The sad treatment of many American shows when they're diffused in foreign countries.
In the early to mid-nineties several American series suffered greatly from this in the Netherlands. These weren't just small, unloved or cult series, these were high profile shows with viewership well into the millions like ER. With the advent of the Internet and series like Lost, the practice has luckily died off.
Disney Channel seemed to have a habit in the mid-2000s of showing TV show episodes in an order that differs from the production order. Some awkward results:
The third season of Lizzie McGuire traces Lizzie and Gordo graduating middle school and having a Relationship Upgrade, but then spending a few more episodes as middle-school friends. Miranda also came back from "Mexico" without warning.
A major plot point in the 11th episode of Phil of the Future depicts Phil revealing to Keely that he and his family are futuristic time travellers, despite the first nine episodes already showing her entrusted to this secret.
A later victim of this was Jonas. All but one of the first season's episodes aired out of order, which made continuity a bit of a nightmare. Joe and Stella's relationship varied wildly as a result, not to mention little things like the Stellevator (the band's automated fashion designer program) being casually mentioned in the fourth episode only to be introduced as something new three episodes later.
The Norwegian Disney Channel does this with every show. So contiguous episodes are never shown after each other. And often can one have seen little of a series yet one have seen the same episode 3 times.
While Game Shows don't have plots, several shows qualify for this list.
Wheel of Fortune tapes out of order. This was made obvious in Season 28, when following longtime announcer Charlie O'Donnell's death they pulled a Same Language Dub over his 40 yet-to-air shows. Further, with the exception of Johnny Gilbert, guest announcers never had all their episodes air consecutively.
Even more obvious in Season 29, as two changes were made about a month in: the addition of "1/2 Kia" tags, and the relocation of the Mystery Round from Round 3 to Round 2. However, some episodes were taped before this point, and hence come before the above changes. One "America's Game" show didn't have said tags, as it was from the second taping session aka "season premiere week", which didn't have them. (This in itself is odd, as the Halloween shows were taped first and had "1/2 Car" tags instead. Even weirder is that they also awarded $500 per consonant, which was dropped for the first two shows of the third taping session before coming back.)
The Price Is Right also tapes extremely out of order, but this is usually discernible only in minute changes to the set disappearing and reappearing. It became more obvious in 2003 and 2010 following the on-air auditions of replacement announcers, which sometimes changed positions in odd spots. Other times, it has led to the host mentioning something upcoming that has already happened, or vice versa.
The 2007-08 American Temptation didn't get around to showing the first taped week until March, and most of the run aired out of taping order. The fact it had returning champs and a growing jackpot didn't seem to matter.
Merv Griffin's Crosswords was a large example as, while it didn't have returning champs, it did change its payout structure about 4-5 times as tapings progressed (including the removal of Crossword Getaways and the introduction and removal of Xbox sponsorship). The first tapings didn't air for a while (the first aired show was the 27th taping), and beginning around December 2007 the airing schedule began skipping around between payout structures.
Family Feud has been like this since at least the 2006-07 season.
Sometimes unintentional: in 1978, NBC ran 17 minutes of Part 3 of the miniseries Loose Change before realizing that it was Part 2 that was supposed to be airing that evening, leading to a particularly embarrassing "oops" announcement. NBC also (in 1969) ran the segments for The Monkees' special 33-1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee out of order, but given the anarchic nature of the program's structure to begin with, it's safe to say no one noticed.
In France, private TV channel TF1 is infamous for doing this. Unfortunately, it's also the biggest channel in terms of market-shares and usually gets to broadcast some of the most popular American series.
Adam-12: The most notable instance came midway through the first season, when the third filmed episode, "A Jumper-Code 2", aired as the 19th episode in the series rather than in the early fall of 1968. It's noticeable for an exchange between Rookie Officer Jim Reed and Sgt. William McDonald, which follows Mac's butt-chewing of Reed's training officer, Pete Malloy, for several judgment errors in handling a call where a jumper was about to leap from a tall building. Reed still raw and not having learned when is the appropriate time to speak up notes that to him, it seemed that Malloy handled things correctly, to which Mac snaps back: "You've been on the job three weeks. You don't have an opinion!" Critics note this is out of place given that the episode aired in February 1969 ... five months after the debut (depicting Reed's first night on the job), but would have made more sense had this episode aired in actual production order.
Almost Human was aired out of order during its first season, causing some continuity issues with John Kennex's evolving relationship with the android Dorian.
American Gothic (1995), in one of the most egregious examples of this trope, aired its sole season in such a bizarre order that the season finale cliffhanger which teased the death of at least one lead and the possible HeelFace Turn of several others aired a good four or five episodes before the end of the run. Additionally, a major story-arc involving a character's pregnancy was discussed on the show weeks before the episode showing the affair that led to her conceiving (meant to be a shocking twist), and character deaths were discussed before they'd actually taken place. Inexplicably, this ordering (which killed the momentum of most season-long character arcs and evolving motivations that the show was centred around) was retained in the DVD release.
Arrowverse: A variation with a Supergirlcrossover episode with The Flash (2014). The Supergirl episode where Barry appears was aired on March 28, 2016, while the episode of The Flash when Barry accidentally traveled to her universe was shown on April 19, 2016. Then again, it's clear that Time Travel seemed to have been involved somehow, as Barry only disappears from his own Earth for only a split-second and is surprised that virtually no time has passed, even though he's been on Supergirl's Earth for about a day.
In the United States and UK, Babylon 5 aired in largely chronological order, although even then there were some minor ordering problems ("Day of the Dead" being the most obvious, though that episode would likely cause problems no matter where it was put). But that's not the order the episodes were filmed usually, to keep costs down, if a set was needed for several episodes they'd film them all at once. A few countries aired the heavily arc-based show based on production order. Unlike Firefly, the DVDs follow the US broadcast order.
The Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade was aired in a seemingly random order determined by Executive Meddling. Plot continuity be damned. The DVDs include them in broadcast order, rather than what Word of God has said to be the proper order. Since this happened during production, there is actually no order that really makes sense.
The FOX sitcom Back to You, which was cancelled after its first season, was certainly not helped by the fact that the episodes were shown in an order such that we noticed a certain character missing several episodes before the episode where she is fired.
Blackadder II is out of order. It starts with an episode where Percy is clean shaven, but in episode 2 Percy has a beard which he shaves off and is clean shaven throughout the rest of the series. At the start of the second episode, he also wears a huge ruff that makes him "look like a bird that's swallowed a plate", but later replaces it with a tiny one, which he was likewise wearing in the first episode. And the closing theme of "Head" explains Edmund's relationship to the original Black Adder in a way that seems to be setting up the premise of the series. While "Head" actually was the intended first episode of the series, it got swapped with "Bells" in the running order, as the BBC executives thought that Rik Mayall's One-Scene Wonder turn as Lord Flashheart was so funny that it deserved to be in the season premiere.
The season 1 of Blossom aired its episodes so randomly that we saw Blossom going to the prom at Tyler High in episode 2, Blossom planning her homecoming dance at Tyler High in episode 8 and Blossom having her first day at Tyler High in episode 11.
Bones: The season three episode "Player Under Pressure" was actually delayed for almost exactly one year from its intended airdate ( it was supposed to be a 2nd season episode- aired April 21, 2008 instead of April 17, 2007!) due to the Virginia Tech shooting occurring right before it was set to air (the episodes involves a college basketball player found dead in the campus). Because of the year gap, there is an enormous loss of continuity- the biggest issue is that the episode is set before Hodgins proposes to Angela. The original episode was supposed to contain Hodgins' first proposal attempt- this was cut from the broadcast episode and replaced with a scene where they get caught being intimate on the security camera -showing they tried to make it fit in the 3rd season timeline (but the original is available on the season 3 DVD). But other conversations allude to Hodgins proposing and the general behavior of the characters doesn't match their season 3 selves. Not to mention the markedly different looks (i.e. hairstyles) of the individual characters. Succinctly, even a newcomer to the series can tell you it is decidedly out of place.
Also, most of season one was aired out of order. Fox got a lot of complaints about it.
In a (sort of) case of Real Life Writes the Plot, the Writer's Guild of America strike of 2007 that occurred during the show's third season caused the third season's intended last six episodes to air early in the following season. In fact, season three's intended two-part finale ended up airing as the first two episodes of season 4.
Similarly, some season 7 and 8 episodes aired in the following seasons.
Bottom: The third episode, "Contest", was supposed to be the pilot. The noticeable differences are in the set with the organ being on the "fourth" wall, stairs opposite way, and the fact Richie has shorter hair than usual as well as Eddie visibly showing hair and missing his sideburns indicate that this episode was filmed much earlier than the other episodes in the series.
The first season episode "A Clubhouse Is Not a Home" - where the Brady kids are fighting over a clubhouse - was the second episode filmed (the first after a set of 13 episodes had been ordered), but was the sixth aired. Indeed, many viewers found it confusing to see the Bradys seemingly fully moved in to their four-bedroom, two bathroom, split-level home for four weeks in a row, and then all of a sudden see the Brady boys helping to move their new step-sisters' things into the house. (Assuming that the girls' items weren't kept in storage or at their maternal grandparents' home those early weeks.)
The end of Season 2, "Tell It Like It Is" was aired as the season finale, although there were clear signs this episode was filmed (and perhaps meant to be aired) early during the season (i.e., no later than August or September 1970). One clear sign is Greg's voice not having hit its adult pitch, where it had in several late-Season 2 episodes.
