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There's such a meme of 'Next Time on Dragon Ball Z' (see here):

In the anime Dragon Ball Z, the narrator poses a few questions at the end of each episode that alerts viewers as to what plot points will be addressed in the next episode.

The narrator would then say, 'next time on Dragon Ball Z'. For a video example, see here, or here.

Can I say 'next time in Dragon Ball Z'?
What if it is followed by an episode? Like, 'next time in Episode 5', is this natural? Or is it 'next time on Episode 5'?

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  • I keep trying out phrasings in my mind, and it feels to me like "in" and "on" are largely interchangeable for events that happen in (or on) a TV show, except that "Next time on [X]" is a set phrase and sounds very strange if you try to alter it.
    – YonKuma
    Commented Jun 27 at 12:43
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    Personally, I would say "in Episode 5" and I associate "on" in this context with American TV shows. Commented Jun 27 at 12:53
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    "on" heads a phrase that refers to the TV series and the object of the preposition there is the name of the series. "Next time on BBQ Pitmasters" or "Next time on Rehab Addict" is what the announcer says right before the TV audience will be shown a "teaser" for the next episode.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 27 at 13:10
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    on a show but in an episode.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 27 at 13:31
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    @Lambie This seems more right to me and I retract my previous comment.
    – YonKuma
    Commented Jun 27 at 13:39

2 Answers 2

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You could say "next time on Dragon Ball Z" but that's elliptical, referring obliquely, and rather casually, to the next episode that has not aired yet. It couldn't be used to refer to the subsequent episode retrospectively, after it had aired. For example, this would not be idiomatic:

I have been watching the series for about a month. In the first episode, the crew are stranded in the northwest passage when the sea freezes up, and next time on the show they are attacked by some kind of demonic animal. unidiomatic

With regard to your question about "next time in episode 5": since "next time on Dragon Ball Z" refers to the next episode, "next time in episode 5" is rather like saying "in the next episode [of Dragon Ball Z] in episode 5". But the two prepositional phrases refer to the same thing, so you'd want to write "next time, in episode 5" and when saying that aloud there would be a pause at the comma, to indicate that the two prepositional phrases are standing in apposition.

Again, "next time on {series name}" in this TV series/TV episode context, can only be used when referring to the upcoming episode, the one that has not been aired yet.

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  • I think this is completely fanciful. Apart from your good self, I find it hard to believe anyone would specifically say last week in Family Guy and next week on Family Guy, rather than the opposite way round. Both "container" and "surface" metaphoric usages are common in such contexts, with no significant US/UK usage split. It's just that in is more common. Commented Jun 27 at 13:10
  • @FumbleFingers I don't know what you're going on about. Did I say that someone said "last week in Family Guy" anywhere in my answer or anything like it? No, I didn't. Focus, dude. "Next week on {TV series name}" is heard very often on American TV as a segue to a "teaser" for the upcoming episode. There's nothing fanciful about it.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 27 at 13:16
  • You wrote It couldn't be used to refer to the subsequent episode retrospectively, after it had aired. What's that supposed to imply, if not a difference between before and after an episode has aired? Commented Jun 27 at 13:27
  • "next time" cannot be used to refer to a subsequent episode after it had aired. I added an example to the answer to show what I mean. "next time" is not synonymous with "in the next episode" under all circumstances. It is prospective in real time.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 27 at 13:28
  • In that case I just don't understand your answer, so I don't see how learners will make sense of it. The bottom line, like i said, is that both prepositions are commonly used in the context of next week in / on [TV Series Name / Episode Number]. It's just that on is more common with Series Name, and in is more common with Episode Number. Commented Jun 27 at 13:35
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I can say with confidence that "we use on with 'shows.'" We say that an actor "went on the Tonight Show to promote their movie." What counts as a show? TV shows, radio shows, podcasts... I think what counts is that it's something with "episodes" or something resembling them. Regular, self-contained installments.

Now, how did this come to be? I have no idea, but will speculate that it came along with radio (and later TV) broadcasting as we talk about "on the air."

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