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Back for the Finale

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"Ha ha ha! Final episode stunt casting!"
Phil Ken Sebben, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law

When a character from a serial work who hasn't appeared for some time returns for the Grand Finale.

Writers want to end on a high note, and to really make that Grand Finale impactful, it helps to make it encapsulate all the best parts of their work. So it's only natural that the finales bring back all types of character, minor or major, for the sake of a rewarding viewers for keeping up with the continuity, paying off a joke set up long ago, or show what those characters have done with their lives.


In more dramatic works, this can often overlap with Back for the Dead, since if it's the last time we're ever going to see these characters, the writer has no reason to keep them alive, so Metafictional Thermodynamics tell us the writer will surely kill them.

Often a Sub-Trope of The Bus Came Back, where a character returns to the show after there was a reason given for their absence.

Not to be confused with Last Episode, New Character, where character appears for the first time in the finale. When everybody comes back, it's a Continuity Cavalcade. Can overlap with Chekhov's Gunman, if the returning character previously had a very minor role in the plot but ends up playing a large part in the climax of the story, or Climactic Battle Resurrection, if they not only return to the story, but also return to life.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In the final chapter of Mahou Sensei Negima! Chao Lingshin returns from the future.
  • Great Mazinger: Nearly all Mazinger Z characters were Put on a Bus in the end of the last episode of the series. However, three of them — The Hero Kouji Kabuto, Action Girl Sayaka Yumi and The Professor Yumi — returned during the final arc of the sequel to help to take down the Mykene Empire.
  • Pokémon:
    • Many of Ash's pre-Sinnoh Pokémon show up for the Sinnoh League, including his newly-evolved Quilava. Gliscor also returns to the main team after spending some time away training.
    • Earlier, Ash calling upon his original Pokémon team (apart from Pikachu, Butterfree and Pidgeotnote ) for the Battle Frontier finale.
    • During the Kalos League, Ash calls back his Goodra to have his full Kalos team.
    • After spending a good amount of time in Ultra Space during Sun and Moon, Ash's Poipole returns as a Naganadel during the last stretch of the Alola League ready to fight off one of the escaped Guzzlord and becoming Ash's sixth teammate for his exhibition battle against Prof. Kukui.
  • Dragon Ball
    • During the final chapters of Dragon Ball Z, virtually every single character who ever appeared in the entire series is shown giving Goku their energy for the final Genki Dama. Except Lunch, because Akira Toriyama had replaced her with No. 17 in the last second.
    • The anime rectifies this by giving Lunch a cameo.
    • In the finale of Dragon Ball GT, everyone in the universe contributed to the Genki Dama.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann plays with it - Kamina comes Back from the Dead late into the series to give some encouraging words to Simon, but he doesn't stick around after he leaves the Multi-Dimensional Labyrinth. However, in The Movie, he's reincarnated in the form of the team's ultimate mecha, the Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
  • Fran's dream in the final chapter of Franken Fran has every single character (even the whale girl and the Flying Spaghetti Monster) attending a party.
  • The final chapter of I"s has Itsuki appear, who left for America around the series' first-third climax, via a video message she recorded for Ichitaka.
  • The final episode of the Mega Man Star Force anime has all the characters at one of the main characters' concerts. While looking around with his See-Thru Specs, Geo sees all of the FMians from the first season of the show in the background, watching along with their former hosts. This would make much more sense if they weren't all dead, already.
  • Yugi (from Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters) shows up to play Judai for the last duel of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
    • For that matter, in the original manga, Kaiba, who'd been written out after Battle City, returned for a cameo in the final chapter.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 2 has Speedwagon (who was recovering after his unfortunate run-in with Those Wacky Nazis), Smokey Brown (who was caring for Joseph Joestar's grandmother while he was away), and Stroheim (who got badly damaged during an earlier fight with Kars) appear to help Joseph fend off an army of vampires while he fights Kars.
  • Toward the end of Cowboy Bebop, Faye sees one of the hosts of the recurring Show Within a Show Big Shot (which had announced its cancellation in an earlier episode) in an airport.
  • Kaiba shows up at the last page of the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, after he had not appeared since the end of the Battle City arc.
  • The human cast of Transformers Armada appeared in the last episode of Transformers Cybertron...
  • Slayers Next ends with, among other things, the wedding of Martina and Zangulus. Vrumugun, one of a set of sorcerer copies who aided Zangulus in battle in the original series, can be seen in the audience. Without a gem on his forehead, suggesting that he may be the original.
  • The final episode of Princess Tutu features several cameos from some of the one-shot character—mostly as hapless victims for the Raven.
  • Black Butler: After the battle of London is over: Prince Soma, Agni and the cook who accidentally poisoned people with Kali Mah, all return to hand out Curry to the survivors.
  • In the final episode of Jungle King Tar-Chan, the entire Corgan family shows up for Tar-chan's wedding as well as Zhou, Renhou, Li Gong, Blue Clan, Helen and Alice. Impressive, considering Pedro had only a day or two to send out invitations.
  • Kuwabara returns for the final episode of Yu Yu Hakusho after being written out early on in the final arc.
  • Almost every ally and former bad guy in Akazukin Chacha showed up at Seravy and Dorothy's wedding. The only one who didn’t was the main villain, Daimao, but that’s to be expected.
  • In Brave10, Hanzo vanishes and is practically never mentioned after Kamanosuke joins, but he's back once Anastasia betrays the team. It turns out He's Just Hiding!.
  • Ushio and Tora: Pretty much every single ally and neutral character that Ushio and Tora met throughout their adventures and is still alive ends up helping in the final war against Hakumen. Then Saya invokes Backupfrom Otherworld and invokes pretty much all the dead allies and neutral characters (and even a few ex-villains) that Ushio and Tora met or avenged throughout their adventures.
  • Gintama in the Grand Finale Silver Soul Arc involves the return of not only all of Edo residents in defending Earth from the Liberation Army and Utsuro and among those include Kyuubei and the rest of the Yagyuu Clan, Sacchan and Zenzou, The Shinsengumi after the absence following Farewell Shinsengumi Arc along with Matsudaira, Gintoki's robot-double Kintoki, Pirako and Jirocho, Onmyoji and Shikigami, Hedoro, and even the Miko Sisters. Even Prince Hata and Jii makes a return after a long absence in the series apart from the anime.
  • Last Period's final episode has all of the five-stars summoned by Wiseman and all of the one-stars summoned by Haru return to help the heroes in the final battle.
  • Arabian Nights: Adventures of Sinbad: Many past characters make a surprise comeback in the final episode to help Sinbad track down his long-time enemy.
  • Episode 50 of GO-GO Tamagotchi! (episode 271 of the series overall), while it only features the characters as brief cameos, has a bunch of previously-seen characters looking on as the Tama-Friends are cheering up Tamagotchi Planet to stop it from crying and end the Tamagottsun. Mametchi's mentor Ikaritchi from Yume Kira Dream and Kizunatchi and Hatokamitchi from the final episodes of the original installment are just two examples of these cameos.
  • Fairy Tail many old allies of the Fairy Tail guild make their return during the war against the Alvarez Empire, with a couple of cameos all over Fiore as their magic is brought together to defeat Acnologia.
  • Attack on Titan has Annie Leonhart AKA the Female Titan, encases herself in a crystal prison and remain there for the rest of the series. Until Eren commences the Rumbling and destroys the walls, in turn destroying her crystal. Allowing Annie to participate in the series' final arc.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • Global Frequency concerns a trouble-shooting organization with agents worldwide, and for most of its run each issue features new characters in a new place, with the organization's leader and its head of communications as the only recurring characters. The final issue features a planetary-scale threat, and agents from earlier issues are shown helping deal with it.
  • The final issue of Teen Titans vol. 3 (fittingly enough, issue #100) has a large number of former Titans showing up for the Grand Finale battle against Superboy-Prime. A number of characters who'd been written out of the book such as Blue Beetle, Miss Martian, Aquagirl, Bombshell and Damian Wayne were among those who showed up for the battle.
  • Every season finale of Transformers: More than Meets the Eye brings back as many major and minor characters as possible, even if it's just for bit cameos. For instance, issue 50 goes out of it's way to give all the recurring characters brief appearances before the big showdown between the Lost Light crew and the DJD. This is done partly as a preventative measure, so that the comic could still end with a degree of closure/satisfaction if it didn't get picked up for more issues.
  • Taken to the highest possible extreme in The Sandman, where Dream's funeral is attended by every single being that lives or has ever lived. In practice this means almost every character to have played a role in the series, plus cameos by many members of the DC Universe, plus the reader.
  • The penultimate arc of Red Sonja: The Forgiving of Monsters has all of Sonja's allies from the previous dozen issues (the six artisans, Ayla and Nias, uncountable representatives of unnamed villages, and even Annisia) show up at her sickbed.
  • Ultimate Marvel

