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Halfway Plot Switch

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"So you think they ever settled that bag boy strike?"
Homer Simpson while rafting down the Zambezi River, The Simpsons, "Simpson Safari"

A typical plot structure is Two Lines, No Waiting, where two mostly unrelated plots occur simultaneously. A Halfway Plot Switch, on the other hand, features two mostly unrelated plots that occur one after the other, linked by a rather tenuous chain of events. As such, the start of the episode will often have close to nothing to do with the ending. This is frequently caused by a Conflict Killer. Not to be confused with a Malignant Plot Tumor, where the supposed B-plot (or even C-plot) gradually eclipses the A-plot.


If the plot switch occurs while wrapping up the story, it's a Gainax Ending. A Sacrificial Lion may fail to survive the switch. Can seem similar to First Law of Tragicomedies, but that only applies to a specific change in tone (comedy to tragedy), where the plot is unaffected. If the Halfway Plot Switch involves the work becoming darker or scarier, a Gut Punch may be involved.

Compare Developing Doomed Characters, which is about the time spent examining the mundane lives of the characters before something extraordinary happens that starts the "real" story. Compare to Batman Cold Open where the opening events not connected to the main plot are resolved before it begins. Contrast Working the Same Case. Compare and contrast Mid-Season Twist, which typically marks the end of the first act or even earlier.


May overlap with Genre Shift, or Surprise Creepy. Often the switch itself is a Wham Episode.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is a favored tactic of Cromartie High School, often combined with Random Events Plot or What Happened to the Mouse? Rarely will anything actually be resolved. One episode, for example, ended with:
    Narrator: Will anyone learn Hokuto's Lackey's name? (second plot) What will happen with the Boss Championship? (first plot) Many questions will be answered in the next episode of Cromartie High School... and many will not. We hope you'll join us then.
  • Dragon Ball Z's Cell Saga has this combined with a serious case of The Big Bad Shuffle — after a fake out with Freeza coming back to Earth (only to get on the bad side of The Worf Effect), the main plot seems to be the Kid from the Future Trunks coming back in time to prevent Dr. Gero, a scientist who worked for the Red Ribbon Army, from unleashing a pair of deadly androids in revenge for the Red Ribbon Army's defeat, which caused the apocalypse in Trunks' timeline. Dr. Gero and another android show up and put on a terrible showing before Gero is unceremoniously killed by the two androids who caused Trunks' Bad Future... who don't actually have any interest in destroying the world this time. Then Cell shows up with his own goals, leaving the 'Dr. Gero's Revenge' plot thoroughly by the wayside except by the very end, when Cell inadvertently ends up killing Goku during his attempted Suicidial Cosmic Temper Tantrum as per Dr. Gero's original goal, and then attempts to blow up the Earth once he comes back from that.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha starts out with a standard Monster of the Week formula with Nanoha's primary goal being the collection of the Jewel Seeds. Once Fate appears, the Monster of the Week formula is abandoned, and the Jewel Seed hunt becomes more of a secondary goal to Nanoha's attempts to get through Fate's cold exterior.
  • The manga and anime of Soul Eater starts with the main characters capturing 99 souls and 1 witch's soul so any of them can become the new weapon of Lord Death, who is basically the Grim Reaper. ... too bad! Witches eventually become actual antagonists, and that goal is set aside completely to defeat them. The manga eventually circles back to its original goal, while the anime has an original ending that forgets it.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 99 starts out being focused on Wolffy Playing Sick to avoid her wife's wrath after his attempt to catch a goat falls flat. Once Wolnie discovers Wolffy is faking his ailment and leaves with Wilie, the plot switches to being about Wolffy having to hide Pink Fox from Wolnie when she pays a visit to Wolf Castle.

  • "Buck Buck", one of Bill Cosby's routines from his stand-up days. The first half is about Buck Buck, a game in which one group of kids gets jumped on by another and tries not to fall down (Bill's team is good on defense, but their real secret weapon is Fat Albert). It then segues into a story about young Cosby and Fat Albert getting scared by their friends with the help of a Frankenstein statue. Originated the line "I told you that story to tell you this one", which has become a stock phrase sometimes used as a Lampshade Hanging.

    Comic Strips 
  • A Calvin and Hobbes story had Calvin and Hobbes creating their G.R.O.S.S club and then accidentally pushing Calvin's mother's car out of the garage, leading to the duo running away from home.
    • In another arc, Calvin is trying to do his homework when gravity reverses, causing him to get stuck on the ceiling. Just after everything reverts to normal, he starts to grow bigger and bigger until he falls off the Milky Way Galaxy. As he puts it, "this has been a very peculiar afternoon." The 10th anniversary special has Watterson admitting that the story was "weird for weirdness' sake".
    • Another story arc had a variation of this; Calvin and his parents go to a wedding for presumably a friend of the mother, but Calvin accidentally leaves Hobbes behind and gripes about it throughout. But when they return home, the family is horrified to learn their house had been broken into and robbed. The parents are visibly shaken by the robbery, while Calvin gets scared that Hobbes may have been stolen, but after he's found under Calvin's bed covers, Calvin quickly goes back to normal, but the plot now focuses on the parents dealing with the robbery. And then it ends with Calvin complaining about the TV having been stolen.
  • FoxTrot uses this sometimes.
    • One 1995 story had Jason entering a chess contest with Roger and wins $50, thus turning the story into Jason using the money to taunt his siblings. Then, the plot shifts to Jason spending all his money on 5,000 gumballs, which he eats all in one weekend. THEN, the plot shifts to Jason getting his first cavity as a result of eating all the gumballs, before finally leading up to Jason's first dentist visit.
      • Probably a bigger one occurred in 1999, with a big story of Roger going on a business trip out of state, then returning home to find Jason in stitches following a Hot Wheels accident. After two days focusing on Jason and his stitches, the plot switches to Roger quitting work to spend more time with his family. He then gets scammed out of $199.99 in an infomercial. He then tries trading stocks on the Internet and winds up losing $11,000 in the second hour (after earning $3,000 in the first hour). After everyone at Roger's work goes crazy without Roger there to mess things up, he gets his job back. However, Roger sold the family computer after losing the money in the stocks, so the plot finally goes to Andy buying the iFruit.
  • A Heart of the City seven-week arc started with Dean mourning the end of Star Wars and ended with Heart dreaming she was in summer school. It starts here.
  • A 1976 storyline in Peanuts had Snoopy determined to play tennis at Wimbledon, which he believes is near Kansas City. When he gets to Kansas City he becomes more concerned with finding his sister Belle, and the whole Wimbledon thing drops away. Lampshaded when he laments "And now I can't even remember why I'm wearing this stupid tennis visor!"
  • The Wacky Adventures of Pedro often does this for storylines that run longer than a few months. One Wacky Adventure lasted from August 2001 all the way to March 2005 just because the cartoonist kept changing the plot (though each story does flow into another relatively well).

    Fan Works 
  • The Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic The Joyous One has two. The first third of the story deals with Feliciano trying to get Ludwig back home and him recovering from his First Episode Resurrection. The next third of the story deals with Ludwig (now Monika) coming to terms with her trans identity. The last part of the story becomes a Coming-Out Story as Monika explains the situation to her parents, and they try to find a place where they can all live together.
  • The Zootopia fanfic A New Dawn is initially about Dawn Bellwether seeking revenge after escaping prison. However, she is caught and thrown back in jail early on, and the rest of the story is about her relationship with Gideon Grey, and how he slowly helps her realize the error of her ways.

    Films — Animated 
  • Freddie as F.R.O.7 is a definite example. The story begins in medieval times where a king and his young son Frederick (whom he blessed with magical abilities) live in a beautiful castle alongside Frederick's aunt. Frederick's mother was lost at sea so he spends all of his time with his father. During a horse ride, a snake spooks the king's horse. He falls and dies instantly. Shortly afterwards, Frederick realizes that it was his aunt who spooked the King's horse. She tries to kill him but ends up turning him into a frog instead. He escapes and she vows to find him. The narrator goes on to say that Frederick lived life among other frogs...and then used his powers to travel through time to the United Kingdom and become a secret agent. The rest of the plot focuses on Freddy trying to solve a mystery with his human team Scotty, and Deffers. The only cohesion comes from the fact that Freddy's aunt is the Big Bad having apparently gotten bored of ruling the kingdom for which she killed Freddy's family in the first place and teamed up with an overweight evil man to steal monuments instead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The 30 for 30: Fantastic Lies film adopts this trope for the infamous Duke Lacross Rape case. It first paints the picture of life and culture at Duke up to the accusation, switching to the accusation as one would expect when it comes up. Then, when its revealed the accusation is false, there's a notable shift to the victim, Nifong, and just how things got this far when there was evidence from the very start that would have cleared the accused.
  • 1980s Russian movie Air Crew (Экипаж) starts off as a Kitchen Sink Drama and then switches to a Disaster Movie.
  • An American Terror starts out looking like it will be an Elephant or Zero Day-esque drama that follows a trio of social outcasts as they prepare to commit a school shooting, but then it turns into a Slasher Movie when the man who two of the would-be school shooters try to steal guns from is revealed to be a homicidal maniac complete with Torture Cellar.
  • Another Russian Movie, "The Arrows of Robin Hood" ("Стрелы Робин Гуда") has the heroes spent the first half helping an impoverished knight reunite with his Love Interest. They succeed, and the two get married, only to be fatally shot immediately afterwards. They are then never mentioned again, and the rest of the movie is devoted to Robin rescuing Maid Marian from the Sheriff.
  • Art School Confidential is based on a graphic novel by Dan Clowes, composed of one-page descriptions of art students. The film starts off as a riff on the comedic eccentricities of art and design schools... oh wait... there's a murder mystery? Yeah, also slip in an action sequence!
  • The first half-hour of Assault on Death Mountain (the sequel to Assault on Devil's Island) involves the main heroes trying to rescue a little girl from her evil millionaire father, and the final hour of the movie is about the heroes trying to stop an evil Syrian weapons dealer from unleashing killer gas on America.
  • Baz Luhrmann's Australia hits this midway through the film. Once Lady Ashley and the Drover deliver the cows to the dock, there's a Time Skip, and it's suddenly revealed that the main villain has been fed to crocodiles by his second-in-command, the narrative has jumped forward several years, and Australia is suddenly in the midst of World War II. During all this, the plot changes from "deliver the MacGuffin" to "rescue the child protagonist and save the Aboriginal children in the midst of Japanese bombing runs".
  • Avengers: Endgame: The movie starts with the surviving heroes from the last film planning to find Thanos, take the Infinity Stones back and use them to bring back everyone who died. They find him in the first 10 minutes, where it's revealed Thanos anticipated this and destroyed the Stones, and is now essentially a heavily injured retired man who poses no threat. He's quickly killed and the plot shifts to Earth's surviving population learning to cope in the post-snap world for five years, before Ant-Man returns and introduces another plot-switch: he accidentally discovered time travel, which will allow the Avengers to recover the Infinity Stones from the past.
  • BAPS begins as a screwball comedy about two girls from the ghetto who are hired to scam a dying millionaire into thinking one of them is the granddaughter of his first love. Halfway through the movie, their conscience gets the better of them and the movie takes a sharp turn for the dramatic as they get him to have fun in his last days while re-evaluating their own lives and relationships.
  • Better Watch Out starts out as a seemingly run-of-the-mill home invasion horror movie, as a babysitter and the adolescent boy she's watching over are stalked by an armed intruder. Thirty minutes in, we learn that the entire thing was set up by the kid and his friend, so that he could impress her by stopping the intruder and "saving the day". Unfortunately for the babysitter, the boy proves to be far more dangerous than a real burglar would've been.
  • In Ben & Arthur, the first half features the titular homosexual characters trying to have the state of California legally recognize their marriage; the second half focuses on the two dodging the sinister machinations of Arthur's religious brother Victor.
  • Bicentennial Man: The film starts as a fairly straight adaptation of the Science Fiction Drama "The Bicentennial Man", but around the start of Andrew's second century, he meets Canon Foreigner Portia Charney, and falls in love. This changes to a Romantic Comedy as he tries to make her happy, which reframes his drive to become human as a demonstration of his love for her. Despite the change in plot, there is no Tone Shift, as Robin Williams does a good job creating levity whether he's acting as a Robot Butler, in search for a soul, or when romancing a human.
  • Birdemic is about a guy who gets rich off of green technology courting a girl whose modeling career is taking hold, only for birds to suddenly start attacking at the halfway mark. It's meant to be a modernized tribute to The Birds.
  • Blind Date starts with the first half being about a man trying to survive a horrible blind date. In the second half, he's avenging himself and trying to ruin her wedding.
  • The Ed Wood-penned The Bride And The Beast initially starts off as the story about a newlywed who realizes that she is the reincarnation of a gorilla, which is the reason why male gorillas are aroused by her. Then halfway in, she and her new husband, a big game hunter, go on an African honeymoon and the film then turns into a story about the husband going after some escaped Bengal tigers attacking people on his campground. Meanwhile, the titular bride is shoved into the background, and no gorillas are seen until the last 10 minutes when the original plot finally resumes.
  • Cadillac Man starts out following a sleazy two-timing used-car salesman with a quickly expiring Karma Houdini Warranty, dealing with the prospect of losing his job, having his girlfriends find out about each other, and a rebellious teenage daughter running away. Just as these combined issues begin to overwhelm the lead, the story takes a dramatic left turn, and turns in to a hostage crisis, with the lead as one of the hostages.
  • The South Korean film Phone starts as a thriller about a journalist who uncovered a pedophilia scandal being stalked by one of the people she accused. She moves into a friend's empty house and changes her phone number. Then her friend's daughter answers her phone and becomes possessed, and the plot suddenly becomes a supernatural horror movie about how the phone number is cursed by an angry spirit. Said spirit actually kills off the stalker halfway through the movie to put that plot thread permanently to rest.
  • The Cottage, a British movie, begins as a black comedy about a bungled kidnapping before turning into a dark horror comedy about a Leatherface-type slasher killer half way through. Presumably it was inspired by From Dusk Til Dawn.
  • This shows up in a science documentary, of all things. Called The Dark Secret of Hendrik Schon, it's about the titular scientist, a titan in the field of theoretical physics. The first two-thirds of the program are about his early career and work in nanotechnology. It builds up some drama around the unnerving applications — a weapon of assassination, an engineered biowarfare agent, the feared Grey Goo scenario, and so forth. Then around the forty-minute mark, a student reading one of Schon's papers picks up a clue that leads to his real "dark secret": He was a fraud. His papers were lies built upon fake experiments he never conducted and "evidence" he made up out of whole cloth. Whether this is a masterful subversion of Science Is Bad hysteria, a piss-take on the idea that the scientific community knows everything, a Stealth Parody of sensational documentaries, or just a flaw in one such documentary is up to the viewer.
  • D.C. Cab changes from a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits trying to make it as a cab company in D.C. to a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits trying to save one of their own and a couple of kids from kidnappers in the third act.
  • Dear Zachary already starts off sad, detailing how Andrew Bagby was loved by friends but killed by his mentally-unstable girlfriend Shirley Turner. While she's about to go to trial for Andrew's murder, Turner reveals she's pregnant, and Andrew's parents attempted to battle to get custody of the baby. The film was meant to be a compilation of people talking about Andrew so that his son, the titular Zachary, would know him. But then, in a horrendously cruel twist of fate, Turner kills herself and Zachary. The rest of the film is about Andrew Bagby's parents getting justice for their grandchild through new laws that would keep people in Turner's situation (about to be on trial for murder) in prison before trial.
  • Death Proof is about a group of attractive girls hanging out at a bar who meet a mysterious older named Stuntman Mike. And then... he kills them all, and we move onto a different group of girls.
  • The Descent is somewhere between this and Developing Doomed Characters, as the film spends a while dealing with the personal interactions and physical hardships of a group of female spelunkers, then adds subterranean cannibals.
  • Evil Dead Trap starts off as a Slasher Movie about snuff films, then becomes a near-incomprehensible supernatural horror story.
  • The main focus of the first half of Exam focuses on the candidates trying to unveil hidden writing on their paper. Then White makes Brunette burn her own paper, and the rest of the film documents the candidates slowly going insane and turning on each other.
  • Flightplan (2005) starts with a recently-widowed woman waking up on a plane with her daughter nowhere to be found with no one on the flight crew or among the passengers remembering a little girl. Soon, even she begins to doubt her own sanity, especially when the captain proposes that her daughter died along with her husband, and that she's in deep denial over this. After discovering that it's all a plot to blackmail the airline for a lot of money and frame her for it, the movie promptly turns from a psychological thriller into an action flick, where she tries to find her daughter, while trapped on a plane with a killer and his accomplice.
  • Gene Kelly's debut film For Me and My Gal starts off as lighthearted then becomes serious halfway through as America enters World War I.
  • Frequency goes from a dramatic story about a son reconnecting with his dead father into a Set Right What Once Went Wrong thriller.
  • The former Trope Namer and one of the premier examples was From Dusk Till Dawn. It starts off as a crime-thriller about a pair of brothers on the lam in Texas, who take a family hostage in their RV to cross through the border with Mexico. Halfway through, when they enter a strip club, they basically stumble into a slapstick-gore horror film with vampires. There were actually theater-goers who said, out loud, at the point of the switch, "Wait, what the hell kind of movie is this?!"note 
    • The film's second sequel rehashes the plot switch structure with a western style, having a post carriage theft plot preceding the action and horror.
  • Funny People was advertised as a funny yet touching story of a famous comedian coming to terms with the value of his own life when he's diagnosed with a deadly disease. About halfway through the film, however, he's cured, and he spends the rest of the film getting entangled in a romance with his married ex-girlfriend.
  • Hancock, rather infamously. It starts as a comedy about a superhero who really sucks at his job. Then halfway through, it turns into a dramatic action movie when his PR person's wife turns out to be another superhero who was Hancock's former wife and they're both immortal.
  • Heckler starts out as Jamie Kennedy's examination of hecklers, in which he interviews comedians about their thoughts on heckling and confronts actual hecklers who interrupt his stand-up comedy shows. About halfway through, the film twists and starts going after movie critics in the same fashion, with the surprise thesis that critics are really just hecklers.
  • High Lane, another mountaineering film, turns into a Slasher Movie for its second half when its protagonists suddenly find themselves being hunted by a feral, cannibalistic Mountain Man.
  • Alfred Hitchcock:
    • Psycho starts out following a woman who succumbs to temptation and steals money from her employer. The film changes to a horror story about forty minutes in when she's murdered out of the blue by a psychotic motel manager, and the rest of the film follows him. Hitchcock threw his original audience off even further by hiring a well-known actress to play the Decoy Protagonist. To reinforce this trope, he requested theaters screening Psycho to not let any more people in to watch once the movie began.
    • The classic The Birds starts out as a romance and then shifts gears about half way through the movie, turning into a horror movie about the titular animals.
    • The driving plot thread of the first half of Vertigo is the mystery behind Carlotta Valdes and whether or not Madeline is possessed by her. The second half of the film (after Madeline's death) is centered around Scottie's obsession with Madeline and the lengths he'll go to in order to be with her again.
  • Another documentary that manages it is Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows. It starts as a straightforward year-in-the-life documentary of one of the most popular wrestlers of the era. Then comes the Montreal Screwjob, and all of a sudden it's about one of the most dramatic betrayals in wrestling history.
  • House of Flying Daggers starts out as a story about a soldier trying to infiltrate a rebel organization, with the implication that he's going to end up falling in love with the blind girl who is his only lead and have to choose between love and duty. Then the political aspects abruptly get discarded in favor of a love triangle story between the hero, the girl, and his boss.
  • Hugo spends a good chunk of its runtime detailing the life of the titual street urchin living in a train station, trying to figure out a way to fix an automaton found by his late father, but once he finds out that Papa Georges is actually Georges Méliès, most of the rest of the film focuses on his various real life exploits of working on silent films instead.
  • In Icarus, the documentary starts out with Bryan Fogel (the director) trying to win an amateur cycling race through doping and getting past testing as an experiment. The person he uses to help him with this, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, was (at the time) the director of Russia's national anti-doping laboratory. As they become buddies, it's revealed that there is a Russian state-sponsored doping program Grigory runs. As news of this program comes out in the media, Fogel flies Dr. Grigory to the States to testify about it while keeping him safe. The documentary is all about Grigory and the doping program from this point on.
  • In Imposter (2012), French career conman Frédéric Pierre Bourdin impersonates a missing boy - Nicolas Barclay — in order to get to the United States. Throughout the movie, he details all the crazy things he did to trick the family. He was eventually found out by several authorities (an FBI agent and a private investigator). Then the focus shifts to the family and how they were so inviting of a man who was obviously not Nicolas. The conclusion drawn by several people is that someone in the family killed Nicolas and everyone covered it up. The documentary ends on an uncertain note, though several family members plead to the camera that this is not the case and that Frédéric is a liar.
