Prequel

A work that is produced after one installment but chronologically set prior to it.

Maybe the last entry in the series left no room for a sequel. Maybe the writers just want to explore the backstory. Either way, it's time for a Prequel, a Portmanteau of "Previous" and "Sequel": a sequel that is set chronologically before the previous work. On one hand, this allows for excellent foreshadowing. On the other, the prequel often heavily Ret Cons the backstory, it can have consequences that should have been mentioned in the original story, and it's difficult to keep up the tension when the audience knows how it ends.

For example, in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, various characters interact with others they would meet again in the original Star Wars trilogy, but in that film they show no evidence of recognizing them. Because the second Indiana Jones film was a prequel, audiences knew he would survive, and that he wouldn't get to keep the girl.

TV Series usually wrap a prequel in a Whole Episode Flashback. A movie may get a prequel TV series. Sometimes writers will squeeze a story between existing entries in a series, making it both a sequel and a prequel. Prequels are also an easy way to make use of an Expansion Pack World and introduce new conflicts without undermining the resolution of the previous work by introducing an even more ultimate evil. Occasionally said ultimate evil can get their own prequel with a Start of Darkness.

One issue with prequels in electronic media is that if they come out years after the original, you have the problem of technology in Real Life advancing to the point that special effects, graphics, etc. make the prequel look more advanced than the original, which ends up with a Cosmetically Advanced Prequel. Depending on the series, and the circumstances surrounding it, this can be overlooked, or jarring.

Remember, the term does not mean simply anything that took place before. It has to come out after the first thing, or it's merely a previous installment. None of the Rocky movies is a prequel, because they all take place after each other.

Is often, but not always, an Origins Episode.

Compare Backstory, Flashback, Interquel. Prequel in the Lost Age is a subtrope. Not to be confused with a certain Elder Scrolls fan webcomic.


Examples:

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    Anime/Manga 
  • Saiyuki Gaiden is the story of the main four's godly past lives (and in Goku's case, forcibly forgotten childhood). The author acknowledged in the first volume that the ending is obvious for anyone familiar with the main series, and used it to heighten the tension: the audience knew from the very first page that Konzen, Kenren and Tenpou are going to die, and that Goku will lose his memory and spend 500 years imprisoned. What we don't know is how, or when.
  • Spiral: Alive is the prequel to Spiral: Suiri no Kizuna, and mostly focuses on the serial murder of several Blade Children whose existence was missed by the Organization, and what the killer hopes to gain, involving Kiyotaka, Kousuke, Ryoko, Rio, and more.
  • Codename: Sailor V occupies the strange definition of being both a prequel, and the source, of Sailor Moon. This is because, though Sailor V came first; most of Sailor Moon came before Sailor V which ran sporadically and wrapped up after Sailor Moon ended.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing had a manga-only prequel named Episode Zero that showed formative moments from the early lives of the Gundam Pilots and Relena. The stories actually began life as a pair of flashback episodes that had to be cut when scheduling complications arose, and have the benefit of being penned by the show's head writer.
  • Fist of the Blue Sky is a distant prequel to Fist of the North Star, set in pre-World War II Asia. It doesn't have much to do with North Star, but stars Ryuken's elder brother and predecessor Kasumi Kenshiro, whom the Kenshiro from North Star was named after. The more recent spinoffs of Fist of the North Star are standard prequels and side-stories though, centering around characters from the original series (the 25th anniversary movie Hokuto no Ken Zero is a prequel set a year before the events of the original manga).
  • Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas tells the story of the previous Holy War between Hades and Athena, taking place 250 years before the original series.
  • Around the time the Ginga Densetsu Weed anime was made, a manga was created called Ginga Densetsu Riki, the prequel to the 1980s manga and anime Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin. This tells about Riki when he was a puppy and encounters his father Shiro.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes has two Gaiden series totalling 52 episodes which basically revealed the early military careers of Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wen-li before the start of the series proper.
  • Due to the Lupin III franchise's Negative Continuity, the only way to determine if a story is a Sequel or Prequel is if it is also an Origins Episode. A given episode or chapter cannot even promise if it happened before or after the last episode or chapter.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: JACK takes place 12-years prior to the main story, and focuses on a teenage Kishou Arima.
  • Handa-kun is a gag-comedy prequel to Barakamon that that features the main character's life in high school six years earlier.
  • Tezuka works tend to get some dubiously official prequels in order to explain how the main characters ended up the way they did. Young Black Jack fills in the holes of Dr. Black Jack's time in the Japanese medical field and how he came to abandon it, and Atom: The Beginning shows Professor Ochanomizu and Dr. Tenma as young scientists on the path to creating the technology that would one day help create Astro Boy.

