Sometimes, a long-running show gets a little stale.
Hey, it happens – particularly when a series is at 20+ episodes per season, as was the norm on television for quite a while. That's a LOT of filler episodes. And when staleness DOES happen, there are several ways that showrunners can attempt to inject new life into it. One of those methods is a smartly-used time jump.
A "time jump" in this sense is any significant stretch of time that passes, between seasons or episodes. Usually, within a jump, there has been a notable event (or events) that change the course of the series or set off a new plot. When used correctly, they can make the introduction of new characters more seamless or skip over a chunk of time that may be difficult (or boring) to show onscreen.
Take, for example, "The College Years" in any series that began in high school. Doing college storylines on a show that has previously been set in high school rarely goes well (unless you're ABC's TGIF classic Boy Meets World). Several recent high school dramas have chosen to forego college years altogether, skipping over them with a time jump and picking up with the characters as graduates.
Of course, a show can opt to introduce a time jump for any number of reasons. Used near the end of a series rather than in the middle, a time jump can be a way to provide a well-rounded sense of finality, giving us a glimpse into the futures of the characters we have grown to know and love.
Check out our list below, with 11 of the best TV time jumps EVER!
Agree? Disagree? Have a favorite TV time jump that we left out? Hit the comments and let us know what your favorite time jumps are!
Parks and Recreation
The very end of Parks and Recreation Season 6 Finale catapulted us three years into the future. Instead of suffering through a Leslie-pregnancy storyline, we instead got to see her fully settled in her new job. It was fun to catch up on where everyone had wound up three years ahead. The Leslie-Ron feud (and its resolution) was also gold.
This one was kind of random but worked brilliantly in the end. It wasn't a premiere or finale, but rather just a typical episode towards the end of Fargo Season 1. The show skipped over a year to find Gus and Molly married and pregnant, and slimy Lester enjoying career success and a wife way out of his league. It made the payoff of Lester's eventual season-end downfall all the more sweet.
One Tree Hill
Rather than suffering through teen drama "college years" fatigue, One Tree Hill Season 5 Episode 1 skipped over four years, six months, and two days (the episode's title), picking up with the Tree Hill gang adjusting to post-grad life. The Lucas/Peyton separation was tough to get through, but on the bright side the time jump gave us fan faves like Julian and the adorable wonder that was little Jamie Scott.
By flashing forward to the year 2020, we got to see Rachel Berry win her Tony Award with a time jump into the future during the Glee series finale. She was also revealed to be a surrogate, carrying Blaine and Kurt's baby, making all us Klaine 'shippers squeal with joy. I'm going to ignore the part where they married her off to Jesse.
Pretty Little Liars
After the midseason finale of Season 6, the show went BIG with a five year time jump. The winter midseason premiere of the season's second half picked up after the liars had all graduated college and gone their separate ways -- definitely a cool way to shake things up that far into a series run!
Season 3 of the much-lauded BBC television series picked up two years after "The Reichenbach Fall," in which Sherlock faked his own death. In that time, Watson grew his infamous mustache. Sherlock was not exactly pleased with that development, while Watson was not thrilled that his BFF had, y'know, pretended to be dead for years.
Lost always played fast and loose with its timeline, but the introduction of the flashforwards – taking place three years after the "Oceanic Six" made their way back to civilization after months on the mysterious island – at the very end of Season 3 was a total gamechanger in the series. It will forever go down as one of the best time jumps in TV history.
Six Feet Under
Six Feet Under took "time jump" to a whole new level in their absolutely stellar and heartbreaking series finale, flashing forward repeatedly in time in the final episode to show each character's demise. A poignant and perfectly fitting end for a show centered on a family who runs a funeral home.
Who could ever forget Sydney suddenly waking up in Hong Kong in the closing moments of the Season 2 finale, with no knowledge of the past two years and having been thought missing during all that time? It changed everything.
The History channel series loves its time jumps, and there have been several. It's an effective way to show a lot of story and explore different times of Ragnar's reign. But I think the best and most iconic time jump was the very first one – Season 2 Episode 1 takes place in 796 AD but Episode 2 jumps ahead four years. Four peaceful years of Ragnar's reign has passed and terribly boring Aslaug has given birth to several more male children, after Lagertha refused Ragnar's offer to stay married and take Aslaug on as a second wife.
Season 6 of the long-running CW series picked up a full year after the events of Season 5. The fifth season's finale easily could have served as a series finale – with Sam, as a vessel for Lucifer, throwing himself into the cage to defeat him once and for all (OK, not quite, in retrospect, but he gave it a real go). Dean moved on and tried to live a normal life after that, without Sam and without hunting. When Sam returned from hell, the year's absence arguably changed their relationship forever.