Not to be confused with Mary Sue, a Peggy Sue fic gives a character, usually at the end of a story or series, the chance to go back and relive her/his life with the knowledge he gained from living through his story the first time. This sometimes uses a Death Fic-type setup as a starting point, where one of the things the character intends to do with his knowledge is prevent the death of a loved one -- or themselves.
It can turn out that they're perpetuating a time loop. Or, less commonly, breaking it.
In some hands, this can turn into a Fix Fic, with the character going back in time to prevent some canon event that the author doesnt like (such as the death of a beloved character).
While this might seem as a recipe for an overly powerful character, the Peggy Sue is not without its risks. Often the only way they made it through the first time was because of fate or luck giving them Plot Armor, a luxury that they will be unlikely to have a second time around, though they can try for Tricked Out Time. They may also have to deal with a weaker and less experienced body, mental baggage, gaps in their knowledge regarding past events, negative reactions by anyone who realizes that they know things they shouldn't, or worst of all, that another, less friendly, individual has also pulled the same stunt. And of course, the primary problem with such a scenario: as the character changes things, the new timeline becomes more and more different from the one he or she left behind... and thus he or she is less and less able to predict what's going to happen next.
The trope name comes from the 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married starring Kathleen Turner and Nicolas Cage, in which Turner's character is able to relive her high school days. (Of course, the film title, itself, is a Buddy Holly reference.)
Noting the above, it needs to be reiterated: this is not a sister trope to Mary Sue, despite the name (and yes, the Sue index causes some confusion here, we know). In the hands of a poor writer, the character can gain Mary Sue-like traits (knowing exactly how everything will happen and thus managing to get a "perfect" result from every scenario, etc) but generally, the two do not intersect — if anything the experience is often unpleasant for the character in question. The original Peggy Sue was disoriented and frightened by her experience, for example.
Compare "Groundhog Day" Loop, in which the Mental Time Travel is a repeating short-term loop; for loops which repeat but which are nevertheless on the same scale as a Peggy Sue, see Groundhog Peggy Sue. The video game equivalents are Save Scumming, where the player intentionally loads an earlier save after having gained the knowledge of what is going to happen in the future, and New Game+, where the player's character itself retains stats and equipment from a previous playthrough. For characters unexpectedly facing a literal New Game+, see Sudden Game Interface. For fanfiction, this trope can follow The Stations of the Canon.
Compare and contrast Yet Another Christmas Carol, "Freaky Friday" Flip, Overnight Age-Up. May resolve as a Close-Enough Timeline. Also, see All Just a Dream, for which this trope is often played as a resolution. For leaps to and visions of the future, see Futureshadowing.
Warning: Possible spoilers
- In Konpeki No Kantai, when Isoroku Yamamoto's plane is shot down in 1943 he wakes up in 1905 in on the cruiser Nisshin just after the Battle of Tsushima and he uses his knowledge to prevent Japan making the mistakes it made.
- In Shin Mazinger Zero, Kouji Kabuto finds himself being thrown back in time over and again by Minerva-X to prevent the End of the World as We Know It. Unfortunately, he loses nearly all his memories during the time-travel -including he being a time-traveler-, so he has failed several thousands of times. Minerva seriously wonders how many more times he can stand before his sanity or his body break down.
- A Distant Neighborhood is about a middle-aged Salaryman who finds himself sent back in time into his 14-year-old self. Hiroshi, much like the Trope Namer, returns to his older body with a new book dedicated to him by someone he heavily interacted with him in the past waiting for him at home.
- The Dragon Ball spin-off Dragon Ball: That Time I Got Reincarnated as Yamcha combines this with an unintentional Self-Insert Fic. An Ordinary High-School Student from the real world falls down a set of stairs and wakes up in the body of Yamcha. At first he's excited at the prospect of dating Bulma, but when he remembers Yamcha's ignoble death during Dragon Ball Z, he resolves to train and use his knowledge of Dragon Ball canon to do things better than the original Yamchanote . He does well enough, but by the time Cell shows up he realizes that he won't be able to keep up any longer. In the end, the whole thing turns out to be a "reincarnation game" being played by Beerus and Champa (the latter who had another average guy reincarnated as Chiaotzu).
- Persona 4 Golden: The Animation treats itself as a New Game+ of the original Persona 4 anime. The first episode milks the hell out of this, with Yu reacting (or underreacting) to events leading up to the TV world in ways not possible in the game. He has all social stats maxed out, is more outgoing with his new friends, actively seeks out his Persona awakening, and annihilates hundreds of Shadows, along with everything within 500 feet of himself, upon regaining Izanagi. Of course, as Golden is an Updated Re-release, Yu ends up being caught off-guard by the existence of things that weren't present in the original game, such as Marie.
- The light novel I Am My Wife combines this with Gender Bender - the hero travels back in time to his school-days and turns into as a girl (his former self still exists, however).
- The Hentai OVA Gaki ni Modotte Yarinoshi!!! is about a man who had his life wasted by all the women who bullied him in high school, including his stepsister, all of them recently married. Then one day he awakened as a kid in his old life with all his adult memories (and his member) untouched, so he decided to Set Right What Once Went Wrong by standing up against her stepsister and all the girls made his life miserable, including his stepmother who always treated him as a child even when he was adult.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Homura's wish was to go back in time and be the one to protect Madoka as a Magical Girl herself. Once she finds out the truth behind Magical Girls, her goal then becomes to prevent her from becoming one, and she re-lives the same loop countless times before realizing that doing so only puts another nail in Madoka's coffin each time.
- In one strip of Nodwick, Nodwick touches a strange artifact in a dungeon our heroes are exploring. After a bright flash of light Nodwick is now drastically altered in appearance now sporting combat scars, a hook for a hand and much more. He explains that after this event the party ends up battling against an apocalypse cult and that they repeatedly fail to stop said cult. The artifact he just touched is a sort of "save point" that brings him back to this exact moment every time they fail, and that he's repeated this quest so many times that he is now a high level fighter/mage/cleric even better at adventuring then his employers. Yeagar doesn't like the idea of Nodwick being better at their jobs than they are and Artax assures him that they'll erase Nodwick's memories as soon as they defeat the cult.
- The trope namer, of course, though Peggy Sue Got Married is actually a subversion of the usual Set Right What Once Went Wrong aspects of the trope as Peggy Sue quickly realizes that she still doesn't have all of the answers and settles for adding some experiences she wished she'd had the first time around.
- Galaxy Quest gives us the Mental Time Travel Applied Phlebotinum Omega 13 for an alleged thirteen seconds.
- Lola Rennt has elements of this: the first time she runs through the day, she can't use a gun and doesn't know where the safety catch is. The second time, she flicks it off with practiced precision. Oddly for this sort of plot, it may extend to other characters. The security guard at the bank seems aware of the loop by the third iteration. Which possibly makes sense if you consider the theory that he is the biological father of Lola, who is described as a "cuckoo's egg" (i.e., either adopted or the result of infidelity) earlier in the movie.
- In Stargate Continuum, Ba'al uses time travel to go back seventy years and make a huge number of changes, resulting in him becoming the leader of all the Goa'uld, with almost the entire galaxy enslaved, reinforcing his status as the most clever villain in the show. He subverts the Mental Time Travel aspect because he hasn't physically aged in that time and is thus able to kill and replace his younger self.
- The Butterfly Effect is a variation on the trope, which also deconstructs the hell out of the concept. Also suffers from serious Fridge Logic, due to the main character's Genre Blindness.
- Next is a film where a character effectively has this (or perhaps something more like Save Scumming) due to possessing pre-cognition as a power. The ending though, is probably the film's best example of this trope.
- Biff has a pretty successful (albeit short-lived) run at this, through Physical Time Travel, by seeking out his younger self in Back to the Future Part II.
- The "history repeats itself" motif of this allows Marty to take advantage of it at the end of Back to the Future Part III. Having got into confrontations with Biff Tannen in 1955, his grandson Griff in 2015 and Biff's ancestor Buford in 1885, Marty is able to resist the urge to prove he's not a chicken when confronted back in 1985... and his future will consequently be different from the one Jennifer saw when she was in 2015 in Back to the Future Part II.
- The movie Deuxieme vie◊ ("Second Life") is a inverted example of going forward instead of backward. In 1982, the 32-year-old ecologist Vincent Degan has a car accident on the soccer world cup night (after a France defeat). After the impact, he's suddenly on the world cup night of 1998 with everybody yelling "We won." And he's a 48-year-old heartless businessman. His fiancee from 1982 has left him, and his 1998 lover appears to be more interested in Vincent's best friend, Ronny. The end plays the trope straight: a second accident brings Vincent back to 1982, where he uses what he learned in the future to marry his true love, and to convince Ronny that the "airbag" he just manufactured is not so silly an idea.
- Scott does this in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World after Gideon kills him but it turns out Scott has an extra life. In the original comic, Scott just came back to life, but in the movie, he essentially started over at the beginning of the last level so he could use his prior knowledge of what happens in order to be generally awesome.
- The pornographic film The Devil In Miss Jones. The Devil allows Mrs. Jones to go back and live life as a slut, no repercussions since she's dead already. She ends up in Purgatory, always on the verge of, but never able to, come.
- The film If Only has the main character being sent back to yesterday to try and save his girlfriend from being killed in a car accident.
- Tim does this deliberately and repeatedly to avoid embarrassment in About Time.
- Logan gets sent back to the 1970's this way in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Curiously, it is not his own life he needs to fix, but Xavier's; Logan is sent because the strain of being sent back so far would kill anyone who doesn't have a Healing Factor.
- The Last Sharknado: It's About Time is about Fin Shepard travelling through time to stop the sharknadoes from devastating the world and save his friends and loved ones from their fates.
- When Captain America returns the Infinity Stones to the past at the end of Avengers: Endgame, he uses the opportunity to go back to 1948 in an Alternate Timeline and reconnect with his old love, Peggy Carter, as his freezing in the Arctic following his Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger separated them for over 66 years.
- The epilogue of Stephen King's The Dark Tower Series, although it is not clear exactly how much of his knowledge he can take with him in this do-over. At the very least, he has made some spiritual progress in each iteration.
- The entirety of the novel Night Watch could be considered to fall under this trope.
- Although Night Watch slightly differs from most examples of the trope in that Vimes takes the place of his own mentor 30 years in the past (before returning to the present), rather than reliving his own life, and that he's more or less trying to make things happen the same way he remembers (though he's happy to try to "fix" things that he didn't personally experience).
- In Going Postal the Patrician tells Moist a parable about how occasionally, when someone has truly screwed their life up beyond repair, an Angel will appear to them and offer to take them back to the point where it all went wrong so they can try one more time. At that point this is just Vetinari trying to make a point in his usual fashion, but then at the end of the book Moist once again finds himself at a metaphorical fork in the road, and... (Around the middle of the book Moist also winds up using it as a rhetorical device to convince someone to do what he wants, or at least confuse them sufficiently to keep listening.)
- Thief of Time showed Lu-Tze using this as a trick picked up from the Yeti, who had evolved the ability to save up their lives and try again if something goes wrong.
- The entirety of the novel Night Watch could be considered to fall under this trope.
- In the Void Trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton, the Void itself gives people the power to do this, at the cost of consuming the rest of the galaxy to provide the necessary energy.
- Fred Saberhagen's After the Fact has the main character taught to use his natural talent for this in a plan to secretly rescue Abraham Lincoln from his assassination. It comes in handy that, any time things go wrong, he can reset to a few minutes back and try again. The scene where he accidentally prevents the killing altogether becomes a CMOA for the president, who with a moment's warning singlehandedly clobbers John Wilkes Booth. Unfortunately, that has to be reset, too, since the idea is to rescue Lincoln while still having him appear to be assassinated.
- There is one jump of many years that leaves him effectively trapped physically in the past, decades before he was born. Once there, he can short range Mental Time Travel at will.
- Ted Dekker's Green, though its the last book in the The Circle Series, implies that the previous three books (the wildly popular Circle Trilogy: Black, Red, and White) are a Peggy Sue attachment to Green. The implication is that the main character, unhappy with his sons betrayal and death at the end of Green, is given the chance to do it over, which results in the events of Black, Red, and White. When interpreted with some choice bits from the beginning of Black, the reader must infer that hes in a time loop (and thus seemingly doomed to failure one way or another). A lot of readers were so incredibly upset at this ending to the series (because though the main character has a chance to redeem his son, hes condemning thousands of others, including his wife and father-in-law, back to the same torment) that Dekker wrote an alternate endingwhich, while less outright depressing, comes across as somewhat anticlimactic by comparison.
- The ending of Hero in the Shadows (Drenai / Waylander sub-series) by David Gemmell. Shortly before dying Waylander goes back two decades before the first novel to prevent robbers from murdering his family. Which turned an ordinary military officer into an unstoppable Anti-Hero assassin in the first place.
- Subverted in Kurt Vonnegut's Timequake, in which the population of the Earth is suddenly thrown ten years into the past, with full knowledge of what would happen over that decade... But without any free will: People find that they have no choice but to replay past events exactly as they happened the first time around, with the full knowledge of each disastrous mistake they are committing.
- In the short story "Time and Time Again" by H. Beam Piper, Allan Hartley, a 43-year-old captain attached to the Scientific Warfare division of the General Staff, is critically injured as a result of an explosion in the Battle of Buffalo during World War III in 1975. After being given a narcotic injection, he becomes "lost in a great darkness" and suddenly finds himself in his 13-year-old body in Williamsport, Pennsylvania on August 5, 1945, the day before the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Using his knowledge of the next 30 years, Allan plans to alter history and prevent the war from ever happening. Allan speculates that the mental transfer may have been caused by the bomb blast that injured him, the narcotic injection that he was given, something unforeseen in 1945 or a combination of all three.
- Being Erica: it's the entire premise of the show.
- Fringe: In "White Tulip," a scientist goes back in time to save his dead fiancee from a car accident. After Walter tells the man of the consequences of his own tampering, the scientist goes back in time to tell his fiancee that he loves her before dying with her.
- There was a Canadian show in the early-to-mid-'00's called Twice in a Lifetime, about flawed people who'd messed up their lives and died miserably being given a "reprieve" by a heavenly judge and who were sent back to Earth along with a spiritual guide to the most pivotal time in their lives, with three days to change the course of events for the better. They went back with their contemporary bodies, though (like the Discworld example above), and spoke to their own past selves often.
- The last season of Felicity. Or was it All Just a Dream? (More importantly, who cares?)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- In "Tapestry", Picard is about to die due to events that happened in his past, and Q sends him back in time to relive his Academy days. Picard reacts to the situation which led to his death in a manner that negates his later death. Changing his past however leads to a change in his personality, and Picard decides that he liked his life better the way it was before, even if he was about to die. Q, having made his point, brings Picard back to the present and saves his life. Unless it was All Just a Dream.
- "Cause and Effect" involved the characters realizing they were trapped in a time loop that always concluded with the destruction of the Enterprise, and Data managing to cause a Peggy Sue by sending a message into the next iteration of the loop enabling them to escape.
- Quantum Leap:
- While Sam normally leapt back to fix other people's lives, he got to do this for his teenage self in "The Leap Home, Part 1". As the family problems he chooses to tackle aren't the things Al says he's supposed to change, his success isn't assured.
- In the second episode of the two-parter, he manages to save his brother, who was supposed to die in Vietnam. Unfortunately, this happens at the cost of leaving young Al in a POW camp instead of changing the timeline to rescue him. Al doesn't warn him or try to change his mind and Sam doesn't realize he might have saved his friend instead until it's too late.
- Subverted in Eureka — after Carter receives his future self's memories to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, he intends to use his knowledge to reach his perfectly happy future with the girl he loves. But when little details turn out wrong and puts things off-track, he realizes he cannot rely on those "memories". He eventually has them wiped from his mind to prevent the inevitable anguish.
- Cruelly subverted in Kamen Rider Ryuki. Halfway through the show, the Big Bad presses a Reset Button, which sends our hero back to the chronological start of the series. However, he is unable to make any lasting significant changes and said big bad has done this enough times to ensure a consistent loop that will reset until he wins.
- The Twilight Zone (1959):
- The episode "Of Late I Think Of Cliffordville" has a business tycoon making a deal with Satan in order to relive his life again so he can use his knowledge of the future to build a bigger business empire than the one he has. Not surprisingly, it doesn't end well for him.
- The episode "Static" ends with a bitter, regret-filled old man living in a retirement home suddenly — and to his delight — back as his younger self in the 1940s with the implication that he knows what to change in his life to make it better.
- The McReary Timereary spell in Wizards of Waverly Place creates a shorter term version of the trope, allowing the user to redo the last few seconds.
- The TV Series Do Over had this as its main conceit. It ends with Joel Larson making a better past, but still on The Slow Path to the future.
- The Fear Itself episode "The Circle" had the beginning of a loop as its twist ending.
- In its sixth season, Lost portrayed flash-sideways of the main characters in a parallel universe, but in contrast to the emotional cripples they started out as in the prime timeline, all of them possess five seasons worth of character development, which allows them to come to terms with their severe psychological baggage. It turns out it's an archetypal afterlife, crossing Christian purgatory with Vedic reincarnation, and this emotional maturity is what allows them to "move on".
- The 2015 series Hindsight had this as the whole premise of the show. The main character, Becca, travels back in time and uses this opportunity to correct what she sees as personal and professional mistakes.
- The Outer Limits (1995): In "Joyride", the aliens return the former NASA astronaut Theodore Harris to September 16, 1963, giving him the opportunity to relive the last 38 years of his life and avoid becoming a discredited laughing stock due to his claims of an encounter with aliens during his first trip into space.
- In Peanuts, Linus asks Charlie Brown what he would do if he got to live his life over again. Charlie Brown's reaction is to scream in terror. Granted, Charlie was told in this hypothetical situation, he would live it the same way he did the first time.
- The song "I Know Now" from Snoopy!!! The Musical features Lucy, Sally and Peppermint Patty singing about how much better their lives would be if they had grown up already knowing the things that they'd learned throughout childhood.
"Just think of it, gee, how great it would be / If I can go back somehow / And have my life to live over / Knowing what I know now."
- Muv-Luv Unlimited ends with humanity abandoning Earth to the invading aliens. Its sequel, Muv-Luv Alternative, starts with the main character back at the beginning of the original's plot, with all of his memories and physical training intact, determined to prevent the aliens from winning this time around.
- In Higurashi: When They Cry the world is repeatedly reset to a time before the Cotton Drifting festival. Though only Rika remembers what happened in each world.
- Similarly, in Umineko: When They Cry, the story is always reset to October 4th, 1986. Although in the end, the entire series turns out to be the main character theorizing about what happened during that time on Rokkenjima.
- This is the essential premise of the Zero Escape series.
- In Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Junpei is able to use his experiences in alternate timelines in order to connect the dots and figure out the key to the safe, which in turn provides him with the required combination to free Snake from the coffin.
- Virtue's Last Reward plays it straight, sending Sigma and Phi's consciousnesses to various points in various timelines to provide them with key information, such as the deactivation codes for the bombs.
- Most video games in general. You die, but you keep coming back armed with the knowledge you gained last time. You know all the traps and the surprise attacks, you know what strategy you should choose.
- This is also the principle behind Save Scumming.
- This is played with Undertale, as every time the fallen child dies, they are revived at the last save point thanks to determination, and the game notices this in many ways (Particularly, if you, by any chance, kill Toriel by accident and then reload to spare her, Flowey will call you on this). However, this is painfully deconstructed in the Kill Them All route, where the game will not allow you to go back and regret what you have done, because "you think you are above consequences".
- Final Fight One for Game Boy Advance. It's possible to unlock Alpha Guy and Alpha Cody (i.e. Guy and Cody as they appear in the Street Fighter Alpha series) as secret characters in the game, and when playing as them, their dialog shows that the whole experience is a Peggy Sue moment for them, though there isn't really a whole lot to change.
- The good ending of Shadow Hearts: Covenant appears to provide Yuri with a Peggy Sue, placing him back at the beginning of the first game with, presumably, a chance to achieve that game's good ending instead of its canon bad ending.
- This is pretty much the point of the interactive fiction game Tapestry. A man who made some regrettable choices in his life gets to relive the three points where he felt he went most wrong. The three paths available in the game each take a different approach to the Peggy Sue — he can do it the same and live with his guilt, change what happened, or do it the same but try to understand what happened better. There's no correct ending. If he changes what he does, he feels better about his life, but the new choices cause just as much harm. If he reevaluates his life, he sees that his original decisions weren't as horrible as he believed them to be. Choosing guilt and self-hatred does seem to be the one bad ending, however.
- Actually, there's a subtle implication that trying to change your past choices is a wrong path as well. Aside from the fact that the new choices cause harm in a different way, the figure who leads you down this path is called Morningstar... which is one of the Devil's names. In fact, there's an Easter Egg in the prologue if you address him as Lucifer.
- Astro Boy: Omega Factor has this, combining the trope with New Game+. After what looks like a massive, massive Downer Ending in which the world is nearly ruined and Astro dies. The Phoenix revives Astro sending him back to the start of the game. You then need to play through the stages again, Time Travel all around, in order to find the cause of the tragedies and fix everything. In a Running Gag, Astro makes no attempt to hide his knowledge of the future and thoroughly confuses everyone he meets by knowing what they're going to say before they say it.
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time allows the player to do this constantly, with a special dagger that can turn back time. Only for a few seconds mind you, but it allows the player to correct mistakes they made during the combat and free running sequences. The very end of the game is a straight example, with the twist that this unleashes the Dahaka.
- While still keeping the mechanic from the previous game, Prince of Persia: Warrior Within has the Sandwraith mask: put it on and you're sent back an undisclosed amount of time to fix a mistake you made in the past. The Prince uses it to undue killing Kailena and inadvertently releasing the sands of time.
- As noted above, any New Game+ is rather like a Peggy Sue story. You get to start your adventure over, but with all the equipment and skills you've gained along the way. This usually makes a huge difference at first and then less and less as the game goes on.
- Similar to the Astro Boy: Omega Factor example, Disgaea and its New Game+ system plays out like this, although with no meta elements: The normal ending, which you will end up getting your first time through, has an incredible Downer Ending — Laharl confronts the head of the angels, he kills Flonne, and Laharl murders him in a rage. Then it's revealed it was all a failed Batman Gambit to teach Laharl the power of love, if the Angel leader was still alive he could revive Flonne, and that he was supposed to forgive the angels. Laharl kills himself in grief, and you get the "Start a New Game" menu choice. Of course, this time you're high enough level to beat the last boss, yet alone all the hard boss fights on the way, as well as make sure you achieve the canon ending — by not accidentally killing anyone in your party. Of course, since this is Disgaea, later sequels have cameos from both endings ( In other words, Prinny Laharl and Normal Laharl) in them.
- Not if you did it for that Infinity +1 Sword that you need to powerup to absurd levels. A lot of players only play up until they beat the game and once new game plus kicks in, they use that instead of continuing into Nintendo Hard territory so that they have more toys to make that Nintendo Hard into something much more passable. That and you can now pick and choose your characters more freely because you know what triggers who and who is actually good at fighting.
- Also note that if you manage to get BOTH the conditions for the bad/worst endings AND the good ending, you get the good ending.
- Being a Time Travel game, it's not surprising this shows up in Shadow of Destiny as the New Game+ Good Ending. What is surprising is it results in invariably in getting erased from existence! And these are the best endings! On a more positive note, thanks to Identical Grandson, the lead character may have lived on in a way.
- At the end of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Link is sent back in time to his childhood so he can live out the seven years he lost while he was in his magic coma. Using his knowledge of the future, Link warns Zelda of Ganondorf's plans which prevents Ganondorf's rise to power. Also works as a Peggy Sue inverted as a Flash Forward considering he'd always spent the intervening years asleep...
- This is the entire premise behind The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Link arrives in an alternate world where the Moon is three days from crashing into the Earth. Every time the timer runs out, Link gets to go back in time to when he first arrived, and get going again, with the full memory of everything that happened last time.
- In GrimGrimoire, this is part of the premise of the game, in that the protagonist is reliving the same five-day sequence repeatedly to avoid dying. It turns out that she's actually been doing this for well over a century, and having her memory wiped (by another version of herself outside the loop but unable to 'escape' until she survives inside the time loop) every twenty-five days, except for the magical knowledge and grimoires she's acquired. By the time it's all resolved, Lillet is arguably the most powerful person alive and incredibly wily, not to mention being one of the few people who've sold their sold to a devil and still have possession of it.
- Sort of played with in Mortal Kombat 9. The game starts off at the climatic battle of the previous game, Armageddon, which is revealed to have killed off pretty much the entire cast. Shao Kahn has attained ultimate power, and Raiden, having been defeated, sends visions of the events of the entire series to his Mortal Kombat-era self. Things go horribly awry, because past Raiden's acting on incomplete information leads to the deaths of the vast majority of the heroes; leaving it an open question as to what will happen when the next Big Bad, Shinnok, attempts to conquer the realms.
- Should be noted that many of the events should not have been affected by what Raiden did, most notably Quan Chi being present so early in the story. This, along with the ending, has led to the theory that Shinnok also sent a message back in time, one more complete and leaving him with a better hand for the new version of Mortal Kombat 4.
- Mortal Kombat 11 reveals that the entire universe of Mortal Kombat has been playing by these rules thanks to Kronika, the time Titan, who has been trying to create a universe in flawless balance between good and evil but is constantly undone by Raiden and Liu Kang. So she manipulates events to set them against each other while she tries to bend time to her will and have history play out as she wants, using timeline resets to learn what does and doesn't work. The events of the game happen at a time where she has finally figured out the right way to pull it off and is about to if not for Liu Kang merging with Raiden's godly power and finally putting an end to her once and for all.
- Happens at the beginning of Radiant Historia, where you go back in time to save your companions Marco and Raynie, and the messenger you were escorting as well.
- The tomb of Ludo Kressh in the second Knights of the Old Republic gives Jedi Exile visions of past events, but the shades openly lampshade the concept — knowing what you do now, would you make the same choices? Can you live with the choices you made in the first place? The Light Side option is usually to say you regret them, which may be a Broken Aesop.
- Pretty much the entire point of Ghost Trick. Sissel uses his powers to manipulate objects and turn back time to rescue people before they die, thus changing the present as the characters know it. This all eventually leads up to the final puzzle where the heroes go back in time ten years to prevent the game's Big Bad from dying and ending up in the state that led to his FaceHeel Turn.
- This happens to the protagonist in Shira Oka: Second Chances so he won't screw up his life. Then he finds himself in a loop lasting months to years.
- Invoked in The Adventures of Willy Beamish, in the phrasing of its tagline: "What if you were 9 again, knowing what you know now?"
- In Bastion this is strongly hinted to be how the Kid experiences a New Game Plus+ after having chosen the Restoration ending. When playing New Game Plus+, there are a load of subtle changes in Rucks' narration that indicate him getting a feeling of déjà vu from several game events.
- Dragon Quest VI starts off with The Hero being defeated easily by Murdaw...and then waking up from their dream. Except that is exactly what happened to the Hero and his party (their real world counterparts, that is), and the main objective of the game becomes acquiring the item that will keep Murdaw from doing that to you again. (Incidentally, there is a horse named Peggy Sue, but that's something different.)
- The entire point of Enter the Gungeon has you shooting through the Gungeon with a small cast of Playable Characters with an incredibly large plethora of guns to acquire The Gun That Can Kill The Past, and have your selected character Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
- In Wapsi Square, Jin has already gone through the entire plot and failed thousands of times.
- Sluggy Freelance: In the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban parody "Torg Potter and the President from Arkansas", the Time Turner from the original is tweaked so that it rewinds the users in time, leaving them but no-one else with memories of what happened next. Instead of going back a few hours as the Hermione analogue intends, Torg uses it to return all the way to the beginning of the story, stomps on the bad guy in his animal form, and goes home, neatly avoiding any possible loose ends and negating the need for him to be involved in the affairs of that annoying school.
- Homestuck: Four months after John's death due to facing a ridiculously strong monster at low levels, Dave travels back in time, bringing ridiculously powerful weaponry and useful information for the past characters; this is the purpose of Heroes of Time in general, as a form of Trial-and-Error Gameplay. Also, in a sense this is the purpose of the Scratch, albeit at a much, much larger and unpredictable scale.
- Dave's stunt does not go unpunished, however, as he spends the rest of his life defending his premature self, almost not being brought along on the three-year journey to the Alpha session, and then presumably dying in the aftermath of [S] Game Over
- In the Girl Genius supplemental Othar's Twitter, Othar retires from Heroing and lives for thirty-six years on a deserted island with his wife. Upon her death, he goes back to the mainland and finds that human civilization has been destroyed. Tarvek, the last known human alive, sends his consciousness back to before he retired to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. How canon this is is so far unknown, but there has been nothing in the comic that contradicts it.
- Othar's Twitter is, in fact, considered canon.
- Much like the aforementioned Void Trilogy, in Narbonic, it's possible to send yourself back in time — but it would require all the energy in the universe. Mell only uses it to send a message back, but... Later, when Dave and Helen's daughter uses it, she explains that now they just siphon the energy from other universes where they probably don't want to exist as much.
President Mell Kelly: With the push of a button, I will destroy the universe. Yes, it's been a lifelong dream of mine.
- This is a staple of several series from Tappytoons, a Korean Webtoons publisher. "Doctor Elise" and "The Abandoned Empress" are two of the most popular examples. Another good one is "Lady Baby".
- Neurotically Yours used this trope to give the series a fresh start. This includes updated animation, a new setting, and a way to help Germaine from becoming a fat whore.
- A story arc in the third season of Red vs. Blue has Church travelling physically back in time, and attempting to undo all the damage caused in the first two seasons. He winds up being the cause of all of it.
- While the above was later retconned as just a simulation, the seventeenth season features a straight case: everyone but Donut and Washington is trapped in the past, reliving their memories in a loop, for having caused a Reality-Breaking Paradox. The two then manage to use Mental Time Travel to visit their friends and both free them and use the knowledge to fix all that went wrong.
- This was the ending to Mighty Max. The finale reveals that the events of the entire series are part of a time loop, and the episode ends with Max waking up in bed the day the adventure began... only this time, he has all the knowledge of the previous loop, and is determined to finish the Big Bad for good. Especially since, during said finale, he screwed up royally...
- In the episode of The Batman titled "Seconds", Francis Grey discovered he had a brief version of this power, which he would use to better commit crimes, win fights, and improve his one-liners. At the end of the episode, he overloads this power, and has the chance to go back and not become a criminal at all, which he takes.
- Cinderella III: A Twist in Time contains a rare evil example. Lady Tremaine, the evil stepmother, steals the Fairy Godmother's magic wand and uses it to undo the last year of Cinderella's life.
- Almost every episode of Code Lyoko ends this way. At least until they find out that pushing the reset button makes the Big Bad a little more powerful every time they do it.
- Played with in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic season finale The Cutie Remark where Twilight Sparkle and Starlight Glimmer are both Peggy Sues who keep fighting the same battle over and over again and thus locking them in a stalemate until Twilight Sparkle Takes A Third Option and tries talking Starlight out of being evil instead.