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Flashback Cut

I get it. You went shopping. I don't need a montage.
Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

Kind of a cross between a regular Flashback and an Imagine Spot. What distinguishes it from a regular Flashback is that it is a quick cut to the past that only lasts a few seconds before snapping back to the present.

This is usually played for comedy. For example, Bob tells Sue that he has a lot of experience with women. Cut to Bob getting his face slapped by various women and then snap back to the present. It can also be used to show something humorous that happened in the past. What distinguishes it from an Imagine Spot is that it shows something that "really" happened.

Flashback Twists usually use this kind of flashback, though they don't necessarily have to.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Non-comedic example in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S: When Vita gets stabbed through her chest by a cloaked Gadget Drone, there's a quick Flashback to a more complete version of the Snow Means Death incident, which revealed that one of those things was what almost killed Nanoha.
    • There's also the famous scene in which Nanoha defeats Quattro:
    Quattro: She's going to just blast through the walls? Oh dear Mother of God!
    [cut to Nanoha doing just that in episode 1]
    Nanoha: Blaster-3 ... Divine ... Buster!!!
    • Another flashback occurs just after Nanoha saves Vivio.
  • In Sangatsu no Lion, as Rei is convincing the young Momo that Kyoko is not a "witch" for the heated argument Momo and her sisters witness between Rei and Kyoko, a single planel flashes back to one particular instance where Kyoko was genuinely nice to Rei during their childhood.

     Comic Books 


  • One of the key signatures of the The Crow films are their use of this trope. Flashbacks to happier times must be accompanied with a "WHOOSH" sound effect and be presented in significantly richer and brighter colours than the rest of the film.
  • Used for comedic effect in the 2008 film version of Get Smart.
  • Spy Hard: Agent Dick Steele is testing a golf club until his old buddy shows up. "We go back a long way, huh?" (Cuts to a flashback just happened few seconds ago.)
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, two snippets of Raven from X-Men: First Class appear when the Future Professor X discusses their sibling-like relationship to the other X-Men.

    Live Action TV 
  • In one episode of Arrested Development, Tobias is covered in blue paint and tells Michael, "I just blue myself." Later, after he gets hit by a car and ends up in the hospital, his wife Lindsay asks Michael what the last thing he said was. Cue flashback to "I just blue myself."
  • Tucker's brief flashback in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Prom" shows why he wants to unleash hellhounds on the prom.
    Tucker: Do you wanna go to the prom with me?
    Girl: No.
    • In "Gone" Buffy finds Spike's cigarette lighter behind the sofa and has an instant flashback to having sex with him. No wonder the lighter ended up in her pants.
  • How I Met Your Mother loves these. Given the Framing Device of the show, arguably the entire series is one of these.
  • One of the main comedy tropes used in Leverage.
    "I once saw a horse kill a clown"
  • A non-comedy example ends the LOST episode "Dave". After an episode of regular flashbacks to Hurley's hospitalization, a quick flashback shows that Libby was at Santa Rosa as well.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), there is another dramatic example where when Dean finds the bodies hanging from their wrists in the warehouse and brief cuts show the figures he saw in the closet and the reappearing woman in white, revealing that these figures were reality interrupting his fantasy.
  • Used multiple times in nearly every episode of 30 Rock.
    • So much so, that in the Live Episode, Julia Louis-Dreyfus played Liz Lemon in flashbacks, while Tina Fey continued to play the role in the main narrative.
    • They averted the trope when Liz mentioned she couldn't believe they had been doing TGS for three years to Jack. The both looked off like they were reminiscing but the clip never played.
    Liz: We've sure had a lot of crazy times (beat) I'm thinking about some of them now...
    Jack: Me too...

    Video Games 
  • Played for Laughs in the Touhou Flashes on Walfas, where the flashbacks are used as backstory for the rivalry between Kaguya and Mokou; said flashbacks often consist of the two fighting over ownership of a toy trucks twuck. Reimu lampshades it in one Flash in which a flashback occurs in her burger stand and she kicks out the two for violating the store's "no flashbacks" rule.


    Web Original 
  • A literally painful (yet perfectly comedically timed one) happens in this Let's Play of Megaman Legends 2. It's probably even more amusing if you didn't see what happened the first time.
  • Red vs. Blue Chours Civil War , each of the team members have a flash back on how they messed with the ship they were on, and how it contributed to it crashing.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Critic, Alice asks Jay when was the last time he was dressed by a woman, citing his wardrobe as the source of his unpopularity. We see Jay as a child, being dressed in a little Lord Fauntleroy outfit by his mother for summer camp, only to get on the bus for Attica Prison. "In ever boy's life, there's a summer of '76."
  • Also used (and, some would say, overused) in Family Guy, happening almost every episode.
    • This is played with in an episode in Season 2, when Peter flashes back to something that happened ten minutes ago. Ten minutes ago in their time. We saw it happen closer to one minute ago.
    • This was also played with in a later episode when Stewie is sucked into a portal in his closet by a malevolent poltergeist, and says something that appears to be setting up a flashback, but is interrupted as he enters the portal, and the flashback doesn't happen.
    • And again when Stewie said something expecting a flashback to happen, but they didn't have a clip to show.
  • Hoodwinked does one in the first conversation between Red Puckett and Nicky Flippers:
    Red Puckett: Why do they call you "Flippers"?
    [Cuts to Flippers on the dance floor at a disco club, wearing a flashy white suit; as someone chants "Go Flippers!" in the background, he does a backflip and lands in a split]
    Nicky Flippers: Uh, no reason.
  • In the The Legend of Korra episode "The Voice in the Night" this is Played for Drama: After Avatar Korra is knocked out, she's briefly Dreaming of Times Gone By, with split-second scenes of her previous incarnation Aang, and his friends Sokka, and Toph as middle-aged adults.
  • The picture above shows the trumpet playing alligator Louis from The Princess and the Frog is a Cutaway Gag, flashing back to when he first tried to play that trumpet for humans. The response that he got wasn't quite the applause he was expecting.

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