A prequel is a work that portrays events and/or aspects of a previously completed narrative, but is set prior to the existing narrative.

The word is a neologism, formed as a portmanteau from "pre-", meaning before, and "sequel", a work which takes place "after" a previous one (although the word "sequel" comes from the Latin verb "sequor", there is no verb "prequor"). Its meaning is easily grasped and it has passed into common usage. An alternative term would be "protosequel" (though it would literally mean "first sequel"), as adopted in other languages, like the Spanish "protosecuela" (which however is not so frequently used as "precuela").


According to OED the word "prequel" first appeared in print in 1958 in an article by Anthony Boucher in "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction". It appears to have first come into general use in the early 1970s, in which its first known, traceable use is in the original press pack for "The Godfather Part II", [ [ George Lucas (Virgin Film Series): Jim Smith: Books ] ] where it is used to describe the sections of the film which take place before the events of "The Godfather", which intercuts the further story of the Corleone mafia family under the leadership of Michael Corleone with the story of his father Vito Corleone in his youth.

According to IMDb, the first prequel in film was "The Nightcomers" (1972) [ [ The Nightcomers (1972) ] ] based on the book by Henry James, prequeling all the previously made movies based on his novel "The Turn of the Screw". The 1979 film "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days" was a prequel to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".

Francis Ford Coppola credited George Lucas with devising the term,Fact|date=March 2008 which Lucas and Steven Spielberg later used to describe their joint project "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (which also occurred before the events of the first Indiana Jones film) during publicity for its release.

Lucas's own "Star Wars" prequel trilogy greatly popularized the term in American culture. ["The term has recently slipped into common usage with its popularization by the advent of "" wrote Chris Deever. [ Truth in Cinema, May 28, 2001] ]

Like sequels, prequels may or may not concern the same plot as the work from which they are derived. Often, they explain the background which led to the events in the original, but sometimes the connections are not as explicit. Sometimes, prequels play on the fact that the audience knows what will happen next, using deliberate references to create dramatic irony.

Another example of a prequel in C. S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia" is "The Magician's Nephew", a prequel to "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" which was written first. Though originally they were unplanned and unnumbered, many newer publications of the series order them chronologically in regards to the storyline. There is debate as to whether this was an appropriate change.

The term prequel is sometimes used to describe any work with a sequel. This is contrary to the term's original meaning, which defines a prequel as a "type" of sequel, not the converse "of" a sequel. For example, ' (Episode I, 1999) is a prequel to ' (Episode VI, 1983), but not to "" (Episode II, 2002).

List of prequels



Manga and anime


ee also

* Sequel
* Threquel
* Back story
* Retcon
* Film series


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  • prequel — (n.) 1973, from PRE (Cf. pre ), based on SEQUEL (Cf. sequel) (n.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • prequel — ► NOUN ▪ a story or film containing events which precede those of an existing work. ORIGIN from PRE (Cf. ↑pre ) + SEQUEL(Cf. ↑sequel) …   English terms dictionary

  • prequel — [prē′kwəl] n. a film, novel, etc. about events that preceded and, often, led up to those of another novel, film, etc. that was produced or published earlier …   English World dictionary

  • Prequel — Der englischsprachige Begriff Prequel ([ˈpriːkwəl]; Neologismus aus dem Präfix pre , „vor“ und sequel, „Folge“, „Fortsetzung“) bezeichnet eine Erzählung, die im Zusammenhang mit einem zuvor erschienenen Werk steht, deren Handlung (die erzählte… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Prequel — Préquelle Une préquelle est une œuvre réalisée après une œuvre donnée, mais dont l action se déroule avant du point de vue de l univers de fiction. C est un « épisode précédent mais réalisé après ». Cela pointe la différence entre le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Préquel — Préquelle Une préquelle est une œuvre réalisée après une œuvre donnée, mais dont l action se déroule avant du point de vue de l univers de fiction. C est un « épisode précédent mais réalisé après ». Cela pointe la différence entre le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • prequel — pre|quel [ˈpri:kwəl] n [Date: 1900 2000; Origin: pre + quel (as in sequel)] a book, film etc that tells you what happened before the story told in a previous popular book or film →↑sequel prequel to ▪ The Phantom Menace is a prequel to Star Wars …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • prequel — [[t]pri͟ːkwəl[/t]] prequels N COUNT: oft N to n A prequel is a film that is made about an earlier stage of a story or a character s life when the later part of it has already been made into a successful film. ... Fire Walk With Me , David Lynch s …   English dictionary

  • prequel — UK [ˈpriːkwəl] / US [ˈprɪkwəl] noun [countable] Word forms prequel : singular prequel plural prequels cinema, literature a book or film about events that happened before the events in another book or film that was written or made earlier …   English dictionary

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