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Sheen Estevez, Jimmy Timmy Power Hour

For many shows, the Status Quo Is God. However, there are series that have the guts to seriously change their premise, or at least to shake up major parts of their story, and really mean it. No Reset Buttons, no Snap Backs, no way to restore the comfortable status quo. Nothing Is the Same Anymore is Exactly What It Says on the Tin — the setting, or the characters' situation, has changed significantly and irrevocably, for better or for worse, and now the characters have to deal with it.

The trick is to do it without Jumping the Shark, which can be a difficult task.

As there isn't an easy out if it all goes wrong, the writers tend to have to resort to desperate measures like All Just a Dream to attempt to undo the damage. This rarely goes well, and can even result in a Franchise Killer. Pretty much the only hope is a well-executed Continuity Reboot.

See also Wham! Episode, Freak-Out, Post Script Season, Breaking the Fellowship, Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome, and Ascended Fridge Horror.

SPOILERS AHEAD. You have been warned.

Examples of Nothing Is the Same Anymore include:

Anime and Manga

  • Legend of Galactic Heroes pulls this three times after Whamtastical episodes involving two deaths and one invasion.
  • The Eclipse in Berserk is as Earth-shattering an example of this as can be imagined. Though as the pre-Eclipse story was essentially the longest ever flashback it loses a little of its impact. Only a little though.
    • Even that got drastically changed when Griffith manipulated Skull Knight's power to fuse all the planes of existence together.
  • Code Geass developed somewhat gradually for a while. The Black Knights would win small battles and recruit allies and basically consolidate their power overtime, sure, but they never made grabs to free Japan rapidly, and no major characters died nor were any important Knightmares permanently destroyed. Then episode 22 rolls around and jacks the plot into high gear quite quickly, forcing the Black Knights to try and retake Japan all in a single day. Unfortunately for the Black Knights, they weren't quite ready yet.
    • The final four episodes of R2 take it to a whole new level. Lelouch spent the majority of the series working towards Britannia's destruction. Lelouch is now the Britannian emperor. Suzaku spent the majority of the series trying to capture or kill Lelouch. Suzaku is now Lelouch's bodyguard. Kallen spent the majority of the series as Lelouch's most devoted follower. Kallen is now desperately trying to kill Lelouch. The Black Knights were under the command of Lelouch and working towards liberating Japan. Lelouch conquers Japan, again, forcing the Black Knights to ally with Schneizel (their former enemy) in order to try and liberate it from Lelouch.
  • Mai-Otome: In a Wham! Episode a little past the halfway point of the series, Nagi conquers Windbloom and deposes Mashiro, while Nina's jealousy boils over, leading her to finally fight Arika, accidentally killing Erstin, who in turn had just turned out to be a Mole, prompting the previously Uncannily good Arika to fly into Unstoppable Rage. Oh, and nearly the entire cast is depowered. Ultimately, the Garderobe academy is nearly entirely abandoned as the central setting of the show while the main cast, largely in a state of freaking out, is dispersed to the wind. Even the opening credits change (albeit one episode too early, somewhat spoiling the surprise).
    • Arguably, so too does Mai-HiME, where halfway through the premise changes from A straight Magical Girl show with teenage girls fighting monstrous orphans and taking down the Big Bad American Conspiracy in the first half to: The HiME festival where they have to fight and defeat each other until only one remains, which means possibly killing the other and at least killing the other's most important person.
  • Season three of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, starting when the heroes start chasing down Cobra. Apart from the bad guys, even the regular students are shown to be rather jerkassy, and not just in their elitism. And Yubel. The show is far darker from then on until essentially the end.
  • Episode Eight of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Some people try to apply Fanon Discontinuity to the remaining episodes, as they simply cannot accept Kamina's true role as a Decoy Protagonist.
  • In Pokémon, the English version had a song called "Everything Changes", which pretty much explains this trope perfectly. This is made even more poignant considering the constant character changes and location changes in the series.
    • Best Wishes! pretty much embodies this trope: Ash used to catch 6 Pokemon throughout a whole region. We're not even at the half-way mark and he already has a team of eight, excluding Pikachu. Also, Team Rocket has become competent, and have ditched most of their running gags. Another huge change is teased with Meowth getting fired from Team Rocket, but it turns out to have been a ruse.
  • Twentieth Century Boys combines this with Your Princess Is in Another Castle all in one hell of a Wham! Episode which ends in a Time Skip, where about a third of the way through the Big Bad Friend actually manages to completely screw over our heroes and become prime minister of Japan. Cut to 15 years later and it's a bona-fied Villain World, with the main character from the first third presumed dead along with most of his Nakama. The series does this again about two thirds of the way through when someone takes the Big Bad's place and releases a virus killing about a third of the world's population. Cut to 3 years later and things are much worse than before, setting things up for the finale.
  • Xam'd: Lost Memories does this after the Zanbani is damaged during battle and is out of commission until the Series Finale, both Akiyuki and Nakiami leave the Zanbani and are separated, and Furuichi kills himself when Haru rejects him for Akiyuki. But what really cements the trope is when Nakiami sells her iconic red wave rider.
  • School Rumble revolved around Harima's attempts to woo the girl of his dreams, until he mistakenly declared his love for someone else.

Comic Books


 Psycho-Pirate: Worlds lived. Worlds died. Nothing will ever be the same.

