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"The show itself is taking episodes to ‘recover’ from the trauma of the end of Series 2. That episode horribly wounded the show itself. Cut it to pieces. Shattered it. Dismembered it. We are now watching a show, a formula, a set-up, in fragments. Roughly stitched back together but unable to return to its former shape."
Jack Graham, "Theses on Hannibal"
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For many shows, the Status Quo Is God. No matter what happens in a given episode or arc, somehow, things go back to the way things used to be by the end. However, there are shows that have the guts to break this pattern — to seriously change their premise, or at least to shake up major parts of their story, and really mean it. No Reset Buttons, no Snap Backs, no way to restore the comfortable status quo. Nothing Is The Same Anymore is Exactly What It Says on the Tin — the setting, or the characters' situation, has changed significantly and irrevocably, for better or for worse, and now the characters have to deal with it.

If done well, it can elevate the series to new heights and give new life to the series that would have otherwise gotten stale. The trick is to do it without Jumping the Shark, which can be a difficult task.

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As there isn't an easy out if it all goes wrong, the writers tend to have to resort to desperate measures like All Just a Dream to attempt to undo the damage should things go pear-shaped and are rejected by audiences. This rarely goes well, and can even result in a Franchise Killer. Pretty much the only hope is a well-executed Continuity Reboot.

See also Game Changer, Wham Episode, Freak Out, Post-Script Season, Breaking the Fellowship, Alternate Universe Reed Richards is Awesome, and Ascended Fridge Horror.

SPOILERS AHEAD. You have been warned.


