When a series does an Art Shift
to an older presentation style
for Flashback Effects
to a time when it used this style. It may be in a work which has Art Evolution
, calling back to its own specific past
, or it may be a Affectionate Parody
of more general styles.
When you have characters in a flashback appear the way they look in the story's present time, making their latest appearance a Retcon
to the period of the flashback, it's Backported Development
See also Monochrome Past
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Anime and Manga
- In the Ah! My Goddess manga, when the story flashes back to the beginning, Belldandy's original design is remade using Fujishima's current drawing style.
- In the Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei OVA, the art style for the ending animation shifts to the author, Koji Kumeta's original art style.
- In Bleach, flashbacks are in general lifted straight from past chapters, making Kubo's Art Evolution all the more evident.
- Marvel Comics will often use a style which approximates the old four-color style when presenting flashbacks to the stories originally presented in the 1960s-80s, or new stories which take place in that time frame. Additionally the characters who were around then will frequently be drawn in the style of Jack Kirby, the artist who drew most of them at that time (or Steve Ditko if it's a Spider-Man story).
- The short Fanboy series drawn by Sergio AragonÚs featured several art styles appropriate to the particular character(s) and eras being referenced in the story. One particular one was the cycling of the different styles and moods of Batman from his beginning in the '30s to the '90s.
- In Supreme, all of Supreme's flashbacks to different eras feature era-appropriate art and storytelling. When harkening back to adventures that would have happened in the Golden or Silver age, he mentions how it seems so long ago and everything seemed so simple back then, accounting for the less detailed artwork and plain, no-nonsense dialogue.
- Done for the Legion of Super-Heroes' 30th anniversary in 1988 where old LSH artists were used in flashbacks to old stories. (The 25th anniversary is more famous for using old LSH artists in nostalgia segments, but these segments were not flashbacks, but alternate universes that diverged as of a particular era.)
- The issue of Stormwatch where old superheroine Jenny Sparks reveals her history as "The Spirit of the 20th Century" has her flashbacks of each era drawn (and lettered) in the style of major comics of said era, such as The Spirit, Dan Dare, and Watchmen for the flashback to The Eighties. In a later issue, Bad Boss Henry Bendix's flashback of when he first found Rose Tatoo (The Spirit of Murder) was drawn a la Jack Kirby.
- An issue of Secret Avengers had Black Widow travel back in time to save her teammates. One sequence set in the 1960s is told in an old newspaper serial format.
- In Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, the history of the Hand of Primus is drawn as a Marvel comic from the '80s.
- The 2005 Taiwanese movie Three Times had three stories set in different time periods, all about the relationships between two character who were always played by Shu Qi and Chang Chen. The middle segment, set in 1911, is styled as a silent movie, with title cards and no audible dialogue.
Live Action TV
- Pushing Daisies would do flashbacks to a sufficiently distant period (before the main characters' childhood) with the film style of that era.
- Cold Case went nuts with this. Their tribute episode to Rocky Horror Picture Show brilliantly parodied the movie's style, color scheme, and...distinct acting style.
- Charmed features an episode shortly before Phoebe and Cole's wedding where Phoebe puts on Gram's old wedding ring, only to discover that it is cursed. She ends up losing all her color and looking black and white, as if she was from a 50's tv show.
- One of the special features on the DVD of the Doctor Who serial "Revenge of the Cybermen" is a segment called "Cheques, Lies and Videotape", about Doctor Who fans' efforts to see older stories in the days before home videos were widely available. One aspect of this era it discusses is the degradation of videotape quality after several generations of copying, with 10th-generation (and beyond) copies being almost unwatchable, with some accompanying footage demonstrating this. Then the end credits for the segment briefly take on the appearance of one of these poor copies.
- The second panel of this 1995 Dilbert strip shows The Pointy-Haired Boss and Wally as they looked in 1990.
- Garfield meets his past self during his 25th anniversary special. He is drawn the way he was when the comic first started in 1978.
- A 1988 comic that celebrated his 10th birthday involves him and Jon going through their photo album and the photos are select panels from earlier strips.
- The flashback case in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney uses the first game's graphics and music.
- At one point in Discworld II: Missing Presumed..., Rincewind travels back in time to meet himself, just prior to the events of the first game. The past is an exact duplicate of the much more blocky sprites of the original.
- The same effect appears in The Curse of Monkey Island, where Guybrush can peep out of a hole into a location from the first game before being chased back by an unseen "pack of stunningly-rendered rabid jaguars".
- Making fun of the medium and being nostalgic about the previous games, the Metal Gear Solid series shows flashbacks and even photos of scenes from the previous games always rendered in the original game engine. In the 4th game, Sunny has a photo of her dead mother Olga, which is a screenshot from Metal Gear Solid 2.
- In MGS4, when retunrning to Shadow Moses Island, you start in the second area of MGS1 with the original game engine, before Snake wakes up from a dream as the helicopter is about to land.
- Much like Metal Gear Solid, there exists a Dummied Out picture in Silent Hill 3 of Heather standing next to her dad, Harry who is rendered in PS1 style (His actual in game model is a reskinned James).
- Invoked hilariously in Space Quest 4 where Roger ends up traveling back to the first game. The whole place is rendered in EGA coloring and style.
- The flashback dream sequence in Plok uses grayscale graphics, an old-fashioned font, piano music, and silent film-style title cards.
- For Call of Duty 4's flashback mission in Pripyat, the satellite overview is replaced with a traditional paper map. The in-game graphics are more desaturated than usual and have a sepia tint and grainy overlay.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Any mission set in the 1980s has the more traditional COD HUD.
- The mobile phone and Wii versions of Final Fantasy IV The After Years are rendered similarly to Final Fantasy VI... except the flashbacks, which are done with the same graphics as the original Final Fantasy IV. A portion of Porom's chapter is even played in such a flashback. Averted in the PSP version, which contains updated versions of both the original game and The After Years.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja did this when Gordito told the story of how his father died: the comic, which had recently begun using shades of grey in the art, used the old flat black/white style.
- Bob and George always presents the relevant timelines in that era's sprites (and occasionally backgrounds): "modern" day Mega Man is 16-bit, Flashback-era is 8-bit, and the far-flung future uses 32-bit Mega Man X sprites.
- In the commentaries for the The Order of the Stick print books, Rich Burlew has occasionally noted that going back to old styles (either for prequel segments, flashbacks, or bonus strips inserted into pre-Art Shift arcs) felt almost physically painful.
- Pretty much the entire point behind Attack Of The Super Wizards.
- Subverted in Adventurers: a flashback near the beginning of the final battle starts like this, but the character being narrated to complains.
- Occurs in this Penny Arcade strip, as a flashback to a wager about Duke Nukem Forever coming out. Done again in this strip concerning Tech Marches On. Tycho comments in The Rant: "In my my mind, they have always looked like the first two panels."
- In the Fans! arc "Full Circle," the main characters face off against earlier versions of themselves, drawn in the style Jason Waltrip used at the beginning of the comic.
- Whenever Red vs. Blue characters remember about something, it's shot in the same game as the season it happened in. For example, during Relocated when Sarge reminisces about all of the times Grif nearly died that were "worth it", it shifts from Halo to Halo2 and back to the (then current) Halo3.
- Parodied when Church is blast back in time. During these scenes, Rv B uses Bungie's older Marathon games.
- Homestar Runner has occasionally had flashback sequences that use the art styles of the original children's book that the characters came from, or some other early part of the series' history. There's also the 1936 universe, modeled on Depression-era animation, which crops up every now and then for historical segments.
- Hetaoni plays with this trope. In flashbacks, the earlier style of artwork reappears; in previous time loops, the newer style appears.
- On one House of Mouse short, flashbacks were done in black and white and with the characters drawn in the early-1930s circle-and-rubber-hose style.
- A flashback in What's New, Scooby-Doo? that shows why Velma is afraid of clowns is done in the art style of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.
- The Simpsons has used this trope more than once.
- At the end of "The Day the Violence Died," Animation studio head Roger Myers honours Lester and Eliza, who look like Bart and Lisa as they appeared in the earliest Tracey Ullman Show shorts.
- In "How I Wet Your Mother," Marge, Bart and Lisa enter one of Homer's dreams and encounter their early Tracey Ullman Show selves.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "A Friend in Deed", Cranky Doodle Donkey's flashback is rendered in the style of a silent film.
- During a Christmas Episode of Ultimate Spider-Man, Spidey and the Enforcers are drawn in the classic John Romita, Sr. style with webslinging scenes done up like Spider-Man (1967)