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"What? You want to know my secret origins? Well... maybe another time..."
Linkara

When you are writing a work of fiction you often want the audience to know how a particular character came to be. Often this is achieved in the first episodes or issues, but almost as often, for whatever reason, this can't happen. Perhaps the character was originally meant to be mysterious, a figure robed in secrets and mystique, and now their past has emerged. Alternatively the writers might not have had an origin laid out for them, perhaps due to the fact that they were meant as a minor character and gained a fanbase or were simply a Monster of the Week that happened to come back once or twice. Or it could be that the thing without the background is more than just a character; perhaps the entire universe has a history that the author wants to get across, and there is no way of doing that at the same time that a first episode finds its audience.

An origins episode is an episode, issue, chapter, or a multi-part story arc that exists primarily to examine the origin of a character or setting after the work has been going for a while. Many prequels qualify, but not all. Likewise whilst many things have had extended flashbacks it does not necessarily count. However the episode or issue need not be all set in the universe's past to qualify, so long as exploring that past is the point. Done well, these works help build the universe's mythos and continuity; done badly, they just feel like the author trying to show how clever they are. Worse still are the origins episodes where the writer does not bother to check their own continuity and creates a mess of plot holes and poor characterization.

Often takes the form of a Whole Episode Flashback or Flashback B-Plot. Compare with a Pilot Episode, which usually sets up the origins of the main characters and setting in the first episode. Television characters can have an Origin Episode of sorts if they receive A Day in the Limelight or a Lower-Deck Episode. See also Start of Darkness, for when a segment of the story shows the decisive point where a character becomes evil. See also No Origin Stories Allowed, which is when the creator(s) ban this from happening.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Chapters 19-21 of Ah... and Mm... Are All She Says are a Flashback Arc to a few years ago, showing how Seiko got interested in eromanga in the first place.
  • The eighth chapter of Asteroid in Love (animated as the last segment of the third episode) is mainly about how Mai started to be fascinated by maps, and how does that lead her to geology.
  • Attack on Titan has the spinoff manga Attack on Titan: No Regrets and its two-part OVA adaptation, which delves into Levi Ackerman's backstory from childhood until he joined the Survey Corps.
  • Bleach:
    • Episode 32 "Stars and the Stray" told the story of Rukia Kuchiki's origin, as remembered by Renji Abarai.
    • Episode 97 explains how the Bount were created. Soul Reapers were carrying out a project to create immortal souls and an experiment got away from them, causing a number of human beings to become the Bount.
    • During the Zanpakutō: The Alternate Tale arc, Koga's origin story was told in episodes 250 and 251.
  • Attack on Titan:
    • Chapter 86-87 along with the anime adaptation from the latter half of Episode 56 to the first half of Episode 58 details the secret Past of Eren’s Father Grisha, the world outside the walls and how he became the Attack Titan
    • Chapter 122 explains how Ymir became the Founding Titan and how her daughters consuming her flesh to become Titans led to the creation of the Nine Titans and the world of Attack on Titan.
  • Black Lagoon: The episode "Two Father's Little Soldier Girls" contains a number of flashbacks to Balalaika's past detailing her childhood, service in Afghanistan, disillusionment with society and rise to power in Hotel Moscow.
  • During Burst Angel, after many episodes of fighting the villain of the week, the final four episodes are dedicated to Jo's origins, mainly episode 23.
  • The "Teresa of the Faint Smile" arc of Claymore tells Clare's origin.
  • Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: The Side:Despair portion of the series shows how the students of Class 77-B from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair became Ultimate Despair. It also shows the transformation of protagonist Hajime Hinata into Izuru Kamukura.
  • Doraemon has a prequel OVA called 2112: The Birth of Doraemon which, like the title says, depicts how Doraemon came to be and his early life before his Time Travel adventure meeting Nobita in the present-day.
  • Fate/Zero: Episode 5 and 6 of Season 2, are an origin story for how Kiritsugu became the way he is.
  • Every character in Fruits Basket has at least one flashback showing a significant moment that lead to them being the way they are. Such as the flashbacks of how Kyoko ended up meeting and marrying Katsyua and how Akito's mother got married to her father and manipulated him into raising Akito as a boy.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • There was quite a big arc in the manga that explained Hohenheim's and the Homunculus' origins.
    • Not long after the starting chapters, the story also flashes back to how Ed and Al ended up in their situation.
  • The Garden of Sinners is a weird case. It starts In Medias Res and then jumps back in time twice: part 2 is chronologically the earliest chapter and is an origins episode for Mikiya and Shiki's relationship, of all things; while part 4 is the origins episode for the Shiki we see throughout most of the series—the composite personality built from the remains of her original split personalities that were shattered at the end of part 2.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: One episode in the second season focuses entirely on Kuzes' past, showing what motivated him to fight on the behalf of the people, even against the state.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: The one-volume (10 chapter) manga Bad Company shows how Eikichi Onizuka and Ryuji Danma first met in middle school, and got into the world of Bōsōzoku gangs. It was actually published before the first chapter of GTO, as it's a prequel to GTO: The Early Years, the manga that GTO is a sequel to.
  • The last chapter in the fourth volume of Hidamari Sketch—one of the few not in yonkoma format—was spent on explaining the origins of Natsume's tsundere attitude towards Sae.
  • Written in Hiroki's angle, the first half of Chapter 27 of I Think Our Son Is Gay talks about how Hiroki and his crush Daigo know each other in the first place.
  • Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing: Episode 11 shows the event that ended up shaping Luscinia Hafez into the series' Big Bad.
  • Lupin III, in possession of Negative Continuity, has a weird relationship with introduction episodes, prequels, and Character Development.
    • Lupin III: Part 1 was the first series adapted from the manga. It explains where the Zantetsuken comes from, as well as why Goemon joins the gang.
    • Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is the origin story for Fujiko Mine specifically, but also tells the story of how Lupin and Jigen meet. Inside the series is also an Origins Episode for Oscar, telling how Zenigata found him, and took care of him.
    • Lupin III: Episode 0: First Contact is yet another Origins episode, telling the story of how Everyone Meets Everyone, and how Goemon finds the Zantetsuken.
    • Lupin Zero offers another origin story, Lupin and Jigen's adventures in high school. It also explores Lupin's relationships with his father and grandfather, who are rarely more than background references in other series.
  • The second Sound Stage for the original Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha series is set two years before the series and delves into the origins of its antagonists, the Dark Magical Girl Fate, her familiar Arf, and their late mentor Rynith. It is also the chronologically earliest canon installment of the series, being set in the year 0063 by Midchildan reckoning, whereas the main time frame of the franchise starts in 0065.
  • In Magic of Stella, the second half of Episode 7 is about how Tamaki and Yumine became Childhood Friends, and how Tamaki got an interest in games (in the general sense) in the first place.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (the movies, not the manga as it's a much broader retelling of the the original Gundam anime) is one big example of this trope for Char Aznable. The story, given it was a direct manga to movie adaptation, has some discrepancies with the other origin story being told, that of the Mobile Suit, so it's canon to the main anime in more of a Broad Strokes fashion than it was advertised as.
  • Mekakucity Actors: Episodes 6 and 7 serve as joint-origin episodes for Ene and Konoha (episode 6 focusing more on the former, episode 7 on the latter), who used to be Takane Enomoto and Haruka Kokonose, respectively, how they ended up in their current bodes and their ties to Shintaro and Ayano.
  • In Mushishi, the story "One-Eyed Fish" explains how Ginko got his unusual appearance of silvery-white hair and green eyes. Oh, and also his name.
  • My Hero Academia does this as part of its following the conventions of western Comic Books. Stories that delve into the backstories and motiviations of specific characters will explicitly be labeled "(Character Name): The Origin"; the first chapter/episode was this for The Hero Izuku "Deku" Midoriya, while subsequent stories have focused on his most prominent rivals Katsuki Bakugo and Shoto Todoroki.
  • Please Tell Me! Galko-chan has Chapters 16 and 17 (Episode 12 in the anime), which covers how Galko, Otako and Ojou became the trio of friends they are now.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • The episode "Go West, Young Meowth" explores Meowth's origins, in particular the fact that he taught himself to speak human language in an attempt to impress a female Meowth named Meowzy. However, this backfired when Meowzy told him he was a "freak".
    • The XY Episode "A Trip Down Memory Train" explains how Clemont first met and caught Bunnelby.
    • "Holy Matrimony!" deals with the origin of James with who his family is.
    • Jessie was the only member of the Team Rocket trio to not have one, probably because she has more of a Multiple-Choice Past. There is, however, Pokémon: The Birth of Mewtwo, which goes into detail about her mother, Miyamoto, which was itself an origin story of Mewtwo.
    • The very first episode of Journeys is the origin of Ash's Pikachu, showing how he started out as a baby Pichu four years prior to coming into Ash's possession.
  • The tenth episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is dedicated to Homura's backstory, finally explicitly explaining her mysterious powers, behavior, and motivations.
    • The first volume of the spin-off manga The Different Story functions as one for both Mami and Kyoko - specifically focusing on how they drifted apart after Mr. Sakura's Pater Familicide.
  • The first chapter of One Piece shows how Luffy got his powers and his inspiration to be a pirate in the first chapter, which the anime changes to flashback a few episodes in. A couple of story arcs down the line and a flashback arc fleshes it out a bit more showcasing further motivation to why he does what he does. The rest of the crew stories are told individually as we either first meet then or they're on the verge of joining soon.
  • RahXephon: One episode presents the back-story of Makoto Isshiki, a cold-hearted seducer and major jerk to everyone else. It shows him as a cute and kind boy who just wanted to find his parents. Then, one day he admitted to himself what he really was, and his flashback ends with him getting an Important Haircut and taking on his nasty personality.
  • Rave Master: Almost every villain gets at least a chapter for this. Some are a little sad, some will leave you temporarily cheering for the villain (until you remember that every single one aims to wipe out all life as we know it).
  • It's not until near the end of Red River (1995) that Urhi's Tear Jerker of a backstory is revealed, along with why he's so loyal to Nakia.
  • Shin Sakura Taisen the Novel: Hizakura no Koro deals with the origin of the new Imperial Combat Revue from Sakura Wars (2019).
  • The final two episodes of Shamanic Princess are whole episode flashbacks that detail the lead-up to the events of the preceding episodes.
  • The entirety of Space Patrol Luluco is revealed to be one for The Studio TRIGGER mascot "Trigger-chan".
  • The short film Tamagotchi Honto no Hanashi serves as one for the Tamagotchi franchise, showing the events that led to Professor Banzo's Accidental Discovery of the Tamagotchi species.
  • Unlimited Psychic Squad, episodes 7-8, for the Villain Protagonist, Kyousuke. Sort of a weird case because the flashback is almost entirely upbeat-ish; most of the tragic stuff is Time Skipped over. Only the final push where the captain shoots Kyousuke because he was supposedly going to destroy the world, but the assassination attempt fails to kill him and turns him evil, is actually shown.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Hiei's past is alluded to throughout the series, but isn't shown in detail until the "Three Kings" arc, which explains where he was born, how he and his sister were seperated, how he became a notorious criminal, and how he acquired his Jagan Eye.

    Asian Animation 
  • Lamput:
    • The third season episode "Origins" is a Whole Episode Flashback of how Fat Doc and Slim Doc came to meet and become friends. The flashback, which begins when the docs find a picture of them from when they were kids while being carried away in a police car, also provides the origins of a couple other characters.
    • When Fat Doc and Slim Doc arrived at the same school, the latter was quite a bully to the former, only making friends with him after an incident involving the two accidentally messing up a science experiment their teacher was performing.
    • A science incident is also the catalyst for the birth of Lamput himself, who is seen at the end of the episode having formed from within a beaker.
    • Once the docs befriend each other, they decide to bully a specific round-looking kid in their school. That kid grows up to be the policeman who makes recurring appearances throughout the series and often arrests and beats up the docs - including in this episode where he thinks they robbed a jewelry store and brings them to the police station for it. Guy's held quite a grudge on the docs for all the bullying they subjected him to.

    Comic Books 
  • The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius: The fourth issue of Monkey Tales reveals how Barry Ween first met his best friend Jeremy Ramirez.
  • Age of the Sentry waits until its very final issue before revealing the true origin of its title character, his villains, and everything about why the setting is the way it is.
  • Amazing Fantasy #15 introduced the world to Spider-Man, explaining how he got his powers, his personality and backstory.
  • Arkham Asylum: Living Hell depicts the villainous origins of the Great White Shark. Initially a white-collar crook who used an Insanity Defense in hopes of getting a lighter sentence, he finds himself in Arkham and suffered regular abuse and torture from the other inmates. His experiences there drove him insane, and he eventually became one of Gotham's most influential crime bosses.
  • The Asterix book How Obelix Fell into the Magic Potion When He Was a Little Boy is all about the much-mentioned incident where Obelix fell into a cauldron of Getafix's Super-Strength potion, causing it to have a permanent effect on him.
  • Batman's origin story was first laid out in Detective Comics #33, and it's been revisited quite a number of times afterward in various Batman stories.
  • Batman: Zero Year details the New 52 version of Batman's first year.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Several characters from the main series have been given their origin story albums, namely Pilou, Ghorghor Bey, and Lord Parsifal.
  • Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers: The last three issues form a three-part story devoted to explaining Captain Victory's origins.
  • Diabolik has a few such episodes, most of them published in the "Il Grande Diabolik" series:
    • "Diabolik, Who Are You?" is Diabolik's first. Yes, first, because here Diabolik only explains where he came from, glossing over the period between him leaving King's Island and arriving to Clerville and refusing to tell some parts. It's also the only one in general published in the regular series;
    • "Diabolik and Ginko: Storm of Memories" is the story of the first encounter between the titular Villain Protagonist and his greatest opponent;
    • "Eva Kant: When Diabolik Wasn't There" is Eva's;
    • "Ginko: Before Diabolik" is Ginko's;
    • "The Years Lost in Blood" is Diabolik's second, showing how he acquired some of his skills, his trademark suit and Walter Dorian's identity;
    • "The Mysteries of Vallenberg" includes a sequence that provides Altea's;
    • "I Am Diabolik" is Diabolik's third, about his arrival in Clerville;
    • "The Shadow of the Moon" includes sequences that complete Diabolik's (about his time at King's Island), Ginko's and Eva's;
    • "The True Story of King's Island" provides one for King, Diabolik's father figure. It also shows that it wasn't by chance that King's men saved the infant Diabolik from a shipwreck... And that was before he found out Diabolik's real identity, unknown even to the King of Terror himself.
  • Doomsday Clock's fourth chapter, "Walk on Water" is about the second Rorschach, A.K.A. Reggie Long, the son of the psychologist who attempted to rehabilitate the original Rorschach during the latter's own origin chapter in Watchmen.
  • The Flash: In the first story of Showcase #4, "Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt", readers are introduced to Barry Allen, witness how he gained his superhuman speed and develop his superhero identity of the Flash.
  • ElfQuest T.O.S. #13: "The Secret of the Wolfriders."
  • The second issue of the Ewoks comic book served to explain how Kneesa obtained her pet Baga.
  • The Futurama comics give Zapp Brannigan a backstory in "Captain Brannigan: The Windbag Soldier". Fry, Leela, Bender, and Amy learn from Kif that Zapp actually used to be an outstanding soldier (both as a person and as a fighter), so the government decided to replace their army with Zapp clones, turning to a younger Dr. Wernstrom to clone Zapp. However, a jealous Professor Farnsworth interfered with the process, turning the clones into deformed freaks, and the backlash damaged Zapp's DNA, turning him into the egotistical, incompetent, perverted, gluttonous idiot he is today. The government tried to cover up the disaster by sending Zapp and the clones on suicide missions, but Zapp survived with his dumb luck. Zapp then blackmailed them into making him supreme commander of the Earthican army and "Captain for Life", threatening to let the failures known if he didn't. Kif also explains that Zapp designed his uniform and befriended Kif when he offered to train him, hence why Kif doesn't leave Zapp's side.
  • G.I. Joe (Devil's Due) had a few miniseries and one-shots titled Declassified, which served to retell or explain the origins of key members of Cobra and G.I. Joe.
  • Heroes Reborn was a 1996-1997 initiative by Marvel Comics to reintroduce its classic heroes (Captain America, Iron Man, Avengers and the Fantastic Four) to a new audience, by updating/retelling their first adventures.
  • Judge Dredd:
    • First was Judge Death: Boyhood of a Superfiend, commissioned for the launch of the Judge Dredd Megazine. In it Judge Death employs a journalist to interview him and spread his message, to explain to the people of the world why they are better off dead.
    • Later there was Origins to mark the 30th anniversary of Judge Dredd where Dredd explains the secrets and history of the Dredd universe (straightening up the continuity along the way) whilst on a mission to recover something that might unravel those secrets.
  • The "Origins" arc of Justice League (2011) takes place five years before the rest of the New 52 Universe and thus are about the origin of the League (and Cyborg) respectively.
  • Micronauts (Image) had the origins of its version of Baron Karza explained in the miniseries Micronauts: Karza.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has several of these in its comic series
    • A lot of them were specifically toward the villains. Sunset Shimmer's (the antagonist of the first Equestria Girls movie) origins are told in the first annual and a five issue mini-series called Fiendship is Magic went into the backstory of Tirek, King Sombra, The Dazzlings (the antagonists of the second Equestria Girls movie, Rainbow Rocks), Nightmare Moon (after she was banished), and Queen Chrysalis.
    • A two-part arc showing how Shining Armor and Princess Cadence first met.
    • A comic showing how Twilight first came to take care of Spike after he was born.
  • There was an issue of the UK G1 My Little Pony comics that showcased the origins of the Twinkle-eyed ponies. They were kept by a wizard as slaves and forced to live underground mining gems. They end up becoming blind due to the lack of light. Applejack saves them and they begin to use gems as replacements for their eyes.
  • The Phantom Stranger had four of these in the same issue, all contradicting each other.
  • Rainbow Brite: The first arc is about how Wisp became Rainbow Brite.
  • Rick and Morty (Oni):
    • Issue 34 is this for Krombopulos Michael. He got his name when he was recruited for a government strike force. Since they already had a Michael, the commander started calling him Krombopulos Michal after his birth town to distinguish them. He became a hired assassin because, on the night before the mission, Micheal was unwilling to wait, entered the compound, and killed everyone himself. The next day, after seeing the level of devastation he left, the rest of the strike force refused to work with him, so he went freelance.
    • Issue 44 is explicitly called "Origin of the Vindicators". The TV episode "Vindicators 3: The Return of World Ender" is revealed to be named so because it's the third time the Vindicators have assembled; Vindicators 1 was one of Rick's and Morty's offscreen adventures that they allude to multiple times, and they find out that Vindicators 2 happened without them. This comic issue covers Vindicators 1, showing how Rick and Morty met them and what happened on that adventure (which is explicitly stated by the narrator at the beginning).
  • ROM (IDW): The Annual issue reveals the origin of the Hasbro Comic Universe's interpretation of Rom the Space Knight.
  • Scooby Apocalypse:
    • Issue #17 fleshes out Daphne and Fred's backstories.
    • Issue #27 reveals the origin of Secret Squirrel, Morocco Mole and Doctor O. Basil Dinkley experimented on animals for a government project called "Operation: Evolve" where animals would be able to become spies so no humans would have to risk their lives on those missions again. Because the first test subjects went through an identity crisis wondering if they're humans or animals, Secret and Morocco were hypnotized into believing they're humans. Doctor O was also hypnotized but managed to break free. She eventually tries to tell them the truth, but they don't believe her.
  • Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale tells Book's origin story.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) has the "Genesis of a Hero" storyline (Issues 288-291), which shows how Sonic and the other Freedom Fighters came together as a team in the new backstory of the post-Super Genesis Wave continuity.
  • Strontium Dog had two long-running stories in this vein: "Portrait of a Mutant" examined Johnny's early life, his time in the mutant resistance, and how he eventually took up bounty hunting; it was framed as Johnny telling Wulf and the Gronk why he's so eager to claim the small bounty on Nelson Bunker Kreelman. "Max Bubba", framed as Wulf's reminiscences, told the story of how Johnny and Wulf first met and teamed up.
  • The Superior Foes of Spider-Man: The seventh issue deals with Beetle's origins as Tombstone's daughter and how she went from a highly-educated woman with steep criminal ambitions to an up-and-coming supervillain. Issue 14 dealt with Overdrive's origins as a racecar driver who dreamed of becoming a superhero.
  • Superman:
  • DC Comics's Secret Origins: Each issue was an origin story for a different character (either one who had never been given a proper origin in their own series, or an established character for whom DC wanted to establish a new baseline origin following a Continuity Snarl or similar problem).
  • Marvel Comics Uncanny Origins was a series dedicated to tell the origins of different heroes.
  • Tales to Astonish #44, besides featuring the debut of The Wasp, tells the origin of Doctor Pym, who was initially conceived for issue #27 as a One-Shot Character with a backstory limited to "other scientists dismissed his theories" before being reinvented as the first Ant-Man for issue #35.
  • Teen Titans: The final issue of the original series gave the details on how Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad and Wonder Girl officially formed the Teen Titans, doing so to stop a malevolent entity called the Antithesis making their mentors commit crimes. The story was subsequently retold in an expanded form in the six-issue miniseries Teen Titans: Year One.
  • Teen Titans Go!:
    • Issue #45 features Beast Boy's and Cyborg's origins.
    • Issue #47 features Robin's origin.
  • Wonder Girl Donna Troy was created by author miscommunication (someone put Wonder Girl in Teen Titans not realizing her earlier appearances were teenage Wonder Woman in the past), she had to have her origin told after the fact. But no two writers seem to agree on what it should be, and by now she is nigh unusable; the question "who the hell is she?" is now unanswerable. Every attempt to fix it just tosses another Retcon on the already-enormous pile. However, the last Cosmic Retcon has left the slate blank for a single origin to be established, and stick. Despite previous hope for Donna's origin being settled post Flashpoint they handed her a new origin that is already coming apart at the seams as of Rebirth.
  • X-Men: Origin, also known as Wolverine: The Origin. It was adapted as X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
  • Xombi began with a zero-numbered issue where David Kim already had his regenerative abilities and involved with the wider scope of the Dakotaverse. The first arc of the ongoing served to explain how he got his powers.
  • The Yesterday Quest was the origin story of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.
  • The focus of Zero Month in the New 52.
  • America Chavez's origin as a denizen of the Utopian Parallel was first revealed in issue 14 of Young Avengers's Marvel NOW! run, and her early life on Earth was explored in the America Chavez Made In The USA miniseries.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • The Animatrix has The Second Renaissance, a two-part short that details the events leading up to the war between man and machine, and machine's subjugation of man which led to the creation of the Matrix.
  • Arcadia of My Youth provides a canon origin story for Captain Harlock, albeit with a liberal dose of Retcon. The Maetel Legend OVA, meanwhile, is an origin story for both Maetel from Galaxy Express 999 and Emeraldas from Queen Emeraldas (and other assorted Leijiverse media), as well as a Fully Absorbed Finale for Yayoi Yukino from Queen Millennia: Yayoi becomes La Andromeda Promethium, the evil mechanoid queen, and sends her non-identical twin daughters Maetel and Emeraldas into exile on a secret quest to find a way to defeat her.
  • Despicable Me:
    • Minions: This movie details the origin of the Minions as a race and their mission to serve the biggest villain. It also reveals how the Minions finally ended up in the USA and came to be Gru's loyal servants.
    • Minions: The Rise of Gru takes it from where the previous movie ended and details how the eleven year old Gru goes from wannabe-villain to proove himself to be a full-blown supervillain with the help of his Minions and his Mentor Wild Knuckles.
  • Monsters University shows how Mike and Sully became a scaring duo.
  • The Powerpuff Girls Movie shows how the title characters of The Powerpuff Girls were born and how they became Townsville's go-to crimefighters. Incidentally, the film didn't originally set out for this — the first story pitch was to have been all of the show's main villains fighting with each other over who will rule Townsville. Creator Craig McCracken found it left little screen time for the girls themselves, so it became an origin story and their haphazard first adventure.
  • Puss in Boots (2011) tells the origin of the character from the Shrek movies before he met and joined the Ogre as assassin in Shrek 2.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie is one for the Super Mario Bros. series, showing how Mario and Luigi made it to and defended the Mushroom Kingdom for the very first time. This is different from the original video games, which happen in a different continuity and have shown them defending the Mushroom Kingdom for a long time, with the Yoshi's Island series acting as their origins episode.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Before the Batman serves as one for The Batman (2022), covering the journeys of Bruce Wayne and Edward Nashton before they became The Batman and The Riddler respectively.
  • The Cat in the Stacks Mysteries: When Charlie Met Diesel, a short story included as a bonus feature in book 6. It's exactly what it sounds like, showing how Charlie found Diesel, wet and shivering in the parking lot of the library where he volunteers, and promptly took him to the vet to get checked out before adopting him.
  • The Doctor Who Past Doctor Adventures novel Business Unusual by Gary Russell told the story of Mel's first meeting with the Doctor, which her introductory TV season had neglected to depict due to Timey-Wimey Ball shenanigans in-universe and Troubled Production chaos behind the scenes.
  • The Q Continuum shows where a few of the enemies the crew of the original starship Enterprise faced came from. They were summoned through the Guardian of Forever by 0.
  • RWBY: Roman Holiday reveals how a young girl became Neopolitan, how Roman Torchwick became the greatest criminal in Vale, and how the two formed a lasting partnership.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: Thrawn gives the new-canon backstory of the titular Grand Admiral, including how he attained the rank. It ends shortly before his formal introduction into new canon in the third season of Rebels.
  • Star Wars Legends: Outbound Flight deals with the origin of Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn, and ties The Thrawn Trilogy with the prequel film trilogy and the New Jedi Order.
  • Tortall Universe: The Numair Chronicles is an interquel telling the backstory of The Archmage Numair Salmalín, who first appeared in The Immortals.
  • Warrior Cats:
  • Narnia has its origins told in the sixth book in the series, The Magician's Nephew. Just in time too; the series ends with book seven.
  • The Alchymist's Cat, a prequel to the Deptford Mice trilogy, reveals the origins of Big Bad Jupiter. He started out as an ordinary kitten called Leech in 17th century London, the runt of the litter who was mistreated by the evil alchemist who took them in. His brother Jupiter, on the other hand, was adored and became the alchemist's familiar. Leech grew envious of his brother's growing powers, and wished he could learn magic too, only to find out that just one in every family is allowed to use it. In the end, Leech kills Jupiter and assumes his identity, rising to power as a living God of Evil in the sewers.
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes details how President Snow became the Big Bad of The Hunger Games trilogy.
  • Hannibal Rising is a poorly-executed Start of darkness for Hannibal Lecter, giving him a Freudian Excuse for many of the things he's famous for, even though he explicitly stated in the first movie that there wasn't any past trauma behind his deviant behavior—making him yet another intellectual in blatant denial.

    Rather sadly, this was an enforced case—Hannibal's creator, Thomas Harris, wanted to leave him an enigma with no real reason behind his crimes, but he was flat-out told by his publishers that if he didn't write it, they'd find someone else to do so.
  • VC Andrews wrote a prequel to Flowers in the Attic called Garden of Shadows that helps explain the motivations and backstory of the Evil Matriarch Olivia Foxworth.
  • The House of Night: The plot of Neferet's Curse, which details how an innocent girl named Emily Wheiler grew up in 1893 and ended up broken and vengeful as a result of being abused and eventually raped by her own father. She ultimately changes her name to Neferet, upon becoming a vampire, and vows to never again be used by anyone.
  • The Jane Eyre prequel, The Wide Sargasso Sea, shows the early life of a character thought of as villainous, but ultimately revealing them as well-intentioned and victimized by others.
  • The Magic: The Gathering novel The Thran is this for Yawgmoth, showing him rise from an exiled doctor into becoming first dictator of Halcyon, and then the Big Bad God of Evil he's mostly known as. It is important to mention that Yawgmoth was originally exiled for a reason: he performed many unethical experiments on different species to see the results and was in exile for doing so.
  • The Crippled God in Malazan Book of the Fallen was just a foreign god who fell to earth as the result of a trap meant for Kallor. And went stark raving mad as a result of his torture and imprisonment in this foreign world. He is currently trying to destroy the world just so he can be free again.
  • Old Kingdom: Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen, prequel to the main trilogy, depicts how its title character was set on the path to becoming Chlorr of the Mask, an evil necromancer who served as one of the main villains of the second and third books.
  • The Origin of Laughing Jack: As the title suggests, this is an origin story for Laughing Jack, taking place in the 1800s, likely 2 centuries before the events of his first story. It provides the details of how Laughing Jack became a murderous Monster Clown.
  • The Princess Bride devotes self-titled sections to the two mercenary henchmen of Vizzini, "the Sicilian"; how the giant Fezzik was beaten by other children and pushed to fight professionally by his misguided parents into rings where audiences booed him when he won until he found someone who understood him... slightly better; how the swordsman Inigo Montoya saw his father killed in front of him, spent years training and searching and becoming gradually more lost in his cups until he was found in obscurity. How Vizzini himself became the man he is now is left to the imagination, given only a few lines with a broad picture that he knew he would have to rely on his mind rather than his physical power; though the reader may expect it, there is no "VIZZINI".
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Catelyn Stark's memories of her old friend Petyr Baelish are that of a sweet, romantic kid. Despite the fact that she was never interested in him that way, his romantic idealism spurred him on to duel her betrothed Brandon Stark for her hand, which resulted in Petyr nearly dying and getting sent packing back to his own poor home although that quite probably had more to do with the outcome of him being rejected and raped (whilst drunk and believing himself in bed with Cat, by her sister, Lysa, resulting in her pregnancy, which their father forces her to abort. In the present, Petyr is a full-on Magnificent Bastard and chessmaster, in control of both the Vale and Riverlands after having manipulated, married, and murdered Lysa, sparked the massive and destructive War of the Five Kings, and has taken on Cat's lookalike daughter Sansa, herself a Broken Bird, as both protegé and potential love interest.
  • The Star Trek: Destiny trilogy reveals the origins of the Borg Collective.
  • A minor example in the Star Trek: The Lost Era novel The Art of the Impossible. Corbin Entek, a Cardassian Obsidian Order villain from a highly popular episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is a lowly junior probationist in this book, albeit a promising one. The novel features a sub-plot in which he settles into the Order and earns the admiration of Enabran Tain.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Outbound Flight serves as a Start of Darkness of sorts for Grand Admiral Thrawn. Although he isn't exactly evil, it does explain why he took Palpatine's side. Eventually. Well, it introduces him to Darth Sidious and shows how perilously close he is to being exiled for his tactics. We know from the short story "Mist Encounter" that after he was exiled some Imperials found him and brought him back.
