Zechs Marquise: I'm sorry, Noin. It sounded like you just said "filler."
Noin: I did.
Zechs But this is a GUNDAM series, we don't get fillers. We get crappy recap episodes which nobody likes.
NoinNote:If you're seeking TV Tropes Recaps, go here.
: I know, where nothing ever happens until right at the end.
A type of Clip Show
. An episode that sums up a season or storyline by showing clips of significant events - essentially, a Previously On
that lasts for a whole episode. Often used to help new viewers get acquainted with the storyline. This is important in Japan, where reruns of a series are a rarity. It can also be used to emphasize a Story Arc
as setup to the next arc.
Many anime shows have a recap episode, usually about halfway through the series. Often combined with or immediately followed by a Beach Episode
in order to use Fanservice
to keep the viewers coming back.
Sometimes, combined with a Framing Device
that justifies the episode in-character.
In general, common in Anime
, although in the US reality shows
also do it. Becoming more popular in the West, with shows such as LOST
and Desperate Housewives
employing it, but in general it's much more common to show a brief recap of all relevant storylines at the start of each episode
. Webcomics will rarely use this, and usually only to recap their experiences at conventions.
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Anime and Manga
- Issue 26 of Countdown to Final Crisis. As Linkara put it, "We're halfway through the entire story, so let's just stop the plot and talk about everything that everyone who's been reading the book already knows!"
- Issue 57 on Sonic the Hedgehog was dedicated entirely to going over every story in the comic deemed canon after its Cerebus Syndrome.
- Neon Exodus Evangelion's Recap Episode, The Big Show, is also a Crowning Moment of Funny, because it's narrated by the announcers of SportsCenter.
- Chapter 2* of Paper Mario X 2 can be classified as a Recap Episode. Once Mario receives the letter that kicks off the plot, he starts to remember his adventures that he had with his other friends. The rest of the chapter consists of scenes of the previous Paper Mario X.
- Silent Night Deadly Night Part 2 is sort of a recap movie: most of the first 40 minutes of the 90 minute film are clips of the first Silent Night, Deadly Night being narrated to a psychiatrist by the brother of the santa-suited serial killer from the first movie. It was initially conceived as a bowdlerized version of the original film with a little bit of new footage to replace more graphic scenes, but ended up becoming a "sequel". And once it does get to what happened to the narrator after the first film, more old footage gets a more playful reuse: At one point an out-of-context scene of a Santa Claus holding up a liquor store shows up in a film he and his date are watching - the subject matter of course hits a little too close to home for him.
- The Thumbelina insert in Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny uses this near the end for whatever reason.
- Puppet Master: The Legacy uses clips from the previous seven Puppet Master films to sum up the storyline.
- For awhile, each Harry Potter book would begin with a Recap Chapter, which would basically consist of Harry sitting around and thinking about the events of previous books for the benefit of anyone not starting the series with the first book. Eventually, J. K. Rowling just gave up and started assuming everyone had read the previous books.
- Some sequels open with a prologue that provides a synopsis of what has happened in previous volumes: for example, Jane Yolen's White Jenna.
Live Action TV
- Usually during the last week of December – or sometimes, just December 31 or whenever the last late-December broadcast is – many news programs will have a special type of recap program – the year-end recap, presenting (and if appropriate, updating) the top news stories of the past year.
- Alias had a particularly egregious one of these in its very first season, in which Sydney Bristow spends approximately ninety percent of the running time telling her interrogators either a) what they should have known already, or b) what they did not possess sufficient security clearance to know. Naturally, her reminisces are all illustrated with clips from earlier shows, which puts it in Clip Show territory as well.
- LOST has had recap shows, as well as shows that "recap" events from the perspectives of another group of survivors on the island. These however only air before a normal episode (or before a season premiere) or in place of a repeat instead of being episodes themselves.
- In reality shows, see Survivor, The Apprentice, and The Amazing Race (though only Seasons 6 and 7).
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine makes use of this in their series finale, going to each main character in turn and playing some of the more memorable moments from the previous seven years, accompanied by the instrumental version of an earlier musical number.
- Destinos: An Introduction To Spanish includes many recap episodes. These serve not only to review the plot, but also to review the vocabulary terms presented in the reviewed episodes, and help viewers understand the conversations better.
- Homicide: Life on the Street did a cleverly-framed recap set in a house across the street from a wanted criminal's. The house's owners (audience standins) are asked if they mind the BPD officers using their living room for a while. While they're staking out and have nothing better to do, the cops talk, and the residents' questions (as 'new viewers' to the cops' stories) make it into a recap.
- Power Rangers usually has one right before the Grand Finale; once or twice the writers tried to give them a point by having the characters use all the reflections and remembrances to put together some kind of mystery or figure something out, but they're just an excuse to make a cheap, minimum effort episode right before the season goes out with a bang. However, the 500th episode was one big Recap Episode for the entire franchise, framed as a ranger history lesson Tommy left for Conner, Kira and Ethan. While it omitted certain details (the events of the Mighty Morphin' Alien Rangers mini-season, Karone's non-Astronema history, the events of Forever Red), it was still a fun episode and firmly established that all of the PR seasons take place in the same continuity.
- The Alien Rangers and Karone were not the only Rangers slighted in the 500th episode: While Tanya Sloan was briefly seen, she was never mentioned. Also, we never see Cole Evans in his cvilian form in it, either.
- The Operation Overdrive clip show was quite handy, as it was the most Plot Coupon-driven show of the franchise. That episode allowed the viewers to figure out who had what and which pieces still had to be recovered.
- The Stargate SG-1' recap episode from season 2 managed the impressive feat of getting a massive cliffhanger out of its 10% original content. It was even the Season Finale.
- The "Lab Rats" episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation could be considered one of these.
- The Kamen Rider Dragon Knight episode "The Many Faces of Xaviax" was one of these, framed around scenes where the show's three leads briefed potential ally Chris RamĂrez on what was really going on.
- At least halfway through each of the first three seasons, Desperate Housewives hosted a recap show to catch the viewers up on all the storylines. Grey's Anatomy used to do this as well.
- Farscape did a special recap episode, Farscape Undressed, prior to the third-season premiere.
- The Adventures Of Shirley Holmes had one, where Shirley received an Orchid from an unknown person. A bee that was in the orchid stings her, and she collapses; in her subconscious, she starts looking back at previous adventures trying to figure out who sent the flower, and whether the bee was there intentionally to hurt her, or just there by accident.
- Andromeda, Beastmaster and Mutant X each included an episode where the framing for flashbacks was a trial of a major character (in at least two cases, the framing was literal).
- In an episode in Legend of the Seeker, Richard wakes up on the day he first met Kaylen, but he remembers all the events that passed. As he tries to explain this to the people around him, they show clips of the past episodes. Also, in this reality, he isn't the Seeker.
- And another in season 2, the Creator accuses Richard of serving the Keeper. In recounting his actions, they replay scenes from past episodes.
- The 90's The Outer Limits had an episode composed largely of clips taken from earlier oneshot stories, smushed together into one continuity.
- Documentary Mini-Series America Revolution ends with a two part recap episode centered around Washington reminiscing about the war, during his ride to accept nomination as the first president.
- Parodied in the Community episode "Paradigms of Human Memory". Its framed just like one of these episodes- until the viewer realised we never saw any of this stuff happen.
- One Big Family: The final episode of this 1986 syndicated situation comedy, starring comedian Danny Thomas in his last major TV headlining role, was essentially an extended recap show. Framed around a family dinner, the early clips of the show set up the series' main premise: Jake Hattan, a widowed retiree from Seattle, learns that his son and daughter-in-law were killed in a car accident, and now his now-orphaned grandchildren were sent to live with him. The clips then progress through the 25-episode series, showing Jake's initial resistance to having to raise six kids in retirement, but realizing he has a responsibility and agreeing to do so; then finally some of the lighter material as the children recall lessons learned and the good times they've had in the past year.
- Diff'rent Strokes: Did two such episodes, both early in the series' run (unlike most shows, which wait at least a few years to use this device):
- The first was, appropriately enough, titled "The Retrospective." Aired as the ninth episode in the series during Christmas 1978, this hour-long show cobbled together clips from the first eight shows, with memories of their first two months together shown during Christmas dinner and again around the tree.
- In March 1980, just 45 episodes into the series, came the episode "Valentine's Day Retrospective." This Clip Show/recap episode was framed around Arnold and Willis being locked in a storage closet in their apartment building until they are let out.
