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Thematic Series

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They may not share the same story, but they all share the same mythology.
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Unlike a typical series, a Thematic Series does not follow the same characters or story; instead, it follows the same themes. For instance, a series may focus on themes of war, but with each installment centering on completely different people being affected by completely different wars. One might recognize a few nods to past installments here and there. If the installments share any characters at all, they will be side characters or it may be in the form of a cameo by a former main character of a different chapter. This is assuming the installments take place in the same universe at all. Otherwise, expect Negative Continuity.

This is different from a Spiritual Successor in that the installments are all made by the same creator(s) for an interlocking series. Considering the nature of this series, audiences never have to worry about Archive Panic or Continuity Lock-Out and can even see them out of order. What these two tropes do have in common, however, is that they are sometimes enforced due to the creators lacking the rights to make a regular sequel or series. Often, these series end up being trilogies.

Not to be confused with a Non-Linear Sequel, which is a video game trope concerning a series that still follows a set group of characters and game elements, but plays fast and loose with the timeline or continuity (though there can be overlap between the two tropes). Also not to be confused with In Name Only sequels, when a title shares the same name and the progressive number but it's unrelated to previous installments which were true linear sequels.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo's Lex Luthor: Man of Steel (re-released as simply Luthor) and Joker are this. They don't directly link to each other, but they're both dark and deconstructive takes on the main antagonists of Superman and Batman respectively as presented largely from their perspectives, with the heroes present only as dark, shadowy and ominous figures.
  • According to Warren Ellis, Black Summer, No Hero, and Supergod are a "thematic trilogy" exploring what superheroes would be like if their level of humanity changed. Black Summer is about superheroes who are "too human"—who aren't willing to idly stand by their ideals in a Crapsack World, and try to change it by force. No Hero is about heroes who are "inhuman"—heroes who have all the worst traits a person can have. And Supergod is about superheroes who are "no longer human at all"—their ideals transcend ours and go straight into Blue-and-Orange Morality.
  • Tom King has a trilogy he dubbed "The Trilogy of Best Intentions", consisting of The Sheriff of Babylon, The Omega Men, and The Vision (2015). Each of them are tragedies where the main characters attempt to partake in a seemingly simple goal or mission with humble intentions, then being forced to deal with failure once it goes horribly wrong.
  • Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale:
  • Both Marvel Comics and DC Comics have a series devoted to taking familiar characters and placing them in Alternate Universes with little to no reoccurring characters. Marvel has What If? and DC has the Elseworlds series, which was an imprint with many one-shots and miniseries.
  • Marvel also has a line of comics known as The End, which vary greatly in both genre and tone, but share the base premise of showing the final days of famous Marvel characters. In some cases, this extends to also showing the end of the earth, humanity, or the universe itself.
  • Northlanders by Brian Wood. Each story arc takes place during the Viking age but centuries apart and in locations as far apart as Iceland and Russia.
  • Just about all that the various Science Comics have in common with each other is being science-themed Edutainment Graphic Novels and being released by the same publisher. Most of them don't even share the same author.
  • Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos had the "The" stories, a series of moralistic stories focusing on a specific One-Shot Character to elucidate the various facets of war, starting with "The War Lover" and concluding with "The Reporter".
  • Sin City is about the eponymous city more than specific characters. While many stories share protagonists, they are all stand-alone tales that deal with Film Noir elements.

    Film — Animation 
  • The Disney Animated Canon is arguably one on a very grand scale. While few of the films in the list are direct sequels to previous ones, they have many traits in common with each other, such as character archetypes, visual motifs, narrative structures, and themes, to the point that people have coined the phrase "Disney formula" for many of the studio's works, as well as their imitators. Many of the same animators, directors, and voice actors have also contributed to quite a few projects throughout the company's history. The lineup can be further divided into various eras in time, such as the Silver Age of the 50's and 60's and the Rennaisance of the 90's. In addition to the infinite levels of merchandise that show various characters together, there have been several massive Crossover works, such as the House of Mouse television series, the Kingdom Hearts video game franchise, and the short film Once Upon a Studio.
  • Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon has the "Irish Folklore Trilogy" of animated films directed by Tomm Moore, consisting of The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea and Wolfwalkers. While the films' stories and characters are different and are set during different time periods, they all take place in Ireland and focus on similar themes of Irish folklore, the beauty of nature outside of civilization, and the decline of older Irish traditions and beliefs. It's implied that they take place in the same universe as well, with Aisling from The Secret of Kells making a brief cameo in Song of the Sea.

    Film — Live-Action 

  • Chinua Achebe's "Africa Trilogy" is a mixed example. The first two, Things Fall Apart and No Longer at Ease, are directly related, but the third, Arrow of God, is a similar story to the first but with different characetrs.
  • Asian Saga is, according to the author "the story of the Anglo-Saxon in Asia." So all the books have British men in Asia as protagonists, and many of the characters are descendants or ancestors of each other (at least the British). There are also continuity nods, and four of the six books deal with Dick Struan's company, and Gai-Jin provides the major link between the Shōgun and Struan's storylines.
  • Books in Mary Graham Bonner's Magic series (which started with The Magic Map in 1927) generally have nothing to do with each other (aside from a few Continuity Nods and Journeys being a direct sequel to Map), but all involve seemingly ordinary kids stumbling in to fantastical places and adventures and coming out of them better educated about some aspect of the world.
  • The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone is connected only by taking place in the same Magitek-fueled Urban Fantasy setting.
  • Dougal Dixon's three most well-known works, After Man: A Zoology of the Future, The New Dinosaurs: An Alternative Evolution, and Man After Man: An Anthropology of the Future are often considered to represent a trilogy, even if there's no shared narratives or premises.note  However, the three books are considered seminal works of Speculative Biology, each exploring a common subject of hypothetical evolution from a documentary-like format.note 
  • Jules Verne devoted most of his career to the "Extraordinary Voyages in Worlds Known and Unknown", which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a series of novels linked by themes of travel, knowledge, and discovery. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, and all the other famous Verne novels belong to the series. There are a few direct sequels within the series, but most of the time, allusions between novels are limited to The Cameo, a Continuity Nod, or a bit of surprise Canon Welding.
  • William Hope Hodgson actually stated that three of his horror/fantasy novels — The Boats of the "Glen Carrig, The House on the Borderland, and The Ghost Pirates — formed "what, perhaps, may be termed a trilogy" despite them not having the same settings or characters (and possibly not even the same continuity). Rather, they seem to all revolve around ideas, namely how little mankind really knows about the Earth — and even reality — and the mysteries and dangers that lurk just beyond our perception, sometimes in the midst of places and things that we take for granted.
  • Ray Bradbury published a collection titled "The Illustrated Man", consisting of a number of unrelated short stories that dealt with themes involving the nature of mankind and their relationship to technology, many of them also dealing with (somewhat dated) ideas of space exploration.
  • James Jones' war trilogy that consists of From Here to Eternity, The Thin Red Line, and Whistle, the last of which was published posthumously. All three deal with World War II and draw on James Jones' experience with that war. All three share the same main three characters, but with different names in each one. There was actually a novel written before From Here to Eternity, but that one was written differently than the others.
  • Behold The Man and Breakfast In The Ruins by Michael Moorcock are a thematic duology - the only connection between the two are general themes and the same main character, Karl Glogauer, who even has slightly different backgrounds in each book.
  • Much like their films, the National Lampoon series of books don't form an interconnected series but rather, share the same writers.
  • The book series of The Ring applies to this, with each entry following a different perspective on the ring deaths: Ring is reporter Asakawa investigating the tape deaths; Spiral is coroner Ando's finding the death patterns and explaining them; Loop is student Kaoru uncovering the "LOOP Project" that connects everything; Birthday explores secondary-yet-vital characters tied to the series; and S provides Sadako's perspective on things.
  • The Dr. Seuss books are often considered a series. Certainly, they all share the same tone, writer, and artist. The characters and setting typically have the same design styles; the rhyming scheme is always present, as are the aesops.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Anthology shows feature self-contained stories that involve a consistent theme (often the mysterious, macabre and gruesome), with a different story in each episode.
    • Tales of the Unexpected is a series of unrelated short stories revolving around blackly surreal horror behind everyday lives.
    • The Twilight Zone (1959) is one of the earliest and probably the best known of these.
    • Black Mirror, for the first two seasons, consisted of three films per season, all joined by dark, technology-focused and socially critical themes. It then upped to six films per season starting with its third season.
    • Inside No. 9 is a Black Comedy/drama series where each self-contained episode uses the number 9 as an Arc Number.
  • American Horror Story: Each season explores the tropes of a different horror motif (haunted house, asylum, witches) but the themes of the supernatural, psychological and body horror are constant. So are bittersweet endings, and Anyone Can Die characters. Crossovers in later seasons establish that the seasons are all in one continuity, despite the great number of Identical Strangers this creates due to series mainstay actors playing a new character each season, and that people who meet more than one of these characters don't register at all that they look alike.
  • Fargo. Each season takes place in a different time period with a different group of characters, but they all share a continuity that includes the events of the movie. The first three also share a common setting in rural Minnesota, although the fourth changed the main setting to Kansas City, Missouri.
    Noah Hawley (Fargo showrunner): I like the idea that somewhere out there is a big, leather-bound book that's the history of true crime in the Midwest, and the movie was Chapter 4, Season 1 was Chapter 9 and [Season 2] was Chapter 2. You can turn the pages of this book, and you just find this collection of stories... But I like the idea that these things are connected somehow, whether it's linearly or literally or thematically. That's what we play around with.
  • Heroes was originally envisioned as an example of this trope. In the same vein as True Detective and American Horror Story, each season would have its own cast of characters with their own stories. In the end, the Season 1 cast ended up being so popular that the NBC vetoed the idea of an ever-shifting cast forcing the writers to find a way to incorporate as many of the original cast as possible in the next seasons. However, this was played straight with the revival, Heroes Reborn (2015), which featured an almost entirely new main cast, with only a single returning character in a leading role and other members of the original cast returning in supporting roles.
  • Most series in the Kamen Rider franchise follow most or all of these themes: A hero with an insect-inspired costume, a prominent belt (which is usually their Transformation Trinket) and a Cool Bike fights Monsters of the Week (whose powers are connected to the hero's one way or another) and defeats them with a Diving Kicknote . Apart from that, everything changes from season to season since there's only been one direct sequel in the entire franchise, Black RX following off of Black; Agito has some allusions to Kuuga, but the producers didn't make it a direct sequel to avoid Continuity Lockout and left it up to the viewers to decide if they're related or not.
  • Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson saw their three comedy series as a trilogy on life — The Young Ones is life in your twenties, Filthy Rich & Catflap is life in your thirties and Bottom is when you hit middle age.
  • Metal Heroes, even more so than Super Sentai or Kamen Rider. While most of the seasons share the Powered Armor theme, each of them is different from the last. Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya is the biggest outlier by not even having the hero using Powered Armor.
  • Room 104: A television series that changes genres every episode based on what guest is staying in the room.
  • Super Sentai: In each series, the main characters are a team of (at first) 3 to 5 Henshin Heroes in color-keyed uniforms. The Rangers first fight the Monster of the Week on foot, and when the monster grows to giant size, they fight it again in their Humongous Mecha. Aside from that, there's no continuity between the individual series (with a few exceptions). This is much less prevalent with the series' American adaptation, Power Rangers, which has a stronger (though still loose at times) sense of continuity.
  • True Detective: Each season follows a different group of "true detectives" as they investigate a case.

  • David Bowie's albums Low, "Heroes", and Lodger form the Berlin Trilogy, a series of Krautrock-inspired art rock albums recorded during Bowie's time living in Berlin, taking heavy influence from the area and its place in the Cold War.
  • Blur's albums Modern Life Is Rubbish, Parklife and The Great Escape form a loose trilogy about the lives of the Working, Middle, and Upper classes in Britain, respectively.
  • King Crimson guitarist/de facto leader Robert Fripp had two of these in the late '70s and early '80s:
    • Firstly, Fripp produced a trio of albums intended to deconstruct the idea of pop songs as an artistic medium: Scratch by Peter Gabriel, Sacred Songs by Daryl Hall, and Exposure by Fripp himself with contributions from Gabriel & Hall. The three share a distinctly experimental approach rooted in Post-Punk and Progressive Rock, with emphasis on Fripp's tape-delay method of Frippertronics.
    • Second was the Drive to 1981, which encompassed the aforementioned Exposure plus Fripp's later solo projects God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners, The League of Gentlemen, and Let the Power Fall. These albums share a common focus on Frippertronics and "Discotronics," Fripp's experimental take on disco.
  • Peter Gabriel described So, Us, and Up as his "two-letter, single-syllable trilogy," with the albums sharing common themes of introspection, personal discovery, and mental health (So being euphoric, Us being therapeutic, and Up being traumatic).
  • King Crimson's '80s albums (Discipline, Beat, and Three of a Perfect Pair) make up the Incline to 1984, a trilogy of gamelan-inspired New Wave Music records. They were put together under the same lineup (an outlier for the Revolving Door Band), they feature shared cover art motifs, and they explore the boundaries between commercial accessibility and obtuse experimentation (with Discipline being experimental, Beat being accessible, and Three of a Perfect Pair having a different approach per side).
  • Trevor Dunn of Mr. Bungle wrote "Slowly Growing Deaf" for their self-titled album, then later "Carry Stress In The Jaw" and "Phlegmatics" for Disco Volante. Only after having written all three songs did he realize they shared particular themes (sleep, illness, and Body Horror), and thus decided they were part of a trilogy he called "Sleep". This is why the latter two tracks were subtitled "Sleep Part II" and "Sleep Part III", with "Slowly Growing Deaf" retroactively becoming Part I.
  • R.E.M. has two such instances:
    • Lifes Rich Pageant, Document, and Green form a trilogy of Protest Song-centric albums themed around the band's distaste towards the Ronald Reagan administration, with an overarching theme of Cold War disillusionment.
    • Up, Reveal, and Around the Sun represent the band's electronic trilogy, all being recorded with Pat McCarthy as producer and sharing themes of introspection and change (reflecting drummer Bill Berry's retirement prior to the making of Up).
  • Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock and frontman Mark Hollis' eponymous solo album collectively form a trilogy of Post-Rock albums rooted in experimental jazz, impressionist Classical Music, and ethnomusicology with heavily spiritual lyrics.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is essentially the whole point of settings in roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons. The creators of a setting define the basic feel of the world and some of the more important locations and people, but players then take their own characters through their own stories with no connection to those of other players, and often little connection even to the background. Everyone playing in, for example, the Forgotten Realms is effectively playing an independent thematic sequel to the backstory of that setting.
  • The Chronicles of Darkness games could be considered an example since all of them have horror elements (with the arguable exception of Mage: The Awakening) and take place in a darker version of the real world, but each of them is meant to be separate and self-contained unless the Storyteller chooses to interlink them (in contrast to the earlier World of Darkness games, where all the different varieties of supernaturals explicitly coexisted in the same world).

  • When William Shakespeare's plays were collected into the First Folio a few years after his death, his editors did their best to impose this trope: the plays are "The Comedies", "The Tragedies", and "The Histories", even though there's actually a lot of overlap between categories. (For example, Julius Caesar is at least as historically accurate as Richard III, but since it isn't about a non-mythical English king, into the Tragedies box it goes.) Later editors invented additional categories ("The Romances" is particularly popular) to keep the Thematic Series system going. That's right, folks: even when he wasn't deliberately using a trope, the Bard can still manage to fulfill The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples.

    Video Games 
  • The trilogy of Light Gun Rail Shooters based on the Alien franchise, consisting of Alien 3: The Gun in the early 90s, Aliens: Extermination over a decade later and Aliens: Armageddon after eight more years. All three games are standalone, set in an Alternate Universe, with the player(s) assuming the role of a Space Marine battling various Xenomorphs, and all of them ends with a bleak Bolivian Army Ending after the final stages.
  • Most of the Assassin's Creed games take place in different time periods, and share very few characters. The present day framing narrative, however, share many characters, including the "main" character for the first three/five games, at least. The overarching plot of the series (Assassins vs. Templars) is what really connects the games, not the actions of one assassin. note 
  • The Divine Divinity series dances around this trope. The second game was a direct sequel, but the rather misleadingly named third game was set long after and had no real connection to the previous games. Meanwhile Divinity: Original Sin is technically a distant prequel to the first game, while sort-of sequel Divinity: Original Sin II is set long after the previous game and actually forms more of a traditional sequel to the first two games. Divinity: Dragon Commander is set even further back than Original Sin and has even less of a connection to other games.
