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Arc Fatigue

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Sometimes, Webcomic Time is a saving grace.

"A note to worried readers: There's no more of this sequence. I'm as tired of it as anyone."
Walt Kelly, at the end of a Pogo Sunday page

Arcs are good. They keep a series moving at a good pace, give it a greater sense of purpose, unity, and forethought, and generally help keep up interest in the story as a whole.

Unless they go on and on. And on. And on. For months, if not years.

Suddenly, the arcs stop keeping up interest and instead lead to fan outcry for a conclusion already! Eventually, the pace of a story may become so monotonously slow and/or repetitious that the fanbase at large give up on following the series directly, and instead rely on Reader's Digest versions of the stories, as told by their friends who still give a damn.

When this happens, a story has succumbed to Arc Fatigue. Possible reasons for this are:

Arc Stall: An individual story arc has carried on for an annoyingly long time, and yet there's still no end in sight. This usually occurs when the amount of time taken to tell an individual arc becomes horrendously disproportional to the amount of time that's passed in-universe (for example, taking several years to publish a story whose events supposedly happen within the span of a few hours), leading to a critical breakdown of Willing Suspension of Disbelief. This form of stall is most common in "The Continuing Adventures of"-style stories, which chronicle the many exploits of a character or group of characters, rather than have a set end-goal planned.

Myth Stall: The story has been going on for a long time. A loooooooong time. Teenagers in the present time weren't even born when the story began, and yet the characters are no closer to their final goal than they were when those teens were born. Sometimes, the story is riddled with storylines which may be little more than a prolonged Monster of the Week story with no significant Character Development or Plot Advancement at all. In extreme circumstances, the series might "end" only when the author does. This is, naturally, most common in "quest" stories where the characters have an over-arching goal to achieve or MacGuffin to claim. The trouble is if you keep plot threads unresolved too long, it will drive the audience away because they think the characters will never get what they want, so there's going to be no satisfying payoff, and thus no reason to keep watching. And this is especially true if it's the main plot thread that's going on for too long.

Note that in particularly ridiculous examples, a series may suffer from Myth Stall because it's laden with Filler Arcs suffering from Arc Stall. The difficult part is not necessarily the fact that there is a running story, but the fact that the story has a Driving Question that is constantly teased but never resolved.

The reasons for a series slipping into Arc Fatigue are many, but the most common are that either the author is stalling for time while trying to figure out where the series is heading, or that someone higher up wants to carry on the series for as long as it's profitable. Alternatively, the author may be Writing for the Trade. There is also the possibility of a writer-reader disconnect: the writer may be thinking he's writing an older-style serial where the myth arc is the motivation for the character to do his episode-to-episode stuff rather than a goal they're actively trying to move toward (characteristic of westerns and detective stories, where the initial unsolved murder-mystery or dishonor is the reason the protagonist is going around doing good, but not something they actually think to be resolvable).

A Cliffhanger Wall is a possible cause of this. See also Four Lines, All Waiting, which moves at this speed by definition. Compare Exponential Plot Delay (the fatigue gets worse as the plot progresses), Ending Fatigue (when it seems like it will end, but it doesn't), Prolonged Prologue (when the work is moving slowly before the story proper even begins), and The Chris Carter Effect (which is a possible audience reaction to this). See also Seasonal Rot. This can overlap with the Post-Script Season if resolving the main story has left the work floundering around in a meaningless, empty subplot.

Of course, heaven help any work that never actually reaches the goddamn fireworks factory that the fans were waiting for because that was never actually the point and the fans only assumed otherwise.

Examples subpages:

Other examples:

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Arc Stall

    Anime & Manga 
  • The Washizu Mahjong arc of Akagi started in 1997 and ended when the manga did, in 2019. The manga had started in 1992 and run for three arcs before that one. A single game lasting a single night lasted for 22 years. The last round of the last match alone took five years to write, with one issue coming out every month. They take seven months just to draw all the tiles to start the round.
  • The vast majority of Arachnid's 70+ chapters take place on a single day, with Alice bouncing from one battle with an Ax-Crazy Organization assassin to the next, which can get rather exhausting and frustrating after a point.
  • Assassination Classroom:
    • What some fans thought of the God of Death arc, which lasted around thirteen chapters. The anime averts this by a long shot, completing the entire arc in just two episodes... Though, instead, it received some complaints for being a rushed Pragmatic Adaptation.
    • In a variation, everything after Chapter 153, largely because, with Class E firmly defeating Class A and Koro-sensei's life largely safe, the series had very little to actually do. As a result, much of February drags with the students doing various things, which left many fans wishing for Matsui to just get to the final arc already.
  • The Revenge of the Love Failure arc in Beastars lasts for almost 70 chapters, roughly 20 chapters longer than the next longest arc in the series. The story kept finding increasingly contrived ways for the arc's Big Bad Melon to evade capture, while the development of all side characters is largely put on hold for the duration. Not helping matters is that the series was swiftly brought to a close a mere four chapters after it ends.
  • Due to Schedule Slip and several other plots along the way, the journey to Elfheim in Berserk lasted all the way from June 2001, when the place was first mentioned as a possible destination for Guts and Casca in Chapter 181, to November 2015, when they finally arrived in Chapter 342.
  • Black Butler and its various arcs just seem to get longer as the manga goes on, with the two initial arcs of Jack the Ripper and the Circus Arc ranging from short to decently long without getting annoying. The problems began later on.
    • The Campagnia Ship Arc was long, although it did reveal some twists, important characters and their development and began a potential long-running background plot, so the length could be excused.
    • The Weston College Arc was the beginning of a downfall. The arc was long and took place in a school, bringing a lot of boring chores that generally were not found in the manga before, and involved a sub-plot to reveal a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing which many fans think could've been cut without impacting the important mission Ciel had been given upon infiltrating the school. The kicker came when the mission was stalled to involve a Tournament Arc in the middle of it — once again, it was necessary to advance the plot but prolonged the arc to the point of the reader getting exhausted.
    • The Werewolf Arc in Germany is a mixture. The arc took around 20 chapters to complete, which sounds like very little, but was longer than the previous arcs and several chapters felt like nothing was going anywhere.
    • The Blue Cult arc. Ciel infiltrated originally because Lizzie had gone missing, and it involved some wackiness in the sense that the P4 from the Weston arc have become an idol group, but with sinister on-goings behind the titular cult's original means. Ciel creates a rival idol group called the Phantom 5 to expose the cult more, then the arc diverts into a different plot-thread, including the death of Agni and the revelation of the "true" Ciel Phantomhive returning, revealing that the 'Ciel' we've been following is his twin brother, having taken the name and identity of Ciel. After the latest revelation, the arc devolves into multiple Flashback chapters detailing the twins' life and how the events of the ritual that summoned Sebastian came into being. Interesting, but definitely a big side-track.
  • Black Lagoon: The Baile de la Muerte arc. It wrapped up at 33 chapters out of 76 total, and nearly four years of real-world time passed before the arc was over. It was also such a massive, confusing Gambit Pileup that even the series creator admitted it was dragging. Not a new trend, however, because previously Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise did the same at 16 out of 37 chapters. Baile de la Muerte is still more infamous among fans of the series, because immediately following the arc's conclusion, the manga was hit with Schedule Slip.
  • Bleach:
    • While it was a relatively minor offender compared to later storylines, the Soul Society Arc is said to have dragged on for longer than necessary because it expanded the cast by a factor of about three, and all the new characters needed time to be fleshed out. Compounding the problem was the sudden change of tone and format, going from a Monster of the Week Urban Fantasy to a much more action-oriented High Fantasy. Fans who were particularly fond of the coming-of-age teenage drama of the early chapters found the move towards more standard Shōnen fights disappointing.
    • The Arrancar Arc spanned Chapters 183-423, four publication years and an additional four anime years. The arc slowed down to a crawl as even minion fights were given lavish screen time. The arc spawned the meme "Are they still in Mexico?" and the anime often interrupted the canon storyline in mid-action to insert filler arcs whenever it caught up to the manga. The arc also ends up being divided into three sub-arcs — though the first of these arcs doesn't drag too much, Hueco Mundo became infamous for its visual monotony (hope you like plain white backgrounds), while "Fake Karakura" dedicates a lot of pagetime to characters with very little connection to the protagonists fighting villains who really only exist for the sake of fight scenes.
    • The first anime filler arc, the Bount Arc, heavily padded its episodes to include content that was pointless to both the storyline and setting. Despite minimal new characters (by Bleach standards), the arc was at least as long as the Soul Society Arc.
    • It happened again during the Blood War arc, specifically the start of the Vandenreich's second invasion of Soul Society. Complaints seem to be similar to those against the battle in Fake Karakura Town, namely that it's a seemingly endless series of fights against bad guys who usually only get a minimum of characterization before getting offed. However, the last leg of the arc ended up inverting this; due to the manga author's swiftly failing health, the manga was so abruptly wrapped up that the last stretch was heavily compressed and extremely rushed, with many new, game-changing plot points being brought up without ever really being fully touched upon.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun has the Dream Ranker arc. The first half consists of two mini-arcs and bits of filler that have barely anything to do with the main plot of the arc. In fact, the actual plot doesn't really start until the arc's halfway point.
  • Death Note:
    • The Yotsuba Arc drags on, with the investigation team trying to figure out who the Kira in the titular Yotsuba company is and part of the intense atmosphere is lost by Light having forfeited his ownership of the Death Note as part of a Memory Gambit and hence has lost all memory of said Death Note, Ryuk or his being Kira, which makes working alongside L not as thrilling as some readers might have thought.
    • The rest of the manga after a Time Skip is this, calling it the Near/Mello Arc, or a complete Myth Stall as it ranges over half of the manga and eventually ends it. Post-Time Skip, Light is the de facto leader of the investigation team after L's death and the new opposites are Near and Mello, Suspiciously Similar Substitutes of L and neither quite reaches the intense rivalry between them and Light that the latter had with L. Coupling this with Gambit Pileup after Gambit Pileup and feeling like even Light has lost the desire to really do his job as Kira and you have a prolonged discussion of trying to outsmart the other which doesn't come to full circle until the last 10 chapters, by which point the reader might be extremely bored. Ironic as the series was originally written as a Take That! towards dragged-out storylines, something author Tsugumi Ohba identifies as a Pet-Peeve Trope.
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Tamers begins to drag the hell out when the D-Reaper shows up in Tokyo, kidnaps Juri, traps Culumon with her inside, and starts spreading. Several episodes are dedicated to complicated research, lots of Techno Babble, introducing new characters, Juri angsting nonstop (not without reason, but the narration stretches it to tedious levels), etc. And it keeps going, and going, and going, without any real developments...
    • Digimon Frontier suffered from this with the appearance of the Royal Knights. Most of the Digidestined are sidelined in favor of Takuya and Koji, and each encounter with the Knights ends with the Digidestined being defeated, with some angsting from Koichi. Thankfully, the introduction of Lucemon ends this pattern.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball: Even before Dragon Ball Z, the series had its fair share of filler and padding to avoid catching up to the source material, but it got especially bad during the Red Ribbon Army saga. It reached its absolute nadir in the General Blue portions, which include episodes where Goku and friends spend the whole time running around in circles to escape a robot pirate, with certain shots and sequences of animation repeated over and over again. It all results in an arc that takes a lot longer to get through in the anime than it did in the manga.
    • Dragon Ball Z overall is an example so infamous that Dragon Ball Z Kai's advertising flaunted it being a shorter recut as a selling point, and is considered a better experience if you're not watching in Japanese. In the original manga, the Frieza and Cell sagas are of the exact same length and are tied for longest arc in the series (the Buu Saga has more chapters than both, but they tend to have much lower page counts). A classic joke is "How long does it take a Saiyan to screw in a lightbulb?"Answer
    • The Namek/Frieza Saga(s) are by far the most (in)famous. "Are they still on Namek?" (the original name for this trope) has become the standard meme when referring to any story arc that seems to be dragging on for too long.
      • Several of the episodes consist of just characters speaking or flying from one place to another, with very few fight sequences to break it all up (since the story is like a game of chess, told 22 minutes a week). One episode, "Bulma and the Crabs", is complete filler — it starts with Bulma tricking two of Frieza's henchmen into looking for the Dragon Balls, then turns into a Bizarro Episode after the henchmen are gone since it has no impact on the saga's plot at all. Part of this pacing is because the anime was constantly at risk of overtaking the manga: when Goku first went Super Saiyan in the anime, it was a scant three chapters behind the manga, so Toei had to constantly write in excuses to delay the events unfolding. After this point, they opted to take weeks off and insert filler arcs wholesale to give the manga a chance to get further ahead, resulting in the ten-episode Garlic Jr. Saga after Frieza's defeat and the five-episode Other World Saga after the Cell Games.
      • Protracted fights were also a killer, with the climactic battle against Frieza being the longest in the series. Not only is it a full arc of its own, it makes up a third of the Namek storyline, featuring only a handful of grossly outmatched heroes fighting against a seemingly Invincible Villain. To spice things up, we have a side story of the Earthlings attempting to join the heroes, except that would take them three weeks so the audience already knows this won't go anywhere.
      • Namek also has a limited cast of characters stuck on planet Namek, a world where everything is one of two colors (green sky and water, blue grass and trees) and there are nothing but ocean archipelagos, topped off with an eternal daytime due to multiple suns, making for a visually monotonous arc. It's also very underdeveloped: the local population is low and occupy about seven tiny villages, almost all of which have been wiped out by the time the heroes even arrive (there's a total of three living Namekians for most of the story, none of whom do very much). It says a lot that the planet starting to fall apart is one of the most interesting things that happens, simply because the weather is different. By contrast, the following storylines, the Android and Buu Sagas, are set on Earth, about the most diverse location imaginable.
      • The experience varied per region, but none got off without some hurt. In Japan, the entire series was broadcast just one episode a week. In the US, the anime went through a dubbing change as Funimation went in-house, resulting in the anime re-running several times over, so audiences sat through half the Namek Arc only to be taken back to Raditz yet again. And the first episode when they eventually did get back? "Bulma and the Crabs."
    • The Cell Games. Midway through Episode 190, Cell starts to charge up a Kamehameha. Following a flashback, Goku telepathically tells Gohan that he can still win this, and Gohan starts preparing his own Kamehameha. The two launch their attacks right at the beginning of the next episode — and are deadlocked for the entire episode. This lasted one chapter in the manga, too, but 14 pages aren't exactly the same as 22 minutes. Overall, however, the Cell Saga gets off lighter than Namek simply due to actually being able to change location/scenery.
    • This is also a common accusation given to the Buu Saga, since many different attempts are made at killing him and every single one fails despite weeks of build-up. It lasts 70 episodes, and for 60 of them the heroes are either fighting him or figuring out how to fight him, which not even the Namek Arc did! A major component of this is that after the death of Babidi, which happens relatively early, the Buu Saga really only has one villain to work with (albeit one with multiple forms and personalities), which is Buu himself. What's more, Buu can regenerate from any damage with no apparent limit, and seems to have limitless stamina as well. This causes a lot of scenes in the arc to feel rather pointless, as the main characters aren't making any apparent progress in stopping the villain, with every attempt ending in him just regrowing all the damage dealt. It doesn't help that two such attempts to kill him (Gotenks and Ultimate Gohan) actually served to make him stronger.
    • This phenomena is lampshaded in Dragon Ball Z Abridged when Krillin randomly notes at one point that "We're still on Namek!" in the twenty-fourth episode. They land on Namek in the thirteenth, while the entire Saiyan Saga is covered in ten episodes. For the record, the Frieza Saga clocks in at twenty episodes, the last of which is again not half as long, not twice as long, but triple the length of the regular TFS parody episodes, which means they actually spent approximately 22 episodes on Namek.
      • TFS' Dragon Ball Z Kai Abridged Episode 2 manages to condense the Frieza Saga even further down to seven minutes in length... which is still around three times longer than DBZ Kai Abridged 1 covering the Saiyan Saga, which clocks in at two minutes and 10 seconds.
    • The Universe Survival Saga from Dragon Ball Super is inconsistently hit with arc fatigue. After a setup that takes twenty episodes, mostly spent gathering team members and watching the arena be built (for the former, the intro made Universe 7's whole lineup clear beforehand except for Frieza replacing Buu), the actual tournament starts. Initially, it was well-received for its wild action and Visual Effects of Awesome. However, as the tournament goes on for significantly longer than even the Future Trunks arc — despite, in classic Dragon Ball fashion, the tournament only lasting 48 minutes in-universe — it starts to fall into fatigue territory. While some fans enjoy the unique battles and non-stop action, others criticize many of the fights for being glorified Filler that lack plot progression or emotional impact. This reaches a head when Jiren takes prominence as the clear Arc Villain, doing away much of the tension and appeal of a Battle Royale since it's clear from early on that it will come down to a final battle between Jiren and Goku in his latest Super Mode, while the other battles just serve to waste time and whittle down the cast. Not helped at all by Jiren himself being a very divisive character for his personality, effortless defeating of multiple popular characters, and what is perceived to be a poorly done Freudian Excuse.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • For a manga that is generally good at keeping its arcs at a short length without rushing them, the series has the Grand Magic Games arc, which is over 70 chapters long. The first part of the arc (which is about the Fairy Tail world's equivalent of the Olympic Games) isn't too bad, with most games and fights usually only lasting somewhere in-between a half chapter and two chapters. However, the final day of the Games keeps going for over 20 chapters. Meanwhile, several of the 20 chapters are spent on a side-plot about Natsu and his friends, who are captured in the royal castle. They do almost nothing but fight Cannon Fodder soldiers and executioners, who just keep returning only to get beaten again.
    • The arc dealing with the last dark guild standing, Tartaros, is also accused of this, despite generally being considered one of the best arcs in the story. This is specifically because of two points near the end. The first is the countdown of Face. We start with it seemingly getting destroyed about 10 chapters after it emerges, only to reveal 3000 more and initiate another countdown that actually reaches 0, then we flash back to 20 minutes earlier and have several chapters ultimately leading to the same chapter, ending as it goes off just to keep the cliffhanger... and it's immediately destroyed by the Dragon Slayers' long-lost parents. The second is the way the chapters juggle several concurrent fights, often without any significant progression at all.
    • The Grand Finale, the Alvarez Empire arc, lasted 107 chapters in all, but that's not what tends to bother fans. What does so is the fact that this arc has to juggle the largest cast of characters the manga had ever seen, both new and returning heroes and villains, while setting the scene for the largest battles of the series and dropping the last and biggest plot revelations. By the time of the final battles with Zeref and Acnologia, several fans were of the opinion that so much time was spent on buildup, fights and rematches with the Spriggan 12, and twists that it made them feel rushed by comparison.
  • Fist of the North Star: "Is Raoh still alive?" Raoh's second battle with Kenshiro (which came after several near-death experiences for Raoh and several chapters' worth of what felt like padding) felt climactic and final, and Raoh's escape and continued survival for another ~10 chapters after that raised the story arc's Ending Fatigue to new heights. Then in Volume 24: Big Bad's gone, everything resolved, story's over, right? Wrong.
  • Food Wars!:
    • The "Fall Classic" arc lasted for more than 50 chapters, with the preliminaries spending 10 chapters or so to highlight the dishes made by numerous side characters (whom very few readers cared about) and its subsequent judging. The main tournament itself contains seven individual matches, each spanning at least five chapters, that by the time the finals come around, most readers have gotten tired of it and want the plot to move on already.
    • Surpassing the "Fall Classic" arc is the Central saga which lasted for 131 chapters, two and a half years in Real Life.
    • The final Les Cuisinier Noir/BLUE Tournament Arc was 51 chapters long. As the plot progressed, the author began to skip too many rounds and the main Soma vs. Asahi round was needlessly increased to eight chapters. Rather than focusing on the cooking, the arc is mostly dedicated towards Asahi's antics and Erina's parental issues.
  • Two simultaneous battles taking place in Guyver last ten entire books with little else going on. For comparison, the first book covered the hero's birth, death, resurrection, and initial defeat of the Chronos Corporation.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya's anime adaptation has the Endless Eight arc. Eight episodes of the exact same events with minor variations, adapted from a single short story from the original novels, which only concerned one particular time loop (the last one), and was about at most 30 pages. Eight episodes equals almost three hours. This angered fans who wanted an epic six-episode adaptation of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, the fourth novel in the series. The latter did come out as a feature-length movie, however: what was at the time the second-longest animated feature ever created, at 2 hours 42 minutes in length (one minute shorter than Final Yamato, the record-holder until the extended cut of In This Corner of the World in 2019). In hindsight, though, many still wish they would've adapted the arc into the anime, rather than dragging out a chapter across eight episodes just so the arc could be adapted into a movie.
  • The first novel of In/Spectre greatly concerned itself over Steel Lady Nanase and the extensive efforts to weaken the Internet's perceptions that give her power. Its anime and manga adaptations didn't truncate this, so their retellings of the arc became abnormally long — in the anime, it starts in the middle of Episode 3 and lasts all the way to the final episode, while in the manga it starts in the middle of Volume 1 and goes all the way to the end of Volume 6.
  • Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: While it does give some valuable backstory to Ryu Lion, the Calamity Arc carries on for a long period of time in the fourth season of the anime. What doesn't help matters is that there's an endless feeling of gloominess and despair in many of the episodes, stretched out over the course of 17 episodes in a 22-episode season. And many of those episodes basically amount to Bell and Ryu or Bell's Familia going through endless stretches of the dungeon with very little to no change in scenery, facing neverending hordes of monsters, and suffering from fatigue and debilitating injuries over and over again. While one may appreciate the idea of Bell and Ryu getting more time together, the formula used to bring them closer in this arc can start feeling downright tedious after a while, especially since the franchise has generally been pretty good at avoiding Arc Fatigue and the feeling of fun one might normally get from the Danmachi series can quite easily turn into a feeling of bleakness and agitation for the story arc to finally wrap things up.
  • While the art and storytelling of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has significantly improved following the manga's shift from Weekly Shonen Jump to Ultra Jump, many can agree that it came at the cost of significantly dragging out the pace of it, due to Ultra Jump updating monthly instead of weekly. Case in point, the first seinen-oriented arc, Steel Ball Run, took seven years, two months, and 17 days to tell its story, compared to previous parts only taking two or three yearsnote , and many readers lamented the fact that JoJolion was in print for nearly a decade before it finally settled on who its Big Bad was.
  • The Backstory arc of Kaze to Ki no Uta takes up six volumes out of a total 17. Usually, backstory arcs take up a few chapters and it does give readers some background to some characters, but that particular arc drags on way longer than it should have.
  • The late episodes of Lady Jewelpet involving the Beasts and the Door to Chaos are often considered the weakest part of the show. It seems to go on forever with several characters going through melodramatic deaths that aren't (in at least one case, multiple times), Momona's indecision being a retread of Chiari's, and Elena's tacked-on character development.
  • Land of the Lustrous: The Moon arc takes up 70% of the manga's runtime and was full of moments the fandom were not fans of, from the focus on Aechmea and Cairngrom's uncomfortable relationship to the absolute torture that Phos goes through to the very slow reveal of the Moon Prince's plans, involving quite a few red herrings. The slow pace was exacerbated by the series going on hiatus multiple times during the Moon arc, including a two-year hiatus that is seen as killing off most of the series' hype.
  • Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic suffered from this during the climax of the Magnostadt Academy arc where the continued use of The Worf Barrage stalls the battle against the Medium for the sole purpose of gathering every major character introduced in the story so far. Despite the increase of noteworthy people in the area, the Medium is no closer to being defeated now than it was fifteen chapters ago, and was finally defeated moments after the last two primary characters, Hakuryuu and Judar, entered the fray.
  • The anime version of MÄR has this problem not because of the length of the filler arcs per se, but because they threw so many at the most incorrect moments. It goes like this: Snow is captured near the end of Round 6, Ginta wants to rescue her but first must fight Ian — okay, fair enough. Then they prepare to leave but Phantom shows up and says they need to do the final round first. Okay, fine, so they go through the Gate of Training, which turns into a filler arc about the cast being sent to an illusion of Tokyo created from Ginta's memories, Then they get back and some minor villains from way back when are causing trouble so they have to deal with that. 'Then the final round starts and goes on for a while, and once Phantom is beaten, they need a special ÄRM to get them to the castle to rescue Snow, which leads to a filler episode about hunting down the Referee of the tournament, followed by two more episodes about fixing Babbo who broke in the battle against Phantom and THEN one more episode about Ian for no reason. The ultimate irony is it only actually takes them one episode to rescue Snow. But due to so much unnecessary filler padding, it goes on forever. Snow is captured in Episode 58 and not rescued until freaking Episode 84!
  • Marvel Anime:
    • Marvel Anime: Wolverine:
      • The series is only 12 episodes long; one entire episode is just Wolverine fighting Omega Red; the fight spills over into the start of the next episode; and Omega Red still comes back at the end of that next episode.
      • The entire second half of the series is built around Wolverine going to the island of Madipoor, where the Big Bad has set up his base. There's a full three episodes (that's a quarter of the entire series) between Wolverine arriving on Madripoor and actually going to fight the Big Bad. These episodes were spent building dull and completely irrelevant characters, side-plots that are uninteresting and have little payoff, and a filler episode where Wolverine has to rescue Yukio.
    • Wolverine wasn't the only Marvel Anime series to suffer from this: the X-Men series completely switches plot lines halfway through the series, so a good three or so straight episodes are just solid exposition while nothing really happens. Again: 12 episodes total.
  • My Hero Academia: The Internship Arc's total size is slightly more than twice the size of the previous longest arc, for a total of 46 chapters. The arc dragged on over the course of a year, which says a lot in a manga that typically features very short and to-the-point arcs. Adopting the "flashback in the middle of fights" trope that the manga had mostly avoided before that point certainly made the fights longer than what's usual for the manga (some of which were chapters long). The author himself admitted near the end of the arc that it was too long and many fans were vocal that the arc, while good, was beginning to overstay its welcome.
  • Naruto is usually good about preventing arcs from lasting too long, but...
    • The final arc, taking a day and a half In-Universe, went on for about three years. The initial action mainly serves to give the side characters A Day in the Limelight, with the overall plot not really advancing until Naruto arrives. Then the fighting turns into a tug-of-war marathon, with each side endlessly churning out increasingly powerful techniques. During this, the actual main antagonist changed at least seven times, with some villains getting the focus multiple times each, and with several of them declaring that everything has gone All According to Plan for them. When the war finally ends, Sasuke declares he will take over the world to reform the shinobi system, triggering the long-awaited final battle between him and Naruto. While the author had already stated that the final battle would be between them and Naruto, it still felt like yet another extension to an already bloated arc.
    • The anime has the Three-Tails filler arc. It contains some ideas that would make for an interesting three or four episodes but instead goes on for an exasperating 23 episodes.
    • The original anime (i.e. pre-Time Skip) had a lengthy filler arc, which was technically dozens of small filler arcs and episodes right after each other. Now, a few filler episodes here and there doesn't hurt. But when the last 80+ episodes in the series are all filler... It starts to get a bit jarring. Even the final arc, which ends with Naruto and Jiraiya leaving to train, isn't even canon, but it does set things up for his return in the first episode of Shippuden.
  • One single fight in the NEEDLESS anime takes nine episodes out of 24.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • The School Festival got its third day of "dates with Negi" cut in favor of the "Battle for Mahora". At least in this case, there was a Tournament Arc thrown in the middle for variety. Akamatsu had realized the arc was starting to drag and decided to drop a few mini-arcs on the tail end to avoid making the problem worse.
    • The Magical World arc may have dragged on more than needed as well. It finally ended, taking nearly half the manga's run to complete.
  • One Piece:
    • In the Enies Lobby arc, the backstory of the main villain, Rob Lucci, is cut down from a full flashback to a brief summary. The author stated that this is because the arc, combined with the Water 7 arc that precedes it and leads directly into its events, was already running quite long, and a flashback in the middle of the climactic fight would have slowed the pacing down even more. The flashback is shown in full in the anime.
    • The Skypeia arc also caught some flak for this, given its length compared to, at the time, its relative unimportance note  to the rest of the story. The real punch to the gut in the Skypeia arc is that Luffy's fight with the Big Bad "ends" a full 17 chapters before the Big Bad is finally "defeated." The seven-chapter-long flashback doesn't help, interrupting the arc's climax in favor of two months of exposition.
    • The Straw Hat Separation Saga and especially the Marineford arc are also considered this, as the concept puts everyone but Luffy Out of Focus, and the latter is largely one very drawn-out battle sequence. The Straw Hats set out for the Sabaody Archipelago in Chapter 490. By the time they've split up, taken a level in badass, met up again, and then finally began the voyage to Fishman Island, it's Chapter 602. That's 112 chapters, not including the month-long hiatus that the manga went on during the time skip. Marineford is even longer in the anime, particularly the large string of episodes where it feels like Luffy is forever running across the ice trying to reach the platform where Ace is being held captive.
    • Fishman Island in the anime. Due to the anime's "one episode equals one chapter" pacing, Fishman Island really drags on TV. All subsequent arcs fall victim to this too, or worse — some episodes in the Punk Hazard arc use only half of a chapter's worth of story. One such episode consists almost solely of Sanji, Nami, Franky, and Chopper running across a day care room with little happening besides banter.
    • Dressrosa is the longest arc in the series up to that point by a large margin, lasting exactly one hundred chapters; the aforementioned Skypiea Arc lasts only 66 chapters. The fact that the arc has loads of characters, even by One Piece standards, did it no favors. It also sets up other imminent events in addition to those already ongoing, building up anticipation for the arc itself to get itself over with. True to form, the Dressrosa Arc in the anime was historically slow. Much of every episode's content drastically extends the scenes with the Tontatta or the coliseum fights, as well as adding in tons of things to stall the Straw Hats. In fairness, the huge cast is semi-justified as many characters in the arc end up becoming part of the Straw Hat Grand Fleet, but it still drags in many fans eyes.
    • Whole Cake Island is something of a drag to get through, largely because the initial objective — retrieving Sanji — is accomplished midway through the arc. But Sanji doesn't want his family to die, despite their actions toward him earlier (save his sister), so a wedding crash is planned for Sanji's upcoming wedding in order to kill Big Mom. The plan somewhat works (they save Sanji's family), but they fail to kill their target, forcing the heroes to flee. Overall, the finale of the Whole Cake Island gets the worst of it, as it's a really long Escape Sequence of the Straw Hats trying to escape the island that goes on for about 30 chapters. Luffy gets pulled into a literal mirror dimension to fight one of Big Mom's eldest children, Katakuri, and Sanji decides to bake a cake to appease Big Mom that ends up taking 10 hours to prepare, leaving the rest of the crew having to survive against Big Mom and her forces till then. Harrowing? Yes. But many fans likewise grew frustrated how long it went on before it eventually ended.
    • The Wano Country arc dwarfs Dressrosa with a four-year story that takes a while to get to its climax. And said climax dominates a majority of the arc, with shifts in fights either getting interrupted or swapped out with different opponents. Similar to Dressrosa, it's somewhat excusable in that there were a lot of characters to cover, but by the time Luffy and Kaido reached the climax of their battle, a good chunk of readers were more than ready to move on. It didn't help that the COVID-19 Pandemic happened around this point, causing a number of breaks in-between chapters.
  • One-Punch Man:
    • The martial-arts Tournament Arc that lasted from Chapters 58 to 71 in the manga ended up being quite fatiguing for some readers, particularly with ONE and Murata's long pauses. Since the focus is on a massive monster breakout that occurs during the tournament, this results in many one-off heroes battling the monsters, rather than on Saitama’s arc. As a result, many feel that the arc detracts from the central plot. It also doesn't help that the arc can be seen as "Filler" note  for being smack dab in the middle of the ongoing "Hero Hunter Garou Arc", which is a sore spot for the fans that wish to finally see the Garou storyline conclude.
    • What can be summed up as the "Monster Association" arc or the Human Monster Saga in relation to Garou suffers from excessive Padding and redraws of already finished chapters. Beginning in July of 2017 with Chapter 78, the plot has fallen to a snail's pace because of the number of chapters spent on the Heroes fighting random one-off monsters that don't add much to the storytelling other than showing off the powers of the heroes. The "final battle" between Tatsumaki and the Monster Queen Psykorochi started in early 2020, and they were only defeated in early 2021. The arc itself ended with Chapter 170 in August 2022, making it over half of the entire series in length.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Effectively every arc excluding the Orange Islands is prone to this, as the series' source material (apart from a couple of filler arcs) is a game whose installments are released three to four years apart rather than a weekly manga.
    • Kanto is only around 80 episodes depending on the inclusion/disregard of a couple banned episodes. However, it has one particularly long gap that occurred between the sixth and seventh Gym Badges at 27 episodes (29 if you count "Holiday Hi-Jynx" and "Snow Way Out"). There are also about 10 episodes of Filler after the eighth Badge, which amount to Ash sitting at home waiting for the Kanto League to start. It was around this time that the producers realized they had a hit on their hands, so they had to extend the series in some way before the release of the Johto games. (Hence, the 36-episode-long Orange Islands arc, which serves as a substitute for an Elite Four arc.)
    • Johto: 158 episodes, compounded by the fact that there is only one main quest (Contests and the like would not be introduced until the next season). Some contend that the Whirl Islands Tournament and special guest arcs could've been removed, but that would have had the tied-for-fourth longest gap between Badges (27 episodes) succeeded by what would have been the shortest gap (1 episode, usurping Kanto's Boulder-Cascade's and Marsh-Rainbow gaps of 2).note 
    • Hoenn: 132 episodes. It's made more bearable by the addition of Contests, though a case can be made for the Petalburg-Rustboro and Dewford Island arcs, which are early on and paced slowly. The Team Aqua and Team Magma arcs suffer the reverse of this, as many feel they could have had more focus and buildup than they got, and the conclusion to their arc is seen as rushed.
    • Battle Frontier: 60 episodes. Inverted in that most of the filler is in the beginning, leading to a faster pace with the rest of the arc. This is exemplified by the gap between Ash earning his 1st and 2nd Frontier Symbols, which lasted 13 episodes. Not helped by the fact that it's within the middle of this gap that the infamous VA switch happened for the English Dub, which will surely throw people off getting used to the new voices. The gap between the 6th and 7th Symbols is also quite long at 22 episodes, which was a result of having to wrap up May's Kanto Contest journey along with Ash having to battle Pyramid King Brandon three times.
    • Sinnoh: 191 episodes. As much as the two Ruby and Sapphire series combined. It also holds the record for both the longest and second-longest gaps between Gym Battles, with 31 episodes between Gardenia and Maylene and 52 episodes between Candice and Volkner.note  Granted, these gaps develop the buildup and resolution, respectively, of both the Contest and Team Galactic arcs, and are further justified by the distance between those two Gyms, but that still means that the main quest is demoted to C-Plot status twice.
    • The Unova series averts this trope with its fast pace, but that results in the 142-episode saga suffering from a different trope. Ash gets all eight of his Badges in 84 episodes, though the gap between #3 and #4 is pretty long (27 episodes, T-4th). After various arcs of padding and filler,Details there's the stock-standard Tournament Arc with a stock-standard length of 7 episodesnote  which is more contentious for its results than its pacing. This is followed by a 14-episode arc revolving around N and Team Plasma, which people are heavily divided on. The quick pace ultimately resulted in the last 5 months prior to the release of the Gen VI games having an Orange Islands/Battle Frontier-style round of pure, aimless island-hopping filler, only without a pseudo-tournament like those arcs had. The subsequent ratings drop shows the extent of the wear and tear.
    • Kalos: 140 episodes. The next chapter of the series started off on a rough note with the drop in ratings that occurred during BW's Decolore Islands arc. Its first season is bogged down by Filler and Padding after the first ten episodes. Serena is virtually pointless until finally discovering a goal for herself around 40 episodes in, and the Kalos gang is forced to take part in a sidequest with Guest-Star Party Member Korrina for several episodes that hardly anyone got invested in due to there being no payoff in the end for helping her complete her quest to properly use a Lucarionite. It takes until Ash gets his seventh Gym Badge before Team Flare even appears. At this point, the plot pics up momentum, especially when Ash's Greninja obtains an exclusive form.
    • Alola: Coming off the high from the XY&Z saga, the plot changed drastically from one where Ash travels from Gym to Gym to earn Badges to one where he attends a Pokémon School. Not only does Ash generally stay in one place, but the human cast size is the largest of any series, with Ash and five other recurring classmates. The Island Trials are present as well, but the pace is a bit slower due to how many characters the show has to juggle. Of the 146 episodes, the first major arc that isn't focused on a trial or obtaining a Z-Crystal are mostly Slice of Life filler. The plot goes by faster by the third arc, though the tournament arc lasts 16 episodes. Not bad considering this is the one where Ash finally wins a Conference, but even this includes filler, with the gang facing a Giant Space Flea from Nowhere just to add some drama along to the climax.
    • Galar/Journeys: 136 episodes. The show has one main arc: the World Coronation Series. However, despite mostly focusing on one plot, the show does its best to avert this. Ash and Goh never stay in one place for very long, as the series takes place all over the world rather than staying in Galar getting the eight badges. Instead, each major battle that isn't against Team Rocket is part of the tournament arc. The World Coronation Series takes the place of a Wyndon Conference, with many trainers around the world taking part. The show generally did a great job at keeping the pace up. In the west, where it moved exclusively to streaming on Netflix, multiple dubbed episodes release at the same time in chunks, preventing any backlash about waiting for the plot to move on. The final tournament takes 13 episodes cumulatively to complete, but in a change from previous series, it is bridged by episodes focusing on Goh and Chloe that aren't counted towards the tournament arc. Even after the tournament arc ends, it is quick to resolve the other characters' myth arcs in 3 episodes. However, while the final battle between Ash and Leon is well-received, the relatively weak animation for several major battles in the series coupled with Goh’s controversial reception had many people counting down the days until Journeys ended.
  • In Reborn! (2004), the Future Arc, which lasted 146 chapters out of a total of 271 chapters. This means that arc is actually longer than the rest of the arcs combined! The storyline had been stretched to the point where battles have just been rehashed (e.g. the choice battle which ended up amounting to nothing other than a bit of exposition at the end) as well as introducing new characters that could have only been done to stretch the plot: "Let me introduce you to the real 6 Funeral Wreaths!" Thus rendering all of the other battles utterly pointless. The introduction of the motorbikes also adds to the meaningless filler since they were only used for five minutes before being destroyed.
  • The Asgard arc in Saint Seiya. One of the main appeals of Saint Seiya is that the fights, while epic, would last about one episode with a couple of exceptions. The problem with the Asgard arc is that every fight consisted of one of the Saints encountering a God Warrior, fight for about three episodes, the God Warrior gives a backstory and it repeats all over again. One fight in particular lasts four episodes. Ratings dropped so much that the series was Cut Short with the comparatively short Poseidon Saga and then no Hades Saga until years later. Unsurprisingly, this is the one arc that is 100% anime-only.
  • Shaman King:
    • The Golem arc is known for being a very slogging read to get through since a good chunk of it is focused on Chocolove's past, his being killed, the fight with the berserk golem and finally Chocolove coming back to finish the battle with his newfound power. Did not help that this was meant to be in between a Tournament Arc.
    • The final battle against Hao in the manga likewise wound up being this since it had the character being forced to fight the Patch Tribe before finally reaching him. Not helped at all that the manga had been cancelled before the group could finally reach him. The pacing did get a tad better once it was Un-Canceled though.
  • Sweet Blue Flowers:
    • The whole deal with Fumi's confession to Akira. Since the relationship between the girls is central to the story, this arc is stalled immensely, mostly by having a confused Akira run around in circles.
    • The first School Festival arc also dragged on much longer than necessary.
    • And then there's the whole story about Kyouko and Kou's engagement, which mainly seemed to serve to show that Kyouko is not lesbian after all.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- suffered from this by the final world, The Original Clow Country. It doesn't help that the story is one gigantic Continuity Snarl with a very interwoven plot.
  • Ultimate Muscle's Time Travel arc lasts for over five years, and goes on for more than 160 chapters. To put it in context, Yude spent more time on one tournament arc than any other arc previously.
  • Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest had a very, very, Squicky arc fatigue when Ms. Aoshika was horrifically gang-raped by Haguro and his Yakuza for nearly 18 chapters.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • From the beginning of the Battle City Finals in Yu-Gi-Oh! (the finals mind you) to the end took 63 episodes, including a 24-episode Filler Arc that could not have been placed worse.note  This is almost as bad in the manga, where the entirety of Battle City lasts for 128 chapters, 77 of which cover the finals, and this is without a Filler Arc — long enough that readers began to lose interest, thus forcing Takahashi to drop several plot points from the final arc and its denouement. For perspective, the Duelist Kingdom arc takes only 73 chapters (40 anime episodes) from start to finish, and all other arcs are shorter.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D’s started out with a number of fairly quick arcs that led into each other: the initial "escape from Satellite" arc, which lasts around five, the prison arc, which goes for seven, and the Fortune Cup arc, a tournament that is introduced in Episode 13 and concludes in Episode 26. The following episode introduces the Dark Signers, which lasts for around 38 episodes, but is still paced fairly well and has a lot happening. Then the following episode introduces the concept of the WRGP, another, grander-scale tournament, as well as the larger conspiracy of Yliaster... and then spends 33 episodes more or less spinning its wheels, hopping between one-off Monster of the Week episodes, plot points that go absolutely nowhere, a whole six-episode arc dedicated to resolving a minor character's story, and minimal development of the actual ongoing narrative; you could cut the whole thing down to about five episodes and not be confused in the slightest when the actual tournament starts in Episode 98. And then the WRGP Arc lasted another 39 episodes, which, due to the tournament's structure, consisted mainly of several very overlong Duels (the shortest one is a two-parter, the second-shortest is a four-parter, and two of them are seven-parters), when prior Duels rarely went above two episodes in length and only one of the Duels (barring the attack on the city that takes place outside the tournament) is actually seriously tied in with the ongoing plot. Not helping matters at all is that the tournament's format also meant that only three main characters ever get any Duels, and nearly every match is ultimately won by local Invincible Hero Yusei. And if that wasn't enough, this still doesn't fully resolve the plot of Yliaster, leading to a further fifteen-episode arc. So that's a total of 87 episodes, more than half the show, that was dedicated to a single storyline that could likely have been wrapped up in less than half that.
    • The Synchro Dimension arc Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V started off with a clear purpose of rallying the dimension's people to fight against the evil Academia. The problem is that the characters are separated upon arrival (for some reason) and, given no direction, just run around like chickens with their heads cut off before getting arrested for suspicious activity. They then get thrown in jail, meet and befriend a prisoner, get caught during an escape, and are forced to take part in a Tournament Arc in order to show the authority of the city they're in that they are powerful enough to fight against Academia. While the padding allowed them to do some worldbuilding and introduce Crow and Shinji, the plot could have easily gone straight to the Friendship Cup and built on things there, rather than spend 13 episodes of the characters wandering around without a goal beyond "let's just get back together and go from there." What makes it particularly problematic is that the arc effectively began in episode 54 and ended in Episode 99, a 46-episode run, while the Xyz Dimension arc lasted about 14 episodes and the Fusion Dimension arc lasted around 23. This sounds bad before you realize that the entire first season had been about building up the conflict between Xyz and Fusion, while Synchro was tangentially involved at best, and most elements established in Synchro stayed contained to it.
    • Though the Zarc arc in ARC-V isn't actually that long, lasting five episodes, it falls into this for being dedicated to a single duel, and for four of those episodes just being all the other protagonists trying and failing to scratch him before getting flattened. The fact that it was pretty obvious from the beginning how it was going to end didn't help it. And then, even though the Big Bad is defeated, it gets followed up by eight episodes of rather directionless duels held together with the excuse of making an evil baby smile.
  • Yuri is My Job!:
    • The events of the month of July, in which, among other things, Mitsuki confesses to Hime and Hime nearly resigns from the salon stretch from the start of Volume 5 to near the end of Volume 8, about half of the series to that point. Minman acknowledged that the arc would drag on for a while, lampshading in Volume 7 that "We've spent the past three volumes of the series in the month of July!"
    • For anime viewers, the Blume election arc dragged on too long, taking up almost all of the second half of the first season. While this wasn't nearly as long as the aforementioned arc (lasting from the end of Volume to to just before the end of Volume 4), the length grew frustrating to people who wanted to see more of the main couple — Hime and Mitsuki — and/or didn't like Kanoko.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • The Knightfall story arc (including its two "sequels", KnightQuest and KnightsEnd) dragged on for about a year and a half — and that's not even counting the buildup that began months before the arc took off, with plenty of Early-Bird Cameos and Chekhov's Guns... or the aftermath, including the story arcs Prodigal and Troika, which took another year or more to wrap up quite a few loose ends. The story also crossed over into every Batman title. All told, the Knightfall saga cast its shadow over the Batman mythos from 1992 to 1996 and encompassed more than 200 individual comics. Worst of all, untold numbers of fans hated it.
    • This is one of the biggest criticisms of Tom King's run on Batman: it was originally supposed to last 100 issues, and the story arcs were seemingly stretched out to fit. Batman and Catwoman getting engaged got over a year of buildup, with the series dedicating itself to featuring their relationship and impending wedding for seventeen straight issues plus a "Prelude to the Wedding" tie-in miniseries, before finally ending at Issue #50 with Catwoman abandoning Batman at the altar and the status quo being restored. Later came "Knightmares", a five-month-long arc where Batman lies in a machine hallucinating his worst fears one at a time. The run was ultimately shortened to 85 issues, but even the final story arc "City of Bane" spent whole issues with Batman and Catwoman working out their relationship on a beach, as opposed to the fairly urgent main plot (Bane taking over Gotham City and controlling an army of villains).
  • Brian Michael Bendis's decompressed style of storytelling tends to turn any arc into this, primarily because it involves a lot of issues where... nothing happens, only to be resolved suddenly in the last issue. The end result is readers screaming "Get on with it!" even for relatively brief six-issue arcs:
  • Dark Reign. Hope you liked the patently ludicrous idea of America willingly giving Norman Osborn complete control, because every issue of every Marvel book in 2009 dealt with nothing but how Norman Osborn controls the world.
  • Crisis Crossover Forever Evil (2013) ended up falling into arc fatigue. The main reason was that Trinity War, an event DC had been shilling for over a year, turned out to merely be a lead-in to Forever Evil. Add in a generally sluggish pace magnified by the main series being delayed — the seventh issue came three months after the sixth — and you had readers making a lot of jokes about the title.
  • The "Thy Kingdom Come" arc in Justice Society of America. It's actually a rather well-written arc, but it's pretty padded out (the three specials towards the end could have easily been worked into the main issues). It took up almost all of (if not every) 2008 issue of the title.
  • There were a couple of these in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • A plot of Tails being the Ancient Walker's The Chosen One was hinted at in the comic's early days, and then continued to drag on for years on end, with most stuff related to it merely being teased or hinted at. When the story was finally the focus of the 150th issue Milestone Celebration, the result (Tails joining forces with his counterparts from parallel universes to fight Mammouth Mogul) might have sounded cool on paper, but in execution, it turned into one of the comic's most infamous examples of Narm and was considered, at best, an underwhelming climax for a story that had been moving in slow motion for so long. It was hinted that would be even more to the storyline, but when Ian Flynn shortly thereafter took over as headwriter for the comic, he ended up putting an effective stop to it as a part of his extensive rework of the comic.
    • The "Iron Dominion" arc. A saga that lasted well over a year, encompassing 17 issues, and left even die-hard fans of the series and its writer screaming for it to end. Why? Two things are universal: it suffered from a grievous overabundance of pacing issues and Snap Backs, mostly through the heroes and villains taking turns holding the Idiot Ball.
    • There's also the "Mecha Sally Arc", which also encompassed 17 issues and last well over a year. Tragic thing, though, is that the Arc didn't get to actually end due to the book going through a major lawsuit that ultimately ended in a rather complicated settlement, forcing the comic to instigate a continuity reboot right when Mecha Sally finally got captured by the heroes.
    • Although the clear winner for this trope in Archie Sonic is the Shattered World Crisis, an incredibly loose adaptation of Sonic Unleashed that officially began in Issue 257 and then ended after 30 issues, taking up three entire years of the comic! Although this can be somewhat justified as the whole arc was meant to be a Framing Device for smaller stories that would provide quick Worldbuilding for the comic after the forced reboot erased the then established world-building. And things probably wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for Worlds Unite interrupting the story and Archie Comics delaying the release of the book for the entire winter of 2016, making the arc last even longer than it should've.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW)'s lead writer Ian Flynn freely admits to Writing for the Trade, so some of this may have been inevitable.
    • While the first arc more or less avoided this, the following Metal Virus storyline dragged on for over a year, which may not have been so bad if said arc didn't mostly involve the heroes constantly losing everything they have, lovable characters turning, being horrifically broken, or otherwise suffering, and the villains being borderline invincible. It was so dark that some readers found it hard to care what happened, and those fans who enjoyed the drama admitted it was starting to wear out its welcome after about eight full issues of it. The fact that the last few issues of the arc were subjected to mass Schedule Slip due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic didn't help matters. By the time the arc finally came to an end in late September 2020, it had lasted 21 issues (#13-32, plus the 2020 Annual one-off) — nearly two-thirds of the entire comic's run up to that point!
    • The very next arc, detailing the mystery of Belle the Tinkerer's origin, also suffered from arc fatigue. While it's much shorter, spanning eight issues in all, the Driving Question's answer was obvious from the start: Belle's creator is Dr. Eggman himself, specifically when he had amnesia earlier in the comic. Yet more Schedule Slip during the winter and spring of 2021 took its toll on the arc's pacing, and even after the "mystery" was solved, Belle's full Dark and Troubled Past still wasn't revealed until Issue 44 — almost a year after her debut ten issues prior. All this contributed to Belle's divisive status among fans, especially compared to other new characters such as Tangle and Whisper.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The Clone Saga was originally supposed to be a six-month arc, but after initial sales were good, Marvel's Marketing Department forcefully stretched out the story by nearly three years.
    • The Superior Spider-Man (2013) arc lasted nearly fifty issues, or a year and a half in real time. By the end, even people who had liked the premise were pretty tired of Spider-Man acting like a jerk and normally competent characters completely failing to notice Spidey was acting nothing like himself due to being possessed by Dr. Octopus.
    • And before all of them, there was the original Hobgoblin mystery, which suffered from endless fake-outs as well as changing writers with differing ideas about who should be under the mask until the readers and creators just wanted it to be over. Eventually, having killed off their only viable suspect, the creators revealed that it was the dead guy after all. And then almost twenty years later, a Retcon by the original writer resolved the whole thing rather more satisfactorily.
  • Superman:
    • The New Krypton arc unfortunately went down this path. The introduction of a wholly new population of Kryptonians was a strong and daring idea. The entire status quo of the Superman family was reworked and people were pleasantly surprised that writers had actually done something with the eternal MacGuffin that was the Bottle City of Kandor. But at some point along the way, it became apparent that the story was not going anywhere, that the entire World of New Krypton title was in a holding pattern while the associated titles (Superman, Action Comics, Supergirl, later Adventure Comics) were engaged in crossover storylines. In the end, most of the arc served as setup for successive event stories rather than a story in and of itself.
    • Superman was killed off because Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was in production and the executives wanted to have them marry at the same time in both media, leading to a stalled marriage arc. This led to The Death of Superman which, if you include the return, ran over a year, generating huge sales and leading the writers to run long event arcs for the remainder of the decade at which point the fans were finally tired of it.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Titans Hunt was a complex and long story. It began with their members being kidnapped and Deathstroke hired to rescue them. Then we get a new villain society, a cheap Wolverine expy, a flying sheet, an unneeded trip to Russia, Cyborg turned into a complete robot, a new team of Titans from the future trying to kill Troia, and so on, and so on…
    • The Culling in the New 52. The first eight issues (most of a year) were built to get to this crossover with Legion Lost, and at the end, they don't even manage to defeat the bad guy.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW): While generally enjoyed, the Mutant Town arc was seen by some fans as dragging on after a while, since the series shifted into a quasi-Slice of Life format as the Turtles and their allies settled into their new situation, with no immediate movement for the Myth Arc in the meantime. What's more, nothing particularly significant even happened until the introduction of Dr. Barlow and Venus.
  • Transformers:
    • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye has had brushes with this on a few occasions:
      • The Elegant Chaos arc dragged a bit, not due to length or quality issues (it's only three issues long and has a lot of plot-important events) but because unexpected problems IDW encountered that resulted in issues suffering delays. This meant that there were massive gaps between issues and the plot-heavy nature of the arc meant that nothing could be skipped.
      • The Scavenger plotline sometimes gets accused of arc fatigue. The problem being that there are fairly large gaps between the Scavenger-focused arcs, so events and plot points set-up for them don't get paid off until about ten issues or so later.
      • The Transformers: Dark Cybertron crossover event isn't this for The Transformers: Robots in Disguise but it did cause fatigue for MTMTE. Whereas the crossover wrapped up a bunch of plotlines for RID, the events and characters in MTMTE don't really have any link to the crossover's driving force. Thus the crossover is a massive Plot Detour that just created a huge wait between Seasons 1 and 2 of MTMTE. By the end, the only things the crossover accomplished for MTMTE was the introduction of several important characters, only two of whom couldn't have just been introduced in a normal MTMTE arc.
    • The Nexus Prime storyline in Transformers: Timelines took a total of nine years to finish, thanks in no small part to Hasbro taking custody of the Thirteen for their future plans with the franchise, forcing Nexus Prime to be Exiled from Continuity for five years straight. This was eventually concluded with another arc that suffered this, the plot of Invasion, the comic story released in 2012 that saw the Classics universe being destroyed and its characters ending up in Shattered Glass, that didn't see proper continuation for a good three years.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man arcs tend to get accused of suffering from this due to Bendis' ridiculously slow pacing.
  • X-Men:
    • Many of the X-Men's outer space stories feel like this since they're always a departure from the book's mutant theme and are almost always economy-sized story arcs.
    • Many fans were hoping the Phoenix: Endsong miniseries would be the last Phoenix story after writers ran the concept into the ground. It wasn't.
  • The "Back From the Dead" arc from X-Statix, in which a generic celebrity (executive meddled from the planned Princess Diana) suddenly returns from the dead and, for no clear reason, takes over the team and forces them to do charity work, dragged on for months thanks to Marvel's Executive Meddling, and it seemed increasingly evident that Peter Milligan had no idea where to go with it. It almost singlehandedly killed the series (the move to the Marvel Knights line and the lackluster subsequent crossover with the Avengers finished the job).

    Comic Strips 
  • Apartment 3-G was like this, at least according to a throwaway bit in an episode of The Golden Girls when Blanche mentions wanting to see the latest strip.
    Dorothy: I haven't read "Apartment 3-G" since 1972!
    Blanche: Oh, let me bring you up to speed! It is later that same day.
  • In the Calvin and Hobbes 10th anniversary retrospective book, author Bill Watterson writes about how he wanted to get this reaction with one particular story arc, but wound up fatiguing himself instead. Specifically, this was the surreal arc where Calvin's personal gravity reverses, then he grows so large that he falls off the planet. Watterson wanted to drag the story out until he started receiving complaints from readers—but instead he wrapped up the arc of his own volition first. Aside from getting cold feet over deliberately annoying his readers, Watterson just lost interest in the story itself, describing it as "weirdness for weirdness' sake."
  • Candorville suffers from this trope. Big time.
    • Lamont got Roxane pregnant around 2003. It took six or seven YEARS of strips, including the revelation that Roxane's a vampire, for them to break up, and even then it was only after it was revealed that all of the vampire stuff and a giant monster destroying Mexico were just Lamont's delusion while he was in a mental institution. He then promptly prepared to sue her for custody of his child.
    • It gets even worse when you get to Lamont and Susan, who spent years of Will They or Won't They? finding out they have feelings for each other, but besides the Roxanne thing another thing has come up. After pretending to date coworker Dick Fink in order to teach Lamont a lesson about the Roxanne thing, Lamont seems to think it's real and it becomes the cause of his Heroic BSoD and that he would be horribly betrayed if he found out the truth, stalling it LONGER. Later, Lemont started in a Facebook relationship with a woman he had a crush on in college, who's also married with kids but says her husband's abusive. And people say the Ross and Rachel thing went on too long!
  • Dick Tracy arcs are also notoriously slow-paced. Sometimes two-thirds of a comic retell the contents of a previous comic with one new panel. One day of Dick Tracy's life takes several months of comic strips. This was sometimes the fault of the fans, who occasionally enjoyed a story so much they demanded it be continued after it had decisively ended, often requiring a Retcon or two (for example, Flattop, the most popular villain of the series' history, was actually brought back from the dead so that he could be killed again). The new creative team is moving a much quicker pace of about one case a month.
  • In Funky Winkerbean, Les Moore has been mourning the death of his beloved wife Lisa since 2007. And it took her eight years before that to die of cancer. Recurring plot lines include books about Lisa, movies about Lisa (two separate attempts), tape-recorded messages from Lisa, Lisa appearing as a ghost (including one time where she called in a bomb threat), and annual "legacy run." To put it mildly, it's getting tiresome.
  • Gasoline Alley:
    • The series started as a daily gag strip, but only became popular when main character Walt Wallet found an infant boy on his doorstep, providing a springboard for serious story arcs. The boy (named Skeezix) grew to manhood without ever learning who his parents were. About 80 years later, with Gasoline Alley still running, and with Skeezix Wallet now well into his eighties, one of the strip's artists/writers finally decided to reveal who Skeezix's parents were.
    • The storyline where Walt's wife passed away was initially vague about which spouse had died. This dragged on for about a month before readers got an answer.
  • Sister strips Judge Parker and Rex Morgan, M.D. run at such a glacial pace that readers who have been reading for years may realize that, at tops, a week has actually gone past. The comics themselves don't seem capable of keeping track either. For one example, in Judge Parker, while in the real world, it had been several years since Neddie went off to school in France, the comic internally moved ahead roughly a month of time. Yet when Neddie returned in mid-2010, the characters acted as if she'd actually been gone a significant period of time. Rex Morgan, meanwhile, spent the better part of a year on a weekend cruise.
  • The "Tiger Tea" arc in Krazy Kat, which went on for ten months without stopping. Not as big as some of these other examples, but when you realize that it's a humor strip, unlike most of the strips mentioned here, which are serious strips...
  • Mary Worth, as The Comics Curmudgeon is fond of pointing out.
  • 9 Chickweed Lane's decades-spanning Whole Arc Flashback involving Gram/Edna and Juliette's before-unseen father, Bill. note  Brooke McEldowney's taste for Purple Prose did not help in this instance. Nor did it help that the readership hadn't really gotten over the hangover of the last endless arc: Edda and Amos's six-month-long Will They or Won't They? adventures in Brussels. The strip got to spend almost a year telling the same WWII story, only from Bill's point-of-view. This has also included several months of Bill and Martine (a French Resistance member) idly strolling through Normandy during the middle of D-Day.
  • The Phantom is one of the biggest, and most famous, offenders. A single story arc, told daily, may take up to a year to tell, and this isn't including the unrelated Sunday strips.
  • Perhaps an even worse offender than The Phantom is Prince Valiant, which is only printed on Sundays, and each issue represents maybe a few seconds of time in the story. It doesn't help that the size of comics has been steadily shrinking since its first issue in the 1920s, from half-page size to maybe 1/8.
  • Parodied when the Spider-Man strips were used during Spider-Verse. Morlun drops in, intending on feasting on that universe's Spider-Man, only to be thrown off-guard by the world's strange pacing, making him realize it would take him a month to even try to feast on him.

    Fan Works 
  • In Attack on Titan: A Blacksmith's Tale, Psychic MC, Dillon's character arc of learning to live with himself and his girlfriend Annie, was trapped in a limbo state for years, with nothing really changing his situation. The second he got "better", something else dramatic would happen and send him back to square one. This is in addition to canon storylines taking much longer than necessary due to a slow update cycle.
  • In The Stalking Zuko Series, the second installment, "Not Stalking Zuko" mainly takes place on Ember Island — for those who aren't familiar with the series, that was the setting of the recap episode between "The Southern Raiders" (when Zuko and Katara finally became friends) and the four-part Grand Finale. It takes almost half of "Not Stalking Zuko," the longest installment in the series, to get up to "The Ember Island Players," and there's still more than a few chapters to go before it gets up to "Sozin's Comet."
  • Unbreakable Red Silken Thread: The Solomon Grundy arc, which the authors both admit has its flaws, even if it has served its intended purpose. The problem, however, is the abrupt shift of focus after fourteen chapters featuring Cody and Heather to their near-total absence.
  • Xendra has the L.A. Arc where the Scoobies head the LA for Joyce's brain surgery. The entire arc is 55 chapters of the story (which had been 225 chapters when the arc finished) due to the writer wanting to solve the entirety of the Angel series before the Scoobies go back to Sunnydale.

    Films — Animation 
  • Ice Age: Sid's abandonment issues. While a lot of fans like it given they feel it turns Sid into a much more interesting character that just an average Plucky Comic Relief, some fans also felt the arc was overstaying his welcome given it has being the main focus of his character arc for the first three sequels and wished the writers did something else with the character. Ironically his arc in Collison Course went with the character in another direction and it was universally despised.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • More than a few viewers of The Kissing Booth 3 expressed exasperation that Elle and Lee's friendship rules are still the source of much of the story's conflict after three movies, especially given the first movie already established how many of their rules have been outgrown, cannot always be realistically applied, and at worst makes their friendship come across as controlling and dysfunctional (not helping is that they came up with these rules when they were in elementary school and they're now legally adults). During Elle and Lee's big blow-up in this movie's third act Elle furiously declares that their friendship rules are officially over, which lots of viewers felt should've been over and done with long before.
  • Rey's family background dominates her story arc for the entire Star Wars sequel trilogy (2015-2019). The Force Awakens establishes that Rey was abandoned by her parents on Jakku for unclear reasons. In The Last Jedi, Rey and the audience are confronted with the knowledge that her parents were junk traders who sold her for drinking money and are irrelevant to the story, rather than anyone important. Rian Johnson (writer/director of The Last Jedi) said learning she was "nobody" was the most devastating answer Rey could get, but that she could now move on, which seemed to close this arc. The Rise of Skywalker instead reopens it by abruptly revealing that Rey is actually the granddaughter of Palpatine. Lots of viewers found this frustrating, both because it comes off as an Ass Pull and had already been done in Star Wars (and elsewhere), and because they wanted Rey's story to focus on other things, such as her Jedi training. And there are still unanswered questions around her heritage by the end. Rey's actress Daisy Ridley later revealed there wasn't a concrete plan for Rey's heritage and the answer kept changing between films — even during the filming of The Rise of Skywalker writer/director J. J. Abrams wasn't fully committed to Palpatine being Rey's grandfather.

  • In The Bad Guys, Prof. Marmalade is introduced in the second book as the Big Bad — and almost every book until the tenth book involves him trying to one-up the titular Bad Guys, only to end them all on a Cliffhanger that something has gone wrong or he has something new. After a few books, this can get a little annoying, despite all the wacky hijinks and Character Development our heroes get up to in the meantime.
  • The Black Magician series seems to have a problem with this, particularly in the second book, Novice. Most of the over 500 pages consist of a bog-standard bullying story. The overarching plot only makes an appearance halfway through, and then only in the form of a hostage situation that remains at a perfect standstill both when it comes to understanding motivations and resolving the situation until the epilogue. By contrast, there is another subplot in Novice that consists of a scavenger hunt across the world, a budding romance and a major character development and exploration of the character and the politics of the world that is given 50 or so pages to develop, flashing by on one or a couple of pages in between dozens of pages of yet more bullying and blackmail.
  • It's not as bad as some examples due to only taking up one book, but the plotline involving Leila stalking Ana in Fifty Shades Darker starts to show signs of arc fatigue. It lasts nearly the entire book (which is over 500 pages long) and yet nothing truly significant happens with it until the last third when Leila unexpectedly shows up at Ana's apartment with a gun. It doesn't help that it has little if any impact on the story in the next book and that the situation could've been resolved early on if Ana and Christian had just called the police, instead of trying and miserably failing to deal with the problem themselves.
  • Light and Dark: The Awakening of the Mage Knight: The 'normal school' arc in the beginning dragged on and on until the 8th chapter. It served its purpose, introducing the characters, in the first. One can only assume Daniel Fife wanted to make sure the reader identified with Protagonist Danny.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • This happens to several different characters once they are separated from the War of Five Kings.
    • Daenerys's prolonged arc in Essos, while teaching her a lot of useful lessons about effective rulership and politics, has got a lot of readers tearing their hair out waiting for the dragon battles already!
  • Larry Niven's novel The Ringworld Throne did very little to actually move the plot of the overall series but did manage to use its last couple of chapters to set the next novel up pretty handily.
  • Left Behind has stretches of arc fatigue, because it was extended from 12 books to 16. Not impressed? The original plan for the series was three books. Still not enough? The second book is based on the idea that the second year of Tribulation would be completely uneventful. The worst part is that, according to the authors' eschatology, the tribulation doesn't even begin until near the very end of the book. The book is mostly spent on Romantic Plot Tumors and other pointless diversions.
  • The "Three" arc in Warrior Cats. Partly because they couldn't decide on what power Hollyleaf would have by the time they were halfway through the six-book Power of Three series, and then Vicky finally got the idea that maybe Hollyleaf isn't actually one of the Three, and the story arc got dragged on to fill the fourth series, Omen of the Stars, as well. The purpose of the Three is that they all have special powers that will help them defeat the Dark Forest when they invade the Clans; this wasn't even hinted at until partway through Omen of the Stars. Instead, the two series were mostly filled with short filler conflicts, and there was no real villain throughout all of Power of Three.

    Multiple Media 
  • BIONICLE head writer Bob Thompson intended the franchise to have Rotating Arcs, a few years dedicated to present-day arcs split up by occasional prequel years. The 2004 Metru Nui arc was such a prequel, but LEGO and Advance put so much money into designing the Metru Nui setting, an intricate island metropolis, that execs wanted them reused for another year to save up on costs. Hence 2005, aka the "Hordika arc" became an interquel, an extension set during the final scenes of the 2004 story that fans already knew the ending to, with the main present-day plot stalled for a year. Several books, comics, one movie and a series of online short videos told a loose, meandering story which reportedly confused kids so much that LEGO banned any more flashback arcs. This necessitated cramming prequel material into books, comics, short stories and web serials, but never fleshing them out into full year-long arcs as Thompson envisioned. All this did have the beneficial side effect of making prequel protagonist Vakama and his Toa Metru team some of the series' most developed and relatable characters, in stark contrast with the meager focus their present day selves received.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The original ECW had two notable feuds that went on way past their expiration date (even if they did result in some still good matches): Mike Awesome's ridiculous amount of "We got nothin' else booked so just go out there and wrestle Masato Tanaka with tables and chairs again" matches, and the absurdly longstanding Tommy Dreamer vs Raven feud that never did quite end, or, at least, only ended just long enough for it to be revived when they both went to TNA.
  • TNA's monster masked wrestler Abyss, portrayed by Chris Parks, was attacked after a match in January 2012 and disappeared from the show. In March, his identically-built brother Joseph Park showed up on the show looking for him. Joseph's search for his brother and supposed legal training allowed him to get involved in a few storylines and he eventually went to wrestling school and was able to compete in matches (albeit poorly due to his mild manner and lack of experience). However, after suffering enough punishment or getting cut open he would Hulk out and/or perform his brother's finishing move. This went on for almost two years until December 2013 and the not-so-Shocking Swerve that Abyss and Joseph were the same person. Not only had all but the dimmest viewers known or at least suspected this for months but it effectively meant that Chris Parks had been forced to wrestle badly for an extended period of time for a character whose potential would never be maximized. It didn't help that it was a combination of Kaz, Daniels, and Eric Young who worked out the secret since they were not exactly portrayed as the brightest members of the roster.
  • The original Fingerpoke Of Doom was hard to swallow; it reset the nWo storyline back to where it was in 1996, a full three years prior. No wonder it was the beginning of the end for WCW.
  • The WWE has had many moments that qualify.
    • The "Higher Power" story is disliked since it revived the Austin-McMahon rivalry which had long since stopped being fresh and interesting. At the expense of the far more interesting Ministry of Darkness storyline at that. Even The Undertaker admits that was a Jumping the Shark moment in a later interview.
    • Many fans grew tired of the Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole feud, believing that it should've been resolved by Wrestlemania XXVII. Made worse by Cole frequently getting away with his villainy and constantly gaining the advantage over Lawler. Not even the King humiliating Cole at Over the Limit (along with an assist from both Jim Ross and Bret Hart) brought a satisfying ending.note 
    • The latter part of the fifth season of WWE NXT became this after months without an elimination. Then, they dropped all pretense of it still being a contest and it became a C-show with their lower midcarders. When Season 5 of NXT finally ended, it had aired 67 episodes. It was then retooled into a show that showcases talent from their developmental system.
    • The John Cena/Randy Orton feud has been going on, on-and-off, for years. The feud itself never quite connected with the audience as being anything legitimately special, despite WWE's attempts to portray it as being one of the greatest rivalries in not just WWE itself, but in all of sports. Fans are so sick of it that around 2014, Cena/Orton matches began being received by live crowds with anything ranging from silent apathy to outright hostility. Luckily, the company eventually got the message and they haven't wrestled a match against each other since then, partially because 2015 is when they both started transitioning to part-timer status (Cena more than Orton).
    • The "Anonymous GM" of Raw was either this or a Myth Stall (since it was supposed to be the overarching essence of Raw itself), or something altogether different (since WWE made no effort to explore the identity of this GM, meaning it wasn't even a storyline). A few wrestlers interacted with the laptop that the GM sent emails through but no one since Chris Jericho actually demanded the GM reveal themselves. The "character" was disliked by the viewers not for being a heel (it had a track record that skirted the line between heel and face), but simply because people were just tired of it. It's almost like it was a vehicle solely to make Cole look bad.
    • WWE's controversial Invasion arc, which technically kicked off when Shane McMahon (in Kayfabe) bought out WCW in April of 2001 through to Survivor Series in November of that year likely counts, largely due to how the majority of former WCW and ECW talent weren't pushed. The initial concept seemed somewhat meaningless towards the end, where "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Kurt Angle, The Rock and Chris Jericho were feuding with each other, all of whom were with the WWE at the start of the arc.
    • Some people feel that the 2013-14 WWE "The Authority" storyline went on far longer than it should have. In short, Daniel Bryan wins the WWE title at SummerSlam, gets Pedigreed by Triple H and cashed in on by Randy Orton and screwed out of the title, and the screwjobs continued for months afterward, as Triple H, Orton, and Stephanie McMahon (and later Kane) spend months bullying and beating Bryan, getting no lasting repercussions for their actions in the process. It wasn't helped by random detours in the plot, such as Bryan feuding with The Wyatt Family for a few months for no particular reason, especially since Bryan ended up losing the payoff match to that feud, and that doesn't even touch on the inexplicable, two-week period where Bryan suddenly turned heel and joined the Wyatts (the idea was actually to write Bryan out of the Authority angle, meaning he'd get no payoff twice over but he remained too popular for that to be feasible). Eventually, though, Bryan would win the title back at WrestleMania, overcoming Triple H, Batista, and Orton (though that was an Author's Saving Throw following the overwhelming negative fan reaction to Batista winning the Royal Rumble a few months prior).

      In a related case, many people feel the entire concept of the Authority had run its course a long time ago, but the stable/angle kept getting extended whenever it looked like it was about to finally come to a close. Daniel Bryan beating Evolution and The Shield soundly squashing Kane and the New Age Outlaws at Wrestlemania 30 end up meaning nothing because they just switch opponents and send Evolution after the Shield and Kane after Bryan. Sting makes his WWE debut to help Team Cena beat Team Authority at Survivor Series 2014, with the explicit stipulation that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon would be ousted from power if they lost; never mind, Seth Rollins forces Cena to reinstate them a few weeks later, setting the entire thing back to square one. Sting and Triple H face off at WrestleMania 31 with the implication the Authority would take a huge hit if Sting won? Never mind, it became a nostalgia segment and Sting lost anyway. The angle didn't end until one year later, after Roman Reigns defeated Triple H at WrestleMania 32.
    • Paige and A.J. Lee's feud in the summer of 2014, particularly after Paige won the title back at SummerSlam. It got to the point where the feud had originally featured sneak attacks and intense promos — and ended up with random segments where AJ walked out on her tag partners and the two only exchanged stern looks — despite supposedly hating each other's guts.
    • Layla and Summer Rae's storyline was heading in this direction when they decided to team up and make Fandango's life hell. For four weeks they just appeared at ringside to interfere in his matches — and it was obvious there would be no pay-off match since it's a women vs man feud. Thankfully it actually was ended pretty quickly and the two were integrated into the women's division as a tag team.
    • Much in the vein of the Cena/Orton feud, fans got sick of the AJ Styles/Christopher Daniels feud years ago. While the matches were amazing, the feud always had Chris as the heel and his turn always happened for the same damn reason. It eventually culminated in the Audience-Alienating Era that was Claire Lynch, which would win the Gooker Award for 2012. Thankfully, that was the final run of the feud in TNA, and most agree that if anything, they at least got Bad Influence out of it.
    • Played with in the case of the feud between John Cena and The Rock. The feud, overall, ran for 26 months, beginning with the Rock's return in February 2011 and ending at WrestleMania 29 in April 2013. However, despite that incredibly long run-time, the Rock spent the majority of this time away from the show, leaving Cena to do other things until it was time to resume their feud. It still stands for the most part, however, since most fans felt it at least should have ended with their "Once in a Lifetime" match at WrestleMania 28 instead of reviving the angle just to give Cena his win back.
    • The love trapezoid angle in 2015 between Rusev and Lana, Dolph Ziggler, and Summer Rae went on for an unreasonably long time and seemed to get the heel/face dynamic backwards. Ziggler came off as a thorough Designated Hero who acted like a smug prick about Lana leaving Rusev for him and taunting him over it every chance he got. Rusev, on the other hand, was seen as the most sympathetic party in the story despite WWE's attempts to portray him as some sort of Domestic Abuser, since he lost his undefeated streak and United States Championship to John Cena, was sidelined with an ankle injury, and then his girlfriend leaves him for a guy that actively devotes time to mocking him about it, he came off as a legitimately broken man and fans saw his hatred toward Ziggler as being completely justified. The seeds of a Rusev and Lana breakup were planted as early as March and didn't "resolve" for at least another six months. Part of the problem was that the storyline hit several nasty snags along the way, like Rusev and Lana each being injured at different points and Ziggler taking time off to film a movie, but rather than just scrap the storyline since it wasn't really all that popular with the crowd, they kept stalling and extending it until the missing party returned. Rusev and Lana's involvement didn't end until Lana posted photos of herself wearing an engagement ring from her real-life engagement to Rusev, at which point WWE effectively let them bail on the angle, and even then they extended and rewrote the angle to be Ziggler and the debuting Tyler Breeze feuding over Summer Rae.
    • The feud between Charlotte and Sasha Banks was received this way by plenty of people. While neither of them are bad, WWE decided that what they needed to give the new-look Women's Division and new Women's Championship legitimacy was to have a long, great rivalry. Unfortunately, they went about it in a very forced and hamfisted way that only made many fans sick of the angle, with many directly comparing it to a compressed version of Cena and Orton's rivalry. All in all, the angle lasted (with a bit of on-and-off here and there) somewhere in the ballpark of 16 months, featured many "first time ever" matches like the first women's Hell in a Cell match for no real reason aside from being able to promote it was the first time ever, and worst of all, featured the new Women's Title hot-potatoeing back and forth between the two so often that they each racked up a number of title reigns in this span of a little more than a year that even many legitimately legendary wrestlers never touch in their entire careers ironically did much more to hamper the title's legitimacy than it did to build it, as well as the fact that the feud was so prominent for so long that it became a Spotlight-Stealing Squad, all of the other women on the show were Demoted to Extra, and ironically did more harm than good to the division as a whole. The fact that the feud was mostly one-sided in Charlotte's favor, with most of the hot-potatoeing being Sasha winning the title and then almost immediately losing it back to Charlotte, also did the new title no favors.

      Really, Charlotte holds a title for so long and so many times, it's rare to even see her not carrying gold. By her seventh championship win, she began to receive X-Pac Heat after pinning Becky Lynch during a triple threat match at SummerSlam 2018, which also involved defending champion Carmella. The match was initially supposed to be only between Becky and Carmella after two months of buildup in Becky's favor, but Charlotte immediately returned to the title spot after a two-month absence, ruining all of Becky's potential and rendering her efforts a waste. It wasn't a surprise when Becky turned heel on her, with Charlotte the one who received boos from the fans.
    • Brock Lesnar's first Universal Championship reign, far more than any other reign in recent memory. Initially his reign started out well when he defeated Goldberg for the title at WrestleMania 33 — who the fans soured on after he defeated the previous champion, Ensemble Dark Horse Kevin Owens, in a Squash Match. By the end of 2017, however, fans were bitterly reminded of why they disliked having a part-timer as champion, as Lesnar barely showed up outside of the occasional title defense, to the point that many even forgot that RAW had a world title, with some even considering the Intercontinental Championship the top title on RAW. It had reached a point where many were actually happy at the idea of Creator's Pet Roman Reigns winning at WrestleMania 34, as it meant they'd have a full-time champion again, and Reigns was far more likely to lose the title in a smaller time frame. Except he didn't win. And then he didn't win his next title match at The Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia. In fact, Reigns didn't win the title from Lesnar until SummerSlam 2018, at which point Lesnar's reign had surpassed CM Punk's historic 434-day reign by two and a half months. By that point, not only had Lesnar's reign entered Arc Fatigue but so did his feud with Reigns; when Reigns finally won the title, the fans actually cheered for it because they figured that would be the end of it all since Reigns defeating Lesnar for the title had been his goal since at least 2015. Unfortunately, two months after that, Reigns had to relinquish the title and go on hiatus from wrestling to start treatment for his leukemia, which had returned. His next title defense, a triple threat with Lesnar and Braun Strowman, became a one-on-one match for the vacated title... which Lesnar won.
    • Speaking of Roman Reigns, he has somehow surpassed Brock's aforementioned reign by almost twice as much. As of February 2023, Roman has held the Universal title for over 900 days, more than any other wrestler in modern history. What compounds this is that Roman is the undisputed champion, meaning he holds both the Universal and WWE Championships. After finally performing a much anticipated Face–Heel Turn and aligning himself with Paul Heyman, Roman won the Universal title at Summerslam 2020 in a Triple Threat match between him, Bray "The Fiend" Wyatt and Braun Strowman. He would then recruit his cousins, The Usos (Who like Roman, are the Undisputed Tag Team Champions), to solidify and maintain his position and dubbed himself "The Head of the Table". Roman would beat every opponent that tried to face him; Kevin Owens, Edge, Bryan Danielson, Drew McIntyre, John Cena, and even the aforementioned Brock Lesnar. His feuds with Lesnar were particularly egregious as they had fought a total of three times during this reign, including at Wrestlemania 38 where Roman beat him to unify the titles. Like Lesnar, Roman would make fewer appearances on weekly television, leaving both RAW and Smackdown without a top title to compete for until Roman decided to work. Things then got even more egregious when NXT’s Solo Sikoa was called up to the roster to act as even more muscle for Roman, debuting in a match against McIntyre to screw him over, arguably because he just happened to be the brother of the Usos. While many fans have enjoyed this historic run, the general consensus is that Roman has become an Invincible Villain and are desperately waiting for someone to beat him for at least one of the titles so that there can be another top title to compete for. In the end, the angle finally came to a stop at Wrestlemania 40, where Cody Rhodes beat Roman at his own game to win the title.

