Follow TV Tropes


In Medias Res

Go To

"That is the heart of it. Now begin in the middle, and later learn the beginning; the end will take care of itself."

"Into the middle of things" — taken from the poet Horace, this refers to the technique of beginning a narrative poem at a late point in the story, after much action has already taken place. Homer makes use of this in The Iliad, making this trope Older Than Feudalism — and Aristotle diagnosed it in Poetics, making it one of the first identified tropes.

When used in TV it's generally a preamble to a Flashback which falls under How We Got Here — where the action starts at the middle or end of the story and quickly flashes back to the real beginning.

In medias res is a quick and easy way to have an action sequence at the beginning of an episode; for this and related tricks, see Action Prologue. Both in medias res and Action Prologue are also quite common in Video Games for the same reason, and to allow the player to get into the actual gameplay fairly quickly without them having to sit through long expository cut-scenes.

This is a very common trope for biographies — specifically the author will start with a taste of some part of the subject's life that everyone's familiar with, then jump back to the mundanities of their heritage and upbringing.

Frequently, the first act of an in medias res opening will end with a situation that looks like it will lead to the death of a major character. It usually doesn't.

See Lost in Medias Res for what happens when this is done badly. Compare Anachronic Order.

Often inspires someone later on to remark: "Isn't this where we came in?"

Click here for a self-demonstrating version of this page.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The anime for Ascendance of a Bookworm technically begins some point during the second major arc of the story before flashing back to the beginning. While Myne is shown in the clothes of a priestess during the introductory scene, we see her begin life as a peasant and eventually works her way up to a merchant before moving into the temple for health reasons.
  • In the Asteroid in Love manga, the way Mira and Ao met as children is narrated in the middle of the first chapter, as Mira explains in Present Day why she wants to discover an asteroid. The anime, on the other hand, moves it to the front, making it a case of A Minor Kidroduction.
  • The Marley Arc on Attack on Titan, opens up with a battle using World War I style trench warfare taking place somewhere else in the world, introduces a brand new set of characters fighting in it, and establishes that there has been a Timeskip of 4 years since the last chapter.
  • Berserk (moreso in the manga than the anime adaptation) starts after Guts already started his quest to hunt down his nemesis Griffith. It isn't until the end of the first story arc than the manga flashes back to the beginning shows everything that led to Guts' hatred for Griffith.
  • Nelvana was the company responsible for dubbing Cardcaptor Sakura into English, where it was re-titled Cardcaptors. While the series aired normally in Canada, when it aired in America, the series began with episode 8, which was Syaoran/Showron's first appearance. This was part of a push to cater the series to the boys and downplay the series' focus as girl's series.
    • The manga beings in the middle of Sakura capturing the Jump Card (already having recovered Windy and Wood), and then flashes back to her discovery of the book later. It should be noted that the original Anime begins before this flashback ever takes place.
  • The first episode of Digimon Frontier is this. At the start, we see Takuya desperately running towards something. When he's almost hit by a truck, the clock winds back to show how he got his Call to Adventure.
  • The Funimation dub of Dragon Ball GT originally started halfway through Episode 16 with a dub-only episode called "A Grand Problem", which summed up why Goku was a child again, why they were fighting robots on another planet and other such details through a series of flashbacks.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist starts in the middle of the brothers' search for the Philosopher's Stone, with the manga occasionally having extra omake chapters that describe short events that happened during their journey before the start of the series.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) begins in the middle of the Elrics' journey, with the actual introduction happening in the third episode and several more episodes of flashback until it catches up to where they were at the end of the first two episodes.
  • Ga-Rei -Zero-: OK, so supernatural monsters are rampaging through Tokyo. They're immune to bullets. So, this uber-cool elite team of anti-supernatural soldiers jump into the action and finish the monsters. And that's the end of Episode 1. It's not. Right at the end of the first episode, they all got killed by a katana-wielding schoolgirl. Who is one of the two real protagonists of this series.... What the heck is going on here?
  • Getter Robo Armageddon begins with Ryoma Nagare in prison for murder He was framed as part of an Evil Plan, two main characters already dead, various different types of Getter Robos already designed, built and mass produced; a mad scientist threatening the world with his ultimate creation, and an entire lengthy war against an alien menace that had been presumably won Not.
    • Which is only fitting since the OVA is a sequel to a Japan only Radio Drama. But there are still some plot points that get explained in flashbacks.
  • The Gintama anime starts with a crazy misadventure that doesn't introduce the characters though show how crazy the show is. The next ep starts the show proper from the beginning.
  • Goodbye, My Rose Garden begins at the end of the first chapter, in which English noblewoman Alice asks her maid Hanako to kill her. It then shifts back to the start of the story, with Hanako starting work as a maid for Alice, before having a flashback to when Hanako met Alice while requesting a meeting with the author Victor Franks. After a few scenes, Alice makes Hanako a deal- she will introduce her to Victor Franks if Hanako agrees to kill her, resulting in the story catching up to the first scene.
  • Guardian Fairy Michel begins with the Black Hammer Gang stealing a diamond from a museum. Kim's backstory is explored in other episodes.
  • The first episode of the Gungrave anime starts off almost at the exact middle of the series chronologically, with Brandon/Beyond the Grave protecting Mika from a few zombie hoards. After that, it suddenly goes back to the beginning and turns from a sci-fi action series to a mafia drama as it goes into Brandon and Harry's backstories and how they became a superpowered revenant and the Big Bad, respectively.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry has the decency to give a blunt heads-up as to the amount of Mind Screw in store through the series, by opening on a full dose of improper anger management and furniture destruction. This also serves as an R-Rated Opening to drive the point home that this show is not for kids despite most of the first episode feeling more like a slice-of-life comedy than a supernatural mystery or psychological horror.
  • Episode 0 of How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend does this. It briefly shows off the various characters in the show and what their relationship is like with the protagonist Tomoya. Episode 1 then starts the story at the beginning. Chronologically, Episode 0 takes place just before the ending of Episode 12, as they took a trip to the woods and a hot springs hotel to help inspire them with ideas for the game Tomoya wants to make.
  • The insane Widget Series Ippatsu Kiki Musume uses this to amusing effect. The protagonist Kunyan always starts off each episode in some insane predicament (such as trapped in a sauna, or wedged between two buildings several stories up), and part of the humor comes from going back and seeing exactly how she got there in the first place.
  • The last story arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind is a flashback to shortly before Giorno joins the gang, showing the members of Bucciarati's gang tracking down a stand user that predicts Bucciarati's, and later Abbacchio and Narancia's, death, before going back, at the very end, to the conclusion of the story proper.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen begins with Gojo informing Itadori of his planned execution. It's also an example of the story starting from the near-beginning than the middle, where the situation is explained by the start of the second episode.
  • Laid-Back Camp starts with Nadeshiko and her friends roasting marshmallows over a campfire, but subsequently deals with the events that lead Nadeshiko and Rin to meet in the first place.
  • March Comes in Like a Lion begins when Rei is already living on his own and has already met the Kawamoto family. The early portion of the story alternates between the present and several flashbacks showing how he met the Kawamoto sisterss and how he got to where he is in life, before almost fully devoting itself to the present-day plot.
  • The anime adaptation of The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar starts the story after the protagonist, Yuuto Suou has been the patriarch of the wolf-clan for several years, and slowly reveals how he got that way over an extended series of flashbacks as the story unfolds.
  • Naruto Shippuuden starts the entire series off In Medias Res, the first 5 minutes of the first episode don't come until about 40 episodes later.
  • The Zou Arc in One Piece starts in medias res twice thanks to the Straw Hats arriving on Zou in two waves. The first time we see Zou, no context is given for anything as the Curly Hats are shown pursuing a squirrel-person and fighting a strange pirate. The rest of the Straw Hats arrive a little over a week later, and not only are there flashbacks about the context of the first scene, but it turns out that Sanji went missing in the time between when the two groups of Straw Hats got to Zou. There's so many flashbacks that there's not actually a whole lot of present-day conflict in the arc.
    • The anime itself begun like this, where in the first episodes, Luffy helped Coby Took a Level in Badass and helps him become a Marine, and him recruiting Zoro from his execution. Luffy's origins aren't explored till the fourth episode which shows how Luffy became a pirate and got his Devil Fruit. Averted in the manga where the fourth episode is actually adapted from the very first chapter.
  • In an episode of Ouran High School Host Club, The Chessmaster Kyoya wakes up sitting on a bench at a "commoner" shopping mall, all alone, with no money, and no clue how he landed there. Half an episode is then spent on figuring that out.
  • Pokémon showed a "special preview episode" in the very first American run of the series; however, the series itself has a standard Welcome Episode. This would not be the only time 4Kids would air a mid-story episode as a preview: Magical DoReMi was previewed with the 4th episode (where Doremi [Dorie], Hazuki [Reanne] and Aiko [Mirabelle] become witch apprentices [witchlings]), and Winx Club was previewed with a episode from late in the first season, before then airing the proper premiere at the start of the regular run.
    • Pokémon did it for a while in the beginning of Diamond and Pearl, as well.
  • Doubly subverted (or played straight, depending on how you look at it) in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The first episode begins with an exciting battle scene, but that turns out to be All Just a Dream. The rest of Episode 1 and the next several episodes tell the story in a linear fashion, with an occasional flashback. Episode 10 explains Homura's backstory, and how and why she's looping through time. The first episode was not the start of the story; it was only the start of the current timeline. The beginning battle scene from the first episode was not a dream; it really happened in a previous timeline.
  • Record of Lodoss War does this with the first episode, and introduces the characters and plot in the second episode. With the exception of the narrated opening sequence on the War of the Gods, the plot of the episode takes place between Episodes 5 and 6. This really wasn't intentional. They produced the action-packed fifth episode first to convince backers to finance more, then produced the rest of the story, as the chronologically-first episode wasn't as exciting. For some reason DVD releases have kept the episodes in production order.
  • The anime film REDLINE opens in the middle of the final qualifier for the largest race in the galaxy. JP (the main character) already has established relationships with his mechanic and junk dealer. He's also recently out of prison; the race he is competing in at the start of the film he is racing in for his bail bonds. There are flashbacks throughout the movie, most brief in nature, showing how JP knows various side characters that show up throughout the film.
  • The American DiC dub premiere of Sailor Moon was another special preview episode, which was actually the first episode of the R series. It featured all five Senshi (unlike the real first episode) but could still serve as somewhat of an introduction.
  • The anime adaptation of School-Live! begins when Miki is already a part of the club. She didn't appear in the manga until six chapters in. In the anime, her introduction scenes are made into flashbacks.
  • Shamanic Princess drops the viewer into the action with little explanation, and then shows the circumstances that caused the plot to occur as a 2 part Origins Episode after the conclusion.
  • A Timid Woman Longing For Her Delivery Girl begins with Takase getting a package from Rinko, whom she is rather happy to see. It then goes back to several weeks ago, and after a brief flashback to Takase quitting her old job, shows when Takase first met Rinko and was still wary of her before gradually showing them becoming friends..
  • Tokyo Majin starts off the first episode with the team fighting off a horde of zombies. The next few show them first meeting up and getting the powers with which to slay the demons for the rest of the series.
  • The US dub of the Viewtiful Joe anime began airing with Episode 5, which introduced Junior. The actual first episodes were aired as a special later on.
  • The Wandering Son anime adaptation begins four volumes in, almost five since it begins at the very end of Volume 4. It completely ignored the elementary portion and skipped straight to when the characters begin middle school. This creates a problem as there was a lot of character development and relationship building in the first few volumes, and the anime instead opted to drop it on new viewers heads without much explanation.
  • As opposed to the manga and first anime, Yu-Gi-Oh! did this by beginning the series with Yugi already solving the Millennium Puzzle and having Yami Yugi merged with him, with later episodes filling in the gaps. Part of the reason this was done was, not unlike the case for the Fullmetal Alchemist animes, the first anime had already covered the events of the first seven volumes of the manga, and the second begun during the eighth during the Duelist Kingdom arc. As a result, the more important arcs from the early volumes were instead covered later as streamlined versions, while the story of Yugi solving the Puzzle was almost entirely skipped. In fact, that actual scene of Yugi solving it wouldn't even be shown until The Movie.
  • Yuri is My Job! begins with a scene of Hime and her coworkers at work in Liebe Girls' Academy Salon, where they roleplay as members of an all-girls school while serving customers, while some reporters are visiting. Surprisingly, it turns out that this scene takes place around the start of Volume 9, rather than relatively early on in the series.

    Asian Animation 
  • The first episode of BoBoiBoy beings with a scene of BoBoiBoy being chased by Probe, the theme song plays, and the episode goes normally, reaching that scene again later on.
  • Season 3 Episode 35 of Happy Heroes begins with Big M. visiting a gravestone he's erected in memory of Little M., shows what happened to the latter character that led to that (he wasn't able to escape a prison fast enough and got locked in, leaving him with a bunch of cops who had been trying to shoot him and Big M.), and then continues the story from where it had began.

    Audio Plays 
  • 36 Questions begins with some short recordings of Natalie and her husband Jase, before cutting to "Natalie" explaining that her real name is Judith, and she has been lying to her husband for two years. It isn't until the Second Act that we get a real explanation to what happened between those recordings, or why it happened.

