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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.

As this is an Ending Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the last few chapters of Negima! Magister Negi Magi Chao Lingshen 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: The Series:
    • 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.
    • At some point in the World Coronation Series in Journeys, all of Ash's major companions made at least a cameo appearance.
    • During Ash's final major battle in Journeys, all of the Pokémon who traveled with Ash appear in a vision to cheer for Pikachu, including released Pokémonnote ), Pokémon they haven't seen for agesnote , Pokémon Ash traded awaynote , and even Pokémon that weren't caughtnote  The only major exceptions were the Haunter that stayed with Sabrina, and the Beedrill he caught for Casey.
    • In their final major appearance following Ash, Team Rocket are reunited with all of their Pokemon stationed at Team Rocket HQ. This results in the first time either Jessie or James have a full team of their own six Pokemon, and their most successful scheme to capture Pikachu, only being foiled by an unknown Latias.
    • By the Grand Finale of Ash's journey in Aim to be a Pokemon Master, all of Ash's released Pokemon except Primeape return, with the very last episode featuring the return of Pidgeot. Additionally, Misty, Brock, Cilan, and Gary all reunite with Ash, with the former two traveling with him for most of the miniseries, marking the first time since Johto that they have been the main team together.
  • 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 Genkidama. 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 Genkidama.
  • 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.
  • Soul Hunter: In the final battle, Genshitenson does a ritual to open up the Hounshindai and release all of the souls of the characters who were sent there to lend their soul energy to Taikobou/Fukki and confront Jyoka.
  • The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. takes it to a ridiculous degree in the second season finale. Many minor and oneshot characters (such as the baseball team, Kaidou's mother and siblings, the kid who lost his prized signed baseball, etc.) show up throughout the episode (including characters whose stories weren't adapted). Saiki hangs a lampshade on it.
  • 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.
    • In the final episode of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, the artists behind every single OP in the entire franchise all return for a special version of Diamond Is Unbreakable's final OP. Additionally, we're given anime-only scenes of the various characters going about their lives in Morioh, one last time.
  • Toriko: Just about every character attend Toriko and Rin's wedding in the penultimate chapter.
  • 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.
  • Rave Master: Almost all of the allies the Rave Warriors made along the way come back to aid them on the final battle.
  • 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 YuYu 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.
  • The Silver Soul Arc of Gintama involves the return of 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. Taken even further in the anime, where many anime-original characters appear as additional cameos during said sequence.
  • 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.
  • The 139th episode of Kamisama Minarai: Himitsu no Cocotama, which was the last episode aside from eight three-minute shorts that served to set up the Sequel Series Kira Kira Happy Hirake Cocotama, brought back pretty much every side character in the series for at least a brief cameo.
  • Baki the Grappler: The childhood arc ends with every single of Baki's previous opponents coming back to cheer on him during his fight with Yuujiro. It is also given a dark turn: after wiping the floor with Baki and killing Baki's mother, Yuujiro proceeds to beat the shit out of the assembled onlookers as well, apparently just for the hell of it.
  • GTO: The Early Years: Nearly every villain, rival, and friend the Oni-Baku have encountered returns to see their climactic final battle, or tells the camera about them in the final chapter.
  • Shaman King: in the penultimate chapter of the extended ending, while the heroes are fighting against Hao inside the Great Spirit, almost every single ally, enemy and secondary character (including Ohachiyo and Hao's mother) shows up aboard a spiritual train to save Yoh and friends. This proves essential to Hao's defeat, as after witnessing their arrival he loses his will to destroy humanity.

    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 (1989), 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.
  • Friday Night Funkin': Corruption: In the final video for Week 7, Daddy Dearest faces off against not only Boyfriend, but also every character he had corrupted. Subverted when it turns out to not actually be the finale.
  • In So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, A-D'oh, Hank Scorpio returns to take over the nuclear power plant.

    Films — Animated 
  • Disney's Alice in Wonderland features a climactic trial with characters from throughout the movie appear as witnesses at Alice's trial for "making the Queen lose her temper"; this being Wonderland, of course, none of the testimonies are particularly helpful. The scene ends with all of these characters forming a huge mob and chasing Alice out of Wonderland.
  • Patlabor: The Movie: Kanuka Clancy went back to the NYPD during the Time Skip between the Patlabor OVA and this film, but she returns at the start of the third act to help Special Vehicles deal with the villain's plot. She makes no appearances in the sequels.

    Films — 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".
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: Yondu is seen in a vision by Kraglin, and Pete's grandfather appears at the end (reading a newspaper with a story about Kevin Bacon being abducted by aliens), while Cosmo's poker game features the Broker (from the first film), Bzermikitokolok (from the Christmas Special) and Howard the Duck. In addition, the Ravagers Stakar, Martinex, Krugarr and Mainframe return, and both Thor and Stan Lee are seen in the scrapbook photos over the end credits.
  • Jurassic Park did this with Jurassic World Dominion. The characters from the original film did appear in the original trilogy sequels (Malcolm in The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Ellie and Alan in Jurassic Park III )but had been absent in the second trilogy save Malcolm’s appearance in a few minutes of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. And this was the first time since the beginning that they were all together again. Also Lewis Dodgson, who last appeared in the first film. Then there’s a dinosaur version in Dilophosaurus which didn’t appear onscreen after the first film except as a hologram in Jurassic World. The Buck and Doe Tyrannosaurs from The Lost World also appear briefly.
  • Saw: Lawrence Gordon comes back for Saw 3D, which was planned to be the series' original finale. Up until this point, he hasn't been seen since the original Saw, six movies ago.
  • The final battle of Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over brings back virtually all the characters who appeared in the last two movies.
  • Wesley Crusher 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 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 Hunger Games: In a morbid example, the Muttations sent to attack the last of the tributes in the final battle of the Games are made to resemble the tributes who had already fallen.
  • 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.

  • In the PV for "master of the heavenly yard", the Grand Finale to Evillious Chronicles, Elluka Clockworker, who had up to this point been completely absent due to very complicated plot issues, makes a cameo as one of Levia's incarnations.
  • When Sentenced played their final concert at the Club Teatria in their home-town Oulu in 2005 (which was later released as the Grand Finale live album Buried Alive), Taneli Jarva, the original singer and bassist who had quit the band ten years prior, came to the stage to sing five songs from the bands' early years.
    Taneli: Good evening! So nice to see an old friend die!

    Video Games 
  • A villainous example in Abomi Nation: All of the previous bosses you defeated return for a Boss Rush during the Final Battle, as do every one of your teammates who fell in battle. Also an example of Back for the Dead, as Furcifume kills them all after you beat them again.
  • Arabian Magic have you defeating it's first three bosses, where they acknowledge your powers and agrees to help you fight Baruantess, the Big Bad. Come by the final stage, they do follow their promise and appears one at a time to your aid.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: At the climax of the game, as the heroes desperately need just a little more power to teleport to the enemy mothership, Liu Jei of the Kanedama-kan appears with an army of warrior monks to give them the final boost they need! Also counts as Back from the Dead as Liu Jei and the Kanedama-kan were last seen being destroyed, with Liu himself torn in half. Good thing about a secretive organization of spiritualists is having the sheer force of will to sustain yourself as a zombie long enough to help out.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy II: All the ghosts of the dead characters 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.
    • 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.
    • Final Fantasy XIV:
      • The Grand Finale of A Realm Reborn's quest chains featuring Clueless Detective Hildibrand features everyone you met during the prior quests appearing to assist in some form. From the initial quests comes Humphrey, the man who posed as a Warrior of Light, who has since joined the Sultansworn and introduces you to Phillice. Collector Durilda, thankful for helping mend her relationship with her daughter during the Treaty-Blade segment, gets a reluctant witness to give you information. Gladiator Avila from the Coliseum segment and Arabella, the lapis maiden of Costa del Sol, help you procure ingredients needed to save Hildibrand after he's been poisoned, only for it to turn out that his time among the zombies at the very start of the quest chain gave him Acquired Poison Immunity. Last, but not least, Hildibrand's Big Damn Heroes moment in the climax, in which he commands the loyalty of the zombies otherwise under the main antagonist's control, is backdropped by light shining from the bald head of old man Eleazar, just as it did at the end of the first questline.
      • Happens in the Main Scenario Quest for Endwalker. To gather materials for Sharlayan's starship to reach the Big Bad of the decade-long storyline, Meteion, Alphinaud calls in every favor from every ally from every corner of the world. An incomplete list of allies include the C-list Scions from Mor Dhona, Garlond Ironworks, the Redbill Sky Pirates, the Majestic Theater Company, Hancock and the expedition crew from Eureka, and the tribes. Later, to power said starship with the aether needed to reach Meteion's nest, the Loporrits summon the tribes' respective primals, free from Ascian influence. Lastly, after previously having been scolded by Alisaie over his obsession of a rematch with the Warrior of Light, an enlightened Zenos strikes a deal with Krile to absorb the remains of the Mothercrystal to reassume Shinryu's form and aid the Warrior against the Endsinger, so that he may have his long-awaited rematch.
  • 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.
  • The King of Fighters 2002 was the Dream Match Game serving as the wrap-up for the NESTS Chronicles story arc of the franchise. To coincide with the return back to the Orochi Saga's trademark "3-on-3" format, several characters that had never been playable in any of the NESTS Chronicles trilogy (more specifically, Yashiro, Chris and Shermie, Mature and Vice, and perhaps the biggest name of all, Rugal Bernstein) all returned to the roster of 2002.
  • 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.
    • Master Eraqus appears in the epilogue of III. Aside from a younger version of him commenting in the Greek Chorus, this is the first time he shows up in any capacity since his death in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Naminé also cameos in the CG ending, though at least she makes a non-physical appearance earlier in the game.
  • 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 (1994), 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. Tellingly, the level also features nearly all the good heroes left alive, including Elrond, the Fellowship, the Army of the Dead, Tom Bombadil, and the eagles.
    • 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.
  • Tian from Unbound Saga is introduced partway through as an Assist Character, before leaving. He then comes back in the last stage, just in time to help fight the Final Boss.
  • In The Walking Dead, Lee returns briefly in Clementine's dream in Season 2 Episode 5 after she's shot, and once again in a dream sequence in Season 4 Episode 3, where Clementine seeks Lee's help before she attempts to rescue her friends who are being held captive by the Delta.

    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.

  • Tower of God:
    • Evan Edroch and Yuri Jahad for the first season finale.
    • Team Shibisu, Hansung Yu (the real one at least), and Kaiser for the second season finale.
  • In Wonderlab, pretty much every Abnormality that was introduced throughout the series returns for the final arc, "A Party Everlasting", to wreak havoc on the now-defunct Branch O-5681 alongside the Distorted Catt.

    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.
  • Futuro Ex-Porta: All 7 eliminated participants return in the finale, making brief comments and even participating in the first sketch as background characters. They're also all together when the winner is announced.

    Western Animation 
  • Baymax!: Everybody Baymax helps throughout the series bands together in the season finale to look for Baymax after he goes missing.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse: In the final episode, Ben undergoes a Shapeshifter Swan Song that goes through every single alien he'd ever unlocked, allowing almost all of them to be shown off one last time. The exceptions were Jetray, Chamalien, Fasttrack, and Spitter, though there was a brief point in the sequence when Ben was offscreen but was still heard changing forms where he could have turned into them.
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • The last episode of the first season of Duck Tales, had pratically everybody who appeared up to that point show up as guests at the Scrooge McDuck and Millionaira Vanderbucks wedding - such disparate persons as the members of the Explorers Club ("The Lost Crown Of Genghis Khan"), Launchpad's family ("Top Duck") and . Donald Duck made his last appearance with his cameo as Best Man. Even Scrooge's enemies like Flintheart Glomgold, Magica Despell and Ma Beagle and the Beagle Boys were on hand . . . albeit, in Ma Beagle's case, she and her boys and only come to rob the bank where the wedding was being held. And, of course, who could forget Glittering Goldie's surprise appearance...
    • To a much lesser extent, the "Golden Goose" two-parter Grand Finale. All the major characters of the first season of the show are on hand, including Scrooge's entire household, Launchpad and Gyro Gearloose.
  • Justice League Unlimited:
    • Darkseid's return set up the two part series finale "Alive!/Destroyer", which had Martian Manhunter's return in the final episode. Many more characters had cameos throughout the two-parter.
    • The Series Fauxnale episode "Epilogue" served as the finale to Batman Beyond, and featured the return of several characters from throughout the timeline of both Batmen: the fictional hero "The Grey Ghost", Andrea Beaumont, the Phantasm, Amanda Waller, the Royal Flush Gang, Inque, Shriek, Stalker, Terry's parents Warren and Mary, and Dana Tan.
  • 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 Island (2023), everybody is back for the finale once again
  • Like it's parent series, in the spin-off Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race, everybody comes back for the finale.
  • In The Legend of Korra 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 (2003):
    • The final episodes bring 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 Slade-bots.
  • 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: The Animated Series 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: The Animated Series, 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.
  • The Boondocks: In the final episode, Rollo Goodlove returns for the first time since its second season, with helping the Freemans once again to win against the gay rights movement by lying thinking Riley is a special needs.
  • Star Wars Rebels: A large number of previously absent characters return in the final episodes, including Kallus, Rex, Gregor and Wolfe, Ketsu Onyo, and Hondo and Melch. And the purrgil.
    • Chava and Gron get a non-speaking cameo together during the epilogue when Zeb takes Kallus to Lira San.
  • The Owl House: Just about every character who had even a token speaking appearance at some point in the series shows back up in "Watching and Dreaming", with most of them making backgroud cameos during the epilogue. And in something of a meta example, TJ Hill (the composer for the first season) returned to write the final song heard in the show.


Video Example(s):

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


J.D. remembers

As he departs from his final day at the Sacred Heart hospital, J.D. remembers people who he has met and are long gone.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / BackForTheFinale

Media sources: