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Let's say you're watching a movie, playing a game, or reading a book. The story is well-told, the characters are engaging, and the settings are beautifully presented. When you finish, you walk away satisfied by what it had to offer.
Later, you decide you're in the mood to experience it again. Maybe you'd like to remember the exact way a quote was phrased, maybe you want to show it to a friend, or maybe you just want to watch it. Whatever the reason, it isn't long before the events are once again playing out in front of you.
But wait, what's this? That Funny Background Event looks suspiciously similar to the final battle. And are these conversations really just idle chitchat? And doesn't that janitor kind of look like the masked crusader that appears later on?
Congratulations, you've discovered this work's Rewatch Bonus! This is where the creators show off just how much work they put into writing the story! You just happened to miss it the first time through because there were bigger things drawing your attention.
Compare Foreshadowing. May result in Fridge Brilliance. Sometimes coincides with Late to The Punchline. Many of these end up being regarded as Cult Classics. This is especially common if the work has a Chekhov's Armory.
Anime & Manga
- So much of the plot of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni involves cryptic conversations, chicanery and deception that watching it again is almost like watching a different story.
- Not to mention that it's out of order, meaning the first storyparts only shows part of the picture (most notably in the case where Keiichi's murder victim is mysteriously moved.).
- The plot of The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya makes much more sense when re-watched chronologically, or at least with the knowledge of what order the episodes take place in.
- Even disregarding the Anachronic Order, this anime has so many hidden details you might notice on the first view that you have to watch it another time to notice. Just as example, did you know the taxi driver of episode 5 (chron.) is very likely to be the butler Arakawa? Or even all the books Yuki reads.. Or the Funny Background Event in "Live A Live". Or... The list goes on and on.
- The first time you FLCL, you're just trying to figure what the hell is going on. See it again, and you'll be noticing little jokes, Shout Outs, and visual metaphors you missed the first time.
- All over the place in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but especially Homura's pained expression when Madoka meets Kyubey for the first time. Well, it's not really the first time. The creators even encouraged the audience to re-watch the series from the beginning after Episode 10 was aired, saying it would change people's perception of Homura.
- One Piece... Where to begin with One Piece? It got the foreshadowing, Easter eggs here and there, trivial lines that will blow up in your face 500 chapters later. And it all just makes perfect sense and shapes the One Piece world and it's characters beyond the first glance.
- Watching RahXephon a second time is a completely different experience, as suddenly all sorts of really minor incidents suddenly seem to be Foreshadowing or Symbolism. More than a few people have claimed to not truly understand the story until rewatching the series.
- Watchmen is like this. Moore stated that this reason alone is why he felt it was un-filmable: there is simply too much detail going on in every panel for a movie to capture all of it.
- The Sandman and its spin-offs have loads of foreshadowing, Arc Welding, and plenty of overlapping sidestories that enrich the series. Usually, people who read the series often reread it once they've finished all the volumes.
- Kyon: Big Damn Hero includes a ton of subtle references to Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. That's even before to have declared to be a fic that also crossovers with Higurashi. For example, right off the bat we have the prologue's Epigraph referencing the Hate Plague.
- Nonjon's Where in the World is Harry Potter? becomes even more hilarious than it already is once you know Nicholas Flamel's secret.
- The Tainted Grimoire has many bits of Foreshadowing which can be caught by reading it again after reaching important plot events.
- The Big Lebowski is a good example: once you've seen it once, and know the twists, you are able to focus on all the in-jokes, and the fantastic details put into the character development, like The Dude dropping J's on the counter when he tries to pay for his coffee. Other Coen brothers movies (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Fargo, etc) often examples of this, due to all the little moments they put into their movies that only repeat viewers pick up on.
- The Big Lebowski is also not that funny the first time. It's a fairly amusing film, but it doesn't get really funny until the third time.
- Fight Club, due to noticing the "clues" that help hint at Tyler Durden not being real.
- The Usual Suspects, due to the twist ending it named.
- The Big Sleep, due to the horribly complicated plot.
- Memento, due to the Anachronic Order.
- The Spanish Prisoner lives and breathes this. There are so many details in the plot that even the third or fourth time you're still finding new ones.
- Reservoir Dogs, due to the Anachronic Order. Orange's plea for White to take him to a hospital comes off less self-sacrificing and even more desperate when you find out he's the cop, for example. The opening scene in particular is loaded and loaded with foreshadowing that you won't pick up on the first couple of times.
- Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (from the same makers) have this in loads. The latter, especially, foreshadows and calls back to everything. It's a whole different movie when you know what's going to happen.
- The Prestige the film is very interesting to watch once you know Christian Bale is playing two characters. It takes some careful analysis of the plot and close attention to the performance, but the two twins have very distinct personalities, and Christian Bale plays them differently, in a subtle way. Even their accents are slightly different, especially when angry or drunk (when the facade is weakest). This is particularly impressive, since it is a subtlety of acting performance that not only won't an audience likely get the first time through, they're NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO. Which leads to an extra bit of Fridge Brilliance when you realize there's another art form that involves the artist doing a lot of work that the audience isn't supposed to notice--magic.
- The "I'll be back" line from the original The Terminator was originally intended to be one of these. It backfired, as the line became more well known for first-time viewers than anyone expected.
- And speaking of being back, for a first time viewer of Scream it seems like Stu's mockingly declaring, "I'll be right back!" instants after being warned not to when Randy explained the rules of surviving a horror movie situation is just another instance of many of Stu being a dumbass. But on repeat viewings we realize the real reason for his confidence and prankish tone is that he knows he genuinely has nothing to fear of breaking any of Randy's rules--as he is one of the killers himself.
- Many Pixar movie have something from an upcoming movie worked in. It'd take the likes of Sherlock Holmes to recognize Nemo as the toy fish Boo handed to Sully in Monsters, Inc., but you'll definitely notice these things on your next viewing of the earlier film.
- The Book of Eli after you learn that Eli is blind, you'll realize all the subtle hints made towards it throughout the film.
- The film Inception has you Mind Screwed the first time, heavily confused the second time because you start looking for signs of dream and reality, and finally by the third time, you might get it.
- The Twist Ending in The Sixth Sense was that The psychologist was dead himself (It Was His Sled), and the movie provides an enormous rewatch bonus seeing all the subtle hints that it was true.
- Sucker Punch, the subtle camera angling doesn't make sense till you actually focus on it, focusing on what i t's focusing on over what it's not.
- Lord of the Rings, simply because it's impossible to absorb a thousand pages of information in one sitting.
- Specially the Prologue, which makes little sense when read before anything else on the books.
- The whole trilogy gains one of these once you've read The Silmarillion - suddenly all those name-drops and random songs make sense.
- The Book of the New Sun has masses of things that go over the readers' head the first time around - such as the fact that Dorcas is Severian's grandmother.
- This counts for every single Gene Wolfe novel and short story. PEACE is a completely different read the third time through. Neil Gaiman notes that on first read PEACE seems to be the quaint memoir of an old man in a dying town, but on the second or third read through, the story is a full blown ghost tale.
- Nearly every Discworld novel happily survives multiple readings. Once you know the surprise that inevitably happens near the end, you can go back and pay attention to all the little things that hinted to it. There are also a whole whack of references and Shout Outs which you may miss the first time. It's also true for the series as a whole; once you've seen how, for example, Lord Vetinari's character ends up, it's extremely satisfying to go back to his first appearance and see his Character Development.
- Malazan Book of the Fallen. Good lord, Malazan. Throughout this ten-book series, Erikson runs with every form of rewatch bonus from subtle foreshadowing ( Karsa casually destroying a small Fener shrine in book #4, House of Chains, the event foreshadowed not happening until the final book in the series) to entire events, characters and subplots that will simply go right over the reader's head or utterly baffle them on first read. Erikson himself has said that the series is written to feel entirely different on a re-read, and many fans who've undertaken the not-inconsiderable feat of re-reading have described it as a massively rewarding experience.
- It's both enlightening and funny to read Daddy Long Legs again after you know that Daddy Long Legs is Jervis Pendleton.
- Harry Potter can give this, since its quite amazing to see all the hidden instances of Foreshadowing and Chekhov's Gun littered throughout the prose.
- The Westing Game has so many such bonuses that, even after (in this troper's case, well over) a hundred times, with each reread you notice some new facet of Sam Westing's manipulations that led to the every single character getting their own individual happy ending. Not to mention tons of foreshadowing and other hints planted throughout the book.
- Wishsong Of Shannara. This was serious Epileptic Trees fuel. In the second reading, there were some strange quotes that separately meant little, but had some serious Fridge Logic issues. The female lead, Brin, travels with the wizard Allanon and Morgan Leah to stop a crisis. Although initially, this seemed like the first two, where their travelling partner ends up marrying them, this reads very different. Morgan, first of all is Jerk with a Heart of Gold, who spends less time actually being useful, and more time defending Allanon when he's supposed to be defending her. After getting sick, and breaking his sword, they take a Ten-Minute Retirement at the house of Cogline and Kimber Boh. It becomes clear that Brin has virtually no interest in Morgan, feeling that he is too much controlled by his magic sword, and worse, too much under the thumb of Allanon. On the other hand, she quickly becomes close friends with Kimber, to the point that Kimber agrees to lead her through the marshes. When she's done with the quest, she says some kind words or something to Morgan, but she embraces Kimber. Allanon later gives her the stock advice on what was really going on, as he did in the previous two books (though this time as a shade), saying that her magic is more or less centered around transformation than creation or destruction, and that she can become "anything", good or evil. "Anything?" she asks. There's clearly something not being said here... It seems likely that Brin used her magic to have a sex-change, in order to have a child with Kimber, rather than face a loveless marriage with Morgan. This would also explain Allanon's strange warning to "never use the wishsong again."
- Jossed by the author, not once but twice, claiming that she married Morgan Leah. But it's obvious the author is lying or something. Also, supposedly the two families met near the end of three hundred years, but that sounds too much of a coincidence. For one thing, she was living outside of town with an old man, and seemed to have few to no prospects of marriage, since the townspeople avoided the place. Also, Morgan has no Druidic powers, where Walker Boh Ohmsford does.
- If you reread Warrior Cats, you notice all sorts of foreshadowing that you'd have missed the first time, especially with the original series and Power of Three. For the original series, this includes things such as, Yellowfang's affair with Raggedstar, the true parentage of Mistyfoot and Stonefur, and Tigerclaw trying to get his apprentice killed. If you reread Power of Three after finishing the series you notice that the whole thing with Leafpool was really obvious.
- Arrested Development often has jokes that only make sense after you've seen later episodes.
- The Rita storyline in particular stands out. Who would have thought the behaviour of a spy and a Mentally Retarded Female could be so similar?
- Mystery Science Theater 3000. In too many episodes to name, it's impossible to catch all the jokes in the first viewing, because you're too busy laughing at the jokes that came immediately before them. Or simply didn't laugh because you didn't get the reference, but laughed hard once later when you did.
- For Babylon 5, this was called Holographic Storytelling, that if you read two scripts, went back and reread the first one, you could see things in it that you hadn't seen before. When you read three, again glanced over the first - and new things had come out.
- The fourth season of NCIS. After the season finale Reveal, the entire Tony gets a girlfriend plotline becomes much more interesting.
- The Mighty Boosh gets a lot better on repeat viewings. Part of this may be because of the way the stories meander and don't necessarily seem to be going anywhere. Once you've seen the episodes once, you can just enjoy the ride and the jokes on repeat viewings.
- The new series of Doctor Who can be like this at time. The RTD era means that it can be fun to look out for barely noticeable arch words such as "Bad Wolf", "Torchwood", "Harold Saxon", missing planets and "The bees are disappearing!" The Moffat series are good for a re-watch purely because of the extreme amounts of timey-wimey-ness, espeically in relation to River Song's arch. There's so much Foreshadowing, Call Backs and Book Ends that entire lines and scenes can gain a new meaning.
- Joss Whedon enjoys doing this, pointing out the Blue Sun posters in the backgrounds of the pilot episode of Firefly in his commentary.
- Sherlock is crammed just chock-full of these; they're mostly minor details and subtle character interactions, but they're genius.
- Cyberswine: This is a game that you must play more than once. That is because some of the dialogue will make references to scenes that you will only know about if you made decisions that led to those scenes. Also, some of the dialogue consists of cryptic conversations that will make sense when you play the game for the second time.
- Many of the more open-ended Video Games fall into this trope, either because you see new ways through a Wide Open Sandbox level you didn't see before, or playing on a different difficulty level or as a different character cause the game to play out differently.
- Shadow Hearts: Covenant has a twist ending that... Does something to the character dynamics. The female lead character falls in love with the main character... Who turns out to be her son, thanks to little time travel incident at the end. Thankfully the relationship never went anywhere beyond one-sided crush, so it's all just a bonus to the game's pervy humour.
- In Call of Duty Black Ops Viktor Reznov, the Red Army sergeant from World at War, is a prominant character during the story of Black Ops thirty years later. We first see him as a fellow prisoner in a Russian prison camp who escapes with Alex Mason, the protagonist. They are seperated, but Reznov turns up years later as a Russian defector and joins Mason's MACV-SOG unit on their various black ops, going as far as wearing an American uniform; he actually blends in frighteningly well with American Marines whenever they're around. MACV-SOG has a precident for this in the form of Grigori Weaver, another Russian defector whom Mason has to assure others is trustworthy despite being Russian. It turns out Reznov died in the camp and from then on is actually a figment of Mason's imagination, Fight Club style. He's wearing an American uniform because Mason is replacing a random American with Reznov in his mind, but the player finds nothing strange about Reznov joining the unit and wearing the uniform because of previously seeing Weaver. Because Reznov is also an Ensemble Darkhorse, the unbelievability is further mitigated by the fact that a weak excuse is satisfactory if it allows him to have more screen time. Several innocent moments and seemingly unimportant lines of dialog are actually the people around Mason questioning his sanity as they notice fleeting moments where he's talking to someone who isn't there, but they're all cleverly disguised; the one time someone simply says "What the fuck is wrong with you?" to Mason, it seems as though he's chastising Mason for being startled and making noise when they're supposed to be keeping quiet.
- Mass Effect as a series has this due to Multiple Endings, but the Overlord DLC has a different form. Throughout the mission, you hear a noise that sounds like random static multiple times, until you get to the end and hear it with no distortion. The next time you play, you will very clearly hear QUIET PLEASE MAKE IT STOP every time you play.
- Fable 3 "They will bow to my will or they will burn", eh Logan?
- Final Fantasy VIII uses very subtle storytelling techniques to describe its characters. Big Bad Ultimecia is a HUGE victim of this, as it's not clear people are referring to her origin unless you play the game the second time and note when she is speaking through someone else.
- Batman: Arkham City is loaded with these. There is much Foreshadowing to the endgame.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum has this to a much lesser extent. One of the things the player will notice is that the Joker will applaud the player for trying to sequence break.
- Ghost Trick definitely warrants a replay once you learn that Sissel is a cat.
- The World Ends With You contains a thick and complex plot that tends to be easy enough to follow on the first playthrough. However, during a second playthrough, perspective will alter your perception of the storyline, most noticeably everything regarding Joshua. It happens again after you've played through the game again and gotten all the secret reports, this time with Hanekoma.
- Most notably, the opeining movie actually sums up the entire plot, but you won't know until a second playthrough. Even the biggest spoileriffic detail is there, though it's a Freeze-Frame Bonus.
- Valkyria Chronicles is another example of an opening movie that makes more sense after beating the game. It contains scenes from the last few chapters, and there's even a glipse of Valkyria!Alicia. Some cutscenes in the main game benefit from a second viewing too, e.g. Isara's "I want to fly my brother" line makes absolutley no sense the first time you hear it, until you learn she's building a plane. And if you replay the game after finishing the DLC, you'll never feel the same way about having to fight Oswald the Iron in chapter 10...
- Illbleed generally doesn't have too much to warrant a replay, but after the true ending, and on the offchance you play the game again, you'll notice something interesting in the intro: the monster that was chasing Eriko was her dad, Michael Reynolds.
- Katawa Shoujo has a lot of this. Even after getting One Hundred Percent Completion you probably still need to replay each girl's story route at least 2-3 times in order to truly catch and understand everything. Shizune's route in particular is so full of subtext that a lot of things, including pretty much the entire emotional element of Shizune and Hisao's relationship tends to go over a lot of players heads on the first play through unless they are really paying attention.
- Homestuck. It's pretty much impossible to catch everything the first time around (Andrew once claimed that you could read it 10 times and not catch all the Call Backs, Continuity Nods, Ironic Echoes, Leitmotifs, Running Gags, Foreshadowing, and the like), so you're bound to pick up on these while rereading. Hell, given the Kudzu Plot, unless you read TV Tropes or the forums it's not impossible you won't pick up on major plot threads until the second time around.
- Futurama. It's hard to notice everything in one episode.
- By extension, the first Futurama movie, Bender's Big Score. It's extremely enjoyable the first time, but it takes multiple viewings to fully understand the several complex Time Travel subplots. Not to mention the boatload of foreshadowing to the Plot Twist. And the thousand and six instances of continuity. And the few shout-outs to Matt Groening's earliest work, Life in Hell.
- Similarly, it's possible to watch episodes of The Simpsons dozens of times without catching all of the hidden gags.
- Cirque Du Soleil shows have this trope in spades. The first time out, one's attention tends to focus on the often-spectacular acrobatics and comedy acts (which is as it should be), but with repeat viewings the distinctive characters and relationships, throwaway gestures, background events, lovely music, etc. are easier to notice and appreciate. This is especially true with non-touring shows such as Mystere, "O", and LOVE, which crank up the Scenery Porn and often invoke Loads and Loads of Characters. And any show with real Audience Participation will be a little bit different every time.