  • The Invention of Lying has this. The first half of the movie is about a man in a world where everyone tells the truth discovering he can say falsehoods and people believe him, and the second half turns into a commentary on love and religion.
  • James Bond:
    • A View to a Kill starts out with an investigation of Corrupt Corporate Executive Max Zorin and his sale of EMP resistant microchips to Soviet Russia. James Bond investigates by attending a horse sale, where he finds out that Zorin is also trading in illegal augmentations. Neither of these plot points make much of a difference in the end because right after Bond escapes, the real plan to destroy Silicon Valley is introduced and a relatively minor clue (a check made out to a woman from San Francisco) brings Bond to California.
    • Goldfinger starts as a surveillance mission to determine if the titular character is smuggling gold in and out of England to get the best price. Smuggling is forgotten quickly with the phrase "Operation: Grand Slam" which turns out to be a plot to nuke the gold at Fort Knox.
  • The Australian film Japanese Story is billed as a romantic drama involving an Australian scientist (played by Toni Colette) who ends up having an affair with a married Japanese businessman. About 2/3 of the way into the film, the businessman dies in a freak accident while swimming, and the rest of the film is spent on Colette's character dealing with the corpse and the aftermath of this man's death.
  • Jaws begins as a story about a small town police chief trying to convince the mayor that there's a shark and having to deal with the island being more concerned with the economic impact than lives. The second half is a three man buddy movie as the chief goes on a shark hunt with a grizzled old fisherman and a rich young scientist. We never see anyone from the town again until the sequel.
  • Killer Mountain starts off as a fairly standard mountain climbing drama/thriller, but then the remaining protagonists discover Shangri-La, an immortality serum, and monsters that are implied to have been left behind by Ancient Astronauts.
  • Knives Out starts out as an Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery in a Big Fancy House, but we're very quickly given an answer to "whodunnit", at which point it becomes a cat-and-mouse Sympathetic Criminal vs Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist crime story. And then it's revealed that the supposed perp is innocent after all, set up by the real killer, and it wraps up as a classic Whodunnit again.
  • Knowing starts out as a thriller about strange numbers, written down by a Creepy Child. The protagonist, a Science Hero, tries to stop accidents from happening, after he understands what the figures mean — but utterly fails, as The End of the World as We Know It is near, leading to a Apocalypse How Class X Event . Though, Nicolas Cage's character has a rather spoilerific Chekhov's Skill, if you think about it.
  • Stanley Kubrick did this a lot with his later films. It's actually a trademark of his that his films were split into two distinct halves, and it got to the point where he'd even explicitly label them.
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey does this not once, not twice, but four times. The first plot focuses on the evolution of man, and then we switch to a plot centered on Dr. Floyd participating in a top-secret mission to the Moon which turns out to be because they had found the first conclusive evidence of extraterrestrial life. Then much of the rest of the film is switched over towards showing the lifestyles of the two conscious astronauts aboard a long-distance flight when some strange things happen, before taking a dark turn where Hal kills everyone except David Bowman at which point it becomes an incredibly surreal series of occurrences that lead to the next stage of human evolution.
    • Like the book it was based on, A Clockwork Orange was specifically divided into three parts. The first introduces Alex and shows us the dystopian world in which he lives as we see him and his droogs go out and do all kinds of nasty things. Then we get to the second plot centered around the experimental rehabilitation technique, and finally the third story where Alex must deal with the effects of the technique.
    • Full Metal Jacket starts off with Joker in boot camp, focusing on the decaying mental state of Private Pyle and his interactions with Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. After Pyle's murder-suicide, the film follows Joker to war.
  • Lake Bodom starts as an archetypal Slasher Movie (group of teenage friends go camping in the woods where unsolved murders occurred years ago, sexual tension and partying happen, people start dying) until the reveal that half of the group has been plotting to murder the others. The film then follows their effort to dispose of the bodies while extensive flashbacks explain their motives, until a second twist reveals that they are actually being stalked by a crazy murderer, and the film goes back to the slasher genre.
  • Letter Never Sent starts off as a story about four geologists trying to find diamond deposits in the forests of Siberia. The main plot conflict seems to be the Love Triangle between the pretty young female geologist, her boyfriend, and the older male geologist who covets her. Then the forest catches fire, the second half of the movie is a desperate struggle to survive and escape the burning hell, and the Love Triangle part is completely forgotten. (Even before Dwindling Party kicks in.)
  • Life Is Beautiful: Starts off as a romantic comedy, where Guido Orefice eventually wins the affection of Dora and they have a son named Joshua. Switch time — Let's send them all to a concentration camp! Guido tries to make the best of the situation for Joshua by telling him that if he doesn't complain/cry and hides from the guards he would gain "points". 1000 would win a tank. Just before the camp is liberated by the Americans, Guido gets caught by a guard and unceremoniously shot. The movie ends with an American tank at the gates to the camp, and Joshua exclaiming that he won. Damn you, Roberto Benigni.
  • The John Sayles film Limbo starts off as a movie about a fisherman in a small Alaskan town who starts a romance with a single mom and the trouble he has bonding with her daughter. Then they go on a boat trip with his wayward brother who is suddenly attacked and murdered by drug dealers the brother owes money to. The three characters are then forced to seek shelter and fight to survive on a nearby uncharted, uninhabited island.
  • Lost Highway by David Lynch is a particularly wild example. Out of nowhere, Bill Pullman simply turns into Balthazar Getty and a completely different story unfolds...but not really.
  • Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome starts off as a typical post-apocalyptic action flick until Max is brought to the Oasis. Suddenly, the whole situation in Barter Town is left behind, and the theme changes to something akin to the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. Only when Max and the kids reach the Barter Town Underground are the two plots combined.
  • Miracle Mile: What starts out as an indie romance-comedy suddenly takes a right turn when the male lead picks up a ringing payphone and someone at NORAD tells him that World War III has begun and the missiles are on their way. The rest is about finding his love interest, telling other people that the city is about to be nuked and figuring out how to escape and survive the end of the world.
  • Mortal Thoughts starts off as a Black Comedy, then morphs into a Psychological Thriller.
  • In Mulholland Dr., everything changes after Rita drops the blue box.
  • This happens in a few infamous movies shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • The Sidehackers starts as a lighthearted sports movie, but about a third of the way through it turns into a gritty revenge film after the rape/murder of Rommel's girlfriend. The Brains decided to vet the movies they chose to riff more carefully in the future after this one.
    • Riding With Death changes plots halfway because it's a Compilation Movie based on two unrelated episodes of Gemini Man.
    • The Girl in Lovers' Lane shifts gears after the girl from the romantic first two-thirds of the film is outright murdered half-way through the final act.
  • To the extent that Napoleon Dynamite has a plot, it pulls one of these. There's little plot to be seen in the first half, but once Pedro decides to run for school office, most all focus goes to his campaign.
  • The "Oedipus Wrecks" segment of New York Stories has the Woody Allen character's Beloved Smother vanishing during a disappearing act of a magic show. Audience expectations are subverted, however, when she appears as a giant head floating over Manhattan, to torment her son in front of the entire world.
  • The Rupert Everett and Madonna movie The Next Best Thing starts off with a rather sweet and interesting idea about a gay man and his female friend who have sex after a night of drinking and she becomes pregnant — they decide to raise the child together. The second half of the movie veers unexpectedly when Madonna's character reveals that Everett's character isn't the real father and she wants full custody. Cue courtroom drama.
  • The movie Night Claws was pretty much Jaws with Reb Brown, Bigfoot, and a horror-flavored Cliché Storm. Suddenly, near the end, the female lead straight up snaps Reb's neck, is revealed to be a bounty hunter in one of the most ass pulled manners, and then suddenly, Frank Stallone, who despite being named beside Reb Brown had NO screen time up to this point, comes out of nowhere and confronts a generic antagonist who was a Sasquatch hunter about something completely different from the main freaking plot! After that plot's finished, it's never mentioned again.
  • The first half of Parasite (2019) is a Black Comedy about the poor Kim family conning their way into cushy jobs working for the rich Park family. At the halfway point, the Parks go out of town for a night. This allows for the former housekeeper (whom they'd gotten fired by making it seem like she had TB) to get back to the house. This is when the Kims find out that she's been hiding her husband in the secret basement for four years and at that point it becomes a thriller.
  • The little known 1988 film Permanent Record spends about twenty minutes convincing you it's just throw away teen angst when the kid we thought was the protagonist leaps off a cliff to his death between jump cuts.
  • The Thai horror film Phii Khon Pen (called The Victim in the US) starts as a movie about an aspiring actress who gets a job playing the victim in crime re-enactments and landing the role of a murdered supermodel, only to become caught up in the investigation of her death when the real model's ghost begins haunting her. Just as that mystery is solved and the plot comes to a climax, it's revealed that we've been watching a movie-within-a-movie. The plot then switches to following the cast and crew of the movie we've just watched, who are experiencing real supernatural events on the set, which they believe to be related to the true story they based their film on. By the end, it turns out the haunting of the film set actually has nothing at all to do with the story of the movie-within-a-movie after all.
  • The classic Predator starts with Arnold Schwarzenegger trying with his fellow soldiers to save a US politician from a band of South American terrorists. After he discovers that this was just an excuse to save some Black OPS agents, this plot is conveniently thrown out of the window when an alien with an explosive plasma Shoulder Cannon and a cloaking device begins hunting them. Unlike some other examples, this wasn't a surprise to original audiences, and the film begins with something falling to Earth from space and the team encounters the remains of the alien's previous victims early in the film, albeit first under the impression it was the terrorists who did it.
  • Private Benjamin starts out as a story about a woman making it through basic training, but mid-way through the movie, she's not even in the Army anymore and the conflict revolves around her and her lover.
  • ''The Queen of Versailles" starts as sort of a puff piece on Time-Share magnate David Siegel and his wife Jackie, as they construct the Versailles House (which would be one of the largest, most expensive homes EVER). Then the Great Recession of 2008 hits and we see their family struggle to adjust as David's company takes some huge hits.
  • Rat Pfink A Boo Boo. The plot was altered during filming to accommodate anything and everything that passed through the director's hands. Most notably, when a gorilla suit became available, they wrote a gorilla into the movie. It suddenly shifts from being a gritty crime drama to a superhero spoof.
  • The Kaiju film Rodan starts with a mining company dealing with a localized infestation of quite-large prehistoric insects, and then switches to two gigantic pterosaurs emerging from the mine, eating all the insects, and causing havoc across Japan through a combination of the downdraft caused by their wings as they fly around and the JSDF trying to shoot them down and managing to blow up just about everything except the pterosaurs.
  • The 1980s Melanie Griffith/Jeff Daniels vehicle Something Wild starts off like it's going to be a wacky romantic comedy, but then takes a dark turn halfway through when her ex-con husband shows up.
  • The Sound of Music. A cute heart-warming family-friendly musical romp about a nun-turned-governess who teaches her wards the joy of music, and redeems their father, winning his love. And look, at the two hour mark they marry in a show-stopping number. Cue end-credits any time n— oh wait no, that's right: Nazis. Cue 45 minutes of defiance, heartache, quislings, and dark reprises.
  • Space Cowboys starts out as a comedy about a group of elderly former astronauts training to go back into space on the space shuttle. The second half of the movie suddenly becomes an Apollo13/Armageddon-esque thriller where the same elderly astronauts have to deal with the revelation that the "communications satellite" they were sent to repair is actually a nuclear weapons platform, a malfunctioning craft and find a way to get back to Earth safely.
  • The first half of Spider-Man: Far From Home features Spider-Man teaming up with Mysterio to defeat the Elementals, while the second half reveals he's the Big Bad and the Elementals were just illusions.
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens starts as a search for the now-reclusive Luke Skywalker by both the Resistance and the First Order. But halfway through the movie, Starkiller Base, the First Order's new Death Star-style superweapon, is introduced to provide an ersatz Death Star for the finale.
  • The first half of Stripes deals with the irreverent recruits just barely pulling it together to pass boot camp. The rest is about their first mission as they're sent to Italy to recover a militarized RV.
  • Submarine: The first half is about the development of Oliver's romance with Jordana, which then shifts abruptly to Oliver investigating his mother's infidelity.
  • Tokyo Zombie: The first half of the movie centers on the main characters trying to escape the zombies on the streets of Tokyo. Five years later, and it's set in a bizarre society controlled by the rich, and Fujio is now a professional 'zombie-wrestler'.
  • Trail of the Pink Panther's (1982) first half has Inspector Clouseau investigating the latest theft of the Pink Panther diamond. Then he goes missing, and the film switches to the adventures of a TV reporter investigating this via interviewing his friends, foes, and family. Why? Clouseau's actor Peter Sellers died in 1980, before this film was written, and his scenes in the first half are mostly-deleted scenes from The Pink Panther Strikes Again put into a new context. The second half boils down to a Clip Show of the previous films. All of this sets up the next film, Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), which introduces a new protagonist and leads up to the revelations of what happened to the diamond and Clouseau.
  • The Paul Giamatti film Win Win starts out as a comedy about high school wrestling with Giamatti coaching a young wrestling prodigy...then the kid's mother shows up and the second half becomes a drama about a battle over an estate. It still works though due to Giamatti and Tom Mc Carthy's direction.
  • The World's End starts off as a rather bittersweet comedy about a forty-year old Manchild screw-up getting his high school gang back-together to try and complete an incredibly difficult pub crawl. Then, about half-way in, they discover their old town has been replaced by alien replicants, and it turns into a sci-fi action flick.

  • The first part of Alouette's Song is a techno-thriller about the discovery of a potential means of Faster-Than-Light Travel and the subterfuge from a secret government agency that wants to suppress it. At almost exactly the halfway point, the starship is built, and the heroes beat the primary villain in space and are just about to apprehend him, only for them to accidentally enter warp drive and wind up embroiled in an interplanetary war on the other side of the Galaxy. The original Skylark Series was also split into a terrestrial and an extraterrestrial half, but when they first arrive in space there are several smaller vignettes before they encounter the aliens so that the Rising Conflict is more gradual. These scenes were cut out of Alouette's Song, and therefore the book reads like two separate stories with their own climaxes, told one after another.
  • Very much so in "Brainjack", where the beginning is about a Cracker who ends up being hired by a government White-Hat hacker group after hacking the White House and a major telecommunications provider for a neuro-headset. The plot then brutally murders its previous self and becomes about a group of the hackers trying to subvert the neuro-headsets' Hive Mind from destroying them. Can also be considered a Malignant Plot Tumor.
  • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. The first half has the elevator and its occupants accidentally ending up in orbit and ultimately rescuing most of the crew of a space hotel from carnivorous aliens. Once the elevator returns to the chocolate factory, the second half has the three still-bedridden Bucket grandparents overdosing on reverse-aging pills that Willy Wonka invented, necessitating a journey far beneath the factory to rescue one of them. The events of the first half aren't brought up again until the last chapter.
  • Double Image by David Morrell: A photographer takes pics of something in Bosnia that really pisses off a bad guy. As soon as that plotline is resolved, said photographer becomes obsessed over a mysterious woman in some pictures he finds.
  • In the 13th book of Colin Thompson's series The Floods (called The Royal Family), a plot about a dog breaking another dog's heart and a resulting revenge plot is suddenly interrupted by a fourth-wall-breaking "interregnum" chapter where the more central characters say that they're absolutely sick of that story arc, and then the rest of the book changes to a plot about Betty Flood pursuing the throne of Transylvania Waters and the Ultimate Super Wizard Powers.
  • Friday The 13th The Jason Strain starts off in the Deadly Game genre... then shifts to Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Played with in Gone Girl. The novel is told from both Nick and Amy's perspectives. Nick is in the present day, trying to cope with being the main culprit in his wife's disappearance, while Amy's diary entries tell the story of a crumbling marriage. In the second half of the story, we learn that Amy's diary was a complete fabrication, all part of an elaborate scheme to frame her husband. From there, the story gets a little more interesting...
  • This actually happens twice in Smeyer's The Host: It starts out being about an alien adjusting to life as a bodysnatcher, then devotes the entire second act, and much of the third, to developing platonic and romantic relationships with the rebels, before focusing on saving the humans near the end. Really, this is practically Smeyer's signature style.
  • Sidney Sheldon's If Tomorrow Comes is divided into three "books". Books One and Two, which take up a little over a third of the novel, tell the tale of Tracy Whitney's horrifying Break the Cutie experience when she's framed by the Mafia for a robbery and wounding, and how she gets her revenge on the guilty parties. In Book Three, her struggle to make an honest living while paroled from prison leads to her becoming a Classy Cat-Burglar who finds herself matching wits not only with European authorities but a fellow con artist. The main nemesis is an insurance investigator who briefly met up with her in Book One as part of his investigation of the false crimes; he becomes obsessed with tracking her down when his employer is besieged with claims for things she's stolen.
  • The Kneebone Boy starts with three kids dropped off at their aunt's house while their single-father goes out of town on business. Upon finding out their aunt is away on vacation, they go to a small town with a castle, where they find out about the legend of the Kneebone Boy, which says that the first-born child of the family who owned the castle would always be born as a deformed monster. The middle of the book sets up several intriguing plot threads which leave the reader guessing... then drops them all in the last few chapters without resolution to reveal that the castle is now a mental institution where the children's mom is.
  • The first chunk of Little Star is effectively about Lennart and Leila raising Theres before she kills them. Then there's a significant chunk about Theres growing up, followed by a section on Theresa's life before the two finally meet around the midpoint of the novel.
  • The children's book Mandie and the Secret Tunnel starts out as a drama that turns into a mystery/treasure hunt midway through the story.
  • Madeline:
    • The first half of the original book is just about the everyday lives of Madeline, her schoolmates, and Miss Clavel. Then suddenly Madeline is stricken with appendicitis and the rest of the plot revolves around her stay at the hospital.
    • Madeline in London at first revolves around Pepito's unhappiness at having to move to London and leave Madeline and the other girls behind. But when Madeline and friends come to visit him for his birthday, the rest of the plot involves their misadventures with the horse they buy as a present for him.
    • Madeline's Christmas starts out with Miss Clavel and all the girls except Madeline having colds on Christmas Eve and needing Madeline to take care of them, but then switches the focus to an Arabian rug merchant, who sells all his rugs to the girls only to get chilled without them, is nursed by Madeline, and then turns out to be a magician and makes his rugs fly all the girls home to their parents for the holidays.
  • Arguably used in Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow where a routine murder mystery trope dives off the deep-end into X-Files-esque killer bug from space about halfway through the novel.
  • The Tawny Man trilogy starts out with a book about prince Dutiful's abduction by the Piebalds, with his upcoming betrothal to an Outislander princess a background detail. The Outislands plotline becomes more prominent in the second book and completely makes up the third book, while the Piebald storyline becomes less prominent and is ultimately resolved off-page in the third book.
  • Neal Stephenson's Ream De does this in a big way. It starts off with Russian mobsters abducting a girl and several other people who were unwittingly involved in the mob losing millions of dollars to Chinese hackers. After getting dragged to China with the Russian hit squad, the girl gets abducted by Jihadist terrorists in the apartment one story above the hackers. The rest of the story involves various friends, family and government forces trying to stop the terrorists and rescue the girl.
  • Room is about a woman who was kidnapped as a teenager and gave birth to a son while in captivity. The child, Jack, thinks that their prison (or 'Room', as he calls it) is all that exists in the world, while his mother tries to enforce these beliefs for him, although dire circumstances eventually force her to tell the truth. Then they escape, and the rest of the story is about the two of them trying to adapt to the real world after everything they've gone through.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land starts out mainly with a plot about Valentine Michael Smith's (the human raised as a Martian) land rights to Mars, but then this issue is resolved with surprising ease, and the plot transitions to be primarily about Smith creating a religion and becoming a Messianic Archetype.
  • Twilight. Though, this is more of a 3/4 way plot switch, which is how long it seems to take the author before she suddenly remembers she was planning on writing a vampire novel, as well as an angsty May-December romance. The same things happen in the other books. In New Moon, most of the book is devoted to Bella recovering from Edward leaving her, finding out about the werewolves, and the werewolves hunting for Victoria. Suddenly, the climax of the novel goes to being about Edward planning to commit suicide via the Volturi, and Bella and Alice having to save him. In Eclipse, most of the story is devoted to the Bella/Edward/Jacob love triangle, and only gives focus on the matter of the vampire army and Victoria near the end of the book. In Breaking Dawn, the first two sections of the book (as well as a bit of the start of the third) are focused on Bella and Edward marrying and her having and raising her half-human daughter. Most of the third section is about the Volturi arriving to use Renesmee as an excuse to kill the Cullens, with flavors of a vampire conspiracy and the set up for an epic battle that never happens.
  • The first chunk of The Twits is vignettes about how horrible the twits are. The second chunk is about the family of monkeys trying to escape.
  • Wuthering Heights is a famous example. The first half is a more-or-less conventional tragic love story (albeit with very morally ambiguous characters and a strange, mystical, brutally codependent emotional twinship in place of normal romantic love) between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, ending with Catherine's death. The second half takes place after a long Time Skip, focuses on the now-adolescent children of the previous main characters, and casts Heathcliff in the role of Evil Uncle, manipulating and abusing his niece-by-marriage, son and ward to complete his revenge on the Earnshaw and Linton families. The two halves are so distinct that most screen and stage adaptations easily cut the second half and only adapt the Heathcliff/Catherine love story.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The two-part finale of the second season of 3rd Rock from the Sun is about the aliens experiencing dreams for the first time (with elaborate, Three Dimensional Dream Sequences) and thinking they're going mad. This ends up as a season-ending Cliffhanger in which Sally, Tommy, and Harry have left Earth without Dick. When they return at the start of the next season, they've brought another alien (Roseanne Barr) who has been assigned Dick's wife by the Big Giant Head. The rest of the two-part season premiere is about this storyline. So essentially, it's a four-part episode in which the first two parts are about something completely different than the concluding two parts.
  • 24:
    • In the first season this was enforced because they only had a 13 episode contract to start, so the plot begins at Midnight and every threat is resolved by 1 PM. When the series was extended, they dropped in a Sequel Hook scene and continued the plot from there.
    • The first half is either the first phase of the terrorist attack or is a diversion that was meant to waste their time but that would still be deadly if Jack Bauer didn't save the morning!
    • In Season 6, Islamic terrorists detonate a nuclear bomb, killing 12000 people and destroying Valencia. However, this plot thread quickly drops from focus in favor of stopping the Chinese from obtaining a MacGuffin that would give them control of Russia's nuclear arsenal and spark World War III.
  • Has happened three seasons in a row with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the fall/spring season transition.
    • Season 2 has Whitehall's faction of HYDRA being destroyed, with the second half of the season centering on the introduction of the Inhumans and the conflict with the "Real" SHIELD.
    • Season 3 has Ward killed and SHIELD's issues with the ATCU resolved, with the second half centering around Hive escaping from his prison and taking over HYDRA.
    • Season 4 has the Ghost Rider plotline wrapped up, Daisy returning to SHIELD, and the old guard possibly coming to an accord with the new Director, only for Ada to start behaving dangerously, possibly as a result of reading the Darkhold.
  • Angel did this in the second and fourth seasons.
    • The second season was more explicit, with the central arc of the season revolving around Angel's arc based around saving Darla and his vengeance against Wolfram and Hart ending early in the 16th episode, with the following two episodes somewhat wrapping up the aftermath. The next four episodes after that involve a complete shift in storyline to Lorne's homeworld and the rescue of Fred Burkle.
    • The fourth season builds around the coming of the Beast to bring darkness and destruction to LA, and the gang discovering out that Cordelia was possessed by some kind of evil being and was the Beast's master. Once again, this story reaches its finale in Episode 17 when Cordelia manages to give birth to a magical offspring. While still tangentally connected to this earlier plotline, the offspring is a fully-grown woman named Jasmine who is seemingly benevolent and intending to bring world peace while hiding a dark secret, and the plotline stands completely on its own. The last episode represents yet another switch as Jasmine has been defeated in the prior episode, and the season finale is instead spent setting up the following season.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer usually did this whenever bringing in the Big Bad
    • Season 2 pulled two switches: First, it seemed like the Anointed One would be targeting her the full season to avenge the Master's death in the previous season, only for Spike and Drusilla to come in just a few episodes later. They were the main adversaries on the show for a while until halfway through the season where Buffy and Angel consummate their relationship, and in turn cause Angel to lose his soul and turn evil.
    • Season 3 set up Mr. Trick as the main antagonist for the first few episodes, only to bring the Mayor of Sunnydale in and recruit Trick. Then Trick dies halfway through the season and the real Dragon approaches the Mayor with an offer he can't refuse...
    • Season 4 had Buffy constantly running across the secret organization the Initiative... then halfway through their creation, Adam awakes and busts out of the place.
    • Season 6 had a very late switch. Most of it was spent on the gang coping with their self-destructive behavior and life tearing each of them apart while also dealing with a pain in the ass trio of geeks trying to rub them out for the heck of it. And then by Episode 19, it looks like everything's wrapped up. Buffy's finally getting her life in control, the trio's been disbanded, Willow and Tara have reconciled... wait a minute, there's still three episodes left in the season, isn't there? Ex-leader Warren shows up and winds up shooting both Buffy and Tara, killing the latter... which leaves Willow becoming one very pissed off and vengeful witch.
  • The first five or six episodes of Cougar Town are about Jules entering the world of the cougar, and after that, the show shifts to a more ensemble-y show about Jules and her family and friends.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Ark" opens as a story about how the Doctor and his companions inadvertently introduce a deadly virus among the last survivors of humanity and try to put right their error as quickly as possible so that there are no long-term consequences... Except there clearly are as the second half of the story, set thousands of years later, makes very clear: the erstwhile servant race of Monoids have managed to enslave the humans as a result.
    • "The Seeds of Doom" starts as a The Thing (1982)-like story about three scientists in Antarctica recovering an alien plant and unwittingly causing great danger to the rest of Earth. The Doctor gets called in to help and arrives after one of the scientists is infected, with the resulting story apparently centering around the Doctor and Sarah having to work with the remaining scientists to stop the plant. By the second part, all three of the scientists have been killed and the base gets blown up, destroying the plant. The rest of the serial focuses on the Doctor and Sarah Jane trying to stop a second plant that's now in the possession of a mad herbologist living in an estate in England.
    • "Kill the Moon" starts off as a bit of a Classic Who pastiche about the companions and guest characters getting the Base Under Siege treatment from giant orange spiders. There's a ton of Continuity Cavalcade and Internal Homage for ancient stories like "The Moonbase" and "The Ark in Space", just to make sure we get the point. At the midpoint of the episode, the story abruptly turns into a drama in which the characters earnestly debate the ethics of an allegorical abortion and whether the Doctor has any business deciding the fate of humanity for it.
    • "Fugitive of the Judoon" starts off being about the titular thuggish Space Police menacing Gloucester while looking for a fugitive. Once the fugitive is identified, the Judoon take a backseat as the plot shifts to the mystery around the fugitive's true identity.
  • This happens frequently in ER, when a character-oriented episode will be interrupted by a large-scale medical emergency which will provide the drama for the rest of the episode.
  • Father Ted 's "A Christmassy Ted" starts off being about the characters getting prepared for Christmas, which involves getting lost in the largest lingerie section in Ireland. Halfway through the plot changes to being about Ted being eligible for a Golden Cleric award. Graham Linehan has admitted the plots would have worked better as separate episodes.
  • The Full House episode "Grand Gift Auto" spends its first two acts revolving Joey buying a stolen car and getting questioned by an officer. The third act revolves around Joey considering moving out, feeling that the Tanners see him as nothing but a joke, and the family trying to convince him that they really do care about him.
  • The Good Life episode "The Windbreak War" details the, yes, Escalating War over the eponymous garden ornament.. until Jerry forces everyone to sit down and talk about it, after which they all get plastered on Tom's homemade Gargle Blaster and start hitting on each other.
  • Homeland is about Deuteragonists Brodie, a celebrated but shell-shocked veteran of questionable sanity, and Carrie, a bipolar CIA agent who secretly investigates Brodie. After three seasons, Brodie's story has run its course. From the fourth season on, the show is only about Carrie's continuing and largely unrelated adventures trying to balance her life, psyche, and career.
  • Season 4 of House of Cards (US) starts by continuing on from the end of Season 3. After Frank recovers from getting shot by Lucas Goodwin in an assassination attempt a third of the way through the season, the plot switches to Frank scheming with Claire as part of a reinvigorated election cycle.
  • The plot of Kamen Rider Decade, where Decade is the destroyer of worlds, is outlined in the first episode. The rest of the series is about Tsukasa visiting alternate Rider worlds and solving their problem of the week, all the while wondering why people think he's the "destroyer of worlds." We don't actually get back to that plot until the last episodes and the second movie. The first movie and some of the last episodes didn't exactly help as they introduced a new plot in the form of Dai-Shocker.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is fond of this, especially as seasons continue. They often end up handling cases that only look sexual that change halfway into something completely unrelated. They never bother to explain why the non-special victims case isn't handed to another department.
    • One example is the episode "Vulnerable", which starts out as a case about an old woman being sexually assaulted and turns into a tangentially related storyline about another, non-sexual victim in a nursing home where the first victim just happened to be.
    • Another example is "Responsible" where the entire reason for SVU to be there was "We found her on a bed that had ejaculate on it" and any sexual motive was ruled out right after the opening credits so that the plot could dive into an examination of teenage drinking. Although technically it could be considered a child endangerment case (which SVU often dives into) because they were minors.
    • An even worse one would be "Wildlife" where they were called to a case because a bodily fluid was found on a victim: saliva. The murder weapon was described as a number of sharp uneven pointed things (obviously teeth) and there did not appear to be any sexual aspect to the crime. This did not stop them from investigating animal smugglers which resulted in them nearly blowing an FBI investigation getting an innocent man (and his pet tiger) eaten by wild hyenas and having Elliot shot (granted it was implied he took the case so he would not have to spend time with his family).
    • Possibly the weirdest, though, was the one that had what looked like a case of child molestation somehow turn out to actually be a Government Conspiracy to test new poisons on poor immigrants, essentially For the Evulz.
    • In a slightly more reasonable case, "Liberties" starts off as a story about a stalker who set his ex-girlfriend/stalkee up to be raped, but takes a turn when the judge in the case asks Elliot to find the body of the judge's murdered son. Though the rape case is largely sidelined in favor of the latter arc, there does turn out to be a connection between the two halves of the plot.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Season 2 of Daredevil (2015) starts with the Punisher as an antagonist. He is captured four episodes into the season, at which point Elektra and her plotline are introduced, alongside the Punisher plotline.
    • Luke Cage (2016) kills off the first antagonist, Cottonmouth, literally at the seventh episode, the middle episode of the 13 episode season. The same episode introduces Diamondback, who becomes the main antagonist for the rest of the season.
  • NCIS pulls this with the "Enemies Foreign/Domestic" two-parter. "Enemies Foreign" focuses on trying to stop Palestinian terrorists from assassinating Mossad Director Eli David. The team successfully kills/arrests the terrorists, but the episode ends with an explosion that kills Mossad Officer Hadar and sends NCIS Director Vance to the hospital. "Enemies Domestic" then focuses on Vance's first NCIS mission to Amsterdam, since someone from that op was responsible for the explosion.
  • Police, Camera, Action! was a Documentary that aired from 1994 to 2002, and 2007 to 2010, but used this trope fairly regularly. Let's go through them step-by-step:
    • "The Wild Side", which aired in January 1998, started out by discussing swans on the motorway and other wild animals, but after the commercial break, went into the dangers of driving while tired, and new police methods to stop stolen cars in London and a hostage situation in Dyfed-Powys area of Wales.
    • "Rust Buckets", which aired October 1998. After the first sequence of clips about The Alleged Car ("rust bucket" is British slang for the alleged car), it then discussed a police pursuit in Blackbird Leys, Oxfordshire, before focusing on the Scottish Highlands, foreign drivers on British roads, and drivers behaving foolishly.
  • Happens in a couple of Red Dwarf episodes, including the Series VIII finale: the first half is about how Lister and Kryten playing pranks on each other turns into a potentially lethal situation... then halfway through they discover that a virus is eating the ship, most of the crew evacuates, and our heroes have to cross into a mirror universe to find the antidote. This was set up at the very beginning of the episode, but most of the events from the first half have no effect on the second half.
    • In the episode "Emohawk: Polymorph II" it happens twice. First, the crew is being chased by a rogue Space Corps police probe... this leads them to crash onto a Gelf moon, where they have to deal with the locals to fix their ship's oxygen system... this leads them to being back on the ship with the titular emohawk on the loose. Apart from the connections mentioned above, none of the previous parts have any effect on each new plot.
    • The first episode uses this, as well. The first half of the episode is a general snapshot of the routine on board the Dwarf and an introduction to some of the technology they have. The second half is, well... Everybody's Dead, Dave.
    • "Justice" begins with the crew finding a stasis pod drifting in space. They determine that it came from a Prison Ship and contains either a living human woman or a murderous simulant — and it will open automatically in a matter of hours. They go to the prison station to learn more, only for the prison's AI to scan their minds and find Rimmer guilty of causing the accident that killed Red Dwarf's crew. Most of the episode is then devoted to getting Rimmer released. That done, they decide to head home...
      The Cat: Come on, let's get out of here. I don't know what made us want to come to this hellhole in the first place!
      Lister: (staring at the now-open pod) I do.
      • In the end, the key to defeating the new threat is in how Rimmer dealt with imprisonment.
  • Resurrection Ertugrul: Season 3 starts off revolving Ertugrul getting involved in the trade process by setting up shop in the Hanli Bazaar, as well as his subsequent rivalry with Ural Bey. Then Ural kills the market owner, and the governor of Karacahisar embargoes the Kayi goods that were supposed to arrive in his city, thus changing the direction of the arc from that point on. And that’s not even discussing the fact that Season 4 picks up directly after the events of the season 3 finale…
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation has had a couple of examples where two plots that couldn't each fill up an episode were joined together.
    • "Up The Long Ladder" starts with the Enterprise evacuating an Oireland-style colony, complete with Anachronism Stew hijinks. They then visit a second colony populated by clones that are only a few generations away from losing genetic integrity — and the solution is to integrate both groups of colonists into one.
    • "Sins Of The Father" starts with a Klingon officer named Kurn coming aboard the Enterprise as part of an ongoing exchange program and taking his post as temporary First Officer. What looks like an episode of the crew chafing under his Drill Sergeant Nasty attitude changes course when he reveals himself to be Worf's younger brother, and brings news that their deceased father Mogh is being falsely accused of treason. The rest of the episode is a Klingon-style Courtroom Episode as Worf fights to clear Mogh's name and restore his family's honor.
    • "The Drumhead" is a Courtroom Episode that starts with an investigation of espionage and possible sabotage. The spy is caught pretty quickly; the sabotage, on the other hand (which turns out to not have even been sabotage but an accident), leads to a Witch Hunt and a serious look at the issue of the security of the state versus the rights of the individual citizen.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Gosei Sentai Dairanger:
      • The first few minutes of Episode 2 finish the cliffhanger from the first episode, then becomes a focus episode on Shouji trying to redeem himself for letting a kid get kidnapped by the Gorma.
      • The first half of Episode 3 focuses on Shouji and Kazu, while the second switches to Daigo.
    • In Episode 24 of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger Umeko interrogated an alien about a bomb; then the rest of the episode was about the alien, and they only picked it up at the end.
    • An episode of Turboranger subverts this. It seems to do this with the earlier problem of Youhei being poisoned by the monster of the week being quickly overshadowed 5 minutes later by the fact that in attempts to recover the antidote for him Haruna received a blow to the skull and now thinks she's part of the bad guys with poor Youhei forgotten about. However, it turns out Haruna was only fooling to get the antidote and both plots wind up tying together after all.
  • The Vicar of Dibley: The first part of the episode "Summer" deals with the people of Dibley suffering a severe water shortage during a heatwave, with barely enough water to drink and certainly not enough to wash; one scene shows Geraldine and Alice wearing old Halloween costumes because they're the only clean outfits they have left. Halfway through, though, we learn that the local council's solution to this problem is to flood Dibley for a water reservoir, and the rest of the episode deals with the fight to save the village, with no further mention of the problem that led to this in the first place — indeed, all evidence of the shortage disappears after this point.

  • Tom Lehrer's song Poisoning Pigeons in the Park starts out as your typical ballad about the wonders of spring... and then in the first chorus suddenly moves on to being about, well, poisoning pigeons in the park.
    • Also I Hold Your Hand In Mine which starts out like a regular love song but then reveals that the hand isn't attached to her body.
  • The Beatles' "A Day in the Life" is the ultimate Halfway Plot Switch song. Paul even confesses that the middle part was a piano piece that he was initially working on independently.
  • "Charming Weather" from Lionel Monckton's The Arcadians. It starts off obviously leading into a marriage proposal — until they realise they aren't alone, and it turns into banal smalltalk for the chorus. Unusual since, being music, it can do it all over a second time. YouTube has a rather badly performed recording of it.
  • Katrinah Jospehina by Universal Hall Pass. The first half of the song is the tale of a girl (the eponymous Katrinah) who decided to explore beneath the earth. The second half consists of a twisted, echoing beat accompanying backwards-sounding fragments of the lyrics. This change is never really explained, but it's heavily implied that Katrinah is either mentally ill or trapped in hell... or both.
  • Arlo Guthrie starts out "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree" by telling about how he was arrested for littering on Thanksgiving, but he switches halfway through to talk about going to visit the draft board. Eventually it all ties together.
  • Gorillaz's Empire Ants song, in the new Plastic Beach album. It starts with 2D singing, backed by sweet almost lift-like tropical tunes. Then, full stop, and it starts what appears a new song, with electro-techno sounds, bass, and even new vocals, from guest artist Little Dragon. And it's awesome.
  • "Miserable Lie" by The Smiths seems constructed out of three separate songs, opening with a slow, gentle, serious introduction that seems to represent the end of a relationship. The song then turns on a dime to an uptempo number with a series of bitter, (yet comical) stream-of-consciousness lyrics. This shift in tone gets escalated to a manic level in the final part of the track, as Morrissey switches to a falsetto voice, howling about his perceived inadequacies in life and love. It can be argued that the theme of the lyrics stays constant, but then again, said theme is dominant in most of The Smiths' songs, as well as Morrissey's solo work.
  • The Good, The Bad and The Queen's song, Three Changes. It doesn't take a genius to see why it's named like that. The song starts and goes all well, up after the second chorus, and it switches to a Latin-like song, and later, it changes into a slower and minimalistic version of the first part. So there's only two changes?
  • The first half of Laserdance's 1995 album The Guardian of Forever is the same style as the previous two albums, but halfway through it undergoes a total Genre Shift to tech-trance.
  • David Bowie's "Cygnet Committee" starts with the singer bemoaning the intellectual passengers in his circle and shifts into a tale of that circle leading a Full-Circle Revolution.
  • Billy Joel's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" switches tone and subject three times. The first and final sections are about the restaurant, or more accurately its wine list. This restaurant is not mentioned in either of the other two more upbeat sections, one of which is about a teenage romance that eventually turned into a failed marriage. Also, the original title was "The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie" (The two teens the third section is about), according to Word of God.
  • The song "A Fair Day's Work" from the Monty Python Oratorio Not the Messiah (He's a Very Naughty Boy) starts off as a silly song in which a man on death row praises the social benefits of capital punishment. Then he goes on about how everyone must pull their weight in society as part of the reason why capital punishment is necessary (this is where the title comes from), and then finally changes subject again to discuss what he did for a living before ending up being sentenced to die by crucifixion for unspecified reasons. Since the career in question was lumberjack and this was made by Monty Python, this naturally transitions into a monologue about crossdressing.
  • Scorpions "Coming Home" starts out as a soft acoustic ballad then about halfway through suddenly changes into full-on heavy metal.
  • 5 Seconds of Summer's "She's Kinda Hot" starts out about a guy who's annoyed by his girlfriend but only stays with her because, well, "she's kinda hot". Then in the second verse, it randomly switches to being about the narrator's friend dropping out of college because he has "bigger plans", then for the chorus, it becomes an anthem of empowerment for losers and outcasts.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "Foil" begins as a cooking show parody about the benefits of using aluminum foil as a wrap. The second half is all about the conspiracy theories the singer believes in (Alien Abduction, Black Helicopters, The Illuminati, Mind Control, and Moon-Landing Hoax among them) and how a Tinfoil Hat will protect you.
    Oh by the way, I've cracked the code...
  • In "Raspberry Beret" by Prince the first verse starts off by talking about the narrator's job at the store and his problems with his manager. Then the girl with the raspberry beret walks in and there goes that whole plot line.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Built into Betrayal at House on the Hill. The game begins with the players exploring a spooky old mansion. Eventually, one player will reveal the Haunt, at which point one player betrays the others, and the heroes have to complete some objective, with the traitor attempting to stop them.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Adventure S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks starts off as a standard "clean out the monster-filled dungeon" scenario. After the PCs enter, they discover that the dungeon is actually part of a derelict spacecraft and they're fighting alien monsters armed with high tech weapons.
    • The 5th Edition adventure Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus starts out with the players fighting an evil cult in Baldur's Gate, then has them have to go to the first layer of Hell to rescue the city of Elturel, which has been sucked into it. This is not a surprise to the players, given the name, but the cult's activies have absolutely nothing to do with what happened to Elturel.
  • After half the total turns in Fiasco have elapsed, an event called the Tilt occurs, which adds a bunch more conflict elements to the game. This has the effect of splitting the story into two halves — before the shit hits the fan, and after the shit hits the fan, so to speak. Good players also modulate their playing before and after the Tilt — before the Tilt, more gentle Character Development scenes and Anachronic Order are usually possible, but after the Tilt, characters with a Need should go from pursuing it to a big Jumping Off the Slippery Slope in pursuit of it, and everyone is expected to take more unpredictable, unreasonable and direct actions. The rulebook also notes that killing other characters before the Tilt is bad form.
  • A Lesser Shade Of Evil seems inordinately fond of this idea (non-GMs are asked not to even read the book's introduction), especially given that the "switch" happens during the first session. PCs are asked to make Exalted-esque demigods in a High Fantasy setting... only to learn during a centuries-spanning fast forward that there is no magic in this world, all their powers come from genetic engineering, the people who chose them for this duty are having a falling out, and the results of this falling out lead to an After the End setting in which the PCs have mastered a variety of scientific principles and must use them to help humanity cling to life. Whew.
  • Fantasy Games Unlimited's Year of the Phoenix. The players are told to create astronaut characters for a science fiction/space game. Partway through the first adventure, the game suddenly changes to an After the End saga in Soviet controlled America 200 years later.

