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- Tales of the Jedi takes place in the very early history of the Republic, about 4,000 years before the films. The architecture and technology are far more primitive-looking, hyperspace lanes are still being mapped, and the Jedi Order is strong but with different codes and morals than the 'present day' (for instance, romance is not forbidden and Masters are seen taking several students).
- Dawn of the Jedi goes even earlier in the galaxy's history, before hyperspace travel was common. The organization that would eventually become the Jedi were gathered remotely by powerful alien beings. The Jedi aren't even called that yet (they're Jed'aii) and are as wary of "falling" to the light side of the Force as much as the dark.
- This is a common trope in Sailor Moon Fan Fic, exploring the original Silver Millenium and its downfall before the series started.
- Common amongst Touhou fics, set before the establishment of the Hakurei Barrier. Since some characters are Time Abyss, this is fairly easy. How the characters worn Elegant Gothic Lolita outfit during Heian era is never pointed out.
- A Forgotten Anniversary is an Axis Powers Hetalia fic, set in the (actual) historical past of the 1983: Doomsday Stories AU (namely The '60s) and focusing on the wider backdrop of the Cold War despite it being about Austria and Hungary. Although it's distant enough from Doomsday to stand on its own.
- The Star Wars prequels are set before and during the Clone Wars and the downfall of the Old Republic, and feature the Jedi Order as it was before the Purge. The time difference is much smaller than usual, but the trope still applies.
- Escape from the Planet of the Apes film qualifies, at least from apes' point of view, as it's set before the fall of humans' long-forgotten civilization (i.e. ours).
- The Heralds of Valdemar universe includes the Mage Wars trilogy, the first book of which is set during the titular conflict and leads up to the Cataclysm. The other two books deal with the immediate aftermath and set up the state of the world to come in the main chronology, 3,000 years later.
- The 'Corean Chronicles have a prequel trilogy set in the time of the Duarchy, starring the ancestors of Alucius and of the Protector's line.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe includes many novels and games set in the time of the Old Republic, usually thousands of years before the Battle of Yavin.
- Anything happening more than one thousand years before the movies (when the Republic was re-formed, and the Sith were thought by everyone to have been wiped out), in particular. Before this time, the Republic had a military and the Jedi were allowed to hold political offices, with a Jedi serving as Chancellor. This re-formation happened in part because the communications and travel infrastructure of the galaxy had been ruined by Sith warlords, and the Republic being on its last legs, before the Sith annihilated themselves. Besides the military being disbanded and the Sith in hiding, the difference between those eras and the films is one thousand years of corruption and decay. The lack of an enemy to fight caused several families that had served as officers for thousands of years to be disaffected (setting the stage for the Empire), and dissent caused by the corruption caused the separatist crisis and The Clone Wars. After the Reformation, the galaxy's economy bounced back as strong as ever if not more so, but the oversight and judiciary mechanisms for it stayed stagnant, to the point that people actually welcomed the Empire, at first.
- When The Tripods Came is a prequel to The Tripods.
- The Tales of Dunk and Egg are an ongoing series of prequel novellas to 'A Song of Ice and Fire set about a hundred years or so before the start of that series, during the tail end of a prosperous period under the old regime. They are somewhat Lighter and Softer and generally end on at least a bittersweet note.
- In the Dragaera series, the Khaavren Romances are a fictional in-universe series detailing what the in-universe author considers the "good old days", where nobles were brave and honorable and peasants knew their place. In contrast to the modern, First-Person Smartass style of the Vlad series in the "present", these are written in Antiquated Linguistics (although interestingly, they are written in-universe some time after Vlad).
- Isaac Asimov wrote the Galactic Empire novels, one of which was set within the First Galactic Empire prior to the collapse depicted in the Foundation trilogy, as a bridge between his Robot series and that trilogy. The first one, Pebble in the Sky, takes place at the height of the Galactic Empire and is in a bit of an odd situation when it comes to which is a prequel and which is a sequel (it was actually Asimov's first novel, but large parts of Foundation had already been serialized). The two other Empire novels were set further back, with one taking place during the rise of the empire that will become the First Galactic Empire, and the other being set before Trantor became a galaxy-wide concern.
- Katherine Kurtz wrote the Camber trilogy and the Heirs of Camber trilogy to explain the state of affairs in Gwynedd during The Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy. Specifically, the Camber and Heirs of Camber books explain how a land that had humans and Deryni co-existing openly (including Healers as a regular feature of then practice of medicine) became a land where Deryni often had to conceal their abilities or face death.
- In the CoDominium series, Falkenburg's Legion is a prequel to The Mote in God's Eye and King David's Spaceship. Set during the CoDominium era, it focuses on a mercenary band's attempt to stablize off planet colonies before World War III devastates Earth.
- The Horus Heresy novels are essentially the story of how Warhammer 40,000 became such a Crapsack World.
- The Great Migration Duology books (Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon) in the Liaden Universe.
- Greg Bear's The Forerunner Saga is a trilogy of Halo novels set during the heyday of the Forerunners 100,000 years ago, when they were spread out throughout the Milky Way. All that's left of them now are various artifacts (and their AI caretakers) scattered throughout the galaxy, including a set of giant rings meant to wipe out all life in the galaxy.
- The Magic: The Gathering novel series has The Thran, a novel about the time before the five colours of magic were discovered. It contains the Start of Darkness moments for some of the series villains as well as explaining where several of the Plot Coupons used in the other books originated.
- Some of the Dune prequel novels from Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson cover the distant past where sentient machines ruled the universe. None of the novels cover (or even mention in any detail) the time period prior to the Time of the Titans... yet.
- Darkwing is a prequel to the Silverwing trilogy that takes place in the prehistoric era.
- The novel BioShock: Rapture mixes this with a slide into Just Before the End. It basically links all the backstory we know about the first two games together into a single novel.
- Most of Wizard and Glass is set Just Before the End of the time of the Gunslingers and tells of a time when Gunslingers still kept peace in the world, time and space were still somewhat dependable, and there seemed to be hope that even though the world had already somewhat "moved on," things maybe could still get better.
- The Silmarillion is this to The Lord of the Rings.
- Tales of the Branion Realm is largely this, since each book is set a century or more before the previous book. Book 3, in particular, sets up the familial conflicts in Book 2, as brothers and sisters in the former make way for third cousins in the latter. It also mentions, in passing, an event that will lead to the main conflict in Book 1.
- The second Dragonlance trilogy, Dragonlance Legends featured the Cataclysm, which occurred 300 years prior to the events of most of the other Dragonlance materials.
- Sadly, there will never be a true prequel to The Wheel of Time series, due to the death of Robert Jordan, but we do have a brief "flashback" due to a past-viewing device in the fourth book. There Rand has a series of visions that work their way from the release of the Sealed Evil in a Can through the Breaking of the World, which ended the Age of Legends, and through several centuries of the aftermath. There's also a very short story The Strike at Shayol Ghul — an in-universe preliminary report of a historian, who studied a damaged history book written less than a century after the Breaking.
- Clariel takes place 600 years before the Old Kingdom trilogy, and 400 years before the events that threw the Kingdom into chaos.
- The Revelation Space Series largely takes place after the Melding Plague - an unknown alien technology that corrupts human nanotechnology - wrecked human civilization, decimating the technological base that made the Bella Epoque golden age possible in the Yellowstone System. Chasm City, the prequel to the first novel, takes place only a few years after the Melding Plague hit the eponymous city, and shows the nightmarish environment where the self-evolving skyscrapers became corrupt, growing and consuming anything in their path. The Prefect takes place a few decades before the Melding Plague, showing the nigh-utopian pre-Plague Chasm City, and shows the vast 'Glitter Belt' of multi-cultural orbital habitats before they were reduced to the 'Rust Belt' after the Plague.
