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Synchronous Episodes

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In which two episodes of a series, usually (but not always) right next to each other in broadcast order, are shown by overlapping scenes to occur at the same time. At times has subtle differences based on which character is the focus in which episode, relating it to The Rashomon.

Compare Arbitrarily Serialized Simultaneous Adventures, a Video Game-specific subtrope where the player can decide in which order to play through the synchronous levels.

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A more precise version of Simultaneous Arcs, as while that trope simply requires two stories to take place at the same time chronologically, this trope has said stories share the same scenes and/or related driving forces. Basically, a Simultaneous Arc story will have Alice and Bob doing something at the same time, but a Synchronous Episode story has things happen to either Alice or Bob based on the actions of the other (Alice is in a Babysitting Episode with Bob's baby cousin because Bob has an important job interview that day).


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • K-On! does this in the second season, when the older girls go on a class trip, leaving Azusa behind.
  • The end of episode 22 of Mai-HiME is synchronous with events within the first few minutes of episode 23, with the former scene of the former repeating about four minutes into the latter.
  • Persona -trinity soul- uses three repeated scenes to establish episodes 9 and 10 as simultaneous; one follows the main protagonist, while the other follows what the other major characters did during that day.
  • The entire fourth disk of Wolf's Rain is just four recap episodes, each rehashing the plot up to that point, each from the point of view of a different character. There are a few additional or revised scenes, so watching those episodes might not be a complete waste of time...
  • The majority of Digimon seasons have at least one set of these, owing to the demands of telling the story of a large group of heroes that is quite given to splitting up.
  • Episodes of Sgt. Frog usually have two separate 11-minute stories, but episode 44 involved two concurrent stories. The first story has Keroro and Fuyuki competing in various winter sports while mysterious accidents occur, and the second shows that all the accidents were caused by Aki and Kululu testing out a giant robot.
  • Every single episode of Boogiepop Phantom is this. Each episode is the story of the same events, told from the perspective of a different character. Since not everyone was present for every major event in the story, only by watching all the episodes can the viewer piece together what had actually happened.
  • Mekakucity Actors: Episodes 2 and 3 introduce and expand on the story of Shintaro's sister, Momo, and also explains the presence of Kano, Seto and Kido during the action sequence at the end of Episode 1. After they're both shown alive... briefly at the end of Episode 5, it becomes clear that the events surrounding Hibiya and Hiyori in Episode 4's second half are happening off-screen while Ene is telling everyone else her back story in Episodes 6 and 7.
  • The Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works anime adaptation does this with its prologue and first episode, showing us events from Rin's and Shirou's perspective, respectively.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid:
    • Most of chapter 12 of Kanna's Daily Life happens at the same time as chapter 53 of the main series, showing what happened when Elma was sent to play with the kids.
    • Another chapter in Kanna's Daily Life, "Magic Time", takes place while Kobayashi and Shouta are taking the wizard exams.

