilding our town! ...for the 39th time."
    • A straight example happens when it is discovered that the City Wok owner is the psychotic, murderous Caucasian Dr. Janus. Since he's the only Asian restaurant owner left in town after the Japanese sushi chef whom he harassed killed himself after this reveal, the police lets him go.
    • Kenny. No matter how many times he gets killed off, he'll always be okay in the next episode. Justified. He literally cannot die permanently. Every time he's killed, he wakes up the next day in his bed and all of his friends have forgotten about his demise.
  • Gargoyles
    • Averted for the most part. Eliza's brother becomes a Mutate for instance and remains that way, a process that takes place over several episodes; later episodes deal with Talon's impromptu clan and responsibilities. Broadway shoots Eliza by accident and develops a series-long hatred for firearms. The eventual reveal of the Gargoyles to the world at large springs the Quarrymen into the forefront. And so on.
    • You can count Xanatos' evolution from simple adversary to husband/father/friend, Angela and Goliath's relationship as daughter and father, Matt Bluestone's raise from conspiracy-nut friend-kept-in-the-dark to Properly Paranoid Illuminati member and trusted insider, the evolution of several of the villains with their backstory, Demona alone...
    • However, the trope is invoked a bit with the universe's rules of time travel and the Phoenix Gate: to wit, everything that has happened will happen, and if characters are placed in a position to change the backstory, they will not succeed.
  • Goof Troop featured an episode where Goofy was elected mayor of the city, but curiously that never came up again.
  • No matter how many times Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible learns to use Mystical Monkey Power Kung Fu, learn to deal with his fears of monkeys and Camp Wannaweep or has become special for just anything, he will revert back to his status quo in the end of the episode or before the next. He did stay on the football team, leaving his mascot days behind. And he kept dating Kim. And kept his job. All which took place in the Post-Script Season...
  • Moral Orel presents a possible subversion. It took ten episodes (out of the third season's 13) before we saw anything of the aftermath of the major events of the second season's finale, "Nature", where Cheerful Child Orel calls out his father. However, the reason for this is because all those episodes take place before and/or during "Nature".
  • The Powerpuff Girls has this all the time.
    • In one episode, the girls travel so fast that they are warped to the future, where for 30 years evil has reigned. Out of complete stress and confusion, they try to escape from it all by traveling so fast they warp back to the present time, thus achieving Status Quo. This, like the Superman example above, was more or less why the Powerpuff Girls never take a vacation - as they're now too paranoid to leave the city for even a few days, lest the entire city fall to evil.
    • Oh yeah, whenever the city is in ruins, its back to normal the next episode. Few things remain destroyed, an example being a bridge in a nearby city.
    • Buttercup is given anger management in "Makes Zen To Me", and goes right back to her perpetually-angry self by the next episode.
    • At the end of "Ice Sore", Blossom claims her new ice-breathing powers disappeared, but in some other episodes after this one, they apparently came back.
  • The Simpsons, with a few exceptions.
    • This pretty much happens anytime there's a major change to the main cast. Did Bart become more intelligent or active in his school work for a time? He'll be back to the lazy Book Dumb boy causing mischief for giggles. Did Lisa suddenly gain popularity? She'll be back to being unpopular by the end of the episode.
    • Played with in some of the few episodes which avert this trope; many of them feature endings that make it seem like the status quo will once again be restored, only to change it up on the viewer at the last second. The classic example is "A Milhouse Divided"; the episode ends with Kirk singing a romantic song for Luann in a last-ditch attempt to win her back. It looks like we're in for a heartwarming reunion, until Kirk asks her to come back to him and she replies "Oh God no!" They DID eventually get back together, but that was ten seasons later.
    • When Lisa became a vegetarian, she stayed a vegetarian. (Only because Paul McCartney wouldn't do the show otherwise.) She also remained a Buddhist after converting in "She of Little Faith".
    • Also when Maude Flanders died, she stayed dead, since her voice actor had left the show.
    • Principal Skinner and Edna Krabappel have had an on-and-off relationship since season 8. 12 seasons later, Edna married Ned Flanders. This lasted until Edna's death two seasons afterwards.
    • Apu got married in season 9; in season 13 he cheated, and ever since then every appearance by him or his wife references it, usually by having them act frustrated or angry at one another.
    • Sometimes the status quo changes gradually — for example, Lenny and Carl have replaced Barney as Homer's best friend. However, they just hang out with him for kicks. This is made evident in the same episode where Barney decides to be sober.
    • Speaking of Barney, he stopped drinking in the eleventh season episode "Days of Wine and D'oheses" and remained a sober, clean-cut compulsive coffee drinker after the end of the episode and for several seasons. Like the Luanne and Kirk example, he reverted to his original state in season fourteen's "I'm Spelling As Fast as I Can". Later on he would have fewer roles, aside from being passed out on the ground.
    • Lampshaded in the show itself in the infamous episode "The Principal and the Pauper". To those who don't know, Principal Skinner is revealed to be a person named Armin Tamzarian when the Real Seymour Skinner appears out of nowhere. At the end of the episode, he's tied to a train and is never heard from again and the judge rules that no one is to speak of this or else they'll be subjected to torture. This is later followed by an episode where Snowball 2 gets run over and replaced. Twice. Both replacements die, and a cat that looks exactly the same is given to Lisa by the Cat Lady.
    Lisa: Snowball 5! But to save getting a new dish, we will call you Snowball 2 and pretend the whole thing never happened.
    Skinner: That's awfully cheap Lisa.
    Lisa: You're right, Principal Tamzarian.
    • At the end of "C.E.D'oh", Homer has his "305th Everything Is Back to Normal BBQ." This was the 306th episode; this only accounts for one change to that point.
    • Other lampshades pop up with the page quote, another from Principal Skinner ("Well I guess we all learned something important today... there's no thing like the status quo!") and a season 22 episode, that ends with Marge (after once again failing to get a social life outside of the house) reading a book called "The Joy of the Status Quo".
    • The situation used to replace Snowball 2 with an identical-but-different cat is also applied to Fat Tony in another episode. Fat Tony dies from a heart attack while Homer is working as an undercover agent infiltrating his organization. Afterwards, we're introduced to "Fit Tony"; Fat Tony's identical-sounding cousin and a fitness buff. He decides to step in for his deceased cousin but while working as the mob don, he begins to fall out of shape and resemble Fat Tony. Eventually, he ends up being referred to as "Fat Tony", thus restoring the status quo despite the fact Fat Tony himself was Killed Off for Real.
    • The episode where Lisa and Bart are placed in the same third grade class. At the end of the episode, Bart and Lisa are given the choice to either stay in third grade or return to their respective classes. The characters start chanting for the status quo to be restored at the end.
    • There was even an episode where Lisa got to write an episode for a TV show. After making big sweeping changes that didn't go over too well, Homer tells her that the number one rule of television is that everything must go back to normal at the end of the episode.
    • A subtle lampshading: When informed that half his wages will be paid to Bart, who's just been emancipated, Homer protests, "Half already goes to my Vegas wife!" He references a major change in a past episode that has had no apparent effect on present episodes — the family's standard of living seems no lower than before.
  • Danny Phantom uses it some of the time, with the more notable instances being the end of "Reality Trip", where Danny mindwipes everyone except the people who knew prior to the start of the episode. For that matter, he bounced back unusually quickly from the extremely-intense encounter with his future self.
    • It actually averts in on occasion: from Jazz learning Danny's secret, ghosts becoming a recognized threat, Valerie remaining stuck in poverty, but growing as a human being, etc.
  • In Challenge of the Superfriends, every episode would end with the Legion of Doom incapacitated by the Superfriends. However, Lex Luthor always pulls out a device that turns whatever the Legion is sitting on into a spaceship, which flies away slowly while Superman and Green Lantern forget that they have superpowers (a common occurrence on this show). Thus, the Legion always successfully escapes so they can come up with another evil plan for the next episode. In one episode, all of the Super Friends die one by one — but in the end, it turns out that they were merely their android duplicates and they were all alive and well.
  • King of the Hill
    • Hank Hill is never going to be a manager. The one time he did become a manager he managed to blow it... in 10 freaking seconds (and it wasn't even near the end of the episode).
    • Also Bill is never going to have a lasting relationship, it always goes wrong or he messes up.
    • Strangely, what with the above examples, there was a bit of continuity. In one episode Peggy and Dale end up blowing Hank's shed up (long story), 8 episodes later in Death Picks Cotton Hank's busy rebuilding it. When he finally does finish it in the end of the episode Dale destroys it again which was Cotton's dying wish.
    • Any episode that shows Bobby doing something or having an interest in something which Hank freaks out, worrying what Bobby is doing is not manly enough in his eyes. By the episode's end, Bobby either stops having interest in whatever caught his attention or Hank begrudgingly accepts what Bobby wants, then the show repeats the scenario again in a future episode.
    • It works with several changes that some episodes introduced that should have been permanent (or at least long-lasting) but were never addressed again: Bobby develops a dog allergy in one episode that, by the end of the episode, he manages to get under control with pills which are never brought up again. Hank's ass deficiency, requiring implants lest he suffer back problems, disappeared. When the doctor told Dale he had to give up using inorganic pesticides or risk poisoning himself, that stuck only for an episode. When Ladybird became moody and aggressive due to deafness in her old age, that disappeared after an episode as well. For a series that generally sticks to realism, these points stand out more than other appearances of this trope in that series.
    • The show also Zig Zags often. There are often a few episodes in which a new character is introduced, or some big change happens in someone's life such as Bill or Bobby getting in a romance, yet a lot of the time they seem to vanish the next episode with little to no justification. Despite this, there were plenty of aversions in which a continuity was established. (Joseph entering puberty, Bobby and Connie's relationship ending, Nancy ending her affair with John Redcorn, Luanne meeting Lucky).
  • Lampshaded in The Boondocks episode "The Lovely Ebony Brown", when Robert Freeman is breaking up with his latest girlfriend:
    Ebony Brown: "Robert, you'll be fine. Next week you'll have some crazy adventure with another woman. You won't even remember this little episode."
  • Samurai Jack is on a constant quest to find a way to time-travel back to the past and destroy his arch nemesis Aku. However he never gets any closer to his goal; with every time portal getting destroyed or falling out of his reach, and Aku surviving every encounter with him. Lampshaded by Aku himself in "Jack vs. Aku", who sees his ongoing battle with Jack as more a game than a life's goal as Jack does, a game that has gotten long and tedious to him.
    • This gets deconstructed pretty hard by the fifth season, with Jack's constant failures at trying to save the world over several decades later driving him to madness and despair. Even Aku is depressed by their stalemate, due to years of failing to kill Jack (and discovering that he inadvertently made Jack immortal), so he no longer even bothers trying and just stays holed up in his lair, pretending that he no longer cares about the samurai. Events conspire to finally get them both out of their funk and bring them to their final showdown in the form of Ashi, who becomes Jack's Love Interest and is, to everyone's surprise including her own, Aku's biological daughter.
  • Phineas and Ferb
    • This trope is turned Up to Eleven in every episode. No matter what nigh-impossible project the boys create, it will always disappear within a matter of seconds as a result of Perry and Doofenshmirtz. Like every other trope that the show revolves around, it's been lampshaded. Some of the characters now believe there's a mysterious sentient force protecting them (which is technically true).
    • The status quo gets shaken up something fierce in The Movie, with the cast learning about Perry being a secret agent. They end up voluntarily pushing the Reset Button at the end, and no one but the OWCA remembers the events of the film. To be fair, Major Monogram let them choose whether or not to keep the new status quo, but since that meant Perry would have to leave them, they decided it wasn't worth it.
    • In "Happy Birthday, Isabella", this trope is actually averted, by having Stacy find out about Perry's secret identity and not lose her memory of the knowledge.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy usually has the Eds failing at the end of every episode either with their scams, pranks, or bouts with the Kanker sisters, and has the kids of the neighborhood celebrating their endless demise.
    • Subverted in the movie where the kids give up trying to get the Eds for their WORST SCAM EVER to save them from Eddy's brother's torment because it was far worse than anything they could think of doing.
    • Edd both fourth walls and lampshades it at the end of the movie with his line about how it's only taken them the entire run of the series, four specials, and said movie to finally be accepted.
  • X-Men: Evolution:
    • In episode 2x22, "Joyride", Lance Alvers (Avalanche) joins up with the X-Men in the hopes of winning the affections of Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat), who he's been hitting on the entire series. Cyclops blames him for a few infractions the other New Mutants actually committed, and said New Mutants confess, causing Cyclops to finally accept him, Shadowcat to show him the love he's wanted the whole series, and the rest of the X-Men to respect him. He then decides that he's quitting due to his annoyance with being Reformed, but Rejected and returning to the Brotherhood, saying they're easier to live with, even though he had EVERYTHING HE WANTED.
    • There's an aversion at the end of Season 2 where the existence of mutants is revealed to the world, changing the way the characters are perceived forever.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Timmy will always wish things back to normal at the end of every episode.
    • A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! uses and subverts this in a few ways. He uses this as a loophole to keep his fairies, act like a child and refuse to grow up (not even leaving the 4th grade, or his parents home) but when he does finally Timmy is given an exemption clause that lets him keep Cosmo, Wanda and Poof as his fairies even as an adult.
    • One of the main criticisms people have with the show is its fetish for this trope, especially surrounding Vicky. It didn't help that her personality became much, much worse after Poof was born (to the point where she tries to murder Timmy in the newer episodes.)
  • Teen Titans: Oh God, every single episode that was not a part of the story arc (Like Robin becoming Slade's apprentice, the whole Terra storyline, Cyborg with Brother Blood, Raven with the prophecy of ending the world, and all of Season 5, which focused on the Brotherhood of Evil and a lot of characters we have never heard of before unless we read the original comics). Even with Terra, after the Titans were convinced to let her become a member of the Titans, she only made a split-second appearance in the next episode. The episode after that had to do with her though but of course the events of that episode restore status quo of the team. Most episodes of Teen Titans will always end where it began, but there are a few exceptions.
  • The first season of Avenger Penguins concluded with a two-parter, where Minion with an F in Evil Harry Slime made a Heel–Face Turn and his master Caractacus P Doom was blown away to Mars. The second season, however, had inexplicably back in their status quo.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes. The only change that has ever carried over from another episode is Beezy getting a girlfriend. Said girlfriend's been Out of Focus for the entire second season.
  • Dick Dastardly never wins a race and never catches Yankee Doodle Pigeon.
  • Both invoked and averted in The Clangers. In many episodes a creature or object arrives on the Clanger's planet, causes havoc and then either leaves or is sent back into space. When the Iron Chicken first appears, it seems as if she's also following this pattern. However, she makes appearances in later episodes and she also gives Tiny Clanger an egg which has effects in following episodesnote 
  • The Looney Tunes Show plays this for a quick laugh. Bugs and Daffy go to the mall and Bugs points out Daffy's "Mall Pants" but since he is technically supposed to be naked the mall pants are sucked off by the escalator before the opening credits run.
  • The Road Runner will never be caught.
    Boy 1: Sometimes I feel sorry for the Coyote. Sometimes I wish he'd catch him.
    Boy 2: If he caught him, there wouldn't be any more Road Runner. You wouldn't want that, would you?
    Boy 1: No.
    Boy 2: I thought you wouldn't.
  • The Legend of Zelda cartoon takes this to its logical extreme. Ganon and all his minions are magically tied to a giant jar type device. Every time they're defeated, they're just sent back to it for some undetermined (but obviously very short) period of time. It doesn't help that neither Ganon nor the heroes are competent enough to simply end the whole thing (in fact, Ganon's minions came the closest after they rebelled).
    • Link did destroy the jar once, but it was back for the next episode.
  • In Adventure Time this is why Billy, one of the greatest heroes of all time, wound up quitting heroism. He realized that despite all of his efforts, evil will never stop coming back. Finn and Jake are able to convince him out of it by making him realize that good will never stop coming back either.
    • In the episode "Jake The Dad", where Jake faces fatherhood with the born of his pups with Lady Rainicorn; Jake decides to stay in Lady's house, leaving Finn and Beemo. Later in the episode the pups get a Plot-Relevant Age-Up due to being Rainicorns and are now old enough to live on their own. Jake then returns to the tree house.
    • At the end of one episode, due to having to use some of her mass to solve the episode's conflict, Princess Bubblegum is reverted to a 13 year old. The very next episode she appears in, she finds a way to restore herself to her regular age. What WASN'T expected, though, was the fan community exploding in anger, an anger that didn't dissipate until Flame Princess' introduction.
    • A long running plot thread in the show was Finn somehow losing his arm. There were many hints that this would happen, with alternate versions of himself shown to have a prosthetic of some kind. The end of the season 6 premiere finally sees this come to pass, with Finn's arm being replaced by a flower. Four episodes later, Finn's arm is restored to normal.
    • The 2015 mini-series, "Stakes", features Marceline the Vampire Queen losing her vampire curse and powers. Of course, she has them back by the end of the arc, but she does sense that a change did in fact take place inside of her. The Arc Melody of the miniseries, "Everything Stays", can be interpreted as basically one huge lampshade of this trope, although a beautifully pulled off one.
  • In Time Squad, the entire reason for the Time Squad's existence is to preserve the Status Quo, not only for the show itself but also for the rest of history.
  • Arthur had an episode ("Pick a Car, Any Car") in which the family car stops working and his parents start looking for a new one. Arthur is upset because he doesn't want things to change, and it seems like that's going to be the lesson for the episode. But in the end Buster gets the bright idea of calling Car Talk, and they discover that the problem was that Kate had just jammed her rattle into the tailpipe. Not only does nothing change, nothing is learned, except maybe to call Car Talk if you're having problems your mechanic can't fix.
  • Mirta in general in Winx Club. Despite saving everyone's lives and transferring to Alfea at the end of the first season, she went back to being more of a background character that only got to talk and hang out with the main cast when they needed her for something (typically to guide them through Cloud Tower). As of Season 5, she is the only student from the Winx's three years of school that still attends Alfea, and she still wears the exact same outfit she wore in Season 1.
  • The Scooby-Doo series seems to run on this. But averted in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated where it usually took episodes for anything to get back to the way it was, and even then there were still traces of what happened that come back up. This also gave the series a much Darker and Edgier feel.
  • In the Turtles Forever movie, Karai's implied Heel–Face Turn at the end of season five after a season-long Enemy Mine situation is ignored. It's justified in that during the movie, the Utrom Shredder, her adoptive father and the one living being she dedicated her entire life to, returned. And even then, when her father went too far, she pulled another Heel–Face Turn.
  • Defied in the Season 2 finale of The Legend of Korra; during the course of the season, two portals to the spirit world were opened as part of the Big Bad's Evil Plan to release an Eldritch Abomination and take over the world. When the heroes defeat the plan, Korra decides to leave the portals open and allow spirits to roam the world and interact with humanity, with her acting as a mediator.
  • Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: In "McOne Armed and Dangerous", Hannibal McFist's status as a Villain with Good Publicity is destroyed thanks to the Ninja telling the people about McFist's attempts to have him killed and McFist falling victim to Is This Thing Still On?. The Sorcerer then Stanks McFist. After McFist is brought back to normal, the Ninja decides to restore his reputation by claiming McFist only tried to kill him because he had been turned into a monster. It happened to so many students before everyone in Norrisville bought that and called off the boycott on McFist Industries.
  • Gravity Falls averts this HARD in its second season, to the point of doing a Cerebus Retcon to explain why some things remained in the status quo.
  • In one episode of the French cartoon Jamie's Got Tentacles, the Big Bad's Beleaguered Assistant leads a rebellion against him. After the General's aide successfully defeats and vapourises him, the aide puts on his old boss's hat, puts on the same voice, promotes himself to General, declares that he has the exact same evil plan as the previous General (to capture and eat Jamie) and immediately gains an aide of his own. All members of their species are completely identical, so absolutely nothing changed.
  • Totally Spies! would usually flip back to status quo whenever Clover, Alex or Sam got a boyfriend. Clover's longest relationship was a long-distance relationship with a fellow WOOHP agent who was reassigned to WOOHP's Australian division, afterwhich he was never seen or mentioned again until they officially broke up in season 6, and while they were together Clover still fawned over and flirted with other guys like usual.
  • A large number of The Loud House episodes involve Lincoln trying to imrpove the living conditions in the house, only to realize that things were better before.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball invokes and parodies this trope with the episode "The Job". The normally lazy Richard tries to get a job, but it's soon discovered that if he does, it will destroy the universe.
    • Averted when Gumball actually got the girlfriend he wanted. Penny's appearance was changed forever in "The Shell".
  • Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-Lot: No matter how the bears try to reform resident villain Grizzle, he's always back to his bad self by the start of the next episode.
  • Zig-zagged with Steven Universe. While there is an advancing storyline, you can be sure that everything outside Steven and the main three Gems will more-or-less function the same no matter what happens, with few exceptions. And any exceptions will rarely be discussed or seen onscreen (i.e, Lapis Lazuli).
  • Downplayed with Littlest Pet Shop (2012): With the exception of a few episodes designed for setup, all of the changes in the show's continuity occurs in the two-parter episodes. That being said, there is a pretty blatant case: The Season 2 finale "The Expo Factor Part 2" ends with the Biskit family's loyal butler LeGrande disgusted with the family's attitude and quits, only to be re-hired back in "Winter Wonder Wha...?" because family patriarch Fisher promised him double pay.