Our Favorite Stories of People's Pasts Catching Up With Them

We all have pasts, and within them things that we’re not proud of. But there are others who have pasts that are so complicated, so bad, that they threaten to resurface to teach them a lesson. For those unlucky ones, the past can rear its ugly head and unleash chaos. In Episode 2 of Soulmates, we watch as the past of a loving husband and respected professor threatens to take away everything he’s worked for. This got us thinking, what are some of the best stories of someone’s past catching up with them? Here are our top picks.

Hocus Pocus

No one has more of a past than the Sanderson sisters from the movie Hocus Pocus. After all, they're over 300-years-old. After being linked to the disappearance of two teenagers in Salem in 1693, the three sisters are executed—clearly a nod to the Salem witch trials, which we know a little something about. By 1993, they’re nothing more than a scary story for the town to tell around Halloween. Their home has become a museum, and when a virgin lights the black flame candle housed there, the three sisters are resurrected, just as Winnie’s spell book declares. Back from the grave, the sisters pick up where they left off, sucking the souls out of children to maintain their youthful appearance.
While consuming the souls of the three teenagers that originally resurrected them will prove to be challenging, it’s a black cat that ends up being their biggest issue. The cat, Binx, isn’t just a regular cat, he’s really a boy named Thackery that the witches put a spell on back in 1693 after sucking the soul of his sister. These are the same events that led to the sister’s execution, and Thackery hasn’t forgotten. When the witches nearly have Dani (one of the three teens) drinking their soul-sucking potion, Thackery knocks the potion free from her hand. This is a critical move, that ultimately turns the witches to stone when they run out of time and meet the deadly sunrise.

Big Little Lies

If you watched Season 1 of Big Little Lies, then you already know the bad guy’s past catches up with him in the end. From the outside, Monterey, CA seems as idyllic as it gets, but behind the closed doors of its well-off inhabitants are issues of adultery, domestic violence, and school bullying. The violent outbursts and toxicity between Celeste and Perry eventually poison Celeste’s friend group. This includes a woman named Jane, who's had her own struggles after a violent encounter years prior, which left her with a son born from rape. The rapist? Also, Perry. The carefully orchestrated tension created by the violence at home brings Celeste and Perry's lives crashing down during a Trivia Night that seems to include the entire town. Celeste runs after her friend Madeleine who has walked away from the crowd, as she struggles to cope with the fact that she recently cheated on her husband. The rest of this friend group finds their way to this same spot—Renata, Bonnie, Jane, Madeleine, Celeste. Perry finally appears, trying to get Celeste to leave with him. Upon seeing him, Jane finally realizes this man is her rapist. After years of being unable to establish an image of him in her mind, she couldn’t be more certain now that he was standing before her. Celeste and Madeleine, who know she was raped all those years ago, almost immediately understand that Perry is Jane's rapist. Somehow it’s neither of them that kill him... that violence comes from Bonnie, the zen one, who pushes him to his death.


Based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 A Christmas Carol, this may be the most on-the-nose version of someone’s past coming back to haunt them. In the 1988 remake of the age-old story, Frank Cross is the mean, cold-hearted businessman who knowingly makes the lives of his employees a living hell. After being especially cold to his staff during the Christmas holiday, he's visited by three ghosts—the ghost of Christmas past, and then the ghosts of Christmas present and future.
The Ghost of Christmas present makes Scrooge relive his awful treatment of his employees and family, now from a much clearer standpoint seeing it all happen as a third party. Then the Ghost of Christmas Future gives him a shocking taste of just how bad things would get if he kept up with his horrible ways. In the future, not only does he see that people have lost their livelihoods, their minds, and even in some cases their loved ones, he’s also shown his own funeral in which nearly no one is there to pay their respects. And while the present and future are certainly eye opening, it’s the Ghost of Christmas past that allows him to see how he became such a cruel, cruel man.

What Lies Beneath

Claire and Norman Spencer are a married couple living a quiet life in Vermont. It’s clear that their relationship isn’t in the best state, and that becomes even clearer when their daughter heads off to college. With an empty nest, and Norman still working as a professor, Claire finds herself with a lot of time on her hands. That idle time leads her to pay a lot of attention to her neighbors, Mary and Warren.
Mary and Warren get into loud arguments that sound like they could be violent. When Claire doesn’t see Mary for a few days, she becomes convinced that Warren has killed her. Norman brushes off her concerns, but her friend Jody is all ears and they decide to perform a seance to try to get a response from Mary. While nothing comes of the seance itself, later that night Claire finds her bathtub full of hot water and “You know” written on the steamed up mirror.
Then after accidentally breaking a picture frame, she finds a newspaper clipping tucked within it about a woman who had gone missing. Her name was Madison Elizabeth Frank. Claire goes as far as visiting Madison’s mother, where she steals a lock of Madison’s hair. She later uses it to perform a ritual, and inadvertently becomes possessed. When Norman returns home, Claire seduces him. While she straddles Norman, her face momentarily shifts and becomes Madison’s.
When Claire comes to, she remembers Norman’s affair with his old student, Madison. At first Norman tries to pretend that Madison committed suicide, but eventually Claire learns too much and Norman admits he did in fact kill Madison to keep her from telling the dean of his university about their affair. Once Claire knows his secret, Norman wants to get rid of her too. Claire ends up fighting for her life, and when Norman is just about to end it, it’s Madison’s corpse that sets Claire free and ultimately leads to Norman’s death instead.


This one could be considered the future or the past, depending on how you look at it. Everything gets more complicated when there’s time travel involved. In 2044, it’s basically impossible to kill someone and dispose of their body due to the advancements of tracking systems. Criminals have kept up with technology, and a crime syndicate emerges employing people as “loopers.”
Here's how it works: someone from the future will send a person back in time where a looper is waiting to kill them. Since they didn’t exist yet in this earlier time, the person being killed has no face and can’t be identified by authorities. As with most jobs, there are pros and cons. The biggest con of being a looper is that you have to kill your retired, future self in order to close the loop (aka no longer exist as a risk to the overall crime ring). As you may have guessed, not every employee is a yes-man and when faced with the task of closing their loop, they choose not to.
In Joe's (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) case, his older self gets away before he can close the loop. It turns out older Joe (Bruce Willis) is on a mission of his own to change the course of his past and right the bad things that happened to his wife and only son. It’s pretty mind-bending to watch one man’s past come back to haunt him... especially when his opponent is himself.
If you’re itching to watch someone’s past catching up with them, stream the latest episode of AMC’s Soulmates available now on amc.com and the AMC app for mobile and devices. Plus, catch a sneak peek of tonight's all-new episode.
Soulmates airs Mondays 10/9c on AMC. Get early access when you sign up for AMC Premiere.
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