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"What's that number again?"'

—(Stock phrase of any radio commercial)

Sort of like how executives think viewers are stupid, they also think you have the memory of a goldfish, which, according to common legend, lasts about three seconds.[1] Because remembering what happens over the course of a whole thirty minutes or, god forbid, an hour, is too difficult for your general media consumer, there is a handy little device called a Flash Back that can be used to rewind, oh, five minutes or so to say, "Hey! This just happened, moron!" [2] It may also come from an ancient survey that stated that Americans change the channel 20 times every minute on average.

Executives think viewers are stupid, and they also think you have the memory of a goldfish, which lasts about three seconds. Sometimes a necessity in video game plots, due to the possibility of the player saving the game, taking a break of, say, two or three months, and then coming back, having forgotten important plot points during that time. In this case, the flashbacks will only seem insulting to the player's intelligence during a non-stop play, in which case they only have themselves to blame. Some recent games try to avert this by putting plot summaries or scenes that otherwise show what has happened up to that point in the Loading Screen. Others have a character keep a diary which the player can read to remind themselves of the plot so far.

This may also be a justification depending on the format. Sometimes, book series will Call Back to past events from the previous books when they were intended to be relatively standalone, or in case the viewer read the previous book, then went on to the next one a little while later. TV shows, for example, are often made around commercial breaks, so when you view it on DVD or on a channel that does not use commercials (such as the BBC) it'll seem odd

Often Viewers Are Goldfish is an excuse for lots of Padding and Stock Footage, to reduce production costs.

Compare Fleeting Demographic Rule, where executives believe that they can recycle whole plots due to this short memory, or Ad Nauseam, where it's presumed viewers will not recall ads they saw in the same commercial break. Also compare Recap Episode, where an entire episode functions as this for a series.

By the way, this trope exists because executives think viewers are stupid. They also think you have the memory of a goldfish which lasts about three seconds. Only it really doesn't, as proved by the MythBusters.

Examples of Viewers Are Goldfish include:


  • There exists a commercial for Nerf guns in which a kids "squad" is gunned down by a lone gunman. Cue action shots of the survivor getting the cool, new Nerf gun and taking out half a dozen kids to get revenge, and as our protagonist finds the one responsible, the commercial FLASHES BACK to the beginning of the THIRTY SECOND COMMERCIAL to remind you why he wanted revenge in the first place.
    • Possibly justified, as the description for the commercial makes it sound like a parody of overblown action movies.
  • Any of those commercials that include the phrase "act now and you'll also receive [insert product here], absolutely free!" They inevitably list all of the great bargain items you'll be getting if you act now about five times before the commercial ends.
  • Radio commercials that repeat phone numbers as many as four times in a row. This might have been effective in the old days, but it's almost become a Discredited Trope, because now people mostly listen to the radio in situations where they can't write a number down (like driving), and the commercials that use it are always for really shady-sounding businesses (get-rich-quick schemes, predatory lenders). On the other hand, repeating the phone number means the listener is more likely to memorize it. Whether they like it or not.
    • And then not use that product simply out of spite. Or is that just me?
  • Head On, apply directly to the forehead. Head On, apply directly to the forehead. Head On, apply directly to the forehead.

Anime and Manga

  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn has an unnecessary recap at the beginning of each episode that recaps the entire arc so far. In every episode. Sometimes this gets so bad that the actual episode doesn't start until six minutes after the show starts. That's right. They waste a quarter of the entire time block on recap. But wait... It Gets Worse. In addition to that, there is are also entire episodes COMPLETELY DEVOTED TO FLASHBACKING TO THE BEGINNING OF THE PRESENT STORYARC AND SHOWING A GOOD CHUNK OF EVERYTHING THAT ALREADY HAPPENED!!! WHICH IS COMPLETELY USELESS IF YOU'VE SEEN EVERY EPISODE THAT LEADS UP TO THE FLASHBACK EPISODES!!!
  • Gintama mocks the tendency of shônen anime to do this mercilessly by, after recapping the basic, Widgetish premise of the series in the first several episodes, Shinpachi inexplicably decides to do so once more... a hundred or so episodes later. Gintoki yells at him for it, and Shinpachi explains that viewers who've never tuned into Gintama before might be confused about what the series was smoking up till that point. But 1) viewers who have never tuned into Gintama probably shouldn't start trying to watch the series after a hundred or so episodes (though Commitment Anxiety isn't entirely an issue), and 2) this entire scene was likely repeated (with different dialogue) to save up the anime's budget once again. Gintama pulls this trick often by having the voice actors speak over a still of the Yorozuya apartment, oftentimes lampshading or directly stating that they were doing so in the same scene. Though when a serious plot arc comes around, they have a tendency to pull the same stunt other shônen anime do as well.
  • Fist of the North Star has flashback episodes every time a significant plot arc ends. Sometimes the flashbacks can take up to five episodes to finish.
  • Noir does this, having a series of flashbacks late into the first episode. However, this seems to be less about them assuming that Viewers are Morons and more about conserving the budget by repeating the same sequence over and over. Also, a certain important sequence of events gets flashbacked every other episode for a reason, as it gradually reveals more and more of a defining moment in pasts of the characters.
  • An instance of this on Sonic X leads to a quite jarring moment when edited by 4Kids, making it seem like Cream just ran out of a room crying twice! Though this was probaly just bad editing around commercial breaks, rather than a recap.
  • The quote at the top of the page isn't too much of an exaggeration of the Naruto anime, with whatever happened in the last five minutes of one episode being recapped in the opening five minutes of the next, and whatever happened in the last minute before a commercial being repeated over the next twenty second after. Although the actual purpose of this is more Padding than anything else. Then there are the many, many flashbacks. Often to three minutes ago.
    • One of the most painful examples is the Zabuza arc where there were as many as 7 flashbacks in an episode during the final fights. Sometimes even to the episode that had just preceded it.
    • Yes Kakashi, I know what the Sharingan does and how it works, you EXPLAINED THAT EARLIER IN THE FIGHT! WHY ARE YOU TELLING THE ENEMY HOW YOUR TECHNIQUE WORKS!?
    • Including, in all seriousness, an exact replica of the page quote. Let me restate that: They had a flashback to something that happened seconds before.
    • This happens less often in Shippuden, though, although the Sasuke and Sai arc frequently reminded viewers that Sasori's last words gave Sakura a tip on where to find one of his spies among Orochimaru's followers. The manga does this from time to time, although often as a way of illustrating what characters are thinking about.
      • Can be justified if it happens between manga chapters, which are published once a month before being collected in volumes, though within a chapter it gets a little boring.
  • Just over halfway through the anime series Street Fighter II V, Bison has Ken sedated and gets into a fight with Chun Li, ending with him suffocating her. Ken was apparently conscious enough to witness this, because for the next four episodes, he does nothing but have flashbacks of that fight.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie lampshaded this during the Pegasus Versus Kaiba duel, where Pegasus started to ramble off the effect of his recently-played card (Cost Down) — only for Kaiba to butt in and say that he already knows what the card does (though while this would normally be a subversion, Kaiba goes on to give a Cliffs Notes version of the effect, thus making it a Lampshade Hanging instead).
    • Even though you really only need to see one duel to know what Pot Of Greed does, they still go through the trouble of saying "I play the Magic Card Pot Of Greed, which allows me to draw two cards from my deck" almost every time the card is played. To be fair, the rules of the actual game states that you must speak out loud every single one of your actions so your oponent knows what the hell you're doing—although most players just say "I play X card" and only explain the effect when asked. Then again, real cards also state their effects on them, which at the very least is more than can be said for the card images used in the dub.
    • The volume forms of the manga can be pretty bad about this. While it would make sense to recap the last climactic action in one-chapter-a-week form, when you read them straight, it turns into:

"I play my trap card!"
(Next chapter starts)
"I play my trap card!"

    • That's fairly standard with most chapter-based manga, really. Naruto and Lunar Legend Tsukihime do the same thing. This is easily explained. Mangas often run in a serial with multiple series, such as Shonen Jump, before they are collected into a volume containing a single series. Serials are normally released monthly format, and thus when a new chapter comes out, it's much easier on the reader to have a quick refresher on something they read a month ago, sometimes more, then it is for them to have to look up last month's issue to remember what happened last time.
    • The Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime did the same thing in the Battle City arc, with Marik explaining "Those fools don't realize I am Marik!" in an internal monologue. At least three times an episode.
    • Also, in the duels against Arkana and Umbra & Lumis, said characters had to add at least once per commercial break that whoever lost would be sent to the Shadow Realm thanks to the spiritual saws/glass. 4Kids really wanted to make its point...
    • The multi-episodes duels are also pretty amusing when it comes to this. The episodes always start with a slow (usually dialogue-free) pan-up of the battlefield, showing the amount of Life Points and etc. that each player has; then the cheerleading squad go to thoroughly explain the situation and telling on how bad it is for [insert good guy who's dueling here]. Then [insert good guy who's dueling here] will have an internal monologue reflecting about his situation in detail; after this going-through-the-duel-three-times routine, the episode goes on. The dub actually goes one step beyond — dialogue is added in the slow pan-up to explain the game, then the cheerleading squad explains it again, and the monologue (usually more talky than the original one) explains it a third time. Whew.
  • Inuyasha
    • Roughly every fifth episode begins by recapping both what's currently happening and the backstory for most of the characters involved.
    • If you watch all the episodes all in one go, you get very tired of hearing the story of how Kikyo and Inu-Yasha died... especially since they replay Inu-Yasha's death scene every single episode.
    • In some episodes, the second half of the episode consists largely of flashbacks to the first half of the same episode.
    • Also, from about the third season on, every time a character appears on screen for the first time in an episode, a subtitle shows up telling us their name. Even if it's someone who is in every episode. Even if THEIR NAME WAS JUST SPOKEN IN THE DIALOG.
  • Like many other anime, including Cowboy Bebop, Slayers and Samurai Gun, the anime version of Ranma ½ split each episode in half for their single commercial break. As a result, immediately after the second half's eyecatch, the episode would replay the last scene of the first half. How jarring this was varied between episodes—the episode "Cool Runnings! The Race of the Snowmen" was particularly jarring, repeating as it did a minute-long sequence of Cologne mocking Ranma for being foolish enough to challenge her, and Ranma's defiant retort. It also makes you sit through them telling you the plot of the show every time, starting on the second season.
  • Digimon did the same thing, sometimes making the repeat trivially different.
  • Princess Resurrection did a few same episode flashbacks, the most extreme case being episode 8 where they did a flashback to a scene that happened 51 seconds ago. (About 2 to 5 minutes ago for the characters.)
  • X 1999. "There is only one future. Only one future. Two Kamuis, one future. You are Kamui, but there are two Kamuis. Two Kamuis. You and he are Kamui. In my dreams there are two Kamuis, but there can only be ONE FUCKING FUTURE, ok, we get it already!"
  • Dragonball Z
    • The anime sometimes had this with commercial breaks, but it was more stark when an episode would start by spending at least a couple of minutes repeating what happened in the last episode. Made a little strange and amusing by the fact that the repeat could sometimes be very different than what happened previously. One explanation offered for this was the series changing animation directors often... a new director would show up, decide he wanted someone to emote differently, be positioned differently, or say something different from what the last guy did, and thus essentially Retcon the last few minutes of the previous episode so as to do it his way.
    • This was also stacked on top of the recaps at the start of every episode, which just ends up hilarious as the narrator always begin with "LAST TIME, ON DRAGONBALL Z!"
    • The Portuguese dub was (in)famous because, among many things, they didn't replay the dub they already did in the previous episode when they recaped it, they would re-dub it and, more often than not, change the dialogue completely. Usually they would do a serious version in the original, and a gag dub in the recap. Such as a character replying to a death threat with anger in the first case, and in the recap replying with a laugh and a "Impossible. There are 60 more episodes after this!"
  • Fushigi Yuugi is a notoriously frequent offender, in the anime format at least (not in the manga, or at least, not enough to be particularly noticeable). How many times did Tamahome rip up that damn love letter?
  • Lampshaded in the first episode of Nerima Daikon Brothers, with the scene from before the commercial repeating almost immediately after, and one character commenting, "We already said these lines."
  • Bleach
    • Like the other Shônen examples above, done incessantly with this anime, to the point where almost five minutes (out of a 20-minute episode) can be the last moments of the previous episode.
    • And a fair bit of what is left will be flashbacks to things that happened an only an episode ago, or repeated reaction shots of people commenting on events without adding anything new. The padding is ruthless and can make watchers realise the filler wasn't so bad after all.
    • In later seasons, they start flashing back to earlier parts of the same episode. Not just action scenes where someone realizes how his opponent's attacks function, but also normal conversations.
  • Future Diary has the next chapter start off with a slightly abridged version of the last few pages of the previous chapter. This was probably a good thing while being published in serial format but utterly annoying and pointless in the collected volumes. This doesn't just happen in the start of a volume, so the recap is often to something one page away.
  • Many manga translations include footnotes with translations of posters, flags and the like. That's fine. Sometimes they only translate it once (Be it the first appearance or in special notes at the end of the volume), but sometimes they translate it more than once. That might be alright if the last note was 100 pages away. However, some translators (I'm looking at you, Glénat) put notes EVERY time said poster/flag/whatever pops up, even if they're on facing pages. So you see the footnote, look at the left page, and see the exact same note. Thanks, I might have forgotten in the 0.5 seconds it took me to look left.
  • The anime version of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle gets ridiculous with flashbacks and previous episode recaps.
  • "Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~, a 26-episode series, has not one but two recap episodes.
  • The Pokémon anime, especially as of the Black and White series, and particularly with Ash, who cannot seem to stop flashing back to previous episodes or even incidents that happened earlier in the episode.
  • Gundam Seed Destiny is horribly, blatantly guilty of this, with six episodes dedicated entirely to recapping the series and its prequel, Gundam Seed, and constant flashbacks to events that everyone knows have already taken place—most notably the death of Uzumi Nara Athha, which happens almost every time Cagalli is on screen. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, SEED's Crowning Moment of Flashback is the death of Nichol Amalfi, which gets at least one flashback every episode after it happens for the rest of the series. It even pops up a couple of times in Destiny despite being set two years later and not meaning all that much anymore.
  • Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love 1000% gets really bad about this starting in episode seven; almost all the flashbacks are to material earlier in the episode, and in several cases the scene happened less than two minutes prior to the flashback!
  • One episode of Chargeman Ken flashes back to an event which occurred thirty seconds before.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has one episode during Kenichi's fight with Takeda where probably half of the entire thing is just a recap, though it could just be said that the last part of the last episode was just repeated exactly.
  • Almost every episode of Code Geass starts with a recap of pretty major plot points that you can't possibly not know unless you haven't watched any previous episodes at all ("Have we mentioned that Britannia is a big evil empire that took over Japan and that Lelouch is trying to defeat it with his mind-controlling eye thingy? Yes, but only, like, twenty times? Well, let's go over it again, in exhaustive detail!") and often re-mentions some recent events from the previous couple of episodes, too.