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Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • This trope is commonly invoked in the marketing of any given big comic book event. Whether it's a Crisis Crossover or a big storyline within a single book, editorial loves to entice readers to pick it up with the promise that nothing will ever be the same afterward. Sometimes this is true... but just as often, whatever changes the storyline brings are eventually undone either by plot contrivance, reset button, or retcon (usually of the cosmic variety).
    • Lampshaded in an issue of The Flash in the early 2000's. At the time, the book was famous for pulling big storylines about once a year. The ad copy for the following issue promised that "nothing will ever be the same again! Yeah, we know we say that all the time... but it's been true every time we've said it."
    • As both Crisis Crossovers and The Flash were mentioned, combing them leads to Flashpoint.
  • When talking about Comic Books as a medium, no point of no return was as important as the third issue of All-Star Comics, which introduced the Justice Society of America. Not only did it give DC a place to put their less popular heroes for continued adventures without the need for a solo book, but the very notion of a Shared Universe, the superhero team and continuity were rooted in the creation of this team.
  • Batman has had this trope happen twice (or more depending on definitions) in ways that are likely to stay permanently (a rarity for comics), and a bunch of others that might change.
    • The original Robin, Dick Grayson, became Nightwing.
      • Robin #2 was killed then returned, if only long enough for a Face–Heel Turn to The Red Hood.
      • Robin #3, Tim Drake, changed his name to Red Robin.
      • Batman had a son (without his knowledge or consent, apparently) with Talia Al-Ghul. He's a 10-year-old trained assassin and Robin #5. He is killed by his clone/brother trying to save Gotham.
  • This seems to be the motto of the comic book series Daredevil, with every noteworthy writer since Frank Miller trying to outdo the other in terms of who could shake up Matt Murdock's life the most.
    • Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker love changing their characters' status quo. To stick only with Daredevil: During Bendis' run Daredevil was unmasked by press, The Kingpin was killed but got better, Matt got married, became the new Kingpin, was left by his wife and was thrown in jail. When Brubaker was in charge Matt got out of jail, The Kingpin left the country, Matt's wife came back to him and went mad thanks to one of his enemies, Matt had a one-night stand with his friend and left everything to become the leader of Hand. And please, don't ask how it goes in their other titles.
    • Most recently, writer Mark Waid made Matt Murdock publicly admit he was Daredevil, later embrace his alter ego, and subsequently ditch his double identity, fighting crime without a mask, using the same suit as Matt Murdock and Daredevil, and addressing himself as Daredevil.
    • When you're writing for a comic about "The Man Without Fear" writers kinda feel obligated to provide situations where the hero is afraid.
  • Hellboy In Hell
  • The comic book Invincible is sort of like this, though it only goes twelve issues with the initial status quo before the main character's father does a Face–Heel Turn and beats the living crap out of his son, starting the status quo for the rest of the series. Issue 50 looks to shake things up again.
  • Judge Dredd: This is enforced by the 'mega epics', big crisis story arcs that change the status quo. For instance, during "The Apocalypse War" half of Mega City One and all of East Meg One is destroyed, and "Day of Chaos" ends with Mega City One reduced to a virtual ruin. As the comic also avoids Comic-Book Time by taking place in real time, Judge Dredd has aged significantly since the comic's debut and is feeling it.
  • Les Légendaires went through this during the Anathos Cycle: Danael is possessed by a God of Evil, killed and resurrected but no longer part of the team, all the other protagonists have been scarred or crippled to life and get new powers and abilities, they finally got rid of their Hero with Bad Publicity status, their Arch-Enemy has been Killed Off for Real, the couples have fallen apart and a Sixth Ranger has been added.
  • The Green Lantern Bat Family Crossover Lights Out was billed as "the story that will change the Green Lantern universe forever". And given that by the time it's over, we see the destruction of Oa, the Green Lanterns relocating to Mogo, the Blue Lanterns wiped out (save for Saint Walker) and the Red Lanterns given sole jurisdiction over Sector 2814 (including Earth), it's safe to say it lived up to the hype.
  • Lucifer does this at a rate of about every ten issues. The most memorable times include when Lucifer makes his own universe, when God leaves creation and locks it behind Him, when His granddaughter takes His throne; when the Angel of Silence speaks.
  • Marvel is currently doing it all the time — almost everything changes so fast that it's scary.
    • An early example is in the 1960s is when the writers decided that Iron Man's Achilles' Heel of his external pacemaker function continually threatening to run out of power on him and give heart failure was getting old. So, they wrote a story where Stark is Hauled Before a Senate Subcommittee, where the arduous questioning goes so long that Stark collapses with his battery problems. A doctor examines him, discovers his seriously poor state of health and has him rushed to a hospital. After that, Stark finally gets some serious medical care by professionals which leads to a heart transplant to help him. (He still needed the chest plate for a while so his body wouldn't "reject" his new heart, and he's suffered a spate of other health-related problems over the years.)
    • An even more dramatic change was in The Incredible Hulk series during its early years, when the US military had no idea about Banner's Hulk condition, but suspected the scientist and the monster were compatriots. In one pivotal episode, Rick Jones, convinced that Banner was dead, told Col. Glenn Talbot the truth and from then on, Banner was a fugitive from the US authorities who were determined to kill or contain him.
    • The Night Gwen Stacy Died: Gwen Stacy dies. Spider-Man loses his love interest of five years, gains a Shocking Defeat Legacy, and develops the beginning of a romance with MJ. The Green Goblin also dies, which would remain the status quo for over 20 years. It's not for nothing that this story is considered the end of the Silver Age.
    • Despite claims by the comic's marketing to the contrary, mostly averted with the Secret Wars (1984) mini-series. Given that it was competing with Crisis on Infinite Earths (having been released almost simultaneously), Secret Wars (1984) was advertised as being a complete shakeup of the Marvel Universe, and that nothing in Marvel would ever be the same afterward. This was only true in a few instances:
      • Spider-Man acquired his black suit, which would go on to empower the supervillain Venom.
      • She-Hulk joined the Fantastic Four, and stayed with them for some time. She's still considered a close friend of the family.
      • The Hulk had Banner's brain, and had recently been pardoned of all past crimes. Something on Battleworld caused him to slip back into an angry persona, leading to a multi-state mindless rampage with thousands of fatalities. Fallout from that rampage was subtext or text for decades.
      • Most other changes, like the destruction of Ultron and Kang, did not stick.
      • In a couple of places, they even restored status quo that had previously been shaken up, like Dr Doom, who had been dead prior to Secret Wars but mysteriously showed up for the story, leading to the need for a later storyline to explain how he'd come back.
    • The Marvel Now! imprint that started on the heels of Fear Itself and Avengers vs X-Men started to do this too. Most notably:
      • Doc Ock switched bodies with Peter Parker, killed his own body with Peter Parker in it, but not before inheriting all of Peter's memories. He is currently fighting crime under Spider-Man's mantle, as a "Superior" Spider-Man.
      • The original Nick Fury has gone under the radar, being replaced with his son, who resembles Ultimate Nick Fury.
      • Iron Man is a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
      • The Avengers and the X-Men formed a united sub-team nicknamed the Uncanny Avengers.
      • In Avengers vs X-Men Cyclops killed Professor X while under the influence of the Phoenix Force, and is attempting to redeem himself while everyone he knows hates and fears him. Also, the Phoenix Force is now destroyednote , causing untold damage to the universe (some effects are briefly seen in Gillen's Iron Man run; the Celestials are now aware of aliens living off of their lifeblood, and are not amused).
      • The "Age of Ultron" storyline, Ultron returned and is ruling over a dystopian world.
  • In Mélusine, Cancrelune committed suicide out of guilt for endangering her best friend Mélusine. Even after Mélusine went to Hell to rescue her, Cancrelune refuses to leave and remained in Hell, having accepted her fate. This signaled to fans that the Status Quo Is God is no longer in effect and the series will never be the same after this.
  • DC comics is well known for their various cosmic retcons, and absorbing other comic universes into the mainstream, the most notable example is New 52.
  • The New Universe comic Justice did an impressive one of these about halfway through its run. In Issue 15 (cleverly titled Everything You Know Is Wrong) the readers — and the main character — find out that he isn't an Interdimensional holy warrior but in fact a DEA agent who had an entire false life mentally implanted into him by a drug lord. He then becomes a borderline psychotic loner, who still can suffer flashbacks to his fake life if drugged up enough.
  • Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon tends to change its status quo quite often.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • Issue 50, the final issue of the "Endgame" arc, saw Dr. Robotnik be eradicated when his Ultimate Annihilator weapon goes unstable. At the time, this was a major game-changer, with the following issues (including the next 48-page special, aptly named "Brave New World") finding the Freedom Fighters dealing with a world where they finally achieved their ultimate goal and how to bring peace to a land without Robotnik.
    • The aftermath of Dr. Eggman's refusal to let Sonic win during the crossover Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide: the comic's first (and only) complete Continuity Reboot, the multiverse collapsing, and the planet shattering.
  • The ending of Superior Spider-Man changed everything again: Peter Parker regains control of his body, but is left holding the bag of everything Dr. Octopus had left over, including Parker Industries, a doctorate, a girlfriend in the form of Anna-Maria Marconi and a lot of ill will. Thankfully, the superhero community is more forgiving than, say, Mary Jane Watson.
  • Ultimate Marvel started out as Adaptation Distillation, but has moved to having this as a goal to set it apart from the main Marvel Universe. The first big change was the Ultimatum event, but that's not the only one:
    • With the X-Men, everyone considered a mutant leader or potential leader (Professor X, Magneto, Cyclops, Wolverine) died in Ultimatum. Mutancy is now outlawed and people are allowed to shoot on sight, forcing mutants underground. And it's been revealed that the mutant gene was created in a lab, removing any protection they would have gotten as "the next step of evolution".
    • The Fantastic Four also disbanded after Ultimatum, and it's unlikely they'll come back together anytime soon as Reed has undergone a Face–Heel Turn, with Johnny going off to join the Spider-Man cast and then the X-Men instead. Ben "The Thing" Grimm also shed his rocky skin, gaining energy powers instead.
    • Spider-Man was killed in action, and a new character with no direct connection to Peter Parker has taken up the mantle.
    • In the fall of 2012, it looks as though that Captain America will become the President of the United States (a divided and broken up U.S., mind you, but still...).
  • A constant occurrence (some would say problem) with Wonder Woman, who for all her Informed Importance as one of DC's "Big Three" only had one book to her name after the 1940s. Since they don't have any other books to coordinate withnote , pretty much every new Wonder Woman writer feels free to toss out everything the last guy did in favor of a brand-new status quo:
    • The first instance of this was probably the infamous "white suit" period of the late '60s/early '70s in Vol 1. Under new writer Dennis O Neil, Steve Trevor was killed, all of Paradise Island (aka Themyscira) was Put on a Bus and Wonder Woman was depowered into an Emma Peel-like martial artist who no longer bothered with a Secret Identity.
    • The iconic George Pérez run on Vol 2 ended on one of these, with the Crisis Crossover War of the Gods. Killed off several members of Diana's supporting cast, had the Gods of Olympus Put on a Bus, and stripped Themyscira — just beginning to come out of its Hidden Elf Village phase — of all its mystic protections.
    • The first chance he got, Perez's successor Bill Loebsnote  dropped a bridge on all of Themyscira, apparently so he could take the character in a more urban, "small-picture" direction (though at least he let her keep her powers). After a few years, editorial made him bring Themyscira back, explaining it wasn't really destroyed but instead banished to a realm of demons.
    • Loebs' successor John Byrne kicked off his run by moving Diana to the West Coast and having Darkseid invade and kill a third of Themyscira; after that things mostly settled down... until the Olympians came back, Diana got killed by Neron, and the former promptly resurrected the latter as a new Goddess. In the meantime, Diana's mother Queen Hippolyta became the new Wonder Woman — who, due to Time Travel shenanigans, was retconned into being the "original" Wonder Woman. Diana took the name back in the final issue of the run anyways.
    • Byrne's successor Eric Luke didn't do much in the way of big shake-ups, though the last issue of his run had Diana establish Themysciran embassies all around the world.
