There’s something I’ve noticed regarding most lost episode stories. No, it’s not that most of them suck (well, most of them do, and I have noticed that) or are, for the most part, cliché ridden gorefests (though, again, most of them are like that and I’ve noticed that too). No, it’s that, for the most part, most of these stories don’t really fit in with their shows.
Let me explain a bit: Let’s say a show has story arcs and such, and most episodes lend themselves to said arc. A lost episode story for this show wouldn’t really tie into any story arc, and just go straight for blood, gore, static, and/or “hyper-realism” (notice the quotes around “hyper-realism.” That’s because a show or two-dimensional image can’t be “hyper-realistic.” Hyper-realism is more for sculptures and such. Also, if you write lost episode stories that use that phrase, please, take a look in the mirror and re-evaluate your life). They really don’t fit into the show’s established universe.
Let me give you an example. There’s a story based around a supposed lost episode of the 90’s Spider-Man animated series. Now, for those who don’t know, from season two until the end, the show relied heavily on season long story arcs. However, the lost episode didn’t fit into any story arc. It just brought in Venom, and then he killed a bunch of people and came into the real world. Admittedly, this is one of the worse lost episode stories, but my point still stands.
I understand why these stories try to be all gory and such, in a way. The idea of the lost episode is to take a show, usually a children’s show or show that isn’t meant to be scary (I truly doubt a Walking Dead lost episode story exists), and then corrupt its innocence or light hearted tone, mainly through more adult themes and imagery. It’s not an awful idea and, if done right, can be pretty good. However, most people feel like that means, “Add a bunch of blood and gore. Maybe some static and crappy audio too. That stuff’s spooky.”
In a way, this mindset makes most lost episodes interchangeable. Most lost episode stories are “dumbass finds a video tape with some lost episode (by the way, I have to ask: who, in this day and age, owns a fucking VCR? Add some realism. Have them find a DVD or Blu-Ray or something), dumbass proceeds to watch it, dumbass finds some dumbass reason to get watching despite being incredibly scared, dumbass ends up mentally scarred.” Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s an overdone formula, if you ask me. Listen, when “Squidward’s Suicide” or “Dead Bart” originally did it, it was a novel idea, and its novelty helped make it a bit creepy at the time. However, so many people have reused this formula for almost every TV show under the sun, and especially for SpongeBob. Hell, there are god knows how many lost episode stories with the words "suicide” or “dead” in the title.
Also, remember what I said about interchangeability? Well, there’s a story called “Pythor’s Suicide” that’s an almost exact word for word rip-off of “Squidward’s Suicide.” In fact, the writer obviously copied “Squidward’s Suicide” and just changed some words, because the word “Squidward” is still in “Pythor’s Suicide,” despite having nothing to do with Squidward. And the thing is, “Pythor’s Suicide,” despite being a lazy piece of plagiarized shit, still sort of works as a story. Despite changing names, characters, and shows, as a story, it makes sense.
See, “Squidward’s Suicide” and “Dead Bart” got incredibly popular, and people thought, “Hey, if I follow the formulas of these well-known stories, then my lazy rip-off will also become well-known!” These people, unfortunately, didn’t realize that the only reason those two stories became popular was because, at the time, they were original. A lazy rip-off won’t become popular because it’s no longer original. Yet most Creepypasta sites are flooded with lazy rip-offs of those two stories because people have not yet seemed to realize this.
And the funniest thing is, “Squidward’s Suicide” and “Dead Bart” haven’t really aged all that well. Go on, reread those two stories. Ignore the pictures, just read the stories. Now, tell me, honestly, are those still scary, or just incredibly cliché? I think we all know the answer.
Now, I’m not going to say every single lost episode story ever is shit, since that’s not quite true. However, the stories that don’t suck follow a somewhat different formula than the two stories I keep mentioning.
“1999” and “Where Bad Kids Go” are pretty good (despite being incredibly similar to each other) because it isn’t a lost episode of some well known TV series; it’s some fucked up show from someone with a seriously hatred of children. These stories don’t exactly engage in a bunch of clichés, and as such kind of work.
“Lost Episodes,” despite its flaws (that ending though), has an interesting enough premise. It details who actually made these lost episodes, and tried crafting a story around the guy who made them, not the episodes themselves. It is a flawed story, but it doesn’t suck.
“The Black Friday Incident” is a pretty good story, mainly because there’s truth to its story, and because it doesn’t exactly focus on the episode (or, in the case of the story, movie), but rather the animator making it.
Those last two stories realized that characters are more interesting than an overuse of cliché, and the first two focused on making a bit of a mystery regarding the shows.
That’s not to say these stories didn’t have their fair share of blood and gore. However, in these stories, the focus wasn’t on how bloody and gory an episode/movie was. It was on more interesting things. And, honestly, if more people realized that ripping off “Squidward’s Suicide” and being completely unoriginal doesn’t make a good lost episode story and instead tried doing something new and unique with the lost episode premise, then maybe, just maybe, the lost episode genre wouldn’t be associated with crap.