"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."Often a show will have a situation that is a repetition of something that happened previously within the show's history. Almost always used as either a Running Gag or tragically. There are some films where they deal with the world repeating over and over, e.g. Groundhog Day, the similar film 12:01, and the Eternal Recurrence phenomenon. But this trope happens when history repeats itself without a "Groundhog Day" Loop. A common example will be for a show about kids to have the children experience something, and then have the adults in the show respond by reminiscing about when the exact same thing happened to them at that age. Sometimes there is a flashback. If the adults are the main characters and the same thing occurs, this becomes Generation Xerox. Or it can happen in an adult show where the characters have had flashbacks to show some of the older characters' backstories, and then you have an episode that focuses on the younger characters who experienced the same thing. Can also be used just with a character repeating the exact same experience as another character did previously (sometimes in an earlier episode). The new victim might have boasted about how much better he would have handled it, expect an Aesop on how we should be less critical of "The Man in The Arena". Or he might just handle it perfectly, making the first victim hate him even more. When it applies only to a Stock Phrase it's probably an Ironic Echo. See also Here We Go Again!. Should not be confused with His Story Repeats Itself, which is when a character's arc repeats itself in a similar manner to this trope.
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- This Super Bowl Special ad for BMW begins with a vintage clip from Today about Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric getting confused about the Internet (this being 1994). Fast forward to the present day, and Bryant and Katie are experiencing literally the exact same thing, except with BMW's i3 wind-powered car. The tagline: "Big ideas take a little getting used to."
Anime and Manga
- Naruto has this due to the Cycle of Revenge, primarily between the Uchiha and Senju/Uzumaki clans.
- Love Hina has parallel scenes at the beginning of the series and the beginning of the epilogue.
- In the past, Chrono of Chrono Crusade (the manga version) was in love with a woman called Mary Magdalene, who was possessed by Pandaemonium, the demon's Hive Queen. This kicked off the events which led to her death. When Rosette is placed in a frighteningly similar situation, Aion feels the need to point out that history is repeating itself.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! is shaping up to be this, with Negi and his Generation Xerox crew facing more or less the same scenario and villains that the last generation did.
- The Gundam series, according to ∀ Gundam, is all one timeline with this going on. Mankind keeps making space colonies, having a civil war with them, getting a bit too violent and inventing gundams that are too powerful, and destroying said colonies, forgetting about it, then sending out new colonies, only to have a civil war with them. Then gundams get too powerful... and each time, they progress a little further, with the destruction and casting back of mankind going further each time. By the time of ∀ Gundam, they're at an early-1900s level of technology. And history repeats again anyway, using Lost Technology.
- This is also specifically the point of the ideological debate in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing's movie, Endless Waltz. The villainess argues that war is an inevitable part of human nature (the titular "endless waltz" of war, peace, and revolution), while the female lead says that lasting peace can happen if people are willing to put forth the effort to end the Vicious Cycle. Needless to say, at least in the ∀ Gundam version of events, she does't succeed in spreading that idea.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn applies this to the Universal Century in general. Despite all the lofty aspirations made by humanity, from uniting Earth under the Federation to the space colonies and even the Newtype ideal, the same mistakes they've supposedly overcome keep getting repeated...albeit on a much larger scale as shown by the One Year War and subsequent conflicts. Audrey wonders at one point whether an answer to that age-old question even exists.
- Gundam Reconguista In G meanwhile, taking place in the same timeline as the Universal Century albeit long after the calendar itself was abolished, has the Capital and SU-Cordists and their Spacenoid masters attempting to keep the UC's events from happening again. While this has in the process led to mankind becoming reminiscent of the pre-Earth Federation days, it'll all be for nought given that the anime also takes place in the same continuity as ∀ Gundam.
- In Code Geass, Lelouch lost his mother to an assassin, which shattered his cozy, comfortable worldview and inspired him to change the world with Well Intentioned Extremism in order to give his beloved sister a better life. His father the Emperor, who is the biggest obstacle on his quest, went through pretty much the exact same thing in his lifetime and is himself trying to change the world — along with his wife, who's Not Quite Dead. You can imagine Lelouch's shock when he learns all this...
- Maison Ikkoku has an example where Kyoko romantically pursued her teacher, and when Godai gets a teaching job at her old school not only is he also romantically pursed by a student, but the several of the methods used are very similar. (Tagging the teacher with a heart on the back when he's not looking).
- How about situations where something happens on a Show Within a Show and then something like it happens in the main show? Like in Martian Successor Nadesico, when Joe makes a Heroic Sacrifice in Gekiganger 3 and in the same episode Jun attempts to make a Heroic Sacrifice but survives- then Gai Daigouji gets killed suddenly and pointlessly at the end of the episode.
- In Ikki Tousen, the fighters (who are reincarnations of the various generals of Romance of the Three Kingdoms) are destined to fight and die in the same battles, in similar ways.
- In Magic Knight Rayearth, High Priest Zagato fell in love with Emeraude, the Pillar of Cephiro. Zagato's younger (and identical) brother Lantis would also fall in love with the girl who would become the Pillar, Hikaru. The irony is not lost on either.
- The Moon and Earth Kingdoms from Sailor Moon where originally destroyed by Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion's forbidden love. When they are resurrected (as Usagi and Mamoru respectively), they fall in love again and history is doomed to repeat unless they take actions about it. This is taken further in the live action adaptation.
- Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’: Upon being revived, Frieza decides to train himself so he can exact his revenge on Goku, making a beeline for Earth after achieving his new Golden Super Mode. However, just like on Namek, he ends up running out of stamina before Goku since, just like before, he didn't master his new form and learn how to regulate his energy output. Goku shows him mercy and, just like before, Frieza throws it back in his face (this time more successfully, with the help of an underling). When Vegeta steps in to fight Frieza, Frieza destroys the Earth, just like before on Namek, but thanks to Whis's ability to reverse time, Goku kills him before he can destroy the Earth and sends Frieza right back to hell.
- A recurring motif in Legend of Galactic Heroes is how despite thousands of years of supposed progress, the past keeps returning. Indeed, one of the taglines is "In every time, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same."
- Attack on Titan: Discussed by Eren and Armin when Eren sees children who remind him of himself, Armin, and Mikasa, and notes that the kids will probably see what they saw when the Colossal Titan broke the wall. It's then averted, as Armin says that this time there are soldiers on the wall who are ready to fight, and that those soldiers are them, and they succeed in stopping the Titan and saving the people inside the wall.
- The Season 2 finale has Hannes getting eaten by the very same titan that ate Eren's mother years before, in the same manner, while again Eren and Mikasa are Forced to Watch. Eren can only laugh in despair at the cruel irony.
- Your Name: When Sayaka says that a meteorite splitting off from comet Tiamat and striking Itomori is just a what-if, Tessie points out that Lake Itomori is not only also a meteor crater, but was formed 1,200 years ago - the orbital period of comet Tiamat...
- Geo-Force tries this gambit against Deathstroke in Final Crisis: Last Will and Testament by luring him to the location where Deathstroke's son had his throat slit. Deathstroke claims that Brion isn't the first one to try this, but Brion is the first to slit his own throat for full effect.
- Marvel Knights Spider-Man had this with the Green Goblin bringing Mary Jane to the same bridge where Gwen Stacey died.
- In 2099: Manifest Destiny, we find out Captain America's fate: he once again ended up in a block of ice at the end of the Heroic Age as he'd done at the end of World War II and is revived in the 2099 time period. Amusingly, during the "One Nation Under Doom" event, a clone of Steve Rogers created to be a puppet had this as a cover story.
- In The Trial of the Flash, Reverse-Flash invokes this by planning to kill Fiona in the same way he killed Iris.
- Wally West got his powers from a repeat of the Flash's Freak Lab Accident. Wally's uncle Barry arranged the chemicals that empowered him in the shelf as a demonstration for Wally, but there also happens to be a lightning storm outside, so...
- In Mega Man Reawakened, both Protoman and Roll run away because they don't want Dr. Light to fix them at first, though Roll later relents.
- Robert points this out to Quentin Emerald, who's a terrorist like his father.
- In Our Blades Are Sharp, a knight wearing black armor wrought with rubies wins a tournament and crowns a Stark girl as his Queen of Love and Beauty. Ned knows the guy is actually Domeric Bolton — his daughter Sansa's betrothed — but the resemblance is not lost on him, nor Robert. In fact, Robert mistook Domeric for Rhaegar and nearly charges the tournament field in a rage before Ned points out that it's really Domeric.
- A very subtle instance occurs in A Man of Iron, when Oberyn Martell gives his eldest daughter as a bride to Antony Stark's ward Jon. Unbeknownst to him, he arranged a wedding between a daughter of House Martell to a Targaryen prince, recreating Prince Rhaegar and Elia Martell's union.
- In Fate Ingens Cor, Artoria has a moment of utter horror when she thinks Lancelot has been reduced to The Berserker when she lays eyes upon him. Thankfully, he has not been summoned as a mindless killing machine this time.
- In Fate Parallel Fantasia, Caster's original Master attempts to betray her for the younger and prettier False Caster, just like how Jason of the Argonauts betrayed her original self, Medea, for a younger and prettier princess. She gets so pissed off at this happening again that she kills him and then tries to kill False Caster until she escapes.
- The mage of the storm starts to arrange a second Dance of Dragons with a laid-back and easygoing monarch (Robert Baratheon/Viserys I) naming his eldest daughter by his first wife (Selene Baratheon/Rhaenyra Targaryen) over the son he had from his second marriage (Joffrey Baratheon/Aegon II).
Film - Animated
- In Cars 3, Lightning McQueen ends up experiencing the same problems that had happened with his late crew chief and mentor, Doc Hudson. He is outmatched by a rookie and suffers a horrible crash that puts the future of his career in doubt, and he worries that he might have to retire like Doc did. Unlike Doc however, he doesn’t, but still becomes a mentor to a rookie, Cruz Ramirez, who just started her racing career, and like what happened with Strip “The King” Weathers, a former legend from his rookie season, she helps him finish the race.
Film - Live Action
- Back to the Future, anyone? Just one example — the skateboard chase in 1955 in Part I, the Hover Board chase in 2015 in Part II, and the horseback chase in 1885 in Part III. All involving Marty McFly being chased by a Tannen.
- Notably, though, they all work out entirely differently. The first time, Marty easily beats them because he's the only one with a skateboard. The second time, they've all got hoverboards, in fact, they've got better hoverboards, and he narrowly escapes them. The third time, they're all on horseback, and he's on foot, and they catch him easily.
- Lampshaded by old Biff in 2015: "There's something very familiar about all this."
- This is actually one particularly bleak interpretation of the events seen in John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). The theory here is that the alien spaceship that brought the Thing was deliberately crashed in Antarctica in order to keep it from getting out. Fast forward 100,000 years later and a group of Norwegians find it, examine it, and then it gets out and kills all but two who end up dying in the process of trying to keep it from getting further. Then the remainder of an American expedition destroyed by the Thing destroys their camp in an effort to keep the Thing from being found by a rescue team — whether they succeed is left for the viewer to decide, but an alternate ending shown in some TV broadcasts implied that it escaped.
- This happens a lot over the Star Wars saga.
- Revenge of the Sith features the rise of the Galactic Empire and the near-total genocide of the Jedi with Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader's assistance. In the thirty years between their defeat and The Force Awakens, Luke Skywalker's efforts to rebuild the Jedi Order are undone by Kylo Ren's massacre, who allies himself with the fledgling First Order. Even worse, Kylo Ren is Anakin's grandson.
- The Empire blew up the planet of Alderaan with the Death Star in A New Hope. Years later, the First Order uses a similar superweapon to destroy the entire Hosnian system.
- In A Brother's Price this is used as a source for drama. There was a civil war between two branches of the royal family not so long ago, and the royal family is genre-savvy enough not to risk a repetition by splitting the family again. This means that all the princesses have to marry one husband. However, there is the additional problem that their now deceased ex-husband was evil, and they married him against the warning of Princess Trini. They do not want that one to repeat itself either, but Trini, who was hurt most, is understandably reluctant to marry anyone.
- German philosopher Oswald Spengler claimed in his non-fiction book The Decline of the West that this happens in every major culture: A culture emerges among the barbarian peoples, and fuses them together into nations. The great myths, art styles and religions develop. At the beginning, strong kings rule, but their power soon is weakened by their noble vassals. A great movement reforms the religion. Meanwhile, in the cities a somewhat-privileged middle class has risen, replacing the feudal economy slowly but steadily by capitalism. By cooperating with them, the crown can weaken the nobility and the church, forming an absolutist state. Science and capitalism develop further, and an enlightened philosophy spreads, weakening the hold of religion. Then, the middle class will decide to get rid of the old system, usually in the form of a revolution-which starts civilization. This marks the fall of the culture-wars will get worse and worse (The Napoleonic Wars -> American Civil War -> World War I -> World War II), art will become more and more offensive, and capitalism runs rampant (not without provoking counter movements). At the end, one state will conquer/control all other states, and one man will rise to the top of this state-voila, The Empire.
- Rudyard Kipling in 'The Gods of the Copybook Headings' pointed out how political ploys of the time are less than fresh by mockingly attributing them to prehistoric times-"When the Cambrian measures were forming..."
- Pretty much the entire moral of Anthony Burgess' The Wanting Seed.
- In A Canticle for Leibowitz, the readers know the world had had a great nuclear war sometime in the past (our present). Then there's The Simplification, which is another world-wide war, and a third war (nuclear again) in the third part. The book ends with what's left of humanity moving on to a new planet, probably to keep the cycle of stupidity going.
- Cherished by The Malloreon. Due to a mistake in the fabric of the universe, events recur with minor changes throughout history. By the end of the series, the heroes are actively noticing the recursion and using it to their advantage. The ultimate goal of the series is to fix this, so that time can finally move ahead.
- In The Wave, a High School history teacher is trying to show his class just how easily the Nazis came to power, only to be met with disbelief by students who think that "it can't happen here." So he shows them otherwise by starting a fascist movement in the class.
- Played with in ''Tomorrow Town"; the story is set in a camp of futurists who are deeply contemptuous of the past and those who they see as trapped within it, but find themselves repeating certain historical patterns about how society develops and people interact within them without even realizing it. Furthermore, their efforts to predict the future are inept at best and doomed to failure. Just as the past will repeat itself, the future can't be forced no matter how hard you try.
- In Debt of Honor, quite a few parts of the military side of the plan mirror similar events from back in World War II, all the way up to starting the violence by using the same code phrase that started the attack on Pearl Harbor. This does not go unnoticed.
- In The Murder Of The Links, the crime that Poirot and Hastings encounter is very similar to the Beroldy Scandal which took place 20 years before.
