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Remember the New Guy?

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What do you mean, "Larry wasn't always in the show?"

Ada: You... knew each other?
The Dark Id (as Leon): Well, the script says I did, but hell if I've ever seen that guy before the cutscene just after the fight with Todd.
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A previously unmentioned character who suddenly appears without notice and who we are told was really there all along but just... off screen or something. It comes about because the writers want to introduce a new character, but don't want to come up with a complex introduction where everyone meets them and learns what they're like- it's just plain easier (and lazier) to pretend that everyone automatically knows them, and the relationship is ready-made. "Oh hey, that's my old rival!" "Oh, this is my brother/sister whom I've never told you about," etc.

In other words, this is a relative or a friend or even a rival whom we really should have met, or at least heard about before, since the other characters would have us believe they have been crewing the same starship, working on the same project or sitting on the other side of the same classroom for years.

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This can work if the character (and the actor) proves compelling enough for the audience to suspend their disbelief, or that it's possible nobody mentioned them "on-camera" before (like if the show is set in a school, and the character is a casual acquaintance of the others but hasn't done anything significant to the plot until now). It's also possible if there's an in-story reason for the character to have been incognito (perhaps they were a spy, or an escaped convict), and the character was there in plain sight all along, but disguised as one of the show's many extras. Among the most clumsy versions is the "Long-Lost Daughter/Son." This trope can be especially disruptive if the new addition doesn't fit the tone of the series.

A subversion of this trope can come into play when a newly-introduced character actually wasn't there before, but the characters believe they were due to Fake Memories or a Cosmic Retcon.

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Related to (no pun intended) Long-Lost Uncle Aesop, but while the Long-Lost Uncle is usually a one-shot character to deliver An Aesop, Remember the New Guy is basically a new main character retconned out of thin air - in fact, the term "Retroactive Continuity" was originally coined to describe this trope.

If the character is going to be killed off straight away, this trope can be used to turn him into a Mauve Shirt beforehand.

Compare Cain and Abel and Seth, Cousin Oliver and New Neighbours as the Plot Demands. Can often occur in combination with Suspiciously Similar Substitute, when an actor is no longer available and a new character is quickly brought in with minimal introduction to fill the role. Contrast Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, in which a character disappears with no explanation. When an adaptation takes steps to avert this, it's an Early-Bird Cameo. Also compare Unknown Rival, which can sometimes result in the opposite situation where the the audience is familiar with a character, but the other characters aren't, even in situations where they really should be.


Example subpages:

Straight examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Orin the Pink Ninja in Akazukin Chacha is revealed later to have been in class the whole time, but clinging to the ceiling.
  • Angel Beats!: Every acquaintance of an NPC seems to have this trope, considering how Yuri had a supposed friend when she was almost Brainwashed into becoming one.
  • Aoi Kuineda's primary circle of Red Tails from Beelzebub consisted of Nene, Yuka, Ryouko, and Chikai. Then, a random, never before mentioned purple haired member was inserted into the group, and treated as if she's been there from the very start.
  • A particularly frustrating example occurs in Black Clover, where in one arc Asta and Noelle meet up with a group of three mages, Fanzell, Dominante, and Mariella, in the Witches Forest Arc. Though they have never appeared in the manga before, Asta and Noelle are not only familiar with them, but have apparently already helped them escape from the Diamond kingdom, and even received trained with them. The characters were originally introduced in a light novel that serves as a side story to the manga, but it can be infuriating when the manga has flashbacks to events that never occurred in the manga. Not only that, but it's nearly impossible to tell when exactly the events of the light novel took place relative to the manga.
  • Bleach: Uryuu Ishida is first introduced in Chapter 34 as Ichigo's classmate and the highest-scoring student in the entire grade, yet Orihime has to explain to Ichigo who he is while Tatsuki lampshades the Running Gag of Ichigo's careless forgetfulness. However, careful reading of earlier chapters reveals Ishida in the background of several panels, including Chapter 1's cover, and his father is mentioned in a throw-away line in Chapter 7, so Kubo deliberately invoked this trope.
  • Shingo Aoi from Captain Tsubasa was introduced in the World Youth arc as a Tsubasa fanboy who went to say goodbye to him in the airport as he left to Brazil.
  • One reason Ryo of Digimon Tamers is seen as a Canon Sue is this. Even if one takes into account his huge backstory (that most of the viewers outside of Japan never even got to see until later) that explains his presence, his sudden appearance still comes a bit out of left field even with the proper context.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dr. Gero is a perfect example: he was a scientist that worked for the Red Ribbon Army and created the androids for them, including the previously seen Android 8, but he was never mentioned in the Red Ribbon Army Saga. It's only when he shows up in the Android Saga years later in real life and many years later in-universe, we know all this time he was making more androids until he made ones that could defeat Goku and the others, and is also revealed that the whole time he was spying on the main characters with hidden cameras and collecting cells from them to create the bio-android Cell. It even creates a plot hole in the anime, where Dr. Flappe was said to be the creator of Android 8 in the RR Saga, which was only addressed in a supplemental book that states they both worked on him together.
    • Speaking of, the villain of the video game Dragon Ball Fighterz is a God-Created Canon Foreigner named Android 21, who is stated to be another former Red Ribbon Army scientist.
    • The God of Destruction Beerus from the movie Battle of Gods is a semi-example. One of the strongest beings in the entire universe (in fact, the only one stronger is his attendant Whis), no one ever mentioned him until the movie, even though Kaio, the Kaioshins, Freeza, and Vegeta all knew about him, yet in the series they named many weaker people as "the strongest in the universe". Although this could also be explained by the fact that they were referring to the strongest "people". Beerus is a God and, just like all the Kais, is not factored into mortal power rankings.
    • Dragon Ball Super introduces Bulma's older sister Tights; both Goku (who's known Bulma since they were kids) and Vegeta (her husband) react to this news with "You have a sister?!" Of course, the meta reason is that Tights is from Toriyama's manga Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, which was written almost 20 years after the Dragon Ball manga ended. Jaco himself could also count, since Bulma has known him since she was little but it apparently never came up in the intervening decades.
      • Tights late mentioning can be justified by Bulma's tendency of not talking much about her family to her friends, just as she never mentioned her parents in the first two arcs. Tights has also distanced herself from her family for most of her life, so it's easy for them to forget her.
  • In Fairy Tail, Gildarts gets this treatment in the anime. It was supposed to end before he was introduced, so the five or so mentions of his name before the Edolas arc are cut out.
  • Yoki and May in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood are this to viewers who haven't read the manga or watched the 2003 anime version. They cut the Youswell episode which serves as a proper introduction to Yoki, and May was also supposed to be introduced later in Youswell. To Brotherhood-only viewers, Yoki and May are just two random people who join Scar because they somehow know of the Elric brothers, and Yoki wants revenge for some reason. Yoki's back story and desire for revenge are explained later in the show in a series of quick flashbacks. These flashbacks occur several episodes after Yoki is introduced however, still leaving people who had never read the manga or seen the 2003 anime thoroughly confused for a while. Hilariously, when Yoki actually meets them, Ed himself doesn't remember him at first, despite ruining his life.
  • In Haikyuu!!, Asahi and Nishinoya, two very highly capable players, appear out of nowhere 7 episodes/15 chapters in to play for Karasuno. The explanation given is that Asahi quit volleyball after being discouraged due to having a terrible game in a recent tournament, and Nishinoya was suspended from club activities due to breaking a vase while arguing with Asahi about this in a school hallway.
    • Later on, Nekoma has a new starting player, Lev, in their second appearance. The explanation given is that he wasn't with them in their first appearance because he was still a newbie and they only took their main squad to training camp. In the two months between their two appearances, he developed enough to become a starter.
  • Padparadscha of Land of the Lustrous is suddenly introduced in episode 11—Rutile, the doctor, had been working to resolve their chronic coma for much longer than the time-span of the series. The protagonist knew about this character the whole time (saying "I'm glad I didn't forget about Padparadscha"), but never mentioned them before this point.
  • Queen Diamond in Kaitou Joker. She's Silver Heart's granddaughter and grew up alongside the main protagonist and his rival, but doesn't show up or even get mentioned until chapter 41.
  • In Lucky Star, when the cast starts their senior year, Kagami is approached by Misao and Ayano, noting that they are glad to be in Kagami's class again. Kagami then walks off, Misao notes their position as background characters, and the two then become members of the regular cast. Misao did make a brief appearance prior to this, and she even had a line... with a different voice actress than the one she had when she started showing up regularly. Ayano also made a brief, unnamed appearance as a participant in the sports festival before becoming official. In the manga, though, the two were at first unnamed and were only intended to be random classmates of Kagami's class. It was later when they were actually given names and personalities.
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Most good characters from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers have met the characters from previous seasons before.note  It's justified by the fact that there was a ten year Time Skip. At that point, it would have been surprising if they didn't know new characters.
    • Inverted with Corona Timil from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid, who has been Vivio's friend since shortly after the StrikerS epilogue. While it is also played straight, Corona remembers characters from previous seasons, even in cases when she doesn't meet them again.
    • Done with Thoma, the main character of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force. Something of an odd case, since he seems to have met everyone in the Time Skip between Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers and Force.
      • Touma's Belated Backstory, presented in part via flashback chapters, shows that he first met Subaru (and through her, the rest of the Nakajima extended family) in the apparent aftermath of StrikerS Sound Stage X. It's also worth noting that outside of the Nakajima family (and Teana), the other, more established main characters don't know Touma (at best, for instance, Nanoha knows of him), and they all introduce themselves properly once the circumstances allow for it.
  • In My Monster Secret, the two main characters first met Karen at chapter 60, yet it's revealed later that she's the Student Council President of their school. In the next chapters it's shown that Nagisa (the Class Representative) and Mikan (president of the news club) have known her since the start. Apparently, normal students are unaware of her existence, or that they even have a student council at all.
  • My Hero Academia: Although a flashback shows that Shouto has three siblings, only one of them is shown living with him, his sister Fuyumi. Almost 200 chapters in it's shown that another of his siblings is also living with him, Natsuo, and apparent has been living with them all along. His lack of appearance is handwaved by Fuyumi saying that since he started college he has spend very little time at home and maybe also due to a secret girlfriend.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto already knows the members of Team 8 and 10 and is later shown interacting with some of them in flashbacks during his time at the academy even though they do not appear to be anywhere in the classroom in Chapter 1 or 3 of the manga, even in wider shots showing the entire classroom. Likewise, Sakura and Sasuke first appear as Naruto's classmates in Chapter 3, but are nowhere to be found in the classroom scenes in Chapter 1. Averted in the anime, where all of aforementioned classmates make brief Early Bird Cameos in the respective episodes. Possibly a case of Fridge Brilliance; Naruto had failed the Graduation Exam twice already, so he might simply have been moved to another class that had not taken the exam yet. There are at least 10 teams of three Genin so there should be at least 30 new Genin but we barely see half that number in any scene.
    • Karin who first appears later in the series is shown as a participant of the Chunin Exams from earlier in the series having first met Sasuke during the Forest of Death portion of the exams, yet she did not actually appear in chapters that originally depicted the Chunin Exams.
    • Another example: the presence of Danzo Shimura and his organization "Root", only introduced as of Part II/Shippuuden, having largely affected the behind-the-scenes politics and histories of major characters. Which is, in-universe, what they precisely intended to be.
    • Hamura Ootsutsuki, the brother of the Sage of the Six Paths, Hagoromo and inheritor of Kaguya's Byakugan. Not once has he ever been hinted at existing (in-universe reasoning is the Uchiha Tablet being modified), but since his introduction, he's been noted as helping Hagoromo defeat the Juubi, a feat originally seen as a solo act by Hagoromo.
    • Boruto introduces a bunch of kids (Sumire, Denki, etc) that weren't seen in Boruto: Naruto the Movie, Naruto Gaiden, or the original Distant Epilogue. They however are good friends with Boruto during his Academy days. The episode showing Naruto's inauguration short had new scenes added with some of them in it.
  • Pokémon:
    • Since Episode 35 ("The Legend of Dratini") of Indigo League was not aired outside of Japan and a couple other Asian countries, the 30 Tauros Ash accidentally caught in that episode appear to come out of nowhere in "Showdown at the Po-ké Corral".
    • During the Battle Frontier arc, which took place in Kanto (the setting of the first season), second- and third-generation Pokémon were portrayed as being indigenous to Kanto... even though no one seemed to know about them the first time around (barring an Early-Bird Cameo or two like Misty's Togepi, and even then the cameos were presented as one-of-a-kind in the region).
    • Pokeathlons weren't in the original Pokémon Gold and Silver, instead introduced in the remakes, which were released nearly ten years later. Despite this, Ash and Brock act like they had experience in the sport when Lyra mentions them in Diamond and Pearl.
    • Serena is supposedly one of Ash's Childhood Friends. Naturally, since her design is based on the default female player character from Pokémon X and Y, she first appeared in the anime arc based on said games and was never seen or mentioned prior. Downplayed in that Ash helped her out one day at summer camp and she clung to that memory; given that Ash has always been a Friend to All Living Things,note  said memory didn't stand out for him, though he does remember her as the "straw-hat girl" when she recalled that meeting.
  • The Pretty Cure All Stars movies inflict this whenever extra Cures show up between the last movie and the current ones. New Stage 3 had this as a minor gag when Grell and Enyen go to confront the Doki Doki Pretty Cure team and are bewildered at the sight of Aguri and she the same. It's only when Mana walks up that the make the connection.
  • Ai Kaga of Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei first appears in the last episode of the first series. She explains that she hid away from the camera, believing that if she appeared it would drive down the ratings.
  • Just as their western brethren, Transformers anime can be guilty of this as well. Transformers Armada offers a baffling example, where the humongous Autobot Overload makes his grand intro by randomly rolling up in the middle of an episode to act as Optimus Prime's trailer. It's never explained where this guy came from, which is made even weirder by the fact that he's supposedly a small Mini-Con robot called Rollout who wears "Overload" as Powered Armor. Despite that gathering these Mini-Cons was the main point of the series' first half, with many episodes being dedicated to finding one or two "regular" Mini-Cons, here we have one that comes with his own set of gigantic armor and can look the regular robot cast in the eye, yet he's the one not to get an intro episode.
  • Because of its episodic nature, this tends to happen in Uzumaki. One notable example is when a chapter near the middle of the manga introduces Kirie's pregnant cousin, Keiko. Even though Kirie's clearly close with Keiko, this is the first time we ever hear of her.
  • In the fourth season Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Yusuke Fujiwara uses the "false memory" variant on almost everyone (see below), but it's played straight when Fubuki remembers him. Fujiwara was his classmate and he was connected with the old Obelisk Dorm and Fubuki's disappearance prior to season 1.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's featured Kyosuke Kiryu and Crow Hogan, who were apparently always best friends with the main characters despite not appearing in any of the flashbacks with Yusei and Jack in the past. Crow is particularly bizarre, since in prior episodes, Yusei was established as hopelessly scrounging for parts in Satellite to build a D-Wheel that even works, but Crow, also a Satellite resident in even worse economic straits, is introduced with a high-spec D-Wheel in perfect condition that can fly.
    • Crow's high-quality D-Wheel is later justified, since he inherited it from his late friend Robert Pearson, who was a luminary in building D-Wheels and he was even offered a job in Neo-Domino City.
  • Parodied with Rise in Yuru-Yuri. She's supposedly been the head of the student council from day one, even though none of the four lead girls have ever seen her. To drive this home, a Flash Back shows that she was present at the group's trip to the beach, but stood just out of view of the camera.
  • Not exactly a character, but the A Certain Magical Index movie Miracle of Endymion does this with the Space Elevator Endymion. Lampshaded when Index sees the structure for the first time and asks what it is and where it came from. Touma pokes fun at her, comments that her Photographic Memory must not be as perfect as she thought, and claims the structure has always been there. He has a flashback montage that shows the structure edited into the background of several important past scenes. Index gets really confused, as she is sure she's seeing it for the first time.
  • Sabo from One Piece. We are made aware of the shared history of sworn brothers Luffy and Ace throughout the show. Even seeing some quick flashes of them sharing a ritual to become brothers. But when they finally show the full flashbacks of the two meeting and developing their relationship, we are suddenly introduced to a new character, their third sworn brother, Sabo. Even the previously mentioned flashback of their ritual suddenly had Sabo involved in it too. There was the very subtle hint in Ace's misspelled tattoo (ASCE, with the S crossed over), that was downright impossible to know what meant, and what we saw of the brother-making-ritual contained three cups - only with Sabo, the drinker of the third, never being shown.
  • Detective Conan: The series tends to switch between this trope and Forgotten First Meeting. If it's the latter, the series provides hints that the main cast might have met the new person before. One example is Eri Kisaki who was never mentioned by Ran and Kogoro before her introduction and Shinichi/Conan has already forgotten how she looked like.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Similar to the show; Dulcy the Dragon was fitted in with nothing more then a small back-up story introduction which gave her backstory and essentially went "She's been part of the Freedom Fighters all this time! Honest!" Dulcy was later phased out of the comic, only appearing in the backgrounds in the last couple years and later not even those. From "remember" to "forgotten"? Post-Super Genesis Wave, Dulcy has been reintroduced to the (extended) cast. As this was in a story arc that added several characters, and showed flashbacks to her introduction (in the past of the new universe) it was less jarring than the first time.
    • Lampshaded example when Dr. Eggman meets a leader of one of his armies known as Axel the Water Buffalo. He's quick to say he recognizes him and recruits him in trying to get to the Death Egg II. Orbot's quick to point out that they've never seen him before and Eggman has already figured that out - he admits that he was too hasty in stopping Super Sonic's Chaos Control, and realizes that a lot of Mobius has been altered..
  • Astro City does this for essentially all of the superpowered characters. Because the series is written as if there is a longstanding continuity (which there isn't), most people are introduced in one issue and will have their origins explained many issues later, if at all.
  • Baron von Blitzschlag is a minor example, created as a former Nazi supervillain now working as a research scientist for The Initiative. He was supposed to have fought several World War II era superheroes, but he was never a particularly notable villain. Blitzshlag was originally meant to be Arnim Zola, but since Ed Brubaker was using the character in Captain America, writer Dan Slott created a new character to fill the same role.
  • Jeph Loeb introduced a new Batman character called Thomas Elliot. He was apparently a childhood friend of Bruce's, and Bruce holds him in incredibly high regard, and it's heavily implied that Thomas partly inspired Bruce's methods as Batman... Which is why we never heard of him before the story arc. This was (almost) an exact copy of a Superman story just a few years before. During Zero Hour!, we were introduced to Kenny Braverman. Childhood Friends with the hero — check. Been here all along — check. Becomes a Big Bad (Conduit) — check. Drives our hero to the brink of madness — check. Tries to kill our hero — check.
  • Happened twice to DC Comics' Black Lightning. Judd Winick created an adult daughter for him called Thunder, with her existence handwaved away with a line saying that she'd mostly lived with her mother after her parents' divorce. Then, a few years later, Geoff Johns introduced a second daughter, Lightning, and this time there wasn't much effort put into reconciling the fact that she'd never been seen or mentioned before this.
  • This is by now many years old, but the introduction of Cable happened this way too; right when he was introduced everyone was treating him as if he had always been around. Which, considering his backstory, is either Fridge Brilliance or Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • Isaiah Bradley, the black Captain America. He was introduced in 2003, but was retconned into having been active in Marvel's Golden Age during World War II. He's supposedly a pillar of Marvel's black superhero community, and characters like Luke Cage and Black Panther are shown to be in awe of him.
    • Golden Girl and the Human Top. Both of them were created in the 70's to add a little diversity (Golden Girl being Japanese-American and Human Top being black) to Marvel's Golden Age, and were retroactively stated to have fought alongside Captain America and Bucky as members of The Invaders.
    • Ed Brubaker's Captain America run introduced Codename Bravo, one more of Cap's supposed allies from World War II. He also introduced Queen Hydra, a female HYDRA agent from the same era.
  • The short-lived series The Crew revolved around James "War Machine" Rhodes trying to take down the drug lords responsible for the death of his younger sister. Not only was the sister never mentioned prior to this, she was pretty much never mentioned again after the series ended either! The sister was eventually mentioned again years later in the Iron Patriot limited series...so that it could be established that she had a daughter, Lila Rhodes, who is apparently very close with James despite having never been seen or mentioned before. The series also added a previously-unmentioned son of the above-mentioned Isaiah Bradley - Josiah al hajj Saddiq - who'd apparently been around since the sixties and had become a superhero.
  • Daredevil's childhood mentor Stick wasn't introduced until Daredevil #176, which was published a whopping 17 years or so after the title's debut.
  • Paulie in Deadly Class. Having never appeared previously, he runs into Marcus during finals and insists that he's always been around, is friends with everybody, and is known for his lucky red shirt. Amusingly, he makes it through finals unscathed, and goes on to have a cozy spot as Viktor's Yes-Man by the class's sophomore year.
  • This trope was the favorite approach of Carl Barks when introducing new characters in the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, and several of his successors take similar approaches. Characters like Uncle Scrooge, Gladstone Gander, Gyro Gearloose and even the Beagle Boys were all introduced in stories that treated them as if they'd always been there, just not on-page (though Scrooge admittedly is introduced as a solitary miser who hardly ever gets in touch). In this case it works, largely because the Duck comics tend to be standalone stories that operate on Negative Continuity.
    • This approach is also used by Italian authors: Brigitta McBridge is stated in her debut story to have known Scrooge since at least 1898 (back when Scrooge had moved to Whitehorse and became a businessman), with a later story showing their first encounter actually dates to when Scrooge was a prospector and had just struck rich; Jubal Pomp debuts as a recurring annoyance of Scrooge, and a later story actually puts their first meeting at the same time as the one between Scrooge and Brigitta; and Gideon McDuck was presented as Scrooge's younger brother (this was many years before The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck was published. Nowadays Gideon appears from time to time, but his relation to Scrooge is left out).
  • An issue from 1989 revealed that Doctor Strange had a little brother named Vic Strange. The excuse for why we'd never heard of him was that Vic had been hit by a car after an argument with Stephen, with his body placed in cryogenic stasis until medical science could advance far enough to save his life. That explains why Vic had never been seen before, but not why Strange had never mentioned him prior to this.
  • In the Doctor Who (Titan) Twelfth Doctor story, "The Swords of Kali", a character named Tiger Maratha is introduced who was supposedly a companion of the Fourth Doctor, only to be instantly killed off by the story's villains.
  • In DC's second Hawk and Dove series, Dawn Granger (the second Dove) was stated to be an only child. Flash forward to 2005: After Dawn was retconned to have actually been alive after her supposed death in Armageddon 2001 (a long story), she showed up in the pages of Teen Titans with a bratty younger sister named Holly Granger, who was apparently away living in England all this time. What made it stranger is that they tried to rectify this by explaining Dawn's parents were divorced to provide a Parent Trap-like story, when in the Hawk and Dove series they were shown to be happily married with no issues in their relationship. To make things even MORE confusing: Holly's personality, appearance, speech patterns (does she speak British slang or not?), and her age wound up being cases of Depending on the Writer and Depending on the Artist. It's no wonder they eventually killed her off. Shame they never gave her a solid backstory. DC did have several Crisis Crossovers since Dawn's "death" which rebooted history, including one her erstwhile partner, Hawk/Monarch/Extant was a major player in.
  • Hawkeye:
    • Trick Shot, the man who taught Clint how to use a bow and arrow, was introduced this way via a Retcon. He was created to fix the Plot Holes that sprung up from having Hawkeye learn archery from the Swordsman, who had never demonstrated any proficiency with a bow.
    • As was Barney, Clint's older brother (and later Evil Counterpart). Hawkeye had never mentioned having an older brother in any of his previous spotlight tales, but in The Avengers #64, Barney shows up out of nowhere, and the Avengers all already know him as a powerful underworld figure (though they don't learn he's related to Clint until the end of the issue).
  • When the Iron Man series was rebooted following Avengers Disassembled with Warren Ellis at the helm, suddenly Tony had an old mentor in Sal Kennedy and an old love interest (one important enough in Tony's life that he actually remembered her when she called) in Maya Hansen. Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan (central characters of Tony's supporting cast since six months after his first appearance) were nowhere to be found. Another reboot post-Avengers vs. X-Men introduced us to Arno Stark, who was revealed to be Howard and Maria Stark's biological son, turning Tony into an adopted child. Turns out he was incredibly ill and was hidden away from an alien.
  • Marvel Comics character Jessica Jones was created in 2001, but has been retconned into various parts of Marvel history, most notably hanging out with Peter Parker the day he was fatefully bitten by an irradiated spider. She later gained powers of her own and was mind-controlled into picking a fight with The Avengers, leading directly to a severe beating and coma. She recovered with the help of Jean Grey. All of the preceding "happened" before she even debuted in comics. What's more, her origin involved witnessing Daredevil's origin; she's been inserted into the fiction that far back. One Spider-Man comic goes to the point of using a panel from the '60s Amazing Spider-Man comic and pointing that she was one of the background characters featured in the panel.
  • General Glory, a Captain America parody from Justice League International. Justified since knowledge of his existence was actively suppressed by the government, leading most people to assume he was just a comic book character.
  • Phaidor in Pathfinder: Worldscape is introduced in Volume 3 where she is revealed to be the one that turned the city of Shareen into The Theocracy by converting its ruler Camilla to the Cult of Issus, which was made Shareen's state religion. Despite her importance to the background, she was present or alluded to in Volume 1 which showed Camilla's rise to power. This also retcons a minor bit of the backstory where it originally states Camilla pretended to be the same race as Phaidor's to empower the Cult of Issus.
  • Skyrocket of Power Company was introduced as a heroine from what would've been about the Silver Age that you simply hadn't heard about. Josiah Power hired her into the Power Company for "credibility"— Meaning that her being around brought the respect of guys like the Green Lantern.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Early in his career, Spidey fought a trio of criminal mercenaries called the Enforcers rather often, Fancy Dan, Montana, and the original Ox, the last little more than a Dumb Muscle thug named Raymond Bloch. Eventually, Ox left the other two to join Mr. Fear's Fellowship of Fear, where he was killed — or so it seemed — from a fall during a battle with Daredevil. It turned out, however, that Raymond had a twin brother named Ronald who was also a Dumb Muscle thug, but whom Raymond had never mentioned. Nonetheless, Ronald joined up with the other two members of the Enforcers to take his brother's place. (And stayed with them when Raymond turned up alive years later, working for The Kingpin.)
    • The limited series 'The Thousand' introduced another of Peter Parker's classmates who was there during the spider-bite incident. Unfortunately this was a super-smart sadistic bully, noted for making young Parker eat 'dog sick'. The nutbar figured things out and ate the now dead power-granting spider. Said bully became a body-hopping crazed killer. It got worse from there.
    • Original Sin introduced us to Cindy Moon, who would go on to become Silk. She was introduced as another person who was there at the experiment that gave Peter his powers and was even bitten by the same spider before it died. She was picked up by Ezekiel Sims in an attempt to protect her from Morlun and never bothered to tell anyone connected to him.
    • Carlie Cooper was supposedly good friends with Gwen Stacy and Gwen's dad Captain Stacy supposedly worked with Carlie's dad as well. This completely endeared her fandom and stopped the phrase "Mary Sue" from being associated with her.
    • Subverted with Clayton Cole, a 2014-debuting teenager who was also "introduced" as having been around during Peter's high school/early Spider-Man days. This mechanically gifted but otherwise chronically shy and introverted, home-schooled teen was one of Spidey's first and "biggest"note  fans from his wrestling days, and even helped (in his mind) spread the transitioning Superhero's popularity. Deciding he wants to be a hero, too (in part to be close to his idol, but also for fame soaking-up purposes), he creates his own costumed identity, complete with homemade sound-based powers, dubbing himself "Clash". Alas, his first meeting in-costume with Spidey didn't go so well, ending with Spidey declaring/treating the bumbling newbie as just another villain. The popularity his Clash persona ends up receiving going straight to his head coupled with Spidey spurning him causes Clayton to snap, culminating into the final "confrontation" at school, with Spidey unmasking the newly-dubbed "Creepy Clayton". This Trope is subverted in Clayton's case because, despite the trappings, no one actually remembers Clayton; for Peter, he was nothing more than an early career blip that largely resolved itself. Clayton also has more of a happier ending later in his life then many similar others, and despite his and Spidey's history, doesn't really become more than a minor supporting character in Peter's life.Details 
    • In Mark Waid and James Robinson's Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business, it is revealed that Spider-Man supposedly has a long-lost younger sister named Teresa. Supposedly, because it is unclear whether or not Teresa is really his sister since Mentallo was responsible for putting a perception filter effect on her.
    • Chip Zdarsky's Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man introduces Hophni Mason, the heroic brother of the Tinkerer. He's been repairing superhero tech for years, and counts characters like Ant-Man, The Falcon and even Iron Man among his clientele. Peter is completely surprised to learn of Hophni's existence, and wonders why his fellow heroes never told him about the guy.
    • The Janice Lincoln version of the Beetle is an interesting example. She was around as a minor villain for a little while, but wasn't revealed to be the daughter of Tombstone (a fairly prominent Spider-Man villain) until she started appearing in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man. The fact that we'd never seen her before was subtly lampshaded, as it turns out that her dad purposefully steered her away from the world of costumed supervillainy so that she could make even more money as an attorney.
  • Transformers:
    • Originally in Marvel's Transformers comic, Sparkplug Witwicky's teenage son was named Buster, and he was clearly supposed to be the same character as Spike Witwicky on the TV series. Four years later, Hasbro released the toy Fortress Maximus, who came with a figure named Spike Witwicky. So, in the comics, Buster was suddenly revealed to have an older brother named Spike who had been away from home all this time.
    • The Marvel comic also did a lot of this with introducing new characters whenever their toys came out. The Decepticon Pretenders are particularly obvious, because the six of them are claimed to have been there all along among Scorponok's crew.
    • Played straight in The Transformers: All Hail Megatron, because Scourge (who makes his IDW debut here) is part of the neutral dead universe faction of Transformers, despite all of them being established in a past miniseries, Scourge just shows up among the casualties, and the narration hints he was there all along.
  • The Transformers: Combiner Wars: Due to the new combiner toys getting shilled out, Blackjack and Off Road show up amongst the Stunticons just in time for their inevitable combination. While Off Road is addressed as being the new guy on the team, Blackjack's treated like he's been there all along, which is odd considering in issue 2 Blackjack was a member of the Secret Police assigned to the Stunticons.
  • Toni Ho from New Avengers (2015) is the daughter of Ho Yinsen, a prominent character from Iron Man's origin. The fact that she'd never been mentioned or seen before (despite Yinsen's son having appeared in the past) was explained as her parents having divorced when she was a kid, meaning she grew up in America while her dad stayed in Asia.
  • Angela Del Toro and Ava Ayala, the two most recent White Tigers, were introduced this way. When Angela was introduced, it was said she grew up viewing Luke Cage and Danny Rand as honorary uncles, but they never mentioned her before and her introduction also necessitated retconning her mother Awilda's death (she had been killed with her parents by Gideon Mace). They would later use that same retcon with Ava's introduction, showing that her older sister Awilda raised her.
  • In general, this is the case for many Canon Immigrant characters. For instance, when Melinda May made the jump from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the comics, she was introduced as a legendary S.H.I.E.L.D. operative that had apparently been around for years, despite never having been seen or mentioned in any prior comics. This specific case is slightly justified though, since S.H.I.E.L.D. is a massive organization that employs tens of thousands of agents across the globe. It makes sense that we've only ever met a small fraction of them in the actual books.
  • Black Panther:
    • Princess Shuri, T'Challa's little sister, was introduced as a young woman in a 2005 issue of the series, with everyone acting like she's always been there. The same writer also gave T'Challa an unnamed younger brother who was killed by Klaw, though unlike Shuri, he's almost never remembered or mentioned.
    • The Dora Milaje didn't exist until Christopher Priest's run, but are nonetheless treated as an indispensable part of the mythos at this point. Same goes for Hunter, T'Challa's adopted older brother.
    • Ramonda, the Queen Mother of Wakanda, didn't exist until 1989. However, unlike many other examples of this trope, there's a good reason why she wasn't seen or talked about beforehand. She had been kidnapped and imprisoned shortly after T'Chaka's death, causing everyone to assume she'd left the country to be with a new man.
  • The Black Order were introduced in Infinity as Thanos' elite generals, with the implication that they'd been around for quite some time. At one point, Supergiant even mentions that Thanos recruited her from an orphanage back when she was a child. The team had never appeared or been mentioned in any of the decades worth of previous stories featuring Thanos, and in fact, Thanos had traditionally been depicted as relying on others as little as possible when he could help it.
  • X-Men does this over and over and over again. Siblings like Sunfire's sister Sunpyre and Xavier's twin Cassandra Nova were always there. The "original" new team of all-new-all-different X-Men consisted of Vulcan, Petra, Sway and Darwin, who mostly died (two of them got better). Sage has always been Xavier's personal spy since she was the first mutant he met, but never did anything (nothing mutantly, anyway, she was an established if extreeeemely minor character for decades) during the regular stories. Elias Bogan has always been a long-lived influential figure of the Hellfire Club.
    • Cassandra Nova at least justified it - she was deliberately hiding her presence, and since she has Psychic Powers stronger than Charles' it's not inconceivable that she could.
    • The situation with Sunpyre was actually lampshaded. Immediately after meeting her, Jean Grey confusedly stated that she'd known Sunfire for years and he'd never mentioned having a little sister.
    • Sage was present in the comics for years, and her mutant and spy status is arguably a case of either this trope or Retcon: in fact, it was teased at off-and-on during several of Claremont's plot threads. The origin story of the New Mutants, for example, has her randomly help the New Mutants against Pierce and the Hellfire Club (her employers). Xavier does declare not to trust her, but we're never told if it's just to cover up her status as The Mole, or if he's afraid of a Becoming the Mask scenario. Anyway, that was 20 years before Sage's reveal as Xavier's spy.
  • The original Baron Zemo was introduced this way. He was stated to have been one of Captain America's deadliest foes back during World War II (he was even responsible for the death of Bucky Barnes), but his first published appearance was a Silver Age issue of The Avengers. Zemo is an interesting case. He was introduced in said Avengers issue and just a few months later appeared in an issue of Sgt. Fury (a flashback series set during WW2) to cement his place as a 40s era villain.
  • The Blue Marvel was introduced as a black Silver Age superhero who was forced to retire due to the institutional racism of the 60s. He ended up coming out of his exile during the 21st century to help The Avengers battle his old nemesis.
  • Parodied (?) with Deadpool as there have been a number of comics and mini-series that place him in various eras of the Marvel Universe that predate his creation— teaming up with Iron Fist and Luke Cage during their "Heroes for Hire" era, taking over for Iron Man during the "Demon in a Bottle" era, even showing up in the original Secret Wars and bonding with the Venom symbiote. However, it's quite hard to tell which of these stories (if any) have actually happened and which ones are simply What Ifs created in the spirit of fun (particularly when you remember that it's already been established that 1) Deadpool's mental instability has been known to mess with his memory and 2) he's aware that he's a comic book character, thus subject to Multiple-Choice Past).
  • Similarly, Sally Floyd was created for the mini series Generation M, after the events of House of M, with the reader being informed that she had multiple interviews with famous mutants and dated Angel. She was apparently a friend and confidante of X-Men such as Jubilee, Beak and Dani Moonstar, but was simply never seen or mentioned until now.
  • Union Jack was another Marvel character from the Silver Age that was retconned into the Golden Age. In fact, an actual Golden Age Marvel hero was retconned into being the first Union Jack but in a disguise.
  • DC Comics had several heroes that were created in the 70s and 80s, but were established as having been active during the 40s. Among them were Amazing-Man (chronologically, one of the earliest black superheroes) and Commander Steel, both of whom were established as having fought alongside the members of the JSA.
  • This happens to Barbara Gordon so much that's it's a Running Gag.
    • Katarina Armstrong, the second Spy Smasher introduced late into the first volume of Birds of Prey, was a college roommate and rival of Barbara's. She had never been referred to before that.
    • Munira Khairuddin, AKA Obscura, debuted more than halfway through Barbara's New 52 series and was also established as a former college classmate and rival, despite never having been mentioned prior.
    • Frankie Charles, who made her first appearance in the Burnside era of Batgirl (2011), had been an acquaintance Babs knew from her time in physiotherapy.
    • In the first issue of Batgirl (Rebirth), Barbara happens to run into a man named Kai, a childhood friend of hers who, once again, had not been seen or referred to prior.
  • Speaking of Rebirth, there's an odd variant of this trope with Batwoman. The character has been around since 2006, but didn't have any real ties to Batman, even after it was revealed in a later story that they were cousins. Suddenly, Detective Comics (Rebirth) establishes that Kate and Bruce were quite close when they were children, and that Kate even comforted Bruce at his parents' funeral.
  • Rebirth also establishes that the New 52 Wally West is not a Race Lifted version of the original Wally West. The original Wally immediately recognizes Wally II and states that the boy is his cousin, implying that he (and by extension, his father, Daniel West) existed in the previous continuity as well. At no point in any of the decades worth of prior Flash stories did Wally ever mention having a cousin who was also named Wally.
  • Robin Series: Dodge puts together a group of villains who all hold heavy grudges against Robin for his revenge plot against Robin but of them only Dodge and Tapeworm had ever appeared before.
  • The Sentry was a character Marvel introduced in the 2000s, yet he was supposed to be a famous hero who had been around since the 60s or earlier. They explained this by saying that a massive mind wipe had erased everyone's memories of him.
  • Wonder Woman: When Ferdinand showed up he was purported to by one of Diana's oldest friends despite never having a mention in the prior decades worth of Wondy stories. This was universally forgiven though since the sweetheart vegetarian master chef minotaur was a beloved addition to her supporting cast.

    Fan Works 
  • Ash Ketchum's younger sister Chibi and twin brother Dash in the Pokémon fic Guardians of Pokémon. Lampshaded as far back as the first chapter.
  • In My Immortal, most of the Harry Potter characters appear to have met Ebony sometime prior to the story. Word Of Satan even tries to explain why Draco is Out of Character by saying that he already knew Ebony. Oddly, averted with Harry himself, creating one of many continuity problems (apparently, Harry was in Ebony's "goff" band before they first met).
  • My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic:
    • Turns out, the second main antagonist of My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic II is Cadance's brother Fratello, who we never heard of before. Not to mention that Equestria seemingly has been invaded by robots around 15 years ago, of which no one has a memory of.
    • Another example would be Krysta's adopted son Twink, who suddenly appears with no foreshadowing in My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic II, Episode 1. When asked about why he suddenly appears, Dakari-King Mykan answered "New characters get thrown in all the time (everyone knows that)".
  • Lampshaded in the commentary on The Prayer Warriors Battle With the Witches, when the protagonist, Michael, is referred to as a "dear friend" and follower of Jerry; the commentary says "If he's so dear, why is he only appearing now?" Then again, it's a less extreme example than most cases, since he was earlier shown carrying out Jerry's orders to execute Mary for adultery in The Evil Gods Part 1.
  • Lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh: The Other Abridged Movie, an adaptation of Toei's Yu-Gi-Oh! movie:
    Yugi: Those bullies are being mean to Gary Stu!
    Joey: Who the hell is Gary Stu?
    Yugi: I don't know, but apparently, he's my best friend.
    • In the original, Yugi never claimed to know Shougo (the character Gary Stu is based on) very well. They were just neighbors.
  • Many crossovers written so that the two stories are set in the same universe frequently contain this as a method of bringing the cast of the two series together.
  • More than one Mary Sue is introduced this way in fanfiction.
  • Daria fandom has Veronica, the third Morgendorffer sister. Her original story had this trope Played for Drama—Daria couldn't remember her, but everyone acted like she'd always been there, leading to a mystery of whether it was an elaborate trick or some kind of Laser-Guided Amnesia. Other fans then started including her in stories, often with the joke that Daria literally can't remember her from day to day. Otherwise, she's just an added element for AU fics.
  • Played with in "The Only Way to Go". Captain Kanril Eleya is aware of the real story of the Battle of Goralis and was based out of Deep Space 9 at the time of the battle, but she hadn't been added to The War of the Masters yet so she didn't appear in Faces In The Flames. Rather than retcon Faces, the authors justified her absence with her having been dealing with a problem with the Tzenkethi when everything blew up.
  • The Shadow Alicorn in Princess Trixie Sparkle is Luna's best friend from infancy. They were inseparable as foals, yet he doesn't exist in canon. This is lampshaded when Luna asks why that Shadow hasn't seen her since she came back from the moon. It's also shown that Luna kept Shadow a secret from Celestia.
  • Lampshaded and Played for Laughs in Sonic X: Dark Chaos when Eric the Hedgehog shows up out of nowhere and Chris asks who he is.
    Chris: You guys never told me there was another hedgehog like Sonic on your planet!
    Amy: Yeah, and there's a reason for that.
    Knuckles: Believe us Chris, you're lucky he didn't get teleported to your world with us last time.
  • The Kimagure Orange Road fanfic Ordinary World nonchalantly introduces us to Kyosuke's cousin, and Akane and Kazyua's older brother, Musoka. However, things are not as they seem. Musoka really IS Akane and Kazuya's older brother. He's also an extremely powerful telepath that can implant and remove memories. The reason we've never seen him before is because he removed his existence from the character's memories, and what we've seen is what they remember (since Kyosuke is, as always, narrating the story from the future). It gets ever stranger, since Musoka creates the character of the Master of ABCB from whole-cloth and pretends to be him; meaning he's actually been there all along!
  • In Daring Do and the Journey to the Center of the Earth, Gummy appears halfway through with absolutely no explanation and is treated as if he was with the main characters all along. In this case, Gummy is an established character in the show, but had not previously been mentioned in the fanfic at all.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Despicable Me 2 Gru does this for the major villain. Justified as he was a villain twenty years ago, and had faked his own death.
  • Disney Direct-to-Video sequels seem to do this quite a bit:
    • Lady and the Tramp 2 does this with the junkyard dogs. Tramp was apparently best friends with Buster and possibly part of their gang, but Tramp is shown to be a loner during the original film.
    • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride introduces an entire pride of evil lionesses that supposedly were present during Scar's reign and supported him. They look different enough from Simba's lionesses that it can't be said they were always there, and besides, there are a couple males among them. Meanwhile, Simba's mother Sarabi does the opposite and disappears off the face of the earth without even a passing "she left/died" explanation. Go figure.
    • In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, "Ursula's crazy sister" Morgana is introduced as the Big Bad. Of course, she was never shown in the first movie; there wasn't even a clue to Ursula having a sister, and the old characters already know her. In fact, some fans believe that the only reason Morgana was created, is that Pat Carroll wanted to return for the sequel, despite Ursula being long dead.
  • Lampshaded in Penguins of Madagascar when the Big Bad Dave makes his big entrance; none of the penguins has a clue as to who he is.
  • Totally Spies! The Movie has Jerry's assistant Tad and Alex's pet pig Oinky. Since the movie is a prequel to the series, their absence in the series is explained with Tad getting arrested and Oinky going to live at an animal shelter. Though Tad is replaced by an agent named Vincent, whose absence in the series is not explained, Oinky would later return in season 6.
  • Toy Story 2. When Woody meets Wheezy the Penguin from Toy Story 2, his reaction is why he's up on the shelf with him instead of being away to get his squeaker fixed. Justified in that either Andy or Molly may have gotten Wheezy either for Christmas or their birthdays between the first two movies, maybe even for the Christmas they were celebrating at the end of the first one. After all, Buster and Mrs. Potato Head were also Christmas gifts at the end of the first one… Oddly enough, Woody and Buzz do mention being friends with Wheezy prior to Toy Story 2 — in an "out of character" interview with the characters about the "filming" of the first movie.
  • The Transformers: The Movie notoriously killed the beloved cast of the cartoon (traumatizing many children in the progress) largely to sell new toys of never-before seen new characters.
  • In Cars, real-life NASCAR driver Richard Petty played the veteran racer Strip Weathers, who retired at the end of the film. Cars 3 introduces his nephew Cal, played by Petty's real son and fellow racer Kyle, as Lightning McQueen's friendly rival. What makes it feel odd is that he too is now on the verge of retirement, implying that he and McQueen have a long-standing relationship, and also has a very minor role.
  • Scooby-Doo! and the Reluctant Werewolf gives Shaggy a girlfriend in the form of a woman named Googie. Granted, this film also has Shaggy as professional racecar driver, making it even weirder than the other two Scooby movies of the time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Batman Returns (1992), Max Shreck has apparently been one of Gotham City's most famous residents for quite some time ("Here's a man who needs no introduction, he's given so much"), having been around long enough to have established the town's most successful department store, become more wealthy than anyone except Bruce Wayne himself, gotten a mayoral candidate elected, and gained enough influence to propose the construction of a new electrical power plant. So it's strange in retrospect that he apparently didn't exist at the time of the 1989 film, particularly since Gotham's 200th anniversary festival budget was seriously short on funds and he would probably have been the most philanthropic contributor. Shreck's Department Store is arguably an even more blatant New Guy: if we are to assume that the cathedral entrance on the opposite side of the city square, which we see behind the Penguin as he escapes on his helicopter umbrella, is to the same cathedral in which the Joker hid out at the climax of the previous film (and, at least according to Fanon, it is), the store is so big and so gaudy that it wouldn't previously have been missed. Of course, it's possible that, in-universe, Batman Returns is taking place many years after the original film; however, as all the returning cast members look to be about the same age as before (which they are, of course), that isn't likely.note 
  • A few characters who were in Divergent but got left out of the film adaptation - such as Uriah and Marlene, appear in The Divergent Series: Insurgent along with the rest of the Dauntless. As the first film mainly focused on Tris and her three friends, we can assume they were there but we just didn't see them.
  • The Godfather:
    • Frank Pentangelli in Part II is supposed to be a high level member of the Corleone family since the beginning even though he doesn't appear at all in the first movie. The reason he was created was because Clemenza who was in the Part I and was supposed to be in Part II couldn't be used because the actor playing him did not return.
    • The third film has the previously unmentioned Don Altobello who is not simply an important mafiosa but a very long term, trusted ally of the Corleones - he is Connie's godfather.
  • Halo: Nightfall introduced a never-before-seen Covenant species, the Yonhet, despite taking place after the original Halo trilogy. In this case, 343 Industries somewhat covered their tracks by introducing them as part of an entire "Covenant Fringe", a collection of Covenant-allied species too weak to have seen military action against the humans during the Human-Covenant war, and too small in population to be of much notice to the core Covenant races.
  • Highlander II: The Quickening just sort of... drops a new Big Bad, General Katana, into MacLeod's backstory and expects the viewer to roll with it. Hell, it drops an entire new backstory into MacLeod's backstory (that MacLeod is actually a space alien who has been politically exiled by Katana from planet Zeist) and acts like it all fits together despite the new backstory being almost completely incompatible with any of the details from the original film.
  • Highlander: Endgame had two major examples: Jacob Kell, Connor's former childhood friend who betrayed him and murdered his mother, and Kate/Faith, Duncan's Immortal ex-wife. Made even worse by the fact that Highlander: The Series had previously stated in no uncertain terms that Duncan never had a wife.
  • Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday introduces Jason's half-sister Diana. No mention had been made about living Voorhees family members in preceding Friday the 13th films.
  • Lampshaded and parodied in Last Action Hero.
    • The Show Within a Show film franchise, Jack Slater, shows Arnold's character rushing to save his daughter from a previous marriage. The main character, a "real" young boy who has been sucked into the movie, points out that Slater has never mentioned his daughter before and is annoyed that the filmmakers were introducing a new character into the franchise in this manner.
    • Lampshaded again, in a different way, when we meet F. Murray Abraham, who in the Slater verse is introduced as one of Slater's old cop buddies. Danny correctly pegs him as a traitorous bad guy because he's played by F. Murray Abraham, though presumably also because he's never heard of his character either.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron introduces Dr. Helen Cho, a renowned Korean scientist who serves as a medical and scientific ally to the team. She's close friends with both Bruce and Tony, but like Alexander Pierce below, she is neither seen nor mentioned in any of the previous movies.
    • Alexander Pierce is introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a high-ranking member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury's close personal friend. Prior to his debut, he'd never been mentioned in The Avengers or any of the other MCU films. Word of God from the creators was that this is one of the major reasons Jasper Sitwell was chosen to be a HYDRA mole. Most of the double agents in the movie were new characters that hadn't appeared in any other films, and the filmmakers felt it'd be a cop-out to introduce such a massive conspiracy and not have it involve any established characters.
      • Pierce's situation seems especially odd that in that it appears he's Fury's superior (or at least the politically-appointed head of SHIELD while Fury is the operational leader), whereas The Avengers implies that Fury reported directly to the Council. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. further confuses the issue because a flashback established Pierce had been in a high-ranking position years earlier.
    • Thor: Ragnarok:
      • Due to having become a fugitive after the events of the previous movie, Heimdall has been replaced as the guardian of the Bifrost by a new character named Skurge. Despite never having appeared in the previous films, Skurge has apparently been around for a while, and claims to have fought alongside Thor in the past. It's handwaved by having Thor not recall the battle in question, which makes sense given all the crazy adventures he's gone on by this point.
      • Justified case with Hela. She's Odin's eldest child and Thor and Loki's older sister, but all evidence of her existence was covered up by Odin after she went rogue and had to be imprisoned. Throughout the movie, she's shown to be bitter about the fact that nobody remembers her.
  • O in Men in Black 3 never appeared in the first two films but apparently had been working at MIB for at least as long as K had.
  • Done deliberately and repeatedly in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with King Arthur's entourage growing and shrinking exactly as needed for the current scene being played. Special mentions go to Patsy, to Brother Maynard and his disciples, and of course to Arthur's entire army that appears in the very last scene and is implied to have been there off-screen throughout the entire movie.
  • The Room has a really lazy example. With about 20 minutes left in the movie, a new character, Steven (whose name is mentioned only in the credits) suddenly appears and becomes deeply involved in the plot. Presumably, we're not supposed to notice that he suddenly appeared from nowhere without an introduction. Word of God is that Steven is supposed to be a replacement for the psychologist character Peter (whose actor left the production), but the audience is given no hint of this; indeed, Steven looks nothing like Peter, he doesn't even dress like him.
  • The Smurfs. Gutsy, because Hefty wasn't Scottish enough.
  • The Smurfs 2 introduces Hackus and Vexy, two artificial Smurfs created by Gargamel. The fact that they weren't in the previous film(s) is justifiable, as they hadn't been created yet. What isn't justifiable is that the movie never actually introduces them — we just meet them being up to some hijinx as though who they were had already been established.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
      • Khan meets Chekov and says he knows him because "I never forget a face." Which means that Chekov was on ship during "Space Seed," a first-season episode, despite the character not appearing on screen until the second season. Numerous explanations have been thrown about (he was on the ship, just not as bridge crew; Chekov was the officer in charge of delivering the supplies and food to Ceti Alpha V; an obvious joke about Chekov occupying a latrine Khan wanted to use), but ultimately it comes down to this trope.
      • Another example from Wrath of Khan is Doctor Carol Marcus, Kirk's old flame. They even had a son together. McCoy's aware of her too (presumably from back in the day). And yet we're only hearing about her now, after all these years. Justified, however, in that Kirk slept with a ton of women. (And assuming David is the same age as his actor, Merritt Butrick, he would have been born, and Kirk and Carol's relationship would have been, several years before the original series, and Kirk explicitly states he "stayed away," as Carol wanted, after David was born.)
      • Some have speculated that Carol Marcus was the "blonde lab technician" that Gary Mitchell set Kirk up with, mentioned in the second pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before".
      • To some extent, this is also par for the course in the Star Trek universe, especially with the original series. We didn't know who Spock's parents were until they'd literally come onboard, we didn't know he had a half brother until Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Sulu was never mentioned to have a daughter until we see her serving as the helmswoman on the Enterprise-B in Star Trek: Generations''.
    • Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, as a replacement for Saavik. The first drafts of the script did have Saavik in that part, but the writers ultimately decided that having Saavik betray the crew of the Enterprise and frame them for the assassination of Gorkon just didn't make sense for her character. (This is something that's been disputed by Nicholas Meyer. While he wanted it to be Saavik, but Roddenberry leaned on him a bit because he didn't believe it'd fit the character. Meyer may still disagree, seeing as how he came up with Saavik to begin with.)
    • Star Trek: Generations: Kirk's ultimate fantasy world in the Nexus involves the one true love of his life... who we've naturally never heard of before despite Yeoman Rand, Carol Marcus, or even Edith Keeler now being quite viable options for that role. In fairness, the original series made it plain that Kirk had plenty of old girlfriends, and he made quite a few new ones along the way (this is Kirk, after all). The real surprise is that David Marcus was his ONLY child. (Explained in the novelization of the movie; what Kirk actually did was experience similar fantasies with all of the women he'd truly been in love with.). They try to Hand Wave this, saying that Kirk retired from Starfleet at some point between Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and returned to Starfleet once they broke up.
    • Captain Picard remembers the Borg Queen when she's first introduced in Star Trek: First Contact. Could be justified by the fact he was a Borg for a while, but that doesn't explain why he doesn't mention this vital piece of information about a dangerous enemy onscreen, and Data seemingly knows nothing about her despite the fact that he presumably would have read any report Picard made after the incident. They attempt to handwave this by implying that Picard had forgotten about her until they're reintroduced in the film.
  • Star Wars: Rogue One is a prequel to A New Hope about how the plans for the original Death Star were stolen, and introduces Director Orson Krennic of the Imperial Security Bureau as a primary player in the Death Star's development, butting heads with both Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader himself during the film. Justified since he's killed near the end of the movie and has his position in charge of the Death Star taken by Tarkin, explaining why he didn't appear in A New Hope.
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines introduced Kate Brewster, a childhood friend of John Connor, whom he last saw prior to the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and who becomes one of the leaders of the Resistance following Judgment Day, as well as Connor's wife. The previous two films in the series never mentioned her.
  • War for the Planet of the Apes features a love interest for Blue Eyes named Lake. She's treated as though she has always been a member of the colony, even though she wasn't seen in the previous movie. Red is also said to have been one of Koba's coconspirators in the previous film, but like Lake, he didn't actually appear in it.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • When debating how to break out Magneto, Wolverine casually announces he "knows a guy." Said guy turns out to be Quicksilver, who has not appeared or been mentioned in any of the six previous X-Men movies.note  Justified though if he met him in the decades since the last movie.
      • The future portion of the film fully incorporates the idea from First Class which established that Charles and Mystique grew up together. It can seem a bit jarring to see Patrick Stewart's Xavier sadly recounting how he once loved Mystique and considered her his sister, when there is absolutely no indication at any point in the original trilogy that the two were ever close or even knew one another.
    • Even earlier than that, X-Men: The Last Stand introduced Dr. Hank "Beast" McCoy, a mutant politician who everyone at the Xavier Institute (other than the latecomer Logan) knows intimately, even though he was never shown or mentioned in the first two movies. X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past rectified the issue somewhat, clarifying that Hank was a student from the Institute's early days who stayed behind when Xavier shut the school down during the Vietnam War.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse is set in the 1980s and has a teenage Nightcrawler join the X-Men even though X2: X-Men United which was set 20 Minutes into the Future had them meet him for the first time as an adult. Though Word of God has said the time travel in Days of Future Past has made the third and fourth movies non-canon, which could mean the same for X2.
  • GoldenEye sets up Alec Trevelyan as "006" and one of James Bond's oldest friends, in spite of never being mentioned by name, and once by number, in the entire series. Then again, GoldenEye was supposed to be a soft reboot of a franchise which was never big on continuity in the first place (Trevelyan is only slightly more conspicuous in his sudden appearance as Countess "Tracy" Bond is in her lack of direct mention), so it might be justified.

