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Forgotten Framing Device

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The story is introduced via some kind of Framing Device, but when the story is over, the credits roll and the framing device isn't there to close things.

Related to Offscreen Inertia, as it makes it seem like the framing device is forever stuck telling the story. Compare Schrödinger's Butterfly. Contrast Narrator All Along, where it's a plot twist that there is a Framing Device.


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    Comic Books 
  • In the Trollhunters spinoff graphic novel, Trollhunters: The Secret History of Trollkind, the beginning of the story has Blinky trying to reassure Jim that Kanjigar had shortcomings just as he did. The graphic novel ends with Trollmarket being established and the reveal that Bulgar and Strickler are also in America, but the Framing Device is left ignored in the end.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Disney's Aladdin, the story opens with a merchant telling the viewer the story of the lamp. The movie ends with the Genie shouting "Made you look!" to the audience and the credits roll. It was originally planned for the movie to return to the merchant at the end, and reveal he was actually Genie in disguise, but this was cut for pacing reasons. The merchant eventually does show up again, however — at the end of the Direct to Video movie Aladdin and the King of Thieves, which closes out the spin-off TV series and ends the franchise.
  • In Dino Time, the main character breaks the fourth wall when providing narration at the beginning of the movie, but after the third time, about 20 minutes in, he never does it again.
  • Pokémon movies tend to start with narration that helps explain the nature of the Pokémon world for any newcomers, before introducing Ash Ketchum, Pikachu, and the companions-of-the-season and his goals to become a Pokémon Master (some movies just cut straight to Ash after about 10 seconds of explaining the nature of the world). Unlike episodes of the show, the narrator doesn't come back at the end. Some of the movies, strangely enough, place the "Welcome to the world of Pokémon" narration at the end of the film.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Big Trouble in Little China starts with one of its characters being interrogated by the police. He begins telling his story, which kicks off the action, but there's nothing at the end to explain how the cops got involved or why the character was detained for questioning. This scene came about from Executive Meddling and was not something originally in the script or first cuts of the film, but added later.
  • In The Quest, the film starts with one framing device and ends with a completely different one. In the opening, the older main character reminisciences about the tournament he took part in, and in the ending, the closing of the story is presented literally with a book being closed.
  • The Saragossa Manuscript ends without returning to the primary level of the Nested Story, the one where the two opposing soldiers discovered and read the manuscript during a battle.
  • In Singin' in the Rain the movie-within-a-movie The Dancing Cavalier is supposed to be a giant Dream Sequence for an ordinary Broadway dancer who got hit with a sandbag backstage. And yet we are explicitly shown the end of the movie as still being inside the world of the dream sequence. Didn't the guy ever wake up?
  • In I Remember Mama, we see Katrin in the opening scene flashing back to the events of the story. A couple of times during the narration are we returning back to present day but the story ends without a final nod to the Framing Device.
  • Titus, an expressionistic film adaptation of Titus Andronicus, opens with a modern-age little boy playing violently with toy soldiers and other military toys. Suddenly a Roman soldier bursts into the room and drags him away, and the boy then becomes Young Lucius in the story. This is never called back to, although the final shot may imply an emotional resolution to it.
  • Bride of Frankenstein starts with Mary Shelley narrating the story to her husband and friends, an epilogue was filmed but cut from the movie.
  • The framing device of the Found Footage Film Phoenix Forgotten is the sister of a woman who disappeared investigating the UFO phenomenon known as the "Phoenix Lights" interviewing several people who last saw her and her friends, but then the sister finds the tape with the recording the group's final moments before they were all abducted by aliens and once she presses "play", the film becomes your regular "OMG aliens are really real, run-run-run, aaaaggggghhhh!" fare and doesn't returns to her at all.

  • William Hope Hodgson's novel The Night Land. The book starts with a 17th century gentleman mourning the death of his beloved in childbirth. He has a vision of a distant future where their souls will be reunited, and sees that world through the eyes of his future incarnation. The end of the novel doesn't mention anything about this.
  • The Worm Ouroboros begins with a man from Earth who dreams his way to Mercury, where the bulk of the novel takes place. No sooner does this dream-traveler get a peek at the royal court of Demonland than the author forgets all about him, focusing on the adventures and intrigues of its nobles.
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is narrated in the first person by the protagonist. To start with there are several references to the fact that she's keeping a journal, such as one section ending with her saying that she has to stop writing now because she has a visitor. These fade out about halfway through, and by the end she's narrating events as they happen. (Events which clearly do not involve her stopping to write anything down.)
  • Dark Harbors by J.S. Dark: At the beginning, protagonist Jack Cross stands up at an Alcoholics Anonymous-like meeting and starts narrating his last voyage in first person to this captive audience. About two-thirds of the way in, there are suddenly third-party chapters revealing the thoughts and actions of characters Jack hasn't met yet and did not have any opportunity to find out about during the timeline of the story. At the end, the story not only fails to return to the meeting, but leaves it unclear if Jack is still alive and/or able to communicate.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The pilot episode of Dad's Army started in the 1960s with Captain Mainwaring addressing a Rotary Club dinner and reminiscing about his time in the Home Guard, before flashing back to the story of the founding of the platoon. This was never referred to again in the remainder of the series. Mainly because the writers never wanted a framing device in the first place, but for the first episode the network insisted.
  • Quantum Leap spent its entire run utilizing a Narrating the Present framing device, as if we're seeing Sam Beckett's memoirs acted out. But in the final episode it's revealed that he "never returned home." So how did he narrate all that time?

  • Any Number Can Die opens with a young couple visiting the now abandoned house years after the story's events. The man begins talking about the murders that took place leading to the main story... and that's it. The scene is less than two minutes long, adds nothing to the story, and is never returned to.
  • Starlight Express begins with the reveal that "Control" is a little boy playing with his toy trains (which are the characters in the show), but his mother tells him to go to bed. Control then starts whispering as he introduces the trains for the first musical number, as if hiding that he's not asleep yet from his mother. Once Greaseball comes in, he's no longer whispering, and although Control gets more lines including being the commentator of the races, that he's a kid playing with toy trains is never brought up again.
  • The Green Pastures has a black preacher teaching Sunday school to the children of his congregation. When asked about Heaven, he imagines its like a Sunday fish fry. The rest of the play is a series of Old Testament vignettes set in 1920s Louisiana with an all-black cast. The framing device pops up a couple of more times but is forgotten in the latter part of the play and does not appear at the end.
  • The Phantom of the Opera opens with an elderly Raoul attending an auction of the opera house's items which segues into main story when they show the chandelier. Raoul's lines imply that Christine has died but the play ends with her still alive and never returns to the framing story. (The film version does but it's a silent scene adding no new elements.)
  • The Taming of the Shrew. Christopher Sly, a drunk, is found passed out on the street by a Lord who decides to play an elaborate ruse on Sly, making Sly think he's a Lord who has only been dreaming that he's a drunkard. The Lord's attendants go along with the gag. The majority of Shrew is a play put on for Lord!Sly by a group of players. After a couple of interludes showing Sly's reactions to the play, it's dropped.
  • Some versions of Grease start with the characters as adults at their Class Reunion before going into a flashback of them as teenagers and the reunion never appears again.

    Video Games 
  • Brütal Legend opens with Jack Black leading the viewer into a record shop and showing him the Brutal Legend record, which turns into the game menu. You can beat the game, but you'll never see that record shop again.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes short "A Hare Grows In Manhattan" starts with Bugs Bunny giving an interview about his youth growing up in Manhattan. But when the story, which mostly involves Bugs brawling with a gang of bulldogs, finally ends, the cartoon ends without referring back to the interview.
  • Family Guy: "Viewer Mail #2" starts with Brian and Stewie out of character talking to the camera about the mail they've received, and the first short shown is in response to a letter asking about the origin of the show. The framing device is dropped after that, showing two other unrelated shorts. This is in contrast to "Viewer Mail #1" where Brian & Stewie introduce each short, saying they were based on viewer suggestions.
  • In The Simpsons:
    • The first four Treehouse of Horror episodes utilize a framing device (with the first one taking place in an actual treehouse), but the third (the Simpsons throwing a Halloween party) and fourth (Bart hosting a Night Gallery) episodes end without concluding their own frame stories. The fact that the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes originally used a framing device at all has also been forgotten.
    • In season 17, "The Wettest Stories Ever Told", while the Simpsons are waiting for their meals at the Frying Dutchman, a seafood restaurant, Marge, Bart, and Homer each tell a story with a nautical theme. The episode ends at the end of Homer's story and we don't see the Simpsons at the conclusion of the story.
    • Season 19's "Love, Springfieldian Style" has Homer and Marge getting stuck on a "Tunnel of Love" type ride on Valentine's Day, and Homer tells Marge a story to pass the time. The kids join them after, and Marge and Bart also tell stories, but Bart's story goes straight to the credits and we don't see what happened with the ride.
  • The Shimmer and Shine special "The First Wish" is an Origins Episode which explains how Leah won her genie bottle pendant at a carnival and Shimmer and Shine became her genies. The episode features a Framing Device where Shimmer and Shine recall the episode in flashback while looking at a scrapbook of their adventures with Leah and upon coming across a photo of their first time together; said framing device is never seen again after the main story begins, nor is it acknowledged.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has the SpongeBob's Runaway Roadtrip episodes, also known as the vacation miniseries. Each episode begins with the same framing device of a character showing pictures of a vacation they were on, leading to a Whole Episode Flashback. However, the framing device for each episode is not revisited at the end, nor are they acknowledged in the other episodes.
    • The episode "Swamp Mates" does the same trick with SpongeBob introducing the episode as a story; said Framing Device was not seen again in the end.
  • The Teen Titans Go! episode "Video Game References" starts with the Titans entering simulations to test their skills, but the episode ends as soon as Robin's simulation ends.
  • Justified in Bojack Horseman season 4 episode 9. The episode starts with Princess Carolyn's great great great grand-daughter Ruthie telling her class about her famous ancestor. As the story goes darker and darker (she has a miscarriage, learns her assistant plotted to stab her in the back and that a precious family heirloom is fake, and breaks up with her boyfriend) Ruthie assures that it has a Happy Ending. At the end Princess Carolyn tells Bojack that she imagines her hypothetical descendant telling stories about her when she feels down to convince herself that everything is going to be fine, even though its completely fake.
  • An I Am Weasel episode has an unusual and likely intentional case of this trope: the episode begins with the fictional Airplane Channel showing a pseudo-documentary about the Wright Brothers. When the characters celebrate at the end of the story with a root beer float, the TV channel has somehow turned into the Root Beer Float Channel. That is, the episode begins with one framing device and ends with a slightly different framing device.
  • A Dora the Explorer episode started with Dora telling the audience about how she first met Backpack, with the episode continuing into her flashback story but never leaving it.
    • The special "Dora's Dance to the Rescue" does the same thing. The episode is just a story told by Dora, but the rest of the episode is told through the flashback and never returns to the real world.


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