  • The play Done to Death. Act 1 is all about meeting the 5 lead characters and setting up their writing styles and the show's fantasy sequences. Then there is a sudden death at the end of Act 1. Act 2 is then all about solving the murders.
  • The first half of Edward III is a romantic drama, verging on romantic comedy, as King Edward attempts to seduce the Countess of Salisbury. When she refused him, he returns to the wars, and the rest is a standard war history play.
  • The first act of Hamilton is the story of plucky, incredibly intelligent revolutionary soldier Alexander Hamilton as he fights his way through the American Revolution. From "Yorktown" on, the second act follows Hamilton's rise to power in the new American government before his untimely death. Justified in that that's actually what happened in the life of Alexander Hamilton, but still, the two halves are so separate that four main/supporting characters can disappear from the show entirely, and four new main/supporting characters have to be introduced the moment they're gone.
  • The Winter's Tale consists of a first half that is tragedy and a second half that is comedy. Much scholarly ink has been spilled over the exact relationship of the two parts. (Either way, 'Exit pursued by a bear' is around where the shift happens.)

    Video Games 
  • Zig-zagged in the first case of Ace Attorney Investigations 2. It begins with an assassination attempt on the president of a foreign country, with Edgeworth looking for the perpetrator. About halfway through, you find out that the president is fine, but one of his bodyguards has been found dead, shifting the case to a more traditional murder investigation as per the rest of the series. Then you learn that the assassination attempt was staged, and the murder plotline is put on hold until you can prove it. Afterwards, the murder plot resumes, but at the end of the case you find out that amidst the fake assassination, someone planned to kill the president for real, setting up a Sequel Hook for the next four cases.
  • Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator: The seventh game, The Cardinal Sins, starts off with investigating the murder of a priest, which then switches to investigating the Knights of Saint Anthony.
  • Dark Souls starts out implying that the player is trying to cure the Darksign, but halfway through the game after ringing the Twin Bells of Awakening, the story switches from focusing curing undeath and instead about an Ancient Conspiracy and the Forever War regarding the First Flame. This event even has its own Sacrificial Lion.
  • The Dig starts with the discovery of an asteroid on a collision course with Earth and the first minutes deal with NASA's mission to attempt to divert it; but later it turns out that the asteroid is in reality an alien spaceship which whisks away a group of astronauts to an alien planet, and it becomes a quest for exploration and survival.
  • Discworld Noir: You're playing as Lewton PI. The game starts out with a classic Film Noir situation of tracking down missing persons, getting implicated in murder and being pulled in different directions over a MacGuffin. Somewhere around the middle of Act 3 you uncover the linchpin and discover that you've just ended up in a Cosmic Horror story.
  • Disgaea. The first half of the game focuses on Laharl's quest to claim his throne. After he succeeds, the second half, a Space Opera spoof, focuses on the human world. When the mastermind behind the invasion is revealed, it leads to a Rage Against the Heavens story, and the two stories intertwine together.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition does this early on. The game is initially about the war between mages and templars, but a meeting for peace talks is blown up, killing everyone present except the Player Character, and the magical explosion opens a permanent portal into the world of demons, letting them pour into the physical world. You have to choose between siding with the mages or the templars in order to seal the Breach. Once that's done, the person who caused the explosion appears, and they become the Big Bad for the rest of the game. This doubles with Prolonged Prologue since the events described are essentially "Disc One" of the game. Interestingly, the mage-templar conflict that the game initially revolved around never gets directly resolved. Whichever side you don't recruit gets corrupted by the villain and becomes his mooks, and the surviving uncorrupted members are too few to have a political voice. The whole issue is rather quickly forgotten about once the main villain shows up and is resolved by a mostly unrelated side plot.
  • In Dragonsphere you play as the king of the land with your goal being to defeat the evil sorcerer Sanwe before he breaks out of his magical prison. You fulfill this goal halfway through the game. During your encounter with Sanwe you discover you are in fact one of a species of shapeshifters who was magically imprinted with the memories and personality of the king. Meanwhile a usurper tries to proclaim the king died battling Sanwe and ascend to the throne, so your goal now is to find out what happened to the real king.
  • Fable III: Your tyrannical brother is running the kingdom into the ground, so you gather some allies and incite a rebellion to depose him. The coup succeeds, you take the throne, and everyone lives happily ever... oh wait, there's an Eldritch Abomination on its way to attack the kingdom, and as the reigning monarch it's now your job to do something about it.
  • Final Fantasy tends to do this a lot, beginning the plot with the heroes rebelling against The Empire and escalating it to averting an Apocalypse How caused by an Omnicidal Maniac.
    • Final Fantasy IV begins with a rogue knight rebelling against his kingdom when he realizes the monarch has gone mad with power and is trying to conquer the world. At some point, it becomes about fighting the monarch's airship general who wants to go to the moon to release the Sealed Evil in a Can there.
    • Final Fantasy VI starts off as a campaign against the Gestahlian Empire until halfway through, The Dragon becomes a god and destroys half the world, leaving you to recover your lost allies and destroy him.
    • Final Fantasy VII begins with Cloud and AVALANCHE's brave struggle against the evil Shinra company executives, who are draining the life out of the planet to maintain an electricity monopoly. About five hours into the game President Shinra is killed and the Shinra's relevance to the plot is severely diminished, the focus then shifting to leaving Midgar to pursue Sephiroth across the planet and stop his scheme to summon Meteor and become a god.
    • Final Fantasy VIII has its first two disks consist of Squall and the forces of SeeD battling Sorceress Edea and Rival Turned Evil Seifer as they use the country of Galbadia to try and conquer the world. The very first event after Disk 2 is The Reveal that Edea was just Brainwashed and Crazy, and the real antagonist is Ultmecia, a Sorceress in the future who wants to destroy the entire space-time continuum. That's in terms of the overarcing plot — otherwise focus from this point shifts to Squall searching for a way to get his comatose love interest Rinoa back to normal.
    • Final Fantasy IX, the first part of the game focuses on Queen Brahne's conquest of the continent, the plot switch occurs when the party decides to go after Kuja, Brahne's weapons supplier, and he becomes the main antagonist when he promptly offs her at the end of the current disk. A plot switch then occurs a second time with The Reveal that Kuja is an alien from Terra sent by Garland to destroy the world, and Zidane was meant to be his successor and spiritually is his brother that Kuja abandoned on Gaia.
    • Mostly averted in Final Fantasy X, where the overarching plot is always the pilgrimage to destroy Sin. Once Seymour is revealed as an antagonist, rebelling against Yevon and uncovering the secrets of the organization becomes another major plot point, but it never overtakes the fight against Sin as the game's focus.
    • Final Fantasy X-2 has the first half of the game focusing on Yuna, Rikku, and Paine's adventures across Spira as they hunt for spheres while clashing with LeBlanc and her goons, who are also after the same things. The moos is very lighthearted. After Yuna's party takes back the sphere LeBlanc had stolen from them, the sphere reveals that a Weapon of Mass Destruction sleeps beneath Spira and is powerful enough to destroy the world. Not only this becomes the focus of the second half of the game, but the leaders of all three factions also go missing and fiends are pouring out from the temples. The situation is dire enough to convince LeBlanc to join Yuna's side and help her save the world.
  • In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn the children of the last two games' heroes go on a quest to investigate mysterious Psynergy sucking vortexes. This gets derailed by the appearance of villains, war-hungry countries, xenophobic semi-human cities, and so much else. After about a quarter of the game, you hear nothing more about them until the Mother of All Vortexes appears during the ending.
  • Guild Wars Prophecies starts off as the story of a war between the human kingdom of Ascalon and the Charr that's not going well for Ascalon. You leave Ascalon after the fourth mission, and most of the rest of the story is about a religious war in rival kingdom Kryta. After the first few quests in Kryta, Ascalon and its refugees are only occasionally mentioned, and even then only in passing. (Ascalon's King Adelbern lampshades this in the endgame area: "Maybe now that you are finished with this nonsense, you can come back to Ascalon and help deal with the filthy Charr infestation.")
  • Halo:
    • Halo: Combat Evolved: The plot was a well-handled but ultimately rather generic "human Space Marines versus Scary Dogmatic Aliens" affair with a side order of "mysterious Precursors who might or might not become relevant to the plot sometime soon" for the first half, but then we got... The Flood. Bonus points for this not being revealed in advertising or the previews of a very high-profile game.
    • Halo 2: The plot starts with the Covenant coming across Earth, which is a very big deal considering that this is the homeworld of humanity and the Covenant have glassed every other colony, except you are only there for a short time. Then, you end up discovering another Halo ring. The events on this new Halo ring eventually result in the Great Schism.
    • Halo Wars: The plot starts with the defense of two human colonies, but eventually shifts to the discovery of a Forerunner Shield World, where humanity has their first encounter with the Flood.
  • The Last of Us Part II starts out as a revenge story, where you're playing as Ellie trying to avenge her surrogate father, Joel. Then halfway through the game, you switch to playing as Abby, Joel's killer, who is on a path of redemption. You eventually come back to Ellie at the end.
  • The whole Blorbs disease in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. It was at the start an important issue alongside the whole 'Fawful taking over the kingdom' thing, but very quickly got dropped and rarely ever mentioned again (the last reference is how the Miracle Cure cured all cases of the disease in the kingdom, just as it smashes down the Dark Star barriers).
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 starts with Nick Fury invading Latveria illegally, which leads to the Registration act coming into effect. A superhero Civil War breaks out... for three missions. Then it is dropped for The Fold, a sentient network formed from nanites injected into supervillains in order to control them. As the world descends into chaos, everyone, naturally, stops caring about whose side they are on, and both forces unite to defeat The Fold. Afterwards, the Registration Act is pretty much made redundant and void by the Government. Despite the fact that no one actually dies because of their conflict, and neither side really does anything incredibly bad to the other, Cap and Iron Man feel that their team won't be quite the same as it was before the war. But they still are happy to work with one another again.
  • The mother of them all, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The player spends roughly the first two hours playing as Solid Snake, the protagonist from the previous game. Then the plot moves forward two years, to a different location, with the player in control of an entirely new character (ambiguously implied to be Snake for the first few minutes) for the rest of the game. The game's creator, Hideo Kojima, went out of his way to minimise the risk of anyone seeing this twist coming. Some thought the twist was brilliant. Some wanted Kojima's head on a stake.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is about Big Boss rescuing 2 people from a naval base in Cuba, which is an apparent success until Militaires Sans Frontieres is destroyed. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is about his descent to villainy 9 years later, and the plot moves towards Afghanistan and Africa. It's subverted on the fact that you are playing Big Boss' Body Double while the Boss is too busy building Outer Heaven.
  • Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath starts off with The Stranger as a Bounty Hunter who's earning money for an unspecified operation needed to save his life by capturing outlaws until he's finally captured and stripped of any upgrades he has. His captors soon find out that The Stranger is actually a Steef, a species that have been hunted to near-extinction and the operation is an attempt to transform him into a true bipedal creature. With this revelation, The Stranger is now hunted down by everyone, including the Clakkerz he used to do business with. However, he soon comes across the Grubbs, the oppressed indigenous population who worship Steefs and eventually takes up the mantle of their protector and fights to bring down Corrupt Corporate Executive Sekto. This affects the gameplay as well since although Stranger has now lost any health upgrades he previously bought, he later gains access to upgraded versions of his ammo and now that he is no longer a bounty hunter, he no longer needs to take enemies alive.
  • Perfect Dark switches half-way from Cyberpunk to Space Opera.
  • Portal starts off with apparently no plotline, apart from a computer that acts as The Voice, giving basic information about the tests and promising cake if the players finish puzzle after puzzle. Then it turns out this voice is an insane AI, who intends to kill you when the test is done.
  • Silent Storm starts as a World War II squad-based RPG, where you command a team of Allied or Axis specialists and conduct sensitive missions deep in enemy territory. Halfway through, you discover the existence of a SPECTRE-like organization that uses advanced technology like Energy Weapons and Powered Armor in order to get both sides of the war to devastate one another before swooping in and taking over the world. And yes, there are mods in existence that remove much of the latter part to be replaced by more of the former. Oh, and there's even an extremely rare Random Encounter with a Flying Saucer, where you can pick up a rapid-fire energy rifle.
  • The Stealth-Based Game Spy Fiction starts off as a campy spy game about secret agents investigating a virus being made by a weapons manufacturer. Then these characters are all killed off and the last half of the plot is about fighting a terrorist who's disguising himself by wearing glasses and pushing his hair back who is the protagonist's brother who was probably created in a government soldier cloning project and then the protagonist's father (who is a secret agent turned terrorist and wears an eyepatch) shows up out of nowhere and the protagonist abruptly starts lecturing people about the meaning of war and... I guess they knew their audience.
  • In-universe example: In The Stanley Parable, the Narrator's story begins with all of Stanley's co-workers mysteriously disappearing, only to drop this plot thread completely when Stanley stumbles across his boss's secret mind control facility.
  • Two Star Ocean games feature this:
    • Halfway into Star Ocean: The Second Story, the planet you're on (and its relevant prophecy) is essentially destroyed, throwing away nearly the entirety of the plot that preceded this event.
    • Halfway into Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, you come to realize that the entire universe you live in is a computer simulation, pretty much throwing away the entire "war" plotline that had been going up 'till then.
  • A staple of the Tales Series is a Wham Episode in almost the perfect center of each game that provides a sudden twist on its narrative. It's at this point that elements of whatever trope the game is examining starts to come to the forefront.
    • In Tales of Symphonia, the first half of the plot is focusing on getting The Chosen One to complete the Journey of Regeneration to save the world. Then after she completes it, the game reveals that she becomes an Apocalypse Maiden for a second parallel world, at which point the game's themes of racism and discrimination come to the forefront, even meeting the Chosen One of this second parallel world.
    • In Tales of Vesperia, the game starts with the main character on a journey to recover a stolen piece of technology from his hometown. That plot eventually gives way to a semi Government Conspiracy, and even that is resolved by the end of the first act. The rest of the plot consists of the protagonist becoming a Vigilante Man and an analogy for global warming, and the thief plot is never mentioned again. (Definitive Edition added a sidequest that lets you catch the thief and finally bring that plot to a close, but by then it's hardly relevant anymore)
  • Until Dawn plays out like a Slasher Movie involving a masked Serial Killer hunting down and capturing 9 college-age youths, killing them with elaborate Saw-like deathtraps. Then the killer is unmasked halfway through as the mentally unstable Josh pulling an elaborate prank on his friends in revenge for his two sisters' deaths. After that, the plot switches to a supernatural Survival Horror about hiding from the very real threat of the Wendigoes who haunt the mountain.
  • World of Warcraft's Vashj'ir zone. In the wake of the Cataclysm, a new island is formed several miles off the coast of Stormwind. Both factions begin sending troops, with the Alliance seeking to secure Stormwind's coast and the Horde wanting the island as a staging point for an attack. However, on the way there, the Player Character's ship is attacked and destroyed by the Kraken-like Ozumat, and from then on Vashj'ir is about helping the Earthen Ring fight Ozumat and the Naga. Exactly what happened to the island is never explained, and while you can travel to it, other than a flightmaster there's nothing there.
  • Xenoblade starts off as a typical revenge plot, with The Hero going on a quest to defeat the army of soulless robots that destroyed his hometown and killed his Love Interest. The Big Bad at this point is a Jerkass Humongous Mecha known only as "Metal Face". Eventually, it's revealed the Mechon aren't quite as soulless as you once thought. Metal Face is promptly dispatched, and his Well-Intentioned Extremist boss becomes the new Big Bad. Now the plot is still Man Versus Machine, but the focus has shifted from getting revenge on a villain to stopping a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds from betraying everything he once stood for. Once you confront and defeat him... Zanza, the real Big Bad reveals himself, and the plot shifts from Man Versus Machine to Man Versus Jerkass Omnicidal Evil God.
  • Xenogears. At first, the plot is about two nations that have waged war on each other for generations. Then, the plot changes to overthrowing Solaris, a hidden country which ruthlessly manipulates world events behind the scenes. After that, the plot switches to killing god (not the God, who is also in the game and apparently being used as an extremely long-lasting battery, but a sentient interstellar war machine that created humans on the planet to serve as its biological components).

    Visual Novels 
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! seems to begin as a Slice of Life Dating Sim where the protagonist reluctantly joins the literature club. The game starts with a Content Warning for disturbing images for a good reason, because the plot changes into a metafictional Psychological Horror game after Sayori is Driven to Suicide. After this, the game becomes a glitchy mess, the characters' backstories are revealed to be really dark, and the characters themselves begin turning into Yanderes.
  • The freeware Visual Novel Ristorante Amore is presented as a Dating Sim in which the player takes the role of a young woman working in the eponymous restaurant. When the prologue ends, however, the role of the game's viewpoint character changes to Pierre, whereupon it's revealed that all of the characters are actors on a planet called Erewhon fueled by feelings of love from the inhabitants of Earth, and they're staging a visual novel in order to encourage those feelings. Pierre isn't even really named Pierre; his name is actually Josh.
  • Steins;Gate is an example of how this can be used to great effect. The story has a Slow-Paced Beginning, revolving around Okabe accidentally inventing a time machine and gathering his friends to figure out how it works and perfect the design. The shadowy enemy organization, SERN, mainly lingers in the background while the focus is on Okabe trying to invent a time machine before they do. Once it is finally completed, however, the SERN agent M4 shows up, and things get serious when she kills Mayuri. From then on, SERN becomes a direct threat to Okabe. and the plot switches to him fighting against SERN while traveling through time to find a timeline where Mayuri lives, then saving Kurisu, and trying to avert two possible dystopian futures.

