Created By: Kellor on May 9, 2012 Last Edited By: notShemp on March 29, 2016
Troped

Forgotten Framing Device

A framing device opens the story, but is never referred to again.

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Trope
The story in introduced via some kind of Framing Device, but when the story is over, the credits roll and the framing device isn't there to close things.

Related to the Tethercat Principle, as it makes it seem like the framing device is forever stuck telling the story. Compare Schrödinger's Butterfly.


Examples

Film - Animated
  • In Disney's Aladdin, the story opens with a merchant telling the viewer the story of the lamp. The movie ends with the Genie shouting "Made you look!" to the audience and the credits roll. The merchant eventually does show up again, however- at the end of the second direct-to-video movie.
  • In Dino Time, the main character breaks the fourth wall when providing narration at the beginning of the movie, but after the third time, about 20 minutes in, he never does it again.
  • Pokémon movies tend to start with narration, but unlike episodes of the show, the narrator doesn't come back at the end.

Film - Live-Action
  • Big Trouble in Little China starts with one of its characters being interrogated by the police. He begins telling his story, which kicks off the action, but there's nothing at the end to explain how the cops got involved or why the character was detained for questioning. This scene came about from Executive Meddling and was not something originally in the script or first cuts of the film, but added later.
  • In The Quest, the film starts with one framing device and ends with a completely different one. In the opening, the older main character reminisciences about the tournament he took part in, and in the ending, the closing of the story is presented literally with a book being closed.
  • The Saragossa Manuscript ends without returning to the primary level of the Nested Story, the one where the two opposing soldiers discovered and read the manuscript during a battle.
  • In Singin' in the Rain the movie-within-a-movie The Dancing Cavalier is supposed to be a giant Dream Sequence for an ordinary Broadway dancer who got hit with a sandbag backstage. And yet we are explicitly shown the end of the movie as still being inside the world of the dream sequence. Didn't the guy ever wake up?

Literature
  • The opening of The Borrowers has a child being told about the Borrowers by another woman, leading into the plot. This is forgotten about at the end of the novel and subsequent releases.
  • William Hope Hodgson's novel The Night Land. The book starts with a 17th century gentleman mourning the death of his beloved in childbirth. He has a vision of a distant future where their souls will be reunited, and sees that world through the eyes of his future incarnation. The end of the novel doesn't mention anything about this.
  • The Worm Oroborus begins with a man from Earth who dreams his way to Mercury, where the bulk of the novel takes place. No sooner does this dream-traveler get a peek at the royal court of Demonland than the author forgets all about him, focusing on the adventures and intrigues of its nobles.
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is narrated in the first person by the protagonist. To start with there are several references to the fact that she's keeping a journal, such as one section ending with her saying that she has to stop writing now because she has a visitor. These fade out about halfway through, and by the end she's narrating events as they happen. (Events which clearly do not involve her stopping to write anything down.)

Live-Action TV
  • The pilot episode of Dad's Army started in the 1960s with Captain Mainwaring adressing a Rotary Club dinner and reminiscing about his time in the Home Guard, before flashing back to the story of the founding of the platoon. This was never referred to again in the remainder of the series.
  • Quantum Leap spent its entire run utilizing a Narrating the Present framing device, as if we're seeing Sam Beckett's memoirs acted out. But in the final episode it's revealed that he "never returned home." So how did he narrate all that time?

Theatre
  • Any Number Can Die opens with a young couple visiting the now abandoned house years after the story's events. The man begins talking about the murders that took place leading to the main story... and that's it. The scene is less than two minutes long, adds nothing to the story, and is never returned to.
  • The Phantom Ofthe Opera opens with an elderly Raoul attending an auction of the opera house's items which segues into main story when they show the chandelier. Raoul's lines imply that Christine has died but the play ends with her still alive and never returns to the framing story. (the film version does but it's a silent scene adding no new elements)
  • The Taming of the Shrew. Christopher Sly, a drunk, is found passed out on the street by a Lord who decides to play an Elaborate Ruse on Sly, making Sly think he's a Lord who has only been dreaming that he's a drunkard. The Lord's attendants go along with the gag. The majority of Shrew is a play put on for Lord!Sly by a group of players. After a couple of interludes showing Sly's reactions to the play, it's dropped.

Video Games
  • Brütal Legend opens with Jack Black leading the viewer into a record shop and showing him the Brutal Legend record, which turns into game menu. You can beat the game, but you'll never see that record shop again.

Web Video

Western Animation
  • Family Guy: "Viewer Mail #2" starts with Brian and Stewie out of character talking to the camera about the mail they've received, and the first short shown is in response to a letter asking about the origin of the show. The framing device is dropped after that, showing two other unrelated shorts. This is in contrast to "Viewer Mail #1" where Brian & Stewie introduce each short, saying they were based on viewer suggestions.
  • In The Simpsons:
    • The first four Treehouse of Horror episodes utilize a Framing Device, but only the third (The Simpsons throwing a Halloween party) and fourth (Bart hosting a Night Gallery) episodes end without concluding their own frame stories.
    • In season 17, "The Wettest Stories Ever Told", while the Simpsons are waiting for their meals at the Frying Dutchman, a seafood restaurant, Marge, Bart, and Homer each tell a story with a nautical theme. The episode ends at the end of Homer's story and we don't see the Simpsons at the conclusion of the story.
Kind of one and half examples at this point. Any others?
Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • May 9, 2012
    arromdee
    Do the diary entries at the beginning of the Vampire Diaries TV series count?
  • May 9, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Zeroth Law: The Taming Of The Shrew. Christopher Sly, a drunk, is found passed out on the street by a Lord who decides to play an Elaborate Ruse on Sly, making Sly think he's a Lord who has only been dreaming that he's a drunkard. The Lord's attendants go along with the gag. The majority of Shrew is a play put on for Lord!Sly by a group of players. After a couple of interludes showing Sly's reactions to the play, it's dropped.
  • May 9, 2012
    robinjohnson
  • May 9, 2012
    StevenT
    • Pokemon movies tend to start with narration, but unlike episodes of the show, the narrator doesn't come back at the end.
  • May 9, 2012
    peccantis
    ^^ IMO Forgotten Framing Device is clear enough.
  • May 9, 2012
    SharleeD
    • The Worm Oroborus begins with a man from Earth who dreams his way to Mercury, where the bulk of the novel takes place. No sooner does this dream-traveler get a peek at the royal court of Demonland than the author forgets all about him, focusing on the adventures and intrigues of its nobles.

    • Big Trouble In Little China starts with one of its characters being interrogated by the police. He begins telling his story, which kicks off the action, but there's nothing at the end to explain how the cops got involved or why the character was detained for questioning.
  • May 10, 2012
    Arivne
    Literature
    • William Hope Hodgson's novel The Night Land. The book starts with a 17th century gentleman mourning the death of his beloved in childbirth. He has a vision of a distant future where their souls will be reunited, and sees that world through the eyes of his future incarnation. The end of the novel doesn't mention anything about this.
  • May 10, 2012
    NateTheGreat
    Does the usage of "Chapter One" in the new Winnie the Pooh movie without any mention of further chapters count? That still irks me...
  • May 10, 2012
    Gabel
    Regarding Big Trouble In Little China: This scene came about from Executive Meddling and was not something originally in the script or first cuts of the film, but added later.
  • May 10, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    Also, it is explained. Ummm the police reportedly saw green fire?
  • June 17, 2013
    StevenT
    In Dino Time, the main character breaks the fourth wall when providing narration at the beginning of the movie, but after the third time, about 20 minutes in, he never does it again.
  • June 17, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^ Still a case where the Framing Device wasn't picked up at the end.
  • June 18, 2013
    NESBoy
    The first four Treehouse Of Horror episodes utilize a Framing Device, but only the third (The Simpsons throwing a Halloween party) and fourth (Bart hosting a Night Gallery) episodes end without concluding their own frame stories.
  • June 18, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    In Singin In The Rain the movie-within-a-movie The Dancing Cavalier is supposed to be a giant Dream Sequence for an ordinary Broadway dancer who got hit with a sandbag backstage. And yet we are explicitly shown the end of the movie as still being inside the world of the dream sequence. Didn't the guy ever wake up?
  • June 18, 2013
    CaptainPeregrin
    For Winnie The Pooh, they do still treat the story like it's in a book throughout the movie, so I wouldn't say it was forgotten, even if they never mention chapter numbers again.
  • June 18, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Quantum Leap spent its entire run utilizing a Narrating The Present framing device, as if we're seeing Sam Beckett's memoirs acted out. But in the final episode it's revealed that he "never returned home." So how did he narrate all that time?
  • January 18, 2014
    GuyWeknow
    Again, this is probably related to Shakespeare, in which the framing story of "Christopher Sly" in Taming of the Shrew is introduced and then never heard from again.
  • January 18, 2014
    notShemp
    • In The Simpsons, season 17, "The Wettest Stories Ever Told", while the Simpsons are waiting for their meals at the Frying Dutchman, a seafood restaurant, Marge, Bart, and Homer each tell a story with a nautical theme. The episode ends at the end of Homer's story and we don't see the Simpsons at the conclusion of the story.
  • January 18, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Family Guy: "Viewer Mail #2" starts with Brian and Stewie out of character talking to the camera about the mail they've received, and the first short shown is in repsonse to a letter asking about the origin of the show. The framing device is dropped after that, showing two other unrelated shorts. This is in contrast to "Viewer Mail #1" where Brian & Stewie introduce each short, saying they were based on viewer suggestions.
  • January 18, 2014
    erforce
    • In The Quest, the film starts with one framing device and ends with a completely different one. In the opening, the older main character reminisciences about the tournament he took part in, and in the ending, the closing of the story is presented literally with a book being closed.
  • January 19, 2014
    MetaFour
    Regarding Disney's Aladdin, I heard that the original plan for the ending was to reveal that the merchant was the Genie in disguise.

    And I thought the opening scene of Big Trouble in Little China was Egg Shen talking to his lawyer, not to the police. (Obviously, implying that he could be in legal trouble...)
  • May 28, 2015
    Tuckerscreator
    Looks like this one needs adopting.
  • July 28, 2015
    notShemp
    Bump
  • July 28, 2015
    MetaFour
  • July 28, 2015
    foxley
    The pilot episode of Dads Army started in the 1960s with Captain Mainwaring adressing a Rotary Club dinner and reminiscing about his time in the Home Guard, before flashing back to the story of the founding of the platoon. This was never referred to again in the remainder of the series.
  • August 8, 2015
    triassicranger
    Literature
    • The opening of The Borrowers has a child being told about the Borrowers by another woman, leading into the plot. This is forgotten about at the end of the novel and subsequent releases.
  • September 14, 2015
    Tuckerscreator
    Is this Up For Grabs?
  • September 14, 2015
    Pichu-kun
    How'd this get four hats already?
  • September 15, 2015
    Arivne
    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Added the word "Examples".
      • Added media section titles.
      • Namespaced and italicized work names.
      • Namespaced Creator names.
  • September 15, 2015
    Rjinswand
    4 hats with only 2 examples? I say thee nay!
  • November 8, 2015
    MerlinSyndrome
    Needs more attention—it's good but there aren't enough examples.
  • November 8, 2015
    Koveras
    Would this count as an inversion, or do we have another trope for that?

    • After the ending cutscene of Divinity Original Sin (the unenhanced edition), it is revealed that the game's narration was actually a story told by Zixzax to younger imps centuries after the Source Hunters' journey. This is the first time this Framing Device is brought up in any way.
  • November 9, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ that almost sounds like Proscenium Reveal or All Just A Dream
  • November 9, 2015
    NESBoy
    How about when the work begins and ends with different framing devices?

    • "Bass Masters" from The Ren And Stimpy Show starts out as a Documentary Episode featuring Ren as the host of a fishing show, frequently addressing the audience. This part of the premise eventually falls off the wayside by the time a bass named Albert challenges Ren to swap roles so that the bass would try to catch the fisherman. The episode ends with Ren biting on the hook and a Match Cut to him mounted on a wall, with Albert now an old fish concluding his tale, which he was telling to his grandson.
  • November 9, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^^^Seen that being troped as Whole Episode Flashback.
  • November 9, 2015
    DAN004
    I sense a Missing Supertrope that can be called Framing Device Error.
  • November 10, 2015
    PaulA
    • "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is narrated in the first person by the protagonist. To start with there are several references to the fact that she's keeping a journal, such as one section ending with her saying that she has to stop writing now because she has a visitor. These fade out about halfway through, and by the end she's narrating events as they happen. (Events which clearly do not involve her stopping to write anything down.)
  • December 14, 2015
    notShemp
    Bump.
  • December 15, 2015
    Hodor2
    Just a note with Taming of the Shrew- Oddly, there's this other play called Taming of a (not the) Shrew whose provenance has been debated by scholars for centuries- there's some details here and that version actually does revisit the frame story.
  • January 17, 2016
    PaulA
    I'm uneasy about The Borrowers being an example. I admit it's been ages since I read it, but I distinctly recall the frame story coming back at the end of the novel.
  • January 17, 2016
    zoop
  • February 10, 2016
    eroock
    Film:
    • The Saragossa Manuscript ends without returning to the primary level of the Nested Story, the one where the two opposing soldiers discovered and read the manuscript during a battle.
  • February 10, 2016
    Darthcaliber
    Theater:
    Phantom Of The Opera opens with an elderly Raoul attending an auction of the opera house's items which segues into main story when they show the chandelier. Raoul's lines imply that Christine has died but the play ends with her still alive and never returns to the framing story. (the film version does but it's a silent scene adding no new elements)

    Any Number Can Die opens with a young couple visiting the now abandoned house years after the story's events. The man begins talking about the murders that took place leading to the main story... and that's it. The scene is less than two minutes long, adds nothing to the story, and is never returned to.
  • March 2, 2016
    NativeJovian
    Not sure if that would be a valid example or not, but the opening sequence of the first episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann shows post-Time Skip Simon on the bridge of a starship, engaging in a Space Opera-esque fleet battle. After this one scene, the show cuts back to pre-Time Skip Simon and Kamina, presumably to set up a How We Got Here situation. However, they never actually get back to that first scene, and the way the plot develops means that it could never have actually happened. Fanon is that this scene is actually from an alternate reality, where the protagonists made different choices and headed for a Downer Ending they avoid during the series proper. Word Of God admits that they lost that particular plot thread somewhere along the line, and their reaction to the fanon explanation was basically "sure, that sounds good".
  • March 7, 2016
    Darthcaliber
    the Phantom of the Opera example should be listed under theater as it refers to the musical not the original novel.
  • March 29, 2016
    FuzzyBoots
    Looks like the Aladdin one is partially explained, The merchant and the genie are one and the same, and the ending bit showing it got cut.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=qtk4mgukuma7zlx3rcnoidiq