Pressing the reset button on your story

I’m sure you’ve seen TV series where no-matter what happens in the episode, everything is back to normal again by the end, ready to start next time. TV Tropes calls this the “reset button”.

The Reset Button is any means by which previously occurring drastic events are made partially or wholly irrelevant by the end of the story. This is very common to American TV shows both live-action and animated, particularly from The Sixties through The Nineties, because programming directors like to have the luxury of repeating episodes in any order or no particular order at all.

TV TropesReset Button

Resetting the story is way to make sure that the viewer/reader doesn’t have to sit through lots of episodes of back-story to understand the characters, or what’s happened to get them to the current point in the story.

fry from futurama“It’s just a matter of knowing the secret of all TV shows; At the end of the episode, everything is always right back to normal.”

— Fry, Futurama

It can be extremely limiting because you can only go so far with a story before you have to reset it all, but also can be very useful.

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