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"Thank goodness everything is back to normal! Which is the only way it should ever be."

Marge Simpson, The Simpsons

A more extreme version of Failure Is the Only Option, in which almost nothing changes. This usually happens in a series with no overarching conflict, although it is also the final stage of Exponential Plot Delay, the phenomenon in which the plot of a serial story has totally ground to a halt. In either case, each installment of the series will open under virtually identical circumstances to the installment that came before.

The reasoning for this is probably that the creators want the audience to instantly know everything about the characters and situation, without having to bother with such things as "what happened last episode". For example, they may use a title sequence that tells us everything we need to know, or, if the series has a serial plot, flashbacks, since Viewers Are Goldfish. Much like Failure Is the Only Option, any changes at all are resolved with a Snap Back or Reset Button. And God forbid anyone change the status quo of the surrounding world.

This trope is especially true for cartoons, where networks want to be free to broadcast reruns in any convenient order or lack thereof. Cartoons with Story Arcs have slowly started becoming more popular over the past decade or so, perhaps influenced by the popularity of the many, many Anime series which have an ongoing continuity. Or, perhaps, simply as a result of a generation of Americans and other Western audiences (implied by the previous statement) growing up with more complex media as the Eastern audience had the generation before along with the increasing availability of personal creative display via the Internet. It's still especially common in sitcoms, though—and as a result, there are plenty of Broken Aesops created by the fact that, although characters have learned their lessons or attempted to improve their predicaments, nothing ever really changes.

It can be very difficult to juggle an unchanging status quo without gradually turning off your audience; characters and situations which never change tend to get stale after a while, and audiences can get a bit tired of seeing the Reset Button being pushed every time it looks like something might happen to change things—especially if the thwarted change was potentially more interesting than the current status quo. Furthermore, there's a risk of Moral Dissonance. Writers sometimes conflate a storytelling imperative with a moral one, and expect viewers to approve of the reversion of positive character development or of a character turning down her dream job so that she can keep the same drinking buddies.

This trope is especially notorious when applied to Shipping. Ever get the feeling that while a certain story may enjoy some Ship Tease, the fanfiction seems to be the only stories that actually develop these insinuated romances and the writer(s) would like to keep it that way? Ever notice how many times there are characters whose sole purpose in the plot is to be a perpetually unrequited love interest? (Though granted often enough if that is the case then the script will just LOVE to remind us every chance it gets.) Fortunately while there are some cases in which it can either go in a good way or a bad way. But there is a pretty darn good chance that many stories will love to imply potential romances every chance they get but whether if they actually do anything BUT imply them can be a different story.

Status Quo Is God is a very powerful trope, even more powerful than the notoriously powerful Happily Ever After trope. It often happens that a show will be the kind of show that lends itself to Happily Ever After endings and usually has them. But sometimes, a story can't have an ending that is both happy and maintains the status quo—thus, these two powerful tropes are in conflict with each other. When this conflict occurs, it's likely that the status quo will be maintained, and the ending will be less happy than it might have been if not for Status Quo Is God.

Negative Continuity is what happens when the writers become too aware of the ramifications of this: they change anything and everything every episode, knowing that absolutely none of it will ever stick.

Related to Just Eat Gilligan and Un Confession. For the opposite, see Nothing Is the Same Anymore. Contrast Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome. Has nothing to do with the divinity of a certain rock band.

Examples of Status Quo Is God include:

Anime & Manga

  • Successful ongoing anime series often release tie-in movies that can be problematic to place in the continuity of the show and are never actually mentioned in the series, becoming little more than filler.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Movie plays with this trope, as the characters literally mention how many powerful cards they have that they will never use again, and how they will never mention the events that happened in the film again.
    • The Netherworld is never mentioned after Poltergeist Report.
    • Bleach: Memories of Nobody does this but they actually have an explanation.
  • Love Hina manages to reset practically every character or relationship development, even finally getting into Tokyo University or Naru shouting she loves Keitaro at the top of her lungs when he is only a few feet away seems to have no effect whatsoever.
    • Averted by the end, thankfully. Sometimes at the last possible second, but averted. Still doesn't make up for them toying with it earlier.
  • Though not entirely bound to the trope, Ranma ½'s only means of advancing its story appear to have been introducing new characters (possibly explaining its over time rather large cast), or having an existing character learn a new combat technique (usually to little lasting avail). Two of the story's main features, the relationships of the characters and the curses that some of them carried, remained set in stone despite the characters' many attempts to alter them one way or another. In fact, when the story got to the point where it had nowhere to go but to change, the series ended.
  • It's not just Ranma ½. This pretty much describes every Rumiko Takahashi regular series (swapping "curses" for "mental hangups" and "unkillable bad guys" where applicable). Maison Ikkoku being the sole exception (So far...), and even then, change took 96 episodes to arrive and stick.
  • This is painfully common in Inuyasha. Naraku proves to be such an unkillable bastard that he manages to maintain his status as the Big Bad for several hundred chapters, and is generally always the Man Behind the Man for every other villain who doesn't happen to be a Monster of the Week.
    • The third movie is also notably guilty; the enchanted "sit!" beads are broken partway into the movie, but since - like most other feature-length movies made from anime series - the film isn't part of series canon, the beads have to be replaced, which is handled by a post-credits scene in which Kagome puts them back on him for... no real reason.
  • Face it: Ash's Pikachu is never going to be a Raichu. This is explained in a few episodes, most notably when the Vermilion Gym match has it face its evolved form. In-universe, it's a matter of pride. In real life, it's because they'd have to redesign the series' iconic mascot.
    • Ash's Bulbasaur—while not quite as popular as its teammate—has this same dilemma when it shows signs of evolution (unlike Pikachu, Bulbasaur evolves by level). Once again, it's explained as a matter of pride. It's likely really because Ivysaur and Venusaur, while more powerful, aren't as cute, and Ash is apparently only allowed to have one fully-evolved Pokémon per series. Bulbasaur has a Crowning Moment of Awesome as a result when it uses Solar Beam for the first time.
    • On this note, Ash will always hit the Reset Button whenever he finds out about a new region, ditching the Big Three of the last in favor of the next. Also Pikachu as well will go on from defeating legendaries to losing to rookies. And don't even start on Team Rocket, who are perhaps the masters of maintaining the status quo of being ineffectual villains.
    • Speaking of Team Rocket, EVERY. SINGLE. TEAM ROCKET. SPLITTING UP. EPISODE. One has to wonder how many times the writers will recycle a plot about Team Rocket splitting up only to get back together by the end of the episode.
      • Once more Best Wishes subverts it: Meowth splits from Jessie and James and, while it's most likely not permanent, he stays with Ash and company for several episodes rather than just one.
    • Ash will never win a League arc based on the main series's regions. Painfully enforced in the Sinnoh League, where Ash was bested by Tobias and his Darkrai and Latios. The fact that Ash put a better dent in his team than the person Tobias faced next implied that Ash would have won the whole tournament if it weren't for the poorly-established man.
      • It makes one wonder... if they had to bring out a user of legendary Pokemon, what will Ash face in the Unova league?
    • As of September 16th, 2019, this Status Quo is broken too. Behold the new Champion of the Aloha League!
  • The GetBackers do not make a profit. Ever. On the off chance their task is performed to one hundred percent perfection and their client is on the up-and-up, they'll spend it almost instantly.
    • Or will be billed for the collateral damage they racked up on their mission, or have their fees taken by the outside contractors they hired to assist them, or Paul will just take their payment as part of the payment for their monstrously huge tab...
  • Ditto the crew of the Bebop (as far as their financial fortunes went, at any rate). Although some people would say that if gambling was involved (which given that Faye Valentine is part of the crew is definitely a possibility), then their Perpetual Poverty was probably inevitable.
  • And again ditto Lupin III. There's also the Egregious example of the movie Island of Assassins, which ends with Lupin and Fujiko both trapped in a blimp that they can't leave without activating a lethal poison, and with the one known antidote explicitly shown to have failed. Needless to say, it never comes up again.
  • Anime Filler naturally can't affect the overall plot too much. Two interesting examples from Naruto:
    • Sasuke is in the hospital at the end of the "Search for Tsunade" arc but gets revived in time for the Land of Tea filler arc. Since the next arc begins with Sasuke in the hospital, he gets injured again in the filler.
    • In the Fuma Clan filler arc, Naruto and Sakura fight Kabuto... but since he's too major a villain to kill off, it turns out to be someone else in disguise.
      • The same filler arc features Orochimaru. Also as a disguised filler villain. Speaking with villain-disguised-as-Kabuto. Amongst themselves. In character as Orochimaru and Kabuto! Though presumably the idea was that Orochimaru left these disguised villains behind in his base as decoys, the way it was presented manages to combine all the worst aspects of Never Trust a Trailer within the context of the episode itself.
    • This also applies to any filler arc that has at least some potential to get Naruto close to finding Orochimaru and/or Sasuke (Mizuki, Bikochuu, Land of Sea, Three Tails). In the Treasure Hunt arc, Tsunade threatens to send Naruto, Hinata and Kiba back to the academy if they fail—they obviously don't.
    • She was probably lying in the first place.
    • The Three-Tails filler arc focuses on the struggle between Konoha and Orochimaru over the Three Tailed Beast. If you read the manga, you know that Akatsuki manages to capture it, making the outcome no longer a surprise.
  • The "perpetually broke" version of this trope was played with in One Piece. Despite being pirates, the Straw Hats don't usually have much money around. In one anime filler arc, they finally have gotten their hands on a pile of gold, but they end up in tightly secured Marine base. Just when they make it back to their ship and are on their way to freedom, they realize that all their gold was confiscated by the Marines. Just when you think they'll sigh and suck it up, they turn around and break into the base to get it back. However, the status quo at the time was that they had already had a bunch of treasure they just haven't sold yet, so it's kind of a wash. A couple of islands later, they have it converted to cash and, soon enough, two of their three hundred million Berries is stolen and spent before they can get it back. But at the end of it all, the money went into materials used to build them a kick ass new ship.
    • In Movie 4, in which they enter a contest with the same amount of berries as the worth of the aforementioned pile of treasure, they win the contest, but are forced to leave before they collect their winnings.
    • In Movie 7, the crew agrees to return an old woman to an island in exchange for information regarding the island's secret treasure. Despite the local maniacal mechanical genius in charge constantly trying to take them out, they manage to reveal the fact that the entire island is a giant turtle which lays eggs with solid gold shells. The Straw Hats set sail at the end of the movie with a large piece of a shell in tow as thanks for saving everyone... only for it to sink moments later.
  • In Excel Saga, the group ACROSS will never completely take over Fukuoka City, but they can at least make progress. In the anime though, every mission ACROSS attempts will end in failure and they will be no closer to controlling F City then when they started at the beginning of the episode.
  • Keroro Gunsou is particularly devoted to this trope. Let's face it, Keroro will continue building Gunpla and ticking Natsumi off, Tamama will continue eating candy and obsessing over Keroro, Giroro will continue to be infatuated with Natsumi and shine his guns, Kururu will continue being a jerk and eating curry, and Dororo will continue to sit in a corner and cry. NOTHING SHALL CHANGE.
    • Lampshaded in one episode where Momoka visualises herself still watching Fuyuki quietly from a corner. In the future. Where both are well into their eighties. Apparently the Japanese are known to age well, but still...
  • Harima will always be in love with Tenma. And - warning significant spoilers : nothing ever changes. No relationships are resolved, no character development ever really occurs, and all the Ship Tease? Comes to nothing. Absolutely nothing. Placed in spoilers for those who are still watching the series.
  • To Heart 2: After thirteen episodes and five OVAs, the Unlucky Everydude still hasn't chosen a girl out of his Harem.
  • In Gintama, no matter how many jobs the protagonists take on, they will never make any profit. And the rent never gets paid. Ever.
    • Subverted with Gintoki's sword. It is revealed in one episode that in case one gets broken, he just orders another from a galactic shopping channel and has it customized so it looks exactly the same as the previous one.
    • Gintoki manages to pay the rent few times by helping Otose with her problems (i.e. preventing Katherine from running off with Otose's money at the beginning, saving Otose's life). And in one chapter, Gintoki pays the rent in cash (even though he is forced to do so by Tama).
  • Bleach: As of Chapter 423 the Status Quo pre-Aizen's betrayal is God once again in Seireitei. Central 46 has been repopulated from nowhere and all of the Captains of Soul Society are apparently alive and well. There's no mention of the Vizards, Ichigo, Isshin, Urahara or anyone else involved outside of the Gotei 13 either. Perhaps more accurately described as a Reset Button moment.
    • Which means that The Vizards and Quincy are still under threat of death by Soul Society and Yama-Jerkass-moto is still in charge.
      • Subverted some of the vizards have been reinstated as captains.
    • Status Quo hits the heroes with either a new power or development every season; Ichigo has gotten his sword in season one, Shikai in season two, bankai in three or four, his hollow abilities in five, lost all of this in six, and regained powers in seven THEN had them replaced. Uyru has a new bow every arc, Orihime had her powers unexplained until the Arrancar arcs then gained a new ability in the Fullbringers arc, and Chad gained a new arm in Las Noches and found out he was a Fullbringer in the named arc. However, with these new powers, the heroes have to be knocked to the side by the residential rival(s) of the arc every time they do gain a power.
    • Status Quo also have this grasp on dating; there can be only Ship Tease; and it doesn't matter with Orihime not only announced her love to Ichigo and nearly kissed him, but also showing signs of Stockholm Syndrome.
  • This is in fact a very important plot point in Tenshi ni Narumon where the heroine who throughout the whole series was aspiring to become an angel for her loved one, upon gaining her much-awaited wings decides she doesn't really want to be an angel anymore. This applies to the majority of characters. The message is that you don't have to change when your loved ones love you the way you are and that change may sometimes lead to losing all that you held precious to your heart.
  • Unintentionally created by the season 2 finale of The Big O. As the two mechs duke it out a third, goddess, shows up and at first starts deleting everything until Roger convinces her to give the world a chance. It is implied that this has happened before and because there is no season three it could happen again.
  • In the Tenchi Muyo! manga series, despite it running for 22 volumes, Tenchi STILL never chooses a girl. Oh, and if the house blows up, it'll be good as new next story. One story lampshaded this a bit.
    • Admittedly, though, the manga does subvert a lot of how the OVA worked - the gang goes out to more places, the characters are a lot more outgoing, Mihoshi has a driver's licence, Sasami goes to school, among others.


  • Marvel/DC Comics live by this trope. They've really put themselves into a Catch-22 situation, they can change things around and kill off characters and whatnot, but killing popular characters will cause an uproar among fans; if they pursue their current strategy of keeping things the way they are, then people get to come on this wiki and put them here in this trope for not changing anything.
    • It's a little more complicated than that. Things can and often do change in comics over years and decades, but there's always the possibility of another writer or editor coming in later and changing it back. Other times, a writer may introduce a change that is intended to be temporary, but allows them to spend a few issues (sometimes even a whole year) exploring a new concept. If it proves popular enough, it can even become a permanent change... that could end up getting changed back years later by a new writer that preferred things the old way, and/or wants to bring the character "back to his roots". The latter is a big part of Running the Asylum.
      • Of course in each specific case the details matter. Some things should probably stay the same, other change permanently, to make a good story. One of the reasons the X-Men comics (in their various iterations) became so popular was that for a long, long time, one man was in charge, modulo a big of executive meddling. Chris Claremont wrote the characters for years on end, could maintain long-running plot-lines, his changes and his not-changes were part of a larger coherent picture. Even his occasional retcons usually served a larger ongoing theme and usually didn't strain too much WSOD in context. The classic examples would be the Dark Phoenix Saga, or his ongoing revelation about why Magneto is the way he is, complete with gradually revealed explanations about his youth, real name, personality, etc. He turned Magneto from a cardboard villain into a character. Note how fast it all fell apart when it was no longer under the guiding hand on one person.
    • For example, old Batman foe the Riddler reformed in 2006 and has become a private detective, which not only is he good at and indulges his obsession a bit, but also seems to be changing him morally for the better. But nobody, anywhere, expects it to last (unfortunately).
    • About another Batman foe: Poor Harvey Dent is a victim of this. No matter how many times his face and sanity are restored, soon he is driven back to his (half)disfigured face and insanity, even in some out-of-mainstream-continuity stories, like Batman: Black and White. In an Alternate Future from Frank Miller's limited series The Dark Knight Returns, only his face is restored, not his sanity. It Gets Worse: His good side vanished, leaving him all "normal" outside and all monstrous inside.
    • One of the most obvious and dramatic examples is Guy Gardner, who lost his power ring after it was destroyed by Parallax. Guy went on to get a full rework, including new powers, a new look, a new supporting cast and a new job. This lasted for several years—about a year and a half of which was actually in his own ongoing monthly—until Geoff Johns wrote Green Lantern Rebirth, which snapped him back to his '80s status quo without any real explanation.
      • Guy Gardner may be back to being a Green Lantern, but his character is not what it was in the 80s and 90s. He's changed over time. Gardner isn't the dumb obnoxious jerk he used to be, though his attitude is somewhat similar. Instead he's simply a jerk with an attitude on the surface, while showing far more depth of character and loyalty beneath, particularly with Kyle Rayner. And that awful bowl haircut is gone too.
    • Charles Xavier of the X-Men was first introduced as an invalid who uses a wheelchair. Several times during the comic's run, Xavier has regained the use of his legs; however, it's only a matter of time until something comes along to reverse this situation, be it undoing whatever allowed his legs to heal or sustaining a new injury, like a broken back. How many times has his spine snapped? That wheelchair is his status quo.
    • No matter how strained the metaphor gets the X-Men will always be discriminated against to the point that an elected official can openly proclaim he's going to "get rid of" a gazillion mutant children with nobody batting an eye. Imagine if a politician said "I want * insert ethnicity* to be destroyed" in real life.
    • Poor Benjamin Grimm will always be The Thing. Reed Richards' various attempts to find a cure to his condition will never work, or if so always be reversed.
    • Not only can Dr. Doom never be killed for real, but he'll never lose control over Latveria for too long, since him being King and Dictator is a very important part of the character's concept. Is there such a thing as Joker Diplomatic Immunity? Also, his face will never get better, though this seems to be a conscious decision on his part so that he'll always have a permanent reminder of Reed's "crimes" against him.
    • Spider-Man. Oh Galactus, Spider-Man. Marvel is dead-set on dragging him back to a single guy living with his Aunt May, no matter how many Ass Pulls or Voodoo Sharks it takes. See The Clone Saga (an attempt to drastically change things, only Marvel chickened out, and some things that did change like Aunt May's death got reversed almost immediately afterward) and One More Day (which restores things to the status quo of twenty years ago), both terms considered practically synonymous with "Dork Age".
      • Speaking of Spider-Man... As of the "Spider-Island" arc, his girlfriend dumped him, the psychic block preventing people from learning his secret identity is gone, and he and MJ have decided to rekindle their relationship}}. It also gave Spider-Girl back her powers, which she had lost a few years ago, and Eddie Brock is no longer Anti-Venom.
    • The thing is that while both companies may use this trope in regards to a handful of characters, over the last decade they've defined themselves by subverting this trope... constantly. Every year seems to bring a new Crisis Crossover that promises to "shake up the status quo", to the point that not only is Status Quo Is Not God, but it doesn't even exist in any meaningful fashion. Things never have time to settle into being normal and regular enough for there to be a status quo before everything's uprooted and shuffled around again.
    • Hell, Batman/Spiderman villains thrive on this policy. The Joker especially, who has a trope named after him. He can kill and destroy as many lives as he wants, (including many of Batman's friends and family) and all Bats seems to do is punch him a few times and send him back to an easily escapable prison/asylum. He'll always be there to menace the Bat, and the ramifications of this continual (and destructive) cycle never seem to dawn on the Caped Crusader's mind much. Because if he WERE to be taken out, it'd recquire NEW villains being created to try and take his place, and that can be a bit hard when it comes to Bat villains, as he's already faced quite the litany of psychopaths.
      • Same goes for Spidey too, because for a long time most of his villains seemed to stay down for a while after each run-in. Now it's like they can mend broken bones within mere days and be back on their feet within a week to menace him again.
  • Villains are generally hard-hit with this trope in comics if they ever try a Heel Face Turn. No matter how much Character Development they're given, somewhere along the line someone will decide that they were "more interesting" as a villain and send them right back to knocking over banks or trying to murder the heroes again, with little to no explanation as to why they've gone back to their old ways.
    • Not to mention that Joker Immunity ensures that they'll never endure the kind of trauma that the heroes go through. Joker will never get his spine broken and struggle to recover, nor will Lex Luthor have to deal being killed and revived. This trope may become a subtle form of Villain Decay as putting the heroes through so much and the villains significantly less in comparison, could see cynical readers lose interest if they can't see why the villains are a threat aside from plot purposes and the usual "willing to kill" trait.
      • Well..during the '90 Luthor died (sort of) and revived as his very hairy clone/son. The Riddler too "died" and was reborn (to cure his brain cancer) before the Hush storyline
    • This is what has given everyone the Foregone Conclusion of Loki eventually going back to his usual self, despite being turned into a kid with about half his memories, who, for the moment, practically worships Thor. A lot of the impact of the arc comes not from wondering if the change will stick (because it won't), but on the possible effects it will have once things are back to Status Quo. The change will never be major for an establsihed villain like Loki (even if he gets some Draco in Leather Pants treatment for fans; others like him the way he is: evil), but sometimes the sublte things stick.
      • The current writer of Thor (for the moment renamed Journey into Mystery) is making sure to point out that Loki turning evil again IS NOT a foregone conclusion, since Thor destroyed the Ragnarok cycle which contained the norn's writings that decreed the destinies of the Asgardians, enabling all of them to Screw Destiny, Loki included. For the moment he's a Kid Hero-Antihero combination. Not that any of that will matter, of course, the moment someone else is writing it.
    • DC Comics once had an anvilicious way of showing why Superman doesn't take a vacation - by having a bunch of children murdered by one of his lesser-known foes. And this was after he died and came back to life!
  • Sometimes, the more psychotic villains of comics will be an inch away from winning, when they realize that defeating their long-time nemesis just feels too weird or empty, and willingly give up and surrender, eliminating any trauma that they may be inflicting on the hero, and destroying any chance of power or control they might have assumed through the victory.
  • The Archie Comics Love Showdown storyline promised that Archie would chose either Betty or Veronica once and for all. The four part story ends with him choosing Third Option Love Interest, but was followed up with a special that essentially sets the situation back to normal.
  • In Archies Sonic the Hedgehog, the Eggman that Sonic's been fighting is from another universe (the original Robotnik died relatively early in the comic's run). When Sonic told Zonic the Zone Cop about this in #197, he didn't care, because "Sonic Prime has to fight a Robotnik."
  • You didn't really think a character called Deadman would get to be alive for very long, did you?
  • Les Légendaires is probably the only case where this trope is played straight and adverted at the same time: the heroes' main goal is to break the curse that turned everyone on their world into children, so as long as the story goes on, they are not allowed to succeed, or there would no longer be any main plot. On the other hand, the characters and their universe do go through changes, and, safe for Book 5 and 6, none of these change are ever removed; The most notable time this trope is defied is the Anathos Cycle, which involve the main characters getting savagely scarred and crippled, their leader becoming a villain then dying, their Arch Enemy losing his Joker Immunity to be finally Killed Off for Real, the protagonists getting new powers and looks, and, finally, getting their reputation retablished. All those change are permanent, and there were no Reset Button.
  • Many heroines have become little more than eye-candy in modern comics with Stripperific outfits, but it can be very hard to actually fix this. DC once tried giving Power Girl a modest costume for The New 52, only for what seemed like half the world writing in demanding her old one.
    • On the other hand, Sue Storm has always had a modest costume, and changing it is not very high on fans' wish list. She once tried a skimpy outfit that exposed her cleavage and midriff; it just wasn't her, and surprisingly, the fans knew it. She got rid of it quickly.
    • Wonder Woman's costume is fanservice-y enough as it is, but there was one short period in the 90s when someone in DC got the "smart" idea to change it to this fashion nightmare. Claiming she looked like a stripper with a biker theme was a common observance, and fans hated it. In fact, DC seemed to be doing a bit of Self-Deprecation when the Amalgam Comics one shot Bullets and Bracelets comic, where the gun-toting heroine's costume was similar.
  • Frequently used in The Beano and similar comics (The Beezer, Whizzer and Chips, The Dandy) when a strip ends with a major change to the characters occurring there is often a Note From Ed acting as a Reset Button saying the character will be back to normal by next week.


  • Every unplanned movie Sequel.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan features this; in the original episode "Space Seed," the evil Khan learns his lesson, and goes away with a happy ending; meanwhile in the first Star Trek movie, many developments are made to characters and technology. However in this sequel, Khan is back to his evil old self, and likewise most other things are back pretty much the way they were before. To be fair, though, a lot of crap happened to him in the intervening time, like the planet he was exiled to being knocked out of its orbit, and his wife dying from one of the planet's native creatures. It's kind of understandable that he'd go nuts again.
    • This goes double for Star Trek III: The Search For Spock; in Star Trek II, Spock died, and Kirk's son was introduced, along with his terraforming "Genesis Device;" however at the end of the movie, all of these are undone by the plot: Spock is brought back to life, Kirk's son is killed, and the Genesis Device is no more.
      • Star Trek III also introduced "trans-warp drive," and destroys the Enterprise. In Star Trek IV... well, you get the picture.
  • Godzilla will always come back to either: A) fight other (possibly Eviler Than Thou) monsters; B) destroy a major city (usually Tokyo), or C) both. No matter how many times the JSDF tries to stop him. Even when Godzilla IS defeated, he manages to come back in the next film.
    • For the first sequel, it was another Godzilla, just according to keikaku and predicted by Dr. Yamane in the first Godzilla film. For the rest of the Showa series, he was never permanently defeated, but merely came back throughout one loose but traceable continuity. Other times (like the Return of Godzilla and most of the Millennium films) it was an alternate continuity, sometimes even altering the in-universe events of the films they included. This case could be more Strictly Formula than Status Quo Is God.
      • The real Status Quo of Godzilla films is that Humanity is all but helpless in the face of a Kaiju rampage. Just about any weapon they devise to stop them will either fail or be destroyed by the end of the movie. One of the few times this was averted, that particular continuity/series ended with that movie.
    • Comic book writers like to subvert this. In Planetary the Four kill off the Kaiju in their crusade against weird, and in Marvel Civil War it was explained that the arrival of Japanese Superheroes allowed Japan to put an end to its Kaiju attacks. Moral of the Story: the way to kill off a status quo is with another status quo.
  • Before The Dark Knight Saga you could expect all Batman movies to have the main villain dead, with Gotham saved. And Bruce Wayne would always get a new girlfriend, only to end up single again for the next movie.
  • High School Musical has a song all about this. As described by The Agony Booth. This results in Sharpay possibly being more empty-headed and bitchy by the second movie and again in the third one.
  • James Bond never changed his name or call number, even after 40 years of the original (Dr. No-Die Another Day) continuity, countless adventures, and five different actors. Never received any permanent scars or disabilities from battle wounds. Never married (for long), fathered children, caught a disease, or even gets a morning-after call from the Bond Girls he slept with in previous movies. Any new techno-toys Q gave him would vanish before the next movie.
    • This only really started with the Roger Moore films. The Connery films (and Lazenby's sole outing) had a loose story arc revolving around Bond taking on Blofeld and SPECTRE.
  • Indiana Jones: see James Bond. He finds lost treasures, and they're never heard from again. The Lost Ark? After its display of power, The Government packs it away (and likewise nothing bad happens, despite that in the Bible, anyone who kept the Ark from the rightful Israelites would suffer God's wrath in various forms). The Holy Grail? Trapped behind a cursed barrier. The Crystal Skull? Reunites with its body, and flies off to space... and another dimension.
  • Count Dracula always comes back.
  • The Ice Age movies feature a shrew perpetually in pursuit of an acorn and destined to never catch it. He sometimes successfully manages to grab it but always loses his grip and ends up losing it and getting frozen in the end, just out of reach of the acorn. In the third movie, he finds a love interest and secures the acorn, but ends up being separated, loses the acorn, and gets frozen in an iceblock again, presumably not to be thawed until Ice Age 4.
  • An in-story example: In The Matrix trilogy, it's revealed that the humans and machines have gone through several cycles of rebellion and war, always returning to the status quo in between.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand movie seemed like this. During the movie, several characters died (including Professor X!) and many more were "cured" of their powers. Two scenes at the end hint that 1. Xavier downloaded his mind into a catatonic body and 2. Magneto and the others are recovering their powers, meaning the only changes that stick are Scott and Phoenix's deaths. And since Phoenix came back once...
  • The premise for Batman: The Movie and the Batman TV Series is that that incarnation of Batman only is useful to fight supervillains (and nothing more). He cannot change anything more in his world. Robin's idea to better the world by making a Freaky Friday Flip with the bickering United World Organization security council is quickly rejected by Batman. Then when this happens… the security council is still bickering between themselves, but each one of them is bickering in a different idiom. Batman realizes that Status Quo Is God and he and Robin going out inconspicuously through the window.


  • The entire point of the Wheel of Time series is that this trope is almost literal truth. The Creator made the Wheel of Time and, by design, it makes time cyclical and all major events will eventually happen again and again in some fashion, without end. The Big Bad seeks to destroy the Wheel of Time, which would upset the status quo. The good guys seek to prevent this, so maintenance of the status quo is the Good Guy Prime Directive.
    • The fact that the Wheel of Time can only be destroyed by destroying the universe might also have something to do with it.
  • The Red Dwarf novel Backwards, written by Rob Grant (who co-wrote the original six seasons of the television show). In this book, the "best end" Grant could come up with was having everything revert to as it is in the TV series, in spite of two of the cast dying and the other two being reverted in age by 10 years.
  • The novels of PG Wodehouse, which typically begin with a disruption of the status quo—an engagement broken off, a cook threatening to resign, Bertie growing a moustache—and end with its restoration. Jeeves is the archetypal status quo-restorer.
  • Massively averted in the Wild Cards series. The introduction of an alien genetic engineering agent that causes mutations and grants some people superpowers onto Earth in 1946 results in a significant diversion from real world history. Numerous historical figures and events end up going down different paths (for example, Fidel Castro ends up staying in baseball and the Cuban revolution never happens, thus altering the dynamic of the whole Cold War)
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: The author certainly averts or subverts this trope! The first 7 books have the Vigilantes get Revenge on the people who wronged them as well as changing the status quo to improve their lives. Then they become fugitives, and have to avoid getting caught, as well as fighting injustice. By the book Game Over, they finally get pardons from the president, as well as become employees of Henry "Hank" Jellicoe. Then the last 3 books have the Vigilantes take down Jellicoe, and some CIA people. The president makes the Vigilantes a secret government task force, and a number of the Vigilantes retire to more normal lives. You could say that the point of the series is to turn this trope on its head!

Live Action TV

  • Often Played for Laughs in 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 Michael 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. Though the specifics of the show kept changing every seasons, the overall character dynamics stayed the same. It wasn't until the Grand Finale that Michael finally left for Arizona.
  • 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, an entire 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.
  • Battlestar Galactica 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.
    • According to producer Ron Moore, the 2004 Battlestar Galactica 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.
  • Zig-zagged in The Big Bang Theory. While the show had many arcs, there were many filler 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). Around Season 7 however, the show clearly began moving away from this mindset, having longer arcs and shaking up some things; such as Howard and Bernadette getting married and starting a family, supporting characters being Killed Off for Real, the resolution of some emotional arcs; but never drifting too far from the established dynamics.
    • Even Lampshaded by Sheldon. After Amy kisses him while drunk, he suggests they treat their relationship like a malfunctioning computer and restore it to the last point they both agree that it worked (which, given that this is Sheldon we're talking about, is quite a mature thing to suggest).
    • In the fourth season finale, it is shown that Penny slept with Raj. Cut to the next season, after one episode, everything is back to normal again.
  • 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.
  • Cheers: Lampshaded on an episode 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."
  • Chuck: While the first season played this straight, particularly with Chuck and Sarah's Will They or Won't They?, later seasons started averting it hard.
    • Chuck gets a different enemy organization each season whose situation changes over the course of the season until Chuck ultimately defeats them.
    • Chuck and Sarah's relationship was resolved and steadily advanced, until they got married.
    • Chuck's intersect evolved several times going from just data mining, to data mining enemy information, to combat and skill enhancement, to being removed, possibly forever.
    • Chuck embraces spy life, and trains to be more capable and cunning and relies on the intersect less and less.
    • Casey's relationship with his daughter evolves over time.
    • Grimes became the assistant manager, then a spy, then the manager of the Buy More/cover agent, and then the intersect.
    • Multiple people got brought into the masquerade over the years, starting with Awesome, then Grimes, and then Ellie.
  • Largely averted in Community. While the study group dynamics stayed the same for the first four seasons, other things around the school changed and the group dynamics inevitably followed. Even being unable to leave Greendale was treated as a plot point of the series rather than a way to keep the show as it was.
  • Technically the case in Doctor Who. Though the show is built on change, very little does. At its core, the show must always be about a madman in a blue box showing ordinary people the wonders of the universe while fighting the Master, Cybermen, and Daleks. Companions come and go and Doctors (and Masters) regenerate but that basic description is unalterable.
  • 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 Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Lampshaded; 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.
  • 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. Needless to say, it just wasn't the same.
      • 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.
  • Gilmore Girls suffered from this to an extreme, it was bad enough that essentially nothing ever happened in a general sense but the arcs relating to various boyfriends especially were forgone conclusions. No matter what it was never going to work out.
  • 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.
    • A notable example is the way that 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. This despite the fact that both before and after his return much was made of how much homophobic hostility towards him there was from the student body, and of course the question of why, if the students hate the glee club, they should care about improving their chances at Nationals.
  • House: On three separate occassions 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. 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.
  • How I Met Your Mother: In the 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.
  • 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 on the same episode. Season 5 did have a prominent character arc but once it was over, it was mentioned once and everything went back to normal.
  • JAG & NCIS: Both has 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.
  • Merlin. It wasn't so apparent in series one, because nothing terribly earth-shattering happened, but then the last episode made it look 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.
    • Thankfully, well and truly shattered by The Fires of Idirsholas - the Dragon has been released, and will shortly wreak havoc on Camelot. Morgana has left with Morgause after Merlin tries to poison her. Hopefully they won't just hit the reset button again...
    • Season four has seen the writers avert this trope entirely, killing off Lancelot and Uther within the first couple of episodes.
  • 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.
  • Monk: When's the last time an episode 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 even the season finales haven't really changed anything.
  • Person of Interest: The goal of the leads 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.
  • 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.
  • Psych. Shawn and Jules and their relationship. They've 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.
    • This season Shawn has a girlfriend and Jules is starting to be open with her feelings for Shawn as well so this may change soon.
    • The finale minutes of the last episode before the mid season 5 break had Shawn and Jules finally kissing, just as Jules was beginning to seriously date Declan (Shawn 2.0)
  • Red Dwarf: The British sci-fi comedy 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.
    • They do kind of make a lame attempt to explain the changes (they're in Starbug now because Lister forgot what planet he parked Red Dwarf behind?), but the start of Season 7 is particular egregious considering the way 6 ended.
  • Zig-zagged in the first four seasons of Riverdale. While specifics events changed and the Driving Question of each season was answered, along with the characters' relationships shifting, overall, the show always remained a Town with a Dark Secret drama focused on the plucky kids who would always make up by the season's end. Season 5 rather effectively killed the status quo via a seven year Time Skip.
  • 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. Many believe all of this to be the point where the show Jumped the Shark, showing that Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • Saved by the Bell was the king of this, with new girlfriends constantly being introduced for Zack and disappearing after their one episode, even though they're usually set up the way that other shows would introduce recurring characters. It was especially Egregious in the cases 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 (being a main cast member) didn't disappear after the episode where she and Zack started dating, the relationship was dropped after the one episode. The only non-main cast girlfriend to stick around was Stacy during the "Malibu Sands" mini-season, but she still suffered from this trope, as even though the run of episodes ended with them saying they'd stick together in a long-distance relationship while she went back to New York, she was never mentioned again after the Malibu Sands recap episode at the beginning of the senior year season. Also, you didn't have to be a Zack love interest to suffer from this: Denise Richards' character, in the last Malibu Sands episode was set up as a new recurring or regular character ("She's going to Bayside with us!") and a love interest for Slater, but never seen again. Earlier, Screech's girlfriend Violet disappeared without explanation after a several episode run that left Screech pining for Lisa again.
  • 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.
  • Seven Days 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.
    • It's partly, though not entirely, justified by the show's Time Travel premise: that virtually all the onscreen character development gets literally reset-buttoned at the end of every single episode must make the situation infuriating for Frank, since he's the only one who can remember any of it.
  • Smallville: While many aspects do change, 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 Status Quo Is God, 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.
  • Spooks: As irritating as this trope can be in light-hearted series, it's even moreso in serious drama. The show has managed to hit both Anyone Can Die and Status Quo Is God, 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.
    • To be fair, it was explained to be such at the start of the episode.
  • With the exception of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the pre-Star Trek: Discovery shows of Star Trek had this as their standard procedure. The ship could have been brought to the brink of destruction and the death toll beyond counting, but by the next story, the ship would be shiny and everything would be running smoothly.
    • An accusation sometimes leveled at Star Trek: Voyager. Perhaps the more Egregious 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 creation of an exact duplicate of Voyager and its crew. Said duplicate 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 Wildman, who make it over to the real Voyager; the Harry clone is explicitly given the job of replacing the real Harry. Everyone on the ship treats him as if he were the original and no one ever mentions it again.
      • It helps that the duplicate was created that same day, and that there really was no way to tell which Harry (or for that matter which ship) was the "real" one.
    • 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, it's destruction reset the entire year, and Janeway making the decision to go around.
    • "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.
  • Lampshaded in 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.
  • Victorious was painful about this. No matter what happened, Jade would still be a petty Jerkass, Robbie had no chance of ever getting with Cat, and André, despite succeeding in this goal very early-on, would never get signed on to a major record label. Out of six main characters, Tori was the only one not to end the show exactly the same as she started out.
    • Zig-zagged with Beck and Jade's relationship. While they did break up, when they got back together, they, despite supposedly having matured and grown as people, went right back to the Make Up or Break Up that led to their uncoupling.
  • In an episode of The Golden Girls, Rose moved out on her own after a dispute with the others only to come home by the end. Justified in that while she craved the freedom to live her new, more wild lifestyle, she's also the kind of person who always needs someone to talk to and her new roommates were a jaded beach-hater and a busy career woman who drew a firm line between friends and roommates.
  • Played for a Broken Aesop in Step by Step. Dana has two episodes where she moves out of the house, but in the first one she justifiably moves back home because she still lacks the funds and responsibility to take care of herself. In the second one, she's an adult woman but because she gets drunk and acts way too wild at a party, she ends up moving back home because Carol says so.

Newspaper Comics

  • Invoked in an Over the Hedge story arc in which Verne is made over by RJ in an attempt to humiliate him, but ends up making him popular with the ladies (or as RJ puts it, turned him into Hugh Heffner). This is somehow upsets of nature, and the Nature Police arrest him, but he gives Hammy an energy drink, enabling him to go back and stop the makeover from happening, but it not only has the present day have two Hammys, but also has them, Verne, and RJ speak backwards (represented by backwards text).


  • Mentioned and subverted in an episode of Hamish And Dougal, in which Mrs. Nochty tries to get her old job back after handing in her resignation.

Mrs. Naughtie: Oh, Mr. Hamish, Mr. Dougal! Can't I go back to being your housekeeper again?
Hamish: Ah, yes...and it'd be just like old times.
Dougal: Yes... ...but the position has already been filled. Goodbye!


Tabletop Games

  • The new edition of Warhammer 40,000 states that mankind has entered the Time of Ending, with the long-awaited fall of the Imperium imminent. However, The End of the World as We Know It is very, very unlikely.
    • On the other hand, the series has seen the introduction of new races, and changes to old ones—the Tyranids, for example, are a vastly different force from the Genestealer infiltrators that first attacked the Imperium.
    • The whole point of Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer 40,000 was that the world is always almost about to end.
    • Warhammer Fantasy Battle Fantasy does this too, to the point where it gets kind of silly. The final battle of the Storm of Chaos ends when an enemy why had gone almost entirely unmentioned (and in game terms had been marginalized for months) shows up, attacks another villain from behind and leaves. And the other villain leaves. And then a third villain leaves, despite being guaranteed an easy victory. Why? Because otherwise the game world would need to change.
    • The rules of both systems managed to avert this to some extent. 8th edition fantasy shook up the way the rules had worked for years in a huge way and 5th edition 40k altered things to a big extent too.
  • White Wolf is not fond of this trope. In the Old World of Darkness, any apocalypse foretold in a gameline would come to pass when that game went out of print, ending with the Time of Fire when the oWoD ended. The New World of Darkness is designed as a more static universe.
  • Scion has the Overworld War take noticeable steps between the three main books.
  • Exalted is even more blunt about shooting this trope in the face. In the second book they ever published, they made it abundantly clear that the metaplot would not be moving forward canonically from the Day 0 of Realm Year 768, as the characters are intended to deform and reshape the setting around them in their image. More detail has been given about the setting as it stands—mostly to provide new and interesting ways for Creation to go to Hell in one way or another, or for players to fight against it—but nothing has definitively gone forward and progressed information on the inside of the core book. Actually, in Exalted, Status Quo may well be God. On the other hand, starting characters can start off with a power suite to murder the gods.
  • This trope is literally true in the CD&D Hollow World game-setting, as the Immortals (CD&D's deity-Expys) slapped an extremely powerful spell on the place to ensure that cultures preserved within it wouldn't change.
  • BattleTech seems to avert this with the different eras (Star League, Clan Invasion, Jihad, etc...), but plays one constant straight: Don't expect anything that threatens to seriously shift the overall deadlock to last for very long. In fact, it's usually the point where everybody goes back to shooting each other that begins and/or ends each Era.

Video Games

  • Pretty much every MMORPG, as covered in Perpetually Static. There are exceptions, though...
    • EverQuest II, for example, has occasional events that change the political landscape of the world, usually coinciding with expansions. Gameplay doesn't change much unless you're in one of the new starter cities, but the status quo is sometimes allowed to change.
    • Also, EVE Online. Player organizations can and do control large areas of the game, and ownership changes all the time depending on how the latest war is going.
      • And the in-game story advances with each expansion, as well...
    • Kingdom of Loathing lampshades this by revealing that nothing (almost) the player can do has an effect on the place.
      • The exception is found in some site-wide events, in which you have a choice on which side to choose. The more you work for that side, the better the outcome for you.
    • In Plane Shift, since the game hasn't reached version 1 yet, time is officially frozen and all changes to the world are accomplished via Retcon. The only exception is the brief "Crystal Eclipse" storyline that bridged versions 0.3 and 0.4, which introduced two new gods and left a definite mark on the game's history.
    • City of Heroes flirts with this from time to time. While some villain groups have seen sufficient progress (especially the Fifth Column's eventual destruction and reformation into the Council), many fans have wondered just * how* many times, say, Countess Crey has to get arrested for murdering the original Countess Crey and taking her place for it to stick. The game never offers a reason why she's said to be in jail at the end of the story arc, but gamewise, her company and her persona are still just as effectively evil as ever.
      • Also how many times the "Save Statesman" arc could possibly make any logical sense. You'd think the Freedom Phalanx would at least tie a bell around his neck to stop this from happening so often...
      • City of Villains players know that there is no placating Blue Steel, no matter how hard they try.
    • Tabula Rasa was a bit of an exception - for example, there were bases which were constantly changing ownership as each of the opposing sides stormed to take it back. This did have some effects on gameplay, though they weren't so huge (when the base wasn't yours you couldn't use it's teleporter or shops and you also lost access to the mission givers there, so sometimes you had to mount an attack on enemy position just to get a quest if you were unlucky). Of course, TR never grown as much as Richard Garriot intended, so we might have seen more examples of this if they didn't discontinue it. And also, to an extent, the original Ultima Online allowed players to build their own houses and in some cases whole cities (on some shards). One such shard was meant as a fairly realistic world, so it had complicated population replenishment, even migration and such and just as the official real economy (just like EVE Online above).
    • RuneScape averts this, as several quests feature prominent nonplayer characters dying and leaving new characters to take their place. Additionally, one quest requires the player to steal several public statues for a garden, after the quest these now empty statue plinths remain permanently unoccupied.
    • Crash Bandicoot has Neo Cortex lampshade this when he’s defeated in Crash Bandicoot 4. He questions as to whether he’ll continue losing to Crash Bandicoot and having his plans foiled as he has in the past. Fortunately for him, this is then averted when N. Tropy decides to betray him, meaning that for the time being, Crash Bandicoot and Neo Cortex both share a common enemy, meaning they can work together for a change.
    • World of Warcraft pretty much jumped up and down averting this trope (at least partially) in the Cataclysm expansion which completely remade the original zones (though not those of the other expansions) as well as heavy use of phasing technology to allow players' actions to cause changes to the world, if only for themselves.
  • The RPG Betrayal at Krondor is all about the effort of a certain dark elf to bring peace to his race and put an end to hostile relations between humans and dark elves that have been going on forever. The game is based on The Riftwar Cycle and its plot was canonised in a novelisation. Two hundred years later in the series, nothing much has changed about the dark elves.
  • No matter what, Peach will always be captured again and Mario will try to save her. Though Mario and Bowser are willing to bury the hatchet every once and a while.
  • Sonic Adventure had some character development for Tails (who decides to do things on his own now instead of relying on Sonic all of the time) and Amy (who says that she's "going to make that Sonic respect me!" instead of just following him around everywhere like a crazed fangirl) that was conveniently absent come Sonic Adventure 2.
    • This troper disagrees in regards to Tails, in Sonic Adventure 2 (and the Bioware handheld RPG Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood) Tails comes across much more as a hero in his own right, even leading the freedom fighters in Sonic's absence. He returned to sidekick in Sonic Heroes (where, strangely, Amy seems to have retained some degree of her new action girl persona even though she still chases after Sonic)
    • Almost every Sonic the Hedgehog game is this (except for various sub-series and directly tied sequels).
  • 99% of Castlevania games have Dracula as the final boss. 98.9% of them have this, WITH the second last boss as Death as well.
    • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has both (as you fight Dracula and Death at the same time; you can have two characters, so why shouldn't they as well?), which is at best a minor subversion.
  • Something's always happening in Touhou, whether its the scarlet mist, the moon being replaced, an attempt by the lady of the netherworld to steal the world's spring, a challenge by an upstart shrine, or a haunted mist by party loving Youkai. Despite all that happens, the only really permanent effect these have on the plot is introducing new characters. Of course you might need to do a little bit extra in the game to make sure it is back to status quo in time for the next event.
    • Even as for the cast, whether or not they ever really change with the events that take place, even if it is at the command of The Judge who threatens to send you to hell or worse.
    • The last few games have had an interesting aversion: in 10 Mountain of Faith Moriya Shrine joined the cast; in 11 Subterranean Animism Moriya fuses a dead god with a birdbrain to start a nuclear reactor; in the fighter Hisoutensoku the control system for the reactor is mistaken as a giant youkai lumbering about; and, in 12 Undefined Fantastic Object the combined efforts of pushing Moriya Shrine through the Great Hakurei Border back in 10 and the geysers caused by Utsuho in 11 have broken open Makai and allowed the Palanquin Ship to recover Hijiri Byakuren.
  • No matter how many times Phoenix Wright manages to find the right killer, get the information out of someone, beat an "unbeatable" lawyer, or just generally be proven right, by the next game/case he's still a flat-broke Butt Monkey of a lawyer who nobody takes seriously except for Maya, Pearl, and (sometimes) Gumshoe. Well, except in Apollo Justice where he's a Badass, crazily prepared, Guile Hero Chessmaster.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy has a rare in-universe case of this. The heroes and villains have been waging war in the name of their gods for a while now, but every time one side comes within reach of winning, Shinryu resets everything back the way it used to be, starting the war over again. This is because Shinryu made a deal with Cid, aka the Narrator, that he would keep the war going forever in a Groundhog Day Loop in order to temper Chaos into the ultimate force of destruction. Status Quo Is God? In this case, God is in fact, keeping the status quo!
  • Tekken - Averted. As of the sixth game, the storyline spans three decades and it shows. Technology evolves, characters age, return or not, and some are outright Killed Off for Real.
  • The Warcraft universe averts this very hard. With every game and addon the political and even geographical landscape gets severly altered, with new factions arising as fast as others get obliterated and entire cities and even worlds are taken off the map.
  • Crysis features C.E.L.L, a group of Obviously Evil Private Military Contractors responsible for gunning down the innocent New York plague victims they were supposed to be protecting. By the end of the second game they have been thoroughly crushed by the player character, the aliens, and the US Marine forces, with both their field commander and their CEO dead and their remaining shareholders on trail for war crimes. Their main base of operations has had its Self-Destruct Mechanism pushed, and all their remaining hardware has been commandeered by the Marines. So they're out of the picture for good, right? Nope. They're fully operational 20 years later in Crysis 3, having suffered no penalty from the government and with more than enough resources to attempt a Take Over the World plot.

