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Two Lines, No Waiting
aka: B Story

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Grandson: Grandpa, is this the same story?
Klaus: No, this is a little side-story. I'm using it to break up the main story so you don't get bored.
Grandson: Are we part of the story?
Klaus: Oh, no. We are a Framing Device.

Two narrative threads—or more—are woven together; two cases are prosecuted, two murders investigated, and so on. This allows a simple narrative structure to feel as if it has more variety. It gives the audience a break from one line and something to do in terms of recalling the events of the alternate line. The two stories may be about similar subjects, or one may be the usual fare (investigations, prosecutions) interleaved with character development that gives a sense of a Story Arc. Crime shows or films often feature parallel stories whose heroes turn out to be Working the Same Case.


Juggling two stories is common enough that writers frequently refer to the "A Story" and the "B Story". Three or more is quite a bit less common, at least in purely-episodic or limited-continuity shows.

If the B Story is clearly subservient to the A Story, it will usually be described as the "subplot". A common pattern on many series—sitcoms in particular—is that the same sets of characters will usually be segregated into "main plot" and "subplot" every week.

In arc-heavy fare, two or three recurring storylines may be hit along with one or two minor "breather" plotlines all at once. This just means less screen time for each plotline, which mean they all go on for more episodes, which means the viewers keep watching. This is common in Soaps, long-form dramas, and some Sci-Fi series.

If the A Story and B Story aren't juggled simultaneously, but are instead handled separately and tied together with an incredible chain of events, it's Halfway Plot Switch. If said chain of events is split over two time periods, it's Meanwhile, in the Future… or Flashback B-Plot. Often uses Plot Parallels to set up a Double Aesop.


A lighter version involves the protagonist's investigation running parallel to something more innocent. While the detective mom investigates the grisly subway killings, her kids investigate the mystery of the missing pizza slice. This allows for a freeze-framed laugh at the end when it's discovered the dog did it.note 

For a Soap Opera variation see Soap Wheel and Four Lines, All Waiting. Contrast Offstage Waiting Room. If one of the storylines seems utterly inconsequential compared to the other, you may have a case of Trapped by Mountain Lions. When a battle is starting in one storyline and the camera switches to another storyline, this is an example of a Charge-into-Combat Cut. See also Simultaneous Arcs, when the entirety of one arc is told before the next one gets told, but each one happens at the same time.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • .hack. In SIGN, there are a few characters who genuinely stick to a certain group. Sora and BT, Subaru and Silver Knight, and Mimiru and Bear (and later Tsukasa). The episode will shift focus between these groups, with some of the less trustworthy characters linking the stories.
  • Assassination Classroom: The main plot line of training and attempting to assassinate Koro-sensei is interwoven with the students dealing with various problems in their school and personal lives.
    • Korosensei himself, aside from the whole "destroy the planet in a year" thing, does not kill or significantly injure anyone, at least onscreen. Other assassins have no such restrictions, so they often take advantage of Korosensei's inability to retaliate by mercilessly abusing his desire to protect his students.
  • The Animated Adaptation of Asteroid in Love's Ishigaki arc is structured as this. On one hand, Mira and Ao participate at the Shiny Star Challenge on Ishigaki island, while the rest of the Earth Science Club plus its alumni goes to the club's annual summer camp, this time also at Tsukuba.
  • Baccano!: There are three main stories, each taking place a year apart (1930, 1931, 1932), as well as one in the 1700s. The clips from each of these are then mixed together throughout each episode, and you don't get to see the end of any of them until you finish the series. It's slightly less confusing than it sounds, as the clips usually begin by stating the year in which they occur. Usually. And those aren't even counting the flashbacks.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • The novel has Touma, Accelerator, and Shiage having their own crazy adventures in Academy City and later Russia. Volume 1 of "New Testament" is the first time all three of them meet at the same time.
    • Volume 5 of has its first half being about Accelerator meeting and later saving Last Order, at the cost of most of his own power, and the other half being about Touma facing two different Magic side villains in one day, while also trying to finish his homework in time. Volumes 17-19 also does the same, With 17 and 18 being about Touma in Great Britain and 19 being about Accelerator and Hamazura Shiage. And then there are Volumes 20-22, which cover the last day of World War III, with the focus being split between Touma, Shiage and Accelerator.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist is widely praised for this. Usually Ed and Al are followed in one plotline while Roy and his troops are followed in the second, but there are also tertiary plotlines about Scar, Winry and others.
  • The fourth and fifth episodes of Laid-Back Camp (corresponding with chapters six to eight of the manga) sees Rin and the Outdoors Activity Club camping at different locations. They keep in touch by means of text messages and share their experiences with one another.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes switches rapidly between two interplanetary superpowers and how individuals from both interact and how those interactions influence other interactions and so on.
  • The plot in Log Horizon eventually split into two stories, with the "A Story" focusing mainly on Shiroe and his dealings with the macro aspects of the setting and the "B Story" focusing on the beginner players and the micro aspects of the setting.
  • Often done in Lupin III. While a handful of TV episodes across all six series get these plots, the majority go to the TV movies due to their longer running times, where Lupin will be involved with one main heist while another of the main characters will be involved in a secondary B-plot that ultimately coincides with his plans. It's often Fujiko being involved in a scheme of her own, but secondary plots involving figures from Jigen's hitman past, Goemon honing his Implausible Fencing Powers, or Inspector Zenigata attempting to catch Lupin for good are also common.
  • MÄR's anime tried breaking up the War Game (read: Tournament Arc) with various filler. The problem is, most of this was right after Snow's kidnapping so it just ended up annoyingly prolonging both the tournament and her rescue.
  • For a good chunk of the series, Madlax's journey through the war in the Southeast-Asian (fictional) country of Gazth-Sonika (and later, bonding with Vanessa) is depicted as its own separate story, alternating with the other protagonist Margaret, accompanied by her maid Eleanor, in her search through the European (also fictional) country of Nafrece for her father and the meaning behind a strange book she has. Connections between the two different protagonists, countries, and plot lines start appearing as the show goes on, but it's not until the eighteenth and nineteenth episodes (in a 26 episode series) that the four characters finally meet each other and the two plots truly become one. And then The Reveal is that the two protagonists are a Literal Split Personality.
  • Naruto has an odd variation of this. It started as one plot, but when Sasuke jumps ship, the plot diverges into two main streams (with a third one that's mostly disconnected until recently when they've decided to taper back into one.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Best Wishes anime series has done this, with the Team Rocket trio occasionally stopping their usual pursuit of Ash's group and instead operating a long-term mission elsewhere. Their plotline progresses while Ash's does, and eventually the two merge together for a finish.
    • Ash doesn't meet Dawn and Serena right away in the Sinnoh and Kalos arcs respectively. The first few episodes of each partially focus on the start of the girls' journeys.
  • Seigi no Mikata is the story of two sisters. The younger, Youko, is constantly tormented by the elder, Makiko, whose actions have been preventing Youko from hooking up with the boy she has a crush on. But then it turns out that all of Makiko's actions affect those around her in unexpected ways, which we see in detail, and all of which are far more interesting.
  • The first half of Transformers Cybertron deftly juggled three plot threads at once, varying the focus each one received. The first introduced was the search for the Omega Lock on Earth. After a few episodes, they discovered the location of the first Cyber Planet Key on Velocitron, which led to a secondary thread about Hot Shot and Red Alert competing in a series of races to try and win it. Some time later, a third thread was introduced when the second Key was traced to Jungle Planet, and Overhaul was sent to retrieve it from Scourge. Meanwhile, the Omega Lock was found, the race was won, and finally Scourge defeated, leading up to the more linear but still exciting second half of the series.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:

  • 52 was an enormous critical and financial success as it utilized at least seven lines with no waiting. Featuring several different "main" characters, each character had their own plot throughout the series which would occasionally cross over into other characters' plot-lines. These stories ranged from personal, character-driven issues (such as Ralph Dibny's personal quest to bring his wife back from the dead) to large-scale, grandiose events (like Black Adam's alliance with, and then struggle against, superpowered groups throughout the world), and some were not connected to the other stories in any way (like Animal Man, Starfire, and Adam Strange struggling to get back to Earth from across the galaxy). One of the points credited to 52's success was its ability to make all these unconnected stories mesh together and complement one another, avoiding Four Lines, All Waiting.
  • A Finnish comic novel named "OM" did this in a decidedly Mind Screwy way. The A Story (or at least the one it opened on), being the adventures of the eponymous samurai rabbit, was interrupted abruptly by the B-story of the surreal Just for Pun adventures of "li'l Piggybear". The B-story, in turn, was ostensibly the dreams of one of the characters in the C Story, a real-world relationship drama. The connection (if any) between the stories was never in any adequate way explained, giving the comic an overarching "what the... ?" -kind of feel. Ostensibly, the C Story, which was introduced last, could be seen as the "main" story, but that is all open to interpretation... It could just as well have been All Just a Dream of the samurai protagonist who was, if memory serves correctly, mortally wounded at the time.
  • Infinity follows both an Enemy Mine alliance including the bulk of the Avengers fighting off an invasion by the multidimensional Builders, and the remaining heroes defending Earth and the Infinity Gems from Thanos.
  • The Batman storyline "Leaves of Grass" has an A-plot about Batman trying to stop Floronic Man from getting everybody in Gotham high on super-marijuana (also Poison Ivy's there). The B-plot follows Tim Drake, the current Robin, as he tries to keep a friend of his from smoking marijuana and dealing with the fallout when his friend doesn't listen.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Shattered Grid, the storyline expertly uses both Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios) and Go Go Power Rangers to use this trope as Mighty Morphin' deals with the Rangers dealing with Lord Drakkon's multiversal invasion of Ranger eras and the fallout of Tommy Oliver's death while Go Go deals with the Rangers of an earlier point in history dealing with Ranger Slayer while learning more of her backstory.

     Fan Works 
  • Comic Book SNAFU has two plots: one about Hawkeye and Batman battling Hawkeye's Arch-Enemy Crossfire and his team of villains, and another about Aki Izayoi and Gajeel Redfox on the run from the 'World Counter-Terrorism Agency'.
  • With Strings Attached tells two parallel stories: that of the four and their adventures on a variety of worlds, and that of the Fans who put them in this situation and who are watching/commenting on/empowering/manipulating them. The two lines are semi-separate (the Fans are aware of the four, but not vice-versa) until the end of the Second Movement, when the Fans speak directly to the four for the first time. The threads intersect a few more times in the book but mostly remain separate. There are also several chapters, notably the New Zork chapter, where the four get split up and have individual adventures, or which focus on only one of the four.
  • Pink Personal Hell And Altering Fate alternates between an Odd Couple story in our world and a Slice of Life story in Ponyville. In fact, it's confirmed to be a Shout-Out to Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World with different narratives using The same protagonist and having different narratives. This way, it gives the impression of Nickel Steel mentally reliving the events of his "Pink Personal Hell."
  • The third My Hostage Not Yours story is split pretty evenly between Zim and Gaz's efforts to conquer Earth, and Dib (and later Tak)'s efforts to stop them.
  • Crystal Robot's Invader Zim fanfiction starts off with a simple Love Triangle plot surrounding Zim, Dib, and Casie (Zim's OC sister). The plots split when Dib becomes pregnant by Zim, and Casie becomes the Yandere. At that point, the major ark revolves around a bunch of OC's (and Gaz) trying to defeat Casie and a group of evil Doppelgangers, while the the ark surrounding Dib's pregnancy and his developing relationship with Zim plays in the background.
  • Guilty Sparks is a Halo/Mass Effect crossover split between the Normandy crew getting involved in the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, while a major B plot involves Liara investigating Covenant infiltration of the Mass Effect universe.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan fiction Our True Colors uses this technique to simultaneously tell the story of Scootaloo's present and Pinkie Pie's past.
  • The Captain America: The Winter Soldier fanfic Out of the Dead Land intertwines the psychological drama of the Winter Soldier/Bucky's identity issues and relationship with Steve with the action/mystery drama of evil robot duplicates attempting to hijack the Avengers' identities, with a lot of thematic overlap between the two.
  • RainbowDoubleDash describes his work Magic Tutor as having an "A" plot (Trixie's attempts to teach the foals of Ponyville magic) and an "E" plot (Twilight beginning her community service), which partway through merge into an AE plot (Twilight helps Trixie with the magic tutoring).
  • Zootopia: Death Becomes You: The story uses this device as its sole plot mechanic to flash back and forth between past and present timelines while throwing in a healthy dose of random timeline events to shake things up. This helps keep some light-heartedness intact within the story while still building the tension and suspense that leads up to the grim circumstances we find Zootopia at the end of chapter 1. It utilizes this style well to hold back on important plot twists and reveals until just the right moment in the story where it makes the most impact on both timelines.
  • The PreDespair Kids: There are a lot of story arcs going on at the same time, ranging from personal quests to investigations to just people goofing around. While there are times where they can feel like three or four lines, or just end abruptly note , the author, Mod J, is fortunately pretty good about keeping things moving and answering questions at the same time without everything devolving into a Kudzu Plot.
  • Child of the Storm does this during the Bloody Hell arc of the sequel, Ghosts of the Past. It is evenly split between this verse's take on the Dresden Files book Dead Beat (which sees Voldemort, Selene, Magneto and Wanda Maximoff getting involved in the fight for control of the Darkhallow), and another plot line focused on Harry and a group of allies trying to stop Dracula and his Grey Court from ritually draining Carol's blood in order to become immune to sunlight.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan comic Age (In)appropriate has two plots. One follows Spike's actions and the other one revolves around Luna trying to keep Twilight "busy".
  • Of State, a Crossover between How to Train Your Dragon and Frozen, alternates between telling two different stories that are happening simultaneously. Most of the chapters are split in half, with one half focusing on characters from HTTYD and the other half focusing on Frozen's characters:
    • Plot A is a dramatic Dark/War Fic focusing on Hiccup as he establishes his new Viking kingdom and defeats the remnants of Drago's army. The storyline also focuses on Hiccup's inner struggles caused by the deaths of Astrid and his father.
    • Plot B is a comparatively lighthearted Slice of Life which focuses on the day-to-day lives of Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff as Arendelle prepares for a possible war with the Vikings.
  • A New World on her Shoulders is divided into two stories, each one taking up half a chapter. The first half of each chapter is always centered on Atlas and team SCRP, while the second half focuses on Beacon and team VYBA.
  • In Spark to Spark, Dust to Dust, each chapter switches between Yang working with the Autobots and Team Rainbow (RWB+JNPR) investigating on their own.
  • In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, Chloe's adventures throughout the Infinity Train are swapped with her friends and family worried about her sudden disappearance.

  • 2:37: The events of the school day—leading up to the suicide at 2:37 p.m.—are shown from the viewpoint of six different students, whose stories overlap and intersect fairly often.
  • Woody Allen has done these a few times in two of his highest regarded movies. Crimes and Misdemeanors has a straight example with the two storylines being distinct and only crossing paths rarely, while Hannah and Her Sisters follows several character arcs with a lot of interaction between them.
  • Cloud Atlas has *six* lines, across different eras in the past, present, and future.
  • Digimon the Movie. In Japan, it was two short OVAs about the original cast and one longer movie about the season two newcomers. To make it a theatrical feature after the first season and an introduction to said newcomers, a bit of narration was used for Arc Welding, and Diaboromon and Kokomon were said to be affected by the same virus, and given the same voice actor and a couple catchphrases in common. ("Don't interfere!" "Go back to the beginning..") Connecting Diaboromon to the Willis thing actually made Diaboromon a much more sympathetic character than the original Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, but the longer Digimon Adventure 02 really loses a great deal of plot.
  • The Face of Another has an A-story in which a man dons a Latex Perfection mask after is face is destroyed in an industrial accident, and a B-story in which a nurse suffers from loneliness and isolation due to a terrible scar on her face. The two stories never intersect. In the source novel, the nurse's story was a movie which the faceless man went to see.
  • Gangs of New York: Plot "A" is the whole bunch of Hamlet-esque shenanigans involving Amsterdam Vallon and William Cutting, and the path to them getting in a climactic gang fight for the power of the Five Points and revenge. Plot "B" are the increasing societal disturbances involving the Civil War, Union Army drafting, and the haves stepping on the have-nots (mostly because the "haves" can dodge the draft). The climax is Plot "B" erupting in the 1863 New York Draft Riots and devastating a good chunk of the city while the gangs go to war finally... and the "B" Plot pretty much overtakes the "A" Plot because the Army starts massacring people to try to placate the riot, including the aforementioned gangs. Amsterdam manages to get his revenge, but it is by giving Bill a Mercy Kill (because he's been fatally wounded by the aforementioned massacring), which leaves him feeling pretty empty.
  • The first two thirds of G.I. Joe: Retaliation consists of two separate plots — Snake-Eyes and Jinx pursuing Storm Shadow, and the surviving Joes' attempt to figure out the circumstances of their ambush.
  • The Godfather Part II does this by jumping between Vito Corleone fleeing Italy and building his empire in America in the past and his son Michael Corleone managing his Las Vegas empire in the present. However, this is subverted in the made-for-TV Godfather Saga, which simply showed all the scenes from both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II in chronological order.
  • 2006's The Holiday stands out because either of the two plots could have stood alone as a mildly-amusing single-story film.
  • Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds actually follows two storylines, Shosanna Dreyfus staging a massacre at her movie theater hoping to kill the nazi leader, and the Basterd's efforts in trying to assassinate Hitler. the third act involves the Basterds attending said event and killing the nazi's before the bombs go off.
  • The Killer That Stalked New York, a 1950 film Very Loosely Based on the 1947 New York City smallpox outbreak. The main plot focuses on the smallpox outbreak in New York City and the authorities trying to contain it, with a subplot focusing on (fictional) Patient Zero Sheila Bennet's personal life, with diamond smuggling, infidelity, and revenge.
  • Most of Kingsman: The Secret Service is divided between the training for the next Lancelot and Harry's investigation on Valentine. The two storylines merge for the climax.
  • The second and third movies in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The original books involve two storylines in the first half of each volume, Peter Jackson merges them, not always keeping time with when each happens in relation to the other.
  • The Nut Job has two plot threads: Surly the squirrel's attempts to steal from a nut store, and several human characters' attempts to break into a bank.
  • Pan's Labyrinth had the "Ofelia's Tasks" plot and the "Resistance Against Fascists" plot, which intersected towards the end because the head of said fascists is Ofelia's step-father.
  • Requiem for a Dream does this. The four stories are initially linked as the girlfriend, friend, and mother of Harry Goldfarb, although they all eventually branch off into their own, primarily unrelated tales. They are still somewhat linked, but for the most part they've gone their own ways.
  • All of the movies in the Saw series (except the first) fit this structure. Line A is mostly about the plot/suspense, while Line B is more about horror/Gorn. The movie jumps to Line A whenever something Gorntastic happens in Line B. It jumps to Line B after some plot development resolves in Line A. Some of the movies spend more time in Line A (Saw V) and some spend more time in Line B (Saw III), which directly relates to how gory a given installment is. These plots always meet up in some fashion at the end. details 
  • For most of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the film follows two separate storylines, one devoted to Luke learning the ways of the Jedi from Yoda and the other devoted to Han and Leia's attempts to evade the Empire. Attack of the Clones, the second installment of the prequel trilogy, also followed this structure, focusing on Obi Wan in his search for the bounty hunter that hired an assassin to kill Amidala, as well as Anakin's mission to keep Amidala safe. Finally, The Last Jedi followed Rey being trained in the ways of the Force by Luke Skywalker, while Poe, Finn, and newcomer Rose decide to go against the orders of the Resistance's seemingly Obstructive Bureaucrat by trying to defeat the First Order's fleet from the inside.
  • Buster Keaton did this with his first feature-length film Three Ages, using three stories set in prehistoric times, during the Roman Empire, and in 1920s America, so in case it flopped as a feature, it could be edited into three short subjects.


  • Clive Cussler:
    • The Kurt Austin series do this. Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala are plot A, Paul Trout and his wife Gamay Morgan-Trout are Plot B. Then because of various reasons there will be parts where Austin will work with Trout while Zavala and Gamay work together. Which gets humorous when Kurt and Paul have to sneak around because Trout is nearly 7-feet tall.
    • Sahara has two plots running side by side, interlinking with each other. It eventually then focuses exclusively on one, with the other only coming back just when the audience has forgotten about it.
  • Peter F. Hamilton does this quite a bit. His Commonwealth Saga follows something like seven plots all at once, and they'd each be enough for a book of their own. The Night's Dawn Trilogy has three major plots going at once. There's a reason his books are so thick.

  • Several Discworld novels feature two parallel plotlines that occasionally interact, finally uniting near the end, for example Reaper Man (Death's retirement and Windle Poons's "afterlife", with slightly different typefaces to distinguish them) and Hogfather (Death taking the Hogfather's role; Susan stopping Teatime).
  • Author Haruki Murakami is good at this.
    • His earlier novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World was, as the title suggests, two separate stories. One is a cyberpunk neo-noir thriller (Wonderland) and the other is a magical fantasy (End of the World). The two stories have the same protagonist, though - and they can't both have happy endings.
    • The Mind Screw book Kafka on the Shore features two completely different stories alternating every chapter. The odd numbered chapters have a mostly realistic (at least until the end) story of a teenage runaway, and the even numbered ones are about a guy who can talk to cats and is convinced he has to fulfill some destiny to keep evil from taking over the world. The two stories impact on each other from time to time without ever quite intersecting.
  • Neal Stephenson is especially fond of this trope. Nearly all of them feature at least 2 plots, although they almost always intersect by the end.
    • Cryptonomicon, for example, has a plot following Lawrence Waterhouse and Alan Turing breaking Axis cyphers in 1942, Bobby Shaftoe in service at the Navy around the same years, and Randy Waterhouse setting up a business operation in the present.
    • The Confusion deserves special mention for being presented as two separate novels mixed (or "confused") together (the other volumes in The Baroque Cycle contain three books, but present them one at a time). Both novels have a couple of strands to them.
    • Snow Crash has Hiro Protagonist and YT as major viewpoint characters. They work together and spend much of their time together, but during the story have completely separate conflicts. It turns out that they are heading towards the same plot climax, but from two completely different directions.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In the first book, it starts with three plots - basically one following Eddard Stark, one following Jon Snow, and the third following Daenerys. Over the course of the first book the characters end up getting really spread out and by the second book there are a huge number of interwoven plots, plus Daenerys who has spawned no other point of view characters and has really had minimal interaction with the rest of the cast. The plot is incredibly convoluted with dozens of characters and more than a dozen different point of view characters. Of course, given that Daenerys has gotten so much time, and yet is on the other side of an ocean, we all know something very important is going to happen with her in the last book...
    • Daenerys is an odd example, because the actions the characters on Westeros actually have a constant impact on her life—it just sometimes takes a while to cross the ocean and get to her. The first example that springs to mind would be the time Robert Baratheon sent an assassin after her, after hearing about her marriage to Khal Drogo. And by the time the assassin and Dany meet, King Robert (and Khal Drogo) were already dead.
    • It looks like Dany might be moving into the main plotline, or the main plotline might be moving to Daenerys—preview chapters from the next book strongly indicate that she'll be joining forces with Tyrion Lannister in the future.
  • The Wheel of Time the later books fragment into several plotlines. One book in fact is Book B to the previous. This either creates a vivid, appealing world or makes the books hopelessly convoluted, depending on the reader.

