This is when the narrative moves back in time.

  • The Phantom of the Opera is told in one giant flashback, as the show’s opening scene is of the aged Raoul attending an auction selling off items from the opera house.
  • Miss Saigon goes back to “The Fall of Saigon” midway through the second act
  • Harry Potter has the Pensieve and Tom Riddle’s diary, allowing for magical plot important flashbacks.
  • In The Dark Tower, Book One: The Gunslinger, the first quarter of the novel is devoted to flashbacks to events just prior to the beginning of the novel, and flashbacks to Roland’s childhood within those. In Book Four: Wizard and Glassthe bulk of the story is a flashback to a formative event in Roland’s early adulthood.
  • Inverted in Memento, which flashes forward at intervals until the movie ends in the middle of the story.
  • The Saw films do this extensively as a means of explaining the convoluted plots and building character development, even when many of the main characters are dead in the ‘current’ timeline.
  • Saving Private Ryan plays around with its flashback a bit. It starts with an Age Cut into the flashback, except the old man in the graveyard is Private Ryan, not Captain Miller seen in the landing craft. Ryan isn’t in the flashback at all until the final battle, and couldn’t have remembered everything shown first-hand. (It is, however, possible that the story is relayed to Ryan through Upham).
  • Batman Begins uses the non-congruous Nolan style jump. First, we go back and forth between Bruce in a Chinese prison and being trained by the League of Shadows to a young Bruce being rescued from a well by his father and watching his parents’ death. When Ra’s asks Bruce what inspired his travels, another lengthy flashback is used that documents Bruce witnessing Joe Chill’s death and his encounter with Carmine Falcone.
  • Arrow: Every episode divides its time between Oliver Queen’s activities in the present as a vigilante and the events in his past that led to his becoming one.
  • Firefly: The episode “Out of Gas” which jumps between three time periods: the current time frame (the actions of a dying Mal), a short time in the past (the events that led to Mal’s current situation) and a more distant past (how Mal’s crew was recruited, including the ship itself).
  • How I Met Your Mother: Because this show, in essence, has every episode as a flashback, along with its quick editing, it’s hard to tell where flashbacks end and begin, or if a Flash Forward (such as Barney’s brother’s wedding) really counts as a flash forward or if the rest of the episode is a flashback compared to the flash forward. No one seems to mind, though, because everyone can still follow the storyline.
  • Revolution: Close to the level of Once an Episode. “Pilot” had a flashback on the Matheson family just before the blackout. “Chained Heat” had a flashback focusing on Ben retrieving his work and Rachel Matheson handling the Wiry Stranger. “No Quarter” had a flashback focusing on Miles Matheson, Sebastian Monroe, and Jeremy Baker. “The Plague Dogs” had a flashback of Maggie being taken in by the Mathesons, as well as a flashback of Rachel putting herself in the custody of Miles. “Soul Train” had a flashback focusing on Tom Neville and his family. “Sex and Drugs” had a flashback focusing on Aaron Pittman and his wife Priscilla. “The Children’s Crusade” had a flashback focusing on Ben, Rachel and Randall Flynn. “Ties That Bind” had a flashback focusing on Nora Clayton and her sister Mia. “Kashmir” used hallucinations instead of flashbacks. “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” had a flashback focusing the relationship between Miles and Monroe. “The Stand” had a flashback of Ben and Rachel putting Danny through an experimental procedure. “Ghosts” had a flashback focusing on Randall Flynn and the loss of his son. “The Song Remains the Same” had absolutely no flashbacks. “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” had a flashback focusing on the relationship between Miles and his former protege Alec Penner. “Home” had a flashback focusing on the relationship between Miles, Monroe, and Emma. “The Love Boat” had absolutely no flashbacks. “The Longest Day” had a flashback expanding on the reasons Rachel turned herself in to the custody of Miles. “Clue” had absolutely no flashbacks. “Children of Men” had a flashback focusing on the relationship between Ben and Rachel before and after the blackout. “The Dark Tower” had a flashback revealing the circumstances that led to Miles trying to assassinate Monroe.
  • In Digimon, during series one and two most of the Digidestined have flashbacks of family deaths, such as Izzy and Cody, who have flashbacks about their parents’ deaths, Ken has his brother Sam’s death, and Tai has the time that he almost was responsible for his sister Kari’s demise. Owikowa also had flashbacks, to show how and Hiroki (Cody’s dad) were friends, and how alone he felt after Hiroki died. TK often has flashbacks about Angemon’s sacrifice to stop Devimon, and Ken has flashbacks of his time as the Digimon Emperor.

Links:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlashBack

http://literarydevices.net/flashback/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashback_(narrative)