What was the start of all this?
When did the cogs of fate begin to turn?
Perhaps it is impossible to grasp that answer now
From deep within the flow of time...
A single very significant moment, related to the fate of every single main character, and driving the entire plot, that happened before the beginning of the story.
That event will probably be discussed, interpreted, viewed through flashbacks, and a The Reveal
might show its true meaning later. In cases where the characters have any way of interfering with the past, this event will be their target.
Since these these events are more exciting, and more detailed than your average background story
, they are frequently used as the setting for a Prequel
The lines "Everything started x years ago", or "It all began when..." are very likely to be uttered.
See also Great Offscreen War
. See also Where It All Began
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Anime & Manga
- Naruto, where the Fourth Hokage seals the Nine-Tailed Fox into a baby (Naruto) when the Fox attacked Konoha. The act cost the beloved Fourth Hokage his life, which becomes very significant later on. Later, we learn that The Fourth Hokage is actually Naruto's father, and that Naruto's mother was the previous host of the Nine-Tailed Fox. Chapters 500 - 504 (or more) depict the events of that night, from their perspective.
- We get another one from the First Hokage himself describing first his final battle with Madara, then flashing back to their childhood and the wartorn world both had to grow up in.
- The Big O: The disaster forty years earlier that destroyed civilization and caused universal amnesia in the inhabitants of Paradigm City.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, the Second Impact.
- Haruhi Suzumiya: "Three years ago", something paranormal happened, possibly the universe was created, or at least most of the main characters were retconned into existence. It's also a recurring time travel destination.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: The curse of Oyashiro-sama. Either the first death five years prior to the story or Satoshi's disappearance one year prior.
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni: The child from 18 years ago, the sin from six years ago, Battler abandoning his family 6 years ago, Beatrice dying 18 years ago, some of the children being born 18 years ago, etc.
- Dragon Ball has several of these, including the arrival of a lone Namekian on planet Earth and the destruction of the Saiyan homeworld.
- Also Goku being sent to Earth as an infant and losing his memories after hitting his head on a rock.
- Nabari No Ou: The "incident ten years ago", when the Shinrabanshou was used.
- The execution of Gold Roger, triggering One Piece's great age of piracy.
- In Code Geass, the invasion of Japan, and the attack on Lelouch's family.
- In Dennou Coil, there are three of these, five years ago, four years ago, and one year ago.
- In Inuyasha everything happened because of events from 50 years ago.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Edward and Alphonse's disastrous attempt at bringing their mother back to life through human transmutation, and the Ishvalan War, which takes place a little bit before the former incident.
- In Baccano!!, in 1711 aboard the Advena Avis, around thirty alchemists summon a 'demon' to grant them immortality. He gives it to them at no cost, tells them how to end it when they get tired of living, and gives one of them the secret to making the elixir that grants it to anyone who drinks it. Mass murder ensues.
- The heist in Reservoir Dogs.
- The oft-alluded-to discovery of warp flight and how it started the brand-new era of space travel in the Star Trek verse, actually becomes the setting of the not-quite prequel Star Trek: First Contact. That movie also uses the first attempted Borg invasion as a second kind of backstory.
- Avatar starts with a narration by Jake Sully explaining how he wound up on Pandora. His twin brother Tom was supposed to go on an expedition to the planet, except he died in a grocery store robbery beforehand. The mortician who burns his body at the start of the film recommends as he does so that Jake go to Pandora himself for a fresh start.
- Treasure Island: Captain Flint buried his treasure on the island.
- From Harry Potter, The first war with Voldemort, particularly the death of the Potter parents, Harry's marking, and Voldemorts downfall, all in a single scene.
- Robert's Rebellion from A Song of Ice and Fire.
- And, for many characters, the tourney at Harrenhal in the year of the false Spring. The events that transpired over these three days led directly to the beginning of Robert's Rebellion.
Live Action TV
- The Dukes of Hazzard: The seventh-season premiere of the series saw the Dukes and Cooter say, "Happy Birthday, General Lee." The episode establishes several key things that became part of the official series' bible. Set in 1976 (more than two years before the series' premiere), Bo and Luke, freshly placed on probation for illegal transportation of alcohol, purchase a banged-up Dodge Charger to compete in one of Boss Hogg's races; Daisy is a recent high school graduate who gets a job at Hogg's Boar's Nest. The General Lee, in its previous life, had been owned by a jewel thief and his girlfriend, who – after robbing a jewelry store – stash the booty in the dashboard, but then crash the car. Since the car's owner was in jail and forfeited it, Bo and Luke are able to purchase the car, soup it up and use it to foil every one of Boss' countless schemes.
- The nuclear holocaust of Old Earth in the revived Battlestar Galactica.
- Earth: Final Conflict begins three years after the arrival of the Taelons.
- Khitomer in Star Trek: The Next Generation, as it had a profound effect on many of the characters, and the empires themselves.
- The Cardassian occupation of Bajor in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Almost all the non-Starfleet characters participated and lived through it, and many of the Starfleet characters were involved as well.
- The Time War in the revived Doctor Who.
- Somewhat coyly alluded to in the twentieth anniversary special, ''The Five Doctors": "So you're going to go on the run from your own people, in a rackety old TARDIS?" "Why not, that's how it all started!"
- War of the Worlds (1988-1990) took place 35 years after the Martian invasion depicted in the 1953 George Pal movie.
- Firefly has this with the Unification War.
- LOST's antepenultimate episode, "Across the Sea," was a Whole Episode Flashback to the birth of Jacob and the Man in Black, revealing how they came to be who they are, which set in motion events continuing 2000 years into the future.
- Kamen Rider Double has the "Begins Night", the case in which Shotaro accidentally caused the death of his mentor, met his future partner Philip, and became Kamen Rider Double for the first time; it also qualifies for Philip because it marks the point where he starts taking responsibility for helping make Gaia Memories. They actually use the term as a shorthand for this trope later on; when they meet Ryu Terui, Philip comments that the murder of his family was his own personal Begins Night.
- Almost all the Double characters had their "Begins Nights", the events that make them the person/rider/monster they are. Narumi's Begins Night was when he first encountered the Dopants and was given his Driver and Gaia Memory from Shroud, while Daido gets two. The first is when he dies and is the first subject of the NEVER experiment and the second is when he went to Island S where his mind practically unravels. As for Phillip, well, his began the moment he fell into the Gaia Memory well, while his mother's began when she protested at her husband wanting to use Phillip to make Gaia Memories. The murderer of Ryu's family's night began when said mother gives him a Gaia Memory.
- In Merlin, Queen Ygraine cannot concieve and so King Uther makes a deal with the enchantress Nimueh to provide him with a son. Unbeknownst to him, someone must die in order for a life to be created, and it ends up being Ygraine's. Thus, the future King Arthur is born, and a grief/guilt-stricken Uther imposes a ban upon all magic in the realm, thus setting up the conflict for the entirety of the show: that Merlin cannot reveal his magic to anyone.
- In The Protomen, Act II, the prequel, details how Dr. Wily took over, setting up the events of Act I.
- Just about everything in BIONICLE can be traced back to either one of these two events:
- "The Great Cataclysm", when The Makuta cast Mata Nui into a deep slumber. Happened 1,000 years prior to the beginning of the story.
- "The Core War", when Spherus Magna was destroyed, which lead to the creation of the Matoran Universe. Happened 100,000 years prior.
- Drive: If it weren't for the fleeing pre-maker's actions, humanity wouldn't have gained access to the Ring Drive.
- The extinction of the Air Nomads and the disappearance of the Avatar occurs 100 years before the beginning of Avatar: The Last Airbender .
- ReBoot season 4 gave several flashbacks to before the series began. These explained the origins of Megabyte and Hexadecimal and how the main characters were involved in it. A mix of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero from Bob and a Gone Horribly Wrong from Dot kickstarted everything.