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Flashback... Back... Back...

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"Not another parallel reality!" cried Buster, as everything started to fade and turn monochrome.
"Relax, Citizen Kincaid. This is merely a flashback scene."

A specific type of Flashback Effect.

It happens all the time, you slip in the shower or remember something funny and whoosh! You're in a Flashback, and everyone knows it.

This is compounded by the familiar technique of echoing whatever phrase triggered the flashback as the scene slips into the past. ("Are you okay... okay... okay...?" And then you're in the Flashback.)

Some series don't use an echo, employing instead some other sound effect such as harp music or a bell, usually accompanied by a blurring/fading dissolve to the memory.

A typical subversion is to have too many echoes or have the character provide their own.

Flashback Echo is a different trope entirely.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Audio Plays 

  • In Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, Papa Smurf sees Empath having the "Thousand Yard Stare Of Impending Flashback" during his first visit to the Smurf Village when he was in a "crying trance", reliving a memory from long ago. It was his being left in Psychelia by Papa Smurf as an infant and suffering the memory wipe Mind Rape of the Psyche Master.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension:
    Announcer: Nineteen thirty-eight. Can you imagine what it must have been like back then...then...then...
  • Parodied in Airplane!:
    Striker: "Hello...lo...lo...? Echo...echo...echo! Pinch hitting for Pedro Borbón... Manny Mota... Mota... Mota...!"
  • Played straight in The Phantom Planet, and later mocked by Mystery Science Theater 3000.
    Servo: Congratulations, Mrs. Astronaut, it's a boy... boy... boy...
    Mike: Wake up, Frank. You wet the bed... bed... bed...
    Crow: Frank, you'll have to take third grade again... gain... gain...
    Mike: Mr. Chapman, this is Western Financial Collections. Do you value your credit rating... rating... rating...
    Crow: I'm afraid you're just not 7-11 timber, Frank... Frank... Frank...
    Servo: You're the worst party clown we've ever had... had... had...
  • Parodied in the Wayne's World movie as Wayne and Garth (in their typical low-budget way) literally walk on screen to back the plot up and work out a better ending by waving their hands across the screen and going "Doodooleeloo! Doodooleeloo!"
  • Molly (1999): As Molly's being wheeled into the OR for experimental brain surgery, Buck's line "But it would give you a chance to... you know, have a better life" echoes in her head.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in the modern The Addams Family show. Fester says something which causes Morticia to flashback as that last word is echoed over and over. When the flashback ends, it's revealed that Fester is just saying that last word over and over.
  • Doctor Who. In "The Unicorn and the Wasp", various suspects experience flashbacks while being interrogated as to what they were up to when the murder took place. Eventually even the Doctor starts to get caught in a flashback before Agatha Christie abruptly brings him back.
  • Parodied in Frasier. After reminiscing about the past, the characters look dazed and introspective as harp music is playing in the background, a typical cue for a flashback scene. A moment later they snap out of it. Still hearing the music, they turn around to see that someone behind them was actually playing a harp.
  • In the Game Shakers episode "Wedding Shower of Doom", Uncle Jordan remembers the end of his music career thanks to Dub, when they got "their big break on The Ted Mulligan Show... The Ted Mulligan Show... The Ted Mulligan Show... The Ted Mulligan Show..."
  • The Goes Wrong Show attempts this in “A Trial to Watch”, with varying results. The first goes off without a hitch, the second takes so long the guy having the flashback has to yell his line to get a reaction and the third one is triggered by the word “happiness”, which ends up being cut down to remove the first syllable.
  • Good Luck Charlie: In "Guys & Dolls", PJ lampshades this trope. He hears Gabe's voice in his head saying, "You're just like dad, dad, dad..." then he asks himself, "Why do flashbacks always echo?" or something like that.
  • Lost uses a whooshing sound to indicate flashbacks, although one can usually tell by the setting not being the island.
    • Let's not forget the "Thousand-Yard Stare of Impending Flashback."
    • As an interesting aside, the sixth season changed its "flashback" mechanic to highlight a "Sideways" world. Accordingly, the producers changed the traditional flashback noise to a noise more akin to an airplane lifting off, drawing a distinction between flashbacks and "flash-sideways".
  • Parodied at least once on MythBusters:
    Jamie: Is that a harp I'm hearing?
    Adam: Shhh!
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch parodies it, Salem tells Sabrina to make the music for him to tell a story in flashback, Sabrina does just that.
  • The UFO (1970) episode "The Dalotek Affair"... "The Dalotek Affair"... "The Dalotek Affair"...

  • TX-Sector is famous for echoing its title. "TX - TX - TX - TX - TX - TX..."

  • In Nebulous, the Professor's frequent flashbacks to his childhood at the circus are heralded by an echo of him saying "I'm not a clown". Lampshaded when at one point, a character asks why he was lying on the floor muttering the world "clown", and at another time when the word "cloud" sets him off instead.
    Nebulous: Did you say...clown?
    Sir Ronald: No! I said "cloud"!
    Nebulous: [flashback beginning] I don't want to be a clown...clown...clown...
    Sir Ronald: [voice fading into the background] I said cloud!
  • The musical variation is parodied in Son of Cliché, in the first of the recurring sketches "Asso, Spanish Detective".
    Asso: I started to think back. Back to the beginning of this case...
    [sting of harp music]
    Asso: I was in my office, playing my harp.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Adventures in Odyssey.
    Donna: Oh, no!
    Jessie: [in Donna's head] He came home, picked up her little brother, and split...and split...and split
    Donna: Just like Wendy!
    Jimmy: Donna?
    Donna: Huh?
    Jimmy: You ok? You look the way people look on TV when they're remembering what someone said in an earlier scene.

    Video Games 
  • Bastion: This place is... intoxicating... intoxicating... intoxicating...

  • Stickman and Cube couldn't resist having a go at this one: Stickman once patiently explained to Cube how to flashback, including repeating the last word of your sentence over and over again, and the obligatory sound effect. Cube then used these techniques to flash back to Stickman teaching him how to flashback. Cue neverending loop.

    Web Original 
  • Yugioh The Abridged Series: "Odion stop being such a BABY baby baby baby..........." flashes back to the time when Odion was a baby.
  • Invoked in a Joueur du Grenier episode where he is told he can start a flashback by echoing the last thing he said.

    Western Animation 
  • While most of the flashbacks in the Supertrooper duology of Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers avoid this, the scene where Shane is forced to become a Hunter of His Own Kind uses this effect partly to make the scene feel even more oppressive.
  • Parodied in Duckman. An episode begins with Duckman waking up tied to a table and wondering how he got there. He thinks "Think back, back, back..." and flashes him waking up tied to a table just a few seconds ago. This time he thinks "Think back, back back...must think back a little farther, farther, farther...". He flashes back to waking up again. Rinse and repeat, but this time he adds "Maybe volunteering for LSD research wasn't the the best way out of the Marines" and finally succeeds in flashing back.
  • Invoked in Earthworm Jim;
    Professor Monkey-For-A-Head: I remember it as if it were yesterday...yesterday...yesterday...
    Psycrow: It was yesterday.
    Professor Monkey-For-A-Head: Quiet! I am setting up a flashback! Yesterday...yesterday...yesterday...
  • Parodied in The Fairly OddParents in an episode where several Flashbacks occurred, each time preceded by a character providing the echo themselves: "...while he was away at summer" Further parodied when Timmy's dad gets an echo response to "summer camp" while in the flashback; he adds "Put up drapes to cancel the echo" to his to-do list.
  • Subverted in one Family Guy episode, Peter triggers a flashback in Lois's brother by saying "Pow! Right in the kisser", while dressed up as Ralph Kramden. Cut back to the present and Peter is actually saying the phrase over and over.
  • The second Robbie the Reindeer special has Old Jingles segue into a flashback story by going "Wibble-wobble, wibble-wobble" and wiggling his fingers. The lost tribe of vikings later do the exact same thing (given how Old Jingles was alive and around when the Vikings were, it's possible he picked it up from them).
  • The Simpsons had Marge flashing back to Homer's words, only to reveal that Homer was whispering them to her through a cardboard tube, including the echo.
    • In "Lemon of Troy", Marge repeats the last line of a lecture on civic pride she gives to Bart; "Sorry to repeat myself, but it'll help you remember." Sure enough, Bart later has a flashback to what she said, and remarks "Hey, that does work!"
    • In another episode, different characters trigger flashbacks by actually repeating the words "think back".
  • In typical South Park style, in the episode "I'm A Little Bit Country", Cartman tries to avoid research on the Revolutionary War by inducing a flashback... to Revolutionary times. This mostly involves getting himself hit in the head, and saying "I wonder what things were like back then. Back then. Back then..."


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