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Hilarious in Flashback

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A flashback occurs where the character mentions something that is only funny due to the irony of how it conflicts with their present character. For example, Alice is an expert chess player and Bob is always looking for work. A flashback has Alice telling Bob she's considering taking up chess but doubts it's her game, and Bob expresses optimism over being able to find a new job quickly.

Compare Hilarious in Hindsight, which is the non-in universe version of this Trope, and Flashback Twist, where past events are contrasted with a character's present-day statements.

See also Irony, Futureshadowing, Description Cut, It Will Never Catch On.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • Yu-Gi-Oh!, Grandpa Muto makes a vow in a flashback that if he ever loses a game, he'll give up adventuring, open a game shop and wear overalls for the rest of his life.

     Fan Works 

  • Bakery "Enemies": A flashback shows Cat Noir telling Ladybug he intends to become a baker so he can bake a cake that's as good as the one she gave him and she says he'll likely forget about it in one week. As Marinette would know had she learned Cat Noir's secret identity, he didn't.

     Live-Action TV  

  • In "Bobby Begins Again" from 9-1-1, Bobby, Hen and Tommy were discussing and showing off scars they received while on duty. Chimney then remarks how he was scar free and was going to keep it that way.

  • Frasier, a flashback shows Martin has a pet goldfish named Eddie. His partner tells him to consider a "real" pet like a dog, but Martin says he isn't a dog person.
  • The Big Bang Theory, when Leonard moves in Sheldon puts in the roommate agreement that they will set aside time to watch Firefly, "we may as well get it out of the way, it's going to be on for years".
  • A flashback episode of Friends has the main characters meeting up in a bar, and being told it's getting demolished and replaced with a coffee house, to which Chandler remarks "Where are we going to hang out now?" For those who don't know, the six hanging out at the coffee house has been pretty much a Once an Episode thing for the whole show.
    • In the same episode, Ross expresses optimism that his wife Carol's new friendship with a woman named Susan will improve their marriage. In the present, Carol has realized she is a lesbian and is now married to Susan.
    • Also, the episode had Monica meeting recently-engaged Rachel for the first time in years. After Rachel leaves...
      Monica: Ten bucks says I never see that woman again in my life.
  • A couple of these happen in Everybody Loves Raymond. There was one that had Marie not wanting to meddle in Robert's life and Debra thinking it's not meddling as long as it's out of love. Another has Robert saying he found the love of his life Joanne who he later divorce. But the biggest would be a flashback of a pregnant Debra wanting to move to the house thats next door to Marie and Frank, thinking it be perfect since they could see them all the time.
  • Mythbusters
    • One episode had Adam give his two cents on what would be the respective odds of each outcome before a test—specifically, 70% chance of the test failing and not allowing a retest due to damage, 20% chance of the test failing yet allowing a retest, and 10% chance of the test succeeding. Later on, when option B happens, he tries to claim he gave it a 30% chance of happening, then a 40%. Both claims were countered by a flashback to his original claim, leading him to quip "I Reject Your Reality, and substitute my own!"
    • Another episode showed Adam and Jamie trying to be the first to find a needle in a haystack. At the beginning, Adam predicts that in a few hours, Jamie will still be searching while he'll "be kicking back, sipping mimosas in the shade." When he's unsuccessful a few hours in, he predicts this will happen right before it does.
  • Tetangga Masa Gitu: In the flashback to Adi proposing to Angel ten years ago, Adi promises that he will be rich in ten years. In the present, he is unemployed and has been relying on Angel's income for years.
  • The Seinfeld episode "The Betrayal" ends with a flashback to Jerry moving into the building and meeting Kramer eleven years earlier. Jerry invites him in for a bite to eat, to which Kramer refuses, fearful of imposing. Jerry promptly brings nine seasons' worth of Drop-In Character antics down on his own head by reassuring him with the Exact Words "What's mine is yours."

     Web Original  

  • Platypus Comix used this in "The Lost Art Of TV Guide Advertising: Spring 1997". One of the ads shown was for the series premire of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it was annotated with this:
    "Not sure what this is. Something about a cheerleader? I'm sure there's something about it in a couple places on the Internet. I think there was a 1992 film by the same name, and then the guy who wrote it didn't like how it turned out and made it as a series instead.....who knows how it'll go. Maybe the geeks will get into it?"
    • The article about Fall 1989 points out Alyson Hannigan, the actress of Buffy's witchy companion Willow, portraying one of the children in Free Spirit, a sitcom about a Cute Witch who becomes a Magical Nanny to three motherless children. The same article quotes a piece about Roseanne denying that the main character was going to win the lottery, which was true at the time; she won it in the 96-97 season.

     Western Animation  

  • Phineas and Ferb: Before becoming famous as "Lindana", Linda Flynn once dated Heinz Doofenshmirtz. He mocked her dreams of becoming a star by claiming he'd rule the world by then. She then suggested him to start small. The Tri-State Area, for example. Well, Linda became a pop star. Did Doof take over the Tri-State Area? Not in this reality. He also took over in the alternate timeline Future Candace accidentally created in "Phineas and Ferb's Quantum Boogaloo".
  • An episode of Garfield and Friends flashes back to when Jon was a kid and adopting Garfield (who is just a kitten). He assures his mother he can handle taking care of him because after all, "How much can a cat eat?"
  • Kim Possible: One of the time travel destinations in "A Sitch in Time" is Kim's very first adventure mission. She gets the call just as her first cheerleading practice is about to start; as she leaves, she earnestly promises that she will never ditch practice again.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "The Way We Was," which tells the story of how Homer and Marge met and fell in love as high school students, has a number of these involving Homer, who laughs hysterically over a guidance's counselor's recommendation that he look into the power plant soon to be built in town ("Imagine me in a nuclear power plant. Ka-BOOM!"), attributes the fact that he Never Gets Fat to his "metabomolism," and loses a few hairs but shrugs it off with a "There's plenty more where that came from." There's also Marge, who at this point has a 70s-typical waist-length straight 'do, daringly trying out her Memetic Hair for the very first time at prom.
    • In "I Married Marge," we see Homer getting his job at the power plant. Informed who he is by Smithers, Burns says, "Simpson, eh? I'll remember that name."
    • In "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story", the flashbacks show Edna Krabappel as an Enthusiastic Newbie Teacher whose heart instantly goes out to Bart, as well as Snake Jailbird as a successful Adventure Archaeologist.
  • Spongebob Squarepants has Spongebob reminiscing about the first time he ever met Lou, the surly, embittered checkout clerk at the Barg'n-Mart, when he sees an old picture taken that day. The photograph shows a friendly, eager young man; the present day shows what years of working in retail (and dealing with Spongebob) does to you.