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Vignette Episode

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An episode in a normal series that is composed of two or more vignettes. Most times they are unrelated, or only held together by a Framing Device or a common theme. Happens when a writer wants to try Something Completely Different.

Note that this only counts for shows that normally have a single, cohesive plot. For example, The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show doesn't count, because all the episodes are a series of shorts.

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A literary approximation happens when a book series whose novels generally have only one story release an anthology of short stories about the series universe.

As for video games, this happens when a game has multiple modes with each individual mode having its own story. While they tend be connected in the grand scheme of things, the player will often have freedom in choosing how they tackle all the modes. Alternatively, the game could play just like a TV episode where the storyline is composed of multiple, individual storyline that the player will be transferred between as they progress through the game.

Contrast Three Shorts, Two Shorts and Animated Anthology. Compare Anthology Film.


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Examples:

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     Comics  

     Audio Drama 
  • A few Big Finish Doctor Who releases have had an anthology format.
    • Circular Time comprises four stories featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, each set in a different season, both literally and in terms of their friendship.
    • The Company of Friends has four stories about the Eighth Doctor and non-Big Finish companions (Bernice Summerfieldnote , Fitz Kreiner, Izzy Sinclair, and Mary Shelley)
    • The Demons of Red Lodge and Other Stories comprises four (mostly) unrelated Fifth Doctor and Nyssa adventures.
    • Recorded Time and Other Stories and Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories, as above but with Sixth and Peri.
    • 100 was the hundredth release and comprises four Sixth Doctor and Evelyn stories linked by the inevitable Arc Number.
    • Forty-Five is a 45th anniversary Milestone Celebration with four Seventh Doctor stories also linked by the Arc Number.
    • 1001 Nights comprises four Fifth and Nyssa stories with a Framing Story in which Nyssa is Scheherazade.

     Fan Fic  

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     Literature  

  • The Myth Adventures book M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link would qualify for this. A transition between the usual Myth Adventure books narrated by Skeeve and the M.Y.T.H. Inc. books narrated by members of the team, it was a series of short stories with different narrators, linked by a Skeeve Framing Story.
  • There's a good lit example: Borders of Infinity, from the Vorkosigan Saga, was a collection of three short stories ("Mountains of Mourning", "Labyrinth" and "Borders of Infinity") with a framing device about the main character being in extended surgery, and solving a case thereof. The individual stories have been reprinted in other, later omnibuses of the series; the original whole book has not, and is blastedly hard to find...
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine EU had a book called "The Lives of Dax", focusing on the Dax symbiotes former hosts.
  • Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: Book of Dreams comprises several short stories by other authors inspired by The Sandman, and Endless Nights, seven short stories about each of The Endless, written by Gaiman.
  • Mary Poppins in the Park, fourth in the series, is a collection of short stories about Mary's adventures with the Banks children, rather than a direct sequel.
  • The Doctor Who – Expanded Universe has had multiple volumes of short stories, but The Story of Martha (four stories about her Walking the Earth during the year that never happened) is notable because it was published as a regular New Series Adventures novel.

     Live Action TV  
  • The Babylon 5 episode "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" explores the long-term impact that the events of the series will have on the galaxy in 2362, 2762, 3262 and 1002262.
  • Black Mirror:
    • White Christmas, the 2014 Christmas special, is set as a pair of guys who work together in a remote cabin sharing stories of their past lives. The stories involve the creation and usage of digital clones (as menial slaves), the implications of sharing your senses with others (an application of AR), and the potential consequences of being "blocked" by other people and becoming an indistinct and incoherent grey silhouette (another application of AR). The stories converge back into the circumstances of the two guys in the cabin, and that gets its own bitter ending.
    • The episode Black Museum is another story anthology about a British tourist who visits a museum, which is run by a guy who formerly recruited for a company that researched cutting edge medical technology and giving the story behind his star exhibits. The stories are once again about the downsides of digitization and technology creeping into the space of human consciousness. The stories are even more bitter than those from White Christmas, but when they converge back into the story used as the framing device, the ending is much more optimistic.
  • The CSI episode "Toe Tags" is split into four different cases, each investigated by a different member(s) of the CSI team.
  • This happened in at least one episode of Frasier: "Three Valentines", which shows a different story set on Valentines Day in each of the episode's three acts — the first an almost completely silent skit with Niles preparing for a date, the second having Frasier trying to figure out how to respond to a woman giving him mixed signals, and the last with Martin and Daphne having an inane argument in a restaurant.
  • In the pilot for Modern Family, it seems as if three separate stories are being told, until the big reveal at the end.
  • The My Name Is Earl episode "Creative Writing". Randy, Joy, Darnell, and Catalina all write stories that are shown, respectively, as Stylistic Suck, an animated morality tale (using Family-Unfriendly Violence), an R&B music video, and a telenovela.
  • Sliders: Played with in two episodes
    • In "As Time Goes By", the sliders meet the same people on three worlds, including Quinn's old high school sweetheart Daelin Richards. In the first parallel universe, the Spanish Empire never lost control of the New World to the British Empire. The most powerful country in North America, and possibly this world, is la República de Nueva España (the Republic of New Spain), which seemingly achieved its independence from Spain at some point. Daelin is the maid of a wealthy Latino family in this world. The second parallel universe is quite similar to Earth Prime. In terms of wider history, the only immediately apparent difference is the fact that the San Francisco football team is called the Lions as opposed to the 49ers. Quinn rescues the Daelin of this world from her Domestic Abuser husband Dennis McMillan (who was her fiancé in each of the other two worlds). In the third parallel universe in which time flows backwards, Daelin is a police officer whose murder Quinn prevents, thereby completely disrupting that universe's timeline.
    • In "New Gods for Old", three featured worlds all relate to the nanotechnology and feature the same guest doubles. On the first world, society resisted the Believers (those who used the nanotech) and actively hunted them. On the second world, the Believers won the struggle and were free to spread the nanoprobes. On the third world, development of the nanotech stalled, so neither outcome could occur.

