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A work that is produced after one installment in a series but, internally, is chronologically set prior to it.

Maybe the last entry in the series left no room for a sequel. Maybe the writers just want to explore the backstory, Origins Episode, Start of Darkness or what have you. Maybe they want to provide more context to certain elements of previous installments. As they might say, sometimes it's not about the destination...but the journey.

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Either way, it may be time for a Prequel, a portmanteau of "previous" and "sequel": a sequel that is set chronologically before the previous work. On one hand, this allows for excellent foreshadowing as well as an opportunity to further expand the universe of a work. On the other, the prequel often heavily retcons the backstory, it can have consequences that should have been mentioned in the original story, and it's difficult to keep up the tension when the audience knows how it ends. For example, in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, various characters interact with others they would meet again in the original Star Wars trilogy, but in that film they show no evidence of recognizing them. Because the second Indiana Jones film was a prequel, audiences knew he would survive, and that he wouldn't get to keep the girl. That, however, doesn't mean a prequel can't have big twists or major reveals of their own and may even cast some aspects, if not the entirety, of a previous work in a whole new light.

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TV Series usually wrap a prequel in a Whole Episode Flashback. A movie may get a prequel TV series. Sometimes writers will squeeze a story between existing entries in a series, making it both a sequel and a prequel. Prequels are also an easy way to make use of an Expansion Pack World and introduce new conflicts without undermining the resolution of the previous work by introducing an even more ultimate evil. Occasionally said ultimate evil can get their own prequel with a Start of Darkness.

One issue with prequels in electronic media is that if they come out years after the original, you have the problem of technology in Real Life advancing to the point that special effects, graphics, etc. make the prequel look more advanced than the original, which ends up with a Cosmetically Advanced Prequel. Depending on the series, and the circumstances surrounding it, this can be overlooked, or jarring.

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Remember that a work must be produced after its related installment to be considered a prequel; previous installments do not qualify for the definition. For example, Rocky is not a prequel to Rocky II, because Rocky II was both produced and set after the first.

Is often, but not always, an Origins Episode. Compare Backstory, Flashback and Interquel. Prequel in the Lost Age is a subtrope set in a bygone era mentioned in-universe. Not to be confused with a certain Elder Scrolls fan webcomic, though it is an example of this trope.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • On its seventh volume, Arachnid introduces an assassin named Imomushi who has her own goal in the story's battle royale. Shortly after, however, she's anti-climatically knocked off the plot and isn't seen again. A spinoff named Caterpillar was then published alongside the main story, showing Imomushi on an adventure of her own a year earlier. After 93 chapters, the story catches up to Arachnid and becomes a P.O.V. Sequel.
  • Saiyuki Gaiden is the story of the main four's godly past lives (and in Goku's case, forcibly forgotten childhood). The author acknowledged in the first volume that the ending is obvious for anyone familiar with the main series, and used it to heighten the tension: the audience knew from the very first page that Konzen, Kenren and Tenpou are going to die, and that Goku will lose his memory and spend 500 years imprisoned. What we don't know is how, or when.
  • Spiral: Alive is the prequel to Spiral: Suiri no Kizuna, and mostly focuses on the serial murder of several Blade Children whose existence was missed by the Organization, and what the killer hopes to gain, involving Kiyotaka, Kousuke, Ryoko, Rio, and more.
  • Codename: Sailor V occupies the strange definition of being both a prequel, and the source, of Sailor Moon. This is because, though Sailor V came first; most of Sailor Moon came before Sailor V which ran sporadically and wrapped up after Sailor Moon ended.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing had a manga-only prequel named Episode Zero that showed formative moments from the early lives of the Gundam Pilots and Relena. The stories actually began life as a pair of flashback episodes that had to be cut when scheduling complications arose, and have the benefit of being penned by the show's head writer.
  • Fist of the Blue Sky is a distant prequel to Fist of the North Star, set in pre-World War II Asia. It doesn't have much to do with North Star, but stars Ryuken's elder brother and predecessor Kasumi Kenshiro, whom the Kenshiro from North Star was named after. The more recent spinoffs of Fist of the North Star are standard prequels and side-stories though, centering around characters from the original series (the 25th anniversary movie Hokuto no Ken Zero is a prequel set a year before the events of the original manga).
  • Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas tells the story of the previous Holy War between Hades and Athena, taking place 250 years before the original series.
  • Around the time the Ginga Densetsu Weed anime was made, a manga was created called Ginga Densetsu Riki, the prequel to the 1980s manga and anime Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin. This tells about Riki when he was a puppy and encounters his father Shiro.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes has two Gaiden series totalling 52 episodes which basically revealed the early military careers of Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wen-li before the start of the series proper.
  • Due to the Lupin III franchise's Negative Continuity, the only way to determine if a story is a Sequel or Prequel is if it is also an Origins Episode. A given episode or chapter cannot even promise if it happened before or after the last episode or chapter.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: JACK takes place 12-years prior to the main story, and focuses on a teenage Kishou Arima.
  • Handa-kun is a gag-comedy prequel to Barakamon that that features the main character's life in high school six years earlier.
  • Tezuka works tend to get some dubiously official prequels in order to explain how the main characters ended up the way they did. Young Black Jack fills in the holes of Dr. Black Jack's time in the Japanese medical field and how he came to abandon it, and Atom: The Beginning shows Professor Ochanomizu and Dr. Tenma as young scientists on the path to creating the technology that would one day help create Astro Boy.
  • Like Sailor V, High★Speed! turned into a strange hybrid of source material and prequel for Free! over its run. The first book came out well before its sequel anime, but the second was released before Eternal Summer and adapted afterwards as a prequel film.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • Arkham Asylum: Living Hell is one. While published in the time frame between "Officer Down" and "Face the Face", it takes place before it (with a footnote even stating that it happened before Batman: No Man's Land) and features Jim Gordon, not Michael Akins, as police commissioner yelling at a doctor for releasing an inmate (which given both the "doctor" and the inmate are question are serial killers, with the former even stealing the real doctor's identity, one can't blame him) and Harvey Bullock as a police detective.
  • Disney Kingdoms: Figment is set to explore the origins of Disney Theme Parks characters Dreamfinder and Figment.
  • The ElfQuest comics had a number of prequels over the years, most notably Bearclaw. The title character was the father of Cutter, the hero of the original series. The Bearclaw series sets up many of the events which occurred before the main story began, and in particular explains the implacable enmity between the human and elf tribes which led to the humans burning the elves out of their forest home at the beginning of Elfquest #1.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie Prequel is an unusual case. It's set prior to the events of My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), establishing the major new characters and settings. However, the actual release of the comics predates the film; the first issue was released in June 2017, four months prior to the movie's release.
  • Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker is a prequel to the short film of the same name. It also gives background information that isn't in the short film.
  • The Smurfs' limited-edition 50th anniversary story "The Flute Smurfers" is a prequel to the Johan and Peewit story "The Smurfs And The Magic Flute", telling what the magic flute was originally made for. It should be noted, however, that the Smurf Forest in the prequel resembles the flourishing Sugar Bowl forest of the Smurf comic book series more than it does the sparse rock-filled forest of the Johan And Peewit story that chronologically follows it.
  • Star Wars Legends: Knights of the Old Republic is an interesting example. Pitched and sold as a prequel to the Knights of the Old Republic video game, the series avoids many typical prequel pitfalls such as Foregone Conclusion, Saved by Canon and having to feature heroes prior to their Character Development by focusing on an entirely different cast with an original plot instead. The game characters that do appear are relegated to supporting roles, and some too-on-the-nose Foreshadowing turned out to be Red Herring to keep the readers on their toes. In the end, the comics share the same setting and hit the required important plot points, but end standing completely on their own, with only a passing knowledge of the game required.
  • Many comic book prequels explain how things are different after a Retcon. For example, the Superman: Birthright miniseries by Mark Waid shows young Clark Kent's life in a different way than the Man of Steel miniseries by John Byrne had; the latter was canon until the former came out.
  • Transformers Beast Wars had gotten prequels from Transformers: Timelines, in multiple media formats.
    • The "Dawn of Future's Past" comic book.
    • "Theft of The Golden Disk", which is a cartoon episode. Itself a prequel to "Dawn of Future's Past".
    • "The Razor's Edge". Text story made available on the Transformers fan club website.
  • Star Trek: Early Voyages: Aside from the series itself being a prequel to Star Trek: The Original Series, "Our Dearest Blood" depicts the Enterprise's mission to Rigel VII, a major part of the backstory to "The Cage". This includes Captain Pike's fight with the Kaylar in the abandoned Zemtar fortress, which the Talosians forced him to relive soon after abducting him. It turns out that the dress that the Damsel in Distress Vina wore in this illusion is identical to one actually worn by Talza, the aide of the Rigellian Minister Etashnan. Unlike Vina in the illusion, however, Talza left as soon as the Kaylar began to attack Pike as she had brought him to the fortress so that he could be ambushed.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • In the Amber Brown series, the A is for Amber books featured rather younger versions of Amber and Justin, before Justin moved away and Amber's parents got divorced.
  • Assassin's Creed: Underworld is a prequel to Assassin's Creed: Syndicate starring Henry "The Ghost" Green, the leader of the British Assassins at the time and The Mentor to the Frye Twins.
  • David & Leigh Eddings wrote prequels of their The Belgariad and The Malloreon decalogy, in which all "hidden" details, Noodle Incidents, and Unspoken Plans are explained. Interestingly, the Framing Device was a sequel, where the main characters are asked to write their memories.
  • La Belle Sauvage, the first volume of Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust, is set ten years before His Dark Materials. The remainder of the trilogy is set ten years afterwards. Pullman calls the whole thing an "equel".
  • Several books in The Chronicles of Narnia series are prequels or interquels to books written before.
    • This is further complicated by the fact that the prequels assume that the reader is reading the books in the published order. The Magician's Nephew, for example, is the first novel (chronologically speaking, but the 6th in the publishing order), but unless one has read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (the 2nd novel chronologically speaking), one can miss a lot of the subtext and the deeper meanings worked into the novel.
    • While the author and most experts agree that you should read them in order of release rather than chronology, the publisher continues to insist on numbering them in chronological order, further confusing new readers.
    • Complicating matters is the fact that the events of Book 5 are in fact taking place during the final chapter of Book 1.
  • When Jennifer Fallon was writing the prequels to her Demon Child series, she had a large board labelled "These People Must Die" next to her desk, indicating characters she had to kill off before the end of the prequel series in order to avoid having to explain their absence in the original series.
  • The Divergent trilogy is followed by four Four-centric short stories, three of which focus on him as a Dauntless initiate, 2 years before the events of the main series (the other is a P.O.V. Sequel of the first book). All were later collected in the Four: A Divergent Collection omnibus.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe, the novella Time and Relative by Kim Newman is set shortly before "An Unearthly Child". There are also about ten short stories in the Short Trips series set prior to the TARDIS landing in Totter's Lane.
  • Dragon Age: The novels The Stolen Throne and The Calling are prequels to Dragon Age: Origins. The former deals with the liberation of Ferelden from under the boot of the Orlesian Empire, while the latter introduces the Expansion Pack, explains how the Grey Wardens were allowed back into Ferelden, and hints at the origins of a major character.
  • Dragons of Requiem has the Dawn of Dragons trilogy, which was released three years after the original trilogy. It takes place three thousand years before Song of Dragons and shows who founded and built Requiem, and how the Vir Requis united as a whole.
  • The Dresden Files: Brief Cases has "A Fistful of Warlocks", detailing Anastasia Luccio's pursuit of a warlock in the Wild West in the late 19th century. It also features a guest appearance by the necromancer Heinrich Kemmler, who is very, very dead in the series' present.
  • Fate/Zero is a series of novels that detail the events leading up to famous Visual Novel Fate/stay night. Considering the relatively short timespan between the two story-wise (ten years), much of the events in Zero had a significant impact on stay night.
  • During the 80s, Isaac Asimov wrote two prequels to Foundation. He also wrote two sequels that retroactively made much of his output into this (the Susan Calvin-verse Robot stories became connected to the Bailey novels, and the Bailey novels became connected to the Foundation novels). Then there is the Empire trilogy, where the last fairly unambiguously is a prequel to Foundation, while the first two are a bit more debatable (they are part of the setting — though only the first is followed up on later — but due to the serializing and when the early Asimov stories were remade into novels it is a bit hard to say whether Foundation is a sequel or Pebble in the Sky/The Stars, Like Dust are prequels).
  • Jack Campbell's The Genesis Fleet series is set in the same universe as his The Lost Fleet books, but centuries earlier, during the formation of The Alliance. In the Vanguard novel, the recent invention of the jump drive has rapidly sped up the expansion of humanity into the galaxy. However, Old Earth's influence is waning, and the once mighty Earth fleet is being decommissioned. Even the old colonies are no longer the beacon of civilization they once were. The new colonies must fend for themselves in the face of pirates, slavers, and hostile colonies. The novel is focused on a number of characters, two of which appear to be the ancestors of key characters from the main series: Lieutenant Robert Geary of the recently-settled Glenlyon (in fact, the colony isn't even named at the start of the book) and Sergeant Dominic Desjani (although he doesn't appear until about two thirds of the way into the book) of the slightly more established Kosatka. Glenlyon finds itself the target of an expansionist militant colony called Scatha and, with no defense forces to speak of, must figure out a way to survive, its leaders realizing that colonies in similar situations must band together for common protection. The third and final novel of the prequels ends with the formation of the building blocks of the Alliance. The Distant Finale returns to just after the main series, with the two main characters discussing their ancestors and their roles in creating the Alliance.
  • Joanne Harris's The Gospel of Loki serves as a prequel to her earlier fantasy novels Runemarks and Runelight. However, as a lifelong Norse Mythology fan, Harris likely worked out the basic plot of Gospel long before writing the other two books, much as Tolkien did with The Silmarillion and the hobbit books.
  • Several Halo novels serve as this, including Halo: The Fall of Reach and Halo: Contact Harvest; the former focuses on the SPARTAN-II program, while the latter focuses on Sergeant Johnson and first contact with the Covenant. Another example is the The Forerunner Saga trilogy, a distant prequel that takes place during the time of the Forerunners.
  • Horatio Hornblower: The first book published, The Happy Return (Beat to Quarters in some regions) was intended as a stand-alone novel, but later became part of a multi-book arc (Ship of the Line, Flying Colours, The Commodore and Lord Hornblower). Hornblower and the Atropos, Hornblower and the Hotspur, Lieutenant Hornblower and Midshipman Hornblower, as well as the short stories The Hand of Destiny and Hornblower and the Widow McCool all take place before the events of The Happy Return.
  • The House of Night:
    • Dragon's Oath, about Dragon's past and his relationship with Anastasia.
    • Lenobia's Vow, about Lenobia's past.
    • Neferet's Curse, which relates Neferet's past.
  • The Kharkanas Trilogy is a prequel to the Malazan Book of the Fallen, set in The Time of Myths and telling an important part of the setting's backstory. It originally seemed like there was no need for a prequel as the backstory is covered quite extensively in the main series, however it turns out that a few millennia of time can change what actually happened into myths hardly related to the truth anymore. So even knowing how events eventually play out, how things ended up the way they did is a wholly different matter, sometimes overturning supposedly known facts without actually contradicting them.
  • Before Narnia there were James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales, published in this order: 4, 2, 5, 3, 1.
  • Sergey Lukyanenko:
    • Dances on the Snow takes place about a century prior to the events of Genome, the first novel of the series. However, the author insists that Genome should still be read first, even though the novels target completely different issues (Designer Babies in Genome, Cloning Blues in Dances on the Snow) and don't feature any of the same characters (except for one mentioned off-hand).
    • Lukyanenko's short story Shadows of Dreams is a prequel to Line of Delirium, as it describes one of Arthur's previous failed attempts to get to Grail with a teenage girl as his bodyguard. The latter is not revealed until the end of the short story, though.
  • By the same token, Mass Effect: Revelation is a prequel to the first Mass Effect game, revealing the history between Captain Anderson and Saren, as well as how Saren found Sovereign.
  • The Kill Order and The Fever Code are both prequels to the main trilogy of The Maze Runner series, taking focus to the background story and lore. The former tells the story of the first outbreak of the Zombie Apocalypse approximately a decade before the events at the Glade, while the latter is a direct prequel to the first book.
  • Left Behind had a three-book prequel series following the twelve-book main series: The Rising, The Regime, and The Rapture, which all tell of events that took place up to the start of the main series, such as the rise of the Antichrist Nicolae Carpathia as well as the lives of future Tribulation Force members Rayford and Chloe Steele and Buck Williams.
  • The Mortal Instruments series has one completed prequel series (The Infernal Devices) and one still in development (The Last Hours), both being set more than a century before the events of the main series. Plus, some of the novella collections (particularly, The Bane Chronicles) have stories predating TMI, as well.
  • Most of Anthony Price's thriller novels form a sequence set in the present day (i.e. the 1970s and '80s, contemporary with when they were written), but four of them are prequels set in the 1940s and '50s, exploring the roots of the main sequence protaonists and the organisation they work for.
  • In the Ryanverse:
    • Without Remorse covers the backstory for John Clark formerly Kelly, set before Jack Ryan, Sr becomes an adult.
    • Patriot Games occurs before The Hunt for Red October, in which there are a few off-hand references to PG's events.
    • Red Rabbit takes a step back to the very start of Jack Ryan, Sr's involvement with the US government, though was published after Executive Orders.
  • In John Masefield's Sard Harker, the protagonist's backstory includes him having once played a small but important role in a rebellion in South America. Masefield's later novel Odtaa is set during the rebellion.
  • Shannara by Terry Brooks:
  • The Silmarillion is an example of how good some of these can be. None of the foreshadowing starts till the end of the Quenta Silmarillion, with Akallabêth and On the Rings of Power and the Third Age.
    • Not a wholly straightforward example though, since Tolkien started writing The Silmarillion long before he wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (in fact, The Hobbit was not initially part of the same continuity) and continued afterwards. Consider also that the main events of The Silmarillion are set thousands of years before The Lord of the Rings (though a few characters are still in both.) Akallabêth and On the Rings of Power... are (admittedly long) epilogues to the main narrative, with the latter bringing the action to the time of LOTR.
    • Especially true because Tolkien didn't actually write The Silmarillion ... he wrote a lot of background material for LOTR, in many drafts and revisions, and then used tiny fragments of them in LOTR to suggest that it had its own tales and legends. After he died his son pieced together a mostly-consistent narrative out of the background material and published it. Then he started publishing the Unfinished Tales series, which were various drafts of stuff that didn't get used in The Silmarillion (many of these being earlier drafts of pieces that did get used; confused yet?).
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas of are set hundred years before the main series. They portray the golden age of House Targaryen and feature many "legendary" characters from the main series, and links between the books have surfaced, including the Myth Arc relating to "The Prince That Was Promised" and the revelation in A Dance with Dragons of Lord Bloodraven, a supporting character in the earlier series alive in the present.
    • Archmaester Gyldayn's Histories are another series of novellas going back even further to a Civil War known as the Dance of the Dragons that took place 70 years before Dunk and Egg and 170 years before the main series. The Rogue Prince takes place before The Princess and the Queen, making it a prequel of a prequel.
  • The Star Trek: Terok Nor novel trilogy; Deep Space Nine prequels set during the Cardassian occupation of Bajor.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
  • Star Wars Legends: Timothy Zahn wrote Outbound Flight before he came up with the idea for the later-set Survivor's Quest, but due to scheduling Survivors' Quest was released first, resulting in a situation like this.
  • Third Maccabees from the apocryphal books of the Maccabees is an In Name Only prequel story, as it has nothing to do with Judah Maccabee or The Maccabean Revolt, but rather an early persecution of the Jews that took place in the 3rd Century BC.
  • Wolfram von Eschenbach's unfinished epic poem Titurel was a prequel to his Parzival.
  • Tortall Universe: The Beka Cooper trilogy is set nearly 200 years before the rest of the series, and features main protagonist Beka Cooper, who's the ancestor of other characters George and Aly. While the main plot is very much self-contained, it does show a bit about how Tortall came to be the way it is, including the outlawing of slavery and the decline of the female knights.
  • When The Tripods Came, the prequel to The Tripods trilogy.
  • The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor is a prequel to the comic book series The Walking Dead.
  • Warrior Cats has two prequels called Bluestar's Prophecy and Crookedstar's Promise, which chronicle life in the clans a few years before the first arc. Also, the fifth arc Warrior Cats: Dawn of the Clans is a prequel set fifty years before the first book.
  • New Spring is a prequel to The Wheel of Time series, taking place about 20 years before The Eye of the World. What's particularly jarring is that it's actually a lot better written than the previous few books.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Enterprise, which is set 100 years before Kirk's time period. Star Trek: Discovery is more of an Interquel, being set between Enterprise and TOS.
  • The Dirty Harry parody TV series Sledge Hammer! ended its first season by blowing up Los Angeles, since the producers were expecting the series be canceled. When, much to their surprise, the series was picked up for a second season, they had to set it five years before the finale and called it Sledge Hammer: The Early Years.
  • Caprica is a rare example of a prequel TV series (to Battlestar Galactica). The prequel is so far separated in time (it begins 58 years before BSG) that only one character, William Adama, is shared between them—and while he was unquestionably the male lead in BSG, he's a secondary (if important) character in Caprica (and the vast time difference makes things, if anything, more interesting: How does he go from Willie Adama, gangster-in-training, to William "The Old Man" Adama, hardened officer of the Colonial Fleet?)
    • He doesn't. He dies, and his father has another son with his second wife whom they name William. He is the one who will become "The Old Man".
  • Young Hercules, a prequel TV series to Hercules: The Legendary Journeys with a young Ryan Gosling portraying a much younger version of Kevin Sorbo's title character.
  • Rock and Chips (originally announced as Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Chips), a prequel to Only Fools and Horses which is set in 1960, and tells the story of Joan and Freddie the Frog. It's a bit of a Genre Shift, being a rather downbeat drama with some laughs rather than the traditional sitcom of the original (and The Green Green Grass).
  • There's a very popular, long-running Italian police-detective show, Inspector Montalbano. In 2012, the spinoff Young Montalbano appeared alongside it, about Montalbano as a young man.
  • Inspector Morse has spawned the prequel series Endeavour, about the young Morse (as well as a sequel series, Lewis, starring Morse's sergeant/sidekick). This allows more stories about Morse on TV, even though both the character and the actor have died.
  • Better Call Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad and focuses on the life of Amoral Attorney Saul Goodman seven years before he first met Walter White. At the time Saul still goes by his birth name of Jimmy McGill and has yet to have his Start of Darkness that would make him such a key player in the Heisenberg saga. Similarly, Mike Ehrmantraut has just arrived in Albuquerque and has yet to embark on his career as a criminal fixer.
  • Fear the Walking Dead depicts the very beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse that The Walking Dead takes place in the aftermath of (albeit thousands of miles away).
  • Dickensian, a Massive Multiplayer Crossover of all Charles Dickens's characters is set prior to the novels (with, the writer admits, some fudging of dates). So Ebeneezer Scrooge is still a miser, Miss Havisham is a young woman who's just met Compeyson, Inspector Bucket has just become a detective, and so on.
  • Smallville and Gotham are prequels of the Superman and Batman mythos respectively.
    • Krypton is another prequel to the Superman mythos. The series takes place on the titular planet 200 years before its destruction and Kal-El's arrival on Earth. The protagonist is his grandfather Seg-El.
  • The mini-series Spartacus: Gods of the Arena is the prequel of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, sadly made because the main actor suffered from cancer (that eventually caused his death) and therefore the producers have to made something without him to entertain the audience in the hopes he would recover. He didn't so they went for The Other Darrin route.
  • Black Sails is a prequel to Treasure Island. It shows how Captain Flint got the Urca gold and why he put it on Treasure Island. It also provides backstory for various characters from the book, including Long John Silver, Billy Bones, Israel Hands and Ben Gunn.
  • Prime Suspect 1973 is a prequel to Prime Suspect, about WPC Jane Tennison at the beginning of her career dealing with even more sexism than she will as DCI Jane Tennison.
  • The 1986 TV film Dallas: The Early Years is a prequel to Dallas which explores the origins of the Barnes-Ewing feud in the 1930s. The Framing Device takes place in 1951 and features J.R. as a teenager and Bobby, Cliff, Pam and Gary as young children.
  • The 1998 TV film Babylon 5: In the Beginning is a prequel to Babylon 5, which depicts the Earth-Minbari War (2245-2248), a major part of the series' backstory. Its storyline explores the involvement, direct and indirect, of numerous regular characters in the war, including Sheridan, Sinclair, Delenn, Londo, G'Kar, Franklin and Ivanova. The major exception is Garibaldi, who was said to have served as a Ground Pounder (GROPO) during the war in "The Long Dark". The Framing Device, which ties into the future sequences of "War Without End Part 2" featuring a devastated Centauri Prime, takes place in 2278. It involves the elderly Londo, the Emperor of the Centauri Republic, telling two young children and their nanny of humanity's heroism during the Earth-Minbari War and how it inspired the Babylon Project, the last, best hope for peace. The film ties into several other episodes as well such as "And the Sky, Full of Stars", "A Late Delivery from Avalon" and "Atonement".