  • This seems to be the motto of the comic book series Daredevil, with every noteworthy writer since Frank Miller trying to outdo the other in terms of who could shake up Matt Murdock's life the most.
    • Brian Bendis and Ed Brubaker love changing their characters' status quo. To stick only with Daredevil: During Bendis' run Daredevil was unmasked by press, The Kingpin was killed but got better, Matt got married, became the new Kingpin, was left by his wife and was thrown in jail. When Brubaker was in charge Matt got out of jail, The Kingpin left the country, Matt's wife came back to him and went mad thanks to one of his enemies, Matt had a one-night stand with his friend and left everything to become the leader of Hand. And please, don't ask how it goes in their other titles.
  • Captain America should be mentioned here. Ed Brubaker killed Steve Rogers, made Bucky Barnes the new Cap, then brought Steve back, raising the question of who would wield the shield, which Bendis answered by making Steve Rogers head of SHIELD.
  • The comic book Invincible is sort of like this, though it only goes twelve issues with the initial status quo before the main character's father does a Face Heel Turn and beats the living crap out of his son, starting the status quo for the rest of the series. Issue 50 looks to shake things up again.
  • The New Universe comic Justice did an impressive one of these about halfway through its run. In Issue 15 (cleverly titled Everything You Know Is Wrong) the readers - and the main character - find out that he isn't an interdimensional holy warrior but in fact a DEA agent who had an entire false life mentally implanted into him by a drug lord. He then becomes a borderline psychotic loner, who still can suffer flashbacks to his fake life if drugged up enough.
  • Erik Larsen's The Savage Dragon tends to change its status quo quite often.
  • Batman has had this trope happen twice (or more depending on definitions) in ways that are likely to stay permanently (a rarity for comics), and a bunch of others that might change.
    • The original Robin, Dick Grayson, became Nightwing.
    • The original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, was shot by the Joker and permanently paralyzed from the waist down, forcing her to retire as Batgirl and become Oracle, Batfamily computer expert. The "permanent" part was eventually retconned away for the 2011 relaunch.
    • But wait, there's more...
      • Now they're on Batgirl number three.
      • Robin #2 was killed then returned, if only long enough for a Face Heel Turn to The Red Hood.
      • Robin #3 changed his name to Red Robin.
      • Nightwing became the new Batman.
      • Batman had a son (without his knowledge or consent, apparently) with Talia al-Ghul. He's a 10-year-old trained assassin and Robin #5.
      • Not to mention the global army of Batmen openly funded by none other than Bruce Wayne as announced on television before the world. Yeah...
  • This trope is commonly invoked in the marketing of any given big comic book event. Whether it's a Crisis Crossover or a big storyline within a single book, editorial loves to entice readers to pick it up with the promise that nothing will ever be the same afterward. Sometimes this is true... but just as often, whatever changes the storyline brings are eventually undone either by plot contrivance or Retcon.
    • Lampshaded in an issue of The Flash in the early 2000's. At the time, the book was famous for pulling big storylines about once a year. The ad copy for the following issue promised that "nothing will ever be the same again! Yeah, we know we say that all the time... but it's been true every time we've said it."
    • As both Crisis Crossovers and The Flash were mentioned, combing them leads to Flashpoint.
  • Marvel is currently doing it all the time - almost everything changes so fast that it's scary.
    • An early example is in the 1960s is when the writers decided that Iron Man's Achilles Heel of his external pacemaker function continually threatening to run out of power on him and give heart failure was getting old. So, they wrote a story where Stark is Hauled Before a Senate Subcommittee, where the arduous question goes so long that Stark collapses with his battery problems. A doctor examines him, discovers his seriously poor state of health and has him rushed to a hospital. After that, Stark finally gets some serious medical care by professionals which leads to a heart transplant to help him.
    • An even more dramatic change was in the Incredible Hulk series its early years when the US military had no idea about Banner's Hulk condition, but suspected the scientist and the monster were compatriots. In one pivotal episode, Rick Jones, convinced that Banner was dead, told Col. Glenn Talbot the truth and from then on, Banner was a fugitive from the US authorities determined to kill or contain him.
  • Hellboy In Hell
  • Ultimate Marvel started out as Adaptation Distillation, but has moved to having this as a goal to set it apart from the main Marvel Universe. The first big change was the Ultimatum event, but that's not the only one:
    • With the X-Men, everyone considered a mutant leader or potential leader (Professor X, Magneto, Cyclops, Wolverine) died in Ultimatum. Mutancy is now outlawed and people are allowed to shoot on sight, forcing mutants underground. And it's been revealed that the mutant gene was created in a lab, removing any protection they would have gotten as "the next step of evolution".
    • The Fantastic Four also disbanded after Ultimatum, and it's unlikely they'll come back together anytime soon as Reed has undergone a Face Heel Turn, with Johnny going off to join the Spider-Man cast and then the X-Men instead. Ben "The Thing" Grimm also shed his rocky skin, gaining energy powers instead.
    • Spider-Man was killed in action, and a new character with no direct connection to Peter Parker has taken up the mantle.
  • Les Legendaires went through this during the Anathos Cycle: Danael is possessed by a God of Evil, killed and resurrected but no longer part of the team, all the other protagonists have been scarred or crippled to life and get new powers and abilities, they finally got rid of their Hero with Bad Publicity status, their Arch-Enemy has been Killed Off for Real, the couples have fallen apart and a Sixth Ranger has been added.

Fan Fiction

  • The status quo in Dept Heaven Apocrypha took its first big hit with Kylier's accidental Mind Rape of Nessiah. It Got Worse, and although the conflict in that plotline is solved for now, it looks as though their relationship is never going to recover.
    • It happened again when Seth cheated on Meria the morning after they first slept together. Both characters (and those around them) were hit hard; the jeering of the unworthy masses has put the former in a Heroic BSOD that she's only now recovering from, and the latter has completely lost most of her carefree demeanor.
  • Two Step departs from the usual Left 4 Dead four-survivor ensemble when the ship Coach, Rochelle, Ellis and Nick were on sinks. Nick is injured by a Witch and ends up left behind, and most of the story is about him traveling completely alone. The ensemble aspect returns a bit later on, but it doesn't last long - Nick ditches them at a safe place later on. Another mechanic that is discarded is the "kill lots of zombies", as it's implied that the Commons died or mutated more during the course of the story, reinforced by the fact that the only zombies encountered are Special Infected. Even the immediate objective of the survivors changes from 'find someplace safe' to 'find someplace warm and make it safe'. Oh, Nick gets a dog, too.


  • A very few films, such as Full Metal Jacket and Psycho manage to produce a NITSA effect by killing the apparent protagonist mid-way through the film. Trail of the Pink Panther seems to do this to Inspector Clouseau (the ending reveals he survived), but that's because all of Clouseau's scenes in the first half are actually deleted scenes from The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Peter Sellers having been dead for almost 2 years when this film was made. The film was intended as the gateway for a new protagonist to enter the series with the next film and wasn't even conceived until after Sellers' death.


  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe New Jedi Order series. They killed: Chewbacca, Anakin Solo, Borsk Fey'lya, Admiral Ackbar, The Hapan Queen Mother Teneniel Djo, and Mon Mothma. Oh, and started Jacen Solo on the road to the Dark Side that would later lead to his death.
  • The Blood Books, in Blood Pact: Vicki becomes a vampire.
  • Late in the Animorphs series, Marco is forced to reveal what has been going on to his father so that the two can fake their deaths and go into hiding. At the same time, Visser One is killed, giving Visser Three full control of the invasion and allowing him to use his more direct tactics. A little bit later, the Yeerks find out that the Animorphs are human, a fact that they had spent the entire series trying to keep secret, forcing them and their families into hiding.
  • Changes, the latest book in The Dresden Files. By the end of the book, just about everything in Harry's life has changed. Up to and including the "life" part.
  • Harry Potter has several WHAM Episodes that effectively change everything.
    • The first, and perhaps the biggest in terms of how the plot of the series changed, was the death of Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter. His murder marked the point in which the books stopped playing around with being "kids' books" and started getting down to the meat of it.
      • And of course, that's also the book where Voldemort went from a decrepit spirit trying to regain a body to his full strength, with magical protection against Harry and his returning minions to boot.
      • Lampshaded in the film with Hermione's line at the end, "Everything's going to change now, isn't it?" Said line got prominently featured in one of the trailers.
    • The death of Dumbledore in the Half-Blood Prince meant that the only person Voldemort ever feared is gone and that Hogwarts is no longer the safest place in the Wizarding World.
    • The death of Scrimgeour in the Deathly Hallows resulted in a coup d'etat, with Voldemort running the Ministry of Magic. The Power Trio was forced to go on the run throughout the entire book while everyone else had to deal with being in a Police State run by the Death Eaters.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire seems to delight in flipping its readers' expectations as to who the main protagonist of the series is, at critical moments of every odd-numbered book:
    • In A Game of Thrones Eddard Stark is beheaded about 90% of the way through, after the entirety of the book up to that point had been acting like he was the main hero.
    • In A Storm of Swords it's Robb's turn to go, after having taken over from his father as the seeming hero of the story and the one king in the war the readers were set up to root for.
    • In A Dance with Dragons Jon Snow is murdered by his own men after a series of unpopular management decisions, without ever learning the truth about his origins and despite virtually every reader assuming he's the "ice" half of the song alluded to in the series' title. The "fire" half, Daenerys, loses the entirety of the power base she'd spent the entire series up to that point building up, while her own nephew Aegon, previously having been assumed dead, is revealed to be alive and leading a campaign to retake Westeros, which is what everybody assumed Daenerys would do. Aegon's claim to the throne is actually even stronger than Daenerys' ever was, which leaves her fate questionable at best.
      • To be fair, the fate of both Snow and Daenerys are left ambiguous. The only thing Martin enjoys more than killing his main characters is playing with the expectations of his readers. While it's true that Jon Snow was stabbed multiple times this is not a clear death sentence. Snow would not be the first to escape the seemingly certain jaws of death in Martin's epic.

