Once More with Clarity
In a work, a specific scene is shown twice. The first time the audience experiences it, the scene seems to mean one thing. When the scene occurs again, it is shown to have a different meaning entirely. Sometimes the scene is shown again the exact same way as it was shown the first time, with the only difference being the audience's new understanding of what it meant. Sometimes the scene is extended or re-shot from a different perspective to show the newly-revealed meaning. A frequent variation of this happens during a reveal that a character's perception of an event has been altered by a hallucination or False Memories: the first appearance of the scene is from the character's point of view, but once the audience discovers that's not what really happened, the scenes are shown again, but replaced with the truth. See Chekhov's Gun and its related tropes for the seemingly-unimportant details that are shown to be important the second time around. Also see Fridge Brilliance and Rewatch Bonus, the times you see these important points upon reviewing prior scenes without the author's help. If the reinterpretation is made immediately (by changing the camera field), it's a Reveal Shot. Used clumsily, this may veer into Captain Obvious territory. The gun she's using is the one her father was killed with? Yeah, considering its unique look, we gathered as much when we saw it for the first time in both scenes. Now could we please end the flashback and get on with the story? This trope can overlap with How We Got Here, but the emphasis is slightly different. How We Got Here usually starts the entire story with a single dramatic situation (the heroes pointing handguns at each other, or the captain sitting naked in the middle of the desert) and then explains how things got to that point. Once More With Clarity often repeats more than one scene, and they can be superficially unremarkable at first, until they are imbued with more meaning or emotion once the viewer understands what they mean.
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Anime And Manga
- Used to great effect in Fullmetal Alchemist when Mustang kills Maria Ross. The audience is treated to a short scene in which Mustang appears and speaks briefly before snapping his fingers - then the actual explosion is shown from a distance. The scene is shown again later in an extended format, and shows Mustang bringing out the fake corpse he created with alchemy, burning it, and rescuing Ross instead.
- In Monster, we see repeatedly in Nina's memories an image of Franz Bonaparta reaching towards her saying menacingly, "Humans can become anything." We later see that it was Bonaparta reaching out to Nina telling her that she and Johan must not become monsters.
- The flashback scenes in Giant Robo: The Animation are chock full of this trope. By the end of the film, they've completely rewritten who the villain is.
- Baam's first test in Tower of God. At first, it defined his character and explained a whole lot about the Tower, which was climbing to find Rachel. Later on we find out that Rachel was standing mere 30 meters away from him, but completely blocked off, desperately begging him not to advance, even though he couldn't hear her. That is shown from her perspective.
- In Death Note when Ryuk talks with Light, telling him that humans who use the Death Note do not go to Heaven or Hell, and that Light will find out when he dies. Light, right before his death near the end of the series, correctly guesses that Ryuk said that because all humans, whether they used the Death Note or not, simply experience Cessation of Existence upon the end of their lives. [Perhaps in the anime, in the manga Light says it in response instantly.]
- The first episode of Baccano! contains a collection of several scenes that make no sense. In the final episodes those scenes are played again and it's then clear that they show what happened to the characters at the end of their arcs. Except for one for the scenes which is from a book that wasn't even adapted.
- In Naruto, Minato's battle with Kyuubi is showed very briefly in the first chapter. 500 chapters later, the battle is shown in more detail.
- Another rather fascinating example: In the first few chapters of the series, Sasuke explains that his life ambition is to kill a certain person (out of revenge). We see a distinctive, shadowed picture of said person's face. Hundreds of chapters later, we see the face (in the exact same angle) again, as Sasuke remembers that fateful night with new clarity, and realizes that Itachi was crying out of remorse, because he massacred the Uchiha Clan (except his brother) to preserve peace and prevent a world war, and decided to take the blame for it all.
- Madoka's dream at the beginning of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is shown again in episode 10, where we find out it's actually the events immediately preceding this timeline.
- Another example from the same episode: Homura wasn't being a psychopathic killer when she hunted QB at the beginning of episode 1. She was trying to stop QB from making any contact with Madoka.
- Also from the same episode: the OP song's meaning changes significantly when you realize it's actually about Homura, rather than Madoka.
- In-universe, Madoka gets a Clarity moment like this when she was becoming hope, as she became capable of observing everything in every timeline. Fans have combined this with the Ero-Homura meme, to great delight.
- Pandora Hearts has used this many, many times, to the point where we still aren't sure what really happened in many cases.
- Tenchi Muyo! did this very interestingly - in the final episode, Tenchi finally demands to know how his mom died. Katsuhito tells an elaborate story about how his mom tended to him when he was ill and everything. As the story grows more and more elaborate, he stops himself and reveals the truth: Tenchi's mom was a horrible prankster who made even her death one big joke and even wrote a script that was to be read about her passing. Tenchi... didn't take it well.
- In One Piece, we first see Ace joining Whitebeard's crew as a battered and worn down Ace is approached by Whitebeard and offered a place in his crew. This, combined with Ace's fierce loyalty to his captain suggests that Whitebeard found and took in a down-on-his-luck Ace. When we see the flashback again, we see that Ace was a successful enough pirate to be considered for the Seven Warlords of the Sea and his beating came from Whitebeard kicking his ass.
- In chapter 721, we are shown Rebecca's Dark and Troubled Past with the Toy Soldier. We are shown Kyros's past in chapter 742, with many of the scenes in Rebecca's past altered to include him in them. The reason why he doesn't show up in Rebecca's memories is because Kyros was turned into the Toy Soldier, and the side effect is that everyone who ever knew him (or even knew of him) forgot his existence entirely. As a result of this, Rebecca is unaware that the Toy Soldier is really her father, and was never told because doing so would cause him to be tossed into the scrap heap and leave her without protection.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: This happens several times during the series; the biggest example would be Meakashi-hen, which is an earlier arc, replayed from the perspective of the villain (however, it should be noted that this arc's timeline is completely separate from that of Watanagashi-hen, rather the set up and events are nearly identical). This also happens during the arc after this, when Keiichi remembers killing Mion and Rena during Onikakushi-hen, and that it wasn't a syringe, but a marker, and that Rena begged for him to trust her up until he landed the final blow. This also happens to Satoko during Minagoroshi-hen when she remembers pushing her parents over the cliff herself, an incident that had previously been shown as an accident, with Satoko well out of the way.
- Inverted with the opening sequence of Gurren Lagann, which actually makes less sense on a repeated viewing (since it looks like a How We Got Here opening, but doesn't actually happen in the series.)
- Early in Mobile Fighter G Gundam, the Neo-Japanese government shows Domon (and the audience) how his brother Kyoji had a Face-Heel Turn, stole the Devil Gundam and killed their mother during his escape. Late in the series it's revealed that the entire thing was a lie: the government was trying to steal the Gundam, Kyoji jumped into the cockpit to keep it out of their hands (and was subsequently brainwashed by its programming), and their mother was killed trying to protect him.
- Andrew Graham, The Neo-Canadian Fighter, hates Argo because he apparently attacked Graham's space station and tossed his wife Norma into the void. When they fight during the finals, we learn that Argo's pirate ship accidentally crashed into Andrew's, and Argo was trying to save Norma, but she lost her grip before he could get to her, which left Argo stricken with guilt ever since.
- The last scene in Fate/Zero is a scene from Fate/stay night where Kiritsugu tells his son, Shirou, that he wanted to be a hero when he was a child. Seeing it in flashback reveals quite a bit about Shriou's motivation but seeing it at the end of Fate/Zero with a different soundtrack after discovering Kiritsugu's back story turns it from simple characterization to one of the most heart warming and hopeful scenes in the entire series (even with Kiritsugu basically dying at the same time).
- Near the end of the third season of Legend of Galactic Heroes, (even inside a spoiler tag one should know this is a huge spoiler), protagonist Yang Wen-Li dies leaving his foster sun, Julian, as his successor to carry on the battle against Kaiser Reinhard. Throughout this season the ending theme showed Yang and all his friends enjoying a quite life while Julian watched a video with a solemn expression. However in the last episode of the season after everyone comes to terms with Yang's death, the ending sequence changes to the one that was used in the first season. The first season's ending theme ends with Yang moving out of focus leaving Julian to share the screen with Reinhard. Why Julian and Reinhard shared this imagery no doubt confused viewers during the first season as Julian was a relatively minor character but when shown again over eighty episodes after it is first used, it perfectly set the tone for the rest of the series.
- Hitsugi No Chaika: Avenging Battle features one in its ending sequence. The final shots are of a cherry tree with two blurry figures visible in the distance, and then a small country house. These shots seem unconnected to the main plot, but in the final episode, the first shot is unblurred to reveal that it carries on from the show's final scene, with Toru and the recovering Chaika making their way back from the tree towards the house in the second shot, which the viewer now knows is where they, Akari, Fredrica and Red Chaika live Happily Ever After.
- The very first scene of the anime is what appears to be a shocked-looking Chaika Trabant conversing with a strange being. In Episode 11, we see the scene again, revealing it was Layla/Blue Chaika instead, and that the scene was in fact her Start of Darkness, as she learned from the creature that the Chaikas were mere tools to gather Emperor Gaz's remains.
- Kagerou Project: The series' whole anime adaptation counts as one of these, as it puts major events from the songs, novels and manga into order, shows things that had only been hinted at before, and gives a conclusive ending. It's even lampshaded in the first scene when Ayano/The Retaining Eyes Snake in disguise tells a confused Shintaro that "Everyone's going through this, realising it bit by bit" and proceeds to tell him "The story once again, of how we met".
- This also happens on a smaller scale with the P Vs for Children Record and Days. The former shows a scene of Azami, smiling against a dark background, implying she will play a villainous role. The Days PV shows the scene again, only this time it's against a bright background, and the context makes it clear that she's smiling because her granddaughter and her friends finally broke the cycle and ended everyone's suffering.
- The very first issue of Paperinik New Adventures opens with the Evrons invading Xerba, the sequence ending with an unidentified shadowed Xerbian crying a Big "NO!". Issue 0/3, titled Xadhoom, shows the final panel with more clarity: it was Xadhoom herself, who had just discovered what the treaty she had signed with the Evrons had allowed to happen while she got her powers. The entire invasion, from the signing of the treaty to what happened immediately before the Big "NO!", was later shown in a special issue.
- The Xerbians gave us this kind of scene again: issue 19 has a derelict Xerbian ship in the rings of Saturn and a recorded message from her captain, saying of how they were trying to warn Earth of the impending Evron threat but had been intercepted by an Evron cruiser. The special dedicated to the invasion shows how it happened, making clear they hadn't been found by the Evron fleet preparing to invade Earth but by a pursuing ship from Xerba, and the captain actually recording the message.
- An issue of Astonishing X-Men shows the team reacting to Cyclops' plan to sacrifice himself covering the team's escape. In the next issue, we see that scene again, but this time we get to see the secret telepathic discussion they were having at the same time, and what the real plan was.
- Chapter 10 of Calvin and Hobbes: The Movie revisits some early moments in the story, revealing that the aliens were manipulating things all along.
Films — Animated
- Hoodwinked does this to great effect, between the four characters' overlapping stories. In a sense, it's an Invoked Trope, as Detective Nicky Flippers is questioning them in order to get to the bottom of how the four of them ended up in the situation they were found in.
- Warning: Spoilers ahead: This scene of Puss in Boots is The Reveal that the Big Bad was always there
The Big Bad: "You never knew it, Puss, but I was always there there there there."
Films — Live-Action
- In The Sixth Sense, there's a montage of flashbacks after Bruce Willis' character learns that he's been Dead All Along that puts the entire movie into a new perspective.
- Particularly heart-rending is a scene that switches from a woman callously refusing to forgive her husband for being late - going even so far as to not respond to anything he says, and snatching the check just as he's trying to grab it - to a bereaved widow holding the anniversary dinner for her late husband, not realizing he's actually at the table with her.
- This is a staple of Christopher Nolan films:
- Used at the end of Memento. Previous flashbacks involving Sammy Jankis and Leonard's wife are repeated with small alterations. It isn't made totally clear whether this really is Once More With Clarity, or if the new scenes are just as fictional as the old ones.
- The opening scene of Inception makes no sense the first time you see it. It's played again later in the film, at which point all becomes perfectly clear. (Or as clear as this film ever makes anything, anyway; it's that kind of film). There's another one that turns into a massive Crowning Moment of Heartwarming and Tear Jerker the second time around. Fairly early on in the film, there is a scene of Cobb and Mal walking through Limbo together, holding hands. It's shown once more near the ending, during Cobb's final confrontation with Mal's shade. When she reminds him that he promised they'd grow old together, he simply says "But we did, don't you remember?" The scene from the beginning then plays again... with the Cobb and Mal we're familiar with replaced by significantly older versions.
- The Dark Knight Rises has the story of Bane's escape from a nightmarish prison he grew up in. Turns out he was not the one who escaped, it was Talia Al Ghul and Bane was her protector. The child shown in the flashback has no discernible gender, so it's easy to just assume it's a boy.
- The Bourne Series: The Ultimatum movie does this to the last scene of Supremacy.
- The movie Clue devotes the entire last half of the movie to a protracted rehashing of the first half. It's still awesome.
- Watch it on VHS or on the DVD with the "all endings" option, and they do the rehash three times, each time claiming that something different was "really" going on. It's
stilleven more awesome.
- Watch it on VHS or on the DVD with the "all endings" option, and they do the rehash three times, each time claiming that something different was "really" going on. It's
- Fight Club does something similar during the realization that the two main characters are the same person. Scenes previously shown with one character are shown again with the other character—or scenes with both characters together are shown, but now the one character is alone and talking to himself.
- The Saw series does this at just about the end of every film, usually to detail how Jigsaw / another villain has put one over on their opponents. When the "Hello Zepp" Leitmotif starts playing, you know things are going From Bad to Worse.
- The Blind Side does this with the opening interview with Oher.
- The opening scene of Carlitos Way is repeated at the end, and you realize that the first scene means almost exactly the opposite of what you thought.
- In the 1994 Clint Eastwood movie A Perfect World, the first scene has an idyllic image of Kevin Costner lying on his back in a field in a sunny day. The last scene is the same — but with the addition of one or two important details that the first scene left out...
- Kujan's last view of the bulletin board in The Usual Suspects.
- The Diner Scene in Pulp Fiction.
- Ocean's Eleven does this to show how the crew pulled off the robbery, though not without a major plot hole. There is no explanation for how the fliers, that were used to simulate the money, got into the vault. It's not as if a casino would actually store those inside its vault in the amount required for that diversion.
- An example of this actually occurs using two different films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A scene that is shown in The Stinger of Iron Man 2 is actually a scene taken directly from the movie Thor, which was released a year after Iron Man 2.
- Similarly, the first scene of the original X-Men Movie, where a young Magneto uses his powers to warp a concentration camp gate, is re-visited eleven years later in X-Men: First Class. Shortly following his outburst Erik is confronted by Sebastian Shaw, who forces him into a Die or Fly situation for his mother's life.
- The Shawshank Redemption features a scene in which Andy leaves the warden's office and returns to his cell. Someone seeing it for the first time is likely to believe that Andy is planning to kill himself. Only a few minutes later, the sequence is shown again with a few more details showing how he was putting his escape plan into action.
- Hot Fuzz gets to do this more than once. Once with Sergeant Angel's proposed reasoning behind Simon Skinner being behind the murders and then again with the actual reasoning as explained by the real murderers, the entire Neighborhood Watch.
- In The Conversation, a surveillance expert investigates a recorded conversation between two suspects. The meaning of the conversation changes radically as he discovers more information. Specifically, the difference between "He'd kill us if he got the chance" and "He'd kill us if he got the chance".
- Happens frequently in Atonement to show Briony's misinterpretation of the events that occur.
- Terry Gilliam did this with 12 Monkeys where we start and close with closeups of the protagonist's eyes and watching a young boy.
- In Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, the eponymous time-travellers meet their one-day-older selves and have a brief conversation. Later in the film, we see the same conversation again from the older versions' point of view. The characters even comment that it made a lot more sense the second time.
- The plot of Hero revolves around this, retelling the same story three times, the first being Nameless' fake story, the second being the Emperor's take on what really happened, and the third finally revealing what actually happened.
- In Mulholland Dr., the phone call chain early on that ends in an unknown dark room lid by a red lamp shade. Later we learn that this is Diane's place as we see her she answer the call.
- In Triangle, the opening scene shows several brief snippets of Jess' morning. We see this scene again toward the end of the film, and it becomes clear that the parts that were skipped over were Jess verbally and physically abusing her son.
- The early parts of Interstellar are spliced in with interviews with elderly people, supposedly on how life was during the Great Depression and 1930s Dust Bowl. The ending scenes reveal that those interviews were part of a museum exhibit on a space station about the early parts of the film, which are set in the future.