    • After Luke came Phil Jimenez, a master of Continuity Porn like no other (if you read any of DC's official Wonder Woman reference books, chances are he wrote it). As such, he did his best to cram all his predecessors' work into a single narrative. Unfortunately, the Crisis Crossover Our Worlds at War happened early on in his run, and its plot-mandated Themyscira be destroyed and Hippolyta be killed off; while Jimenez couldn't undo the latter, he had surviving Amazons rebuild the former into a bigger, better Magitek paradise than ever before, open to ambassadors and academics from every nation. Oh, and the monarchy was abolished too, leaving Diana with the epithet of "Once-Princess, Once-Goddess".
    • Wonder Woman: Odyssey shook things up completely by messing with reality and history itself to place a more violent Wonder Woman in a world where she grew up on the streets with the few surviving Amazons after their home island was destroyed.
    • Brian Azzarello pretty much ignored everything that came before for his New 52 revamp and used Olympian gods and monsters almost exclusively as an extended cast for Wonder Woman, who was also revealed to be related to them, Zeus being her father (that whole "shaped from clay" thing was apparently just a lie to hide her from Hera's noted tendency to do horrible things to her husband's bastard offspring). It also turned the Amazons to snakes and Hippolyta to stone, because it wouldn't be a proper Wonder Woman revamp if something horrible didn't happen to Themyscira.
    • The current (as of 2018) state of Wonder Woman has retconned everything away again (though Wonder Woman being the daughter of Zeus was brought back eventually), and Wonder Woman is now mainly hanging out with Steve Trevor, Etta Candy and their various army buddies. She also has recently discovered a twin brother who is occasionally evil. And it turns out that every appearance of Themyscira set after her origin story has been a hallucination, because anyone who leaves Paradise Island is forever banished from it.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animation 
  • Ever since The Angry Birds Movie, the birds have waged war against the pigs, especially with pranks of increasing audacity as seen in The Angry Birds Movie 2. However, the latter film has the birds and the pigs call a permanent truce and coexist peacefully after defeating Zeta and saving their islands.
  • In Frozen II, Elsa decides to stay in the forest with the other spirits, meaning she and Anna are once again separated and no longer live together. But no matter what happens, their bond never breaks and they write to each other and Elsa visits often.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • As an adaptation of the books the Harry Potter films contain many of the same story altering Wham Episodes, and often highlight them in advertising:
    • Cedric Diggory's death and the physical return of Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire marks a distinct dark change in the tone of the story that continues through the following movies. Hermione's line near the end of the film, "Everything's going to change now, isn't it?" lampshades it.
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when the ministry falls during Bill and Fleur's wedding it means Great Britan's wizarding community, including Hogwarts, is now being run by Voldemort and the trio have to go on the run even if they weren't planning on returning to school that year anyway. In the meantime, everyone else is dealing with living in the new Death Eater run Police State.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army ends with Hellboy, Liz, Abe, and Johann permanently resigning from the BPRD and Liz announcing that she's pregnant with twins. This sets up a very different status quo for Hellboy 3, but since the third film has been cancelled, it's safe to assume that the team is done fighting monsters for good.
  • The Jurassic Park films do this quite often.
    • The Lost World: Jurassic Park starts off about four years after the incident on Isla Nublar, with InGen having kept it hush-hush to the point of smearing anyone who speaks out (including Ian Malcolm) and keeping the existence of the dinosaurs on nearby Isla Sorna secret. This comes to a brutal end when a bull Tyrannosaurus rex rampages through San Diego, revealing to the entire world that dinosaurs live again.
    • As Jurassic World opens, the franchise's resident Mega-Corp InGen has been bought out by their rivals in the Masrani Corporation, who have finally managed to open the world's first successful dinosaur theme park. While the other movies took place in deserted islands and unopened park sites, Jurassic World marks the first entry to feature a thriving, fully functional park filled with vulnerable tourists. There's a new setting, and now way more things that can go wrong.
    • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom goes one step further: now dinosaurs have been unleashed on the mainland, including the Tyrannosaurus and Blue, the Velociraptor. They will integrate with and possibly disrupt the Earth's natural ecosystem.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man comes off as a fairly simple action movie for most of its running time, with all of its plot threads tied up perfectly by the end. Then the one-two punch of the ending comes. First, the ultra-persistent Agent Coulson finally catches up with Tony and helpfully provides him with a pre-written statement to explain his odd behavior to the press; when Tony throws that statement away and says "I am Iron Man", we know that Tony's secret identity is out the window for good, and he now has a high-level government agency involved in his life. Then, after the credits, we get to meet Coulson's boss—a certain deep-voiced Black man with an eyepatch, who offers to discuss something called "The Avenger Initiative". For savvy fans of the comics, that scene instantly made it clear that this "simple action movie" was going to be the start of one hell of a Myth Arc.
      • Tony admitting to the press that he is Iron Man was itself a game changer for the MCU: a decade later it was revealed by Kevin Feige to be an ad lib by Robert Downey Jr., replacing the original ending in which Stark follows the comic book storyline with "Iron Man" being passed off as his bodyguard. The success of the film led to them trusting further changes in the source material, such as removing Thor's human persona as Dr. Blake, and encouraging more creative interpretations of canon.
    • By the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier the World Security Council is dead, S.H.I.E.L.D. has become a ghost organization due to massive internal corruption, HYDRA did not die off when the Red Skull vanished and now Nick Fury is using his presumed death to hunt them down, Black Widow's cover has been exposed and she is now seeking a new identity, and Captain America and The Falcon are chasing down The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes to snap him out of his brainwashing.
    • By the end of Captain America: Civil War the only remaining active Avengers are Iron Man and Vision, with most of the rest having been arrested and subsequently broken out by Captain America and now fugitives. War Machine is rendered paralyzed and likely won't be able to walk again without assistance. T'Challa, aka Black Panther, is now secretly giving Captain America and Bucky Barnes sanctuary, with Bucky put in cryogenic stasis until Wakanda's scientists can undo HYDRA's brainwashing.
    • By the end of Thor: Ragnarok, Asgard has been completely destroyed, and Odin has been Killed Off for Real — leaving the Asgardians to roam space in search of a new homeworld, while Thor adjusts to a new life as the King of Asgard. Thor himself is nearly unrecognizable by the end of movie, having lost an eye, along with most of his hair and his beloved hammer Mjolnir, while his brother Loki is (for the foreseeable future) on the side of good after the trauma of seeing his home destroyed. And then, in The Stinger, a large, menacing spaceship, believed to be Thanos's, appears on the Asgardians' front door.
    • Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are meant to serve this role for the entire MCU. Infinity War ended with half of the universe being killed off including exactly half of the twenty-two characters on the movie poster. The events of Infinity War will have a direct impact on the next movie which Kevin Feige has stated will be the tipping point for the entire MCU and that afterward, there will be two distinct periods: everything that happened before Avengers 4 and everything that will happen afterwards.
    • Avengers: Endgame definitely lives up to that statement. The MCU has skipped ahead 5 years. Scott Lang's daughter Cassie is now a teenager. Tony dies from using the Infinity Stones to dust Thanos and his army. Black Widow pulls a Heroic Sacrifice so Clint could obtain the Soul Stone. Vision is still dead (although he may or may not have gotten better later on) . Steve goes back in time to return the Infinity Stones, but decides to go stay in the past and marry Peggy, only returning to the present as an old man to give the shield to Sam Wilson. Thor leaves with the Guardians of the Galaxy, leaving Valkyrie as the new leader of the Asgardians. The Guardians have regained Gamora, but she's from a different timeline and has no memories of the Guardians films. Clint got his family back. Bruce has merged forms and no longer has to fear losing control, can resume work as a brilliant scientist, and has earned the love and respect of the world that once feared him. But everyone closest to him is gone. Everyone else is alive and well, but the original Avengers team is over.
    • Spider-Man: No Way Home completely destroys the status quo for Peter Parker, with his unmasking by Mysterio following the last film being the least dramatic shift. By the end, Aunt May has been murdered by the Green Goblin, and Spider-Man's secret identity is restored at the cost of the entire world forgetting who Peter Parker is, costing him his girlfriend, his best friend, and his Avengers and Stark Industries allies. With Peter choosing not to re-enter his friends' lives for their safety, he is now completely alone, has dropped out of high school, and is struggling to support himself in a world where he effectively doesn't exist. Oh, and The Symbiote now exists in his universe.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) initially set this up, with the dormant Titans having been awakened around the world due to Ghidorah's actions, and Godzilla enforcing a human-Titan coexistence after Ghidorah's death, leading to the Dawn of an Era. But unfortunately, subsequent instalments decided to subvert this and mostly retcon the Dawn of an Era into an Aborted Arc by having Godzilla command all the Titans to return to hibernation; reverting to the old status quo of the Titans generally being in hibernation and humans anxiously awaiting the Titans' return from slumber that the current writers in their wisdom will quite probably never allow to actually come to pass.
    • In Godzilla vs. Kong, Skull Island has been engulfed in an ecosystem-destroying Perpetual Storm due to Camazotz's actions in the prequel graphic novel Kingdom Kong, forcing Monarch to remove Kong from the island, whilst all but one of the natives and everything else on the island perishes. Kong ultimately finds a new home reigning in the Hollow Earth.
  • Psycho kills off the apparent main character and completely changes the plot from a thief on the run to a serial killer at a motel.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: This film marks a major turning point for the franchise, depicting the end of the war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, thus bridging the gap between The Original Series, it's movies and The Next Generation, where there are now Klingon Starfleet officers.
    • Star Trek (2009): For the characters, the events of this film are just another event, but for the fans with the benefit of oversight, it heavily alters Star Trek mythology. Most notably the destruction of Vulcan. The devastated look on the older Spock's face cements that until then, the changes could have simply turned this into a Close-Enough Timeline. Now nothing will ever be the same. Word of God said that Vulcan was destroyed for exactly this reason: to show that things are not the same, and that this is deadly serious.
  • The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy is a big game-changer for the series. In The Force Awakens, Han Solo dies. In The Last Jedi, Luke dies. In The Rise of Skywalker, Leia dies, as does Kylo Ren/Ben Solo, ending the Skywalker bloodline. The name lives on, though, through Rey, who takes "Skywalker" as her family name.
  • Terminator Genisys: The events of all the previous films are overwritten by an assassination attempt on Sarah Connor back when she was 9. Or to be more specific, to John Connor being killed\assimilated while Kyle Reese was time travelling, leading to Skynet using this new Terminator to create a whole new timeline. It's also brought up in-universe when Kyle first meets this version of Sarah.
  • Trail of the Pink Panther seems to do this to Inspector Clouseau (the ending reveals he survived), but that's because all of Clouseau's scenes in the first half are actually deleted scenes from The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Peter Sellers having been dead for almost 2 years when this film was made. The film was intended as the gateway for a new protagonist to enter the series with the next film and wasn't even conceived until after Sellers' death.
  • Transformers Film Series: After three movies of featuring the traditional "Autobots vs. Decepticons" formula, Age of Extinction establishes a new Myth Arc. After the end of the Autobot-Decepticon war, the Autobots are declared enemies of humanity and forced to go on the run. At the same time, the Transformers' Creators want the Transformers back and send the bounty hunter Lockdown to kidnap Optimus Prime. After defeating Lockdown, Optimus leaves Earth to confront the Creators.
  • After all the time-travelling takes place in X-Men: Days of Future Past, the course of history has been altered with only Wolverine and Professor X aware of what went on previously, Jean Grey and Cyclops are both Back from the Dead, Rogue apparently has her powers once more, Mystique has apparently undergone a Heel–Face Turn, and the public became aware of the mutant presence two decades earlier than it did in the original timeline. Also, the events of The Last Stand and Origins have been confirmed to never have transpired in the new timeline, and the events of X-Men and X-Men United occurred differently if they occurred at all.

    Literature 
  • Late in the Animorphs series, Marco is forced to reveal what has been going on to his father so that the two can fake their deaths and go into hiding. At the same time, Visser One is killed, giving Visser Three full control of the invasion and allowing him to use his more direct tactics. A little bit later, the Yeerks find out that the Animorphs are human, a fact that they had spent the entire series trying to keep secret, forcing them and their families into hiding. The seriousness of the kids' new situation is highlighted by the revelation of Jake's last name.
  • The Blood Books, in Blood Pact: Vicki becomes a vampire.
  • Bounders: When Jasper returns from his year in the spacetime rift between The Forgotten Shrine and The Heroes Return, he finds that a lot has changed. The pod has been disbanded. Cole is Earth Force's chief military strategist, Lucy works in PR, and both act almost like different people, showing little interest in rescuing Mira from the Youli or telling the world the truth. Marco and Addy have gone to Gulaga, which has expelled Earth Force, and joined La Résistance. Earth's war with the Youli is no longer secret, and Jasper and Mira have both been made into Earth Force martyrs, their faces on posters all over the planet.
  • The ending of Diamond Sword, Wooden Sword and the Mel'in episodes from the sequels. The Emperor is finally in control, the Rainbow is scattered and in hiding, Seamni is no longer an enemy of humankind but the Emperor's lover, the Dwarves are allies with humans, the empire is in shambles and facing a feudal reaction, and there's no longer anyone to protect Mel'in from the arriving main army of the Goat-legs.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Book 12, Changes. By the end of the book, just about everything in Harry's life has changed. Up to and including the "life" part. As another character put it in the anthology Side Jobs, in a story set shortly afterwards, "The status quo isn't changed, it's gone."
    • Book 17, Battle Ground, arguably goes even further. By the time everything's said and done, Murphy is dead, Harry's been kicked off the White Council and forced into a betrothal with Lara Raith, and while the Masquerade hasn't been outright broken, it has been worn very thin.
  • Harry Potter has several Wham Episodes that effectively change everything.
    • The first, and perhaps the biggest in terms of how the plot of the series changed, was the death of Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. His murder marked the point in the series when the books stopped playing around with being "kids' books" and started getting down to the meat of it. This is also the same book where Voldemort goes from being a decrepit spirit trying to regain a body to fully restoring his physical body with all of his former strength and power. In the restoration ritual, Voldemort overcomes the former magical protection placed on Harry as a baby (when Harry's mother Lily died protecting him) which had prevented Voldemort from touching him up until this point. Lampshaded in the film with Hermione's line at the end, "Everything's going to change now, isn't it?" Said line was prominently featured in one of the trailers.
    • The death of Dumbledore in Half-Blood Prince meant that the only person Voldemort ever feared is gone and that Hogwarts is no longer the safest place in the Wizarding World.
    • The death of Scrimgeour in Deathly Hallows results in a coup d'etat, with Voldemort running the Ministry of Magic. The Power Trio is forced to go on the run throughout the entire book while everyone else must deal with living in a Police State run by the Death Eaters.
  • T. S. Eliot's 1927 poem "The Journey of the Magi" is a reminiscence, many years after the fact, of one of the three magi ("wise men") who travelled westward across Asia in search of the Christ Child at the first Christmas. After finding and visiting the baby Jesus, he returns home to find that his former pagan beliefs no longer satisfy him, and that he suddenly feels spiritually unfulfilled. He never grasped the significance of what he saw, and has become so depressed that, "I should be glad of another death."
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles: In Fire Ascending, after the universal mess that had been created got repaired, so to speak, the universe took one more change. It plays the entire series off as books written within the series.
  • The Last Full Measure depicts the long, downward slide of the Confederacy / the long but inevitable march towards victory for the Union after the Battle of Gettysburg and Grant's appointment as head of the Army of the Potomac. It's a stark contrast to the start of the war in Gods and Generals, where Lee seemed incapable of losing battles.
  • The end of Shadows from Masks of Aygrima has The Secret City destroyed, the remaining Unmasked Army hating Mara except for Keltan who becomes her boyfriend, Ethelda and several others dead, and The Lady of Pain and Fire saving the army.
  • The Scouring and The Cataclysm in An Outcast in Another World fundamentally changed Elatra’s culture and geography. Everyone agrees that it was for the worse.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire seems to delight in flipping its readers' expectations as to who the main protagonist of the series is, at critical moments of every odd-numbered book:
    • In A Game of Thrones, POV character Eddard Stark is beheaded about 90% of the way through this volume after the entirety of this book — up to this point — had been setting him up to be a hero and the primary protagonist.
    • In A Storm of Swords, it's Robb Stark's turn to go. He is another heroic character in this series, a teenaged king who does his best to do the right thing, and is the eldest son of Eddard Stark. After making some unpopular choices and breaking his vow to marry a Frey daughter, he pisses off some important allies but when it looks like he has successfully made amends with his "allies" (the Freys), Robb is betrayed by the Freys and Boltons. The Freys, Boltons, and some Karstarks kill Robb, his mother Catelyn, and their forces in a massacre known as 'the Red Wedding' near the end of this novel.
    • In A Dance with Dragons, POV character Jon Snow, another heroic character and teenaged leader who does his best to do the right thing (and who is also another son of Eddard Stark and a half-brother to Robb Stark), is seemingly stabbed to death in a mutiny by a faction of his own men after a series of unpopular decisions he makes. This faction of Jon's officers are against many of his decisions, including his efforts to save everyone (including the wildlings, who many in the Watch hate) from threats to the realm; his decision to ally with the wildlings so they can defend against the undead together; his efforts to shelter the many, many extra people at the Wall (as his opposers fear resource shortages); and choices he makes which ultimately compromise the Night Watch's political neutrality (aiding Stannis, intending to march against The Dreaded Ramsay Bolton). Jon is seemingly killed without learning the truth of his origins and despite many readers believing he's the "ice" half of the song alluded to in the series' title.
    • Elsewhere in A Dance With Dragons, the "fire" half — Daenerys Targaryen — another heroic POV character who is a young leader like Robb and Jon and is also trying to do the right thing, loses the power base she had spent the entire series building up after making too many unpopular decisions in the eyes of important factions. She narrowly escapes an assassination attempt on her life while her own nephew Aegon, previously having been assumed dead, is revealed to be alive and leading a campaign to retake Westeros, which is what everybody assumed Daenerys would do. If Aegon is who he says he is, his claim to the throne is actually even stronger than Daenerys' ever was, which leaves her fate questionable at best.
    • In the epilogue of A Dance With Dragons, Varys returns after two whole books of absence to murder Kevan Lannister, with the intention of destroying the shaky Lannister-Tyrell alliance and softening up the realm for the above-mentioned Aegon VI, who has made landfall in the Stormlands and is marching on Storm's End. Additionally, after having been foreshadowed since the beginning of the series, winter has finally come to Westeros.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The New Jedi Order series. They killed: Chewbacca, Anakin Solo, Borsk Fey'lya, Admiral Ackbar, The Hapan Queen Mother Teneniel Djo, and Mon Mothma. Oh, and started Jacen Solo on the road to the Dark Side that would later lead to his death.
    • Galaxy of Fear starts off as fairly episodic with a rather set dynamic between the characters, but after the sixth book one character is Put on a Bus and dynamics between the remaining characters change completely. There's also a fresh sense of urgency and insecurity as now the characters have to flee from The Empire, which is there at every turn. It's not as dramatic a change as some, but it certainly impacts the series.
  • The third book of The Traitor Son Cycle ends with the Men and the Wild, who have been fighting and killing each other on sight for the better part of the last few centuries, finally making peace to confront the Big Bad. The opening of the fourth book showcases some of the changes, with Wild creatures and Outwallers openly trading with humans, an irk and a boglin joining the previously all-human Red Company, and the Wild participating in the tourney.
  • There are several throughout The Wheel of Time, but probably the most climactic and sudden is the cleansing of the Source in Book 9. After three thousand years, male Channelers are no longer doomed to insanity and death. Under the circumstances, most people are doubtful at best about this change.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible has both historical and religious examples.
    • Genesis takes this trope to a literal level. Within a seven day period, God transformed nothingness into everything.
  • The Face–Heel Turn of Lucifer and (presumably) third part of angels, leading them to become devil and demons respectively. And then corruption and Face–Heel Turn of Adam and Eve follows (and through them, humanity). The whole world and nature changes. All people go to Hell now.
    • Historically, Babylon destroys Jerusalem and takes the Israelites into captivity, ending the Davidic dynasty of kings.
    • Religiously, Jesus' life and death, which replaces the Mosaic Law with principles such as not eating pig meat, erases God's favoritism towards the Israelites, and changes God's modus operandi from sponsoring a physical country with borders that need defending inhabited by a single race to sponsoring a spiritual nation separated from earthly war and politics populated by anyone who wants to serve God.
    • And then, a few decades later, Jerusalem gets destroyed again, this time by the Romans, and the Diaspora happens.
    • The Second Coming of Christ is prophesied to be this again. The Earth will be destroyed by fire, believers will be taken to Heaven, while unbelievers and Satan will be sentenced to Hell.
  • Norse Mythology has the death of Baldur by Loki, Odin has one of Loki's sons killed in return, and when Loki gets mad about this and insults the Aesir, they capture and bind him. It's at this point when Loki turns from Trickster God to Big Bad and Ragnarok turns from being prophecy to inevitable occurrence.