    Literature 
  • Brotherband introduces two important concepts to Skandian society: the Andomal and the Maktig. Neither is mentioned in Ranger's Apprentice, despite Skandians being prominently featured.
  • Halt's twin brother, introduced in book 8 of Ranger's Apprentice. Justified in that the brother lived in another country and Halt actively avoided telling people about his childhood, as shown in book 11.
  • Grave Peril, the third book of The Dresden Files, introduces Michael Carpenter, Knight of the Cross and Harry's longtime friend from at least two years before the books started. He has never been mentioned in any of the short stories, books, or flashbacks set before Grave Peril.
  • In Half Blood Prince, Cormac McLaggen is introduced and tries out for Keeper against Ron. McLaggen provides an explanation for his absence from the Quidditch trials in the previous book: He was sick in the hospital wing at the time after eating doxy eggs on a bet, also providing his Establishing Character Moment.
    • There are some movie-only examples of this. For example, Lavender Brown isn't in the first five films (well, sort of), but she suddenly materializes in the sixth film as a major supporting character.
      • Though one notable exception is Bill Weasley, who doesn't appear until the seventh film, where he and Harry act like they've never met before.
      • The seventh movie has a kind of halfway version. When Dobby shows up, he and Ron act like they've met before. In fact, although Dobby had previously appeared in the second film, he and Ron had never met before — in the movies, that is. They had met before in the books.
  • Brisingr introduces Nasuada and Ajihad's culture. Not only had they never been previously mentioned (and none of Nasuada's point-of-view segments from the previous book so much as alluded to her culture), but the book tries to act as though they are well known throughout Algaesia and have been part of the Varden. Despite this contradicting what the first book said about nobody knowing where Ajihad came from.
  • Played with in the Discworld book Interesting Times, which reintroduced Twoflower and introduced Twoflower's daughters, Pretty Butterfly and Lotus Blossom. Rincewind insists that Twoflower hasn't mentioned having children and that the whole thing just came out of left field, but Twoflower keeps trying to play the whole thing off, insisting that he "must have mentioned it."
  • From the Star Wars Expanded Universe
    • It plays with this in Legacy of the Force with Brisha Syo. We know she's Lumiya. We really do. Despite this, Mara assumes she's Luke and Lumiya's daughter. Since Mara and Luke have each other's memories from their Force bond, Lumiya barely kissed Luke, and that TIE crash would most likely have led to a miscarriage, why Mara would even think that only raises even more questions. That said, Word of God says that even if they use a character from the comics, they are free to accept or reject anything that took place in said comics.
    • By contrast, it's played straight and lampshaded in Invincible. Tenel Ka has cousins? Okay, so Ta'a Chume secretly had more than one son, we'll give her the benefit of the doubt and accept that she managed to hide her pregnancy. And...Tenel Ka has cousins? But the fact that nobody knows about them is what makes them so useful. And, wait, Tenel Ka has cousins?
    • It's likely that Kevin J. Anderson left a number of Luke's original twelve students nameless and description-less in Jedi Academy Trilogy for this very reason. At the time of the Legends continuity reboot in 2014, at least one was never positively identified.
  • The Lion King comics and books are bad at this. Many characters, such as Tama, Tojo, and Malka, appear but are never referenced in other material ever again. Very often they're not given any reason for popping up and are just always presumed to be there. A particularly noticeable example is Mtoto, who is Simba's cousin according to a magazine. Sarabi had sisters once, but they were scrapped very early in development. In the final product Nala and Simba are the only two cubs in the Pride. Other examples include the cubs introduced in Nala's Dare, which apparently were Nala's friends during Scar's reign but are never even implied to exist in the film. In The Lion King Nala was the only cub in the pride after Simba left.
  • In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series:
    • The Roman Aspects were not mentioned at all in the original Quintet... however The Lost Hero justifies this in that the Greek and Roman Aspects do not get along at all, hence the need for them to remain hidden from each other. In fact, a clever reader can point out that the only ones explaining the roman aspects are, of course, Romans, and that the Romans felt this way about the Greeks. (Since Lupa's not one to tell!)
    • Related, Jason Grace. Thalia didn't mention having a little brother for several reasons, among them being that the events surrounding his disappearance were quite traumatic for her and that she thought him dead until this series began.
  • The Nancy Drew series (all versions) frequently introduced characters (usually just for the duration of the current book) as relatives/old friends of Bess, George, Nancy's father, or Nancy herself, essentially explaining their absence by having them live far away.
  • The opening chapter of Redshirts by John Scalzi plays with this from the New Guy's perspective. This week's Red Shirt thinks about the time his father saved the captain's life, and then realises that up until the captain mentioning it just now, there has been no reference to this happening the whole time he was on the ship.
  • In the Darkwing Duck spinoff book "The Silly Canine Caper", Darkwing speaks as though he knows the villainess Anna Matronic and she also seems to be familiar with him but how they met never comes up.
  • Peter David's Star Trek: New Frontier series had Commander Kat Mueller appear suddenly several novels in. She's introduced as the Executive Officer of the Excalibur and a former lover of Calhoun's, with her earlier on-scene absence described as being due to her taking the night shift.
    • One could say this was justified, as she was actually introduced as the Executive Officer of the Grissom in Calhoun's Captain's Table story, along with Romeo Takahashi, Mick Gold, and Doc Villers, the former two of which worked night shift on the Excalibur before it blew up, and all four work under Shelby (and eventually under Mueller) on the Trident after.
  • In the Twilight series, we hear briefly about the Volturi, mainly that they and Carlisle are on friendly terms, but that he left because he did not agree with their diet of humans. Edward speaks pretty well of them, when he tells Bella about them. In the next book and all books after, it's revealed that the Volturi are a highly corrupt organization, and the Cullens are all highly suspicious of them. This also leads to a case of Remember Those New Rules, since it's not until then that it's mentioned that there are any sort of laws or governing of vampires.
    • In New Moon, we find out that the teenagers of La Push had been turning into werewolves ever since the Cullens first settled down in Forks. This is not present in Twilight (when nothing is done to stop James, Victoria, and Laurent from killing people in Forks) or Midnight Sun (when nothing is done to stop Peter and Charlotte from killing people in Forks).
      • The James, Victoria, and Laurent example is only in the film version. In the book, they never kill any of the residents of Forks.
  • In the Warrior Cats book Moonrise, six cats were sent to deal with the mountain lion, Sharptooth. The Clan cats meet three of them: Talon, Bird, and Rock, who explain that the other three had been killed by Sharptooth. In the next book, the Clans return to the Tribe, and there's a fourth cat, Jag, listed as being one of the ones originally sent to fight Sharptooth, with no explanation as to why we didn't see him in the last book (though the characters do recognize him and say they'd met him before).
  • James Bond novel High Time to Kill introduces one Roland Marquis, a distinguished RAF member and Bond's rival since his studies in Eton. This is actually the first time that anyone from Bond's days of studying had been introduced.
  • The Wheel of Time: Cadsuane is never mentioned until she appears in the sixth book, even though she is Famed In-Story. To be fair, the Aes Sedai are known for being extremely secretive even among their own members, and Cadsuane has a history of embarrassing many sisters who would as soon not talk about her unless needed.
  • One of the prequels to The Belgariad introduces Belmakor and Belsamber, two previously-unmentioned disciples of Aldur who both committed suicide shortly after the War of the Gods. Their deaths help explain how Mallorea ended up being such a huge blindspot for Aldur's disciples, as Belmakor and Belsambar would have been sent to gather reconnaissance in that region if they'd lived.
    • The disciples were mentioned in the series proper as having died in the distant past, though the details were not given until the prequels were published. Each map of the area where the disciples lived shows broken-down towers labeled with their names alongside the other disciples' towers.

    Music 
  • Brave Saint Saturn's first album was a Rock Opera about fictionalized versions of the band's three members as astronauts. Their second album was a sequel, but a new member (Andy Verdecchio) had joined the band by then, so the liner notes wrote about him as a crew member as if he had been on the mission from the beginning. For the third album in the series, Andy was just as abruptly written out of the crew—this time, he was a cosmonaut on a completely different spacecraft.
  • Queen: Freddie Mercury (1946-1991) didn't give interviews too frequently, but he did grant at least ten per year since he became famous in '74. Very often, he was asked about his favorite singer(s) and answers used to include Robert Plant and, depending on the era and occasion, people like Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Montserrat Caballe, etc. His band mates, his former girlfriends and boyfriends, biographers (official and unofficial), people who worked with him (producers, engineers, guest musicians) were also asked about Freddie's favorite singers and more and more names came including Prince, David Bowie, etc. Paul Rodgers had never been mentioned as one of his influences until late 2004 when Brian May and Roger Taylor decided to go on tour with him as "Queen + Paul Rodgers." Then, he'd suddenly become "Freddie's favorite singer" and had apparently been all along. When the partnership ended, Freddie's alleged admiration for Mr. Rodgers was never mentioned again.
  • "But do you recall/The most famous reindeer of all?" Back when the song was written, this trope was in full effect, as Rudolph was created by the songwriter. Several Rankin Bass specials and light-up lawn decorations later, it could be argued that Rudolph is, in fact, the most famous reindeer of all - or at least the most distinctive, since all the other reindeer have no real character traits. The line in the song itself is pretty funny—the singer takes for granted that "You know Dasher and Dancer...." So why would there be any question of the listener recalling the most famous one?
  • Tag Team's first single "Whoomp! (There It Is)" (which was also the first track from their first album) has the line "Tag Team back again".
  • Vanilla Ice's first hit "Ice Ice Baby" has the line "Ice is back with my brand new invention". Somewhat justified in that the song was originally the B-side to "Play That Funky Music" (so he was "back" from the A-side).
  • The Backstreet Boys' "We've Got It Goin' On" derives its title from a line in the chorus, "We've got it goin' on for years". While this line would definitely ring true over 20 years later, when it was released that wasn't quite the case, as it was their debut single.

    Podcasts 
  • Edith invokes this in Interstitial Actual Play episode 2, where the party has to pretend to be students in High School Musical. When Ms. Darbis asks her to introduce herself to the class, she just claims that she's been going to the school for the past four years. Everyone buys it.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • A characteristic of TNA, particularly whenever Russo has the book, especially in 2007. The most obvious cases being Samoa Joe's girlfriend, the entire Latino Nation, SoCal Val, Matt Morgan, PAC and Peyton Banks. A sufficiently hardcore pro wrestling fan might have known a few of these people already, indeed many of the live audience members seemed to, but to those who only watched TNA they just showed up with no fanfare yet were put into positions of focus.
  • When CMLL's deal with Ring of Honor became official, three luchadors were sent by the former to compete in the latter's World Six Man Tag Tournament, the legendary Último Guerrero, the up and coming Hechicero and, as Kevin Kelly called him, "our old pal Okumura". Again, a hardcore pro wrestling fan probably did know Shigeo Okumura, but there wasn't any reason for anyone just watching ROH to know who he was.
  • Kane was introduced as The Undertaker's heretofore unknown brother along with the backstory that one of them was responsible for the fire that killed their parents.

    Radio 
  • Adventures in Odyssey introduced the eccentric mailman Wooton Bassett this way in "Welcoming Wooton," and to a certain extent, the entire Washington family (most notably Ed) in "The Toy Man." The latter was a little jarring, given that Ed Washington went from not being a character to the conveniently dilemma-solving manager of the new Whit's End in a single episode.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000 has a rather extreme example with the Necrons and their C'Tan masters, who when introduced were not only major parts of the galaxy's backstory and indirectly responsible for some pretty significant things (namely the transformation of the Warp and its denizens from pure Chaotic Neutral to malicious Chaotic Evil, and the creation of the Orks and the Eldar), but had managed to hide on numerous planets undetected and undiscovered for approximately sixty million years. They are also apparently ancient enemies of the Eldar, despite no Eldar ever mentioning them before.
    • Also standard procedure whenever new characters and units get added to the game. Some of them manage to avert it, particularly in the case of new Tau units (as they, unlike most other factions, are still regularly producing new technology), but it's more common for the trope to be played straight instead. When this happens, expect older pieces of lore to receive a Rewrite in order to include them. Probably the most dramatic is the Swarmlord, who when introduced was suddenly present and in command for every decisive battle in the Tyranid wars.

    Theatre 
  • In Henry IV, Part 2, Pistol is introduced as a long-established member of Falstaff's criminal/military crew, despite not having even been mentioned in Part 1.
  • In Macbeth, Macbeth hires two murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance, but three show up to do the deed. Since the Third Murderer is of no real consequence, this may be a case of textual corruption. Alternately, Shakespeare just needed a reason for the murderers to talk about what they're doing rather than just doing it, and a new guy who doesn't know what's happening is a convenient device. Another reading of it is that the third murderer is Macbeth himself in disguise, as he is so paranoid he has to see the act being done before his own eyes. Finally, there is at least one performing group whose interpretation of the above is to have the third murderer kill off the first two. Dead men tell no tales.

    Theme Parks 
  • Disney Theme Parks:
    • Walt Disney World's 2010-2014 expansion of Fantasyland (aptly dubbed New Fantasyland) is treated this way in the official tie-in material, explained as always having been there, though unbeknownst to us due to a recently-broken curse placed upon it.
    • A similar mythology was used for the opening of Mickey's Toontown in Disneyland: the "neighborhood" had been there since before the opening of the park, but humans weren't allowed in until 1993.

    Web Comics 
  • Asperchu parodies this with the introduction of Groovan.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Carol was previously known only as a reporter, but she was revealed in the New and Old Flames storyline to be Sarah's sister, which was understandably already known by all of the main characters, but the reveal itself was sloppily lampshaded.
  • Most secondary characters in Frivolesque are introduced in this fashion, most notably Delphine, Marie-Neige roommate, who is mentioned for the first time in chapter 4 but has been supposedly living with her for years.
  • The first chapter of Gaia spends most of its time setting up the five main student character, Ilias, Lilith, Alissa, Ryn, and Sandril, before the Red Hall attack kicks off the main plot. At the start of the second, Ilias gets a missive from the other four, and asks his mother about a "Zoltan," who decided to move, and "Aaret," killed in the attack. There was no mention of either in the first chapter, in which the main five seem a fairly tight-knit clique, nor are there any obvious candidates among the miscellaneous students.
  • Gorgeous Princess Creamy Beamy was well into its second story arc when the character of Cheesecake Saint Cherrywell was introduced. Played for laugh, since she explained being disguised as someone else and having the flu during her earlier appearances, which is why we've never seen her at all before.
  • A particularly poignant example can be found in Least I Could Do, when a guy named Noel knocks on Rayne's door. Noel, as the audience is told, is actually Rayne's best bud and wingman from years back, despite never being mentioned prior in the comic's run. Rayne initially acts grumpy about the sudden reappearance, but it doesn't take long at all for Noel to replace John as the number-two character in the strip.
  • Parodied in Penny Arcade with Jim, who was apparently part of a Power Trio with Gabe and Tycho (complete with being The Kirk to Gabe and Tycho's McCoy and Spock). Unfortunately they never really mentioned him before (or since!) and by the point he's first mentioned, he'd been dead for six years.
  • Dale in Questionable Content was established as a regular at Coffee of Doom in his first appearance. This one feels much more natural than other examples of the trope can be, though, as the fact that actual customers are rarely shown in scenes set at Coffee of Doom despite the business being fairly successful had previously been lampshaded and most of his subsequent appearances involve interactions with a character who explicitly didn't know the main cast beforehand.
  • Justified in Schlock Mercenary. The Toughs are a mercenary company anywhere between several dozen and a few hundred strong, not all of them identified. Introducing a new character can and has been as simple as giving one of them a name and a job that lets the audience know what he does.

    Web Original 
  • JonTron has Rockington (a large rock with a face drawn on it), who appears briefly in the intro to one episode, with Jon talking to him like they're well acquainted. The next time he's mentioned, Jon somehow managed to lose him.
  • Princess Amira was introduced in the Neopets Lost Desert Plot as being the eldest daughter of the late King Coltzan III, who inherited the throne of Sakhmet after his murder. But previously, Princess Vyssa was his only child and according to her Neopedia article (written prior to the Lost Desert Plot), she was his heir. Amira's sudden appearance was explained by her having been away on official business before.
  • The writer of the Noob is trying to have the different media both complementary and potentially independent from each other. One of the consequences is that a medium sometimes has a character formally introduced in another just appear with everyone already knowing them.
  • Parodied in Ultra Fast Pony. After the girls get invited to Twilight's brother's wedding, Applejack actually interrupts the theme song to complain about how he's never been mentioned before.
    Rarity: Twilight, you can't just randomly decide that you've always had a brother!
    Twilight: What?! I have always had a brother, I just haven't talked about him until now.
  • Sailor Moon Abridged lampshades this with Serena's friend Molly's friend Katie, the Victim of the Week when Nephlite is first introduced.
    Molly: I'm really worried about Katie. She's just not the same person as before. Even though she's never been mentioned before, and will never be mentioned again, she's really important to me now.
  • vanilla.ice forgot to formally introduce Robert Edward O. Speedwagon during the Phantom Blood spoofs in Vaguely Recalling JoJo. In-universe, Dio, Jonathan and George question Speedwagon after he shows up.
  • In-Universe, Paul Pasadena's appearance is this to Again A Fanfic Critic and RegretfullyYours when he suddenly appears out of nowhere in the middle of Benny Leo Johnny And Rae Meet The Slender Man.
  • Invoked and parodied in "Film Riot" when its revealed that stark has been hiding in the attic for the years he was absent. we are then treated to a series of shots from past episodes with him greenscreened in.
  • Parodied in Half in the Bag's episode reviewing Sinister and Paranormal Activity 4, where Mr. Plinkett claims he's always had the ghost of a murder victim living with him. When Mike and Jay express confusion, scenes from past reviews are played with the character spliced in, never interacting with anyone else.
    Mike: Wow. I need to stop drinking.
    Jay: And I need to stop snorting Comet.
  • Parodied by Homestar Runner in their 2015 fan Halloween costumes round-up, with Strong Bad "recognizing" a humidifier in the background as "a dead-on Humidibot costume", and we're treated to a brief scene with Strong Bad interacting with a talking humidifier named Humidibot.
    Humidibot: Hey, Strong Bad! I'm Humidibot!
    Strong Bad: Yeah, I'm aware of that, Humidibot.


In-canon reality-warping or false memory examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: Tsukishima has this as a power. He did a Remember The New Guy on near everyone Ichigo knows, as part of a gambit to confuse Ichigo into handing over his life. By adding details, he can do things such as change the environment, learn about others, or make them collapse from the stress of conflicting info.
  • Rolo Lamperouge from Code Geass manages to insert himself into the main cast between seasons 1 and 2. In fact, he is supposedly the main character Lelouch's little brother (replacing the sister he had previously, Nunnally). He's really an assassin who has been appointed with the mission of keeping watch over Lelouch, after the Ashford students are given Fake Memories and an amnesiac Lelouch is sent there as well, to keep him out of the way of The Emperor's plans. It doesn't work.
  • In Fairy Tail, when Master Makarov selects the candidates for the S-Class exams, one of them is Mest, a character we have never seen before, yet everybody claims he is a valued Fairy Tail member. He is a spy who inflicted Fake Memories on everybody. And then, hundreds of chapters later, he is revealed to be a Fairy Tail member from the beginning who even erased his own memories to spy on the Magic Council.
  • Yashiro Isana in K is an interesting example in that even he remembers having been there all along. By the time of The Reveal half way through the first season, everyone who was made to Remember The New Guy has forgotten him, which is what leads him to realize his memories had been tampered with. Everyone in the school not only remembered him, they loved him enough to eagerly share their food with him every day.
  • In Majokko Meg-chan, Meg is a young witch who has been sent to Earth where is adopted by former witch Mami Kanzaki. In the first episode, Mami bewitches her husband and their two children, Rabi and Apo, into believing that Megu has always been the eldest child of the family.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion does this with Bebe a.k.a. Charlotte/Nagisa, Mami's pet witch. Mami claims to have adopted her long before meeting Madoka and Sayaka, and that they were inseparable ever since; but Bebe appeared only briefly in the original series, when she literally bit Mami's head off, and then got blown up by Homura. She was never Mami's pet before the movie, but none of the characters can remember her being anything else. It turns out that Homura has manipulated the memories of most of the cast, including herself, and "Bebe" is only the tip of the iceberg.
  • S Cry Ed pulls an interesting version of this in regards to Ryuhou in the second half, after he's lost his memories and his former organization tracks him down. While he was implicitly already familiar with Kigetsuki's Alters, a trio of almost-entirely-human beings called the Tokonatsu sisters, Unkei forces this trope on him by using his Alter, Mad Sprict, to implant false memories within Ryuhou and make him believe the Tokonatsu sisters were all his fiancées since childhood - complete with revisiting earlier flashbacks to Ryuhou's childhood when he first met Mimori, but with one of the three Tokonatsu sisters taking Mimori's place in the different flashbacks. Ryuhou is definitely not pleased when his memories actually return.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Season 4, where the characters are shown instantly treating the previously unknown Yusuke Fujiwara like he's one of the True Companions all along — because he's hypnotized them into thinking so. Too bad his magic doesn't work on Judai. It doesn't work on Fubuki either because Fubuki actually knew Fujiwara beforehand (see above).

    Comic Books 
  • In Adventure Time, Finn and Jake destroy a magical statue and then discover that they now have an adopted sister, Gata, who is intimately familiar with everyone they know and has apparently lived with them for years. Gata was once actually their sister, but their father magically banished her to another universe and removed all memories of her existence after discovering she was an Apocalypse Maiden that created a portal to a dimension filled with powerful demons when she slept. The statue was the seal to that universe, and destroying it restored her to theirs. At the end, Gata decides to perform a Heroic Sacrifice and re-banish herself and the demons (who are led by her birth mother). Finn and Jake instantly forget about her when she does so. This gets a Belated Happy Ending at the end of the "Dungeon Master" arc, where the defeat of the villains of that storyline somehow strips her birth mother of her powers and allows Gata to safely exist again.
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog: Following the Cosmic Retcon (and real-life lawsuit) induced Continuity Reboot, numerous characters have shown up who have histories with the preexisting characters that are completely new to the audience. Possibly lampshaded in the case of Breezie the Hedgehog, whom Amy points out Sonic and Tails have never mentioned to the rest of the team before.
  • This seemed to happen with Moonraker's sudden appearance in Force Works. Everybody knew him and he even was in an ongoing relationship with Spider-Woman. However, Rachel (Spider-Woman's daughter) notices she had never seen him before. Some issues later, Moonraker reveals he was really implanted into the team's history via time travel to warn them and the Avengers about an upcoming attack by Kang.
  • In the Transformers IDW comics crossover, Infestation, Galvatron has his loyal crew of Cyclonus, Scourge and... Bayonet, a female helicopter transformer we've never seen before and is part of the crew. She is the Big Bad Britt, disguised as a transformer who used her powers to mess with everyone's memories to make them all believe that she was there all along. Kup, who's going crazy by this point, is the first to notice, and when trying to write it off as paranoia fails, she impales him.
  • In X-Men: Legacy, ForgetMeNot's mutant power made people forget his existence the moment they stop actively thinking about him. He's apparently been an X-Men for six, in-story years.
  • In the short-lived Rogue solo series, Blindspot was retconned into being a friend of Rogue and a member of the Brotherhood, but since she has the power to manipulate memories, she was able to erase all knowledge of her existence after going into hiding.
  • One of the Fear Itself tie-ins to Secret Avengers introduced Leonard Gary, a friend of Beast's with Omega-level Reality Warper abilities. Leonard is shown to be so powerful that he literally brings Washington D.C. to life to repel Red Skull's Neo-Nazi invasion, and yet we've never heard of him before. It is however justified since Beast implies that Leonard deliberately used his powers to hide himself from people like the X-Men.
  • DC's Moon Maiden and Triumph, and Marvel's The Sentry. All three are modern characters retconned as heroes from the Silver Age who happened to save the world in a way that erases everyone's memories of them. Leading up to the series that introduced the Sentry, Marvel got comic news sources in on the joke; they ran stories about how he really was a Silver Age hero who was created back then but never used and promptly forgotten. Nor was this the first time Marvel had tried this tactic. 3D-Man was made in the Seventies but his story had him as active since the Fifties. There was even a What If? story where he was present as a founding member of a 50's version of The Avengersnote .
  • A major plot point in the Avengers: No Surrender crossover involves the return of Voyager, a former Silver Age Avenger who was supposedly lost in time after a battle with Squadron Sinister. It's eventually revealed that Voyager is really the Grandmaster's daughter, and that she used her powers to infiltrate the team by worming her way into everyone's memories, thus making them all believe she was a founding Avenger.
  • In addition to all the straight Batgirl examples above, Batgirl (2011) introduced Babs's old schoolfriend Greg, who turns out to be a memory-warping villain called Fugue, who Babs had never met before.

    Fan Works 
  • Late in Perfection is Overrated, Bachiko is introduced as a supposed childhood friend of Mai, and it's claimed that Mai has also known Bachiko's best friend Meiko when she first arrived at Fuuka, in a manner similar to the Mary Sue examples listed above. Natsuki is confused when Mai and the others assume she knows the two when she knows she doesn't. It turns out that Meiko, using her powers, altered everyone's memories so that they would remember herself and Bachiko as their friends, as part of an Evil Plan to manipulate everyone's relationships as they see fit with Bachiko's personality altering abilities, and they posed as Mai's friends in order to monitor their progress. Natsuki happened to be outside of Fuuka's campus at the time, and so was not affected by Meiko's power.
  • Done In-Universe in The Vampire Diaries story "Return to Mystic Falls" by Elena who is really Katherine. She had a witch make people think she had been there all along to fool people, especially Stefan.
  • Appears sometimes in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction, including to lampshade or explain instances of it in the show.
    • In Pony POV Series:
      • It is eventually revealed that Shining Armor literally didn't exist before he was introduced, and once he appeared, the timeline adjusted itself both past and future to accommodate him. When he finds out, it's a Tomato in the Mirror moment for him.
      • During the Finale Arc, Button acts like he's always been Sweetie Belle's coltfriend and the Crusaders' Sixth Ranger. However, this is because from his perspective, it really had always been that way.
      • Also during the Finale Arc, Maud Pie is really the amnesiac avatar of Entropy, the Goddess of Nothingness and Endings. Upon her arrival, characters briefly question who she is before their memories are rewritten so that they believe she is Pinkie Pie's older sister. As Maud doesn't remember being Entropy and only remembers being Maud, she genuinely believes she is Pinkie Pie's older sister.
    • BBBCF explains why Cadance and Shining Armor suddenly appeared at the end of season 2 by making Shining Armor a newly spawned changeling drone, with the whole wedding a contrived excuse to distract Chrysalis from Cadance's importance.
  • In Harry Potter and the Natural 20, Milo is a Munchkin with the standard Dungeons & Dragons Player Character ability to add details to his backstory at will. So naturally, he exploits this trope for all its worth.
    "What did you do?" Relkin asked in a hushed voice.
    "I remembered each and every one of them as a treasured friend or relative from my backstory," Milo said quietly. "One who would never, ever raise a hand against me or impede the cause of Justice or the furthering of Good. And who gets +2 and a reroll against magical orders against their nature."

    Film 
  • In addition to the straight example above, Men in Black 3 also has it happen In-Universe after Boris alters the timeline by going back to 1969 to kill K. J gets on the elevator to go to work and he is joined by another agent, AA, who addresses J as if J is his partner. Neither J nor the audience has ever met this guy before, much less been partnered up with him. J naturally knows something's wrong.

    Literature 
  • In Grinny by Nicholas Fisk, the title character has this as an explicit power: by saying "You remember me", she can make adults (but not children) think they've known her all their lives.
  • In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Mist can be manipulated to create Fake Memories of a person. For example, after Mrs. Dodds (Percy's teacher and a servant of Hades) attacks Percy and is killed, a new teacher named Mrs. Kerr mysteriously appears to take her place, and nobody but Percy remembers that Mrs. Kerr hadn't always been their teacher.
    • This is also used in the Sequel Series, The Heroes of Olympus, to get Jason's classmates to think that he had always been in their class. Leo Valdez believes that Jason was his best friend, and Piper McLean even has memories of dating Jason.
  • The Torchwood novel Border Princes by Dan Abnett (published between series 1 and 2) has pretty much exactly the same plot as the episode "Adam" (below), except it's a Reality Warper, rather than a memory-alterer, and he isn't doing it intentionally.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Critic parodied this trope in his review of The Smurfs 2, in reaction to the film playing this straight with Hackus and Vecky. Just after the Critic comments on Hackus and Vecky, we cut to an outlandish pink-top-hat-wearing character, called Bill, with whom the Critic keeps interacting throughout the episode as though he was part of the regular cast.
    • This review was part of his 'Sequel Month' series. In his conclusion for Sequel Month, the Critic mentioned that, in the end, this sequel month, just like the bad sequels themselves, had brought the viewers nothing new. Cue viewers complaining that it has. The Critic answers: "What, Bill? He's always been here!"


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