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Not to be confused with Mary Sue, a Peggy Sue fic gives a character, usually at the end of a story or series, the chance to go back and relive his life with the knowledge he gained from living through his story the first time. This sometimes uses a Death Fic-type setup as a starting point, where one of the things the character intends to do with his knowledge is prevent the death of a loved one -- or himself.

It can turn out that they're perpetuating a time loop. Or, less commonly, breaking it.

In some hands, this can turn into a Fix Fic.

While this might seem as a recipe for an overly powerful character, the Peggy Sue is not without its risks. Often the only way they made it through the first time was because of fate or luck giving them Plot Armor, a luxury that they will be unlikely to have a second time around, though they can try for Tricked-Out Time. They may also have to deal with a weaker and less experienced body, mental baggage, gaps in their knowledge regarding past events, negative reactions by anyone who realizes that they know things they shouldn't, or worst of all, that another, less friendly, individual has also pulled the same stunt.

The trope name comes from the 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married starring Kathleen Turner and Nicolas Cage, in which Turner's character was able to relive her high school days. (Of course, the film title itself was a Buddy Holly reference.)

Noting the above, it needs to be reiterated: this is not a sister trope to Mary Sue, despite the name (and yes, the Sue index causes some confusion here, we know). In the hands of a poor writer, the character can gain Mary Sue-like traits (knowing exactly how everything will happen and thus managing to get a "perfect" result from every scenario, etc) but generally the two do not intersect -- if anything the experience is often unpleasant for the character in question. The original Peggy Sue was disoriented and frightened by her experience, for example.

Compare Groundhog Day Loop, in which the Mental Time Travel is a repeating short-term loop; for loops which repeat but which are nevertheless on the same scale as a Peggy Sue, see Groundhog Peggy Sue. New Game+ and Save Scumming are variants of doing this in a videogame. Also see All Just a Dream, for which this trope is often played as a resolution. For fanfiction, this trope can follow The Stations of the Canon.

Warning: Possible spoilers

Examples of Peggy Sue include:

Fanfic

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel

  • The Journeyverse turns Xander into a massive Marty Stu, then gives him a Peggy Sue and carries Faith, Dawn, and Giles along for the ride. It is also a Mega Crossover.
  • Here is Gone gives Spike (former Big Bad) a Peggy Sue after he completes his Heel Face Turn and acquires his soul.
  • Cordelia's Wish sends Cordelia back so she can join the Scooby Gang from day one... Her efforts to turn it into a Fix Fic go rather disastrously wrong, however, landing squarely in Cosmic Horror Story territory, as the tropes list indicates.
  • M. McGregor's I Am What I Am sends the soul of a dying 97-year-old Xander back in time to take over his own body during That Halloween Episode. He takes a rather more direct approach than in most examples of the trope.
  • Yahtzee (no, not that one) has a fic called Two Steps Back that gives this idea an interesting twist. After his final battle, Angel is given a device that can send him backwards through his life, a little farther each time; he can use it as many times as he wants, but he can't go forward again. Angel thinks he'll only need one jump to fix everything, but he soon learns how easily "knowing then what you know now" can lead to disaster...

Harry Potter

  • Nightmares of Future Past is probably the best of this sort. Although well-written, Harry's future knowledge and skills make him extremely powerful, extremely quickly.
    • To be fair, though, Harry's foreknowledge creates as many problems as it solves, and arguably becomes all but moot as the story progresses. As for his becoming extremely powerful, there is an explanation for it, and it doesn't seem to come into play very much.
  • Backward With Purpose: Always and Always complicates the premise in three ways: 1) Harry, Ron, and Ginny go back, 2) The Lost Prophecy has changed as well, bringing For Want of a Nail to unpredictable levels, and 3) the author seems to have had the whole fic planned out before posting the first chapter.
    • And then its sequel, The Book of Albus has Albus Severus Potter travel back in time and he indirectly interacts with his own parents when they traveled back in Always and Always. Again, signs that the author has everything planned out.
  • Wastelands of Time is only the most recent in a long series of Harry failing to save the world. And trying his hardest anyway.
  • From the Flame to the Spark is among the rare breed that features Ginny Weasley as the only time-traveler, though other characters are affected by fragments of the future that comes back in Ginny's wake. Features a believable determinator!Ginny, hardened from leading the DA during the year Harry was Undesirable No. 1, that doesn't even attempt to keep events close to the original timeline. At only half-way through Harry's first school-year, three horcruxes are already destroyed, and Snape has died fighting Quirrell.
  • His Own Man, has Harry return to the summer before his first year after meeting Dumbledore in the other King's Cross Station. He ends up far closer to the other Houses than he was in canon, especially the Slytherins, and the Malfoy family in particular.
  • Furious Angels features Ginny Weasley, rather than Harry Potter, returning to the past. The return is incomplete, however, so she doesn't quite remember details from the future very often, or very completely, and this causes problems.
  • The Moment It Began, in which Snape goes back to the point where he called Lily a mudblood. It's really a very good story.
  • Back Again, Harry? by JediButtercup: A most unusual Peggy Sue fic, one that refuses the usual powerups and exceptional maturity in favor of sending Harry back from his visit to Kings Cross Station in Deathly Hallows to a certain night spent staring into the Mirror of Erised.
  • Reunion by Rorschach's Blot: A parody of Peggy Sue fics, starring Harry, Hermione, Luna, and Susan Bones as the returnees. They're on a mission to take the timeline and tie it into a pretzel.
  • Oh God Not Again by Sarah1281: So maybe everything didn't work out perfectly for Harry. Still, most of his friends survived, he'd gotten married, and was about to become a father. If only he'd have stayed away from the Veil, he wouldn't have had to go back and do everything again. Also, because the Veil was the method of time travel, he finds out that Sirius time traveled as well. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Curse of Fate by Mistress Nika: Immortal Harry, after watching friends and family die over thousands of years, only wants to join his loved ones in death. Believing he's found a way, he sends himself back into the body of his infant self, vowing to change his fate. A really hilarious crack fic; Harry manages to convince the Death Eaters that he is the reincarnation of the Dark Lord; Hilarity Ensues. Also, find out just how many Death Eaters ("here to kill you") can fit into a phone booth.
  • Mirror of Maybe by Midnight Blue: An old fic from before Order of The Phoenix where Harry isn't technically time traveling -- he's just had a very long look through a clairvoyant magical object. SuperPowered!Harry + SnapeSlash may scare people away.
  • Fox Ears by The Starhorse: The Weasley family is deep in mourning after the battle of Hogwarts, but George has better ideas than to sit around and cry about something he'd rather just fix. And Charlie believes he can do it.
  • Sisyphus by esama: Takes a twist on the general Peggy Sue plotline; Harry gets another chance - and another and another... After a while they stop feeling like chances at all. Very well-written and be prepared for a hint of dark, morbid humour.
  • In This World and the Next by robst: Harry and Hermione are sentenced to death for killing Ron the Death Eater, but are saved when the Dementor explodes and sent back in time to visit various strife on the Weasleys and Dumbledore, among others.

Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

  • The questionably titled but quite nicely written Begin the Begin by Aromassa has the post-finale, married Lois and Clark accidentally going all the way back to the Pilot and their first meeting, and rebuilding the events of the show from there.
  • Zoomway's Kerth-nominated The Persistence of Memory has more intentional bits of time-travel, with the protagonists going back to revisit and correct some of the key moments in their relationship.

Naruto

  • Time Braid sends Sakura on one of these - every time she dies, or something 'breaks the timeline', she wakes up in her old body on the first day of the Chuunin exam. Eventually, she becomes knowledgeable enough to link up with the other 'loopers' (Naruto, Sasuke, and later Hinata) and figure out what's going on - and break the loop. Of course, things aren't all sunshine and roses - Sasuke is a psychotic maniac, and the first time she meets the looping Hinata she gets demolished by a shattered, hateful ball of bile and lethality - after all, Hinata has been living the same *week* for years - from the first day of the Chuunin exams... to her death at the hands of Neji during the preliminaries.
  • Sasuke gets sent back (as an adult) in Two Steps Back, and adopts Naruto in order to give him a better childhood this time.
  • This Time Around sends both Naruto and Sasuke back to save everything.
  • Mixed With the Lightning of Slaughter beautifully subverts this by sending Sasuke back (from presumably some point near the end of the series)...but he may be going insane from the mind-breaking stress of involuntary time-travel.
  • Reload Also has Naruto and Sasuke doing the time warp again. Only it's been thousands of times, and all they want to do this time around is drink, party, and kill that damn cat. The end result is a very, very crazy Naruto who uses the power of SCIENCE! and an equally crazy Sasuke who has no gender identity -- or, at most, a decidedly female one. At the start of one repeat, Naruto convinces Sasuke(-chan) to go on a road trip; their ultimate goal is a Ramen Festival in Suna. Inuzuka Hana joins them as the Only Sane Man. Then we're introduced to Naruto's most frightening creation -- Keisei. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Word of God supposedly says that they're actually now free of the loops. Whatever happens now is going to happen period.
  • Don't know why there aren't a hundred examples just in this category, considering the size of the Naruto fandom in ffnet alone, but here's an up-and-comer for ya. A Second Chance For a Frozen Heart, definitely fits into both Death Fic and Fix Fic, though the death was canon. And if you can't figure out who just from the title, you don't read Naruto. Summary: Given a second chance to save people precious to him Naruto accepts and bonds with the Kyuubi. Now back at the age of Nine he gets ready to save a certain swordsman and his pupil. NaruXfemHaku
  • A Chance At The Road Not Taken
  • Here's a very interesting take on it. Afterthoughts. Summary: Time-travel, that is not really time-travel. Naruto makes his way from his first day as a genin, with a 'feel' about how he should do things as a shinobi, and dreams about what 'a' future holds.
    • From the looks of it, it really is a time-travel fic, and not one where Naruto suddenly gets precognitive powers. This is evidenced when Jiraiya sends word to the Sandaime in ch. 2 (I think) and says Naruto may be acting strangely.
    • An older version of Naruto from an alternate dimension is sending him random memories. He doesn't get all of the memories from his alternate self, so it's really more of a limited precognition of a possible future than actual time travel.
  • False Memories by Relden Calder: At the Chuunin exams, the Kage's Box where the Hokage, his wife, the Kazekage and the Kage's aides are sitting gets attacked by person or persons unknown.
    Fifteen years in the past, Naruto, Hinata, Gaara, Shikamaru and Temari wake up with all the memories they accumulated up to the attack -- despite the fact they're just ten years old. Features excellent characterisation, very good grammar, and a fascinating plot that never breaks verisimilitude.
  • In Myriad Ways by Charles Bhepin: It's a Peggy Sue with a twist: Naruto slowly goes completely insane. Sent back in time by the Shinigami to just before the Chuunin Exam, Naruto...well, just read it for yourself.
  • Time and Again by KyLewin: Essentially this story is a deconstruction of the usual Naruto goes back in time fanfiction. The main difference is that, unlike most other Peggy Sue fics, Naruto not only has a hard time readjusting to his 12 year old body for the first few days, but he also doesn't even believe that he is in the past; instead, he is convinced that he is trapped in some kind of super illusory world. It gets better and worse for Naruto and his friends as he tries to change the village's fate for the better.
    • Akatsuki Daybreak: The sequel, Here and Now, is out, and if the first chapter is any indication, it will reach the same heights as the original.
  • The Tragedy of Repetition, by Rurouni12065: Instead of waking up in his twelve-year-old body, Naruto (who goes by Nanashi) exists as a separate entity to his younger counterpart. Puts a refreshing spin on the Set Right What Once Went Wrong time-traveling fics. In addition, this is perhaps the first fic that not only pulls off a believable Naruto/Anko pairing, but one where she doesn't come across as a creepy pedophile.
  • For The Love of My Friends by Foxie-sama: An excellently written fic, the story is actually very believable and the characters stay in character. Recommended to any Naruto fans.
  • The Benefits of Omnipotence is a rather witty take on the genre that avoids overpowering Naruto. In fact, the biggest story arc so far happens when Haku and Zabuza kidnap Naruto after he reveals that Gato would have betrayed them, which your typical Marty Stu Naruto would've gotten out of.
  • Time Travel For Beginners Naruto and Sasuke try to "fix fic" their lives as Peggy Sues, but... It doesn't quite work out. Hilarity Ensues.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

  • Done to death in the Evangelion fandom, to the point where it's become an Epileptic Tree for the Rebuild of Evangelion movies. Considering the original End of Eva basically tore a hole in the fabric of reality, the possibility of that happening is the least surprising.
  • The most notable, though the least acessible, example is the Evangelion Doujinshi RE-TAKE, which shows much of the later half of the series as Shinji's dream. Of course this doujin, despite the Hentai, is also Original Flavour for Eva, so things go horribly wrong, such as Asuka dying in the second volume after being unable to sync with her Eva anymore and it being forced to self destruct for example.
    • This gets subverted entirely in Volume 3, when it turns out it's not really a Peggy Sue, but the original Shinji's consciousness sort-of possessing his analogue's body in an Alternate Universe. In the end, Shinji changes that parallel universe for the better, gets his taste of happiness, but recognizes he can't take back what he messed up the first time, and winds up back on the beach from EoE with Asuka, wiser, happier, and better-adjusted, but with nothing in the past really changed. Oh, and the Shinji he possessed and the local Asuka analogue forget everything that happened during the comic. At least they get to work out their issues in peace.
  • To counterpoint the above, Crazy-88's Once More with Feeling has up to the current point of the story, generally positive results of Shinji going back in time. This can be explained by him having gone back to before stuff began going downhill fast, and having a spine shoved in him during the time travel. Still, it's a good story so far. It has its own Tropes Page now.
  • Yet another straight up and well written example is Higher Learning by Strike Fiss, although the Peggy Sue is not immediately apparent.
  • The Second Try by Jimmy Wolk is something of a subversion; Shinji and Asuka travel back in time, but they leave their daughter behind. Emotional and well written.
  • Yet another one (by a troper!): Taking Sights has Gendo go back instead of Shinji. Also a subversion of the common Fix Fic aspects of this genre.
  • Better Luck Next Time subverts this trope so hard, it hits Dark Fic territory.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Redux has all three pilots go back; in fact, Shinji realizes that his death acts as a Reset Button (but he, the girls and the Angels all have Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory) and he can also manipulate how far they go back. Asuka still hates Shinji with a passion which temporarily increases to near-psychotic levels when he and Rei abuse the resets for constructive purposes... but always jumping back to a point of time a split-second before Asuka's face meets a door half a world away. Repeat this a few hundred times and no wonder she's pissed.
  • There's at least one story (Home) that has Asuka going back and trying to hi-jack the plot. It ended up as a Dead Fic before much could happen with it.
  • Unbroken has Asuka taking care of a near-catatonic Shinji after Third Impact for several months, until he disappears. Then Lilith/Rei shows up and sends Asuka back to just before Leliel with instructions to stop Shinji's descent into despair... but Asuka still has her own mental problems to sort out. It certainly doesn't help that her first attempt at being honest with her feelings resulted in Shinji going paranoid and shutting into himself even more, convinced that she's messing with him for her own amusement.

Ranma ½

  • Ringmaster's The Demon's Contract.
  • Lord Archive's Second Chances features an emotionally-shredded Akane going back in time via a wish from Urd to both prevent Ranma's eventual death and make their lives together happier.
  • Actor in the Mirror is a well-written straight example that is quite enjoyable.
  • Parodied in the short story Deja Vu All Over Again by Scott Jamison, wherein Akane is given a magical amulet which will take her back to the day she met Ranma so she can make sure their relationship gets off on the right foot -- only to discover that a similar amulet has been given to every other girl chasing him as well when they all show up within minutes of each other.
  • Ranma, the Second Time Around, which is set to break one million goddamned words.
    • Already has, still not at 100 chapters yet.
  • Toyed with in The Bet: Study in Scarlet, where Akane found a way back to the day Ranma arrived after an ill-worded wish dropped her in a far-future era long after Ranma's bloodline died out, and she spent several centuries getting back (in the process becoming a legendary and universally-feared villain in that era). Problem is she seems to have forgotten a lot about human society (one does not use pain-inflicting pressure points to impress a prospective mate, even if putting them through a wall would somehow slide).

Miscellaneous

  • The Lost fanfic Knowing Lost, rather than having a canon character go back in time, opens with two rabid Lost fans from the real world waking up in the wreckage of Oceanic 815 after having a Cryptic Conversation on the flight home from the finale party. The fic is Better Than It Sounds and takes itself very seriously, with one character (Ryan) doing everything he can to fix the show's many problems, while the other (Kevin) tries to keep things in line and stay detached from the events unfolding around him. It appears the "course correction" that prevented the canon characters from changing the past in season 5 is in effect and hinders Ryan's attempts change the most painful events in the show.
  • A rather strange example occurs in the Sonic the Hedgehog fanfics (link unavailable because apparently they're on an "adult" site) A Rose And A Thorn 3 and A Rose And A Thorn 4. The OC 'Project: Mirage' loses everything -- including her lover Espio and her vision -- at the end of ARAAT3, and then with Sonic's help uses the Time Stones to try and re-write history in ARAAT4. She -- and the reader -- learn many strange things about the events on the ARK, including the possibility that she is perpetuating a time loop that may have been going round for centuries, and the uncertainty of whether Espio reminded her of a former love on ARK -- known as Project: Midnight -- or that Midnight reminded her of Espio.
  • Blast to the Past has Silver, Blaze and Princess Elise thrown back in time in an Archie/Fleetway mixed Mobius, when Sonic and Eggman were apparently friends. Knowing that the Metarex, the antagonists of the fic, were attempting to alter the timeline to take over Mobius and the universe, Elise ensures that the plot doesn't come to fruition. However... in doing so, it turns out that Princess Elise herself was the one responsible for turning Eggman evil, very much the same way Sonic was responsible in the Fleetway comic.
  • The Persona 4 fic Fortune no Hikari is an interesting take on this. In it the main character goes back in time to the start of the game after one of the Downer Endings. However he's unable to come up with a way to save the Sacrificial Lamb character at the start without making himself look suspicious and thus fails to save her. He also opts to let a lot of things play their course since he knows it will work out in the end and is afraid trying to change it will make things worse. He does however cause a few minor changes, such as preventing a friend from doing something stupid to get the police off their case, use his knowledge of the future to start of on better terms with his uncle, and subtly give a few hints to cause his two friends to admit their feelings and become a couple almost right away rather than go on with the Ship Tease for months on end.
  • The Stargate SG-1 fanfiction To Return The Way I Was Before twists this by giving Daniel Jackson amnesia, making him forget everything that has happened since a particular moment on Abydos. Why this moment is never explained.
  • Time Paradox is a Final Fantasy fic where Cloud, one he gets his life sorted out, gets sent back in time against his will and placed in an alternate reality where everyone else is either a Cloudcuckoolander, The Wonka, Ax Crazy, ~Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!~, Crazy Awesome, and... okay, summary: Cloud Strife is the Only Sane Man and a Peggy Sue to a universe that he really isn't bothered about changing the fate of. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Another FFVII one that needs to be mentioned is Fusion, where Cloud is given the chance by Aeris to go back to his life in the military and to try to save Sephiroth. This was written long before the Compilation came out, so some of the characterizations obviously differ from the later installments, and some of them coincide (like Cloud angsty-self in Advent Children). This is a Slash Fic and it's sadly dead.
  • Martian Manhunter is a Veronica Mars/Buffy the Vampire Slayer fusion in which a college-age Veronica is inserted into the Buffyverse as a high school student along with enough of her surroundings to make her past make sense. Only the Veronica Mars half of it is a Peggy Sue in the strict sense, but the Buffy half often functions in much the same way, as Veronica's a fan...
  • The Chosen is an 'Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic that features three twists on the basic Peggy Sue premise. First, it's Ozai who gets to go back in time following his defeat at the hands of Avatar Aang. Second, Ozai lives over his entire lifetime from age 15 onward multiple times, totaling several hundred years at the least. Third, the canon timeline is the last and final loop Ozai ever experiences.
  • Meltalviel's For Good is a story which starts off a year after Wicked ends and throws Glinda into the body of herself (Galinda) shortly before "Dear Old Shiz." Thrown for a twist in that she immediately decides to change things for good and that she's not the only one finding herself back at Shiz.
  • The fight against Galaxia doesn't go well, so Usagi uses the Ginzuisho to go back in time... and ends up a bit farther back than expected in Third Time's The Charm .
    • Technically, something similar happened in the manga canon.
      • Actually, the fic does acknowledge this. It's a sort of "back again -- again" setup.
  • Vive, Vale, Gaude has Ryou Fujibayashi encounter a distraught Tomoya in the hospital where she works. She discovers that he lost everything: Nagisa and Ushio. She encounters a wish shop (which may be a CLAMP reference) and she is then sent back in time, where she attempts to ensure things flow smoothly so that they might be able to avoid that fate.
  • Mandi Paugh's Mega Man Fanfic Powered Down has a variation of this. Mega Man switches bodies with his counterpart from the PSP remake of the first game, Mega Man Powered Up, eventually attempting to use his knowledge to prevent Mega Man 2 from ever happening. Unlike other Peggy Sue fics, it doesn't affect his own timeline, but he's still using knowledge of his own future to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • 4chan's /co/ has a copypasta fic involving King Arthur getting a chance to start over. He asks Merlin to change the female squirrel who pursued him in one sequence of Disney's The Sword In The Stone into a human to be his friend and companion (and implicitly his wife rather than Guinevere).
    • The T-rated story is here.
  • Halfway through ITS MY LIFE! the main character has killed almost everyone and accidentally finds a time machine. She points out that it may be her possibility to fix everything, but she first gets too early and then too late and ends up fighting another self-based villain entirely.
  • Hogyoku Ex Machina has this premise with a few twists from the usual. It has Ichigo and Aizen travel from the final battle back three months to when Aizen betrayed Soul Society. Then within minutes Ichigo yells out that time travel shenanigans are going on, which other characters are quickly able to confirm. Finally, although Ichigo keeps his power-ups while Aizen loses his, it ends up being a more even playing field than one would expect.
  • In the Star Wars fic Shadows of the Future, Obi-Wan is killed by Anakin at Mustafar. The Force then sends him back to when they first met during the Naboo crisis 13 years earlier and works to connect with Anakin better this time, becoming more of a cool Big Brother Mentor rather than the cold and aloof one he was before. Well, after he's done spending the first few chapters thinking he's been captured by the enemy or has gone insane.
  • Fate ReNight is a Peggy Sue fic for the Fate/stay night Visual Novel, where Shirou accidentally activates the remains of the Grail and wishes himself back from the end of the Fate route to the moment he summoned Saber. What's notable about this fic is that it is both the first Fate/stay night fic of this type and, while the author is a self-admitted Saber/Shirou fan, he seems to take a sadistic glee in the fact that Fate Shirou lacks a lot of the knowledge revealed in other routes (Archer's identity, Sakuya's situation etc), and because of this most all of Shirou's attempted fixes have backfired/are in the process of backfiring. He has recently begun to play with the dream-sharing between Servants and Masters, which likely is going to complicate Shirou's efforts to conceal the time travel thing from Saber.
  • In a Victorious future fic, Tori, as the Only Sane Woman, was the only one of her friends who was well adjusted enough to make it in the real world but became very Lonely At the Top over the years. After Cat is killed, Sikowitz offers to send Tori back to the pilot so she can put things right but she still wants to enact some good things about her Bad Future, namely Beck and Trina's daughter, Tori's beloved niece.
  • Old Souls picks up after Avengers: Endgame with an entity (implied to be the Soul Stone itself) sending Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff back to the events of Captain America: Civil War so they can keep the Avengers together and prevent Thanos from getting the Stones (ideally by destroying them).
  • A Diamond’s Resolution turns to Revolution has an interesting take on it as Pink Diamond does not undergo Mental Time Travel but received a prophecy from a Sapphire that perfectly predicted the entire series and the consequences of her rebellion. While Pink is able to avert a lot of hardship with this knowledge; namely having a much happier life for Lapis and quickly recovering Spinel; she's also quick to note that, immediately after she made one change; freeing Pearl from servitude; her foreknowledge is now invalid and anything could happen.

Canon

Anime & Manga

  • In Mirai Nikki, this trope soon becomes either the main plot drive or the plot itself, depending on how you interpret it.
  • In Konpeki No Kantai, when Isoroku Yamamoto's plane is shot down in 1943 he wakes up in 1905 in on the cruiser Nisshin just after the Battle of Tsushima and he uses his knowledge to prevent Japan making the mistakes it made.
  • Kaworu Nagisa from Neon Genesis Evangelion seems to get this in multiple media. The Super Robot Wars series gave him dialog implying rather strongly that he went from Alpha to MX and back to Alpha 3. And just to add to it, Rebuild of Evangelion has him saying that he's looking forward to meeting Shinji "this time".
  • To a Distant Town is about a middle-aged Salaryman who finds himself sent back in time into his 14-year-old self.
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni the world is repeatedly reset to a time before the Cotton Drifting festival. Though only Rika remembers what happened in each world.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, the big reveal about Homura is that her wish turned her into one of these. Over and over again.

Film

  • Galaxy Quest gives us the Peggy Sue Applied Phlebotinum Omega 13.
  • Lola Rennt has elements of this: the first time she runs through the day, she can't use a gun and doesn't know where the safety catch is. The second time, she flicks it off with practiced precision.
    • Oddly for this sort of plot, it may extend to other characters. The security guard at the bank seems aware of the loop by the third iteration.
      • Which possibly makes sense if you consider the theory that he is the biological father of Lola, who is described as a "cuckoo's egg" (i.e., either adopted or the result of infidelity) earlier in the movie.
  • In Stargate: Continuum, Ba'al uses time travel to go back seventy years and make a huge number of changes, resulting in him becoming the leader of all the Goa'uld, with almost the entire galaxy enslaved, reinforcing his status as a Dangerously Genre Savvy villain
  • The Butterfly Effect is a variation on the trope, which also deconstructs the hell out of the concept.
  • Next is a film where a character effectively has this (or perhaps something more like Save Scumming) as a power.
  • The "history repeats itself" motif of this allows Marty to take advantage of it at the end of Back to The Future part III. Having got into confrontations with Biff Tannen in 1955, his grandson Griff in 2015 and Biff's ancestor Buford in 1885, Marty is able to resist the urge to prove he's not a chicken when confronted back in 1985... and his future will consequently be different from the one Jennifer saw when she was in 2015 in Part II.
  • The movie Deuxieme vie ("Second Life") is a inverted example of going forward instead of backward. In 1982, the 32-year-old ecologist Vincent Degan has a car accident on the soccer world cup night (after a France defeat). After the impact, he's suddenly on the world cup night of 1998 with everybody yelling "We won." And he's a 48-year-old heartless businessman. His fiancee from 1982 has left him, and his 1998 lover appears to be more interested in Vincent's best friend, Ronny. The end plays the trope straight: a second accident brings Vincent back to 1982, where he uses what he learned in the future to marry his true love, and to convince Ronny that the "airbag" he just manufactured is not so silly an idea.
  • Scott does this in Scott Pilgrim Versus the World after Gideon kills him but it turns out Scott has an extra life. In the original comic, Scott just came back to life, but in the movie, he essentially started over at the beginning of the last level so he could use his prior knowledge of what happens in order to be generally awesome.
  • The pornographic film The New Devil and Mrs. Jones. The Devil allows Mrs. Jones to go back and live life as a slut, no repercussions since she's dead already. She ends up in Purgatory, always on the verge of, but never able to, come.

Literature

  • The epilogue of Stephen King's Dark Tower Series, although it is not clear exactly how much of his knowledge he can take with him in this do-over. At the very least, he has made some spiritual progress in each iteration.
  • Discworld:
    • The entirety of the novel Night Watch could be considered to fall under this trope.
      • Although Night Watch slightly differs from most examples of the trope in that Vimes takes the place of his own mentor 30 years in the past (before returning to the present), rather than reliving his own life, and that he's more or less trying to make things happen the same way he remembers (though he's happy to try to "fix" things that he didn't personally experience).
    • In Going Postal the Patrician tells Moist a parable about how occasionally, when someone has truly screwed their life up beyond repair, an Angel will appear to them and offer to take them back to the point where it all went wrong so they can try one more time. At that point this is just Vetinari trying to make a point in his usual fashion, but then at the end of the book Moist once again finds himself at a metaphorical fork in the road, and... (Around the middle of the book Moist also winds up using it as a rhetorical device to convince someone to do what he wants, or at least confuse them sufficiently to keep listening.)
    • Thief of Time showed Lu-Tze using this as a trick picked up from the Yeti, who had evolved the ability to save up their lives and try again if something goes wrong.
  • In Peter F. Hamilton's Void Trilogy, the Void itself gives people the power to do this, at the cost of consuming the rest of the galaxy to provide the necessary energy.
  • Fred Saberhagen's After the Fact has the main character taught to use his natural talent for this in a plan to secretly rescue Abraham Lincoln from his assassination. It comes in handy that, any time things go wrong, he can reset to a few minutes back and try again. The scene where he accidentally prevents the killing altogether becomes a CMOA for the president, who with a moment's warning singlehandedly clobbers John Wilkes Booth. Unfortunately, that has to be reset, too, since the idea is to rescue Lincoln while still having him appear to be assassinated.

Live Action TV

  • Being Erica: it's the entire premise of the show.
  • Fringe: In "White Tulip," a scientist goes back in time to save his dead fiancee from a car accident. After Walter tells the man of the consequences of his own tampering, the scientist goes back in time to tell his fiancee that he loves her before dying with her.
  • There was a Canadian show in the early-to-mid-'00's called Twice in a Lifetime, about flawed people who'd messed up their lives and died miserably being given a "reprieve" by a heavenly judge and who were sent back to Earth along with a spiritual guide to the most pivotal time in their lives, with three days to change the course of events for the better. They went back with their contemporary bodies, though (like the Discworld example above), and spoke to their own past selves often.
  • The last season of Felicity. Or was it All Just a Dream? (More importantly, who cares?)
  • In "Tapestry", an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard is about to die due to events that happened in his past, and Q sends him back in time to relive his Academy days. Picard reacts to the situation which led to his death in a manner that negates his later death. Changing his past however leads to a change in his personality, and Picard decides that he liked his life better the way it was before, even if he was about to die. Q, having made his point, brings Picard back to the present and saves his life. Unless of course, it was All Just a Dream.
    • Also in TNG, "Cause and Effect" involved the characters realizing they were trapped in a time loop that always concluded with the destruction of the Enterprise, and Data managing to cause a Peggy Sue by sending a message into the next iteration of the loop enabling them to escape.
  • While Sam of Quantum Leap normally leapt back to fix other people's lives, he got to do this for his teenage self in "The Leap Home, Part 1". As the family problems he chooses to tackle aren't the things Al says he's supposed to change, his success isn't assured.
    • In the second episode of the two-parter, he manages to save his brother, who was supposed to die in Vietnam. Unfortunately, this happens at the cost of a reporter's life.
  • Subverted in Eureka -- after Carter receives his future self's memories to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, he intends to use his knowledge to reach his perfectly happy future with the girl he loves. But when little details turn out wrong and puts things off-track, he realizes he cannot rely on those "memories". He eventually has them wiped from his mind to prevent the inevitable anguish.
  • The Twilight Zone episode "Of Late I Think Of Cliffordville" has a business Tycoon selling his soul to Satan in order to relive his life again so he can use his knowledge of the future to build a bigger business empire than the one he has. Not surprisingly, it doesn't end well for him.
    • The episode "Static" ends with a bitter, regret-filled old man living in a retirement home suddenly -- and to his delight -- back as his younger self in the 1940s with the implication that he knows what to change in his life to make it better.

Newspaper Comics

  • In Peanuts, Linus asks Charlie Brown what he would do if he got to live his life over again. Charlie Brown's reaction is to scream in terror.

Webcomics

  • In Wapsi Square, Jin has already gone through the entire plot and failed thousands of times.
  • Sluggy Freelance: In the Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban parody "Torg Potter and the President from Arkansas", the Time Turner from the original is tweaked so that it rewinds the users in time, leaving them but no-one else with memories of what happened next. Instead of going back a few hours as the Hermione analogue intends, Torg uses it to return all the way to the beginning of the story, stomps on the bad guy in his animal form, and goes home, neatly avoiding any possible loose ends and negating the need for him to be involved in the affairs of that annoying school.
  • Homestuck: Four months after John's death due to facing a ridiculously strong monster at low levels, Dave travels back in time, bringing ridiculously powerful weaponry and useful information for the past characters; this is the purpose of Heroes of Time in general, as a form of Trial and Error Gameplay. Also, in a sense this is the purpose of the Scratch, albeit at a much, much larger and unpredictable scale.
  • In the Girl Genius supplemental Othar's Twitter, Othar retires from Heroing and lives for thirty-six years on a deserted island with his wife. Upon her death, he goes back to the mainland and finds that human civilization has been destroyed. Tarvek, the last known human alive, sends his consciousness back to before he retired to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. How canon this is is so far unknown, but there has been nothing in the comic that contradicts it.

Video Games

  • Most video games in general. You die, but you keep coming back armed with the knowledge you gained last time. You know all the traps and the surprise attacks, you know what strategy you should choose.
  • Final Fight One for Game Boy Advance. It's possible to unlock Alpha Guy and Alpha Cody (i.e. Guy and Cody as they appear in the Street Fighter Alpha series) as secret characters in the game, and when playing as them, their dialog shows that the whole experience is a Peggy Sue moment for them, though there isn't really a whole lot to change.
  • The good ending of Shadow Hearts Covenant appears to provide Yuri with a Peggy Sue, placing him back at the beginning of the first game with, presumably, a chance to achieve that game's good ending instead of its canon bad ending.
    • One wonders how Alice surviving, Yuri knowing Albert's motivations from the start, and exactly what messed up Kato would screw with crucial bits of what happened later. Like meeting his mother. [1]
  • This is pretty much the point of the interactive fiction game Tapestry. A man who made some regrettable choices in his life gets to relive the three points where he felt he went most wrong. The three paths available in the game each take a different approach to the Peggy Sue -- he can do it the same and live with his guilt, change what happened, or do it the same but try to understand what happened better. There's no correct ending. If he changes what he does, he feels better about his life, but the new choices cause just as much harm. If he reevaluates his life, he sees that his original decisions weren't as horrible as he believed them to be. Choosing guilt and self-hatred does seem to be the one bad ending, however.
  • The GBA game Astro Boy Omega Factor has this, combining the trope with New Game+. After what looks like a massive, massive Downer Ending in which the world is nearly ruined and Astro dies. The Phoenix revives Astro sending him back to the start of the game. You then need to play through the stages again, Time Travel all around, in order to find the cause of the tragedies and fix everything. In a Running Gag, Astro makes no attempt to hide his knowledge of the future and thoroughly confuses everyone he meets by knowing what they're going to say before they say it.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time allows the player to do this constantly, with a special dagger that can turn back time. Only for a few seconds mind you, but it allows the player to correct mistakes they made during the combat and free running sequences. The very end of the game is a straight example, with the twist that this unleashes the Dahaka.
  • As noted above, any New Game+ is rather like a Peggy Sue story. You get to start your adventure over, but with all the equipment and skills you've gained along the way. This usually makes a huge difference at first and then less and less as the game goes on.
    • Similar to the Astro Boy example, Disgaea and its New Game+ system plays out like this, although with no meta elements: The normal ending, which you will end up getting your first time through, has an incredible Downer Ending -- Laharl confronts the head of the angels, he kills Flonne, and Laharl murders him in a rage. Then it's revealed it was all a failed Batman Gambit to teach Laharl the power of love, if the Angel leader was still alive he could revive Flonne, and that he was supposed to forgive the angels. Laharl kills himself in grief, and you get the "Start a New Game" menu choice. Of course, this time you're high enough level to beat the last boss, yet alone all the hard boss fights on the way, as well as make sure you achieve the canon ending -- by not accidentally killing anyone in your party. Of course, since this is Disgaea, later sequels have cameos from both endings ( In other words, Prinny Laharl and Normal Laharl) in them.
    • Not if you did it for that Infinity+1 Sword that you need to powerup to absurd levels. A lot of players only play up until they beat the game and once new game plus kicks in, they use that instead of continuing into Nintendo Hard territory so that they have more toys to make that Nintendo Hard into something much more passable. That and you can now pick and choose your characters more freely because you know what triggers who and who is actually good at fighting.
    • Also note that if you manage to get BOTH the conditions for the bad/worst endings AND the good ending, you get the good ending.
  • Being a Time Travel game, it's not surprising this shows up in Shadow of Destiny as the New Game+ Good Ending. What is surprising is it results in invariably in getting erased from existence! And these are the best endings! On a more positive note, thanks to Identical Grandson, the lead character may have lived on in a way.
  • At the end of The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Link is sent back in time to his childhood so he can live out the seven years he lost while he was in his magic coma. Using his knowledge of the future, Link warns Zelda of Ganondorf's plans which prevents Ganondorf's rise to power.
  • In Grim Grimoire, this is part of the premise of the game, in that the protagonist is reliving the same five-day sequence repeatedly to avoid dying. It turns out that she's actually been doing this for well over a century, and having her memory wiped (by another version of herself outside the loop but unable to 'escape' until she survives inside the time loop) every twenty-five days, except for the magical knowledge and grimoires she's acquired. By the time it's all resolved, Lillet is arguably the most powerful person alive and incredibly wily, not to mention being one of the few people who've sold their sold to a devil and still have possession of it.
  • Sort of played with in Mortal Kombat 9. The game starts off at the climatic battle of the previous game, Armageddon, which is revealed to have killed off pretty much the entire cast. Shao Kahn has attained ultimate power, and Raiden, having been defeated, sends visions of the events of the entire series to his Mortal Kombat-era self. Things go horribly awry, because past Raiden's acting on incomplete information leads to the deaths of the vast majority of the heroes; leaving it an open question as to what will happen when the next Big Bad, Shinnok, attempts to conquer the realms.
    • Should be noted that many of the events should not have been affected by what Raiden did, most notably Quan Chi being present so early in the story. This, along with the ending, has led to the theory that Shinnok also sent a message back in time, one more complete and leaving him with a better hand for the new version of Mortal Kombat 4.
  • Happens at the beginning of Radiant Historia, where you go back in time to save your companions Marco and Raynie, and the messenger you were escorting as well.
  • The tomb of Ludo Kressh in the second Knights of the Old Republic gives Jedi Exile visions of past events, but the shades openly lampshade the concept -- knowing what you do now, would you make the same choices? Can you live with the choices you made in the first place? The Light Side option is usually to say you regret them, which may be a Broken Aesop.
  • Pretty much the entire point of Ghost Trick. Sissel uses his powers to manipulate objects and turn back time to rescue people before they die, thus changing the present as the characters know it. This all eventually leads up to the final puzzle where the heroes go back in time ten years to prevent the game's Big Bad from dying and ending up in the state that led to his Face Heel Turn.
  • The intro to DC Universe Online shows Lex Luthor and the other villains kill the heroes, including Superman. However, the lack of defenders allows Brainiac to easily conquer Earth and kill off all supers. Luthor manages to escape by going back in time and revealing all this to the heroes, claiming they need to work together to train a super-army in order to fight Brainiac.
  • This happened to the protagonist in Shira Oka Second Chances so he won't screw up his life.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • This was the ending to Mighty Max. The finale reveals that the events of the entire series are part of a time loop, and the episode ends with Max waking up in bed the day the adventure began... only this time, he has all the knowledge of the previous loop, and is determined to finish the Big Bad for good.
  • In the episode of The Batman titled "Seconds", Francis Grey discovered he had a brief version of this power, which he would use to better commit crimes, win fights, and improve his one-liners. At the end of the episode, he overloads this power, and has the chance to go back and not become a criminal at all, which he takes.
  • Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time contains a rare evil example. Lady Tremaine, the evil stepmother, steals the Fairy Godmother's magic wand and uses it to undo the last year of Cinderella's life.
  • Almost every episode of Code Lyoko ends this way.
  • In the non-canon Ben 10 episode, Gwen 10, Ben finds himself sent back to the beginning of summer vacation and tries to recreate the events of the series only for Gwen to get the Omnitrix and Vilgax to arrive much sooner than expected. All that said, Ben's foreknowledge of the aliens' powers and Vilgax's plan does prove vital.
  • In the 3Below episode D'aja Vu, a mixture of Troll magic and Akiridion technology causes the same day to repeat over and over again. When the episode opens, Jim has lived the day thirty times. On the final loop, the Royals and the Trollhunters are able to perfectly use their foreknowledge to piece together what Porgon will do and where he'll be to stop the loop.

Notes

  1. Wait. That sounds awesome. Someone write that!
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