     Audio Drama 

    Comic Books 
  • Many comic book prequels explain how things are different after a Retcon. For example, the Superman: Birthright miniseries by Mark Waid shows young Clark Kent's life in a different way than the Man of Steel miniseries by John Byrne had; the latter was canon until the former came out.
  • The ElfQuest comics had a number of prequels over the years, most notably Bearclaw. The title character was the father of Cutter, the hero of the original series. The Bearclaw series sets up many of the events which occurred before the main story began, and in particular explains the implacable enmity between the human and elf tribes which led to the humans burning the elves out of their forest home at the beginning of Elfquest #1.
  • Transformers Beast Wars had gotten prequels from Transformers: Timelines, in multiple media formats.
    • The "Dawn of Future's Past" comic book.
    • "Theft of The Golden Disk", which is a cartoon episode. Itself a prequel to "Dawn of Future's Past".
    • "The Razor's Edge". Text story made available on the Transformers fan club website.
  • The Smurfs' limited-edition 50th anniversary story "The Flute Smurfers" is a prequel to the Johan and Peewit story "The Smurfs And The Magic Flute", telling what the magic flute was originally made for. It should be noted, however, that the Smurf Forest in the prequel resembles the flourishing Sugar Bowl forest of the Smurf comic book series more than it does the sparse rock-filled forest of the Johan And Peewit story that chronologically follows it.
  • Disney Kingdoms: Figment is set to explore the origins of Disney Theme Parks characters Dreamfinder and Figment.
  • Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker is a prequel to the short film of the same name. It also gives background information that isn't in the short film.
  • Arkham Asylum: Living Hell is one. While published in the time frame between "Officer Down" and "Face the Face", it takes place before it (with a footnote even stating that it happened before Batman: No Man's Land) and features Jim Gordon, not Michael Akins, as police commissioner yelling at a doctor for releasing an inmate (which given both the "doctor" and the inmate are question are serial killers, with the former even stealing the real doctor's identity, one can't blame him) and Harvey Bullock as a police detective.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie Prequel is an unusual case. It's set prior to the events of My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), establishing the major new characters and settings. However, the actual release of the comics predates the film; the first issue was released in June 2017, four months prior to the movie's release.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Godfather Part II is at once a prequel and a sequel to the original film, jumping back and forth between the young Vito at the turn of the century and Michael in the '50s.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a prequel to the first film. As well, there was a TV series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
  • The second Star Wars trilogy provides the backstory for Anakin Skywalker's fall to the Dark Side and the formation of the Galactic Empire. Some viewers objected to the way the series has Anakin interact with characters he does not seem to recognize later in the original trilogy. The Expanded Universe attempts to retcon some of the discrepancies away.
    • This despite the fact that Anakin/Vader was in the same scene in both trilogies with only a handful of characters. To wit, Palpatine, Obi Wan, Boba Fett (using a very generous definition of "with"), Tarkin and C3P0. In each case except the last, he does recognize them, with C3P0, well when they meet in Empire Strikes Back, Vader was kind of preoccupied.
    • The Prequels also show a far more advanced galaxy than the Original trilogy, despite it being over two decades earlier. Justified to an extent as most of the Original trilogy takes place in the galactic boondocks or on Naval Ships while the Prequels are set in the main part of the galaxy. OTH, George Lucas says that was deliberate, as the prequels were a more "civilized age".
    • Rogue One is another prequel of A New Hope, ending very shortly (possibly minutes) before the first movie kicks off.
  • Cruel Intentions II is a prequel to Cruel Intentions.
  • The Tsui Hark movie A Better Tomorrow III was the prequel to the two John Woo movies that would kick off the Heroic Bloodshed genre. It follows Chow Yun-Fat's Mark Gor as he goes to Saigon, falls in love, and develops into the gunslinging badass that we know from A Better Tomorrow. And no, he does not keep the girl.
  • Uwe Boll's House of the Dead is actually a prequel to the video games. Its canonicity is disputable.
  • Mallrats is set the day before the events in Clerks.
  • The Scorpion King is supposed to be a prequel to The Mummy Returns, although the fact that there is nothing to indicate that Mathias will turn evil appears to break that connection. However, Word of God is that the Scorpion King featured in The Mummy Returns is actually Mathias's Identical Grandson. It is probably more of a spin-off than a true prequel.
    • The Direct-to-Video film The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior is a prequel to The Scorpion King, making it a prequel to a prequel.
  • Paranormal Activity 2 is (mostly) a prequel to the first film. Its follow-up, Paranormal Activity 3, is a prequel to the second film.
  • Final Destination 5 isn't explicitly advertised as such, instead opting for a Twist Ending in which the final two survivors of the bridge collapse die in the Flight 180 disaster that started the first film. However, some of the trailers spoiled this by showing new footage of Flight 180.
  • The Thing (2011) is set less than a week before the first movie; it shows how the monster was first discovered and what did to the Norwegian base.
  • Although the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are standalone for the most part, their internal chronology makes Captain America: The First Avenger a prequel as it takes place entirely before the events of Iron Man.
  • Most people would be surprised if you pointed out that The Muppet Movie was actually a prequel to The Muppet Show. Unless they've actually seen them. of course, since it's blindingly obvious that many of the various characters who are friends or at least co-workers of long standing on Show are meeting for the first time in Movie.
  • Both X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: First Class serve as prequels to the original X-Men trilogy. X-Men: Days of Future Past, meanwhile, is an odd example in that it is both a prequel and a sequel to the original trilogy, concluding with a Cosmic Retcon that deletes the entire trilogy, and probably Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine also, from the timeline. That means its sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse, while still taking place years before the original trilogy, isn't a prequel anymore (if one wants to nitpick very much, it is still technically a prequel, since the ending of Days features the aforementioned retconned timeline set during the original trilogy's time period.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes to the Planet of the Apes film series.
    • More like a reboot. The third, fourth and fifth films of the original series were Prequels to the first two, however; the third qualifies as both a Prequel (from the Verse's point of view) and a Sequel (from that of the ape characters).
  • Terminator Salvation is a bit of an oddball because of the series's heavy use of time travel. It is a sequel to Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, but a prequel to the events of the original The Terminator.
  • Prometheus is described as a "semi-prequel" to the Alien series.
  • AVP: Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem were also prequels to Alien, but in the wake of this new film, their canon it difficult to determine.
  • Red Dragon is a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs. The novel had already been adapted to film as Manhunter, but the original version did not fit into the film series with Anthony Hopkins as Lecter. The same goes for Hannibal Rising.
  • Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd is a prequel to Dumb and Dumber.
  • Both Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Prequels to the original film in two different perspectives (of the directors; the former is the result of a complex Executive Meddling for the latter).
  • Tremors 4: The Legend Begins is the fourth and final film in the Tremors series and a prequel to the earlier movies.
  • The Hobbit trilogy is set before The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This doesn't apply to the books, though: The Lord of the Rings was a proper sequel.
  • There is no Word of God and it wasn't marketed as such, but The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the last movie in the Dollars Trilogy, is a prequel to the other two. It takes place during the The American Civil War (1861–1865), while a grave stone dated 1873 is clearly seen in the first movie(A Fistful of Dollars). 'Blondie' also gains the iconic clothes note  he wears in the two other movies during the last third of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
  • Cube Zero is a prequel to the original Cube. The main character suffers the same fate as Kazan from the original, but since they couldn't get the original actor they're only vaguely implied to be the same person. The continuity in this series is already marginal at best due to having different creators for each entry who all had different ideas on what the mythology should be.
  • Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning is a distant prequel to the first Ginger Snaps featuring the apparent ancestors of the Fitzgerald sisters encountering a werewolf in a completely different time period.
  • The western Nevada Smith, is a prequel to the The Carpetbaggers, a film about the movie industry.
  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is the prequel to the Underworld series.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a prequel to the Harry Potter movies. The first movie is mild about the connection with the films (other than having Newt Scamander and Grindelwald in it), but next installments are meant to be much more connected and will star characters like Dumbledore when they were young.
  • Insidious: Chapter 3 is set before the events of the first film, showing what Elise, Specs, and Tucker were up to before they become involved with the Lamberts.
  • Annabelle is set a year before the titular doll is retrieved by the Warrens in the opening scene of The Conjuring.
  • As indicated in the title, Ouija: Origin of Evil details the Start of Darkness of the main villains of Ouija, with a setting some fifty years prior.
  • As the events of Wonder Woman (2017) happened before and in the same universe of Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice then is a prequel of both, though more directly connected to the latter.