- A year-end recap show has been an annual tradition for World Wrestling Entertainment, back into at least the 1970s (when it was the World-Wide Wrestling Federation). Through the 1990s, these year-end specials were basically nothing more than Vince McMahon hosting clips and telling brief stories about the top angles of the year, along with highlights from some of the year's best matches. When Monday Night Raw began airing, the show expanded to air more complete versions of the year's top matches. These recap shows usually also included "Happy New Year"-type messages from both face and heel wrestlers, along with comments about what they hoped to accomplish during the new year.
- The many countdown programs – headed by American Top 40 and American Country Countdown: Each year over the weekend closest to New Year's, most countdown programs do a recap program. It's called a "year end countdown," and essence these "recap" programs arrange in inverse order of relative popularity – from usually No. 100 to No. 1 – the top songs of the year. Stretch stories used for these programs often highlight general chart accomplishments and statistics, plus individual highlights of the performers.
- Bob and George had one of these, lasting quite a few strips, hosted by the resident mute character, Nate.
- Parodied in El Goonish Shive here. Played straight here.
- Fite! manages one without text.
- Used straight, but cleverly justified, in Girl Genius. The heroine is invited to dinner and, when asked about her life, gives the host and us an Info Dump of all the events that have occurred beforehand. Then she collapses into her pudding; turns out the food had been laced with a triple overdose of truth serum.
- Problem Sleuth, with its Kudzu Plot, has two complex recaps.
- Sluggy Freelance will often spend a whole strip recapping important plot points at the beginning or the end of an arc. The characters are aware of the fact that they're providing a recap, and take pride in doing a whole recap in one breath or making it sound halfway conversational.
- Triangle And Robert have a small device called "Recapulon" which spends strips 1446 (Sep 16th 2003) to 1494 (Nov 3rd 2003) recapping just some of the plot up to that point.
- In The Order of the Stick, Elan can cry because someone does recap so neatly.
- The last Breather Episode of Avatar The Last Airbender before the Grand Finale, rather than a Clip Show, is a recap episode where the characters watch a play depicting their exploits of the three previous seasons. Actually it's not as much recap as it is a parody - including the 'real' characters sinking through their seats in shame.
- It's a very meta parody, as well. Like Aang being played by a girl, some confusion as to whether Jet died, and an entire arc being summarized with "Let's not go there". In fact, much of the parody actually comes from complaints of the fandom.
- Of course, the play also ends with a Downer Ending for the protagonists, where Azula and the Fire Lord win. Propaganda at its finest.
- Also, the second-to-last episode of season 2, where Aang reflects on different emotions he's felt during the show to unlock his chakras and embrace the Avatar State. Thankfully, there's also a lot of great original material.
- "Reflections" in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) recapped all of the turtles' encounters with the Shredder up until then.
- Beavis And Butthead did a Grand Finale that's a recap of the entire series. Though at one point they opted instead for an Overly Long Gag consisting just of Beavis sitting on the couch.
- The short-lived Silver Surfer cartoon, despite being AWESOME in most respects, inexplicably spoiled its second episode by devoting a huge chunk of it to recapping the events of the first episode in clips.
- The even-shorter-lived Clerks cartoon parodied this in the very second episode made. What compounded this even further was that, due to Executive Meddling, this was actually the very first episode ever aired.
- Transformers Prime has an interesting example in the form of the episode "Grilled", which takes the form of one of the Autobot's government liaison briefing his superior; while it is composed almost entirely of clips and summaries of characters and events, it nevertheless, conveys new information in the form of the official government position on and interpretation of the events up to that point.
- The Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps DVD movie Dreams Do Come True is essentially this. There is a plot, but there's a lot of material that is just flashbacks of past stories and songs.
- Moral Orel: "Orel's Movie Premiere" is a variaton: Orel screens some of his stop-motion films for several of the supporting characters (animated in the same style he's shown filming over the show's credits) which tell the events of the first 3 (intended) episodes. While trying to tell the events in "Charity" he gets cut off by local bully Joe, who starts narrating his own story over it (which also refers to events from earlier episodes). Not clear if it's intentional, but this episode airs before "Nature."
- The Motorcity episode "Threat Level: Texas!" has Texas being interrogated by Tooley of KaneCo, who retells events from the episodes "Battle for Motorcity," "Power Trip" and "Going Dutch." Only he's an Unreliable Narrator, has a Self-Serving Memory or is messing with Tooley; the flashbacks are shown in a way that portray him as the hero instead of Mike Chilton, and the Burners (and others) are shown to be very out of character.