    Comic Books 

In General:

  • It's common for comics to have a variant called the Batman Cold Open. The difference is that the Batman Cold Open is generally some unrelated crime that we never really get any explanation on, whereas In Medias Res revolves around getting to where we are. Then there are the issues that open with Batman fighting the Demon's Head. Which are In Medias Ra's.
  • Dennis Hopeless is fond of this trope. Both Avengers Arena and Cable and X-Force, first and second issues released on the same days as each other, start this way.
  • Christopher Priest loves this technique, and once opened a Black Panther comic this way, along with a caption that said, "in medias res: Latin for 'not boring'."

By Work:

  • In All Fall Down, the story begins with superheroes already falling out of the sky.
  • Assassin's Creed: Brahman open with Jot Soora kidnapped by the Assassins and put into the Brahman device to relive his ancestors memories before cutting back a week to show how he became involved in the Assassin-Templar conflict.
  • All-Out Avengers: Every issue starts midway through the Avengers' battle with a new threat. There's no How We Got Here flashback, and previous events are established purely through dialogue. However, it's also made clear that this isn't just a narrative device - the heroes know what's already happened, but don't directly remember it. As the series goes on, this aspect becomes more prominent and the unseen narrator's attempts to hide it with Laser-Guided Amnesia start to fail.
  • Batman:
    • Batman: Black and White: "Night After Night" has a variation. The events of the story proceed in chronological order, but it begins with Bruce dreaming of the night his parents died, starting halfway through the dream and with his mother halfway through a sentence, and ends with him having the same dream again, stopping halfway through a sentence at the exact point in the dream where the story started.
    • Batwoman (Rebirth) begins six weeks into Kate Kane and Julia Pennyworth's hunt for a new bioweapon and its suppliers, without first showing their initial meeting or prior missions.
    • In Batgirl Year One:
      • The first issue begins with Barbara Gordon facing Killer Moth and his goons. From that point onward, the story alternates "How-we-got-here" flashbacks with fight scenes for two issues.
      • Issue #6 starts with Batgirl and Black Canary trying to botch James Gordon's kidnapping. The next scenes cut to Killer Moth and his partner plotting and carrying out James' kidnapping, and then the story cuts back to both heroines giving chase.
  • Isola begins two days after Queen Olwyn's transformation into a tiger, with her and Captain Rook already on the move. It's not until a few chapters in that the incident is shown via flashback.
  • Nightwing: The first issue started with the title hero drowning in a different city from Gotham, having suffered a haircut (at the time, he'd had the Dread Mullet). The rest of the comic set up the reason he was there and gave him a reason to stick around in the new city.
  • Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman: "Rogue to Riches" starts with Reid in his truck, hurtling through the air over the dairy, on the way to apparent death.
  • The first issue of Spider-Man 2099 opens with Spider-Man swinging around downtown and beating up criminals; he then goes back to his apartment and reminisces about how he became Spider-Man. This does a good job of making the issue a self-contained origin story, even though two issues of plot happen between the last page and first page of the comic.
  • Superman:
    • Krypton No More starts out with Superman trying to demolish a factory. In the next page the story jumps back in time and tells what happened previously and explains his actions.
    • The Great Phantom Peril: The final issue opens with a page showing the Phantom Zone inmates vandalizing Metropolis. The next pages narrate how and why they escaped from the Zone before delivering the conclusion to the story.
    • Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow: The first issue concludes with Krem fleeing into Supergirl's spaceship and getting blasted into space accidentally. The second issue begins with Kara and Ruthye travelling to another planet by starship. At the end of the issue, Ruthye remembers the events which led Kara and herself to hunt Krem down.
    • Reign of Doomsday begins with Steel getting pummeled by Doomsday, then it cuts to Steel learning about The Death of Superman several years ago, and then it narrates how Steel heard about Doomsday going on a rampage and suited up fifteen minutes ago.
    • The Plague of the Antibiotic Man: The first issue begins with Superman and Flash fighting Nam-Ek in Central City as blaming him for a plague. After three pages, the story rewinds to explain how they got there.
      Narrator: "No, gentle reader, you haven't missed anything— You've merely joined the Man of Steel in the middle of the strangest struggle of his career... But to learn the who, what, when, where, how and why, we must review the mysterious events of the previous 36 hours..."
    • Adventures of Supergirl opens with Supergirl's face being grabbed and smashed into National City Stadium's bleachers by Rampage. In the aftermath of the battle, Supergirl flashes back to how their fight began.
    • DC Retroactive Superman: The first issue opens with Superman being struck down by a meteorite after "a series of bizarre, impossible calamities". The next page goes back in time and starts telling the story from the beginning.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The second Duplicator Arc has three strips of a well-groomed, well-behaved Calvin, but no explanation as to why he's acting this way until the 5th strip of the arc, which shows that the Calvin we've been seeing is actually a duplicate of Calvin's Good Side.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: The author Strypgia started out the story In Medias Res, writing a talk between Daniel and Asuka because the scene would not leave him alone, and then he wrote the scenes that came before it.
  • Advice and Trust: The first chapter starts out the story in the middle, featuring Shinji and Asuka hiding their relationship and happening a short while after the battle against Leliel. The next chapters start out a while before that, telling how they got to that point and what happened afterwards.
  • Ascend (xTSGx): A form is used. The story begins with Twilight staring in a mirror with her wings already grown.
  • Certain arcs in Child of the Storm start like this, as with the Forever Red arc in the sequel, Ghosts of the Past, which has Harry having already been captured by the Red Room, before reeling back to show how that happened.
  • Eleutherophobia: The Day the Earth Stood Still begins during chapter 1 of Animorphs #54: The Beginning, hours before the end of the war, at the exact moment it diverges from canon.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: Since the story is told in a non-linear fashion, most of plotlines start in the middle.
  • The Moonstone Cup: The Action Prologue starts with a huge dragon facing down a unicorn who bursts into flame with no help from the dragon. Cut to a few days earlier, when Twilight receives her invitation to the Moonstone Cup. The rest of the story is spent building back up to what is eventually revealed to be the climax.
  • The Second Try: A lot happens after that last scene of End of Evangelion, but that gets revealed later on. The story starts within a couple days of the battle of the Twelfth Angel.
  • The Rise and Fall of Captain Garlock's entire point is to make an attempt at the events of the prologue of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. It starts with the famous scene and then proceeds to make things worse.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The Celestia Code starts with Twilight burning books, and we don't get a full explanation until the middle of the fic.
    • Composure starts with Princess Celestia preparing for Twilight Sparkle's arrival at Canterlot, then jumps to Princess Celestia waking up in a hospital bed, unable to remember what had happened, unable to use magic, and with severe lightning burns on her side. The rest of the story jumps between following the events after the hospitalization and showing what caused it.
    • Pink Personal Hell And Altering Fate happens to reveal the "Pink Personal Hell" narrative to be this to "Altering Fate". In fact, it lends to a little bit of Fridge Brilliance with it and its Two Lines, No Waiting. Nickel Steel mentally relives him going through his Pink Personal Hell.
  • The Rigel Black Chronicles goes from Harry returning home normally at the end of one chapter, to her father confronting her and holding her at wand-point as she enters the house in the start of the next chapter — then reveals that it's a different day, and goes on to recount the many events of that day that led up to James' reaction.
    • In Sophistication and Betrayal, the story begins with the protagonist having already been in Equestria for over a year, with a series of flashbacks filling in the details that led up that point over the course of the chapters.
  • Total Drama:
  • You Are (Not) At Fault: The story starts with Asuka about to fight a new Angel while getting worried about Shinji. The next chapter goes back in time to Shinji waking up after the Apocalypse.
  • Mami x Touma + Charlotte begins with Mami Tomoe and Touma Kamijou fighting. The fic never actually explains why they were fighting in the first place.
  • The first story for the Darkwing Duck fanfiction series, Negaverse Chronicles, starts with the members of the Friendly Four after they lost a battle against Negaduck before going back to show the characters' origins and how they came together as a team.
  • In the Pokémon fanfic, Natural Liberated, the story starts a few weeks after the events which will be described in the trial via the testimony.
  • Swinging Pendulum starts with Ichigo imprisoned and the Visored executed by Central 46 then cuts to Ichigo waking up in Shin'hou Academy, late for his lunch date with his cousin, Kaien before detailing how he got out of prison and how he knows Kaien.
  • In canon, Neville's a bumbling, timid boy with a hidden core of steel that comes out when the shit hits the fan. During his 7th year, the challenges force him to grow up, and the awesome qualities hinted at before come to the forefront. However, Dumbledore's Army and the Year of Darkness skips over this Character Development completely: The fanfic starts with him having already grown up, and he then gains everyone's respect over the course of a single speech in the first chapter. Presumably, Thanfiction just wasn't interested in that part of the story, but it produces rather a disconnect from canon. Luckily, the fic's main story starts immediately after that Handwave.
  • The My Little Pony Abridged Series Scootertrix the Abridged has a couple examples:
    • Episode 7 opens with the Mane Six at the top of a mountain, preparing to face a dragon, having just completed a long, dangerous journey to get there. Essentially, the episode is "Dragonshy" in reverse.
    • Episode 19 opens with the ponies at the library, talking about nothing in particular. Spike rushes in and announces Rarity was kidnapped. There's a flashback to show the kidnapping, then the others rush off to rescue her.
  • The Tyrant and the Hero starts at the end, with the prologue showing the confrontation between Heinrich and Black Alice in the Monster Lord's Castle. The next chapter goes back to before the two met.
  • Fallout Equestria The End Of The World is a Rock Opera that starts with The Last Day - the nuclear exchange that ended Equestria and started off the setting of Fallout: Equestria, then skips back to the start of the war. It's not until Track 5 that we meet the protagonist.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Emperor's New Groove starts with Kuzco, as a llama, crying in a jungle as he narrates his own life. He claims it will "all make sense" if we go back to see how he got in this situation, which begins the flashback to the start of the story.
  • Hoodwinked! opens In Medias Res by first showing the confrontation between Red, Granny, the Wolf, and Kirk inside Granny's house. After the police arrive to start investigating, each character gives a "Rashomon"-Style story told in flashback to explain How We Got Here.
  • Hulk vs. Wolverine begins with Wolverine waking up after getting punched by the Hulk. The short then shows a lengthy flashback of Wolverine getting sent on a mission by Department H to hunt the Hulk, encountering Bruce Banner while searching, and leading to Banner Hulking Out.
  • Megamind starts with the titular villain falling from a fatal height, then flashes back. Way back.
  • Ratatouille begins looking at a house in the distance with the muffled sounds of what turn out to be shotgun blasts and then with Remy jumping through a plate glass window while carrying a book significantly larger than himself. It quickly jumps back to explain how the incident occurred.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Angels Revenge: The film was recut with the first half of the raid on the processing plant as an Action Prologue, then showing most of the first few acts as a flashback before returning to the rest of the raid. Naturally this was commented upon when the film appeared on MST3K:
    Mike: Now that... was a long flashback.
  • April Showers begins during the immediate aftermath of the school shooting, when Sean learns of the shooter's identity.
  • The documentary Attica does not start by establishing the setting or describing what life in the prison was like. Instead the Talking Heads immediately start describing how the prison riot of September 9, 1971 erupted. After that, as the film recounts the five-day siege that followed, inmates describe the appalling conditions and rampant abuse inside Attica.
  • Bet Your Life opens with Sonny fighting with Joseph and being thrown off the balcony of the casino before pausing and Sonny's narration launching into How We Got Here.
  • Blood Machines starts after the Mima is shot down by a warship. The "why" comes after.
  • The Butterfly Effect begins with the main character frantically scribbling a cryptic sentence in his journal whilst wearing clothing from a mental hospital. The rest of the movie is spent catching up.
  • Deadpool (2016) starts out with Deadpool's Roaring Rampage of Revenge on Ajax before cutting to the first "How We Got Here" sequence.
  • Tony Gilroy's Duplicity shifts back and forth through time and Michael Clayton opens with a sequence then rewinds to four days earlier and then revisits the opening with more information and greater context that gives it a new meaning.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind actually uses this trope very subtly. The beginning of the movie seems to be showing the first time that Joel and Clementine first met, and then fast forwards a few years where their relationship has actually gotten bitter and acrimonious. It turns out that they first met each other at a party, and their earlier meeting on the train was the first time they had seen each other *after* having their memories of each other erased. You could say that the story begins with the ending, but the plot actually progresses a little bit past that point.
  • The Fly (1986) is a non-flashback example — it starts in the middle of Seth and Veronica's first meeting at a cocktail party as he suggests she come to his lab to see what he's working on. Dialogue in subsequent scenes clarifies what exactly the party was (a press event for the company that bankrolls Seth's work) and why she was there (to get a story for Particle magazine), which is all that the audience might have been wondering about. Starting the film at this point is nicely paralleled by its closing, which comes immediately after she breaks down in tears upon mercy killing him.
  • The Fountain constantly switches between three stories of the same protagonist taking place in the 16th century, 2005, and some time in the 2500s.
  • Gattaca begins with "Jerome Morrow" getting ready to lift off on a manned probe to one of Saturn's moons. It seems like it's going to be a space adventure, until "Jerome" reveals the truth; his real name is Vincent, and an imposter, having taken over the identity of another man after being born "genetically inferior". The rest of the film is about Vincent's life, the discrimination he faced because he was a "God-child" (conceived naturally instead of by in vitro) and his decision to assume Jerome's identity in order to have a chance, and about a murder investigation that threatens to reveal Vincent's secret. The space mission isn't launched until the final moments of the film.
  • Goodfellas starts out with three guys driving a car, subtitle 1970, who start to hear noises coming from the rear. Did we hit something? Flat tire? Better pull over and see. As they deal with what turns out to be coming from the trunk, Henry starts telling his story, flashing back to 1955.
  • The original script for Groundhog Day started out like this, but was changed to avoid Lost in Medias Res.
  • In Heisei Rider vs. Showa Rider: Kamen Rider Taisen feat. Super Sentai, the movie starts with Kamen Riders Kabuto, Fourze and Gaim battling Kamen Riders Stronger, Skyrider and J. We spend the first half of the movie finding out how we got here.
  • Highlander begins with a swordfight in New York. The first half of the movie then alternates between flashbacks to Scotland and continuing the New York story.
  • The Hoodlum opens with Johnny holding Vincent at gunpoint and driving him somewhere. The rest of the film shows the events leading up to this situation.
  • How to Rob a Bank opens with Jason holding Jessica hostage inside the locked bank vault and delivering a long rant about fees and surcharges. It is some time before the full story of how this came to pass is revealed.
  • The 2013 CBC movie Jack starts with Jack Layton in his old age at close to the time of the 2011 election, then alternates between the 2011 election campaign and various moments from Jack's past.
  • J. Edgar begins with an elderly J. Edgar Hoover dictating his autobiography, at which point he is still head of the FBI and there are still important events going on. The film flicks between these and Hoover's stories of his life.
  • Just Married starring Brittany Murphy and Ashton Kutcher starts with the two main characters getting back from their nightmare of a honeymoon, and pushing each other around and spitting gum in one another's hair.
  • The 2019 adaptation of Little Women begins when the girls are grown up and gone their separate ways in life; Jo in New York, Amy in Europe, Meg adjusting to domestic life, and Beth at home with their parents. Over the course of the film, their stories are interrupted every twenty minutes or so with flashbacks of growing up together in Concord, contrasting who they used to be with who they have become. With this tool, the audience sees how much they have grown, like seeing Amy as a spoiled, immature, precocious child in a flashback before flipping back to show how she has matured into an accomplished, pragmatic, driven young woman.
  • Man of Steel used this a lot. It starts in the beginning on Krypton, but then shows Kal-El as an adult. Through flashbacks, we see his childhood, then his adulthood several times.
  • Most movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe seem to be fond of this trope:
    • When considered as a narrative whole, the MCU itself begins in medias res: The first film, Iron Man takes place chronologically after Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain Marvel (2019).
    • Iron Man started off with Tony Stark riding in a Humvee with soldiers, established his amiable playboy charm, and then had the caravan attacked by the Ten Rings people. Flash back 36 hours, and we learn more about him and how he got there. It's not a point in the middle of the film, though, just near-beginning.
    • Captain America: The First Avenger starts off with explorers finding the HYDRA bomber that Captain America crash-landed in the Arctic, as well as his shield and (as it turns out) his frozen body. The film then begins proper after that, acting as a feature-length example of the trope, and only the ending follows the opening scene.
    • Thor begins with Jane Foster and her crew accidentally ramming into something with their RV, which turns out to be Thor having been banished to Earth. The next half hour or so then goes back to detail Thor's life and the events that led to his banishment.
  • Maverick starts with Bret about to get hanged, then flashes back until you reach the same point about halfway through the film.
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol opens with an agent (played by Josh Holloway) in Budapest who is ultimately shot dead just before learning the woman walking towards him is an assassin. Then comes what could be the proper Action Prologue, the release of Ethan Hunt from a Russian prison, the credits, and then that agent's handler who is also in Ethan's team tell him the story of that mission.
  • A Murder of Crows: How the film opens (with Lawson in jail), and working back from there.
  • Mystery Team begins with the eponymous trio in the middle of a seemingly important investigation.
  • National Treasure began with the characters digging up a sunken ship in Alaska without any explanation of how they got there. Well, we hear about the Templar Treasure before that, and the Jump Cut lets us know one of the men digging up the ship is Ben, so we might assume it has something to do with the treasure. But there isn't any clear connection until we see that "Charlotte" is the name of the ship.
  • The opening scene of Never Grow Old has Patrick standing in front of the burnt-out saloon with its tattered American flag. He then hefts his blunderbuss and strides across the road and into the church where a voice is reading out a bible verse. The movie then flashes back to several months earlier to explain How We Got Here.
  • Christopher Nolan's films tend to use this a lot:
    • Memento could be said to start over In Medias Res every three minutes. The main character can't form new memories, and so the entire story takes place backwards so that the audience has the same kind of experience that the main character does.
    • Batman Begins start the story proper in medias Ra's with Bruce Wayne in prison in Bhutan, before flashbacking to explain how he got there.
    • The Prestige begins with a shot of a pile of top hats scattered in some woods followed by Michael Caine performing a magic trick to a little girl, both of which only pop up in the last third of the film.
    • Inception begins with Cobb washing up on a beach before being dragged to meet an aged Saito. The film spends most of its running time recounting how Cobb ended up there.
  • Operation Mincemeat starts with the British landing in Sicily in July 1943, the first Allied landing in Europe during World War II. The film then goes back six months to the start of the planning of the titular operation.
  • The Other Guys lampshades this trope.
    Ershon: I think the best way to tell this story is by starting at the end, briefly, then going back to the beginning; then periodically returning to the end, maybe giving different characters' perspectives throughout. Just to, you know, give it a bit of dynamism. Otherwise it's just sort of a linear story. (makes yawning gesture)
  • Out of the Past picks up with the hero keeping a low profile and operating a gas station in a small California town. He tells his new girlfriend Ann the first part of the story (looking for Kathie, then running away with her) in a long flashback before the story continues from present day.
  • Reindeer Games kicks off with a montage of six dead Santa Clauses except at the end it turns out one's still alive in various locations, before flashing back to "Six Days Before".
  • Revenge for Jolly! opens with Harry arriving at Jolly's murderer's house and saying, "Are you Everett Bachmeier?" The movie then jumps back 36 hours, to before Jolly's death.
  • Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster opens with Mystery, Inc. chasing the witch through the house. As she is unmasked, the story jumps back to the start to explain how we got here.
  • Shot Caller: The film opens with Jacob being released from prison after serving out a ten-year sentence, then flashes back to show the events that led to his incarceration and his subsequent time in prison, interspersed with scenes set in the present day.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright (1950) hits the ground running, as aspiring actress Eve is driving her ex-boyfriend Jonathan, who is running from the police. Jonathan then explains How We Got Here, with a flashback showing why he's under suspicion of murder.
  • Star Wars wound up as this, as the original movie is the fourth episode — only the flashbacks were whole movies, made decades after the two sequels. Episode IV is also often used as a standalone example of this trope, opening with Leia's ship chased by an Imperial Star Destroyer.
  • Quentin Tarantino likes playing with the chronology of his plots, though only occasionally does he use an outright in medias res plotline to its conclusion:
    • Reservoir Dogs starts off just after a botched heist, then follows the resolution of the heist to its conclusion, with occasional flashbacks of the heist's planning to show how they got there.
    • Pulp Fiction is more properly categorized Anachronic Order, beginning and ending somewhere in the chronological middle, and jumping around back and forth among several storylines.
    • Kill Bill: Volume One opens in medias res, with the Bride killing victim number two on her Kill List, Vernita Green, before jumping back to explain how she got to that point; the film ends with the killing of victim number one, O-Ren Ishii, so it's not a straight example either.
  • The Thief of Bagdad (1940) begins with a blind man named Ahmad and his dog Abu being taken in by a woman named Halima who serves the sultan of Bagdad, to whom Ahmad tells how he was once the sultan of Bagdad, how his dog Abu is actually a boy, and how they both ended up like this.
  • TRON starts by showing that a video game is a literal to-the-death battle between two humanoid characters; what might be called in medias derez.
  • Underworld (2003) begins with a bunch of seemingly random people shooting each other up on the subway. A well-known movie critic actually criticized the use of this trope in his review of the film, remarking that since we don't know who these people are or what their motives are, the action is disconnected and meaningless. Critics suffer from this issue so often it should be its own trope.
  • The narration of Upstream Color starts in the middle and jumps back and forth.
  • The Usual Suspects opens with Keaton on the deck of the ship about to blow it up. He's stopped. Soon, the police drag in Verbal to tell them How They Got There.


By Author:

  • Isaac Asimov was instructed by a fellow author "to start every story as late as possible":
    • "The Bicentennial Man": The first chapter has Andrew Martin at the surgeon's office to arrange for his final prosthetic. The robot doctor objects to the operation because it would kill a human, so Andrew reveals that he isn't human. The next chapter begins with his early days in the Martin household as a Robot Butler.
    • "Feminine Intuition": This story starts after a meteorite has killed Chief Robopsychologist Clinton Madarian and destroyed JN-5, before rewinding years back to when Dr Calvin resigned, promoting Madarain to her former role.
  • Margaret Atwood is fond of this trope. The Handmaid's Tale is a prime example, the current situation of the world visited in flashback. This is extended in The Year of the Flood, where characters and situations touched on in flashbacks in Oryx and Crake are given their own story.
  • Dante Alighieri:
    • The Divine Comedy begins not just in the middle of the story as The Aeneid did, but in the middle of life as a whole. Dante is 30 as the poem begins, and the readers will learn much about his past and future from the ghosts of the afterlife and their visions of things yet to be.
    • The Vita Nuova's Fever Dream Episode opens with Dante being awoken from his nightmare, while the rest of the poem details what he actually hallucinated.
  • Common in Homer's epics:
    • The Iliad famously begins in medias res towards the end of the ninth year of Troy's ten-year siege. The rest of the The Trojan Cycle was available at the time to fill in anyone who wanted to know more about how they got there.
    • The Odyssey begins with Athena urging Telemachus to go search for his father Odysseus, who has already been missing for ten years. The story then catches up with what Odysseus has been doing for the last decade.
  • Stephen King:
    • Blaze starts off in the present and flashes back throughout the novel to explain how the characters got there.
    • Roland Deschain from The Dark Tower started his journey many years before the beginning of the first book, and when taking into account how many years that actually was, some would say the series itself only chronicles the end of the quest.
  • Statius:
    • The Achilleid begins after Helen has been kidnapped, Achilles has grown-up, and the Greeks have assembled for the Trojan War. Only later in the book do we return to the past to figure out how Helen was kidnapped, how Achilles was raised by Chiron, and why the Greeks are declaring war to begin with.
    • The Thebaid starts with Statius describing the final duel between the sons of Oedipus, which is only fully told in Book XI. He quickly realizes that's no place to start an epic poem and considers beginning from Jupiter's rape of Europa, Cadmus' founding of Thebes, Amphion's choral wall-building, or the vengeance of the wine god before settling on Polynices' exile as the starting point.
  • Kurt Vonnegut was very fond of beginning in medias res. Starting with Slaughterhouse-Five, which jumps around in time, his preferred method of storytelling involved telling a bit from here, a bit from there, until the picture is complete. Hocus Pocus is particularly notable for beginning a million years after the main action.

By Work:

  • The Aeneid continues the Homeric tradition of in medias res and begins in much the same way, with Aeneas' fleet threatened by a divine storm while en route to Italy. Aeneas fills in the beginning of the story later on using a Framing Device.
  • All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka has an interesting example of it. The book starts off in the middle of a battlefield where some of the would-be supporting cast are killed off. At the end of the first chapter, the main character dies. He then wakes up in his bed, believing it to all be a dream, but many of the events throughout the dream happening before the battle start happening in real life (such as his platoon receiving punishment for taking alcohol from storage) while other events are slightly different (a woman soldier who he met in the dream on the battlefield before he died takes part in the punishment in real life, while she simply watched in the dream). In reality, the main character is stuck in a time loop due to accidental exposure to alien technology.
  • Annals of the Western Shore: In the first book, Gifts, Orrec begins the story after his voluntary blinding and the death of his mother, then goes back to his early childhood, returns to the point where the story began and explains the how and why of those first two facts, and goes on to the end.
  • Anthologies of Ullord writers Nikki Flynn and Edwin Dantes use this trope to an extreme degree. Most of their works that are not short stories or shorter novellas jump around with flashbacks, flash forwards and present time events in various places told simultaneously. Thus, their works come with time and place tags.
  • Breaking Point (2002) opens with Paul being released from juvenile hall at the age of eighteen. The rest of the book takes place two years prior, showing how he got there in the first place.
  • Fernando Morais' Chatô, o rei do Brasil, biography of Brazilian media mogul Assis Chateaubriand, mixes this trope with a Dream Intro, as it starts with him and his daughter devouring Bishop Sardinha.note  He is in fact hallucinating in a hospital bed as doctors try to save his life after a stroke.
  • The Cat Who... Series: Book #6 (The Cat Who Played Post Office), in which Qwilleran moves to Moose County, opens with a scene in which Qwilleran awakes in a hospital following a bad bicycle wreck with a case of Easy Amnesia that is quickly resolved. Most of the remainder of the book depicts the events that eventually led up to this.
  • Dead City: The book starts after Molly has killed a zombie, and is waiting for the other Omegas to help her hide the body. Then it explains what happened before.
  • Don't Panic, Neil Gaiman's biography of Douglas Adams, starts out with the inception of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, then jumps back to Adams' birth.
  • Zelazny also made use of this trope in Doorways in the Sand where the reader is treated to a new medias res at the beginning of every chapter.
  • Underplayed in the fourth book of the Dora Wilk Series, which starts with Dora digging three shallow graves behind a vampire coven and Miron's good-natured mockery of her determination. Then vampire master Gajusz arrives and asks what is going on, which is Dora's cue for How We Got Here.
  • Dragaera:
    • Dragon starts out with with Vlad participating as a soldier in a battle between two armies. The second chapter goes back to the start of what got an assassin like him involved in something most assassins would want to avoid like the plague. The third chapter takes off where the first chapter ended, the fourth chapter takes off where the second chapter ended, and so forth. And the next-to-last chapter ends right where the first chapter starts. Vlad lampshades this in the narration, apologizing for starting his story in the middle, while explaining that that's pretty much where it starts.
    • Jhereg does the same, with three timelines; one at the end of the story, one in the middle, and one starting with Vlad's childhood. The earliest timeline catches up to the middle timeline only at the very end of the book, shortly after the middle timeline catches up to the most recent.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Grave Peril starts a few days after Dresden's battle with a sorcerer and his summoned demon, but not describing this encounter until he re-lives it in a nightmare several chapters into the book.
    • The opening line of Blood Rites is, "The building was on fire and it wasn't my fault..."
  • Forever Gate: The book begins with Hoodwink awaiting execution. The reader finds out why he's there while he's on the run.
  • All of Kin Platt's Steve Forrester novels began with the reluctant teen/preteen "detective" explaining the events leading up to him spending the night in jail, being involved in a satanic ritual, or behind the wheel of his Uncle's Hudson Hornet en route to killing a man.
  • In Guns of the Dawn, the story starts with the protagonist seeing one of her comrades/friends killed in battle; it then goes back to her life before being conscripted and gradually works its way up to that point before continuing. (As such, we know that Elise's death is a Foregone Conclusion when Emily first befriends her.)
  • Halo: The Fall of Reach starts right in the middle of the Human-Covenant War, with the Spartan-IIs in the middle of a mission. Then the book goes back to several years before the war, when the SPARTAN-II program hasn't even started yet.
  • Harley Quinn: Reckoning begins with one member of the vigilante group Reckoning finding another unconscious after a murderous attack, then jumps back six months to start telling the story of how the group was formed and why someone might now be trying to murder its members. The first half of the book alternates between telling the backstory and following the immediate aftermath of the first attack; around halfway through, the backstory catches up with the present and from there it's a straight shot to the end.
  • Hurog: Dragon Blood starts with Tisala on a torture bench, maybe about to spill some secrets. She kills the torturer, steals his coat and escapes. Later on, she's found by the main character Ward, in ill-fitting clothes, and after taking out some bandits.
  • I Become Shadow: The book starts after Ren's Shadow training, when she is about to get her assignment. Flashbacks show the reader what happened previously.
  • Discussed and averted in I, Claudius. Claudius (the narrator) says that he prefers "the thorough Roman method, which misses nothing, to that of Homer and the Greeks generally, who love to jump into the middle of things and then work backwards or forwards as they feel inclined."
  • Michael Korda's Eisenhower biography Ike: An American Hero starts out right before D-Day, chronicling the tension and uncertainty behind the scenes on the night before and quoting Ike as saying to a confidante (Kay Summersby), "I hope to God I know what I'm doing" before starting chapter two with a jump back to his childhood in Kansas.
  • Some of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels start with 007 already in action, then he comes back to the mission's briefing with M. On Her Majesty's Secret Service also does this, but the "flashback" doesn't feature M.
  • Journey to Chaos: The first book begins with Eric in an underground room and fighting an orc. As he wonders as how got himself into this mess, the story shifts to the day he met Tasio The Trickster.
  • Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light begins with Sam’s return from Nirvana (“recovering from the peace which passeth understanding takes time”, p. 15) to which he is exiled after the Battle of Keenset at the end of chapter six.
  • Middle School: The book starts with Leo, Rafe, and Georgia in the back of a police car. Then Rafe explains how they got there.
  • The biographical novel MIG Pilot: The Final Escape of Lt. Belenko starts out with Lt. Belenko, the Soviet defector who brought a MIG-25 Foxbat when he defected, breaking through cloud cover in Japan, right into the path of a commercial airliner. As we find out he is low on fuel and in danger of crashing, the narrative cuts back to his childhood and gives an account of his life up to this point.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude opens thus: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
  • Paradise Lost begins with the immediate aftermath of the War in Heaven, which is retold in the middle of the story, as Satan plans what to do in his exile. This thematic device calls to mind the classical epics of Homer and Virgil to establish the Devil as an Odysseus or Aeneas-like hero before deconstructing that pagan notion of heroism.
  • The Red Mars Trilogy opens the night of the assassination of John Boone, the first man on Mars, then jumps back about twenty-seven years.
  • Run begins with Bo getting Agnes and the two running away. It then goes back and forth between Bo narrating their escape while Agnes flashes back to the two meeting and becoming friends.
  • Show Boat by Edna Ferber begins with Kim Ravenal commenting on her own name, then spends the rest of the first chapter at the scene of her birth. The second chapter then skips back to before her maternal grandmother's marriage.
  • Soulmate opens with the line "The werewolves broke in while Hannah Snow was in the psychologist's office." The story then flashes back a few minutes to explain why Hannah is visiting a psychologist and a bit of her backstory, leading up to the moment two werewolves smash through the office window and start fighting. Hannah quickly deduces that both werewolves were looking for her and that one is protecting her from the other, establishing right away she has an unconscious connection to the Night World.
  • Starship Troopers The book, not the movie. Whole first chapter is an action movie sequence. Then it goes back to how we got here.
  • They Shoot Horses, Don't They? opens with would-be director Robert Syverten being sentenced for the assisted suicide/murder of his friend, Gloria Beatty. The rest of the book cuts back and forth between a How We Got Here flashback and the words of the judge passing sentence on Robert.
  • Each book of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga opens with a preface that is describing a scene that happens near the climax of the story.
  • Iain M. Banks' Use of Weapons starts in the middle of the story. Chapters labelled with the words "one, two" etc. go forward in time toward the climax of the book. Chapters labelled in roman numerals go backward in time towards the start of the book. The book ended with two climaxes — one that was the start of the story, and explained everything you didn't understand about the main character. The other ended the story properly.
  • In Andre Norton's Warlock Series:
    • Storm Over Warlock begins with the Throg attack, with backfill to explain why Shann is out of the camp at the time, how he came to work there, the whole Throg/human conflict, and the earlier surveys of Warlock.
    • Ordeal in Otherwhere opens with Charis fleeing the fanatics on Demeter, and remembering the plague that had so selectively wiped out the non-fanatics.
    • Forerunner Foray opens with Ziantha in the middle of a burglary.
  • Worm: Chapter 25.4 opens with Taylor (the at-this-point normally-unflappable protagonist) desperately dialing Glenn; the reason only being revealed after she gets off the phone and joins the rest of her superhero team — the Chicago Wards — walking onto the set of a morning chat show.
  • Xanadu (Storyverse): "Alex and Hannah" begins some time after the Change, with Alex looking himself over in his hotel room, before shifting back to a few days earlier to explain how he got to where he is now.
  • The Zero Stone: Jern is fleeing from his life from a Lottery of Doom, and Human Sacrifice, through a dark city that he has been in only ten days — Vondar having succumbed to Mentor Occupational Hazard just prior to it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Tends also to be used on Alias. Hell, it would be easier to list the episodes that *don't* use this trope. That might be about 10% of them.
  • Babylon 5 begins in this fashion as the original pilot was aired as a backdoor pilot well over a year before the series actually began. When released on DVD the pilot episode was also released separately from the first season. Some attempt at a Welcome Episode is still made, but events from the pilot are still referred to by characters and are assumed to be known. Further many relevant events leading to the current state of the universe that would be known to any person actually residing in it are withheld until later in the series. This was done on purpose since the creator didn't want to tell the story of a world, but only a 5 year slice of a much bigger story.
  • Battlestar Galactica likes this trope, but a notable example is in the Season 2 episode "Scar." It starts off with a dogfight involving Starbuck, Kat, and the titular Cylon Raider. The episode then details the days leading up to this dogfight, highlighting the deaths of several Nuggets, Starbuck's downward spiral and Kat's rapidly rising badass quotient, and the growing conflict between them. This is intercut with further scenes of the dogfight, building the tension each time as we go back to the main story, with the battle finally resolved in the end. Kat kills Scar, leading to Starbuck acknowledging her rival and delivering a tribute to the fallen pilots.
    • Caprica seems to be going the same direction, with the episode "End of Line" beginning with Zoe driving a car while chased by police cars and helicopters.
  • Better Off Ted: "Jabberwocky". Starts with the main character about to do a presentation on a product that doesn't exists, literally says "So how did I get here?" and then jumps to explaining precisely that.
  • Breaking Bad for the first season and some of the second. Also the last half-season, which starts with Walt alone in a diner on his 52nd birthday before flashing back several months, not catching up to that point again until the very last episode.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Musical Episode "Once More, With Feeling" started with the spell that was causing everyone to burst into song and dance already in effect.
  • Charmed (1998) does this once, where it starts with the sisters running away from the Cleaners, get their memories of yesterday erased and Wyatt wiped from existence, but they cast a spell tuning back the day and find out why the Cleaners are after Wyatt: he conjures a DRAGON out of a TV show, after magically switching channels to the dragon movie.
  • Community episode "Basic RV Repair and Palmistry" opens with the members of the Save Greendale Committee sitting silently as they travel together in Elroy's RV, with a 19-foot fiberglass hand tied to the roof, and no explanation of how they got there. This trope is played with throughout the episode, such as when Abed attempts to "cut away" to some exposition by loudly proclaiming "Three weeks earlier...", only to have nothing happen.
  • The "death lead-in" version was done particularly badly in one episode of CSI: Miami, where it was patently obvious Calleigh hadn't actually been shot.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Girl in the Fireplace" begins with all of the people at Versailles running and screaming, and Reinette shouting for the Doctor through the fireplace. After the opening credits, the story is begun again, from the Doctor landing on the spaceship.
    • Cleverly lampshaded in "Love & Monsters", where Elton, who narrates the story, begins the episode with his encounter with the Doctor and a hostile alien creature. He then admits that what we just saw wasn't the start of the story. "I just put that bit at the beginning 'cause it's a brilliant opening." Later, once he gets to the point in the story where the beginning action takes place he says, "don't get too excited, that's the point where you came in", and the sequence gets a bit fast-forwarded.
    • "Human Nature" opens with the Doctor and Martha fleeing an alien attack, then cuts into the middle of the Doctor's life as a human before revealing how he got there, by way of explaining the alien attack.
    • "Silence in the Library" begins with Charlotte explaining the Library to her father and Dr. Moon, when all of a sudden the Doctor and Donna run through the door, sealing it shut. The Doctor then says, "Oh, hello! Sorry to burst in on you like this. OK if we stop here for a bit?" The girl is shown as upset, and the opening credits then start, after which the story starts back from where Donna and the Doctor first land in the Library.
    • And then we have Series 6, which starts off with an older version of the Doctor being killed, except not really, which doesn't happen in his timeline until the series finale.
    • "The Crimson Horror" begins with the Paternoster Gang being called in to investigate some mysterious deaths in Yorkshire, and they discover that the Doctor and Clara are involved. The part of the story that would normally be shown at the beginning is instead told via Flashback.
    • "Praxeus" begins with the Doctor and her "fam" already split up around the globe investigating a trio of mysterious distress signals that they picked up in the previous episode's cliffhanger.
    • "The Halloween Apocalypse" begins with the Doctor and Yaz mid adventure, hanging upside down in a death trap by Karvanista.
  • Pretty much every episode of Dogfights starts with the planes flying into battle before providing the historical context of the war being fought, a quick bio of the pilot(s), and the technical details of the planes involved, at which point the battle resumes.
  • The pilot for Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 begins with June catching Chloe making out with the former's boyfriend, before going back a week to her arrival in New York. When the story gets to that point again, it fast-forwards to June catching them in the act.
    • The Season 2 premiere does this as well beginning with Chloe and June at James' Viking Funeral after June's "The Story So Far". It turns out this was just a funeral for James' Dawson's Creek past.
  • Many episodes of Farscape start this way, and the pilot episode even invokes it on the main character, who is just as confused as the rest of us when he's suddenly thrown into a huge battle between spaceships and then is pulled into one of them with a bunch of weird aliens shouting all around him until finally one of them knocks him out.
  • The pilot episode of Firefly, "Serenity", twice — first beginning in the middle of the Battle of Serenity Valley, and then flashing forward to the middle of a heist. See also the episode "Trash" which combines this with Naked People Are Funny as it explains why Mal is naked and what lead up to that point before continuing on to the real end.
    • Firefly was intended to start with a Welcome Episode, but the network thought it was too complicated to use as an introduction, so the screenwriters hastily concocted a One We Prepared Earlier (in this case a misnomer), "The Train Job", to run as the actual broadcast premiere.
    • The most notable case is probably "Out of Gas". It starts with a deserted Serenity, except for a badly hurt Mal, without telling us how things went this way. Then it jumps back to the day Mal showed Serenity to Zoe for the first time, then shows us how the trouble started, and then keeps jumping back and forth between the "pre-crisis" and the "post-crisis" scenes, mixed with scenes showing us the day Mal bought Serenity and how every single member of the crew happened to join. It's a masterclass in how to use this literary device without losing focus or characterisation, as well as a compelling piece of drama in it's own right.
  • Nearly every episode of Flashpoint begins this way (the moment being the titular the flashpoint). However, the beginning intro is often cut in such a way that it makes the situation seem much simpler than it turns out to be when the full scene is played out in context.
  • The Frasier episode "Daphne Does Dinner", opening in the middle of what appeared to be the climax of a tongue-in-cheek "typical" episode, featuring as many Frasier-specific tropes as was possible to cram into a minute — furious guests storming out of a disastrous dinner party of Frasier and Niles's that had obviously gone ridiculously awry, blown up in their faces a few seconds before the episode began, and apparently involved lots of lying, mishaps, and mix-ups (Frasier pretending to have Tourette's Syndrome, goats in the kitchen, something about flaming kababs, and Martin having to pretend he was an Italian count). The chain of events that led to this incident were never explained, and the actual episode dealt with the backlash from the hypothetical "episode" glimpsed in the opening, with Daphne banning Frasier and Niles from helping her with her own dinner party.
  • Game of Thrones: Nearly everything that happens in the series has its roots in the events of the twenty years prior to the beginning of the series.
  • Most episodes of Hank Zipzer start with Hank in the middle of some bizarre and improbable situation. Hank will look at the camera and say something along the lines of "You're probably wondering how this happened...", before rewinding to the start of the story.
  • The Haven episode "The Trouble With Troubles" begins with the heroes helping people evacuate the town when a volcano erupts. There is no flashback, but there is brief dialogue explaining that a woman accidentally manifested the volcano with her Trouble.
  • The Hexer: The series opens with an adult Geralt slaying monsters, goes back all the way down to his childhood and then follow his life for next four episodes until he gets to that fight.
  • The first episode of Hogan's Heroes features the group already in place at Stalag 13 with everything already in place. We're introduced to the operation only through Hogan giving a new prisoner who is actually a German spy a tour, and there's never a flashback episode showing how they set up their organization in the first place. Some of the elements in the pilot (most notably one of the characters, a few sections of the tunnels, and the use of black-and-white rather than color) differ from the rest of the show.
  • Horatio Hornblower: The second instalment of this miniseries has two parts "Mutiny" and "Retribution". "Mutiny" starts with Commodore Sir Edward Pellew visiting Lieutenant Hornblower in prison, telling him and the audience that he's going to be tried for his life. The whole episode is told in one long Flash Back and explains How We Got Here, though not entirely from Hornblower's point of view. Importantly, we heard only half of the account of the mission. The episode ends in prison when Pellew and Hornblower finish their conversation. The next part, "Retribution", resumes the story where it was left, but this time it's more like In Medias Res with telling scenes of badly injured Lieutenants Bush and Kennedy who are being treated in the prison infirmary. The lieutenants face a trial and they continue to give a full account of what happened during the rest of their mission. It's being constantly interrupted with court testimonies and the judges' private discussion happening in the present. "Retribution" mixes this trope with Anachronic Order.
  • The It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "The Gang Gets Trapped" starts out with Dennis, Dee and Frank trapped inside a family home, in the midst of a plan to steal an expensive vase. Rather than flash back to show how they got there, the gang just reminds each other in dialogue.
  • Kamen Rider Blade does this within its first episode. It basically starts with a fight against a Monster of the Week, throws a lot of characters at the viewer after the fight, but it does not explain who the characters are, how they got their powers and what the monsters are. This is learned through flashbacks and exposition during the rest of the show.
  • The cold opening of the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Gone" (based on the Natalee Holloway case) starts at the typical midpoint of the show, with the suspects being arrested and arraigned on murder charges. The next 15 minutes fill in the blanks as to the investigation that led the cops and DA to this point.
  • Lost usually falls more into How We Got Here, but one use of In Medias Res was "Greatest Hits." It begins with Karl frantically running and getting into a canoe for reasons we don't yet understand, then cuts to the Losties, being led across the island by Jack for a dynamite demonstration. This allows an episode which is mostly a lead-up to the action of the finale to begin with a chase and an explosion.
  • The Monk episode "Mr. Monk goes to the Bank" opens with the main characters locked in a bank vault, with the next 20-30 minutes showing how they got there.
  • The individual segments of NCIS begin with a black and white freeze-frame, and then go through the segment as usual, leading up to the events that culminate in the same image, which then switches to black and white again.
    • There was also a very effective "death lead-in" version of this done in Season 5, opening with Tony performing CPR on Gibbs and a young woman.
  • Once Upon a Time does this expertly by starting with Snow and Charming's wedding and their 28 year old daughter in the real world. While the real time stuff passes in order, the flashbacks go here there and everywhere and back again.
  • Poker Face: The episodes usually begin with the murder of the week before rewinding to see Charlie coming in and interacting with the killer and victim.
  • Power Rangers Samurai premiered with Episode 3.The first two episodes originally titled "Call of the Red Ranger" were retitled "Origins" and aired near the end of the first season.
  • The second series of Princess Returning Pearl essentially starts off like this, with the two main girls arrested and being taken to the execution block, surrounded by a crowd of disbelieving commoners, wondering what had actually happened since they had seemed to get along with The Emperor so well. We later find out how things actually got up to this point.
  • Radio Free Roscoe doesn't explain just how exactly they got a radio station until the end of Season 1.
  • Used as the opening to each successive season of Revenge, the reveal typically taking place mid-season:
    • The first starts with a man, presumably Daniel, being shot on the beach the night of Emily and his engagement party.
    • The second starts with a salvage team discovering the sunken remains of sailboat "The Amanda" along with a dead body.
    • The third starts with Emily in a wedding dress being shot by an unknown assailant and falling off a yacht.
    • Also done for the episodes "Duress" and "Sabotage".
  • The Shield did this, with the actual introduction episode "Day One", showing the events of the first day at the then newly-opened Police Station, not appearing until the second season. It also contains the Start of Darkness for some of the main characters.
  • Show Me a Hero very cleverly subverts the trope: it starts off with a dramatic scene, then flashes back to several years ago. A scene in the middle of the show's timeline is made to look like a continuation of the first scene, implying that it's an example of this trope. However, the very last scene is revealed to be the true continuation of the first scene, making it a case of Book Ends.
  • The Teaser for several Smallville episodes feature people acting strangely followed by an explanation of How We Got Here to provide context.
  • Speer Und Er: The first episode opens with Speer and the other major surviving Nazis in prison being handed the indictments that formed the basis for the Nuremberg Trials. The events leading up to and set during the war are then told through flashbacks. The third episode covers Speer's twenty-year sentence in Spandau Prison.
  • In a Star Trek: Enterprise episode T'Pol is screaming and thrashing in sickbay. After the intro, we see the events that led to this.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • "Cause and Effect" starts off with the Enterprise exploding. It's eventually revealed that the Enterprise was trapped in a time loop along with a 23rd century Starfleet ship.
    • "First Contact" (unrelated to the film) starts out in an alien hospital — the doctors are puzzling over Riker's odd physiology. It later turns out that Riker was conducting surface reconnaissance on a planet that had just become warp-capable, as the Federation was about to make first contact with them. He'd been injured in an accident and was brought unconscious to a hospital.
  • The Discovery Channel series Storm Chasers has started a couple of seasons thus far in this manner:
    • In Season 4 (documenting the 2010 tornado chase season), the first few minutes of the season's first episode shows the immediate aftermath of the tornado that destroyed Yazoo City, Mississippi, on April 24, 2010. The rest of the episode moves back to cover events from a few days prior to that storm.
    • In Season 5 (documenting the 2011 tornado chase season), the entire first episode of that season covers the devastating tornado outbreak that tore through Mississippi and Alabama, on April 27, 2011. The next two episodes cover events from a week prior to that disaster, with the rest of the season following afterward.
  • Supernatural, Season 1, "Skin". It begins with the cops breaking into a house where someone has a girl tied to a chair and is about to kill her. When the cops confront the killer, it's a smirking Dean Winchester. The episode then shows How We Got Here. It also does an In Medias Res with the "Nightshifter" episode in Season 2... and How We Got Here reveals it's for almost the same exact reason. Also Season 7's "Plucky Pennywhistle's Magic Menagerie", with Sam fighting a clown. It then flashes back 56 hours earlier, and keeps doing this until the story catches up to the present.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): "The Long Morrow" begins with Commander Douglas Stansfield aboard the ship in his suspended animation chamber as the date changes from December 31, 1987 to January 1, 1988. It then flashes back to Dr. Bixler recruiting Stansfield for the mission the previous June.
  • WandaVision opens with the title characters, Happily Married and driving into Westview, with absolutely zero explanation of when they got married, how Vision is suddenly Back from the Dead after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, or why everything is presented as a sitcom from the 50s. And the show just rolls with the sitcom hijinks (with the occasional Surprisingly Creepy Moment) up until the ending of the third episode, and the following episode starts giving some explanation to what’s really going on.
  • The X-Files:
    • "Unrequited" starts with a scene that is later shown again. The story goes back to 12 hours ago. It was speculated that In Medias Res was done just to prolong the footage which is evidenced by many shots of flying flags and marching bands. The second scene might have been written as a teaser originally.
    • "Colony" starts in medias res as well, and Mulder flat-lines. Scully appears and knows how he must be treated to be saved.
    • "Groundhog Day" Loop episode "Monday" - the pre-titles teaser shows Mulder dying of gunshot wounds before he and Scully get blown up in a bank heist.
    • "S.R. 819" starts with a man being rushed to the hospital. He's from the FBI and Scully is his emergency contact. Surprisinly, it's not Mulder, but Skinner. The episode then goes back to show what lead to his complete break-down.

  • The manhua series Like Share n Subscribe starts with Hu Luoluo, a failing vlogger, and Song Lu, a writer and single mother who is plagued by scandals, vehemently refusing to start a fake relationship, since they can't stand each other. The series then flashes back a week to show how the two women met and came into conflict, as well as their personal circumstances that leave them with no choice but to go along with the fake relationship.

  • Los Campesinos!'s album Romance is Boring opens with a song called "In Medias Res" The first line '...But let's talk about you for a minute' suggests that the song itself begins in medias res.
  • The Decemberists's album 'The Crane Wife' opens with 'Crane Wife 3'; later on in the album comes 'Crane Wife 1 &2 ' which gives the listener the beginning of the story.
  • The first three parts of the Rush saga "Fear", which was split across four albums, were released in reverse order (i.e. Part 3 first).
  • The Joel Plaskett Emergency's concept album 'Ashtray Rock' begins with a track entitled "Introduction," which is (a form of) the opening lines of the last track, "Soundtrack For The Night."
  • Sonata Arctica's "Caleb" story is split into four songs; in chronological order it is "Caleb", "The End of This Chapter", "Don't Say a Word", and "Juliet". However, the actual songs were released in this order: "Don't Say a Word", "The End of This Chapter", "Caleb", "Juliet".
  • Nits' double-CD retrospective album Nits Hits does this - the first CD begins in the middle of their career and moves forwards from that point. Then the second CD starts from the middle again, and goes backwards to their oldest material.
  • "... And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to father time."
  • The Genesis song "One For the Vine" starts off with a charismatic warlord about to lead his men into battle. The whole song has a Möbius-loop structure, so it loops back to the beginning of the story twice.

  • In the Doctor Who audio drama No More Lies, the first episode starts with the Doctor and Lucie on the heels of a time traveling criminal named Zimmerman. They throw you right into the action making you wonder if you missed an episode. The actual story however deals with his attempt to escape leaving him trapped for years and eventually settling down and starting a family before the Doctor and his companion catch up with him to bring him to justice.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Microscope makes frequent use of this type of storytelling. The purpose of scenes in Microscope is to answer questions about important events in a dynamic fashion, so scenes often begin—or end—in the middle.
  • Most Rocket Age adventures spend their time providing context and set up, but The Warlord of the Gravitic Portal starts in the middle of the heroes' first confrontation with the villain. There is a brief blurb on who he is and who sent you after him, but it's still quite a change after every other adventure opening with, well, the opening.
  • The Wushu RPG calls setups like these "Flashbangs". They start the players off in an action sequence in the middle of the story with easily understood stakes and details that unfold during the action. When the story flashes back to before the scene, every time the players come up with an explanation for one of the details of the Flashbang scene, or in any other way act to set the scene up, they add a die to a shared pool that then gets used as bonus dice when they catch up to the Flashbang scene.

  • Company opens during Bobby's 35th birthday party. The story itself is presented as vignettes of the lives of Bobby's married friends (with his birthday party also being a frequent link in between). The vignettes themselves are not presented in any chronological order as such (although they take place before the day of the birthday party). The final scene again takes place at the party.
  • In Fly by Night, the narrator pauses the musical at multiple points, when he realizes that he's accidentally skipped past a large chunk of the story and needs to rewind.
  • Grey Gardens: The Musical opens in 1973 in the run-down cat-infested mansion of the same name, before flashing back to 1941 for the rest of the first act. The second act returns to 1973, leading back to the opening scene.
  • Oedipus the King starts at the beginning of the end (Oedipus's final day as king, unbeknownst to him), showing a single day in his life and in that day his whole life is revealed via backstory.
  • Troilus and Cressida: The prologue explains that the play begins in the middle of the famous Trojan war.
    ...our play leaps o'er the vaunt and firstlings of these broils, beginning in the middle,
  • Evita begins at the eponymous character's funeral.

    Video Games 
  • The very first cutscene of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood shows a part near the end of the game with Ezio confronting Cesare in person, then the first playable bit rewinds years to Ezio escaping from the Vault and Vatican immediately after 2.
  • Bonfire begins with Hildie in the middle of an expedition after having failed a previous attempt to seige Overlord's keep, which is the main goal of the game. We're told that she's been at this for a while, and her team used to be bigger before it dwindled to only Ephrem and Zivko, but these details are only alluded to in party chats.
  • Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 begins with the player and his squad about to get overrun. The player character is knocked off his feet by a scripted shell and loses consciousness. The screen then goes black and it takes you back eight days to D-Day where the narrative begins.
    • The third game, Hell's Highway, starts with the protagonist, Baker and his friend, Hartsock, navigating through an abandoned hospital in the midst of a German attack. Baker gets knocked on the ground by a falling bomb, and Hartsock watches as Baker is seemingly executed in front of him. Cut to the beginning, when they first landed. Turns out that the gunshots of Baker's "execution" were actually him shooting at hallucinations.
  • Call of Duty: Big Red One begins in September or October of 1944 as the player, a sergeant in command of The Squad, helps attack a small town during the tutorial. After being wounded in the end, the story flashes back to November 1942 when the player character was a lowly private. After playing the mission which ends with your squad leader being wounded and you taking over, the game essentially skips the events of the tutorial and continues from October or November 1944 until crossing the Sigfried Line in 1945 at the end of the game.
  • Chaos Rings II begins with Darwin facing off against the Final Boss, the Destroyer/Neron. He proceeds to get one hit killed in a Curb-Stomp Battle. Cue the flashback, beginning with time first being frozen by Bachs.
  • Chrono Cross: After naming the main character, you're thrust into a sequence where he, Kid, and a random potential party member are going after Lynx. Eventually some strange events occur, and... Serge wakes up in his bed at home. Naturally he was Dreaming of Things to Come.
  • The intro to Command & Conquer: Red Alert explains why things are different, but not really how things are different (enigmatic comments about time telling the consequences, cut to unexplained CGI war scenes with one side using hammers and sickles as symbols). When the actual campaigns start, it is clear the war has been going on for some time.
  • The Curse of Monkey Island starts in a fair bit of time after its predecessor's Mind Screw ending; what happened in between is never revealed, but hinted at by having it happen again in the game's last two chapters.
  • In Dark Chronicle, immediately after starting a new game you're thrown into the middle of an invasion of King Raybrandt's castle by Emperor Griffon's forces, the latest coup in a long-running war between the future world and the timeline-erasing Big Bad. You only have a very brief explanation of how the controls work before you, as Princess Monica Raybrandt, have to fend off the attackers with sword and magic. It's only after the final fate of the combatants is decided that the narrative calms down and introduces you to the main protagonist, Max, in the present time.
  • Dawn of War II: Retribution starts with the Final Battle as it unfolds from the point of view of side characters.
  • Devil May Cry 4: Dante killed Sanctus in the prologue, but the actual story began before that. A flashback cutscene at the end of Mission 12 explains that Lady requested him to investigate and deal with the Order of the Sword in Fortuna, while Trish secretly went ahead to the destination, carrying the Devil Sword Sparda with her.
  • Devil May Cry 5: The story begins right with Dante, Nero, and new guy V confronting Urizen in the Qliphoth, without much context. It's only later on that we get a few flashbacks explaining how Nero lost his arm, how V was introduced to Dante and Nero, and how Dante got roped up into everything in the first place.
  • Diablo II: More like "In Ultimas Res." All of the cinematics in the original game take place after Diablo's defeat.
  • Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny starts with a Level ???? Zed fighting through Level 999 enemies with little effort, busting into the Darkest Assembly to tell everyone about how he defeated the God of Destruction, how he met his teammates and how all the events led up to where they are now. Roughly half the game is spent catching up to the current time. All of it was part of Zed's plan to get Cerberus to reveal what he was hiding out in the open.
  • Discworld Noir: The game opens with Lewton buried, having been fatally stabbed in a cinematic. The first half of the game is his story of how he got into this situation, the second is how he deals with its aftermath.
  • Donut County spends half of the game with everyone in Donut County trapped in a large hole and recalling how each of them wound up below their beloved county.
  • Dragon Age II starts with Varric being interrogated by Cassandra Pentaghast as she tries to find out about Hawke. The rest of the game is a case of How We Got Here with the Varric-Cassandra interrogation forming a framing device for each new act of the game.
  • Dragon Quest VIII starts after the hero has already agreed to help the cursed king and princess, and even after he's already recruited his first companion, and with very little exposition as to how things got this way. It's not until you recruit your next companion that she asks about the situation, and you're treated to Yangus and Trode's interpretation of How They Got There.
  • Endless Ocean 2: Blue World's opening features L&L Diving Services witnessing a large gathering of whales in the Red Sea and diving down to discover the entrance to the Cavern of the Gods. The game then properly begins during the player's first day with L&L, with the rest of the game leading to the events shown in the opening.
  • The Ghosts of Maple Creek, in the Enigmatis series begins with the main character running through the woods in a stormy night, presumably pursued by someone or something. As she loses her memory shortly afterwards, much of the plot is about figuring out how she got there.
  • Eternal Darkness goes all over the place with this. The game starts after all the major events in the story had already happened, though you won't actually know it until you start reading through the Tome of Eternal Darkness. The events told in the book aren't told in the right order either since the story's flow can go back and forth between different eras.
  • Far Cry Instincts: Evolution opens with a rail gun sequence atop a fleeing Humvee. As the Humvee is surrounded, main character Jack muses " the hell did I get here?" The game then cuts to Jack at a tropical bar, where the storyline kicks off.
  • Final Fantasy often embraces this trope:
    • Final Fantasy II starts off in the middle of a civil war between an empire and a resistance force.
    • In Final Fantasy IV, the player joins a captain who is returning from a slaughter, about which he and his men feel deep regret.
    • Final Fantasy VI opens with two soldiers and an amnesiac attacking a town. You're provided some exposition, but the background of this scene is unclear. It's made all the more baffling because you control the bad guys.
    • Final Fantasy VII starts with Cloud and AVALANCHE leaping off a train, beating up guards, and infiltrating a power plant to blow it up. You get some tidbits of information in the elevator, but you don't know what's going on or why until the mission is over.
    • Final Fantasy X begins this way, with the heroes gathered around a fire near the end of Yuna's pilgrimage. The first words are "Listen to my story," and playing the game then proceeds to tell us How We Got Here.
    • Final Fantasy X-2 begins in the middle of a mission to recover Yuna's stolen Songstress dressphere. We never actually see her joining the Gullwings, though they do explain why she joined them.
    • Final Fantasy XIII has this in spades. The game drops you right into the middle of its world, starting off with a large-scale action scene. It fills in exactly what is happening later (if the player does the assigned reading).
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 follows suit by starting Noel's side of the story in the middle and filling the beginning in at the beginning of the game. DLC expansions also serve as the beginning to the stories well underway parallel to the main story's progression.
    • Final Fantasy XV opens up with an older-looking Noctis and his party, in regal gear, fighting a mysterious fire-wielding figure on a throne before the game fades to the real opening and start of the game proper as a How We Got Here setup.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics starts off with Ramza being a mercenary while he defends a church from bandits who are seeking to kidnap the princess. After the battle, he tells his allies on how he became a mercenary. From there, the game goes back a few years to show Ramza becoming a Squire at the academy and the events he witnessed.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's: Security Breach: After an intro scene showing the Glamrocks performing on-stage and Freddy glitching, the game opens with Gregory hiding inside Glamrock Freddy, having already been chased by Vanessa beforehand.
  • Gears of War opens with Marcus Fenix busting out of prison, with no explanation given as to what's happening or who or what the strange Orc people shooting at you are. The game actually does have an intro movie that briefly explains the whole COG vs Locust war, but it oddly DOESN'T play when you start a new game, only if you idle on the main menu for a couple minutes.
  • The first God of War begins with Kratos standing on a cliff, stating "The Gods of Olympus have abandoned me... now, there is no hope..." before he simply falls off. Gaia spouts some babble while the camera shows him falling down the mountain, and when he finally hits the ocean... the screen blacks out and the game flashes back a couple weeks to when Kratos was sailing the Aegean Sea. Also, as the adventure moves forward, Kratos' backstory is revealed in medias res. So the first God of War starts at the end, goes to the middle, and visits the beginning multiple times through the story.
  • Halo:
    • Halo: Combat Evolved begins with the warship Pillar of Autumn emerging from faster than light travel after fleeing from the most recent defeat in a war against aliens that humanity has been losing for decades. Of course, all the stuff that happened before this scene isn't really covered in the games (with the exception of Halo: Reach and Halo Wars).
    • Halo Infinite: Moreso than any prior Halo game, A LOT has happened between the end of Halo 5: Guardians and the beginning of this story. Rather than having a large Info Dump at the first convenient time, much of the game allows the details to be revealed gradually over the course of the story and in more natural conversations, as Chief has to unpack a number of mysteries from his last mission on Zeta Halo and what happened while he was in stasis.
  • killer7 begins with the Smith syndicate storming Kun Lan's headquarters, and only after poking around the building does it become clear what it is you're there for, where the enemies are coming from and who the hell you even are.
  • King's Heir: Rise to the Throne begins with Edmund getting hanged, then the game backtracks to earlier that day and tells the events that led up to the hanging before moving on.
  • Knights of the Old Republic begins with a Sith attack on the Endor Spire, the ship you're serving aboard. You'll only get a reasonable grasp of what's going on after you escape the ship and talk with the other survivor, Carth. Almost certainly a homage to the original Star Wars.
  • The supplementary comic for Left 4 Dead shows Bill lying in a pool of blood in a dark room while three Tanks are closing in on him. The comic then goes back a few weeks where the survivors just escaped from the farmhouse (Blood Harvest campaign) and being rescued by the military before they realize that the rescue isn't exactly a rescue. The comic then shows how the survivors escaped and made their way down south to where The Sacrifice campaign took place in the game and then catching back up to intro scenes from the first page of the comic.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel starts off with the playable characters trying to make way for the railway guns before they witness them shooting with the protagonist screaming a Big "NO!". It then flashbacks a few months before the incident showing how Class VII was formed all the way towards the military base in chapter 5.
    • Ditto Cold Steel III where five students wearing blue uniforms are trying to get to a giant robot only to be saved by The Hero of the first two games before it flashbacks to a few months before how new Class VII got to the naval fortress.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero starts off with the protagonists group infiltrating a dungeon before it flashes back to the start of the game where The Hero wakes up from sleeping on the train bound for Crossbell. This ends up being a plot point for its sequel Trails to Azure since in the beginning of this sequence, Estelle and Joshua are suspiciously absent when this sequence is revisted in the final dungeon of Zero.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild begins with an amnesiac Link awakening in the Shrine of Resurrection one hundred years after the Kingdom of Hyrule was destroyed by Calamity Ganon. Link must gradually figure out how that happened, why he was in the Shrine of Resurrection, and who he is both by recovering his memories from the past and by getting extra exposition from other characters who know what happened back then.
  • Max Payne:
    • The first game opens with Max on the rooftop of a building, having landed a successful sniper shot. The entire rest of the game reveals How He Got There via Flash Back.
    • Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne begins with an injured Max and Mona laying on the floor of a mansion with police outside. The rest of the game shows How They Got There in Flash Back... which, in turn, starts with a bloodied Max attempting to escape from a hospital. The two Parts that follow reveal How He Got There via Flash Back.
    • Max Payne 3 begins with Max standing over a man who has an arm missing and most of his body badly burned. It is implied that Max did this as he laments what he has become. The rest of the game explain why he did this and who this person is.
  • The first Metal Gear game introduces the characters Solid Snake and Big Boss, and later games explore their backstories and incorporate it into an epic Myth Arc that has been in play for decades.
  • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge starts with Guybrush hanging on a rope over a huge chasm. The better part of the game is spent on him recounting the events that led to this predicament. After he finishes the rope almost immediately snaps.
  • Need for Speed: Underground starts putting you right behind the wheel of a bonus car equipped with nitrous. It was All Just A Daydream. Similarly, Need for Speed: Most Wanted also gives you A Taste of Power, where the car is sabotaged and you lose the race, then it has you play through several events leading up to it.
  • Odin Sphere begins in the middle of a battle between Ragnanival and Ringford, with little explanation on what they're fighting over provided on the outset. For added effect, Gwendolyn's story has the latest starting point of all the characters in the overall timeline.
  • The Reservoir Dogs heist in PAYDAY 2, like the movie it gets its name from, starts out after a botched heist. The crew meets Mr. Blonde in a warehouse to discuss how to proceed after Bain disappears. After completing the day, you go back to play the heist itself, and see firsthand how the heist went wrong and what happened to Bain.
  • Persona 5: The game begins after your entire Badass Crew has assembled and you're seemingly robbing a Casino. After a Downer Beginning sequence where the Protagonist is captured by police, the game flashes back over 6 months earlier, as the Protagonist recounts his How We Got Here tale to a public prosecutor.
    • The sequel, Persona 5 Strikers, opens similarly: we see Joker jumping atop buildings in Shibuya, where he encounters a helicopter shadow with a minigun, whom he takes down, leading to a tutorial sequence where you tear through a horde of hundreds of shadows before transitioning to the beginning of the story. We learn the context a few hours later: that scene is part of an operation to demolish a barrier blocking the way to the first Jail Monarch's lair.
  • Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs begins with you, as a veteran Rangner, and The Lancer in high speed aerial pursuit of several Pincher goons, in stark contrast to the prior two games which had you as a beginner. Minor backstory tidbits are displayed as flashbacks when they become relevant throughout the game.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time does this, overlapped with a Framing Device, although instead of being during an action sequence, it's instead very near the end of the plot, as he's telling his story to Farah. When you select "Save and Quit," the Prince even says, "Very well. I'll continue my story from here later." Note that the storyline-as-narration leads to some funny Fridge Logic when you realize, based on the Prince's lines when you have to continue, his story to Farah must have included lines like, "And then I was killed by the sand monster! ...No, wait a second..." The Prince himself lampshades this. When you die for real he says "No, wait. That's not how it happened. Let me start again." Lampshaded again when he concedes that he might actually be mad after all. And he was killed by the sand monster anyway (temporarily), so it makes sense that he's a little confused.
  • The first level of [PROTOTYPE] takes place near the end of the game, so it is simultaneously this and a Taste of Power.
  • The intro movie to The Punisher ends with Frank Castle being arrested, and subsequent pre-level cinematics show him being interrogated by two cops; most of the game's levels take place prior to this questioning.
  • A few of Telltale's Sam and Max games start out like this.
    • "Night of the Raving Dead" from the second season opens with the duo caught in the antagonists' death trap, following them reminiscing about how they got there.
    • "The Penal Zone", the first episode of season 3 opens with the two already confronting the Big Bad of the episode. In a twist this is not taking place at the present leading into a flashback, but rather a flashforward the present day Sam and Max are watching, leading the two to eventually do their best to bring themselves to the future that was previously being played at the beginning. However, the villain sees the future as well and manages to avert it, meaning the duo must now do things differently to defeat him than in the future vision they originally viewed.
  • Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves begins with a level where Sly infiltrates the island fortress of one Dr. M. He communicates with various allies via videophone, though their faces are blacked out. When you reach a certain point in the level, Sly has to fight a giant boss, which knocks his staff away and captures him, slowly crushing him to death. He takes this time to recall How We Got Here, and the subsequent chapters deal with him recruiting the allies who'll help with the final level's grand heist.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog:
    • While the Sonic Adventure 2 dark side story is told in chronological order, the hero side story begins In Medias Res. The game begins with Sonic already in G.U.N. custody, before escaping from a helicopter, fighting Shadow, then being recaptured. The next scene is the confrontation on Angel Island, where Knuckles shatters the Master Emerald. In the dark story, the scene on Angel Island is set before Sonic's capture by G.U.N..
    • Unlike most previous games with a story, Sonic Colors doesn't have a proper opening cutscene; the game throws you into the first two acts of the game, and a cutscene afterwards tells you how Sonic and Tails got to Eggman's amusement park. Heck, this even extends to the gameplay as well, since you don't get to give your file a name and profile until after you complete the first two levels.
    • Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric starts off with Sonic being encircled by Lyric's robots and seemingly dying as they open fire — before cutting to yesterday. It then does this a second time by immediately throwing Sonic and friends into a chase for Eggman as the first gameplay segment. Notably, when the scene from the opening occurs proper, Sonic's perfectly fine afterwards and thus renders the drama from the start of the game as a pointless attention bait.
  • Spec Ops: The Line begins with a helicopter chase over Dubai that ends in a sandstorm and fiery crash before going back to "earlier" when Walker, Adams and Lugo first arrived in the city. When you reach the part of the plot where the helicopter chase happens, Walker, who is crazy and going crazier, apparently gets a huge sense of Déjà Vu and says "This isn't right, we did this already!" According to the game's writer, a possible interpretation is this is because he did: Walker, Adams and Lugo actually died in the helicopter crash at the start of the game and the rest of the game is Walker's Dying Dream.
  • Spider-Man: Web of Shadows is like this, but rather than start in the middle, it starts minutes from the ending. This leads to a How We Got Here.
  • START AGAIN START AGAIN START AGAIN: a prologue opens with the heroes entering the King's Castle, and a brief Flash Forward before jumping back again. For Siffrin, this is far from the first time he's gone through these events, and his goal has shifted; in addition to finding some way to defeat the King, he's desperate to ensure his companions stay Locked Out of the Loop and don't learn what they've been going through.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The wedding scene that plays during the Attract Mode of Super Paper Mario. Chronologically, that scene occurs during the span of time when Mario is blacked out, after Count Bleck captures Bowser, the Koopa Troop and Luigi partway through the introduction.
    • Super Mario Odyssey begins with Mario in the middle of a battle against Bowser on one of his airships above Princess Peach's Castle. Both Bowser and Peach are dressed in white wedding clothes, with the latter also sporting what seems to be a sentient tiara with eyes. It isn't until Mario gets knocked down into the Cap Kingdom and meets Cappy that he get the whole story about Bowser's planned "royal wedding" with Peach. You also gradually see more and more of how Bowser and the Broodals brought havoc to the various kingdoms as they stole various items for the wedding.
  • Syphon Filter 3 opens with the continuation from the cliffhanger of 2, skip to Logan being questioned in a hearing, and cut to a flashback of Logan (allegedly) murdering a "world leader" with a sniper rifle. Your first mission is spent on how and in what context Logan was shooting, and the entire game is a buildup to the climactic questioning scene, which is about 2 levels from the end.
  • The first chapter of Tales of Monkey Island begins with a confrontation between Guybrush and LeChuck after a Noodle Incident of an adventure.
  • Tomb Raider: Underworld does this — the player makes their way through a burning Croft Manor until Lara is shot at by Zip. We then go back to one week earlier, and then play through a few levels until we are made to play through the intro sequence again, only this time we are shown why Zip was firing at Lara...
  • Torment: Tides of Numenera starts with the player character falling from the atmosphere. Not doing anything results in a Non Standard Game Over.
  • Transistor begins abruptly with Red pulling the titular weapon out of her friend's body and fending off some Processes. Just before the boss fight with Sybil, the game finally flashes back to the attempt on Red's life, the event that kicked off the game's plot just a few minutes before the game actually began.
  • Uncharted is quite fond of this trope:
    • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves begins with Nathan Drake having survived a train crash in the middle of a snowstorm, with the game's earlier chapters showing all the events that led to that moment. Most notably, you get to play the start of the game a second time with new additions now that the full context of the scene has been revealed.
    • Uncharted: Golden Abyss starts with a sequence where Nate calls Dante an asshole that ends with him seemingly killed. We then cut to the start of the story where Nate and Dante first start the adventure as (bickering) chums.
    • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End begins with Nate and Sam in a boat at night during a storm running away from bad guys on the way to an island. A notable instance as it was only inserted at the beginning because the sequence it was in was too long with it included; when you catch up to that part of the story, the game only features a few brief flashes of the original sequence before cutting to what happens afterward.
  • Undertale has many events that already occurred before the game begins. The war between humans and monsters already happened and the monsters losing explains why they all live underground. Chara stumbles into the underground and is adopted by Toriel and Asgore and then dies sometime later to let Asriel absorb their soul and use the combined power to slaughter the humans on the surface. Asriel backs out at the last minute, gets fatally wounded by the humans, and dies when he returns home, which causes his ashes to be sprinkled on the golden flowers he fell on. Alphys infects the flowers with determination (a substance only humans can create naturally without being killed by it), which causes Asriel to be reborn without a soul. Asriel, now calling himself Flowey, becomes a psychopath due to being unable to have or feel empathy and he also discovers he can rewind time via saving and loading. By that time, the game starts from there.
  • Vagrant Story opens with VKP agent Ashley Riot infiltrating Duke Bardorba's manor, during an event that the narration dubs "The Graylands Incident," in which Ashley supposedly murdered the Duke. Want to know why Ashley is there, who sent him, and what is at stake? Watch the Attract Mode. Want to know whether he really murdered a bedridden, old nobleman with a kidnapped son? Finish the game.
  • In Warframe, the player begins The New War quest by directly stepping into the conflict, with no sequences showing the Sentients making their return and the opening moves of the invasion.
  • Warriors Orochi starts in medias res, with Orochi having already devastated the various factions and forced them into the positions from which they will begin their counter-attack. How We Got Here is only briefly glossed over; it isn't explored in depth until the sequel.
  • World in Conflict: The game begins with the Soviet invasion of Seattle, at a point when World War Three has already been ongoing for at least a month in Europe, and two of your superiors make hostile references to events that happened there at each other. The game then follows the main characters through the invasion of the continental US until the turning point of that campaign. Then the game flips back a month and you play through the events in Europe, before returning to the "present" and driving the Soviets out of the US.
  • Zeno Clash begins with Ghat running from his hometown after killing Father-Mother. As he flees his angered brothers and sisters, he explains to Deadra the first half of the plot through flashbacks.

    Visual Novels 
  • Each route of Queen's Gambit opens with Shield and her love interest of choice in the middle of some kind of inflammatory situation, ending on a cliffhanger. The story then skips back to the initial mission briefing and shows the full story of how they ended up there.
  • Steam Prison begins with the heroine regaining consciousness and discovering the bodies of her murdered parents, before shifting back two days to cover the events leading up to this moment.

  • Of the currently existent Agnes Quill stories, all but one use this, starting in the middle of the action late in one case, before wrapping it up and segueing to the one that will be the primary focus of the story. And the overall story also starts in medias res, with Agnes already fairly well-established in her new career — the most important points of how she got there were covered in the Cast page, and further expanded on in supplemental materials included in the book collection.
  • AH Dot Com The Series' first season begins with the characters assembled on the ship, the CF.netters their blood enemies and no explanation for how all of this came to be. This was explained in a series of flashback episodes later on, beginning with the end of season 1 when the Planet Eater that caused the rift between Dr. What and Ward returns.
  • The opening scene of 'Cwynhild's Loom involves the title character being stabbed in the chest while asleep on a train.
  • Played with in Dinosaur Comics "Literary Technique Comics: In Medias Res", where T-Rex explains the trope, but we only see the very end of the explanation.
  • In Erfworld, we join the story only after the Plaid have lost 10 out of their 11 cites, and there is a slight subversion the very first panel of the very first page shows Erfworld being created. You really can't start a story much earlier then that.
  • Girly Part 4 starts in Medias Res, with the protagonists trapped in an alien-looking landscape.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Chapter 7, "Of New and Old", starts off with Annie on the bridge, thinking she shouldn't be there, then goes back to that morning, before showing why she's on the bridge.
    • Chapter 44, "Crash Course", starts off with Annie and Smitty running from the forest in a hurry, before cutting back and showing what happened to cause it.
  • Although Next Town Over starts off with a brief flashback and features snippets of flashbacks every so often later on, readers only get a concrete plot In Medias Res with Vane Black hunting down John Henry Hunter for reasons only vaguely hinted at.
  • Lampshaded in this strip of The Order of the Stick. Additionally, the comic series itself started In Medias Res.
    Elan: Awww, man! I hate it when a scene begins "in medias res"! I never know what's going on until like two strips later!
  • The Overture starts in the middle of the story when Richard has already been enslaved by Sophie. It is only after seeing his hopeless situation that the series jumps back to the beginning.
  • In Rusty and Co. level 3 and level 5 begin in medias res — already in The Lost Woods and with Prestige fleeing the illithids (before her name is known, even), respectively.
  • Used in this Schlock Mercenary plot arc. Also lampshaded in this strip:
    Kevin: As long as it's not in medias Res. That would be really annoying.
  • In Tales of the Questor, after a brief diversion from the main story, the reader sees Quentyn in a predicament with no explanation as to what's going on. The author writes "Um, hold on, maybe I should start at the beginning...", and the next strip begins a few days before.
  • This xkcd strip is entirely In Medias Res. It's presented as the single panel of a comic that Randall Munroe drew before he went missing, consisting of a piece of an adventure where Janeane Garofalo is riding a motorcycle on a space station falling through the atmosphere, while a volcano looms, and she only has enough darts in her tranquillizer pistol for one tyrannosaur. No further context is given.

    Web Original 
  • In Alice Isn't Dead, the story begins well after the truck driver Character Narrator has begun a search for her once-presumed-dead wife Alice, and in the midst of fleeing from a recently acquired Humanoid Abomination stalker. The Narrator spends the bulk of the first episode recounting her first meeting with the stalker, and portions of the second recalling how she began the quest to find her wife.
  • Discussed In Webisode 1 of Bravo Man: Alpha Man mentions this writing technique by name as a fourth wall joke during a subversion of Death by Flashback.
  • Demo Reel, "The Blair Witch Hangover", starts off with Tacoma's apology to Donnie. Fans are left thinking he's apologizing for finding out that Donnie doesn't technically exist, but "Blue Patches" reveals it was done much later, after they find out Donnie's mom killed herself.
  • The Grossery Gang Movie starts in the middle of the climactic battle between the Grossery Gang and the Clean Team, thanks to how Doc Broc is telling the story. The others listening to the story angrily interrupt him and call him out for starting the story with no setup, forcing him to start from the beginning.
  • Parodied/lampshaded in an entry to the 2004 Lyttle Lytton Contest:
    My English teacher, Mrs. Robinson, always said to start in the middle of something interesting, so here's Peter encased in 50 cubic feet of Jell-O.
  • Wormtooth Nation opens with Sam in the middle of a mission of some sort, but he's just been nixed and has no more idea of what's going on than the audience does.

    Western Animation 
  • A few Adventure Time episodes begin with Finn and Jake in the middle of some adventure of theirs, most notably the Season 3 episode "From Bad To Worse" which opens with them, Lady Rainicorn and Lumpy Space Princess escaping from a horde of zombified candy people. From there, well...
  • Amphibia begins with Anne, Sasha, and Marcy already stuck in Amphibia. The second episode begins with a flashback of Anne stealing the Calamity Box and the trio being transported. Flashbacks in "Reunion" and "True Colors" show the events of the day they left, explaining why Anne stole the box.
  • Several episodes of Arthur open in the middle or even at the end, as Arthur gives his usual opening statement to the viewers, then flash back after the title card to establish How We Got Here.
    • The episode "Double Dare" opens with Arthur and Buster in the school bathroom, trying to pull Francine in through the window, with absolutely no context whatsoever beyond Arthur's narration. It eventually catches up with itself about two-thirds of the way in.
    • "Arthur and the Big Riddle" starts at the very end, with Arthur being hoisted aloft and cheered by his classmates, clutching a handful of chocolate sticks. He cryptically asks the viewers, "When is it better to lose than to win?" Cue episode-long flashback.note 
    • In the intro to "Take a Hike, Molly", Binky is pleading Molly to finally say something. This turns out to be a scene from before the climax of the episode, where the Tough Customers want Molly to finally apologize for all the trouble she's put them through on their nature hike.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes begins by skipping over the origin stories of Iron Man, the Hulk, Ant-Man, and The Wasp, as well as the stories of how Thor and Hawkeye became crimefighters. Word of God says the writers assumed that viewers would already know Iron Man's and the Hulk's origins from their respective movies, that Thor's heroic training didn't seem as important to depict as his arrogance and leave from Asgard did, and that detailing how Ant-Man and Wasp got their powers so early on in the series would leave the two of them with less time to impress viewers who never read their comics.
    • Captain America's introductory episode begins after he became an American icon. However, it does open with a newsreel recounting his origin story, for the convenience of viewers who did not know it.
    • This trope is averted for Black Panther and Ms. Marvel, whose origin stories occur during the first season instead of before it, and The Vision, whose birth occurs during season two.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold began with Batman having already been active for years, which makes sense since by now, you'd have to be living under a rock to not know his origin story. This was especially helpful in introducing the younger, more diverse crop of legacy heroes, since this meant the writers could start with Jaime Reyes as the Blue Beetle and Ryan Choi as The Atom without having to worry too much about their predecessors (though the prior Blue Beetle and Atom were eventually explained via Flashbacks).
  • The Bob's Burgers Season 5 premiere episode, "Work Hard or Die Trying, Girl", opens on an argument on the opening night of the school's fall musical, a musical adaptation of Working Girl by Gene's ex-girlfriend Courtney. It follows various characters' (sometimes hilariously skewed) recollections of the events that lead to Gene plotting a guerrilla performance of his Die Hard musical on the same night.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers counts as this — the Five-Episode Pilot, "To the Rescue", is episodes #28-32 in production order.
  • Code Lyoko: Many episodes begin in the middle of the action on Lyoko. This strongly implies that not all of XANA's attacks are shown, several happening off-screen. There is even one How We Got Here in "Bragging Rights". The show itself starts without a Pilot or Premiere episode; there was no explanation of how Team Lyoko discovered the Supercomputer, programmed their virtual avatar appearances and abilities, or came to meet Aelita, until a two-part prequel in Season 3.
  • Cro had an interesting hybrid for its premiere: the Framing Device, a mammoth talking about the good old days before he was frozen, was of the One We Prepared Earlier type, while the main story started with the Welcome Episode type with Cro meeting up with the mammoths for the first time.
  • Many cartoons like Danny Phantom and The Wild Thornberrys (which use the title sequence to explain the premise of the show). Thornberrys did have a sort of belated Welcome Episode with "Gift of Gab", explaining how Eliza got said gift. As did Danny Phantom with the episode "Memory Blank".
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Batman: The Animated Series began similarly. Interestingly, the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics also had the character introduced fully-fledged without backstory. Notably, Batman's origin (i.e., his parents getting killed) wasn't given any direct screen time until the Justice League Unlimited episode "For the Man Who Has Everything", though episodes of the Animated Series (e.g. "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne") and Mask of the Phantasm regularly hinted at it.
    • Justice League itself also qualifies. Aside from Superman, who had an origin story built into Superman: The Animated Series, and the Martian Manhunter, whose origin is worked into the plot of the first episode, the cast is introduced without backstory and they already know each other (except Wonder Woman). Several episodes within the DCAU have this as well: In Batman's "Dreams in Darkness," we open with Batman suddenly being locked up in Arkham Asylum while "Over the Edge" began with Commissioner Gordon storming the Batcave with Batman and Robin on the run and their identities compromised. Superman had "The Late Mr. Kent", which began with people attending Clark Kent's funeral and its Grand Finale "Legacy" opened with Superman already a Brainwashed and Crazy minion of Darkseid's.
  • Every epiosde of Detentionaire begins during the climax, usually with protagonist Lee Ping running to get back to detention before the principal realizes he's missing. The episode then cuts back to some time earlier, and we see the events that led to said climax.
  • The Fantastic Four (1967) kicks off some time after the Fantastic Four first became superheroes, and after Reed and Sue got married.
  • The Flintstones: "The Soft Touchables" starts with Fred and Barney already running a detective agency.
  • The "US Acres" shorts in Garfield and Friends begun with all the main players already in their place. While a few episodes showed Orson's life on his old home farm, there's no episode explaining how he came to live in his new home. Likewise, Booker and Sheldon got their origin story made into an episode, but no episode explaining how Orson and friends met Bo and Lanolin was produced.
  • The very first episode of Gravity Falls begins with Dipper and Mabel escaping from a giant monster in a golf cart. Then, we get a flashback to explain how the kids get there.
  • Some stories on Guess with Jess, such as "What Do We Need To Grow Beans?" open with something having already happened and Jess narrating in the form of a story how a question was answered. For example, in "What Do We Need To Grow Beans?", Jess explains how the group grew a beanstalk as a surprise for Mimi, but first they had to figure out how to do it.
  • The Johnny Bravo episode "The Day The Earth Didn't Move Around Very Much" has Johnny in court explaining in flashbacks why he behaved the way he did with everyone seemingly frozen in time but him.
  • Kaeloo: Episode 135 starts with the main four in the middle of re-enacting Les Misérables with no explanation given.
  • Miraculous Ladybug starts with the heroes inexperienced but settling into their roles as protectors of Paris. Their origin story is not covered until the two-part season 1 finale.
    • This also applies to some episodes. "Oblivio" starts with Ladybug and Chat Noir having had their memories erased by the Monster of the Week, and "Desperada" has the titular villain already akumatized offscreen; in both cases, the events that lead to them being akumatized are not revealed until after they're defeated.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Magical Mystery Cure" plays like this. The ponies all start with their cutie marks already switched and Twilight has to do some investigating before knowing how they got switched.
  • Over the Garden Wall begins with Wirt and Greg wandering around the Unknown, with Wirt suddenly questioning how they got there and where their home is. Despite their odd outfits, it's hinted that they come from a more modern, normal world, and Wirt alludes to a few events that happened before their arrival, but it's only in the ninth and penultimate episode that we get a Whole Episode Flashback. (Which notably reveals that, just before finding themselves in the forest, they were drowning, implying that the Unknown is the afterlife and/or some kind of dream world).
  • Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension begins with Phineas, Ferb and Doctor Doofenzmirtz (characters who normally never meet) in chains and about to be killed, while Phineas remarks that he's "having trouble putting a positive spin on this". Then they cut back to earlier that day, explaining how the boys and Doof happened to meet, and the wacky hijinks, emotional upheaval and bad-ass fight sequences that ensued. Once they finally catch up to the start, Phineas just fast forwards through his dialog while Ferb notices a sense of deja vu. Also kicks off the episode "Remains of the Platypus"; you'll definitely want to work out how we got to Karl-The-Squirrel-Man, Perry the Butler, Doofenshmirtz partying in his underwear, and the dancing Royal guards.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998), although the short that creator Craig McCracken initially submitted to Cartoon Network was an origin story that wasn't used due to an inappropriate title ("The Whoop-Ass Girls") and was pretty much the same as the opening. While the opening sequence does introduce the characters quickly, a real origin story doesn't occur until The Movie.
    • This also happens with the episode "Him Diddle Riddle", as the Girls are already in the middle of solving Him's series of trials.
  • It isn't until four episodes into Rainbow Brite that we get a backstory.
  • The Regular Show episode "Exit 9B" starts with the park already destroyed and everyone other than Mordecai and Rigby brainwashed.
  • In the Rick and Morty episode "Look Who's Purging Now", a man wrote a screenplay using this trope, and asks Morty for feedback:
    Morty: I Feel, you know, we should start our stories where they begin, not start them when they get interesting.
  • Robin Hood: Mischief in Sherwood doesn't explain how the characters met until the final episode.
  • Ruby Gloom's very first episode began this way. Most of the story is told in flashback, and it involves three characters thinking that Ruby is moving out of the house and two others thinking that she's dying.
  • Samurai Jack had a "proper" origin episode, but there was a special preview episode on Kid's WB before it debuted on Cartoon Network; it would later air as the fourth episode.
  • The Simpsons does this regularly. Though the original pilot did feature an opening scene of the family eating breakfast where we get a feel for all their personalities. This was toned down when the episode was turned into the first season finale. In terms of actual stories where this applies, there's "The Telltale Head" which begins with Bart and Homer walking down the street with the head of the statue of Jebediah Springfield, before an angry mob chases them. Cue episode-length flashback.
  • Solar Opposites: The series takes place about a year after the aliens crashed on Earth.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) starts ten years after the near-complete downfall of civilization on Planet Mobius, during the tyrannical reign of Julian Robotnik. We are immediately introduced to a team of Freedom Fighters who are struggling to bring down his empire.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man: The Animated Series started out just assuming that everyone knew who Spider-Man was and his backstory. Later we did get a couple things about his past fleshed out, but it wasn't until the third season that we actually saw the entire story of how he got his powers and decided to become a hero.
    • The 1967 Spider-Man cartoon began similarly. The second season premiere, on the other hand, specifically kicked off with "The Origin of Spider-Man".
    • Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends went a full season without origins for the titular trio, either individually or as a group; their personal origins were the focus of the three-episode second season, and "The Origin of the Spider-Friends" appeared midway through season three.
    • The Spectacular Spiderman saved its origin episode for the second-to-last episode of the first season.
  • The Spliced episode "Octocataclysm" begins in this manner, with Mister Smarty Smarts chasing Octocat around with a ray gun before the episode switches over to explain what happened. This is lampshaded later when the episode finally reaches back to where it began, with Peri attempting to explain the concept to the confused Entree.
  • Star Wars Rebels: "Breaking Ranks" begins with Ezra having been undercover as an Imperial cadet for several weeks. The tie-in novel series Servants of the Empire shows him initially going undercover, but from the POV of someone who doesn't know this.
  • Star Wars Resistance: "Station to Station" is a Villain Episode told mostly from the perspective of Anti-Villain Tam. As a result, Kaz and Neeku's infiltration of the Titan space station is shown when they're already in the middle of it, with information like where they got their disguises and how the Colossus resistance found out about the Titan duly left out.
  • The first two episodes of SWAT Kats cut straight to the action. It isn't until the introduction of Dark Kat in Episode 3 that we learn about the history of the two vigilantes through flashback.
  • For its first five seasons, the traditional episode of the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series began like this, showing events from later in the episode alongside a narration explaining the character's thoughts on the situation.
  • Teen Titans began this way, a surprising rarity for a superhero series. We didn't see a "proper" origin until the fifth season.
  • The Transformers opens with Wheeljack and Bumblebee collecting the last few energy sources on their planet, fighting Starscream, and then the Autobots' and Decepticons' voyage to Earth. It took many episodes until some of the backstory was explained.
  • Every episode of What's with Andy? begins in this style, with Andy Breaking the Fourth Wall to explain to the viewers how he ended up in the present situation.
  • World of Winx, Netflix's spinoff of Winx Club begins with the Winx in spy catsuits in pursuit of a mysterious figure who's been abducting talented young people. They have been on earth for a few months.



How well does it match the trope?

3 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / InMediasRes

Media sources: