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A truly strange tendency that some networks have is to air episodes of a television show in an order that disregards the order that they were written in. For some shows, particularly those of the episodic variety, this will make little difference. For a series with continuity, this can confuse the heck out of viewers.

This is occasionally justified, or at least understandable, if a recent event or tragedy might make airing the episode so close to it be Too Soon.

Not to be confused with Anachronic Order, in which the writers intended for it to be this way. Also not to be confused with the common plot device for a Potty Emergency or justification for a Forgotten Superweapon. Often a symptom of being Screwed by the Network.

NOTE: TV Tropes executives have decided that this article should not be presented in its proper order, and instead have shuffled around the example folders.

Examples of Out of Order include:


Comics

  • The Belgian comic strip Suske en Wiske serializes all its albums in one unchronological mess. The first 66 black-and-white albums are no longer available, so they simply started again from number 67 (!!) and randomly republished the older albums in color again, together with the newer titles. This makes reading the albums in this new order very confusing.


Western Animation

  • It also happened to Hey Arnold back in 1998: Ep 48, "Arnold's Room", aired September 9, surrounded a Zany Scheme in which Sid takes over the titular room to show off to his rich classmate. Ep 44, "Rich Kid", had introduced said classmate... but aired December 28. The kicker? Those two episodes were the only episodes in which this classmate had a speaking role.
    • After the first season, production decided to replace Ms. Slovak with Mr. Simmons as the teacher for Arnold's class. Simmons' first appearance was at the start of Season 2, but several episodes produced during Season 1 still hadn't aired by this time, so Ms. Slovak appeared a couple times after being replaced. One leftover Season 1 episode even made it all the way deep into Season 3.
  • Nickelodeon did this several times with Danny Phantom:
    • The most puzzling example, however, is airing the sixth episode of the third season as the "season premiere", especially given that the episode had many references to events that occurred earlier in that season. Fans were understandably quite confused.
    • Danny defeated the Monster of the Week in that episode with a power he got in the season premiere and advice from a character from that very episode.
    • More egregiously, the fact "Reality Trip" was aired after episodes that it was supposed to precede removed any level of shock about Danny's secret being revealed in the episode; having seen the episodes that took place after it and noting that the status quo was unchanged, it was obvious to everyone ahead of time that a Reset Button would be used.
    • "The Ultimate Enemy" was aired prior to "The Fenton Menace", despite it being clear by events in the episodes that "The Fenton Menace" had to have occurred first.
    • And they did it again by airing the second to fifth episodes of Season Three, THEN airing the actual Season Three premiere AFTER!
  • Dave the Barbarian had blatant signs that the network deviated from the production order:
    • The heroes meet Chuckles for the first time in the 13th broadcast episode, "The Way of the Dave", but they also face him in at least three of the episodes that came before it. A number of other scenes also betray the fact "The Way of the Dave" was probably supposed to begin the show.
    • The 20th episode broadcast introduces Quozmir, who Dave already interacted with in the second episode Disney Channel showed.
  • And before DP got his continuity screwed up, it happened to another show from the same studio for the same network, My Life as a Teenage Robot. Rob Renzetti rants.
  • Season 1 of Rocko's Modern Life is another example. The fact that Heffer's adopted family are literally wolves is supposed to be a big shock, but their formal introduction to the show aired after they had made a couple of appearances. Likewise, Filburt switches back and forth between being an anonymous Obstructive Bureaucrat and Rocko and Heffer's friend, and Rocko is shown to be already working at Kind-of-a-Lot-O-Comics before the episode where he is hired there.
  • Rugrats usually doesn't do continuity, but they made a few episodes involving kids from Angelica's pre-school coming to her house... which, in the US, ended up airing long before the episode introducing the pre-school was aired.
  • The Wild Thornberrys aired an ep about Nigel Thornberry getting knighted in March 2004... after they had aired an ep where a character addresses him as Sir Nigel in February.
  • Justified for As Told by Ginger when Kathleen Freeman died. Freeman played a teacher, and an episode had one of her students trying to convince her to continue teaching after she'd quit in disgust. Originally, she was supposed to come back to work, but her death forced a rewrite... and the last episode she'd worked on (originally the next after this one) to be shuffled to before.
  • Nick also held back a season 1 episode of All Grown Up, which sees Angelica celebrate her 13th birthday, until August 2004... which was also 13 years to the month that the predecessor series debuted. It was held back so long, a few episodes of the following season had already debuted a few months before.
  • Fox changed the mid-season The Simpsons episode "The Father, the Son, & the Holy Guest Star" to the season finale. Probably justified because the episode made fun of some aspects of Catholicism, and the date it was originally scheduled to air was very close to Pope John Paul II's death, and the change didn't mess with any continuity of the season or series.
    • The first season had its order screwed with enormously, resulting in Santa's Little Helper not appearing in half the episodes despite being introduced in what ended up as the series premiere (and the intended premiere ended up going last).
  • Disney aired its American Dragon Jake Long Halloween episode late to time it near Halloween. This resulted in a character who was imprisoned in a previously-aired (but produced later) episode to apparently suddenly never have been imprisoned yet.
  • Part of the first season of Thundercats was initially aired out of order; mostly this does not affect much, as the first season is largely in Anachronic Order, but there is a five-parter that is spread over several weeks as a result. Subsequent syndication airings corrected this problem, but the DVD boxed set uses the original, erroneous airing order.
    • This happened all the time during the 80s. A combination of Animation Age Ghetto and Viewers are Morons resulted in 5-part pilots and multipart episodes played out of order or blasted across the entire year.
  • Clerks the Animated Series suffered terribly from this. Episode 4 - the courtroom episode - was shown first, instead of the premiere episode that the network mandated be done in the first place. (On the DVD commentaries, the staff admits they weren't too thrilled with Episode 1 and had some say in the decision, though.) The second episode to air was Episode 2, but it was a Clip Show that kept flashing back to Episode 1, which never aired at all.
  • The second season of WITCH has an insanely frustrating one where they aired the Halloween Episode about four episodes early to be close to Halloween, but the second series was a serial that went almost directly from one episode to the next. There were several characters (re-)introduced, new terms mentioned, and alliances changed (i.e. why were they working with Phobos, why the hell was there a talking cat, what are regents?) and it ruined one of the big surprises near the end of season.
  • Kim Possible's third season Grand Finale movie was shown before some of the remaining episodes, leaving some to wonder why the Last-Minute Hookup was forgotten in the "next" episode.
    • The episode "Tick, Tick, Tick" clearly shows Team Possible's first run-in with Dr. Drakken and Shego, but was originally broadcast after another Drakken-Shego episode ("Crush").
  • In the first season of Legion of Super Heroes, several episodes made brief references to previous ones, but this bit everyone in the ass with a Continuity Nod in "Brain Drain" mentioning a run-in with magic--from "Child's Play," which hadn't aired yet. After that, the second season avoided them entirely.
  • Kids WB aired Teen Titans aired the episodes out of order. Since Teen Titans wasn't too tight with continuity this wasn't so bad--until the second season, when they aired "Titans Rising", the episode where Terra joins the team, then aired "Date with Destiny" and "Transformation" afterwards. This was in production order, and when they aired on Cartoon Network, these were the episodes preceding "Titan Rising". So basically Terra joins the team and then the next two episodes she's nowhere to be seen, confusing the kids that didn't get Cartoon Network.
  • The first season of Spider-Man: The Animated Series had several episodes aired out of their intended order, although since the first season didn't have as much continuity as all the later seasons, it wasn't too jarring. Difficulty now is figuring out just what the intended order actually was, since even the production order doesn't make perfect sense.
    • When the series became more serialized and actually numbered the episodes, it became more noticeable. In Season 2, the "Tablet of Time" and "Ravages of Time" two-parter aired before "Blade, the Vampire Hunter" and "The Immortal Vampire." The latter two-parter resolved the Morbius arc and clarified how Spider-Man's neogenic disease was being treated, while the former two-parter was supposed to lead directly into the season's final two episodes.
    • In Season 3, "The Spot" was aired before "Venom Returns" and "Carnage" - even though those two episodes set-up the time-dilation technology and Tony Stark's involvement with it. As it aired, viewers wondered why Tony put in a brief appearance in that episode and why he was so concerned about the technology. And like with the Season 2 example, "The Spot" was supposed to set-up the season's concluding two-parter.
  • Season two of Gargoyles had 52 episodes, making it impossible to tell which would be ready on time. Hence, given the show's very tight continuity, the episodes had to be split into various "blocks" where episodes could be aired in any order within each block. Though they did still run into a problem with Owen's stone arm, as two episodes intended to air before it happened ended up being delayed.
  • Ka Blam! suffered from this a lot. The first episode aired as the twelfth, episodes with cliffhangers aired weeks after the first episode with the storyline was. The season one finale aired as episode ten, the season two premier became the season two finale (you could tell: only season one clips were shown in a flashback sequence, plus it was supposed to start a relationship with Henry and June for the start of the season, plus a character who was introduced in the episode made a cameo in an earlier aired episode (out of order)), the season three finale (and supposed series finale until the show got renewed) was aired as the third episode of season three, and once it was renewed for another season, one mid-season four episode aired as the season four finale (which didn't sit too well with fans- it was poorly-written, and Nick did not renew the show for season five), and the finale for that season aired mid-way.
  • South Park had this happen a few times, most notably the episode "Cancelled", which had a joke that was supposed to play off the fact that the series reached 100 episodes ("A show should never go past a hundred episodes, or else it starts to get stale with ridiculously stupid plotlines and settings."). However, it was the 97th episode to air, thus ruining the joke.
    • If you watch Season 8 in production order, you'd notice something odd. In 801, "Good Times With Weapons", Cartman briefly talks about The Passion of the Christ. In 802, "AWESOM-O", Cartman's mom mentions that he's "still supposed to be grounded for trying to exterminate the Jews two weeks ago", likely confusing production order viewers. In episode 803, "Up the Down Steroid", Kyle and Cartman have a serious discussion about the morality of Cartman's plan, which Cartman counters with what The Passion taught him about Jews and Hell. 804, "The Passion of the Jew", is the culmilcation of what 801 and 803 are building up towards, and the plot involves Cartman trying to exterminate the Jews. So why does the second episode refer to something that doesn't happen for two episodes? Because it was the fifth episode to air in the eighth season, and the show itself has a unique Animation Lead Time.
  • Episodes 3 and 4 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 were shown the other way around on VHS, so kids who didn't see them when they first aired on TV (stations didn't re-air the earliest episodes often) would often wind up confused about who this Baxter Stockman fellow was.
  • The season 4 episode "Old Glory" in King of the Hill had a slight continuity error showing Peggy with an old Kaypro computer when the previous episode "Hillennium" had her new iMac arrived. This is because "Old Glory" was produced before "Hillennium".
  • This happened a lot with The Disney Afternoon shows but wasn't usually a problem, as they're mostly episodic shows. Then there was Darkwing Duck. As a superhero show, most of its villains and secondary heroes had origin episodes or at least first appearances. Also, Morgana started out as a villain and then did a Heel Face Turn, even becoming Darkwing's girlfriend. Needless to say, it was hard to keep up sometimes.
  • Jane and the Dragon was originally planned to have much more apparent continuity between episodes than most animated shows for kids but was rewritten to be more episodic when the writers were confronted with this eventuality.
  • During the first season of Justice League, the producers held back the airing of "Injustice For All" eight months, so that it would coincide with the Video Game with the same name. But since it did air elsewhere during that period, it didn't take long for spoilers and pirated copies to appear online.
  • On The Looney Tunes Show, one episode involves Bugs trying to keep open a pizza restaurant hangout even though previous episodes had shown him eating at Speedy's pizza place. At the end Bugs lets Speedy take over and we see the "¡Pizzarriba!" sign out front.
  • The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Hearth's Warming Eve" was the 13th episode in production order, but 11th in aired order (since it was a Christmas Episode, more or less, and moving it up put it closer to the holiday in question). This bumped the 11th and 12th episodes, "Family Appreciation Day" and "Baby Cakes", to spots 12 and 13, respectively. Fortunately, none of the episodes in question referenced each other, and considering the nature of the show, could even be watched "Baby Cakes", "Hearth's Warming Eve" and "Family Appreciation Day", without having any negative impact on continuity.
    • For that matter, the iTunes ordering went through both orderings, eventually settling on airdate. A quick primer:
      • The initial upload of "Hearth's Warming Eve" was initially in slot 13, going with production order - only to be moved to slot 11, airdate order, the next day.
      • "Family Appreciation Day" was put up as Episode 11, despite "Hearth's Warming Eve" also being Episode 11 at this point. So now there are two Episode 11s.
      • "Baby Cakes" went up as episode 12 - implying they would later move "Hearth's Warming Eve" back to 13 and go with production order.
      • Sometime after putting up episode 15, they instead moved "Family Appreciation Day" and "Baby Cakes" to their airdate order slots.
    • Netflix, on the other hand, uses production order.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episode "Widow's Sting" reportedly takes place after a three-part storyline in which the Avengers stop Kang the Conqueror from taking over 21st century Earth. However, Disney XD aired it before the Avengers even met Kang. Producer Josh Fine says the episode mostly works well in either position, but also that "one minor character point" in the episode "Hail HYDRA!" makes more sense in the chronological order. "Widow's Sting" ends with Nick Fury learning about the Skrulls' invasion, and "Hail HYDRA!" contains a few acknowledgments of his disappearance. Having Kang's invasion come in between those two episodes creates the impression that Fury put off preparing for the arrival of additional Skrulls.
    • Another point that might deserve mentioning involves the part where Kang says that a disaster during the Kree-Skrull war will destroy the entire world. Iron Man then brings up the fact the Avengers already met the Kree, and know of their imminent arrival. If Disney XD aired these episodes in chronological order, this arc would have come right after the Avengers met Captain Mar-Vell.
  • The production order of Daria places the slightly-existential "Through a Lens Darkly" as the season three premiere. However, MTV decided to kick things off with the Musical Episode instead. Later, the DVD arranged the third season episodes so that the musical would take up the seventh spot, and "Through a Lens Darkly" could designate the start of the season.
  • On April Fools Day 2007, Adult Swim aired the final episode of Perfect Hair Forever, but then aired the rest of the series IN REVERSE, made it look like old VHS tapes, and added grammatically incorrect subtitles. At one point, the subtitles shown were actually for an Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode.
  • The premieres of each Good Vibes episode from Ep. 2 onwards were all aired in the wrong order instead of chronological order. The most notable example being Red Tuxedo, which was the intended season finale, airing as the eighth episode, while Backstage Babs (the ninth episode chronologically) aired as the season finale (and ended up as the series finale too).
  • Batman: Beyond had one that could be seen in the second season. In "Hidden Agenda" Maxine discovers that Terry is Batman, and covers for him by saying she could not babysit for him. The very next episode, "Bloodsport," has Maxine meet Terry at an arcade and is introduced to his little brother for the very first time.


Live Action TV

  • In the fourth season of Cybill, the title character comes back from her mother's funeral in episode 13. Her mother then dies at the end of episode 21, which aired more than three months later.
  • Seinfeld did this on a number of occasions. The first was with "Male Unbonding" which was the second episode to be filmed but the fourth to be shown. This is particularly confusing because it introduces Elaine and so those who had seen her in the previous two episodes shown would not understand this. It was reinstated as the second episode for the DVD release. The second episode where this happened was "The Stranded", which was supposed to be part of Series 2 but was held over until Series 3 because of The Gulf War. This too was put back as part of Series 2 when the DVD was released.
  • Father Ted did this in the first season -- the pilot episode was actually broadcast sixth, while a VCR received in the third episode is somehow already there in the second.
    • And far more egregriously there is the car they have. They get it in the second episode of Series 2 but somehow have it in the first series and in the episode before this. The reason for this is the episode was actually written for Series 1 and was carried over to Series 2. This is presumably because they decided to use the pilot episode in Series 1 instead.
  • Firefly's episodes (that were actually aired) were aired in a seemingly random order, destroying the continuity of the series. Fortunately, the DVDs have the episodes in the correct order, including the ones that Fox didn't air.
    • And seemingly specifically to add insult to injury, what was supposed to be the pilot/first episode was the very last episode aired on FOX.
    • The reason for that is that FOX didn't even want to air the pilot in the first place; they felt it was too long and too cerebral. To solve this problem, they commissioned a second, more action-oriented pilot, which became "The Train Job" ... and then aired all the episodes Out of Order anyway.
  • Adult Swim played the season finale of Moral Orel as the premiere. They even mentioned doing so in the preceding commercial bumper. The reason for this is that the finale happened to be a Christmas Episode, while the premiere was scheduled to air around late December.
    • Firefly and Moral Orel are even more unusual in that for both, neither the airing order, nor the production order are the intended viewing order.
  • ICarly: The reason that Status Quo Is God on the show is because Nick constantly shift episodes on their own whims. The broadcast order is practically random compared to production order.
    • The worst example is the three part crossover with Victorious being sandwiched in between iOMG which ends on a cliff-hanger and what will be the first episode of Season 5 (or the second half of Season 4, it's complicated), and required Word of God to come out and say it is out of order.
    • However, the crossover was actually filmed right after iOMG and comprises the last 3 epsiodes of that production cycle (according to the production numbers). In this case the continuity problem was created by the writers and producers and could have been avoided by airing the episodes out of order.
  • The first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers suffers heavily from this for about the first 30 episodes. This is partly because FOX moved certain episodes around for "sneak preview" specials or to better fit certain holidays (aka a Frankenstein monster episode better fits airing on Halloween) and partly because Saban's production order for filming early episodes were based more on convenience rather than intended viewing order (which has become even more evident during the 2010 recut airings on ABC). Luckily most of these early episodes were more episodic in nature so continuity issues aren't as heavily noticed like it would have been in later seasons.
    • Later Power Rangers seasons, aside from an occasional hiccup here and there, seem to have fixed it so that intended viewing order, original airings, and production orders are all one in the same. Some of the rare hiccups to have occurred in later seasons were known to have been caused by trying to get a number of guest stars for a certain team-up episode, an unexpected Too Soon moment occurring that required an episode to be delayed and reworked, and simple human error where the wrong episode tape was grabbed by mistake and aired by the television station.
    • Nickelodeon started Power Rangers Samurai with episode 3; whereas the "real" episode 1 wasn't aired until midseason as an origins special. Needless to say, a lot of people were left confused by this very odd premiere.
  • The first six or seven episodes of Sliders were screened in a slightly screwy order, and even released on DVD in the same way. As it was a highly episodic show, it didn't matter too much, but there were some odd moments such as the sliders starting an episode dressed weirdly on a flooding world, only to end the following episode the same way, or setting the portal device to a randomised timer after they'd already been using it that way for weeks.
    • This actually worked in the show's favor in Season 2: Fox originally wouldn't let the show resolve the previous season's Cliff Hanger ending, but Tracy Torme was able to lobby Fox to allow it (although, even then, the resolution seemed almost an afterthought, since it actually was). The resolution was included as part of the 3rd episode to be filmed... and 1st to be shown.
  • The sad treatment of many American shows when they're diffused in foreign countries.
  • During the show's run on the Sci Fi Channel, the crew of Mystery Science Theater 3000 objected to doing on-going storylines in the host segments because the channel had a habit of doing this.
    • Strangely, though, the series had rarely had ongoing storylines before, but did have something of one for their first season on the channel--because network executives asked them to do so.
    • The episode featuring Merlins Shop of Mystical Wonders actually debuted after the Grand Finale episode because of licensing problems with the movie.
    • Season one has this so bad it even messes with the production code number. #104, Women of the Prehistoric Planet, makes several references to episodes 105, 109 and 110--even announcing the winners of a contest that had first been announced in the latter--and contains conventions that wouldn't show up until later in the season, such as the desk buttons, a pre-commercial host segment immediately following the theme song, and the version of "movie sign" that we all know and love. The Amazing Colossal Episode Guide confirms that the episode number is wrong, and that the Brains have no idea how it got like that.
  • The second season of Sea Quest DSV did this. It was somewhat spoiled by hearing about a main character's death three weeks before he was killed.
  • The Tremors TV series suffered from it immensely: except for the series premiere, all episodes were shown in a pretty much randomized order, which made some secondary plotlines seem extremely weird. The most prominent example is that the mid-season introduction of Mixmaster, a new threat to the town, was shown way after the heroes had already battled its spawns on several occasions. The episode had to be presented as a flashback to preserve at least the pretense of having the continuity.
    • Other continuity problems also resulted, such as Tyler dating a woman mid-season whom he'd originally met in the Attack of the Town Festival episode which aired at the very end.
  • The final two episodes of New Captain Scarlet were broadcast the wrong way round (the last episode second-to-last and the second-to-last episode last), what was annoying about this was that the Mysterons were finally defeated in the last episode (or were they?), and the episodes where released on DVD in the broadcast order. This ultimately was the final nail in a coffin full of network screwing.
    • However at a Fanderson convention that took place that year the last five episodes of the series were screened long before they where aired, in order.
  • In the United States and UK, Babylon 5 aired in largely chronological order. But that's not the order the episodes were filmed--usually, to keep costs down, if a set was needed for several episodes they'd film them all at once. A few countries aired the heavily arc-based show based on production order...
    • Even US/UK order is not totally correct. The Season One episodes "TKO" and "Legacies" should be between "The Quality of Mercy" and "Chrysalis". The Season Two episode "Soul Mates" should be after "A Race Through Dark Places", not before, and "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum" should be after "Knives", not before. In Season Five, the logical place for "Day of the Dead" is between "A View from the Galley" and "Learning Curve". Unlike Firefly, the DVDs follow broadcast order.
    • Its spinoff Crusade was aired in a seemingly random order determined by Executive Meddling. Plot continuity be damned. The DVDs include them in broadcast order, rather than what Word of God has said to be the proper order.
  • Every TV broadcaster showed the 26 episodes of UFO in different order, due to the then highly-localized nature of the ITV "network" in Britain (fortunately there were no multi-episode plotlines in this sci-fi series).
  • In Australia, Channel Nine saw fit to show the episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation out of order. So we saw Tasha alive after she was dead. Of course that was before she turned out to be alive because she hadn't died in a parallel reality...ah bugger it!
  • "Hea Ain't Heavy, He's My Hamster," written as the series premiere of The Weird Al Show, was broadcast tenth. This made all the exposition introducing the characters and premise seem very odd.
  • The original run of Star Trek had different production and broadcast orders. Fortunately the status quo was God.
  • "Moria", the last aired episode of The Others aired out of its intended order. Though the show had a Myth Arc, it progressed slowly and subtly enough that this might have gone unnoticed, except that it aired after the season finale Cliff Hanger which left the entire cast apparently dead.
  • The Lone Gunmen also had an episode burnt off after a major season- (series-) ending Cliff Hanger: Three weeks after an episode ending with the LGs getting captured by a SWAT team (the finale), FOX burned off an episode involving a kids' show host turning out to be a spy.
  • Two of a Kind features another case of "leftover episode airing after a season- (series-)ending Cliff Hanger", albeit a much less intense one than either The Others or The Lone Gunmen: A season of UST ended with a kiss at the airport, after which Carrie left for Brazil and promised, "See you in September." During the summer, after the season finale, ABC burned off an episode that featured a Shout-Out to Ferris Buellers Day Off, and (actress-wise, anyway) Michelle Tanner befriending a Goth Helga Pataki.
  • Quite a few episodes of Kids Incorporated probably aired out of order. Since the show had no real continuity, this was never a problem, but it does lead to one notable strange moment in the season four finale, "What's In A Name", where The Kid's real name is revealed to the gang -- although his brother had called him by it several times in the previous episode. [1]
  • Several episodes of Homicide: Life On the Street aired out of order, especially early in its run when the show was more plot-arc based. In a slightly surprising move, the relocated episodes had title cards inserted explaining their proper place in continuity. Most spectacularly, though Detective Crosetti is absent for the entire season, it's six episodes in before we discover that he'd committed suicide months earlier. This is fixed in the DVD release, which specifically notes that the episodes are in the order the producers intended.
  • The Prisoner was written in one order, filmed in a second, and aired in a third; the original intended airing orders often had to be shuffled around because several episodes were not ready for their original transmission dates. Though the show has an ongoing storyline, it's so frequently surreal that it's impossible to say what the "right" order is. The most widely accepted order nowadays, and the one used for its DVD release, was deduced by the fan club, and contradicts the canonical order given by the production company, the order given by Patrick McGoohan, and the airing order, but does work out logically (that is, references to Number 6 as a new arrival antecede references to his having been there a while, and what few calendar dates we see all happen in the right order).
  • Sometimes unintentional: in 1978, NBC ran 17 minutes of Part 3 of the miniseries Loose Change before realizing that it was Part 2 that was supposed to be airing that evening, leading to a particularly embarassing "oops" announcement. NBC also (in 1969) ran the segments for The Monkees' special 33-1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee out of order, but given the anarchic nature of the program's structure to begin with, it's safe to say no one noticed.
  • "Holly's First Job" on What I Like About You was shelved when it was produced, then later aired in between a two-parter. This was sort of justified by the production schedule (part 1 was finished only a couple days before airing; part 2 would not have been ready by the next week), but the episode itself was nonsensical in this placement: Holly'd already had multiple jobs by that point, & the b-plot was part of an already-concluded story arc.
  • Supernatural: CW pushed a non-arc related episode "Monster Movie" back to air two arc related episodes closer to the beginning of the season. Unfortunately, the characters behaviours then seemed random and no longer made much sense.
    • Similarly, the episode "Mystery Spot" was supposed to air after the episode "Jus in Bello." However, since the entire third season was hamstrung by the Writer's Strike, it was decided to air "Jus in Bello" after "Mystery Spot," since it had an ending that could qualify as a season finale in the event that the strike left the season cut off where it was.
  • Bones: The season three episode "Player Under Pressure" was actually delayed for almost exactly one year from its intended airdate ( it was supposed to be a 2nd season episode- aired April 21, 2008 instead of April 17, 2007!) due to the Virginia Tech shooting occurring right before it was set to air (the episodes involves a college basketball player found dead in the campus). Because of the year gap, there is an enormous loss of continuity- the biggest issue is that the episode is set before Hodgins proposes to Angela. The original episode was supposed to contain Hodgins' first proposal attempt- this was cut from the broadcast episode and replaced with a scene where they get caught being intimate on the security camera -showing they tried to make it fit in the 3rd season timeline (but the original is available on the season 3 dvd). But other conversations allude to Hodgins proposing and the general behavior of the characters doesn't match their season 3 selves. Not to mention the markedly different looks (i.e. hairstyles) of the individual characters. Succintly, even a newcomer to the series can tell you it is decidedly out of place.
    • Also, most of season one was aired out of order. Fox got a lot of complaints about it.
  • Bones spinoff series The Finder has similar odd airing date rearrangements. Some are understandable (to a degree), the crossover ep with Lance Sweets was moved from sixth episode to second probably an an attempt to catch more viewers. But others just cause Continuity to scream out in terror. If you don't realize the order shift, you would think Willa and Walter's jerkass behavior was flip flopping around without reason, the same goes for the status of Walter and Isabel's love life. As of Episode 10 only three episodes were aired matching their production numbers (1, 4, and 8 for the boys and girls keeping score at home).
  • Tracker held over the two part episode "Fever of the Hunt", which originally was the 12th and 13th episode, until near the end of the series, so it could be used for Sweeps Week.
  • Law and Order SVU: The 8th season episode "Scheherazade" was aired obviously out of sequence as well, since even though it was a self contained episode (no carry-over plot lines or anything), Det. Benson's hairstyle had changed distinctly several episodes back (shorter, darker, and with bangs) and in this episode, her hair was suddenly long again.
  • Blackadder II is probably out of order. It starts with an episode where Percy is clean shaven, but in episode 2 Percy has a beard which he shaves off and is clean shaven throughout the rest of the series.
    • The DVD box set gets it right, with 'Bells' being the first episode, and the one where Percy has a beard for the first few minutes of the episode.
  • The ninth (and final) season of The Drew Carey Show was aired in seemingly random order (compare the production codes to the episode order). This made the show's subplots difficult to follow, especially since the intended premiere episode aired mid-season. Fortunately, the two finale episodes were shown in the correct order, and TBS airs reruns of these episodes in their intended order.
  • The first season of Leverage (after the pilot) aired in a random order, so that the team's level of trust in each other, the leader's alcoholism, and possible romantic attractions were off from episode to episode.
  • Although a break-out success, Fox stuck their notoriously meddling fingers in the episode order of Lie to Me second season. This was quite obvious when the Thanksgiving and Christmas themed episodes both aired before turkey day; not to mention sudden changes in season and characterization.
  • An unusual example: Two episodes of season 5 of Lost were aired out of order -- "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" was originally supposed to air before "316," but Cuse & Lindelof switched them around because they thought it was "cooler."
    • Solitary and Raised by Another were in a switched order, because it didn't make sense for the characters to be playing golf when Charlie and Claire were missing. It was heavily re-edited to fit...so much so that it's hard to believe they were aired out of order, what with Charlie being at the golf game and all.
