->''"What's past is prologue."''
-->-- '''Antonio''', ''Theatre/TheTempest''

Backstory is what happens to a character ''before'' they arrive on the present scene. All characters have one, but it may only be present for just one character, the entire cast, or the entire setting in which everything is taking place.

A good actor or writer has a strong sense of each character's backstory, as it gives the character texture and shadings and keeps them from being [[FlatCharacter two-dimensional.]] It makes an excellent source for TheReveal; e.g., why TheRival resents TheHero so much, how the FakeUltimateHero got his reputation, why TheCaptain suffers from BadDreams. Hopefully, these things are revealed when the information is both plot-relevant and likely to come up naturally.

In fact, a character's backstory can be so interesting and important that it's a wonder it's just a ''back''story instead of a part of a prologue or separate story; indeed, a particularly ''good'' backstory can form the backbone of a {{Prequel}}.

A [[TropesAreNotBad good]] {{retcon}} may go back and explore a character's backstory. A BelatedBackstory occurs when the retcon radically and permanently changes a new character's personality. Some characters are given a {{Mysterious|Past}} or DarkAndTroubledPast as a backstory; these [[SchrodingersGun tend to be whatever the author wants]], often [[{{Retcon}} retroactively]] [[ExpansionPackPast growing]], or [[MultipleChoicePast changing]].

Backstory (or lack thereof) often serves as FanficFuel; many {{Fanfic}}s exist to explore backstory (e.g., how [[Franchise/StarTrek Spock]]'s parents got together). Others [[FixFic contradict it]].

Specific kinds of backstory include {{Prequel}}, StartOfDarkness, HappyFlashback, TroubledBackstoryFlashback, BackstoryOfTheDay, WhenItAllBegan, BackstoryHorror, and StandardCopBackstory.