    • ''Outbound Flight" shows the start of darkness for Jorus C'baoth, who fell to the dark side near the end of the novel and went insane. This would then lead to his clone, Joruus C'baoth, also being an insane dark-sided Force wielder.
    • The novel Dark Rendezvous has several flashback scenes that explore Count Dooku's past and gives him a very convincing backstory.
    • The Han Solo Trilogy by A.C. Crispin features a character who appeared first in Dark Empire, the comic book series set years after the novels but released years earlier. In Dark Empire, readers learned that he was an old friend of Han's, and also that he was willing to throw away that friendship by leading Han into a trap just for the reward. Crispin shows us in her prequels what a good and heroic guy he used to be, and eventually what happened to change him: he was captured, tortured, and crippled for life.
    • Darth Plagueis is an origin story for Palpatine, Dooku, and Nute Gunray. Though unlike the other two, Palpatine was evil from the beginning, and the book merely shows how he became a Sith.
  • The Story of Casey Jr. is one towards Casey, Jr., the sentient steam locomotive from Dumbo and how he came into the circus' possession.
  • Third Time Lucky: And Other Stories of the Most Powerful Wizard in the World: "The Last Lesson" relates Magdelene's origin while a girl of sixteen with great magical power apprenticed to a wizard.
  • Tortall Universe: The Numair Chronicles, while mainly being an interquel about Numair Salmalín, also shows how Ozorne Muhassin Tasikhe went from a "leftover prince" who was a personable, average student who only wanted to do mage-work with his best friends to the Evil Overlord Emperor Mage of Carthak seen in The Immortals.
  • Warriors:
    • The Rise of Scourge. It turns out that Scourge was, at first, just a cute little kitten with a crappy childhood. Desperate to impress the world around him, he is driven to first scare a dog away, then eventually actually kill a cat to maintain his peers' respect, which he claims to be his Moral Event Horizon.
    • Brokenstar was bullied by his foster siblings and resented by his foster mother as a kit in Yellowfang's Secret. It's subverted, however, at his birth, when he is born with a look of rage and hatred on his tiny face.
  • Whateley Universe:
    • "Mimeographic" covers Mimeo's origin story. Interestingly (and possibly self-servingly), it mostly portrays him as a sort of higher-order Punch-Clock Villain, who just does it to finance his lavish lifestyle - he plans out heists in detail to minimize collateral damage, and tries to avoid fights with heroes until he's ready to get whatever Power Copying buffs he needs for the specific caper. We also get to see why he adopted his Thou Shalt Not Kill policy (beyond the obvious wanting to get rematches for more power-ups, that is).
    • In "Intervention", we get a "This Is Your Life" style look at the events that soured Tansy Walcutt into the Alpha Bitch Solange, as part of her Redemption Quest.
    • In "The Road to Whateley", part 3, we get some flashbacks which set up the conflict between the Witch Queen and her longtime rival Sycorax. It isn't really a full Start of Darkness for either of them, but it does give us the background of their feud.
  • Wisdom's Daughter: The Life and Love Story of She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed by H. Rider Haggard details the origins of Ayesha, the Big Bad of She.
  • Through excerpts from the novel Descarta is reading and Virgil's own flashbacks we see how Kalthused of Within Ruin went from hero to utterly corrupt.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The fourth-season episode "The Good Samaritan" shows how Robbie Reyes became the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the Ghost Rider.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Angel's origin was first showed in both parts of "Becoming" but Angel elaborated on it in "The Prodigal" and "Five by Five".
      • "Becoming" also gave some more of Buffy's origin story (at least, within the TV show, given the movie is largely considered discontinuity by the TV series) showing her first meeting with her Watcher, Merrick, and her first patrol and slaying.
    • "Fool For Love" was Spike's official origin episode. "Lies My Parents Told Me" gave more details about that origin. And the cross-over episode with Angel that "Fool For Love" was a part of, called "Darla", was the origin episode for, well, Darla.
      • Related - Drusilla's origin and siring are described on Buffy in "Lie To Me", and shown in flashbacks in the Angel episode "Dear Boy".
    • While Anya talked about past exploits often, it wasn't until the Season 7 episode "Selfless" that we saw her full origin story.
  • Notably averted in Burn Notice: the made-for-TV-movie "The Fall of Sam Axe" pointedly showed how Sam managed to get his honorable discharge from the Navy SEALs despite his womanizing attitude, but in the timeline of the movie, he already knows Super Spy Michael Westen, seeking advice with his personal problems. Throughout the entire series, it's never been revealed exactly how a CIA spy and a Navy SEAL met and became best friends.
  • "Behind the Squeak," a promotional video for The Chica Show, is mainly about Chica's birth and rise to stardom on The Sunny Side Up Show. Kelly also explains that she and Chica first became animated due to one of Mr. C's magic tricks.
  • Chuck eventually showed us the backstory as to how Sara became a CIA operative, starting as a young teen when she was a grifter with her father.
    • "Chuck Versus the Tic Tac" reveals Casey's origins: A Marine Corps sniper in Honduras named Alexander Coburn who faked his death to join a special forces unit. Unfortunately, it left quite a Continuity Snarl that was never really addressed.
  • Community had the aptly titled "Heroic Origins", in which Abed charts the group's connection through random interactions before they all started at Greendale, eventually leading to reveal how they all came to choose the school.
  • Criminal Minds has several flashback episodes—a particular one being "Tabula Rasa", when Reid, JJ, and Garcia were still new to the BAU—but the one that fits the trope best is "Nelson's Sparrow", which shows the very earliest days of the BAU (or the BSU, as it was known then) in The '70s when there were still just three people (Jason Gideon, David Rossi, and Max Ryan) on the team, and follows one of Gideon's and Rossi's earliest unsolved cases. In particular, we see Gideon and Rossi coin a few terms that are commonly used by the present-day team (most notably "signature" by Rossi and "profiler" by Gideon), discover that this case is what inspired Gideon's previously-seen interest in ornithology, and is also the first time that the two characters appear onscreen together (since, in the present-day story, their actors are on the show at different times).
  • On Doctor Who:
    • The Second Doctor story "The War Games" finally revealed Gallifrey and the Time Lords, after six years of the Doctor's species being unknown.
    • It only took 11 years and four Doctors battling the Daleks before we finally got to see how they were created by Davros, after which point he became a recurring villain in Dalek stories.
    • Between the Doctor Who TV series and Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventures, we've had the Ice Warriors' origin story with the Second Doctor, the Daleks' origin story with the Fourth Doctor, the Cybermen's origin story with the Fifth Doctor, the Sontarans' origin story with the Sixth Doctor.
    • Nearly everyone who worked on the series prefers to avert this with the Doctor. Even after 50+ years and 38 seasons (as of 2021), the number of formal revelations of who they were before running away from Gallifrey and became the Doctor and why they fled the planet can be counted on one hand, and their real name remains a mystery. Their granddaughter Susan remains the only relative of theirs depicted onscreen or even named, even though they had to have had a wife and children. Occasionally hints are dropped about their past — the Twelfth Doctor confessed in "Heaven Sent" he fled Gallifrey out of fear of something rather than the boredom he usually claims — but nothing more, leaving the title of the show a never-to-be-answered question. The two attempts at this trope for the Doctor, the novel Lungbarrow in The '90s' Doctor Who Expanded Universe and the episode "The Timeless Children" at the beginning of The New '20s, both provoked very mixed fan reactions, and both retcon the depiction of Gallifrey in preceding televised canon.
  • The Firefly episode "Out of Gas" features flashbacks showing how each of the main characters ended up on Serenity (except for Book, Simon and River, who came aboard in the pilot episode). Zoe was Mal's old Army buddy from the Unification Wars, Wash signed on as pilot right after Mal and Zoe found Serenity, Jayne was a bandit who tried to kill Mal (until Mal convinced him to turn against his two partners by offering to pay him better), and Kaylee replaced the ship's original engineer after Mal found her having sex with him, and discovered that she knew more about engines than he did.
  • Forever Knight: Nick's vampire origin was shown in the pilot, "Dark Knight".
  • Frasier had this in the episode "You Can Go Home Again" which is also the season 3 finale. In this episode, Frasier celebrates his show's three-year anniversary and Roz offers him a videotape which contains his first broadcast. As he goes home, Frasier listens the tape and we see what happened when he arrived to Seattle, met Roz for the first time and reconciled with Niles and later Martin.
  • The Greek episode "Freshman Daze" gave the background stories for Casey, Cappie and Evan (with more information on Ashleigh and Frannie) through flashbacks to their freshman year, including the origins of the love triangle that drove most of their storylines.
  • Highlander had "Family Tree" and later "Homeland" for Duncan. For recurring characters, there was "Legacy" for Amanda, "Comes A Horseman" showed Cassandra's origin and there was one for Fitz ("Star Crossed"?).
  • "Three Stories", a Season One episode of House, reveals how House's leg turned out in such a bad state: he suffered an aneurysm while playing golf. His drug-seeking behavior caused the other doctors to brush off his pain as a withdrawal symptom. Soon, however, the aneurysm caused an infarction and muscle tissue to die. House refused to have the leg amputated, even though the bypass he demands and ultimately undergoes causes such severe pain that it gives him a heart attack. While in a medically-induced coma, his girlfriend and proxy authorized him to undergo a partial amputation that would only remove the necrotic tissue while leaving the rest of his leg intact, but it leaves his leg's mobility compromised on top of leaving him in chronic pain.
  • How I Met Your Mother has the episode "How I Met Everyone Else", which showcases how the core group (except Robin, who joined the group in the pilot) met and became friendsnote .
  • Kamen Rider Double has nearly half their riders be given Origins Episodes, mostly as part of a movie (or in the case of Kamen Rider Eternal, a whole movie).
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid has Snipe Episode Zero. It depicts events leading to the Zero Day and Start of Darkness of Taiga Hanaya.
  • One of the main gimmicks of Lost, was that each episode had a flashback plot delivering information about a specific character's past. Many of the major characters ended up having several.
  • S1 E4 of Misfits has a bit of this, in that it expands on how some of the characters ended up with community service.
