What does foreshadowing mean

The definition of foreshadowing is the following: a prior warning of something that is about to happen later. Foreshadowing synonyms include "a hint" or an "indication".

Let us put it in simpler words. Has it ever happened to you to watch a movie and be aghast at the end after the final twist? Then you rewatch the film and see the signs of the approaching outcome, carefully hidden and disguised by the director? This is it. Foreshadowing.

This artistic device is used to create suspense, apprehension, and anticipation. Also, it provides a smooth and logical plot with clear "cause-effect" relations. Foreshadowing involves the viewer/reader, making them a participant in the action as they start to look for clues and try to guess what is going to happen next.

Foreshadow synonym

Types of foreshadowing

There are two main types of foreshadowing.

  • Explicit or Direct. There are clear leads to what is going to happen. Sometimes, it may be said in a dialogue, a prophecy, or shown in a flashback. It's pretty apparent and noticeable when you watch the movie for the second time and know the final. For example, in "Romeo and Juliet" the tragic outcome is foreshadowed in the very prologue: "A pair of star-crossed lovers…Doth with their death bury their parents' strife".
  • Implicit or Indirect. That's something to puzzle over. In this case, hints are more subtle and sometimes are not even perceived as clues as they seem (and they are!) an organic part of the plot. For example, in "The Departed" we can notice a cross ("X") next to the character who will be dead by the end of the movie.
Foreshadowing examples indirect

Other foreshadowing examples

But for two main categories, there are also several types of this technique.

Chekhov’s Gun

The playwright Anton Chekhov followed the principle: if in the first act, you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one, it should be fired. Otherwise, don't put it there. Following this rule, every detail that seems unrelated to the main plot may actually foreshadow future events.

There are myriads of examples. Actually, they are in every film or TV show episode you watch. If the character has a pet, this pet will play its role in the plot, if they meet someone, it will have its consequences, etc.

Foreshadowing examples gun


When something is said directly, we just don't think it's related to the main plot. Later, we realise it was. For example (spoiler alert!), in "The Sixth Sense", Cole says to Malcolm: "I see dead people. [...] They don't know they are dead". Another example: in "Titanic", Jack is concerned about the temperature of the water in case he has to jump to rescue Rose. We all remember how he died at the end.


Technically, flashbacks and foreshadowing are two different artistic devices. Still, there is a fine line between them, and they are quite interchangeable. One of the brightest examples is the movie "Forrest Gump", which is all set as one big flashback.


Nothing is said, but we can understand certain things based on the visuals and details. The above-mentioned crosses in "The Departed" also fit perfectly here.

Red Herring

That's an interesting technique when all the hints and signs lead us to a certain idea or impression that appears to be totally wrong. For example, the character of Severus Snape in "Harry Potter" films, where he is shown as a villain till the very end.

How to foreshadow in your vlog

If you are doing your own videos, there are many ways you can use foreshadowing in your vlog as well. To make your video look more professional and eye-catching, try out some of these ideas:

  1. In the title. Too obvious? Try puns and allegories.
  2. In the teaser. The name speaks for itself.
  3. With visual clues, as Tarantino. Your video may need some video editing, like transition effects, color grading, or even changing the video aspect ratio.
  4. With verbal prophecies.
  5. Choose music that can evoke specific associations or emotions.
  6. Hidden messages or so-called "Easter eggs".
  7. Place symbolic props in the background.

As you can see, there is no limit to imagination! Be daring, be creative!