Live Action TV

  • Babylon 5 had many, many such moments:
    • The first is the first season finale, "Chrysalis": Earth Alliance President Santiago is assassinated, setting off a chain reaction that would see Commander Sinclair replaced by Captain Sheridan and a major Big Bad, President Clark, coming to power. Sinclair, at the end of the episode, is the one to observe "nothing's the same anymore."
      • If that wasn't enough, a New Year's Day party occurred during the episode, changing the year that's announced in the opening sequence and proving that Babylon 5 doesn't exist in Comic Book Time.
      • Not to mention the not-insignificant details of Garibaldi being in a coma after being shot in the back, and the shifting balance of power between the Narn and the Centauri due to The Shadows destroying a major Narn base in contested territory.
    • The second is the third-season episode "Severed Dreams." The station decides it must declare independence from Earth, and now has to fight both the Shadows and the Earth Alliance.
      • Just as big: a season and a half later they retake earth, arrest the old government and establish an alliance.
    • "Into the Fire": the two most powerful races in the galaxy, whose conflict has driven most of the plot so far, go away. Permanently. Sheridan calls it "a new age".
    • The collapse of the Narn empire as a major power; their bombardment and occupation; their liberation.
    • Even the opening credits get in the act. The first two seasons say the station "is our last, best hope for peace". The third season? "The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace — it failed."
    • Almost every episode leaves the world different than it started. That's part of what made the show so awesome.
      • Word of God is that the original script for Soul Mates was rejected because it left everything the same.
  • Friends: Half-way season 3, when Ross cheats on Rachel the dynamics of their relationship literally never go back to be the same.

  Rachel: I can't... You're a totally different person to me now. Now this has changed things... forever...

    • Later in the show, when Chandler and Monica start a relationship and eventually marry.
  • The Series 2 finale of Skins both averts this and plays it straight. On the one hand, one character died, two others left for America and the rest of the group parted ways. On the other hand, an entirely new cast was introduced for Series 3, thus restoring the status quo of a teenage school drama.
  • End of Season 4 of Supernatural. Not only do we have Lucifer rising from hell and kicking off the Apocalypse, the four horsemen riding and the Angels going into full out war mode, there is also a significant change in the relationship between Sam and Dean after the betrayals and secrets of the previous season.
    • Supernatural quickly went back to its old monster of the week format though. Lucifer only showed up occasionally and the horseman were rarely seen and didn't have much impact. The apocalypse really only got lip service while Sam and Dean hunted weekly monsters.
    • Better example: Season 6, where it was revealed that when Sam's body was resurrected at the end of the Season 5 finale, he came back with no soul.
  • At the end of the third season finale of Lost, the flashbacks are revealed to be flash forwards. This Tomato Surprise is not just what changes everything however (though it definitely qualifies as a Wham! Episode). What indicates the permanent change is the undeniable proof that characters make it off the island. As of now, the show is no longer an Ontological Mystery. The outside world begins to play big roles in the ensuing events, and it becomes a more clear-cut conflict driven storyline.
  • Chuck did this multiple times as it underwent very slight Cerebus Syndrome and made the Big Bads of each season become more and more involved.
    • Biggest changes: the end of season 2 when Chuck got the Intersect 2.0 ("I know kung fu!") and the end of season 4, when Chuck and Sarah get married, the heroes break with the CIA to form Carmichael Industries, and Morgan gets the Intersect while Chuck is without it.
  • Battlestar Galactica Reimagined did this twice.
    • Season 2: "Lay Down Your Burdens I & II" ended with the humans giving up the search for earth, to settle on a substitute planet instead. Two years later, after getting settled, the Cylons show up and enslave them all.
    • Season 4.0: "Revelations"; Peace is declared between the fleet and the rebel Cylons, who have been made mortal and apparently been reduced in population to a single Base Ship; together, the two factions locate Earth; and upon landing on it, discover the uninhabitable, radioactive ruins of a city that looks remarkably like New York.
  • House ended Season 3 with the departure of Dr. House's entire staff, to be replaced with new staffmembers for Season 4. Then they all came back, but in supporting roles with the new team taking most of the camera time. Not to mention the end of season 5 when House goes crazy.
    • Apparently, though, this was more or less cosmetic. The old team just won't leave, and the new team keeps breaking up and reforming every episode this season, with the old team more or less back for real now.
    • Although, technically it's half new team/half old team at this point.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did this partially when they introduced the Dominion. Although it retained its interest in the Bajorans and Cardassians, the headaches of running the station, and the usual space opera elements, a hefty dose of war epic took over the rest of the series (and mixed in with all of the above).
