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Awkward. Also, a callback between comics, in fact — from Sticky Dilly Buns to Ménage à 3

"Remember how that happened? That didn't stop being a thing that happened or anything."
Homestuck, (referencing an event from thousands of pages ago)
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A relevant reference to an event taking place earlier than the timeline of the present story. One type of call back is a Running Gag. This is often used to remind viewers that there is an ongoing storyline. More or less a Shout-Out to itself — but if that's all that it's doing, then it's a Continuity Nod; a Call-Back brings back an element that is actually relevant again.

Compare:

Alternately, in comedy: Tying the loose ends of a later, seemingly unrelated, joke to one earlier in the show; better known as a Brick Joke.

Sometimes a Call-Back will take up so much of a chapter or episode that it becomes a Sequel Episode to the earlier story it's referencing.

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The opposite of this is either Foreshadowing (a forward reference done in a previous episode) or Call-Forward (a "fake" forward reference in a flashback or prequel). See also Chekhov's Gun, Chekhov's Boomerang, Brick Joke, Book-Ends, Mythology Gag, Sequel Episode, Internal Homage, and Meaningful Echo.


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Examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: Season 8 episode 7 directly references, and has its plot set up by, Season 7 episode 50 where Kalo sacrifices himself to save Planet Xing from invaders. In the Season 8 episode, Happy S. discovers a notebook where Careful S. has written a story where he's the one who sacrificed himself instead of Kalo, who is experiencing similar distressed side-effects to what the actual Careful S. is feeling as a result.
  • Lamput: Several quick clips from earlier episodes showing the docs catching Lamput play in quick succession at the beginning of "Fracture". All the times they caught him ultimately culminated in him fracturing a bone in his skeleton.

    Comic Strips 
  • Done a couple times in FoxTrot. In one arc, Jason writes a parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! with his mother Andy cast as the Grinch. Who-Jason roots through her purse and finds it's full of Titanic ticket stubs, calling back to an arc where Andy became obsessed with the movie and watched it several dozen times.
  • One series from the late '90s in Peanuts had Rerun patting birds on the head, much to the resentment of Lucy, who mentions that her brother, Linus, did the same thing back in the 60s in a similar arc.
  • One 2006 Retail Sunday strip had Cooper wearing a "Goofy Grumbel" costume. 10 years later, the chain decided to revive the mascot and sent a new costume to the store. In both strips, Cooper volunteers to wear it because it means he doesn't have to deal with customers all day.
  • Even Garfield, one of the most stagnant and continuity-free strips in newspapers, has gotten in on the act a few times. In a strip from February 2017, Garfield thinks back on a time when he couldn't sleep: November 8, 1992. Sure enough, in the November 8, 1992 strip, Garfield can't get any sleep because of "night noises" keeping him awake.

    Films — Animation 
  • An Extremely Goofy Movie has several. In the Goof Troop episode "Puppy Love", PJ got a crush on a girl after she recited her poetry. He does the same thing for the same reason in this movie. In the episode "Date with Destiny", Goofy went on a dancing date with one of Max's school staff members—he does the same thing here. The final scene has some to the first movie: the trophy engraving was reminiscent of what Max and Goofy said to each other when their relationship was at its tensest moment, and Bobby calls back to two jokes in one line when he uses the word "cheesa" to describe the pizza he's holding and pointedly calls it "scrumptious."
  • BIONICLE: Mask of Light contains a neat cross-media callback that also doubles as a Shout-Out to the Mata Nui Online Game, the fan-favorite web-game that helped popularize the brand. Lewa asks Takua if he's ever flown a Gukko bird, to which he responds that he hasn't flown one by himself, but he's been a second once, referring to one of the MNOG's minigames.
  • Frozen II:
    • Elsa isn't convinced that Anna can handle the journey to Ahtohallan, since she lacks ice powers. Anna counters by reminding Elsa about her deeds in the first movie:
    Anna: Excuse me, I climbed the North Mountain, survived a frozen heart, and saved you from my ex-boyfriend, and I did it all without powers.
    • Anna spent most of her childhood playing in the halls and imagining talking to the pictures. So she recognizes Mattias from them easily.
    • When Elsa turns to ice, she goes through similar steps as Anna when she suffered this fate at the end of the first film.
  • Penguins of Madagascar:
    • After Agent Classified drugs the penguins, he has them shipped to the North Wind's most remote safehouse. Its location: Madagascar.
    • After they break out of the box, and tumble into the cockpit of a commercial plane, Skipper briefly flirts with a bobblehead doll.
    • In the first Madagascar movie, Skipper asks Kowalski what's written in the box they're in and he says he doesn't understand because he can't read. In this film, during the scene where Kowalski is checking the manual of the North Wind's jet, he says "No, still can't read".
  • In The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, SpongeBob teaching Plankton the concept of teamwork, with Plankton being unable to even pronounce the word is certain to remind some viewers of Sponge Bob Squarepants episodes like "F.U.N" and "Single Cell Anniversary" where SpongeBob had trouble teaching Plankton the concepts of fun, friendship, and love.
  • Strange Magic: Marianne and The Bog King's duet of the title song is full of these from Marianne's first visit to the Dark Forest. The various features of the forest that had frightened her then are now shown to be harmless or even beautiful.
  • Cars 3:
    • The film opens the same way as the original film - a black screen intercut with footage of racing cars, while McQueen goes through his pre-racing ritual.
    • During the Demolition Derby, Lightning tells Cruz to "turn right to go left", a teaching Doc gave him in the first film.Much like Lightning at that time, Cruz doesn't see any sense in his words.
    • When Cruz reveals her idolization of McQueen, she says she used to watch him "flying through the air", referencing when Lightning leaped through the smoke during the pile-up in the first movie.
      • A picture of the scene itself can be seen at the museum in the Rust-eze Racing Center.
    • Mater is in the pits watching all of McQueen's races, showing that McQueen kept his promise.
  • Toy Story 3: The Fake-Out Opening involves Woody, Jessie and Buzz facing off against One-Eyed Bart and Evil Dr. Porkchop, referencing Andy's playtime sequences with his toys in the previous two movies. Other recurring elements include the "force-field dog", the "force-field dog-eating dinosaur", and "Death by Monkeys".
  • As per the series standard, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World has several.
    • Hiccup makes Toothless an automatic tail fin so he can fly on his own which makes Astrid reference "Gift of the Night Fury", questioning that he made Toothless one before and he didn't want it then. Hiccup answers that Toothless didn't have a reason at that time, but he does now; he wants to follow and court the Light Fury.
    • After Hiccup and his gang bring a Crimson Goregutter on the island, it begins to play with a baby Gronckle Fishlegs is taking care of and accidentally knocks over some pole, producing Disaster Dominoes knocking over few buildings, just like at the beginning of the first movie after Hiccup shoots down Toothless.
    • The Light Fury's rescue of Hiccup is framed in exactly the same way as Toothless's rescue of Astrid in the first movie was: the human is tumbling through the air, gets caught, and then looks up to see the dragon ducking its head down to smile at them.
    • While being held prisoner by Grimmel, Ruffnut references her crush on Eret in the second movie (saying that that ship has sailed and she's over him now), and also mentions Fishlegs and Snotlout fighting over her while expressing her misgivings about both of them.
    • Hiccup kills Grimmel in a similar manner to how he tried to kill Krogan during their first encounter (i.e. untying his prosthetic leg).
    • In the epilogue Astrid rushes past Hiccup on Stormfly and looks back, silently challenging him to a race. It's the same interaction they had at the end of the second film, and Hiccup even gives his son a look as if to say: "some things never change."

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Melina Perez faced Michelle McCool at Night of Champions 2009 and Michelle dropkicked her off the apron while she was doing the splits as part of her entrance. They faced each other again at the next Night of Champions event and Michelle tried to do the same thing again. This time however, Melina was ready for her and lifted herself out of the way.
  • When Trish Stratus guest hosted Raw she was involved in an awkward backstage segment with Chris Jericho where he mentioned their history together and led to Stratus having a return match against him that night.
  • A similar segment happened with Lita and Kane at the Raw 15th Anniversary where they had an awkward conversation backstage (before Ron Simmons came in to say "Damn!"). They had been in a lengthy storyline where Kane had pulled a Scarpia Ultimatum, with Lita agreeing to "sleep" with Kane in exchange for Kane not beating up Matt Hardy, who was her boyfriend both on and off-screen at the time, leading to a terrible "pregnancy" angle.
  • In Vickie Guerrero's match at WrestleMania 26 she went to the top rope and performed a Frog Splash as a tribute to her late husband Eddie Guerrero (she had been introduced on WWE TV during Eddie's feud with Rey Mysterio) and danced like he used to in his victory poses.
  • Santino Marella started a romance angle with WWE diva Tamina Snuka which was quite similar to his pairing with Beth Phoenix. On a Christmas Episode of SmackDown, Santino cornered Beth under the mistletoe and suggested they kiss for old time's sake. She kissed his tag team partner Vladimir Kozlov instead.
  • The basis for Matt Hardy's heel turn after he was drafted to Raw in 2003 was him turning on Lita whom he had been in a relationship with about a year ago before her neck injury.

    Roleplay 
  • Frequently occurs in Destroy the Godmodder, usually to bring back a minor character, event, or plot point that turns out to be either very helpful or very, very, bad.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters has an "Fetter" Memento (a magic item made by binding a ghost to its own anchor) called the Thirty-Thirty. This is a rifle once owned by a man named Donnie Pritchard, who once tried to sacrifice several people to a ghost town he was convinced was haunted by the ghost of its past. (Pritchard's captives overpowered him and beat him to death with the rifle.) Donnie Pritchard was a character in the New World of Darkness book Ghost Stories, in the story "Dust to Dust", about a literal ghost town.
  • For another New World of Darkness example, one of the first pieces of fiction in the World of Darkness corebook was a sermon by Marco Singe, the Pain Prophet of New Delhi, and introduced the concept of "the God-Machine" to the gameline. Come Demon: The Descent, it's revealed that Singe's family runs a Mega-Corp that has a special connection to the God-Machine, gaining proprietary knowledge of occult physics from its work.

    Theatre 
  • Roy Cohn's first line in Angels in America ("I wish I was an octopus, a fucking octopus") is referenced in his final line before dying.
  • The Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone mentions at the very beginning that he is feeling "blue." At the end of the show, he is emotionally drained, and he mentions that it's not a perfect show, but it gives you a tune to hum "for when you're feeling blue."

    Visual Novels 
  • Happens a lot in the Ace Attorney: series, particularly Investigations and Spirit of Justice. One of the more serious ones is the dream Phoenix has during 2-4, which is exactly the same as the one he had at the beginning of 2-1, but it makes much more sense in the context of Phoenix having to defend an obviously guilty man to rescue Maya.
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair utilizes a ton of these as part of its MO of taking the major plot points and themes from the first game and turning them on their head. One such Call-Back in particular is used to rather excruciating effect during Chiaki's execution, which occurs at the same point and under similar circumstances as Naegi's foiled execution in the first game, only this time the game throws numerous Hope Spots at the player before finally killing her off instead.
  • In Grisaia no Meikyuu Yuuji's friend Danny was really looking forward to meeting the presumably badass communications officer Immortal Robbie only to find out he was actually an Occidental Otaku who was actually being called Imouto Robbie because of his obsession with, well, imouto characters. In Grisaia no Rakuen Yumiko heads to a small cafe hoping to meet a retired intelligence officer and figures she'll find some sleek professional badass, but nope! Robbie again. You can see her dreams dying.
  • Frequently used between Narcissu and its prequel, Narcissu ~ side 2nd:
    • Setsumi's last words from the original game are identical to the last thing Himeko said to Setsumi in Side 2nd.
    • Atou's last question for Setsumi in the original note  is echoed in Setsumi's narration towards the end of side 2nd.
    • There are several phrases that reoccur in the narration of Side 2nd.
  • Spirit Hunter: NG contains multiple references to its previous game, Death Mark:
    • The D-Man sidequest connects NG to Death Mark, and so has plenty of references to the latter; the OOParts magazine that starts off the quest has the Death Mark spirits on its cover, the D-Cards have the eponymous Death Mark imprinted on them, D-Man's acquaintances include Mr. K (aka Kazuo Yashiki, the Death Mark protagonist) and an ex-detective (Satoru Mashita, one of Yashiki's companions), and his final card says that he and the Death Mark crew are after the Hyakki Yagyo, a demon parade that served as the Sequel Hook in DM.
    • In the Screaming Author case, Rosé reveals that she was hired by Yashiki to investigate the spirit, and she makes reference to his confrontation with Hanahiko in the first game. If the spirit is defeated with Ban as the companion, then he also confirms that he knows Yashiki, since he was the one who took care of the spirit that killed Ban's son.


 
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Outro: Ego track & music video

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