Sometimes a work begins by showing us the main character as a child. It can also show us an important supporting character, but it's usually the main character. These kinds of introductions are barely longer than a few minutes at most, and they seldom affect the plot in any way other than being a way to highlight some basic character motivation, or perhaps provide the origin of some Catch Phrase
. After the introduction is done, we are transferred to the present day (often via Age Cut
) where the main character is grown up (and played by the featured actor or actress
May show them playing with a Weapon Jr.
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Anime and Manga
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure starts off with Jonathon Joestar and Dio Brando meeting as grade-school boys. Just a couple chapters later and we see them again as young adults.
- Tekken: The Motion Picture begins with a flashback with Kazuya Mishima and Jun Kazama as kids. This scene is very important for the plot later in the movie.
- Code Geass starts with a little kid version of Lelouch and Suzaku surrounded by smoking debris, implied to be the result of a Britainnian attack. Lelouch vows to oppose Britannia for as long as he lives. Cue opening song.
- Nightmare of Nunnally begins similarly, showing Nunnally and Lelouch at some point not long after their exile, with Lelouch promising to protect Nunnally.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS begins with Subaru as a kid being saved by Nanoha, motivating her to join the Time-Space Administration Bureau.
- The first chapter of Letter Bee shows a seven-year-old Lag Seeing being delivered to Cambel Litmus, establishing his goals of finding his mother and meeting Gauche again. By the end of the chapter, he's five years older, and ready to set out to become a Letter Bee.
- The title sequence of the Sailor Moon SuperS movie features the five main Sailor Soldiers as children.
- Fullmetal Alchemist starts out with a page of ten-year-old Ed, right after his failed human transmutation.
- The 2003 anime version likewise begins with said failed transmutation; two episodes later, we get the whole story.
- The first chapter of the One Piece manga does this with Luffy. (The anime however changes it into a flashback episode just after Zoro joins the crew.)
- Afro Samurai gives us one of these, introducing us to kid afro and providing him his motivation for the rest of the gore-fest to come.
- Love Hina. It features two of the protagonists; later it has a bit of a retcon that adds a third one.
- The first Fatal Fury OVA starts off with Terry and Andy (and Lily) as kids, and shows us the source of their motivation for the remainder of the cartoon.
- Special A begins with kid Hikari practicing martial arts with her father, and then kid Kei comes and defeats her easily, realeasing plot.
- Bakuman。 begins with Mashiro Moritaka getting a visit from his uncle Mashiro "Kawaguchi Taro" Nobuhiro (who is dead by the time the main story begins), who praises him for his artwork and suggests that he will be an artist when he grows up. Moritaka then notes that he wasn't referring to him becoming a mangaka.
- Hayate the Combat Butler begins with a flashback to Hayate's childhood where Santa tells Hayate that he wouldn't ever bring him a present, and provides one of the reasons why Hayate is so strong-willed.
- Arashino Yoru Ni begins with Mei (still a kid) being forced to run away when his mother is mauled to death by wolves. A kid is actually a baby goat.
- Saint Seiya Omega begins with the main character Kouga as a baby being taken care of by Saori, before Mars interrupts the family moment.
Film - Animation
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire begins with a young Kida crying for her mother, the former Queen of Atlantis as she is sacrificed by the Crystal to save her kingdom from a tidal wave. This fails, and as a result the Queen dies and Atlantis ends up underwater.
- Milo was also briefly shown as a child in both an old photograph of his as well as on an old film reel just right after the titles appear.
- Bolt starts up with the titular dog as a puppy getting adopted - whether this scene is a part of the Show Within a Show is left unclear, since the show's director favors Enforced Method Acting.
- Cinderella briefly shows the titular heroine as a little girl during the film's prologue.
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs opens with eight-year-old Flint showing off one of his first inventions, and later receiving his trademark labcoat from his mom.
- At the very beginning of Dinosaur, Zini is actually shown as a baby lemur alongside with a pregnant Plio during the scene where Aladar's egg is shown landing in a small bush on Lemur Island and immediately hatching out of said egg.
- At the very beginning of The Emperor's New Groove, Kuzco is briefly shown as a toddler just right after he is introduced in his llama form before cutting to his adult human form prior to his transformation.
- Frozen opens with Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Sven as children.
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, unlike the original, only briefly shows Kiara as a kid on the day she meets Kovu.
- Ariel was briefly shown as a little girl at the very beginning of The Little Mermaid III: Ariel's beginning.
- Megamind starts out with the title character narrating how both he and rival Metro Man landed on Earth as infants and then later encountered each other again in elementary school which sets up their rivalry.
- The Princess and the Frog opens with Tiana and Charlotte as little girls, hearing the story of... well, guess.
- At the very beginning of Sleeping Beauty, Prince Phillip for some reason, is a toddler at the same time Princess Aurora is a baby.
- In those days, it wouldn't be all that unusual for a girl to marry a boy several years older than she (think Romeo and Juliet, for example).
- And frankly, two or three years isn't a big deal now.
- Tangled begins with Rapunzel as a baby, then briefly shows her as a toddler and a young child before starting the main plot on her 18th birthday. These scenes are relevant, though, as they show Mother Gothel kidnapping Rapunzel from the castle and Rapunzel developing her obsession with the lanterns, both of which drive the plot throughout the entire movie.
- Andy Davis at the very beginning of Toy Story 3.
- Treasure Planet starts with Jim's mother telling a bed-time story about Captain Flint and the planet where he hid his treasure.
- Titan A.E. begins with Cale being escorted to an evac ship by his father who later says goodbye for the last time before boarding the Titan as the entire population of Earth abandons the planet before the Drej obliterate it.
- Up opens with Carl and Ellie meeting as little kids, and it does set up the rest of the movie... by showing how important they were to each other, and their united dream of seeing the wilds of South America.
Film - Live Action
- Discouraged and mocked as "The Long Runway" in How NOT to Write a Novel.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone starts with Harry being left to the Dursleys as a Doorstop Baby. The second chapter skips forward almost ten years to the preteen Harry we'll follow for the rest of the novel.
- The young adult editions of The Wheel of Time have a special prologue not present in the adult editions where we see the main characters as children listening to Tam's story of the Dragon. It's told from Egwene's point of view, but we see all the Emond's Fielders.
Live Action TV
- Each episode of Pushing Daisies typically starts with a look into the childhood of one of the characters. For most of the first season it was Ned, but later they added flashbacks of Chuck, Olive, Emerson, and even, in the last episode, Lily and Vivian.
- A handful of LOST episodes have a childhood flashback in the first act, followed by a later-life story in the remaining flashbacks. "White Rabbit" begins with a scene from Jack's childhood, "He's Our You" with Sayid's. "White Rabbit" actually keeps the child story going for a few flashbacks, probably because it shows Jack's relationship with his dad, who is dead for the rest of the episode.
- Nearly every episode of Psych starts with a "Young Shawn" sequence. One episode even began with a "Young Juliet" sequence.
- The pilot episode of Supernatural begins with Dean as a kid and Sam as a baby, on the night that their mother was killed.
- The Lone Gunmen frequently used this.
- Amy Pond is introduced this way in Doctor Who, and boy, does it have a lasting impact on her life!
- The first episode of Dharma and Greg opened on a subway with both characters with their parents just happening to be there at the same time, though they didn't actually meet.
- One episode of Firefly begins with a flashback to when Simon and River were children, mainly showing how close they were and how River was a playful, imaginative girl before her brain was hacked up. There are several other flashbacks, mainly dealing with Simon trying to rescue River, but none have them as children.
- A few episodes of Frasier open with Frasier and Niles as children, generally to establish that whatever behavior will drive the plot of the episode has been going on since childhood.
- Scenes between young Jaron and Younger Sydney (the latter still played by Patrick Bauchau) were close to a Once an Episode feature on The Pretender.
- Never Wipe Tears Without Gloves introduces Benjamin and Rasmus as children.
- Smallville: The first episode's prologue is this to Clark Kent and Lex Luthor.
- Star Trek: Voyager. Two episodes focusing on Tuvok and Chakotay had an introduction showing them as Former Teen Rebels who rejected their cultures.
- Sound Horizon's Moira begins by showing the twins of fate as children. In the span of one song they turn from kids to adults.
- The first scene of the musical On Your Toes shows Phil Dolan III as a child doing a vaudeville act ("Two-a-Day for Keith") with his parents, Phil II and Lil. The rest of the play takes place 15 years later.
- The25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee opens with one of the announcers for the titular bee winning the 3rd Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
- In Les Misérables, we are introduced to Cosette and Eponine when they are children. Cosette gets her song "Castle on a Cloud", to establish how she's miserable and dreams of someone taking her away and loving her. Eponine doesn't do much, but her mother does compliment the hat she wears, to emphasize how Eponine is spoiled and favored, compared to Cosette.
- The first Golden Sun started with Isaac and Garet as kids, during the tragedy in which Isaac's father, Jenna's parents and Jenna's brother lost their lives but it turns out they actually lived.
- Fallout 3's tutorial starts with the player character's birth and there's a short section where one must play as a baby.
- One of the greatest examples of a Justified Tutorial in all of gaming. The game teaches you how to walk because you are a baby, and as you grow from a newborn to an infant to a preteen to an older teen to a young adult, you learn to interact with things, talk to other people, use items, and (yes) use weapons.
- Dragon Quest V opens with the main character's birth, and starts you off playing as a five-year-old.
- Both Fable games set up the plot this way. The first with your town being destroyed and your father getting killed while your mother is sent to prison and your sister kidnapped by bandits, the second when your sister is killed in front of you.
- In Breath of Fire II, the player starts out as a child, who goes to find his sister Yua and protects her from monsters, only to return and find out that no one in the town remembers him because Aruhamel wiped everyone's memories and abducted his father and sister. He meets his fellow orphan, Bow, and the two become Rangers together years later.
- Assassin's Creed II has Ezio's introduction as a new-born where we get to move our arms and legs a bit.
- Assassin's Creed III similarly introduces Connor as a child.
- The Godfather begins with Aldo witnessing his father's murder and the destruction of their family bakery by the Barzinis and Don Corleone's promise that he'll be able to take his revenge. Flash forward nine years...
- Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition opens with a "Ten Years Ago" sequence showing young Terry and Andy. It's the day when Geese Howard killed their father.
- Tales of Graces has its entire first chapter focus on several of the playable characters as kids, followed by a Time Skip after a key plot event.
- Overlord II opens up with the Overlad, the son of the previous Overlord. We take control of him as he spends the evening terrorizing the other children of the village, responding to their snowballs with lightning, and hanging out with his only friend Kendra. Then the Anti-magic forces of the Glorious Empire and the Minions find him at the same time, bringing him to Gnarl. One years-long Time Skip later and Gnarl has raised the creepy little tyke into a fearsome new Overlord ready to topple the Empire.
- Tsukihime's intro is about when Shiki met Sensei right after his accident at age nine, an immensely important time in life for a bunch of reasons. The non spoiler one is that this is when his eyes activated and got his Mystic Eye killer glasses. And learned slicing stuff in half for shits and giggles wasn't nice.
- Fetch Quest: Saga of the Twelve Artifacts first introduces us to young Saffron Lachesis, when she gets the gift of a cane sword from her father, the King of Strife.
- The Order of the Stick book Start of Darkness begins with a single page showing us a four-year-old Xykon crying over the death of his pet dog. By the end of the page, he's zombified the dog by accident, then delighted as it devoured a bird's brain.
- Joseph And Yusra's first chapter deals with how the two became friends around the age of six before jumping to their teenaged years.
- In Drowtales, Ariel is introduced as a baby in the first page of chapter 1. Next time we see her, she is a 10 years old child.
- The Legend of Korra introduces Korra as a pudgy, spirited four-year-old Child Prodigy who has already begun to bend water, earth, and fire, proving beyond a doubt her Avatar status to the Order of the White Lotus. "I'm the Avatar, you gotta deal with it!" A scene of her lighting a small, candleflame-sized fire Age Cuts to her at seventeen in a training duel against two firebenders, clearly having mastered firebending.
- In VeggieTales, this is done as a tribute to Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade. "Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Noah's Umbrella" starts off with Minnesota, Marten, and the Scallions as kids.
- Like the original films, Superman: The Animated Series begins its 3 episode pilot with the Man of Steel as a baby. We don't see him full grown until halfway through part two.
- The Codename: Kids Next Door TV movie "Operation: Z.E.R.O." opens with a flashback on two brothers discovering The Book of KND and overthrowing Grandafther. Those boys turn out to be Monty Uno (aka Numbuh Zero) and his brother Benedict (aka Father).
- Samurai Jack begins with the title character as a child. After he has to flee his home, we see a montage of him going all over the world, training with various people and cultures, until he returns home as an adult.