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A reference to an event taking place earlier than the timeline of the present story. One type of call back is a Running Gag. This is often used to remind viewers that there is an ongoing storyline. More or less a Shout-Out to itself—but if that's all that it's doing, then it's a Continuity Nod; a Call Back brings back an element that is actually relevant again.
Alternately, in comedy: tying a later, seemingly unrelated, joke to one earlier in the show.
In a masterclass on playwriting, Alan Ayckbourn mentions this Trope specifically, calling it "The Plant". Early on, one of his two demonstration actors mentions that he has an urge to sneeze when sexually aroused. Then at the very end:
Actress: Do you think we could become more than friends?
Sometimes a Call Back will take up so much of a chapter or episode that will become a Sequel Episode to the earlier story it's referencing.
Anime and Manga
- The final season of Sailor Moon had oodles of references to the first season, mostly in the relationship between Sailor Moon and Sailor Star Fighter, including Usagi and Seiya meeting almost exactly like Usagi and Mamoru did, Seiya calling Usagi "Odango" (what Mamoru called Usagi, more commonly known as "meatball head" to Americans), and culminating in Seiya throwing a rose to stop a bad guy while wearing an outfit remarkably similar to Tuxedo Mask's (with Tuxedo's theme playing in the background, even).
- Dragon Ball
- The Majin Buu saga in Dragonball Z is full of Call Backs to events all the way back to Dragon Ball, usually in the form of characters reminiscing about the old days. In one episode, nearly every single villain, no matter how minor, the main characters fought in Dragonball Z appears briefly in Hell, cheering on the current Big Bad... except Babidi, who's still angry that Buu killed him.
- One Non-Serial Movie has a fairly humorous Call Back hanging a lampshade on the power-creep endemic to the series: as a result of Hell having a slight dead management problem, Freeza is alive and wreaking havoc again, and is dealt with (with one punch!) by post Buu-arc Gohan without even breaking a sweat.
- Tower of God has a pretty sweet one: while being forced to kill her niece and rival/foe Anak, Androssi has a flashback to the training sessions with, where she had with Baam about loneliness and cafeteria food. Deciding get on over on Ren, that smug bastard, she instead kneels down to her and says "Anak, when this test is over, let's eat together."
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, a Jewel Seed, the focus of the first season, makes a surprise appearance in the third season as a component of an early Type III Gadget Drone. It was apparently stolen from one of the Bureau's local facilities, and Fate mentions how seeing it again gives her a nostalgic feeling. Also, Erio is a product of the same Artificial Mage Replacement Goldfish programme as Fate, which becomes a fired Chekhov's Gun when Jail uses it in a later Hannibal Lecture.
- One Piece
- In an early chapter, Zoro tells Luffy he'll be doomed if he underestimates what the Grand Line can dish, but Luffy insists he'll be able to gather more crew members there because it's a paradise. Over a decade later, the narration mentions that the one thing everyone who goes to the New World says about the Grand Line is "That world was truly a paradise."
- When Hawk-Eye Mihawk makes his first appearance, he does so by slicing Don Krieg's enormous galleon in two with a single slice of his sword, and then casually floats amongst the wreckage. Later, Zoro, after having spent two years training with the man, makes his entrance by slicing apart a ship headed to the New World and sitting atop the wreckage, commenting on how it was "fate" that brought him to destroy their ship. Sounds like Zoro got more than just the man's skills in those few years, huh.
- Also got his contempt for lesser swordsmen. Mihawk was mocking Zoro during their duel in Chapter 51. Forward to Chapter 642, and Zoro tells a Fishman that he couldn't even kill his boredom.
- A hilarious one occurs in the Fishman Island arc where Luffy states he doesn't want to be a hero because a hero has to share meat and he wants the meat all to himself. Later, Zoro makes the same statement except with beer instead of meat despite having never heard Luffy's earlier comment.
- There are plenty more Call Back examples in One Piece's articles. Eiichiro Oda loves them more than he loves Inelegant Blubbering.
- Akane and Ranma's fateful first encounter in Ranma ½—where Akane runs into Ranma as he's just coming out of the bath—was referenced twice, in relatively serious instances, by each of the characters:
- Akane, climbing out of the outdoors bath, runs into Shinnosuke, a very forgetful boy. Like before with Ranma, Akane preserves her modesty with a towel, but the guy is completely naked. Notable in that Shinnosuke was, for a brief while, the only serious contender for Akane's heart.
- While spending the night at a Chinese inn, Ranma is in the bath. Akane (really a villainous impersonator) walks into him; both of them look at each other in the exact same pose as during their very first meeting, right down to the towel.
- Ouran High School Host Club
- There's a little joke in the first episode involving bulbs lighting up as each character realizes Haruhi is a girl, which didn't really make much sense until the reveal at the end. And then in the second to last episode Eclair suddenly has the same type of bulb pop up dark in her head, and then we see it light up when Haruhi interrupts her and Tamaki and walks out of the room again. Which almost doubles as a Funny Aneurysm Moment.
- There's also a huge one to chapter 2 in the last chapter. Lampshaded a few times.
- In Naruto, Sasuke having received the Cursed Seal of Heaven rises up after noticing his teammates in danger from the Sound nin, and declares: "I understand now. I am an avenger!" before showing then uncharacteristic violence and ruthlessness against them. In Part II, Sasuke has gone into full-blown villainy, with other characters noting he has become colder than ever, even when compared to him under the Cursed Seal. When Naruto is confronted by Tobi, and the latter tells him that even after having achieved his goal of killing Itachi, he is still focused on revenge by attacking the summit, Naruto refuses to believe it, to which Tobi replies: "Sasuke is a true avenger!"
- Much like the above. Kabuto once he reveals Dragon sage mode starts using sound ninjutsu. A style which hadn't been brought up in several years and hundreds of chapters.
- In Pokémon, Ash's Staravia evolves in a Pokéringer competition—the same way his Taillow evolved into Swellow. However, Staraptor has a far greater Crowning Moment of Awesome. Unfortunately, James (who made it all the way into the finals in Hoenn) had a hold of the Idiot Ball that episode and gets eliminated in the first round.
- Mahou Sensei Negima
- Chapter 253 has multiple Call Backs to the reverse Wife Husbandry plan as several characters inwardly debate forming a Pactio, coming up against the age barrier around Kotarô and Negi and then remembering Asakura's Plot.
- Negima has a lot of Call Backs; seemingly irrelevant events can turn out to be much important later on, the most important of these comes almost 300 chapters in, when Zazie traps Negi in a Lotus Eater Machine in which his parents are still alive and none of the events of the manga past chapter 15 had taken place. The entire thing is loaded with Call Backs to the very first chapter of the Manga.
- One particular call back in chapter 330 also serves as an Awesome Moment: Evangeline grabs Secundum's arm to stop an attack on Negi and Fate while rising out of a shadow in the ground the exact same way she did when stopping Fate from attacking Negi back in chapter 51.
- Code Geass
- At the end of the first episode of Code Geass, Lelouch's very first command with the Geass is for the Britannian Soldiers to die. At the end of the first episode of Code Geass R2, Lelouch's very first command with the Geass upon the return of his memories is the very same one.
Lelouch: Lelouch Vi Britannia commands you... All of you... Die!
- The line in the little speech Lelouch gave accompanying that command in the first episode: "Only those who are prepared to be fired upon have the right to shoot others." Near the end of the last episode of the second season, they flashed back to that. He meant it.
- In chapter 249 of Hayate the Combat Butler, we learn that Santa, who appears in the very first chapter, is actually Nagi's Grandpa in disguise.
- Despite the separate continuities across seasons, the Digimon dub pulls this off nicely. The 1st episode of Adventure is called "And So It Begins", and the last episode of Frontier features the line "And so it ends!" In terms of the franchise as an Anime, it doesn't.
- In the Throne arc of Kinnikuman, Meat finishes off an opponent with the Back Drop, specifically choosing it because it was a move Kinnikuman himself favored and struggled to master in the earliest parts of the series.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion is jam-packed with Call Backs, Ironic Echoes, Arc Words, etc.
- In Bakuman｡, while the main characters are working with Hattori early on, Takagi mentions an idea he had of a story in which a boy tries to cheat on as many girls as he can as possible, and Hattori says it's a good example of a potential cult hit that most wouldn't be interested in, but a few might consider their favorite. In Chapter 113, while talking about what they should do next now that PCP will not get an anime and Mashiro's romance one-shot did poorly, the characters discuss the idea again.
- Every incarnation of Fullmetal Alchemist adores Call Backs to a point that borders on fetishism. Expect everything that happens to be referenced in a later chapter/episode.
- Classic example: when Winry confronts Scar for the first time, she learns that he was the one who murdered her parents. She's ready to shoot him, but Scar charges at her, yelling that if she can't shoot she should just leave. Ed dives in the way, shielding Winry with his body. Scar immediately flashes back to his brother defending him from Kimblee in the exact same way. The hesitation is enough for Alphonse to step in and kick his ass.
- The most recent chapter of the manga calls all the way back to the first. Context: Ichigo has spent well over a year without his powers, eventually accepting an offer from Ginjou to try to get them back. This goes all kinds of wrong for various reasons, but as all hope seems lost, he gets stabbed by someone he can't see - meaning a Shinigami. Lo and behold, it's Rukia, and in nearly the exact same manner as he gained his powers in the very first chapter, Ichigo's back. The name of the first chapter is Death and Strawberry. The name of this one? Death and Strawberry 2.
- When Hirako Shinji first introduces himself to the class, he writes his name on the board backwards. This is probably a reference to his shikai ability, which creates an illusion of an inverted world where left is right, up is down and forward is back.
- The first episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has a full body shot of Kamina pointing upwards, followed by a closeup of his face and a closeup of his finger to the sides. The shot would be used several times in the series to indicate that something epic is going to happen.
- The last chapter of Eyeshield 21 was a Book Ends to the first chapter, from the chapter title to the surprise at the sudden game to fighting the weakest team in the league for the first game.
- A minor one came in a full-color coverpage showing what all the characters were up to before the Hakushuu game. Agon is actually shown training, visibly struggling to do pushups while Yamabushi sits on his back. It's a call back to an earlier chapter where someone mentions his twin brother Unsui trains until he bleeds (while showing Unsui doing pushups one-handed with Yamabushi on his back) and Agon never had to work for anything.
- In the earlier chapters while in Las Vagas, Monta killed his and Sena's amazing winning streak by betting everything on Red 21 which was the Deimon Devilbats' main color and Eyeshield 21's number respectively. Fast forward before the Japan/USA game where Yamato confronts Mr Don and bets on red. This time, the ball lands on Red 21.
- For a series that starts out very Slice of Life, Popotan relies heavily on earlier events in its later episodes. Of particular importance is Mai's friendship with Konami (established in episode 2), which is not only called back to in episodes 9 and 12 (where Mai meets Konami's daughter and goes back to her time period, respectively), but also forms a crucial part of the anime's main theme.
- The first scene of Green Lantern: Rebirth (which tells the story of Hal Jordan's resurrection and his taking up the Lantern mantle once more) is a call-back to Hal's origin story in the very first issue of the series. It starts with an Oan spaceship crashlanding outside of an Air Force base in the desert with an injured Green Lantern in the cockpit. But this time, the injured Green Lantern is Kyle Rayner.
- In the second issue of the New 52 reboot of the main Green Lantern magazine, Sinestro creates a Green Lantern Ring for Hal Jordan, who immediately attacks him with the ring. However, as the ring is a construct of Sinestro's, it doesn't harm him as he is in control of it. Later, at the end of the fourth issue, Sinestro creates additional rings for the imprisioned Korugarans, who attempt to attack him due to their misconception of his Sinestro Corps. The fifth issue begins with the reveal that, like before, Sinestro is not harmed by the rings' attacks.
- Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1 (2011) opens with Norman Osborn observing an OZ-contaminated spider whilst telling a scientist the myth of Arachne, which happened in the opening panels of Ultimate Spider-Man #1. There's a bit of Fridge Brilliance in that the dialogue is just slightly altered to clarify a different moment in time, and that the spider, rather than the original 00, is marked 42.
- In the third Blacksad album "Red Soul", Blacksad is sufficiently annoyed when he has to attend a Natalia Wilford Look-A-Like contest when doing bodyguard duty for a rich client. This should only make sense if you've read the first one, and know about his history with the real woman.
- In issue 16 of The Powerpuff Girls, in the story "Five Green Vandals," Bubbles dredges up Buttercup's crush on Gangreen Gang leader Ace in the TV episode "Buttercrush." Buttercup is naturally repulsed by it.
- Issue #30's "Monkey See, Monkey Dough": Mojo wants to hire Bubbles to clean a device (which she doesn't know is a destruction device), and she instantly brings up how she and her sisters helped Mojo nearly take over Townsville in the movie.
- The X Men AU fic The Wraith Saga features Jason Wyngarde being possessed by the Wraith (the Phoenix Force's Evil Counterpart) as a major plot point. The scene where the Wraith takes hold of him is a reference to the famous scene in Uncanny X-Men #101, when Jean first became the Phoenix.
Jean: Hear me, X-Men! No longer am I the woman you knew! I am fire! And life incarnate! Now and forever! I am Phoenix!
Jason: Hear me, mortals! No longer am I the man you once knew! I am the shadow! I am oblivion, and Death incarnate! Now and forever, I am The Wraith!
- Winter War plays this trope for drama rather than humor. While Orihime is restoring Ichigo to control of his body, she makes a Call Back to something Ichigo said and did way back in the canonical Soul Society arc:
Orihime: Don’t you remember what you told Kuchiki-kun -- the person who’s being saved doesn’t get any say in the matter...
- The Harry Potter/Justice League crossover Terminal Justice contains numerous references to Rorschach's Blot's stories Make a Wish, The Hunt for Harry Potter and Back in Black, in which Harry went around disguised as one "Mr. Black," in addition to several scenes from and references to Justice League episodes.
- Marik Plays Bloodlines, a spin-off of Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series, has a call back to the episode where Marik meets Joey and Tea. His vampire character is named "Malik Blishtar," the Sue Donym he made up.
- Dragon Ball Abridged: A lot of the humor in later episodes comes from stuff like this.
- Notably featured are three uses of the Solar Flare attack to blind an enemy. In the first instance, Vegeta shouted it was like "walking in on Frieza in the shower"; the second victim several episodes later saw a brief image of a showering Frieza when hit with the attack. The third victim is Frieza himself, who sees a brief image of the second victim posing.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series tends to incorporate parts of the original strip into itself.
Films -- Live-Action
- The Bourne Series
- In a beautiful moment at the end of The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne says to the government assassin sent to kill him, "look at what they make you give", harking back to Clive Owen's final words to him in The Bourne Identity.
- Another interesting example is a cameo from Chris Cooper as Conklin (from Identity) in The Bourne Supremacy, in which he speaks a key piece of dialogue ("Training's over.") that Bourne remembers in the first film.
- Half of the Dumb and Dumber duo says he's sold his dead parrot to a blind kid to help fund their trip to Colorado. Later, a news report has the "heart breaking story of the Rhode Island blind boy who was duped into buying a dead parakeet" as a headline. Especially funny is that Lauren Holly's character sees the report and rhetorically asks "who are these sick people?" right before said half of the duo rings her doorbell.
- The 2nd half of Shaun of the Dead is made of Call Backs. Every line in the 1st half comes back in radically different context. Hot Fuzz too, to a lesser extent.
- All of the [[Terminator (franchise)|Terminator movies have these in spades. "Come with me if you want to live" is right up there with "I'll be back". And "Get Out!". Then Connor picks up that scar over his eye. Come to think of it, most of these are Call Forward as well.
- Also Dr. Silberman, a character who appears in all of the first three movies for essentially this purpose.
- An awesome one in Terminator Salvation. When John is about to try and rescue Kyle Reese from a Skynet camp, alone, Kate asks him what she should tell his troops. He answers, "I'll be back."
- Another Salvation example: when John is trying to lure a Terminator to his location, he starts playing music. The song? The same Guns n Roses song he was listening to in T2.
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- In At World's End, when the Pirate's Code is brought out, the first thing Captain Jack Sparrow looks up is whether the rule of parley (a Running Gag throughout the films) exists. It does.
- "Parley" is used as a Call Back twice more in the series. In Curse of the Black Pearl, Pintle says, "Damned to the depths with him who thought up parley!" ("That would be the French."), and "If any of you so much as thinks the word parley...". But at the end of the film (after the titular curse is broken), the first thing Pintle does is ask for parley in an obviously frightened tone. And then in At World's End, upon seeing the size of the East India Company's armada, Pintle again reacts with a frightened, "Parley?"
- In the first movie, Captain Barbossa says that the thing he hates most about being undead is not being able to taste anything, holding an apple as an example. When the curse is lifted at the end of the movie, he dies and the apple falls out of his hand before he can taste it. The next movie ends with him appearing at the end, finally taking a bite out of an apple.
- When asked how he returned, Will Turner sarcastically commented he used a couple of sea turtles lashed together to make a raft. Jack quipped "it's not so easy, was it?" This is more humorous if you remembered that Jack supposedly used this method before the events of the first movie.
- When Pintel and Raggetti are looking for Elizabeth in the first film they call her "poppet" a couple of times mockingly. At the end of the third film when Elizabeth is saying goodbye to all the pirates, Pintel says "goodbye, poppet" affectionately.
- Half-barrel hinges... leverage.
- During the course of Curse of the Black Pearl, Pintel says loudly to Elizabeth something along the lines of, "Your chariot awaits, sire!" while dropping a boat into the water for her to use. A good two movies later, during At World's End, Pintel says the exact same line to the exact same person, only much more serious since Elizabeth is now the Pirate King, and thus Pintel's superior.
- In Live Free or Die Hard, John McClane is being held at gunpoint by Thomas Gabriel.
- The ending of the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is a call back to the ending of the first ("I made another funny! ha, ha, ha, ha!").
- In Mother of Tears, the final movie of The Three Mothers trilogy by Dario Argento, it makes reference to the architect that built the homes for the witches much like it did in the second film Inferno, which didn't mention much of Suspiria beyond that, but in Mother of Tears, a character also mentions to the heroine how her mother got herself killed while weakening the witch from Suspiria, who would eventually be killed by the heroine of said film.
- In Ip Man 2, Ip is asked by Wong Leung if he could take on ten people at once. In the first film, he did just that. The payoff comes when he takes on even more people to save Leung later and Leung reminds him of the query.
- In Finding Neverland, the "It's a secret." ("It's a play.") lines to Sylvia by her sons are first used when they are trying to get her to come see Peter's play. They are used again at the end of the movie when they're bringing her to another surprise performance.
- In Punch Line, Tom Hanks's character's stand-up routine uses this to masterful effect. He begins his routine by talking about the peculiar expression the emcee used, "comedy stylings," applying this to various occupations to point out its absurdity (stopping at "hair stylist," because, well, that one is right). He goes on from topic to topic, at the top of his game, but soon devolving into an angry tirade about bank employees, cab drivers and debutantes. He stops and informs the audience, "I don't hate anybody. I'm not a hate monger. I'm a "hate stylist."
- Canada Russia 72, a Canadian tv movie about the fiercely fought hockey tournament between the Canaians and the Soviets had a surprisingly touching example of this. Earlier in the film, Canadian goalie Ken Dryden leaves the dressing room and sees Soviet goalie Vladislav Tretiak practice his goaltending by bouncing rubber balls against the wall. Startled, Tretiak drops a ball and Dryden picks it up, tosses it back to him and they smile at each other. Later in the film, Ken Dryden is seen bouncing rubber balls against the wall. The fact that they are now friends makes it even better. http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Tretiak+returns+cause/3898323/story.htm [dead link]
- The various endings of Clue are filled with call backs to earlier in the film: "Too late." "I told you I didn't do it." "Would anyone care for fruit or dessert?" And so on and so forth.
- Two jokes, one near the beginning of the movie and one near the end.
Max: Who's your best friend?
Amy: What did I say to you the first time we met?
- Big Trouble in Little China. When Jack and Wang first go after Lo Pan, Jack asks why they don't just call the cops. Wang responds "Cops got better things to do than get killed." Later, one of the others asks why they don't call the cops and this time Jack says "Cops got better things to do than get killed."
- The Dresden Files
- In White Night, a minor character from Storm Front comes back and plays a significant role in the plot. Additionally, an aspect of one characters Backstory which was mentioned only twice in the entire series (Once each in Storm Front and Death Masks) is expanded on, and becomes a major Plot Point.
- And a certain line from Storm Front gets a Tear Jerking Call Back twelve books later in Ghost Story.
Harry: Paranoid? Maybe. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face.
- Good Omens is particularly fond of these. One footnote joke near the beginning becomes a major plot element near the end.
- A number of authors in the Star Wars Expanded Universe dabble in this and Call Forward.
- Timothy Zahn is particularly adept at this—in the Hand of Thrawn duology, unless you're paying attention it's hard to tell what's a Call Back, a Continuity Nod, a Cryptic Background Reference, or a Noodle Incident.
- Survivor's Quest and Outbound Flight, very different novels with 50 years between them, were written together, so there are calls between them. Survivor's Quest also has at least two Call Backs to the Original Trilogy. "I want to go with you", a young untrained Force-Sensitive who wants to help an older Jedi, and Dean Jinzler, brother of a Jedi, who'd been passing as an ambassador.
Jinzler: I'm not an ambassador, Guardian. I'm an electronics technician. Like my father before me.
- In the Prydain Chronicles first book The Book of Three Taran helps a gwythaint, one of the dark lord's creatures, against the advice of his more experienced companions. The gwythaint appears at the end of the final book The High King and buys Taran some time at the expense of its own life.
- Dale Brown does this from time to time. For example, in Warrior Class, Dave Luger is angered and emotionally crippled when he meets one of the former personnel at the Soviet base he was rescued from in Night of the Hawk.
- This gem from The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison:
"Hey, Rache," Jenks said, dropping down from who knew where. "Your back is clear. And what is Plan B?"
- Then, two books later, this exchange takes place...
"Plan B?" Ivy said. "What is plan B?"
- From The Lord of the Rings: Tom Bombadil gives Merry, Pippin, and Sam a long knife (a sword to a Hobbits) taken from the Barrow-wights. The enchantments on these knives, or at least Merry's, play a MAJOR role in saving Minas Tirith.
- Harry Potter is chock-full of these, to the point that a person reading through a second time (or even a third time) may have to stop every few chapters to say "It was there all along?!?"
- In the third book of the Knight and Rogue Series Burke, while boasting about his pack of magic hounds, mentions they're immune to the drug Aquilas. Though it got no mention in the second book, it was discussed several times in the first before the characters actually drug somebody with it.
- Community is so full of these, it'd be easier just to go read the page.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000
- Joel and Frank's surprise appearance in the first episode of the final season was a Call Back to earlier seasons on a different network.
- They also love making Call Back jokes about previous movies, especially if they run into the same actor.
- Lampshaded in the episode "King Dinosaur." Servo criticizes Joel for repeating a joke, to which Joel responds that it was a call back. Crow even makes a call back to the first call back in the same episode.
- They even did this when it made no sense, such as having Mike reference movies that were shown during the Joel era. Although it is possible that Mike just deliberately sought out terrible movies and/or had very bad taste.
- Ben Browder's character in the last two seasons of Stargate SG-1 does a lot of these. (He read the mission reports.)
- Lampshaded in Stargate Atlantis season 4, when Sam Carter left the SGC to take over leadership of Atlantis. She asks Teal'c if he'll come visit her, and he tells her "undomesticated equines could not keep me away." This is a repeat of a line from Season 2 of SG-1 (around eight years earlier). Sam laughs and tells him, "Nice call back."
- Due to the nature of Lost, with its broad mythology, Character Focus episodes, and time-compression, features many a Call Back to previous episodes and seasons. A few examples: Hurley's van from "Tricia Tanaka is Dead" turns up in a small way in "The Man Behind the Curtain" and a big way in "Through the Looking Glass." Locke's donated kidney from Season 1 saves his life in Season 3. "Cabin Fever" in Season 4 heavily called back the fourth episode, "Walkabout."
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer is full of Call Backs.
- Including the last scene of the second episode being recreated before the last battle of the last episode.
- Also, in "Innocence", after Buffy slept with Angel and he lost his soul, Angelus was critical of Buffy's "skills" in bed, to which she responded in the shooting script, "Was I... was it... not good?" And in the episode of Angel where Darla seduced Angel into having sex with her in hopes of him losing his soul again, Darla is self-conscious when Angel doesn't lose his soul, and asks the same question, word for word.
- How about the Call Back with a 5-year gap. In Season 2, Xander is supposed to warn Buffy that Willow is attempting to restore Angel's soul. Since he hates Angel, Xander tells her, "Willow says kick his ass". In Season 7 Buffy mentions this in front of Willow, and Xander is finally caught out in his lie.
- One Buffy Call Back that's arguably a vocabulary Brick Joke, thrown across 19 episodes: In the 6th-season's "Gone", Warren, leader of the evil-nerd trio, declares to Buffy that "We're your arch-nemesises...ses." When they fail to open their escape door, Buffy mockingly says to Willow: "I give you my arch-nemesis...ses...ses." In season 7's "Conversations with Dead People", vampire and former acquaintance Holden marvels that he and Buffy are now enemies, saying, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if we became nemeses?". Buffy responds, "Is that how you say the word?"
- In fact, there are at best a small handful of episodes of Buffy that either don't feature a Call Back or are not called back to in a future episode.
- Everybody Loves Raymond In the pilot episode, Marie and Raymond have a discussion of the 'Fruit of the Month' club that Raymond has bought a membership for his parents. His parents see it as a cult that continually gives them more fruit than they know what to do with. This is referenced often throughout the series.
- M*A*S*H does this often with one of the more serious characters complaining about all the things Hawkeye, Trapper, and B.J. had done to them. More seriously, references to Col. Blake, Trapper, and Radar after they left the show.
- In the first two episodes, Kaylee tells Mal that they need a new compression coil or some such part for the ship's engine or they will be dead in the water. In the episode "Out of Gas", the failure of this part causes exactly that, thus giving us the Plot of the episode.
- And in the episode "Ariel", Wash finds an apparently pristine compression coil in a junkyard, shows it to Kaylee, and tosses it aside.
- In Heroes "A Clear And Present Danger", Peter ends up as a passenger in Mohinder's cab and asks, "Do you ever get the feeling like you were meant to do something extraordinary?", echoing the first time they met.
- Doctor Who
- It remains to be seen whether the Time Agents referenced by 51st century Captain Jack Harkness in the new series are a Call Back to the Time Agents mentioned by his contemporary Magnus Greel in the Fourth Doctor's adventure "The Talons of Weng-Chiang".
- "School Reunion" was one big Call Back to the Fourth Doctor's era. As well, there was a more short-term Call Back: The Doctor explains that he can't open the Krilitane device because it's got a "deadlock seal". The same thing prevented him from unlocking the door from the Big Brother house in "Bad Wolf".
- Deadlock seals have been mentioned repeatedly since, to the point where it's stopped being a Call Back to earlier references and started being a standard part of the series.
- "The Lazarus Experiment" also had a hilarious Shout-Out to a previous Doctor's Techno Babble of choice, where he complains that it took him longer than usual to "reverse the polarity".
