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Delayed Narrator Introduction

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"Now the Kid sees somethin' stranger still; his mind races. Did anyone else survive? Sure enough, he finds another. He finds me."
Rucks, narrator of Bastion

This trope is when the person narrating the story is introduced as a character part way in and reveals this is who they are (although they might not do so immediately, this is usually the case). The narrator usually doesn't introduce themselves before this point (and may be assumed to be an Omniscient Narrator), so it's usually The Reveal. At this point the narration might stay in the third person, however if the narrator sticks around and follows the protagonist it (obviously) shifts to the first person. A good sign that you're dealing with this trope is a statement along the lines of "...and that's when they met me, [insert name here]".

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Naturally this can invoke a bit of Fridge Logic; how accurate was the narrator's previous narration when they weren't present? While they could certainly have been told about it later, they could just as easily have been an Unreliable Narrator (although this twist is rarely seen along with this trope unless it applies to the whole story).

This trope often goes hand in hand with How We Got Here (since the narrator's narrating events that took place before they began talking), it may also use In Medias Res if it starts with the point where the narrator joins the story. Often overlaps with Narrator All Along, where the narrator's identity isn't revealed until the very end of the story, as a twist.


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Examples;

Anime and Manga

  • Manzou from Samurai Champloo does this where he introduces who he is after he'd already been the voice narrating.

Comic Books

  • In Peter Milligan's The Enigma for Vertigo Comics, the identity of the narrator is not revealed until the very last page of the story: it's a lizard who first appeared in the story only a page or so earlier. It Makes Sense in Context and it's better than it sounds.
  • The Unbelievable Gwenpool: In the first issue, she outright points out that she isn't in the truck that's shown in the panel, then points herself out in the background a few pages later (as a customer in the bank the occupants of the truck are about to rob).

Film

  • The Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan the Barbarian film is narrated by Mako's character, who Conan meets for the first time partway through. (According to one account, the original plan was for Conan to narrate, but Schwarzenegger's English wasn't up to it.)
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  • The narrator in Carne Tremula (also known as Live Flesh internationally) points out his own birth near the beginning of the film.
  • In the film Gor the narrator doesn't appear as a character until the end of the film; he's the sequel's Big Bad.
  • Sir Anthony Hopkins's character in Alexander (about Alexander the Great). Ptolemy was one of Alexander's generals. The Framing Device of the movie is an elderly Pharaoh Ptolemy, pre-abdication in favour of his son Ptolemy II, telling the story of Alexander to a scribe.
  • Patou from Rock-A-Doodle narrates the entire movie, but first shows up in person when the Grand Duke is about to eat Edmond.
  • In The Road Warrior, the viewer learns only in the last seconds of the film that the aged narrator is the feral kid.
  • Posse The onscreen narrator (the elderly Woody Strode) tells the story of Jesse Lee and his gang of anti-heroes. At the movie's climax, the posse saves a village. Before leaving, Jesse give his journal to the youngest survivor. Cut to Strode, reading from the book he's kept all these years.
  • Stranger Than Fiction, with the twists that the main character is aware of the narration as its happening and the narrator is a writer who doesn't realize she's narrating real events.
  • In The Lobster, the female narrator seems to be only that for the first part of the film. It isn't until the scene of David and the Maid putting the Heartless Woman into the transformation room that she speaks of David talking about it to her later. She's eventually introduced when David finds the Loner group, and quickly becomes David's Love Interest.

Literature

  • In From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, where the Framing Device is that this is a letter from the titular Mrs. Frankweiler to her lawyer to explain why she is changing her will. Mrs. Frankweiler herself doesn't actually show up until almost the end of the story.
  • The identity of the narrator of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao isn't explicitly revealed until at least halfway through the book and there aren't many clues (It's Yunior, by the way).
  • The narrator in The Player of Games. Each of the main sections begins with some taunting about he's not going to just tell you who he is or how he knows this story. At the very end, he reveals his true identity, the militant drone from the beginning, having been disguised as a different drone which accompanied the main character for the rest of the story, wonders if the main character ever caught on to who he was, and admits that he couldn't possibly have known things like what the other characters were actually thinking or doing when he wasn't there (so he just made those bits up).
  • In The Plague, the narrator pointedly refrains from revealing his identity until the end, though the third-person limited Point of View makes it fairly obvious who he is.
  • Jonathan Barnes's The Somnambulist initially seems to just have a sinister Lemony Narrator. The villain only reveals himself as the narrator when the Stage Magician hero has figured out his identity.
  • While he's never exactly a character, there are a couple times in Slaughterhouse-Five where Kurt Vonnegut states that a solider mentioned in passing is himself.
  • The prologue to each volume of The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign is narrated by the same character (though the rest of the books are in third-person). In the first volume, no context is given as to who the narrator is. Reading further reveals them to be the White Queen, the main heroine and main antagonist of the series.

Live-Action TV

  • Doctor Who: In "The End of Time", the Narrator (credited as such) appears briefly halfway through Part One, and is revealed at the end of the episode as a Time Lord. He's identified as Rassilon (and Lord President of the Time Lords) in Part Two.
  • In the miniseries I, Claudius, it's around three episodes before the narrator is even born, although it's explicitly a story told by that character from the beginning.
  • The narrator of Dear White People is introduced at the end of season two when Sam and Lionel go to meet with a secret society.
  • My Name Is Earl. A very brief delay. The first scene of the series has the narrator describing what we're seeing:

    You know that guy you see going into the convenience store when you stop off in that little town on the way to Grandma's house? Sort of shifty lookin' fella who buys a pack of smokes, a couple lotto scratchers and a tallboy note  at 10:00 in the mornin'? The kind of guy you wait to come out before you and your family go in?
    Well, that guy's me. My name is Earl.

Video Games

  • In Bastion the narrator is a mysterious old man named Rucks. When the Player Character reaches the eponymous Bastion after the first level, he's revealed to be the only other person who made it there and introduces himself in the narration (although he doesn't reveal his name until a bit further in when The Kid brings back other survivors).
  • The narrator of Valkyria Chronicles isn't introduced until midway through Chapter 2, despite narrating the events previously. How she could narrate events she was not present for is handily explained, since she is an investigative journalist and researched the events in order to write her book on the war. This also overlaps with Narrator All Along, since her identity as the narrator is not revealed until the end of the game.
  • In Dragon Age II, Hawke first meets Varric, the narrator of their story, one year after arriving at Kirkwall. Although this gets meta; Varric is the first character introduced in the game, and the main events of the game are framed by his "modern" scenes where he's telling the story.
  • Gaia isn't introduced in God of War series until after narrating the entirety of the first game and the prologue of the second.

Web Animation

  • The first episode of RWBY opens with narration by an unknown woman. Volume 3 reveals her to be Salem, the Big Bad of the series.

Western Animation

  • Tex Avery's MGM short "The First Bad Man" is narrated by what turns out to be at the end the First Bad Man himself.
  • Another Tex Avery cartoon, "Who Killed Who?" is introduced by a live-action host who solemnly proclaims that the short will show that "crime does not pay". The cartoon is a wacky chase between a cop and a hooded killer, who is finally caught, unmasked, and revealed to be — the live-action announcer, who bursts into tears.
  • The narrator for Mumble's life in Happy Feet is eventually revealed to be Lovelass, who actually informs Mumble he was going to be telling his story.


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