    Podcasts 
  • The Magnus Archives has done this with every season finale after the first.
    • The Season 2 finale acts as a Cosmic Horror Reveal. The statements taken by the Institute aren't disconnected one-off stories — they're all inspired by fourteen Eldritch Abominations based on humanity's primal fears, which manifest physically in our world in the form of supernatural encounters. And the Institute serves one of these entities. Also, Elias is revealed to be a villain, murdering both Gertrude Robinson and Jurgen Leitner and framing Jon for the latter.
    • The Season 3 finale ends with Tim and Daisy dead, Jon in a coma (and also definitively no longer human), Elias in prison, and Peter Lukas as the new Head of the Institute.
    • The Season 4 finale is the greatest change to status quo yet: one of the apocalypse rituals finally succeeds. Jonah Magnus compels Jon to complete a ritual that brings all the Fears into existence, effectively ending the world.
  • The Penumbra Podcast: After two seasons of solving crimes in Hyperion City, Juno and Rita agree to leave Mars for good and join Buddy Aurinko's Caper Crew in the Season 2 finale — transforming the series from a Fantastic Noir into something more akin to Firefly.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The territories of the Inner Sphere tend to change frequently in BattleTech. Many changes happen over time, such as the formation and destruction of new factions. The Clans underwent the War of Reaving which annihilated several Clans and separating the Home and Sphere Clans. Clan Ghost Bear and Snow Raven have merged with other nations.
  • Dungeons & Dragons settings have periodically undergone this to try to restore interest in a flagging game line or make an in-universe justification for changes from one edition to the next:
    • The Spellplague that marked the transition of the Forgotten Realms from Dungeons & Dragons from 3E to 4E was essentially this. Not everyone took this change well.
    • For the Mystara D&D setting, the Wrath of the Immortals boxed set was this trope. Sinking a game-setting's most powerful empire into the ocean sort of has to be an example.
    • Greyhawk had the Greyhawk Wars in the early 90s, which left a major empire fractured, several nations devastated and some eliminated, and several new threats on the rise across the Flanaess. It generated some interest but ultimately failed to restore interest in the setting, and upset a lot of the die-hards.
    • Planescape's City of Adventure Sigil was an intensely political setting focused around fifteen powerful factions which ruled the city and fought a cold war over the hearts and minds of the citizens, because belief is power and each sought to put its guiding philosophy over the others. Then came the Faction War, where the cold war flared hot. At the end of the war, several factions were destroyed, splintered, or merged; some new factions emerged; and all were formally barred from Sigil. Obviously it garnered mixed reactions. Supposedly the game line was to continue into a new post-War period that explored the new setting at length, but the line faltered there as 3rd Edition was shortly visible on the horizon.
    • Die Vecna Die! was the final published adventure of 2nd Edition, which involved the ancient lich Vecna breaking free of his prison on Ravenloft and eventually making his way into Sigil and somehow ascending to godhood. Dire consequences of Vecna's ascension while in Sigil were proposed in the adventure itself, and it's considered an excuse for the changes between 2nd Edition and 3rd. The adventure even ends nearly quoting this trope: "Nothing will ever be the same again."
  • When a Critical Shift goes down in Feng Shui, if the PCs have no way of reversing this, it is essentially this.
  • The Mending in Magic: The Gathering radically altered the story from that of century-long interplanar plots by godlike beings that primarily took place on the plane of Dominaria to more insular, episodic plots centered around each new plane visited. The in-story change was the fabric of reality altered changing Planeswalkers (the aforementioned godlike beings) to mortal spellcasters who happen to have the ability to travel between planes.
  • Warhammer: The setting ended on an unquestionable victory for the bad guys, the hordes of Chaos running free over the rest of the world, the Warpstone moon exploding and sending mutagenic meteors over the whole planet, the Lizardmen finally seeing the Old One's plan (which they'd been following despite not knowing big chunks of it) had failed and lifting off their cities into space, and some factions eliminated entirely. Along comes Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, featuring the reincarnated souls of most of those lost in the original setting.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Back when the God-Emperor of Mankind was still up and about, the galaxy was a far nicer place, the forces of Chaos were still humans and mutants, and technology was freely available. Now Chaos has its own Super Soldiers, technology that was once common are now irreplaceable treasured relics, and the Emperor needs to burn the souls of a thousand psykers every day just to stay alive and keep the Imperial fleets running.
    • It happens again with the release of The Gathering Storm: Abaddon manages to destroy Cadia, the Eldar manage to bring Ynnead into existence, Roboute Guilliman has returned, the Imperium is cut in half by huge warp rifts, and it's looking like this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE's story went in a relatively steady pace for the initial three years, but after that, every succeeding year trampled over the previously established status quo until there was almost nothing left of the original plot. In "short":
    • 2001: Six Toa arrive on a besieged tropical island to stop the Makuta and awaken Mata Nui.
    • '02: The heroes go through a Mid-Season Upgrade.
    • '03: A former important supporting character becomes the Seventh Toa, the Makuta is seemingly killed. The islanders rebuild themselves to be stronger.
    • '04: Whole Episode Flashback to the ancient city of Metru Nui. Turns out the entire story up to this point was a lie, and there were more Toa and Makuta, and various other organizations, and way more islands.
    • '05: Continuing the Flashback, Metru Nui is in ruins.
    • '06: Metru Nui, in the present, is repopulated. Every character adopts a new life. Six former side characters become Toa. A secret organization is revealed. Makuta returns.
    • '07: The new Toa change permanently and one of them is Killed Off for Real. The original island from '01 is demolished.
    • '08: The island is fully destroyed as Mata Nui awakens, but Makuta takes over his body, thus the villain wins. Tons of characters are killed off. We find out Mata Nui is actually a huge robot and every character is a malfunctioning mechanoid, and as such, the whole story is the result of an unintended glitch.
    • '09: We're introduced to a brand new world, Bara Magna. Mata Nui makes a new body and wins a war for the locals. Meanwhile, the original universe becomes a vile Crapsack World.
    • '10: Makuta is offed, the entire original universe and every place we've seen is destroyed, Mata Nui goes back to stasis, Bara Magna becomes the beautiful Spherus Magna, every mutation done to characters is reversed, and the leader of the original group of Toa is de-evolved into his original stature. Lots of important characters get killed in side stories. Oh, and the Bionicle franchise ends.
    • '11: The untied plot threads are further complicated in official web-serials, and seemingly every new chapter rewrites the story in some way, some spectacularly so. The writer must be aiming to set a record.

    Visual Novels 
  • Daughter for Dessert:
    • The struggling diner becomes profitable after its reopening. The protagonist is more cavalier after this point about giving people jobs or doing things that cost him money.
    • Lampshaded by Amanda on the beach trip. She says she wants to go “back to the way things were,” and the protagonist asks whether she means before or after the trip to Whiskeyville. She clarifies that she means after the trip.
  • After the protagonist of Double Homework is expelled from Dr. Mosely’s summer school program, the focus starts to shift to the weirdness in that program, and Dr. Mosely herself starts to seem more dangerous.

    Web Animation 
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, the story first shifts gears from wacky one-room-two-people-talking format into something slightly more serious with the introduction of Inquisition and season Big Bad Karamazov, and then changes again in episode thirteen as Magnus returns and him and the Emperor forgive each other, adding a now-ex-Daemon Primarch to the cast roster and enabling Kitten to vocalise his opinion of the Emperor more clearly.
  • The beginning of Red vs. Blue Season 6 has the Reds and Blues scattered from their familiar Blood Gulch to a half-dozen different places. While they do regroup, things are never the same — it takes them five seasons to get back to some semblance of Blood Gulch, and in that time, two major characters die permanently, they find out the war is a lie, and kill the Director. There's no way for them to go back to just shooting at one another now, as they jointly recognize toward the end of Season 10.
  • RWBY: at the end of Volume 3, Penny, Pyrrha, and Torchwick are dead, Ozpin is missing and possibly dead, Beacon Academy has been destroyed, the world's communication network has been disabled, Yang is missing an arm and is in a very bad way, Blake has been violently confronted by her psychotic ex and retreated, Weiss has been collected by her abusive father, Ruby is now aware that she possesses an incredible hereditary power which blows her hopes of being a normal girl away, and Team RWBY has been separated. This came as a big shock after the last two volumes both ended with the status quo being restored almost instantly after the final big action scene. Every Volume since has revolved around the heroes trying to recover from those losses in one way or another, to varying degrees of success.
    • Volume 7 ends with another bout of chaos. Ironwood reveals Salem to his kingdom, as the first step in revealing her to the world and hopefully uniting everyone to defeat her... and then discovers that she's immortal and has an agent he didn't know about in the city already, before she subjects him to a Breaking Speech and reveals that she's already got an army approaching. This sets him down a paranoid spiral which results in him turning on the heroes and labeling them fugitives, planning to abandon Remnant by taking Atlas into orbit. The next few hours in universe are comprised of unwarranted infighting and result in Clover being killed by Tyrian, Qrow getting falsely arrested for his murder, Robyn Hill being arrested for being in the wrong place, Penny becoming the Winter Maiden and joining the heroes as they retreat, Winter being in critical condition and breaking ties with her sister, Ironwood shooting Oscar (a 14 year old boy) off a cliff, and the arrival of a giant flying whale and all of Salem's army. And then the creators announced that Volume 8 would take place over the course of two days in universe.
  • Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers:
    • The late 2010s era sees a new change such as an introduction to arcs as well as making a brand new main cast.
    • Happens to Meggy, who had the most character development, whereas at the end of the Anime Arc where she goes from an Inkling to a full-on human, though she still had her Inkling voice, until the Youtube Arc, where she was given a real voice.

    Webcomics 
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl: Chapter 75 Lucy leaves Roseville High.
  • Clockwork: For Cog, a lot changes after Alexander forces him into becoming his assistant. Not only is he forced to move away from the home he's always known, the driving force behind the "deal" is Alexander's threat to reveal the magic powers that Cog unknowingly inherited from his father — a detail that would have him sentenced to death if revealed.
  • The Dragon Doctors: At the end of Chapter 19, all four main character doctors are separated and apparently assassinated; Kili stabbed by her own brainwashed patient with a silver knife, Goro and Aki trapped in a house under a time-acceleration bubble that will turn them to ash in seconds, Sarin shot by a giant disintegrator cannon, and the leader Mori is trapped in a black zone beyond the fourth wall where a demon that preys on ideas starts destroying her past and her viability as a character. Mori's solution is to write a whole new life story for herself, but her skin is still blank, leaving her Albino. She continues to write the other characters out of their predicaments before escaping, but their house is destroyed, Aki and Goro are now twenty years older with a grown daughter, Sarin changes her own appearance permanently, and Aki and Goro are later revealed to have a lot of underlying magical damage causing them to mutate into chimeras.
  • A pretty monumental one happens in Girl Genius Klaus traps Mechanicsburg in a frozen time field right when Agatha Krosp Violetta and Tweedle pass through a portal. The four emerge two and a half years later with Gil as the Baron trying to rebuild the empire Tarvek poisoned and stuck in the time field, Clock Roaches closing in on Klaus and dozens of characters Put on a Bus.
  • Homestuck shakes up the status quo pretty regularly, starting off with four kids dicking around in their apartment, to suddenly turning into an alternating Just Before the End/epic RPG-esque story with the kids entering a video game-esque world. Then Jack kills the Black Queen and takes her prototype ring and runs the game's story completely Off the Rails. Then the internet trolls pestering the kids are revealed to be actual alien trolls from a previous session of the game who created the kids' universe, and it just keeps building from there.
  • While Lackadaisy's plot is anything but cheery, things start taking a darker turn around "Haymaker," where Rocky is hit by a runaway hearse and severely injured. The injury marks a noticeable shift in the mood, with a mildly delirious Rocky revealing that he's not as happy-go-lucky as he seems Beneath the Mask, but several other events occur across the plot, such as Ivy realizing that the bootlegging industry isn't as romantic as she thought, Viktor suffering from the effects of being shot in the chest, and Serafine trying to induct Mordecai into a cult while the Marigold Gang appears to be working towards an as-yet-undetermined goal by cleaning house.
  • The Last Halloween takes place during an Apocalypse event. Monsters invade the human world, likely killing billions in a single night. The apocalypse class could end up as low as 1 or as high as 3b, depending on the actions of a ten-year-old girl, but the story makes it clear that the world can never go back to the way it was before.
  • Nebula: After Ceres attacks the solar system, the planets are left badly wounded (with wounds that don't heal), Mars is convinced that there's no point trying to rely on Sun any longer and that he can't be trusted, and Pluto is disillusioned from everyone but Black Hole, who succeeds in manipulating him to going out into the void and allowing her to possess him and turn him into a Humanoid Abomination like Ceres.
  • The Order of the Stick has had its fair share of world-changing events, but two in particular stand out as having dramatically changed the plot of the series:
    • One at the end of "War and XP", where Roy is dead, Azure City and the rift destroyed and in the hands of Xykon, and the party has been split up: V, Durkon, and Elan are with the citizens of Azure City sailing away, while Belkar, Haley, and Roy's corpse are left in the city.
    • "Blood Runs in the Family" also has Durkon vampirized, and while that in and of itself is shocking, he seems to be fine until the final page of the volume reveals that he's a vampire thrall acting on behalf of Hel to herald the end of the world.
  • In Questionable Content, beginning at strip 500 when Faye tells Marten how her father had committed suicide in front of her.
  • Sarilho: obviously the case in chapter four, as many soldiers have been lost in the previous conflict and the survivors are left mentally and physically scarred, with a war on the horizon.
  • Around late 2011 to early 2012, a succession of unrelated events radically altered several of the major characters of Sinfest, changing the tone of the entire comic as a result. The previously seductive 'Nique gets an Important Haircut and a pair of pants as she turned ultra-feminist to fight 'The Patriarchy'. Li'l E takes a dive in the River Lethe and forgets all the bitterness that made him turn evil (while we simultaneously discover that he's not just a Devil Fanboy — he's the bonafide Antichrist, son of the Devil! The Fundamentalist Strawman Seymor gets shot by the Arrows of Amor, and turns into a Love Freak sort of christian instead (when he isn't busy reading erotic Jesus-fanfiction). Fuschia escapes from Satan's service and gets together with Criminy, with the two of them turning Sickeningly Sweethearts. And the previously one-shot-joke characters known as The Sisterhood of Spooky Shit (a group of tricycle-riding girls fighting misogyny) takes a level in badass and now seem to be directly facing off against Satan himself, and his support of the Patriarchy and sex-industry. Slick — who doesn't get nearly the screentime he used to — attempts to forgo his Casanova Wannabe, pretend-pimp ways in order to win over the changed 'Nique — resulting in the creation of his very own Enemy Within 'Devil Slick'.
  • Sluggy Freelance does this occasionally, but the "bROKEN" arc hit this hard. Hereti Corp finally manages to capture Oasis, Riff and Zoe are trapped in an apparently dystopian world, and Torg is slowly going insane from all of this. Oh, and Torg, Bun Bun, Sam, and Sasha are now working for the Minion Master to lay low, but that's pretty minor compared to everything else that happened.
  • Starslip Crisis when it became Starslip: The main characters starslipped into a universe where starslip drive was outlawed and almost immediately afterward crushed Katarakis' evil plans before they came to fruition (since the "present time" in this universe is two years earlier than the one in the previous universe), causing Vanderbeam to keep/regain his position as captain. The loss of the starslip drive then caused the Terran Consortium to collapse and be repurposed as the "United Star Configuration". The Fuseli is then decommissioned and turned into an orbiting space museum while Vanderbeam and his crew are reassigned to the starship Paradigm, thus making the strip a bit closer to traditional Space Opera. Jovia is still dead, though.
  • John Kossler, author of The Word Weary, states in About section that he tries to avoid Status Quo Is God and make any changes he makes to his characters stick.

    Web Original 
  • Entirely Presenting You: Happens a few times throughout as a consequence of Alexis' actions.
    • Alexis tries her hand at being a superhero, exposing the existence of superhumans to the world.
    • Thomas' death marks a low point for Alexis and her psyche. Benny's attack on the school, exposing even more of Blank Face's identity in all but name, serving to push her even further down.
    • When V decides to leave her old life behind to be the gang leader Wendy.
  • The end of the first book of Magik Online utterly destroys the status quo: Mathias' father is killed by Candlemaker Jack, outing his identity leading to his capture by Concordia. Maggie, Mur, and Sol are empowered by Magik Online, Perse breaks up with Mathias, and Mathias kills Smokefang giving up on living a double life and becoming Shroud full time. He and the newly formed Dragonslayers then have to flee Evermarsh, relocating to the alien world, Midnight Market.
  • In Worm, with its constantly-moving Godzilla Threshold and abundance of Wham Whatevers, this happens at least four different times:
    • First, Leviathan attacks the city, leaving it a wasteland filled with refugees and easy prey to supervillains.
    • Second, when Tattletale jury-rigs an interdimensional portal out of two Cloud Cuckoolander's powers, opening up the possibility of escaping the Crapsack World where humanity is steadily being destroyed.
    • Thirdly, the sequence of events that begins when the supervillain Skitter is attacked by Defiant and Dragon in the middle of a public school, and ends with Alexandria and Director Tagg dead and Skitter becoming a superhero.
    • Fourth, the aftermath of the last Big Bad's rampage. Too many people dead to count, and The Multiverse has to rebuild, with the added challenge of interdimensional relations.

    Web Video 
  • Discussed in Terrible Writing Advice where J.P. suggests to use a mid-series shakeup so you could feel like you've pulled one over on the audience.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: At the end of the season two finale, "True Colors", Anne and the Plantars are teleported to Earth. The third and final season focuses on Anne and the Plantars stuck in Los Angeles, fighting off threats from King Andrias, learning how to control her powers, dodging the U.S. government, and figuring out a way back to Amphibia so that they can stop the king's quest to become an interdimensional conqueror.
  • Archer invoked this from the start of the fifth season; the spy agency ISIS was closed down by the FBI leaving all the main characters working there out of a job but with a ton of cocaine on hand starting off the "Archer Vice" arc based in Miami. Reason for throwing out one of the series' main conceits? Word of God is simply that it was getting boring and simply wanted to do a Miami Vice thing with the characters. However, it's also possible that the well-publicized real life terrorist group ISIS led them to wish to dissociate the show from that name.
  • Daria: The final episode of Season 3, "Jane's Addition", marked a major change in the series. For instance, it introduced Tom Sloan, who would become a major love interest of Jane and then Daria while Daria finally gets over her infatuation with Trent when he lets her down on a school project. Furthermore, it marked the discarding of the series' Reset Button to begin a Story Arc in which all the characters begin to mature while facing situations that would change them forever.
  • The first episode of the Disney version of Doug has the title character find the world he knows has changed — the bully got rich on a real estate deal, his favorite movie character has been Retooled to become Denser and Wackier, his favorite band has broken up, his favorite restaurant has gone up-scale, and his usual barber shop is under new management. Doug decides to change a bit himself (specifically, his haircut).
  • Frisky Dingo tried to do this in almost every episode. Friends and enemies switch sides with blinding speed, Season-spanning quests get cut off anticlimactically, and maybe three-fourths of the main cast get Killed Off for Real.
  • Futurama:
    • Played with in the ending to the fourth movie where the entire cast (and then some) are on the run and flee into a giant wormhole that was said to take them to unknown corners of the universe. However, the revived next season gives things a subtle Hand Wave that puts everything back to status quo. It was said that there was a dispute whether or not to make the change. Obviously, those against it won.
    • The ending to the fourth movie was set up to be a satisfying conclusion to the series of the "and they lived happily ever after in outer space" variety. When they got the green light for a new season (by a different network), the choice to bring them back to Earth (and the established supporting characters) vs. leaving them tootling around in Parts Unknown (and radically changing the tone of the series)... doesn't seem like something anyone should need to think too hard about. Come on, losing Nixon's Head? Mom? Zapp Brannigan? Robot Devil?
  • The Avalon and Gathering storylines in Gargoyles completely rewrote the Gargoyles' situation. Xanatos pulled a Heel–Face Turn, and the Gargoyles returned to their castle. Owen and Puck were revealed to be the same person and Puck was (mostly) depowered. The Phoenix Gate has been banished into the time stream. And there are gargoyle clans everywhere in the world. So many conflicts were resolved that, just to provide more season fodder, the Masquerade had to break.
  • Gravity Falls has a major shake-up in the middle of the second season; with countless hints and questions brought up about Grunkle Stan's true motives throughout the series, and a handful of episodes alluding to the apocalypse, "Not What He Seems" reveals that Stan has led multiple lives everywhere he's gone, and has at one point been assumed dead. Also, it turns out the countdown didn't trigger the apocalypse, but released Stan's brother, the author of the journals, from wherever Stan's portal leads to.
  • This was the running theme of the Post-Script Season of Kim Possible. Picking up from So the Drama with Kim and Ron's Relationship Upgrade, it started with things like Ron joining the school football team, Kim getting a car, and both of them getting jobs, followed by the Tweebs being skipped ahead to high school, Ron getting a baby sister, Kim's mission outfit from the past three seasons being replaced, and Monkey Fist being the first official recurring character to be Killed Off for Real. It all culminates in the Grand Finale "Graduation", where Drakken undergoes a mutation that permanently turns him into a Plant Person, the Possible household, Middleton High, and Bueno Nacho are destroyed, Ron gets full control of his Mystical Monkey Powers, and of course, Kim and Ron graduate from high school.
  • The Legend of Korra's second season ends with Korra now completely cut off from her past lives due to Unalaq temporarily destroying Raava after extracting her from her body. Not only that, after Unalaq is killed and Vaatu is purified, Korra decides to leave the spirit portals open to begin a new spiritual age which hopefully will lead to true peace between humans and spirits.
  • The Lion Guard: In Season 2:
    • Makuu has a Heel–Face Turn in the episode "The Savannah Summit" and then crosses the Heroes' Frontier Step in "Let Sleeping Crocs Lie", in which a new crocodile Kiburi takes his place as the crocodilian villain.
    • Ushari turns evil and allies with Janja to bring back Scar, who becomes the show's new Big Bad as he forms a Legion of Doom to get revenge on the Pride Lands.
  • In Littlest Pet Shop (2012), one of the biggest premises was that Blythe could communicate with animals. Afraid of being considered a freak, or even insane, she kept it as her "Biggest secret". However, a little into the third season, she confessed to her best friend, who in turn recalled odd moments (in her point of view) throughout the series's history which gave her solid proof that Blythe could in speak to and understand animals. And she totally accepts it.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Season 3 finale: Master Fu relinquishes guardianship of the miracle box, naming Ladybug the new guardian.
    • Season 4 finale: Ladybug loses all the miraculouses to Hawkmoth, leaving only her and Cat Noir to fight against him. Oh, and Felix gets the Peacock miraculous.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: For an episodic series aimed at a young audience, this new generation of My Little Pony really isn't afraid of making big changes.
    • By the end of the third season, Rainbow Dash makes some real progress in her dream of joining the Wonderbolts, Trixie and Discord are fixed, and more importantly, Twilight Sparkle has been coronated a princess and made an alicorn to match that status.
    • Also extends into the Season 4 premiere and the following episode: The Mane 6 sacrifice the Elements of Harmony to revive the Tree of Harmony and save Equestria. Also, they begin writing in a group Diary kept by Twilight instead of sending letters.
    • Twilight's Kingdom Part 2:
      • The Mane Six gain Rainbow Power, and with it, new powers to explore. The library is destroyed, but in its place is a new castle effectively making Ponyville into a kingdom and Twilight is dubbed "Princess of Friendship".
      • Discord's character also crossed the Heroes' Frontier Step. He fully accepts the Mane Six are now his friends and can be truly considered reformed now.
    • In the show's five-year anniversary episode, "Crusaders of the Lost Mark", the Cutie Mark Crusaders' long-time antagonist Diamond Tiara gets a Heel–Face Turn, and, after five seasons of fruitlessly trying for them, the Crusaders themselves finally obtain their cutie marks.
    • In the Season 5 finale Starlight Glimmer is not only redeemed, but becomes Twilight's pupil in the study of Friendship, permanently changing the mane cast.
    • Newbie Dash sees Rainbow Dash finally become an official Wonderbolt.
    • To Where and Back Again Part 2: The changelings transform after discovering they can share love instead of absorbing it, Queen Chrysalis disappears after vowing revenge on Starlight, and Thorax takes her place as leader of the changelings.
    • And in the Grand Finale, Twilight is crowned the new ruler of Equestria when Celestia and Luna retire, with Spike as her friendship ambassador. But to do this, she has to leave Ponyville and move back to Canterlot, meaning she can't live with her friends anymore. However, she establishes the "Council of Friendship" so they meet up once a moon so they don't drift apart.
  • Ready Jet Go! outright destroyed the Status Quo Is God trope. In the Season 2 episode Mindy Turns Five, where, you guessed it, Mindy turns five years old and is now allowed to go past Jet's yard by herself. In other words, Mindy is now allowed to go to space with the older kids, changing the show's dynamic forever.
  • ReBoot did it very well. After an episodic first season in which Status Quo Is God, a Wham Episode kicked in, changed everything, gave the new premise some time to settle in, and then did the same thing again.
    • For those interested, the first Wham Episode had Bob expelled from Mainframe and into the Web. Enzo was now left as the new guardian. After a few episodes, Enzo was defeated in one of the games, and in order to avoid being Nullified he had to change his Icon so that the game took him with it instead. And to hammer the point home, a Time Skip came right after.
    • Basically after that episode, there is no Status Quo anymore. Wandering the net only lasts a few episodes before switching to searching the web and then switching to reclaiming Mainframe from Megabyte. Season 4 deceptively tries to reestablish the old Status Quo, but then throws it out the window with Megabyte taking over in the Cliffhanger.
  • Rick and Morty has the episode "Rick Potion No. 9", where after a love-potion experiment gets so horribly wrong, Rick and Morty have to ditch their universe.
    • "The Wedding Squanchers" where long-time recurring character Tammy turns out to be a Galactic Federation deep-cover agent, as she kills Birdperson and almost seizes Rick and his family.
    • "The Ricklantis Mixup" which reveals that the Citadel is not only back to full operation, but also Evil Morty has seized control of it as the President.
    • "Rickmurai Jack" is a doozy regarding this trope. Not only Evil Morty finally reveals himself to our heroes, but he also manages to reveal Morty about the true origins of Mortys, and how Ricks managed to wall off a part of infinity to be the smartest men in the part. To counter this, Rick reveals his backstory (which makes the supposedly-fake backstory in Season 3 premiere to be completely real), as Evil Morty uses his machine to destroy the Citadel and the Central Finite Curve for good, opening the series up to the greater Multiverse.
  • Rugrats:
    • The series has Chuckie experience this after getting a new stepmom in the episode, "Changes For Chuckie".
    • "Acorn Nuts & Diapey Butts" has Angelica telling the babies that the Fall season will bring changes to their lives. This is followed by Chuckie's dad to start dating strange women, Phil and Lil to get new uncomfortable diapers, and Tommy's grandpa to move to a retirement community. The only change that really stays by the end of the episode is that while Grandpa Lou still moves out, he is now engaged (giving Tommy and Dil a new grandmother) and Tommy admits that he is happy with that change.
  • Season 4 of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power disrupted the status quo of the show in massive ways.
    • The Horde destroys the kingdom of Salinas, leaving Mermista devastated.
    • King Micah is alive and back in Bright Moon.
    • The Horde is in shambles after a major Rebellion victory, several major Horde characters have defected, and swaths of the Fright Zone have been destroyed in the fight between Hordak and Catra. Both Hordak and Catra have lost everything.
    • Adora learns that her ancestors, the First Ones, were genocidal conquerors who wanted to use Etheria as a weapon. She breaks her sword.
    • Light Hope is destroyed.
    • Scorpia connects with the Black Garnet and gains lightning powers.
    • By helping Scorpia to connect with the Black Garnet, Glimmer unwittingly activates the Heart of Etheria, pulling Etheria out of Despondos and drawing the attention of Horde Prime.
    • Horde Prime, the sociopathic leader of a massive space empire, has appeared on the scene and is determined to use Etheria as a weapon for his conquests. Glimmer, Catra, and Hordak have been taken captive on board his ship.
    • The climactic scene in "Destiny, Part 2" strongly implies that Hordak is a rogue drone, and that the "flaw" that offended Horde Prime was actually his free will. Horde Prime mind-wipes him as punishment for exercising autonomy. His body is alive, but "Hordak" has left the building.
    • The game has now changed; the Rebellion has gone from liberating Etheria to saving the universe from Horde Prime.
  • South Park:
    • Invoked in the episodes "You're Getting Old" and "Ass Burgers", in which Stan starts seeing and hearing everything as shit, and from there it spirals out — Randy starts a career as "Steamy Ray Vaughn", Sharon divorces him and moves downtown with her kids, Stan no longer has any friends, Cartman and Kyle become friends, Cartman creates a food franchise, and the President of the United States is a duck. All of which were undone in the end... just as Stan was starting to look forward to what the new status quo had to offer.
    • Season 4 plays with this with the much-touted "4th Grade", with the kids looking forward to big changes... only for the second episode (the Trapper Keeper one) to plunk them into the same kind of adventures no different from when they are in the 3rd grade.
      Stan: ...What the hell just happened?
      Kyle: Damn, I thought 4th grade was gonna be different!
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • The Season 2 finale, "Starcrushed", has Toffee make his move on Mewni after a season of hiding behind the scenes, forcing Star to leave Earth. Even after the problem is dealt with in the "Battle for Mewni" series of episodes, Mewni becomes the primary setting of the show, with Earth and its supporting cast rarely making an appearance afterwards.
    • Season 3 further upends the status quo by revealing that Star's family are illegitimate and stole the throne from Eclipsa, making her a false princess. By the end of the season and the start of the next, Star gives the throne and her wand back to Eclipsa, while the Butterfly kingdom has been completely destroyed by Meteora, displacing numerous Mewmans.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Season 5 finale, "The Wrong Jedi", ends with Ahsoka Tano leaving the Jedi Order. Of course, given that this takes place before Revenge of the Sith, something had to have happened to her.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • At the end of "Twilight of the Apprentice", Kanan is blind, Ahsoka is gone, all of the Inquisitors are dead, Maul is on the loose and Ezra has opened the Sith holocron, meaning he's at risk of falling to The Dark Side.
    • "Zero Hour": The rebels have lost Atollon as a base, and have suffered other heavy losses, Commander Sato and Admiral Konstantine are dead because Sato rammed Phoenix Home into Konstantine's Interdictor, Kallus' cover was blown and he's officially joined the rebels, the Bendu unleashed his wrath upon rebels and Imperials alike, and the surviving rebels are on their way to Yavin IV.
  • Steven Universe: "A Single Pale Rose" was a Wham Episode that featured one of the biggest reveals in the series: Rose Quartz is Pink Diamond, who faked her death in the hopes that it would get the other Diamonds to leave the Earth alone. Steven isn't half-Quartz, but instead half-Diamond as a result.
  • Superjail!: The third season ends with the Warden burning down Superjail and Alice and Lord Stingray escaping to Ultraprison.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) kept altering its status quo in Season 2, but many of these things were cosmetic changes. However, for the Season Finale, everything changed with The Invasion. After Shredder decides to do a Villain Team-Up with the Kraang again, they make their move, beginning the Kraang's second invasion of New York, only this time, more effectively. April's other friend Irma turned out to be a Kraang spy, and with his help, the Kraang trash the lair and destroy the shellraiser. Scattering and disorganized, the turtles and their allies try to fight the invasion as best they can, but disaster slowly creeps in on them. Leonardo fights the entire foot clan on his own, but is critically injured by Shredder. In turn, Kraang Prime turns Mr. O'Neil into an even more hideous Kraang mutant, and the turtles are forced to abandon April's apartment. Then in combat, Shredder manages to disable both Splinter and Leatherhead, with the turtles horrifyingly watching the latter get thrown deeper into the sewers. The turtles try a heroic Last Stand against Kraang Prime, but even with their new Humongous Mecha, they're no match, and are forced to flee New York after easily their worst defeat up to this point this incarnation. The status quo in Season 3 lasts a while at April's farm, however, after the turtles go off on a spirit quest, they all find the internal strength to return to New York to defeat Shredder and Kraang once again. Though significantly, they're forced to move into an abandoned pizza shop as a new home base since the lair is still occupied by the Kraang. They eventually move back home, but things only get worse when the Triceratons show up...
    • Over the course of the last few episodes of Season 4, Shredder gets mutated into Super Shredder and kills Splinter, the Turtles de-mutate Stockman and kill Rahzer, and finally Leo kills Shredder once and for all. The opening arc of Season 5 makes it clear that all of this is going to stick, and follows it up by having Tiger Claw, now leading the Foot Clan, declare a truce with the Turtles. As well, Don Vizioso, Bebop, Rocksteady, and Fishface all decide Screw This, I'm Out of Here!.
  • Teen Titans Go!: In the crossover film with the original Titans, Raven's forehead gem that contains her demon cracks. After both universes' Trigons absorb its power with the goal of dominating the multiverse, she absorbs the power of dozens of alternate universe Ravens to reclaim it from them. Once reabsorbing it, she speaks with it in her mind, apologizing for how she's spent her entire life fearing it and keeping it imprisoned. They agree to share her powers equally, permanently merging, and from then on the gem is absent from her head.
  • Total Drama:
    • Season 3 of the series shakes up the basic formula a bit by having the contestants sing musical numbers in each episode and ends with an Evil Versus Evil finale. Season 4 goes a step further by replacing the entire cast with new characters. All of these twists have been surprisingly well-received.
    • Season 4 has also become notorious for breaking the tradition of the Final 2 being different genders. This, combined with the third season finale has led fans to the conclusion that literally anyone can win now.
  • Transformers:
    • Proving that barriers were meant to be broken, Beast Wars did this on weekdays afternoons while advertising toys. At the start of each season, natch. Season 2 shook things up a little by introducing the Transmetals, altering the planet, etc.; Season 3 shook things up a lot by destroying the Axalon and forcing the Maximals to move into the Ark, putting them on the defensive until the series finale.
    • The third series of Transformers: Animated is seen as being very different than its predecessors, starting with Sari being revealed to be a robot and going from there. Its tone is also much darker than the earlier seasons — onscreen death starts up, for example.
    • Transformers: The Movie divides The Transformers into what could be easily mistaken for two entirely different series (and indeed was released as such in Japan, with Season 3 branded "Transformers: 2010").
    • Transformers: Prime:
      • The show goes for broke in the second season finale in ways that haven't been done since the movie. Megatron has declared war not only on the Autobots but also Earth, parking a giant fortress on the ground, the team has been scattered and shot down and the base has been destroyed with Optimus inside.
      • The third season continues to ramp this up. First, Bumblebee gets a new paint job, Ultra Magnus joins Team Prime, Shockwave returns and brings with him the wrath of the Predacons, and oh yeah, Optimus gets revived into a new body with a frickin jet pack! The only thing that returns to status quo is that the Decepticons' new base is destroyed.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • The third season ended with Brock quitting the OSI and leaving the Ventures, all the Hank and Dean clones dead (rendering the main characters killable) and 24 dying.
    • The end of the first season was a pretty big change, too: The boys died. They came back in the second season, of course, but it confirmed that the boys were clones, which was only hinted at before.
  • The first two seasons of X-Men: Evolution had a sort of Masquerade thing going on where the mutants are hiding their existence from the world. At the end of Season 2, a Sentinel is let loose on the city and the mutants have no choice but to fight it, revealing themselves to the world. The characters try to continue their normal lives and remain in high school, but things have changed. As with the comic book source material, they have to deal with discrimination and they lose many of their non-mutant companions.
  • Young Justice (2010): The first episode of the second season does this thanks to a Time Skip. The changes that occurred over the previous five years are only gradually revealed over the course of the entire season. The final episode, with Darkseid revealing himself, appears to set up another case of this... but Season 3 never happens. Then this happened.
    • Season 3 takes place 2 years after the second season finale, and the first episode reveals that Metahuman teenagers are being trafficked not just on Earth but in space through Apokolips, with one, a 14-year-old girl mutated into Plasmus, accidentally killed by Black Lightning when he tried to stun her. Wonder Woman leads a faction of the Justice League to fight off Apokolips forces and clear the League's reputation from when Savage made them attack Rimbor during the Season 1 finale, while Kaldur, now Aquaman, leads the Earth faction. The restrictions on the League caused by the United Nations under Secretary-General Lex Luthor has caused Batman and like-minded members of the League and the Team to leave and form their own vigilante organization.

 
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Kang's New Timeline

Season 1 ends with the Sacred Timeline being completely undone following the death of He Who Remains, allowing his evil Variants to once again terrorize the Multiverse. Then Loki discovers that the Time Variance Authority itself has been taken over by Kang the Conquerer.

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