Whole Episode Flashback

"On the Next Dai Guard, Ibuki has a really long flashback. I mean a really long flashback."
Akagi, Dai-Guard

An episode consisting mainly of one or more Flashbacks.

Sometimes this is used to tell a story that takes place before the series began. Other times this is used as a variant form of a Framing Device such as a Captain's Log to allow the character to comment on the action with the benefit of hindsight.

When the action takes place before the beginning of the series, the flashback is often used to show how the characters met. Occasionally, it will be combined with A Day in the Limelight, showing the true depths of a character while at the same time letting the audience see what made this person be like they are.

Occasionally the flashback takes place some time between episodes during the run of the series, especially if it has a Time Skip.

When the flashbacks consist of previously recorded footage, you get a Clip Show.

Specific variants: How We Got Here and "Rashomon"-Style.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • The second half of Episode 6 of Attack on Titan, where Mikasa starts remembering how she first met Eren.
  • Burst Angel had an episode about how Meg met Jo and what they used to do before becoming mercenaries.
  • Bleach: Semi-regular flashback chapters occur during the Soul Society arc. Also, a number of characters have flashback chapters during a significant fight, and especially when dying. There are also two mini-arcs that take place entirely in the past. "Turn Back the Pendulum" covers events affecting Soul Society 110-101 years before the first manga chapter. "Everything but the Rain" covers events affecting Karakura Town 20 years before the first manga chapter.
  • Detective Conan has featured quite a few episodes showing Shinichi solving cases before he was shrunk at the beginning of the series.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, Ken's flashback story in "Genesis of Evil"/"Digivice ga Yami ni Somaru Toki."
  • In Dragon Ball GT, there was a flashback episode about Vegeta's character development as a whole. Basically about how he was always outclassed by Goku, a low level Saiyan, despite being the prince of the near-extinct race.
    • A filler episode of Dragon Ball Z entitled "Memories of Gohan" showed Goku and Chichi harkening back to both the day Goku named Gohan after his grandfather and a day during a family outing where Goku wound up witnessing Gohan's hidden potential for the first time.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has a Whole Volume Flashback, in which the Ishval massacre is told in all its bloody horror. Or rather, three simultaneous flashbacks to the same time, but told by and to three different people (Riza's to Ed, Dr. Knox's to Al, Lan Fan, and May Chang, and Dr. Marcoh's to Scar).
    • When the manga was adapted into the 2003 anime, the anime compressed most of the Elric Brothers' childhood (told in parts in the manga) into the third episode of the anime, then moved several events that happened in the present a couple years in the past so episodes 4-9 were flashing back to the first year after Ed and Al lost their limbs and body.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam The Origin, the Adaptation Expansion manga version of Mobile Suit Gundam, had an extended flashback detailing the death of Revolutionary Zeon Deikum, the Zabis' rise to power, Char and Sayla's childhood, Char's enrollment in Zeon's military school, espionage and the development of Humongous Mecha between the EFF and Zeon, the events leading up to the One Year War, the Battle of Loum, General Revil's capture by and escape from Zeon——in short, all the events alluded to in the backstory of the original Gundam show——collected in six volumes, a third of the series published thus far.
  • Gungrave has this for about half of the series (at least in the anime).
  • His And Her Circumstances or Kare Kano has this in volumes 18 and 19 of the manga to explain the past of the Arima family.
  • The latter half of the two-parter "It Was A Small Wish" of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, which has Signum and Shamal reminiscing how they met their master and the events that led to the plot of the second season. There's also the supplementary manga chapter "Lightning Hearts", which has Fate, Erio, and Caro narrating the stories on how they met each other to various members of Riot Force 6.
  • In Maria-sama ga Miteru, Satou Sei (Rosa Gigantea) got one of these in both the first and second seasons.
  • About half of Mermaid Saga consisted of these. Then again the main character was something like 700 years old so it was kind of inevitable.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, there is an episode devoted to the backstory of Shinji's parents, as well as Professor Fuyutsuki.
  • In One Piece, each member of the crew has gotten at least one Whole Episode Flashback to show their backstory- as the series progresses, these flashbacks have gotten longer and longer, sometimes reaching three episodes of nothing but flashbacks.
  • Ouran High School Host Club had not one, but two flashback episodes, the first one being about how Hikaru and Kaoru met Tamaki, and the second one being about how Kyoya met Tamaki.
  • Naruto Shippuden not only has whole episode flashbacks, there are sometimes multi-episode flashbacks about things we already know, and let's not forget the filler arc that consisted of flashbacks. Also, how about sasuke having multi-episode flashbacks to the same flashback mulltiple time!
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit has two of them that explain Balsa's childhood and how she became a bodyguard.
  • Roughly half of the Tenjho Tenge anime consists of these.
  • Trigun had the episode "Rem Saverem", which revealed both how humanity ended up on Gunsmoke and revealed Knives, who had never been featured or mentioned in the series up to that point. It also revealed Vash's connection with Rem, who thusfar had been an ambiguous character mentioned several times.
  • Elfen Lied uses one of these to explain Lucy's Start of Darkness.
  • Twin Spica has several of these, emphasizing the Slice of Life nature of the show, rather than the space exploration part.
  • The last episode of the Hyakko anime shows the lives of the main cast before they met at high school.
  • There is a fan manga that could be called Linux Flashback due to more than half of it being flashbacks. Every chapter or so, it switches point of view.
  • The Slam Dunk anime is known for several flashbacks happening during the game. One of the most poignant, however, was an entire episode featuring Kogure's flashback to his and Akagi's three year history on the basketball team. An episode-long flashback that somehow managed to occur between his taking a three-point shot and said shot going in the net.
  • Baccano! is kind enough to devote a whole episode to flashing back to 1711 and explaining just why there are immortals in the first place.
  • Done a number of times in Legend of Galactic Heroes.
  • Shakugan no Shana has a multi episode flashback. Apparent in story reason is to explain why Shana likes melon bread but it ends up covering her Origin Story as well.
  • The final episode of the first season of ×××HOLiC shows part of Watanuki's childhood (though they called it a sidestory).
  • The first episode of Yakitate!! Japan is a Whole Episode Flashback origin story.
  • Wolf's Rain had a couple, although they were more recaps with some commenting from present-Tsume/Toboe than purely flashbacks.
  • Lupin III:
    • Volumes 4 & 5 for one of the Lupin III manga has a few stories starring a teenage Lupin.
    • Lupin III: Episode 0: First Contact has the premise of Jigen narrating a flashback to a reporter about how Lupin's gang was formed. Then the rest of the gang shows up. Revealing that Jigen was actually Lupin in disguise, and none of the gang agrees with his version of events.
  • The "Mobius Klein" episode of the Silent Möbius TV series details a disaster caused by the main character's father that's very important in the backstory. The first movie is also mostly flashback, as is the corresponding volume of the manga.
  • In the Until Death Do Us Part manga, pretty much all of the Next arc is a flashback to the main character's past in Chechnya, leading up to how he was blinded.
  • The World God Only Knows has a two-chapter flashback showing Keima and Tenri's first meeting.
  • Two episodes of the second season of Birdy the Mighty Decode were about the title character's past and origins. She's a genetically-engineered Super Soldier who was raised by a Robot Maid named Violeen/Violene/Violin until the Robot Maid was destroyed in a terrorist attack.
  • Tenchi Universe was a Whole Series Flashback; the series started at the end and had Tenchi remember everything that happened.
  • Episode 10 of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is one of these kind of. It's a flashback from Homura's perspective. For everyone else, it's a collection of alternative timelines.
  • RahXephon had one of these, focusing on the childhood of Helena, Itsuki, and Makoto. It gave Makoto some much needed character depth, adding a new dimension to his otherwise rather flat Smug Snake-ness.
  • In the manga, Berserk had a few volumes dedicated to Guts' past. The anime? The entire series save for the first was dedicated to Guts' past.
  • Chihayafuru so far has 2.5 episodes gone this way, starting midway from the first episode.
  • Towards the end of the Kyoto arc of Rurouni Kenshin, the multi-episode battles against Anji and Soujiro each had a flashback episode showing their Start of Darkness that pretty much took up the entire episode.
    • Also, the manga had about two volumes worth of flashback to Kenshin's life as Hitokiri Battousai and his ill-fated marriage to Tomoe.
  • Family Complex, the manga Sakamoto Akira starred before appearing in Princess Princess, had one chapter about his parents.
  • Pandora Hearts has an entire multi-volume flashback arc that spans from Retrace LXVI through Retrace LXXIV (with dips into the present throughout) and reveals the back stories of Glen, Jack, and Lacie as well as the events of one hundred years ago that led to the Tragedy of Sablier.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry, Matsuribayashi-hen, begins with no fewer than five episodes of flashbacks, of which the first two are made more confusing by Anachronic Order.
  • Mekakucity Actors: Episodes 6, 7, 9 and 10 are all dedicated flashbacks to fill out the stories of Ene, Konoha, Ayano (and her adoptive siblings, Kido, Kano and Seto) and the Medusae (Azami, Shion and Mary), respectively. This also translates into the manga, where the Headphone Actor and Yuukei Yesterday chapters (set 2 years in the past, covering Ene and Konoha's joint history) take up a whole volume.
  • Over the course of its two seasons, I Can't Understand What My Husband is Saying had five flashback episodes. Three of them (9, 11 and 10.5) detailed how Hajime and Kaoru became a couple, one of them (-108) was how Rino and Nozomu became a couple, and one of them (-555) was how Mayotama became so attached to Hajime.
  • The first half of Episode 2 of Venus Project: Climax shows Eriko's past to present as she shows how she became a contestant for the Formula Venus tournament and an idol, which involves going through Rocky-esque training sequences. Episode 3 also has one focusing on Ruka Sovagasky and Episode 4 has one focusing on Miu Nureha. While Episodes 2 and 4 are narrated by Eriko and Miu respectively, Ruka's episode is instead narrated by her trainer.
  • Monster Rancher has "After the Rain," which fleshes out Holly's backstory, and "Monol's Story," which reveals Moo's backstory and how the Monster Rancher world almost came to an end.
  • Yo-Kai Watch normally follows the Three Shorts format however the episode about the day Jibanyan died was one entire episode. It involved Jibayan reliving the day and being given a second chance at life. He decided to die as living would mean his owner would die instead.

  • DC Comics' Zero Month is a month with all released comics being issue long flashbacks, serving as a follow-up to the Crisis Crossover Zero Hour.
  • Marvel Comics' Flashback Month, three years after DC's event, added a Retraux feel with 1960s-style covers, and all books being numbered "-1".
  • The Strontium Dog story "Portrait of a Mutant" was 18 issues long, 16 of which made up one long flashback to when Johnny fought in the mutant army as a teenager.
    • The "Ragnorak Job" from the same series is 21 episodes long all but two of which was one huge flashback of Johnny met his norm partner Wulf. Which leads into the series second biggest wham ending.
  • The New 52: Both Action Comics and Justice League begin with arcs showing how Superman and the League, respectively, got their start. Earth2 and Worlds' Finest begin with flashbacks showing how that universe's Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman died and how Huntress and Power Girl arrived on Prime Earth.
  • Issue #6 of Red Hood and the Outlaws takes place a month before the events of #1 and details how Red Hood met Starfire in the first place — and there are several other flashbacks within that context!
    • The TPB takes the novel route of opening with #6 before going on into #1.
  • BIONICLE comic 25: Birth of the Rahaga (also known under the confusing alternate title The Final Battle) was an entire issue dedicated to how the heroic Toa Hagah got mutated into the titular Rahaga creatures. Since comics 16-27 formed a flashback series to begin with, this makes it a Flashback Within a Flashback. Graphic novel 8, Legends of Bara Magna, was likewise a volume comprising three full-issue flashback stories.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe

    Fan Fic 


  • In William King's Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novels, both Space Wolf and Grey Hunter have brief introductions and epilogues in the "current date", but the bulk of both novels is what he is remembering. Grey Hunters is presented in the same format, but as something he is recounting.
  • Both the Ciaphas Cain and the Flashman novels that inspired it are based on the same idea. Each novel is part of the hero's own memoirs prepared for publication with additional material by a third party.
  • Frankenstein is the journal of the captain, mostly recounting Frankenstein's story of how he came to head toward the north pole. In turn, for part of his narration, Victor quotes the creature's flashback story. And in said flashback story, the monster tells the story of a family he acted as a Mysterious Protector for.
  • The whole Part II of It's Kind of a Funny Story is a How We Got Here-style flashback — subverted in that the book starts in the present, goes back to the past, and then continues on in the present.
  • A large section of The Odyssey is Odysseus sitting in Phaeacia telling his story. All the iconic adventures (Polyphemus, Circe, consulting the shade of Tiresias, the Sirens and so on) are in here since the main action picks up with Calypso releasing him.
  • The Time Machine is mostly based around this trope, as the story is told to the narrator (who notes it down and writes the book) and some of his friends by the time traveller after he came back from the future. For this reason, the book is mostly in dialogue from the aforementioned time traveller.
  • The Xanth book Crewel Lye is narrated mainly as a flashback, in the first person as opposed to the third person of most Xanth books.
  • The Lost Thing by Shaun Tam is told in first person past tense; the narrator couldn't remember any stories to tell the reader, so he talks about the time he found the lost thing instead. Or should that be Lost Thing?
  • Relativity uses these occasionally, as a way of fleshing-out some of the characters' backstories.
  • Wizard and Glass consists mostly of a story told by Roland about his past.

    Live Action TV 
  • I Spy episode "Return to Glory" featured Scott explaining to a government auditor why he and Kelly charged $5.00 for glass pants.
  • Workaholics has an entire episode devoted to how the three guys (and Karl) met in college, called "Flashback in the Day".
  • Little House on the Prairie: The sixth-season episode "The Little House Years," framed around Thanksgiving dinner, consisted of extended flashbacks from memorable episodes, including "A Harvest of Friends," "100 Mile Walk," "Bunny," "The Race" and "Journey Into the Spring."
  • The Season 4 Finale of Babylon 5 had a being from the far future looking at data archives of events from the station's near future.
  • On Buffy and Angel, the fact that several important characters are centuries old provided plenty of opportunities to base episodes around looks into their complicated histories.
    • The episodes "Fool For Love" and "Darla", which aired the same night, were companion pieces, showing many of the same events from two different perspectives (Spike and Darla).
  • Used repeatedly in The Dick Van Dyke Show in episodes about Rob and Laura's courtship and wedding, as well as their son's birth.
  • The Farscape episode "Scratch and Sniff", though with the added element that the story Crichton tells Pilot may not be entirely true. The episode "Dream a Little Dream" is another example.
    • DALD wasn't written as a flashback, though; it was originally shot as the season opener. Then it was decided that it didn't work well as the opener (not enough explosions, probably), so it got pushed back and framed as a flashback.
      • The reason DALD got pushed back was because half the regular characters don't appear in the episode and the major plot points aren't directly tackled. Production was subsequently nervous and moved up "Mind the Baby" to compensate. This is ironic considering the beginning of Season 4, though.
  • Firefly features the episode "Out Of Gas", which consists of one extended flashback, which shows how the crew came to abandon the ship, leaving Mal alone, and a series of other, shorter flashbacks that tell how they met in the first place.
  • Forever Knight and Highlander: The Series, which were filmed and aired at roughly at the same time, had very similar formats (the several-hundred-years-old hero would be reminded of events from his past, either by the current situation being directly relevant to the past flashback, or the two having thematic similarities. (Highlander tended to the first while Forever Knight tended to the second.) In at least one case in Forever Knight and two in Highlander ("1966" in Forever Knight and "The Stone of Scone" and "The Unusual Suspects" in Highlander) the bulk of the episode is the flashback, with the modern day little more than an excuse.
  • A popular narrative technique on Frasier which was used often. Most notably in the penultimate episode "Crock Tales" where an inanimate object is the basis for multiple flashbacks in different time periods of the show.
  • Friends did several Whole Episode Flashbacks, which taken together largely explain how Everyone Met Everyone (although Rachel meets Chandler for the first time on about three occasions).
  • The Golden Girls
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager has one in the episode where Amy's in labor. She and Ricky flashback to the day they met and got their babymaking on. There are also a few snippets showing what other characters were doing that same summer.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond had a few of these.
  • The Heroes episode "Six Months Ago" plays with this by having one character actually going into the past. The episode serves as a flashback for all other characters. The second-season episode "Four Months Ago" also does this.
    • The third season had the episode "Villains", which comprised of flashbacks of different characters at different times, including events happening at the same time as "Six Months Ago", and events taking place at the same time as the series pilot. Hiro, who in season 1 went back in time (see above) had a type of hallucination in which he went back to witness Angela Petrelli's (failed) murder of her husband.
  • The entirety of Good Morning, Miss Bliss was repackaged as a series of flashback episodes to Zack's junior high days in Saved by the Bell.
  • The House episodes Three Stories and The Mistake.
  • Arguably, How I Met Your Mother is a Flash Back Series, but let's not go there, especially considering the prevalence of flashbacks during some episodes. In one episode, while Ted tells Robin about how he told her sister how he lost his virginity, we end up (in essence) with a flashback in a flashback in a flashback in a flashback. The last episode before the writers' strike one upped this with Future Ted talking about Robin talking about Lily talking about Barney talking about his relationship with Wendy the Waitress: that's five levels of flashbackiness!
  • A second-season episode of JAG uses the technique to incorporate an episode which was produced for the first season but never aired due to the show's cancellation by NBC (JAG was later picked up by CBS). Harmon Rabb thinks his colleague Sarah "Mac" Mackenzie looks familiar as Catherine Bell plays both Mac and Harm's murdered girlfriend from the original episode.
  • Just Shoot Me! had an episode where Dennis, Elliot and Nina recount how they first met Jack and how he hired them on the spot. (Nina's flashback is not of their first meeting, however.)
  • Several episodes of Lost employ this trope. Season 2's "The Other 48 Days" is one long flashback showing what the Tailies (crash survivors from the tail section of the plane) were doing during the entire first season, while we were all watching the folks from the front end of the plane. Season 3's "Flashes Before Your Eyes" and season 4's "Meet Kevin Johnson" are almost entirely flashbacks, from Desmond and Michael respectively. Both have a brief frame story featuring only a few of the cast before plunging into flashbacks. Season 5 has two episodes like this, "316" (opens with Jack's return to the Island and flashes back to the night before) and "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham". The incredible season 6 episode "Ab Aeterno" takes place almost entirely in Richard's past, showing how he came to the island and how he became immortal. Season 6's "Across The Sea" is a flashback to the origins of Jacob and the Man In Black, which ends with a narrative flashback but chronological flashforward to season 1's "House of the Rising Sun".
    • Season 6's "Happily Ever After" is almost a Whole Episode Flash Sideways, with only a few minutes of frame story.
  • A first season episode of Prison Break, 'Brother's Keeper' employed this trope to reveal backstory on most of the main characters.
  • Revenge has had episodes which consisted almost entirely of flashbacks to events that happened years prior to the series' start.
  • The Shield featured a flashback episode called "Co-Pilot" that was dropped into the middle of the second season because the makeup crew on the series needed time to figure out how to create a certain injury effect. The episode follows the formation of the Strike Team, and how all the main characters met.
  • Star Trek, on frequent occasions:
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "In the Pale Moonlight" and "Trials and Tribble-ations" used the Captain's Log variant. "Necessary Evil" is a Noir Episode showing Odo investigating a crime related to a murder he investigated during the Cardassian occupation, showing how he became a security officer and met Quark and Kira.
    • The finale of Star Trek: Enterprise is framed as a holodeck flashback by characters who weren't even there, hundreds of years in the future; this was accomplished through use of Star Trek: The Next Generation's holodeck and two of its cast members.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series has "The Menagerie", in which the flashbacks consist of footage from the unaired first pilot.
  • Two Guys and a Girl
  • Ugly Betty skipped an early episode but, due to the necessary plot points in it, it was repackaged as a Whole Episode Flashback. (In overseas distribution, some countries used the edited version as the eleventh episode, some removed the repackaging and showed it as the fourth episode, while in Australia, Channel Seven removed the repackaging but kept it as the eleventh episode. No, I'm not upset about that...!)
  • The West Wing
  • The Wonder Years is, by default, a flashback series.
  • Most of a season of I Love Lucy consisted of quickly framed frames for reruns of previous episodes (including some which CBS didn't air before). This was so Lucille Ball could complete her pregnancy off-camera.
  • The Sliders episode "Post-Traumatic Slide Syndrome" is a story told by Rembrandt. Another example is "The Last of Eden" produced before John Rhys-Davies' firing (thus, Arturo's death), but aired after it, which was introduced by Wade and Rembrandt remembering and talking about the events of the episode.
  • Some of My Name Is Earl episodes, like "Frank Factor" or "No Heads and a Duffel Bag", when Earl is in jail or in a coma and can't continue with his list, feature whole episode flashbacks.
  • The Fugitive episode "The Girl from Little Egypt" has Kimble recalling the circumstances of his wife's murder, and the subsequent trial that led to his conviction of the crime, while recuperating from an automobile accident.
  • M*A*S*H had a number of these, as in the episodes where a character is writing a letter home or the one where Hawkeye is filling out his last will and testament.
  • Dad's Army was a flashback series, insofar as the first episode began in the present (ie 1968) and then flashed back to 1939.
  • Ideal did this with The Past.
  • Dirty Sexy Money had an episode called "The Facts" that seemed to be made up almost entirely of cut subplots from the show, aired after those plot elements were relevant.
  • Doctor Who
    • The epsiode aired after "The Wheel in Space," where Zoe joins the Doctor, was a rerun of "The Evil of the Daleks" so it was set up a the end of ''Wheel" as the Doctor psychically telling Zoe what she can expect from travelling with him by projecting that serial into her brain.
    • The 1986 seasonconsisted of two Four Episode Flashbacks (the latter of which was actually tampered with - we never find out what really happened), a Four Episode Flash Forward, and a two-part finale to wrap it up.
    • "The Night of the Doctor" was an online episode that flashed back to an unseen moment in the Doctor's past, long before he picked up the cool bow tie or even the sand shoes.
  • Sofa, the last episode of Men Behaving Badly (before it was revived for three specials) consists largely of flashbacks: at first these deal with the history of the titular sofa, but then they branch out into pretty much being Gary's entire biography (and a bit of Tony's), climaxing in the scene where Gary and Dorothy first met, which had been obliquely referred to in previous episodes (trousers on the head) but never seen.
  • All in the Family had a couple of these. One recounts the day Archie and Mike first met, while another (a two-parter) revisits Mike and Gloria's wedding.
  • In the second season of White Collar, the episode Forging Bonds uses the frame device of Peter giving Neal full immunity for one night to tell him everything he knows about Vincent Adler, Neal's old boss, who they're trying to take down. It goes back eight years and shows us how Neal first met Mozzie, Kate, Peter, and Alex. We also find out that Peter himself put together the white collar division of the New York FBI office, the plan that led to Neal's arrest was Diana's idea, and Jones was the one who handcuffed Neal when the bust went down.
    • And also, Mozzie had a toupee and goatee.
  • The X-Files episode "Per Manum" was one of these, with an attempt at telling the audience how baby William could have been conceived...but wasn't.
    • In "Cigarette Smoking Man", we get an important part of the backstory for the eponymous character.
    • In season five's "Unusual Suspects," we learn all about how the Lone Gunmen met each other and Mulder and became...the Lone Gunmen.
    • Also in season five, "Travelers" flashes back to a 1980s Mulder asking Arthur Dales about his father's involvement in a case, and then flashes back even further to the 1950s as Dales tells his tale.
  • The Big Bang Theory episode "The Staircase Implementation" flashes back to when Leonard became Sheldon's roommate, and explains the events leading to the elevator breaking.
  • Mad About You had one of these showing how Jamie and Paul first met, and another one depicting their marriage.
  • The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was a Whole Flashback Series as well, with an old Indy telling us of his past adventures.
  • Fringe did this with the episode "Peter", and season 3's "Subject 13".
  • Bones - the 100th episode was a flashback to a case Bones and Booth solved before the pilot (and the UST that sizzled from day one), with a framing device of Booth and Bones telling Sweets about the innacuracies in his book. The case itself was pretty mediocre, but the anvil drop at the end? Classic.
  • Bewitched uses this trope as a flimsy excuse for a rerun, where an entire episode will be replayed under the guise of a flashback
  • FlashForward plays with this trope. At first the episodes are split between new scenes in present day and new scenes in future day. Then episodes became split between new scenes from present day and FlashBacks of the Flash Forwards and FlashBacks of scenes from the 'present day' timeline, so that about each episode is half new footage and half old footage.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • Season 4's "Tabula Rasa" had the team investigating a serial killer who just woke up from a coma. The episode drifts back and forth between the present: trying to determine whether he really had amnesia as he claimed, and the past: the initial investigation. Bonus points for it being the first time Garcia worked with the team.
    • The 100th episode features the cast explaining their actions (and Hotch's. Mostly Hotch's) at the culmination of the Reaper arc. Each explanation will be followed by a flashback of the characters doing exactly what they have to justify to their boss.
    • The season 7 premiere ("It Takes a Village") had the return of Prentiss and the team explaining their actions in a simliar fashion to the 100th episode except that they were talking to a Senate commitee this time.
  • Sanctuary: The Season 3 episode "Normandy" is set entirely in 1944, and shows how The Five (and Will's grandfather) were involved with D-Day.
  • Kamen Rider Double's section in Movie Wars Core was dedicated to Sokichi Narumi/Kamen Rider Skull's Origin Story.
    • They also have a Whole Movie Flashback to Kamen Rider Eternal in Kamen Rider Double Returns.
  • Torchwood:
    • The episode "Fragments" is primarily flashbacks by each member of Torchwood regarding how they joined.
    • Miracle Day episode "Immortal Sins" consists primarily of flashbacks to Jack's relationship with a man named Angelo in 1920s New York.
  • Suits used this type of flashback to detail the events leading to Daniel Hardman's first departure from the firm and the start of Mike's career taking LSATs for students.
  • Two notable ones in Charmed:
    • Season 3's "Pre-Witched" shows the sisters six months before the start of the series right before their grandmother died.
    • Season 6's "Chris-Crossed" is a flashback of Chris's past, which is technically a flash-forward since Chris is from the future. Doubles as a Wham Episode in that it's revealed that not only is Chris actually half-witch/half-whitelighter like Paige, but also in the future Wyatt is an evil overlord.
  • The Jeffersons had two episodes both flashing back to when George first opened his dry cleaning business. One of them took place around the time of Martin Luther King Jr's assassination. The episode aired on the same date as well.
  • Teen Wolf has two episodes where the majority is a flashback being told by one character to another. "Visionary" is narrated by Peter and Gerard, explaining both Deucalion's and Derek's backstory. "The Fox and the Wolf" is Noshiko Yukimura telling the origin of the Nogitsune.
  • Done at least twice in NCIS. In season 5's "Requiem" and in season 8's "Swan Song", the latter using a framing device to explain the death of Mike Franks.
  • Penny Dreadful episode "Closer than Sisters" follows Vanessa from her childhood right up to the point she joined forces with Sir Malcolm, with only a couple of scenes at a writing desk set in the present tense.
  • You're The Worst: The first two thirds of "Constant Horror And Bone-Deep Dissatisfaction" depict the two years in Jimmy and Gretchen's lives leading up to the pilot. After that it picks up in the present day.
  • The penultimate episode of Glee, "2009", showcases previously-unseen events that occurred before and during the events of the pilot, such as Artie's audition for Glee Club and the five original members discussing whether Finn should stay.
  • The Mentalist's 100th episode note  shows the first case Patrick Jane worked on with the CBI, shortly after his wife was murdered and before he was officially a consultant.



  • The Navy Lark has done a few, including one chronicling Navigation Officer, Sub-Lieutenant Phillips' naval training (he was intending to join the army, but got lost looking for Military Academy at Sandhurst and arrived at HMS Dartmouth by accident), and one which set the cast in the Napoleonic Era as Nelson's and his Crew.
  • American Top 40: To celebrate the series' fifth birthday in 1975, Casey Kasem created a flashback episode, with the episode essentially being a rebroadcast of the first program, from July 4, 1970.
  • The Men From The Ministry had two, A Back-dated Problem and The Fastest Brolly in the West, where majority of the episodes are spent on the two pairs of One and Two's ancestors, who worked on the General Assistance Department during the Elizabethan era and the Wild West era, respectively.

  • The Glass Menagerie
  • Stephen Sondhiem's Follies.
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • The framing device for Wicked starts out with someone asking Glinda if it's true she knew the Wicked Witch of the West, to which she says, "Our paths did cross...in school." Cue flashback from their first day at Shiz on to the end of the show.
  • The way Thrill Me is set up, we start at Nathan's parole hearing, then swap between hearing what he's telling the parole board and what happened.

  • The 2004-2005 Metru Nui saga in BIONICLE was a massive two-year (originally planned to be one, but Executive Meddling kept on pushing it) flashback, with many of the toys released at that time representing former versions of pre-existing figures. It also had its own book series (Adventures), two Direct-to-DVD movies and numerous comics (one of them being a flashback itself). BIONICLE co-creator Bob Thompson originally wanted to do more flashback years, but after he had left LEGO in 2005, the company decided against this, reasoning that flashback toy-lines are too confusing for kids.

    Video Games 
  • Deus Ex: The Fall: The opening mission is a flashback to how Ben left the Tyrants.
  • Hitman: Contracts. The entire game is an extended flashback that remakes the first Hitman game (Contracts is the third) with updated graphics and gameplay enhancements, as well as retelling some of the events in a different light to reflect the unreliable memories of the protagonist or him seeing it in a different light after all this time has passed. The framing story between missions, and the final mission after the flashbacks are over, is set in what would later be revealed to be the middle of Blood Money.
  • The first case of the third Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game is one flashback to when Mia and Phoenix first met. Later, the fourth case is a flashback to before they first met.
    • Similarly, in Apollo Justice, the fourth case has you going back to seven years ago, to the very trial that got Phoenix disbarred.
    • And in Ace Attorney Investigations the second and third cases are flashbacks to the day before the first case, and the fourth case flashes back to seven year before that, when Edgeworth first met Kay while solving the murder of her father. It's less confusing in context.
      • And the second Investigations game goes all the way back to the last case of Gregory Edgeworth, Miles Edgeworth's father, nearly twenty years ago.
  • The SNES game Plok features an entire world based on Plok flashing back to the memory of his grandfather, the first man to explore Akrillic Island. In one of the more cool and elaborate gimmicks of any game of its time, everything in "Old Akrillic" is rendered in black and white.
  • Halo 3: ODST is mostly about the rookie finding pieces of destroyed equipment, and then the flashback of how the equipment ended up that way.
    • Halo: Reach has a beginning scene where the player character's helmet is found on the ground, which sets up the rest of the game climaxing with the death of said character and his/her team, their lives sacrificed to bring Cortana to the Pillar of Autumn by orders of ONI, the UNSC's intelligence arm. This sets into motion the events of the first game.
  • The first chapter of Final Fantasy Tactics is Ramza retelling the events in his past that got him to the point of where he is now, and Delita's backstory, to Agrias and Gafgarion.
  • The Call of Duty series has a few in later installments:
    • Modern Warfare features a two-mission long flashback - where Captain Price talks about how he first met the now-identified Big Bad as Lefttenant Price under Captain McMillian.
    • Black Ops is mostly (like Halo 3: ODST) the protagonist talking about where he was stationed before under torture. However, there is a rare triple flashback. Alex Mason, in 1968 tells his interrogator how he was in a Russian gulag in 1963. While there, his prison buddy Reznov tells Alex about an event that happened in 1945. Within Victor's flashback, Victor is talking to his friend Dimitri about what happened in Stalingrad in 1942.
    • Black Ops 2 has a good portion of the game set in the 1980s, per Woods' flashbacks.
  • The main action of Elemental Gearbolt is one big flashback. It begins with a ruined city, then puts the player in the role of the destroyers who caused it.
  • In Fire Emblem Blazing Sword, there are two of these. One comes from Archsage Athos, who explains his and Nergal's shared past and sheds light on the city of Arcadia, where dragons and humans live peacefully; the other is from Nils's POV, and is about him explaining his and Ninian's past to Eliwood.
  • Two of the tie-in comics for Fire Emblem Awakening are these, with one describing Emmeryn's harsh first days of ruling and the other explaining exactly how Lissa became a Shepherd and then found the Avatar.

