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Simultaneous Arcs

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Let us say you have several different characters and each one has their own separate journey for at least a portion of the story. These characters may or may not meet up with one another later on, but for now they are all on their own and their journeys, while they may be related, are independent of one another at least for the time being. There are two ways of handling this: One way would be to tell every single event in chronological order, frequently cutting from one character to the next, and then to the next as each event plays out. This first method would be known as Two Lines, No Waiting. For obvious reasons, stories told in Real Time would have to do it this way.

For stories that are not told in Real Time, however, there is another option. That option is known as Simultaneous Arcs.

Let's say you have two different characters: Alice and Bob, and these characters are separated from one another and are doing their own thing for a while, but each one is doing it at exactly the same time as the other one. It would work something like this:

  • Chapter 1 takes place between 1:00pm and 2:00pm and includes everything that happens to Alice during that time period without regard to what Bob is going through.
  • Chapter 2 also takes place between 1:00pm and 2:00pm, except it is told from Bob's point of view and has absolutely nothing to do with Alice.

This process would be repeated until Alice and Bob meet up. By its nature tends to be A Day in the Limelight, because it tends to whittle down the cast to the essentials. It may also function as Once More, with Clarity as we may only see the other character at the tale end of their adventure, with the following story giving more information about what they were up to.

This differs from Rotating Arcs because Rotating Arcs is a method of dealing with large casts and the arcs occurring in Rotating Arcs don't have to occur at the same time.

This is similar to Anachronic Order, except the events in each arc of Simultaneous Arcs are probably told in the order that they occur from the point of view of the character and it is the arcs themselves that are not in chronological order.

This can sometimes result in a Mind Screw, but it usually won't.

Compare Hyperlink Story and Flashback B-Plot. Can be related to "Rashomon"-Style. P.O.V. Sequel is when they decide to do this after making the original arc. If the events of both stories are influenced by each other (i.e., one story is missing context that the other provides), then you have Synchronous Episodes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Hueco Mundo and Fake Karakura arcs for Bleach. One is a Rescue Arc, the other is a Big Badass Battle Sequence.
  • Boogiepop Phantom is a possible example. In general, the whole anime is a complete Mind Screw and it's extremely difficult to determine when exactly certain events took place or even to get a decent grasp on what is actually going on. There are several events that are shown multiple times, however, and each time it is shown, it is from a different perspective.
  • Episode 0 and Episode 1 of the TV series Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] take place at roughly the same time, from the points of view of Rin Tohsaka and Shirou Emiya.
    • The final volume of the spinoff light novel Lord El-Melloi II Case Files also takes place at this time, albeit it's happening in London instead of Japan. This is noted by the characters in Case Files when they realize that Saber has been summoned in Japan because her manifesting in the present gives her descendant/semi-clone Gray a power boost.
  • In Monogatari Series: Second Season, the first arc Nekomonogatari (Shiro) and the fourth arc Onimonogatari occur simultaneously.
    • Owarimonogatari's third story, "Shinobu Mail", is the direct sequel to Onimonogatari, but still falls within the same timeframe as Nekomonogatari (Shiro).
  • Chapters 149-151, 154-156, and 161 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War all take place at roughly the same time on Christmas Eve, each of which follows a different set of characters (Kaguya and Shirogane for the first, Ishigami, Miko and Tsubame for the second, and Maki for the third).
  • The fourth and fifth episodes of K-On!'s second season respectively focus on the third year students going on a class trip and the rest of the group staying at home during a rainy day, with events crossing over slightly when Yui sends Ui pictures during the trip with her cellphone.
  • On at least two occasions, One Piece has switched between this and Two Lines, No Waiting, depending on the exact point in the story. When the Straw Hat Pirates get separated, we see Luffy's story reach its conclusion, then the other eight Straw Hats, each with his or her own small arc, rapidly switching between each other. It happens again in the Dressrosa arc, only the reader (or viewer) gets introduced to each of the five separate stories taking place, where it then proceeds to tell each simultaneous story until the necessary plot points come up before backing up and moving to another one where that information is necessary.
  • In Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold there will apparently be several pairs of Gold Saints: Aiolia and Mu, Dohko and Aldebaran are already established.
  • The first two episodes of Speed Grapher occur at roughly the same time. Episode One is told from the point of view of Saiga, while the second being from the point of view of Kagura, and both have roughly the same climax. The rest of the series is mostly told in Chronological order, with the exception of a few flashback episodes here and there.
  • My Hero Academia: The Meta Liberation Army Arc takes place at the same time the Pro-Hero and Joint-Training Arcs were taking place, as well as providing some context for the former. After the end of the Joint-Training Arc, the story rewound by a month to show what the League Of Villains (who, aside from Dabi, hadn't appeared directly since the Internship Arc) had been doing in that time, and setting up the War Arc that followed.