Web Comics

  • Averted in Schlock Mercenary, where their fortunes have shifted up and down, having gone through multiple ships, and have lost and gained secondary characters on many occasions.
  • Sexy Losers had a rule, declared early on by its creator in his annotations: "Everyone is locked into their sexual perversion of choice." This meant, unfortunately, that his characters had little wiggle room—note how quickly the storyline "The Seduction of Madame X" cuts off; by the seventeenth time he's recycling jokes. Eventually, the series came to an abrupt halt, which may have been the writer realizing he was out of things he could do with the characters without breaking his rule.
  • Ménage à 3 is the typical example of this trope. Gary is a geeky virgin who never even had a girlfriend. Some girls have the hots for him, but thanks to bad timing, sexual trauma or personnal interference from his friends that are more than willing to sabotage it, rest assured that it will never happen, EVER. And since the de-virginisation of Gary is the main point of the series, as long as the authors have plot ideas, it won’t happen. When it finally does, this will probably conclude the series.
    • Got subverted HARD after ~540 strips.
  • That's what happened with Treading Ground. In 2003, strip #6 establishes the main plot: Rose has the hots for Nate, but the 21 years old guy doesn't want to have sex with the 16 years old girl until she's of legal age. After eight years (about one year in Comic Book Time), in which both character had plenty of sex (just not with each other), they finally realise they were victims of SoCalization, for 16 is legal age in their state. In 2011, strip #251 concludes the series with them holding hands... And still not having had sex together yet.
  • Insecticomics goes out of its way to show that it won't do this, particularly in the areas of Thrust's change to female and the disbanding of the Brigade.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob: Bob's roof will always, somehow, get repaired after having been destroyed earlier in the story. Lampshaded by the fact that it is unapologetically a Running Gag.
  • The cast of Sore Thumbs was missing Cecania's special ability to sell games when she went off to Romania, so Harmony got a ridiculous boob job. Once they brought Cecania back, Harmony had them removed.
  • Lampshaded and averted in PvP when Robbie wins the lottery.

Cole: Trust me, Robbie is going to walk through that door and inform us that everything has returned to the status quo.

Cole: Any minute now...


Web Original

  • Completely averted, and possibly subverted, in the Whateley Universe. While it is played with using Jade, by later in the series, Don Sebastaino of the Alphas is in the hospital, Tansy is running the Alphas, and Jade now has breasts and gender reconstructive surgery that works!
  • The end of H2K9.
  • James of TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life holds this belief. For the most part, he's wrong.

Western Animation

  • Transformers:
    • The Transformers was like this for the first two seasons. Then The Movie came out in 1986. Once season three starts we have an all new cast, with the original characters making cameos, and the Quintessons are introduced. About the only thing that snaps back is Optimus Prime coming back to life and returning to his job as leader of the Autobots at the end of the third season. Bumblebee becomes a more prominent character during the third season finale when Prime comes back, but it's as Goldbug, upgraded form he needed after taking heavy damage fighting a berserk Superion.
    • Played straight in the comics, where while editorial fiat forced Simon Furman and other writers to make many of the same changes, many of them were undone by later writers or as soon as the editors stopped caring. Bumblebee's change into the more powerful, intimidating, and overall more adult-seeming Goldbug was just one such example when he was heavily damaged and required rebuilding, and Ratchet simply chose to rebuild him back in his original Bumblebee appearance. When the outraged patient demanded to know why this had been done without his permission and against his wishes, Ratchet merely shrugged and answered "Call it personal preference, but I always preferred your original form." In this particular case, however, it was also because Bumblebee's original form had a new toy out.
    • Transformers Prime was infamous for this. While the second half of Season 1 and the first of Season 2 had changes, all of the game-changing MacGuffins were put in storage or destroyed, MECH got a bridge dropped on them, interesting Decepticons were axed and by Season 2's ending arc, things were broadly back to how they were in Season 1. Thankfully Season 3, only had this for half a season.
    • It seems that no matter what direction the plot of franchise goes or what form the characters take, Starscream (assuming he's included among the antagonists) will always be the Big Bad's treacherous underling scheming to depose him. He's not the Trope Namer for such a character for nothing.
  • Code Lyoko literally does this with the Reset Button. Until the fact that XANA becomes more powerful with each Return to the Past was revealed, every episode ended with everybody on the verge of death when the time warp wiped the problems away.
    • Unfortunately, the story also starts falling into a larger sort of status quo as it develops, one so immutable that it allowed fans to start predicting the outcome of the show's cliffhangers in advance. No matter how many times characters like Sissi and Jim prove their usefulness, they'll never be exempt from the Masquerade. There will never be more Lyoko warriors than the four main cast members (the one who seems to join ends up becoming evil), and Franz Hopper will never be devirtualized. This trope's prevalence as the show went on was only made all the more frustrating by the official website offering fan polls on things like "which supporting character should become a Lyoko warrior".
  • Dexter's Laboratory:
    • A harsh one of this was the original Grand Finale of the series, "Last But Not Beast". Dexter and his family had fully united to destroy the beast that Dexter accidentally awoke from its slumber and everyone was happy. However, Dad remembers about Dexter's titular lab and Dexter's quick to remove that information from both Mom and Dad, even making them forget the fact that they saved the world together! When Monkey's mask is torn off and Dexter discovers his identity, Monkey uses the gun to remove everything from that point from his mind, allowing Mandark to declare that he had destroyed the monster, leaving a despondent Dexter to bemoan that he should have destroyed it.
  • The Dragon Hunters, like the GetBackers, never do lasting profits, despite all of Gwizdo's schemes toward this end. Sometimes they do get to fly home with the reward money, but by the start of next episode they invariably be broke.
  • DuckTales (1987)—and, in fact, any other appearance of Scrooge McDuck—is oddly obsessive about this trope, even to the extent of Scrooge very rarely managing to walk home with the treasure he's seeking. Do they really think that an extra million or so dollars would have any effect on the lifestyle of a man with five multiplujillion, nine impossibidillion, seven fantasticatrillion dollars and ten cents? Of course, whatever he might say to the contrary, Scrooge isn't treasure hunting for money, but for the sense of adventure he can't find behind the desk.
    • The comics that DuckTales (1987) is based on are even worse, and that extends to comics that don't feature Scrooge at all. This is understandable, since there are probably hundreds of artists in many different countries making the comics, and most of them ignore the other artists. Depending on the Writer, the stories may instead have Negative Continuity.
      • The Barks and Don Rosa comics have some continuity, just read The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.
      • With the McDuck books, there is continuity, but it's done by author instead of having one for the entire series. Most writers will callback to previous stories they created but will ignore the ones made by others so as not to mess with anyone's long-term story plans. The exception is Don Rosa, who considers all Carl Barks stories canon to his own universe and has written several sequels to Barks tales.
  • Zig-zagged with Family Guy. On the one hand, things always end with the Griffins back on their sofa watching television but some things have changed: Peter lost his job at the toy factory permanently (at the end of the episode, they point out how odd it is that the status quo has not been restored), Cleveland and Loretta separated and stayed that way, Bonnie finally had her kid, with whom she had been pregnant with for over six seasons and several characters have been Killed Off for Real; any returns are from their ghosts.
    • This trope is occasionally lampshaded. Peter once told Bonnie "You've been pregnant for five or six years, either have the baby or don't." Also, Lois got fired from FOX News. Why? Who gives a damn, the episode is over and everything is back the way it always is (her words, more or less).

Lois: I'm glad everything's back to normal. I guess I just wasn't cut out to be a news reporter.
Peter: Yeah, how did you lose your job anyway, Lois?
Lois: Ah, I don't know, Peter. Do you really care? Does anyone really care?
Peter: I guess you're right. The story's over, everything's back to normal 'til next week, so who gives a damn? Anyone got anything funny left to say? Stewie? Brian? Meg? Chris? No? Alright then. (to the camera) See you next week, folks!

    • Played extremely straight in "Seahorse Seashell Party" that has a bit of a Broken Base. After season upon season of abuse, Meg finally stands up to her family and points out just what horrible people they are. She calls out Lois for being a drug-addicted whore who's done nothing but take out her own frustration on Meg and how once she's 18, she never wants to see her again. She calls Peter out for being a fat disgusting waste who doesn't care about anyone but himself. She lays into them so hard that the entire family turns against each other. Later on, Meg is talking to Brian and she realizes that the family can't function without Meg there to be the emotional and physical punching bag so they don't end up killing each other. In the end, the status quo is maintained, and Meg is still the Butt Monkey.
    • The trope gets lampshaded by Brain in part 1 of "Stewie Kills Lois". After Stewie complains about Lois leaving him for a cruise and how he would do bad things to her, Brain points out that Stewie will just bitch, cry for his mommy, hug her when she comes home, have apple juice, poop, and then fall asleep. Stewie realizes Brian is right and tries to fight against the status quo, but it is maintained in the end anyway.
  • Sister series American Dad! lampshades this trope several times, mostly hinging on Stan never learning his lesson. Among such lampshades include Stan saying that lying is "basically my whole bit," and explicitly saying that he's never learned his lesson all the other times it's blown up in his face.
    • Though a few things have changed. Hayley and Jeff got permanently married and she did graduate college to enter the workforce, Snot's dad died, Roger had a child, Greg and Terry had a surrogate daughter and Terry later abandoned his family, Stan made peace with his Arch Enemy, Jack Smith has been Killed Off for Real and there were even two continuity heavy Myth Arcs that spanned several seasons.
  • Futurama lampshaded, deconstructed, and parodied this trope in an episode about television. When the main cast is forced to reshoot the finale of Single Female Lawyer to prevent an alien invasion, Leela (as the titular character) decides to accept a marriage proposal. This angers the aliens, who proceed with their invasion until Leela improvises an ending that would result in her character remaining single, placating the aliens. (The fact that real-life shows often destroy the status quo during the finale is ignored). The aliens are satisfied with this ending, and leave peacefully. With everything back to normal, Fry has a short monologue (serving as a Spoof Aesop) about how things should always go back to normal at the end of an episode. The Camera then cuts to a devastated New New York, most of it having been destroyed during the episode. Of course, the status quo is restored by the next episode, so it's a Double Subversion.
    • After the end of the series and Bender's Big Score changed things somewhat, fans have taken to accusing The Beast With A Billion Backs of needlessly bowing to this trope.
    • Bender's Big Score may have parodied it during its opening roll call, when we see Amy with much longer hair. Bender accidentally burns it off an instant later, leaving her with her hairstyle from the series.
    • The trope is subverted in "The Beast with a Billion Backs". Kif breaks up with Amy after she cheats on him, and they stay separated until the end of "Into The Wild Green Yonder".
    • Subverted again (and crossed with Crowning Moment of Heartwarming) in "Into The Wild Green Yonder". After ignoring Fry's love for her, Leela realises that she feels the same way, and they share their first romantic kiss.
    • Then played straight (to the point of parody, of course) in the opening episode of season six, going to great (and circuitous!) lengths to restore the status quo.
  • Season 15 of South Park did this. After the Drama Bomb episode, You're Getting Old, it looked like there was going to be some sort of change in terms of the boys' relationships. Kyle and Stan have a falling out, Kyle and Cartman are shown being together of their own voilition and getting along. The episode ends with Randy and Sharon separating and moving from the Marsh family home. When the next episode, "Ass Burgers", features a Snap Back, this is invoked heavily. Just as Stan is about to embrace the changes, the status quo comes back with Randy & Sharon getting back together, Kyle & Cartman bickering once again, and Stan going back to the life he once had, though he now secretly drinks to keep off his cynical levels. Sharon even says that sometimes it's best to stick with what you know.
  • Averted in Gargoyles, for the most part. Eliza's brother becomes a Mutate for instance and remains that way, a process that takes place over several episodes; later episodes deal with Talon's impromptu clan and responsibilities. Broadway shoots Eliza by accident and develops a series-long hatred for firearms. The eventual reveal of the Gargoyles to the world at large springs the Quarrymen into the forefront. And so on.
    • You can count Xanatos' evolution from simple adversary to husband/father/friend, Angela and Goliath's relationship as daughter and father, Matt Bluestone's raise from conspiracy-nut friend-kept-in-the-dark to Properly Paranoid Illuminati member and trusted insider, the evolution of several of the villains with their backstory, Demona alone...
    • However, the trope is invoked a bit with the universe's rules of time travel and the Phoenix Gate: to wit, everything that has happened will happen, and even if characters are placed in a position to change the backstory, they will not succeed.
  • Goof Troop featured an episode where Goofy was elected mayor of the city, but curiously that never came up again.
  • No matter how many times Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible learns to use Mystical Monkey Power Kung Fu, learn to deal with his fears of monkeys and Camp Wannaweep or has become special for just anything, he will revert back to his status quo in the end of the episode or before the next.
    • He did stay on the football team, leaving his mascot days behind.
    • And he kept dating Kim. And kept his job. All which took place in the Post Script Season...
  • Moral Orel presents a possible subversion. It took ten episodes (out of the third season's 13) before we saw anything of the aftermath of the major events of the second season's finale, "Nature", where Cheerful Child Orel calls out his father. However, the reason for this is because all those episodes take place before and/or during "Nature".
  • The Powerpuff Girls has this all the time. In one episode, the girls travel so fast that they are warped to the future, where for 30 years evil has reigned. Out of complete stress and confusion, they try to escape from it all by traveling so fast they warp back to the present time, thus achieving Status Quo.
    • This, like the Superman example above, was more or less why the Powerpuff Girls never take a vacation - as they're now too paranoid to leave the city for even a few days, lest the entire city fall to evil.
    • Oh yeah, whenever the city is in ruins, its back to normal the next episode. Few things remain destroyed, an example being a bridge in a nearby city.
  • The Simpsons, with a few exceptions.
    • Played with in some of the few episodes which avert this trope; many of them feature endings that make it seem like the status quo will once again be restored, only to change it up on the viewer at the last second. The classic example is the episode where Milhouse's parents divorce; the episode ends with Kirk singing a romantic song for Luann in a last-ditch attempt to win her back. It looks like we're in for a heartwarming reunion, until Kirk asks her to come back to him and she replies "Oh God no!" They proceed to stay broken up for ten seasons before getting back together (which translates to a few months apart in Comic Book Time).
    • When Lisa became a vegetarian, she stayed a vegetarian. (Only because Paul McCartney wouldn't do the show otherwise) She also remained a Buddhist after converting in "She of Little Faith".
    • Also when Maude Flanders died, she stayed dead.
    • Principal Skinner and Edna Krabappel had an on-and-off relationship since season 8 but never quite committed to each other. That got thrown out fully when Edna married Ned Flanders. Until Edna passed.
    • Apu got married in season 9; in season 13 he cheated, and ever since then every appearance by him or his wife references it, usually by having them act frustrated or angry at one another.
    • Sometimes the status quo changes gradually—for example, Lenny and Carl have pretty much replaced Barney as Homer's best friend. However, they just hang out with him just for kicks. This is made evident in the same episode where Barney decides to be sober.
    • Speaking of Barney, he stopped drinking in the eleventh season episode "Days of Wine and D'oheses" and remained a sober, clean-cut compulsive coffee drinker after the end of the episode and for several seasons. Like the Luanne and Kirk example, he reverted to his original state in season fourteen's "I'm Spelling As Fast as I Can". Later on in current seasons, he would have less roles, aside from being passed out on the ground.
    • Lampshaded in the show itself in the infamous episode "The Principal and the Pauper". To those who don't know, Principal Skinner is revealed to be a person named Arman Tamzarian when the real Seymour Skinner appears out of nowhere. At the end of the episode, he's tied to a train and is never heard from again and the judge rules that no one is to speak of this or else they'll be subjected to torture.
      • This is later followed by an episode where Snowball 2 gets run over and replaced. Twice. Both replacements die, and a cat that looks exactly the same is given to Lisa by the Cat Lady.

Lisa: Snowball 5! But to save getting a new dish, we will call you Snowball 2 and pretend the whole thing never happened.
Skinner: That's awfully cheap Lisa.
Lisa: You're right, Principal Tamzarian.

    • At the end of "C.E.D'oh", Homer has his "305th Everything Is Back to Normal BBQ." This was the 306th episode; this only accounts for one change to that point.
    • Other lampshades pop up with the page quote, another from principal Skinner ("Well I guess we all learned something important today... there's no thing like the status quo!") and a season 22 episode, that ends with Marge (after once again failing to get a social life outside of the house) reading a book called "The Joy of the Status Quo".
    • The situation used to replace Snowball 2 with an identical-but-different cat is also applied to Fat Tony in another episode. Fat Tony dies from a heart attack while Homer is working as an undercover agent infiltrating his organization. Afterwards, we're introduced to "Fit Tony"; Fat Tony's identical-sounding cousin and a fitness buff. He decides to step in for his deceased cousin but while working as the mob don, he begins to fall out of shape and resemble Fat Tony. Eventually, he ends up being referred to as "Fat Tony", thus restoring the status quo despite the fact Fat Tony himself was Killed Off for Real.
    • "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade". At the end of the episode, Bart and Lisa are given the choice to either stay in third grade or return to their respective classes. The characters start chanting for the status quo to be restored at the end.
    • There was even an episode where Lisa got to write an episode for a TV show. After making big sweeping changes that didn't go over too well, Homer tells her that the number one rule of television is that everything must go back to normal at the end of the episode.
    • So much is this trope integral to The Simpsons that when it looked like the family had properly sorted out their issues in "Brawl in the Family", Lisa outright wondered if this would mean the end of their wacky escapades. Not even fifteen seconds later, the adventure generating chaos was back.
  • Danny Phantom uses it some of the time, with the more notable instances being the end of Reality Trip, where Danny mindwipes everyone except the people who knew prior to the start of the episode. For that matter, he bounced back unusually quickly from the extremely-intense encounter with his future self.
  • In Challenge of the Superfriends, every episode would end with the Legion of Doom incapacitated by the Superfriends. However, Lex Luthor always pulls out a device that turns whatever the Legion is sitting on into a spaceship, which flies away slowly while Superman and Green Lantern forget that they have superpowers (a common occurrence on this show). Thus, the Legion always successfully escapes so they can come up with another evil plan for the next episode.
  • Hank Hill is never going to be a manager. The one time he did become a manager he managed to blow it... in 10 freaking seconds (and it wasn't even near the end of the episode).
    • Also Bill is never going to have a lasting relationship, it always goes wrong or he messes up.
    • Strangely, what with the above examples, there was a bit of continuity. In one episode Peggy and Dale end up blowing Hank's shed up (long story), 8 episodes later in Death Picks Cotton Hank's busy rebuilding it. When he finally does finish it in the end of the episode Dale destroys it again which was Cotton's dying wish.
    • Any episode that shows Bobby doing something or having an interest in something which Hank freaks out, worrying what Bobby is doing is not manly enough in his eyes. By the episode's end, Bobby either stops having interest in whatever caught his attention or Hank begrudgingly accepts what Bobby wants, then the show repeats the scenario again in a future episode.
  • Phineas and Ferb takes this trope and turns it Up to Eleven in just about every episode. No matter what nigh-impossible project the boys create, it will always disappear within a matter of seconds as a result of Perry and Doofenshmirtz. Like every other trope that the show revolves around, it's been lampshaded to hell and back. Some of the characters now believe there's a mysterious sentient force protecting them (which is technically true.)
    • The status quo gets shaken up something fierce in The Movie, with the cast learning about Perry being a secret agent. They end up voluntarily pushing the Reset Button at the end, and no one but the OWCA remembers the events of the film. To be fair, Major Monogram let them choose whether or not to keep the new status quo, but since that meant Perry would have to leave them, they decided it wasn't worth it.
  • Ed Edd and Eddy usually has the Eds failing at the end of every episode either with their scams, pranks, or bouts with the Kanker sisters, and has the kids of the neighborhood celebrating their endless demise.
    • Subverted in the movie where the kids give up trying to basically kill the Eds for their WORST SCAM EVER to save them from Eddy's brother's torment because it was far worse than anything they could think of doing.
      • Edd both fourth walls and lampshades it at the end of the movie with his line about how it's only taken them the entire run of the series, four specials, and said movie to finally be accepted.
  • X-Men: Evolution: In episode 2x22, "Joyride", Lance Alvers (Avalanche) joins up with the X-Men in the hopes of winning the affections of Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat), who he's been hitting on the entire series. Cyclops blames him for a few infractions the other New Mutants actually committed, and said New Mutants confess, causing Cyclops to finally accept him, Shadowcat to show him the love he's wanted the whole series, and the rest of the X-Men to respect him. He then decides that he's quitting and returning to the Brotherhood because "this place is lame anyway", even though he had EVERYTHING HE WANTED.
  • The Fairly OddParents: Timmy will always wish things back to normal at the end of every episode.
    • The movie Grow up Timmy Turner uses and subverts this in a few ways. He uses this as a loophole to keep his fairies, act like a child and refuse to grow up (not even leaving the 4th grade, or his parents home) but when he does finally Timmy is given an exemption clause that lets him keep Cosmo, Wanda and Poof as his fairies even as an adult.
  • Teen Titans: Oh God, every single episode that was not a part of the story arc (Like Robin becoming Slade's apprentice, the whole Terra storyline, Cyborg with Brother Blood, Raven with the prophecy of ending the world, and the whole entire Season 5, which focused on the Brotherhood of Evil and a lot of characters we have never heard of before unless if we read the original comics). Even with Terra, after the Titans were convinced to let her become an honorary member of the Titans, she only made a split-second appearance in the next episode. The episode after that had to do with her though. Most episodes of Teen Titans will always end where it began. There are a few exceptions.