  • Mercedes Lackey - in her Mage Storms trilogy, the main plot gets interwoven with machiavellian scheming in a distant and uber-powerful empire. The B plot gives the readers insight into one of the major characters as well as answering several questions that any smart reader would be asking and couldn't be properly answered any other way. Same goes with The Obsidian Trilogy, which has the main plot with the main characters and another equally important plot happening back in the city.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen does this with around 4-5 lines. Book 2 and 3 even happened at exactly the same time.
  • Sandy Mitchell's Warhammer 40,000 novel Scourge The Heretic breaks into two infiltration plots: One for the smugglers, one for the Chaos cult.
  • The defining characteristic of the Victorian multiplot novel. For example:
  • After the first book, The Lord of the Rings breaks down into two stories for most of its run: Frodo & Sam on one hand, and the rest of the Fellowship on the other. Even then, there are sub-divisions in the rest of the first book for a good deal of the time, such as the two views of the march of the Uruk-hai—one from Merry & Pippin, the other from Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. The early parts of the third book, "The Return of the King", fragment this a little more, as we get separate views on Pippin & Gandalf in Minas Tirith, Merry with the Rohirrim, and Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli on the Paths of the Dead. All this is in addition to Frodo & Sam's part of the story, which eventually leads to the re-merging of the disparate threads.
  • The Swallows and Amazons series of children's novels by Arthur Ransome follows several families of children who only meet in their school holidays. After the fifth book in the series (Coot Club), there are often two plots running concurrently in different novels, and the characters even send postcards to friends who don't appear. The thirteenth book would have united characters who had never met, but Ransome never finished it.
  • The latter half of Dark Lord of Derkholm ping-pongs between the adventures of Derk and those of his children, Blade, Shona, and Kit, as they lead a party through the "game."
  • Older Than Feudalism: The Odyssey has Odysseus attempting to get home, and Odysseus's son Telemachos's attempts to find his father.
  • In Mike Lee's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Fallen Angels, Nemiel's and Zahariel's stories.
  • Timothy Zahn does this all the time in his Star Wars Expanded Universe and Legends novels. All of his many protagonists have plotlines that weave and diverge and intersect and merge constantly. In Allegiance, chosen for an example because it has a smaller cast, the plotlines belong to Mara Jade and her mission to follow a pirate/corrupt Imperial connection, Daric LaRone and the Hand of Judgment with their efforts to do good and figure out what to do next, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo fumbling with Han's reservations about the Rebellion while on a mission, Leia Organa and her quest to keep bits of the Rebellion together, Villim Disra's gambit to get more power, and Captain Ozzel with his increasingly desperate attempts to hide the fact that five stormtroopers defected from his ship. And all of these plotlines forms its own narrative, but is related somehow to all of the others. They rarely get forgotten, either. Zahn's awesome like that.
  • The multi-author Fate of the Jedi series. It's loosely based on The Odyssey, with Luke and his son exploring strange places and meeting exotic force-using organizations. But, there's also a murder trial, a power struggle between the government and the Jedi Order, a conspiracy right out of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, a little girl Chosen One who gets into trouble, and a big sub-plot about slavery. Each book shows some Jedi falling into a paranoid psychosis and causing trouble. Can you remember all of these?... Well, the authors have ignored the investigation into Jacen for a new plot involving an Eldritch Abomination for several books (though they still visit strange places/groups), and a group of Jedi got sent out to fight slavery, only to be ignored the next book.
  • Holes, by Louis Sachar, alternates between the story of Stanley Yelnats' life at Camp Green Lake, the story of Stanley's "pig-stealing" great-great-grandfather Elya, and the story of schoolteacher Kate Barlow in the Old West town of Green Lake and how she became a feared outlaw. The connections between the three stories become ever clearer throughout the book.
  • Brandon Sanderson:
    • Mistborn: The first book starts with Kelsier, Vin, and Elend as viewpoint characters. When their plots diverge, each of them tends to be given a chapter at a time, which helps things move smoothly along. The even spread of viewpoints chapter-by-chapter becomes very noticeable by book three when several secondary characters have become viewpoint characters and they all have their own plots.
    • The Stormlight Archive also does this. Kaladin, Shallan and Dalinar are the main characters for the first 3 books (the ones published so far), and each book has them pursuing their own plot lines with significantly more intersections as time goes on. Several side characters like Szeth and Lift also have their own plot lines that get less focus but still weave into the overall narrative.
  • It's SOP for Nancy Drew books to start with two seemingly unrelated mysteries that turn out to be the same thing by the end of the story.
  • Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, has two plots like this. The first tells of Aleksandar Ferdinand, who is on the run after the assassination of his father, Franz Ferdinand. The second is about Deryn Sharp, a girl who dresses like a boy to get into the British Air Service. About 2/3 through the book, their two stories intersect when the Leviathan crashes on the glacier outside of Alek's bolt hole bolt castle, he goes down to help, and is put into custody.
  • Ken MacLeod has used this, most notably in The Sky Road and The Stone Canal, two novels in his Fall Revolution series. He was also credited by his friend Iain Banks for suggesting it as a way of bringing together the various ideas and storylines that became Use of Weapons.
  • The story in Nick Hornby's About a Boy is told alternately by the two Protagonists, at the beginning of the book both plots are separated, as the story proceeds they get somewhat mixed up a little, owing to the time they spend together.
  • InterWorld gets a bit weird about this. The book is divided into two halves. The first half is about a guy by the name of Tom Dunjer searching for a sample of something called linzetium, which has been stolen. It's mostly pretty sensibly laid out, except that at the end of each chapter, there's a section in ALL CAPS from the point of view of Klox, a robot who starts off not knowing where he is or what he's doing. At some point in the second half, Dunjer meets Klox. After that, chapters start alternating between those following Dunjer, and some written in italics, told from the point of view of another Dunjer in a Parallel Universe. Both the Dunjer and alt-Dunjer chapters still include the Klox sections at the end. The final chapter constantly switches between the Dunjer and alt-Dunjer sections, with the Klox section running along on another trajectory which intersects with both.
  • Ragtime features three families living in the early 20th century. While each has its own story ranging from following the American Dream to avenging your baby mama's death through terrorism to adjusting to the New Music, they find themselves interacting to an almost ridiculous degree, in an amount of detail that would make J. R. R. Tolkien envious. At the end the surviving main characters become one family.
  • Spock's World alternates between a history of Vulcan and the present as the heroes try to stop the planet from seceding.
  • Several of Jane Austen's novels have this. Sense and Sensibility has Elinor and Marianne as the main characters. Each sister has her own plot.
  • Eastern Standard Tribe has two converging storylines that mix with How We Got Here.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born", Valerius and La Résistance; Conan himself; and Salome, the Big Bad.
  • Ian Irvine's The Three Worlds Cycle does this regularly. The first book, A Shadow On The Glass, opens with two separate plot threads from Karan and Llian, which later converge, and over the course of the quartet the action often switches between different characters in different places, who tend to come together for the final events of each book only to separate again in the next one. It all comes to a head with the third series, the Song Of The Tears trilogy, where all the keysurvivng players from the entire series join forces to deal with the overarching threat.
  • Jonathan Safran Foer gets a lot of mileage out of this practice.
    • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close alternates between Oskar's journey to cope with his father's death and letters from Oskar's grandparents detailing how they met and their eventual separation.
    • Everything Is Illuminated provides 50% more threading. There are 2 plotlines - the protagonist's search for his ancestral home in the Ukraine and his grandfather's life and escape from there - but the first thread is narrated in turns by the protagonist himself and by his tour guide.
  • Spider Robinson's Mindkiller has two plotlines, told in alternating chapters — odd-numbered chapters are in third-person, through the eyes of college professor Norman Kent, and even-numbered chapters are told in first-person by Army-vet-turned-techie-burglar Joe Templeton. It's not until at least two-thirds of the way through the story that it's made explicit that the book has only one POV character.
  • Watchers Of The Throne follows three characters: Aleya, on a mission to reach Terra and seek revenge for her fallen sisters; Valerian, who has to deal with riots and unrest on Terra; and the Imperial Chancellor, who tries to navigate the byzantine Imperial politics.
  • For the the first two books of The New Prophecy, the second arc of Warrior Cats, the point of view switches between Leafpaw, a medicine cat apprentice watching as the forest crumbles around her, and one of the six journeying cats, who are on a quest to find a way to save the forest.
  • Sharyn McCrumb's Ballad novels typically have one plot following the investigations of Sheriff Spencer Arrowood in the present, and a parallel case from the past which is connected in some fashion.
  • The Rift War Cycle's first book Magician. by Raymond E Feist. Has no less than separate plots following 3 major plot lines and 2 secondary plotlines. Primarily, Pug, Tomas, Arutha's main lines. Carline, Roland and Martin. making up subplots but relating to the over all story. Further books in the series extend this further.
  • Principles of Angels by Jaine Fenn shows us Kesh City from two viewpoints; a street kid who wants revenge for his mother's death and a musician who's visiting the city from elsewhere, on a reluctant mission for aliens. The perspectives start off in alternating chapters, and while it quickly becomes clear there are definite connections ( Taro's mother's killer is the bodyguard of Elarn's only apparent friend on Kesh), we don't realise how linked their missions are until the Wham Line at the end of Chapter 19. Starting in Chapter 22, the storylines start coalescing, although Taro and Elarn only meet briefly near the end.
  • In Poul Anderson's After Doomsday, two separate ships, one of men and one of women, try to survive after the Earth's destruction — and find other humans to reproduce with.
  • In Welcome to Night Vale: Diane is trying to find her missing co-worker Evan, and Jackie is trying to learn more about King City. Their stories seem unrelated at first until they discover Evan is from King City about halfway through the book, before then Diane and Jackie are unaware of each other's mission.
  • The novels in Amitav Ghosh's Ibis Trilogy, set during the early 1830s, cut between five or six plots running simultaneously in different countries. All of them come together in the end.
  • In Empire from the Ashes book three Heirs of Empire the story alternates between Emperor Colin and his wife facing a dangerous plot on Earth and their kids trying to survive on a remote planet Pardal.
  • In the Imminent Danger And How To Fly Straight Into It series, the second book, Chasing Nonconformity, is structured like this. The main plot continues to follow Eris and Varrin as they evade authorities and attempt to recover their ship, however a second plot emerges in the form of Trystan and Sebara's attempts to track them down.
  • The Obituary Writer centers around the lives of two women: Claire Fontaine in The '60s and Vivien Lowe in 1919. These narratives are interconnected by the shared themes of grief, guilt, love, and loss. As well as the eventual revelation that Claire's mother-in-law Birdy is Vivien.
  • Agatha Christie's The Clocks features two concurrent plot threads: one involving the murder of an unknown man, and one about espionage. However, the two cases barely have any connection to each other, aside from the fact that they take place in the same location.
  • Each of the Gentleman Bastard books intercuts the present storyline with a second storyline of flashbacks to the Bastards' upbringing that relates in some way.
  • Philip K. Dick tended to do this - in his last interview he flat-out says he usually makes two outlines for every novel, then slams them together.
  • Beautiful Losers flips back and forth between the disjointed story of the narrator and his relationship with F. and his wife in the midst of the Quebec separatist movement in the 1960's, and the story of the life of Katherine Tekakwitha, a 17th century Iroquois saint.
  • Philip Wylie's 1951 novel The Disappearance begins with all the females on Earth simply vanishing. In a parallel Earth, all the males vanished. The novel alternates between describing how the world continues without women, and without men.
  • Most Redwall novels involve multiple, interwoven plots. Salamandastron and The Long Patrol are possibly the most convoluted in this respect.
  • All of the Out of Position novels have Dev and Lee's subplots affecting one another. In the first two books, whatever Dev did usually affected Lee's storyline; the following books reversed this, and everything Lee did (especially regarding Vince King's suicide) affected Dev.
  • Terry Brooks almost always does this in his Shannara books, when the parties split. Normally one half fights some epic but largely mundane battle, while the other party (with the main protagonist) goes off to kill the Big Bad. This is probably in deliberate imitation of LOTR.

