Dashed Plotline

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A plot consisting of multiple parts (episodes, chapters, acts, etc.), with large time gaps (over a year) between them. Good for authors who want to tell a long, epic story while saving narrative space and showing only the interesting bits. Very often combined with This Is My Story, where the narrator only tells about the key points of their adventure or life.

Distinct from a regular Time Skip in that a Time Skip is usually a singular event in an otherwise continuous story, while this is about skipping years of characters' lives repeatedly.

A form of "elliptical storytelling", where non-essential details of the plot, setting, or characterization are deliberately left out for the reader to think up on their own.

Not to be confused with a storyline peppered with those dashed Stock British Phrases, wot?

Examples of Dashed Plotline include:

Anime and Manga

  • Mnemosyne consists of six episodes, with 1/20/14/30 year skips between the first five episodes (the sixth follows the fifth immediately).
  • The primary continuity of the Lyrical Nanoha meta-series thus far spans 18 years of the title character's crime-fighting career, from an underage vigilante in season one to a legendary test pilot for the galactic military in Force. Though, of course, Nanoha has never been the main protagonist in any of her shows.


  • Closer skips a good deal of time between just about every scene, with little indication of it besides the dialogue.


  • Thais of Athens has skips one-to-three years between most chapters, culminating in a nine-year skip in the middle of the last chapter.
  • Each book in the Foundation trilogy is spread out over several years.
  • The second duology of Arcia Chronicles is prone to multi-year skips between parts.
  • While some gaps are only a few months or less, years-long gaps happen between some works in the Deryni cycle:
    • In the Legends of Camber trilogy, the third volume (Camber the Heretic) takes place a decade after the second (Saint Camber).
    • In the Heirs of Saint Camber trilogy, there's nearly three years between the first and second volumes and nearly six between the second and the third.
    • There's two years between In The King's Service and Childe Morgan.
    • About three years elapse between the end of The Quest for Saint Camber and the start of King Kelson's Bride.
  • The first half of part two of The Death of Achilles, which describes Achimas' life until his Moscow assignment, jumps many years between significant events in his youth, his turn to crime, and major assassination missions.
  • The Belgariad/Malloreon prequels can skip centuries between chapters. Having main characters who are immortal makes this almost essential—a biography of Polgara that tried to cover everything would make the Oxford English Dictionary look small, and her father's over twice as old as her.
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz.
  • The Pillars of the Earth.

Live Action TV

  • 24 does it not with episodes (since each episode picks up exactly where the last left off), but with seasons, which are separated by several year intervals.
  • Downton Abbey: each season is stretched over two or three years.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Inner Light" the Enterprise finds a probe which takes Picard through an entire lifetime as a member of an extinct civilization in the span of just a few minutes on the Enterprise; this is shown through several timeskips of about ten years each.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Forest of the Dead", Donna's life inside CAL is a subversion. It looks like we're only being shown selected scenes that take place years apart, but then it turns out that Donna is only experiencing those scene changes as well...
  • Rome, which covers about 20 years in its two seasons, though oddly enough the two main characters, and even more oddly Lucius' kids, still age in real time.

Video Games