- In the end of the CSI episode "Pirates of the Third Reich", Lady Heather, the recurring dominatrix character, has abducted her daughter's killer, tied him up and is beating him bloody with her bullwhip when Grissom arrives to confront her. In a previous episode, the two had discussed the sanctity of the safeword; in a BDSM relationship, when the dominant is told to stop, she must stop. So when Grissom (who had once engaged in some Unresolved Sexual Tension with her) grabs the whip as she's swinging it and tells her "I said stop", she caves, and it's a powerful moment to those who realize the significance.
- The US version of The Office has a few Call Back jokes throughout the series. One of the more notable of these is the use of the expression "Win-Win-Win" to describe a favorable outcome of a compromise. According to the season 2 episode "Conflict Resolution", both parties win for having a successful compromise, and Michael wins for having successfully managed a conflict. From this point on, "Win-Win" in almost any context is replaced by "Win-Win-Win".
- Season 3 Battlestar Galactica Reimagined episode "Maelstrom" had Kara say "I'll see you on the other side" to Lee before she got killed. During the series finale, Samuel Anders utters the very same words to Kara following their farewell before he directs Galactica and the rest of the Fleet into the Sun. Many fans take this to mean that they have both Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence and will be Together in Death, and that Lee will also gain that status when he eventually dies.
- Arrested Development is full of these, but you have to be on your toes to pick up on them. The line "The fact that you call making love 'pop-pop' shows me you're not ready" is used in two completely different contexts by two different characters over the course of two seasons.
- Star Trek (not known for its continuity) has a moment in the "The Deadly Years" where Kirk references the Corbomite Self-Destruct Device from "The Corbomite Maneuver" in order to bluff some Romulans. Some of the Bridge Crew actually smile when he makes the broadcast. There's another one in "The Trouble with Tribbles" when the Klingon commander makes a reference to the Organian peace treaty. In "Errand of Mercy", the Organians intervened to stop the Klingons and The Federation trying to kill each other - apparently they're still watching.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- In the pilot episode, someone mentions "... an Admiral who hates transporters." The importance of this can best be summed up in a quote from Wil Wheaton: "...and this is where we separate the Trekkies from the Trekkers, folks, because the hardcores know before they see or hear him that the Admiral is Dr. McCoy." A nostalgic Tear Jerker promptly ensues as DeForest Kelley proceeds to pass the torch from one series to the other.
- In the episode "Family", Picard takes shore leave on the French vineyard where he grew up, and before he leaves, his brother gives him a bottle of homemade wine. Later, in the episode "First Contact", before Picard offers a toast to the new friendship between an alien species, he explicitly mentions that he got the wine back home.
- In 1976, Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz was forced to resign because he made a racist joke (cleaned up here): "What blacks want is good sex, loose shoes and a warm place to go to the bathroom." Saturday Night Live, in the News portion of the program, led with this story, stating the joke as given above. At the end of the "news" broadcast, 10 or 15 minutes later, they announced that Muhammad Ali was considering retiring from boxing. According to reader, all Ali wanted was good sex, loose shoes and a warm place to go to the bathroom.
- In the season 1 episode of Scrubs, My Tuscaloosa Heart, Elliot does the "I Told You So Dance" when her suspicion that a song on a tape was sung by Dr. Kelso turns out to be true (though, Dr. Kelso denies it). Then, in the season 8 episode, Their Story II, we see it again when she's right about a decision.
- Whose Line Is It Anyway is excellent at this, and usually manages to slide in at least one inside joke at the end from a game earlier in the episode (After all, how can we forget Colin's famous Irish Drinking Song moments: "Meowwwwww" and "You can get poo from fud!"). The best example of this (a Brick Joke due to the time frame) started in the UK show where Greg and Colin did a piece where Greg was a Gremlin (Can be seen here, it's the first game played). Later, in the US show, Greg has to play a Gremlin again, and Colin makes the quiet comment "You should have never taken that shower" in reference to how Gremlin!Greg got wet in the first skit. (Actually, Colin's infamous Scottish accent keeps being called back to as well.)
- In an early episode of Red Dwarf, Rimmer tells Lister he can't escape death by hitting in the head and running. In the last episode, Rimmer escapes the Grim Reaper by kneeing it in the groin and running.
- The Wire
- In the first season, Bodie, Poot and D'Angelo Barksdale have a conversation about chess and the nature of expendable pawns, which concludes with Bodie saying that if you want to get ahead, you'll have to be "one smart-ass pawn". Three seasons later, when Bodie is virtually on his own and sits down for a conversation with Detective McNulty, he mentions that he feels like a pawn, and deliberately references the conversation from the first season.
- Early on in the series, McNulty is told by a fellow detective in the Major Crimes Unit that there will inevitably come a time when he will screw up on a case, and will be asked by the police brass where he doesn't want to work - the lesson being that he should the advice and say the wrong answer so he doesn't get buried on a terrible beat. At the end of that season, Commissioner Rawls approaches McNulty and asks the same question to him, word-for-word - and McNulty didn't heed the prior advice, because he ends up working on the Baltimore P.D.'s Marine Unit for the better part of the second season.
- In the series finale's montage, the clip of two boys throwing a rock into the lens of a police camera (seen in the opening sequence of all five seasons) is replayed again, as well as a clip being shown of an empty basement with a phone in it (which is the same office the Major Crimes Unit used throughout the first season).
- Coupling does this repeatedly, especially with reference to Jeff's theories of the universe (e.g., the Sock Gap). Another nice example - in the second episode of season 3 ("Faithless"), Jeff uses "hippo" as an example of an accidental word; in the season finale, Steve blurts out "Hippo!" when he learns Susan is pregnant.
- Monk has one of the longest reaching call backs. At the beginning of the pilot Monk is worried about leaving the oven on; (skip past 8 seasons or over a hundred episodes later) the last scene of the final episode has Monk make sure the oven is off before he leaves for a case.
- Some dialog is mirrored: when Jerry is horrified at having to wear the "puffy shirt" Kramer's girlfriend designed on a TV charity show, Kramer compliments him, saying "You look like a pirate!" Jerry wails "I don't wanna be a pirate!" In a later episode, Kramer is going to pull a sting operation to see if an associate is dealing drugs. He wears an ostentatious outfit including an eyepatch, and Jerry tells him how ridiculous he looks:
Jerry: You look like a pirate!
- In the same "puffy shirt" episode, there's a Call Back to the masturbation episode—George is a hand model, and it's revealed that the best male hand model before him lost his career by not being "master of his domain"; George says there's nothing to worry about with him: "I won a contest."
- In Young Blades, when the main character says that killing the guard who killed her father is not murder, she is told, "No; it's satisfaction." In the final episode, she kills the guard who killed her brother; his last words are, "You have your satisfaction."
- When aired on TV, the theme song for the show Dawsons Creek was "I Don't Wanna Wait" by Paula Cole. In the show within a show at the end of the series finale, a show based off the lives of the characters, one of the characters said, "I don't wanna wait for my life to be over what will it be?" Which is a Call Back to one of the lyrics often heard in the show's opening over the last six years.
- Supernatural's pilot episode ends with Sam and Dean standing at the trunk of the Impala. Sam throws in a gun, shuts the trunk, and says "We've got work to do." At the end of the second season finale, Dean delivers the same line, complete with the gun and the trunk, after killing the Yellow-Eyed Demon, who had opened a gateway to Hell and released a couple hundred other demons and spirits. Also doubles as And the Adventure Continues....
- In season 2, Dean sarcastically shuts down Sam's hope of angels existing, saying there's also a ton of lore on unicorns, and that he heard they walked on moonbeams and shot rainbows out of their asses. The unicorn in season 7 isn't seen walking on moonbeams, but there is indeed a rainbow streaming out of it's ass as it gallops away.
- The "fish-fry massacre" from The Walking Deads first-season episode "Vatos" (in which walkers attacked the camp when Rick, Daryl, T-Dog and Glenn went to get the bag of guns in Atlanta) continues to be a sticking point between the survivors, long after it happened. In the season 2 episode "Pretty Much Dead Already", Shane calls out Rick for not being around when the attack happened, and specifically mentions that Jim (one of the other survivors who was left behind after the attack) and Amy (Andrea's sister) died as a result of his inaction.
- Modern Family has used quite a few:
- The second season's finale, "The One That got Away", has an in-universe video montage, supposedly for Jay's birthday, showing all the characters either dressed or holding a prop in such a way as to indicate a particular episode from the season as they say they're too busy to say something.
- Two second season episodes got callbacks in the third season: the events of "Bixby's Back" (itself a Sequel Episode) were brought up by Clare's opponent (David Cross) during a political debate in "Little Bo Bleep", and the outcome of "Caught in the Act" is cited by Mitchell as a reason not to hold a party at a certain restaurant in "Leap Day".
- In an episode of the TV version of Hello Cheeky, the second part of the show begins by showing "edited highlights"—a string of Orphaned Punchlines and set-ups from the first part.
- An episode of Power Rangers RPM had characters walk by Jungle Karma Pizza, which was the headquarters of the team from Power Rangers Jungle Fury.
- Late Show With Stephen Colbert - lampshaded on March 6, 2019, when referring to a "smocking gun" - a misspelled word tweeted out by Donald Trump.
- In DMX's Damien III, Damien mentions "What happened to the right hand, Light Man?", referring to DMX's line in the first Damien, "For that nigga, I would bleed, give him my right hand, now that I think about it, yo, that's my man!"
- Britney Spears does this quite nicely in the song "Stronger", where she sings, "The loneliness ain't killing me no more," a call back to "My loneliness is killing me" from her debut single "Baby One More Time."
- Bon Jovi's song "It's My Life" (1999) mentions Tommy and Gina from Living on a Prayer (1986). Both songs are similar in terms of arrangement (with the talk-box and a climatic guitar solo) and they were both huge hits for the band.
- Although it could be far-fetched, Queen could count as well:
- In terms of videos, "One Vision" begins similarly to "Bohemian Rhapsody", which itself is based on the cover of their second album; in terms of lyrics, "These Are the Days of Our Lives" (1991) ends with "I still love you" -- "Love of My Life" (1975) had the lyric: "when I grow older, I will be there at your side to remind you how I still love you."
- And in "Lily of the Valley" on their third album Sheer Heart Attack, the lines: Messenger from seven seas has flown, To tell the king of Rhye he's lost his throne—a reference to the song "Seven Seas of Rhye" on their first and second albums.
- Beirut's song "Cherbourg" has the same chorus as the earlier song "Nantes," only sang in a different sense, suggesting his longing for the events portrayed in the former.
- It is pretty usual for music in Progressive Rock genres and concept albums to Call Back at least once. Often, a lot.
- If examples on the same album count, Nine Inch Nails's "The Downward Spiral" uses part of the same melody from "Closer" in a very different context.
- Frank Zappa's body of work is Made of this, and he called it "Conceptual Continuity". Lampshaded by name in "Stinkfoot". On Overnite Sensation, "Camarillo Brillo" Calls back to "The Toads of the Short Forest" on Weasels Ripped my Flesh.
- The Format
- "The First Single" included the line "I hate what I've become". "Dog Problems", the title track to their next album, calls back to it with "When I said 'I hate what I've become', I lied, I hated who I was".
- Nate Ruess, former lead singer of The Format and current lead singer of fun. is arguably the callback king of modern music:
- In addition to the callback in "Dog Problems", Ruess calls back to "The First Single" (which included the line "let's cause a scene...") in fun.'s "Take Your Time (Coming Home)", referring to the breakup of The Format as "I'm through with causing a scene."
- In several fun. songs ("Take Your Time (Coming Home)", "Some Nights" and "Why Am I The One?") "the desert" and "the sun" are used to refer to Arizona and California, respectively. This is a callback to The Format's "On Your Porch".
- A callback to two songs from fun.'s debut album is present in the song "Stars", with the line "Some nights I rule the world with "Barlights" and "Pretty Girls"." The titles are even in quotations in the lyrics, so it's a pretty obvious reference. It's also probably not a coincidence that the debut had a song called "I Want To Be The One", while Some Nights had "Why Am I The One?".
- The refrain of Shiny Toy Guns' "You are the One" reprises the lyrics of Jeremy Dawson and Chad Petree's old trance production "Neo (The One)" under the name Slyder, featured in Grand Theft Auto III.
- Enter Shikari
- The song "Solidarity" of their second album Common Dreads ends with a chorus singing "and still we will be here / standing like statues", a phrase which is repeated multiple times during their debut album, Take To The Skies.
- "Havok A", also from Common Dreads, makes reference to their song Acid Nation, B-side to Jonny Sniper (also from TTTS).
- In Mariah Carey's "Fantasy", which Sampled Up Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love", she interpolates the first verse of the original song for the bridge.
- Cascada's cover of Nik Kershaw's "Wouldn't It Be Good" reprises the verse melody of "Everytime We Touch". Also, "Runaway" is melodically a Call Back to "Bad Boy", which in turn was a Suspiciously Similar Song version of a Groove Coverage song also titled "Runaway".
- Two versions of Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari, the Morning Musume original and one of the Elder Club versions, contain references to the song Koi no Dance Site, also by Morning Musume during the part sung about or by Yaguchi Mari.
- The Beatles
- They liked this Trope a lot. "I Am The Walrus" references "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", and "Glass Onion" references "Strawberry Fields", "I Am The Walrus", "The Fool on the Hill", and "Lady Madonna".
- Later, on the "Abbey Road Medley", certain parts of "You Never Give Me Your Money" resemble the "Here Comes the Sun" melody, and "Carry that Weight" has a verse straight out of "You Never Give Me Your Money".
- And directly inspired by "Glass Onion", Veruca Salt's "Volcano Girls" references their first hit "Seether":
Well here's another clue if you please,
- Future Perfect's "Solitary Star" refers back to "Queen of the Dance Floor", a previous song on the same album with the lines "You wanted your life to be queen of the dance floor, now all you want is the life from before", and "diamonds and bling that are losing their gleam".
- Dropkick Murphys have a couple on the title track to Going Out In Style. The narrator mentions apologizing to Slugger and the Flannigans, presumably Slugger O'Toole (mentioned later in the album's cover of "The Irish Rover"), and Flannigans presumably being the hosts of "Flannigan's Ball" on their earlier album, The Meanest of Times. The Flannigans one is particularly evocative, as the second half of "Flannigan's Ball" details the general havoc and destruction after a few too many people have a few too many drinks at the titular party.
- The title of Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" recalls the paper cityscape being set on fire by pyrotechnics in the video to "Rolling in the Deep".
- Devin Townsend loves this so much fans actually whipped up a chart with about every Call Back they could think of. And it's still missing a few.
- Sound Horizon songs often feature Call Backs to previous songs and albums, usually cued as such by the use of a Recurring Riff or line.
- Mindless Self Indulgence references an old song Panty Shot in their later song I Hate Jimmy Page"
"Who like that song five year-old panty shot / Yeah, yeah, that could be a real big record / Cause it got the bump with the molestation"
- Though the Gaelic Storm song "Don't Let the Truth Get in the Way (of a Good Story)" is a long string of completely implausible fish tales, there's a noticeable Beat after the line "I was in some blockbuster movie and I didn't make a dime."
- Done a couple times in FoxTrot, such as during the Grinch arc when Jason looks through Andy's wallet and suggests cleaning out all the old Titanic ticket stubs, referring to a previous arc in which she became obsessed with Titanic and saw it dozens of times.
- Melina Perez faced Michelle McCool at Night of Champions 2009 and Michelle dropkicked her off the apron while she was doing the splits as part of her entrance. They faced each other again at the next Night of Champions event and Michelle tried to do the same thing again. This time however, Melina was ready for her and lifted herself out of the way.
- When Trish Stratus guest hosted Raw she was involved in an awkward backstage segment with Chris Jericho where he mentioned their history together and led to Stratus having a return match against him that night.
- In Vickie Guerrero's match at Wrestle Mania 26 she went to the top rope and performed a Frog Splash as a tribute to her late husband Eddie Guerrero (she had been introduced on WWE TV during Eddie's feud with Rey Mysterio, Jr.) and danced like he used to in his victory poses.
- Santino Marella started a romance angle with WWE diva Tamina which was quite similar to his pairing with Beth Phoenix. On a Christmas episode of Smackdown Santino cornered Beth under the mistletoe and suggested they kiss for old time's sake. She kissed his tag team partner Vladimir Kozlov instead.
- The basis for Matt Hardy's heel turn after he was drafted to Raw in 2003 was him turning on Lita whom he had been in a relationship with about a year ago before her neck injury.
Recorded and Stand-up Comedy
- In general, one of the marks of a good stand-up comedian is a good understanding of how to use a Call Back well. It's a great way of keeping a show buzzing.
- Stewart Lee does this all the time, especially in '41st Best Stand-Up Ever'. He also lampshades it after about 25 mins. (Remember that? From the beginning of the show?)
- Bill Bailey ends his current[when?] tour with a short film (accompanied only by swelling, melancholy piano music, no less) that references several jokes made over the course of the evening, showing things such as him standing next to a potted plant, looking suspiciously at joggers, eating Revels with a bucket over his head and him shouting at traffic with a couple of Tesco bags in hand. It Makes Sense in Context. The same show sometimes (depending on venue) a final encore after the standard two. Previously, in the first half, he plays the opening of La Bamba and makes the audience sing along and trail off, not knowing the specific words. This last encore sees him return and force the audience to learn the words, with displayed lyrics. Just to hammer it home, he plays it four times at increasingly ridiculous speeds.
- One example comes from Ron White. In the middle of his performance, he makes a joke about his dog Sluggo, who he needs to feed medication to by sticking it in a piece of cheese. At the very end of said performance, he was talking about trying to give Midol to his wife while she's PMSing. He ends the joke (and the performance) by saying he stuck the Midol in a piece of cheese. In You Can't Fix Stupid, he even references a joke that was made in a previous special. In the previous special, he made a joke about how Dabeers's slogan "Render her speechless" was just code for "Yeah, that'll shut her up!". In Stupid, he talks about trying to shut up his wife, saying that he was "all out of diamonds".
- In the Red Neck Comedy Show, Bill Engvall talks about boarding his dog while they're on vacation. At the kennel, they ask him what type of water the dog would like. He replies that the dog eats his own turds, the type of water probably doesn't matter to him. He also talks about taking the dog to the vet, where the vet gives him medicine to make the dog stop eating his own turds. How does it work? It makes the turds taste bad. During the Ron White portion, Ron talks about how he has dozens of people who work for him, but he is the one who goes outside to pick up the turds his dog had dropped, and pondered rearranging his staff so he wouldn't have to do that anymore. White then mentions that he asked Bill to bring his dog over, but Bill said, "No, he always comes home full."
- Australian comedian Josh Thomas does this several times during his show Surprise!, the most notable of which is a story, early in the routine, about how living with his first boyfriend; shortly after they moved in together, they decided to shower together, which ended badly when Josh's boyfriend began urinating, because he forgot Josh was there. This is referenced in the final lines of the show:
Josh: I told him, "one of my favourite things about you is that you've never vomited on me."... and he said, "Yeah, but I did kind of pee on you once."
- Gabriel Iglesias relates a story about a time he got pulled over with a bunch of his friends in the car. Their antics are hilarious to the officer, who lets them go with a warning, Because they made him laugh.
Officer: The only thing that beats this is the time a buddy of mine pulled over a fat guy who gave him donuts.
- Geist: The Sin Eaters has an "Fetter" Memento (a magic item made by binding a ghost to its own anchor) called the Thirty-Thirty. This is a rifle once owned by a man named Donnie Pritchard, who once tried to sacrifice several people to a ghost town he was convinced was haunted by the ghost of its past. (Pritchard's captives overpowered him and beat him to death with the rifle.) Donnie Pritchard was a character in the New World of Darkness book Ghost Stories, in the story "Dust to Dust", about a literal ghost town.
- Roy Cohn's first line in Angels in America ("I wish I was an octopus, a fucking octopus") is referenced in his final line before dying.
- The Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone mentions at the very beginning that he is feeling "blue." At the end of the show, he is emotionally drained, and he mentions that it's not a perfect show, but it gives you a tune to hum "for when you're feeling blue."
- Alice: Madness Returns is full of Call Backs to American McGee's Alice - odd lines from various characters, a few riddles, and some statues and depictions. If you haven't played the first game, they won't bother you, but if you have, they're beautiful familiarity.
- Marathon Infinity: Blood Tides of L'howon
- The first level has a half-open door that leads to the end of the level, a small shaft that one must drop down, a mysterious locked door behind the player, an alien ship out the window, compilers operating terminals, a hidden stash of weapons through a door textured like a wall which is near ranged Fighters, and overall darkness and eerie-ness. All of these are also present in the first level of the first game. The whole thing is pretty creepy.
- And then there's the Vidmaster Challenge levels, which are the hardest level (at least in Bungie's opinion) from each game, with added enemies that you never see anywhere else in the game, such as red vacuum suit-clad Simulacrums and Super-Hunters for double the fun!
- Towards the end of the first Mega Man Star Force game, after the Z-wave incident at AMAKEN, Tom Dubius aka Cygnus Wing mentions the incident that involved him near the beginning of the game if you talk to him.
- And in Mega Man Battle Network 6: Cybeast Gregar, the titular Eldritch Abomination Final Boss, has a completely similar origin to Gospel, the Final Boss of Battle Network 2.
- Used in the Final Battle of Mega Man Zero 3: Omega's final form uses moves from the boss fights with Zero in X2 and X5.
- Mega Man X 5 has the return of one of the Castle Bosses from X1, complete with a remixed version of the BGM for it. It also has a recreation of Quick Man's stage from Mega Man 2.
- The Yellow Devil from the first Mega Man game reappears as a boss in numerous other forms and concepts in the Classic, X, and Zero series.
- 9 ends with Mega pointing out all of Dr. Wily's past failures with a holographic slide show in which Dr. Wily is shown to be kneeling for forgiveness over and over and over again.
- One of Ryu's win quotes in Capcom Vs SNK Millenium Fight 2000 is "What strength! I will remember there are guys like you all over the world!" Whenever you beat an opponent in the original Street Fighter, they gave you that line (but with "But remember" instead of "I will").
- Metal Gear
- Big Boss's first lines in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots are a word-for-word Call Back to a similar scene in Metal Gear.
- The series is full of them, really. For example, the members of the Beauty and the Beast Unit act as Call Backs to previous bosses in the series. Another example; Laughing Octopus takes her name from Decoy Octopus from the first Metal Gear Solid, wields a P-90 machine gun and prehensile tentacles just like Solidus Snake in MGS2, and bears the emotion of the Joy, the codename of one boss from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Raging Raven takes her name from Vulcan Raven, wields the weapons of Fatman, and has the emotion of The Fury. Crying Wolf's name comes from Sniper Wolf, she wields Fortune's rail-gun, and has the emotion of The Sorrow, and she is fought in the exact same snowfield at Shadow Moses as Sniper Wolf and uses similar tactics. Screaming Mantis comes from Psycho Mantis, she uses Vamp's knives, and she has the emotion of The Fear, as well as using similar tactics to Psycho Mantis.
- In the opening sequence of The World Ends With You, we see Beat skateboarding away from a Noise while carrying Rhyme. The same occurs just before the end boss fight in a Big Damn Heroes moment, only with Shiki instead of Rhyme.
- In Dragon Age II, assuming Leliana and the Warden had a threesome with Isabela in the first game, Leliana reacts with embarrassment to meeting Isabela again, prompting Varric to snark "Is there anyone in the Free Marches you haven't slept with?"
- Kingdom Hearts
- In Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2, the fight with Xion is full of these. The first stage is Sora's Valor Form with the Sonic Blade and Slide Dash attacks. The second stage is Wisdom Form with Ragnarok and Vortex. The third is Master Form with Ars Arcanum, Vortex, and Kurt Zisa's swords. The fourth stage is Final Form, with Trinity Limit, Vortex, Thundaga, and Graviga. All four forms use Sora's original three hit combo.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, all of Genie's Limit attacks except Infinity are named after Sora's MP-consuming special attacks from the original Kingdom Hearts: Strike, Sonic, and Arcana.
- Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story makes reference to Bowser's Castle's ability to fly from Paper Mario.
- The Phantasy Star series often makes references to things that happened in the previous games - the exception is Phantasy Star III, which appears to have almost nothing to do with the rest of the series until the end, and has only one reference in an optional dungeon in the fourth game.
- One of the NOD missions in Command & Conquer: Tiberium Sun features your armies uncovering an old NOD base that's been left over from the first game. When you reach it, you'll find that the buildings look exactly the same as the structure design from Tiberium Dawn.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Ogon no Kaze (based on the fifth series of the Manga) has you playing as Polnareff at one point. The music is a fully orchestrated version of... his music from the arcade fighting game based on the third series.
- StarCraft II in a fairly literal way: a major Plot Point is the discovery of a recording of some of the mission briefings from the first game (specifically New Gettysburg and a crucial line from The Hammer Falls).
- Duke Nukem Forever: You can sign "Why I'm So Great," Duke's autobiography first mentioned in Duke Nukem II.
- One of the last levels of Ninja Gaiden (the Xbox360 / Play Station 3 game) is a recreation of the first level from the previous Xbox/ Play Station 3 Ninja Gaiden.
- Chrono Cross features several Call Backs to Chrono Trigger, in particular the Dead Sea area and a portion of the game in which the player character is transported to Lucca's house.
- T Zelda series has had an increasingly large number in recent entries.
- In particular, The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess feature areas that are clearly from The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, hundreds of years later.
- Remember that Fishing Rod you got in the beginning of The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess? It can be used to confuse Ganon in the battle against him.
- At the beginning of Half-Life 2 Barney mentions the beer he owes Gordon Freeman referencing the first Half-Life game.
- Upon Augustus "Cole Train" Cole's introduction in Gears of War, Marcus mentions that Dom still owes him $20 from a bet on a game Cole played in. At the beginning of Gears of War 3, the $20 is laying on Marcus' desk, with a note from Dom apologizing for it being late. Worth noting is that the only government capable of honoring the bill's worth has collapsed in the meantime.
- In the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, there are several:
- The long-term call back related to Price's handgun. In MW1, the gun is slid over to Soap by Price in order to finally kill Big Bad Imran Zakhaev. Soap keeps the gun, and in the second game, gives it back to Price when they meet again at the Russian gulag, with Soap remarking, "This belongs to you, sir.". In the third game, Price "gives" the gun back by placing it on Soap's body after he's died, before having to escape.
- In the third game, Price places a call into the SAS in order to get clearance to contact the U.S. Delta Force unit led by Sandman. The operative who gives the clearance is only referred to as "Mac", and Price references the person "owing me for Pripyat". This is a reference to "One Shot, One Kill" from the first game - the operative is none other than (the retired) Captain MacMillan.
- "Contingency" from MW2 is one long reference to "All Ghillied Up", with Price making several remarks referencing that mission, and Soap commenting that he "hates dogs".
- The second game's final level is one huge homage to the first game's final level. Both have "game" in the title ("Game Over" and "Endgame"), both involve a vehicular chase (in the first, the player is being chased in a truck; in the second, the player is doing the chasing in a boat); both involve said vehicle being destroyed and the player (Soap in both levels) being wounded, and then even more badly injured; and both involve Soap desperately using an emergency weapon (pistol in the first, knife in the second) to kill the Big Bad before he kills Price. In addition, all three games have a vehicle crashing just before the final confrontation (a truck, a Zodiac and a helicopter, in that order) and the second and third games have a character being saved just before they're shot (Price saving Soap in the second game, Yuri saving Price in the third).
- The mid-boss in Child of Eden's fourth stage is a pair of planetary bodies that evolve into running men, like the fourth boss of Rez, its spiritual predecessor.
- Mass Effect: My name is Garrus Vakarian and this is now my favorite spot on the citadel!
- Quake has the Well of Wishes in the Crypt of Decay, where you find the Dopefish from Commander Keen.
- Dark Souls is littered with CallBacks / MythologyGags to the game's spiritual precursor, Demon's Souls.
- Frequently used between Narcissu and its Prequel, Narcissu ~ side 2nd
- Setsumi's last words from the original game are identical to the last thing Himeko said to Setsumi in Side 2nd
- Atou's last question for Setsumi in the original  is echoed in Setsumi's narration towards the end of side 2nd
- There are several phrases that reoccur in the narration of Side 2nd
- Happens a lot in the Ace Attorney series, particularly Investigations.
- One of the more serious ones is the dream Phoenix has during 2-4, which is exactly the same as the one he had at the beginning of 2-1, but it makes much more sense in the context of Phoenix having to defend an obviously guilty man to rescue Maya.
- Practically every good joke in Red vs. Blue eventually gets a Call Back.
- The longest gap between joke and Call Back - which would probably be a Brick Joke if not for the Memetic Mutation of the quote—was Simmons' observation in the first episode that "Even if we pull out today, and they come and take our base, they would have two bases in the middle of a box canyon. Whoopdee-fucking-doo." In episode ninety-five, when the Blues take over the Red Base:
Church: I guess we have... two bases in the middle of a box canyon now.
- In this strip of Holiday Wars, Labor Day makes a reference to some sort event that happened ten years ago in Venice. It's the first time in the webcomic that really hints that there is a large history between all the main characters.
- Concerned has a lot of these. In one strip Frohman find out he can use the force (that's what he said, not me) to pick stuff up. For most of the rest of the comic, whenever he holds something it floats in front of him.
- Eight Bit Theater
- Sluggy Freelance: Sept 26 1997 and Sept 15 2011, 4738 days later Bun-bun and Zoe are in the same spot they first met with the same dialog. Also a rare Pet the Dog moment for Bun-bun
- El Goonish Shive
- The Order of the Stick
- At one point, Belkar suggests selling a captured female antagonist into slavery because he "knows a guy who knows a guy". Several plot-arcs later, the party runs into said guy-his-guy-knew, Buggy Lou, as he's out catching slaves in the desert.
- V's raven familiar fails to recognize her/him when s/he is transformed into a lizard. 536 strips later, he learns of his mistake.
- It's Walky! celebrated its tenth anniversary (and the birth of a new character) with a Call Back to its first two strips.
- Girl Genius:
- Homestuck is absolutely loaded with Call Backs, from the phrasing of words to reused art panels.
- Andrew Hussie discusses it here. [dead link]
- According to Doc Scratch, Call Backs are a rule of Paradox Space.
- And uu hates the frequent Call Backs and gets pissed off when Dirk notices that he's repeating phrases that other characters have used, which is a sort of meta-commentary on readers who find this practice irritating.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl, This most definitely shows Justin remembers David.
- A Wapsi Square strip from December 2009 featured a reference to the dialogue in the very first strip back in 2001.
- In Five Color Control, Vlad and Dave's match in the Pro Tour intentionally mirrors their earlier games from earlier comics.
- In General Protection Fault, after Trent sues Fred for libel, Fooker proposes breaking into his house again, like they did to clear Trudy's name. Nick, however, refuses and points out that it comes off in a new light now that they know he's a secret agent. The "To Thine Own Self" arc is based around a universe in which an alternate universe's Nick and Ki enacted a scheme their prime counterparts dreamed about in a brief arc in the early comic and took over the world.
- The most recent, and furthest one in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: The McNinja Burger is back! Complete with Flat What.
- This strip of Minus mentions several previous one-off gags.
- Bob and George: Overlooking all the Running Gags, in an early strip Bob agrees to a suicidal plan with the phrase "Sure, why not, I was tired of living anyway." Fast-forward several years, and Alternate Mega Man and Bass cheerfully use the exact same justification for an equally suicidal plan. (Naturally, this being Bob and George, certain death...isn't as certain as you'd expect.)
- Gunnerkrigg Court. Remember that hair clip? Eventually it returned.
- Schlock Mercenary
- History of Ennesby as the AI formerly known as boy band "New Sync Boys" (hence the name) — a dozen books later we discover "their" former fangirl, after which it was used as a plot point. But in-jokes and minor references pop up even after that: a straightforward mention with backup chorus, naming his new ship "Neosynchronicity", being considered for mixing a song.
- Para Ventura (who was on a receiving end of a somewhat misguided Anti-Mutiny once) got assigned to assist Vaal (who had to kill some friends and colleagues… per suggestion from one of them, issued immediately before being brain-hacked, and Chelle was the first to find him in that room). And everyone except Schlock is in a rather dark mood (on account of being stuck deep behind the enemy lines without reinforcements before it's over).
Chelle: Just don't mention what became of your last assistants.
- In The Gamers Alliance, various story arcs feature quite a few Call Backs to previous storylines. For example, Leon recognizes the lich Drishnek whom he met several years earlier during another plot, and Ax references Refan's attempted rape during their second encounter.
- Lots in Echo Chamber, the TV Tropes original webshow.
- In Episode 4, Tom tells Dana that all he has to offer her to eat is rice, but she can "add salt" if she's "feeling adventurous". Then, in Episode 6, Tom is depicted making rice. Dana has a plate in front of her, but she conspicuously does not help herself to any.
- The eighth episode's Girl of the Week, Porn Girl, first appeared briefly in Terrible Interviewees Montage, an episode which also set up the character of Shannon, who had her day in the limelight in Episode 6.
- A literal call back in Episode 5, which features a Moment Killer phone call. Episode 6 implies that this phone call was from Shannon.
- Lonelygirl15 features multiple Call Backs to earlier points in the series, particularly towards the end of the third season, where details such as a broken clock seen in the background of a season 1 video suddenly became relevant to the Plot.
- I Am Not Infected has Amanda repeating the phrase "I can't hear you through the door" to Hartley, who had originally told this to Handcuff Guy. Who could hear him perfectly.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd used one in his review of Winter Games for the NES. When complaining about the unresponsiveness of the controls during the figure skating segment, he states "I wonder who programmed this...maybe it was Fred Fuchs...". Fuchs is the name of one of the producers of the film version of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and whom the Nerd referenced in a review of that game after seeing his name in the credits.
- Zero Punctuation: Yahtzee's review of the iPhone game Fruit Ninja, whose developers are based in the same city as he is, featured a call-back to his subtle recommendation of Gametraders Robina in his Brawl review.
- The Nostalgia Chick's "NChick Labs" segment is full of these, referencing the Makeover Fairy, the scientists, Lord MacGuffin (and the confusion about MacGuffins) and rapping about rape.
- Two Best Friends Play has a couple of Call Backs. Usually they are in the form of Pat making Matt play something because Matt made Pat play something earlier.
- Whenever something is repeated in Regular Ordinary Swedish Meal Time, the last videos where they appeared are put on top of the current one.
- Tobuscus followed up his immensely popular Literal Trailer of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood with one for Assassin's Creed: Revelations. At the end, he reuses two lines ("Nod at the bird and PEOPLE DIE / Everywhere PEOPLE DIE.") in an Ironic Echo fashion, transitioning from the awesome action scene in the first trailer to Ezio's poignant, apparently hopeless plight in the second.
- Cheap Arse Film Review has one in the Christmas Special:
Ghost: Who makes important life decisions while wearing an animal costume?
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- There's a fun little Call Back involving turtleducks: In a Flash Back Zuko shows his mother "How Azula feeds turtleducks" by throwing a loaf at them. In the present, while Zuko is feeding the turtleducks they suddenly scatter... Because Azula shows up.
- Also, in "The Western Air Temple", the Gaang reminds Zuko and each other of all the bad things he did to them in the first season. And they continue to reference them throughout the rest of the season.
- The second season finale of Transformers: Beast Wars is a huge Call Back to the original Transformers Generation 1 series, the consequences of which could shake the foundations of time itself.
- Beast Machines continued the Call Backs with Vector Sigma, its Key, the Plasma Energy Chamber, and the Hate Plague.
- In the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" two-parter on The Simpsons, Smithers' throwaway comment in part one about never missing a particular TV show ended up providing his alibi for not having shot Mr. Burns in part two. Sideshow Mel lampshades this line, which is unfortunately [dead link] Edited for Syndication.
- Gargoyles is juicy with them.
- When Demona's plan to betray the humans of her castle so that the gargoyles would have it to themselves went wrong and resulted in the deaths of most of her clan and the rest being frozen as stone for good, she says "What have I... what have they done?!!" At the very end of the show, John, a human hunting gargoyles, accidentally shoots his brother while attempting to shoot Goliath, and says the exact same words.
- "Hunter's Moon" is full of Call Backs to previous episodes, especially in "Awakening" and "City of Stone." For example, in the very beginning of "Awakening", Elisa is investigating the battle on top of the Eyrie Building and comes across a stone with claw marks in it, to which she muses, "What could be strong enough to leave claw marks in solid stone?" Then, in "Hunter's Moon," Elisa and her partner are investigating a crime scene in which a gargoyle tore a steel door off of its hinges, and Elisa's partner asked "What could be strong enough to leave claw marks in solid steel?"
- In "The Edge" Owen mentions a meeting with an Emir to Xanatos. Later, in "Grief" the Emir is actually a character.
- Goliath occasionally mentions "needing a detective."
- Family Guy
- An episode has Cleveland complaining about shows that cut away from the main story for some bullcrap. Cut to Hitler on a unicycle, juggling fish. Later on in the episode:"It's the right thing to do, like killing Hitler." The scene is revisited and Peter does just that: "See? We had a plan for that all along."
- Yet another good example is on the episode "The Fat Guy Strangler", where Brian throws a rock at Peter, saying, "That's for rolling up the windows when I tried to jump in to the The General Lee!", a reference the episode, "To Love and Die in Dixie".
- Another example is when Peter becomes a redneck he starts chewing tobacco. Brian tells him to spit in a cup. Later Stewie comes along and takes the cup and is about to drink it. Brian starts to warn him, but flashes back to the episode "Patriot Games" (where Stewie horribly beat Brian for not immediately paying a gambling debt) and changes his mind, letting Stewie drink it.
- Likewise, Peter's attempt to integrate into Southern "good old boy" culture is derailed when he reveals that he is legally retarded, which was a major plot point in a previous episode.
- Brian's novel is a particularly long-running example. He mentioned writing one in the early seasons; after the show was revived, there was a brief Running Gag of Stewie mocking him for not having gotten any work done in three years. Later we hear excerpts from the novel, which the family mocks for being a Cliché Storm; later still it's finally published and is a total flop, owing to being a cheap ripoff of the Iron Eagle series. The final twist of the knife comes when Brian learns that the only people who enjoy his book are mentally retarded.
- "Tales of a Third Grade Nothing" in which Peter blows up a Children's hospital and ends up losing his promotion.
- Season 9 episode "Brian writes a Bestseller": Stewie says "At least it's not raining" and get's stabbed by a random guy. One Season later in episode "Stewie goes for a Drive" he says "At least I'm not getting stabbed by some random guy on the street". It starts raining and he says "See? It's the exact opposite." He than gets stabbed anyway.
- There are a few call backs in Danny Phantom, but one of the most blatant is in "Memory Blanks" when Danny lists events that happened in previous episodes to use against Sam during a bitter argument.
- As Told by Ginger was actually well known for this. In every single episode, except the first, they make some form of reference to a previous episode, and everything is kept in continuity.
- The Venture Brothers likes to do this. When 21 and 24 are taunting 1 for his Mauve Shirt status, 21 mentions a character called Speedy. Speedy was a Red Shirt from the second episode.
- An episode of SpongeBob SquarePants had Man Ray use role-playing to become good. SpongeBob first tries to teach him good by giving back someone a wallet they dropped. Man Ray does this to Patrick, but is so dumb he doesn't even think it's his wallet despite his ID being in it. SpongeBob's second lesson is for Man Ray to help someone carry a heavy package. Patrick keeps dropping the heavy package on Man Ray's foot. He gets furious and asks what is even in the box to which Patrick replies, "My wallets". That one's more of a Brick Joke, really.
- In the second episode of Exo Squad, police officer and future Resistance leader Sean Napier saves Phaeton from an assassination attempt. Later on he refuses to shake Phaeton's hand because "Saving his life was my job. That doesn't mean I've forgotten what you Sapes did fifty years ago." Phaeton doesn't take it very well. In the final episode, Napier, who has become a politician since the end of the war, is giving a speech about the need for reconciliation and cooperation to some Neosapien POWs. One of them pulls a gun and tries to kill him, but he is saved by General Shiva. When Napier tries to shake Shiva's hand, he refuses, explaining that "the past cannot be forgotten". But, he adds, if Napier meant what he said before, "someday, I will be glad I saved your life."
- Justice League
- That kryptonite Batman carries around? That came into play when fighting Amazo? He got it twenty episodes earlier, in "Injustice for All", when fighting Luthor, who, at the time, was armed with kryptonite. Green Lantern took it from Luthor with his ring, but Batman grabbed it from midair and put it in his utility belt, where it stayed for almost a full season.
- It gets better. Amazo blasts the kryptonite into splinters, leaving only a single useful piece. This piece is the one Bruce gives to Terry McGinnis in the Batman Beyond two-parter "The Call". Since Batman Beyond was made before Justice League, in reality it's a Call Forward.
- Futurama is made of this.
- "Ask" is pronounced "aks" from the moment it's mentioned that "ask" is an archaic pronunciation (like "Christmas" instead of "Xmas"), for the rest of the series.
- In "Neutopia", a Sufficiently Advanced Alien inverts the main cast's genders. Fem!Bender is Coilette, the identity he adopted when he got a sex change in the episode "Bend Her".
- The plot of Fry being his own grandfather as a result of "Doing the nasty in the past-y," later becomes an explicit plot point.
- Clerks the Animated Series repeatedly references a scene from the first episode where Dante and Randall appear to be climbing a building, only to pull back and reveal that they're simply doing a Bat-Climb.
- In one episode of Pinky and The Brain they try to enter a cabal of World Leaders that secretly rules the world, so they resume their identities of the President (Brain) and the Minister of Finances (Pinky) of Brainania, a fictional country they created in one of their previous attempts at taking over the world.
- Frisky Dingo loves these. It's packed with Call Backs and recurring jokes, but special mention should go to one involving Steven Seagal, The Taliban, and a Penguin.
- Total Drama World Tour
- In the Yukon episode, Tyler complains about being ignored by everyone, mentioning that Lindsay even called him "Noah" earlier. The next episode opens up with Team CIRRRRH not noticing Noah was missing all night, to which an injured Noah snaps, "Who am I, Tyler?"
- Also in the Yukon, Chris says that he ordered jackets for the contestants to keep them from freezing in the icy climate, but then adds that they wouldn't arrive for a few weeks. Several weeks/episodes later, the contestants arrive in snowy Sweden, and Heather asks Chris if the jackets had arrived yet. They hadn't.
- Amusingly blatant example in The Garfield Show. When asked why he's so concerned about a bluebird, Garfield flat-out says "Don't you remember the episode last season when I rescued the baby bluebirds?"
- In The Problem Solverz episode "Magic Clock", the Eternitron from "Time Twister" can be seen in the background of the clock museum. Also, Fauxboro, from the previous episode, is the setting for Roba and Katrina's wedding.
- American Dad, of all shows, has a surprising amount of call backs. Unlike other animated comedies, the writers seem to be putting a surprising amount of effort into keeping continuity.
- One episode shows Stan sending a realtor/hand model to Guantanamo Bay. When she borrows another inmate's napkin, they say they will cut off her "beautiful hands". Later episodes show her with a hook for a hand, and at one point was even introduced as a "former hand model".
- Another episode features a subplot involving a cat that constantly attacks Steve. The end of a later episode shows the cat using a gun to kill Steve's clone.
- In season one, Stan sends a bitter, wigless woman to the CIA and claims she is the alien they were looking for. Five seasons later, Stan and Roger go to Area 51, where the old woman can be seen in a tube full of green goo in the background.
- An early episode has Francine mentioning George Clooney as her "one free kill". A later episode reveals that she really hates him for stealing her chance at fame, and she spends the entire episode trying to make him suffer by breaking his heart.
- In season one, Stan casually mentions having a half-brother. Guess which member of his family we meet much later on?
- In Teen Titans "Aftershock: Part 1", two mentions are made of the "Apprentice" episodes from Season 1 (not surprisingly, given the parallels between the two episodes).
- In an early episode of The Spectacular Spider-Man, Spidey saves a geeky guy and a hot girl and in his rush webs them up together and hollars "You can thank me later!" to the guy who is now making eyes at the girl. Later in the latter part of the second season, the geeky guy is proposing to her.
- Archer: a major source of humour is the Call Back. Carrying over from Adam Reed's previous project Frisky Dingo, as well as establishing/ borrowing a series of phrases from Arrested Development, Reed develops a substantial repertoire into Archer's comedic architecture.
- In part 2 of the 5-part, "Super DuckTales (1987)" story on DuckTales (1987), when Fenton first accidentally gets the Gizmo Duck suit, he shouts out "I'm being canned like a tuna!" In a much later episode, "A Case of Mistaken Secret Identity," when Launchpad is trapped in the Gizmo Duck suit, he describes himself as "feeling like a canned tuna." Coincidence? I think not!
- The Powerpuff Girls episode "Reeking Havoc:" Buttercup asks Blossom where she got a giant match to battle a giant fart monster.
Blossom: Same place I got the giant jar from, silly. Season one, episode two...remember?
- Rick and Morty: In Season 2 Episode 2 ("Mortynight Run"), a few scenes later after playing "Roy", Morty crashes the craft into K. Michael. In a call back to a customer asking 'Roy' about a particular type of carpet, Morty emerges from the craft, confusedly saying:
Morty: We are out of off-white Persian.
- Smocking Gun callback by Stephen Colbert youtube.com
- "Do you want me to stop you, this time? Or do you want me to give you a push off?"