  • Gunnerkrigg Court, Chapter 16, "A Ghost Story", shows young Antimony's first meeting with The Guides, and the first time she helped a ghost move on. It's presented with the framing device of then-current-day Annie telling the story to Kat.
    • Chapter 22, "Ties", shows a day in the lives of Annie's and Kat's parents (specifically, the day that group photo was taken). This time, there is no framing device.
  • How I Killed Your Master appears to be setting up for a Whole Webcomic Flashback.
  • Chapter Five of Everyday Heroes, where Jane tells the story of why she gave up being a villainess.
  • Chapter 13 of Rumors of War shows a scene from after the events of the first Story Arc, during the Time Skip.
  • Dragon Ball Multiverse has one every even chapter since chapter 8. Each one focusing in one (or more) different universe. Chapters 8 and 12 retell the Broly stories, Chapter 10 has U12 Trunks reviving Android 16, Chapter 14, 16, and 18 showcase Universes 16, 17, and 6, respectively, and Chapters 20-21 tell the beginnings of Universe 3.
  • Act 5 Act 1 of Homestuck is a whole act flashback focusing on the trolls, without any input from the kids until the very end. Until it turns out the kids had a much greater influence on the troll's universe than anyone previously thought.
  • Chapter 10 of Todd Allison & the Petunia Violet, which reveals why Petunia traveled to Melbourne and how she first met Todd. There's also the two side stories "The Daydreamings of Todd Allison" and "All Or Nothing Gamble", which show some events in the childhoods of Todd and Petunia's brothers, respectively.
  • El Goonish Shive: The first 6 strips of the "Hidden Genesis" storyline (starting here) and the first 4 strips of the "In The Shadows" storyline (starting here) are set 10 years previous to the day the rest of the strips of those storylines take place. Most of this strip takes place the previous October and this one takes place when Tedd was just a baby.
  • The Silver Eye is riddled with flashbacks, but the only chapter to be entirely a flashback is chapter 9, which presents us with Apen Shephard's backstory.
  • The Zombie Hunters takes it to a whole other level with a six year-long flashback that shows How We Got Here (ie: the aftermath of a near-disastrous mission under series protagonist Jenny's leadership) in excruciating detail.
  • Chapter 27 of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Why A Gorilla?, had McNinja in his college years investigating and eliminating a vampire hyper-intelligent gorilla. Also explaining how he met Judy.
    • Chapter 29, First Generation Ninja American goes further back to McNinja's childhood when first met his grandfather and taking his first job as an assassin. Also explaining the incident involving his name and a wizard.

    Web Original 
  • We're Alive has a four episode flashback telling how Kalani became The Mole as told through his journal.note 

    Western Animation 
  • Aladdin: The Series had an episode about how Aladdin and Abu first met.
  • Numerous episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
    • The first one would be 'The Storm' which goes a long way to prove that Aang and Zuko are Not So Different, as we see Aang coping with the pressure of being the Chosen One while Iroh narrates how Zuko gained his scar.
    • Next we had 'Zuko Alone' which gives us even more of the prince's history; his competition with his sister, the deception of the court, and his father's willingness to murder him, which resulted in the death of his grandfather and the disappearance of his mother.
    • Then we had "Appa's Lost Days" which flashed back to when Appa was kidnapped, and results in a real Tear Jerker as we watch the bison become lost and abused.
    • Finally, the episode "The Avatar and The Firelord" which shows the once-friendship of Avatar Roku and Sozin, the man who started the war.
  • Cro consisted entirely of such eps, with a Framing Device of a mammoth named Phil telling a Hispanic scientist and some kid about the good old days with the titular Cro.
  • Spoofed in the Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy episode "Every Which Way But Ed". It starts In Medias Res and has Eddy trigger a flashback. Eventually there are flashbacks within those flashbacks, and the Eds get lost among them in one of the show's No Fourth Wall moments. The episode ends with Ed going too fast going back to the initial flashback setting up another flashback to the day the Eds first met.
  • The Simpsons has featured episodes about each of the children being born. In addition, a contested episode about how Marge and Homer first met and fell in love was also made.
    • "Dancin' Homer" is a flashback being told by Homer to the patrons at Moe's Tavern.
    • "Homer's Barbershop Quartet" is about Homer telling his kids about his days as a famous singer with Barney, Skinner and Apu.
    • Several others, including "The Way We Was", "I Married Marge", "Lisa's First Word", "Lisa's Sax", "And Maggie Makes Three", "The Way We Weren't" and "That 90s Show".
  • Every episode of Back to the Future The Animated Series was a Whole Episode Flashback, as Doc would tell the audience about past adventures.
  • The Legion Of Superheroes and the Teen Titans series (episode "Go") each had a Whole Episode Flashback regarding how the teams were first formed. However, the Teen Titans episode doesn't feature a Framing Device.
  • Most of the events in the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" are being recounted by the three main characters at a trial (a spoof of the classic Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Menagerie", mentioned above). Ironically, the flashback only begins a few days beforehand and eventually catches up with itself.
  • The hour-long SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Truth or Square" (made in celebration of the show's tenth anniversary) has the characters reminiscing as they celebrate the Krusty Krab's "eleventy-seventh" anniversary. Thankfully, it avoids going the Clip Show route.
  • Super Mario World: MAMA LUIGI?
  • Gargoyles did this often, most notably with the four-part "City of Stone" story arc that explained the back stories of Macbeth and Demona.
  • Any episode of ''Life with Loopy''.
  • "Rudy's First Adventure" and "French Fry Falls" from ChalkZone, to be specific, they're shorts from Oh Yeah! Cartoons, which has the same storyline, but two years before.
  • The Danny Phantom episodes "What You Want" and "The Fenton Menace" are entire flashbacks told respectively from Tucker's and Jazz's points of view.
  • The Venture Bros. episode The Invisible Hand of Fate details the origin of Phantom Limb, among other things, from the point of view of Master Billy Quizboy.
  • In Super Secret Secret Squirrel episode "Scirocco Mole", Secret and Morocco appear on The Newlywed Game parody Platonic Partners gameshow (along with Yogi Bear/Booboo and the 2 Stupid Dogs), where when Morocco is asked where he and Secret met up, he says "at the gelatin store", when they really met in Morocco. Secret then uses a machine to knock the two unconscious with a giant mallet to trigger a flashback. In this flashback, Secret mistakes Morocco for his Evil Twin brother Scirocco, who made Morocco dress up as Scirocco to lure Secret into a trap. Secret asks Morocco why his brother is like that, then Morocco goes into a flashback where as babies, Scirocco is beating Morocco with a baby rattle. Morroco asks Scirocco why he's doing it, and Scirocco explains that it's because he's evil, and goes into a flashback to when they were embryos, and embryo Scirocco is beating Morocco with his tail. When Morocco asks why he's evil, Scirocco prepares to go into a flashback "back when our parents met". Before the flashback can proceed, Secret says "I think I got the idea" and ends Morocco's flashbacks, and just as well since Morocco lost track. Apparently a flashback within a flashback within a flashback within a flashback was just too much. More likely they just couldn't show what happened during their conception...
  • The Galaxy Rangers episode "Supertroopers" is framed by Killbane and his fellow renegade Artificial Humans kidnapping Senator Wheiner and stealing a biological weapon. Most of the episode, however, is told in flashback as Shane remembers the events that destroyed the project.
  • The Generator Rex episode, "Promises, Promises", focuses on how the title character jonied Providence and how White Knight became a Bubble Boy.
  • The X-Men episode "Descent" is mainly set in Victorian Britain and deals with the origin of Mister Sinister. Said origin is seen via flashbacks, as an aged ancestor of Professor Xavier's explains to law enforcement the threat posed by Sinister and what he himself witnessed. Notably, at the very end, the episode jumps to the present-day and Xavier is seemingly reflecting on events viewers had just seen.
  • The Eek! The Cat episode "The Whining Pirates of Tortuga", about a younger Eek's life with pirates.
  • The first season of Babar consisted of an adult Babar telling his kids stories about the founding of Celestville and his adventures as a boy king.
  • The Recess episode "One Stayed Clean" was a flashback in the form of a letter from T.J. being sent to Gus's dad, and "The Girl was Trouble", when Gretchen explains to Sue Bob Murphy about how she got in trouble.
  • Teen Titans episode "Go" showed the five main characters becoming a team. Though it doesn't include a Framing Device which one or all of the teammates reminisce.
  • The Transformers Prime episode "Out Of The Past", which shows how Cliffjumper and Arcee became partners, and is framed by Miko's frustration with Bulkhead's injuries, and Arcee reminiscing about Cliff.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan has two of these in "Shadows of Youth" and "Escape from Galaluna." Literally the whole episodes are a flashback, as there's no Framing Device.
  • Samurai Jack had "Young Jack in Africa" which takes place during the montage in the first episode and lacks a framing device. "Jack Remembers the Past" does this with the Framing Device of remembering his original home as he walks through it.
  • Moral Orel had two of these: "Help" was about how Bloberta met Clay, the present day scenes are from the end of "Nature: Part 2." "Passing" is about Clay's childhood, the present day scenes are from a scene toward the beginning of "Nature: Part 1." Beforel Orel could be considered this, although that's more of a prequel.
  • Rugrats had "Angelica's Moving Away" which showed how the babies first met. There's also "Sour Pickles," which flashbacks back to when Stu and Drew were babies—- Baby Stu is notably voiced by the same voice actress as Tommy.
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien has two:
    • One, "Escape From Aggregor", describes the Andromeda aliens' capture by and escape from Aggregor before the beginning of the series.
    • The other, "Moonstruck", concerns how Grandpa Max and Verdona met. Their marriage is Another Story for Another Time.
  • The ChalkZone episodes "Rudy's First Adventure" and "French Fry Falls" had flashbacks to Rudy's earlier adventures in ChalkZone when he was eight. The flashbacks came from the first two shorts from Oh Yeah! Cartoons: "ChalkZone" and "The Amazin' River" respectively. Because the rest of the shorts took place during the show's current timeline, the show easily made them part of the first season without making them into flashbacks.
  • The "Summer Camp" episode in Dan Vs. was basically Dan reminiscing about his revenge scheme against some bullies and how he met Chris.
  • Over the Garden Wall begins In Medias Res, with our protagonists already Trapped in Another World; they don't seem entirely sure themselves how they got there and only vaguely allude to events before they came to Unknown. The ninth and penultimate episode finally explains how they got there, with only the last minute or so taking place in the present.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man begins with Peter already working as Spider-Man. During the episode "Intervention," near the end of the first season, his struggles with The Symbiote lead to a Battle in the Center of the Mind which reveal the full details of his origin story.
  • Steven Universe:
    • "An Indirect Kiss" opens with a bummed-out Steven having a picnic with Connie. Connie wonders what's bothering Steven, and why the Crystal Gems have built a fence around the cliffside; Steven relates the events of the episode in a flashback.
    • "Story for Steven" and "We Need to Talk" are both stories told by Greg, regarding his relationship with Rose.
    • "The Answer" is a story told by Garnet, about how Ruby and Sapphire first met about 6000 years ago.
    • "Log Date 7 15 2" is told through Steven listening to Peridot's logs while she freaks out over her recent defection to the Crystal Gems.
  • The original Biker Mice from Mars cartoon ended with a three-part episode called "Once Upon a Time on Mars". While attempting to thwart Lawrence Limburger's latest scheme, the titular Biker Mice narrate to their human ally Charley Davidson flashbacks that show what Throttle, Vinnie, and Modo went through when they were still fighting Plutarkians on Mars before they went to Earth.
  • We Bare Bears has done a few episodes showing the three main characters as cubs and their early adventures.
  • The Gravity Falls episode "A Tale of Two Stans" consists mainly of Stan's backstory. It also details the backstory of his recently introduced twin brother Stanford, along with the relationship between the two brothers.

Alternative Title(s): Flashback Arc, Full Episode Flashback