Cyborg builds a car which is used as one of the Titan's ways of transportation near the end of Season 1.

  • The first season of Avenger Penguins concluded with a two-parter, where Minion with an F In Evil Harry Slime made a Heel Face Turn and his master Caractacus P Doom was blown away to Mars. The second season, however, had inexplicably back in their status quo.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes. The only change that has ever carried over from another episode is Beezy getting a girlfriend.
    • And said girlfriend's been Out of Focus for the entire second season.
  • Dick Dastardly never wins a race and never catches Yankee Doodle Pigeon.
  • Both Invoked and Averted in The Clangers. In many episodes a creature or object arrives on the Clanger's planet, causes havoc and then either leaves or is sent back into space. When the Iron Chicken first appears, it seems as if she's also following this pattern. However, she makes appearances in later episodes and she also gives Tiny Clanger an egg which has effects in following episodes[1]
  • The Looney Tunes Show plays this for a quick laugh. Bugs and Daffy go to the mall and Bugs points out Daffy's "Mall Pants" but since he is technically supposed to be naked the mall pants are sucked off by the escalator before the opening credits run.
  • The Road Runner will never be caught.
  • The Legend of Zelda cartoon takes this to its logical extreme. Ganon and all his minions are magically tied to a giant jar type device. Every time they're defeated, they're just sent back to it for some undetermined (but obviously very short) period of time. It doesn't help that neither Ganon nor the heroes are competent enough to simply end the whole thing (in fact, Ganon's minions came the closest after they rebelled).
    • Link did destroy the jar once, but it was back for the next episode.
  • In Adventure Time this is why Billy, one of the greatest heroes of all times, wound up quitting heroism. He realized that despite all of his efforts, evil will never stop coming back. Finn and Jake are able to convince him out of it by making him realize that good will never stop coming back either.
  • Pretty much whenever a character has to learn An Aesop, you can bet by the next episode that the said character will forget anything that they learned. Sometimes it gets lampshaded by the character flat out admitting that they learned nothing.
  • While Seasons 4 through 9 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic showed Equestria changing and growing, nothing changed in the first three. The Mane 6 hadn't advanced in their careers and the Cutie Mark Crusaders had come no closer to getting their Cutie Marks.
  • The big complaint about Season 3 of Miraculous Ladybug was that it invoked this by the end, returning many things to how they'd been in Season 1, undoing much of Season 2's Character Development and depriving Ladybug of her support squad.

Real Life

Although History Marches On...

  • European politics from the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 to the start of the Pax Britannia in 1815 revolved around the "Balance of Power", meaning any state that grew too powerful or ambitious (and in the process disturbed the existing balance of power) usually found itself at war with a coalition led by the next-greatest power. This is why no one has ever conquered all of Europe.
    • Hell, you could even count the two world wars as Balance of Power politics, with the two greatest powers (Britain and Germany) on opposing sides.
      • Especially WWI, where the Balance of Power politics is actually quite obvious.
      • Which eliminated both as world powers and the USA and USSR rose up to become the next balance. What happened after the USSR fell depends on your political views.
    • This has been mollified to an extent with the launch of the European Union.
  • Medieval China remained in a state of cultural stasis for centuries, despite having sufficient resources and know-how to keep it on the edge of an industrial revolution. There were several reasons for this, one of the most important being that Chinese culture was permeated with Confucianism, one of the core principles of which was the importance of stability and the undesirability of change.
  • In the early 1950's, North Korea, previously under Soviet influence, invaded pro-Western South Korea over the 38th Parallel, igniting U.N. fears of communist aggression, leading to western intervention in a proxy war. North Koreans raged all the way to the Southeastern port city of Pusan before encountering heavy resistance from U.N. troops, who cut off their supplies and fought them all the way North to the Chinese border. The U.N. forces were on the brink of driving out the communists; unfortunately, Maoist China intervened, pushing the clash back to a stalemate ending roughly near the 38th parallel. The war effectively ended where it began, thus beginning the totalitarian-communist "Democratic People's Republic" of North Korea, which is currently in its third generation of hereditary rule. It has withstood the Soviet Union's collapse, and shows not the slightest sign of change in leadership or attitudes any time soon. The U.S. Military-Industrial Complex, which arose primarily during the Korean War, has also not diminished in size since Dwight Eisenhower's famous unheeded warning.
  • The United States penny. It has been literally years since the penny has any worth, but the mining interests and a general opposition to change has kept it in circulation.
    • Except for the opposition to change.
      • The situation is so bad that the zinc and copper in the pennies are worth more than itself. The only reason why people aren't smelting them by the truck load is that doing so is now a felony.
    • Similarly, the United States' one dollar bill. Most other countries have replaced their currency units of that size with coins to save costs.[2] The US has introduced dollar coins repeatedly, but with neither a population willing to embrace the change, nor a Mint willing to force the change by reducing the printing of dollar bills, the coins remain rare.
      • Another minor reason: a substantial number of wallets don't have coin compartments.
    • In fact, United States currency designs in general have a lot of stasis compared to those of other countries.
    • A growing number of automated payment machines (e.g, ticket kiosks and vending machines) accept $5 now. The catch? They give you $1 coins in change. It's probably the best way to get them.
  • Borders in the post-colonial world, regardless of how sensible or not it may be, have remained status quo even when they shouldn't.
  • Reminding everyone of Y2K, or any other end of the world hysteria, which beforehand people are on the edge of their seats expecting big change, stocking up on food and ... nothing. Status Quo Maintained. See you in 2038.
      • One part of the problem is the almost unanimous agreement that there will be an End of the World as We Know It, but the details are effectively impossible to pin down apart from drastic extrapolation. At the same time, constant improvements in communication systems and growing network coverage make bad (or just poorly reported) news more and more accessible, providing human pattern recognition instincts with more and more dots to connect.
    • The problem is there are always two groups for a Millennium Bug situation. The first group are the ones who warned X will be a problem unless Y is implemented. So the solution Y is implemented the crisis is averted. The second group are the people that are thinking, "Why did I freak out and stockpile a bunch of stuff?" The second group never seems to realize the reason the problem didn't happen is because the first group fixed it.
    • Only people that expect a doomsday prediction and just wait for it will go back to their usual routine once it comes and goes and nothing happens. However, people who buy into the hype and do stuff like move, quit their jobs or education, or give up all their money and material goods, will return with having nothing left so things are not back to normal.
  • The Zimbardo prison experiment has shown, unfortunately, prisoners have a tendency to turn on one another in order to prevent prison riots, essentially doing the guards' job for them, which carries a disturbing conclusion to those who choose to read into these things. Yet the Zimbardo experiment has been criticized by other psychologists.
    • On the same note, Jewish inmates in Holocaust internment camps noted that within about three years, other inmates began imitating the guards in speech and dress. Eesh.
  • If anything, the United Nations promotes this when dealing with conflicts assuming it cannot be solved via Balkanize Me. Since 1950, the number of conflicts ending in returning to status quo ante bellum is increasing.
  • Egypt remained virtually the same in most all ways for 3000 years straight, only crumbling from power when the religion was changed by the current pharaoh. This results in a literal version of this trope: remove the god, remove the status quo.
  • In his book, "Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face--and What to Do About It", Richard S. Tedlow gives examples and reasons why major corporations begin as innovators and then become victims of their own success. The main reason is they deny that change is required and continue with established procedures.
  • Lottery winners tend to spend all their money and go bankrupt in a few years, and can often be found working at their old jobs again. On occasion, they buy a big house in a fancy neighbourhood, hate it, and move back. Several TV shows have lampooned this.
  • In general people tend to fall into this in life. Complacency, a sense of normality, and fear of change leads many people to fall into predictable patterns in life. A generation may have it's own problems, but they are mostly the same lives that would be lived in the same situation. This means it is likely the saddest case of Truth in Television to exist.
    • Behavioral Psychologists use this to explain why most "life changing decisions/events" tend to only really majorly effect the months that follow and will be lost/phased out with time until Quo returns.
    • It also appears in some studies concerning various cultures. Some theories made by those from inside and outside of the community are that this is what keeps some cultures "behind" others. Shunning those who "Leave their culture" in order to find a better life only to be ostracized by their family and former friends.
      • In Native American circles it is termed "Crabs in a Bucket" with the idea that a bucket of crabs only needs moderately high walls and no covering because as one crab tries to climb out that others either pull them back in to keep them from leaving or to piggyback their way out resulting in all of them staying stuck.
  • In chemistry, Le Chatlier's Principle says that, when placed under stress (ie change), systems at equilibrium will shift in an attempt to counteract that stress.
  • In functional programming languages, most values are immutable, that is, they are set only once and never change. According to functional programming proponents, this technique helps to prevent bugs, which is, indeed, good. The adoption of functional languages themselves is, on the other hand, a strong aversion, since they are far from mainstream.
  • Inertia. Once something big has either stopped or set on a fast course, it takes a lot of energy to stop.
  • The laws of physics will remain the same, no matter what. This is a good thing, since even a minor change would would be utterly devastating and completely reshape the cosmos, destroying everything we're familar with.
  1. It hatches to reveal some musical notes, most of which are eaten by the Soup Dragon. However, the remaining two notes are planted and grow into Music Trees. Tiny Clanger later uses notes from the Music Trees to power her flying boat, which puts an end to Major Clanger's unsuccessful attempts at building a flying machine.
  2. dollar coins cost more to make initially, but can be in circulation for decades, while paper bills rarely last two years