[[quoteright:238:[[Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/flashbacktime.jpg]]]]
->''"Initiate super-wavy flashback effect!"''
-->-- '''Dr. Nefarious''', ''VideoGame/RatchetAndClankFutureACrackInTime''

[[PaintingTheMedium The use of]] CameraTricks and other {{paratext}}ual elements to distinguish {{flashback}}s, flash forwards, {{Imagine Spot}}s and occasionally dreams from normal, in-the-present action.

These are very helpful on those occasions when there's nothing in the event itself to specify when it takes place.

Common ways of doing this include:
* Explicitly setting the date of the scene through {{narrat|or}}ion or [[TitleIn subtitles]] (or text boxes in {{comicbooks}}). "Seven years ago..."
* Using an {{Idiosyncratic Wipe|s}} or {{Dissolve}} to mark the transition from Present to Past. May or may not be accompanied by a unique sound effect.
** One particularly common (and frequently parodied) version of this is to have the screen go wavy during the Dissolve, accompanied by the sound of harpist plucking up the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_tone_scale whole tone scale]]. Where harps are absent, the usual musical effect is tinkling glockenspiel notes played like wind chimes over string tremolos.
** [[FlashbackBackBack Repeating the last sound effect over the dissolve is also common enough to have its own article]].
* Make the scene in the flashback look or sound different from the present in some way. Common ways of doing this include:
** Blurring it.
** [[MonochromePast Showing it]] DeliberatelyMonochrome, or more subtly tinted.
** For HighDefinition-era television shows, making the picture square, and/or adding faux-[[{{UsefulNotes/VCR}} VHS]] artifacts and removing detail to give it a 'dated' look.
** Add a misty border around the edge of the screen.
** Apply an echo or other sound effect to everyone's voice.
** In animation or comics, apply an ArtShift.
** For books, changing the [[UsefulNotes/{{Fonts}} typeface]].
** In comic books, changing the panel border style.
** In manga, making the negative space between panels black.

FlashbackBackBack, HappyFlashback and TroubledBackstoryFlashback are {{Sub Trope}}s. Not to be confused with FlashbackCut.

[[AC:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' uses the common black negative space for several years ago and gray space when the event was more recent.
* Every time someone has a flashback in ''GhostInTheShell'', it's covered by a monologue, because there is always someone there to listen to the flashback. The exception would be Togusa, who is venting, directing all his thoughts toward an established character who might not be present.
* The entirety of ''Anime/BoogiepopPhantom'' is filmed with a vignette effect and more often than not with dull colors. Correspondingly, the entire series is a huge flashback.
* ''Anime/{{Mnemosyne}}'''s flashbacks are seen from the perspective of the person having the flashback, with the audio and video given a sort of watery distortion.
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in ''Anime/ExcelSaga'' episode 11: after a short discussion about an impending flashback, the ripple effect begins, and Hyatt chants softly "ripple, ripple, ripple..."
* ''Anime/MobileFighterGGundam'' might be one of the very few cases where an anime dub suffered from being TOO faithful to the original. Somehow, "You're the same as you were back then. Back then. Back then. Back then. Back then. Back then. Back then." sounds more absurd in English than in Japanese.
* Done in flashbacks of ''[[Manga/FullmetalAlchemist Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood]]'', where most colors are duller than usual, the audio is often tinkered with and in the Ishbal related stuff, the eyes have a glow-y effect to them.
** Also, a flashback to Yoki's backstory is done in (more or less) the style of a silent film, complete with flicker, scratches, jitter, intertitles, tinny music, and the sound of a projector.
* Irritatingly, the English dub of ''Anime/SonicX'' added these (misty border around the edges of the screen with echoes to everyone's voice) where in the original Japanese version there were none.
** They did the same to ''Manga/YuGiOh'' and probably many other of their properties, but none [[http://s15.postimg.org/matahpjwb/omg_its_a_flashback_border.jpg as intrusively]] as ''Sonic X''.
* Funimation's English dub of ''Anime/DragonBallZ'' had music by Bruce Faulconer specifically made to play for all flashback scenes. They also have the usual echoing voices effect too.
* ''[[Anime/TheIdolmaster THE iDOLM@STER]]'' - During Chihaya's flashbacks, the animation is darker and granier than usual.

* Popular alterations to panel borders for flashbacks are rounded corners, or making it wavy all around.
* In the ''Comicbook/ElfQuest'' story ''Recognition'', Brandon [=McKinney=] uses wavy borders and a "faded" effect (dark grey inked outlines rather than black) for the images for most flashbacks. Others have a shifted art style matched to the culture of the person telling the story: A style evoking [[http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/SS2aREC/DisplaySS2aREC.html?page=33 stained glass windows]] for the medieval Europe FantasyCounterpartCulture, and one inspired by [[http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/SS2aREC/DisplaySS2aREC.html?page=35 Far Eastern brush drawings]] for the Mongolia/China mashup.
* In ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'', a glint of light off the frame of an old photograph cuts to the flash from that photo being taken.

* ''Film/WaynesWorld'' parodied the use of IdiosyncraticWipes.
* In ''Film/BigFish'', all of the flashbacks have shots with more brightly-colored objects in them and a slight glowing effect on the characters' faces.
* ''Film/BoggyCreek2TheLegendContinues'', every single flashback was slightly blurred. The ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' crew did not let this pass without comment. They then parodied it in one sketch, where Crow, Tom Servo, and Mike each narrate a flashback to [[ViewersAreGoldfish an event that occurred seconds ago]], and each flashback is blurrier than the last.
* Film/JohnnyDangerously [[LampshadeHanging explained this trope's effect in scene]] to a would-be child thief that he was lecturing about his own childhood choices. The screen blurs and the child responds "What the hell's goin' on?!" Johnny explains that it always happens when he "talks about the past."
* In ''G.O.R.A.'', as the alien villain Logar explains why he hates humans, the movie flashes back to [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fm9Tf7p34w his grandfather landing his spaceship in 18th-century Turkey]]. The flashback is shot in grainy, black-and-white film reminiscent of the most primitive motion picture technology.
* In ''Film/TrickRTreat'', the flashback is filmed with a much brighter colour pallet than the rest of the film, and is bathed in golden light.
* In ''Ciao! Manhattan'' when Susan Superstar tells stories of her time in New York, the flashbacks appear in cool, glamorous black and white.
* Lucy's flashbacks to her childhood in ''Film/WhileYouWereSleeping'' are sepia tinted; lampshaded, when Lucy's narration remarks that [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall she doesn't remember her childhood]] "being this ''orange''".
* ''Film/{{Unknown}}'' features a good deal of flashbacks since it is about a guy who has a specific kind of amnesia - the kind where his identity is stolen and he can't figure out why. Being directed by [[Film/HouseOfWax2005 Jaume]] [[{{Orphan}} Collet-Serra]], expect every last trick under the "make the flashback look and sound different" category. Also, flashback sex scenes!
* ''Film/TheElementOfCrime'' is one lengthy, hypnosis induced, sepia-toned flashback sequence. This actually works well given the films FilmNoir trappings.
* In ''Film/AmericanHistoryX'', the flashback sequences to the hero's childhood are DeliberatelyMonochrome.
* In ''Film/WreckItRalph'' Tamara gets the Eye Recall type of flashback when Felix calls her a "Dynamite Gal", triggering repeat remembrances of her previous boyfriend's every instance of having called her that.

* ''Literature/TheYiddishPolicemensUnion'' is written in present tense, but shifts into past tense for flashback scenes.
* ''ThePilotsWife''. by ''AnitaShreve'', does the reverse: the main story is in past tense, but flashbacks are in present tense.
* InUniverse, the Cho-Ja remote-viewing magic in ''[[Literature/TheRiftwarCycle Mistress of the Empire]]'' is described as presenting a wavery image with muted colors when used to view the past, in contrast to a crystal-clear image when viewing the present.

* [[UsefulNotes/TheNetherlands Dutch]] TV presenter Bart de Graaff had this in his channel / program "Waar kan ik je 's nachts voor wakker maken?" (What can I wake you up for, in the middle of the night?) as part of an interview series with famous Dutch people, and then revisited a year later when he would actually wake them up in the middle of the night with the thing in question. It'd start off in the middle of the night going "Do you remember when I talked to [X]? Let's find out!" and then draw wavey lines with his hands in front of the camera [[InvokedTrope making the screen go all wiggly]].
** His last episode had him go "[[NostalgiaFilter This is the last time we're gonna do this]].. [[SchmuckBait Why don't you join me]]? The screen went blurry as per usual, until it reverted back to normal. "You looked like a fucking idiot there, in your living room, [[{{Troll}} Didn't you]]?"
* ''Series/WithoutATrace''. The screen flashes white with every transition from the present to the past (and vice versa). Often these are {{Match Cut}}s as well, establishing that the flashback occurred in the same location as the present.
* ''Series/{{Highlander}}'' usually had black and white or sepia-toned flashbacks.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'' has a distinctive sound effect to mark the transition to and from each flashback/forward/sideways.
* At least two episodes of ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' parodied this:
** [[http://ibras.dk/montypython/episode21.htm#10 This sketch]] in episode 21 {{lampshade|Hanging}}d it:
'''Pepperpot 1:''' Ooh! What's happening?\\
'''Pepperpot 2:''' It's all right. It's only a flashback.
** The [[http://ibras.dk/montypython/episode28.htm#12 "Puss in Boots" sketch]] in episode 28:
--->'''Captain''': We are from the SS [[NurseryRhyme Mother Goose]]. We were twelve days out from Port of Spain, and one night I was doing my usual rounds, when I had occasion to pass the forward storage lockers...\\
'''Captain''': [==]\\
'''Police Chief''': Go on!
** And one episode played it straight:
--->'''Mr. Bones''': Oh, once upon a time there lived in Wiltshire a young chap called Dennis Moore. Now Dennis was a highwayman by profession...\\
'''Mr. Bones''': ...and for several months he had been stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
* Also {{lampshade|Hanging}}d in ''Series/TheYoungOnes'' episode "Nasty" where the characters begin swaying in time with the rippling picture effect.
* ''Series/ColdCase'' often has flash backs to events decades ago, and goes to the trouble of imitating the production styles and techniques of video footage of that time period (low quality resolution, over bleaching, scratches on the film, etc.).
* The flashbacks in the ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' episode "Company Man" are shown in black and white, along with subtitles indicating that it is "fourteen years ago" or whenever.
** HRG's season 3 flashback episode is also in black and white, and Sylar's are in black and white and [[spoiler:red]].
* Parodied on the SketchComedy show ''Roundhouse'', where the flashback effects were provided by cast members waving their fingers in front of the camera lens and making sound effects. In one episode they got the effects for "flashback" and "[[ImagineSpot fantasy sequence]]" mixed-up.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'' used [[DeliberatelyMonochrome monochrome]] effects for flashbacks, memories, and telepathy-induced visions.
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in the ''Wayne's World'' sketches from ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'', with Wayne and Garth waving their hands in front of their faces and making "doodle-oodle-oo" noises as the flashbacks start and end.
* ''Series/BandOfBrothers''. In the last episode, Maj. Winters has a couple, brief DeliberatelyMonochrome flashbacks when a general reviews his service record.
* In ''Series/VeronicaMars'', all the flashbacks are fuzzy around the edges and in sepia tones.
* The flashback scenes in the ''Series/{{Charmed}}'' episode "Pre-Witched" are sepia-toned, and the World-War-II-era scenes in "Saving Private Leo" are DeliberatelyMonochrome.
* In ''Series/MythQuest'''s 11th episode, all the flashbacks are sepia-toned and have a slight reverb sound.
* ''Series/MythBusters'' shows flashbacks to previous episodes with washed-out colors, with some color accents.
* ''Series/{{UFO}}'' episode "Court Martial". The teaser shows Colonel Foster being sentenced to death. The first act starts with a shimmering effect on the screen like falling water, then continues with the beginning of the events that led to the sentencing.
** "Do you remember the Dalotek Affair, six months ago?" ''The Dalotek Affair...the Dalotek Affair...''
* In the ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' episode [[Recap/SupernaturalS02E20WhatIsAndWhatShouldNeverBe "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20)]], before and after the [[FlashbackCut brief flashbacks]] to the figures Dean saw in his closet and the prior appearance of the woman in white, there were [[IdiosyncraticWipes flashes of bright white]]. [[MonochromePast The flashbacks]] were also [[DeliberatelyMonochrome desaturated]].
* On [[Series/{{PersonofInterest}} ''Person of Interest'']], this trope is mixed with ColorCodedForYourConvenience. When a flashback is involves something sad, serious or involving the... work the characters were previously involved in, the colour tones are colder and blue, while happier times are generally represented by warmer tones.
** Specifically:
*** Reese's flashbacks involving the CIA and his time in it are in cold blue tones, while those involving Jessica are in warmer, happier tones. Except for [[spoiler:when he pays her widowed husband a visit in New Rochelle.]]
*** Finch's flashbacks involving work on the Machine and similar things are presented in cooler tones, while those involving friendly meetings with Nathan [[spoiler:and with Grace]] are in warmer colours. Again, there are exceptions, namely, [[spoiler:the ferry bombing and [[FakingTheDead its aftermath]]]].
** Elias' flashbacks in Season 1 are in quite a unique tone, somehow reminiscent of the Godfather.
** In Season 3, as more characters are exposed through flashback, this trope is [[ZigZaggedTrope zig-zagged]], but is still noticeably in play to some extent. For example, the trope seems to be non-present in: Finch's [[spoiler:childhood, college and funeral]] scenes and Shaw's childhood scene but present in the flashbacks showing: the [[StartofDarkness start of darkness]] of Peter Collier, Carter's flashbacks and the interrogation scenes in "The Devil's Share" (all of these are in blue tones).
* ''Series/TrueBlood'' used the Eye Recall type frequently when any vampire was remembering their human life or earlier in their immortal life. Occasionally used for humans flashing back as well.

* In ''ComicStrip/FunkyWinkerbean'' and its spinoff ''Crankshaft'', artist Tom Batiuk indicates a flashback sequence by shading the panels in sepia tones and adding a little decoration to each corner to make it look as though the panel is an old photograph in an album.

* Parodied in ''{{Radio/Ectoplasm}}'':
-->'''[[Creator/SophieAldred Mary Cockroft]]:''' Well, it all started a year ago. \\
''(Harp scale)'' \\
'''Lord Zimbabwe:''' Please... don't touch the harp.
** Ten seconds later, played straight with both a harp scale and a FlashbackBackBack.

* For the three flashbacks in the ''Theatre/CityOfAngels'' FilmNoir sequences, the script calls for "flashback effect," and the music cues definitely suggest this trope.
* The dream transitions in the original production of ''Theatre/LadyInTheDark'' were done with a complicated system of turntables within turntables and a kaleidoscopic light effect to get the cinematic effect Moss Hart apparently wanted.

* In the later ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' games, the Flashbacks are done DeliberatelyMonochrome; in the original, they're in sepia tone.
* In the PC game ''SecretsOfDaVinciTheForbiddenManuscript'', protagonist Valdo will experience flashbacks of ''someone else's life'' when he completes certain action sequences. These are presented in sepia tone and, as might be expected, are very confusing to the character.
* Lampshaded by Grandpa in ''VideoGame/TheSimpsonsHitAndRun''. "It was so long ago that I'll have to describe it in ''sepia tone''!"
* Flashbacks in ''VideoGame/{{Theresia|DearEmile}}'' are interspersed with dots that resemble white noise, but are the same reddish color as the concentrated form of the titular disease.
* The "All Ghillied Up" mission ''[[VideoGame/ModernWarfare CoD4]]'' is actually an aversion, since it plays out in full color. However, it's possible to ''make it'' DeliberatelyMonochrome yourself by use of the COD Noir cheat. But the mission briefing shows physical maps and B&W photos of the targets instead of the usual computer imagery.
* While not exactly a Flashback, during the [[TimeTravel past]] sequences of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' the regular battle theme is replaced by the somewhat more peppy [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jho-peCAKs "The Man With the Machine Gun"]] to go with Laguna's battles, the title reflecting that Laguna's weapon of choice is a machine gun.
* During flashback sequences in the story mode of ''VideoGame/NarutoShippudenUltimateNinjaStorm2'', a pretty cool-looking graphical effect is used that simulates grainy, sepia-tone film. This even extends to at least one gameplay battle that takes place during a flashback. In addition, the game uses stills that seem to be taken straight from the anime (with the aforementioned effect applied) for flashbacks to events from the pre-Shippuden series.
* ''VideoGame/CityOfHeroes'' uses sepia fade-in/fade-out effects for "flashback" missions: missions that are run at a level lower than your character's current level.
* ''VideoGame/{{Achron}}'' adds a sepia tone to the screen when a player is watching/playing in the past.
* In ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4GunsOfThePatriots'', Old Snake relives his past in the form of the original ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid''. Shows a nice way of comparing the older style of gameplay and graphics to the newer style. Also counts as {{fanservice}} and a ShoutOut to anyone who has played the original game.
* While not exactly a flashback, during the boss battle reruns in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'', everything except for Link and certain particle effects is rendered in grayscale. The normal boss battle music for each fight is replaced with a trippy and more electronic version of the theme.
* Despite Dr. Nefarious's LampshadeHanging, ''Franchise/RatchetAndClank'' doesn't usually use the classic harp and wave dissolve combo for flashbacks - a quick ArtShift from 3D to 2D does the trick most of the time.

* In ''Webcomic/CountYourSheep'', the present day comics have a blue coloration, while past scenes (from when the mother was a child) are shown in magenta.
* ''Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids'': Uses sepia for flashback panels.
* ''Webcomic/DoubleK''. "And what's this?! The ever-darkening panel gutters would seem to indicate the approach...OF A FLASHBACK"
* ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' uses the rounded panel corners variant for both flashbacks and {{Imagine Spot}}s.
* ''Webcomic/ExterminatusNow'': Toys with it in a LeaningOnTheFourthWall moment in [[http://exterminatusnow.co.uk/2011-01-29/comic/chase-sequence/remember-smitty-and-jonesy/ this]] strip.
* ''Webcomic/TheFoxSister'' uses reddish monochrome colors with faded edges for a flashback panel.
* ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' uses sepia toned panels most of the time. There are [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20031119 some]] [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20031201 exceptions]], though.
* ''Webcomic/{{Goblins}}'' rarely uses flashbacks. When it does, it uses different effects. There are shiny panel edges [[http://www.goblinscomic.com/10302006/ here]], and black/white [[http://www.goblinscomic.com/09172010-2/ here]].
* ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt''. {{Flashback Cut}}s are represented by a sepia-toned panel inside the present-day panel. Longer, full-panel flashbacks are in color and are distinguished either by textured backgrounds, rounded panel corners, or both.
** When some fans thought these weren't clear enough, Tom responded with [[http://gunnerkrigg.wikia.com/wiki/Image:437alt.jpg this parody.]]
** A later flashback chapter has slightly desaturated/sepia-ish colors throughout.
* ''Webcomic/IrregularWebcomic'' uses both the [[http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/1260.html misty border]] and the [[http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/comic.php?current=1283&theme=5&dir=next5 sepia tone]] effects.
* In ''Webcomic/QueenOfWands'', when Kestrel is recounting how she and Shannon met and how everyone became roommates, the flashback strips are sepia-toned. When, ''during the flashback'', Kestrel recounts her backstory with Felix to Shannon, it's portrayed in black-and-white, without the sepia cast.
* ''Webcomic/StrawberryDeathCake''. {{Flashback Cut}}s are represented by a sepia-tone-reminiscent black/white/yellow color scheme, rather than the regular black/white/red one.

* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdby-GkQlg0 STELLA's "Birthday" sketch]] has David Wain's character David Wain start his flashback to the time he met Michael Showalter's character Mi-well, you know what comes next. Wain says he "must've met [=[Michael]=] twenty years ago!" Then the flashback starts. The color balance is slightly different, and the establishing shot is of a giant calendar with squares reading "REM", "The Cure", "Synth-Pop", and "Ronald Reagan", plus a {{Terminator}} poster visible on a nearby wall.
* ''Machinima/TheStrangerhood'': Every time Wade wants to tell a story, the screen goes wavy and leads into a flashback. Eventually Sam gets fed up with this.
--> '''Sam''': "Quit making these stupid wavy lines"
--> '''Wade''': "Don't fight it, man."
--> '''Sam''': "You're making me dizzy"
--> '''Wade''': "Don't fight the wavy lines"

* LampshadeHanging in ''WesternAnimation/RockosModernLife'', "Future Schlock." TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture, an aged Filburt attempts to enlighten his kids via FlashBack, and forgets which button to press to "make things go all squiggly."
** "The green one, Daddy!"
* Used in the episode of ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventures'' which parodies ''Film/CitizenKane''. Buster even {{lampshade|Hanging}}s it by saying, "I remember it as if it were...a flashback!"
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' had quite a bit of fun with this in the episode "I'm A Little Bit Country", in which Cartman is trying to flashback to the year 1776 for a school project.
* Subverted in an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers''. The Monarch starts reminiscing about his past with Doctor Venture and the screen starts wavering gently. Then he realizes he's on fire and the distortion is from the heat.
* Spoofed in the Canadian animated series, ''Sidekicks''. Whenever there is a flashback or even a cut to dreams we are treated to Eric and Trevor overtaking the screen, wiggling there arms saying, "OooOooh, OooOooh!" while the background wavers out.
* Parodied in the ''WesternAnimation/PhineasAndFerb'' episode "Doof Dynasty".
-->'''Phineas''': But why, master Perry?
-->'''Wavery flute music and ripple effect as Perry looks off in the distance.'''
-->'''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--I don't know the protocol for flashbacks.
** But Buford just does it because it's relaxing.
* ''ThomasTheTankEngineAndFriends'' uses misty borders for flashbacks, and often ripple dissolves to transition to them.
* MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic
** "The Secret of My Excess": when Rarity tells off the greedy beast dragon who's ponynapped her, he gets a look at her fire ruby. The Eye Recall happens and he is reminded how she got it -- and that he, Spike, gave it to her and was rewarded with a kiss for being so generous. The recollection is enough to jar him from his greed and revert him to normal.
* ''WesternAnimation/LittlestPetShop'':
** "Bad Hair Day:" The trope is played with. The first time we see Blythe eye recall, it's actually more of an ImagineSpot that she ''believes'' is a memory than a genuine Flashback, which she then uses assures Mrs. Twombley that she's an ace stylist. The second time, she remembers the memory unembellished, and realizes she's not the awesome stylist/groomer she believes herself.