Memories are funny things. They can hide in the back of your mind, to the point where you've nearly forgotten. Then, suddenly, they'll be called out by some reminder. A specific song, a smell, a taste. Or, in the case of this trope, a place.
A place of reminiscence is a place that ties into a character's backstory in some way, usually the place they grew up in, or where something significant happened. In other cases, the place simply reminds them of some event in their past. No matter what their connection is, being in that place again causes them to flash back to the past.
This trope is usually played for melancholy, with the character remembering happier times than whatever they are currently going through.
One variant of this trope is that the place itself holds the memory, in which case the characters themselves were most likely not present to recollect it. Compare Haunted House.
In visual mediums such as animation, this is often depicted by having ghostly images of the past walk around, with the character watching them somberly.
- Attack on Titan: When Eren and Mikasa are leading the way to the Yeager's basement after Shiganshina is reclaimed, they relive the memories of their younger selves running through the once bustling streets and encountering people whom they've long since lost like Hannes and Eren's mother, Carla. This culminates in Eren and Mikasa arriving at the ruins of what used to be the Yeager's home and taking some time to dig through the wreckage for any belongings before entering the basement.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean features a more literal example with Under World, the Stand of Donatello Versus. The power of Under World is to physically unearth memories that are buried in the ground, and force its targets to relive those memories. For example, Donatello finds himself in an area where a plane crash directly occurred years prior, digs up the memory of it, and has Jolyne Cujoh and Ermes Costello directly experience the events of the plane crash.
- Mitarai Ke Enjou Suru: In the first chapter, Murata Anzu is hired to clean the house where she lived once with her family, which now belongs to her father's second wife, Makiko. As Anzu starts working, she remembers the time when her mother made friends with Makiko and how the woman hung around with her two sons, before the fire that changed everyone's lives.
- Played with in Moriarty the Patriot: William leaves information about his past, along with his birth certificate, in a long-abanonded orphanage he grew up in, and the shots of the building are identical panels showing the age of the place much later—but only the readers is really aware of this directly, as Sherlock was the one sent there to retrieve William's old memories in the form of documents.
- Natsume's Book of Friends: In "The Door of Memories" and "Long Way Home", Natsume visits some relatives to pick up the key to the house where he lived with his parents before their deaths. During the visit, he's surrounded by painful memories of the time he passed with these relatives, bullied by his bigoted cousin, and haunted by an evil youkai who wanted to eat his memories. When he finally visits his parents' home, Natsume spots a drawing he did on the wall when he was small, remembering vaguely that his father didn't punish him for this; however, he can't remember anything else about his parents and breaks down in tears.
- The Place Promised in Our Early Days: As Hiroki returns to the hangar where he and Takuya worked on the Bella Cielo at the start of the film, he has a vision of a young Sayuri from her visit to the site three years earlier.
- Tekkaman Blade: Late in the series, D-Boy, who has been suffering increasing Indentity Amnesia every time he transforms into Blade thanks to the Blastor Mode upgrade, takes his girlfriend Aki with him to his family home in Japan. Having lost his family members through various means to the Radam menace, the fond memories he experiences leave him increasingly despondent, culminating in him breaking down crying when he finds a recorded message his twin brother Shinya left for him when they were ten.
- Between the Lines (MrQuestionMark): When Misaki is watching Mikoto practice hitting baseballs in a batting cage with baseball bats controlled through the Magnetism Manipulation, she flashes back to when Touma was trying to get her to be more athletic using batting practice especially because it was at the same batting cages where the events of flashback occurred, with the broken pitching machine still unreplaced.
- Played for Drama in Eleutherophobia: How I Live Now. When Tom enters the tunnels leading to the ruins of the Yeerk Pool, the smell of kandrona brings back awful memories of all the times his Yeerks forced him to swallow it.
- In Holding the World On Their Shoulders, May relives several uncomfortable memories while on a mission in Solitas, recalling both her friendship with the Happy Huntresses (who currently think she's dead) and the abuse she suffered in Atlas.
- Also happens frequently in the sequel, Reignfall. While walking through the streets of Vale, May walks by the spot where she first came out as trans to Winter, leading her to reflect on her and Winter's broken relationship. Later, during the Vytal dance, she notices all the places in the ballroom where she and her old team hung out during the dance eight years prior, which causes her so much emotional turmoil that she has to leave. Winter has the same remembrance when she visits Vale for the Vytal festival, though even more bittersweet for her since she thinks May is dead.
- Inter Nos, a My-HiME AU set in Roman times, has Shizuru and Natsuki reach the edge of the Black Forest, the home of the Ortygians, Natsuki's original people, who were betrayed and murdered several years before. The story makes clear that Natsuki is remembering many things at once at the edge of her former homeland, from the tragic night her people were slaughtered and she was left buried under a pile of her own family's corpses, to the good times when the forest was the home of her people, and they were prosperous. They do not enter the forest, as they are on a mission, and it is clear the forest intimidates Shizuru's army, but Shizuru promises Natsuki that one day they will return so that Natsuki can show her her former home.
- Allegro non Troppo: In the Valse Triste segment, a cat walks through the ruins of a building as he has visions of the happy old days when the apartment where he lived was colorful and habitated. It's revealed in the end that he is a ghost, just like his former owners.
- Anastasia: When Anya, the amnesiac daughter of czar Nicholai, enters the royal palace, she has a vision of ghostly figures dancing in the ballroom, including herself dancing with her father.
- Frozen II: Ahtohallan is a magical glacier that holds memories. Through it, Elsa learns the truth of how the conflict with the Northuldra and the people of Arendale started, with her Grandfather murdering the Northuldran elder in cold blood to help facilitate his Evil Plan to choke off the magic. Elsa, unfortunately, delves too deep, and is frozen solid but not before she uses her powers to let Anna know what she learned.
- Rise of the Guardians: The Tooth Fairy stores all the baby teeth she collects from children around the world in her castle. These baby teeth store the most significant memories of the holder's childhood. Jack is able to use his own baby teeth from when he was alive to remember his past and find his center.
- April Fools' Day: At the beginning of the film, Muffy is cleaning the house she just inherited when she finds a dusty jack-in-the-box. That brings her memories of a childhood birthday party when she was given the beautiful box; but, instead of the usual clown, the doll turned out to be a monster that scared little Muffy out of her wits. That gives her the idea to reunite her pals from college for a very, very special weekend.
- Hook: When Peter Banning stumbles upon the old treehouse he, the Darlings, and Tink used to play in when he was Peter Pan, he starts to unlock all the memories of his time in Neverland, as well as the memories of how he got there and why he left.
- Patton. When Patton walks on an ancient battlefield, he remembers all of the details of the combat that took place. He says it's because he is the reincarnation of one of the soldiers who participated in the conflict.
- Late in Sleepers, Shakes is chatting with Fat Mancho about the ongoing plot to get John and Tommy acquitted for the murder of Noakes and bring attention to the child molestation going on at Wilkinson — only to find himself distracted by the sight of a broken-down fire hydrant. He then flashes back to his childhood when he, John, Tommy, and Michael would play around the same hydrant, back before the four of them were sent to Wilkinson and put on the downward spiral that left them in their current predicament.
- In the climax of X2: X-Men United, the mission to Alkali Lake goes slightly awry when Logan wanders off and stumbles into a laboratory used for implanting test subjects with liquid adamantium. As he delves deeper, he begins experiencing brief flashbacks, until at last he finds a familiar claw mark on the specimen tank and realizes that this was where he became Wolverine; he immediately relives the moment in full, followed closely by his bloody escape from the facility.
- A quite literal example in Beware of Chicken; the earth spirit's shattered remains are in the land, all across the province, and as the fragment of her that's left gradually rebuilds her connections to each piece, she regains her memories of a time long ago. She tries to avoid the Dueling Peaks, knowing that the many memories there will be traumatic, but eventually reconnects to it to save her friends.
- Invoked in Blue Mars. In his experiments to revive long-buried memories of the centuries-old First Hundred (the original settlers of Mars), Sax Russell gathers the survivors in the ruins of Underhill, the first town on Mars that they had founded together.
- It: In a more literal sense. When the Losers Club sans Mike Hanlon left Derry as young adults, they lost their memories of much of their time there, good (their friendships) and bad (their encounters with It). When they return years later to defeat It for good, the memories start coming back. Downplayed, since they start to come back after Mike calls each of them, but Derry itself jogs most of the memories.
- A darker example in Going Postal: For uncertain reasons, the sheer weight of undelivered mail still stuck in the Post Office causes flashbacks to its more functional times, ones that actively manifest as hallucinations. And as Moist finds out, these hallucinations often cover up the Office's current, dilapidated and changed state. This killed his predecessors as they walked onto floors that didn't exist, down stairs that were in no state to hold their weight, or even just overlapped their eyeballs with a past phantom's body and the sheer shock of seeing someone's insides gave them a Hollywood Heart Attack. And it damn near kills him too.
- 'Salem's Lot: When Ben Mears returns to the titular town where he spent part of his boyhood, he finds the memories flooding back — particularly when he sees the Marsten House, where one of his worst memories exists.
- Watership Down: In the collection Tales From Watership Down, a young rabbit basically has a ghost encounter with a group of hunters and a rabbit they'd shot. Fiver consoles the other rabbit by explaining that it's not the soul of the dead rabbit in eternal torment, but a bad memory burned on the clearing where the shooting took place.
- The hill of Cerin Amroth in Lothlórien holds a fair memory for Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. Frodo witnesses him reliving it, and the appendices reveal that it's the memory of Aragorn and Arwen plighting their troth.
- The episode "PK Tech Girl" features Rygel ending up aboard the wreck of the Zelbinion, the Peacekeeper vessel where he was imprisoned for over a century. He quickly finds himself recalling traumatic memories of his first visit, one of the more prominent ones featuring him being stripped of his medallion of office and tortured by the ship's captain.
- In "Into The Lion's Den Part 1," the crew's temporary truce with Scorpius results in Aeryn returning to the Peacekeeper command carrier where she once lived and worked. During a visit to the officer's lounge, she finds herself flashing back to happier times spent playing games of chance in that same lounge with her friend Henta; back in the present, it quickly becomes clear that the entire crew regards Aeryn as a traitor — including Henta.
- House of Anubis: When Sarah is taken back to Anubis House by Victor, she begins to have flashbacks of her childhood living there, both before her parents died and after she was stuck with Victor and his father. Her memories also begin to trigger similar memories in Victor, despite him having lived there all his life.
- NCIS: Los Angeles: When the team are on a beach in Romania, Callen suddenly remembers being on that beach when he was a child.
- Red Dwarf: Lister visits the Disco in an early episode, sitting in the empty room alone while having a Flashback to him and his friends drinking and ribbing each other, including them getting on him for his crush on Kochanski, which he tried to deny.
Lister:(past) Leave it alone! Leave it...
Lister: (present) ...alone.
- In The Sandman (2022) episode "The Sound of Her Wings", Dream happens to stumble upon the derelict ruins of a condemned pub while wandering through London, quickly flashing back to his first visit there in the fourteenth century. Here, he met Hob Gadling and (with help from Death) made him immortal, before bidding him to meet him at the same pub every hundred years to gauge his opinion on immortality. Over the centuries, Hob refused to accept death no matter how miserable his life got, and he and Dream became close... only for the whole thing to fall apart when Hob attempted to acknowledge their friendship in the 19th century, prompting Dream to storm out. Dream ended up missing their next appointment thanks to being captured by Roderick Burgess, and back in the present, he finds that the pub is nothing but ruins, with no sign of Hob's whereabouts. However, he's eventually led to a new pub just down the road, where he finally meets with Hob again and apologizes for keeping a friend waiting.
- The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Elevator", brothers Will and Roger visit a closed factory after their missing father, who was making scientific experiments. Finding the footsteps to an old elevator, they remember how much fun they had riding it when they were children. However, when the elevator arrives, they find out it's not an elevator, but a giant spider that snatches and kills them .
- One episode of Roseanne has Roseanne and Jackie learning that their childhood home is going to be demolished. They sneak in through an upstairs window for a night of visiting and reminiscing, which leads to traumatic memories for Roseanne when she starts flashing back to her father's horrific physical and emotional abuse.
- Much of Westworld Season 1 has Dolores going on a journey of self-consciousness as she starts to gain memories of her past.
- In "Trace Decay", she finds a town with a white church called Escalante where she remembers people dancing, and then, a massacre occurred with her putting a gun to her head.
- Later on in the next episode "The Well-Tempered Clavier", she returns to Escalante and goes into the church's confessional box which leads into one of Delos' underground facilities where she remembers the Delos employees testing on the hosts and Dr. Robert Ford looking completely angry as heads to the office of his partner Arnold Weber. Then, Dolores heads into a room that happens to be the same room where Arnold interviews her during analysis. It is there where Dolores finally remembers that she's the one who killed Arnold.
- Assassin's Creed:
- In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, if you return to Villa Auditore — Ezio's childhood home — and activate Eagle Vision, Ezio will see the "phantoms" of his family members doing everyday tasks, like his mother taking care of the ivy on the walls or his father waiting at the doorway. It serves as quite a sharp reminder of how happy and normal Ezio's life was before everything was ruined.
- In the ending of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, as Edward is ready to leave the Caribbean, he looks to a table at the bar in Nassau he used to hang around in all the time and sees a vision/memory of all his dead friends drinking together.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: When Link finds certain places around Hyrule, he will go into a flashback of one of his lost memories.
- Knights of the Old Republic: The player experiences visions whenever they visit a new planet, allowing them to get a fix on the location of the Star Maps. It's initially believed to simply be the Force guiding you and Bastilla along... up until it's revealed that the player is none other than Darth Revan, the fallen Jedi who first discovered the Star Maps and used them to hunt down the Star Forge. As such, the "visions" you experience upon arriving on new planets are actually fragmentary memories of your past expeditions.
- The Legend of Dragoon:
- Early in the game, Dart has to journey through the forest outside his home village, prompting him to recall a previous visit to the forest in his childhood — during which he saved Shana from a wild beast. As an adult, the memory spurs him onwards in his quest to rescue Shana from Helena Prison.
- In Disc 3, should you decide to veer away from the path to Vellweb and instead visit the ruined Fort Magrad, Rose finds herself overwhelmed by memories of a rally held at the fort in which the commanding officer personally addressed her... even though the last time armies gathered at the fort was over eleven thousand years ago .
- Disc 4 features the heroes finding themselves inside the Moon That Never Sets, the interior of which is a collage of environments taken from the memories of the party. Miranda finds herself drawn to a forest clearing with a single rose at the centre of it — and promptly finds herself flashing back to her traumatic childhood, during which her mother abandoned her in this very forest.
- In Mystery Trackers: The Secret of Watch Hill, player character Agent Amber must return to her hometown of Watch Hill, which she hasn't seen since the deaths of her parents and little brother fifteen years earlier. It's hinted that she has kept a lot of her memories about the place somewhat buried, but as she goes through her childhood house, many of them come back to her. In the next installment, Fatal Lesson, being back at Stillwoods Camp — the place where she trained to become an agent — leads Amber to relive memories of her time as a trainee there, including the deaths of two of her friends.
- Perhaps halfway through Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh, Curtis Craig is able to sneak into Wyntech's underground laboratory; here, he begins to experience flashbacks to a childhood incident in which he observed his father Jonas and Paul Warner conducting experiments on the dimensional portal at the heart of the complex. As Curtis gets closer to the portal, he remembers more and more, until he finally recalls that Warner ran out of test subjects and decided to use young Curtis instead, throwing him into the portal. Thankfully, young Curtis eventually returned from beyond, but stark naked and covered in goo. However, the climax provides additional context, revealing that Curtis didn't return at all: the entities on the other side of the portal replicated the poor kid and kept the original for themselves — and you've been playing as the clone the whole time.
- Planescape: Torment: Visiting certain places where something significant happened to the Nameless One can trigger the return of memories from previous lives.
- In Issue #10 of The Secret World, players visit the Dream Palace in search of information on the Tokyo Bombing. It turns out that John Copley, the suicide bomber who did the deed, paid a visit to the Dream Palace's A/V room some time prior to the incident, and his memories have been imprinted on the place — allowing you to go on an adventure through John's time as a member of the Fear Nothing Foundation, his drunken trip through Tokyo's nightlife, his ultimate corruption, and finally the bombing itself. You even get to witness the moment John transcended physical existence and became the Black Signal. Unfortunately, John is very much aware that you're watching his memories and is not at all happy with you, retaliating with a Poke in the Third Eye.
- Sherlock Holmes Chapter One has Sherlock going to his childhood home in Cordona where he and Jon reminiscence their childhood days. The place holds a lot of clues on the Holmes family's past as well as important clues connected to Violet Holmes' death. The last mission takes place in the garden where Sherlock remembers what had happened to his mother prior to her death though this depends on the player's choice of what led to Violet's death and who's responsible for it.
- Shirou, the protagonist of Fate/stay night, lost his family to a fire that destroyed a large part of his city a decade earlier. He used to go back to the neighborhood, now a memorial park, and imagine interacting with them as if he could literally return to the time they were alive.
I went to the burned field often to look at the scenery.
I went to the place where nothing remained, opened the door that didn't exist, walked through the hallway that didn't exist, and smiled at my mother who wasn't there anymore.
- In Arcane, Jinx goes to the arcade where she and her siblings played as children. She walks around silently for a bit, reminiscing about the past, before starting up the boxing machine Vi used to train. Even as an adult, Jinx' high score is just beneath Vi's.
- BoJack Horseman: In "The Face of Depression," BoJack returns to his house after a long stint in rehab, and is quickly confronted with memories of every bad thing he did while living there. This spurns him to join Alcoholics Anonymous to make sure he never regresses to his old self.
- In the final fight of Season 2 of Castlevania (2017), Dracula knocks Alucard through a wall into Alucard's childhood room. Upon realizing what he's doing, Dracula breaks down sobbing and lets Alucard stake him. In the next episode, Alucard sits down in that same room after his friends leave the castle, watching ghostly images of himself as a child playing with his mother.
- The Dragon Prince: The Historia Viventem spell creates a shimmering blue visual and auditory illusion that reenacts a past event that happened in that location. Lujanne uses it to show Callum what the Moon Nexus looked like in its heyday and Callum uses it to show Rayla what really happened to her parents the day Zym was taken. Because it is dependent on the location and not on the caster, the land itself must hold memories for the spell to draw on.
- Kim Possible: Ron had a horrific time at Camp Wannaweep as a child, which included bug-infested cabins, toxic water, poison ivy, and killer squirrels. He relives the worst memories of it every time he ends up back there.
- The Loud House: In "Camped!", Lynn Sr. attends a camp called Camp Mastodon that he used to go to a lot in his childhood. He gets very nostalgic about everything in the place, even the poison ivy.
- Samurai Jack: In "Jack Remembers The Past", Jack comes across the ruins of his hometown and has flashbacks to his childhood.
- Steven Universe: The Movie: When the Crystal Gems are reset, Steven discovers that their memories can be restored by having them relive the experiences that shaped their personalities. In the case of Spinel, she and Steven go to Pink Diamond's private garden, where they used to play together before Pink was given her own colony. Through the song "Drifting Away", Spinel remembers when Pink asked her to play a "game" in which she would stand perfectly still until she returned; she waited over 6,000 years before finding out that Pink is not only gone, but had no intention of ever coming back.