    Comic Books 
  • Sin City's characters often run into each other in the middle of their respective stories at Kadie's Bar.
  • Invincible has the Sequid arc (starring Invincible, the Immortal, Atom Eve, Robot, and Bulletproof) simultaneously occurring with the Lizard League arc (starring Rex Splode, Dupli Kate, and Shrinking Ray).
  • Uncanny X-Men had a example of this trope in #274 and #275 with the Savage Land arc with Magneto and Rogue and the whole Shi'ar arc with the current team roster at the time trying to fight Skrulls. To be fair, this is during Claremont's 1st run which fits with his style.
  • Some of the first few issues of the The Incredible Hulk that featured the Hulk's merged personality (a taller green Hulk with Bruce Banner's mind, aka "The Professor") involved this: After the the issue which features Banner's personalities merging, the following one focused on what Rick Jones was doing (which in turn formed the framing sequence for a Flashback story with the Grey Hulk that made up the bulk of the issue). Then the next issue switched things back to the Hulk, and ended with him getting abducted by an organization titled the Pantheon. Then the next issue after that focused on Doc Samson getting sidetracked when he visited an assassin he once knew that was currently on death row, with the next two issues then going back and showing what the Hulk was doing with the Pantheon.
  • The 1997 annuals for The Batman Adventures and The Superman Adventures featured different stories that took place at the same time, involving both Batman and Superman protecting a pair of mystical amulets from different threats. Even the flashbacks in both issues overlapped, showing that Bruce and Clark happened to both be studying under the magician Zatara during the same period.
  • Issue 4 of Vision's 2015 series briefly shows Vision talking with his wife while he is fighting Giganto with the adult members of the All-New All-Differant Avengers. At the same time, the teen members are underground searching for Mole Monster in issues 3 and 4 of Nova's 2015 series.
  • On occasion an issue or pair of issues of Robin will follow Tim and Stephanie doing their own separate things at the same time, though usually their stories will converge in the end on at least two occasions they remained unaware of what the other was up to.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW):
    • Issues 21-23 (during the Last Minute Arc) all take place at the same time — #21 from Tails' perspective after Amy called him (while trying to create a cure for the Metal Virus), #22 showing what happened on Amy's end after she made the call (before the fall of Restoration HQ) and #23 showing what Sonic was doing as events happened in the former two issues (facing Eggman as he slowly loses control of the Zombots).
    • Issues 26-28 (during the All or Nothing Arc) has Sonic's friends travel to separate parts of the world to take 5 of the Chaos Emeralds back from five of the Deadly Six at the same time. Justified as they had to prevent them from warning each other. Near the end of #28, everyone makes it back with all 5 of the Emeralds. Well, almost everyone... note 
    • Issues 45-49 (the Trial By Fire Arc, as well as standalone episodes Hit the Pavement and Wound Up) occur parallel to the Imposter Syndrome miniseries before both subplots merge in Issue #50.

  • As you expect, taking in consideration the source, Paper Mario X 2 and Paper Luigi X take place at the same time. Team Mario and Team Luigi even meet each other at various points (not to mention Team Luigi meeting with Team BEG at one point). Team Luigi even gives support to Team Mario in the climax of Paper Mario X 2.
  • Turnabout Storm's third part is divided in two episodes: One shows the second day of investigation from Phoenix's eyes, and the other one from Twilight's. Both episodes cross twice, showing the same events from a different point of view.
  • Twilight Sparkle, Ace Attorney: Turnabout Smiles also has the second day of investigation seen through two ponies' eyes, in this case being Twilight Sparkle and Star Cestus. Cestus's investigation sequences are similar to the gameplay of Ace Attorney Investigations, complete with logic and rebuttals.
  • Post Nuptials, first story in The Nuptialverse: Except for the first, second-to-last, and last chapters, every chapter happens at roughly the same time (this allows us to get a sneak peek of Spike's chapter in Pinkie's).
    • Families follows three major, mostly separate story arcs focusing on the familial relationships of three groups of characters: Twilight and Spike's mother-son relationship; Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo's sisterly relationship, plus Scootaloo's relationship with her abusive parents; and Pinkie Pie's relationship with her estranged family.
    • Directions takes place at the same time as Through the Mirror. In the latter, Twilight and Spike chase Sunset through the mirror in the Nuptialverse version of Equestria Girls, while in the former the rest of the Mane 6 must learn how to work as a team and protect Equestria without Twilight's help.
  • The RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse stories Family Matters and Helping…Hands? occur around the same time, or at least share a scene where Dinky asks Trixie for help while she has problems of her own.
  • Horseshoes and Hand Grenades has at least three different stories trying to make sense as to what's going on and they all make references to one another. Most notably, while the majority of Horseshoes takes place in Kyoto, we have three different sets of protagonists doing different things. Month of Sundays has many minor Amanogawa High characters getting involved with Foundation X. SplitxEnd has Yayoi researching what caused Horseshoes to go crazy and subsequently meeting up with Haruto Souma, and Wheel of Fortune is based around Mei's struggles by interpreting fate of different characters and uncovering the story behind Yamada Tatsumori.
  • The Dashverse: Hot Heads, Cold Hearts, and Nerves of Steel briefly follows two different Story Arcs occurring at the same time — the Mane Six, Shining Armor, and Cadence on their way to the Crystal Empire to save the foals kidnapped by King Sombra, and Pipsqueak, Alula, and Dinky Doo (later joined by Zecora) in the tunnels underneath Equestria and the Empire. The two groups eventually meet up just before the climax.
  • Justice League of Equestria: The Princess of Themyscira and In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night take place at the same time as the second half of Mare of Steel.
  • MLP Next Generation: Love Conquers All! Avarice Takes It All! is split along two plotlines running alongside each other — Anthea learning to use the Star Sapphire ring while she and Twilight investigate griffon incursions into minotaur territory, and Nidra dealing with the temptations of the Orange ring that's chosen her as its bearer.
  • Derpy's Day takes place during chapter 2 of LEGO Equestria Girls and focuses on the misadventures of Ensemble Dark Horse Derpy as her head is detached from her body and she attempts to run all over town in order to bring it back. It also expands on a few things that were only mentioned in the main story, such as what Rocky and Mugsy were doing while they had Princess Twilight's crown. It also introduces the concept of "creative marks" to show that this is not just any Lego World: this particular Lego World really is an alternate world to Equestria.
  • letmetellyouaboutmyfeels' MCU Rewrites: New Avengers, Black Widow, and Captain America: Ghosts of HYDRA all take place at around the same time. The New Avengers (consisting of Sam Wilson/Falcon, James "Rhodey" Rhodes/War Machine, Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Vision) go up against Sinthea Shmidt/Sin and Viper/Madame Hydra as the two fight for control of the HYDRA organization. Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow is on trial during these events for her past as an assassin from the Red Room which was revealed to the world after she leaked HYDRA and SHIELD to the public in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Clint Barton/Hawkeye is testifying at Natasha's trial. Steve Rogers/Captain America has gone on a mission to help his friend, James "Bucky" Barnes/The Winter Soldier and free him from HYDRA's control and as a result the New Avengers do not have him to lead them and he does not have anyone helping him until Maria Hill sends Sharon Carter/Agent 13 to assist Steve.
  • The Prayer Warriors:
    • The Titans Strike Back and Attack of the Sphinx both take place immediately after The Evil Gods Part II, and focus on separate groups of characters.
    • Two partial examples happen earlier on. Battle With the Witches begins midway through The Evil Gods, while The Evil Gods Part II begins midway through Threat of Satanic Commonism.
  • Start Again: The events of Collateral (Makoto, Haru, Goro, Futaba, Yusuke, Hifumi, Wakaba) takes place at the same time as Valor and Discretion (Ryuji, Ann, Shiho, Yuuki), explaining where Makoto, Haru and the others were while Ryuji and his team were dealing with the conspiracy and their principle's Palace.
  • Consequences is a My Little Pony: Equestria Girls fanfic that takes place at the same time as My Little Pony: The Movie (2017). While Twilight and the rest of the Mane Six are being chased by Tempest Shadow, Sunset and her friends are hunted down by Tempest's human counterpart.

