Don't Look Back


(permanent link) added: 2010-08-31 15:35:23 sponsor: Xzenu (last reply: 2010-08-31 15:35:23)

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To sometimes turn around and see what's behind us is one of the most natural instincts in the world. And it goes for what you literally have behind you as well as what you have behind you in a more metaphorical sense. But sometimes, you just mustn't.

For this trope to come into effect, turning back must be forbidden and/or have very bad consequences.

In drama, this is primarily a symbolic metaphor involving issues of trust and angst. However, it can also be a matter of You Do NOT Want To Know.

To avoid the whole What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic? debate, purely practical examples (such as being chased my a Medusa) is not excluded from this trope. This extends to video games that use it as a particularly brutal way of enforcing Ratchet Scrolling: Turning back kills you instantly.

Can lead to Curiosity Killed the Cast. Has nothing to do with Don't Look Down: "Back" is where you are coming from, not merely a direction opposite to where your head is facing.


Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • Bleach anime episode 168. While Division 3 is fleeing a Restrictive Current in the Precipice World, Lieutenant Izuru Kira tells his men "Don't look back". He doesn't want them to be distracted by the pursuing threat.
  • At the end of Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki, Chihiro is forbidden to look back as she is journeying out of the spirit world.

Comic Books
  • Invoked in Judge Dredd, during the "Apocalypse War" Story Arc, Mega-City One is ravaged by the Soviet city-state East-Meg One to the point where a massive throng of civilians (in the comic, said to be "an estimated 27 million people") are at one point seen making an exodus. One child being carried by his father looks back and says, "Bye-bye city," while his father responds, "Don't Look Back, boy! You might catch something!" Later, the freak weather conditions caused by the destruction of Weather Control creates hurricane conditions, which sweeps up the escaping refugees and "unceremoniously deposits them back in the city from which they fled."
  • In I Can't Believe it's not the Justice League, the Superbuddies are in Hell and meet their long-deceased friend and teammate Ice. Eventually it comes to pass that the group is simply allowed to leave, and they can even take Ice with them - as long as none of them look back to make sure she's still there. Ice was Fire's best friend and the only person Guy Gardner ever truly loved - it was torture to not look. Ice says something just as they reach the end of the tunnel, and the two instinctively look back, causing her to disappear.

Literature
  • In the ancient Greek tragedy Orpheus and Euredike, Orpheus gets to ressurect his wife from the dead. But only if he lead her all the way back from the underworld without even once turning around to verify that the undead thing walking behind him is really her. He fails, and lose her forever. Some modern versions squeezes in a happy ending afterwards, Completely Missing the Point.
  • In The Bible story of Sodom and Gommorrah, Lot and his family live in a city full of siner. God allows them to escape while He destroys the city. However, they are told not to turn back. Lot's wife, however, does it anyway, and she is then turned into salt.
Music
  • Boston also has a song called "Don't Look Back". It's decidedly far more upbeat than most of these examples, and uses the phrase to emphasize the message of optimism and living without regrets.
  • Don Henly, "Boys of Summer"
a voice inside my head said don't look back
you can never look back
I thought I knew what love was
what did I know
those days are gone for ever
I should just let them go and...

Mythology

Real Life

Tabletop Games
  • Invoked (as the main back-cover slogan) in White Wolf's Orpheus, a game published between the first and second World of Darkness. [Note: anyone know if the concept was also used in the actual game? I haven't played it, only read the cover and skimmed a bit in the books.]

Urban Legend
  • The Boyfriend's Death. When the girl is told to get out of the car by the police they tell her to not look back. She does, and sees either (a) the body of her boyfriend hanging down from a tree limb and scraping the roof with its fingers or (b) the madman who killed her boyfriend sitting on top of the roof and tapping it with her boyfriend's head.

Video Games
  • In Doodle Jump, the platforms stop existing as soon as they fall out of view. Thus, if you try to jump down to get a power-up you missed then there is nothing to land on - you will fall to your death.
  • The game Don't Look Back (Let's Played by Deceased Crab here) is a retelling of the Orpheus myth and, in the return trip, has that as a gameplay mechanic: facing the wrong way will cause Eurydice to dissolve and necessitate the player to replay that screen from the beginning.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons: when Homer became head of Sanitation and ruined the environment, after the town packs up an moves away we see a Crying Indian. Another Native American then comes up to the one who cried at the single piece of litter and says "Do yourself a favor. Don't turn around." The camera pans out over the landfill where Springfield used to be, to the sound of screaming, followed by "I told you not to turn around."
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