Is there a name for the TV Serial style where the end of each episode is the pre-opening credit intro for the next one?

This style was used on shows such as Quantum Leap. I seem to remember it being quite common but I'm struggling a bit with google-fu because I keep finding people's technical problems with Netflix episode binging.

  • 1
    'Cliff-hanger'? This has been used since the 50s or earlier, with Saturday morning matinee movies for kids. Quantum Leap was slightly different in as much as the end of one show was the beginning of the next, rather than it being the end of the current story.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 1, 2021 at 9:43
  • I assumed there was something more specific for the structure than cliff-hanger. Which I generally associate with stopping in the middle of a two-part story, not simply the break after setting up the story.
    – Jontia
    Dec 1, 2021 at 10:36
  • 2
    Sure, but as Quantum Leap is the only show I've ever known that uses the last scene to always set up the start of the next episode & has almost nothing to do with the current episode, I'm not sure it has a name.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 1, 2021 at 13:04
  • @Tetsujin it might be that I'm imagining it being used more widely, but it definitely exists in Sliders as well. I seem to recall it in The Time Tunnel and possibly Land of The Giants.
    – Jontia
    Dec 1, 2021 at 13:09
  • 1
    The theme here seems to be time travel. Quantum Leap, Sliders, The Time Tunnel, Land of The Giants. Timeless tried to do this in a few episodes IIRC. None have done it w/o fail, like QL has AFAIK. The hypernym is cliffhanger; specifically Quantum Leap style. OH BOY.
    – Mazura
    Dec 8, 2021 at 17:24

1 Answer 1


I would contend that the closest technical term for this is "Cliffhanger". From the Wiki:

A cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode[1] or a movie of serialized fiction. A cliffhanger is hoped to incentivize the audience to return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma.

The point of the cliffhanger is to bring the audience back for the next episode, and in shows like Quantum Leap, it worked pretty effectively.

There isn't really a term for overlapping episodes, it can't really be considered a "Recap Sequence" as the previous episode is mostly inconsequential.

  • Outside of TV, such overlaps can be called “elision”, but I agree that the cliffhanger concept is better suited as an answer to the question. Dec 2, 2021 at 2:11

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .