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Adaptational Early Appearance

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Nomura: We are remaking Final Fantasy VII and I want to you to go back to be a dorky asshole again.
Cloud: That's the best thing I've heard in 23 years. But that means I have to fight Sephiroth again, right?
Nomura: Yeah. And also this will be episodic games.
Cloud: Oh good. At least I don't have to see him that much in the first game right? ...Right?
Nomura: Um...

In the process of creating an adaptation or remake of a work, the natural instinct is to draw from the entire history of the work to create a comprehensive whole but accomplish it in a reduced span of time or alter elements to fit the new medium. This often leads to characters, storylines or concepts being introduced relatively earlier than the original brought them into the picture because it is being shuffled around to match the new narrative.

Among reasons adaptations will employ this include:

  • An Iconic Sequel Character(s) can help boost notoriety and appeal to fans of the source material.
  • Changing around the order of events and character introductions help avoid the new work from being a complete retread.
  • A Retcon that might have jarred from being introduced later in the works' lifespan can have the benefit of better foreshadowing and integrated more naturally.
  • The subject in question was already to have been shown as active for a long time before it is revealed in the work, such as an Ancient Conspiracy, and so bringing it in earlier doesn't really contradict anything.

This is easier to see when elements are introduced in a different order than in the original: whichever element(s) appear first become examples of this trope. Though choosing to have certain characters and objects that tie in to the earlier introduced character Adapted Out can also qualify for this trope.

Note: Adaptations that feature the same characters (including most of their associated personalities) and objects (with the associated appearances and functions) as the source, but have a plot and/or backstory that are invented whole cloth are not this trope. Therefore adaptations in question must be of Types 5-3 on the Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification to qualify.

Also for the benefit for those who are not knowledgeable of whatever works that are cited, please include specific as possible references in order to demonstrate how an example applies (e.g. "Bob didn't appear until episode 24 of the 26 episode long (92.3% into the plot) TV show, but arises in the beginning of the close of the film adaptation's first act of three acts (33% into the plot)." or "In the comics Bob was introduced well after that of his previously established mentor Alice, but in the movie he is introduced without Alice's existence being established").

Compare Canon Immigrant (where a character introduced in a non-canon offshoot of the original source wasn't intended to be part of the main work, but is later incorporated, and retconned to be involved in prior events, due to Popularity Power), Ascended Extra (in which a character in the source material isn't crucial to the plot, but in the adaptation is given more prominence and involvement) and Early-Bird Cameo where a character appears earlier than their introduction in the same work or series. Adaptation Origin Connection is a related trope of this. The inversion of this is Adaptational Late Appearance.

In Anime, which is generally a verbatim adaptation of a manga or light novel series, expect this to be accompanied by Drop-In Character, Your Door Was Open, Stealth Hi/Bye, Offscreen Teleportation, and related tropes. That way, the screenwriter can abruptly insert them midway into scenes they weren't originally part of, then have them leave early so the dialogue from the source material can resume with minimal changes.

Examples, sorted by the medium of the adaptation:


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    Asian Animation 

  • Those Doctor Who Novelisations that were published some years after the TV story was broadcast sometimes added in references to later stories.
    • For instance, the novelization of "The Tenth Planet", the debut appearance of the Cybermen, features a cameo by a Cyber-Controller, establishing that one was present on the ill-fated planet Mondas. On television, the Cyber-Controller was not introduced until "The Tomb of the Cybermen", the species' third appearance.
    • In the novelization of "Terror of the Autons", the bomb that the hypnotized Professor Philips uses to try to kill the Doctor and Jo was retconned into a Sontaran hand grenade.
    • And there's the notorious line in the novelization of "The Time Meddler" where the Doctor refers to the Monk as a Gallifreyan, leading fans who relied on the novelisations to believe that the Doctor's home planet had been named eight years earlier than it was on TV.
    • The novelisation of "Shada" contains a short scene where the Fourth Doctor and Romana gossip about the Corsair, a Time Lord created for the Eleventh Doctor episode "The Doctor's Wife". It also has a number of references to other things introduced after the Fourth Doctor's era, such as Carrionites (first seen in "The Shakespeare Code"), time locks (introduced in "The Stolen Earth") and Visionaries (first seen in "The End of Time").
    • The novelization of "Rose" has several: First off, Conspiracy Theorist Clive Finch has pictures of all of the New Series Doctors up to Thirteen, the incumbent when the book was published ("Rose" was the very first episode of the new series). Second, during the climax, a couple paragraphs show how Donna Noble slept through the Auton attack.
    • Thirteen also plays a role in the novelization of "The Day of the Doctor", meeting up with the Moment and Cass before the latter's fateful encounter with the Eighth Doctor and death in "The Night of the Doctor"
  • Modesty Blaise novels: Jack Fraser, in a sense. His first appearance in the original comic strip was in the very first scene, but the strip ran for two years before it was established that his meek desk jockey persona was just a front for his real and much more capable personality. In the novels, the real Jack Fraser puts in an appearance at the end of the first chapter of the first novel.
  • In Paradise Lost, Raphael and Michael both talk to Adam in the Garden of Eden, even though both appear long after his death in the biblical canon.
  • One such instance occurs in Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner. In the Digital Devil Saga duology, Serph Sheffield appears halfway through the second game. However, in the novels, he appears at the end of the first volume, which is halfway through the first game.

  • When Frozen was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2018, many changes were made to the story. Among them is that Anna's first run-in with Kristoff is during "For the First Time In Forever" right before she runs into Hans, rather than meeting him for the first time at Wandering Oaken's Trading Post & Sauna. In fact, it goes a step further: in the movie, Anna runs into Kristoff at Wandering Oaken's Trading Post & Sauna, then they meet Olaf in the woods the next day, before reaching Elsa's ice palace. In the musical, Anna first meets Kristoff and Olaf before she ever gets to Oaken's. And this is all in the first act (as the story is restructured so that "Let It Go" is the closing number for act I).
  • Hamilton has Marquis De Lafayette appear in the second song of the first act, "Aaron Burr, Sir", which takes place before The American Revolution starts as part of Hamilton's Power Trio alongside John Laurens and Hercules Mulligan. As anyone familiar with American History will know, Lafayette and the French did not get involved until after the American victory at Saratoga, which occurred much later in the war (Saratoga is mostly Adapted Out save for being indirectly alluded to in Lafayette's song "Guns and Ships"). This also applies to Aaron Burr himself, as the earliest Hamilton and Burr would have met was at Valley Forge, which occurred after Saratoga (which is also Adapted Out). Lin-Manuel Miranda justifies this as him needing a quartet of characters that the audience could follow throughout the act. In Burr's case, it is to allow his and Hamilton's relationship as Foils to better progress.
  • Bianca cameos in "Drive" at the Lotus Hotel in The Lightning Thief, the musical adaptation of the first book in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, when she doesn't show up until The Titan's Curse in the book series proper. Additionally, campers like Silena Beauregard, Charles Beckendorf, and Katie Gardener appear/get mentions despite only being introduced in sequel books.
  • Pinocchio: The Musical has Lampwick, the Cat and the Fox appearing earlier than in the original book. In fact, the show makes Lampwick the main reason Pinocchio exists: Geppetto decides to build a puppet rather than have an actual child because there's no risk it would disobey like Lampwick usually does with his mother.
  • Puss in Boots makes a cameo in Shrek: The Musical despite it being an adaptation of the first movie when Puss doesn't appear until Shrek 2.
  • Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark makes Carnage and Swarm, who were introduced in 1992 and 1977, respectively, into founding members of the Sinister Six, a team that's been around in the comics since 1964.
  • Due to A Very Potter Musical using elements from first Harry Potter book in Harry's final year, A Very Potter Sequel (actually a prequel) used the plot of third book in Harry's first year. Meaning Harry gets Lupin as a teacher and meets Sirius Black two years early. Dolores Umbridge is sent by the Ministry to protect the school from Black even though she doesn't appear until book five.
  • Westeros: An American Musical: The Sand Snakes accompany Oberyn to King’s Landing instead of Ellaria, resulting in them debuting the equivalent of an entire A Song of Ice and Fire book early. This gets plenty of mention in their debut song, "Hisstorically Inaccurate".

    Video Games 
  • The tie-in game for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 sees Carnage appear before Venom.
  • Batman: Arkham Series: As established in the prequel Batman: Arkham Origins, Bane and his right hand man Bird, Killer Croc, Black Mask, Lady Shiva, Anarky, and Deathstroke are among the earliest major villains Batman has faced, and predates characters like Robin, Batgirl, and Mr. Freeze, while in the comics they did not appear until long after those other characters.
  • Beast Wars: Transformers: While the animated series had Maximal Airazor and Predacon Inferno as later recruits to their respective factions found from the stasis pods scattered around prehistoric Earth, the video game depicted them as established members of their respective teams from the beginning.
  • Black Mesa: The mod features cameos by Half-Life 2 supporting characters Eli Vance, Isaac Kleiner, and Barney Calhoun, with mentions of Wallace Breen and Arne Magnusson. All of these characters, while technically present in the original Half-Life due to retcons, were indistinguishable from all the other NPCs.
  • CP3D: Rookie and PH. They are both agents for the PSA and EPF respectively. In the original Club Penguin, they appear in missions, and are later introduced as meetable mascot characters. In CP3D, they were meetable as mascots before the PSA is ever introduced.
  • Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, despite being based on the last Crash Bandicoot title Naughty Dog worked on, includes characters from the post-Naughty Dog era of the series including Crunch, N. Trance, the bosses from Crash Nitro Kart, Nina Cortex, Pasadena O'Possum, Ebeneezer Von Clutch, Rilla Roo, Yaya Panda from Crash Nitro Kart 2 and Megamix. In addition, Chick and Stew from the same game as Pasadena and Von Clutch are back as commentators (and later racers).
  • Dante's Inferno: In The Divine Comedy, Satan, though discussed about intermittently by the protagonist and Virgil during their journey through the Nine Circles of Hell, is seen in person by the poets in the last circle at the very center of Hell. In the videogame loosely based on the poem, Lucifer plays a far more active role and is first seen on Earth taking Beatrice's soul before Dante has gone through the Gate of Hell.
  • 007: From Russia with Love, the Licensed Game of From Russia with Love, gives James Bond several gadgets that wouldn't appear until later films. Among other things, he gets to use the jetpack from Thunderball in the Justified Tutorial, and acquires Q's tricked-out Aston Martin DB-5 from Goldfinger on the third level. Most notably, he uses both the rappelling belt and laser watch from GoldenEye, which was made more than 30 years later, in the game.
  • Dragon Ball Z The Legacy Of Goku II:
    • In the original manga, Mr. Satan (AKA Hercule) first appears during the Cell Games. As Legacy of Goku II adapts the events of the Androids/Cell Saga (of which the aforementioned Cell Games are the last act), he is introduced just after the warning about the arrival of the androids within three years time in West City taking part in a parade in his honor.
    • Zig-zagged in regards to Cooler. Cooler, an antagonist from two Non-Serial Movies which would have occurred sometime within the aforementioned three years, arrives shortly after a mission in which either Gohan or Piccolo have stopped a tribe of Triceratops from trying to run farmers off their land (which occurs prior to the heroes training for the Android's attack) only to issue a challenge to fight against Goku and then flies off. It's not until one completes a prolonged sidequest of finding seven missing Namekians to get them to New Namek (where Cooler is waiting) which even at the earliest can't be completed until the game's third to last mission (the one immediately prior to the Cell Games) at which point Cooler wouldn't have been present. note 
  • Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition is a 3D retelling of the original game, but includes Iconic Sequel Characters Mai Shiranui and Kim Kaphwan from Fatal Fury 2 as part of the cast. Ryuji Yamazaki from Fatal Fury 3 and Li Xiangfei from Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 are also playable.
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake (an Adaptation Expansion of the "Midgar" arc of the original game):
    • In the original Final Fantasy VII (1997), Tifa is first encountered after the Reactor explosion. In Remake, Jessie asks Cloud about Tifa during the Reactor mission and she is briefly seen in a flashback as a child.
    • In the 1997 version, Sephiroth is not encountered in the flesh (sort of. For most of the original game, the Sephiroth you're pursuing is actually various Jenova figments shapeshifting as him.) until the Junon cargo ship, and in Remake, he appears multiple times during the Midgar section as one of Cloud's Helpful Hallucination visions. (This was an idea planned for the original that was cut - Dummied Out scenes on the 1997 version's disc show Cloud having a hallucination of a gigantic Sephiroth while riding the pinball table.)
    • Shiva, Ifrit and Leviathan all appear as summons in Midgar, much earlier than Summon magic can be acquired in the 1997 version - this is because Remake only consists of Midgar, and the developers felt a Final Fantasy game needed to have the Summons in it.
    • In the original game, Yuffie first appears as a Random Encounter after the party leaves Midgar. In Remake, her DLC episode has her enter the story sometime after the events at Mako Reactor 5, although she doesn't directly interact with the party.
    • Cait Sith makes an early appearance arriving too late to stop the destruction of Sector 7. (Pedant's note - Cait Sith technically appeared much earlier in the original, showing up in a room in the Honeybee Inn, but in a much more ambiguous scene that makes it hard to tell if it counts.)
  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes:
    • Kronya shows up much earlier than she does in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, where she was a boss in Chapter 10. In Three Hopes, she is the boss of the second chapter, where you infiltrate her fortress to rescue Monica, the girl she uses as a disguise in Three Houses.
    • Nader appears as a sub-boss in Chapter 3 of Claude's story route, Golden Wildfire. In Three Houses, he didn't show up until after the Time Skip as a sub-boss in one of Edelgard's chapters (and the boss of her paralogue) and an NPC ally on Claude's route.
  • In the Anniversary remaster of Halo: Combat Evolved, 343 Guilty Spark is introduced in a terminal message where he warns you that your ship is getting too close to the ring. The rest of the terminals delve into his backstory.
  • Gundam vs. Gundam NEXT introduced the hero and eponymous Gundam from the novel Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn before the anime adaptation had ever aired.
  • In Mega Man Powered Up, a remake of Mega Man, there is an option to play as Proto Man, who did not appear in the series' original run until Mega Man 3.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid: Zero Mission is a remake of Metroid, yet it features items and abilities that didn't exist in the original, but debuted in later games. As well, Kraid and Ridley are based on their appearances in Super Metroid, and Samus's distinctive Varia Suit design after the Zero Suit sequence originally appeared in Metroid II: Return of Samus. Notably, the Power Grip is based on an ability from Metroid Fusion that didn't require an item to use.
    • The X Parasites were introduced in Metroid Fusion, the fourth game in the 2D series, as creatures that resurged in number when Samus eradicated the Metroids, the predators of the X, in Metroid II: Return of Samus. The remake of Metroid II, Metroid: Samus Returns, shows off the X in the murals unlocked through item collection that depict the history of the Chozo on SR-388, and a present-day X Parasite infects a Hornoad in The Stinger.
  • Mortal Kombat:
  • Ratchet & Clank (2016) includes a lot of the weapons that were introduced in R&C games after the first one (that is, all of them), including the Bouncer (Going Commando), Combuster, Mr. Zurkon, Groovitron (Tools of Destruction), Plasma Striker (A Crack in Time), and Warmonger (All 4 One). Also, as a "reimagining" of the plot of the first game, Dr. Nefarious appears, but in his organic form prior to his Unwilling Roboticization.
  • The PSP port of Persona 3 featured characters that first appeared in Persona 4 in cameos: Ms. Kashiwagi for the male protagonist's route, and Yukiko Amagi for the female protagonist's.
  • The 2002 remake of the first Resident Evil features Jill's and Chris's main outfit from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Resident Evil – Code: Veronica respectively as unlockable outfits.
  • Sword Art Online's "Gameverse" not only makes Leafa and Sinon into SAO Survivors in this version of events, but it also makes Yuuki a bonus boss/character in Hollow Fragment before introducing her as a full party member in Lost Song, which takes place before this continuity's version of Gun Gale Online. In the main continuity, Leafa is introduced after Aincrad, Sinon in GGO, and Yuuki is introduced AFTER the incident involving GGO.
  • Yoshi made retroactive cameos in the Super Mario Bros.. trilogy by way of video game remakes. In Super Mario Bros. DX (a remake of the first Super Mario Bros.), there's a block hidden in each level in Challenge Mode, each holding a Yoshi egg. Collect it, and Yoshi will hatch out during the point tally. When Super Mario Bros. 2 was remade as Super Mario Advance, you can unlock an extra mode where you can find two Yoshi eggs in each level. Find all the eggs in each world, and Yoshis would hatch out of them. Finally, Super Mario Bros. 3 was remade for Super Mario All-Stars and as Super Mario Advance 4, and in both versions, the King of World 7 had been transformed into a Yoshi rather than a Piranha Plant.
  • Alan Wake Remastered has a letter from the Federal Bureau of Control appear on Sheriff Breaker's desk.
  • Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters has Amon Sur appear as the villain in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions while Sinestro is still a loyal Green Lantern, when the comics version of the character made his debut long after Sinestro was discharged from the Corps and became a villain wielding a yellow power ring in addition to eventually becoming a member of the Sinestro Corps.

  • The Beginning After the End:
    • In the original novel, none of the Lances are named during the announcement of the Council. In the webcomic, each of the six Lances are introduced by name during the announcement, when in the novel they were only named in a scene covering the aftermath of Alea's death (a scene which was Adapted Out). This serves to give the audience an earlier introduction to the Lances, in particular Alea (the Lance whom Arthur becomes the successor of during the War Arc) and Bairon (the brother of Arthur's nemesis Lucas Wykes, whose earlier introduction underscores how Arthur needs to be careful about having made an enemy of one of the most influential houses in Xyrus). In addition, an original scene has Arthur and Claire meeting those two Lances in person, as in the original novel Arthur does not meet Alea until he finds her dying in Widow's Crypt and Bairon until he gets arrested in the aftermath of the attack on Xyrus.
    • The Jasmine: Wind-Borne side story, released in the gap between Seasons 5 and 6 of the webcomic, features several characters who only appear much later in the novel. The most notable example is Jasmine's Abusive Parent Trodius, who does not appear until Volume 7 of the novel.
  • The Devilman: In the source material the Archangel Michael is introduced in one of the sequels, Devilman Lady, in this series they are introduced during the time of the original series.
  • Fate/Gamers Only:
    • Tomoe Gozen, whose True Name isn't revealed until her first appearance in the third Pseudo-Singularity in Part 1.5, is part of Rikku's first summon.
    • Blackbeard ends up in Chaldea before his official first appearance in Okeanos to send extra outfits for Rikku to wear and influence events. While sneaking around, he laughs about no one knowing who he is yet because they haven't been to Okeanos.
  • In Erstwhile's telling of Snow-White and Rose-Red, the second prince appears about halfway through the story, in search of his missing brother (the bear). In the original tale he only appears at the end in order to Pair the Spares.

    Web Original 
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
    • Early on in the Saiyan Saga, there's a cutaway to Nail and Guru on Namek, the former so bored he wishes something exciting would happen soon.
    • Episode 18 (set in the Freeza Saga) has a brief appearance from Future Trunks, just before he departs for the past (future?).
    • Episode 59's ending shows Videl as a little girl watching the Cell Games, seven in-universe years before she meets Gohan in the Buu Saga.
    • Bardock: Father of Goku Abridged has Bardock, in his final glimpse into the future before his death, sees Perfect Cell, Majin Buu, and the Para Brothers, none of whom he saw in the original.
  • Magma Dragoon, Mac and Green Biker Dude Dude are the other badasses posing next to Zero in Something about Mega Man X.
  • The original toyline early on in its life aside, most Beast Wars fiction portrays the Maximal/Predacon conflict happening centuries after the Autobots and Decepticons gave way to the two (putting aside the time travel to prehistoric Earth). The Transformers: Power of the Primes sees Optimus Primal interacting with the Autobots and Depecticons without the use of time travel, including working with the original Megatron and once he's resurrected, Primal's own namesake, the original Optimus Prime.
  • As Vaguely Recalling JoJo is an adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, there are comedic scenes where characters from the other parts will show up
    • Vanilla Ice is seen playing card games with the D'Arby Brothers when Joseph is using Hermit Purple. He and Telence also appear in a photo of Dio created by Hermit Purple.
    • Giorno Giovanna is seen in background events with his dad, DIO.
    • Yoshikage Kira is the owner of the dog devoured by Yellow Temperance.
    • Illuso shows up Polnareff and Kakyoin talk about the non-existance of a world inside the mirror.
    • Josuke Higashikata, Yuriko Yamagishi, and Keicho Nijimura show up during Steel Dan's underclassman rant.
    • Rohan Kishibe is the mangaka who interacts with Boingo.
    • Page looks like Pesci, which doubles as a pun and then Straizo spares him, so he's alive during part 5 somehow.