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Stealth Sequel

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When a Sequel or Prequel to a work isn't actually stated or advertised as such. At first, it looks like a Creator-Driven Successor, Continuity Reboot, Alternate Universe, or some other closely related universe tie-in but it turns out to be a direct sequel. This might just be hinted at, or expressed outright near the end. Canon Welding often uses this to tie multiple formerly independent franchises together. The work may have a Recycled Title. See also Broad Strokes.

When the fandom considers a work as this to another unrelated work, see Fanon Welding.

As you might guess, there will be SPOILERS.

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    Comic Books 
  • Jack Kirby managed to form an unofficial trilogy by connecting three different comics he made for separate publishers. He threw in some subtle hints that his New Gods series for DC Comics was actually a Distant Sequel to his run on The Mighty Thor over at Marvel (mainly establishing that the New Gods rose from the ashes of a previous pantheon, implied to be the ruins of a post-Ragnarok Asgard). In turn, his later, creator-owned series Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers (which was published by Pacific Comics under the condition that Kirby would have full creative control) was hinted to be a continuation to New Gods (establishing near the end that Captain Victory in his youth fled his home planet Hellikost to escape the influence of his grandfather Blackmass, which are both clearly Apokolips and Darkseid renamed to avoid litigation from DC, and heavily implying Captain Victory to be the son of Orion).
    • While Kirby was working for DC on the Super Powers toyline and animated series, he was invited back to work on the tie-in comics. The second volume of Super Powers acts as a direct sequel to the "Hunger Dogs" story that was the then-finale of New Gods, starting with Darkseid, Dessad, and Kalibak escaping Apokolips as the masses rise in rebellion to overthrow Darkseid's regime.
  • When Peter David first began work on Fallen Angel, there were some strong hints that it was actually a sequel to his previous Supergirl series, and that the heroine, "Lee," was actually Supergirl herself. This was changed when the series was moved from DC to IDW, preventing any such revelation from ever occurring. A character named Lin was later introduced, and Word of God is that she's essentially a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo from the Linda Danvers version of Supergirl.
  • Rebirth reveals that The New 52 is one to Watchmen, since the New 52 is a case of Dr. Manhattan pulling a Cosmic Retcon on the main DCU by messing with the timeline and people's memories.
  • Jeph Loeb's final arc on Superman/Batman, "With a Vengeance" wasn't just a cap to his run on the book, but it also turned out to be as a sequel to Emperor Joker as the villains of the arc ultimately turn out to be The Joker and Mr. Mxzytplk.
  • Doom Patrol: At first, it seemed like Gerard Way's run on Doom Patrol (2016) would be a reboot of the franchise, especially since it was the debut title of the Young Animal imprint and does not acknowledge the team's then-most-recent appearance in Geoff Johns' Justice League run. However, issue 3 makes it clear that both Grant Morrison and Keith Giffen's runs did indeed happen, by having Robotman reference events within those series.
  • Trouble (Marvel Comics) was marketed as Marvel's attempted Genre Relaunch of romance comics. Then you notice the names of the main characters—brothers Richard and Ben, with their girlfriends Mary and May—and you realize this is actually a bizarre, Hotter and Sexier prequel to Spider-Man, centered around his family's dysfunctional love lives instead of superheroes. It made some pretty big Retcons, most notably May sleeping with Richard and being Peter's birth mother, and thus quickly became Canon Discontinuity.
  • While not solicited as such, Batman: Damned is a sequel to Joker. Not only is it by the same team, Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, but they confirmed it to be a "quasi-sequel" and the story does feature a number of design elements and lines returning, as well revealing that the body seen falling at the end of Joker wasn't POV character Jonny Frost, but the Clown Prince himself.
  • The Donald Duck comic The Seven Sands of Cibola was originally presented as a remake of Carl Barks's Seven Cities of Cibola, adding to the original story a search for seven kinds of magic sand that the inhabitants of the lost cities originally made. When they finally find them, Huey, Dewey and Louie discover that one of the sands have the power to restore lost memories... and soon they remember everything about the first time they came there, but sadly they can't stop in time the Beagle Boys before they accidentally destroy everything and make everyone forget everything again.
  • The Adventures of the X-Men #12 reveals the series had been this to the entire Marvel Universe as we know it. These stories you had been reading, that were based on Marvel's nineties cartoons? They were actually set in the Sixth Infinity, the multiverse that existed before the Seventh Infinity of which Earth-616 is a part. Over the course of the story (which naturally serves as a Grand Finale to the comic), the X-Men attempt to repair the M'Kraan crystal, the Nexus of All Realities, but fail, while a bold explorer named Galan merges with the sentience of the universe and survives to become Galactus, and the Living Tribunal releases two brothers who will shepherd the creation of the new DC and Marvel multiverses in the future. And as this new age dawns, we see Professor X call his X-Men to him to introduce them to his latest student, a young girl named Jean Grey... And the Adventure Continues!
  • The Great Power of Chninkel is a deconstruction of the story of Jesus and the nature of an almighty God, as a nobody called J'on is tasked with a Mission from God and given a "great power" to help him liberate the Chninkel from their suffering by ending the Forever War. God, i.e. O'ne, takes the form of a giant monolith. Indeed, the ending scene leads directly into the opening of 2001: A Space Odyssey and puts a very sad twist on that film.
  • Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe Again features another reality where Deadpool is, like the original story, brainwashed by a villainous party into killing heroes. Near the end, Deadpool discovers that the X-Men have been massacred and soon finds evidence it wasn't him, but Wolverine, who did it, suggesting Again is a prequel of Old Man Logan, though it does raise some Continuity Snarls with some of the characters.
  • My Little Pony Generations is this to the 1986 My Little Pony Movie. The villains are the granddaughters of Hydia, the Big Bad of the film and they are tasked by their mothers to get revenge for their defeat years ago.
  • Judge Dredd Spin-Off Lawless centres around colonial Judge Marshall Metta Lawson who has taken up the post of Marshall of a township named Badrock. There are questions raised regarding Lawson being a judge, especially since she eschews using her Lawgiver in favour of a pulse rifle. As it turns out, she is a judge, albeit one who changed her identity, since she is really Zia Freely from a prior Spin-Off, Insurrection.
  • Irredeemable is a meta-prequel to superhero comics in general and Superman in particular. At the end of the series, Qubit fulfils his promise to redeem Plutonian... By disintegrating his physical form and scattering The Plutonian's essence across the multiverse, some of which landed on our earth and inspired two boys who are strongly implied to be Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster to create the Man of Steel we know.
  • Outsiders (2023) starts off looking like a Bat-book. It starts Kate Kane and Luke Fox, even if they do have a new mission to "catalog the unknown and manage the consequences", and it's named after a team usually led by Batman. But the next member of the team calls herself Drummer, and is referred to as "the fourth man", and their first mission involves rediscovering the long abandoned Carrier from The Authority, reminding us that the Wild Storm universe was intergated into the DCU. The final panel reveals that Drummer does, in fact, have a copy of The Planetary Guide.

    Fan Works 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction:
    • In Pony POV Series, it's eventually revealed that the Dark World Arc was a prequel to the main series the entire time. It's the original timeline where Twilight, after defeating an evil future version of herself and ascending into an Alicorn, eventually sacrificed herself to create Shining Armor and the Interviewers, which split off the timeline and created an alternate universe where Discord was defeated a thousand years before he was in the Bad Future.
    • In Ruin Value, it is revealed at the end of the story that it is a stealth prequel to the entire canon series; the story is set millennia before the present in the show, when Luna, Celestia, and Discord were all young, and the ponies were the product of genetic engineering.
  • At first glance, Touhou A Live appears to be no more than Live A Live with the Touhou girls instead, especially if one happens to start with either Ponga or Youmu, whose chapters are almost identical to their counterparts’. As it progresses, however, more and more Live A Live characters appear, as Moribe is one of Cirno’s opponents and Masaru challenges her at the end, the Earthen Heart successor (Yun in this case) is revealed to have trained Hong Meiling, Cindelman/Livingstill is the Arc Villain of Mokou’s chapter, Gibson/Cesar founded his own Old West town after Dio’s defeat, and, in the final chapter, Makai turns out to be none other than Lucrece after Odio destroyed it. The game is therefore this trope, not to Touhou, but to Live A Live.
  • Half-Life: Full Life Consequences has Half-Life: Hero Beggining, the only installment without "Full Life Consequences" in its title. Unlike the first two installments, which focus on Gordon Freeman's brother, John Freeman, this instead stars Henry Freeman and shows him rebelling against the "Combines." At the very end of the fic, when Henry Freeman is about to be killed, John Freeman suddenly reappears and says, "Combines leave my son alone," revealing that he is Henry Freeman's father and this is part of this Full Life Consequences series.
  • The Redemption of Harley Quinn: A few story elements reveal this to be a precursor to the author's previous work New Tamaran, most notably Batman and the Justice League being off-planet and Lyle Bolton accepting a position at Belle Reeve.
  • HoloFunk, a Game Mod for Friday Night Funkin', was initially released and is still billed as a mod replacing the game's characters with the talents from hololive. Gameplay-wise, it is just that, to the point where Shishiro Botan's songs are just remixes of Pico's own songs and some other songs incorporate elements of their counterparts in the base game. Look deeper into the story, however, and it becomes a double subversion: Most of the original cast (barring Senpai) is still around, but implied to be sufficiently different people brought together by Contrived Coincidences since "Boyfriend" (named Kenji Tensei) is merely emulating the FNF protagonist (with the game having been demoted to a Show Within a Show) and the Dearests were ripped off to create the FNF antagonists, much to their chagrin. Then it's heavily implied that Kenji experienced all the trials and tribulations of the Boyfriend from our world's FNF (dating and leaving Pico, falling in love with Girlfriend, repeatedly being hounded by the Dearests, etc.) that do not happen in his world's version of the game, showing that they are indeed this continuity's counterparts to the originals in a way that HoloFunk, despite some use of Adaptation Tropes and a setting change, becomes a fan sequel to the base game's events.
  • Due to its many Continuity Nods, several of the rewritten episodes in A Dash of Logic become this to previous canon episodes.
    • “Squid Baby” becomes one to “Back to the Past” at the very end, where SpongeBob’s time-traveling shenanigans (somehow) cause a dystopian future where Man Ray rules Bikini Bottom.
    • “Squidward, You’re Fired” is essentially a direct sequel to “Can You Spare a Dime?”. Gary even tells SpongeBob how Squidward used and mistreated him the last time he was a freeloader crashing at SpongeBob’s place, but SpongeBob ignores his warnings.
    • “Squid’s Visit” becomes one to “SquidBob TentaclePants”, as the events of that episode are SpongeBob’s main motivation for holding Squidward hostage. And for Squidward having these paranoid dreams.
  • Masako X - Dragon Ball What-If: One entry, a friend at the end of time follows a post-Heel–Face Turn Merged Zamasu caring for an alternate version of Future Trunks in the remains of his timeline, along with telling stories that are the other What-Ifs Masako covered. Trunk would then request Zamasu's time ring so he may save his timeline from a powerful threat, becoming Nomad from What If Goku Landed at Capsule Corp?.
  • At first PMMM: Friend of a Friend is initially presented as a Puella Magi Madoka Magica Fix Fic, with the Magical Girl Akisa Sori using memories of various Alternate Timelines to aid the Puella, such as helping save Mami from her canon death and aiding her in taming the witch Charlotte, preventing Sayaka from becoming a Magical Girl to heal Kyosuke and inevitably become a Witch once she crosses the Despair Event Horizon, and reveal the Awful Truth to the quintet and how Kyuubi has been using him. However, after failing to keep Madoka from contracting with Kyuubi, Sori reveals to Homura that she is unable to repeat the process after absorbing and killing her alternate selves, but encourages the other girl to to keep trying to go back in time as she will inevitably save Madoka. However, the ending reveals Sori's real goal was to give Homura the extra boost to keep trying until a Madoka has enough Karmic Potential to become a god, and from there set the chain of events towards Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion where Homura becomes the Devil, takes Madoka's powers, and uses her powers to make Kyuubi take on all the curses of the world as the Incubators had causes other Magical Girls to suffer for their mission. In turn, this allows Sori to finally get her revenge in the long run as she becomes a Witch and tortures the current timeline's Kyuubi.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010) isn't too stealthy about it since Alice is older, but she starts off her adventure in nearly the same way as the original book. A viewer could assume it's a Darker and Edgier version until a scene where, while Alice is struggling with changing size, the Dodo remarks, "You'd think she'd remember all of this from the first time."
  • Star Trek (2009) functions as both this and a reboot with Spock having arrived from the original timeline to provide continuity. The main stealth part comes from the fact that the movie is not a full reboot, but rather an Alternate Timeline created by the Big Bad's accidental alteration of the past, generating a new parallel space-time continuum that bypasses each of the preceding movies and shows except for one. It also offers a conclusion to the Federation's conflict with the Romulan Empire, which had been gradually developing for over 40 years since Star Trek: The Original Series. 8 years after Star Trek: Nemesis, just as the Federation is finally on the verge of peace with the Romulans, their home planet's star goes supernova and billions die, reigniting tensions all over again.
  • The Thing (2011) is both a prequel and a veeerrry subtle remake of the original 1982 film. It was initially advertised as a remake until viewers saw that the plot points indicated that this took place prior to the events of the 1982 film and it's mostly confirmed by the ending.
  • Catwoman (2004) is a stealth sequel to the Batman films, notably Batman Returns. Her origin is identical to the one played by Michelle Pfeiffer, the Catwoman persona is said to be a Legacy Character, and in the pictures of former "Catwomen", we see Michelle Pfeiffer's.
  • Basement Jack is a loose sequel to Evilution, the two films featuring the same old apartment building and creepy manager and his equally creepy display room full of murderous artifacts, which he adds more weapons to at the end of both films (a vial of alien virus in Evilution, and the eponymous character's sword in Basement Jack).
  • The 21 Jump Street film is actually a sequel to the original TV series inducing Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome on Hanson and Penhall. Also, Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) turns out to be the son of the late Capt. Richard Jenko from the show's first season.
  • Charlie's Angels (2000) is implied to be a sequel to the show by having the same person play Charlie and by the sequel showing that these were not the first Angels. It is confirmed in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle when Jaclyn Smith reprises her role as Kelly Garrett.
  • Curse of Chucky was initially marketed as a prequel, set between the Child’s Play 3 and Bride Of Chucky. Naturally, the twist halfway through the film reveals it’s a direct sequel to the previous installment. Given it was a Direct-To-DVD film, the twist would only have weight to hardcore fans who would have gone into the movie believing it to be a sequel. Casual fans would already assume it was.
  • The Scooby-Doo live-action movie takes place after the original series, as most of those villains re-appear in the sequel.
  • The version of Shaft (2000) played by Samuel L. Jackson is the original Shaft's nephew. And while we're talkin' 'bout Shaft, according to Word of God, Django and Broomhilda are ancestors of both of them.
  • Lots of weird behind-the-scenes drama resulted in Savage Vengeance being this to I Spit on Your Grave.
  • Likewise, Evil Dead (2013) was advertised as a remake of The Evil Dead (1981), but The Stinger shows an aged version of Ash Williams, the protagonist of the original trilogy.
    • Originally there was going to be a different post-credits scene which would have made this more explicit. The original idea was that Mia, the Final Girl, would be walking alone down a road while covered in blood from the encounter with the Deadites, only for an S-Mart truck to pull over next to her. The window would then roll down to reveal Ash, who would ask Mia if she needed help.
  • The film version of The Dark Tower is one to the books themselves, first hinted at when Stephen King tweeted an image of the Horn of Gilead, which Roland gained in the final chapter of the final novel.
  • The Twist Ending of Split reveals it to be a a stealth sequel to Unbreakable.
  • While it was never officially announced as a sequel, Kung Fu Yoga appears to be one to The Myth, both movies starring Jackie Chan and directed by Stanley Tong. This is further supported that Chan's character in both films having the same name and profession, along with the presence of the painting of Princess Ok-soo in his office. In fact, Chan himself has stated that Kung Fu Yoga is basically The Myth 2.
  • A variation: while Blair Witch was quite obviously a sequel to The Blair Witch Project, it was initially marketed as a standalone horror film titled The Woods, with no indication that it was part of that franchise. Its actual title and connection to the original were only revealed less than two months before it premiered, at an early screening at San Diego Comic-Con.
  • Danny Boyle implied in the commentary for Trainspotting that Keith Allen's drug dealer character is the same one he played in Shallow Grave, making Trainspotting a prequel.
  • Joanna Barnes, who played the dad's girlfriend Vicki in The Parent Trap, played the girlfriend's mother in the remake, also named Vicki implying the remake could actually be a sequel.
  • After discussing a fan theory that Get Out (2017) was a sequel to Being John Malkovich with Catherine Keener playing the same character in both movies, directors Spike Jonze and Jordan Peele decided it was canon.
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu is revealed to take place 20 years after the events of Pokémon: The First Movie, which features the very same Mewtwo who escaped from a Kanto lab and was taught by a boy and his Pikachu that not all humans are bad.
  • The Crimson Bolt from Super cameos during a Post-Credits Scene in Brightburn.
  • Adult versions of Jaime and Carlos from The Devil's Backbone appear as soldiers in Pan's Labyrinth.
    • Cronos, another del Toro film, has the minor characters Tito the Coroner and the Funeral Director, who reappear in the 2010 film Somos lo que hay played by the same actors and repeating their main gag.
  • The Ninth Configuration is William Peter Blatty 's stealth sequel to The Exorcist. The main character is astronaut Captain Cutshaw, who (without being named) appears as minor character in The Exorcist (i.e. as the astronaut who is told that he's going to die alone in space by the possessed Regan McNeill).
  • Final Destination:
    • Supposed to happen in Final Destination 3. The original script had Wendy meeting with Kimberly and Officer Burke, the survivors from Final Destination 2, in the epilogue, where they all meet their end during the train accident. This was scrapped in favor of a newspaper showing that the two died in an offscreen woodchipper accident. Which was also scrapped in the theatrical cut, as the scene where the newspaper is shown exists only in the director's cut.
    • An interesting variation with Final Destination 5, as there was no question about it being directly linked with the rest of the franchise. What the filmmakers managed to conceal until the ending of this film, however, is that it actually is a prequel to the entire franchise and not a sequel to its preceding installment as could be logically assumed. It is revealed to take place before Final Destination as the two survivors board the plane where the cast of the first movie were forced out before the plane takes off and blows up.
  • Paul W.S. Anderson says in the commentary for Death Race that he considers it a prequel to Death Race 2000 rather than a remake. There must be Broad Strokes involved as it's set 12 years after the original.
  • The climax of Underwater reveals that the film is set in The Cthulhu Mythos, and that Cthulhu himself of the master of the Fish People attacking the drilling station.
  • The final scene of the 2019 film The Dawn reveals that it is a prequel to The Amityville Horror.
  • Due to creative trailers, it was initially believed that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was going to be an updated reboot of the Robin Williams' classic, with the premise of a magical board game being replaced with a video game that sucked in the players and made them into their character avatars. The first few minutes of the movie established that it actually takes place some time after the first film, with the game, having realized that people had grown out of interest with board games in favor of game consoles, transformed itself into a game cartridge in order to continue drawing people in. To further establish this, at one point in the movie, the characters came upon a hut where it was inscribed "Alan Perish was here".
  • At first glance, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones doesn't seem to be connected to the mainline films beyond brand name. Until young Katie and Kristi from the third film make a surprising cameo, while Ali Rey, a character from the second film, appears later on to warn the main characters about Jesse's condition. The ending reveals that the demon can create a time travel portal, which is how Katie and Kristi appeared in the present as children, while Hector unwittingly goes back in time to 2006 San Diego, where he witnesses Katie's possession and Micah's murder, meaning he is present in the first film's climax, but offscreen.
  • The Conjuring Universe:
    • Annabelle: Creation doesn't specify its place in the timeline until near the end. Janice, by now possessed by the demon, gets adopted by a couple from California and becomes Annabelle Higgins.
    • The Curse of La Llorona seems like a standalone film until Father Perez appears and advises Anna about his experiences in the supernatural (namely, Annabelle). According to Warner Bros. itself, the connection merely serves as an easter egg, as it doesn't consider the film to be a proper installment in the franchise.
  • As shown in The Reveal, half of Jigsaw is a prequel to the previous Saw films. The game and the investigation are separated by ten years, and the former predates John Kramer's game with Adam Stanheight and Lawrence Gordon, which is why he is still alive.
  • The 1997 film adaptation of McHale's Navy is initially framed as a modern take on the original series (which was a period sitcom about a PT boat crew in World War II), with the protagonist Quinton McHale reimagined as a (retired) modern-day US Navy officer living in the Caribbean. But it's eventually revealed that he's actually Quinton McHale Jr., the son of the protagonist of the original show. Ernest Borgnine shows up to reprise his old role as Quinton McHale Sr., who's now an admiral with the callsign "Cobra". Cobra's real name isn't revealed until near the end of the movie, which misled many viewers into believing that Borgnine's role was just a Remake Cameo.

  • Brandon Sanderson, in The Cosmere, made a stealth prequel with Warbreaker. The book was published several years before The Stormlight Archive, but in the second book of Stormlight, two Warbreaker characters (Vasher and Nightblood) appeared and a third (Vivenna) shows up in Oathbringer. Sanderson later said that he plotted out Stormlight first; Warbreaker was primarily written to have a place for those characters to be from. In hindsight, several parts of Warbreaker foreshadow Stormlight, such as the appearance of BioChromatic Breath paralleling Stormlight, and the sentient sword Nightblood being very similar to Shardblades.
  • Cujo is gradually shown to be a sequel to The Dead Zone. They both take place in Castle Rock (which became a recurring location in Stephen King's books), and feature some of the same characters, like Sheriff George Bannerman and a few of his deputies. The Villainous Legacy of Frank Dodd serves as a subplot, with his ghost possibly showing up, and Johnny Smith is mentioned a few times in Bannerman's narration.
  • Although Iain Banks' Surface Detail is set in the same universe as the other Culture novels, it only becomes apparent that it is a Distant Finale to Use of Weapons upon reading the very last word in the book.
  • The Giver has an Ambiguous Ending that leaves us unclear about the fate of Jonas and baby Gabriel. The novel Gathering Blue mentions someone who sounds a lot like him, though. Word of God originally said that it was up to the reader to decide if they were the same character, but it's heavily suggested in Messenger and confirmed in Son that they are. The four books are now marketed as The Giver Quartet.
  • Peter S. Beagle's The Innkeepers Song includes an elderly wizard that in many ways seems to be an extremely old version of Schmendrick from Beagle's earlier (and more famous) book The Last Unicorn. This is never explicitly confirmed or denied, and when asked in person Beagle responds with a smile: "I don't know; what do you think?"
  • Diana Wynne Jones' The Merlin Conspiracy is described on its own jacket blurb as being a stand-alone book, and its plot is not immediately familiar. However, reading further reveals that its main protagonist, Nick, is the same Nick from Jones' Deep Secret. However, while The Merlin Conspiracy is a young adult book, Deep Secret was written for a more adult audience.
  • H. R. F. Keating's 1980 crime novel The Murder of the Maharajah, set in inter-war India, initially appears to be and was promoted as a stand-alone novel. However, the very last sentence reveals that a major, albeit unnamed, character, "the schoolmaster", is actually the father of Keating's long-running modern-day Bombay police detective protagonist, Inspector Ganesh Ghote.
  • Skyward takes place in the same universe as Brandon Sanderson's short story/novella Defending Elysium.
  • The Star Wars Legends YA book series Rebel Force can be considered this for the earlier Jedi Apprentice, Jedi Quest, and Last of the Jedi series. The two books share such characters as Ferus Olin, Lune Divinian, and possibly Trever Flume. It also ends the long-standing rivalry between Ferus and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader that had been going on since Jedi Quest.
  • The Boy with the Chainsaw Heart is set in the same universe as I Knocked Up Satan's Daughter, but wasn't advertised as such since the two novels otherwise have very little in common - they share no characters, take place in very different parts of the setting, and have markedly different tones with the latter being an Affectionate Parody of a romantic comedy while the former is a brutal, gory war story about fanaticism and injustice.
  • The Continental Op: The story "The House in Turk Street" ends with the criminal gang either dead or arrested, except for the Femme Fatale Elvira. The last line of the story is the Op swearing he'll catch her some day. Then the story "The Girl with the Silver Eyes" is a seemingly unrelated case about a disappeared fiancee named Jeane Delano. When the Op finally catches up to Miss Delano, he gets a gnawing suspicion that he's met her before—and eventually recognizes her as Elvira in disguise.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The last episode of Newhart revealed that the entire series was the dream of the protagonist from The Bob Newhart Show.
  • The protagonist of the Knight Rider remake is the son of the protagonist of the original show.note 
  • Fargo appears to merely be a Spiritual Successor to the film of the same name until we see a flashback wherein a character discovers the money that was hidden in the snow at the end of the film.
  • Tin Man intentionally fools viewers into believing that it's a Darker and Edgier science fiction retelling of The Wizard of Oz, with each of the main characters being a clear stand-in for a character in the original (the Scarecrow is a lobotomized Mad Scientist, the Tin Man is an ex-cop with a tin badge, Toto is a shapeshifting magician, etc.). After The Reveal, though, we learn that the siblings DG and Azkadelia are actually Dorothy Gale's great-grandchildren, and that Azkadelia turned to the dark side after being possessed by the spirit of the Wicked Witch of the West.
  • The final episode of Harry's Law has Lisa Nicole Carson reprise her role as Renee Raddick from Ally McBeal, placing the show in the same continuity as most of creator David E. Kelley's other shows, which most viewers had assumed it wasn't, given that several regulars from those shows (Mark Valley, Camryn Manheim, Christian Clemenson) appear as different characters on this one.
  • Done humorously at the DVD alternate ending to Breaking Bad, which implied the entire series was the dream of Hal from Malcolm in the Middle as a homage to the Newhart example.
  • The Exorcist doesn't seem to have ties with the films until episode five where Angela Rance, the mother of the possessed girl, reveals she is Regan MacNeil.
  • The Prisoner (1967) may or may not have been a follow-up to Danger Man - there are certain hints that Number 6 is John Drake from Danger Man, and one actor appears in both series playing characters with the same name. As one would expect with The Prisoner, though, any connection is kept as ambiguous as possible.
  • Kamen Rider Agito is an unusual case. The staff originally intended it to be a direct sequel to Kamen Rider Kuuga and put threads in place like the G3 Powered Armor being made from the data the Metro PD gathered from studying Kuuga, as well as the Lords and Grongi being mortal enemies. However, the writers of Kuuga complained that introducing more monsters would render Yusuke's efforts meaningless and asked the Agito staff to reconsider. Eventually they decided to just leave it up to the viewer, letting them decide if the two shows are connected or if the references are just a Mythology Gag. Later works like Kamen Rider Decade and the 2015 manga version of Kuuga, however, are much more explicit that the two series are connected, to the point where the manga actually has Agito characters like Shoichi himself join the cast in later chapters.
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O was originally presented as a Spiritual Successor to Kamen Rider Decade, being a Milestone Celebration Crisis Crossover with the rest of the Kamen Rider franchise just as Decade was. But while most Rider series had cast members make guest appearances in Zi-O, Decade's Riders Tsukasa and Kaito got far more involved in the plot and were fully-fledged supporting characters by the final arc.
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is an In Name Only adaptation of the Dirk Gently books but in the first episode, Dirk mentions dealing with a sofa and the Norse God, Thor — implying that the books happened in the show's backstory, albeit in Broad Strokes. (The tie-in comics would later reveal that the show is an Alternate Universe to the books' timeline.)
  • Power Rangers Beast Morphers was originally billed as a Spiritual Successor to Power Rangers RPM. However, the "spiritual" part went out the window in the finale when it was revealed that Big Bad Evox was actually Venjix, the Big Bad of RPM, unwittingly freed from Ranger Red's morpher by the Gold Ranger (Nate Silva) when he was younger. They even brought back RPM's mentor Doctor K to help Grid Battleforce figure out a way to defeat Venjix/Evox permanently.
  • The Mandalorian is a special case. While it's stated to take place after Return of the Jedi, for the most part, the show was rather self-contained with no ties to any previous Star Wars material. Once Gideon was revealed to have the Darksaber, however, it became clear that this was a live-action sequel to the Mandalorian storylines in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, especially once Bo-Katan appears in Season 2. Subverted in regards to the appearances of Boba Fett and Ahsoka Tano in the same season, as those ended up largely being setup for much less stealthy sequels: The Book of Boba Fett follows up on his "death" in Jedi, and Ahsoka is a full-on continuation of Rebels.
  • One episode of Murder, She Wrote served as a sequel to the obscure Film Noir Strange Bargain, complete with several of the actors reprising their roles.
  • The 2019 TV show The Demon Headmaster initially appears to be a reboot and modern update of the 1996 show, both based on the book series of the same name. But in a later episode the kids discover a spooky abandoned school which turns out to be the setting of the previous show, and find a note from Dinah Hunter, a former student now grown up and working for the secret service. This comes to a head in the finale when the original Demon Headmaster turns up, revealing the Demon Headmaster from the 2019 show to not only be a different character, but a mere minion rather than the Big Bad.
  • Star Trek: Picard starts off as a continuation of the adventures of the eponymous lead from Star Trek: The Next Generation and a new crew under his command, working its way towards including all the previous TNG cast members. By Season 3, all of them have returned, and are preparing for a Grand Finale to give them all one epic send off. Except the threat of this season? The Dominion from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or at least a splinter faction of Founders, preparing to take revenge on the Federation for their defeat years earlier, continuing on plot points from that series centered around its reunion from another.
    • Additionally, the finale reveals that the rogue Founders are in a Villain Team-Up with none other than the Borg. While the TNG crew has fought them several times, the Borg are now specifically out for revenge for what happened in the finale of Star Trek: Voyager, where Janeway's crew managed to cripple and scatter the Collective.
  • The Wonder Years (2021) initially appears to be a Continuity Reboot of The Wonder Years focusing on a middle-class black family during the 1960s instead of a white family. Then late in the first season, it's revealed that protagonist Dean Williams' older brother Bruce served in the same unit during The Vietnam War as Brian Cooper, the older brother of Winnie from the original show, meaning they both take place in the same continuity.
  • The Ultra Galaxy Fight miniseries in the Ultra Series all have endings that tie in to the New Generation Ultraman who's about to debut.
  • How I Met Your Father was advertised as little more than a gender-flipped version of How I Met Your Mother. However at the end of the pilot, it is revealed that Sid and Jesse live in Ted, Marshall, and Lily's old apartment. The Captain and Becky later make cameos and in the finale, Sophie meets Robin at the MacLaren's Pub.
  • The Winchesters was marketed as a prequel to Supernatural about Sam and Dean's parents, but early episodes feature glaring retcons and continuity errors. For starters, it has John and Mary fighting supernatural creatures together while it was previously established that John didn't learn about the supernatural until after Mary's death. It's eventually revealed as a separate world that's part of the Supernatural multiverse and takes place chronologically after the original series, with a resurrected Dean observing and narrating the events.
  • Ohsama Sentai King-Ohger has the King-Ohgers stranded on earth during episodes 32 and 33, where not only do they team up with the Kyoryugers, but it's also revealed that the six original heroes of Tikyū were from Earth all along.

  • Eminem's "Bad Guy" from The Marshall Mathers LP 2 begins very much like a typical Murder Ballad of Slim Shady plotting to kill someone he knew, but as it progresses, the narrator is actually revealed to be Matthew, the brother of Stan from the infamous namesake song in the first Marshall Mathers LP. The song takes a sharp detour as it details Matthew kidnapping Eminem himself out of revenge for ruining Stan's life, ending in a police chase and yet another murder-suicide.
  • The video for Panic! at the Disco's "Say Amen" ends with the same loud heartbeat that "This is Gospel" starts with. Word of God confirms that it's a prequel to it and "Emperor's New Clothes."
  • The Smashing Pumpkins' 2000 two-part album Machina (The Machines of God and The Friends & Enemies of God) was initally not envisioned to be a sequel to their 1995 album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness before frontman Billy Corgan confirmed in 2018 that the album's main protagonist Glass and Mellion Collie's Zero are meant to be the same character and Glass would rename himself as Shiny in the 2022-23 three-part sequel album Atum: A Rock Opera in Three Acts.

  • Reynaldo Hahn's 1926 French operetta Ciboulette turns out to be a Stealth Sequel to La Bohème. Duparquet, the middle-aged man who plays matchmaker to the principle young lovers, is eventually revealed to be Rodolfo; he helps the lovers so they won't have to lose each other the way he lost Mimí.

    Web Animation 
  • Lackadaisy, the long-awaited Animated Adaptation of the webcomic of the same name, (and the reason for the latter's infamous Schedule Slip) is actually a sequel, with a Time Skip of a mere three-and-a-half months in the comic's future. The comic begins in earnest around May 21st, 1927. On hiatus while the animation was in development, its recent strips have Venturous Smugglers Rocky, Freckle and Ivy making their debut as a whiskey-runners for a probationary supplier, while speakeasy saxophonist Zib and Professional Killer Mordecai concurrently realize through a police station encounter and mob informant grapevine that the feds are newly arrived in town. An open day planner on a station desk places these events no later than May 31st of that year. The Pilot Movie takes place in mid-September 1927, as referenced by speakeasy owner Mitzi May reading, out loud, a passage from Isadora Duncan's obituary. (Her real-life scarf-induced tragicomic death occurred September 14, 1927.) By then, Rocky and company are a slightly less green Caper Crew, the supplier is now a regular, underworld figures treat the Feds presence as common knowledge, and Zib, booked for public drunkeness and in jail for a two-month stint in-comic, is out amongst 'em and soused as ever.
  • TailsTube occasionally has episodes that tie-in to a mainline Sonic the Hedgehog game that is releasing around the same time that the episode is released.
    • Episode 3 is a stealth prequel. The episode ends with Tails telling Sonic that while he was tracing the Chaos Emeralds' energy signal, he came across a mysterious set of islands, and asks Sonic if he wants to check it out. It's implied that Tails was referring to the Starfall Islands, making the episode a prequel to Sonic Frontiers, with Tails even asking Sonic if they can bring Amy along with them.
    • Following Episode 3's example, Episode 5 ends with Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy remarking that the anniversary of their adventure on the Northstar Islands is coming up, making the episode a sequel to the events of Sonic Superstars. Amy even ponders if they could invite someone next time, though she gets cut off before the end. It's all but stated that Amy was talking about Trip the Sungazer, who makes a Heel–Face Turn during the game and joins them.

  • For quite a long time, Black Ops Civil Service webcomic Skin Horse by Jeff Wells and Shaenon Garrity looked to be the spiritual successor to Garrity's earlier Mad Science comic Narbonic, but readers suspected it was actually a sequel. It was three and a half years before the connection was officially made. The actual degree of continued story is pretty marginal, but Word of God confirms the connection was planned from the beginning and not just Ascended Fanon.
  • Jennifer Diane Reitz's Pastel Defender Heliotrope was revealed about halfway through the story to be connected to the author's earlier comic Unicorn Jelly.

    Web Original 
  • A Bright Flash turns out be a prequel to Godzilla (1954), from the POV of Godzilla himself.
  • After the events of To Boldly Flee, The Nostalgia Critic series ended with the titular character Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence and Doug Walker decided to go on to film new content, including a show called Demo Reel. When the latter proved to be mostly unsuccessful, and Doug decided that he wasn't done with the critic just yet, he made an episode where it was revealed that something went wrong with the Critic's ascent and he ended up being trapped in purgatory as Donnie DuPre, the main character of Demo Reel.
  • "Just Me In The House By Myself", the first episode of the webseries Dryvrs, stars Macauley Culkin. It is a sequel to the two first Home Alone movies, in which Kevin McCallister is shown having grown into a very dysfunctional adult.
  • In the ending segment of Who Says, it is established that Limbo was originally a Truce Zone in the afterlife before "The Dante Incident" started an arms race between Heaven and Hell to produce Innocence to use it as a power source.
  • THE MONUMENT MYTHOS ends up being a prequel to CORNERFOLKLORE, another series on ALEXKANSAS' channel.
  • StacheBros: "Mario & Luigi! Stache Bros - The Stachey Sequel" is revealed to take place before the events of Super Mario Sunshine in "Episode 2-10 - Bravo Bowser".

    Western Animation 
  • Milo Murphy's Law was regularly stated by Word of God to be one to Phineas and Ferb, with the characters of the two shows living in the same county. After a number of call backs and nods spread throughout the show's first season, the connection became explicit in the season one finale, where Doofenshmirtz is revealed to potentially be the inventor of the Time Travel technology regularly used in Milo Murphy's Law. Following a crossover special that built upon this revelation, the latter show's characters began to make regular appearances.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (2016) is a Soft Reboot of The Powerpuff Girls (1998) but also has aspects of being a sequel, albeit with Broad Strokes, such as taking place in the 2010s instead of the 2000s. For example, there are episodes explaining why the girls attend a new elementary school instead of Pokey Oaks and why Ms. Bellum is no longer assisting the Mayor.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated mostly seems to be an Alternate Continuity to any other Scooby-Doo cartoon, with some Broad Strokes indicating similar events had happened. Then the series finale has the ancient evil beneath Crystal Cove being Ret-Gone, leaving the gang in an alternate timeline where the only other one who remembers the difference is Harlan Ellison, because he remembers every alternate timeline. He then explains "This has all happened before", it's just unusual for them to remember it, and they end up going on a cross-country mystery-solving roadtrip—complete with Laugh Track. The implication is that every work in the entire franchise has been the result of multiple Cosmic Retcons of the same sort of they had just caused.
  • Star Wars Rebels was originally another mostly self-contained installment of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, in this case showing events in the galaxy in-between the first two trilogies. However, as it went on, it quickly proved to be a direct sequel to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, picking up on several hanging plot threads left over from that series, including the fates of Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex, and Darth Maul.
  • Infinity Train: The advertising for the fourth season didn't indicate that its story would be a prequel, but it's set in the late 1980s, with Amelia's takeover happening in the background of Ryan and Min-gi's adventure.
  • Adventure Time: Distant Lands: The first special focuses on BMO, and until the very end we don't see any other established charactersnote . When BMO returns to Earth he sees Finn as a kid and a teenage Jake, revealing that this was a prequel.
    • The other three specials are all sequels to Adventure Time, which isn't a surprise, but the Day in the Limelight format with so many unaging characters gave the creators room for surprises. It's only near the end of "Obsidian" that we see Finn as an adult, while "Together Again" is set after he's died as an old man, a fact hidden for the first few minutes.
  • Star Trek: Prodigy initially served as a spin-off to Star Trek: Voyager with nods to previous instalments along with a holograph of Captain Janeway being one of the main characters. However, as it went on, it quickly proved to be a direct sequel to Voyager, picking up on plot threads from that series.
  • Overlapping with Canon Welding, the Young Justice episode "Encounter Upon the Razor's Edge!" acts as one to Green Lantern: The Animated Series. In said episode, Razer makes his return wielding the Blue Lantern Ring that came to him at the series finale. At the end of the episode, Razer combines both his Blue ring and his old Red ring into a new form where he wields the powers of both Rage and Hope before returning to his quest to find Aya.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Stealth Prequel


(Spoilers) "Who... are you?"

While going to bury Sonic's body, Amy unintentionally uncovers the head of her universe's Tails, revealing the one with her to be the same Tails from "The Secret History of Sonic and Tails".

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Example of:

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