Watching shows with 弹幕 (or bullet hell-style subtitles) the word ‘FLAG’ often shows up.

  • What does ‘FLAG’ mean?
  • = 'cliche alert' – NS.X. Oct 4 '15 at 19:10

It was initially adopted by computer programmers. In order to mark the state of a certain block of code, they commonly use a variable called "FLAG" to store the value of state. For example you could have FLAG = 1 to mean that the user is male, then the following code blocks will work on the premise that the user is a male. Likewise, you can have FLAG = 0 to mean the user is female, then there will be a different logic followed.

Then it's widely used in China(first in Japan) to indicate some character's line indicates that something will happen in the future, usually someone's death.

For example, when someone says "Don't worry, I'll be right back. I promise." Then usually he/she is going to die.

Another example, when a girl says "I'll never date someone like him." They usually end up with being couple.

People use "FLAG" as a ridicule towards the noticeable pattern of story that occurs over and over again across Movies/TV episodes/Novels and so on.


In those situations FLAG (often accompanied by 立, e.g. 立FLAG,FLAG已立) usually means its a hint that sets the stage of future scenes; most commonly, foreshadows a characters' death, etc. The usage roots from japanese Galgames.

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