  • Zig-zagged with the Dragon Quest series. The first three games were a trilogy, and the next three games were another, albeit loosely connected and out-of-order, trilogy. Dragon Quest VII was the first entry to be completely standalone, and while some of the subsequent titles, like IX and X, followed suit, VIII seems to affirm the existence of a multiverse a la Final Fantasy with the endgame reveal that the Godbird Empyrea is Ramia, the legendary Everbird (and your party's means of aerial transportation) from III, having crossed dimensions (and no longer able to return to her home), whereas XI is set in the same world as the original trilogy, albeit in the distant past.
  • The Elder Scrolls series is arguably this. While the games all take place in the same world, each is set long after the last with no direct connection between them.
  • Each of the three entries in the Escape Velocity series uses the same mechanics (sprite graphics, lack of Space Friction resulting in Hit-and-Run Tactics and Air Jousting, etc.), but each one takes place in a different universe.
  • Each Fallout game takes place at a different time after the War, features different characters, and is almost always in a different location. The most common theme is the terrible consequences of war (War. War never changes), and some characters (MacCready, Dogmeat, etc.) and nations/organizations (the Brotherhood of Steel, the Enclave, the New California Republic, and so on) are carried over, but more often than not, the games are pretty separate and standalone.
  • Far Cry. None of the six main series installments share the same main characters and only a few secondary characters ever pop up in more than one of them, nor do they share a location. What they do share is several common themes, the most prominent being man's descent into savagery in a wild environment. Only a few of the DLC packs even used the same map, and it took until New Dawn before any of the Far Cry games received a direct narrative sequel, and even then it was after a long Time Skip, with a different main character from that of Far Cry 5.
  • The Final Fantasy series is mostly this, direct sequels aside:
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The series has, as of this writing*, eight different Verses (ten if one counts Heroes and Warriors, with Heroes itself featuring characters from crossover title Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE), each with their own characters, settings, mythologies, and plots. The MacGuffin in each universe is almost always the titular Fire Emblem, although it's called something completely different except for one line thrown in about how some people (who you'll never meet) call it the Fire Emblem.
    • On the other hand, Fire Emblem: Awakening seems to tie everything together. The game definitely takes in the same universe as the Archanea games (and Gaiden), but several thousand years later. From this, we can assume that the Jugdral games are also in the same universe due to Word of God and the presence of recurring character Naga (or at least a Naga) in the backstory of both settings. One downloadable character is a descendant of Ike from the Tellius games, and the DLC confirms that the remaining two verses (at the time of Awakening's release) exist at least as legends within that world, if not explicit history that just hasn't been placed yet (though the player's option to confirm to a spectral copy of Lyn that they are the same person as the tactician from her game possibly complicates any direct connections between Archanea/Ylisse and Elibe).
    • The following installment, Fire Emblem Fates, similarly has a DLC chapter where the Avatar of that game meets the original traveling party in Awakening of Chrom, Lissa, and Frederick shortly before they encounter their game's Avatar, with Hoshido and Nohr described as "mythical kingdoms."
    • Additionally, various titles starting with Awakening and Fates indicate that the Outrealm Gate and similar methods of transport allow characters to not just travel through time but across dimensions as well, a convention that implicitly comes into play with Heroes, the Cipher card game (by means of its characters crossing over into Shadows of Valentia), and Warriors.
    • Meanwhile, Fire Emblem Engage bears a certain similarity to mobile spin-off Heroes in that the new generation protagonist can team up with other heroes from series history, only this time a) the crossover aspect of the game is canonical and plot-important and b) it's the spirits of said FE heroes doing the assisting.
    • In short, while many installments are indeed meant to be standalone, Intelligent Systems is not above placing a greater emphasis on inter-title continuity either.
  • FromSoftware's "Soulsborne" series, consisting of Demon's Souls, the Dark Souls trilogy, Bloodborne, and Elden Ring. Though the series currently spans six games, four separate continuities, and two different publishersnote , all of the games do share certain recurring motifs and thematic elements, most notably the cyclical Eternal Recurrence of some cataclysmic event and the chance for the Player Character to make a single choice towards the end of the game that decides the outcome of said event and if/how the cycle should continue. Additionally...
  • The Grand Theft Auto series takes place across three different universes (called 2D, 3D, and HD respectively), with different generations having different city layouts, general setting, and characters.note  The games do have central themes regarding the life of criminals.
  • The Haunted Hotel series is effectively this, as it has no overarching storyline and only some of the games are connected to one another. Two of the games are completely standalone and have absolutely no relationship to any of the others. The only thing they all have in common is that the player character is investigating the events at a haunted hotel.
