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Arc Fatigue

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"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 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 five years ago. 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. See The Chris Carter Effect.


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).


Compare 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).

Examples with their own pages

Examples of Arc Stall:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • 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:
    • How some fans think about 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 gets 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 has very little to actually do. As a result, much of February drags with the students doing various things, leaving many fans wishing for Matsui to just get to the final arc already.
  • 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 through an entire year, which is to say a lot in a manga with very short and to-the-point arcs. Adopting the "flashback in the middle of fights" trope that this manga mostly avoids certainly made the fights longer than whats 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, overstayed its welcome.
  • 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 gets especially bad during the Red Ribbon Army saga, perhaps reaching its worst point in the General Blue portions, which include episodes where Goku and friends spend the whole time essentially 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 does in the manga.
    • Dragon Ball Z: An example so infamous that they recut the series just to make it more palatable. In the original manga, the Frieza and Cell sagas are of the exact same length and both the longest arcs (the Buu Saga has more chapters than both, but they tend to be a lot shorter). The Cell Saga, however, gets off lighter than the Frieza Saga simply due to actually being able to change location/scenery.
      • The Namek/Frieza Saga(s). While not the most blatant examples, they are by far the most (in)famous. Several of the episodes consisted of just characters speaking or flying from one place to another, with very few fight sequences to break it all up. One episode was just Bulma tricking two of Frieza's henchmen into looking for the Dragon Balls, which turned into a Bizarro Episode after the henchmen were gone since it had no impact on the saga's plot at all. "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. Lampshaded in Dragon Ball Z Abridged when Krillin randomly notes at one point that "We're still on Namek!" For reference, that was in the twenty-fourth episode, and they'd landed on Namek in the thirteenth episode, while the entire Saiyan Saga was covered in ten episodes. For the record, the Frieza Saga clocked in at twenty episodes, the last of which was not half again 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.
      • 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. Of course, this lasted one manga chapter too, only 14 pages aren't exactly the same as 22 minutes.
      • TFS' Dragon Ball Z Kai Abridged Episode 2 managed 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, which clocks in at two minutes and 10 seconds.
    • Dragon Ball Super:
      • The Future Trunks arc is often criticized for this. There's some nice down time with Future Trunks interacting with the main universe cast once again after the end of the Cell arc, which had some good character development. On the other hand, the whole dealing with Goku Black in between this development just feels like a rinse-repeat cycle that involves Goku and Vegeta going to the future, trying to fight Black, getting stomped, and fleeing back to the past. This happens twice, while the endgame only happens on the third trip. To say noting of the main fight itself that ultimately ends up pointless in the endgame. It could've ended at several prior points, rather than the long run because Zamasu turns into this black mass of hatred that kills everyone save for the heroes with Goku having to call in the Zen-O of that timeline to wipe out Zamasu...and Future Trunks' entire timeline with it.
      • The following arc, the Universal Survival Arc, has been inconsistently hit with this. After a setup that took 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 started and was initially well-received for its wild action and Visual Effects of Awesome. However, as the tournament has gone on significantly longer than even the Future Trunks arc — despite, in classic Dragon Ball fashion, the tournament only lasting 48 minutes in-universe — it's started to fall into fatigue territory. While some fans enjoy the unique battles and non-stop action, others have criticized many of the fights for being glorified Filler that lack plot progression or emotional impact. This reached a head when Jiren took 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 new 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 flat personality, effortless defeating of multiple popular characters, and poorly-received Freudian Excuse.
  • The journey to Elfheim in Berserk. The first time the place was mentioned as a possible destination for Guts and Casca is in a volume released in 2002 (the chapter itself, #181, being even older). Fast forward to 2015, and they've only just arrived there (in chapter 342). (To be fair, there was a lot going on in between; also, there tend to be long and frequent breaks between chapter releases.)
  • 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 have lamented the fact that JoJolion has been in print nearly eight years and still doesn't have a clearly defined Big Bad.
  • 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.
  • 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. Tite Kubo had never intended it to be so long but Executive Meddling insisted on the unexpectedly popular Arrancar each receiving A Day in the Limelight. 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 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 Fake Karakura Town arc, 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, as the manga's early cancellation forced the last stretch to be heavily compressed into something that feels extremely rushed, with many new, game-changing plot points being brought up without ever really being fully touched upon.
  • 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 was because the arc, combined with the Water 7 arc that proceeded it and led 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 was shown in full in the anime.
    • The Skypeia arc has 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 was that Luffy's fight with the Big Bad essentially "ended" a full 17 chapters before the Big Bad was finally "defeated." The seven chapter-long flashback didn't help either, 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 long, drawn-out battle sequence. To put this into perspective: When the Straw Hats started heading for Sabaody Archipelago, that was chapter 490. After the Straw Hats got split up, Took a Level in Badass, met up again and then finally headed down to Fishman island, that was chapter 602. For those keeping track, that's exactly 112 chapters, not even including the month-long hiatus that the manga went on for the time skip.
    • Fishman Island in the anime. Due to the anime's "one episode equals one chapter" pacing, Fishman Island really dragged on TV. All subsequent arcs falls victim to this too or worse—some episodes in the Punk Hazard arc used only half of a chapter's worth of story. One such episode consisted almost solely of Sanji, Nami, Franky, and Chopper running across a day care room with little happening besides banter.
    • Dressrosa eventually became the longest arc in the series by a large margin, lasting exactly one hundred chapters; the aforementioned Skypiea Arc lasted only 66 chapters. The fact that the arc had Loads and Loads of Characters, even by One Piece standards, did it no favors. It also set 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 was semi-justified as many characters in the arc would become part of the Straw Hat Grand Fleet, but it still dragged in many fans eyes.
  • Pokémon
    • 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 was only around 80 episodes depending on the inclusion/disregard of a couple banned episodes. However, it had one particularly long gap that occurred between the 6th and 7th gym badges at 27 episodes (29 if you count Holiday Hi-Jynx and Snow Way Out). There was also about 10 episodes of Filler after the 8th badge, which amounted to Ash basically sitting at home waiting for the Kanto league to start. It was around this time that Japan had realized that they had an anime-hit on their hand, so they had to extend the series in some way before the release of the Johto games (Hence, the 36 episode long Orange Islands which served as a substitute for an Elite Four arc).
    • Johto: 158 episodes. Compounded by the fact that there was 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-4th 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. An aversion on the whole mainly due to the addition of Contests, though a case can be made for the Petalburg-Rustboro & Dewford Island arcs, which were early on and paced slowly. The Team Aqua and Team Magma arcs suffered the reverse of this, as many felt they could have had more focus and build-up than they got especially as the region progressed.
    • Battle Frontier: 60 Episodes. Subverted in that most of the filler was in the beginning, leading to a faster pace with the rest of the arc.
    • Sinnoh: 191 episodes. As much as the above 2-part saga in total. 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 developed the buildup and resolution, respectively, of both the Contest and Team Galactic arcs, and further justified by the distance between those two Gyms, but that still meant that the main quest was 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 got all 8 of his badges in 84 episodes, though the gap between #3 and #4 was pretty long (27 episodes, T-4th). After the various filler and padding arcs,Details  there was the stock-standard Tournament Arc with a stock-standard length of 7 episodesnote  which was more contentious for its results than its pacing. This was 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 show the extent of the wear and tear.
    • Kalos has started off on a rough note with the drop in ratings that occurred during BW's Decolore Islands arc. Its first season was subject to Filler and Padding after the first ten episodes. Serena was virtually pointless until finally discovering a goal for herself around 40 episodes in, and the Kalos gang was forced to take part in a side-journey with a Guest-Star Party Member in 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 took until Ash got his 7th gym badge before Team Flare even appeared. At this point the plot picked up momentum, especially when Ash's Greninja obtained an exclusive form.
    • Alola: Coming off the high from the XY&Z saga, the plot had changed drastically from one where Ash traveling from gym to gym to earn badges to one where he attends a Pokemon School. Not only is Ash generally staying in one place, but the human cast size is the largest it has ever been with Ash and 5 other reoccurring classmates. The Island Trials are present as well, but the pace is a bit slower due to how many characters the show must juggle now.
  • 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.
    • The WRGP/ZONE/Yliaster/whatever arc of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's takes this to a new extreme — unlike the fairly paced Fortune Cup arc (26 episodes) and Dark Signer arc (38 episodes), it drags on unbelievably — Episode 65 introduces the audience to the W.R.G.P. tournament, but the actual tournament doesn't start until episode 98, and it doesn't end until episode 137, 73 whole episodes. And since the Ark Cradle arc that immediately follows it resolves the plot that started in it, you can add its 14 episodes for a whopping 87 episodes from start to finish.
    • 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." There's also the fact that the subplot of Yuya and Yuzu being separated has effectively enveloped half of the series. The two are reunited for one episode before they are separated again.
    • Though the Zarc arc in 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.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!:
    • 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. It did solve a lot of loose plot ends at least.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- suffers 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.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya. Endless Eight. Eight episodes of the exact same events with minor variations, adapted out of a single short story. Especially since the novels' "Endless Eight" 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 Disappearance adaption (adapted out of a single novel)... The latter did come out as a feature-length movie however: the second longest animated feature ever created, at 2 hours 43 minutes in length! (One minute shorter than Final Yamato).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Katekyō Hitman Reborn!, 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 has 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.
  • Ultimate Muscle is being horrible with this with the Time Travel arc. Said arc has been going on for over five years now and has gone on for more than 160 chapters. To put it in context, Yude has spent more time on one tournament arc than any other arc previously.
  • In Aoi Hana, there's this 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 drags on much longer than necessary.
    • And then there's the whole story about Kyouko and Kou's engagement, which mainly seems to serve to show that Kyouko is not lesbian after all.
  • The Chimera Ants arc in Hunter × Hunter, although it seems worse than it is due to constant Series Hiatus. The arc has lasted 132 chapters, but in real time took over nine years—the manga was only six years old when it started.
  • 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 the no Hades Saga until years later. Unsurprisingly, this is the one arc that is 100% anime-only.
  • One single fight on the NEEDLESS anime takes nine episodes out of 24.
  • 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 been.
  • 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.
  • 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, essentially, about the Fairy Tail world's equivalent of the Olympic Games) was not 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 fighting 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, for specifically 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 go back 20 minutes before this and have several chapters ultimately leading to the same chapter ending as when it went off just to keep the cliffhanger...and it's destroyed by the Dragon Slayers' long-lost parents just as it goes off. The second is the way the chapters juggled through several concurrent fights, often without significant progression in all but one that the chapter would end on.
    • The Grand Finale, the Alvarez Empire arc, lasted 107 chapters in all.
  • MÄR, the anime version 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 a 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 awhile, then 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, then 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 1 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!.
  • Naruto has usually been good with preventing arcs from lasting too long, but...
    • Even if some arcs kind of dragged out, none were able to reach the level of hair-tearing stalemate of the World War Arc - which took nearly three years to tell the story of a day and a half, where two of those years were spent telling the story of a single battle which was presumably a few hours long. The first part is problematic enough, but the real nugget is that last battle, and particularly its pacing. The entirety of it is a tug-of-war marathon, with each side countering the other side with increasingly effective techniques that have very few lasting consequences. The villain takes forever to finally go through all their gambits, absolute defenses, psychological warfare tracts, tragic flashbacks and final forms, and when they do - which would usually mark the end of the battle in any sane universe - the battle segues into two more battles of this exact same kind, back to back, with absolutely no letup and plenty of Myth Arc retcons about how everything has gone All According to Plan for various people, one of whom we didn't even know existed until three chapters before. When the manga finally emerges, wheezing, at the other end of this ordeal - all the villains are dead, everyone's exhausted and all the loose ends seem to be wrapped up - Sasuke promptly declares his intent to take over the world in order to reform the shinobi system, finally triggering the long-awaited final battle between him and Naruto. Oh, and to top it off, the anime has been inserting Filler left, right, and center in the absolute worst spots in the plot in order to keep the Cash Cow Franchise flowing.
    • 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 had the lengthy Filler-arc, which is 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 Shippuuden.
  • 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 then it was fifteen chapters ago, and was finally defeated moments after the last two primary characters, Hakuryuu and Judar, entered the fray.
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Tamers dragged the Hell out when the D-Reaper showed up in Tokyo, kidnapped Juri, trapped Culumon with her inside, and started spreading. Several episodes were dedicated to complicated research, lots of Techno Babble, introducing new characters, Juri angsting nonstop (not without reason, but the narration stretched 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 were sidelined in favor of Takuya and Koji, and each encounter with the Knights ended with the Digidestined being defeated, with some angsting from Koichi. Thankfully, the introduction of Lucemon ended this pattern.
  • 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 currently on-going 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 are now 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 has begun to divert 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 twinbrother, having taken the name and identity of Ciel. After the latest revelation, the arc has devolved into multiple Flashback chapters detailing the twins' life and how the events of the ritual that summoned Sebastian came into being. Interesting, but definitely feeling like a big side-track.
  • The "Fall Classic" saga of Shokugeki no Soma 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 care about) and its subsequent judging. The main tournament itself contains 7 individual matches, each spanning at least five chapters, that by the time the finals come around, most readers have gotten tired of it and wants the plot to move on already.
  • The Washizu Mahjong arc of Akagi has been going on since 1997, while the manga itself started in 1992 and ran three arcs before the Washizu arc started. A single game lasting a single night has been in the making for a total of 18 years now. The last round of the last match alone has taken a whole year to write so far, with one issue coming out every month. They take seven months just to draw all the tiles to start the round.
  • 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 3 or so straight episodes are just solid exposition while nothing really happens. Again: 12 episodes total.
  • Shaman King: The Golem arc is known for being a very slogging read to get through since a good chuck of it is focused on Jaco's past, his being killed, the fight with the berserk golem and and finally Jaco 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.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Dark Reign, Dark Reign, 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.
  • There has been a couple of these in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • 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.
    • 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 World Building 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 World's Unite interrupting the story and Archie Comics delaying the release for the book for the entire winter of 2016, making the arc last even longer than it should've.
  • The New Krypton arc in the Superman titles 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man arcs tend to get accused of suffering from this due to Bendis' ridiculously slow pacing.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Crisis Crossover Forever Evil ending up falling into this. 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 7th issue came three months after the 6th - and you've got readers making a lot of jokes about the title.
  • The Batman story arc Knightfall (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 Chekhovs Guns... or the aftermath of the arc focusing on Dick Grayson, since it wrapped up with quite a few loose ends, some of which were not tied up until a year later or even after. The story was also told across several comic-book titles, some of which began publication just to tie in with the arc. 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.
  • 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:
  • 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 this. 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 wasn'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 didn't really have any link to the crossover's driving force. Thus the crossover was essentially 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 on 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.

    Fan Fiction 
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer story 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.
  • 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."

  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In truth this happens to several different characters once they are separated from the War of Five Kings. Bran in particular has wandered around accomplishing nothing.
    • Daenerys' 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.
  • The second book in the Left Behind series was 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.
  • Light and Dark: The Awakening of the Mage Knight: The 'normal school' arc in the beginning dragged on and on for 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.
  • The Black Magician series seems to have a problem with this, particularly in the second book, Novice. Most of the over 500 pages consists 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.
  • 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.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Blacklist makes an annoying habit of dragging the current arc all the way to the season finale and then resolving it during the fall finale of the NEXT season. The worst of which is the bones bag plot. It appeared in the season 4 finale and the content is only revealed in the season 5 finale.
  • The on-again, off-again romance between Ross and Rachel that went on for the entirety of the ten-season run of Friends. It was largely forgotten about in later seasons (except when the show needed a season finale cliffhanger) until it came time for the show to end, whereupon Ross and Rachel were reunited in a manner that seemed somewhat forced.
    • In fact, it was lampshaded in an episode when Joey wants to date Rachel, but doesn't want to upset Ross. When they talk it over, Ross realizes that they hadn't gone out for six years and that it was just ridiculous for him to keep holding on.
    • And to give some comparison: Monica and Chandler's relationship only spanned 6 seasons during which they had started dating, had a Secret Relationship, fell in love, moved in together, had a year-long engagement, got married, went long-distance for a while, and adopted twins. Even Phoebe and her boyfriend - who was only introduced in the penultimate season - dated, fell in love, broke up, got back together, and got married before Ross and Rachel considered sorting themselves out.
  • The X-Files has got to be the worst offender. Mulder's sister, The Cigarette Smoking Man's relationship to Mulder, etc. It could be argued that important arc progress occurred throughout every season. Except maybe seven. Though many frequently argue that the myth arc is properly tied up in mid season six two parter "Two Fathers/One Son" where in the conspiracy is more or less unraveled and a great many of the villains killed off. As such Arc Fatigue may set in at full force whenever the Myth Arc more or less begins anew.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • The second half of season three. After the dramatic escape from New Caprica, the show lapsed into a series of filler episodes with little development. This was from two apparent factors: Executive Meddling and budget restrictions. 'Dropping The Bucket' in "Exodus Part Two" wasn't cheap.
    • Gaius Baltar's character arc in Season Four. Even if we grant that the focus was not 'turning him into a good person' (which many fans already believed him to be) but rather into a full-fledged hero, he manages this feat by the end of the season premiere when he offers his own life for that of a young child who he's seen maybe twice in his life. Later episodes in the season pose questions such as "Does Gaius Baltar have the courage to get hit by a guard?" and "Does Gaius Baltar have the courage to shoot enemy Cylons from a safe distance?" usually to be answered with a resounding and nonsensical 'no,' when he'd already committed himself to far more dangerous things in the past. The entire arc could have been concluded in the episode it was introduced.
  • An earlier show that Ron Moore worked on, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, suffered from almost the exact same problem in its sixth season, and for a lot of the same reasons. Once the Federation retook the station in an episode involving the largest space battle that Star Trek had ever done up to that point, the latter three-fourths of the season was almost completely made up of filler, with only three episodes having anything definite to do with the Dominion War arc.
  • LOST has the "Walt gets kidnapped" storyline, which dragged. After spending an entire summer waiting to find out what happened, we get about a dozen episodes where almost nothing happens other than Michael shouting about it in every other line (which rapidly plummeted him to Scrappy status) and eventually running off on his own and disappearing. We then get eight solid episodes telling us nothing about what happened to him, with most of the characters hardly seeming concerned that he's missing. And then the storyline suddenly comes back and blows up in a very controversial way in the season's last few episodes.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Season Six. Every plotline and character arc seemed stretched out without any developments or changes. It took Buffy the whole season (21 episodes) to get over being dead and resurrected. The last time she died and was brought back to life (in season one) it took one episode of angst before she was back on her feet. (In all fairness, though, the first time she merely flat lined and was revived. The second time she was yanked out of Heaven against her will and brought back to Earth and forced to claw her way out of her own grave, after being buried alive had been established as her biggest fear.)
    • Season Seven with the First Evil storyline suffered in a similar way, mainly because the First Evil itself barely did anything productive or meaningful throughout the entire arc. It also didn't help that, unlike the previous seasons, nearly every episode of the season was spent preparing for the threat (whereas the previous episodes would give the occasional light-hearted Monster of the Week episode).
    • Even Season Five suffered from this. The Glory arc was slow and plodding with whole episodes going along without anything progressing in the plot. Glory isn't introduced until the fifth episode, is forgotten about for another three episodes and if you cut out all the filler from that season you have about twelve episodes where the plot progresses normally. The penultimate episode of the season was just complete filler because they needed to wait another episode until the finale.
  • The Sopranos often get these complaint about Vito's Gayngst, Tony's coma, and Carmela and Furio's will they or won't they dance.
  • The telepath colony arc in Babylon 5 went on and on. And on. And on. And on. (The story was originally intended to only last three episodes but due to behind-the-scenes issues ended up taking up all of the fifth season's first half).
  • The Dahak Saga that dominated the fifth season of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and concurrent third season of Xena: Warrior Princess. While his daughter Hope was an endearing villainess, Dahak annoyed fans for being a generic God of Evil whose true form is never seen, and whose plans revolved around a very convoluted prophecy where he knocks up Gabrielle with Hope, who then gets knocked up by Ares, then their children are supposed to bring about the end of the world.
  • For many Glee fans, Kurt leaving the club and transferring to Dalton Academy counted as this, since it was supposed to be temporary from the start, but had been extended due to high ratings, even though there were many episodes where Kurt added nothing to the story and the Dalton scenes felt like Big Lipped Alligator Moments. At least it didn't drag as long as the Finn/Quinn/Rachel plot, which ran for two whole seasons.
  • Averted on True Blood by the Time Skip at the start of Season Four, which sped up some of the slower-moving plotlines like Arlene's pregnancy, Lafayette's romance with Jesus, and Jason becoming a cop. Then the fifth season played it straight with the Vampire Authority. The season is considered a low point in the series since it had no Big Bad and no central plot beyond "Bill and Eric join the Authority. Hilarity Ensues!"
  • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: The Lights of Orion saga. The reason for it is Troubled Production. (Incidentally, the arc is actually four episodes shorter than its corresponding arc on Seijuu Sentai Gingaman - eight episodes compared to twelve.)
  • Sons of Anarchy Season 2 has the plot of the first couple of episodes resolved in the last three of the season, thus first time viewers will wonder if it ever gets resolved at all.
  • In season two of The Good Wife, the storyline of Blake investigating Kalinda's secret past was only supposed to last through the season's first half. Scott Porter, who played Blake, turned out to have a more demanding schedule than they realized, so they were forced to progress the story in random fits and starts until it ended up dragging on through almost the whole season.
  • The second season of The Walking Dead. The problem was that the entire season was one long Safe Zone Hope Spot, but the season was 13 episodes long. This meant that Season 2 had, at best, slightly more plot progression than Season 1 despite being twice as long, as many of the episodes featured little besides the characters standing around on the farm and talking. This is further explained in this Cracked article.
    • The introduction of Negan and the Saviors lasts the entire second half of Season 6 and consists of little more than Rick's group running roughshod over them. This was all a buildup to Negan abducting the group and killing off a major character as revenge, only for the show to cut to black at the actual death scene without showing who the victim was. Meaning the payoff to all of the cliffhangers throughout Season 6 was an even bigger cliffhanger leading into Season 7.
