Axon:Previously, on TV Tropes Wiki, we said...
Look, the thing was like three minutes long. Just watch it.
A clip montage
at the beginning of an episode with a voiceover, or a slide, saying "Previously on (show name)", or a variation "Last time on (show name)", that serves to get the viewer up to speed on the parts of the arc relevant to the episode in question. The majority of Arc-based
series use these. Outside of those, usually only used if it's the beginning of a continuing part of a multi-parter. It's also known as "The Previously", or just the recap.
On shows that make regular use of them, it's common for responsibility for the voiceover to rotate through the main cast members, generally without much regard to the content of the episode.
The Genre Savvy
viewer may sometimes wonder whether the writers of a series threw in a line of dialogue or a scene that succinctly sums up what's going on with an eye towards (or for the sole purpose of) including it in the next episode's "Previously...." Furthermore, the Previously clip montage occasionally includes footage that didn't make it into the final cut of the earlier episode (thus lying to the viewer when it claims that it was previously featured on the show).
This device can tip off the audience to important elements of the coming episode
. In a competitive reality show, for example, a character featured heavily in Previously On may be getting the boot. In a drama or other arc-heavy series, if you see something in Previously On that didn't seem important previously, it will become important. See Chekhov's Gun
By contrast, some anime series will begin an episode by recapping scenes from the previous episode, but these may be intercut with new scenes.
When used in video games, it gives a clue to the answer to "Now, Where Was I Going Again?
Many, many examples can be seen here
Contrast with On the Next
open/close all folders
- Gotham Central eventually started using "Previously in..." recap pages with collages of panels from previous issues (which were sometimes modified for clarity).
- The Incredible Hercules was infamous for its hilarious recap pages that included characters' pictures and were sometimes 'narrated' by the characters themselves (most commonly, Amadeus Cho). This came to a head with the final issue, which summarized the essence of the plot of every single previous issue in one sentence or less.
- Like the Cable & Deadpool example below, they were kept for the trade paperbacks.
- Untold Tales of Spider-Man featured new stories of the web-swinging hero set among the original stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. To help readers without encyclopedic knowledge of Spider-Man history, most issues include a one-page summary of recent events in both the original and new stories.
- Cable & Deadpool had special recap pages where the characters summarized the lead-up action from sometimes even four issues back. The main characters on the page were Cable and Deadpool, with the secondary characters sometimes taking over (mostly to explain who they were so you wouldn't need to read other Marvel books to know). towards the end of the second volume it turned into a sort of talk show hosted by Deadpool, and around the middle of the third the page was replaced by Bob (Agent of Hydra)'s blog. The recaps are all in the collected edition, too (which is why they're referenced by volume, not issue).
- In the late 70s, Marvel got hold of the Hanna-Barbera properties and would add, for example, a two-page teaser for a Dynomutt story to an issue of Scooby-Doo. The story would pick up in the ensuing issue of Dynomutt with a recap of the teaser.
- When Journey Into Mystery focused around Kid Loki and was written by Kieron Gillen one of the highlights was its recap pages which would often feature characters breaking the fourth wall and relating what had happened in recent issues to the audience in a humorous way.
- Script Fic Calvin & Hobbes: The Series uses this in "The Black Turning Funnel Part 2".
- Parodied at the beginning of the Last Part of Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure, which quotes a large collection of earlier bits from the story which are all completely meaningless out of context. In addition, it actually has one scene which actually wasn't in the story before: Luna killing Twilight's brother.
- Friendship is Magic: The Adventures of Spike did this for the first few chapters, until readers complained about it being distracting and it was dropped.
- The first chapter of the "Spike of (Saddle) Arabia" Arc starts with a recap of the entire story so far, due to it being where the story really gets underway (and because it was posted after a long hiatus).
- One of the few movies to use this trope seriously is Star Wars - the famous opening scrolls. However, they explain what occurred between the previous movie and the one that's coming up, rather than any summation of the last movie itself.
- The opening credits for Superman II and Spider-Man's sequels play this trope straight.
- The Friday the 13th sequels all started with flashbacks to the previous films. Initially it was quite a long segment of scenes and plot to fill in the viewer as to what was happening, but as the series grew (in numbers and notoriety) it became more a montage of death scenes with a sprinkling of backstory.
- The pre-credits opening sequence of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock replays Spock's death from the end of Star Trek II.
- In some overseas releases, the beginning of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home has a played-straight pre-credits "Previously On" sequence recapping Star Trek III, complete with voiceover narration by Kirk. The North American release simply goes from the space shuttle Challenger dedication to the Paramount logo and opening titles.
- A notable aversion is The Lord of the Rings. In the commentaries, Peter Jackson and company note that, due to the HSQ of the first film's prologue, the executives wanted a "Previously On" for the beginning of The Two Towers. The reply went something like "If the audience wants to know what's going on in the second installment, they should go see the first film." So we got the "Gandalf vs. Balrog, pt. 2" prologue instead, and the HSQ was maintained.
- Apparently Cate Blanchett did record some dialogue for the scrapped "Previously On", since some of it was used for an early trailer.
- Each Back to the Future sequel begins with the date on which the previous movie's events ended, then shows a re-enactment of that movie's ending.
- Bride of Frankenstein opens with Byron recounting the events of the previous film in conversation with the Shelleys, complete with a montage of clips.
- 22 Jump Street begins with a Previously On segment that's treated exactly like one used on a TV show, recapping events from the first movie. And an unrelated scene involving Schmidt and Jenko throwing crayfish into a pot.
- Older Than Feudalism: The Odyssey begins with a brief recap of The Iliad.
- H.P. Lovecraft's Herbert West: Reanimator magazine serial was published with this, the author hated having to do a book report on the previous chapters. In fact, he never would have written it if he didn't need the money.
- Some of the Harry Potter books open with a recap of what happened in previous books, usually masked as Harry reminscing about his past in Hogwarts.
- Every one of the main title of the Animorphs had a brief recap of the series premise and elements of the series that a first time reader might need to understand to know about the plot. Usually, this was within the first chapter, but it could easily be stretched over a few chapters to include basic character descriptions.
- Wheel of Time novels have this by necessity. First chapters of each book reintroduce most recurring characters active in the current novel, describe the situations they are in, how they got there and what are they doing now. About 30% of the sixth novel are such recaps.
- Every The Dark Tower novel begins with a recap of everything relevant that happened in the previous books.
- Each volume of The Lord of the Rings begins with a "Synopsis" of everything that happened in the previous volumes.
Live Action TV
- The Trope Namer was the Steven Bochco cop drama Hill Street Blues which became for first show to ever use the phrase "Previously On" in this context midway through its second season in 1982. The phrase was chosen to make the show more comprehensible to new viewers while assuring existing viewers that the episode was not a rerun.
- Game Shows: Several used "previously on" montages to showcase highlights and big wins. Prominent examples:
- Pyramid: Starting sometime in the late summer of 1973 (of the original $10,000 Pyramid), and continuing throughout the rest of the original CBS-ABC run, clips of previous big Winner's Circle wins and the contestants celebrating with their celebrity partner were shown prior to the Opening Narration. In 1975, one of the best known "previously on" clips showed William Shattner's "solo" Winners Circle.
- The practice was used on the syndicated $25,000 Pyramid hosted by Bill Cullen, and – starting in 1983 – again on the CBS daytime $25,000 Pyramid with Dick Clark.
- Press Your Luck: Clips showed contestants hitting big ticket items ("Stop at ... A CAR!!!") or Whammies, along with appropriate contestant reaction and, in the case of hitting a Whammy, the Whammy clip; and final spins which resulted in a champion being determined (wherein the winning contestant would be shown celebrating).
- Treasure Hunt: On occasion during the 1973 and 1981 versions, if the games ran short and there was still time, host Geoff Edwards would fill the segment by showing clips of past big wins (i.e., the grand prize being found and won) … and sometimes even a clip or two of the contestant finding the check … but they didn't win it because they elected to take the cash buyout beforehand. In addition, Edwards sometimes replayed a big win that just happened after a commercial break, just in case viewers missed it or wanted to see it again.
- Many situation comedies which have multi-part episodes will use the "Last time ... on (title of show)" line to lead into highlights – usually, 30 to 45 seconds long – from the previous show. Often, these will be fairly dramatic highlights, showing the plot becoming more and more serious, with the dramatic conclusion often the final clip shown.
- This device often became lampooned when used on the seemingly many Very Special Episodes of Blossom; a serious, somber-voiced Mayim Bialik would often introduce the clips with "Last time ... on Blossom," which writers of other TV series – including Friends – picked up on for comedy bits.
- Brilliantly exploited in the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to appear on The WB (at the end of season five): clips or images from nearly all 99 previous episodes appear in an accelerating, rapid fire montage.
- This was then followed up with an extended "Previously" for the sixth season's premiere, summarizing all previous seasons for the benefit of UPN viewers who had never seen the show before.
- The previously was used on several occasions to introduce important elements from Angel for the benefit of Buffy viewers who didn't watch the spin-off series. These were variously prefaced with Giles's narration: "Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer [...] and on Angel", with clips after each programme title; or simply with "Previously"
- Buffy was also guilty of spoiling their own surprises with their previouslies. Ah, here I am, sitting down to watch my favourite show... yes, previously on Buffy there was that scene with this season's Big Bad... yep, and that emotional moment between Buffy and her beau of the moment... and hey, look, a clip of Faith from four years ago. Gee, I wonder what's going to happen in this episode?
- Joss Whedon seemed to be aware of this problem, which is why he had almost all the previouslies removed from the American DVD release of the show, though they remained in other versions. In several episodes you can hear the last second of the musical sting as it transitions from the recap into the proper episode, though.
- Buffy also had one of the shortest previously ons, consisting of the short line "You're fired" before starting the episode "The Zeppo."
- They aren't removed from Netflix Instant Stream (Though every episode is there).
- Angel used previouslies to the same effect, and the DVD's have the mixed blessing of not including any of them. On the one hand, Wesley's voice-over just sounded cool, and losing the recaps cuts down on the broadcast nostalgia factor. On the other hand, the DVD viewer's spared ten straight episodes all prefaced by a flashback to Connor and Cordelia's intimate moment...
- Similarly, the final Farscape has a blipvert showing a scene from every prior episode. Also, most (if not all) of the episodes in Seasons 3 and 4 (when Farscape fully transitioned from being episodic to continuous) begin with one of these.
- Farscape noticibly had scenes in a Previously on, which hadn't actually been aired before, as that subplot of an episode was cut for time. Given what that subplot was (Grayza taking command from Scorpius and Braca apparantly selling him out) it was rather important, and somewhat confusing for viewers.
- Prison Break was one of many shows guilty of giving away a character's reappearance, which is something the show liked to do with characters from its past it hadn't killed and some it had.
- Used in every episode of the new Battlestar Galactica. Known as Previous Lies for their tendency to contain redubbed or never-before-aired scenes.
- Often descends into spoiler territory, much like the Buffy example—especially since, whenever a major character dies, the Previouslys are about them and they do the voiceover. (And, just to frak with your head, the opening credits contain Blipverts of the coming episodes which are even worse than the ever-spoiling commercials.)N?
- To avoid the overwrought voiceover style typical of this trope, the Supernatural simply shows the words "Then" and "Now" to indicate where the recap begins and ends.
- And in an important episode, the previous events are always set to one of the greatest hits of mullet rock. For example, every season finale uses "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas as its background.
- Used in every episode of Twin Peaks, where the convoluted plot-lines made it vitally necessary. (Particularly because ABC kept switching the show's time slot around, which made it extremely difficult to keep up with the series, and eventually lead to its downfall.)
- Alias would often show relevant scenes from 2 or 3 seasons prior, instead of the more common practice of just showing the scenes from the previous episode.
- Stargate SG-1 does something similar, showing scenes from several episodes in the previous seasons that are relevant to the new episode's plot.
- The DVD of Ark of Truth has a feature called "The Road Taken- Prelude to Stargate Ark of Truth" that sums up the entire Ori story arc by Previously On-ing.
- The Previously On for the 200th episode includes a scene that never actually occurred in the series. This turns out to be a part of the script based on their adventures that the characters spend the episode reviewing. The extra scene in the Previously On is one of many, MANY examples lampshade hanging and self-parody included in the 200th episode.
- Stargate Atlantis uses these, including one instance of spoiling the reveal that the guest star was an ascended Ancient by mentioning ascension in the Previously On.
- Heroes uses the same method, showing scenes as far back as is necessary to bring the audience up to date on whichever of the many plot lines will be updated in the upcoming episode. In some cases, this involves a series of short clips that span the majority of the season.
- Toyed around with in one episode; a clip during the Previously On had not actually been shown in a prior episode, but had in fact occurred between the previous episode and the current one.
- LOST opens with one of these every episode, as well, in order to remind people about events that occurred four episodes prior, but which hadn't been mentioned since then; the number of episodes skipped back across has been increasing since the end of the second season, as we began alternating between different sides of the island, occasionally even skipping back to a previous season. "Previously on Lost" has become one of the iconic phrases from the show.
- Almost every episode. On rare occasion, it will open with an action sequence.
- Ditched towards the end of the show's run, as the story was so convoluted that the showrunners simply opted for Continuity Lockout, figuring anyone who stuck with the show that long was up to speed on what was happening. (They did throw everyone a bone by offering the entire series online for free viewing.)
- With watching most shows on DVD, watching the Previously On segment can seem redundant because they usually just concentrate on the last episode. With Lost, though, the segment is really more of a "These are the story lines we are concentrating on in this episode" than just a recap of the immediately previous episode.
- Back at the beginning of time (or possibly the Seventies), The BBC would get viewers up to speed on their classic serials by showing still images, while the continuity announcer intoned the story so far in a monotone.
- During its several long arcs, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would sometimes have a "Last time on DS9" that would cover the previous month or more of episodes.
- Eli Stone has a neat variation on this. We hear Eli narrating clips from past episodes, and then it turns out he's actually telling the story to someone to explain some weird thing that he's doing, like trying to bring a coffee can out of China. For this to work you have to completely ignore that for the rest of the show, he does everything he can to keep a lot of what happens secret.
- For a truly shocking example of this trope, check out a few episodes of the cancelled television show Surface. It played unnecessary clips, was far far faaar too long, and had a deep-voiced voiceover guy who sounded like he'd just smoked five packets of cigarettes and eaten a roll of sandpaper.
- Despite being one of the first heavily story-arc-driven shows on American TV, Babylon 5 notably did not use "Previously On" sequences except in the case of outright two-partersnote . The fifth season's opening credits did function as a sort-of "Previously On", consisting of a montage of quotes and clips from all four previous seasons in chronological order, but it was not comprehensive.
- At points in the show where scenes from previous episodes were necessary to understand the course of events, the relevant clip would be shown as a brief flashback in black-and-white, thus serving the normal purpose of a recap to remind the viewers of past events, while still avoiding a Spoiler Opening. However, these were used very sparingly.
- In discussing the use of a "previously on" for an episode that was not going to be delayed and not broadcast immediately after the prior one, the network executives asked him how he knew to put it in. They were a bit unnerved when J. Michael Straczynski told them he didn't. This was not the first time Straczynski's prescience came into play: a broken foot and a broken arm were mentioned in two episodes. Each actor wound up breaking the exact body part while filming other episodes that their character broke.
- Doctor Who uses these in its new series multi-episode stories, usually leading up to a recap of the previous cliffhanger to segue into the title sequence. They are also used when previous events of a story arc need to be recapped.
- In the old series, later parts of a serial would show the last minute or so of the previous episode, something New Who supremo Steven Moffat never understood: "It doesn't tell you anything!"
- In every season of 24 after the first, every episode except the first in the season opens with a "Previously On 24" segment that replays clips from previous episodes, along with name title for important characters. (Rarely is every active CTU employee introduced with a name title; instead, one member will be singled out with the title "Counter Terrorist Unit".) Season One instead opened with Jack Bauer giving a brief narration of the recent events, concluding each with "I am federal agent Jack Bauer, and this is the longest day of my life."
- Previously On did happen in the first season, but the DVDs have them cut out.
- The UK DVD's have all these intact including the final episode of Season Seven which didn't have one on its original airing
- The Surrealist's 24 Dreaming generates nonsensical parodies of this spiel.
- The O.C. would sometimes go a few seasons back for a Previously On, an indicator that a character would be returning or something that character did would be causing trouble.
- Knightmare had these with Treguard providing a poem detailing how the quest was going and any deaths that had occurred in the previous episode. They were hilarious.
- The Shield did this very well, condensing enough of the relevant main character and sub-character story arcs in such a way that you could understand what was going on in the episode even if you didn't get everything from not having seen them.
- How I Met Your Mother normally doesn't use this, with one exception for the episode "Nothing Good Ever Happens After 2 A.M.," which had a more serious tone than most other episodes.
- The Secret Life of the American Teenager has these every episode. The seasons are split in half(one in summer and one in winter) and the premiere episode of one half will have a previously showing highlights of the entire previous half instead of just the last episode.
- Kamen Rider OOO begins the episode with "These three things have happened last week...!" then it recaps 3 important key happenings to the previous episode that would lead to today's episode.
- Kamen Rider has been doing this for most of their shows, though shows from Decade onward have took on the more traditional "Previously On" segment.
- Lexx only used these in the third season.
- Used in early seasons of Power Rangers. Ironically, the show was severely episodic back in those days, meaning it didn't really need a recap. When things got more and more plot heavy by seasons 4 to 6, this mostly got dropped; it's only pulled back out during two or three ep arcs.
- Green Wing begins every episode by showing the whole previous episode in split screen, speeding through the hour-long episode in about one minute, briefly slowing down for the important moments and alternating sides of the screen to do so. The first episode was a variant, since the opening sequence had the same style, but did more or less an introduction to each character instead.
- Glee does a twist on this by referring to plot points that will be relevant for the episode one is about to watch rather than what happened in the exact last episode. (For example, the "Previously On" for "Wheels" [episode 9] refers to events from "Preggers" [episode 4] because a particular story arc hadn't been referenced since then.)
- "And that's what you missed on..." (cue Swingle Singers)
- ER essentially lived off of this trope, beginning every episode with the famous, "Previously on ER," which brought the audience up-to-speed on the different arcs that would be addressed in the episode.
- Previously on... (pause) Survivor.
- "Previously on The West Wing", preceded by a distinctive drumroll, would appear at the beginning of every single episode of the show except the pilot. When the show was between major story arcs and there was nothing from previous episodes that really needed to be shown, the clips in the "Previously On" sequence would just be of the main characters saying their names and job descriptions.
- The 4400 being a very plot driven show had this every episode. As the show went on, and each episode tried to list EVERY relevant event, they started getting comedically long, as episodes from several seasons ago would be recapped.
- "Hi, I'm Chuck. Here's a few things you might need to know..."
- Or maybe you just forgot.
- Royal Pains recaps the first episode in all of the more recent ones.
- 'Allo 'Allo!, being one of only a few sitcoms which have an extended story arc, regularly had Rene, the central character, give a recap of where this episode is starting from. He generally began, [looks at the audience] "You might be wondering why I'm ..... Well, it's because ....."
- Used on every episode of the classic soap opera parody Soap. It would sum up, quickly and comically, what happened in the previous episode and ask "Confused? Well, you won't be after this episode of Soap." It would also have a "next time on Soap" at the end as well that didn't spoil the next episode but merely hinted at which storylines would be seen in the next episode.
- Roswell: Half of the second season uses the device of having Maria explain recent events to the audience directly, illustrated with clips and chalkboard diagrams.
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation had a "Previously on CSI..." sequence for the first three episodes, until they realized how pointless it was for an episodic Forensic Drama and dropped it.
- The show was pretty heavy on Character Arcs in its first episodes (mainly surrounding the murdered rookie and Warrick's gambling problems), which were why they were necessary. CSI, NCIS, and other procedurals that have season-long story arcs in addition to the Killer of the Week plots will use this when the episode is about to jump full speed into those arcs. Two-part episodes will also use it (or alternately, a season opener that needs to refresh everyone's memory as to what happened in last season's finale)It was also used in crossovers,to recap the events on the other member of the franchise.
- The Wire uses this, notably the DVDs do not make it a "standard" part of the episode but something you select separately on the same menu you choose to play the episode on.
- An episode of Code Name: Eternity, which aired in a completely convoluted order, had a Previously On segment containing clips from episodes that hadn't aired yet.
- Boston Legal did this every episode, with the words being spoken by any given main character (Alan Shore or Denny Crane being two frequent ones.)
- This is how Smallville episodes that were part of a Story Arc or featured a returning character started.
- Smallville had the habit of only using these segments during the Season Premier, the last episode before and the first episode after the mid-season hiatus, and the season finale. Further more for the first and last episode of the season, the clips would always be finished off by a fade to black and the announce proudly proclaiming "And now, the Season Premire/Finale of Smallville..." This lead to a minor fan speculation that the 10th season Finale (the final episode of the series' 10 year run) to finish off with the phrase "And now, the conclusion of Smallville..." Sadly, it did not.
- Gossip Girl does this every episode, but the writers are rather ingenious in that seemingly innocuous lines or events that happen will more often than not get their payoffs or seem at all important until whole seasons later. Gossip Girl will remind you of details that happened in the 1st season in the 4th season where those events will lead to important things that happen. When a random short segment from season 2 that you've forgotten all about appears in a 4th season opener, you know something's about to go down.
- One particular case where a seemingly throw away line paid off a season later was Jenny mentioning off hand towards the end of the 3rd season that Serena and Damien knew each other from boarding school, and something happened with one of her teachers. (Paraphrase). It's disregarded and never mentioned for the rest of the season, until it becomes the ENTIRE central plot of the first half of season 4.
- The Golden Girls instead used the variation "On the last episode of..." whenever they did a two-parter. For whatever reason, it was always Betty White/Rose who was called upon to deliver the line.
- In The Fades, Mac recaps the plot in a somewhat rambly manner, ending with the line "Now, where's my (Various film) box-set. Nanu-Nanu.
- Veronica Mars: Used these to good effect—usually the Previouslys would help with something that had emotional pay-off that episode instead of making it blatantly obvious what clue in the A Plot was going to be revealed next.
- Famously, the original Star Trek handled its only Previously ("The Menagerie, Part II") by shooting stark new footage of the principals lined up in profile against a black background as Kirk muses about the events leading up to Spock's court martial for mutiny.
- Used in The Aquabats! Super Show!, and simultaneously parodied by weaving non sequitur clips into the recaps. In the case of the first episode, scenes from the pilot were used.
- Malcolm in the Middle had one episode starting with Hal mentioning a previous story arc about how he lost his former job when his company made a scapegoat out of him and he almost was convicted. Similar to what happened in the Eli Stone example, he wasn't telling the viewers. He was trying to convince a girl scout not to charge him for some cookies.
- 30 Rock had some fun with this one in one episode. It began with an exchange from the end of the previous episode, altered accordingly.
Liz: Do you know what this means?
Tracy: No, I need a Previously On!
Previously, on 30 Rock
Previously, on 30 Rock
Jack: [making funny sound effects]
Kenneth (narrating): Oh golly, not that!
[cut to real Previously On]
- Parodied on Red Eye With Greg Gutfeld occasionally, like this, with clips that have absolutely nothing to do with the show.
- Top Gear: The show had its first ever two-part episode in Series 19, and in keeping with the grand tradition of the Mundane Made Awesome openings the show usually does, it has such epic scenes as Clarkson finding a bone in his kebab, Hammond buying an iron and a kettle, and May adjusting the cot in the back of his car.
- Cleverly incorporated into the fifth season premiere of Castle; the last two "previously" clips were Beckett and Castle kissing passionately, followed by the man who tried to kill Beckett in the fourth season finale promising to finish the job. Cuts immediately to Castle bolting up in bed as though he was having a Catapult Nightmare of Beckett's would-be killer.
- Homicide: Life on the Street used these a lot, a particular instance consisting of a recap of a Law & Order episode setting up a Crossover, announced as "Previously on Law & Order", followed by the standard end, "Tonight on Homicide: Life on the Street", being particularly meaningful in that case.
- Person of Interest features an interesting variation in which the recapped scenes are shown as if from a security camera from the perspective of The Machine as if it was reviewing what was occurring. The same framing device is used for flashbacks.
- The fourth season of That Mitchell and Webb Look starts with a "Previously On" segment that's played dead straight — except that, since it's a sketch comedy show, none of the clips shown have any actual bearing on the episode.
- Nikita, for the first half of the first season, worked important information from previous episodes into Nikita's Opening Narration. Eventually, this got to be a bit unwieldy so they switched to more conventional previouslies.
- For about half a season on Bones they'd give a Previously On in the middle of the show, recapping the first half for those tuning in late.
- Moonlighting: In a standard bit of Breaking the Fourth Wall, "Sam & Dave" begins with real-life TV critic Jeff Jarvis explaining how if you missed last week's episode "because you figured 'it's just another rerun'", he has "a tape of last week's episode" and will show "all the good parts. It won't take long." Then he narrates between recap scenes. The next episode has narration by Vox Pops. Following that is a recap in a fake Movietone News broadcast.
- Many Professional Wrestling programs, including Raw, Smackdown and pay-per-views, make extensive use of video recaps of feuds and storylines that have led to main-event matches. WWE, in particular, produces extremely dramatic packages, with big symphonic music stings and a deep-voiced Opening Narration that talks about power, money, greed, glory, history, or whatever the overriding theme of the past month has been.
- Some of the earliest "previously on" examples were used at WrestleMania 2, when a clip of a match between Hulk Hogan and the Magnificent Muraco – with King Kong Bundy running in and seriously injuring Hogan was shown. WrestleMania III expanded this use, with clips highlighting several feuds: Randy Savage vs. Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat, Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis and friends-turned-enemies Hogan vs. André the Giant.
- While most of the ones in use today make use of elements described in the opening paragraph, the WWF (and many of its competitors of the time, including the AWA and World Championship Wrestling), have used "last time" clips for many years, usually to catch viewers up on a major feud starting on the previous episode or to progressively build an ongoing one (by showing a series of clips). Prior to the 2000s, the announcers simply narrated the clips and provided (often face-leaning) commentary. The WWF's syndicated programs of the 1980s – Superstars of Wrestling and Wrestling Challenge – also made extensive use of "last time" video, often with new comments added in from the involved wrestlers, and sometimes extensive portions of a match (especially if it involved a title change or was designated as having something important to do with advancing the feud) would be played as well.
- The radio countdown program American Top 40 premiered the concept in 1979, when host Casey Kasem played back the top 3 songs of the previous week in the first segment of the program. Throughout the 1980s, the number of top 3 songs would vary – sometimes, just the No. 1 song of the previous week would be played; and by the end of Kasem's run and into the Shadoe Stevens-era, the host would simply announce the No. 1 song from last week.
- Picking up on AT40, American Country Countdown began a recap of the previous week's chart at the beginning of shows starting in 1986, with the past week's No. 1 song played. Currently, with Kix Brooks as host, snippets of the top 3 songs of the past week were played, from Nos. 3 to 1, during the opening segment.
- Ex-ACC host Bob Kingsley began using a similar recap feature on Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40. He originally played back the past week's No. 1 song, but soon switched to snippets of the previous week's Top 5.
- A standard feature of academia, where the lecturer often briefly recaps the material covered last lesson. (Previously, on Number Theory: "But if that construction is valid, the group homomorphism from z/zn to the product of the z/zp groups we defined earlier must be an isomorphism!" "That's Impossible!" (...) "Run! Run away, Fermat! Run to your notebook margins, if you can find enough room to hide in there! I will yet kill you, and your little theorem, too!" And now Number Theory continues.)
- Used in Alone In The Dark 2008, when a player chooses to continue a playthrough or restart from a previous point after leaving. The game was set out in episodic form, so this trope is quite fitting.
- Metal Gear Solid features a "mission log" which you can read each time you load the game. It includes a two-page text recap of recent events within the game's plot. Although most players understandably skip it (it's pointless unless you accidentally skipped a cutscene or are playing someone else's save) each recap features an easter egg: unique artwork from the game's creators.
- Many of the Tales Series games have a similar "Synopsis" function which can be accessed from the camp menu. While it's nice to see what the creators say about their own work, its real value is in averting the Now, Where Was I Going Again? issue.
- Resident Evil: Revelations directly invokes this with its episodic stage structure. They even have a montage reel that plays when you resume a campain, even from a checkpoint in the middle of an episode.
- Xenosaga, Rogue Galaxy and the Professor Layton games will have a small "The Story So Far" that shows up while the game loads from your save. It's nice because it reminds you what you need to do next.
- Several games in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise (Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow the Hedgehog) feature recaps upon loading a new "story", as the Adventure games have multiple separate storylines, and Shadow has a path system that changes the story based on gameplay. These tend to be scrolling blocks of text with a voiceover by the relevant character; Shadow included images from the level select.
- Alan Wake has this trope. It is divided into "episodes", each of which (except the first one, obviously) begins with a "Previously on Alan Wake" segment that plays the trope straight.
- Pokémon has started doing this. In Fire Red and Leaf green it showed you the last few things you did. Diamond Pearl and Platinum just opens your journal which lists the last few things of each type you did. Fights, trades, items found, and zone changes.
- Unlike other examples, it was a feature added on so players resuming a game wouldn't wander around aimlessly wondering what they were doing last time, and it's entirely skippable.
- Time Gentlemen, Please! begins this way, with a Previously, On Ben There, Dan That! intro. It's also a bit of a parody as well, in that the intro makes the events of the previous game seem far more badass and action-packed than they actually were.
- Previously On blur: Keep the records of what you have unlocked as well as what you're going to unlock soon. Talk about great appetizer...
- Driver: San Francisco does a Previously On every time you load your current game. It recaps the most recent events leading up to where you last saved.
- The loading screens for Saints Row 2 show three stills from the last post-mission cutscene you watched, with the customizable Boss represented by a bald, muscular man in a sleeveless shirt. When you're starting a new game, the stills are of the boat explosion that ended the first game.
- The prologue of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night acts as a Previously On for Rondo of Blood, as it is a remake of the final stage of Rondo, showing how Richter defeated Dracula.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 does this every time the game is loaded, recapping recent events in the game with a brief clip show.
- In Pirate101 has Broochbeard and the player's companions remind the player what they were doing when they log in if it had been a while since the last time the player logged in.
- Metroid: Other M gives a summary every time you load a file, to help pass the time during Loads and Loads of Loading.
- The start of the multi-part El Goonish Shive storyline, "New And Old Flames", featured redrawn panels from the previous six years of the comic, ending with "And now, the continuation." May count as a Spoiler Opening although there have been several clues in the sketchbook hinting at certain characters and plot threads being revisited.
- "Previously, on X-Men..."
- Used conspicuously on Avatar: The Last Airbender , in that only a handful of episodes in their initial airings used a Previously On sequence. When the series was stripped and reruns began playing on weekdays, all episodes (save the first) contained the sequence. It was later revealed by a staff member that Nick makes them do that, so that viewers can enjoy an episode without having to have seen each episode that came before it. However, most fans disagree with the practice, because clips have been known to spoil vital aspects of the episode. The DVD releases do not feature these segments.
- While the first season DVD releases may be mercifully free of these, sadly the same cannot be said for the second season which has a Previously On segment before every single episode.
- An extreme case with the Grand Finale, which has one that last two whole minutes. This is even worse on the DVD: instead of being all at the beginning in one part, it split them up among the episodes, both making it even more interruptive pain in the ass as well removing the awesome music that played in the TV version.
- What makes it subtly brilliant is that the person (Roku) who always says "Previously, on Avatar" is the previous Avatar.
- Except for some dubs in other countries, where that person would be Iroh.
- Jack De Sena (voice of Sokka) is on record as being proud of the series having complex-enough story-telling to need them.
- The Legend of Korra has a Previously On sequence. Hilariously, it's done in the style of an old serial movie, complete with grainy, sepia-toned footage and a stereotypical "newsreel" announcer (who is also the in-universe pro-bending announcer).
- This is replaced for one episode by Tarrlok recapping the events in a press conference after Shiro Shinobi, the announcer, was electrocuted in the previous episode. He's back by the next one, though.
- Beginning with its second season Gargoyles used the Previously On on every episode, to bring the viewer up to speed on the back-stories of the characters involved in the episode.
- X-Men: Evolution started doing this around the third season, when it actually got a serious serial plot.
- This happens on every episode on Total Drama as a parody of reality shows.
- "Previously, on a Very Special Episode of Clone High..."
- The animated adaptation of Tintin would begin each Previously On segment with the phrase "It all started when..." — since each episode was a two-parter, it happened a lot.
- The Powerpuff Girls episode "Just Desserts" is a sequel to "Supper Villain", which came 16/8 episodes prior. It opens with a recap of "Supper Villain" that begins "Last week, in the city of Townsville..." Every quarter-hour episode of the The Powerpuff Girls is paired with another in a half-hour segment. "Just Desserts" is the 16th episode after "Supper Villain" and they are both the second episode in their respective segments (Does this make sense?)
- ReBoot used this once in the first season for a two-part episode. A variant was used in the first episode of season 3, where the opening sequence used clips (only video, no audio besides opening music) from the previous episode. Suspiciously absent afterward, despite the season long plot.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes managed to go pretty far into the first season without these, but Disney XD added some to episodes 20 onward. Episodes that do not come from season two had their recaps removed for digital distribution and home video release.
- Justice League featured "Previously On" for the second and third episode of multi-parters. This wasn't needed later since the Unlimited seasons had a one episode format.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (which provides the page image) has the episodes "Friendship is Magic, Part 2", "The Return of Harmony, Part 2", "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 2", and "The Crystal Empire, Part 2" open this way. Notably, these sorts of two-parters are (up to this point, at least) saved for the bigger, darker adventures in the series. Also, unlike most other cartoon shows (where the recaps are voiced over), this one just shows about a minute or so of plot-relevant clips, then cuts to the intro sequence.
- The Recess episode "The Madness of King Bob" opens this way, as it's a Sequel Episode to "The Big Prank".
- Rocky and Bullwinkle virtually defines this.
- The Fairly OddParents: "The Big Superhero Wish" had a recap of "The Crimson Chin Meets Mighty Mom and Dyno Dad". Sure, there was some comedy factor (given the show, that was expected) like getting random parts of the previous episode before getting the part relevant for the plot but it was played straight.
- Cartoon Network had characters in a story placed during the time Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil. In that story, Chicken was Pedro's brother and wanted to reach Brazil first. Johnny Bravo was in charge of recaps every time and Chicken always had to tell him he was recapping the wrong cartoon but Johnny eventually got the right recap after that.
- Played with in Dexter's Laboratory, the show's Three Shorts format allowed "Dexter's Rival" to play in its entirety before "Mandarker" (albeit with another cartoon in between).
- Season two of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated does this.
- G.I. Joe also does this with "In our last episode...". Thought "Traitor, Part 2" had a more interesting variation, where it opens up with Hector Ramirez anchoring his news program, and his topic is of Dusty Rudat, the Joe accused of treason who had escaped custody and was now presumed to have joined Cobra.
- Done in every episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. What makes this unique is that these are previously in the war, not necessarily previously on the show, setting up the episode's plot regardless of whether it's a continuation of a previous episode or not. Even when it does recap a prior episode for a multi-parter, it sometimes includes events that weren't actually in that episode but happened during a Time Skip since then.
open/close all folders
- Puni Puni Poemi starts out with a recap of previous episodes that were never produced - which also gives the impression that the show is a lot more serious than it is.
- Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo had a recap of the previous episode in the series premiere, though as Beauty points out the narrator is reading the wrong script. Sadly, the joke was removed from the TV showing of the English dub.
- As the series progresses, the recaps become more nonsensical, changing lines, going off-script, and including new scenes. This does not go unnoticed.
- Ruri Hoshino takes these opportunities to display her finest snark. Played with in an episode when it's revealed she's secretly the princess of Not Switzerland, and the entire episode is silly and embarrassing for all parties involved. Ruri hurriedly rushes through the beginning of the next episode.
- Parodied in Zan Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei. Every episode of the third seasons opens on a "previously on" presented in storybook format. Except that none of the stories being presented happened, and don't make a whole lot of sense.
- Following the prologue, Power Games has a recap of the first installment done by six-year-olds who keep wandering off topic.
- Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure has a "recap" that mostly consists of dialogue from previous chapters, chosen completely at random and presented without any context—thus, completely useless as a recap.
- Plan 7 of 9 from Outer Space by Odon. When the climatic end of Chapter 16 is repeated, the hero has to explain to his sidekick that they're not caught in a "Groundhog Day" Loop — it's just a recap of last week's Cliffhanger.
Live Action TV
- On MST3K in episode 905, "The Deadly Bees". The Teaser shows the crew of the Satellite of Love in blipverts of situations that never happened, with Magic Voice as the narrator.
- On Stargate SG-1 in episode 200, "200". The "Previously On" sequence begins with several real scenes, but then a scene featuring a meeting with the Furlings, who are notable only for their absence. After being treated to a planetary explosion, we cut to Sam Carter saying, "But that never happened!" while reading a script.
- In the Father Ted episode "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse", a 'previously on' scene is shot to mimick those of NYPD Blue, complete with gruff American voiceover and shaky camerawork. The recap scenes were reshot, since the previous episode, "Escape From Victory", was shot in the standard three camera style.
- Cheers once had an amusing recap, narrated in a rambling fashion by Coach, who forgot significant plot details, became confused to the point of trying to give the audience directions to his daughter's house and eventually had to start over.
- Another recap featured Cliff explaining what happened in an episode that happened to be Frasier's first appearance, while showing a slideshow of his (Cliff, that is) vacation in Florida.
- Believe Nothing started each episode with a "Previously On" showing outrageous events that never happened on the show, but did set up the plot of the current episode.
- One episode of Friends started with Joey sitting down explaining the previous episodes to the audience. As he explained each characters subplot he'd end up saying "I don't really know what happened there" and "I don't really know what happened there either". He finished with "Y'know what, hold on, let me go get Chandler."
- Friends recaps were normally done by Phoebe, but naturally Joey messed it up the one time he got to do it.
- My Name Is Earl
- They started the second of a two parter with a parody of Prison Break's "previouslies", because the plot of the episode was Earl and Randy on a manhunt for an escaped convict.
- In the first episode after the 2007 writers strike, a network executive comes on and gives a recap of where they left off before they had had to shut down production.
- The final episode of The Adventures of Lano and Woodley , "I Love You Baby Pt. 2" opens with a Previously On featuring things that never actually happened, such as Col becoming an international jewel thief. The two main characters break into this to explain that it was intended to scare the crap out of viewers who would think "Wait, what? Did I miss all this?!"
- For several seasons during Tom Bergeron's tenure as host, each episode of America's Funniest Home Videos opened with Bergeron intoning "Previously on AFV...", followed by a montage of especially goofy clips from the actual previous episode. (As of the 2012-13 season, the show's gone back to previewing clips of the current episode as the cold opening.)
- The first episode in season 4 of That Mitchell and Webb Look begins with a Previously On clip showing a number of dramatic looking scenes from this sketch show with no continuity whatsoever.
- Arrested Development often started with "previously on Arrested Development" of scenes that weren't in the previous episode.
- The Pigs In Space announcer on The Muppet Show would usually introduce the set-up of this week's episode by claiming it was a continuation of the previous episode. Which it wasn't.
- In the middle of episode 33 of Monty Python's Flying Circus, a narrator played by Terry Jones comes on to recap all the nonsense that happened earlier in the episode. Hilarity Ensues when he gets to this part:
- The 11th season premiere of Frasier, opened with one of the show's distinctive Act Break title cards reading "Previously", showed the Previously On segment, and then put up another title card reading "Subsequently", before showing the episode proper.
- Star Trek: Voyager. The episode "Bride of Chaotica!" starts with a cliffhanger recap of the Show Within a Show — the Flash Gordon-expy The Adventures of Captain Proton! in the style of a 1930's Republic film serial. We then cut to Tom Paris and Harry Kim watching the recap on the imagizer, and complaining that the scene of their rocketship bursting into flame never actually happened.
- The Aquabats! Super Show! opens each episode (including the first) with a montage of random clips, some from the previous episode and some new ones straight out of nowhere.
- Done for laughs in Russian movie The Diamond Arm. The movie is declared as "a story in two parts with a prologue and an epilogue". The "second part" is 10 minutes long, takes part immediately after the end of the first one and is preceded with a "brief summary of the first part"...that is completely unintelligible and scrolls over the screen in a second.
- The "second part" even has a name, "The Bone Leg."
- Parodied on Armando Ianuccis Charm Offensive, in an edition where random members of the audience gave their names and job titles and had Previously On sequences performed for them, with copious helpings of snark.
- Sluggy Freelance, a story-based comic which has been going for 13 years, has to use recaps every so often, and has taken to making them more palatable by couching them in fourth-wall-breaking parody.
- Parodied in a Previously On segment for "Stick Figures In Spaaaaaace!", in which all of the panels shown are picked at random, and while they technically happened previously, they do nothing to actually explain what's going on.
- The webcomic Terror Island parodied this by using its alliterative method of flashbacks.
- This Dinosaur Comics strip, which summarises six previous strips in a panel each.
- Both parodied and used straight in this Shortpacked!, which is just a random collection of dramatic images from the past (some of which are Imagine Spots, and one of which never happened in any form) before Mike gives the necessary past information in a massive Wall of Text in the last panel.
- The The Order of the Stick compilations (aside from the first, obviously) have a few pages where one of the cast members explains what happened in the previous books, in their own idiosyncratic styles. Elan uses finger puppets, V uses a very prepared chalkboard, and Belkar's is presented a la Masterpiece Theatre, with Belkar mostly inserting himself into other famous stories rather than recapping events.
- Previously, on Atop the Fourth Wall... they just spoof the trope, as the segments shown didn't happen at all.
- When Linkara reviews a series of of comics over two videos or more, the second video "recaps" the story with cameo sketches from other contributors to That Guy with the Glasses making dramatic revelations and soap-opera-style shocking twists that never actually happened in either his show or theirs. (Foreshadowing for Linkara's plot is often hidden in between them.)
- AH.com: The Series, "Citation Needed Part 2", starts with a typical example, flashing back to various dramatic scenes loosely based on those from current American dramas but with the AH.com characters, none of which appeared in Part 1 or are referenced again.
- The final episode of LoadingReadyRun's Commodore Hustle series begins with a "Previously on Commodore Hustle" montage. However, the clips chosen are from random scenes throughout the series and explain absolutely nothing about the plot.
- Part two of this video on Mr. Coat And Friends did a Defied Trope version, where the reviewer noted that this is the internet, so we can just watch part 1.
- Courtesy of Jandrew Edits: "Last time on Star Trek: The Next Generation..."
- Previously on The Annoying Orange...
- During The Nostalgia Critic's Star Trek month, he opened the reviews (with the exception of The Motion Picture) with recaps of "the good Star Trek movies" (in the style of the old Batman series). However, since The Undiscovered Country didn't quite connect with Generations, he decided "Fuck it".
- Parodied very well in an episode of The Crack. Jason opens with "Previously, on The Crack, followed immediately by the entire previous episode being replayed at lightning speed, and then the new episode.
- Chuggaaconroy parodies this in one episode of his Super Mario Sunshine Let's Play, with added Rule of Funny to it.
- The Adventures of Captain Bucky and his Space Marshals, in Outer Space starts with a Cliffhanger to a non-existent episode where the rocketship is about to be eaten by an enormous gelatinous space slug.
- The narrator usually does this in Vaguely Recalling JoJo, but characters within the series sometimes do the narration. Sometimes they forget to recap the previous episode or use this segment to stroke their ego.
- in Ev Abridged where the events shown in the recap are basically a bizarro version of the first episode, with Misato declaring Shinji to be "the manliest hero I have ever seen.... and definitely not a pussy" and Gendo states that he is Shinji's "loving father who is always proud of you". It all turns out to be Shinji dreaming.
- And, of course, after that the "actual episode" started with the Warners pleading "We still wanna make a movie!"...
- The 90's animated Spider-Man and X-Men series both did this from episode two on. In the PlayStation Spider-Man 2 game(not the movie adaptation, as the first film hadn't yet been released, not only are we treated to a Previously On, but villains in jail from the first game are spotted by the defeated baddies of the second. The narration and style exactly mirrored the Animated Series.
- Drawn Together was know to do this from time to time, often playing up alot of the typical "Previously On" subjects.
- The Simpsons Parody Episode of 24 opens with "Previously on The Simpsons...", complete with 24-style character descriptions. Obviously, since the previous episode hadn't been a parody of 24, none of the events shown (such as Principal Skinner assigning Lisa to the Counter Truancy Unit) had ever been seen before. They did serve to set up the plot of the episode, though.
- The most recent season ended with the question of whether Ned Flanders and Edna Krabbaple would continue their budding relationship after Ned was freaked out by her sexual history. Instead of a Previously, the resolving episode opens with Comic Book Guy informing us that he doesn't care what happens, because "I spent my summer on a more worthwhile endeavor: savaging Mr. Popper's Penguins online."
- The Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Jacksonville" opens with a recap of events that did not happen in the previous episode, "Glen Campbell". Among these are Space Ghost and Zorak in a jungle, shocked upon hearing of a stolen treasure map, Space Ghost confronting two Moltars, and Zorak revealing that he is pregnant.
- Freakazoid! also parodied the trope, once during an Affectionate Parody of Gargoyles featuring lawn gnomes.
- American Dad! (by the same team as Family Guy) spoofed this in "Merlot Down Dirty Shame". The episode opens with a Previously On segment showing Stan and Roger trapped in an elevator, which causes them to bond and become friends. Over the course of the episode Roger manages to completely screw things up, ending with him burying Stan alive. This is followed by a Next Time On segment where a dirt-covered Stan beats the everloving shit out of Roger (who's wearing a cat costume).
- As noted above, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated does this plays straight during season 2. However, in the episode "The Gathering Gloom", it just shows a montage of every time Shaggy and Scooby have stuffed themselves during the entire series.
- The second part of the Grojband episode "Dreamrever" begins with Corey recapping what happened in part one, only for Laney to interrupt him and say "We don't have time for that, Core".
- The last episode of The Super Hero Squad Show opens with several scenes that have nothing to do with the episode before it, which the Mayor blames on his DVR acting up.
Aversions (episodes expected to follow this trope but don't)
open/close all folders
- The syndicated versions of the Futurama Direct-to-Video Movies (aka Season 5) have no previouslies, regardless of whether they're shown sequentially or not. This can be confusing in situations such as the latter half of "Bender's Game", which takes place in an alternate reality whose plot is driven by the context of earlier "episodes", especially the MacGuffin's purpose.
- As mentioned in one of the folders above, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes did not have any recaps during most of its first season, not even for episodes that had two or three parts.
And now the conclusion...