    Literature 
  • Several books in the 'The Chronicles of Narnia series are prequels or interquels to books written before.
    • This is further complicated by the fact that the prequels assume that the reader is reading the books in the published order. The Magician's Nephew, for example, is the first novel (chronologically speaking, but the 6th in the publishing order), but unless one has read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (the 2nd novel chronologically speaking), one can miss a lot of the subtext and the deeper meanings worked into the novel.
    • While the author and most experts agree that you should read them in order of release rather than chronology, the publisher continues to insist on numbering them in chronological order, further confusing new readers.
    • Complicating matters is the fact that the events of Book 5 are in fact taking place during the final chapter of Book 1.
  • Before Narnia there were James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, published in this order: 4, 2, 5, 3, 1.
  • When Jennifer Fallon was writing the prequels to her Demon Child series, she had a large board labelled "These People Must Die" next to her desk, indicating characters she had to kill off before the end of the prequel series in order to avoid having to explain their absence in the original series.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas of are set hundred years before the main series. They portray the golden age of House Targaryen and feature many "legendary" characters from the main series, and links between the books have surfaced, including the Myth Arc relating to "The Prince That Was Promised" and the revelation in A Dance with Dragons of Lord Bloodraven, a supporting character in the earlier series alive in the present.
    • Archmaester Gyldayn's Histories are another series of novellas going back even further to a Civil War known as the Dance of the Dragons that took place 70 years before Dunk and Egg and 170 years before the main series. The Rogue Prince takes place before The Princess and the Queen, making it a prequel of a prequel.
  • David & Leigh Eddings wrote prequels of their The Belgariad and The Malloreon decalogy, in which all "hidden" details, Noodle Incidents, and Unspoken Plans are explained. Interestingly, the Framing Device was a sequel, where the main characters are asked to write their memories.
  • Fate/Zero is a series of novels that detail the events leading up to famous Visual Novel Fate/stay night. Considering the relatively short timespan between the two story-wise (ten years), much of the events in Zero had a significant impact on stay night.
  • When The Tripods Came, the prequel to The Tripods trilogy.
  • The Star Trek: Terok Nor novel trilogy; Deep Space Nine prequels set during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor.
  • Timothy Zahn wrote 'Survivor's Quest before Outbound Flight; Outbound Flight takes place about fifty years before Survivor's Quest. Only a few characters overlap. Outbound Flight could also sort of count as a prequel to The Thrawn Trilogy, since the events of the novel involve a younger Thrawn becoming aware of The Empire which he later joins.
    • This is actually inaccurate: although in an early interview, Zahn appears to claim that he wrote them in this order (comparing the books to the movie series), he later made it clear that Outbound Flight was completely written before he even conceived of Survivor's Quest. Outbound Flight was originally supposed to be released around the same time as Attack of The Clones, but it got held back until after Revenge of The Sith came out.
  • Dragons of Requiem has the Dawn of Dragons trilogy, which was released three years after the original trilogy. It takes place three thousand years before Song of Dragons and shows who founded and built Requiem, and how the Vir Requis united as a whole.
  • The Silmarillion is an example of how good some of these can be. None of the foreshadowing starts till the end of the Quenta Silmarillion, with Akallabêth and On the Rings of Power and the Third Age.
    • Not a wholly straightforward example though, since Tolkien started writing The Silmarillion long before he wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (in fact, The Hobbit was not initially part of the same continuity) and continued afterwards. Consider also that the main events of The Silmarillion are set thousands of years before The Lord of the Rings (though a few characters are still in both.) Akallabêth and On the Rings of Power... are (admittedly long) epilogues to the main narrative, with the latter bringing the action to the time of LOTR.
    • Especially true because Tolkien didn't actually write The Silmarillion ... he wrote a lot of background material for LOTR, in many drafts and revisions, and then used tiny fragments of them in LOTR to suggest that it had its own tales and legends. After he died his son pieced together a mostly-consistent narrative out of the background material and published it. Then he started publishing the Unfinished Tales series, which were various drafts of stuff that didn't get used in The Silmarillion (many of these being earlier drafts of pieces that did get used; confused yet?).
  • Julian May's Saga of the Exiles has a series of sequels- Intervention and the Galactic Milieu Trilogy. Due to the nature of the series, they're chronologically later than the original series.
  • New Spring is a prequel to The Wheel of Time series, taking place about 20 years before The Eye of the World. What's particularly jarring is that it's actually a lot better written than the previous few books.
  • In the Ryanverse:
    • Without Remorse covers the backstory for John Clark formerly Kelly, set before Jack Ryan, Sr becomes an adult.
    • Patriot Games occurs before The Hunt for Red October, in which there are a few off-hand references to PG's events.
    • Red Rabbit takes a step back to the very start of Jack Ryan, Sr's involvement with the US government, though was published after Executive Orders.
  • Sergey Lukyanenko:
    • Dances on the Snow takes place about a century prior to the events of Genome, the first novel of the series. However, the author insists that Genome should still be read first, even though the novels target completely different issues (Designer Babies in Genome, Cloning Blues in Dances on the Snow) and don't feature any of the same characters (except for one mentioned off-hand).
    • Lukyanenko's short story Shadows of Dreams is a prequel to Line of Delirium, as it describes one of Arthur's previous failed attempts to get to Grail with a teenage girl as his bodyguard. The latter is not revealed until the end of the short story, though.
  • Warrior Cats has two prequels called Bluestar's Prophecy and Crookedstar's Promise, which chronicle life in the clans a few years before the first arc. Also, the fifth arc Warrior Cats: Dawn of the Clans is a prequel set fifty years before the first book.
  • Wolfram von Eschenbach's unfinished epic poem Titurel was a prequel to his Parzival.
  • The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor is a prequel to the comicbook series The Walking Dead.
  • Shannara by Terry Brooks:
  • During the 80s, Isaac Asimov wrote two prequels to Foundation. He also wrote two sequels that retroactively made much of his output into this (the Susan Calvin-verse Robot stories became connected to the Bailey novels, and the Bailey novels became connected to the Foundation novels). Then there is the Empire trilogy, where the last fairly unambiguously is a prequel to Foundation, while the first two are a bit more debatable (they are part of the setting — though only the first is followed up on later — but due to the serializing and when the early Asimov stories were remade into novels it is a bit hard to say whether Foundation is a sequel or Pebble in the Sky/The Stars, Like Dust are prequels).
  • The House of Night:
    • Dragon's Oath, about Dragon's past and his relationship with Anastasia.
    • Lenobia's Vow, about Lenobia's past.
    • Neferet's Curse, which relates Neferet's past.
  • The Provost's Dog books are set over 100 years before the rest of the novels in the Tortall Universe, and feature the main protagonist Beka Cooper, who's the ancestor to other characters George and Aly. While the main plot is very much self-contained, it does show a bit about how Tortall came to be the way it is, including the outlawing of slavery and the decline of the female knights.
  • Hannibal Rising is a full indication of just how badly these can go.
  • The novels The Stolen Throne and The Calling are prequels to Dragon Age: Origins. The former deals with the liberation of Ferelden from under the boot of the Orlesian Empire, while the latter introduces the Expansion Pack, explains how the Grey Wardens were allowed back into Ferelden, and hints at the origins of a major character.
  • By the same token, Mass Effect: Revelation is a prequel to the first Mass Effect game, revealing the history between Captain Anderson and Saren, as well as how Saren found Sovereign.
  • Joanne Harris's The Gospel Of Loki serves as a prequel to her earlier fantasy novels Runemarks and Runelight. However, as a lifelong Norse Mythology fan, Harris likely worked out the basic plot of Gospel long before writing the other two books, much as Tolkien did with The Silmarillion and the hobbit books.
  • In the Amber Brown series, the A is for Amber books featured rather younger versions of Amber and Justin, before Justin moved away and Amber's parents got divorced.
  • Assassin's Creed: Underworld is a prequel to Assassin's Creed: Syndicate starring Henry "The Ghost" Green, the leader of the British Assassins at the time and The Mentor to the Frye Twins.
  • The Kharkanas Trilogy is a prequel to the Malazan Book of the Fallen, set in The Time of Myths and telling an important part of the setting's backstory. It originally seemed like there was no need for a prequel as the backstory is covered quite extensively in the main series, however it turns out that a few millennia of time can change what actually happened into myths hardly related to the truth anymore. So even knowing how events eventually play out, how things ended up the way they did is a wholly different matter, sometimes overturning supposedly known facts without actually contradicting them.
  • Several Halo novels serve as this, including Halo: The Fall of Reach and Halo: Contact Harvest; the former focuses on the SPARTAN-II program, while the latter focuses on Sergeant Johnson and first contact with the Covenant. Another example is the The Forerunner Saga trilogy, a distant prequel that takes place during the time of the Forerunners.
  • Horatio Hornblower: The first book published, The Happy Return (Beat to Quarters in some regions) was intended as a stand-alone novel, but later became part of a multi-book arc (Ship of the Line, Flying Colours, The Commodore and Lord Hornblower). Hornblower and the Atropos, Hornblower and the Hotspur, Lieutenant Hornblower and Midshipman Hornblower, as well as the short stories The Hand of Destiny and Hornblower and the Widow McCool all take place before the events of The Happy Return.
  • The Kill Order and The Fever Code are both prequels to the main trilogy of The Maze Runner series, taking focus to the background story and lore. The former tells the story of the first outbreak of the Zombie Apocalypse approximately a decade before the events at the Glade, while the latter is a direct prequel to the first book.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, the novella Time and Relative by Kim Newman is set shortly before "An Unearthly Child". There are also about ten short stories in the Short Trips series set prior to the TARDIS landing in Totter's Lane.
  • Jack Campbell's The Genesis Fleet series is set in the same universe as his The Lost Fleet books, but centuries earlier, during the formation of The Alliance. In the Vanguard novel, the recent invention of the jump drive has rapidly sped up the expansion of humanity into the galaxy. However, Old Earth's influence is waning, and the once mighty Earth fleet is being decommissioned. Even the old colonies are no longer the beacon of civilization they once were. The new colonies must fend for themselves in the face of pirates, slavers, and hostile colonies. The novel is focused on a number of characters, two of which appear to be the ancestors of key characters from the main series: Lieutenant Robert Geary of the recently-settled Glenlyon (in fact, the colony isn't even named at the start of the book) and Sergeant Dominic Desjani (although he doesn't appear until about two thirds of the way into the book) of the slightly more established Kosatka. Glenlyon finds itself the target of an expansionist militant colony called Scatha and, with no defense forces to speak of, must figure out a way to survive, its leaders realizing that colonies in similar situations must band together for common protection.

    Live Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Enterprise, which is set 100 years before Kirk's time period.
  • The Dirty Harry parody TV series Sledge Hammer! ended its first season by blowing up Los Angeles, since the producers were expecting the series be canceled. When, much to their surprise, the series was picked up for a second season, they had to set it five years before the finale and called it Sledge Hammer: The Early Years.
  • Caprica is a rare example of a prequel TV series (to Battlestar Galactica). The prequel is so far separated in time (it begins 58 years before BSG) that only one character, William Adama, is shared between them—and while he was unquestionably the male lead in BSG, he's a secondary (if important) character in Caprica (and the vast time difference makes things, if anything, more interesting: How does he go from Willie Adama, gangster-in-training, to William "The Old Man" Adama, hardened officer of the Colonial Fleet?)
    • He doesn't. He dies, and his father has another son with his second wife whom they name William. He is the one who will become "The Old Man".
  • Young Hercules, a prequel TV series to Hercules: The Legendary Journeys with a young Ryan Gosling portraying a much younger version of Kevin Sorbo's title character.
  • Rock and Chips (originally announced as Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Chips), a prequel to Only Fools and Horses which is set in 1960, and tells the story of Joan and Freddie the Frog. It's a bit of a Genre Shift, being a rather downbeat drama with some laughs rather than the traditional sitcom of the original (and The Green Green Grass).
  • There's a very popular, long-running Italian police-detective show, Inspector Montalbano. In 2012, the spinoff Young Montalbano appeared alongside it, about Montalbano as a young man.
  • Inspector Morse has spawned the prequel series Endeavour, about the young Morse (as well as a sequel series, Lewis, starring Morse's sergeant/sidekick). This allows more stories about Morse on TV, even though both the character and the actor have died.
  • Better Call Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad and focuses on the life of Amoral Attorney Saul Goodman seven years before he first met Walter White. At the time Saul still goes by his birth name of Jimmy McGill and has yet to have his Start of Darkness that would make him such a key player in the Heisenberg saga. Similarly, Mike Ehrmantraut has just arrived in Albuquerque and has yet to embark on his career as a criminal fixer.
  • Fear the Walking Dead depicts the very beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse that The Walking Dead takes place in the aftermath of (albeit thousands of miles away).
  • Dickensian, a Massive Multiplayer Crossover of all Charles Dickens's charcaters is set prior to the novels (with, the writer admits, some fudging of dates). So Ebeneezer Scrooge is still a miser, Miss Havisham is a young woman who's just met Compeyson, Inspector Bucket has just become a detective, and so on.
  • Smallville and Gotham are prequels of the Superman and Batman mythos respectively.
  • The mini-series Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is the prequel of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, sadly made because the main actor suffered from cancer (that eventually caused his death) and therefore the producers have to made something without him to entertain the audience in the hopes he would recover. He didn't so they went for The Other Darrin route.
  • Black Sails is a prequel to Treasure Island. It shows how Captain Flint got the Urca gold and why he put it on Treasure Island. It also provides backstory for various characters from the book, including Long John Silver, Billy Bones, Israel Hands and Ben Gunn.
  • Prime Suspect 1973 is a prequel to Prime Suspect, about WPC Jane Tennison at the beginning of her career dealing with even more sexism than she will as DCI Jane Tennison.

