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Serial vs. Series: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
A serial is a story or content presented in sequential parts, while a series is a group of related works or events, not necessarily sequential.
Serial vs. Series

Key Differences

Serial refers to a format where a story or content is delivered in a sequential order, typically in installments. A series, however, is a collection of related works, events, or shows that are grouped together due to a common theme or subject, but not necessarily presented sequentially.
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Dec 01, 2023
In the context of television or literature, a serial unfolds its narrative in a sequential and episodic manner, with each part building on the previous one. A series consists of episodes or works that may share characters and settings but each installment often stands alone in its plot.
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Serials are characterized by their ongoing, continuous narrative, often with cliffhangers to maintain audience interest. In contrast, a series may have a common theme or character arc, but each episode or work can be enjoyed independently without following a strict sequence.
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The term "serial" is also used in other contexts to mean something occurring in a series, but again, with emphasis on the sequential nature. In contrast, a series can refer to things like a series of lectures or books, which are related but not necessarily dependent on each other's specific order.
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Serials demand engagement in a specific order for the full story to be understood and appreciated. However, a series offers more flexibility, allowing audiences to engage with any part of the series without needing to follow a specific order.
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Comparison Chart

Narrative Structure

Sequential, episodic
Related but independent episodes or works
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Continuity

High, each part builds on the previous
Each part can stand alone
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Audience Engagement

Requires following in order
Can engage with any part independently
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Example Contexts

TV shows, novels
TV shows, lectures, books
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Dependency

Later parts depend on earlier ones
Parts are more standalone
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Serial and Series Definitions

Serial

In publishing, a serial is a work issued in parts.
The novel was first introduced as a serial in a magazine.
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Series

A series is a set of related but independent works or events.
The lecture series covered various aspects of environmental science.
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Serial

A serial can describe a crime repeated sequentially.
The police were tracking a serial burglar.
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Series

In television, a series is a show with a common theme or characters.
The television series had different storylines in each season.
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Serial

In technology, serial communication transmits data one bit at a time.
The device used serial communication to send information.
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Series

A series can refer to a sequence of books or other works.
She read all the books in the fantasy series.
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Serial

Of, forming, or arranged in a series.
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Series

A number of objects or events arranged or coming one after the other in succession.
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Serial

Published or produced in installments, as a novel or television drama.
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Series

A set of stamps, coins, or currency issued in a particular period.
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Oct 19, 2023

Serial

Relating to such publication or production.
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Series

Physics & Chemistry A group of objects related by linearly varying successive differences in form or configuration
A radioactive decay series.
The paraffin alkane series.
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Serial

Relating to or engaging in a series of similar acts or behaviors
Serial arson.
A serial procrastinator.
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Series

(Mathematics) The sum of a sequentially ordered finite or infinite set of terms.
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Serial

(Music) Relating to or based on a row of tones, especially the 12 pitches of the chromatic scale.
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Series

(Geology) A group of rock formations closely related in time of origin and distinct as a group from other formations.
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Serial

Of or relating to the sequential transmission of all the bits of a byte over one wire
A serial port.
A serial printer.
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Series

(Grammar) A succession of coordinate elements in a sentence.
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Serial

Of or relating to the sequential performance of multiple operations
Serial processing.
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Series

A succession of publications that present an extended narrative, such as a comic book series, or that have similar subjects or similar formats, such as a series of cookbooks.
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Serial

A work of entertainment, as in film or literature, published or produced in installments that usually contain a narrative thread or overarching theme; a series.
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Series

A succession of individual programs presented as parts of a unified whole, such as the set of episodes of a television show or a podcast.
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Serial

Having to do with or arranged in a series.
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Series

(Sports) A number of games played by the same two teams, often in succession.
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Serial

(of a person) Who performs a specified action or course of action repeatedly or regularly.
The serial killer had a string of victims across seven states.
He was a serial entrepreneur, always coming up with a new way to make cash.
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Series

(Baseball) The World Series.
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Serial

Published or produced in installments.
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Series

(Linguistics) A set of vowels or diphthongs related by ablaut, as in sing, sang, sung, and song.
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Serial

(grammar) Of or relating to a grammatical aspect relating to an action that is habitual and ongoing.
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Series

A number of things that follow on one after the other or are connected one after the other.
A series of seemingly inconsequential events led cumulatively to the fall of the company.
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Serial

A work, such as a work of fiction, published in installments, often numbered and without a specified end.
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Series

(broadcasting) A television or radio program which consists of several episodes that are broadcast in regular intervals
“Friends” was one of the most successful television series in recent years.
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Serial

A publication issued in successive parts, often numbered and with no predetermined end.
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Series

(mathematics) The sequence of partial sums \sum_{i=1}^n{a_i} of a given sequence ai.
The harmonic series has been much studied.
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Serial

A serial number, esp. one required to activate software.
Go to these sites for serials, cracks and keygens.
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Series

A group of matches between two sides, with the aim being to win more matches than the opposition.
The Blue Jays are playing the Yankees in a four-game series.
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Serial

(UK) A unit of police officers equipped with shields to tackle a riot.
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Series

(zoology) An unranked taxon.
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Serial

(transitive) to assign a serial number to (especially of aircraft)
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Series

(botany) A subdivision of a genus, a taxonomic rank below that of section (and subsection) but above that of species.
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Serial

Of or pertaining to a series; consisting of a series; appearing in successive parts or numbers; as, a serial work or publication.
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Series

(commerce) A parcel of rough diamonds of assorted qualities.
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Serial

Of or pertaining to rows.
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Series

(phonology) A set of consonants that share a particular phonetic or phonological feature.
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Serial

A publication appearing in a series or succession of part; a tale, or other writing, published in successive numbers of a periodical.
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Series

(electronics) Connected one after the other in a circuit, in series.
You have to connect the lights in series for them to work properly.
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Serial

A serialized set of programs;
A comedy series
The Masterworks concert series
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Series

A number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events.
During some years his life a series of triumphs.
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Serial

A periodical that appears at scheduled times
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Series

Any comprehensive group of animals or plants including several subordinate related groups.
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Serial

In regular succession without gaps;
Serial concerts
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Series

In Engler's system of plant classification, a group of families showing certain structural or morphological relationships. It corresponds to the cohort of some writers, and to the order of many modern systematists.
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Serial

Pertaining to or composed in serial technique;
Serial music
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Series

An indefinite number of terms succeeding one another, each of which is derived from one or more of the preceding by a fixed law, called the law of the series; as, an arithmetical series; a geometrical series.
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Serial

Pertaining to or occurring in or producing a series;
Serial monogamy
Serial killing
A serial killer
Serial publication
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Series

A mode of arranging the separate parts of a circuit by connecting them successively end to end to form a single path for the current; - opposed to parallel. The parts so arranged are said to be in series.
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Serial

Of or relating to the sequential performance of multiple operations;
Serial processing
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Series

A parcel of rough diamonds of assorted qualities.
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Serial

A serial is a story or content presented in a sequence over time.
She eagerly awaited the next episode of her favorite weekly serial.
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Series

Similar things placed in order or happening one after another;
They were investigating a series of bank robberies
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Serial

Serial refers to something occurring in a series or sequence.
The detective investigated a serial offender.
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Series

A serialized set of programs;
A comedy series
The Masterworks concert series
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Series

A periodical that appears at scheduled times
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Series

(sports) several contests played successively by the same teams;
The visiting team swept the series
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Series

A group of postage stamps having a common theme or a group of coins or currency selected as a group for study or collection;
The Post Office issued a series commemorating famous American entertainers
His coin collection included the complete series of Indian-head pennies
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Series

(mathematics) the sum of a finite or infinite sequence of expressions
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Series

(electronics) connection of components in such a manner that current flows first through one and then through the other;
The voltage divider consisted of a series of fixed resistors
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Series

Series also denotes a sports competition consisting of a fixed number of matches.
The baseball series between the two teams was highly competitive.
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Series

In science, a series can refer to a group of elements with shared properties.
The periodic table groups elements into series based on their chemical properties.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Is a series always fiction?

No, series can include non-fiction like documentaries or lecture series.
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What is serial communication in technology?

Transmitting data one bit at a time in sequence.
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Can a serial be part of a series?

Yes, a serial can be a type of series with sequential episodes.
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What is a serial in TV?

A TV show where the narrative unfolds in a sequential manner across episodes.
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What does series mean in television?

A collection of episodes under a common theme or title.
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How does a series differ in books?

It’s a collection of books related by theme, characters, or world.
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What's a literary serial?

A work published in sequential installments, often in magazines.
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Are all serials narratives?

Mostly, as they often involve an ongoing story or theme.
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What makes a TV series popular?

Engaging content, character development, and thematic continuity.
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How long can a serial run?

It can run for several episodes to multiple seasons.
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What's an anthology series?

A series featuring different stories and characters in each installment.
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What is a serial killer?

A person who commits a series of murders, often with a pattern.
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Can series be remade or rebooted?

Yes, especially if they have enduring popularity.
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Can a series have standalone stories?

Yes, each installment in a series can often stand alone.
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Can series be educational?

Yes, especially lecture series or educational TV series.
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Are web series considered serials?

They can be, especially if they have a sequential narrative.
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Is serialization common in newspapers?

Yes, for both stories and comic strips.
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What’s a miniseries?

A short series with a limited number of episodes.
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Do serials require watching in order?

Typically, yes, to understand the continuous narrative.
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How do series contribute to a genre?

They often define or popularize trends within a genre.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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