Show bibles ... just aren't as important as you might think to the daily life of the [writing] staff. The truth is that once you're living inside a show, you're swimming as fast as you can from one island to the next, and there is neither the time nor the need to record decisions that have been made (these are in the scripts), or that are in the process of being made (these are in the notes taken in the room as the writers work).
Show bibles come in two forms:
- The first type are updated as a series progresses, and are expanded with information on the characters after the information has been established on screen, (with the bible then serving as a resource for the writers to keep everything consistent), and often go into extensive detail about the character's histories. The Frasier show bible, for example, was "scrupulously maintained"; anything established on air — "the name of Frasier's mother, Niles' favorite professor, Martin's favorite bar...even a list of Maris' [dozens of] food allergies" — was reflected in the bible.
- The second type are used as sales documents to "pitch" a new series to a television network or television studio and help them, as well as any new writers who might join the writing staff, understand the series. These types of bibles discuss the histories of the main characters, (as well as the fictional universe the series is set in), and include a mention of future plotlines in the form of a brief outline of each season.
Bibles produced for science fiction series go into great detail describing the capabilities and limits of technology used on the show. For example, the series bible for the 2004 version of Battlestar Galactica includes detailed explanations on how the ship itself works.
Some series are produced without the use of a bible and have the shows' writing staff serve as "walking bibles" in remembering details about the series in place of a written bible.
- "Bible" in this context is typically an abbreviation for more specific terms such as "story bible", "show bible", or similar.