    Comic Books 
  • ElfQuest does this with two entire subseries, Shards and the latter part of Hidden Years (featuring different characters and locations). The two series don't technically share scenes, but there is a lot of overlap, with characters in the one story learning about what happened to their friends in the other. In the European version, they were published together in extra thick comic books which contained one episode of each, happening simultaneously.
  • Two issues of Invincible depict Omni-Man telling his son about where he came from. The first time, he'd lied to him, and said his home planet Viltrum was a peaceful place, and that he'd been sent to keep order on Earth. The second time, he told the truth: He's a Galactic Conqueror, just one of millions in the Viltrumite horde. They both show the same setting (scenes on Viltrum share the same characters, but while they were all talking joyfully in the first story, they were fighting for supremacy in the second, etc.). In a neat bit of work with the medium, the second story is shown using basically the same page layouts as the first as well, making the distorted echo effect even more obvious.
  • The short in issue #4 of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW), "In the Interim" takes place while the events of issues #2 through #4 occur.
    • In the short story in My Little Pony Micro Series Issue #3 Hayseed attempts to woo Rarity a second time right before the big Canterlot show from the main story of the same issue, as Rarity is in the same dress and preparing for the show.
  • Issues 18, 20, and 21 of The Transformers: Robots in Disguise all take place at about the same time and focus on the Autobot, Decepticon, and NAIL reaction to Starscream's seizure of Iacon.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The latter half of Back to the Future Part II overlaps the events of Part I that were set in 1955.
  • In Iron Man 2 scenes from The Incredible Hulk can be seen on a TV news report. This establishes that the events of the two films take place during roughly the same time frame.
  • Saw III and the bulk of Saw IV are revealed at the end of IV to occur at the same time, when the protagonist of IV crashes into the sole survivor of III.
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    Literature 
  • Discworld: Night Watch takes place during Thief of Time, with Vimes and Carcer being sent back in time due to the Time Crash in Thief of Time.
  • In the Dragonriders of Pern series, Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, the first two books in the Harpers subseries, are set simultaneous with Dragonquest, the second book in the main series. Dragonsong shows the Hatching where Jaxon Impresses Ruth from Menolly's perspective, and Dragonsinger is connected to Dragonquest's climax.
  • The Honor Harrington series and its two main spinoffs focused on the Talbott Quadrant and the planet Torch all run concurrently. Occasionally scenes from one book will be pasted in the others verbatim as a way of letting the reader know just where in the timeline a particular book or scene is occurring.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Two books — A Feast For Crows and the first volume of A Dance with Dragons — overlap in time, each following half of the POV character cast. George Martin initially drafted them as one single book but then it occurred to him he had written far too much for a single book; the two books are divided not chronologically but geographically.
    • An author's note reveals that a less dramatic version of this was also the case with the second book, A Clash of Kings, and the third, A Storm of Swords: the beginning of Storm overlaps with the end of Clash.
  • In The Moomins, the last two novels, Moominpappa At Sea and Moominvalley In November, take place simultaneously. The first has Moominpappa dragging the whole family away from their home to a lighthouse, while the second shows what happens in their usual neighbourhood when they aren't there.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica. After the basestar leaves with Roslin and Baltar on it, we first see how the fleet reacts, focusing on Lee Adama. The next episode takes place at the exact same time, but from the perspective of the people on the Basestar. Notably, we see the aftermath of the Battle of the Resurrection Hub before we see the actual battle.
    • The movies. Razor shows what the Pegasus crew were doing between the Cylon attack and meeting up with Galactica. The Plan shows the first two seasons from the perspective of the Cylons. Both movies and the series show different parts of the Cylon attack.
  • Technically different shows, but one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer showed Spike's victory over his first Slayer and Angel congratulating him. Then the episode of Angel shown immediately afterward revealed that Angel had his soul at the time, and the tone of his congratulation took on a very different interpretation.
    • The same two episodes also showed the day Spike was first sired. In the Buffy episode after being humiliated minutes earlier a pre-vamped Spike was shown running into trio of strangers and bitterly told them to watch where they were going, and then the Angel one revealed it was Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla he had run across, and Dru almost immediately chose to turn him after their encounter.
  • Doctor Who, being a time travel series, occasionally has the TARDIS land in a time period the audience has already seen it land in before. A famous early example is "The War Machines" and "The Faceless Ones" both taking place in London on the same day.
    • The spinoff Torchwood gets into the act as well, with "End of Days" leading directly into the Doctor Who episode "Utopia", and a flashback scene in "Fragments" taking place simultaneously with the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie. Also, there were three simultaneous Jack Harknesses in the UK at a few pointsnote , but sadly we never see Jack interact with himself because 21st century Jack is aware of the implications of meeting his past self.
    • In the other spinoff Class (2016), the episodes "Detained" and "The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did" happen simultaneously, with the first following all the regular characters other than Quill and the second only featuring her.
  • Farscape: "Mental as Anything" was a filler ep that focused on the male characters of the show visiting a psychic boot camp to prepare themselves to take on the Scarrans and their infamous heat torture; simultaneously, the girls of Farscape- including the two female big bads at the time- had a particularly stand-out Day In The Lime Light episode called "Bringing Home the Beacon", which involved them infiltrating and attempting to derail a secret negotiation between Scarran and Peacekeeper forces on a commerce planet.
  • EastEnders once depicted a two-hander featuring Peggy and Pat at Pat's house which ended with their fight being interrupted by a ringing doorbell. The following episode was another two-hander featuring Pat's husband Roy and Peggy's fiance Frank (who was also Pat's ex husband). The plots of the two episodes came together at the end when Frank and Roy returned to Pat's house and and rang the doorbell just as Peggy and Pat's fight from the previous episode was in full flow.
  • How I Met Your Mother does this a lot, but usually so subtly you don't catch it the first time. The most obvious is in season three with the episode "Ten Sessions" (with references to other episodes that already had or were going to happen during those ten weeks) but a particularly brilliant usage comes at the end of season two when Ted and Robin secretly break up three episodes before the wedding, but decide not to tell anyone until after the wedding. The story of the breakup is told in flashback, but is obviously happening at the same time as a previous episode, with many references back and forth.
    • The season 1 episode Life Among the Gorillas ends with Robin giving Ted what amounts to a booty call. The next episode Nothing Good Happens After 2 A.M. starts with showing what she was up to during the previous episode, detailing the emotionally draining day (including coaching Ted on his girlfriend problems) that led to her making that call.
    • Not actually different episodes, but there's one episode where the same central events are shown from the perspective of three different people in succession. They frequently intersect, but each portion gives a little more context to the overall story, so that in the third retelling it finally becomes clear why a man in a flaming beekeeper's outfit runs through the party (and who it is), and the story continues forward from there.
  • The Leverage episodes "The Girls' Night Out Job" and "The Boys' Night Out Job" happen simultaneously, the former following Sophie, Parker, and Tara as they investigate a thief who's trying to steal secrets from the Venezuelan government and sell them to the highest bidder, the latter following Nathan, Hardison, and Eliot as they try to help out a former mark turned good who's inadvertently gotten roped into what appears to be a drug smuggling plot (again).
    • The finale season also included a pair of episodes where Elliot, Hardison, and Parker get drawn into foiling a terrorist plot in D.C. while Nate and Sophie are off taking care of some personal business (and end up having to match wits with Sterling again).
  • The two Lexx episodes "The Web" and "The Net" are particularly ingenious/egregious examples of this. The first episode sets up a mystery that's explained in the second, but in the process roughly 75% of the second episode consists of Stock Footage from the first.
  • The first few episodes of season 2 of Lost did this, with Jack, Kate, and Locke's entrances into the hatch playing out over the course of three episodes. Other episodes focus on the goings-on at certain parts of the island, with adjacent episodes showing the same time periods in different locales.
    • The flashbacks of "House of the Rising Sun" and "...In Translation" are also synchronous. Those episodes aired half a season apart.
    • Been happening a lot during Season 5 with its Time Travelling. Specifically in 'The Little Prince' and 'Do No Harm/Deus Ex Machina'. Recently 'Because You Left' and 'Follow the Leader' had the same scene from different perspectives too.
  • The daytime soap The Young and the Restless does this with a few scenes from the end of the previous episode played at the start of the next to keep the viewer current without disrupting flow.

    Podcasts 
  • Like most gaming groups on the site, the Whartson Hall Gamers at RPGMP3 usually play (and record for upload) one game at a time. However, they once played a pair of games (Cold City and Traveller) in two separate groups, with two separate recorders, in the same room. The games have nothing to do with each other, except for once in a while when an in-joke gets shouted across the room.

    Video Games 
  • The first chapter of Gears of War 3 is split into two segments that happen concurrently and focus around defeating a Lambent Leviathan. The first half is played by Marcus, Dom, Anya, and Jace as they defend the Raven's Nest and use it to push the Leviathan under a bridge. The second half is played by Cole, Baird, Clayton Carmine, and Sam as they locate and deploy a sufficient explosive at the Leviathan from atop the bridge to, as Cole puts it "blow its brains out its ass."
  • The Swamp Camp section in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is seen through the eyes of all three protagonists, who arrive at different times but all come together by the time the Azadi troopers storm the camp. The visual clue and the synchronization point is the flare signal seen by every protagonist as the approach the pier.
  • Happens in the "Rebirth" mission in Call of Duty: Black Ops You at first infiltrate the Soviet base as Mason, the main character in the game. After his portion is done, you then play as Hudson, who was also on the island, and what he did while Mason was storming the base.
    • The sequel, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, does this again for the level "Time and Fate". You first play as Big Bad Raul Menendez, controlling him during his Unstoppable Rage as he tries to race back to the hotel his sister is at to save her, then control shifts back to Mason as he, Woods and Hudson fight their way to the same location to catch up with him.
  • In Sly 2: Band of Thieves, Operation Thunder Beak, final mission of the first level, has this for the first half of the mission. While Sly knocks down a peacock sign on a nightclub, Bentley and Murray steal a tow car.
  • Pretty much all over the place in Resident Evil 6 as some of the character stories take place at the same time with some of the characters running into each other during their missions. For example: Chris and Piers are on a mission in a European country dealing with bio-hazards and run into Sherry and Jake who are in the area trying to escape some pursuers, the latter offering some aid in fighting a monster. Later in the games Chris and Leon get into a little scuffle while trying to pursue who they think is Ada before being forced to split up. This is even shown from a gameplay perspective in whichever character's story you choose (which sadly is not skippable in certain gameplay parts).
  • Splatoon 2 has its main Hero Mode campaign and the "Octo Expansion" DLC take place at the same time: the former has Marie allude to Agent 3 and her grandfather Cap'n Cuttlefish being away on a secret mission, while the latter has an unlockable chat log in which Marie and Cuttlefish have a brief conversation in which they assure each other that everything is perfectly fine.

    Web Animation 
  • Duck Talez has episodes 4 through 7, with the first three each focusing on one of the nephews, and the seventh focusing on Scrooge and Vegeta. A glipse at Scrooge and Vegeta's plot occasionally appears in the background of the nephews' episodes.

    Web Original 
  • The "Emma and Lilith" find-the-difference games come in paired sets, one for each girl's perspective of the same story. The scenes in Lilith's games are highly detailed paintings with a dark-ish color palette, while Emma's resemble childrens' book drawings and are colored in bright pastels.

    Western Animation 
  • Season 1 (or Part 1) of 3Below takes place during the events of season 3/Part 3 of its' predecessor in the Tales of Arcadia trilogy, Trollhunters; several events from the latter take place and/or are referenced during 3Below episodes. In turn, Aja and Krel, two of the three protagonists, made an appearance in Trollhunters Part 3 as a Poorly Disguised Pilot.
    • In season 2 of Trollhunters, "Just add Water" and "The Creepslayerz" take place in the same time, with the latter being from the perspective of Steve and Eli.
  • Adventure Time did a rather strange variation: Episode 4-17, BMO Noire, was a cute little stand-alone giving viewers a glimpse of what Finn and Jake's semi-sentient game console does at home when they go out. An entire season later, episode 5-18, Princess Potluck, shows us where Finn and Jake were going that day.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has "Appa's Lost Days", an episode which shows what the lost Appa was doing during the episodes between where he was kidnapped and the Gaang's arrival in Ba Sing Se.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse has "Mud is Thicker Than Water" and "OTTO Motives", the former showed Ben and Gwen teaming up with their cousin Lucy during a Plumber mission on Earth. The latter has Rook and Kevin going to an intergalactic auto show on a different planet that was occurring at the same time (they were seen in the beginning of the former leaving Earth) where they end up confronting OTTO, someone from Kevin's time in the Null Void.
  • BoJack Horseman: Partway through "Say Anything", an A Day in the Limelight episode for Princess Carolyn, BoJack ends their date early so he can visit his cancer-riddled former friend Herb and is later seen on his way home from the visit. The following episode, "The Telescope", shows us what had transpired during that visit.
  • "The Wrong Address" and "The Wrong Customer" on Chowder. The former follows Chowder and Mung Daal as they go on a delivery, while the latter shows what happened at the kitchen while they were out.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: The season 3 episode "The Big Scoop" concentrated on Timmy's friends investigating him during the events of the season one episode "A Wish Too Far", in which Timmy had been trying to become popular. There were overlapping scenes, and a partially overheard conversation, from the earlier episode.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends has "The Little Peas", a retelling of the events of "The Big Cheese" from the perceptive of Peas, a character which was revealed to have an instrumental part in the events of the previous episode.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has two episodes, "Just for Sidekicks" and "Games Ponies Play", in which the Mane Six head to the Crystal Empire to check on preparations for the Equestria Games (latter), while Spike tries to take care of their pets back in Ponyville (former).
    • Happened again in season 5, with "Made in Manehattan" and "Brotherhooves Social". In the former, Applejack and Rarity are called to Manehattan and as such neither pony can take part in the Sisterhooves Social with their little sisters. The latter episode shows what happened during the Sisterhooves Social while Applejack and Rarity were absent.
  • Phineas and Ferb has done a few episodes like this:
    • "Unfair Science Fair" has Phineas and Ferb helping Baljeet build a working portal to Mars for a science fair. "Unfair Science Fair Redux" has Candace getting sent to Mars while helping the boys test their invention out.
    • "Bubble Boys" revolves around Phineas and Ferb making a super-durable bubble in which they and their friends can fly around, while "Isabella and the Temple of Sap" shows the crazy misadventures the Fireside Girls went through to get one of the ingredients for the bubble formula.
    • "Bee Day" and "Bee Story".
  • Sonic Boom: "Sticks and Amy's Excellent Staycation" shows what Amy and Sticks were up to while Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles were on their road trip in "Planes, Trains, and Dude-mobiles".
  • South Park had the three-part Meteor Shower Trilogy taking place on the same night: "Cat Orgy" had Cartman babysat by Stan's sister Shelly while his mom was at a party, dealing both with his cat being in heat and Shelly's obnoxious boyfriend; "Two Guys Naked In a Hot Tub" showed Stan with his parents at that party, which the government thought was a Heaven's Gate-style cult meeting, while Stan's dad Randy and Kyle's dad Gerald deal with an awkward moment; and "Jewbilee" had Kyle and Kenny at a camp for Jewish kids, where a villain tried to summon an Eldritch Abomination Biblical Bad Guy.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • "Starsitting" and "On the Job". The former recounts Star's adventures in babysitting for Buff Frog, while the latter shows what Buff Frog is up to in the meantime.
    • "The Bogbeast of Boggabah" and "Total Eclipsa the Moon"; the latter shows that Moon did follow up on Star's wild claims about Miss Heinous being Queen Eclipsa's long-lost daughter Meteora, and investigates while Star and River are on their family hunting trip.
  • Star Wars Resistance:
  • Steven Universe: "The New Crystal Gems" revolves around Connie telling Steven what was happening in Beach City while he and the Gems were off rescuing Greg from Homeworld's People Zoo during the previous four episodes ("Adventures in Light Distortion", "Gem Heist", "The Zoo", and "That Will Be All").
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) had a five-part storyline that focused on the turtles being sent to other realities that took place at the same time, with each episode spotlighting one turtle and the reality he'd been sent to. The first four even had the same opening scene, but taking place from the viewpoint of that episode's spotlight Turtle. The first focused on Michelangelo, the second on Raphael, the third on Donatello, and the fourth on Leonardo, with the fifth and final one showing the foursome getting back together and returning to their reality.
  • In Series 19 of Thomas the Tank Engine, despite airing in Anachronic Order, "No Help at All" indicates that it takes place at the same time as three other episodes:
    • Salty is on loan to a dockyard on the mainland ("Salty All at Sea").
    • Mavis is under repairs at the Dieselworks, and Den is taking her place at the quarry ("Den & Dart").
    • Emily is under repair at the Steamworks ("Best Engine Ever").
  • Transformers Prime had four of these in the second season as portions of an epic Fetch Quest:
    • Tunnel Vision, following Arcee, Bumblebee, Jack, and Miko in the subway tunnels of New York City
    • Triangulation, where Optimus, Dreadwing, and Starscream race against each other in the Antarctic
    • Triage, featuring the return of Wheeljack and his epic one-on-one with Soundwave
    • and Toxicity, in which Bulkhead takes on a swarm of Insecticons lead by the vicious Hardshell
      • These all converge in episode 2-16, Hurt.
    • Season 3 had the episodes Project Predacon and Chain of Command which featured another fetch quest for Predacon bones.
  • Two The Venture Bros. episodes, Everyone Comes To Hank's and Bright Lights, Dean City, follow both of the titular brothers during a particular summer as Dean gets a science internship in New York while Hank solves the mystery of Dermott's parentage.
    • Another instance occurs with the Halloween Episode, A Very Venture Halloween, and the first episode of season 5, What Color is Your Cleansuit? The Halloween episode takes place chronologically within the first "commercial break" of the Cleansuit episode, which itself is an episode which takes place over the course of several months.

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