Comic Books

  • Uncanny X-Men #152 features a helpful sequence of flashback pages that explains how Kitty Pryde ended up in a car with (someone who appeared to be) her arch enemy Emma Frost... but the final panel of the flashback recalls an event that happened only a few pages earlier in the same issue.
  • Batman comics of the 1950s were very big on Telling in addition to Showing, making sure the reader didn't lose track of what was going on. In at least one story, this resulted in Robin recapping information gained earlier on the same page.
  • Archie Comics will actually do this, including a recap to the first part of a story... that's in the same book, and was simply broken up by a few gag panel pages. Also present is in just how often the comics reuse the exact same jokes, not simply from issue to issue, or within the same issue, but in at least one case having jokes with identical punchlines in two short comics on the same page. Because obviously reading three more panels was sufficient time for that joke to become funny again.

Fan Works

  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series parodied this in Episode 35 where Kaiba and Yami have flashbacks of the events of the entire Abridged Series including the opening of the episode.

Kaiba: Hey Yugi, remember when this episode began?


Films — Animation

Films — Live-Action

  • Mystery Science Theater 3000
    • The B-Movie Future War has a montage of flashbacks, arranged chronologically, while the protagonist is in prison. By the end, the scenes being flashbacked had been shown less than five minutes ago. Mike and the bots did not let this go without comment.
    • Also done on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the film Laserblast. Aliens watch a clip from earlier in the movie which is so long the bots riff "We've already seen Laserblast, Sir..."
    • It also occurs in The Deadly Bees. When the villain is explaining how he carried off his evil plan, he fully recaps the entire story, up to the moment right before he started his flashback. This wouldn't be so bad if the whole thing had been simple narration, but the filmmakers felt compelled to augment the character's narration with clips of the scenes in question, including those of scenes that had just taken place. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew loudly complained, "We just saw this!"
    • And again in The Phantom Planet, where the hero flashes back through his experiences in the film, including the previous scene with his love interest. Crow yells, "No fair! You can't flash back to stuff we saw ten seconds ago!" It also had the classic riff, "we didn't like these scenes the first time!"
  • In The Asylum's B-Movie mockery Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, a title card detailing the location of the marine base where the characters are located pops up multiple times, even when they haven't even left the base. The fact that the same shot of the soldiers is used repeatedly for these title cards does not help at all.
  • In Uwe Boll's House of the Dead, a character has a flashback of the entire movie up to that point while standing in the middle of a zombie-filled graveyard. Worse than that: the character has a flashback to the beginning of the scene he is still in the middle of!
  • Parodied in the musical version of The Producers, where Max's eleventh-hour solo recaps the entire plot up to that point (including the Intermission in the stage version).
  • Parodied in Clue, in which the Butler recaps every action that has taken place in the movie (including slapping Mrs. Peacock repeatedly!), until the characters yell at him to Get On With It Already!
  • Spy Hard parodied this when WD-40 meets his old spy buddy. When he reminisces about the good times they had, he remembers only meeting him moments ago.
  • In Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, we see a close-up of Gen's spider-web tattoo. Not even five minutes later, Chun-Li is told that the meaning of a map she was given is telling her to find Gen for training. It then shows us the exact-same shot of Gen's spider-web tattoo.
  • About half of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 consists of flashbacks of the previous movie. The other half consists of Ricky either being awesome, narmful, or some combination of the two. GARBAGE DAY! Justified a little because they'd originally intended to make a tamer edit of the film with some new footage to compensate for the edits, then it ended up turning into a half-redundant sequel instead.
  • 28 Weeks Later treats us to a recap of the beginning of the movie when the children are reunited with their father, and he tells them what happened to their mother. This is about ten to fifteen minutes after showing it the first time when the movie began, and most of it was opening credits Scenery Gorn. However, the real point of the scene is to show how the father lies to his children about leaving his wife to the zombies.
  • The Last Airbender. Even though he expected his viewers to be fully versed in the television series, M. Night Shyamalan decided that he had to repeat the same thing over and over again.
  • The makers of There Will Be Blood apparently assumed that viewers would not remember that Daniel Plainview's plan was to cut a deal with Union Oil and lay a pipeline to the coast so that he would no longer have to pay rail-tanker fees to Standard Oil unless this fairly simple plan were explained again and again every five minutes or so for the entire length of the film.
  • The Power Rangers Turbo movie was really bad about this. As one parody put it: "you'd think we were brain dead with the amount of exposition in this movie."


  • The Song of Rolandeverywhere. When will Charlemagne lose the heart for making war, again?
    • Justified in that many of these old stories — Beowulf, The Arthurian legends, and so on—were originally sung ballads from the days when few could read or write, and the repetition helped the person singing the ballad (and the listener, because some of these could be pretty long) remember what happened.
  • The Babysitters Club books would give a rundown of all the characters and how the club worked at the start of every single book.
  • This seems quite normal for most book series, as the new books sometimes come after months, if not years. It's just really glaring if you read the books within a few weeks; for example, the Drizzt Do'Urden novels are notorious for it. Also in the War of the Spiderqueen hexalogy which was writen by six different authors under the supervision of seventh one (which wrote the Drizzt novels). One of these books used this even inside itself, sometimes within the same chapter, to the point where it got annoying. What makes the trope apply notably to this series is not so much that there's a recap, it's that it's done in such excruciating detail that it's like the author is explaining everything from scratch. While it's common for most series to remind us of things, with the BSC it's stated like it's the first time, every time. This is most likely because plots rarely continue from one book to another, so the books don't need to be read in any particular order to be understood. This means that any book in the series could be the first one a new reader reads, so they have to describe the characters' personalities, backgrounds, relationships, etc.
  • It's just not possible to find a Sweet Valley High book that doesn't mention certain information repeatedly—the twins are blonde and blue-eyed, with perfect size-six figures and identical gold lavalieres that their parents gave them on their 16th birthday; they drive a Spider Fiat; their house has a Spanish-style kitchen; their mother is often mistaken for their older sister and their brother looks like a younger version of their father. Considering how many books there are in this series, it borders on the ridiculous.
  • Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 is really terrible with this. Have you forgotten what Tengo's ears look like or did you just zone out and not even absorb any of the last ten pages? Don't worry, another summary is coming right up.
  • The book series of WITCH also does this, explaining at the beginning of each book how the girls are the guardians of Candracar, have magic elemental powers, etc. It wouldn't be so bad, except its possible to whip through several books in one day.
  • Twilight is notorious for this - almost every time Edward comes up, his looks get described in full.

Live-Action TV

  • Watching a TV show released on DVD often makes this occur inadvertently, as a piece of action will occur before a commercial break would appear during a TV airing and then occur again a moment later to bring the viewers back into the action after the non-existent-on-the-DVD commercial break.
  • Often occurs in American shows broadcast in the UK. The public-funded BBC channels don't have any advert breaks at all, and British commercial TV stations don't have as many advert breaks as their US counterparts so the breaks they get don't always match up properly with the points the program-makers were intending breaks to take place.
  • Repetition is very common in hour-long documentaries that would otherwise be a half- or quarter-hour. Redundancy helps to fill the hour, because such shows tend to be about subjects that really can be explained in a quarter- or half-hour, and they need filler material in order to fill the entire hour. Most American documentaries are completely unwatchable due to the constant recapping of the first three minutes, which also leaves little time to impart any actual information. It gets even more ridiculous when The BBC's own programs do this, and the obvious implication that they're doing it for the benefit of whichever commercial network ends up buying it can be almost insulting at times. Especially when they show you the same recap/coming soon segment twice in quick succession, either side of the non-existent ad break.
    • Beautifully averted, thankfully, in Sir David Attenborough's documentaries - because he doesn't go in for repetition and assumes we can remember what he last said, he imparts more information in five minutes than most documentaries do in the full hour.
  • Ghost Hunters. Okay, so imagine this: The TAPS crew are making their way through a room in an old movie theater that's reportally haunted. They move across the stage when they hear a loud clatter. They scream, panic, and enter a title splash screen. Moments later, one of them appears and describes exactly what we just saw about thirty seconds ago. To make sure you did not forget the events of thirty seconds ago, there's a scene where the others catch up with the persons in questions who are stammering out what they were doing at the time of the noise.
  • MasterChef repeats almost exactly what happened in the previous 20 seconds after every commercial break, leading to a recent episode that counted down the seconds remaining for the Pressure Test twice.
  • MythBusters tends to be an offender whenever they don't have enough TNT... uh, material to fill an hour. Segments are usually started by a recap of what happened five minutes ago and ended by a preview of what's coming up next, making about a third of the whole show pure repetition. Granted, it does mean you can tune in at almost any time and not miss a beat.
    • This from the very show that debunked the myth of goldfish only having a three-second memory. OK, so Adam's tank had about a three-second lifespan...
    • The BBC edited MythBusters down to 30 minutes when they showed it on their own channels in the UK. (Though the versions shown on the "Quest" channel are a full hour).
  • America's Next Top Model is really bad for this. It's particularly annoying for British viewers, because the advert breaks are arranged differently—a reminder of something that happened ten minutes ago on the show when it is shown in the U.S. may have happened two minutes ago for British viewers. The sepia tone, as though they're showing something that happened in the 1920s and not, like, five minutes ago is what really makes it classic on ANTM.
  • Stock line on some reality TV shows (and that includes ANTM): "Previously On..."
  • Tru Calling often had flashbacks during the second half of the episode to events from the first half. Probably done because, for much of its run, the show's first half hour aired at the same time as Friends.
  • The Wildest Police Videos series are made almost exclusively of repeated previews and reviews. This may be explained by the fact that this repetition is not for the benefit of the viewers but to somehow stretch less than five minutes of actual footage into an hour-long episode.
  • Many episodes of Heroes begin by repeating part of the last scene of the previous episode. Sometimes this gives you the impression the continuity editor is a goldfish; in one instance, Claire woke up and declared "Holy shi--" as the credits rolled, but in the next episode, where the scene continued, she instead said "Oh my God". This is not a great instance of thinking ahead, guys.
  • CSI does this all the time. First you see the crime scene, then they talk about the evidence, then they process it in the lab and remember collecting it, then they talk about why it matters and when someone has a Eureka Moment, they show you which specific piece of evidence was important.
    • One Season 3 episode has a bad example where it constantly goes to a Mitochondrial DNA Lab in Norfolk, Virginia. You know this because every time it switches there, they felt the need to have a location stamp with that information. The scenes aren't even that important!
  • The "Previously On..." the 2004 Battlestar Galactica segments are included in the DVD versions. This gets annoying as you re-watch a scene you just saw, then bizarre as they show scenes that never happened before.
  • Veronica Mars does a great deal of this, though it is somewhat justified in that its large cast means that characters will fade in and out of view with irritating regularity, leading casual viewers to be reminded of their existence. Add to that that the plot is often so thick with so many sub-plots and red herrings crossing each other that the plot can get very confusing at times. On the other hand, the overly long "Previously On..." sequences that occur in every single episode except the first make this trope laughable when marathoning the show on DVD, as the "Previously On..." will remind viewers of plot points brought up a single episode ago. This is especially true when it reminds you of the ending of the previous episode, which you just saw. This is especially infuriating when the same clip is used over and over to remind you of a single plot point.
  • Lost has this in spades. For one example, consider Eloise Hawking: brought up briefly in one episode two seasons before she actually became important. The "Previously On..." segments showed clips from that episode in the one she reappeared in.
  • Always done on Medium: Whenever Allison has her ding ding ding! moment, we get a flashback to earlier in the episode so the show can reinforce the connection she's making—even if it just happened 20 minutes ago.
  • Very frequently, ESPN's Sports Center will begin with a recap of the sporting event that the network just televised.
  • The dying WB network came with a "Previously On..." stunt that recapped the first half-hour of hourly shows, apparently for the benefit of viewers who were watching other channels for the previous half-hour. Programs subjected to this included Gilmore Girls.
  • FlashForward has repeated Mark and Olivia Benford's flashforward at least once per episode, more or less beating the viewer over the head with reminders that he's drinking and she's cheating. Word is that viewers might have Executive Meddling to thank for this. Unsurprisingly, the more popular storylines tend to involve characters whose flashforward was only shown once, or who didn't have one at all.
  • Arrested Development, a show praised for being one of the most intelligent on television, succumbed to this later in its run, due to the higher-ups complaining the plot was too convoluted for people to follow. So, generally, in the last season the first half-minute after the commercial break is devoted to the narrator summarizing everything else to happen in that episode at speeds that would make the Rocky and Bullwinkle narrator blush.
  • The game show Moment of Truth suffered from this. Every time they came back from commercial break, they would recap half of the embarrassing questions asked of a contestant already. They would also show extended "Coming Up Next" segments, recap previous shows, and show clips of upcoming shows in commercials. This resulted in 75% of the show being scenes you've seen five times already.
  • NBC loves to do this for Padding in their game shows:
    • Deal or No Deal double triple-dips in this trope, starting off every episode with a flashback to the previous one, then stopping midway through to recap. Plus each contestant usually has some kind of sob story or noble intention for their winnings, which Howie Mandel will usually point towards the beginning and then harp on incessantly throughout the show.
    • Minute to Win It takes this Up to Eleven, especially in earlier episodes. First, just like Deal or No Deal, each contestant always has some kind of sob story to tell, which is usually showcased early in the episode. Then the show will usually proceed to incessantly derail itself between games and after commercial breaks to remind the viewers of it at every opportunity possible. And with each game, after the Blueprint video explains the game, Guy Fieri will sometimes recap the rules between the Blueprint and the game, or in a voice-over during the game (although they've gotten better about this variant lately), depending on how much Filler they need to achieve a Commercial Break Cliffhanger. If there's a commercial break before the game ends (and there frequently is), expect another recap after the break. NBC apparently not only think viewers are goldfish, but goldfish with Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny
    • The series premiere of Who's Still Standing? would cut away after every single round to a graphic with a voice-over (which was obviously clumsily added in post-production) to spend 30 seconds recapping the state of the game. This became even more ridiculous whenever it happened immediately before or after host Ben Bailey did a perfectly good in-studio summary of the same information in only 10 seconds.
  • At least half of the first season of Dead Like Me started off with a long flashback explaining everything that happened in the first episode.
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon does this... not infrequently. Sometimes it seems like a mood-building piece: showing the "Alice learned that Bob had a girlfriend" scene as a short flashback, instead of merely recapping it, slowed the action down and caught the emotion better, perhaps. But it's still annoying, especially when we get to see the same "Alice remembers Carol being extremely rude to her that one time, and that's why they're still on edge around each other, did you forget?" scene in four episodes in a row.
  • This was the infamous reason Police Squad! was cancelled—the head of the ABC network thought viewers wouldn't be able to pay attention well enough to get it. It has since become a Cult Classic.
  • Bones in season 4 injected some jarring recaps halfway through each episode, which were designed to tell viewers what unfolded merely half and hour ago. Even if, say, a viewer jumped in at that point from watching another program, it still seems stupid, simply because Bones does not take much effort to follow (like any procedural crime drama).
  • When ABC wanted to build hype on Lost season 4 after a long eight month break, the executives went a little overboard with jogging viewers' memories. A Best Week Ever commentator lampshaded this with hilarious effect: "So I first watched a re-airing of the Lost season 3 finale. And then I watched a season 3 re-cap of everything I just saw. And then I happened to see a re-cap of the re-cap before the season 4 opening episode. All in all, I watched Charlie drown THREE TIMES!!!" While mentioning this, the extended episodes of Lost have annoying side comments pop-up every ten seconds which bring up mostly obvious details. While it's sometimes useful for fans who may have forgotten a few subtle details over the long breaks, it mostly sounds like incessant chatter. And that's before these side comments starts mentioning the nicknames the shippers have made for the Jack-Kate or Sawyer-Kate couplings.
  • The Spike TV show Deadliest Warrior has a major case of this. After every single part of the analysis of the "warriors", there's a recap of the whole episode up to that point. Then again, the show isn't particularly intellectually challenging in the first place.
  • Scrubs
    • An odd bit of seesawing on this trope with Dr. Cox' ex-brother-in-law Ben: At first, half of an episode is rehashed in a way that possibly makes every single audience member feel insulted as it turns out to have been All Just a Dream. And then a later episode, which turns out to be at least 70% just a dream, does nothing of the sort and manages a rather jarring and tragic revelation. It's like they learned something!
    • Done as a joke later on; J.D. is reminded of incidents that are not percieved as manly. The last flashback is him ordering an Appletini, which happened about fifteen seconds ago.
  • The first episode of The Wire features a flashback in its final scene to remind us who the newly discovered dead body is, in a show that typically eschewed any such artificial storytelling techniques. David Simon didn't want to do it but HBO insisted, and it actually is justified: the episode introduces the viewer to so many characters and situations that odds are they actually will have forgotten the dead character, who only appeared briefly in an early scene.
  • Every episode of Leverage has a flashback near the end revealing how they pulled off the job by showing a key event that was left out previously (for instance, that when she borrowed his coat, she planted a camera on it). Since these are necessarily framed by repeating the events immediately before and after (her taking the coat and giving it back), they work very poorly if the key event only took place five minutes ago.
  • Try to watch an episode of any show that Gordon Ramsay is involved with (like Hells Kitchen), and know in your heart that half of the show is recapping what just happened. Worst of all is the "Kitchen Nightmares revisited" episodes, where they go back to restaurants from earlier seasons: Ten minutes of old episode footage/recapping, two of Gordon Ramsay actually revisiting.
  • Parodied in the 1975 Superman musical TV special It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman, where Doctor Sedgwick sings a song about how his sole motivation is to get revenge on Superman and Switzerland (for turning him down for the Nobel Prize 10 times). It then cuts out mid-verse and promises that after the commercial it will reveal what terrible thing the doctor wants to do before he dies, as though everyone just missed or forgot him singing a song about how he wants revenge. And tells everyone to stay tuned for Chapter 4: Sedgwick's Revenge.
  • Psych uses a variation with its "clue-vision", zooming in and then highlighting the clue Shawn just noticed (or flashing back on a line of dialogue or flashing back and again highlighting a clue as it is noticed). Always accompanied by Shawn making his squinty-eyed-I-just-found-a-clue-face (Lampshaded as such eventually when Gus points out that, yes, he also saw many of the the same clues but never feel the need to make a silly face)
  • Practically every show on the Disney Channel nowadays feels the need to have the show's logo appear in the bottom right corner of the screen after they return from commercial break. 'Cause, you know, we somehow didn't see the "We're back" bumper telling us which show this was. Though that's really more there for if people are recording the show. It's just as annoying, though.
  • After Newton, the flashbacks at the opening to each Maddigan's Quest episode repeatedly reminded us that yes, the Fantasia had in fact managed to get hold of the solar converter. Apparently the fact that most of the cast was spending most of their time running around either trying to steal or protect the thing wasn't enough to keep it in our minds.
  • Conmen Case Files is horrible about this, at least judging from the "Nick Gage" episode. At least 75% of the running time is taken by the narrator endlessly repeating that Nick Gage is, in fact, a conman, and that he has, in fact, conned people, and that these people have lost money. To this conman. Who conned them. For their money. That were conned away. By Nick Gage the conman.
  • The whole premise of the CBS police procedural Unforgettable is that the main character remembers everything. Evidently, they don't trust their viewers to remember this one-sentence premise, because every single commercial for the show has to remind them of this fact.
  • Sports broadcasts - full stop. When they aren't pointing out the obvious, they are telling you what just happened a few minutes ago, showing you in slow motion, too.

Newspaper Comics

  • This is very common in episodic newspaper comics, but Alley Oop makes an art of it. Sometimes only a single panel will be devoted to advancing the plot that was summarized in the other two.
  • E.C. Segar's original Thimble Theater strip, whence Popeye first came, constantly recapped the plot in the first panel during long storylines for those who weren't caught up.
  • Dick Tracy spends every Sunday rehashing the previous week's action. The Comics Curmudgeon once congratulated Dick Tracy for going Up to Eleven with its recaps; it spent so long in one strip rehashing what happened yesterday that it ended with the plot less advanced than it had been the day before!
  • It seems that most newspaper comics that follow a storyline do this a lot. Other offenders are Rex Morgan, M.D., Mary Worth, and The Amazing Spider-Man, all of which spent about two panels actually getting something new done and the rest recapping. Justified somewhat when you realize that many of the newspapers that carry Dick Tracy, Rex Morgan, etc., only carry it in their larger Sunday comics section—the much smaller weekday comics section may not have room for it, therefore the writers create the Sunday episodes so they can be readable without the weekday episodes being available.
  • The new Little Orphan Annie is a repeat offender.
  • In Buckles, every character addresses every other character by name at least once in every strip, as if readers are likely to forget who's who on a day to day basis.
  • Mallard Fillmore has very little in terms of actual plot, and yet still manages to abuse this trope by having the first panel recap whatever issue is annoying him this week.
  • When Dilbert does multi-day storylines, it will often have either a caption explaining the premise that previous comics have set up or a character explaining what happened in the previous comics in the first panel. This is pretty jarring when you're reading the strip online.

Pro Wrestling

  • WWE's and TNA's Professional Wrestling programs are absolutely peppered with "Moments Ago" replays, usually upon returning from commercial breaks. (In the case of RAW, which is shot live, this will usually be something that happened during the commercial break.)
    • Also in the case where a storyline and/or character is quickly chucked out and it's expected that people will simply not remember it or will be nice enough to overlook it. The IWC frequently does neither.
  • If a top or upper-midcard wrestler is injured for a substantial period of time, he will ALWAYS come back as a Face. Even if he was the most despicable and dastardly of Heels at the time of his injury. Ironically, Kurt Angle once vocally pointed this out upon Triple H's return from a nasty quad tear and was made out to be a huge jerk for doing so.
  • Professional Wrestling subverts this trope. Jim Cornette declared the "Seven Year Rule", which states that after 7 years have passed it's safe to recycle a character, gimmick and/or storyline. For example, Carlito Caribbean Cool's gimmick had a substantial overlap with that of Razor Ramon, but because enough time had passed since Scott Hall quit portraying Razor, Carlito got over.
    • Pro wrestling does however, also have the Three Month Rule, which plays this a little straighter. While it won't necessarily repeat things that happened three months ago, it will expect viewers to forget them and consider them out of continuity.

Tabletop Games

  • A smart Game Master will recap what happened last play session if it's been more than a week. Otherwise the first hour of play will be wasted with questions like, "Wait, who was the guy in the gray cape and why are we working for him, again?"


  • Lampshaded in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels The Musical. At the beginning of Act Two, the exact last few lines from Act One are repeated, with Freddy then commenting, "Didn't we do this part already?" and Lawrence replying, "I enjoyed it so much the first time."
  • Similarly lampshaded in Evil Dead The Musical. Act I ends with a long sun solo consisting of "Die, DIE!" repeated fifteen times—and it lasts for nearly 45 seconds—while he kills his former girlfriend's zombie head, a pile of other zombie bodies in the corner. Act II begins with the exact same solo, but the head is obviously fake, and the place has been cleaned up. When other characters demand to know how this "isn't as bad as it looks", Ash replies: "At least there isn't a pile of bodies in the corner anymore."

Video Games

  • Driver San Francisco is a big offender, using television style "previously on" exposition moments. This is fine for players who may take a break between levels, but is particularly silly playing through the first few levels, which are easy to knock out in the space of an hour or two.
  • Pokémon FireRed & LeafGreen do this so often that, although it lets you save at any point, it reduces a lot of Fake Longevity by using Save States. One can press the Start button to skip the recaps, thankfully.
    • The series in general has a bad habit of this. Want to pick an Apricorn off a tree? Well prepare to be reminded of your actions from shaking the tree, getting the colored Apricorn, being told what colored Apricorn you got, and then having you put it in the bag. It also happens with H Ms like Rock Smash, Strength, or Cut. Weather moves like Rain Dance and Hail remind you of their effects every turn until they fade.
    • As of Pokémon Black and White, message boxes for weather ("Rain continues to fall", etc.) appear only once. "'X mon' was buffeted by the Sandstorm", however, wasn't removed.
    • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Explorers Time/Darkness uses this a lot more than it should. Some of the more memorable scenes get flashed back to multiple times in the same cutscene, any time you escape from danger your partner feels the need to tell you what just happened, the ending cutscene is a collection of flashbacks, and occasionally your own character will flash back to what just happened, have an internal monologue about what just happened, tell the partner what just happened, and then the partner will repeat it back to you.
    • The original game was pretty bad about this too.
  • A variation of this in the Lost video game Via Domus: the game is (like the show) split into episodes, and each one starts with a "Previously on Lost" segment recapping the game so far. This would be fine, except that there's no way to quit the game in between episodes, so you're invariably recapping something you've just seen. The previously part does show up again when you reload the game where it might actually be needed, though.
  • Also used in Blood Curse: Siren. The episodes are so short you wouldn't normally stop after just one, yet they remind you of what you just did twenty minutes ago.
  • And again used in Alan Wake. The episodes, however, are quite long.
  • The Metal Gear Solid series can sometimes be guilty of this. Snake repeats everything everyone tells him, but in an inquisitive tone. "The key is made of a shape-memory alloy!" "A shape-memory alloy?!" "Yes! It changes based on the temperature!" "It changes based on the temperature, huh?" This actually becomes Fridge Brilliance when you realize Snake doesn't do this to benefit the player, since the player often has no use for the information anyway. He does it so he himself remembers what he is searching for. Not very effective when Snake does this when informed about something he should already know about, such as the sights on a freakin' rifle. Thanks, Nastasha!
  • Disgaea 2 has the infamous scene where Taro falls into a river. The scene is played over three times before the player can regain control, and two of these are completely unskippable. It was likely to segue dialogue, but it also plays during the Next Chapter skit for almost no reason.
  • In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, about 80% of the occurrences of anyone saying or Emil remembering Richter's phrase "courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality" follow with a flashback to when he first said it, despite the fact that it was unusual for a guy like him to say that kind of thing it would be impossible to forget he said it even if you tried. If that wasn't enough, there's usually at least one flashback to a different part of that conversation (or the just-after one where you meet Marta) every half an hour of gameplay. Emil and Marta also keep a diary where they take turns to write every little bit of information involving the story, details of the dialogues included; Marta's parts are in pink while Emil's are in blue. However reading the entries is optional and it's a good way to remind what happened to a player who took a break of several months.
  • Sigma Star Saga, like Metal Gear, makes heavy use of Parrot Exposition, but unlike in Metal Gear, it's not a character trait. Rather, Recker does it when and only when you're told at the end of an Info Dump that advancing the plot will require an action other than killing things. Since he usually uses similar words to the previous speaker, it's not a case of Viewers are Morons, but since skipping dialogue skips partway through a conversation rather than skipping the entire thing, and since Recker's repetition is always the first thing said after a skip, it apparently caters to those who consider the plot irrelevant.
  • In Eternal Sonata, Claves and Jazz have a talk about a traitor in the group. Immediately after, Claves, the traitor, is killed by Rondo for not pinning the blame on another member. It would be somewhat sad if Claves didn't have a 20-minute musing on her life, including a flashback to the scene with Jazz that happened about 2 minutes ago.
  • Mostly averted by Sonic Adventure 2. You get a very stylish scrolling text segment explaining what's going on in the plot at the time if you save your game, quit, and come back later. This prevents them from having to explain anything in the cutscenes again.
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • For Twilight Princess, Nintendo must've believed the players were incapable of remembering or re-figuring the values of the different colored rupees. Every time you start a new session (i.e., resume a saved game or start a new one), for each non-green rupee you pick up, the game will tell you the value of it. Amusingly, it's actually the game that has the memory of a goldfish. The rupee-value dialogue coming on each time you load up the game is triggered by a slight error with the programming. When you save the game, it does not save the fact that you've been told on first pick-up how much a given color of rupee is worth. So when you power down the system and load up the game again, it "forgets" that you ever picked up any rupees other than the standard one-rupee value green ones, and reminds you again.
      • Oddly, there's a way to hack your save file so that it does remember you've picked them up before. It seems that there was a bit of code left out that prevents the flags from being saved.
    • Majora's Mask did this as well for all rupees above the one valued at ten.
    • Skyward Sword doesn't have this problem with rupees, but it does with insects and collectibles. And infuriatingly shows the item going into your inventory every time.
  • Star Control 2 averts this and demonstrates why it exists. Fortunately, most of the background exposition can be reviewed. Unfortunately, some very vital information can't be, including homeworld coordinates and the location of the final boss. You are advised to take notes.
  • The Nancy Drew games are known for this whenever Nancy calls someone back home. Sometimes you can avoid calling the stock characters like Ned, Bess, or George, but there are a few games where you can't move forward without their assistance. So if you've been holding off on calling and suddenly have no choice, what follows is a Character Filibuster where Nancy recaps every. Single. Event. Thus. Far. Try to have a book or some knitting handy when you play.
  • Ar tonelico. After the hero crashes his airship, he recounts how he crashed his airship, then goes into a flashback of the events of getting to the airship and the dialogue around it, which happened a minute ago. Additionally, when they run into the airship bay, he exclaims "This... is the airship!" as though he's surprised to find it there. Maybe it's the hero who's a goldfish...
  • Ar tonelico 2 has a couple of series of flashbacks that end with one of these. Particularly egregious when Cocona tells you to Dive into her to stop Hibernation, causing a series of flashbacks that end with one of Cocona telling you to Dive into her to stop Hibernation causing a series of flashbacks...
  • The Ace Attorney series plays this straight, however it subverts it more. The game's flashbacks to previous scenes many times, sometimes even to scenes from only minutes ago however it also expects the player to remember facts from quite a bit ago. One of the most striking examples is at the end of case 2:4 where You must use the available evidence to make take down Matt Engarde will still saving Maya at the same time. You only get one change to present one piece of evidence and there is only one piece of evidence that can do this, plus you are given no help or hints as too what to do. Anyone who can't remember that De Killer, the assassin who has kidnapped Maya, said his bond of trust is one of the key's to his operations with clients as well as the fact that Matt Engarde stated in a brief encounter that the video tape he had was his "insurance" against De Killer is well and truly screwed at this point.
      • To further show the point, many contradictions require you to present evidence that doesn't have contradictory text/content in the evidence screen information. Rather you have to remember a specific detail that was stated about the evidence before hand, yet that's not been put into the evidence information. For example: Case 1:4 features a newspaper article about a giant monster that has been reported spotted in a lake. At one point you must present this article to prove that a witness was at said lake looking for the monster. The proof is that the article says the monster made a "BANG!" noise and that the witnesses camera was set to respond too loud bangs. This fact is however not stated in the evidence screen so is something that the player must remember on their own.

Web Animation


Strong Bad: Here's my accent a few years ago.
Flashback Strong Bad: Do joo take of jor face and hands before joo go to bed?
Strong Bad: Here's my accent a few seconds ago.
Flashback Strong Bad: Here's my accent a few years ago.


Web Comics

Web Original

  • The Irate Gamer
    • One video set up a leaking gas pipe, and to make sure we see this, he shows it again and again and again and again to make sure we know there's a leaking gas pipe.
    • In the same episode, he is reviewing the educational Super Mario games in two different timelines. Each time the video switches between the two timelines, Bores reminds us which of the two games he is talking about.
  • A big offender of this are the countless "The X most Y Zs" countdowns found on YouTube. When you finally reach number 2: "Here's a recap of what you've seen so far!", fifteen minutes is often not even the case with the standard 10-minute limit on uploads.
  • Parodied in Millions mourn loss of celebrity again as news of death circulates social media 2 years later on Genesius Times.

Western Animation

  • It's a fairly common joke in comedy cartoons in the '80s and '90s to have a character wondering "didn't I said that already?", especially since so many serious cartoons play it straight, repeating the last scene you saw before the commercial break. (This is extra funny on releases with no commercials.)
  • Clerks the Animated Series
    • The very second episode does this with its first episode. Though that's the entire point.
    • And parodied it in the first episode. "Last time on Clerks: *cue test pattern* "
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog
    • Lampshaded in the episode, "Over the Hill Hero". After finally catching Sonic, Dr. Robotnik exclaims that Mobius is his. HIS! His! ALL HIS! Then, after the commercial break, he announces "With Sonic trapped in the forcefield, Mobius is mine! MINE!" Then, he pauses, scratches his chin, and wonders "Or did I say that already?"
    • The Chaos Emerald four parter had Sonic getting a new time travel gizmo in each part, and is told each time that they'll "enable him to circle the planet at the speed of light and enter the time warp". A little more grating in the sense that the audio for the line was recycled for the other episodes. This YouTube Poop flat out shows it (Skip to 1:04)
  • The Transformers Generation 1 episode "Auto-Bop" has a flashback to something that happened less than a minute before.
  • Parodied in a Family Guy flashback: after Peter rejects a free boat in favor of a Mystery Box, he responds to Lois' complaint thus:

Peter: Come on Lois, you're acting like this is the first time I've ever done something stupid. Remember the time I was supposed to get that boat?
(cue flashback to Peter choosing the box over the boat)
Lois: Peter, that happened ten minutes ago.
And closer to fifteen seconds in the show itself. Not to mention that of course that was the exact thing they were arguing about. Making this also an in-universe example for Peter.

  • Wolverine and the X-Men's constant recaps of the first couple of episodes in almost every single episode's "Previously On..." sequence. It... didn't take us months to come to the gripping realization that mutant-hunters are bad and the X-Men being back together is good. No, really, it didn't.
  • The entirety of Dora the Explorer. The show treats the viewers as if they have the memories of a goldfish and repeats a phrase so often that if you're older than a toddler and are not allowed to change the channel for whatever reason, you'd be wishing that someone take out a gun and put you out of your misery after watching a few minutes into the show. Unless you're high on something. Justified, because the target audience really does have the attention span of a goldfish, and you shouldn't be watching it if you're older than five. That would be Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny tho. All the repetition in the world will not be able to help there since it's a different trope altogether. It's shown that keeping the child attracted via interactivity (ie. no fourth wall) helps more, but then Dora actually has both.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 has an episode once where it flashes back to a scientist explaining what his invention did, then he broke the fourth wall and said he hates flashbacks as much as the viewer.
  • The reality TV version was parodied on the "Crippled Summer" episode of South Park, with title cards appearing constantly explaining things that had just happened. This includes explaining the Looney Tunes-style humour of the B-plot in great detail.

"Mimsy was supposed to blow the shark mating whistle while he was still in the water. There appears to have been a fundamental misunderstanding."


Real Life

  • Averted, ironically enough, for actual goldfish. MythBusters proved this trope busted. Which may have been already mentioned earlier....
  • Basic essay writing with a thesis-introduction-body-conclusion format, especially at the high school level. Three of those are normally used to say what the paper is about. As Dale Carnegie put it — "Tell the audience what you're going to say, say it; then tell them what you've said."
  • This is actually used, in a much more sensible format, in writing scientific papers. The abstract, which is equivalent to a thesis, is what people reading through papers read to decide if they do care and often the part you get for absolutely free when looking through a search, and the conclusion is often what will be looked for if the reader is not, in fact, as interested in the 'how' as the 'what' of the experiment you're talking about. For example, if you're only after how long a goldfish's memory is, you are likely to skip entirely the procedure and the details of the results in favor of the conclusion which gives you the nice, short version of the answer and what this actually means.
  • It's easier to list political ads that don't rely on this Trope to appeal to the masses. Though that's probably more to use the "repeat it enough and they'll believe it" theory, than because they thought the viewers forgot it.
  • Standard advice for seminary students on giving a sermon: "Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em. Tell 'em. Then tell 'em what you told 'em."
  • Although short-term memory loss is often associated with conditions like dementia and Alzheimer's in eldery people, there are certain conditions that can occur even in younger people involving short-term memory loss. Some people have suffered it as a result of trauma or a stroke, they literally forget things immediately after ceasing to think of them and must write everything down to be able to do daily tasks or things like taking a bus or going someplace, and rely on a caregiver for help. Interestingly, long-term memories, things from before the trauma, may not always be affected, though it can.
  • Truth in Television:
For a start, our attention spans are shorter. A film that ran at such a resolutely languid pace would last less than a week in a modern multiplex.

This was an article about treating viewers like they have the memory of a goldfish, which lasts about three seconds.

  1. real life goldfish have been proven to have longer memory; a study concluded a maximum limit of seven months. And, if you don't buy that, it's also been busted
  2. It may also be the case that a viewer has tuned in partway through the program or series, and therefore has no memory of what happened even moments earlier.