Recap Episode

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Lucrezia Noin: Filler.
Zechs Marquise: I'm sorry, Noin. It sounded like you just said "filler."
Noin: I did.
Zechs But this is a GUNDAM series, we don't get fillers. We get crappy recap episodes which nobody likes.
Noin: I know, where nothing ever happens until right at the end.

A type of Clip Show. An episode that sums up a season or storyline by showing clips of significant events - essentially, a "Previously On..." that lasts for a whole episode. Often used to help new viewers get acquainted with the storyline. This is important in Japan, where reruns of a series are a rarity. It can also be used to emphasize a Story Arc as setup to the next arc.

Many anime shows have a recap episode, usually about halfway through the series. Often combined with or immediately followed by a Beach Episode in order to use Fan Service to keep the viewers coming back.

Sometimes, combined with a Framing Device that justifies the episode in-character.

In general, common in Anime, although in the US reality shows also do it, especially Survivor (which has done one every season (well, until Redemption Island) it's been on). Becoming more popular in the West, with shows such as Lost and Desperate Housewives employing it, but in general it's much more common to show a brief recap of all relevant storylines at the start of each episode. Webcomics will rarely use this, and usually only to recap their experiences at conventions.

Examples of Recap Episode include:

Anime and Manga

  • Trigun had one, though the framing device included some plot-relevant new material and a notable example of Fan Disservice.
  • Ranma ½ has a Recap Episode toward the end of its first season, but it was more of a summation than a review as the series' renewal was uncertain at the time. The basic plotline was Ranma and Genma sparring shortly after Shampoo's first departure, with Ranma complaining about all the problems he has to put up with because of Genma's brilliant idea to go to Jusenkyo and then strand them here in Nerima.
    • A second one came in the third season, apparently intended as a cheap way to do a 'character spotlight episode'. "From Ryoga, With Love" was set in a little shack in the mountains where Ryoga Hibiki was thinking over his recent involvements with Ranma and Akane.
  • Mahoromatic has a Recap Episode in which the characters are all at a party, but the visuals are all from previous episodes (explained as being a video being played in some room at the party, apparently taken by a Magical Security Cam). Some of the dialogue is amusing (characters seeing events that they were not present for), though other parts simply use the original scenes' dialogue.
    • It should be noted as well that Mahoromatic makes EXTENSIVE use of flashbacks to set a nostalgic mood in fact, there are three episodes of the second season that can be called Recap Episodes due to their use of flashbacks to set the nostalgic/tragic mood of the presented events
  • Excel Saga and Kodomo no Omocha both have recap episodes framed as game shows, although the Excel Saga's also has several twists to the recap (like reshooting one in Gratuitous English).
    • Excel Saga had a second episode that recapped only the B-plot. The main characters recapped it while drinking at a bar.
  • Martian Successor Nadesico provides an interesting variation: The clip show starts as normal, then it suddently cuts out to show the episode being watched by the cast of Gekiganger 3, Nadesico's Show Within a Show (take a second to figure that out, then come back when your head stops hurting). In addition to the usual plot recapping, the episode features all the characters of Gekiganger (good guys and bad alike) watching Nadesico on TV and commenting on the action of the previous episodes. And at the end they have a battle, with both sides using what they've learned from Nadesico.
  • The Twelve Kingdoms has recap episodes at the end of each arc, sometimes with a frame story that relates to but is not critical to the main action, sometimes not.
  • Episode #14 of Neon Genesis Evangelion is a recap episode. Death & Rebirth is also essentially a recap movie.
    • Half of episode 14 is recap. The other half - well, Rei gives some philosophy-babble, EVA-00 goes haywire with Shinji inside, and there's a little bit of exposition and foreshadowing.
  • Robotech (and the original Macross that it used footage from) have two episodes which are constructed largely from clips of earlier episodes. The second is a basic, narrated clip show, but the first is a brilliantly-edited dream sequence in which events are replayed with different dialogue that radically changes their interpretation and reveals subtexts.
  • Gundam SEED has several recap episodes throughout the course of the series, including two clip shows in a row.
    • Like its predecessor, Gundam SEED Destiny has two or three recap episodes, each of which contains a few minutes of new footage and dialogue to tie together the recaps (e.g., Chairman Durandal's conversation with Rau Le Creuset).