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Legend of the Five Rings CCG featured two prequel sets: Scorpion Clan Coup, about the events that set the Clan War in motion, and Dawn of the Empire, which finally put the legendary gods and heroes of Rokugan's founding into CCG form.

    Theater 
  • While Oedipus the King is chronologically the first play of Sophocles' Theban trilogy, is was the second in production order, making this trope Older Than Feudalism.
  • William Shakespeare did it too. The second history tetralogy (Richard II, Henry IV (1&2), and Henry V) were prequels to the first history tetralogy (Henry VI (1,2&3) and Richard III). And even those probably weren't written in order either; Henry VI 2, 3, and Richard III are almost one long play in three parts, the first part of Henry VI may well have been written a few years later.
  • Another Part of the Forest by Lillian Hellman was a prequel to her play The Little Foxes set 20 years earlier.
  • Cirque du Soleil's Toruk - The First Flight is the prequel to Avatar, retelling the story of the first Toruk Makto (an individual who manages to tame and ride a toruk in a time of great peril for the Na'vi) in the 9th century BC. The Tree of Souls is threatened by a volcanic eruption, and the Omaticaya clan sends a brave young hunter to gather the five items he needs in order to tame the toruk and and use the creature as a symbol to unite the clans and save the Tree. The hunter, Ralu, fails, but his friend Entu, a failed hunter, succeeds. The clans manage to rally even without the Toruk Makto, but their efforts to save the tree prove futile. Then Entu appears on the back of the toruk, and the creature manages to put out the flames, dying during the act. The Storyteller then reveals that he is Entu. There is some discontinuity there, as the Storyteller appears to be telling all this to the Sky People (i.e. humans), except humans didn't make it to Pandora until the 22nd century. It's highly doubtful that Entu has lived for so long.

    Video Games 
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals serves as a prequel, starring the hero that appeared in the prologue and was the ancestor of the Player Character in Lufia & The Fortress of Doom.
  • In Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis the main villain is a Soviet general called Guba, and one of the protagonists is a US special forces soldier by the name of Gastovski. The expansion pack Resistance features a new campaign set three years earlier, in which then-colonel Guba leads the Soviet invasion of a different island than those featured in the original game, and Gastovski is there to lend the locals a hand. Naturally, there are zero references to this earlier armed conflict in the original game.
  • The Legend of Zelda practically runs on this trope. Only Zelda II: The Adventure of Link occurs chronologically after the original game.
    • Skyward Sword is chronologically the first game in the series, serving as an origin story for the Master Sword, the Kingdom of Hyrule, and even why evil is always able to rear its ugly head again and again, particularly with regards to Ganon's inability to stay fully dead.
    • Minish Cap, chronologically the second game in the series, is the prequel to the Four Swords trilogy, explaining the origins of both the Four Swords and Vaati.
    • Ocarina of Time is a prequel to A Link to the Past; which in turn is a prequel to The Legend of Zelda I.
  • Tales of Symphonia takes place thousands of years before Tales of Phantasia, the game it precedes, and this is only known through references in the game, rather than being explicitly stated... such as the two worlds having the same names as the two moons of Aseria in Phantasia, the existence of Martel who guards a giant tree named Yggdrasill, the world maps in Symphonia being that of Phantasia split in two, Suzu and Sheena Fujibayashi, the Eternal Sword, discrimination against half-elves (although it's not as big a plot point in Phantasia as it was in Symphonia), Magitek flying machines (the Techbirds of Phantasia and the Rheairds of Symphonia have very similar designs, and in both games powering them up involves gaining the aid of the lightning summon spirit Volt).
  • In Dragon Quest III, you play what appears to be a standalone game in the series, only towards the end you end up in an alternate universe — the universe of the first 2 Dragon Quest games. Only it's hundreds of years before Dragon Quest I. At the end of the game, your hero is given the title of Loto (Erdrick in the original US translation) — which is the name of the legendary hero that the Dragon Quest I character is descended from...
    • The second trilogy (IV, V, and VI) also appear to follow this format, though much more ambiguously.
  • Infocom's Interactive Fiction game Zork Zero is, as the name implies, a prequel to the company's previous Zork and Enchanter trilogies.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Clear Sky is a prequel to S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a prequel to the entire series and details the backstory and Start of Darkness of Big Boss.
  • Street Fighter is pretty bad about this. After the constant updates of Street Fighter II, the Street Fighter Alpha series arrived onto the scene in 1995, with the purpose of fleshing out the backstory by... showing what happened in between the original Street Fighter/Final Fight and Street Fighter II. After Street Fighter III (as well as 2nd Impact and 3rd Strike) came and went, Street Fighter IV comes out and... it takes place after II and before III.
    • IV could substitute II in the chronology, since thanks to the RetCons, it adds virtually nothing to the chronology.
  • Most media associated with Final Fantasy VII (also known as the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII) take place before the titular game. In fact, the franchise only has one video game sequel, Dirge of Cerberus, which is set a few years after the ending of the game.
    • Before Crisis is set six years before VII, with the focus shifting to a brand of villains that got retconned.
    • Crisis Core is set four years before VII and explores about an important Posthumous Character who influenced that game's main protagonist. The ending even outright sequences into the opening of VII.
  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy gets Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy (yes, really), which takes place on the previous iteration of the "Groundhog Day" Loop.
    • The prequel's title kinda makes sense, given that it's about the twelfth ('Duodecim' being Latin for twelve) iteration of the cycle of conflict in which the game is set (with the first game being set in the thirteenth and final repetition), but that doesn't stop it from just sounding pretentious and strange.
    • Completely unrelated to all above, the series is technically a prequel to the first Final Fantasy I, as the game's setting is revealed to be a copy of that game's world ("World B", as opposed to "World A"). The ending shows the Warrior of Light setting up for another adventure in World A (the first game's storyline), with other heroes returning back to their own homeworlds.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep takes place roughly ten years before the events of the first game. The secret ending includes a Distant Finale that takes place right after Kingdom Hearts II.
    • Kingdom Hearts X not only takes place long before every other game, including Birth by Sleep, but immediately before the Keyblade War which made the universe the way it is throught the rest of the series.
  • Devil May Cry 3 is a prequel to the first Devil May Cry game. 4 is technically a prequel too, as it still takes place before the second. In in-universe chronological order, the games go 3, 1, 4, 2 - and they've been going out of their way to deny 2 ever happened.
    • Ninja Theory's reboot of the series is rumored to be set before 3, if it takes place in the same continuity at all.
  • Castlevania had its first game set in 1691, but there have been games set before this time. And a shitload of sequels/interquels. So much so that the main climax isn't even a game yet!
  • Assassin's Creed:
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a prequel to Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Invisible War. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a sequel to Human Revolution and the second prequel to the original Deus Ex.
  • According to Word of God, Nexus: The Jupiter Incident is an unofficial prequel to the Imperium Galactica series, as it was originally planned as Imperium Galactica III: Genesis before getting stuck in Development Hell and switching developers and publishers several times. The basic storyline has not changed from the original, though.
  • I Miss the Sunrise expands on and explains the shocking Sequel Hooks dropped at the end of The Reconstruction.
  • The mod/scenario Fall from Heaven: Age of Ice, included in Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword, is a prequel to the popular mod Fall From Heaven II. The original mod is set in the fantasy world of Erebus at the start of the Age of Rebirth. The prequel scenario shows how the previous age (the Age of Ice) was ended by a hero unifying a scattered tribe and vanquishing a god.
  • Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist is a prequel to Leisure Suit Larry, set in The Wild West. Zircon Jim Laffer is an ancestor of Larry Laffer.
  • Child of Eden is said to be a prequel to ''Rez', although some call it a spiritual sequel.
  • Halo: Reach: Since the game retells a well-known catastrophe in the franchise's backstory, much of the plot and marketing played on the drama of the Foregone Conclusion.
  • The entire Ace Combat series released after Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere.
  • The Tale Of ALLTYNEX brings us RefleX (2008), which is a prequel to KAMUI (1999). RefleX in turn is preceded by ALLTYNEX Second (2010). Amusingly, the latter two games in the series are remakes of existing games: Reflection (1998) and ALLTYNEX (1996), meaning that retroactively, the series was still released in straight chronological order.
  • The Sonic Boom Licensed Game is a prequel to the TV show.
  • Yoshi's Island is a prequel to the Super Mario Bros. series.
  • Word of God has stated that Shadow of the Colossus is the prequel to ICO.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 2 is a stealth prequel, thus explaining why Phone Guy is alive and the restaurant is still running. It actually takes place shortly before "The Bite of 1987".
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 4 is either this or a P.O.V. Sequel to 2. If it's the former, it reveals that there was also a "Bite of 1983." If it's the latter, then it shows a child who is scared of Freddy and friends who ultimately becomes the Bite of 1987 victim.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, thanks to a certain secret ending from the game's update, is implied to be a prequel, though just what it is a prequel to is hard to pinpoint. Basically, the game is designed as such that it could be placed at any point in the timeline. For a full answer: it might be an Origins Episode for the main antagonist and thus take place before the events of other games in the series, it might happen sometime in between 4 and 3 and explain about the antagonist's previously unmentioned son (though there's no stopping for the son to appear before 4 either), or it might be unconnected to any game thus far, because the antagonist's name is not fully confirmed to be his canonical name (it was previously revealed in a non-canon spinoff novel).
  • One of the endings of House of the Dead 4 sets up the game as a prequel to House Of The Dead 3. It gets this in your face by telling you to go back and play House Of The Dead 3 after you managed to get said ending.
    • Meanwhile, Overkill is set before any other game in the series, identifiable because Agent G is introduced as being sent on his first assignment here.
  • Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, rather than simply being remakes of the original Ruby and Sapphire, add new plot points touching upon the origin of Mega Evolution and the war in Kalos 3,000 years before the start of the series, tying them into Pokémon X and Y. According to Word of God, the former two take place an unspecified amount of time before the latter two.
  • The Stinger in the ending for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker reveals that the game actually takes place before Super Mario 3D World, as Captain Toad winds up in 3D World's opening cutscene. Captain Toad follows Mario and crew down the clear pipe, which also explains how he wound up in the Sprixie Kingdom in said game.
  • The Game Boy Advance game The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Pumpkin King is a prequel to the animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas that explains how Jack Skellington first encountered Oogie Boogie and why they hate each other.
  • While most sequels in the Silent Hill series are standalone, the first game has a prequel in the form of Origins that focuses on a new protagonist who is nevertheless involved with the characters of 1.

    Webcomics 
  • Webcomic parody: In this strip of Dinosaur Comics, God publishes a sequel to the Bible, then a prequel that takes place in the universe before this one.
  • The Aikonia webcomic is one to the videogame of the same name.
  • In a way, Hivebent is one for Homestuck, revolving around the trolls' session without any input from the kids. Of course, it's later revealed that without the kids, their entire session couldn't have happened.
  • The Order of the Stick has had two print-only books. The first, numbered 0, is On The Origin of PCs, which shows what the heroes were doing before joining together. The second, #-1, is Start of Darkness, which shows the backstory and origins of Team Evil leaders Xykon and Redcloak, along with how the Monster in the Dark ended up as their secret weapon.
  • Contest Jitters is one for Satin Steele.
  • Prequel, the aforementioned Elder Scrolls fan webcomic, is is one for Oblivion

    Web Original 
  • Season 9 of Red vs. Blue began showing a prequel story delving into the backstory of Project Freelancer.

    Western Animation 
  • The 90's cartoon short Another Froggy Evening appeared to be a prequel for most of the cartoon, where Michigan J. Frog appears in earlier time periods and meets characters who resemble the man who discovered him in the original short, but this is subverted in the Twist Ending: Michigan eventually reaches a desert island, and the castaway that sees him thinks of him as food rather than a chance to exploit him for fame. Just before the frog was put in a cooking pot, however, he was then abducted by Marvin the Martian. It turns out, happily, that Michigan's croaks are considered Martian, and Marvin and Michigan end it off with a duet.
  • Parodied in Earthworm Jim, with a "promo" of Young Earthworm Jim which would feature Jim's many "adventures" before the suit came about.
  • Recess: All Growed Down was released in 2003 (two years after the show was cancelled), but features T.J. and his friends as kindergarteners, rather than fourth (or fifth) graders.
  • All Hail King Julien serves as a prequel to the Madagascar franchise, as it explains how King Julien became king in the first episode, and is otherwise set chronologically before the first movie.
  • Dawn of the Croods serves as a prequel to The Croods, showing the family living happily with other cave families in Ahh! Valley.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is heavily implied to be a prequel to the original 1969 series in its final episode.
  • Disney's animated series Hercules is a prequel to the Disney movie of the same name, showing Hercules during his teen-age years.
  • The Alf animated series is a prequel to Alf showing Alf's life on Melmac.
  • In the case of Star Wars, long before the prequels that we all know, the animated shows Droids and Ewoks were prequels of the original trilogy. The first told the story of C3PO and R2D2 before they met Luke and the second one told the lives of the Ewoks before their first encounter with humans.
  • Considering that Taz-Mania shows Taz still living in Tazmania and in his parent's house probably in his late teens/early twenties, then the show can be considered a prequel of the Looney Tunes cartoons.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Prequel