An Early-Bird Cameo is when characters appear earlier than their introduction in the same work. Superficially similar to the Chekhov's Gunman
, which can happen with or without an introduction to the viewer.
See also Continuity Cameo
, Production Foreshadowing
, and Hilarious in Hindsight
. Focusing on these can lead to a Poorly Disguised Pilot
. Compare Destined Bystander
, where a minor character eventually becomes
important through Character Development
. Vaguely antonymous with Marth Debuted in Smash Bros.
. Not to be confused with a Call Forward
, which is when a prequel references a character or plot device from the original.
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Hey, It's That Character
Anime and Manga
- When Tintin In The Congo was turned into colour, Thomson and Thompson were added into the scene where he is saying goodbye to everyone on the railway platform (they were not present in the original black and white edition). The pair made their first proper appearance in Cigars Of The Pharaoh.
- Certain random background Legionaires were changed into Brainiac 5 when early Legion of Super Heroes stories were reprinted, by simply recolouring them to Brainy's colours (purple clothes, green skin, blonde hair).
- The graphic novel adaptation of the first Artemis Fowl novel features references to Opal Koboi and her company- both of which play major roles in the second book- that were not in the print version.
- In the Mega Man comic, the Short Circuits in issue 4 had Proto Man, Rush, Bass, and Treble showing up, demanding their turn in the comic.
- In the Noob comic, a minor character named Castörga appeared in the sixth comic. Its story happens during a period equivalent to that of early Season 3 of the original web/TV series, where Castörga has his first appearance in Season 3 finale.
- In the New Fifty Two, Arthur Light initally appears as an A.R.G.U.S. scientist in Justice League, and doesn't acquire his Dr Light powers until the Trinity War crossover that kicks off Forever Evil.
- Well, you couldn't known who is that character by the moment, but you would remember seeing The White Violin, aka Vanya near Hargreeves's rushed up funeral in the second issue cover of The Umbrella Academy... but it doesn't really happen in the comic. The funeral happens, but she's not present.
- In The Chosen One's Journey, Steven and Cynthia appear as early as Kanto, along with Pokemon from all 5 (later 6) generations.
- In Project Tatterdemalion, a Bleach AU in which Hollows are the result of The Virus and shinigami those of its vaccine, a pre-Hollow Nel gets a brief cameo as a coworker of Ichigo's parents who was infected- well before the introduction of Arrancar, or indeed any version of the events of Bleach canon.
- In Game Theory, several characters from later seasons, such as Zest, Quint, Megane, and Tiida take part the Jewel Seed incident. Teana also gets a brief cameo, and although the girl in a wheelchair is never actually named, it's pretty clear that she's Hayate.
- Gil Graham is initially mentioned in passing and eventually appears himself along with the Liese twins. (In fact Lotte Liese is an Eleventh Hour Ranger.) Quint also holds a conversation with her husband Genya (another example of this trope) where they talk about the two girls they're trying to adopt - clearly Subaru and Ginga. And finally Lutecia appears as a baby.
- Turnabout Storm's fan novelization has a cameo from Flash Sentry in chapter 52. Keep in mind that Twilight doesn't even have her wings yet, so this is happening way before he is canonically introduced. The author has confirmed Flash is in the story as a nod to the movie. Shining Armour also counts, since he is introduced in the season 2 finale, and the story takes place before that point.
- Chapter 54 has a cameo from Sunset Shimmer in a flashback. This was actually suggested by the author of the original.
- Adventures on the Friendship Express also has a cameo from Flash Sentry in chapter 8. Season 3 of FiM has not ended here yet, so Twilight does not have her wings either, so this is also before he is canonically introduced.
- Welcome To The World Of Pokemon has game mechanics that appear earlier than they do in canon. Mega Evolution, a Pokémon X and Y mechanic, appears as early as Red With Rage.
- This can be seen in several super-hero movies wherein pre-transformed allies, sidekicks, or villains may make an appearance, whereas in the comics, their first appearance included said transformation. Billy Dee Williams as pre-Two-Face Harvey Dent in Tim Burton's Batman (though the former was replaced by Tommy Lee Jones by the time he actually became Two-Face).
- The producers of The Dark Knight Saga originally wanted the DA in the first movie to be Dent, but decided they couldn't give him time to properly develop so they came up with another character instead. This, unfortunately, led the filmmakers to stridently avoid this trope.
- Dylan Baker as the pre-Lizard Curt Connors in the Spider-Man Trilogy series.
- Similarly, Samuel Sterns appears as a supporting character in The Incredible Hulk. His final scene appears to be the start of his mutation into The Leader.
- In the two Iron Man movies, Captain America's shield can be seen on Tony Stark's worktable along with Thor's hammer. The Captain shows up in a block of ice for the alternate opening of The Incredible Hulk (2008) and got his own movie in 2011.
- In the first film, Rhodey looks at the MK II armor, and says "Next time, baby!" He wears an upgraded version of that armor in the sequel.
- Thor itself features a cameo by Hawkeye, who was featured in The Avengers, as well as The Cosmic Cube from Captain America: The First Avenger appearing in The Stinger. Also, the Infinity Gauntlet is visible in Odin's trophy room/weapon vault. Considering Thanos appeared at the end of the Avengers film, the possibility of the Gauntlet becoming more important later on could be a little more likely now.
- The sequel, Thor: The Dark World, features The Collector from Guardians of the Galaxy in the stinger. We also get a menton of at least two Infinity Gems.
- The updated version of Star Wars: A New Hope has Boba Fett showing up in an added scene, though he's not significant until the next movie.
- The Special Edition's Mos Eisley intro has a cameo appearance of Dash Rendar's Outrider ship from Shadows of the Empire.
- The planet Coruscant from the prequel trilogy is shown during the celebration sequence in the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi. The DVD version also adds buildings seen during the prequels.
- In the film version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader at the end we hear Aunt Alberta call up "Jill Pole's stopped by for a visit". Jill becomes an important character in the next story The Silver Chair.
- Most adaptations of A Christmas Carol introduce Tiny Tim and often the rest of the Cratchits near the beginning of the story, while in the book they didn't appear until the Ghost of Christmas Present stave.
- Colossus can briefly be seen in X-Men sitting near the basketball court. He gets much more screen time and a few lines in the next two movies.
- In X2: X-Men United, Dr. Henry McCoy A.K.A Beast appears briefly on TV in the bar.
- The songs Pink is singing while hiding in the bathroom stall in the movie version of Pink Floyd's 1982 film adaptation of The Wall, besides the album track, "Stop", are lyrics to "Your Possible Pasts", a track left off the album but finally released on the 1983 follow-up The Final Cut, and "5:11 AM (The Moment of Clarity)", a track from former bandleader Roger Waters' 1984 solo album, The Pros And Cons Of Hitchhiking. Both songs were written at around the same time as the finished Wall album.
- The Warcraft novels Tides of Darkness and Beyond the Dark Portal, novelizations of the Real-Time Strategy Warcraft II and its expansion respectively, have this in spades, not only featuring characters from that time period that were only introduced in Warcraft III and beyond, but also updating the story itself in the light of retcons and heavy additions to the canon in later games. They're almost "the Second War as seen through the prism of World of Warcraft". Let's just say that the flashback in The Frozen Throne in which Gul'dan wanders into the Tomb of Sargeras is recited almost verbatim in the first book, and Auchindoun plays a much more extended role in the second, along with the introduction of the "new" draenei.
- Those Doctor Who Novelisations that were published some years after the TV story was broadcast sometimes added in references to later stories. For instance, in the novelisation of Terror of the Autons, the bomb that the hypnotised Professor Philips uses to try to kill the Doctor and Jo was retconned into a Sontaran hand grenade. And there's the notorious line in the novelisation of The Time Meddler where the Doctor refers to the Monk as a Gallifreyan, leading fans who relied on the novelisations to believe that the Doctor's home planet had been named eight years earlier than it was on TV.
- The novelisation of "Shada" contains a short scene where the Fourth Doctor and Romana gossip about the Corsair, a Time Lord created for the Eleventh Doctor episode "The Doctor's Wife".
- Michael Connelly: Mickey Haller a.k.a. The Lincoln Lawyer might be one of the relatives Harry Bosch met in the flashback featured in The Black Ice.
- In Clary's dream in City of Ashes, she sees Jace standing with white wings (a reference to his angel blood) and, behind her, a dark-haired boy with blood-tipped wings - Sebastian.
Live Action TV
- I, Claudius did this in combining the novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God — a large part of the latter discusses Claudius' childhood friend and ally Herod Agrippa, despite the fact he is absent for much of the former, even though it is about this period of Claudius' life. For this reason, the television series introduces Herod as a character long before Claudius becomes emperor.
- Babylon 5 did this with its TV movie In The Beginning. This prequel covers the apocalyptic events of the Earth-Minbari War ten years before the series. John Sheridan, the star of the series by this point, meets and interacts with many pivotal members of the cast. He goes on a peace mission with Dr. Franklin and G'Kar, and is interrogated by Delenn when the Minbari take them all prisoner. However, when Sheridan was introduced in Season 2, only Ivanova mentions having met him before— ironically, after the war was over and therefore not on camera for this movie. Bruce Boxleiter was the show's star, and it was unthinkable that a TV movie would place him in a supporting role. Showrunner JMS argued to fans that any reminiscences about the events in the movie must have happened off camera on the series.
- True Blood has done this with a number of characters and concepts, most notably Sophie-Anne, the vampire queen of Louisiana, who has a cameo in season two of the series but isn't introduced until the sixth book. The last episode of season two also raises the question of "what" Sookie is, something that isn't asked, much less answered, until the later books.
- Almost every DC Comics characters on Smallville, most notably a proto-Justice League.
- Inverted in Game of Thrones, in which many characters (notably Edmund and Blackfish Tully) first appear later than in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, to prevent the producers of the television show from having to cast someone for one scene in the current season and then hope and pray that they're still available for a much bigger part in a later season.
- Barry Allen in Arrow. He first appears in an episode called "The Scientist", and that's his thing; he's a scientist. The Flash isn't going to be properly introduced until his own series. Two other characters who are going to be regulars in The Flash, Caitlin and Cisco (Killer Frost and Vibe in the comics), make cameos in the episode "The Man Under the Hood".
- Another blink-and-you'll-miss-it in "Suicide Squad" where Harley Quinn (who probably won't get much introduction until/unless the show is allowed to cross over with the Batman sub-universe) shouts something from her cell.
- In the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary special, "The Day of The Doctor", as all known incarnations of the Doctor gather to save his home planet of Gallifrey, Peter Capaldi makes an early debut as the then-upcoming Twelfth Doctor, albeit only as shots of his hands manipulating the TARDIS controls and his eyes in extreme close-up; he would not debut in full until the following Christmas special, "The Time of the Doctor".
- The Royal Shakespeare Company is fond of doing this to Launcelot Gobbo, the "fool" from The Merchant of Venice. The 1999-1994 run (with Christopher Luscombe in the role) combined the two "Prince of Morocco" scenes, so that Launcelot's first appearance came directly after the scene in which the bond is agreed to. He was depicted doing odd jobs around Shylock's office (preparing coffee and rearranging files) until the others exited, at which point he suddenly stepped out and gave his monologue—probably quite a surprise to audience members who thought he was just an extra! The current run gives him an even earlier cameo—the show's setting has been transposed to Las Vegas, and there's an Elvis impersonator walking around singing appropriate music. Guess who he turns out to be...
- The Things I Will Not Do When I Direct A Shakespeare Production, On Stage Or Film, #225: "I will not incorporate an ominous witch-doctor woman into Romeo and Juliet, having her stalk the streets of Verona until she's finally revealed as the apothecary."
- In Shrek The Musical, Puss in Boots makes a quick cameo during "Travel Song".
- In the Ace Attorney case "Rise from the Ashes" (inserted at the end of the first game when it was updated from the Gameboy to the DS), Gumshoe gives Edgeworth a menu from a French restaurant that's just opened. You have to squint a little, since the picture is tiny, but the man on the menu is Jean Armstrong. Armstrong and his French restaurant don't show up until the third game.
- Then again, in Japan, they've got the first four cases of the first game, and the two other games as the Gyakuten Saiban trilogy for the GBA. The fifth case was added in the DS remake, which came later, hence his apparition.
- It introduced a Dub Induced Plothole in the French version, which tried to make Jean Armstrong sound less French, for obvious reasons. He was made Libanese in this cameo, but Italian in the third game, when translated there.
- Yoshi made retroactive cameos in the Super Mario Bros.. trilogy by way of video game remakes. In Super Mario Bros. DX (a remake of the first Super Mario Bros..), there's a block hidden in each level in Challenge Mode, each holding a Yoshi egg. Collect it, and Yoshi will hatch out during the point tally. When Super Mario Bros. 2 was remade as Super Mario Advance, you can unlock an extra mode where you can find two Yoshi eggs in each level. Find all the eggs in each world, and Yoshis would hatch out of them. Finally, Super Mario Bros. 3 was remade for Super Mario All-Stars and as Super Mario Advance 4, and in both versions, the King of World 7 had been transformed into a Yoshi rather than a Piranha Plant.
- A more straight example from that game would be the fact that the sprite used for the last example mentioned would later be used for the main sprite for Yoshi in Yoshi's Island.
- Which actually previously appeared in the SNES version in Yoshi's Cookie, albeit unused.
- In Mega Man Powered Up, a remake of Mega Man 1, there is an option to play as Proto Man, who did not appear in the series' original run until Mega Man 3.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog, Knuckles is playable in Sonic 2 as part of the Knuckles in Sonic 2 setup. The iOS version of Sonic 2 also adds in a good ending where the Death Egg crashes on Angel Island and Knuckles is seen peeking through the bushes when Eggman stomps his feet in anger.
- Cream the Rabbit can be seen as concept art in Sonic Mega Collection.
- Miles "Tails" Prower is arguably this, if one considers Sonic CD to take place before Sonic 2.
- In the Anniversary remaster of Halo: Combat Evolved, 343 Guilty Spark is introduced in a terminal message where he warns you that your ship is getting too close to the ring. The rest of the terminals delve into his backstory.
- 007: From Russia with Love, the adaptation of the Sean Connery Bond film of same name, featured a number of Bond gadgets that didn't show up until later films in the franchise. For example, Bond uses the jetpack from Thunderball in the prologue/Justified Tutorial, and he gets the Aston Martin DB-5 from Goldfinger on the third level.
- The House Of The Dead Overkill PS3/PC rerelease, Extended Cut'', adds two extra chapters played as Action Girl Varla Gunns and her brother's Dumb Blonde girlfriend. In the second extra chapter, the player can catch a quick glimpse of the Crawler, the boss of the fourth regular chapter (not that this makes his appearance any less out-of-nowhere).
- Other than their captains, the crews of two of the three faction flagships in Star Trek Online made partial or full appearances in missions before they were fully introduced and fleshed out in the annual event mission "First Contact Day"/"Day of Honor"/"Republic Day". Some of the USS Enterprise-F command staff appeared during cutscenes in the feature episode "The 2800", while the RRW Lleiset command staff turned up as background NPCs during "A Step Between Stars".
- In Sailor Moon CS, Minako can be seen briefly in issue 4.
- A Miss Meioh appears in issue 2.
- The rainbow crystals and associated youma appear earlier than they did in the anime.
