Ask Difference

Prologue vs. Prequel — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on January 14, 2024
A prologue is an introductory section of a literary or musical work, setting the scene or context. A prequel is a narrative work that precedes and is set in the same universe as an existing work, but tells an earlier story.
Prologue vs. Prequel — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Prologue and Prequel


Key Differences

A prologue serves as an introduction to a story, often providing background information, setting the tone, or presenting a narrative perspective. A prequel is a separate work, usually a book, movie, or play, that narratively precedes an existing work, exploring events that occurred before the original story.
Typically, a prologue is part of the same work it introduces, not a standalone piece. Prequels are distinct entities, though they are connected to the original work through their shared universe or characters.
Prologues are common in novels, plays, and operas, where they set the stage for the main narrative. Prequels are often seen in film and literature series, providing backstory and depth to the fictional universe.
The length of a prologue is usually brief, focusing on essential information relevant to the following story. Prequels can vary in length, often being as extensive as the original work, developing characters and plot lines leading up to the initial story.
The purpose of a prologue is to enhance the understanding and enjoyment of the main work. The purpose of a prequel is to expand the narrative universe and deepen the audience's engagement with the storyline and characters.

Comparison Chart


Introductory section within a work
Standalone work preceding an existing story


Sets scene, provides background or context
Explores earlier events in the same universe


Generally brief
Can be as extensive as the original work

Common in

Novels, plays, operas
Film and literature series


Enhance understanding of the main story
Expand narrative universe, develop backstory

Compare with Definitions


A prologue is an opening section of a story that sets the tone or context.
The prologue of the novel provided crucial backstory.


A prequel is a work that takes place before the events of an existing story in the same universe.
The prequel explored the protagonist's life before the events of the original series.


A prologue may contain a different narrative voice or perspective.
The prologue was narrated by a character who did not appear in the rest of the book.


Prequels are common in film series and book trilogies.
The movie series released a prequel that became a hit on its own.


In plays, a prologue can be a speech that introduces the themes.
The actor delivered a prologue that set the scene for the drama.


It can be a standalone story, but it enriches the existing narrative.
The prequel stood on its own but added depth to the original story.


A prologue or prolog (from Greek πρόλογος prólogos, from πρό pró, "before" and λόγος lógos, "word") is an opening to a story that establishes the context and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information. The Ancient Greek prólogos included the modern meaning of prologue, but was of wider significance, more like the meaning of preface.


Prequels are often used to develop backstory and characters further.
The prequel provided insight into the villain's motivations.


It's used to provide information that is important for understanding the forthcoming story.
The prologue explained the historical context of the story.


A prequel can introduce new characters who are relevant to the events of the original story.
The prequel introduced new characters who played a crucial role in the earlier timeline of the series.


An introduction or preface, especially a poem recited to introduce a play.


A prequel is a literary, dramatic or cinematic work whose story precedes that of a previous work, by focusing on events that occur before the original narrative. A prequel is a work that forms part of a backstory to the preceding work.


An introduction or introductory chapter, as to a novel.


A story or film containing events which precede those of an existing work
The film is a prequel to the cult TV series


An introductory act, event, or period.


A literary, dramatic, or cinematic work whose narrative takes place before that of a preexisting work in the same series.


A speech or section used as an introduction, especially to a play or novel.


(narratology) In a series of works, an installment that is set chronologically before its predecessor, especially the original narrative or (perhaps improper usage) any narrative work with at least one sequel.


One who delivers a prologue.


(computing) A component of a computer program that prepares the computer to execute a routine.


(cycling) An individual time trial before a stage race, used to determine which rider wears the leader's jersey on the first stage.


To introduce with a formal preface, or prologue.


The preface or introduction to a discourse, poem, or performance; as, the prologue of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales;" esp., a discourse or poem spoken before a dramatic performance


One who delivers a prologue.


To introduce with a formal preface, or prologue.


An introduction to a play


Sometimes, a prologue can foreshadow events in the main narrative.
The prologue hinted at the conflicts that would unfold later in the story.

Common Curiosities

Can a prequel be enjoyed without knowing the original story?

Yes, a prequel can often be enjoyed on its own, as it's a self-contained story that precedes the original.

Is a prologue always necessary in a story?

No, a prologue is not always necessary; its inclusion depends on the author's intention to provide additional context or background.

How long is a typical prologue?

A typical prologue is relatively short, usually just a few pages or a brief scene.

Are prequels common in all genres?

Prequels are most common in genres like science fiction and fantasy, but they can appear in any genre.

What differentiates a prologue from a first chapter?

A prologue often has a different tone, setting, or perspective than the first chapter and serves a specific thematic or narrative purpose.

What is the main purpose of a prologue?

The main purpose of a prologue is to set the stage, provide context, or introduce key themes for the main narrative.

Can a prequel change the perception of the original story?

Yes, a prequel can offer new insights or perspectives that change how the audience understands the original story.

Do prequels always focus on the same characters as the original?

Not always; prequels sometimes introduce new characters or focus on different aspects of characters known from the original.

Can a prequel be written by a different author than the original story?

While less common, a prequel can be written by a different author, especially in collaborative works or expanded universe settings.

Should a prologue be read before or after the main story?

A prologue should be read before the main story, as it sets the stage for what is to come.

Can a book or movie have both a prequel and a sequel?

Yes, a book or movie can have both a prequel and a sequel, expanding the story both backward and forward in time.

Is a prologue written by the same author as the main story?

Typically, yes, the prologue is written by the same author as the main story.

Do prequels often contain spoilers for the original story?

Prequels generally don't contain spoilers for the original story; they provide background and depth to it.

How does a prologue affect the pacing of a story?

A prologue can affect the pacing by providing a different tempo or tone that prepares readers for the main narrative.

Is it common for series to have multiple prequels?

In some series, especially in expansive fictional universes, it's common to have multiple prequels exploring different aspects or time periods of the story.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Previous Comparison
Hypocritic vs. Hypocritical
Next Comparison
Unmetered vs. Metered

Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms