Unsuspected Shared History
When the Hero realizes the Villain has a connection to his Dark And Troubled Past


(permanent link) added: 2011-10-06 22:46:37 sponsor: Eddy1215 (last reply: 2011-10-20 20:00:51)

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The Hero has finally come face to face with the Big Bad. During the confrontation, the villain lets out an Evil Laugh. But, wait, what's this? It has a shocking effect on the hero. He recognizes that laugh. It was the same laugh he heard as a child when his family perished in a fire at their home. The hero now knows the truth. This villain was the one responsible for that fire! Now It's Personal.

When the hero or some other protagonist has a Dark and Troubled Past, they'll always remember one little thing about that incident that gives them nightmares. When they come face to face with the villain, that little something will come up, and the hero will make the connection between the villain and their traumatic past. It can be anything from a laugh, a phrase, a symbol, even the villain's voice if it haunts the hero's dreams enough.

Contrast with But for Me, It Was Tuesday when the hero doesn't recognize the villain from his past.


Examples:

Film:
  • In Batman, Bruce recognizes the Joker as the killer of his parents when he says "Did you ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?" which is the same thing the killer said to him as a child.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, what Eddie Valiant remembers about the toon who killed his brother were his burning red eyes and high squeaky voice. When Judge Doom's identity was revealed, he discarded fake human eyes, his real eyes being the same ones that Eddie recognized as belonging to his brother's killer. Oh, and the fact that he started talking in a high squeaky voice helped too.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: Po is battling the villain's henchmen and is gaining the upper hand until he glances at their insignia, which starts his massive Heroic Blue Screen of Death for the rest of the film and eventually realizes that he became an orphan because the villain destroyed his hometown.
  • This was done in Kung Pow!: Enter the Fist between the Chosen One and Betty.

Literature:
  • For the first eleven years of Harry Potter's life, he had dreams of a green light, which he eventually discovered was the Killing Curse. Following Hagrid's revelation, he realized there was also a cold, high-pitched laughter in his memory as well.

Live-Action TV:
  • In The Shadow Line, when Jonah Gabriel meets Gatehouse for the first time, he flashes back to the shooting that gave him his Laser Guided Amnesia as he realizes Gatehouse was the shooter.

Western Animation:
  • Played with in The Penguins of Madagascar. After being attacked by an unknown assailant, Skipper hears clapping coming from somewhere and says "I know that icy cold clapping", right before having flashbacks of the Copenhagen Incident involving Hans the Puffin.
  • During a case, Kylie is haunted by the rehearing the phrase "Come out and play, Child", leading her on a search where she discovers her history with the Grundel.
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