Flashback Within a Flashback

Also known as "Inception Flashback", a flashback within a flashback occurs when a character recounts an event in which he/she also flashbacks into an even earlier event within the flashback. Yep, it's confusing.

These types of flashbacks are used primarily in popular anime/manga to build suspense or burn episode time. Bleach, in particular, uses this trope almost religiously.

Can be used in Whole Episode Flashbacks, as a character may recount an earlier episode in which he had an Epiphany Comeback or Heel Realization, usually leading to a scene of Fridge Horror. Can also be used to clarify certain instances of Offscreen Inertia scenes that were skipped in previous episodes.


Anime and Manga
  • Chapter 48 of Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is a Whole Episode Flashback, taking place before the beginning of the series. During that chapter, Sakura recalls her first meeting with Nozaki about a year before that.
  • Invoked in Naruto, which had flashbacks happen every so often between characters. Occasionally, the characters will overlap flashbacks, causing this to occur.

Comic Books
  • Issue three of Bad Guys revisits the team's training period. During then, Hunter has several flashbacks to her own past. The artist uses a different style for Hunter's flashbacks to indicate which flashback is which.

  • Julia, which is based on a memoir by Lillian Hellman, thus making it a Whole Episode Flashback, has used flashbacks to illustrate the long friendship between Lillian and Julia.
  • In Last Orders, Ray frequently remembers a conversation with Amy while they sat on a bench. During this flashback, the two would have flashbacks of their own during their conversation.
  • In the remake of The Anthropophagus Beast, Nikos, in his journal recalled being lost at sea with his wife, and his dead daughter.


  • "Octopussy", the Ian Fleming James Bond short story, opens with the central character reflecting on events earlier that day, when Bond came to his Jamaica home to arrest him for murder, where he recalls the circumstances in the last days of WWII where he did the deed.
  • Most of Black Legion is Khayon telling the tale of the eponymous warband to his captors, so when he dwells on what happened earlier, this is the result.
  • In Malodrax, Lysander's flashbacks about his first time on the eponymous planet are interwined with accounts of Inquisitor Corvin, who's been there even earlier.
  • In Halo: New Blood, Buck spends most of the story telling stories of past events. He occasionally goes off on tangents; in one case, he recalls meeting Spartan-I Vs led by Sarah Palmer at the end of one chapter, while the next chapter begins with another flashback to a previous mission where he met Palmer when she was still an ODST.

Live Action TV
  • In the House Of Fools episode "The Wig Affair", Beef mentions how a "rat beaver thing" that stole Bob's wig has lived in the house since their fathers lived there. The show then flashbacks to the seventies, where the "rat beaver thing" steals Bob's father's caramel wafer. Then it flashbacks again to the fifties, with almost identical dialogue, and the rodent steals Vic's grandfather's brisket.
  • In the Person of Interest episode "Many Happy Returns", a flashback scene of John watching videos of Jessica and Peter flashes back to Peter's encounter with Jessica at the airport in 2006. Because John did not ask her to wait for him, she ends up marrying Peter instead.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Flashback", Tuvok's first flashback to the Excelsior occurs in the middle of the battle with the Klingons and Valtane's death. It then flashes back further to show how the whole mess started.
  • The Following used flashbacks constantly during the first season. In an episode from that season, "The Fall", Debra's past is revealed in this manner.

Newspaper Comics
  • A variant occurs in a Comic Strip/Crankshaft arc: A flash-forward shows Crankshaft as catatonic, confined to a wheelchair, and living in a nursing home. His nurse takes him to see a ballgame, though it was rained out. A flashback occurs within the flash-forward and showed a much younger Crankshaft watching a ballgame, suggesting that he retreated to memories of happy times and was unaware of what is going on now. Later on, the creator would reveal future!Crankshaft to be someone else entirely, leaving readers wondering whether there was misdirection or a retcon.

Professional Wrestling
  • After Cody Rhodes played The Big Show's embarrassing WrestleMania moments on the Titantron for weeks, Big Show defeats Rhodes at WrestleMania XXVIII. On a subsequent RAW, Big Show, comes out to play a highlight of that match. The next week, he shows a clip of himself showing that clip from last week.

Video Games

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • In the Dan Vs. episode "Dan Vs. Summer Camp", Chris and Dan recall their time spent in Camp Atrocious, run by the corrupt Mr. Tedesco. During that Whole Episode Flashback, another occurs as Mr. Tedesco explains the camp traditions.
  • During the main flashback of Transformers Prime's episode "Out of the Past", a flashback to the one from "Predatory" plays, in which Airachnid kills Tailgate.