Most dramatic tension in story-telling comes from the audience being ignorant of the work's ending. Audience members invest in characters and plots and want to know how they are treated and resolved, respectively.
Sometimes, however, authors choose to go a different route. They will make known to the audience how their story ends before they even begin telling it. Sometimes they'll do so with an explicit statement (such as in a Spoiler Opening or How We Got Here), sometimes by writing a prequel that ends right where the original work begins. Whatever the case may be, the author has given himself quite a task. He must find some way to establish tension and doubt when everyone knows how the story is going to end.
This can be easily confused with several tropes. It Was His Sled deals with twists or endings that, thanks to their assimilation into popular culture, no longer surprise us although the author originally did not intend for everyone to know the ending. How We Got Here and In Medias Res are related, but not identical. And movies or shows which, by their predictable nature, indicate how the work ends don't count either: the audience already knows that the good guys will win, that Batman will survive to fight another day, same-bat-time-same-bat-channel, yes. But the ending isn't canonically established; theoretically, Adam West could die at the end of an episode, although realistically we know he won't.
Authors might cheat with this a bit (or a lot), either by having the "ending" shown be context-sensitive and open to an entirely different interpretation as the audience gets to know the set up, or with an outright Twist Ending by having the "end" shown in a How We Got Here like fashion be only the first 10 of 15 minutes, and ending much differently than is likely.
Or the whole thing isn't about what happens at the end, but how it happens. The Whodunnit becomes a Howdunnit, and so on.
Compare External Retcon, where the audience is expected to be familiar with an entire existing story.
Doomed by Canon is a subtrope of this, and deals with prequel characters and their attempts to either take out the main cast of the original story or survive to the end, attempts which we know are doomed because of the original story. Framing Device entails this to a certain extent, as any character alive to tell or hear the tale must have survived, and the setting may also hint.
In almost any story that has a narrator, you can safely assume the narrator will live. For similar reasons, in any Scrapbook Story, you can safely assume that somebody must have been able to put together the scrapbook. There are some deliberate subversions, of course, including ones where a ghost is narrating or scrapbooking.
This is Older Than Feudalism. Everyone who heard Homer sing already knew that Troy falls and Achilles and Hector both die; nobody walked out of Sophocles's play saying, "Dude, he married his mom?" There's a long, long tradition of retelling the story everyone knows.
As a warning, this entry contains spoilers both marked and unmarked. Since several tropes can twist into a Subverted example, tread carefully.
- Anatolia Story, as it is based in ancient Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), and ties in well with established history, anyone familiar with the Hittite Empire knows how certain events are going to play out.
- Wolf's Rain begins as Kiba lies dying in the snow. The scene is repeated near the end (Episode 30), but it's not quite the end of the scene, as Kiba then falls through the ice and drowns, and it's followed by a Distant Finale.
- The opening of Grave of the Fireflies: "September 21st, 1945. That was the day I died."
- Rose of Versailles:
- Shoujo drama surrounding the court of Versailles on the eve of the Revolution. While the fates of the fictional characters are uncertain, everyone and his dog knows what happens to Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.
- Also invoked in-story early-on by Oscar when she's forced to pick sides in the conflict between the Countess Du Barry, lover of king Louis XV, and Marie Antoinette, then merely the wife of the heir to the throne: she quickly reasons that Du Barry may be the more powerful in that moment thanks to the king's support, but the king was old and in that moment she would lose all her power at the same time Marie Antoinette became queen, so she picked Marie Antoinette's side. Just as expected, Du Barry ultimately wins their contention-and then, less than two years later, Louis XV dies, making her victory completely meaningless.
- The sequel Eikou no Napoleon-Eroica does the same as its parent series. Particularly notable when Alain and Bernard try and kill Napoleon before he can crown himself emperor, as it's obvious they will fail.
- Danganronpa 3 has Zetsubou-hen, the prequel of all events of the Hope's Peak Saga, therefore, it's a telling of the events that led to The End of the World as We Know It, the death of all student council and the fall of all Class 77 in despair, therefore, The Bad Guy Wins. To anyone who has been accompanying the franchise, none of these events are surprise.
- Since it's the Prequel to the adventures of their Reincarnations, it's a pretty good guess that Konzen, Kenren, and Tenpou are going to die in Saiyuki Gaiden, yes? Readers of both series know that Goku is going to lose all of his memories of these events and be trapped in a lonely mountain cave for several hundred years, that Nataku will choose permanent suspended animation, and it's a pretty educated guess that Goujun will die at some point, too (but not before writing an account of the events), seeing as Jeep/Hakuryu is probably his reincarnation. It's still surprising to learn exactly who the characters were in the heavenly bureaucracy and what their exile has to do with the main story, though.
- Also, the prequel Saiyuki Ibun which details how Houmei became Koumyou Sanzo. Two of his fellow sanzo-candidates are Toudai (future Goudai Sanzo) and Tenkai (future Maten sutra sanzo). You know Goudai's eventual fate from the Burial plot arc and you know that Koumyou will be Tenkai's successor for the Maten sutra. The story is in how they get there.
- Barefoot Gen, both the manga and anime start in Hiroshima, August 1945. Nothing more needs to be said.
- The "Turn Back The Pendulum" flashback arc takes place 110-101 years before Chapter 1 and it's designed to show how the Vaizards and Urahara's group ended up hiding out in the World of the Living. Even though readers know exactly what the titular pendulum is counting down to, the backstories of the characters involved are still unknown so the arc can still insert some impressive reveals along the way.
- The "Everything but the Rain" flashback arc takes place 20 years before Chapter 1 and shows how Isshin ends up losing his Shinigami power and living in the World of the Living, married to Masaki. Kubo surprises the fandom with some impressive reveals due to fan assumptions that it would be a fun, ditzy, Meet Cute story. It's instead a dark, brooding tale that centres on the Ishida family, climaxes with the utter ruination of Ryuuken's Quincy future, and casts both Ichigo and Uryuu's entire personal history in a brand new, and much darker, light.
- Pluto is based on an arc of Astro Boy, so naturally there are quite a few events that are expected to come to pass for anyone familiar with the original. Gesicht, for example? Dead.
- Baccano! does this by showing the very spoileriffic aftermath of the two main plots (i.e. Firo and Luck becoming immortal, Ladd losing an arm and being thrown off the train, most of the focus characters surviving the Flying Pussyfoot massacre, Chane accepting Claire's proposal) in the very first episode. The trick is that it's entirely out of context and makes no sense until you get through the series at least once, and that the real wham moments (such as the Rail Tracer being Claire) are left for the rest of the show. Unless you read the first episode credits, of course.
- The Ga-Rei -Zero- anime does this as part of its three starting Wham Episodes. In the first episode that entire squad is revealed to be made entirely of Dead Stars Walking, which sets the tone but doesn't actually invoke this trope. In the second we meet the real cast, including familiar faces from Ga-Rei... whom Yomi proceeds to kill. Finally, with the third we flashback to the first time Yomi and Kagura meet, at the latter's mother's funeral, and the anime continues from there, leading up to Yomi's Start of Darkness. The viewer knows it's going to happen, knows it's going to be very painful (and it is), and the tension is derived in three ways: firstly, seeing how Yomi went insane, secondly, a desire to see which of the many sympathetic characters we see manage to live to the end of it and thirdly, whether or not Yomi can overcome the More Than Mind Control once the series catches up to the second episode. It's one hell of a ride.
- Akagi having never lost was clearly established in the author's earlier manga Ten. So in the Akagi it was obvious that he would have to win every single game making him an Invincible Hero.
- Shaman King practically revolves around one of these, given that Hiroyuki Takei practically tells the audience Hao will become the Shaman King. There is no one in the series capable of standing up to him. He still does an amazing job of revealing backstories and setting up the ending on the way there. This is thankfully averted in the anime where Hao is defeated and he is stripped of his godly powers, preventing him from becoming a problem again.
- Uzumaki is set up in its opening pages as being a retelling of the events after the fact by lead character Kirie. Subverted, in that the obvious conclusion that this means she makes it through intact isn't true in the end.
- Romeo X Juliet. Well, duh! But did the original end with an epic showdown against the One-Winged Angel form of a Creepy Child who speaks in verse or a Heroic Sacrifice to save the story's world? Didn't think so. The series does toy a bit with the idea of letting Romeo and Juliet defy their ultimate destiny, before just going "Nah."
- Lampshaded in Mahou Sensei Negima!: after the dramatic tale of Nagi and Arika, it's pointed out that if they hadn't survived Negi would have never been born.
- Axis Powers Hetalia:
- For anyone who knows their history, the Axis will lose. Although it has little bearing on the series' continuity itself... despite the name.
- Let's make that "show based on history means you'll see loads of Foregone Conclusion".
- Basilisk has an opening narration indicating that the efforts to make peace between the clans failed and everyone killed each other off ignominiously. The series shows how it happened.
- After viewing the first episode of the anime adaptation of Berserk which shows Guts as a badass, BFS-wielding, handicapped jerkass, who seems to have a beef with a dude named Griffith, and seeing that a big portion of the series is in fact a flashback, we all know how Guts is going to end up by episode 25: the rest shows us how.
- One Piece:
- One Piece has the Skypiea arc, where a giant island got blown up into the clouds, during the arc, you learn about how some four hundred years in the past, an explorer was best friends with a warrior from the aforementioned island, the explorer leaves and promises to return, considering that the Straw Hat's learn about the explorer from a fairytale/propaganda piece where he gets executed and the main characters are on the island in the clouds, it's not exactly a surprise that the story doesn't end well.
- This happens often with the backstories of various characters, in which there is usually some kind of mentor/parental figure who was taking care of him/her during a happier time in his/her life. Sometimes, we are explicitly told already that said parental figure is dead, while other times it can be inferred from the fact that the person has not been seen yet in the present; either way, we can expect that, somehow, that happy life they had together won't last and that shit will hit the fan before the flashback is done.
- A Naruto Shippuden filler takes a character from the manga who we only knew from sourcebooks and from a manga spread and spread it out. The character is Utakata, a rogue ninja from the Hidden Mist Village and host of the six-tailed beast. Unfortunately, anyone who read the manga knew that he did not show up and was implied to have been captured off-screen. So this obviously was not going to end on a happy note...
- Likewise, the manga's flashback story showing Minato's life prior to the Nine-Tails' attack. We've already been told beforehand that he and his wife will die immediately after their son Naruto is born, with Minato's final act being to seal the Nine-Tails into Naruto's body.
- Thanks to the manga ending and the epilogue being a Distant Finale, the ending to the canon movie The Last: Naruto the Movie (a Romance Arc for Naruto and Hinata) is already known. The question is less "Will They or Won't They?'' and more "How Will They?".
- Itachi's Story, a duology of novels about Itachi's backstory, ends with Itachi massacring his clan.
- Subverted in the Pokémon episode "Holy Matrimony!", where James tells Jessie, Meowth, and the twerps the sad story of his childhood as an orphan, living alone with only his Growlithe for companionship. James dies at the end of his (obviously fictional) story, and promptly confuses himself when Misty reminds everyone that he's still alive.
- Windaria. The story is narrated by Alan after he's gone old and grey and so a number of things are clear from the start: 1. Alan survives the story. 2. Marie does not. 3. The world has recovered from the damage about to unfold. 4. Alan has done something so terrible that not even being lauded as the hero who rebuilt the world can ease his guilt. The how of the story is not even alluded to and no other character is mentioned so there are still plenty of surprises.
- This trope is rather apparent in both of the Dragon Ball Z TV specials:
- In Bardock: The Father of Goku, it's pretty clear that Freeza destroys Planet Vegeta and almost all its inhabitants at the end.
- In The History of Trunks, Gohan dies, Trunks becomes a Super Saiyajin and Bulma builds a time machine so that Trunks can return to the past. Notably, unlike the Bardock special, the Trunks special was originally in the manga and was expected and slightly altered.
- Resurrection 'F' takes place after the Buu Saga, but before the World Tournament where Goku meets Uub. So suffice it to say, it's not a matter of if the revived Freeza is going to be beaten by Goku, but rather a matter of when and how. Subverted when Frieza actually wins, if barely, and even kills Vegeta and destroys Earth before Whis rewinds time.
- On the subject of Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Super takes place between the end of the Buu saga and Z's Distant Finale, so Earth will stick around and none of the characters seen in that episode can die and stay dead.
- Night Raid 1931: Japan would eventually plunge into imperialistic militarism and ravage China, and the rest of the world would also descend to war eventually, despite whatever efforts the protagonists might attempt to do.
- Fate/Zero, as a prequel to Fate/stay night, is subject to this. Anyone who is familiar with the latter will know that the Grail is corrupted, and Kiritsugu will be forced to order Saber to destroy it, resulting in the fire. Kiritsugu saves Shirou by implanting Avalon in him and adopts him, and he will die from the Grail's curse a few years later, without ever seeing his daughter again. Kotomine will give in to his inclinations and become a villain. Kariya will fail to rescue Sakura, and Rider will be unable to convince Saber that her ideals are flawed. Tokiomi, Aoi, and Irisviel are all Doomed by Canon as well.
- From the original Saint Seiya, we already knew how few the survivors from the last Holy War were; anyone who read it knew what kind of fate awaited the sheer majority of the characters in Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, as well as a few pointers about how the Holy War would end.
- The PSP game of Puella Magi Madoka Magica (created by the same guy as Fate/Zero). It takes advantage of the previous multiple timelines witnessed by Homura, but doesn't deviate from the anime canon, so no, you can't even Earn Your Happy Ending here. "Dedication has no reward", indeed.
- Mysterious Girlfriend X: It's treated as a given that the main characters, Tsubaki and Urabe, will eventually be each other's first sexual experience (Urabe, who's mildly psychic and can experience others' feelings and transmit her own feelings to them through exchange of saliva, even says in the first chapter that an inner voice told her that Tsubaki would be her first sexual partner). So far, though, the manga's still ongoing (80 chapters thus far) and they haven't even had their First Kiss yet, but there's no doubt between either of them (or to the reader) that greater levels of intimacy will eventually take place between them; Tsubaki even muses at one point that his "mysterious girlfriend" may eventually become his "mysterious wife." Actually subverted. In the last chapter they run away together and she tells him they will go all the way in the morning. Cut to a few years later where it shows he never left the virgin club, implying she died during the night.
- ∀ Gundam applies this retroactively to just about every Gundam continuity. No matter what happens or how successful the protagonists are, the peace/order/victory they've achieved is at best bittersweet and fleeting. At worst, it's all for nothing due to the Moonlight Butterfly.
- Something similar can be said for Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, given that it takes place before F91 and Victory. This has the effect of making Unicorn's aesop about the hope for the future and human possibility ring rather hollow, given that the peace attained at the end lasts a mere twenty years.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann starts off with a 2-minute scene showing how the creators wanted the show to end (Simon and the Dai-Gurren-Dan waging war on all other Spiral-races to protect the universe), but they threw the script away (and didn't consider re-watching the first episode) and ended up subverting it.
- Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden is a prequel to Fushigi Yuugi, where the fate of Genbu's priestess was revealed. There's no way Takiko will survive the story to the end.
- In Inazuma Eleven, most of the time the soccer matches and battles resolve around either one of two things: it's a match in a soccer tournament, or it's a match for justice. Plus it's shown that they ALWAYS manage to win during once of these matches. This makes it a foregone conclusion that the protagonist team will manage to overcome their challenges and hardships. But then subverted in season 3 where they lose a match, and only manage to draw in another, during the Football Frontier International tournament. Although it was a match during the group stages, so it doesn't automatically disqualify them.
- Codename: Sailor V, technically. Minako's appearance in the Dark Kingdom arc of Sailor Moon clearly shows that she is going to regain her past life memories before joining the rest of the Senshi, and it's a pretty good guess that the Dark Agency will cease to exist as an organization. What makes it qualify for this trope is that, although Sailor V predates Sailor Moon and its main character was imported into the Sailor Moon continuity right away, the resolution of its own story was only published after Sailor Moon ended, tying the two plots together. It should be noted, however, that Sailor V was originally born as a standalone story, of which Sailor Moon could be considered a spinoff, so the mangaka likely wasn't drawing it with this trope in mind.
- Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, by beginning with Yotaro and then going back to tell the tale of the guy teaching him.
- Your Name shows from the first scene the protagonists appear in that Mitsuha will survive to adulthood; once the reveal hits, the question is "how"?
- Uma Musume loosely follows the real events of the 1998 and 1999 racing season. As such, anyone familiar with the racing careers of the real horses can predict certain critical events. Namely, that Silence Suzuka breaks a leg during the Fall Tenno Sho. However, Suzuka is Spared by the Adaptation and survives her injuries, unlike the real horse that had to be euthanized.
- My Hero Academia: The anime outright states in the opening narration that the protagonist will become the strongest hero. This isn't much of a spoiler, since the protagonist receives the most powerful "Quirk" in the first episode, but learning to use it proves to be a slow process; after numerous manga volumes, he's still nowhere near the predetermined number-one ranking. It does take some drama away from doctors warning him that he could ruin his body by overexerting himself, and any situation where his life seems to be in danger.
- The first chapter of Go-Toubun No Hanayome shows Fuutarou marrying one of the Nakano sisters. The drama comes from the fact that the sisters are quintuplets, and the bride shown in the first chapter can't be clearly identified as any of them, so the reader doesn't know who they are.
- While not at the very start, the m ain characters of Bokurano learn two volumes (two episodes in the anime) in that they're all either going to die or their entire planet will die if they fail their task. The drama is just seeing in what order they will die and if they fail.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow is trying to bring magic back to her world in Season 9. In the Season 8 crossover with Fray, Time Of Your Life, it is revealed that in the future there is only one slayer left and that Willow has regained her power and become the Big Bad after going dark again. And she gets killed by Buffy. That is, unless Whistler actually succeeds in changing the future.
- The Death of Superman got enough news coverage that CNN should have used spoiler warnings. Thus most people knew, at least from the beginning of the issue where it occurred, that the cover blurb was not just an example of Covers Always Lie. Even those living under rocks until the collected edition (or novelization) was published would generally have a good idea of what was going to happen, with titles like The Death of Superman, The Return of Superman, and The Death and Return of Superman.
- In Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America, Captain America dies. The tension comes more from the whodunnit angle and general Avengers infighting.
- In Captain America Reborn, Captain America comes Back from the Dead. Though not before some time-travel complications, as well as the Red Skull planning on usurping control of his body.
- This is why even the writers for Legion of Super-Heroes came to regret their first Flash Forward to the characters' adulthood — everyone now knew who was going to survive and who wasn't, ruining tension.
- Actual cover of a Deathstroke, The Terminator comic: "Not a hoax, Not a dream, it's the Death of Slade Wilson!!◊" It's not permanent This comes after a Moment of Awesome where said villain takes on and defeats The Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman in simple physical combat all at once. Only to get effortlessly taken down by Superman, whom Slade doesn't even think he has a chance against.
- The writer of The Mighty Thor (renamed Journey into Mystery) made sure to point out that Loki turning evil again IS NOT a foregone conclusion, since Thor destroyed the Ragnarok cycle which contained the Norn's prophecies that decreed the destinies of the Asgardians. Of course, the whole "Loki gets turned into a kid with only his childhood memories" helps. He's in the Antihero area.
- Noob, due to events happening in both the webseries and the novel being about 90% certain to occur in the comic also (the three media have a Broad Strokes relation to each other). Its storyline is late enough on that of the two other media for a lot of in-comic Foreshadowing to technically be a Call-Forward.
- The mini-series Hunger revolves around Rick Jones and the Silver Surfer desperately trying to stop Galactus before he can begin his attack on the Ultimate Marvel version of Earth. Since Marvel has announced their next Crisis Crossover, Cataclysm (in which Galactus arrives on Earth and battles a bevy of Ultimate Marvel heroes), the readers are now keenly aware that Rick and the Surfer are going to fail in their objective.
- In every Diabolik story we know Diabolik will try a next-to-impossible heist and usually succeed, or he or Eva will get arrested and break out of jail in the nick of time, and that whatever happens a recurring character that survived his second appearance won't get killed off, especially if it's one of the big four of the recurring characters (Gustavo Garian, Altea, Bettina and Saverio Hardy). Except the authors killed off Gustavo...
- The sad fact is, a lot of big pieces of comic news get spoiled ahead of time to hype up new books. We know Thor is going to become a woman before it actually happens. We knew that Trinity War would end with the Crime Syndicate showing up so Forever Evil could happen. Often the premise of an upcoming big name project spoils the end of a currently running one.
- Subverted in the second series of Runaways, which starts off with the team getting a visit from the future version of Gert, who became an Avenger but was killed by a supervillain. Throughout the series, one might assume that, even as it's hinted that one of the Runaways will die before the end, it won't be her, because she grows up to lead the Avengers. She dies about three-quarters of the way through the series.
- Judge Dredd: Judge Death's Origins Issue opens with the mangled body of his erstwhile interviewer being found by the Judges after the monster dumped it in a chem pit. We then flash back to show the interviewer's long meeting with Death before he killed him.
- Ultimate Spider-Man: Of course the big and ugly spider would bite Peter Parker, and uncle Ben would be killed by a thief. It may be a retelling, but those things are a very strong part of the Spider-Man mythos to be significantly changed.
- All prequel-style fan works struggle with this. For example, in Maurauder-era Harry Potter fics, everyone already knows that Lily and James will end up together and so will Frank and Alice, Snape will join the Death Eaters, Peter will betray his friends, Sirius will end up in prison and a lot of people will die...
- A Crown of Stars: The author informed upfront that this story was a Fix Fic; and in the first chapter Shinji and Asuka meet their future selves, so that the reader knows that whatever else happens in the history, Shinji and Asuka will get over their traumas at least partially, get together, get married and Shinji will get Asuka pregnant. The interesting part is HOW they get to that point despite being so messed-up when the fic begins.
- This comes into play when Asuka is arguing with her inner side in chapter 59. Her turmoil mocks her that Shinji could be dead the next day. She starts arguing... and then she realizes she knows they will not die tomorrow. She knows where they will be six months from now. That knowledge helps her to defeat her doubts and fears.
- The Child of Love: The creator wrote an epilogue featuring a seven-years-old Teri and a one-shot set in Teris teen years, so that whoever reads the unfinished sequel already knows NERV wins the Angel War, Third Impact does not happen, and Shinji, Asuka, Teri, her brother, Rei, Misato and Kaji survive.
- Ghosts of Evangelion:
- Due to this story's non-linear narrative, this happens a lot.
- The first chapter happens in 2020. Shinji and Asuka are alive and together. In a later chapter, set in 2018, Asuka runs away, and Shinji and Misato are worried because she is on the brink of committing suicide.
- In a chapter Asuka tells she does not want to have children. That chapter was written after another one where she has just given birth.
- I Did Not Want To Die
- The Council Era is a Mass Effect fanfic centered on the Rachni Wars (in the first half, the 83 CE arc) and the Krogan Rebellion for both that and the 783 CE arc. In the first half, three species that don't exist in the video games are introduced. All three are, naturally, extinct by the end of the story. Other examples include: the krogan will be used to reduce the threat of the Rachni by the end of the first half (as stated in canon); the first half covers the build-up to the Krogan Rebellion, said rebellion will end with the genophage (a fertility plague that is killing off the Krogan in the games) being released (again, as stated in canon). These are bound to happen when you're writing a fic set in the past and intend to stick to canon. It doesn't lessen the drama of the storyline, though.
- Naruto's The Girl From Whirlpool is about how Minato and Kushina, who are Naruto's parents, meet and eventually fall in love.
- Interestingly for a fanfic, Past Sins derives its foregone conclusion not from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic canon, but from its cover art. Every last scene depicted happens...
- From Fallout: Equestria - Pink Eyes, the little filly Puppysmiles just wants to find her mom. The only problem is the world ended and due to her ghoulification, it's been centuries since her mother could have plausibly been alive.
- We are aware from the get-go that the instance of SBURB played in Guidestuck is doomed to fail, and that the characters will all die.
- From the Robotech fanfic Valkyrie Nights, which is a prequel fanfic to the Macross saga, we know that Roy Fokker survives the events of the story and is cleared of murder charges.
- In the WWE fanfic One More Time, Eddie Guerrero and Molly Holly go on a dessert date. They talk about Eddie's recent health and that maybe he should see a doctor. As the story takes place the night before Eddie died, we all know it doesn't end well.
- In Who Decides, the prequel to Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Ryusei is requesting for help in trying to save Jiro. Anyone who watched Fourze knows that Ryusei will make a Deal with the Devil with the Aries Zodiarts and end up killing Gentaro, thus setting the entire story in motion.
- A meta example in Story of the Century: fans of the manga series that the fanfic is based on know off the bat that Light and Misa are Kira and the Second Kira; the drama and suspense come from when and how they are found out.
- Anyone familiar with the canon story of the Sufferer in Homestuck already knows how Before I Sleep is going to end (not that that makes it any less heartbreaking when it happens).
- Historically-themed fanfic for Axis Powers Hetalia also fall to this, for good or for ill.
- If the title of Fragile Thread didn't tip you off, then it's summary will, as it concerns Mako committing suicide.
- The Second Try did this when Asuka supposedly died in the future giving birth to Aki even though she's alive in the present.
- The synopsis for A Cold Calculus tells us that Euphemia emerges from the story as Empress of Britannia. Also, the opening snippets (framed as a history book) gives the outcome of few story elements such as Viletta's becoming a Knight of the Round and Nina's research eventually leading to nuclear weapons development.
- To anyone familiar with Touhou canon will know that Yukari's invasion of the moon in Hifuu Club Activity Record ~The Sealed Esoteric History~ will end in a complete failure due to it's nature as a prequel fic.
- As a side effect of utilizing the In Medias Res trope, the entire new generation of the Digidestined from Digimon 02 The Story We Never Told will survive through the very end of the story with the bulk of the story explaining How We Got Here.
- The Very Secret Diary takes place during Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and shows the off-screen "friendship" Ginny had with Tom Riddle. If you've read the book, you know Tom will eventually possess Ginny and use her to start attacking students, before taking her into the Chamber of Secrets. The fic details how they got there, and it is brutal. It's very well-written and comes highly recommended, but it really is like watching a train wreck.
- All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird is an Alternate Universe Fic which (mostly) follows the plot of Dragon Age: Inquisition. It's pretty much confirmed by the premise that the co-Inquisitors will succeed in their long-term goal of defeating the Elder One. What's not clear is why there are two Inquisitors instead of just one, and what effect that will have on the way the story unfolds.
- Chrysalis Visits The Hague: In the aptly-named chapter, Estermann Office Observation Transcript Excerpt from Tuesday, November 22, 2015, lawyer Alexander Estermann, judge Colm Mullan and Lyra Heartstrings swear each other to secrecy over the revelation of Lyra's true identity, as well Colm's and Estermann's secret meetings. However, considering the format of the chapter itself (a surveillance transcript penned by some mysterious third party that had been listening in on the conversation), this secrecy evidently does not last very long.
- Pokémon Story: Sinnoh Journey: Obviously, Dawn has her own canon story where she gains five ribbons. Her loss against Aaron is predetermined from the start. That said, the enjoyment comes in the form of character interactions and deeper emotional developments that make it all worth a read.
- On the flip side, Aaron being pitted against May in the Wallace Cup ensures he won't be bending canon and winning in that tournament. Other than his two off-screen losses to Zoey, it's the only time in the short story he's shown losing. And rather handily at that.
- Similarly, although this story lets Ash go to the Sinnoh League finals (as opposed to the semifinals), he isn't supposed to win. Naturally, Aaron takes that honor from him.
- Ian and Aaron only make it as far as the quarterfinals of the Sinnoh Grand Festival, having battled Nando and Zoey respectively. Although, their matches were off-screen.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog, Maria was a dying Ill Girl who ended up shot in an incident. In the oneshot Snow Angel, Shadow and Maria both escape and make it down to Earth... However, being on Earth doesn't magically cure Maria's NIDS. Maria ends up using the last of her medicine within a few weeks and she still dies, just not as soon or as violently as she did in canon.
- The Stalking Zuko Series is a retelling of Avatar: The Last Airbender that ultimately pairs up Katara with Zuko, rather than with Aang. Apart from that change, which is advertised up front, as well as numerous additional scenes, all other events and outcomes are the same as canon, so you know that the heroes will win the war against the Fire Nation and help restore balance to the world.
- In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku Midoriya still says that he becomes the world's greatest Hero. The twist is that he's not the holder of One For All nor does he take up Deku as his Hero Name. He's doing it as the Kryptonian named Superman. Similarly, the author has stated upfront that Mirio Togata is destined to inherit One For All, but has not disclosed how it will happen or when this will take place.
- The prologue of The Tyrant And The Hero shows that Heinrich and Black Alice become a hero and the Monster Lord, respectively, and that they're in love. The rest of the story is about how they get here.
- To Hell and Back (Arrowverse): As per canon, Sam will become Reign one day. The author does not deny it, and it even factored in her decision to not make Kara and Sam a couple.
- The Lunar Rebellion: As a prequel to The Life and Times of a Winning Pony, and moreover as an in-universe memoir by Shadow Kicker, it is clear from the first chapter that Shadow and Midnight will survive the war, that the Kickers will remain loyal to the crown, that the royalists will defeat the rebels, and that the clans of Pegasopolis (except the Kickers) will be disbanded. The story is about how those things happened, and the tension comes from not knowing the fates of other characters.
- Iron Maiden's seriously long piece "Empire of the Clouds" drops the name of the airship it's about in less than a minute after the vocals start: the R101. The music in the beginning is swelling and optimistic. Those familiar with the history of aviation (or have seen the single's cover) know that it's not going to end well.
- Many Marxist thinkers (including the leaders of the Russian Revolution) believe in a kind of historical determinism which posits an inevitable progression from feudalism to capitalism to socialism to communism. Interestingly enough, Karl Marx himself never supported this view of history, any more than he supported genocidal, totalitarian dictatorships. Rather, he supported historical materialism which says everything is caused by material factors (most notably with your economic system in his case) but this needn't be deterministic.
- Calvinism offers us theistic determinism, saying God has predestined the fate of all human beings (differing on details such as whether this took place before or after the Fall of Man). Some forms of Hinduism do also.
- By the beginning of The Adventure Zone: Balance's Stolen Century arc, the audience already knows that the crew is going to create the Grand Relics, Lucretia is going to erase everyone else's memories, and Lup and Barry are going to die.
- A variation occurs in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The narrator, noting that stress is a growing problem in the world, chooses not to unduly stress the readers by giving away the ending of a suspenseful sequence: The planet they are above is Magrathea, and the nuclear missiles approaching the ship will cause no damage, save for a nasty bruise to the forearm. To order to preserve some sense of suspense, though, he does not say whose forearm — until the closing credits of the episode. It was Arthur.
- When Ford says that's he's not going to watch the football match later the bartender assumes that it's because Ford considers it a forgone conclusion that Arsenal will lose, although it's actually because Ford knows that the Earth will be destroyed before the match.
- Bleak Expectations: Since the framing device is a character recounting his past activities to a reporter, he obviously isn't going to die no matter how ludicrous the situation gets (and it does get plenty ludicrous). That doesn't stop his wife and best friend temporarily dying during those situations though.
- The Bible:
- In Norse Mythology almost all of the gods are fated to get killed (in very specific ways) at Ragnarok, along with most of humanity, trolls, giants, monsters and assorted other species.
- Classical Mythology has a strong concept of fate, as evidenced in the story of Oedipus.
- In Islam, when the final judgment takes place, each of the dead will be judged one last time but have little chance to defend themselves. This isn't out of malice—it's because everything is already recorded and therefore anything they would say to defend or justify themselves is already known and they're quickly shuffled off to their respective places in the afterlife.
- The story of Oedipus Rex was so well-known via oral tradition that even Sophocles' target audience likely knew the outcome of Oedipus the King before watching it.
- William Shakespeare invented the phrase, used in Othello, although he meant it more literally: the evidence of Cassio's dream "denoted a foregone conclusion" of his sleeping with Desdemona, "foregone" meaning "having previously happened".
- Also, here's a pattern: if you're in a Shakespearean tragedy, and your name is in the title, you're screwed. If your name is the title, doubly so.
- Perhaps the most famous example is Romeo and Juliet. William Shakespeare says in the prologue that Romeo and Juliet are going to die.
- Although inverted with King Lear. The legend at that time had Cordelia and Lear survive and Lear restored to the throne. Shakespeare surprised audiences by turning it into a tragedy.
- The histories all fall into this trope as well, given that they're all Based on a True Story. There's even a meta-example in the epilogue of Henry V, in which the Chorus pretty much tells the audience the outcome of the next three plays in the chronology, Henry VI, Parts I, II and III.
"Henry VI, in infant bands crowned King
Of France and England did this king succeed
Whose state so many had the managing
That they lost France and made his England bleed."
- Including fictional history, as is the case with Steven Brust's Khaavren Romances saga, a prequel series presented as a written Docudrama of a major Backstory event in the world of Dragaera.
- Death of a Salesman. The main character's a salesman. Three guesses what happens to him.
- In addition to being a Perspective Flip External Retcon of The Wizard of Oz, the play version of Wicked opens with everyone celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch of the West, and the story takes place in a flashback. However, Elphaba lives, subverting the trope.
- Lampshaded by Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, during "Go, Go, Go Joseph":
Don't give up, Joseph, fight till you drop
We've read the book, and you come out on top.
- The musical Miss Saigon reveals Chris will get out of Vietnam while Kim (and the Engineer) will not towards the end of the first act. The second act shows how this happened.
- All Greek tragedies, being based on well-known myths, were like that. It was considered normal to the point that, when New Comedy authors started imitating some aspects of tragedy while still telling stories they made up themselves, they created the Prologue, which was already pretty much what it is in the Shakespeare example: one of the actors would address the public at the beginning and explain how everything was going to play out — they feared the spectators would get confused otherwise.
- Evita begins with a song about Eva's funeral.
- A small note of this is in the opening scene of the play An Inspector Calls. The rich family sat at dinner are discussing the amazing modern world they live in, including the new utterly unsinkable ship that's due to sail soon - The Titanic. It's a not-exactly subtle bit of symbolism - the family's own personal iceberg is, as the title says, about to call on them - and some productions have actually gone so far as to omit the line entirely, since the usual audience reaction is to laugh.
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern die.
- Les Misérables: Anyone who knows French history knows that the June Rebellion will fail and the barricade will fall.
- 1776: Congress will declare independence and America will win the Revolution. It's a sign of a well-done production when the audience completely forgets this and spends the entire play biting its collective nails.
- Titanic: It's a musical about the Titanic, one of the most famous ship wrecks ever.
- Elisabeth: The very first line of the musical makes it pretty clear that the titular character is going to die (and that everyone else in the play is dead).
Judge: But why Lucheni? Why did you kill the Empress Elisabeth?
- The folk opera Down in the Valley, the Greek Chorus's introduction includes the ending of the plot:
Come, all you people, I'll sing of Brack Weaver,
Who died on the gallows one morning in May,
He died for the love of sweet Jennie Parsons,
He died for the slaying of Thomas Bouché.
- Hamilton, as you can see from the name of the show, is about an American politician who is probably most famous for dying in a duel with a man who introduces himself in the opening number as "the damn fool who shot him."
- The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui: The scene curtain at the beginning is covered with headlines which give away most of the major plot turns, including that gangsters conquer the city of Cicero. Most of these you could already figure out if you're aware that the play is a Roman à Clef about the rise of Hitler, and the play makes absolutely sure you are.
- The Phantom of the Opera starts with auctioning things from the opera house. The scene shows a crashed down chandelier and in general a opera house that is badly in shape, proving that - in one way or another - things will go downhill. And then time rewinds as the stage becomes the glamorous opera it had been in the past. Also, the one character that is absolutely clear will survive in the end is Raoul.
- Literally the first line in The Last Five Years is "Jamie is over and Jamie is gone". Since the musical has two timelines with one going backwards, the entire musical may count since everything that happens to Jamie shows what later will happen to Cathy while everything that happens to Cathy shows what will happen to Jamie, ending with Jamie breaking up with her while she reaches the first date with which Jamie started the musical.
- The small-scale play Finding Human begins with a news report of the protagonist's execution and what his last words were. The story then moves back in time to show the character's final week of life, in which we get to see him open up about his past and the crime. The final scene mirrors the first, with the difference being that the audience now knows the truth about the protagonist and has the context to understand his cryptic last words.
- Fate/stay night: Saber will return to her timeline and die atop a hill with the corpses of her countrymen surrounding her. It's already been recorded in history, and anything that happens during the Holy Grail War cannot prevent that from happening on her own personal timeline. Somewhat subverted in that the point was never to prevent her from dying, but to let her live life to the fullest before her death.
- Rose Guns Days takes place in The '40s and tells the story of Rose Haibara and her club of ladies of the night turned mafia family, Primavera. In an Alternate History where Japan was destroyed by a disaster and repopulated by Chinese and American immigrants, she desperately tries to keep Japanese culture alive and prevent the Japanese people from disappearing. Before the story even begins, in 2012, we already know that she failed and that Primavera degenerated into a violent nationalistic group that has little to do with what its first Madam wanted it to be. Over the course of the story, several important elements are also unveiled in advance, like Wayne surviving and having children or Jeanne having taken over Primavera by defeating Rose.
- Hakuouki focuses on The Shinsengumi from their rise to prominence through the Boshin War. While the addition of supernatural elements to the story creates a degree of uncertainty, players who know anything about that period of history and the fates of the real-life Shinsengumi can tell from the beginning that it's not going to be pretty.
- Ace Attorney:
- Case 4 of Trials & Tribulations is a flashback to Mia's first case as a lawyer. As soon as you find out the prosecutor's identity (Edgeworth) it's meant to be clear that you can't win because Edgeworth never lost a case prior to meeting Phoenix in court. Although it was a subversion since neither lawyer won: the defendant commits suicide while testifying and the case is thrown out without a judgment. It's also made clear in the same game that Mia is going to lose the case, as shown by her thinking back to it in the first case of the game and reflecting on how badly it ended. Of course, this still led players to expect her to outright lose, instead of neither lawyer winning, so it's still a subversion.
- In Apollo Justice there's a flashback trial that you know will end badly, because you've already been informed that it's the one that caused Phoenix's disbarring.
- In Ace Attorney: Investigations, Edgeworth is shown at his first trial during a flashback case. It's not the one with Mia, so you know something's going to go horribly wrong; the suspect is killed at the beginning of the case and instead of prosecuting him, Edgeworth has to figure out what happened. And when he does expose the real killer, he doesn't get to prosecute her in court as she quickly goes on the run after being exposed. At the end of the case, present-day Edgeworth comments that his true first case would take place months later, and if you've played Trials and Tribulations, you already know what's going to go down...
- Investigations 2 features a flashback case where you get to play as Gregory... against von Karma. Anyone who's played the first game will know he maintained his perfect record until he went up against Phoenix, so it's clear Gregory won't be able to win. Not only that, this is the case where von Karma received his only penalty, so you know that Gregory is going to find out von Karma forged evidence and that won't end well for him... You also know you won't be able to catch the real killer in the flashback portion of the case. But they still managed to pull a few surprises though, such as Badd being involved in the case, von Karma only barely winning due to Loophole Abuse, the moral victor was firmly Gregory and, most significantly, the Chief Prosecutor at the time being involved in the forgery, and he only gave von Karma the penalty to cover his own tracks.
- Grisaia no Kajitsu has one for each character, each in their own routes. While this is mostly done well, some are...less so. Amane's in particular stands out due going on for well over half the length of her route before concluding for a result you already know.
- Girl Genius starts with a few. The poet is telling the story, so he will definitely survive everything that's going on.
- During the comic's run we get some short stories set in the future, which give us more. For example, from Ivo Sharktooth Private Jaeger we learn that Agatha and Van will survive, Agatha will free Mechanicsburg and rule there, and Agatha will ally herself with the Empire.
- In the Nailbat story in AntiBunny It's established early on that the protagonist will die in one year. As the other AntiBunny story Gritty City Stories takes place two years later, Nailbat's death is already mentioned there as a matter of fact.
- Concerned: The Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman. Emphasis on death. Most fans apparently never noticed that though.
- The Last Days of FOXHOUND: If you've played the game, you know how the main characters end up. At the beginning when it's all flanderizing the characters for humor, this doesn't register. At the end after a long bout of Cerebus Syndrome, it's pretty damn bleak. The panel with Sniper Wolf and Bertholt is exceptionally heartbreaking.
- Long Exposure has in it's very synopsis the fact that Jonas and Mitch will eventually fall in love with each other. The author herself releases sketches and quick comics about their life as a couple, including a drawing that shows them still together by their early 30s.
- The book "The Sharp End of the Stick" of Schlock Mercenary starts with several characters dressed in loincloths and wielding sharp sticks, rather than their usual military uniforms and plasma weapons, not to mention that Kevyn and Elf have become a couple. The rest of the story switches back and forth between telling the story in chronological order from that point and showing how the characters got there.
- Chess Piece takes place during The Roaring '20s — 1927 currently, to be exact. Although times are good, the Great Depression is just around the corner.
- Homestuck, all the time. Not only does the story run on Anachronic Order, but time travel and having visions of the future are regular occurrences, and twelve of the sixteen major characters with dialogue already know everything that's going to happen for a large portion of the story and regularly tell the four protagonists about it.
- The current "Tower of Babel" arc of S.S.D.D is essentially the backstory of one of the characters, and previous arcs make it clear that Tessa's squad destroys Arthur, but during the battle Julian is killed and Tessa is captured. Then she escapes with help from Tin-head, and sometime later wins Sticks from Julie Waterman in a card game.
- Spacetrawler: Nogg tells Mr. Zorilla that his daughter, Martina, has died. The rest of the comic is Nogg telling "the long and very detailed version" of how this came to pass.
- Kick The Football, Chuck uses Charlie Brown attempting to kick Lucy's ball as a metaphor for his fight with cancer after chemotherapy. We all know he never kicks it.
- 8-Bit Theater invokes this trope to set up a Brick Joke of incredible proportions.
- Played with a little bit earlier before that; Sarda believes that the outcome of his battle with the Light Warriors is a foregone conclusion, and that he literally cannot lose to them, since his present-day self grows up in a world that isn't terrorized by the "heroes". He does actually lose the fight... sort of... but the Light Warriors disband after the battle anyway.
- The "Sam" arc of General Protection Fault goes into Ki's past with Sam, her former fiancee, who had been alluded to in the past. While it is implied that they had a bad breakup, the arc reveals that he tried to rape her.
- Much Erfworld's "Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower)". The story is Wanda's loss of Goodminton, and her journey to be a caster in Faq. Anyone who's read the main story already knows that Faq falls through Wanda's actions.
- In-story, anything foretold by a Predictamancer. Prophecy Twist is possible, but less common than you'd think, and is a source of endless grief for the main characters.
- The Bleedman Comics Grim Tales from Down Below and Powerpuff Girls suffer from this. The former is set ~20 years after the latter, and Grim Tales has been explicit and horribly morbid about the future. So the long term end of the Powerpuff series (barring multiverses) is very much foregone.
- This conversation in The Word Weary could have just been avoided entirely with a little honesty.
- There is a multi-chapter flashback in Evil Plan which tells the origin story of Kinesis from Will's perspective. The entire time you get to know how much of a bright and happy spirit Will was, knowing the flashback has to end with his death by Stanley's hand.
- One of the main draws of Sire. The Binding is a mystical force which forces the lineage children to follow the destiny of their sire/dam. Dramatic Irony itself is the antagonist of the series and each character just has to work their hardest to avoid their foregone conclusions.
- Five Kids at Freddy's is a fancomic about the missing children incident during Five Nights at Freddy's 2. No matter what happens, the ending is not likely to be happy.
- Follower is a prequel to Messenger which takes place After the End. Things are shown to already be going downhill before the main plot even starts.
- Dragon Ball Multiverse:
- We all know Gogeta will make an appearance. We just don't know when.
- In-universe as a sort of handwave, Raichi from Universe 3 is competing to kill Saiyans, but none had joined the tournament by the time he did, since his was an earlier universe. This discrepancy is addressed by the Vargas who offered him a spot, mentioning that the Saiyans' warlike ways and powers mean they're sure to join from some universe.
- In Survival of the Fittest, when a character gets rolled and isn't saved by any of the other handlers within the time limit, you can be sure that their death is only just around the corner. The same fate falls upon inactive characters who don't get adopted.
- Half of seasons 9 and 10 of Red vs. Blue are prequel stuff, taking place several years before the beginning of season 1. Due to the events of the previous 8 seasons we know that most of the Freelancers we meet are going to go crazy, almost all are going to die (often at the hands of their former teammates), and those that survive will be irreversibly damaged by what they go through. We also know several key events that will occur, just not how or when they do.
- It's played up as suspenseful, and doesn't officially occur until halfway through the first season, but it was pretty obvious who's going to end up on team RWBY, given that teams are made of 4 people and 4 characters had their own trailers (and these 4 characters have names starting with R, W, B and Y).
- An odd one with Achievement Hunter. In Episode 68 of VS. had Ryan beat Michael, and would face Gavin next episode. However, next episode was Ryan vs. Ray, skipping Ryan vs. Gavin. So, the next episode had to show how this came to be.
- In the Legatum series, The Road to Hell... takes place twenty years before the events in The Green Wanderer. This automatically means, based on some of the characters' dialogue in The Green Wanderer, that King Chorn Torgash will eventually die, and the orcs will succeed in their rebellion and restore Kosslivo to a more inhabitable community.
- In The Salvation War, Satan himself orders the Grand Duke Abigor to lead an army of approximately four hundred thousand demons to Earth, to subjugate humanity. Unfortunately for them it's 21st-century Earth (the point of divergence being January 2008). Human technology has already made short work of several Kaiju-like demons, and Abigor's army is made up of demons only slightly bigger than humans, fighting with feudal technology and tactics. So forget the plan, Abigor's army itself does not survive the first battle with humans, and an overarching theme of the story is just how doomed the demons were the moment they entered Earth.
- It should be exceedingly obvious at this point that everyone that has anything to do with the Slender Man is going to die horribly. Averted, surprisingly, by Marble Hornets - Tim lives. So does Jessica. Jay and Alex and everyone else, however...
- In The Kindness of Devils, a good chunk of the shorter stories outside of the main chronological ones take place several years in the past. Since Hardestadt Delac is alive and well during Girls on Film, which takes place in the present, it's clear that Delac will survive whatever perilous situation he finds himself in. Whether or not his allies and/or loved ones survive varies.
- It could be argued that the various The Abridged Series of anime out there on the Internet (Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Hellsing Ultimate Abridged, etc.) can be this as they're all based on popular pre-existing works and while some Filler may be cut out and new jokes added, it's still the same plot as the original and all the major events of the original series have to occur.
- In SuperMarioLogan, every episode of Doofy the Dragon ends with the titular character killing himself, typically by gunshot, but other ways have happened. In the episode, "Bowser Junior's Broccoli Problem!", Junior notes that Joseph and Cody can't leave until they see how Doofy ends today. Joseph notes that he just always kills himself so there's no secret. The group are then bothered by a crocodile who is forced to explain the differences between a crocodile and an alligator after the three think he's an alligator. When they return to the television, Doofy is over and Junior notes he doesn't know how it ended. Joseph yells at him that "he just dies!".
- Discussed at length in Belated Media's series "What if the "Star Wars" Prequels Were Good?". In the three-part series, Michael argues that this trope was a major reason why the Star Wars prequel trilogy wasn't quite as strong as it could have been, as it lost a lot of its dramatic tension because most of the audience already knew how it would end; they knew that Anakin would become Darth Vader, that the Republic would become a despotic Empire, that the Jedi would fall, and that most of the major characters who weren't in the Original Trilogy would probably be dead by the end of Episode III. To remedy that, Michael's version ends before many of those major events happen (preferring to simply leave them implied in the Time Skip between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope) and it actually leaves Padme alive. By the time his version of Episode III ends, Palpatine is still just the corrupt Chancellor of the Republic, Anakin is just a murderous Dark Jedi, and the Jedi are heavily diminished but still very much alive.
- Any Christmas Special that's set in the ancient Middle East should be a dead give away to its subject matter. Even more obvious if the main character is a donkey.
- In Adventure Time, the climax of "Simon and Marcy" has Simon manage to use his abilities and still remain semi-sane, making it look like there might be hope for him to eventually gain control over the Crown... but this is a backstory episode, with the Framing Device, to say nothing of the rest of the show, making it painfully clear that he ultimately failed at this, losing his mind and having to abandon Marceline.
- Celebrity Deathmatch:
- Before a classic match between OJ Simpson and Joe Namath was shown, Nick started making OJ jokes. Johnny explained the fight took place before the ugliness in a simpler time.
- In the episode with the match between Kevin Spacey and Michael Caine, there was this parody of the opening line from American Beauty:
Spacey: My name is Kevin Spacey, and I'm 49 years old. This is my life. In less than half an hour, I'll be dead. I'll also be dressed like a giant hamburger.
This was sort of a subversion, because he won the match with Caine, but was then killed by Dave Thomas, who was in the show's previous match.
- The Phineas and Ferb episode "Candace Gets Busted". Two guesses as to what happens at the end.
- Samurai Jack: 50 years later, Jack is still in the future. During the flashback in the episode "XCVIII" revealing how he lost his sword, he finds a portal that will take him back in time and immediately jumps in... only for Aku to just reach in and pull him back out before destroying the portal, which according to him is the last one on the planet.
- The Simpsons:
Homer: [reading] Then I heard the sound that all Arctic explorers dread... the pitiless bark of the sea lion! [gasp] He'll be killed!
- Spoofed when Homer fears the worst when reading a wilderness survival story.
Marge: Homer, he obviously got out alive if he wrote the article.
Homer: Don't be so... [flips ahead] Oh, you're right.
- Likewise, any flashback episode that shows problems with Homer & Marge's relationship (i.e. "That 90's Show"). Since they're married in the present, it's pretty obvious they're going to be fine. "The Way We Was in Particular" acknowledges this:
Lisa: Everything I know tells me this story doesn't end with us sitting here and you telling it to us.
Bart: Get off the edge of your seat. They got married, had kids and bought a cheap TV, okay?
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
- Any time the Republic comes close to capturing or killing an important figure in the Separatist Alliance or if any of the Jedi appearing in the theatrical films are in peril. You already know that Nute Gunray is going to escape and that Obi-Wan somehow escapes the supposedly inescapable trap. The Clone Wars does avert this to a degree whenever they feature clone troopers since you never know which among them will get offed the next minute.
- As The Clone Wars is an interquel set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith and Kid-Appeal Character Ahsoka Tano, Anakin's Padawan, is nowhere to be found in the latter, something is going to happen to her eventually which removes her from being able to do anything to influence the events of the theatrical films and make Anakin, who is quite attached to her, not want to talk about her. It turns out that she is expelled from the Jedi Order after being framed for a crime she didn't commit. Though the truth eventually comes out and she is acquitted, she declines to return to the Jedi afterwards due to the Council's lack of trust in her.
- While The Clone Wars obviously cannot touch any named Jedi that appear in or after Revenge of the Sith, they do manage to off some important characters. Since The Clone Wars is part of the new Star Wars Expanded Universe, these deaths are final. This becomes quite shocking in "The Wrong Jedi", in which Barriss Offee is arrested as a terrorist. She was supposed to die by her master's side during Order 66, which was ultimately cut from the movie but appeared in a comic.
- The Order 66 arc revolves around ARC trooper Fives investigating Order 66 after it is triggered prematurely in his friend Tup by accident. Since the order is successfully executed in Revenge of the Sith, we know he's going to fail to expose it. Indeed, the story ends with Fives being shot dead, the Jedi believing him to have gone insane and dismissing his claims, and all of the evidence being quietly swept under the rug by Palpatine, Dooku and the Kaminoans.
- A number of these occur with the Domino Squad of clone troopers, due to the way the episodes focusing on them aired. Their first appearance is on Rishi Base, where all but 2 of them bite it. Given that they are full on clone troopers (albeit rookie ones), this means that in their origin episode (where they have to pass their examination and is an episode that aired a few season after the first one), we will know they will overcome their problems and that Hevy won't actually abandon the squad. The show itself realizes this, as the episode immediately following it is one where Echo and Fives (the last two survivors of Domino squad) returning to Kamino to defend it against Grievous and greeting clone 99 (who had formed a bond with Hevy, who died during the Rishi base incident).
- Star Wars Rebels: "Secret Cargo" is about the Ghost crew having to deliver Senator Mon Mothma, who's recently become a fugitive after publicly denouncing the Emperor, to her destination after a routine refueling mission goes wrong. Despite the tension of the Imperials chasing them, we know the heroes will succeed, because Mothma appears in Rogue One and Return of the Jedi as the leader of the Rebellion. She will even live past the Empire's fall.
- Star Wars Resistance: The show zig-zags the trope. It starts roughly six months before The Force Awakens, and thus we know that during the first season, the First Order will not be confronted, and BB-8 won't stick around for its entirety. However, around the season 1 finale and season 2 premiere, the show will catch up to the events of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, so what happens afterward is up in the air. Episode IX will come out during season 2's mid-season break, but until then, things are wide open.
- This is definitely the case for the fate of main character Kazuda's home planet, Hosnian Prime. Hosnian Prime is destroyed by Starkiller Base during the events of The Force Awakens, so time will only tell how Kaz will react to that once the series catches up to the films.
- For Transformers Prime, everyone is waiting for Optimus Prime to die and come back to life, just to get it over with.
- There's a twist for the season 1 finale. Since a dead character can't come back in this series, they killed Prime metaphorically. Unleashing the Matrix on Unicron took away all of his memories of being Optimus Prime. He is now Orion Pax, and has joined the Decepticons via Megatron taking advantage of his current state. The Autobots eventually went back to Cybertron to reload the Matrix, giving Optimus his memories back.
- Come the end of season 2, Prime was in the base when the 'Cons blew it up, and his arm can be seen amongst the wreckage. He might be dead this time, but it's highly doubtful.
- Played completely straight in that Prime did die and come back to life in season 3, although subverted in that he was ready to pass the mantle on, just as the original Prime did in the movie. Ultra Magnus even shows up to take command of the Autobots in their darkest hour. Smokescreen's Screw Destiny move, however, ensured that Prime's habit of cheating death will live on.
- Played straight by the sequence of events spanning the Predacons Rising finale movie and the beginning of its successor, Transformers: Robots in Disguise. In Predacons Rising, Optimus becomes one with the AllSpark in order to defeat Unicron. In Robots in Disguise, it is revealed that he was plucked out of the AllSpark and sent to the Realm of the Primes, setting the stage for his return as co-leader of the Bee Team.