10 Best TV Shows Told Through Flashbacks

The new Netflix series keep breathing is streaming now, and the series features flashbacks to great effect to aid narrative progression. The main character is stranded in the desert while simultaneously having flashbacks to his life to survive.

Many TV shows use this tactic to help move the story forward. These shows may include flashbacks to give viewers a glimpse of clues as to what may happen next. For example, it happens in the teen show Pretty little Liars. Flashbacks can also occur to help understand the characters, which happens on shows like Lost Where Once upon a time.


Orange is the New Black (2013-2019)

Orange is the new black is one of the greatest series Netflix has ever released. It focused on a group of women from different backgrounds who were incarcerated and explored what brought them there and how they are adjusting to life behind bars.

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Each main character has the chance to be developed by their flashback episodes. These episodes provided information for viewers to understand who they are as people and why they are in prison. Each episode draws in viewers while distributing information that allows the story to progress in the most efficient way. It’s basically one of the best TV shows with flashbacks because of it.

This Is Us (2016-2022)

It’s us was among many TV shows snubbed by the 2022 Emmys. It was about multiple generations of the same family told in different eras. The television series centered on the Pearson family and the ups and downs of life.

Not only It’s us tell its stories through many flashbacks, but it also features flash-forwards. He has been known to use his flashbacks to explain the dynamics of the Pearson family and allow viewers to piece together moments from the present and why they are the way they are as adults. It focuses on their inner struggles as well as clues for the future.

Scandal (2012-2018)

Scandal followed Olivia Pope as she dealt with multiple scandals for politicians with her crisis management team while dealing with her past regarding her relationship with the President of the United States.

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Scandal often went back and forth with his flashbacks to tell his story. He also used flashbacks to reveal shocking events and betrayals among other characters. This allowed viewers to understand the characters and also learn the plot twists that would appear in the present. Flashbacks in this series were a bit more creative in their premise as they were mostly used as a shock factor. However, it still worked in the end and made the series what it was.

How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)

how i met your motherr was one of the best sitcoms of the 2000s. It depicts a middle-aged man telling his children how he met their mother while exploring love life as an adult through flashbacks.

The series is one of the most memorable shows to feature flashbacks, as the main premise involves a series of explanations through flashbacks. The series may include flashbacks within flashbacks to help move the story forward and explain the characters and their origins. It is also a tool to let the spectator in the journey of the main character to meet his soul mate.

Veronique Mars (2004-2019)

Veronique March centered on Veronica and her father as they solve many mysteries while trying to live a normal life in their town. In the first season of the series, Veronique March explored her stories through numerous flashbacks to explain how Veronica ended up in her role as an outcast.

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She was once popular and had a best friend, but quickly audiences learn that she’s become something of an outcast. Through the use of flashbacks, fans can piece together her life before and what it meant to her in the present. It also allowed the viewer to follow the clue as to who might be the culprit of not only the first mystery of Season 1, but other mysteries as well.

Once upon a time (2011-2018)

A current hidden gem on Disney Plus is Once upon a time. It is about a group of characters from fairy tales and storybooks who live among people in the real world. It follows these characters as they grow to discover who they really are after a curse causes them to be forgotten.

Throughout the series, flashbacks are used to show the fairy tale characters in their world to explain each character’s dynamic. It shows how connected they all are, which was exciting for fans to find out. Flashbacks took up the majority of the narrative through each episode of Once upon a time. It was the perfect balance between the world of fairy tales and the real world that made the show special.

Arrow (2012-2020)

Arrow follows a billionaire named Oliver who disappears on a remote island. A few years later, he returns to his hometown with a new perspective and a new mission as a vigilante.

This series featured flashbacks that added more depth to Oliver’s character. This allowed the viewer to gain more sympathy for him. These flashbacks created more tension and an overall understanding of where Oliver’s life may take him as it happens in the past and in real time. It’s enough history to keep fans interested, just like many other shows that rely on flashbacks.

Pretty Little Liars (2010-2017)

A year after their friend disappeared, four former best friends try to piece together what happened to her. They also have to deal with the secrets that only she knew while being blackmailed by a mysterious figure.

Pretty little Liars is a notable series that uses flashbacks. This was especially evident in the previous season when the characters were trying to figure out what happened to Alison. The flashbacks allowed fans to understand the dynamic between the girls and why they held tight to their secrets. Flashbacks also allowed the viewer to play with the overall mystery of the series by offering clues to tie into the story. Overall, there were plenty of storylines that no other show could have done, and the flashbacks made it all the more interesting.

Person of Interest (2011-2016)

person of interest centers on a programmer as he teams up with a former CIA agent to help people from death through a hyper-advanced AI surveillance system.

person of interest was able to utilize the use of flashbacks most effectively. It provides the viewer with information about different past and present events that ties together the information needed to understand the plot or figure out what will happen next. The flashbacks allow the viewer to be genuinely surprised by the twists, which makes the show fun to watch.

Lost (2004-2010)

After a plane crash, a group of strangers land on a mysterious island and try to find a way to survive while settling on the island. Lost is one of the most recognized television shows for depicting character development and story structure through its use of flashbacks.

The seemingly average characters are made relatable by the flashbacks provided in order to get to know each character. There are also flash-forwards that brought many twists for the show that always seem to connect its storylines. Overall, the flashbacks are what made the show what it was.

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