Late in Season 5, the episodes "Two Petes in a Pod" (where Peter meets his identical double at school) and "Welcome Aboard" (meet Cousin Oliver) are filmed in that order with Oliver appearing as a character in both. Averted with the original network run, where the episodes are aired in logical order, but in syndication and on rerun networks "Two Petes ", where Oliver has now adjusted to his new (temporary) home is typically aired before "Welcome Aboard", where Oliver is just moving in.
Caitlin's Way was produced as two twenty-six-episode seasons, but broadcast as three seasons of twenty-two, nineteen, and ten episodes (with one episode, "Burned", not airing during the show's original run and only showing up in repeats). The two-parter produced to open the second season was likewise broadcast at the start of that season, and makes reference to first-season episodes that had not been broadcast yet.
Chuck suffered this in its second season when due to the episode following its second-half premier ("Chuck Versus the Third Dimension") being pre-empted by an address by President Obama, the schedule for its Valentine's Day episode ("Chuck Versus the Suburbs") was unchanged so it would still air on the holiday, with the episode that was supposed to air precede it ("Chuck Versus the Best Friend") finally airing the week after, which interrupted the story flow (the Valentine's episode leads directly into the fourth episode after the break). Unfortunately, the order was not corrected for the DVD release.
At the beginning of Season 3's acclaimed "Remedial Chaos Theory", there's some confusion about the Troy and Abed's apartment number, which was inserted by ADR as a nod to the fact that the complex episode took so long to finish that it was aired out of production order. This can be seen from the fact that the previously aired episode, "Competitive Ecology", alludes to events in "Remedial Chaos Theory". (This is a rare instance where this was not the network's fault.)
In one Season 4 episode, Annie can be seen working on a banner. The banner carries a slogan from the next episode, and refers directly to a character neither she nor anyone else has met yet, according to the running order.
In the fourth season of Cybill, the title character comes back from her mother's funeral in episode 13. Her mother then dies at the end of episode 21, which aired more than three months later.
For Season 25 of the Classic Series, "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" was supposed to air before "Silver Nemesis", but had to be moved as transmission of the series was delayed, "Silver Nemesis" was the show's 25th anniversary story, and the producers wanted part 1 to air on the anniversary itself. This creates the continuity error of Ace wearing Flower Child's earring, which she obtains in "Galaxy" but can be seen wearing as a badge on her jacket in "Nemesis".
"The Curse of Fenric" was supposed to be the first story of Season 26, but was moved to third as it was felt that the dark, atmospheric nature of the story would be better suited to airing nearer Halloween. It debuted the Seventh Doctor's new brown jacket, and for most of the first episode he is wearing a large duffel coat, the intention being to surprise the viewer with the new costume, but this is of course lost given the new broadcast order. Furthermore, Ace's line about haunted houses was meant to foreshadow "Ghost Light", but "Fenric" ended up airing after "Ghost Light".
Series six was split into two parts, and after it was decided that the first half was too repetitive with all its episodes about people going around a dark area with flashlights, "Night Terrors" was pushed to the second half, while "The Curse of the Black Spot" was moved into its place. The latter apparently required quite a bit of rewriting to make sense in its new spot, but specifics haven't been given. As for "Night Terrors", they got away with simply adding a little tag to the end (although it does now contain Foreshadowing for something that had already happened).
Drake & Josh has been a victim of this twice. The fourth season premiere, "Megan's Revenge", wasn't shown until the back end of the season, despite clips from it being shown in promos AND the opening. Possibly even more egregious was the last regular episode broadcast, "Dance Contest". The reason it was delayed was so it could be aired in TeenNick's dancing episode marathon. The poor planning? Josh calls Mindy his ex-girlfriend despite being aired a month after the finale "Really Big Shrimp" when they got back together!
The ninth (and final) season of The Drew Carey Show was aired in seemingly random order (compare the production codes to the episode order). This made the show's subplots difficult to follow, especially since the intended premiere episode aired mid-season. Fortunately, the two finale episodes were shown in the correct order, and TBS airs reruns of these episodes in their intended order.
The Dukes of Hazzard: The episode "Uncle Boss", which introduces the character of Hughie Hogg (series antagonist Boss Hogg's college-educated nephew), was filmed during Season 2, but for reasons that have never been made clear, it did not air until well after the start of Season 3. The first aired episode featuring Hughie, "Arrest Jesse Duke", aired early in Season 2, nearly a year earlier, even though the events of "Arrest Jesse Duke" logically take place well after the events of "Uncle Boss".
A slight case in Eerie, Indiana - the episode "The Broken Record" was intended to be the eighth episode of the series' only season, but was aired as the last. The only real continuity problem this caused is that Dash-X, who had become part of the main cast late in the season, is completely absent - despite this, it originally aired with the revised version of the opening credits that included Jason Marsden's name
Enlisted is another Fox example, with episodes aired wildly out of order. The network justified one OOO episode about a football game because they wanted to air football-themed programming around the Super Bowl (which is always in need of ratings help) but that episode featured a character working to get his girlfriend's ex-husband home before the character had even met his girlfriend. Fox also switched two episodes to result in a character who played a major role in the first aired episode winds up introducing himself in the next, so why? The DVD release has the episodes ordered as intended.
The original edition of the last DVD for the second season of Farscape altered the order of the last five episodes so the entire three-part Liars, Guns and Money arc would appear on the first disk, rather than breaking it up to maintain the original broadcast (one-part, three-part, one-part) and proper story order. Which is glaring because at the end of Liars, Guns and Money the crew succeeds in rescuing D'Argo's son, while in the episode preceding it, and which was placed on the second disk of this set, the crew is still seeking information as to his whereabouts. This decision is even stranger considering that the same thing was not done with the We're So Screwed trilogy that led into the series finale.
Father Ted did this in the first season — the pilot episode was actually broadcast sixth, while a VCR received in the third episode is somehow already there in the second.
And far more egregiously there is the car they have. They get it in the second episode of Series 2 but somehow have it in the first series and in the episode before this. The reason for this is the episode was actually written for Series 1 and was carried over to Series 2. This is presumably because they decided to use the pilot episode in Series 1 instead.
The Bones spinoff series The Finder has similar odd airing date rearrangements. Some are understandable (to a degree), the crossover ep with Lance Sweets was moved from sixth episode to second probably an an attempt to catch more viewers. But others just cause Continuity to scream out in terror. If you don't realize the order shift, you would think Willa and Walter's jerkass behavior was flip flopping around without reason, the same goes for the status of Walter and Isabel's love life. As of Episode 10 only three episodes were aired matching their production numbers (1, 4, and 8 for the boys and girls keeping score at home).
Firefly's episodes (that were actually aired) were aired in a seemingly random order, destroying the continuity of the series. Fortunately, the DVDs have the episodes in the correct order, including the ones that Fox didn't air.
And seemingly specifically to add insult to injury, what was supposed to be the pilot/first episode was the very last episode aired on FOX.
The reason for that is that FOX didn't even want to air the pilot in the first place; they felt it was too long and too cerebral. To solve this problem, they commissioned a second, more action-oriented pilot, which became "The Train Job" ... and then aired all the episodes out of order anyway.
The Flash (1990) swapped two episodes, "The Trickster" and "Tina, Is That You?" This creates a continuity error when P.I. Meghan Lockhart in "The Trickster" refers to Tina McGee running a girl gang, which didn't happen until "Tina, Is That You?"
Glee switched the airings of "Funk" (episode 20) and Theatricality (episode 21) because the latter was themed around the ever popular Lady Gaga, and FOX wanted it to air during May sweeps. This created a situation in which Jesse St. James is clearly stated to have left New Directions to rejoin Vocal Adrenaline, with the next episode starting with Jesse shocking everybody by revealing he's left New Directions to rejoin Vocal Adrenaline.
After the pilot, the next five episodes of The Good Guys were originally aired out of order, causing an episode centered around tracking an informant's ankle monitor to be aired before he received said ankle monitor.
The Higher Ground episode "Hope Falls", whose plot centered around a student attempting suicide, was delayed for a month because of a high-profile suicide case. One slight problem: It's also the episode where Daisy arrives at Mount Horizon, meaning she comes out of nowhere for three episodes that were supposed to air after "Hope Falls", but aired before it.
Home Improvement isn't too bad, given that most of the episodes work independently although the production code is wildly different from the actual air dates. The episode, "Adventures in Fine Dining", was the first produced after the pilot but the 6th aired. This is also notable in Season 3 as the final episode produced was, "To Build or Not to Build", which instead was aired 3rd to last with "The Great Race" supplanting it as the season ender. Also Season 5's "Tool Time After Dark" were the final 2 episodes produced that season but aired 5th and 4th before the final episode. The final run that season went: 525, 526, 524, 523, and 522 as far as production order.
Several episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street aired out of order, especially early in its run when the show was more plot-arc based. In a slightly surprising move, the relocated episodes had title cards inserted explaining their proper place in continuity. Most spectacularly, though Detective Crosetti is absent for the entire season, it's six episodes in before we discover that he'd committed suicide months earlier. This is fixed in the DVD release, which specifically notes that the episodes are in the order the producers intended.
Also happens near the end of Season 7. Thanks to shuffling after the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, viewers saw FBI Agent Mike Giardello resign his position, then inexplicably show up at a hostage situation in the next episodes.
The Adena Watson case in Season 1 got scrambled when "Night of the Dead Living", originally meant to be the third episode, instead aired as the ninth and last.
iCarly: The reason that Status Quo Is God on the show is because Nick constantly shifts episodes on their own whims. The broadcast order is practically random compared to production order.
This made some of the episode themes rather odd as the 3rd aired episode, "iDream of Dance" actually was the 13th episode produced and the physical hairstyles have a fairly sharp contrast to how the actors and actresses appeared in the first 2 episodes. Same for the episodes "iNevel" (aired 6th yet produced 4th) and its companion episode "iRue the Day" (aired 11th but produced 15th).
Season 2 also has a notoriously odd example as the first 4 episodes aired were all produced after the mini-TV movie special, "iGo to Japan", which aired as the 5th-7th episodes of the season.
Season 3 also had an episode, iCarly Awards, that was produced ahead of 3 Season 2 episodes yet it was aired as the 4th episode of Season 3.
The worst example is the three part crossover with Victorious being sandwiched in between "iOMG" which ends on a cliff-hanger and what will be the first episode of Season 5 (or the second half of Season 4, it's complicated), and required Word of God to come out and say it is out of order.
However, the crossover was actually filmed right after "iOMG" and comprises the last 3 episodes of that production cycle (according to the production numbers). In this case the continuity problem was created by the writers and producers and could have been avoided by airing the episodes out of order.
JAG: The first season episode "Boot" was meant to air after "Defensive Action", the episode where Harm is promoted to Lieutenant Commander. Due to being aired sooner, Harm gets a one-episode promotion before being promptly demoted again without anyone noticing.
Quite a few episodes of Kids Incorporated probably aired out of order. Since the show had no real continuity, this was never a problem, but it does lead to one notable strange moment in the season four finale, "What's In A Name", where The Kid's real name is revealed to the gang although his brother had called him by it several times in the previous episode. note Even that wasn't much of a problem, since they never bothered to use his real name afterwards.
Law & Order: The pilot, "Everybody's Favorite Bagman", was aired as the sixth episode in the first season. As a result, the viewers saw a different DA (Roy Thinnes) than the one they'd seen for the past five weeks (Steven Hill). The layout of the DA's offices was completely different. The detectives are assigned to the 36th Precinct, after five weeks at the 2-7. And the detectives are introduced to ADA Robinette after having worked with him previously.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The 8th season episode "Scheherazade" was aired obviously out of sequence as well, since even though it was a self contained episode (no carry-over plot lines or anything), Det. Benson's hairstyle had changed distinctly several episodes back (shorter, darker, and with bangs) and in this episode, her hair was suddenly long again.
The first season of Leverage (after the pilot) aired in a random order, so that the team's level of trust in each other, the leader's alcoholism, and possible romantic attractions were off from episode to episode. It still popped up in later seasons, one episode had them taking down a mark and then a bunch of episodes later one ended with them finding out about him for the first time and deciding to take him down.
The Sci-Fi Channel did this to Lexx when it first aired. Sci Fi built their entire promotion for the "new" series (new to them, anyway) around the "sex in space!" angle, so they skipped over the four TV movies (which were retroactively called "1st season" after the series became an actual series) entirely, then deliberately selected a handful of 2nd-season episodes which had the highest levels of sexual content (implied), nudity (which got blurred out, of course), and general raunchiness, then premiered those episodes first. Trouble was, not only did 2nd season actually have a serious plot arc, but it also assumed that you had already seen the four TV movies and knew who these characters were, and the episodes Sci-Fi chose to lead off with kept referring to events which US audiences hadn't seen yet. To add to the confusion, one of the characters (Zev) changed actresses and appearance about three episodes into season 2 — a change which was explained by the plot if you watched the episodes in order, but which left Sci Fi's audience baffled as to why the character whom they were used to seeing as a pouty-lipped redhead was suddenly a round-faced platinum blonde in one episode with no apparent explanation.
Although a break-out success, FOXstuck their notoriously meddling fingers in the episode order of Lie to Me second season. This was quite obvious when the Thanksgiving and Christmas themed episodes both aired before turkey day; not to mention sudden changes in season and characterization.
Little House on the Prairie: Two episodes aired during the fall of 1976 "The Race" and "Bunny" logically should have aired in that order, presenting a story arc wherein series protagonist Laura Ingalls and her rival, Nellie Oleson, wager their horses on the outcome of a horse race (as Nellie had wanted Laura's beloved thoroughbred), Nellie winning the race and Bunny as a result, Nellie mistreating the horse and after the horse attacks her and causes a minor bruise but little more faking paralysis after claiming the horse had attacked her, and Laura (after learning that Mrs. Oleson wants Bunny shot and killed) exposing Nellie's ruse. However, the scheduled airing of "The Race" (on September 27, 1976) was unexpectedly pre-empted, and with "Bunny" already slated for October 4 and airing as scheduled, "The Race" did not air until October 11. Understandably, there were confused viewers, and it's something that continues even 40 years later as both episodes continue to be aired in illogical order "The Race" (the concluding part of the two-part story arc) and then "Bunny".
The Lone Gunmen also had an episode burnt off after a major season- (series-) ending cliffhanger: Three weeks after an episode ending with the Gunmen getting captured by a SWAT team (the finale), FOX burned off an episode involving a kids' show host turning out to be a spy.
An unusual example: Two episodes of season 5 of Lost were aired out of order — "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" was originally supposed to air before "316", but Cuse & Lindelof switched them around because they thought it was "cooler".
"Solitary" and "Raised by Another" were in a switched order, because it didn't make sense for the characters to be playing golf when Charlie and Claire were missing. It was heavily re-edited to fit... so much so that it's hard to believe they were aired out of order, what with Charlie being at the golf game and all.
The Miami Vice episodes "World of Trouble," "Miracle Man," "Leap of Faith," and "Too Much, Too Late" all aired after the finale. NBC wouldn't even show "Too Much, Too Late," since it involved child molestation; it finally aired on January 25, 1990 on USA Network, mixed in with a bunch of reruns.
The season 1 episode "Mr. Monk and the Other Woman" was the seventh episode to air, but was actually the third episode to be filmed. It's obvious that it didn't air earlier when you observe Stottlemeyer and Disher acting very antagonistic to Monk about as much as they were in the pilot, despite the fact they'd already started mellowing out towards him in earlier episodes like "Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival," which were written after "Other Woman".
The season 5 episode "Mr. Monk Is On The Air" was produced and intended to air as part of the first half of the season, possibly being set shortly after the episode "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert," but it instead aired in February as part of the second half of season 5. This was quite obvious when you noticed that: a) Natalie's hair is a bit longer, b) she isn't holding items in front of her chest to hide the pregnancy Traylor Howard had during filming of the second half of season 5, c) she's driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee like she does in the first half of the season, even though she'd switched to a Buick Lucerne shortly before "Mr. Monk and the Leper," and d) the episode takes place in August 2006, and the previous episode took place in April 2007.
Season one has this so bad it even messes with the production code number. #104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet, makes several references to episodes 105, 109 and 110 even announcing the winners of a contest that had first been announced in the latter and contains conventions that wouldn't show up until later in the season, such as the desk buttons, a pre-commercial host segment immediately following the theme song, and the version of "movie sign" that we all know and love. The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide confirms that the episode number is wrong, and that the Brains have no idea how it got like that.
NCIS clearly mistimed their air schedule for Season 14, because Episode 9, "Pay to Play" (airdate December 6, 2016), features the introduction of a new team member, Clayton Reeves, yet Reeves was already present for the Thanksgiving episode, "Enemy Combatant", which aired at the proper time of year as episode 8. (Though the actor playing Reeves is credited with the main cast starting with Episode 7.)
The short-lived David Lynch/Mark Frost follow-up to Twin Peaks, On the Air, had only three of its seven episodes aired in the U.S. and they were out of order.
"Moria", the last aired episode of The Others aired out of its intended order. Though the show had a Myth Arc, it progressed slowly and subtly enough that this might have gone unnoticed, except that it aired after the season finale cliffhanger which left the entire cast apparently dead.
The first season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers suffers heavily from this for about the first 30 episodes. This is partly because FOX moved certain episodes around for "sneak preview" specials or to better fit certain holidays (aka a Frankenstein monster episode better fits airing on Halloween) and partly because Saban's production order for filming early episodes were based more on convenience rather than intended viewing order (which has become even more evident during the 2010 recut airings on ABC). Luckily most of these early episodes were more episodic in nature so continuity issues aren't as heavily noticed like it would have been in later seasons.
Later Power Rangers seasons, aside from an occasional hiccup here and there, seem to have fixed it so that intended viewing order, original airings, and production orders are all one in the same. Some of the rare hiccups to have occurred in later seasons were known to have been caused by trying to get a number of guest stars for a certain team-up episode, an unexpected Too Soon moment occurring that required an episode to be delayed and reworked, and simple human error where the wrong episode tape was grabbed by mistake and aired by the television station.
A minor example happened for Power Rangers Dino Charge, where the Halloween episode, which included the Pachyzord, aired one week before the episode that actually introduced said Pachyzord. Oddly, though, the Halloween episode was aired two weeks before Halloween, meaning that the continuity error didn't even really need to exist.
The Prisoner (1967) was written in one order, filmed in a second, and aired in a third; the original intended airing orders often had to be shuffled around because several episodes were not ready for their original transmission dates. Though the show has an ongoing storyline, it's so frequently surreal that it's impossible to say what the "right" order is. The most widely accepted order nowadays, and the one used for its DVD release, was deduced by the fan club, and contradicts the canonical order given by the production company, the order given by Patrick McGoohan, and the airing order, but does work out logically (that is, references to Number 6 as a new arrival antecede references to his having been there a while, and what few calendar dates we see all happen in the right order).
The BBC's page on the series sums up the problem neatly: "One of the many fascinating things about The Prisoner is that no-one knows what order the episodes should be watched in. There is, however, a consensus on two things. Firstly, they should not be watched in the order they were made, and secondly, they should not be watched in the order they were broadcast."
In Quantum Leap, even the episodes themselves make Quantum Leaps. At the end of "Play It Again, Seymour", the last episode in the first season, Sam leaps into the body of a rather tasty young woman. He then has to repeat the very same leap at the end of episode 3 of the 2nd season because the story that actually features the girl isn't until episode 4, "What Price Gloria?". Meanwhile, instead of making the expected leap into Gloria at the start of the 2nd season, he leaps into the body of the husband in "Honeymoon Express", a mythology episode. He has to change the future in order to stop the government abandoning the Quantum Leap project.
Red Dwarf has a loose enough continuity that this wouldn't typically be a problem, until you get to Series VI - it follows on from the Series V finale "Back to Reality" (which was the first episode of Series V on the American VHS release). Recurring villains, cast changes, Continuity Nods and multi-part stories (all rare in the early series) mean there's a specific order to later series. They're very rarely aired in order.
Series I's "Future Echoes" aired earlier than intended. It was originally intended as the fourth episode, but was moved to second because it was felt that the sci-fi elements would help the show attract viewers and allow it to go on longer (the BBC was reluctant to take on the show for more than one series). The consensus by both the makers and fans is that this was a good move.
Series IV aired completely out of order. The original planned order was "Dimension Jump", "Justice", "Camille", "White Hole" "DNA" and "Meltdown". However, "Dimension Jump"'s parody of war was considered insensitive at the time of the Gulf War. As a result, it was moved to the fifth episode, and the episodes "Camille", "DNA" and "Justice" were moved earlier on in the series than planned. "Camille" was moved to the first episode due to the popularity of Kryten, and "DNA" was moved to the second because of good responses from fans (it is still one of the most popular episodes). "Justice" was moved to the third episode, and "White Hole" and "Meltdown" remained the fourth and sixth episodes as originally planned. Reruns of the series broadcast the episodes in the original intended order, but VHS and DVD used the original broadcast order.
Series 2's first episode "Kryten" was intended as the fourth episode, with the remaining episodes in the series corresponding to the filming order aside from "Queeg", which was made sixth. Though "Kryten" was intended as a one-off episode, the titular character was revived for Series III. As the last episode "Parallel Universe" is the only one with any actual continuity (the introduction of the character Hilly replacing Holly), it is entirely possible to watch "Kryten" as the penultimate episode of that series, and assume Kryten is being reprogrammed during "Parallel Universe". Interestingly, though it was filmed third, "Statis Leak" is the only one of the series to use flashbacks to the original Red Dwarf in the manner of the first series - suggesting that it itself might have been a candidate for first episode at some point.
The second and third seasons of Robin of Sherwood were shown out of order, creating oddities with the supposed death of Marian's father in season two, and sowing confusion with the progress of the romance between Marian and Robin #2 in season 3.
Happens a couple of times with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In season 4, we see the episode with Hilda hiding Daniel Boone in the attic instead of sending him back to his own time a couple of episodes before Hilda actually brings him forwards in time. In Season 6 we see Morgan talking about her dad cutting her off a couple of episodes before he actually did cut her off.
The Nickelodeon UK airing order of Season 3 also showed a clue to the family secret appearing on the board (and being solved by Mrs Quick) several episodes before she actually received the clue. Unlike the above two examples, this does appear in the correct order on the DVD release.
Scrubs had a few instances of this. For example, season 3's "My Dirty Secret" features the character Sean, who had left for New Zealand a few episodes earlier and wouldn't return until much later in the season, and the lynchpin of the voiceover at the end is that while everyone's dealing with their problems with sex, J.D. isn't getting any at all...even though he had had been dating Danni for a few episodes. In a variation, season 8's "My ABCs" was intended as the season premiere, but ABC decided to tweak "My Jerks" to use as the premiere instead because of Courtney Cox's guest spot, which makes some of the interactions with the new interns in "My AB Cs" seem confusing. However, the episodes' airtime switch obviously occured pre-production, as a couple hurried lines here and there establish that "My Jerks" is the premiere and that certain plot points (like JD and Elliot getting back together) have already occurred by "My ABCs" — there apparently just wasn't time to rewrite the scripts substantially.
The second season of seaQuest DSV did this. It was somewhat spoiled by hearing about a main character's death three weeks before he was killed.
Seinfeld did this on a number of occasions. The first was with "Male Unbonding" which was the second episode to be filmed but the fourth to be shown. This is particularly confusing because it introduces Elaine and so those who had seen her in the previous two episodes shown would not understand this. It was reinstated as the second episode for the DVD release. The second episode where this happened was "The Stranded", which was supposed to be part of Season 2 but was held over until Season 3 because of The Gulf War. This too was put back as part of Season 2 when the DVD was released.
Some PBS affiliates such as WNET in New York City aired the "When Dinosaurs Roamed Sesame" episode of Sesame Street's 46th season first instead of "Bedtime Story", which was the actual season opener.
The Sister, Sister episode "Slumber Party" had a scene with Lisa and her cat Li'l Ray. The problem is that this episode aired before "Cheater, Cheater", which starts with Lisa showing Li'l Ray to Tia and Tamera and telling them how she got him.
The first six or seven episodes of Sliders were screened in a slightly screwy order, and even released on DVD in the same way. As it was a highly episodic show, it didn't matter too much, but there were some odd moments such as the sliders starting an episode dressed weirdly on a flooding world, only to end the following episode the same way, or setting the portal device to a randomised timer after they'd already been using it that way for weeks.
This actually worked in the show's favor in Season 2: Fox originally wouldn't let the show resolve the previous season's Cliffhanger ending, but Tracy Torme was able to lobby Fox to allow it (although, even then, the resolution seemed almost an afterthought, since it actually was). The resolution was included as part of the 3rd episode to be filmed... and 1st to be shown.
Space Rangers 1993: CBS ordered only six episodes then only broadcast four of them, airing the pilot episode last, showing Daniel Kincaid just joining the team and Zylyn being awakened from stasis when they'd been on the show for three episodes. Captain Boone suddenly gained a wife and child not seen before. The DVD release has the correct order of all six episodes on Disc One.
Stargate SG-1 had a pair of season 8 episodes, "Affinity" and "Covenant", air in backwards order. This creates a minor continuity hiccup when in "Affinity" Daniel identifies the people who kidnapped him as agents of the Trust, a group that was supposed to be revealed in "Covenant".
In Australia, Channel Nine saw fit to show the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation out of order. So we saw Tasha alive after she was dead. Of course that was before she turned out to be alive because she hadn't died in a parallel reality...ah bugger it!
The Storyteller was aired out of order in Poland. The order of the episodes there was: 1, 7, 9, 5, 8, 2, 6 and 3.
The CW pushed non-arc related episode "Monster Movie" back to air two arc related episodes closer to the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, the characters' behaviors in the affected episodes then seemed random and no longer made much sense.
Similarly, the episode "Mystery Spot" was supposed to air after the episode "Jus in Bello". However, since the entire third season was hamstrung by the Writer's Strike, it was decided to air "Jus in Bello" after "Mystery Spot", since it had an ending that could qualify as a season finale in the event that the strike left the season cut off where it was.
In an unusual Reality TV example, Survivor: Cambodia, the 32nd season to film, was aired before Survivor: Kaôh Rōng, the 31st season to film. The intention was always for Cambodia to air first, but it couldn't film first for logistical reasons. note Cambodia was an All-Stars season where the public voted on which previous contestants would receive a second chance at Survivor. Because season 30 contestants were in the poll, the public vote could not take place until after season 30 had aired.
Taxi was one of the victims of the infamous SAG strike in 1980, having to hold two episodes over for the following season, which were the last to feature Bobby Wheeler as a regular character.
Earlier on, Reverend Jim had been hired on the third episode of the second season, but he didn't appear for the following six episodes, being either this or an Anachronic Order.
Til Death, due to epic Schedule Slip brought on by low ratings, and the production studio's decision to keep making episodes for the third season despite FOX pulling the show without giving a return datenote normally, that situation is equivalent to immediate cancellation. As a result, episodes 8-11 from the season three order aired after season four had already premiered. During a double-stacked burnoff run on Sundays @ 7 in the first half of 2010, most weeks featured a season three episode and a season four episode airing alongside one another. And for extra points, three left over season three episodes aired after the official series finale.
Tracker held over the two part episode "Fever of the Hunt", which originally was the 12th and 13th episode, until near the end of the series, so it could be used for Sweeps Week.
That '70s Show: "Punk Chick" was aired close to the end of the first season, but takes place after Jackie dumps Kelso. Not only are Jackie and Kelso antipathic to each other, but Eric sets up a Brick Joke (pot leaf on the water tower) that happened in the previous episode.
The Tremors TV series suffered from it immensely: except for the series premiere, all episodes were shown in a pretty much randomized order, which made some secondary plotlines seem extremely weird. The most prominent example is that the mid-season introduction of Mixmaster, a new threat to the town, was shown way after the heroes had already battled its spawns on several occasions. The episode had to be presented as a flashback to preserve at least the pretense of having the continuity.
Other continuity problems also resulted, such as Tyler dating a woman mid-season whom he'd originally met in the Attack of the Town Festival episode which aired at the very end.
Every TV broadcaster showed the 26 episodes of UFO in different order, due to the then highly-localized nature of the ITV "network" in Britain (fortunately there were no multi-episode plotlines in this sci-fi series).
"He Ain't Heavy, He's My Hamster", written as the series premiere of The Weird Al Show, was broadcast tenth. This made all the exposition introducing the characters and premise seem very odd.
"Holly's First Job" on What I Like About You was shelved when it was produced, then later aired in between a two-parter. This was sort of justified by the production schedule (part 1 was finished only a couple days before airing; part 2 would not have been ready by the next week), but the episode itself was nonsensical in this placement: Holly'd already had multiple jobs by that point, and the b-plot was part of an already-concluded story arc.