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  • The Adventures of Puss in Boots features the episode "Copy Cat". A seemingly average Breather Episode in the season it takes place in involving Puss creating a clone of himself to resolve a Two-Timer Date plot. It's eventually revealed that this event caused an instability in the multiverse that ultimately leads into an Evil Twin of Puss In Boots taking over the Netherworld to become the Big Bad of that season.
  • Adventure Time:
    • The first season episode "The Enchiridion!", Princess Bubblegum sends Finn and Jake to retrieve the titular book. This is not a big deal until season 4 reveals that the book can opens portals to other universes. The Lich stole it from the heroes who then travels to a dimension where he plans to wish for the extinction of all life.
    • In the episode "His Hero", Finn and Jake meet their hero Billy and try to emulate his non-violent lifestyle. The episode itself is quite forgettable but it has the first brief appearance of the Lich, who will be the Big Bad for the next seasons, along with the Gauntlet of the Hero and Billy himself has a key role in the finales of seasons 4 and 5 ( albeit a posthumous one).
    • The episode "The Creeps" seems like a random episode about a fake murder mystery. Except for the appearance of Shoko (Finn's past life) as a ghost as revealed in "The Vault".
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    • At first blush, you would think the only effect that the episode "Blade of Grass" has on the series is that it gives Finn a new sword to replace the demon-blood sword. However, even after the Grass Sword stops being Finn's primary weapon, it keeps coming back again and again, saving Finn, and eventually merging with the Finn Sword to become it's own separate character Fern.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • Season 3 episode "The Kids" have Gumball and Darwin's voices sounding more older which is based on the child V As growing up. In the end, Gumball and Darwin starts to accept they will grow up, until a split-second unknown intervention that causes the two to sound young again via change of child V As in real life. This foreshadows how the world of Elmore actually works from then on through the series.
    • Season 3 episode "The Void" has Gumball and Darwin looking for a missing student Molly who has disappeared from Elmore. They and Mr. Small finds the portal to another dimension where all the mistakes have been transported including the rejected designs of the show and the house that is seen.
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    • Season 2 episode "The Pony" has Rob in his first speaking role after the previous season of being a background character. The gag involves Gumball and Darwin forgetting his name which irritates him. Of course, he barely appears apart from "The Finale" until next season with his The Cameo in "The Void" which ends up becoming VERY important as he escapes from The Void and becomes disfigured until remembering why he was there in "The Nobody". He then becomes the Big Bad of the show from then on.
    • Season 3 episode "The Shell" has a quick gag of Banana Barbara painting of Gumball walking in on her husband's bath which actually happens seconds later and another painting in the room. It's also the same painting that was the plot for "The Oracle" of Gumball failing to prevent what happens then when he and his siblings discover she can paint the future. The episode ends with her finishing her painting of the Wattersons in the Void which will likely play out in the future.
    • Season 4 "The Signal" has Gumball and Darwin being gone through mysterious disruptions that threatens their friendship and then their lives like a TV losing signal from a satellite. Then Gumball and Darwin starts to realize the satellite signal disruptions also affects THEIR world, they start to question the reality of this world until the episode forcibly ends with a Everybody Laughs Ending. Of course this would be a one-time gag episode until Season 4 finale "The Disaster" when Rob flat out tells Gumball that the world they live in isn't real and then "The Rerun" has Gumball try to use the Universal Remote and accidentally changes the channel to Elmore News which brings this instance again.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has several.
    Azula: Who are you angry at?
    • "Nightmares And Daydreams" is pretty much a Filler Bizarro Episode- its A-plot is Aang getting sleep-deprived from stress about the upcoming invasion and beginning to hallucinate, and its B-plot is Zuko and Mai spending time with each other, cuddling adorably, and sneaking past the radar. Oh, and Zuko attends an offscreen war meeting, during which something happened that finally cemented his Heel Realization. We won't learn what happened at the meeting until the finale, but oh boy is it a doozy. Upon hearing Zuko's advice that the Earth Kingdom's people were tough and would keep fighting as long as they had hope and Azula's suggestion that they burn said hope to the ground, Ozai decided to use the Sozin's Comet power boost to utterly destroy the Earth Kingdom.
    Zuko: During the meeting, I was the perfect prince, the son my father wanted. But I wasn't me.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! episode "Alone Against AIM" seems rudimentary at first, boasting a simple storyline in which Iron Man and some of his companions prevent AIM from stealing important Stark Industries data and armor. It does, however, contain at least two ties to the season's main arc. First, Iron Man introduces a new suit of armor, which he will continue to use up through the series finale. Secondly, Captain America (actually a Skrull in disguise) reveals to the other heroes during the aftermath that he managed to keep the data out of AIM's hands, but the Skrulls later use this information to implant a crippling virus into Iron Man's suit.
  • Beware the Batman:
    • "Attraction" is a break from the League of Assassins storyline before its resolution. However, it also introduces Batman's possible identity crisis and instability, which plays a huge role in the second half of the season.
    • "Nexus" introduces Harvey Dent, an important character in the latter half of the series. More importantly, the events of this episode parallel the events of the three-part season finale on a far larger scale.
    • "Games" has a rather self-contained plot involving Humpty Dumpty. Later in the series, we learn that the traumatic events of that episode caused Mayor Grange to resign, kicking off the mayoral elections that play a major role in the season finale.
  • The Camp Lazlo episode "The Engagement" contains ends with a joke where, after Jane's engagement falls apart, rather then recognize Lumpus' affection she starts flirting with the Navy Turtle, hoping to be engaged to him. The final season sees Lumpus attending their wedding and subtly crashing it, beginning his relationship with Jane.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door started its beard-growing with what just seemed like another of its early, one-off episodic stints, namely the episode where a baby network executive convinces the KND to let him use their satellite network, which turned out to be a plot to use his age-changing ray on the whole planet. The kids defeat the baby, but in The Stinger his age-changing device ends up in the hands of the Delightful Children...
  • The Detentionaire episode "28 Sneezes Later" seemed like a weird Bizarro Episode at first, with Lee apparently hallucinating for most of it and a B-plot that mostly served as a parody of Zombie Apocalypse films. However, as it turns out, Lee's little adventure did a lot of foreshadowing for things to come in the series, such as the fact that his immunity to the Prank Song was In the Blood. The B-plot also showed us that Brandy was more capable than she looked, setting up that she was going to become more than an annoyingly clingy "girlfriend" to Lee as the series progressed.
  • The Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Ed, Pass It On" (from 2002) is about Eddy lying that his elusive older brother is returning to the cul-de-sac in an attempt to gain respect. When he supposedly does arrive (it's actually Sarah and Jimmy in disguise), Eddy reacts with absolute fear. Seven years later, the Grand Finale Movie reveals that Eddy's Brother is actually a sadistic bully who tortures Eddy for fun and all the stuff Eddy's been saying about him all these years were all lies so he can get respect from the other kids.
    • In the same episode, when Rolf gets the "news" that Eddy's Brother is coming, he barricades his farm and tells Eddy to tell his brother Rolf's chickens no longer exist. After watching The Movie, it makes you wonder what was he doing to Rolf's Chickens?
  • The Elena of Avalor episode "Snow Place Like Home" is a typical Christmas episode that reveals Esteban's Freudian excuse, namely how his parents died in a storm at sea. The last minute of the episode has a scene of Victor and Carla meeting up with his wife/her mother , and it's definitely a doozy.
  • The events in Family Guy episode "The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire" would haunt Cleveland for years to come, such as in "Love Blactually," and eventually led to the existence of The Cleveland Show.
  • Gravity Falls has some tremendous hints to its big mysteries hidden in episodes that otherwise aren't massively relevant to the plot. Season one's "Carpet Diem" is a "Freaky Friday" Flip episode, but includes some of the biggest hints to one of the show's mysteries. In the episode, we have two short moments where Stan discovers an old pair of glasses slightly different than his own, and is later seen sadly holding them. Fifteen episodes later, we have the Author's identity revealed to be Stan's brother.
  • Justice League was almost purely episodic for its first two seasons, and has several episodes which are used as the basis for the story arcs in later seasons:
    • "A Better World", in which an alternate universe version of the Justice League assassinates President Luthor and seizes control of the government, becomes the basis for the conflict in the first two seasons of Justice League Unlimited. The two-part finale of Superman: The Animated Series (which aired four years before) also played a big part in this. Lampshaded thoroughly in the commentary tracks for Justice League, along with a flashback to an even earlier episode of Superman.
    • "Twilight (of the Gods)" seems like a one-off until the two-part series finale, when Luthor, in an attempt to revive Brainiac, brings back Darkseid with Brainiac enhancements.
  • The Littlest Pet Shop (2012) first-season episode "What Did You Say?" has a pretty subtle one: One of the side effects of Blythe's cold medicine, as written on the bottle, is a temporary loss of the ability to talk to animals, implying there are people who can talk to animals other than Blythe. That Blythe is not alone would become a major theme for the final season and its Story Arc.
  • Milo Murphy's Law episode The Substitute initially seems like just another standalone story, until at the end The sentient blob merges with a pistachio plant. This leads to the creation of a race of sentient pistachios who are the antagonists of special episode Missing Milo, as well as the season finale and the subsequent Crossover with Phineas and Ferb.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Season 2 episode "It's About Time" is a typical slice-of-life episode with Twilight learning not to worry so much about the future after spending the week trying to prevent upcoming disasters. At the same time, it sets up two huge season-finale crises:
      • In that episode, Twilight had to bring Cerberus back to the gates of Tartarus where he belongs. In the Season 4 finale, we learn that Tirek, one of the most dangerous creatures imprisoned there, escaped during this time.
      • The episode introduces a time-travel spell created by Star Swirl the Bearded, with Pinkie Pie making a point that it can only be used once. It's also shown to only create Stable Time Loops anyway, so you'd think it wouldn't show up again, right? Except that, as demonstrated by the Season 5 finale, the spell, altered by a very skilled unicorn alongside the use of an Amplifier Artifact, can have absolutely devastating effects.
    • "Appleoosa's Most Wanted" is at first a simple episode in which the Cutie Mark Crusaders break from their usual attempts at finding their Cutie Marks to help an older stallion to find the real meaning of his Cutie Mark during one of their usual escapades to find their special talents. Later on in the season, it turns out helping other ponies realize their talents is their own talent.
    • The Season 7 episode "Campfire Tales" is a Vignette Episode where Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash each tell the tales of three legendary ponies by the names of Rockhoof, Mistmane, and Flash Magnus. Later on, "Daring Done?" primarily took place in a village heavily inspired by another legendary pony named Somnambula, and "A Health of Information" introduces yet another pony of lore called Mage Meadowbrook, whose research in a cure for a disease drives that episode's plot. The Season Finale would reveal that all five of these ponies were members of the Pillars of Equestria, precursors to the Elements of Harmony led by fellow lore character Star Swirl the Bearded.
  • Almost everything that happened across the Myth Arc of ReBoot can be traced back to the simple act of Bob loaning Mike The TV To Hexadecimal in "Painted Windows". Before that, the show was episodic.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated:
    • The second episode, "The Creeping Creatures", has a trip to nearby Gatorsburg and a quick capture of some (fake) gator people, but the important part looked like a throwaway scene at first. A flickering sign spells The Dog Dies. A quick scare for Scooby? Nope. A command, or perhaps a piece of advice, and something close to being Arc Words. The quick references to gator mines and wells also seem a joke, but even in a world full of people in ghost costumes, that's clue pointing towards something unnatural.
    • "The Shrieking Madness" features a rather unexpected cameo from Harlan Ellison, Adam Westing as himself and engaging in a spot of petty rivalry with a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of H. P. Lovecraft. It's an amusing cameo, but doesn't seem to be crucial to the series' Myth Arc. Until the series finale, that is... When the gang rewrites reality by erasing the Evil Entity from history, Harlan Ellison turns out to be the only person who remembers the old timeline, thanks to his experiments with speculative fiction. There series ends with him inviting the gang to solve mysteries under him as his he takes on the moniker "Mr. E".
  • On Sofia the First, the episode "When You Wish Upon A Well" is at first a regular episode involving Amber's wish for her father to spend more time with her going wrong when Sofia turns into a cat. However, said wish was made with a magic wishing well that results in a major revelation in the series finale "Forever Royal". In addition to revealing the fate of Sofia's previous father, it also reveals that Queen Lorelei, the previous queen, was unable to bear children, and Roland made a wish in the wishing well so that they could have children, who would become Amber and James. Unfortunately, her body was not stable enough to handle it, and she passed away.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: "Senate Spy" may initially seem like padding, but it ends up kicking off a major arc about the second invasion of Geonosis, and ultimately leading to the first appearance of zombies on the show.
  • Star Wars Rebels
    • "Droids in Distress", the second episode, involves the Ghost crew, low on fuel and cash, taking a job to steal weapons from the Empire. They end up running into everyone's favourite droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO, on an undercover mission, and end up having to return the droids to Bail Organa — which, eventually, leads directly to the crew joining the larger Rebellion.
    • "The Call" has the crew encountering a pod of purrgil in a side adventure. However, come the Grand Finale, Ezra summons a large group of them, some of them the size of capital ships, in order to neutralize Thrawn's blockade around Lothal. The purrgil destroy Thrawn's fleet and jump away with Thrawn and Ezra to parts unknown, thus ending their stories in the show and setting up for a sequel show.
  • Steven Universe often has mundane sounding episodes which end up having major character or plot related impacts. For example:
    • "Laser Light Cannon" had the Red Eye, a Monster of the Week that seemed to have no importance. In "Marble Madness", it is revealed that it's a probe sent by Peridot, who would become a major reoccurring character and kick off a seasons-long Story Arc. In turn, "Marble Madness" has consequences beyond the obvious story arc that it introduced. Steven's list of humans sets up the Wanted arc, which leads to Lars' death and resurrection, the introduction of the Off-Colors, and Defense Zircon casting doubt on the official story of Pink Diamond's shattering.
    • "Serious Steven" is another lighthearted romp where Steven and the Gems go to collect an artifact with little overall importance. Except for the mural on one of the pyramid walls, which is the first depiction of the Diamonds, who are standing in opposition to Rose Quartz, with the modern Homeworld symbol on the floor.
    • "Steven's Lion": Steven adopts a pink lion. Any episode with Lion's name in the title or with the creature as a major player has major plot importance. Even "Lion 4: Alternate Ending", would end up being this trope yet again, with a later episode revealing that the new location traveled to was, in fact, Pink Diamond's personal ship.
    • "Watermelon Steven" was just a silly episode that revealed that Steven's healing saliva can also give plants sapience, and ended with the watermelon creatures walking into the sea. Two seasons later, in "Super Watermelon Island", the titular island society the Watermelon Stevens created serves as the battleground for the conclusion to the Malachite arc. Then another two seasons later, "Escapism" has Steven use his psychic powers to possess one of them in order to get help from Beach City after getting the rest of the Crystal Gems poofed and himself and Connie imprisoned on Homeworld.
    • "Keep Beach City Weird" is probably the biggest example, as it turned out the establish that the then-Monster of the Week show indeed had a much larger Myth Arc brewing in a major case of The Cuckoolander Was Right. The episode has conspiracy theorist Ronaldo lose faith in his ideas when it turns out much of theories were actually just Steven's actions over the previous months ("It can't be that simple! There has to be more to it than just... YOU!"), before his younger brother tries to cheer him up by suggesting that Steven is only part of the puzzle. Ronaldo then realizes that everything is tied to polymorphic, sentient rocks, and he starts raving that "They're here to hollow out the earth! It's all part of the Great Diamond Authority! They can take on any form!" This would go on to accurately describe events that took place in the far past of the show, as well as several future story arcs.
    • "The Answer" is an absolutely adorable Whole Episode Flashback depicting Ruby and Sapphire's romance and the first formation of Garnet... and the beginning of the Crystal Gems as a real organization, not just a fake threat made up of Pink Diamond and her Pearl.
  • Transformers: Beast Wars
    • An episode near the end of the first season entitled "Before the Storm", which sets up the first season finale and a huge chunk of the second and third season subplots as well.
    • Similarly, the second-last episode of the first season of Transformers Animated, "Nature Calls", was an odd episode that involved "space barnacles", but it also set up for Megatron getting his body back in the season finale.
    • Also in Animated, the episode "Headmaster" seemed to just be another disconnected episode with a new human supervillain, except that the Headmaster would up responsible for (one of) Starscream's current predicament(s), as well as the introduction of Dirt Boss and the resultant effect on the Constructicons.
      • Similarly, "Sari No One's Home" is played mostly as an homage to Home Alone franchise, until the end when we see this is how the Decepticons pull the Constructicons back to their side and they build Megatron the Space Bridge that becomes the point of contention for the season 2 finale.
      • "Meltdown" mostly deals with Promethus Black's descent into supervillainy, but it also briefly introduces Porter C. Powell as a member of Isaac Sumdac's board of directors and financier of Sumdac's leading competitors. His unscrupulous nature becomes a major plot point in season 2 when he moves to take over the company and becomes one of the show's leading antagonists.
    • In Transformers Prime, "Convoy" and the human villains it introduces seem to have nothing to do with anything else going on in the show. When they return in "Operation: Breakdown", they've become much more relevant, focussing their agenda on the Transformers themselves and finding out what makes them tick.
      • Stronger, Faster at first seams to be the token Very Special Episode substituting steroids with artificial energon. In the third season the Decepticon's own research into artificial energon creates a zombie horde that depletes half their forces. Even later it is crucial in the restoration of Cybertron.
  • The Venture Bros. takes this to an art form. Seemingly trivial details and bits of dialogue have a nasty habit of becoming the fulcrums to entire episodes, up to several seasons later. Case in point: In the Season 2 episode "¡Viva los Muertos!" Dr. Venture educates his newly-animated Venturestein with a series of videos depicting a Central American sweatshop. Three seasons later, in the episode "Venture Libre", we learn that Venturestein became rebellious because he recognized one of the boys in the videos when he was sent to quell a revolution.
  • X-Men: Evolution features an episode in Season Two where a previously-unseen mutant enacts some plot that completely stumps the heroes and leave them wondering what the hell THAT was all about. The end of the episode reveals he is attempting to free Apocalypse. This isn't revisited until Mesmero turns up again Season Three, becoming the major running plot for the second half of the season, and culminating in Apocalypse being the Big Bad of the final season.
  • The Young Justice episode "Denial" initially looks like a straightforward Villain of the Week outing. Ultimately, though it turns out that not only was aforementioned villain actually a member of the Light, the Big Bad group of the whole series, but he was the first member of the Light to appear in person. Adding to that, the episode launched the ongoing Dr. Fate subplot that would turn up again several more times during the season, hinted towards Red Tornado's ties to the Justice Society, and laid the groundwork for the Kid Flash/Artemis relationship as well.


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