The storyline of Grim Fandango makes extensive use of foreshadowing, in which future events are hinted at by lines of dialogue.
Examples in Year 1Edit
- In the game's very first conversation, Manny can argue with Eva about whether or not she is technically his secretary. When Eva says she "has one boss, same as you. Don Copal," Manny replies: "C'mon, I know you work for another man besides Don." Eva nervously asks what he's talking about, and Manny says that he knows she sometimes takes messages for Domino Hurley, after which Eva seems relieved. Later, the player learns that Eva does work for another man, Salvador Limones, and she was worried Manny had blown her cover. Additionally, Eva casually mentions to Manny that "we all have our secrets."
- If Manny tries to open Domino's locked door at the very beginning of the game, he muses that stealing one of Domino's clients "isn't a bad idea, actually." Also, while sneaking around Don Copal's office, Manny finds a memo to be sent to all sales agents, warning them not to exchange clients under threat of severe punishment, which hints at the conspiracy as well as Manny's future plan to steal one of Domino's clients.
- Manny also finds a piece of coral in Domino's desk; it is later revealed that the coral is a souvenir from the factory Manny is imprisoned at in Year 3. When Manny examines the coral while holding it, it reads, "Congratulations on your new job! -Hector"
- If Manny looks at a framed picture of a cruise ship in the lobby of the D.O.D. building, he wonders out loud if he would be happier working on a ship, but confesses that he's "so competitive that I'd never be able to relax until I was the captain." When Manny spends a year on a ship in between Years 2 and 3, he works his way up from mess officer to captain.
- If Manny asks the right questions, Glottis will mention that he cannot be separated from cars for too long, or he will become fatally ill; this is exactly what happens to him in the beginning of Year 4.
- Brennis, the demon that is in charge of maintainance work at the Department of Death, complains that his true calling is working on elevators. At the end of the game, when Hector LeMans has taken over the D.O.D. building, Brennis is the elevator guard whom Manny must get past to reach Hector.
- When a fire breaks out in the tube switcher room, Manny runs for the fire extinguisher, but Brennis stops him, informing him that spraying that the packing foam will combust if it comes in contact with the magnesium in the extinguisher. In what is most likely the most widely spaced instance of foreshadowing and the event it hints at, Manny utilizes this information to use fire extinguishers and packing foam to rocket back to Rubacava from the Gate to the Ninth Underworld.
- While imprisoning Manny in the garage after uncovering his ill-fated scheme to steal a client form Domino, Don assures Manny that "someone's gonna take the fall for this, Calavera, and it ain't gonna be me!" In the end, Don does take the fall, as he sprouted by Hector.
- Upon first meeting Velasco in Rubacava, he mentions that he is still emotional over the loss of his ship, the SS Lamancha. Much later in the game, Manny and Glottis find the ship and use it to escape from Domino.
- Celso laments to Manny that there is no greater constant in nature than the treachery of women. At the end of the game, Manny is betrayed by Olivia Ofrenda.
- Celso abandons his job at the automat after hearing that his wife has left Rubacava with another man, intending to win her back. By Year Four he has found his wife and has returned to Nuevo Marrow with her.
Examples in Year 2Edit
- As Lola is dying, she laments to Manny that she always fell for the wrong kind of man, and her final words are that he should tell Olivia to improve her taste in men or she'll end up sprouted, like her (at the time, Olivia was dating Maximino). At the end of the game, Olivia betrays Manny and Salvador, and reveals that she is now dating Hector. Just like Lola, Olivia is sprouted and killed when Salvador sacrifices himself. (At one point, Manny even says to Olivia that "you have really bad taste in men," to which Olivia replies: "No, I have a taste for really bad men. There's a difference.")
- While talking to Membrillo the Coroner at the Morgue, he mentions that in the afterlife, florists are often driven mad due to the fact that in life flowers were a symbol of beauty, while in the afterlife, they represent death within death. This is the exact fate that befalls Bowlsley, a florist, in Year 4.
- Manny has a conversation with Toto Santos about liquid nitrogen, which freezes bones and acts as a painkiller. Toto claims he has run out, and must get more from the morgue later. When Manny returns to Rubacava in year 4, he steals the nitrogen from Toto's house while he is sleeping. The nitrogen plays a key role in solving a few puzzles, and ultimately, saves Manny's life at the Greenhouse.
- Chowchilla Charlie brags to Manny that he has an infallible system for beating slot machines. When Manny returns to El Marrow in Year 4, Charlie is sitting at the slots, and loses every time until Manny rigs the machine without his realizing.
- Manny can also say to Charlie "That's a nice suit. Where'd you steal it?" to which Charlie replies "If you learn to play the odds like Chowchilla Charlie, then maybe you, too, could have a suit this fine someday". In year 4, Manny must steal Charlie's suit to get into Hector's office.
Examples in Year 3Edit
- When Manny enters the factory, leaving Glottis outside to stand guard, Glottis nervously inquires about what he should do if the squid comes after him. Manny jokingly advises him to "poke him in the eye and steal his sub." During the final duel with Domino, Manny stabs the squid in the eye, which indirectly wins the duel for him.
- After Domino sends Glottis over the waterfall and he is assumed dead, an enraged Manny threatens "I'm gonna grind you into a powder for that." Domino is eventually killed when he is ground up in the coral crushers of the ship.
- Domino remarks that he happened to see the Bone Wagon during his last visit to Rubacava, and remarks that hot rods never really seemed safe to him. Upon escaping and returning to Rubacava in Year 4, it is revealed that Domino had booby trapped the Bone Wagon with explosives.