    Radio & Audio Drama 
  • The Big Finish Doctor Who Divergent arc, in which the Eighth Doctor was trapped in an alternate universe without access to time and space travel, lasted only eight audios/a little over a year but felt like it dragged on and on for years, made worse by the fact that its very premise negated one of the main joys of Doctor Who. It apparently wore down Paul McGann so much that he considered leaving the role. It was killed, but more because of worries about the future of Big Finish in light of the new series getting the go-ahead than because of anything else. After all it might have turned off potential new listeners if the on-going story with the newest incarnation of the Doctor, saw him trapped in another, completely different universe, leading the arc to have a somewhat abrupt and unsatisfying ending so the Doctor could return to the original universe.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Bravely Default runs into this during the last portion of the game — you have to refight the Crystal bosses (with the option of fighting the Asterisk Holders) again and again, with very little story in between. Many consider it the most boring part of the game, as the normally fun and energizing boss fights feel like a chore. Up until the last "cycle", that is, when all of the Asterisk Holders start teaming up in unique themed groups and some story actually begins to wrap up.
  • The "Clear Bow's name" plot from Breath of Fire II. After Bow gets accused of theft and is forced into hiding, the game's main plot has several other key events happen during that time, making it feel like Bow's subplot should have been resolved ages ago to get to other matters. But it just keeps going. And with Bow out of the party, Ryu has to pick up the slack, fighting for a not-insignificant amount of time all by himself. By the time the party finds the real thief in SimaFort, not only will a player likely be distracted by the cockroach cooking contest, but they might not realize their quarry is even there. By the time Bow actually rejoins the party, the amount of levels he's fallen behind everyone else is almost certainly going to be in the double digits.
  • Capcom has done this for decades, as a side effect of milking its properties harder than most.
    • The mystery behind Ada Wong of the Resident Evil series has dragged on for multiple games and a feature film (spanning over 10 years of in-story time) with not a single question answered about who she really works for, what her true goals are, or even what her real name is. Beyond a few Pet the Dog moments and her fondness for Leon, she's also received very little character development in as much time, making it difficult for a lot of fans to get attached to her or really care about learning her real story — which, again, Capcom seems to have no interest in telling. Making it worse is that the remakes of 2 and 4 heavily downplay her seductive Femme Fatale qualities and make her more of a straight-up Ice Queen, taking away what little charm and likability she originally had and making it that much harder for fans to care about Ada or understand Leon's attraction to her.
    • Mega Man. The original series' writing was immediately recognized as a cheap excuse to shoot a line-up of fan-submitted robots. But then came Mega Man X, taking place 100 years later and touting a more serious story connected to its predecessor; followed by Mega Man Zero doing the same to X before it. They were three tandem series promising linking revelations... but since the first two were not allowed to end, little came beyond cameos and intentionally cryptic hints that went nowhere. The lone applied connection that Wily built Zero was endlessly reused and stretched, with three separate, mysterious scientist villains hinted at as possibly being Wily showing up while Zero died just as often. Like Sigma's continued existence, attempts at drama devolved into overused jokes. Ironically, the endpoint of all this in the Zero series was the only one that actually finished with a Grand Finale (which allowed it specifically to avert the fatigue, and even then it got pushed into having one more game than intended), so fans were left in the awkward position of knowing how it would all end up, but not all of how it got there. At least you could count on loads of new bosses... until Capcom internal politics pointed towards the franchise dying with a whimper rather than any real resolution. The surprise resurrection of the Classic series with Mega Man 11 in 2018 at least shows there's still interest in the IP, though the game being a Soft Reboot that adhered to the status quo meant that, once again, no real narrative progress was made.
    • Street Fighter:
    • In a case of this happening within a single game's storyline, the first Ace Attorney had a rule that trials could last a maximum of three days. Doesn't sound like much, but when you had to go through three investigation segments and three trial segments for every case, it ended up stretching a lot of cases out. Consequently, though the three-day limit is still a thing, every following game has used two-day trials.
  • Diablo II:
    • After an optional quest to grab the Horadric Malus for the town blacksmith in the monastery barracks, the only objective left in Act I is to kill Andariel. However, the distance you have to cover in order to reach Andariel can be quite tedious for some people. From the barracks, the journey to her has the player going through three levels of a prison, to the cathedral, and capping off with four levels of catacombs.
    • Traversing the early jungle portions of Act III (the spider forest, the great marsh, and the flayer jungle) is criticized due to the lengths of having to run around searching for the two dungeons that have the body parts needed for a main quest.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • Origins has four major quests which must be finished in order to get to the final part of the game. However, one of these quests — "A Paragon of Her Kind" — is practically big enough for a DLC campaign, being larger than the other three put together. There are roughly six dungeons which have to be completely explored (and more in optional sidequests); there's never a chance to Take a Third Option, even if both of the options are stupid or out-of-character for the player; the good ending comes out of siding with the corrupt jerkass between the two potential kings, because the Nice Guy's conservative ways cause a violent revolt after the events of the game; the player has to do quite a bit of running back and forth between the dwarven capital and the aforementioned dungeons; and several of the characters introduced are quite simply unlikable.
    • The Mage's Circle quest also has plenty of this due to a moment in the middle of the quest, when a sloth demon sends you into the Fade (the place where a person's consciousness goes while they're asleep). The segment which follows is long, unskippable, boring, and difficult. A very popular mod for the game has no other use but simply jump that segment and get you back to the normal quest; however, this is only available to PC players. If you're on console, you have no choice but to do the whole thing.
  • Much of Dragon Quest VII is spent saving helpless villagers from monsters and finding puzzle pieces to unlock a portal to another village where you do exactly the same thing, over and over. By the time you liberate the winged people (the last instance of this before the real plot begins), you'll have clocked in at 80 hours if you're not trying to grind jobs during that time. Even though the 3DS version toned this down (especially the beginning), the fact that the bulk of the game is a series of vignettes where you go back and forth can still feel offputting to some fans of other games where the plot moves quicker. To put it into perspective, in most games, a Disc-One Final Boss is fought around 5-15 hours in, whereas the 3DS version of VII will still take around 30-40.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has suffered from this several times.
    • The most prominent case is the "Seventh Astral Era" quest chain, AKA the quests added after the original release of A Realm Reborn but before its first expansion Heavensward, especially once the latter was released. Many complained about the need to actually reach the expansion content to play as its new classes for the primary reason that after the almost two-hundred quests of A Realm Reborn, the Seventh Astral Era stretches on for another hundred — every future expansion content cycle ended up with half as many main scenario quests as ARR and its patches did. Patch 5.3 streamlined the Seventh Astral Era to make it more approachable for new players, but it still goes on for a while — it was reduced from a hundred quests to eighty, but in practice is still ninety-one quests, because not only did it do nothing about the wholly-unnecessary requirement to complete three hard-mode versions of Primals you fought in the 2.0 story as a prerequisite to start the quests added in Patch 2.5, it also added a requirement to complete almost all of the Crystal Tower questline (including all three of its 24-man raids) before you can start one of the last quests of the chain, because of the Tower's relevance to Shadowbringers.
    • Stormblood suffers from this in its Ala Mhigo arc, in that it's almost treated as an afterthought despite events in Ala Mhigo being the catalyst for the expansion. Its problem is twofold: 1) it decided to also deal with liberating a second country from Garlean occupation (the in-universe logic being to divide the Garleans' attention by forcing them to deal with two rebellions at the same time), and 2) that second country ended up with far more time spent on it — keeping in mind that you have to be at Level 60 to start the Stormblood story, you head for the Far East at Level 61 and don't come back until you've liberated Doma at Level 68, which leaves almost no room for Ala Mhigo to have any real story. What makes this even worse is that Lyse gets much more story importance with this expansion, but her Character Development is almost entirely tied to Ala Mhigo rather than Doma, and what little she does get in Doma is overshadowed by other plot points like trying to gain Hien's assistance — which means she spends almost 90% of the expansion never progressing past the "Lyse whines about feeling useless" phase of her development before very suddenly jumping to "Lyse is leading the Ala Mhigan Resistance", without even giving her any chance to prove herself worthy of the role until well after she's been thrust into it.
    • Depending on your opinion of Yotsuyu, the "Legend Returns" post-release storyline for Stormblood falls to this again, with Ala Mhigo's story of dealing with the aftermath of the Garlean occupation wrapping up in a single patch before the story shifts back to Doma and the now-amnesiac Yotsuyu, which consists of two patches where very little of note happens before Yotsuyu suddenly regains her memories and goes off the deep end in almost the last moment.
    • Some of the first cases, back-to-back, are the very specific instances of dealing with Titan and then Garuda in A Realm Reborn, because you spend much of the arcs performing several quests dragged out far longer than they need to be (even after the ARR storyline was slimmed down in a later patch, dealing with Titan takes 21 quests and Garuda takes 32).
      • For Titan, the story drags on as you're forced to put in all the work for what appears to be little more than an ill-timed banquet — even the dungeon you do during this part of the story is simply trying to help a goblin gather cheese, followed by too many quests spent simply walking back and forth between a small hamlet and a secluded hut, just far apart enough and with enough enemies in the way that the trips are annoying but not enough that skipping the return by teleporting is worth the gil, trying to get someone to please just give you a Goddamned bottle of wine already. What's more? At the end of this, you barely even get to see the banquet that you spent all that time singlehandedly preparing (you get a short scene of your character taking one bite of the meal as the Final Fantasy victory jingle plays before the cutscene ends), and your advice for dealing with Titan ends up amounting to little more than "do your best". Many players felt they had to take the option to tell the Company of Heroes they will not be throwing a banquet this time around when they returned for Endwalker's role quest for Melee classes.
      • Garuda is even worse for a variety of reasons. It's not until you're partway through another quest that Garuda's summoning is even mentioned, and from that point on your primary objective becomes recovering the Enterprise, the only ship which can penetrate Garuda's wind barrier but which was last seen crashing somewhere in Coerthas. From the moment you set foot in Coerthas you are constantly pulled around on the whims of the high houses, helping the one that's conducive towards your goal while constantly fighting the others' being belligerent and unhelpful on principle thanks to a Dravanian heretic riling them up against you for no other reason than that's what heretics do. Then, once you finally acquire the Enterprise, you immediately learn it also needs a crystal with the right aspected aether to actually punch through the barrier. Somehow, the quest to get a single crystal spirals into traveling the four corners of Eorzea and gathering three of them, for no other apparent reason than that your character doesn't realize until the second time they got the wrong crystal that they should specify what kind they actually need before the person you ask sends you off to find it. And, for the final punch to the dick, it turns out the crystal you actually need is a stone's throw from where this whole song and dance started.
    • One criticism of Endwalker is how the story grinds to a halt every time it chooses to focus on the Loporitts, largely because quests centered around them are more comical in tone, intended as Breather Episodes... which doesn't work because the two major times the story chooses to focus on them comes immediately after very huge moments in the story, which makes them feel inappropriately placed on top of the fact that they, particularly the second time, focus on several quests that feel like filler.
  • The King of Fighters series has the Tales of Ash arc, which started in 2003 (which was released in 2003), continued with XI (released in late 2005 for Japanese arcades before heading to the PS2 the following year) and only ended in XIII (2010 for arcades, 2011 for consoles). Doing the math reveals that the arc lasted for seven to eight years. Compare that to the Orochi and NESTS arcs, each of which lasted for three years. note  This could be explained by SNK opting to abandon doing yearly installments on account of the growing costs of game development as well as wanting to jump ship to the Atomiswave hardware for their games note . Not helping matters was the fact that its star protagonist Ash was quite a polarizing figure not just due to his flamboyant personalitynote , but also due to him inflicting The Worf Effect on the likes of Chizuru and Iori and stealing their powers (forcing Chizuru to go back to Commuting on a Busnote  and Iori's moveset to undergo significant changes in XII and XIII), and being outright billed as a Villain Protagonist, meaning that fans were getting outright fed up with him. That said, many were willing to forgive him for his actions in the end when XIII revealed that he was in fact a Good All Along Guile Hero who did what he did in order to protect his sister figure Elisabeth, even going as far as to pull a Heroic Sacrifice to erase the Big Bad of the arc — his very own ancestor — from existence.
  • The "Dark Seeker Saga," which was intended to be the first of several storylines in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, took the better part of two decades to fully develop. note  While this wasn't in play for the first three games (as they developed a clear story arc of the defeat of Xehanort's Heartless and Nobody), fans had started to get antsy once it became clear that Square Enix was putting off the release of Kingdom Hearts III until after the release of six additional spin-offs and an animated movie. Quite a few fans just wanted to be done with Xehanort so the franchise could move in a different direction, but many were bracing themselves for Xehanort to have a hand in steering the direction of future games given his status as a ludicrously prepared master schemer whose actions had caused many of the verse's major events. And it turns out they were technically right: Xehanort is defeated for good at the end of III, but one of his vessels, Braig/Xigbar, is actually a disguised Luxu from Kingdom Hearts χ, having kept tabs on Xehanort for years while subtly manipulating him towards his own ends.
  • The very first level of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords is a long and boring slog through an eerily empty mining station, and you're fighting alone for most of it. The objectives can become confusing or hard to understand, and anyone who hasn't played through it before is likely to get tripped up or have no idea what to do at times. To top it all off there is an Unintentionally Unwinnable oversight involving a computer terminal in one segment. Forcing the player to load a save which, depending on how frequently they save, could set them back quite a bit or possibly force them to start the whole game over again.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Twilight Princess, Slow-Paced Beginning aside, balances gameplay and story well throughout the Fused Shadows arc, where it's progressively revealed what kind of attacks the people of Hyrule have suffered and how Link must deal with them. But by the time the Mirror of Twilight arc rolls around, and it's revealed that Ganondorf is behind it all, the story's progress grinds to a halt. The story then centers itself on simply finding each shard of the Mirror of Twilight, and with the minor exception of Illia, any NPC characters who were important during the first half don't matter at all during this arc. The story only resumes actual progress when Link finally enters the Twilight Realm.
    • Skyward Sword suffers from the same problem in its own second half. During the first half, the story has a clear focus on exploring the desolate lands of the Surface and searching for Zelda. After this arc ends with Zelda traveling back in time to hide from Ghirahim, the story then shifts towards Link collecting the Sacred Flames to power up the Goddess Sword. But aside from this, no meaningful plot events happen until Link finally finishes this quest, at which point Zelda reveals her role as a Messianic Archetype and gives the Master Sword its final blessing.
  • Overwatch:
    • The story is built on the premise of the eponymous Heroes "R" Us organization rebuilding itself years after disbanding to bring justice to the villainous forces that have been running amok unchecked in its absence. Being an exclusively multiplayer title, this story is told through external materials released sporadically online, the first of which debuted roughly two months before the game officially launched (in March 2016) and established a recall order had been issued to reunite all the former operatives, with at least two confirmed to be onboard. It took seventeen months to get confirmation that even a single character would join them, as the focus has been kept on characters' backstories, not what they are doing in the "present" day. Due to the huge cast, constant flashbacks/backstories, and that the game just kept adding more and more heroes before fully fleshing out the existing ones, the narrative is always in a state of introducing plot threads and then leaving them hanging to introduce another one, likely to be just as neglected. This has had the effect of making the story so far feel more like a prolonged opening act. It took until five years after the game was announced (and a bit under four years until after its launch) for a Mission-Pack Sequel that would supposedly focus on the plot to be announced for a 2020 release date (later pushed back multiple times into 2022). Even then, the game released with the advertised PVE element missing, delayed at least another year further, before eventually being cancelled altogether in May of 2023, delaying the story progression indefinitely.
    • Sombra's Alternate Reality Game was infamous for arc fatigue. While the goal was to tease the then-unknown 23rd hero, and it provided quite a few puzzles for the internet to solve, it ultimately barely gave out any information to go off of other than she was Mexican and some kind of hacker. On top of the only rewards being cryptic hints which lead to more cryptic hints, it was remarkably spaced out, including having a countdown on a mysterious website in the form of a percentage ticking up 0.0038% every three minutes, which months later only revealed... more cryptic hints. By the end of it all, Sombra was eventually revealed at BlizzCon anyway (which was the intention all along), making the entire thing ultimately pointless on top of it needlessly straining the playerbase's patience.
  • Persona 5 has several offenders, though they can be mitigated somewhat by knowing what's coming ahead of time and preparing in advance, particularly in New Game Plus.
    • Summer vacation and the Fourth Heist against Shadow Futaba in the Pyramid of Wrath take up quite a bit of the middle section of the game. The Pyramid is one of the shortest and simplest Palaces in the game, but it also has the longest deadline — access to the Palace starts in July, and the deadline isn't until late August. Since the overarching plot won't progress until the Palace's deadline has passed, this leads to a long stretch of time without much to do once you've cleared the Palace. And the fact that you can't go to school locks you out of a decent chunk of your Confidant progress among all but a few of your party members' levels, leaving you with little to do but stat grind and visit the same set of non-party Confidants over and over.
    • The class field trip to Hawaii would be fine in isolation, but the fact it comes right on the heels of the aforementioned heist and its aftermath can make it feel as though summer vacation is going on even longer. Players who want to just hit Mementos and do the Confidants and Requests that have just been unlocked are instead forced to spend still more time on the beach, watching more cutscenes and wondering when they'll be let off of the proverbial leash that the game has put them on.
    • The Fifth Heist (Shadow Okumura's Spaceport of Greed), while not a long arc in terms of calendar time, is often considered to be an absolute slog for players to sit through. The first stretch of the arc in which Morgana leaves the Phantom Thieves for a while over feeling useless now that Futaba has taken over navigator duties forces the players to sit through cutscene after cutscene of people passing around the Conflict Ball. On top of that, night activities aren't allowed until said conflict is resolved, meaning that time which could have been invested into Level Grinding or raising Confidant ranks gets wasted. As for the Palace itself, its immense length, tough enemies, and complex puzzles can require a higher than average number of visits to make it all the way to the Treasure, only serving to drag out the arc even more. The Palace Ruler actually isn't that hard in the vanilla game (with most of the difficulty coming from the battle being a Flunky Boss that abides by Trial-and-Error Gameplay while on a timer), but Royal made them much stronger, to the point where this boss is one of the single biggest chokepoints in the game. Beating them might necessitate level grinding in Mementos just to clear the fight, meaning that's even more time potentially going down the drain.
  • Pirate101 has some of this problem with the Cool Ranch books. These were actually the first stories written when the writers thought that each world should have five books. The writers even realized that looking at the same landscape for that long would be boring so they helped mitigate the problem by adding another book that takes place elsewhere and giving the haunted skyway a major makeover to make it more of a ghost story.
  • Sea of Thieves: The Dark Brethren arc has been dragging on for quite some time, to the point where many players are restless for Flameheart to actually unveil his super secret evil master plan. We also have the mystery of who killed Demarco being an extended ARG that has dragged on for months and months especially with the potential resolution that Ramsey killed his own son being Jossed.
  • Tales of Legendia has a major problem with this in its second half of the game. While it does resolve the plot threads and character arcs for all of the side characters, all you do is just retread the same dungeons you cleared in the first half of the game. There's also no voice acting anywhere outside of the pre-rendered CG cutscenes because the team ran out of money to dub this part of the story, which means it can feel like even more of a drag when it can't be broken up by watching the cutscenes. This lasts until the final hour or so before you finally see The Very Definitely Final Dungeon for the first time. But even that is little more than a Boss Rush with the True Final Boss at the end of it.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel: Act 2 is one of the most disliked parts of the already divisive Cold Steel IV. Ultimately nothing of consequence happens there apart from Crow's Rivalry and the events on the Pantagruel, which occur at the very beginning and very end respectively. The rest of the act consists of three separate visits to areas already covered in Act 1 for quests and rescue missions for people who were never in any danger, and every one of these is preceded by a bonding event and sidequest segment. As a result, the whole act feels like Padding.
  • While most fans don't mind as it's a spectacular game,note  TIE Fighter has a bit of this problem once you get to the game's expansions. The original game is seven battles (chapters) long — the seventh battle has Admiral Zaarin betray the Empire. Both of the expansions are three battles long, and you finally kill Zaarin at the end of Battle 13, the very last battle at the end of the last expansion. That's a rather sizeable chunk of the game spent fighting other Imperial ships instead of Rebels.
  • In World of Warcraft, Sylvanas Windrunner's character arc of Slowly Slipping Into Evil has been going on since early in the third expansion (not even counting the fact that she's been seen as a shady individual whose own allies don't trust for about as long as she's been around), with her recruiting the previous Arc Villain's former minions and using similar tactics as him to expand her faction's power, including using the plague to wipe out entire towns and enslave their dead. Ever since then, she's been practically skipping rope with the Moral Event Horizon, with the narrative repeatedly and continuously implying that she's just one more war crime away from being completely irredeemable, but it isn't until the seventh expansion where she starts committing similar atrocities as the Horde's official leader that anyone does any more than criticize her ways. And it's not until halfway through the next expansion that Sylvanas' arc is finally finished.

  • Bordering between this, Myth Fatigue, and likely Ending Fatigue is 8-Bit Theater's final arc, which was getting really long if not drawn out before it spent several months on the Light Warriors' failed attempts to get strong enough to defeat Chaos in 24 hours. However, this turns out to have been completely intentional, just for the sake of making the Anti-Climax that much bigger.
  • Achewood creator Chris Onstad has never been a stranger to long, doublewide strips, but as of late most of the strips have been this way, with week-long waits between many of them. Everything came to a head as the strip entered one of its patently surreal arcs that might have been better received if it moved at a better pace only to get halted prematurely for an indefinite hiatus, with strip standards "Fuck You Friday" and "Roomba Cinema" filling in. This was also around the time Onstad renewed a plea for donations. Needless to say, the fandom was not amused.
  • The fan comic Adventures In Lurning had the Colin is Dead arc that started on August 4th, 2017 and keep going until October 10th, 2018. Many fans felt like the Story Arc was going for too long for what was originally just a fun ask fan-blog; even the author admitted he was tired of the arc and renamed it in the Story Arc Guide as Colin is Dead Arc — The Never-Ending Story Arc. Thankfully, after the arc ended, the blog returned to its origins.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja began getting complaints of this when the progression of storylines started slowing around "D.A.R.E. To Resist Ninja Drugs and Ninja Violence." By the end of the many connected horror storylines, even the authors admitted their plots were taking too long. After another extremely long plot wrapped, the comic barreled right into "Judie Gets A Kitten" — which ran for one week. Many fans have considered the shock brevity a slight jab at the complaints over this trope. The kitten arc was filler before a crossover with Axe Cop, and the ending was retconned.
  • The B-Movie Comic's second "movie", Attack of the [Description withheld in order not to spoil the surprise], lasted from January 2006 to June 2010, with 471 pages. By comparison, the first "movie" totaled 91 pages.
  • Chapter 2 of Captain SNES: The Game Masta began in 2002. It ended on November 13, 2009. That's over four years after this comic right here. It was then retroactively split into two acts of roughly equal strip numbers, but with Act 2 ending at the end of 2003 and Act 3 lasting from 2004 to 2009. As, with the exception of an early sideplot which was temporarily dropped (but resolved in Act 4 in early 2011) and a flashback or two, all of the action in the latter act happened in the same area, it could indeed be asked "Are they still in Nexus?" (And, if you're asking about the Gamemasta only, the answer, as of Comic #786, is still "yes".)
  • Clan of the Cats beats nearly every entry in this section by a long shot, with its "Vengeance of Dracula" arc, which started in August 2003 and is still going on as of December 2019, over 600 pages later (not counting Filler).
  • Collar 6:
    • The initial story-arc took over a year to reach its climax (no, not that kind). This isn't really Myth Stall, since it hasn't fully developed a Myth Arc yet. The stall did get better, however, when the update schedule moved from twice a week to three times a week. Furthermore, unlike many examples of this trope, the author has been consistent in his updates.
    • The second arc was even worse, beginning in March 2011 and lasting until February 2014 and that's with minimal slip and a further increase near the end to five days a week. It also had a lot of world-building and new characters, which were handled in the form of Info Dumps that lasted up to a month at a time.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: The Friends in High Places chapter has been going on since 2013 with over 600 pages at the time of writing with no indication of stopping. It wouldn't be so bad if things had actually happened during those six years, but the majority of it has just consisted of build-up (the cubi clan meeting, Piflak's party, etc.) or exposition.
  • Dominic Deegan:
    • The March Across Maltak storyline. Said arc started January 2009, with an accompanying blog post wishing everyone an "epic new year", and wrapped up at the very end of January 2010.
    • The Storm of Souls was also accused of this, but that was more forgivable since it was the culmination of everything that had come before.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse has the Budokai Royale/Majin Rebellion arc which started in 2017 and ended in 2021. A total of five years. While well-received at first, some fans felt that it ran its course and wanted to get back to the tournament long before it ended.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • The comic spent well over a year of updates covering a single party, or to be more specific, sixteen months were spent covering the events of a single evening. The reaction amongst fans was mixed. Some liked the Character Development, especially for Justin, Susan, and Nanase, while others felt a year-long arc with few wacky antics and no action sequences was not what they signed up for.
    • The reaction to the last few strips of the Q&A (which only lasted about a month) was so hostile that the author actually left his own forums for a few days. Evidently the fans had enough.
    • This Q&A strip directly refers to this particular issue.
      Lisa: Squirrel Prophet ended on February 13. Of 2015.
      Amanda: Their time. Comic timeline wise, it was yesterday.
      Amanda: Still just one day.
  • This happens a bit with Endtown, as the arcs can go on for a while. The very first arc featured the epic quest with a Selfless Wish, complete with a backstory for an Arc Villain and an Alas, Poor Villain. Then the characters spend several months just getting back home and getting clearance. This isn't going onto the "Milk and Eggs" arc or the flashback arc...
  • The Family Reunion arc of Erma has gone down in infamy for the length of time the arc, covering a mere week in comic time, took. Beginning in February 2018 and ending in August. 2023.
  • With almost a hundred pages coupled with sporadic updates, Episode 4 of The Fan took almost two years to complete. In fact, it was so long that the author had to part it halfway. Even he was glad when it finally ended.
  • Girl Genius:
    • The massive Castle Heterodyne arcs of Girl Genius, which have all been about Agatha trying to get into Castle Heterodyne to fix it, or Agatha trying to fix it, or other people trying to reach Agatha while she fixes it. Agatha entered the castle proper on February 8th, 2008, and didn't set foot outside again until November 2, 2011, three and a half years later.
      • Definitely speaking for the audience there... and it's right before a holiday break.
      • Then she spent over another year running around defending the castle, which was like the previous three years, but outdoors instead of indoors.
      • Girl Genius has always been a slow-moving comic with lots of detail and development, but just to put this in more perspective, the comic launched online on April 18th, 2005, although the date given on the first comic is Nov 4th, 2002. Given the 2005 launch, more than half of the comic has been spent in the Castle. On top of that, the Foglios have said that everything before Volume Nine, which started in January 2009, is the first season of the comic.
    • Likewise, the Mecanicsburg arc, while being very enjoyable and serving as the last arc in the first part of what was evidently going to be a very long comic, still lasted 6 volumes and was released over the course of six years.
    • In 2022, the Foglios decided to put Agatha's entire story on hold and spend almost a year with Franz the dragon doing an irrelevant (if amusing) dungeon-crawl. Fans were glad when it finally wrapped up
  • Goblins: The Brassmoon arc took two years and eleven months to complete, not counting Fumbles' arrival. Made worse by the fact that, as always with Thunt, the battle scenes go into completely unnecessary detail on the same one-three-pages-per-nineish-days schedule that everything else does.
    Forgath: Um, okay. I guess my first question would be, how did Brassmoon get a talking wall?
    Talking Wall: Oh geez, you don't want to know that. The answer is a story arc that goes on for, like, ever. Ask me something else.
  • Homestuck:
    • The Hivebent arc got some flak for taking too long, especially since the End of Act 4 immediately before it ended on a Cliffhanger with the kids. Then Act 5 Act 2 began and showed no signs of stopping, to the point where by the end Act 5 as a whole was longer than the first four acts combined. It grew so long that it may have inspired the "damaged disc" arc where Terezi accidentally scratches Homestuck Disc 2, prompting Doc Scratch to narrate the story while the disc is repaired. At first, Scratch says his narration will be abbreviated, but a long time (just over three months) later, Hussie himself is so fed up that he breaks through the "fifth wall" and attacks Scratch with a broom to put a stop to his "condescending self-indulgent narrative style". Finding that the disc had been repaired for quite some time, Hussie comes to the conclusion that Scratch "likes the sound of his own voice." All Played for Laughs.
    • Act 6 is even worse, being longer than Act 5. To name a more specific example, it took the original main characters over a year's worth of updates to get from their old session to the one of the newer characters. As a whole, first four Acts take about 25% of pages, Act 5 26%, with Act 6 taking remaining 49%. Timewise, they take about 17%, 20%, and 63%, respectively, of webcomic's lifetime.
  • Played for laughs in Irregular Webcomic!'s "fantasy" arc. They started the quest on the 25th of June 2004, and finally finished on 31st August 2011 — seven years, two months, and six days later. In a daily webcomic.
  • Jack: The second half of the "Megan's Run" arc alone is the longest arc the series ever had, but adding the two halves up, it comes to a whopping 257 pages. Adding Schedule Slips to the mix, it felt like the arc would never end.
  • Wonder Woman's birthday party story in JL8 started in November of 2012 (August if you count the buildup) and did not end until July of 2013. An infrequent update schedule was part of the problem, but what really dragged the story out was that it turned the Love Triangle between Superman, Wonder Woman, and Power Girl into a Romantic Plot Tumor.
  • Looking for Group:
    • Leena starts targeting the group in strip 902. The arc doesn't end until 1264, 362 strips later.
    • The Archmage is slain in strip 788. Over 700 strips later and the party is still dealing with the aftermath, largely due to a whole bunch of side-arcs getting tossed in, such as the truth of Richard's backstory.
  • L's Empire has an in-universe example. The Author Avatars get bored with one of the story arcs so they just fast forward to the final battle. This comes back up as a minor plot point later on.
  • The Utterly Dwarfed arc in The Order of the Stick lasted a while (beginning in earnest in March 2014 and climaxing in October 2018). A lot of fans expressed frustration at how long the comic was spending on a side story — until the arc concluded in a way that made it essential to the main story with a twist that no-one saw coming.
  • The muffin arc in Original Life went on for almost half a year, which is a lot for a comic that doesn't usually go over three pages before moving on to a new topic. According to most fans, it long overstayed its welcome.
  • Paradox Space consists of several short and separate stories, but sometimes they are not short enough:
    • Pones, starring Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff, attracted this reaction despite only being 2 pages long (the comic gets one page every weekday). While SBaHJ's Stylistic Suck humor is funny in smaller doses, getting two days of Sweet Bro playing with a My Little Pony lookalike doll may have been too much.
    • Night at the 100dseum is ten pages long, which means that with one page per weekday, fans had nothing but Karkat and Terezi going through Equius' museum for two weeks straight.
    • The Thirst of Dornamon Gary is another Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff-themed comic, but, unlike Pones, which was two days, this one is a full five days long. At least the story is more interesting than just Sweet Bro playing with a toy unicorn.
    • Among Paradox Space's longest stories were Secret Sufferer (25 pages long) and The Inaugural Death of Mister Seven (24 pages long). These stories, however, would have x2 Update Combos for a week, meaning that two pages would be done a day instead of one, so this took the sting out of it a little. However, not even this could alleviate how long Summerteen Romance was. At over double the length of the aforementioned stories, at 51, even two updates a weekday for a week only just made a dent.
  • The original version of Patapon: Toot-a-loot suffered from this in the prologue. The prologue is a retelling of the events of the games leading up to the end of Patapon 3. The events of the first game is covered quickly in about 5 or so pages, but the Patapon 2 section is heavily in depth for some reason. By the time Smack Jeeves went down, the comic had only made it to the final confrontation of the Patapons against Ormen Karmen at Pata Pole after spending just under 50 pages getting there. The creator knows about this, and has since planned on remaking the comic to trim down the prologue sequence instead of covering the games in depth prior to the main story.
  • The MS Paint Adventure Problem Sleuth has the interminable Demonhead Mobster Kingpin fight, which lasts for longer than the rest of the story. Later lampshaded when Problem Sleuth writes a Strongly Worded Letter containing the phrase "and where do you get off being so difficult anyway, we spent more than half the game fighting you."
  • Sandra and Woo: The Butterfly arc suffered from this, going on for four months. While it wasn't boring, it was fairly long and an interview with a fan even stated that it suffered from this.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • The "Oceans Unmoving" arc attracted a lot of this sentiment, largely because it focuses around a brand new cast, with most of the main characters stuck off-screen for months at a time.
    • The "4U City" arcs, as Riff is the only major character present for them aside from all the alternate reality versions of other characters. The entire arc took place over several years, started and stopped randomly to return to the antics of Torg and Co. in the prime universe, and was particularly annoying since it not only kept Riff out of the main plotline for all this time but also refused to resolve the dangling plot thread about Zoe's fate until the last panel of the last arc.
  • From Spinnerette, the Colonel Glass Saga fell victim to arc fatigue. If you add in the delays and an interlude to preview the author's new book, the saga took over a year to complete in a series where the story arcs normally last about a month or two. It didn't help that the arc is extremely dark for a comedic series; Colonel Glass is a sadistic North Korean operative with the power to control shards of glass. As such, the arc was emotionally exhausting in addition to its length.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent has always had a slow pace, but this effect got a little worse during the last chapter of the first major story arc, which consists of two of the characters trying to escape a large group of Plague Zombie monsters in circumstances that make exterior help extremely unlikely. The chapter's publication was happening in parallel with the production of artwork for the second major story arc, which showed the two characters alive and well, and reinforced the feeling they were taking a long time to either get rid of the Plague Zombie monsters and/or meet up with the rest of the cast.

    Web Original 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall had to deal with this for the "Contest of Champions" storyline. It was meant to be a low-stakes storyline, but trying to do a Tournament Arc proved to be something of a logistics nightmare. Then the COVID-19 Pandemic hit. Then the graphics needed for one of the matches weren't done. The storyline started in 2018 and didn't end until Christmas Day 2023 with a scathing Self-Deprecation about just how long it took and the crap he went through storyline-wise and in real life.
  • RWBY:
    • One common issue fans had with the first volume was that the six episodes immediately after "Players and Pieces" were very slow-paced episodes dealing with school life where Weiss had to grapple with Ruby becoming team leader and Pyrrha discovering Jaune's secret and Jaune dealing with the consequences of it. The slow pace of those episodes, the shortness of each episode, and the fact that they were split across six weeks when the show first aired meant that many fans got tired of waiting for something interesting to happen. This stopped being a problem after the DVD was released, which included a "film" format that allows the entire volume to be watched in a single sitting.
    • Volumes 4 and 5 were criticized by some fans for having multiple plotlines that took a long time to resolve due to the main characters being split apart. One particularly common complaint was that Blake's arc in Menagerie was taking too long to resolve. Another arc that was complained about was RNJR's arc in Mistral in Volume 5, which mostly involved them hanging around the house, only training in one episode, and having exposition-heavy scenes, all while waiting for the plot to advance, while Blake managed to conclude the Menagerie arc all by herself. The experience was much improved on DVD, where you can watch a volume in one go.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series fell into this hard thanks to Schedule Slip, which is frustrating since the source material ended two years before the abridged series even began. LittleKuriboh started abridging the Battle City arc in 2007, and did not finish that arc until 2014, by which time, even he had forgotten some of the Running Gags that he made up. (He later lampshaded this.) The anime ran from 2000 to 2004, meaning that it took longer to abridge a single arc than it did to broadcast the whole original series! And there are still two seasons to go...

