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Meet Your Early Installment Weirdness

Sometimes, especially if a franchise is a Long Runner or is about to have a Milestone Celebration, the creators might find it fun to do an episode or TV special in which the newer versions of the characters meet their past selves, before their Art Evolution or Character Development took place.

This will usually be handled one of two ways; the show might view the old incarnation of the characters with a level respect and maybe with only a few tongue-in-cheek jokes at their expense (with the older versions of the characters having some critiques of their own), or it can go into full-on Self-Deprecation, poking fun at how "bad" the show used to be and Flanderizing the earlier versions.

The second type is more likely when a different writer is handling the newer installments of the franchise, though having it be used as an outlet for Creator Backlash by the same creator is also possible. As such, use of this trope may either bring fans of all incarnations of the franchise together and be a celebration of the franchise as a whole, or it could just entertain new fans while alienating older fans.

Related to Era-Specific Personality, Art Evolution, Retreaux and of course Early-Installment Weirdness. Future Me Scares Me and I Hate Past Me may also come into use. Compare Revisiting The Roots.


Examples

Comics
  • A joke comic strip was published in an issue of Wizard Magazine featuring the Super Friends teaming up with their modern Justice League of America comic counterparts.
  • During the Zero Hour Crisis Crossover, Alfred Pennyworth and Robin had to contend with the Bumbling Sidekick Defective Detective version of Alfred from The Golden Age of Comic Books.
  • This was the point of the JLA/JSA crossovers in general. One of them, in issues 91-92 of the Silver Age JLA series, deliberately paired the Silver and Golden Age counterparts up to emphasize the differences between them.
  • A few issues of Archie had Archie and his pals run into the 1950s versions of themselves while walking down "Memory Lane".
  • During the Avengers/Invaders crossover (Marvel's WWII and modern hero teams) Namor the Sub-Mariner was the only guy who was alive for both of them (the Steve Rogers Captain America was dead at this time). Modern Namor is a little annoyed at his younger counterpart, who is brash and hotheaded.
  • The cover of one collection of the early issues of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog has the three different versions of Sally Acorn staring at each other in confusion.
  • In the earliest issues of Fantastic Four, Ben Grimm a.k.a. the thing was lumpy and scaly, entirely humorless, and spoke in a slightly elevated tone reminiscent of Frankenstein's monster. In the Thing-centric team-up comic Marvel Two-in-One, the rocky, Noo Yawky, Deadpan Snarker we all know and love traveled back in time to team up with his earlier self. He also undid the earlier Thing's transformation, but this turned out to be a separate timeline so he was unaffected in the present.

Literature
  • Artemis Fowl returns to the past and encounters his younger, less nuanced self at some point in the series.
    • Although his younger self is actually two years younger than the first book. Nevertheless, he does show elements of first-book Artemis that later Artemis has outgrown (namely being evil).
  • In an illustration for The Road to Oz, John R. Neill lampshades how different his drawings of Dorothy and Toto are from W. W. Denslow's by showing them examining a statue of their earlier selves in the Tin Woodman's garden: Scroll down in this blog post.

Live Action TV
  • "All Good Things ...", the finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation, has Picard drifting through past, present and future timelines. The first brings him back to the show's pilot, "Encounter at Farpoint", and recreates the show's first season and its peculiarities—a nerdier Data, no one character established as the chief engineer, a clip of a clean-shaven Riker, and Troi's cheerleader-like hairstyle and uniform—with uncanny precision. (However, past Worf doesn't have his completely different forehead ridges.) Picard even mistakenly orders past Worf to conduct a security scan, even though Tasha Yar was Chief of Security during much of season 1.
    • The same goes for other flashback situations. You won't be able to tell the archival footage from the new footage in Deep Space 9's "Trials and Tribble-ations," and the TOS-era ship seen in Enterprise's "In a Mirror Darkly" is also faithfully TOS. Original Trek is very Zeerust-affected, with its bright primary colors and blinking lights and high-pitched noises coming from everything, and never fails to clash with later interpretations, but the Trek producers know that when you want your original Trek back, you want your original Trek back. (For "Trials and Tribble-ations", the production team went so far as to use 1960s film stock because the colour saturation properties were different!!) The 2009 movie gets away with modernizing things because it's an Alternate Continuity; blame Nero for everything! Yet even it has the old-school uniforms, with relatively minor changes and/or updates.
      • "Trials and Tribble-ations" also does this trope straight with Worf (late continuity ridge-head Klingon) acknowledging 1st series Trek Era Klingons (a bunch of guys with swarthy makeup, shaggy hair and mustaches, and bubble-wrap belt-buckles). "Yes, they are Klingons.. It is not something we discuss with outsiders."
  • The inherent problem with Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger is that the Gokaigers were going to, at some point, have to turn into the older Super Sentai teams. The suits have not aged well at all, both in a literal sense (some looked like they were going to fall apart) and in a design sense, particularly the human-looking suits from Battle Fever J.
    • Though the costumes have been remade, they were spot-on remakings with better materials, though, instead of "modernized" suits. The pre-spandex suits hang looser, and the helmets that originally had visible eyeholes or latches still do. The bizarre attacks some of the early teams have are used as well. The very first episode gives us a Goranger Storm, which involved kicking a soccer ball between the team members, the final member sending it at the opponent, whereupon it would transform into something (wacky) that the opponent hates.
    • The same goes for Kamen Rider Decade. Interestingly, the villains get remade (most obviously, the new Ten-Faced Demon looks much more Mayincatec) but with the heroes, we get faithful reproductions of the old suits instead of updates like Kamen Rider The First or Kamen Rider The Next. Kamen Rider Stronger still has his highly visible eyeholes and overall poofier design, and Riderman's mask still doesn't cover his whole face. No changes are made to bring some of the more un-riderly-looking old-school heroes in line with what a Rider "should" look like.
  • In the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode "The End Of The Beginning", a powerful stone sends Hercules and Autolycus back in time a few years. While Herc has his own adventure to worry about, Autolycus encounters his own past-self. The experience is less than thrilling for either one of them.
    Past!Autolycus: Oh, you know what? You're pathetic. You're cynical, cautious. What happens to me that turns me into you?
    Present!Autolycus: Y'know, it's a wonder that I ever survived my reckless youth to become the master knave that I am.
  • This trope is in play any time the Doctor's past collides with his present. Notably, "The Three Doctors", "The Five Doctors", "The Day of the Doctor" and "Time Crash"(a Children in Need short in which Ten meets Five).
    The First Doctor: So, these are my replacements. A dandy and a clown.
    -The Three Doctors
    • This is also brought up in "School Reunion", when Rose meets former companion Sarah Jane, and comments that K9 "looks a bit disco".

Magazines
  • Parodied in MAD with a review for the fictitious graphic novel Batman: When Worlds Contrive. The story features the Dark Age's Batman and the Golden Age's Robin fighting against the Silver Age's Penguin. MAD called it a "rurdosk."
    "'Rurdosk' is a phony slang word we just made up, and it means you can kiss continuity goodbye."

Music
  • Post-Punk band Magazine reformed in the 21st century, and one of their new songs, "Of Course Howard (1979)", incorporated some text written by lead singer Howard Devoto during their earlier period of operation. Devoto maybe gets a little ironic at his younger self — but the younger Devoto was quite capable of irony himself.

Newspaper Comics
  • Done in the 25th anniversary strip of FoxTrot as well, with Peter and Jason looking at scans of 1988 strips and commenting on how weird they look.
  • Funky Winkerbean: Part of a story arc involving the title character being seriously injured in a car accident (caused by a woman talking on a cell phone while driving). While unconscious, Funky had a dream where he was taken back to 1980, where he interacts with the teen-aged versions of himself, Crazy Harry and Holly Budd. The flashback ends when he regains consciousness in the present day.
  • The old version of Garfield (which, unlike the newer model, actually was fat, had small beady eyes, and walked like a cat) met the newer one during the strip's 25th anniversary, which allowed them to indulge in some Lampshade Hanging.
  • One strip of Luann had Luann, Delta, and Bernice commenting on how juvenile several new freshman looked, unaware that those three freshman looked exactly like their earliest designs.

Professional Wrestling
  • There were certain elements of this in a 2006 WWE storyline in which Kane feuded with someone that dressed and acted just like he did when he first debuted in 1997, even down to performing his moves and displaying the same mannerisms. The storyline wasn't given much conclusion though, after Kane defeated him and took back the mask that the imposter wore.

Video Games
  • Sonic Generations has the current Sonic and his supporting characters come in contact with the versions of themselves from the Sega Genesis days.
  • It occurs in this promotional art for the Mickey Mouse game Mickey Mania.
    • As well as in the actual game. Each level is an older Mickey cartoon, and modern Mickey meets his older self in each one.
    • Kingdom Hearts II does pretty much the same thing in the stage based on Steamboat Willie. Although in that one, it's more "Meet Your Mentor/Leader's Early Installment Weirdness".
    • That stage does have an interesting boss battle where you fight modern Pete...with the aid of Steamboat Willie!Pete.
  • In Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and The Time Rippers, Roger does some time travelling, and part of the game is set during the first Space Quest game, with everything except Roger depicted in the original more primitive graphics.
  • In The Curse of Monkey Island, Guybrush can walk into the sea and into an underwater scene from The Secret of Monkey Island in which Guybrush has drowned. This is possible to do in the original game but most players never saw it because it required waiting there for 10 minutes. Guybrush wants to get out of there pretty quickly due to it being a paradox.
  • Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2 had Mario/Luigi occasionally visit planets shaped like 8-bit versions of themselves.
    • Mario games in general like to include a reference to his 8-bit origins. In Super Mario RPG, there's a room in Booster Tower where walking behind a curtain turns Mario into his 8-bit self, and Paper Mario pulls the same gag with a pot in a haunted house. Then there's Super Paper Mario, which includes a powerup that transforms Mario into an enormous 8-bit sprite rampaging through the level. That last one also works for the rest of the party and their NES sprites, which looks very strange for Peach given that her NES sprite does not have any walking animations.
      • As if that wasn't enough, on one occasion you will find this power-up, but a Koopa Troopa will grab it before you, reverting to an enormous 8-bit version of itself and trying to chase you down.
  • Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations essentially touts this as a selling point. The game has a majority of the characters of Naruto Shippuden "meet" their younger versions of themselves from Part 1 of Naruto (pre-Shippuden). However, Young Naruto and Modern Naruto don't really meet aside from the introductory video, promotional artwork, and the multiplayer mode.
  • In Max Payne 2, where Max's appearance was based on a different actor than the first game, Max's former self says during a dream sequence: "I didn't use to look like this!"
    • Much fun is had with Max's "constipated" expression from the first gamenote . The third game involves Max seeing a tv report about his recent exploits, including a facial composite...that comes out as a dead ringer for his "old" face. He is less than pleased.
    Max: Oh Jesus, look at that...
  • The Simpsons Game has the current game's Simpsons meet 8-bit versions of themselves. The early Bart and Homer are confused by the lack of lives and high scores, and both sets of Simpsons are uneasy about their present/future obsolescence.
  • Occurs in Super Robot Wars Z where Super Dimension Century Orguss's interdimensional weirdness brings the kid-friendly 1970s anime version of the Getter Robo team face to face with their violent Sociopathic Hero counterparts from the Shin Getter Robo OAVs. Needless to say, neither side is particularly happy about this.

Webcomics

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Looney Tunes has a meta-example; One later drawing of Bugs Bunny by Chuck Jones (which can be found in one of his biographies) has Bugs reacting in horror at the sight of a picture of "Bugs' Bunny" (note apostrophe), his alleged prototype, from "Hare-Um Scare-Um".
  • Played with in Turtles Forever, in which the 2003 Ninja Turtles meet the 1987 Turtles, and later, the Mirage Comics Turtles - as they were in the very first issue of the comic, which was grim-n-gritty taken so far past eleven that it loops around to parody.
  • For Alvin and the Chipmunks, the 80s cartoon did an episode that was a parody of Back to the Future called "Back to Our Future" in which the 80s Chipmunks meet the 60s Chipmunks and try to stop them from quitting music and preventing the 80's chipmunks from being created. It was complete with a Limited Animation Art Shift.
  • Reboot: At the end of a very big episode, young Enzo appears and pounces on Bob. Matrix, who is Enzo all grown up, is speechless.
    • There was also an episode where the older, teenage Enzo encountered a game containing Mainframe, in a strange homage to The Prisoner. It was much cheesier and more in-line with the first episodes.
  • Scooby-Doo: Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase had the gang encounter their 70s versions in a video game!
  • Happened in the Family Guy episode "Back to the Pilot" where Brian and Stewie use a time machine to travel back to the pilot episode.
  • In-universe example: In an episode of The Fairly OddParents, "The Crimson Chin meets Mighty Mom and Dyno Dad", The Crimson Chin meets several of his old personalities, from 30s pulp-fiction Chin, to edgy 1985 Chin, who got cancelled for swearing. They all fight crime together.
  • There is a Quack Pack episode wherein Donald Duck is de-aging. Teenage Donald is actually how he appeared in his debut in The Wise Little Hen, way back in 1934. May count more as Lampshade Hanging, however.
  • On the season seven Simpsons episode "The Day the Laughter Died" note , Bart and Lisa work hard to try and save I&S Studios from bankruptcy (and get Apu out of jail for indecent exposure) — only to find out that the conflict was resolved by two badly-drawn look-alikes named Lester and Eliza (who resemble Bart and Lisa back when The Simpsons was a filler cartoon on The Tracy Ullman Show).
    • The Couch Gag for the season eleven episodes "Beyond Blunderdome" note  and "Days of Wine and D'oh'ses" note  have The Simpsons as they're currently drawn meeting their crudely-drawn counterparts from The Tracy Ullman Show and all ten of them freaking out.
    • The 2011 Simpsons wall calendar features three versions of the family all fighting each other.
    • Then there's one of the Treehouse of Horror specials where Homer clones himself. One of the clones looks exactly like the Tracey Ullman-era Homer, who utters the line "Let's all go out for frosty chocolate milkshakes!", in the Walter Matthau-esque voice he was known for having back then.
  • A music video seen in House of Mouse had Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto walk on top of a bridge made from a fallen log, causing them to turn black and white (similar to Simba becoming an adult during the song "Hakuna Matata" from The Lion King).
    • The Teaser from The Mickey Mouse Anniversary Show in 1968 had Mickey encountering the bug-eyed Mickey from Plane Crazy.
  • One episode of Ben 10: Ultimate Alien had Ben meeting his original incarnation.
    • Ben 10: Omniverse episode "Ben Again" does this, but with a twist; the time-traveling villain Eon uses his powers to swap the minds of Classic!Ben and Omniverse!Ben, leaving Classic!Gwen really weirded out on how much nicer Ben is suddenly being to her, while Rook has difficulty keeping the suddenly hyperactive Ben out of trouble. Both timelines meet in the climax.
  • The South Park episode "A Crappy Christmas" has the protagonists make their very own animated Christmas special, which turns out to be the 1995 "Spirit of Christmas" pre-series short. Actual footage from the program is shown on in-universe displays.
  • One of the New Teen Titans shorts features the Titans getting sent back in time to their previous selves. In particular, Starfire gets mad at the ridiculous length of her past hair.
    • Though she also uses it to cover herself once she notices the ridiculous lack of cover her past clothing provided.

Long RunnerSeries TropesNon-Indicative First Episode
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