     Video Games 
  • While most games in the Kirby series have one main plot, Kirby Super Star stands out as being the one that's comprised of multiple individual (albeit connected) adventures that each tell their own story and has a unique set of mechanics to it with 7 main games overall. The DS remake expands this with another 4 modes.

     Western Animation  
  • Bob's Burgers has done a number of episodes revolving around stories made up by Tina, Gene, and Louise:
    • In "The Frond Files", Mr. Frond complains to Bob and Linda about a set of unflattering stories Tina, Gene, and Louise wrote about him for a school essay contest.
    • "The Gayle Tales" has the Belcher kids coming up with stories about their eccentric Aunt Gayle to get out of being grounded.
    • In "Sliding Bobs", the kids wonder what would happen if Linda hadn't broken up with Hugo and started dating Bob because Bob didn't have his trademark mustache.
    • In "Mom, Lies, and Video Tape", when their camcorder breaks on the day of the Mother's Day pageant, the kids tell their own wildly-exaggerated versions of the pageant to Linda, who missed it due to illness.
    • In "Bed, Bob, & Beyond", Bob and Linda are having an argument on Valentine's Day, and when a trip to the movies is cut short, the Belcher kids try to come up with their own ending to the movie.
  • The Simpsons has some episodes that might qualify— most obviously the "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween episodes, but also "22 Short Films about Springfield", and "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase".
  • Futurama has its two Anthology of Interest episodes, which feature Fry, Bender and Leela suggesting plots to a machine that can create a simulation of anything asked of it.
    • "Three Hundred Big Boys" is a multi-plotted episode showing how everyone spends government-issued $300 bills.
    • Season 6's "The Futurama Holiday Spectacular" (focusing on Xmas, Robanukah, and Kwanzaa) and "Reincarnation" (featuring Medium Shifts into a 30s' cartoon, a video game, and a 80s anime) also count. As well as Season 7's "Naturama" (a parody of nature documentaries) and "Saturday Morning Fun Pit" (making fun of Saturday morning cartons).
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Tales of Ba Sing Se" is broken down into different chapters, each showing a Day in the Life of one of the main characters.
  • The Batman: The Animated Series episode "Holiday Knights", which had three vignettes about the Bat-family dealing with holiday crime.
    • Also "Almost Got 'Em," where each villain tells a story about how he or she almost defeated Batman. A bit more Framing Device heavy than other examples, but it's still a series of vignettes.
    • And again in "Legends of the Dark Knight," with the three kids telling stories about how they perceive Batman; as they tell their stories, the animation shifts to better suit the story they're telling.
  • Family Guy had this in its "Viewer Mail" (Family Guy Viewer Mail #1 and #2), the "Stephen King" episode (Three Kings), and the Fractured Fairy Tales episode ("Grimm Job").
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has "The Cutie Mark Chronicles," which has a story for how each of the mane cast got their cutie marks.
  • The 1967 Pink Panther cartoon Pink Outs is a series of 12 quick unrelated vignettes. Many of them were reused as bumpers for The Pink Panther Show.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Every episode has a vignette in the form of an unrelated teaser sequence before the main plot, but there are also at least two special vignette episodes: "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases!" and "Four Star Spectacular!"
  • The Halloween Episodes of Regular Show, with the characters telling scary stories to each other.
  • Samurai Jack:
    • One episode showed Jack at four different times of a year, defeating seasonal-themed enemies.
      • In Winter, a tribe used all of their resources to create an incredibly powerful weapon, and fought each other to find the most worthy to wield it against Jack. Jack wins.
      • In Spring, what appears to be a nature spirit offers Jack a chance to rest. He realizes in time that it's a trap, and continues on his way.
      • In Summer, Jack crosses a desert, and is attacked by strange shadowy creatures. His sword passes right through them. He almost overexerts himself in the heat trying to fight them off, but realizes they can't actually hurt him, so he doesn't have to fight. He walks through them.
      • In Fall, a scientist gathers fallen leaves to make a deadly poison. He pours it into a well, which Jack later drinks from. Jack collapses, and the Scientist goes up to check his work, only for Jack to spit the water into the scientist's mouth.
    • There's also "Jack Tales", three unrelated stories of some of Jack's adventures, featuring a two-headed worm, a family of metal-eating people, and a pixie trapped by a gargoyle.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • In "Bottomless Pit!" Mabel, Dipper, Soos, and Grunkle Stan are falling into a bottomless pit, and tell stories to pass the time.
    • "Little Gift Shop of Horrors" has Grunkle Stan regaling a lost tourist who's stranded at the Mystery Shack after-hours with a series of "Tales Designed to Sell My Merchandise".
  • Adventure Time has the roughly once-per-season "Graybles" episodes, which all feature five short stories that merge at some point, and are related by a common hidden theme.
  • Every season of The Amazing World of Gumball but the first has several episodes that are collection of sketches. Generally, there is a single theme, a narrative stringing the sketches loosely together, or some sort of Framing Device.
    • "The Tape" is a video full of sketches and videotaped pieces made by Darwin, Gumball, and other students of Elmore Junior High.
    • "The World" shows the lives of on the sentient objects in Elmore.
    • "The Extras" focuses on the background and one-shot characters that have appeared in minor roles in past episodes. It's prompted by a Hostile Show Takeover by said extras in response to Darwin and Gumball having an uneventful day.
    • Most of "The Procrastinators" is Gumball and Darwin finding different ways to waste time so that they don't have to take out the trash.
    • "The Butterfly" is about the very loosely connected series of events set off by Gumball letting a butterfly out of its cage.
    • "The Uploads" shows many online videos (the majority of which feature established characters) with Darwin and Gumball watching them as a Framing Device.
    • "The Love" is a series of shorts about love, all of which are being told to Bobert to try to teach him about it.
    • In "The Night", the Moon examines the dreams of the main and minor characters of Elmore.
    • "The Compilation" is another a series of internet clips, presented as a "best of Elmore Stream" compilation.
    • "The Boredom" is a series of interesting events that Darwin and Gumball just barely miss.
    • "The Singing" is a Musical Episode with a Random Events Plot where a series of adjacent but otherwise unconnected people suddenly burst into song.
    • "The Spinoffs" is a sketch show about how the show would be if the main character was someone other than Gumball.
    • In "The Ghouls", Carrie shows Gumball and Darwin how people aren't afraid of ghouls anymore, leading a wide variety of horror villain parodies either failing to be scary or trying to make a living elsewhere.
  • We Bare Bears:
    • "Everyone's Tube" and its sequel "More Everyone's Tube" has the Framing Device of someone watching a bunch of Internet videos made by the Bears.
    • "Charlie's Halloween Thing" is a Halloween Episode featuring a pair of short stories told by Charlie to some passers-by on Halloween night. This was followed up by a double-length episode with four short stories, "Charlie's Halloween Thing 2".
  • The Halloween special Scared Shrekless revolves around Shrek and company telling each other scary stories.
  • Used four times in Rick and Morty.
    • Season One had "Interdimensional Cable", where Rick hooks up an "interdimensional cable box" to their TV, and they start watching TV from many different universes. Most of them are bizarre TV shows or ads for products or movies, and all done in an improvisational style (which Morty lampshades). Beth and Jerry get a somewhat heartwarming subplot where they discover that even in alternate dimensions where they didn't get married and became incredibly wealthy and famous, they still end up together in the end. Summer, instead, gets one where she has to deal with the fact that she was almost aborted, and that her birth prevented the aforementioned wealth and fame.
    • Season Two had "Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate", where the framing narrative is that they watch TV in the waiting room of a hospital. Jerry gets a subplot where he must choose to give his penis to an alien for whom it is a valuable, life-saving organ, and Rick lampshades the fact that they're doing Interdimensional Cable again.
    • Season Three has two: "The Ricklantis Mixup", a Day in the Life of the Ricks and Morties on the newly rebuilt Citadel following it's destruction by Rick in the season opener, and "Morty's Mind Blowers", where Rick and Morty relive the memories so horrible Morty had them removed, and then accidentally erase each other's memories. As Rick points out:
      Rick:"Yeah, we're doing this instead of Interdimensional Cable."

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