7 TV Time-Jumps That Blew Our Minds

Due to the coronavirus shutting down production early, Riverdale‘s fourth season was cut a bit short. The last three episodes of the season, which would have seen Archie and the gang go to prom and graduate high school, are now being postponed until the beginning of next season, which will not air until January of 2021.

On top of that, series showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has confirmed (via CNN) that after those initial three high school-era episodes air, there will be a significant time jump within the Riverdale universe; he’s strongly hinting that the time jump will be up to four years. Which means the rest of season five could take place after the main cast goes to college, graduates, and then returns home. (In other words, the twenty-something actors will actually be able to play their actual ages for a change.)

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The CW

Strange as it may sound, the “time-jump” has been a staple of television storytelling for years. Many shows have benefited from the clean slate that a big leap forward in time has given their stories. Before the townsfolk of Riverdale head down this tried and true story path, read what we believe to be some of the most memorable time-jumps in television history.

Alias season two
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ABC Television

Super spy Sydney Bristow went through many dangerous missions in the first two seasons of Alias. But at the end of season two, she woke up in Hong Kong with no memory of how she got there. As it turns out, it was two whole years from where we had last seen her. The two-year time-jump, and finding out just what Sydney had been doing that entire time, formed the basis for much of the show’s third season.

Lost season three
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ABC Television

Lost famously used flashbacks throughout the show’s first three years to fill in the blanks of the characters’ lives before the crash of Oceanic Airlines Flight 815. But in the season three finale, the series shocked everyone by revealing that one supposed flashback was in fact a flash forward, jumping ahead several months, if not years. This was a huge paradigm shift for the show going forward.

Fringe season five
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Fox Networks

J.J. Abrams sure loves his time-jumps. Not to be outdone by any of his earlier shows I just mentioned, Abrams’ sci-fi series Fringe had the craziest time-jump of them all. For the show’s fifth and final season, the producers jumped ahead a whopping 24 years. The main characters now found themselves in the year 2036, in a truly bleak future.

Battlestar Galactica season two
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NBC Universal

In its season two finale, Battlestar Galactica shocked everyone when the slimy Gaius Baltar became the new president of the colonies. And at the end of that episode, the show jumped forward one whole year to show just how much of an unmitigated disaster the Baltar presidency was for humanity, and how it allowed for a new Cylon takeover.

True Blood season four
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At the end of the supernatural soap’s third season, psychic waitress Sookie Stackhouse learned she was descended from faeries and took off for another dimension. By the time she returned to her home town of Bon Temps, she discovered that she’d been missing for a whole year and was presumed dead. And she found most of the series’ regular characters in entirely different life situations upon her return.

The Walking Dead season nine
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AMC Television

Another big time-jump came somewhat recently, when the ninth season of the seminal zombie series jumped forward six years. This took place after lead character Rick Grimes had departed the series, so the jump in this case was another instance of giving a long-running series a creative fresh slate. It also allowed them to age up baby Judith to 10 years old.

Parks and Recreation season seven
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NBC Universal

It’s not just genre shows that get the old time-jump trope. Beloved comedy series Parks and Recreation jumped forward two years for their final season. The reason for this particular jump is actually pretty simple: star Amy Poehler’s had already had two children back to back in real life, and her character just had triplets on the show. She figured by jumping forward two years, she could skip having to work with more crying infants!

Of course there are many other shows who have done similar time-jumps. There’s Breaking Bad, which flashed forwarded five months, and Felicity (another J.J. Abrams series), which skipped ahead and even went into an alternate future. As long as there are TV series that are getting a little long-in-the-tooth, there will be time-jumps to give them a much needed narrative boost.

Featured Image: The CW

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