Live Action TV
- Game of Thrones:
- Jon Snow points out that multiple times in the past Wildlings have raised an army under a chosen King Beyond The Wall, in attempt to make their way south past the wall. They always crumbled when face with a proper army though, due to their lack of organized cooperation and military discipline. Jon's insistence that they will meet the same fate despite their passion and numbers is flippantly dismissed. Completing the cycle, Stannis utterly crushes the Wildling Army with a surprise cavalry attack.
- Ned promising to take care of the dying Robert's children. He did the same for his sister Lyanna.
- Subverted in how Littlefinger tries to play Sansa and Arya against each other just as he manipulated their mother, Catelyn and her own sister Lysa. Littlefinger fails to understand Sansa and Arya's dynamic is much different than their mother and aunt and pays for it with his life.
- Aerys Targaryen's first Hand of the King was Tywin Lannister. Before departing for Westeros, Aerys' daughter chooses Tywin's son as her Hand, in what constitutes his second stint at the post. Coincidentally, both Tyrion and Dany are the youngest children of their families and were bullied by Smug Snake older siblings who were spiteful that they lost their mothers due to their births.
- In Third Watch, Ty's father is murdered years before the series starts. His partner Sully finds out the truth behind the murder (that the murderer was paid by a corrupt cop, CT Finney) but says nothing in order to protect Ty's family's police pension. Fast forward to 2004, where CT Finney is exposed and commits suicide. Ty ends up helping Finney's son to make it look like an accident-so that Mrs. Finney can still get her police pension.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003): "All of this has happened before. And all of it will happen again." The series ends uncertain whether or not humanity is destined to fight yet another Robot War.
- The Criminal Minds episode "Birthright" ends with the villain being killed by his pregnant wife, just like his father (also a serial killer) was.
- In Babylon 5, the various incarnations of the Shadow/Vorlon War up until the point where Sheridan punches History in the face and throws it out of the galaxy.
- In the series finale of The Wire, several characters end up in situations that harken back to the beginning of the show (in tandem with call backs). The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue insinuates that Baltimore is a cyclical place, and that characters will always end up in certain roles.
- Leander Sydnor goes to Judge Phelan and asks his help investigating a major case, like Jimmy McNulty did, in a conversation with the exact same character, five seasons prior).
- Bodie's fate is quite reminiscent of Wallace's. He also becomes disillusioned by The Game's casual violence and decides to talk to the cops, only to be killed before he can cooperate.
- Namond takes elements from two figures. First, he comes from a family noted for their connection with the drug trade and it's assumed that he will take up that mantle as well despite having no heart for the game. Sounds like D'Angelo, but he gets a rare happy ending because Wee-Bey realizes the drug trade isn't right for him and allows Namond to be adopted by Colvin instead. On the other hand, he uses the exact same line as Clay Davis "I'll take any motherfucker's money if he's giving it away!" and shows an interest in politics and debate after being adopted by Colvin.
- Randy loses his mother figure early in life, his talents go mostly overlooked and unappreciated, is repeatedly screwed over by the system, and winds up adopting a thug attitude. Sounds like Bodie, although we don't see if he ends up the same way.
- In Homicide, Kima Greggs becomes the new McNulty
- On a more positive note, the formerly irresponsible Ellis Carver is implied to be on his way to becoming the new Cedric Daniels.
- Michael Lee becomes the new Omar Little. In fact, the last thing we see him do is shoot someone in the knee during a robbery, just like we saw Omar do during Omar's first robbery in Season 1.
- Dukie Weems becomes the new Bubbles.
- Kenard shows the text-book signs of being a sociopath. Has dreams of becoming a great street legend like Omar. Sounds like Marlo Stanfield, who himself, is a sociopath that had dreams of becoming a street legend and saw his chance to act on it, after the Barksdale crew was brought down. Kenard saw his chance by killing Omar Little, knowing the Stanfield crew was looking for him. It's suggested Crutchfield arrests him for Omar's murder, but it's not known if he'll get charged as an adult and convicted. Given that he's very young, there's a chance he might just get sent to a behavior correctional center, which in a way is a Karma Houdini example, just like Marlo.
- Valchek becomes the new Burrell/Frazier after being promoted to Commissioner.
- Lost starting in the season 5 finale. It's implied that people have been coming to the island only to be wiped out over and over again as part of Jacob and the Man in Black's grand morality test. Taken to an extreme in "Across the Sea" where it's revealed that Jacob isn't even the original protector of the island and that there had probably been many previous protectors before he was born.
- Obligatory Buffy example: a rather dark example comes from Consequences, where Faith had accidentally killed a human, tries to dispose of the body, then becomes a rapist (damn near enough in Xander's case, then using Buffy's body to seduce Riley.) In Dead Things Buffy has essentially raped Spike, then she thinks she killed a human and Spike tries to dispose of the evidence. The way she's acting bothers her so much she looks into whether she Came Back Wrong, then she finds out she didn't.
- Doctor Who
- Series 8 was essentially a variation on this: an elderly Doctor in his fifties, his two first companions being teachers from Coal Hill School (kinda), and a new regeneration cycle were all elements from the very beginning.
- In-universe, humanity can't seem to resist the lure of slave labor, no matter how much it corrupts and backfires.
- The Daleks likewise are trapped in an eternal cycle of evolving to improve their situation and then turning on themselves for failing to remain pure.
- Meta-example with the Time War and destruction of Gallifrey: Elements of this story had been bouncing around since the early 1980s, usually with the intention of curing the series of a lot of its Continuity Lockout. However, none of the attempts to actually depict it ever got off the ground. The 4D War intended by Alan Moore in the Doctor Who Magazine strips never made it fully to print, as he left early. "Gallifrey" was a proposed sixth Doctor story to be written by Pip and Jane Baker rumoured to destroy the titular planet and shake up the status quo, but it was part of a cancelled season. "Doctor Who: The Last of the Time Lords" was the title for one draft of what eventually became the TV Movie. The Eighth Doctor Adventures range of BBC Books came closest with a story arc about "The War", a time-active conflict in the future, which was eventually prevented from happening by Gallifrey's premature destruction. In fact, from 1981's 4-D War to 2013's The Day of the Doctor, no Time War was ever actually depicted, and given the setting of the aforementioned anniversary special, that arguably still remains the case.
- Another meta-example is the various incarnations of the Doctor in Classic and New Who. The most popular Doctor in their respective eras (Four and Ten) get replaced by the youngest actor to play the role at the time (Five and Eleven) and their replacement is a Doctor designed to hark back to the earlier, darker side of the Doctor; played by an actor who appeared on the show before being cast as the eponymous character (Six and Twelve).
- Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
- "The Clean Room" devotes a lot of time to Clair Patterson's struggle to have Congress act on the dangers of leaded gasoline, while the oil companies try to cut his funding and discredit him with their scientist-for-hire Robert Kehoe. The subtext to the modern day is very clear.
- A heartening example in "The Electric Boy." Young Michael Faraday got the attention of Humphry Davy by sending a book of notes he'd made on Davy's scientific demonstrations to the Royal Institute. Decades later, Faraday remembers standing in Davy's office, which now belongs to him, as he's about to open a dissertation by his own young fan: James Clerk Maxwell, who's developed mathematical evidence for Faraday's ideas.
- Both Tom Bergeron and Alfonso Ribero had previously cut their teeth on revival of Merrill Heatter's game shows (The Hollywood Squares and Gambit, respectively) before being picked as hosts of America's Funniest Home Videos.
- Those well versed in wrestling history note that the problems that plague TNA today are what killed WCW. Nonsensical storylines, younger, homegrown talent being pushed down the card for older, more recognizable names, a money mark for a boss — those problems were always there, but the fan base didn't take any note of them because the talent was having great matches and doing great segments. The shortcomings weren't as strongly pronounced. Then, due to a Love Triangle of all things, Jeff Jarrett lost control of the company to Dixie Carter who, evidently having not read The Death of WCW, brought in two of the guys on the cover: Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Practically overnight, TNA went from "a growing promotion with some similarities to WCW", to "WCW-lite". The Death of WCW discussed this throughout its tenth anniversary edition, including an epilogue which lists the utterly boneheaded decisions the company has made since the original publication.
- Scarily, the more Vince McMahon continues to be at the helm of the WWE, the more its ongoing problems are starting to mirror the problems that killed its chief rival. An over-reliance on past stars, a heel faction at the top that many feel has long exhausted its welcome, neglecting everything else in favor of the main event, either involving the world title or past stars (or both), and what seems to be an outright refusal to make a new star. The one new star he's trying to make isn't allowed to play to his strengths and get over that way, with Vince doing everything in his power to mold him into HIS star, to an almost stubborn degree. It's begun to alienate fans, with the WWE having lost a million viewers over the span of one year. The parallels are becoming obvious to everyone, especially to those who read the aforementioned book (which might as well be nearly every hardcore fan in the last decade), that fans are either demanding his retirement or wishing he'd keel over and die already before the damage gets any worse.
- The career of Roman Reigns parallels The Rock's career in the sense that they're both trying to get over as white meat babyfaces only to be completely rejected by fans. The fact that they're cousins is just icing on the cake. In fact, the parallels are so eerily strong that many are beginning to wonder if fate is trying to tell Vince something.
- Beast Wars: Uprising:
- The story begins with a Cybertronian becoming dissatisfied with the status-quo, forming a rebellion that breaks out into full-blown war, three centuries after the end of the last one. Several characters make note that it's another war, with the supercomputer The Oracle quoting the Battlestar Galactica example.
- In the backstory, the inhabitants of the planet Rebirth fled Cybertron to get away from the war. Over time, a trio calling themselves the Optimus took control, and became utterly fascistic, stamping down on any dissent, leading to the rise of a violent rebellion identified as the Malignus. Then, during the 21st century the Decepticons showed up, and the planet got involved in the war again. The end result was the entire population of Master were forced off their world by humans, and made to live on Cybertron, under the thumb of a different autocratic, oppressive regime.
- The Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Symphonia time line has this going on. Periodically, mankind invents magitechnology, culminating in a Mana Cannon, the use of which kills large numbers of people and depletes so much mana as to threaten the life of the Mana Tree. Things progress too far, the Mana Cannon causes too much destruction, and civilization is cast back into the Dark Ages for a while. Then somebody starts exploring ruins, and finding out about this thing called "magitechnology"...
- Dwarf Fortress being its darkly humorous self, its Video Game Cruelty Potential is very, very high and usually combined with exploits. So here's probably the best fan theory on the origin of the... stuff usually mentioned in spoilers or by Fan Nickname. If you start by raising children in cages with animals driven crazy just to make them tougher, then proceed to make Super Soldier squads by non-lethal fat scorching... where exactly do you think this line eventually ends up?
- The Ninja Warriors Again: The game's ending explicitly says that because history repeats, the new government you were fighting for will eventually become as bad as the one you overthrew.
- Massively in Gunstar Superheroes, which is a sequel which covers the events of the original game happening again in the distant future.
- Seen in Warcraft III and World of Warcraft with Grom and Garrosh Hellscream. Grom was the first orc to drink Mannoroth's blood, cursing nearly his entire race with an endless bloodlust and enslaving them to the Burning Legion, all for the sake of more strength. Faced with defeat at the hands of Cenarius, Grom drank from a fountain that he believed would grant him strength, only to learn it was in fact filled with Mannoroth's blood, completely enslaving him and his clan to the demon. Years later Garrosh tried to use the Sha and then the heart of Y'shaarj to empower himself and his True Horde.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Lorule started to gradually crumble away after they destroyed their Triforce. Ravio kicks Hilda into a Heel Realization after telling her that taking Hyrule's Triforce away from them would simply cause them to go through the same decay that is now affecting Lorule.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, both Mipha and her father were both well aware of the story of the Zora princess who fell in love with a Hylian swordsman (Ruto from Ocarina of Time), citing it as a reason they believed Mipha's love for Link made sense. It ended up being more appropriate to the current situation than they would have liked, as Ruto Did Not Get The Guy either.
- Somehow, SEGA has this happen to it repeatedly as far as public reception and sales numbers go. At least three points in its history, SEGA found itself in a position of dominance. Then, as time goes by, the people at SEGA grow complacent and their quality slips, but it still gets good sales due to brand recognition. People realizing the company's products are becoming shoddy and broken eventually catch up to the company, ruining its reputation, and SEGA is forced to go through major corporate restructuring, only to return back to dominance some time later. The two cycles most familiar to gamers are the period between the 16-bit era and the Dreamcast, where SEGA had to become a 3rd-party developer; and the period between it becoming 3rd-party and the present. There was also a cycle long before this, between 1971 and 1978, when SEGA suffered this via its pinball division: Because the quality was on par with American and European machines at the time and cost less to buy and to play because they were made domestically, SEGA was the force in Japanese pinball. As time went on though, the machines broke down and no one knew how to repair them with SEGA providing no real support. By 1976, SEGA's pinball sales plummeted and it had to leave the market two years later with thousands of broken, unplayable pinball machines in its wake.
- In Thunder Force V's bad ending, the Guardian begs Cenes to self-destruct her ship, the Vambrace, which is a Sealed Evil in a Can like its predecessor, the Vasteel, warning her that the Vambrace has the potential to cause the same degree of global catastrophe as Vasteel did and that "the tragedy of Vasteel" will repeat. It is implied that this trope happens, as the Vambrace is too crippled to self-destruct.
- Meta-Example: in 1983 Atari was supposed to sign a deal with Nintendo to help bring the system to North America, but when they found Donkey Kong running on the Coleco vision and felt Nintendo broke the deal. Nintendo then decided to do their own thing and made the NES, and it was massively successful. A few years later Nintendo then chose not to help Sony make a CD-Rom system and Sony decided to start their own playstation, and it was massively successful.
- Five Nights at Freddy's and Five Nights at Freddy's 2. Night guard fends off killer robots, something happens to shut down the pizzeria, then management tries to revive the pizzeria, starting the cycle again. However, FNAF 2 came first.
- The third game deconstructs this, as by now everyone knows the horrible atrocities that happened at the pizzerias. But From a Certain Point of View, this trope is still in play, as they reopen it as a horror attraction, with another killer animatronic in it. There's also one more thing that also keeps happening: The Murderer, or Purple Guy as he is depected in cutscenes, always comes back to the pizzeria, if only to kill more kids. And, true to form, he's come to Fazbear's Fright...as ''Springtrap", the aforementioned animatronic.
- In Star Trek Online, the Klingons make the exact same mistake in the lead-up to the Federation-Klingon War that they made in the lead-up to the Dominion War. They unilaterally invade the Gorn, insisting that the Gorn have been infiltrated by shapeshifters (unlike with the Cardassians, the Gorn actually have been), and then when the Federation doesn't believe them, instead of trying to back up their claims they withdraw from the Khitomer Accords. And just like with the Dominion, this resulted in a Federation-Klingon War that only weakened the quadrant for the inevitable bigger fish. Once again, the Klingons' Honor Before Reason tendencies play right into the hands of a Manipulative Bastard adversary.
- In-game, this exact scenario repeats itself again on a small scale in the mission "Diplomatic Orders". A Klingon cruiser commander gets information that a Federation diplomat is really an Undine. Does he submit his findings to the Federation? No! He leads a deep-strike into Federation territory to kill the ambassador himself, and instead of coming out firing, he sacrifices the element of surprise to high-handedly demand that the Federation PC hand over the ambassador. The Fed PC reacts surprisingly well to this: instead of just blasting the idiot out of space on sight (remember, the Feds and Klinks have now been at war for four years), he asks to see the Klingon's evidence, and the Klingon instead takes umbrage and attacks, and because he's up against a Plot Armored Player Character he dies completely pointlessly and Starfleet makes the kill against the Undine.
- Yandere Simulator appears to have this going on: Yandere-chan's mother is said to also be a yandere. Tapes from a former journalist found scattered across the school reveal that a yandere had committed murder at Akademi High while stalking her senpai in the 80s, but managed to escape justice. The basement tape reveal that after the murder trial, the yandere (who shares the same family name as Yandere-chan) kidnapped her senpai and tied him to a chair in her basement, claiming that it was the same chair her mother used for her father...
- Fire Emblem Fates has a case. Corrin's step-father Sumeragi first met and fell in Love at First Sight with his/her mother Mikoto by a lake. Corrin him/herself meets his/her best friend Azura by a lake, and if male and romancing her, is also suggested to have fallen in Love at First Sight with her.
- The Talos Principle: At the entrance of World B, you can find a terminal with a document telling about the Library of Alexandria and the Oxyrhynchus Papyri: many important documents were lost forever when the former was destroyed, while many trivial documents were recovered intact in the latter. The document points out the importance of ensuring our important documents are preserved. Immediately after that, the first terminal you find has a transcription of a song's extremely silly lyrics, and is even completely readable, as opposed to most others documents in the archive, which are either lost to corruption or with missing fragments.
- Amazing Super Powers demonstrated how frequently those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it.
- Used so often in Homestuck that the concept is almost weaponized by the various textual and visual callbacks. Many of these instances, such as stairs, are subject to memery both in-story and out.
- One of the core concepts of Sire. The Binding is a mystical force which forces characters descended from characters from classic literature into following their Sire/Dam's fate, complete with consequences set up for those who try to run away from their story. The conflict of the comic is not about avoiding the fates handed to their forebears, but learning from their mistakes and being prepared for when history swoops back around again.
- Cartoon Network 's Toonami block. When it first premiered, it had limited animation for its CGI hosts, limited budgets to acquire new shows, and suffered tremendously in the ratings departments. It also started to see this pattern again, but due to the parent network's decision to fill the block with constant reruns and only new episodes of the infamous pre-Shippuden Naruto filler arcs. When it came back, Toonami had the same amount of viewership it did in the beginning, very few new ad bumpers, only two new shows, and most of its block consisting of old [adult swim] anime on a constant repeat.
- Cartoon Planet was cancelled after 22 episodes in its original run. For Cartoon Network's 20th anniversary, a modern version of Cartoon Planet was brought back, only to once again be removed from the schedule after 22 episodes. However, it came back just in time for the actual month of the anniversary, and has remained on the schedule ever since.
- This trope is a central theme of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, with the Arc Words of the first season being "This has all happened before." It's revealed that the current Mystery Incorporated are just the latest in a long line of mystery-solvers with an animal mascot, and every single one of their predecessors was driven mad by the Artifact of Doom that they're hunting.
- In the South Park episode "Fingerbang," Stan gets a nasty reaction from his father Randy when he and his friends decide to start a boy band, and Randy opposes it vehemently throughout the whole episode. It turns out Randy was afraid that this trope would happen—he has previously been in a boy band, and while they enjoyed success at first, his life, and those of his bandmates', spiraled into total despair when the fad for them had passed. Luckily, Stan and the others bailed out before anything bad could happen.
- Adventure Time: The end of "Lemonhope" implies that the Land of Ooo will eventually destroy itself just like humanity did.
- "Evergreen" shows that the time before the mass extinction of the dinosaurs was not unlike "modern"-day Ooo.
- Wakfu: When Adamai is horrified by Qilby's plan to drain the World of Twelve of its wakfu to power up the Zinit for another trip to the cosmos, Qilby is not surprised. He claims that Adamai and Yugo have not changed since their previous incarnations. As much as he wishes things would be different this time, his long immortal existence has taught him that history repeats endlessly.
- Batman Beyond: "Inqueling" is similar to "Ascension" because each episode features a villain being double-crossed by their own offspring; said offspring justifying this by how the villain treated them; and Batman telling the offspring not to be sure the villain is really dead. "Ascension" features Paxton Powers betraying his father Derek to become the new CEO of Wayne-Powers and "Inqueling" features Deanna killing her mother Inque to steal her money. Inque survives but it's not known what happens to Deanna as a consequence of this.
- Hitler just never learned from Napoleon's mistakes when he tried to conquer Russia. The Nazis ended up meeting the same outcome of this attempted invasion as did Napoleon's army.
- Before Napoleon, there was Charleus XII of Sweden. Starting a land war in Russia is only a good idea if you can keep the supplies flowing, and every time the Russians defeated the invaders by doing the same thing: Salting the fields, torching the harvest, and retreating until the invading army outran their supply lines, which was invariably hastened by the coming of winter.
- Contrary to popular belief, invasions of Russia haven't always been unsuccessful; Mongols conquered the first Russian state, and the Poles briefly ruled the country, taking advantage of a leadership vacuum, during the Time of Troubles.
- The Holocaust serves as a staunch reminder that if we don't learn from tragedies like this one, history will be doomed to repeat itself. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have seen fit to tell that to the DPRK...
- In 1904, Japan started a war with Russia by launching a surprise attack on Russia's naval facilities in Port Arthur, without issuing a declaration of war. Almost forty years later, Japan would attack the naval base at Pearl Harbor without issuing a declaration of war first.
- Some historical and philosophical schools follow this line of thought, in contrast to those stating the case for some form of progress.
- Giambattista Vico argued that human history moves through cycles flowing from a Theocratic Age (where Religion is an Active presence in society and politics) to an Aristocratic Age (where Kingdoms are an active presence in society and politics) to a Democratic Age, before returning back to Chaos. He noted that the main reason history repeats is because people refuse to consider how different the past is from the present, unironically accepting Roman civilization as an inspiration while ignoring all its flaws and defects.
- The other school of thought that came in the 20th Century is the "longue durée" and the overlapping but separate discipline of structuralism which argues that history is not actually made by "great men" and great events but underlying structures and environmental factors. History seems to repeat when we focus on individual cycles of Kings and Wars because the structures in which they operate only allows a few set of scenarios to play out. Real non-repeating history happens when that structure is changed and altered forcefully.
- In a strange way, all six of Henry VIII's wives fall into this category:
- Divorced: Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves were the only two wives who had titles of their own anyway, and both eventually died of cancer. Also, they lived to the oldest ages out of the six; Catherine was 50, and Anne was 41 when they died.
- Beheaded: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were cousins who both lost their lives on adultery and treason charges.
- Died/Survived: Jane Seymour and Catherine Parr, respectively. Jane was Queen for over a year before she died from puerperal fever; and Catherine only survived Henry for over a year before she too died from the same fever. It's even stranger when you realise that their children did not live to adulthood; Edward VI died in his teens, and it is generally agreed that Mary Seymour note did not live past the age of 2.
- In 1972, Ben Bradlee was editor of The Washington Post, and oversaw the investigative reporting by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein into the Watergate burglary, triggering the biggest scandal in American history. Thirty years later, his son, Ben Bradlee Jr., was an editor at The Boston Globe and oversaw the investigation into another major American scandal: that of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church. Both stories got film adaptations, too: Watergate got All the President's Men, and the Catholic sex abuse scandal got Spotlight.
- National Hockey League:
- Twice after losing The Stanley Cup to opponents in the Finals (NY Rangers in 1994, Boston in 2011), Vancouver Canucks fans have tended to riot downtown.
- The NHL had awarded Atlanta an expansion franchise twice, in 1972 with the Flames and in 1999 with the Thrashers. Both teams would subsequently relocate to Canada, with the Flames moving to Calgary in 1980 and the Thrashers to Winnipeg in 2011.
- The pagequote is from Marx' work "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon", which invokes this trope in the description of a coup d'etat of a Bonaparte against a weak unpopular French Republic.
- When the first Star Wars film, A New Hope, was shooting in Tunisia, the crew experienced severe rain storms in a sub-Saharan region where it rarely rains. More than 20 years later, when they returned to Tunisia to film The Phantom Menace, they faced severe rain storms once again.
- When John Lennon saw for the first time a picture of Yasuda Zenjirō, who was Yoko Ono's grandfather, he supposedly said "that's me in a former life", to which she responded "don't say that. He was assassinated". Come 1980, and what would the tragic fate of John Lennon be?
- Many a generation, when it grows old, complains about the next generation, how easier they have it, and claim things were better in the good old days. This is known as Juvenoia.
- The French Revolution of 1830. Many of the revolutionaries were looking back at recent French history, and the sequence of events involved: To begin with, an all-powerful King. An attempt is made to limit his power but this gets radicalised to the extent that they commit regicide and proclaim a republic. The republic is unable to settle on a stable system of government until a leading military figure stages a coup and seizes power. After initial success, this regime also collapses and the monarchy is restored. The new king rules with success, but is succeeded by a brother who badly mishandles his inheritance, which was the situation in 1830. The solution, the revolutionaries decided, was to overthrow the new king and replace him with another from a cadet branch of the royal family. Why? Well, at least in part, because this was what the English had done in 1688, at the end of exactly the same sequence of events.