    Live Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun usually goes with an A-story centering on Dick and a B-story featuring another character.
  • Perfected by 24. After all, it is the Trope Namer for Trapped by Mountain Lions.
  • Angel:
    • Season 2 indulged in this a fair amount midway through its run, as Angel would fire Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn from Angel Investigations so he could fight off Wolfram & Hart, Darla, and Drusilla by himself without being tethered down by their objections to his underhandedness. As a result, several episodes feature plots of Angel dealing with whatever the law firm had planned while Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn continued to help the helpless without him, with the two groups rarely intersecting outside of a single scene at a time. This is rectified in "Epiphany" when Angel realizes that he had been going at things in the wrong way and sets out to make amends with his friends.
    • The latter portion of Season 3 would dip into this after Wesley gets kicked out of the group for stealing Connor, with much of his screentime spent on the developing relationship between him and Lilah Morgan. He begins to interact with the group again at points in Season 4 (as seen when he rescues Angel from the bottom of the ocean or helps Fred in her vendetta against her old professor) before he rejoins the team officially midway through the season.
  • Awake does this as part of the show's premise: the main detective character lives in two realities that constantly react to each other. Thus whenever he starts a case in one reality, another case (somehow linked to the first one) starts in the other, resulting in at least two plotlines per episode.
  • Babylon 5: This trope was so prevalent on the show that episodes with only one plot line really stand out, whereas at times the viewer could get up to an F plot to keep track of. One big example of a single plot episode is the fourth season episode "Intersections in Real Time," which focused exclusively on Sheridan being tortured by EarthForce.
  • Battlestar Galactica always has at least three storylines, and sometimes as many as five.
  • The Big Bang Theory: After Amy and Bernadette joined the cast, there were several episodes that featured one storyline for the men and one for the women with little if any overlap.
  • This became the standard for Blake's 7. With several main characters the writers needed to find something for all of them to do, and so the plot would often split up into two lines: the first for the ones who make planetfall Down There, and the other for the ones who run into trouble Up There on the Liberator (and later on Scorpio).
  • Happened quite a lot in Boston Legal, as different characters are taking different cases, usually with one case being the serious one with a Character Filibuster or Author Filibuster in it, and the other case being the slightly light-hearted one (usually involved Denny Crane).
  • In Boy Meets World, most episodes had an A plotline with Cory, Shawn and Topanga and a B plotline with Eric (and Jack starting in season 5 and Rachel starting in season 6), though this varied a good bit. In many of the later season episodes one plotline was serious while one was comedic.
    • In Girl Meets World, the A plot is about Riley, Maya, Farkle, and Lucas and the B plot about Topanga and Auggie; Cory could be in either one or both.
  • Burn Notice does this in practically every single episode. One storyline will involve tracking down the people who burned Michael or, in season 5 whoever framed him for murder. This will invariably bring Michael one step closer, but won't result in a major development unless the episode is a season finale. The other will be generally involve saving an innocent victim from the Monster of the Week. Seriously, this formula is used so consistently, one has to wonder how none of the characters ever seem to notice that its happening.
  • Castle has this as well. The A Story centers around the crime drama, and the B Story centers around Richard Castle's family drama.
  • Very common in Chuck - the A story revolved around Chuck, Sarah and Casey, while the B story revolved around Chuck's friends at Buy More.
  • Most episodes of The Closer have the investigation as the A plot and something involving Johnson's personal life as the B plot. Usually they're tied together thematically and/or the B plot provides the weekly "Eureka!" Moment. In addition, the B plots often stretch for more than one episode.
  • Community sometimes has subplots spanning every member of the study group. If there are two friends in an A plot (say Jeff and Britta), some of the other members (Abed and Troy for example) will have a B plot together.
  • Corner Gas:
    • The series has two or three storylines per episode, which is merely one of the reasons it's often compared to Seinfeld. Its larger main cast (more than four) divides up pretty evenly among the storylines. This is most interesting when the divvying of the storylines doesn't happen according to the common pattern (the two police officers, the old married couple, the gas station workers—Hank functions as a wildcard, who may have his own storyline like a Good Hair Day).
    • "The Littlest Yarbo" where Hank discusses his plot, and Brent randomly starts talking about his own:
      Hank: Maybe The Littlest Hobo was the first ever reality show, did you ever think of that?
      Brent: Hold on here! If I can see my logo, then her logo is on the outside all the while giving her free advertising!
      Wanda: Come on, guys! I can only handle one weird obsession at a time!
  • Lampshaded on Cougar Town which usually sticks to A and B-plots but occasionally works in a C as well. When they are trying to think of a name for Bobby's (landlocked) boat, one suggestion is The Sea Story because "everything that happens on this boat is kind of a sea story".
  • Criminal Minds has done this on a few occasions, most notably in "Damaged" when the main story saw Morgan, Prentiss and JJ help Rossi solve his cold case, with the "B" story featuring Hotch and Reid interview a serial killer looking for a way to stave off execution.
  • This device is used in the various CSI shows (although much more often in the original than the spinoffs), and others in the current crop. Occasionally the characters will find out halfway through the episode that the crimes they are investigating are tied together. Some episodes pull this off better than others.
  • Season 2 of Daredevil is pretty evenly split between the Punisher and Elektra storylines.
  • The Canadian drama series Da Vinci's Inquest was cancelled in part because of this trope. At the end of the series, the main character, a coroner living in Vancouver, successfully announces his bid to become the Mayor of the city. In the spin-off/sequel, Da Vinci's City Hall, the story balances the problems he has while in office, his quest to get a "red light district" up and running, his bid to create safe-injection sites for drug users, the trials and tribulations of his former partner working at the city morgue, events happening at a police station...if you missed one episode, you were lost. The show suffered in the ratings, and was cancelled as a result (although there may have been other motives).
  • Dawson's Creek always had more than one storyline but for much of the post High School 5th and 6th seasons (especially the latter), interaction between the storylines was minimal, or non-existent.
  • Desperate Housewives usually has 5 plots running simultaneously; one for each of the four main housewives and one involving the season's Big Bad or creepy/mysterious neighbor. These plotlines will mesh in the big catastrophe episodes, but generally stay apart.
  • Very recurring on any sitcom on Disney Channel does this:
    • Lizzie McGuire consistently used Lizzie and her friends as the "A" Story, and her little brother Matt doing something for the "B" Story.
    • Shake it Up. Usually there is one plot with Cece and Rocky, and Rocky's brother Ty, Deuce and Flynn have a plot. They may or may not intersect, and minor characters Gunther and Tinka may appear in both.
    • That's So Raven: Raven, Chelsea and Eddie in the A-Plot and Cory and Victor in the B-Plot.
    • Hannah Montana: Lilly/Hannah in the A-Plot, Jackson and/or Rico in the B-Plot. Oliver and Robbie Ray can be in one or both.
    • Good Luck Charlie: Teddy and Ivy in the A-Plot. PJ, Gabe or Bob in the B-Plot.
    • Wizards of Waverly Place has Alex and Harper and Justin in the A-plot, and Max and the parents in the B-plot.
    • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody have Zack and Cody in the A-plot, and London and Maddie in the B-plot. The twins are joined by Marcus and Woody in the A-Plot, whereas London and Bailey are in the B-plot on The Suite Life on Deck. Moseby and Carey can be in either one.
    • Sonny with a Chance: Sonny and Chad and/or Tawni in the A-Plot, Grady and Nico in the B-Plot. Zora may intercede in either, or just spend the time being weird.
    • Zeke and Luther: The title characters plus Kojo and Ozzie in the A-plot, Ginger in the B-plot (before she left the show), when she's not the antagonist in the A-plot.
    • I'm in the Band: The only consistent was that Tripp is in the A-plot.
    • Jessie: Jessie and two of the kids in the A-plot; Bertram and the other two kids in the B-plot.
    • A.N.T. Farm: Chyna, Olive, and Fletcher in the A-plot; Cameron or Angus in the B-plot. Lexi can be in either one, and Paisley is almost always in Lexi's plot.
    • Austin & Ally: Almost always Austin and Ally in the A plot, with Trish and Dez in the B plot.
    • Lab Rats: Tends to vary. Usually, it's one plot for two of the Rats and another for the third Rat and Leo. With the adults it's usually Donald or Douglas in one plot and Perry in the other.
    • Kickin' It: Jack and Kim are the A-plot; Jerry, Eddie, and Milton are the B-plot, and Rudy the C-plot. After Eddie left, the standard formula was Jack/Jerry/Kim and Milton/Rudy.
    • Crash & Bernstein: The title characters are the A-plot; Cleo and Amanda are the B-plot. Pesto can be either helping out the boys in the A-plot or crushing on Amanda in the B-plot.
    • Mighty Med: For season 1, the plots were mostly Kaz/Oliver A-plots and Skylar/Alan/Horace B-plots. Gus tended to be either one or the other. Season 2 had Kaz and Oliver occasionally separating and having separate plots.
    • Kirby Buckets: Kirby, Fish, and Eli in the A-plot and Dawn and Belinda in the B-plot.
    • K.C. Undercover: The plot is usually KC and Marisa in the A-plot and the rest of the cast in the B-plot; with another character (usually Ernie) making the jump to the A-plot when necessary.
    • Best Friends Whenever: Cyd and Shelby in the A-plot, Barry and Naldo in the B-plot, the twins are usually just causing hijinks and are more likely to be with the boys.
    • Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything: Conor is in the A-plot. The other three kids bounce back and forth between the two plots.
    • Bizaardvark: Paige and Frankie are the stars of the A-plot, while Dirk and Amelia are in the B-plot. Bernie is usually bouncing back and forth between the plots. After Dirk left, Bernie became more often than not in the B-plot with Zane and Rodney in the wild-card slot.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Empty Child": The Doctor and Rose split up early on, and the plot follows the two of them simultaneously during their encounters with Nancy and Captain Jack Harkness respectively.
    • "Extremis" switches between Missy's execution in the past, and the situation with The Veritas in the present. Or, rather, the Doctor watching the recording of the last several hours of the Prophets of Truth's most recent simulation while guarding the Vault in the present day.
    • "Fugitive of the Judoon" splits up the Doctor and the companions early to incorporate two plots. The Doctor has the A plot, where she gets info about the titular fugitive. Graham, Ryan and Yaz have a B plot, where Jack Harkness returns and kidnaps them to give the Doctor cryptic information.
  • Elementary works and develops its story arc and characters this way. Even exposed in the writer's twitter as we can see here.
  • Exception: Everybody Loves Raymond is unique in the sense that every episode followed one storyline, there were no subplots. Yet it was still very successful and ran for nine seasons. They did have minor inter-episode stories as running gags, such as periodically reverting to the arguments between Marie and Frank (over things like what constitutes something as "fork-split", who will die first and what the remaining one will do, etc.) throughout the episode.
  • Family Matters generally had an A-story centering on the children and a B-story centering on the parents. However, being a Kid Com, the children's storylines were predictably far more interesting than the parents' storylines.
  • Fantasy Island juggles three or more plotlines per episode. In fact, the plotlines even have separate titles in the credits, and usually different writers. In fact, when it was offered up in syndication, the series had two formats, the original one hour episodes as well as an Edited for Syndication half hour format featuring only one story and Roarke's opening greeting "My dear guests, I am Mr. Roarke, your host" dubbed to "My dear guest, I am Mr. Roarke, your host".
  • In documentary TV, each The First 48 episode tracks two murder investigations, each in a different city and having nothing to do with each other.
  • Frasier:
    • The majority of the episodes have this structure. Typically, there's the main A plot and the secondary B plot, one of them focusing on Frasier and the other on one of the four other major characters. The main plot isn't necessarily about Frasier, though: Niles especially gets plenty of A plots as his character becomes more rounded.
    • One episode ("Death and the Dog", Season 4) hanging a lampshade on it. The events of the episode are being told as a Whole Episode Flashback to a caller, and Roz wonders why Frasier is telling the caller about her date in the episode.
  • Friends does this quite often, usually preferring the three-storyline model. The relationships between the characters allowed some fluidity in the pairings.
    • "The One Where They're Going to Party" - Ross, Chandler, and Joey in Plot A, Monica and Rachel in Plot B, and Phoebe in Plot C.
    • "The One Where Ross and Rachel... You Know" - Ross and Rachel in Plot A, Monica and Phoebe in Plot B, and Chandler and Joey in Plot C.
    • Particularly in later seasons, episodes frequently split along with the Ships: Ross and Rachel, Chandler and Monica, Phoebe and an outside cast member or love interest (Duncan, Eric, Mike, and so forth.)
    • "The One with the Routine" had Monica, Ross, Joey, and guest character Janine in Plot A, with Chandler, Phoebe, and Rachel in Plot B; "The One with the Blackout" had Chandler by himself in Story B, while everybody else was in Story A.
    • "The One Where They're Up All Night" featured a whopping number of four storylines: Ross and Joey, Chandler and Monica, Rachel and Tag, and Phoebe vs. the fire alarm.
  • Invoked and enforced in the China-produced God of War Zhao Zilong, which attempts to spin a new take on Romance of the Three Kingdoms with the focus on Zhao Yun, basically turning it into a typical idol drama running parallel with Romance since Zhao Yun shouldn't be in the corresponding chapters of Three Kingdoms yet. The best example would be the three masters who trained Zhao Yun before heading to the war front, joining the armies of Yuan Shao, and sadly falling in combat against Hua Xiong. After word of their death reaches Zhao Yun, Hua Xiong ends up facing a certain newcomer to the war front by the name of Guan Yu... and word of the result of that reaches home a little faster. Zhao Yun learns from all this just how much further he has to go, and how much tougher he needs to be.
  • Go On does this in most episodes, generally with one plot centering around Ryan King, and another plot focusing on someone else from the support group.
  • Grey's Anatomy does this in a way similar to Scrubs but usually a lot less contrived and there is almost always a real struggle with morality that Meredith references when she does the voice over in the beginning and end of an episode. If the plots are too separated, the writers link it together with a more broad aesop... like "trust your closest friends" or something. Clever!
  • On Haven, especially in seasons 1 and 2, there typically was an A-plot with Audrey and Nathan investigating a Trouble(superpower) related crime and a B-plot with Duke, sometimes intersecting with the A-plot (often Duke would find himself involved in the Trouble somehow), and sometimes a C-plot involving finding Audrey's past. As the other characters were fleshed out more, there started being a C-plot involving the Teagues, Dwight and/or the Guard. In season 5, there usually is an A-plot with one character and Mara and a B-plot involving the other characters dealing with a Trouble.
  • After the first few series, Heartbeat always divided its episodes between an A plot of the police investigating something serious and a comedy B plot of whoever the Lovable Rogue was at the time (Greengrass, Vernon or Peggy, or occasionally their supporting cast if they weren't in the episode) getting involved in some sort of light-hearted shenanigans.
  • Heroes:
    • In its first season, the series does a very interesting bit with this in the long-arc scenario. It has multiple long arcs — Nikki/Ikkin, Petrelli Bros., The Bennets, Hiro's Quest, and Sylar (roughly) — with an encapsulating long-arc. Each sub-arc gets some screen time every episode, with the emphasis (length) shifting from arc to arc. Less obvious is the title names for each episode. They're metaphoric and (usually) can apply to any and all events that occur in a single episode.
    • Later seasons tried similar juggling, but balls got dropped, and things sprang out of nowhere and didn't always connect to the other threads. The last season got back on track (though not quite as adept - there wasn't room for everything to prove terribly important, and characters went absent longer than they would in S1, but it was a marked improvement), but not in time to save the show.
  • House:
    • The series often has this (particularly in the last few seasons), where plot A is the current medical drama and there's usually one or two sub-plots concerning House messing with his team and/or Wilson and/or Cuddy (or vice versa). Less frequently, an episode would have two medical plots: one case involving the entire team, and another that House would solve on his own. The second type becomes more common in the first few seasons where House has a minor recurring clinic case that often provides him with the inspiration to solve to main case.
    • "One Day, One Room" has no medical mystery. Instead, it follows House treating a pregnant rape victim who refuses an abortion, while Cameron tries to help a dying homeless man who refuses treatment.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • The A Story usually runs through Ted, while the B Story tends to involve the stable couple of Marshall and Lily. Barney and Robin sometimes end up in their own plotlines, but are more often part of the A Story or B Story.
    • Season 5 places the main focus away from Ted more often than not; Barney and Robin's romantic subplot takes up most of the first half of the season, Robin and Don take up the second half, with Marshall and Lily's attempts at having a baby the standard B-plot. Ted himself rarely stars, but is always the Framing Device.
  • Intervention follows two families coping with addictions, cutting back and forth.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia usually begins with the gang getting to an argument and then splitting off into two or three groups with different objectives as the result of the argument, which form the plots of the episode. The entire concept is Lampshaded in "The Gang Exploit the Mortgage Crisis" which begins with Dee and Frank explaining their individual schemes and the rest of the gang actually voting on which plot they want to be a part of.
  • Jeeves and Wooster would quite often have two separate plotlines that Bertie Wooster got involved in. This was due the screenwriter, Clive Exton, often combining two different short stories into one episode.
  • Kamen Rider OOO, a season of Kamen Rider with Rule of Three as its central premise, would often advertise its unique concept of Three Lines No Waiting across every two episodes, complete with a Previously On… segment recounting "these three things" - as the series went on, they would often separate a plotline's cause and effect to make up the number.
  • One particularly memorable Law & Order episode actually screwed with the long established premise of one case, one episode, by showing a day in the life of the police officers and their relations with the DAs. Rather than the one case followed from crime to verdict, one principal case is brought up, and several other minor cases crop up to plague the detective's concentration.
  • Most episodes of Lie to Me involve two different investigations going on at the same time. In a standard episode Cal and Ria will be investigating a death or a murder while Gillian and Eli are investigating a scandal.
  • Lost:
    • The series does a variant on this in every episode: one Backstory-revealing plot told in a series of FlashBacks, usually thematically related to the primary "present day" plot. By the first half of the fifth season, the flashbacks are gone and instead the episodes are split between the group of people on the island and the Oceanic Six. The second half retrieves the flashback format, but abandons the "two present day stories" for, at-episode 10, 12, and 13 are centered on only a single plotline, 11 only features a brief scene from another, and 14's b plot is only a few scenes at the start and end.
    • In a number of episodes, there's not only the Flash Back and the "present day" plot but also a secondary "present day" plot that's more lighthearted and features the leftover characters. There have been cases of people playing golf and table tennis, and Hurley & Sawyer tracking then squashing a noisy frog (seriously).
    • Most of season six has three plot-lines per episode: two of the Island groups are featured, along with a story set in an alternate universe where 815 never crashed.
  • Malcolm in the Middle did this every episode, typically with three storylines running at once or more. The most common one was the A Story being about Malcolm and one other family member, and the other stories revolving around the other family members and Francis always had his own story, until he became a part-time cast member.
  • This became increasingly common in later seasons of Married... with Children, with some members of the cast getting involved in their own side adventures away from the main plot.
  • The delicate balancing of sitcom hijinks and medical/war drama seen throughout M*A*S*H appeared to be a little too much for the writers to handle in the last few seasons, so instead every episode was given two storylines, one funny and one serious. It was rather obvious that they were putting all their effort into the serious storylines and the "funny" storylines tended to fall flat as a result.
  • Used in nearly every episode of The Mentalist. Plot A follows Jane with the murder mystery and whoever happens to be his sidekick this week, usually Lisbon or Cho. Plot B follows the more exciting cop business with Rigsby and his sidekick of the week. Sometimes the plots are related, and sometimes they're not.
  • My So-Called Life usually had a B story involving Angela's parents, thanks to child labor laws (Clare Danes and Devon Gummersall couldn't be in every scene of the show).
  • Over in non-fiction land, MythBusters does this too. Partially justified in that a single myth is generally too short to provide a sixty minute (including commercials) show. However, it is the presentation of each myth in parts that qualifies MythBusters as an example.
  • Every episode of season one of Naturally, Sadie would have one 'Sadie' plot and one 'Rain' plot, except one where the plots merged. This was less common for the second and third season.
  • This happens pretty often in New Tricks. Sandra normally goes off with one other member of the team about a quarter through the episode, with the other two members going off on their own plotline as well. Sometimes there are even three plotlines in one episode.
  • Recurring on Nickelodeon shows:
    • iCarly: Carly/Sam/Freddie A plot, Spencer (and later Gibby) B-Plot. Formula for dozens of episodes. Occasionally one of the trio jumps into Spencer's plot whilst the other two deal with the A-plot.
    • Victorious: Tori in the A-Plot, and a B-Plot which uses cast not required for the A-Plot. Trina is often what the b-plot revolves around.
    • Carly and Victorious have later a crossover special, leading to an epic 10 Lines, No Waiting: Carly's time with Steven, Tori's time with Steven(which later intertwine), Andre and later Kenan trying to catch the panda, Robbie/Rex in an epic rap battle, Cat having to use a headband to talk, Trina babysitting for Lane, Sikowitz trying to scare Beck, Spencer, Beck, Jade and Sikowitz in the hot tub, Sinjin video game surfing, and Gibby trying to find his mole. Eventually all the plots build into one another leading to everyone singing karaoke.
    • Drake & Josh: The titular brothers in the A-Plot, Megan in a B-Plot when not directly involved in screwing up the A-Plot for the boys.
    • Zoey 101: Same thing as Victorious except Zoey in place of Tori.
    • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: A-plot with the main character that may involve one of his friends, and a B-plot that involves the other friend (or two B-plots when Ned is alone in the A-plot).
    • The Thundermans: Phoebe and Max in the A-Plot; Nora and Billy in the B-Plot. The parents can be in either one, but tend to more often be in the B-plot. Occasionally Phoebe and Max are in separate plots, with Phoebe almost always getting the main plot in that case and Max interacting with his younger siblings. For the supporting cast, Cherry is always in Phoebe's plot, Dr. Colosso in the Max or Nora/Billy plot, and Chloe in the Nora/Billy plot.
    • Henry Danger: Henry/Ray/Charlotte A-Plot; Jasper/Piper B-Plot. Schwoz is usually involved providing support in the A-Plot and Henry and Piper's parents in the B-Plot.
    • Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn: The plot usually split the quadruplets four ways, with Dawn usually being in the A-Plot and the rest varying.
    • Game Shakers: Usually has Babe and Kenzie in the A-plot, Trip and Dub in the B-plot, and Hudson going back and forth between the two.
  • Northern Exposure typically has three or four plotlines per episode.
  • This was the basic storytelling method in the first season of Once Upon a Time. Every episode featured a story in the cursed community of Storybrooke and a story in the past of the Enchanted Forest, with the flashback story usually shedding narrative light on the characters in Storybrooke. The second season added a third plot thread.
  • HBO's Oz featured several continuing plotlines in more of a serial format (starting and ending with the season), as well as single-episode plots.
  • Pie in the Sky is about a semi-retired police detective who runs a restaurant when he's not being obliged by his old boss to go and solve some mystery or other. Most episodes have a plotline focussed on his policework and another focussed on goings-on at the restaurant.
  • Pushing Daisies usually only has one actual murder mystery per episode, but there are other personal plots for the characters to deal with at the same time. In some of the later episodes, two of the main characters would investigate the case while the others had something else to do.
  • Often seen in the British mystery series Rumpole of the Bailey. A typical Rumpole episode involves two plots: the case of the week Rumpole is defending, and a plot involving either some intrigue back in chambers or some intrigue in Rumpole's household.
  • Scrubs does this often, and tries to tie them together in a central theme at the end. "It's hard living life... whether it's giving birth on a sinking submarine... eating a fellow doctor's testicles... or just plain sitting around at home in your jammies, smearing baked beans on the TV."
  • Seacht seems to be doing this with Decko, whose interaction with the rest of the cast has so far been minimal.
  • Seinfeld perfected this tactic, with a twist. The two story lines would turn out to be physically (not just thematically) interrelated through some absurd coincidence or twist. Larry David has mentioned in several DVD commentaries that he had the idea to interweave the separate plotlines early on in the show's run, but didn't perfect the practice until Season 4.
  • The Shield usually runs three police plots (the Strike Team, Dutch and Wimms, Danni and Julien), plus Macky's private and Aceveda's political lives, with plotlines crossing and merging.
  • Very common in Star Trek spin-offs.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation's early seasons suffered badly from a sense that the writers felt obligated to have multiple plotlines, and events that should have been the centerpiece of an entire episode were relegated to the B-story (e.g., the re-introduction of the Romulans). Through the remainder of the series there was usually one plot line where the Enterprise was in danger even if it only came up in a few scenes.
    • A later-season Next Generation example is the episode "Disaster", which leaves various characters stranded in different parts of the ship and unable to communicate and each dealing with their own problems, leading to five distinct storylines:
      • Troi, Ro, and O'Brien on the bridge, trying to solve the crisis without the ability to communicate with the rest of the ship.
      • Data and Riker trying to reach Engineering. (This would eventually intersect with the bridge plot, the only two storylines in this episode to do so)
      • Picard trapped in a turbolift with three schoolchildren
      • Beverly and Geordi in the cargo bay
      • Worf treating patients, including a laboring Keiko O'Brien, in Ten-Forward
    • The Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Silent Enemy." The A plot is a strong, tense plot where the Enterprise is face with an enemy that outclasses their ship in every way. The ship is boarded, lives are lost, and in order to even survive, the Enterprise has to risk blowing half the ship apart. The B plot is centered around Hoshi finding out Reed's favorite food (pineapple). Hilarity Ensues, despite, you know, the ship endangering crisis going on. Needless to say, the A plot is horribly undermined by the thematic discontinuity, and gross stupidity, of the B plot.
    • This structure is seen in every episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, with the notable exception of the late-first-season episode "Duet".
    • Also used in the movie Star Trek: First Contact. Oddly, the movie's title came from the "B" plot.
  • In Super Sentai and Power Rangers, most episodes revolve around two plots: A Monster of the Week and some real-life challenge for one or more of the main characters. In many cases, the two get interwoven, with the everyday plot ending up teaching one of the Rangers a valuable lesson which then becomes instrumental in defeating the Monster of the Week.
  • True Blood is setup like this. The main story is usually focused on Sookie and Bill. Sam and Tara have their own subplots which cross with each other and Sookie's from time to time. Lafayette and Andy show up regularly with their own problems, but not as much time is dedicated to them. Meanwhile Jason is off doing his own thing.
  • Warehouse 13 has seemingly switched to this in Season 3. With the addition of Jinks, the pattern (so far) is that Pete and Myka search for artifact A, Claudia and Jinks search for artifact B.
  • The West Wing does this a lot, and also frequently juggles three or more storylines per episode.
  • The Witcher utilized this during its first season, showing Geralt, Yennefer, and Ciri's stories concurrently even when they were happening decades apart.

  • "Anthrax" by Gang of Four has Jon King singing the song in the left channel while Andy Gill talks about writing love songs in the right.
  • "Spoiler Alert" by They Might Be Giants tells two stories, one sung by Flansburgh, playing a truck driver who, in a fit of exhausted delirium, believes his truck can drive itself, and one sung by Linnell, playing a writer distracted with writing a story who thinks he has more hands than he does. Presumably, they collide at the end.
  • The music video for R.E.M.'s "Imitation of Life" is set at an outdoor party with dozens of smaller events taking place, some of which aren't apparent in the very first viewing.

  • In Bally's Creature from the Black Lagoon, the main game is about taking your girlfriend to a Drive-In Theater to see the titular movie. Once multiball starts, however, you are placed into the movie, and must rescue Kay from the Creature.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In ECW in 1995, Taz had suffered a broken neck due to Dean Malenko and 2 Cold Scorpio botching a spike piledriver in a match against Taz and Eddie Guerrero, which put him on the shelf for a time. The Sandman defeated ECW World Heavyweight Champion Shane Douglas for the title at ECW Hostile City Showdown on April 15. Douglas felt that there was a problem with the officiatingnote  and was determined to do something about it. At ECW Enter Sandman, May 13th, he introduced Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission referee Bill Alfonso, who would enforce the rules, in a promotion that prided itself on its lack of rules. Fonzie quickly became the most hated guy in ECW history. What do these two storylines have to do with each other? The answer came at ECW November to Remember 95 on November 18th. Right before the match between Konnan and Jason "The Sexiest Man On Earth", Taz walked down to the ring in a referee shirt. Taz explained to Joey Styles, who was doing the in-ring introductions, that ECW would not let him wrestle that night because they considered him an insurance risk. Jason gets in Taz's face as Taz asks if both guys are ready. Taz then decked Jason and Konnan powerbombed and pinned him in about 14 seconds. Later that night, there was a match, such as it was, between Alfonso and ECW Commissioner Tod Gordon, with Beulah McGillicutty, then a Heel as Raven's girlfriend, as the special referee. Fonzie attacked her and threw her out of the match. They sort-of brawl for a while, complete with Fonzie blading, with no referee. Taz comes down while Tod is attempting a pin, starts to count, then stops, beats up Tod, puts Alfonso on top and counts the pin, thus turning himself heel. The crowd is shocked, and Taz explains that he did it because none of the fans called or wrote or made any attempt to contact him after his injury and that Alfonso was the only person who seemed to care about him. He also rips on the fans for being happy to see Sabu, who had returned earlier that night after seven months in self-imposed exile in WCW, New Japan Pro-Wrestling and the indies,note , ECW booker Paul E. Dangerously and whatever and whoever else comes to mind, finally saying to the fans, "I DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT YOU!"


    Video Games 
  • Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits has this happen, and eventually, both the narratives become one.
  • Disk 3 of Lost Odyssey has the party forced to split up. The plot then follows: Cooke and Mack as they attempt to follow the Aurora Borealis, Kaim and Sarah as they try to stop the kids from getting in too much trouble, Seth and Tolten being warped to Uhra and meeting up with Sed, Jansen and Ming stuck on a train that's becoming an icy coffin. Despite being split four ways, the story doesn't suffer. Every party member gets their moment in the limelight. They are all reunited at the end of Disk 3.
  • Bayonetta 2 starts off with a plot To Hell and Back for the titular character in order to reclaim the soul of her friend, Jeanne, but gets sidetracked by a secondary plot involving a Tagalong Kid named Loki who just so happens to have amnesia about who he is, other than he just to happens to be trying to get to the same holy mountain as Bayonetta. The plots clash more than a few time, but end up being more intertwined once the Big Bad Loptr/Aesir is revealed, since he was the one who caused Jeanne's soul to be sent to hell, and also happens to be Loki's evil half.
  • In the bonus chapter of Cadenza 4: Fame, Theft and Murder Michael is turned into a statue and Martha and Big Jim split up to find the halves of an artifact which can reverse the curse. The chapter switches between them at several points.
  • The newer Call of Duty games have this, with the game switching between the viewpoint of two main characters(and occasionally a third character for a single mission). In the Modern Warfare games, The American character is usually engaging in some big urban battle while the British character is doing some kind of special ops raid, more or less at the same time. Though the American plotline usually finishes up partway through the game and the British one goes all the way up to the end. In World at War, however, there is no connection between the two characters, one in Russia and one in the Pacific; the plot just switches between them every few missions presumably for a change of pace. Black Ops does this with Hudson and Mason's roles in the story and even once going through the same level from different starting points (Mason sneaking into the Soviet base to kill Steiner, Hudson and a group of American soldiers going into the facility another way to rescue Steiner. The two plots join up in the end, the final cutscene of both being the same scene from different points of view, which is also the final clue that Reznov isn't there; in Mason's portion, Reznov appears to punch out Steiner a few times before drawing a pistol, declaring "My name is Viktor Reznov!", and shooting him dead - then, in Hudson's portion, Reznov isn't there and Mason is declaring himself to be Viktor Reznov before killing Steiner.)
  • Front Mission shows this through 2 and 4.
  • Dragon Quest IV has five chapters. Chapter 1 follows Ragnar, a knight trying to find missing children. Chapter 2 follows Alena, a Rebellious Princess who wants to fight in a tournament, and her advisers Clift (the healer) and Brey (the wizard). Chapter 3 follows a merchant named Torneko who wants to start his own shop in the kingdom of Endor. Chapter 4 follows Manya and Minea, two magical sisters (a Glass Cannon and a healer) trying to avenge their father's death. Finally, chapter 5 follows you, the hero, and you get the entire party together, but you can only control yourself directly. In the new DS version, there's a sixth chapter where the Big Bad joins your party.
  • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey was originally planned to have three full-weight storylines, one for each main character, however, only Zoe's actually counts as such. April's line is limited to two significant events (Chamber of Dreams and talk with the Guardian), while Kian's consists effectively of a single dialogue and its consequences. Nevertheless, the lines are there.
  • Dreamfall Chapters does a lot better, with narrative time split near equally between Zoe in Stark and Kian in Arcadia, both poking at the same interdimensional conspiracy that they didn't quite unravel in the first game.
  • Fahrenheit had two interwoven plotlines: one about Lucas trying to find explanation for what's happening to him and evade the police, and the other about Carla and Tyler trying to catch up with Lucas and understand what's going on.

  • Final Fantasy:
    • At one point in Final Fantasy VI, the characters split up into three groups, and the player plays through each of their stories in turn, before they all reunite in Narshe.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, the party members split up halfway through Disk 1 to comply with the game's Arbitrary Headcount Limit, and the story shifts back and forth between them until they reunite halfway through Disk 2.
    • Final Fantasy XIII does this for most of the game - it's only 25 hours in where you finally get all six party members together.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics follows the story of Ramza as he is forced into conflict with the manipulative church and aristocracy, while the B Plot is Delita trying to become King, and a third plot is the extended flashback that explains their connection. Their stories occasionally interact, but most of the time, Ramza is unaware of what Delita is doing. Not so much in reverse. There are also occasional small plots such as what happens to the leader of the rebellion from the flashback chapter.
    • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years begins with mostly optional stories that involve just one or two of the main cast of characters before they each unite later on.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening: Lucina's arc happens simultaneously along with the other 3, shifting in and out of focus as the events of the Bad Future they come from become relevant.
    • In Front Mission 2, the story begins under the eyes of Ash Faruk, an OCU corporal belonging to the Muddy Otters battalion in Alordesh. Shortly after the coup outbreak in the country, the story switches focus to Thomas Norland, an OCU captain from the Dull Stags battalion. After doing some operations with Thomas, the story switches to a third party - the OCU military intelligence through officer Lisa Stanley's eyes. The three groups take their turns in the spotlight and even when they merge late in the game, the focus equally distributed among them.
    • In Front Mission 4, the story begins under the eyes of former French Army pilot Elsa Eliane, who now is in the employ of the multinational research organization known as Durandal. Several missions after the Durandal are sent to investigate an attack on a German base, the story switches to USN sergeant Darril Traubel in Venezuela. Both of these stories only interact with each other explicitly only once and never directly merge at any point in the game.
  • Gemini Rue jumps back and forth between two seemingly-unconnected plotlines, one about a Hardboiled Detective searching for his brother and the other about a hapless prisoner escaping a strange rehabilitation facility. The twist is it is actually a subversion; you are not playing two disparate storylines, you're playing one story in Anachronic Order. The prisoner segments are actually the detective's flashbacks to his Dark and Troubled Past, and the aforementioned prisoner is his younger self.
  • The mission system from the Grand Theft Auto series is a version of this. The missions come in multiple chains, with certain bottleneck events that bring threads together that must have all their prerequisites met. There's an internal mini-story to each line, but they are for the most part order-independent.
  • Halo:
    • Halo 2 does this with the Master Chief and the Arbiter.
    • Halo 5: Guardians does this with Master Chief's Blue Team and Jameson Locke's Fireteam Osiris.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride had the player alternate each chapter between playing as Valanice and playing as Rosella, each trying to find each other. This was the only King's Quest game with two playable characters (and oddly enough, the only one where King Graham makes no appearance).
  • Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work frequently switches between two protagonists at certain points: Larry as he scouts for models for "America's Sexiest Home Videos'' and Patti trying to find backmasked pro-pornography messages in music from des Revers Records and K-RAP Studios. Both plots get concluded at the ending.
  • Lyrica's story arcs shift between the historical drama of Li Bai and Du Fu—renown poets from the Tang Dynasty as they try to make their voices heard over the rampant corruption and ever-growing state of chaos that plagued their kingdom; and the modern tale of Chun and Yang, a pair of music prodigies who wants to pursue their dreams of sharing their music to the world.
  • The first two Saints Row games have the separate gang storylines entirely independent. Which lead to characters involved in them only appearing in one of the three, as they frequently get injured or even killed and the game has no way to determine in which order you've completed missions up until the final stretch. The Third changed this around a bit, where missions overall follow one plotline, and most times where you have a choice of two or more missions they're just one of your lieutenants asking you to play an activity.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Done twice in Sonic Chronicles. First, Chapter 5 has Sonic, Knuckles, and two other characters make their way to Angel Island, while simultaneously Tails and Eggman head up another team trying to gather pieces to build a weapon. Chapter 10 has Sonic and Tails lead a team after one of Ix's dragons while Knuckles and Shade go after the other.
    • Sonic Adventure 2 has two (three if you count Knuckles' subplot) intertwining stories, and Sonic Adventure has six (seven if you count Tikal's subplot), that all come together in the end.
  • Suikoden III makes use of this trope through the Trinity Site System, allowing the player to tackle the story of three to five different protagonists that happen roughly at the same time. Up until you finish chapter 3 with the original three, at which point one must be chosen to become the true protagonist and their stories converge from there. Originally there was going to be a sixth storyline included, but the developers decided it would have revealed information they wanted to keep secret.
  • The first act of Syphon Filter 2 alternates control between Gabe and Lian at the same point in time. Likewise for Dark Mirror. The bonus missions in The Omega Strain have you play as major characters at the same time that Cobra is undertaking his/her missions.
  • Tales from the Borderlands entire story unfolds this way, switching between the two main protagonists Rhys and Fiona as both tell their sides of the story to a captor, often to humorous effect.
  • WinBack 2 has you play each mission from the POV of two different operatives.
  • Yakuza 0 regularly flips between Kiryu and Majima. Despite both plots centering on Makoto, the two have entirely separate stories and never meet until post-credits.

    Visual Novels 
  • Infinity series:
    • Ever17 does this during the prologue of the game, switching between Takeshi and The Kid. It drops this shortly into the game, at which point the player is locked into one of the two characters. This trope returns during Coco's path, which begins switching back and forth between the two characters again
    • Remember11 has its prologue set up the same way, with Kokoro and Satoru being the viewpoint characters. While this game does force the player into one of the two characters after the prologue finishes, it continues to use this trope throughout its entirety during the personality transfer phenomena, resulting in part of each story being seen no matter which character the player is.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja #6, #7, and #8, the doctor is searching for Dracula in the A Story while his sidekick and family train and fight a ghost wizard in the B-story. Eventually it's revealed that the ghost wizard is a slave of Dracula, who grants the wizard a deadly new power when the Doctor pisses him off too much.
  • Each chapter of MegaTokyo (with the exception of Chapter 0) usually follows three plots, with the A Story focusing on Piro and Kimiko, the B-story focusing on Largo and Erika and the C Story featuring Miho, Yuki, Ping, or any combination thereof; although they nearly always intersect.
  • Questionable Content usually juggles several storylines, with new ones picking up and old ones ending fairly regularly, along with occasional one-off gags unrelated to any of them.
  • The basic MS Paint Adventures structure is to start with something very simplistic, then introducing more and more characters, each with their own different storylines and plots, and becoming incredibly convoluted and ridiculous, then slowly but surely dragging those plots together and suddenly, before the reader even knows it, it's all one story.
  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta has several storylines all running semi-simultaneously, which are hinted to tie together in the end. Between the length spent on any given storyline and the Schedule Slip problems, threads can be dropped and picked up again quite literally years later.
  • Rumors of War begins its first Story Arc with the cast assembling, then follows two characters as they go about separate, unrelated activities. The first is an information-gathering trip that gets hijacked by a mystery and the other is a recruitment plot in the style of a con.
  • Bob and George habitually cut between storylines.
  • Irregular Webcomic! has no main plot, except for crossover between plots, so at any given moment there's seventeen different stories going on simultaneously (plus the Miscellaneous theme, which doesn't have a coherent plot or characters), although of late the primary ones are Steve & Terry, Fantasy, Space, and Cliffhangers, with secondary (but still important!) ones being MythBusters and Scientific Revolution. And something's happening with the Shakespeare theme, and the Nigerian Finance Minister and Pirates are still out there somewhere, and so on. With so many themes, there are frequent crossovers; at one time, fourteen of the different themes converged for the destruction of the universe (not included were Miscellaneous, which doesn't have a storyline; Supers and Espionage, which exist in a totally separate continuity). Oddly enough, the Me theme was originally self-contained, dealing with the author living his life, producing the webcomic, or making very meta gags. That was, until he kills himself off and finds himself actually involved with the characters themselves (mainly the Deaths and the Scientific Revolution characters).
  • Used in Our Little Adventure. Julie and her group's adventures to collect the Magicant and solve their world's problems is the A Plot. Zaedalkaah/Umbria's release, meeting with Trevoricus and Jason and joining with Angelo's kids as part of her quest to get her body back is the B Plot.
  • In American Barbarian, Two Tank Omen's advance and Yoosamon's talking with the king parallel in every strip for a while.
  • Tides Of Change switches between Tides of Change set in the past and The Dragon Rider, set several thousand years later in the present. Only recently in the story have connections between the two started appearing in the stories.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, Yokoka and Mao are protagonist and deuteragonist, who the comics follow separately aside from when their paths occasionally intersect.

