"I think I'll try extra hard to remember today's events and conversations, in case I someday want to recall them verbatim."A narrative technique in which we're shown events that took place before the episode's main action. Said events may have taken place on-screen earlier, but may also be new scenes depicting things hitherto only referenced. Specific types of flashbacks include:
— Gordon Frohman, Concerned
- Another Man's Terror: A character relives the end of another character's life.
- Death by Flashback: A character who gets a flashback has a high probability to die.
- Flashback Cut: A very brief flashback.
- Flash Back Echo: In which the past events in the flashback parallel what's occurring in the present.
- Flashback Within a Flashback: A flashback within a flashback occurs when a character recounts an event in which he/she also flashbacks into ANOTHER event within the first flashback.
- Happy Flashback: A flashback to a happy time, may segue into a Troubled Backstory Flashback.
- How We Got Here: The episode opens In Medias Res, then the events leading up to the episode's beginning are explained via flashback.
- Mid-Battle Flashback: The character is losing in a fight and flashes back to their training to retrieve the knowledge to win.
- Pensieve Flashback: The present-day version of the character shows up inside their own memories of the past, in order to provide snarky commentary or to inexplicably interact with the past.
- "Rashomon"-Style: Multiple flashbacks depicting one event from several different perspectives.
- Self-Serving Memory: A character flashes back to an event, only for the flashback to be quite different from what actually happened, usually to make that character look better.
- Troubled Backstory Flashback: A character with a Dark and Troubled Past flashes back to a happy memory that transforms into a bloodbath.
- Whole Episode Flashback: A flashback that takes up the whole episode. (in literary works, this would be an example of a "frame story").
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- Flashbacks were abused in early issues of the Marvel Transformers Generation 1 comic, with a page or more of some issues used to recreate scenes from previous issues an an apparent attempt to fill space.
- The Tale of One Bad Rat: Flashbacks are used several times in the story, especially the first half, to show significant events in Helen's life before she ran away. One example is how she adopted her pet rat.
- In Last Days of the Justice Society, Dr. Fate shares with the modern Justice Society a flashback sequence of events that happened on the day of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's funeral in 1945, to show how history has been changed when Adolf Hitler has used the Spear Of Destiny to destroy the universe, tapping into the mystical energies of the Spectre to make it happen.
- In Violine, Violine's father tells his backstory in flashback.
- Clean Room has the primary narrative interwoven with flashbacks to Astrid's past that introduce or explain elements in the present.
- Birthright uses flashbacks to Mikey's time in Terrenos, often framed as him explaining something to his family.
- ElfQuest uses a flashback right at the beginning to show the reader some of the elves' Origin Story, which goes a long way toward explaining the current events which we return to following the flashback.
- The Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Fan Fic The Joy Of Battle uses flashbacks in the same way that Lost does to tell how the characters ended up at the point of the story's beginning and also to reveal Back Story through characterizing scenes.
- Several in The Tainted Grimoire:
- Vaticus when explaining his Backstory.
- Sir Loin has flashbacked to his and Adelle's history together, and his history from before that.
- Bowen had a flashback showing his memories of his wife.
- True to the series, the Calvin At Camp LOST parody features some... troubling... flashbacks for the kids.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series uses this to explain Dr. Brainstorm's Sibling Rivalry with Thunderstorm.
- In the Total Drama story, Legacy, chapter 2 and most of chapter 3 cover events from years before the main setting, but are told as if they were set in the same time frame.
- Chapter 18 of Super Paper Mario X starts with Sonic, as always, scared of going in the water (since he can't swim and will drown in the water, after all). When he is informed that this was not the first time the group had to go through water, Sonic says to "name the times", followed by a flashback to the first Paper Mario X (lampshaded by Mario). When Sonic says there was no way it happened twice, a flashback to Paper Mario X 2 follows.
