Profound changes in both marine and terrestrial biota during the end-Triassic mass extinction event and associated successive carbon cycle perturbations across the Triassic-Jurassic boundary (T-J, 201.3 Ma) have primarily been attributed to volcanic emissions from the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province and/or injection of methane. Here we present a new extended organic carbon isotope record from a cored T-J boundary succession in the Danish Basin, dated by high-resolution palynostratigraphy and supplemented by a marine faunal record. Correlated with reference C-isotope and biotic records from the UK, it provides new evidence that the major biotic changes, both on land and in the oceans, commenced prior to the most prominent negative C-isotope excursion. If massive methane release was involved, it did not trigger the end-Triassic mass extinction. Instead, this negative C-isotope excursion is contemporaneous with the onset of floral recovery on land, whereas marine ecosystems remained perturbed. The decoupling between ecosystem recovery on land and in the sea is more likely explained by long-term flood basalt volcanism releasing both SO2 and CO2 with short- and long-term effects, respectively.