    Web Original 
  • The Brave New World Universe has this in almost every story.
    • The original Brave New World has this for nearly every character, which resulted in a lot of Switching P.O.V.. Later in the story, it tended to focus mainly on Charlie's story.
    • In Tech Adventures, Sasha and Tech's storylines dance together throughout the overall plot.
    • Swarm Rising has this to such a degree that Bladedancer and Swarm's stories might as well have been split into different stories.
  • Kickassia splits into two plot threads after the group takes over Molossia; the first focuses on the Nostalgia Critic's attempts to reign over the country and the second focuses on the other contributors trying to figure out how to overthrow him.
  • Red vs. Blue employs it often. First, it was Red Team and Blue Team. Season 3, after a brief fragmentation, eventually split between the Reds and Blues and villain O'Malley. Season 4 returns to Reds and Blues (though there, for a short while a Blue was actually in the Red plot), and it remains that way until the mostly single plot Season 6. Season 7 started with Reds and Blues, but then split into those who went to the desert and those who stayed. Season 8 went for protagonists\antagonists once those that travelled returned. The Project Freelancer Saga had flashbacks with Project Freelancer sharing time with the Epsilon recreation of the Reds and Blues (season 9) and the present day events (season 10). Season 11 started with Reds\Blues again, merged them in the final episodes, and Season 12 started with a single plot that got more fragmented as time went on.
  • Survival of the Fittest. One for every. Last. Character. Of course, there are intersections, but essentially every character has their own story. Some of the time, these stories are part of another character's story.
  • We're Alive usually confines its storylines into separate chapters. But occasionally it will show two storylines within the same chapter or the same episode. For instance in chapters 17 and 18: Michael, Pegs and Kelly travelling to The Colony was split with Angel and Kalani going to the Army Reserve base to secure MREs.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • The series is constantly using this usually by introducing a side plot loosely connected to the main plot at the beginning but letting it go its own way instantly. Sometimes they intersect again at the end but not always. Klaus lampshaded it when he was The Narrator for his grandson and introduced the Steve subplot while the focus was on Stan and Francine ice skating.
    • Finances with Wolves is an episode with Five Lines No Waiting, with Francine, Roger, Klaus, Hayley, and Steve each get plots with equal merit.
    • Also played with in a Steve focused episode where Stan and Francine had a B-plot that takes place entirely off-screen (something about an idea for a cell phone app). About half-way through the episode, they arrive home and Stan begins expositing the bizarre plot they encountered on their way to a meeting about the idea, but gets fed up half-way through and storms "off-set" as he complains about how poorly written their story-line is especially since the exciting part wasn't even shown.
    • In "Stan and Francine and Connie and Ted," Barry ends up accidentally going off his meds and turning evil. Then he gives an As You Know speech to Steve summarizing the plot of "With Friends like Steve's" that explains him being evil when he's off his meds. Then he confuses Steve by also summarizing the B plot of "With Friends like Steve's" for no reason.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long has the episode "Feeding Frenzy" which has Jake trying to stop a shark from flooding the United States and taking over the world while his father and grandfather try to get to a family reunion (actually, the latter is trying to stop the former from reaching it so he doesn't find out his wife is a dragon).
  • Juggled with striking parallelism in Archer, when episodes switch from story A - typically the field agents on the current active mission (Archer, Lana, Ray) - to story B - whatever's going on back at the office with the support staff (Pam, Cyril, Krieger, Malory). As the switch between stories occurs, the first line in the new scene typically has relevance to the outgoing scene, even though it occurs s different story. For example (from season 4's "Un Chien Tangerine"):
    Malory: Now, what do you want? I'm extremely busy.
    Pam: To be a field agent!
    Malory: I'm sorry?
    Lana (voice): You should be!
    (Cut to Archer and Lana in Tangier.)
    Archer: How was I supposed to know it was gonna make him do that?
    (Large dog in their tiny car farts loudly.)
    Lana: Stuffin' him full of street-kebabs?!
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender regularly utilizes Aang and the Gang for "A" story, and Zuko and Iroh as the "B" story, to emphasize the similarities and flaws between the main protagonist and the main antagonist. Though Zuko served as a source of conflict for the heroes initially, his own separate stories became much more frequent and gained much more depth after his character was developed, eventually earning him A Day in the Limelight in the second season to delve in his backstory by means of a Whole Episode Flashback.
  • Class of 3000 often has a main plot and a sub-plot in each episode. The two plots usually tie in together some way in the end.
  • Some Danny Phantom episodes focus on main character Danny handling his own affairs while the B plot takes a look at the ongoing of his best friends Tucker and Sam. The two plots usually join up as one by the end. Many episodes also have two separate plots covering what goes on in high school, and what goes on with the ghosts. One good example would be "Parental Bonding"—high school dance coming up, and a ghost amulet that turns the wearer into a dragon.
  • Almost every Drawn Together episode had two different stories ongoing, usually not intersecting with each other, with different subsets of the main cast. Like just about everything else in the show, this has been Lampshaded a couple of times, once by Toot who, following a battle with a live action cow, was thankful that she "was in the other story", and again by Captain Hero, whom the show had begun focusing on in the second season onwards:
    Captain Hero: Hey subplot, outta my way. Main story comin' through!
  • Family Guy used to do this sometimes in its first three seasons; became less frequent post-cancellation. Many episodes focus on just one plot, but a couple of them ("Stuck Together, Torn Apart" comes to mind) had a pair of unrelated main plots going at the same time.
  • Gravity Falls: Some of the episodes have two plots, each of them focusing on one of the young Pine twins (Dipper and Mabel).
  • Kaeloo:
    • The episode "Let's Play Hot-Cold" has a plot where Kaeloo tries to find someone to play with her and a side-plot where Stumpy tries to make himself look attractive.
    • Another episode has a plot revolving around Kaeloo forcing Mr. Cat to see a psychotherapist and another plot where the rest of the cast gets into a fight.
  • Kappa Mikey is fond of this, to the point where episodes where it doesn't happen are the exception. Generally, the point of this seems to be making sure everyone's in the episode, though the extent to which anything can be rationalized on that show is debatable.
  • Done in Kim Possible, as most episodes contain a supervillain plot and something from Kim's normal life.
  • Quite a few episodes of Littlest Pet Shop (2012) do this. Often one plot focuses on the humans while the other plot focuses on the pets.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Almost every episode features an "A" plot about the title characters (usually building something amazing) and their sister Candace (usually trying to bust them), and a "B" plot in which their pet platypus Perry works as a secret agent against the local Mad Scientist Dr. Doofenshmirtz. The standard format is for the "B" plot to often physically affect the "A" plot at the end of the episode (the most common is Doofenshmirtz's machine taking away/destroying the boys' invention before Candace can get their mom to see it), but the plots are (usually) thematically unrelated. Phineas and Ferb never become aware of the "B" plot, at least not enough to discover Perry's secret.
    • One of the only episodes to break the pattern, "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted," focuses only on the boys and their sister's plotline until Perry and Doofenshmirtz are needed, at which point they suddenly appear fighting on top of a mechanical spider. Which is made weirder when it all turns out to be Perry's dream, calling into question why that was the plot to get so much focus.
    • There's also "Road to Danville", in which Perry and Doof were stuck in the desert. The whole episode focused on them, because Phineas and Ferb were making a quilt. At the end of the episode, Buford says he had fun, but as he leaves the rest of the kids agree that quilting was boring and vow to never do it again.
    • And then there's Across the 2nd Dimension, which kicks off when the "A" and "B" plots finally intersect.
    • Played straight in "Primal Perry" in which the entire episode involves Perry battling an Aussie platypus hunter that Doofensmirtz hired. While Phineas and Ferb play badminton. The episodes do not interconnect. Averted completely in another episode involving Perry doing a mission in Canada with a human partner. There is no second plot. The title characters only make brief cameos, and even then you only see the Flynn-Fletchers from the neck down.
    • The "A" and "B" plots intersect again in "Night of the Living Pharmacists", where one of Doofenshmirtz's inventions accidentally causes people to start turning into mindless clones of him, and the characters try to find a way to undo it all before the entire town (sans Doof himself) is transformed.
  • The episodes of Ready Jet Go! often have two plot-lines in the same episode. Often, these two plots will collide.
    • "Mindy's Moon Bounce House" had a sub-plot of Mitchell wondering why Mindy appears to be floating, this being his first appearance on the show.
    • "A Kid's Guide to Mars" had the main cast go to Mars to update the information on it in Carrot and Celery's guidebook, while the side-plot was Face 9001 visiting and having a rivalry with his brother, Face 9000.
    • In "Sunspot's Night Out", while the main characters search for Sunspot, Mitchell looks for Cody, who has also gone missing. Sunspot and Cody were actually missing for the same reason - they were both involved in an animal choir.
    • In "The Grandest Canyon", Mindy and Lillian dig a hole in the sandbox while the rest of the characters go to Valles Marineris.
    • "Mindy's Weather Report" has Mindy give pretend weather reports while chaos around the neighborhood ensues as misinformation spreads.
    • "Solar System Bake Off" and its sister episode "Kid-Kart Derby" both have subplots involving Mitchell spying on the main characters and trying to get information about their contest entry.
    • "Mindy Pet-sits" has two plot-lines: Jet, Sydney, and Sean going to space with Carrot (!!!) to try and find the Northern Lights, and Mindy pet-sitting Sunspot, unaware that he is planning a surprise for her.
    • In "Mindy's Mystery", the main characters try to find out what kept Mindy up at night. At the same time, Mitchell is trying to find the source of an annoying light that bothered him. They both have the same source - the moon. (The smell that kept Mindy up at night was moonflowers).
    • In "Jet's First Halloween", the main characters go trick-or-treating. At the same time, Mitchell investigates to solve 3 mysteries involving weird-looking pumpkins, a flying saucer, and a green alien head.
    • In "The Mindysphere", Jet, Sean, and Sydney go to space to fly past the heliosphere, while Mindy, who has recently been given permission to go out farther into the neighborhood, proceeds to explore her new boundaries.
    • In "Holidays in Boxwood Terrace", the A-plot is Jet, Sean, Sydney, and Mindy putting on a Christmas pageant, and the B-plot gets set in motion when Jet hires Mitchell to find the Spirit of Christmas. Mitchell's plot involves the revelation that he acts like a jerk to hide his loneliness, and him wanting to be friends with the main characters. These two plots collide when Mitchell takes over Sean's role in the play after the latter gets Performance Anxiety.
    • "I Feel the Earth Move" has a very strange B-plot - Sunspot riding Mindy's bounce house all over town, causing the ground to shake.
    • In "Endless Summer", the main characters go to Australia to experience summer, while Mindy stays on Earth to take care of Carrot, who has a cold.
    • "That's One Gigantic Pumpkin, Jet Propulsion!" has the A-plot of Jet, Sean, and Sydney trying to figure out what to do with Jet's giant pumpkin, and the B-plot of Mindy, Mitchell, and Lillian going trick-or-treating.
    • In "Total Eclipse Block Party", Sunspot had his own sub-plot involving him trying to teach the Earth animals about eclipses so they won't sleep during the eclipse.
    • In "Astronaut Ellen Ochoa", ain one is Jet, Sean, Sydney, and Mindy meeting Ellen and hanging out with her. The subplot is Dr. Rafferty, Dr. Skelley, and Dr. Bergs panicking over Ellen's impending visit. When Ellen helps revise Jet's rocket chair, this inspires her to use the same solution with the DSA project.
    • The main plot of One Small Step is Sean and Mindy looking for Jet and Sunspot after the latter two went missing, and the other one is Sydney and Jet 2 fixing the super saucer. There's also a tiny subplot involving Mitchell doing his spying as usual.
  • Done a lot on The Simpsons, usually with one story about the adults and one story about the children, although later episodes seem to have become exclusively one story affairs.
    • Still associated enough with the show to occasion a Lampshade Hanging here and there. In "Jazzy and the Pussycats", Lisa is envious of Bart's newfound success as a jazz musician, and also adopts a pet tiger that maims him.
      Lisa: I feel so terrible. I just wanted to save those animals while Bart became a drummer, but I never thought the two stories would intersect.
    • Lampshaded in the episode with Bart's vision of the future: "Why is there a story about Homer and Lincoln's gold in my vision?" "I guess the spirits thought the main vision was a little thin."
    • Newer episodes are more fond of a version of Halfway Plot Switch — a plot hook is set up in the first five minutes, and then promptly dropped when something even wackier comes along. Sometimes invoked in the same episode as Two Lines No Waiting, giving an A plot, a B plot, and an "aborted" plot.
    • In the HD era (Season 20-24), the "aborted" plots usually take up less time because of the four-act structure the episodes have now.
  • South Park used to do this every episode (or close to it). It still happens on occasion. Usually one plot influences or causes the other in some way but they aren't necessarily tied back together:
    • In "Krazy Kripples", Timmy and Jimmy joining the crips is directly caused by Christopher Reeve's appearance in South Park, but they never end up meeting him.
    • In the commentary, the creators said that they originally felt they had to do two or three stories every episode and found this very tiring. They eventually started doing only single-story episodes, and found these to be much funnier and generally better episodes. They try to keep it simple these days, though they do handle multiple story lines on occasion.
    • The episode "Trapper Keeper" plays with the idea of converging plotlines when, after the Trapper Keeper absorbs Cartman and heads off to Cheyenne Mountain, we return to the "class president election" subplot to see Mr. Garrison look out the window and starts acting like a monster is approaching the school. It turned out not to be the Trapper Keeper, but instead Rosie O Donnell, who Mr. Garrison still treats like a monster until he is told about who she is.
  • Toot & Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas has an A Plot with Toot visiting his grandmother in Scotland for her 100th birthday and a B Plot (though just barely B) of Puddle remaining home in Woodcock Pocket and preparing for Christmas with their young cousin, Opal. The two plots eventually draw together as Toot struggles to get home in a snowstorm. The special is notable for its fairly rapid frequency of scene changes, such that generally no more than two minutes is spent within the A plot before jumping back to the B plot and vice versa.
  • Transformers Animated did this in one episode. Story A had Optimus Prime and Sentinel Prime's head facing off against the Headmaster armed with the rest of Sentinel. Story B was Sari angsting over her non-(legal) existence with Bumblebee and Bulkhead trying to comfort her.
  • The Venture Bros. does this often with two stories going on at once that come together near the end. This is due to Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick often writing separate stories and slamming them together near the end. "Escape to the House of Mummies Part II" plays the disjointedness of the two lines for laughs. The episode starts off all the main characters having a mummy-themed adventure together. Dr. Venture escapes back to his house and promises to return and save everyone, but he almost gets sidetracked by an unrelated side-plot instead. This becomes the A plot, and the show occasional jumps back to the other characters to show them dealing with the much more exciting B plot.
  • Young Justice has been doing this more and more, as the cast expands. If the A-plot is talky and character-driven, it's a good bet that the B-plot will be more action focused.

Alternative Title(s): B Story


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