->''"Why has she killed herself? The movie does not supply that sensible question with an answer, and so I will supply one: Katie Chandler killed herself so that she could be cremated and her ashes could be used as a prop in this movie."''
-->--'''Creator/RogerEbert''' on ''Stealing Home'' (1988)

A character dead from the start or killed very early is developed entirely via FlashBack. May make heavy use of PosthumousNarration. Averts WeHardlyKnewYe. VideoWills, ApocalypticLog, suicide notes, and mention by other characters on what he or she was like may help.

Expect them to appear in a HappierHomeMovie, which the protagonist will watch over and over until he realizes ItsAllJunk.

[[AfterlifeTropes The Afterlife]] may be used as a FramingDevice.

TheLostLenore is often such a character. Undead characters don't count. The effect should be that, despite a character being, you know, DEAD, they still have as large a part in what's going on as the rest of the characters, or at the very least results in the viewer getting to know the character surprisingly well.

Generally this character's demise is a PlotTriggeringDeath. Compare with DeadStarWalking and DeadAllAlong. Contrast with ForgottenFallenFriend. See also DeathByOriginStory. The PredecessorVillain is often a specific type of PosthumousCharacter. BiggerBad can be a villain version of this trope, depending on how it's used.
----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga]]
* In the anime version of ''Manga/{{Akira}}'', [[spoiler: the eponymous character himself has been dead for over three decades.]]
* Clow Reed from ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura'' (and ''TsubasaReservoirChronicle'', and the manga version of ''Manga/XxxHOLiC'') has been dead for decades before either of those series begins, and is only developed through flashbacks and what other characters say about him. He still manages to be the root of the whole plot in ''Card Captor Sakura'' and he's the ultimate source of most of the action of the other two.
* Dr. Juuzo Kabuto from ''Anime/MazingerZ'' died in the first episode/chapter. Though he is ever-present. His actions not only affected the course of the whole series but also of the sequel ''Anime/GreatMazinger'', and his name often comes up in conversations. His personality and background are developed through flashbacks and conversations from other characters, mainly his grandsons (Kouji and Shiro), his best disciple (TheProfessor Yumi) and even BigBad Dr. Hell.
* In ''ZetsuenNoTempest'', Aika Fuwa starts off the series dead. Despite this, there are many flashbacks to when she was alive, and most of the events in the series are either directly or indirectly influenced by her death.
* Gold Roger in ''OnePiece'', a legendary pirate who conqured the Grand Line and was executed by the World Government. He kickstarts the grand age of piracy where [[MacGuffinTitle the story takes place.]]
** Technically, anytime ''OnePiece'' has a flashback there will be at least one PosthumousCharacter.
** Subverted by [[spoiler:Sabo, who turns out to be alive and a member of the Revolutionaries a few arcs after the flashback he was in supposedly killed him off.]]
* Kanata Izumi in ''LuckyStar'', who is deceased before the beginning of both the manga and the anime. She occasionally comes back as a ghost, [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming checking up on how]] [[CrowningMomentOfFunny her family is doing.]]
* Cain from ''GaoGaiGar'' fame. He is long gone by the time the series start, yet he is a driving force to the whole plot. [[spoiler:Still around in some way, and manifests himself near the series' finale from the broken programming of Galeon with the help of The Power.]] He forces so much respect in the main character Guy that he even has an HeroicBSOD when [[spoiler:he thinks Cain did a FaceHeelTurn to the Sol Masters (when he's really a flawed program based on the original Cain.)]]
* Onomil in ''BlueDrop'' though she shows up as a ghost later on
* Amuria in ''{{Simoun}}'', mourned over by Neviril, which forms a major plot point.
* The death of Kaori in ''LightNovel/StrawberryPanic'' is the main reason for Shizuma's bitterness and thus a very important plot point.
* Various parents in ''FruitsBasket'', namely Tohru's parents and Akito's father. Tohru's mother Kyoko Honda made the most appearances and was mentioned most regularly.
* Saya of ''Manga/BlackCat'', at least in the manga; the anime moves the flashback arc to the beginning to put everything in order, making her just a regularly developed character who happens to die mid-way through the series. Lloyd as well, although he's mostly a plot device for [[TookALevelInBadass Sven's power]].
* Quint Nakajima of ''MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha''. Her entire character is fleshed out by stories and {{flashback}}s from her husband, her daughters, and her captain.
** Alicia Testarossa counts as well. The only times we see her alive are in a flashback and a dream sequence; most of what we know about her comes from Presea, although, since she's quite unhinged at this point, it's hard to tell how much is true.
** Linith, too. And Tiida Lanster. And Olivie Sägebrecht.
* The Fourth Hokage in ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', who dies sealing the Nine-Tailed Fox into Naruto at the start of the story. Over the course of the plot, his personality, deeds in life, [[spoiler:family, and even real name]] are revealed. This also applies to [[spoiler: his wife Kushina]], Sasuke Uchiha's parents, [[spoiler: Kakashi's childhood friends Rin and Obito Uchiha]], and [[spoiler: Yahiko and Hanzo]] from the Hidden Rain Village.
** [[spoiler:[[{{Necromancer}} Kabuto's technique]]]] gives us formerly Posthumous Characters by truckloads.
** [[spoiler: Madara Uchiha]] may be something of a '''Triple Subversion'''. First, we think he's dead. Then [[spoiler: Tobi claims to be him.]] Then we learn [[spoiler: Tobi is ''not'' Madara, the real Madara was very much dead.]] thanks to the above mentioned technique. But then [[spoiler: Tobi's ''real'' backstory implies the real Madara died a ''lot'' more recently than we previously thought. Not only that, but the newly-resurrected Madara has risen to prominence and may well end up becoming a future BigBad.]]
** Subverted by [[spoiler:Obito; He's '''[[BigBad Tobi]]''']].
* It's hinted that Satoshi from ''VisualNovel/HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi'' died before the beginning of the series, and he only appears in flashbacks. He's [[spoiler:comatose from Hinamizawa syndrome.]]
* Lena Sayers from the ''{{Mai-Otome}}'' anime. The series itself takes place fourteen years after her death, with [[spoiler:her daughter]] as the main character.
* Rem Saverem from ''{{Trigun}}''.
* ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' has two more important ones:
** Akemi Miyano was originally a RedShirt killed by TheSyndicate very early on in the story, but she was latter {{retcon}}ed into an important {{backstory}}-driving character.
** Jinpei Matsuda, OneSceneWonder StoryArc-wise, EnsembleDarkHorse series-wise.
* Koumyou Sanzo from ''{{Saiyuki}}''. He later got his own prequel series after ''Gaiden'' wrapped up.
* Takamichi's master Gateau Kagura von Vandenburg and Nagi's master Filius Zect of ''MahouSenseiNegima''. The only members of Ala Rubra confirmed to be dead. They now only live in the flashbacks of their comrades, pupils, and a certain princess that travelled with them.
** Now we have Primum, Secundum, Nii, and Septendecim. And Lifemaker, but [[AmbiguousGender (s)he]] may return.
* Son Gohan in ''Manga/DragonBall''. That's the elderly human master of martial arts who adopted Goku, not [[DeadGuyJunior Goku's son]] from Manga/DragonBall Z, mind you.
* Elsa from ''GunslingerGirl'' (manga only, the anime introduces her earlier on)
* Old Rome and Germania from ''AxisPowersHetalia''.
* [[spoiler: Hokuto Sumeragi and Setsuka Sakurazuka]] in ''{{X1999}}''.
* Mary Magdalene is an important enough character in ''ChronoCrusade'' to be mentioned in the logo of the series, but she's long been dead by the time the main part of the story starts. She's spoken of several times before the flashbacks explaining who she was are finally introduced (although her ghost shows up briefly in the end).
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''
** Ichigo's resolve comes from his mother Masaki's death which is introduced via flashback. [[spoiler:A final arc flashback that includes Uryuu's mother reveals the truth. [[TheLostLenore Masaki and Kanae's]] deaths are [[PlotTriggeringDeath connected]], also linking both sons resolve, the two families, Urahara, Aizen and Ryuuken's mysterious [[HeroicNeutral attitude]] to each other and the MythArc.]]
** Uryuu's grandfather Souken was also his Quincy mentor prior to his death. He teachings and his desire to see Quincies and Shinigami working together drives Uryuu and provide most of our information about the Quincy clan. [[spoiler:It becomes very important to remember this in the final arc.]]
** Kaien is a vital source of both angst and strength for Rukia. Flashbacks reveal much of her weakness, and later her strength, come from what he taught her and how he died. He appeared to be NotQuiteDead later in the Hueco Mundo arc, but it was only a ShapeshifterGuiltTrip. [[spoiler:His death is connected to Aizen's activities and also the MythArc as his family act as a gateway to the Royal Realm and are related to Ichigo by way of Isshin Shiba (their uncle)]].
** [[TheLostLenore Hisana]] died 50 years before the main storyline began but flashbacks reveal that she obtained a deathbed promise from her husband Byakuya to protect her abandoned sister Rukia at any cost. The Soul Society arc would never have unfolded the way it did without Byakuya's attempt to juggle two conflicting vows, one to his dead wife and the other to his dead parents.
** One character obtains CharacterDevelopment only after his death five hundred chapters after he first appears. [[spoiler:Choujirou had almost no presence in the story and only appeared in relation to his captain Yamamoto. His death reveals the truth about his relationship with Yamamoto and his death finally giving him a personality and background.]]
* Gintoki, Katsura, Sakamoto and Takasugi's sensei in ''Manga/{{Gintama}}''. [[TheFaceless His face is never shown]] in the flashbacks but is implied to be a major influence for all four of his students.
* In ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', Brigadier General Basque Grand qualifies for this.
** Also, Trisha Elric, whom we got to know rather well for someone who's been dead for years.
** Also, Scar's brother, who even plays a vital part in [[spoiler:foiling the BigBad]].
* Marianne vi Britannia in ''Anime/CodeGeass'' -- at least for R1, before it is revealed late in R2 that [[spoiler:she survived her assassination in Anya Alstreim's body, and steps onto the stage for two episodes before being KilledOffForReal]].
* Natsume's grandmother Reiko in ''NatsumeYuujinchou''. The Book of Friends (aka Yuujinchou) is among the few things Natsume inherits from his late grandmother. Once Natsume has returned the name of a youkai, a flashback is usually shown about the circumstances surrounding when Reiko first took the name.
* Ryuken, the previous Hokuto Shinken master in ''FistOfTheNorthStar'', is dead before the story begins and his appearances in the series are primarily flashbacks of Kenshiro's training days with his "brothers".
** Shin and Raoh are lesser examples. Shin is killed off in the tenth chapter, and receives some character development via flashback later on. Raoh is one in the second half of the series, where numerous major characters are connected to him.
* In ''PandoraHearts'', Jack Vessalius and Glen Baskerville have been dead for 100 years, and we have just begun to understand their stories, always through flashbacks. [[spoiler: And then Glen comes BackFromTheDead via reincarnation and Jack turns out to not be as dead as everyone thought...]]
** And there’s Lacie, the root of the story itself. But she’s never played any part of the story in the present, unlike Jack and Glen.
* ''CrossGame'' essentially runs on this trope, as one of the three central characters is dead for 49 of its 50 episodes. Despite this, [[spoiler: Wakaba]] gets just as much development as anyone else, thanks to the author's excellent talent for blending flashbacks into the narrative.
* Allen's adoptive father Mana Walker in ''DGrayMan'' has been dead for several years from the start of the series and yet in the manga while he's a major influence on Allen's choices, he turns out to be an even more major plot point [[spoiler: when he turns out to be the biological older brother of the 14th Noah.]]
* Yui Ikari and Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu from ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'', technically speaking, as they ''did'' die but are still around in a sense. [[spoiler:Being {{Kaiju}} {{Youkai}} HumongousMecha counts as being "still around", yes?]]
** Also Naoko Akagi, Ritsuko's mother. She created the Magi system and [[spoiler: killed Rei I]], but has been dead for years by the time the show begins.
* In ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'', Tomoe Yukishiro [[spoiler: Kenshin's first wife]].
* Kyouko's father in ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica''. Then ''Manga/PuellaMagiOrikoMagica'' gives us Yuma's parents and Oriko's dad.
** ''Manga/PuellaMagiKazumiMagica'' has [[spoiler: the real Yuuri Asuka.]]
* Mireille's parents have been dead for roughly a decade at the start of ''Anime/{{Noir}}'', but a flashback to Odette's last words in the penultimate episode greatly influences the end of the story.
* ''GundamSeed'': [[TheAce George Glenn]], [[MadScientist Dr. Ulen Hibiki]], and [[ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney Al Da Flaga]] are the three men most responsible for the [[PunyEarthlings Natural]] vs [[GattacaBabies Coordinator]] tensions and the [[CloningBlues creation of]] [[TheManBehindTheMan the man behind the]] [[WarForFunAndProfit Bloody Valentine War]]. All three are dead as of the start of the series (although the spinoff series ''GundamSEEDAstray'' reveals Glenn is actually still alive, albeit as a BrainInAJar).
** In ''GundamSeedDestiny'' the previous BigBad takes over this role.
* In ''Gundam00'', the mastermind of anti-war paramility group Celestial Being is a man named Aeolia Schenberg, who somehow foresaw his energy-crisis ending designs giving rise to the mobile suit approximately 200 years before the events of the series, and directed all of his remaining resources to ending military conflicts worldwide - conflicts he knew he wouldn't live to see.
* The original ''MobileSuitGundam'' has Zeon Zum Deikun, founder of the Principality of Zeon and father of Char and Sayla. Most people believe he was poisoned by the Zabi family, but there are also hints here and there that he really did die of a heart attack and Char's quest for revenge was all for nothing.
* [[DeathByOriginStory Caeser]], the eponymous character's father from ''Manga/KimbaTheWhiteLion'', often appears in flashbacks.
* ''Manga/{{Bakuman}}'' has Mashiro's uncle Nobuhiro, who died of overworking himself before the story began and who appears in flashbacks.
* Admiral Takaya of ''{{Anime/Gunbuster}}'' died several years before the first events of the OVA and yet set off the entire plot.
* Lisanna in ''Manga/FairyTail'', although initially she's just a character that's present in old photos and flashbacks to the guild's childhood being told to Lucy yet is mysteriously not around present day. Lucy even picks up on this but is interrupted by something before she can inquire further. In the next arc the story of what happened to her (she died during a mission because Elfman lost control) is finally explained. [[spoiler:And then she turns up alive after all.]]
** Karen Lilica and Layla Heartfilia also count.
* Several characters in ''Anime/MawaruPenguindrum'', being a series told in AnachronicOrder full of {{Whole Episode Flashback}}s. But specially, Momoka.
* Yusei Fudo's parents in ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds''. (His father appears as a benign spirit in one episode.)
* The main plot of ''Manga/BokuraNoKiseki'' involves the fact that all of the main cast of characters are [[{{Reincarnation}} reincarnations]] of another set of characters living in the distant past. By virtue of having already died and reincarnated, all the characters in the second set count as this.
* In ''Anime/TenchiMuyo'', ''Anime/TenchiUniverse'' and ''Anime/TenchiInTokyo'', Tenchi's mother (Kiyone in the OVAs, Achika in ''Universe'' and ''in Tokyo'') becomes this, having flashbacks to her from time to time. The first Tenchi movie focuses on her (though only in ''Universe'') while the final episode of the OVAs shows that she's not this patron saint of motherhood...
* Hinata, Akari's mother in ''Anime/IlSolePenetraLeIllusioni''.
* ''Anime/KillLaKill'' has the fathers of TheHero and TheRival, Isshin Matoi and Soichiro Kiryuin, respectively, both of whose deaths play a major motivating role in their daughter's actions. [[spoiler: [[LukeIAmYourFather They were actually the same man]].]]
* A few in ''{{Manga/Saki}}''
** Kuro and Yuu's mother, who passed away while the sisters were young and taught Kuro to hold onto dora tiles, resulting in her ability to attract them.
** An unnamed girl who appears in flashbacks in Chapter 102 and 104 and whom [[spoiler:Saki and Teru appear to have known once, before their family broke apart]], is implied to be dead, but it has not been officially confirmed.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* The Comedian in ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}'', dead on page one. Literally the first thing you see is his blood.
** Most of the Minutemen, for that matter.
* [[http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/OQ/OQ04/DisplayOQ04.html?page=8 Bearclaw and Joyleaf]] from ''ElfQuest''.
* Jor-El, Lara, and most other Kryptonians in the Franchise/{{Superman}} mythos.
** Jonathan and Martha Kent pre-Crisis.
* Franchise/{{Batman}}'s parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne.
* Abin-Sur, the ''Comicbook/GreenLantern'' who bequeathed his ring to Hal Jordan.
* Comicbook/{{Spider-Man}}'s Uncle Ben.
** Also his parents, Mary and Richard Parker. Betty Brant's brother Bennett (killed in the issue in which he made his first appearance) and Mary Jane's mother (seen only in flashbacks) also fit the pattern.
* This type of character is a staple of superhero comics. A few more examples:
** From the ComicBook/{{X-Men}} books: Charles Xavier's father, mother and stepfather (Juggernaut's father), Cyclops' and Havok's mother Katherine Summers, Magneto's wife Magda (mother of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch), first daughter Anya, parents, sister and extended family, and his former lover Isabelle, Banshee's wife Maeve (Siryn's mother), Storm's parents, and Nightcrawler's stepbrother Stefan Szardos.
** Comicbook/{{Daredevil}}'s parents (his mother was later retconned to have been alive all along) and ComicBook/{{Elektra}}'s father.
** [[ComicBook/IncredibleHulk Bruce Banner's]] mother (later revealed to have been murdered by her husband).
** [[ComicBook/FantasticFour The Thing's]] parents and brother Jake. SelfDemonstrating/DoctorDoom's parents. Franklin Storm, the father of Susan and Johnny.
** Henry "ComicBook/AntMan" Pym's first wife Marya Trovaya and Janet 'TheWasp' Van Dyne's father Vernon were both introduced and killed off in ''Tales to Astonish'' #44.
* TheFlash when Barry Allen died and his protege Wally "Kid Flash" West took up the mantle. Barry was shown in flashbacks many times over the years, had new stories written entirely about him in his heyday and, because he and Wally are both time travellers, he's popped up in several present day stories. All this before he finally came back from the dead decades later.
* Natalia Wilford and [[spoiler:Leon Kronski]] in the first ''ComicBook/{{Blacksad}}'' album. The entire plot of said album revolves around Blacksad tracking down Natalia's killer and avenging her death.
* An odd thing concerning ''ComicBook/SonicTheHedgehog'' as many characters tend not to mention parents and it's assumed that many of them were dead due to the Robotnik War. Then, after it, they all come out in ''droves'', revealing that they're not really dead.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Works ]]
* In ''UndocumentedFeatures'', Corwin's friend Kala never shows up, but her death was discussed by him. In the annotations, Gryphon remarks:
-->I feel bad for poor Kala - created already dead for dramatic purposes. It seems a rather cheap trick; I probably should have at least given her a couple of scenes in the preceding pieces, except that I never really had a window to show Corwin's life away from his visits with the Duelists until later on. If I had, it would've given away the fact that something was in store.
* ''WebAnimation/TurnaboutStorm'' has the pegasus athlete [[OriginalCharacter Ace Swift]] as the murder victim.
* In ''Fanfic/PonyPOVSeries'', [[spoiler:the entire world of G3 with the exception of Star Catcher, Pinkie Pie, and Star Wishes are already dead, or in some cases DeaderThanDead, before the story starts. However, some of them do have confirmed {{Reincarnation}}s in the G4 timeline.]]
* Taking a few hints from [[AxisPowersHetalia Old Rome]], [[spoiler:Hungary and England]] are this in the ''NineteenEightyThreeDoomsdayStories.''
* In ''FanFic/ClashOfTheElements'' The Elemental Overlord and the Dark King count. Though this is a weird case of this trope, since though their physical bodies are dead their spirits still reside within their new successors. However, in the case of the Dark King, we learn more about him through his suboordinates, especially in [[spoiler: Smithy and Cackletta's flashbacks.]]
** Also, [[spoiler: Former M.S.I. Commander Zeta, who was killed thirty years ago and the act of avenging him forms the basis of Alpha's motivations.]]
* Francis, Luso's father and Freise, [[spoiler: Bowen's wife]] were both dead by the time they were mentioned in ''FanFic/TheTaintedGrimoire''.
* ''FanFic/QueenOfAllOni'': Hiruzen and the Oni Elders are long dead by the time the story starts, only appearing in flashbacks.
** Going further back, there's Kagehime, the [[MonsterProgenitor first Shadowkhan]], who was dead long before even the above mentioned flashbacks.
* In ''Fanfic/BoysDoTankary'', Nyra, Vincent's older sister figure, first love, and [[IdenticalStranger dead ringer for Saori]], is this. When Vincent spared her when encountering her on the battlefield, they were locked in a cell for a month and told to kill each other; before the time ran out, Nyra made Vincent shoot her. [[spoiler:Nyra later turns out to be alive, though]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film - Animated]]
* Simon "Gazerbeam" Pallidino from ''TheIncredibles''. He was recruited by Syndrome to battle a prototype Omnidroid, then somehow he learned of Syndrome's nefarious plan, as well as the password to Syndrome's computer system. He escaped the fortress, only to die in a cave (presumably killed by one of Syndrome's probe droids)--forseeing the end, he carved the password in the cave wall with his EyeBeams. ''All of this'' happens off-screen, prior to the main plot; all we see is Mr Incredible reading about Pallidino's disappearance in a newspaper article, then stumbling upon Gazerbeam's remains in the cave. [[ChekhovsGun The password Gazerbeam carved on the wall comes in handy.]]
** Gazerbeam is only seen alive in a flashback where he's a guest at the Parrs' wedding -- for about half a second.
* Mufasa and Scar in ''Disney/TheLionKingIISimbasPride''.
* Auguste Gusteau in ''WesternAnimation/{{Ratatouille}}'', sort of. While the man himself is seen only in flashbacks (or, more accurately, in television documentaries), the version of Gusteau that gets most of the actual characterization is an imaginary construct that serves as Remy's conscience.
* Ellie in ''WesternAnimation/{{Up}}''. Carl's desire to fulfill her dream of living in Paradise Falls is what drives the story, and he often talks to the house as if it were her.
** Also, [[spoiler: [[TheCharacterDiedWithHim Doc Hudson]]]] in ''WesternAnimation/{{Cars 2}}''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film - Live Action]]
* Lester Burnham in ''Film/AmericanBeauty'' comes right out and says it at the beginning via narration, making the events of the movie one big FlashBack.
* In the first few minutes of ''Film/BeetleJuice'', Adam and Barbara get killed in a bridge collapse and spend the rest of the film as ghosts.
* Alex, in ''Film/TheBigChill''. It's his suicide that sets the film in motion.
* The title character in ''Film/BringMeTheHeadOfAlfredoGarcia''. The people looking to collect the price resort to grave robbery.
* Most of ''Chicago Deadline'' (1949) involves flashbacks telling the tangled story of the deceased Rosita Jean D'Ur, as uncovered by an inquisitive newspaper reporter. (The TV remake, ''Fame is the Name of the Game'' (1966), borrowed the TwistEnding of ''Laura''.)
* ''Film/CitizenKane'': The entire movie goes over the events of Kane's life attempting to determine the significance of "[[ItWasHisSled Rosebud]]".
* Meg Ryan's character, Ct. Walden, in ''Film/CourageUnderFire''. The entire plot of the movie is to determine the circumstances of her death, and whether or not to posthumously award her the Medal of Honor.
* Shelly Webster, Eric's girlfriend from ''Film/TheCrow'', was given this treatment, both in flashbacks and from the other characters, such as Eric himself, who came BackFromTheDead in order to avenge them both:
-->'''Eric:''' Little things used to mean so much to Shelly. I always thought they were kind of trivial. Believe me, nothing is trivial.
* ''Film/TheDescendants'' has a variation of this. The main character's wife is in a coma from less than a minute into the movie [[spoiler: from which she never recovers. She at the end of the movie.]] While she is not truly a character, she and her actions drive a significant portion of the plot. May cross into LivingMacguffin.
* The title character of ''Film/DrowningMona'' dies only a couple minutes into the movie and is fleshed out almost entirely via flashbacks.
* HelenKimble in ''Film/TheFugitive'', though unlike most characters mentioned here, she only gets a few flashbacks, but they're enough to establish that she and Dr. Kimble were HappilyMarried.
* BG/Dierdre's mother and grandmother in ''TheGoddessOf1967''.
* Mal in ''Film/{{Inception}}''. She was Cobb's wife who killed herself when she became convinced she's still in a dream, and has been haunting his thoughts ever since, derailing their dream excursions more than once.
* Jack (Michael Caine) has died before ''Film/LastOrders'' commences. His friends embark on a road trip to scatter his ashes in the sea in accordance with his last wishes. Their memories of Jack appear in flashbacks (and sometimes in flashbacks within flashbacks).
* The police detective in ''Film/{{Laura}}'' falls in love with the titular character after seeing her portrait and interviewing her friends--while he's investigating her murder. [[spoiler: Subverted, in that she's not actually dead.]]
* Professor Theodore Gettell and Chief Warrant Officer Sam Jacobs from ''Film/TheAngryRedPlanet''.
* Susie Salmon in ''Film/TheLovelyBones'' of the [[PosthumousNarration narration]] and FramingDevice variety.
* ''Film/ManOfSteel'':
** [[spoiler:Pa Kent dies in one of several flashbacks.]]
** Jor-El continues to interact with several characters as a VirtualGhost.
--->'''Zod:''' Still lecturing me, Jor-El. Even in death.
* [[spoiler: Leonard's wife]] in ''Film/{{Memento}}''.
* In the film, ''Film/MenaceIISociety'', Caine's whole story is really a flashback of the choices he made, which resulted in his death.
* Lionel Shrike in ''Film/NowYouSeeMe''. [[spoiler: He died in an attempt to stage a comeback as a magician by escaping from a safe thrown into the Hudson River. His son has been planning revenge on all those who contributed to the tragedy, which is what the entire movie is about.]]
* Marni from ''Film/RepoTheGeneticOpera'' died before the story starts. She's referenced a lot in parts like 'Infected' and 'Legal Assassin', and her ghost appears sometimes, although she says little more than "Assassin! Murderer! Monster!"
* [[spoiler: The BigBad]] in ''Film/SkyCaptainAndTheWorldOfTomorrow'' is revealed to have died years (perhaps decades) before the story actually began. [[spoiler: A case of art imitating life, as he was played by Sir LaurenceOlivier, who had been dead for over a decade.]]
* Carson in ''StruckByLightning''. His character dies in the first scene as the opening credits finish rolling. The majority of the movie is an extended flashback of his life.
* Joe Gillis (William Holden) in ''Film/SunsetBoulevard'' enters the film as a body floating facedown in a swimming pool and proceeds to narrate the the events leading up to his death.
** As originally filmed, Joe was speaking to other "dead" people in a morgue. Test audiences found the scene ludicrous and it had to be hastily revised prior to public release.
* Brian in ''Film/{{Things We Lost in Fire}}'' is killed at the beginning of the movie, his character is seen mostly through flashbacks.
* Harry Lime in ''Film/TheThirdMan'' is ''the'' central figure of the entire story, even though the movie's second scene is his funeral. [[spoiler:Of course, he's not really dead...]]
* All but one of the principal characters in ''Film/TheUsualSuspects''. The story unfolds as the lone survivor recounts for the police the events that brought the suspects together and how they eventually met their ends. [[spoiler: With a healthy dose of UnreliableNarrator, of course.]]
* The titular character of ''Film/{{Vidocq}}''. [[spoiler:In the last 10 minutes of the film you find out he faked his death to get closer to the BigBad.]]
* ''Film/TheWolverine'': [[spoiler:Famke Janssen reprises her role as Jean Grey in several dream sequences]].
