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Call Back / Live-Action Films

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"Son of a bitch, he stole my line."

Films with their own pages

  • American Animals: In the dramatization of the heist, the crew is driving toward the university, and the real Spencer is seen standing on the lawn of a house, regretfully watching them pass by. In the end, the real Spencer stands on his lawn and imagines the car passing by. Each version includes the same shot of him from the car's POV.
  • Annie (2014):
    • When Annie seeks to get to know her "real parents" she asks them if they do things that were mentioned in the lyrics of "Maybe".
    • One of the girls complains about being woken up from a dream where she was ice skating. They get to do just that at the Moonquake premiere. They also get to do at least some approximation of all the things the other girls suggest would be more interesting to dream about.
    • Annie's speech at the end of the film includes the words "the sun will come out tomorrow".
  • Big Trouble in Little China. When Jack and Wang first go after Lo Pan, Jack asks why they don't just call the cops. Wang responds "Cops got better things to do than get killed." Later, one of the others asks why they don't call the cops and this time Jack says "Cops got better things to do than get killed."
  • The Bourne Series
    • In a beautiful moment at the end of The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne says to the government assassin sent to kill him, "look at what they make you give", harking back to Clive Owen's final words to him in The Bourne Identity.
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    • Another interesting example is a cameo from Chris Cooper as Conklin (from Identity) in The Bourne Supremacy, in which he speaks a key piece of dialogue ("Training's over.") that Bourne remembers in the first film.
  • Canada Russia 72, a Canadian tv movie about the fiercely fought hockey tournament between the Canaians and the Soviets had a surprisingly touching example of this. Earlier in the film, Canadian goalie Ken Dryden leaves the dressing room and sees Soviet goalie Vladislav Tretiak practice his goaltending by bouncing rubber balls against the wall. Startled, Tretiak drops a ball and Dryden picks it up, tosses it back to him and they smile at each other. Later in the film, Ken Dryden is seen bouncing rubber balls against the wall. The fact that they are now friends makes it even better.
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  • Chuky in "The Curse of Chucky " recalls victims from previous films.
    Chucky: "25 years, since then a lot of families have come and gone. The Barclay's, The Kencaid's, The Tilly's but, Nica your family was always my favorite...and now you're the last one standing so to speak."
  • The various endings of Clue are filled with call backs to earlier in the film: "Too late." "I told you I didn't do it." "Would anyone care for fruit or dessert?" And so on and so forth.
  • The Color of Money has several call backs to The Hustler:
    • After beating Eddie, Amos asks him, "Do I need to lose weight?" (a reference to Minnesota Fats from the original)
    • At one point, Eddie's girlfriend Janelle says she likes him because he has "character". In The Hustler, Eddie is told he's a loser because he doesn't have character.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982): At the end of The Battle of the Mounds, Conan gives the salute he used in his pit fighter days.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, this is how Mercedes recognizes the Count's real identity, with his habit of twirling his hair.
  • D.E.B.S.
    • Two jokes, one near the beginning of the movie and one near the end.
      Max: Who's your best friend?
      Amy: You are my best friend.
      Max: And what did I say to you the very first day at the Academy?
      Amy: "That's my bunk, bitch."
      Max: After that.
    • And:
      Amy: What did I say to you the first time we met?
      Max: "High-protein diets are overrated."
      Amy: After that.
  • In Live Free or Die Hard, John McClane is being held at gunpoint by Thomas Gabriel.
    Thomas Gabriel: On your tombstone, it should read, "Always in the wrong place, at the wrong time!"
    John McClane: How 'bout... "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker"?!
  • Near the start of The Double, a man waves to Simon just before he jumps off a building. At the climax, Simon waves to James just before he jumps off the same building.
  • Feeding Frenzy: In the opening scene, Mr. Plinkett tells a prostitute to lick his cane suggestively and mutters, "Yeah... eat it with your mouth!" Later, Martin is having A Date with Rosie Palms while watching television and mutters the same thing to the screen.
  • In Finding Neverland, the "It's a secret." ("It's a play.") lines to Sylvia by her sons are first used when they are trying to get her to come see Peter's play. They are used again at the end of the movie when they're bringing her to another surprise performance.
  • In Good Will Hunting, the psychiatrist Sean tells Will a story of how when he met his wife for the first time, he told his friends, "I gotta see about a girl." When Will leaves a note for Sean explaining that he's left Boston to reunite with his ex-girlfriend, he uses the same line. Sean lampshades the call back.
  • The Hunger Games: Snow explains to Seneca why the Hunger Games needs a champion, and why it isn't simply an annual public execution. Peeta buys this at the end, asking Katniss to kill him so that District 12 will have their champion. Katniss, by now, realizes that she would do far more good as a martyr, and tells Peeta there doesn't need to be a champion at all.
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1:
    • A woman in the field hospital asks Katniss about her fake pregnancy. Katniss explains that she miscarried.
    • Snow whispering to himself "Moves and countermoves", a line from Plutarch in the previous film.
  • In Ip Man 2, Ip is asked by Wong Leung if he could take on ten people at once. In the first film, he did just that. The payoff comes when he takes on even more people to save Leung later and Leung reminds him of the query.
  • When Lucy drops Casey off for a Christmas party in Irreconcilable Differences, her ex-husband Albert raps on her car window and tries to repeat the first words he said to her ("Say, I was wondering, could you give me a lift into St. Louis or any town that's got an airport?"), but she cuts him off with "That's not funny."
  • Land of the Blind: "Nothing is better than a big juicy steak."
  • At the start of The Last Witch Hunter, when 36th Dolan pulls out a weighty journal to record Kaulder's history, the witch hunter mentions that he had bought him a tablet exactly so that the man wouldn't have to tote around a huge book. By the end of the film, 36th Dolan uses the book to swat out a Plague Fly and murmurs "Bet you couldn't do that with an iPad."
  • The Cracks of Doom being visited twice in The Lord of the Rings, each time with one character urging another to destroy the Ring, and the other deciding not to. First Elrond and Isildur, and two and a half films later, Sam and Frodo.
  • Maleficent: Maleficent saves Diaval from a farmer's net when they first meet. In the movie's climax he returns the favor, net and all.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Iron Man, Tony (a rich man) was captured by a terrorist group and forced to build weapons for them. In Iron Man 2, Ivan Vanko (a poor man) is captured by a wealthy company and forced to build weapons for them. Both groups of captors learned their mistake.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron:
      • The film begins with the Avengers fighting HYDRA, who returned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
      • Also from Winter Soldier—one of the personnel on Nick Fury's new Helicarrier is the same guy who refused to launch Project Insight, even with Crossbones pointing a gun at his head. Presumably, Fury picked him for his loyalty.
      • Baron von Strucker is using Loki's scepter from The Avengers as the Plot Device in his evil plan.
      • HYDRA has energy weapons similar to those used in Captain America: The First Avenger. These are indicated to be either reverse-engineered Chitauri technology, as he has one of the large transport creatures strung up in his lab, or the old HYDRA designs powered by the scepter instead of the Tesserract.
      • Tony uses upgraded versions of his Iron Legion from Iron Man 3, which soon get hijacked by Ultron.
      • At one point, Thor chokes Tony, like his brother Loki did in The Avengers.
      • By the end of Hulk's rampage caused by Scarlet Witch's manipulation, Hulk lifts his head out of some rubble and gets knocked out by a punch to the side of the head from Tony in the Hulkbuster armor, mirroring what Hulk did to Thor in the previous film.
      • In The Avengers, Thor accidentally supercharges Iron Man's armour with his lighting, and later levels an entire forest by accident when he uses Mjolnir on Cap's shield. In this film, he and Cap use the latter technique deliberately to take out a HYDRA platoon, and Thor uses his lightning to supercharge the Vision's body and bring him to life. Amusingly, some of those things from the first film were flagged by critics for seeming like a Chekhov's Gun that didn't pay off. Both of them paid off in Avengers: Endgame: Thor not only supercharges Tony's latest suit with his lightning on purpose, but the suit in question turns out to have been specifically designed to make use of the extra juice for firing off a Beam Spam Alpha Strike. Cap also uses Mjolnir at his shield in tandem during the final battle, first throwing Mjolnir at the flying shield to make the hammer violently bounce back and hit Thanos from behind hard enough to make him drop his sword, then hitting Thanos in the face twice in rapid succession by first throwing the shield, then hitting it with Mjolnir when it bounces off to launch it again.
      • During the party scene, Sam mentions that he's doing work on their "missing persons" case while Steve is off being an Avenger, referring to the ongoing hunt for the former Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes.
      • Thor pours the Captain some Gargle Blaster that can leave a regular person in a stupor. Captain America: The First Avenger established that it's very hard for Steve to get drunk.
    • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there's a Running Gag of Steve telling Sam "On your left" every time he laps him around the National Mall. Come Avengers: Endgame, it turns from a mere joke to a major Wham Line, as Sam delivers the exact line to Cap via radio, signaling that he — along with every other hero killed by Thanos' Badass Fingersnap — are Back from the Dead and ready to take down Thanos and his army once and for all.
  • The ending of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is a call back to the ending of the first ("I made another funny! ha, ha, ha, ha!").
  • In Mother of Tears, the final movie of The Three Mothers trilogy by Dario Argento, it makes reference to the architect that built the homes for the witches much like it did in the second film Inferno, which didn't mention much of Suspiria (1977) beyond that, but in Mother of Tears, a character also mentions to the heroine how her mother got herself killed while weakening the witch from Suspiria, who would eventually be killed by the heroine of said film.
  • At the beginning of The Muppets Tex Richman is with Statler and Waldorf in Kermit's office and he shows them The Muppet's Standard Rich and Famous Contract. The very same Standard Rich and Famous Contract that The Muppets signed at the end of their very first film The Muppet Movie
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • In At World's End, when the Pirate's Code is brought out, the first thing Captain Jack Sparrow looks up is whether the rule of parley (a Running Gag throughout the films) exists. It does.
    • "Parley" is used as a Call Back twice more in the series. In The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pintel says, "Damned to the depths with him who thought up parley!" ("That would be the French."), and "If any of you so much as thinks the word parley...". But at the end of the film (after the title curse is broken), the first thing Pintel does is ask for parley in an obviously frightened tone. And then in At World's End, upon seeing the size of the East India Company's armada, Jack Sparrow reacts with a nervous, "Parley?"
    • In the first movie, Captain Barbossa says that the thing he hates most about being undead is not being able to taste anything, holding an apple as an example. When the curse is lifted at the end of the movie, he dies and the apple falls out of his hand before he can taste it. The next movie ends with him appearing at the end, finally taking a bite out of an apple.
    • When asked how he returned, Will Turner sarcastically commented he used a couple of sea turtles lashed together to make a raft. Jack quipped "it's not so easy, was it?" This is more humorous if you remembered that Jack supposedly used this method before the events of the first movie.
    • When Pintel and Raggetti are looking for Elizabeth in the first film, they call her "poppet" a couple of times mockingly. At the end of the third film when Elizabeth is saying goodbye to all the pirates, Pintel says "goodbye, poppet" affectionately.
    • Half-pin barrel hinges and the leverage required to move it with a wooden bench.
    • During the course of Dead Man's Chest, Ragetti sarcastically says to Will something along the lines of, "Your chariot awaits, sire!" while dropping a boat into the water for him to use. During At World's End, Gibbs not-sarcastically says the exact same line to Will's now-wife, Elizabeth.
    • "You look very familiar, have I threatened you before?"
    • First film: Elizabeth says she's Elizabeth Turner, to keep the pirates from kidnapping the governor's daughter. They happen to be looking for Bootstrap Turner's child. The last thing Barbossa says to her in the third film is "Mrs. Turner", seeing as she's married Will.
    • On Stranger Tides is filled with these to the first movie, in different subtle sorts of ways that you have to have an eagle eye to spot.
      • In the first movie, Jack was charged with "impersonating an officer of the Royal navy" and "impersonating a cleric of the Church of England". On Stranger Tides opens with Jack impersonating a judge. A judge by the name of Smith. Perhaps he might go by 'Smithy' on occasion?
      • Jack gives his compass to Mr. Gibbs, telling him it will lead him to freedom. In the first movie, Jack tells Elizabeth that what the Black Pearl really is is freedom. Cut to the end of On Stranger Tides and Mr Gibbs is sitting on a beach with the Black Pearl in a bottle, waiting for Jack.
      • The cut on Angelica's hand looks just like the cuts the characters in Curse of the Black Pearl get to bleed on the medallions.
    • In At World's End, one of the patrons of Sao Feng's bathhouse can be seen with barnacles littered across his face, neck, and across his arms, just like a Red Shirt crew member of the Flying Dutchman.
      • Likewise, the Sequel Hook at the end of the film is a callback to the various accounts of Barbossa's mutiny prior to The Curse of the Black Pearl.
    • While visiting Elizabeth in her jail cell in Dead Man's Chest, Governor Swann leans on one of the candelabras next to him. He then trips, proceeding to break a piece of said candelabra, in a similar fashion to Will's introductory scene in Curse of the Black Pearl, where he inspects one of the candelabras in Governor Swann's mansion, but accidentally breaks a piece of it.
  • Prometheus is full of call backs to Alien. One noteworthy example is the scene where Fifield and Millburn encounter the facehugger-like creature, Millburn's attitude in which mirrors Kane's first encounter with an egg, and the creature's attack on Millburn mirrors the attempts to get the facehugger off Kane.
  • In Punch Line, Tom Hanks's character's stand-up routine uses this to masterful effect. He begins his routine by talking about the peculiar expression the emcee used, "comedy stylings," applying this to various occupations to point out its absurdity (stopping at "hair stylist," because, well, that one is right). He goes on from topic to topic, at the top of his game, but soon devolving into an angry tirade about bank employees, cab drivers and debutantes. He stops and informs the audience, "I don't hate anybody. I'm not a hate monger. I'm a "hate stylist."
  • In Rush Hour 2, Lee tries to tell Carter that he thought he was dead, gets exasperated and yells "DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS THAT ARE COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH?!", the same thing Carter said to him in the first film after asking him if he speaks English.
  • The second half of Shaun of the Dead is made of Call Backs. Every line in the 1st half comes back in radically different context.
  • The Star Trek films:
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
      • The last line, delivered by Kirk (if you don't count Spock's "space: the final frontier" voiceover) call back to what he told Dr. Marcus during the Darkest Hour ("How do I feel? Old. Worn out.") and what Dr. Marcus told him back ("Let me show you something... that'll make you feel young as when the world was new.").
        McCoy: You okay, Jim? How do you feel?
        Kirk: Young. I feel young.
      • In Spock's quarters: "I would not presume to debate you." At his funeral: "... and we will not presume to debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings."
    • Star Trek: Generations
      • While exploring The Amargosa observatory, Data reminds Geordi of a joke Geordi told Riker at Farpoint Station. As noted in Late to the Punchline, Farpoint Station was the setting for the pilot episode of TNG.
      • Shortly after the D12 is destroyed, the movie cuts to Geordi in engineering examining an open panel and in the middle of a conversation about the damage the ship's taken. He turns around and communicates with the bridge, only to be cut off as the panel he's just walked away from explodes and engineering rapidly degenerates from being a mess to being an outright hazardous environment. As he's ushering everyone out, Geordi tells the bridge that they're a few minutes away from a warp-core breach he can't stop. This scene mirrors one from the episode "Yesterday's Enterprise," where the ship was fatally damaged fighting Klingons in an alternate timeline.
    • A number of plot points from Star Trek (2009) play a major role in Star Trek Into Darkness.
      • The transwarp beaming tech provided by Spock Prime is instrumental in Khan's attack. Similarly, aside from the scientists studying it, the only person who knows how to use it is Scotty, who created it in the Prime timeline.
      • Spock goes to Spock Prime for information on Khan.
      • Kirk talks with Pike about the scene in the previous film where Pike asked Kirk to join Starfleet.
      • During the space jump between the Enterprise and the Vengeance, Kirk mentions he's done this before, only vertically.
      • Khan being immune to the stun setting. Star Trek: Enterprise established that the Augments were immune to stun.
      • McCoy shows at the end of the movie that he still hates space.
  • In St. Vincent (2014), while Vincent is at the hospital waiting for his daughter to be born, Oliver shows him a vending machine trick he learned from Daka earlier in the film.
  • Superman Returns is chock full of homages to Superman: The Movie as well as an attempt to recapture the cover of Action Comics #1.
  • In Talking Heads' Concert Film, Stop Making Sense, frontman David Byrne dons a pair of horn-rimmed glasses during the band's performance of "Once in a Lifetime" and does similar jerky movements to the music video for the song.
  • Terminator
    • All of the Terminator movies have these in spades. "Come with me if you want to live" is right up there with "I'll be back". And "Get Out!". Then Connor picks up that scar over his eye. Come to think of it, most of these are Call-Forward as well.
    • Also Dr. Silberman, a character who appears in all of the first three movies for essentially this purpose.
    • An awesome one in Terminator Salvation. When John is about to try and rescue Kyle Reese from a Skynet camp, alone, Kate asks him what she should tell his troops. He answers, "I'll be back."
    • Another Salvation example: when John is trying to lure a Terminator to his location, he starts playing music. The song? Guns N' Roses' "You Could Be Mine", which he was listening to in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • In X2: X-Men United, when the mutants are flying to Alkali Lake, Magneto and Mystique sarcastically say that they like the white parts of Rogue's hair. Those parts were turned white by Magneto's machine during the climax of the first X-Men movie.
    • X-Men: The Last Stand:
      • When Mystique is messing with the guard on the prison truck, she briefly turns into Jason Stryker's "little girl" avatar from the second movie.
      • Magneto reacts to the Army troops defending Alcatraz with a line from the first film, "Humans and their guns," and tries to deal with the problem. But this time:
        Magneto: Plastic! They've learned.
    • In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Col. Stryker says that Wade Wilson would be the perfect mercenary if it weren't for his mouth; towards the end of the movie, Wade has his mouth sewn shut. Lampshaded by Wolverine (especially relevant since Logan, in the beginning of the film, was the first one to speak up about how Wade never stops talking):
      Wolverine: I guess Stryker finally figured out how to shut you up.
    • One of the first modern day scenes in The Wolverine is Wolverine delivering some punishment to a hunter who supposedly used a poisoned broad-tip arrow to hunt bears. Poison, particularly poisoned arrows, come back in the third act, when Harada uses a poisoned arrow to knock Wolverine out for the climax.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • Logan's "Go fuck yourselves" from First Class comes back to bite him in the ass, courtesy of Charles Xavier, no less.
      • When Logan sees the young William Stryker for the first time, he has violent flashbacks to his confrontation with the older Stryker from X2.
      • To persuade Congress to consider his Sentinel program, Trask quotes Xavier's Oxford dissertation from First Class on the near-immediate eradication of the human sub-species homo neanderthalensis upon the appearance of their "mutated, more-evolved cousins", homo sapiens, alluding to the idea that mutants will eventually drive ordinary humans into extinction.
      • Charles in 1973 regards Magneto as a monster, and Erik called himself "Frankenstein's monster" in First Class.
      • The sincerity of the younger Erik's apology ("I'm sorry, Charles, for what happened, I truly am") is questionable because it sounds very much like Shaw's from First Class ("I'm sorry for what happened in the camps, I truly am").


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