    Western Animation 
  • The Jeff in Space arc in American Dad! It was dragged out over the course of three seasons (which amounted to a little more than two years in real life) and it didn't help that it was only focused on at least once per season and that it ultimately resolved via reset button where all the characters (barring Roger, the one who started it in the first place) would forget the events of the whole thing.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko's Heel–Face Turn doesn't happen until the final stretch of Season 3, only a few episodes before the Series Finale. That's despite having the seeds planted as far back as the Season 1 episode "The Blue Spirit". Viewers were guessing it would happen even before that. It was the main drive of his character arc from the beginning of Season 2 onward, including one case in the Season 2 finale where it looks like it's finally going to happen, and then doesn't. While Zuko does still get in a few good moments here and there, it still felt like a long drag to resolve one character's story arc.
  • In the Secret Invasion adaptation in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, it takes the Avengers seven episodes longer than the viewers to realize one of their members became replaced by a Skrull, and another five to discover which Avenger fell victim.note  This wouldn't feel as bad if not for Disney XD taking inexplicably long breaks in between certain episodes, or the possibility that this arc contains more filler than any from the first season. Disney's DVDs arrange the episodes in production order. Because of this, the Avengers discover eight episodes in that an alien lives among them and take another five to find out who exactly the alien replaced. The viewer doesn't get to see what happened to the victim until after they notice a member has been replaced.
  • The Avalon World Tour arc in Gargoyles. The creators weren't pleased about that, however, and when it was coming to a close, made some clear hints that the end was indeed in sight. Due to production issues, episodes couldn't be aired one after another. Hiatuses had to be endured, stretching twenty-some episodes over several months rather than weeks. It wasn't helped by the absence of half the main cast during most of the arc. Made worse by the arc's tendency to recycle plots. Toward the end of the arc, even the characters themselves were tired and longing for it to end.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • The main romance between Marinette/Ladybug and Adrien/Cat Noir has been incredibly slow to progress, not helped by the Flanderization of Marinette. As of its fifth season, the show has had THREE What If? episodes but never allowed the two's relationship to progress in the 100+ episodes aired in that timespan. This led many to either drop the duo or outright drop the series. Said fifth season didn't do much to alleviate the issue, as the duo ends up being hit by an Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Ladybug begins to fall for Cat Noir, who is oblivious to her hints and now only sees Ladybug as friend because Adrien is crushing on Marinette... who is denying her longtime feelings for Adrien due to falling for a Twin Switch between Adrien and his duplicitous cousin Félix in the S4 finale that ultimately cost her all but two of the Miraculous. The show itself seems to be aware of how drawn-out this aspect of the story was, as Alya, who became Marinette's Secret-Keeper in the fourth season, repeatedly bemoans Marinette's avoidance of Adrien when he's finally showing an interest in her and pokes holes in the "logic" behind her sudden infatuation towards Cat Noir. Marinette and Adrien actually do hook up for real later on in Season 5 and stay together, but a good portion of the fandom felt that, while this was long overdue, all the narrative zig-zagging (as well as inconsistent characterization for both halves of the couple) caused the pairing to lose quite a bit of steam in the process. Not helping matters is how Ladybug & Cat Noir: The Movie, a Non-Serial Movie in its own canon that released around the time S5 had wrapped up, ends with the two learning each other's Secret Identity and implicitly getting together in what is effectively an expanded retelling of their origin story, a development that was much better received by fans.
    • Many believe that Hawk Moth has overstayed his welcome as the main villain and the show's repeated attempts to justify his actions come off as hollow. If that wasn't enough, he's drawn ire from those wanting the love square to progress, since two of the aforementioned What If? episodes ("Cat Blanc" and "Ephemeral") all but spell out that he is the single biggest obstacle to Marinette and Adrien getting together. Season 3's "Timetagger" reveals that Hawk Moth will not retain his position as the holder of the Butterfly Miraculous in the future, but how long it would take the show to catch up to that moment, or what that moment would even entail, was anyone's guess until the Season 5 finale, which saw Gabriel's death and Lila's claiming of the Butterfly Miraculous to become the new Hawk Moth.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle episodes ran five minutes a pop with two episodes bookending a half-hour program. Two story arcs went on for uncannily long periods. The first arc, "Jet Fuel Formula," ran from its November 19, 1959 debut to April 2, 1960, running 40 episodes (20 weeks). The third arc, "Upsidasium," went on for 36 episodes (18 weeks, from September 22, 1960 to January 12, 1961).
  • South Park: While the Tegridy Farms arc wasn't too pervasive in Season 22, it was accused of this quickly once it became the main focus of Season 23, of which seven out of ten episodes are entirely about Tegridy and Randy, six of them being in a row. Randy becomes a Creator's Pet and an unlikeable jerkass who murders cows, tries to force his daughter to like weed, and burns other peoples' crops, while the rest of his family become Satellite Characters who do nothing but mope about how miserable their life on the farm is. Even worse is that they have faked out the ending of the arc twice: midway through Season 23 and with the Streaming Wars specials, both of which acknowledge how tired fans are of it. The Tegridy Farms arc has now been running since 2018 and taken over most of the new episodes.
  • Steven Universe: The formation of Malachite and her eventual defeat got hit with arc fatigue. Jasper and Lapis fused to become said fusion in the Season 1 finale, at which point the fusion sequestered in the ocean. Lapis would make one appearance during the entirety of Season 2 via a telepathic conversation, while Malachite herself wouldn't reappear until the Season 3 premiere, which also resolved that plot thread by defeating and unfusing her. Between the Lapis episode and the Season 3 premiere were two consecutive story arcs; three, if you want to treat Peridot's Heel–Face Turn as separate from the concurrent Cluster arc.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003):
    • The Search for Splinter storyline. The arc itself — by that name — only lasted two episodes. It was interrupted before reaching a conclusion, though, by the five-episode-long 'Turtles in Space' arc, finally coming to a close at 'Secret Origins'note , seven episodes after 'Search' had begun. Putting one story arc on hold for a while will have that effect, though.
    • Having a six-parter dedicated to a Triceraton invasion of Earth in the "Space Invaders" three-parter followed up by yet another "Worlds Collide" three-parter where the Triceratons invade Earth, leave Earth, come back again, rinse/repeat, and generally go back-and-forth with the Turtles can be quite tedious to sit through. How much enjoyment one gets out of this long story arc will depend on whether or not one thinks it's worth sitting through for the introduction of Agent Bishop and a few other important plot elements in the Triceraton invasion that would be used for later status-quo-changing story arcs such as Ch'rell utilizing Triceraton technology to escape Earth in the later "Exodus" two-parter.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012):
    • The Pulverizer/Mutagen-Man story arc. It doesn't help that the show seems to forget about him from time to time. Even when Donatello finally develops a cure, he doesn't once mention using it on Timothy.
    • In the first season, after April's father Kirbynote  disappears, it takes the entire season and one fake out for them to finally reunite...and then in the second season, the mutation happens. Then he's turned back to normal... only to get mutated again....
    • The biggest offender is one of the series' longest arcs: namely, Splinter's quest to reunite with his daughter Miwa alias Karai. Not only could this plotline often be forgotten about for several episodes, every time it looked like an actual advancement would be made, something would always come up to ruin everything for them. Such as Miwa getting mutated and then put under Shredder's control. Or Splinter getting badly wounded, separated from everyone, and temporarily reduced to a feral state. Or Splinter temporarily getting killed off until a Reset Button was hit. This ended up lasting several seasons. To top it all off there's no proper resolution. At the end of the fourth season Splinter is killed for real without an actual reunion, meaning the entire plot the viewers were watching since the end of the first season turned out to be All for Nothing.
  • In Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race, the decision to return to a full season's worth of episodes (unlike its parent series which had been using half seasons) was warmly embraced by the fanbase at large. However, it did lead to some problems with this:
    • Stephanie and Ryan, the Daters a.k.a. the Haters Slap-Slap-Kiss Masochism Tango arc, since its about the only thing they contribute to the series. Not helped by the fact they technically lose the race three times but every time just so happens to be a non-elimination round, the third time in "Lord of the Ring Toss" really annoying fans, in particular. The general consensus is they should have either stayed broken up and gone home or made up and gone home in half the time they did so more popular and well-developed teams could have time in the spotlight.
    • Even fans of the duo felt that Carrie and Devin's Will They or Won't They? storyline dragged on for too long, which wasn't helped by the fact it was resolved in one episode. However, this might actually have been the intended reaction, as even Don and the other contestants comment that they've gotten tired of it.
    • Chet and Lorenzo managed to have this despite barely making it past the half-season mark, due to the entirety of their plot happening in the span of their last two legs in the race. Before this, all they did was argue for the entire time they were on screen which got very grating very quickly.
  • Bloom's missing biological parents in Winx Club. They are first mentioned in Episode 13note , but it takes three seasons and one movie before they are finally reunited. It doesn't help that there were other plot threads going on at the same time, with the show only coming back to her missing parents seemingly when it felt like it.
  • Young Justice:
    • The yet-unresolved continuing grand scheme of The Light became this in the second season. So the heroes foil the season-long plans of the Light — surprise, all that was only Phase 1! And some other fans were already thinking this during the first season. Most of the show had a problem with this, actually: there are so many intertwining plotlines going on at the same time, all of them saturated with characters that only seem to be there for the sake of having another new hero/villain, that you can easily get lost between everything or get sick of it. Made all the worse that, by the season finale of Season 2, it's obvious what The Light's plan was: 1) use the Justice League's attack on Rimbor to alert the universe and The Reach to the presence of Earth as a major world; 2) use The Reach to instigate Mongul into bringing War World to Earth; 3) destroy The Reach's plans and give The Guardians a reason to try them for war crimes, in order to take them out of the picture; 4) use The War World around Rimbor to alert the rest of the universe that Earth is hereby off-limits; and 5) complete the previous four objections in preparation for Darkseid ("Wherever there is Light, there is always a Darkseid") and the legions of Apokolips to invade Earth... Season 3 would have been Apokolips invading Earth. The show was canceled before this could possibly have become even more complicated. It really doesn't help that, thanks to multiple hiatuses, the show spent more time off the air than on.
    • When the show was Un-Canceled, the fatigue came back tenfold, and by the conclusion of Season 3, very little progress is seemingly made on the overall series arc. Luthor loses his position as Secretary-General, but remains free and retains his position in the Light. Granny is being punished by Darkseid as a scapegoat, but will undoubtedly be free to continue as before. Despite everything that happened, the alliance between Darkseid and the Light remains firmly intact. There's talk of a great galactic war coming, but it's kept so vague that it's near-impossible to guess what the threat could be. The conflict of this entire season can be considered just setup for the actual central conflict that may or may not finally happen in Season 4. Either way, the arc of the series moved much more slowly than many had expected. Most took it as practically given after the Season 2 stinger that Apokolips would invade Earth in Season 3, but that doesn't happen. The Earth is never under direct threat in Season 3, unless you count the very few minutes it appears Granny has won.
    • This can also apply to the many subplots started or continued in Season 3. Even more so than previous seasons, the writers very clearly did not write the season with any aim to be conclusive. Plot threads are laid all across the season that are never touched upon but are clearly meant to be continued at some point. Anything involving Jason Todd and Ra's al Ghul, Cheshire, or the potential for giving non-metahumans the metagene is left unresolved.
    • While Season 4 does make actual efforts to conclude earlier storylines from as far back as the earlier seasons when it comes to the members of the Team, the Light and Apokolips conflict once again continues at a snail's pace (members from both sides appear as Arc Villains, but the seasonal plot involves an unaffiliated third party in the Phantom Zone Kryptonians lead by General Zod, with the time traveler Lor-Zod only allying with Apokolips to set them free). The upcoming conflict only makes progress in the last episode when the Light imprisons the Phantom Zone's entire population of Kryptonians on the Warworld and hands Kara Zor-El to Darkseid so she can become a Female Fury.

Myth Stall

    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You:
    • It's estimated that at the current rate of girlfriend introductions, it will take around 600 chapters just to reach Girlfriend #100. And each volume consists of 9 chapters, with the exception of Volume 1, which has 5 chapters, making for a quota meeting of around 68 volumes. Assuming a constant rate of 4 volumes per year, that would mean the manga would have to run for about 17 years for the harem to reach full capacity. And that's not even factoring in where the manga goes after that. For reference, by the time the anime aired (almost four years since the series debut), they had only gotten to a quarter of the promised heroines.
    • The catch is how you calculate the rate of girlfriend introductions. If you go with 25 girlfriends in 141 chapters, then you get 560-570 chapters for 100 girlfriends. If you go by number of chapters between girlfriends, then as of Matsuri's (#27) introduction in Chapter 159, it was nine chapters between girlfriends, which would give 657 chapters (73x9) for the rest, meaning an 816-chapter run (159+657), a quota of around 91 volumes, and a 23-year run to reach full capacity. (However, the average number of chapters between girlfriends has increased as the series has continued - around Chiyo's (#12) introduction, it was about six chapters between girlfriends - so the chapter and volume count could still get bigger by #100.)
  • This happened to the Ah! My Goddess manga; around the time it stopped being a Slice of Life series, it started to focus less and less on the series' old plot — Keiichi and Belldandy's glacial-paced relationship — and the series as a whole began to slow down significantly, taking four or five chapters to complete an arc that would initially be resolved in one or two. This also started to happen to the anime in the second season... and it was abruptly canceled. It didn't help any that the manga only released one chapter a month. Although the Nilfheim arc turned out to be a significant improvement (a lot of stuff happens, many minor characters from the past make cameos, and the main couple's relationship finally began to move forward again), the series ended right after that, 25 years after it began. Happily, it ended with their marriage.
  • Attack on Titan took about 65 chapters just to start explaining what the titans are and where they came from. That may not sound like much, but AoT is released only around once a month or so. Most of the world-building comes almost at random in small bits and pieces, choosing to focus more on the character interactions and politics of living in a Crapsack World than the world itself. Also, one of the manga's biggest questions — just what the hell Eren's father hid in his basement — only got revealed in September 2016, more than five years after the manga first started publication.
  • The entirety of Battle Angel Alita: Last Order qualifies as a Myth Stall. More specifically, there's the infamous "vampire" flashback arc that lasted two volumes, and the "Zenith of Things" Tournament Arc has been going on since Volume 4 of Last Order, and finished in 2014 with the sequel being far longer than the original manga.
  • Berserk has its first two volumes In Medias Res, with Griffith turned to The Dark Side as Femto and an enraged Guts wanting Femto's head. Several years and volumes of flashback later, Guts begins setting off on a quest to restore Casca to sanity. These issues released in 1997. He only arrived at the place where he can restore Casca in September 2016, and finally succeeded in February 2018, more than twenty years later. While that's not nearly as long as it sounds chapter-wise, the insanely detailed art style led to a very slow and irregular release schedule. There have been only about 300 chapters total since the series started back in 1990. And with the death of the manga's author in May 2021, the story stopped cold right then and there, though it was later announced in June 2022 that the story would continue via Miura's assistants at Studio Gaga under the supervision of his longtime friend and collaborator Kouji Mori (of Holyland and Suicide Island fame).
  • Bleach was notorious for this with its utterly slow pacing after the Daily Life arc. The Soul Society, Arrancar, and Blood War arcs always stalled the story for fights, fights, and more fights just to give screen time to supporting characters. Granted, the characters showed off new abilities but the battles were always a tug of war, and a few wound up ending with an outside source having to step in to finish the battle. When Ichigo finally confronts Big Bad Yhwach in the final arc, the battle is ridiculously short due to the fact the manga author's health was swiftly failing, leaving him unable to continue producing it and resulting in a rushed climax and ending.
  • Case Closed is, as of the end of 2019, at 97 books and 1036 collected chapters (uncollected chapters bring it over 1040 total, with the 300th case underway), although if you removed all the cases which don't progress the main or side plots, the numbers would likely be closer to 20 and 250.
  • Digimon Ghost Game: While the series alludes to a deeper plot, what with Gammamon's Superpowered Evil Side, the mysterious BlackTailmon which has strange powers, the even more mysterious BlackAgumon and BlackGalgomon appearing whenever GulusGammamon appears, a mystery is set up, but the vast majority of the series is a Monster of the Week plot that never alludes to this, making watchers annoyed at the lack of development.
  • D.N.Angel: The manga started in November 1997, and the only closure we have as-of-yet is the anime, which completely branched out into its own after it ran out of source material. But the fangirls are still waiting. Oh, yes, we're still waiting. As a matter of fact, Yukiru Sugisaki is infamous for her habit of starting another manga before finishing the one she was working on. The only manga she's ever actually finished is Rizelmine, which was a one-volume series.
  • While Fly Me to the Moon manages to cut through the Will They or Won't They? by having the main couple get together at the start of the series, the series can suffer from this for other reasons.
    • In Chapter 30, Nasa's apartment building burns down, resulting in him and Tsukasa planning on moving into a new apartment together at the back of their friend's bathhouse place. This was finally resolved over 100 chapters later in an anti-climactic fasion after the finale: because Tsukasa went missing and Nasa spent all his waking hours trying to find her, they missed their chance to move in, and decided to stay behind the bathhouse anyway.
    • The series occasionally drops hints at who exactly Tsukasa is, but only answered this question at the very end of the first series. In essence, Tsukasa has been 16 years old 1,400 times but ISN'T the girl from the bamboo cutter story like everyone assumed. She's actually a girl from the village who fell gravely ill shortly afterwards: her father was assigned to burn the elixir of life but instead used it to save her non-consensually. So far the second series is much more forthcoming about exploring this side of Tsukasa, even devoting the opening story of the second series to it, but this is at the expense of the occasional Cerebus Syndrome.
  • Glass Mask has got to be some kind of record holder — despite the fact the comic started in 1976, we still have yet to find out who will be cast as "The Crimson Goddess". On top of that, the Love Triangle hasn't actually resolved either. That's over forty years without resolution to two key plot points. The severe bouts of Schedule Slip haven't helped any either. There have been three different anime that have come out in that time, none of which even attempt a Gecko Ending to provide some semblance of resolution.
  • Hajime no Ippo: Regardless of which you consider the myth arc, Ippo fighting Miyata again or Ippo becoming the world champion, the series reached its 900th chapter with no signs of progress with either. In fact, the rematch with Miyata was steadily delayed for over five hundred chapters, a decade in real-world terms. Ippo and Kumi date for about as long, and never kiss once. Even worse, with Ippo losing his comeback match and mentally confirming that something's seriously wrong with him, readers had to confront the possibility that neither potential myth arc would be resolved. Certainly Ippo becoming world champion is dead as a story goal.
  • Heaven's Lost Property treads into this territory. You have two or three chapters with the plot moving ahead, albeit not very fast, and then four to six of filler that can range from "pretty funny" to "What the hell did I just read?" Add to that it's a monthly manga and the fact it's taking forever to get answers.
  • Hunter × Hunter: The Chimera Ant arc was widely hated for its extremely slow pacing, although at the time it seemed much slower-paced than it ended up being due to constant Series Hiatus. The arc lasted 132 chapters, but in real time took over nine years to conclude — the manga was only six years old when the Chimera Ant arc started.
  • Infinite Stratos: Instead of moving the plot forward, the anime keeps introducing girls to Ichika's harem and putting too much focus on the harem antics. By the end of Season 2, the heroes are no closer to stopping Phantom Task than they were at the beginning, and the World Purge OVA is just an extended romantic fantasy almost entirely disconnected to the main plot. Not helping at all are Schedule Slips caused by the author's health problems. As of 2016, the franchise hasn't released any new content.
  • Inuyasha ran for twelve years. And from years three to eleven, the story progressed so slowly that you'd be forgiven for thinking it had completely stalled. Character relations changed somewhat throughout those years, but every time the story seemed to be coming to a climax, a Diabolus ex Machina would set everything back to square one. It's generally accepted even by fans of the series that over two-thirds of the chapters could be removed from the story's middle section, and the overall narrative wouldn't be impacted at all.
  • Monster Musume has been suffering this for a while regarding the primary question of the series — which member of his Unwanted Harem is Kimihito going to marry? It's become increasingly ridiculous as the series has gone on since things have progressed from human-liminal relationships being forbidden to the point where there are now dating services and singles' events specifically geared toward interspecies relationships. It's not helped by the side arcs that have focused on the supporting characters or the fact that publishing has slowed from roughly a chapter per month to one every four to five months.
  • Naruto:
    • The failed first attempt to retrieve Sasuke ended in 2005 after six volumes, and for years they were still nowhere near close to getting him back. It finally happened in 2013, and even then, he didn't really complete the damn turn until 2014, during the last three chapters of the manga. The anime has over 200 episodes in the first half and over 300 in Part II. Good luck trying to keep up.
    • The Naruto anime and its sequel, Naruto: Shippuden, are infamous for their awful pacing, no thanks to endless flashbacks that often dragged down action scenes. In total, the filler takes up approximately 40% of each series.
    • To wit: forty-five new episodes aired in 2015, and only eight were plot-relevant. note 
  • The Myth Arc of Negima! Magister Negi Magi revolving around Negi's quest to find his father doesn't really start until around volume three, and even then it doesn't become the focal point of the series until Volume 18 or so. Several volumes later, Negi isn't even close to finding him and although some details of the backstory have been revealed, they don't help much to figure out what happened to Negi's father, especially after he's revealed to be the Lifemaker's current host. At the end Negi manages to save his dad somehow, but the whole problem is resolved offscreen with many unanswered questions.
  • The manga version of Neon Genesis Evangelion started in 1995, and it finally came to an end with Chapter 95. In July 2013. Yeah, that's 18 years later. Especially egregious considering that the manga only recounts what happened in the 26 episodes of the anime plus the alternate theatrical finale The End of Evangelion — all of which had been resolved since 1997. Unlike other adaptations, the manga stayed very close to the original anime and it didn't add any additional content except for slight change of order and the infamous scene of Kaworu killing a kitten. Understandably in a similar vein to the original anime, many fans began to question the sanity of the artist.
  • One Piece:
    • The manga was supposed to be five years long, but author Eiichiro Oda having fun with the plot stalled the bigger story's progression. A lot. Since the story's debut in 1997, protagonist Monkey D. Luffy isn't much closer to finding the One Piece than when he started. Besides that, there's not only been no answer as to where the One Piece is, there's been no answer as to what it is. No wonder so many people have Commitment Anxiety when it comes to this series. It took until 2022 for One Piece to finally move towards its final arc, and this was after the four years it took for the story to make it past the Wano arc.
    • Consider the case of Fishman Island. Around 2001 or so, a fan asked if it would ever feature in the story. Oda's response: "Soon." Six years later, the Straw Hats set sail with Fishman Island as their next destination, only to spend a year's worth of story on what boils down to a side trip. Then, they're finally one stop away from Fishman Island, all they need to do is finish preparations on their ship... and the story gets sidetracked yet again. The focus was off of the Straw Hat crew in favor of just Luffy, showing his backstory and a desire to get stronger. In late 2010, the Straw Hats finally made it to Fishman Island, nine years after Oda's proclamation that they would arrive "soon."
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • For most of the anime's run, Ash was no closer to being a Pokémon Master than he was back during the first season, despite still being 10 years old; some say that he looks younger than when he started. It doesn't help that with each new series, he hits a Reset Button on his team and his Pikachu's strength tends to fluctuate until later in that series. It isn't until Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon where Ash finally sheds the label of "perennial choker" with a long-awaited Pokémon League Conference win in October 2019, becoming the Alola Champion in the process — 22 years after the show started.
    • After 25 real-life years, Ash's adventures finally come to a head in Pokémon Journeys: The Series. He becomes recognized as one of the eight strongest Trainers in the world within the World Coronation Series, and ultimately ends up beating the undefeated Monarch Leon in the finals, dethroning him and taking the title of Monarch for himself, thus now officially being recognized as the strongest Trainer in the world. A subsequent 11-episode special series marked Ash's final chapter into becoming a Pokémon Master (aptly titled Pokémon: To Be a Pokémon Master).
  • A common complaint about Rent-A-Girlfriend is that the story drags out much longer than it needs to be. There are several instances throughout the series where it seems Kazuya and Chizuru are actually taking several steps forward and getting closer to one another, but little comes out of it and they often end up taking many steps back. Most chapters also don't cover much ground themselves, with several only covering a single date or other outing. In general, the pace is suited for a binge read, but once caught up, the ongoing weekly releases feel like a slow crawl.
  • Slow Start is about a girl who ends up entering high school a year late due to being sick for the entrance exams, resulting in her going to high school in a different town. A major plotline is her deciding whether to tell her friends about her unique situation since she considers it rather shameful. She only manages to do so after 92 monthly chapters.
  • Vinland Saga seems to be heading this way.
    • Chapter 54 ends with the line "End of Prologue." If 54 chapters of a weekly-turned-monthly-comic being a "prologue" doesn't give you an idea of how long the author plans to write this, then nothing will. Guess he's living up to the name "Vinland Saga."
    • The so-called Farmland Saga arc certainly exhibits arc fatigue. Since the author wanted to separate Thorfinn's life in slavery from his former life as much as possible, the pace is veeeery deliberate, and it takes several chapters for anything significant to happen. Stuff has started happening, however, and the pace has quickened once again.
  • The Wallflower: 28 volumes and counting, and Sunako and Kyouhei still haven't confessed seriously or even admitted they feel romantic love. That drumming sound you hear is the fans' heads banging against the wall.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has the overall plot of Yuya rescuing Yuzu. It's properly introduced in Episode 47, they have a second meeting in Episode 92 and are immediately separated again, meet again in Episode 113, are separated again in Episode 115, and aren't permanently reunited all the way until Episode 148, the last episode of the series. That's about five episodes out of 102 where the two were actively sharing screentime.

    Comic Books 
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us is a tie-in prequel comic of the video game of the same name that has continued publication years after the game's release and has received general criticism from readers due to the Foregone Conclusion nature of the story and the overall feeling the story is loaded with Padding to fill the 5-year gap between the events that triggered the story and the beginning of the video game. For example, Year Three's climax is a stretched out fight between Trigon and Mr. Myxptlk that begins unraveling reality beginning on Issue #17 until the end, lasting longer than it has any right to according to readers and by the fact no matter what happens, the end result of that fight is moot since continuity demands everything will be back to normal.
  • XIII is infamous in Europe. The story is about an amnesiac man who's found on the beach and has the number XIII on his collarbone. The first book came out in 1984. XIII discovers his identity in the fourth that came out in 1988 but then the fourteenth reveals that this identity may not be actually the true one. It's not until the penultimate album (2007) that his true identity is revealed.
  • A common criticism of X-Men is that the mutants are no closer to their dream of normal/mutant equality than when they started. And whenever they do come close — say, the time in the early 2000s when an influx of mutants went public and the books started to explore what it actually means to be a minority — the Reset Button gets hit hard. They come close again after Avengers vs. X-Men, where they're getting a lot more support overall and Cyclops has been getting hero worship because of using the Phoenix to nearly solve world hunger, stabilize the climate, and force peace between warring nations. However, the Reset Button was hit yet again with the divisive Inhumans vs. X-Men.

    Fan Works 
  • Eroninja: Naruto's overall goal has always been world peace, which he's been working towards since the first chapter. However, the story is over one hundred chapters long and, with the supplementary material, caps in at over two and a half million words. Despite this, Naruto and his group are no closer to their goal than they were to start, even though almost every canon villain and antagonistic faction has been dealt with, partly due to the author inventing several more as part of their world building.
  • The Stalking Zuko Series has a fairly slow-paced romance arc between Zuko and Katara. They do work out their differences by the end of the first installment, and Katara gradually realizes her feelings for Zuko over the course of the second, but since the author chose to stick to The Stations of the Canon, Katara doesn't confess for a long time. Katara does confess after Zuko's Agni Kai with Azula, but he ends up forgetting said confession as a result of his near-death experience and ends up getting back together with Mai for a little while. As a result of that and various other factors, such as Hakoda's disapproval of Katara seeing Zuko, Katara doesn't confess again until near the end of the series.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Animorphs was never meant to go on as long as it did, and it really shows towards the end — other than a single Megamorphs and Visser, nothing between Books 35 and 45 contributed to the overarching plot at all, instead defaulting to filler books the entire time.
  • A Certain Magical Index has Aleister Crowley and Lola Stuart being set up early on as main villains. In the first series — 22 books long, not counting side stories or other material — their plans aren't actually revealed, with only a few hints as to what they might be. These are only revealed in Book 18 of the second series.
  • The Dresden Files's Will They or Won't They? plot between Murphy and Harry stretched for 11 books, with occasional moments of romantic and sexual tension that both people acknowledged but rejected whenever the subject was brought up. First it didn't work because Murphy didn't trust Harry. Then it didn't work because she only wanted a casual relationship. Then it didn't work because both were dating other people. Then it didn't work because Harry was killed before they could consummate it. Then it didn't work because Harry was too ashamed of himself to renew their friendship. Then it didn't work because Murphy didn't trust Harry (again) and feared the Mantle's effects on him. Then it didn't work because Harry's demon brain-baby crippled his interactions with other people. Some actual fans of the relationship lost interest in it because A) the author took thousands of pages to provide a conclusion, and/or B) it became hard to believe in the characters' constant claims of affection and loyalty when they didn't do anything about these feelings. And then they finally get together only for Murphy to get Killed Off for Real immediately after it.
  • People started thinking that Gone would do this after the release of Lies, which contributed nothing to the main plot, other than Drake and Brittney coming back to life and Sharing a Body. But Plague changed their minds.
  • The House of Night: Neferet is the primary villain of the series and is plotting to Take Over the World. Zoey and her friends realize Neferet is evil and vow to stop her in the second book, Betrayed. There are ten more books in the main series after this and stopping Neferet is the protagonists' primary goal the entire time. Notably, in-universe only about a year passes, but the books themselves were published over seven years. A lot of readers have mentioned finding the books more of a drag to read around the halfway mark, especially as they tend to be padded out with Zoey's romantic drama rather than actual plot progression.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle suffers from this in relation to Kvothe's pursuit of the Chandrian, which has barely advanced at all over the course of two huge doorstoppers. Kvothe only sporadically makes any effort to find information on them, leading to what is supposedly the series' myth arc falling by the wayside frequently as more mundane issues like Kvothe's student finances take centre stage for extended periods of time.
  • The prologue of the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire, featured a Night's Watchman encountering an Other, a creature long thought extinct, and its appearance heralding an oncoming apocalypse. Five books later, the Others have still not reached the Wall, on the northermost end of the seven kingdoms, and have only had one significant 'on-screen' appearance since that first prologue. Daenerys Targaryen, the last surviving heir of the previously ruling Targaryen dynasty, has, five books in, still never set foot on the continent of which she claims to be the rightful Queen.
  • Warrior Cats. The story of the three was extended to two miniseries, which means The Three's story will take twelve books, while the other stories took six each.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • The plot kept getting slower and slower and slower over the course of ten books, with Books 8-10 representing the lowest point, though Book 11 had as much actual plot development as the previous three combined, and the last three books (completed by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan's death) continued at this pace.
    • The most egregious case was Book 10 "Crossroads of Twilight" which is a multiple hundred-page-long book about people's reactions to the finale of the previous book. It plays out the day of and its following day or so over and over with all the main characters and most of the significant side ones. And this took place just after we had gotten out of three books wherein the three main protagonists had maybe five chapters between them, and had focused solely on the exploits of the trio of Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve, and all their various doings. Which were important, admittedly, but still should not have displaced the main three protagonists roles.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Malifaux has an arc relating to the return of the Tyrants, but any actual progress is glacial. The Mass Empowering Event that occurred in Book Two had its immediate aftermath (a matter of about a week) stretched out over three years of books.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Invoked. For 30 years in a row, absolutely no one on the development team had any ambition to let the in-universe timeline advance past December 31st, 40,999. Officially this is because 40k isn't so much a story as a setting, so it doesn't technically have a storyline, only a backstory. More to the point, however, "advancing the storyline" would have logically meant killing off the Tau and possibly the Imperium as well; which were the two best-selling factions as of 2013.
    • As of 8th Edition, which was released in Summer 2017, we are a few centuries into the next millennium, and the plotline has advanced. The Imperium hangs on hard-pressed, and the Tau are advancing. The more things change...
    • Fans of Warhammer, the fantasy predecessor to 40k, were also familiar with this problem as the setting didn't really seem to develop much at all for years. Then came the End Times and the resulting reboot, Age of Sigmar, which... makes more than a few old players miss the Arc Fatigue days. Based on the example the End Times, not everyone is sure they want 40k to advance anymore.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat has suffered from this ever since the third game, which was set far in the future and concerned a semi-secret war between competing Mega Corps and a shadowy conspiracy involved with both of them and the organization trying to keep the peace. Later games would go back to Next Sunday A.D. settings, with the promise that they would show how the world got to that point... a promise which would be forgotten almost immediately with the introduction of the Belkan War and its aftermath, where absolutely everything that has ever happened in the series since — even retroactively, through a remake of Ace Combat 2has something to do with Belkan infiltrators who really didn't take their loss well. Ace Combat 7 does suggest that the narrowly averted Robot War is the precursor to the events of Electrosphere (and its direct prequel Advance) due to the factions involved coupled with some blink-and-you'll-miss-it nods, but this merely means Belka's behind-the-scenes meddling in foreign affairs is indirectly responsible for all that as well.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Desmond Miles' arc, which kept interrupting the much more interesting and entertaining segments as Altair/Ezio/Connor etc. Desmond himself did get platforming Le Parkour sections, but they were extremely linear and often didn't have any optional objectives or side areas. By the time Assassin's Creed III ended Desmond's story arc, nobody cared about him anymore.
    • Then there is the fact that Assassins and Templars have been trapped in a Forever War with no end in sight. Even some characters in-game have expressed concerns over the fact both sides have fought this long without even trying to reach a compromise but are usually brushed off.
  • The King of Fighters managed to take two seemingly unrelated subplots and drag them out into a decades-long narrative slog. In KOF '99, Chinese esper Sie Kensou mysteriously loses his psychic abilities, only to learn they're linked to a hitherto unknown power shared between him and his teammate Bao: the Dragon Spirit. After these powers subconsciously manifest within Kensou in order to save Athena, he later makes a vow at the end of the arc to master them. Meanwhile, 2000 sees the introduction of Lin, a mysterious member of Hizoku (a clan of Chinese assassins) who has entered the tournament to find leads on Ron, the former head of Hizoku who betrayed his kin to join the NESTS cartel. Ron himself appears as a Striker for Zero, the sub-boss of 2001, and both he and Lin disappear following the defeat of Igniz in the same game. 2003 then introduces players to Duo Lon, another Hizoku assassin and one of Ron's numerous sons, who joins KOF to do some reconnaissance of his own regarding his father. The next installment, XI, has Kensou return from his training with newfound mastery over the Dragon Spirit — a development noticed by an approving Ron, who is now joined by a small group of supporters including the aforementioned Lin and Igniz's lover Misty. While this takes a backseat to Ash's enigmatic nature and the machinations of Those From the Past (a cult seeking to unseal Orochi, the Big Bad of KOF's first arc), the main antagonist of XIII cryptically alludes to Ron in his pre-fight dialogue with Duo Lon, presumably setting the stage for Ron to take up the Arc Villain mantle in the future. Flash-forward to XIV, released in 2016 (roughly six years after its predecessor)... and this is completely dropped for a story that is largely divorced from anything else that has happened up to that point, with Kensou in his usual comic relief role and the Hizoku nowhere in sight. Fans are no closer to having any questions on the matter ex. answered than they were back at the Turn of the Millennium. What makes this even more noticeable is how XIV and XV are heavily reliant on other plot threads from this point in KOF history and even earlier parts of SNK's greater canon.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3 (2005) was intended to portray the Start of Darkness of Big Boss, the main villain of the MSX Metal Gear games, and ended with a scene of him saluting the grave of the mentor he was forced to execute on orders from the US government after she defected, also on orders from the US government. A combination of having to make sequels against the creator's will, Pandering to the Base and Aesop Amnesia led to a slew of games which all claimed they would explain exactly why Big Boss turned towards evil, and all of which ended up showing little more than Big Boss being in morally dubious environments in which he has to do horrible things for justifiable reasons, and at the end of every game taking off his bandanna and saying he accepts the title of Big Boss. The final game in this arc, Metal Gear Solid V (2014/2015), was hyped as being the one that would show the turn for real, but this would turn out to be Superdickery, with the reveal that the Big Boss who actually did all the horrible things he's responsible for before the MSX games was a Body Double; with Hideo Kojima gone from the series, it is fair to say that we have had five whole Big Boss games to explain how he eventually became an insane, despotic Blood Knight without any of them actually showing that, and we will never get one. For contrast, in only four titles Solid Snake was able to transition from being a socially awkward young government commando, to a Shell-Shocked Veteran coming to terms with how much he loves battle, to a warm-hearted Trickster Mentor and humanitarian, and then a tired old man dealing with his eventual death.
  • The Star Trek Online Iconian Arc, hinted at during an old mission back when the game was first released, then dragged along once Cryptic changed owners and began tightening up the game. The entire story took five years, ten seasons and two expansions to complete.
  • Fans of the Trails Series got fed up with The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel getting four whole games dedicated to the Erebonian Empire where many players would rather move on towards the Calvard arc. Contrast to both The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky which focused on the Liberl arc for three games and The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero and its sequel Trails to Azure which take place in Crossbell State.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Those who criticize the premise often cite arc fatigue. In each expansion, the Alliance and Horde have faced enemies that threatened both of them, and instead of working together to end the threat, they bring their war with them everywhere they go. The fact that both factions are led by a couple of belligerent warmongers does not help matters, either. In The Burning Crusade, the blood elves and the draenei (and their respective allies) put aside their differences to fight the Burning Legion under the naaru. In Wrath of the Lich King, the orcs and humans escalate the war while inside of the home zone of the Lich King, though the Argent Crusade still manages to create a successful joint offensive. In Cataclysm, the war escalates to a full-scale war while Deathwing is trying to destroy the planet. In Mists of Pandaria, the war is the primary plot, while the evils of Pandaria are dealt with and become weapons of the Horde later.
    • This is lampshaded by Wrathion, who is frustrated with the inability of the Alliance and Horde to truly work together to defend against a larger threat in the Burning Legion, and tries to manipulate events so that the Alliance achieves dominance over the Horde.
    • This is largely averted in Warlords of Draenor, where both factions work together to fight the Iron Horde, and conflict is mostly limited to a competition to recover rare artifacts from a remote island. The promotional material for Legion also seems to indicate that the Alliance and Horde will truly join forces to battle the Burning Legion.
    • Legion did indeed feature the Alliance and Horde putting their differences aside long enough to defeat the Burning Legion, but the aftermath of Sargeras's defeat reignited the feud. The next expansion, Battle for Azeroth, brought the faction war front and center as the primary driver of the plot. Endgame content was shorted in favor of ever-increasing PvP objectives, much to the dismay of PvE players.

  • Ava's Demon has taken place in-universe for a little more than a single day, despite starting its publication in 2012, in part due to regular hiatuses due to the author's health and other issues causing a lot of space between updates. By the end of 2019, Ava is no closer to reuniting the other demons than she was when the comic started, and though she is surrounded by three of them, she only knows about two.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl: With not a single arc or subplot to point to, it's been all angst and drama with no end in sight for years.
  • Drowtales, via retcons and sidestories, has suffered minorly from this early on, with later chapters improving it. Many fans were quite amused when one forum-goer noted that thanks to the creators remaking the first several chapters one character had been carrying around another dead character's dead body for the better part of three real-world years until he showed up again.
  • Whether you consider Lord Tedd or Magus to be the subject of the myth arc for El Goonish Shive, both have been going on an interminably long time. Lord Tedd was introduced early in the strip's run and seemed to be building up to be the comic's Big Bad, but he was Put on a Bus after the Painted Black arc, and aside from implications that Tedd might be going down the same path he hasn't been even mentioned since 2008. This is largely due to Magus' storyline intruding at the start of 2007. That storyline is only just now hitting its climax, nearly eleven years later. That there are multiple arcs peppering the comic's run that aren't much related to either plotline doesn't help.note 
  • Homestuck also falls under this category, as despite being a long runner by webcomic standards, it took six real-time years for the heroes to actually start moving against the villains and take steps towards completing their game session, after a whole act of teenage angst dominating the plot. Not helped by Andrew Hussie taking a year off to work on Hiveswap and other merchandise. Andrew Hussie intended to release the rest of Homestuck in one big burst, which was rendered completely null when circumstances forced him to go back to updating the comic as it was drawn. With a year-long hiatus behind it and another pause near the end of Act 6 Intermission 5, it took seven years for the kids to finish the blasted game. A common suggestion among the fandom is that the abrupt Gainax Ending was written that way just so the comic could finally be finished.
  • Joe vs. Elan School: Joe's stories post-Elan, especially following his trip to Denver. As readers on the comic's subreddit have noted, aside from occasional mentions about Elan (and oblique references to how it affects his mindset), or the arguments he has with his parents, the comic feels like it is straying away from the "versus Elan" focus and has fallen into an Exponential Plot Delay documenting all of Joe's borderline-unbelievable misadventures. To his credit, though, Joe acknowledges this in later chapters, and the payoff ends up being Joe stopping his risky behaviors after one too many close calls, meeting and falling in love with Maria, earning his happy ending, then pouring his energies into taking down Elan School once and for all.
  • Misfile: it took six years to cover about six months' worth of story, and there was still six months worth of story ahead. Three entire chapters (of about 120 pages each) of pure filler and padding and no plot advancement, which took about a year and a half to play. Even the hardcore fans were beginning to rebel. It took 17 volumes to advance 9 months and it has been admitted in comic that the only way the Misfile can be resolved is through some divine miracle that is unlikely. Word of God stated the series wouldn't end until Ash graduated high school, which it made good on its final chapter in 2019, fifteen years after the series began.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Pete claimed to be "wrapping up the story" around 2007, and yet the main characters continued to fight HeretiCorp and Oasis for years, and continued to struggle with the mystery of oasis. The gang looks like they're about to get somewhere with this multiple times, only to go off on one diversion after another.
    • Gwynn used to be this, just falling out of the strip in 2009, and the arc of Torg slowly going insane. Both of these could be instances of What Happened to the Mouse? or Aborted Arc. Gwynn came back later, though.
  • Sugar Bits which started off with an interesting premise and a trip to a nightmare world. Things came to a screeching halt once the protagonists meet Licorice and have since been in battle with her forces that, (as of this entry) is still going. Granted this is mostly due to the artist flip-flopping between this and his other comics. But one could cover three story arcs in the time it takes for the characters of this series to strike a blow. As of 2012, this fight has finally ended, but the artist has fallen into this with another one of his own series, Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi, which has been stuck on one fight scene for several months.

    Web Original 
  • The Spoony Experiment: Spoony was trying to develop a Myth Arc over the course of the reviews. The story seemed to be that the Gate Cleaner and the Ultimate Warrior were working for the Guardian, who was intending to invade and conquer our world, but he abandoned his plans because Sephiroth was going to destroy the world with a meteor, and somehow was harnessing Spoony's hatred of Final Fantasy for his plan. There were also hints that Burton had been reprogrammed for some purpose (implicitly by Sephiroth), Spoony may have been trapped in some Platonic Cave illusion (which may or may not be related to the Burton subplot), and somehow Pumpkinhead may have been involved. Whatever the story was supposed to be, the Kudzu Plot nature of their development, Spoony's sporadic updating schedule, and the fact the story wasn't very good and didn't seem to have a point, meant that a lot of viewers didn't really care either way.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: This is ultimately what spelled the doom of the Myth Arc of the identity of Archer's father. Way back in Episode 6 of Season 1, Nikolai Jakov (head of the KGB) is established as Archer's father, but then the finale backtracks on this and has him as only one possible candidate of three. Then in part one of Season 2's two-part finale, Archer flies to Russia to get a DNA test with Jakov, but Boris ruins the test, so we still don't know if it's Jakov. Then in Season 3, after Malory starts dating Burt Reynolds, the show drops a few hints that he might be the father (he wasn't one of the other two original candidates). Then in a later episode in that season, Malory brings up a completely different guy to any of the other candidates that she believes might be the father. And then (still in the same season) Jakov gets killed off by Barry in a way that leaves no DNA behind, so if Jakov was the father, Archer and the audience would never know. Then in Season 4, when Archer is bitten by a cobra, he flashes back to a memory of meeting his real father when he was a kid, only to forget who it was immediately, and since we never saw his face, we don't who it was either (the only clue is that it doesn't seem to be any of the pervious candidates, and that is if the memory was even real). After three and a half seasons and six candidates, you will probably be more annoyed than you ever were intrigued. This is what lead series creator Adam Reed to abandon the arc as he felt that the fans no longer cared to find out the answer. After the Season 4 episode, the question is never brought up again.