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin's babysitter Rosalyn returned for one final story arc three months before the strip ended after being absent for the second half of its life.

    Fan Works 
  • Ancienverse: Almost every character that was in Teamwork and Turbulence comes back once more in Tribulations for the final battle.
  • In Paper Mario X, all of the old partners from the other Paper Mario X series return for Link and Zelda's wedding.
  • In Peanuts fanfic Everybody's Gotta Leave Sometime, Shermy, a character who was present in the early years of the strip but vanished after 1969, reappears to say his last goodbye to Charlie Brown, at the same time lamenting the fact that he'll never be featured in a canon story again.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: After being absent from the story proper, Toji Suzuhara returns for the epilogue.
  • In Zelda's Honor, Ingo Gorman returns for the last chapter after being absent for the entirety of Act 3.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Just about every former teen character in the American Pie movies returned in American Reunion.
  • George (Jeffrey Weisman) and Lorraine McFly (Lea Thompson), and Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson), all return for one of the final scenes of Back to the Future Part III, although Thompson and Wilson had played their characters' ancestors in 1885 for most of the film.
  • The Adam Sandler comedy Big Daddy ends with a celebration at a restaurant for Sonny Koufax's birthday party attended (or at least visited by) no fewer than nine of Sonny's friends and foes throughout the course of the movie; this includes a surprise final appearance by Vanessa and Sid, who have not appeared on screen for about an hour and have been barely even referred to in the film's dialogue since. There had also been a slightly earlier scene set in a courtroom featuring even more minor characters appearing as witnesses in Sonny's trial after he defrauds the New York social services department, with the prosecuting attorney pointing out that Sonny is "parading his buddies" through the courtroom instead of summoning credible witnesses.
  • Spoofed (and lampshaded by the creators in the DVD commentary) at the end of Bubble Boy when almost every single human and animal character from the movie's entire running time gets shoehorned into the final scene, including a random vulture.
  • Fredericks from The Dark Knight Trilogy fits the description. In the first movie, he was a minor supporting character played by John Nolan (Christopher Nolan's uncle), notable for remarking that "The apple has fallen very far from the tree, Mr. Wayne." While he appeared in one of the viral "Gotham Tonight" videos, he was absent from the second movie. He returns for the final part of the trilogy, though, and his role is a bit more pivotal than before.
  • Lampshaded in Flags of Our Fathers, one of the generals complains about how everyone in the army wants to get to Tokyo for the "big finish".
  • Dr. Lawrence Gordon comes back for Saw 3D. He hasn't been seen since the original Saw I, six movies ago.
  • Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over brings virtually all the characters who appeared in the last two movies.
  • Wesley reappears in Star Trek: Nemesis. Albeit only briefly, and only in the widescreen version. He was originally supposed to have a short scene with Picard and Dr. Crusher explaining how he's going to serve on a new ship (the Titan), but it was cut very early in the editing process. Wil Wheaton has the full explanation on his blog.
  • Star Wars: Billy Dee Williams and Ian McDiarmid return as Lando Calrissian and Palpatine/Darth Sidious respectively in The Rise of Skywalker, the final film of the Skywalker Saga.
  • Avengers: Endgame is chocked full of this as expected of the climax and ending to the Infinity Saga.

  • Angels of Music is a collection of novellas about a detective agency specialising in weird cases, with agents coming and going from story to story. In the final novella, written specially for the collection, the agency itself is under threat, and all the agents from the preceding stories return to help. The conspiracy threatening the agency also turns out to involve most of the surviving villains from the earlier stories.
  • Alex Rider: Scorpia Rising sees the return of Julius Grief, Alex's clone introduced in Point Blanc.
  • Gally reappears in The Death Cure, the final book of The Maze Runner Trilogy, as part of the Right Arm.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Near the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, many of Harry's allies gather at Hogwarts just before the final battle with Voldemort and the Death Eaters.
    • The whole book itself would qualify: it's easier to list the characters that don't come back to make an appearance in this book. Even if they're dead.
  • The Last Battle, the final book in the Narnia series, sees just about every character ever mentioned in the entire series showing up for the climax.
  • Discworld is so long that it essentially has three finale books tying up the various sub-series, and all three feature characters returning for one final appearance.
  • Rose appears in the first two chapters of The Mental State. In the second, she is viciously raped by street thugs and then horrified by the sight of her enraged boyfriend, Zack, stabbing several of them with a knife (one fatally). She runs away in terror and is not seen again until Zack is released from prison in the final chapter. She has just about recovered from her ordeal, although she is a little quieter than she once was.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Stormfur and Brook appear in the last paragraph of Twilight, just in time to be important characters again in Sunset, the finale of The New Prophecy.
    • For the then-Grand Finale of the series, The Last Hope, the Erins brought back most of the cast of the Original Series, along with several minor characters who hadn't appeared for a while, and a ton of other characters from the backstory of the series, all as Backup from Otherworld.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ally McBeal: Billy, big love of Ally's life who deceased unexpectedly.
  • The Amazing Race has all the eliminated teams at the Finish Line to cheer on the Final 3.
  • Happens several times in American Horror Story:
    • In Coven, Stevie Nicks returns in the Cold Open of the finale after last appearing in episode 10.
    • In Freak Show, Edward Mordrake and his craven coterie, now including Twisty the Clown, reappear in the finale after their last appearance in episode 4.
  • In the Season 6 of Arrow, Sara appears for the final few minutes, having been absent since the Crisis on Earth-X crossover (justified by her being on her own show), just in time to learn of her father dying on the operating table.
  • Ashes to Ashes (2008) brought back Nelson, who owned the Railway Arms in Life On Mars as some sort of St Peter figure who guides all the dead coppers to heaven. The series creators also considered bringing back John Simm as Sam Tyler, but it was decided that his presence might detract from Alex Drake's (Keeley Hawes) story, and they wanted the focus to be on her.
  • Several characters from the first seasons returned for the Grand Finale of the Peruvian TV series Asi Es La Vida, to rescue the current protagonists that had been kidnapped by the Big Bad.
  • Susan Ivanova (Claudia Christian) appeared in the finale of Babylon 5, after being absent for the entire final season. However, this was because a shooting schedule shuffle when the possibility of a fifth season was uncertain due to network issues. B5 got the season, but Christian didn't return for the final season.
  • Lt Buck Compton in Band of Brothers.
  • The finale of Beverly Hills, 90210 brought back Andrea, Valerie, and Brandon, albeit the latter in a video message.
  • Blake's 7 brought Blake back for the final episode, and had him bloodily shot dead. This was because the actor was fed up with the part and wanted it to be unambiguously the last time he would have to play the role in case the show got Un-Cancelled.
  • Bones brought back Zack for two episodes in season 4, an episode in season 5, and the finale of season 11, where he was seemingly revealed to be the season's Big Bad.
  • In the series finale of Breaking Bad, Walt tracks down Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz and forces them into an elaborate plan to get his drug money to his children. He also enlists Badger and Skinny Pete for the plan, after they had all but vanished from the show.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel:
    • Angel appears in the first and last episodes of Buffy. He departs both episodes in the same way, smiling and vanishing into shadows.
    • Faith returns for the last five episodes of Buffy following her redemption arc on Angel.
    • The Buffy season 2 finale "Becoming" brought back every major character from the first 2 seasons who wasn't dead... And a couple who were.
    • Giles returns for the Season 6 finale of Buffy, after his departure in episode 8 of the season. (Anthony Stewart Head was spending too much time away from his kids and got a little freaked out.)
    • Some of the former regulars are in season 7 of Buffy in spirit. Oz got a casual mention from Xander, and Cordelia (who had been shifted to Angel) appeared in a piece of footage from "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered".
    • Oz's final on-screen appearance is in Willow's dream in the season 4 finale of Buffy, "Restless".
    • The First Evil, an incorporeal body which can only inhabitant the dead, takes the form of each Big Bad we've encountered thus far in "Lessons": Master, Adam, Glory, etc. One of them, Harry Groener, reappears as the Mayor to taunt Faith in "Touched".
    • Sarah Michelle Gellar offered to return as Buffy for Angel's series finale, but Joss Whedon turned her down because he wanted the finale to be about Angel and the gang, not about Buffy. However, the finale did bring back Lindsey and Connor.
    • Spike makes an unexpected return at the end of the Buffy Season 8 comic season.
  • The Series Finale of Charmed had recurring characters Victor Bennet, Grams, Future Wyatt, and Patty return along with old leads Leo and Future Chris. Shannen Doherty did not return though, because of a variety reasons but most notably 1) Because she was too expensive and 2) She said no.
  • Diane Chambers (Shelley Long) returned for "One for the Road", the Grand Finale of Cheers.
  • The Colbert Report has on Stewart and nearly a couple of hundred guests who had appeared the Report show up for the curtain call (including Smaug, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster), along with every member of the show staff.
  • CSI closed out with a special 2-hour movie that brought back Gil Grissom, Catherine Willows, and Jim Brass. Inverted for Nick Stokes, as his actor left in the last regular episode of the series right before the finale and didn't make an appearance.
  • The Daily Show brought back all of the past correspondents for Jon Stewart's last show. Every last one. Including the previous host Craig Kilborn.
  • Desperate Housewives brought back Katherine Mayfair (Dana Delaney, who had her own series at the time) for the finale, along with many characters who were killed on Wysteria Lane over the seasons.
  • Walter was brought back for the finale of A Different World just in time to see Dwayne and Whitley off to their new life in Japan, but not Denise, Stevie, Lettie, Maggie, or Millie.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Ray Vecchio returned for the two-part finale of Due South.
  • The Grand Finale of Earth: Final Conflict brings back Liam Kincaid, who was missing for the whole final season and presumed dead, just in time to help stop the season's Big Bad Howlyn from unleashing a powerful Atavus warship and an army of Atavus warriors on the unsuspecting Earth. Surprisingly, no one else came back. William Boone, the protagonist of Season 1, was brought back earlier in the season, only to be unceremoniously Killed Offscreen while performing a very uncharacteristic action.
  • A number of old characters made appearances in the last few episodes of ER, including, most notably, Drs Carter, Corday, Weaver, and (via flashback) Greene.
    • Dr. Ross (George Clooney) and Nurse Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) also made an appearance together in an episode the last season.
    • Corday, Benton, and Lewis also returned for the final episode (and Benton even managed to appear in an episode before that). In addition, Romano returned in the same flashback episode as Greene (this due to Romano also being Killed Off for Real in Season 10).
  • The series finale of Eureka brought back Jordan Hinson as Zoe Carter.
    • Brought back Matt Frewer as Taggart as well. Even had him chasing down the dog Lojack.
  • Several editions of the Eurovision Song Contest find a way to bring all the participants back together for either the grand final interval act (such as all the 2014 finalists joining Emmelie de Forest's performance of "Rainmaker") or the winner's reprise. A notable example of the latter was in 1999, when the other 22 contestants and the dancers from the interval act not only returned to the stage to dance along to Charlotte Nilsson's reprise of "Take Me to Your Heaven," but also to sing 1979 winner "Hallelujah" together as a tribute to the victims of the Balkan War.
  • "The Peacekeeper Wars", the Wrap It Up for Farscape, brought back departed regular character Jool, only to kill her off as a Kick the Dog moment for the villains.
  • The Season 3 finale of The Flash brings back Jay Garrick, Gypsy, Harry (although he appeared in a few scenes in the previous episode), and the Black Flash to battle Savitar. Additionally, the Speed Force itself makes an appearance as Nora Allen to take Barry into the Speed Force, as he has reached his finish line. The Season 4 finale brings back Wally, who is now a regular on Legends of Tomorrow, for the final few minutes. And also Ralph, who was thought dead but has managed to regain his body from DeVoe.
  • The series finale of Frasier brought back Anthony La Paglia as Simon, Daphne's brother.
  • Fringe brought back Lincoln and Altlivia in the first hour of the two-part finale. The various means the team uses to battle the Observers is also a greatest-hits collection of prior Fringe events.
  • Steve, DJ's boyfriend in Full House.
  • The series finale of Glee brought back almost every former member of New Directions for one final performance, with the exception of Finn, Marley, Rory, and Myron. Finn's actor was deceased, and Marley and Rory's had scheduling conflicts. The actor who played Myron filmed the final number but was edited out since he wouldn't realistically be able to portray an 18 year old in the Distant Finale - though he does appear earlier in the episode. The final season also worked to bring back several non-glee club recurring characters, including some who had been Put on a Bus earlier in the series, such as Will's ex-wife Terri, former bully Karofsky (as Blaine's brief boyfriend), and Jesse St. James (who later marries Rachel).
  • Gossip Girl had Jenny and Eric returning for Serena and Dan's wedding; the finale also saw Juliet, Vanessa and others in cameos finding out Dan was Gossip Girl.
  • Carol Seaver on Growing Pains; the actress who played her suffered from anorexia, and while she was being treated her character was Put on a Bus to London to explain her absence. But she was allowed to come back for the series finale.
  • The Happy Days finale had Richie and Lori Beth turning up for Joanie and Chachi's wedding.
  • Head of the Class: precocious pre-teen Janice, who was already several years ahead in school, had left high school early to attend college, returned for Graduation.
  • The final two-part episode of Highlander: The Series featured the returns of Tessa and Richie, as the episode took place in a world where Duncan MacLeod never existed.
  • In an alternate ending, The Hills saw the return of Lauren Conrad, who had left the show two seasons prior.
  • The series ending movie of Homicide: Life on the Street included every single regular the series had, including those who had been killed off.
  • House brought back Cameron, Stacy, Masters, Dominika, and Chase (who admittedly hadn't been gone for very long), though some of them were cameos of the "hey look, there's X in the third row" variety. Kutner and Amber also reappeared as hallucinations.
  • During the last season of How I Met Your Mother, most of the minor characters came back for a cameo or "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue moment. Many were done in a 30-second montage in the penultimate episode before the finale (Ted even remembers Blah Blah's name, finally.)
  • The final episode of Hustle features the return of Stacie. Also of Danny, but we don't find that out til the end.
  • Before the final battle of the original Iron Chef, every previous challenger from the entire series entered Kitchen Stadium one last time. A scene sadly cut from the Food Network version. Out of over three hundred competitors, the only one who didn't appear was the late Rory Kennedy (from episode 504, "European Pigeon"). Before the final tournament began, all seven past and present Iron Chefs took the stage together, including former Iron Chefs Japanese Rokusaburo Michiba and Koumei Nakamura and original IC French Yutaka Ishinabe.
  • Kamen Rider Double's summer movie brings back several victims of the week, who cheer Double on during his Final Battle with Eternal and give him his movie-exclusive 11th-Hour Superpower.
    • In Kamen Rider OOO, Akira's entire motivation for being Kamen Rider Birth in the first place was to get enough money to pay for the delicate surgery needed to remove a bullet lodged in his head before it's too late. So roughly two thirds of a way through he passes the torch to Goto, and travels overseas to have that sorted out. And then comes back in the last few episodes, with the surgery a success, as Birth Prototype, and proceeds to fight side by side with his protegé, Double Riders style.
    • The Kamen Rider franchise has an odd version of this with the annual Movie Wars film, which acts as either a Grand Finale or a Postscript Movie for last year's Rider and has the cast Crossover with the heroes from this year's series.
  • The season 4 finale of Leverage brings characters from as far back as season one. Nate's father Jimmy Ford plays a very prominent role in it. His ex-wife Maggie is gathered to help with the con along with, Hardison's Evil Counterpart Chaos, Eliot's Not-as-Evil Counterpart Quinn and Parker's adoptive father Archie. The villain is Victor Dubenich, the series very first Villain of the Week.
  • The final episode of The Killing saw a brief appearance from Mayor Darren Richmond, who had not been seen since season two, and proceeded to sweep Linden's involvement in Skinner's death under the rug, in order to avoid the political fallout of Skinner's crimes being revealed.
  • The sixth season of Lost had the flash-sideways timeline, which allowed for dead or disappeared characters to return. The actual series finale brought back Shannon, Boone, Juliet, Daniel, Charlotte, Libby, Charlie, Christian, Rose, Bernard, Penny, Dr. Chang, Eloise Hawking and John Locke. (The rest of the final season also saw the return of Arzt, Frogurt, Alex, Danielle, Roger Linus, Keamy and Omar, Ana Lucia, Anthony Cooper, Helen, Nadia, Michael, George Minkowski, Mikhail, Marshal Mars and Ethan)
    • Walt shows up in the epilogue.
    • Mr. Eko was also supposed to appear in the final episode, but contract talks with the actor broke down.
  • Luther brings back Alice Morgan for the Series 3 finale after she'd left in the middle of Series 2.
  • Martin: Female lead Tisha Campbell-Martin left the show before filming of the final season after accusing Martin Lawrence of sexual harassment, which made things awkward for the writers since she played the title character's wife. Usually her absence was explained by her being away on business, or in one case, the group went on a cruise but Gina just barely missed the boat. However, Campbell-Martin returned for the series finale after being promised she wouldn't have to be in the same room with Lawrence, and they not-so-subtly have one actor leave the set before the other one enters.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show finale had appearances from Rhoda and Phyllis, both of whom had long since departed for their respective spinoff shows. They even appeared in the end credits curtain call.
  • Although not a series regular, Major Sidney Freedman (Alan Arbus) returned for the M*A*S*H finale and was a major (sorry) character in it.
  • Joe Bastianich left as a judge for the U.S. MasterChef at the end of Season 5, but returned as a guest judge for the finale of Season 8.
  • Merlin:
    • The third season finale brings back Lancelot, Elyan, Leon and Gwain as future knights of the Round Table, Excalibur and Freya, the Lady of the Lake, and, among the villains, Cenred and Morgause.
    • Merlin's mother Hunith return in the first part of the two-part fourth season finale, after a three year hiatus.
    • For the series finale, Balinor reappears as a spirit.
  • In a subversion, Sharona Fleming from Monk is supposed to 'fly in' during the last episode of the sixth season. Then the problem resolves itself, and she never shows up. It's zig-zagged for the final season, as she does return during it, but not during the final episode, instead showing up a few episodes prior, though she does make a cameo via a picture that Randy brings with him when he transfers to New Jersey to live with her.
  • Murphy Brown brought back Phil for the series finale despite the fact that he had died: his death was retconned as having been faked by the CIA due to Phil knowing too much about Whitewater.
    • While Phil is the most surprising example, the finale also brought back Miles and Eldon, both of whom had been absent for some time.
  • The fourth season of My Kitchen Rules introduced the "Comeback Kitchen", where previously eliminated teams are brought back to the show and must compete each other for a spot in the final.
  • A strange, extended version of this trope was used in the series finale of Newhart. For the series finale, they actually brought back Bob Newhart's wife from The Bob Newhart Show. This was used to reveal that the entire series was All Just a Dream.
    • And in a TV special about that show, in which Bob is shown dealing with this dream, at the very end he meets a trio of elevator repairmen who introduce themselves by saying, "Hi, I'm Larry, this is my brother Daryl ..."
  • The last episode of Night and Day featured a montage roll call of the most significant characters from throughout the show’s run. In addition Jane Harper, whose disappearance forms the backbone of the show, returns in the flesh for the final few episodes - while deceased regular Will Radcliffe enjoys a robotic reprise.
  • Medavoy came back for a minute in the last NYPD Blue after retiring an episode or two before.
    • Bobby Simone came back to give Andy spiritual advice in an episode of the final season, after having been previously Killed Off for Real early on in Season 6.
  • The first season finale of Odd Squad ended with a massive battle against all the odd creatures released from the containment rooms, in which just about every named squad member takes part, with plenty of Callbacks to go with them.
  • The Office (US) spread this out over its entire final season. Roy, Jan, David Wallace, and Gabe came back during the final season.
    • Also, Ryan and Kelly came back for the finale, after leaving at the beginning of Season 9 due to the actors' commitments to The Mindy Project.
    • Steve Carell returns as Michael Scott in the finale to be the best man at Dwight and Angela's wedding.
    • Several long forgotten side characters also make brief cameos in the finale including Elizabeth the stripper, Meredith's son Jake, and Michael's ex-girlfriend Carol.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • The season one finale brought back the Huntsman and Maleficent in the fairytale world. Belle also returns, in Storybrooke. (Maleficent's other form appeared in Storybrooke as well but she herself did not.)
    • Season three sees a lot of the past versions of the cast that hadn't been seen since the the winter finale, along with the return of Red Riding Hood after being relegated to cameos.
    • The Grand Finale brings back just about everyone, especially notable after a season that had a Soft Reboot leading to an almost entirely new cast.
  • Orange Is the New Black checked in with nearly the entirety of its cast in its final episode, many of whom hadn't been on the show for seasons (having been sent to different prisons after the riot).
  • Robert Leckie, despite being one of the three protagonists of The Pacific, is absent for several episodes in the series' latter half and reappears only in the finale.
  • Ann and Chris return in the finale of Parks and Recreation.
  • Almost every minor character in Person of Interest either appeared or was mentioned in its final season.
  • The very first episode of Pee-wee's Playhouse, each character is given their own little scene throughout the episode, most of them disappearing shortly after that, but most of them return for the very last scene.
  • The Practice ended with Eugene Young being on trial for being an Amoral Attorney, and Bobby Donnel returning to defend him.
  • Prison Break's broadcast finale does this to the point of Continuity Cavalcade - and to the point where it makes the absence of the few major characters who DON'T return really, really noticeable. Sucre, C-Note, Kellerman, Sofia and Felicia all make an appearance, with Kellerman's being the most notable since he had been dead for two seasons and provided the Deus ex Machina.
  • During the reunion shows for The Real Housewives, controversial side characters are brought back for confrontations with the main cast.
  • Dr. O'Hara comes back from London to see Jackie for the Nurse Jackie finale.
  • Pretty Little Liars: Ella, Ashley, Veronica, Pam, Byron and Wren all show up. Well, Aria and Ezra do get married.
  • The Sheriff of Nottingham and Marian came back for the final episode of Robin Hood, the former after a Not Quite Dead situation, and the latter for a Together in Death scene with Robin.
  • Roswell's penultimate episode saw the return of Tess, who bore Max's child in season two. She doesn't stay for the last episode, and is only there to quickly close the main arc in season three.
  • Hilda returned for Sabrina's wedding in the finale of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which to be fair is certainly a good reason to return... except that it drew attention to all the people who weren't making a cameo (like Valerie).
  • PeepShow: The ninth season features the return of several past characters: Dobby (episode 2), April (episode 3 onwards), Sophie (episode 5) and Jeff (episode 6).
  • Scrubs, via a JD-fantasy.
    • There were some notable absences. Lisa the gift shop girl and Franklyn the lab tech weren't allowed to come back by the show's former network NBC. Jordan's siblings were both absent, as were Dr. Molly Clock, Dr. Kevin Casey, and recurring patient Harvey Corman. But the most inexplicable absence was Doug the mortician, who had appeared earlier in the season and had no known conflicts.
  • The final episode of Seinfeld had many minor characters on the show coming back to testify against them. Larry David, who was the showrunner until season 7 and wrote many episodes also came back to write the finale.
  • The Show Within a Show in the final episode of Sliders had The Professor show up and save everyone.
  • Smallville's final season has featured the returns of Jonathan Kent, Brainiac, Lionel Luthor, Chloe Sullivan, Kara Kent, Zod, and Martha Kent. Along with Lex Luthor, Chloe Sullivan, Lionel Luthor, Martha Kent, and Jonathan Kent return again in the actual finale.
  • The final episode of Spooks has a brief appearance by Tom Quinn, one of the few major characters to get Put on a Bus instead of Killed Off for Real when leaving the show.
  • It's pretty clear that Stargate Atlantis brought back everyone they could get from SG1 and Atlantis for the series finale (one can only assume that Richard Dean Anderson was unavailable).
  • The last episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation saw the return of recurring villain/ally Q, Lt. Tasha Yar and Miles O'Brien, who was by then a regular on Deep Space Nine and had not appeared since season 6.
  • Supernatural was originally planned to only run for five seasons, so this trope was intended at the time for a number of old characters who were brought back to have their plots wrapped up or at least get in one last appearance. Meg (Season 1 The Dragon and Big Bad of one Season 2 episode, then MIA for all the Apocalypse build-up with even the show creator asking the writers what she was up to), Jessica's ghost (The Lost Lenore in the pilot episode but recurring through Season 1 and Season 2 in nightmares, visions, and Lotus-Eater Machine; fittingly since we never saw the real her after the first episode, the "Jessica" that returns for Season 5 is really Lucifer disguised as her to manipulate Sam), Jo, Ellen, Ash (the Harvelles and Ash were recurring characters in Season 2 but Jo had been written out to appease fans who saw her as The Scrappy, Ellen and Ash were more popular but Ellen's return in Season 3 got axed by the 2008 writer's strike and Ash had been Killed Off for Real in Season 2 by the then-Big Bad for knowing too much), The Trickster (an Ensemble Dark Horse who'd made two appearances in Season 2 and Season 3), Rufus (a minor Ensemble Dark Horse who'd appeared in one episode near the end of Season 3 and was referenced near the end of Season 4), the Winchester brothers' parents (who'd both appeared in Season 1 and made appearances in Season 2 and Season 4 after dying in Season 1 (Mary) and Season 2 (John); it was a younger version of the couple seen in "In the Beginning" who returned for "The Song Remains the Same" via Time Travel, though the older version of Mary sort of reappeared too in "Dark Side of the Moon"note ), and Pamela (from Season 4 and like Ellen, one of the show's few popular recurring female characters) were among those brought back for their final bow in the last season. The angel characters introduced alongside Castiel in Season 4 (Zachariah, Anna, and Uriel) also came back to help tie up the Apocalypse storyline. Lisa (from Season 3, and Dean's best-received Girl of the Week) also turned up late in the season to make Dean going to live with her after the season finale feel slightly less jarring, but by the time of her reappearance the show had already been renewed and she was probably already been planned as a recurring character in Season 6.
  • Carey, Kurt, and Arwin were brought back for the finale of The Suite Life on Deck, but not Marcus.
  • Eric left That '70s Show after the end of the seventh season, and Kelso left four episodes into the eighth. Both return for the final episode (or rather, final scene in Eric's case). Counts in-universe too, as the series finale was New Year's Eve 1979.
  • Jimmy Doherty (Eddie Cibrian), Kim Zambrano (Kim Raver) and "Doc" Parker (Michael Beach) returned for Third Watch's finale, although only Doc had lines.
  • Ugly Betty starts this early, with Gio and Christina coming back in the third to last episode, Henry in the penultimate ep, and Connor for the finale.
  • The Ultra Series often crosses it over with Gondor Calls for Aid in the Grand Finale:
    • In the two-part finale of Ultraman Tiga, a large number of one-time characters from previous episodes appear to help GUTS save Tiga when he is turned to stone by Gatanozoa, including Keigo Masaki and Professor Tango (of Episodes 43 and 44), Makio Kirino (of Episode 39), Captain Hayate (of Episode 48), and Tomoki Iruma (Captain Iruma's son from Episode 25). The Kyrieloids also make a brief return to mock the petrified Ultraman Tiga.
    • Ultraman Gaia's three-part finale sees many Earth kaiju that Gaia had fought in earlier episodes come in defense of their planet alongside XIG when Zogu and the Dobishi arrive. This is not a case of Enemy Mine though, as by that point the characters had realized that the Earth kaiju also oppose the aliens trying to destroy their shared planet. These are Geel (from Episode 2), Mizunoeryu (from Episode 11), Zonnel (from Episode 17), Gomenos (from Episode 23), Shazak (from Episode 33), and Tigris (from Episode 38).
    • The "Final Trilogy" of Ultraman Mebius sees the return of Ultraman Hikari (who got Put On The Bus in Episode 17), Zamsha (from Episode 16), Kako (from Episode 36), and Alien Fanton (from Episode 7) to help GUYS defeat Empera.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Nina Dobrev, who portrayed Elena and Katherine, returned for the finale.
  • The Season Four finale of The Walking Dead contains several flashbacks with characters who had died earlier in the season, including Karen, Patrick, and especially Herschel.
  • This trope can apply to whole networks too. Michigan J. Frog returned for the final week of The WB before the launch of The CW, having disappeared from The WB's imaging two years earlier.
  • In The West Wing, one of the final episodes was Leo McGarry's funeral, which was attended by a number of characters that hadn't been seen for a long time.
    • Sam Seaborn also returned to the series for the last few episodes. There was some talk of Aaron Sorkin coming back to write the final episode, but the idea fell through.
  • The Wire pulls this off spectacularly over the course of its final season with every living major character and many minor ones making cameos across the season. Surprisingly, all of them feel natural and don't interfere a bit with shows realism as most of the characters return for about 1 or 2 seasons and most of the previously departed characters had not been said to have ever left Baltimore making it all rather plausible.
  • Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) from The X-Files left the show at the end of season 7, returned for the second half of season 8, and for the last season only appeared in the finale. Alex Krycek, Marita Covarrubias, Gibson Praise, Jeffrey Spender, Knowle Rohrer, Mr. X, all three of the Lone Gunmen, and the Cigarette-Smoking Man also returned. Notably, about half of those characters were already dead.
  • Chase, who got Put on a Bus, for the finale of Zoey 101.


    Video Games 
  • All the ghosts of the dead characters in Final Fantasy II appear briefly at the end in the castle. In the bonus "Dawn of Souls" mode in the GBA and PSP rereleases, you control all the dead people on a quest through the afterlife to defeat the game's Big Bad one last time.
  • In Final Fantasy IV, every party member and ally you've met in the game reappears to wish you well and heal you from Zeromus's Total Party Kill attack. Even the dead ones.
  • Larax, the player hero of Imperivm, returns at the third installment of the saga (the last one in terms of gameplay) to assist Viriathus in his fight against the city of Saetabis. Subverted, however, in that history-wise, III happens a century before the first game, meaning they are not the same character.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, Donald and Goofy have steadily had smaller and smaller roles as the series has gone on, to the point that 3D lampshades it with Goofy asking "Do ya think we'll ever get to do something important?" In Kingdom Hearts III they once again join Sora as the main party members; the last time the three of them worked together was II in 2006.
  • L.A. Noire: Rusty Galloway, one of Cole's partners from way earlier in game, shows up briefly in the final case.
  • Mass Effect 3 lets you re-recruit Liara and Ashley / Kaidan, who were in the second game but either had their own stuff to do or refused to work with Cerberus. Kirrahe, Dr Michel, Jenna (the undercover C-Sec agent), Engineer Adams, Balak, the Rachni Queen and other NPCs also make reappearances (assuming they're still alive).
  • The last Game Boy Mega Man game, Mega Man V, had the original bosses from the previous four games (Enker, Quint, Punk and Ballade) return as bosses in the final level.
  • Almost everyone who hasn't died in one of the previous games, and several who have, return for the Grand Finale of the Metal Gear series: Metal Gear Solid 4.
    • This aspect of Metal Gear Solid 4 deserves a specific mention: Big Boss is back. The credits begin to roll on a decidedly somber note and then they pause on "Richard Doyle - Big Boss". The player is given about three seconds to think, "Wait, I don't recall seeing him in -" and then bam, he's standing in the graveyard with Snake. He comes back for the finale of the finale and turns Snake's specific downer ending into more of a bittersweet one.
    • There is only one notable surviving character from the previous MGS games who never shows up: Nastasha Romanenko.
  • Many characters from previous Quest for Glory games return for the finale Quest for Glory V these include, but are not limited to:
  • The Reconstruction has this, though it's done in a rather depressing manner. Yacatec appears in the final dungeon as a slave, and helps you get through said dungeon after you free him.
  • Telltale's Sam & Max: Freelance Police:
    • "Bright Side of the Moon", the finale of season 1, features returning characters from every earlier episode.
    • "What's New Beelzebub", the finale of season 2, features the return of everybody from the last two seasons.
    • "The City that Dares Not Sleep", the season 3 finale, features the season's only appearance of Sybil, Abe, Mr. Featherly, and Satan.
  • The World Ends with You has Joshua coming back after having been dead. He's God, so it's okay.
    • As well as Shiki for the final battle.
  • Saints Row IV sees many characters from past Saints Row games return, including Benjamin King, former leader of the Vice Kings from Saints Row 1, the Saints Row 2 version of Shaundi, Keith David (the voice of Julius Little, who was last seen in Saints Row 2), and various others. In addition, Dane Vogel makes a return appearance in the standalone expansion Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell that serves as the Grand Finale to the original timeline.
  • All of the deceased Player Characters in Eternal Darkness make a return in the Final Boss fight, each one possessing Alex so that they can get a hit in on Augustus' Artifact of Doom (while Edward works to seal the Ancient that Alex summoned to fight Augustus' Ancient so it can't run amok afterwards.)
  • At the end of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse on the Bonds route, Jonathan and Walter, who were both killed off late in Shin Megami Tensei IV, come Back from the Dead to help you out against the Final Boss.
  • Every single party member and completed Social Link cheers the main character on before and during the True Final Boss battle of Persona 3 and 4. Even the dead ones like Shinjiro and Akinari.
  • In Digital Devil Saga 2, every character except Fred ends up dead, only to reunite in the afterlife in a last-ditch effort to save the world. These characters include Jinana and Lupa from the first game. However, Harley, Bat, Mick, Varin/Beck, and Meganada also show up, but as bosses. And even after all that, Fred shows up one last time in the epilogue. By the end, the only character to not get closure is Tribhvana: Earth, who is implied by his last appearance to live bearing his karma.
  • In EarthBound, Porky Minch drops out of the plot after the Eagleland arc, only leaving behind a few taunts to the party showing that he's one step ahead until his helicopter crashes in a swamp. Sure enough, he comes back at the very end of the game as one of the Final Bosses and quite possibly the true Big Bad. And after that, he's revealed at the end of Mother 3 to be that game's Big Bad and Final Boss, as well.
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon is the end of the original Insomniac Games Spyro the Dragon trilogy. Elora from the previous game was absent the entire game except for in the final cutscenes.
  • The Battle for Middle-earth, in the evil campaign, the nazgul on fellbeasts that helped you in some special missions through the campaign, come back in the last mission on Minas Tirith to be playable again.
    • The last mission of the good campaign, the black gate, give you the opportunity to play both as Rohan and Gondor, using all of their heroes. Unlike the books and the films, you can bring to the battle characters that should have been absent like Eowin, Faramir, Boromir or Theoden.
    • The final level of the evil campaign of the sequel, all hero units you've played through the campaign return to attack Rivendel. The list included The Mouth of Sauron, some black riders, Shelob (who only appeared in the Black Forest mission), Drogoth (who only appeared as an NPC on the Withered Heath mission), Gorkil (absent in the previous three missions), as well as some fellbeast, the Witch King and eventually Sauron himself.
    • Also applicable to the final mission of the good campaign where you have to attack Dol Guldur. The mission starts with Elrond , who only appeared in the first mission. Eventually, the elven army of Arwen, Glorfindel and Glon, and the dwarf army of king Dain will reappear to help you as soon as the player activates two signal fires on the map.
  • In Dark Souls II, the game was largely disconnected from the first entry, with a few items and descriptions showing it to be the same world but not much in the way of returns. This was very much not the case for the series finale in Dark Souls III: you get your weapons upgraded by Andre of Astora, visit Anor Londo, find Dusk of Oolacile's clothes in a chest, get Solaire's armour from the trading crow, get tricked by Patches, fight Havel the Rock, dress up as Lautrec of Carim, be carried to and from places by Batwing Demons, kill Black and Silver Knights, run around a DLC Painted World that was originally based on Ariamis, fight demons in the ruins of the first game's Firelink Shrine in the DLC, and even build a full Knight Artorias cosplay - including his shield. Naturally, this being Dark Souls most of those returns end badly; for example, the Darkmoon Knightess and Laddersmith Gilligan from II can be found lying dead, the mushroom people famous for their Megaton Punches have been wiped out by the Abyss, and Gwyndolin gets eaten by Aldrich. Even the Final Boss features returns of sorts: the Soul of Cinder's first phase includes a form that clearly uses the Wood Grain Ring from the first game, and its second phase is a souped-up, no-longer-parriable Gwyn, Lord of Cinder.
  • In Sakura Wars 4: Fall in Love, Maidens, which serves as the final part of Ichiro Ogami's story arc, the Paris Combat Revue returns to help Ogami and the Imperial Combat Revue fight Ōkubo Nagayasu and stop his rampage on Tokyo.

