[[quoteright:320:[[Manga/HayateCrossBlade http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/8982317a5f9c39ebb3ab0b25611b9c8f.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:320:You don't ''have'' to ask for permission.]]

->''"I think I'll try extra hard to remember today's events and conversations, in case I someday want to recall them verbatim."''
-->-- '''Gordon Frohman''', ''Webcomic/{{Concerned}}''

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:
* AnotherMansTerror: A character relives the end of another character's life.
* DeathByFlashback: A character who gets a flashback has a high probability to die.
* FlashbackCut: A very brief flashback.
* FlashBackEcho: In which the past events in the flashback parallel what's occurring in the present.
* FlashbackWithinAFlashback: 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.
* HappyFlashback: A flashback to a happy time, may segue into a TroubledBackstoryFlashback.
* HowDadMetMom: A flashback to how two parents met.
* HowWeGotHere: The episode opens InMediasRes, 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.
* PensieveFlashback: 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.
* RashomonStyle: Multiple flashbacks depicting one event from several different perspectives.
* SelfServingMemory: 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.
* TroubledBackstoryFlashback: A character with a DarkAndTroubledPast flashes back to a happy memory that transforms into a bloodbath.
* WholeEpisodeFlashback: A flashback that [[ShapedLikeItself takes up the whole episode]]. (in literary works, this would be an example of a "frame story").

SubTrope of SeparateSceneStorytelling. DreamingOfTimesGoneBy and BadDreams are two ways to show them. See also FlashbackEffects for ways of distinguishing a FlashBack from normal action, and ViewersAreGoldfish for flashbacks to events that are still fresh in the audience's mind. It's also a brilliant way to indulge in some ExpositionOfImmortality. The inverse of this trope is the {{Flashforward}}, which depicts events in the future instead of the past.

When a ''character'' is having a flashback, it can be because of [[{{Seers}} psychic/magical powers]], Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or simply resurfacing memories. In either case, it's a common justification for a movie to show the audience a Flashback.

If you want the page about the game ''Flashback: Quest for Identity'', [[VideoGame/{{Flashback}} go here]].

* Flashback/AnimeAndManga
* Flashback/{{Film}}
* Flashback/LiveActionTV


[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Flashbacks were abused in early issues of the Marvel ''[[ComicBook/TheTransformers Transformers Generation 1]]'' comic, with a page or more of some issues used to recreate scenes from previous issues an an apparent [[{{Padding}} attempt to fill space]].
* ''Comics/TheTaleOfOneBadRat'': 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 ''ComicBook/LastDaysOfTheJusticeSociety'', Dr. Fate shares with the modern Justice Society a flashback sequence of events that happened on the day of President UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt's funeral in 1945, to show how history has been changed when UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler has used the [[PublicDomainArtifact Spear Of Destiny]] to destroy the universe, tapping into the mystical energies of the Spectre to make it happen.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Violine}}'', Violine's father tells his backstory in flashback.
* ''ComicBook/CleanRoom'' has the primary narrative interwoven with flashbacks to Astrid's past that introduce or explain elements in the present.
* ''ComicBook/{{Birthright}}'' uses flashbacks to Mikey's time in Terrenos, often framed as him explaining something to his family.
* ''ComicBook/{{ElfQuest}}'' uses a flashback right at the beginning to show the reader some of the elves' OriginStory, which goes a long way toward explaining the current events which we return to following the flashback.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/{{Sally Forth|Howard}}'': In an arc for Feb. 12, 2010, Sally remembered the first time she met her boss, Ralph. She eventually snaps out of it.
-->'''Ted:''' You seemed zoned out for days! I almost called the hospital.\\
'''Sally:''' Don't worry. [[LampshadeHanging No one's ever died from a flashback.]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* The ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater'' FanFic ''FanFic/TheJoyOfBattle'' uses flashbacks in the same way that ''Series/{{Lost}}'' does to tell [[HowWeGotHere how the characters ended up at the point of the story's beginning]] and also to reveal BackStory through characterizing scenes.
* Several in FanFic/TheTaintedGrimoire:
** 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 ''FanFic/CalvinAtCamp'' Series/{{LOST}} parody features some... troubling... flashbacks for the kids.
* ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries'' uses this to explain Dr. Brainstorm's SiblingRivalry with Thunderstorm.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' story, ''[[Fanfic/LegacyTotalDrama 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 FanFic/PaperMarioX'' starts with [[Franchise/SonicTheHedgehog Sonic]], as always, scared of going in the water ([[SuperDrowningSkills 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 ({{lampshade|Hanging}}d by Mario). When Sonic says there was no way it happened twice, a flashback to Paper Mario X 2 follows.
** Chapter 61 of the original includes a flashback to the moment when Sonic, [[Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda Link]] and Franchise/{{Kirby}} first met [[VideoGame/{{Metroid}} Samus]]. It also shows the origin of Sonic and Samus's {{Embarrassing Nickname}}s.
* ''WebAnimation/TurnaboutStorm'', true to the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' style it uses, has several of these, [[MonochromePast usually in monochrome]]. For example, both [[SimultaneousArcs Part 3 - Twilight and Part 3 - Phoenix]] include a flashback to a same scene of Part 2 (specifically the point where [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Twilight]] touches [[Franchise/AceAttorney Phoenix]]'s Magatama, [[WrongContextMagic causing it to react weirdly]]), both for different reasons.
* In the ''Franchise/{{Naruto}}'' AU story [[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8340339/1/The-Quiet-Fox 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 ''Franchise/TheDarkTower, Book One: Literature/TheGunslinger'', 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: Literature/WizardAndGlass'', [[WholeEpisodeFlashback 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 OlderThanFeudalism: Odysseus has a long flashback in ''Literature/TheOdyssey''.
* Literature/HarryPotter has the Pensieve and Tom Riddle's diary, allowing for magical plot important flashbacks.
* K.J Parker's ''Literature/TheScavengerTrilogy''. In places there's more flashback than straight narrative.
* In the final book of the Literature/{{Sten}} series, the Emperor flashes back to his childhood and his steps on his rise to power.
* In Creator/MichaelFlynn's ''Literature/SpiralArm'' novel ''On the Razor's Edge'', Donovan has many flashbacks of recovering memories.
* ''Literature/WarCrimes'' has in-universe flashbacks. For [[BigBad Garrosh Hellscream's]] trial, the court uses the [[TimeTravel Vision of Time]] to view past events, in order to avoid errors in the witness testimony.
* ''Literature/ToughMagic'' has a few flashbacks, most notably two at the very beginning of the second book.
* In ''Literature/VampireAcademy'', 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 ''Literature/ErebusSequence'', 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 HowWeGotHere are interwoven. The second book uses fewer flashbacks, but there's still a reasonable number.
* In ''Literature/{{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.
* ''Literature/DreambloodDuology'': 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 ThePlague and Ehiru is sent to enact it, is described in a flashback.
* ''Literature/TheMachineriesOfEmpire'':
** Multiple flashbacks to Jedao's past happen near the end of ''Ninefox Gambit'' as [[spoiler: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.

* ''Radio/OurMissBrooks'': A large portion of "Borrowing Money to Fly", features Miss Brooks flashing back to her initial arrival in Madison.

* The first act of ''Theatre/NineMusical'' ends with a series of flashbacks to Guido's youth.
* ''Theatre/MissSaigon'' goes back to "The Fall of Saigon" midway through the second act
* During the song "Poor Thing" from ''Theatre/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet'', the story of Lucy Barker's rape is shown onstage as Mrs. Lovett sings about it.
* ''Theatre/{{Arcadia}}'' alternates scenes between flashbacks and the modern day.
* In ''Theatre/{{Proof}}'', there are several scenes that flashback to when Robert was alive.
* The original version of ''Theatre/MerrilyWeRollAlong'' had the story told in flashback, framed by Frank speaking at a graduation ceremony.
* ''Theatre/AngelsInAmerica'': In something not unlike a PensieveFlashback, 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.
* ''Theatre/ThePhantomOfTheOpera'' 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 ''Theatre/{{Violet}}'', flashbacks occur regularly. Some characters (e.g., Young Violet, Father) appear only in flashbacks.
* The ''Theatre/{{Mrs Hawking}}'' play series: About a third of installment four, ''Gilded Cages'', takes place in 1859 Singapore, where Mrs. Hawking grew up, met the man who would she would reluctantly marry, and made her very first discovery of the injustice of the world.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In a game that revolves around memories, ''VideoGame/AnotherCode'' covers a variety of these.
* ''[[VideoGame/{{Flashback}} Flashback: The Quest for Identity]]''. In-game flashbacks.
* In Minori's route in ''VisualNovel/BrassRestoration'', 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 ''VideoGame/ValkyrieProfile'', flashbacks are often used to show the events leading up to the Einherjar's deaths.
* ''VideoGame/Halo3ODST'' 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 ''VideoGame/TheReconstruction''. Subverted in that all but one of them are flashbacks to [[AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent the prologue's cast]].
* In ''[[VideoGame/ModernWarfare 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.
* In ''VideoGame/FredbearAndFriends'', the player gets to see two flashbacks to a security guard working during the pizzeria's heyday. While the first is playable, the other is just a short cutscene.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''VisualNovel/MajiDeWatashiNiKoiShinasai'' 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 ''VisualNovel/FaultMilestoneOne'' is comprised of Rudo and Albas' memories.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Concerned}}'' has an mini-arc when Frohman flashes back to his days at Black Mesa, providing arguably the best LampshadeHanging of this trope ever as the quote for this page.
** He [[http://www.screencuisine.net/hlcomic/index.php?date=2006-04-03 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.
* Lampshaded in [[http://the-qlc.com/loserz/go/134 this]] ''Webcomic/{{Loserz}}'' strip.
* [[Webcomic/VanVonHunter Van Von Hunter]] plays with this. [[http://www.vanvonhunter.com/vvh8.html "You have exceeded the maximum number of flashbacks allowed by the courtroom."]]
* Lampshaded with sarcasm in [[http://guildedage.net/webcomic/chapter-1/chapter-1-page-15/ here]] in ''Webcomic/GuildedAge''.
* Lance complains about having to [[http://www.goldcoincomics.com/?id=9 go through a flashback scene]] in ''WebComic/GoldCoinComics''.
* In ''Webcomic/SlightlyDamned'', when Kieri reads through [[spoiler:Darius']] diary.
* Crop up at random intervals as "Reg's Lost Years" in ''Webcomic/RegularGuy''
* Lampshaded in [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2004-03-05 this]] ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' strip.
* Lampshaded in [[http://booksdontworkhere.thecomicseries.com/comics/69/ this]] ''Webcomic/BooksDontWorkHere'' strip which starts a FlashBack which took place before the Flashback they are already in started.
* ''Webcomic/EvilDiva'': The trial sequence was littered with them, such as [[http://www.evildivacomics.com/?p=815 here]].
* ''Webcomic/{{Strays}}'' [[http://www.straysonline.com/comic/77.htm One panel Meela-induced flashback]]
* [[http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/The_KAMics/4768099/ Shows]] [[http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/The_KAMics/4771235/ up]] [[http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/The_KAMics/4771236/ occasionally]] [[http://www.theduckwebcomics.com/The_KAMics/4819814/ in]] ''Webcomic/TheKAMics''
* In ''Webcomic/ImpureBlood'', [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Chapter005/ib026.html Roan's recounting the past of his people has a flashback backdrop, of many scenes from the past.]]
* In ''Webcomic/NipAndTuck'', [[http://www.rhjunior.com/NT/00570.html how Zelda got her job.]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Endstone}}'' numerous: to when Jon tried to destroy the world, how he and Kyri met, facing down Drakyl -- etc.
* ''Webcomic/{{Shortpacked}}'' had a character trying to stop flashbacks to avoid drama. She interrupted a flashback mid-sequence, but [[http://www.shortpacked.com/2007/comic/book-5/06-flashbacked/mute/another 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.
* [[http://wapsisquare.com/comic/10232002/ This]] ''Webcomic/WapsiSquare'' strip uses a single panel flashback to show what happened last time Fermented Banana played at a wedding.
* The entire third story arc of ''Webcomic/TheSenkari'' is basically an extended flashback where Natalie learns some of the titular characters history..
* ''Webcomic/SplitScreen'' jumps back and forth between Jan and Jeremy's childhood friendship and their strained relationship as adults.
* ''Webcomic/ErrantStory'' gets a lot of use out of these, with every main character having at least one, and not a single HappyFlashback to show for the whole bunch of them.
** Sarine gets the first one in the story, as she [[http://www.errantstory.com/2003-06-27/114 remembers]] how her husband got killed
** Bani and Meji [[http://www.errantstory.com/2004-07-14/250 meet]] as outsiders at school
** Jon gets [[http://www.errantstory.com/2004-04-09/216 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 [[http://www.errantstory.com/2006-08-18/550 series]] of mini-flashbacks
** The BigBad (Ian) gets an entire [[http://www.errantstory.com/2006-01-02/456 chapter]] of them, to explain why he set off on a quest that [[FaceHeelTurn turned him from adoring kid brother to world-shattering menace]]
* Some short poignant ones all over ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod''. So far there have been flash backs for [[TheHero Baam]], [[MagnificentBastard Koon]], [[LittleMissBadass Anak]], [[SocialDarwinist Androssi]], [[RidiculouslyAverageGuy Rachel]], [[HotBlooded Ja]] [[GuileHero Wangnan]], [[TroubledButCute Viole]], [[SacrificialLamb Nia]] and [[PapaWolf Hon Arkraptor]].
* Animated updates of ''[[{{Webcomic/Morphe}} morphE]]'' typically flashback to how one of the seedlings ended up in a crate at the start of the story. The [[http://morphe.thewebcomic.com/comics/1790280/chapter-2-page-19-sweet-dreams/ first flashback]] shows each seedling in torment, [[http://morphe.thewebcomic.com/comics/1901549/chapter-3-page-18-open-your-eyes/ the second]] focuses on one specific seedling and [[http://morphe.thewebcomic.com/comics/2084108/chapter-5-page-1-misery-loves-company/ the third]] shows how they ended up in captivity in the first place.
* ''Webcomic/MarioAndLuigiCleanupCrew'': 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.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Roleplay/TheGamersAlliance'', various characters have flashbacks which often explain their past and their relationship with other characters.
* Unusually for the series, ''WebVideo/{{lonelygirl15}}'' episode "Comfort Food" included flashbacks to Daniel's grandmother's funeral. Flashbacks were again used in the series 3 episode "I Miss Her".
* ''WebVideo/LG15TheResistance'' makes frequent use of these to show Maggie's past.
* Frequently used in ''Roleplay/TheGunganCouncil'' 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 WebVideo/TransolarGalactica, 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?
* ''WebAnimation/IfTheEmperorHadATextToSpeechDevice'' 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 [[NiceJobBreakingItHero 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.
* ''Literature/FunnyBusiness'' 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 PlotTwist into a ShockingSwerve.
* ''WebVideo/TheMostStupidDeathsInSuperMario64'': In 'Even More Stupid Deaths', Mario has a flashback to the first time he went on the "slider".

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/InvaderZim'' 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 ''WesternAnimation/JimmyTwoShoes'', there have been a few flashbacks about Lucius' life under [[RoyallyScrewedUp his father]], including the one that made him a SelfMadeOrphan.
* Used a lot in ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' 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.
** 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".
-->'''Phineas''': What's he doing?
-->'''Ferb''': [[NoFourthWall 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.
* Used frequently in ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender,'' 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 [[DarkAndTroubledPast don't]] or [[TeamPet can't]] talk about their pasts quietly remembering them in the form of flashbacks.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheCareBearsMovie'' is told as this.
* ''WesternAnimation/DangerMouse'': "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 PlayedWith in the ''WesternAnimation/{{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!
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Kaeloo}}'': In Episode 136, a flashback is shown to Kaeloo, Stumpy, Quack Quack and Mr. Cat [[EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether at school in the same class as little kids.]] This is despite the fact that other episodes have established that Kaeloo and Mr. Cat are older than the other two.