->''"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..."''
-->-- ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'' opening text

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 TheReveal 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 events are more exciting, and more detailed than your average [[{{Backstory}} 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 GreatOffscreenWar and HowDadMetMom. Not to be confused with WhereItAllBegan, which entails returning to a familiar place for the finale (though they can overlap if TimeTravel is involved, specifically in cases of SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong).


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''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 [[spoiler: 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 [[spoiler: describing first his final battle with Madara, then flashing back to their childhood and the [[CrapsackWorld wartorn]] [[ForeverWar world]] both had to grow up in.]]
** And still another when the Sage of the Six Paths [[spoiler:explains how he created the Tailed Beasts and the very concept of Ninja, along with the origin of the feud between the Senju and Uchiha clans that drove so much of the story]].
* ''Anime/TheBigO'': The disaster forty years earlier that destroyed civilization and caused universal amnesia in the inhabitants of Paradigm City.
* In ''Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion'', the [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt Second Impact]].
* ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'': "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.
* ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'': The curse of Oyashiro-sama. Either the first death five years prior to the story or Satoshi's disappearance one year prior.
* ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'': [[spoiler: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.]]
* ''Manga/DragonBall'' has several of these: the arrival of a lone Namekian on Earth, the genocide of the Saiyans, and the arrival of a lone Saiyan infant on Earth.
* ''Manga/NabariNoOu'': The "incident ten years ago", when the [[RealityWarper Shinrabanshou]] was used.
* The execution of Gold Roger, triggering ''OnePiece'''s great age of piracy.
* In ''Anime/CodeGeass'', the invasion of Japan, and the attack on Lelouch's family.
* In ''Anime/DennouCoil'', there are three of these, five years ago, four years ago, and one year ago.
* In ''Manga/{{Inuyasha}}'' everything happened because of events from 50 years ago.
* In ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', 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 ''LightNovel/{{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 [[WhoWantsToLiveForever 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.
* In ''Manga/AssassinationClassroom'', [[spoiler: Yanagisawa/Shirou's experiments on anti-matter, with the original God of Death as a human test subject. The modifications to his body, and the influence of Aguri Yukimura, Class E's original teacher, would lead to him becoming the super-being teacher that is Koro-sensei who would teach Class E in Aguri's place after her death. The experiments also resulted in the partial destruction of the moon that Koro-sensei took credit for.]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/BlackMagick'' #6 is a one-shot that tells the story of Rowan becoming a full witch, how that affected her, and shows how long the [[spoiler:council of demons shown in issue #5 have been manipulating her]].

* The heist in ''Film/ReservoirDogs''.
* The oft-alluded-to discovery of warp flight and how it started the brand-new era of space travel in the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' verse, actually becomes the setting of the not-quite prequel ''Film/StarTrekFirstContact''. That movie also uses the first attempted Borg invasion as a second kind of backstory.
** ''[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries The Original Series]]'' episode "[[Recap/StarTrekS1E22SpaceSeed Space Seed]]" was the WhenItAllBegan for ''[[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan Wrath of Khan]]''.
* ''Film/{{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.

* In ''Literature/DragonBones'', an ancestor of the protagonist killed a dragon. He ''really'' shouldn't have done that. Three protagonist meet in a the cave where the eponymous dragon bones, the skeleton of a dragon who was ''obviously'' killed (it is in chains) are located. While there is some political conflict, the plot itself is fueled by the dragon bones, alone.
* ''Literature/TreasureIsland'': Captain Flint buried his treasure on the island.
* From ''Literature/HarryPotter'', 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 ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''.
** 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.
* The main characters in ''Literature/EdenGreen'' would never have been infected with an alien needle symbiote if Patient Zero, Tedrin, hadn't been attacked and infected a year beforehand.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheDukesOfHazzard'': 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.
* [[spoiler:The nuclear holocaust of Old Earth]] in ''Series/BattlestarGalactica2003''.
* ''Series/EarthFinalConflict'' begins three years ''after'' the arrival of the Taelons.
* Khitomer in ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', as it had a profound effect on many of the characters, and the empires themselves.
* The Cardassian occupation of Bajor in ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine''. 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 ''Series/DoctorWho''.
** 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!"
* ''Series/WarOfTheWorlds'' (1988-1990) took place 35 years after the Martian invasion depicted in the 1953 George Pal movie.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'' has this with the Unification War.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' has the meteor shower in the pilot, which brought Kal-El to Earth, baldness to Lex, and increasingly ridiculous superpowers to numerous civilians.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'''s antepenultimate episode, "Across the Sea," was a WholeEpisodeFlashback 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.
* ''Series/KamenRiderDouble'':
** The "[[GratuitousEnglish Begins Night]]", the case in which Shotaro [[MyGreatestFailure 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 [[AppliedPhlebotinum Gaia]] [[TransformationTrinket Memories]]. They actually use the term as a shorthand for this trope later on; when they meet [[SixthRanger 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. [[MentorArchetype Narumi]]'s Begins Night was when he first encountered the Dopants and was given his Driver and Gaia Memory from Shroud, while [[SuperSoldier Daido]] gets two. The first is when he dies and is the first subject of the [[BackFromTheDead NEVER experiment]] and the second is when he went to Island S where his mind practically unravels. As for Phillip, well, [[spoiler: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 ''Series/{{Merlin 2008}}'', Queen Ygraine cannot concieve and so King Uther makes a deal with the enchantress Nimueh to provide him with a son. Unbeknownst to him, [[BalancingDeathsBooks someone must die in order for a life to be created]], and it ends up being Ygraine's. Thus, the future KingArthur 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.
* The Nora Allen murder case is the main driving mystery for most of ''Series/TheFlash2014'' Season 1. [[spoiler:Eobard Thawne the Reverse-Flash travelled back in time to murder young Barry Allen. Fortunately, Barry Allen of the future/The Flash was right in his heels, and thwarted Thawne. Thawne decided to take Nora's life as consolation instead. Thawne learns too late that his skirmish with the Flash caused him to lose his connection to the Speed Force, leaving him TrappedInThePast, setting off most of the events of the Season.]] That's not the end of it, as Season 2 ended with [[spoiler:Barry travelling back in time to stop Thawne from murdering Nora, which created the alternate reality ''Flashpoint'', which then led to further problems in the ''next'' season.]]
** The Particle Accelerator "accident" in Season 1 is also a byproduct of the aforementioned murder mystery, but it has its own merits as the reason for the rise of superpowers in the whole ''Series/{{Arrowverse}}'' franchise. Most of the villains in Season 1 are transformed by the accident, but it is revisited when a few new villains in ''The Flash'' have also been victims of the accelerator: Sam Scudder (Season 3), Amunet Black and Clifford [=Devoe=] (both from Season 4).

* In Music/TheProtomen, Act II, the {{prequel}}, details how Dr. Wily took over, setting up the events of Act I.

* Just about everything in ''Toys/{{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.
** "[[GreatOffscreenWar The Core War]]", when Spherus Magna was destroyed, which lead to the creation of the Matoran Universe. Happened 100,000 years prior.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Although it's not really apparent until the end of the series, pretty much ''everything'' that happens in the ''Franchise/MetalGear'' universe has its roots in [[spoiler:August 1964, the Virtuous Mission which sparked Operation Snake Eater and led to the creation of the Patriots]], as shown in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3'', chronologically the first game. The best example? The Boss's last wish: [[spoiler: a unified world]]. Big Boss's and Zero's differing interpretations of that wish and how to fulfill it lead to almost everything that happens in the rest of the series, including the creation of Outer Heaven and the creation of [[spoiler: [[NebulousEvilOrganization the Patriots]]]], which leads directly to the events of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2'' and ''[[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4 4]]''.
%% ** The formation of The Philosophers in the ''Franchise/MetalGear'' franchise.
* ''VideoGame/GhostTrick'' has the incident in Temsik Park 10 years ago. [[spoiler:Lynne was taken hostage by Yomiel, who was fleeing Detective Jowd. Yomiel died from a Temsik shard to the back, but gained ghost tricks and an immortal, undead body. After [[GoMadFromTheIsolation sinking into darkness due to his isolation from humanity]], he set out to take his revenge on everyone involved, causing the deadly events of the game.]]
* ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'': [[LightNovel/FateZero The last Holy Grail War 10 years ago]], especially its final battle.
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'':
** What happened in Nibelheim five years prior to the events of the game in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII''.
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'', the Sorceress' War, 18 years before the game takes place, sets off the events of the game, though due to TimeTravel, the beginning point is itself affected during gameplay.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' has the 13 days prior to the start of the game in flashbacks throughout the main game, which manages to link all of the main characters to the plot by way of a single event.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'': [[spoiler:After the final boss, Demise, is defeated, he casts a curse on Link and Zelda, insinuating that anyone like them will be chased forever by "an incarnation of his hatred". This explains how Ganondorf keeps on coming back in later games, since ''Skyward Sword'' takes place before all the the other games including ''Ocarina of Time''.]]
** There also are some details about the genesis of the world that would eventually become Hyrule in ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword Skyward Sword]]'', ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime Ocarina of Time]]'', and later expended in the ''Hyrule Historia'' book. The world was created by the three goddesses Din, Nayru and Farore. When they left, a golden artifact called the Triforce appeared, symbolizing their powers (respectively Force, Wisdom and Courage) [[spoiler:which was left under the custody of the goddess Hylia. She protected the Triforce from numerous evil creatures including Demise the Avatar of Nothingness. Unable to totally defeat him (he was at most momentarily sealed) she decided to use the Triforce to do so, but her status of goddess forbade her to directly use it. She decided then to renounce her goddess status and reborned as a human (who would eventually be named Zelda) on Skyloft, a floating island keeping the humans safe from the ravages on the war going on land. The warrior Impa from the Sheikah clan was given the task to protect the Triforce in the absence of Hylia as well as the fragile human child she would become.]] Then ''Skyward Sword'' begins...
* Almost all the events of the ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' games can be traced to Revan and Malak leading roughly half of the Jedi to fight in the Mandalorian Wars. And much of that can be narrowed down to the Battle of Malachor V, especially in the sequel.
%% ** In the first game, Bastilla's defeat of Revan.
* ''VideoGame/{{Bastion}}''[='=]s Calamity [[FramingDevice happens just before the game]]. Rucks says it best;
-->'''Rucks:''' ''"A proper story's supposed to start at the beginnin'... this one ain't so simple."''
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' has Shepard's visions from the Prothean Beacon lead them to Ilos, the location of the underground base where the last Prothean scientists worked and ultimately sacrificed themselves to delay the Reaper invasion of Shepard's time.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' has Shepard return to Eden Prime, the location where they first had their vision.
* The events surrounding the death of Lord Indoril Nerevar several thousand years prior to the time the game takes place essentially establish the plot of ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind''. Throughout the game, the player can find RashomonStyle accounts from various parties which give conflicting reports of what happened there and who is to blame. [[CorruptChurch The Tribunal Temple]], the Dissident Priests, [[NobleSavage the Ashlanders]], [[BigBad Dagoth Ur]], [[PhysicalGod Vivec]], and [[TheChessmaster Azura]] all tell different stories. The actual truth is never revealed, leaving the player to make his or her own conclusions. All that is known for sure is that Nerevar was slain, the Tribunal and Dagoth Ur [[AGodAmI made themselves into gods]], and [[PowersThatBe Azura]] is not happy about it.
* ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' all started with the Keyblade War, warriors wielding Keyblades fought for the light with [[CosmicKeystone Kingdom Hearts]], but they ended up driving the light into the Realm of Darkness and fracturing the universe into hundreds of smaller worlds. The series has been one gigantic GambitPileup by the BigBad to forge the weapon that can unlock Kingdom Hearts for him.
** It's a little more complicated than that. As detailed in VideoGame/KingdomHeartsX, before the Keyblade War, five Unions of Keyblade wielders gathered Lux to drive off the coming darkness detailed in the Union's Foretellers' Books of Prophecy, given to them by their Master. As things escalated to the Keyblade War, Kingdom Hearts plunged into the Realm of Darkness, the X-Blade that could unlock Kingdom Hearts, and that all Keyblades were modeled after shattered into twenty pieces, seven light, and thirteen dark, and the world fell to the darkness. Light from those who survived the war recreated the worlds in their fractured form. Since then, BigBad Xehanort has been trying to reforge the X-Blade, first by attempting to balance [[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsBirthBySleep Ventus and Vanitas's hearts (originally Ventus's whole heart), and made a proto-X-Blade, which Aqua shattered.]] In [[VideoGame/KingdomHearts1 Kingdom Hearts, his Heartless, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, tried to reach Kingdom Hearts by drowning worlds in darkness.]] In [[KingdomHearts358DaysOver2 358/2 Days, his Nobody, Xemnas, tried to insert pieces of his heart into thirteen candidates, the Organization XIII,]] of which only 2 succeeded before Sora [[VideoGame/KingdomHeartsChainOfMemories brought that]] [[VideoGame/KingdomHearts2 crashing down.]] He's at it again, whole, Heartless, Nobody, and past self, with nine others as True/New Organization XIII in VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance. VideoGame/KingdomHearts3 may finally see him succeed in his goal. His reason? ForScience!
** To note is that Xehanort's Keyblade is also that same Master's Keyblade, passed down from master to apprentice until he got it. Embedded in that blade is the Master's Seeing Eye, which allowed him to see the future to write the aforementioned Books of Prophecy. On the last page is 'And on that land will the darkness triumph, and light expire.' We still don't know if this refers to the Keyblade War or the Dark Seeker Saga as a whole (Nomura already confirmed more games after ''3''.)
* In ''VideoGame/{{Robopon}} 2'', Cody witnesses the destruction of Baba Village in the past, which has been a mystery for the entire game.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ThatOneCase in nearly every ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' game is always the trigger of each installment's overarching plot, and is alluded to many, many times via "X years ago":
** The DL-6 incident, happening 15 years before [[VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney the first game]]. Defense attorney Gregory Edgeworth was shot dead in an elevator whose power had run out due to an earthquake in the courthouse. This scarred Miles Edgeworth, his son, and was the moment where he stopped wanting to be a lawyer and instead took the path of a prosecutor under Mandred von Karma's custody. [[spoiler:The most tragic thing is that von Karma was the killer.]] Misty Fey's subsequent disgrace and disappearance following the true killer failing to be convicted ruined the Fey clan's reputation and significantly affects Mia and Maya's backstories as well.
** The kidnapping of a kid in the backstory of ''Trials and Tribulations''. Terry Fawles abducted [[spoiler:Dahlia Hawthorne]] and wouldn't release her until Valerie (her sister) delivered a red diamond which was worth over one million dollars. Dahlia fell to a river and [[NeverFoundTheBody her body was never found]]. [[spoiler:Of course, Dahlia survived and proceeded to become the main villain of ''Trials and Tribulations'' with her long chain of murders. Even the kidnapping was a charade planned by her, Valerie and Fawles.]]
** The trial where Phoenix presented forged evidence and was subsequently disbarred 7 years prior to ''VisualNovel/ApolloJusticeAceAttorney''. It was Phoenix's CynicismCatalyst, and the beginning of [[spoiler:his 7-year-long gambit to take Kristoph Gavin, the man that made him present the evidence, to justice]].
** The KG-8 incident in ''[[VisualNovel/AceAttorneyInvestigationsMilesEdgeworth Investigations]]''. [[spoiler:Manny Coachen]] killed Cece Yew as he was told to by [[spoiler:the international smuggling ring]], which led to the creation of the Great Thief Yatagarasu and later [[spoiler:the murder of Kay's father]], which in turn prompted Kay to continue the Yatagarasu's legacy.
** The IS-7 incident was the trigger for the main series of games, being the case that [[spoiler:Gregory argued in court the day he was killed]], leading to DL-6.
** The UR-1 incident 8 years before ''[[VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyDualDestinies Dual Destinies]]''. [[spoiler:Metis Cykes, Athena's mother,]] was murdered because [[HeKnowsTooMuch she knew top secret information about her killer]], leading to the conviction of [[spoiler:Simon Blackquill]] and Athena's quest to [[spoiler:prove his innocence in court, which is accomplished in the final case]].
** The assassination of Khura'in's queen 23 years prior to the events of ''[[VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneySpiritOfJustice Spirit of Justice]]''. It led to the enactment of the Defense Culpability Act, a fiat by which lawyers who defended criminals [[FelonyMisdemeanor would be punished just the same as those criminals]], killing off nearly every defense attorney in the kingdom.

* ''{{Webcomic/Drive}}'': If it weren't for the fleeing pre-maker's actions, humanity wouldn't have gained access to the Ring Drive.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The extinction of the Air Nomads and the disappearance of the Avatar occurs 100 years before the beginning of ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender''.
* ''WesternAnimation/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 NiceJobBreakingItHero from Bob and a GoneHorriblyWrong from Dot kickstarted everything.
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' you could argue that there are two different events that mark the beginning. One would be the banishment of Princess Luna, and the other would be the Sonic Rainboom that sparked the discovery of the Mane 6 Cutie marks.
* In ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'', we have the fateful meeting of Kim and Ron the first day of Pre-K, and the equally eventful typo on a computer that resulted in them becoming world-saving heroes.