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Talk about simpler times.
When a series does an Art Shift to an older presentation style for Flashback Effects to a time when it used this style. It may be in a work which has Art Evolution, calling back to its own specific past, or it may be an Affectionate Parody of more general styles.

When you have characters in a flashback appear the way they look in the story's present time, making their latest appearance a Retcon to the period of the flashback, it's Backported Development. If a scene from a previous installment is redone using a newer art style, it's a version of Flashback with the Other Darrin.

See also Monochrome Past and Nostalgia Level. Compare and contrast Meet Your Early-Installment Weirdness, which happens in the present instead of the past.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Ah! My Goddess manga, when the story flashes back to the beginning, Belldandy's original design is remade using Fujishima's current drawing style.
  • In Bleach, flashbacks are in general lifted straight from past chapters, making Kubo's Art Evolution all the more evident.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: In the prologue of Golden Wind, the group photo on Jotaro's desk is in the Stardust Crusaders art style, lifted straight from the scene where the photo was taken during that season.
  • The Pokémon: The Original Series episode "Here's Lookin' at You, Elekid" is the first one to be digitally painted, but a flashback showing how James caught his Victreebel (a Weepinbell back then) reuses the original cel-animated style used until the episode before.
  • In the Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei OVA, the art style for the ending animation shifts to the author, Koji Kumeta's original art style.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the post-art shift seasons (Season 10 onwards) of Happy Heroes, flashbacks to pre-art shift events are presented as they were in the original episodes and movies, without being reworked into the new art style.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics will often use a style which approximates the old four-color style when presenting flashbacks to the stories originally presented in the 1960s-80s, or new stories which take place in that time frame. Additionally the characters who were around then will frequently be drawn in the style of Jack Kirby, the artist who drew most of them at that time (or Steve Ditko if it's a Spider-Man story).
  • The short Fanboy series drawn by Sergio Aragonés featured several art styles appropriate to the particular character(s) and eras being referenced in the story. One particular one was the cycling of the different styles and moods of Batman from his beginning in the '30s to the '90s.
  • In Supreme, all of Supreme's flashbacks to different eras feature era-appropriate art and storytelling. When harkening back to adventures that would have happened in the Golden or Silver age, he mentions how it seems so long ago and everything seemed so simple back then, accounting for the less detailed artwork and plain, no-nonsense dialogue.
  • Done for the Legion of Super-Heroes' 30th anniversary in 1988 where old LSH artists were used in flashbacks to old stories. (The 25th anniversary is more famous for using old LSH artists in nostalgia segments, but these segments were not flashbacks, but alternate universes that diverged as of a particular era.)
  • The issue of Stormwatch where old superheroine Jenny Sparks reveals her history as "The Spirit of the 20th Century" has her flashbacks of each era drawn (and lettered) in the style of major comics of said era, such as The Spirit, Dan Dare, and Watchmen for the flashback to The '80s. In a later issue, Bad Boss Henry Bendix's flashback of when he first found Rose Tatoo (The Spirit of Murder) was drawn a la Jack Kirby.
  • An issue of Secret Avengers had Black Widow travel back in time to save her teammates. One sequence set in the 1960s is told in an old newspaper serial format.
  • The Transformers (IDW):
    • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, the history of the Hand of Primus is drawn as a Marvel comic from the '80s.
    • Not to be outdone, the concurrently released annual for The Transformers: Robots in Disguise has flashbacks also drawn in this style, along with an homage to the massive infodump from The Transformers issue 1, complete with infodump-y dialogue.
    • Revolutionaries Carrie’s this on for flashbacks to the past focused on transformers, while flashbacks pertaining to G.I. Joe are drawn by the artist from IDW’s early comics for that franchise,
    • The Transformers: Requiem of the Wreckers: The old Marvel-comics style comes back once again when Springer reminisces of his training with Kup and recruitment into the Wreckers. This time, actual artist Geoff Senior was brought in.
  • Batman: Gotham Adventures #50 opens with a splash page showing Batman catching Catwoman, both being drawn in the old 1992-1994 character designs. The following page shows a similar event taking place in current time, in the then-usual style.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Your Name, the flashbacks shown when Taki drinks Mitsuha's kuchikamizake have faux-VHS effects, including deliberate fuzziness and scan lines.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Three Times has three stories set in different time periods, all about the relationships between two characters played by Shu Qi and Chang Chen. The middle segment, set in 1911, is styled as a silent movie, with title cards and no audible dialogue.

    Live-Action TV 
  • For the 100th episode of Bones, they re-shoot a new first meeting for Booth and Brennan, which changes the context of their relationship to date - and they carefully tried to recreate the original characterization as well as appearance (darker hair, ponytails, chunky necklaces) of the main character, as well as bringing back actors who had since departed the show.
  • Charmed (1998) features an episode shortly before Phoebe and Cole's wedding where Phoebe puts on Gram's old wedding ring, only to discover that it is cursed. She ends up losing all her color and looking black and white, as if she was from a 50's TV show.
  • Cold Case went nuts with this. Their tribute episode to The Rocky Horror Picture Show brilliantly parodied the movie's style, color scheme, and... distinct acting style.
  • Doctor Who:
    • One of the special features on the DVD of "Revenge of the Cybermen" is a segment called "Cheques, Lies and Videotape", about Doctor Who fans' efforts to see older stories in the days before home videos were widely available. One aspect of this era it discusses is the degradation of videotape quality after several generations of copying, with 10th-generation (and beyond) copies being almost unwatchable, with some accompanying footage demonstrating this. Then the end credits for the segment briefly take on the appearance of one of these poor copies.
    • "The Crimson Horror" is set in Victorian Britain. A flashback scene explaining How We Got Here is shown as an old sepia-tinted kinetoscope movie.
    • In "The Witch’s Familiar", Missy tells a story about the Doctor. It is represented in high-contrast black-and-white footage with a scanline overlay. The laser beams shown in the flashback are also noticeably made with a 2D rotoscope, instead of CGI. Those elements make the scene appear very similar to a First or Second Doctor episode. To hammer the point further, Fake Shemps of the First and Fourth Doctors appear in the beginning of this scene.
  • Pushing Daisies would do flashbacks to a sufficiently distant period (before the main characters' childhood) with the film style of that era.
  • In the The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Once Upon a Time", involving time-travel between 1890 and 1962, 1890 is presented as a silent movie.
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations," done as a 30th anniversary homage, the crew go back in time to the events of the original series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles." In addition to compositing the modern actors into TOS footage and rebuilding old sets, the camera crew used film stock and lighting similar to those used in TOS, even in new scenes set in the TOS settings.

    Music 
  • The music video for the song "Dani California" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers employs this as an affectionate parody of various eras of rock music, from the 1950s to the time of recording, including altering the quality of the video recording and their behavior on stage to match both general trends and specific bands.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The second panel of this 1995 Dilbert strip shows The Pointy-Haired Boss and Wally as they looked in 1990.
  • Garfield meets his past self during his 25th anniversary special. He is drawn the way he was when the comic first started in 1978.
    • A 1988 comic that celebrated his 10th birthday involves him and Jon going through their photo album and the photos are select panels from earlier strips.

    Theatre 

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The flashback case in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney uses the first game's graphics and music.
    • Oddly inverted in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies. At one point in Case 2, we see a still image of Phoenix with his laid-back, hobo look in Apollo Justice. But because the courthouse was redesigned between that game and Dual Destinies, it's very obvious that the game uses the new defendant lobby while showing Hobo Phoenix back in Apollo Justice. Similarly inverted in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, where Apollo flashes back to confronting Klavier Gavin in court... but again, the courthouse doesn't look like it used to in Apollo Justice, so it feels jarring to see them in the new and rebuilt courtroom. To top it all off, AJ used 2D graphics, while Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice use 3D.
  • Ape Escape 2: When Natalie brings up Specter not learning his lesson after being beaten by Spike, it cuts to footage of Spike's final confrontation with Specter in the first game, PS1 blocky graphics and all.
  • Call of Duty:
  • The Curse of Monkey Island: Guybrush can peep out of a hole into a location from the first game before being chased back by an unseen "pack of stunningly-rendered rabid jaguars".
  • At one point in Discworld II: Missing Presumed..., Rincewind travels back in time to meet himself, just prior to the events of the first game. The past is an exact duplicate of the much blockier sprites of the original.
  • Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator: Images of the previous incarnations of Freddy Fazbear's Pizzaria, lifted from their respective games, are shown to the player during Cassette Guy's speech during the ending.
  • Making fun of the medium and being nostalgic about the previous games, the Metal Gear series shows flashbacks and even photos of scenes from the previous games always rendered in the original game engine. In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Sunny has a photo of her dead mother Olga, which is a screenshot from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Also in MSG4, when returning to Shadow Moses Island, you start in the second area of Metal Gear Solid with the original game engine, before Snake wakes up from a dream as the helicopter is about to land. You also get a FaceCamo option after playing through that flashback to let you turn Old Snake into PS1 Snake, complete with being able to count the polygons on his head and the pixels on its texture.
  • Much like Metal Gear Solid, there exists a Dummied Out picture in Silent Hill 3 of Heather standing next to her dad, Harry, who is rendered in PS1 style (his actual in-game model is a reskinned James).
  • Occurs hilariously in Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers when Roger travels back in time to Ulence Flats from the first game. The whole place is rendered in EGA coloring and style.
  • The flashback dream sequence in Plok uses grayscale graphics, an old-fashioned font, piano music, and silent film-style title cards.
  • The mobile phone and Wii versions of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years are rendered similarly to Final Fantasy VI... except the flashbacks, which are done with the same graphics as the original Final Fantasy IV. A portion of Porom's chapter is even played in such a flashback. Averted in the PSP version, which contains updated versions of both the original game and The After Years.
  • Twisted Metal 4's intro detailing the overthrow of Calypso by Needles Kane (Sweet Tooth) is presented as a silent film.
  • In Leisure Suit Larry: Wet Dreams Don't Dry, a smartphone explosion results in Larry having a vision in the style of the original game with no voice-over... Then he meets Donald Trump.
  • A House of Many Doors: Your captain goes through a dream sequence to discover the House's greatest secret. You play as the current master of the house back when he was a child, which is portrayed as a top-down JRPG, all in glorious 1-bit graphics.
  • Mario Party Superstars: Each board is prefaced with Koopa Troopa providing a description of the board and the events that occurred on them the first time Mario and friends went there. These descriptions are accompanied by screenshots taken from each board's respective original game.
  • Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom has a hidden bonus area in which you re-enact the prologue of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap (and by extension the finale of Wonder Boy in Monster Land) with old-school graphics and sound.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja did this when Gordito told the story of how his father died: the comic, which had recently begun using shades of grey in the art, used the old flat black/white style.
  • Subverted in Adventurers!: a flashback near the beginning of the final battle starts like this, but the character being narrated to complains.
  • Attack of the Super Wizards was created with the idea that Stardust the Super Wizard continued beyond its original run, so flashbacks to "previous" adventures are done in the styles of older eras.
  • Bob and George always presents the relevant timelines in that era's sprites (and occasionally backgrounds): "modern" day Mega Man is 16-bit, Flashback-era is 8-bit, and the far-flung future uses 32-bit Mega Man X sprites.
  • In the commentaries for the The Order of the Stick print books, Rich Burlew has occasionally noted that going back to old styles (either for prequel segments, flashbacks, or bonus strips inserted into pre-Art Shift arcs) felt almost physically painful.
  • In the Fans! arc "Full Circle," the main characters face off against earlier versions of themselves, drawn in the style Jason Waltrip used at the beginning of the comic.
  • Occurs in this Penny Arcade strip, as a flashback to a wager about Duke Nukem Forever coming out. Done again in this strip concerning Technology Marches On. Tycho comments in The Rant: "In my my mind, they have always looked like the first two panels."
  • The 2010s Wonder Momo webcomic, which is a Real-Time Timeskip from the original 1980s arcade game, has flashbacks done in the artstyle of the arcade game's promotional material. Where the rest of the comic has a clean 2010s anime look, the flashbacks have a distinct '80s cel animation look with muted colors and fluffier hair.

    Web Original 
  • Whenever Red vs. Blue characters remember about something, it's shot in the same game as the season it happened in. For example, during Relocated when Sarge reminisces about all of the times Grif nearly died that were "worth it", it shifts from Halo to Halo 2 and back to the (then current) Halo 3.
    • Parodied when Church is blast back in time. During these scenes, RvB uses Bungie's older Marathon games.
  • Hetaoni plays with this trope. In flashbacks, the earlier style of artwork reappears; in previous time loops, the newer style appears.

    Western Animation 
  • Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix: Rayman's flashback to when he began his success as a representative of Eden is stylized in the design of his first game.
  • Family Guy
    • In the episode "Back to the Pilot", Brian and Stewie time-travel back to the pilot episode, which is rendered in standard definition and uses the first season's art style.
    • "Brian: Portrait of a Dog" has "Peter and Brian in Fixin' the Shed", a flashback to happier times done in the style of silent-era animation.
  • In the House of Mouse short "Hickory Dickory Mickey", flashbacks were done in black and white and with the characters drawn in the early-1930s circle-and-rubber-hose style.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "A Friend in Deed", Cranky Doodle Donkey's flashback is rendered in the style of a silent film.
  • Ninjago: In seasons 8 and 9, Cole, Zane, and Jay have flashbacks to how they met Wu.note  Despite the main cast getting redesigned in Season 8 to match their movie counterparts, they sport their original designs in these flashbacks. This makes less sense when you consider the explanation given earlier that time travel effects from the previous season may have been what changed their appearances.
  • Rick and Morty: In "Rickfending Your Mort", an Observer presents a flashback to the episode "Meeseeks and Destroy" when Rick and Morty were on trial by giants, in the style of Season 1.
  • The Simpsons has used this trope more than once.
    • Homer's recollection of his drunken antics in "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" is done in the style of a silent film, with "Scene Missing" cards to illustrate blackouts in his memory.
    • "The Great Louse Detective" was the first episode of the show to be digitally animated after the staff permanently switched over to itnote , but when it flashes back to the events of "Homer's Enemy", it reuses the original cel-animated footage from that episode.
    • In "How I Wet Your Mother," Marge, Bart and Lisa enter one of Homer's dreams and look like how they appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show.
    • In "Lisa the Boy Scout", one of the (fake) Simpsons clips shown by the hackers is a potential "series finale" that reveals that everything after "Bart the Daredevil" was All Just a Dream, which faithfully recreates the Season 2 art style and aspect ratio.
    • In "Treehouse of Horror XXXIV", the segment Ei8ht opens with an "alternate ending" to the episode "Cape Feare" that is animated just like the episode itself.
  • During a Christmas Episode of Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Spidey and the Enforcers are drawn in the classic John Romita, Sr. style with webslinging scenes done up like Spider-Man (1967)
  • A flashback in What's New, Scooby-Doo? that shows why Velma is afraid of clowns is done in the art style of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.
  • In the CGI seasons of Fireman Sam, sometimes you can see old pictures of characters taken directly from the stop motion seasons, like the group photo in the new base or Bella Lasagna's picture attached to her pizza recipe.
  • In the Daria episode "Antisocial Climbers" (which is digitally painted), just before Ms. Barch drags Mr. O’Neille, there are flashbacks to scenes in previous episodes where they kiss, all of which are shown in their original cel-animated style.
  • The first episode of Transformers: EarthSpark features an extended flashback/exposition sequence explaining the Transformers' arrival on Earth in the 80s and the Autobot/Human alliance's ensuing war against the Decepticons. Said sequence shifts mediums to a hand-drawn 2D art style resembling the original ''Transformers'' cartoon, complete with an Aspect Ratio Switch to the 4:3 ratio used by 80s analog televisions and animation errors like those common in televised cartoons at the time.
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "The Lil' Patscals", Patrick goes back to 1927, which is Deliberately Monochrome. The characters have rubberhose character designs, but since Patrick is from the modern era, he's fully colored and on-model. GrandPat and his friends help refit him to look more fitting for the era.

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