    • Gundam in general is very fond of flashback/recap stories. The films for the series Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory and Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team are done in this way (the latter being framed as an investigation of the main character who is suspected of treason for his past actions). Similar releases include two direct to video G Gundam 'movies' and the pair of Turn A Gundam films.
      • Gundam Wing had two recap episodes in a row, but Word of God admitted that this was because plans to air vignettes from the main cast's youth fell through; these stories were later compiled into the manga Episode Zero.
  • Wolf's Rain probably deserves the booby-prize for including no fewer than FOUR recap episodes (#15 - 18) halfway through its original 26-episode run. To make up for this four new OVA episodes were made to conclude the story (#27 - 30). In the US DVD release the recap episodes occupy a single disc (Volume 4, "Recollections"), so buyers can skip from discs 3 to 5 without missing anything (apart from some new narration, a couple of new establishing shots and one scene that's re-edited to change its context by removing a character who was in the original version).
  • Episode 13 of Revolutionary Girl Utena provided some tantalizing clues as to what was really going on as framing material for a recap episode. It also had new footage, with characters present who were not present the first time we saw the scenes.
    • More notable still is "The Prince Who Runs Through The Night," which was both a Recap Episode and an intensely squicky Wham! Episode.
  • Serial Experiments Lain #11 (Infornography) is also some sort of a recap episode, in which images of previous episodes are quickly shown during the first 15 minutes.
  • Even AIR used its final (thirteenth) episode to recap everything previous. Most people, therefore, treat it as a Twelve-Episode Anime.
  • The episodes of Kujibiki Unbalance included in the Genshiken DVDs included this, with the twist that it is supposed to be episode 21 of a 26-episode TV series, only the first and 25th episodes of which are also included. This means that the episode is "recapping" events that were never made as actual episodes.
  • Death Note has a half-episode-long recap at a particularly important turning point in the series. In fact, considering where it was, it was more of an episode-long Really Dead Montage for L.
  • Chobits, a 27 episode anime series, featured 3 recaps, one of which was the LAST episode of the series.
  • Code Geass is one of the few anime series to have the decency to number its recap episode differently from its "normal" episodes. In its case, the recap was numbered 17.5, with the actual story being continued in episode number 18. There was 8.5, too.
    • Unlike many examples, however, the staff of Geass openly admitted that they were stalling for time, and the two "half-episodes" were left out of the DVD release of the series. Consequently, the American broadcast opted to not bother showing them at all.
  • The first two episodes of Shakugan no Shana II were essentially recaps of the first series, with a bit of plot to justify it.
  • The Hot Springs Episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is also a recap episode. Lampshade Hanging occurs when it seems they're actually watching the clips being recapped, and Kamina can't remember who Viral is at all.
Of course, this was done because the episode as animated was too risqué to show (in Japan or America), so they ended up doing a lengthy recap in order to eat up the time from the replaced scenes (the real version is available on DVD). The "Actual" Recap episode is #16.
  • Episode 12 of Samurai Champloo consists of Mugen and Jin stealing and reading Fuu's diary, which leads to a humorous retelling of the the previous eleven episodes from Fuu's point of view, with occasional criticisms from Jin and Mugen.
  • Digimon Savers had two, one based around the protagonists losing their memories, and one based around Yggdrasil explaining to Craniummon why they were going to annihilate the human race.
  • Pokémon didn't have its first full recap episode until right before Ash's eighth Gym battle in Hoenn, and there was another one in Sinnoh. Strangely, both episodes were skipped in the dub.
    • Just had another one, although it was more of an introduction to Pokemon, and did show some scenes from future episodes.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! also has an number of recap episodes, in which the most repeatedly repeated flashbacks are repeated once more. They're mostly disguised as a dialogue between two characters, but it's not Info Dump since we (the audience) know everything already.
    • Naturally, Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series mocked this in its own Recap Episode (Yes, a Recap Episode for an Abridged Series. Work with it)
      • The video description on Youtube read "Did I just abridge my own series?"

Yami: Or we could flashback to previous episodes in an attempt to save the animators time and money.
Kaiba: Wouldn't that just piss off all our viewers and send our ratings plummeting into the ground?
Yami: Yup.
Kaiba: Let's do it.

  • Interestingly, the dub of Dragonball Z created a recap episode that was broadcast just before the androids saga.
  • Armored Trooper VOTOMS has three recap episodes: episode 20, episode 28, and episode 40. Each one only covers the events of the first arc, which spanned episodes 1-13.
  • Macross Frontier interestingly turns its recap episode into an important episode, by having the villains discuss the recent events and shed light on their evil schemes, as well as commenting on where they succeeded. Also, it looked pretty.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha's third season had a scene where the rookies were shown Nanoha's past so they may understand why she trains them in a slow and very thorough manner. Incidentally, it also served as a quick summary of the first two seasons for those who missed them.
  • Sailor Moon ended its second season on one of these for the entire series up to that point, also incorporating some extremely vague previews for the upcoming season.
  • Tekkaman Blade had four or five of these in a 49-episode TV series.
  • Fist of the North Star had roughly a dozen filler episodes during its 152-episode run (counting both series). Some of these fillers actually featured newly animated flashbacks among the clips (such as one where we see the Hokuto Brothers, including a young Jagi, during their training days). One of the most notorious examples occurs at the end of the third part of the first series, which ends with a five-part tribute arc dedicated to the fallen Nanto Seiken masters.
  • X 1999 had one about halfway through, presented as mainly flashbacks.
  • The final episode of Clannad: After Story was a Recap Episode with a small twist: the debate on whether the universe/reality where Nagisa and Ushio died really existed/happened was addressed. It really did happen.
  • Naruto has had one regular recap episode before entering the forest of death in the Chunin exam, which takes the form of Konohamaru giving Team 7 an interview. (The show had moved to a new prime timeslot in Japan, so this was to introduce the show to new readers, and was shown back-to-back with the next real episode. In the original screening, there was ahilarious additional No Fourth Wall framing device of Naruto being so excited about the time change that he started the show 23 minutes too early and the rest of the cast was stalling for the actual episode to arrive.) The American broadcast actually made it's own two part recap episode entirely from recycled footage, and both of them were set a while before where the broadcast was when they aired (being set in the Forest of Death and Preliminary round of the fighting while the broadcast was already to the month long break between the preliminaries and the public tournament). This causes several continuity errors, most noticeably that Sakura's hair is at full length even those this is apparently after her Important Haircut.
  • Speed Grapher had one, episode 16, in which the events of previous episodes were described in terms of the profit/loss to the club.
  • Halfway through Real Drive, Minamo tells her grandmother about the events so far in order to find out what to write for her school assignment. The episode ends with an insert song while depicting Minamo's first ocean dive, leading to loads of Stock Footage Scenery Porn
  • Fantastic Children drops one right in the middle, with no narrative justification; it's just a bunch of clips recapping the story, leading right up to the last scene of the previous episode. Somewhat justified in that it helps to make sense of the rather complex plot, which was probably welcomed by anyone who'd missed an episode.
  • Hikaru no Go gives us a weird one; coming near the end of the second season, it has Hikaru and Sai reminiscing and eventually coming to an important decision. The problem is, this scene wasn't in the manga, but the decision they made was…only they made it about ten episodes later, under different circumstances. So the next few episodes end up contradicting this one, with the characters seeming to have regressed.
  • Basquash! switches to the main character's reporter sister for the entire second half of episode 19 as she writes a reminiscence on the events of the series so far.
  • Used in the Kujibiki Unbalance episodes that come with the DVD of Genshiken so you can see clips from all the different episodes to get an idea of what the series is like.
  • Episode 11 of [[Phantom of Inferno|Phantom Requiem for the Phantom]] is this. Episode 19 has elements of it as well, but thankfully to a lesser extent.
  • While the first anime of Fullmetal Alchemist avoids this trope entirely, Brotherhood starts the third season off with Hohenheim reminiscing over all the events of the past two seasons, most of which he wasn't even present for, while some surreal events happen in the meantime. There's a logical explanation supplied, thankfully.
  • .hack//Sign had a particularly weird example. Clips throughout the entire series thus far, with the only narration being various characters reading one long poem that is recited now and then in the show. This one poem reading lasts for twenty minutes.
  • The first segment of episode 12 of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. Even though it provided some interesting backstories for the ghosts Panty and Stocking killed, Gainax produced an alternate segment for the DVD release.
  • Dennou Coil recapped the plot through the lenses of Akira's glasses for episode 14.
  • Bleach tends to do this after its filler arcs. Given that they often run upwards of forty episodes, and cannot be strictly in-continuity with the canon arcs, the recap is often sorely needed ("oh, right, we cut away in the middle of a climactic duel between The Hero and The Rival...")
  • Episode 10 of Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing has Gisey writing a letter to her family to recap everything that happened so far.
  • Episode 13 of The Remake of Hunter X Hunter, in the style of the above example.
  • UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie has Princess Laine gaining the ability to Time Travel to moments she considers important. Notably, she continues to use this power after the recap episode.

Comic Book

  • Issue 57 on Sonic the Hedgehog was dedicated entirely to going over every story in the comic deemed canon after its Cerebus Syndrome.
  • Issue 26 of Countdown to Final Crisis. As Linkara put it, "We're halfway through the entire story, so let's just stop the plot and talk about everything that everyone who's been reading the book already knows!"

Fan Works


  • Silent Night Deadly Night Part II is sort of a recap movie: most of the first 40 minutes of the 90 minute film are clips of the first Silent Night Deadly Night being narrated to a psychiatrist by the brother of the santa-suited serial killer from the first movie. It was initially conceived as a bowdlerized version of the original film with a little bit of new footage to replace more graphic scenes, but ended up becoming a "sequel". And once it does get to what happened to the narrator after the first film, more old footage gets a more playful reuse: At one point an out-of-context scene of a Santa Claus holding up a liquor store shows up in a film he and his date are watching - the subject matter of course hits a little too close to home for him.
  • The Thumbelina insert in Santa and The Ice Cream Bunny uses this near the end for whatever reason.


  • For awhile, each Harry Potter book would begin with a Recap Chapter, which would basically consist of Harry sitting around and thinking about the events of previous books for the benefit of anyone not starting the series with the first book. Eventually, J. K. Rowling just gave up and started assuming everyone had read the previous books.
  • Some sequels open with a prologue that provides a synopsis of what has happened in previous volumes: for example, Jane Yolen's White Jenna.

Live Action TV

  • Alias had a particularly egregious one of these in its very first season, in which Sydney Bristow spends approximately ninety percent of the running time telling her interrogators either a) what they should have known already, or b) what they did not possess sufficient security clearance to know. Naturally, her reminisces are all illustrated with clips from earlier shows, which puts it in Clip Show territory as well.
  • Lost has had recap shows, as well as shows that "recap" events from the perspectives of another group of survivors on the island. These however only air before a normal episode (or before a season premiere) or in place of a repeat instead of being episodes themselves.
  • In reality shows, see Survivor, The Apprentice, and The Amazing Race (though only Seasons 6 and 7).
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine makes use of this in their series finale, going to each main character in turn and playing some of the more memorable moments from the previous seven years, accompanied by the instrumental version of an earlier musical number.
  • Destinos: An Introduction To Spanish includes many recap episodes. These serve not only to review the plot, but also to review the vocabulary terms presented in the reviewed episodes, and help viewers understand the conversations better.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street did a cleverly-framed recap set in a house across the street from a wanted criminal's. The house's owners (audience standins) are asked if they mind the BPD officers using their living room for a while. While they're staking out and have nothing better to do, the cops talk, and the residents' questions (as 'new viewers' to the cops' stories) make it into a recap.
  • Power Rangers usually has one right before the Grand Finale; once or twice the writers tried to give them a point by having the characters use all the reflections and remembrances to put together some kind of mystery or figure something out, but they're just an excuse to make a cheap, minimum effort episode right before the season goes out with a bang. However, the 500th episode was one big Recap Episode for the entire franchise, framed as a ranger history lesson Tommy left for Conner, Kira and Ethan. While it omitted certain details (the events of the Mighty Morphin' Alien Rangers mini-season, Karone's non-Astronema history, the events of Forever Red), it was still a fun episode and firmly established that all of the PR seasons take place in the same continuity.
    • The Alien Rangers and Karone were not the only Rangers slighted in the 500th episode: While Tanya Sloan was briefly seen, she was never mentioned. Also, we never see Cole Evans in his cvilian form in it, either.
    • The Operation Overdrive clip show was quite handy, as it was the most Plot Coupon-driven show of the franchise. That episode allowed the viewers to figure out who had what and which pieces still had to be recovered.
  • The Stargate SG-1' recap episode from season 2 managed the impressive feat of getting a massive cliffhanger out of its 10% original content. It was even the Season Finale.
  • The "Lab Rats" episode of CSI could be considered one of these.
  • The Kamen Rider Dragon Knight episode "The Many Faces of Xaviax" was one of these, framed around scenes where the show's three leads briefed potential ally Chris Ramírez on what was really going on.
  • At least halfway through each of the first three seasons, Desperate Housewives hosted a recap show to catch the viewers up on all the storylines. Grey's Anatomy used to do this as well.
  • Farscape did a special recap episode, Farscape Undressed, prior to the third-season premiere.
  • The Adventures of Shirley Holmes had one, where Shirley received an Orchid from an unknown person. A bee that was in the orchid stings her, and she collapses; in her subconscious, she starts looking back at previous adventures trying to figure out who sent the flower, and whether the bee was there intentionally to hurt her, or just there by accident.
  • Andromeda, BeastMaster and Mutant X each included an episode where the framing for flashbacks was a trial of a major character (in at least two cases, the framing was literal).
  • In an episode in Legend of the Seeker, Richard wakes up on the day he first met Kaylen, but he remembers all the events that passed. As he tries to explain this to the people around him, they show clips of the past episodes. Also, in this reality, he isn't the Seeker.
    • And another in season 2, the Creator accuses Richard of serving the Keeper. In recounting his actions, they replay scenes from past episodes.
  • The 90's The Outer Limits had an episode composed largely of clips taken from earlier oneshot stories, smushed together into one continuity.
  • Documentary Mini-Series America Revolution ends with a two part recap episode centered around Washington reminiscing about the war, during his ride to accept nomination as the first president.
  • Parodied in the Community episode "Paradigms of Human Memory". Its framed just like one of these episodes- until the viewer realised we never saw any of this stuff happen.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  • The last Breather Episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender before the Grand Finale, rather than a Clip Show, is a recap episode where the characters watch a play depicting their exploits of the three previous seasons. Actually it's not as much recap as it is a parody - including the 'real' characters sinking through their seats in shame.
    • It's a very meta parody, as well. Like Aang being played by a girl, some confusion as to whether Jet died, and an entire arc being summarized with "Let's not go there". In fact, much of the parody actually comes from complaints of the fandom.
      • Of course, the play also ends with a Downer Ending for the protagonists, where Azula and the Fire Lord win. Propaganda at its finest.
    • Also, the second-to-last episode of season 2, where Aang reflects on different emotions he's felt during the show to unlock his chakras and embrace the Avatar State. Thankfully, there's also a lot of great original material.
  • "Reflections" in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) recapped all of the turtles' encounters with the Shredder up until then.
  • Beavis and Butthead did a Grand Finale that's a recap of the entire series. Though at one point they opted instead for an Overly Long Gag consisting just of Beavis sitting on the couch.
  • The short-lived Silver Surfer cartoon, despite being AWESOME in most respects, inexplicably spoiled its second episode by devoting a huge chunk of it to recapping the events of the first episode in clips.
  • The even-shorter-lived Clerks cartoon parodied this in the very second episode made. What compounded this even further was that, due to Executive Meddling, this was actually the very first episode ever aired.
  • Transformers Prime has an interesting example in the form of the episode "Grilled", which takes the form of one of the Autobot's government liaison briefing his superior; while it is composed almost entirely of clips and summaries of characters and events, it nevertheless, conveys new information in the form of the official government position on and interpretation of the events up to that point.