  • Hideki Kamiya's Viewtiful Joe, The Wonderful 101, and Project G.G. were confirmed to be a "Hero Trilogy" upon the announcement of the latter. All three games/game series are homages to superhero tropes (one man transforming into a hero, a team of heroes, and a giant hero), but aside from a few minor Viewtiful Joe cameos in Wonderful 101, they do not involve the same characters or story.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Zig-zagged. The main series is structured within a branching timeline, with Link and Zelda regularly reincarnating or having direct descendants. While some entries do share the same Link and Zelda (with most Links getting at least two games to their name), most installments are distant sequels/prequels to others and are disconnected narratively outside the franchise's broader mythology.
  • With the launch of Life Is Strange 2, the Life Is Strange series has become this. According to the the creators, a Life Is Strange game is "having a set of relatable characters, facing real-life issues in a world which is as close as possible to the real world just with a twist of some supernatural elements."
  • Few titles in the Mana Series by Squaresoft (later Square Enix) share direct continuity, but each includes a mythical sword that all other famous swords are based on (as in they are all the same sword, just known a different name in different eras). Each world commonly has its own Tree of Life known as the Mana Tree, and there are various espers guarding the elemental forces of the world (probably orbs).
  • Sierra's Phantasmagoria series was intended to be this: a series of otherwise unconnected adventure games in the horror genre. However, due to only two games being released in the series, this is not immediately clear, and it just looks like the first game got a completely unrelated sequel.
  • The Phantasy Star series can be cleanly split into four different "subseries", each with their own individual continuity and taking place in their own universe. While each subseries shares several themes and gimmicks (use of Photons and Techniques, recurring Eldritch Abomination Dark Falz, Science Fantasy setting), they share no direct connections to each other.
    • The original four games, commonly called the "tetralogy" or the "Classic" series, deals with the solar system of Algol and its residents' struggle to banish the evil of Dark Force once and for all.
    • Phantasy Star Online and its expansions (Episode II, Episode III, and Blue Burst) follow the exploits of Pioneer 2, who have arrived on the planet of Ragol following a disaster befalling Pioneer 1 and must uncover the planet's secrets.
    • Phantasy Star Universe, the Ambition of the Illumini expansion, and its direct sequels Phantasy Star Portable and Phantasy Star Portable 2 detail the story of the GUARDIANS, an elite military force of the Gurhal System, and their fight against the SEED virus plaguing the galaxy.
    • Phantasy Star Online 2, as well as its numerous spinoffs and indirect sequels, follow ARKS, an intergalactic military force dedicated to fighting the Falspawn, and their quest to save the universe from the threat of Dark Falz and its minions.
  • Quintet's Heaven/Earth series: ActRaiser, SoulBlazer, Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma, and The Granstream Saga all revolve around restoring a destroyed Earth and defeating the great evil that was responsible for destroying the earth, with the main character disappearing after his job is done. The games also contain similar thematic ideas about human beings, their connections to nature, the human soul, and resurrection.
  • The Science Adventure Series includes Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes, and all sequels and spin-offs. They all take place in the same world, and all of them deal with a group of characters taking down a conspiracy, but they rarely ever reference each other, and the main unifying factor is the Committee of 300.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Games under the Shin Megami Tensei label, including the main SMT series, and about a dozen other spinoffs, generally follow this pattern. Sometimes there are direct sequels, such as with SMT I and II, Digital Devil Saga, and the Raidou Kuzunoha series, but generally the only connections are demons and game mechanics, with possible themes of abuse of power and YHVH being a huge jerk.
    • Within the Persona subseries specifically, this is downplayed/averted to varying degrees. The first two Persona games and their paralogues avert the trope by being direct sequels. Persona 3 and 4 started off with separate stories and characters (with 3 being a Soft Reboot that only briefly makes mention of its predecessors), but they also ended up averting this trope through Persona 4: Arena, which continued the stories of the characters from both games. In all of the main games, characters and entities from previous installments either appear as cameos or are mentioned in passing/alluded to during the story, establishing the series being under a common universe/timeline. Each title also has its own Central Theme, and while there are numerous Recurring Elements found throughout the Persona games (particularly from 3 onward), the titles — though not outright contradictory — are not always 100% consistent on the underlying mechanics of the setting's supernatural/esoteric aspects, such as the origin and nature of Shadows. Naturally, this is something that's called to attention when the casts of P3, P4, and P5 get a chance to interact in the Persona Q duology.
    • A closer look at the greater cosmology of the series arguably paints Shin Megami Tensei as a zig-zag. A major event in Shin Megami Tensei I actually causes the timeline to splinter, with one branch leading to Shin Megami Tensei II (plus two or three other Alternate Timelines) and the other leading to Devil Summoner and Shin Megami Tensei if... (and Persona by proxy). Furthermore, the Raidou Kuzunoha duology may have erased the SMT I timeline by means of Cosmic Retcon, while Shin Megami Tensei IV and its follow-up appear to follow a revised/altered version of the Great Cataclysm. As such, despite the oftentimes loose narrative ties between sequels, this means a large portion of the series falls into (some permutation of) either branch, though there are more than a few notable exceptions. ex. Additionally, several games hint at or outright mention a multiverse and the Powers That Be, such as Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne offering insight about the universe's constant cycle of death and rebirth (with various exchanges suggesting this process takes place in every universe) or a DLC quest in Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse seeing the protagonist team up with (alternate versions of) the heroes from the preceding four mainline installments.
  • The Silent Hill series has had one continuous plot line across three games (Silent Hill 3 follows from Silent Hill while Origins precedes it), but otherwise all the games are different, self-contained stories that revolve around the eponymous town. Or don't revolve around it, for that matter, such as Silent Hill 4, which has the most tenuous connection to the other installments by far (it's based on a single document found in Silent Hill 2).
  • Suda51's "Kill the Past", which revolves around characters having to confront their past in order to move on from it. Uniquely, there is no official listing of what games are actually part of the series, leading to it being mainly pieced together by fans.
  • Super Robot Wars, provided an installment is not part of an overarching series such as Alpha, Z or Original Generation. All standalone titles feature different Humongous Mecha series (with some consistent examples), but all deal with Massively Multiplayer Crossover elements.
  • The Tales Series' main canon consists of, at present, seventeen games. Two of these are direct sequels to others (Destiny 2 and Xillia 2), while Symphonia and Berseria are distant prequels (which are sufficiently separate from Phantasia and Zestiria, the games they are prequels of, for the four stories to stand separately). All the rest are standalone stories with their own distinct worlds and timelines.
  • The Team ICO Series consists of ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, and The Last Guardian which are standalone games that take place in the same universe, share visuals and gameplay, and are all connected by the appearance of horns on certain characters, which mark them as sharing the blood of a god.
  • True Crime: Streets of LA zig-zagged this. Though it was intended to continue as a thematic series, due to Nick Kang's popularity with fans and developers, he was to be revisited in the installment following True Crime: New York City. But the series was cancelled, then later moved to another company and restarted as Spiritual Successor Sleeping Dogs (2012).
  • Xenoblade Chronicles:

  • Tales of Greed has seven stories that typically feature a societal underdog who comes across a life-changing magical technology and gets too greedy and suffers a karmic fate. "Neighbor's Toilet" and "Bully Controller" have happy endings, though.
  • Tales of the Unusual has a wide array of stories set in various time periods with different technological or supernatural gimmicks, but they all are as unusual as the title suggests. They also tend to follow a balanced karmic system where their endings are earned, good or bad, albeit with a twist.

    Web Original 
  • The Kindness of Devils is a series showing how All Myths Are True, and features the immortal Hardestadt Delac wandering the earth saving people from supernatural or mythical monsters, demons, devils, etc. While Nights in Lonesome Arkham and Under the Cold Moon expect you to know a few details from the previous (chronological) stories, they are still heavily self-contained with their own new plot and villains. Every other story in the series can be read in any order.
  • The Legatum series all takes place in the same universe and features the same lore, same countries, same mythical creatures, etc, with the primary theme being about how someone or a group of people will leave behind some kind of legacy, or how their actions will impact the setting and other characters around them. However, with the exception of a couple recurring characters, the series can be read in any order, as each one has its own set of characters and plot that manages to (mostly) stay self-contained.
  • The Tails Series takes place in a completely different galaxy mostly populated by a race of Beast Men and aliens coexisting with humans. Each story deals with the various races going through their own set of tribulations while trying to maintain peace. While the stories all take place in the same galaxy, they can be read in any order, since each story has its own self-contained plot and cast.