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Post-Adventure Adventure

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A lot of stories make use of Anachronic Order and Back to Front, to play with the order of events the audience experiences. Similarly, a lot of sequels and books set in an existing setting tap into established lore to tell a richer story without getting bogged down by exposition.

This trope takes aspects from both; an adventure of some sort happened, whether it was an epic quest, a frantic struggle for survival, or just a year or two working retail... and the audience will never see it first hand (except maybe as a Prequel some day — but even then, that's not the intention when the work first comes out). This is about stories set in the aftermath of another story that will remain a string of Noodle Incidents and backstories for the casts while framing the narrative. It could have set the main conflict in motion (perhaps the Big Bad was originally a Greater-Scope Villain or Dragon Ascendant, whose plans are now coming to fruition, or The Rival has now become a major threat), or at least failed to prevent it. It could be an untold backstory for the characters, (an origin story for an Experienced Protagonist who's still trying to process how they got to this point, or the reason Everyone Is Related). It could even just be about the cleanup and rebuilding that follows something more action-packed.

Note that this is distinct from Hero of Another Story, which is about a specific character having their own adventures offscreen. However, the two can overlap if they took place before the current story and tie into the plot of the one the audience sees. It can overlap with Peggy Sue, where the hero gets a chance for a do-over of all of their previous adventures in hoping to Set Right What Once Went Wrong (if the full adventure is never revealed to the audience). It should also not be confused with Batman Cold Open, which shows an adventure that doesn't have an impact on the main plot (and mostly serves to provide some quick action, instead of backstory).

Super-Trope to Late to the Tragedy, where the previous "adventure" was everything going to hell before the protagonist showed up. Contrast The Story That Never Was and The Greatest Story Never Told (where a story that the audience sees has its impact on future plots blunted), and In Medias Res and How We Got Here (which also start the audience at a later point, but snap back to the earlier narrative). Often involves an Offscreen Moment of Awesome.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • As its title implies, Frieren: Beyond Journey's End takes place after a group of heroes overcame many perils and eventually vanquished the Demon Lord and a few of their most powerful generals. Frieren, the long-lived elven mage of the group, continues wandering the world in search of Heaven decades later. She is later joined by the apprentices of some of her former companions, and together they help resolve lingering conflicts from her previous adventures.
  • In The Hero Who Returned Remains the Strongest in the Modern World, Morishita begins the story as a Stock Light-Novel Hero Trapped in Another World who returns home after defeating the Big Bad, eager to enjoy the comforts of his old life and regaining his youth as an Ordinary High-School Student. To his surprise, he retains all of his Combo Platter Powers as the hero of the other world, which he intends to use to live a comfortable, stress-free life, only to find that home isn't quite as ordinary as he thought it was.
  • One-Punch Man: Saitama was written with the intention of being the stereotypical overpowered shonen protagonist after the end of their story. He's already gone through the hero's journey that earned him that strength, so now he just lives his life while hoping to find someone who won't explode into Ludicrous Gibs with just one punch.
  • In The Red Ranger Becomes an Adventurer in Another World, the story begins In Medias Res as the titular Kizuna Red defeats the Big Bad threatening his world at the cost of his own life. To Red's surprise, he emerges unharmed in a fantasy world rather than the afterlife, spending six months doing odd jobs as an adventurer to gain his bearings before being hired by Idola Avorn. The reader gradually gets more context about his previous adventures from his own exposition and flashbacks.
  • In Tsuyokute New Saga, the story opens with The Hero, Kail, successfully defeating the Demon Lord as part of a last-ditch suicide mission to save humanity. But this comes at an enormous cost, as Kail loses all of his closest friends and his lover while the war with demons has left the world outside a barren wasteland. But after touching a magical artifact the Demon Lord was attempting to hide from the heroes, Kail finds himself transported into the body of his younger self before the war began. The reader only gets glimpses of Kail's previous adventures in his old life that inform his actions in the present as he tries to change history for the better.

    Comic Books 
  • In one Transformers comic, Orion Pax, the police captain of the city of Rodion, appears out of nowhere and tackles a fleeing criminal to the surprise of the protagonists. He offhandedly implies that he'd just taken care of a completely different set of criminals, noticed the commotion, and decided to come help out.
  • The first appearance of Green Arrow and Speedy in More Fun Comics #73 sees them just finishing up another adventure before the story begins.
    Oliver: Happy vacation days ahead, eh, Roy?
    Roy: And boy, can we use one! The Case of the Golden Mummy sure had us busy!
  • DIE begins with a group of teenage friends being sucked into an RPG one of them created and then returning to Earth two years later, heavily traumatized and the game inventor not with them, with all of them unable to talk about what happened. The main plot of the story then picks up 25 years later, with the now-adult friends being sucked back into the game for a new quest. Over the course of the series, we get various flashbacks and discussions about the events of the first quest, but much of what happened over those two years is left to the imagination.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Escape from L.A., numerous passing references are made to an unseen adventure Snake Plissken had in Cleveland that took place sometime before the events of this film but after the movie's predecessor, Escape from New York. It is in this adventure he met Hershe Las Palmas (albeit before she transitioned).
  • First Blood: Before the events of the story, where John Rambo is a poor drifter who runs afoul of a small-town sheriff (in Kentucky in the novel, Washington State in the film), Rambo was a part of an elite Green Beret unit during the Vietnam War, had a friend die in his arms, became a captured POW, escaped captivity with a surviving squadmate, and had received the Medal of Honor for actions above and beyond the call of duty. An extreme case of PTSD, developed from these experiences, is what triggers Rambo's escalating conflict with the local police.
  • The two main protagonists in The Hidden Fortress had, before the events of the film, tried to join the military only to be mistaken for the enemy and put to work digging graves for them, and then escaped from their captivity.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom opens with the title adventurer meeting with a man in a Shanghai nightclub. It turns out that he's just come back from a quest to find the remains of the first emperor of the Manchu Dynasty and the man he's meeting with hired him to find them. The man then betrays Indiana and the resulting altercation sends him to a village in India where he's asked to help with their problem.
  • Z-O-M-B-I-E-S (2018): In the story introduction, it shows radioactive soda spilling in a factory and mutating humans - in a superhero comic art style. This "adventure" is not covered in the main story.

  • The Bone Maker is set 25 years after the five legendary Heroes of Vos killed the Sorcerous Overlord Eklor. The protagonist, their former leader, has to do a Retired Badass Roundup when she catches wind that Eklor came Back from the Dead.
  • The backstory of Mistborn: The Original Trilogy was started by the Hero of Ages destroying an evil entity called The Deepness (at great cost to the world). Unfortunately, his Standard Hero Reward got to his head and he became a tyrant, setting the scene for the story of the rebels looking to overthrow him.
  • The first book of the Dragonlance series, Dragons of Autumn Twilight, opens with Tanis and his friends reuniting after years apart. Their previous adventures together are discussed, but not really recounted in a lot of detail.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes stories, Dr. Watson does this a lot. Many of the stories include references to other cases Holmes solved previously that never actually appear in the canon; such references serve either as this or as a Noodle Incident. (Many of these have since been taken up by pastiche authors.) Holmes himself will also allude to such cases from time to time, such as in this remark he makes in "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire":
    "Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman, Watson... It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared."

    Live-Action Television 
  • The Brittas Empire begins when the titular character is Kicked Upstairs from his previous job at Aldershot Leisure Centre. What little we do hear of it suggests that his time there was just as hectic (and also his fault) as with Whitbury (for one thing, it apparently ended with Brittas having to dig up people from some rubble and getting a medal for bravery) but we never see any of it.
  • Doctor Who:
    • When we first meet him, the Doctor has fled his people, spent enough time exploring Earth history to decide the French Revolution is one of his favourite periods, and then more or less settled in the early sixties so his granddaughter can go to school.
    • In "The Face of Evil", the Doctor arrives at a planet he had visited several years prior, and which had turned into a fascistic hell hole in the meanwhile (and fondly remembered his role in making it that way... by making him their Satanic figure). As the serial goes on, this becomes a Resolved Noodle Incident (the Doctor, thinking he had an unquestionably brilliant solution, reprogrammed a Master Computer with an upload of his mind but only made it more crazy instead), which makes the Doctor more driven to solve the problem.
    • The revival of Doctor Who starts with the Doctor having just come off the aftermath of the Time War, and dealing with the result of that.
    • Several new series episodes open with the Doctor and companions arriving back at the TARDIS after a previous adventure, and discussing the Noodle Incidents that arose.
  • Leverage: The episode "The Cross My Heart Job" takes place at an airport. The team had just returned home from a foreign job and stumbled onto a kidnapping in progress.

  • Friends at the Table: Played with in COUNTER/weight. The setting was specifically written to take place in the aftermath of a Real Robot Genre show, in which an Ace Pilot at the head of a coalition of nations performed a Heroic Sacrifice to defeat The Empire, which somehow also put a new planet in the sky as a symbol of peace. The political turmoil that followed is a significant backdrop to the series, as those previously-united factions go back to squabbling and the now-Vestigial Empire tries to pick up the pieces. However, the last few "episodes" of the nonexistent preceding show do eventually get played out in a special flashback story arc; it doesn't show how the protagonists got to that point, but it does show exactly what happened to them in the end.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Death of a Hero is a rules-lite micro-RPG about an adventuring party remembering a member who died during the adventure that just wrapped up.
  • Descent: Journeys in the Dark: The default campaign "The Shadow Rune" concerns the late consequences of another quest by a group of Precursor Heroes ("the Shadowbinders") to seal away the Shadow Dragon Gryvorn several decades prior. The events of said quest are merely mentioned but never explained throughout the campaign.

    Visual Novels 
  • Soul of Sovereignty: The story takes place years after an age of exploration and treasure-hunting that failed to turn up anything fruitful.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the events of A Realm Reborn kick off five years after the Seventh Umbral Calamity, a cataclysmic event where the Eorzean Alliance and adventurers collectively referred to as "Warriors of Light" tried to stop the Garlean Empire's attempt to flatten Eorzea via Colony Drop. Instead, the elder primal Bahamut emerged from Dalamud, inflicting indescribable damage to the entire continent and permanently changing weather patterns during his rampage. The story begins with the Player Character, either a fresh-faced adventurer looking to make a name for themselves or one of those selfsame Warriors of Light transported into the future, making their way to one of the Eorzean city-states and exploring the land forever changed by the Calamity.
  • Ikenfell is about an ordinary named Maritte travelling to the eponymous Wizarding School to check in on her sister Safina, and spontaneously gaining magic just before the plot sets in motion.
    • Safina's previous adventures at the school serve as a framing device for Maritte's relationship with the rest of the party (which consists initially of Safina's two best friends Rook and Petronella) deconstructing the "Kid Hero having adventures at school" archetypes, but we only get hints and flashbacks of them.
    • It's revealed when Pertisia joins the party, that she used to be best friends with Safina, and went on several adventures with her. Their antagonism started when she was maimed and scarred during a misadventure, and Safina basically abandoned her after finding new friends.
    • A previous adventure serves as the basis for the wider plot. More specifically, the school's headmistress Aeldra was left traumatised after her friends were killed around her protecting the Summer Sapling. The lockdown's been caused partially by her trauma clouding her judgement (not helped by her using Blood Magic to draw out the emotional pain), and a case of Poor Communication Kills (Safina realised the world will die if the Summer Sapling isn't freed; Aeldra didn't realise that the evil that was sealed with it is long dead; both misunderstood one another's intentions).
  • Indivisible: The prologue shows the very end of an epic quest, with a four-person adventuring party battling an Eldritch Abomination to seal it away. The main plot begins years later, concerning Ajna, the daughter of two of the adventurers from the prologue. She sets off to avenge her father's killing and the destruction of her village, and discovers that the culprit, Lord Ravannavar, is also seeking to unseal the abomination from before.
  • Red Dead Redemption II begins with the gang on the run after the botched robbery in Blackwater. The events leading up to the robbery can be read about in Arthur's journal while what happened on the robbery itself is discussed between characters but the details are still unclear. While we never find out much about the robbery itself, the ramifications of it severely effect the rest of the game's plot.
  • The main character of Littlewood is a hero who's just defeated an evil wizard, and decides to found a town with their adventuring party, after they're found with no memories of who they were.
  • The Shapeshifting Detective begins in the aftermath of the eponymous character's previous assignment, with Agent X raking you over the coals for getting caught. What actually happened isn't specified, but it results in you being sent to the village of August in order to redeem yourself in the eyes of whatever mysterious agency hires shapeshifting detectives... with a strict warning that screwing up this time will result in you being "deprecated." For good measure, it soon becomes clear that your contact in August, Police Chief Dupont, is the only man who can make what happened in your previous assignment disappear. If you catch the killer, Dupont agrees to have the report rewritten so that you arrived on the scene after the girl died instead of before, but that's about all you learn about the incident.
  • Sonic Unleashed's opening cutscene has Sonic attacking a space fleet that Eggman has assembled, which wouldn't look out of place in the finale of other Sonic games, including Sonic using his Super Mode, which also indicates that he collected the Chaos Emeralds during the lead up to this.
  • Sunless Skies opens with the locomotive Orphean limping home after a failed voyage to the Blue Kingdom: Captain Whitlock is being slowly burned alive from the inside by a Correspondence-inflicted wound, you're the first officer, and you're stuck getting the Orphean back to the safety of New Winchester. Whatever you were doing out there is never specified, but it's hinted that Whitlock was rescuing a soul from the Blue Kingdom. By the time you get back to port, Whitlock is dead, and you inherit both the Orphean and the post of captain from her, whereupon you begin the game proper by confirming your identity, your past, and what ambition you want to pursue over the course of your career - be it Wealth, Fame, the Martyr-King's Cup, or the Truth.
  • Tales of Monkey Island begins at the end of another adventure, with Guybrush just about to defeat LeChuck using an almost complete voodoo brew.
  • In Tunic, a retro-inspired game similar to the Legend of Zelda series, you can find pieces of an In-Universe instruction manual. It includes hints from someone who's played through the game before and implicitly experienced the adventure very differently. This effectively recreates the experience of playing through an older game with the benefit of a fan community.

    Web Original 
  • Epilogue is all about a group of teenagers who have spent several years in the fantasy world of Cyraveil, and who have now been unceremoniously dropped back on Earth, at the exact moment of their departure, with the only apparent differences being their own memories, and the absence of one of them, who made a Heroic Sacrifice and died in Cyraveil. There are hints along the way about how they've been through epic battles, plots, plans, revolution, great suffering, and learning magic, liberating a country from tyranny and ruling it themselves, but now it's all in the past and they have to somehow face normality again. (They don't all cope.)

    Western Animation 
  • From the perspective of Grandpa Max, the events of Ben 10 are this for him. Max is a retired Plumber, an organization of humans and aliens sworn to defend Earth from alien attack. When Max was in his prime, he defeated Vilgax, romanced an Anodite named Verdona, among many, many other things over the course of his career before eventually retiring and settling down. When Ben retrieves the Omnitrix, Max's former skills are put to good use in supporting his grandson's efforts to battle the never-ending supply of alien bad guys looking to take it from Ben. Max alludes to his adventures fondly in flashbacks, but the viewer never gets to see all of them.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show opens on the aftermath of the Ed's latest scam, which has left widespread devastation on the cul-de-sac and has the other kids up in arms and going after the Eds. The Eds escaping and searching for Eddy's big brother, and the other kids following them, make up the plot of the movie.
  • Futurama:
    • "The Tip of the Zoidberg" opens with the Planet Express crew returning from a mission, where Fry got jaundice from getting punctured by cacti, which he thought were aliens and was trying to greet them. Zoidberg's attempts to cure Fry leaves the entire crew mutilated, and they demand he be fired. The rest of the episode answers the question of why Professor Farnsworth has left Zoidberg around despite his gross medical incompetence.
    • "Three Hundred Big Ones" takes place after a war against a race of Giant Spiders, and the spoils of war have been distributed to every citizen of Earth to the amount of $300 each. The plot deals with how each member of the main cast spend their 300 bucks.