What do you mean, "Larry wasn't always in the show?"
"A new character is brought in without warning, and everyone acts like we've always known him. It's actually quite perplexing. Valve has done a great job making us empathize with all the major NPCs so far, so being introduced to a new one at this late stage is like coming home from school to find a walrus sitting at the family dinner table and you're the only one who seems to notice."
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.
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
If the character is going to be killed off straight away
, this trope can be used to turn him into a Mauve Shirt
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
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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.
- 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.
- 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 of 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 heard of until later) that explains his presence, his sudden appearance still comes a bit out of left field even with the proper context.
- Dr. Gero from Dragon Ball 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 Androids 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 the main characters with a hidden camera and collecting cells of them for creating 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.
- 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".
- 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, 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 doesn't remember him at first, despite ruining his life.
- In Lucky Star, when the cast starts their senior year, Kagami is approached by Misao and Ayano (two as of yet unseen characters), 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.
- Most good characters from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S have met the characters from previous season before.
- Inverted with Corona Timil from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid, who is Vivio's longest friend. 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 Striker S and Force.
- Naruto: Naruto already knows the members of Team 8 and 10 and is later shown interacting with some of them in flashbacks for 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.
- Serena in Pokémon is evidently 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.
- It's later shown she was not nearly as major a friend as we're lead to believe. She met Ash one day at summer camp and she clung to that memory, which explains why he doesn't remember her.
- The Pretty Cure All Stars movies inflict this whenever extra Cures show up between the last movie and the current ones. New Stage 2 and New Stage 3'' use this as plot points.
- 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! 5Ds 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 in 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.
Comics — Books
- Similar to the show; Dulcy the Dragon was fitted into Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog 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 not even those most recently. From "remember" to "forgotten"?
- 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 a bit 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.
- 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.
- DC Comics' Black Lightning has recently acquired two never-before-mentioned teenage daughters. It's worse: one daughter was introduced in a semi-believable way, and at the time you could see him being a real father to her because he was retired at the time. But years later another daughter surfaces out of nowhere.
- 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 2. 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 series...so 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.
- 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.
- This trope was the favorite approach of Carl Barks when introducing new characters in the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, and several of his sucessors 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.
- 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.
- Trick Shot, the man who taught Hawkeye 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.
- When the Iron Man series was rebooted following Avengers Disassembled with Warren Ellis at the helm, suddenly Tony had a 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.
- 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 of the X-Men. 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.
- The Spider-Man limited series 'The Thousand' introduced another of Peter Parker's classmates who was there during the spider-bite incident. Unfortunately this was 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.
- 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.
- Played straight in 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.
- 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.
- Black Panther's little sister Shuri was introduced as a young woman in a 2005 issue of the series, but was stated to have always been there, even though we'd never seen or heard of her before.
- 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 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 2 (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 40's era villain.
- The Blue Marvel was introduced as a black Silver Age superhero who was forced to retire due to the institutional racism of the 60's. He ended up coming out of his exile during the 21st century to help The Avengers battle his old nemesis.
- Carlie Cooper of Spider-Man infamy 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 "MarySue" from being associated with her.
- 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.
- 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 70's and 80's, but were established as having been active during the 40's. 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.
- 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:
Those bullies are being mean to Gary Stu
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.
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 a member of their gang when he was a stray, but Tramp is shown to be a loner during the original film.
- In the Direct-to-Video sequel to The Little Mermaid, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Films — Live-Action
- Frank Pentangelli in The Godfather 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.
- 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 III 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.
- In 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 a 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.)
- A popular fan theory is that the "little blonde lab technician" mentioned in the second pilot episode of the series that Kirk "almost married" is Carol Marcus.
- Similarly, in 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.
- 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.
- Considering Picard tried very hard to forget about his experiences as Locutus...
- The most egregious example is Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, as a replacement for Saavik.
- 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- Mara Jade, the "Emperor's Hand", Luke Skywalker's greatest nemesis aside from Darth Vader and Darth Sidious themselves and his future wife, was apparently shadowing Luke (with the intent to kill him due to brainwashing from Sidious) shortly after the events of The Empire Strikes Back and during some of the events of Return of the Jedi. She was in Jabba the Hutt's desert palace on Tatooine during the rescue of Han Solo, disguised as a dancing girl named "Arica" and watching from one of the catacombs as Luke battled the Rancor. She intended to help the Rancor kill Luke, but was distracted by a fight with some Gamorrean guards and returned to the scene too late to stop Luke from slaying the Rancor. Then she tried to gain a seat on Jabba's sail barge during the trip to the Great Pit of Carkoon; but as "Arica" was a mere dancing girl, Mara was excluded from the voyage. Of course, at no point during ROTJ do we ever see "Arica."
- In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series:
- The Roman Aspects were not mentioned at all in the original Quintet... however The Lost Hero justifes 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 of the Other Reindeer have no real character traits.
- 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.
- 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.
- Let's be honest here, who among us hasn't had to shoehorn a new PC into a party in some similar manner? "Oh, this is my 60-year-old dead wizard's twin brother, a 24-year-old barbarian. Yes indeed."
- 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 is may a case of textual corruption.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 but you have to wonder why every other audiolog in the second game mentions her while none in the original game do despite you visiting older areas in the sequel. Did Ryan completely Un-Person her?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 1. ED-E was built by Dr. Whitley, a previously unmentioned Enclave scientist at Adams Air Force Base from Fallout 3.
- Lampshaded in Final Fantasy X-2: Buddy was apparantly 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 being introduced in the second game only (though he does appear in the "Eternal Calm" prologue to the game).
- Five Nights at Freddy's' sequel introduces us to the closest thing the series has to an antagonist for the first time: the Marionette. 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 justifable 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.
- Dr. Arne Magnusson from Half-Life 2: Episode Two is 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.
- Same for Dr. Breen. Yes, the guy who's now controlling most of the Combine forces on the planet was your old administrator during your Black Mesa days. No, there's no evidence that you actually could have figured that out from beforehand.
- Half-Life does this a lot, due to the lack of nominal NPCs in the original game. Eli Vance was established to be the black scientist who asked Gordon to get topside and call for help immediately after the resonance cascade, and Dr. Kleiner and Barney are one of many identical character models suddenly given Nominal Importance (though Barney was at least introduced in Blue Shift, and Kleiner was mentioned in the game's manual as one of Gordon's college professors). Alyx, another new character, lampshades this in her introduction, telling the player that she's "sure you don't remember me", which is valid given that, even if there were any (non-Black Ops) women in the first game, she would have only been about one year old at the time anyway.
- 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 onwards, and were even originally planned to be included in 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, but then every bit of Halo media taking place before the original game featured them anyway (to the point that Halo: Contact Harvest had them as the second ever Covenant race humans have met and fought with, and Halo 3: ODST had them replacing the Elites that were actually on Earth at that point in time for no particular in-story reason), which resulted in the opposite effect of their lack of presence there being Early Installment Weirdness; a 2010 reprint of the novel 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 cousin species to 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 media taking place chronologically before the first game (like Halo Wars, for that matter). 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.
- Later, Halo: Nightfall introduced yet another new Covenant species, the Yonhet. In this case, 343 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.
- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories: DiZ's true identity as The Original Ansem comes out of somewhere outside of left field. No real explanation is given for this one; up until KH2, everyone refers to the Billy Zane guy as Ansem, including Mickey, who has no excuse for having forgotten about blond!Ansem. DiZ is not a bad character, as such, but would that he'd been foreshadowed a little!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 570 (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. It's especially odd with with the almost-obligatory remakes two or three gens later, where 200 or so extra Pokémon will just sort of appear out of nowhere without garnering any attention from anyone except the local Professor and the player themselves once they beat the Elite Four. It just sort of implies that the regions don't interact with each other a whole lot.
- The anime, on the other hand, has no such excuse, as 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, and even then the cameo'd species were presented as one-of-a-kind in the region). The only possible explanation is that there were efforts to introduce species from those regions into Kanto while Ash was out traveling, since he spent at most two days in Kanto in the six real-world years between leaving for the Orange Islands and coming back from Hoenn, but that doesn't exactly mesh well with certain other declarations about the passage of time in the series.
- In the 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.
- 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.
- 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 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, which few people played.
- 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.
- 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 games introduce a new batch of eggs despite the fact dragon ages only occur every twelve years.
- Blizzard again. Tychus Findlay was never even mentioned in the orginal 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.
- 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: Yoshis 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.
- In 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 now the leader of the entire Horde.
- When you speak to the time-traveling dragon Chromie in Dragonblight, she starts saying it's good to see you again before asking if it's the first time you've met. This is actually 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."
- Justified in Chromie's case, since Bronze Dragons have (had?) the ability to exist in every moment of time, and simultaneously in multiple locations. It's no wonder they can't always keep everything straight.
- Sergius from Xenosaga Episode 2. Despite Margulus being very loyal to him, he is not at all mentioned in the first episode.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 apparences, 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). Unfortunatly they never really mentioned him before (or since!) and by this point he'd been dead at least 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, considering he was never more than a friendly acquaintance to any main characters and that he still doesn't have a very major role in the plot.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Comics — Books
- 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 Comic Book/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.
- X-Men: Legacy had two examples.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Angel, Connor is given a whole new fake life at the end of the fourth season, with his own and almost everyone else's memories magically altered.
- 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. It's soon revealed that 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 shoehorn her into Buffy's life and ensure that she has the Slayer to protect her. It helps a bit that there were a few prophetic references to Dawn before her debut.
- The trope goes far enough that Dawn is referenced on the spin-off show she never appeared on.
- And she appears in comics 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. She was just kidding! 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 into the usual one.
- Stargate SG-1: The episode "The Fifth Man" started with SG-1 having to leave Jack and new member Lt. Tyler behind as they fled 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 altered their memories but since he was running from their mutual enemies they let him go. And in later episodes use the compound he used to infiltrate enemy organizations.
- Possibly the first lampshaded use of this was in one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation; the entire crew is hit with amnesia and forget their ranks. The executive officer 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.