Continuity Isn't A Concern For Bob's Burgers' Creator Loren Bouchard

When it comes to narrative continuity, animated television is in a realm of all its own. Time moves differently in animated sitcoms — if it does move at all — but once a show like "Bob's Burgers" or "The Simpsons" starts racking up seasons in the double digits, the concept of time is pretty much a non-entity. Still, that doesn't stop fans from wondering how things work. Are the characters of "Bob's Burgers" trapped in a time loop? Are they immortal? And what about its recently released film? Is "The Bob's Burgers Movie" a prequel? Is it meant to fit into the series continuity at all? Is it even canon?!

The answer, according to series creator Loren Bouchard, is probably a bit more complicated than anyone might have thought — but, just like the series, it's still fun to think about.

As long as it feels right...

Bouchard spoke to Gizmodo all about "The Bob's Burgers Movie," and naturally, the conversation eventually turned to the issue of continuity. The film debuted on the tail end of the series' 12th season, and many wondered whether the events of the former would have any bearing on later episodes. "I like this question," Bouchard admitted, "Because it's, you know, it's not any kind of linear timeline that we can understand using our own lives."

Bouchard went on to describe each season as "sort of a circular space where this family seems to be going through, roughly, a year over and over again with different permutations." So, kind of a time loop, but also ... not really. Things don't exactly reset at the beginning of a new season, otherwise the Belcher family — and by extension, the audience — would be forced to relive the same situations and learn the same lessons over and over:

"But we have made a deal with the fans, I think, that as long as it feels right, that as long as there's this sort of — it's not narrative growth over time, but it's kind of these layers that build up this depth."

The chaos of continuity

While it's clear that narrative is very much a loose concept in the world of the series, Bouchard is keenly aware of the sort of subconscious effect that "The Bob's Burgers Movie" will have moving forward. "We are just now starting to think about these episodes that are going to air after the movie," the showrunner explained. "They're going to air in the shadow of this event [that happens in the movie]" ... but will they actually follow that event chronologically?

According to Bouchard, the events of the film "also kind of happened before" the events of the series. "I mean, in a way, the movie happened before the first episode. So this is a weird game to play, but it's fun."

Fun for Bouchard, maybe — but I've gotta confess that I feel a bit more confused than I did before. To make things even more confusing, the "Bob's Burgers" season 13 opening credits included a reference to the major event of the movie, which theoretically could have taken place before the show's first episode. This is probably why so few writers actually get into the nitty gritty questions of continuity. That said, it's kind of amazing knowing that Bouchard's actually thought about it to some extent. If his goal was to kill the curiosity surrounding the narrative, he's succeeded.