Follow TV Tropes


Flashback Cut

Go To

"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. Not to be confused with Age Cut.


    open/close all folders 


    Anime & Manga 
  • Non-comedic example in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS: 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 3-gatsu no 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • A dramatic example in 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.
  • 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.
    Brain-O: Eh.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • 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 Ego has a bite of Remy’s Ratatouille, we get a flashback showing his mother making some for him, indicating that Remy has touched his seemingly-untouchable heart.

    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.
  • 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.

    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...
  • In one episode of Arrested Development, 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."
  • Tucker's brief flashback in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "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.
  • 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.
    • In "Nora", when Barry tells his daughter how to phase (meaning, to make oneself and possibly other objects intangible) in order to stop a plane from crashing into a building, Barry flashes back to Wells teaching him how to phase in "Tricksters" and repeats Wells's lines as he remembers them.
    • In "The Last Temptation of Barry Allen Part 1", when Barry attacks the Speed Force appearing as his deceased mother by vibrating his hand through her heart, he realizes by quickly flashing back to his real mother's death that he resembles her killer and his archenemy, the Reverse-Flash.
  • How I Met Your Mother loves these. Given the Framing Device of the show, arguably the entire series is one of these.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • Played for Laughs in the Touhou 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.

    Web Comics 

    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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


BB - Low-Scoring Game

In Season 10 "Wag the Song", when we see how Tina gets a recording of a crowd applauding, she gets it from their school basketball game where the players are so bad at scoring, the whole crowd started applauding for three minutes when one of the teams finally scored a point.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / FlashbackCut

Media sources:

Main / FlashbackCut