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New Old Flame

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A gentle Retcon to allow a previously unmentioned love-of-their-life to pop up for a main character in an episode. Characteristically a Temporary Love Interest, this is a simple way to establish a relationship without buildup. Sometimes the long absence and sudden reappearance are explained by a Fallback Marriage Pact.

Usually, it ends in death, Put on a Bus, death on a bus, or with some similar Reset Button; a less dramatic way to end it is for the couple to simply realise they don't have the same connection they once did. It's theoretically possible that this kind of reunion would result in the old romance rekindling to its former glory or something still greater, but in most cases, Status Quo Is God and this would create too many difficulties.

Often, the character with the New Old Flame is already (re-)married, and it turns out it's not just the audience that's surprised.

Clumsily done, this can mess with the memory of a previous relationship carefully established over a Story Arc, and anger 'shippy fans. Elegantly done, it can leave us with The Woobie.

The inverse situation, where the character does remember the love of their life but the reunion cures them of it, is Old Flame Fizzle.

Compare to Remember the New Guy?, Romantic False Lead, The One That Got Away, Relationship Revolving Door. Contrast Psycho Ex-Girlfriend. See also Oops! I Forgot I Was Married when the old relationship causes legal problems for a current one.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Done in Hayate the Combat Butler, concerning the past of Athena and Hayate. Except that, while Hayate still holds a flame for her, it's not clear if she has the same for him. Their former relationship was left at the point of her and/or the spirit possessing her, wanting to kill him.
  • This trope is the basis of Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi where the main character works under his high school crush at his new job. Played with in that he does not even recognize that person.
  • In Soul Eater, Marie's New Old Flame Joe Buttakaki shows up. They both have leftover feelings for one another and are about to rekindle their relationship... when Joe suffers from Death On A Bus. It set off the Stein/Marie shippers since Stein is the one who consoles her.
  • Done in the Spain arc of Ashita no Nadja, with Carmen as José's NOF. It really doesn't go well.
  • Dad, the Beard Gorilla and I: Just after the titular Beard Gorilla gets back from a dinner date with his crush, he bumps into a never-before-seen woman whom he reveals is his ex-girlfriend. His ex asks to meet up with him, and Kouji is worried she might want to get back together and makes things awkward. Turns out the ex just wants to tell him that she's getting married, but the girl he likes sees them together and makes the wrong assumption anyway.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Daredevil comics, Elektra was introduced as Matt Murdock's previously unmentioned college girlfriend and love of his life. She died but got better.
  • Lori Lemaris was this in the Silver Age Superman comics: Clark Kent's sweetheart from college (who turns out to be secretly an Atlantean mermaid).
  • Glittering Goldie is Scrooge McDuck's one true love. They break up due to poor communication kills ... and some accident and bad choices and such. "The Prisoner of White Agony Creek", "Hearts of the Yukon" and "Last Sled to Dawson" show as much.
  • In the epilogue of Dark Reign, during the funeral of Sentry, Rogue reveals that they were in a relationship.
  • Billy Powers, an old high school boyfriend of Michael's, turns up in the Ms. Tree story "Drop Dead Handsome". It doesn't feel especially forced as very little about Michael's high school days had been revealed. It ends about as well as any of Michael's relationships do.
  • A while back, we learned that Bruce Banner of all people had an incredibly hot girlfriend in college, but dumped her because he was a neurotic twit. She's now an evil scientist, and still bitter about the breakup.
  • In an issue of Matt Fraction's Defenders series, Doctor Strange accidentally brought his college crush Back from the Dead. They spent a few days "renewing acquaintances" before he had to tell her what he'd done.
  • Happens to Wolverine all the time, due to his long life and Expansion Pack Past. Notably, when Jean Grey first manifested as the Phoenix way back when, Wolverine spends some time thinking about how he'd never loved anyone as much as he loved her. Given that at least a half-dozen apparently serious relationships have since been added to his pre-X-Men days, it suggests that either he didn't really love them, or he loved Jean (a girl who, at the time, regarded him as nothing but annoying) beyond all reason.
  • In Birds of Prey, readers learn that Black Canary has an ex-husband whom she married (and divorced) while in college.
  • Hunter's Hellcats: In Our Fighting Forces #111, Hunter discovers that La Résistance leader codenamed 'Alouette' the Hellcats are being sent to rescue is his old college sweetheart.
  • In Lori Lovecraft: The Big Comeback, Lori encounters ex-lover R.C. Bowman: a former private eye now working as studio security.

    Fan Works 
  • The Star Trek Online Foundry mission 'The Interwarp Experiment' has this as one option for the backstory between the Player Character and Commander Jerrod Dalton. He was either your madly-in-love soulmate at Starfleet Academy, or he was your bitter rival. He dies of radiation poisoning during the mission.

    Film — Animated 
  • The titular Robin Hood and Maid Marian, who had been childhood friends and were in love before they were separated for some time and later reunited.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Tomorrow Never Dies, the villain's wife, Paris Carver, is an old lover of James Bond. Given Bond's history, this probably happens a lot.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Jack has one in The Dragon, Angelica, Blackbeard's daughter. Notable in that she is the only woman he has ever truly loved.
  • Done with a twist in Robot and Frank. Frank is smitten with Jennifer, the small town's librarian. As it turns out, she's actually his ex-wife from before, but he doesn't remember due to his growing Alzheimer's.
  • La Habanera kicks off with Astrée, a young Swedish woman vacationing in Puerto Rico, falling in love with a local landowner and impulsively deciding to stay. A ten-year Time Skip reveals that the marriage has gone bad. Then the film cuts back to Sweden and reveals Dr. Nagel, her old boyfriend from the backstory before she came to Puerto Rico. Naturally, Dr. Nagel winds up going to Puerto Rico too.
  • Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears: As is typical for the divine Miss Fisher, Professor Linnaeus is yet another former admirer of hers (who would like very much to be a current admirer) who was never mentioned in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. (This kind of thing happens all the time in the books as well.)
  • Young Lady Chatterley II introduces Robert as Cynthia's First Love. She is overjoyed when she learns he is coming to visit her estate in England. She is shocked to discover that he has joined the priesthood in their years apart.
  • Blonde Savage: When Steve Blake arrives at Mark Harper's diamond mine, he discovers that Harper's wife Connie is a former girlfriend of his whom he has not seen in five years. Connie immediately starts making a play for the handsome Blake as her ticket out of the jungle.
  • In The Bravados, Jim Douglass rides into Rio Arriba hoping to see the execution of the four men he believes murdered his wife. In town, Douglass happens upon Josefa Velarde, whom he met and fell in love with nearly five years previously in New Orleans. She has been looking after her late father's ranch and has never married.
  • Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: Despite Anjali is already engaged to Aman, by the time she and his long lost best friend, Rahul, meet again after being estranged for years, she comes to fall for Rahul again.
  • The Parent Trap (1998): Upon seeing his ex-wife again after being estranged for years, Nick obviously falls in love again with Elizabeth as he is unable to take his eyes off of her despite being with his fiancée, Meredith, inside an elevator. Later, when encountering Elizabeth again, he is so mesmerized by her beauty, so much so that he plunges into the pool.

  • The Hollows: Pierce, Rachel's guy she compares all other guys with, shows up even though we have never heard of him before. When explaining his back story, they bring up that he had helped her defeat an undead vampire. While this incident is occasionally mentioned over the course of the books, this is the first time where it is mentioned that she had help.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Ferdinand reappears. With even a reasonable explanation of why he didn't show up for their wedding. Then it turns out he's a fake, then it turns out — let's just say this trope gets zigzagged in this work.
  • Chad in the Tales of an Mazing Girl story "Weirder Spreadsheets of love it turns out he was less a lost lover then a guy she slept with once to boost his popularity
  • The Star Trek novel Shadows On A Sun brings back McCoy's ex-wife and has the start of a romance before she dies.
    • Lampshaded in How Much for Just the Planet?, in which McCoy ribs Kirk about how many of the people they've met who were his girlfriend at one point or another, and even Spock joins in, stating that the doctor raises a "valid statistical point". Surprising no one except Kirk, he briefly dated the ambassador they're transporting around eighteen years ago and just misremembered her name. McCoy excuses himself and Spock, presumably so he can die laughing somewhere in private.
  • In Son of Summer Stars, Ses eventually reconnects with Calydor after Korr dies. It's all but outright stated to actually work out for them.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Jago had a close relationship with Daniar in the past; expecting-a-child close. However, he is not mentioned in the previous book, Trapped on Draconica, where Daniar starts a relationship with Kalak that ends with marriage and a kid by the time he is introduced.
  • In the Discworld novel Lords and Ladies, though neither character is actually new, it does come as a bit of a surprise to learn that Mustrum Ridcully and Esmerelda Weatherwax were, at one time, An Item (and are explicitly stated to be married in an alternate reality).
  • In Överenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt, Lily Tremaine is this to Seth (the story's male protagonist). But in the end, they break off their engagement, so Lily can be with her new love Alexandre and Seth can be with Beatrice (the story's female protagonist).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Frasier's first wife in Cheers. She appeared twice more in Frasier, each time played by a different actress.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Sheridan's real first wife in the fifth season, Captain Elizabeth Locksley. They were only married for a couple of months before they realized that, both of them having dominant personalities, they couldn't really make it work long-term. Interestingly, in this case, the "former wife" angle wasn't used for any of the normal reasons, but to explain why Sheridan knew he could trust her, even though she'd fought on the opposite side of Sheridan during the war. This is brought up again in Crusade, just to tease Gideon about his hero.
    • Lise Hampton, Garibaldi's former significant other, shows up mid-fourth-season (after a couple of mentions in the first season) married to his new boss, William Edgars. To Garibaldi's credit, he kept things remarkably professional. In a strange twist (for this trope, not for the overall storyline, in which you could see it coming a mile off), Edgars dies (no, Garibaldi didn't do it, nor did he even necessarily want it to happen) and the two get back together by the end of the season. Not only that, but Garibaldi essentially inherits Edgars's financial empire through her (though this is considered a side effect of the marriage), quitting as security chief and moving to Mars Dome.
    • Catherine Sakai, Commander Sinclair's old flame, shows up unexpectedly on the station in season one. In the season one finale, they get engaged. Sinclair's recall to Minbar and travelling back in time to become Valen put a stop to the wedding, though, and Catherine simply vanished from the story. The Expanded Universe finally stepped in and wrote that Catherine got yanked through a time rift and it all worked out — about a thousand years ago.
  • MacGyver (1985), at least twice, in "Flame's End" and "Jericho Games".
  • The same plot mechanism is put to different use (with shades of "Luke, I Am Your Father") in The Pretender episode "At the Hour of Our Deaths", which revolves around Miss Parker's adoptive sister — never hinted at before, dead by the end of the episode, and never referred to again. The series also included several straight instances.
  • Lucille in the last two episodes of Chef! (1993) served this purpose.
  • Justified when Three and Two's respective old flames Sarah and Dr Irena Shaw are introduced in Dark Matter (2015), since the Raza crew are all total amnesiacs and not even the protagonists themselves knew they existed.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "School Reunion": In the Classic series, Sarah Jane was at most an occasionally Implied Love Interest with tons of chemistry with both her Doctors and some very subtle Ship Tease hints regarding the Fourth Doctor having one-sided feelings for her. This New series episode does away with the subtext entirely and revisions her into The One That Got Away.
    • Reconstructed in River Song. She is most likely a new old flame from the Doctor's personal future. When the Tenth Doctor meets her for the first time, she is extremely intimate with him right from the start, even knowing his true name and calling him sweetie and pretty boy. Then she sacrifices herself to save 4400 people, including the Doctor, and dies in front of him. After he regenerates into the Eleventh Doctor, they spend several episodes flirting, during which Amy Pond decides she must be the Doctor's future wife. By the end of the fifth series, he may or may not have proposed to her. (He seems unsure himself whether he just did or not.)
    • And now, as of the end of the sixth series, we see on-screen Eleven and River Song getting married.
  • Jack Harkness and John Hart in Torchwood, John is also Jack's Evil Counterpart.
    • Unsurprisingly, Jack has a few more of these. The radio plays gave us Stella Courtney (from 30 years ago) in The Dead Line, and the Duchess in Golden Age (very much a New Old Flame; he hasn't seen her since 1924, she hasn't aged a day).
    • And again from the series itself, Estelle from the episode "Small Worlds". The twist in that case being that Jack is passing himself off as the son of her former lover (himself), apparently not wanting to explain his immortality to her. However, when she's killed by the fairies, Jack is clearly heartbroken.
    • Plus, in Torchwood: Children of Earth, there's Jack's former lover and mother of his daughter. We never meet her as she has already died by this point, but she definitely counts.
    • Then there's Angelo in Torchwood: Miracle Day, who ends up being the reason this whole mess started. Unfortunately, he comes back on his deathbed, in a coma, and dies shortly after.
  • Ranger Ben served as one of these for C.J. in The West Wing.
  • Happened in an episode of Angel when Doyle's ex-wife, Harry, popped in to get their divorce papers signed. Needless to say, Doyle's new love interest Cordelia was surprised by how much that bothered her.
  • Due South:
    • Victoria and Fraser at the end of the first season.
    • In season 2, Ray V's high school sweetheart, Irene Zuko, was introduced and killed in the episode "Juliet is Bleeding".
  • An episode of M*A*S*H had womanizing Hawkeye's "one true love" from med school show up.
  • Don Eppes of NUMB3RS has a few.
    • In "Counterfeit Reality", the Secret Service agent working the case is Don's ex-fiancee from Albuquerque. Since it's still early in the series, it's more of this to Charlie (who didn't even realize Don had been seriously involved with anyone) than to the audience.
    • "Guns and Roses" had Don investigating the murder of an ex-girlfriend he had never mentioned. Somewhat justified in that he apparently had quite a few exes, and there's no reason for him to have mentioned this one in particular until she became the subject of his case.
    • Liz Warner edges into this on her first appearance; she and Don were never actually together, likely at least in part because he was her teacher, but it's pretty clear by the way they talk about it that there were some mutual feelings even back then.
  • Used in the aptly-named Hogan's Heroes episode "Klink's Old Flame". It's played with, though: Klink hears that his old flame is coming to the stalag, but she is now married to an influential general. Knowing that if she rediscovers her old feelings for him, he could end up fired or shot, he takes drastic measures to make himself as unattractive to her as possible. Ultimately subverted though, as it's later revealed she never got past a handshake with him, and she's actually an underground agent who arranged the 'reunion' to meet with Hogan.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Lee Adama is angsty when he is reminded of his ex-girlfriend, whom he ran from after she told him she was pregnant with his child. Which is reasonable, just that he is the closest thing to a protagonist in this show, and the first time this is mentioned is in the 14th episode of the second season.
    • In the minisodes we discover that Gaeta was involved with an Eight model Cylon on New Caprica. It doesn't end well. Although there's been no mention of this up till now, the webisode cleverly works in a previously unexplained Noodle Incident — what Baltar whispered in Gaeta's ear before he found that The Pen Is Mightier.
  • The A-Team:
    • Although not a lover, one episode is based around the funeral of their old army buddy. There's a lot of tender reminiscing and even a lingering close-up of a photo of the five of them standing together in uniform. This is made only slightly less poignant by the fact that we've never heard of this guy before, nor will we again.
    • A more traditional version of the trope is "The Only Church In Town", in which Face's first love Leslie Becktall turns up after a fifteen-year absence. (During which time she's become a nun. Ouch.) The fact that Face never mentioned her before actually makes sense inside the story, however, as she seemingly "dropped off the face of the earth" after standing him up, and this obviously hurt Face a lot, explaining why he wouldn't want to discuss it.
  • The war buddy version is seen in the Firefly episode "The Message" with Tracey.
  • Star Trek:
    • Comes up quite a bit in Star Trek: The Original Series. Despite his reputation as a "love 'em and leave 'em" type, Kirk has apparently had several serious relationships and most of the women, such as Areel Shaw and Janet Wallace, still hold tender feelings toward him. Janice Lester, not so much. This occurred again in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan with Carol Marcus. McCoy and Chapel also have former love interests appear, sort of.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • Lenara Kahn from "Rejoined" is a rare in-universe version of this for Jadzia Dax: the previous hosts of their respective symbionts had been married, but Jadzia and Lenara had never actually met. The episode is used as a metaphor for closeted homosexuality since Trill law forbids previously related symbionts from resuming their past relationship (the fact that their current hosts are both female is unimportant in the story, though clearly relevant for purposes of the metaphor).
      • Played straight in "Profit and Loss", in which Quark's old flame from the Bajoran Occupation, a Cardassian pro-democracy activist named Natima Lang, returns to the station. She is never heard from again after this episode and Quark goes back to his old womanizing tricks.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise introduces Captain Erika Hernandez, captain of the NX-02 Columbia, as Jonathan Archer's ex-girlfriend in season four. Interestingly, they didn't break up for the usual reasons, but simply because he got promoted and she didn't, so their relationship went against regs. After the Xindi crisis, they're again equal in rank, and after a couple of nights of mountain climbing and soul-searching, they rekindle their romance. The later episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence", in which Erika reappears, neither confirm nor deny whether said rekindling lasted, but a certain intimacy in the way they look at each other hints that this time it stuck.
  • Dr. House and the now-married Stacy.
    • And as of season 7, Cuddy, though that one didn't last long.
    • Zig-zagged with Sam, Wilson's first ex-wife. It was always canon that Wilson had been married and divorced three times, but the only things we knew about Wife #1 were that she was married to Wilson and that she served him with divorce papers the weekend he met House. The series doesn't even give her a name until the episode where Wilson tells Thirteen he's thinking of getting back in contact with her.
  • Bones: When Camille Saroyan joins the cast in Season 2, she's revealed to be an old girlfriend of Booth's, and the two soon resume their relationship for a brief time. It doesn't last too long before they break up mid-season after Cam almost dies and remain very Amicable Exes and good friends for the rest of the series, each finding other love interests with whom they're more compatible (Bones for Booth and Arastoo for Cam).
  • Mad Men introduces an old flame of Roger Sterling's, whom he dated in Paris before the war.
  • Subverted in Earth: Final Conflict: William Boone's old flame appears after several years of absence and, in spite of Boone's wife's recent death, he's unusually inflamed with passion, something extremely out of character for him. It's later revealed that Boone's memories of their life together are false and were included in his cyberviral implant as a loyalty test by the Companions, and they had recruited an FBI agent to play the part of the former girlfriend.
    • It's also unclear if she really is working against the Taelons or was just saying that to test Boone.
  • Supernatural:
    • An oft-ignored season one episode introduces us to Dean Winchester's ex-girlfriend Cassie. We get a glimpse of what Dean looks like in love, and it turns out he's kind of a sap. Sam has fun needling him about it until he realizes who dumped whom and why, and how badly Dean actually got hurt.
    • Another introduced Lisa, who now had a son with a suspicious resemblance to Dean, born about the right time after he knew her. It's not his. Lisa returns at the end of the fifth season and in the sixth, where Dean settles down with her and she actually has yet to die.
    • In another episode Dean returns to a foster home where he briefly stayed as a boy. He is then reunited with the girl who was his first real girlfriend. She does not seem to remember who he was but then reveals that she remembers Dean quite well and is still pissed at him for leaving without an explanation the day they were supposed to go to their first dance together. She represents a life that Dean could have had if he chose to remain with the foster family rather than go back to his father and Sam.
  • In one episode of Castle, he and Beckett investigate a murder that took place during the wedding of one of Castle's exes. There's jealousy from Beckett's side, a lot of talk at the station, and a brief rekindling between Castle and the girl before she does get married and tells Beckett, "He's all yours."
  • Bobby for Hilda on Ugly Betty. Seeing how he came along towards the end of the series, they ended up getting married in the Grand Finale.
  • Charmed (1998) has a variant, where in the first season Prue's love interest is the same guy she dated in high school. Deconstructed — they sleep together on the first date of their new relationship, but Prue objects when Piper argues that that's equivalent to sleeping with the guy on the "first date," since they already know each other.
  • In Alias, Noah Hicks, Sydney's former partner, shows up for a few episodes at the end of Season One.
  • In Fringe season one, Olivia runs into a former flame, Lucas in "In Which We Meet Mr. Jones." Peter also has a run-in with a supposed past lover, Tess, in "The Dreamscape."
  • Amanda in Highlander: The Series is introduced this way, early on. Duncan's current girlfriend Tessa is not amused. (She later comes back after Tessa dies, and they are an on-and-off couple for much of the series.)
  • Rookie Blue:
    • Det. Jo Rosati is Luke's ex-girlfriend. She joins 15th Division at the start of season 2 and forms a love triangle with Luke torn between her and his girlfriend Andy. Jo and Luke sleep together which leads to Andy dumping Luke.
    • In season 3, a new rookie joins the division. He happens to be Gail's old boyfriend from before she became a cop. After they broke up he joined the army, served in Afghanistan, and then became a cop himself. They still have lots of UST and other unresolved issues since they apparently broke up while they were in Vagas and about to get married.
    • In the season 3 finale, Chris' old girlfriend showed up...with their son.
  • NCIS:
    • Tony's ex-fiancee Wendy shows up mid-season 9. Whether she'll be the Romantic False Lead or the actual Love Interest was toyed with and eventually dropped.
    • Jessica's ex-boyfriend Gage Winchester, a park ranger, appears in the Season 20 episode Leave No Trace. This creates an awkward situation between her, Jimmy, and Gage. Thankfully, Gage shows maturity and already knows she belongs with Jimmy by the end of the episode.
    • Vance has a zig-zagged version in the form of Lena Paulsen in the Season 20 episode Guardian. Despite this being Lena's only episode in the series, it is established that Vance had a yearly one-night stand with her whenever he traveled to Germany some time after his wife's death.
    • Alden Parker has one in the form of a childhood girlfriend Joy Aaronson (Rachel Ticotin) introduced in the Season 20 episode Bridges. It is established that Parker never got over the circumstances that led to their breakup. By the time the episode starts, her son Travis stole Parker's identity, which leads to a reunion between the pair and an eventual arrest of two Russian spies. During the aftermath, Parker considers rekindling their romance after hearing that his ex-wife (a former FBI agent) deduced Joy's identity and paid her a visit without his knowledge.
  • Malcolm in the Middle: Otto's conscience was finally starting to torment him for having tricked his rival out of the way so he could marry Gretchen. Otto then invited said rival over. However, when it turned out said rival was still in love with Gretchen all those years, Otto expelled him before Gretchen ever knew he came back.
  • In The X-Files, two of Mulder's ex-girlfriends make an appearance, and there are also two past relationships of Agent Scully.
    • "Fire": Mulder receives a visit from Phoebe Greene who asks for his assistance on a case. She's his old flame from his university days at Oxford and works now as a Detective in Scotland Yard. They get it on, but she cheats on him once more and in the end, she leaves for England.
    • "Lazarus": Jack Willis used to be Scully's teacher at the FBI academy and her boyfriend. They don't renew their relationship, but the case involves a body switch with the villain and he later dies. Scully is obviously shattered.
    • Agent Diana Fowley appeared in the finale of season 5 and was a part of Myth Arc in season 6. She's Mulder's ex-partner who worked with him on the X-Files and they used to be lovers as well. She might also be his ex-wife. There is some tension between them, but Mulder refuses to follow this path again.
    • "all things": Scully used to date her professor from medical school. He reveals that he has been in love with her for all those years and begs her to be with him. She considers it but ultimately refuses, as she doesn't want to ruin his family.
  • Hustle: Emma encounters a new old flame named Joe Ryan, who is everything the grifters are not, in "Old Sparks Come New".
  • On My Name Is Earl, many of Earl's exes have been on The List, including a clingy girl Earl broke up with in a horrible way, and the last woman he dated before his Accidental Marriage to Joy, and a one-legged one-night-stand. His first ex-wife Joy is listed several times as well.
  • New Tricks: Sandra acquires one in the form of DCI James Larson in "Objects of Desire". This does not end well when James turns out to be a Dirty Cop.
  • In the second series of The Hour, we are introduced to Randall Brown, the new head of news, who, as it turns out, has a history with Lix.
  • The New Adventures of Robin Hood: In "First Love", Robin's former fiancé Olivia seeks the outlaw hero's help in rescuing her husband.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Emma's ex-boyfriend and the father of her son, Neal, makes a reappearance in Seasons 2 and 3, creating a difficult situation for her; she's still in love with him, but is so stung by the depths of his past betrayal that just can't bring herself to trust him. And when you factor in how Neal's best friend/Big Brother Mentor is vying for her affections as well...
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "King of the Lake", the mother of the Victim of the Week turns out to have been Lucien's first serious girlfriend.
  • Frontier Circus: Ben encounters one in "The Good Fight". She is now the widow of a Cattle Baron who is attempting to drive out a peaceful religious community so she can take their land.
  • The second episode of Eureka introduces a new head of General Dynamics, after the one from the pilot is Reassigned to Antarctica. He turns out to be Allison's ex-husband (although not the father of her autistic son). They later rekindle their relationship, much to Carter's chagrin, but he ends up performing a Heroic Sacrifice on their wedding day. Also, Carter's ex-wife shows up for an episode, but neither has any intention of getting back together.
  • The New Avengers: The villain in "Obsession" is an ex-fiancee of Purdey who had never been mentioned before.
  • In the Enemy at the Door episode "The Prussian Officer", a woman who comes to live on the island is revealed to be the old flame of, of all people, the SS officer Reinicke. They met and fell in love in Paris, but her family was persecuted for Communist links and he wasn't willing at the time to risk his career in an attempt to protect her. He still isn't.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent:
    • In "Palimpsest", Nichols and Stevens investigate a double murder. Nichols discovers that one of the victims is an old family friend, whose daughter, Lenore, is an old sweetheart of Nichols' (they had to break up because she developed schizophrenia).
    • In an earlier episode, Nichols tells a suspect about an ex-wife who left him because she didn't want him to be a cop when he had never even hinted at being married before. This one is only possibly an example since Nichols has been known to lie about his personal life in order to establish a rapport with a suspect. note 
  • Father Brown: In "The Face of the Enemy", an old flame of Lady Felicia's — who may or may not be a Soviet spy—attempts to persuade her to leave her husband and run away with him.
  • Black Saddle: In "Client: McQueen", Clay is hired by his old employer Senator McQueen to get back control of his ranch. McQueen's daughter Susan — now married — is an old crush of Clay's.
  • In Kim's Convenience, Jung runs into an ex-girlfriend from his high school days at work. Said ex, Grace, is now a lawyer (a stark contrast to Jung who dropped out of school and was a juvenile delinquent) and is visiting from another city for work-related matters. Despite having broken up with Jung for a good reason (he got drunk and wreaked havoc at her family dinner), Grace agrees to go out to dinner with him later. Despite a scuffle with their meddling mothers (who not only planned for them to meet up but also join them for dinner to discuss their future), the two still rekindle things and hookup that night but don't take things further.
  • In an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Ashley debates sleeping with her boyfriend Derek, who, according to their dialogue, is both her longtime boyfriend and her childhood sweetheart. Except he's never been seen or mentioned before in the previous six years of the show.
  • The Magician: The two-part "Illusion of the Curious Counterfeit" begins when a previously unseen ex-girlfriend of Tony's arrives on his doorstep being chased by gangsters.
  • The Westerner: One appears in the first episode "Jeff", with Dave travelling to a remote town after hearing his old flame is working as a saloon girl there.
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir:
    • A variant occurs in "Vanessa". A woman turns up in Schooner Bay with some old love letters from Captain Gregg to her great-great-grandmother, who was also named Vanessa. The captain finds himself falling for her, as he did for her ancestor in the 1840s.
    • Played straight in "Mister Perfect". Mrs. Muir's old boyfriend turns up on his yacht and wants to marry her. At first, the captain tries to stop them; then he decides to help them get together.
  • Dead Gorgeous: In "Love's First Kiss", a painting of one of Rebecca's suitors is brought to Ainsbury High. Heathcliffe the suitor jumps out of the portrait, putting Jonathan in there instead, and goes in pursuit of Rebecca.
  • Schitt's Creek:
    • In Season 3, David's manipulative, selfish ex-boyfriend Sebastien Raine shows up in town.
    • In Season 4, Patrick's ex-fiancee Rachel comes to town looking to rekindle their relationship.
  • Love & War:
    • In "The Prima Dava", Wally and Jack find Jack's old flame (guest star Tracey Ullman) sleeping in his bed ... and unwilling to leave without a fight this time.
    • In "Ten Cents a Dance", Jack watches from the sidelines as a long-lost love waltzes back into Dana's life during a dance marathon.
  • Rake: Jack, Hilary's ex-girlfriend, appears in Season 4, to Cleaver's surprise (he had no idea she was into women). They get back together again after this.
  • FBI: Most Wanted: In "Caesar", Barnes encounters Sandra Coates, a woman she was involved with when working undercover with NYPD, and takes up with her again to get an 'in' with Cleo's gang.
  • Sex/Life: Brad and Billie used to be an item, and meeting him again while having troubles in her marriage re-ignites her attraction to him.
  • iCarly (2021): A month after being dumped by her ex-boyfriend Beau, Carly runs into a man named Luke at Spencer's party. Carly and Luke know each other from camp when they were younger, but the audience never saw this in the original show. The date doesn't work out, as Luke took Carly to a restaurant that only serves whey. Not whey protein powder, actual whey liquid.
  • In an episode of Clarissa Explains It All, Janet's first boyfriend from high school, Joey Russo, who is now a successful author, comes to visit. Clarissa is worried that Joey coming by will spark old feelings for her mother. Marshall, meanwhile, is irked by the whole thing as well. Joey also seems convinced that Janet still loves him and tries to act like he's going to be a new stepfather to Clarissa and Ferguson. In the end, Joey is such a smarmy douche, everyone is glad when he finally leaves. In a weird way, Clarissa was right. Joey did spark old feelings in Janet: he reminded her why she married Marshall instead.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "Is My Very Nature That of a Devil", a jealous Lestat de Lioncourt suspects that Jonah Macon was "an old love" of Louis de Pointe du Lac, although the latter attempts to downplay it by claiming that he and Jonah had "a few early fumbles." However, it's later revealed that Lestat had secretly followed them, and he cries out to Louis in anguish, "I HEARD YOUR HEARTS DANCING!!" When a vampire is in love, the rhythm of their heartbeats become synchronized with that of their beloved's (this happened to Louis and Lestat in "In Throes of Increasing Wonder..."), so this indicates that Louis has residual feelings for Jonah.
  • You Me Her: After she's left Jack and Izzy, Emma starts dating her ex Kylie. She's one of Emma's previously unnamed ex-girlfriends.
  • Powerpuff: Butch appears as Bubbles' ex-fiancee. Prior to the pilot, they'd been engaged until Bubbles broke up with him and pawned off the ring for booze money.
  • Barbary Coast: In "Guns for a Queen", a load of rifles is hijacked, and Cable has Cash put out the word that he know an interested buyer: Jeff in disguise. The plan is complicated by the arrival of a girl from both their pasts, who, with her new husband, is seeking to buy the guns herself for a proposed revolution in Tahiti.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Many Modesty Blaise stories begin with the appearance of an ex-lover of either Modesty or Willie who needs help.
  • In Peanuts, Snoopy once spied an old girlfriend at the beach. He tried to show off surfing, which ended badly. The girlfriend never noticed; Charlie Brown tells him that he saw her with a golden retriever.

