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Predecessor Incident

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An event that predates the Story Arc but is the direct cause for the conflicts in it.

This trope has been Nuked
Proposed By:
Arcana4th on Mar 14th 2019 at 12:55:45 PM
Last Edited By:
Arcana4th on Mar 14th 2019 at 7:07:44 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

The Predecessor Incident is a given event within a story that predates the current story arc, but that is directly the cause for it.

Tropes Are Tools, and this happen to simply be an useful, simple one. A predecessor incident can streamline a story by simplifying the cause of the story to be happening in the first place. For example, the cause for a war the heroes are trying to stop is the assassination of a princess and misplaced blame in another nation, or the reason why a house is haunted is because a troubled woman took her own life there. It gives the viewer/reader/player a clear-cut reason for why things are happening and often how to stop it. However, many stories differ between using the incident for the usual worldbuilding and revealing it in the prologue or treating it as a mystery and something that must be found out by the main heroes. Some writers also mix these two variations and make the incident known by everyone, except that a later part of of the story reveals that there was more to it than what previously thought, or even that there is a predecessor incident to that.

This is a particular popular trope in horror fiction, when used at the same time of a Start of Darkness, with the haunting/killer having had a previous reason to try to harm the main charcters.

May or may nor overlap with Start of Darkness and Freudian Excuse, especially when the incident is what causes the villain to act in the story in the first place, though not necessarily, as the villain might have nothing to do with the incident or already be a villain by the time the incident happens.


    Film - Live Action 
  • Friday the 13th: The entire franchise was kicked off by Jason, as a kid, drowning in Crystal Lake during a prank while the people who were supposed to be watching over him were distracted having sex. The subsequent massacres he and his mom cause are traceable back to that moment.
  • The Haunted Mansion: Elizabeth's death is what caused the mansion to become haunted, since it subsequently caused Grace to haunt the place and keep the souls of everyone around there trapped with him until he can overcome his sorrow.

    Live Action TV 
  • Scream: The series' current string of murders is connected to a previous massacre where a deformed teenager named Brandon James killed various people during the school prom, and was subsequently killed by the police. The real story runs a tad deeper. The teenager actually had an affair with his childhood friend and the school's Jerk Jock's girlfriend, which got her pregnant and caused him and his friends to beat him down, prompting Brandon to get revenge on them during prom night but things got out of hand and his friend would give the baby away to adoption.

    Video Games 
  • Bayonetta: The first game's conflict was caused when a Umbra Witch and a Sage of Light had fallen in love, which subsequently kick-started the war between them, and would cause Bayonetta herself to become the cornerstone of the conflict.
  • Fatal Frame: Almost every game of the franchise happens because a long time ago in a certain place, a creepy, likely unholy ritual went wrong, causing a vengeful, powerful ghost to turn the place in a haunted hellscape and the player character must either finish the ritual or put the ghost to rest.
  • Xenoblade: The current conflict is about Shulk trying to get revenge for his destroyed hometown, and it seems that the predecessor incident is the war between Bionis and Mechonis that Dunban took part in. The truth is that during the en of the second act and through the third act of the game, the story keeps revealing to have incidents predating and that caused the others. The war, for example, was caused because Egil tried to avenge his giant friend who was killed by Zanza, and the end of the game implies that everything started when an experiment went wrong in a space station, causing the world to re-start and create the Bionis and the Mechonis, with Zanza becoming a mad god because of it.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time the show has a few of these, depending on what the main conflict is. Generally speaking, the destruction of the world during the Mushroom War is this, as it set up the world that would eventually become Ooo, as well as the creatures that live in it. Even before that, one can argue that the coming of the Green Catalyst Comet to the world is this, since it both makes the Lich exist in Earth and later cause the Mushroom Wars as well as cause for the creation of the Ice King's crown which caused him to become evil in the first place.

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