    • In the DS9 novels, Bajor finally joins The Federation. Kira moves from a Militia Colonel to a Starfleet Captain, Ro Laren becomes chief of security and starts a relationship with Quark, Odo sends them a Jem'Hadar, First Minister Shakaar is killed off because he's possessed by evil aliens and Ben Sisko returns from the wormhole, but settles on Bajor with his family in unofficial retirement. And that's just for starters.
      • The recent TNG novels are also working to make Nothing The Same Any More (for instance The Borg eat Pluto! It's hard to Hand Wave that sort of thing away later). Basically, with the Canon focused on Prequels, the 24th century has been left wide open for the novels to have some fun with.
      • The even more recent TNG (and their associated crossover) novels have gone even further. The Federation and Klingons were devastated by a Borg invasion, but the Borg were ultimately defeated and are now gone, forever, with billions of former drones now having their own minds back and losing their tech (including Annika Hanson, now the ex-Seven of Nine).
    • Although not on TV, the setting of the new Star Trek MMO is based on this: the setting is the start of the 25th Century. The Klingons and the Federation are back at war, the Romulan Empire is barely holding together after Romulus was destroyed as per the new Star Trek reboot), and more.
  • After poor ratings with the initial standard Star Trek "just jet around exploring the galaxy" plot, Enterprise did a similar "war epic" upgrade, sending the cast on a journey to battle a hostile alien race that had launched a massive 9/11-style attack on Earth.
    • This was then followed up with a confusing time-travel storyline, which led to another change to multi-episode stories (Arguably considered the best out of the four status quos.)
  • Earth: Final Conflict was notorious for significant cast turnover, resulting in a new group of main characters every season or so. The most drastic plot change happened in season 5, where the show ditched its V style plot entirely for something more closely resembling Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but without any depth at all.
  • The early seasons of Stargate SG-1 had the team cast as outmatched, fish-out-of-water soldiers exploring a hostile and alien galaxy in a desperate fight against the galaxy's technologically superior rulers. About halfway through the show, Earth became the most powerful faction in the galaxy, and the tone of the show switched to Earth being sort of the galactic police, protecting the rest of the galaxy from external threats ranging from the interstellar mafia to alien invasions by hostile lego bugs or Crystal Dragon Jesus crusaders. Which makes the idea of the Stargate program being a secret all the more ridiculous, really.
    • Halfway? By season 8 or 9, maybe.
      • It was also a fairly gradual, organic change rather than a sudden shift. We got to watch the Air Force gradually develop better technology — and often failing (as with the early attempts to build a Death Glider - based space fighter) before Earth finally became powerful in its own right. The alliances they relied on for much of their progress also developed gradually. Of course, in the end the whole thing still took them less than a decade, which may still stretch suspension of disbelief for some viewers, but that's more forgivable than if it were a sudden shift...
    • There was also a gradually growing international presence. At first only the US and presumably Canada knew about the SGC (Canada by default: a Canadian general officer is second in command of NORAD, and Canadian personnel work in Cheyenne Mountain and would eventually have to wonder what the hell was happening in the basement). Then the Russians had to become involved when they gained the second stargate, and were hesitant partners (and sometime rivals). Then the UN Security Council had to be informed when external threats became too obvious to hide. And by the end of the series multiple nations had starships and the Antarctica and Atlantis teams were fully multinational.
    • Another big change came at the beginning of season nine, which introduced Cameron Mitchell as the replacement to Jack O'Neill, and reintroduced new team member (or tag-along, originally) Vala Mal Doran. Although Vala was temporarily transported to the Ori galaxy, she returned, and both she and Mitchell stayed for the rest of the series and into the movies. O'Neill continued to have guest spots and was mentioned regularly, but never returned as a main character.
      • That was also a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as O'Neill was slowly phased out of the show per Richard Dean Anderson's request, so he could spend more time with his family. It also just made sense, as by that point Colonel O'Neill was in his 50s. An age at which you'd expect a highly decorated Air Force officer to be promoted to at least Brigadier General and no longer be personally involved in field operations.
  • The last TV episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Willow activating all the potential Slayers, so that there isn't a Chosen One, two, or whatever. The comics have entire armies of Slayers.
  • Angel massively reinvented itself multiple times over its five seasons. The biggest of these events comes in the finale of season four, when when Angel and company start working for the Big Bad. And in the comics, the entire city of Los Angeles is plunged into Hell.
  • A Different World was the perfect representation of this trope. It shows how students' lives change when they graduate from high school and leave home to go to college, and again when you leave college to go into the real world.

  Walter (To Dwayne) :Just remember when you finally do leave here, it's a different world out there.

  • Arrested Development did this quite a lot. Notably, somewhere in the second season, Buster has his hand bitten off by a loose seal. For the rest of the show's run, Buster does not have a hand (he wears a hook, prosthetic hand or nothing on his hand at all from time-to-time).
  • Boy Meets World actually does this surprisingly well after Cory graduates high school and prepares to head to college, and coming to terms with the fact that he'll be leaving home, Mr. Feeny won't be his teacher anymore, and that his favorite restaurant has closed and a new establishment has taken over. In the end, Eric tells him to take a bite of a cheeseburger from the new restaurant, and when Cory admits it tastes good, Eric explains that not all changes are necessarily bad and can be for the better if we're open to new events occurring in our lives.
  • Arguably, on Heroes, when Claire regenerates in full view of the Company Man, blowing the Masquerade that Noah had spent fifteen years of manipulation setting up and keeping up.
    • And at the end of the show, when Claire leaps from a Ferris Wheel to the ground and places her bones back into place in full view of every news network in America.
  • The factions, their members, and the motivations changed between each season of The 4400. The first season was simply dealing with the immediate need to understand the incident and deal with the displaced people. Season two was more of the long term effects of what the event would cause (Including many people who also wanted powers joining a clear Church of Scientology knockoff), and the government trying to use the abducted. Season 3 dealt with more violent actions and strife among the people. Season 4 began the introduction of the super-power serum to the general public (Although it had a 50-50 rate for powers or death), and the pseudo-religious movement to save the world. Season to season, The 4400 had more changes season to season than most other shows, and it more or less worked.
  • In Primeval, Season One ends with Cutter coming back from a trip to the past and realising that he has changed time so he is in an entirely different timeline and quite literally, nothing is the same any more, up to and including one of the main characters no longer existing. This isn't rectified (as yet) so the show changes format fairly drastically for Season Two.
    • In the third episode of season 3, Cutter, leader of the team and arguably the central character of the show, is murdered by the villain (who he'd just saved).
      • As of Series 5, Anomalies have gone global and spectacularly so.
  • Alias did this quite regularly, in fact, one could say the only parts of the show where things were the same for a significant period of time was season one to mid-season two, and early- to late-season four. It even shook up the seeming entire premise of the show (a show about a spy) in the First Episode Spoiler (a show about a double agent father-daughter team.)
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles pulled this off several times, but the biggest was Cameron has traveled to the future with John Henry, John Connor travels to the future with the T-1000, who we've learned has been working with the Resistance by creating an anti-skynet program in the past, while another program exists that is trying to destroy the pro-resistance program. And now that John Connor is in the future, he was never in the past to lead the resistance, so no one in the future knows who he is. And then the show was canceled.
  • Every regeneration in Doctor Who is a mild example of this, but the Troughton-Pertwee switch is worth special mention. None of the characters are maintained, the Time Lords are introduced for the first time, and the Doctor no longer travels in time and space (though after a few years this returned) and the Doctor starts working for UNIT. And plus it's in color!
    • The new series managed this in its first episode. The Time Lords are extinct, the TARDIS's interior has changed dramatically, and the Ninth Doctor shows up after having just recently regenerated (and changed his wardrobe) offscreen.
    • The Tenth Doctor said goodbye to all his former companions, regenerated alone, and effectively destroyed the TARDIS control room in doing so. By the end of "The Eleventh Hour," the newly minted Eleventh Doctor has a regenerated TARDIS, a new sonic screwdriver, a new companion, and a bowtie.
  • The Torchwood: Children of Earth miniseries was just one big Wham Moment after another. It had already started at the conclusion of the previous series which killed two of the main cast. This series further stepped up the Wham by brutally destroying the remaining team members base, killing another teammate and leading to the main character leaving Earth after being forced to kill his own grandson. Plus Gwen becomes a mother. Torchwood's fourth series, Miracle Day, continues the trend with a ten-episode arc set largely in the USA, with new protagonists in addition to those who survived Children of Earth. By the end of the season two of the new protagonists have died and one of them has become immortal.
  • The Season 4 final episode of ICarly has a Shocking Swerve which confirms Sam is in love with Freddie, who already has an existing thing with Carly who might be hiding her own hidden feelings for Freddie. The creator of the show accidentally leaked most of the episodes from season 5 (he removed and replaced the picture). If the episode titles are true, it will destroy the Status Quo Is God element of the show, and ramp it up into a full fledged Love Triangle.
    • Subverted: After a five episode stint, everything went back to the way it was before.
  • Season 4 of Eureka seriously shakes up the status quo by transporting five main characters and Dr. Grant to an alternate timeline where their relationships, personalities, or jobs may be very different. For the time being, this state of affairs seems to be permanent.
  • Red Dwarf did this twice. Firstly in Series 6, where the crew lose the eponymous ship, and once again when they get it back at the end of Series 7 - but all the crew that died in the very first episode are re-instated, so the ship is fully populated for the first time since that first episode. Back To Earth seems to set this up by them going back to Earth, but it's another squid like the despair squid at the end of Series 5 (Back to Reality), which also appeared to set this up by them supposedly being in a videogame the whole time. Status Quo Is God in these cases. Series 3 also changed the premise slightly, going from isolation to a more action-adventure show.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess shook things up with "The Deliverer," which saw Gabrielle commit her first kill (thus losing her blood innocence), the introduction of Dahak and the beginning of the "Rift" arc. A shaken Gabrielle even laments, "Everything's different now."
  • Game of Thrones, though based upon a series of novels that had been around for over a decade, was lauded by some critics for having the guts to kill off Ned Stark, played by Sean Bean, who had been prominently featured in the promotional material for the season, in the ninth of ten episodes. Indeed, as the series moves along, Martin's gut-wrenching style will likely be pushing the limits of what a TV audience is willing to endure with regards to the characters they love the most.
  • The first season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand ends with half of the main characters being killed, The Rival joining the good guys, and all the slaves escaping. Season 2 hasn't started yet, but it's obvious that the show will have to almost completely change its format. And recast Spartacus.
  • Three key moments have changed things forever on Merlin: Arthur impulsively kissing Guinevere, Merlin being forced to poison Morgana in order to break a fatal spell over Camelot, and King Uther's death.
    • As of the end of series four, Camelot now has a Queen: Guinevere.
  • Pointed out by Abed in Community after Jeff and Britta had sex.

Mythology & Religion

  • The Bible has both historical and religious examples.
    • Historically, Babylon destroys Jerusalem and takes the Israelites into captivity, ending the Davidic dynasty of kings.
    • Religiously, Jesus' life and death, which replaces the Mosaic Law with principles like the Golden Rule, erases God's favoritism towards the Israelites, and changes God's modus operandi from sponsoring a physical country with borders that need defending inhabited by a single race to sponsoring a spiritual nation separated from earthly war and politics populated by anyone who wants to serve God.
    • And then, a few decades later, Jerusalem gets destroyed again, this time by the Romans, and the Diaspora happens.
  • Norse Mythology has the death of Baldur by Loki, Odin has one of Loki's sons killed in return, and when Loki gets mad about this and insults the Aesir, they capture and bind him. It's at this point when Loki turns from Trickster Archetype to Big Bad and Ragnarok turns from being prophecy to inevitable occurrence.

Newspaper Comics

Tabletop Games

  • The Spellplague that marked the transition of the Forgotten Realms from Dungeons and Dragons from 3E to 4E was essentially this. Not everyone took this change well.
    • Long before that, The Time of Troubles transitioned the setting from 1E to 2E. Interestingly, the transition from 2E to 3E was merely Handwaved, the only significant change being the return of Bane. Although the final line of "Die Vecna Die!" (one of the last official 2E modules, whose purpose was largely to be an in-universe explanation of the changes) was "Nothing will ever be the same again."
  • When a Critical Shift goes down in Feng Shui, if the PCs have no way of reversing this, it is essentially this.


