Call Back

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Awkward. Also, a callback between comics, in fact — from Sticky Dilly Buns to Ménage à 3
"Remember how that happened? That didn't stop being a thing that happened or anything."
Homestuck, (referencing an event from thousands of pages ago)

A relevant reference to an event taking place earlier than the timeline of the present story. One type of call back is a Running Gag. This is often used to remind viewers that there is an ongoing storyline. More or less a Shout-Out to itself — but if that's all that it's doing, then it's a Continuity Nod; a Call Back brings back an element that is actually relevant again.

Compare:

Alternately, in comedy: Tying the loose ends of a later, seemingly unrelated, joke to one earlier in the show; better known as a Brick Joke.

In a masterclass on playwriting, Alan Ayckbourn mentions this trope specifically, calling it "The Plant". Early on, one of his two demonstration actors mentions that he has an urge to sneeze when sexually aroused. Then at the very end:

Actress: Do you think we could become more than friends?
Actor: Aaaachoo!

Sometimes a Call Back will take up so much of a chapter or episode that will become a Sequel Episode to the earlier story it's referencing.

The opposite of this is the Call Forward. See also Chekhov's Gun, Brick Joke, Bookends, Mythology Gag, Sequel Episode and Internal Homage.


Works with their own pages


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Strips 
  • Done a couple times in FoxTrot. In one arc, Jason writes a parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! with his mother Andy cast as the Grinch. Who-Jason roots through her purse and finds it's full of Titanic ticket stubs, calling back to an arc where Andy became obsessed with the movie and watched it several dozen times.
  • One series from the late '90s in Peanuts had Rerun patting birds on the head, much to the resentment of Lucy, who mentions that her brother, Linus, did the same thing back in the 60s in a similar arc.
  • One 2006 Retail Sunday strip had Cooper wearing a "Goofy Grumbel" costume. 10 years later, the chain decided to revive the mascot and sent a new costume to the store. In both strips, Cooper volunteers to wear it because it means he doesn't have to deal with customers all day.

