"Previously On..."

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"Previously on All The Tropes, we said..."

A clip Montages at the beginning of an episode with a voiceover, or a slide, saying "Previously on (show name)" (or a variation, "Last time on [show name]") that serves to get the viewer up to speed on the parts of the arc relevant to the episode in question. The majority of Arc-based series use these. Outside of those, usually only used if it's the beginning of a continuing part of a multi-parter. It's also known as "The Previously", or just the recap.

On shows that make regular use of them, it's common for responsibility for the voiceover to rotate through the main cast members, generally without much regard to the content of the episode.

This device can tip off the audience to important elements of the coming episode. In a competitive reality show, for example, a character featured heavily in "Previously On..." may be getting the boot. In a drama or other arc-heavy series, if you see something in "Previously On..." that didn't seem important previously, it will become important. See Chekhov's Gun.

By contrast, some anime series will begin an episode by recapping scenes from the previous episode, but these may be intercut with new scenes.

Many, many examples can be seen here

When "Previously On..." lasts for the entire episode, that's a Recap Episode.

Contrast with "On the Next...".

Examples of "Previously On..." include:

Straight Uses[edit | hide | hide all]

Anime[edit | hide]

  • Each episode of The Mysterious Cities of Gold starts with a recap of the previous episode.
  • The makers of Bleach has realised that this is a brilliant way of keeping production costs down: once the main theme finishes, viewers are treated to a lengthy expository narration explaining the plot so far. This usually takes up over 10% of the episode.
    • One fansub group, providing subtitles for Episode 227, inserted a comment asking if this was Episode 226 after over five minutes of the previous episode was shown.
    • Episode 190, having come back from an awkwardly inserted filler arc, is well over 50% a general recap of the current story arc, and then a more detailed recap of Ichigo's fights before then. Made slightly more jarring as the series became widescreen starting with the filler arc, thus borders are added to the sides of the screen for the recap footage.
  • 50% of a certain episode of Naruto consisted of recapping the previous episode's events.
  • Nearly every episode of Futari wa Pretty Cure had a scene near the beginning in which Nagisa recalled the events of the previous episode, even though there was usually no plot connection of any importance. Interestingly, the actual cliffhangers avoided this in favor of a straight montage before the opening credits.
  • Gun X Sword handles this pretty well, all things considered. It helps that the narrator changes his lead-in to the recap every few episodes.
  • Dragon Ball. Every episode has a opening narration, with a variant of, "Last time on Dragonball Z!"
  • There are two episodes (8.5 and 17.5) dedicated to this entirely in Code Geass. The staff openly admits they were done to buy time (the production was behind schedule) and both of them were left out of the official DVD releases. Other than that, C.C. usually assumes the role of recap narrator during the segments found at the beginning of several episodes.
  • The Count opens each episode of Gankutsuou by recapping the previous events in the broadest and most flowery of terms. What's most interesting is that he speaks in French for these bits.
    • That's not the Count - that's the spirit of Gankutsuou inside him. It should be a hint that he refers to the Count as "my friend".
  • This is used by many long-running series as a cost-cutting measure. Dragon Ball Z was particularly infamous for this, as it opened each episode with long recaps which typically lasted five minutes or more, and would sometimes replay entire sequences from previous episodes. The recaps even had their own theme music which played over them.
  • One Piece likes to do this during its story arcs. Currently it starts off each episode with a sepia-toned recap of the show's main premise, followed by ANOTHER recap of the current storyline. Lately these have been shortened considerably, though. It also sometimes shows a map showing where each group of characters is.
    • The premise recap used to be part of the opening sequence. Eventually the creators got tired of having narration before the theme song so they just moved it to right after the intro.
  • Early Pokémon episodes did this, basically summarizing Ash's journey up until then.
  • Digimon did this during its whole run. Two of them were recapped by a character from the previous season (Davis for Tamers, and Rika for Frontier until Melissa Fahn got a case of Real Life Writes the Plot), the other three had each episode recapped by one of the characters.
    • The original version had this in every season, always done by adult Takeru the Narrator. Interesting fact is that the BGM used for the recaps was very calm and serene, which later would contrast a lot with the events that happenned (can you picture recaps of the darker episodes of the Vamdemon/Myotismon arc with calm music? It's like that).
  • Shugo Chara has recently started doing this. The "Shugo Chara Dokki Doki" segments on "Shugo Chara Party" have their own opening theme song. A brief compilation of clips from the previous episode play while the theme song is still going (i.e., it's part of the Dokki Doki opening). Then when the opening is done, the episode starts like usual.
  • Fushigi Yuugi's "Previously On..." clip features Taiitsukun as the narrator. To spice things up, make a drinking game of how many times the word "beloved" is mentioned in the clips.
  • Spoofed on Martian Successor Nadesico, with Deadpan Snarker Ruri commenting on the events of the previous episode without actually recapping anything.
  • Slayers, addressing recap to someone absent at the scene if at all possible. Or with jokes like Unreliable Narrator describing events differently from the video recap and immediately lampshading it with her charming childish sincerity:

Lina: Yeah, I know. But it's not a total lie, okay?

  • Many, but not all, episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! began this way.
  • The first season of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood does this in most episodes, just after the Title Sequence.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei spoofed this in the third season. Absolutely none of it is actually canon, and is almost complete nonsense, made even more ridiculous with the silly voices used.
  • In multi-part episodes of Detective Conan, the couple of minutes before the title card for all episodes after the first one is used for showing what happened in previous episodes. This is often redundant because Conan will provide his own recap in Inner Monologue every so often. (In one episode, "The Alibi of the Black Dress", Conan recapped twice in the first episode (including a fairly lengthy one right before the end) and again in part two, in addition to the ""Previously On..."" segment!) This may be done as a time-filling method when a manga-based case is too long for one part but not long enough for two.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Gotham Central eventually started using "Previously in..." recap pages with collages of panels from previous issues (which were sometimes modified for clarity).
  • The Incredible Hercules was infamous for its hilarious recap pages that included characters' pictures and were sometimes 'narrated' by the characters themselves (most commonly, Amadeus Cho). This came to a head with the final issue, which summarized the essence of the plot of every single previous issue in one sentence or less.
    • Like the Cable & Deadpool example below, they were kept for the trade paperbacks.
  • Untold Tales of Spider Man featured new stories of the web-swinging hero set among the original stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. To help readers without encyclopedic knowledge of Spider-Man history, most issues include a one-page summary of recent events in both the original and new stories.
  • Cable & Deadpool had special recap pages where the characters summarized the lead-up action from sometimes even four issues back. The main characters on the page were Cable and Deadpool, with the secondary characters sometimes taking over (mostly to explain who they were so you wouldn't need to read other Marvel books to know). towards the end of the second volume it turned into a sort of talk show hosted by Deadpool, and around the middle of the third the page was replaced by Bob (Agent of Hydra)'s blog. The recaps are all in the collected edition, too (which is why they're referenced by volume, not issue).
  • In the late 70s, Marvel got hold of the Hanna-Barbera properties and would add, for example, a two-page teaser for a Dynomutt story to an issue of Scooby Doo. The story would pick up in the ensuing issue of Dynomutt with a recap of the teaser.


Film[edit | hide]

  • One of the few movies to use this trope seriously is Star Wars - the infamous opening scrolls. However, they explain what occurred between the previous movie and the one that's coming up, rather than any summation of the last movie itself.
  • The opening credits for Superman II and Spider-Man's sequels play this trope straight.
  • The Friday the 13 th sequels all started with flashbacks to the previous films. Initially it was quite a long segment of scenes and plot to fill in the viewer as to what was happening, but as the series grew (in numbers and notoriety) it became more a montage of death scenes with a sprinkling of backstory.
  • The pre-credits opening sequence of Star Trek III: The Search For Spock replays Spock's death from the end of Star Trek II. The beginning of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home has a played-straight pre-credits "Previously On" sequence recapping Star Trek III, complete with voiceover narration by Kirk.
  • A notable aversion is The Lord of the Rings. In the commentaries, Peter Jackson and company note that, due to the HSQ of the first film's prologue, the executives wanted a "Previously On" for the beginning of The Two Towers. The reply went something like "If the audience wants to know what's going on in the second installment, they should go see the first film." So we got the "Gandalf vs. Balrog, pt. 2" prologue instead, and the HSQ was maintained.
    • Apparently Cate Blanchett did record some dialogue for the scrapped "Previously On", since some of it was used for an early trailer.
  • Each Back to The Future sequel begins with the date on which the previous movie's events ended, then shows a re-enactment of that movie's ending.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Older Than Feudalism: The Odyssey begins with a brief recap of The Iliad.
  • H.P. Lovecraft's Herbert West: Reanimator magazine serial was published with this, the author hated having to do a book report on the previous chapters. In fact, he never would have written it if he didn't need the money.
  • Some of the Harry Potter books open with a recap of what happened in previous books, usually masked as Harry reminscing about his past in Hogwarts.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Brilliantly exploited in the last episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to appear on The WB (at the end of season five): clips or images from nearly all 99 previous episodes appear in an accelerating, rapid-fire montage.
    • This was then followed up with an extended "Previously" for the sixth season's premiere, summarizing all previous seasons for the benefit of UPN viewers who had never seen the show before.
    • Buffy was also guilty of spoiling their own surprises with their previouslies. Ah, here I am, sitting down to watch my favourite show... yes, previously on Buffy there was that scene with this season's Big Bad... yep, and that emotional moment between Buffy and her beau of the moment... and hey, look, a clip of Faith from four years ago. Gee, I wonder what's going to happen in this episode?
      • Joss Whedon seemed to be aware of this problem, which is why he had almost all the previouslies removed from the DVD release of the show. In several episodes you can hear the last second of the musical sting as it transitions from the recap into the proper episode, though.
      • Buffy also had one of the shortest previously ons, consisting of the short line "You're fired" before starting the episode "The Zeppo."
        • Note: They aren't removed from Netflix Instant Stream (Though every episode is there).
        • Angel used previouslies to the same effect, and the DVD's have the mixed blessing of not including any of them. On the one hand, Wesley's voice-over just sounded cool, and losing the recaps cuts down on the broadcast nostalgia factor. On the other hand, the DVD viewer's spared ten straight episodes all prefaced by a flashback to Conner and Cordelia's intimate moment...
  • Similarly, the final Farscape has a Blipvert showing a scene from every prior episode. Also, most (if not all) of the episodes in Seasons 3 and 4 (when Farscape fully transitioned from being episodic to continuous) begin with one of these.
  • Prison Break was one of many shows guilty of giving away a character's reappearance, which is something the show liked to do with characters from its past it hadn't killed and some it had.
  • Used in every episode of the new Battlestar Galactica. Known as Previous Lies for their tendency to contain redubbed or never-before-aired scenes.
    • Often descends into spoiler territory, much like the Buffy example—especially since, whenever a major character dies, the Previouslys are about them and they do the voiceover. (And, just to frak with your head, the opening credits contain Blipverts of the coming episodes which are even worse than the ever-spoiling commercials.)
  • Most Professional Wrestling pay-per-view broadcasts open with a video recap of the feuds and storylines that have led to the matches about to take place. WWE, in particular, produces extremely dramatic packages, with big symphonic music stings and a deep-voiced Opening Narration that talks about power, money, greed, glory, history, or whatever the overriding theme of the past month has been.
  • To avoid the overwrought voiceover style typical of this trope, the second series of Supernatural simply showed the words "Then" and "Now" to indicate where the recap began and ended.
    • And in an important episode, the previous events are always set to one of the greatest hits of mullet rock. A particularly famous one is Salvation - Carry On My Wayward Son. And yes, it did rock.
      • Salvation was part one of the first season finale. Carry On My Wayward Son was then used for every subsequent finale as well.
  • Used in every episode of Twin Peaks, where the convoluted plot-lines made it vitally necessary. (Particularly because ABC kept switching the show's time slot around, which made it extremely difficult to keep up with the series, and eventually lead to its downfall. Not that I'm bitter.)
  • Alias would often show relevant scenes from 2 or 3 seasons prior, instead of the more common practice of just showing the scenes from the previous episode.
  • Stargate SG-1 does something similar, showing scenes from several episodes in the previous seasons that are relevant to the new episode's plot.
    • The DVD of Ark of Truth has a feature called "The Road Taken- Prelude to Stargate Ark of Truth" that sums up the entire Ori story arc by "Previously On..."-ing.
    • Stargate Universe uses these in every episode.
  • Heroes uses the same method, showing scenes as far back as is necessary to bring the audience up to date on whichever of the many plot lines will be updated in the upcoming episode. In some cases, this involves a series of short clips that span the majority of the season.
    • Toyed around with in one episode; a clip during the "Previously On..." had not actually been shown in a prior episode, but had in fact occurred between the previous episode and the current one.
  • Lost opens with one of these every episode, as well, in order to remind people about events that occurred four episodes prior, but which hadn't been mentioned since then; the number of episodes skipped back across has been increasing since the end of the second season, as we began alternating between different sides of the island, occasionally even skipping back to a previous season. "Previously on Lost" has become one of the iconic phrases from the show.
    • Almost every episode. On rare occasion, it will open with an action sequence.
    • Ditched towards the end of the show's run, as the story was so convoluted that the showrunners simply opted for Continuity Lock Out, figuring anyone who stuck with the show that long was up to speed on what was happening. (They did throw everyone a bone by offering the entire series online for free viewing.)
    • With watching most shows on DVD, watching the "Previously On..." segment can seem redundant because they usually just concentrate on the last episode. With Lost, though, the segment is really more of a "These are the story lines we are concentrating on in this episode" than just a recap of the immediately previous episode.
  • Back at the beginning of time (or possibly the Seventies), The BBC would get viewers up to speed on their classic serials by showing still images, while the continuity announcer intoned the story so far in a monotone.
  • During its several long arcs, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine would sometimes have a "previously on DS9" that would cover the previous month or more of episodes
  • Eli Stone has a neat variation on this. We hear Eli narrating clips from past episodes, and then it turns out he's actually telling the story to someone to explain some weird thing that he's doing, like trying to bring a coffee can out of China. Of course, for this to work you have to completely ignore that for the rest of the show, he does everything he can to keep a lot of what happens secret.
  • For a truly shocking example of this trope, check out a few episodes of the cancelled television show Surface (when it comes out on DVD, of course). It played unnecessary clips, was far far faaar too long, and had a deep-voiced voiceover guy who sounded like he'd just smoked five packets of cigarettes and eaten a roll of sandpaper.
  • Despite being one of the first heavily story-arc-driven shows on American TV, Babylon 5 notably did not use "Previously On" sequences except in the case of outright two-parters.[1] The fifth season's opening credits did function as a sort-of "Previously On", consisting of a montage of quotes and clips from all four previous seasons in chronological order.
  • Somewhat overused in Supernatural, where things featured in the previously on can take away from the episode by telling you what things are going to show up in advance.
  • Doctor Who uses these in its new series multi-episode stories, usually leading up to a recap of the previous cliffhanger to segue into the title sequence. Notably, "Bad Wolf" recapped events from "The Long Game", several episodes previous, but with plot points relevant to the episode.
    • In the old series, later parts of a serial would show the last minute or so of the previous episode, something new Who supremo Steven Moffat never understood: "It doesn't tell you anything!"
  • In every season of 24 after the first, every episode except the first in the season opens with a "Previously On 24" segment that replays clips from previous episodes, along with name title for important characters. (Note that rarely is every active CTU employee introduced with a name title; instead, one member will be singled out with the title "Counter Terrorist Unit".) Season One instead opened with Jack Bauer giving a brief narration of the recent events, concluding each with "I am federal agent Jack Bauer, and this is the longest day of my life."
    • Previously On did happen in the first season, but the DVDs have them cut out.
    • The UK DVD's have all these intact including the final episode of Season Seven which didn't have one on its original airing
    • The Surrealist's 24 Dreaming generates nonsensical parodies of this spiel.
  • The OC would sometimes go a few seasons back for a "Previously On...", an indicator that a character would be returning or something that character did would be causing trouble.
  • Knightmare had these with Treguard providing a poem detailing how the quest was going and any deaths that had occurred in the previous episode. They were hilarious.
  • The Shield did this very well, condensing enough of the relevant main character and sub-character story arcs in such a way that you could understand what was going on in the episode even if you didn't get everything from not having seen them.
  • How I Met Your Mother normally doesn't use this, with one exception for the episode "Nothing Good Ever Happens After 2 A.M.," which had a more serious tone than most other episodes.
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager has these every episode. The seasons are split in half(one in summer and one in winter) and the premiere episode of one half will have a previously showing highlights of the entire previous half instead of just the last episode.
  • Kamen Rider OOO begins the episode with "These three things have happened last week...!" then it recaps 3 important key happenings to the previous episode that would lead to today's episode.
  • Lexx only used these in the third season.
  • Used in early seasons of Power Rangers. Ironically, the show was severely episodic back in those days, meaning it didn't really need a recap. When things got more and more plot heavy by seasons 4 to 6, this mostly got dropped; it's only pulled back out during two or three ep arcs.
  • Green Wing begins every episode by showing the whole previous episode, speeding through the hour-long episode in about two or three minutes, briefly slowing down for the important moments.
  • Glee does a twist on this by referring to plot points that will be relevant for the episode one is about to watch rather than what happened in the exact last episode. (For example, the "Previously On" for "Wheels" [episode 9] refers to events from "Preggers" [episode 4] because a particular story arc hadn't been referenced since then.)
    • "And that's what you missed on..." (cue Swingle Singers)
  • ER essentially lived off of this trope, beginning every episode with the famous, "Previously on ER," which brought the audience up-to-speed on the different arcs that would be addressed in the episode.
  • Previously on... (pause) Survivor.
  • "Previously on The West Wing", preceded by a distinctive drumroll, would appear at the beginning of every single episode of the show except the pilot. When the show was between major story arcs and there was nothing from previous episodes that really needed to be shown, the clips in the "Previously On" sequence would just be of the main characters saying their names and job descriptions.
  • The 4400 being a very plot driven show had this every episode. As the show went on, and each episode tried to list EVERY relevant event, they started getting comedically long, as episodes from several seasons ago would be recapped.
  • "Hi, I'm Chuck. Here's a few things you might need to know..."
    • Or maybe you just forgot.
  • Royal Pains recaps the first episode in pretty much all of the more recent ones.
  • A rather iconic one from the 80s: "Last time, on Hill Street Blues..."
  • Allo Allo, being one of only a few sitcoms which have an extended story arc, regularly had Rene, the central character, give a recap of where this episode is starting from. He generally began, [looks at the audience] "You might be wondering why I'm ..... Well, it's because ....."
  • Roswell: Half of the second season uses the device of having Maria explain recent events to the audience directly, illustrated with clips and chalkboard diagrams.
  • CSI had a "Previously on CSI..." sequence for the first three episodes, until they realized how pointless it was for an episodic Forensic Drama and dropped it.
    • The show was pretty heavy on Character Arcs in its first episodes (mainly surrounding the murdered rookie and Warrick's gambling problems), which were why they were necessary. CSI, NCIS, and other procedurals that have season-long story arcs in addition to the Killer of the Week plots will use this when the episode is about to jump full speed into those arcs.
  • The classic soap opera parody Soap opened each episode with a comic recap of the events of the previous episode, with the narrator ending by saying something like "Confused? You won't be after this episode of... Soap!"
  • The Wire uses this, notably the DVDs do not make it a "standard" part of the episode but something you select separately on the same menu you choose to play the episode on.
  • An episode of Code Name: Eternity, which aired in a completely convoluted order, had a "Previously On..." segment containing clips from episodes that hadn't aired yet.
  • Boston Legal did this every episode, with the words being spoken by any given main character (Alan Shore or Denny Crane being two frequent ones.)
  • This is how Smallville episodes that were part of a Story Arc or featured a returning character started.
  • Gossip Girl does this every episode, but the writers are rather ingenious in that seemingly innocuous lines or events that happen will more often than not get their payoffs or seem at all important until whole seasons later. Gossip Girl will literally remind you of details that happened in the 1st season in the 4th season where those events will lead to important things that happen. When a random short segment from season 2 that you've forgotten all about appears in a 4th season opener, you know something's about to go down.
    • One particular case where a seemingly throw away line paid off a season later was Jenny mentioning off hand towards the end of the 3rd season that Serena and Damien knew each other from boarding school, and something happened with one of her teachers. (Paraphrase). It's disregarded and never mentioned for the rest of the season, until it becomes the ENTIRE central plot of the first half of season 4.
  • The Golden Girls instead used the variation "On the last episode of..." whenever they did a two-parter. For whatever reason, it was always Betty White/Rose who was called upon to deliver the line.
  • In The Fades, Mac recaps the plot in a somewhat rambly manner, ending with the line "Now, where's my (Various film) box-set. Nanu-Nanu.
  • Veronica Mars: Used these to good effect--usually the Previouslys would help with something that had emotional pay-off that episode instead of making it blatantly obvious what clue in the A Plot was going to be revealed next.
  • Famously, the original Star Trek handled its only Previously ("The Menagerie, Part II") by shooting stark new footage of the principals lined up in profile against a black background as Kirk muses about the events leading up to Spock's court martial for mutiny.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Used in Alone in the Dark for the latest game, when a player chooses to continue a playthrough or restart from a previous point after leaving. The game was set out in episodic form, so this trope is quite fitting.
  • Metal Gear Solid features a "mission log" which you can read each time you load the game. It includes a two-page text recap of recent events within the game's plot. Although most players understandably skip it (it's pointless unless you accidentally skipped a cutscene or are playing someone else's save) each recap features an easter egg: unique artwork from the game's creators.
    • Many of the Tales (series) games have a similar "Synopsis" function which can be accessed from the camp menu. While it's nice to see what the creators say about their own work, its real value is in averting the Now Where Was I Going Again? issue.
  • Resident Evil: Revelations directly invokes this with its episodic stage structure. They even have a montage reel that plays when you resume a campain, even from a checkpoint in the middle of an episode.
  • Xenosaga, Rogue Galaxy and the Professor Layton games will have a small "The Story So Far" that shows up while the game loads from your save. It's nice because it reminds you what you need to do next.
  • Several games in the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise (Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow the Hedgehog) feature recaps upon loading a new "story", as the Adventure games have multiple separate storylines, and Shadow has a path system that changes the story based on gameplay. These tend to be scrolling blocks of text with a voiceover by the relevant character; Shadow included images from the level select.
  • For some inexplicable reason, the E3 2009 press conference on Alan Wake used this. The "previously" part was a (not yet released) theatrical trailer, the "now" was the gameplay demo.
    • This is due to the fact that Alan Wake will be structured like a television series, like the aforementioned Alone In The Dark.
      • The game has been released. It is divided into "episodes", each of which (except the first one, obviously) begins with a "Previously on Alan Wake" segment that plays the trope straight.
  • Pokémon has started doing this. In Fire Red and Leaf green it showed you the last few things you did. Diamond Pearl and Platinum just opens your journal which lists the last few things of each type you did. Fights, trades, items found, and zone changes.
    • Of course, unlike other examples, it was a feature added on so players resuming a game wouldn't wander around aimlessly wondering what they were doing last time, and it's entirely skippable.
  • Time Gentlemen, Please! begins this way, with a Previously, On Ben There, Dan That! intro. Of course, it's also a bit of a parody as well, in that the intro makes the events of the previous game seem far more badass and action-packed than they actually were.
  • "Previously On..." Blur: Keep the records of what you have unlocked as well as what you're going to unlock soon. Talk about great appetizer...
  • The loading screens for Saints Row 2 show three stills from the last post-mission cutscene you watched, with the customizable Boss represented by a bald, muscular man in a sleeveless shirt. When you're starting a new game, the stills are of the boat explosion that ended the first game.
  • The prologue of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night acts as a "Previously On..." for Rondo of Blood, as it is a remake of the final stage of Rondo, showing how Richter defeated Dracula.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • The start of the multi-part El Goonish Shive storyline, "New And Old Flames", featured redrawn panels from the previous six years of the comic, ending with "And now, the continuation." May count as a Spoiler Opening although there have been several clues in the sketchbook hinting at certain characters and plot threads being revisited.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • "Previously, on X-Men..."
  • Used conspicuously on Avatar: The Last Airbender, in that only a handful of episodes in their initial airings used a "Previously On..." sequence. When the series was stripped and reruns began playing on weekdays, all episodes (save the first) contained the sequence. It was later revealed by a staff member that Nick makes them do that, so that viewers can enjoy an episode without having to have seen each episode that came before it. However, most fans disagree with the practice, due to the fact that clips have been known to spoil vital aspects of the episode. The DVD releases do not feature these segments.
    • While the first season DVD releases may be mercifully free of these, sadly the same cannot be said for the second season which has a "Previously On..." segment before every single episode.
    • An extreme case with the Grand Finale, which has one that last two whole minutes. This is even worse on the DVD: instead of being all at the beginning in one part, it split them up among the episodes, both making it even more interruptive pain in the ass as well removing the awesome music that played in the TV version.
    • What makes it subtly brilliant is that the person (Roku) who always says "Previously, on Avatar" is the previous Avatar.
      • Except for some dubs in other countries, where that person would be Iroh.
    • Jack De Sena (voice of Sokka) is on record as being proud of the series having complex-enough story-telling to need them.
    • The Legend of Korra has a "Previously On..." sequence. Hilariously, it's done in the style of an old serial movie, complete with grainy, sepia-toned footage and a stereotypical "newsreel" announcer (who is also the in-universe pro-bending announcer).
  • Beginning with its second season Gargoyles used the "Previously On..." on every episode, to bring the viewer up to speed on the back-stories of the characters involved in the episode.
  • X-Men: Evolution started doing this around the third season, when it actually got a serious serial plot.
  • This happens on every episode on Total Drama Island as a parody of reality shows.
  • "Previously, on a Very Special Episode of Clone High..."
  • The animated adaptation of Tintin would begin each "Previously On..." segment with the phrase "It all started when..."—since each episode was a two-parter, it happened a lot.
  • The Powerpuff Girls episode "Just Desserts" is a sequel to "Supper Villain", which came 16/8 episodes prior. It opens with a recap of "Supper Villain" that begins "Last week, in the city of Townsville..."
    • To clarify the 16/8, every quarter-hour episode of the The Powerpuff Girls is paired with another in a half-hour segment. "Just Desserts" is the 16th episode after "Supper Villain" and they are both the second episode in their respective segments (Does this make sense?)
  • ReBoot used this once in the first season for a two-part episode. A variant was used in the first episode of season 3, where the opening sequence used clips (only video, no audio besides opening music) from the previous episode. Suspiciously absent afterward, despite the season-long plot. The "Previously on..." openings returned for the four-episode-long plots in season 4.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes managed to go pretty far into the first season without these, but Disney XD added some to episodes 20 onward. Some of them had their recaps removed for digital distribution and home video release.
    • Every episode in Season 2 has had these, which recap developments in previous episodes that might end up being relevant in the forthcoming episode (i.e.: the second episode's sequence showed clips from previous episodes involving: Captain America losing his shield, Iron Man confronting AIM, and SHIELD asking the Avengers to register with them.)
  • Justice League featured "Previously On" for the second and third episode of multi-parters. This wasn't needed later since the "Unlimited" seasons had a one episode format.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (which provides the page image) has the episodes "Friendship is Magic, part 2", "The Return of Harmony Part 2", and "A Canterlot Wedding - Part 2" open this way. Notably, these sorts of two-parters are (up to this point, at least) saved for the bigger, darker adventures in the series - hence the "about to get REAL" caption.
  • The Recess episode "The Madness of King Bob" opens this way, as it's a Sequel Episode to "The Big Prank".
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle virtually defines this.

Parodies[edit | hide]

Anime[edit | hide]

  • Puni Puni Poemi starts out with a recap of previous episodes that were never produced - which also gives the impression that the show is a lot more serious than it is.
  • Bobobo-Bo Bo-bobo had a recap of the previous episode in the series premiere, though as Beauty points out the narrator is reading the wrong script. Sadly, the joke was removed from the TV showing of the English dub.
  • Ruri Hoshino takes these opportunities to display her finest snark. Played with in an episode when it's revealed she's secretly the princess of Not Switzerland, and the entire episode is silly and embarrassing for all parties involved. Ruri hurriedly rushes through the beginning of the next episode.
  • Parodied in Zan Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei. Every episode of the third seasons opens on a "previously on" presented in storybook format. Except that none of the stories being presented happened, and don't make a whole lot of sense.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • On Mystery Science Theater 3000 in episode 905, "The Deadly Bees". The Teaser shows the crew of the Satellite of Love in blipverts of situations that never happened, with Magic Voice as the narrator.
  • On Stargate SG-1 in episode 200, "200". The ""Previously On..."" sequence begins with several real scenes, but then a scene featuring a meeting with the Furlings, who are notable only for their absence. After being treated to a planetary explosion, we cut to Sam Carter saying, "But that never happened!" while reading a script.
  • In the Father Ted episode "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse", a 'previously on' scene is shot to mimick those of NYPD Blue, complete with gruff American voiceover and shaky camerawork. The recap scenes were reshot, since the previous episode, "Escape From Victory", was shot in the standard three camera style.
  • Cheers once had an amusing recap, narrated in a rambling fashion by Coach, who forgot significant plot details and had to start over.
    • Another recap featured Cliff explaining what happened in an episode that happened to be Frasier's first appearance, while showing a slideshow of his (Cliff, that is) vacation in Florida.
  • Believe Nothing started each episode with a "Previously On" showing outrageous events that never happened on the show, but did set up the plot of the current episode.
  • One episode of Friends started with Joey sitting down explaining the previous episodes to the audience. As he explained each characters subplot he'd end up saying "I don't really know what happened there" and "I don't really know what happened there either". He finished with "Y'know what, hold on, let me go get Chandler."
    • Friends recaps were normally done by Phoebe, but naturally Joey messed it up the one time he got to do it.
  • My Name Is Earl started the second of a two parter with a parody of Prison Break's "previouslies", because the plot of the episode was Earl and Randy on a manhunt for an escaped convict.
  • The final episode of The Adventures of Lano and Woodley, "I Love You Baby Pt. 2" opens with a "Previously On..." featuring things that never actually happened, such as Col becoming an international jewel thief. The two main characters break into this to explain that it was intended to scare the crap out of viewers who would think "Wait, what? Did I miss all this?!"
  • Currently, each episode of America's Funniest Home Videos opens with host Tom Bergeron intoning "Previously on AFV...", followed by a montage of especially goofy clips from the actual previous episode.
  • The first episode in season 4 of That Mitchell and Webb Look begins with a "Previously On..." clip showing a number of dramatic looking scenes from this sketch show with no continuity whatsoever.

"Coming up on the Gift Shop Sketch: the end of the Gift Shop Sketch! But first: the bit before the end!"

  • Arrested Development often started with "previously on Arrested Development" of scenes that weren't in the previous episode.
  • The Pigs In Space announcer on The Muppet Show would usually introduce the set-up of this week's episode by claiming it was a continuation of the previous episode. Which it wasn't.

"As you may recall, in the last episode of Pigs In Space the Swinetrek was caught in a deadly asteroid field. If you don't recall that, I'm not going to remind you."

"And then a man told us about what had happened on the show so far, and a great hammer came and hit him on the head... I don't remember that."

  • The 11th season premiere of Frasier, opened with one of the show's distinctive Act Break title cards reading "Previously", showed the "Previously On..." segment, and then put up another title card reading "Subsequently", before showing the episode proper.


Movies[edit | hide]

  • Done for laughs in Russian movie "Diamond Arm". The movie is declared as "a story in two parts with a prologue and an epilogue". The "second part" is just about ten minutes long, takes part immediately after the end of the first one and is preceded with a "brief summary of the first part"...that is completely unintelligible and scrolls over the screen in a second.
    • The "second part" even has a name, "The Bone Leg."


Radio[edit | hide]

  • Parodied on Armando Ianuccis Charm Offensive, in an edition where random members of the audience gave their names and job titles and had "Previously On..." sequences performed for them, with copious helpings of snark.


Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • One episode of Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series, ending with "Wait a minute, did any of that stuff actually happen?"
  • Homestar Runner did it in the Strong Bad Email "fingers", which has a Batman-style montage of lots of emails asking the one question Strong Bad hates to hear ("How do you type with boxing gloves on?"), complete with narration: "Frustration of frustrations! It's all they ever ask! Will they never cease?! Stay tuned to find out!"
    • The later Homestar Runner 'toon "DNA Evidence" played this trope straight (albeit with Homestar managing to mispronounce "previously"): all the instances shown where the phrase "DNA evidence" was mentioned actually appeared previous Strong Bad Emails.
  • "Last week, on Red vs. Blue..." "Uh, there wasn't an episode last week, we were at E3." I mean the week before last..."
    • Red vs. Blue parodied this a couple of other times as well on their DVD extras. The season 2 DVD includes a feature in which Caboose relates the events of season 1 in a characteristically inaccurate and moronic fashion. The season 5 DVD contains a feature that claims to be a recap of seasons 1-4, but it's really just a rapid-fire compilation of every curse word spoken on the series up to that point.
  • AMV Hell 4 opens up with the entirety of AMV Hell 3, albeit sped up a bunch. Note that AMV Hell 3 was about an hour and a half long and has nothing at all to do with AMV Hell 4.
  • Space Tree the Space Tree in Space does it three times. Two of them reference the same events, and even have the same dialogue, but one is poorly-drawn with equally bad voices and the other is done in an over-the-top way, depicting the characters as muscular and talking dramatically. The last one does it in the same way, but the character narrating says "Previously on Internet Cartoon Website...", mispronouncing previously as pre-vy-ous-lee. This one reuses animation from the first episode (but the dialogue is about the previous episode).
  • Used hilariously in Happy Tree Friends. One episode began with a 2-minute "Previously On..." that was actually just a montage of various deaths from previous episodes. When the episode actually starts, it's just Lumpy knitting for ten seconds, then a 2-minute "On the Next..." that was, again, just a montage of previous deaths.
  • Sometimes, when the creators of Sailor Moon Abridged decided to skip some Sailor Moon episodes, Serena would detail events of the skipped story by telling viewers what happened "last time on Sailor Moon", occasionally giving her own details and leaving out major points (eg, her recap of the episode where she and Darien met an artist went into no detail at all about the artist).
    • For one recap, Serena simply said "a lot of stupid stuff happened" in the skipped episode, and she doesn't find it worth talking about.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Sluggy Freelance, a story-based comic which is approaching its 20-year mark, has to use recaps every so often, and has taken to making them more palatable by couching them in fourth-wall-breaking parody.
    • Parodied in a "Previously On..." segment for "Stick Figures In Spaaaaaace!", in which all of the panels shown are picked at random, and while they technically happened previously, they do nothing to actually explain what's going on.
  • The webcomic Terror Island parodied this by using its alliterative method of flashbacks.
  • This Dinosaur Comics strip, which summarises six previous strips in a panel each.
  • Both parodied and used straight in this Shortpacked, which is just a random collection of dramatic images from the past (some of which are Imagine Spots, and one of which never happened in any form) before Mike gives the necessary past information in a massive Wall of Text in the last panel.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In the first episode of Clerks the Animated Series, a voice says, "Previously on Clerks", and then it cuts to a test pattern. The end of the episode also featured an "On the Next..." with the same gag, implying that the makers expected to get canceled after one episode. They were wrong; they got canceled after two episodes.
  • The Family Guy episode "Brian Does Hollywood", the second half of a two-part episode, opens with a montage consisting of the characters reenacting common Cliff Hanger scenes, including a Red Wire Blue Wire scene. Only the final line in the montage has any relevance to the actual story line, and even then it wasn't really a line from the previous episode.
    • Not quite a parody, but "Lois Kills Stewie" opened with Tom Tucker and Ollie Williams recapping the previous episode, "Stewie Kills Lois", as if it were a news story. Sort of.
  • The first episode of The Adventures of Sam and Max Freelance Police did a recap of fantastical stuff that never happened in the show.
  • Clone High, which uses it at the start of every episode, even though the only thing that the current and previous ep usually have in common is the Abe clone's girl problems.
  • The Venture Brothers episode "Escape to the House of Mummies Part II" has a "previously on" segment detailing an entire fictional episode and an "On the Next..." segment for another non-existent episode. The "clips" in these segments imply various wild plot elements that are not entirely unbelievable in comparison with other episodes, making the joke somewhat ambiguous.
    • However, "Showdown at Cremation Creek Part II" was the second part of a genuine two-parter. Its Previously On segment replayed the entire previous episode, but it was severely sped up so the whole thing went by in about ten seconds. Only the very last line was played normally.
  • Subverted in Frisky Dingo.

Killface: "We don't have a lot of time for exposition, so if you can't remember what happened between then and now... try iTunes?"

    • The next episode also has a "Previously On..." segment with some scenes that we didn't see in the last episode, as well as some scenes we did see, but with different dialogue.
  • A mild subversion in the "Imaginationland" South Park episodes. The screen says "Previously, on Imaginationland" while Cartman says "Previously, on Battlestar Galactica."
    • Subverted in "201", where instead of a recap of everything that happened in the previous episode, there's a story of Mitch Connor (from "Fat Butt and Pancake Head")'s experience in Saigon.
    • Parodied in "The Return of Chef" (which wasn't a two-parter) by showing scenes of Chef leaving the town to join the Super Adventure Club in this manner, followed by the narrator opening the actual episode by saying, "And now, Part 2 of 'Life Without Chef'."
    • "Good Times With Weapons" featured one when returning from commercial with an announcer discussing how "the legendary battle of Tokutawain" earlier in the episode began and how the ninjas were forced to work together or else they would all be grounded.
  • Animaniacs gets in on this, with one episode opening with 'Previously on Animaniacs:', followed by parodies of famous action and suspense scenes with a cliffhanger ending...sort of.
  • The 90's animated Spider-Man: The Animated Series and X-Men series both did this from episode 2 on. In the PlayStation Spider-Man 2 game(not the movie adaptation, as the first film hadn't yet been released, not only are we treated to a "Previously On..." , but villains in jail from the first game are spotted by the defeated baddies of the second. The narration and style exactly mirrored the Animated Series.
  • Drawn Together was know to do this from time to time, often playing up alot of the typical "Previously On" subjects.
  • The Simpsons Parody Episode of 24 opens with "Previously on The Simpsons...", complete with 24-style character descriptions. Obviously, since the previous episode hadn't been a parody of 24, none of the events shown (such as Principal Skinner assigning Lisa to the Counter Truancy Unit) had ever been seen before. They did serve to set up the plot of the episode, though.
    • The most recent season ended with the question of whether Ned Flanders and Edna Krabbaple would continue their budding relationship after Ned was freaked out by her sexual history. Instead of a Previously, the resolving episode opens with Comic Book Guy informing us that he doesn't care what happens, because "I spent my summer on a more worthwhile endeavor: savaging Mr. Popper's Penguins online."
  • The Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Jacksonville" opens with a recap of events that did not happen in the previous episode, "Glen Campbell". Among these are Space Ghost and Zorak in a jungle, shocked upon hearing of a stolen treasure map, Space Ghost confronting two Moltars, and Zorak revealing that he is pregnant.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 parodied this trope twice, once in a KTMA episode with Joel (The Million Eyes of Sumuru) and once in a ninth season episode with Mike (The Deadly Bees).
  • Freakazoid! also parodied the trope, once during an Affectionate Parody of Gargoyles featuring lawn gnomes.
  • American Dad (by the same team as Family Guy) spoofed this in one episode. It opens with a Previously On segment that shows Stan and Roger trapped in an elevator, which results in their becoming best friends. Over the course of the episode, Roger makes out with Stan's wife (while drunk), buries her alive to keep her from telling, and then is prepared to let Stan divorce her all to preserve their friendship; when it looks like the divorce will affect him, he buries Stan alive and finally admits the truth. This is followed by a "On the Next..." segment, where we see a dirt-covered Stan beating the shit out of Roger (who's dressed in a cat costume for some reason) and taking away his friendship necklace.

And now, the conclusion...

  1. "A Voice in the Wilderness", "War Without End" and "Movements of Fire and Shadow"/"The Fall of Centauri Prime"