* ''Film/TheBourneSeries'': Everything that happens in ''The Bourne Supremacy'' traces back to the assassination of Vladimir Neski, a Russian politician [[HeKnowsTooMuch who'd been killed before revealing]] that a Russian oil baron was using stolen CIA funds to buy up Russian oil leases. Jason Bourne soon uncovers that he was the one that killed Neski, in his very first Treadstone assignment.
* Subverting most people's expectations, the version of Norman Osborne introduced in ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan2'' dies of a genetic illness in the first half-hour of the movie, after [[OneSceneWonder his only scene]]. However, it's revealed that he was responsible for the deaths of Peter Parker's parents, and his amoral experiments at Oscorp prove to be the MetaOrigin connecting every single costumed character in the movie. His death also drives [[spoiler: his son Harry to become the Green Goblin, after his efforts to cure the genetic virus end up backfiring and mutating him into a monster]].
* [[spoiler: Will and Caroline]] suffer this fate in ''Film/DawnOfThePlanetOfTheApes'', being referred to as "ground zero" of the deadly virus that wiped out most of humanity.

[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Beatrice, the Baudelaire parents [[spoiler:(see previous)]], Jacques Snicket [[spoiler:(Technically, he was killed halfway through the series in the same book he was introduced)]] and probably several others in ''ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents''
* ''Requiem for a Ruler of Worlds'' by Brian Daley. Cazpahr Weir, lord of a small interstellar empire, dies in the prologue. The main story concerns a hapless Terran bureaucrat left a mysterious bequest in Weir's will, for no reason he can (at first) understand.
* Jon Arryn, Lyanna Stark, Brandon Stark, Rickard Stark, Rhaegar Targaryen and his father Aerys in ''ASongOfIceAndFire''. [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters More are added to this list]] as the series [[AnyoneCanDie progresses]].
* [[spoiler:Eunice Branca]] in Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/IWillFearNoEvil'' After she is killed and Johann's brain is transplanted into her body, he finds her mind still present. It is left ambiguous whether she is actually still there or whether Johann is hallucinating her continued existence.
* Both of Harry Dresden's parents in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' have appeared to him in various books, despite both being long dead by the time of the first book. His father has popped up in dreams, while his mother [[spoiler: left him pre-recorded messages in his and his half-brother Thomas' souls in order to leave proof for her sons that they were brothers.]]
* Lily and James Potter from the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' series are killed at the very beginning of the series. Everything that we learn about them is through flashbacks or their magical equivalent.
** Also, we learn far more about [[spoiler: Albus Dumbledore]] posthumously in ''[[Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows The Deathly Hallows]]'' than in all six of the previous books combined.
** Regulus Black, the Hogwarts founders, and Grindelwald.
* Ptolemy in ''TheBartimaeusTrilogy''.
* In ''The Death Of The Necromancer'', [[spoiler:the titular Necromancer actually suffered the titular death about two hundred years before the book began. And they don't actually kill him again, they just put him into a [[SealedEvilInACan permanent sleep]].]]
* Jiguro, Balsa's foster father from ''GuardianOfTheSacredSpirit''. Balsa tries to do right what he did right and avoid what he did wrong with her charge and the warriors hunting them.
* ''{{Rebecca}}'' a 1938 novel later made into a movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock. When the story opens, Rebecca (wife of the wealthy Maximilian de Winter) has been dead for a year already -- but even in her absence, her presence is inescapable, as her memory casts its shadow over the entire story.
* The classic Brazilian book ''Posthumous Memories of Bras Cubas'' is pretty self-descriptive. Also, hilarious.
* The main character of the ''Burke'' series by Creator/AndrewVachss often mentions his friend Wesley, who only appears in the fourth book, in which he apparently dies. He leaves no body behind and many who knew of him refuse to believe that he is dead, which Burke takes advantage of many times.
** ''Terminal'' has Melissa Turnbridge, murdered 30 years before the book's events. As the opposition for the book includes the three then-teens who raped and apparently murdered her, as well as the man who tried to hide the body, this inevitably comes up.
* The Wicked Witch of the East in ''Literature/TheWonderfulWizardOfOz''.
* ''Literature/WarriorCats'' has [=StarClan=] (the afterlife in the series), so cats that die usually aren't ''gone'' gone. [[spoiler: Though they ''do'' eventually fade away]]. Yellowfang and Spottedleaf, for example, probably did more in the series dead than while alive.
** Also, Redtail and Oakheart are surprisingly important, and things they did before dying are very important in the original series.
* Emmeline Grangerford in ''Literature/TheAdventuresOfHuckleberryFinn'' by MarkTwain.
* Addy Bundren from ''Literature/AsILayDying''.
* Elfangor, the Prince that gave the Literature/{{Animorphs}} their [[ImportedAlienPhlebotinum powers]], got a full fleshing-out in the prequel companion novel ''The Andalite Chronicles,'' including the revelation that he [[spoiler: [[LukeIAmYourFather fathered]] one of the Animorphs.]]
* ''Literature/TheQuietAmerican'' begins with the narrator discovering the other main character, Pyle, is dead.
* June Morrisey from Louise Erdrich's ''Love Medicine''.
* In the ''HandOfThrawn'' duology, Thrawn has been dead for ten years. A [[BigBadDuumvirate Big Bad Triumvirate]] conspires to make him [[DeadPersonImpersonation appear]] to be BackFromTheDead. Whenever the physical impersonator is in character and doing the impersonating the narration calls him Thrawn - as in "Thrawn inclined his head" - instead of his usual name, [[MeaningfulName Flim]]. One of the triumvirate [[spoiler: was cloned with a piece of Thrawn's mind]], and there is [[spoiler: an unfinished clone of his]], but he doesn't appear himself. He's ''dead''. But his presence is all throughout the duology; particularly with the actual Hand of Thrawn.
* Granny Aching from the Tiffany Aching series of books in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''. Dead before the first book began, we only see her through Tiffany's memories. A bit of a shame since it would have been interesting to see a meeting between Granny Weatherwax and her. Pratchett has said in talks, "She's one of my best characters ever, and she's dead!"
* Dave Likely in ''Discworld/UnseenAcademicals''.
* In ''SoonIWillBeInvincible'' [[spoiler: The Pharaoh (the villain one) was killed by [=CoreFire=] before Doctor Impossible escapes]].
* In ''Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians'', Thalia sacrificed herself to save others, and was turned into a tree just before her death. Said tree protects Camp Half-Blood, and when it's poisoned in the second book, the plot revolves around finding something to cure it. [[spoiler:Which turns out to be an EvilPlan so that Thalia will be healed back to normal form, giving Kronos some other important half-blood to influence. He even goes, more or less, [[JustAsPlanned "Exactly as planned"]] just before the reveal. Thalia becomes a regular character from the third book on.]]
* Gaius Septimus in the ''Literature/CodexAlera'' series. In this first book, his history and death was mentioned in an offhand way, to explain why there is a succession crisis and give the archetypal FarmBoy protagonist a memorial to shelter from a storm in. By the end of the series we've learned [[spoiler: that he was married, and to whom]], who his friends were, and a lot abou what he was like.
* Ali [=DiLaurentis=] in ''PrettyLittleLiars'' is developed completely by flashback [[spoiler: until the last book]]
* D'ol (or "Doctor") Neshom and Wissen in the GreenSkyTrilogy.
* WaltDisney himself in the ''KingdomKeepers'' books.
* ''Literature/CatchTwentyTwo'' has several, most notable Mudd, the dead man in Yossarian's tent.
* In ''TheFatherLukeWolfeTrilogy'', Janey Peer only appears in [[{{Flashback}} Flashbacks]], and "Chollie" is the addressee of letters Father Wolfe writes in {{Diary}} form. [[spoiler:Janey turns out to still be alive, however.]]
* Hari Seldon in Asimov's {{Foundation}} series is almost entirely depicted after his death in recordings he has left for future generations, though two prequels actually focus on Seldon's life.
* ''Discworld/NightWatch'' by Terry Pratchett has a fairly interesting version of this trope. [[spoiler:John Keel, Sam Vimes' mentor,]] is murdered shortly after Vimes stumbles back in time; [[spoiler:he's mentioned in the beginning on the anniversary of his death (and the other soldiers). So Vimes ends up having to take his place in history, letting us see something similar to the story of John Keel, but not quite (note that it's not a StableTimeLoop; Vimes wasn't supposed to come back in time. He really was mentored by the real Keel, who was murdered due to Carcer being brought back in time as well. So John Keel's feats were really done by John Keel in the first timeline, but in this separate timeline, they're done by Vimes).]]
* Laia Odo in ''The Dispossessed''. She's been dead for several hundred years, but the entire world of the story is her creation, and the characters speak of her often. The short story ''The Day Before the Revolution'', published after ''The Dispossessed'' subverts this by taking place before Odo's death and focusing on her.
* In WarmBodies, Perry [[PosthumousNarration narrates]] through his life memories inside R's mind.
* In ''{{Aimee}}'', Aimee is developed entirely through flash backs, even though she killed herself before the events of the novel started.
* In ''Literature/SavingZoe'', Zoë is developed through her diary that her sister Echo is reading.
* Crispin Salvador from ''{{Ilustrado}}''. The main character's quest is to find out why Crispin died by piecing together Crispin's works and looking for his supposed life's work -- ''The Bridges Ablaze''. [[spoiler: Then it's weirdly subverted at the end, since it turns out that [[RecursiveCanon Crispin was writing the whole thing.]]]]
* ''{{Holes}}'' by Louis Sachar has an interesting take on this. The main story involves Stanley Yelnats at Camp Green Lake in the present day, with the other two stories of Kissin' Kate Barlow and Elya Yelnats taking place far before the events in the present. The characters in the latter two stories are of course dead by the time Stanley's story takes place, so arguably, you're seeing them as flashbacks or snippets of the past (though they aren't framed as such).
* In ''Creator/StephenKing'''s ''Franchise/TheDarkTower'' series, almost everyone from Roland's past is one of these, including every character from the ''Literature/WizardAndGlass'' Mejis flashback (which is the majority of the book), aside from Roland, Walter and Sheemie.
* King's ''Lisey's Story'' is a fine example as well. Scott Landon is a major character but is already deceased when the story opens.
* In DavidEddings ''{{Belgariad}}'', Garion's parents and Polgara's sister start as clues on Garion's identity.
* In David Eddings novel ''Regina's Song'', one of the twins is dead, the other is the AngstySurvivingTwin.
* ''Literature/SomeoneElsesWar'': [[spoiler: The entire novel is kickstarted by a boy trying to find his missing little brother. Said missing little brother turns out to have been dead since chapter one.]]
* In ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'' Queen Cerys is this [[SubvertedTrope until her ghost appears]].
* In ''[[AuntDimity Aunt Dimity's Death]]'', Lori's mother Beth is revealed in Lori's recollections and a thorough review of her decades-long correspondence with Dimity.
* Keifer Porter in ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'' may have been dead for six years, but damned if his presence isn't still felt and his actions aren't still causing problems.
* [[Literature/AChristmasCarol "Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that."]] Marley sets off the entire plot of the book, but [[CharlesDickens Dickens]] wants you to know that Marley is very definitely dead before he ever makes an appearance.
* Captain Flint in ''TreasureIsland''.
* From ''TheHungerGames'' trilogy, Katniss's father. He died in a mine explosion 4 years before the first book, but he's still an important figure in her life. Over the course of the books, she tells of her childhood with him and reveals more of the circumstances immediately following the explosion and his death. It was even him who taught her about nightlock berries... In ''Catching Fire'', we learn about Maysilee Donnor, a District 12 tribute along with Haymitch in the 2nd Quarter Quell. It turns out that she was friends with Katniss's mother, and Madge's mother's twin sister. It was ''her'' pin that Madge gave to Katniss and went on to become the symbol of a revolution.
* Roger Kemp, previous owner of the Smith house and the time portal, in ''LocksmithsCloset''. He disappeared several years before the beginning of the story, but it was his actions that set everything in motion.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* George & Marion Kerby and Neil in ''Series/{{Topper}}''. They are ghosts, though.
* The drama ''Series/{{Providence}}'' had the main characters mother die in the first episode. She continually appears to her daughter as a type of muse.
* Every single episode of ''Series/TheForgotten'' has a murder victim's body discovered prior to the opening credits and reveals what this person's life was like via flashbacks. To make it even weirder, each episode is given voice-over narration by said victim.
* Just as ''Series/{{Lost}}'' has LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters, it also has loads and loads of posthumous characters, including several different types of posthumous characters, each type having its own most triumphant example.
** The most straightforward type are those characters who were dead before the series even began but have since turned up in {{Flash Back}}s. The most triumphant example is Jack's dad, Christian, whose dead body Jack was bringing home on Flight 815, but who turned up in numerous episodes throughout all six seasons, whether in flashbacks, in dreams, as a ghost, or a DeadPersonImpersonation.
*** Other such characters would include: [[spoiler: Susan Lloyd, Frank Duckett, Essam Tasir, Tom Brennan, Jae Lee, Yemi, Angelo Busoni, Kelvin, Emeka, Edward Burke, Tricia Tanaka, Howard L. Zuckerman, Roger Linus, Horace Goodspeed, Emily Linus, Jonas Whitfield, Isabella, [[NoNameGiven "Mother"]], and Claudia.]]
*** Subverted in the case of [[spoiler: Kate's mom, Diane.]] In [[spoiler: her]] first flashback [[spoiler: she already has a terminal disease. She]] then appears in several other flashbacks that all clearly take place sometime before the first one. But in a FlashForward we discover [[spoiler: she's still alive. "The doctors have given me a year to live for the past 4 years."]]
** Another unique type are among the Tailies. They would've been alive at the start of the series, but are dead by the time any MainCharacter meets the Tailies. The most triumphant example is Goodwin, who debuted as a corpse, then went on to guest star in 4 episodes after that, each one in a flashback taking place earlier than the one before it. The only other dead Tailies named are Donald and [[spoiler: Nathan]].
** Then there are those characters who died soon after their debuts only to appear in more episodes ''after'' they died than they ever did while they were alive. The most famous example is Ethan Rom, killed in his fourth episode, then appeared in eight more episodes after that. Other examples include:
*** U.S. marshall Edward Mars (killed in his third episode, appeared in six more after that).
*** Leslie Arzt (killed in his third episode, appeared in four more later).
*** And the most triumphant example, Jacob, killed in the very first episode he was played by a professional actor. The actor went on to play Jacob in five more episodes.
** Beginning with the first FlashForward in the third SeasonFinale, we had plenty of characters who were still alive in the main timeline, but were dead by the time of the flashforwards. And since the first flashforward shown is actually one of the last in chronology, this would also include people who were killed in the ffs. The most triumphant example is [[spoiler: John Locke]], whose body is in a closed coffin in that thrid season finale. It's not till the fourth season finale that the coffin is opened, revealing it's [[spoiler: Locke]], and not till midway through the fifth season are we shown how he ended up there.
*** Other characters who died during this period include: [[spoiler: [[OneSteveLimit Diane of the Others,]] Greta, Bonnie, Ryan Price, [[OneSteveLimit Tom Friendly]], Mikhail, Charlie, Naomi, George Minktowski, Regina, Karl, Rousseau, Alex, Ray, Captain Gault, Omar, Keamy, Michael, Neil, [[RedShirtArmy apparently every single remaining survivor of Flight 815 who was neither a]] MainCharacter nor [[WhatHappenedToTheMouse an abducted Tailie]], Charlotte, Nadia, Ishmail Bakir, Mr. Avellino, Elsa, Helen, and Abaddon.]] So yeah, a few people died during this period. [[BlatantLies Just a few.]]
** During the fifth season, the Losties [[TimeTravel traveled back in time]], meeting characters we already knew were dead by the present. The most triumphant example is Stuart Radzinsky, a character we had heard about as having [[DrivenToSuicide committed sucide]] but whom we'd never seen till now. Other examples include Rousseau and her entire expedition, and members of the Dharma Initiative, many of whom will be killed in the Purge, and [[spoiler: Phil]], a DI member who ends up dying [[spoiler: long before the Purge, as a direct result of the Losties' actions.]]
** And finally, there's the flash-sideways where the most triumphant example is [[spoiler: [[EverybodysDeadDave everybody.]] The flash-sideways is the afterlife and "takes place" after everyone shown in it has died.]]
* Lilly Kane of ''VeronicaMars''.
* Mary Alice Young, the deceased narrator on ''DesperateHousewives''.
* The very first episode of British soap ''EastEnders'' starts with the body of Reg Cox being discovered in his flat. His murder was thus the very first arc in its SoapWheel.[note]In case you're curious, Nick Cotton did it.[/note]
* In the ''{{Firefly}}'' episode "The Message", Tracey appears dead, and wakes up after his character development has taken place.
* Laura Palmer, ''TwinPeaks''
* Harry Morgan in ''Series/{{Dexter}}''. Unique because he's actually in the title credits and appears, at the very least, in two thirds of every season, almost always as a hallucination.
* Jimmy Keefe, and many others, in ''RescueMe''.
* Trudy Monk in ''Series/{{Monk}}''.
** To a smaller extent (and more prominantly in the novels), Mitch, Natalie's husband.
* Chandra Suresh in ''Series/{{Heroes}}''.
* Too many to count in the 2000s ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}''.
** The most prominent are Starbuck's parents and President Adar, who died either before or during the miniseries and are all mentioned at several points throughout the show and appear as flashbacks or hallucinations or both. A handful of characters who were killed after several appearances also appear later in flashbacks or hallucinations.
* Terry Crowley on ''TheShield''. Terry was killed by Vic Mackey in the first episode of the series, but remained in the dialogue for every season and appeared in flashbacks.
* Jack Crusher and Ian Troi on ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration''.
** Likewise in ''[[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration TNG]]'', Mogh, father of Worf and Kurn. In ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine DS9]]'', Jennifer Sisko is found dead by her husband Ben in the first few minutes of the series and developed as it went on. Of note is her mirror universe counterpart [[spoiler:who died herself in the second episode she appeared while saving the life of the ‘real’ Jennifer’s son, Jake]]. As well, Curzon, host of the Dax symbiont before Jadzia, is seen briefly in a Jadzia-centric episode [[spoiler:and later when he [[ItMakesSenseInContext temporarily possesses]] Odo]].
* John Teller in ''SonsOfAnarchy'' is heard only in voice over through his journal.
* A weird example: Margaret from the ''Series/{{Dollhouse}}'' episode "Haunted." Seen alive but dies during the first scene, then able to [[AttendingYourOwnFuneral Attend Her Own Funeral]], in a way, by having her mind imprinted into a Doll. Technically dead and most of what we know about her comes from hearing her loved ones talk about her...despite her (or her memories in someone else, anyway) being the protagonist of the episode.
** Also arguably [[spoiler:the original Dr Saunders, though it seems the new Dr Saunders has at least some of his personality.]]
* Nathaniel Fisher, Sr. in ''Series/SixFeetUnder'' dies in the pilot episode, and throughout the series continues to interact with his family, along with the occasional Body of the Week. It's left ambiguous whether he is an actual ghost or just in their heads (unless you consider WordOfGod to be canon; in which case, they're figments of the imagination or represent inner thoughts).
* Leo Strange, Erica's older brother in ''Series/BeingErica''. He died several years before the show takes place.
* Pretty much the entire premise of ''Series/ColdCase'' is based on this, as all the victims are obviously dead from the get-go of any episode, and their story is filled in entirely via the flashbacks of their friends, families, enemies, etc.
** All crime shows could be said to have a case of this, as we rarely know the victim before hand.
* [[spoiler:John Scott]] from ''Series/{{Fringe}}'', who was killed in the first episode but still became a major character.
* ''Series/TheATeam'' had an old member of their Vietnam unit, Raymond Brenner, who stood by them during their trial and each of the team remember fondly. They return the favor by going after his murderers and freeing his town.
* ''Series/TheFugitive'' was built around Richard Kimble's attempt to clear himself of the murder of his wife, Helen.
* Kyle Reese in ''TheSarahConnorChronicles'' is mentioned frequently (as all the main characters knew/loved/are related to him except Cameron) and appears as a hallucination in one (incredibly weird) episode.
* Chairman Cha's brother and Ji Heon's brother in ''ProtectTheBoss''
* Max Fenig in "Tempus Fugit" and "Max," a 2-part episode of ''Series/TheXFiles''. Max appears alive in an earlier episode, but [[BackForTheDead is found dead in the teaser]] of "Tempus Fugit." The 2-parter consists of the agents' attempts to reconstruct the events that led to his death, and he appears alive in a series of flashbacks.
* In ''Series/GameOfThrones'', Lyanna Stark, Brandon Stark, Rickard Stark, [[StalkerWithACrush Rhaegar Targaryen]], Aerys [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin "The Mad King"]] Targaryen and [[BigBrotherMentor Jon Arryn]] are among the characters mentioned frequently but already dead by the beginning of the series.
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'' contains several characters who were killed in the fairy-tale world, long before the events of the pilot, that none the less have a strong impact on the actions of the present day characters. Probably the two most important are [[spoiler: Henry, the Evil Queen's father, and Daniel, the stable boy with whom the Queen was in love before she married Snow White's father]].
* In ''TheCityHunter'', Mu Yeol and the other twenty soldiers killed in the first episode. Na Na's parents, who turn out to have been killed by one of the villains.
* ''Series/RandallAndHopkirkDeceased''. The clue's in the title. It doesn't stop him solving crimes.
* In ''Series/TheSopranos'', "Johnny Boy" Soprano (a.k.a. Tony's father) plays an important role in several characters' backstories and appears in numerous flashbacks, but has already been dead for years by the time the series begins. Richie Aprile, while alive at the beginning, dies of cancer after a few episodes and only a few minutes of screen time, but continues to be talked about by his friends, family and associates throughout the series.
* The ''Series/MastersOfHorror'' episode "Imprint" begins with the prostitute informing Christopher that the girl he's been looking for, Komomo, recently died. The rest of it is spent with the prostitute telling him of Komomo's final weeks and her own life story.
* The opening scene of the first episode of ''Series/OrphanBlack'' is the suicide of Elizabeth Childs. The plot kicks off after Sarah Manning, who is startled to find Beth was her ''exact duplicate,'' assumes her identity, and finds that she and Beth were only two of a series of clones. She also discovers that Beth was a ''cop,'' with a DarkAndTroubledPast.
* ''Series/PersonOfInterest''
** Nathan Ingram was Finch's best friend and business partner. Together they built the Machine but disagrees about what to do about the Irrelevant list. Nathan wanted to save the people on the list and became an amateur vigilante. When Finch tried to stop him, Nathan tried exposing the existence of the Machine to the public and the government killed him to keep him silent. When the series starts Finch is trying to atone for failing Nathan by continuing Nathan's work of saving the Irrelevant people.
** Jessica Arndt was Reese's ex-girlfriend who broke up with him after he rejoined the army after 9/11. She got married but her husband was violently abusive. Desperate, she called Reese and asked him to help in getting away from her husband. Reese wanted to rush to her side but was called away on an important mission where he was betrayed by his superiors and left for dead. When he finally returned to the U.S. he discovered that Jessica died in an apparent car accident. He quickly discovered that she was actually murdered by her husband. Reese got revenge on the husband but then reached a DespairEventHorizon and pretty much gace up until Finch recruits him at the start of the series. The guilt from not being able to save Jessica is a major reason for why Reese joins Finch in his mission to save the Irrelevant people. A flashback reveals that Jessica was actually one of the Irrelevant people Finch was unable to save.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Manhwa]]
* In ''TarotCafe'', Pamela's mother [[BurnTheWitch was burned at the stake]] before the series begins, but she still shows up in Pamela's memories, a hallucination/dream, [[spoiler:and to give Pamela a hint when Pamela is exploring Hell.]] Arguably she sets off the events of the series, between taking Pamela to visit the "holy man" [[spoiler:who was really Belus]] and making her DealWithTheDevil in an effort to protect her daughter.
* Lightning Tiger's death at the beginning of ''{{Veritas}}'' forms the basis of the plot. Almost all characters introduced afterwards have their relationship to him explained via flashback.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Pinball]]
* In ''[[Pinball/WHODunnit WHO dunnit]],'' both Trixie and Victoria's mothers are deceased before the game starts.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* The Mizner brothers in the Sondheim musical ''Bounce''.
* OlderThanSteam: Yorick, Old Fortinbras, and the dead king in ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}''.
* Eva Smith/Daisy Renton in J.B. Priestley's ''AnInspectorCalls''. The inspector in question is calling upon the Birling family to investigate the events leading up to her suicide.
* The Baker's father in ''Theatre/IntoTheWoods'', who set most of the plot into motion years earlier, but was believed to have perished in a "baking accident". [[spoiler: [[ZigzaggingTrope Zig-zagged]] when it turns out that the Mysterious Old Man is the Baker's father, whose reveal comes just in time for him to die again, only to kind of come back to life to sing a duet with the Baker in Act II.]]
* Portia's father in ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice''. Portia spends much of the play dealing with the weird test he had set up for potential suitors, since according to his will she can't marry anyone who doesn't pick the right casket and must marry the man who does. She is not entirely pleased with this situation.
* The eponymous anarchist in ''Theatre/AccidentalDeathOfAnAnarchist'' is dead at the start of the play, and the play revolves a farcical investigation into his death.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* Jecht of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyX'' although [[spoiler:we eventually learn that Jecht isn't dead.]]
** Also Braska, although Braska doesn't get as much character development and did leave a VideoWill, if you happen to find it.
* Zack from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' is the entire reason Cloud becomes the main character, yet we only find out about his existence after Cloud [[spoiler:realizes he was pretending to be Zack the whole time.]]
** [[spoiler:Sephiroth]] was this as well. [[spoiler:Cloud killed him long before the game starts, though he eventually wills himself back to life in the end just in time for the FinalBattle.]] Every time you encounter him outside of flashbacks prior to the end [[spoiler:it's just another Jenova clone.]]
* Serah in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' [[spoiler:turns to solid crystal]] only seconds after she appears for the first time at the end of the first act. As the game progresses, more details are revealed about her and her past. Her fate is the major motivation and driving force behind both Lightning's and Snow's diverging storylines, and she played a major role in the events that led up to the games beginning.
* ''VideoGame/SilentHill'' has a few of these, all of which manage to be major characters:
** The worst ending in ''Silent Hill'' implies that Harry dreamed the entire plot of the game as he died in the car crash.
** James' wife Mary from ''Silent Hill 2'' drives pretty much the entire plot.
** [[spoiler:Harry Mason, who you spend the entire game looking for in ''Silent Hill 3'']]
** [[BigBad Walter Sullivan]] in ''Silent Hill: The Room'', despite being the primary antagonist.
** [[spoiler:Harry ''himself'']] in ''Silent Hill: Shattered Memories''.
** [[spoiler:Joshua Shepherd and possibly Adam Shepherd as well]] in ''Silent Hill: Homecoming''.
* Emiya Kiritsugu in ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight''. Does not apply in the prequel ''FateZero'', obviously.
* Gouken in the ''StreetFighter'' series before ''Street Fighter IV'' [[UnexplainedRecovery made him better]] (his appearance in the American animated series doesn't count).
* Everyone in ''VideoGame/{{BioShock|1}}'' except the handful of people still alive at the start of the game gets all their character development done through ApocalypticLog entries. The most notable examples include Doctor Suchong, who is responsible for several important plot elements, and Ryan's mistress Diane [=McClintock=], who gets a fairly comprehensive character arc if you hunt down all her logs. Of course, the trope is not always played straight, and [[spoiler:the central villain]] is a notable and memorable subversion.
** Played straight in ''VideoGame/BioshockInfinite'' by Lady Comstock [[spoiler:for the most part]].
* A lot of victims in the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series are like this.
** [[spoiler:Zak Gramarye and Drew Misham]] in ''VisualNovel/ApolloJusticeAceAttorney''.
** [[spoiler: Byrne Faraday]] in ''Investigations'' is noteworthy. In the course of investigating his murder we find out a lot about his personality and relationship with his [[spoiler: daughter Kay,]] but the full story about his past doesn't come out until near the end of the final case.
** Gregory Edgeworth became one by way of a flashback case in ''Investigations 2'', which fleshed out his personality a little more.
** The same game also has a very interesting case in [[spoiler: Manousuke Naito]] who, while alive, is just a [[FlatCharacter flat]], {{Jerkass}}, [[spoiler: murderer]]. It's not until he [[spoiler: becomes a murder victim himself]] that you learn [[HiddenDepths there was a little more to him than that.]]
** Also contains a Zig-Zagging example in [[spoiler: Teikun O]] who you meet, very much alive, until... he dies [[spoiler: in the 5th case.]] You begin learning more about him in flashbacks after this, but they cumulate in TheReveal that [[spoiler: ''that'' O was just a body double, turns out the ''real'' O was a Posthumous Character [[DeadToBeginWith right from the start.]]]]
* Makihasa Tohno in ''{{Tsukihime}}'' is the root of the problem in all three far side routes, part of the near side ones and Shiki would also be a badass (and possibly psychopathic) assassin of demons with an intact family and not destined to die in 5-10 years tops. It's pretty impressive for a character who's already dead to be worse than the serial killer in town or Nero Chaos.
* Takamachi Shirou, Kyouya's father in ''TriangleHeart3SweetSongsForever'', is mostly developed through his family's memories and flashbacks. They [[SchrodingersCat kept him alive and present]], however, in a MorePopularSpinoff that [[MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha we shouldn't have to name by now]].
* Erana from the ''VideoGame/QuestForGlory'' series is a powerful sorceress who you hear about throughout the series, and then in the fourth game you get to find out what happened to her. She was [[spoiler: sealed away by an EldritchAbomination while sacrificing herself to stop said Abomination from entering the world. You can bring her back from the underworld in the fifth game if you choose, and she becomes one of your love interests]].
* Theofratus from ''ManaKhemiaAlchemistsOfAlRevis''. Almost every chapter began with dialogue from his life before his death, providing details to his character, as well as important hints to the game's plot.
* The Remnant Psyches in ''{{killer7}}'' are the ghosts of people who were previously associated with the Seven Smiths during their lifetime, mostly former victims. Most of them are the ghosts of defeated bosses like Andre Ulmeyda and Curtis Blackburn, but some of them (namely Travis Bell, Kess Bloodysunday, Susie Sumner) were also past victims who died before the events of the game. The only [[MindScrew possible]] exception is [[spoiler: Iwazaru, who may be TheMole, [[BigBad The Big Bad]], neither, or both.]]
* In the ''{{Metroid}}'' series, Samus Aran's former CO Adam is an intriguing example. In ''Metroid Fusion'', his character is introduced in monologues given by Samus, with implications that he sacrificed his life to save her. However, in an interesting twist, [[spoiler: Adam's mind was uploaded into the computer on the station Samus was on, so in a weird way he was kinda, sorta alive, depending on how you view the phrase "alive"]]. It however he lost his status as a PosthumousCharacter in ''Metroid: Other M'', becoming a prominent (and very much alive) character in the plot of the game.
** To be fair, ''Other M'' takes place before ''Fusion'', so it's [[ForegoneConclusion pretty much a given]] that Adam would die either in in Other M or sometime after.
* One of the first sentences in ''EternalDarkness'' involves the narrator informing you that he is dead.
** Counts for every character not named "Alex", "Edwin", "Peter", or "Michael". Edward is merely the first person the player learns of who was killed.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Iji}}'', Mia and [[FatherToHisMen Hel Sarie]] are very much dead when the game begins.
* The mask spirits from ''[[MajorasMask The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask]]''. You do get to meet Darmani and Mikau briefly, but it's after they die that you get to know them in more depth [[DeadPersonImpersonation through living their lives]].
* In the flash game series ''VideoGame/{{Sonny}}'', the titular protagonist, as well as Veradux and Felicity, are posthumous characters by virtue of being zombies.
* {{Persona 3}}'s epilogue The Answer has [[spoiler: the protaganist, though the main team eventually get to see him acting as [[BarrierMaiden The Great Seal]] between Nyx and Erebus]].
** In the main story, Ken's mother is the driving force behind Ken's motivations to join S.E.E.S. [[spoiler: and attempt to kill Shinjiro for accidentally murdering his mother with his Persona]]
* Sir Francis Drake is this in ''[[{{Uncharted}} Uncharted: Drake's Fortune]]'' (doubling up as a HistoricalDomainCharacter). The plot is kicked off by Nathan Drake, who believes he is Sir Francis' descendant, following clues left by Francis that reveal how he faked his death and went hunting for a legendary treasure on an [[TitleDrop uncharted]] island. His journal and messages to other people are crucial to following the trail, and at the end Nate discovers that [[spoiler:Francis made a HeroicSacrifice to stop the [[OurZombiesAreDifferent Descendants]] from escaping the island]]. Francis is also a crucial part of Nate's characterisation, since the latter draws a lot of pride and self-confidence from being the descendant of the former, and briefly believing that Francis failed in his quest and died alone crushes Nate's spirit.
** Marco Polo in ''Uncharted 2: Among Thieves'', though not as much as Francis in the previous game.
** ''Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception'' has T.E. Lawrence playing a huge part in the story, as well as more details on the connection between Nathan and Sir Francis Drake. [[spoiler:Specifically, there isn't one. Nate made up his backstory, including his name just to convince himself that he was worth something.]]
* ''VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors'':
** We learn the Ninth Man's identity after his gruesome death.
** Not to mention [[spoiler: The Captain.]]
* Cave Johnson, the man behind Aperture Science, from ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}''. His glory days and [[HowTheMightyHaveFallen eventual decline]] are chronicled in a bunch of audio-logs that are played on some of the levels.
* Rosenkreuz of ''{{Rosenkreuzstilette}}'' is one. He sacrificed his own life to have his final wish granted - his wish was for the Holy Empire to accept Magi as part of their military.
* Pandora of ''HeroSmash'' counts as one as well, as she, according to her memorial statue found in Aurora Park, made the ultimate sacrifice so that the residents of Super City could see another day. Of course, judging by the full-color pictures of her found in ads as well as several Creator/ArtixEntertainment main websites, it implies that Pandora might not actually already be dead...
* In ''KnightsOfTheOldRepublic 2: Sith Lords'', we have Coorta in the Peragus level. The various holocrons mention him as being a troublemaker (bringing weapons into the mining facility despite how dangerous it is) and being the driving force behind selling the Jedi for bounty money. It seems like he's being set up as a disc-one antagonist. When you finally meet Coorta, you find his dead body on the ground, and the final holocron shows him as being killed by HK-50 after he tried to escape the mining facility.
** Subversion in the first game and the MMO. You mean to tell me [[spoiler: Revan's not dead]]?!
* After finishing the first generation of ''RecordOfAgarestWar'', Leonhardt becomes this. He is still being discussed by other characters even after his death.
* The Fallout series has a few, a notable one being Frederick Sinclair from the Fallout: New Vegas add-on story-arc. His character is developed entirely through speaking to Dean Domino (a 200 year old ghoul who hated the guy) and several computer documents scattered around. He was responsible for the Sierra Madre (the setting of Dead Money) being built, as well as the creation of the Ghost People (the Mooks of the add-on)
* Prophet in ''VideoGame/{{Crysis}} 2'' - He is alive and kicking in ''Crysis'' and ''Crysis Warhead'', but doesn't get much in the way of development. ''2'' expands on his story greatly via flashbacks.
* The Fortune Teller in ''GuildWars Factions'' has a massive impact on Factions's plot, having forseen Shiro's rise to fame (And fall to villainy). The last time she is seen in Factions, she warns Shiro to beware the harvest ceremony, driving him to murder the emperor. However, ''Nightfall'' explains that [[spoiler: she was a demonic agent of Abaddon, sent to corrupt Shiro Tagachi. She is still alive in the Realm of Torment and is a BonusBoss.]]
* ''TotalAnnihilationKingdoms'' it is revealed in ''Iron Plauge'' that Garacaius was dead long ago when he gave up his immortality and founded the SteamPunk kingdom of Creon, which he made into an AntimagicalFaction.
* The old woman in ''VirtuesLastReward'' is first introduced as a dead body. [[spoiler: She isn't always this.]]
* Lord Indoril Nerevar in ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind''. His death, and the subsequent events, are the main catalyst for the plot of the game some 4000 years later. The events of his life and death are discovered through in-game books and conversations with several prominent characters. They, of course, [[TheRashomon conflict greatly]]. [[spoiler: The PlayerCharacter is his reincarnation. Maybe.]]
* River is the crux of the entire story of ''VideoGame/ToTheMoon'', but she's already been dead for years when the story opens. [[SubvertedTrope However,]] you do get to see most of her life in person through Johnny's [[DreamWeaver memories]].
* [[spoiler: Mukuro Ikusaba]] from ''VisualNovel/{{Danganronpa}}'' zig-zags on this. When you find the person in question, they're already dead. However, [[spoiler: both the cast and the player ''did'' meet Mukuro while she was still alive...disguised as Junko Enoshima, who was then killed by the ''real'' Junko before the first trial even began.]]
* This is the central premise of the ''Franchise/AssassinsCreed'' series. All those historical characters are virtual reproductions of genetic memories stored in Desmond's DNA. All of them have been dead for centuries. In ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIV'', [[spoiler:Desmond]] is this, with the protagonist finding audio-recordings of [[spoiler:his]] messages.