  • Bionicle's story went in a relatively steady pace for the initial three years, but after that, every succeeding year trampled over the previously established status quo until there was almost nothing left of the original plot. In "short":
    • 2001: Six Toa arrive on a besieged tropical island to stop the Makuta and awaken Mata Nui.
    • '02: The heroes go through a Mid-Season Upgrade.
    • '03: A former important supporting character becomes the Seventh Toa, the Makuta is seemingly killed. The islanders rebuild themselves to be stronger.
    • '04: Whole-Episode Flashback to the ancient city of Metru Nui. Turns out the entire story up to this point was a lie, and there were more Toa and Makuta, and various other organizations, and way more islands.
    • '05: Continuing the Flash Back, Metru Nui is in ruins.
    • '06: Metru Nui, in the present, is repopulated. Every character adopts a new life. Six former side characters become Toa. A secret organization is revealed. Makuta returns.
    • '07: The new Toa change permanently and one of them is Killed Off for Real. The original island from '01 is demolished.
    • '08: The island is fully destroyed as Mata Nui awakens, but Makuta takes over his body, thus the villain wins. Tons of characters are killed off. We find out Mata Nui is actually a huge robot and every character is a malfunctioning mechanoid, and as such, the whole story is the result of an unintended glitch.
    • '09: We're introduced to a brand new world, Bara Magna. Mata Nui makes a new body and wins a war for the locals. Meanwhile, the original universe becomes a vile Crapsack World.
    • '10: Makuta is offed, the entire original universe and every place we've seen is destroyed, Mata Nui goes back to stasis, Bara Magna becomes the beautiful Spherus Magna, every mutation done to characters is reversed, and the leader of the original group of Toa is de-evolved into his original stature. Lots of important characters get killed in side stories. Oh, and the Bionicle franchise ends.
    • '11: The untied plot threads are further complicated in official web-serials, and seemingly every new chapter rewrites the story in some way, some spectacularly so. The writer must be aiming to set a record.

Video Games

  • The first 3 games in the Rainbow Six series established the series as a groundbreaking tactical shooter, with 1-hit-kill realism and the importance of squad-based mission planning over twitch-and-shoot reflexes. The latest games in the series are standard linear-level first-person shooters, with Rainbow Six: Vegas even having regenerative health.
    • It evolved, but the original games required twitch-and-shoot reflexes because the The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. It took until Raven Shield where it was feasible for your team to have a turnover rate, as opposed to everyone being either alive or wiped out.
  • Splinter Cell: Double Agent and Splinter Cell: Conviction change the series from being about Sam Fisher, badass SIGINT Ninja battling terrorists for a secret BlackOps branch of the US government, to being about Sam Fisher, badass fugitive on the run from the US government for a crime he didn't commit (although gameplay in Double Agent at least is largely unchanged, as Sam is surprisingly well-equipped for a supposed outlaw).
  • Final Fantasy VI had the Big Bad pretty much destroy civilization halfway through the game.
  • As a meta example, Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series to focus on gritty futuristic city adventuring rather than high fantasy. Although the status quo had already been changed considerably by the Steampunk Final Fantasy VI, VII goes all the way: the opening sequence shows a character holding a glowing fantasy-style crystal for about five seconds, and zooms out to show a massive, filthy, neon sci-fi metropolis. That one scene just about crushed any obligation to include castles and princesses in the series forever.
  • Jak and Daxter was a typical Naughty Dog platformer with a forgettable plot, it's two sequels though that send the characters into the future were much darker GTA style games, with a much deeper story.
  • Arguably, The Neverhood's Battle of Robot Bil completely changes the tone of the remainder of the game. For a Widget Series-type story with bizarre settings and lots of bizarre humor, you would hardly expect your only allies abruptly getting killed off, leaving you all alone inside the creepy Big Bad's place where no bizarre humour can even exist, with hint messages from Willie discontinued for obvious reasons.
  • Metroid Fusion has the Metroids being extinct. Unfortunately, every other Metroid game that came out after this (back in 2002) has been set before Fusion! Metroids keep being bred, and killed off in the last 2 games before this (storylinewise, those being Super Metroid and Metroid: Other M. If there is a game set after Fusion, it will either seriously shake up the plot, or somehow Metroids will exist again, keeping the former Status Quo.
  • The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker is a similar case, permanently sealing Ganondorf, the Triforce, the Master Sword and Hyrule itself deep under the ocean in a finale based on letting go of the past and accepting "the winds of change". Of course, the only games set after Wind Waker are the two DS games, with the second taking place in a new Hyrule. All other games set after Ocarina of Time take place in an Alternate Timeline.
  • World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is the Nothing Is the Same Anymore Expansion. While the first two expansions each opened a new continent without touching the old world, bar minor details, this expansion tears the status quo and runs over its remains on a steamroller. Azeroth is hit by the eponymous Cataclysm, some zones are left completely wrecked while others change hands, and virtually every zone has its questing experience significantly revamped.
  • The first third or so of the original Shin Megami Tensei was Urban Fantasy Just Before the End. That probably tells you what the rest of the game is set in.
  • This is a major part of Mass Effect 2. After Shepard is brought back from the dead he/she tries to bring the old crew back together but most of them have moved on or do not want to join him, including his/her old love interests. Only two of the old squad members rejoin and they have changed during the two years. The new Normandy is not quite the same as the old one. Since Shepard now works for Cerberus and not the Alliance military people react differently to him/her.


  • Webcomic example: Starslip Crisis when it became Starslip: The main characters starslipped into a universe where starslip drive was outlawed and almost immediately afterward crushed Katarakis' evil plans before they came to fruition (since the "present time" in this universe is two years earlier than the one in the previous universe), causing Vanderbeam to keep/regain his position as captain. The loss of the starslip drive then caused the Terran Consortium to collapse and be repurposed as the "United Star Configuration". The Fuseli is then decomissioned and turned into an orbiting space museum while Vanderbeam and his crew are reassigned to the starship Paradigm, thus making the strip a bit closer to traditional Space Opera. Jovia is still dead, though.
    • And Vanderbeam's suit has become the uniform... somehow.
  • The utter destruction of Azure City and the Sapphire Guard (including Big Good Lord Shojo) results in the splitting of the main party, the death of the main character, and the seeming total victory of the forces of Evil in Order of the Stick.
    • Several hundred comics later, Roy is back to life and the party has been reunited, partially returning to the status quo... but not entirely.
  • Sluggy Freelance does this occasionally, but the most recent arc hit this hard. Hereti Corp finally manages to capture Oasis, Riff and Zoe are trapped in an apparently dystopian world, and Torg is slowly going insane from all of this. Oh, and Torg, Bun Bun, Sam, and Sasha are now working for the Minion Master to lay low, but that's pretty minor compared to everything else that happened.
  • In Questionable Content, beginning at strip 500 when Faye tells Marten how her father had committed suicide in front of her.
  • John Kossler, author of The Word Weary, states in About section that he tries to avoid Status Quo Is God and make any changes he makes to his characters stick.

Western Animation

  • Daria: The final episode of season 3, "Jane's Addition," marked a major change in the series. For instance, it introduced Tom Sloan, who would become a major love interest of Jane and then Daria while Daria finally gets over her infatuation with Trent when he lets her down on a school project. Furthermore, it marked the discarding of the series' Reset Button to begin a Story Arc in which all the characters begin to mature while facing situations that would change them forever.
  • Proving that barriers were meant to be broken, Transformers: Beast Wars did this on Saturday morning while advertising toys. At the start of each season, natch. Season two shook things up a little by introducing the Transmetals, altering the planet, etc.; season three shook things up a lot by destroying the Axalon and forcing the Maximals to move into the Ark, putting them on the defensive until the series finale. And that's to say nothing of... well, it's on DVD, and it's worth seeing.
    • You forgot the part where they killed off several beloved characters, one in the most gut-wrenching way imaginable.
    • The third series of Transformers Animated is also seen as being very different than its predecessors, starting with Sari being revealed to be a robot and going from there. Its tone is also much darker than the earlier seasons- onscreen death starts up, for example.
    • Of course, this all pales in comparison to Transformers: The Movie, which neatly divides Transformers Generation 1 into what could be easily mistaken for two entirely different series.
  • Re Boot did it very well. After an episodic first season in which Status Quo Is God, a Wham! Episode kicked in, changed everything, gave the new premise some time to settle in, and then did the same thing again.
    • For those interested, the first Wham! Episode had Bob expelled from Mainframe and into the Web. Enzo was now left as the new guardian. After a few episodes, Enzo was defeated in one of the games, and in order to avoid being Nullified he had to change his Icon so that the game took him with it instead. And to hammer the point home, a Time Skip came right after.
    • Basically after that episode, there is no Status Quo anymore. Wandering the net only lasts a few episodes before switching to searching the web and then switching to reclaiming Mainframe from Megabyte. Season 4 deceptively tries to reestablish the old Status Quo, but then throws it out the window with Megabyte taking over in the Cliff Hanger.
  • The third season of The Venture Brothers ended with Brock quitting the OSI and leaving the Ventures, all the Hank and Dean clones dead (rendering the main characters killable) and 24 dying.
    • The end of the first season was a pretty big change, too: The boys died. They came back in the second season, of course, but it confirmed that the boys were clones, which was only hinted at before.
    • Er, 24's head had been blown completely off of his body in an explosion and fell in 21's arms. On fire. Dying isn't really the word here, so much as quite obviously completely dead.
  • The Avalon and Gathering storylines in Gargoyles completely rewrote the Gargoyles' situation. Xanatos pulled a Heel Face Turn, and the Gargoyles returned to their castle. Owen and Puck were revealed to be the same person and Puck was (mostly) depowered. The Phoenix Gate has been destroyed. And there's gargoyle clans everywhere in the world. So many conflicts were resolved that, just to provide more season fodder, The Masquerade had to break.
  • Frisky Dingo tried to do this in almost every episode. Friends and enemies switch sides with blinding speed, Season-spanning quests get cut off anticlimactically, and maybe three-fourths of the main cast get Killed Off for Real.
  • The first episode of the retooled Doug invoked this trope.
  • South Park invokes this in the episodes "You're Getting Old" and "Ass Burgers", in which Stan starts seeing and hearing everything as shit, and from there it spirals out — Randy starts a career as "Steamy Ray Vaughn", Carol divorces him and moves downtown with her kids, Stan no longer has any friends, Cartman and Kyle become friends, Cartman creates a food franchise, and the President of the United States is a duck. All of which were undone in the end... just as Stan was starting to look forward to what the new status quo had to offer.
  • Young Justice: The first episode of the second season does this thanks to a Time Skip.