- Early in Homestuck, John reads a dubiously educational programming textbook called "Data Structures For Assholes", written in an extremely abusive style by someone called Buckminster Funnyuncle. Later in the comic, Karkat Vantas, a popular character with an interest in programming and a "virtually identical" writing style was introduced - Funnyuncle even talks about 'wriggling about in viscous secretions', which fits Karkat's Bizarre Alien Biology theme perfectly. When Karkat first appeared, a few fans theorised he was Funnyuncle. In the Homestuck Books, while the story was not edited directly in keeping with Andrew Hussie's Writing by the Seat of Your Pants policy, the commentary asks the reader to "Just imagine all the text in the book is capitalized, and that it was written by Karkat".
- As Vaguely Recalling JoJo is an adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, there are comedic scenes where characters from the other parts will show up
- Vanilla Ice is seen playing card games with the D'Arby Brothers when Joseph is using Hermit Purple. He and Telence also appear in a photo of Dio created by Hermit Purple.
- Giorno Giovanna is seen in background events with his dad, DIO.
- Yoshikage Kira is the owner of the dog devoured by Yellow Temperance.
- Illuso shows up Polnareff and Kakyoin talk about the non-existance of a world inside the mirror.
- Josuke Higashikata, Yuriko Yamagishi, and Keicho Nijimura show up during Steel Dan's underclassman rant.
- Rohan Kishibe is the mangaka who interacts with Boingo.
- Page looks like Pesci, which doubles as a pun and then Straizo spares him, so he's alive during part 5 somehow.
- In the Legion of Super Heroes cartoon, before he joined the Legion and coined his superhero name in The Substitutes, Matter-Eater Lad was a competitor in the Space Olympics episode "Champions." The other, rejected lame-power applicants also showed up in Lightning Storm for comic relief. Ultra Boy makes his first appearance as a competitor in Champions, as well.
- Batman: The Animated Series established Harvey Dent as Gotham's DA and a friend of Bruce Wayne in two episodes before he has the accident that melts his face off.
- The Spectacular Spider Man not only gives Eddie Brock an extensive role (influenced by his role in Ultimate Spider-Man), but also has Norman and Harry Osborn, The Sandman, The Rhino, The Shocker, Doctor Octopus, Curt Connors, and, possibly, Frederick Foswell, as supporting characters or minor villains before their inevitable darker turns, as well as, as said before, every named schoolmate Peter had in the comics, as well as (again, as noted above) Gwen Stacy, whose fate is well known. Felicia Hardy also cameos in costume in a Halloween Episode before her official introduction.
- Cletus Kasady (Carnage's host) makes a cameo in the Christmas episode, had the series continued he probably would've become a recurring villain.
- Morris Bench (Hydro-Man in the comics) and Roderick Kingsley (Hobgoblin in the comics) also made appearances, and Mac Gargin (Scorpion in the comics) was mentioned at one point. Had the series continued, all three villains would have likely been used.
- Miles Warren also makes recurring appearances as an amoral and cold-hearted scientist who gradually takes over Curt Connors' lab, during which time he makes it clear he's interested in gene-splicing by transforming Kraven the Hunter. Had the series gone on he would have become the supervillain The Jackal (who splices his DNA with a jackal late in the comics) and probably done their version of The Clone Saga. They also point out that he is the brother of Peter's high school science teacher.
- Also, a girl seen at the school dance in the seventh episode later becomes a recurring character in the second season: Sha Shan, Flash Thompson's would-be-girlfriend.
- Both animated versions of Horton Hears a Who! could actually be this to the Grinch, since the book both animations were based on predated the book version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.
- In Piglet's Big Movie, the episode from the original Winnie-the-Pooh dealing with Kanga and Roo's arrival and subsequent integration into the forest is adapted in flashback form; however, Tigger is in on Rabbit's initial plot to get rid of Kanga. This creates an inconsistency, not only with the book canon, but with the original Disney canon; in both versions Kanga and Roo were well settled long before Tigger showed up.
- In Ultimate Spider-Man, Curt Conners has a recurring role in the first season as a SHIELD scientist. He doesn't become the Lizard until the second season.
- James the Red Engine makes cameos in all six episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine prior to "Thomas And The Breakdown Train/Thomas Saves The Day". This causes a continuity error since the following episode keeps the novels' statement of the events of said episode occurring on his first day. Henry similarly makes cameos prior to "The Sad Story of Henry/Come Out Henry", while Thomas himself appears before the events of the Three Railway Engines stories as a result of "Thomas And Gordon" being adapted as the first episode to fit his leading status.
- This seems to be a recurring tendency for characters newly introduced in feature length specials. Most seasons produced at the same time will feature said character. The majority of the time the specials are released some time after the season (are a fair number of episodes) have already aired, meaning the character first appears in the TV episodes.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- The 90s X-Men cartoon had background appearances from Mystique, Pyro, Earthquake, Blob, Omega Red, and Captain America at least an episode (or in Cap's case, a couple of seasons) before they actually played some sort of role.
- South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: Butters appears several times as another background kid with no lines, most prominently during the ice-skating scene at Stark's Pond. He makes a named and fully voiced appearance in Season 3, produced after the movie.
- Long before viewers even knew who Princess Azula was in Avatar: The Last Airbender she made one brief appearance in the audience during Zuko and Ozai's Agni Kai where the former recieves his signature facial scar. Since she was the only one in the crowd smiling as Zuko screamed in pain, the viewers got a clear warning she was a serious threat.
- In the first ever episode of Pokémon, Ash catches a glimpse of a large golden bird flying through a rainbow. That bird was only revealed with the arrival of the second generation as Ho-Oh, a legendary bird Pokémon; his colors changed a lot since then. It is actually a habit within the franchise to show a new Pokémon specimen in the anime or in movies before it's actually available in the current games. Togepi, Marill (and its pre-evolution Azurill), Wailmer, Snubbull, Kecleon, Lucario, and Munchlax are only few examples of this phenomenon.
- For non-character examples: the first movie's Big Bad, Mewtwo, uses Shadow Ball, a generation before it's introduced in the games. Likewise, Green from Pokémon Special also had Pokémon who know second generation moves and used them in the RGB saga, again before the second generation introduced them.
- Also from the first movie - Ash fights the then-not introduced Donphan during the opening credits and it uses another move from the next generation, Rollout. Neither Donphan nor Rollout were even named in the movie.
- Elekid, Ledyba, Lugia, and Slowking appeared in the second movie (set during the Orange Island saga and before Gold & Silver and the Johto saga came out).
- Zorua and its evolution, Zoroark, appeared in the thirteenth movie before the Gen V games were released.
- Latios and Latias appeared in Pokemon Heroes before the release of Ruby and Sapphire, and Wynaut, Duskull, and Volbeat were all in the short film that was shown before the movie.
- Chatot, Manaphy, Mantyke, and Buizel all made their anime debut in the ninth movie, just months before they first appeared in the games. Another Chatot appeared in a regular episode before Diamond and Pearl came out.
- The last few episodes of the original series primarily featured Blaziken (a large chicken-like Pokémon). Blaziken is actually the final evolved form of the Generation III Fire-type starter, Torchic.
- Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior debuted the alternate forms for Giratina and Shaymin before the release of Platinum
- When Ash and co visited Virbank City, he checked out Pokéstar Studios and fought Gym Leader Roxie for his eighth badge afterwards. This was all done before Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 came out, which was when Virbank City and everything in it was introduced, at least when it was first broadcast in Japan.
- Mega Mewtwo Y and Sylveon, one of the new Fairy-Type Pokémon, were featured in the 16th movie and the accompanying short ahead of Pokémon X and Y.
- The Best Wishes anime also featured Pokémon from X and Y. Helioptile, Gogoat, and Noivern debuted shortly after the 16th movie in Japan. Also coming along with them was X and Y character Alexa, who happens to be sister of the first Gym Leader in Kalos, and is there to introduce the Kalos region to Ash. Not so much outside Japan, where the first episode with them debuted on X and Y's launch.
- The Pokémon Origins special was the official debut for Mega Charizard X, before any press material was released for the new Mega Evolution.
- Some of the new Mega Evolutions introduced in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire also debuted before the game's release. Mega Diancie was featured in the 17th movie, while Mega Sceptile, Swampert, and Metagross will be featured in another XY special two weeks before the remakes are released.
- In the Lime-iro Senkitan OVA, characters from the series' direct sequel, Lime Iro Ryukitan X, appear. Major Gamou, lead heroine Tsumugi Shima (and her Raimu), as well as one of the villainesses, Linen (though she's unvoiced), all appear for the first time, not only before their anime series, but before their game was released as well.
- At the end of the final episode of Mai-HiME, Arika, the lead of Mai-Otome, runs across the screen in the background.
- Also in the second episode you can see a girl who looks almost exactly like Nina sitting in the seat next to Mai and in front of Yuuichi. (She also is in the lineup of girls in the opening credits)
- Arika is shown in slightly more detail in the last chapter of the Mai-Hime manga, apparently meeting with some school officials to discuss enrolling.
- The final battle of Mobile Fighter G Gundam includes cameos of Gundams from other series (as well as Daitarn 3 and Zambot 3)...including Wing Gundam and Talgeese whose show had yet to air! Similarly, Gundam vs. Gundam NEXT introduced the hero and eponymous Gundam from the novel Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn before the anime adaptation had ever aired.
- The first or second English Dragon Ball Z opening had adult/future Trunks in the title slide at the very end, despite him not being introduced until several arcs, and a Big Bad or two, later. Showing up at other points in the intro are Super Saiyan Vegeta and Mecha Frieza (who is getting sliced apart by Super Saiyan adult/future Trunks.) long before their English debuts.
- Zone of the Enders: IDOLO was created as a prequel OVA to the Playstation 2 game Zone of the Enders. In it, scientist Rachel Links looks at a Fatal Family Photo of her estranged husband and children, reflecting that she wished she could seem them again. It is a small scene in the OVA, but the full-length series that came after centered on her husband James trying to reconcile with their children and seek her out.
- The Pretty Cure All Stars movies have done this a few times: Itsuki and Yuri shows up briefly in DX 2, the Belliter weapons show up in DX 3, and Cure Honey drops in to help twice in New Stage 3.
- In the Heroes graphic novels, Sparrow Redhouse makes a brief cameo in a season one issue, about two years before her proper debut in the "Rebellion" story arc (which also retconned an unnamed, masked extra from the TV series as being her).
- The Protectobots, Aerialbots, Stunticons, and Combaticons in the Marvel Transformers Generation 1 comic first appeared in Buster Witwiky's dream in a UK filler story before their proper debut in the US comic.
- This happened to the new Aqualad in Young Justice - the version for the animated series was created first, but his comic-book counterpart first appeared in June 2010. The series premiered January 2011.
- Kate Bishop's new costume from Young Avengers Vol. 2 made a surprise appearance in Matt Fraction's Hawkeye before its proper debut. This is only notable since Hawkeye generally runs on the Not Wearing Tights and Civvie Spandex tropes, with Kate and Clint rarely, if ever, actually wearing any costumes.
- Kamala Khan, the newest Ms. Marvel, made a brief cameo in the final issue of Captain Marvel before making her proper debut a few months later.
- Thane, the son of Thanos, made a cameo in his Inhuman form in the Marvel Avengers Alliance game before making a proper debut in Infinity.
- Marvel really seems to love doing this with video games. They debuted the new Spider-Woman costume in the Spider-Man Unlimited mobile game before officially bringing it into the comics.
- In Lilo & Stitch, as Pleakly and The Grand Councilwoman are using the lift to go to Jumba's cell, you can see Dr. Jacques von Hämsterviel in a cell to the right. Hamsterviel would go onto becoming a major villain in the TV series.
- Kamen Rider Double aided in a fairly important battle in Kamen Rider Decade's first movie before his series premiered.
- What's more, he came out of nowhere, single-handedly defeated the Big Bad (who was whomping two Riders who could singlehandedly destroy a single universe), and then left. The other riders compacted on that with their own Crowning Moment of Awesome, but still, ain't that application of The Worf Effect taking promotions too far? (As further evidence, when Double joins up for Decade's final battle in the Decade Grand Finale movie, he's been brought down to saner power levels.)
- Double's movie, Double Forever: A to Z: The Gaia Memories of Fate, featured the debut of his successor, Kamen Rider OOO.
- Kamen Rider Fourze does the same in OOO's summer movie, crash-landing in the middle of a fight.
- Kengo and Yuki also make a cameo in OOO's final episode.
- Kamen Rider Wizard appears in Fourze's summer movie, and his human identity Haruto Soma appears at the end of Fourze's finale.
- Instead of appearing in the summer movie, Kamen Rider Gaim appears in the Post-Script Episodes of Kamen Rider Wizard...along with all the other Heisei-era riders.
- The Movie Wars series features the Second Riders in various degrees of importance before debuting in their respective series. Both Accel and Meteor appear in The Stinger (Accel does nothing - in fact, we don't even see his Rider Form; we only learn that he's a Rider because he said that "Double isn't the only Rider in Futo anymore" while holding a Gaia Memory- but at least Meteor was dealing with a bunch of escaping Foundation X goons). On the other hand, Birth takes part in the final battle.
- Super Sentai has been doing the same thing as Kamen Rider in recent years as well. Both Tensou Sentai Goseiger and Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger showed up for a quick battle cameo in the teamup movies of the two teams before them (both of which involve Samurai Sentai Shinkenger as one of the teams), a month or so before each of their shows started.
- The obscure made-for-TV film Cucumber Castle, based on the Bee Gees' song of the same title and starring Barry and Maurice Gibb, features an appearance by a familiar-faced child - Andy Gibb, then ten years old.
- When Agent Coulson first appeared in Iron Man, he was nothing more than a random S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. He kept popping up in the Marvel films in minor roles, but it wasn't until The Avengers that he became a major character.
Live Action TV
- Played with in Witchblade: Gabriel Bowman is first introduced in the third episode of season one (not counting the pilot movie); then, in the second season premiere, which is a same-but-different retread of the events of the pilot, he's shown to have been present at the shootout in the museum, and ends up meeting Sara a lot earlier than he did the first time. Which would make him a kind of Destined Bystander as well.
- The titular character of Hey Arnold! actually first appeared in a stop-motion skit featured in Sesame Street.
- Cookie Monster actually made his first appearance in a skit featured in The Ed Sullivan Show (which itself was based on an old instructional film by IBM), where he is shown taking a machine apart piece-by-piece and eating it, only to realize that doing so will cause the machine to self-destruct within his body, causing him to explode. And for some reason, this version of Cookie Monster has fangs, while the one in Sesame Street does not.
- Several years before he became famous as the host of Double Dare, Marc Summers was a page at CBS. At age 22 in 1973, he got to fill in as announcer on The Joker's Wild for one week.
- The Twelfth Doctor makes a surprise cameo appearance in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, a month before he is set to take over as the main character of the show.
- In the season one episode of The Drew Carey Show "Drewstock" we see Grant Shaud (most famous at the time as Miles from Murphy Brown) as an extra. A season later Shaud shows up as Kate's latest boyfriend Jack, who claims he's the devil.
- The liner notes for Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction include the lyric "With your bitch slap rapping and your cocaine tongue you get nothing done", a lyric for "You Could Be Mine" (which was recorded in their next album). Also, the notes for Use Your Illusion I have "Ain't It Fun?", the title of a song they covered in The Spaghetti Incident?.
- My Chemical Romance's debut album, I Brought You My Bullets, Your Brought Me Your Love, have the french phrase "Merci pour le venin" written on the liner notes. It is the french title of "Thank You For The Venom", a song appearing on their second album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge.
- They Might Be Giants' "On Earth My Nina", released on 1999's Long Tall Weekend, was a reversed acapella version of "Thunderbird", which wasn't released until The Spine five years later.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers played Fortune Faded live in August 2001, as part of a batch of new songs. A studio version of it didn't appear until November 2003, when it became the new single for their Greatest Hits compilation.
- The By The Way sessions demo has since leaked out. The band did not release the song at the time because they felt the chorus melody resembled one by another band. They rewrote the chorus for the Greatest Hits version.
- Several years before Jeremy Dawson and Chad Petree founded Shiny Toy Guns, the chorus lyrics of "You are The One" appeared in a trance song called "Neo(The One)" that they produced under the name Slyder, and which appeared in Grand Theft Auto III on the Rise FM station.
- A year before Pearl Jam's debut album, Eddie Vedder could be heard singing backup on Temple Of The Dog's self-titled album, as well as getting a full on duet with Chris Cornell on the song "Hunger Strike". Temple Of The Dog and Pearl Jam shared most of the same lineup (and the drummer, who played with Cornell in Soundgarden, would later join the band), and Vedder ended up on the Temple Of The Dog album after auditioning for Pearl Jam.
- Da Yoopers had "Cowboy" Dan Collins sing backing vocals on two albums several years before he became an official member.
- Shania Twain's first credits were singing backing vocals on albums by labelmates Sammy Kershaw and Jeff Chance in the early 90s.
- The first credit for Rachel Proctor (co-writer of songs by Martina McBride, Jessica Simpson, and Jennette McCurdy) was singing backing vocals on Blake Shelton's "Ol' Red" in 2002.
- The live film produced from Michael Jackson's 1988 Japanese performance features Michael performing "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" with one of his back-up singers from the tour - Sheryl Crow, whose fame was still several years away.
- The ending theme to Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994), whose soundtrack was at least partly composed by Jackson, sounds very similar to his single "Stranger in Moscow", which was composed in 1993 but not released until 1997.
- The 1971 album Ram by Paul and Linda McCartney had a ukelele-driven segueway song called "Ram On (Reprise)" on side two. On the fadeout, you can hear Paul launch into a few lines of "Big Barn Bed", which would be the first song on Wings' second album, Red Rose Speedway (1973).
- Early copies of Radiohead's Kid A included an extra booklet behind the CD tray as an Easter Egg. Some of the cryptic text included in said booklet turned out to be lyrics to songs that would appear on Amnesiac, which was recorded during the same sessions.
- One of Jennette McCurdy's first credits was appearing in the music video for Faith Hill's "The Way You Love Me". Before that, she was a recurring actress on Mad TV.
- And speaking of Faith, she also qualifies, as she sang backing vocals on Gary Morris' 1989 album Stones four years before releasing her debut single.
- Singer-songwriter Jeffrey Steele's first credit was on the late 80s tribute album A Town South of Bakersfield. He also wrote an album cut for Steve Wariner in 1990 before doing two albums and an EP as Lead Bassist of the band Boy Howdy (who had two Top 10 hits with "She'd Give Anything" and "They Don't Make 'em Like That Anymore"). After they split up, Steele enjoyed a Breakup Breakout as a highly successful songwriter for other artists, most notably Rascal Flatts.
- Before Keith Urban charted his first single in 1999, he had a ton of bit parts. Among them were a backing vocal credit on INXS' Live Baby Live (1991); a cameo in the video for Alan Jackson's cover of "Summertime Blues"; co-writing credits for Toby Keith, 4 Runner, and the Raybon Brothers; and a few scattered electric guitar credits (most notably Garth Brooks' Double Live). He also formed a short-lived band called The Ranch which had two low-charting singles and one album for Capitol in 1997.
- R.E.M. often played songs live, got tired of them, then returned to them a few years later when they were short of material for albums. There are numerous examples across their IRS catalogue. It happened occasionally at Warner Bros as well.
- A significant example of this is Bad Day which was recorded for Lifes Rich Pageant in 1986, left off, and eventually rerecorded in 2003 as a 'new' track for their In Time compilation. It proved a big commercial success, and amusingly, a lot of commentators said this was R.E.M.'s return to form (without realising it was an old song). Unfortunately, [[Dethroning Moment of Suck|Around The Sun]] happened.
- Stevie B. sang the backup vocals on Jaya's "If You Leave Me Now" a decade before covering the song himself.
- Kesha's mother, Pebe Sebert, has written many of her songs. But many, many years before that (1978 to be exact), Sebert wrote "Old Flames Can't Hold a Candle to You", originally recorded by Joe Sun and later made famous by Dolly Parton.
- About a year-and-a-half before his debut, Eric Church wrote Terri Clark's late 2004-early 2005 single "The World Needs a Drink".
- Before his 1999 debut single, Brad Paisley wrote "Another You", a top 5 single for David Kersh in 1996.
- In 2004, Toby Keith released a duet with his daughter Krystal on a cover of Inez and Charlie Foxx's "Mockingbird". Nine years later, she began her official singing career on Show Dog-Universal, the label of which her father is president.
- Before their debut single came out, Lady Antebellum sang on Jim Brickman's "Never Alone".
- Jerrod Niemann, who had a big hit in 2010 with "Lover, Lover", made his first appearance as part of the gang of backing vocalists on Garth Brooks' 2005 single "Good Ride Cowboy" (which he also co-wrote).
- Record Producer Michael Knox produced two obscure country albums in the late 1990s (29 Nights by Danni Leigh and Like a Train by J.D. Myers). He had no other credits until 2005, when he became Jason Aldean's produer, a role he has held to this day.
- The former album also had a track written by a then-unknown Big Kenny, later of Big & Rich (he also wrote a song on The Mavericks' Trampoline the same year).
- Speaking of Big & Rich… before they released their debut single "Wild West Show" in December 2003, they wrote "Amarillo Sky" for McBride & the Ride in 2002 (later Covered Up by the aforementioned Jason Aldean). They also co-wrote and sang backing vocals on the album track "She's a Butterfly" on Martina McBride's (no relation) 2003 album Martina.
- Before releasing her debut single, Kacey Musgraves sang on Josh Abbott Band's 2011 single "Oh, Tonight".
- Before having any hits of his own, Luke Bryan co-wrote the title track of Travis Tritt's 2004 album My Honky Tonk History and Billy Currington's 2006 single "Good Directions".
- Before releasing their first single, Country Music duo Thompson Square sang backing vocals on Ty Herndon's 2007 album Right About Now.
- The Frozen Autumn's female member, Arianna, first appeared as a guest vocalist on the title track of Fragments of Memories, followed by collaborating with Diego Merletto on the short-lived side project Static Movement, before becoming a permanent fixture of the band.
- A pre-fame Jean Michel Jarre covered Gershon Kingsley/Hot Butter's "Popcorn" under the alias Popcorn Orchestra in 1972. (The 80's cover version often misattributed to him or Kraftwerk is by the M & H Band)
- The playfield for Williams Electronics' Space Shuttle shows two astronauts installing an orbital telescope, six years before the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed.
- Long before officially joining WWF as Mankind, Mick Foley appeared in a few jobber matches as Jack Foley (his father's name) as WWF wouldn't let him use Cactus Jack.
- Mick's first appearance on WWF TV was as a member of the audience watching the Don Muraco vs. Jimmy Snuka cage match from Madison Square Garden in 1983.
- Several luchas appeared on WWF TV in 1997 as part of a cross promotion with AAA. One of whom which was Mascarita Sagrada, who later appeared as part of WWE's short lived midget wrestling division in 2005.
- CM Punk appears as one of the gangsters in John Cena's entrance at WrestleMania 22.
- Before he got his "Irish" gimmick in 2006, Dave Finlay was the Divas' trainer and made occasional appearances at WWE events as a nameless official. Watch the part of the 2005 Royal Rumble in which Shawn Michaels eliminates Kurt Angle in less than a minute. Angle retaliates by reentering the ring, eliminating Michaels in turn, and then violently whaling on him. Several referees and other enforcer characters run out to subdue Angle, and one of them is Finlay. Of course back in WCW, he was always known as fighting-Irishman Fit Finlay and was given the backstage role when WCW was acquired by WWF/WWE.
- In an interview with Beth Phoenix for IGN, a few FCW divas can be seen wrestling in the background. One of them was Alicia Fox.
- Victoria appeared as a Godfather's Ho before actively wrestling on the roster.
- Both of the Hardy Boyz wrestled regularly on WWE TV during the 90s as random jobbers before getting properly called up in 1999.
- Stephanie McMahon made her first appearance on WWF TV when she was only a child. She was one of the kids in the "Roddy Piper's Trick Or Treat" sketch on Saturday Night's Main Event in 1985. She also made appearances in the late 80s and early 90s modelling t-shirts and baseball caps in the WWF merchandise catalogues.
- Ted DiBiase wrestled in the WWF for two years in the 1970's, before returning as "The Million Dollar Man".
- Some of his promos featured future stars as well. In one, he offered Linda McMahon $100 get down on all fours and bark like a dog, then decided she didn't deserve the money.
- He also paid a teenager to kiss his foot after a match. That teenager grew up to become WWF star Rob Van Dam.
- Damien Sandow was a paper bag distributer for future tag partner Cody Rhodes
- Jacqueline wrestled a couple of matches on Heat against indie wrestler Starla Saxton in 1998. Two years later, Saxton would join the WWE roster officially as Molly Holly. She also wrestled Malia Hosaka in WCW as Starla Saxton, before joining the company as Miss Madness.
- In 1985-86, a 25-year-old Dean Malenko worked for the WWF as a referee. This was 15 years before he would officially debut as part of the Radicalz, possibly the longest time between cameo and appearance on this list.
- He also showed up in WCW before he officially debuted, as he and his brother Joe took part in the NWA tag team Tournament against Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff at Clash of the Champions XIX in 1992.
- In a similar example to the Dean Malenko one above, Teddy Long was a referee for years in WWE before becoming a proper onscreen personality, going from manager to Smackdown General Manager. He did the same thing in WCW. He started off as a referee, then became a manager.
- Melina Perez in her pre-MNM days made two appearances on Raw in late 2004, first in a lingerie strip tease segment and then a limbo segment, about four months before she properly debuted on television. She was also one of the few who didn't make the cut in season 3 of Tough Enough.
- Diamond Dallas Page was driving Rhythm and Blues' pink Cadillac at Wrestlemania VI in 1990, 11 years before he signed with the company.
- Before debuting his Foreign Wrestling Heel gimmick in 2003, French-Canadian wrestler Sylvan Grenier was supposedly a WWE referee tasked with mediating the rematch between Hulk Hogan and The Rock at that year's No Way Out (which, appropriately enough, was being held in Grenier's hometown of Montreal, Quebec, Canada). This is an unusual example in that Grenier was here referred to by name by the commentary team, and his behavior in the course of the match was actually his Start of Darkness and even carried over to WrestleMania XIX the following month!
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, Wattaildragon first appeared as a picture on a scroll in the artwork of Ancient Rules way back in Strike of Neos, over five years before its own release in Galactic Overlord. Its flavor text even makes a reference to "ancient rules" which forbid its capture.
- Magic: The Gathering has a few:
- Future Sight is built around these. Most of them preview elements from Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block, from individual cards to the tribal and planeswalker card types.
- Spike Drone appeared one set before any other Spikes.
- Shield of Kaldra mentions Helm of Kaldra, a card released one set later.
- Ravnica block has guilds appearing in flavor text before they actually showed up with cards of their own.
- Many planeswalkers will appear in a set before they're plot relevant. Ashiok appeared in Theros even though they didn't begin being part of the plot until Born of the Gods. One of the three planeswalkers who sealed the Eldrazi prior to the Zendikar block alongside Sorin and Ugin known as the Lithomancer hasn't appeared in the present timeline/plot yet except as the creature card Stoneforge Mystic.
- In the third edition rulebook of Warhammer 40,000, pictures of generic Kroot and Necron warriors appear several years before their armies were officially introduced.
- Three examples from Disney Theme Parks. Sleeping Beauty's Castle was opened in Disneyland several years before the movie. It's Tough To Be A Bug, starring Flik and featuring Hopper, was introduced at the Animal Kingdom several months before A Bug's Life opened. Finally, Countdown to Extinction featured Aladar and a Carnotaurus about two years before Dinosaur premiered, at which point the attraction was renamed after the movie.
- Asagi might be the ultimate example of this. Of course, we don't know if she's ever actually going to GET her own game or if Nippon Ichi is just screwing around.
- While we're on the topic of Nippon Ichi, it's probably no coincidence that Makai Kingdom will be getting a PSP remake after Overlord Zetta's cameo in Disgaea 4, which is the first time since Makai Kingdom that he has actually appeared in humanoid form. The new character from the remake, Petta, will appear in Disgaea 4 as Downloadable Content.
- Roy's our boy! Before his own game comes out, even!
- On the topic of Super Smash Bros., the Wii U version of the fourth game features a stage based on the unreleased-at-the-time Yoshi's Woolly World.
- The Gekko from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and a remix of the game's "Theme of Love" both appeared in Super Smash Bros.. Brawl, which in some regions was out months before the former game was even released. For that matter, the entire Shadow Moses Island stage is a reference to an entire chapter in the game. Interestingly enough, MGS 4 is a PS3-exclusive game, meaning a first-party Nintendo game is promoting a game not available on a Nintendo system.
- Old Snake also made a cameo before his official debut, as the most statistically-powerful bonus character in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops +.
- Metal Gear Acid 2 beat both games by featuring Metal Gear Solid 4 trading cards two years before the game was even released (granted, they were based on the very first trailer that was released).
- Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, which was released a year before Metal Gear Solid 2, featured an extra game mode where the player controls a newly recruited soldier who undergoes VR training by having to complete harder versions of Solid Snake's missions in the main game. The name of this agent is revealed at the end to be "Jack", the same name of the protagonist in MGS2.
- Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions featured a hidden concept art of Metal Gear Ray from Metal Gear Solid 2.
- Cyborg Ninja Raiden played a cameo role in Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance. However, it's not the same Cyborg Ninja suit Raiden wears in Guns of the Patriots, but more of a cosplay of him in Gray Fox's exoskeleton suit from the first MGS.
- Galen Marek, aka Starkiller, Darth Vader's secret apprentice and protagonist of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, made a playable appearance in Soul Calibur IV three months prior to the release of his game. He goes simply as "The Apprentice" in SCIV.
- The Big Bad of Ace Attorney Investigations 2 appeared very briefly in the intro to "Farewell, My Turnabout" as Global Hero Onyankopon.
- Merrill and Isabela are both retroactively being turned into this by their appearance as party members in Dragon Age II.
- In Space Invaders Extreme (available on both PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS), Mr. ESC from Exit makes a cameo appearance when you select the Exit option. While Exit was already released on the PSP at the time, and the DS version of the game was already available in Japan at the time, the DS Space Invaders Extreme appearance is a legitimate Early-Bird Cameo in North America.
- The Kyo clone Kusanagi initially showed up in The King of Fighters 2002 as an alternate moveset for Kyo, but did not receive a role in the story proper until the next game, 2003.
- Nearly half a year before he became the protagonist of his own game Luso Clemens showed up as a minor playable character in the remake of the original Final Fantasy Tactics, War of the Lions, even though the games are on competing systems. In what is either this or an Ascended Extra, Hurdy, a main character from A2, first appeared as an operator of the teleporting services in Final Fantasy XII.
- The rock power-up from Super Mario Galaxy 2 actually first appeared as one of Bowser's attacks during the final boss battle in Super Mario Galaxy.
- Dengeki Gakuen RPG: Cross of Venus has an actor variant of this trope: being a Massive Multiplayer Crossover video game based on several Light Novels, it manages to get the voice actors of the featured series' anime adaptations to reprise their roles. This includes the voice cast of Asura Cryin'', which adaptation premiered a few days after the game's release.
- On the Street Fighter side of things, X-Men vs. Street Fighter snuck in Shadaloo-era Cammy as a playable character before the Alpha series got to introduce her proper in Alpha 2 Gold.
- Along those same lines, Karin's Rich Bitch Rival Karin Kanzuki was originally going to make her debut in Marvel Superheroes Vs Street Fighter in order to set up her "official" appearance in Street Fighter Alpha 3. For whatever reason, this plan fell through, but her prototype sprite can be viewed in the game's ROM data.
- Dan Hibiki also appears as a random design that was expected to go unused in some old artwork poking fun at SNK's Art of Fighting series. He later became an official, secret character in Street Fighter Alpha.
- Balrog and Vega made cameos in Sagat's endings in the first two Alpha games, while E. Honda appeared in Sodom's ending in Alpha 2. All three of them would appear as playable characters in Alpha 3. Fei-Long also made a cameo as a spectator at Dan's stage in Alpha 2, but he wasn't included in Alpha 3 until the console version.
- Rolento and Cody made cameos in the first and second Alpha games respectively before they became playable in Alpha 2 and Alpha 3 respectively.
- Chronologically, Street Fighter IV is set before Street Fighter III Yun and Yang appear in Chun Li's opening story sequence in the console version. They later appeared as playable characters in the arcade version of Super Street Fighter IV.
- In Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, a squirrel◊ from Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures appears on one of Strong Bad's unlockable shirts.
- Chicken Little hadn't come out yet in Japan when Kingdom Hearts II was released, but was a summon in the game.
- The appearance of Alfred the Pilot in Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 was meant to be a tie-in for his own game, a PlayStation-exclusive port Real Bout Fatal Fury Special subtitled Dominated Minds, but since that game was only released in Japan, many people think he was simply a character made up for Real Bout 2. In Hon-Fu's and Yamazaki's endings, the antagonist from Dominated Minds, White, can be seen.
- Rock Howard, the protagonist of Garou: Mark of the Wolves, appears in Terry's ending in Fatal Fury 3.
- The Oukaou and Nanajin from Wings Of Rean both appear in Another Century's Episode 2, which came out a few months before Wings Of Rean premiered.
- There are references to Lezard Valeth and Lenneth Valkyrie in Star Ocean: The Second Story. Valkyrie Profile would not be completed for another two years after Star Ocean 2 was released.
- Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness is a third-generation game. It features a non-playable Munchlax and a sorta-playable Bonsly, both fourth-generation Pokémon.
- Munchlax appears in the town square as a random event in the original Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team, and can be (kind of) made playable via cheat codes. The player can also get statues of Lucario, Weavile, Bonsly and Mime Jr. placed outside their house.
- A year before Gale of Darkness was released, Munchlax appeared in the game Pokémon Dash as an AI-controlled opponent.
- Rock Band 2 had the album release of Shackler's Revenge a few weeks before the album it was on (Chinese Democracy) was released.
- Guitar Hero had two of Foreigner's re-recordings of "Jukebox Hero" and "Feels Like the First Time" release before the release of the album "Feels Like the First Time".
- Sonic the Hedgehog appeared as an air freshener in the racing game Rad Mobile two months before the first Sonic game.
- Banjo, Tiptup, and Conker in Diddy Kong Racing. Timber was also supposed to have his own game with Bumper and Pipsy as his sidekicks, but it was canceled.
- Also, from the same game, there's Krunch, a neutral member of the Kremling Krew from Donkey Kong Country. Although he never appeared in another game, nor did he ever seem destined to, his design and attire were based on the Kremlings in the then-unreleased Donkey Kong 64 as opposed to the original SNES trilogy.
- Although she did not appear in person in that game, Kazooie was actually first mentioned in the game instructions manual for DKR.
- In the Crash Bandicoot series, Nina Cortex's official debut was in Crash Twinsanity. However, the Fusion crossovers with the Spyro the Dragon series were released before it and introduced her as a radically different character.
- Also, Fake Crash, a joke expy of the main character, first appears after 100% completion in various locations of Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped before his first playable appearance in Crash Team Racing. It goes back further than that: Fake Crash's appearance in Crash 3 stemmed from a Japanese Crash Bandicoot commercial.
- The Naboo Starfighter appeared as a secret ship in Star Wars: Rogue Squadron six months before the release of The Phantom Menace.
- Amazingly, this code managed to remain hidden until after the movie came out. Whether or not this subverts the trope is debatable.
- The first mission of Rebel Strike is basically the Rogue Leader bonus mission "Revenge on Yavin" from the Rebels' point of view.
- Geese Howard of Fatal Fury fame makes a cameo in the extended ending of the SNES version of Art of Fighting, which was released months before Geese's actual appearance as the True Final Boss in the arcade version of Art of Fighting 2.
- Persona 3 Portable features a man drinking at the nightclub in Paulownia Mall. He appears to be Vincent from Catherine. He tells you a bit of a story about how much of a Jerk Ass he is, then points out that it has "nothing to do with your problems" at the end.
- Trixie from the Back to the Future game appears in Poker Night at the Inventory, facing away from the camera.
- Eoleo, one of the playable characters in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, briefly appears as a toddler in Golden Sun: The Lost Age.
- Digimon World 3 featured Agunimon, KendoGarurumon, and AncientGreymon in cameo appearances as DNA Digivolutions; all three Digimon would go on to play large roles in Digimon Frontier. However, it's slightly complicated; Frontier wasn't released in some regions, while in Japan, World 3 was released three months into Frontier's run.
- Kite (Sora), an unlockable extra character in .hack//Link, is the main character in .hack//TheMovie.
- The PC version of the The Fairly OddParents game Breakin' Da Rules! features a level where Timmy has to avoid a younger-aged version of Vicky and Tootie's mom, named Nicky here. The character eventually appeared on the show in her adult form, alongside her unnamed husband, in the "Channel Chasers" movie.
- The PC port of Halo 2 includes a silenced version of its SMG in a test map. This silenced SMG later went on to be the primary weapon of the player character in Halo 3: ODST.
- Lumi, the virtual Distressed Damsel of Child of Eden, previously appeared in Lumines II in late 2006, which also featured "Heavenly Star", the debut song of Genki Rockets, the semi-fictional band that Lumi is the "singer" of.
- Modern Warfare's prologue "Crew Expendable" and endgame "All In" featured two Red Shirt SAS members, Wallcroft and Griffen, who were promoted to squad leaders in the MW3 mission "Mind the Gap".
- Jin Kazama's Devil form, which became a playable boss character in Tekken 5, first appeared in his ending cinematic from the PSX port of Tekken 3.
- Playstation All Stars Battle Royale: The game was released November 2012, and has elements from Dm C Devil May Cry (released January 2013), Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Sly Cooper: Thieves In Time (Both February 2013), and BioShock Infinite (March 2013). It also had Big Daddy, possibly Production Foreshadowing to the Burial At Sea DLC (March 2014), considering almost everything else was in reference to Infinite.
- Three years before Max Payne came out, the Aesir Corporation's headquarters appeared during the cityscape flythrough in Remedy Entertainment's Final Reality benchmark/tech demo.
- Kingdom Hearts has a habit of making faceless Bonus Bosses that hint to later games:
- Two years before the Broken Lords debuted in Endless Legend, a Broken Lord Hero in was added to Endless Space, albeit as an "Unknown race".
- In Trinton Chronicles the villains known as Trinity make a minor appearance at the end of Fantasia before becoming the villains of the next story. By that same token, a character from another furry-based game called Arcadia makes her pre-Trinton appearance here before plopping into Trinton Chronicles two years later.
- In the very first story in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Stone has a short encounter with a tall, athletic-looking older woman in a bar, where the cynical hero is spending time downing whiskey shots. At one point, the woman tells Stone, "I bet you're a disappointment to your mother." Three years and nearly sixty stories later, and Stone encounters the woman again: it was his mother, who abandoned him at an orphanage shortly after his birth.
- In his review of Caligula to celebrate 100 episodes, The Cinema Snob had appearances from all of Brad Jones's other characters, including 80s Dan... at least, until Brad pointed out he didn't have an 80s Dan character, at which point Dan faded away into nothingness. A few weeks later, Eighties Dan became an official spin-off.
- 'The lame girl with the spirit of the squirrel ' was a throwaway line in some early Whateley Universe stories. Then she was a weak character in some of the Phase stories, where she was in Phase's aikido class and gained the name Aquerna. Now she's had a vignette, a novel, a Crowning Moment of Awesome, a Crowning Moment of Funny, and a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
- In The Nostalgia Critic's crossover with Todd in the Shadows, one can briefly see the rebuilt version of Pollo.
- Tamara Chambers was one of the "Catwomen" in the Catwoman review. She is now a regular in every NC review.
- Pixar started doing this in Monsters, Inc., where we see Boo holding Jessie, the ball from Luxo Jr. and... Nemo, who only debuted 2 years later. Every Pixar feature since has featured a Sneak Peek.
- Nemo also appears in Monsters, Inc. as a fresco in the sushi restaurant.
- In Finding Nemo, a kid can be seen reading a comic book of The Incredibles.
- Dug the dog from Up makes an early appearance as a live shadow on a wall in Ratatouille.
- In a DVD bonus short for Ratatouille, WALL•E makes a brief cameo as a Mars rover operator. Parodied on WALL-E's website, which shows him hiding in every single past Pixar movie.
- There's a similar gag documentary on the Lilo & Stitch DVD - apparently Stitch has been attempting to get a Disney movie since 1937. The documentary shows screenshots from films with Stitch drawn in them.
- Up: When Carl's balloon-house goes past a little girl's bedroom, a teddy bear is in the far left corner of the screen. This is Lotso(-Huggin' Bear), who is an important character in Toy Story 3.
- In Toy Story 3, one of the posters in Andy's room shows a car that is an upcoming character in Cars 2. Additionally, he has a "Newt Crossing" sticker next to his computer; Newt was a Pixar film that was cancelled in development.
- Cars 2 has car-versions of Princess Merida and her family on a glass window in the British pub.
- Okuni, Shigeko, Tamiko, and Shu Todoroki in Tokyo Mater.
- Brave: There is a bas-relief of Sully in the Witch's hut, for Monsters University. View it here.◊
- A statue of a cherub appears in Aladdin 's "A Whole New World" that later shows up in Hercules 's "I Won't Say I'm In Love".
- At the very beginning of Pinocchio, you can actually see two books in the background entitled Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, respectively.
- House of Mouse for some reason portrayed Ronno as a fawn instead of an adult deer since Bambi is always portrayed here as a fawn as well. Young Ronno won't make his official appearance in any animated Disney work at all until the release of the Direct-to-Video film Bambi II.
- Ralph the Guard, a regular on Animaniacs, made his debut as an unnamed, surprisingly competent security guard in several episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures. Likewise, World's Oldest Woman and Lucky Bob, two characters on Histeria, made cameo appearances in Animaniacs segments years before their own show premiered. Histeria's version of Joan of Arc (which was actually just a caricature of Shirley MacClaine) also first appeared on Tiny Toons.
- Darkwing Duck and Gosalyn could be seen in the opening sequence for the first season of The Disney Afternoon, about a year before their own show started airing.
- In its second season, Marsupilami frequently appeared in The Disney Afternoon's commercial bumpers a year before Disney released his cartoons as part of the Raw Toonage series.
- Jack Frost has a small appearance in Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July. That special premiered in November 1979, one month before his own special premiered in December.
- Five years before the first episode of South Park aired, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone made a short film called The Spirit of Christmas, which was made using construction paper and had prototypical and mostly unnamed versions of the show's main characters. Three years later they made another Spirit of Christmas, this time with the show's main characters properly named, characterised and recognizable, and also added Wendy Testaburger as an unnamed, non-speaking cameo.
- The Beavis And Butthead episode '1-900-Beavis' has an early version of Dale Gribble appear as the husband/boyfriend of a phone sex worker. Wearing nothing but a pair of briefs.
- The elephants from Disney's The Jungle Book actually all made their first appearances in the 1960 animated short Goliath II. The designs for the short's titular character and his father Goliath I were even recycled for those of Hathi Jr. and his father Colonel Hathi, as well as the scene where the elephants actually all pile up on top of one another.
- The circus locomotive from Dumbo actually first appeared in the Disney animated short The Reluctant Dragon, where he is portrayed as pulling a passenger train (as opposed to a circus train) only to end up in a railway accident while attempting to jump a broken bridge during a thunderstorm. His Reluctant Dragon incarnation looked slightly different than the one in Dumbo: his drive rods are connected to the forward drive wheels, he was longer in appearance, and there was a bell on his roof. However in Dumbo, his drive rods are now connected to his hind drive wheels, he is now shorter and stockier in appearance, and his bell is nowhere to be seen, implying that he was actually overhauled during his repair between the two films.
- Bambi also made his debut there, even though his official debut didn't even happen until the year after.
- Laserbeak from Transformers Animated actually first appeared in the form of a toy that is packaged in the same blister pack as Animated Soundwave. Laserbeak himself won't appear in the cartoon until season 3.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- "Kid" from The Animatrix is a cross-medium example. He plays a significant role in the last two movies of The Matrix Trilogy but makes his first appearance in one of the shorts from the animated direct-to-DVD film.
- Margo, the oldest of the three orphan girls from Despicable Me, wears a Lorax T-shirt; a movie version from the same producers premiered two years later.
- The MTV show The Brothers Grunt stemmed from a station ident where one of the characters craps out the MTV logo.
- Before getting his own segment on the Yogi Bear show, Snagglepuss was an antagonist in selected episodes of Quick Draw McGraw.
- Four more Hanna-Barbera instances: Before being a heroic sheriff on the Magilla Gorilla show, Ricochet Rabbit was an antagonist on an episode of Touché Turtle two years earlier. Later in the 70s, Posse Impossible appeared in the series finale of Hong Kong Phooey before getting their own segment three years later on CB Bears. In 1959, lugubrious hyena Hardy Har Har appeared in a Snooper and Blabber cartoon before being paired up with Lippy the Lion three years later. And Yakky Doodle appeared in one of the earliest Yogi Bear cartoons.
- Terrytoons had three characters in their Deputy Dawg show that spun off into their own series. A little blue space alien became Astronut, a Russian mouse named Mischa became Macon Mouse, and the Long Island Duckling became Duckwood. Astronut was paired with a human named Oscar Mild, Duckwood was paired with a con-artist mule named Donkey Otie, and Macon Mouse was among the gang in Possible Possum.
- An early bird cameo for a movie line: George Harrison's line in Yellow Submarine "It's all in the mind" was first said by John Lennon on The Beatles' cartoon show episode "Strawberry Fields Forever." (John delivered it as "It's all in the mind, y'know" which was said by George fully in a restored scene in Submarine.)
- In the Futurama episode "I Second That Emotion" Leela's parents can be seen in the background among the mutants in a few scenes, they would be properly introduced two seasons later.
- The Venture Bros. uses this form of the trope regularly. Many easily-missed background characters gain major plot relevance down the line. Sometimes it's only a few episodes later (such as the Investors appearing in the background of an episode before their official introduction,) while other times it's many seasons later (such as August St. Cloud, who was a frequent background character dating all the way back to season 1, but wasn't officially introduced until season 5.)
- A few songs in The Magic Adventures Of Mumfie came out on CD and casette before they appeared in the show, with "Home" and "Real Eel Electricity" being released the earliest. All songs from the show's CD after "Ocean of Sleep" are also this trope, as when the CD was released, the episode featuring the Pirate Song would air a week later.