- Turnabout Storm, true to the Ace Attorney style it uses, has several of these, usually in monochrome. For example, both Part 3 - Twilight and Part 3 - Phoenix include a flashback to a same scene of Part 2 (specifically the point where Twilight touches Phoenix's Magatama, causing it to react weirdly), both for different reasons.
- In the Naruto AU story The Quiet Fox, virtually every other chapter is a flashback, each one narrated by a different character. The one narrated by Sasuke is quite notable.
- In The Dark Tower, Book One: The Gunslinger, the first quarter of the novel is devoted to flashbacks to events just prior to the beginning of the novel, and flashbacks to Roland's childhood within those. In Book Four: Wizard and Glass, the bulk of the story is a flashback to a formative event in Roland's early adulthood.
- Like the index down there says, this is Older Than Feudalism: Odysseus has a long flashback in The Odyssey.
- Harry Potter has the Pensieve and Tom Riddle's diary, allowing for magical plot important flashbacks.
- K.J Parker's The Scavenger Trilogy. In places there's more flashback than straight narrative.
- In the final book of the Sten series, the Emperor flashes back to his childhood and his steps on his rise to power.
- In Michael Flynn's Spiral Arm novel On the Razor's Edge, Donovan has many flashbacks of recovering memories.
- War Crimes has in-universe flashbacks. For Garrosh Hellscream's trial, the court uses the Vision of Time to view past events, in order to avoid errors in the witness testimony.
- Tough Magic has a few flashbacks, most notably two at the very beginning of the second book.
- In Vampire Academy, Rose occasionally interrupts the present narrative to Flashback to past events. Rose herself, Lissa, Dimitri, and Sonya Karp all receive additional characterization through these Flashbacks.
- In the Erebus Sequence, the first book alternates between telling the main story and providing chronologically-ordered scenes from the protagonist's life before that, meaning that what's happening "now" and the background of How We Got Here are interwoven. The second book uses fewer flashbacks, but there's still a reasonable number.
- In Transitions Catti-brie's magical illness causes her to float in the air while being trapped in flashbacks of her life. Drizzt can even discern the scenes from what she's saying wich really doesn't make his emotional stability during the crisis any easier.
- Dreamblood Duology: In The Killing Moon, Nijiri's and Ehiru's first meeting, in which Nijiri has requested a gathering of his mother to end her suffering from The Plague and Ehiru is sent to enact it, is described in a flashback.
- The Machineries of Empire:
- Multiple flashbacks to Jedao's past happen near the end of Ninefox Gambit as Cheris starts swallowing wraithglass to view Jedao's memories and figure out what his plan is about.
- In Extracurricular Activities, Jedao's and Meng's first meeting is shown in a flashback.
- Our Miss Brooks: A large portion of "Borrowing Money to Fly", features Miss Brooks flashing back to her initial arrival in Madison.
- The first act of 9 ends with a series of flashbacks to Guido's youth.
- Miss Saigon goes back to "The Fall of Saigon" midway through the second act
- During the song "Poor Thing" from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the story of Lucy Barker's rape is shown onstage as Mrs. Lovett sings about it.
- Arcadia alternates scenes between flashbacks and the modern day.
- In Proof, there are several scenes that flashback to when Robert was alive.
- The original version of Merrily We Roll Along had the story told in flashback, framed by Frank speaking at a graduation ceremony.
- Angels in America: In something not unlike a Pensieve Flashback, Prior recounts his encounter with The Angel to Belize in the middle of a later scene, and both his telling and the encounter are played simultaneously onstage.
- The Phantom of the Opera is told in one giant flashback, as the show's opening scene is of the aged Raoul attending an auction selling off items from the opera house.
- In the musical Violet, flashbacks occur regularly. Some characters (e.g., Young Violet, Father) appear only in flashbacks.
- In a game that revolves around memories, Another Code covers a variety of these.
- Flashback: The Quest for Identity. In-game flashbacks.
- In Minori's route in Brass Restoration, flashbacks are used much more frequently than needed, often to recap something that happened half a scene ago. Thankfully not as prevalent in other routes.
- In Valkyrie Profile, flashbacks are often used to show the events leading up to the Einherjar's deaths.
- Halo 3: ODST makes extensive use of this, though technically, it's actually Rookie going through camera recordings, not flashbacks per se, but it still counts.
- All of the interludes in The Reconstruction. Subverted in that all but one of them are flashbacks to the prologue's cast.
- In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, when Price finds out Zakhaev is behind the game's plot, he decides to roll a flashback to explain the guy's background. Players know this as the "All ghillied up" mission.
- Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! has flashbacks interspersed between routes as necessary; no single path gives a complete background on the family, with each person's pertinent set of flashbacks happening in their own storyline.
- A large portion of fault milestone one is comprised of Rudo and Albas' memories.
- Concerned has an mini-arc when Frohman flashes back to his days at Black Mesa, providing arguably the best Lampshade Hanging of this trope ever as the quote for this page.
- He later proves less than adept in relaying these, though.
Laszlo: Uh... Frohman? If you're having a flashback you've got to narrate it for us. We can't just see it in your head. I... I don't think he can hear me.
- He later proves less than adept in relaying these, though.
- Lampshaded in this Loserz strip.
- Van Von Hunter plays with this. "You have exceeded the maximum number of flashbacks allowed by the courtroom."
- Lampshaded with sarcasm in here in Guilded Age.
- Lance complains about having to go through a flashback scene in Gold Coin Comics.
- In Slightly Damned, when Kieri reads through Darius' diary.
- Crop up at random intervals as "Reg's Lost Years" in Regular Guy
- Lampshaded in this El Goonish Shive strip.
- Lampshaded in this Books Don't Work Here strip which starts a Flash Back which took place before the Flashback they are already in started.
- Evil Diva: The trial sequence was littered with them, such as here.
- Strays One panel Meela-induced flashback
- Shows up occasionally in The KA Mics
- In Impure Blood, Roan's recounting the past of his people has a flashback backdrop, of many scenes from the past.
- In Nip and Tuck, how Zelda got her job.
- In Endstone numerous: to when Jon tried to destroy the world, how he and Kyri met, facing down Drakyl — etc.
- Shortpacked! had a character trying to stop flashbacks to avoid drama. She interrupted a flashback mid-sequence, but character continued the same flashback.
- In Webcomic/Unforgettable, the female lead is in the habit of replaying events that she witnessed earlier in the episode, often finding a clue from something she saw that didn't seem important at the time.
- This Wapsi Square strip uses a single panel flashback to show what happened last time Fermented Banana played at a wedding.
- The entire third story arc of The Senkari is basically an extended flashback where Natalie learns some of the titular characters history..
- Split Screen jumps back and forth between Jan and Jeremy's childhood friendship and their strained relationship as adults.
- Errant Story gets a lot of use out of these, with every main character having at least one, and not a single Happy Flashback to show for the whole bunch of them.
- Sarine gets the first one in the story, as she remembers how her husband got killed
- Bani and Meji meet as outsiders at school
- Jon gets thrown out of the house by his mother, as his sister Sara watches
- Sara's not-so-fun introduction to the Ensigerum is the subject of a series of mini-flashbacks
- The Big Bad (Ian) gets an entire chapter of them, to explain why he set off on a quest that turned him from adoring kid brother to world-shattering menace
- Some short poignant ones all over Tower of God. So far there have been flash backs for Baam, Koon, Anak, Androssi, Rachel, Ja Wangnan, Viole, Nia and Hon Arkraptor.
- Animated updates of morphE typically flashback to how one of the seedlings ended up in a crate at the start of the story. The first flashback shows each seedling in torment, the second focuses on one specific seedling and the third shows how they ended up in captivity in the first place.
- Mario & Luigi: Cleanup Crew: Luigi and Mario briefly appear in the beginning of the first chapter, but the bulk of "A Mess in the Making" is Toad's recollection of the events leading to the current crisis.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, various characters have flashbacks which often explain their past and their relationship with other characters.
- Unusually for the series, lonelygirl15 episode "Comfort Food" included flashbacks to Daniel's grandmother's funeral. Flashbacks were again used in the series 3 episode "I Miss Her".
- LG15: the resistance makes frequent use of these to show Maggie's past.
- Frequently used in The Gungan Council in order to explain why a character has or does something. "It's Not That I Keep Hanging On, I'm Never Letting Go" uses it in spades.
- Parodied in episode X of Transolar Galactica, when Captain Trigger gets a flashback without the series actually cutting to it.
Reggie: Oh great, he's having one of his little flashback things....Samson (after half a minute of Trigger staring vacantly into space): ... how long does it take?
- If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device has quite a few of those:
- In episode three, Kitten flashes back to the Age of Apostasy to break the monotony of his monologue.
- In episode five, the Emperor reminiscences of Malcador and how he set up what would later become Inquisition.
- In episode thirteen, Magnus has two flashbacks, both showing his corruption by Tzeentch.
- Episode sixteen is largely a huge flashback to the War in Heaven.
- The short "Why Kitten Hates The Tau" plays with this — it might be a flashback explaining the eponymous matter, or it might be the Emperor trolling Kitten.
- Funny Business has a flashback right in the middle of the story that manages to double its overall length, and making what would otherwise be an ordinary Plot Twist into a Shocking Swerve.
- The Most Stupid Deaths In Super Mario 64: In 'Even More Stupid Deaths', Mario has a flashback to the first time he went on the "slider".
- Invader Zim also lampshades a common problem with this trope: In "The Fry Cook What Came From All That Space", Zim recalls a flashback of being demoted to fry cook under fry lord Sizz-Lorr, and then escaping. After Zim escapes, it shows Sizz-Lorr alone, shouting at the top of his lungs:
Sizz-Lorr: I will find you Zim, so help me, I will search the entire universe, and I! WILL! FIND YOOOOOOOOU!(Cut back to present time with Zim and Sizz-Lorr)Sizz-Lorr: How did you remember what I said if you weren't there?Zim: * shrugs*
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, there have been a few flashbacks about Lucius' life under his father, including the one that made him a Self-Made Orphan.
- Used a lot in Phineas and Ferb by the character Dr. Doofenshmirtz, since almost all of his inventions have a backstory and he uses flashbacks to let Perry and the audience know the purpose for it. However, there have been some occasions where he'll skip over a flashback since Perry already knows the story, and on one occasion he had a horrible headache and said it hurt too much to do a flashback.
Phineas: What's he doing?Ferb: That's a ripple dissolve. He must be having a flashback.Phineas:...does he know we can't see it? Should we give him some privacy? I don't know the protocol for flash-backs.
- In "The Belly of the Beast", Perry was going into a flashback of how he escaped, which Doofensmirtz took advantage of by attacking him.
- Parodied in "Doof Dynasty", an Elseworlds episode set in ancient China, where this discussion occurs about "Master Perry".
- Used frequently in Avatar: The Last Airbender, usually in the form of someone in the present narrating something that happened in the past (like the flashbacks in "The Storm," "The Avatar and the Firelord," and "The Southern Raiders"). "Zuko Alone" and "Appa's Lost Days" have characters who don't or can't talk about their pasts quietly remembering them in the form of flashbacks.
- The Care Bears Movie is told as this.
- Danger Mouse: "The Return Of Count Duckula" uses footage of DM's first encounter with Duckula from "The Four Tasks Of Danger Mouse" as a flashback as he recounts the meeting to Colonel K.
- The questionable reliability of flashbacks is Played With in the Futurama episode "Mobius Dick", when Farnsworth recalls the earliest days of Planet Express.
Amy: Zoidberg had hair?Farnsworth: I never said he had hair! If you chose to imagine him that way, that's your business!