  • The Season 8 NCIS episode "Baltimore" depicts how DiNozzo and Gibbs met while the former was a detective with the Baltimore police department.
  • Odd Squad: The Season 1 episode "Totally Odd Squad" is an origins episode for Oprah, as she explains to Olive, Otto and Oscar about her time as an Investigation agent back in 1983 and how she became the Director of Precinct 13579.
    • Another Season 1 episode, "Training Day", reveals who Olive's previous partner was before Otto, and how she grew from being a Shrinking Violet as an agent-in-training to an eventual Shell-Shocked Veteran as an Investigation agent. It also has a brief scene that shows how Otto became her partner.
    • "Oscar of All Trades" shows how Oscar came to be the Lab Director of Precinct 13579.
    • The first part of the Season 2 finale, "Who is Agent Otis?", reveals how Otis became an Odd Squad agent and explains how life was for him before joining the organization.
    • The Season 3 episode "The Weight of the World Depends on Orla" shows how the eponymous agent became the guardian of the 44-leaf clover.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • "The Stable Boy" does this for Regina. Her ambitious and cold-blooded mother wanted her to marry up, but she was in love with a stable boy. When Snow White, then an innocent child, tried to help Regina by letting the ambitious mama know her stepmother-to-be was with the stable boy... Well, let's just say someone's True Love ended up dead, and Snow White ended up on the wrong end of a vendetta.
    • "The Miller's Daughter" showed how Cora became who she was. When she was a young woman, she was tripped by an immature Eva (Snow White's mother before she married Snow's father) who claimed Cora hurt her. The King of the land forced Cora to apologize on her knees or he wouldn't pay her for the flour. She would later use the emotions she felt here to channel her magic to spin gold.
    • "It's Not Easy Being Green" shows how Zelena discovered in the course of one day that she was adopted, her stepfather never loved her, her mother abandoned her at birth and she had a sister who got everything she never had. When she's passed over as Rumpelstiltskin's student, her envy corrupts her and turns her into the Wicked Witch of the West.
    • "The Snow Queen" shows how the eponymous girl became evil. Born as Princess Ingrid, she discovered her ice powers one day while protecting her two sisters. The powers grew as she got older and she opted to hide herself away to protect the kingdom. When she accidentally killed her sister Helga, her other sister Gerda trapped her in an urn and had all memories of her erased from the kingdom.
    • "Poor Unfortunate Soul" reveals that Ursula used to be a mermaid, forced to use her singing voice to sink ships by her father. She rejected him and transformed herself in the sea witch after Hook stole her singing voice, her only memory of her dead mother. Ironically this same episode combines this with a Heel–Face Turn, as Hook returns Ursula's voice and she reunites with her father.
    • In episodes "Best Laid Plans" and "Unforgiven" which act as the opposite for Maleficent. Originally established as an evil sorceress, discovering she was about to become a mother and eventually getting separated from her child prompts a sort of Heel–Face Turn, showing her as a sympathetic character.
    • "Broken Kingdom" shows how King Arthur became a Knight Templar, due to his obsession with reforging Excalibur, which he sees as the only way he can truly rule his kingdom. This drove him utterly mad, as he was even willing to brainwash the woman he loved (and his whole kingdom, for that matter) and betray his best friend, in order to ensure his rule.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Power Rangers Samurai even went so far as to have its Origins episodes titled "Origins". It probably has something to do with the fact that said episodes were delayed until midseason, instead of being shown at the beginning as usual.
    • Power Rangers RPM had origin episodes for the Red, Yellow, Blue, and Green Rangers as well as for Dr. K. All ended with them going to or arriving at Corinth (except Green, who had to leave) and don't include how they were selected as Rangers (again, except Green who we already saw acquire his powers.
  • Suits episode "Rewind" shows Mike starting using his Photographic Memory to earn money cheating at tests, his friend Trevor start dealing marijuana and Harvey blackmailing Hardman into resignation. Also doubles as a Start of Darkness episode.
  • The Tales from the Crypt episode "Lower Berth'' provides the odd origin of The Crypt Keeper. An unholy product of the love between a (literal) two-faced freakshow attraction, and a 4000-year-old mummy.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, "Today Is the Day"/"The Last Voyage of the Jimmy Carter" is a two-part origin episode for Jesse Flores, and possibly also Weavernote .
  • Torchwood has the episode "Fragments", giving the back-story of how the main team members note  were recruited to Torchwood Three.
  • The Tribe had two of these in the second season; one focused on Zoot and Ebony; the other focused on Lex and Ryan (though the latter example was submerged as a very long flashback).
  • Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger has the origins of Stinger/Sasori Orange and Champ/Oushi Black in Episode of Stinger.
  • WandaVision's next-to-last episode, "Previously On...," uses flashbacks to tell the origin story of Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch.
  • The West Wing had several of these:
    • "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen" is a series of flashbacks to the 1998 Presidential Election [sic], showing how the main characters met and got involved with Bartlet's campaign. When the story begins, Leo is a former cabinet secretary serving as Bartlet's campaign manager, Josh is campaign manager for Bartlet's biggest rival (and future VP) Senator John Hoynes, Sam is a frustrated lawyer for an unscrupulous oil company, CJ is a PR specialist for a movie studio, Toby is a talented (but unsuccessful) political operative looking for a chance to prove his skills, and Donna is a campaign volunteer.
    • "Two Cathedrals" features an extended flashback to Bartlet's childhood, showing how he met Mrs. Landingham and first got interested in politics. As we learn, Mrs. Landingham started out as a secretary at the New Hampshire prep school where Bartlet's father was Headmaster, and she convinced him to confront his father about the wage gap between male and female employees at the school. He tried, but lost his nerve after his father slapped him for protesting his decision to ban several classic novels from the school library.
    • "Bartlet for America" goes into more detail about Bartlet's election, mostly from Leo's perspective. We see how Bartlet convinced Hoynes to become his running mate by telling him the truth about his multiple sclerosis as a gesture of good faith, and we learn about Leo's last alcoholic relapse. It turns out that a campaign donor pressured him into drinking again, and he fell off the wagon so hard that he wasn't able to come to Bartlet's aid when his MS flared up again—an incident that has clearly haunted him ever since.
  • White Collar episode "Forging Bonds" dedicated to how Neal started his Con Man career with Mozzie, how he met Kate, how Peter started pursuing Neal and how Peter and Neal first met.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess had several over the course of the show, showing how she developed from a village girl into an evil Warrior Princess. (She had a Heel–Face Turn during her guest appearances on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys before she got her own show.)
  • The Incredible Hulk (1977): The original pilot episode detailed how David Banner became the eponymous monster and how he ended up on the run.
  • The X-Files had several origin episodes, including one for the Big Bad ("Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man") and the Lone Gunmen trio ("Unusual Suspects").

    Podcasts 

    Radio 
  • Our Miss Brooks:
    • The first episode, appropriately enough titled "First Day", relates Mr. Conklin's arrival as newly appointed principal.
    • In "Borrowing Money To Fly", it's Miss Brooks' arrival in Madison that's explained. In this version, Mr. Conklin has already long been comfortable ensconced as principal of Madison High School.

    Video Games 
  • Anything with the subtitle "Origins".
    • Assassin's Creed Origins is about the formation of the Assassin Brotherhood in Ancient Egypt by Bayek and Aya/Amunet.
    • Batman: Arkham Origins doesn't cover the origins of Batman, but it does show the origins of the Batman-Joker feud and Harley Quinn in this canon, as well as the re-opening of Arkham Asylum due to the events of the game. Downloadable content also shows the origin of Mr. Freeze.
    • Oddly enough, excluding Dragon Age: Origins. The "origins" in question are the first act of the game and cover how the main character became a Grey Warden. They have nothing to do with the origin of the setting, any other characters (except possibly Jowan), or the Blight. Speaking of Origins, the DLC campaign Leliana's Song provides an origin story for the eponymous character, which is only alluded to in the game proper.
    • Subverted with Rayman Origins. It was originally intended to be the origin of Rayman. Its plot changed but its title did not.
    • Silent Hill: Origins is this for Alessa/Cheryl/Heather.
    • Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is this for Garland/Chaos, the main villain of the original Final Fantasy.
    • Ys Origin explores the history of the Ys civilization, its six priests and twin goddesses, the Fact family, and the Black Pearl.
  • Episode 3, "The Inherited Turnabout", of Gyakuten Kenji 2 expands on the events that led to the murder of Gregory Edgeworth at the hands of Manfred von Karma, which by extension led to the events of the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game. "The Inherited Turnabout" even has segments where the player controls Gregory during his final case, before switching back to the present where Miles Edgeworth picks up on where his father left off.
  • Similar to the Origins example above, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla is actually about how King Aelfred the Great reformed the Order of the Ancients into the modern Templar Order which is revealed near the end of the game when Eivor Varinsdottir visits a study room and stumbles upon letters from Goodwin which notes that Aelfred's used the alias of "Poor Fellow-Soldier of Christ" to spy on the Raven Clan.
  • Baten Kaitos Origins shows how Geldoblame came to be in control of The Empire, and how he went from Verus' prissy Yes-Man to a megalomaniacal Evil Overlord. It also shows how Giacomo's constant defeats at the hands of Sagi shaped him into a zealous soldier utterly obsessed with attaining power by any means necessary and how he eventually became Emperor Geldoblame's right hand man.
  • Borderlands The Presequel is the Protagonist Journey to Villain, showing how Jack became Handsome Jack.
  • Castlevania has Lament of Innocence, which explains the origins of Dracula and the Belmont clan's feud with him.
  • About one third of Crisis Core is spent on telling us how Sephiroth became the One-Winged Angel he is in Final Fantasy VII. Including remaking Cloud's flashback scenes from the original game to the actual moment he snapped. This took advantage of advances in animation and allowed for Cloud's serious amnesia problem.
  • Dragon Quest III serves as the Origins Episode for Erdrick/Loto, the legendary ancestor of the heroes of the prior two games.
  • Kagetsu Tohya fleshes out Michael Roa Valdamjong's start of darkness with the Crimson Moon and Drinking, Dreaming Moon scenarios. Roa actually wanted to achieve immortality because he fell in love with Arcueid and wanted to be with her for eternity, but mistook that feeling for hatred and thought he wanted to torment her for eternity.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, chronologically the first game in the series, mainly delves into the origins of Xehanort and other villains such as Maleficent, Pete, and Organization XIII, but it also briefly shows how Sora, Riku, and Kairi came to be the people they were by the start of the original game.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Mass Effect: The novel Revelation serves as an Origins Episode for Saren, showing how he came to be the villain in the videogame... though in the novel itself, he's already an extreme Knight Templar.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater revealed the tragic backstory of Big Boss, and showed how he went from an idealistic, somewhat silly hero to the villain of the first game... though the process didn't really finish up until around the fifth game.
  • The GBA game The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Pumpkin King explains that Oogie Boogie used to be the leader of a holiday called Bug Day. However, it was forgotten and the town was destroyed, leaving Oogie as the sole survivor. The reason he wants to take over Halloween Town is to re-make it into a new Bug Day. This also explains his dislike of Jack in the movie.
  • Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles provides such a story for Jack Krauser. During a mission working alongside Leon, Krauser suffered an injury that crippled his left arm and effectively ended his illustrious military career. After witnessing how the virus healed the Delicate and Sickly Manuela and gave her incredible power, Krauser decided to seek out Wesker in hopes of regaining everything he'd lost.
  • The official bio for each character in Skylanders details how they first came to join the group as a whole. Other sources tend to expand upon these in greater detail.
  • Despite the major characters of the Masou Kishin series appearing sporadically through the "Classic Timeline" of Super Robot Wars, The Lord of Elemental effectively serves as the prequel detailing how each character arrived in the subterranean world of "La Gias" and earned the right to become a Herald of the Elemental Lords.
  • The 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider serves as this for Lara Croft, it follows a 21-year-old Lara Croft fresh out of college on her first expedition to find the lost city of Yamatai. The game showcases her original disbelief about myth before embracing these mysteries and figuring out what happened to her father as well as rebuilding the pedestal she had before he went missing. The following two games, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Shadow of the Tomb Raider work with the 2013 title as Lara Croft's origin trilogy.
  • Chapter 4 of Cage in Lunatic Runagate, a side-story Touhou Project book, tells the story of how Fujiwara no Mokou became immortal.
  • The "Harbingers: Gul'dan" video released before the World of Warcraft expansion Legion details how Gul'dan became a power-hungry servant of demons after having been cast out from his birth village for being crippled.
  • Majima's side of the story in Yakuza 0 chronicles how he went from a surprisingly mellow and subdued caberet club owner to the Ax-Crazy Mad Dog of Shimano through a long, long series of traumatic events.
  • Criminal Case:
    • The South America arc in Criminal Case: World Edition serves as one for SOMBRA, with the Bureau exploring the organization's past and slowly discovering how, when, and where SOMBRA was created and who its original leader is. By the end of South America, the only remaining question is just how SOMBRA managed to grow into the global nightmare you've been fighting all around the world, whose answer won't be uncovered until the game's next region, North America.
    • Both the University and the Newmark arcs in Criminal Case: The Conspiracy are this for Rozetta Pierre. The former has the police department digging up her past as a teen prodigy attending college while trying to uncover her motivations for starting up DreamLife and, later in the district, Ad Astra, while the latter focuses on learning about her troubled childhood, her strained relationship with her mother, and her real motivation for the creation of DreamLife and Ad Astra.

    Web Animation 
  • The Season 4 Bravest Warriors two-part episode "It Shouldn't Ever Have to End This Way" reveals the exact circumstances under which the Bravest Warriors' parents and predecessors the Courageous Battlers were banished to the See-Through Zone by Beth's father.
  • The Homestar Runner short "Hremail 7" explains the origin of Strong Bad Email. And, in the process, messes up what little continuity the HR-verse has.
  • The Most Epic Story Ever Told in All of Human History: The third episode serves as this for Epic-Man, explaining how he got his powers and started his superhero career.
  • Season 14 of Red vs. Blue has three examples:
    • The Blood Gulch Prequel Trilogy episodes - “From Stumbled Beginnings”, “Fifty Shades of Red”, and “Why They’re Here” - all show how how the members of the Red and Blue Teams met and ended up in Blood Gulch.
    • The Merc Trilogy episodes - "Club", "Call", and "Consequences" - show what Locus and Felix were up to prior to Chorus as well as their Protagonist Journey to Villain.
    • It's heavily implied that the Freelancer Prequel Duology episodes - “The Triplets” and “The ‘Mission’” - concern the origin of the Red vs. Blue simulation war.
  • RWBY:
    • The aptly named "Beginning Of The End" from Volume 3 explains the backstories of both Emerald and Mercury, and how they came to work for Cinder. Cinder herself doesn't get an Origins Episode until Volume 8, in "Midnight."
    • "The Lost Fable" in Volume 6 reveals the history of both Salem and Ozpin.
  • The Shut Up! Cartoons segment Oishi High School Battle has Oishi Orgins, or, as the title says, Oishi High School Battle Orgins. Oishi Orgins explains several things, such as how Oishi's father got fired (like the intro song says) and how Oishi got her dog Noodles. (Which was due to the creature transporter machine going haywire after a demon attack, thus resulting in this event.)

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Dawdle the Donkey: The first episode, "Looking For A Home", follows Dawdle the Donkey, Rola Polar Bear, and Archie the Cat as they meet in the city and look for a home together.
  • The Dr. Robotnik of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog has his origin told in the episode "Best Hedgehog" as a high school student expelled because he tried to kill a romantic rival with a robotic snake to woo a girl he liked. He made sure that rival was his first prisoner.
  • Adventure Time:
    • In the episode "Holly Jolly Secrets Part II", we learn the Ice King's origins. He used to be a human named Simon from before The Great Mushroom War who bought a crown while on a trip with his fiancee Betty, whom he called "Princess." When he put on the crown he had mad visions, blacked out, and when he came to his fiancee was gone. Throughout the video he made you see him slowly morphing into his current form, wishing that whoever finds it to watch over him until he can figure out how to break the curse. It's really hard not to feel sorry for the guy after that.
    • The episode "Princess Cookie": Baby-Snaps the cookie is seen taking hostages and trying to steal the crown of Princess Bubblegum. Then, we learn of his past: he was an orphan living in a terrible orphanage, and one day, Princess Bubblegum showed up to read to the kids and cheer them up. The princess put Baby-Snaps on her lap and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He jollily said: "I want to be a princess like YOU!" And the princess giggled innocently. That was the start of darkness for poor Baby-Snaps, who went on to threaten people with violence, take hostages, and attempt suicide, and end up in a mental hospital.
    • "Orgalorg" tells the origin of Gunter the penguin, of all characters. Specifically, he's actually the titular Eldritch Abomination, and he was trapped on Earth in the form of a penguin for trying to harness the power of a comet.
  • This was the plot point of the Aladdin: The Series episode "Seems Like Old Crimes", which focused on Aladdin telling everyone the story of how he and Abu first met, long before the events of the first movie.
  • The first episode of All Hail King Julien serves as this for the Madagascar franchise, as it explains how Julien the lemur became king, and how he made partying the norm in his kingdom.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • The Multi-Part Episode simply titled "The Origins" details how Darwin came to live with the Wattersons.
    • "The Choices" shows, along with other parts of Nicole's past (and alternate presents), how she met her future husband Richard.
    • "The Rival" is about Anais' birth, and the trouble she caused for her older brothers.
  • Arcane, a prequel series to League of Legends, is an origin story for Jinx, showing how she ultimately became the Ax-Crazy anarchist she is by the events of the game.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Storm" gives the backstories of Aang and Zuko via Flash Back.
    • Its Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, has one in "Beginnings", a two part Flash Back that explains how the Avatar Cycle began, as well as what is causing the spirits to go berserk and start attacking humans once again.
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm presents the origin of Batman in the DC Animated Universe.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Temple Fugate’s origin story is a Deconstructive Parody; Temple had No Social Skills and was a Mean Boss long before the fateful day he took Hill’s advice. Even when confronted with the fact that Hill meant him no harm, Temple reconstructs this trope when he refuses to admit he's taken his obsession too far, being a Schedule Fanatic, being punctual is the only thing he cares for.
    Batman: Give it up, Fugate! Hill committed no crime against you!
    Clock King: He did worse! He made me late!
    • The show is credited with Mr. Freeze's backstory, who up to that point was just a cold-themed villain who turned up occasionally. The cartoon turned him into an Anti-Villain Woobie.
  • The 1993 Biker Mice from Mars series had a three-part episode called "Once Upon a Time on Mars", which explained in full detail how Modo got his robotic arm and lost his eye, why Vinnie wears a metal plate over half of his face, and what the Biker Mice went through during the Plutarkian invasion of Mars before they left their home planet and ended up on Earth. The 2006 revival also had a three-part episode called "Once Upon a Time on Earth", which explained how the Catatonians started their war with the Martian mice and how Ronaldo Rump became rich.
  • The Boondocks episode "The Color Ruckus" shows the events in the life of Uncle Ruckus (no relation) that lead him to becoming a Boomerang Bigot; his father Mister was monstrously abusive and beat his sons for basically any reason, with Ruckus getting the worst treatment. This, combined with the stories his Caucasian-idolizing mother told him to comfort him, led to Ruckus inventing a ridiculous backstory for himself about being an abandoned white child with "reverse vitalargo" because he couldn't deal with being his father's biological son. Ironically, the episode ALSO shows how his father got that way; a lifetime of abuse heaped on him by both his horrid bitch of a mother, and a parade of abusive white employers (Mister having been around during the worst of the Jim Crow era.)
  • Boy Girl Dog Cat Mouse Cheese has "Begins!", a two-part episode in which the kids of the family explain to Grandpa how they and their parents first met, and how the wedding was both almost ruined and later fixed by the kids.
  • Camp Lazlo had an hour-long special titled "Where's Lazlo", which explained how Lazlo, Clam, and Raj met.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Downplayed; while we only get a snippet from each of the Planeteers' pasts in "A Mine is a Terrible Thing to Waste", it's still one of the biggest episodes for what the team's lives were like before they were recruited
  • Carmen Sandiego takes the unusual approach of opening the series with one of these. The two-part pilot, "Becoming Carmen Sandiego" features a framing device of Carmen being confronted by her former V.I.L.E. trainee Gray/Crackle, and dictating to him the story of how she was raised by V.I.L.E. only to later turn on them.
