Floating Timelines Are A Critical Element Of?
Answer: TV Shows
The Simpsons, that iconic animated series set in Springfield, Somewhere, debuted way back in 1989. When the series started, Lisa Simpson, the middle child of the Simpson family, was aged seven years. Along the way she celebrated an eighth birthday and has remained eight ever since. Decades on, Lisa, outside of flashbacks and flashforwards, has perpetually remained an early elementary school student.
That kind of permanent youthfulness in the face of a long running real world timeline is an example of a technique used in fiction known as a “floating timeline”. While the rest of us age (including the actors that play and voice the characters we love), the characters themselves remain floating in time. TV shows, comics, and movies might include references to real world events, the seasons might change, the characters might have occasional flashforward moments to see how they might look when older, but the timeline of the story never truly moves forward.
Although we don’t often think about it directly, we should be thankful for the convention. Without it our favorite golden age characters would be long dead (Bruce Wayne would have reached retirement age back in the 1980s and would be over 100 years old now) and little Lisa Simpson would be in her 20s now.
Image courtesy of Fox.