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Back for the Finale
"Ha ha ha! Final episode stunt casting!"
Phil Ken Sebben, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law

When a character who has left the series returns for the Grand Finale, or the final film in the series.

A subtrope of The Bus Came Back.

Not to be confused with Last Episode New Character. When everybody comes back, it's a Continuity Cavalcade. Can overlap with Chekhov's Gunman, if the returning character previously had a very minor role in the plot but ends up playing a large part in the climax of the story, or Climactic Battle Resurrection.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • Great Mazinger: Nearly all Mazinger Z characters were Put on a Bus in the end of the last episode of the series. However, three of them -The Hero Kouji Kabuto, Action Girl Sayaka Yumi and The Professor Yumi- returned during the final arc of the sequel to help to take down the Mykene Empire.
  • In Pokémon, many of Ash's pre-Sinnoh Pokémon show up for the Sinnoh League, including his newly-evolved Quilava.
  • During the final chapters of Dragon Ball, virtually every single character who ever appeared in the entire series is shown giving Goku their energy for the final Spirit Bomb. Except Launch, because Akira Toriyama had forgotten she existed.
    • The anime rectifies this by giving Launch a cameo.
    • In the finale of Dragon Ball GT, everyone in the universe contributed to the Spirit Bomb.
  • Gurren Lagann plays with it - Kamina comes Back from the Dead late into the series to give some encouraging words to Simon, but he doesn't stick around after he leaves the Multi-Dimensional Labyrinth. However, in The Movie, he's reincarnated in the form of the team's ultimate mecha, the Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
  • Fran's dream in the final chapter of Franken Fran has every single character (even the whale girl and the Flying Spaghetti Monster) attending a party.
  • The final episode of the Mega Man Star Force anime has all the characters at one of the main characters' concerts. While looking around with his See-Thru Specs, Geo sees all of the FMians from the first season of the show in the background, watching along with their former hosts. This would make much more sense if they weren't all dead, already.
  • Yugi (from the original Yu-Gi-Oh!) shows up to play Jaden for the last duel of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
    • For that matter, in the original manga, Kaiba, who'd been written out after Battle City, returned for a cameo in the final chapter.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 2 has Speedwagon (who was recovering after his unfortunate run-in with Those Wacky Nazis), Smokey Brown (who was caring for Joseph Joestar's grandmother while he was away), and Stroheim (who got badly damaged during an earlier fight with Kars) appear to help Joseph fend off an army of vampires while he fights Kars.
  • Toward the end of Cowboy Bebop, Faye sees one of the hosts of the recurring Show Within a Show Big Shot (which had announced its cancellation in an earlier episode) in an airport.
  • Kaiba shows up at the last page of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, after he had not appeared since the end of the Battle City arc.
  • The human cast of Transformers Armada appeared in the last episode of Transformers Cybertron...
  • Slayers Next ends with, among other things, the wedding of Martina and Zangulus. Vrumugun, one of a set of sorcerer copies who aided Zangulus in battle in the original series, can be seen in the audience. Without a gem on his forehead, suggesting that he may be the original.
  • The final episode of Princess Tutu features several cameos from some of the one-shot character—mostly as hapless victims for the Raven.

     Comic Books 

  • The final issue of Teen Titans vol. 3 (fittingly enough, issue #100) has a large number of former Titans showing up for the Grand Finale battle against Superboy-Prime. A number of characters who'd been written out of the book such as Blue Beetle, Miss Martian, Aquagirl, Bombshell and Damian Wayne were among those who showed up for the battle.

