Remember the New Guy
What do you mean, "Larry wasn't always in the show?"

Ada: You... knew each other?
The Dark Id (as Leon): Well, the script says I did, but hell if I've ever seen that guy before the cutscene just after the fight with Todd.

A previously unmentioned character who suddenly appears without notice and who we are told was really there all along but just... off screen or something. It comes about because the writers want to introduce a new character, but don't want to come up with a complex introduction where everyone meets them and learns what they're like- it's just plain easier (and lazier) to pretend that everyone automatically knows them, and the relationship is ready-made. "Oh hey, that's my old rival!" "Oh, this is my brother/sister whom I've never told you about," etc.

In other words, this is a relative or a friend or even a rival whom we really should have met, or at least heard about before, since the other characters would have us believe they have been crewing the same starship, working on the same project or sitting on the other side of the same classroom for years.

This can work if the character (and the actor) proves compelling enough for the audience to suspend their disbelief, or that it's possible nobody mentioned them "on-camera" before (like if the show is set in a school, and the character is a casual acquaintance of the others but hasn't done anything significant to the plot until now). It's also possible if there's an in-story reason for the character to have been incognito (perhaps he/she was at the time a spy, or an escaped convict), and the character was there in plain sight all along, but disguised as one of the show's many extras. Among the most clumsy versions is the "Long-Lost Daughter/Son." This trope can be especially disruptive if the new addition doesn't fit the tone of the series.

A subversion of this trope can come into play when a newly-introduced character actually wasn't there before, but the characters believe they were due to Fake Memories or a Cosmic Retcon.

Related to (no pun intended) Long-Lost Uncle Aesop, but while Long-Lost Uncle Aesop is usually a one-shot character to deliver An Aesop, Remember the New Guy is basically a new main character retconned out of thin air. (In fact, the term "Retroactive Continuity" was originally coined to describe this trope).

If the character is going to be killed off straight away, this trope can be used to turn him into a Mauve Shirt beforehand.

Compare Cain and Abel and Seth, Cousin Oliver and New Neighbours as the Plot Demands. Can often occur in combination with Suspiciously Similar Substitute, when an actor is no longer available and a new character is quickly brought in with minimal introduction to fill the role. Contrast Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, in which a character disappears with no explanation. When an adaptation takes steps to avert this, it's an Early-Bird Cameo.

Straight examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Orin the Pink Ninja in Akazukin Chacha is revealed later to have been in class the whole time, but clinging to the ceiling.
  • Angel Beats!: Every acquaintance of an NPC seems to have this trope, considering how Yuri had a supposed friend when she was almost Brainwashed into becoming one.
  • Aoi Kuineda's primary circle of Red Tails from Beelzebub consisted of Nene, Yuka, Ryouko, and Chikai. Then, a random, never before mentioned purple haired member was inserted into the group, and treated as if she's been there from the very start.
  • A particularly frustrating example occurs in Black Clover, where in one arc Asta and Noelle meet up with a group of three mages, Fanzell, Dominante, and Mariella, in the Witches Forest Arc. Though they have never appeared in the manga before, Asta and Noelle are not only familiar with them, but have apparently already helped them escape from the Diamond kingdom, and even received trained with them. The characters were originally introduced in a light novel that serves as a side story to the manga, but it can be infuriating when the manga has flashbacks to events that never occurred in the manga, not only that, but it's nearly impossible to tell when exactly the events of the light novel took place relative to the manga.
  • Bleach:
    • Uryuu is first introduced in Chapter 34 as Ichigo's classmate and the highest-scoring student in the entire grade, yet Orihime has to explain to Ichigo who he is while Tatsuki lampshades the Running Gag of Ichigo's careless forgetfulness. However, careful reading of earlier chapters reveals Uryuu in the background of several panels, including Chapter 1's cover, and his father is mentioned in a throw-away line in Chapter 7, so Kubo deliberately invoked this trope.
    • A rather heartbreaking/nightmarish version of this occurs during the Fullbringer arc much later in the series: Shūkurō Tsukishima makes everyone think Ichigo has gone insane by using his powers to insert himself into their memories, making them think he's a close friend and ally who helped them in their quests all the way back to the beginning of the series, so they have no idea why Ichigo is furious at and attacking Tsukishima.
  • Shingo Aoi from Captain Tsubasa was introduced in the World Youth arc as a Tsubasa fanboy who went to say goodbye to him in the airport as he left to Brazil.
  • One reason Ryo of Digimon Tamers is seen as a Canon Sue is this. Even if one takes into account his huge backstory (that most of the viewers outside of Japan never even got to see until later) that explains his presence, his sudden appearance still comes a bit out of left field even with the proper context.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dr. Gero is a perfect example: he was a scientist that worked for the Red Ribbon Army and created the androids for them, including the previously seen Android 8, but he was never mentioned in the Red Ribbon Army Saga. It's only when he shows up in the Android Saga years later in-universe, all this time he was making more androids until he made ones that could defeat Goku and the others, and is also revealed that the whole time he was spying on the main characters with a hidden camera and collecting cells from them to create Cell. It even creates a plot hole in the anime, where Dr. Flappe was said to be the creator of Android 8 in the RR Saga, which was only addressed in a supplemental book that states they both worked on it together.
    • Speaking of, the villain of the video game Dragon Ball Fighterz is a God-Created Canon Foreigner named Android 21, who is stated to be another former Red Ribbon Army scientist.
    • The God of Destruction Beerus from the movie Battle of Gods is a semi-example. One of the strongest beings in the entire universe (in fact, the only one stronger is his attendant Whis), no one ever mentioned him until the movie, even though King Kai, the Kaioshins, Freeza, and Vegeta all knew about him, yet in the series they named many weaker people as "the strongest in the universe". Although this could also be explained by the fact that they were referring to the strongest "people". Beerus is a God and just like all the Kais, is not factored into mortal power rankings.
    • Dragon Ball Super introduces Bulma's older sister Tights; both Goku (who's known Bulma since they were kids) and Vegeta (her husband) react to this news with "You have a sister?!" Of course, the meta reason is that Tights is a Cast Transplant from Toriyama's manga Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, which was written almost 20 years after the Dragon Ball manga ended. Jaco himself could also count, since Bulma has known him since she was little but it apparently never came up in the intervening decades.
  • In Fairy Tail, Gildarts gets this treatment in the anime. It was supposed to end before he was introduced, so the five or so mentions of his name before the Edolas arc are cut out.
  • Yoki and May in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are this to viewers who haven't read the manga or watched the 2003 anime version. They cut the Youswell episode which serves as a proper introduction to Yoki, and May was also supposed to be introduced later in Youswell. To Brotherhood-only viewers, Yoki and May are just two random people who join Scar because they somehow know of the Elric brothers, and Yoki wants revenge for some reason. Yoki's back story and desire for revenge are explained later in the show in a series of quick flashbacks. These flashbacks occur several episodes after Yoki is introduced however, still leaving people who had never read the manga or seen the 2003 anime thoroughly confused for a while. Hilariously, when Yoki actually meets them, Ed himself doesn't remember him at first, despite ruining his life.
  • Queen Diamond in Kaitou Joker. She's Silver Heart's granddaughter and grew up alongside the main protagonist and his rival, but doesn't show up or even get mentioned until chapter 41.
  • In Lucky Star, when the cast starts their senior year, Kagami is approached by Misao and Ayano, noting that they are glad to be in Kagami's class again. Kagami then walks off, Misao notes their position as background characters, and the two then become members of the regular cast. Misao did make a brief appearance prior to this, and she even had a line... with a different voice actress than the one she had when she started showing up regularly. Ayano also made a brief, unnamed appearance as a participant in the sports festival before becoming official. In the manga, though, the two were at first unnamed and were only intended to be random classmates of Kagami's class. It was later when they were actually given names and personalities.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Most good characters from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS have met the characters from previous seasons before. It's justified by the fact that there was a ten year Time Skip. At that point, it would have been surprising if they didn't know new characters.
    • Inverted with Corona Timil from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, who has been Vivio's friend since shortly after the StrikerS epilogue. While it is also played straight, Corona remembers characters from previous seasons, even in cases when she doesn't meet them again.
    • Done with Thoma, the main character of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force. Something of an odd case, since he seems to have met everyone in the Time Skip between Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS and Force.
      • Touma's Belated Backstory, presented in part via flashback chapters, shows that he first met Subaru (and through her, the rest of the Nakajima extended family) in the apparent aftermath of StrikerS Sound Stage X. It's also worth noting that outside of the Nakajima family (and Teana), the other, more established main characters don't know Touma (at best, for instance, Nanoha knows of him), and they all introduce themselves properly once the circumstances allow for it.
  • In My Monster Secret, the two main characters first met Karen at chapter 60, yet it's revealed later that she's the Student Council President of their school. In the next chapters it's shown that Nagisa (the Class Representative) and Mikan (president of the news club) have known her since the start. Apparently, normal students are unaware of her existence, or that they even have a student council at all.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto already knows the members of Team 8 and 10 and is later shown interacting with some of them in flashbacks during his time at the academy even though they do not appear to be anywhere in the classroom in Chapter 1 or 3 of the manga, even in wider shots showing the entire classroom. Likewise, Sakura and Sasuke first appear as Naruto's classmates in Chapter 3, but are nowhere to be found in the classroom scenes in Chapter 1. Averted in the anime, where all of aforementioned classmates make brief Early Bird Cameos in the respective episodes. Possibly a case of Fridge Brilliance; Naruto had failed the Graduation Exam twice already, so he might simply have been moved to another class that had not taken the exam yet. There are at least 10 teams of three Genin so there should be at least 30 new Genin but we barely see half that number in any scene.
    • Karin who first appears later in the series is shown as a participant of the Chunin Exams from earlier in the series having first met Sasuke during the Forest of Death portion of the exams, yet she did not actually appear in chapters that originally depicted the Chunin Exams.
    • Another example: the presence of Danzo Shimura and his organization "Root", only introduced as of Part II/Shippuuden, having largely affected the behind-the-scenes politics and histories of major characters. Which is, in-universe, what they precisely intended to be.
    • Hamura Ootsutsuki, the brother of the Sage of the Six Paths, Hagoromo and inheritor of Kaguya's Byakugan. Not once has he ever been hinted at existing (in-universe reasoning is the Uchiha Tablet being modified), but since his introduction, he's been noted as helping Hagoromo defeat the Juubi, a feat originally seen as a solo act by Hagoromo.
    • Boruto introduces a bunch of kids that weren't seen in Boruto: Naruto the Movie, Naruto Gaiden, or the original Distant Epilogue. They however are good friends with Boruto during his Academy days. The episode showing Naruto's inauguration short had new scenes added with some of them in it.
  • Pokémon:
    • Since Episode 35 ("The Legend of Dratini") of Indigo League was not aired outside of Japan and a couple other Asian countries, the 30 Tauros Ash accidentally caught in that episode appear to come out of nowhere in "Showdown at the Po-ké Corral".
    • During the Battle Frontier arc, which took place in Kanto (the setting of the first season), second- and third-generation Pokémon were portrayed as being indigenous to Kanto... even though no one seemed to know about them the first time around (barring an Early-Bird Cameo or two like Misty's Togepi, and even then the cameos were presented as one-of-a-kind in the region).
    • Pokeathlons weren't in the original Pokémon Gold and Silver, instead introduced in the remakes, which were released nearly ten years later. Despite this, Ash and Brock act like they had experience in the sport when Lyra mentions them in Diamond and Pearl.
    • Serena is supposedly one of Ash's Childhood Friends. Naturally, since her design is based on the default female player character from Pokémon X and Y, she first appeared in the anime arc based on said games and was never seen or mentioned prior. Downplayed in that Ash helped her out one day at summer camp and she clung to that memory; given that Ash has always been a Friend to All Living Things,note  said memory didn't stand out for him, though he does remember her as the "straw-hat girl" when she recalled that meeting.
  • The Pretty Cure All Stars movies inflict this whenever extra Cures show up between the last movie and the current ones. New Stage 3 had this as a minor gag when Grell and Enyen go to confront the Doki Doki Pretty Cure team and are bewildered at the sight of Aguri and she the same. It's only when Mana walks up that the make the connection.
  • Ai Kaga of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei first appears in the last episode of the first series. She explains that she hid away from the camera, believing that if she appeared it would drive down the ratings.
  • Just as their western brethren, Transformers anime can be guilty of this as well. Transformers Armada offers a baffling example, where the humongous Autobot Overload makes his grand intro by randomly rolling up in the middle of an episode to act as Optimus Prime's trailer. It's never explained where this guy came from, which is made even weirder by the fact that he's supposedly a small Mini-Con robot called Rollout who wears "Overload" as Powered Armor. Despite that gathering these Mini-Cons was the main point of the series' first half, with many episodes being dedicated to finding one or two "regular" Mini-Cons, here we have one that comes with his own set of gigantic armor and can look the regular robot cast in the eye, yet he's the one not to get an intro episode.
  • Because of its episodic nature, this tends to happen in Uzumaki. One notable example is when a chapter near the middle of the manga introduces Kirie's pregnant cousin, Keiko. Even though Kirie's clearly close with Keiko, this is the first time we ever hear of her.
  • In the fourth season Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Yusuke Fujiwara uses the "false memory" variant on almost everyone (see below), but it's played straight when Fubuki remembers him. Fujiwara was his classmate and he was connected with the old Obelisk Dorm and Fubuki's disappearance prior to season 1.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's featured Kyosuke Kiryu and Crow Hogan, who were apparently always best friends with the main characters despite not appearing in any of the flashbacks with Yusei and Jack in the past. Crow is particularly bizarre, since in prior episodes, Yusei was established as hopelessly scrounging for parts in Satellite to build a D-Wheel that even works, but Crow, also a Satellite resident in even worse economic straits, is introduced with a high-spec D-Wheel in perfect condition that can fly.
    • Crow's high-quality D-Wheel is later justified, since he inherited it from his late friend Robert Pearson, who was a luminary in building D-Wheels and he was even offered a job in Neo-Domino City.
  • Parodied with Rise in Yuru-Yuri. She's supposedly been the head of the student council from day one, even though none of the four lead girls have ever seen her. To drive this home, a Flash Back shows that she was present at the group's trip to the beach, but stood just out of view of the camera.
  • Not exactly a character, but the A Certain Magical Index movie Miracle of Endymion does this with the Space Elevator Endymion. Lampshaded when Index sees the structure for the first time and asks what it is and where it came from. Touma pokes fun at her, comments that her Photographic Memory must not be as perfect as she thought, and claims the structure has always been there. He has a flashback montage that shows the structure edited into the background of several important past scenes. Index gets really confused, as she is sure she's seeing it for the first time.
  • Sabo from One Piece. We are made aware of the shared history of sworn brothers Luffy and Ace throughout the show. Even seeing some quick flashes of them sharing a ritual to become brothers. But when they finally show the full flashbacks of the two meeting and developing their relation, we are suddenly introduced to a new character, their third sworn brother, Sabo. Even the previously mentioned flashback of their ritual suddenly had Sabo involved in it too. There was the very subtle hint in Ace's misspelled tattoo (ASCE, with the S crossed over), that was downright impossible to know what meant, and what we saw of the brother-making-ritual contained three cups - only with Sabo, the drinker of the third, never being shown.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog
    • Similar to the show; Dulcy the Dragon was fitted in with nothing more then a small back-up story introduction which gave her backstory and essentially went "She's been part of the Freedom Fighters all this time! Honest!" Dulcy was later phased out of the comic, only appearing in the backgrounds in the last couple years and later not even those. From "remember" to "forgotten"? Post-Super Genesis Wave, Dulcy has been reintroduced to the (extended) cast. As this was in a story arc that added several characters, and showed flashbacks to her introduction (in the past of the new universe) it was less jarring than the first time.
    • Lampshaded example when Dr. Eggman meets a leader of one of his armies known as Axel the Water Buffalo. He's quick to say he recognizes him and recruits him in trying to get to the Death Egg II. Orbot's quick to point out that they've never seen him before and Eggman has already figured that out - he admits that he was too hasty in stopping Super Sonic's Chaos Control, and realizes that a lot of Mobius has been altered..
  • Astro City does this for essentially all of the superpowered characters. Because the series is written as if there is a longstanding continuity (which there isn't), most people are introduced in one issue and will have their origins explained many issues later, if at all.
  • Baron von Blitzschlag is a minor example, created as a former Nazi supervillain now working as a research scientist for The Initiative. He was supposed to have fought several World War II era superheroes, but he was never a particularly notable villain. Blitzshlag was originally meant to be Arnim Zola, but since Ed Brubaker was using the character in Captain America, writer Dan Slott created a new character to fill the same role.
  • Jeph Loeb introduced a new Batman character called Thomas Elliot. He was apparently a childhood friend of Bruce's, and Bruce holds him in incredibly high regard, and it's heavily implied that Thomas partly inspired Bruce's methods as Batman... Which is why we never heard of him before the story arc. This was (almost) an exact copy of a Superman story just a few years before. During Zero Hour, we were introduced to Kenny Braverman. Childhood Friends with the hero — check. Been here all along — check. Becomes a Big Bad (Conduit) — check. Drives our hero to the brink of madness — check. Tries to kill our hero — check.
  • Happened twice to DC Comics' Black Lightning. Judd Winick created an adult daughter for him called Thunder, with her existence Handwaved away with a line saying that she'd mostly lived with her mother after her parents' divorce. Then, a few years later, Geoff Johns introduced a second daughter, Lightning, and this time there wasn't much effort put into reconciling the fact that she'd never been seen or mentioned before this.
  • This is by now many years old, but the introduction of Cable happened this way too; right when he was introduced everyone was treating him as if he had always been around. Which, considering his backstory, is either Fridge Brilliance or Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • Isaiah Bradley, the black Captain America. He was introduced in 2003, but was retconned into having been active in Marvel's Golden Age during World War II. He's supposedly a pillar of Marvel's black superhero community, and characters like Luke Cage and Black Panther are shown to be in awe of him.
    • Golden Girl and the Human Top. Both of them were created in the 70's to add a little diversity (Golden Girl being Japanese-American and Human Top being black) to Marvel's Golden Age, and were retroactively stated to have fought alongside Captain America and Bucky as members of The Invaders.
    • Ed Brubaker's Captain America run introduced Codename Bravo, one more of Cap's supposed allies from World War II. He also introduced Queen Hydra, a female HYDRA agent from the same era.
  • The short-lived series The Crew revolved around James "War Machine" Rhodes trying to take down the drug lords responsible for the death of his younger sister. Not only was the sister never mentioned prior to this, she was pretty much never mentioned again after the series ended either! The sister was eventually mentioned again years later in the Iron Patriot limited that it could be established that she had a daughter, Lila Rhodes, who is apparently very close with James despite having never been seen or mentioned before. The series also added a previously-unmentioned son of the above-mentioned Isaiah Bradley - Josiah al hajj Saddiq - who'd apparently been around since the sixties and had become a superhero.
  • Daredevil's childhood mentor Stick wasn't introduced until Daredevil #176, which was published a whopping 17 years or so after the title's debut.
  • Paulie in Deadly Class. Having never appeared previously, he runs into Marcus during finals and insists that he's always been around, is friends with everybody, and is known for his lucky red shirt. Amusingly, he makes it through finals unscathed, and goes on to have a cozy spot as Viktor's Yes-Man by the class's sophomore year.
  • This trope was the favorite approach of Carl Barks when introducing new characters in the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, and several of his successors take similar approaches. Characters like Uncle Scrooge, Gladstone Gander, Gyro Gearloose and even the Beagle Boys were all introduced in stories that treated them as if they'd always been there, just not on-page (though Scrooge admittedly is introduced as a solitary miser who hardly ever gets in touch). In this case it works, largely because the Duck comics tend to be standalone stories that operate on Negative Continuity.
    • This approach is also used by Italian authors: Brigitta McBridge is stated in her debut story to have known Scrooge since at least 1898 (back when Scrooge had moved to Whitehorse and became a businessman), with a later story showing their first encounter actually dates to when Scrooge was a prospector and had just struck rich; Jubal Pomp debuts as a recurring annoyance of Scrooge, and a later story actually puts their first meeting at the same time as the one between Scrooge and Brigitta; and Gideon McDuck was presented as Scrooge's younger brother (this was many years before The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck was published. Nowadays Gideon appears from time to time, but his relation to Scrooge is left out).
  • An issue from 1989 revealed that Doctor Strange had a little brother named Vic Strange. The excuse for why we'd never heard of him was that Vic had been hit by a car after an argument with Stephen, with his body placed in cryogenic stasis until medical science could advance far enough to save his life. That explains why Vic had never been seen before, but not why Strange had never mentioned him prior to this.
  • In the Doctor Who (Titan) Twelfth Doctor story, "The Swords of Kali", a character named Tiger Maratha is introduced who was supposedly a companion of the Fourth Doctor, only to be instantly killed off by the story's villains.
  • In DC's second Hawk and Dove series, Dawn Granger (the second Dove) was stated to be an only child. Flash forward to 2005: After Dawn was retconned to have actually been alive after her supposed death in Armageddon 2001 (a long story), she showed up in the pages of Teen Titans with a bratty younger sister named Holly Granger, who was apparently away living in England all this time. What made it stranger is that they tried to rectify this by explaining Dawn's parents were divorced to provide a Parent Trap-like story, when in the Hawk and Dove series they were shown to be happily married with no issues in their relationship. To make things even MORE confusing: Holly's personality, appearance, speech patterns (does she speak British slang or not?), and her age wound up being cases of Depending on the Writer and Depending on the Artist. It's no wonder they eventually killed her off. Shame they never gave her a solid backstory. DC did have several Crisis Crossovers since Dawn's "death" which rebooted history, including one her erstwhile partner, Hawk/Monarch/Extant was a major player in.
  • Hawkeye:
    • Trick Shot, the man who taught Clint how to use a bow and arrow, was introduced this way via a Retcon. He was created to fix the Plot Holes that sprung up from having Hawkeye learn archery from the Swordsman, who had never demonstrated any proficiency with a bow.
    • As was Barney, Clint's older brother (and later Evil Counterpart). Hawkeye had never mentioned having an older brother in any of his previous spotlight tales, but in The Avengers #64, Barney shows up out of nowhere, and the Avengers all already know him as a powerful underworld figure (though they don't learn he's related to Clint until the end of the issue).
  • When the Iron Man series was rebooted following Avengers Disassembled with Warren Ellis at the helm, suddenly Tony had an old mentor in Sal Kennedy and an old love interest (one important enough in Tony's life that he actually remembered her when she called) in Maya Hansen. Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan (central characters of Tony's supporting cast since six months after his first appearance) were nowhere to be found. Another reboot post-Avengers vs. X-Men introduced us to Arno Stark, who was revealed to be Howard and Maria Stark's biological son, turning Tony into an adopted child. Turns out he was incredibly ill and was hidden away from an alien.
  • Marvel Comics character Jessica Jones was created in 2001, but has been retconned into various parts of Marvel history, most notably hanging out with Peter Parker the day he was fatefully bitten by an irradiated spider. She later gained powers of her own and was mind-controlled into picking a fight with The Avengers, leading directly to a severe beating and coma. She recovered with the help of Jean Grey. All of the preceding "happened" before she even debuted in comics. What's more, her origin involved witnessing Daredevil's origin; she's been inserted into the fiction that far back. One Spider-Man comic goes to the point of using a panel from the '60s Amazing Spider-Man comic and pointing that she was one of the background characters featured in the panel.
  • General Glory, a Captain America parody from Justice League International. Justified since knowledge of his existence was actively suppressed by the government, leading most people to assume he was just a comic book character.
  • Skyrocket of The Power Company was introduced as a heroine from what would've been about the Silver Age that you simply hadn't heard about. Josiah Power hired her into the Power Company for "credibility"— Meaning that her being around brought the respect of guys like the Green Lantern.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Early in his career, Spidey fought a trio of criminal mercenaries called the Enforcers rather often, Fancy Dan, Montana, and the original Ox, the last little more than a Dumb Muscle thug named Raymond Bloch. Eventually, Ox left the other two to join Mr. Fear's Fellowship of Fear, where he was killed — or so it seemed — from a fall during a battle with Daredevil. It turned out, however, that Raymond had a twin brother named Ronald who was also a Dumb Muscle thug, but whom Raymond had never mentioned. Nonetheless, Ronald joined up with the other two members of the Enforcers to take his brother's place. (And stayed with them when Raymond turned up alive years later, working for The Kingpin.)
    • The limited series 'The Thousand' introduced another of Peter Parker's classmates who was there during the spider-bite incident. Unfortunately this was a super-smart sadistic bully, noted for making young Parker eat 'dog sick'. The nutbar figured things out and ate the now dead power-granting spider. Said bully became a body-hopping crazed killer. It got worse from there.
    • Original Sin introduced us to Cindy Moon, who would go on to become Silk. She was introduced as another person who was there at the experiment that gave Peter his powers and was even bitten by the same spider before it died. She was picked up by Ezekiel Sims in an attempt to protect her from Morlun and never bothered to tell anyone connected to him.
    • Carlie Cooper was supposedly good friends with Gwen Stacy and Gwen's dad Captain Stacy supposedly worked with Carlie's dad as well. This completely endeared her fandom and stopped the phrase "Mary Sue" from being associated with her.
    • Subverted with Clayton Cole, a 2014-debuting teenager who was also "introduced" as having been around during Peter's high school/early Spider-Man days. This mechanically gifted but otherwise chronically shy and introverted, home-schooled teen was one of Spidey's first and "biggest"note  fans from his wrestling days, and even helped (in his mind) spread the transitioning Superhero's popularity. Deciding he wants to be a hero, too (in part to be close to his idol, but also for fame soaking-up purposes), he creates his own costumed identity, complete with homemade sound-based powers, dubbing himself "Clash". Alas, his first meeting in-costume with Spidey didn't go so well, ending with Spidey declaring/treating the bumbling newbie as just another villain. The popularity his Clash persona ends up receiving going straight to his head coupled with Spidey spurning him causes Clayton to snap, culminating into the final "confrontation" at school, with Spidey unmasking the newly-dubbed "Creepy Clayton". This Trope is subverted in Clayton's case because, despite the trappings, no one actually remembers Clayton; for Peter, he was nothing more than an early career blip that largely resolved itself. Clayton also has more of a happier ending later in his life then many similar others, and despite his and Spidey's history, doesn't really become more than a minor supporting character in Peter's life.Details 
    • In Mark Waid and James Robinson's Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business, it is revealed that Spider-Man supposedly has a long-lost younger sister named Teresa. Supposedly, because it is unclear whether or not Teresa is really his sister since Mentallo was responsible for putting a perception filter effect on her.
    • Chip Zdarsky's Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man introduces Hophni Mason, the heroic brother of the Tinkerer. He's been repairing superhero tech for years, and counts characters like Ant-Man, The Falcon and even Iron Man among his clientele. Peter is completely surprised to learn of Hophni's existence, and wonders why his fellow heroes never told him about the guy.
  • Transformers:
    • Originally in Marvel's Transformers comic, Sparkplug Witwicky's teenage son was named Buster, and he was clearly supposed to be the same character as Spike Witwicky on the TV series. Four years later, Hasbro released the toy Fortress Maximus, who came with a figure named Spike Witwicky. So, in the comics, Buster was suddenly revealed to have an older brother named Spike who had been away from home all this time.
    • The Marvel comic also did a lot of this with introducing new characters whenever their toys came out. The Decepticon Pretenders are particularly obvious, because the six of them are claimed to have been there all along among Scorponok's crew.
    • Played straight in The Transformers: All Hail Megatron, because Scourge (who makes his IDW debut here) is part of the neutral dead universe faction of Transformers, despite all of them being established in a past miniseries, Scourge just shows up among the casualties, and the narration hints he was there all along.
  • The Transformers: Combiner Wars: Due to the new combiner toys getting shilled out, Blackjack and Off Road show up amongst the Stunticons just in time for their inevitable combination. While Off Road is addressed as being the new guy on the team, Blackjack's treated like he's been there all along, which is odd considering in issue 2 Blackjack was a member of the Secret Police assigned to the Stunticons.
  • Toni Ho from New Avengers (2015) is the daughter of Ho Yinsen, a prominent character from Iron Man's origin. The fact that she'd never been mentioned or seen before (despite Yinsen's son having appeared in the past) was explained as her parents having divorced when she was a kid, meaning she grew up in America while her dad stayed in Asia.
  • Ava Ayala, the most recent White Tiger and the younger sister of the original. This wasn't an issue in Ultimate Spider-Man, the cartoon she was created for, but became a bit weird when she became a Canon Immigrant. The original White Tiger now has a teenage sister we've never heard of, who's significantly younger than his own niece.
  • Sam Alexander, the newest Nova, is another USM Canon Immigrant who fell into similar problems. He worked fine in the context of the show, but in the comics, the Nova Corps had been wiped out several years earlier during The Thanos Imperative. To justify Sam's existence, the writers had to come up with the idea that there had been a second, black-clad group of Nova Centurions (who Sam's dad was a part of) that had been around for years. Later slightly justified during Original Sin, where it's revealed that the black Novas were essentially a rogue splinter group, and that Sam's dad infiltrated their ranks to keep tabs on their shady activities.
  • In general, this is the case for many Canon Immigrant characters. For instance, when Melinda May made the jump from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the comics, she was introduced as a legendary S.H.I.E.L.D. operative that had apparently been around for years, despite never having been seen or mentioned in any prior comics. This specific case is slightly justified though, since S.H.I.E.L.D. is a massive organization that employs tens of thousands of agents across the globe. It makes sense that we've only ever met a small fraction of them in the actual books.
  • Black Panther:
    • Princess Shuri, T'Challa's little sister, was introduced as a young woman in a 2005 issue of the series, with everyone acting like she's always been there. The same writer also gave T'Challa an unnamed younger brother who was killed by Klaw, though unlike Shuri, he's almost never remembered or mentioned.
    • The Dora Milaje didn't exist until Christopher Priest's run, but are nonetheless treated as an indispensable part of the mythos at this point. Same goes for Hunter, T'Challa's adopted older brother.
    • Ramonda, the Queen Mother of Wakanda, didn't exist until 1989. However, unlike many other examples of this trope, there's a good reason why she wasn't seen or talked about beforehand. She had been kidnapped and imprisoned shortly after T'Chaka's death, causing everyone to assume she'd left the country to be with a new man.
  • The Black Order were introduced in Infinity as Thanos' elite generals, with the implication that they'd been around for quite some time. At one point, Supergiant even mentions that Thanos recruited her from an orphanage back when she was a child. The team had never appeared or been mentioned in any of the decades worth of previous stories featuring Thanos, and in fact, Thanos had traditionally been depicted as relying on others as little as possible when he could help it.
  • X-Men does this over and over and over again. Siblings like Sunfire's sister Sunpyre and Xavier's twin Cassandra Nova were always there. The "original" new team of all-new-all-different X-Men consisted of Vulcan, Petra, Sway and Darwin, who mostly died (two of them got better). Sage has always been Xavier's personal spy since she was the first mutant he met, but never did anything (nothing mutantly, anyway, she was an established if extreeeemely minor character for decades) during the regular stories. Elias Bogan has always been a long-lived influential figure of the Hellfire Club.
    • Cassandra Nova at least justified it - she was deliberately hiding her presence, and since she has Psychic Powers stronger than Charles' it's not inconceivable that she could.
    • The situation with Sunpyre was actually lampshaded. Immediately after meeting her, Jean Grey confusedly stated that she'd known Sunfire for years and he'd never mentioned having a little sister.
    • Sage was present in the comics for years, and her mutant and spy status is arguably a case of either this trope or Retcon: in fact, it was teased at off-and-on during several of Claremont's plot threads. The origin story of the New Mutants, for example, has her randomly help the New Mutants against Pierce and the Hellfire Club (her employers). Xavier does declare not to trust her, but we're never told if it's just to cover up her status as The Mole, or if he's afraid of a Becoming the Mask scenario. Anyway, that was 20 years before Sage's reveal as Xavier's spy.
  • The original Baron Zemo was introduced this way. He was stated to have been one of Captain America's deadliest foes back during World War II (he was even responsible for the death of Bucky Barnes), but his first published appearance was a Silver Age issue of The Avengers. Zemo is an interesting case. He was introduced in said Avengers issue and just a few months later appeared in an issue of Sgt. Fury (a flashback series set during WW2) to cement his place as a 40s era villain.
  • The Janice Lincoln version of the Beetle is an interesting example. She was around as a minor villain for a little while, but wasn't revealed to be the daughter of Tombstone (a fairly prominent Spider-Man villain) until she started appearing in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. The fact that we'd never seen her before was subtly lampshaded, as it turns out that her dad purposefully steered her away from the world of costumed supervillainy so that she could make even more money as an attorney.
  • The Blue Marvel was introduced as a black Silver Age superhero who was forced to retire due to the institutional racism of the 60s. He ended up coming out of his exile during the 21st century to help The Avengers battle his old nemesis.
  • Parodied (?) with Deadpool as there have been a number of comics and mini-series that place him in various eras of the Marvel Universe that predate his creation— teaming up with Iron Fist and Luke Cage during their "Heroes for Hire" era, taking over for Iron Man during the "Demon in a Bottle" era, even showing up in the original Secret Wars and bonding with the Venom symbiote. However, it's quite hard to tell which of these stories (if any) have actually happened and which ones are simply What Ifs created in the spirit of fun (particularly when you remember that it's already been established that 1) Deadpool's mental instability has been known to mess with his memory and 2) he's aware that he's a comic book character, thus subject to Multiple-Choice Past).
  • Similarly, Sally Floyd was created for the mini series Generation M, after the events of House of M, with the reader being informed that she had multiple interviews with famous mutants and dated Angel. She was apparently a friend and confidante of X-Men such as Jubilee, Beak and Dani Moonstar, but was simply never seen or mentioned until now.
  • Union Jack was another Marvel character from the Silver Age that was retconned into the Golden Age. In fact, an actual Golden Age Marvel hero was retconned into being the first Union Jack but in a disguise.
  • DC Comics had several heroes that were created in the 70s and 80s, but were established as having been active during the 40s. Among them were Amazing-Man (chronologically, one of the earliest black superheroes) and Commander Steel, both of whom were established as having fought alongside the members of the JSA.
  • This happens to Barbara Gordon so much that's it's a Running Gag.
    • Katarina Armstrong, the second Spy Smasher introduced late into the first volume of Birds of Prey, was a college roommate and rival of Barbara's. She had never been referred to before that.
    • Munira Khairuddin, AKA Obscura, debuted more than halfway through Barbara's New 52 series and was also established as a former college classmate and rival, despite never having been mentioned prior.
    • Frankie Charles, who made her first appearance in the Burnside era of Batgirl (2011), had been an acquaintance Babs knew from her time in physiotherapy.
    • In the first issue of Batgirl (Rebirth), Barbara happens to run into a man named Kai, a childhood friend of hers who, once again, had not been seen or referred to prior.
  • Speaking of Rebirth, there's an odd variant of this trope with Batwoman. The character has been around since 2006, but didn't have any real ties to Batman, even after it was revealed in a later story that they were cousins. Suddenly, Detective Comics (Rebirth) establishes that Kate and Bruce were quite close when they were children, and that Kate even comforted Bruce at his parents' funeral.
  • Rebirth also establishes that the New 52 Wally West is not a Race Lifted version of the original Wally West. The original Wally immediately recognizes Wally II and states that the boy is his cousin, implying that he (and by extension, his father, Daniel West) existed in the previous continuity as well. At no point in any of the decades worth of prior Flash stories did Wally ever mention having a cousin who was also named Wally.
  • Avengers: No Surrender delves into the mystery of a new heroine known as Voyager, who claims to be a founding member of the Avengers and even is part of the statue of the founding Avengers. While the characters feel that there is nothing wrong, the readers do and we go about trying figure out what's going on.

    Fan Works 
  • Ash Ketchum's younger sister Chibi and twin brother Dash in the Pokémon fic Guardians of Pokémon. Lampshaded as far back as the first chapter.
  • In My Immortal, most of the Harry Potter characters appear to have met Ebony sometime prior to the story. Word Of Satan even tries to explain why Draco is Out of Character by saying that he already knew Ebony. Oddly, averted with Harry himself, creating one of many continuity problems (apparently, Harry was in Ebony's "goff" band before they first met).
  • My Little Unicorn:
    • Turns out, the second main antagonist of My Brave Pony: Star Fleet Magic II is Cadance's brother Fratello, who we never heard of before. Not to mention that Equestria seemingly has been invaded by robots around 15 years ago, of which no one has a memory of.
    • Another example would be Krysta's adopted son Twink, who suddenly appears with no foreshadowing in My Brave Pony: Star Fleet Magic II, Episode 1. When asked about why he suddenly appears, Mykan answered "New characters get thrown in all the time (everyone knows that)".
  • Lampshaded in the commentary on The Prayer Warriors Battle With the Witches, when the protagonist, Michael, is referred to as a "dear friend" and follower of Jerry; the commentary says "If he's so dear, why is he only appearing now?" Then again, it's a less extreme example than most cases, since he was earlier shown carrying out Jerry's orders to execute Mary for adultery in The Evil Gods Part 1.
  • Lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh: The Other Abridged Movie, an adaptation of Toei's Yu-Gi-Oh! movie:
    Yugi: Those bullies are being mean to Gary Stu!
    Joey: Who the hell is Gary Stu?
    Yugi: I don't know, but apparently, he's my best friend.
    • In the original, Yugi never claimed to know Shougo (the character Gary Stu is based on) very well. They were just neighbors.
  • Many crossovers written so that the two stories are set in the same universe frequently contain this as a method of bringing the cast of the two series together.
  • More than one Mary Sue is introduced this way in fanfiction.
  • Daria fandom has Veronica, the third Morgendorffer sister. Her original story had this trope Played for Drama—Daria couldn't remember her, but everyone acted like she'd always been there, leading to a mystery of whether it was an elaborate trick or some kind of Laser-Guided Amnesia. Other fans then started including her in stories, often with the joke that Daria literally can't remember her from day to day. Otherwise, she's just an added element for AU fics.
  • Played with in "The Only Way to Go". Captain Kanril Eleya is aware of the real story of the Battle of Goralis and was based out of Deep Space 9 at the time of the battle, but she hadn't been added to The War Of The Masters yet so she didn't appear in Faces In The Flames. Rather than retcon Faces, the authors justified her absence with her having been dealing with a problem with the Tzenkethi when everything blew up.
  • Lampshaded and Played for Laughs in Sonic X: Dark Chaos when Eric the Hedgehog shows up out of nowhere and Chris asks who he is.
    Chris: You guys never told me there was another hedgehog like Sonic on your planet!
    Amy: Yeah, and there's a reason for that.
    Knuckles: Believe us Chris, you're lucky he didn't get teleported to your world with us last time.
  • The Kimagure Orange Road fanfic Ordinary World nonchalantly introduces us to Kyosuke's cousin, and Akane and Kazyua's older brother, Musoka. However, things are not as they seem. Musoka really IS Akane and Kazuya's older brother. He's also an extremely powerful telepath that can implant and remove memories. The reason we've never seen him before is because he removed his existence from the character's memories, and what we've seen is what they remember (since Kyosuke is, as always, narrating the story from the future). It gets ever stranger, since Musoka creates the character of the Master of ABCB from whole-cloth and pretends to be him; meaning he's actually been there all along!
  • In Daring Do and the Journey to the Center of the Earth, Gummy appears halfway through with absolutely no explanation and is treated as if he was with the main characters all along. In this case, Gummy is an established character in the show, but had not previously been mentioned in the fanfic at all.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Despicable Me 2 Gru does this for the major villain. Justified as he was a villain twenty years ago.
  • Disney Direct-to-Video sequels seem to do this quite a bit:
    • Lady and the Tramp 2 does this with the junkyard dogs. Tramp was apparently best friends with Buster and possibly part of their gang, but Tramp is shown to be a loner during the original film.
    • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride introduces an entire pride of evil lionesses that supposedly were present during Scar's reign and supported him. They look different enough from Simba's lionesses that it can't be said they were always there, and besides, there are a couple males among them. Meanwhile, Simba's mother does the opposite and disappears off the face of the earth without even a passing "she left/died" explanation. Go figure.
    • In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, "Ursula's crazy sister" Morgana is introduced as the Big Bad. Of course, she was never shown in the first movie; there wasn't even a clue to Ursula having a sister, and the old characters already know her. In fact, some fans believe that the only reason Morgana was created, is that Pat Carroll wanted to return for the sequel, despite Ursula being long dead.
  • Lampshaded in Penguins of Madagascar when the Big Bad Dave makes his big entrance; none of the penguins has a clue as to who he is.
  • Totally Spies! The Movie has Jerry's assistant Tad and Alex's pet pig Oinky. Since the movie is a prequel to the series, their absence in the series is explained with Tad getting arrested and Oinky going to live at an animal shelter. Though Tad is replaced by an agent named Vincent, whose absence in the series is not explained, Oinky would later return in season 6.
  • Toy Story 2. When Woody meets Wheezy the Penguin from Toy Story 2, his reaction is why he's up on the shelf with him instead of being away to get his squeaker fixed. Justified in that either Andy or Molly may have gotten Wheezy either for Christmas or their birthdays between the first two movies, maybe even for the Christmas they were celebrating at the end of the first one. After all, Buster and Mrs. Potato Head were also Christmas gifts at the end of the first one… Oddly enough, Woody and Buzz do mention being friends with Wheezy prior to Toy Story 2 — in an "out of character" interview with the characters about the "filming" of the first movie.
  • The Transformers: The Movie notoriously killed the beloved cast of the cartoon (traumatizing many children in the progress) largely to sell new toys of never-before seen new characters.
  • In Cars, real-life NASCAR driver Richard Petty played the veteran racer Strip Weathers, who retired at the end of the film. Cars 3 introduces his nephew Cal, played by Petty's real son and fellow racer Kyle, as Lightning McQueen's friendly rival. What makes it feel odd is that he too is now on the verge of retirement, implying that he and McQueen have a long-standing relationship, and also has a very minor role.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron introduces Dr. Helen Cho, a renowned Korean scientist who serves as a medical and scientific ally to the team. She's close friends with both Bruce and Tony, but like Alexander Pierce below, she is neither seen nor mentioned in any of the previous movies.
  • In Batman Returns (1992), Max Shreck has apparently been one of Gotham City's most famous residents for quite some time ("Here's a man who needs no introduction, he's given so much"), having been around long enough to have established the town's most successful department store, become more wealthy than anyone except Bruce Wayne himself, gotten a mayoral candidate elected, and gained enough influence to propose the construction of a new electrical power plant. So it's strange in retrospect that he apparently didn't exist at the time of the 1989 film, particularly since Gotham's 200th anniversary festival budget was seriously short on funds and he would probably have been the most philanthropic contributor. Shreck's Department Store is arguably an even more blatant New Guy: if we are to assume that the cathedral entrance on the opposite side of the city square, which we see behind the Penguin as he escapes on his helicopter umbrella, is to the same cathedral in which the Joker hid out at the climax of the previous film (and, at least according to Fanon, it is), the store is so big and so gaudy that it wouldn't previously have been missed. Of course, it's possible that, in-universe, Batman Returns is taking place many years after the original film; however, as all the returning cast members look to be about the same age as before (which they are, of course), that isn't likely.note 
  • Alexander Pierce is introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a high-ranking member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury's close personal friend. Prior to his debut, he'd never been mentioned in The Avengers or any of the other MCU films. Word of God from the creators was that this is one of the major reasons Jasper Sitwell was chosen to be a HYDRA mole. Most of the double agents in the movie were new characters that hadn't appeared in any other films, and the filmmakers felt it'd be a cop-out to introduce such a massive conspiracy and not have it involve any established characters.
    • Pierce's situation seems especially odd that in that it appears he's Fury's superior (or at least the politically-appointed head of SHIELD while Fury is the operational leader), whereas The Avengers implies that Fury reported directly to the Council. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. further confuses the issue because a flashback established Pierce had been in a high-ranking position years earlier.
  • A few characters who were in Divergent but got left out of the film adaptation - such as Uriah and Marlene, appear in The Divergent Series: Insurgent along with the rest of the Dauntless. As the first film mainly focused on Tris and her three friends, we can assume they were there but we just didn't see them.
  • The Godfather:
    • Frank Pentangelli in Part II is supposed to be a high level member of the Corleone family since the beginning even though he doesn't appear at all in the first movie. The reason he was created was because Clemenza who was in the Part I and was supposed to be in Part II couldn't be used because the actor playing him did not return.
    • The third film has the previously unmentioned Don Altobello who is not simply an important mafiosa but a very long term, trusted ally of the Corleones - he is Connie's godfather.
  • Halo: Nightfall introduced a never-before-seen Covenant species, the Yonhet, despite taking place after the original Halo trilogy. In this case, 343 Industries somewhat covered their tracks by introducing them as part of an entire "Covenant Fringe", a collection of Covenant-allied species too weak to have seen military action against the humans during the Human-Covenant war, and too small in population to be of much notice to the core Covenant races.
  • Highlander II: The Quickening just sort of... drops a new Big Bad, General Katana, into MacLeod's backstory and expects the viewer to roll with it. Hell, it drops an entire new backstory into MacLeod's backstory (that MacLeod is actually a space alien who has been politically exiled by Katana from planet Zeist) and acts like it all fits together despite the new backstory being almost completely incompatible with any of the details from the original film.
  • Highlander: Endgame had two major examples: Jacob Kell, Connor's former childhood friend who betrayed him and murdered his mother, and Kate/Faith, Duncan's Immortal ex-wife. Made even worse by the fact that Highlander: The Series had previously stated in no uncertain terms that Duncan never had a wife.
  • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday introduces Jason's half-sister Diana. No mention had been made about living Voorhees family members in preceding Friday the 13th films.
  • Lampshaded and parodied in Last Action Hero.
    • The Show Within a Show film franchise, Jack Slater, shows Arnold's character rushing to save his daughter from a previous marriage. The main character, a "real" young boy who has been sucked into the movie, points out that Slater has never mentioned his daughter before and is annoyed that the filmmakers were introducing a new character into the franchise in this manner.
    • Lampshaded again, in a different way, when we meet F. Murray Abraham, who in the Slater verse is introduced as one of Slater's old cop buddies. Danny correctly pegs him as a traitorous bad guy because he's played by F. Murray Abraham, though presumably also because he's never heard of his character either.
  • O in Men in Black 3 never appeared in the first two films but apparently had been working at MIB for at least as long as K had.
  • The Room has a really lazy example. With about 20 minutes left in the movie, a new character, Steven (whose name is mentioned only in the credits) suddenly appears and becomes deeply involved in the plot. Presumably, we're not supposed to notice that he suddenly appeared from nowhere without an introduction. Word of God is that Steven is supposed to be a replacement for the psychologist character Peter (whose actor left the production), but the audience is given no hint of this; indeed, Steven looks nothing like Peter.
  • The Smurfs. Gutsy, because Hefty wasn't Scottish enough.
  • The Smurfs 2 introduces Hackus and Vexy, two artificial Smurfs created by Gargamel. The fact that they weren't in the previous film(s) is justifiable, as they hadn't been created yet. What isn't justifiable is that the movie never actually introduces them — we just meet them being up to some hijinx as though who they were had already been established.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
      • Khan meets Chekov and says he knows him because "I never forget a face." Which means that Chekov was on ship during "Space Seed," a first-season episode, despite the character not appearing on screen until the second season. Numerous explanations have been thrown about (he was on the ship, just not as bridge crew; Chekov was the officer in charge of delivering the supplies and food to Ceti Alpha V; an obvious joke about Chekov occupying a latrine Khan wanted to use), but ultimately it comes down to this trope.
      • Another example from Wrath of Khan is Doctor Carol Marcus, Kirk's old flame. They even had a son together. McCoy's aware of her too (presumably from back in the day). And yet we're only hearing about her now, after all these years. Justified, however, in that Kirk slept with a ton of women. (And assuming David is the same age as his actor, Merritt Butrick, he would have been born, and Kirk and Carol's relationship would have been, several years before the original series, and Kirk explicitly states he "stayed away," as Carol wanted, after David was born.)
      • Some have speculated that Carol Marcus was the "blonde lab technician" that Gary Mitchell set Kirk up with, mentioned in the second pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before".
    • Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, as a replacement for Saavik. The first drafts of the script did have Saavik in that part, but the writers ultimately decided that having Saavik betray the crew of the Enterprise and frame them for the assassination of Gorkon just didn't make sense for her character.
      • This is something that's been disputed by Nicholas Meyer. While he wanted it to be Saavik, but Roddenberry leaned on him a bit because he didn't believe it'd fit the character. Meyer may still disagree, seeing as how he came up with Saavik to begin with.
    • Star Trek: Generations: Kirk's ultimate fantasy world in the Nexus involves the one true love of his life... who we've naturally never heard of before despite Yeoman Rand, Carol Marcus, or even Edith Keeler now being quite viable options for that role. In fairness, the original series made it plain that Kirk had plenty of old girlfriends, and he made quite a few new ones along the way (this is Kirk, after all). The real surprise is that David Marcus was his ONLY child.
      • Explained in the novelization of the movie; what Kirk actually did was experience similar fantasies with all of the women he'd truly been in love with.
    • Captain Picard remembers the Borg Queen when she's first introduced in Star Trek: First Contact. Could be justified by the fact he was a Borg for a while, but that doesn't explain why he doesn't mention this vital piece of information about a dangerous enemy onscreen, and Data seemingly knows nothing about her despite the fact that he presumably would have read any report Picard made after the incident. They attempt to handwave this by implying that Picard had forgotten about her until they're reintroduced in the film.
  • Star Wars: Rogue One is a prequel to A New Hope about how the plans for the original Death Star were stolen, and introduces Director Orson Krennic of the Imperial Security Bureau as a primary player in the Death Star's development, butting heads with both Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader himself during the film. Somewhat justified since he's killed near the end of the movie and has his position in charge of the Death Star taken by Tarkin, explaining why he didn't appear in A New Hope.
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines introduced Kate Brewster, a childhood friend of John Connor, whom he last saw prior to the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and who becomes one of the leaders of the Resistance following Judgment Day, as well as Connor's wife. The previous two films in the series never mentioned her.
  • Thor: Ragnarok:
    • Due to having become a fugitive after the events of the previous movie, Heimdall has been replaced as the guardian of the Bifrost by a new character named Skurge. Despite never having appeared in the previous films, Skurge has apparently been around for a while, and claims to have fought alongside Thor in the past. It's Handwaved by having Thor not recall the battle in question, which makes sense given all the crazy adventures he's gone on by this point.
    • Justified case with Hela. She's Odin's eldest child and Thor and Loki's older sister, but all evidence of her existence was covered up by Odin after she went rogue and had to be imprisoned. Throughout the movie, she's shown to be bitter about the fact that nobody remembers her.
  • War for the Planet of the Apes features a love interest for Blue Eyes named Lake. She's treated as though she has always been a member of the colony, even though she wasn't seen in the previous movie. Red is also said to have been one of Koba's coconspirators in the previous film, but like Lake, he didn't actually appear in it.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past
      • When debating how to break out Magneto, Wolverine casually announces he "knows a guy." Said guy turns out to be Quicksilver, who has not appeared or been mentioned in any of the six previous X-Men movies.note  Justified though if he met him in the decades since the last movie.
      • The future portion of the film fully incorporates the idea from First Class which established that Charles and Mystique grew up together. It can seem a bit jarring to see Patrick Stewart's Xavier sadly recounting how he once loved Mystique and considered her his sister, when there is absolutely no indication at any point in the original trilogy that the two were ever close or even knew one another.
    • Even earlier than that, X-Men: The Last Stand introduced Dr. Hank "Beast" McCoy, a mutant politician who everyone at the Xavier Institute (other than the latecomer Logan) knows intimately, even though he was never shown or mentioned in the first two movies. X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past rectified the issue somewhat, clarifying that Hank was a student from the Institute's early days who stayed behind when Xavier shut the school down during the Vietnam War.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse is set in the 1980s and has a teenage Nightcrawler join the X-Men even though X2: X-Men United which was set 20 Minutes into the Future had them meet him for the first time as an adult. Though Word of God has said the time travel in X-Men: Days of Future Past has made the third and fourth movies non-canon, which could mean the same for X2.
  • GoldenEye sets up Alec Trevelyan as "006" and one of Bond's oldest friends, in spite of never being mentioned by name, and once by number, in the enire series. Then again, GoldenEye was supposed to be a soft reboot of the franchise (which was never big on continuity in the first place), so it might be justified.

  • Brotherband introduces two important concepts to Skandian society: the Andomal and the Maktig. Neither is mentioned in Ranger's Apprentice, despite Skandians being prominently featured.
  • Halt's twin brother, introduced in book 8 of Ranger's Apprentice. Justified in that the brother lived in another country and Halt actively avoided telling people about his childhood, as shown in book 11.
  • Grave Peril, the third book of The Dresden Files, introduces Michael Carpenter, Knight of the Cross and Harry's longtime friend from at least two years before the books started. He has never been mentioned in any of the short stories, books, or flashbacks set before Grave Peril.
  • In Half Blood Prince, Cormac McLaggen is introduced and tries out for Keeper against Ron. McLaggen provides an explanation for his absence from the Quidditch trials in the previous book: He was sick in the hospital wing at the time after eating doxy eggs on a bet, also providing his Establishing Character Moment.
    • There are some movie-only examples of this. For example, Lavender Brown isn't in the first five films (well, sort of), but she suddenly materializes in the sixth film as a major supporting character.
      • Though one notable exception is Bill Weasley, who doesn't appear until the seventh film, where he and Harry act like they've never met before.
      • The seventh movie has a kind of halfway version. When Dobby shows up, he and Ron act like they've met before. In fact, although Dobby had previously appeared in the second film, he and Ron had never met before — in the movies, that is. They had met before in the books.
  • Brisingr introduces Nasuada and Ajihad's culture. Not only had they never been previously mentioned (and none of Nasuada's point-of-view segments from the previous book so much as alluded to her culture), but the book tries to act as though they are well known throughout Algaesia and have been part of the Varden. Despite this contradicting what the first book said about nobody knowing where Ajihad came from.
  • Played with in the Discworld book Interesting Times, which reintroduced Twoflower and introduced Twoflower's daughters, Pretty Butterfly and Lotus Blossom. Rincewind insists that Twoflower hasn't mentioned having children and that the whole thing just came out of left field, but Twoflower keeps trying to play the whole thing off, insisting that he "must have mentioned it."
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe plays with this in Legacy of the Force with Brisha Syo. We know she's Lumiya. We really do. Despite this, Mara assumes she's Luke and Lumiya's daughter. Since Mara and Luke have each other's memories from their Force bond, Lumiya barely kissed Luke, and that TIE crash would most likely have led to a miscarriage, why Mara would even think that only raises even more questions.
    • We don't know exactly what happened between Lumiya and Luke in the books' continuity. Word of God is that even if they use a character from the comics, they are free to accept or reject anything that took place in said comics.
    • By contrast, it's played straight and lampshaded in Invincible. Tenel Ka has cousins? Okay, so Ta'a Chume secretly had more than one son, we'll give her the benefit of the doubt and accept that she managed to hide her pregnancy. And...Tenel Ka has cousins? But the fact that nobody knows about them is what makes them so useful. And, wait, Tenel Ka has cousins?
      • It's likely that Kevin J. Anderson left a number of Luke's original twelve students nameless and description-less in Jedi Academy Trilogy for this very reason. At the time of the Legends continuity reboot in 2014, at least one was never positively identified.
  • The Lion King comics and books are bad at this. Many characters, such as Tama, Tojo, and Malka, appear but are never referenced in other material ever again. Very often they're not given any reason for popping up and are just always presumed to be there. A particularly noticeable example is Mtoto, who is Simba's cousin according to a magazine. Sarabi had sisters once, but they were scrapped very early in development. In the final product Nala and Simba are the only two cubs in the Pride. Other examples include the cubs introduced in Nala's Dare, which apparently were Nala's friends during Scar's reign but are never even implied to exist in the film. In The Lion King Nala was the only cub in the pride after Simba left.
  • In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series:
    • The Roman Aspects were not mentioned at all in the original Quintet... however The Lost Hero justifies this in that the Greek and Roman Aspects do not get along at all, hence the need for them to remain hidden from each other. In fact, a clever reader can point out that the only ones explaining the roman aspects are, of course, Romans, and that the Romans felt this way about the Greeks. (Since Lupa's not one to tell!)
    • Related, Jason Grace. Thalia didn't mention having a little brother for several reasons, among them being that the events surrounding his disappearance were quite traumatic for her and that she thought him dead until this series began.
  • The Nancy Drew series (all versions) frequently introduced characters (usually just for the duration of the current book) as relatives/old friends of Bess, George, Nancy's father, or Nancy herself, essentially explaining their absence by having them live far away.
  • The opening chapter of Redshirts by John Scalzi plays with this from the New Guy's perspective. This week's Red Shirt thinks about the time his father saved the captain's life, and then realises that up until the captain mentioning it just now, there has been no reference to this happening the whole time he was on the ship.
  • Peter David's Star Trek: New Frontier series had Commander Kat Mueller appear suddenly several novels in. She's introduced as the Executive Officer of the Excalibur and a former lover of Calhoun's, with her earlier on-scene absence described as being due to her taking the night shift.
    • One could say this was justified, as she was actually introduced as the Executive Officer of the Grissom in Calhoun's Captain's Table story, along with Romeo Takahashi, Mick Gold, and Doc Villers, the former two of which worked night shift on the Excalibur before it blew up, and all four work under Shelby (and eventually under Mueller) on the Trident after.
  • In the Twilight series, we hear briefly about the Volturi, mainly that they and Carlisle are on friendly terms, but that he left because he did not agree with their diet of humans. Edward speaks pretty well of them, when he tells Bella about them. In the next book and all books after, it's revealed that the Volturi are a highly corrupt organization, and the Cullens are all highly suspicious of them. This also leads to a case of Remember Those New Rules, since it's not until then that it's mentioned that there are any sort of laws or governing of vampires.
    • In New Moon, we find out that the teenagers of La Push had been turning into werewolves ever since the Cullens first settled down in Forks. This is not present in Twilight (when nothing is done to stop James, Victoria, and Laurent from killing people in Forks) or Midnight Sun (when nothing is done to stop Peter and Charlotte from killing people in Forks).
      • The James, Victoria, and Laurent example is only in the film version. In the book, they never kill any of the residents of Forks.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Moonrise, six cats were sent to deal with the mountain lion, Sharptooth. The Clan cats meet three of them: Talon, Bird, and Rock, who explain that the other three had been killed by Sharptooth. In the next book, the Clans return to the Tribe, and there's a fourth cat, Jag, listed as being one of the ones originally sent to fight Sharptooth, with no explanation as to why we didn't see him in the last book (though the characters do recognize him and say they'd met him before).
  • James Bond novel High Time to Kill introduces one Roland Marquis, a distinguished RAF member and Bond's rival since his studies in Eton. This is actually the first time that anyone from Bond's days of studying had been introduced.
  • The Wheel of Time: Cadsuane is never mentioned until she appears in the sixth book, even though she is Famed In-Story.
  • One of the prequels to The Belgariad introduces Belmakor and Belsamber, two previously-unmentioned disciples of Aldur who both committed suicide shortly after the War of the Gods. Their deaths help explain how Mallorea ended up being such a huge blindspot for Aldur's disciples, as Belmakor and Belsambar would have been sent to gather reconnaissance in that region if they'd lived.
    • The disciples were mentioned in the series proper as having died in the distant past, though the details were not given until the prequels were published. Each map of the area where the disciples lived shows broken-down towers labeled with their names alongside the other disciples' towers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduces us to Agent Eric Koenig (played by Patton Oswalt) who shortly after his introduction is murdered by Ward. But! He has a twin brother, Billy, also a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, who is introduced later on, and explicitly described as his twin. In the second season, it turns out there's a third Koenig brother, Sam, who is also identical to Billy and Eric, and also a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Apparently they're actually triplets. Despite Billy referring to himself as Eric's twin. You'd think having two brothers who also work for S.H.I.E.L.D. and happen to look just like you would be something worth mentioning, but even if not, at the very least you'd think that Billy would have explained "Yeah, Eric's my brother. We're triplets, actually. Our other brother, Sam, is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent as well." But no, he just says that he and Eric were twins, and Sam isn't even mentioned until he's introduced. It's implied that the Koenigs are either clones or Life Model Decoys, in which case the number of "brothers" may be an enforced secret.
  • Inverted in an episode of The Andy Griffith Show. Someone comes into town and knows absolutely everyone and everything in the town... but no one else knows who he is. This terrifies the whole town (save Andy) until they start trying to run him out of Mayberry. Turns out he's actually a drifter who met a Mayberry resident while in the army, read about the whole town through his newspapers, and tried to integrate himself into the town far too quickly.
  • On Angel, the guardian of the Deeper Well turns out to be Drogyn, an immortal, truthspeaking warrior who has never been mentioned before, but Angel has already met him. This wouldn't be so odd, since Angel is 250+ years old, except that since Drogyn trusts him and considers him a friend, Drogyn must have met Angel when he had a soul, a period where Angel wasn't doing much besides moping. You'd think that whatever Angel did to earn the friendship of someone like Drogyn would be significant enough for the show to mention earlier. None of the other characters has ever heard of him except Wesley.
    • Angel's backstory gets this a lot; whether he spent 80 years just moping around or had a bunch of cool adventures is rather Depending on the Writer. For example, he also went to Vegas and met Elvis during this period.
    • Another example includes Spike and Drusilla knowing Darla; all had been introduced as having traveled with pre-ensouling Angel, but prior to Season 5 of Buffy/Season 2 of Angel, they hadn't been demonstrated to know each other. It was previously assumed that Angel traveled with them at different times. While it would be understandable that Darla might not have mentioned them because she traveled alone with Angel for many years, you think at least Spike would have brought up "Whatever happened to Darla?" when he was introduced in Buffy Season 2.
  • Beverly Hills 90210 and its spin-off series: Valerie Malone was supposed to be the daughter of the Walshes' best friends. Given the way they used to invite everybody to their famous parties (Christmas, weddings, etc.), it's a bit odd that the Malones were never mentioned in the first four seasons. Same for Harry Wilson: Kelly's next-door neighbor and friend for years, but never mentioned again. For a lesser extent, Teddy Montgomery qualifies, although Adrianna's past dating record saves the trope from being far-fetched in that case.
  • Lydia Rodarte-Quayle in Breaking Bad was a case of this. She's first introduced in season 5A, where she is established as being acquainted with Gus Fring and Mike Ehrmantraut, despite the fact that she was never seen or so much as mentioned in earlier seasons. This is mitigated by Better Call Saul, which is set before the events of Breaking Bad, and, due to the return of Gus in season 3, gets to explore the early stages of Lydia's business dealings with Gus and Mike.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the first three seasons, the monster or woobie of the week or a victim thereof was almost always a student or a teacher who had never appeared or been mentioned, but would sometimes be said to have known Xander and/or Willow for some time.
    • Spoofed with Andrew in Season 6. Unlike the other two members of the Trio his character hadn't appeared in the series before, so an incident involving flying demon monkeys attacking the school play was written into his backstory — however none of the Scoobies can recall the incident, only that he's Tucker Wells's brother (who did appear in the series). This happened because originally Tucker was going to be in the trio but his actor couldn't do it; presumably he would have been the misogynist leader of the group that Warren ended up being, while Warren would be more of the pathetic toady like Andrew.
    • Deconstructed in the Season 7 episode "Conversations With Dead People". When a vampire recognizes Buffy he explains that they went to high school together and shared a few classes. Buffy, however, does not recognize him at all, not even when he tells her his name, and it is only after ten minutes of explaining when they met and things they had done together that she remembers who he is. To the end of the episode, he never becomes a close and dear friend from her past, instead remaining a minor acquaintance that she met on rare occasions and had forgotten in the time since then because they had never been very close in the first place. If anything he represents how Slayer duties have left Buffy largely disconnected from people besides her close friends.
  • Similarly parodied on Community when it was explained that Jack Black's character was a background student who had always been there. After that episode he fades right back into the background never to be seen again.
  • Kelly Crabtree in Coronation Street — the first time we ever see her, she's just left her supposedly long time job at the factory that half the other characters work at.
  • Sondra, the oldest Huxtable daughter, was added late in season 1 of The Cosby Show as being busy attending Princeton, even though dialogue in early episodes indicates that the Huxtables have only four kids. In real life, Sondra was created because Bill Cosby wanted the show to express the accomplishment of successfully raising a child (e.g., a college graduate).
  • CSI:
    • CSI: NY did this with Don Flack - he did not appear in the series pilot, CSI: Miami "MIA-NYC Nonstop" but the character was added for the main series, and given they work with Flack every case, it's strange they weren't working with him in that ep. He could've been sick or something, but no one said anything later on in the series' first ep of its own, either.
    • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: In "The Theory of Everything", we learn that there is an insane Conspiracy Theorist woman who comes to police HQ to file charges against extraterrestrials every night, and that Nick is fond of her. This is of course the first time we ever hear of her. And the last: She's hit by a truck in the second act.
  • Arguably the case with Gretchen Witter in Dawson's Creek. We first see her in season four, which is somewhat fair since she has been away at college for years; what edges her close to this is that we have never even heard about her before, despite being Pacey's sister and (especially) Dawson's childhood crush. Given the nature of the show and characters, it is a bit of a stretch that no one mentioned her.
    • Pacey had mentioned having older sisters before.
  • Happens in Degrassi sometimes, in the most recent seasons with Dave and Imogen. Partly justified since it is a school setting, so presumably the person was a student at Degrassi but never was friends with the main cast.
    • Used to decent effect in the case of Imogen, where she explains to Eli that she saw all the things he'd been going through over the last year, but Eli never saw her and instantly freaks out, accusing her of being a stalker.
  • A Different World actually manages to do this in the first episode. Denise already knows the character of Whitley, and her personality and habits are treated as if they are already established. However this is Denise's first day on campus, and she meets every other character for the first time. Since this show is a spin-off, an easy assumption to make was that she first showed up in an episode of The Cosby Show, but that isn't the case.
    • Justified since it wasn't actually Denise's first day on campus. Denise was a sophomore during the first season of A Different World, her freshman year took place the year before while she was still on The Cosby Show. It was assumed that Denise met Whitley during off-camera during her freshman year.
  • The second series in the Doctor in the House franchise, Doctor at Large, introduced Professional Butt-Kisser Lawrence Bingham, who is implied to have gone through medical training at St. Swithin's with the main cast and whom the other doctors know well enough to thoroughly detest from the start. However, he was never so much as mentioned in the first series, Doctor in the House, despite winning the surgery prize in his final year ahead of main characters Michael Upton and Duncan Waring.
  • Doctor Who
    • Inverted with River Song, who in "Silence in the Library" walks up to the Doctor and begins chatting with him as if they're old friends. The Doctor, however, has never met her before — turns out that, thanks to the Timey-Wimey Ball, he's meeting her out of sequence.
    • In "Let's Kill Hitler" Amy and Rory's old friend Mels suddenly shows up to the Doctor's confusion — he doesn't know who she is, as she wasn't at Amy's wedding because she "doesn't do weddings". She's actually River Song's previous regeneration. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey.
  • The Dingle family were introduced into Emmerdale as an infamous bunch of rowdies known to the entire village, despite never being mentioned in two decades of the soap's previous history.
  • Family Ties has several episodes in which characters are introduced as being childhood best friends or so-and-so's favorite relative yet they have never been shown or mentioned before and almost always never referenced again. One notable example was when Alex was given a black friend and the family spent an entire scene explaining that the two were best friends who have been competing with each other since they were kids.
    • Another example was Alex's friend Greg from the two-part Very Special Episode "A, My Name Is Alex". Even though he was never shown before this episode, he was one of Alex's best friends since childhood, and Alex was so distraught over his death that he needed to see a therapist.
  • Subverted on Farscape. In the Season 3 finale, "Dog With Two Bones", Noranti appears for the first time. It's stated that in-between episodes, the crew rescued some refugees and Noranti apparently decided to stay. Anyway, whenever Noranti begins to talk about the crew's current problems, everyone else remarks with a "Who is that?" response. Viewers didn't even learn her name until the end of the third Season 4 episode. Given her ability to affect memory with her potions, Noranti could well have been lying about the whole business.
  • When writing the film Serenity, a follow up to the quickly canceled Firefly intended to show a condensed version of his plans through roughly the show's first 2 seasons, Joss Whedon created the previously unmentioned jack-of-all-trades Mr. Universe to facilitate plot developments that he didn't have the time to develop more naturally anymore.
    • It was mentioned somewhere that Mr. Universe was a friend of Wash's, possibly explaining his lack of an existence previously as Mal never having had any reason to talk to the guy, only being peripherally aware of him.
  • Frasier's brother Niles on Frasier had never been mentioned on Frasier's previous series Cheers. Lampshaded when Sam Malone from Cheers visited Frasier and told Niles he was never mentioned by his brother. At least in this case it's made clear that during Cheers Frasier was estranged from his family besides his mother, and had even told the cast of Cheers that his father was dead (something Sam also asks about).
  • Friends:
    • All the celebrity guest stars easily fall under this trope. For instance, Brad Pitt's character, who was supposedly a close friend of Ross and Monica, but was never mentioned before or since, wasn't in attendance at their wedding, etc.
    • Phoebe says she has a roommate Denise who has always been there if only the gang would listen to her. Word of God says that Denise didn't actually exist. It was just a weird Phoebe quirk the writers tossed in for comic relief.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Dolorous Edd is suddenly part of Lord Commander Mormont's group, although the scene from the book where he meets up with them is cut.
    • Roose Bolton. The Bolton sigil is seen at Robb's war council in Season 1. He was planned to be included in a montage of the Stark bannermen receiving their summons to Winterfell, which was scrapped for being far too expensive. The actor was cast in Season 2.
    • The Tullys of Riverrun show up around the same time, and we're told they were part of Robb's war effort just offscreen until now. Edmure is actually introduced being chewed out for not following a (badly communicated) plan in a battle that hadn't previously been mentioned.
  • Somewhat subverted on Grey's Anatomy with Jim Nelson, aka "Shadow Shepherd", the hospital's other neurosurgeon, who isn't mentioned or shown until Season 5 despite having worked there all along. It's only when Derek Shepherd temporarily decides to quit operating that Nelson is shown, due to him supposedly not being as good a surgeon as Shepherd. Also a possible lampshading of how self-involved the main characters are.
  • Chachi is introduced this way in Happy Days with The Fonz delivering the line, "You all know my cousin Chachi," and everyone else replying in the affirmative even though he's never been seen or mentioned before.
  • Home and Away's latest school principal Martin Bartlett first appeared in 2008, but when Kirsty Phillips, who attended the school during her original 2000-2005 stint, returned a few months later she mentioned that Martin had been one of her teachers.
    • Similarly, character Travis Nash (1995-1999) first appeared as a witness to the death of Laura Bonnetti with all the regular cast already knowing him - he was another local who had always been around but just never seen on-screen before.
    • This happened with an entire group: The River Boys first appeared in 2011, despite living in a region that is not far from Summer Bay. This is largely because they are a No Celebrities Were Harmed take on the Bra Boys, who were largely unknown outside of their home suburb of Maroubra (despite several well-known members) until 2007.
  • How I Met Your Mother makes this trope part of its regular routine, as the show is framed as the recollections of an Unreliable Narrator; Ted is regularly shown to remember things that are out of order or skips over events and people that he deems unimportant to that particular story. A lot of events and characters are only mentioned when they actually become relevant. Possibly to be done intentionally with the mother, as the character has apparently been cast since the first season, and has been filmed in the backgrounds of the events of the show.
  • Every school kid who ends up in the plot for iCarly except Wendy, Gibby and Rebecca Berkowitz. Some of the teachers, too. For some reason, most of the guys (who are usually a love interest) are introduced as seniors, which kinda makes it creepy in the couple seasons when they hit on Carly and Sam who haven't even reached the 'growth' stage of puberty yet. Then they give Chuck Cunningham Syndrome to them all anyway. It's averted once, where Brad is looked over as a new intern to drive the plot of "iHire an Idiot" then gets re-introduced in "iOMG" in a way that makes it obvious he's a New Transfer Student. The most famous example is Sam's identical twin Melanie who Carly and Spencer seemed to know was at boarding school. Freddie thought she was just Sam but her existence was confirmed.
  • Iron Fist (2017): The Bulletin reporter that interviews Ward Meachum is Jennifer Many, who appears to be a veteran reporter, but was never seen nor mentioned in any of the Bulletin scenes in Daredevil.
  • JAG: In the 7th season we first meet Sturgis Turner. He and Harm went to the Naval Academy together and were apparently quite close friends. The writers also make several continuity references just to shoe-horn him in.
  • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie plays with this, by having Marvelous (Gokai Red) reveal that he has met Retsu Ichijouji a.k.a. Space Sheriff Gavan when Marvelous was still young; the flashback also implies that the Space Police are also dealing against the Zangyack invasion around that time. This wasn't the first time that Super Sentai and the Metal Heroes are teased to take place in the same universe.
  • Lampshaded with Yukina in Kamen Rider Fourze. It is presented as though the other characters already know her when she makes her introductory appearance, but Ryusei confusedly asks "Who?" immediately after seeing her.
  • In The Legend Of William Tell Vara breaks back into the Citadel in one episode to look for her nurse, who she loves dearly and who's always taken care of her. It's neither the actress nor the character who was her nurse in other episodes.
  • This is true of several characters on Lost, including Ethan and Arzt, but Nikki and Paulo are easily the best example. Introduced out of nowhere at the beginning of season three, the dynamic duo were apparently survivors of the crash. While random Redshirt characters regularly pop in and out, Nikki and Paulo began chumming with the main characters, going on adventures, and in general trying to fit in when they had obviously never been there before. They quickly became the most hated characters on the show, and showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse admit that they were a big mistake (but still regularly joke about them). The pair's story climaxes halfway through the season, when a flashback episode retcons them into various scenes, interacting with old characters, and making discoveries. The episode ends when Nikki paralyzes Paulo with a spider that paralyzes him with its venom (don't ask) and Nikki herself is then bitten by another spider (Word of God says it was the smoke monster in disguise). Both are then buried alive because they looked dead.
    • Lost plays with this trope a bit. Sawyer often refuses to accept the existence of new cast members, asking them "who the hell are you?" Arzt and Frogurt were vocally annoyed that the main characters didn't think about them. And Ethan was a spy for the Others who was meant to act like a normal 815 survivor, so the odds are that if he was, he probably would've got a little bit of face time anyway.
    • Lost justifies this in that there are about 40-odd survivors of the crash, most of them extras, so they can easily get away with this. Ethan is only introduced in one of the early episodes anyway- the cast don't remember him, but ignore that because they have all only just met.
    • Neil "Frogurt" is an aversion, however; though he does step in out of nowhere, he had already been mentioned a few times in season two and the mobisodes, so he was already known among both the fans and the characters.
    • Part of the reasoning behind Nikki and Paulo's existence was that the show had declared forty-something survivors from the plane crash in the pilot episode. Since they were nearly always seen as background extras with no lines (with the exception of Rose, and nominally Scott and Steve), a frequent fan question was "What do these other people do?" Nikki and Paulo appeared to be a (perhaps somewhat tongue-in-cheek) attempt by the writers to respond to that curiosity. That said, they are used to clear up a number of dangling plot threads, like the case with the gun that the other characters found in the first season.
  • In many, many episodes of MacGyver, an old friend or girlfriend shows up in need of MacGyver's help, but it's never someone he saw fit to mention before or ever again. He must have a lot of Facebook friends these days.
  • In the early years of Mad About You Paul's best friend Selby is a major supporting character. After Selby get Brother Chucked the role of "Paul's friend and confidant" got taken by Paul's never-before-mentioned but buddies-since-childhood cousin Ira.
  • Iola Boylan on Mama's Family. In the syndicated episodes, she's Thelma's next door neighbor/sidekick and has been for years. She's never so much as mentioned in the previous NBC episodes. The entire cast of both versions can be considered under this trope, since the original Mama sketches on The Carol Burnett Show only featured Thelma (Vicki Lawrence), her daughters Eunice (Burnett) and Ellen (Betty White), and Eunices's husband, Ed (Harvey Korman).
  • Merlin:
    • The writers take advantage of a year's Time Skip between series three and four to introduce Arthur's uncle Agravaine as though he's been present in the kingdom all along. Even though he's never been mentioned before, there are lines like: "I promised your mother I'd always be there for you," and "I've known him since I was a child," though there's no indication where he's been all this time.
    • A similar thing happened with Guinevere's brother Elyan and Morgana's half-sister Morgause, even though these examples were partially justified in that the former siblings were estranged for years, and the latter were deliberately kept apart.
  • The Musketeers: Louis' brother shows up in Season Three. Everyone knows him, including people banished or otherwise gone from Paris for longer than the show's been running.
  • My Name Is Earl: When Earl encounters his friend, Frank Stump, in prison, the episode (one long flashback) explains that Frank and another new character, Paco, were the original occupants of Earl's trailer, and that they and the Hickey brothers used to live all four together. Plus, Earl's El Camino is revealed to actually be Frank's. The same time frame was seen in many other flashbacks, and Frank wasn't in any of them.
  • NCIS: Dwayne Pride of NCIS: New Orleans is introduced in the 11th season as a longtime old friend of Gibbs—who has never been mentioned before, despite Abby shrieking with joy when she sees him, DiNozzo and McGee telling newcomer Bishop that "stories about them are legendary", and Gibbs himself telling the team that "I've known him for 30 years", and it being revealed that it's he whom Gibbs got his elevator trick from. Similarly, the latter show's Dr. Wade is apparently an old friend of Ducky's, even though he's never mentioned her before either.
  • Jessica and Taylah were randomly introduced as the school bullies in Neighbours, and everybody on the show treated them as though they has always been there, bullying other students and harassing the main teen characters, despite the fact that, story-wise, they clearly hadn't been.
  • Night Man does it with most of the main cast (except for the main character) when they moved production to Canada in-between seasons. We're expected not to notice.
  • Taylor Townsend of The O.C. is perhaps the most successful example. Taylor first appeared at the start of the third season (in the aptly-named "The Shape of Things to Come") as an enemy of Marissa, yet, according to the other characters, had apparently been around for years and had even attended the same elementary school as Summer and Marissa, according to a flashback the following season. The character (and actress Autumn Reeser) proved so popular that fans were willing to overlook her origins, and the show even indulged in a little Lampshade Hanging when Summer referenced a scene that had happened long before Taylor's creation:
    Taylor: You didn't see me but I was there, and I remember that geek was totally in love with you.
  • In the final season of The Office, it was revealed that Dwight has a sister and a brother; while the brother had been previously brought up in a Christmas Episode, there was never any indication of the existence of the sister. Their sudden prominence is largely because the episode that showcased them was a backdoor pilot for a proposed Spin-Off centered around Dwight, and the creators likely wanted to flesh out his potential supporting cast.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Bones Snodgrass is introduced in the episode "The Yodar Kritch Award". He was never before seen or mentioned by name, in spite of being the brother of recurring character Stretch Snodgrass.
  • Orange Is the New Black: Stella, a heavily tattooed Australian model who stands around naked in the bathroom, has apparently been at Litchfield this whole time, but no one noticed until episode 6 of Season 3.
  • In Party of Five, Sarah Reeves pops up in second season, working a summer job at Salingers, yet she goes to the same school as Bailey and Julia, and is in many of Julia's classes, somehow without getting a previous mention.
  • Penny Dreadful: At the beginning of the third season Victor Frankenstein's friend Dr. Jekyll is introduced, and almost immediately chews Victor out for having disappeared and not contacted him for five years. Given Victor's private disposition, obsessive focus on work, and the nature of that work, it's not entirely surprising that he would never have mentioned or contacted his best friend.
  • Nothing is known about Person of Interest's Detective Petersen other than that he works for HR and enjoys shooting people. Miller, the other underling introduced in the same episode, is treated as a random mook, yet Petersen seems to go some way back with Simmons and is recognizable to Fusco. However, he's completely new to the viewer.
  • Beautifully played with on Reign when the fourth season introduces Catherine's never talked of older daughter Leeza. During a family fight, Claude explains why viewers haven't heard of her before: Leeza is just so damn boring and dull that the moment she left French court, the rest of the family never found any reason to mention her at all.
  • On Revolution, characters frequently run into old friends or enemies from the past who'd never been seen or mentioned in the show before. Sometimes this is averted by having the character introduced in flashbacks before they show up in the present day (Priscilla) while sometimes when it's played straight, the character's significance is explained through flashbacks after the fact (Jeremy, Emma).
  • A late episode of Robin of Sherwood introduces Martin, the young nephew of the Sheriff of Nottingham. Supposedly he's been living with his uncle at the castle all along, but has never even been mentioned before.
  • If you accept that Good Morning Miss Bliss is part of the same continuity as Saved by the Bell then Jesse Spano and Kelly Kapowski. The former lives next door to Zack and has been friends with him since childhood, while he has been trying to go out with the latter for as long as she can remember. That said, most people don't accept the two as the same continuity, since the entirety of the school magically moves from Indiana to California.
  • Played with on Scrubs. Kim Briggs had been at Sacred Heart for years, it's just that J.D. couldn't see her because all women wearing wedding rings are flat-out invisible to him. The kicker is when all married women within earshot are asked to take off their rings for a moment. Suddenly J.D. is surrounded by dozens of women, including Gift Shop Girl from earlier in the series. (J.D. assumed that she had died and sent flowers to her family. Flowers that he bought from her at the gift shop.) We're even treated to fake flashbacks of important events in the series' past where Kim was photoshopped in a la Forrest Gump to make it look like she'd been there all along.
    • In her first episode they also added an extra bit to the opening credits where she fixes the backwards x-ray and tells the camera that it's been bugging her for years
  • The third season premiere of Sesame Street begins with a long sequence on the street, with child voice-overs knowing who everybody is, including humans (Luis, Molly, Rafael) who make their debuts in the opening scene.
  • Shameless loves this trope. Gloria and Dominic Meak are introduced as new characters in series 9, but it was implied that they had actually been on the estate the whole time (since rather than being 'introduced' as brand new, they simply walked in and were acknowledged and treated as if they were just ordinary regulars as usual).
    • The Maguire Family does this with Shane and Mickey. Shane is introduced and named towards the end of series 3, and Mickey is seen from the start in series 4. But neither of them ever officially appear, or are even named, prior to their scattered first appearances. And when they first appear, they are never never actually introduced. The show treats them as if they had always been around, and it's largely implied that they were the early Maguire brothers seen in the earlier series. Although why they would go from mindless, unreferenced thugs with no dialogue, straight to main big mouthed characters who are named on screen at every opportunity, is probably because the show was looking to promote the Maguire Family to main cast, and thus needed to give its members more substance and personality.
  • Tony B. in The Sopranos, which did this nearly once a season. Ritchie Aprile and Ralphie are two other notable examples. In each instance, the justification was that they were in prison and the guys didn't want to talk about them.
  • Security Chief Tony Verdeschi in Space: 1999. His inclusion as a regular character and member of Commander Koenig's senior staff at the beginning of the second season is taken in stride by all the other characters despite no explanation of how he got there, especially in light of the contemporaneous disappearance of several characters from the first season.
  • Stargate SG-1: Cameron Mitchell. He's never mentioned before Season 9, and since the Season 8 finale was screwing with time, you have to wonder where he came from... According to Word of God, he was supposed to be introduced during the big Antarctica battle in Season 7 instead of just being retconned into it later.
  • From Star Trek:
    • The Cardassians are introduced in the The Next Generation season four episode "The Wounded," where it is explained that it has been only a year since the end of the long, costly war between the Federation and the Cardassian Union. However, this information means that the first two years of the show occurred during a war that was never seen, heard or experienced. Just where, exactly, was the flagship of Starfleet while the rest of the fleet was engaged in active operations? And how is it that Chief O'Brien is a veteran of the Cardassian War when he's been on the Enterprise-D since TNG's first episode? Was the Enterprise fighting in the war between episodes and nobody bothered to mention it, or are we supposed to assume that the first four seasons all took place in a single year despite all indications to the contrary? Admittedly there are a few hints that while to the Cardassians it was a major war, to the Federation it was a basically just a regional conflict, albeit an unusually long and bloody one for the period. If O'Brien served, presumably the conflict went back to before the Enterprise-D was commissioned and he was posted there.
    • Even Ben Sisko has a bit of this, as he's introduced in the DS9 pilot as an officer on the Saratoga during the Battle of Wolf 359. This one's at least justified, since we never actually see the battle in "Best of Both Worlds", only its aftermath.
    • Star Trek: Voyager had an episode Lyndsay Ballard, a crew member who had died and been resurrected by aliens, returns but no longer fits in; she had never been seen or mentioned before. This despite it being a Star Trek series, the Trope Namer and Trope Maker of the disposable one-shot crew member phenomenon. It's not like there's any lack of established dead or missing crew members to bring back. In fact, Ballard bears enough similarity to Ahni Jetal (see the "in-canon" examples) that it's likely that they couldn't get Jetal's actress back or something. Shoulda made 'em the same character anyway; if there can be three Tora Ziyal's and nobody cares...
      • Amusingly played with by the minor character Joseph Carey, who was a regular in the first season before disappearing from the show, except for flashbacks and time hops to the period of the first season. He then showed up again in the last season without comment, just in time to be killed off. A common fan theory is that the writers forgot they hadn't actually killed him off yet.
    • In both Star Trek Into Darkness and his debut episode Space Seed, each set in different continuities, Khan Noonien Singh is established to be a genetically / eugenically engineered Ubermenschen despot from the late 20th / early 21st century, the most prominent of several in fact-, who ruled various nations across the globe, who partook in a destructive global conflict known as the Eugenics Wars. Despite this, nobody on the crew of the Enterprise has even heard his name (including the ship's historian), and they are only vaguely aware of what must have been a fairly major era in world history. Especially noticeable since they seem fairly knowledgable of several other historical figures, yet the guy who sounds like he was a latter-day Napoleon or Julius Caesar is a mystery to them.
    • Star Trek: Discovery is going this route as well, with the protagonist Michael Burnham being a human who was adopted by Spock's parents, yet Spock's step-sister has never been mentioned in any previous material. Played with in a rather clever way, since by the end of the pilot Michael's racked up a sizeable list of crimes, including mutiny and causing war to break out between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, and she's sentenced to life in prison; understandable that Spock wouldn't mention her. There's also the fact that Spock and Sarek weren't on speaking terms at the time, as Spock chose to enlist in Starfleet instead of going to the Vulcan Science Academy and then joining the Vulcan Expeditionary Group (Sarek also feels guilty for choosing Spock, when he was forced to pick either Spock or Burnham for a spot in the VEG, a choice that, in the end, was futile). Oh, and neither Burnham nor Spock mention Spock's half-brother Sybok.
  • In the second season of Teen Wolf, Isaac, Erica and Boyd suddenly show up, and the other teenagers act like they've gone to school with the three of them for years, even though they're very clearly not present in the first season. Suddenly, Isaac is on the lacrosse team like he's always been there, Jackson knows that Isaac's dad is abusing him because they live across the street from each other, and it's common knowledge among the students that Erica is epileptic.
  • In That's So Raven, even though dialogue indicates that Alana and Raven have been rivals since elementary school, Alana isn't introduced or even mentioned until Season 2.
  • Torchwood: Children of Earth plays it straight with Jack's never-seen-or-mentioned-before daughter and grandson. It is stated that she asked him to stay away due to his condition.
  • Used quite a bit in 24, for example, the fourth season which introduced Curtis Manning it's revealed that Jack knows him and has worked with him before. Since Jack was let go from CTU following the events of the previous season, that means that Jack would have had to work with him prior to the third season. Justified in most cases however, since the season only takes place within a 24-hour period and several months if not years pass in between each one, it means that there is time that could be accounted for all these moments during those lengthy gaps.
  • The Vampire Diaries
    • Rebekah is stated to have been with Klaus and Elijah in 15th century England despite her role not even existing at the time.
    • The Founders Council is apparently much bigger than originally thought. We don't know this until season 3 when new members like Meredith Fell and Brian Walters start to show up. And then, in season 4, a whole bunch more come out of nowhere just to be killed off.
  • Helen's sister Casey was added to the cast in season 6 of Wings despite having never been mentioned before. Helen had mentioned a sister in a previous episode, but that sister was named Lorraine and was clearly a different person from Casey (who is implied to be her only sister), making this a Retcon as well.
  • This was the standard way to introduce new characters in The X-Files, to the point that the show was almost an "old friend of Mulder or Scully of the week" show in addition to a Monster of the Week one. For bonus points, they were usually introduced as a friend, the relationship played up for several scenes, and then killed off by the aforementioned monster. The trope was especially prevalent in the early seasons before longer plot arcs were firmly established along with longer-lived secondary characters.

  • When you download a new song to an Apple device while it's in shuffle, the device will sometimes insert the song into ones you've already played, even then the particular song wasn't played.
  • Brave Saint Saturn's first album was a Rock Opera about fictionalized versions of the band's three members as astronauts. Their second album was a sequel, but a new member (Andy Verdecchio) had joined the band by then, so the liner notes wrote about him as a crew member as if he had been on the mission from the beginning. For the third album in the series, Andy was just as abruptly written out of the crew—this time, he was a cosmonaut on a completely different spacecraft.
  • Queen: Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) didn't give interviews too frequently, but he did grant at least ten per year since he became famous in '74. Very often, he was asked about his favorite singer(s) and answers used to include Robert Plant and, depending on the era and occasion, people like Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Montserrat Caballe, etc. His band mates, his former girlfriends and boyfriends, biographers (official and unofficial), people who worked with him (producers, engineers, guest musicians) were also asked about Freddie's favorite singers and more and more names came including Prince, David Bowie, etc. Paul Rodgers had never been mentioned as one of his influences until late 2004 when Brian May and Roger Taylor decided to go on tour with him as "Queen + Paul Rodgers." Then, he'd suddenly become "Freddie's favorite singer" and had apparently been all along. When the partnership ended, Freddie's alleged admiration for Mr. Rodgers was never mentioned again.
  • "But do you recall/The most famous reindeer of all?" Back when the song was written, this trope was in full effect, as Rudolph was created by the songwriter. Several Rankin Bass specials and light-up lawn decorations later, it could be argued that Rudolph is, in fact, the most famous reindeer of all - or at least the most distinctive, since all the other reindeer have no real character traits. The line in the song itself is pretty funny—the singer takes for granted that "You know Dasher and Dancer...." So why would there be any question of the listener recalling the most famous one?
  • Tag Team's first single "Whoomp! (There It Is)" (which was also the first track from their first album) has the line "Tag Team back again".
  • Vanilla Ice's first hit "Ice Ice Baby" has the line "Ice is back with my brand new invention". Somewhat justified in that the song was originally the B-side to "Play That Funky Music" (so he was "back" from the A-side).
  • The Backstreet Boys' "We've Got It Goin' On" derives its title from a line in the chorus, "We've got it goin' on for years". While this line would definitely ring true over 20 years later, when it was released that wasn't quite the case, as it was their debut single.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • A characteristic of TNA, particularly whenever Russo has the book, especially in 2007. The most obvious cases being Samoa Joe's girlfriend, the entire Latino Nation SoCal Val, Matt Morgan, PAC and Peyton Banks. A sufficiently hardcore pro wrestling fan might have known a few of these people already, indeed many of the live audience members seemed to, but to those who only watched TNA they just showed up with no fanfare yet were put into positions of focus.

  • Adventures in Odyssey introduced the eccentric mailman Wooton Bassett this way in "Welcoming Wooton," and to a certain extent, the entire Washington family (most notably Ed) in "The Toy Man." The latter was a little jarring, given that Ed Washington went from not being a character to the conveniently dilemma-solving manager of the new Whit's End in a single episode.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a rather extreme example with the Necrons and their C'Tan masters, who when introduced were not only major parts of the galaxy's backstory and indirectly responsible for some pretty significant things (namely the transformation of the Warp and its denizens from pure Chaotic Neutral to malicious Chaotic Evil, and the creation of the Orks and the Eldar), but had managed to hide on numerous planets undetected and undiscovered for approximately sixty million years. They are also apparently ancient enemies of the Eldar, despite no Eldar ever mentioning them before.
    • Also standard procedure whenever new characters and units get added to the game. Some of them manage to avert it, particularly in the case of new Tau units (as they, unlike most other factions, are still regularly producing new technology), but it's more common for the trope to be played straight instead. When this happens, expect older pieces of lore to receive a Rewrite in order to include them.

  • In Henry IV Part 2, Pistol is introduced as a long-established member of Falstaff's criminal/military crew, despite not having even been mentioned in Part 1.
  • In Macbeth, Macbeth hires two murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance, but three show up to do the deed. Since the Third Murderer is of no real consequence, this may be a case of textual corruption. Alternately, Shakespeare just needed a reason for the murderers to talk about what they're doing rather than just doing it, and a new guy who doesn't know what's happening is a convenient device. Another reading of it is that the third murderer is Macbeth himself in disguise, as he is so paranoid he has to see the act being done before his own eyes. Finally, there is at least one performing group whose interpretation of the above is to have the third murderer kill off the first two. Dead men tell no tales.

    Theme Parks 
  • Disney Theme Parks:
    • Walt Disney World's 2010-2014 expansion of Fantasyland (aptly dubbed New Fantasyland) is treated this way in the official tie-in material, explained as always having been there, though unbeknownst to us due to a recently-broken curse placed upon it.
    • A similar mythology was used for the opening of Mickey's Toontown in Disneyland: the "neighborhood" had been there since before the opening of the park, but humans weren't allowed in until 1993.

    Video Games 
  • Grimm in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War is introduced this way, where halfway through the fourth mission he comes in out of nowhere, announces he's taking a spare plane up to help you defend the base, and the game treats this like some sort of shocking development while a first-time player is wondering, "who the hell is this?". Fortunately, it happens early enough in the game that it isn't too jarring.
  • In Baldur's Gate II, it's actually the main character's own choice if they recognize people they might actually have met in the first game or not. Interestingly, among the dialogue options there is usually also "Shouldn't you be dead?" This is somewhat necessary, of course, considering the non-linear nature of the Baldur's Gate games. It's actually possible to play the first game without ever meeting some of those characters, or without having them join your party, depending on the decisions the player makes.
  • Prior to his appearance in Batman: Arkham Knight, Jason Todd was absolutely unmentioned in the first two games and companion media, not even mentioned in the database entries and the Batcave DLC we see in City was missing the iconic Robin display monument. About the only reference was an oblique comment ("Didn't I Kill You?") in the Joker's Funland challenge DLC. Knight has several flashbacks dealing with Todd before The Reveal. Why is this prominent? It's because Jason Todd is the very same Arkham Knight who serves as the titular Dragon to Scarecrow.
  • Battlefield 4 manages this with an actual reoccurring character, CIA agent Kovic. He's supposed to be one of the two people who were interrogating Blackburn about his actions in Battlefield 3, but there's next to no recognition possible. You can't recognize him by name because the previous game never saw fit to ever tell you it, and you can't recognize him by his personality or manner of speaking because his entire personality back then could be summed up as "you're a lying liar who lies, the Russians are the real bad guys". He at least gets off better than Dima, though, by at least keeping the same face and voice.
  • Billy Vs SNAKEMAN has Sue. Allegedly, she's in your party from the start, but she doesn't appear on your ally list until you've beaten her in a game of Mahjong.
  • Sofia Lamb, the Big Bad of BioShock 2 is established in the latter game as having been a major opponent of Andrew Ryan during Rapture's early history, having her following/cult of ideals diametrically opposite to those of Ryan and having public debates with the latter despite having never having been mentioned in the previous game (Sinclair and Alexander at least had their names mentioned once or twice). This is slightly justified by her having been kept in Ryan's secret prison during Fontaine's rise to power while Ryan did his best to wipe her from the public record.
  • Parodied with Professor Nakayama of the Sir Hammerlock DLC of Borderlands 2. When he first appears, he assumes that you've come to square off with him and stop his plans. Hammerlock however clarifies that they're simply here for a hunting trip and have no idea who he is. When Nakayama tries to brag about his various exploits, Hammerlock and the Vault Hunters still don't know who he is, which deeply annoys him.
  • The Crash Bandicoot series was prone to introducing Funny Animal characters, despite the mythos of the series implying all animals with anthropomorphic abilities were mutated by Neo Cortex or N. Brio. Coco, Crash's sister, is introduced inexplicably in the second game for example, her background never referred to (later games and bios clarify she was another mutant of Cortex, though even then she is not shown or mentioned in the first game, the only point she could have been created).
  • Crisis Core combines this with some serious Retconning. Turns out, Sephiroth wasn't driven mad by finding out he was the product of genetic engineering. He was driven mad by a combination of that and Genesis' Breaking Speech. Who's Genesis? An extremely Camp Expy of Sephiroth who was apparently one of his best buddies back in the day. Let's just say fans are divided on how well this worked and leave it at that.
  • A big part of the lore of the Divine Divinity series involves the Divine Lucian (the player character of the first game) and his adopted son, Damian. Divinity: Original Sin II, set before Beyond Divinity, introduces a character named "Bishop Alexandar", who is the son of the Divine. Previously made games in the series didn't mention Lucian even having another child, yet Original Sin II explains him as having been there all along. Fortunately, Larian avoids some other pitfalls of this trope in that Original Sin II is actually set before Beyond Divinity and most importantly Divinity II Dragon Knight Saga, and since by this point Alexandar is long dead, there'd be no reason to mention him. Original Sin and Dragon Commander, being set in the distant past, of course wouldn't mention him for the fact this was a thousand years before it all.
    • Magister Dallis as well - if the ending that involves removing source from the world is indeed the canonical one, then she is still alive, yet vanishes offscreen and from the lore.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, the Dragon Cult was a Religion of Evil from the Merethic Era who, along with the dragons they worshiped, was defeated and overthrown during the ancient Dragon War. They are a relatively new addition to the series' lore, only being introduced in Skyrim. Possibly justified; since the Dragons primarily operated out of Skyrim and frequently battled the Ancient Nords, it makes sense that the Dragon Cult was most prominent in Skyrim and just hadn't been seen elsewhere in Tamriel.
  • Marcus in Fallout 2 and all of the other named Super Mutants in Fallout: New Vegas were members of the Master's Army at the time of Fallout. ED-E from New Vegas was also established to be built by a Dr. Whitley, a previously-unmentioned Enclave scientist at Adams Air Force Base from Fallout 3.
  • Lampshaded in Final Fantasy X-2: Buddy was apparently there in Final Fantasy X, but Yuna doesn't remember him. Justified in that in X the entire Al Bhed race was rescued from Home on the Airship, but Yuna wasn't there for that and only got on the ship herself near the end of the story. A throwaway comment from Rikku implies that she, Buddy, Brother and Gippal were all old friends. When you meet Yaibal of the Youth League, Yuna has the option to say she does remember him despite him only being introduced in X-2 (though he does appear in the "Eternal Calm" prologue to the game).
  • The entire Taguel race, or at least their Last of His Kind, is introduced in Fire Emblem Awakening and are treated as an established part of the lore even though they've never appeared before in any game and nothing in particular is ever really explained about them. There are some minor clues that they may be related in some way to the Laguz of Fire Emblem Tellius, but this has so little support within the game that it tends to stand more as a fan theory.
  • The reanimated body of either Kenneth or Jerme in the Boss Rush at the end of Fire Emblem; you only killed one of them previously, but they both appear in the final chapter.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's' first sequel introduces us to the closest thing the series has to an antagonist for the first time: the Puppet. Considering 2 is a Stealth Prequel, you would imagine it doesn't survive the events of the game. Nope, it's still around and screwing things up by the time the first game rolls around, as shown by the cutscene in-between Night Four and Night Five... which means it's been around the whole time, when no mention is made of it whatsoever in the first game.note 
  • God of War II has Atlas, who recognizes Kratos on sight and clearly bears a grudge against him for some reason, with Kratos recognizing him in term ("Much has changed since we last met!"). The prequel released the following year, Chains of Olympus, reveals that Kratos, during his time of servitude to the Olympians, was the one who chained up Atlas on top of the Pillar of the World to begin with.
  • Guild Wars has an interesting relationship with this trope - particularly in that they Zig-Zag it. While it may seem that Abaddon is a case of this, a veteran from 2005 might remember Abaddon's maw in Prophecies. However, Eye of the North plays this straight with the Norn and the Asura, who have apparently been in the world just as much as humans, Charr, and Tengu (And have even shared the same landmass!) but are just being introduced. Apparently, humans have never saw signs of Asura on the surface, and the Ebon Vanguard apparently didn't notice the Norn whose territory they regularly scout. Somewhat justifiable in that news doesn't always travel fast, and the Ebon Vanguard is an independent organization.
    • Averted with the Sylvari - Guild Wars 2 states them as being the newest race, and makes zero effort to claim they've always been there. They may seem a bit like an Ass Pull, but there was a little bit of backstory to the Sylvari in Eye Of The North. Hope you didn't blink - you probably missed it. The lead up to Heart of Thorns reveals that the recent origin of the Sylvari wasn't just to justify another race in Guild Wars 2, but was a massive, plot-relevant Chekhov's Gun.
  • Dr. Arne Magnusson from Half-Life 2: Episode Two is apparently a vital and high-ranking member of La Résistance - and had a similar role back in Black Mesa - who just happened to have never been mentioned at all previously. The explanation given is that he's the guy whose lunch Gordon can blow up before the resonance cascade in the original game.
    • Half-Life 2 does this a lot, due to the first Half-Life almost entirely making use of generic NPCs, though in some cases (Barney Calhoun and Dr. Isaac Kleiner) the effect is lessened by taking those generic NPCs from the first game and turning them into unique characters (also helps that Barney was the protagonist of Blue Shift,note  and Kleiner was mentioned in the game's manual as one of Gordon's college professors who ended up helping him get into Black Mesanote ). Eli Vance likewise has a line upon actually meeting him face-to-face in 2 indicating he was the black scientist who asked Gordon to get topside and call for help immediately after the resonance cascade. Alyx, Eli's daughter, lampshades this in her introduction, stating that Gordon probably doesn't remember her - on top of having a valid reason for why she didn't show up in the first game (that being she'd have only maybe been one year old during the incident at Black Mesa). Judith Mossman is likewise introduced as a former Unknown Rival to Gordon back in the day, thus the player is unaware of anything she may have done before the second game because Gordon isn't either. The only particular standout case of this trope, other than the aforementioned Magnusson, is Dr. Breen, former administrator of Black Mesa at the time of the resonance cascade turned administrator of the Combine's presence on the planet.
  • Halo:
    • In Halo 2 the Prophets were treated this way for people who didn't read the books, where they had already shown up several times. This is justified by you not getting a good look at the inner workings of the Covenant in the first game (though its novelization, released between Halo 1 and 2, did show that a Prophet was indeed attached to the fleet hounding you).
    • As were the Engineers in 2009's Halo Wars and Halo 3: ODST - while they had already shown up in Expanded Universe material from the very first book onward, and were even Dummied Out from the first game, those entries were their first actual in-game appearances.
    • The Brutes, also introduced in-game in Halo 2 , were this as well, though not entirely intentionally. Initially, the events of Halo: First Strike, which took place between 1 and 2, were meant to be humanity's first encounter with the species. Then every bit of Halo media taking place before the original game featured them anyways - to the point that Halo: Contact Harvest, written by one of Bungie's own main writers, had them as the second ever Covenant race humans have met and fought with - which resulted in the opposite effect where their lack of presence in the original game is Early Installment Weirdness. A 2010 reprint of First Strike removed all mention of Brutes being newly-introduced.
    • The Drones, yet another species introduced in 2, were also this, with the original explanation being that the Covenant didn't start using them in battle until near the end of the Human-Covenant war. Like with the Brutes, this was retconned away as later works showed that they had been fighting humanity for the entire duration of the war.
    • Series prequel Halo: Reach introduced the Skirmishers, a Lightning Bruiser subspecies of the Jackals, who were never fought in the previous games. The given explanation by Bungie was that they were wiped extinct by the carnage at the Fall of Reach, though this didn't explain why they didn't show up in other media taking place chronologically before the first game like the aforementioned Halo Wars. And again, this original explanation was retconned away as later works showed that there were still plenty of Skirmishers around long after the Fall of Reach.
  • Witch Princess was introduced in Harvest Moon DS but is the long-standing rival to the Harvest Goddess from Harvest Moon Friends Of Mineral Town.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series has two examples, in a rather convoluted fashion. A bit of background: In the original game, the Big Bad is a king named Ansem who Mickey Mouse met in the backstory. In the next game, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, the Ansem character reappears and there is also a new character who calls himself DiZ. It's implied that DiZ is another incarnation of Ansem, as Mickey finds him familiar. The trope comes into play in Kingdom Hearts II. The heroes run across a painting depicting a guy they haven't seen before. When Mickey sees the painting, he claims this new character is Ansem, and the Ansem from previous games is actually an imposter. This is despite the fact that even Mickey called the imposter "Ansem" in previous games. It's later revealed that DiZ is this true Ansem, while the imposter was Ansem's never-before-mentioned apprentice Xehanort. Thus both the real Ansem and the Xehanort character fit this trope despite technically being introduced in previous games.
  • The Legend of Zelda has Hylia, introduced in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword as a God of Good tasked by the Golden Goddesses with guarding the Triforce, the patron deity of the tribe of humans who would subsequently become known as Hylians, the namesake of the land of Hyrule, and the ancestor of the Royal Family specifically and the Hylians in general on account of the first Zelda being her reincarnation. Despite filling such a crucial role for the people of Hyrule, none of the previous Zelda games from any of the different timelines made any mention of her. Gets even weirder with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the first major console game to be released after Skyward Sword, which is stated to be the latest chronologically in its timeline; statues of Hylia are ubiquitous, and she is worshiped across the land as Hyrule's patron deity. Before Breath of the Wild, fans assumed that the people of Hyrule had forgotten about the Goddess Hylia after so long to justify her absence in previously made but chronologically subsequent games.
  • MapleStory does this a lot. Examples:
    • In Black Heaven, you are often accompanied by three bird-like Non Player Characters named Dolpi, Gupi, and Lepi. The dialogue suggests you've known them for a long time, although this is the first time they appear.
    • In the Madhouse scenario, released in the 2015 Halloween event, your goal is to rescue an old friend named Chloe from a Bedlam House, and some other friend - Eddie, Marilyn, Chu, Lopez, and Sean - come with you. Thing is, all six NPCs don't appear in any previous scenario, despite dialogue that suggests you've known them for a long time.
  • Mega Man 7 introduces Auto, an otaku Gadgeteer Genius who has apparently been working for Dr. Light long before the start of the game.
  • Anthony Higgs from Metroid: Other M. "Remembah me?" He later goes on to make absolutely sure that you do.
    • In a sense, Adam is this in Metroid: Fusion, although it's less noticeable here given he's a Posthumous Character who we never heard mention of before simply because Samus never really mentioned much of anything about her life before the bounty-hunting gig until that game. The reveal that the computer she's nicknamed after Adam really being Adam also works because Samus herself didn't know the Federation did that sort of thing.
  • DLC character Skarlet from Mortal Kombat, who is present during the MK1-era events according to the story mode, but never interacts with any of the characters. This is probably intentional, as she's an Ascended Urban Legend of Zelda.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon is probably the most extreme example, considering that every legendary is from a legend from long ago, but was only recently introduced to the games' audience. Plus the other 651 (and counting) or so Pokémon introduced after Gen I. This is particularly weird because it sometimes tends to Hand Wave it as the newly introduced Pokemon being newly-discovered species... even though the residents of that region all know more than enough information about these new mons to train and use them for the same purposes as any other region, which sort of implies that the regions don't interact with each other a whole lot. It's especially odd with the almost-obligatory remakes two or three generations later, where once the player beats the Elite Four, the next 200 or so extra Pokémon introduced since the original version will just sort of appear out of nowhere without garnering any attention from anyone beyond the local Professor first telling the player that they're here now.
    • In the Japan only sequel to Pokémon Trading Card Game there is an option to play as a female character. The story still treats them as having done the events in the first game, despite not existing in the first game.
  • Krauser from Resident Evil 4. He's a guy that protagonist Leon met in the time period between Resident Evil 2 and 4, though what's a tad jarring is that the game seems to take this trope a step further, introducing him almost as if his presence was some kind of shocking plot twist (which is further reinforced by the fact that, from Leon's in-universe perspective, it is a shocking twist) and acting as though a first-time player is somehow supposed to know who he is. His introductory cutscene even makes it a point to dramatically reveal his face in a close-up.
    • Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles retroactively addresses this with its storyline, with Leon and Krauser as the two protagonists of the main plot (which is set a few years before RE4), and the trope becomes effectively averted if you actually play the games in chronological order.
    • Resident Evil: Revelations pulls the same thing with Raymond, who shows up out of nowhere, is given a dramatic reveal of his face in a close-up, and then pulls his gun on Jill and Parker before the screen fades to black and leaves a first-time player wondering why the devs thought this would work now when it didn't work for Krauser. Fortunately, unlike Krauser the game does address this immediately, as the next chapter opens with a flashback to the "Terragrigia Panic" an in-universe year prior, where Raymond actually does get a minor speaking role and even a namedrop (though you have to stick around for a few minutes at the beginning to hear it from someone else, since Parker seems oddly hesitant to refer to him by any name other than "Cadet") before the game gets back to the present day.
    • Resident Evil 7: biohazard has Joe Baker of the End of Zoe DLC. He's a member of the Baker family that has gone completely unmentioned since he lives just far away to avoid being infected.
  • Saints Row 2 does this if you create your character as a female, since you could only play as a male in the original. Lampshaded all throughout, alongside said character being Suddenly Voiced, where NPCs continually ask if s/he did something with his/her hair.
    • At the start of the fourth game the player character has become President and has chosen actor Keith David (playing himself) as Vice President. Keith David did voices for previous games, but was almost entirely restricted to the first game (which few people played compared to the later games due to it being a console exclusive), and had never appeared in universe before. Plus, unlike Burt Reynolds in SR3, he wasn't necessarily an instantly recognizable personality, leaving many fans confused about who he was and why he was so important.
    • Players may also feel the same way about Benjamin King in the fourth game, who again is an important character despite not having featured since the first game.
  • In Sharin No Kuni Chapter 5, the first-person narrator reveals that the person he's been narrating to is not the reader, but his sister, Ririko, who actually was behind him all along.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Dr. Eggman was given two robot minions; Orbot, introduced in Sonic Unleashed, and Cubot, introduced in Sonic Colors. Despite having never been seen before, they speak as if they've been around to witness Eggman's failures since the beginning.
    • In Sonic Adventure 2, it's implied that Knuckles has had to deal with Rouge a few times before this particular time when the Master Emerald was stolen. This turns out to be true in Sonic X, as she was seen well before the adaption of that game.
  • Spyro the Dragon:
    • Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly introduces "Dragon Spirit", a large statue that has the spirit of an ancient dragon in it. It never appeared in the previous title, nor does it appear in any other, but it is treated as it was always there.
    • Spyro: A Hero's Tail introduces us to Flame and Ember, two dragons around Spyro's age. In previous games no adolescent dragons were depicted, only hatchlings and adults. The game also introduces a new batch of eggs despite the fact dragon eggs only occur every twelve years.
  • Blizzard again. Tychus Findlay was never even mentioned in the original StarCraft, but in the sequel he's been Raynor's old partner in crime, and probably his best terran friend. Though, being Blizzard, they made sure to carefully insert him in continuity through an Expanded Universe novel that takes place before the original game and came out shortly before the sequel. As a bonus, that novel also invented an outlaw past for Raynor, before his Confederate marshal days.
    • Tychus was in prison for years before the start of Starcraft; he'd never even seen a Zerg before Wings Of Liberty. Raynor's backstory itself is another story; there was never a hint that the lawman had once been a criminal.
    • Also Matt Horner, who supposedly was (retroactively) with Raynor since shortly before Tarsonis, but was never mentioned in SC1. Why they invented a new character from scratch instead of establishing him to be the same as the Magistrate is anyone's guess.
    • Crown Prince Valerian Mengsk could also be this, as there is not the least bit on a hint in SC1 that Mengsk had ever had a son. The writer of Firstborn, where he's introduced, is at least kind enough to mention that Mengsk was afraid of his enemies using his family against him and hid the truth from pretty much everyone.
  • Star Fox Command introduces Lucy, Peppy's daughter. She is not mentioned in any of the previous games. You would think Peppy would have mentioned her at least once.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Toadsworth, who was first introduced in Super Mario Sunshine. He had apparently been serving the Mushroom Kingdom's royal family for years (which would imply that he had done so even during the events of the original Super Mario Bros.). The introduction of the younger version of Toadsworth in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time seems to confirm this.
    • Averted with Bowser Jr., who was introduced in the same game as Toadsworth, yet Mario and Peach clearly haven't seen him before. Peach even remarks, "So you're Bowser's son?" while he was explaining what he had been trying to do to Mario the whole game.
    • Speaking of which, although Bowser and Peach weren't really new to the series, games like Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time suggest that Mario knew them since his childhood, and that he lived in the Mushroom Kingdom since birth, although previous games as well as the comics and TV shows suggest that he lived on Earth (Brooklyn, New York, to be specific) his whole life.
    • Waluigi debuted in this manner on the Nintendo 64's Mario Tennis, getting into a confrontation with Luigi immediately after appearing during the game's introductory scene. The reaction Luigi gives implies that the two knew eachother beforehand, and have a long-standing mutual dislike for eachother.
  • Lampshaded in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 as the Alpha Numbers, especially the colony-living heroes from other Gundam series are utterly dumbstruck at the discovery of Coordinators and the PLANTs they live in, especially when they find out they've been there the entire time. It's mentioned that Blue Cosmos had been suppressing information on them for the longest time. They really are bastards...
  • Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return begins with the titular wild boy going to the rescue of his girlfriend Tabby with the help of his best friend Zippo. Both were nowhere to be seen in the first game.
  • Touhou has done this multiple times, with both Alice Margatroid and Kasen Ibaraki claiming to know Reimu and Marisa in their first appearances, while Reimu and Marisa can't say the same. The general implication is that Reimu is (by her own admission) bad with remembering faces and neither she nor Marisa can be bothered to remember every single person they've met (though Marisa thinks Kasen seems familiar but can't remember her name). Alice's case may be a Mythology Gag as, along with Reimu and Marisa, she was one of four characters from the franchise's now non-canon PC-98 era to be rebooted into the current Windows-era canon.
    • Wild and Horned Hermit presents a justified example with Aunn Komano, who acts friendly towards Reimu, Marisa, and Kasen, and says she knows all about them, but none of them recognize her. It turns out that she really was there from the beginning — she was one of the Hakurei Shrine's Komainu statues who was turned into a Yokai by Matara Okina, the Final Boss of Hidden Star in Four Seasons.
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End introduces the audience to Samuel Drake, an older brother of series protagonist Nathan Drake who never once got any mention, despite the fact a lot of who Nate is can be owed to his older brother's influence (both as a person and in his career). This gets justified later in because Nate considered his brother's supposed death a stain on his past and never talked about him since.
  • Warcraft:
    • There was never a hint that Grom Hellscream had a son, until suddenly in The Burning Crusade, there he was. Particularly significant considering he's eventually elevated to the leader of the entire Horde.
    • When you speak to the time-traveling dragon Chromie in Dragonblight, she starts by saying it's good to see you again before asking if it's the first time you've met. This is used to cover up her appearance in an earlier questline in the Eastern Plaguelands that the player may or may not have completed, and references her time travel by saying "You could say that we have met before. To that end, we shall also meet again."
    • Lieutenant Thorn is introduced in Warlords of Draenor as a respected Alliance soldier and your new second-in-command. You never having heard of her before is given the excuse that she's not accustomed to needing help like everyone else is (a meta joke about your primary exposure to NPCs being with quest givers).
    • In general, WoW expansions often toss new characters straight into the plot without any setup, with established characters somehow already knowing them. Just looking at the Warlords intro experience: Khadgar, Thrall, Maraad, Liadrin, and... Cordana Felsong? Who? Apparently she was a trusted ally of Khadgar and he had known her for a while before stepping through the Dark Portal to alt-Draenor, but we never learn how.
    • Cataclysm retconned worgen and goblin death knights to have been there all along, alongside all the other playable death knights when they broke free of the Lich King's control at the Battle of Light's Hope Chapel. They have different backstories to the other playable worgen and goblins introduced in the same expansion, and have supposedly been around since the beginning of Wrath. Why we haven't seen a single one of them in Northrend is anyone's guess...
  • Sergius from Xenosaga Episode 2. Despite Margulis being very loyal to him, he is not at all mentioned in the first episode.

    Web Comics 
  • Asperchu parodies this with the introduction of Groovan.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Carol was previously known only as a reporter, but she was revealed in the New and Old Flames storyline to be Sarah's sister, which was understandably already known by all of the main characters, but the reveal itself was sloppily lampshaded.
  • Most secondary characters in Frivolesque are introduced in this fashion, most notably Delphine, Marie-Neige roommate, who is mentioned for the first time in chapter 4 but has been supposedly living with her for years.
  • The first chapter of Gaia spends most of its time setting up the five main student character, Ilias, Lilith, Alissa, Ryn, and Sandril, before the Red Hall attack kicks off the main plot. At the start of the second, Ilias gets a missive from the other four, and asks his mother about a "Zoltan," who decided to move, and "Aaret," killed in the attack. There was no mention of either in the first chapter, in which the main five seem a fairly tight-knit clique, nor are there any obvious candidates among the miscellaneous students.
  • Gorgeous Princess Creamy Beamy was well into its 2nd storyarc when the character of Cheesecake Saint Cherrywell was introduced. Played for laugh, since she explained being disguised as someone else and having the flu during her earlier appearances, which is why we've never seen her at all before.
  • A particularly poignant example can be found in Least I Could Do, when a guy named Noel knocks on Rayne's door. Noel, as the audience is told, is actually Rayne's best bud and wingman from years back, despite never being mentioned prior in the comic's run. Rayne initially acts grumpy about the sudden reappearance, but it doesn't take long at all for Noel to replace John as the number-two character in the strip.
  • Parodied in Penny Arcade with Jim, who was apparently part of a Power Trio with Gabe and Tycho (complete with being The Kirk to Gabe and Tycho's McCoy and Spock). Unfortunately they never really mentioned him before (or since!) and by the point he's first mentioned, he'd been dead for six years.
  • Dale in Questionable Content was established as a regular at Coffee of Doom in his first appearance. This one feels much more natural than other examples of the trope can be, though, as the fact that actual customers are rarely shown in scenes set at Coffee of Doom despite the business being fairly successful had previously been lampshaded and most of his subsequent appearances involve interactions with a character who explicitly didn't know the main cast beforehand.
  • Justified in Schlock Mercenary. The Toughs are a mercenary company anywhere between several dozen and a few hundred strong, not all of them identified. Introducing a new character can and has been as simple as giving one of them a name and a job that lets the audience know what he does.

    Web Original 
  • JonTron has Rockington (a large rock with a face drawn on it), who appears briefly in the intro to one episode, with Jon talking to him like they're well acquainted. The next time he's mentioned, Jon somehow managed to lose him.
  • The writer of the Noob is trying to have the different media both complementary and potentially independent from each other. One of the consequences is that a medium sometimes has a character formally introduced in another just appear with everyone already knowing him or her.
  • Parodied in Ultra Fast Pony. After the girls get invited to Twilight's brother's wedding, Applejack actually interrupts the theme song to complain about how he's never been mentioned before.
    Rarity: Twilight, you can't just randomly decide that you've always had a brother!
    Twilight: What?! I have always had a brother, I just haven't talked about him until now.
  • Sailor Moon Abridged lampshades this with Serena's friend Molly's friend Katie, the Victim of the Week when Nephlite is first introduced.
    Molly: I'm really worried about Katie. She's just not the same person as before. Even though she's never been mentioned before, and will never be mentioned again, she's really important to me now.
  • forgot to formally introduce Robert Edward O. Speedwagon during the Phantom Blood spoofs in Vaguely Recalling JoJo. In-universe, Dio, Jonathan and George question Speedwagon after he shows up.
  • In-Universe, Paul Pasadena's appearance is this to Again A Fanfic Critic and RegretfullyYours when he suddenly appears out of nowhere in the middle of Benny Leo Johnny And Rae Meet The Slender Man.
  • Invoked and parodied in "Film Riot" when its revealed that stark has been hiding in the attic for the years he was absent. we are then treated to a series of shots from past episodes with him greenscreened in.
  • Parodied in Half in the Bag's episode reviewing Sinister and Paranormal Activity 4, where Mr. Plinkett claims he's always had the ghost of a murder victim living with him. When Mike and Jay express confusion, scenes from past reviews are played with the character spliced in, never interacting with anyone else.
    Mike: Wow. I need to stop drinking.
    Jay: And I need to stop snorting Comet.
  • RWBY: For Volume's two to three, it was assumed that Weiss only had an older sister, Winter. The fourth volume introduces their younger brother Whitley without much explanation. The in-series reason for him never even being implied is likely due to him and his older sisters having a tense relationship.
  • Parodied by Homestar Runner in their 2015 fan Halloween costumes round-up, with Strong Bad "recognizing" a humidifier in the background as "a dead-on Humidibot costume", and we're treated to a brief scene with Strong Bad interacting with a talking humidifier named Humidibot.
    Humidibot: Hey, Strong Bad! I'm Humidibot!
    Strong Bad: Yeah, I'm aware of that, Humidibot.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in an episode of American Dad!, when Francine meets her apparently best friend at her high school reunion. He never appears beforehand (or afterwards), but Francine apparently mentions him a lot.
    Francine: This was my best friend in the entire world, Quacky.
    Stan: Then how come I've never heard you mention him once?
    Francine: I mention him all the time. I even did that one-woman show, "Mentioning Quacky".
    Stan: Oh yeah. I meant to go to that.
  • Lucas Troy from Archer, who qualified to work for ISIS back when everyone was just starting, but opted to work for ODIN instead. Despite being the best fit for Archer's Friend Turned Rival, he's never been mentioned before his first appearance.
  • Atomic Betty: Mission Earth introduced Penelope Lang's brother Chaz and Principal Peterson's daughter Regeena. It's handwaved that Chaz was previously attending boarding school, but no explanation is given for why Regeena wasn't already going to her own father's school.
  • Avengers, Assemble!:
    • The Vision appears in Season 3 with no explanation or origin, and the Avengers are already all familiar with him. The creators apparently assumed the viewers already knew him from the then-recent Avengers: Age of Ultron movie, even though the show takes place in a completely separate continuity.
    • Captain Marvel debuts in the very next episode, and like Vision, the Avengers all know who she is (though The Falcon has never met her in person). She even has a long-spanning rivalry with Captain America and ribs Hawkeye over an incident where she saved his life.
  • The Batman does this to both Commissioner Gordon and Lucius Fox when they make their debuts. While according to producer Jeff Matsuda, Gordon was the young officer in the flashback in "Traction", Gordon hadn't appeared in the present until "Night and the City", where it's revealed that he'd had his alliance with Batman for a while before that episode, despite Ellen Yin filling that role in the show before he appeared. Likewise, Lucius is used in a similar manner to his The Dark Knight Trilogy counterpart, though while his debut episode, "The Joining, Part 1" does present him as being present behind the scenes, it did show him meeting Dick Grayson for the first time.
  • Max Gibson appears in the second season of Batman Beyond as one of Terry's closer friends, despite not appearing or being mentioned at all in the first season.
  • Beast Wars has this with Depth Charge in season 3. He's an old enemy of Rampage and a guy who tried to convince the Maximal Elders to execute Rampage, which Optimus Primal argued against. He's never mentioned before his first episode. The massacre Rampage is supposed to have performed that made Depth Charge so revenge obsessed is not mentioned by Optimus in previous episodes when he mentions Rampage's origin. He's simply called "treacherous and insane". Apparently the fact he murdered a colony and a star base (and ate some of them) was not worth mentioning. Neither that a lone survivor from the aforementioned colony tracked him down and captured him. In its defense though, since as far as they knew Depth Charge was a trillion miles away and centuries in the future, there really wasn't a lot of reason to mention him. Optimus definitely didn't seem inclined to do much mentioning of the details of Rampage, and most of the other Maximals didn't know anything about it. Also, since Optimus wasn't on Colony Omicron or Starbase Rugby the story of that may not mean as much to them. The fact that Rampage is violent and insane covers all his men needed to know.
  • Ben 10
    • Ben 10: Alien Force gives us Ken, Gwen's older brother who was never mentioned or even suggested she even had any siblings up to that only episode he has appeared in. After that he is never mentioned again. Suggesting he was created solely to give Max a reason to come out of hiding.
    • Ben 10: Omniverse handwaves most of the "New Guy" moments by Ben imperfectly rebuilding the universe after he kinda blew it up.
      • The series has Ben using the Feedback form in flashbacks to when he was 11 years old, even though it has never been seen in any of the other series. Even bigger, the form is portrayed as his favourite alien, despite all previous shows having Ben's first choice for most situations (at least when the Omnitrix lets him pick) be a huge muscular bruiser like Four Arms or Humungousaur. Lampshaded by Gwen, who asks him at one point why he's suddenly always using Feedback. This is somewhat justified by the fact that losing his alien form to Malware was such a traumatic experience that Ben decided to try and forget about it.
      • Parodied with Billy Billions. Remember Ben's rival from back in 6th grade? Neither does Ben.
  • The Biker Mice from Mars episode "Diet of Worms" had Lawrence Limburger form a meeting with three other Plutarkian bosses: One-Eyed Jack Monterey, Gerald Gruyere, and Gutama Gouda. The Biker Mice recognize One-Eyed Jack Monterey and Gerald Gruyere even though they didn't appear in any previous episodes.
  • Inverted in Care Bears & Cousins, probably to set up for the Fleeting Demographic Rulenote  and or comedic effect. In the first episode, none of the bears except Tenderheart knew who the cousins were.
  • The prequel to Clifford the Big Red Dog, Clifford's Puppy Days introduces Daisy as Emily Elizabeth's pet rabbit. She is not present or even alluded to in the sequel which causes Fridge Horror of what could have happened to her since.
  • Parodied in an episode of Clone High. Not only is it established (and repeatedly lampshaded) that the hitherto unseen Ponce de Leon is one of the most popular students at the eponymous high school, but he's also best friends forever with main character JFK (who has a BFF tattoo on his left arm—seriously, it borders on sheer Ho Yay). And, oh yeah, Ponce dies in the same episode.
    Julius Caesar: Oh, Ponce, you're a regular character!
  • In The Cleveland Show, Cleveland's friend circle abruptly added in a sixth member, this being a generic background guy named Franklin. Their explanation to his presence was that he just started hanging out with the guys a week ago, and Franklin said that he looked forward to many future adventures and wacky hijinks with the old crew for years to come. Immediately after his on-screen debut, Franklin died in a game of Hurt Locker gone wrong, and it was treated as a tragic event by the rest of the cast. His friends, family, and other actual recurring characters were mourning over their tragic loss at his funeral, and of course, he was never seen or mentioned again, seconds after the funeral scene ended.
  • In Code Lyoko, Yumi's brother Hiroki is first seen in Season 2. He is never mentioned in Season 1, even though the Ishiyama family and home are often involved on-screen.
  • In the series finale of Drawn Together a character is "voted" off the show. After much suspense the character revealed to get the boot was Munchkin Mouse, a character never seen in any episode of the show. All the characters are shocked to see Munchkin Mouse go and a montage of "Munchkin Mouse's Greatest Moments" is played featuring the same image of Munchkin Mouse spliced in to memorable scenes from the show.
    • Similarly done in "A Tale of Two Cows." Even though Wooldoor Sockbat only met Live Action Cow at the beginning of the episode, there's a montage at the end of him remembering the good times he had with her, which is really shots from other episodes with Live Action Cow crudely inserted in. There were even scenes that Wooldoor didn't originally appear in, with him and Live Action Cow often replacing characters that were involved with the original scene.
    • In the second go-around of 'cast member gets kicked off', it's Excludie, the character everyone excluded from their activities. This even parodied where the others were dying of cold and he was given a warm blanket and something warm to drink so he could not die with them.
  • Franklin introduced several characters' younger siblings in this way, most notably Kit, who was introduced as being near preschool age in Back to School with Franklin, even though Beaver had never been referenced as having a sibling before in five seasons of the show. He was never seen again, either.
  • Ever After High introduced Crystal Winter, who was talked about as if she was everyone's best friend and favorite person.
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi has Julie, the former third member of the band, return for a reunion tour. The reason we never saw her before was handwaved by the explanation that Ami hated Julie, who treated her like crap, and didn't really want to talk about her ever again.
  • Portia pops up in an episode of Holly Hobbie and Friends. The characters reference past things and how she's acting odd but it's hard to understand as she's a new character.
  • The Phantom Blot only appeared in two Mickey MouseWorks shorts: "Mickey Foils the Phantom Blot" and "Mickey and the Color Caper", the latter being one of the MouseWorks shorts that debuted in House of Mouse. In spite of those shorts being his only two appearances, the Phantom Blot is implied to have menaced Mickey and his friends for quite some time. In "Mickey Foils the Phantom Blot", the Blot tells Mickey that he and his friends have met him again for the last time. "Mickey and the Color Caper", which appeared on House of Mouse before "Mickey Foils the Phantom Blot", had Mickey rather quickly figure out that the Phantom Blot was to blame for the disappearing colors.
  • Invader Zim
    • Lampshaded in the Christmas special, where Zim insists Minimoose has been with him the entire time. Word of God says that, time permitting, there would've been a little montage of scenes from previous episodes with Minimoose crudely taped onto the picture at that point. The real reason for this discrepancy is that the Christmas special was intended to appear after an episode introducing Minimoose, but when the creators realized the show was soon to be cancelled, they made the more-profitable Christmas special early without regard to continuity.
    • Zim tried to invoke an inverted form of this trope when he pretended to know who Dib was after joining his class in the very first episode.
  • Of the original seven members of the Justice League, Shayera Hol (formerly Hawkgirl) was a blatant example of this. She'd never shown up anywhere onscreen in the DC Animated Universe continuity prior to her first appearance in the three-part premiere episode "Secret Origins," but the other main characters evidently already knew who she was. "Starcrossed" mentions that she's been on Earth for 5 years now. Highly doubtful that the first two seasons went on for 5 years in-universe. John Stewart, the Green Lantern, also counts, though his example isn't as obvious because the Green Lantern Corps and their individual members had already been shown in the earlier Superman: The Animated Series episode "In Brightest Day" (where new recruit Kyle Rayner was the focus character).
  • The main character of The Lion Guard is a never-before-seen son of Simba and Nala called Kion. At least Kiara is still around, though she's inexplicably still a cub despite having been an only child throughout the second film. There are also two new cubs despite the fact Kiara was the only cub in her pride according to Simba's Pride, and Timon and Pumbaa have an adopted nephew named Bunga.
  • Warner Bros. kind of likes to pretend these days that Lola Bunny, originally introduced in 1996's Space Jam, was always a Looney Tunes character. Her baby incarnation even made it into Baby Looney Tunes. She also appears in The Looney Tunes Show, though that actually subtly acknowledges how recent she is - she's shown as a new arrival who Bugs meets for the first time ever in an early episode, compared to almost everyone else from the classic crew whom Bugs and Daffy have at least been vaguely aware of from earlier in their lives.
  • The Magic School Bus Rides Again features a different teacher from Ms. Valerie Frizzle—her sister Ms. Fiona Frizzle. In the original cartoon, a large number of Ms. Frizzle's family was either seen or referenced (including her brother John), but she never mentioned having a sister named "Fiona".
  • The Marvel Super Heroes had a case of this in the Captain America segment that adapted the debut of Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil. Because there was no rhyme or reason to which comic stories were adapted to episodes of the cartoon, Iron Man recognizes the members Black Knight and Melter as foes he previously fought even though the former's debut wasn't adapted into an Iron Man segment until much later in the show's run and the latter made no other appearances.
  • According to the creators, Milo Murphy's Law is set in the same universe as Phineas and Ferb and Milo was always around, but he never got involved in Phineas and Ferb's big ideas due to his bad luck.
  • Taken to an extreme in the second of the My Little Pony TV Specials, where only Megan and Spike were re-used. Slightly justified, as there are a lot of ponies. My Little Pony 'n Friends also didn't include any ponies from the previous specials.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic occasionally names ponies that have never appeared before:
    • Miss Cheerilee's class frequently has new students suddenly show up and be treated as if they've always been there by the others.note  A prominent example would be Featherweight, who was a blank-flank until his introduction, despite a plot point of an earlier episode being that the Cutie Mark Crusaders were the only blank-flanks left in their class.
    • "A Canterlot Wedding" introduces both Twilight's brother Shining Armor and her former foalsitter Princess Cadance. Twilight claims they were her only real friends before she moved to Ponyville (despite her earlier statements that she didn't have any friends before then), which makes it odd that we never hear about them for the first two seasons of the show, the latter especially due to her role as Princess. The rest of the mane cast are extremely confused as well; they've never heard either one mentioned before either.
    • Maud Pie especially stands out in that an earlier event is retconned to include her. When Pinkie's origin story is shown in flashback in season 1's "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", we see her with two sisters, Limestone and Marble. In Season 4's "Pinkie Pride" a picture from the exact same scene appears, showing Maud as a fourth filly with no explanation given as to why we didn't see her in the earlier flashback.
    • In The Mane Attraction, we are introduced to Countess Coloratura. According to the characters, she is the "biggest pop star in Equestria", and act with stunned reaction at Applejack when she asks who she is. Considering Countess Coloratura has never been mentioned before in the show despite her supposed "fame", Audiences ended up relating more with Applejack.
    • In Flutter Brutter, we meet Fluttershy's brother, Zephyr Breeze. Much Like Shining Armor and Maud Pie, he comes right out of the blue with no foreshadowing. Unlike Shining Armor and Maud Pie, the mane six act like they've heard of and even met Zephyr before, with Dash definitely familiar with him. Though given what kind of pony Zephyr is, it is perhaps understandable that they wouldn't want to talk about him...
  • The Peanuts special Why, Charlie Brown, Why? introduces Linus' friend and classmate Janice. Though this is the first (and only) time we see her, it's implied they've been friends for a long time.
  • The writers of Pinky and the Brain (and Larry) parody this trope when a new character, Larry, is given the "Remember The New Guy" treatment by Pinky and the Brain. It starts with the theme song, in which Larry shoehorns himself in at the end of each line, setting the tone for the rest of the episode. The network, for whatever reason, demanded that a third character be added to the main lineup, so the writers created Larry, a character who added absolutely nothing to the formula, for a single episode. The episode was created as a protest to adding a third character, and to try and show a third character would destroy the chemistry. The network eventually did get Elmyra as their third character, which pretty much killed the series entirely.
    Gordon Bressack: To set the record straight: Charlie Howell and I wrote this episode as a protest to the network who were talking about adding characters to the show. We wanted to show that adding a character would destroy the chemistry between Pinky and Brain. That's why Larry is always in the way, is an afterthought every time Brain talks, and is absolutely no help in the plan, and Brain is such a genius that even in this alternate reality he knows there shouldn't be a Larry.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016) introduces a new Powerpuff Girl named "Bliss" during the second season. No, she's not a recently created character like Bunny was. She's a Long-Lost Relative that was created ten years prior to the Powerpuff Girls. According to her backstory, the Professor had a rivalry with another professor who created the perfect little boy. Utonium tried to one-up her by creating the perfect little girl but his original creation involving Chemical W wasn't perfect enough. Bliss would lose control of her powers whenever upset or scared. One day Bliss vanished during one of her episodes and was presumed dead until she reappeared ten years later. This all goes against the original show and the established backstory of the girls. The girls are the first known Artificial Humans and Professor Utonium had no parenting experience prior to their creation.
  • Rainbow Brite just randomly had Moon Glow and Tickled Pink appear one episode without any explanation. Everyone acts like they've always been around.
  • Specky from ReBoot. Between the final scene of season two and the beginning of season three (both showing the same characters in the Principal Office control room), he's suddenly in the room with them as the main computer guy, and there seems to be an unspoken implication he was there all along.
  • Somewhat parodied in the episode of The Replacements that introduced Abby's younger sister Tiffany. Abby says something along the lines of: "As you all know, my little sister Tiffany has been to boarding school for the past few years." Only for the Daring family to reply: "We didn't know that."
  • Sheep in the Big City poked fun at this. When General Specific's cousin General Lee Outrageous made his first appearance, it started with Private Public telling General Specific about his cousin calling, to which General Specific asked if it was the same cousin with whom he had a rivalry that he never mentioned before.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Played for Laughs in the Simpsons, in the episode "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show" where the family discusses the new addition of Poochie the Dog on The Itchy & Scratchy Show. During this discussion a teenage roommate of the family named Roy, who never appeared before but wasn't treated as a newcomer, suddenly shows up:
      Lisa: Adding a new character is often a desperate attempt to boost low ratings.
      Roy: Yo, yo! How's it hanging, everybody?
      Marge: Morning, Roy.
      Homer: (very blasé) Yeah, hiya Roy.
      • Roy then gets Put on a Bus in what sounds like a pitch for a stereotypical sitcom near the end of the very same episode:
        Bart: I guess people just weren't ready for Poochie. Maybe in a few years.
        Roy: (carrying a suitcase and a letter) Good news, everybody! I'm moving into my own apartment with two sexy ladies!
        Marge: Oh, then I guess this is good-bye, Roy. Maybe we'll see you in a few years. (kisses him goodbye)
    • The season 25 episode "Four Regrettings and a Funeral" featured the funeral of beloved character Chip Davis (in reality the character never existed). Originally the episode ended with a montage of images from classic Simpsons episodes with Chip inserted into them (including Chip as the fifth member of the B-Sharps, Chip in the Plow King commercial with Barney and Linda Ronstadt, and Chip in The Simpsons Movie's "bountiful penis" scene sitting next to Ned). It was supposed to run during the end credits but it was removed for the broadcast version and replaced with an "In Loving Memory" card for the recently departed Marcia Wallace. The original credits featuring Chip can still be viewed on Hulu and YouTube.
  • Dulcy the Dragon in Sonic the Hedgehog. She just suddenly appears in the second season premiere as if she was one of the Freedom Fighters the whole time.
  • South Park:
    • The episode "Quest for Ratings" features the guys running a news show on the elementary school closed circuit television system and they act as though they've always done this and its never mentioned again.
    • In the early seasons, Kenny's family consisted of his parents and an older brother; then, in season 9's "Best Friends Forever," there's suddenly a little girl hanging around them. It's not until five years later, in "The Poor Kid," that she is confirmed to be his younger sister Karen, whom he's very protective of. For what it's worth, earlier press releases/scripts mentioned Kenny having a sister, but it's odd that so many episodes with the McCormick family never showed her before the ninth season.
    • Celebrity example: "200" was a Continuity Cavalcade where every celebrity ever wronged by South Park joined forces to sue the town. Among them was Tim Burton, never even mentioned in previous episodes. Tim Burton was written into this episode to be mocked. He has thus become the 200th celebrity to be victimised by the town of South Park.
    • Parodied in "Red Man's Greed," when a random kid with "ALEX" written on his shirt appears in multiple scenes, each time giving a generic line that any other character could have said. It takes until the very end of the episode for anyone to comment on it:
    Stan: Dude, who the hell are you?!
    Alex: Alex. Alex Glick. I got to come on and do the guest voice thingy.
    Kyle: What?! Get the hell out of here!
    Alex: (exiting) Hi Mom! Hi Dad! Hi Jill!
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "Cheer Up Star", Star notices that her enemy Ludo has some new monsters in addition to the recurring Mooks he brings along. Ludo, however, asserts that the new monsters were always there in previous attacks.
  • Steven Universe: Bismuth from the episode of the same name. Garnet and Pearl are utterly ecstatic to see her and appear to have been close friends with her. Meanwhile, neither Amethyst (born a few centuries after the show's Great Offscreen War) nor Steven know anything about her, as Garnet and Pearl never mentioned her, and Rose Quartz never left anything behind that mentioned past members of the team. When they're alone, Amethyst and Steven even talk about how weird it was that Garnet and Pearl never discussed this with them, with Steven reasoning that they prefer not to talk about the war. It turns out that Rose Quartz at least had a good reason never to mention her...
  • Sushi Pack has a tendency to do this for villains. Oleander, Sir Darkly, and Paradoxtor were all introduced as villains that appeared before (Sir Darkly even had a quick recap flashback), despite never having proper introductory episodes.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
    • The episode "Night of the Rogues" had Antrax and Scumbug. Both of them already had toys, but they had never been mentioned in the show proper before that episode.
    • In the episode "White belt, Black Heart" Splinter apparently had a human pupil named Yoku, who we have never seen before, and yet the Turtles all knew him and remember their time with him and how he walked out on Splinter.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In the episode "City At War" we meet Karai's best friend Shinigami, who is also a fighter and has been Karai's close friend since childhood. Never mentioned that Karai even had friends until this.
  • Team Umizoomi :
    • Bot immediately recognizes The Trouble Makers in the season four premiere "The Boy with the Dragon Skateboard", despite said premiere being the debut of the latter.
    • Likewise, inverted. Any character/villain recently introduced in certain episodes/specials, if Team Umizoomi doesn't introduce themselves beforehand, will address Team Umizoomi by their actual name, even if it's never given it out to said character/villain.
      • One example of this inversion is "Umi Cops!", where the Team is called upon by the Police General as The Umi Cops, despite only becoming cops recently.
  • When Thunder Cats began, there were only three mutants: Ssslythe, Monkian, and Jackalman. However, later episodes randomly added a fourth mutant, Vultureman, who had never even been mentioned before.
  • Both The Transformers and G.I. Joe had this. They would introduce a new character for the episode, and explanation would ever be given as to why we've never seen this guy before, especially when they are characters who would have saved the day in earlier episodes.
    • The cast all but doubles in Transformers season two due to never-before-seen characters who are treated as having been there all along. In fact, one story depends on them having come to Earth at the same time as the others — everyone is affected by "cybertonium" deficiency due to having been away from Cybertron for so long, which rules out anything like only recently arriving on Earth.
    • A bit more believable with G.I. Joe, as it can be — and has been, in some cases — handwaved as them being new recruits. Alternatively, that they just weren't on duty during past episodes.
  • On Wonder Pets, the Origins Episode "How it All Began!" would have us believe that Ollie the bunny was the very first animal that the Wonder Pets helped when they first got together, completely ignoring the fact that Ollie only appeared for the first time later in the show's run.

In-canon reality-warping or false memory examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: Tsukishima has this as a power. He did a Remember The New Guy on near everyone Ichigo knows, as part of a gambit to confuse Ichigo into handing over his life. By adding details, he can do things such as change the environment, learn about others, or make them collapse from the stress of conflicting info.
  • Rolo Lamperouge from Code Geass manages to insert himself into the main cast between seasons 1 and 2. In fact, he is supposedly the main character Lelouch's little brother (replacing the sister he had previously, Nunnally). He's really an assassin who has been appointed with the mission of keeping watch over Lelouch, after the Ashford students are given Fake Memories and an amnesiac Lelouch is sent there as well, to keep him out of the way of The Emperor's plans. It doesn't work.
  • In Fairy Tail, when Master Makarov selects the candidates for the S-Class exams, one of them is Mest, a character we have never seen before, yet everybody claims he is a valued Fairy Tail member. He is a spy who inflicted Fake Memories on everybody. And then, hundreds of chapters later, he is revealed to be a Fairy Tail member from the beginning who even erased his own memories to spy on the Magic Council.
  • Yashiro Isana in K is an interesting example in that even he remembers having been there all along. By the time of The Reveal half way through the first season, everyone who was made to Remember The New Guy has forgotten him, which is what leads him to realize his memories had been tampered with. Everyone in the school not only remembered him, they loved him enough to eagerly share their food with him every day.
  • In Majokko Meg-chan, Meg is a young witch who has been sent to Earth where is adopted by former witch Mami Kanzaki. In the first episode, Mami bewitches her husband and their two children, Rabi and Apo, into believing that Megu has always been the eldest child of the family.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion does this with Bebe a.k.a. Charlotte/Nagisa, Mami's pet witch. Mami claims to have adopted her long before meeting Madoka and Sayaka, and that they were inseparable ever since; but Bebe appeared only briefly in the original series, when she literally bit Mami's head off, and then got blown up by Homura. She was never Mami's pet before the movie, but none of the characters can remember her being anything else. It turns out that Homura has manipulated the memories of most of the cast, including herself, and "Bebe" is only the tip of the iceberg.
  • s-CRY-ed pulls an interesting version of this in regards to Ryuhou in the second half, after he's lost his memories and his former organization tracks him down. While he was implicitly already familiar with Kigetsuki's Alters, a trio of almost-entirely-human beings called the Tokonatsu sisters, Unkei forces this trope on him by using his Alter, Mad Sprict, to implant false memories within Ryuhou and make him believe the Tokonatsu sisters were all his fiancées since childhood - complete with revisiting earlier flashbacks to Ryuhou's childhood when he first met Mimori, but with one of the three Tokonatsu sisters taking Mimori's place in the different flashbacks. Ryuhou is definitely not pleased when his memories actually return.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Season 4, where the characters are shown instantly treating the previously unknown Yusuke Fujiwara like he's one of the True Companions all along — because he's hypnotized them into thinking so. Too bad his magic doesn't work on Judai. It doesn't work on Fubuki, too, because Fubuki knew Fujiwara beforehand (see above).

    Comic Books 
  • In Adventure Time, Finn and Jake destroy a magical statue and then discover that they now have an adopted sister, Gata, who is intimately familiar with everyone they know and has apparently lived with them for years. Gata was once actually their sister, but their father magically banished her to another universe and removed all memories of her existence after discovering she was an Apocalypse Maiden that created a portal to a dimension filled with powerful demons when she slept. The statue was the seal to that universe, and destroying it restored her to theirs. At the end, Gata decides to perform a Heroic Sacrifice and re-banish herself and the demons (who are led by her birth mother). Finn and Jake instantly forget about her when she does so.
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog: Following the Cosmic Retcon (and real-life lawsuit) induced Continuity Reboot, numerous characters have shown up who have histories with the preexisting characters that are completely new to the audience. Possibly lampshaded in the case of Breezie the Hedgehog, whom Amy points out Sonic and Tails have never mentioned to the rest of the team before.
  • This seemed to happen with Moonraker's sudden appearance in Force Works. Everybody knew him and he even was in an ongoing relationship with Spider-Woman. However, Rachel (Spider-Woman's daughter) notices she had never seen him before. Some issues later, Moonraker reveals he was really implanted into the team's history via time travel to warn them and the Avengers about an upcoming attack by Kang.
  • In the Transformers IDW comics crossover, Infestation, Galvatron has his loyal crew of Cyclonus, Scourge and... Bayonet, a female helicopter transformer we've never seen before and is part of the crew. She is the Big Bad Britt, disguised as a transformer who used her powers to mess with everyone's memories to make them all believe that she was there all along. Kup, who's going crazy by this point, is the first to notice, and when trying to write it off as paranoia fails, she impales him.
  • In X-Men: Legacy, ForgetMeNot's mutant power made people forget his existence the moment they stop actively thinking about him. He's apparently been an X-Men for six, in-story years.
  • In the short-lived Rogue solo series, Blindspot was retconned into being a friend of Rogue and a member of the Brotherhood, but since she has the power to manipulate memories, she was able to erase all knowledge of her existence after going into hiding.
  • One of the Fear Itself tie-ins to Secret Avengers introduced Leonard Gary, a friend of Beast's with Omega-level Reality Warper abilities. Leonard is shown to be so powerful that he literally brings Washington D.C. to life to repel Red Skull's Neo-Nazi invasion, and yet we've never heard of him before. It is however justified since Beast implies that Leonard deliberately used his powers to hide himself from people like the X-Men.
  • DC's Moon Maiden and Triumph, and Marvel's The Sentry. All three are modern characters retconned as heroes from the Silver Age who happened to save the world in a way that erases everyone's memories of them. Leading up to the series that introduced the Sentry, Marvel got comic news sources in on the joke; they ran stories about how he really was a Silver Age hero who was created back then but never used and promptly forgotten. Nor was this the first time Marvel had tried this tactic. 3D-Man was made in the Seventies but his story had him as active since the Fifties. There was even a What If? story where he was present as a founding member of a 50's version of The Avengersnote 

    Fan Works 
  • Late in Perfection Is Overrated, Bachiko is introduced as a supposed childhood friend of Mai, and it's claimed that Mai has also known Bachiko's best friend Meiko when she first arrived at Fuuka, in a manner similar to the Mary Sue examples listed above. Natsuki is confused when Mai and the others assume she knows the two when she knows she doesn't. It turns out that Meiko, using her powers, altered everyone's memories so that they would remember herself and Bachiko as their friends, as part of an Evil Plan to manipulate everyone's relationships as they see fit with Bachiko's personality altering abilities, and they posed as Mai's friends in order to monitor their progress. Natsuki happened to be outside of Fuuka's campus at the time, and so was not affected by Meiko's power.
  • Done In-Universe in The Vampire Diaries story "Return to Mystic Falls" by Elena who is really Katherine. She had a witch make people think she had been there all along to fool people, especially Stefan.
  • In Pony POV Series:
    • It is eventually revealed that Shining Armor literally didn't exist before he was introduced, and once he appeared, the timeline adjusted itself both past and future to accommodate him. When he finds out, it's a Tomato in the Mirror moment for him.
    • During the Finale Arc, Button acts like he's always been Sweetie Belle's coltfriend and the Crusaders' Sixth Ranger. However, this is because from his perspective, it really had always been that way.
    • Also during the Finale Arc, Maud Pie is really the amnesiac avatar of Entropy, the Goddess of Nothingness and Endings. Upon her arrival, characters briefly question who she is before their memories are rewritten so that they believe she is Pinkie Pie's older sister. As Maud doesn't remember being Entropy and only remembers being Maud, she genuinely believes she is Pinkie Pie's older sister.
  • In Harry Potter and the Natural 20, Milo is a Munchkin with the standard Dungeons & Dragons Player Character ability to add details to his backstory at will. So naturally, he exploits this trope for all its worth.
    "What did you do?" Relkin asked in a hushed voice.
    "I remembered each and every one of them as a treasured friend or relative from my backstory," Milo said quietly. "One who would never, ever raise a hand against me or impede the cause of Justice or the furthering of Good. And who gets +2 and a reroll against magical orders against their nature."

  • In addition to the straight example above, Men in Black 3 also has it happen In-Universe after Boris alters the timeline by going back to 1969 to kill K. J gets on the elevator to go to work and he is joined by another agent, AA, who addresses J as if J is his partner. Neither J nor the audience has ever met this guy before, much less been partnered up with him. J naturally knows something's wrong.

  • In Grinny by Nicholas Fisk, the title character has this as an explicit power: by saying "You remember me", she can make adults (but not children) think they've known her all their lives.
  • In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Mist can be manipulated to create Fake Memories of a person. For example, after Mrs. Dodds (Percy's teacher and a servant of Hades) attacks Percy and is killed, a new teacher named Mrs. Kerr mysteriously appears to take her place, and nobody but Percy remembers that Mrs. Kerr hadn't always been their teacher.
    • This is also used in the Sequel Series, The Heroes of Olympus, to get Jason's classmates to think that he had always been in their class. Leo Valdez believes that Jason was his best friend, and Piper McLean even has memories of dating Jason.
  • The Torchwood novel Border Princes by Dan Abnett (published between series 1 and 2) has pretty much exactly the same plot as the episode "Adam" (below), except it's a Reality Warper, rather than a memory-alterer, and he isn't doing it intentionally.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Angel, Connor inverts the trope by being given fake memories of a normal life, so that no one except Angel and Cordelia remembered his true identity. The Beast's introduction also has shades of this, because Angelus remembers him but Angel (and thus the audience) doesn't.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: One of the most significant examples is the case of Buffy's little sister Dawn, whom everyone treated as always being around despite only debuting in the fifth season. She actually didn't exist before her first appearance; she's really a cosmic key between dimensions, transformed into a human being in order to hide her from a demon goddess. The monks who transformed her also created memories of her in everyone's minds to ensure that she has the Slayer to protect her.

    The trope goes far enough that Dawn is referenced on Angel, the spin-off show she never appeared on, because Angel himself would have met Dawn in the first season of Buffy. She also appears in comics and novels set before the fifth season, on the grounds that the characters would have remembered her being there even though she wasn't there before. When a Buffy animated series, set during their high school years, was in development, Dawn was planned as a main character.
  • Torchwood based its episode "Adam" on this. Gwen enters the Hub one-day to find a New Guy working like he's been there all along. She's never seen him bef- Oh, wait, of course she has. The New Guy is actually an extra-dimensional entity that implanted himself into everyone's memories because he has to be remembered to exist. They even did a Special Edition Title sequence that implanted the mysterious new guy.
  • Stargate SG-1: The episode "The Fifth Man" starts with SG-1 having to leave Jack and new member Lt. Tyler behind as they flee a bunch of Jaffa, when they get to the SGC and say that Tyler was injured Hammond says "who?" Tyler eventually comes clean that he's an alien who secretes a pheromone that makes one perceive them as a familiar (even if fictious) figure they have always known. Since he was running from their mutual enemies they let him go. In later episodes, they use the memory-altering compound to infiltrate enemy organizations.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • Possibly the first lampshaded use of this was during episode "Conundrum". The entire crew is hit with amnesia and forget their ranks. The executive officer, MacDuff, is someone the audience has never before met. Turns out he is an alien intruder, trying to trick the Enterprise into attacking the enemies of his species. Interestingly, the direction for the episode doesn't go out of its way to present him as a "new guy"; there's no closeup shot with ominous music or anything when we first see him. If you had never seen TNG before, you might not know there was anything special about him at all. Even regular fans might think he's just some random helmsman or other officer, until the crew manifest is recovered.
    • Played with in Tasha Yar during the Alternate Timeline in Yesterday's Enterprise, where she insists she's always been good friends with Guinan. Guinan, of course, never met Tasha and thanks to her species's Ripple Effect-Proof Memory, instinctively knows this is untrue.
  • Quite a clever inverted example appears in Star Trek: Voyager when the EMH finds evidence of crew member Ahni Jetal who he cannot remember ever being on Voyager. It turns out that his memories of her were deleted when he failed to save her life, an event too traumatic for his programming to take. Considering that she really had never appeared on the show before, a possible reading is that the entire series up until that point reflects the EMH's edited memories, and Jetal could have been around and involved in major plot points.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • In season three, various alterations to the timeline result in (among other things) Barry having a new co-worker at Central City forensics. Barry is the only one with Ripple Effect-Proof Memory, so only he finds this odd.
    Barry: How have I been working with this guy for a year?
    Joe: You say that all the time.
    Barry: I'm sure I do!
    • When Professor Stein visits during the "Invasion" crossover, he discovers that, due to advice he gave his past self on his own show, he has a fully-grown daughter with an entire life story he doesn't remember.

    Video Games 
  • Invoked and lampshaded in Fire Emblem Fates. Hidden Truths reveals that Anankos's good side had actually given false backstories to Inigo, Severa, and Owain when he took them to his world. Since their backstories involve them having earned enough of a reputation in the world to serve the royal family, it's implied that Anankos possibly warped peoples' memories around to account for their presence in the world. Xander, however, points out in his C support with Laslow that he does find it odd that he has never even heard of Laslow before he was appointed as his retainer, but he will not question the results.
    • Niles provides an additional lampshade in his supports with Selena, pointing out that they may as well have appeared out of thin air before they started serving the Nohrian royal family.
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Sora is subject to Castle Oblivion's memory-altering shenanigans, and as he slowly loses some memories, others that he had forgotten come back to him. Through this, he's reminded of his one-time friend Namine, and as time goes on, he speaks of Namine more and more, even though she did not appear in his hometown in the first Kingdom Hearts and was never mentioned previously. Eventually, he manages to completely forget about his actual childhood friend Kairi, whom Namine seems to have supplanted in his memories... and there's actually good excuse for all this! He didn't really know Namine when he was younger, and the Castle's supposed powers were a ruse; Namine was being coerced by Organization XIII into using her unique ability to tamper with Sora's memories in order to serve their own interests. Also justified in that Namine practically is Kairi.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic parodied this trope in his review of The Smurfs 2, in reaction to the film playing this straight with Hackus and Vecky. Just after the Critic comments on Hackus and Vecky, we cut to an outlandish pink-top-hat-wearing character, called Bill, with whom the Critic keeps interacting throughout the episode as though he was part of the regular cast.
    • This review was part of his 'Sequel Month' series. In his conclusion for Sequel Month, the Critic mentioned that, in the end, this sequel month, just like the bad sequels themselves, had brought the viewers nothing new. Cue viewers complaining that it has. The Critic answers: "What, Bill? He's always been here!"

    Western Animation 
  • This was going to be one of the main points of the failed Buffy the Vampire Slayer animated spinoff. The show would retell the Scooby Gang's high-school years, with the addition of Dawn Summers, who was intentionally retconned into the fifth season of the show as a plot point, but had not appeared prior to that. Unfortunately, the show was never made.
  • The "Total Rickall" episode of Rick and Morty is an elaborate Deconstructive Parody of the trope, featuring tons of never-before-seen characters whom our protagonists insist have always been on the show, but only because they've been conditioned to think so via telepathy; the new characters are actually a species of shapeshifting parasites who can implant Fake Memories in their hosts, convincing the hosts that the parasites are long-time friends who have always been around. Rick and the gang eventually figure out how to tell a parasite masquerading as a friend from an actual friend: the parasites can only create happy, pleasant memories, whereas real relationships generally contain a mix of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. And then that idea is deconstructed when the gang starts killing everyone in the room that they have no negative memories of and end up seriously wounding a real friend [[noteWho is a straight example of this trope, unseen by the audience until this episode by mistake, whom the cast had only one negative memory of before it got overridden by one of the parasites.]]
  • In Season 5 of The Adventures of Puss in Boots, the episode "The Iceman Melteth" suddenly features a new orphan, Li'l Pequena, who appears in five episodes before "Remember Me Not" reveals she's a fairy who can implant Fake Memories, and an agent (or, as it turns out in the season finale, mind-controlled slave) of the Blind King. Dulcinea grows suspicious when she realises Toby's pictures don't include her, and we see her altering Puss's memories so that she was the first person he met in San Lorenzo, and Dulcinea's so that she'd been popping up all through the series insisting they were best friends. And when that doesn't work, she alters everyone's memories to believe Dulcinea is a monster from the Netherworld...