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Deep-running continuity is both a blessing and a curse in television. It rewards long-time viewers with a satisfying story and the feeling that somebody really is paying attention. However, a series that weaves itself together too intricately risks making itself inaccessible to new viewers because "you really have to see it from start to finish."

Fear of being dropped into the middle of a plotline they'll never understand without information that's already been given, or fear of investing their time in a series they'll have to get through hundreds of episodes to get a satisfying ending from (assuming it'll actually have one), can keep even the most interested hanger-on from tuning in, a risk that can keep a series with borderline Ratings from reaching its full potential. Less common now in the days of DVD and Internet file sharing (and trade paperbacks), where back episodes are available to anyone with the time and money and/or bandwidth. Many networks are also making back episodes of their more popular shows available for viewing online. Commitment Anxiety can occur as a result of Continuity Lock Out and Continuity Snarls within the work; even with the ease of availability of this material, if the writers make the continuity too impenetrable or convoluted, it can cause people to give up in frustration.

Networks frequently try to draw new viewers despite this anxiety by using a Recap Episode.

See also Ending Aversion and Archive Panic.

Examples of Commitment Anxiety include:


  • Pretty much most Anime series that aren't kinda short. Many Shonen shows are notorious for this.
    • But especially One Piece. Seriously, you'll likely end up debating with yourself whether the sheer amount of time you'll have to wait for the end of the story (which is only about two thirds of the way done) and the time it takes to tie up loose ends is worth the emotional investment.
    • Naruto is a funny instance. Sure, the series pre-timeskip is about 200 episodes long... but barely over half of them are actually canon. This is an example where it's faster to just read the manga to get caught up on the main plot. And there's a good reason many fans referred to the second half of the first series as the Filler Hell.

Comic Books

  • This is a complaint frequently brought against mainstream Superhero comics, especially the X-Titles. The tendency towards Continuity Snarls does not help.
    • Marvel produces special "Point One" (the number of the previous issue, with .1 added to the number) issues to address this problem. However, feelings are mixed. While some do a good job of introducing readers to a series, most fare far worse. Most of them occur right in the middle of a story arc, completely contradicting the point of the issue, are completely irrelevent, or just plain bad.

Live-Action TV

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