Follow TV Tropes


Status Quo Is God / Live-Action TV

Go To

  • In House, on three separate occasions House regains the use of his leg without pain and no longer has to walk with a cane, but due to various circumstances he never stays that way. Twice he rejected a method of eliminating the pain, believing that his own personal misery was a necessary ingredient for doing the job well. Similarly, House has a vicodin addiction for most of the series, and while he does remain clean of vicodin for more than a season, he eventually does start taking it again.
  • Advertisement:
  • Saved by the Bell was the king of this, with new girlfriends constantly introduced for Zack and disappearing after their one episode. There was the case of the homeless girl who, along with her father was about to move into Zack's house, as well as Slater's previously unseen sister. While Lisa didn't disappear after the episode where she and Zack started dating, the relationship was dropped after one episode. The only non-main cast girlfriend to stick around was Stacy during the "Malibu Sands" mini-season, and she was never mentioned after the Malibu Sands recap episode at the beginning of the senior year season. Earlier, Violet disappeared without explanation after a several episode run that left Screech without his girlfriend and pining for Lisa again.
  • iCarly: Every plot that involves a conflict between Carly and Sam, or a certain incident threatens the loss of one of the ¡Three Amigos! ends up being resolved in the same episode. They finally had an ongoing plot-arc during the "iSeddie" Season 5, but after the pairing broke up, they have mentioned it exactly once and never again.
  • Austin & Ally: The Zalien episode set up a sort of Odd Friendship for Dez and Trish... which promptly crashes at the end of the episode.
    • It's averted with the 'Starr Records' plot-line in the final two episodes of Season 1. You'd expect something to go disastrously wrong so that Austin can remain an independent singer trying to reach for the stars but nothing does. He signs a record deal. He has a record made. They release the CD and have a launch party, and remark at the end of Albums & Auditions that with Austin moving up in the music world that things will be changing.
    • Played straight with Ally's plot in Albums & Auditions. The Power of Friendship makes her decide to stay in Miami instead of leaving to go to New York for music school.
  • JAG & NCIS: Both have a strong emphasis on character development, continuity, and story arcs, so this trope really just applies to some aspects of the shows. Any attempt to dissolve the teams is crushed mercilessly or repaired by the season premiere and any new Love Interest is evil.
    • Of note is Harm returning to flying duty in the fifth season. One multi-episode story arc later, and his commander advises him to transfer back to JAG, because he can do more good there than in the cockpitnote 
    • Advertisement:
    • NCIS is so notable for having all of its characters screwed up to some degree that it was notable that when Ellie Bishop joined the show in Season 12, she was the first person in the show's run to join the team and be Happily Married and to have come from a normal, happy family, pretty much the opposite of nearly everyone. But sure enough, she's well on her way to having the same tragic, screwed-up love life that everyone else has, with her marriage becoming increasingly strained to the point where her husband admits to an affair and them divorcing, and her new boyfriend being killed off just before she would have accepted his proposal.
  • Often Played for Laughs on Arrested Development, whenever the narrator says "next time on Arrested Development." What he says will happen never happens in the next show, but is most often a brief explanation how everything ends up exactly the way it was before in time for the next episode. For example, when Micheal set fire to the Banana stand, he is shown rebuilding it during the "next time." When he was arrested after a misunderstanding involving the forced abduction of a Hispanic housekeeper, he is shown being set free because she could not identify him in a police lineup.
  • Power Rangers both follows and averts this trope. Most of the time, the monster is defeated, and things go back to normal (with any damage being repaired by next episode). But there's times when they get new Zords, a new ranger, or a new Big Bad, who tends to stick around until the end of the season. This trope is especially played straight in the early seasons. After the fifth season, the series tries to avert this trope more and more by introducing dynamic story-elements. Most seasons, especially in the early seasons after the Zordon Saga, ended with the Rangers' zords and/or base destroyed, their powers lost (sometimes burned out to kill the Big Bad) and often with the team going their separate ways. By the time for the crossover with the next series rolls around (to say nothing of reunion/anniversary specials), their powers will be back, at least for a while.
  • Battlestar Galactica:
    • Battlestar Galactica (1978) played this trope straight for the most part, with the exception of having Baltar captured halfway through its run and frequently being visited in the Prison Barge whenever the heroes needed him for information. And adding a few new regular and recurring characters such as Sheba. The status quo of the Fleet leaving the colonies in search of Earth (and never really finding it) remained unchanged up until the final episode. None the less, episodes dealing with the main series plot tended to bunch together in group of two or three mini-serials, while Filler Episodes really did affect nothing.
    • In fairness, the creators fully intended there to be later seasons, but the series was cut short. And the Galactica did reach Earth if you count Galactica 1980, but almost no one does.
    • According to producer Ron Moore, Battlestar Galactica (2003) makes a conscious effort to avert this trope, the idea being to introduce irrevocable change on a regular basis so the show doesn't stagnate and become the same episode over and over again. Some viewers naturally experience possible side-effects. This was explicitly a reaction to how status quo was god over on Star Trek: Voyager, criticized for resorting to the "reset button" all the time (i.e. they must have a "shuttle factory" for all the ones that get destroyed during that series).
      • One of the basic points they made is that they do not have replicators like Star Trek, and as a single ship on the run without a homeworld anymore, they physically do not have the industrial capacity to replace complex machine parts anymore. They can fudge it a bit by cobbling together spare parts stripped from other ships, but fundamentally, Galactica doesn't have a Starfighter factory on board. When a Viper fighter gets damaged beyond repair, that's it - the overall number of Vipers they have can't increase (except when they had Pegasus, but not for long).
      • When Galactica takes a severe pounding during the battle over New Caprica, it stays half-crippled for the rest of the TV series. They don't have a home planet with orbital drydocks to repair it in. Even a half-wrecked battlestar can put up a good deal of a fight, however, though from that point on the ship's mechanics are really facing a losing battle to keep it running.
      • On the other hand, Ron Moore openly picked the "Final Five Cylons" based on shock value, what would disrupt the status quo, rather than based on what made sense within the plot. This included openly breaking their own story rules, and not even setting up the reveal with plausible explanations - i.e. one character even had a child, and the one cardinal rule they had about Cylons was that they're sterile. Moore bluntly admitted that this was indeed simply breaking his own rules, and openly made a ham-fisted retcon to explain that it wasn't really his child. Viewers and critics were not amused.
  • Gilligan's Island: Obviously this series was built entirely around this trope — i.e. it's all about how they want to get off the island; but that would end the series, so it can't possibly happen. Years after the series ended, there was a special where they did get off the island. There was a sequel to the special, as well, where they returned to the island and converted it into a tourist destination. In the television movie Rescue From Gilligan's Island, Gilligan finds a valuable piece of an exploded satellite, a tsunami washes everyone off the island, they return home, there's secret agent shenanigans, and at the end they all go on another boat trip, get caught in a hurricane... and wind up right back on the island.
  • Glee. Dear God in Heaven, Glee.
    • No matter how emphatically Rachel walks out of the club, Finn makes out with... someone new, or Kurt is compassionate to his bully Karofsky, by the end of the episode it will all be back. Even Kurt changing schools only lasted a few episodes.
    • The glee club is persistently considered to be unpopular despite repeated incidents of them being the focus of rapturous responses from the student body at some of their performances. Santana even thought she could win enough votes to become prom queen by getting Kurt to come back to McKinley after he went to Dalton. Even though both before and after his return much was made of how much homophobic hostility towards him there was from the student body, and the question of why, if the students hate the glee club, they should care about improving their chances at Nationals.
  • The first five seasons of The Mentalist was notorious for this. Each season would end with Patrick Jane seemingly that much closer to finding the Big Bad Red John, only for some twist or swerve to appear to derail him. The most blatant example was in the S3 finale, where Jane thought he was coming face to face with Red John himself, even shooting him dead. It's all undone by the third episode of S4, when he cons the jury into setting him free, manipulates his employers to hire his old friends back (they had been fired for standing with Jane) and it's revealed that the person Jane killed wasn't Red John after all, just an accomplice. S6, which saw Jane move on to the FBI after finally resolving the Red John arc, ended this dynamic.
    • However, the show went to great lengths to protect Jane's relationship with Lisbon as the series progressed. After Jane had moved to the FBI, Jane pulled several strings just so that Lisbon moves with him to the FBI. This despite the fact Lisbon didn't even want to make the move in the first place.
  • Psych. Shawn and Jules and their relationship. They never really displayed any overt affection towards each other, but Shawn has turned down some relationships with characters that would obviously change the dynamic of the show because of some unspoken thing that they'll get together eventually. Eventually Shawn gets a girlfriend, Abigail, and the viewer is treated to Juliet's reaction to that. And post- season's five "Extradition II" Status Quo is No Longer God.
  • Burn Notice. Whatever happens and whatever Mike does, he's going to stay in Miami. The change is in how Mike deals with it, and by the middle of season three, he's reconciled himself to giving up figuring out who burned him.
    • Lampshaded when Mike returns at the beginning of Season Four, only to find Sam and Fi are already embroiled in a case-of-the-week as if he had not disappeared into a secret prison for several weeks. He protests this, and Fiona reveals they'd taken a client out of respect to him and his memory.
    • The Burn Notice is eventually more or less lifted - right around the time the show gets renewed for several series - only for circumstances to keep Mike mostly in Miami. Part of the reason is that as a burned spy with a penchant for do-gooding, the CIA can use Mike for jobs and have plausible deniability.
  • British sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf tends to subscribe to this most of the time. It doesn't matter if one of the crew is turned from robot to human, or if reality itself is collapsing, status quo will almost always return. Exceptions are made for the start of the 6th, 7th and 8th seasons, where a new Status Quo will be applied for the rest of that season, no matter how little sense it makes. This even includes bringing back a former character, who had left to go hop around the multiverse at random. However, because it's a scifi-sitcom, this series has a decent excuse. One particularly blatant example: The third episode ended with Lister announcing he'd passed the chef's exam and therefore outranked Rimmer. This would have dramatically changed the dynamic between the two leads, except that Holly's opening narration in the next episode casually mentioned that this was a lie.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Sabrina's transformation of In the Blood snob Libby into a Fallen Princess ultimately ends up having this effect.
  • 7Days has essentially no character development. Frank and Olga never get their relationship past the flirting phase. Donovan never gets to backstep (or do much of anything else). Ramsey still hates Frank's guts all throughout the series even though Frank stuck out his neck to protect him on multiple occasions.
  • As irritating as this trope can be in light-hearted series, it's even more so in serious drama. Spooks has managed to hit both this trope and Anyone Can Die, the latter for destroying half of south-east England, murdering the Royal Family, killing the parliament and leaving one of their main cast on death's door, before revealing the whole thing was a training exercise.
  • Star Trek: Prior to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (and arguably Star Trek: The Next Generation), this was the standard procedure. Likewise for the Star Trek Expanded Universe novels, to not interfere with any of the shows or movies.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • Two especially blatant instances of shoving things back into status quo in the original series can be found in the episodes "Operation - Annihilate!" and "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky". In the former, Spock is afflicted by an alien parasite, and it is discovered that extremely bright light can kill it without harming the host. Well, except for rendering Spock permanently blind. Mere minutes from the end Spock suddenly turns up on the bridge with his eyesight restored, and it is handwaved by explaining that Vulcans have a secondary inner eyelid which protected him from permanent blindness. Said physical feature was never mentioned before, and never brought up again until late in Enterprise. In the beginning of "For the World is Hollow...", we learn that McCoy has a rare incurable disease which will kill him within a year. Wouldn't you know it, the new civilization the Enterprise encounters in the episode has advanced medical knowledge which just happens to include a cure for that very disease.
    • On at least three separate occasions, Kirk lost someone he had fallen in love with, grieved until the end of the episode, and then carried on as gung-ho as ever in the next episode. Justified in "Requiem for Methuselah" by Spock using a mind-meld to suppress Kirk's memories of the event.
    • One of the most egregious examples occurs in "The Changeling", where the mad computer of the week erases Uhura's memory. Incredibly, she never gets it back, with the crew saying they'll simply teach her everything again. Sure enough, by next week's episode, she's back at her post as if nothing happened.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The head writers consider in hindsight this trope the biggest problem with the award-winning episode "The Inner Light": An alien probe zaps Picard which results in him in experiencing decades of living on an alien world, while in reality only hours pass. However, in later episodes there are no indications that this experience had any lasting effect on Picard, beyond teaching him to play the flute.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine started out like this too before ending with heavy serialization - the early episode "Hard Time", O'Brien is convicted of a crime and sentenced to live twenty years in prison... and is then given the memories of a twenty year stint in a maximum security prison that included every bad event you can imagine happening in such a place. The rest of the episode deals with the fact that, even though he physically was never in prison, he still has PTSD and his behavior patterns are now those of a ruthless prisoner and how he has trouble relating to his wife and friends anymore, and so on. This traumatic, life-changing event, or its supposedly long-term effects, are never mentioned again once the episode is over with no explanation as to why it suddenly goes away other than "a different writer is penning the next episode."
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • An accusation sometimes leveled at the series. Stranded 70 years from home, with corridors and shuttles being blown to crap every week, and the ship is in mint condition by next episode, leading to one episode where Chakotay insisted they already had a full complement of shuttles even though he is the one most responsible for losing them. Few characters were promoted, despite many displaying competence that is wildly out of proportion to their rank; Harry Kim, in particular, spent seven years as bridge crew without a promotion, on the grounds that "somebody's gotta be the ensign". Doubtless this was due to TNG's mammoth success in syndication, where viewers could jump into the show at dinnertime and not miss anything.
    SFDebris: What would it have hurt to make changes to Seven - to have her grow even a little - half a dozen episodes before the end of the series, after you've been teasing it for years? Then again, this is a show about getting home that cut to the credits before they reached it. So for all we know, Voyager got hit by an asteroid before it reached Earth, and Janeway was the only survivor.
    • Perhaps the most outrageous example comes from the episode "Deadlock." The ep kicks off with the surprise deaths of Harry Kim and Ensign Wildman's newborn baby daughter Naomi. This major story development is quickly averted via the convenient splitting of Voyager and its crew into two identical ones. Said duplication sticks around just long enough to fill out the episode's runtime, after which it is destroyed, and all the duplicates die...except for the doubles of Harry and Naomi. Janeway had ordered this Harry to take the baby over to the other Voyager. In other words, she wanted them to replace the dead ones just before she self-destructs her ship to save it from the bad guys. Everyone on the ship treats him as if he were the original and no one ever mentions it again.
    • Another episode dealt with the "Year of Hell," which was foreseen by Kes, yet no one remembers to steer away from the race that started it. The year gets progressively worse, killing most of Voyager's crew, most of the survivors leaving on shuttles, and Voyager itself quickly losing power. Janeway initiates a Reset Button by ramming the enemy ship with Voyager. Since the Doomsday Weapon was based on altering time, its destruction reset the entire year, and Janeway making the decision to go around. (Her words just before ramming: "I wouldn't mind forgetting that this entire year ever happened.")
    • One episode featured a baby with Borg implants, rescued from the Borg by Voyager's crew. After flip-flopping on how to deal with the infant, the crew decide to keep the child on board and raise it themselves. Following this episode, the baby is never seen or mentioned again.
    • "Tuvix" is a prime example. Reviewer Tim Lynch said that the reason Janeway decided to destroy Tuvix and restore Neelix and Tuvok despite the ship being better off without them and most of the crew loving him is that Ethan Phillips and Tim Russ had contracts.
  • Seinfeld
    • Although the plots implicitly offer up an unlimited number of hilarious, deliciously complex, irony-steeped Aesops, the characters never, ever learn anything from them and in every episode they are as shallow and petty as they were in the previous one. In fact, in nine years of adventures, the only change they ever went through was that by the Finale they ran out of new things to talk about and started repeating what they had been talking about in the Pilot.
    • The show even had a season long arc playing with and lampshading this trope. Season 7 began with George and Jerry coming to a mutual realization that they both need to grow up and stop acting so immature and petty, and the two of them make a pact to turn themselves around. This leads George to propose to his old Girlfriend Susan, meanwhile, Kramer talks Jerry out of his half of the pact, and George spends the rest of the season trying to regain Status Quo by getting out of the engagement to Susan.
    • One episode had Jerry discovering that he has this as a superpower. No matter what happens to him, he'll always end up no better or worse than when he started. For example, Elaine takes a $20 bill from him and tosses it out the window to see if he gets the money back. Sure enough, when he puts on his jacket to leave, he puts his hand in the pocket and finds a $20 bill. Kramer dubs him "Even Steven".
  • Lampshaded by That '70s Show. Kelso complains at length that he's gone for the entire summer and nothing's changed. The minute he leaves, Jackie and Hyde are all over each other. The show was pretty bad about that though in an effort to keep everyone single and hanging around Eric Foreman's house. Eric and Donna got the worst of it. At first they were going to high school, then they were preparing for college, then Eric's father Red had a heart attack and Eric had to stay behind to take care of him so Donna didn't go either. Then they broke up, got back together, decided to get married, called it off, then just hung around doing nothing until Eric left the show.
  • If Status Quo Is God, Babylon 5 regularly commits deicide. Drastic, lasting changes often occur from episode to episode. Even in one relatively standalone episode from Season 2, a race is killed off. This is the series that gave us the trope name for Nothing Is the Same Anymore. Several of the actors commented that it was a great show to work on because they never knew what would be happening next and it was a given that their characters would change significantly over the course of the show's events.
  • When's the last time an episode of Monk changed something in the continuity? Even the "Trudy bomb" is losing its impact because the last several episodes that involved her case in some way didn't change anything or reveal anything. Monk has been mired in its' own status quo for quite a long time, and the season finales haven't really changed anything.
  • Merlin (2008). It wasn't so apparent in series one, because nothing terribly earth-shattering happened, but then it looks like things were finally going to get shaken up a little, only to reverse it all at the start of series two - Merlin is forced to go back on his vow not to speak to the dragon again; Morgana finds out for certain about her magic, freaks out, and runs away, but at the end of the episode she's back and things are more or less exactly as they were; Gwen and Arthur start to fall in love, only to agree that it wouldn't work out; Merlin gets a girlfriend and vows to run away with her, but by the end of the episode she's dead, and the chances are he'll be over it by next week, And then worst of all, Arthur finds out the truth about his birth and tries to kill his father, only to be persuaded it was all a lie and go back to his 'all magic is evil' attitude. However, it looks like this may possibly change soon - at some point this series, the dragon is going to be released. However, while there were certain changes during the show's run, other parts of the format were frustratingly entrenched, to the point that Arthur doesn't find out about Merlin's magic until the last episode.
  • The Mighty Boosh has Howard Moon. An unwritten rule seems to be that anything that could possibly maybe lead to him being happy will be killed off or revealed to be some horrible prank.
  • Roseanne arguably played this relatively straight for eight seasons, then in the last season decided to avert it entirely, with the Conners winning the lottery, not losing it by the end of the episode. They remained rich until the end of the season when it was revealed that Roseanne had been making up the entire thing to try and cope with Dan's death.
  • Eureka averted it in a bold move; despite some sacrifices (Poor Jo Lupo) when the 4th season saw them travel through time and permanently alter their present, introducing Grant from the year 1947 and making reassigning Lupo and Fargo to superior roles.
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • While it does have some story and character arcs, there are a surprising amount of Filler episodes in which something will upset the balance of the main characters lives only to be completely ignored forever after. A couple of examples are the girl who moved in upstairs and became something of a rival to Girl Next Door Penny (but she disappears in the next episode and is never heard from again) and the trip the four guys take to the arctic (they are instantly back at the beginning of the next episode with very little lasting change).
    • Averted at the end of season 7. In addition to Penny quitting her waitressing job, the last three episodes have events that shake up everything. Sheldon realizes that string theory is a dead end and decides to change his field of study, Professor Proton (a longtime hero and somewhat-friend of Sheldon and Leonard) dies, Penny and Leonard finally get engaged, and Stuart's comic book shop burns down. If that's not enough, the prospect of his friends' marriage forcing him out of the apartment coupled with the possibility that the university might not let him change his field of study causes Sheldon to ultimately decide to get on a train bound for an unknown destination.
  • Lampshaded on an episode of Cheers, when an old man came into the bar and commented on how he hadn't been there in 20 years, and noted how many things had changed— including, he said, "the wallpaper behind Norm."
  • In the How I Met Your Mother episode "Blitzgiving," we are introduced to Ted and Marshall's college buddy "The Blitz," who possesses a curse that makes awesome things happen... right after he leaves a room. Over the course of the episode, the curse is passed to Ted, then Barney, but it returns to The Blitz during the end credits.
  • Smallville
    • While many aspects do change in the show, there are at least two things that remain the same. The first is it will not take long before a Brought Down to Normal Clark regains his powers. The second is that the people who are destined to know he has powers will be the only ones to keep that information. When Clark wanted Jor-El to restore Chloe's memories without her knowing his secret, Chloe remembered two episodes later. The characters who aren't supposed to know will have Easy Amnesia.
    • In a short-term example, Clark spent an awful lot of time keeping Lex and Tess alive because they were on the opening titles, while letting Villains of the Week who were a lot less dangerous than them die.
  • The goal of the leads in Person of Interest is to resolve bad situations. At the same time, they know going into it they will ultimately fail and die having only made minor changes in the world. ...At least until the Season 3 finale. Team Machine has helped along a major change in the world: it is now watched over by a malevolent Machine that functions to attack the population, rather than defend it. Nothing Is the Same Anymore and our heroes are in hiding. Talk about Averted Trope.
  • Like any other trope on Community this was played with, though ultimately averted. Over the course of six seasons, five out of the original seven Study Group members left Greendale altogether (though one was only because of their death.) Jeff's seeming inability to leave Greendale behind completely was also treated as a major plot point rather than an excuse to keep the status quo in place.
  • Lampshaded on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air; one season ended with Will moving back to Philadelphia. The next season started with NBC studio execs showing up to kidnap him and drag him back to Bel Air, and the whole thing was never mentioned again.
  • At the beginning of the fourth season of Modern Family, the Dunphys' eldest daughter, Haley, leaves to go to college, a move which she'd realistically spent a lot of her time worrying about the previous season. Four episodes later, however, she gets arrested trying to flee a party and is ... expelled from school, allowing her to live at home again.
    • Alex actually lasts an entire year at school (albeit one only 50 miles from home). But in the beginning of the following season, she gets mono and conveniently decides to just take the entire semester off. Time will tell if or when she ever goes back.
  • In MythQuest, the kids have to be extremely careful to not change the myths that they go into, as changing the story in the myth world changes it in the real world as well, and after a short amount of time, within memory as well. This tends to have ripple effects, one of which is to make escaping the myth world easier for Gorgos.
  • Supernatural:
    • Anything that could potentially separate Sam and Dean, be it a bad argument, demon trickery, a trip to Purgatory, death, or Death, will be quickly resolved because Sam and Dean just can't be apart. If it cannot be fixed quickly in-universe, they will use a Time Skip. Over the course of 10 seasons, the longest they're ever separated is two episodes ("Free To Be You And Me" and "The End" in season 5).
    • The season 8 finale ends with Castiel losing his angelic powers. The season 9 premiere introduces Ezekiel, another angel who allies with the heroes. Nine episodes later, he's revealed to be a bad guy. In the same episode, Cas gets his powers back. As much as Word of God complains about the Story-Breaker Power of the angels, they sure want to keep one around to help clean up after Sam and Dean.
    • At the end of season 9, Dean becomes a demon. This lasts less than three episodes.
  • 24 is a show that generally does change its status quo up, there does seem to be one universal rule to that always has to be kept. Jack Bauer can never be happy, probably because True Art Is Angsty or something like that. Any time he is in even a remotely good mood or has something to keep him moving on, it will be violently taken away from him. For the majority of the series it seems that the one other constant was Jack working with the CTU no matter what. This hit especially hard in both the fourth and sixth seasons, both which tried to have Jack go in different places but soon saw him working with it again all too quickly. After that, the series made sure to avoid this: Season 7 averted things by not having the CTU appear at all, while Season 8 subverted things by having him once again work with them (albeit their New York City branch this time around) and then had him split off just a little halfway through, becoming a borderline terrorist in order to get the bad guys on his own. The upcoming Live Another Day mini-series, which many fans are calling "Season 9" is averting this as well, as things will be taking place entirely in London.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place is very good at avoiding this, given its strong sense of continuity. The only instance where this trope was invoked was with the dragon dog.
  • Victorious: An incredibly annoying example comes from the episode "Helen Back Again". Helen, a character from Drake & Josh, comes to Hollywood Arts to be the new principal. She decides to implement a new rule that every student must audition again in order to continue attending. Since Trina's original audition was a fluke, she obviously can't pass legitimately. After a mix-up that almost sends Tori packing instead of Trina, Tori stages a mugging to make Trina look like a hero in front of Helen. Not only is Trina unaware of Tori's plan, meaning their sibling dynamic remains as toxic as ever, but Helen never appears again in the series – rendering the whole episode useless as anything other than a semi-crossover.
  • Family Matters, in addition to being the poster child for Aesop Amnesia, often had Urkel do some pretty extreme damage to the Winslows' house. From shooting through their roof with a jet pack to destroying their entire garage. By the next scene(!), everything would be completely repaired and said damage would never be mentioned again.
  • Charmed
    • No matter what happened, or what kind of creature the sisters got turned into (be them vampires, warlocks, valkyries or even demons), by the end of the episode the transformation was undone.
    • Subverted in "Crime and Witch-demeanors" where Phoebe is stripped of her powers, not regaining her premonition until the next season.
  • Castle:
    • In the Season 6 premiere, Beckett accepts a job in Washington, DC. It takes but four episodes for her to be back as an NYC police detective, and that's only because budget cuts prevented her from returning to duty immediately upon being fired from her DC job in the 3rd episode. It is again played straight with the opening to season 7 when Castle is abducted and disappears for two months just as he and Beckett are about to be married, obviously thus delaying the wedding and allowing them to have status quo in terms of their relationship.
    • However, the main series itself averts this, in order, Captain Montgomery is killed to save Beckett. Then she's shot anyway, at which point Castle admits that he loves her. Then she gets amnesia and doesn't remember. Then he overhears her saying that she did remember. This pushes him away, just when she's about to open up about her feelings. Then he tells her he knows, just as she's about to go after a man involved in her mother's murder. After she's nearly killed, she realizes she loves Castle, and they start a relationship. As they engage in increasingly transparent shenanigans to hide their relationship, they finally take down Joanna Beckett's killer. Oh, and that FBI thing? That was after Beckett accepted Castle's marriage proposal.
    • In a slightly more minor capacity this is also played straight in various episodes in which Castle and Beckett are given a situation in which her usual authority is not valid(generally when they are out of her jurisdiction) or that they otherwise shouldn't be working together normally (like when Castle was briefly a fugitive or when Beckett was working for the feds), but that they generally keep doing things as normal partners by the second commercial break.
  • Frasier has flipped between playing the trope straight and inverting it. For example, the end of Season Five has the radio personalities getting fired. Frasier, however, is never able to find a permanent girlfriend so he can remain a bachelor. Ditto Martin, until the end of the series when it doesn't matter anymore.
  • Sort of zig-zagged with Anthony Bourdain in No Reservations. On one hand, he thinks a chef that sticks with a specialty dish will be the death of him or her. On the other, he has a hard on for food stalls that specialize in one dish because they do it well.
  • A common complaint about Friends is that, despite the many changes that happen in the six characters' lives throughout the series (new jobs, new apartments, etc.), they (except Chandler and possibly Rachel) never really grow or evolve as people. Instead, continuing to make the same mistakes and maintain the same unlikable traits (which are, if anything, amplified due to Flanderization) from season to season. In a sense, the series both plays straight and averts this trope.
