FILLER ARCS – Terrible Writing Advice

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Writing filler is an essential writer’s skill and very important. A writer should be good at adding filler to a story to pad things out. This drags the story out and slows its pace. It makes the story go by very slow reducing it to a crawl. This is good because a good writer keeps their audience engaged with this filler that fills out the story cheaply. Filler needs to be very easy to produce. That makes it cheap padding that can pad out the story. Did I mention how filler takes up space?

00:00 Intro to filler
01:23 Filler plot
04:04 Filler characters
06:46 Filler setting
07:21 Character busy work
08:44 Flashbacks again
9:32 Clip show
10:16 Conclusion
10:58 Sponsorship Wars S3E4
13:3- Outro

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Music: “Quirky Dog”, “Monkeys Spinning Monkeys”, and “Son of a Rocket” by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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Comment (1,269)

  1. i would love if you talked about Tournament Arcs some day. Training Arcs too. too many Ani make them ungodly and asinine, and the few that do 'em right are far and few between.

  2. imagine having filler arcs instead of just writing a whole fucking story as filler

    imagine not writing a whole fucking multiverse as filler, there should be multiverses of multiverses of filler, there should be a great cannon reality and it's just filler
    I am 34 dimensions ahead of you, J.P

    and they'll all full of filler

  3. Funny enough, I am at a point in my book where I definitely need more content if I'm going to hit a decent word count, so this was just what I needed!

    (And yes I know, terrible writing advice, so do the opposite of this!)

  4. One Piece is interesting because it often takes ideas rejected from the manga and turns it into a filler arc. There's also been a few times when the cast was shoved into another time period for seemingly no reason just to see what happens. Probably can't work for every anime, but I think it's a good strategy.

  5. If you're writing a filler arc, I ask of you just one thing: make it matter

    Show important aspects of the characters that aren't able to be shown in a plot heavy setting, set up future conflicts, introduce characters that will be important later. Develop your characters personalities, have them figure out a new power that they were only able to unlock due to everything being so chill. Show the dynamics between the main characters and develop them.

    At least provide a believable reason in the context of the show that everything has halted, please at least do that.

  6. There seems to be some confusion on what “filler” is. Filler is not just “it does not directly advance the plot or obviously develop the characters.” Filler is mostly defined as low effort AND can be/is ignored by the none-filler episodes.

    The reason this is regarded so poorly is that there is never an actual reason to do this besides pure laziness or poor skill. there are ways to slow things down, explore the space in between strong narrative beats, and basically “stop and smell the roses” if more content is required of the author.

  7. The way I see it, there is only three good ways to do filler.

    0.) don’t.

    1.) flashback, backstory, or exploring other events going on in the setting not touched on so far by the main series.

    2.) get a new perspective on an event we already know about like seeing things from a side characters point of view.

    3.) a side adventure that still makes sense with things like cannon and character arcs. The not being mentioned again is excusable if it just happens to never come up, as long as it never seems like just seems like a the men in black covered it up.
    Better yet, make it matter later, like using time travel adventures in one offs that don’t matter because it never technically happened, only for that time agent they keep mentioning to help in the main plot because it’s some apocalypse thing do they need to stop that future.

  8. There are a ton of good fillers out there. The reason people tend to think filler arcs are always bad is because, well… you don't recognize good filler AS filler. Take for example, One Piece. When they fell out of the cloud arc and landing smack dab in an enclosed navy bastion, having to disguise themselves as navy crew until eventually breaking out… that was all filler, and it was such good filler that people are baffled when informed it was filler. Also, you know that whole stupid ass arc where they are in that pirate competition where the winner takes the loser's crew, just to save that one guy's lama? That wasn't filler. That was in the manga.

  9. But what if you're too far ahead of the source material but not far enough ahead to justify a filler arc? (I'm talking "caught up in a week or so") Well, that's where the breather episode comes into play. Just take everything you know about filler arcs, somehow make it even more inane and self-indulgent, and voila! You're all set for a breather episode. Don't worry about how a breather episode is meant to be a break for the characters to explore otherwise unexplorable aspects of themselves as well as a break for the audience to more-easily digest everything else that happened before the breather episode to make room for what will happen after the breather episode. You also don't need to worry about how it's still a part of the story, meaning you can go ham with what you want your characters to do while completely disregarding any plot threads or character development on top of whatever worldbuilding you had going on.

  10. I originally thought that you were going the extra mile and not having a sponsor or sponsorship war this episode to hammer in the who "filler arc" bit. Granted, I think it was mostly just due to the lack of "this video is sponsored by" bit at the beginning of the episode.

    That being said, I enjoyed JP's new smug, laid back avatar in the chair. It added a lot to the jokes and delivery.

  11. If you ask me, the secret to filler is allowing the audience to see your characters in different enviroments or situations than what we are used to.

    Perhaps your group of adventurers that are always in some dark, wet dungeon get to have a day off and you see more of their day to day lives, which humanizes them and shows there is more to their characters than adventuring and killing goblins.

    Maybe the protagonists of your horror story get to have a happy and peacefull day on which nobody dies horribly and it just feels nice to see them enjoying themselves instead of suffering. This also allows for character development that couldnt happen otherwise because everyone is too busy screaming and killing each other in the main story.

    Popular side characters can get more development and time to shine, on their own or with more interactions with the cast.

    You can make up an entire mini story happening on the side or background to have fun with a heist or some crazy shit and a new cast.

    Or you can say fuck it and make 2 demi gods with the power of flight learn how to drive. That was the best episode of Dragon Ball and I will die on that hill.

  12. I find a pretty good use for filler is to give a side character a day in the limelight by following them around their menial day to day life for a bit, give them some forgettable villain of the day to beat up and generally remind the audience that the character exists and not much else. Don't worry if you should happen to accidentally do something dumb like, give this character actual character growth, establish a new trait/ability that may potentially make them more useful in a later arc, or may Jesus forgive me for even suggesting this, potentially correct/give context to any character flaws that might have made this character unpopular with viewers, as filler arcs never have any bearing on the plot and the character can happily throw any growth in the trash can and return to the status quo once Protagonist-kun and his gaggle of morons and sex slaves (both in the metaphorical and possibly literal sense) are onscreen again.

  13. Defeating the villain that also happens to fix all of the destruction caused up until that point sure is handy; so much, in fact, that we will never speak of anything that happened here ever again. Right!?

  14. For using filler characters I like using what I called the "Shadow Method" after one of the FFVI optional characters. Introduce the character and have them frequently reappear and be of use, then have the filler character join alongside the protagonist when it reaches a filler arc.

  15. 2:19 Ah, yes, that Shonen mainstay: the beach episode. The only twist on this I can think of is the female lead wearing a swimsuit that covers up MORE of her body than her default outfit [cough] GURRENLAGGAN! [cough]
    7:57 Nice burn on Fallout 4. A Vault Dweller who tries to talk sense into all 4 factions will need a really high Charisma score. OMG, RPG side-quests are the filler arcs of video games. At least I get more money, XP, and stuff.

  16. In Detective Conan, there was a filler episode that relied entirely around the idea of tying a key to a beetle and having it fly out a window. To this very day, I am convinced that is Peak Fiction.

  17. Every criticism of FIller Arcs is 100% on point.

    ….Except Tournament Arcs, that's like the one filler arc that almost never disappoints. (Seriously, you have to be an even worse writer than JP to screw up a tournament arc)

  18. i know of some filler arcs in anime that is just as good of a story to the canon stuff. One example is the Zanpakuto Rebellion Arc done in Bleach, the story of it was as good as the canon story that even the manga author Tite Kubo was actually impressed with it and I heard that he quoted saying he wish he actually thought of it for the manga. If a filler arc can make the series creator wish they thought of the story for the canon material, something must of been done right.
    EDIT: As for the filler as movies that are never brought up there are a few examples where some are brought up again. 2 examples are the DBZ films Battle of gods and Resurrection F, both which were adapted and expanded upon in DBZ Super and then there is the Super Broly movie that is listed as Canon to the main story and brought up in Super: Superhero. Another example of an anime film brought up in canon with its series surprisingly is Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, where in the Not dubbed Season 5, when they face for the first time the final antagonist of the series Z-One, they actually reference the events of Yu-Gi-Oh! Bonds Beyond time. Sometimes Filler films can be canon in their series, if done correctly.

  19. My favorite thing was when Naruto made filler arcs canon in its sequel Boruto, and you can’t ever be sure which ones are. Ninja Ostrich? Ninja turns himself into a Weretiger? All possibly canon now!

    Bleach referencing the first movie due to Ichigo going there once in the past and he was the only one whose memory wasn’t erased of said movie.

  20. A garbage video which fools will use to justify their lack of taste and media illiteracy. Some of my favourite stories of all time, like Fullmetal Alchemist's 2003 second half and the Virtual world arc in Yu-Gi-Oh are unfairly dismissed for not being in the stupid manga, furthermore people are already popping up to insult mostly episodic shows like Steven Universe or Pokemon for daring to focus anywhere but their main plot, even if the main plot was never the point of the show.
    Art is still art regardless of why it was made, whether to fill for time or sell toys, and all art deserves to be treated and rated equally. Quality is subjective, one man's trash another's treasure, so you should never drag something through the mud just because you disliked it, only if you have some better reasons to. Lastly, filler can't waste your time because watching a show wasn't a productive way to spend your time in the first place unless it taught you something you can apply to the real world, and filler can still do that.

  21. Gintama unironically and unashamedly follows this advice to the point they’re making fun of the fact that they’re doing filler to fill the episode.

    10/10 best anime, would watch the whole season made of filler again

  22. The events of filler episodes never being mentioned again is actually the best thing about filler.

    It means I don't actually miss anything when I skip the entire filler arc.

  23. Story filled with so much filler there are online lists of which sequences of episodes to skip as to avoid filler? More flashbacks in the story than actual plot? Yet still the source material you're adapting to a show hasn't progresed enough?

    Worry not! Simply explore the esoteric backstory of the current main villain! Even if their motivations and plan are already spelled out, you can always just tell their backstory to really hammer home why they're evil and doing what they are.

    Damn… the main story still hasn't progressed far enough… Uh… Just go into the same villain's backstory again! But from the protagonist's or their mentor's perspective. THen from the anti-villain perspective! Make sure every character has had the story told from 100 years ago from their exact prospective no matter how much that grinds the pacing of the show to a halt.

    And any trick worth using once is worth using twice, three no four times! Just do the exact same thing with the next villain and all the ones after to give your writer plenty of time to complete their story!

  24. my favourite series, Ascendance of a Bookworm, has what feels like filler in part 2 volume 4. It's not and comes up later as a fired Chekov gun but whenever I reread that volume I always skip that part

  25. Most filler arcs in anime are because of a problem with Japanese broadcast law. If there's isn't a new episode, you lose your time slot and your show gets cancelled before you get a chance to wrap up your story.
    And it's not like they can set up something with serious stakes — not because they don't care, but because doing something that could affect the status quo could have serious ramifications for the setting and potentially cause a major continuity snarl when the manga picks back up again. A meta time paradox for that universe of sorts.
    Gintama has a segment explaining/joking about why stalling things with filler is a risky but necessary thing to do.

  26. The tragic thing is that things labeled as "filler" can be some of the best material of a series. Give the characters some time to unwind and actually process some of their emotions on what's going on, or just let then do something fun and weird that can't turn into a bigger arc. Show how the red light district on the magic town is, have the characters complain about actually cleaning their ship, show their routine in more detail or through a different lens, so much that could be done to at least strengthen characterization of a character or world even if it's technically nothing plot essential

  27. No wait listen up
    Filler arcs are useful if you change the genre of the story to a more relaxed, "slice-of-life"ish style for a while, AND THEN you start an actual serious arc to catch everyone off guard

  28. I feel the same about filler episodes as I do literary lemons. That is, while I occasionally enjoy them, I usually just skim through them, and only drop the show/story entirely if they start to really drag on and/or involve talking ostriches.

  29. Reminds me of my "favorite" filler arc from One Piece: THE ONLY CANONICAL ONE (foxy pirate arc). I can typically stand filler, but when Luffy fired that stupid gun for what feels like the 5th time, it was immediately catapulted to my least favorite filler arc ever.

  30. Fun fact, you can absolutely use these methods in the main plot! Adding new powers/characters/locations that are rarely, if ever, seen again? Why, you've just written a season of Ninjago!

  31. What annoys me the most, is the amount of people who cannot understand the difference between FILLER and DOWNTIME
    FILLER is stuff thats there to extend the runtime
    DOWNTIME is stuff where no big action or development happens, and instead we focus on people being people, the development of small stuff, unwinding, dealing with the aftermath of other events, delving into the personal stuff that characters have beyond the direction of the main plot


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