In Boston Public Episode "Chapter 36", there is a sub-story about Zach Del Ray asking Ronnie Cooke to prom. This is odd because in Episode "Chapter 34", Zach Del Ray dies in a car accident. In my copy of the episodes, they are in "Chapter order," so I saw Zach Del Ray die 2 episodes earlier. However, after looking up the episode guide on Wikipedia:

The episodes are listed as:

S02e11 - Chapter 33
S02e12 - Chapter 35
S02e13 - Chapter 36
S02e14 - Chapter 34
S02e15 - Chapter 37

This is the first instance of the "Chapter order" (chronological order of the story) not being the same as the "episode order" (chronological order of the episodes)

It also seems that in Season 4, this happens a few more times:

S04e01 - Chapter 67
S04E02 - Chapter 69
S04E03 - Chapter 68
S04E04 - Chapter 70
S04E08 - Chapter 74
S04E09 - Chapter 76
S04E10 - Chapter 75
S0rE11 - Chapter 77

For the rest of the series, the "Chapter Order" and "Episode Order" are the same.

I never noticed that the season 4 episodes were out of chronological order until researching this question, but the season 2 thing has always bothered me, since the "back from the dead" thing is such a glaring inconsistency.

Why did they do this? I get that there are any number of reasons to progress a story out of chronological order for storytelling purposes, but I don't understand what is to be gained here, and why it was done for just a handful of episodes. Was it a scheduling conflict in producing the show? It just seems very strange, especially for a show where every single episode is named "Chapter XX"

If you do know why, has that happened on other shows?

2 Answers 2


Boston Public: Season 2, Episode 14: Chapter Thirty-Four

This episode aired out of order so as to make more sense. Zach dies in this episode, but if the episodes are aired in the original order, he's alive again two episodes later.

Boston Public: Season 4, Episode 10: Chapter Seventy-Five

This episode was originally scheduled to air December 12, but was preempted for A Minute With Stan Hooper.

Can't find anything WRT the switch of episodes 68 and 69.

  • s02e14, that doesn't really answer the question, or at least makes a new one, why would the original order have him being alive again? that doesn't make any sense. the thing with s04e10, that is very helpful!
    – chiliNUT
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:29
  • @SethCohen Most likely because there were multiple writers and someone didn't pay attention. These things are often written and/or filmed out of order. It's hard to find info about this in particular because this happened back in 2003 and most of the internet data from that era has disappeared.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Feb 12, 2015 at 15:48

Well, there's a trope for it, so apparently it happens often enough.

I knew this had happened with Star Trek: TOS and Lost, but that link above has quite a few other examples.

  • What is the actual answer, though?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 17:54
  • There wasn't one specific answer given, and the OP asked, "Why would any show do this?" and "Does this happen on other shows?" I suppose the question should technically be closed due to it being too broad. Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 17:56
  • I've edited to hopefully make it less broad. The trope link was helpful.
    – chiliNUT
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 18:18

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