[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]
* The Chibitalia stories in ''Webcomic/AxisPowersHetalia'' may count as a backstory for Italy.
** Also possibly Germany, if the fanon theory that [=HRE=] = Germany is to be believed.
** Then again, any story that was shown after the character was introduced and is set in a period when they were younger may count as a backstory.
* ''Manga/SketDance'', while a gag manga for the most part, features three separate backstory arcs for the main cast that are either sufficiently melodramatic (Bossun and Switch) or heartwarming (Himeko) that help flesh out their personalities and how they ended up becoming the people they are now.
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' had quite a few chapters explaining Mustang and Hawkeye's backstories.
* The Summer arc in ''VisualNovel/{{AIR}}'', which shows the beginning of the curse in the JidaiGeki.
* Almost all of the characters of ''Manga/OnePiece'', especially the members of the Strawhat Crew.
** In fact, a flashback featuring a character's (tragic) past is nearly always a dead giveaway that he/she will join the Strawhats by the end of the arc.
*** Oda used this to make us think two people might have join the crew; Vivi and Wiper. But, considering how lacking their pasts were compared to other Straw Hats, maybe it's not as much of a trick as you'd expect it to be.
*** Robin had joined the crew after the Alabasta arc, but her DarkAndTroubledPast wasn't revealed until Enies Lobby, roughly three manga arcs later (five if you count the G8 filler arc in the anime and if you consider the Water 7 saga separate from Enies Lobby).
* In the ''Manga/{{Getbackers}}'' manga, almost all the major characters, including villains, have complicated backstories peppered with angst and feuds. In every arc (except the minor filler types) there will be one or more flashbacks to explain new plot developments: [[spoiler: Kazuki and Jyuubei as childhood friends, the story behind Ban's jagan, Makubex's abandonment, just to name a few]]
* Several characters in ''Manga/AirGear'' have their backstories explored extensively, namely both generations of [[GeneticEngineeringIsTheNewNuke Gravity Children]], the Brain Chargers of Sleipnir, and [[{{Jerkass}} Kaito]].
* The ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamWing'' manga ''Episode Zero'' deals with the backstories of all the main characters that were originally meant to be in the anime. These stories explain many of the mysteries in the series - Duo's priest collar and Quatre's goggles being two examples - that are near essential to understanding the story as a whole.
* Shonen anime such as ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'' or ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' will often spend entire episodes - [[InactionSequence occasionally right in the middle of a major battle]] - delving into the backstory of a character as they gather their energy for a 'second wind' to get back into the fight. It most often takes place while they are (apparently) critically wounded... perhaps a nod to the old cliché of one's life passing before one's eyes.
* In ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'', Jessie, James, and Meowth have the most elaborate (and sometimes sad) backstories of any character in the series.
* ''Anime/CowboyBebop'' is interesting in that everyone has elaborate backstories, but only Faye's is given any sort of complete explanation or chronology. You learn broad ideas, but never the whole picture: Spike was part of the Red Dragon Mafia, Jet was a police officer, Ein is a data dog (whatever that means) and Ed was in an orphanage after being abandoned by her father. The movie supposedly was intended to be a grand backstory for Spike, but the creators decided against it because it would probably never live up to the hype from the fans.
* ''{{Manga/Berserk}}'' has such a long and complex backstory that it takes up twelve volumes of the manga and nearly the whole animated series. The backstory focuses mainly on Guts, but Griffith and Casca have their own pasts and motivations revealed, as well. Serpico and Farnese also receive their own backstory episodes in the manga.
* In ''Manga/ChronoCrusade'', most of the important characters have backstories that connect them to the pasts of the other characters, especially in the manga. Chrono's is particularly important in driving the plot forward--so, of course, [[CannotSpitItOut he avoids telling the other characters about it]] until late in the series.
* Fakir's backstory in ''Anime/PrincessTutu'' is a key plot point, partly because he turns out to be [[spoiler:the descendant of the BigBad]] and has [[spoiler:inherited his powers]].
* Most characters in ''Anime/YuGiOh'', even a lot of minor ones, get detailed backstories. This is especially true for the villains, and of course the main character, whose search for his unknown backstory forms the main plot.
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' has a few chapters that go into Negi's backstory, explaining his motivations and where he got his goals. Later on it goes into Asuna's backstory, which happens to be ''massively'' important to the current plot, even more so than Negi's backstory. [[spoiler: Remeber that massive war that Negi's father was the hero of? Turns out Asuna was at the center of it.]]
* An entire chapter of ''Manga/DeathNote'' is devoted to Mikami's history, explaining why he embraced Kira so easily.
* Yusuke, Kuwabara, Keiko, and Botan are about the only ones in ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' who ''don't'' get backstories...
* The [[AudioAdaptation second Sound Stage]] of ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha'''s first season revolves around Fate's life before the events of the series.
* ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' have most of its backstories concentrated to the RedHerringShirt Akemi. Although she's killed off ''very'' early in the series, she was first written as [[spoiler:Ai Haibara's]] dead older sister, and then our former [[TheMole mole]] FBI agent is revealed to be her boyfriend when he's still in TheSyndicate.
* Not strictly a manga (it's actually a manhwa) ''Rebirth'' has a colossal backstory that spans a full seven volumes. The author started and planned on it only being two volumes, maximum of three... then he got carried away and it grew to seven. Apparently the fans nearly revolted.
* In the manga adaptation of ''Manga/FruitsBasket'' just about every character that appears has a backstory and many of them are connected. For example, [[spoiler:Kyo Sohma met Tohru Honda's mother Kyoko when he was little. They talked about many things, including Tohru, and Kyo makes a promise to protect Tohru without ever having met her. Later, Kyo sees Kyoko at the site of a crash when she is about to die and Kyoko reminds him of the promise, though Kyo mistakes what she says and believes that she blames him for her death.]]
* The plot of ''Manga/GameXRush'' essentially revolves around the Backstory, most of which is held back entirely until the second volume.
* Much of ''Manga/PandoraHearts'' is trying to figure out the characters' backstories, in particular, how they all relate to the Tragedy of Sablier.
* ''Manga/OuranHighSchoolHostClub'' has a backstory for each of the hosts, often with a whole chapter devoted to one character's past. There's even a whole chapter dedicated to Haruhi's parents showing us how they met and fell in love. The anime has two entire episodes dedicated to flashbacks of how Kyouya and Tamaki met, and also how Hikaru and Kaoru met Tamaki and joined the Host Club.
* ''Manga/HajimeNoIppo'' gives us episodes/chapters about how Kimura and Aoki as well as Takamura got into boxing. Sendo's backstory is also told by his grandma, but even more importantly, he gets his very own ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaiden gaiden]]'' chapter which shows how the Naniwa Tomcat became the Naniwa Tiger. And yes, it is as badass as it sounds. There's also a flashback to Kamogawa's and Nekota's past, which involves Kamogawa beating a U.S. soldier in a boxing match.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''. Almost every important character has been given some sort of flashback/backstory, and whenever one of the baddies ([[spoiler: or anyone for that matter, if Gin's recent death is anything to go by]]) is about to die, you can bet that there will be some form of a backstory.
* In ''Anime/CodeGeass'', this is provided by the sound and picture episodes.
* In ''Manga/SangatsuNoLion'', Rei's backstory, which is largely explained in a multi-chapter story arc and small vignettes and flashbacks spread throughout, is an integral part of the plot, as it is the primary reason for many of his negative traits at the onset of the story proper. He is frequently plagued by thoughts of it, and it constantly comes back to haunt him, usually in the form of Kyoko and her visits.
* Taken up to eleven in ''LightNovel/ShakuganNoShana'' which has a backstory for the characters in the backstory. To elaborate, Shana's remembering her past and three other characters are remembering their collective past in the backstory.
* Everyone has one in ''Manga/FairyTail''. ''Everyone''.
** And most are tragic.

[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* Standard issue for heroes and villains, since everyone wants to know how X got her powers, why Y is called "the Red Rose," what happened between Group A and Group B to make them hate each other, and how it was that EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether. One of the signs that a character is becoming popular or will get more screentime is when the writers give him a backstory.
* Everyone who becomes a ''Comicbook/GhostRider'' has a detailed back story, [[{{Retcon}} and they're ALL subject to change.]]
* For being such an obscure character until his movies, ''ComicBook/{{Blade}}'' had some history. Marvel did a pretty good job about taking from [[Film/BladeTrilogy the movies]] without messing up his back story or character development in the comics he appeared in, until Marc Guggenheim ignored existing continuity and then [[RetCon rewrote past events]] to cover his mistakes. Blade's history ''was'' complex for an obscure character and Marc didn't want to write about him. Still could have done better for being paid.
* In ''[[Comicbook/SpiderMan The Amazing Spider-Man]]'', Mary Jane "MJ" Watson was the happy-go-lucky [[BettyAndVeronica Veronica]] to Peter Parker's Archie...until she returned to the book in the early '80s after a few years' absence, and revealed at one point that she knew he was Spider-Man. In the following issue, MJ decided to confide in Peter, revealing her unknown back story. Turns out that she was [[StepfordSmiler laughing to hide the tears of her broken home.]]

[[folder: Fan Works ]]
* ''[[FanFic/{{Bird}} Bird]]'' is based around the canon Asylum for parahumans. The place is important to the backstories (and, in some cases, the current stories) of many canon characters; Mimi, Elle, Sveta, Victoria, Doctor Yamada, and more... But is only actually seen breifly in Doctor Yamada's interlude. ''[[FanFic/{{Bird}} Bird]]'' is basically a retelling of Mimi and Elle's backstory with an alternate version of Taylor as the narrator.
* ''Fanfic/CodeGeassMaoOfTheDeliverance'' takes the titular EnsembleDarkHorse who [[OneSceneWonder only premiered for three episodes]] in the original ''Anime/CodeGeass'' and introduces an in-depth, {{Perspective Flip}}ped personal history which actually forms an engaging storyline that is both plausible and woven into established {{canon}} very well, explaining HowWeGotHere.
* During the ''FanFic/TamersForeverSeries'', Takeru tries to gain the trust of the Tamers, by revealing to them the true origins of not only the Digital World, but [[spoiler: Takato Matsuki himself.]]
* A great deal of action hinges upon the back story of the world C'hou in ''Fanfic/WithStringsAttached''. The four are told the same story four or five different times, with new details emerging each time, until they finally know the original purpose of the Vasyn and what its return really means to the planet.
* In ''FanFic/TheTaintedGrimoire'', several were given.
** [[spoiler: Vaticus]] explains during a lull in his battle with [[spoiler: Luso and Adelle]] what his motivations are and how he became the person he is at present.
** We see bits and pieces of Sir Loin's life, including the development of his relationship with Adelle, during the chapter where [[spoiler: he died]].
** Cheney explains to Tweigel his history with [[spoiler: Freise]] before joining House Bowen and properly explains why he left House Bowen.
* In one of the later chapters of ''FanFic/TheDimensionHoppers'' part of the back stories for Kaitlin and possibly [[spoiler:Gemma]] will be explained (once they are typed up)
* In ''WebVideo/TheMrMenMovie'', Little Miss Whoops tells Little Miss Curious how she got her glasses.
* Used frequently in FanFic/AGrowingAffection. Gouki and Kohaku get chapters focusing on their histories. Chapter 34 explains Iruka, Anko, and Yugao's shared past as members of Hizashi Hyuga's Genin squad (after Anko returned to the village).
* In ''FanFic/{{Horseshoes and Hand Grenades}}'', all the Fourze characters have interesting backstories not shown in the original series. For example, Yayoi (Coma Zodiarts) is actually a childhood friend to JK, who is suffering from something called 'that incident' that explains why he's a KnowledgeBroker. Others include Jun Shigeno, who explains that [[spoiler: she had a little brother and father who died when she was a little girl on her 8th birthday.]]
* In ''FanFic/{{Harmless}}'', several of the ghosts' backstories are touched on or expanded beyond what was in [[WesternAnimation/DannyPhantom the show]], showing how they ended up like they are in present day. Most qualify for [[DarkAndTroubledPast Dark And Troubled Pasts]].
** The origins of the scar on Clockwork's eye and Pariah Dark's missing eye are explained: they are the result of [[SealedEvilInACan sealing Ammit in the first place]].
** Just like WordOfGod for the show, Ember was based on a teenage girl who was stood up for a date and died in a fire she was too exhausted to notice. This is one of the reason's her relationship with Skulker is so rocky: she believes LoveHurts.
** Sidney Poindexter, just like as mentioned in his first episode, came from a kid who bullied relentlessly during high school. He was eventually DrivenToSuicide
** The Lunch Lady actually met Poindexter while they were both alive.
** Cujo was a guard dog for Axiom Labs that was put to sleep when they upgraded the security system and no longer needed him.
* In ''Fanfic/SoulEaterTroubledSouls'', some canon characters like Kirikou and Jacqueline get a backstory.


* The ''Franchise/StarWars'' prequel films had existed in brief notes just to get things together for the original movie. Creator/GeorgeLucas wanted the original ''Star Wars'' to have the Episode IV title to resemble the ''ComicStrip/BuckRogers'' and ''[[Film/FlashGordonSerial Flash Gordon]]'' serials, but only used "Part IV" in the opening expository crawl. ''Film/ANewHope'' has a lot of imagery that is intended to make you think you're seeing something familiar, such as the first appearance of Obi-Wan.
* The eponymous ''Film/MysteryTeam'' once held the respect of the entire town; now they're nothing but a joke.
* ''Film/TheManWhoSavesTheWorld'' {{infodump}} prologue reveals a backstory bigger than many movies' plots that completely fails to make sense, as apparently mankind has homogenized in the Galaxy Age, and the Earth got blown up once or twice, but that's okay because they've built a force field made out of human brains to protect it now.

* Since Creator/JRRTolkien's Middle-earth stories (''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', etc) span a world over thousands of years, and he wrote on it all his life, there is a lot of information on a variety of topics, history, and characters' lives. In fact, ''The Lord Of The Rings'' is more backstory with a novel than a novel with a backstory. Tolkien wrote the history of Middle-Earth as part of long running idea to create a British mythology that rivalled the far richer folklore such as Norse mythology. The novels themselves evolved out of this. His work went so far as to invent entire languages with their own character sets and long running genealogies detailing every major family, be they human, elf or otherwise.
* Chapter 2 of ''Literature/DragonQueen'' has Sajag telling Trava about his past. Apparently, he [[spoiler: killed a man]]
* ''Franchise/HarryPotter'':
** The ''entire'' main plot of ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePrisonerOfAzkaban'' is rooted in the incredibly twisted tragic backstory of Harry's parents, their friends, and the events that led to their death. The other plot threads are a) an IronicEcho of the backstory plot, and b) metaphors for overcoming your personal demons of the past (i.e., another echo of the plot).
** ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheHalfBloodPrince'' establishes in detail a lot of the back story of Lord Voldemort, the principal villain, as well as the school life of Snape and Harry's parents.
** ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'' does the same with Dumbledore, including [[spoiler:a dead sister, a father who died in Azkaban and a school-days crypto-gay friendship with Gellert Grindelwald, a Dark Wizard only slightly less evil than BigBad Voldemort.]]
** Don't forget about [[spoiler: Snape, who got a flashback in the fifth book that shows James and Sirius being bullies and explaining one part of why Snape hates Harry, and a whole chapter in the last book dedicated to why Snape even protected Harry, which was because of Snape's unrequited love for Lily, which would be the other part of why he hates Harry.]]
** One classmate of Harry's got a disproportionately large backstory: [[http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/extrastuff_view.cfm?id=2 Dean Thomas]]. Rowling has written "I think Chris [[note]]Creator/ChrisColumbus, director of the first two films[[/note]] was slightly taken aback by the amount of information I had on this peripheral character."
** Rowling is so prone to creating sprawling, involved character biographies in fact that she has made a ''habit'' of post-series backstory revelations. Probably the most notable of course, or at least most famous, was when she shocked much of the world shortly after the release of ''Deathly Hallows'' by revealing during a Q&A that [[WordOfGay Dumbledore had actually been a closeted gay man the whole time]].
** For a time, Rowling was [[WordOfGod revealing most of these extra details]] on her Flash-format [[https://www.jkrowling.com official website]], often as EasterEggs accessible by poking around and playing with the items on her simulated "desk". And then the [[MeaningfulName aptly-named]] interactive game/{{Expanded Universe}} site [[https://www.pottermore.com Pottermore]] was created as an official tie-in to the series, and Rowling had an even better place to expound on the canon, often at length, ranging from the creation of details on [[ExpandedUniverse non-European wizarding culture]] and "[[AllThereInTheManual wandlore]]", to yes, backstory on characters, like say [[http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Minerva_McGonagall#Biography Professor McGonagall]], who is given everything from named family members to a prior love life and...well, basically an outline of her whole life's story up until the books. Almost none of this is so much as alluded to in the original books, because Harry and his friends have generally little reason to have interest in their teachers' pasts or in some cases even the pasts of their classmates, what with [[WakeUpGoToSchoolSaveTheWorld all the shenanigans going on all the time]], and the original novels are told almost exclusively from Harry's POV. A lot of this backstory can seem interesting but not particularly plot relevant... though [[https://www.pottermore.com/features/petunia-dursleys-unlikely-hogwarts-ambitions some]] have [[WhatCouldHaveBeen surprisingly huge implications]].
* Half the mystery in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' is the backstory of the characters and Westeros itself.
* Tristan's backstory in the ''Literature/NightfallSeries'' is revealed late in the first book. Prince Vladimir's backstory is so far a mystery, with a few hints dropped.
* Creator/CSLewis's ''Literature/TheMagiciansNephew'' is explicitly billed, in the text, as backstory to the rest of Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia books.
* Both implicit and explicit in the ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' series, including the titular character. Generally, implicit in the "main" novels, explicit in the anthologies.
* The "Literature/HorusHeresy" novels are the Backstory to the ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' universe.
* Kavi has a particularly unpleasant one in Creator/HilariBell's ''Literature/FarsalaTrilogy''.
* Explored a lot with different characters in the ''Literature/WarriorCats'' series. There's ''The Rise of Scourge'', the "prequel" Super Editions, many novellas, and then a number of short stories in the field guides, such as the one about Barley's past. Even the main series has some of these moments.
* In ''Literature/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'', Chapters 3 and 4 are largely given over to the backstory of Willy Wonka's factory, specifically how it became -- apparently -- completely self-contained (as no workers are seen entering or exiting it) when Mr. Wonka became an in-universe ReclusiveArtist to stop rivals from stealing his recipes. While Mr. Wonka's reputation is also discussed in these chapters, [[InexplicablyAwesome his personal backstory is never revealed]]. In the sequel ''Literature/CharlieAndTheGreatGlassElevator'', Mr. Wonka himself has to deliver a good deal of backstory with regards to how he created a FountainOfYouth pill ''and'' its RapidAging counterpart.
* ''Literature/TwilightSparkleAndTheCrystalHeartSpell'' goes in depth about Cadance's backstory.
* ''Literature/TheGenesisOfJennyEverywhere'' is in itself an attempt (as yet unfinished) to create a back-story for the open-source heroine. Basically, before she became the Shifter and started wandering the multiverse looking for adventures, and perhaps was not quite as confident or charismatic a figure as her base personality type might suggest; here's she's just an ordinary girl with lots of dreams who discovers her true nature by accident, and is something of a misfit.

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* The second season episode of ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'', "Becoming, Part I," in which the audience sees how Buffy, Angel, Spike, and Drusilla "became" who they are today.
** Buffy and Series/{{Angel}} were both quite good at this--the Buffy episodes "Amends" and "Lie to Me" and the ''Series/{{Angel}}'' episodes "Darla," "Dear Boy," "Orpheus"... heck, a LOT of Angel is backstory contributing to various season arcs (Darla in Season 2, Holtz in season 3, etc.) as well as one or two "one-shot" backstory episodes such as "Why We Fight," the mentions of Angel's past in Vegas in "The House Always Wins," and "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been." Well, a guy does accumulate a lot of backstory in 240+ years of living...
* The ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' episode "Out of Gas" examined how the crew of Serenity came together. Creator/JossWhedon had planned much more detailed Backstories for certain enigmatic characters, to be revealed over time, but the series infamously [[ScrewedByTheNetwork ended too soon]] to get to them. Some of these have managed to come out in other formats, though:
** TheMovie sequel ''Serenity'' gives us some of River Tam's backstory as a government experiment as well as the [[NightmareFuel backstory explanation]] for the [[TheDreaded Reavers]]' [[ImAHumanitarian inexplicably]] [[AxeCrazy psychotic]] behavior.
** A later GraphicNovel, ''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serenity_(comics)#The_Shepherd.27s_Tale Serenity: The Shepard's Tale]]'', finally gave us [[BadassPreacher Shepard Book]]'s full life story.
** [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serenity_(comics) Additional comic book stories]] for the ''Serenity'' universe have expanded a little further on the other experimental subjects of the government project that River was shoved into, too.
** [[ZigZaggedTrope Semi-subversion]]: Inara Serra. Juicy details are teased or implied within the TV series, and Whedon has ''said'' she has a backstory worth telling...but Whedon has also openly stated he's hopeful to do another film or serial sequel ''someday'' and would [[SequelHook prefer to save her story for that]]. Though it's unlikely, he acknowledges, to happen any time soon.
* Both ''Series/{{Highlander}}: The Series'' and ''Series/ForeverKnight'' were full of backstory; flashbacks where the events recalled served to illustrate present events. Being veeery long-lived characters, both Duncan [=MacLeod=] and Nick Knight had plenty of backstory to film.
* Much of the plot structure of ''Series/{{Lost}}'' (for the first three seasons at least) has centered on revealing the characters' backstories while showing how these pasts inform the characters' actions on the island.
* The ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' pilot episode starts off with the backstory of how their mother got killed. ''Something Wicked'' introduced Dean's massive [[GuiltComplex guilt/martyr complex]], and ''A Very Supernatural Christmas'' revealed how he got [[IconicItem his amulet]].
* The ''Series/{{House}}'' episode "Three Stories" depicted how House ended up with his limp.
** In two pieces of much happier backstory, "Birthmarks" told us that it, in a reversal of expectations, was actually House being a nice guy to Wilson (i.e bailing him out of jail because Wilson was having issues and getting divorced from his first wife) that started off their friendship and "Adverse Events" revealed that House was... a college cheerleader.
** EVERYONE on ''House'' has some sort of backstory, and the story is ALWAYS a [[DysfunctionJunction sad one]]. No one is allowed to be happy on ''Series/{{House}}''. You can only wonder how so many doctors with tragic pasts ended up in the same hospital.
* ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' had the first season episode "Six Months Ago" mostly showing the past of Peter and Nathan Petrelli, Claire Bennet, Matt Parkman and how Sylar first used his power. Then, seven episodes later, ''Company Man'' mixed a story in present with flashbacks of the past of Noah Bennet. The first half of the second season has a story with Hiro in the past, which also serves as a back story for a present villain Adam Monroe, concluding with the episode "Four Months Ago", which also served the back story of Maya and Alejandro Herrera. And finally the season three episode "Villains" explains how Sylar became a killer and his complicated relationship with Elle, how Arthur Petrelli ended up paralyzed, and why Flint Gordon got caught by Primatech and his sister Meredith did not.
** Hell, the second to last episode gave a fairly large amount of backstory on Noah.
* ''Series/HigherGround'' gradually reveals at some point or another (sometimes in the form of an Episode In The Spotlight) what got each of the Cliffhangers sent to Mt. Horizon.
* ''Series/{{Jericho}}'' - Almost everybody has an interesting history that gets at least a little attention, from what Jake was doing for two years to the relationship between Johnston and Gail (turns out she was 'the other woman').
* ''Series/MadMen'' would be a much different show without the backstory of Dick Whitman
* ''Franchise/KamenRider'' has this in ''Series/KamenRiderDragonKnight''. Eubulon was sent to Ventara by his general, General Xaviax from their homeworld to make an invasion possible so that their homeworld will be repaired or rebuilt. However, the Eubulon became ill along the way in Ventara and then a family of Ventarans came into his aid and made him think otherwise. He created a [[HeroesAreUs group of warriors to protect]] Ventara from his general's plot and thus the war for Ventara came to be. The group defeated Xaviax but then lost their Advent Master Eubulon in the process. They have to take turns once in every 12 years and then Xaviax came back and tricked the hero Adam who was in duty. This was where the plot kicked in and the majority of the Ventaran Kameen Riders were vented into the Advent Void and thus, one remaining Rider kept on fighting for his life, Kamen Rider Wing Knight Len thus starting Ep 1.
* ''Franchise/StarTrek'' is good for these.....
** ''[[Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration The Next Generation]]''
*** Several episodes discuss Picard's time as captain of the ''Stargazer'', his past with Dr. Crusher and her husband, and of course the fan favorite episode "Tapestry" discusses the young Picard back at the Academy.
*** One episode, describes and incident with Riker and his former CO, now an admiral. Another talks about his brave actions during a previous transporter accident that seems to have fast-tracked his career.
*** Several episodes dedicated to Worf's family, their disgrace, and Worf's childhood among humans.
** ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]''
*** There are always passing references to former lives of the Dax character.
*** As the series went on, we learned how the Celestial prophets ensured the birth of Ben Sisko.
*** And of course, several references are made to the Cardassian occupation of Bajor, which has repercussions long into the show's run.
** ''[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries The Original Series]]''
*** "The Conscience of the King" gives some insights into Kirk's childhood, describing a famine and related massacre that he witnessed at the age of thirteen. (It is unknown as yet whether this event has carried through to the [[Film/StarTrek new timeline]].)
*** In "Obsession", the ''Enterprise'' returns to a planet that a young Lt. James T. Kirk conducted a survey on, sometime previous.
*** "The Menagerie", which was actually the first ''Trek'' pilot episode with heavy reediting, discussed Spock and the ''Enterprise'' under Captain Pike, the CO before Kirk took command.
*** "[[Recap/StarTrekS1E22SpaceSeed Space Seed]]" would serve as Backstory for ''[[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan The Wrath of Khan]]''.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' had a vast back story. In the first season, events such as Earth's first contact with alien life, the Dilgar War that established Earth as a major power and the Earth-Minbari War that came within a hair's breadth of exterminating Humanity only to have the Minbari inexplicably surrender at the last moment. And that's just the Earth-related stuff: all the major alien races also had impressive back-stories, as did most of the characters.
* ''Series/VeronicaMars'' had a ''massive'' backstory that explained how Veronica, a formerly girly high school student, became a hard-boiled sardonic detective. Apparently all it takes is: 1) having the Sheriff be your father; 2) have your best friend murdered under mysterious circumstances; 3) have your father disgraced by the rich locals after he fails to close the case; 4) lose face with your peers because you stand by him; 5) go to a party with your peers only to get roofied and raped. The result? A jaded, cynical 17 year-old girl with an appetite for getting the truth--the perfect story telling recipe for awesome.
* The backstory of Harmon Rabb, Jr. in ''Series/{{JAG}}'', already explored in the PilotMovie, explains just about everything about his career, personality and motivations.
* ''Series/{{Scandal}}'': The episode "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" shows Olivia's time in the White House, her relationship with President Fitz, and the circumstances that led to her leaving.
* The ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' episode "Fragments" flashes back to show how each of the current cast came to be part of Torchwood and the events that drove them to that point.

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]
* ''TabletopGame/NewWorldOfDarkness'' has this as an option during character creation in the form of "Preludes." Which are essentially how the character you've made came to acquire/awaken/discover/what-have-you his or her powers. Vampires have Sires, Werewolves get their First Changes, Mages get their Awakenings, Changelings have Durances in {{Arcadia}} and so on.
* In a bit of a Meta-entry, many players come up with elaborate backstories for their characters. Its a {{Stereotype}} of TheRoleplayer.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Microscope}}'': Players build events and scenes non-linearly, so a LOT of the game will be backstory. It's kind arbitrary; there is no single point in the timeline that is considered the "present." However some events and scenes are made specifically to elaborate on others that come later.

[[folder: Theatre ]]
* Subverted in Creator/TomStoppard's ''Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead,'' where Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's lack of a backstory is lampshaded by their inability to recall any event earlier than having been summoned the morning of the opening action. Stoppard is commenting on the undeveloped characterization that these characters have in ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}''.

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* This is a pretty common staple of FightingGame characters. Some series have more detailed stories than others, but it's usually given to them in order to make them more charismatic. The most prominent examples would be ''VideoGame/StreetFighter'', ''VideoGame/MortalKombat'', ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'', the ''VideoGame/SoulSeries'', ''VideoGame/VirtuaFighter'', ''VideoGame/{{Tekken}}'' and ''VideoGame/DeadOrAlive''.
* ''VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy'' goes to great lengths to give backstory on many of the more underdeveloped and obscure ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' characters (mainly [[ThePaladin The Warrior of Light]], [[BloodKnight Garland]], Chaos and [[InteractiveNarrator Cid of the Lufaine]]). Almost to the point that you'll forget the origin stories given for them in their original games.
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' has a surprisingly substantive backstory told through a multitude of novels, comics, [[AlternateRealityGame Alternate Reality Games]], guidebooks, online exclusives, live-action specials, and even an [[Anime/HaloLegends anime series]]. Hell, [[Literature/TheForerunnerSaga one book trilogy]] is even set over ''100,000 years'' before the start of the games.
* ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'' has it's own ARG website with the Aperture Science backstory and how [=GLaDOS=] came to be.
** The sequel also had several areas dating back to the 60s and 70s to explorer Aperture's rise and fall as company, as well as the origin of [=GLaDOS=], revealing that she [[spoiler: was built as an attempt by terminally ill Aperture CEO Cave Johnson to achieve {{Immortality}} through BrainUploading...and although Johnson seems to have died before the project was ready, he left instructions that his trusty secretary Caroline should be uploaded, against her will if necessary, in his place.]]
* ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater'', ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPortableOps'' and ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolidPeaceWalker'' establish the StartOfDarkness of Big Boss, the BigBad, showing his fall from a noble BadassNormal, through a quietly grieving TragicHero, into an AntiVillain convinced that UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans. (his Utopia happens to be [[WarForFunAndProfit eternal World War]].) However, pretty much every character in the [[VideoGame/MetalGear Metal Gear series]] has a backstory more in-depth and complicated than most real people's - even if they're only on camera for fifteen minutes and are never mentioned again.
* ''VideoGame/{{Darkstalkers}}'' started out simple but the sequel ''Night Warriors'' rewrote the character origins into surprisingly interesting back stories and ''Vampire Savior'' expanded it further, giving back stories to the different worlds the game takes place in.
* ''VideoGame/WingCommander'' has a fairly detailed backstory, told mostly [[AllThereInTheManual in the manuals]] (including official game guides, and the Confederation Handbook for the movie) and novels, both {{novelization}}s of the games and new works within the setting.
* Creator/BioWare uses player-party member dialogue to reveal backstory in ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights,'' ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire'', ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'', ''Franchise/DragonAge'', ''Franchise/MassEffect'', and probably more.
* All the playable characters, including minor ones, in any ''VideoGame/FireEmblem'' between ''Genealogy'' and ''Radiant Dawn'' have at least some backstory and/or personality, which in some games can be explored through "support conversations". ''Path of Radiance'' and ''Radiant Dawn'' added base conversations that function similarly, but they're easier to get.
* Each hero in ''VideoGame/DefenseOfTheAncients'' has some kind of backstory. Many of them are [[AscendedFanon created by fans and put in the game]].
* VideoGame/{{Fallout}} has a rather extensive backstory as a result of taking place in an alternate history. The point of divergence seems to be somewhere between 1945 and 1961 (with the games' present being between 2161 and 2281), and is used to explain the presence of rayguns, robots, and other {{Zeerust}}. It also explains why the US flag is different, and clarifies the origin and goals of the Enclave. All told, it's probably most relevant to ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'' and ''[[VideoGame/{{Fallout3}} 3]].''
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series has some ''4000+ years'' of incredibly detailed backstory before the first game in the main series, ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsArena,'' even takes place. Much of it can be learned by reading the many in-game books or conversing with [[{{NPC}} NPCs]] which give bits and pieces of the world's history.

[[folder: Visual Novels ]]
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' has a backstory that is a major plot point for the story, the protagonist's entire motivation for existing (at least in the beginning), in fact. Most of the routes have his backstory as a point of major inner conflict for him over his ideals and his reality.
** This particular backstory was fleshed out in its entirety in ''Literature/FateZero''.
** Most of the other major character also have very important backstories, in particular [[RapeAsBackstory Sakura]] and [[LongLostRelative Rin]]. These are also covered, largely, in Literature/FateZero. The backstory of Archer, however, is not well explained.
* ''VisualNovel/{{Tsukihime}}'' freaking ''exists'' because of this. The backstory is unbelievably complex and well-written, with each route giving off a small amount of information about the past. The entire backstory can be put together (like a puzzle) only after playing all of the routes.

[[folder: Web Comics ]]
* A major part of ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' is the slow unrolling of backstory. Much of the discussion in the various forums focuses on it, and the character moments are truly first-class. After the first volume, ''everything'' has been foreshadowed; there are no {{Ass Pull}}s. The central character, Agatha Heterodyne, has a backstory that is still not entirely revealed. The attack on Castle Heterodyne and the appearance of the mysterious The Other is, perhaps, on the verge of revelation as of this writing--nine and one-half volumes and about seven years into the series. A truly magnificent piece of through-plotting.
* Pages and pages of ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' are completely dedicated to this. See the entirety of Act 5: Part One. All it does is discuss the Trolls and how they eventually [[spoiler: created our universe.]]
** A minor example, but some pages are also dedicated to Cal's existence, Doc Scratch's existence, and how [[spoiler: all the characters came to the Earth from meteors.]]
** Actually, the [[UpToEleven entire story]] can be considered a backstory to the Exiles, while also being a current series of events.
** The AnachronicOrder really blurs the line between story and backstory. Every so often the narrative shuffles the perspective point of 'the present' around, and settles only temporarily.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Endstone}}'' -- lots. Starting with the way Kyri's estranged husband tried to destroy the world.
* Details of the Valkyrie backstory in ''Webcomic/CwynhildsLoom'' are slowly revealed in the comic, and a brief written history is available on the website.
* In ''{{Webcomic/Skins}}'', Vinnie and Rabbit were recruited from [[spoiler: prison]] by Jordan when they were all still teenagers.
* ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod'' has a backstory for several people, even for some side-characters like Serena and Ho. The only rather important characters who have no backstory so far are Rak, Yu Han Sung, Lero-Ro, Quant, Hatsu and Ship Leesoo.
* In ''CKarrus'' characters have spoken of past events and there have been several flashbacks explaining either [[DarkAndTroubledPast Tombstone's past in particular]] or the planet's recent events.
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'', the Hammerchlorians storyline mostly deals with Susan's backstory (and by extension also Nanase's and that of {{Hyperspace Mallet}}s).

[[folder: Web Original ]]
* At its height, the ''Roleplay/GlobalGuardiansPBEMUniverse'' had literally megabytes of back story on its website, in a history involving thousands of characters and trailing all the way back to the Big Bang. When the game's website finally closed down, the [[WordOfGod administrator admitted]] that there was more back story that hadn't ever made it onto the website than information that had.
* The ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'' is powered by backstory. All but one of the major characters of Team Kimba (and some of the other main characters) had a full novel or novella covering how they got to the SuperHeroSchool Whateley Academy for their freshman year. Since then, we've seen backstory on everyone from the headmistress (who seems to have enough backstory for her own series) and the Chief of Whateley Security to side characters and even some of the villains. WordOfGod has revealed that the {{Canon}} authors are working from a 400-page 'bible' of backstories and characters and stuff that hasn't even been seen yet in the published material.
* In ''Roleplay/TheGunganCouncil'', all characters have some sort of backstory given in their first biography. However, in roleplays such as "It's Not That I Keep Hanging On, I'm Never Letting Go," the backstory for characters is described in detail to explain character relationships never written out before.
* Roleplay/SuperSmashBrothersLifeItself Has this in the form of the Flashback section which explains how certain characters got to LI or Origins of major events that have occurred in the site.

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* On ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'', Shego was a superhero, till she got fed up with that. Kim set up a website for odd jobs until a typo from someone in trouble started her on hero work.
* Even though the rest of the series has been [[FanonDiscontinuity relatively disowned by the fandom]], a single ''WesternAnimation/StarTrekTheAnimatedSeries'' episode ("Yesteryear"), which explains Spock's backstory, is embraced. Curious.
** No, what's embraced is how that story would've gone if adult Spock ''hadn't'' {{Time Travel}}led into it. It just happens that "Yesteryear" is the closest anyone has to that record.
** In fact, because of that single episode, the entire series is ''officially'' canon. Fascinating.
* In ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'', Dr. Doofenshmirtz has a backstory portion or something similar (That may have happened last week) for why he builds almost everyone of his -inators. Sometimes they're even animated.
** In fact, Doofenshmirtz has come to look forward to his [[OnceAnEpisode daily]] [[HilariouslyAbusiveChildhood tales of woe]], occasionally almost dancing as he exclaims, [[LampshadeHanging "Backstory time!"]]
* K'nuckles has bouts of this in a couple of episodes in ''WesternAnimation/TheMarvelousMisadventuresOfFlapjack''. These are always brief, and rarely have anything to do with the plot.
* ''WesternAnimation/AlvinAndTheChipmunks'' had the first season episode "The Chipmunks Story", showing how Alvin, Simon, and Theodore were discovered by David Seville. The third season followed this up with, appropriately enough, "The Chipette Story", which explored the backstory of the {{Distaff Counterpart}}s.
* From ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender,'' several characters' backstories are ''essential'' to understanding how they are in the present, particularly Zuko. Strangely, even though we see most of the main characters' backstories in the form of flashbacks, all we know about Iroh's backstory is [[MysteriousPast vague statements]] by various characters who all know more than we do.
* ''WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse1983'': Episodes give us back-stories to show us how Man-at-Arms became Teela's father, how Cringer first became Battle-Cat, how Orko first came to live at the Royal Palace, and how the Sorceress became the Sorceress.
** In [[WesternAnimation/HeManAndTheMastersOfTheUniverse2002 the 2002 series]], we're given back-stories on the Sword of Power and King Greyskull, the same backstory for Orko as we saw in the 80s series (although he lost a wand this time instead of the original medallion), how Man-At-Arms became Teela's father (different to the 80s series) and how the Sorceress was able to become a mother in the first place.
** "The Secret of the Swords" was the 80s set-up for the original ''WesternAnimation/{{SheRa|Princess of Power}}'' series to give us the back-story on why Adam had a twin sister no-one had ever heard of.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'': "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" provides backstory to the "Mane Six", showing how each of them obtained their cutie marks.
** And "Hearth's Warming Eve" tells the backstory of their kingdom, Equestria.
** "Family Appreciation Day" has Granny Smith tell her backstory. It notably involves her [[spoiler:attracting so many ponies to their farm that they found Ponyville.]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/PoundPuppies2010'' episode "The Call of The Squirrel Dog", the story of how helper squirrel Mr. Nut-Nut came to be part of the team was framed as a bedtime story for three puppies who, unfamiliar with his role, chased him around the lair.
* The ''WesternAnimation/{{Bonkers}}'' episode "Fall Apart Bomb Squad" introduced Fall Apart, the clumsy bomb disarming rabbit, and provided the backstory on how he got into the police force (he was [[spoiler:Bonkers's stunt double when he was a movie star]]).
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011'', the episode "Old Friends" delves into the [[WeUsedToBeFriends past friendship]] between OldSoldier Panthro and EvilFormerFriend Grune, while "Into the Astral Plane" explores the childhoods of Cheetara and Tygra, including how the former became a Cleric.
* Parodied in the ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'' episode "Road to Rupert", where Stewie gives his and Brian's dead camel a backstory.
* A proper origin story in ''WesternAnimation/PennZeroPartTimeHero'' is set as the penultimate season 1 episode.

[[folder: Real Life ]]
* The Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941, largest exercise of the US Army to that date had an elaborate backstory drawn up whereby two fictional countries were "fighting" over the navigation of the Mississippi.
* Mostly everyone who you have ever met and never met probably has a fairly interesting and complicated back-story to go with them.
* Every competition show on TV (especially cooking challenges) insists on going into the back stories of the contestants. Their drug addictions, homelessness, sick kids. Has nothing to do with their winning or losing (I hope), it just makes you glad if one guy wins and sad when another loses.