    Visual Novels 
  • Happens at the end of many Ace Attorney games:
    • The second has Lotta Hart, Will Powers and Miles Edgeworth (all gone since the previous game). Edgeworth is notorious because he was considered dead until the very last minute of the episode previous to the finale.
    • The third has Franziska von Karma and Miles Edgeworth (both gone since the previous game, though a younger Edgeworth appeared in a flashback).
    • The fourth has Mike Meekins through a flashback case (gone since the very first game of the series).
    • The fifth has Pearl Fey and Miles Edgeworth, both gone since the third game. Technically Pearl reappears before the finale (in the DLC case "Turnabout Reclaimed", which happens midgame) but the DLC case is bonus content and was released after the main game.
    • The sixth again has Pearl and Edgeworth turn up at the end for their one appearance in the main game (they also appear in DLC content).
    • Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth has Larry Butz (gone since the end of the third game).
    • In the credits montage for every game, each character talks to Phoenix/Apollo in turn. For example, Wendy Oldbag from the Phoenix Wright games 1 and 2 appears in a brief stinger at the end of T&T.
  • In Fleuret Blanc, Kant is Put on a Bus early on, with implications that they have ties to the central mystery. They show up again on the final day when Florentine infiltrates the Lounge, as, in a subversion, he never actually left but was in fact imprisoned.


    Web Original 
  • Cinema Snob is banished in part 4 of Kickassia, but comes back two parts later to confront a defeated Nostalgia Critic.
  • In the finale of lonelygirl15, Spencer shows up after over a season's absence to help Taylor.
  • Noob bought Dark Avenger back in Season 5 finale to have fight with Sparadrap.
  • The final Don't Hug Me I'm Scared short contains cameos from one-shot characters that contributed to the five prior lessons.
  • A variant occurred in The Massive Multi-Fandom RPG Season One, where the final boss assumed the appearance, in succession, of every single GMPC up to that point (and because the roleplay had quite a GM turnover, there were a lot of them.)
  • The Adventure Zone: Balance had almost every single living character return for the finale.

    Western Animation 
  • Justice League Unlimited:
    • Martian Manhunter's return in the final episode. And Darkseid (although he showed up at the end of the second-to-last). Come to think of it, every major character who wasn't either dead (Brainiac), not yet born (Batman Beyond), in the future (Supergirl) or Exiled from Continuity (Bat-Embargo characters) who ever appeared in the DCAU could qualify for this, even though most of them were limited to cameos.
    • The first Series Fauxnale had the Batman Beyond characters show up.
    • Sadly, Aquaman was also absent due to a similar embargo, which is a real shame considering his importance in the rest of the series as well as to the comic book Justice League.
  • This happened in the last season of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. After Stephen Colbert (who voiced Phil Ken Sebben and Reducto) left Harvey Birdman after The Colbert Report started growing in popularity, Sebben was hit by a bus in one of the first episodes of the final season... only to spend most of the final episode driving said bus backwards to Sebben & Sebben.
    • Reducto was hit by a bus an episode after Phil. He... didn't make it.
  • In Total Drama's first four season finales, all the eliminated contestants return, as well as any non-competing panelists. In Total Drama All-Stars, only four losers return; and in Total Drama Pahkitew Island, only two losers return. Come, Total Drama: The Ridonculous Race, everybody comes back for the finale.
  • The second half of the final season of Avatar: The Last Airbender brings back damned near everyone for the big finale. Major players who haven't been seen in a while, recurring characters, and even minor one-shot characters like June and the Machinist. The few characters who don't appear or have died are mentioned or cameo in some way or another. It's like the writers didn't want to leave out anyone!
  • Its Sequel Series The Legend of Korra repeats this. Many C-list characters or characters who had been written out are brought back for the Grand Finale, even if it's just to make a brief cameo at Varrick and Zhu Li's wedding.
  • In King of the Hill during Luann's wedding ceremony, characters that only appeared in one or two episodes throughout all the seasons showed up to attend. This would make a good example of the trope, except for Fox then gave them another season, and then cancelled them halfway through it, so they never got a chance to play this trope right.
  • The final episode of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series had all of the Turtles' friends show up for Casey and April's wedding. They came in mighty handy when Cyber-Shredder decided to crash the party.
  • Rita and Runt of Animaniacs, who had disappeared after the show's second season, reappeared in the series' last new segment, "The Scoring Session" (albeit with Rita being silent), and in the movie Wakko's Wish.
  • The final episode of Xiaolin Showdown ends with the Xiaolin Dragons being surrounded by every single villain they faced in the entire show. This isn't explained, but no one cares.
  • X-Men: Evolution has a number of characters (such as Jubilee, who had been Put on a Bus in the previous season) show up in cameos during the Grand Finale.
  • Teen Titans:
    • The final episodes of Teen Titans brought back virtually every villain and honorary world Titan for a gigantic brawl.
    • "Things Change", the very last episode, features a girl who may-or-may-not-be Terra. Beast Boy tries to jog her memory of her life as a Titan, but she insists that she just wants to be a normal kid and, eventually, that "things were never the way you remember". Oh, and Slade makes his one and only season 5 appearance via one of his Doombots.
  • Recess:
  • Several one-shot Hey Arnold! characters returned for the revived Grand Finale known as Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie such as Pigeon Man and Stoop Kid.
  • Several Jackie Chan Adventures characters invoked the trope in the finale: Shendu, Valmont (The Cameo), Finn, Ratso, Chow, Hak Foo and that's just counting the villains. Fortunately none of them was working for Drago in the episode.
  • Kim Possible: Kim's Nana and her Uncle Slim, Felix Renton, Zita Flores (Ron ex-girlfriend), and, unfortunately, Warmonga as villain appear in the final episode. All the villains appear in the epilogue, including Monkey Fist, who was turned to stone in a previous episode, and is STILL stone in the finale.
  • The 1970s animated Flash Gordon ends its first season with most of the allies Flash has made in all the previous episodes gathering together for a big final battle with Ming the Merciless.
  • Numerous characters from various Duckman episodes briefly turn up in the finale as guests at the wedding.
  • Numerous villains (Outside of supervillain meetings) and secondary characters from Codename: Kids Next Door appeared at the final episode "Operation: I.N.T.E.R.V.I.E.W.S.", such as Laura Limpin aka the Big Badolescent, Potty Mouth, and Robin Food.
  • Unicron returns for Grand Finale movie of Transformers: Prime.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Derpy Hooves makes a few cameo appearances in the Season 3 finale after practically an entire season of being absent.
    • In Twilight's Kingdom Part 2, we briefly see the other key givers — Coco, Spitfire with the Wonderbolts, Cheese Sandwich, Seabreeze, and Silver Shill.
    • Each of the Bad Future scenarios in the Season 5 finale bring back one of the previous Arc Villains, except for the second-to last, which has the non-arc Flim-Flam Brothers, and the last, which is just a barren wasteland caused by an unknown catastrophe.
    • Literally everyone shows up in the Series Finale to aid in the battle against the Legion of Doom.
  • The last 2 minutes of the finale of Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! has almost every ally in the series make a cameo to join the war against Skeleton King. Sadly, the episode (and series) ends before we can see them all in action.
  • "Turf Wars", the final episode of the 2006 revival of Biker Mice from Mars, featured Vinnie's old girlfriend Harley from the original 1993 series as the main antagonist.
  • The Misfits were barely in season 3 however they come to Ba Nee's goodbye party at the end of Jem. It's odd since they're enemies of Jem and the Holograms, however both Stormer and Roxy had positive interactions with Starlight Girls at least. The Misfits make a truce with the protagonists but Word of God is it's only temporary.
  • In the final episode of Clone High, all of the other clones, recurring characters (minus the fosters parents besides Abe's dad and Toots), one-time characters, and even the guest-stars (ableit in non-speaking cameos), returned, even if a majority are just seen in the background.
  • Underdog's Grand Finale, "Vacuum Gun" brings back Arc Villains Riff Raff, Electric Eel, and Batty Man.
  • After spending most of season 2 of Iron Man being written out, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Century, and the Mandarin's minions returned for the Grand Finale.
  • The [adult swim] revival of Samurai Jack brings back many characters for the Grand Finale, including the Scotsman and his daughters, Rothchild the dog archaeologist, the Spartans, and the Monkey-Man who taught Jack how to "jump good".
  • Extreme Ghostbusters, a Sequel Series to The Real Ghostbusters, had Egon Spengler as the only returning member of the original series for most of the show's run, with the series focusing on a new team of Ghostbusters consisting of college students Eduardo Rivera, Kylie Griffin, Roland Jackson, and Garrett Miller. The Grand Finale consisted of a two-part episode entitled "Back in the Saddle", which brought back the rest of the original team Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Winston Zeddemore.
  • Gravity Falls: A lot of characters show up for Weirdmageddon and the episode leading up to it. Pretty much every named townsfolk show up in one form or another, even Old Man McGucket, who had left town to avoid the oncoming Weirdpocalypse, and Mayor Beffuftlefumpter, who had died two episodes earlier - he reappears as a zombie and is poked back into his grave by Robbie's parents, who also reappear. Various supernatural creatures show up as well: Blandin is possessed by Bill Cipher, which kick-starts Weirdmageddon, the time police and Time Baby show up only to be destroyed by Bill, and several gnomes (including Shmebulock and Jeff), a few Liliputtans, a Manataur, the Multibear, Rumble or, Humble now McSkirmish, Wax Larry King's head and Sev'ral Timez are among the survivors with Grunkle Stanley hiding in the Mystery Shack.
  • "Graduation Day", the final episode of X-Men, brought back Magneto and Morph when they had been absent for a while.
  • The Hollow: Toros as one part minnotaur, one part spider-mutant due to the game's corrupted code.
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: In the Season Finale episode "War and Peace and War"note , just about every named character shows up (without any lines) for the big musical number "Let's Make Peace", even those that don't make sense, like the Wirewolf, XL, and NOS-4-A2.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hey Its You, Hey I Know You


Spy Kids 3 final battle

Juni and Carmen Cortez call in most of the main characters from the previous two films to fight the Toymaker's robots.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / BackForTheFinale

Media sources:

Main / BackForTheFinale