Story Arc

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A story arc (a contraction of "over-arcing storyline") is a sequence of episodes that puts characters through their paces in response to a single impetus; basically, an ongoing storyline. This can be a few episodes, an entire season, or even the focus of the entire series.

Arcs are not necessarily consecutive episodes. The story may reach a point where, although the arc is not completely resolved, it ceases to be of immediate concern to the characters, thus allowing the writers to intersperse (or insert) non-arc episodes.

Writers may decide to use a stand-alone episode to lighten the mood during a dark arc, or to feature a character not involved in the arc. For example, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Go Fish," which aired between "I Only Have Eyes For You" and "Becoming" during the second season, has very little to do with the Angelus storyline.

Episodes that form a story arc cannot be run out of order, or at least they shouldn't be. Not that this always stops networks or syndicators from doing so.

While the Soap Opera has been exclusively arc-based since the beginning of television and before, the recent popularity of arcs doesn't seem to come from soaps. Back in the 90's when half-funny Sitcom reruns and poorly constructed Saturday morning cartoons ruled with an iron fist, the consensus among writers was that casual viewers wouldn't be able to get into the show. Hill Street Blues was the first American prime-time drama to rely on arcs, and is probably when the term came into the American TV vernacular. British Shows have a longer-standing tradition of arcs (See Doctor Who).

According to Doctor Who producer Russell T. Davies, the term is not used by UK TV writers. However, it is becoming increasingly well known by UK viewers, and UK Comic Book writers certainly use the term.

Story arcs also occur in most other serial media; Superhero and Dramedy comic series (especially online series in the latter case) are well known for them, and since they lack the seasonal format of most Western television shows, some of them take years to resolve.

See also Myth Arc, Half Arc Season, Plot Threads, Season Fluidity, and Aborted Arc.

Examples of Story Arc include:

Anime[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The vast majority of Anime series are built around arcs, which further distinguishes them from American cartoons, which are very often episodic (though less exclusively so in recent years).
  • The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya's six-episode arc was broadcast with eight Breather Episodes that flashed forward to after the arc. It also successfully broke the rule of never showing a story arc out of order.
    • Helped largely by the fact that the Arc episodes were still in order, just with the Breathers inserted in-between.
  • According to a fansite's unofficial commentary, Neon Genesis Evangelion can be divided into four arcs:
    • Prologue Arc, from the beginning to the Jet Alone Filler.
    • Action Arc, ending with Iruel. Focus is on humor; this part is just like any other mecha series.
    • Descent Arc, ending with Zeruel. Mind Screw kicks into high gear in this part and the viewer starts having an inkling things are not what they seem to be.
    • The site named the final arc "Bitter End". Kinda apt, considering what happens here. Even more Mind Screw with a side order of Nightmare Fuel. The part that made the franchise famous.

Film[edit | hide]

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The canonical British TV show with a Story Arc is The Prisoner, which was created from the get-go with a beginning, middle and end, and is also used as an example of the TV Novel.
  • The X Files (see Myth Arc)
  • Alias—So heavily, in fact, that there was significant Continuity Lock Out experienced by casual viewers.
  • Babylon 5 (another Myth Arc)
  • The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. had two intertwining story arcs throughout the series (The Search for The Orb and The Capture of the John Bly Gang).
  • Star Trek Deep Space Nine has several, featuring battles against the Maquis, the Jem'Hadar, and finally the Dominion as a whole.
  • Star Trek Voyager experimented with a Story Arc format in its second season, with an ongoing plotline centred around Seska's machinations with the Kazon against Voyager and Tom Paris's attempts to flush out a mole in their midst. This arc was rather tepidly recieved, and once it reached its conclusion, the writers on that seried never really tried another (or at least not one so ambitious).
  • Previously episodic in format, Star Trek Enterprise introduced an epic story arc with the Xindi war in season three, before settling into a series of loosely-related smaller story arcs in season four.
  • Each season of Lost has a main Story Arc, each with numerous subplots and mini-arcs, and each contributing to the Myth Arc (which can best be summed up by the question "Why are these people on the Island?"). Each season's Story Arc also has a central conflict and/or division:
    • Season One is about the Losties learning how to survive on the Island and dividing into two camps: one on the beach and one at the caves.
    • Season Two is about finding the Hatch, pushing the button and the psychological effect of it; the Tailies, another group of plane survivors, are introduced.
    • Season Three reveals a lot about the Others, the Island's native inhabitants, and builds towards a confrontation between them and the Losties.
    • Season Four is about the arrival of the "Freighter Folk", who are supposedly offering rescue, while flash-forwards show that some of the Losties eventually leave the Island, only for their lives to completely fall apart.
    • Season Five is split between those Losties left behind on the Island, who start jumping to different points in the Island's history, and the "Oceanic 6", who set about returning to the Island.
    • Season Six is about Jacob and the Man in Black recruiting the Losties for a final conflict, and finding out the true purpose of the Island.
  • Doctor Who has a few, used for combo DVD sets, when a clear follow-on is present.
    • Season 8's arc introduced the Master, who was a common villain in each serial and was captured by UNIT in the Season Finale.
    • The Key To Time arc (all of Season 16) - the search for pieces of a Cosmic Keystone.
    • The E-Space Trilogy (Full Circle, State of Decay and Warriors' Gate)
    • Following directly on from this was the season-crossing Return of the Master trilogy, comprising The Keeper of Traken, Logopolis and Castrovalva, released as New Beginnings on DVD as it also took in the Fourth Doctor's regeneration into the Fifth.
    • The Black Guardian Trilogy (Mawdryn Undead, Terminus and Enlightenment) - involving Turlough's relationship with the Black Guardian.
    • The Trial of a Time Lord (Season 23—the first 12 episodes consisted of three distinct stories with a common Framing Device, which took over as the main story for the two-part Season Finale)
    • In addition, thematic arcs showed up in the classic series: season 18 concerned the theme of entropy and decay, in preparation for the regeneration in the final episode; each serial of season 20 involved the return of a classic enemy, building up to the movie-length special "The Five Doctors".
    • Since the revival, the series has opted for season-long loose arcs, mostly linked together through recurring phrases and motifs, though usually unnoticed and not really interfering with the episode's main plots. Series 6 has adopted a tighter arc format, though the episodic format remains.
      • Series 1: 'Bad Wolf' was either mentioned or written in the background in every episode apart from "Rose" and "The Empty Child". It was discovered that this was a link between the Doctor and Rose, written through time and space; by the time vortex itself.
      • Series 2: 'Torchwood', like Bad Wolf, was incorporated into the Christmas special, and nine of the 13 regular episodes, unbeknown to the main characters. It was discovered in the finale that Torchwood was in fact an organisation devoted to anything alien, but fuelled by their eagerness to catch the Doctor.
      • Series 3: Mr Saxon was mentioned in the episodes set in the present, plus "42", once again, not to the attention of the main characters. Mr Saxon was the new, present prime minister; who is also one of the Doctor's greatest enemies - The Master
      • Series 4: Doctor Donna. Though this arc did not appear as frequently as previous seasons, it was no less important. The Ood, are the first, and only (until its meaning is later revealed) to use the term 'Doctor Donna'; however this was just brushed off as the duo assuming the race believed they were a couple. We discover that it is infact forshadowing a Human Time Lord metacrisis between the two.
      • Series 5: It was much clearer, compared to earlier seasons, that the arc was based around the phrase 'The Pandorica will open'/'Silence will fall' from the very beginning. It was spoken as a warning from many of his foes/friends. The Pandorica was revealed to be a giant box designed by 'the Alliance' to contain the Eleventh Doctor. Series 6 expanded on this as "Silence will fall when the question, that is, "Doctor who?" is answered", and the Silence, a religious organisation, want to stop the answer.
      • Series 6: The Doctor's (ultimately faked) death and the identity of River Song. The mystery of Amy's pregnancy was bought to our attention at some point in the first six episodes; either by her mentioning it or the doctor scanning her to see if she was positive or negative. At the climax of "The Almost People", it turned out she was taken hostage by Madame Kovarian to give birth to a Time Lord hybrid to defeat the Doctor, and Amy had been "piloting" a Ganger body without realising. The season also tells us that River Song is a Time Lord hybrid and Amy and Rory's daughter, who appeared to kill the Doctor, but it was actually a Teselecta duplicate, the Teselecta having appeared earlier to punish River for the "crime" she hadn't done yet.
  • Surprisingly, The Beverly Hillbillies used story arcs in a Network Sitcom all the way back in the early 1960s.
    • Mrs. Driesdale's multi-episode psychotic breakdown after living next to the Clampets, combined with the Clampets' attempts to "help" her.
    • The Clampets' acquisition of an English Manor and their subsequent "War of the Roses" with their alcoholic neighbor. This was spread over several seasons.
    • Ellie May's engagement to a "Naval Frogman" and Granny's belief that this means he turns into a frog from the bellybutton down when he gets wet. Lasted most of a season.
  • Probably the oldest one in television is I Love Lucy, which featured several long-running arcs. The most famous is Lucy's pregnancy, which took up a full season from her first learning of it to giving birth and bringing Little Ricky home. Subsequent seasons followed the Ricardos and Mertzes on long trips through Europe, the US, and a stay in Hollywood.
  • The re-imagined series of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined had plenty of story arcs, particularly in the first and second seasons, which led to Executive Meddling in the third season for more standalone episodes so that new viewers were not alienated. As a result, the third season is generally not as well liked, and the fourth and final season has resumed a more arc-based approach. The main arcs throughout the series are:
    • Finding Earth.
    • Roslin's Cancer.
    • Baltar's Treachery.
    • Starbuck's Destiny.
    • The Identity and Origins of the Humanoid Cylons.
  • Britcom Allo Allo might be the most humorously convoluted example of this and certainly for a Sit Com, being a comedy gave the writers numerous excuses to resolve them in absurdist manners.
  • Supernatural has one every season so far, generally building on the previous arc and moving toward the series' overall Myth Arc.
    • Season One has the boys' search for their father, and the demon that killed their mother by extension.
    • Season Two is essentially the same as the first season, save for the fact that they Brothers Winchester are now searching solely for the Yellow-Eyed Demon, who has now killed John as well.
    • Season Three deals with the repercussions of Dean's deal with the Crossroads Demon, Sam's attempts to get Dean out of this deal, and the rise of Lilith later in the season.
    • Season Four begins to really wrestle with the Myth Arc, with the boys trying to prevent Lilith from breaking the 66 Seals and the rise of Lucifer, and introducing angels, Dean's own destiny and Sam's growing demon powers.
    • Season Five is, so far, all about preventing the Apocalypse now that Lucifer has risen, Sam and Dean's destinies as the true vessels for Lucifer and Michael, and to a smaller extent, rebuilding the brothers' relationship.
    • Season Six has multiple interconnected plot lines: the loss and return of Sam's soul (and in turn, the potential return of his memories of Hell), the civil war in Heaven, Crowley's search for Purgatory, and the coming of the Mother of All to Earth.
    • Season Seven deals with the fallout from Castiel opening Purgatory at the end of the previous season, primarily the release of the Leviathans and their plans to Take Over the World.
  • In any given season, The Wire tends to have half-a-dozen story arcs at one time. At least. And they are all awesome.
  • Disney's Zorro, which ran in the late 1950s was organized into arc stories, rather than simply being episodic. Each episode set up a new set of troubles that Zorro would have to deal with in the next episode in logical, linear fashion.
  • Each season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has an arc spanning half it's run.
    • Season 1: The Master's attempts to escape his can and open the Hellmouth.
    • Season 2: Technically the fights between Buffy and Spike count as an arc, but the real arc doesn't start until Angel loses his soul and becomes Angelus again.
    • Season 3: The Mayor's plans to become a pure demon, and Faith's fall from good and her eventual Face Heel Turn.
    • Season 4: Buffy adjusting to college life and dealing with The Initiative, whose experiments ultimately lead to the rise of Adam.
    • Season 5: Buffy dealing with Dawn's arrival, Joyce's death, and Glory's plans.
    • Season 6: Willow dealing with her addiction to magic, and Buffy trying to provide for Dawn while also getting tormented by the Trio.
    • Season 7: The First attempts to open the Hellmouth, while Buffy builds an army of Potential Slayers to fight it.
  • CSI did one with the "Miniature Killer", so called because they would leave a perfect scale model of the crime scene there, and which served as the set up at the end to put one of the regulars on a bus.
  • Dexter has naturally fallen into this, as its entire first season was an adaptation of one novel. Subsequent seasons have each carried their own story arc.
    • Season 1 focuses on the hunt for the ruthless Ice Truck Killer, who is revealed in the end to be Dexter's lost brother Brian Moser.
    • Season 2 revolves around Dexter's victims' bodies being discovered. Miami Metro Homicide names the mysterious serial killer the Bay Harbor Butcher and, with the help of the FBI, begins their hunt for him. This means Dexter needs to be a step ahead of his team at all times, particularly Doakes, who already suspects him. Paralleling the story is Dexter's relationship with Lila, his sponsor at Narcotics Anonymous.
    • Season 3 introduces Miguel Prado, who ends up discovering Dexter's secret. The next few episodes explore the consequences of this discovery.
    • Season 4 centers around Dexter's life as a family man; fathering Harrison, living with Rita and the kids, etcetera, while in the meantime Miami is visited by a serial killer called "Trinity". Dexter ends up befriending him while secretly investigating him.
    • Season 5 pits Dexter and his new partner Lumen against a gang of serial rapists led by motivational speaker Jordan Chase.
    • Season 6 opts for a religion-centric plot, where a mysterious force dubbed the Doomsday Killer strikes in Miami and uses his victims' bodies to enact tableaus from the Book of Revelations. It also sees the promotion of Debra Morgan to the position of Lieutenant, and further explores her relationship with her brother.
  • Weeds contains over-arcing storylines, although they aren't necessarily clearly-defined between seasons, and they sometimes aren't so much resolved as they are escaped from. This gives it a quality of drifting from situation to situation that fits its stoner subject matter, while characters from unresolved plotlines sometimes resurface later.
  • iCarly has an arc that started from the final episode of Season 4, titled iOMG and continues in the first four episodes of Season 5, dealing with Sam's feelings for Freddie. Notable in being one of the only examples of a Kid Com having a Story Arc, especially for the big two of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.
  • Seinfeld, despite being a "show about nothing", did have a few plotlines that ran in the background of several seasons: Kramer writing and publishing a coffee table book (about coffee tables), Jerry and George writing a TV pilot, George's engagement to Susan, etc.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place is known for it's many story arcs. Each season had quite a few of them, most of them running concurrently.
    • Season 2: The "Wizards vs. Vampires" arc, which dealt with Justin's relationship with Juliet and her parents.
    • Season 3: The "Chronicles of Moises" arc, which dealt with Justin becoming a monster hunter, and Max releasing his conscience. This arc ended with Juliet being captured by the mummy. The next arc in Season 3 was the "Wizards vs. Werewolves" saga, which detailed Alex's growing relationship with Mason, and eventually tied itself with the "Chronicles of Moises" arc. The "Stevie" arc followed, and dealt with Stevie's arrival in New York and her wizard revolution. The "Wizards Exposed" arc came next, where the Russo's are captured and taken to a government facility.
    • Season 4: The beginning of Season 4 continued the "Wizards Exposed" arc, which ended with Alex and Justin having to start over in the wizard competition, and Alex deciding to get back in so she could be with Mason. The next arc was the "Maxine" arc, where Max was transformed into a little girl named Maxine. It began with "Three Maxes and a Little Lady", and concluded with "Back To Max". The "Maxine" arc ran concurrently with the next major arc, the "Wizards vs. Angels" saga, which dealt with the Angels of Darkness. The last major arc was the "Apartment 13B" arc, starting with "Wizards of Apartment 13B" and ending with "Wizards vs. Everything". The last arc merges the "Wizards vs. Angels" arc with the "Wizards vs. Werewolves" arc.
    • Each season of Round the Twist has a different arc. The first two seasons contained different ghost stories, for Season 3 it was a Viking Love Book, and Season five concerned a mysterious knight from Atlantis.
  • Each of season White Collar revolve around a specific overarching storyline that continues from the previous one
    • Season 1: Neal's search for Kate and the music box that would lead to her.
    • Season 2: The mystery of Kate's music box, and its connection to Vincent Adler.
    • Season 3: Vincent Adler's U-boat treasure that the box hid, Matthew Keller's return, and Neal's commutation.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Beetle Bailey doesn't usually have much continuity, but over the decades, there have been a handful of arcs connecting the strips (actual longer stories for albums notwithstanding), including at least "Beetle arrives at college," "Beetle joins the army," "Beetle goes home on holiday alone," "Beetle goes home on holiday with Sarge," "Beetle goes on holiday at home with Sarge and Otto," "Zero goes on holiday home with Beetle and Sarge," and "Sarge briefly tries to leave the army but comes back."
  • Calvin and Hobbes has several, some of them connecting into larger arcs, like the ones involving different uses of the same invention (all of which inventions tend to be the same cardboard box in different positions anyway).


Video Games[edit | hide]


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • You'd be hard pressed to find a Sluggy Freelance strip that doesn't lead up to or follow up on another strip. Most of them do both. Even if you counted sub-chapters (technically called stories, so calling them arcs as well is a bit redundant) or even chapters for "episodes", there are still storylines arcing over those, up to Myth Arc level. Even the Filler Strips often come in series (of stories, not just strips): The Return of Stick-Figure Week!
  • In the tradition of old-style Newspaper Comics serials (the author/narrator has mentioned a fondness for Lee Falk's catchphrase, "Next--New Adventure!"), the story arcs in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob each have a clear beginning and ending, usually with a couple of stand-alone strips in between arcs. These arcs run for months, although they usually only cover a day or two in-universe.
  • Everything except filler in El Goonish Shive. Also has a Myth Arc, though it has spent the past few years lurking in the background.
  • Living with Insanity used to be a comic strip with the occasional story arc, but now is mostly story arcs.
  • Both Dragon City and Jix both started off as a gag-a-day strips, despite having an ongoing story, but both became arc based. This is because the writer has a hard time writing jokes without having a story in place to joke about.
  • The Packrat had only one Story Arc so far, and that was the time travel story from January 2011 to February 2012.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The web fiction serial Dimension Heroes has an ongoing story arc, broken up into several smaller books.
  • The Epic Tales series Shadow Hawk has an ongoing arc about Shadow Hawk wanting to get revenge on the Shapeshifter, who killed his father. It also has a subplot arc about how he got a girl pregnant in the first story.
  • Each 'chapter' of The Mad Scientist Wars is usually a self contained storyline- but as the gae has been going on, more and more storylines will run somewhat through other chapter. For instance, 'Chic's Family' has been going on since the Mad Sci Con chapter.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall has had these ever since Mechakara's introduction.
  • The Nostalgia Critic's had a long-running, slightly Yo-Yo Plot Point one about his love/hate relationship with his job.
  • The Nostalgia Chick's had a few, the most obvious being the Dark Nella Saga.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The first season of the Dilbert animated series had a story arc regarding the company's new flagship product: The Gruntmaster 3000. It covered things such as producing, marketing, and site-testing. The story was frequently broken up with non-arc episodes.
  • Exo Squad had not only the primary story arc (the struggle between the Terrans and the Neo Sapiens), but it was also broken into smaller four or five episode long mini arcs, with the action typically focusing on a particular theater of the war. On the DVD release, each mini-arc gets its own name in addition to the episode titles.
  • Justice League Unlimited had one in the second season, dealing with the fight between the League and Project Cadmus, and another in the third season focusing on the Secret Society/Legion of Doom.
  • Transformers: Beast Wars had arcs a-plenty. The first season often leaving a viewer wondering What Happened to the Mouse?, until, several episodes later, just when they'd almost forgotten, it was revealed. The second and third seasons, however, are more serialized. Skip an episode, and you'll miss at least one thing that's worth knowing later. You won't be left completely hanging, but you won't get what's going on as well as a more devoted viewer, either.
    • The Sequel Series, Beast Machines, has some of the strongest continuity of any cartoon ever aired. The whole thing is a series of Arcs.
    • Transformers Animated follows arc structure as well, with Season 1 focusing on Megatron's attempts to rebuild his body (with his eventual success covered in the finale), and Season 2 dealing with the Decepticons' plot to build a space bridge to Cybertron. Season 3 is a bit more fluid, possibly because a lot of loose ends are getting tied up.
  • Though his higher-ups demanded a strictly toy deal series for the lines of action figures, story editor John Semper managed to "sneak in" overarching storylines and development into Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Naming each season and referring to episodes as "chapters" probably didn't hurt. By the time they realized what he had done, and despite limited animation and extremely restrictive censorship, the show had become the number 1 cartoon in America. Nonetheless, they still didn't let him join in on the Spider-Man Unlimited spinoff, which was primarily stand-alone format and petered out after barely reaching 13 episodes.
  • The X-Men cartoon of the 90s did this as well, going through a number of arcs that were featured in the comic books, including the Phoenix and Dark Phoenix sagas.
  • The 1981 Spider-Man cartoon (the solo one, before Amazing Friends) had a story arc, stretched across five episodes, surrounding Doctor Doom's attempts to conquer the world and the developing situation in his home country of Latveria.
  • Gargoyles had a subtle arc about Brooklyn's coming of age that became a flaring beacon of story awesomeness in the episode, "Kingdom," when you realize this is what the previous Brooklyn stories have been building toward. Also, there are multi-episode arcs that are more blatant, most infamously the "Avalon World Tour".
  • The second season of Sonic the Hedgehog's "SatAM" cartoon started off more continuity-based to begin with, then kicked into full-on, development-a-week arc mode with the launch of the Doomsday Project.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures, in addition to it's main Myth Arc, features other story arcs, usually following a specific character over the course of the show (for example, the Living Laser's origin and him figuring out what to do with his new powers and then his eventual downfall). These story arcs also end up combining and become more narrow as the show goes on (The Living Laser story arc ends up fusing with the A.I.M story arc later on).
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender's Myth Arc is divided by it's three seasons, which are titled "books". Book 1 is Water, Book 2 is Earth, and Book 3 is Fire. As the names suggest, each arc deals heavily with Aang mastering the elements involved. Also, while Book 1 was more or less one whole arc, each half of Book 2 and Book 3 could be divided into arcs: the Earthbending Training arc, the Ba Sing Se arc, the pre-Solar Eclipse Invasion arc, and the pre-Sozin's Comet / Firebending Training arc.
  • The Secret Saturdays has this:
    • Season One: The Kur Stone Puzzle
    • Season Two: Finding Kur
    • Season Three: Zak IS Kur
  • Though Batman the Brave And The Bold mostly uses stand alone stories, they do occasionally throw in hints of story arcs, such as Equinox, the Starro story arc and the arrival of Darkseid.
  • Each Teen Titans season has an overarching plotline, related to one of the core characters:
    • Season One focuses on Robin, with Slade as the Big Bad; the story is mostly about how the two characters are and aren't Not So Different.
    • Season Two focuses on Beast Boy and moreso on Sixth Ranger Traitor Terra, who is manipulated by Slade to become The Mole and ultimately The Dragon.
    • Season Three deals with Cyborg and his escalating enmity with Diabolical Mastermind Brother Blood, who has stolen and abused Cyborg's own technology.
    • Season Four is about Raven and her attempts to avert her destiny- opening a portal to allow her demonic father Trigon the chance to escape his can and conquer the universe.
    • Season Five focuses on the team as a whole and their efforts to stop the Brotherhood of Evil from wiping out a generation of superheroes.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures and its seasonal arcs.
    • Season One: The search for Shendu's talismans.
    • Season Two: Defeating Shendu's demon siblings.
    • Season Three: Finding the animals with the talismans' powers.
    • Season Four: Finding the Shadowkhan masks.
    • Season Five: The search for the chi of the demon sorcerers.
  • Each season of the Total Drama series is essentially this, with a different cast lineup, elimination order, and winner in each one.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is notably for being a Scooby Doo series that actually has a Story Arc; specifically, the gang's investigation of the mystery involving the original Mystery Inc. and the supposed "curse" of Crystal Cove.
  • South Park has had several story arcs along with multi-part episodes. Season 3 brought a three-part story arc often called "The Meteor Shower Trilogy", in which each episode was a seperate story about different members of the main cast which all take place on the same night. A three-part mini-arc in season 4 involved Mr. Garrison coming out of the closet, and an arc lasting through the entirety of season 6 involved the absence of Kenny and attempts to replace him.
  1. Clones in this case referring to regular humans injected with the DNA of another person; there are more atypical clones in the series, but most adhere to the former definition.