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Halfway Plot Switch / Western Animation

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  • The first part of the last episode of Adventure Time focuses on Princess Bubblegum's uncle, Gumbald. After being defeated, the monster Golb appears and the conflict is all about him.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • "The Saint" primarily focuses on Gumball's attempts to get Alan to snap. When this fails spectacularly, Gumball and Darwin spend much of the rest of the episode following Alan's example of saying yes to life, although it doesn't go as well for them as they hoped.
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    • "The Countdown" begins as a Race Against the Clock. The writers mix things up in the second half after Gumball and Darwin break the clock and then start messing with it. It was clear that some kind of plot switch was going to happen from the beginning, however, since the clock starts counting down from six minutes and twenty-three seconds even though a Gumball episode lasts around eleven minutes.
  • Animaniacs did this in the short "The Warners and the Beanstalk." It starts out appropriately as a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk (also showing some influence from Disney's version), but then they persuade the Giant (played by Ralph the Guard) to try some gold eggs and meat, which it then becomes a parody of Green Eggs and Ham, complete with rhyming dialogue.
  • The second episode of Clone High, "Episode Two: Election Blu-Galoo". The whole episode centers around the student body presidential election, but the only reason JFK runs is to abolish term limits and reinstate Cleopatra. By the time Abe enters the race, JFK and Cleo's plan is completely discarded for the story of Abe and JFK's competition for Cleo's affection. By the end of the episode Cleo's presidential ambitions have evaporated in favour of seducing whoever's in office, a plotline abandoned within the first two minutes of the next episode.
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  • The third Danny Phantom film "Reality Trip" is set up as a Broken Masquerade story, with Danny's Secret Identity being revealed during a fight with Freakshow, the hero needing to run from the government's overzealous ghost hunting agents, and getting unexpected help from kids at school who have always been fans of his alter ego. As soon as the main trio escapes the Guys In White, however, Freakshow contacts them and sends them on a mission to recover the Mineral Macguffins they were fighting over in the first place. The rest of the movie (until the very end) consists of traveling around the world hunting for the gems, a plot that doesn't rely on the Broken Masquerade set-up at all.
  • The Dexter's Laboratory episode "Road Rash" starts out with Mom and Dad getting Dexter a bicycle that he tries learning to ride. But as soon as Dee-Dee on her rollerblades starts tormenting Dexter, it changes into a full Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner Shout-Out, with Dexter constantly trying to catch the Road Runner-esque Dee-Dee with his frequent bicycle modifications.
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  • Ed, Edd n Eddy did this almost all the time, giving the impression that the viewer wasn't watching just an 11-minute show, but a brief snapshot of the Eds' lives, implying that this sort of thing goes on 24-7.
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • School's Out! The Musical'' switches plots four or five times. It starts out with Timmy on summer vacation, then his parents try to send him to a boring camp. Twenty minutes later, it's about kids ruling the world, but this is part of a Batman Gambit so that Pixies can make Fairyworld and the Earth boring. It wraps up with the owner of the aforementioned camp rediscovering his clown heritage, saving the world and reuniting with his long-lost parents.
    • "Moooving Day" starts off with Timmy's mom upset that she hasn't sold a house in months, so Timmy has to be persuaded into wishing that she could sell any house. This results in her also selling their own house, as they now can afford to move to the newly-opened Dimmadome Acres. The plot then gradually switches to Timmy finding himself in the middle of a conspiracy where everyone is soon brainwashed by drinking a special brand of milk. When it gets resolved near the end, the original plot is brought up again when everyone needs Timmy's mom to sell them back their houses.
  • Family Guy:
  • In one episode, they go through several plots in rapid succession: Peter ruins his suit, and buys some adult-size footy pajamas, he becomes a faux-superhero by rubbing his feet on the carpet and shocking people, a fed-up Lois rips up all the carpet in the house, and finds a coin worth a lot of money, which the Griffins use to open a restaurant, the restaurant then becomes a favorite of crippled people, Peter bans the cripples and fights against them and then (after refusing to help Peter after he badmouthed Ben Stiller in a Cutaway Gag from earlier in the episode by saying that his movies are terrible) becomes crippled himself. The remainder of the plot is devoted to him coming to terms with being in a wheelchair and apologizing to Joe for banning him.
  • Lampshaded in one episode. Peter takes Brian to the vet and gets the ownership of a parrot while there, which inspires him to become a pirate, and he finds three pirate buddies. They attack a car filled with spices, and the parrot dies in the resulting fight. Chris, who has a crush on the receptionist, tells her Peter will just find some other wacky adventure. Indeed, he finds a pipe organ immediately, and when he breaks that ten seconds later, the deed to a cattle ranch. The rest of the episode ignored Peter's hijinks in favor of Chris' relationship with her. To make matters worse, this particular episode is named "Long John Peter" and the promotional poster makes the pirate-theme out to be the main focus of the episode.
  • Lampshaded, then averted, in "Welcome Back, Carter", an episode which mostly sticks to one plot. After repairing the relationship between Lois' parents, and in the last five seconds, Peter exclaims, "Hey, I found a magic lamp! No? Maybe next episode."
  • "Episode 420" starts with Peter "accidentally" killing Quagmire's cat. On the way to burying it and hiding the evidence, Peter and Brian are stopped by a cop, who is completely oblivious to the dead cat and the shovel in the back but charges Brian with possession of marijuana. The rest of the episode is about Brian trying to get marijuana legalized, then Peter and Carter trying to get it illegal again. Lampshaded at the very end, when Quagmire goes to the Griffins' house and tells Peter about the new reward for finding his missing cat, Peter tells Quagmire that he killed his cat, takes the reward money, and slams the door on him; the audience had most likely already forgotten about the cat by that point.
  • "I Dream of Jesus" starts with Peter being obsessed with his Surfin' Bird record and annoying everyone with it until Brian and Stewie steal and destroy it in true Office Space fashion. Peter goes to a record store to find a replacement and finds Jesus working at the register. Following that scene, Surfin' Bird is never brought up again until the end of the episode. Talk about bookending plot-points.
  • "Family Gay" begins with Peter buying a mentally challenged horse, but then pivots to Peter being injected with the gay gene. At the end of the episode, Mort throws the horse from earlier into the Griffins' dining room, screaming, "TAKE BACK YOUR FUCKIN' HORSE!!!"
  • "Wasted Talent" starts off as a Whole Plot Reference to Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, but after Peter angers Pawtucket Pat by going into the forbidden room and gets kicked off the tour, Lois notices that he's a great piano player whenever he's drunk.
  • Zigzagged with "Christmas Guy" as it starts with Peter trying to get Carter into the joys of Christmas, once the first half of the plot has already been resolved, it focuses more on Stewie missing Brian.
  • "Peter-Assment" starts with Stewie getting stage fright, but then, rather than setting up a b-story focusing on him trying to conquer his stage fright, the rest of the episode focuses on Peter becoming a paparazzo, and then Peter being sexually harassed by his boss in order to keep his job.
  • "April in Quahog" has three plots in one episode. First having Peter attempt to get out of Jury Duty after finding out it's a civic duty rather than an exclusive selection. It later switches to the Earth getting sucked in a black hole and everyone in Quahog trying to live out the last 24 hours of their lives. When it turns out the whole thing was an April Fools joke by the news crew, the last ten minutes of the episode is Peter trying to win back his children's respect after admitting they get in the way all the time.
  • "Passenger Fatty-Seven" starts with Peter ditching Lois to go on a trip to California with the guys, and then turns into a plot about the plane being hijacked by terrorists from an unidentified Eastern European country.
  • Futurama:
    • In "The Cryonic Woman", the first part of the episode is about Fry, Bender, and Leela losing their jobs at Planet Express, but that plot is dropped in favor of Fry's reunion with his old girlfriend. The Reset Button issue of getting their jobs back is only picked up at the end.
    • The first two episode-length quarters of "Bender's Game" are about the Planet Express crew trying to stop Mom from getting a special die. The second two quarters are pretty much the same plot again, in the crazy Dungeons & Dragons reality that Bender's accidentally created.
  • In Garfield and Friends, the U.S. Acres episode, "Kiddie Korner" begins with Orson Pig narrating the story of Doctor Zhivago, with Wade Duck in the titular role. The story is cut short when Orson's cousin, Aloysius demands that the characters sing Nursery Rhymes.
  • Two animated shorts from House of Mouse starring Goofy are like this: One short, called "How to be a Waiter", is actually about Goofy becoming an actor as a result of him being tired of being a waiter (ironically, at the end of the short, it's revealed that the first character Goofy played in his entire film career is yes, a waiter), while another, called "How to Wash Dishes", is actually about Goofy using a credit card to go on vacation as a result of him being tired of his job washing dishes. However, at the end of the short, Goofy hits his credit limit after a meal in a fancy restaurant, and as a result, he had to make up the lost money by yes, washing dishes.
  • An episode of The Jetsons does this, with the first half featuring a plot about George trying to get the day off from Mr. Spacely and the second half befriending a bunch of alien circus fleas.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Episode 85 started with Stumpy playing Rock–Paper–Scissors with the others to see who got to use the bathroom first. Halfway through the episode, the plot randomly changes to Kaeloo and Mr. Cat getting into a fight about whether Kaeloo Hulking Out is a good thing or not.
    • The episode "Let's Play Hot-Cold" started with Stumpy trying to make himself look tanned and muscular while Kaeloo tried to find someone to play with and halfway through, the plot became about the others trying to teach Stumpy how to impress girls.
  • The Kim Possible Valentine's Day episode started off talking about Kim and Ron's first V-Day as a couple, then (much to the disappointment of many Kim/Ron shippers) it shifted to Wade developing a crush on Monique.
  • Season 2 of The Legend of Korra has a few Dark Spirits running around and causing trouble, but most of the emphasis of the first half of the season is placed on the Water Tribe civil war and the strain it's putting on the heroes' relationships. Then Beginnings rolls around, and the focus turns from ending the war to preventing an Eldritch Abomination from breaking out of its can and causing The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Many Muppet Babies (1984) episodes start this way. The kids are usually involved in some sort of gang or group fantasy, until a little later, something arises (usually started by Nanny) that completely changes the focus of the episode. Such examples include...
    • "Dental Hijinks" starts with the babies pretending they are in a big auto race until they crash, and Fozzie notices he has a loose tooth, triggering the episode's main plot.
    • "Eight Take Away One Equals Panic" begins with the babies pretending they are flying on an airliner plane until they overhear Nanny on the phone and think she's planning on getting rid of one of them.
    • "Gonzo's Video Show" starts with the babies pretending they are enjoying a day out at the beach until Nanny arrives and lets them borrow her video camera she rented to make some fun videos with it.
    • "Piggy's Hyper-Activity Book" begins with the kids trying to build a house out of cardboard boxes until it collapses, and then the babies decide to play with an activity book, thus getting the main plot underway.
    • "The Muppets Broadcasting Company" starts with the babies trying a domino setup until it leads to an argument. Then a sudden thunderstorm knocks out the power and Gonzo thinks it's an alien invasion. When the babies complain they can't do anything without electricity, Nanny recommends they listen to some classic radio shows she saved on tape cassettes, which gets the main plot underway.
    • "Bad Luck Bear" starts with the babies in the bathtub pretending they are whale-hunting (with Gonzo as the whale) until Fozzie breaks a mirror and everyone believes he has bad luck.
    • "Water Babies" begins with the babies pretending they are in a mine tunnel (actually a series of cardboard boxes) looking for treasure until Nanny comes in with an aquarium of fish. Still, it does carry over into a subplot of Skeeter being more focused on looking for treasure than being interested in the fish.
    • "Where No Muppet Has Gone Before" begins with the babies reenacting Lewis and Clark's expedition to the Pacific until Nanny comes in with Baby Bunsen and Beaker, who have come over to spend the night. Bunsen then begins teaching the babies about space, getting the main plot going.
    • An interesting version in "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dark", which starts with the babies playing with Scooter's light pen before it leads into the plot of helping Beaker with his fear of the dark. The light pen ends up becoming a Chekhov's Gun in aiding Beaker to overcome the slime monster from his imagination.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Griffon The Brush Off has Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie going on a pranking spree. You may think the outcome will be that one prank goes too far or something, but soon an old friend of Rainbow Dash comes back and the rest of the episode is focused on her.
    • Bats! starts out with pests infesting Sweet Apple Acres and has Applejack who wants to drive them out, arguing with Fluttershy who feels bad for them and wants to let them stay. Then Twilight Sparkle decides to Take a Third Option which results in Fluttershy becoming a Vampire Were-Fruit-Bat and the entire story shifts to a Halloween-esque plot about restoring her.
  • Phineas and Ferb; the first part of the two-parter "Night of the Living Pharmacists" plays out like a standard Phineas and Ferb episode: the boys invent a device that gives them the bouncing properties of rubber, Candace goes to a slumber party with Vanessa Doofenshmirtz to try and get in with her friends, while Perry and Doof fight over a device he invented to make his brother Roger ugly. Then Doof successfully activates the device and turns Roger into a clone of Doof, who can turn other people into clones by way of touching them. The second part is more or less a straight Zombie Apocalypse story as the kids and Perry try to find a cure without getting turned themselves.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons:
    • Sonic Underground used and invoked this in "Wedding Bell Blues." Since Queen Aleena didn't show for her forced marriage to Robotnik, they'll instead crown Sonia queen in her stead—with Robotnik as the real power.
    • The first half of the Sonic Boom episode "Aim Low" is about Eggman losing his confidence after so many defeats at the hands of Sonic and his friends, leading him to hire a motivational speaker and life coach. Halfway through the episode, however, Eggman decides he feels better and fires his coach (who disappears from the episode altogether), only to immediately lose his confidence again since he has no one to motivate him and he confines himself to his couch. Sonic then becomes really bored and starts annoying all of his friends, who spend the remainder of the episode trying to bring Eggman's confidence back so he can give Sonic something to do.
  • South Park:
    • In the Imaginationland trilogy, terrorists attack Imaginationland plotting to destroy collective imagination. Their means of doing it is to manipulate the Good and Evil characters, who were minding each other's business on their separate turfs of Imaginationland, into a war so they would destroy each other. By Part 2, when the war started, the terrorists are already killed, but the Good characters have the full support. Sure they are literally Good characters, as the Evil characters are literally evil, but the terrorists are responsible for the war when both sides were previously at peace. In the end, the terrorists were supposed to be the only victors, even posthumously, while all the Good and Evil characters were supposed to be dead. However, the Good characters win the war and those of them who died are resurrected. Also, the Evil characters are imprisoned instead of brought back to their turf.
    • The episode "Pinewood Derby" begins with the premise of Randy cheating at the Boy Scouts' Pinewood Derby event through his son Stan. Then, an extraterrestrial criminal on the run lands on Earth and dies, and the rest of the episode is Randy and the leaders of various countries figuring out how to share the fortunes left behind. The plot then switches one more time near the end, where it's revealed that this incident was simply a Secret Test of Character for humanity as a whole, and Randy's actions caused Earth to fail so hard that the examiners create a force field around Earth and its Moon to keep Earthlings from interfering with other lifeforms in case they master intergalactic travel in the future.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • The episode "Pre-Hibernation Week" has the first five minutes focus on SpongeBob and Sandy doing extreme sports until it suddenly shifts to Sandy forcing the whole town of Bikini Bottom to search for SpongeBob after he had gone missing (he was actually hiding from Sandy so he wouldn't have to join her in any more dangerous stunts).
    • In "Shuffleboarding", the plot starts out with SpongeBob and Patrick filling in for Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy at the shuffleboarding tournament. It quickly turns into a plot about the two arresting everyone in town. The title is even more misleading considering that there wasn't any shuffleboarding shown at all.
    • "Born Again Krabs" starts out with Mr. Krabs trying to make his customers eat a moldy Krabby Patty SpongeBob found under the grill. When no one does, he takes a bite to prove it's still edible and develops a fatal case of food poisoning. When the Flying Dutchman shows up to spirit him away to Davy Jones' Locker as punishment for living a life of stinginess and greed, Mr. Krabs promises to turn over a new leaf if he's spared. The rest of the episode focuses on his efforts to reform himself (at least outwardly) after being brought back to life.
    • "Nasty Patty" starts with Mr. Krabs and Spongebob making sure that the arriving health inspector is treated well and approves the Krusty Krab, only to (mistakenly) assume he's the fake inspector reported by the news, so they make the titular patty as payback. After the inspector chokes (due to a fly, not the patty), he knocks himself out and Mr. Krabs and Spongebob believe they killed him by mistake, so the plot shifts to them attempting to bury the inspector without the police finding out.
    • "Dirty Bubble Returns" starts with the Dirty Bubble's attack on a power plant, then him being reformed into the Clean Bubble. After a few attempts, he finally reverts to being evil and attacks the town while SpongeBob has to stop him.
    • Exaggerated with "Night Light". The starting premise is simple: SpongeBob reads a scary book, and develops a fear of the dark, so he buys night lights to brighten up his house. The lights attract Patrick, who moves in with him for a sleepover, and then wake up Squidward. Patrick brings his rock through the wall, exposing more darkness, and he and SpongeBob get bigger lights to block it out, including a lighthouse, which winds up attracting Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. They're annoyed that there's no real danger, until a supervillain shows up and they stop him, and then daytime comes and Patrick runs into the sun.
    • In "Gone", SpongeBob wakes up to find that he is the only citizen left in town. He begins imitating them in their traditional roles, but while trying to attend Boating School, realizes that he cannot teach himself new material. He is upset, but then realizes that he can finally get his driving license. The episode then focuses on SpongeBob's relationship with his new boat, as he suspects it has a mind of its own.
  • The Teen Titans episode "Fear Itself" spends about its first third dealing with the first appearance of comedic villain Control Freak. Its second two-thirds deal with the Tower being invaded by supernatural monsters created by Raven having a Super-Power Meltdown and is almost entirely unrelated.note  The only thing tying the two sections together is the "cursed" horror movie Beast Boy acquires at the end of the Control Freak section which indirectly triggered the aforementioned Super-Power Meltdown.
  • Tup Tup starts out as a humorous story about a man who is trying to go to sleep at night but is distracted by an annoying sound coming from the apartment below. He yells, he bangs on the floor with a broom. Then he, uh, blows up the whole building, and the story is forgotten. The rest of the cartoon plays out as a series of nonsensical, Deranged Animation fantasy imagery reminiscent of Bill Plympton's later work.


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