    Films — Animated 
  • Each of the characters' stories in Hoodwinked!. Red and the Wolf appear to have the most journey overlap. For instance, both of them go through the exact same section of the coal mine, which is one time where they are technically both on screen at the same time but they never see each other (though a Freeze-Frame Bonus will show the Wolf and Twitchy in the front POV shot from Red's cart going down the drop, and Red's cart dropping in the background when the Wolf and Twitchy are traveling along the mountainside).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One particular scene in Looper has Young Joe failing to kill his older self then returning to his apartment to find Gat Men looking for him. He hears a gunshot then traps Boy Blue in his silver vault. Then after a shoot out he ends up falling from the fire escape where he blacks out The scene then flashed to Young Joe actually succeeding in killing his older self, then to a short montage that flashes through 30 years until where Old Joe returns to his past at the point where he escapes in the exact scene that Young Joe fails to kill him. The scene is shot from a different point of view and focuses on Old Joe. Old Joe finds his younger self at his apartment and kills one of The Gat Men (this is the gunshot Young Joe heard) after young Joe falls from the fire escape Old Joe drags him to safety.
  • Saw: The events of Saw III and Saw IV are revealed at the end of the latter to have been occurring simultaneously.
  • The plots of the four main characters in are told this way, with onscreen captions telling us what time and day it is so the audience can keep track.
  • Go employs four simultaneous storylines: one with a group of club kids, one with a drug dealer enjoying a weekend in Las Vegas, one with a pair of soap opera actors, and one with a narcotics officer. Some stories start earlier, and others finish later, but they overlap and intersect in several places.
  • The money drop scene in Jackie Brown.
    • Likewise, the scenes at the diner that bookend Pulp Fiction.
  • During the racetrack robbery in The Killing the perspective of the characters involved in setting up the robbery are shown.
  • This is the main concept of the 2000 drama Timecode. The film (presented as four separate unbroken takes in a single screen) follows several different people, including an actress, her lesbian lover, a casting director and his wife as they go about various activities over the course of the day, and occasionally intersect with one or more of the other arcs.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The events of Thor, Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk take place during the same week. The tie-in comic Fury's Big Week also takes place at this time.
    • Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp take place at roughly the same time, which gets used to make a Sudden Downer Ending when the Pym family get disintegrated in The Stinger.
    • Black Widow takes place between two scenes in Captain America: Civil War, after Natasha's final scene and before Steve breaks out his team from the Raft. It also establishes that the gap between the two Civil War scenes is at least two weeks, meaning that Black Panther (set one week after an assassination at the beginning of Civil War) also takes place during that span and may overlap with Black Widow.
    • The events of Spider-Man: No Way Home wrap up right around the time Hawkeye begins, as both installments take place during the 2024 Christmas holidays. In the final scene of No Way Home, Peter can be seen swinging past the Rockefeller Tree, which is eventually knocked down by Clint and Kate during Hawkeye's finale.

  • Stephen King's The Stand is mostly told in chronological order and most of the chapters are relatively short. However, in the first half of Book Two, after the Superflu has wiped out 99% of the population, each one of the main characters or group of characters gets their own large chapter all to themselves, detailing their own journey as they cross the United States.
  • The Piers Anthony Incarnations of Immortality books use this trope. The most complete version of this trope is in the sixth book, For Love of Evil, which shows Satan's view on the events of all the preceding books.
  • The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers portion of the novel is divided up into two segments (as the other two are), the second one detailing the journey of Frodo, Sam, and Gollum to Mordor, and the first segment is about Aragorn and everyone else in the book. The Return of the King does the same thing as well, though not to the extent of The Two Towers. The movie adaptation does away with this and instead uses Two Lines, No Waiting.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire - Many chapters occur at the same time as other chapters, and the first 800 pages of A Dance With Dragons takes place during the same time period as A Feast for Crows.
  • In Jean Auel's Valley of the Horses, the chapters alternatively tell the story of, on one hand, Ayla, and on the other, Jondalar and his brother Thonolan as they travel across Europe. Only near the end do they merge as the brothers reach said valley.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events Book the Twelfth. The Penultimate Peril has simultaneous arcs with each of the three siblings, which is especially confusing when they each meet one of the twins at exactly the same time.
  • In Treasure Island, while Jim Hawkins is on the island witnessing Silver's murder of one of the last loyal crewmen, and then meeting Ben Gunn, three chapters are narrated by Doctor Livesey detailing the departure of the officers from the Hispaniola, the setting of camp in the old stockade, and the death of Tom Redruth. Just as Captain Smollett is setting down to write his log, Hawkins returns and resumes the narrative for the remainder of the book.
  • Forgotten Realms novels of Double Diamond Triangle Saga are even supposed to be read in different order to look at the plots in different ways. Which probably could add a lot given Gambit Pileup side of the setting — if writing of the books was not absurdly hasted by the publisher, that is.
  • The majority of Elantris is set up this way. One chapter follows Raoden, the next shows what Sarene is doing during the same time period, then Hrathen gets a chapter. Then cycle back to Raoden and continue onward with the story. It's not a hundred percent overlap, and the structure breaks down toward the end, but the idea is there.
  • The Relativity series:
    • Two of the stories, "Highway Robbery" and "A Strange Twist", occur over the same several days but follow different sets of characters. There is some occasional overlap (such as Sara in "A Strange Twist" nearly getting struck by the speeding cars in the reverse police chase that occurs in "Highway Robbery"), and a plot element that occurs in one story (Ravenswood's wallet getting stolen) is wrapped up in the other one.
    • There was also the story "Father's Day", which followed three sets of characters over a single day, but there wasn't any overlap between any of them.
    • After book 6, there are two major plot threads followed simultaneously. Their chronicles are named "Book 7" and "Book 7½".
  • The first three Age of Fire books take place all within roughly the same time period. The first few chapters of each is the same events (from the hatching up until the raid on the egg cave) told from the different points of view of the three main protagonists; after that, they split into their own stories, with each subtly influencing the others.
  • During the ninth Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note novel The Backyard Knows, Uesugi leaves for Switzerland to treat his deteriorating eyesight, and come back during the tenth novel, The First Love Knows. The eleventh novel The Angel Knows is about what happened to Uesugi during his time there; and the author actually notes this novel is chronologically simultaneous to the ninth and tenth novels.
  • The first two Torin novels, The Luck of Brin's Five and The Nearest Fire, tell the story of First Contact between the inhabitants of Torin and a survey team from Earth, from the first inadvertent meeting to the point where the visitors are accepted by society at large. The two novels have different narrators and involve different characters in separate locations, but overlap in time; the second novel begins with an event that's mentioned in passing about halfway through the first, and the end of the first happens about halfway through the second.
  • The four "prequel" Super Editions of Warrior Cats feature roughly the same timeframe from four different points of view. There are several direct scenes that the books share, sometimes featuring the characters talking to (or at least noticing) one of the others.
  • The Wheel of Time: Crossroads of Twilight revisits the time of the previous book's climax from the perspective of all the other major (and not-so-major) characters, who are spread out across the continent at the time. Unfortunately, while said climax saw The Chosen One win a huge victory over the Big Bad, other characters are doing stuff like... taking a long bath while jockeying for political power in a Succession Crisis.
  • Blackout does this for most of the book, alternating POV between Shaun and Georgia II. Even after the two cross paths, the alternating narration continues, as it does in followup novella "Coming to You Live".
  • Star Wars: The High Republic: The first three novels, Light of the Jedi, A Test of Courage, and Into the Dark, as well as the first arc of both the High Republic and High Republic Adventures comic books, all take place roughly concurrently; all five begin with or shortly after the Great Disaster that set the plot in motion, and ending with the dedication ceremony for the Starlight Beacon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Season 4 of Arrested Development breathes this trope. The original run did dabble in this, most notably involving multiple Bluths in different cars. In Season 4, each episode follows a specific character through part or all of the period 2006-2013 with several of the same events where everyone's paths crossed covered repeatedly, slowly revealing more of what went on at them.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark? did this in the episode "The Tale of the Silver Sight." The Midnight Society was looking for pieces of an old record to solve a mystery, and each member had one piece to find. It would then show one character's arc at a time, and would loop back to the same scene of everybody meeting up in Gary's dorm room, before going back to another person's scenes.
  • Coupling does this in a few episodes. 9 1/2 minutes (The first of Season 4) is probably the most obvious example.
  • Lost has done this in increasing amounts since Season 3. Episode 3x01 tells what's happening to Jack, Kate, and Sawyer after the Season 2 finale. Episode 3x02 shows what's happening to Sun, Jin, and Sayid. Episode 3x03 shows what's happening back at the beach camp with Locke and others. Season 5 has delved into this style even further, with some episodes focusing only on those still on the island and others focusing entirely on those who left (though "simultaneous" is somewhat a relative term when time travel is happening.)
    • Subverted in the Season 4 episode "Ji Yeon". The audience is first shown Sun in the hospital about to give birth, screaming for her husband Jin. We then cut to a scene of Jin on his cellphone, saying he'll be at the hospital soon. We follow Jin's day as he tries to buy the perfect gift before heading to the hospital. Only at the end of the story do we learn that the scene with Jin is a flashback to when he was delivering a gift to his boss's client in the hospital, while the scene with Sun was a flash forward, and that Jin could not possibly be at the hospital (Sun screaming for him is thus taken to be hysterical ravings due to the emotional and physical pain of childbirth)
  • Battlestar Galactica did this in Season 4 with Sine Qua Non and The Hub, which first showed the Fleet's story, and in the next episode the base star's simultaneous adventures.
  • CSI: "4 x 4" depicts four separate cases being worked by different members of the cast at the same time. Each segment has a scene connecting it to another case (where its characters are seen in the background), with the first such intersection doubling as It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Disney Channel did a mega crossover in 2015 which featured characters from Jessie, Girl Meets World, I Didn't Do It, K.C. Undercover, Best Friends Whenever, Austin & Ally and Liv and Maddie attending a Halloween event called the Central Park Spooktacular. Each episode from each series featured two characters from a separate show, thus placing all seven episodes on the same exact day, with said series all set in the same universe.
  • Some of the events depicted from Spike's perspective in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Fool For Love" are shown from Darla's in the Angel episode "Darla" (which originally aired back-to-back with it).
    • Also done in "Same Time, Same Place", when Willow returns to Sunnydale but is invisible to her friends (and vice versa). All scenes in which she, Buffy, and Xander are in the same place is first shown from one perspective, then the other (usually with a clock or section of third party dialogue to orient the viewer)
  • This happens in the Smallville episode "Promise", which shows the same day from the perspectives of Clark, Lex and Lana, all of which converge near the end of the episode.
  • Stranger Things: The series breaks from its usual Two Lines, No Waiting story telling style in chapter 7 and 8 of the second season, which happen at the same time.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Mr. Ferguson is Ill Today", the episode where the protagonists finally succeed in destroying Cromartie's chip.
  • A Season 3 episode of Alias did this: the first half followed Sydney and Vaughn around, while the second half repeated the first half's events from Sark and Lauren's POV.
  • Frequent device on How I Met Your Mother. It was first done in the Season 1 episode "Cupcake" with two threads as the group is split between Marshall at a tailor and Lily shopping for a wedding dress. The technique's been used several times since but its more common form in the show was first exhibited in the early Season 2 episode "Brunch". In this episode there are three groups rather than two and the contact points before the last one are actually different parts of the same event, as well.
    • One of the most memorable usages of this trope appears in "The Burning Beekeeper" where Ted tells the story of Lily and Marshall's party room by room, with the title character running screaming through the house at the end of each one. This remains unexplained until the end of the kitchen segment.'
    • "Ten Session" takes place over the course of 10 weeks as Ted talks about his evolving relationship with his dermatologist, Stella, removing an Embarrassing Tattoo. The thing was, a few episodes prior "The Platinum Rule" actually showed the beginning of that story and Ted's first attempt to take Stella on a date. So it can be assumed the episodes in between also happened during this time.
  • The Malcolm in the Middle episode: "Blackout" uses this as the episode consists of everyone lying to each other about something and repeats the events several times from a different perspective.
  • The sixth season episode "King Corn" of The West Wing shows viewers the same day from the perspective of the campaign workers of the three primary presidential candidates. We first see Vice President Bob Russel's campaign (starting with Donna waking up at 5:46am), then restart the day with Congressman Matt Santos's campaign (starting with Josh waking up at 5:46am), and finally restart again with Senator Arnold Vinick's campaign (starting with the senator himself waking up at 5:46am). Each story follows one campaign through their day, each culminating with that campaign's candidate giving a speech at the Iowa Corn Growers' Expo.
  • In the latter half of Season 4 of The Walking Dead (2010), following the Governor's destruction of the prison, many of our survivors escape in fragmented groups, with each episode focusing on a different one. (e.g., Carl, Rick, and Michonne; Daryl and Beth; Maggie, Bob, and Sasha; etc.) Small hints and clues of one group's whereabouts and actions show up in other groups' stories, with the common driving force among all the survivors is following the railroad tracks to Terminus.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): A variation occurs in "Tribunal" and "Time to Time" considering that time travel is involved. In "Tribunal", Nicholas Prentice helps his great-grandfather Aaron Zgierski expose Robert Greene as SS-Obersturmführer Karl Rademacher. In "Time to Time", Gavin, Prentice's colleague at the time travel agency Chrononics, takes Lorelle Palmer back in time to UC Berkeley on April 14, 1969. When he loses her, he asks Satchko Watanabe and Travis to keep it from Prentice when he gets back. The Chrononics viewing portal shows Prentice and Aaron in Auschwitz in 1944 and later reuniting Aaron's half-sister Hannah (whom history recorded as dying at Auschwitz) with their father Leon in 1999. Prentice then returns to Chrononics in 2059 and learns that Gavin brought Lorelle to 1969 without permission.
  • Criminal Minds almost always does this, especially at the end of the episode (and often at the beginning of it as well). They often show the killer's actions, then cut to the BAU agents and show them getting introduced to the case. Then once the team have worked out the killer's method, they'll show the killer starting to commit his crime once again. In most cases, the team will then be introduced into the picture (usually, they literally drive into the frame or walk through the door). Sometimes the camera actually cuts to them though, usually on the occasions when the bad guy is not sympathetic.
  • Stargate SG-1 had two Season 8 episodes Gemini which followed O'Neill, Carter, and Teal'c dealing with Carter's replicator double while Prometheus Unbound followed Daniel as well as Hammond who were on the Prometheus on their way to Atlantis.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue: Continuum Shift has the characters' story routes operate like this.
  • The Siren games follow this trope nicely. Each game consists of around ten different characters experiencing the apocalyptic events simultaneously over the course of a few days, and the story is told through snippets out of chronological order via a little timetable-style level selector. Being told like this, the story is very hard to follow at times, and very disjointed when one minute you're playing Kei on day 3 around noon, then suddenly you're back to Kyoya around 7 AM on day 1. Once you do have a decent handle on the story, though, it is pretty rewarding. The first two games even make this an explicit part of getting their true endings, as after you've completed a mission the first time you have the option of completing a "secondary objective" if you replay it, and the vast majority of the time these secondary objectives can't be completed until you've accomplished something as an entirely different character in a chronologically-earlier stage, such as opening a door as one character that was locked when you came through as another one later in the day, leaving items you can't use as one character in an area another character who will have a use for it comes by tomorrow, etc.
  • Outlast and its DLC expansion Whistleblower take place during the same event. The main game is about a journalist who is contacted by an employee of the fictional Murkoff Corporation about unethical practices at a mental hospital, and the expansion involves said employee's escape from the facility when all hell breaks loose.
  • Half-Life and its two expansions, Blue Shift and Opposing Force, all take place during the same incident, with different heroes. Opposing Force has Shepherd's story beginning partway through the original game, but we do get to see what happens at Black Mesa after Freeman is transported to Xen. In Half-Life: Decay you play as two characters during the events of Half-Life.
  • Resident Evil 2 was popular for its two-disc "zapping" system. You'd play through the game with one character, then you could start a New Game Plus with the other, giving the second character a slightly different story than if they'd been played first. The game treats the two playthroughs as simultaneous, intertwining stories, and the things you did in the first playthrough affected the world in the second, such as weapons in some areas not being available to the second character if you already took them as the first. In addition to this, the events of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis take place in the same general area, with the events of the second game taking place within the timeframe of the third - specifically, RE3 starts a day before 2, skips ahead two days (during which 2 happens), then picks back up the day after.
    • The remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3 make a few changes, but keep the side-by-side timelines. 3 explicitly takes place a day or two either side of 2, with a one-day Time Skip in the middle to allow for 2's events to play out. Notably, in 3 Carlos blows up a wall in the police station that later becomes an obstacle for Leon and/or Claire in 2. There are a few other minor crossovers as well, such as Leon finding a note from Jill in Kendo's Gunshop, which she visits early in her story (this was added to the game in an update to promote the upcoming remake of 3).
  • Most iterations in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, especially from the Dreamcast forward. The original Sonic Adventure is the most fundamental, straight version of the trope, but Sonic Adventure 2 is particularly notable in that the two stories are actually the opposing sides, not just different shades of heroism.
  • Front Mission 4 is played in chapters alternating between two different teams of pilots in completely different locations. The story occurs chronologically, but the characters don't meet until the very final chapter.
  • 11eyes has Cross Vision mode, where the same stretch of time can be revisited from the perspective of another character. Sometimes the events overlap, but a lot of the time a completely different side of the story is being shown. Heroes and villains alike let the player see their side of the story.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • The first mission of the first Medal of Honor occurred at the same time as the mission "Rendezvous with the Resistance" in Allied Assault. Airborne also has a mission set during Operation Market Garden, which was the setting of one of the campaigns in Frontline; interestingly, the two handle the battle entirely differently, Airborne being set earlier and treating it as a major success, with your team accomplishing all of their objectives with no problem, while Frontline takes place a few days into the operation and shows it as the screw-up the real battle was, depicting the player simply trying to keep himself and his local allies alive long enough to get away.
  • Pretty much the entirety of Treasure of the Rudra.
  • The initial part of Suikoden III is told in chronological chapters from the perspectives of three lead characters who begin in separate locations but frequently interact. Each set of chapters covers roughly the same period of time, allowing you to view some events from multiple perspectives.
  • Levels in the Modern Warfare series love to do this. For example, the entire middle third of the second game alternates between Task Force 141 going after Makarov and the Americans trying to stop the Russian invasion.
  • Events in Grand Theft Auto IV and its episode packs are all meant to occur parallel with each other and feature intersecting plot points in different points of view. Examples include Elizabeta's drug deal involving Niko and Johnny, Johnny's theft of the diamonds from a deal involving Luis, Gay Tony and the Cook, and the ambushed deal at The Libertonian involving all three main characters of the games.
    • The narrative of GTA IV and its episodes inspired Rockstar North to expand on the concept of Simultaneous Arcs in the development of Grand Theft Auto V.
  • Alien vs. Predator 2: The Alien causes infestation of the main Mega-Corp base. Marine comes to investigate and inadvertently disables the other base's security, causing the Alien to attack it. The Marine gets captured by the Mega-Corp, escapes, and unwittingly frees the Predator who you got captured as earlier.
    • In the 2010 game, the Marine character watches the Predator character's ship blow away the USS Marlowe and fights to the colony, following a distress signal triggered by the Xenomorph character's escape. The stories diverge until the Marine character kills the Xenomorph Matriarch, upon when the Xenomorph character develops into another Matriarch. The Marine then fights Karl Bishop Weyland, while the Predator kills a Predalien and rigs the temple to self-destruct.
  • Operation Flashpoint's Cold War Crisis campaign covers the same conflict from four different character's perspectives, in chronological order. There is a lot of overlap in the events, particularly towards the end. For example, in one mission, where you play as a special forces saboteur, the number of enemy tanks you manage to sabotage is directly linked to how many tanks you face in battle the next day, where you play as the tank commander character.
  • Remember11 uses this, with the entire story being told first from the perspective of Kokoro, and then restarting from the beginning, seen through Satoru's eyes. The comes the mindscrew that Satoru's arc cannot exist without doing Kokoro's implying that his reality was made after the fact.
  • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey shifts its narrative between three main protagonists, Zoe Castillo, April Ryan, the protagonist of the first game, and the elite Azadi soldier Kian. The three characters cross paths several times throughout the game and end up all coming together to some extent towards the climax.
  • Some of the Tortage quests in Age of Conan work like this, where different class archetypes do quests giving different perspectives on the story.
  • The second Tenchu game operates like this. Only by playing through multiple times can you get the full story.
  • Odin Sphere has all of the characters' stories take place in roughly the same time. There's even a handy timeline showing all cutscenes and levels together for orientation. All of the arcs lead up to the final epic battle involving every playable character.
  • Fahrenheit has three protagonists that can come into conflict with each other depending on your choices.
  • Several of the character arcs in MapleStory are clearly happening at the same time as each other. Evan and Aran in particular have very closely related storylines as Evan is tricked into working for the Black Wings while Aran has to clean up some of the messes caused by this.
  • Happens a few times in the Sly Cooper series in the area climax heist missions of Sly 2: Band of Thieves and Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, with multiple playable characters rotating through the same part of a mission.
  • Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
    • Halfway through chapter 3, Phoenix and Layton are forced to split up. Layton has been called to an audience with the Storyteller, and only Phoenix and Maya are allowed to speak with the accused. The following scene takes place from Phoenix and Maya's perspective. After the beginning of Espella's interrogation, just as she is about to explain why the townsfolk fear her, the scene shifts to Layton and Luke.
    • While the final Witch Trial is in progress, Layton and Luke are looking for final clues in the Storyteller's room, so while the majority of the corresponding chapter has you playing as Phoenix during the court sequence, the end of the chapter has you investigating with Layton and Luke.
  • Final Fantasy IX: The series of Lighter and Softer events surrounding Garnet, Steiner and Marcus run in parallel to Zidane, Vivi and Freya's increasingly grim journey to Burmecia and then Cleyra during late Disc One/early Disc 2. They finally converge when Garnet and Steiner return to Alexandria willingly... but are taken prisoner anyway, Cleyra is destroyed by Brahne, and Zidane and co. use a teleport device to return to Alexandria and rescue Garnet. This has the interesting effect of making the Bag of Sharing transcend not only space, but time too, as any items you collect as one party are still present in the other party's inventory, even if you pick up their story at an earlier point in time.
    • A unique feature in this game is the Active Time Event system which shows you cutscenes of what other characters are doing while you're out questing.
  • Pikmin 3 starts this way, since the S.S. Drake malfunctions shortly before landing causing its crew to be split up. We start by seeing the first day of exploration from Charlie's point of view, then we switch to Alph's point of view as he attempts to locate the S.S. Drake.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 reveals that the events of Xenoblade Chronicles 1 are happening simultaneously in a different dimension. The Architect is revealed to be Klaus, also known as Zanza in the original game. The difference is that the Architect is the good yet sorrowful half who wishes for lifeforms to control their own destiny, while Zanza is the evil half that wishes to create a destroy-and-recycle mechanism. This also puts a (narrative) sense of urgency on the player, as The Architect tells you that he will die along with his counterpart if the other is killed, and if the player has played the first game, they will be aware than Shulk and his friends are on their way to do just that.
  • From the Trails Series, the first two games of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel series happen the same time as The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure. The main difference is where the stories take place, with the Cold Steel games taking place in the Erebonian Empire, while Zero and Azure take place in Crossbell.
  • Trinity Universe does this, with the Demon King (Kanata) and Valkyrie (Rizelia) arcs. Their paths do intersect at various chapters, and eventually both sides will join together. You have to play both arcs to piece everything together, which will lead you to the game's True Ending.
  • The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit takes place during Episode 2 of Life Is Strange 2. The two stories eventually cross over, with the story of Captain Spirit (which was released as a free playable teaser for the longer game) resolving in that episode.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, all eight class stories take place in roughly the same time frame, with certain NPCs appearing across multiple stories. In some cases the planets are visited in a different order; for example, the Imperial storyline on Taris happens later than the Republic one, undoing a lot of the progress that the Republic had made.
  • The plot of the Game Mod Fallout: Sonora is set in 2167, only a few years after the original Fallout and with a different setting and non-connected story. This is a very deliberate choice by the developers, who wanted players to be able to fit Sonora within the official Fallout canon without it causing too many Continuity Snarls. Sonora is set in a relatively unexplored corner of the Fallout universe, that is too far away from the setting of the first Fallout for that game's plot events to directly affect it, and though Fallout 2 takes place a bit closer to the area explored in Sonora, and you even get visit a couple of locations described in Fallout: New Vegas, Sonora's events took place so far back in the past compared to those games that it can easily be justified that no one really talks about them.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia:
    • The first three campaigns, Long Live the Queen, Dungeons & Devils and Spoils of War, take place roughly concurrently with one another. Long Live the Queen follows Queen Catherine as she lands in Erathia, learns that Nighon and Eofol have invaded, and prepares to march to secure Steadwick, Erathia's capital. Dungeons & Devils follows the forces of Nighon and Eofol as they continue the invasion of Erathia, learns that Queen Catherine has arrived in Erathia and is preparing to secure Steadwick, and so have to rush to occupy it before she can arrive. Spoils of War follows Tatalia and Krewlod taking advantage of the demoralization and distractions of Erathia's soldiers to launch border wars, only to end up bogged down in one with each other (now that they actually had a border — before, Erathia was a buffer between them).
    • The entire (original; things get more complicated with the expansions) game takes place concurrently with Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven, with The Mandate of Heaven focusing on what happens in Enroth, the setting of Heroes II and the kingdom Catherine is Queen of and sailed from.
  • Gradius V's second stage has you infiltrating an enemy ship alongside your future self. Then the final stage has you pursuing the enemy ship into the past where you and your past self finish the job. The game records your gameplay from the previous stage, and will recreate it for the times your paths through the ship come close to each other.

  • The Law of Purple has a short side arc, focusing on a minor character, set during a major battle. As seen here.
  • Usually happens in Sluggy Freelance whenever a main character is trapped in Another Dimension, or back in time, or in an underground Egyptian tomb (this sorta stuff happens to them a lot).
  • The Order of the Stick did a story in which Nale switched places with Elan; after the switch, Elan and Thog were put in jail, after which the comic followed Nale's infiltration of the Order over about four days of in-story time, leading up to an attempt to murder Haley - at which point Sabine rushes in, and then Elan and Thog crash through the window. The very next strip rewinds to when the twins switched places, but this time follows Elan and Thog as they escape from jail, Elan literally takes a level in badass, and they track down Nale, culminating in them jumping though that window.
  • A storyline of College Roomies from Hell!!!! does this, following one character at a time over the course of the same week. It's kind of confusing until the end, but awesome nevertheless.
  • The Webtoon Love So Pure's first ans second seasons are this. The first season is focused on the romance between a promiscuous dropout getting back to college, Jihyun, and a physically imposing Extreme Doormat, Yohan. The second season is the romance between an overly excited geek trying to learn more about his own sexuality, Daeshik, and the previous mentioned Yohan's brother, Yosef, who is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold mobster. The two stories are happening more or less simultaneously, with several events being shown again from different perspectives.
  • Book Eleven of Schlock Mercenary involves the crew splitting up to raise money for repairs, but early on, the Lemony Narrator informs us that in seven hundred or so hours, they will be summoned back following an ominous call from Petey to Kerchak. Each of the Toughs' groups then have their own story, with the Narrator frequently butting in to inform us the exact time until the fateful call occurs.
  • The last part of the Grace's Birthday Party arc of El Goonish Shive does this, splitting up the characters into pairs and telling their stories one at a time.
  • Sinfest often delves into this, most notably the recent separate arcs regarding the Patriarchy, and the developing love story between Criminy and Fuschia.

    Western Animation 
  • Chowder, with the episodes "The Wrong Address" & "The Wrong Customer": During "Address," Chowder and Mung see a seemingly insignificant police chase and go about their business. At the end they return home to find it destroyed and Truffles being arrested. In "Customer," we find out that the police were chasing an old owl, who causes Mung's place to be destroyed. Truffles being arrested is due to a separate but somewhat related matter.
  • The final season of The Lion Guard takes place in parallel with The Lion King II: Simba's Pride's second act, explaining where Kion and the Guard were during that time (they were looking for the Tree of Life).
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • The series did this with the episodes "Bubble Boys" & "Isabella and the Temple of Sap". The first of the pair episodes had the boys building a bubble type contraption after sending the Fireside Girls to go get some sap. The next episode showed the girls' point-of-view with their adventure, as well as that of a different secret agent.
    • This was also done in an earlier episode with "Unfair Science Fair" & "Unfair Science Fair Redux" — the first one focused on Dr. Doofenshmirtz, the second focused on Candace, and then a third time with Bee Day and Bee Story (again focused on Phineas and Ferb, and then on the Fireside Girls.)
    • "Bubble Boys"/"Isabella and the Temple of Sap" and "Bee Day"/"Bee Story" also did this for the Agent P subplot, with the Fireside Girls focused ones looking at Perry's fellow OWCA Agent, Pinky the Chihuahua (Isabella's pet) fighting his own nemesis, Professor Poofenplotz.
  • The Simpsons, "Trilogy of Error": Each of the show's three acts follows Homer, Lisa and Bart respectively as they go on simultaneous adventures, which occasionally cross each other before meeting at the end.
  • South Park had a three-part meteor showers arc, each episode told from a different point of view: Stan got one, then Cartman got another, and then Kyle and Kenny got one as well. Each episode is completely different and the only thing they have in common is the meteor shower.
  • Transformers: Prime has the hunt for the Iacon relics arc in Season 2 — the episodes "Tunnel Vision", "Triangulation", "Triage", and "Toxicity" all happen at the same time. For bonus points, each episode has some scenes set back at the Autobots' base with Fowler and Raf, and Toxicity shows all these scenes in context.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • Season 3's "Just For Sidekicks" (focusing on Spike and the Cutie Mark Crusaders) and "Games Ponies Play" (focusing on Twilight Sparkle and the Mane Six). Implied to have taken place on the same day — as hinted at by slight overlaps in the storylines at the beginnings and endings of the episodes — despite being set in different locations and having originally aired a week apart from each other.
    • Season 5's "Made In Manehattan" and "Brotherhooves Social." Applejack and Rarity being summoned to Manehattan is actually what sets up the conflict in Brotherhooves Social.
    • The Season 5 finale "The Cutie Remark - Part 1 and Part 2" and My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games, although Friendship Games aired several weeks before. During Friendship Games, Sunset Shimmer attempts to contact Princess Twilight Sparkle and ask for her help, but she doesn't respond. Later, after the conflict has already been resolved, Princess Twilight appears and apologizes for not coming sooner, but she was dealing with her own adventure involving time travel, which was then shown in The Cutie Remark. It makes sense since both this two-parter and Friendship Games were written by Josh Haber. And both of them end with The Hero stopping the Arc Villain not with violence, but by offering their hoof/hand in friendship, which they accept.
    • As initially conceived, the "Mirror Magic" segment of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Magical Movie Night would have occurred simultaneously with My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), as a way to explain Starlight Glimmer's absence from the film (which, in the real world, was because production on The Movie began before the decision to make Starlight a major character was made). However, this concept didn't make it to either finished product, as no reference to The Movie is made in "Mirror Magic" and Starlight also gets a cameo appearance in The Movie.
  • The third season of the second Ninja Turtles cartoon featured a five-part storyline where the Turtles were each trapped in a different alternate universe. The first four episodes all had the same beginning that took place from the perspective of a different turtle, and the rest of the episode showed that respective turtle's experience in the world he was trapped in. The fifth and final episode focused on the foursome getting back together.
  • Star Wars:
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil has "Starsitting" and "On the Job": The first part focuses on Star and Marco babysitting Buff Frog's children while said monster is at work. The second part shows Buff Frog at work while trying to cope with being away from his kids for the first time.
  • Trollhunters: The episode "Just Add Water" has some background appearances by Steve and Eli up to some kind of weird adventure, the next episode "The Creepslayerz" reveals that they discovered the supernatural goings on in Arcadia and believe Jim to be leader of an evil troll army and are attempting to stop him. Later, in the first season of 3Below, which takes place in the same town and timeframe as the third Trollhunters season, we see many of the Trollhunters episodes through the eyes of the 3Below characters.
  • The first season of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous occurs simultaneously with the events of Jurassic World, while the final episodes of the third season occur alongside the opening sequence of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sidequel


General Hux's Speech

General Hux's speech and the subsequent destruction of the Hosnian system indicate that Star Wars Resistance takes place around the same timeframe as The Force Awakens.

How well does it match the trope?

4.47 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / SimultaneousArcs

Media sources: