There are a number of vanilla films, books and TV shows that have included science-fiction or fantasy content in sequels.

  • The Oscar™-nominated Weekend at Bernie's had zero fantasy content. The sequel revolved around Bernie being reanimated with voodoo magic (with predictably hilarious results).

  • The earliest Tarzan novels contain zero fantasy or sci-fi content. Later novels had him shrinking to the size of a pea, fighting ant-men in a volcano and battling medieval knights at the centre of the Earth.

  • The first four seasons of the TV show Felicity have zero fantasy content. The last few episodes of the fourth season revolve around an extensive magical time-travel plot.

  • The first Season of Baywatch Nights was a run-of-the-mill detective show with zero sci-fi content. The second season was retooled as an inexplicable ripoff of The X-Files, complete with mermaids, alien viruses and vampires.

If a sequel contains extensive SFF content and is evidently set in the same universe as the original film/books/TV show, does that make the original property on-topic as well?

  • Inspired by @CreationEdge's answer here; scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/a/9869/20774
    – Valorum
    Jun 22, 2016 at 14:11
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  • If it's set in an on-topic universe, it's on-topic. <--- does that answer the question?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Jun 22, 2016 at 14:20
  • @Randal'Thor - Not really, no. The question is whether you can make an earlier show on topic by giving it a wacky sequel. Baywatch Nights is a perfect example. The first season was wholly off-topic. The second season (after the show got retooled) was wholly on-topic but they're both set in the same universe that was then revealed to contain monsters, despite there being zero evidence of them in the first season.
    – Valorum
    Jun 22, 2016 at 14:23
  • These types of questions are what i asked this meta question for: Do current users want the ability to re-visit older site policies?
    – Himarm
    Jun 22, 2016 at 14:27
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    You could actually add Parks & Recreation to this list, due to the final season's intentionally Sci-Fi elements.
    – user31178
    Jun 22, 2016 at 14:27
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    A good guideline would be "why would someone come to SF/F.SE to ask about a non-SFnal element in Baywatch Nights?". Is there reason for an observer to assume that people here would know the answers? If not, it might indicate off-topicness. Jun 22, 2016 at 16:28
  • @AvnerShahar-Kashtan - People come here to ask all sorts of odd questions :-)
    – Valorum
    Jun 22, 2016 at 17:06
  • @AvnerShahar-Kashtan maybe not baywatch nights, but tarzan readers could come here and Some of the works are "off topic" while some are "ontopic" and we most likely do have people that have read both sides of the tarzan novels.
    – Himarm
    Jun 22, 2016 at 18:03
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    I think the idea of a human being raised by animals is fantasy, and talking to apes in "ape language" is fantasy.
    – user14111
    Jun 22, 2016 at 22:21
  • @user14111 - I guess we should be glad that talking was all that he was doing with them; scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/132558/…
    – Valorum
    Jun 22, 2016 at 22:22
  • @user14111 Not that it matters too much to the general question, but I thought of Tarzan as "soft" science fiction about the feral state of humanity.
    – Paul
    Jun 24, 2016 at 13:53

3 Answers 3


Maybe, but probably not

I believe some of the possible scenarios can fall under this existing discussion, which references two relevant clauses (assuming none of the previous rules in that answer firmly place the question on-topic):

  1. If you're not sure it's SF but you think a good case can be made for it, it's on-topic.

  2. If there is a minor supernatural element (e.g. a fortune teller's prediction comes true, or someone sees a ghost, or a story for children involving anthropomorphic animals) but it's just a throwaway plot element that's not particularly relevant to the question, it's off-topic.

For example:

  • The earliest Tarzan novels contain zero fantasy or sci-fi content. Latter novels had him shrinking to the size of a pea, fighting ant-men in a volcano and battling Medieval knights at the centre of the Earth.

Granted, it has been a very long time since I read the originals, but I recall Tarzan being able to communicate with animals far beyond what is considered normal, even among naturalists who have been accepted into wild animal groups, developing a sense of smell far superior to any other human, and being so strong one could argue some of the feats he performed were borderline "supernatural". I think those characteristics fall under rule #5, being a good case for it being SF, even if we're not sure.

However, more in line with the gist of this question, the hollow-earth plotlines and other supernatural elements sound like they form more of a background universe within which Tarzan takes place. If that is an accurate description, then I'd say yes, later stories tip the balance from "not sure if it's SF" to "yes, the universe is SF".

  • The first four seasons of the TV show Felicity have zero fantasy content. The last few episodes of the fourth season revolve around an extensive magical time-travel plot.

Again, I've never seen this, but it sounds like this falls under rule #6: if the question is directly related to the time travel, then it is on-topic; otherwise, the time travel becomes just a throwaway plot element that's not particularly relevant to the question.

As for the other two... I'd say no, later episodes don't automatically retcon something that is unambiguously non-SF into an on-topic franchise. Questions about the earlier, non-SF portions of the franchise would have to directly relate to a later SF element in order to be on topic.

Seasons two and on (did they make more than 2 seasons?) of Baywatch Nights are on topic; Season one is not, unless it somehow directly ties in with a fantastical element of Season two (e.g. "we found out that lifeguard Janice was secretly a were-chicken in episode 5 of season 2; is there any indication from earlier episodes that might have been hints at her condition?" might be on-topic).



I don't think we need a specific policy about "questions about works whose sequels are SFnal" that isn't already covered by Are works that aren't SF per se, but have occasional SFnal elements on-topic? (e.g. spy movies).

  • Works with minor SFnal sequels (Parks & Recreation, Felicity) would clearly fall under that policy.
  • Movie sequels like Weekend at Bernie's would be relevant only if they relate to an SFnal element - it would be OK to ask a question about an element of the first movie if it relates to a relevant SFnal element in the on-topic second movie.
  • In-between cases like Tarzan should be evaluated as they come. How many of those are there, really? Ones that actually have questions asked? Let's not start deciding policy for hypotheticals.
  • These are more than occasional SF elements though. In the case of Baywatch Nights and Weekend at Bernie's, approximately 50% of the properties are SFF
    – Valorum
    Jun 22, 2016 at 20:42
  • @Valorum I don't think numbers are relevant here. Different movies and different seasons of a show are very distinct separators. Jun 22, 2016 at 20:44
  • In the case of Felicity, the time travel elements were brought in mid-season (admittedly only after the show was unexpectedly extended for an additional 5 episodes).
    – Valorum
    Jun 22, 2016 at 20:46
  • That only stresses the fact that it falls under the existing policy. Jun 22, 2016 at 20:46
  • +2/-2? This is no way to find consensus, people! :) If anyone has any alternate suggestion, speak up! Jun 23, 2016 at 14:02

I don’t think questions should automatically be on-topic just because they’re about a work that has a sequel with sci-fi elements.

For me, only questions are on- or off-topic. If a question is about a work that’s considered sci-fi/fantasy, but the question isn’t particularly related to sci-fi/fantasy (e.g. why did Captain Picard get annoyed at Wesley?), then sure, that’s related enough to sci-fi/fantasy to be on-topic.

I’m guessing the first season of Baywatch Nights, for example, isn’t considered sci-fi/fantasy, so questions about it would be unlikely to have any relation to sci-fi/fantasy. However, if someone asked “Why did Hasselhoff do this in Baywatch Nights season 1, given that vampires live in the city as seen in season 2”, that sounds on-topic, and awesome.

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    Nothing about Baywatch Nights is awesome. Nothing. It's an abomination.
    – Valorum
    Jun 29, 2016 at 10:49

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