  • Both played straight and averted in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • Averted after about Episode 10 of Season 1, when the Myth Arc really kicks in, and nearly every episode ends with some life-changing event for at least one character. Taken Up to Eleven by the end of the season; the show and most of is characters are basically unrecognisable from the pilot, a mere 22 episodes ago.
    • Played straight with the Bus, the plane on which the team live and work. Any damage it takes, no matter how catastrophic, will usually be fixed by the beginning of the next episode at the latest; if it's stolen, they'll always manage to get it back in the same amount of time. Then subverted when it really is destroyed for good in "The Dirty Half-Dozen", but by that point Coulson's team had gotten their own base and stopped using the Bus nearly as often. And by the start of season 3, Coulson's replaced it with an even fancier plane, Zephyr One.
    • Looks set to be played straight again in Season 2 with Ward's character: after deciding not to kill him off as planned at the end of Season 1 and having Brett Dalton renew his contract as main cast for Season 2, the writers now need to find a way to get him out of jail and back in with the team, despite him now being a known enemy. Except they don't; he ends up working with HYDRA instead. Fans worried that he would have some sort of redemption arc, the closest he comes is when he rescues Skye from some bonds, expecting her to team up with him to escape, and she promptly shoots him and leaves.
  • ER. This was all but guaranteed anytime it seemed that a character might be leaving the hospital for another job. As long as it was known that their portrayer didn't intend to leave the show, there was no reason to angst.
    • Doug Ross is fired a third of the way into the second season and by the beginning of the next episode, accepts a job offer at a prestigious clinic. However, said episode was the legendary "Hell And High Water". By the episode after that, the hospital administration was so impressed by his heroic actions that they offered him his previous job back.
    • In the second-season finale, Carol gets fed up with the red tape she constantly has to deal with and quits. By the third season premiere, she's back at work, with absolutely no explanation as to how she got her job back and aside from one other person snarking, "Well, you could always quit again" when she was complaining about something, no references to it were ever made.
    • At the beginning of the ninth season, Elizabeth Corday was shown to have returned to London (with her husband's death, she no longer had any ties to Chicago. It was also completely plausible, given the longer time frame). By episode's end, being very unhappy and having realized that she no longer fits in in England, she decides to return to Chicago. By the very next episode, she's back at work, having resumed her job and moved back into her house without the slightest blip.
  • Season 3 of Elementary begins with Sherlock having recruited a new protege to replace Watson and Watson herself having started her own detective business and found a steady boyfriend. After season 3's winter hiatus Kitty's Cycle of Revenge character arc was speedily resolved, Watson's boyfriend was killed by Elena March, and Watson decided to move back in with Sherlock. This was spread across five episodes to make the reset a little less obvious.
  • The X-Files is firmly committed to its Half-Arc Season structure. No matter what happens in a Myth Arc episode, no matter what tragedies Mulder and Scully endure, and no matter how much they antagonize the conspiracy that controls their government, it can't prevent them from continuing to work for the government investigating weird cases, because then the Monster of the Week episodes couldn't happen like normal.
  • Father Brown carries on its Police are Useless stance in contrast to the titular Amateur Sleuth through six seasons of ever more pointedly ignoring Father Brown's Cassandra Truths, three lead detectives in Kembleford, and even helping one detective Clear Their Name after a murder charge.
  • Silicon Valley: The show doesn't stray far from its premise of a tiny start-up of programmers working on a project that has the potential to be worth billions. Whenever it looks like they're about to break through and really start to become successful, they're smacked back down and forced to continue slaving away in poverty. After four seasons, T.J. Miller left the show and cited this trope as one of his primary reasons for departing. The fifth season takes some steps toward departing from the formula.
  • Completely averted in The Good Place. Every season changes direction and motivation. Actress Jameela al Jamil even said that she likes to think of each episode as its own season. The story takes many turns throughout each season. The reveal at the end of season one that the Good Place is actually the Bad Place was only the first of many.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: