The Producer Thinks of Everything
"I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they're going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there's going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up."
This trope concerns where the Production Team has clearly Shown Their Work
in regards to the entire show, but more so than just that.
If your TV show has plenty of Chekhov's Gun
, Chekhov's Gunman
, Chekhov's Armory
, A Batman Gambit
or two, Arc Words
, Myth Arcs
, and the Early-Bird Cameo
, chances are your show is in the hands of a production team that goes above and beyond the call of duty to create a truly memorable and deeply detailed experience. Not to be confused with an actual plan
or the Myth Arc
itself. Other signs of the producers foreseeing everything would include introducing plot points far before they become important, possible sneak peeks of characters in the Pilot Episode
, and a generally close attention to detail that you wouldn't find on just any show. This is about not only careful planning, but also anticipating and routing around troubles such as Real Life Writes the Plot
and Executive Meddling
Producers and the Creative Talent 'behind' the show are the key here. This trope does NOT concern the in-universe or in-story examples of characters planning things out to a ridiculous degree.
Often overlaps with Doing It for the Art
. Compare The Dev Team Thinks of Everything
for the video game equivalent, and contrast Truth in Television Indy Ploys
and Writing by the Seat of Your Pants
for when they have almost no
idea where things may lead to, leading to The Chris Carter Effect
Has nothing to do with a Crazy-Prepared Parker Kovak
Anime and Manga
- Fullmetal Alchemist - The first anime was completely different to the second specifically because the mangaka had plans for the story and wanted them to come about on their own pace, and because she didn't want Filler Arc after Filler Arc.
- Naoki Urasawa. The man is simply a genius at constructing insanely complex stories with little filler, where characters often appear quite a while before their importance is revealed and every question posed will be answered.
- Rahxephon, though you will only realize this on a rewatch.
- Harry Potter quickly gained a reputation for this, with its fans obsessively poring over every minor character or object introduced trying to find out what importance they had. It got to the point where, when presented with the mystery of who stole one of Voldemort's Horcruxes and left a note with the initials RAB, many fans dismissed a character with those initials who had been mentioned all of twice in books one through six as "too obvious". Said character was indeed RAB.
- There's also the one time it backfired on JK Rowling. In Order of the Phoenix, Rowling gave the kid that Dudley was bullying the last name "Evans", which is the maiden name of Lily Potter and Petunia Dursley. She had no intentions to make him a secret relative of Harry's, but don't tell that to the fanbase, who went crazy with absurd rumors regarding this kid as soon as he was revealed.
- Warrior Cats, because the author Victoria Holmes plans out each Myth Arc before she writes it, you can find future plot twists foreshadowed many books before they appeared, throwaway lines loaded with guns of the Chekhov variety and many Chekhov's Gunmen hidden among the background characters. Just to name one example, in Sunset Brambleclaw thinks that because of the lush summer, even the normally slim Leafpool is looking quite plump. Six books later in Sunrise, it's revealed that Leafpool was pregnant in Sunset. And this is one of the minor examples.
- J. Michael Straczynski had planned out all five seasons of Babylon 5 before the show even entered production, and while some details here and there had to be changed, it still showed.
- Fringe. There's a visual clue in every episode as to what the next episode will be about... and it's always so subtle or obscure that you never notice it on your first viewing. Then there's the Observer making appearances in every episode (and in other Fox shows, like American Idol!), the mysterious glyphs before commercial breaks forming an alphabetical cipher that spells out words, seemingly random text in the background turning out to be important clues... even Olivia's dark-colored clothing and Walter's seemingly-random food cravings are significant...
- Daniel Knauf planned six seasons in advance for Carnivāle. Unfortunately, studio interference led to a less challenging second season and cancellation soon after.
- Arrested Development has this in spades. It mostly crops up in foreshadowing, where innocuous jokes and unimportant details will turn out to be set-ups for much larger plot arcs further down the line. At the very least, one should keep an ear open for lines of dialogue repeated verbatim in different contexts seasons apart.
- Degrassi of all shows, can do this when the writers actually work really hard on a story. The biggest example of this would be Rick's storyline leading up to the shooting.
- The production team on QI correctly guessing which joke answers the panelists would give and setting them as the forfeit.
Stephen Fry: Now, tell me about the Great Disappointment.
Jo Brand: Have you been talking to my husband?
Stephen: Name a poisonous snake.
Jimmy Carr: Piers Morgan.
Stephen: What has large teeth and only one facial expression?
: I took a fall, but it was Worth It
- The Sarah Connor Chronicles has a ton of subtle foreshadowing through the first and second season. For example, the seemingly unrelated Terminator of the Week Greenway in "Automatic For the People" (2x03) loses an eye during the brawl with Cameron. That same eye is recovered by Catherine Weaver and Ellison, and is used to replace the destroyed one in Cromartie's chassis half a season later when he becomes the body for John Henry.
- In the Firefly episode "War Stories" (and later, Serenity) we learn that River was being turned into a living weapon by the Academy. We don't see her true ninja-osity until the movie, apparently. Apparently is the key word, because in "Ariel," while she is handcuffed by the Alliance guards, if one looks closely, one can see that she's quietly trying to slip out of her restraints when no one is looking.
- Another Joss Whedon example: The season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Restless", contained much foreshadowing for the seasons to come and season 3 had Faith count down the days leading to Buffy's death two years before it happened. Joss also arranged for every season finale of the show to provide some kind of closure just in case the show failed to get renewed.
- Star Trek: DS9 introduced the idea of the Dominion in a Ferengi episode (DS9 for 'joke episode'). The Dominion turn out to be the main villain after the next season until the end of the show. In the extras, the producers even say they did this intentionally.
- Thus the producers inverted the origin of the Ferengi on Star Trek: The Next Generation. They were introduced by name and reputation, intended to be the new big villain race. Instead, they were toothy, ineffectual little trolls.
- The creators of How I Met Your Mother plan their use of flashbacks ahead of time. How far ahead? During the second season (filmed in 2006), they revealed that they'd shot some footage to be used as a flashback for the series finale.
- As of season 7's ending, the creators also revealed they had been planning on Barney and Robin eventually getting married since the episode where they break up in season 5, THREE years ago. Everything we see of Barney and Robin in the following episodes/seasons (5-8) is getting them back around to the point of dating again and eventually marrying. Basically, they are the definition of "endgame". The creators have also revealed, as of S8, that they planned for Ted and the Mother to meet at a train station since very early in the series.
- The opening credits of Game of Thrones. Not only are there stunning Clock Punk castles rising up from a map, breathtaking music and the backstory told by metaphor, but the areas given detail change per episode in accordance with what areas are the main focus of the episode.
- Not only this but also they've put the house sigils in front of the actor's name, respective to their character.
- Doctor Who
- In one of the most interesting cases, the musical cue for the Silence briefly plays during Amy's introduction in "The Eleventh Hour", a season before they become a threat.
- In a mid-Series 2 episode, a briefly seen newspaper has a reference to the final enemy of Series 3.
- As the main description on HBO's The Wire, "all the pieces matter" accurately explains David Simon's plotting of the series well in advance. Multiple plot points are set up a season (or multiple seasons) in advance, and are foreshadowed so subtly that it requires a second viewing to catch all the instances. Barksdale soldier Bodie's death is telegraphed right from the third episode of the series. A key witness in Clay Davis' trial in the final season is a chauffer who was (initially thought of as) a bit character in a first-season episode. Omar's death is foreshadowed more than two seasons before it actually happens via the character of Kenard.
- Level-5's games' plots in general usually have a Chekhov's Armory, with a couple of the subtler details not boomeranging back until the sequel, or even the sequel's sequel. Interviews with CEO Hino Akihiro have confirmed that they do plan out entire trilogies at a time, and it's not just Writing by the Seat of Your Pants. Some specifics:
- From the very beginning of the Professor Layton series, the title professor always wears the same hat, refuses to take it off, and will go to ridiculous lengths to do so. The reason for this is revealed in the ending of the third game.
- Likewise, Don Paolo establishes himself in the first game as the self-proclaimed archnemesis of Professor Layton, who has no clue what he ever did to upset Don Paolo. How this came to be is also revealed two games later. (And it's even related to how he got his hat!)
- The first Inazuma Eleven game introduces a finishing technique named "Emperor Penguin No. 2" halfway through the game, which is likely to leave the player wondering if there's a "No. 1" anywhere. What Emperor Penguin No. 1 is, and even the reason why nobody dared so much as mention it previously, is finally revealed halfway through the second game.
- In another case similar to Professor Layton's hat, from Kidou's first appearance in the very first chapter of the first Inazuma Eleven game, he is always wearing a pair of blue-rimmed goggles, except he is consistently shown without them in flashbacks to his childhood. The reason for this is explained in the third game.
- A teaser trailer for Team Fortress 2's Engineer Update showed in the background robotic Heavy and Demoman heads. Robots wouldn't be added to the game until the Mann vs Machine update over two years later. This wasn't the only hint they dropped either.
- 8-Bit Theater is a Ten Year Long Brick Joke.
- Era Of Errors has a storyline that's been in production for EIGHT YEARS before the webcomic even *started*, with the author having thousands of pages of storyline/notes/character sheets/backstory written, including most of the entire series storyline.
- Homestuck. In Spades. Expect tiny little trivial details you didn't even consciously notice at the time to come back in such a way that you smack your forehead and say "Of course!"
- The Order of the Stick is all over this trope.
- Sluggy Freelance has call-backs to events that occurred long before, the most drastic being the fact that Pete had been dropping hints about Oasis being a pyrokinetic from her very first appearance, nearly a decade before The Reveal. The forums have a lot of speculation as to how much Pete Abrams plans out in advance and how much is just stuff he throws in to foster this image (a character that first appeared rather suddenly during the Oceans Unmoving arc getting his arrival in Timeless Space explained four years later, for example, seems more like a throwaway Continuity Nod.)
- Avatar: The Last Airbender is an example of this. Sure, some episodes were more filler than others but the creators had the whole series planned out before hand. For example, in "The Northern Air Temple" characters meet an eccentric mechanist. His workshop is scattered with blue-prints and other minor details- one of which are plans for a giant drill which doesn't show up until a season later.
- Throughout the series, there are pictures, references and statues of the mythical Lion Turtle, even so far back as the original Pilot Episode. This becomes rather important when the Lion Turtle appears in the finale.
- There's even a video interview with the makers online that talks about how once the ball got rolling, they ended up creating the entire plot rapidly, and when they made their proposal to the Nick execs, it lasted several hours, compared to most show's several minutes. They were granted funding for a test pilot after being told by the execs they had made more than enough of a case.
- In The Legend of Korra, it came as a rather big shock to most fans when it was revealed the Equalists would be using Mini-Mecha to fight. Most fans, but not all- because a few keen eyes noticed that for a few seconds in the first episode, you could see low quality blueprints. What's more impressive; that the creators bothered to put such a small detail in, or that the fanbase managed to catch it?
- Futurama first appeared to be a pretty entertaining animated show where nothing ever changes, with the only long-term story arc focusing on the fairly mundane possibility of Fry and Leela hooking up. Cut to where we find out how Fry ended up getting frozen (we can even see the perpetrator's SHADOW in the pilot episode), Bender being buried in the desert, the crew being the crash-landed ship in Roswell, finding out why Fry is the way is he is, and others. This show was surprisingly well laid-out from the beginning, not a lot felt like it was made up as they went along.