  • Red Dwarf has a loose enough continuity that this wouldn't typically be a problem, until you get to Series VI - it follows on from the Series V finale Back to Reality (which was the first episode of Series V on the American VHS release). Recurring villains, cast changes, Continuity Nods and multi-part stories (all rare in the early series) mean there's a specific order to later series. They're very rarely aired in order.
  • Glee switched the airings of "Funk" (episode 20) and Theatrically (episode 21) because the latter was themed around the ever popular Lady Gaga, and FOX wanted it to air during May sweeps.
  • In the early to mid-nineties several American series suffered greatly from this in the Netherlands. These weren't just small, unloved or cult series, these were high profile shows with viewership well into the millions like ER. With the advent of the Internet and series like Lost, the practice has luckily died off.
  • American Gothic, also in the DVD boxset.
  • After the pilot, the next five episodes of The Good Guys were originally aired out of order, causing an episode centered around tracking an informant's ankle monitor to be aired before he received said ankle monitor.
  • Unnatural History suffered from this, but the Continuity Nods are subtle enough that it's hard to notice.
  • The FOX sitcom Back to You, which was cancelled after its first season, was certainly not helped by the fact that the episodes were shown in an order such that we noticed a certain character missing several episodes before the episode where she is fired.
  • In France, private TV channel TF1 is infamous for doing this. Unfortunately, it's also the biggest channel in terms of market-shares and usually gets to broadcast some of the most popular American series.
  • The second and third seasons of Robin of Sherwood were shown out of order, creating oddities with the supposed death of Marian's father in season two, and sowing confusion with the progress of the romance between Marian and Robin #2 in season 3.
  • In Community episode Physical Education Jeff tells Leonard he talked to his son on Family Day... a Call Back to the next episode's central event.
  • Nearly every episode of Code Name: Eternity, aside from the season premiere and season finale, aired out of order. This resulted in new cast members being introduced and then disappearing, the slight semblance of an ongoing plotline not making any sense, and a Clip Show featuring clips from episodes that hadn't aired yet.
  • While not quite as extreme an example as most, Wheel of Fortune tapes out of order. This became rather obvious in Season 29, as two changes were made about a month in: the addition of "1/2 Kia" tags, and the relocation of the Mystery Round from Round 3 to Round 2. However, some episodes were taped before this point, so some of them are missing the 1/2 Kia tags and/or have the Mystery Round back in Round 3.
  • The Price Is Right also tapes extremely out of order, but this is usually discernible only in minute changes to the set disappearing and reappearing. It became more obvious in 2003 and 2010 following the on-air auditions of replacement announcers, which sometimes changed positions in odd spots. Other times, it has led to the host mentioning something upcoming that has already happened, or vice versa.
  • Series six of the revived Doctor Who was split into two parts, and after it was decided that the first half was too repetitive with all its episodes about people going around a dark area with flashlights, the episode "Night Terrors" was pushed to the second half, while "The Curse of the Black Spot" was moved into its place. The latter apparently required quite a bit of rewriting to make sense in its new spot, but specifics haven't been given. As for "Night Terrors," they got away with simply adding a little tag to the end (although it does now contain Foreshadowing for something that had already happened).
    • "The Curse of Fenric" (in which Ace mentions being scared of a particular haunted house) was intended to come before "Ghost Light" (in which the Doctor deliberately takes her there to find out what was so scary). In the event, "Ghost Light" was broadcast first.
  • Disney Channel seemed to have a habit in the mid-2000s of showing TV show episodes in an order that differs from the production order. Some awkward results:
  • The 11th episode of the 1990 series "The Flash" has a character mention the fact that Doctor Tina McGee had become an evil criminal. This is a story that happens in the very next episode of the series.
  • Scrubs had a few instances of this. For example, season 3's "My Dirty Secret" features the character Sean, who had left for New Zealand a few episodes earlier and wouldn't return until much later in the season, and the lynchpin of the voiceover at the end is that while everyone's dealing with their problems with sex, J.D. isn't getting any at all...even though he had had been dating Danni for a few episodes. In a variation, season 8's "My AB Cs" was intended as the season premiere, but ABC decided to tweak "My Jerks" to use as the premiere instead because of Courtney Cox's guest spot, which makes some of the interactions with the new interns in "My AB Cs" seem confusing. However, the episodes' airtime switch obviously occured pre-production, as a couple hurried lines here and there establish that "My Jerks" is the premiere and that certain plot points (like JD and Elliot getting back together) have already occured by "My AB Cs" -- there apparently just wasn't time to rewrite the scripts substantially.
  • Happens a couple of times with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In season 4, we see the episode with Hilda hiding Daniel Boone in the attic instead of sending him back to his own time a couple of episodes before Hilda actually brings him forwards in time. In Season 6 we see Morgan talking about her dad cutting her off a couple of episodes before he actually did cut her off.
    • The Nickelodeon UK airing order of Season 3 also showed a clue to the family secret appearing on the board (and being solved by Mrs Quick) several episodes before she actually recieved the clue. Unlike the above two examples, this does appear in the coirrect order on the DVD release.


Anime and Manga

  • A particularly bad example occurred with Tenchi Muyo!, where episodes from three very similar series were broadcast in the same timeslot in seemingly random order.
  • There was some controversy when the US DVD release of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya undid the Anachronic Order of the broadcast. The company responded by putting the episodes in broadcast order in one disc and chronological order on the other in future releases.
    • Although it does help that the first four episodes, ie a DVD's worth, are the first four episodes.
  • Here's a pretty crazy one: When Tokyo Mew Mew was turned into Mew Mew Power, not only was episode 12 aired as the premiere, episode 13 was shorn of the references to 12.
  • When Ninja Robots (aka the dubbed version of Ninja Senshi Tobikage) aired in Australia a block of about half a dozen episodes were televised out of order. This was particularly obvious because it skipped the introduction of a major character. This alternative ordering of the episodes was repeated on the DVD.
  • Kids' WB! reruns of Pokémon were also aired out of order for a while, which may have been one contributing factor to its decline in popularity, since fans lost interest and newcomers were confused.
    • The 15th episode "Battle Aboard the St. Anne" aired first in the U.S. as part of a "sneak peek" due to it being more action-packed and therefore "interesting" to hook viewers. [2] When the show was picked up for broadcast, it aired in its proper spot.
  • Mega Man NT Warrior was also aired out of order, moving the "filler" episodes to later, continuity be damned. At first it was thought to be KidsWB's fault, but other countries who got the show from ShoPro also had it out of order; so, all fingers pointing to ShoPro for this [3]
  • KidsWB trifecta! While Nelvana did dub all 70 episodes of Cardcaptor Sakura (CardCaptors), KidsWB only aired about half of them (the more action packed and/or Shaoran-centered ones), and very much out of order.
  • Speaking of Nelvana, their dub of Medabots at first skipped some Filler episodes to get the first two "arcs" of the series to fit in a 26-episodes season (in the Japanese version, the arcs took 39 episodes). After deciding to dub the rest, such episodes were inserted as the first episodes of "Season 2". Lots of continuity headaches.
  • The English dub of the Dragon Ball franchise was subject to this to a certain extent, particularly with the home releases. Uncut DVDs of the series began in 2000 with episodes 68-74 of DBZ, with the end of the series (around 291) being released in 2003, while episodes in the early 200s were still being released in 2005. DBZ alone wasn't available in it's entirety until 2007, while the first 13 episodes of the original series weren't released uncut in the US until 2009.


Literature

  • An interesting example is the New Testament -- few Christians realise that Paul's epistles, although they describe events after Jesus's death, are actually the oldest Christian writings. 1 Thessalonians was written around AD 51, while by all accounts, Luke and John were written after AD 59 at the earliest.
    • The Old Testament exhibits this kind of thing as well: what most Christians call the Books of History were originally from two different sections of the Jewish Bible, the Nevi'im (which puts Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings alongside the books of the prophets) and the Ketuvim (which has nearly every other Old Testament book), but early Christians reordered the Ketuvim so that all the story-like books were all together and ran (roughly) in chronological order.


Webcomics

  • Before Homestuck was a thing that happened, Andrew Hussie made at least three Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff comics as part of a discussion on the Penny Arcade forums; when they went up on the newly-established SBAHJ site months later, they were in a different order from the order in which they were made. The famous stairs comic, the first in the site's order, was the third made; the actual first made was the I Banged Your Mom comic, the second in the site's order.


Music

  • Funeral for a Friend's concept album Tales Don't Tell Themselves tells a story over each track, but the track order was chosen for flow rather than telling the story in order. The opening track Into Oblivion (Reunion) is clearly the last part of the story, as most of the album is about the perilous time at sea - this one is about how he is now escaped the dangers and is coming home. The narrator says he 'stared into oblivion and found my own reflection there', which indicates he's past the oblivion that other tracks such as 'Out Of Reach' detail.

Notes

  1. Even that wasn't much of a problem, since they never bothered to use his real name afterwards.
  2. However, it didn't air in most areas due to the MDA Labor Day Telethon.
  3. nevertheless, KidsWB aired the already-out-of-order episodes out of order. It just wouldn't be KidsWB otherwise!
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