Foregone Conclusion

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Most dramatic tension in story-telling comes from the audience being ignorant of the work's ending. Audience members invest in characters and plots and want to know how they are treated and resolved, respectively.

Sometimes, however, authors choose to go a different route. They will make known to the audience how their story ends before they even begin telling it. Sometimes they'll do so with an explicit statement (such as in a Spoiler Opening), sometimes by writing a prequel that ends right where the original work begins. Whatever the case may be, the author has given himself quite a task. He must find some way to establish tension and doubt when everyone knows how the story is going to end.

This can be easily confused with several tropes. It Was His Sled deals with twists or endings that, thanks to their assimilation into popular culture, no longer surprise us although the author originally did not intend for everyone to know the ending. How We Got Here and In Medias Res are related, but not identical. And movies or shows which, by their predictable nature, indicate how the work ends don't count either: the audience already knows that the good guys will win, that Batman will survive to fight another day, same-bat-time-same-bat-channel, yes. But the ending isn't canonically established; theoretically, Adam West could die at the end of an episode, but realistically we know he won't.

Authors might cheat with this a bit (or a lot), either by having the "ending" shown be context-sensitive and open to an entirely different interpretation as the audience gets to know the set up, or with an outright Twist Ending by having the "end" shown in a How We Got Here like fashion be only the first 10 of 15 minutes, and ending much differently than is likely.

Or the whole thing isn't about what happens at the end, but how it happens. The Whodunnit becomes a Howdunnit, and so on.

Can also be used to crank Dramatic Irony Up to Eleven.

Historical Fiction is tied to this trope, since history ain't changing (unless the author pulls a Written by the Winners and claim that the events as portrayed in his work is what "really" happened).

Compare External Retcon, where the audience is expected to be familiar with an entire existing story.

Doomed by Canon is a subtrope of this, and deals with prequel characters and their attempts to either take out the main cast of the original story or survive to the end, attempts which we know are doomed because of the original story. Framing Device entails this to a certain extent, as any character alive to tell or hear the tale must have survived, and the setting may also hint.

Oh, and X Dies is also a subtrope.

This is Older Than Feudalism. Everyone who heard Homer sing already knew that Troy falls and Achilles and Hector both die; nobody walked out of Sophocles's play saying, "Dude, he married his mom?" There's a long, long tradition of retelling the story everyone knows.

Historical In-Joke is sometimes like this, but sometimes subverts it.

Examples of Foregone Conclusion include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Wolf's Rain begins as Kiba lies dying in the snow. The scene is repeated near the end (Episode 30), but it's not quite the end of the scene as Kiba then falls through the ice and drowns, and it's followed by a Distant Finale.
  • "September 21st, 1945. That was the day I died."
  • Rose of Versailles: Shoujo drama surrounding the court of Versailles on the eve of the Revolution. While the fates of the fictional characters are uncertain, everyone and his dog knows what happens to Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.
  • Since it's the Prequel to the adventures of their Reincarnations, it's a pretty good guess that Konzen, Kenren, and Tenpou are going to die in Saiyuki Gaiden, yes? We also know that Goku is going to lose all of his memories of these events and be trapped in a lonely mountain cave for several hundred years, that Nataku will choose permanent suspended animation, and we can make a pretty educated guess that Goujun will die at some point, too (but not before writing an account of the events), seeing as Jeep/Hakuryu is probably his reincarnation.
    • Also, the prequel Saiyuki Ibun which details how Houmei became Koumyou Sanzo. Two of his fellow sanzo-candidates are Toudai (future Goudai Sanzo) and Tenkai (future Maten sutra sanzo). We know Goudai's eventual fate from the Burial plot arc and we know that Koumyou will be Tenkai's successor for the Maten sutra. The story is in how they get there.
  • From Bleach, we have the entire "Turn Back The Pendulum" story arc. If you read the story, you know how it ends. Kubo did this very well, because we didn't know how the characters ended up the way they did. In fact, it's probably his best writing of the entire series.
  • Pluto is based on an arc of Astro Boy, so naturally there are quite a few events that are expected to come to pass for anyone familiar with the original. Gesicht, for example? Dead.
  • Baccano! does this by showing the very spoileriffic aftermath of the two main plots (i.e. Firo and Luck becoming immortal, Ladd losing an arm and being thrown off the train, most of the focus characters surviving the Flying Pussyfoot massacre, Chane accepting Claire's proposal) in the very first episode. The trick is that it's entirely out of context and makes no sense until you get through the series at least once, and that the real wham moments (such as the Rail Tracer being Claire) are left for the rest of the show.
    • Unless you read the first episode credits, of course.
  • The Ga-Rei Zero anime does this as part of its three starting Wham Episodes. In the first episode that entire squad is revealed to be made entirely of Dead Stars Walking, which sets the tone but doesn't actually invoke this trope. In the second we meet the real cast, including familiar faces from the Ga-Rei manga... whom Yomi proceeds to kill. Finally, with the third we flashback to the first time Yomi and Kagura meet, at the latter's mother's funeral, and the anime continues from there, leading up to Yomi's Start of Darkness. The viewer knows it's going to happen, knows it's going to be very painful (and it is), and the tension is derived in three ways: firstly, seeing how Yomi went insane, secondly, a desire to see which of the many sympathetic characters we see manage to live to the end of it and thirdly, whether or not Yomi can overcome the More Than Mind Control once the series catches up to the second episode. It's one hell of a ride.
  • Akagi having never lost was clearly established in the author's earlier manga Ten. So in the Akagi it was obvious that he would have to win every single game making him an Invincible Hero
  • Shaman King practically revolves around one of these, given that Hiroyuki Takei practically tells the audience Hao will become the Shaman King. There is no one in the series capable of standing up to him. He still does an amazing job of revealing backstories and setting up the ending on the way there.
  • Uzumaki is set up in its opening pages as being a retelling of the events after the fact by lead character Kirie. Subverted, in that the obvious conclusion that this means she makes it through intact isn't true in the end.
  • Romeo X Juliet. Well, duh!
  • Lampshaded in Mahou Sensei Negima: after the dramatic tale of Nagi and Arika, it's pointed out that if they hadn't survived Negi would have never been born.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia, for anyone who knows their history, the Axis will lose.
    • Although it has little bearing on the series' continuity itself...despite the name.
  • Basilisk has an opening narration indicating that the efforts to make peace between the clans failed and everyone killed each other off ignominiously. The series shows how it happened.
  • After viewing the first episode of the anime adaptation of Berserk which shows Guts as a Badass, BFS-wielding, Handicapped Badass Jerkass, who seems to have a beef with a dude named Griffith, and seeing that a big portion of the series is in fact a flashback, we all know how Guts is going to end up by episode 25: the rest shows us how.
  • One Piece has the Skypiea arc, where a giant island got blown up into the clouds, during the arc, you learn about how some four hundred years in the past, an explorer was best friends with a warrior from the aforementioned island, the explorer leaves and promises to return, considering that the Straw Hat's learn about the explorer from a fairytale/propaganda piece where he gets executed and the main characters are on the island in the clouds, it's not exactly a surprise that the story doesn't end well.
  • A Naruto Shippuden filler takes a character from the manga who we only knew from sourcebooks and from a manga spread and spread it out. The character is Utakata, a rogue ninja from the hidden mist village and host of the six-tailed beast. Unfortunately, anyone who read the manga knew that he did not show up and was implied to have been captured off-screen. So this obviously was not going to end on a happy note...
    • Likewise, the manga's flashback story showing Minato's life prior to the Nine-Tails' attack. We've already been told beforehand that he and his wife will die immediately after their son Naruto is born, with Minato's final act being to seal the Nine-Tails into Naruto's body.
  • Subverted in the Pokémon episode "Holy Matrimony!", where James tells Jessie, Meowth, and the twerps the sad story of his childhood as an orphan, living alone with only his Growlithe for companionship. James dies at the end of his (obviously fictional) story, and promptly confuses himself when Misty reminds everyone that he's still alive.
  • Windaria: The story is narrated by Alan after he's gone old and grey and so a number of things are clear from the start: 1. Alan survives the story. 2. Marie does not. 3. The world has recovered from the damage about to unfold. 4. Alan has done something so terrible that not even being lauded as the hero who rebuilt the world can ease his guilt. The how of the story is not even alluded to and no other character is mentioned so there are still plenty of surprises.
  • This trope is rather apparent in both of the Dragonball Z TV specials:
    • In Bardock: The Father of Goku, it's pretty clear that Freeza destroys Planet Vegeta and all its inhabitants at the end.
    • In The History of Trunks, Gohan dies, Trunks becomes a Super Saiyan and Bulma builds a time machine so that Trunks can return to the past.
  • Senko no Night Raid: Japan would eventually plunge into imperialistic militarism and ravage China, and the rest of the world would also descend to war eventually, despite whatever efforts the protagonists might attempt to do.
  • Fate/Zero, as a prequel to Fate/stay night, is subject to this. Anyone who is familiar with the latter will know that the Grail is corrupted, and Kiritsugu will be forced to order Saber to destroy it, resulting in the fire. Kiritsugu saves Shirou by implanting Avalon in him and adopts him, and he will die from the the Grail's curse a few years later, without ever seeing his daughter again. Kotomine will give in to his inclinations and become a villain. Kariya will fail to rescue Sakura, and Rider will be unable to convince Saber that her ideals are flawed. Tokiomi, Aoi, and Irisviel are all Doomed by Canon as well.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The Death of Superman got enough news coverage that CNN should have used spoiler warnings. Thus most people knew, at least from the beginning of the issue where it occurred, that the cover blurb was not just an example of Covers Always Lie. Even those living under rocks until the collected edition (or novelization) was published would generally have a good idea of what was going to happen, with titles like The Death of Superman, The Return of Superman, and The Death and Return of Superman.
  • In Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America (comics), Captain America dies. The tension comes more from the whodunnit angle and general Avengers infighting.
    • In the upcoming Captain America Reborn, Captain America comes Back from the Dead. Who know how the tension will play out here.
  • This is why even the writers for Legion of Super-Heroes came to regret their first Flash Forward to the characters' adulthood—everyone now knew who was going to survive and who wasn't, ruining tension.
  • Actual cover of a Deathstroke, The Terminator comic: "Not a gimmick, Not a hoax, it's the Death of Slade Wilson!!" It's not permanent...
  • The current writer of The Mighty Thor (for the moment renamed Journey into Mystery) is making sure to point out that Loki turning evil again IS NOT a foregone conclusion, since Thor destroyed the Ragnarok cycle which contained the Norn's propehcies that decreed the destinies of the Asgardians. Of course, the whole "Loki gets turned into a kid with only his childhood memories" helps. he's currently in the Antihero area.


Fan Fiction[edit | hide]

  • The Council Era is a Mass Effect fanfic centered on the Rachni Wars (in the first half, the 83 CE arc) and the Krogan Rebellion for both that and the 783 CE arc. In the first half, three species that don't exist in the video games are introduced. All three are, naturally, extinct by the end of the story. Other foregone conclusions include: the krogan will be used to reduce the threat of the rachni by the end of the first half (as stated in canon); the first half covers the build-up to the Krogan Rebellion, said rebellion will end with the genophage (a fertility plague that is killing off the krogan in the games) being released (again, as stated in canon). These Foregone Conclusions are bound to happen when you're writing a fic set in the past and intend to stick to canon. It doesn't lessen the drama of the storyline, though.
  • Naruto's The Girl From Whirlpool is about how Minato and Kushina, who are Naruto's parents meet and eventually fall in love.
  • Interestingly for a fanfic, Past Sins derives its foregone conclusion not from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic canon, but from its cover art. Every last scene depicted happens....
  • From Fallout Equestria Pink Eyes, the little filly Puppysmiles just wants to find her mom. The only problem is the world ended and due to her ghoulification, it's been centuries since her mother could have plausably been alive.


Film[edit | hide]

Oliver: What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach, the Beatles, and me?

  • Titanic. Actually, this can work with most movies based on historical events.
    • Titanic is a double example. You know that the Titanic is going to sink, and you know right from the start that the main character survives.
    • May also qualify as Prophecy Twist - viewers paying attention to Rose's backstory at the beginning will know immediately which man she ends up with, as her last name is given as Dawson. However, at the end of the movie we learn the circumstances surrounding this were not marriage.
  • An odd variation came with A Beautiful Mind. Although the major plot developments will be a Foregone Conclusion to those familiar with John Nash's life, the script was written with the (correct) assumption that most of the audience wouldn't know him from Adam.
  • Apollo 13 manages to wring surprising amounts of tension and suspense out of the story, even though you should know the ending already. They don't get to the moon, but they do survive.
  • Milk actually comes right out and says that Harvey Milk is killed within the first few minutes of the movie. Interestingly, though, the movie even continues after he dies.
  • Letters From Iwo Jima. Even the Japanese are Genre Savvy enough to realize that their situation is basically Unwinnable. Really, the only question is whether Saigo will survive the battle or not. He does.
  • Both Gandhi and Michael Collins start after the death of the main character, and then go back and tell us the story of how the British Empire was humiliated.
  • Similarly, Evita starts with Eva Peron's funeral before flashing back to her early teenage years.
  • Troy falls in... Troy. 'Twas ever thus.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Even if you're not familiar with Hamlet, you can probably guess what happens to the two leads at the end.
  • Opening Monologue of American Beauty includes the line "in less than a year I will be dead." The tension then comes from the question "How?" which isn't answered until the end, at which point several different people have very different reasons to consider murdering him.
    • Similarly, the beginning of Michael Clayton shows him survive an assassination attempt. Who wanted him dead? Watch the rest of the film to find out.
  • The Expository Theme Tune of The Guns of Navarone tells that the Good Guys will manage to blow the guns up. The movie tells how.
  • At the end of the movie Penn and Teller Get Killed, they do. There's a closing narration along the lines of, "Well, what did you expect to happen?"
  • The Star Wars prequels, unless you were living under a pop culture rock since the '70s.
  • Citizen Kane starts with the main character dying, and the rest is told in flashback. So we know he's going to die.
  • Breach begins with a news report on the arrest of Robert Hanssen. Since the movie is based on real events, which did indeed end with his arrest, this is understandable.
  • The Strangers begins with saying that the two protagonists left a wedding reception in 2005 and nobody knows exactly what happened next, all but saying that they died. Then they show some parts of the ending. Though the movie CHEATS at the end by having the female lead IMPOSSIBLY survive
  • Fallen begins with a voiceover from the main character: "I wanna tell you about the time I almost died." Subverted in that it's the demon Azazel who's really saying it.
  • Sunset Blvd. starts with a shot of the main character and narrator lying dead in a swimming pool. Being a movie about a screenwriter and an old movie starlet, it sure as hell makes you wonder the whole length of the movie.
  • Confidence begins with the main character, Jake Vig, lying dead from a gunshot wound, his opening line of narration "... So I'm dead." Inverted somewhat in that it turns out Jake's death is faked; his assertion that he is "dead" is only accurate in a sense that he is considered to be dead by the people who wanted him dead.
  • Moulin Rouge begins with Ewan Macgregor's character typing "The woman I loved is dead." So there you go.
    • And the 1955 version is based on the actual life of Toulouse-Lautrec (and the novel).
  • Boys Don't Cry is based on the last days of a famous murder victim, so the climax of the film is a very carefully choreographed Mexican Standoff, Subverted Trope when the inevitable happens.
  • Valkyrie: Even if you are not familiar with the historical details, everyone knows that Adolf Hitler will survive the bombing.
  • Downfall: considering it's a movie advertised as "Hitler's last days", you'd have a hard time finding someone who doesn't know how it ends.
  • Memento starts with Leonard shooting a man dead. The rest of the movie is spent finding out why he thinks he did it. An interesting variation on the trope, as the chronology of the movie mostly runs backwards and so it's natural to have the conclusion at the start.
    • The chronology alternates between going forward and backwards, and meets in the middle in the climax.
  • Heavenly Creatures begins with Pauline and Juliet running through a park covered in gore, screaming that Mummy's 'terribly hurt'. The rest of the film reveals how they came to this sorry pass.
  • For Ip Man, everyone watching it already knows that he would survive the Japanese invasion of China and become Bruce Lee's martial arts master.
  • DOA: "I want to report a murder -- mine!"
  • The film Barry Lyndon makes excessive use of this trope. Everything that is going to happen is stated outright by the title cards and the narrator well in advance of the outcome. In his review, Roger Ebert even suggested this is the entire point of the film.
  • You might notice this trope at play in John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars as soon as we find out how the alien spirits operate. There is NO discernable way to kill them, and they will just continue jumping from body to body if their current host is killed. This means that in order to even temporarily defeat them, our heroes would have to kill every human being on the entire planet of Mars, including themselves. Guess which side wins?
  • In Seven Pounds the movie starts with the main character calling in his own suicide to 911.
  • Drag Me to Hell
  • Carlitos Way. We know he gets shot.
  • Public Enemies is based on the life of the infamous John Dillinger... I'll give you two guesses how it ends...
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, based on the novel of the same name. God only knows how it will end.
  • La bonne annee starts with a character getting out of jail in 1973 then cuts to the same character preparing a robbery in 1966.
  • Much of Inglourious Basterds concerns two independent plots to kill Hitler and the rest of Nazi high command in a movie theater in France, in 1944. Since we all know how Hitler really died, there's only one way this can possibly end. Surprisingly, they succeed: Eli Roth shoots Hitler dead.
  • In almost any story that has a Narrator you can safely assume the narrator will live. There are some deliberate subversions of course, including ones where a ghost is narrating.
    • This is subverted in Casino, where Joe Pesci's character, Nicky Santoro, has his narration cut off in mid sentence by the vicious beating that leads to his death.
    • Referenced in Kick-Ass; since Dave has been narrating all the way through, when we see him tied to a chair and being tortured by Mooks, it seems reasonable to think he will survive. He promptly calls the audience on it; "if you're reassuring yourself that I'm going to make it through this since I'm talking to you now, quit being such a smart-ass! Hell dude, you never seen Sin City? Sunset Boulevard? American Beauty?" He survives despite pointing out that he might not.
    • The Opposite Of Sex: Narrator Dede and her ex-boyfriend struggle over a pistol, which goes off. The both lie there for a moment until Dede pushes his body off her. Her narration says "What, you thought I'd be the one who died? I'm the narrator here, guys! Keep up!"
  • Romeo is Bleeding starts with a bartender telling a story about one of his regulars (Gary Oldman), and why that man is such a mess. There's a bit of a twist, though, when it's revealed at the end that both of them are the same man.
  • Fight Club starts with Brad Pitt holding a gun in Edward Norton's mouth. Then we back up and find out why, how they met, etc.
  • Pan's Labyrinth starts with Ofelia, lying on the ground, bleeding from her nose. From the fact that the blood is moving backwards, we can tell right away that the plot is about to rewind, which it does.
  • The Emperors New Groove starts with a wet llama shivering in the jungle, and a voiceover telling you that he used to be a human emperor.

This is his story. Well, actually my story. I'm that llama.

    • And when the film actually comes to that, Narrator Kuzco and On-screen Kuzco start arguing—and from that point on, the film has no voiceover.
  • Stranger Than Fiction: "Little did he know that this simple seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death." "What? What? Hey!" Subverted, though: he lives at the end.
  • Brick starts with Emily lying facedown in a drainage ditch. When she shows up again in the flashback sequence, you already know she's doomed.
  • Veronica Guerin is not only based on the life and death of the aforenamed Irish journalist, the movie begins with a depiction of her murder. The film then flashes back to two years prior, when she began her investigations into the Irish drug trade, which is what lead to her gruesome fate.
  • The Eagle Has Landed: A team of Nazis land in wartime Britain to assassinate Winston Churchill. And they succeed! Except he's not really Churchill, but a double.
  • Most of Tora! Tora! Tora! is about the Japanese planning to attack Pearl Harbor and the Americans fretting over their attempts to discover what Japan is up to. The Japanese achieve complete surprise.
  • The Terminator series. Kyle Reese will live through Salvation. The humans will win the Robot War in the end.
  • Godzilla vs. Destoroyah shows that Godzilla is slowly dying of a nuclear overload at the beginning of the film.
    • Which actually starts even before the film, as the trailers for the film actually flat out state "Godzilla Dies!" as part of the advertising campaign to draw in viewers!
  • Both Averted and Played Straight in Tangled. The movie opens with the narration 'This is the story of how I died.' And he technically does die at the end. It just doesn't take.
  • X Men Origins Wolverine and X Men First Class are both prequels to the first three X-Men films (though the prequels contradict each other in some regards) and therefore contain numerous examples of this trope (assuming that the viewer has seen the first three films and/or is familiar with the comic book source material).
    • In Wolverine, we know that Logan, Sabretooth, and Stryker will all survive the film. We know that Logan will receive his adamantium skeleton from the Weapon X program. Finally, we know that Logan's memories of everything in his life up to, and including, the events of the film will somehow be erased by the end of the film.
    • In First Class, we know that despite Xavier and Magneto starting out as best friends, Magneto's inevitable Face Heel Turn will result in them becoming the leaders of two opposing mutant factions. We also know that Mystique will make a Face Heel Turn of her own and will work for Magneto. We also know that Beast's attempts to "cure" the physical appearance aspect of his mutation will not only fail, but will actually backfire, making his condition much worse.
  • Everything in Captain America the First Avenger led up to him being frozen for decades before waking up in the present time.
  • The plot of The Thing 2011 is a prequel about the Norwegian camp story, and we all know through MacReady and his team's investigation in the 1982 film the overall fate of the Norwegian camp and its occupants, including how some of them are going to die. It also foreshadows the ending that "The Thing" will imitate a dog and 2 survivors from the Norwegian camp will chase and hunt it down, which they will fail to accomplish.
  • Sherlock Holmes a Game of Shadows gives us a really good view of a waterfall during the establishing shot of the castle in which the climax of the film takes place. Those familiar with Holmes mythology could tell where the movie was headed from there.
  • The 1997 made-for-TV movie Two Came Back depicted five young people left adrift in an emergency raft after their yacht sinks. Guess how many of the characters survived the ordeal and returned to land safely? If you need to, take another look at the title.
  • The segment of the anthology film Creepshow starring Stephen King is entitled "The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill".


Literature[edit | hide]

  • R. Austin Freeman's The Singing Bone (1912), which features his medical detective Dr. Thorndike, is said to have the earliest inverted mystery in literature.
  • Uprising, by Margaret Peterson Haddix, starts with a ten years later, with a young woman coming to one of the main characters and asking about the strike, and fire( the book is based on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory ...) due to inner monologue, we learn that 2 of the 3 narrators of the book end up dead. But it still backs a wallop when we read the death scenes- from their own point of view!
  • Adam Cadre's Ready, Okay! exemplifies this trope by stating on page 1 that by the end of the school year, every person that the main character loves and cares about will be dead.
  • In both the novel I, Claudius and the BBC TV series based on it, we are told at the start that Claudius is going to become Emperor. Nonetheless, the description of 60 years of Roman politics and intrigue leading up to this event manages to remain amazing and entertaining.
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez's short novel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Heck, it's even in the title.
    • Also his first novel The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor: Who Drifted on a Liferaft for Ten Days Without Food or Water, Was Proclaimed a National Hero, Kissed by Beauty Queens, Made Rich Through Publicity, and Then Spurned by the Government and Forgotten for All Time.
  • Since the Redwall novel Mossflower opens with Martin the Warrior in exile, that the prequel Martin the Warrior should end with him going into exile is pretty much a given. This doesn't make the latter novel's monumental Downer Ending any less powerful, of course.
  • Philip Pullman's The White Mercedes / The Butterfly Tattoo begins with the following sentence, also on the back cover: "Chris Marshall met the girl he was going to kill on a warm night in early June..." Yeah, right. That's quite a definition of "kill" you've got there, Philip Pullman.
  • Annoyingly, one of the Septimus Heap books talks about the future daughter of the protagonist doing something. Therefore, every example of danger that she's in is entirely unneeded, and therefore she's technically never in any danger.
    • Used similarly in the Percy Jackson and The Olympians books. One of the books says that Percy is writing this six years after the book takes place. Extremely, extremely egregious as The whole premise of the series is based on a prophecy that says that he'll die when he's sixteen years old.
      • The prophecy was ambiguous as to who would die everyone assumed it would be the child of the big three and Percy isn't the only child of the three: there are three others besides himself.
  • Tamburlaine Must Die is exempt from the historical fiction version of this trope because there are more than enough conspiracy theories about the main character, Christopher Marlowe, that say he didn't die. It still starts by saying he's going to die in three days. However, fans of the writer will be strongly suspecting a subversion... which doesn't happen.
  • John Dies at the End, for obvious reasons. Subverted in that John is the only main character who doesn't die at the end, He instead opts to die at the start. They get better.
  • Technically, this trope could be used to describe A Series of Unfortunate Events, because the endings of the books are unfortunate, as the author clearly states.
    • A particularly strong example occurs in The Reptile Room, in which Uncle Monty's death is announced in the narration long before it happens.
  • At the beginning of Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, the narrator Death tells us that Liesel's story, chronicled in her diary, ends with her surrounded by ruins, howling. However, Death's description of the scene is vague enough for the later full narrative of the same scene to still pack quite an emotional punch.
    • Not to mention that Death reveals the death of a certain character in the middle of the book because he is bad at mystery.
  • Bertolt Brecht's The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui makes interesting use of this trope. The play is deliberately shown to be an allegory for Hitler's rise to power, so the audience already knows how the story will end. The focus thereon in is on how he came to power—and how easily it could have been prevented. Didactic, but very worth it.
  • The introduction to Cordwainer Smith's novel Norstrilia ends with the following words:

He gets away. He got away. See, that's the story. Now you don't have to read it. Except for the details. They follow.

  • Anyone with a smidgeon of knowledge about European history already knows Napoleon fails to conquer Russia in War and Peace. The whole book is more about why he failed. In case you didn't know Napoleon tried to invade Russia before reading the book, the philosophical asides mention it often enough.
  • A variation occurs in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Narrator, noting that stress is a growing problem in the world, chooses not to unduly stress the readers by giving away the ending of a suspenseful sequence: The planet they are above is Magrathea, and the nuclear missiles approaching the ship will cause no damage, save for a nasty bruise to the forearm. To order to preserve some sense of suspense, though, he does not say whose forearm—until the closing credits of the episode.
    • It was Arthur.
  • In The Time Traveler's Wife, because of the Anachronic Order of the story, we learn that something bad will happen to Henry when he's 43 years old.
  • Fate/Zero is (almost certainly) written under the assumption that readers are already familiar with Fate/stay night, which it's a prequel to. The knowledge of how it all turns out (hint: not happy) adds to the sense of tragedy. Not to mention that if you read it first you'll get most of Fate/stay night's plot twists spoiled in the prologue.
    • Discussed by the author in the end of Volume 1. 'Don't get too attached to these guys, no matter how cool they may be. You know they're just going to die.'
  • Stephen Brust's To Reign in Hell explains exactly what caused the falling out between God and Satan.
  • My Brother Sam is Dead does indeed end with the main character's brother, whose name is Sam, dying.
  • In Peter David's Sir Apropos of Nothing trilogy, the titular narrator mentions multiple times that he survived the events of the story, though he's not always sure how.
  • Similarly lampshaded in Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones, sequel to Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, both of which take the Literary Agent Hypothesis Up to Eleven.

I want you to think of a regular ship. No, not a flying dragon ship like the one that was falling apart beneath me as I fell to my death. Focus. I obviously survived the crash, since this book is written in the first person.

  • Anyone even the slightest bit familiar with The Bible or Christian theology in general will know how Paradise Lost is going to turn out before it even begins. Anyone else will be told how it's going to turn out in the first five lines or so.
    • Also in the The Bible; the Gospel authors (especially John) had a tendency to introduce Judas Iscariot as "the man who would betray Jesus".
  • Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire starts out with the Unreliable Narrator Charles Kinbote writing about the death of his good friend John Shade. Is John Shade actually dead? Hell if I knows.
  • Nabokov's Lolita has a foreword, which tells us that Humbert died from coronary thrombosis and Lolita died in childbirth. However, it refers Lolita as "Mrs. Richard F. Schiller", her married name, which we don't learn until the end of the book.
  • Stephen R Donaldson's The Real Story spends the first chapter describing how a Damsel in Distress got rescued from an evil villain by a dashing hero. Then we spend the rest of the novel finding out that both the situation and the characters were in fact rather more complex than they seemed to a casual observer. Following books compound the process.
  • Daniel Defoe's The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Etc. Who Was Born In Newgate, and During a Life of Continu'd Variety For Threescore Years, Besides Her Childhood, Was Twelve Year a Whore, Five Times a Wife (Whereof Once To Her Own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon In Virginia, At Last Grew Rich, Liv'd Honest, and Died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's first Heralds of Valdemar novel, she details the dramatic death scene of Vanyel, the last Herald-Mage of Valdemar. When Vanyel gets his own trilogy, everyone knows where this is ultimately going.
    • The same thing happens with Lavan Firestorm, whose death is described in the first Heralds of Valdemar trilogy long before his story is told firsthand in Brightly Burning.
  • Yukio Mishima's Patriotism actually begins with the reader being told about the couple's (who are the main characters) joint suicide.
  • Kevin J. Anderson's Last Days of Krypton. We all know the planet is going to go kaboom, but he manages to milk a large amount of suspense over how, introducing multiple possibilities in rapid succession. Will it explode from geologic instability? Will it be smashed by a massive comet? Will it be consumed by its red sun Rao going supernova? Answer: none of the above. All of the above threats are taken care of, then near the end a bunch of stupid politicians throw a portal to the Phantom Zone into the core, causing the planet to implode.
  • Lian Hearn's Heaven's Net Is Wide. If you've read the main series that this book is a prequel to, then you know exactly what's going to happen. And that just makes it even more heartbreaking.
    • Additionally, parts of Hearn's Otori trillogy are presented as the memoirs of one of the characters, letting the reader know that that particular character will survive all the way through. When Hearn revisited the series with Harsh Cry of the Heron, the story switched to omniscient third person, cluing you in to the fact that the narrator of the previous books would not survive to the end.
  • It's not hard to see how the author would expect you to know the ending of The Death of Ivan Ilyich.
    • In Ikiru, the narrator tells us when and how Watanabe will die. We get to see what he does before then, and then watch his funeral.
  • There's a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel, Death Star, which takes place on the first Death Star. It gets used on Alderaan and is later destroyed. The characters, of course, don't know that. We have a cantina owner whose bar got burned down getting an offer to work in a bar up there, and deciding that there probably isn't a safer place to work than an invincible battle station. The head gunner, uneasy about being in a station which theoretically could destroy a planet, consoles himself by thinking that it will be used purely on large ships, enemy space stations, maybe some moons, since no one would be evil enough to order him to fire on a populated world. A few other characters vaguely wish they could leave, maybe join the Rebellion, but with something like the Death Star cruising around, the Rebellion would come to naught, since people who would gladly die for their cause would hesitate to risk their planet. War as they knew it would end. A lot of the tension comes from wondering who, if anyone, survives, and how, since most of them don't have permission to leave.
  • Second book in the Coruscant Nights Trilogy—Captain Typho, Padme's Bodyguard Crush, seeks to avenge her death, eventually deciding that he has to kill Darth Vader. Even he thought it would be a Curb Stomp Battle unless he was really prepared. Didn't really work.
    • It introduces a Continuity Snarl, though, as Typho is cut down by Vader, even though existing canon confirmed that he was still alive 18 years later.
  • Julie Buxbaum's The Opposite of Love is mostly centred around the main character's difficulties forming relationships following the death of her mother—problem is, any tension that might arise over whether she'll ever work things out is sapped by the flash-forward prologue, where she's married with a baby on the way.
  • In The Godfather Mario Puzo frequently mentions something that will happen, and then "rewinds" to show us how it happened. For example, the deaths of Sonny -- the scene with Vito calling in the favor from the undertaker appears before the tollbooth sequence and Vito.
  • The "Emperor" series (as well as any other story depicting the life of Caesar). We know what will happen between Julius and Brutus in the end, yet the story is very compelling all the way through.
  • The Horus Heresy series. The major (and many of the minor) facts of the Horus Heresy have been part of the Warhammer 40,000 Canon for over twenty years.
    • If nothing else, you know Lucius, Kharn, Abaddon, Typhus et al are going to survive, because they have profiles in the friggin' Chaos Codex. Well, for a given value of 'survive' in at least two of those cases. Lucius isn't really the man he used to be.
  • Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novels—Cain will survive because these are his memoirs; Amberly Vail will survive because she outlived him and edited the memoirs; Sulla will survive because she reaches the rank of reached Lady General and Vail included excerpts from her memoirs to supplement Cain's; in Death or Glory, Tayber and Arriott will survive because Vail included excerpts from their memoirs.
  • Similarly, the Gotrek and Felix series prefaces its chapters with exceprts from the Book Felix has sworn to write. So while Gotrek's death is a given, we also know that Felix will survive whatever doom Fate has in store for the Trollslayer, despite his worrying about it in the present.
  • Dune does this twice, telling how the first of the book's three parts will end in the second chapter (spoiling a Plot Twist in doing so), and the book's ending is foretold in the middle of the second part by the prophetic, Magnificent Bastard protaganist. Yet this still doesn't detract how exciting it is reading how it happens.
    • It's done even more in the sequel, Dune Messiah: the conclusion is hinted at in the second chapter, and by halfway through the novel, the protagonist has a prescient dream in which he foresees the entire rest of the story. The vision guides him even after his eyes get burned out by nuclear radiation. By twenty pages before the climax (a substantial portion of the just 200-page book) it's a definite Foregone Conclusion, except for the Plot Twist in which Paul foresees only the birth of his daughter, and not her far more significant twin brother.
  • The Night Watch by Sarah Waters is written backwards chronologically. It is particularly bittersweet as you view the beginnings of a pair who you know will eventually turn into an embittered, nigh abusive couple.
  • The original story Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote starts out with Holly Golightly having already left and the narrator going backwards to recount their time together. The movie however, had an entirely different ending
  • Anne Frank the Diary of A Young Girl is typically presented as a cautionary tale about fascism, and the book gives away Anne's fate on the cover and introduction. Similar is Nina Lugovskaya's I Want To Live, essentially the Stalinist version of Anne Frank, although Nina survives her imprisonment. But why else would you be reading these books?
  • Alfred Doeblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz begins with a one-page summary of the book's plot, describing the character's frequent falls from grace, but it refers rather elliptically to his final redemption, leaving some mystery. Likewise, each chapter is preceded by a summary, and throughout the book there are references to events yet to occur. All this is to show how the central character has no control over his life.
  • The original book of Wicked had loads of this for anyone even remotely familiar with either the book or movie of The Wizard of Oz. We know that somehow the green-skinned Elphaba will get a pointy black hat, a broomstick, some winged monkeys and set up shop in the West as the Wicked Witch, while her friend Glinda will become the Good Witch of either the North or South (it ends up following the movie version, from the North), her sister will become the Wicked Witch of the East before being squished by a Kansas farmhouse dropped by a tornado and carrying a young girl who will ultimately kill Elphaba by splashing her with water. Note that the ending is not quite so foregone in the musical version.
    • The book also has more obscure Foregone Conclusions for those who have read the other Oz books. For example, a peasant boy being dragged along by an old woman is Tip, who will become the princess Ozma.
  • The Animorphs books including Chronicles in the title all do this to some degree
    • Andalite tells the backstory of Elfangor, who dies in the beginning of the first book (the Framing Story is that it's his last testament, transmitted telepathically just minutes before his death). It also has Alloran, whom we know as the host body of Visser Three, as Elfangor's commanding officer.
    • Hork-Bajir involves the conquering of the titular race, who are almost entirely enslaved by the time of the main series.
    • Ellimist relates a humble space bird's journey from gamer to God via Sufficiently Advanced Alien. The framing device is of him telling his backstory to a deceased but unnamed main character (which is itself sort of a spoiler for the main series), so it's really not surprising where "Toomin" ends up.
    • Visser involves the Yeerk's discovery of Earth and the early stages of the invasion, the results of which are seen in the main series.
  • The Egyptian has this on multiple levels. Due to it's nature of both being involving a Framing Device and being Historical Fiction.
  • Halo: The Fall of Reach. There is a planet named Reach. It falls.
  • Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos employs this trope extensively. In fact, he goes so far as to play with this by putting an asterisk by the name of every character due to die soon in the course of the story, and telling us that humanity will shortly be killed by a virulent disease. Cat's Cradle is similarly upfront in saying that ice-nine will escape and destroy the world, despite the protagonist's efforts.
    • There is a character introduced near the beginning of Slaughterhouse-Five. Almost every time that character makes an appearance in the story Vonnegut tells us when and how he will die. By the time the reader finally sees his death, it doesn't have as deep an impact. So it goes.
  • Danish author Hans Scherfig's novel Det forsømte forår (Stolen Spring, or literally The Neglected Spring) begins with the murder of a latin teacher from a high-esteemed school. Then we flash forward to many years, where his students meet and think back to their school time, and through this, we get to know the killer (the fact that his killer is among the students is revealed right away.)
  • What Came Before He Shot Her tells the ending right in the title, although it may take quite awhile to figure who 'he' and 'her' are. The main character actually didn't shoot her, though he takes the blame.
  • The opening lines to Ruth Rendell's novel A Judgement In Stone tell us that "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write". This doesn't prevent it being one of her best novels.
  • If you've ever heard about Griboyedov, much less studied in a Russian school, then you probably know how The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar ends. If not, then you will realize it as soon as it is explained that Griboyedov's diplomatic title is "Vazir Mukhtar" in Farsi.
  • In the Stephen Hunter Swagger series, it's well established that sniper Bob Lee Swagger's best friend and spotter Donnie Fenn was killed at Swagger's side in Vietnam even before Fenn's story is told in Time To Hunt.
  • Because Bobby's segments of The Pendragon Adventure are presented in journal formats, it is obvious that he has survived all of the events in the books. The point of the journals is to see exactly what events he survived, and how.
  • Warrior Cats: Bluestar's Prophecy. As if the fact that how and when Bluestar dies is already known by the entire fanbase isn't enough, the book opens with her death scene rewritten from her point of view. A good part of the book works like this, too, such as her relationship with Oakheart, Mosskit's death, and the fact that all of the characters who aren't in the first books will end up dead.
    • Crookedstar's Promise as well, especially seeing as we never heard of Willowbreeze or Crookedstar's other kits. And also Stormkit breaking his jaw and being held back from being an apprentice. And that he dies at the end.
  • Anyone who's read Eclipse already knows that the main character of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is murdered by the Volturi. Heck, just reading the title gives most people a good idea of how it'll end. On a lesser note, anyone at all the least bit familiar with the Twilight series will know that sunlight makes the vampires sparkle and not burn into ash, long before the actual characters do.
  • Losing Joe's Place. As if the title isn't enough, the book starts with Joe furious with Jason over the titular blunder and forcing him to recount how it happened.
  • Invoked in The Doomsday Brunette, when a genetically modified gorilla is reenacting King Kong (It Makes Sense in Context) and the detective says, "King Kong only ends one way."
  • The reader knows from the beginning of the The Sparrow that the mission ends catastrophically. The novel is about how and why that happened.
  • The Belisarius Series has some of this in certain passages. For instance, it describes a character's reaction to an event, and adds how decades later, when he'd married and fathered children, those children loved to hear him retell the story of that event. Well, we sure know he's going to survive the series. That example occurs in the first book. The same passage also specifies that another character will be killed in a later battle, and of course it happens as described.
  • The very title of the final book of The Lord of the Rings trilogy lets the reader know that Aragorn will live to claim the throne of Gondor. This is why Tolkien wanted to title the book "The War of the Ring" rather than "The Return of the King". He was overruled by the publisher.
  • In World War Z you know that humanity will survive because the book is supposedly written after the war
  • Assassin's Creed: Renaissance by Oliver Bowden has one placed near the end of chapter one, when Ezio is living it up with Federico. "Little did he realize how short-lived those days would be." Doesn't exactly bring about a feeling of good nature and happy-la-la, does it? Of course, if you'd played the game already, you likely saw the bit that follows coming.
  • In Obasan by Joy Kogawa, the main character Naomi's mother went to Japan around 1940 to help an ailing grandmother and never came back. Most readers can probably figure out that her mother probably died in the atomic bombings. But in the 70s, Naomi reads some letters about her missing mother which state that she went to Nagasaki in August 1945 to visit a cousin, and was mutilated and later died in the bombings.
  • Samantha Kingston dies at the end of the first chapter of Before I Fall, and a few more times after that.
  • In an odd context-reliant example, readers of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood knew full well what happened to the Clutter family and their killers thanks to the huge press coverage it received when the news broke. Capote had to rely on the one thing they didn't know in order to make his book a success; the gritty details.
  • The Feast of the Goat is a novel that deals with the end of Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship. Thanks to knowledge in history and the chapters' order, we know from the start that he's going to be murdered.
  • The first page of The Cruel Sea tells us that HMS Compass Rose will be sunk and replaced.
  • Crime and Punishment. There is a crime. There is a punishment.
  • Why We Broke Up. It's a girl telling her ex-boyfriend why they broke up; throughout her 300-or-so-page description of their relationship, you know the entire time that they're going to break up, assuming you read the title.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Game shows provide many examples of the winner being virtually assured before the episode's natural conclusion—that is, the contestant in the lead will have such a great lead that it is impossible for the other players to catch up. For instance:
    • Jeopardy!!: When a first-place contestant has more than double the cash amount (score) of the second-place contestant at the end of the "Double Jeopardy" round, the situation is known as a "lock." That is, unless the leader does something very stupid (such as bet everything in "Final Jeopardy!" and then give a wrong answer) he is assured of winning.
    • Sale of the Century: For the first year of the 1980s NBC revival, the front game ended with three questions, worth $5 each (for a maximum $15 payout). Oftentimes, the leading contestant had a lead of at least $16 lead, rendering the final set of questions a mere formality. To avert this, a "Speed Round" was added, with host Jim Perry asking as many questions as time allowed at $5 each—although by the end of these rounds, a dominant contestant will have such a big lead that not enough time exists for the second- and third-place contestants to catch up.
    • Wheel of Fortune: Starting in 1999, $1,000 is added to whatever dollar space the wheel landed on the Final Spin, to reduce the amount of foregone conclusions at the start of the Speed-Up part of the final round. Even if Pat Sajak did not land on $5,000, adding $1,000 to the sub-$1,000 amounts—in most instances—gave trailing players a fighting chance.
    • On the Pyramid game shows hosted by Dick Clark, the front game automatically ended before the sixth category if the trailing contestant's score was so far behind that the sixth category was not necessary (except in the instances where bonus categories still had to be played). At least twice (once in 1985 and again in 1986), the game ended after the fourth category.
    • Similarly, on Match Game, the front game's second round ended immediately after an incorrect match made it impossible for the losing contestant to at least tie the score.
    • The Newlywed Game: Although extremely rare, husband-wife teams whose scores were 30 or more points behind the other teams did not play the final "25-point bonus question," since they were out of the running for the show's prize (the 25-point question, even if answered correctly, would not give them the lead and a shot at winning).
  • The last episode of Star Trek: Voyager begins with the crew on Earth, celebrating the 10th anniversary of their return home. The producers of the episode then throw in some How We Got Here and some good old fashioned Reset Button to both subvert and lampshade this trope.
  • Smallville is able to maintain sufficient drama, suspense, and Shipping even though we already know that Clark becomes Superman and ends up with Lois Lane.
    • Clark's friendship with Lex Luthor is actually more compelling given that we know they become mortal enemies later in life.
  • Babylon 5 does this for nearly every plot line. In the first episode, we learn how G'Kar and Londo Mollari die (but the context is nothing like what we expect). The end of The Shadow War is given a season before it actually happens. Half way through the first season we see the eventual destruction of Babylon 5 (the space station). And of course there's "If you go to Z'ha'dum you will die".
  • Columbo, the TV mystery series starring the iconic Peter Falk character, is a beautiful example of how this trope can generate narrative tension. Famously described as not a whodunnit but a 'howcatchem', the show devoted the opening fifteen minutes or so of each episode to showing the murderer set up and execute their version of the perfect crime. From there we follow Columbo's slow, methodical attempts to unravel it, picking up subtle physical clues and using them to play mind games with the suspect.
    • Similarly, Murder, She Wrote often shows the killer at the beginning of the episode, leaving the rest of the episode to show how Jessica goes about catching the killer.
  • Most episodes of the last several seasons of Monk are better classified as "whydunits," as we see the crime, but it doesn't seem to make any sense, such as the time when a millionaire tries to mug a middle class man at gunpoint. The police want to clear the crime from the books, because all the facts seem in order, and there are no loose ends, but Monk senses that someone must be getting away with something.
    • Many episodes of Law Order Criminal Intent are whydunits, although while there is usually a bit of black humor, or wackiness in the Monk crimes, the CI crimes are always played straight. The "whydunit" is just from the audience's point of view. The detectives still have the whole case to solve. It's like the Columbo model, with the extra tension of wondering why the crime was committed in the first place. The crimes on Columbo usually had obvious motives, like monetary gain, when expensive jewels were stolen.
  • At the beginning of the Doctor Who episode "Doomsday", Rose Tyler's voiceover says, "This is the story of how I died." Of course it turns out that she's only considered dead in our world because she's trapped, and quite alive, in an alternative dimension with no apparent way back to this one...except that she appears in the first episode of series 4, before disappearing in a flash of light, and comes back later in the season.
    • Also any time they go back to famous events, Pompeii, the Reign of Terror, Madame du Pompadour, World War I, World War II, etc., the world doesn't end—big shock.
      • Doctor Who's series 3 episode "Utopia" reveals that another Time Lord survived the Time War by becoming human. The Doctor's too busy trying to save the last of humanity to go see him, however, so he grills Martha for details. On initial viewings, the Doctor comes off as alternately hurried and impatient with Martha's slow dribbling of details. On subsequent viewings, Tennant's performance comes off like he knows exactly who it is, based on the intelligence and resourcefulness involved (implied greater than the Doctor's), and the Doctor's simply panicking and desperate that he hasn't unwittingly left an innocent woman and a time machine alone with the Master, just as he already knows that it's too late. He's not even surprised to see what's waiting for him in the lab.
    • In the first part of the series 5 finale, van Gogh's expression of the TARDIS exploding is passed through the centuries. (Early on, A chunk of an exploded TARDIS is extracted by The Doctor from a time crack.) However, The entire reality in which the event happened is wiped out and replaced by a similar one.
  • Gee, how do you think How I Met Your Mother will end?
    • Even though Ted spends the first season trying to get Robin, we know from the first episode that their relationship is ultimately doomed (Ted does get her by the final episode of the first season and they break up just before Lily and Marshall's wedding at the end of the second).
    • We learn that Marshall's greatest mistake was buying his first apartment with Lily, then later that episode we see them buying an expensive apartment downwind of the sewage treatment plant with a bad mortgage.
    • A lot of things about the show are foregone conclusions from flashforwards or spoilers given by Future Ted: the gang's friendships will all last, Lily and Marshall will stay married, Robin will never have kids, Robin's career will take off, Wendy and Meeker will get married, Barney will get married, Lily and Marshall will have a baby, Ted and the mother will have children, etc. Elaborated on in this NPR article.
  • Caprica, a story about how intelligent machines were created by the twelve colonies. Guess how that ended up.
  • In Mad Men, the main characters work on an ad campaign for Richard Nixon's campaign for the presidency (against John Kennedy.) We know it won't work, but it's still very interesting. However, the trope is played with a bit as the audience is initially led to believe that their client, described as a "young, handsome navy hero", is Kennedy.
  • Dollhouse does this at the end of the season one with the episode "Epitaph One," a Flash Forward ten years when imprinting technology has caused what basically amounts to a Zombie Apocalypse with Brainwashed and Crazy killers instead of corpses. Played With because Word of God said the the imprinted memories of how this happened may not be accurate. This plotline was picked up and completed with the last episode of the second season/series.
  • Power Rangers RPM features this, due to the Power Rangers metaseries' Anachronic Order. While we don't know when it takes place besides that its sometime in the first half of the 21st century, we've seen the year 3000, where humanity is neither extinct nor enslaved by killer robots.
    • Attempted aversion by the creators asserting that it's a separate continuity (so the year 3000 of Time Force is not necessarily the year 3000 of RPM) but the fans are determined to ignore this, since 1) they like continuity and 2) every time a series has been presented as a separate continuity, it's eventually been tied into the main continuity anyway, and there's no reason to believe this one will be different.
  • Merlin only starts hinting at an Arthur/Gwen romance in season two. And, of course, eventually Prince Arthur is going to be king, with a magic sword, a Table Round, and Merlin as his trusted advisor.
    • Also, Morgana eventually turns Evil
  • An episode of NCIS starts with one character racing to find two others, just in time to see them start to drown. Most of the rest of the episode shows how that scene came to be.
    • The fact that every segment begins with a one-second "repeat" of the final second of that very segment should also apply here.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess spends Season 4 with recurring visions of herself and Gabrielle crucified at the hands of the Romans, while all the while Caesar is getting rid of his competitors and consolidating power in Rome. When an episode entitled "The Ides of March" pops up at the end of the season, you know what's coming. Caesar dies with the requisite Shakespeare quotes, Xena and Gabrielle die on crosses. Somewhat of a surprise at the time, many people expected the writers to find a way for the heroes to technically fulfill destiny and still escape...
  • Rome, quite obviously. Caesar dies. Marc Antony and Cleopatra die. Octavian wins and changes his name to Augustus. Rome has the disctinction of being spoilable by a calendar -- a simple glance at the months between June and September are all one needs to see just whose clan comes out on top.
  • You Rang M Lord plays this up in the final episode, as Lord Meldrum talks about how things are finally looking up—just a year before the beginning of the Great Depression.
  • CSI has it several times, notably on the Taylor Swift episode (we know what happens to her character but not how and why) and the 9th season opener (the audience knows who did it and why, so the question is whether the team will find out and how).
  • The first Blackadder series is built on the premise that Henry Tudor (aka Henry VII) eventually became king and (according to the programme) re-wrote history to depict Richard III as a hunchback monster who'd killed his nephews. So, the resolution's already known from the start, the only question is how.
  • Disney's Davy Crockett mini-series. Davy going to the Alamo? What happened in real life?
  • Deadliest Catch: Capt. Phil Harris dies of a stroke during the second half of filming. When the season premiered there was a lot of intentional/unintentional Foreshadowing, and even worse Hope Spots—he was doing so well they had already started thinking about physical therapy...
  • The BBC 3 drama pilot Dis/Connected starts out with the funeral of one of the characters, then goes on to tell most of the story through flashbacks. The audience thus knows from the beginning that Jenny killed herself - the question is why none of her friends responded when she emailed them her suicide note.
  • Boardwalk Empire features many historical characters so their fates are pretty much sealed.
    • Warren Harding will become President and die in office
    • Al Capone and Charlie 'Lucky' Luciano will survive and become organized crime bosses running Chicago and New York. "Big Jim" Colosimo and Arnold Rothstein will be murdered.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has an interesting case of this in the episode In The Pale Moonlight. The episode is told through flashbacks and begins with Sisko wondering where it went wrong so that the audience knows from the beginning that something bad happens. And during the episode we see Sisko trying to get the Romulans to their side in the Dominion War and so the audience begins to think that the plan fails and makes things worse. But ultimately the reason he is saddened is that he succeeded but that to reach this far he had to cheat, bribe, lie and 2 people were killed in the process and for him the most damning thing is that he finds himself able to live with it.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand: The slaves of Batiatus will rebel against their master and succeed.
  • As lighthearted as Dinosaurs was, eventually it came to a Sudden Downer Ending where... they become extinct.
  • An episode midway through Human Target goes back several years, to tell the story of exactly how the main character turned from his previous life of crime. Anyone who watched basically any previous episode knows that this story involves him falling in love with a girl... who doesn't survive.
  • Would it be a spoiler if I told you the protagonist in One Liter of Tears dies?
  • Any episode of Quantum Leap where a famous person is involved. Good luck trying to save Marilyn Monroe or JFK. Slightly subverted in that the show claims that things were much worse in the original timeline. Apparently, what we know is the result of Sam changing things for the better. Marily Monroe was supposed to die before making her final movie. JFK's wife was supposed to be shot along with him. Sam made sure it happened differently.
  • Sometimes happens in the History Channel series America: The Story of US. For example, one episode plays suspensful music and asks if Andrew Carnegie will be able to get the Bessemer steel-making process to work, so he can revolutionize America, pave the way for such things as the space program, and become the richest man on earth.
  • The BBC produced a reality series called Dancing On Wheels, a wheelchair dance competition in which the winner would go forward to represent the UK at European Wheelchair Dance Championships in September 2009. The show didn't air until March 2010.
  • Every episode of Cold Case starts off with an introduction to the Victim Of The Week, followed soon by a depiction of their death. No matter how likable the subsequent flashbacks might make them out to be, it's only a matter of time before the final flashback reaffirms what we learned in the first few minutes of the show—this person is going to die.
    • This is subverted in a few episodes when we find out in the end that the presumed victim actually survived. The dead body was misidentified or the police never found a body and assumed a murder was committed while the supposed victim simply moved away under a different identity.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Throughout most of the 1990s and into the 2000s, it was a foregone conclusion that any country music award with "duo" in the name would automatically go to Brooks and Dunn, since no other duo had managed a tenth of their commercial success in the 90s. (In fact, no other country duo had so much as a Top 5 hit between 1991 and 1999.) Except for Montgomery Gentry snagging it in 2000 due to B & D being in a bit of a Dork Age at the time, the duo award was exclusively the Brooks & Dunn Award until Sugarland lost its third member in 2006 and gained commercial momentum with Enjoy the Ride.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

Hobbes: Look at all this snow!
Calvin: I'm being tested. We got this snow so I'd be tempted to smack Susie with a slushball and forfeit all my Christmas presents. To evaluate my character, my immediate pleasure is being pitted against my future greed.
Hobbes: Poor Susie.
Calvin: IT'S NOT A FOREGONE CONCLUSION!


Philosophy[edit | hide]

  • Determinism
  • Many Marxist thinkers (including the leaders of the Russian Revolution) believe in a kind of historical determinism which posits an inevitable progression from feudalism to capitalism to socialism to communism. Interestingly enough, Karl Marx himself never supported this view of history, any more than he supported genocidal, totalitarian dictatorships.


Religion[edit | hide]


Theater[edit | hide]

  • Shakespeare invented the phrase, used in Othello, although he meant it more literally: the evidence of Cassio's dream "denoted a foregone conclusion" of his sleeping with Desdemona, "foregone" meaning "having previously happened".
    • Also, here's a pattern: if you're in a Shakespearean tragedy, and your name is in the title, you're fucked. If your name is the title, doubly so.
    • Perhaps the most famous example is Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare says in the prologue that the titular characters are going to die.
    • Although inverted with King Lear. The legend at that time had Cordelia and Lear survive and Lear restored to the throne. Shakespeare surprised audiences by turning it into a tragedy.
  • Including fictional history, as is the case with Steven Brust's Khaavren saga, a prequel series presented as a written Docu Drama of a major Backstory event in the world of Dragaera.
  • Death of a Salesman. The main character's a salesman. Three guesses what happens to him.
  • In addition to being a Perspective Flip External Retcon of The Wizard of Oz, the play version of Wicked opens with everyone celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch of the West, and the story takes place in a flashback. However, Elphaba lives, subverting the trope.
  • The musical Miss Saigon reveals Chris will get out of Vietnam while Kim (and the Engineer) will not towards the end of the first act. The second act shows how this happened.
  • All Greek tragedies, being based on well-known myths, were like that. It was considered normal to the point that, when New Comedy authors started imitating some aspects of tragedy while still telling stories they made up themselves, they created the Prologue, which was already pretty much what it is in the Shakespeare example: one of the actors would address the public at the beginning and explain how everything was going to play out—they feared the spectators would get confused otherwise.
    • This is exemplified by The Infernal Machine, based on the story of OedipusRex.
  • Evita begins with a song about Eva's funeral.
  • A small note of this is in the opening scene of the play An Inspector Calls. The rich family sat at dinner are discussing the amazing modern world they live in, including the new utterly unsinkable ship that's due to sail soon - The Titanic. It's a not-exactly subtle bit of symbolism - the family's own personal iceberg is, as the title says, about to call on them - and some productions have actually gone so far as to omit the line entirely, since the usual audience reaction is to laugh.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern die.
  • Les Misérables: The June Rebellion will fail and the barricade will fall.


Video Games[edit | hide]

Max: They were all dead. The final gunshot was an exclamation mark to everything that had led to this point. I released my finger from the trigger, and then it was over.

  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, you already know how the game is going to end in the introduction (the main character, Ramza, being branded a heretic and erased from history, while his childhood best friend, Delita, is revered as a hero and became king) due to the fact that it's narrated by a historian looking back into the past. Although in this case, it's not a matter of how things end, but rather an attempt to uncover the massive church conspiracy that damned Ramza to evil heretic instead of the hero he is.
  • Final Fantasy X begins with the main party sitting at a campfire outside of a ruined Zanarkand, with the protagonist, Tidus, asking the player to "listen to [his] story" because "it may be the last chance [they] have left." Cue extended flashback. Seymour never really stood a chance. Funnily enough, the only thing not absolutely certain is whether or you and Wakka manage to win a Blitzball tournament or not.
  • Crisis Core, the prequel to Final Fantasy VII, expands upon the character Zack, who was seen in two flashbacks in the original game. Since one of the flashbacks shows Zack being killed by members of Shinra, you already knew the ending. Square Enix ups the ante by having Crisis Core end with Cloud Strife jumping on the train from the start of Final Fantasy VII.
  • The same can be said bout the Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2, a game that chronicles Roxas' time with Organization XIII. Since we know the conclusion of his story in Kingdom Hearts II, we know that that game won't end happily.
    • Another KH example is Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, a prequel to the first game, does not end happily. Given that all three protagonists are MIA as of the aforementioned first game just ten years later in-universe, it was only a matter of how they all met their untimely ends.
      • Of course it's played with since technically none of them are actually dead.
  • Averted In Valkyrie Profile 2, which is seemingly a prequel to the first game. We "know" that Silmeria is going to get captured by Brahms....and that's when Time Travel from the first game completely changes everything.
    • But played straight in a way by the first game. Regardless of what happens with the various Einherjar you pick up, the world is going to end a month in-game after the prologue. Sure, Lenneth recreates, uh, creation afterward, but only in the best ending.
  • Case 4 of the third Ace Attorney game is a flashback to Mia's first case as a lawyer. As soon as you find out the prosecutor's identity ( Edgeworth) it's meant to be clear that you can't win because Edgeworth never lost a case prior to meeting Phoenix in court. Although it was a bit of a subversion since neither lawyer won: the defendant commits suicide while testifying and the case is thrown out without a judgment. Also, in Apollo Justice there's another flashback trial that you know will end badly, because you've already been informed that it's the one that caused Phoenix's disbarring.
    • In addition to the above, it's also made clear in the same game that Mia is going to lose the case, as shown by her thinking back to it in the first case of the game and reflecting on how badly it ended. Of course, this still led players to expect her to outright lose, instead of neither lawyer winning, so it's still a subversion.
    • In Ace Attorney: Investigations, Edgeworth is shown at his first trial during a flashback case. It's not the one with Mia, so you know something's going to go horribly wrong; the suspect is killed at the beginning of the case and instead of prosecuting him, Edgeworth has to figure out what happened. At the end of the case, present-day Edgeworth comments that his true first case would take place months later, and if you've played Trials and Tribulations, you already know what's going to go down...
    • Furthermore, some cases (usually the first one in each game) show the killer at the very beginning. It's a matter of proving it to the court.
  • Heavenly Sword's first mission ends with main character Nariko succumbing to the deadly curse of the titular sword. The rest of the game is a Flash Back on the events leading up to this point. She eventually does succumb to the curse, but not before taking King Bohan and hundreds of his soldiers with her in a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, the story of the game is being told, ipso facto, by the protagonist, Guybrush Threepwood. As such, it is logically impossible for him to die in course of the game. However, in a certain puzzle in which Guybrush is suspended over a cauldron filled with acid taking too long to solve the escape will cause him to fall into the acid and subsequently die. The game then cuts back to the present, where Elaine points out to Guybrush that he obiviously can't be dead, since he is telling her the story. The player then gets another try.
    • Since the title of Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4 reads "The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood", we are curious at to what happens to Guybrush at the end. Although it is subverted when he is saved from execution by LeChuck, who clears out the last of the five charges for him, it becomes double subverted when the same guy who saved Guybrush later kills him by the Cutlass of Kaflu after the latter cures everyone of the Pox of LeChuck. That Spoiler Title is definitely a Four-Gone Conclusion!
  • Pick any number of historical first-person shooters or RTS games that don't deviate into Alternate History. These spoilers run anywhere from the Allied victory in WWII to the Union victory in the American Civil War
  • If you play Prince of Persia: The Fallen King before finishing next-gen Prince of Persia, the outcome of the latter game becomes a foregone conclusion... but it's intentionally set up so that you know absolutely nothing about how it got to that point; you need to play the other game to find that out.
    • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time opens with your character telling the story of his incredible adventure to someone, making it clear that he lived through it. (If you do die, you'll hear him say something over the retry screen in the vein of, "No wait, that's not what happened.")
    • Subverted in The Two Thrones as the Empress of Time doesn't let a minor thing like being killed at the end of the prologue prevent her from continuing the narration.
  • Done in Valkyria Chronicles in which the opening narration is by a novelist who wrote about the war described in the game and talks about how Gallia would come to withstand the invasion and would challenge one of the continent's great powers. The fun in the game, is of course in finding out exactly how, and the price of victory.
    • And soon you realize that it will be very high. The question is not who will win, but what will be left once the war is over.
  • Street Fighter Alpha is a prequel to Street Fighter II, intending to flesh out most of the series' plot. One of the fighters in the Alpha series is Charlie. In Street Fighter II, Guile's motivation for entering the tournament is to avenge the death of his supposedly dead friend, Charlie. Yeah..
  • The story in the video game adaptation of The Darkness is being told by the protagonist, Jackie Estacado, so the assumption is that he's around after the fact to tell you his story. In an unusual subversion, there are totally unexpected twists in the story which present further Foregone Conclusions: "That... well, that was the first time I died."
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, you can ask your uncle Duncan to tell you about some of his adventures. Although he has a lot of stories to tell, he refuses to tell them to you because there wouldn't be any tension since you know that he lives.
  • Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi has Hector dying within the first few chapters in the prequel game Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken. Hector is one of the protagonists.
    • Fuuin and Rekka have (6 and 7 respectively) has several of these. by playing Fuuin, you already know that Canas will die, Eliwood's wife (and Hector's) will become a Missing Mom, not to mention that Karla will die of an illness and that Rath (as well as possibly Lyn) will die in a Bern uprising.
    • However, it's only at the end of Rekka no Ken that it's implied that Lucius was the priest who started the orphanage that Chad and the twins lived in, who was killed by Bern forces.
  • In the prologue at the beginning of the first Lufia game, Maxim and Selan die.. The next game is a prequel, following the story of Maxim.
  • Fate Stay Night: Saber is going to die of her wounds after battling Mordred, atop a hill next to a battlefield littered with the corpses of her countrymen surrounding her. It's already been recorded in history, and anything that happens now cannot prevent that from happening on her own personal timeline. Semi subverted in that the point was never to keep her from dying, but to let her live before that has to happen.
  • Adventure game Diamonds In The Rough starts off like this. "However I'll tell you the ending. I have just consumed 200g of yellow phosphorus dissolved in olive oil. Now I feel fine, if a bit queasy from the olive oil. Soon extreme thirst will happen. Followed by nausea and headache. That's when the real fun begins." I'll stop it there but he describes exactly how his body will shut down include severe organ failure. It also serves as hint on how to progress. You need to read a report on its effects and grab a beaker of it late in the game.
  • The Day Of Sigma, an unlockable OVA on the Mega Man X remake, Maverick Hunter X, acts as a prequel to the events of the series. This shows an inevitable Start of Darkness (of sorts) for Sigma. What fans didn't see coming in the video was Abel City being destroyed by a Macross Missile Massacre. And that's not the only Retcon the video had made.
  • Prototype plays with this, mixing it with Prophecy Twist here and there. The prologue of the game as well as the cutscenes of Alex recounting the events so far occurs at the 18th Day of the infection. From the looks of New York and the background images of desperate fighting the player gets the impression that The Virus has all but taken over Manhattan. So, as the game progresses, it is of no surprise as hives and infected are popping out left and right. It is not until about midway through the game that the player learns that Alex killed Elizabeth Greene and the Blacklight lost its momentum and another couple more missions before she actually dies. Likewise, Alex mentions very early on that he killed McMullen. What he doesn't say is that when he finally got to McMullen, he shot himself in the head, depriving Alex and the player a treasure trove of information, most importantly, about the Pariah.
    • On a similar vein, the Web of Intrigue videos clue the player on Alex's role in the creation and spread of the Blacklight virus before the actual reveal occurs.
  • "The Last Stand" poster in Left 4 Dead saying "It won't end well." This is for Survival mode where you have to hold out for as long as you can because everyone will eventually die. But that it is not Canon,at least not yet.
    • "The Sacrifice" in Left 4 Dead 2 will involve one of the original Left 4 Dead characters dying to save everyone else, and the tie-in comic establishes that it's officially Bill. In gameplay, it could be any one of the players.
      • The comic for "The Sacrifice" indirectly made the ending of Left 4 Dead 2 to be a foregone conclusion, in that we know exactly what the military are going to do to the new survivors (and it ain't pretty).
    • Initially the fact that the campaigns were connected made the ending of each one a Foregone Conclusion (Since no matter how hard you fought, you were right back to where you started in the next one). The creators thought this would leave a sour taste in the player's mouths since it meant each ending bar the last one was a Downer Ending. The "Crash Course" campaign and later comic then confirmed that all of them tie into each other since the fans wanted continuity.
  • God of War: "The gods of Olympus have abandoned me. Now there is no hope left." The game begins three weeks before Kratos crosses the Despair Event Horizon.
  • The Halo Prequel Halo: Reach. Anyone who's been paying even a little attention to the backstory knows that Reach is Master Chief's Doomed Hometown and is gonna burn. Bungie have acknowledged this, as the game's tagline seems to be "From the beginning, you know the end."
    • This goes for the player character as well. The first cinematic upon starting a new game is a scorched wasteland - and a helmet with a bullethole through the visor. The game then cuts to your character placing the same helmet, now intact, on his/her head...
  • Several "dungeons" in World of Warcraft involve the players going back in time to foil the Infinite Dragonflight's attempts to break the Timey-Wimey Ball. While this could be a subversion if it were possible to fail, canon states that if the players screw it up the time guardians of the Bronze Dragonflight will hit the Reset Button. So not only are the original enemies Doomed by Canon, so are the Infinite agents.
    • Additionally, one such flashback (the Battle of Mount Hyjal) has no Infinite Dragons interfering and even the developers admit that it only exists because it's a cool moment for the players to be a part of, so Archimonde and friends are 100% doomed.
    • To make things worse, the 4.3 patch added the "End Times" dungeon where you go to the Bad Future to defeat the leader of the infinite dragonflight... the corrupted Nozdormu himself who knows that he's screwed but must defeat his insane self anyway to preserve the future from his upcoming madness. Anyone taking bets that the other members of the bronze flight are equally aware of their eventual corruption?
  • In Eternal Sonata, it was a given that Chopin was going to die. Players were told on the game's cover that he's on his deathbed. The drama was not in whether he would die but how he would die, peacefully or in turmoil, and what the dream represented for him.
  • The Assassin's Creed series is Historical Fiction with a healthy dose of Written by the Winners, so it is inevitable that the memories that are being relived of various 13th and 16th century historical figures will have outcomes that don't differ too much from history.
    • The premise of the game—that these stories are being viewed through the Genetic Memory of Altaïr and Ezio's descendants—mandates that the main characters will survive past the events depicted and will have children whose bloodlines converge in Desmond Miles.[1]
    • In the modern-day setting, 2012, Abstergo is the Mega Corp that evolved from the Templars that Altaïr and Ezio battle. We also know that the Templars reign virtually unopposed throughout much of modern history. So while these two Assassins may do great things in their time, their achievements are doomed to be remembered only in secret among their descendants.
    • In Assassin's Creed II, the Big Bad, Rodrigo Borgia, must survive to become Pope, therefore Ezio finds an excuse not to kill him. This is Fore Shadowed in the game by having Shaun tell Desmond about his historical research on the subject prior to Desmond viewing the final memory sequence.
    • In Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Ezio destroys a number of mechanical inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci, such as a tank, a machine gun, and a bomb-equipped glider. We all know that he merely delays their coming, not prevents it. Also, the Big Bad's manner of death is a matter of historical record, so Ezio foregoes his normal assassination method in favor of throwing him off a wall.
  • Resident Evil Outbreak takes place during the period of time visited in Resident Evil 2 and 3. Raccoon City got nuked at the end of 3. So the odds are greatly stacked against the playable survivors, with Canon doing nothing to establish anybody's survival.
  • Surprisingly subverted in most Star Wars games. The conclusion is forgone, since they're all sidequels, interquels, and prequels... but you can always play towards the non-canonical Dark Side ending anyway, where the Foregone Conclusion doesn't happen.
  • In most games that are based on movies, it can be safely assumed that the game's canonical ending will be the same (or at least, very similar to) the ending of the movie it is based on. Some games partially subvert this by giving the player the option to play as the movie's villain(s), usually creating a non-canonical ending in which the villains win.
  • Anyone even remotely familiar with Zelda-series history knows a little bit about the Master Sword and its role as "The Sword of Evil's Bane." So when they play The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword and start to see the eponymous sword beginning to look more and more like that legendary blue-hilted blade, they can likely fill in the blanks before they reach the end.
    • An outdated but more obvious one - anyone who played the older games would have realized things weren't going to well for Link and Princess Zelda in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.
  • Agarest Senki Zero star Seighart and his son Leonis. Both of them are Leonhardt's ancestors so, of course, Leonis cannot die so it's obvious the normal ending is non-canon.
  • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey opens with Zoe in a coma, so you know you're getting set up for a Downer Ending.
    • And it works in the opposite direction, too. The first game ends with April Ryan living as a content old woman, so her apparent death at the end of Dreamfall is probably not going to stick.
      • In this case, then this must means that Kian Alvane will also survive to marry her, as the kids called her "Mrs. Alvane".
  • The beginning of Dragon Age II starts ten years after game play actually begins, so it reveals that Hawke will become the Champion of Kirkwall and will be involved in events that will severely cripple the Chantry. However, exactly what Hawke does is up to the player.
    • The trailer also gives another one; the Qunari uprising, the Viscount's death, and the possible duel against the Arishok.
  • Subverted in Second Sight: half the game is set in the present, with the rest being told as flashbacks roughly six months earlier. However, the ending reveals that what the protagonist believes to be the past is in fact the present and what he believes to be the present is in fact a hypothetical future, which he is experiencing because of his precognitive abilities.
  • Lufia II, you know Maxim and Selan don't end well, and you know that killing Gades won't end the game becuase there are three more bad guys you have to fight on the Doom Island.
  • The missions "All Ghillied Up" and "One Shot, One Kill" in Call of Duty 4 involve you attempting to assassinate Russian Ultranationalist leader Imran Zakhaev in 1996. Of course, since the mission just before ended with Zakhaev attempting to call Khaled al-Asad in the present day, you can figure out how this will end...


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Concerned: The Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman. Emphasis on death. Most fans apparently never noticed that though.
  • The Last Days of Foxhound: If you've played the game, you know how the main characters end up. At the beginning when it's all Flanderizing the characters for humor, this doesn't register. At the end after a long bout of Cerebus Syndrome, it's damn bleak. The panel with Sniper Wolf and Bertholt is exceptionally heartbreaking.
  • The book "The Sharp End of the Stick" of Schlock Mercenary starts with several characters dressed in loincloths and wielding sharp sticks, rather than their usual military uniforms and plasma weapons, not to mention that Kevyn and Elf have become a couple. The rest of the story switches back and forth between telling the story in chronological order from that point and showing how the characters got there.
  • Chess Piece takes place during The Roaring Twenties—1927 currently, to be exact. Although times are good, the Great Depression is just around the corner.
  • Homestuck, all the time. Not only does the story run on Anachronic Order, but time travel and having visions of the future are regular occurrences, and twelve of the sixteen major characters with dialogue already know everything that's going to happen for a large portion of the story and regularly tell the four protagonists about it.
  • The current "Tower of Babel" arc of SSDD is essentially the backstory of one of the characters, and previous arcs make it clear that Tessa's squad destroys Arthur, but during the battle Julian is killed and Tessa is captured. Then she escapes with help from Tin-head, and sometime later wins Sticks from Julie Waterman in a card game.
  • Spacetrawler: Nogg tells Mr. Zorilla that his daughter, Martina, has died. The rest of the comic is Nogg telling "the long and very detailed version" of how this came to pass.
  • Kick The Football, Chuck uses Charlie Brown attempting to kick Lucy's ball as a metaphor for his fight with cancer after chemotherapy. We all know he never kicks it.
  • Eight Bit Theater invokes this trope to set up a Brick Joke of incredible proportions.
  • The "Sam" arc of General Protection Fault goes into Ki's past with Sam, her former fiancee, who had been alluded to in the past. While it is implied that they had a bad breakup, the arc reveals that he tried to rape her.


Web Original / Web Animation[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Any Christmas special that's set in the ancient Middle East should be a dead give away to its subject matter. Even more obvious if the main character is a donkey.
  • In Tangled, who took Flynn's "This is the story of how I died" seriously?
    • Subverted.
  • Spoofed on The Simpsons when Homer fears the worst when reading a wilderness survival story.

Homer: [reading] Then I heard the sound that all Arctic explorers dread... the pitiless bark of the sea lion! [gasp] He'll be killed!
Marge: Homer, he obviously got out alive if he wrote the article.
Homer: Don't be so... [flips ahead] Oh, you're right.

    • Likewise, any flashback episode that shows problems with Homer & Marge's relationship (i.e. "That 90's Show"). Since they're married in the present, it's pretty obvious they're going to be fine.
    • In "Homer's Paternity Coot" Abe unsurprisingly turns out to be Homer's real father after all.
  • A recent Phineas and Ferb episode is entitled "Candace Gets Busted". Two guesses as to what happens at the end.
  • Young Justice: Aquaman's younger brother Orm makes an appearance and seems to be a devoted servant to the king and an all-around nice guy. This won't end well.
  • For Transformers Prime, everyone is waiting for Optimus Prime to die and come back to life, just to get it over with.
    • There's a twist this time. Since a dead character can't come back in this series, they killed Prime metaphorically. Unleashing the Matrix on Unicron took away all of his memories of being Optimus Prime. He is now Orion Pax, and has joined the Decepticons via Megatron taking advantage of his current state. Now we're waiting to see how they "ressurect" him this time.
  • Before Celebrity Deathmatch showed a classic match between OJ Simpson and Joe Namath, Nick started making OJ jokes. Johnny explained the fight took place before the ugliness in a simpler time.
  • Any time they come close to capturing or killing an important figure in the Separatist Alliance in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, or if any of the Jedi are in peril. You already knew Nute Gunray was going to get away and that Obi Wan somehow escapes the supposedly inescapable trap. The series does avert this to a degree whenever they feature clones, since you never know which among them will get offed the next minute.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • One guess where you will be in 200 years. Dead.
    • Challenge Accepted.
  • As unlikely as the quest for immortality may be we can say for sure at least that the Earth will end one day. As the Sun enters the red giant phase in a few billion years, it will start to expand, possibly consuming Earth. The sun's outer layers will drift away to create a planetary nebula and a dim white dwarf where the solar system once was. A depressing thought that our place, our birth place and home in the universe won't always be there.
    • And that isn't even expressing the possibilities of the ways that human beings could end themselves, or asteroids destroying the world, among other possibilities.
    • But as the trope points out, there's still room for a Twist Ending or Reveal where we colonize other planets.
  • If the theories regarding the end of the universe are to believed then the universe will eventually suffer Heat Death, where all the heat energy in the universe will be expended and it will go through a cold spell that will kill all potential for life, and the Big Crunch, which is the ever expanding universe of ours finally collapsing in on itself thus destroying all matter in the universe.
    • And that's just one possibility of the universe ending, there are dozens more.
  • A British man called his fishing boat "Titanic 2". Guess how it ends.
  1. Interestingly, Altaïr marries and has children after the events of the first game, and the second game makes it clear that Desmond is descended from his firstborn son, but Revelations requires that later memories of him be explored. This is done by means of having Altaïr use the Apple of Eden to store his own memories in keys which Ezio later recovers and views.