    • The Season 2 episode "The Boston Tea Party Caper" explores Zack and Ivory's backstories, and shows how they met and started working with Carmen and Player.
  • Code Lyoko starts In Medias Res, and there's a special double-episode prequel titled XANA Awakens in Season 3 that shows how everything started.
  • The Courage the Cowardly Dog episode "Remembrance of Courage Past" serves mainly to give the full details on how Courage was found and adopted by Muriel Bagge.
  • C.O.P.S. (1988) had an Origins Episode consisting of a two-parter titled "The Case of C.O.P.S. File #1", which explained the circumstances of Bulletproof becoming a cyborg as well as the formation of C.O.P.S. and their first battle with Big Boss and his goons.
  • The final episode of Dan Vs., "Dan vs. Summer Camp", consisted of a flash back to how Dan and Chris met at summer camp, and Chris helped Dan with his very first vendetta against the cruel, favorites-playing camp director.
  • Darkwing Duck received several origin stories throughout the run of his series, many of which were contradictory, though the origin given in "Clash Reunion", which also establishes the origins of his enemy Megavolt, appears to be the true origin.
  • The Defenders of the Earth episode "The Adoption of Kshin" is another example, using flashbacks to explore how Kshin came to lose his real parents and how he and Mandrake first met.
  • Dexter's Laboratory
    • The Musical Episode "LABretto" serves as this for Dexter, explaining the circumstances of his birth as well as why he created his secret laboratory.
    • "A Boy Named Sue" explains the backstory of Mandark and why he became rivals with Dexter, though it contradicts the events of his debut episode.
  • Doc McStuffins has "Bringing Home Baby," which features several flashbacks to Doc's early life, showing how she got each of her main toy friends, how she got her magic stethoscope and learned of its power to bring toys to life, and how she came to be a toy doctor.
  • Dora the Explorer had two:
    • "Backpack" has Dora flashing back to the day she first got her sentient Backpack, how she learned how to check her for what she needs, and the first time she called on Map to find where she needed to go.
    • The more extensive "Dora's First Trip" also has Dora flash back to the time she became an explorer and went on her very first adventure, and shows how she met Boots, Benny, Isa, Tico, Swiper and the Fiesta Trio. It also shows the origin of "Swiper, No Swiping!", as well as the first Travel Song.
  • DuckTales (1987):
    • "Launchpad's First Class" explains how Scrooge and Launchpad met.
    • "Once Upon A Dime" relates much of Scrooge's early life.
    • "The Curse of Castle McDuck" tells about Scrooge's family background living in Scotland before he came to Duckburg, including his ancestral homes of both Cottage and Castle McDuck. It also tells of how his family fell on hard times despite originally having a castle to its name.
  • DuckTales (2017):
  • The Evil Con Carne episode "Bring Me the Face of Hector Con Carne" explains the circumstances under which Hector Con Carne's body was destroyed, how he survived as a disembodied brain, and how Major Dr. Ghastly became employed by him.
  • Fangbone!: One of the last episodes of the series, "The Forging of Friendship", sees Bill and Fangbone retell the story of the latter's first days on Earth and initial (hostile) encounters with Bill, and how they ultimately led to the two becoming the duo we see through the whole series, to the Barbarians and Shadowsteppers in an effort to convince both factions to form an alliance against Venomous Drool.
  • In The Fantastic Four (1967), the episode "How It All Began" featured flashbacks to how Reed Richards met Ben Grimm and Victor Von Doom, the circumstances that led Victor Von Doom to become Dr. Doom, and the space voyage that resulted in the Fantastic Four gaining their powers.
  • The Darker and Edgier Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends 1-hour special "Good Wilt Hunting" which reveals Wilt's backstory. He was created by a Michael Jordan Expy to teach the kid basketball. In a big game against rival imaginary friend, Foul Larry, Wilt lost to save his creator's life from a falling Larry. His arm and eye were crushed by the weight of the massive Larry (who's as tall as Wilt but with more muscle) falling. Wilt was so ashamed (hence his apologetic manner) that he ran away, amputating his mangled arm too. Unbeknownst to him, the kid was quite grateful and became a professional basketball player too. Eduardo is also revealed to be created by a little girl who needed a scary-looking imaginary friend to protect her from bad guys yet be sweet enough to play with her baby brother while Coco was found on a desert island by two biology students note  in the same episode.
  • Freakazoid! has a two-parter episode that explains how Dexter Douglas became Freakazoid. This show being what it is, Jack Valenti (and his cheeks), the longtime head of the MPAA and inventor of the movie ratings system, served as the narrator (and even interrupted a couple times to explain said system). You can even see a man fighting a bear.
  • Gargoyles has both this and a conventional first episode origins set up. The first five episodes established the main characters (heroes and villains) and their situation. Later MacBeth was introduced, and they then combined a multi-episode arc with telling the origin of MacBeth (he really is Macbeth) and his history with Demona.
    • Five Episode Pilots were a staple of Disney television animation in the 80s and 90s, with the pilot movies showing how all of the characters came together. Some characters (such as GizmoDuck) would be introduced and receive their specific origin stories later in their respective series.
  • Generator Rex: The late season one episode "Promises, Promises" shows how Rex ended up working for Providence after being found by Agent Six during a massive EVO attack. During the episode, Six realizes that Rex himself was the massive EVO, and he can cure smaller EVOs, which makes him a simultaneous hope for the future and a danger to the world. The child Rex is also seen befriending Bobo and falling under Dr. Holiday's care.
  • Goldie & Bear's season finale of the first season introduces Goldie's father Mr. Locks and flashes back to the time when Goldie and Bear were not the best of friends because of the notorious "porridge incident".
  • Gravity Falls episode "A Tale of Two Stans" shows how the Author came to Gravity Falls and wrote the Journals, and why Stan started the Mystery Shack.
  • Spoofed in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy episode "Billy and Mandy Begins", where Billy and Grim give their own accounts of Billy and Mandy's first meeting with Grim. Said accounts are wild departers of the first episode, which Mandy simply gives a straightforward summary.
  • The Harvey Beaks episode "The End and the Beginning", true to its name, shows how Fee and Foo arrived in Littlebark and befriended Harvey, and end up leaving Littlebark to live with their parents.
  • Skeletor got one in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002). Turns out he was a powerful wizard trained by Hordak who wasen't completely bad (or at least not crazy). Then his face got flash fried off. After seeing that he has a skull for a face now, he completely lost it. The scene where his sanity finally snaps can scare someone as he starts laughing into the sky like the god damned Joker.
  • Hey Arnold! gives Helga one in "Helga On The Couch", where a school-mandated therapy session leads to Helga sharing just how bad of a Dark and Troubled Past she had, how she met Arnold, and why she acts like the Tsundere she is.
  • The Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi episode "Secret Origin" takes place when Ami, Yumi, and Atchan were children and explains why Atchan is the way he is today.
  • The Incredible Hulk (1982) revealed the circumstances under which Bruce Banner first became the Hulk in the episode "Origin of the Hulk".
  • Iron Man: The Animated Series had two origin episodes.
    • "The Origin of the Mandarin" revealed the backstory of Iron Man's archenemy the Mandarin.
    • The two-part episode "The Origin of Iron Man" revealed the circumstances under which Tony Stark became Iron Man.
  • The Jem episode "Out of the Past" explains in flashbacks how Jerrica Benton's deceased father Emmett created Synergy, the artificial intelligence who controls the holograms used by Jerrica's alter ego Jem and her band the Holograms.
  • Kim Possible:
    • "A Sitch In Time" shows the backstory of how Kim and Ron met and the first mission that started their careers as crimefighters. Ironically, their first mission was because of a typo, so you might say it was destiny that led to them becoming heroes.
    • "Go Team Go" gives the backstory of how Shego and her brothers were empowered by a falling comet fragment and how she became a villain after becoming fascinated by villainy and exasperated by her brothers.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Every major character gets at least one episode focusing on their past:
    • The episode Sympathy for the Mandrill acts as one for Scarlemagne, revealing how he was a normal mandrill raised in a lab and used for experiments that eventually mutated him (and also revealing the reason for his vendetta against the Oak family).
    • The two-part episode "Fun Gus" reveals details about Leo and Song's life before they had Kipo (as well as how and why they modified her DNA to make her a half-mute).
    • "Requiem for a Dave" acts as one for Dave and Benson.
  • Loonatics Unleashed had two origin episodes.
    • "The Comet Cometh" reveals in flashback what the Loonatics were like before they got their powers and where they were when the meteor that gave them their powers came to Acmetropolis.
    • The first season's two-part finale "Acmegeddon" explains the backstories of the Loonatics' benefactor Zadavia as well as her evil brother Optimatus.
  • Looney Tunes: The Old Grey Hare: In a flashback we learn that Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd have been chasing one another since they were babies! And even then Bugs outsmarted him!
  • A large portion of the Mighty Magiswords episode "Quest for Knowledge!" is devoted to flashbacks explaining some of Prohyas and Vambre's past, specificially how they first became interested in Magiswords and their early days at Adventure Academy.
  • Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures:
    • The episode "Mouse from Another House" has Pearl Pureheart narrate Mighty Mouse's origins, which spoofs the origin of Superman by having Mighty Mouse adopted by squirrels after his parents sent him away in a rocket to survive the imminent destruction of the condemned building they live in (which doesn't kill his parents anyway).
    • "Scrap-Happy" reveals how Mighty Mouse first encountered his sidekick the orphan mouse Scrappy.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Episode 25 and 26 reveal how Marinette and Adrien received their Miraculouses and became Ladybug and Cat Noir.
  • Molly of Denali: In a way, the tie-in podcast serves as one to Suki, showing how Molly found and befriended her.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The season four premiere serves as one for the Elements of Harmony.
    • In season one, there was "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", which explains how all of the mane six got their cutie marks (and how Spike was hatched).
    • The season two episode "Hearth's Warming Eve" has a winter pageant about the founding of Equestria.
  • Nella the Princess Knight: The episode "The Unicorn Rescue" has Nella reminisce the time she first met Trinket, rescued her, received her heart sparkle stone, and transformed into a knight for the first time.
  • Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero: The episode "Zap One" is the story of how Penn discovered his parents' lives as heroes, how he first became a part-time hero, how he first met Boone and Sashi, and their first adventure together.
  • Peppermint Rose's first and only special starts with showing how life in the magic land is now, then showing how it got there.
  • The 1986 Pound Puppies cartoon had the episode "How to Found a Pound", which established how the Puppy Pound was founded, how Cooler and the other Pound Puppies met each other, and how Holly became in charge of the Puppy Pound.
  • The Pound Puppies (2010) episode "Call of the Squirrel Dog" explained Strudel's first meeting with her assistant Mr. Nut Nut and why the Pound Puppies allowed squirrels to help them in their missions to help dogs get loving owners.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): Mojo Jojo's origin was initially revealed in the episode "Mr. Mojo's Rising". As Jojo, he was once Professor Utonium's unruly pet monkey, but was ignored when the Powerpuff Girls were created (to which he learned he played a part of in the end). This would lead him into becoming the supervillain we all know. The story and trope were further expanded in The Powerpuff Girls Movie. Mojo's telling of the origin paints him as someone who might come off as sympathetic but Utonium reveals that Mojo was just as unsympathetic when he was Jojo. In fact, Mojo may actually be more likable and sympathetic as a supervillain than he ever was when he was just a normal monkey.
  • Ready Jet Go!:
    • The beginning of "How We Found Your Sun" reveals how the Propulsion family found Earth.
    Jet: Well, my mom and dad are, um, how would you say— they write true stories about traveling and exploring around the galaxy. And we were flying across this part of the galaxy, looking for nice, life-friendly planets to visit and write more stories about. And way out in the middle of nowhere, we picked up this primitive radio signal from Earth that had been traveling across space, so we figured you'd still be here. It was a song... and a catchy one! We knew that whoever was out there at the other end of the signal would be life friendly and have a good sense of rhythm. So we followed the radio signal. That's how we found your star, the Sun!
    • In a way, "Commander Cressida Begins" acts as one for the In-Universe fictional character. Sydney and Mindy read the first ever issue of the comics, where they see how Cressida used to be a farm girl in Indiana and how she built a rocket and became a commander.
  • Rainbow Brite has the fourth and fifth episodes, "The Beginning Of Rainbowland" two parter. These episodes reveal how Rainbow Brite, then known as Wisp, first came to Rainbowland, met Twink, Starlite, and the Color Kids, and restored what was a Crapsack World to a beautiful land by defeating its ruler, the King of Shadows. This also gave a motivation as to why Murky and Lurky were constantly trying to get rid of Rainbow Brite, as they had been the King's servants.
  • The Real Ghostbusters had this happen in the episode "Citizen Ghost", which featured flashbacks taking place shortly after the events of the movie that served to explain why the Ghostbusters wore multi-colored jumpsuits, why the Containment Unit was larger and of a different design, and how Slimer became their ally.
  • The third Recess movie (And second Direct to Video movie), Recess: All Growed Down featured an origins story of how the gang all met.
  • Regular Show has "Skips' Story" which explains how Skips gained immortality.
  • Samurai Jack had the hour-long prequel episode "Birth of Evil", which detailed Aku's origin, and the original battle between him and Jack's father, along with how Jack's sword was forged, ending with Jack's actual birth and his father deciding they needed "a plan". (Which was used to train Jack as an adult when Aku escaped in the first episode.)
  • Sheriff Callie's Wild West has the book release The Cat Who Tamed the West, which explains how Callie came to the town of Mean and Messy Corners and took on all the bandits that were terrorizing the town, then lassoed a star for her badge and became sheriff of the renamed Nice and Friendly Corners.
  • Shimmer and Shine: The episode "The First Wish" is the story of how Shimmer and Shine first became Leah's genies, how her genie bottle necklace came to be, and how she won it at a carnival.
  • The Simpsons has five of these presented as Whole Episode Flashbacks — "The Way We Was" (showing how Homer and Marge first met and began dating), "I Married Marge" (which details the circumstances behind their marriage, how Homer came to work at the nuclear power plant, and culminates with the birth of Bart), "Lisa's First Word" (which had the family move to 742 Evergreen Terrace, Lisa's birth, and how Bart dealt with having a younger sibling), "And Maggie Makes Three" (which is about how Homer had to deal with Marge's pregnancy with Maggie), and "The Way We Weren't" (which reveals Homer and Marge's Forgotten First Meeting).
  • Spider-Man (1967) had two consecutive origin episodes.
    • "The Origin of Spider-Man", which revealed the circumstances under which Peter Parker got his powers from the radioactive spider biting him as well as the death of his Uncle Ben at the hands of a burglar that motivated him into using his powers to fight crime.
    • "King Pinned", which explained how Peter Parker came to work as a freelance photographer for the Daily Bugle.
  • Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
    • "The Origin of the Iceman" explains how Iceman started developing his powers as well as his first encounters with Professor X and Spider-Man, the framing device consisting of Iceman inexplicably losing his powers while he, Spider-Man, and Firestar are battling Videoman.
    • "A Fire-Star is Born" reveals the origins of Firestar and how she was first recruited by the X-Men, the framing device consisting of the Spider-Friends having to stop the Juggernaut from killing the X-Men.
    • "Along Came Spidey" reveals the circumstances of both the radioactive spider bite that gave Spider-Man his powers and the death of his uncle Ben that motivated him to become a crime fighter when the concurrently airing solo cartoon only ever revealed the details of the latter, the framing device consisting of the Spider-Friends having to stop the Shocker after he hurts Aunt May.
    • "The Origin of the Spider-Friends" divulges how Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar first became a team.
  • Steven Universe has several episodes focusing on a character's background, all of which involve a Framing Device:
  • Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters had two in the second season: "Riya's Revenge", which centers around Riya's quest to revisit her past and reveals her childhood, her motivation to target Rook and her relationship with Dr. C, and "Rook's Story", which is mostly an extended flashback that chronicles Rook's entire life, and how his actions have impacted nearly everyone in the series, including Riya.
  • Superfriends:
    • Superman's origin of being the sole survivor of his home planet Krypton's destruction was revealed in the 1973 series episode "The Planet-Splitter", the Challenge of the Superfriends episode "Secret Origins of the Super Friends" and the lost season episode "The Krypton Syndrome".
    • In addition to Superman's origin, "Secret Origins of the Super Friends" also revealed the origins of Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, as the plot involved the Legion of Doom going back in time and preventing key events from happening to prevent the three Super Friends from existing, which is eventually undone when the rest of the Super Friends find out what has happened and go back in time to correct history and restore their three friends to the timeline.
    • The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians episode "The Fear" revealed Batman's origin of being motivated to become a crimefighter after seeing his parents shot dead in front of him and was notable for being the first time Batman's origin was depicted outside of the comics.
  • Tak and the Power of Juju (2007) revealed the details of how Tak became shaman of the Pupununu and their liaison towards the Juju in the special "Destiny Schmestiny" (which is irreconcilable with Tak's backstory as depicted in the original video game).
  • Teen Titans (2003) starts with the team already established. While the origin stories of each individual character are alluded to and explained to varying degrees throughout the series, it isn't until the final season (with the episode "Go!") that the first meeting of these characters is explained.
  • Teen Titans Go! parodies this in the fourth season episode "Orangins". The episode has Robin attempt to tell his actual origin story about growing up in the circus before being interrupted by the others, who proceed to make up false origin stories for themselves, much to Robin's exasperation.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): The series' pilot episode shows Splinter's former life as Hamato Yoshi, along with the events that led to him living in the sewers of NYC, meeting the turtles, and how they all became mutants.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012)
    • "Tale of the Yokai" gives an in-depth look at the circumstances under which Hamato Yoshi fought Oroku Saki and reveals the cause of the fire that killed Tang Shen and scarred Saki.
    • "Tale of Tiger Claw" finally reveals how Tiger Claw became a tiger mutant and how he lost his tail.
    • "Lone Rat and Cubs" shows Splinter looking after the Turtles when they were infants and explains why he gave them their specific weapons as well as why they live in the sewers.
  • The Venture Brothers' "The Invisible Hand of Fate" revealed the start of Billy and Pete's friendship and Phantom Limb becoming a supervillain, as well as explain how Brock became the Ventures' bodyguard.
  • Wakfu:
    • "The Legend of Goultard" reveals how Goultard became a demonic berserker in the game. He was originally a brave and mighty hero who had a good life with a wife and three children. Then a villain named Katar kidnapped them to lure Goultard into a fight. Goultard tracks him down and is horrified when he discovers that Katar has already murdered his entire family. After a brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, the defeated Katar explains that he did this to free himself from the demon inside him by presenting it with a tastier target. The demon is drawn to Goultard's hate and fury and possesses him. Goultard finishes off Katar and eventually becomes an immortal demonic warrior who rules over a realm of madness and horror. Though in the series proper, he is eventually freed of the demon but retains the immortality and becomes Sadlygrove's mentor.
    • "Noximilien" shows how Nox, the Big Bad of the main series' first season, became such a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Essentially, the discovery of the Eliacube — an extremely powerful Amplifier Artifact (and, unfortunately, Artifact of Doom)—and Noximilien's subsequent obsession over it led him to neglect his family, which resulted in their loss. He did not take this well. At all.
  • The Wild Thornberrys had this happen in the episode "Gift of Gab" and the TV movie "The Origin of Donnie". The former explained how the Thornberrys first encountered Eliza's future chimpanzee friend Darwin and gave a more detailed explanation for how she gained the ability to talk to animals, while the latter explained the backstory of Donnie and how he came to live with the Thornberrys.
  • Nerissa of W.I.T.C.H. gets an origin story for both her comic and cartoon selves, both the same: a leader of her generation's Guardians, the Oracle feared she was becoming too attached to the Heart of Candracar and gave it to her friend Cassidy. When Nerissa demanded it back and Cassidy refused, Nerissa slew her in misguided rage.
  • Wonder Pets! has "How it All Began!", which explains exactly that - showing how Linny was joined by Tuck and Ming-Ming, how they came up with the show's trademark songs, and their first two rescues.
  • The World of Quest episode "The Fall of Odyssia" explores how the eponymous Quest came to the service of the royal court — specifically, becoming Nestor's nanny for life.
  • The X-Men: The Animated Series episode "Descent" reveals the origins of Mr. Sinister.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Origins Issue, Origins Arc, Origins Chapter

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Remembrance of Courage Past

The episode mainly serves to reveal the full details on how Courage was found and adopted by Muriel, as well as the disappearance of his parents and the cause of Courage's paralyzing fear and paranoia.

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