  • Young Sheldon is a prequel to The Big Bang Theory that focuses on Sheldon Cooper's childhood.
  • Young Hyacinth was a one-off prequel to Keeping Up Appearances, explaining how Hyacinth's snobbish pretensions were formed when she was in domestic service to the local gentry in the 1950s.

    Radio 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Legend of the Five Rings CCG featured two prequel sets: Scorpion Clan Coup, about the events that set the Clan War in motion, and Dawn of the Empire, which finally put the legendary gods and heroes of Rokugan's founding into CCG form.

    Theatre 
  • While Oedipus the King is chronologically the first play of Sophocles' Theban trilogy, is was the second in production order, making this trope Older Than Feudalism.
  • William Shakespeare did it too. The second history tetralogy (Richard II, Henry IV (1&2), and Henry V) were prequels to the first history tetralogy (Henry VI (1,2&3) and Richard III). And even those probably weren't written in order either; Henry VI 2, 3, and Richard III are almost one long play in three parts, the first part of Henry VI may well have been written a few years later.
  • Another Part of the Forest by Lillian Hellman was a prequel to her play The Little Foxes set 20 years earlier.
  • Cirque du Soleil's Toruk — The First Flight is the prequel to Avatar, retelling the story of the first Toruk Makto (an individual who manages to tame and ride a toruk in a time of great peril for the Na'vi) in the 9th century BC. The Tree of Souls is threatened by a volcanic eruption, and the Omaticaya clan sends a brave young hunter to gather the five items he needs in order to tame the toruk and and use the creature as a symbol to unite the clans and save the Tree. The hunter, Ralu, fails, but his friend Entu, a failed hunter, succeeds. The clans manage to rally even without the Toruk Makto, but their efforts to save the tree prove futile. Then Entu appears on the back of the toruk, and the creature manages to put out the flames, dying during the act. The Storyteller then reveals that he is Entu. There is some discontinuity there, as the Storyteller appears to be telling all this to the Sky People (i.e. humans), except humans didn't make it to Pandora until the 22nd century. It's highly doubtful that Entu has lived for so long.

    Video Games 
  • Act Raiser 2 is hinted to be a prequel to the first ActRaiser.
  • The Legend of Oasis, known in Europe as The Story of Thor 2, is a prequel to the first The Story of Thor, known as Beyond Oasis in North America.
  • The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard and The Elder Scrolls Online take place during the Second Era, hundreds of years before the main entries in The Elder Scrolls.
  • Ever Quest Online Adventures takes place 500 years before the first Everquest.
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals serves as a prequel, starring the hero that appeared in the prologue and was the ancestor of the Player Character in Lufia & The Fortress of Doom.
  • In Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis the main villain is a Soviet general called Guba, and one of the protagonists is a US special forces soldier by the name of Gastovski. The expansion pack Resistance features a new campaign set three years earlier, in which then-colonel Guba leads the Soviet invasion of a different island than those featured in the original game, and Gastovski is there to lend the locals a hand. Naturally, there are zero references to this earlier armed conflict in the original game.
  • The Legend of Zelda practically runs on this trope. Only Zelda II: The Adventure of Link occurs chronologically after the original game, with all the others being either prequels, sequels to prequels, or splitting off into concurrent Alternate Timelines
  • Tales of Symphonia takes place thousands of years before Tales of Phantasia, the game it precedes, and this is only known through references in the game, rather than being explicitly stated... such as the two worlds having the same names as the two moons of Aseria in Phantasia, the existence of Martel who guards a giant tree named Yggdrasill, the world maps in Symphonia being that of Phantasia split in two, Suzu and Sheena Fujibayashi, the Eternal Sword, discrimination against half-elves (although it's not as big a plot point in Phantasia as it was in Symphonia), Magitek flying machines (the Techbirds of Phantasia and the Rheairds of Symphonia have very similar designs, and in both games powering them up involves gaining the aid of the lightning summon spirit Volt).
  • In Dragon Quest III, you play what appears to be a standalone game in the series, only towards the end you end up in an alternate universe — the universe of the first 2 Dragon Quest games. Only it's hundreds of years before Dragon Quest I. At the end of the game, your hero is given the title of Loto (Erdrick in the original US translation) — which is the name of the legendary hero that the Dragon Quest I character is descended from...
    • The second trilogy (IV, V, and VI) also appear to follow this format, though much more ambiguously.
  • Infocom's Interactive Fiction game Zork Zero is, as the name implies, a prequel to the company's previous Zork and Enchanter trilogies.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky is a prequel to S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl.
  • Fallout 76 takes place 59 years before the original Fallout in the year 2102, although Super Mutants are still present despite the Master not having created them until the following year and the Institute ones not being created until over a century later.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is a prequel to the entire series and details the backstory and Start of Darkness of Big Boss, and was followed with Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and finally Metal Gear Solid V (with V having a closing scene teasing Metal Gear).
    • Ordered by canon chronology, the central plot thread is as follows: MGS3, Portable Ops, Peace Walker, MGSV, Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2, Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2, and (finally) Metal Gear Solid 4.
  • Street Fighter is pretty bad about this. After the constant updates of Street Fighter II, the Street Fighter Alpha series arrived onto the scene in 1995, with the purpose of fleshing out the backstory by... showing what happened in between the original Street Fighter/Final Fight and Street Fighter II. After Street Fighter III (as well as 2nd Impact and 3rd Strike) came and went, Street Fighter IV comes out and... it takes place after II and before III. Street Fighter V would later continue the trend by being set after IV... but still before III.
  • Most media associated with Final Fantasy VII (also known as the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII) take place before the titular game. In fact, the franchise only has one video game sequel, Dirge of Cerberus, which is set a few years after the ending of the game.
    • Before Crisis is set six years before VII, with the focus shifting to a brand of villains that got retconned.
    • Crisis Core is set four years before VII and explores about an important Posthumous Character who influenced that game's main protagonist. The ending even outright sequences into the opening of VII.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy gets Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy, which takes place on the previous iteration of the "Groundhog Day" Loop. Also, the series is technically a prequel to the first Final Fantasy I, as the game's setting is revealed to be a copy of that game's world ("World B", as opposed to "World A"). The ending shows the Warrior of Light setting up for another adventure in World A (the first game's storyline), with other heroes returning back to their own homeworlds.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep takes place roughly ten years before the events of the first game. The secret ending includes a Distant Finale that takes place right after Kingdom Hearts II.
    • Kingdom Hearts χ not only takes place long before every other game, including Birth by Sleep, but immediately before the Keyblade War which made the universe the way it is throught the rest of the series.
  • Devil May Cry 3 is a prequel to the first Devil May Cry game. 4 is technically a prequel too, as it still takes place before the second. In in-universe chronological order, the games go 3, 1, 4, 2 - and they've been going out of their way to deny 2 ever happened.
    • Ninja Theory's reboot of the series is rumored to be set before 3, if it takes place in the same continuity at all.
  • Castlevania had its first game set in 1691, but there have been games set before this time. And a shitload of sequels/interquels. So much so that the main climax isn't even a game yet!
  • Assassin's Creed:
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a prequel to Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Invisible War. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a sequel to Human Revolution and the second prequel to the original Deus Ex.
  • According to Word of God, Nexus: The Jupiter Incident is an unofficial prequel to the Imperium Galactica series, as it was originally planned as Imperium Galactica III: Genesis before getting stuck in Development Hell and switching developers and publishers several times. The basic storyline has not changed from the original, though.
  • I Miss the Sunrise expands on and explains the shocking Sequel Hooks dropped at the end of The Reconstruction.
  • The mod/scenario Fall from Heaven: Age of Ice, included in Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword, is a prequel to the popular mod Fall From Heaven II. The original mod is set in the fantasy world of Erebus at the start of the Age of Rebirth. The prequel scenario shows how the previous age (the Age of Ice) was ended by a hero unifying a scattered tribe and vanquishing a god.
  • Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist is a prequel to Leisure Suit Larry, set in The Wild West. Zircon Jim Laffer is an ancestor of Larry Laffer.
  • Child of Eden is said to be a prequel to ''Rez', although some call it a spiritual sequel.
  • Halo: Reach: Since the game retells a well-known catastrophe in the franchise's backstory, much of the plot and marketing played on the drama of the Foregone Conclusion.
  • The entire Ace Combat series released after Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere.
  • The Tale Of ALLTYNEX brings us RefleX (2008), which is a prequel to KAMUI (1999). RefleX in turn is preceded by ALLTYNEX Second (2010). Amusingly, the latter two games in the series are remakes of existing games: Reflection (1998) and ALLTYNEX (1996), meaning that retroactively, the series was still released in straight chronological order.
  • The Sonic Boom Licensed Game is a prequel to the TV show.
  • The Yoshi's Island series (besides Yoshi Topsy-Turvy) is a prequel to the Super Mario Bros. series.
  • Word of God has stated that Shadow of the Colossus is the prequel to ICO.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 2 is a stealth prequel, thus explaining why Phone Guy is alive and the restaurant is still running. It actually takes place shortly before "The Bite of 1987".
    • Five Nights at Freddy's 4 is either this or a P.O.V. Sequel to 2. If it's the former, it reveals that there was also a "Bite of 1983." If it's the latter, then it shows a child who is scared of Freddy and friends who ultimately becomes the Bite of 1987 victim.
    • Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location, thanks to a certain secret ending from the game's update, is implied to be a prequel, though just what it is a prequel to is hard to pinpoint. Basically, the game is designed as such that it could be placed at any point in the timeline. For a full answer: it might be an Origins Episode for the main antagonist and thus take place before the events of other games in the series, it might happen sometime in between 4 and 3 and explain about the antagonist's previously unmentioned son (though there's no stopping for the son to appear before 4 either), or it might be unconnected to any game thus far, because the antagonist's name is not fully confirmed to be his canonical name (it was previously revealed in a non-canon spinoff novel).
  • One of the endings of House of the Dead 4 sets up the game as a prequel to House Of The Dead 3. It gets this in your face by telling you to go back and play House Of The Dead 3 after you managed to get said ending.
    • Meanwhile, Overkill is set before any other game in the series, identifiable because Agent G is introduced as being sent on his first assignment here.
  • Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, rather than simply being remakes of the original Ruby and Sapphire, add new plot points touching upon the origin of Mega Evolution and the war in Kalos 3,000 years before the start of the series, tying them into Pokémon X and Y. According to Word of God, the former two take place an unspecified amount of time before the latter two.
  • The Stinger in the ending for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker reveals that the game actually takes place before Super Mario 3D World (or as of the Switch port, Super Mario Odyssey), as Captain Toad winds up in 3D World's opening cutscene. Captain Toad follows Mario and crew down the clear pipe, which also explains how he wound up in the Sprixie Kingdom in said game. In the Switch port, instead, Toad and Toadette's cart ends in the Sand Kingdom, and upon Toad seeing the Odyssey flying through the skies, he eagerly follows it, much to the dismay of Toadette.
  • The Game Boy Advance game The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Pumpkin King is a prequel to the animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas that explains how Jack Skellington first encountered Oogie Boogie and why they hate each other.
  • While most sequels in the Silent Hill series are standalone, the first game has a prequel in the form of Origins that focuses on a new protagonist who is nevertheless involved with the characters of 1.
  • Life Is Strange: Before the Storm takes place three years before the original game. It shows how Chloe met Rachel Amber, who never appeared in the original but whose relationships and strange disappearance drove much of the plot.
  • The followups to the Flash puzzle platformer Sleepy Knight: One-Trick Mage, Choppy Orc and Sticky Sorcerer, are prequels. (Each game ends with you freeing the main character of the previous one.)
  • Gradius ReBirth (2009) is this to Nemesis 2 (1987), featuring Dr. Venom as James Burton's commanding officer before the former went rogue. Completing the third and final loop of the game exposes Venom's coup d'etat and Face–Heel Turn, setting up the events of Nemesis 2.
  • Professor Layton: The second trilogy of games take place before the first, telling how, among other things, Layton met his assistant Luke.
  • Red Dead Redemption II takes place before the first Red Dead Redemption, focusing on Dutch van der Linde's gang; the same gang whose remnants John must hunt down in the first game.
  • Hiveswap serves as one to Homestuck, taking place two decades (and several sweeps) before the Kids' and Trolls' sessions.

    Web Animation 
  • Season 9 of Red vs. Blue began showing a prequel story delving into the backstory of Project Freelancer.

    Webcomics 
  • Webcomic parody: In this strip of Dinosaur Comics, God publishes a sequel to the Bible, then a prequel that takes place in the universe before this one.
  • The Aikonia webcomic is one to the videogame of the same name.
  • In a way, Hivebent is one for Homestuck, revolving around the trolls' session without any input from the kids. Of course, it's later revealed that without the kids, their entire session couldn't have happened.
  • The Order of the Stick has had two print-only books. The first, numbered 0, is On The Origin of PCs, which shows what the heroes were doing before joining together. The second, #-1, is Start of Darkness, which shows the backstory and origins of Team Evil leaders Xykon and Redcloak, along with how the Monster in the Dark ended up as their secret weapon.
  • Contest Jitters is one for Satin Steele.
  • Prequel, the aforementioned Elder Scrolls fan webcomic, is is one for Oblivion.

    Western Animation 
  • The '90s cartoon short Another Froggy Evening appeared to be a prequel for most of the cartoon, where Michigan J. Frog appears in earlier time periods and meets characters who resemble the man who discovered him in the original short, but this is subverted in the Twist Ending: Michigan eventually reaches a desert island, and the castaway that sees him thinks of him as food rather than a chance to exploit him for fame. Just before the frog was put in a cooking pot, however, he was then abducted by Marvin the Martian. It turns out, happily, that Michigan's croaks are considered Martian, and Marvin and Michigan end it off with a duet.
  • Parodied in Earthworm Jim, with a "promo" of Young Earthworm Jim which would feature Jim's many "adventures" before the suit came about.
  • Recess: All Growed Down was released in 2003 (two years after the show was cancelled), but features T.J. and his friends as kindergarteners, rather than fourth (or fifth) graders.
  • All Hail King Julien serves as a prequel to the Madagascar franchise, as it explains how King Julien became king in the first episode, and is otherwise set chronologically before the first movie.
  • Dawn of the Croods serves as a prequel to The Croods, showing the family living happily with other cave families in Ahh! Valley.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is heavily implied to be a prequel to the original 1969 series in its final episode.
  • Disney's animated series Hercules is a prequel to the Disney movie of the same name, showing Hercules during his teen-age years.
  • The Alf animated series is a prequel to ALF showing Alf's life on Melmac.
  • In the case of Star Wars Legends, long before the prequels that we all know, the animated shows Droids and Ewoks were prequels of the original trilogy. The first told the story of C3PO and R2D2 before they met Luke and the second one told the lives of the Ewoks before their first encounter with humans.
  • Considering that Taz-Mania shows Taz still living in Tazmania and in his parent's house probably in his late teens/early twenties, then the show can be considered a prequel of the Looney Tunes cartoons.

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