->''What was the start of all this?\\
When did the cogs of fate begin to turn?\\
Perhaps it is impossible to grasp that answer now\\
From deep within the flow of time...''
-->-- '''VideoGame/ChronoCross''' opening text

A single very significant moment, related to the fate of every single main character, and driving the entire plot, that happened before the beginning of the story.

That event will probably be discussed, interpreted, viewed through flashbacks, and a TheReveal might show its true meaning later. In cases where the characters have any way of interfering with the past, this event will be their target.

Since these these events are more exciting, and more detailed than your average [[{{Backstory}} background story]], they are frequently used as the setting for a {{Prequel}}.

The lines "Everything started x years ago", or "It all began when..." are very likely to be uttered.

See also GreatOffscreenWar. See also WhereItAllBegan.
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!!Examples:
[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''{{Naruto}}'', where the Fourth Hokage seals the Nine-Tailed Fox into a baby (Naruto) when the Fox attacked Konoha. The act cost the beloved Fourth Hokage his life, which becomes very significant later on. Later, we learn that [[spoiler: The Fourth Hokage is actually Naruto's father, and that Naruto's mother was the previous host of the Nine-Tailed Fox. Chapters 500 - 504 (or more) depict the events of that night, from their perspective.]]
** We get another one from the First Hokage himself [[spoiler: describing first his final battle with Madara, then flashing back to their childhood and the [[CrapsackWorld wartorn]] [[ForeverWar world]] both had to grow up in.]]
* ''Anime/TheBigO'': The disaster forty years earlier that destroyed civilization and caused universal amnesia in the inhabitants of Paradigm City.
* In ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'', the [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt Second Impact]].
* ''Literature/HaruhiSuzumiya'': "Three years ago", something paranormal happened, possibly the universe was created, or at least most of the main characters were retconned into existence. It's also a recurring time travel destination.
* ''HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi'': The curse of Oyashiro-sama. Either the first death five years prior to the story or Satoshi's disappearance one year prior.
* ''UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'': [[spoiler:The child from 18 years ago, the sin from six years ago, Battler abandoning his family 6 years ago, Beatrice dying 18 years ago, some of the children being born 18 years ago, etc.]]
* ''DragonBall'' has several of these, including the arrival of a lone Namekian on planet Earth and the destruction of the Saiyan homeworld.
** Also Goku being sent to Earth as an infant and losing his memories after hitting his head on a rock.
* ''NabariNoOu'': The "incident ten years ago", when the [[RealityWarper Shinrabanshou]] was used.
* The execution of Gold Roger, triggering ''OnePiece'''s great age of piracy.
* ''SteinsGate''
* In ''CodeGeass'', the invasion of Japan, and the attack on Lelouch's family.
* In ''DennouCoil'', there are three of these, five years ago, four years ago, and one year ago.
* In ''Manga/{{Inuyasha}}'' everything happened because of events from 50 years ago.
* In ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', Edward and Alphonse's disastrous attempt at bringing their mother back to life through human transmutation, and the Ishvalan War, which takes place a little bit before the former incident.
* In ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}!'', in 1711 aboard the Advena Avis, around thirty alchemists summon a 'demon' to grant them immortality. He gives it to them at no cost, tells them how to end it when they get [[WhoWantsToLiveForever tired of living]], and gives one of them the secret to making the elixir that grants it to anyone who drinks it. Mass murder ensues.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* The heist in ''Film/ReservoirDogs''.
* The oft-alluded-to discovery of warp flight and how it started the brand-new era of space travel in the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' verse, actually becomes the setting of the not-quite prequel ''Film/StarTrekFirstContact''. That movie also uses the first attempted Borg invasion as a second kind of backstory.
** ''[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries The Original Series]]'' episode "[[Recap/StarTrekS1E22SpaceSeed Space Seed]]" was the WhenItAllBegan for ''[[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan Wrath of Khan]]''.
* ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' starts with a narration by Jake Sully explaining how he wound up on Pandora. His twin brother Tom was supposed to go on an expedition to the planet, except he died in a grocery store robbery beforehand. The mortician who burns his body at the start of the film recommends as he does so that Jake go to Pandora himself for a fresh start.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''TreasureIsland'': Captain Flint buried his treasure on the island.
* From ''Literature/HarryPotter'', The first war with Voldemort, particularly the death of the Potter parents, Harry's marking, and Voldemorts downfall, all in a single scene.
* Robert's Rebellion from ''ASongOfIceAndFire''.
** And, for many characters, the tourney at Harrenhal in the year of the false Spring. The events that transpired over these three days led directly to the beginning of Robert's Rebellion.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''TheDukesOfHazzard'': The seventh-season premiere of the series saw the Dukes and Cooter say, "Happy Birthday, General Lee." The episode establishes several key things that became part of the official series' bible. Set in 1976 (more than two years before the series' premiere), Bo and Luke, freshly placed on probation for illegal transportation of alcohol, purchase a banged-up Dodge Charger to compete in one of Boss Hogg's races; Daisy is a recent high school graduate who gets a job at Hogg's Boar's Nest. The General Lee, in its previous life, had been owned by a jewel thief and his girlfriend, who after robbing a jewelry store stash the booty in the dashboard, but then crash the car. Since the car's owner was in jail and forfeited it, Bo and Luke are able to purchase the car, soup it up and use it to foil every one of Boss' countless schemes.
* [[spoiler:The nuclear holocaust of Old Earth]] in the revived ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|Reimagined}}''.
* ''[[EarthFinalConflict Earth: Final Conflict]]'' begins three years ''after'' the arrival of the Taelons.
* Khitomer in ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', as it had a profound effect on many of the characters, and the empires themselves.
* The Cardassian occupation of Bajor in ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine''. Almost all the non-Starfleet characters participated and lived through it, and many of the Starfleet characters were involved as well.
* The Time War in the revived ''Series/DoctorWho''.
** Somewhat coyly alluded to in the twentieth anniversary special, ''The Five Doctors": "So you're going to go on the run from your own people, in a rackety old TARDIS?" "Why not, that's how it all started!"
* ''[[Series.WarOfTheWorlds War of the Worlds]]'' (1988-1990) took place 35 years after the Martian invasion depicted in the 1953 George Pal movie.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' has this with the Unification War.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'''s antepenultimate episode, "Across the Sea," was a WholeEpisodeFlashback to the birth of Jacob and the Man in Black, revealing how they came to be who they are, which set in motion events continuing 2000 years into the future.
* ''Series/KamenRiderDouble'' has the "[[GratuitousEnglish Begins Night]]", the case in which Shotaro [[MyGreatestFailure accidentally caused the death of his mentor]], met his future partner Philip, and became Kamen Rider Double for the first time; it also qualifies for Philip because it marks the point where he starts taking responsibility for helping make [[AppliedPhlebotinum Gaia]] [[TransformationTrinket Memories]]. They actually use the term as a shorthand for this trope later on; when they meet [[SixthRanger Ryu Terui]], Philip comments that the murder of his family was his own personal Begins Night.
** Almost all the Double characters had their "Begins Nights", the events that make them the person/rider/monster they are. [[MentorArchetype Narumi]]'s Begins Night was when he first encountered the Dopants and was given his Driver and Gaia Memory from Shroud, while [[SuperSoldier Daido]] gets two. The first is when he dies and is the first subject of the [[BackFromTheDead NEVER experiment]] and the second is when he went to Island S where his mind practically unravels. As for Phillip, well, [[spoiler:his began the moment he fell into the Gaia Memory well, while his mother's began when she protested at her husband wanting to use Phillip to make Gaia Memories. The murderer of Ryu's family's night began when said mother gives ''him'' a Gaia Memory]].
* In ''Series/{{Merlin}}'', Queen Ygraine cannot concieve and so King Uther makes a deal with the enchantress Nimueh to provide him with a son. Unbeknownst to him, [[BalancingDeathsBooks someone must die in order for a life to be created]], and it ends up being Ygraine's. Thus, the future KingArthur is born, and a grief/guilt-stricken Uther imposes a ban upon all magic in the realm, thus setting up the conflict for the entirety of the show: that Merlin cannot reveal his magic to anyone.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* In Music/TheProtomen, Act II, the {{prequel}}, details how Dr. Wily took over, setting up the events of Act I.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Toys]]
* Just about everything in ''Franchise/{{BIONICLE}}'' can be traced back to either one of these two events:
** "The Great Cataclysm", when The Makuta cast Mata Nui into a deep slumber. Happened 1,000 years prior to the beginning of the story.
** "[[GreatOffscreenWar The Core War]]", when Spherus Magna was destroyed, which lead to the creation of the Matoran Universe. Happened 100,000 years prior.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The formation of The Philosophers in the Franchise/MetalGear franchise.
** Although it's not really apparent until the end of the series, pretty much ''everything'' that happens in the ''Franchise/MetalGear'' universe has its roots in [[spoiler:August 1964, the Virtuous Mission which sparked Operation Snake Eater and led to the creation of the Patriots]]
** Also the Boss's last wish: [[spoiler: a unified world]], which was shown in VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3, a prequel. Big Boss's and Zero's differing interpretations of that wish and how to fulfill it lead to almost everything that happens in the rest of the series, including the creation of Outer Heaven and the creation of [[spoiler: [[NebulousEvilOrganization the Patriots]]]], which leads directly to the events of VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2 and [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4 4]].
* The DL-6 incident from ''VisualNovel/AceAttorney''.
** In ''Investigations'' the KG-8 case fills a similar role for the new characters.
** The IS-7 incident in ''Investigations 2'' links everything together even moreso, [[spoiler:being the case that Gregory argued in court the day he was killed.]]
* ''VideoGame/GhostTrick'' has the incident in Temsik Park 10 years ago. [[spoiler:Lynne was taken hostage by Yomiel, who was fleeing Detective Jowd. Yomiel died from a Temsik shard to the back, but gained ghost tricks and an immortal, undead body. After [[GoMadFromTheIsolation sinking into darkness due to his isolation from humanity]], he set out to take his revenge on everyone involved, causing the deadly events of the game.]]
* ''FateStayNight'': [[FateZero The last Holy Grail War 10 years ago]], especially its final battle.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' has the 13 days prior to the start of the game in flashbacks throughout the main game, which manages to link all of the main characters to the plot by way of a single event.
* What happened in Nibelheim five years prior to the events of the game in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII''.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'', the Sorceress' War, 18 years before the game takes place, sets off the events of the game, though due to TimeTravel, the beginning point is itself affected during gameplay.
* ''TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'': [[spoiler:After the final boss, Demise, is defeated, he casts a curse on Link and Zelda, insinuating that anyone like them will be chased forever by "an incarnation of his hatred". This explains how Ganondorf keeps on coming back in later games, since Skyward Sword takes place before Ocarina of Time]]
* Almost all the events of the ''KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' games can be traced to Revan and Malak leading roughly half of the Jedi to fight in the Mandalorian Wars. And much of that can be narrowed down to the Battle of Malachor V, especially in the sequel.
** In the first game, Bastilla's defeat of Revan was also this.
* VideoGame/{{Bastion}}'s Calamity [[FramingDevice happens just before the game]]. Rucks says it best;
-->'''Rucks:''' ''"A proper story's supposed to start at the beginnin'... this one ain't so simple."''
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' has Shepard's visions from the Prothean Beacon lead them to Ilos, the location of the underground base where the last Prothean scientists worked and ultimately sacrificed themselves to delay the Reaper invasion of Shepard's time.
** The third game has Shepard return to Eden Prime, the location where they first had their vision.
* The events surrounding the death of Lord Indoril Nerevar several thousand years prior to the time the game takes place essentially establish the plot of ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind''. Throughout the game, the player can find RashomonStyle accounts from various parties which give conflicting reports of what happened there and who is to blame. [[CorruptChurch The Tribunal Temple]], the Dissident Priests, [[NobleSavage the Ashlanders]], [[BigBad Dagoth Ur]], [[PhysicalGod Vivec]], and [[TheChessmaster Azura]] all tell different stories. The actual truth is never revealed, leaving the player to make his or her own conclusions. All that is known for sure is that Nerevar was slain, the Tribunal and Dagoth Ur [[AGodAmI made themselves into gods]], and [[PowersThatBe Azura]] is not happy about it.
* ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' all started with the Keyblade War, warriors wielding Keyblades fought for the light with [[CosmicKeystone Kingdom Hearts]], but they ended up driving the light into the Realm of Darkness and fracturing the universe into hundreds of smaller worlds. The series has been one gigantic GambitPileup by the BigBad to forge the weapon that can unlock Kingdom Hearts for him.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Robopon}} 2'', Cody witnesses the destruction of Baba Village in the past, which has been a mystery for the entire game.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* ''{{Webcomic/Drive}}'': If it weren't for the fleeing pre-maker's actions, humanity wouldn't have gained access to the Ring Drive.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The extinction of the Air Nomads and the disappearance of the Avatar occurs 100 years before the beginning of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''.
* ReBoot season 4 gave several flashbacks to before the series began. These explained the origins of Megabyte and Hexadecimal and how the main characters were involved in it. A mix of NiceJobBreakingItHero from Bob and a GoneHorriblyWrong from Dot kickstarted everything.
[[/folder]]
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