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History Repeats

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"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

Often a show will have a situation that is a repetition of something that happened previously within the show's history. Almost always used as either a Running Gag or tragically.

There are some films where they deal with the world repeating over and over, e.g. Groundhog Day, the similar film 12:01, and the Eternal Recurrence phenomenon. But this trope happens when history repeats itself without a "Groundhog Day" Loop.


A common example will be for a show about kids to have the children experience something, and then have the adults in the show respond by reminiscing about when the exact same thing happened to them at that age. Sometimes there is a flashback. If the adults are the main characters and the same thing occurs, this becomes Generation Xerox.

Or it can happen in an adult show where the characters have had flashbacks to show some of the older characters' backstories, and then you have an episode that focuses on the younger characters who experienced the same thing.

Can also be used just with a character repeating the exact same experience as another character did previously (sometimes in an earlier episode). The new victim might have boasted about how much better he would have handled it, expect an Aesop on how we should be less critical of "The Man in The Arena". Or he might just handle it perfectly, making the first victim hate him even more.


When it applies only to a Stock Phrase it's probably an Ironic Echo. See also Here We Go Again!.

Should not be confused with His Story Repeats Itself, which is when a character's arc repeats itself in a similar manner to this trope.



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  • This Super Bowl Special ad for BMW begins with a vintage clip from Today about Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric getting confused about the Internet (this being 1994). Fast forward to the present day, and Bryant and Katie are experiencing literally the exact same thing, except with BMW's i3 wind-powered car. The tagline: "Big ideas take a little getting used to."

    Anime and Manga 
  • Naruto has this due to the Cycle of Revenge, primarily between the Uchiha and Senju/Uzumaki clans.
  • Love Hina has parallel scenes at the beginning of the series and the beginning of the epilogue.
  • In the past, Chrono of Chrono Crusade (the manga version) was in love with a woman called Mary Magdalene, who was possessed by Pandaemonium, the demon's Hive Queen. This kicked off the events which led to her death. When Rosette is placed in a frighteningly similar situation, Aion feels the need to point out that history is repeating itself.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! is shaping up to be this, with Negi and his Generation Xerox crew facing more or less the same scenario and villains that the last generation did.
  • The Gundam series, according to ∀ Gundam, is all one timeline with this going on. Mankind keeps making space colonies, having a civil war with them, getting a bit too violent and inventing gundams that are too powerful, and destroying said colonies, forgetting about it, then sending out new colonies, only to have a civil war with them. Then gundams get too powerful... and each time, they progress a little further, with the destruction and casting back of mankind going further each time. By the time of ∀ Gundam, they're at an early-1900s level of technology. And history repeats again anyway, using Lost Technology.
    • This is also specifically the point of the ideological debate in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing's movie, Endless Waltz. The villainess argues that war is an inevitable part of human nature (the titular "endless waltz" of war, peace, and revolution), while the female lead says that lasting peace can happen if people are willing to put forth the effort to end the Vicious Cycle. Needless to say, at least in the ∀ Gundam version of events, she does't succeed in spreading that idea.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn applies this to the Universal Century in general. Despite all the lofty aspirations made by humanity, from uniting Earth under the Federation to the space colonies and even the Newtype ideal, the same mistakes they've supposedly overcome keep getting repeated...albeit on a much larger scale as shown by the One Year War and subsequent conflicts. Audrey wonders at one point whether an answer to that age-old question even exists.
    • Gundam: Reconguista in G meanwhile, taking place in the same timeline as the Universal Century albeit long after the calendar itself was abolished, has the Capital and SU-Cordists and their Spacenoid masters attempting to keep the UC's events from happening again. While this has in the process led to mankind becoming reminiscent of the pre-Earth Federation days, it'll all be for naught given that the anime also takes place in the same continuity as ∀ Gundam.
  • In Code Geass, Lelouch lost his mother to an assassin, which shattered his cozy, comfortable worldview and inspired him to change the world with Well Intentioned Extremism in order to give his beloved sister a better life. His father the Emperor, who is the biggest obstacle on his quest, went through pretty much the exact same thing in his lifetime and is himself trying to change the world — along with his wife, who's Not Quite Dead. You can imagine Lelouch's shock when he learns all this...
  • Maison Ikkoku has an example where Kyoko romantically pursued her teacher, and when Godai gets a teaching job at her old school not only is he also romantically pursed by a student, but the several of the methods used are very similar. (Tagging the teacher with a heart on the back when he's not looking).
  • How about situations where something happens on a Show Within a Show and then something like it happens in the main show? Like in Martian Successor Nadesico, when Joe makes a Heroic Sacrifice in Gekiganger 3 and in the same episode Jun attempts to make a Heroic Sacrifice but survives- then Gai Daigouji gets killed suddenly and pointlessly at the end of the episode.
  • In Ikki Tousen, the fighters (who are reincarnations of the various generals of Romance of the Three Kingdoms) are destined to fight and die in the same battles, in similar ways.
  • In Magic Knight Rayearth, High Priest Zagato fell in love with Emeraude, the Pillar of Cephiro. Zagato's younger (and identical) brother Lantis would also fall in love with the girl who would become the Pillar, Hikaru. The irony is not lost on either.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • The Moon and Earth Kingdoms were originally destroyed by Princess Serenity and Prince Endymion's forbidden love. When they are resurrected (as Usagi and Mamoru respectively), they fall in love again and history is doomed to repeat unless they take actions about it. This is taken further in the live action adaptation.
    • Quite fittingly, in the manga Queen Beryl, responsible for summoning the Eldritch Abomination that destroyed the Silver Millennium, dies Gutted Like a Fish by Sailor Venus both in the Silver Millennium and the modern day.
  • A recurring motif in Legend of Galactic Heroes is how despite thousands of years of supposed progress, the past keeps returning. Indeed, one of the taglines is "In every time, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same."
  • Attack on Titan:
    • Discussed by Eren and Armin when Eren sees children who remind him of himself, Armin, and Mikasa, and notes that the kids will probably see what they saw when the Colossal Titan broke the wall. It's then averted, as Armin says that this time there are soldiers on the wall who are ready to fight and that those soldiers are them, and they succeed in stopping the Titan and saving the people inside the wall.
    • The Season 2 finale has Hannes getting eaten by the very same titan that ate Eren's mother years before, in the same manner, while again Eren and Mikasa are Forced to Watch. Eren can only laugh in despair at the cruel irony.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, different regions of Amestris seems to keep experiencing the same series of events throughout the country’s history; a controversial leader gains influence in a region and stokes tensions, which quickly explode due to military incompetence and result in large-casualty military conflicts. This keeps happening because Father and his followers keep arranging for it to happen. It’s their way of acquiring sacrifices for the production of Philosopher Stones. Their Evil Plan is to make another bit of history (the destruction of Xerxes in a massive-scale human sacrifice) repeat by using Amestris as a giant transmutation circle.
  • Yuri Is My Job: When Hime and Mitsuki are in elementary school, Hime agreed to play alongside Mitsuki in a piano recital, which resulted in students spreading rumors that the very unpopular Mitsuki bullied Hime into doing it. In response, Hime quits the recital to spare Mitsuki, causing Mitsuki to believe that Hime betrayed her, and resulting in their friendship falling apart. Years later, Hime ends up working at the same salon as Mitsuki (whom she doesn't recognize), in which both girls roleplay as students at an all-girl school, with Hime becoming Mitsuki's "schwester." When Mitsuki reveals herself to Hime, the resulting tensions between them result in people claiming that Mitsuki forced Hime to be her schwester. This time, Hime makes an emotional outburst saying that she is Mitsuki's schwester because she wants to be.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!:
    • In Katarina's previous life, she first met her best friend Atsuko after falling out of a tree and the two would end up bonding over their shared love of otaku culture. Her first interaction with Atsuko's reincarnation Sophia happened after she jumped down from a tree and the two would bond over their shared love of romance novels.
    • Before meeting Katarina's previous life, Atsuko was ostracized for her social awkwardness and sought solace by self-inserting into relationships in manga and light novels. Before meeting Katarina, Atsuko's reincarnation Sophia was ostracized for her albinism and sought solace by self-inserting into relationships in romance novels.
  • Castle in the Sky's opening credits show this wordlessly: it begins with a shot of the wind powering a simple fan-based forge, through an industrial revolution and humans taking to the skies in ever-more complex machines and culminating in the creation of floating continents. Then, after a great war, humans leave the fallen cities and we see the same shot of the wind powering the fan, this time in a water pump. (The rest of the movie shows that humans have once again created Those Magnificent Flying Machines and is about preventing them from making the same mistakes as last time.)
  • In a couple of filler episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh!, a girl named Rebecca shows up and claims that Solomon Moto stole his copy of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon and demands it back. Aside from doubting this claim, the Blue-Eyes White Dragon was ripped up by Kaiba in the first episode, and they don't want to reveal that to her, so she challenges Solomon to a duel for it, with Yugi playing in his grandfather's stead since he just got out of the hospital. As the duel goes on, Solomon recognizes the deck that Rebecca is using, which leads to the reveal that her own grandfather is Arthur Hawkins, Solomon's old archeology friend and the original owner of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon. It turns out that the two of them ended up trapped in a tomb due to a cave-in and to pass the time, they played Duel Monsters against each other for the last of the water. The duel going on in the present proceeds exactly according to the duel their grandfathers played in the past, even ending the same way: the Moto ends up forfeiting the duel despite having drawn the exact card needed to win. Solomon did it because Arthur needed the water more than him. Yugi does it to teach Rebecca two lessons: first, to treat her cards with more respect (her deck revolved around sacrificing monsters to power up her ace monster, but while Arthur respected each monsters' sacrifice, Rebecca only saw them as cannon fodder), and second, that there's more to life than winning.

    Comic Books 
  • Geo-Force tries this gambit against Deathstroke in Final Crisis: Last Will and Testament by luring him to the location where Deathstroke's son had his throat slit. Deathstroke claims that Brion isn't the first one to try this, but Brion is the first to slit his own throat for full effect.
  • Marvel Knights Spider-Man had this with the Green Goblin bringing Mary Jane to the same bridge where Gwen Stacy died.
  • In 2099: Manifest Destiny, we find out Captain America's fate: he once again ended up in a block of ice at the end of the Heroic Age as he'd done at the end of World War II and is revived in the 2099 time period. Amusingly, during the "One Nation Under Doom" event, a clone of Steve Rogers created to be a puppet had this as a cover story. Hell, it happens a third time in Manifest Destiny as the conflict in that story sees Steve go into suspended animation yet again and revive to see an old Miguel in the year 3099!
  • The Flash:
    • In The Trial of the Flash, Reverse-Flash invokes this by planning to kill Fiona in the same way he killed Iris.
    • Wally West got his powers from a repeat of the Flash's Freak Lab Accident. Wally's uncle Barry arranged the chemicals that empowered him in the shelf as a demonstration for Wally, but there also happens to be a lightning storm outside, so...
  • Post-Avengers vs. X-Men Marvel tried to replicate the old Professor X/Magneto dynamic with Wolverine and Cyclops, with “Professor Wolverine” running a school for mutants, and Scott as a Well-Intentioned Extremist supervillain. Fans did not respond to the new status quo and eventually, the pair were killed off and resurrected to wipe the slate clean.
  • The Sandman when Morpheus first met Hob Gadling in 1389 the other people in the tavern were grumbling about the poll tax, seeing signs of the apocalypse, discussing whether Black Death was judgement from God, and making dirty jokes about the clergy. When they meet again in 1989 discussion topics include the poll tax, signs of the apocalypse, AIDS as divine punishment, and dirty jokes about clergy.
  • In Batman: Curse of the White Knight, it is revealed that The Joker was inspired by Lafayette "Laffy" Arkham (who the Joker actually bears a resemblance too), who has a long-standing conflict and was killed by Bruce's ancestor Edmond Wayne who wielded a whip made from bat-leather.
  • When first introduced into the Batman books, Jason Todd's pre-crisis backstory was the same as Dick Grayson's: an acrobat who parents are killed by a criminal (in this case, Killer Croc).

    Fan Works 
  • In Mega Man Reawakened, both Protoman and Roll run away because they don't want Dr. Light to fix them at first, though Roll later relents. Robert points this out to Quentin Emerald, who's a terrorist like his father.
  • In Our Blades Are Sharp, a knight wearing black armor wrought with rubies wins a tournament and crowns a Stark girl as his Queen of Love and Beauty. Ned knows the guy is actually Domeric Bolton — his daughter Sansa's betrothed — but the resemblance is not lost on him, nor Robert. In fact, Robert mistook Domeric for Rhaegar and nearly charges the tournament field in a rage before Ned points out that it's really Domeric.
  • A very subtle instance occurs in A Man of Iron when Oberyn Martell gives his eldest daughter as a bride to Antony Stark's ward Jon. Unbeknownst to him, he arranged a wedding between a daughter of House Martell to a Targaryen prince, recreating Prince Rhaegar and Elia Martell's union.
  • In Fate Ingens Cor, Artoria has a moment of utter horror when she thinks Lancelot has been reduced to The Berserker when she lays eyes upon him. Thankfully, he has not been summoned as a mindless killing machine this time.
  • Fate/Parallel Fantasia:
    • Caster's original Master attempts to betray her for the younger and prettier False Caster, just like how Jason of the Argonauts betrayed her original self, Medea, for a younger and prettier princess. She gets so pissed off at this happening again that she kills him and then tries to kill False Caster until she escapes.
    • In his original timeline, back when True Archer was Shirou Emiya, he foolishly risked his life to try to save Saber from Berserker. In the final battle, he ends up doing it again, sacrificing himself to save her and help her defeat Berserker. He comments on it, but dies without regrets, admitting he would choose to save her every time.
  • The mage of the storm starts to arrange a second Dance of Dragons with a laid-back and easygoing monarch (Robert Baratheon/Viserys I) naming his eldest daughter by his first wife (Selene Baratheon/Rhaenyra Targaryen) over the son he had from his second marriage (Joffrey Baratheon/Aegon II).
  • In Winter Thorns of Highgarden, Lyarra Snow very much emulates Lyanna Stark when her decision to compete in a tourney leads a Southern heir to take an interest in her, which ends up in an elopement. Fortunately for Westeros, everything was carefully arranged to avoid another Civil War.
  • In The Changeling Sequence, Jason is brutally reminded of Bruce's Death by Origin Story when a punk with a gun threatens him in a dark alley right in front of Bruce's eight-year-old son.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Glynda can't help but think of the days where she'd be patching up Toshinori after a stupid training accident when she's busy bandaging up Izuku's arms while he learns to use One For All.
  • In Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Futures Past, while this concept literally applies as Harry is re-doing his time at Hogwarts, from Dumbledore's perspective this is happening with Harry; a young boy, with both parents dead from a young age and raised in a loveless household, showing tremendous aptitude and skill, with a clique of devoted young friends, most of whom seem to have little regard for the rules; put it all together and Dumbledore is disturbingly reminded of Tom Riddle. When he admits his concerns, Professor McGonagall calls him on this view by pointing out that Harry and his friends are True Companions, something the Death Eaters and Voldemort most assuredly aren't, with Harry showing equal concern for his friends as they would for him as opposed to Voldemort dismissing anyone who can't keep up.
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Peter decides to become Izuku's mentor after watching him jump out of traffic the way he had as a teenager.
  • Of Quirks and Magic:
    • Dr. Strange sees himself in Izuku when seeing the boy despair over his crippled hands. This, along with Izuku's earnest wish to become a hero to help others, is what inspires Strange to take Izuku under his wing.
    • Power Loader chastises Hatsume for trying to produce an AI based on Izuku's brain patterns, listing Ultron as an example of the potential danger such a thing could cause and forces her to dismantle it. His worry is based on experience: he helped create Ultron.
  • Crimson and Emerald, both Todoroki Touya and Shouto were physically and emotionally abused by their physically and socially powerful father with an abused mother powerless to stop him before they eventually rebelled. It turns out Endeavor was also abused in the same by his own father, Todoroki Ryu before he ultimately rebelled and refused to listen to his father or anyone else.
  • In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil fan comic Echo Creek: A Tale of Two Butterflies, the friendship between main characters Meteora and Mariposa is very similar to the one Star and Marco had years before them, with Meteora as the thrill-seeking princess and Mariposa as the more cautious human.
  • Lost to Dust: In Clockwork Academy, Ruby's new Team RAMA mirrors Team RWBY, which she notices. Anastasia is an upper class girl and ice queen, both figuratively and literally, who gets off on the wrong foot with Ruby like Weiss. Atalanta is a Cat Girl like Blake. Medusa is a super strong beauty like Yang.
  • Code Geass: Paladins of Voltron: Lelouch and Suzaku's arguments during Confessions and Revelations are heavily implied to have similarities to ones that were had by Zarkon and Alfor when they were the Paladins.
  • Code Prime - R1: Rebellion: The main conflict in this story comes down to two battles between former best friends, one an Ideal Hero, the other a Chessmaster, over how to fix a corrupt society. In an interesting twist, though, it is the human chess master who is paired with the Cybertronian idealist.
  • Compass Of Thy Soul has a rather hilarious and deliberate example: Uchiha Sakurajima worships the late Head of Outguard Uchiha Biei-Fyji to such a degree, she decided it would be a terrific idea to seduce and marry a war prisoner just like her ancestor did. Her Clan head is not amused.
  • Turning Tables: In Chapter 29, Peter has a panic attack when someone asks him about fighting in space similar to when it happened to Tony in Iron Man 3.
    • When Peter hesitates giving his speech announcing Spider-Man's retirement, Pepper correctly guesses what's going to happen, saying that he was "gonna pull a Tony."
  • In Anata no Tame ni Akogare: If Only You Knew, Ryuji agrees to help Makoto stop their classmate Eiko from being taken advantage of by a host in Shinjuku. He then learns from his mom that his father was once a host himself before he got Akane Sakamoto pregnant, which only increases Ryuji's anger towards the present-day host.
  • In The Hobbit fanfic Kili's Promise, Fili raises Kili and Tauriel's son Tili as his own, much like Thorin raised him and Kili.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Cars 3, Lightning McQueen ends up experiencing the same problems that had happened with his late crew chief and mentor, Doc Hudson. He is outmatched by a rookie and suffers a horrible crash that puts the future of his career in doubt, and he worries that he might have to retire as Doc did. Unlike Doc, however, he doesn’t but still becomes a mentor to rookie Cruz Ramirez, who just started her racing career, and like what happened with Strip “The King” Weathers, a former legend from his rookie season, she helps him finish the race.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’: Upon being revived, Frieza decides to train himself so he can exact his revenge on Goku, making a beeline for Earth after achieving his new Golden Super Mode. However, just like on Namek, he ends up running out of stamina before Goku since, just like before, he didn't master his new form and learn how to regulate his energy output. Goku shows him mercy and, just like before, Frieza throws it back in his face (this time more successfully, with the help of an underling). When Vegeta steps in to fight Frieza, Frieza destroys the Earth, just like before on Namek, but thanks to Whis's ability to reverse time, Goku kills him before he can destroy the Earth and sends Frieza right back to hell.
  • Your Name: When Sayaka says that a meteorite splitting off from comet Tiamat and striking Itomori is just a what-if, Tessie points out that Lake Itomori is not only also a meteor crater, but was formed 1,200 years ago — the orbital period of comet Tiamat...

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future, anyone? Just one example — the skateboard chase in 1955 in Part I, the Hover Board chase in 2015 in Part II, and the horseback chase in 1885 in Part III. All involving Marty McFly being chased by a Tannen.
    • Notably, though, they all work out entirely differently. The first time, Marty easily beats them because he's the only one with a skateboard. The second time, they've all got hoverboards, in fact, they've got better hoverboards, and he narrowly escapes them. The third time, they're all on horseback, and he's on foot, and they catch him easily.
    • Lampshaded by old Biff in 2015: "There's something very familiar about all this."
    • Also it seems that a Tannen is fated to crash into horse manure at Marty's hand. In 1955, Marty tricks Biff into crashing his car into the back of a manure truck, causing him to get buried in horse manure. In 1885, Marty knocks out Buford Tannen in a fist fight, causing him to collapse into a cart of horse manure.
  • This is actually one particularly bleak interpretation of the events seen in John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). The theory here is that the alien spaceship that brought the Thing was deliberately crashed in Antarctica in order to keep it from getting out. Fast forward 100,000 years later and a group of Norwegians finds it, examine it, and then it gets out and kills all but two who end up dying in the process of trying to keep it from getting further. Then the remainder of an American expedition destroyed by the Thing destroys their camp in an effort to keep the Thing from being found by a rescue team — whether they succeed is left for the viewer to decide, but an alternate ending shown in some TV broadcasts implied that it escaped.
  • This happens a lot over the Star Wars saga.
    • Revenge of the Sith features the rise of the Galactic Empire and the near-total genocide of the Jedi with Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader's assistance. In the thirty years between their defeat and The Force Awakens, Luke Skywalker's efforts to rebuild the Jedi Order are undone by Kylo Ren's massacre, who allies himself with the fledgling First Order. Even worse, Kylo Ren is Anakin's grandson.
    • The Empire blew up the planet of Alderaan with the Death Star in A New Hope. Years later, the First Order uses a similar superweapon to destroy the entire Hosnian system.
    • On a meta level, Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo (a roguish pilot) had by far the most successful career out of the three main cast members, starring in films such as Indiana Jones and Air Force One. Years later, Oscar Isaac, who played Poe (another roguish pilot) in the sequel trilogy was cast in TWO major roles within months of the release of The Rise of Skywalker: Moon Knight in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Solid Snake in an adaptation of Metal Gear Solid.

  • Isaac Asimov's "Breeds There a Man...?": One of the symptoms that Dr Ralston identifies as due to malign alien influence is the way that historic empires would be destroyed by war/disease during the height of their power. He is convinced that the aliens observed that a group showed too much vitality and ability, and therefore caused a war to destroy the possibility of their further development. He is convinced the Cold War is their plan to end the current "high-culture" experiment.
    Ralston: I asked why was there not a post-Periclean Athens of higher accomplishments still, and he told me that Athens was ruined by a plague and by a long war with Sparta. I asked about other cultural spurts and each time it was a war that ended it, or, in some cases, even accompanied it.
  • In Beautiful Losers, F. says that the British did to the French what the French did to the Indians back in the 1600s, creating a cycle of oppression and cultural dissociation.
  • In A Brother's Price this is used as a source for drama. There was a civil war between two branches of the royal family not so long ago, and the royal family is genre-savvy enough not to risk a repetition by splitting the family again. This means that all the princesses have to marry one husband. However, there is the additional problem that their now deceased ex-husband was evil, and they married him against the warnings of Princess Trini. They do not want that one to repeat itself either, but Trini, who was hurt most, is understandably reluctant to marry anyone.
  • In A Canticle for Leibowitz, the readers know the world had had a great nuclear war sometime in the past (our present). Then there's The Simplification, which is another world-wide war, and a third war (nuclear again) in the third part. The book ends with what's left of humanity moving on to a new planet, probably to keep the cycle of stupidity going.
  • In Debt of Honor, quite a few parts of the military side of the plan mirror similar events from back in World War II, all the way up to starting the violence by using the same code phrase that started the attack on Pearl Harbor. This does not go unnoticed.
  • The Decline of the West: German philosopher Oswald Spengler claimed in his Non-Fiction book in every major culture, a culture emerges among the barbarian peoples, and fuses them together into nations. The great myths, art styles, and religions develop. In the beginning, strong kings rule, but their power soon is weakened by their noble vassals. A great movement reforms the religion. Meanwhile, in the cities a somewhat-privileged middle class has risen, replacing the feudal economy slowly but steadily by capitalism. By cooperating with them, the crown can weaken the nobility and the church, forming an absolutist state. Science and capitalism develop further, and an enlightened philosophy spreads, weakening the hold of religion. Then, the middle class will decide to get rid of the old system, usually in the form of a revolution-which starts civilization. This marks the fall of the culture-wars will get worse and worse (The Napoleonic Wars -> The American Civil War -> World War I -> World War II), art will become more and more offensive, and capitalism runs rampant (not without provoking counter movements). In the end, one state will conquer/control all other states, and one man will rise to the top of this state-voila, The Empire.
  • Rudyard Kipling, in "The Gods Of The Copybook Headings" (link), pointed out how political ploys of the time are less than fresh by mockingly attributing them to prehistoric times-"When the Cambrian measures were forming..."
  • Cherished by The Malloreon. Due to a mistake in the fabric of the universe, events recur with minor changes throughout history. By the end of the series, the heroes are actively noticing the recursion and using it to their advantage. The ultimate goal of the series is to fix this, so that time can finally move ahead.
  • In The Murder on the Links, the crime that Poirot and Hastings encounter is very similar to the Beroldy Scandal which took place 20 years before.
  • ''Tomorrow Town": The story is set in a camp of futurists who are deeply contemptuous of the past and those who they see as trapped within it, but find themselves repeating certain historical patterns about how society develops and people interact within them without even realizing it. Furthermore, their efforts to predict the future are inept at best and doomed to failure. Just as the past will repeat itself, the future can't be forced no matter how hard you try.
  • In The Wave, a High School history teacher is trying to show his class just how easily the Nazis came to power, only to be met with disbelief by students who think that "it can't happen here." So he shows them otherwise by starting a fascist movement in the class.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In season 13 of The Amazing Race Toni & Dallas got their passports stolen in Moscow when their cab driver drove off with their bags. They were given a Mercy Kill. The same thing happened to James & Abba in season 21 but they were allowed to run another leg because they weren't leaving Russia. The show hasn't been back since (season 21 was filmed in 2012) presumably for this reason.
  • Both Tom Bergeron and Alfonso Ribero had previously cut their teeth on revivals of Merrill Heatter's game shows (The Hollywood Squares and Gambit, respectively) before being picked as hosts of America's Funniest Home Videos.
  • In Babylon 5, the various incarnations of the Shadow/Vorlon War, up until the point where Sheridan punches History in the face and throws it out of the galaxy.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): "All of this has happened before. And all of it will happen again." The series ends on an uncertain note as to whether or not humanity is destined to fight yet another Robot War.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: a rather dark example comes from "Consequences," where Faith had accidentally killed a human, tries to dispose of the body, then becomes a rapist (damn near enough in Xander's case, then using Buffy's body to seduce Riley.) In "Dead Things" Buffy has essentially raped Spike, then she thinks she killed a human and Spike tries to dispose of the evidence (although she was genuinely planning to turn herself in before she learned the identity of her 'victim' and realised what had really happened). The way she's acting bothers her so much she looks into whether she Came Back Wrong, then she finds out she didn't.
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
    • "The Clean Room" devotes a lot of time to Clair Patterson's struggle to have Congress act on the dangers of leaded gasoline, while the oil companies try to cut his funding and discredit him with their scientist-for-hire Robert Kehoe. The subtext to the modern day is very clear.
    • A heartening example in "The Electric Boy". Young Michael Faraday got the attention of Humphry Davy by sending a book of notes he'd made on Davy's scientific demonstrations to the Royal Institute. Decades later, Faraday remembers standing in Davy's office, which now belongs to him, as he's about to open a dissertation by his own young fan: James Clerk Maxwell, who's developed mathematical evidence for Faraday's ideas.
  • The Criminal Minds episode "Birthright" ends with the villain being killed by his pregnant wife, just like his father (also a serial killer) was.
  • Daredevil (2015): In seasons 1 and 3, Wilson Fisk is taken down because Nelson & Murdock flip a corrupt cop that Fisk ordered to do dirty acts that said cop drew a line at doing. In season 1, it's Carl Hoffman, a corrupt NYPD detective who Fisk threatened into killing his own partner and best friend Christian Blake. In season 3, the honor goes to Ray Nadeem, an FBI agent who has been manipulated by Fisk into releasing him from prison and later harassing Nelson & Murdock after Fisk "accuses" Matt of being an accomplice of his, and then gets strongarmed into being Dex's getaway driver as he tries to go public with what he know. In both cases, Fisk makes efforts to kill the cop in question. His efforts to get rid of Hoffman fail as Matt shows up right as other corrupt cops are about to finish off Hoffman. Fisk makes a similar attempt to get rid of Nadeem in season 3 by having men ambush him while Matt is escorting him to the courthouse to testify before a grand jury, but Matt and Nadeem fight off the assassins, prompting Fisk to pull a backup plan and intimidate the grand jury. Then Vanessa makes the decision for Nadeem to be killed, which is carried out by Dex but not before Ray makes a confession video that is admissible as evidence against Fisk due to a loophole.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In-universe, humanity can't seem to resist the lure of slave labor, no matter how much it corrupts and backfires.
    • The Daleks likewise are trapped in an eternal cycle of evolving to improve their situation and then turning on themselves for failing to remain pure.
    • Meta-example with the Time War and destruction of Gallifrey: Elements of this story had been bouncing around since the early 1980s, usually with the intention of curing the series of a lot of its Continuity Lockout. However, none of the attempts to actually depict it ever got off the ground. The 4D War intended by Alan Moore in the Doctor Who Magazine strips never made it fully to print, as he left early. "Gallifrey" was a proposed Sixth Doctor story to be written by Pip and Jane Baker rumoured to destroy the titular planet and shake up the status quo, but it was part of a cancelled season. "Doctor Who: The Last of the Time Lords" was the title for one draft of what eventually became the TV Movie. The Eighth Doctor Adventures range of BBC Books came closest with a story arc about "The War", a time-active conflict in the future, which was eventually prevented from happening by Gallifrey's premature destruction. In fact, from 1981's 4-D War to 2013's "The Day of the Doctor", no Time War was ever actually depicted, and given the setting of the aforementioned anniversary special, that arguably still remains the case.
    • Series 8 was essentially a variation on this: an elderly Doctor in his fifties, his two first companions being teachers from Coal Hill School (kinda), and a new regeneration cycle were all elements from the very beginning.
    • Another meta-example is the various incarnations of the Doctor in Classic and New Who. The most popular Doctor in their respective eras (Four and Ten) get replaced by the youngest actor to play the role at the time (Five and Eleven) and their replacement is a Doctor designed to hark back to the earlier, darker side of the Doctor; played by an actor who appeared on the show before being cast in the role (Six and Twelve). They are then succeeded by a Doctor who uses a British accent that the Doctor has never used before (Seven, Scottish; and Thirteen, Yorkshire).
    • "Spyfall" resets the Doctor's situation back to the way things were at the beginning of the new series with The Reveal that Gallifrey has been destroyed (apparently by the Master), leaving the Doctor and the Master as the last of their kind again.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Jon Snow points out that multiple times in the past Wildlings have raised an army under a chosen King Beyond The Wall, in an attempt to make their way south past the wall. They always crumbled when face with a proper army though, due to their lack of organized cooperation and military discipline. Jon's insistence that they will meet the same fate despite their passion and numbers is flippantly dismissed. Completing the cycle, Stannis utterly crushes the Wildling Army with a surprise cavalry attack.
    • Ned promising to take care of the dying Robert's children. He did the same for his sister Lyanna.
    • Subverted in how Littlefinger tries to play Sansa and Arya against each other just as he manipulated their mother, Catelyn and her own sister Lysa. Littlefinger fails to understand Sansa and Arya's dynamic is much different than their mother and aunt and pays for it with his life.
    • Aerys Targaryen's first Hand of the King was Tywin Lannister. Before departing for Westeros, Aerys' daughter chooses Tywin's son as her Hand, in what constitutes his second stint at the post. Coincidentally, both Tyrion and Dany are the youngest children of their families and were bullied by Smug Snake older siblings who were spiteful that they lost their mothers due to their births.
    • Stannis Baratheon:
      • A king who gets advice from both a woman with Black and White Insanity who uses sex as a weapon and his rational best friend, while more often than not ignoring the latter. Yup, Stannis is Robert's brother alright. In addition, Stannis shares with Robert the hardships of controlling the North, even with a Stark by his side, as he points out to Jon Snow, whom he tries to legitimize to help win the North over, but Jon refuses out of a sense of duty.
      • Though he would likely bristle at the comparison, his burning of dissenters is remarkably similar to Aerys Targaryen at the end.
  • Homeland begins with CIA ops officer Carrie Mathison investigating a recently-freed captive whom she suspects has been compromised by his captors. The final season has another recently-freed captive coming under the same suspicion — only this time, it's Carrie herself.
  • Lost starting in the season 5 finale. It's implied that people have been coming to the island only to be wiped out over and over again as part of Jacob and the Man in Black's grand morality test. Taken to an extreme in "Across the Sea" where it's revealed that Jacob isn't even the original protector of the island and that there had probably been many previous protectors before he was born.
  • Power Rangers RPM began with a Child Prodigy (Doctor K) creating a sentient computer virus that destroyed almost 80% of the human population. Come Power Rangers: Beast Morphers episode "The Source Code", when another young scientist (Nate Silva) tampered with Ranger technology with Morph-X and animal DNA. The real kicker? Said scientist used snake DNA plus Morph-X on a Cell Shift Morpher, the end result creating Evox. Want another kicker? The aforementioned episode reveals that Evox is in fact, Venjix! And that Cell Shift Morpher that Nate experimented on, he had no idea that Venjix was dormant at the timenote , and his actions caused him to be reborn as Evox.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Living Witness", Voyager's presence accidentally triggered a long-gestating war between the two species native to a planet. Centuries later the race which lost the war has grown increasingly resentful of the victors. When a copy of the Doctor tells his side of the story which clearly contradicts the history written by the victors, it nearly triggers another war between the two species.
  • In the pilot of Supernatural, Sam and Dean's mother Mary is murdered by a demon, who pins her to the ceiling of Sam's nursery and lights the house on fire. Four-year-old Dean carries his baby brother to safety. Twenty-two years later, Sam attends Stanford and has a beautiful girlfriend named Jessica who even somewhat resembles his mother. A demon kills Jessica by pinning her to the ceiling and lighting the room on fire, and Dean must rescue his distraught adult brother from the fire.
  • In Third Watch, Ty's father is murdered years before the series starts. His partner Sully finds out the truth behind the murder (that the murderer was paid by a corrupt cop, CT Finney) but says nothing in order to protect Ty's family's police pension. Fast forward to 2004, where CT Finney is exposed and commits suicide. Ty ends up helping Finney's son to make it look like an accident-so that Mrs. Finney can still get her police pension.
  • In the series finale of The Wire, several characters end up in situations that harken back to the beginning of the show (in tandem with call backs). The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue insinuates that Baltimore is a cyclical place and that characters will always end up in certain roles.
    • Leander Sydnor goes to Judge Phelan and asks his help investigating a major case, like Jimmy McNulty did, in a conversation with the exact same character, five seasons prior).
    • Bodie's fate is quite reminiscent of Wallace's. He also becomes disillusioned by The Game's casual violence and decides to talk to the cops, only to be killed before he can cooperate.
    • Namond takes elements from two figures. First, he comes from a family noted for their connection with the drug trade and it's assumed that he will take up that mantle as well despite having no heart for the game. Sounds like D'Angelo, but he gets a rare happy ending because Wee-Bey realizes the drug trade isn't right for him and allows Namond to be adopted by Colvin instead. On the other hand, he uses the exact same line as Clay Davis "I'll take any motherfucker's money if he's giving it away!" and shows an interest in politics and debate after being adopted by Colvin.
    • Randy loses his mother figure early in life, his talents go mostly overlooked and unappreciated, is repeatedly screwed over by the system, and winds up adopting a thug attitude. Sounds like Bodie, although we don't see if he ends up the same way.
    • In Homicide, Kima Greggs becomes the new McNulty
    • On a more positive note, the formerly irresponsible Ellis Carver is implied to be on his way to becoming the new Cedric Daniels.
    • Michael Lee becomes the new Omar Little. In fact, the last thing we see him do is shooting someone in the knee during a robbery, just like we saw Omar do during Omar's first robbery in Season 1.
    • Dukie Weems becomes the new Bubbles.
    • Kenard shows the text-book signs of being a sociopath. Has dreams of becoming a great street legend like Omar. Sounds like Marlo Stanfield, who himself, is a sociopath that had dreams of becoming a street legend and saw his chance to act on it after the Barksdale crew was brought down. Kenard saw his chance by killing Omar Little, knowing the Stanfield crew was looking for him. It's suggested Crutchfield arrests him for Omar's murder, but it's not known if he'll get charged as an adult and convicted. Given that he's very young, there's a chance he might just get sent to a behavior correctional center, which in a way is a Karma Houdini example, just like Marlo.
    • Valchek becomes the new Burrell/Frazier after being promoted to Commissioner.

  • History Never Repeats by Split Enz sounds like it will be an aversion. It's actually the singer trying to convince himself of the aversion.
  • The recurring theme on The Megas two-part album History Repeating ...yeah.
  • In "Me and the Cockroach" by Hobo Johnson, humanity evolves, discovers it's going to die, invents religion and government, and conflict accelerates until humanity destroys itself in a nuclear war. The cockroaches survive, become intelligent, and the whole cycle repeats itself.

  • The Last Podcast on the Left: Towards the end of the episode on Howard Unruh, who perpetrated one of the earliest known mass shootings in 1949 New Jersey, the hosts mention that one of the attack's survivors went on to have a grandchild that also survived a mass shooting, this one the Parkland, Florida school shooting of February 2018.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Those well versed in wrestling history note that the problems that plague TNA today are what killed WCW. Nonsensical storylines, younger, homegrown talent being pushed down the card for older, more recognizable names, a money mark for a boss — those problems were always there, but the fan base didn't take any note of them because the talent was having great matches and doing great segments. The shortcomings weren't as strongly pronounced. Then, due to a Love Triangle of all things, Jeff Jarrett lost control of the company to Dixie Carter who, evidently having not read The Death of WCW, brought in two of the guys on the cover: Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Practically overnight, TNA went from "a growing promotion with some similarities to WCW", to "WCW-lite". The Death of WCW discussed this throughout its tenth-anniversary edition, including an epilogue which lists the utterly boneheaded decisions the company has made since the original publication.
  • Scarily, the more Vince McMahon continues to be at the helm of the WWE, the more its ongoing problems are starting to mirror the problems that killed its chief rival. An over-reliance on past stars, a heel faction at the top that many feel has long exhausted its welcome, neglecting everything else in favor of the main event, either involving the world title or past stars (or both), and what seems to be an outright refusal to make a new star. The one new star he's trying to make isn't allowed to play to his strengths and get over that way, with Vince doing everything in his power to mold him into HIS star, to an almost stubborn degree. It's begun to alienate fans, with the WWE having lost a million viewers over the span of one year. The parallels are becoming obvious to everyone, especially to those who read the aforementioned book (which might as well be nearly every hardcore fan in the last decade), that fans are either demanding his retirement or wishing he'd keel over and die already before the damage gets any worse.
    • The career of Roman Reigns parallels The Rock's career in the sense that they're both trying to get over as white meat babyfaces only to be completely rejected by fans. The fact that they're cousins is just icing on the cake. In fact, the parallels are so eerily strong that many are beginning to wonder if fate is trying to tell Vince something.

  • National Hockey League:
    • Twice after losing The Stanley Cup to opponents in the Finals (NY Rangers in 1994, Boston in 2011), Vancouver Canucks fans have tended to riot downtown.
    • The NHL had awarded Atlanta an expansion franchise twice, in 1972 with the Flames and in 1999 with the Thrashers. Both teams would subsequently relocate to Canada, with the Flames moving to Calgary in 1980, keeping the Flames name, and the Thrashers to Winnipeg in 2011, becoming a revival of the Jets.
    • The Montreal Canadiens replaced Michel Therrien with Claude Julien as their head coach twice: the first time in 2003 and the second time in 2017.
  • In The World Cup, Brazil, Italy and Germany all won their fourth titles 24 years after the third, defeating the tournament host in the playoffs, against a team that primarily wears blue (though given Italy also wears blue, France played them in white) in a game that didn't end in regulation (only Germany scored in extra time and escaped the penalties).note  And all their third titles happened against a fellow two-time champion who eliminated the hosts.note 
  • After Michael Jordan's first retirement from professional basketball in 1994, the New York Knicks won the NBA Eastern Conference Championship, only to lose in the Finals to a team from Texas (the Houston Rockets). Following Jordan's second retirement in 1999, the Knicks once again won the Eastern Conference Championship only to lose in the Finals to a team from Texas (the San Antonio Spurs).
  • In the National Football League, the Washington Redskins quarterback, Joe Theismann, ended up suffering a leg injury on November 18, 1985, that ended his NFL career. Exactly 33 years later on November 18, 2018, the Redskins quarterback, Alex Smith, ends up suffering a similar leg injury that put him out for the rest of the season.
  • On January 3, 1993, in the 1992-93 NFL playoffs, the Buffalo Bills played against the Houston Oilers in the AFC Wildcard Game, overcoming a 35-3 third quarter deficit to win 41-38 in overtime. Almost 27 years to the day, January 4, 2020, in the 2019-20 playoffs, the Bills played against the Houston Texans (in 1997, the Oilers relocated to Tennessee and became the Tennessee Titans) in the AFC Wildcard Game, but this time, it was the Bills that blew a big lead, going from leading 16-0 in the third quarter to losing 22-19 in OT. Then, double subverted the next week in the AFC Divisional Game between the Texans and the Kansas City Chiefs on January 12, 2020, as the Texans blew a big lead themselves, going from leading 24-0 in the second quarter to losing 51-31.
  • In the 2007 NFL playoffs, the Giants finished with a 10-6 record, beat the Buccaneers in the Wild Card, the Cowboys in the Divisional, and the Packers in the NFC Championship in a game decided by an overtime field goal by Lawrence Tynes, before facing the AFC number one seeded Patriots in the Super Bowl. In that Super Bowl, down 14-10 with a little over a minute left in the 4th quarter, Giants QB Eli Manning threw a miracle catch to wide receiver David Tyree (who famously used his helmet to help secure the catch). A few plays later, the Giants would find the end zone, and a failed Hail Mary pass attempt by Patriots QB Tom Brady would secure a Giants victory, with Eli Manning taking home the MVP honors. Four years later in 2011, the Giants, this time going 9-7, beat another NFC South team, the Falcons, in the Wild Card, beat another number one seeded team, the Packers, in the Divisional, and beat another number two seeded team, the 49ers, in the NFC Championship in a game decided by an overtime field goal, also by Lawrence Tynes, and then played the Patriots again in the Super Bowl. In that Super Bowl, down 17-15 with around three minutes left on the clock, Eli Manning would throw a miracle catch to wide receiver Mario Manningham. A lengthy drive later, the Giants would find the end zone. Another failed Hail Mary pass attempt by Tom Brady would secure another Giants victory, with Eli Manning taking home the MVP honors once again.
  • In the 2004-05 NFL playoffs, the Philadelphia Eagles entered with a 13-3 record and the #1 NFC seed, defeating the #6 seeded wildcard Minnesota Vikings in the NFC divisional round and the #2 seeded Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game before making it to Super Bowl XXXIX and being defeated by the New England Patriots. Thirteen years later, in the 2017-18 NFL playoffs, the Eagles once again entered with a 13-3 record and the #1 NFC seed. This time, they defeated the #6 seeded wildcard Falcons in the NFC divisional round and the #2 seeded Vikings in the NFC Championship Game and made it to Super Bowl LII, facing the Patriots once again. However, this time, the Eagles won against the Patriots, avenging their Super Bowl XXXIX loss and winning their first-ever Super Bowl.
  • In Super Bowl XXXVI in the 2001-02 NFL season between the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams, Rams wide receiver Ricky Proehl would catch the game tying touchdown pass by Rams QB Kurt Warner with less than two minutes remaining, which left enough time on the clock for Patriots QB Tom Brady to lead a drive that brought the Patriots into field goal range before stopping the clock so that kicker Adam Vinatieri could take the field to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired, giving the Patriots their first ever Super Bowl win. Two years later, in Super Bowl XXXVIII, between the Patriots and the Carolina Panthers, Ricky Proehl, who now played for the Panthers, caught the game tying touchdown pass by Panthers QB Jake Delhomme with less than two minutes remaining, which left enough time on the clock for Patriots QB Tom Brady to lead a drive that brought the Patriots into field goal range before stopping the clock so that kicker Adam Vinatieri could take the field to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired, giving the Patriots their second Super Bowl win.
    • Ironically enough, Proehl and Vinatieri would both win the Super Bowl three years later, both as members of the Indianapolis Colts.
  • In the 1997 MLB season, the Florida Marlins, a young expansion franchise that was only playing their fifth season in their history would go on a hot streak in the postseason, upsetting the "Team of the 90s'" Braves team in the NLCS. In Game 7 of the World Series, a latino player for the Marlins (Edgar Renteria) would hit a base hit with the bases loaded into shallow center to give the Marlins their first World Series. four years later, the Arizona Diamondbacks, an even younger team, playing only their fourth season, would go on a hot streak in the postseason, defeating the Braves in the NLCS. In Game 7 of the World Series, a part-latino player for the Marlins (Luis Gonzalez), would hit a base it with the bases loaded into shallow center to give the Diamondbacks their first World Series.

  • Beast Wars: Uprising:
    • The story begins with a Cybertronian becoming dissatisfied with the status-quo, forming a rebellion that breaks out into full-blown war, three centuries after the end of the last one. Several characters make note that it's another war, with the supercomputer The Oracle quoting the Battlestar Galactica example.
    • In the backstory, the inhabitants of the planet Rebirth fled Cybertron to get away from the war. Over time, a trio calling themselves the Optimus took control, and became utterly fascistic, stamping down on any dissent, leading to the rise of a violent rebellion identified as the Malignus. Then, during the 21st century the Decepticons showed up, and the planet got involved in the war again. The end result was the entire population of Master were forced off their world by humans, and made to live on Cybertron, under the thumb of a different autocratic, oppressive regime.

    Video Games 
  • The Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Symphonia timeline has this going on. Periodically, mankind invents magitechnology, culminating in a Mana Cannon, the use of which kills large numbers of people and depletes so much mana as to threaten the life of the Mana Tree. Things progress too far, the Mana Cannon causes too much destruction, and civilization is cast back into the Dark Ages for a while. Then somebody starts exploring ruins and finding out about this thing called "magitechnology"...
  • Dwarf Fortress being its darkly humorous self, its Video Game Cruelty Potential is very, very high and usually combined with exploits. So here's probably the best fan theory on the origin of the Hidden Fun Stuff. The gist of the argument goes like this: if you start with a bunch of emotionally-numb dwarves, burrow them underground, invoke Body Horror, and cover the whole complex in lava... wouldn't the logical end result count as Physical Hell?
  • The Ninja Warriors Again: The game's ending explicitly says that because history repeats, the new government you were fighting for will eventually become as bad as the one you overthrew.
  • Massively in Gunstar Super Heroes, which is a sequel which covers the events of the original game happening again in the distant future.
  • Seen in Warcraft III and World of Warcraft with Grom and Garrosh Hellscream. Grom was the first orc to drink Mannoroth's blood, cursing nearly his entire race with an endless bloodlust and enslaving them to the Burning Legion, all for the sake of more strength. Faced with defeat at the hands of Cenarius, Grom drank from a fountain that he believed would grant him strength, only to learn it was in fact filled with Mannoroth's blood, completely enslaving him and his clan to the demon. Years later Garrosh tried to use the Sha and then the heart of Y'shaarj to empower himself and his True Horde.
    • In Battle for Azeroth the Horrific Vision of Orgrimmar shows a future where Thrall is driven mad by N'Zoth and convinced that the only way to save Azeroth is by drinking the Old God's blood. Those who obey his order are twisted by the Void into slaves of N'Zoth while those who refuse are executed.
  • The Legend of Zelda has this at its core, connecting all the games. Ganon is an eternal threat, but every time he rises to endanger Hyrule, there is — and will always be — a Link and a Zelda to oppose him. Only the circumstances change.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Lorule started to gradually crumble away after they destroyed their Triforce. Ravio kicks Hilda into a Heel Realization after telling her that taking Hyrule's Triforce away from them would simply cause them to go through the same decay that is now affecting Lorule.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, both Mipha and her father were both well aware of the story of the Zora princess who fell in love with a Hylian swordsman (Ruto from Ocarina of Time), citing it as a reason they believed Mipha's love for Link made sense. It ended up being more appropriate to the current situation than they would have liked, as Ruto Did Not Get The Guy either.
  • John Marston pulls a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Red Dead Redemption so his wife and son can live a normal life all for his wife to die not too soon after and for his son to throw it away to avenge him. Its Prequel Red Dead Redemption 2 ends with its protagonist Arthur Morgan also sacrificing himself for the Marstons to live a normal life. This time it's John who throws it away by avenging Arthur by killing The Mole in the gang. His doing this puts the proto-FBI on his tail which causes the events of the first game.
    • In the final mission before the Epilogue of both games, Edgar Ross leads an army of government men to kill members of the Van der Linde gang at their respective home/hideout. In the first game, it's the U.S. Army attacking Beecher's Hope to kill John with Uncle being an added collateral casualty. In the second game, it's the Pinkerton Detective Agency attacking Beaver Hollow to kill any gang members that haven't already fled or haven't been executed already.
  • Somehow, SEGA has this happen to it repeatedly as far as public reception and sales numbers go. At least three points in its history, SEGA found itself in a position of dominance. Then, as time goes by, the people at SEGA grow complacent and their quality slips, but it still gets good sales due to brand recognition. People realizing the company's products are becoming shoddy and broken eventually catch up to the company, ruining its reputation, and SEGA is forced to go through major corporate restructuring, only to return back to dominance sometime later. The two cycles most familiar to gamers are the period between the 16-bit era and the Dreamcast, where SEGA had to become a 3rd-party developer; and the period between it becoming 3rd-party and the present. There was also a cycle long before this, between 1971 and 1978, when SEGA suffered this via its pinball division: Because the quality was on par with American and European machines at the time and cost less to buy and to play because they were made domestically, SEGA was the force in Japanese pinball. As time went on though, the machines broke down and no one knew how to repair them with SEGA providing no real support. By 1976, SEGA's pinball sales plummeted and it had to leave the market two years later with thousands of broken, unplayable pinball machines in its wake.
  • In Thunder Force V's bad ending, the Guardian begs Cenes to self-destruct her ship, the Vambrace, which is a Sealed Evil in a Can like its predecessor, the Vasteel, warning her that the Vambrace has the potential to cause the same degree of global catastrophe as Vasteel did and that "the tragedy of Vasteel" will repeat. It is implied that this trope happens, as the Vambrace is too crippled to self-destruct.
  • Meta-Example: in 1983 Atari was supposed to sign a deal with Nintendo to help bring the system to North America, but when they found Donkey Kong running on the Coleco vision and felt Nintendo broke the deal. Nintendo then decided to do their own thing and made the NES, and it was massively successful. A few years later Nintendo then chose not to help Sony make a CD-ROM system and Sony decided to start their own playstation, and it was massively successful.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's and Five Nights at Freddy's 2. Night guard fends off killer robots, something happens to shut down the pizzeria, then management tries to revive the pizzeria, starting the cycle again. However, FNAF 2 came first.
    • The third game deconstructs this, as by now everyone knows the horrible atrocities that happened at the pizzerias. But From a Certain Point of View, this trope is still in play, as they reopen it as a horror attraction, with another killer animatronic in it. There's also one more thing that also keeps happening: The Murderer, or Purple Guy as he is depicted in cutscenes, always comes back to the pizzeria if only to kill more kids. And, true to form, he's come to Fazbear's ''Springtrap", the aforementioned animatronic.
    • The fifth and sixth games invoke this to a degree: in Sister Location Circus Baby is revealed to be a product of the Murderer's actions, and the animatronics themselves were going to use the place as a murder house, while in Pizzeria Simulator, Cassette Man deliberately set the pizza place up to lure the killer animatronics in, including the aforementioned Springtrap, then starts his own "accident" to kill them all and free their souls (or in Springtrap's case, give him a taste of Hell).
  • In Star Trek Online, the Klingons make the exact same mistake in the lead-up to the Federation-Klingon War that they made in the lead-up to the Dominion War. They unilaterally invade the Gorn, insisting that the Gorn have been infiltrated by shapeshifters (unlike with the Cardassians, the Gorn actually have been), and then when the Federation doesn't believe them, instead of trying to back up their claims they withdraw from the Khitomer Accords. And just like with the Dominion, this resulted in a Federation-Klingon War that only weakened the quadrant for the inevitable bigger fish. Once again, the Klingons' Honor Before Reason tendencies play right into the hands of a Manipulative Bastard adversary.
    • In-game, this exact scenario repeats itself again on a small scale in the mission "Diplomatic Orders". A Klingon cruiser commander gets information that a Federation diplomat is really an Undine. Does he submit his findings to the Federation? No! He leads a deep-strike into Federation territory to kill the ambassador himself, and instead of coming out firing, he sacrifices the element of surprise to high-handedly demand that the Federation PC hand over the ambassador. The Fed PC reacts surprisingly well to this: instead of just blasting the idiot out of space on sight (remember, the Feds and Klinks have now been at war for four years), he asks to see the Klingon's evidence, and the Klingon instead takes umbrage and attacks, and because he's up against a Plot Armored Player Character he dies completely pointlessly and Starfleet makes the kill against the Undine.
  • Yandere Simulator appears to have this going on: Yandere-chan's mother is said to also be a yandere. Tapes from a former journalist found scattered across the school reveal that a yandere had committed murder at Akademi High while stalking her senpai in the '80s, but managed to escape justice. The basement tape reveals that after the murder trial, the yandere (who shares the same family name as Yandere-chan) kidnapped her senpai and tied him to a chair in her basement, claiming that it was the same chair her mother used for her father...
  • Fire Emblem Fates has a case. Corrin's step-father Sumeragi first met and fell in Love at First Sight with his/her mother Mikoto by a lake. Corrin him/herself meets his/her best friend Azura by a lake, and if male and romancing her, is also suggested to have fallen in Love at First Sight with her.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses:
    • In Part I, you fight the Battle of the Eagle and Lion, an annual mock battle between the houses which takes place on Gronder Field and celebrates the war that led to the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus winning its independence from the Adrestian Empire. After a five-year Time Skip, the house leaders, now the rulers of their respective nations, meet once more on Gronder Field. This time, however, they are not holding a mock battle — they are in the midst of an all-out war.
      Claude: As big class reunions go...this one's gotta be the worst in history.
      Edelgard: Years ago, we fought here as classmates...but not today.
    • In Fódlan's ancient history, two major battles took place on the Tailtean Plains: the final battle of the War of Heroes, where Seiros slew Nemesis, the wielder of the Sword of the Creator, and brought peace to Fódlan, and the final battle of the War of the Eagle and Lion, where the King of Lions Loog defeated the Adrestian emperor of the time to earn independence for the nascent Holy Kingdom of Faerghus. On the Crimson Flower route, Dimitri and Rhea intercept the invading Adrestian army at the Tailtean Plains both hoping to pull a repeat performance against the current emperor Edelgard and the current wielder of the Sword of the Creator Byleth. Sadly for them, it doesn't work out; Dimitri is cut down, while Rhea is driven back to Fhirdiad and slain in a final siege.
  • The Talos Principle: At the entrance of World B, you can find a terminal with a document telling about the Library of Alexandria and the Oxyrhynchus Papyri: many important documents were lost forever when the former was destroyed, while many trivial documents were recovered intact in the latter. The document points out the importance of ensuring our important documents are preserved. Immediately after that, the first terminal you find has a transcription of a song's extremely silly lyrics, and is even completely readable, as opposed to most others documents in the archive, which are either lost to corruption or with missing fragments.
  • At the end of Fatal Fury, Geese Howard dies when he is defeated by Terry Bogard and falls from the top of his tower...or so it seems. In truth, Geese had a magic scroll, one of three that was said to grant immortality, that allowed him to survive the fall. He arranges another tournament later in Real Bout: Fatal Fury after finding and destroying the scrolls so that their power could never be used against him. Once more, Terry and Geese square off at the top of Geese's tower, and once again, Terry defeats Geese. This time, however, Terry tries to save Geese from falling, only for Geese to defiantly refuse and allow himself to fall.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has a variation with Eorzea's cycling Astral and Umbral eras: civilization enters into Golden Age during the Astral eras, then enters decline into a dark age during the Umbral eras. While the timing and length of the eras can vary widely from over thousands of years to less than a decade, the cycles remain a constant.
  • In both Sakura Wars (1996) and Sakura Wars (2019), a demonic menace that threatens to destroy Tokyo leads to the imperial government giving the authorization for one of the Imperial Combat Revue members to lay down their life to perform a ritual that will stop the demons. Both times, the leader of the Revues tells the government where they can shove their authorization and fight to defeat the demons without sacrificing anyone. For bonus points, the would-be sacrificed members are both named Sakura.
  • Myth: The Fallen Lords is set in a dark fantasy world locked in an endless cycle. A hero rises and starts a golden age. After a thousand years, and a transient divinity called The Leveler arises, usually using the Hero as his mortal body, and destroys civilization, ushering in a dark age...until a new Hero rises up to defeat him. The events of the game look to have broken the cycle at last, perhaps destroying The Leveler for good.
  • In the Sly Cooper games, at least two generations of Cooper Gang members had one of them turn rouge and back-stabbed them. For Sly's father, that would be Dr. M, who wanted to steal the contents of the Cooper Vault as revenge, and is implied to have sold out his former friend to Clockwerk and the Fiendish Five. For Sly himself, that would be Penelope, who went insane from greed and power and plotted to murder Sly out of envy.
  • Much of the circumstances surrounding the release and reception of 2011's Ōkamiden would end up paralleling that of 1999's Chrono Cross. Both games were long-awaited sequels to beloved games that were released late into their respective systems' lifespans and commercially underperformed; both sequels were also released on record-breakingly popular systems themselves, with Chrono Cross coming out on the highest-selling home console of its time and Ōkamiden coming out on the highest-selling handheld system of all time (which is also currently the second-best-selling game system overall). Both Ōkamiden and Chrono Cross were critically acclaimed and are considered good games in their own right, but whether or not they were good sequels remains a controversial topic among fans, both due to their predecessors being tough acts to follow and because their attempts to connect themselves to said predecessors were perceived by many as overreaching to the point of invalidating much of the accomplishments made in the first games.
  • The Tomb Raider series features a few examples. For instance, in the Russia chapters during Chronicles, Lara learns about an artifact called the Spear of Destiny, which is supposed to give its bearer and its armies untold power. A group of Nazis who claimed the spear were subjected to the spear's extremely unstable power and the artifact created an explosion that sunk the group's U-boat. Flash forward to the present where Lara finds the spear, is forced to hand it over to Russian mob boss Sergei, and the history repeats from there as the artifact's powers go haywire. Luckily, Lara manages to escape before the submarine explodes and sinks to the ocean bed.
    • Used as a plot point in Legend. Lara notes that many myths and legends share similarities to the legend of King Arthur and his knights. There's a sword in a stone, a heroic leader figure, a mystical advisor and so on. Lara hypothesizes that these myths were actually real, and that that they are all connected in some manner, possibly through the same people (or things) that made the Excalibur swords.
  • Hitting any of the loss conditions in Yggdra Union state that history repeats itself by Yggdra's army falling to the hands of Bronquia, her territory of which she's been trying to re-conquer after her father fell to them. On a greater scale, as happened through Yggdra Unison, Nessiah succeeds in building an army to take on Asgard, which results in another (implied) failure to defy the gods.
  • This is the likely outcome in the Kaiserreich: Legacy of the Weltkrieg. The First Weltkrieg ended with the signing of the Peace With Honor in 1921 when the German Empire managed to defeat all the Entente members in mainland Europe but was unable to successfully invade the British Isles. The Second Weltkrieg could end in a similar way, at least on the Western Front, if the German Empire defeated the Commune of France but again failed to land in Britain. In this case, the Union of Britain and the German Empire will sign the Second Peace With Honor. The in-game message to this will directly refer to this trope: "Is history doomed to repeat itself?".
  • Yakuza series; in the first game, Kiryu takes the heat for a murder he didn't commit, coming out of prison ten years later to find most of his friends and colleagues from the past have moved on or are now openly hostile to him. In the seventh game, Kasuga Ichiban takes the heat for a murder he didn't commit, coming out of prison eighteen years later to find most of his friends and colleagues from the past have moved on or are now openly hostile to him. Bonus points, both of the real culprits were men the two heroes considered Blood Brothers, though Ichiban didn't learn that Masato was the killer until well after the fact while Kiryu knew from the start Nishiki killed Dojima.
  • The bad ending of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow sees this happen. In the past, after the death of his beloved wife, Dracula ended up declaring war on humanity and becoming the villain we know today. In the present, after the (supposed) death of his girlfriend, Soma is driven to claim his inheritance as Dracula's reincarnation and continue his war on humanity.

    Visual Novels 
  • Happens all the time in the Ace Attorney franchise, usually with events resembling an incident from several years before the setting of the game.
    • The first game has this happen twice:
      • Case 3 has a rather ironic example: While working on a movie, action star Jack Hammer kills note  the lover of his director, Dee Vasquez, by impaling him on a nearby fence. Five years later, Hammer is found dead - Vasquez had been blackmailing him over the incident for half a decade, and so Hammer plotted to murder Vasquez, dressing up as his co-star, Will Powers, to frame him. Unfortunately for Hammer, Vasquez fought back and ended up impaling Hammer on the very same fence.
      • One of the most prominent factors present in case 4 is the DL-6 Incident; the murder of Miles Edgeworth's father, defense attorney Gregory Edgeworth in an earthquake-stricken elevator - a murder that Miles witnessed. The prime suspect is the other man in the elevator, bailiff Yanni Yogi, who is testified by Miles to have been fighting Gregory before the attorney's death. However, he is acquitted by his lawyer, Robert Hammond, by reason of insanity. This ruins Yogi's life - he is made a laughingstock, fired from his job, and his fiance, Polly, commits suicide. He exiles himself at a boat shop, with only his parrot to keep him company. 15 years later, Hammond is murdered, and Edgeworth is arrested and prosecuted by his mentor, legendary prosecutor Manfred von Karma, who has not lost a case for 40 years. Phoenix defends his rival, and discovers that Yogi was the true culprit, having discovered the boat shop near the crime scene, and deducing his identity by the name of his parrot: Polly.
      • However, it doesn't end there: For fifteen years, Edgeworth had believed that he was the one who killed his father, and so he confesses it to the court moments after his acquittal for Hammond's murder. Another trial is held, during which it is revealed that von Karma was the one who murdered Edgeworth's father - before his death, Gregory Edgeworth had been the defense attorney for a trial prosecuted by von Karma. Though he lost the case, he managed to blemish von Karma's perfect record by exposing his corrupt ways. After the trial and ensuing earthquake, von Karma found the elevator in which Edgeworth senior had passed out, and was shot in the shoulder by Miles, who had fired Yogi's gun in defense of his father. Understandably pissed off from being shot in the shoulder, he terminated Edgeworth, and took a several-month-long holiday because he refused to have the bullet taken out.note  Ironically, this led to his downfall, as Phoenix reasons that the bullet that hit von Karma is still in his shoulder, and uses a metal detector he acquired earlier to confirm his theory. Thus, after 15 years, the DL-6 Incident finally concluded.

  • Played for Laughs in a Comically Missing the Point way in 8-Bit Theater:
    Red Mage: History can't repeat itself, because that would be a time travel paradox.
  • Used so often in Homestuck that the concept is almost weaponized by the various textual and visual callbacks. Many of these instances, such as stairs, are subject to memery both in-story and out.
  • Polandball: This comic is about the decline and fall of empires. All of them end up in the same way - they beat the enemy, becoming an unanchallenged superpower but also becoming fat and decadent, then get defeated in a battle.
  • One of the core concepts of Sire. The Binding is a mystical force which forces characters descended from characters from classic literature into following their Sire/Dam's fate, complete with consequences set up for those who try to run away from their story. The conflict of the comic is not about avoiding the fates handed to their forebears, but learning from their mistakes and being prepared for when history swoops back around again.
  • Schlock Mercenary: various groups, including the Oafaan Freehold, have figured out that Galactic Civilization rises and falls on an almost regular schedule; but even ordinary characters (such as Landon) have wondered "where is everyone?" Book 19 is starting to answer that question.

    Western Animation 
  • Cartoon Network's Toonami block. When it first premiered, it had limited animation for its CGI hosts, limited budgets to acquire new shows, and suffered tremendously in the ratings departments. It also started to see this pattern again, but due to the parent network's decision to fill the block with constant reruns and only new episodes of Naruto's infamous pre-Shippuden filler arcs. When it came back, Toonami had the same amount of viewership it did in the beginning, very few new ad bumpers, only two new shows, and most of its block consisting of old [adult swim] anime on a constant repeat.
  • In a Company-based example like Nickelodeon, in 2002, we say Steve from Blue's Clues goodbye (although Blue's Clues is a Nick Jr. show, but still) because he is going to College. In the 2020s, we would say Lori from The Loud House goodbye because she is going to College, this Foreshadowing a hypothetical Rom-Com spin-off starring her and Bobby.
  • A rather serious version of this is revealed in the Big City Greens episode "Family Legacy"; every generation, the Greens' farmhouse faces some sort of disaster or faulty that results in it about to be sold, demolished, etc. To stop this, the kids have to convince their adult guardians to not give up. They then place a key artifact into a suitcase buried in the backyard for their future members to find and gain hope to keep the farm's legacy alive. This becomes a major plot point in "Chipocalypse Now", where all of Elkins Street is being demolished by Chip Whistler and the Greens have to fight for what's right once more before they lose their legacy forever.
  • Cartoon Planet's original '90s incarnation was cancelled after 22 episodes. A modern version of Cartoon Planet was brought back early in the year of what would be Cartoon Network's 20th anniversary, only to once again be removed from the schedule after 22 episodes. However, it came back a month afterward, just in time for the actual month of the anniversary, and ran for another two years with a total of 124 episodes.
  • This trope is a central theme of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, with the Arc Words of the first season being "This has all happened before." It's revealed that the current Mystery Incorporated are just the latest in a long line of mystery-solvers with an animal mascot, and every single one of their predecessors was driven mad by the Artifact of Doom that they're hunting.
  • In the South Park episode "Something You Can Do With Your Finger," Stan gets a nasty reaction from his father Randy when he and his friends decide to start a boy band, and Randy opposes it vehemently throughout the whole episode. It turns out Randy was afraid that this trope would happen—he has previously been in a boy band, and while they enjoyed success at first, his life, and those of his bandmates', spiraled into total despair when the fad for them had passed. Luckily, Stan and the others bailed out before anything bad could happen.
  • Adventure Time:
    • The end of "Lemonhope" implies that the Land of Ooo will eventually destroy itself just like humanity did.
    • "Evergreen" shows that the time before the mass extinction of the dinosaurs was not unlike "modern"-day Ooo.
    • This is actually touched upon during Marceline's confrontation with the Vampire King in "Checkmate".
      Vampire King: I know I was ruthless in the past. But tell me, what's the one thing you've noticed about the world since you beat me all those hundreds of years ago?
      Marceline: Everything repeats over and over again. No one learns anything, 'cause no one lives long enough to see the pattern, I guess.
  • Wakfu: When Adamai is horrified by Qilby's plan to drain the World of Twelve of its wakfu to power up the Zinit for another trip to the cosmos, Qilby is not surprised. He claims that Adamai and Yugo have not changed since their previous incarnations. As much as he wishes things would be different this time, his long immortal existence has taught him that history repeats endlessly.
  • Batman Beyond: "Inqueling" is similar to "Ascension" because each episode features a villain being double-crossed by their own offspring; said offspring justifying this by how the villain treated them; and Batman telling the offspring not to be sure the villain is really dead. "Ascension" features Paxton Powers betraying his father Derek to become the new CEO of Wayne-Powers and "Inqueling" features Deanna killing her mother Inque to steal her money. Inque survives but it's not known what happens to Deanna as a consequence of this.
  • Big City Greens: The episode "Family Legacy" reveals a big part of the Green family that has been in their heritage for years — every generation, their home is threatened to be sold by the current matriarch under negative reasons, so the children have to do something to encourage their old folks to not give up on their place. This gives the elders hope, and choose to keep the farm alive; the children then place a key artifact from their past in a special suitcase they bury in the backyard, which serves as a warning to their future relatives to protect their legacy when the time comes again.
  • The episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series that explained The Kingpin's Start of Darkness showed how young Willie took the heat for his father's crimes, and, after amassing enough resources to become a powerful crime boss, killed his father out of vengeance. At the end of the episode, Wilson's own son takes the fall for his father's crimes, leaving him to wonder if history will repeat.
  • As pointed out on the Fridge page of Dexter's Laboratory: Ego Trip, the four Dexters are an excellent case of "those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it" in one person. None of the older Dexters will ever remember that Dee Dee was actually the one to save the world because their egos will not let them remember that, and will insist that they were the ones to save the world, thus dooming themselves into repeating the actions they did in the movie. The 'main' Dexter is excused because this is his first time experiencing it, and technically the oldest one can be excused on the grounds of senility.
  • In 2004, Cartoon Network premiered Megas XLR, an animated show about a Freudian Trio commanding a Humongous Mecha to protect the city they lived in from alien invaders. While it received positive reception, it was ultimately canceled after a little over 20 episodes, with Cartoon Network then writing it off (meaning that they're no longer able to legally air it in any format). Roughly five years later, the channel started airing Sym-Bionic Titan, another show where a Freudian Trio uses a giant robot to protect the city they live in from alien invaders...and while it also received acclaim, after it aired a little over twenty episodes, CN proceeded to screw it over in the exact same way they screwed over Megas.
  • The Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1 finale "No Small Parts" has the Cerritos crew deal with the same problems prior Starfleet crews have dealt with in the past — the Landru computer had once again taken control over Beta III, and the Pakleds have stolen even more dangerous technology than before. As Mariner pointed out, none of this would have happened if Starfleet didn't just move on from their observations without occasionally checking back in on the cultures they helped.

    Real Life 
  • Hitler just never learned from Napoleon's mistakes when he tried to conquer Russia. The Nazis ended up meeting the same outcome of this attempted invasion as did Napoleon's army.
    • Before Napoleon, there was Charles XII of Sweden. Starting a land war in Russia is only a good idea if you can keep the supplies flowing, and every time the Russians defeated the invaders by doing the same thing: Salting the fields, torching the harvest, and retreating until the invading army outran their supply lines, which was invariably hastened by the coming of winter.
    • Contrary to popular belief, invasions of Russia haven't always been unsuccessful; the Mongols conquered the first Russian state, and the Poles briefly ruled the country, taking advantage of a leadership vacuum, during the Time of Troubles. Similarly Japan decisively beat Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and Germany was able to impose humiliating terms in World War I.
    • The 1941 German invasion was also more of a mixed bag compared to Napoleon's one; the Soviets knew they could not simply retreat from their western provinces because of the industries that had been developed in those territories during the intervening years, and fought the Nazis continuously in an attempt to slow them down. The winter ironically helped the Germans because panzers are more maneuverable over frozen lands than muddy ones. The resulting stalemate by the end of the year meant the war would inevitably drag on for several more before the Russians could fully repel the invaders.
    • Contrary to popular belief, the worst thing for logistics in Russia actually isn't winter (when most roads are frozen solid and passable for tracked vehicles or all terrain trucks) but "Rasputitsya" or "mud season" during Spring and Autumn when all roads turn to, well, mud making them virtually impassable.
  • The Holocaust serves as a staunch reminder that if we don't learn from tragedies like this one, history will be doomed to repeat itself. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have seen fit to tell that to the DPRK (though it's probably because North Korea is backed by Communist China, and any attempt to rectify the situation could start World War III).
  • In 1904, Japan started a war with Russia by launching a surprise attack on Russia's naval facilities in Port Arthur, without issuing a declaration of war. Almost forty years later, Japan would attack the naval base at Pearl Harbor without issuing a declaration of war first. Notably, however, the second part of the story, in which Japan fought a world power to a standstill, would not repeat.
  • The Watts Riots occurred in Los Angeles after an African-American motorist out on parole for robbery was pulled over for speeding and was subsequently the victim of Police Brutality. 27 years later, the exact same scene would play out, causing the Rodney King riots.
  • Some historical and philosophical schools follow this line of thought, in contrast to those stating the case for some form of progress.
    • Giambattista Vico argued that human history moves through cycles flowing from a Theocratic Age (where religion is an active presence in society and politics) to an Aristocratic Age (where kingdoms are an active presence in society and politics) to a Democratic Age, before returning back to Chaos. He noted that the main reason history repeats is because people refuse to consider how different the past is from the present, unironically accepting Roman civilization as an inspiration while ignoring all its flaws and defects.
    • The other school of thought that came in the 20th Century is the "longue durée" and the overlapping but separate discipline of structuralism which argues that history is not actually made by "great men" and great events but underlying structures and environmental factors. History seems to repeat when we focus on individual cycles of Kings and Wars because the structures in which they operate only allow a few set of scenarios to play out. Real non-repeating history happens when that structure is changed and altered forcefully.
    • The school of traditionalism states the same as they adopt the cyclical view of Hinduism. Sometimes, this is seen as a form of war of forces behind the scenes and all possible Ages are basically one side of this war gaining the upper hand.
  • In a strange way, all six of Henry VIII's wives fall into this category:
    • Divorced: Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves, the two wives that Henry divorced, were the only two wives who had titles of their own anyway, and both eventually died of cancer. Also, they lived to the oldest ages out of the six; Catherine was 50, and Anne was 41 when they died. Making the similarity even more bizarre, both spent the final years of their lives with Henry classifying them as sisters of a sort; Catherine had been married to Henry's brother Arthur before Arthur's death, so Henry classified her as his widowed sister-in-law, and Anne was treated as an honorary sister due to the agreement she had made with Henry when the marriage was dissolved (though the latter lived out her days in better conditions due to her acceptance of the separation).
    • Beheaded: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were cousins who both lost their lives on adultery and treason charges.
    • Died/Survived: Jane Seymour and Catherine Parr, respectively. Jane was Queen for over a year before she died from puerperal fever, and Catherine only survived Henry for over a year before she too died from the same fever. It's even stranger when you realise that their children did not live to adulthood; Edward VI died in his teens, and it is generally agreed that Mary Seymour did not live past the age of two.
  • In 1972, Benjamin Bradlee was the editor-in-chief of The Washington Post, and oversaw the investigative reporting by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein into the Watergate burglary, triggering the biggest scandal in American history. Thirty years later, his son, Ben Bradlee Jr., was an editor at The Boston Globe and oversaw the investigation into another major American scandal: that of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church. Both stories got film adaptations, too: Watergate got All the President's Men, and the Catholic sex abuse scandal got Spotlight.
  • The page quote is from Marx' work "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon", which invokes this trope in the description of a coup d'etat of a Bonaparte against a weak unpopular French Republic.
  • When the first Star Wars film, A New Hope, was shooting in Tunisia, the crew experienced severe rainstorms in a sub-Saharan region where it rarely rains. More than 20 years later, when they returned to Tunisia to film The Phantom Menace, they faced severe rain storms once again.
  • When John Lennon saw for the first time a picture of Yasuda Zenjirō, who was Yoko Ono's great-grandfather, he supposedly said "that's me in a former life", to which she responded "don't say that. He was assassinated". Come 1980, and what would the tragic fate of John Lennon be?
  • Many a generation, when it grows old, complains about the next generation, how easier they have it and claim things were better in the good old days. This is known as Juvenoia.
  • The French Revolution of 1832 (the one that Les Misérables revolves around). Many of the revolutionaries were looking back at recent French history, and the sequence of events involved: To begin with, an all-powerful King. An attempt is made to limit his power but this gets radicalised to the extent that they commit regicide and proclaim a republic. The republic is unable to settle on a stable system of government until a leading military figure stages a coup and seizes power. After initial success, this regime also collapses and the monarchy is restored. The new king rules with success but is succeeded by a brother who badly mishandles his inheritance, which was the situation in 1832. The solution, the revolutionaries decided, was to overthrow the new king and replace him with another from a cadet branch of the royal family. Why? Well, at least in part, because this was what the English had done in 1688, at the end of exactly the same sequence of events.
  • In 2001, the Pepsi 400, Daytona's summer night race, was the first race in the NBC half of the NASCAR season, in the first year of a five year broadcast deal that split coverage between Fox and NBC[[note]]under this deal, Fox covered the first half of the NASCAR season, and NBC covered the second half. When it came to the Daytona races, Fox hosted the Daytona 500 in odd-numbered years and NBC in even-numbered years, and the inverse for the Pepsi 400. The race was won by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with his DEI teammate Michael Waltrip finishing second in what was considered an emotional victory for their team as it was the first race at Daytona since Dale Earnhardt's death in the Daytona 500 that February.note  14 years later, the 2015 season saw an almost repeat of this situation: the Coke Zero 400 was the first race on the NBC portion of the season in a new broadcast contract that divided coverage between Fox and NBCnote . Once again, NBC coverage of the season started with the Daytona night race, and once again, it was won by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson finishing second.
  • The Chechnya Wars trace their foundations back to the 18th Century when the region was conquered by Tsarist Russia and it turned into an Old West-like lawless hellhole rife with bandits and the local resistance was a theocracy ran by an iman named Shamil just before the Russians conquered it. Fast-forward to the fall of the Soviet Union, Chechnya was one of the first republics to declare independence, but it wasn't recognized by Russian Federation. War breaks out, terrorists swarm the land under the leadership of an Islamist militant named Shamil Basayev aiming to create an independent Caucasian Emirate. Chechnya would eventually come back into the Russian fold after Shamil's death.
  • A particularly tragic example: on February 11, 2012, Whitney Houston died when a mix of heart disease and cocaine use made her pass out in a full bathtub and drown. Almost exactly three years later, on January 31, 2015, her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown was found unconscious and underwater in her own bathtub, also apparently from drug use; while she didn't die then, she suffered brain damage that left her comatose until she was taken off life support six months later.
  • Zig-zagged example. During the period between the primaries and the Democratic National Convention in 1988, Massachusetts Governor and Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis attempted in invoke this with his choice of Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen as his running mate to challenge the Republican nominee, incumbent Vice-President George H. W. Bush while trying to make a connection (as was referenced in both Dukakis' and Bentsen's speeches) with the 1960 campaign when Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy chose a running mate from Texas (Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson) who - like Bentsen - was also up for re-election to the Senate to go up against the incumbent Republican Vice-President (in that case, Richard Nixon); eventually becoming victorious over Nixon. 1988 matched 1960 in terms of the Republican nominee's office, the states of the Democratic ticket and even the Texas Senator being re-elected except for the outcome of the Presidential election, which saw Bush blow out Dukakis by 8 points in the popular vote to go with a 426-111note  Electoral College landslide.
  • In 2009, Warner Bros. reissued The Dark Knight in theaters so the DC Comics adaptation could get the final millions that would make the total gross break a billion dollars. In 2019, Disney reissued Avengers: Endgame in theaters so the Marvel Comics adaptation could get the final millions that would make the total gross break the $2,788 billion made by Avatar.
  • Heavy Executive Meddling from a movie studio (including bringing in a new director to reshoot large parts of it) resulting in a drastically altered film featuring Superman being released in theaters, and a director's cut from the original director being released outside theaters later on. That happened with Superman II (which got its approximate Richard Donner cut released on home video over three decades later) and Justice League (with Zack Snyder's director's cut going to HBO Max three years and a half after the theatrical release).
  • Van Halen's last album before David Lee Roth left, 1984, peaked at #2 in the United States, held off by the Michael Jackson's Thriller and its record 37 weeks at number one. Nearly 30 years later, the band did another album with Roth, A Different Kind of Truth, and again it was only #2 behind a record run, namely the 24 weeks of Adele's 21 (the best ever for a female artist).
  • United States president Donald Trump would experienced many of the same scandals as fellow Republican president George H. W. Bush nearly 30 years earlier. The most notable ones for both presidents involved controversial Supreme Court appointments and reactions to Police Brutality protests. Both would end up losing re-election with Trump becoming the first one-term president since Bush himself.
    • In 1991, Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court as a replacement for outgoing justice Thurgood Marshall. Thomas would be a controversial pick from the start due to his conservative political views, and would become even more controversial after being accused of sexual misconduct by a coworker. However, the accusations would end up falling flat outside of liberal circles due to a perceived lack of sufficient evidence and Thomas became a Supreme Court justice anyways after a narrow 52-48 vote. Despite this, the fiasco surrounding Thomas would put a big dent in President Bush's reputation, with critics viewing him as apathetic at best towards women's rights and and the GOP suffering a major defeat in the next election, with Bush himself losing his bed for re-election. In 2018, Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as a replacement for outgoing justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh would be a controversial pick from the start due to his conservative political views, and would become even more controversial after being accused of sexual misconduct by a high school classmate. However, Kavanaugh would end up becoming a Supreme Court justice anyways after a narrow 50-48 votenote . Despite this, the fiasco surrounding Kavanaugh would put a big dent in President Trump's reputation, with critics viewing him as apathetic at best towards women's rights and the GOP suffering a major defeat in the next election, losing the House of Representatives and inadvertently aiding in his 2019 impeachment, though this was subverted somewhat in the Senate, with the Republicans getting a net gain of 2 seats due to the fact that Democrats were defending a large number of seats in red states that year. Furthering the similarity, Thomas' accuser openly compared her situation to that of Kavanaugh's accuser in a 2018 op-ed.
    • During the last year of Bush's first term, civil unrest broke out when a resurfaced video showed the LAPD beating an unarmed African-American man, Rodney King. While Bush condemned the police beating of King, he spent more time criticizing rioters and calling for law and order instead of trying to understand the underlying socioeconomic causes of the unrest, making him seem insensitive towards the racial injustice experienced by African-Americans. During the last year of Trump's first term, civil unrest broke out when a resurfaced video showed the Minneapolis Police killing an unarmed African-American man, George Floyd. While Trump condemned the police killing of George Floyd, he spent more time criticizing protestors and calling for law and order instead of trying to understand the underlying socioeconomic causes of the unrest, making him seem insensitive towards the racial injustice experienced by African-Americans. Furthering the similarity, Bill Barr served as Attorney General for both presidents and was criticized for using the same hardline approach in both protests.
  • Both the Yellow Turban Rebellion of 184-205 and the Taiping Rebellion of 1850-64 were incredibly bloody Chinese civil wars started by disgruntled young intellectuals who became religious cult leaders after failing their civil service exams and lead to the fall of corrupt and decadent imperial dynasties (in the case of the Taiping Rebellion for the very last time). The current Chinese government's viciously aggressive, often outright genocidal attitude toward religious minorities and political dissidents is at least partly due to being Genre Savvy about this.
  • In 1984, the incumbent Republican U.S. president faced off against the previous Democratic president's vice president. In 2020, the incumbent Republican president faced off against the previous Democratic president's vice president. The outcomes were wildly different. Walter Mondale lost by a landslide to Reagan in 1984, winning only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia. Joe Biden won the 2020 election, one of the few presidential candidates to defeat an incumbent and won the largest number of popular votes in the history of the country.
  • The 2020 U.S. presidential election had some other parallels:
    • In 1932, Herbert Hoover, the incumbent Republican president, was defeated for reelection amid an economic downturn. In 1992, George H. W. Bush, the incumbent Republican president, was defeated for reelection amid an economic downturn. In 2020, Donald Trump, the incumbent Republican president, was defeated for reelection amid an economic downtown.
    • In 1980, Jimmy Carter, the unpopular incumbent president, was defeated for reelection due to simultaneous mounting crises. In 2020, Donald Trump, the unpopular incumbent president, was defeated for reelection due to simultaneous mounting crises.
    • In 1968, Richard Nixon, a previous president's vice president, was elected to president. In 1988, George H. W. Bush, a previous president's vice president, was elected to president. In 2020, Joe Biden, a previous president's vice president, was elected to president.
    • In 1960, an Irish Catholic hailing from the northeastern part of the country was elected president in the first year of the decade. In 2020, an Irish Catholic hailing from the northeastern part of the country was elected president in the first year of the decade.
  • During the 1960s, a US president from Texas became involved in an unpopular war that devolved into a quagmire and ended up overshadowing his presidency. In the 2000s, another US president from Texas became involved in another unpopular war that devolved into a quagmire and ended up overshadowing his presidency.
  • In 2008, Republican U.S. congressman Steve Pearce of New Mexico's 2nd congressional district retired to run for an open U.S. Senate seat, and the blue wave that followed swept Democrat Harry Teague into the seat. 2010 proved to be a much more favorable year for Republicans across the country, and Teague lost his seat to a returning Pearce. In 2018, Pearce retired once again to run for the open Governor's seat, and the blue wave that followed swept Democrat Xochitl Torres Small into the seat. 2020 proved to be a much more favorable year for Republicans across the country, and Small lost her seat to Republican Yvette Herrell.
  • 2008 and 2018 both saw Democratic congressmen unexpectedly winning congressional seats based in heavily Republican Staten Island (Michael McMahon and Max Rose, respectively). 2010 and 2020 both saw them getting kicked out after one term.
  • Stop if you've heard this one before. A U.S. senator sits in a closely divided swing state and is challenged by the popular governor of the opposite party. While the senator has the incumbency advantage and the historical lean of the seat in their favor, the governor's party was at that point the more dominant of the two in statewide politics. The race comes down to the wire, and, by a very narrow margin, the governor wins. Are we talking about New Hampshire in 2016 or Florida in 2018?
  • The COVID-19 Pandemic bears a scarily striking similarity with The Spanish Flu. Not only did both spread around the world at an alarming rate, the government and the public's response to the pandemics were apathetic at best (pretended it didn't exist, continued going on with their daily routines, etc) and grossly negligent at worst (large gatherings, protested the use of masks, etc). Conspiracy theories on how the pandemics began and who was responsible for them were also common in both pandemics. There was also pressure from people to reopen businesses and cities in spite of the pandemics, which caused a second wave of outbreaks to occur and one that had hit much harder than the first wave.

Alternative Title(s): History Repeats Itself


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