An event taking place in the present triggers a Flashback
of a very similar event that happened in the past. Resembles an Ironic Echo
or Meaningful Echo
except that the viewer often sees the current event first and the meaningful or ironic past event is only shown through the flashback.
Common types of Flashback Echoes include:
- Type 1. If a character sees a large fire and starts having a Freak Out because it triggers a traumatic flashback of when they were a kid and almost got trapped and killed in a fire. Flashbacks of forgotten or repressed traumas may be incomplete, mysterious and foreboding.
- Type 2. As above, but with nostalgic or otherwise meaningful events.
- Type 3. A person reminds someone of a different person they used to know, and they flashback to memories of that person, sometimes represented by visually superimposing the old person's image over the new person's.
- Type 4. A flashback to That One Case or an event that was someone's Greatest Failure brought on by a similar event, may lead to My Greatest Second Chance.
- Type 5. Any flashback to an event because History Repeats.
And so on.
Compare Visions of Another Self
, where the "Echo" part can be conveyed through a dream, an alternate reality side trip, a holodeck or other such literary device, usually in a way that teaches the character or the audience some lesson relevant to the present.
If you're thinking of the stereotypical echoey sound effect that often acompanies flashbacks, you should be looking at Flashback... Back... Back...
Could be considered having some Truth in Television
, because people with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) have this type of flashback activated by a trigger. For instance, if a war veteran with PTSD heard gunfire, he could have a flashback to a traumatic event with the same weapon.
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Anime and Manga
- In ROD the TV, the youngest of the Paper Sisters has a breakdown during a book-burning, since it gives her a very keen flashback to the incident that gave her a phobia against books in general — being trapped in a burning library.
- During the first half of Space Pirate Mito, Aoi keeps having fractured flashbacks (maybe that should be a trope) from 11 years ago, when his mother took him into space and they were attacked by Ranban. The flashback is finally shown in full when he witnesses Mito and Ranban fighting in a similar fashion, and ends up subconsciously wounding Mito, due to not recognizing her true form all those years ago.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! had Rakan going into a (one panel) flashback to show how closely Negi's group of friends paralleled his father's group.
- During the Conviction arc of Berserk, Guts has a combination of Type 1 and Type 4 when a horse that has turned into a demon bears down on Farnese and tries to rape her, reminding him strongly of the rape of his lover Casca at Griffith-turned-Femto's hands during the Eclipse. This proceeds to set Guts off in a serious way, and needless to say, it doesn't end well for the once-helpful steed.
- During Guts and Casca's first time, Guts ends up having a Type 1 flashback to his traumatic childhood rape at the hands of Donovan, which almost leads to Casca getting strangled to death before Guts comes back to his senses. The rest of the scene sees the two more than making up for this.
- Fullmetal Alchemist. Winry gets a type 2 in episode 22: as she hears rumors of the Elrics fighting Scar, she suddenly flashes back to her parents' retreating backs the last time she saw them alive, which is then superimposed with an image of Ed and Al walking the same way.
- Type 3 is repeatedly used in the Search for Tsunade arc of Naruto, comparing the titular character to Tsunade's old flame and younger brother, both of whom Naruto echoed by saying that becoming Hokage was his dream. For bonus points the arc showed the old flame echoing the brother and the brother bore a great physical resemblance to Naruto to amplify the comparison.
- Sangatsu No Lion has a Type 1. While Rei is treating Momo's arm for some bruises she received from falling down, he recalls the sight of the injuries and internal bleeding of the arm of his deceased sister's corpse and begins crying in response.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! combines this one with "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight. Yugi tries to get through to a possessed Jounouchi by giving him Yugi's Millennium Puzzle, and Marik immediately commands him to throw it into the sea to keep it away from Yugi. Jounouchi promptly flashes back to the beginning of his friendship with Yugi, when Yugi defended him from a bully even after Jounouchi stole a piece of the Puzzle and dropped it in a pool. Even the possession can't get Jounouchi to do that again.
- In the Batman Confidential storyline "The First League", various events trigger Bruce Wayne having flashbacks to a meeting with a Chinese superhero group when he was travelling the world before taking the Batman identity. His first encounter with the Justice League of America leads to a Let's You and Him Fight situation that exactly parallels a training exercise with the Chinese team.
- Chapter Two of All Fall Down revolves around heroes (and Sophie) remembering the last time the Pantheon was truly heroic, involving a mission on the moon.
- Fatal Instinct, in a parody of Sleeping With The Enemy. Twice when Laura Lincolnberry sees some disarranged towels, she has a flashback to her abusive husband getting angry at her because of his obsessive need for everything to be perfectly arranged, including towels.
- Played Straight in A Fistful of Dynamite. John witnesses Dr. Villega betraying the resistance and pointing out members for the firing squad. He instantly recalls a similar event involving his friend Sean Nolan betraying him in Dublin.
- The killings start in Pieces when the killer witnesses a girl crashing through a mirror, as it reminds him of his mother breaking a mirror in the past before he killed her.
- After Kal-El's ship lands in Smallville, Man of Steel skips ahead to an adult Clark, so these are used several times to show his growing years.
- In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore asks Harry, "Is there something you wish to tell me?" in such a way that it's suggested he knows whatever the "something" is and is trying to give Harry the opportunity to come clean himself. Later on he asks Tom Riddle the same thing in the diary flashback.
Live Action TV
- Torchwood did this in the first episode where an odd looking knife sparks Gwen's memory and overrides the amnesia drug she was slipped earlier.
- LOST loves to do this. Nearly every episode of the first three seasons contains a flashback that usually has some relevance to what is currently going on in the episode, focusing on the central character for that episode.
- Forever Knight does this Once an Episode (or more) with Nick flashing back to a situation earlier in his life which paralleled his current predicament.
- Kung Fu was all over this.
- Highlander: The Series uses this every episode. Immortals have centuries of memories to draw upon, and will invariably flash back to an event similar to the present.
- In a season 4 episode of Angel, "Ground State", electro-girl Gwen Raiden electrocutes and kills Charles Gunn. She immediately flashes back to an event in her childhood in which she accidentally kills a boy she was making friends with. Shocked with herself, she revives Gunn within twenty seconds or so.
- Dexter flash-cuts back to the moment Harry found Dexter more than once - most notably, at the end of season four.
- Used often in Homeland to contrast Brody's time in captivity against his life at home. Since he's a Shell-Shocked Veteran, everyday events can trigger some very dark memories.
- In Killer7, during the final phase of Chapter Smile, Garcian can stop by each floor of the Union Hotel and see bloodstains at the same places where he, as Emir Parkeriner, killed (and assimilated as alternate personalities) the six people of the Smith Syndicate, who all happened to be staying there at the time, bringing back painful memories.
- In Xenogears, Elly is speaking to a mob of mutated humans, offering to sacrifice her body to them in order to ease their pain. In the middle of her speech, the game flashes back to Sophia, her previous incarnation, saying the same words.
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, around 85% through the main storyline, after Snake attempted to chase down the Peace Walker whilst riding the Boss's horse, said horse breaks it's back after being thrown off an extremely steep hill, Snake (i.e. The Player) is then forced to euthanize said horse, before (or after, depending on how long the player takes to pull the trigger) Snake has flashbacks to the climax of Operation: Snake Eater, in which he was forced to finish off the Boss, whom was helplessly suffering from wounds attained in her previous battle with Snake, with a single round from her Patriot.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 has Snake dream about his mission in Shadow Moses from Metal Gear Solid, which is not only playable, but the sequence also doubles as a Nostalgia Level with gameplay elements and graphics directly used from the Playstation version!
- In Metro 2033, Artyom has incidents of hearing voices and seeing things that are not actually there. At some point while walking through the ruins of the surface, he comes across an old and rusty playground where he experiences a freaky flashback echo. After a couple of seconds, the vision vanishes as quickly as it came and Artyom notices a Dark One who was stalking him for a while who was likely behind all that crazy stuff.
- He runs into several more of these in Last Light, but without the presence of the Dark Ones. The first is the vision of the crashing plane that he and Pavel get sucked into in "Echoes", and he has a bunch more in "The Dead City" that are triggered by seeing ghosts.
- The Venture Bros. likes playing with this one. In Past Tense, there was even a fight scene that flashback echoed to a fight scene that played out in the exact same way (the winner was Brock in both fights; the other four characters involved were different).
- A staple of Last Res0rt:
- In Complicated Ness Type 1 and Type 2. In the novel the four notes have significant meaning to Ness' early life.
- A common symptom in dramatic portrayals depicting war veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Really, anyone with PTSD could suffer the first and third points.