Go Back to the Source

Go back! To the first room! He'll show you... the Source!
6, 9

A situation in which a character (usually the MacGuffin of the plotline) must return to the place where they or an important plot device originated from. This can involve taking the character back to where they came from, or going to the literal source of something, such as the place where an object of power was created..

Related to Now Do It Again Backwards (Wanna destroy something? Then go back to where it was created), Book Ends, and It Was with You All Along. Also could be a supertrope to Where It All Began.



Film — Animated
  • The film 9, the Trope Namer, involves 9 needing to go back to the room where he and the other stitchpunks were created in order to stop the Fabrication Machine. The talisman that allowed them to be created is most commonly termed "the Source" by the fanbase, as it did transfer the stitchpunks' souls into their bodies. Though in the movie, 6 was implied to actually be referring to the scientist who used the Source to create them...
  • Ice Age: Manny, Sid, and Diego must take the baby Rosham back to his village.
  • Moses in The Prince of Egypt must return to Egypt in order to free his people.
  • Simba from The Lion King returns to his home of Pride Rock in order to dethrone Scar and claim his place as king.

Film — Live Action
  • Lord of the Rings — see the Literature section for details.
  • The Matrix: "Returning to The Source" were Arc Words about returning to the heart of the Matrix's mainframe, where everything originated and hitting a Reset Button (or something like that).
  • Luke Skywalker has to return to Tatooine in Return of the Jedi to save Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt.
  • In Transformers, the All Spark is the artifact which gave the Transformers life, in fact rather similar to the Source talisman in 9.

  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories: Haroun and his friends on the moon of Kahani must go to the place in the Sea of Stories where all the stories originate, in order to stop Khattam-Shud from plugging it and corrupting all the stories with his "anti-stories". This part of the Sea of Stories, the Wellspring, is also appropriately called "the Source".
  • At the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry invokes this trope outright:
    "I thought I might go back to Godric’s Hollow… For me, it started there, all of it. I’ve just got a feeling I need to go there."
    • In the next book, Hermione proposes an actual reason for going there. All is ultimately subverted when nothing beneficial happens there. They don't find any of the unknown horcruxes, they don't find any information on the Deathly Hallows, Harry is nearly killed by Voldemort's snake, his wand is broken when he's rescued, and he later laments that he didn't even get a chance to kill the snake while he was at it (the snake being a horcrux).
  • Lord of the Rings: Frodo must take the One Ring to its place of creation, Mount Doom in the land of Mordor, in order to destroy it and rid the world of its evil power.
  • The Aeneid: Aeneas and his crew set sail to Italy, which the gods inform them is where the Trojan race originated.

Live-Action TV
  • In the series finale of Lost, Desmond - and later, Jack - return to the cave that was first seen in the earliest part of the series timeline. Inside is the source of life, death and rebirth; fans quickly dubbed it "the Source." This is probably directly inspired by Haroun and the Sea of Stories (above), Desmond was reading while sitting next to Jack on the plane in the season premiere. The site also happens to be right next to the bamboo grove where the series's first scene took place.
  • Two for one in Star Trek The Next Generation S 4 E 5 Remember Me: to retrieve the missing Dr Crusher the Enterprise has to return to the point in space where she disappeared, while Dr Crusher in her alternate reality has to return to Engineering, where her trouble began.


Video Games
  • Earthbound: Ness and the others must fight Giygas at its weakest point in time, which is when it was first created.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Link has to return the Master Sword to its pedestal in order to gain access to the Temple of Time.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the first temple you must visit is the one in the Kokiri Forest, where you start the game.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, whenever you play the Song of Time, you find yourself back at the same place in the center of Clock Town, where your adventure starts. When you get all four of the boss' remains, you must return to that same place (albeit at the top of the tower instead of the base) and summon the giants to stop the moon from falling.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy I: The Four Fiends were sealed in the Temple of Chaos. From there, they summoned Garland, transformed him into Chaos, and had him send them into the future to overrun the world. The Light Warriors must then travel back in time to the Temple to prevent this Time Loop.
    • Final Fantasy IV: The final dungeon is the Lunar Core, where the Lunarians sleep, and from which KluYa, Cecil and Golbez' father, comes from.
    • Final Fantasy IX: The party's last voyage is into Memoria, an illusory world created by the memory of the planets Gaia and Terra...and then into the Crystal World, where the wellspring of life itself resides.
  • In Halo 3, the humans and Elites must travel to the Ark, where the titular Halos were constructed, to find the "solution" to the Flood. Turns out, the solution is a brand new MacGuffin it just coughed up.
  • Myst has you, after going to all the worlds and finding all the pages, go back to the location you started at, specifically, the dock marker switch so you can retrieve the final page and complete the game.
    • Its sequel Riven has a telescope as the first thing you see when entering the world. After finding the code to open the hatch, you end the game (albeit with many possible endings) by lowering said telescope to crack the glass under said hatch and reopen the star fissure to signal Atrus.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, the final sector, Horologium, is essentially primeval Earth, and the home of the great mother of all life on the planet.
  • The end of Ōkami had Amaterasu confront the ultimate darkness at the Ark of Yamato, the vessel from which all monsters arrived from the Celestial Realm.
  • In Planescape: Torment, the portal that leads to the Big Bad's fortress is revealed to be hidden in the room where The Nameless One woke up in at the beginning of the game.
  • Almost the exact same phrasing is used in Guild Wars 2, when Trahearne is only able to purify Orr of Zhaitan's corruption by journeying to the heart of its waterways, which is also where the Six Gods first stepped into Tyria. Zhaitan itself is defeated in Arah, the seat of the first human kingdom.

Web Original
  • In The Gamers Alliance, Khasra III enters the cursed celestial city of Xar Daeon to purify it from the taint of darkness, which helps him weaken demons' regenerative powers because the city's powers were directly linked to demons. The heroes of the Grand Alliance are given the task of locating the source of the Blood Fever in order to purify the source and thus put an end to the spread of the deadly fever.
  • That Guy with the Glasses: In Suburban Knights, Malachite's Hand is hidden in the same place the quest started from.
  • In Homestuck, John goes back in time to various events in Terezi's life in order to fix the timeline.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Several animals, such the Alaskan Salmon, travel back to their place of birth to spawn.
  • Scientists try to create particles that existed during the Big Bang, which is believed to be the event of the origin of the Universe.
  • There's a Latin phrase called "ad fontes" that translates to "go back to the source". In the humanities, it is the studying of different writings from different eras and comparing them to not only note any differences but also see how much civilization (philsophy, socially, civilly, it's a broad spectrum) has advanced.
  • If you live in a developed country, then it's likely that you were born in a hospital, and are going to die there.