- In Unknown (2011), the hero often has flashbacks of having a picture taken with his wife while on their honeymoon. Later, it is revealed that this was a posed studio shoot and that Martin and his "wife" are merely terrorist agents.
- Cyborg has several short flashbacks throughout the film, showing how Gibson met his love interest and briefly retired from his life as a mercenary who fights bandits and pirates. Each one of these flashbacks, however, ends on an ominous note, hinting at the events that Fender, the leader of arguably the most vicious and evil pirate gang plaguing the world After the End, did to Gibson that caused him to go after Fender in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. When Gibson is in the middle of his Darkest Hour, the prior flashbacks get played again, all together this time to form a narrative instead of disjointed hints and implications, and we finally get to see exactly what Fender did.
- In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Arthur invites Eggsy for a drink after Harry's death, and Eggsy asks a question about one of the paintings in the room, prompting Arthur to glance at over at and provide a short answer. Soon afterward a brief flash of the scene is shown again, but this time Eggsy is shown switching out their drinks while Arthur is distracted by the painting.
- Severus Snape's memories, given to Harry Potter at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows give new meaning to several scenes from the previous books.
- Not only that, but it also causes one to reinterpret just about everything Snape said or did in the entire series, whether or not you thought Snape was a good guy or a bad guy.note
- Older Than Print: "The Three Apples", one of the stories from The Arabian Nights, is very possibly the Ur Example.
- In the Star Trek Expanded Universe novel Q-Squared, the scene with Q entering another plane of existence very forcefully happened twice: The second time after Q spent a literal eternity trying to get out of a Trelane-induced suspended animation (which included causing Gary Mitchell's megalomaniacal madness and powers in the pilot of Star Trek: The Original Series.)
- Two subsequent books in Koji Suzuki's Ring series, Spiral and Loop, end with the same scene, but from the point of view of two different characters, and with a second backstory established that changes how we perceive what's really going on.
- The Asimov short story In a Good Cause- opens and closes with a description of the biggest statue in the United Worlds plaza. The first time, it is simply a static description of the statue. The second time, the reader has knowledge that the idealistic guy whose statue it was did not truly deserve it (at least, not in his own eyes), and the person who did will never have credit.
- Lord Loss, the first book in Darren Shan's The Demonata series, opens with a poem about the eponymous demon. At first, the poem just seems to be simple character exposition... until the penultimate chapter of the final book in the series, nine stories later, which repeats the poem after some startling new developments. Appropriately enough, the chapter is titled Once More With Feeling.
- Belgarath and Polgara, the two prequel support novels for the Belgariad/Mallorean series by David Eddings, do this with a few events. In other cases it's more "Rashomon"-Style.
- The Mallorean Gospels do this for the seers of Kell. Their job is to choose which of the two prophecies will win, but they do not know which is good and which is evil. In the main plot this makes them seem almost aggressively Stupid Neutral, but the Gospels make their perspective a lot more reasonable and explains their behaviour, showing that they view the conflict as less Good Versus Evil and more Order Versus Chaos. It also points out that since the Orb and Torak were both responsible for cracking the world, it would be impossible for someone viewing from the sidelines to tell which is truly good or evil. It's telling that the gospels don't refer to the prophecies as "Light" or "Dark", but only "First" and "Second".
Live Action TV
- In one of the opening episodes, John Locke is shown amidst the wreckage of the plane crash. He stands up slowly and begins to walk around with absolutely none of the hysterical reaction to being in a plane crash experienced by the rest of the cast. The scene is shown again later, after it was revealed that Locke was a paraplegic before the crash, and it is clear that Locke's reaction (or lack of reaction) to the plane crash was caused by his amazement at suddenly being able to walk.
- "Expose" opens with a cryptic scene of Nikki charging out of the jungle, saying something incomprehensible and collapsing. The characters think she said "Paulo lies" and try to figure out why she and Paulo killed each other. Then we see the event from her perspective, and learn that she said "Paralyzed," as spider bites temporarily paralyzed them both...but the survivors can't figure this out in time.
- The BBC drama, Hustle, does this very well. They'll go back and show how many seemingly disconnected incidents from the episode actually fit together as part of the plan.
- One of the best was in the Series 2 finale: The gang frequently play small tricks/cons on Eddie, the barman, cheating him out of a few quid and some drinks. So when Mickey surreptitiously rewinds Eddie's watch, tricking him into leaving the bar open longer than he intended, it is seen as an ordinary occurrence. However, Mickey would use the same technique later in order to create an alibi - photographs that seem to show they were at a social event (hosted by the police, and actually presenting an award to Mickey!) at the time that they committed the robbery. A flashback shows the original incident again, just to remind us that we could have figured it out (and give those who did figure it out a moment to feel smug).
- Leverage often does the same as the Hustle example above, although the significance is usually fairly obvious the first time around if you're paying any attention at all. The Rashomon Job plays with it by showing the same heist four times as each of the thieves remembers it, with each simultaneously explaining more of the events and exaggerating others.
- Done on Dollhouse well, plenty of times.
- In addition to numerous episodes that played with memories along the basic premise of the show, each season of the show had a Distant Finale. The first season's finale, "Epitaph One", was mostly set about 10 years in the future but included several flashbacks to events that happened at some point before that but after season one. Some of those happened in season two, and by now things had changed enough that those scenes' meanings were very different.
- Criminal Minds episode "100" did this by making the audience think that a long tracking shot was in Hotch's point of view, when in fact, its the point of view of Agent Anderson, a very occasionally recurring character.
- The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials And Tribble-ations" is a rather elaborate version of this trope, in that, by inserting Deep Space Nine characters into the original series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", several events that occurred in the original are explained.
- For a minor example, the original episode had a famous moment where Kirk opens a hatch and is buried by tribbles; even after the flood has stopped, a few occasionally pelt him in the head. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reveals that Sisko and Dax were in the compartment, trying to find one specific tribble, and throwing the others aside (unintentionally hitting Kirk) after scanning them.
- An interesting variation occurs in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Timescape". Picard and three others, returning to the Enterprise in a runabout, find it in battle with a Romulan ship — and both frozen in time. They board the ship and see Romulans who've boarded; one has taken the helm from an Enterprise crewman, another is firing at Dr. Crusher, etc. Picard's group manage to rewind and restart the timeline, and discover that the Romulans were not attacking. They were being evacuated from their ship, while the Romulan firing at Dr. Crusher was actually firing at a time-shifting alien whose race caused the time stop.
- Babylon 5 has several examples.
- We see Londo's vision of him and G'Kar dying with their hands around each other's throats in the very first episode, but it's not until the third season that we know what's really going on, and not until nearly the end of the fifth season that we know how they got there.
- The Time Travel arc also does this: in the first season's "Babylon Squared", we see a mysterious masked figure doing mysterious things; in the third season's "War Without End", we see the same events, but now we're seeing them from the point of view of the folks in masks.
- Not to mention the episode where Delenn has to take a drug-induced flashback to when she was at Dukhat's side when he died. When seen the first time, it reveals that she cast the deciding vote in declaring war on the Humans, while stricken with grief over Dukhat's death. A later reviewing of the flashback, combined with some research in her family records, reveals that Dukhat was also trying to tell Delenn that she was descended from Valen.
- In the late fourth-season/early fifth-season episode "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", we see some archival footage that shows Garibaldi in what seems to be a hostage situation, attempting to convince his captors not to go through with their plan. The clip ends with a PPG blast, implying that Garibaldi was shot. In the mid-fifth-season episode "Phoenix Rising", it's revealed that the potential shooter was the one who was shot, by the leader of the group.
- And of course, the shot of Babylon 5's destruction. We see that same shot in different contexts no less than three times over the course of the series, with only the last shot in the series finale being what really happens.
- Steven Moffat really enjoys doing this with his episodes of Doctor Who.
- "The Girl in the Fireplace", "Silence in the Library", and "The Big Bang" all open with scenes from later in the show which don't seem to make any sense yet. The pre-title sequence to "The Big Bang", in particular, is thoroughly baffling until you see how it all pans out.
- We see disjointed snippets of a recording in "Blink" that appears to be half of a conversation. Later in the episode the same recording plays, but this time the main characters are providing the other half.
- In "Flesh and Stone", we see a dying and terrified Amy being comforted by the Doctor — which seems a bit odd, considering how erratic and busy he'd been just moments earlier (especially since there is an apparent wardrobe continuity error). He says to Amy to remember what he told her when she was seven...which makes no sense. Through the wibbly-wobbly-ness of "The Big Bang" we discover that it's a future Doctor, whose time-line is being erased, and he's trying to tell Amy how not to forget him.
- What makes it so very effective though, is that it doesn't necessarily seem that odd the first time round. It's not so very strange that the Doctor should realise he's been too distracted, and come back to comfort his dying friend before he has to leave. As a result, the scene stands on its own merits without seeming to stand out or demand explanation, and that makes the reveal so much more surprising when it comes.
- Also proving that most Viewers Are Geniuses, since many noticed that during that scene, the Doctor was not wearing his jacket and had rolled up sleeves... something incongruous with his outfit for the rest of the episode, as well as why the Doctor was so out of character.
- A big one occurs at the end of "The Eleventh Hour" where we see young Amy waiting and the Tardis is heard in the background. The scene cuts to adult Amy waking up suggesting a dream. Two and a half series later viewers finally got an explanation in Amy and Rory's final episode.
- The season three premiere of Castle begins with Beckett chasing Castle, ending up face-to-face, guns drawn at each other and firing. When we revisit the scene at the end of the episode, they're actually chasing a husband-and-wife criminal team, they're aiming at a suspect behind the other's shoulder, and both fire simultaneously to drop them.
- An episode of CSI: New York cold-opens with a wounded Mac Taylor suddenly facing a dual-wielding character played Edward James Olmos who has the drop on him and fires. By the time the end of the episode rolls around and we get to that scene it appears that he missed, and Taylor shoots him. Only for Taylor to realize that he didn't miss: he'd shot his brother, who had been about to shoot Taylor in the back.
- One episode of The 4400 opens with Tom and Diana pointing guns at each other. Flashbacks explain how they got to this point.
- Prison Break did this fairly often.
- Several times in How I Met Your Mother, mostly due to Future!Ted having to backtrack and explain bizarre situations that he glossed over the first time they tangentially appear onscreen, because they are entwined with a different story he's telling and would leave a Plot Hole, Noodle Incident or What Happened to the Mouse? if he didn't explain them. In one episode he literally can't remember how of one of the subplots he's describing went apart from a few details, and in his attempts to figure out the sequence of events he gets them wrong three times (winding up deducing that Barney managed to magically levitate a beer bottle for some reason), and actually gives up, telling his kids "I'm sorry, just forget about that, this story makes no sense whatsoever", only for his recounting of the episode's main plot to suddenly remind him how the story went about five minutes later — it happened several months after he initially thought it did, which is why it made no sense in context the first times he tried to tell it.
- Another example is during his story about his 30th birthday, he keeps cutting to the goat that he's inevitably going to get into a confrontation with... only to realize at the end of the episode, Robin was living with him during the incident, so it was actually his 31st birthday instead.
- There is a good chance the finale will do this with the overall story of How he meets the mother. In the final season, the episode How Your Mother Met Me has shown several previous episodes from her perspective and we see how those events were significant to her as well.
- In one episode, Marshall and Lily believe they are pregnant and Marshall remarks that nothing can bring him down from the high it produces. Cut to a gynecologist's office later, and they learn they aren't pregnant, and Marshall says "That did it." The story then cuts back to the middle, and we learn that Marshall and Lily are panicking at the thought of being parents and Marshall says that nothing can calm him down from his hysteria. Cut back to the gynecologist, showing that his "That did it" was actually an expression of relief, not disappointment.
- Done in the Supernatural episode "Roadkill" after the Tomato in the Mirror moment.
- Occurs in the Sanctuary episode "Requiem." In the prologue, we see Magnus asphyxiate, begging Will to turn on the air vents, while Will watches mercilessly from the next room, making him appear effectively evil. By the end of the episode, we realise that Magnus was actually the one with the evil incentive, and Will killed her to purge the parasite in her brain that was causing this before she killed them both.
- Done beautifully, relating to events that involved Angel, Spike, Darla and Drusilla during the Boxer Revolution near the turn of the 1900s. In the scene Angel congratulates Spike on a successful kill, and seems to be a little bored/unimpressed. It's only in the second showing that we realize how uncomfortable Angel must have been, since his soul and conscience had already been restored. - It's more compelling than it sounds, particularly because of the bizarre surprise factor; the first scene aired during an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the second version during an unrelated episode of Angel, aired on the same night.
- Season 7 of Buffy: "Everyone's talking to me! [lightbulb moment] Nobody's talking to each other."
- In the Season 4 premier of Buffy: Buffy answers a phone in her mother's house, says hello twice, and the caller hangs up without saying anything. Its never mentioned again. In the Series Premier of Angel (which took place at the same time), Angel calls Buffy's house, and we hear her say hello before he hangs up.
- Showtime: The scene where the Potentials argue around a table and the Scooby trio exchange looks and walk away, only to stare at each other silently in the kitchen, is later replayed to show that the trio was communicating an Unspoken Plan Guarantee via telepathy.
- In another Joss Whedon production, Firefly, the episode Trash opens up with Mal sitting in the desert, buck naked, dryly observing that "That went well." Get all the way to the end of the episode, and We learn that the crew was running a Xanatos Gambit on YoSafBridge. Mal had been in fact dryly observing that "That went well".
- Both My Name Is Earl and Raising Hope regularly feature flashbacks from the point of view of a characters who later come to realize that things didn't happen quite the way they thought, usually with regards to a different character being responsible for something they themselves had thought to be their fault.
- Jonathan Creek enjoys doing this as part of The Summation. For example, in "The Coonskin Cap" we see a scene which appears to be setting up a Ret Irony / Fatal Family Photo type moment by having a policeman proposing to his female colleague before she ends up being the villain's next murder victim. However at the end we see the scene again in flashback and it continues, showing the engagement ring-looking box actually contained a necklace he used to plant a false clue that she was killed by the villain when he did it himself, and that their relationship was less close than it seemed in the first scene.
- Why are The Aquabats! floating around in space at the beginning of the cartoon segments in The Aquabats! Super Show!? As revealed in the season finale, "Showtime!", the entire season is a time loop. Space Monster M throws the Battletram with the Aquabats in it into space.
- Overlaps with Artie's Heroic BSOD near the end of the fourth season of Warehouse 13, when he realizes that he is Brother Adrian.
- Also in the season 2 episode "Around The Bend". We see Pete talking with his police officer ex about an evil Regent, who subequently kills her. Then we see Myka and the very much alive ex watching CCTV footage of him talking to thin air while under the influence of a paranoia-causing artifact.
- Coupling, being written by Steven Moffat, does this a lot. Notable examples include "The Girl With Two Breasts", where Jeff's conversation with an Israeli girl takes a very different turn once we know what she's actually saying, and "Nine and a Half Minutes", in which Susan's reaction to her first conversation with Oliver becomes more understandable once we realise she thinks he's a gynocologist, not a sf bookshop owner.
- Also the Spiderman episode where a drunken woman talks to two men Actually one man and tells no one in particular that she really hates the poster on the wall of Munch's "The Scream" She's actually looking at her own reflection in a mirror.
- Hyde and Jackie in That '70s Show have their own take on how they hooked up, with Jackie having a more romantic view of it, while Hyde says that she just walked into the room and practically threw herself at him. Eventually the audience is shown what actually happened: They were watching TV and were so bored that they started making out.
- A similar situation happens when neither Red nor Kitty can remember exactly how they first met. When they finally do (Kitty was stone drunk at a USO dance and bumped into Red, who was mooning the crowd,) they decide that it was too embarrassing and just decide to go with Red's "I punched out a marine" version (while Kitty was reading to the blind) if Eric ever asks.
- Early on in Kamen Rider Gaim, before Kouta, Kaito, and Micchy use their Transformation Trinkets for the first time, they're all visited by a mysterious woman who resembles Mai and warns them that Vagueness Is Coming. Late in the series, Mai absorbs the Golden Fruit, takes on the traits of the mystery woman, and uses her powers try and Set Right What Once Went Wrong by warning the three not to become Kamen Riders because of all the terrible things that happened to them, but instead just says the same vague mumbo-jumbo we heard the first time around. Then we see a scene from a mid-series episode where DJ Sagara met with the mystery woman, except this time we get the full conversation, in which Sagara says that she doesn't have full control of her new powers yet and won't be able to use them how she wants, so her attempts to change history will inevitably fail.
- The Real Inspector Hound performs a bizarre twist of this in its second act. Within the first act of the show on stage, there are several non-sequitur lines by the characters. In the second act, when critic Birdboot, and later fellow critic Moon join the cast onstage, these events are replayed again with expanded dialog that alternately makes more sense and comes off as even more non-sequitur.
- In Dylan Thomas' Under Milkwood, when we first meet the character of Bessie Bighead we see her putting flowers on the grave of Gomer Owen who "kissed her once by the pigsty when she wasn't looking, and never kissed her again, although she was looking all the time." That line gets a laugh. Later on in the play, when we've learned more about Bessie—that she's what today we'd call Down Syndrome—and that Gomer only kissed her because he was dared by his buddies, there is almost always a gasp from the audience when they realize what they had previously laughed at.
- Done three times with the same event in The World Ends with You: Neku starts having flashbacks about his death that flip in meaning each time.first, he sees his dead body in Joshua's mind, and thinks that he's the one who found his body. Then, he sees Joshua pointing a gun and firing at him, and thinks he killed him.Then, he sees Joshua firing at Sho Minamimoto who was standing behind him, and Sho firing back supposedly killing Neku. At last, he sees the full picture, including Joshua stopping Sho's bullets and eventually killing Neku
- In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the Prince runs into the Sandwraith a few times. It does things reminiscent of the usual Evil Twin, like chucking an axe at the Prince's head or tossing him around a bit. Then when you get the mask of the sandwraith, it turns out the whole time the sandwraith was you. And most of the threatening things he did (that you're doing now) saved Prince's life. For instance, that axe from earlier flew past to hit a monster behind him that was about to shank him.
- In Final Fantasy VII, this happens twice. First, a replay of the destruction of Nibelheim from Sephiroth's point of view reveals that Cloud was never there and his memories are fake. The second time, we see the incident from Cloud's point of view with his real memories restored, and find out he was there after all: he was the masked guard who followed Zack and Sephiroth around and barely said a word.
- In Braid, this occurs in the last level. The first time through, the princess appears to be running from a knight, with you helping her to escape. Then it goes into reverse and you realize that all along, she's been running from YOU.
- In CROSS†CHANNEL, during Kiri's week, one of the questions he asks her after Shinkawa's suicide is whether he was happy or not. She says no, and he drops the issue. Later, the same scene is repeated and he reveals that he had been willing to forgive Shinkawa if he wasn't happy. However, whenever he had seen Shinkawa they had gotten along, so he HAD seemed so. Basically, he was hoping for him to be miserable and when he wasn't, he was
happy aboutindifferent to Shinkawa's death.
- This happens in most of the Ace Attorney cases. There will be a disembodied snippet of a conversation and a still shot that seems to incriminate the person the player will be defending. By the end of the case, the conversation and scene will be given context to better explain what happened.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations the opening scene of the fifth case makes use of this. The first showing seems to depict Edgeworth blaming Kay for setting the building on fire, while a later viewing shows that he is worried that she's trapped in the building.
- Case 1-4 has two unidentified people talking, with the first saying that they "suffered" and the other finding the idea to be odd. There is a gunshot, and then an image of Edgeworth holding the gun. The end of the trial reveals that the conversation was between Yanni Yogi and Edgeworth, with Edgeworth thinking he was actually talking to Amoral Attorney Robert Hammond (hence his surprise at the suffering line) and that Yogi faked being shot and surprised Edgeworth so much that he picked up the gun in a daze.
- In Call of Duty: Black Ops, during Revelations when Mason is finished hallucinating, Hudson reveals that Reznov has been dead since the second mission, and every appearance of him was in your head. All of his actions were either hallucinated or performed by Mason, and it shows several scenes from earlier in the game both as you saw them and with Reznov removed.
- The finale of Ether One leads the protagonist through parts of previous levels, which have gained more meaning after the reveal.
- The bonus content from arc V of Master of the Wind, coming immediately after The Reveal about who the Sparrow is, is a replay of several scenes from another perspective along with some new scenes from that perspective to show what was happening behind the scenes during this time. A few parts aren't changed at all though, except from the new knowledge.
- In Sonic Adventure 2, the first flashback we see of Shadow's final moments with Maria has her plead with Shadow: "For all the people on that planet". Shadow initially believes this to be Maria asking him to avenge her death and bring about earth's destruction. The same flashback is shown in the last story: this time, however, Maria is asking for Shadow to "give them a chance to be happy" and "let them live for their dreams". Upon realizing this, Shadow pulls a Heel-Face Turn and fights with Sonic against the Biolizard.
- A variant in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, which begins with a home video of Harry and Cheryl at the amusement park and loops right back to the beginning when it gets to a certain point. All four endings (excluding the UFO ending) show the footage that follows directly on the tape. All four of them revealing the true nature of Harry and Dahlia's relationship and Cheryl's life before Harry's death, revealing the footage from the amusement park to largely be a small window of normalcy in an otherwise mostly unhappy life, while Cheryl focused solely on that and convinced herself that that's what her whole life was like. Also Harry is a ghost or something.
- In Jade Empire, the first time the sacking of Dirge is seen, Master Li identifies the three central figures as himself, his brother the Emperor, and Death's Hand. When it's seen again later, it's revealed the armored figure is not Death's Hand but Li himself, and the man who appeared to be Li is a Spirit Monk, who Li followed and killed in order to take the infant player character, abandoning his armor, which allowed the Emperor to create Death's Hand..
- Used in The Reveal of Spec Ops: The Line that shows us just how much of an Unreliable Narrator Walker is.
- Palette revolves around B.D. trying to recover her memories, so this appears often. The biggest example is the scenes that Book End the process: the first memory she finds herself in is a highly spotty, vague Scene 46: Red of Beginning. Upon finding the final Memory Shard, 'Final Scene: Palette' kicks off with a restored version of 'Red of Beginning' and everything that followed.
- The opening of Grandia II shows us some world-building back story about the battle between Granas (God) and Valmar (The Devil). Late in the game Pope Zera expands upon the scene. If you thought it odd that in the opening movie the darkness seemed to be engulfing the light, well, there's a reason for that...
