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Stealth Sequel
When a Sequel or Prequel to a work isn't actually stated or advertised as a sequel/prequel. At first, it looks like a Spiritual Successor, Continuity Reboot, Alternate Universe, or some other closely related universe tie-in but it turns out to be a direct sequel. This might just be hinted at, or expressed outright near the end. Canon Welding often uses this to tie multiple formerly independent franchises together. The work may have a Recycled Title. See also Broad Strokes.

As you might guess, there will be SPOILERS.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Rozen Maiden Tale started out as a What If? manga that shows what would happen if Jun decided not to wind. Then the story transitioned into where the original continuity left off.
  • Devilman Lady at first seems like an Alternate Continuity retelling of Devilman with a Genderflipped protagonist, but it is revealed late in the story that the events of the original Devilman and Violence Jack are canon, but nobody remembers this thanks to a Cosmic Retcon that rebooted history. Devilman himself even makes an appearance to explain this to Jun.
  • ∀ Gundam takes this a step further: though in-story it doesn't state that much, it's out-and-out obvious that the Black History is comprised of the events of all previous Gundam shows. Official material draws the timelines as parallel lines with individual events of all the other Gundam series until finally merging to form the Correct Century (Turn A's universe) circle (Fridge Logic meaning it will never proceed any further) meaning Turn A is the Sequel to all of them because it has the power to merge timelines.
  • Mai-Otome in the beginning seemed like a spin-off series and Transplanted Character Series to Mai-HiME, only with Magical Girls instead of Mons. But as the story progressed, maddeningly vague hints began insinuating that Otome is in fact set in a far future of HiME, and that the Otome and SLAVES themselves descendant technology of the HiME and Orphans.
  • For most of its run Stitch! seemed like an Alternate Universe to Lilo & Stitch, where Stitch landed in Japan instead of America. However in the fourth season it was revealed that it takes place after a Time Skip. Lilo pops up as an adult with her identical looking five year old daughter in tow.
  • While not advertised as such, UQ Holder makes it obvious in literally the first couple pages that it's a sequel to Mahou Sensei Negima!. This is likely because Negima was ended by an especially bad case of Executive Meddling.
  • Blood-C at first appears to be unrelated to Blood: The Last Vampire but is later revealed to be a sequel.
  • Accel World is set in the far future of Sword Art Online. Although this is known to most fans of the author, it's not obvious until a later episode of Accel World, where the main character directly reffers to the main Virtual Reality of SAO.
  • Some fan theories think that Rebuild of Evangelion is this for the original Neon Genesis Evangelion series. But considering this is Evangelion we're talking about, there's not likely to be any way of knowing for sure until the end.
    • A popular theory is that everyone in the original series died eventually and that time is just cyclical.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland isn't too stealthy about it since Alice is older, but she starts off her adventure in nearly the same way as the original book. A viewer could assume it's a Hotter and Sexier version until a scene where, while Alice is struggling with changing size, the Dodo remarks, "You'd think she'd remember all of this from the first time."
  • The 2009 Star Trek film functions as both this and a reboot with Spock having arrived from the original timeline to provide continuity. The main stealth part comes from the fact that the movie is not a full reboot, but rather an Alternate Timeline, created by the Big Bad's accidental alteration of the past which generated a new, parallel space-time continuum that bypasses each of the preceding movies and shows except for one. It also offers a conclusion to the Federation's conflict with the Romulan Empire, which had been gradually developing for over 40 years since Star Trek: The Original Series. 8 years after Star Trek: Nemesis, just as the Federation is finally on the verge of peace with the Romulans, their home planet's star goes supernova and almost the entire species is wiped out.
    • In some foreign markets, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was released as The Voyage Home: Star Trek IV, with "The Voyage Home" written in larger letters than "Star Trek IV". They were downplaying the fact that it was Star Trek film as Trek films were considered to perform badly overseas. There was also a prologue added (you can see it here) to explain the events of Star Trek III as it was felt that not enough people outside the U.S. had seen it.
  • Catwoman is a stealth sequel to the Batman films, notably, Batman Returns. Her origin is identical to the one played by Michelle Pfeiffer, the Catwoman persona is said to be a Legacy Character, and in the pictures of former "Catwomen", we see Michelle Pfeiffer's original character.
  • Basement Jack is a loose sequel to Evilution, the two film featuring the same old apartment building and creepy manager and his equally creepy display room of murderous artifacts, which he adds more weapons to at the end of both films (a vial of alien virus in Evilution, and the eponymous character's sword in Basement Jack).
  • At the end of Final Destination 5 two of the remaining survivors die in Flight 180, revealing the film to be a prequel to the first film.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom takes place before Raiders of the Lost Ark, and it's only indicated by the date at the beginning of the film.
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly takes place before the first two movies in the Dollars Trilogy.
  • The 1999 Disney film adaptation of My Favorite Martian features Ray Walston, the original "Uncle Martin", as a long-lost Martian named Neenert who's been stuck on Earth since 1966 (when the show was cancelled). An offhand comment mentions a highly confidential alien crash-landing that occurred in 1964 (a year after the show first aired). Add some Fridge Brilliance to this and Neenert could very well be the same "Uncle Martin" from the show.
    • Although this may really be a Mythology Gag, since Neenert utilizes a shape-shifting gum that alters the the appearance of the one consuming it, explaining why he looks human which wasn't something that he used in the original series. That is of course unless it was a Retcon.
  • Likewise with director Richard Donner's 1996 film Maverick. James Garner's character, "Zane Cooper," is revealed to be the father of Mel Gibson's Bret Maverick. Garner played "Bret Maverick" in the original TV series.
  • Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang. The only connection to the first movie is revealed at the very end, when a doddering old lady is revealed to be the baby of the first family all grown up.
  • The 21 Jump Street film is actually a sequel to the original TV series inducing Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome on Hanson and Penhall. Also, Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) turns out to be the son of the late Capt. Richard Jenko from the show's first season.
  • Charlie's Angels is implied to be a sequel to the show by having the same person play Charlie and by the sequel showing that these were not the first Angels. It is confirmed in Full Throttle when Jaclyn Smith reprises her role as Kelly Garrett.
  • A number of people really didn't expect Paranormal Activity 2 to be a direct prequel to the first film which only explicitly states that it is in the first 14 minutes. It later transitions into a sequel at the end which shows what immediately happened after the events of Paranormal Activity.
  • Mission: Impossible is a sequel to the original series because it features the original protagonist in a senior role.
  • The Scooby-Doo live-action movie takes place after the original series, as most of those villains re-appear in the sequel.
  • The version of Shaft played by Samuel L. Jackson is the original Shaft's nephew.
  • Viewers are lead to believe that the events of Saw IV take place after the events of Saw III. It isn't until the final few minutes that it is revealed that the events of both films were actually taking place at the exact same time.
  • Inverted by Prometheus, which fans of the Alien films wanted to be a direct prequel but turned out to be more of a side story.
  • Lots of weird behind-the-scenes drama resulted in Savage Vengeance being this to I Spit on Your Grave.
  • The Thing (2011) was advertised like a remake of The Thing (1982), but ultimately turned out to be a prequel.

    Literature 
  • If you did not pay attention, you may not have noticed that Jonas from The Giver makes an appearance in Gathering Blue, indicating that he's made it to Elsewhere (and that the latter takes place after the former).
  • Although Iain Banks' Surface Detail is set in the same universe as the other Culture novels, it only becomes apparent that it is a Distant Finale to Use of Weapons upon reading the very last word in the book.
  • Diana Wynne Jones' The Merlin Conspiracy is described on its own jacket blurb as being a stand-alone book, and its plot is not immediately familiar. However, reading further into it reveals that its main protagonist, Nick, is the same Nick from Jones' Deep Secret. However, while The Merlin Conspiracy is a young adult book, Deep Secret was written for a more adult audience.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 
  • Planetfall has a few references to Infocom's previous sci-fi work Starcross that imply that it is set within the same universe several centuries later. And a grue appears, implying it is in the Zork universe as well.
  • Narcolepsy by Adam Cadre isn't advertised as a sequel to Adam Cadre's previous work I-0, but it isn't long before you run across a place mentioned in the prior game. Also, I-0's protagonist Tracy Valencia makes a somewhat in-joky cameo.
  • Dinner with Andre by Liza Daly has a twist ending where the PC turns out to be the same character from Liza's previous IF work Bloodline several years later and sees someone she knows from that time.
  • Masquerade by Kathleen Fischer has a number of endings, one of them causing the game to become a prequel to her other work, The Cove.
  • Shadow Hearts wasn't advertised as a sequel to Koudelka, and indeed some people still claim that they don't have any real story links, despite the recurring theme of the Emigre Document, the villain impersonating a character from Koudelka, the real version of that character turning up later, Koudelka herself playing a significant role, Koudelka's son being a party member, and the last chapter of Shadow Hearts taking place in the monastery Koudelka was set in.
  • Shadow of the Colossus was a prequel to Ico, but you'd never realize until the very end. And even then you might not realize unless you were a big fan of Ico.
  • Captain Commando is a futuristic sequel to Final Fight. The game is set in Metro City, Ginzu the Ninja is Guy's future successor in the ways of the Bushin school, and a bust of Mike Haggar can be obtained as a power-up.
  • Dragon Quest III looks like a Continuity Reboot, but late in the game you find yourself on a very familiar world map, and the ending names you as the famed ancestor of the first two games' heroes.
    • Dragon Quest VI has thematic links to the other "Zenithian Trilogy" games (IV and V), but there are hints that it's actually a prequel.
  • Some things in the game hints that Hellsinker is this to Radio Zonde.
  • Snatcher, being the second game directed by Hideo Kojima following the original Metal Gear, features several references to his previous work. Most notably Gillian Seed's robotic sidekick, who was modeled by his creator after the "Metal Gear menace from the late 20th century." Other references include Junker chief Benson Cunningham being a former FOX-HOUND strategist and the head of the Snatcher project being none other than Dr. Pettrovich Madnar, the creator of the original Metal Gear. However, numerous inconsistencies introduced in later Metal Gear sequels has made the series hard to fit into the Snatcher continuity anymore.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert was revealed to be a prequel to the Tiberium series when Kane appears at the end of the Soviet campaign, revealing himself as the mastermind of the war. This is somewhat complicated by the rather odd nature of the series timeline, but at least within Red Alert itself, it works.
  • The sci-fi FPS series Marathon takes place in the far future of the horror-adventure-FPS Pathways Into Darkness; the Jjaro and W'rkncacnter play a key role in both, and some even theorize that the protagonist of Marathon is literally Pathways's hero rebuilt as a cyborg. There's also a theory that, given the Theme Naming in place, Halo is also part of the same universenote , though this seems to have become far less likely since the franchise's change in ownership.
  • The Persona series is implied to take place after Shin Megami Tensei If..., due to the appearance of If's female protagonist in the first two (well, technically three) Persona games.
  • Bioshock Infinite has story-wise no connection with the earlier games whatsoever for most of the game, until at the very end it's revealed to be a prequel/sequel/taking place on an alternate timeline when the player character is teleported to Rapture, the setting of the first two games.
    • The Burial At Sea DLC affirms this trope further, alternating between timelines of both the main campaign but also of the first Bioshock.
  • Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 are implied to be a prequel to Final Fantasy VII, taking place centuries, or maybe even millenia, before VII, with the suggestion that Shinra from X-2 is a far off ancestor of President Shinra and Rufus.
  • The Bally/Williams game Blaster is suggested to be a sequel to Robotron 2084. The arcade games attract mode mentions something about the Robotrons having destroyed humanity. Given this much, it indicates that the player ultimately failed in their mission (or just ran out of quarters, the game got too fast, or the player got tired of playing. It would have to be one of these since games of this era had no ending except for you losing all of your lives). Incidentally, according to Electronic Games magazine, Robotron 2084 was a sequel to Defender and Defender II.
  • The hero of Wolfenstein 3D, BJ Blazkowicz, is revealed to be the grandfather of Commander Keen in the hint book for the former. There's also a persistent theory that the protagonist of Doom is also a descendant of BJ; the mobile RPGs go with this, where the final boss of Wolfenstein RPG is the Cyberdemon minus cybernetic parts (complete with those parts being destroyed when you defeat it) and the protagonist of Doom RPG is given the name "Stan Blazkowicz".
  • Project X Zone is this to Namco Capcom, especially (and pragmatically) in areas that never got Namco X Capcom. It's no secret in-game, though, just outside of it.
  • Tales of Symphonia turns out to be set in the same world as Tales of Phantasia. Just... back when it was two worlds instead of one.
  • When Ciel nosurge, the first game in the Surge Concerto series, came out, it was believed to be a Spiritual Successor to Ar tonelico. Then Ar nosurge came and confirmed Surge Concerto to be a prequel series.
  • Nier is a unusual example: It is hinted to be a sequel to Ending E of Drakengard, which in turn already had an official sequel based on Ending A. Thus, Nier is an alternate timeline to Drakengard 2.

    Web Comics 
  • For quite a long time, Black Ops Civil Service webcomic Skin Horse by Jeff Wells and Shaenon Garrity looked to be the spiritual successor to Garrity's earlier Mad Science comic Narbonic, but readers suspected it was actually a sequel. It was three and a half years before the connection was officially made. The actual degree of continued story is pretty marginal, but Word of God confirms the connection was planned from the beginning and not just Ascended Fanon.

    Web Original 
  • After the events of To Boldly Flee, The Nostalgia Critic series ended with the titular character Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence and Doug Walker decided to go on to film new content, including a show called Demo Reel. When the latter proved to be mostly unsuccessful, and Doug decided that he wasn't done with the critic just yet, he made an episode where it was revealed that something went wrong with the Critic's ascent and he ended up being trapped in purgatory as Donnie DuPre, the main character of Demo Reel.

    Western Animation 

Spiritual SuccessorDerivative WorksStillborn Franchise
Sequel SeriesSequelStillborn Franchise

alternative title(s): Stealth Prequel
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