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Flashback Cut

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"I get it. You went shopping. I don't need a montage."
Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

Kind of a cross between a regular Flashback and an Imagine Spot. What distinguishes it from a regular Flashback is that it is a quick cut to the past that only lasts a few seconds before snapping back to the present.

This is usually played for comedy. For example, Bob tells Sue that he has a lot of experience with women. Cut to Bob getting his face slapped by various women and then snap back to the present. It can also be used to show something humorous that happened in the past. What distinguishes it from an Imagine Spot is that it shows something that "really" happened.

Compare Hilarious in Flashback. Contrast with Flashback-Montage Realization, which is usually played for drama and in which multiple previous moments are shown to support The Reveal happening in the present, and Flashback Echo, which is usually played for drama as well. Not to be confused with Age Cut.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Non-comedic example in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S: When Vita gets stabbed through her chest by a cloaked Gadget Drone, there's a quick Flashback to a more complete version of the Snow Means Death incident, which revealed that one of those things was what almost killed Nanoha.
    • There's also the famous scene in which Nanoha defeats Quattro:
      Quattro: She's going to just blast through the walls? Oh dear Mother of God!
      [cut to Nanoha doing just that in episode 1 and Quattro having an Oh, Crap! face]
      Nanoha: Blaster-3... Divine... Buster!
    • Another flashback occurs just after Nanoha saves Vivio.
  • In March Comes in Like a Lion, as Rei is convincing the young Momo that Kyoko is not a "witch" for the heated argument Momo and her sisters witness between Rei and Kyoko, a single panel flashes back to one particular instance where Kyoko was genuinely nice to Rei during their childhood.

    Asian Animation 
  • Mechamato: By the start of episode 3, there are 3 more robots imprisoned in Amato's garage. They try to persuade Amato into letting them go, but Amato responds with "Did you forget all that stuff you guys did?", and three brief successive flashbacks showcase the mischief that they were up to while Mechamato was fighting them.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Astro City story "Her Dark Plastic Roots," moments where Beautie's speculations on her origin are interrupted by quick flashbacks to a happy voice excited over her creation.
  • Batman: Black and White: Non-comedic example in "To Become the Bat", which follows Batman through a murder investigation, intercut with single-panel flashbacks to him learning each skill or piece of esoteric knowledge he uses. There's also a moment where he looks at the female murder victim and gets a single-panel flashback to his mother's death.
  • The Simpsons: In a Radioactive Man comic, an enemy of the Superior Squadron infiltrates their headquarters, and the shocked heroes demand to know how he came up with that plan. Cut to him sitting around reading a magazine while another villain tells him to infiltrate the heroes' headquarters. Flashback over.
    Bug Boy: That wasn't much of a flashback!
    Brain-O: Eh.
  • A dramatic example in X-23: Innocence Lost. When X-23 goes to work on Zander Rice, frames of her pummeling him into a bloody, misshapen pulp are intercut with her memories of the Cold-Blooded Torture he inflicted on her, making it clear that killing him is not just a mission, It's Personal.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Brave: When Merida falls into the ruined cave and learns about Mor'du's past, there is a quick flashback to the scene where she tore the tapestry.
  • Coco: When Miguel recognizes Mama Imelda at the Land of the Dead, there's a swift flashback to her photo on the ofrenda.
  • Played for Drama near the end of Finding Nemo, where Marlin believes Nemo to be dead after saving Dory and the scene briefly cuts back to when Marlin found Nemo's egg the night it survived the barracuda attack that killed his family.
  • The trumpet playing alligator Louis from The Princess and the Frog is a Cutaway Gag, flashing back to when he first tried to play that trumpet for humans. The response that he got wasn't quite the applause he was expecting.
    Louis: It didn't end well...
  • In Shark Tale: When after spending most of the movie as Oscar the "Sharkslayer's" manager, and making lots of money off of it, Sykes is horrified to discover that Oscar is a phony, particularly after...
    Sykes: (laughs uneasily) This is a joke, right? 'Cause I told Lino... (sudden look of horror dawns on his face)
    Sykes: [over phone] Shut up, Lino! Shut up!
    Lino: [growls]
    (End flashback, Sykes inflates in total panic and horror)
  • In Open Season when Ranger Beth and Sheriff Gordy confront Shaw of illegally having Elliot the mule deer on the hood of his truck.
    Beth: (storming into the police station) CUFF HIM, GORDY!
    Shaw: Oh, the girl scouts are here!
    Beth: He's at it again!
    Gordy: Shaw, hunting season isn't for three days. What is that buck doing on the hood of your truck?
    Shaw: What? It ain't my fault. He ran right in front of my truck!
    Gordy: Where? On the interstate?
    (Flashback to Shaw veering off the interstate and hitting Elliot)
    Shaw: [chuckles] Sorta.
    Beth: [groans]
  • Hoodwinked! does one in the first conversation between Red Puckett and Nicky Flippers:
    Red Puckett: Why do they call you "Flippers"?
    [Cuts to Flippers on the dance floor at a disco club, wearing a flashy white suit; as someone chants "Go Flippers!" in the background, he does a backflip and lands in a split]
    Nicky Flippers: Uh, no reason.
  • Strange Magic: Marianne has a brief flashback of being attacked by goblins in the Dark Forest when she goes near it again.
  • Frozen: Queen Elsa has a brief flashback of accidentally hurting Anna as a child when Anna shows up at the Ice Palace with Olaf.
  • At the press conference in Zootopia, Nick hears Judy talk about predators reverting back to their savage ways while the TV screens behind her show pictures of the various animals wearing muzzles. This triggers a brief cut to him as a junior ranger scout wearing the muzzle his childhood bullies shoved on him.
  • In Ratatouille, once the picky food critic Anton Ego has a bite of Remy's Ratatouille, we get a flashback to his childhood, showing his mother making some for him, indicating that Remy has touched his seemingly-untouchable heart.
  • In Turning Red, Mei has a brief flashback to her attacking Tyler as she prepares for the red moon ritual, making her jump back in horror.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One of the key signatures of the The Crow films are their use of this trope. Flashbacks to happier times must be accompanied with a "WHOOSH" sound effect and be presented in significantly richer and brighter colours than the rest of the film.
  • Used for comedic effect in the 2008 film version of Get Smart.
  • Licorice Pizza: At the end, when Alana and Gary are running around the neighborhood trying to find each other, there are quick cuts back to her running after him when he got arrested, and him running after her when she fell off the back of Jack Holden's motorcycle.
  • Spy Hard: Agent Dick Steele is testing a golf club until his old buddy shows up. "We go back a long way, huh?" (Cuts to a flashback just happened few seconds ago.)
  • X-Men Film Series
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Two snippets of Raven from X-Men: First Class appear when the Future Professor X discusses their sibling-like relationship to the other X-Men.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: As Magneto is testing out his newly augmented powers at Auschwitz, images of his parents, wife and daughter appear for a split second.
  • Whenever John Murdoch of Dark City thinks back to Shell Beach, it's always as very fragmented, fleeting memories.
  • Exotica: Various through the film.
  • Throughout Memento, Lenny experiences swift flashbacks to the fateful night he and his wife were attacked in the bathroom.
  • Towards the end of Shredder Orpheus, both Orpheus and Eurydice experience quick flashbacks to happier times as he makes his way to the Underworld in search of her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used frequently in 19-2, especially when Berrof/Barron is reminded of his former partner's shooting and his struggles to move on and do his job.
  • Used multiple times in nearly every episode of 30 Rock.
    • So much so, that in the Live Episode, Julia Louis-Dreyfus played Liz Lemon in flashbacks, while Tina Fey continued to play the role in the main narrative.
    • They averted the trope when Liz mentioned she couldn't believe they had been doing TGS for three years to Jack. The both looked off like they were reminiscing but the clip never played.
    Liz: We've sure had a lot of crazy times (beat) I'm thinking about some of them now...
    Jack: Me too...
  • Arrested Development:
    • In one episode, Tobias is covered in blue paint and tells Michael, "I just blue myself." Later, after he gets hit by a car and ends up in the hospital, his wife Lindsay asks Michael what the last thing he said was. Cue flashback to "I just blue myself."
    • A running gag is Lindsay's attempts to seduce the family lawyer Bob Loblaw, and him completely ignoring her. In one episode she claims to have finally caught his attention with one of her "little hints". The ensuing flashback shows her grabbing him by the collar and shouting "Why won't you fuck me!?"
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Tucker's brief flashback in "The Prom" shows why he wants to unleash hellhounds on the prom.
      Tucker: Do you wanna go to the prom with me?
      Girl: No.
    • In "Gone", Buffy finds Spike's cigarette lighter behind the sofa and has an instant flashback to having sex with him. No wonder the lighter ended up in her pants.
  • Le Bureau des Légendes: When Mille Sabords mentions the ISIS commander code-named Chevalier to Raymond, we see a fleeting flashback of Chevalier amputating Raymond's foot.
  • Done on many episodes of Cold Case to juxtapose between the suspect and the people in the victim's life in the past and present.
  • The Flash (2014): "Flashpoint" takes place three months after the season 2 cliffhanger in which Barry created an alternate timeline where his mother wasn't killed by the Reverse-Flash. After a few scenes in this new reality, Barry is bringing food to the Reverse-Flash and he flashes back to what happened right after the season 2 finale: after knocking the Reverse-Flash out in the year 2000, Barry brought him to the present and found an abandoned building to keep him in.
  • The Good Place:
    • Used a few times in early episodes, such as when Chidi asks Eleanor to think of some positive deed she committed in life, or failing that, something neutral. She flashes back to being nasty to an environmentalist.
    • And again when Jason reveals he knows Eleanor's secret, which he claims is thanks to using his 'powers of deduction'. Cut to a very drunk Eleanor just telling him the night they got to the Good Place.
      Eleanor: I vaguely remember that...
  • How I Met Your Mother loves these. Given the Framing Device of the show, arguably the entire series is one of these.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
  • One of the main comedy tropes used in Leverage.
    "I once saw a horse kill a clown"
  • A non-comedy example ends the Lost episode "Dave". After an episode of regular flashbacks to Hurley's hospitalization, a quick flashback shows that Libby was at Santa Rosa as well.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring The Phantom Planet, the main hero flashes back through the events of the movie as he's returning to normal, leading up to his farewell to his Love Interest, leading Crow to complain that they can't flash back to things that happened ten seconds ago.
  • In Switched, rather than showing previous events with a recap, the show gives quick flashbacks to significant events in-episode. This may be justified as there are many voice-overs throughout the show, viewers watching without subtitles could easily be confused as to whether the audio is being repeated or is brand new.

    Video Games 
  • Played for Laughs in the Touhou Project Flashes on Walfas, where the flashbacks are used as backstory for the rivalry between Kaguya and Mokou; said flashbacks often consist of the two fighting over ownership of a toy trucks twuck. Reimu lampshades it in one Flash in which a flashback occurs in her burger stand and she kicks out the two for violating the store's "no flashbacks" rule.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Daughter for Dessert, small flashbacks about the protagonist and Lainie appear throughout the plot. They are eventually tied together.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy: Each of the team members have a flashback on how they messed with the ship they were on, and how it contributed to it crashing.


    Web Original 
  • A literally painful (yet perfectly comedically timed one) happens in this Let's Play of Megaman Legends 2. It's probably even more amusing if you didn't see what happened the first time.
  • Seen in the Scott The Woz episode "Game Stores", when Scott is interviewed by manager Chet in order to apply for a job at a game store:
    Chet: You know, we're really looking for somebody who's into all different types of games. Are you that kind of guy?
    Scott: ...
    [cut to scenes from previous episodes with Scott proclaiming that he doesn't care about various game titles and genres]
    Scott: ...I like the Wii.
    Chet: Perfect, you're hired.
  • In this video by Skaya Siberian, Skaya the Husky explains why she hates the groomer. A monochrome clip from this video then plays with some caption explaining that like most Huskies, Skaya was just being dramatic at the groomers and not because she was hurt. The music that plays just adds to the humour.

    Western Animation 
  • Central Park:
    • In Season 1 "Episode One", Bitsy wonders how could the dog walker lose Shampagne, but Helen assures her that he seemed competent when she interviewed him. A quick flashback revealed that Helen purposely hired an incompetent dog walker so Shampagne can get lost so she would be next in line to inherit Bitsy's fortune.
    • In Season 1 "Hat Luncheon", when Owen tells Molly he hates speeches and he's not good at it and Paige tries to reassure him, he get a flashback to Owen bombing his speech twice.
    • In Season 1 "Garbage Ballet", because of the increased trash at the park, Paige believes that the increased trash means more rats in the park. Owen tries to reassure her there aren't more rats in the park than usual, until a quick flashback shows Owen staring in horror at the sight of rats all over the trash.
    • In Season 1 "Dog Spray Afternoon":
      • When Molly wants to join Owen to see the graffiti on the fountain, Owen tells Molly to not take an interest in graffiti, but Molly tells him she only has a passing interest. Then we get a quick flashback of her saying cool when sees graffiti in the park and even drawing her own in her notebook.
      • When Helen has to take Shampagne on a walk again, she tells Bitsy that the good dog leash is at the cleaners and she has to use an "old" one. A flashback to five minutes ago reveals that Helen dropped the "old" dog leash in a sink garbage disposal to damage it so it can be loose enough for Shampagne to break free.
    • In Season 1 "Hot Oven", when Owen tells Molly she should invite Brendan over for pizza night, Molly brings up that Owen's pizza can be challenging, then we flashback to Owen holding a slice of his pizza that falls apart.
    • In Season 1 "Live It Up Tonight", after Birdie explains who Zoom Abromavich is, we cut to a flashback of Zoom giving a movie tour about Vanilla Sky in Central Park. When Zoom asks everyone if they need him to explain the movie before he gives the tour, everyone immediately rise their hand up.
  • In The Critic, Alice asks Jay when was the last time he was dressed by a woman, citing his wardrobe as the source of his unpopularity. We see Jay as a child, being dressed in a little Lord Fauntleroy outfit by his mother for summer camp, only to get on the bus for Attica Prison. "In every boy's life, there's a summer of '76."
  • Also used (and, some would say, overused) in Family Guy, happening almost every episode.
    • This is played with in an episode in Season 2, when Peter flashes back to something that happened ten minutes ago. Ten minutes ago in their time. We saw it happen closer to one minute ago.
    • This was also played with in a later episode when Stewie is sucked into a portal in his closet by a malevolent poltergeist, and says something that appears to be setting up a flashback, but is interrupted as he enters the portal, and the flashback doesn't happen.
    • And again when Stewie said something expecting a flashback to happen, but they didn't have a clip to show.
  • In the The Legend of Korra episode "The Voice in the Night" this is Played for Drama; after Avatar Korra is knocked out, she's briefly Dreaming of Times Gone By, with split-second scenes of her previous incarnation Aang, and his friends Sokka and Toph as middle-aged adults.
  • Used in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Bully", when SpongeBob hides in fear of the bully Flats, wondering why he's being picked on.
    SpongeBob: I don't understand. Why would Flats want to kick my butt? I haven't said two words to the guy.
    (cut to earlier in the episode)
    SpongeBob: Hi, I'm SpongeBob.
    (cut back to present)
    SpongeBob: One...two...(gasp) Oh no, that's three!
  • Super Mario World: Played for Laughs in "Rock TV":
    Luigi: Remember the trouble we got into with that 'Speak to Santa' Hotline back in Brooklyn?
    (Luigi gives Mario a shockingly expensive phone bill; Mario does a Wild Take upon seeing it)
    Mario: Phone bill— amount due: $1,295.31! (faints in shock)


Video Example(s):


The Warden

The Second Coming is at the mercy of a terrifying monster called the warden and is trapped at a dead end with nothing but a book, a candle, and a stick. Having no choice but to use whatever he could use at his disposal, The Second Coming finds that the warden is not really a monster.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / MusicSoothesTheSavageBeast

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