  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' The Emperor Constantine, downplayed. Helena is very stiff and formal with Flavius when they meet years after he divorced her for a political match, but softens enough to ask after his health.

    Video Games 
  • In Trials and Tribulations, the third game of the Ace Attorney series, Phoenix and Mia each get one, Dahlia (or better said, her twin sister Iris) and Diego Armando aka Godot respectively.
  • In the Dating Sim Always Remember Me, the New Old Flame is also a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing trying to convince the Amnesiac Lover that she is his current girlfriend when she is really his ex. Needless to say, this irritates his real current girlfriend, who is working hard to help him regain his memories.

  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Jean's ex-boyfriend Slick Simmons has recently appeared. He has some connection to the town's new lake monster.
  • Flipside: In Chapter 30, Bernadette encounters her former lover in Marvallo, revealing the reason for her neurotic insecurity about monogamous relationships.
    • This is in addition to the 26 chapters of book 0.

    Western Animation 
  • Andrea Beaumont was this to Bruce Wayne in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, as Bruce's first fiancé.
  • Elita One from The Transformers, who showed up, helped Optimus Prime and the gang, and then was never seen again.
    • Although she sort of showed up in a later episode in the form of her younger self Ariel.
  • Zuko and Mai of Avatar: The Last Airbender, though it's kind of an unusual example—Mai's first appearance makes it clear that she and Zuko have some kind of history, but aside from some Ship Tease in a flashback, the two don't interact until the next season, with Mai instead being an ally to Azula (and thus technically Zuko's enemy). Once the pair are on the same side, however, they have an instant off-screen hook-up.
  • Désirée D'Allure, Monterey Jack's ex-fiancée from the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "Love Is a Many Splintered Thing." Complete with a Reset Button, yes.
  • Grandpa Lou in Rugrats had Morgana, who reappears several decades after leaving town believing he'd cheated on her – really the other girl had an asthma attack, Lou was giving her CPR, and it looked like he was making out with her. After reuniting, Morgana and Lou spend a romantic evening together and clear up the misunderstanding, but Morgana only appeared in that one episode, though she was mentioned several times throughout the season before vanishing entirely.
    • Lou's second wife also qualifies, as she was a USO singer he was crushing on during the war, but they only spoke briefly once back then. 50 years later, they run into each other again.
  • Juandisimo was this to Wanda in The Fairly OddParents!.
  • Lawrence and Linda in Phineas and Ferb are probably this. They dated sometime in the late '80s or early '90s but eventually broke up and married other people. They eventually reunited and got married after they had kids with their previous spouses.
  • Unity, a Hive Mind in Rick and Morty, who was called the love of Rick's life, even compared to Beth's mother. She breaks up with Rick after a brief fling, and this causes him to attempt suicide.
  • In the Defenders of the Earth episode "The Lost Jewels of Tibet", Mandrake meets up with a female explorer named Atascadero, who is strongly implied to be an old flame of his; the interactions between the two characters suggest that they still have feelings for each other. However, when (at the end of the episode) Atascadero asks Mandrake if he would like to go on "another mad adventure" with her, he tells her that, while he would like to join her, his sense of duty orders him to stay with the Defenders. After this, Atascadero is neither seen nor mentioned again.
  • The first episode of the seventh season of Voltron: Legendary Defender, flashbacks introduce Shiro's ex-boyfriend, Adam. At San Diego Comic-Con 2018, the show's producers revealed that the two were together for years, and were on the verge of getting engaged when Adam broke up with Shiro.


Video Example(s):


Chaz Thurman

Twofold. Turns out the con-shark Chaz was not only Moxxie's old partner during his mafia days, but Millie's ex that he dated at separate times. Neither are fond of them man, after their experiences with him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / NewOldFlame

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