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Foregone Conclusions in literature.


  • As mentioned in the Film page, if a story has a Character Narrator, you can generally assume they will live to the end, though there are of course subversions. Val McDermid loves subverting this trope (so much so that a fan of her writing may start to expect it). Many of her books switch back and forth between two or three narrators, letting you assume that at least those two or three characters will make it... only to have one of them be brutally murdered halfway through the story.
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  • Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones, sequel to Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians: The Character Narrator lampshades the fact that he survived the entire experience since the present version is narrating past events.
    I want you to think of a regular ship. No, not a flying dragon ship like the one that was falling apart beneath me as I fell to my death. Focus. I obviously survived the crash, since this book is written in the first person.
  • The Alice Network: Even before we meet the Eve of the past, we meet the same woman 30 years later; bitter, drunk, alone, and with horribly disfigured hands.
  • The Animorphs books, including Chronicles:
    • The main characters are all first person narrators in the main series, and are initially read with the forgone conclusion that the character survives the series (since they narrate about a sixth of the main books). Multiple deaths are depicted in the final book.
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    • Andalite tells the backstory of Elfangor, who dies in the beginning of the first book (the Framing Device is that it's his last testament, transmitted telepathically just minutes before his death). It also has Alloran, whom we know as the host body of Visser Three, as Elfangor's commanding officer.
    • Hork-Bajir involves the conquering of the Hork-Bajir, who are almost entirely enslaved by the time of the main series.
    • Ellimist relates a humble space bird's journey from gamer to God via Sufficiently Advanced Alien. The framing device is of him telling his backstory to a deceased but unnamed main character (which is itself sort of a spoiler for the main series), so it's really not surprising where "Toomin" ends up.
    • Visser involves the Yeerk's discovery of Earth and the early stages of the invasion, the results of which are seen in the main series.
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  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl is typically presented as a cautionary tale about fascism, and the book gives away Anne's fate on the cover and introduction.
  • Nina Lugovskaya's I Want To Live: Essentially the Stalinist version of Anne Frank, although Nina survives her imprisonment. But why else would you be reading these books?
  • Apollo's Grove is the story of the last Oracle of Delphi, who is identified as such early in the play by her mentor. She fights to save her temple and religion. She obviously fails, though she does manage to Fling a Light into the Future.
  • Assassin's Creed: Renaissance by Oliver Bowden has one placed near the end of chapter one, when Ezio is living it up with Federico. "Little did he realize how short-lived those days would be." Doesn't exactly bring about a feeling of good nature and happy-la-la, does it? Of course, if you'd played the game already, you likely saw the bit that follows coming.
  • In his various asides in the original The Bartimaeus Trilogy books regarding his association with Solomon, Bartimaeus mentions at one point in The Golem's Eye that one of his masters once charged him to pinch Solomon's magic ring and chuck into the sea. Thus, in the prequel book The Ring of Solomon, it's fait accompli once Asmira becomes his master that she will at some point order him to do this.
  • Samantha Kingston dies at the end of the first chapter of Before I Fall, and a few more times after that.
  • The Belisarius Series has some of this in certain passages. For instance, it describes a character's reaction to an event, and adds how decades later, when he'd married and fathered children, those children loved to hear him retell the story of that event. Well, we sure know he's going to survive the series. That example occurs in the first book. The same passage also specifies that another character will be killed in a later battle, and of course it happens as described.
  • Alfred Doeblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz begins with a one-page summary of the book's plot, describing the character's frequent falls from grace, but it refers rather elliptically to his final redemption, leaving some mystery. Likewise, each chapter is preceded by a summary, and throughout the book there are references to events yet to occur. All this is to show how the central character has no control over his life.
  • Markus Zusak's The Book Thief:
    • At the beginning, the narrator Death says that Liesel's story, chronicled in her diary, ends with her surrounded by ruins, howling. However, Death's description of the scene is vague enough for the later full narrative of the same scene to still pack quite an emotional punch.
    • Death reveals the death of a certain character in the middle of the book because he is bad at mystery.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote starts out with Holly Golightly having already left and the narrator going backwards to recount their time together.
  • The Cat Who Went to Heaven is about a cat who goes to heaven after dying with happiness after being included in a picture with the Buddha. Knowing this doesn't make the ending any less of a Tear Jerker.
  • A Confusion of Princes: Khemri states in the first sentence of the book that he already died three times before he starts to tell the story of his life.
  • The first page of The Cruel Sea tells us that HMS Compass Rose will be sunk and replaced.
  • Darkness at Noon: Rubashov is going to be shot, and he knows it. The question is what he will (or will not) say before his execution, and to whom.
  • It's not hard to see how the author would expect you to know the ending of The Death of Ivan Ilyich.
  • If you've ever heard about Griboyedov, much less studied in a Russian school, then you probably know how The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar ends. If not, then you will realize it as soon as it is explained that Griboyedov's diplomatic title is "Vazir Mukhtar" in Farsi.
  • In The Divine Comedy, Virgil lines out God's plan for Dante's journey in the first canto, so at no point in the next 99 cantos should the reader doubt that Dante is going to make it through all the realms of the afterlife, leave Virgil for Beatrice, and come face-to-face with the Trinity. It's a testament to Alighieri's writing that the poem is still suspenseful and shocking in moments despite the fact that it immediately spoils itself.
  • Invoked in The Doomsday Brunette, when a genetically modified gorilla is reenacting King Kong (1933) (It Makes Sense in Context) and the detective says, "King Kong only ends one way."
  • By the time the third book of the Dora Wilk Series was published, the author wrote a short story about a werewolf alpha called Jędrzej, stating it happens after the series is over. Come book six and werewolf alpha Bruno starts a war against Dora. He has a henchman named Jędrzej. Guess who becomes the new alpha by the end of the book.
  • In Muriel Spark’s novella The Driver’s Seat, the fate of troubled protagonist Lise is established in the opening paragraph, which mentions Interpol agents investigating her death.
  • Dune:
    • Dune does this twice, telling how the first of the book's three parts will end in the second chapter (spoiling a Plot Twist in doing so), and the book's ending is foretold in the middle of the second part by the prophetic, Magnificent Bastard protagonist. Yet this still doesn't detract how exciting it is reading how it happens.
    • It's done even more in the sequel, Dune Messiah: the conclusion is hinted at in the second chapter, and by halfway through the novel, the protagonist has a prescient dream in which he foresees the entire rest of the story. The vision guides him even after his eyes get burned out by nuclear radiation. By twenty pages before the climax (a substantial portion of the just 200-page book) it's a definite example, except for the Plot Twist in which Paul foresees only the birth of his daughter, and not her far more significant twin brother.
  • Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson: whether Sherlock Holmes finds Jack the Ripper or not, six women will still be murdered and mutilated.
  • The Emperor series (as well as any other story depicting the life of Caesar). It's known what will happen between Julius and Brutus in the end, yet the story is very compelling all the way through.
  • The Empirium Trilogy starts off with a prologue establishing that one of the two protagonists is the prophesied Blood Queen and that she will marry King Audric, help the angels return to the world, murder her husband, and give birth to their daughter before dying. Her storyline starts two years before all of this happened, with the tension coming from how exactly these events came about.
  • Fate/Zero is (almost certainly) written under the assumption that readers are already familiar with Fate/stay night, which it's a prequel to. The knowledge of how it all turns out (hint: not happy) adds to the sense of tragedy. Not to mention that if you read it first you'll get most of Fate/stay night's plot twists spoiled in the prologue. Discussed by the author in the end of Volume 1.
    "Don't get too attached to these guys, no matter how cool they may be. You know they're just going to die."
  • The Feast of the Goat is a novel that deals with the end of Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship. Thanks to knowledge in history and the chapters' order, we know from the start that he's going to be murdered.
  • The Finishing School Series is a prequel to The Parasol Protectorate, and has a couple of these:
    • Anyone who recognizes the names of Sidheag Maccon and Captain Niall will not be surprised by the off-page events in Curtsies & Conspiracies involving Lord Conall Maccon, first mentioned in The Parasol Protectorate, that lead to their departure from Madame Geraldine's and the series.
    • In this series, household mechanicals are commonplace, with our heroine even owning a charming robot dog, Bumbersnoot. However, in The Parasol Protectorate, 25 years later, no one owns any. Naturally, the fourth and final book centres around events that result in the widespread destruction of mechanicals across Britain.
  • Danish author Hans Scherfig's novel Det forsømte forår (Stolen Spring, or literally The Neglected Spring) begins with the murder of a Latin teacher from a high-esteemed school. Then we flash forward to many years, where his students meet and think back to their school time, and through this, we get to know the killer (the fact that his killer is among the students is revealed right away).
  • A Frozen Heart is a Tie-In Novel to Disney's Frozen that gives the backstory of Prince Hans. We are introduced to his less than appealing country, his cruel big brothers and his father, the king, all providing him justifiable reasons for wanting to leave. His only good brother mentions that Arendelle has a princess named Elsa who has yet to have a suitor and suggests that Hans go to Arendelle, meet Elsa and become her suitor so that marrying into a royal family outside of the Southern Isles would give him an excuse to never go back home. Since this book came out two years after the film, we already know things don't go as well as Hans was hoping.
  • In The Godfather Mario Puzo frequently mentions something that will happen, and then "rewinds" to show how it happened. For example, the deaths of Sonny — the scene with Vito calling in the favor from the undertaker appears before the tollbooth sequence and Vito.
  • Similarly, the Gotrek & Felix series prefaces its chapters with excerpts from the Book Felix has sworn to write. So while Gotrek's death is a given, it's obvious that Felix will survive whatever doom Fate has in store for the Trollslayer, despite his worrying about it in the present.
    • It was later revealed in the books by Nathan Long that Felix had been sending the manuscripts to his brother and that they had already been published with Gotrek still alive. The only indications of Gotrek's death are a vague prophecy by a mortally wounded daemon and the fact that the books Kinslayer and Slayer are being billed as The Doom of Gotrek Gurnisson.
    • As it turns out, Gotrek lives and Felix (Probably-he's buried alive, running out of air, and the world blows up not much later) dies. The Doom of Gotrek is the greatest doom of all Slayers-to spend eternity fighting demons in the place of the god Grimnir.
  • When a story is named Grent's Fall and the main character is King Osbert Grent, you can guess how things will turn out.
  • There are plenty of Halo books that do this:
    • Halo: The Fall of Reach: There is a planet named Reach. It falls.
    • Halo: First Strike: The book is about Chief and Cortana trying to make it to Earth after the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. By its release, the Halo 2 advertising campaign was already in full swing, so readers already knew that they made it.
    • Halo: Contact Harvest: We know that first contact between humanity and the Covenant will result in war, and that Harvest will fall. We also know Johnson and Tartarus will survive, since they also appear in the original trilogy, which takes place almost three decades later.
    • The Forerunner Saga: The story takes place during the last days of the Forerunners, and Halo fans already knew that their civilization ended when they were forced to fire the Halos to stop the Flood.
    • Halo: Hunters in the Dark: The main plot revolves around the good guys trying to stop another attempted firing of the Halos. The book takes place between Halo 3 and Halo 4, so we know they succeed.
  • In The Haunting of Drearcliff Grange School, trainee superhero Amy, aka Kentish Glory, becomes discouraged about the results of being for justice and fair play in an unjust and unfair world, and experiments in the latter half of the novel with ditching her Kentish Glory persona and reinventing herself as a ruthless black-clad avenger called Death's-head Hawk. Her eventual decision to stick with being Kentish Glory is a foregone conclusion because there have already been other stories written and published in the same setting showing the adult Amy as Kentish Glory, so the interesting part is seeing how far she goes and how she ends up at that decision.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's first Heralds of Valdemar novel, she details the dramatic death scene of Vanyel, the last Herald-Mage of Valdemar. When Vanyel gets his own trilogy, everyone knows where this is ultimately going. The same thing happens with Lavan Firestorm, whose death is described in the first Heralds of Valdemar trilogy long before his story is told firsthand in Brightly Burning.
  • In both the novel I, Claudius and The BBC TV series based on it, readers are told at the start that Claudius is going to become Emperor. Nonetheless, the description of 60 years of Roman politics and intrigue leading up to this event manages to remain amazing and entertaining.
  • In an odd context-reliant example, readers of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood knew full well what happened to the Clutter family and their killers thanks to the huge press coverage it received when the news broke. Capote had to rely on the one thing they didn't know in order to make his book a success; the gritty details.
  • We already know that Camille and Magnus's relationship in The Infernal Devices isn't going to last long.
  • John Dies at the End, for obvious reasons. Subverted in that John is the only main character who doesn't die at the end, He instead opts to die at the start. They get better.
  • The opening lines to Ruth Rendell's novel A Judgement In Stone tell us that "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write". This doesn't prevent it being one of her best novels.
  • Kira-Kira has this when we get Lynn's diagnosis with lymphoma. If one remembers the time period (The '50s), then it takes no guesses as to Lynn's prognosis is. Sure enough, she passes away.
  • Kevin J. Anderson's The Last Days of Krypton. Everyone knows the planet is going to go kaboom, but he manages to milk a large amount of suspense over how, introducing multiple possibilities in rapid succession. Will it explode from geologic instability? Will it be smashed by a massive comet? Will it be consumed by its red sun Rao going supernova? Answer: none of the above. All of the above threats are taken care of, then near the end a bunch of stupid politicians throw a portal to the Phantom Zone into the core, causing the planet to implode.
  • In A Lesson Before Dying, it is clear from the first chapter that Jefferson will be executed.
  • Nabokov's Lolita has a foreword, which says that Humbert died from coronary thrombosis and Lolita died in childbirth. However, it refers to Lolita as "Mrs. Richard F. Schiller", her married name, which isn't revealed until the end of the book.
  • The very title of the final book of The Lord of the Rings trilogy lets the reader know that Aragorn will live to claim the throne of Gondor, spoiling plot points in the first two books. This is why Tolkien wanted to title the book "The War of the Ring" rather than "The Return of the King". He was overruled by the publisher.
  • Losing Joes Place by Gordon Korman. As if the title isn't enough, the book starts with Joe furious with Jason over the title blunder and forcing him to recount how it happened.
  • The Lovely Bones: "My name is Salmon, like the fish. First name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."
  • Gabriel García Márquez:
    • His short novel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Heck, it's even in the title.
    • His first novel The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor: Who Drifted on a Liferaft for Ten Days Without Food or Water, Was Proclaimed a National Hero, Kissed by Beauty Queens, Made Rich Through Publicity, and Then Spurned by the Government and Forgotten for All Time.
    • Marquez's most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude, brings up early and often that Colonel Aureliano will face death by a firing squad.
  • Lyttle Lytton Contest: From the 2001 entries, this fictional starting line:
    Mary (who dies at the end, so don't get all surprised like the stupid person who wrote me on my other book) loved Joe, a lot.
—<— Nathan Eady
  • Midnight’s Children. The moment the resident time-traveler says "they will end us [the midnight's children] before we begin" and nobody listens, you know you're in for a Downer Ending. Saleem's narration also makes it pretty obvious that he was castrated by the Widow, though it's not made explicit until the climax of the book.
  • Daniel Defoe's The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Etc. Who Was Born In Newgate, and During a Life of Continu'd Variety For Threescore Years, Besides Her Childhood, Was Twelve Year a Whore, Five Times a Wife (Whereof Once To Her Own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon In Virginia, At Last Grew Rich, Liv'd Honest, and Died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums.
  • My Brother Sam is Dead does indeed end with the main character's brother, whose name is Sam, dying.
  • Neogicia due to its Spin-Off nature. It tells the story of part of the Non-Player Character population from Noob, including a woman who is a very advanced neomancer in Noob, but has just become a neomancer in Neogicia. Her early ambitions in the first novel are different from the job she's doing several years later and the second reveals her to have progressed through the neomancer ranks in an unusual and unexpected way.
  • The Night Watch by Sarah Waters is written backwards chronologically. It is particularly bittersweet as you view the beginnings of a pair who you know will eventually turn into an embittered, nigh abusive couple.
  • The introduction to Cordwainer Smith's novel Norstrilia ends with the following words:
    He gets away. He got away. See, that's the story. Now you don't have to read it. Except for the details. They follow.
  • In Obasan by Joy Kogawa, the main character Naomi's mother went to Japan around 1940 to help an ailing grandmother and never came back. Most readers can probably figure out that her mother probably died in the atomic bombings. But in the 70s, Naomi reads some letters about her missing mother which state that she went to Nagasaki in August 1945 to visit a cousin, and was mutilated and later died in the bombings.
  • One of the very first paragraphs in Odd John practically summarizes the entire novel:
    I know that [John] never walked till he was six, that before he was ten he committed several burglaries and killed a policeman, that at eighteen, when he still looked a young boy, he founded his preposterous colony in the South Seas, and that at twenty-three, in appearance but little altered, he outwitted the six warships that six Great Powers had sent to seize him. I know also how John and all his followers died.
  • Julie Buxbaum's The Opposite of Love is mostly centred around the main character's difficulties forming relationships following the death of her mother — problem is, any tension that might arise over whether she'll ever work things out is sapped by the flash-forward prologue, where she's married with a baby on the way.
  • Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire starts out with the Unreliable Narrator Charles Kinbote writing about the death of his good friend John Shade. Is John Shade actually dead? Hell if anyone knows.
  • Anyone even the slightest bit familiar with The Bible or Christian theology in general will know how Paradise Lost is going to turn out before it even begins. Anyone else will be told how it's going to turn out in the first five lines or so.
  • Yukio Mishima's Patriotism actually begins with the reader being told about the couple's (who are the main characters) joint suicide.
  • Because Bobby's segments of The Pendragon Adventure are presented in journal formats, it is obvious that he has survived all of the events in the books. The point of the journals is to see exactly what events he survived, and how.
  • Ranger's Apprentice talks a lot about Hal Mikkelson, and the fact his revolutionary sail plan is a common feature on wolfships. Brotherband is a prequel to these mentions, and stars Hal Mikkelson. A large amount of tension in the latter series is whether or not Hal can clear his name, a feat he would have done for Skandians to be permitted to discuss him in the former series.
  • Adam Cadre's Ready, Okay! exemplifies this trope by stating on page 1 that by the end of the school year, every person that the main character loves and cares about will be dead.
  • Stephen R Donaldson's The Real Story spends the first chapter describing how a Damsel in Distress got rescued from an evil villain by a dashing hero. Then the rest of the novel is spent finding out that both the situation and the characters were in fact rather more complex than they seemed to a casual observer. Following books compound the process.
  • The plot of Reconstructing Amelia revolves around Amelia Baron falling off the roof of her school and dying. The plot revolves around her mother trying to find the real story of what happened to her, told through both Kate's narration and flashbacks narrated by Amelia in the month leading up to her death.
  • Since the Redwall novel Mossflower opens with Martin the Warrior in exile, the prequel Martin the Warrior ending with him going into exile is pretty much a given.
  • Since the S.D. Perry Resident Evil novels were written for fans of the games who all know Wesker is the Big Bad, the author doesn't even try and hide it. Instead we get numerous chapters which show what Wesker was up to (and exactly how evil this guy really is), while Chris and Jill fumbled through the mansion.
  • Safehold: Book 10, Through Fiery Trials, starts off with an excerpt from a Fictional Document: a biography of Merlin published around 4200 CE, about a thousand years after the beginning of the series, which indicates that Safehold will regain knowledge of its true history and eventually defeat the Gbaba.
  • Sakura Wars:
    • The Paris Zenya novel is set years before Sakura Wars 3: Is Paris Burning?, so we already know that Philippe dies after a failed British weapon experiment accidentally destroys the boat he and Hanabi are on and Erica Fontaine will meet Grand-Mère.
    • Shin Sakura Taisen the Novel: Hizakura no Koro takes place one year before the events of Sakura Wars (2019). Those who are familiar with the franchise will already know that a new Flower Division will be formed, Édouard Snowflake will die protecting his sister Claris from the demon in Luxembourg, and Anastasia Palma will be contacted by Sumire while she's in Austria.
  • The Sea Hunters series by Clive Cussler is a nonfiction account of his shipwreck hunting expeditions. It's extremely episodic, with each part being the name of the ship in question and having "Chapter 1" be a dramatized account of what made the ship famous and its demise. Therefore, you know that each section of the book will have the part's namesake going to the bottom a few sentences before the phrase "Chapter 2".
  • Annoyingly, one of the Septimus Heap books talks about Jenna's future daughter doing something. Every example of danger that she's in is entirely unneeded, and technically never in any permanent danger.
  • Technically, this trope could be used to describe A Series of Unfortunate Events, because the endings of the books are unfortunate, as the author clearly states. A particularly strong example occurs in The Reptile Room, in which Uncle Monty's death is announced in the narration long before it happens.
  • In Peter David's Sir Apropos of Nothing trilogy, Sir Apropos mentions multiple times that he survived the events of the story, though he's not always sure how.
  • Cordwainer Smith was notable in that many of his stories begin by telling the ending. For instance, one of his finest stories, "The Dead Lady of Clown Town", begins: "You already know the end — the immense drama of the Lord Jestocost, seventh of his line, and how the cat-girl C'mell initiated the vast conspiracy. But you do not know the beginning, how the first Lord Jestocost got his name, because of the terror and inspiration which his mother, the Lady Goroke, obtained from the famous real-life drama of the dog-girl D'joan. It is even less likely that you know the other story — the one behind D'joan. This story is sometimes mentioned as the matter of the 'nameless witch', which is absurd, because she really had a name. The name was 'Elaine', an ancient and forbidden one."
  • The reader knows from the beginning of the The Sparrow that the mission ends catastrophically. The novel is about how and why that happened.
  • The SPQR Series by John Maddox Roberts is set near the end of the Roman Republic and framed as the protagonist Decius's memoirs written during the reign of Augustus. So obviously, he's going to live to a ripe old age so he can write the books. Also, as the books are chock full of Historical Domain Characters, virtually everyone else's eventual fate can be spoiled by The Other Wiki.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Leia, Princess of Alderaan: Leia gets into a relationship with a boy named Kier Domadi, who is practically perfect for her. Of course, you know it's not going to last. Indeed, Kier is dead by the end of the book.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • There's a novel, Death Star, which takes place on the first Death Star. It gets used on Alderaan and is later destroyed. The characters, of course, don't know that. There's a cantina owner whose bar got burned down getting an offer to work in a bar up there, and deciding that there probably isn't a safer place to work than an invincible battle station. The head gunner, uneasy about being in a station which theoretically could destroy a planet, consoles himself by thinking that it will be used purely on large ships, enemy space stations, maybe some moons, since no one would be evil enough to order him to fire on a populated world. A few other characters vaguely wish they could leave, maybe join the Rebellion, but with something like the Death Star cruising around, the Rebellion would come to naught, since people who would gladly die for their cause would hesitate to risk their planet. War as they knew it would end. A lot of the tension comes from wondering who, if anyone, survives, and how, since most of them don't have permission to leave.
    • Another example is Outbound Flight. Anyone who's been paying attention to Timothy Zahn's other Star Wars books would know that it doesn't end well for the titular project.
    • In the second book in the Coruscant Nights trilogy, Captain Typho, Padmé's Bodyguard Crush, seeks to avenge her death, eventually deciding that he has to kill Darth Vader. Even he thinks it would be a Curb-Stomp Battle unless he's really prepared. Doesn't really work. It introduces a Continuity Snarl, though, as Typho is cut down by Vader, even though existing canon confirmed that he was still alive 18 years later.
    • Anyone who has seen Revenge of the Sith knows what happens to the title character of Darth Plagueis at the end. In fact, the first chapter opens with an aftermath of the murder, as the author realizes that it will hardly be a surprise. There is a surprise twist that the reader doesn't realize until the climax, however; how Palpatine kills Plagueis isn't important. It's where, and more importantly when.
    • Likewise, Labyrinth of Evil takes place just before Revenge of the Sith, and concerns the Jedi's hunt for clues to Darth Sidious's whereabouts. Obviously, they don't succeed; the tragedy comes from seeing just how very close they get before everyone's distracted by the Battle of Coruscant that opens Episode III.
    • Exploited in Scoundrels to hide some twists. It takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and Han gets roped into performing a heist with a massive payout. Lando also gets involved in the team and forgives Han for previous events, supposedly the reason he was half-angry to see Han at Cloud City. In Empire, Han's still in debt to Jabba and Lando is still angry at him, so naturally, the heist is going to be a disaster, right? Wrong. The heist itself goes reasonably well; afterwards, everything gets caught in a Gambit Pileup. The person who contacted everyone, supposedly the only one who could access all the credits in there, turns out to not be who he says he is, rendering the bulk of the money impossible to get, leaving Han with money troubles again. Lando requests certain information datacards as his payment, but Han gives him fakes and has the real ones shipped off to the Rebellion, souring their relationship again.
  • An In Universe Example in Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town. El deduces that Jim Hopper lived through his time as a mole in The Vipers in 1977 because he's narrating the story to her in 1984.
  • In the Stephen Hunter Swagger series, it's well established that sniper Bob Lee Swagger's best friend and spotter Donnie Fenn was killed at Swagger's side in Vietnam even before Fenn's story is told in Time To Hunt.
  • Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori:
    • Heaven's Net Is Wide. If you've read the main series that this book is a prequel to, then you know exactly what's going to happen. And that just makes it even more heartbreaking.
    • Additionally, parts of Hearn's Otori trilogy are presented as the memoirs of one of the characters, letting the reader know that that particular character will survive all the way through. When Hearn revisited the series with Harsh Cry of the Heron, the story switched to omniscient third person, cluing you in to the fact that the narrator of the previous books would not survive to the end.
  • Tamburlaine Must Die is exempt from the historical fiction version of this trope because there are more than enough conspiracy theories about the main character, Christopher Marlowe, that say he didn't die. It still starts by saying he's going to die in three days. However, fans of the writer will be strongly suspecting a subversion... which doesn't happen.
  • They Shoot Horses, Don't They? starts In Medias Res, and it's told in the first few pages that the protagonist, Robert killed his friend, Gloria because she asked him to, and he'll be sentenced to death for it.
  • Invoked and lampshaded regarding the nature of the top-secret project that Si Morley is being asked to join in Jack Finney's Time and Again. It is obvious from the very title of the book, not to mention the blurb and cover art, that time travel is going to be involved somehow. In-universe, Morley himself acknowledges that what all these people in their incredibly realistic historical stage sets had been attempting to do had been clear to him for some time before either he or anyone else came out and said it. Nonetheless the scenes in which Morley goes from bemusement to awed understanding as to what the Project is, and why an unsuccessful commercial artist like him is being offered a role in it, are real page-turners.
  • In The Time Traveler's Wife, because of the Anachronic Order of the story, readers learn that something bad will happen to Henry when he's 43 years old.
  • The Swedish short story To kill a child by Stig Dagerman exploits this shamelessly throughout the story, for the sheer dramatic effect of it. We are to know, from the first sentence, that "this man will hit a child with his car - but he does not know it yet."
  • Stephen Brust's To Reign in Hell explains exactly what caused the falling out between God and Satan.
  • Treasure Island is introduced as Jim Hawkins' tale of his adventure retold at the request of Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesey, which keeps you from getting too worried whenever their lives are at risk.
  • Twilight: Anyone who's read Eclipse already knows that the main character of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is murdered by the Volturi. Heck, just reading the title gives most people a good idea of how it'll end. On a lesser note, anyone at all the least bit familiar with the Twilight series will know that sunlight makes the vampires sparkle and not burn into ash, long before the actual characters do.
  • The fifth volume of The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign is primarily a flashback, detailing the relationship between Kyousuke and the White Queen. Anyone who's read any of the previous novels will know that said relationship will be broken off by the end.
  • Uprising, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, starts with a ten years later, with a young woman coming to one of the main characters and asking about the strike, and the fire (the book is based on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory). Due to inner monologue, it's revealed that two of the three narrators of the book end up dead. But it still packs a wallop when reading the death scenes - from their own points of view!
  • Kurt Vonnegut:
    • Galápagos employs this trope extensively. In fact, he goes so far as to play with this by putting an asterisk by the name of every character due to die soon in the course of the story, and telling us that humanity will shortly be killed by a virulent disease. Cat's Cradle is similarly upfront in saying that ice-nine will escape and destroy the world, despite the protagonist's efforts.
    • There is a character introduced near the beginning of Slaughterhouse-Five. Almost every time that character makes an appearance in the story Vonnegut tells us when and how he will die. By the time the reader finally sees his death, it doesn't have as deep an impact. So it goes.
  • Anyone with a smidgeon of knowledge about European history already knows Napoleon fails to conquer Russia in War and Peace. The whole book is more about why he failed. In case you didn't know Napoleon tried to invade Russia before reading the book, the philosophical asides mention it often enough.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • The Horus Heresy series. The major (and many of the minor) facts of the Horus Heresy have been part of the Warhammer 40,000 canon for over twenty years. If nothing else, you know Lucius, Kharn, Abaddon, Typhus et al are going to survive, because they have profiles in the friggin' Chaos Codex. Well, for a given value of 'survive' in at least two of those cases. Lucius isn't really the man he used to be.
    • Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novels — Cain will survive because these are his memoirs; Amberly Vail will survive because she outlived him and edited the memoirs; Sulla will survive because she reaches the rank of Lady General and Vail included excerpts from her memoirs to supplement Cain's; in Death or Glory, Tayber and Arriott will survive because Vail included excerpts from their memoirs.
    • Several novels in Space Marine Battles series have this issue, along with Doomed by Canon.
      • Fall of Damnos pretty much tells us how it ends right in its title.
      • Legion of the Damned begins with an Inquisitor surveying the aftermath of book's key battle, letting us known that the defenders were killed to (almost) a man, but the attacker was completely vanquished.
    • As Black Legion is Khayon's recount of eponymous warband's history, it is a given that Abaddon will succeed in forging it and that Khayon will live to tell the tale. Readers who read Aaron Dembski-Bowden's Night Lords series also know that Falkius survives, as he shows up in those books, set millennia later.
    • The Thousand Sons trilogy takes place millennia before the “present day” of 40k, where Ahriman is still alive and still trying to free the Rubric Marines from their curse. Ahriman won’t die during the trilogy, but his plans won’t succeed either.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Bluestar's Prophecy. As if the fact that how and when Bluestar dies is already known by the entire fanbase isn't enough, the book opens with her death scene rewritten from her point of view. A good part of the book works like this, too, such as her relationship with Oakheart, Mosskit's death, and the fact that all of the characters who aren't in the first books will end up dead.
    • Crookedstar's Promise, especially seeing as we never heard of Willowbreeze or Crookedstar's other kits. And also Stormkit breaking his jaw and being held back from being an apprentice. And that he dies at the end.
  • What Came Before He Shot Her tells the ending right in the title, although it may take quite awhile to figure who 'he' and 'her' are. The main character actually didn't shoot her, though he takes the blame.
  • Woodwalkers And Friends: Carag appears in the first novel of Seawalkers, which is set after Katzige Gefährten and was interestingly released a year before this book came out, so it's no surprise that he survives the events of this. He also mentions his girlfriend Tikaani so it's clear that they don't break up in this one.
  • The Wheel of Time series makes it perfectly clear, at the beginning of every book, that the story takes place in both an age long past and an age yet to come. In fact, the very title of the series suggests that time is cyclical, and thus everything that has happened before will happen again.
  • Philip Pullman's The White Mercedes/The Butterfly Tattoo begins with the following sentence, also on the back cover: "Chris Marshall met the girl he was going to kill on a warm night in early June..." Yeah, right. That's quite a definition of "kill" you've got there, Philip Pullman.
  • Why We Broke Up. It's a girl telling her ex-boyfriend why they broke up; throughout her 300-or-so-page description of their relationship, you know the entire time that they're going to break up, assuming you read the title.
  • The original book of Wicked had loads of this for anyone even remotely familiar with either the book or movie of The Wizard of Oz. We know that somehow the green-skinned Elphaba will get a pointy black hat, a broomstick, some winged monkeys and set up shop in the West as the Wicked Witch, while her friend Glinda will become the Good Witch of either the North or South (it ends up following the movie version, from the North), her sister will become the Wicked Witch of the East before being squished by a Kansas farmhouse dropped by a tornado and carrying a young girl who will ultimately kill Elphaba by splashing her with water. Note that the ending is not quite so foregone in the musical version. The book also has more obscure ones for those who have read the other Oz books. For example, a peasant boy being dragged along by an old woman is Tip, who will become the princess Ozma.
  • In World War Z you know that humanity will survive because the book is supposedly written after the war.


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