- The Kharkanas Trilogy, a prequel to the Malazan Book of the Fallen, is set in the The Time of Myths, when the Tiste still lived in the realm of Kurald Galain and the great Citadel of Kharkanas, before the civil war that made Mother Dark turn away, tore their realm apart and drove the Tiste out and into the world of the main series.
- The Gospel of Loki takes place before and during Ragnarok, in contrast to the main series (Runemarks), which is set five hundred years later.
Live Action TV
- BIONICLE's 2004 and 2005 sagas took place a thousand years before the current story. Allegedly, they planned to have more flashback years, but the kids buying the toys found them too confusing.
- Exalted's Dreams of the First Age supplement is set in the eponymous First Age, a high-Magitek civilization ruled by the immensely powerful, and increasingly power-mad and deranged, elders of the Solar Deliberative. The supplement kicks off at the very moment that the Unconquered Sun turns his face from his Chosen.
- Earthdawn is a prequel to Shadowrun, set in the Fourth World. Shadowrun itself is set in the Sixth World. (As a point of comparison, the Fifth World ended in 2011.)
- Rifts Chaos Earth is set during the Coming of the Rifts and the end of human dominion over the Earth. Ironically, due to the rarity of magic, the nonexistence of Techno-Wizardry and the fact that Chaos Earth hasn't been fighting a constant war for survival for centuries, the tech level is in many areas lower than that of the mainline Rifts Earth setting.
- The Arcane Age line of Forgotten Realms products explored the days when Netheril and Myth Drannor were at the height of their power.
- Inverted in Phantasy Star II; it's a sequel to the first game, set a thousand years afterward in a world where technology has created a Utopia and its breakdown is driving the Algo system off a cliff. On the other hand, it also has a sequel of its own set after the destruction of Mother Brain.
- Sagi's headache induced "Elsewhere" scenes in Baten Kaitos Origins takes place before the War of Gods. It only becomes clear at the 3rd occurrence, where the group notices the land goes on endlessly, in contrast to the Floating Continents the series uses.
- Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 stand as prequels to Final Fantasy Tactics. Probably.
- And all of them take place before the first Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The setting's "Real World" is actually Ivalice thousands of years in the other games' future after all the world's magic energy is used up and people have developed technology analogous to Real Life. The in-universe Final Fantasy games the children play and on which Marche's fantasy world is based are works of historical fiction, like the Dynasty Warriors games are to us.
- Wild ARMs 4 seems to be set during a period of time constantly alluded to in other games in the series of a massive world war where cyborgs and nanomachine monsters freely roamed the lands. Many of the world's bigger cities have been destroyed in the chaos and are slowly turning into the types of locations you see in games such as Wild ARMs 3.
- Each and every one of The Legend of Zelda games take place in their own distinct era of Hyrule's history, but The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is notable for being the earliest game in the timeline, before the founding of Hyrule itself, and when the Demon King Demise threatened to wipe out all life for the Demon tribe. It also shows us the creation of the Master Sword and Demise's curse on Link and Zelda.
- The Elder Scrolls Online will be set in the Second Era in the Elder Scrolls franchise history, a good millenium or so before the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and even before the empire of Tiber Septim was established.
- The Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic games are set in the Old Republic-era, but unlike the prequels above, they take place nearly four thousand years into the past. The stories center mostly on the wars between the ancient Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic, the Mandalorians, and the Rakata precursors who enslaved the galaxy several millennia ago.
- Fall from Heaven: Age of Ice is a Dark Fantasy scenario for Civilization IV (included in the Beyond the Sword Expansion Pack). It's a prequel to the popular Fall from Heaven mod that takes place near the end of the previous age. Specifically, the main mod takes place in the Age of Rebirth, while the scenario, as indicated in the name, takes place during the preceding Age of Ice. No scenario/mod exists for the even earlier Age of Magic, although it probably wouldn't be too different from the one set in the Age of Rebirth, with factions being the main difference (e.g. the Amurites did not exist during the Age of Magic but play a key role in ending the Age of Ice).