  • How some felt during 24's fourth season in regards to Marwan's Gambit Roulette, a plot originally intended for five or six episodes that instead got expanded into seventeen for the remainder of the season. Many people got tired somewhere around the third or fourth time he made an illogical escape just to start another plan.
  • Who killed Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks which lasted one and a half seasons. Or at least according to the network at the time but this actually caused a drop in quality as the series struggled to come up with another focus for the show.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Fans first started to complain around the second half of season 2, particularly after Cora's death. The show becomes very wearying to watch, especially given how anticlimactically Greg and Tamara were dealt with at the beginning of the third season.
    • It got worse with the Neverland arc at the beginning of season 3. While most like Peter Pan as a villain, some people tired of it quickly since it was essentially the same scenery (not to mention the eternal nighttime) every single episode. And, because the arc is more of a Character Study than plot-based, the action moves at a very slow pace through 9 whole episodes when it really could have taken half that long with less character-based detours. In any case, the cast finally returns to Storybrooke in the 10th episode of the season, so it's not as bad an example as it could have been - but that didn't stop it from becoming the go-to punchline for a large portion of the fandom.
    • The Frozen-based arc in Season 4 has also gotten these complaints, particularly once Executive Meddling added an additional episode onto it and greatly slowing the story's pace as a result. It was still considered enjoyable overall, but debatably outstayed its welcome some - as a corollary of this, the strong and improved ratings of the season premiere had dipped to one of their lowest points ever for the mid-season finale (starting, incidentally, with the earlier two-parter).
    • The Queens of Darkness arc which immediately followed got these complaints too. An entire episode dedicated to what Robin has been up to in New York slowed it down considerably and bringing Zelena back just made it worse. Then there's the fates of the Queens - Ursula is redeemed four episodes in, before the arc has even got going, Cruella gets killed off and Maleficent is anti-climactically reunited with her daughter.
    • The Dark Swan/Camelot arc looked to finally break the trend of overly long arcs - in fact, it drew the opposite criticism of being far too rushed. It's really too bad that the Underworld arc which immediately succeeded it got so much padding that it was compared unfavorably to the infamous Neverland arc.
  • Season 6 of Mad Men had a bad case, with nothing really happening for most of the season, but the last few episodes were widely acclaimed.
  • The premise of The Mentalist is that a man who has mastered the Sherlock Scan joins the police to hunt Red John, the serial killer who murdered his wife. Jane finally caught Red John... in the sixth season. The arc was stretched to ludicrousness when Jane killed Red John at the end of Season 3 only to discover he'd killed an imposter in season 4. It was clear the writers were finally actively trying to wrap up the arc when Jane gets his first real lead in Season 5, has narrowed down his suspects to a list of seven by the end of Season 5, and—well aware audiences were tired of the arc—the sixth season was marketed as "Red John: the Final Chapter." Then suddenly a vast conspiracy involving all levels of law enforcement is introduced and wrapped up over the course of a few episodes, when you'd think such a premise would be ripe with story possibilities.
  • Season two of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles spent A LOT of time with three basic plot points: John has a girlfriend that Sarah disapproves of, John's Uncle has a secret girlfriend, and Sarah has cancer and debilitating insomnia. Pretty much the entire season was spent with the characters just meandering and brooding over those three plot points, with actual development of those plots moving excruciatingly slowly. The time in Season 2 that wasn't spent angsting over these internal conflicts was spent showing the origins of an AI that was clearly intended to be Skynet- to the point that Skynet's origins pretty much became the entire plot. Due to a torrent of complaints about these very things from viewers, the writers became aware of this and sped things quite a bit in the last six or so episodes, moving the story forward and improving the quality a lot. Unfortunately, these changes were too little, too late and the show was cancelled on a cliffhanger. And the finale of Season 2 revealed that the AI the entire season had focused on was not actually Skynet- it was a completely unrelated AI the entire time. This twist effectively made the entirety of Season 2 completely pointless.
  • Coronation Street had Tracy Barlow's abuse of Steve. It got to the point where even Tracy's actress Kate Ford said she was sick of it.
  • EastEnders has the "Who Killed Lucy Beale" storyline. Lucy's murder happened in April 2014, and the killer wasn't revealed until February 2015, to coincide with the show's 30th anniversary. For comparison, the show's most popular and famous Whodunnit, "Who Shot Phil?", was over and done with in five weeks. And just when you thought it was over, the arc was revived four months later, with Max Branning being wrongfully arrested and convicted of the murder, and the truth slowly beginning to leak out leading into Christmas 2015.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor's exile on Earth in the Classic series, in which he lost access to space and time travel and decided to cooperate with UNIT, a branch of the British military. It was a good twist, the storyline created enduring popular characters like the Brigadier and the Master, and it allowed the series to ration its tiny budget more effectively, but the arc was controversial with the creative team to begin with and by the time it was wrapped up, all of them were sick of it. Apart from the major problems caused by having a conceptually anti-authoritarian character like the Doctor working with the Army, the arc effectively nullified the show's entire premise, which caused further problems when they tried to end it - due to the high viewer turnover of children's shows, time-space travel had to be reintroduced gently so the audience could understand what was going on. UNIT stories started being phased out by Season 10, space travel stories got lots of exposition and slow initial episodes so the audience could get used to them, the first story for the recast Doctor was Reality Subtext for how boring the arc had become, and he still returned to UNIT in several early stories despite having quit his job at the end of it, in one case ("The Seeds of Doom") with zero explanation. It's difficult to say when the UNIT era actually ends - "The Three Doctors" ends with the Third Doctor's exile ending, "Robot" finishes with the Doctor quitting his UNIT job, "Terror of the Zygons" is the last story of the Fourth Doctor era featuring the Brigadier, "The Android Invasion" is the last to feature the rest of the UNIT regulars, "The Seeds of Doom" is the last story to show the Doctor acting as a UNIT agent and "The Hand of Fear" is the last to feature a UNIT 'assistant' as companion. Whichever way you slice it, being rid of this arc took something around seven years, encompassing the Third Doctor's entire tenure and at least the first year-and-a-half of the Fourth Doctor's.
    • The revival series had the Time War plotline concerning the Doctor's offscreen genocide of the Time Lords. The arc had been set up in the first episode of the first Series to clear up the Continuity Snarl and Continuity Lockout caused by the Wilderness Years and give some more depth to the Doctor's character, and was well-received. The trouble was that an event of that magnitude (murdering billions of people, mostly innocents, to avert even more Time War destruction) was something so big that there was no way the Doctor could ever resolve it or move on from it. The Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors all had personalities completely dominated by the Time War and their varying struggles to deal with the guilt as a result. Russell T. Davies attempted to resolve it in his final episode before stepping down by having the Tenth Doctor repeat the decision to kill off the Time Lords, but, although the Eleventh Doctor was better at hiding his mountains of Angst, he hadn't got over it because there was just nowhere for him to get over it to without resorting to character-betraying Angst? What Angst?. After almost ten years, Steven Moffat felt that the arc had been pushed as far as it could go (and the initial genocide was an Out-of-Character Moment to start with) and used the 50th anniversary special which followed Series 7 to retcon it out of existence (the explanation being the planet was actually transported to another dimension but to preserve the timeline the previous Doctors had to forget this). This allowed the Twelfth Doctor to scale back the "cosmic" angst in favor of more personal heartaches: guilt over his solider days, Who Wants to Live Forever? as he inevitably loses his loved ones, Chronic Hero Syndrome, etc.
    • The Ponds - the second longest-running companions of the new series (only edged out by Clara Oswald) - started out as very popular companions due to their dramatic Romance Arc, but due to their relatively long tenure and the high number of Wham Episodes featuring them, they had to go through something catastrophic every three weeks. Large chunks of the fandom, especially those who initially enjoyed them for having a relatively down-to-earth romance compared to the Doctor/companion shipping of the RTD era, got sick of them constantly breaking up and getting back together, or Rory having to have increasingly ludicrous moments of being awesome to win her back, or Rory constantly dying, or Amy treating Rory badly and it being Played for Laughs, or Rory mooning over his inadequacy compared to the Doctor no matter how cool it becomes apparent he is, or them becoming the Doctor's in-laws, and so on.
    • In general, Series 6 and 7 of modern Who suffered from the Series 5's Silence/crack/baby arc going on for far too long — eventually consuming Matt Smith's entire run. It finally wrapped up in the 2013 Christmas special, by which time Amy and Rory had already left the show. This is made worse by the splitting of these seasons into two arcs apiece, and by the tendency to interweave arcs so that you were never quite sure if a storyline had truly ended or not.
    • Clara Oswald's tenure as companion was a stretch detractors came to dub Clara Who. In both the Series 7 premiere and the mid-season Christmas Special the Doctor encountered the same plucky young woman in a Dalek asylum and Victorian London...and both times saw her die. And then he meets her again in The Present Day. Internet speculation as to the nature of Clara's existence kept buzz about the show going, but ended up having nothing to do with the unprecedented Negative Space Wedgie it turned out to be. Also, despite a few character moments, Clara was effectively Out of Focus while a multitude of plot threads were tied up or cut short. By the time the 50th anniversary and Matt Smith's regeneration came along, Jenna Coleman had very little to do. Series 8 gave her a romance with Danny Pink and a struggle to understand the much-changed Doctor, but that resulted in a Romantic Plot Tumor. Her story seemed to end in the Season Finale "Death in Heaven", in which she lost Danny, and then chose to stop traveling with the Doctor thanks to mutual lies...but then Coleman decided she wanted to stay — first for the post-season Christmas Episode and then for Series 9. Because this decision came so late, she was largely shoehorned into the first two-thirds of the season as the Doctor's Distaff Counterpart. With all this, many fans were sick of her long before the three-part Season Finale that saw her off for good. Worse, that finale ALSO involved the Doctor finally returning to Gallifrey — an event that could have sustained a standalone finale or even Story Arc, but instead played second fiddle to the Doctor-Clara endgame.
    • In a short-term example, the "Monks Trilogy" of Series 10 was criticized for bringing the momentum of the season, up to that point lively (if sometimes lightweight and old-hat) standalone episodes connected by the larger Vault arc and a much more popular companion in Bill Potts, to a crawl. First, "Extremis" was a Prolonged Prologue merely establishing that evil aliens were going to invade Earth; this was simple enough that it doubled as a Two Lines, No Waiting episode that revealed the Vault's backstory. "The Pyramid at the End of the World" had the aliens arrive, but they didn't invade until the Cliffhanger; a lot of Padding involving a Red Herring ensued. "The Lie of the Land" picked up six months after that, meaning the invasion was never depicted onscreen; this episode was solely devoted to the heroes undoing it thanks largely to the villains' Third Act Stupidity, with enough time for a crucial development in the Vault arc ( Bill meeting Missy) to be worked in. Not helping the arc's case were its diminishing returns feel — "Extremis" received a lot of acclaim for its scary and fascinating script, but "Pyramid" had an Idiot Plot and "Lie of the Land" was a case of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot — and ultimately generic villains, as well as the sense that the three stories could easily have been rethought as more effective standalone adventures with different villains in each.
  • The 6th Season of My Kitchen Rules gives us 4 Instant Restaurants rounds, as opposed to the usual two. Even though the Instant Restaurant rounds were generally regarded as the best part of the competition (due to the fact that this is one of the show's original elements that is not borrowed from MasterChef), many viewers find that having to watch 24 of them gets rather tiring — especially since the 4th round, the Redemption Round, have previous contestants recreate their original instant restaurant, which significantly reduces the "wow" factor of these restaurants.
  • Some thought Jade and Tori's rather extreme rivalry in Victorious had run its course by the end of season 3 (especially after the big events and supposed Character Development of "Tori Goes Platinum"), but it for the most part continued throughout the rest of the series. Which led to discussions of if it's because Jade's antagonistic behavior is the only way she can show affection to those close to her (and some small, subtle exchanges between her and Tori did indeed hint at that), or if the show had run out of fresh ideas and was using it like a crutch- and exaggerating Jade as an unredeemable Jerk Sue.
  • Castle has the murder of Johanna Beckett. By the end of the third season the only thing about the murder that still needs to be explained is who the mastermind was. This did not get revealed until the premiere of the fifth season with the episodes of season 4 dedicated to it been a long exercise in stalling. Explanation  Even then it was not until the penultimate episode of Season 6 that he was brought to justice. And then, just when you thought it was all over, Season 8 dug it all up again to reveal that the guy who did it was himself a stooge for someone else, and they also had some big complicated conspiracy scheme going on, and Castle and Beckett had to dig even further into her mother's murder to unravel it. By this point everyone watching was so sick of it that Season 8 turned out to be the last season.
  • Burn Notice had the titular Burn Notice. Michael wants to know why he got burned, who did it, and how he can get back in. Season after season with little development, only to reveal that it's a massive conspiracy orchestrated by a disaffected man on the inside with the ability to get people burned and the ability to manipulate them. Then it goes on for another season with a new mystery related to the Burn Notice because Michael just won't let it go. And that's six of the show's seven seasons.
  • Sherlock ended its third season with a massive cliffhanger that had Sherlock murder a man, get arrested, only to be saved when it is revealed Moriarty is still alive, which aired in New Year 2014. A year's hiatus led to the next episode airing in New Year 2016, which was a Mythology Gag episode and self-confessed excuse to dress the leads up as Victorians, and its bearing on the Moriarty plot was existent but minor. 2016 was a rough-news year with a lot of prestige television to bingewatch, so by the time the arc's continuation aired in New Year 2017, lots of viewers had forgotten where the plot was up to.
  • Irish soap opera Fair City started a storyline in May 2016, where Katy O'Brien was kidnapped and locked into a small room. As of May 2017, she's still locked up. The entire public got sick of the storyline that a petition was started to end it. Naturally, Waterford Whispers News had a field day with this one.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • 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 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.
  • 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. Of course, 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.
  • Mary Worth, as The Comics Curmudgeon is fond of pointing out.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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 though Normandy during the middle of D-Day.
  • Gasoline Alley 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, the strip's latest artist/writer finally decided to reveal who Skeezix's parents were.
    • Also, 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...
  • 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.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The original Fingerpoke Of Doom was hard to swallow; it reset the nWo storyline back to where it was in 1996. No wonder it was the beginning of the end for the WCW.
  • Similarly, the "Higher Power" story from WWE was 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.
  • And lest you think that the original ECW gets a clean slate from this, it doesn't. Two notable feuds that went on way past their expiration date (even if they did result in some still good matches) were 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 long standing Tommy Dreamer vs Raven feud that still never actually did quite end, or, at least, only ended just long enough for it to be revived when they both went to TNA.
  • 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.
  • 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 Mc Mahon (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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Dork Age 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 has been 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 the Cena/Orton rivalry above. 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 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 tittle for so long and so many times, its rare to even see her not carrying a gold. By her seventh championship win, she begin to receive X-Pac Heat after pinning Becky Lynch during a triple threat match at SummerSlam 2018 which also involves defending champion Carmella. The match was initially supposed to be only involve Becky and Carmella, after two months of buildup for Becky but Charlotte immediately returns to the title spot after two months of absence ruin all of Becky's potential and rendering her effort to waste. It is not surprised when Becky turned heel on her, it was Charlotte 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 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.

    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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • Dragon Age: Origins has 4 quests that must be finished in order to get to the final part of the game. One of these quests however, A Paragon of Her Kind, is big enough to be a game itself, and larger than all the others combined About 6 dungeons need to fully explored(more with sidequests), there's never a third option, even when the other two are stupid, the good ending comes out of siding with the corrupt jerkass among the two kings instead of the Nice Guy, whose conservative ways cause a violent revolt after the events of the game, you need to go back and forth between the Dwarf's city and the dungeons and several unlikable characters.
    • 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 to the fade, that segment 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.
  • 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. This lasts until the last hour or so, and even then, The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is little more than a Boss Rush with the True Final Boss at the end.
  • 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.
  • Bravely Default runs into this during the last portion of the game - essentially, it's you having to refight the crystal bosses (with the option of fighting the Job 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 job holders start teaming up in unique themed groups and some story actually begins to wrap up.
  • Dragon Quest VII suffers from this. Much of the game is spent saving villages filled with completely helpless inhabitants from monsters, and, after each village is saved, you find can find puzzle pieces that unlock portals to yet another village in which you do exactly the same thing. You end up doing this over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, until it goes way beyond the point of tedium. Just to let you know how long this takes, your average clock time after liberating the winged people (the last instance of this before the real plot begins) will read on the order of 80 hours... and that's if you're not trying to twink jobs during that time.
    • Even though the 3DS version toned this down (especially the beginning), the fact that the bulk of the game is essentially 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.
  • While most fans don't mind—as it's a spectacular game—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.
  • The "Dark Seeker Saga," which was intended to be the first of several story lines 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.
  • Capcom, famous for milking its properties harder than most, has decades-spanning relations with this trope.
    • 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.
    • 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 it. They were 3 tandem series promising linking revelations... but since the first two could not 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 3 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. 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. It remains to be seen whether the Classic series' unexpected revival with the release of Mega Man 11 in 2018 will do anything to change this.
    • Street Fighter, especially regarding Ryu's endlessly mentioned destiny to become a "true martial artist." Being the lynchpin for countless installments and crossovers, he is inherently not allowed to change much despite having personal growth as his big theme. This being the fighting game genre, character popularity also takes precedence over plot. Which means Ryu will regress in and out of his evil version without affecting anything, villains will never be taken care of so long as enough players main them, and their victims don't have consequences, either. The writing may not be the main appeal of the games, but all the grand promises that go nowhere with little attempt to innovate do wear out.
    • 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.
  • 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 Zant, the story's progress grinds to a halt. The story then centers itself on simply finding each shard of the Mirror of Twilight, and all characters except Ilia that 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.
  • 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 3 (the spider forest, the great marsh, and the flayer jungle) is met with a similar criticism due to the lengths of having to run around searching for the two dungeons that have the body parts needed for a main quest.
  • Overwatch had the Sombra Alternate Reality Game, which was meant to build hype for an upcoming playable character. It amounted to a series of cryptic puzzles that led to more cryptic puzzles that led to a three-month-long countdown, periodically teasing players with all kinds of non-information that shed light on nothing. Sombra was eventually revealed in full as a villainous Mexican hacker at BlizzCon 2016, Blizzard's annual convention, which pretty much everyone expected to happen anyway and left a lot of people feeling like the whole ordeal was a pointless goose chase. The incident has since become infamous in the fandom, and Blizzard apparently noticed because new character introductions have since become more streamlined, but people still like to bring it up whenever they think the devs are dragging their feet with releasing new content. And just to add insult to injury, once Sombra's big entrance was done, the lore department promptly booted her into limbo where she's since mostly sat things out while her achievements from her introduction are unwound by other characters.
  • The Metroid series has started to face this problem ever since the release of Fusion. The game follows Super Metroid with the Space Pirates virtually eliminated, and ends on the note of The Federation planning to weaponize Metroids for their own sinister purposes. None of the games released after Fusion have built on the latter point, as all of them have either been interquels (the Prime trilogy and Other M) or remakes (Zero Mission, Samus Returns), with Other M in particular merely reiterating Fusion's big revelation earlier in the timeline.
  • The very first level of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords suffers from this. Its a long and boring slog through an eerily empty mining station, and your 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 Unwinnable by Mistake 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.
  • 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.
  • The King of Fighters series has the Tales of Ash arc, which started in 2003 (which was released in 2003), continued with XI (released sometime in 2006) and only ended in XIII (2010 for arcades, 2011 for consoles). Doing the math reveals that the arc basically lasted for seven-to-eight years. Compare that to the Orochi and NESTS arcs, each of which lasted for three yearsnote . 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 gamesnote . 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, not to mention being outright billed as a Villain Protagonist, meaning that fans were getting outright fed up of 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 from existence.

    Web Comics 
  • 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 MS Paint Adventure Problem Sleuth has the interminable Demonhead Mobster Kingpin fight, which lasted for longer than the rest of the story.
    • Lampshaded when he seems to fully regenerate with growing more health meters and the view pans to the comic reader considering suicide.
    • Lampshaded again 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".
  • 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 4 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.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • The "Oceans Unmoving" arc attracted a lot of this sentiment, largely because it focused around a brand new cast, with most of the main characters stuck off-screen for months at a time.
    • The "4U City" arcs did this as well, 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.
  • 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.
  • The Mecanicsburg arc from Girl Genius while being very enjoyable and was the last arc in the first part of what is evidently going to be a very long comic still lasted 6 volumes and was released over the course of 6 years.
  • El Goonish Shive 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 "Risen Reaper" arc was the same thing, only replace "Justin, Susan, and Nanase" with Ellen, Nanase, Mr. Raven, Magus and Pandora/Chaos. Again, reactions were mixed.
    • 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.
    • The fact that El Goonish Shive had been riddled with Schedule Slip for years didn't help. All of these fatigued arcs would probably have been easier for insufficiently patient fans to put up with if the comic didn't miss so many updates.
    • This Q&A strip directly refers to this particular issue.
    Amanda: Comic timeline wise, it was yesterday.
    Amanda: Still just one day.
  • Chapter 2 of Captain SNES: The Game Masta began in 2002. It ended on the 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".)
  • 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.
  • 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 naturally, 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 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.
  • Played for laughs in Irregular Webcomic!'s "fantasy" arc. They started the quest on 25th of June 2004, and finally finished on 31st August 2011 - seven years, two months and six days later. In a daily webcomic.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • With almost a hundred pages coupled with sporadic updates, episode four of The Fan took almost two years to complete. In fact it was so long, that the the author had to part it halfway. Even he was glad when it finally ended.
  • 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 example 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.
  • Clan of the Cats beats all of the above by a long shot, with its "Vengeance of Dracula" arc, which started in August 2003 and is still going on, over 600 pages later (not counting Filler).
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • From Spinnerette, the Colonel Glass Saga fell victim to this. 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 storyarcs normally last about a month or two. It didn't help that the arc was extremely dark for a comedic series; Colonel Glass, a sadistic North Korean operative with the power to control shards of glass, is basically Nightmare Fuel on legs. As such, the arc was emotionally exhausting in addition to its length.
  • 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 "Godsmoot/vampire Durkon" arc in The Order of the Stick lasted a while (beginning in earnest in March 2014 and climaxing on 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • The fan-comic Adventures In Lurning had the Colin is Dead arc that started in Agust 4th, 2017 and keep going until October 10th, 2018, Many fans feel like the Story Arc was going for to long for what was originally just a fun ask fan-blog, even the author admited he was tired of the arc and even renamed in the Story Arc Guide as Colin is Dead Arc - The Never-Ending Story Arc, thankfully after the arc ended, the blog returned to his origins.
  • 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.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse has the Budokai Royale/Majin Rebellion arc which started in 2017 and is still ongoing as of this writing. While well received at first, some fans feel that it ran its course and wish to get back to the tournament already.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Search for Splinter storyline in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003). 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 twentysome episodes over several months rather than weeks. It wasn't helped by the absence of half the main cast during most of the 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.
  • Young Justice
    • The yet-unresolved continuing grand scheme of The Light has become 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 has 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 5) All this is 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 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 its 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 is moving a lot more slowly than many had expected. Most took as practically given after the Season 2 stinger that Apokolips would invade Earth in Season 3, which doesn't happen. The Earth is arguably never under direct threat in Season 3, unless you count the very few minutes it appeared Granny had 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.
  • 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 onwards, 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 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've technically lost the race three times now 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.
  • Steven Universe: The formation of Malachite and her eventual defeat got hit with this. 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.
  • 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).

Examples of Myth Stall:

    Anime and Manga 
  • 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.
  • Pokémon. Ash/Satoshi is 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 arc he hits a Reset Button on his team, his Pikachu's level, and his own experience as a trainer. Even after Ash finally shed the label of "perennial choker" with a long-awaited tournament win in October 2019–22 years after the show started— it doesn't seemed to have helped. Of course, the anime will probably keep going for as long as the franchise is popular.
  • InuYasha ran for twelve years. And from years three to eleven, the story progressed so slowly, it basically didn't progress. Character relations changed somewhat, but every time the story finally seemed to be coming to a climax, a Diabolus ex Machina on the part of the Big Bad Naraku 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; most of what wasn't just repeating itself in that time frame was relatively brief.
  • D.N.Angel. The manga started 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.
  • Berserk has its first two volumes In Medias Res, with an insane Casca, Griffith turned to The Dark Side as Femto, and an enraged Guts. Several years and volumes of flashback later, and Guts begins setting off on a quest to restore Casca to sanity. This was in 1997. He only just arrived in September 2016. Of course, that's not nearly as long as it sounds chapter-wise, but an insanely detailed-artstyle has led to a very slow and irregular release schedule. There have been only about 300 chapters total since the series started back in 1990.
    • Casca's sanity, broken in chapter 86, was finally restored in chapter 354, published in February 2018 and later included in Volume 40.
  • 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 this. 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 entirety of Gunnm/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.
  • The Myth Arc of Mahou Sensei Negima! 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.
  • One Piece 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, Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates aren't much closer to finding the One Piece than when they started. While there have been hints, there's not only been no answer as to where the One Piece even is, there's been no answer as to what it even is. No wonder so many people have Commitment Anxiety when it comes to this series. Consider the infamous case of Fishman Island, probably one of the most anticipated arcs of the story. 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 destinationnote , 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 the elusive underwater island, all they need to do is finish preparations... and the story gets epically 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."
  • Regardless of which you consider the myth arc of Hajime no Ippo, Ippo fighting Miyata again or Ippo becoming the world champion, the series has reached its 900th chapter with no signs of progress with either. In fact, the rematch with Miyata has been steadily delayed for over five hundred chapters or in other words, a decade. Not to mention how Ippo and Kumi have been dating for about as long and haven't even kissed yet. Even worse, with Ippo losing his recent comeback match and mentally confirming that something's seriously wrong with him, readers now have to confront the possibility that neither potential myth arc will be resolved. Certainly Ippo becoming world champion seems to be dead as a story goal.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 + The End of Evangelion movie - all of which has 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 similar vein to the original anime many fans begin to question the sanity of the artist.
  • 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.
  • Detective Conan 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.
  • 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 2. 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 
  • 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.
  • Bleach was notorious for this with its utterly slow pacing after the Daily Life arc, to the point that it got the series cancelled. The Soul Society, Arrancar, Hueco Mundo, and Blood War arc 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 Ywhach in the final arc, the battle is ridiculously short due to the fact the manga got cancelled, and the author had to rush the climax and the ending. Appropriately enough, Bleach was cancelled due to complaints about the arcs taking way too long.
  • Infinite Stratos: Instead of moving the plot forward, the show keeps introducing girls too Ichika's harem and putting to 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us is a tie-in prequel comic of the video game of same name that have continued publication years after the game's release and has received general criticism from readers due to 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.

    Fan Fiction 
  • 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.


  • 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 peoples 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 3 books wherein the 3 main protagonists had maybe 5 chapters between them, and had focused solely on the exploits of the Power Trio of Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve, and all their various doings. Which were important admittedly, but still should not have displaced the main 3 protagonists roles.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 currently released books in The Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy suffer from this in relation to Kvothe's pursuit of the Chandrian, which has barely advanced at all over the course of two huge doorstopers. 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 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.
  • 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.

    Live Action TV 
  • Monk has been looking for the man who killed Trudy since the series began. Every season he has only an inkling of a clue to lead him in any real direction. In this respect, much of the series can be seen as filler - entertaining filler, but filler nonetheless. The show's final season was specifically advertised with the fact that it will finally wrap up Monk's hunt for the killer, delivering on that promise in the final episode. Her murder was only solved when Monk discovered he had, in fact, possessed the clue he needed the entire time (actually, a video message she recorded just before she was killed, spelling out who she thought was coming after her and why, left in the form of her Christmas present to him he did not want to open).
  • In How I Met Your Mother the driving question of the show has had virtually no progress. They leave hints like the yellow umbrella and meeting her roommate, seeing her ankle, and knowing they meet at a wedding where Ted is the best man. Often lampshaded on the show, usually either by the future children ("I feel like you've been talking for a year!") or by Ted ("When I have kids, I'm gonna tell them the WHOLE story of how I met their mother!"). It has become somewhat of a meme with the line "Tell me who the mother is already!"
    • The show was on the verge of cancellation for the first 4 seasons and as such they actually seemed to be making progress with interconnecting the stories in such a way that it makes sense why Ted would start at a certain point assuming that Stella was intended to be the end game (meeting Robin, dating Robin, breaking up with Robin, got an accidental tattoo in the aftermath, met Stella looking to get the tattoo removed). The sixth season opened with a Flash Forward to a wedding day that was conclusively stated to be the day Ted meets the mother, but other than token gestures at the beginning and end of each season (for three years) such a tease has only drawn out the angst even worse.
    • Lampshaded in the joke teaser for the final season. It features David Henrie and Lyndsy Fonseca reprising their roles (every episode since season 2 has been using stock footage) as Ted's kids going on a tirade on how they've wasted 8 years listening to the story and just want him to wrap it up.
    • The finale of the eighth season has finally revealed who the mother is, and the ninth and final season is about how she and Ted truly, finally, properly, freaking meet. And for all that waiting, surprise! She's been Dead All Along. A LOT of obscenities could be heard in the air of America being hurled out by the most irate viewers the night the show had its series finale and that particular final reveal.
  • Babylon 5 has its principal myth stall completely in the middle of season four, when the Vorlon/Shadow war comes to an end, due to issues with the network they were on (PTEN) going under, and only being saved by TNT at the last minute after steps had been taken to wrap everything up before the expected end of the series.
  • Smallville to the nth degree. They ran out of material from before Clark was Superman, so he became a member of the Justice League, worked with costumed superheroes, and had fought most of Superman's Rogues Gallery (including friggin' Doomsday) long before the end of the show. Clark started working with Lois Lane at the Daily Planet in Season 8, and was well known as a superhero in Metropolis (under the name of "The Blur"). But no, he still couldn't fly or be Superman until the very last scene of the very last episode of Season 10. Because that was a rule the head writers had imposed on the show A DECADE earlier. This was quite eloquently summed up by Sheldon in an episode of The Big Bang Theory: "It took them ten years to show us someone that we already know can fly, fly!"
  • In a similar vein as Smallville, Merlin works on the same "before he was famous" idea, and has Merlin's magical abilities remain a secret from all of the cast. Three seasons in, and the writers' determination to stall and stall and stall this reveal has resulted in Merlin's co-stars looking like complete idiots. Although Arthur finally becoming King and marrying Gwen in Series 4 ended some of the myth stall on their part, the fans are desperately hoping that the words "five-year-plan" mean "we're not going to know if we've got another season until we finish writing this one so we're going to do the reveal."
  • Psych: It took Jules nearly seven years to figure out that Shawn was faking his psychic ability. Even worse, this was written into the ending of the lighthearted episode "Deez Nups" (which isn't even primarily about either character) as a Shocking Swerve.

    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.
  • Invoked by Warhammer 40,000. For the last 30 years absolutely no one on the development team has any ambition to let the 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 logically mean killing off the Tau and possibly the Imperium as well; those are easily 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 millenia, and the plot line 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 recent reboot, Age of Sigmar, which... makes more than a few old players miss the Arc Fatigue days. Not everyone is sure they want 40k to advance anymore.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Desmond Miles' arc, which kept interrupting the much more interesting and entertaining segments as Altair/Ezio/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: Revelations 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.
  • Those who criticize the premise of World of Warcraft often cite this. 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 currently 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 for the Alliance and Horde to truly work together to defend against a larger threat: 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. In the next expansion, Battle for Azeroth, the Alliance/Horde conflict promises to be the focus of the storyline rather than a distraction from some other world-ending threat.
  • 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.
  • The story of Overwatch is built on the premise of the titular 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 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, but not what they are doing in the "present" days. Due to the huge cast and constant flashbacks/backstories, the narrative is always in a state of introducing plot threads and 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.
  • 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 executed before a timeline listed the future terrorist attacks he would be responsible for. 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 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 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, Solid Snake was able to transition from being a socially awkward young government commando, to a warm-hearted Trickster Mentor and humanitarian, to a tired old man dealing with his eventual death, in only three titles.)
  • Fans of the Kiseki 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 two main games and a Gaiden Game and Zero no Kiseki and its sequel Ao No Kiseki which takes place in Crossbell City.

  • 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 even 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, its 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.
  • Misfile, it has taken six years to cover about six months worth of story and there is 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's taken 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. As Word of God has stated the series won't end until Ash graduates high school, it's quite clear it will not be moving forward any time soon.
  • 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.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Despite the fact that Pete's been saying that he's wrapping the strip up since 2007, the main characters haven't gotten any closer to defeating HeretiCorp or Oasis, or figuring out the mystery of Oasis since 2009. The gang has looked like they were 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.
  • Homestuck also falls under this category, as despite going on for years the heroes are only just as of 2015 actually managing to start moving against the villains and take steps towards completing their game session after essentially a whole act of teenage angst dominating the plot. Not helped by Andrew Hussie taking a year off to work on the Homestuck video game 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's drawn. With a year-long hiatus behind it, and another pause near the end of Act 6 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.
  • 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 basically 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 helpnote .


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