"Why are you so surprised? You have wandered in great circles across the planes in these countless lives you have lived. Such symmetry. Such futility. Go now, back to where it began. Go back, and die."
Your rookie hero has left his hometown to answer the call. He learns from his mentor, fights minions, develops some really flashy attacks, perhaps takes down The Dragon
, and angsts a lot. But now it's time to face the Big Bad
, and what better place to do it than back at his hometown, Where It All Began
Alternatively, Where It All Began
can be where the Big Bad
first struck. Sometimes this and the hero's home are one and the same
; that's why the hero was chosen
There's a certain poetic symmetry to the idea that the hero's journey is a circular one, and indeed, returning home for the final showdown is often referred to as "coming full circle." It also reminds the audience (and the hero, who may take a moment to reminisce
) how much the hero has grown since the last time we were here.
But most importantly, it means the producers get to use the old sets again.
Compare Here We Go Again
, Book Ends
, and Go Back to the Source
Not related to When It All Began
, that is a chronology trope.
This is an Ending Trope
, so Spoilers Ahoy
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Mortadelo y Filemón: In many stories where the heroes have to travel across the city or the world, the last chapter takes place on the T.I.A. headquarters, where they were assigned their mission.
Films — Animated
- Kung Fu Panda almost ended like this. The Wu Shi Finger Hold was still going to happen, only Po and Tai Lung would crash land in Po's bedroom, where Tai Lung would see all the Furious Five merchandise, and be confused- basically the script would not change aside from taking place in a different location. The writers moved the final confrontation to the outside, since that version did not make as much sense.
- Finding Nemo ends in the reef, with the characters doing the same things they did in the first scene, only differently, to reflect how the events of the film have changed them.
- Rock and Rule begins and ends in Ohmtown.
- The Lion King ends with Simba returning to the Pride Lands to defeat his uncle Scar and take his rightful place as king.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars:
- The first movie of the Original Trilogy, A New Hope, begins on Tatooine, and the last movie of the Prequels ends there, so that probably counts, if you look at the films in order of production rather than in terms of in-universe chronology. Of course, the fact remains that we end up going to this desert middle-of-nowhere in five out of the six movies means we keep going back to where it all began.
- It doesn't conclude the movie, but Luke returns to his home planet of Tatooine for Return of the Jedi.
Luke: I used to live here, you know.
Han: You're going to die here, you know. Convenient.
- Both versions of The Butterfly Effect. The original does it well when the main character goes back to the birthday party where he first met the love of his life and gets her to not want to see him again effectively erasing her from his life, but the director's cut takes it to the ultimate extreme where the main character commits suicide by strangling himself (in utero!)
- In a cruel twist of fate, the test subjects in Cube learn that the exit room was the very room they started out in, making their trek through the titular deathtrap dungeon a pointless waste of time and human life.
- The protagonist of 28 Days Later is introduced lying in a hospital bed and ends up in a similar setting towards the end of the film. The DVD commentary explains that it was deliberately done to invoke this trope (i.e., going full circle).
- James Bond film The Living Daylights begins in Gibraltar and after much business in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Afghanistan and Pakistan ends in Tangier, just three dozen miles southwest.
- Marty's destination in Back to the Future is to get back to where the movie started. We even get to see a scene from the beginning of the movie again at the end.
- The Hangover
- The Fugitive starts out at a hospital benefit at a swanky Chicago hotel, and ends at a similar conference at another one.
- The Secret Of Moonacre's climax takes place at the clifftop where the Moon Princess married Sir Wrolf Merryweather.
- The film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has its climax and ending in Arthur's home.
- Highlander ends with Connor returning with Brenda to Scotland, where he was born.
- The final fight of Hansel And Gretel Witch Hunters takes place right at the gingerbread house where the original story and the movie's prologue ended. The witch even uses the trope name when she comments on it. Hansel and Gretel react with an understandable "You've gotta be fucking kidding me."
- Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers: Loomis and Jamie set up a trap for Michael in Michael's childhood home, the place of his Start of Darkness.
- Highwaymen: In the opening, a Serial Killer named Fargo uses his car to run over the protagonist James Cray's wife. To spite Cray, Fargo kidnaps Molly, a lone victim whom Cray saved, and returns to the now abandoned motel (which Fargo bought in the intervening years) where he initially killed Cray's late wife to play the murder out again.
- Lord Of Illusions opens in the Cultists' compound in the Mojave desert before moving to Los Angeles, and the climax takes us back there when Nix is revived.
Live Action TV
- Cheers. The series begins with Sam coming out of the backroom and opening the bar. The series ends with Sam closing the bar and walking into the backroom.
- It has been revealed that the final goal of the heroes of LOST is to protect a magical light that is located in the same bamboo grove Jack awoke in in the first episode.
- The final scene of the series mirrors its beginning, with Jack lying down in the bamboo field. Only this time he closes his eyes as he dies.
- The Enterprise (NX-01) visits the planet Rigel in the last episode, just like they did in the first.
- The Next Generation not only had the same villain in the finale as they did in the first episode (Q), but they finished a story thread started in that episode, and through shifting timelines, we got to meet the Enterprise-D as it was in that episode, including the old crew.
- Picard and Q also face off in the same replica 22nd century courtroom that Q brought him to in that premiere episode. Picard even comments on this in the finale.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The first season centers around The Master attempting to open the Hellmouth. From then on, no seasonal Big Bad cared about the Hellmouth itself until the last one, who once again attempted to open it. The high school was even rebuilt on top of it at the beginning of the season, allowing the heroes to return there as well.
- Buffy also had one other Where It All Began with the same location; in the middle of the fourth season (making it pretty much halfway through the show's run, how appropriate), a trio of one-episode baddies tries to open the Hellmouth, necessitating a return to the ruins of the original high school. All of the characters comment on the memories, mostly painful, this evokes.
- Stargate SG-1:
- The season 6 finale "Full Circle" was originally envisioned as a series finale. The series was renewed, so the plot was altered. It still however featured a showdown between SG-1 and Anubis on Abydos, the planet where both the pilot episode took place, as well as the movie.
- "Moebius", which was also meant to be the series finale, revisited Ancient Egypt under Ra's rule, and Apophis's prison on Chulak from the pilot episode — the alternate timeline SG-1 even got to recruit Teal'c again.
- Also the climax of The Ark of Truth takes place in the City of the Ori, a place that Daniel and Vala visited early on in the ninth season. While not the start of the show itself, it was the start of the Ori storyline.
- Within the show's story, when the Jaffa kicked the Goa'uld's asses once and for all, the final battle took place on Dakara and they chose Dakara as the capital of their new country; for the express reason that it was also the place where they first became slaves. It was also a significant religious site like Mecca is to Muslims.
- The Prisoner finale
- The final showdown of The Fugitive takes place in Kimble's home town of Stafford, Illinois.
- Ghost Hunter begins with two cops talking about the abandoned high-school they're checking out. It ends with them in the same place, talking about how they're going to report what happened.
- Bryce's storyline on Chuck ended the second season finale Where It All Began in the pilot: jumping into an Intersect control room to implant a powerful computer in Chuck's brain to keep a Nebulous Evil Organization from doing it to their own people first.
- The series finale of Alias involves a return to Mount Subasio, which was last featured in the first season when it played a significant role in launching the series' Myth Arc.
- Kamen Rider Kuuga's Final Battle occurred at the mountain where the Grongi were originally sealed.
- The 20th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, "The Five Doctors," notes at the conclusion, after the newly-appointed president of Gallifrey—the Doctor—bug off in the TARDIS with Tegan and Turlough:
Tegan: You mean you're running away from your own people in a dilapitated old TARDIS?
Doctor: Why not? After all, that's how it all started.
- This seems to have happened in all 10th anniversary specials. "The Three Doctors" ends with the Doctor regaining his freedom to travel in time and space. In the 30th anniversary story for Doctor Who Magazine the First Doctor and Susan are shown leaving Gallifrey. The 40th anniversary story "Zagreus" from Big Finish Doctor Who has the Doctor again leaving Gallifrey, for new adventures in the Divergent Universe. For the 50th anniversary, "The Name of the Doctor" shows the Doctor leaving Gallifrey, while "The Day of the Doctor" reverses this with the Doctor departing to find Gallifrey and saying he has always been going "Home. The long way round." And in the story that started the 25th season "Remembrance of the Daleks" the Doctor returns to Totter's Yard and Coal Hill School where the series began. Also "The Day of the Doctor" begins with a Policeman walking past the Totter's Lane sign and Clara being a teacher at Coal Hill School like the Doctor's earliest new companions. Also a clock she passes at the beginning says 17:16, when the first episode aired.
- The RTD era of Doctor Who (2005-2010) basically began with the Doctor meeting Rose in the Powell estate in 2005. It ends roughly with the Doctor meeting Rose in the Powell Estate earlier in 2005, though only briefly to prevent her recognising him later.
- Amy Pond's time on the show began with her meeting the Doctor in her garden at the age of seven. At the end of her final episode, the Doctor goes back to meet the young Amy just after he left and she is shown waiting in the garden for him.
- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy's "Journey's End" ends with the inhabitants of space-station Terra Venture escaping from it to the planet Miranoi, where the Rangers escaped from in the premiere.
- The ending of Power Rangers RPM has Dillon revisit the lone flower he passed on the way to Corinth now part of a beautiful garden in a healing world.
- The final chord played in the song Octavarium by Dream Theater is the same as the first chord on the album. This is referenced by the final line "The story ends where it began."
- Sabaton's "1648" mentions that Prague was both where the Thirty Years' War started (in the Defenestration of Prague, which kicked off the war) and where its last battle was fought.
- The epic Dungeons & Dragons module Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil was written as a Spiritual Successor to - what else? - The Temple of Elemental Evil. The players visit a few of the locations in the original game there, including Homlett, Nulb, and the Moathouse, but very little happens in those places (except the Moathouse) and can even visit the infamous Temple if they want, but at first, it seems deserted. Most of the module takes place in another temple complex called the Temple of All Consumption. However, the finale of the adventure does indeed take the heroes back to the true Temple of Elemental Evil for one final titanic battle.
- In The Ring of the Nibelung, to save the world the Ring must be returned to the Rhine, from which its gold was stolen in the first scene of Das Rheingold. The final act of Götterdämmerung begins on the banks of that river, and though the scene moves away, the river ultimately moves back in as the Rhinemaidens recover the ring forged from the gold. Reprises of the earliest musical themes of Das Rheingold drive the point home.
- Also the second act of Das Rheingold showed Valhalla having just been constructed. The final scene also shows Valhalla being burnt down.
- Very popular in Bioware/Obsidian games:
- Baldur's Gate II: Irenicus returns to the place he first turned to evil, in order to finish what he started.
- Neverwinter Nights: You begin in the city of Neverwinter. The final areas take you back to the city with the Plot Coupons you've collected to open up the caverns below the castle of the city's ruler. In the Hordes of the Underdark expansion, the final battle takes place outside the Inn you woke up in at the start of the game.
- Neverwinter Nights 2: Zhjaeve takes the player to reforge the Silver Sword of the Githyanki where it was originally broken long before the game started: in West Harbor. Which also happens to be the place where the game started, and the player's Doomed Hometown.
- And again in Mask of the Betrayer, where the final level is in a dreamscape version of West Harbor.
- Jade Empire: the player's Last Stand is held at the temple of Dirge, where the Spirit monks were all killed before the beginning of the game. It's also straight up invoked by Master Li, who sends you to a dream-version of Two Rivers and forces you to fight your fellow students as the school burns around you.
- But subverted in Baldur's Gate I: Your hero returns from Baldur's Gate to the hometown of Candlekeep in what appears to be the last chapter, only to be sent to Baldur's Gate again for the final showdown.
- In Mass Effect 1 You face the Big Bad and Dragon on the Citadel, the space station what was where you were at the end of the tutorial-linear opening of the game.
- In Mass Effect 2, the sandbox opens in the same system as the Omega-4 Relay, which is the only way to access the Collector Base.
- For Legion, who is strongly implied to be the first geth to take up arms against their creators (when the latter decided to begin genocide of the former), their story begins and ends on Rannoch, the quarian homeworld.
- Mass Effect 3 starts on Earth and ends on Earth.
- Not only that, the first game also began in Earth orbit.
- DLC for Mass Effect 3, "From Ashes", will include a mission on Eden Prime, where the very first mission in the very first game took place.
- In Planescape: Torment: the gateway to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon turns out to be in the Mortuary where the game started, just a few feet from where the main character woke up at the beginning of the whole thing.
- Turns out that the crazy guy outside the mortuary at the beginning of the game was foreshadowing something different when he told you that you'd been in, and out, of there before.
- In Icewind Dale the heroes All Meet In An Inn in a little town. They leave on their quest, then return in the final chapter to discover the main villain has been making himself at home while they were gone.
- Players with the City Elf background in Dragon Age: Origins will revisit the Alienage as part of the final battle. (The Dwarf origins and the Mage origin both return to where it began, and players with the Return to Ostagar DLC can, of course, return to Ostagar, but none of these take place at the end of the game.)
- In the series' lore, when King Calenhad Theirin waged his war of unification in the land that became Ferelden, his first campaign led him back to the city of Highever, his home and birthplace, and he defeated the Couslands, making them the first to bend the knee to him.
- In Witch Hunt DLC Dalish Warden returns to the broken mirror that tained him/her. You can literally reply to Ariane that it's the place where everything began.
- In Dragon Age II the Final Battle takes place in the Gallows, the first part of Kirkwall Hawke sees when the family fled Lothering years ago.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, the entire quest consists of Revan retracing her steps, only to end up back on the Starforge. In the sequel, The Sith Lords, the Exile also has to retrace her steps, returning to many of the key locations of the Mandalorian War, and ending on the ruins of Malachor V, the world the Exile destroyed to stop the Mandalorians and save the galaxy, the act which transformed the Exile into a hole in the Force.
- In the expansion to [[Video Game/Black and White Black and White II]], the last island is the ruins of the Greek homeland, which you were forced to evacuate at the beginning of the main game. It still has the volcanoes that were summoned to destroy your first city.
- The final battle with Big Bad Ansem in the first Kingdom Hearts begins on (what's left of) Destiny Islands, the first stage, before switching to the standard Amazing Technicolor Battlefield.
- In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Ven's story ends at The Awakening. Not only is that where we first see Ven, but it's also a tutorial level that appeared at the beginning of near every game in the series. Later, the final battle between Aqua and the possessed Terra occurs at Radiant Garden, where Terra had his true Start of Darkness. Vanitas was created from Ven at the Keyblade Graveyard, bringing their battle full-circle as well.
- Inverted in Kingdom Hearts II, where Hollow Bastion /Radiant Garden, the penultimate stage of the first game, is the new hub world since Leon and Sora's other allies took it back between games. Played straight with Twilight Town, the world the game begins in and that Sora returns to at the end of the game to find the portal to The World That Never Was, the lair of the Organization.
- Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days takes this to a logical extreme. The almost final area is Twilight Town, which is where Roxas gets his name from Xemnas, where he met Axel, where his first mission with Xion was, and where he, Axel, and Xion meet up to hang out. Not only is it the final area, but the clock tower is the setting for the final part of the fight with Xion, which also drags you to three other worlds you visited throughout the game. Then, you're taken to The World That Never Was, which is where your main hub has been for most of the game. You then reenact the secret ending to Kingdom Hearts, which means it loops all the way back to the ending of the first game.
- In coded, this occurs across games — the goal of the heroes is to find out the source and meaning of a mysterious message that's appeared in Jiminy's journal, and the final world ends up being Castle Oblivion, the very place Sora lost his memories and the journal was originally left blank back in Chain of Memories.
- And once again occurring across games in Dream Drop Distance — the final boss takes place in The Awakening once again, after which the environment shifts to Destiny Islands, and the player must answer questions mirroring the ones asked at The Awakening in the first game.
- The final battle with Chairman Drek in Ratchet & Clank takes place on the first stage, Ratchet's home planet of Veldin.
- The final battle with Emperor Tachyon in Tools of Destruction takes place on Planet Fastoon, which isn't the first stage, but Fastoon was where Tachyon destroyed the Lombaxes, marking the first conquest of his empire.
- The final battle in Mega Man Zero 3 takes place in the ruins of the underground laboratory where Ciel found Zero resting in Mega Man Zero.
- The first stage of Mega Man X5 is an important location in Mega Man Zero 4.
- In Mega Man X2, the last level is the same as Magna Centipede's stage, even with all the secrets, but stops in the middle. If you select Magna Centipede instead, you still stop for the final battle.
- The first stage of Mega Man X7 has Zero return to the first stage of Mega Man X.
- Rockman 4 Minus Infinity has the fight with Pharaoh Man, which starts out in the very first room of his stage.
- Only if you play as Albert in Romancing SaGa the first dungeon in his scenario is the gate to the final dungeon. Turns out the monsters are stronger also when you enter the very first cave again due to the game's Event Rank system.
- Pokémon Red and Blue/Yellow comes close - nothing much happens in Pallet Town after the beginning of the game, but Viridian City, the first stop immediately thereafter, turns out to be the home of the last Gym Leader, who also happens to be Giovanni, the leader of Team Rocket. The dwelling place of Mewtwo, the Bonus Dungeon, is behind Cerulean City, the town of the second Gym.
- Pokémon Gold and Silver/Crystal: The path to Indigo Plateau from Johto? Surf east from New Bark Town.
- GSC also lets you go to Kanto after beating the Elite Four, where you can collect the badges there and gain access to Mt. Silver; waiting at the end is Red, the protagonist of RGBY and the strongest opponent in the game.
- And in the anime, Ash tends to end up back in Pallet Town between tournaments. Gotta visit Mom after all.
- After beating the Elite Four and the Champion in most games, next time you load your save you'll be in your bedroom, where you also started the game, except for RSE as you started those games in the back of a moving van.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Pokémon XD is located right off the coast of Gateon Port, the First Town.
- Indigo Plateau and Victory Road (the place you battle the Elite Four and champion and hence Final Boss) of the original games is just a bit left from Viridian City and hence right near the start of the game. Pokemon and XY also do this, with Victory Road being just off the first Gym town, and you can even access the entrance to it before getting a single badge!
- In Pokémon Colosseum, Wes meets the Final Boss of the game at the Outskirt Stand, the first location he went to at the beginning after destroying the Team Snagem base.
- In Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, a significant chunk of the postgame is actually where the prequel started (the first two gyms and the Skyarrow Bridge, which were earlygame in Black and White but are locked off until the postgame in BW2), and you can even speak to the prequel player character's mother.
- The Simpsons: Hit & Run, the final level is the same part of town as the first level, only with zombies and other assorted chaos occuring.
- The first Galaxy Angel game started and ended with the Angels launching from the White Moon and battling around it.
- In Super Robot Wars Destiny, The final battlefield is located in the South Pole; where you first get control of the Original Characters
- Suikoden I starts in what will become the final dungeon. Most of the endings of the second game involve the main character returning to Where It All Began for a final confrontation with his Necessarily Evil best friend.
- At the end of Skies of Arcadia, the deserted floating temple that was the game's first dungeon has become the entrance to the final one.
- In Phantasy Star IV, the gate to the final dungeon is on the same planet you started from.
- In Breath of Fire II, the cave at the back of the hero's childhood hometown is the entrance to the final dungeon. Anything more would be spoilery.
- In Final Fantasy I, the final task of the Light Warriors, after killing the four elemental Fiends and reviving the power of the Crystals, is to go back the ruined Temple of Fiends, site of their first quest. Using the power of the Crystals, they travel two thousand years into the past, to the true Temple of Fiends, in order to battle the four Fiends and their master Chaos on their own home turf. And to take it even farther, the Final Boss Chaos and the first boss Garland are the same person. the remakes call the temple "Chaos shine" that's right, Garlands hideout at the start of the game is a shrine to himself.
- For Final Fantasy IV, the game begins with Cecil and the Red Wings flying back to Baron, and on the way is a flashback that explains they're returning from Mysidia after stealing their Crystal. Later in the game Cecil returns to the city and becomes a Paladin, shortly after which he returns to Baron. Then later still, he returns to the tower just behind the Crystal's resting chamber to witness the arrival of the airship that will fly them to the moon, where the Big Bad awaits.
- In the sequel The After Years, the Mysterious Girl descends to Earth at Baron, and the party gathers their numbers and heads to Baron in the penultimate tale to confront her.
- In Final Fantasy V, the first scenario is in Castle Tycoon and the journey starts in the kingdom of Tycoon. When the two worlds merge, the Void will absorb Castle Tycoon and leave a dark portal in it's place. This dark portal is the entrance to the Interdimentional Rift, the game's Final Dungeon.
- In Final Fantasy VI, the final dungeon in the World of Ruin is directly north of the first town you visit, but you have to find your friends and dig up an airship to get in. Said final dungeon is built out of the ruins of Vector. Earlier in the game, the player escapes from Narshe, and after joining the Returners they elect to return to the city, at which point a battle takes place to close the first story arc of the game and begin the next one.
- Final Fantasy VII pulls off a similar feat. You spend at least a good 7-10 hours in Midgar at the start of the game and then can't get back in after you leave the city completely (unless you find the key to the gate in a mini game much later on and even then, it only lets you back into Sector 5 and 6). Towards the very end of disc 2 after beating Diamond WEAPON, your party parachutes into Midgar to stop Hojo and the music for the chapter is the same one you heard in the beginning of the game when you first started out. On top of that, Barret comments that he kind of misses Midgar after having come back, but then gets angry at himself for longing for a dump run by Shin-Ra.
- In the spin-off Crisis Core, Zack finds out Genesis's base is under the ruins of Banora, which was bombed in Chapter 2 after the initial confrontation with Genesis.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, it is revealed that the main characters all grew up together at Edea's Orphanage. As part of Odine's gambit to find Ultimecia, far into the future, they allow the Time Compression to occur and then concentrate on returning to the Orphanage in order to emerge from the timestream... only to reveal that Ultimecia's Castle is anchored to it.
- Thematic parallel: in Final Fantasy X, Tidus' journey begins in Dream Zanarkand, which is then destroyed by Sin. At the end of the game, when the party has gone inside Sin to destroy Braska's Final Aeon, only to find its deepest layers a ruined recreation of Zanarkand. Also, before the fight with Sin, the entire game has been a pilgrimage to the real Zanarkand.
- Not only that, but when you are traveling to Spira at the beginning of the game, you pass through the same ruined Zanarkand recreation...
- Final Fantasy XII starts in Rabanastre, a desert city struggling under the rule of the Archadian Empire, which is also home to half of the characters in the main party. The end of the game has the team facing off against the final boss at the top of a giant sky fortress that just so happens to be hovering directly above Rabanastre.
- Dissidia: Final Fantasy, the prequel Dissidia 012 begins Bartz's storyline in the Land of Discord after he's been captured. Once he escapes Zidane is captured, and Bartz has to head back to the Land of Discord to find him and fight his Final Boss. The Warriors of Cosmos also return to Order's Sanctuary near the end of the 13th cycle once they have their Crystals, the first time all the heroes have been gathered together since the start of the 12th cycle, when Cosmos imbued them with her power so they could manifest said Crystals.
- The game's backstory reveals Chaos was created in the Cardian Islands laboratories at the behest of Onrac, his lair and the site of the final battle in the Land of Discord is on a floating island off the shore of Onrac, and the Cardian Islands link the Land of Discord to the mainland. The title of a Report, "Hill with View of the Water Temple" (the Water Shrine's approximate location underwater would be beneath Chaos's island) also implies that this is where Cid, Garland, Chaos and Cosmos arrived in World B and the cycles of war began.
- And as a meta-example for the entire series, in the ending sequence the Warriors of Cosmos appear outside Cornelia in World A, and the Warrior of Light begins walking towards the castle, revealing the Dissidia games to be a prequel to the original Final Fantasy which started out the same way.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2: Serah's journey starts when a meteorite (actually a Time Gate) crashes just outside New Bodhum, her home since Cocoon's fall, and Noel appears. The pair end up in a ruined version of New Bodhum (in 700 -AF-), just before the Very Definitely Final Dungeon. The game also ends in Valhalla, where the tutorial and prologue took place (on the same beach where Caius was shown laying Yeul to rest).
- The final dungeon in Legend of Legaia takes place in the Heroic Mute's hometown... at least, where it USED to be before a giant monster consumed and assimilated it.
- In order to access The Very Definitely Final Dungeon in EarthBound, Ness and his friends not only have to return to Ness' hometown, but have to return to the crash site of the meteorite which set the entire plot in motion. The dungeon isn't there, though: the party needs a piece of the meteorite, which contains a rare mineral, to power the Time Travel machine that will deliver them to the main antagonist's lair. It isn't easy though, as Ness' hometown has become over run with aliens in the meantime.
- Lara Croft tends to end up doing this in the Tomb Raider games, generally after spending most of the game searching for a MacGuffin needed to activate something in the first location she visited.
- The final battle of Deus Ex: Invisible War takes place on Liberty Island, the exact same place the first level of the original Deus Ex took place. The map design is even incredibly similar, although alterations were made due to the limits of the console-based engine of Deus Ex 2.
- Halo: Combat Evolved is fond of this trope; about halfway through the game, you end up backtracking through the levels you've previous been through, until the very last level which takes place on the very starship you began the game on in the first level.
- With the chapter title "...And The Horse You Rode In On"
- Likewise, in Halo 3, the final battle takes place in the Halo Control Room, identical to the Halo Control Room in Halo. You even face off against the same enemy.
- In addition, the entire final level is on A recreation of the first Halo. Clever gamers will note that the final warthog-run course is designed to be a near-exact silhouette of the island from popular Halo level The Silent Cartographer.
- In Super Mario RPG the first dungeon in the game is Bowser's castle. However, after you defeat Bowser, the true villains of the game appear and take over the place. You return to the castle near the end of the game, as you must defeat a boss there in order to teleport to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
- Most of the Myst games do this for individual ages; the last puzzle to solve is usually in the first thing you saw when you came in.
- In Riven, the player's final action in the game is to activate a device that is right near the starting location. Especially effective because the device in question has been accessible since the beginning, but the player doesn't understand what it's for until after the story is nearly over; successfully beating the game relies on opening what doesn't look like a safe with what doesn't originally seem to be a combination lock, that has been sitting right in front of you from the moment you arrived.
- Also, the last area unlocked in Uru is Myst Island. Note, however, that Uru was intended to be — essentially — a Myst MMORPG, so it's not really the end of the Uru storyline. It's kinda complicated...
- Subverted, however, in Myst V: End of Ages. Even though you have the option to, you don't WANT to return to Myst Island. Trust me on this one.
- In Half-Life 2 , Gordon Freeman arrives at the Combine-ruled City 17, passing through a block of flats and a trainstation, before reaching a friend's lab and then heading off to the coast, where he is later teleported back to the lab, except that resistence uprising has resulted in riots. This is most striking when the player escapes from some ruined apartments, to discover he is in the same courtyard has passed through earlier, and then goes on to find the train station exterior, now covered with Combine devices and walls. It's not nearly the end of the game, though.
- In StarTropics II: Zoda's Revenge, the very last chapter of the game takes place on C-island, the first island of the original StarTropics. And the game's ultimate dungeon? A remix of the first game's first stage, complete with music.
- The penultimate act of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is set in the ruins of the Shadow Moses Island Nuclear Disposal Facility, where the entirety of the original Metal Gear Solid took place.
- In In FAMOUS, the final boss battle is fought at the site of the explosion that began the game.
- In Ico, after Yorda is taken by the Queen, and you maneuver your way through the castle's underground waterway, you come upon the very dock that you were taken to in the game's opening scene. And it turns out the Queen's throne room was right next to the room you were first imprisoned in.
- The Longest Journey directly invokes this trope in the opening narration. "This story, like all good stories, begins where it ends: in a tower, in a realm that is no more..."
- In No More Heroes, if you finish the higher difficulty mode, you end up fighting the TRUE final boss Henry, in the parking lot right outside your own home where you'd be after every Ranked Fight.
- In Time Shift, the first level has the player being dropped into a dystopian alternate timeline where the Occupant resistance is being mercilessly crushed by the fascist Krone Magistrate, and the level ends in a Hopeless Boss Fight against Big Bad Krone's Humongous Mecha. The game's last level takes place in the exact same neighbor and at the exact same time as the first level, except you've altered history so that the resistance is winning (i.e. in the original timeline a helicopter would mow down several resistance members on a rooftop, whereas in the altered timeline the resistance members have rocket launchers to shoot the copter down with). When you reach the final battle you end up in a better firing position than you were in the original timeline, such that you actually have a shot a the Humongous Mecha's weak spot, as well as a weapon capable of harming it.
- Very subtly done in F.E.A.R.. The game's first level is a non-combat tutorial where you search an abandoned building in a run-down neighborhood for the game's The Dragon. At the very end of the game, you emerge from an Elaborate Underground Base into a run down warehouse. If you look out the window, you'll see that you're in the very same neighborhood that the game's first level took place in.
- Also, the final "confrontation" with Alma takes place in a hallucination of the same building from the game's first level, which is revealed to be the labratory where Alma gave birth to your character.
- The final showdown in Assassin's Creed I takes place in the very same castle you began the game in.
- After completing The Very Definitely Final Dungeon in Chrono Cross, the portal to the final boss opens up on Opassa Beach, which is just off the silent protagonist's hometown, and where he attempted to meet his girlfriend at the very beginning of the game.
- At the very start of Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, your character is dropped into the Abyss while standing in front of the door to Dracula's inner sanctum. The entire rest of the game is a quest to get the key to that same door, behind which is the final encounter with Dracula.
- Midnight Club II: the last two races in Career mode take place in the first city. In a further example, the final race's finish line is the gas station where the entire game began.
- Grim Fandango plays this trope for all it's worth. Near the end, Manny returns to the city where he began the game working as a travel agent, now a corrupted cesspool of sin and debauchery. He infiltrates the heart of the criminal conspiracy, where the Big Bad unwittingly offers Manny his old job. In his old office.
- System Shock 2 does this in a bit of a roundabout way. While in the original, Citadel Station was destroyed, the very last section of the sequel dumps you into a still-forming recreation of Citadel's medical level, big blue tiles and all- said medical level being the place where the Hacker first woke up in the original. It's still-forming because SHODAN is rebuilding it out of her own memory.
- In the endgame of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, you can emerge from a door on Melee Island, last seen locked in the original game.
- Subverted in Oracle Of Tao. Where It All Began is some generic large town, that practically nothing happens (ever), much less an epic battle. However, in the Playable Epilogue it does return to an origin place, the Universe Egg where the world was created at the end of the first game.
- Near the beginning of Terranigma, you are sent through a portal from your hometown at the inside of Earth to outside. Near the end, this same portal is opened again and you visit your hometown. However because of the changes you've made on the surface, it has subtle changes and right when you talk to anyone, they turn into spirits and attack you.
- In Secret of Evermore, the game begins in Omnitopia before you get shuttled down to Evermore's surface. The rest of the game is largely spent trying to figure out how to go back home, which the protagonist believes can be done by returning to Omnitopia. And for the final areas of the game, he does.
- Sly 2: Band Of Thieves': The final battle ends in Paris, the area where the first game begins Sly's quest to avenge his father and his family's name.
- Not to mention Paris is the first level of the second game as well.
- Hitman: Codename 47 opens with the titular character breaking out of the lab where he was created, and finishes in the same building, when he kills his creator.
- Hitman: Silent Assassin begins with 47 working in a church in Sicily, and features the final showdown in the same church, after which he leaves.
- Aaand, Hitman: Contracts technically begins and ends in the same hotel room, but that's because he's been tripping the entire game on his near-deathbed.
- The entrance to the final dungeon of the normal ending of Persona 4 is in one of the first places you see in the TV world.
- The final dungeon of the true ending is the same place that the protagonist dreamt of at the beginning of the game and where the first fight took place.
- The final episode of Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice takes place in the same location as the first episode (Though it's been remodeled from a fairly typical castle into a futuristic looking palace). The final battle of the Raspberyl story takes place in the same location.
- The second to last story stage of TimeSplitters: Future Perfect involves returning literally to the same location and time as your visit to the first story level of the game, so you can assist your past self.
- In Legacy of Kain : Blood Omen Kain receives his quest at the Pillars of Nosgoth, which is also where the final boss is fought. In Soul Reaver 2, Raziel begins the same fighting his way out of the Sarafan keep, and the game ends with him fighting his way back in.
- Super Mario Advance 3 takes you back to the Training Course in stage Secret 6, but not before getting though some of the hardest obstacles in this stage. The Training Course is the stage where you start a new game before entering World 1.
- In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, even though it's not really the last battle, you fight the Big Bad in the meeting room of Peach's Castle, where Mario first battled Bowser at the beginning of the game. Adding to this, you play as Bowser in the same position but with a different perspective.
- And in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, after defeating the elder Princess Shroob and returning to Peach's castle yet again, her essence revives Bowser and you have to battle him one last time in the throne room, where baby Mario fought Baby Bowser before the Shroobs first appeared at the beginning.
- Don't forget the obvious. Both games use Princess Peach's Castle, the starting point of the adventure as the final dungeon albeit with some modifications made by the Big Bad.
- The last stage of Kirby's Adventure is a black-and-white homage to its Game Boy predecessor, Kirby's Dream Land, with two rooms for each of that's games four stages.
- In Fallout 3 the main character is born at the Jefferson Memorial, but is led to believe he/she was born in Vault 101. Sooner or later, the player storms that same place twice in the main storyline.
- It goes a lot further than that. If you pay close attention and find all the right logs, you'll realize that the player character (assuming you disregard the expansion) dies on the exact spot where he was conceived - in the reactor room, fixing the problem his parents missed because they were too busy having sex.
- Twice in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past—first, you rescue Zelda from the Hyrule Castle dungeons, then return to the castle after obtaining the Master Sword to climb its central tower. In the Dark World, after completing the final dungeon the final boss crashes through the top of the Dark Pyramid you entered the world on to reveal a chamber inside where the final battle is held. Just to top it all off too, the Dark Pyramid and Hyrule Castle are in the same place between the two works. There are two other instances, as this game is the Trope Namer for Dark World—the first dungeon for each of the two worlds is in the same place, and the final dungeon of the Dark World is in the same place as the final dungeon of the Light World.
- The eighth dungeon in Oracle of Ages is in the same location as the first dungeon, merely in the past rather than the present. It's not as simple as just warping to the past once you've got the Song of Ages, however.
- Ocarina of Time, Link begins the second part of the game in the ruins of Hyrule Castle Town, and later returns to the town to infiltrate Ganon's Castle floating where Hyrule Castle once stood.
- In Majora's Mask the player starts off in Clock Town and has to wait until the end of the 3rd Day to climb up the clock tower and get their ocarina back from the Skull Kid to begin the game proper. Once the dungeons are complete you have to do the same and this time use the song you've learned to call the dungeon guardians to your aid.
- For Twilight Princess, the game proper begins in Hyrule Castle's dungeons where you meet Midna, and the final dungeon takes you through the rest of the castle.
- In The Minish Cap, the final dungeon is once again Hyrule Castle.
- In Spirit Tracks, it is noted that the entrance to the Dark World is located not far at all from Link's hometown.
- In Skyward Sword, the entrance to the final dungeon is about ten steps away from the cave where Link rescues his bird at the beginning of the game. And then the final battle takes place in the same place Link first descended to the surface.
- In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, the prologue begins in Chalphy with Sigurd setting out to save Edain. In the final chapter, the last stretch of the war begins in Chalphy with Celice setting out to end a 20-year Holy War and save Yuria in the proccess.
- Left 4 Dead 2 does this for the Hard Rain campaign where the finale takes place in the Burger Tank, which is where you started in the first map, except it is more wrecked and now flooded from the hurricane.
- And The Passing as well; the whole objective of that campaign is to get to the other side of a bridge and lower it so you can drive the escape vehicle from the first campaign over it.
- Paper Mario's first battle is against Bowser at Peach's castle. The second-to-last boss, Bowser, is fought in the same room where the first battle was. As if that wasn't enough, the post-game scenes almost directly mirror the opening sequence, including why Mario is going to Peach's castle.
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the last few missions take place in the city where the first few did. The final mission ends on Grove Street.
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, choosing the "Revenge" option takes you back to the ship you came in on.
- Digimon World 3, sort of. The final battle takes place in an almost identical equivalent of the building where the player first arrived in the Digital World.
- In Fable, the final boss fight occurs in the Chamber of Fate. Although not technically where the game began, it is where your character is officially made a Hero, so it counts.
- Dawn of Mana begins and ends with a chase through the same Lost Woods... but the second time around, you're going after the evil Sorceress after she's pulled a Grand Theft Me on Unlucky Childhood Friend Ritzia and the monsters have all been corrupted by Echoes.
- The original Metroid requires you to return to the first vertical shaft near the beginning in order to access Tourian. In a more literal sense, the final hallway with Mother Brain is just 2 screens above the start area. Also, if you beat Ridley before Kraid, you'll again be going through the area from the very beginning of the game to fight Kraid before heading up to Tourian.
- Super Metroid gets partial credit for the fact that the pathway to the final area is fairly close to your ship and the first places you visit on Zebes (Ceres Station, the very first area of the game, is destroyed) and there's even a secret path near your ship that's effectively a second pathway to the final area, meaning you're very likely to be passing by your ship (possibly grabbing a save and fill-up while there) when doing a 100% items run (depending on your route).
- Metroid: Fusion begins and ends in the shuttle landing dock of BSL.
- Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has the final boss battle take place in the Dark World version of the area you first learn of the game's true objectives in.
- Metroid: Other M follows this, but only in the Playable Epilogue - the Bonus Boss is in the very first area of the game, in a part you've been unable to access until now. The path eventually loops round to the other side of the control room where the first boss was, before the inevitable escape sequence back to your ship.
- Portal briefly takes you back to the ninth test chamber (which is now a piece of cake, due to being able to fire two portals) before the final boss.
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a Spoiler Title by that sense.
- Borderlands DLC Claptrap's New Robot Revolution ends in Fyrestone, the place where the Vault Hunters met the Claptrap that would be the Interplanetary Ninja Assassin Claptrap and the place where they started the game.
- Borderlands 2 brings you back to Fyrestone, the first area of the first game, in the penultimate mission of the main campaign.
- Full Throttle begins with Ben and his gang riding motorcycles. During the ending sequence, Ben is stuck on a wrecked plane at the edge of a bridge, and needs to get off the plane before it falls, a feat that's impossible to do on foot. However, a conveniently placed bike sits Behind the Black.
- In the first two Rhythm Heaven games, the final remix ends with a Karate Man section. Karate Man was the very first mini-game in the first installment. (Which was only available in Japan)
- In NieR, the gateway to the Shadowlord's castle lies just past the altar where Grimoire Weiss and Nier first met. When Emil comments on this, Weiss agrees that it feels strangely nostalgic.
- The jail cell in Purple's intro is actually located within The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. In fact, it's just steps away from final boss' chamber.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army must be accessed from the same bridge where your fist case began.
- After the tutorial fights aboard General Scales' airship, Star Fox Adventures opens in the sprawling, epic Krazoa Palace. Guess which place serves as the final dungeon?
- Batman: Arkham City does this in a way. The final boss battle takes place at the theater Bruce Wayne attended on the night of his parent's murder, bringing it back to where it began not for the events of the game, but for Batman himself.
- Just before that, you enter the very same chamber Bruce Wayne was imprisoned in in the beginning of the game en route to Wonder Tower. After the scene in wonder tower, you head to the theater, which, of course, is near the spot where Bruce's parents were killed, which is supposed to be one of the first easter eggs the player finds as Hugo Strange leaves a tape there for you in the beginning of the game.
- It will end where it began.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum also does this in a way with the Joker's makeshift lair, which is hidden in the extremely creepy Visitor's Center. The first time the player visits it, a cutscene plays where Joker taunts Batman and foreshadows dangers to come, and the player can continue to visit it throughout the game to hear him comment on events if they choose. The penultimate message the player can get is the Joker laughing at them on loop as a lead-up to the Joker boss battle. Additionally, the large Joker gateway over its entrance continues to be built throughout the game, only being fully completed by the end of the night, and once the player enters the visitor's center at that point, the doors lock behind them, a cutscene ensues, and the game finally comes full circle.
- Apparently, the Arkham series loves this trope, because in Batman: Arkham Origins the final confrontation with Bane and Joker takes place at Blackgate Prison, where the game began.
- Jet Set Willy ends with the scene depicted on the game's cover art; Willy's head down the toilet in "The Bathroom", the game's starting room. Jet Set Willy 2 has the same ending sequence, only on reaching the toilet Willy is transported to "Oh $#!+! The Central Cavern!", the first room of the previous game in the series, Manic Miner.
- Geneforge 5 has one if you join Ghaldring's faction. One of the final quests but not the last one is to kill Shaper Rawal, who just happens to have his base in Isenwood Spire. Even better is the fact that you can bypass most of his defenses by coming in through the Foundry Core.
- The Hive, the heart of the Kreegan infestation of Enroth during and before VI and one of the landing points during the Night of Falling Stars is located in the region of Sweet Water... which is also your characters' home village, from which they fled during the intro of the game, saved from death by a benign wizard. (Of course, this only counts if the cinematic opening sequence at the start of the game is considered the beginning.)
- In Alpha Protocol, the final mission takes place in the Graybox, Alpha Protocol's headquarters and the site of the game's tutorial mission. This is heavily lampshaded: the final section of the game is entitled "Operation Full Circle" and the Big Bad muses on how appropriate it is that the story's ending in the same place it began in the cutscenes preceding the mission.
- In Tales of the Abyss, the adventure technically begins in Tataroo Valley. In the Epilogue, when Luke/Asch/whoever comes back, everything takes place in Tataroo Valley. It's also an example of a distant finale, in that it all takes place two and a half years after the end of the game/anime.
- Shining the Holy Ark sees the player heading into a dangerous mine at the start of the game to capture a criminal. Only it seems that the mine Dug Too Deep and evil spirits have been released. So you're forced to go on a quest so you're powerful enough to go back into the mine to seal away the Big Bad for good.
- Project X Zone starts off at the Koryuujii estate. The party goes back there twice, and the second time, it is revealed that the base of the enemy is underneath the fountain.
- Wario Land 3: the final music box is conveniently located at the first level. Then you can visit the Big Bad at the temple, as in the first place you ever visit.
- Crysis: The first game starts you landing on Lingshan, and the final cutscene other than The Stinger has you return to Lingshan.
- Ecco the Dolphin sets out on a quest to find out what happened to his pod after it is abducted from his home bay. When he discovers they were abducted by aliens, his only decent way of chasing them is to use time travel to return to his home bay at the time of the incident and get abducted with them.
- Tony Hawk's Underground ends with a skate showdown with Eric Sparrow in your old hometown.
- In Robopon, Cody has to return directly to Baba Village at the end of the second game in order to confront the Zeros.
- In the original The Transformers cartoon, the story began on the nearly drained Cybertron in "More Than Meet The Eye: Part 1". The final episodes take place on a recharged Cybertron in "The Rebirth: Part 3".
- The first season of Transformers Animated ends where the adventure began: in the cargo hold of Optimus Prime's ship, with Prime and Megatron fighting for the AllSpark. Megatron even points this out.
- The two battle on board the same ship yet again near the end of the third season premiere, though that's a looser fit for this trope.
- The third season of the Winx Club uses this. When Valtor challenges them for the final battle, he deliberately chooses the very world he first invaded after breaking out of prison.
- The movie Turtles Forever essentially does this for the entire Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise; the third act is set in "Turtle Prime", the world of the original Turtles comic books.
- "Awakening," the first episode of Gargoyles, begins with the Wyvern Clan waking up from their stone sleep in Castle Wyvern. "Hunter's Moon," the final episode, ends with the Manhattan Clan going into stone sleep in Castle Wyvern.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Return of Harmony Part 1", Discord tells the main characters that they can find the Elements of Harmony back where they began. In the next episode, Twilight Sparkle finds the elements in the book that she is reading at the beginning of the pilot episode.
- The Powerpuff Girls episode Mr. Mojo's Rising is in effect a "where it all began" episode. The movie is essentially an inflated extension of the episode.
- The Beatles episode "Paperback Writer" has the head of publishing firm Dot, Clot and Blot telling each of the boys to submit a book telling how the group came together. The boys' individual takes are rather far-fetched (Ringo a Shakespearean actor, Paul a scientist, George a secret agent, John a World War I pilot, and each scenario with the others in supporting roles). They're so outlandish that the publisher kicks them out of his office.
John: Say, how did we meet, anyway?
Ringo: Same as now. We just sorta bumped into each other!
- Basically, this is how Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated concludes. When the Nibiru curse was destroyed, it reset everything in Crystal Cove as the curse had never existed, and the gang—once shunned by the townspeople—are now considered productive members of the community. But the reset means there are no mysteries to solve and Fred's van is a plain, white van. After getting a recorded message from Harlan Ellison, who had jumped the same timeline as the gang had, they dress up the van as their now-iconic "Mystery Machine" and set out on a road trip to solve whatever mysteries come their way.
- Salmon: These fish are born in high mountain streams, at times hundreds of miles inland, past rocks and rapids atop the bodies of their dead parents. They travel downstream as they grow in size, some but not many (relatively speaking) dodging gauntlets of predators on their journey to the sea. The survivors, the most fit whether by disease resistance, speed, strength or luck, are the only ones to reach the ocean, where they are further culled by merciless mother nature. It is here they continue their growth and development for a few years, honing their skills and growing in strength for what lies ahead. At some point, they are called to the place where it all began, to spawn and join their ancestors in the hallowed halls of salmon valhalla. So they return, the only way they can, the hard way, swimming and leaping up the rapids and short waterfalls the entire route. Overwhelming their predators, man, bears and manbearpigs with sheer numbers, rock solid determination and belly filling deliciousness, eventually enough of them make it back and engage in an orgy of death and babymaking before they shed their mortal shells and ascend into the heavens.
- Eels: Their life history is in many ways a mirror image of salmon. Instead of being born in high mountain streams, they are born in the open sea. They drift with the ocean currents, growing in size and eventually swimming on their own while dodging their own gauntlets of predators on their journey to fresh water. The survivors swim up rivers and streams, where they continue to grow for as long as 15 years while avoiding a new set of predators. Then, they go downstream, even crossing wet grasslands, until they reach the ocean. Eels then cross hundreds or even thousands of miles of ocean, overwhelming their predators in much the same way that salmon do, with enough of them making it back to the breeding grounds before entering eel valhalla.
- Humanity: The oldest modern human skeleton was found at Awash River.