- Done by the end of the white chamber, where after Sarah enters the titular White Chamber, the wreckage of the space station reverts back to how it was and Sarah traverses the area as she recalls all the people she killed.
- In the opening of The Swapper, you hear fragments of a conversation over your radio. Much later, you find the security records, which have a video of the whole thing.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Annie and Kat's first meeting is shown from Annie's perspective in chapter 2 and it doesn't seem a very big deal at the time. Subsequently, the girls become close friends and the readers learn that neither girl had any friends at the school before, that both girls' parents had been friends years prior, and that Kat's mum — knowing that Annie was the daughter of her old friend—had encouraged Kat to befriend her. So the scene of their first meeting has a bit more weight when it's revisited from Kat's perspective in chapter 18.
- Due to the nature of time in Homestuck, this happens a lot. For example, we see the beginning of Dave's entry here, but we don't see what actually happened until the Act 4 closer. (Warning: MASSIVE SPOILERS!)
- For another, even bigger example, we know through Act 5 that Jack has been wreaking havoc all over the place, but because of the anarchic timeline (both in terms of us being presented with events out of order and in terms of the Medium facilitating time travel and cross-timeline confusion) it's difficult to put anything in order, and up until Cascade we still have no idea what caused Jack's bloody hand. In that flash, we finally see what caused it, and then re-watch the scenes we'd seen of him fucking shit up, in chronological order (from his POV) this time.
- In Sluggy Freelance, Chapter 59 ("bROKEN"), we are shown a scene twice. The first time, we are seeing the scene the way Torg remembers it. Later, we learn that Torg is suppressing memories, and we see the scene the way it really happened (major spoilers, of course).
- Near the end of Hitmen For Destiny, we see a a montage of various scenes we'd already seen, but now with the knowledge that the Triceratops at the restaurant, Inatario's girlfriend, and Lostclock's ghost were all actually Jymre, the shapeshifter.
- In El Goonish Shive, Rhoda's encounter with the boar is shown twice. The first time is at the beginning of the storyline and the second is at the end. The first time her arms are shown outstretched but her hands are off-panel. The second time her arms and hands are shown in a panel by themselves and the latter are seen to be glowing. The panel before that reveals she has a magic mark. The subsequent panels show the progression of the boar's growth as Rhoda's hands continue to glow until the boar reaches her. The third strip in the storyline is the first time we see the boar. It can be seen to appear to be shaking but it is actually finishing growing.
- In Darths & Droids, the first version of Vader's introduction leaves out some crucial dialog.
- The Olde English sketch "Photo Booth" plays with this, giving us repeated very-recent flashbacks to a couple in line for a photo booth. On the second use of the scene, we realize the couple, seemingly longtime lovers, met in the line. Then the trope is subverted when further flashbacks are actually different from what we'd seen.
- The sixteenth episode of Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction does this when it reveals that Church is the Alpha by revisiting not only clips from previous episodes of the series, but even one clip from the end of Blood Gulch Chronicles.
- It happens again in season 12 episode 10 when Felix reveals his collaboration with Locus: a number of scenes from Season 11 and earlier in Season 12 are elaborated on, detailing exactly how the two have been cooperating the entire time..
- The first episode has Nibbler's shadow visible on the floor of the cryotube room in which Fry is frozen. Nibbler himself doesn't appear until the fourth episode, and the reason why his shadow was on the floor isn't explained until the third season.
- In the episode where Nibbler's shadow is explained, Fry's shadow is visible on the floor, and that's explained still later.
- In an episode where Bender brings Hermes on an unsuccessful search for the product inspector who'd stamped him "Approved" at the factory, despite a faulty download-circuit, this trope is used at the end to reveal that Hermes was sabotaging Bender's pursuit all along, because he was the one who inspected baby Bender and didn't have the heart to scrap him because of this flaw.
- Mocked in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, when a flashback contains various additions like Peanut somehow snorkelling through the office in mid-air.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In an episode, Twilight Sparkle gets a message from her future self. Future!Twilight keeps trying to warn Present!Twilight about some disaster, but keeps getting interrupted so she can't finish the message. Twilight freaks out because she doesn't know what the warning was about. She goes crazy until she realizes what the message was about: There was no disaster. Future!Twilight was just going back in time to tell Past!Twilight not to worry, but since she couldn't finish telling her, Past!Twilight freaked out. We know this when we see Twilight go back in time, but this time we have the full context.
- Another example occurs across two Synchronous Episodes. In the first episode, Spike goes on a madcap adventure trying to look after his friends' pets while they're away until he winds up on the same train as his friends. Not knowing Spike is there, Twilight makes a comment that Spike should be doing a great job as long as he stays calm and collected, inadvertently teaching him a lesson in leadership and responsibility. When that scene plays again from Twilight's perspective at the end of the second episode, it turns out to be a summation of a lesson Princess Cadance taught her on remaining calm under pressure instead of freaking out like she normally would.
- Skewered beautifully in the Clone High episode "Sleep of Faith: La Rue D'Awakening," in which Gandhi realizes that the mysterious trucker who has been mentoring him all episode is a ghost or hallucination. He has a flashback montage of events from the episode... which, among other things, reveals him floating down the highway four feet above the pavement because the truck he was riding in never existed.
- The "Invisible Gorilla" experiment. The viewers of a video featuring people passing a basketball to each other is shown, and the experimenter (or teacher, as many psychology teachers also do this in class) tells the participants to pay attention to and count the number of passes. The first time watching the video viewers are distracted enough they don't usually don't notice it, but there is a random person in a gorilla suit who is visible on screen for a few seconds.
- This was used in a public service announcement about being cautious of cyclists, to great effect.