* Despite Treize Khushrenada's death being used as a martyr for the Mariemaia Army and Wufei's usual FaceHeelTurn excuse in ''[[VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsZ Z3 Jigoku-hen]]'', his actions and death in Saisei-hen also had a big impact on [[spoiler:Char Aznable. Instead of leading Neo Zeon to punish humanity by dropping Axis on Earth like so many other SRW games, he opts this time to save humanity by using Axis as a singularity point to unite them because he'd had learned much from Treize who's dying words was telling him not to make the same mistakes as he did.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Comics ]]
* Webcomic/TheArtistIsDead! [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin No points for guessing who]].
* Marty from ''CountYourSheep''
* Krayne from ''FatedFeather''
* Surma Carver from ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt''. Her past is one of the central mysteries of the story.
** And there's also the first generation of the Court: Jeanne, Diego, and Sir Young. Unraveling their story has become another of the central mysteries. Though Jeanne is a borderline case, as she initially shows up [[spoiler:as a ghost, in the present]].
* Neilli is the most prominent one in {{Juathuur}}. [[spoiler:[[FakingTheDead So she would have everyone believe, that is]]]].
* Eugene Greenhilt from ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', though he manages to visit as a ghost. Most of Soon Kim's Order of the Scribble, of whom only [[spoiler:Serini]] is possibly alive. Also, Redcloak's brother Right-Eye.
* Melody from ''PennyAndAggie''.
* Brian Rammer is dead in the mainline ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' universe, but is still alive in at least two alternate universes.
* Scotty and Rose from ''SomethingPositive''
* Milo from ''TheZombieHunters''.
* Jade's Grandfather in ''Homestuck'' initially (the first time we see him is Jade being startled by his stuffed body... somehow). However he is disqualified for being alive during most of the kids' adventure because of [[TimeTravel shenanigans]]. The same goes for John's Nanna, who comes back as a [[GuardianEntity sprite]].
** Crowbar, Matchsticks, and Quarters of the Felt are dead when the Midnight Crew Intermission begins. However, they come back through time shenanigans. [[spoiler:Twice]].
** The trolls' ancestors (save for The Condesce and The Handmaid, who were still alive at the time they were introduced) all qualify. The Ψiioniic was technically alive at the beginning of Act 5 Act 1, but he was introduced after his death.
** On Post-Scratch Earth, Jane's grandfather and Jake's grandmother, [[spoiler:the counterparts of John Egbert and Jade Harley. Dave and Rose's counterparts, however, were alive in the "present," but were only seen in the form of a recap told by a character from the future centuries after they died. Thanks to ''Homestuck''[='=]s predetermination ensuring that they will be killed, they essentially become this too]].
** Due to dream bubbles, [[spoiler:dead characters not only continue interacting with the living, but get up to their own shenanigans and adventures.]]
* Mary Elizabeth in the original incarnation of the ''Basil Flint'' universe - fleshed out and killed ''again'' in ''Flat Feet and High Heels'', things do not bode well for her fate in ''Mary Elizabeth's Sock''.
* ''UnwindersTallComics'': Unwinder purchases the late Gary P. Rastov's entire ''War of the Seven Stars'' novel series. Although he hates the books, Unwinder becomes obsessed with the author. Even the comic's cast page notes this:
-->Gary P. Rastov is never pictured, but is a full-fledged character in the strip nonetheless. ... Though he's dead by the timeframe of ''Unwinder's Tall Comics'', his work is regularly referenced, and Unwinder personally has a very complicated relationship with his writing.
* Ameer from ''Webcomic/GreyIs''. He dies sometime in the two years White is gone. We get to see a fair amount of him in the flashbacks though.
* Atlas from ''{{Lackadaisy}}'' was killed before the comic even started. His death is one of the main reasons the speakeasy isn't nearly as successful as it used to be.
* ''Webcomic/SplitScreen'': Jeremy's wife and child are practically the third and fourth main characters of the comic, despite having been killed three years prior to the comic's start.
* Joshua Shephard of ''Webcomic/TheSilverEye'' died a number of years before the story's beginning, but quite a few of the flashbacks are from his point of view.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The first student to die in v1 of ''SurvivalOfTheFittest'' is a kid on the plane shot for wearing his hat sideways, due to [[BigBad Danya's]] hatred of "punks". From there to the very end of the game, this student is never mentioned again, or even named, until endgame when Adam reflects back on the student's execution and remembers how he had been back in school, finally revealing to the reader the character's name and personality. It finally comes full circle to the boy being shot just for wearing his hat sideways, giving the reader a whole new perspective on a boy who had originally just been [[ThrowawayCountry a throw away redshirt.]]
* In the ''LeagueOfIntergalacticCosmicChampions'' Qunicy Rnager, who was created to make fun of another author's typo & killed by an exploding spell checker in his first appearance, only to be fleshed out afterwards & even made an appearance in a time travel storyline.
* A number of characters in ''ThereWillBeBrawl'' fall under this trope, but the really notable one is mob boss [[{{Pokemon}} Mewtwo]], who had been killed early on in the series, [[spoiler: but was later revealed to have been the ones to cultivate the psychic powers of Ness and Lucas, who turn out to have been the serial killers all along.]]
* ''NewYorkMagician'' eventually has [[spoiler:Michel's grandma]].
* Learning Larry, the host of the ShowWithinAShow, dies at the start of Paul and Storm's series ''WebOriginal/LearningTown''. He is then seen often in flashbacks and dream sequences, and his ghost appears in the first season finale.
* ''{{Kagerou Project}}'': Ayano. She committed suicide two years to the day before the main plot begins, yet she is linked to almost every main character in some way (she was friends with Shintaro, Takane[[spoiler:/Ene]] and Haruka[[spoiler:/Konoha]], is Hiyori's niece, was [[spoiler:the older adoptive sibling]] of Kido, Seto and Kano and is Kenjirou's daughter) and her actions lead directly to [[spoiler:the formation of the Mekakushi Dan]]. It is revealed during her personal song ''Ayano's Theory of Happiness'' that she committed suicide in an effort to [[spoiler:obtain an eye power, but didn't realise people have to die ''in pairs'' to get one]], because she discovered exactly what her father was [[MadScientist up to]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* Hamato Yoshi in ''[[WesternAnimation/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtles2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)]]'' is one of these. After appearing in occasional flashbacks, [[ADayInTheLimelight he is the focus]] of the series' hundredth episode.
* Dr. Jonas Venture, Sr. in ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' has been dead for about 20 years before the series begins, but he is still shown through flashbacks, visions, and "safety" films. [[spoiler:Many of these show how Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture's life got so messed up by him despite Venture Sr.'s '50s dad clean-cut image.]]
* Katara and Sokka's mother from ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'' is one of these. Princess Ursa (Zuko and Azula's mom) could be considered one of these, even though it's implied she's still alive.
** There's also Fire Lord Sozin, who started the war that series plot revolves around, but only appears in one flashback episode. Fire Lord Azulon, as well.
** Then there's Monk Gyatso, Avatar Roku, Avatar Kyoshi, and Lu Ten, all of whom are important to the plot, but are long dead before the series began. This is the implication of a series set 100 years later and with reincarnation; someone close to the cast will inevitably have died, either due to extreme old age or the main character himself (since it wouldn't be reincarnation if there wasn't a dead guy to begin with).
* Due to the TimeSkip between ''Avatar'' and SequelSeries ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', essentially every character from the original series barring Katara and Zuko is dead, [[spoiler:although Aang shows up at the end of the series in a vision, just as his predecessor did for him in the original series]].
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': Snowball I, the original family cat, who died some time before "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" (the first episode of the TV series to be aired), and had made no appearances beforehand, either in the episodes which preceded it production-wise or the Tracey Ullman shorts. She has been seen in family photographs and flashbacks (and also in a near-death experience of Bart's), and many of the tie-in books are dedicated to her memory.
** In the episode "Stark Raving Dad", Lisa also mentions having a pet hamster named Snuffy who died, though no other reference has been made to him since.
*** In the episode "On A Clear Day I Can't See My Sister", Lisa mentions that Bart once comforted her when her pet hamster died.
*** In "The Boys of Bummer", Lisa mentions that Bart had a rabbit named Cottontail that Homer apparently {{buried alive}}.
** Other good examples are the town's founder Jebediah Springfield and Clancy Bouvier, Marge's father.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'': Many of Fry's relatives and former acquaintances are introduced this way, notably his dog in "Jurassic Bark". With all the time traveling going on in that series, though, many examples may turn out to be subversions of the trope. (Under what category fall the heads of presidents that were actually dead before the show started?)
* Joshua and Margaret from ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' are this. It is unknown how they died, but there are frequent views of them from the past via flashback, picture, video, etc.
* [[BlueBeetle Ted Kord]] (as well as his predecessor, Dan Garret) in ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice''.
** Ted was also a PosthumousCharacter in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'', appearing only in {{Flashback}} episodes and time travel stories.
* Castle Greyskull may look like a skull, but it isn't grey. So how did it get its name? Answer: It was named after its original owner. An episode of ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse2002'' [[spoiler: told the story of King Greyskull, a legendary hero of Eternia. In fact, when Prince Adam chants [[CatchPhrase "By the power of Greyskull!"]], he is actually invoking King Greyskull's power, ''not'' the Castle's.]]
[[/folder]]

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