    Films — Animation 
  • An Extremely Goofy Movie has several. In the Goof Troop episode "Puppy Love", PJ got a crush on a girl after she recited her poetry. He does the same thing for the same reason in this movie. In the episode "Date with Destiny", Goofy went on a dancing date with one of Max's school staff members—he does the same thing here. The final scene has some to the first movie: the trophy engraving was reminiscent of what Max and Goofy said to each other when their relationship was at its tensest moment, and Bobby calls back to two jokes in one line when he uses the word "cheesa" to describe the pizza he's holding and pointedly calls it "scrumptious."
  • BIONICLE: Mask of Light contains a neat cross-media callback that also doubles as a Shout-Out to the Mata Nui Online Game, the fan-favorite web-game that helped popularize the brand. Lewa asks Takua if he's ever flown a Gukko bird, to which he responds that he hasn't flown one by himself, but he's been a second once, referring to one of the MNOG's minigames.
  • Penguins of Madagascar:
    • After Agent Classified drugs the penguins, he has them shipped to the North Wind's most remote safehouse. Its location: Madagascar.
    • After they break out of the box, and tumble into the cockpit of a commercial plane, Skipper briefly flirts with a bobblehead doll.
    • In the first Madagascar movie, Skipper asks Kowalski what's written in the box they're in and he says he doesn't understand because he can't read. In this film, during the scene where Kowalski is checking the manual of the North Wind's jet, he says "No, still can't read".
  • In The Sponge Bob Movie Sponge Out Of Water, SpongeBob teaching Plankton the concept of teamwork, with Plankton being unable to even pronounce the word is certain to remind some viewers of Sponge Bob Squarepants episodes like "F.U.N" and "Single Cell Anniversary" where SpongeBob had trouble teaching Plankton the concepts of fun, friendship, and love.
  • Strange Magic: Marianne and The Bog King's duet of the title song is full of these from Marianne's first visit to the Dark Forest. The various features of the forest that had frightened her then are now shown to be harmless or even beautiful.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Melina Perez faced Michelle McCool at Night of Champions 2009 and Michelle dropkicked her off the apron while she was doing the splits as part of her entrance. They faced each other again at the next Night of Champions event and Michelle tried to do the same thing again. This time however, Melina was ready for her and lifted herself out of the way.
  • When Trish Stratus guest hosted Raw she was involved in an awkward backstage segment with Chris Jericho where he mentioned their history together and led to Stratus having a return match against him that night.
  • A similar segment happened with Lita and Kane at the Raw 15th Anniversary where they had an awkward conversation backstage (before Ron Simmons came in to say "Damn!"). They had been in a lengthy storyline where Kane had pulled a Scarpia Ultimatum, with Lita agreeing to "sleep" with Kane in exchange for Kane not beating up Matt Hardy, who was her boyfriend both on and off-screen at the time, leading to a terrible "pregnancy" angle.
  • In Vickie Guerrero's match at WrestleMania 26] she went to the top rope and performed a Frog Splash as a tribute to her late husband Eddie Guerrero (she had been introduced on WWE TV during Eddie's feud with Rey Mysterio) and danced like he used to in his victory poses.
  • Santino Marella started a romance angle with WWE diva Tamina Snuka which was quite similar to his pairing with Beth Phoenix. On a Christmas Episode of SmackDown, Santino cornered Beth under the mistletoe and suggested they kiss for old time's sake. She kissed his tag team partner Vladimir Kozlov instead.
  • The basis for Matt Hardy's heel turn after he was drafted to Raw in 2003 was him turning on Lita whom he had been in a relationship with about a year ago before her neck injury.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters has an "Fetter" Memento (a magic item made by binding a ghost to its own anchor) called the Thirty-Thirty. This is a rifle once owned by a man named Donnie Pritchard, who once tried to sacrifice several people to a ghost town he was convinced was haunted by the ghost of its past. (Pritchard's captives overpowered him and beat him to death with the rifle.) Donnie Pritchard was a character in the New World of Darkness book Ghost Stories, in the story "Dust to Dust", about a literal ghost town.
  • For another New World of Darkness example, one of the first pieces of fiction in the World of Darkness corebook was a sermon by Marco Singe, the Pain Prophet of New Delhi, and introduced the concept of "the God-Machine" to the gameline. Come Demon: The Descent, it's revealed that Singe's family runs a Mega Corp. that has a special connection to the God-Machine, gaining proprietary knowledge of occult physics from its work.

    Theater 
  • Roy Cohn's first line in Angels in America ("I wish I was an octopus, a fucking octopus") is referenced in his final line before dying.
  • The Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone mentions at the very beginning that he is feeling "blue." At the end of the show, he is emotionally drained, and he mentions that it's not a perfect show, but it gives you a tune to hum "for when you're feeling blue."

    Visual Novels 
  • Frequently used between Narcissu and its prequel, Narcissu ~ side 2nd
    • Setsumi's last words from the original game are identical to the last thing Himeko said to Setsumi in Side 2nd
    • Atou's last question for Setsumi in the original note  is echoed in Setsumi's narration towards the end of side 2nd
    • There are several phrases that reoccur in the narration of Side 2nd
  • Happens a lot in the Ace Attorney: series, particularly Investigations and Spirit of Justice. One of the more serious ones is the dream Phoenix has during 2-4, which is exactly the same as the one he had at the beginning of 2-1, but it makes much more sense in the context of Phoenix having to defend an obviously guilty man to rescue Maya.
  • In Grisaia No Meikyuu Yuuji's friend Danny was really looking forward to meeting the presumably badass communications officer Immortal Robbie only to find out he was actually an Occidental Otaku who was actually being called Imouto Robbie because of his obsession with, well, imouto characters. In Grisaia no Rakuen Yumiko heads to a small cafe hoping to meet a retired intelligence officer and figures she'll find some sleek professional badass, but nope! Robbie again. You can see her dreams dying.
  • Super Dangan Ronpa 2 utilizes a ton of these as part of it's MO of taking the major plot points and themes from the first game and turning them on their head. One such Call Back in particular is used to rather excruciating effect during Chiaki's execution, which occurs at the same point and under similar circumstances as Naegi's foiled execution in the first game, only this time the game throws numerous Hope Spots at the player before finally killing her off instead.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Callback