     Film 
  • George (Jeffrey Weisman) and Lorraine McFly (Lea Thompson), and Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson), all return for one of the final scenes of Back to the Future Part III, although Thompson and Wilson had played their characters' ancestors in 1885 for most of the film.
  • Lampshaded in Flags of Our Fathers, one of the generals complains about how everyone in the army wants to get to Tokyo for the "big finish".
  • Spy Kids3: Game Over brought virtually all the characters who appeared in the last two movies.
  • Dr. Lawrence Gordon comes back for Saw 3D. He hasn't been seen since the original Saw, six movies ago.
  • Wesley reappears in Star Trek: Nemesis.
    • Albeit only briefly, and only in the widescreen version. He was originally supposed to have a short scene with Picard and Dr. Crusher explaining how he's going to serve on a new ship (the Titan), but it was cut very early in the editing process. Wil Wheaton has the full explanation on his blog.
  • Fredericks from The Dark Knight Saga fits the description. In the first movie, he was a minor supporting character played by Chris Nolan's uncle, notable for remarking that "the apple has fallen very far from the tree, Mr. Wayne." While he appeared in one of the viral "Gotham Tonight" videos, he was absent from the second movie. He returns for the final part of the trilogy, though, and his role is a bit more pivotal than before.
  • The Adam Sandler comedy Big Daddy ends with a celebration at a restaurant for Sonny Koufax's birthday party attended (or at least visited by) no fewer than nine of Sonny's friends and foes throughout the course of the movie; this includes a surprise final appearance by Vanessa and Sid, who have not appeared on screen for about an hour and have been barely even referred to in the film's dialogue since. There had also been a slightly earlier scene set in a courtroom featuring even more minor characters appearing as witnesses in Sonny's trial after he defrauds the New York social services department, with the prosecuting attorney pointing out that Sonny is "parading his buddies" through the courtroom instead of summoning credible witnesses.
  • Similarly, Disney's Alice in Wonderland features a climactic trial with characters from throughout the movie appear as witnesses at Alice's trial for "making the Queen lose her temper"; this being Wonderland, of course, none of the testimonies are particularly helpful. The scene ends with all of these characters forming a huge mob and chasing Alice out of Wonderland.
  • Spoofed (and lampshaded by the creators in the DVD commentary) at the end of Bubble Boy when almost every single human and animal character from the movie's entire running time gets shoehorned into the final scene, including a random vulture.

     Literature 
  • Near the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, many of Harry's allies gather at Hogwarts just before the final battle with Voldemort and the Death Eaters.
    • The whole book itself would qualify: it's easier to list the characters that don't come back to make an appearance in this book. Even if they're dead.
  • The Last Battle, the final book in the Narnia series, sees just about every character ever mentioned in the entire series showing up for the climax.

     Live Action TV 
  • Ally McBeal: Billy, big love of Ally's life who deceased unexpectedly.
  • The Amazing Race has all the eliminated teams at the Finish Line to cheer on the Final 3.
  • Ashes to Ashes brought back Nelson, who owned the Railway Arms in Life On Mars as some sort of St Peter figure who guides all the dead coppers to heaven. The series creators also considered bringing back John Simm as Sam Tyler, but it was decided that his presence might detract from Alex Drake's (Keeley Hawes) story, and they wanted the focus to be on her.
  • Several characters from the first seasons returned for the Grand Finale of the Peruvian TV series Asi Es La Vida, to rescue the current protagonists that had been kidnapped by the Big Bad.
  • Susan Ivanova (Claudia Christian) appeared in the finale of Babylon 5, after being absent for the entire final season. However, this was because a shooting schedule shuffle when the possibility of a fifth season was uncertain due to network issues. B5 got the season, but Christian didn't return for the final season.
  • Lt Buck Compton in Band of Brothers.
  • In the finale of Barney Miller, Barney flashes back to scenes with Nick, Chano, Fish and Wentworth.
  • Blakes Seven brought Blake back for the final episode, and had him bloodily shot dead. This was because the actor was fed up with the part and wanted it to be unambiguously the last time he would have to play the role in case the show got Un-Cancelled.
  • Bones brought back Zack for the season 4 finale.
  • In the series finale of Breaking Bad, Walt tracks down Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz and forces them into an elaborate plan to get his drug money to his children. He also enlists Badger and Skinny Pete for the plan, after they had all but vanished from the show.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Angel appears in the last two episodes of Buffy.
    • And Faith in the last five of Buffy.
    • The Buffy season 2 finale "Becoming" brought back every major character from the first 2 seasons who wasn't dead... And a couple who were.
    • Giles returns for the Season 6 finale of Buffy, after his departure in episode 8 of the season.
    • Some of the former regulars are in season 7 of Buffy in spirit. Oz got a casual mention from Xander and Cordelia appeared in a piece of footage from "Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered".
    • Oz's final on-screen appearance is in Willow's dream in the season 4 finale of Buffy, "Restless".
    • Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy, for those of you under a rock) offered to return for Angel 's series finale, but Joss Whedon turned her down because he wanted the finale to be about Angel and the gang, not about any guest star. However, the finale did bring back Lindsey.
    • Connor also came back for the Angel finale. "You stop by for a cup of coffee and the world's not ending? Please."
  • The Series Finale of Charmed had recurring characters Victor Bennet, Grams, Future Wyatt, and Patty return along with old leads Leo and Future Chris. Shannen Doherty did not return though, because of a variety reasons but most notably 1) Because she was too expensive and 2) She said no.
  • Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) returned for the Grand Finale of Cheers.
  • Desperate Housewives brought back Katherine Mayfair (Dana Delaney, who had her own series at the time) for the finale, along with many characters who were killed on Wysteria Lane over the seasons.
  • Walter was brought back for the finale of A Different World just in time to see Dwayne and Whitley off to their new life in Japan, but not Denise, Stevie, Lettie, Maggie, or Millie.
  • ''Doctor Who
    • The New Who series 4 finale brings back Harriet Jones, Sarah Jane Smith (and her son and living computer), Captain Jack (and his Torchwood co-stars), Martha Jones, Rose, Jackie, Mickey, Davros and Dalek Caan.
    • And in the 2009 Christmas specials that finished the Davies/Tennant era, they brought back the Master and the Time Lords, including Rassilon. The Doctor also takes the time to visit all of his regular companions from that incarnation before regenerating, and the bar he finds Jack at contains most of the aliens introduced in the new series.
    • In the series 5 finale, "The Pandorica Opens" / "The Big Bang", everyone from Liz Ten to Winston and Bracewell to Vincent to River Song is back for the finale.
    • The series 6 finale brings back characters from earlier in the season (Dorium), the previous season (Winston Churchill and the Silurian Malokeh), and a one-episode star from back in 2005 (Charles Dickens).
    • The 2013 Christmas special that finished Matt Smith's run as the Doctor brought back Amy Pond, as a hallucination in the Doctor's mind, wishing her Raggedy Man goodnight.
    • Spinoff Torchwood's season 2 finale brought back Captain John Hart, as well as Jack's brother Gray, previously seen only in flashback.
  • Ray Vecchio returned for the two-part finale of Due South.
  • The Grand Finale of Earth: Final Conflict brings back Liam Kincaid, who was missing for the whole final season and presumed dead, just in time to help stop the season's Big Bad Howlyn from unleashing a powerful Atavus warship and an army of Atavus warriors on the unsuspecting Earth. Surprisingly, no one else came back.
  • A number of old characters made appearances in the last few episodes of ER, including, most notably, Drs Carter, Corday, Weaver, and (via flashback) Greene.
    • Dr. Ross (George Clooney) and Nurse Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) also made an appearance together in an episode the last season.
    • Corday, Benton, and Lewis also returned for the final episode (and Benton even managed to appear in an episode before that). In addition, Romano returned in the same flashback episode as Greene (this due to Romano also being Killed Off for Real in Season 10).
  • The series finale of Eureka brought back Jordan Hinson as Zoe Carter.
    • Brought back Matt Frewer as Taggart as well. Even had him chasing down the dog Lojack.
  • "The Peacekeeper Wars", the Wrap It Up for Farscape, brought back departed regular character Jool, only to kill her off as a Kick the Dog moment for the villains.
  • The series finale of Frasier brought back Anthony La Paglia as Simon, Daphne's brother.
  • Fringe brought back Lincoln and Altlivia in the first hour of the two-part finale. The various means the team uses to battle the Observers is also a greatest-hits collection of prior Fringe events.
  • Steve, DJ's boyfriend in Full House.
  • Gossip Girl had Jenny and Eric returning for Serena and Dan's wedding; the finale also saw Juliet, Vanessa and others in cameos finding out Dan was Gossip Girl.
  • Carol Seaver on Growing Pains; the actress who played her suffered from anorexia, and while she was being treated her character was Put on a Bus to London to explain her absence. But she was allowed to come back for the series finale.
  • The Happy Days finale had Richie and Lori Beth turning up for Joanie and Chachi's wedding.
  • Head of the Class: precocious pre-teen Janice, who was already several years ahead in school, had left high school early to attend college, returned for Graduation.
  • The final two-part episode of Highlander: The Series featured the returns of Tessa and Richie, as the episode took place in a world where Duncan MacLeod never existed.
  • In an alternate ending, The Hills saw the return of Lauren Conrad, who had left the show two seasons prior.
  • The series ending movie of Homicide Life on the Street included every single regular the series had, including those who had been killed off.
  • House brought back Cameron, Stacy, Masters, Dominika, and Chase (who admittedly hadn't been gone for very long), though some of them were cameos of the "hey look, there's X in the third row" variety. Kutner and Amber also reappeared as hallucinations.
  • During the last season of How I Met Your Mother, most of the minor characters came back for a cameo or "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue moment. Many were done in a 30-second montage in the penultimate episode before the finale (Ted even remembers Blah Blah's name, finally.)
  • The final episode of Hustle features the return of Stacie. Also of Danny, but we don't find that out til the end.
  • The season 4 finale of Leverage brings characters from as far back as season one. Nate's father Jimmy Ford plays a very prominent role in it. His ex-wife Maggie is gathered to help with the con along with, Hardison's Evil Counterpart Chaos, Eliot's Not-as-Evil Counterpart Quinn and Parker's adoptive father Archie. The villain is Victor Dubenich, the series very first Villain of the Week.
  • The sixth season of LOST had the flash-sideways timeline, which allowed for dead or disappeared characters to return. The actual series finale brought back Shannon, Boone, Juliet, Daniel, Charlotte, Libby, Charlie, Christian, Rose, Bernard, Penny, Dr. Chang, Eloise Hawking and John Locke. (The rest of the final season also saw the return of Arzt, Frogurt, Alex, Danielle, Roger Linus, Keamy and Omar, Ana Lucia, Anthony Cooper, Helen, Nadia, Michael, George Minkowski, Mikhail, Marshal Mars and Ethan)
    • Walt shows up in the epilogue.
    • Mr. Eko was also supposed to appear in the final episode, but contract talks with the actor broke down.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show finale had appearances from Rhoda and Phyllis, both of whom had long since departed for their respective spinoff shows. They even appeared in the end credits curtain call.
  • Although not a series regular, Major Sidney Freedman (Alan Arbus) returned for the M*A*S*H finale and was a major (sorry) character in it.
  • The third season finale of Merlin brought back Lancelot, Elyan, Leon and Gwain as future knights of the Round Table. Also returning wasExcalibur and Freya, the Lady of the Lake. Among the villains Cenred and Morgause made their appearances.
    • Merlin's mother Hunith return in the first part of the two-part fourth season finale, after a three year hiatus.
    • And for the series finale, Balinor reappears as a spirit.
  • In a subversion, Sharona Fleming from Monk is supposed to 'fly in' during the last episode of the sixth season. Then the problem resolves itself, and she never shows up.
  • Murphy Brown brought back Phil for the series finale despite the fact that he had died: his death was retconned as having been faked by the CIA due to Phil knowing too much about Whitewater.
    • While Phil is the most surprising example, the finale also brought back Miles and Eldon, both of whom had been absent for some time.
  • A strange, extended version of this trope was used in the series finale of Newhart. For the series finale, they actually brought back Bob Newhart's wife from The Bob Newhart Show. This was used to reveal that the entire series was All Just a Dream.
    • And in a TV special about that show, in which Bob is shown dealing with this dream, at the very end he meets a trio of elevator repairmen who introduce themselves by saying, "Hi, I'm Larry, this is my brother Daryl ..."
  • Medavoy came back for a minute in the last NYPD Blue after retiring an episode or two before.
  • The Office (US) appears to be spreading this out over its entire final season. So far we've seen Roy, Jan, David Wallace, and Gabe.
    • Also, Ryan and Kelly are due to be back for the finale, after leaving at the beginning of Season 9 due to the actors' commitments to The Mindy Project.
    • Steve Carell returns as Michael Scott in the finale to be the best man at Dwight and Angela's wedding.
  • Once Upon a Time: The season one finale brought back the Huntsman and Maleficent in the fairytale world. Belle also returns, in Storybrooke. (Maleficent's other form appeared in Storybrooke as well but she herself did not.)
  • Robert Leckie, despite being one of the three protagonists of The Pacific, is absent for several episodes in the series' latter half and reappears only in the finale.
  • The Practice ended with Eugene Young being on trial for being an Amoral Attorney, and Bobby Donnel returning to defend him.
  • Prison Break's broadcast finale does this to the point of Continuity Cavalcade - and to the point where it makes the absence of the few major characters who DON'T return really, really noticeable. Sucre, C-Note, Kellerman, Sofia and Felicia all make an appearance, with Kellerman's being the most notable since he had been dead for two seasons and provided the Deus ex Machina.
  • During the reunion shows for The Real Housewives, controversial side characters are brought back for confrontations with the main cast.
  • The Sheriff of Nottingham and Marian came back for the final episode of Robin Hood, the former after a Not Quite Dead situation, and the latter for a Together in Death scene with Robin.
  • Roswell's penultimate episode saw the return of Tess, who bore Max's child in season two. She doesn't stay for the last episode, and is only there to quickly close the main arc in season three.
  • Hilda returned for Sabrina's wedding in the finale of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which to be fair is certainly a good reason to return... except that it drew attention to all the people who weren't making a cameo (like Valerie).
  • Scrubs, via a JD-fantasy.
    • There were some notable absences. Lisa the gift shop girl and Franklyn the lab tech weren't allowed to come back by the show's former network NBC. Jordan's siblings were both absent, as were Dr. Molly Clock, Dr. Kevin Casey, and Dr. Miller, and recurring patient Harvey Corman. But the most inexplicable absence was Doug the mortician, who had appeared earlier in the season and had no known conflicts.
  • The final episode of Seinfeld had many minor characters on the show coming back to testify against them. Larry David, who was the showrunner until season 7 and wrote many episodes also came back to write the finale.
  • The Show Within a Show in the final episode of Sliders had The Professor show up and save everyone.
  • Smallville's final season has featured the returns of Jonathan Kent, Brainiac, Lionel Luthor, Chloe Sullivan, Kara Kent, Zod, and Martha Kent. Along with Lex Luthor, Chloe Sullivan, Lionel Luthor, Martha Kent, and Jonathan Kent return again in the actual finale.
  • The final episode of Spooks has a brief appearance by Tom Quinn, one of the few major characters to get Put on a Bus instead of Killed Off for Real when leaving the show.
  • It's pretty clear that Stargate Atlantis brought back everyone they could get from SG1 and Atlantis for the series finale (one can only assume that Richard Dean Anderson was unavailable).
  • The last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation saw the return of recurring villain/ally Q, Lt. Tasha Yar and Miles O'Brien, who was by then a regular on Deep Space Nine and had not appeared since season 6.
    • Star Trek: Voyager's finale featured a cameo by Neelix, as well as a couple of other recurring characters including Admiral Paris, and Lt. Barclay, as well as the Borg Queen, played by Alice Krige herself.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had everyone who was ever a recurring character on the show back, most out of makeup in the Sisko / Vic duet scene. The only glaring absence was Terry Farrell, who didn't even appear in archive footage.
  • Carey, Kurt, and Arwin were brought back for the finale of The Suite Life on Deck, but not Marcus
  • Eric left That 70s Show after the end of the seventh season, and Kelso left four episodes into the eighth. Both return for the final episode (or rather, final scene in Eric's case). Counts in-universe too, as the series finale was New Year's Eve 1979.
  • Jimmy Doherty (Eddie Cibrian), Kim Zambrano (Kim Raver) and "Doc" Parker (Michael Beach) returned for Third Watch's finale, although only Doc had lines.
  • Ugly Betty starts this early, with Gio and Christina coming back in the third to last episode, Henry in the penultimate ep, and Connor for the finale.
  • The Season Four finale of The Walking Dead contains several flashbacks with characters who had died earlier in the season, including Karen, Patrick, and especially Herschel.
  • This trope can apply to whole networks too. Michigan J. Frog returned for the final week of The WB before the launch of The CW, having disappeared from The WB's imaging two years earlier.
  • In The West Wing, one of the final episodes was Leo McGarry's funeral, which was attended by a number of characters that hadn't been seen for a long time.
    • Sam Seaborn also returned to the series for the last few episodes. There was some talk of Aaron Sorkin coming back to write the final episode, but the idea fell through.
  • The Wire pulls this off spectacularly over the course of its final season with every living major character and many minor ones making cameos across the season. Surprisingly, all of them feel natural and don't interfere a bit with shows realism as most of the characters return for about 1 or 2 seasons and most of the previously departed characters had not been said to have ever left Baltimore making it all rather plausible.
  • Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) from The X-Files left the show at the end of season 7, returned for the second half of season 8, and for the last season only appeared in the finale. Alex Krycek, Marita Covarrubias, Gibson Praise, Jeffrey Spender, Knowle Rohrer, Mr. X, all three of the Lone Gunmen, and the Cigarette-Smoking Man also returned. Notably, about half of those characters were already dead.
  • Chase, who got Put on a Bus, for the finale of Zoey 101.

    Manhwa 

     Video Games 
  • Many characters from previous Quest for Glory games return for the finale Quest for Glory V these include, but are not limited to:
  • Almost everyone who hasn't died in one of the previous games, and several who have, return for the Grand Finale of the Metal Gear series: Metal Gear Solid 4.
    • This aspect of Metal Gear Solid 4 deserves a specific mention: Big Boss is back. The credits begin to roll on a decidedly somber note and then they pause on "Richard Doyle - Big Boss". The player is given about three seconds to think, "Wait, I don't recall seeing him in -" and then bam, he's standing in the graveyard with Snake. He comes back for the finale of the finale and turns Snake's specific downer ending into more of a bittersweet one.
    • There is only one notable surviving character from the previous MGS games who never shows up: Nastasha Romanenko.
  • Telltale's Sam & Max: Freelance Police:
    • "Bright Side of the Moon", the finale of season 1, features returning characters from every earlier episode.
    • "What's New Beelzebub", the finale of season 2, features the return of everybody from the last two seasons.
    • "The City that Dares Not Sleep", the season 3 finale, features the season's only appearance of Sybil, Abe, Mr. Featherly, and Satan.
  • Rusty Galloway, one of Cole's partners from way earlier in game, shows up briefly in the final case.
  • Mass Effect 3 lets you re-recruit Liara and Ashley / Kaidan, who were in the second game but either had their own stuff to do or refused to work with Cerberus. Kirrahe, Dr Michel, Jenna (the undercover C-Sec agent), Engineer Adams, Balak, the Rachni Queen and other NPCs also make reappearances (assuming they're still alive).
  • Happens at the end of every Ace Attorney game. The first game has Larry, the second Lotta, the third Edgeworth, the fourth Kristoph, and the fifth Apollo. That's not even counting the credits montage that's each character talking to Phoenix/Apollo in turn.
    • The Phoenix Wright examples go further, with Will Powers appearing at the end of JFA and Larry appearing in T&T (Adrian Andrews appears as well, but only on Case 2 and in the post-credits).
    • Additionally, Wendy Oldbag from Phoenix Wright games 1 and 2 appears in a brief Post Credits Sequence at the end of T&T.
    • Further, Mike Meekins, from case 1-5, appears in the flashback case in the 4th game, and in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, along with the aforementioned Wendy Oldbag and Larry Butz.
  • All the ghosts of the dead characters in Final Fantasy II appear briefly at the end in the castle. In the bonus "Dawn of Souls" mode in the GBA and PSP rereleases, you control all the dead people on a quest through the afterlife to defeat the game's Big Bad one last time.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, every party member and ally you've met in the game reappears to wish you well and heal you from Zeromus's Total Party Kill attack. Even the dead ones.
  • The World Ends with You has Joshua coming back after having been dead. He's God, so it's okay.
    • As well as Shiki for the final battle.
  • The Reconstruction has this, though it's done in a rather depressing manner. Yacatec appears in the final dungeon as a slave, and helps you get through said dungeon after you free him.
  • Larax, the protagonist of Imperivm, returns at the third installment of the saga (the last one in terms of gameplay) to assist Viriathus in his fight against the city of Saetabis.
  • The last Game Boy Mega Man game, Mega Man V, had the original bosses from the previous four games (Enker, Quint, Punk and Ballade) return as bosses in the final level.
  • Saints Row IV sees many characters from past Saints Row games return, including Benjamin King, former leader of the Vice Kings from Saints Row 1, the Saints Row 2 version of Shaundi, Keith David (the voice of Julius Little, who was last seen in Saints Row 2), and various others. In addition, Dane Vogel makes a return appearance in the upcoming standalone expansion Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell.

     Web Original 
  • In the finale of lonelygirl15, Spencer shows up after over a season's absence to help Taylor.
  • Cinema Snob is banished in part 4 of Kickassia, but comes back two parts later to confront a defeated Nostalgia Critic.

     Western Animation 
  • The final episodes of Teen Titans brought back virtually every villain and honorary world Titan for a gigantic brawl.
    • "Things Change", the very last episode, features a girl who may-or-may-not-be Terra. Beast Boy tries to jog her memory of her life as a Titan, but she insists that she just wants to be a normal kid and, eventually, that "things were never the way you remember". Oh, and Slade makes his one and only season 5 appearance via one of his Doombots.
  • This happened in the last season of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. After Stephen Colbert (who voiced Phil Ken Sebben and Reducto) left Harvey Birdman after The Colbert Report started growing in popularity, Sebben was hit by a bus in one of the first episodes of the final season... only to spend most of the final episode driving said bus backwards to Sebben & Sebben.
    • Reducto was hit by a bus an episode after Phil. He... didn't make it.
  • The finale of every season of Total Drama features every single eliminated contestant that season. Seasons 2 and 3 included all the panelists, who were contestants in the first season.
    • Season 4, "Revenge of the Island," only brought back the contestants from that season, although there were "classic contestants" showing up periodically through the season.
  • Martian Manhunter's return in the final episode of Justice League Unlimited. And Darkseid (although he showed up at the end of the second-to-last). Come to think of it, every major character who wasn't either dead (Brainiac), not yet born (Batman Beyond), in the future (Supergirl) or Exiled from Continuity (Bat-Embargo characters) who ever appeared in the DCAU could qualify for this, even though most of them were limited to cameos.
    • The first Series Fauxnale had the Batman Beyond characters show up.
    • Sadly, Aquaman was also absent due to a similar embargo, which is a real shame considering his importance in the rest of the series as well as to the comic book Justice League.
  • The series finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender brings back some of the older characters with the introduction of the White Lotus Society.
  • In King of the Hill during Luann's wedding ceremony, characters that only appeared in or two episodes throughout all the seasons showed up to attend. This would make a good example of the trope, except for Fox then gave them another season, and then cancelled them halfway through it, so they never got a chance to play this trope right.
  • The final episode of the 2003 TMNT series had all of the Turtles' friends show up for Casey and April's wedding. They came in mighty handy when Cyber-Shredder decided to crash the party.
  • Rita and Runt of Animaniacs, who had disappeared after the show's second season, reappeared in the series' last new segment, "The Scoring Session" (albeit with Rita being silent), and in the movie Wakko's Wish.
  • The final episode of Xiaolin Showdown ends with the Xiaolin Dragons being surrounded by every single villain they faced in the entire show. This isn't explained, but no one cares.
  • X-Men: Evolution has a number of characters (such as Jubilee, who had been Put on a Bus in the previous season) show up in cameos during the Grand Finale.
  • The Recess episode, "Lawson and His Crew", which was intended to be the series finale (along with Recess: School's Out) until the show was Un-Cancelled due to the success of the movie, featured almost every character who appeared in the series, even those who only appeared once.
  • Several Jackie Chan Adventures characters invoked the trope in the finale: Shendu, Valmont (The Cameo), Finn, Ratso, Chow, Hak Foo and that's just counting the villains. Fortunately none of them was working for Drago in the episode.
  • All the villains appear at the end of the finale of Kim Possible, including Monkey Fist, who was turned to stone in a previous episode, and is STILL stone in the finale.
  • The 1970s animated Flash Gordon ends its first season with most of the allies Flash has made in all the previous episodes gathering together for a big final battle with Ming the Merciless.
  • Numerous characters from various Duckman episodes briefly turn up in the finale as guests at the wedding.
  • Numerous villains (Outside of supervillain meetings) and secondary characters from Codename: Kids Next Door appeared at the final episode.
  • Unicron returns for Grand Finale movie of Transformers Prime.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Derpy Hooves makes a few cameo appearances in the Season 3 finale after practically an entire season of being absent.
    • In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, we briefly see the other key givers — Coco, Spitfire with the Wonderbolts, Cheese Sandwich, Seabreeze, and Silver Shill.
  • The last 2 minutes of the finale of Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! has almost every ally in the series make a cameo to join the war against Skeleton King. Sadly, the episode (and series) ends before we can see them all in action.

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