Ah, the life of a trope. One day you're just a recurring idea, flitting around in a writer's head, the next you've got your very own wiki page. I remember when I was just a YKTTW, an insignificant blue entry swimming with hundreds of others. Back then, I had fewer Wicks, a lot fewer examples, and my trope description looked like this:
This is a specific type of Framing Device
, a first-person Narrator
who is looking back on his experiences. Generally (not always), it's an adult looking back at his childhood. These stories are generally big on nostalgia, but they also attempt to capture the na´vetÚ and confusion so prominent in childhood. Since it's the author looking back on things, we may get Unreliable Voiceovers
or other inconsistencies, but we also tend to get a candid look at childhood— including petty fights and foul mouths.
Can overlap with Narrator All Along
when the narrator uses a third person limited viewpoint and switches to first person in the last reel. Compare with How We Got Here
, where the story starts at the end and then transfers into this trope.
When adding examples, be sure the narrator is evidently an older self looking back on the past; not all first-person stories qualify.
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Anime & Manga
- Horribly subverted in Bokurano: The first narrator's word choices make it sound like he's talking about the distant past, but he's actually only narrating maybe two days back, and even less time until he abruptly dies.
- Played straight in The Tibetan Dog, where the protagonist is an old man telling the story of himself when he were young.
- Songs Uncle Sings actually contains two different examples of this. One is Clopham, telling of his uncle. The other is Breeze, telling Clopham a story about his days as a warrior.
- Used in various stories of the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf series that involve flashbacks to earlier times, including the novel where Empath learns that he is Papa Smurf's only biological son.
- Stand by Me: The main events of the film are narrated by Gordie, who is writing a short story about the event in the Framing Device.
- Little Manhattan plays with this, as it's about a 12-year-old boy's first love, as narrated by himself, looking back from the ripe old age of 13.
- Amadeus, recounted by a mad Salieri.
- Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior): At the end we discover that the elderly narrator is actually the feral kid.
- The Dustin Hoffman flick Little Big Man.
- Woody Allen provides this kind of narration for Radio Days and Broadway Danny Rose.
- Thomas and the Magic Railroad originally would have featured an older Lily in this role.
- Millennium Actress is mostly told as a series of anecdotes the titular actress relates to documentary filmmakers (with some occasional interruptions by the documentary director and cameraman) and depicted as scenes from her movies, though there is no narrator as such.
- A deleted scene at the 2003 film adaptation of Peter Pan would have made Wendy this, having her go on to narrate that after she grew up, her own daughter went on adventures with Peter.
- Peter Jackson's The Hobbit is shot like this, beginning with Bilbo writing the events in his memoirs, so he can leave Frodo with the last story of his adventures.
- The Lone Ranger: Tonto in 1933.
- The Sandlot - Scott Smalls reminisces about one childhood summer revolving around baseball.
- A Christmas Story - Ralph Parker reminisces about one childhood Christmas revolving around a desire to receive a particular gift.
- James Joyce's short story "Araby"
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- The A.E. Housman poem "When I was one-and-twenty;" actually a subversion, as it's from the perspective of a 22-year-old looking back on when he was 21. (At least, that's the way that Tommy Makem recites it in the middle of a song, "The Sally Gardens," on Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy.)
- The Warhammer 40,000-based Ciaphas Cain novels use his memoirs (complete with footnotes added by a member of the inquisition (and possibly lover).
- Kvothe in The Name of the Wind is unusually young to play this trope straight, but he's looking back on himself from when he was younger nevertheless.
- Michael becomes this when recounting his student days in Vikram Seth's novel An Equal Music.
- In the Dramatic Audio version of the Left Behind book Glorious Appearing, a grown-up Kenny Williams (the son of Buck and Chloe Williams) narrates some of the events that took place in the book from sometime in the future.
Live Action TV
- In BIONICLE, Turaga Vakama is sometimes this.
- Interestingly, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time uses this; its two sequels don't, though the third frames the whole trilogy by calling back to it.
- Slightly subverted in Ōkami. At first, it seems like a disembodied voice retelling the story. It turns out that Issun is really the narrator.
- Similarly in Ōkamiden, however, instead of being Issun, it's Kuni
- Done rather chillingly in Age of Empires II. The Attila campaign is narrated by an old monk who was captured and rode with Attila, and sums up the experience of conquering, butchering, and looting. At the end he goes silent before saying, "Sometimes... I miss it."
- "Let me tell you about the man I met when I was young."
- Both Icewind Dale games use this. The narrator in the first game turns out to be the Big Bad Belhifet stewing over the memory of his defeat and relishing the approaching end of his century long banishment. The narrator of the second is a little girl who accompanied the party for a while on their journey who is now an adult remembering their adventure as she sets out on her own journey.