Follow TV Tropes


Archive Trawl

Go To

Fans of long-standing series often find themselves confused about just what happened when and where, and as a result may go back and watch or read through a large section of the series — or even the whole run — in order to refresh their memories or bolster some particular fan theories they hold. This is especially common in Web Comics fandoms, where easy access to the whole series archive makes it all too tempting to drop what you are doing and look for that particular scene you just know happened in a certain Story Arc...

Somewhat ameliorated by series guides and fan concordances, and in some cases search engines indexing the scripts for the whole series (!), but still a very common form of time sink for hard-core fans.

In the tradition of the little remarks from the editor in print comics referencing the issue numbers of past events, some nice creators will provide links to the archives for the relevant plotlines on the main page the day the events are referenced. Of course, this doesn't help when the archive system doesn't keep the links with the comic, and someone else catches up later.

The other solution is the community forums, where after the unavoidable insults from idiots, some angel will actually post the link and explanation you wanted.


  • Pete Abrams of Sluggy Freelance adds links to relevant past strips and plotlines upon uploading any comic that needs them. Thankfully, the site's designed so that the links stay with the strips.
  • Amber Williams of Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures occasionally refers to relevant past strips in the commentary that appears below newer strips.
  • Any webcomic with a plotline and a 'random strip' button is particularly prone to inducing this.
  • The random button on This Very Wiki can have this effect.
    • Arguably, the reason that Tvtropes is so addictive. One page will only get you for half an hour, but the 50 pages that are linked that you opened...
  • The online archives of The Daily Show used to have a very neat search-by-date feature. Now that it's gone, finding a clip in the (badly tagged) archive is not at all easy. Five or six clips per show, four shows a week... for ten years.
  • Given its sheer size, Survival of the Fittest tends to cause this due to the sheer number of characters and intersecting storylines. It gets even worse if it's only a single scene that you have in mind, the wiki only partially allays these problems.
  • Megatokyo now has a searchable archive. It's a good thing, considering it has over 1,300 strips.
  • Casey and Andy has had a number of strips with links back to past strips to explain just where something came from. Like when it turned out that Jen was an international jewel thief.
  • Averted by Irregular Webcomic!, which has a search function that lets you search the strips by theme, by any word in the dialogue, or even by the annotations. Good thing too, as it has over 3,000 strips.
  • 8-Bit Theater is in the process of indexing the script for every strip along with keywords so that it will be easy to search the archive. The author did ask his loyal fans for help with that immense job, though.
  • The Order of the Stick doesn't have a search feature, so some fans decided to create a forum topic named "OOTS Quiz", where questions are asked about the comic, and the one who answers it (and provides the necessary link as proof) can ask the next question.
    • The fact that the comic has a list of named strips make it easier, but since the strip names are mostly punny titles referencing what may be a minor aspect of the strip in question, this makes a trawl harder than just sifting through, say, an episode list.
  • Dominic Deegan's archive is broken down by chapters. Some of them can be pretty lengthy, though. Also, like Sluggy Freelance, links to relevant strips were later added to The Rant as the stories got longer and had more callbacks.
  • Gordon McAlpin of Multiplex does an excellent job of providing "related strips" links for pretty much every comic.
  • Like Pete Abrams and Amber Williams, Dan Shive of El Goonish Shive adds links to relevant past strips in his commentary so occasional readers aren't confused by events that happened months ago in real time but mere days ago in Web Comic Time.
  • Homestuck and its predecessor Problem Sleuth both lend themselves to archive trawls as their creator Andrew Hussie is very prolific (Homestuck being the longest webcomic currently) and is known for writing mind bending stories that require repeat readings to fully understand.
    • Many people have re-read the latter half of Problem Sleuth because they were linked to a page in the middle.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl even has a section of the website devoted to new readers so that they can catch up relatively quickly without reading every single one of the old chapters. It still recommends that the new reader read over a hundred old pages, plus everything after the artist started to use digital coloring.
  • Just about any reading of Sunset Grill will lead to this as the series has been updating by-weekly since 2008 with very few breaks. There also isn't any formal chapter divisions to help find where things are.
  • Amy Stroffolino of Charby the Vampirate will sometimes add links to the previous time a character was seen in the author's comment or in response to a fan question below a comic page.