    Web Animation 
  • Hanazuki: Full of Treasures uses this to dramatic effect in the first season finale, "Big Bad Sickness". The conflict alluded to in the title, that being Red Hemka suffering from a fatal disease he was afflicted with in the previous episode, is resolved halfway through. The remaining half spotlights Kiazuki's emotional turmoil that has been building up since the series began as she suffers a Villainous Breakdown, turns against her newly gained friends, and nearly undoes their hard-earned victory against the Big Bad.
  • The second series of The Most Amazing Story Ever Told starts off in a waffling fashion, with a child's action figure fantasy and recklessness with explosives somehow affecting life two million years later, but the fifth episode shifts focus to God finding out a strand of fate has been misplaced, with the following episodes elaborating on the story of that fate strand.

  • In the popular The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, an entire story arc (part 2 in a 4-part mega-arc) is based on this storytelling format, to the extent that it is called "I Told You That Story So I Could Tell You This One". The stories concerned are the titular main character's dilemma when every person he ever killed returns as a zombie to plague him, which leads into an exploration of his family and his sidekick's family when he leaves his sidekick to stay with them instead of bothering him.
  • When it began, Ciem was about how Candi was different from other girls. Then, it was about her sister being murdered. Then, it was about her going to college. Then, trying to find love. Then, it was about her sexual frustrations. Then it was about some guy in a shrew costume murdering everyone. Then, it was about her finding true love again.
  • Close to being standard practice for Mountain Time, such as here, when the plot switches to an entirely new set of characters in a completely different scenario, and much more pronounced in longer story arcs like this one.
  • YU+ME: dream . Goes from a very typical Coming-Out Story about a girl named Fiona who goes to a Catholic high school and falls in love with another girl called Lia, to finding out that it was all a dream, Lia is 900 years old, has been captured by the Queen of Dreams and now Fiona, a bear called Mrs. Butterfield, a woman with a removable head, Fiona's conscience, a blue-haired girl called Clandestine, and a bisexual male called Don must travel through Fiona's dreams to get her back. You... you have to read it to wrap your head around it.

    Web Original 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd:
    • The Nerd's review of Super Mario Bros. 3 starts with a normal review of The Wizard and SMB 3... until he starts pointing out satanic references in the game. After that... well... let's just say that all hell breaks loose. Literally.
    • The Nerd's review of Pepsiman starts out looking like it's going to be a review of Yo! Noid. The Nerd goes into the Noid's backstory, then he prepares to play his copy of the game, which he gets from a litter box. Then Pepsiman shows up and transforms the game into the Pepsiman game (along with several other product-placement games the Nerd would rather review).
  • SuperMarioLogan:
    • "The Burger!" initially starts with Junior and his friends playing baseball inside the apartment. Then Cody gets a home run and the ball falls behind the refrigerator. Then Junior and Joseph completely forget about the baseball when they notice the titular burger in front of it.
    • "The Purge!" starts with Junior and his friends watching the news and being notified of the Purge, then Bowser finds out about the Purge and kicks Joseph, Cody and Chef Pee Pee out. This builds up into Chef Pee Pee and Brooklyn T. Guy teaming up to kill Junior.
    • "Jeffy's Wifi Problem!" just so happens to be the most notorious example. Halfway through the video, Jeffy tries to call Brooklyn T. Guy in an attempt to get the WiFi password, only for Brooklyn to quickly forget about the password afterwards and con both Mario and Jeffy $800 out of a Foosball table. Worst of all, he gets away with it.
  • What If?: What would happen if everyone on earth stood as close to each other as they could and jumped, everyone landing on the ground at the same instant? After concluding that earth would continue to spin, Randall goes on to elaborate how our civilization would come to a halt and humanity would die out, not having any food or water supplies to feed even a fraction of the entire world population until they could get back to where they're from.

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


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