(Wiki-policy on spoilers being discussed yet again) Spoiler Policy
- for reference. —~crazysamaritan
Cast Lists are used to give credit to the professionals and creators
responsible for the production. In an ongoing work, audiences can draw a connection between characters and their actors, which can reveal a Plot Twist
when the cast list is shown. This is frequently related to the life or death of characters, but can be related to Two Aliases, One Character
and many other surprises as well.
Note that both opening credits and ending credits apply for this trope. Cast lists from outside sources like IMDB
contribute to the spoiler effect, revealing Plot Twists
to people not watching the work, and are why this concept is marked as a Trivia
item. The actor may be a complete unknown outside of the work, because it is the presence/absence of their name that communicates a spoiler to the audience.
See also Chronically Killed Actor
(we know a character will die because the actor always plays dead characters), Contractual Immortality
(we know an actor's character survives because of the contracts the actor signed), Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize
(the character has to be important because the actor is well-known), and Type Casting
/ Meta Casting
(actors are known by their roles, and the work plays with those known roles).
because of the nature of this trope, spoilers below are unmarked.
Playing With / Spoiled By The Cast List
- Played Straight: The arrival of a (previously dead) character is spoiled by the name of the actor playing them.
- Averted Trope:
- Characters are not listed in the cast list to avoid spoilers.
- Rather than being resurrected, the deceased character shows up in a flashback, or as a ghost, or the actor is listed as playing the deceased character's twin (or Identical Grandson).
- The Ensemble cast lists all actors known to be part of the group, even the Absentee Actors of the episode.
- Enforced Trope: Prominent characters have their actors listed in the opening credits.
- Downplayed Trope: Characters are listed in the end credits after The Reveal of their actor.
- Downplayed by Kevin Spacey, who requested that he not be included in the opening credits to Se7en, because his character does not appear until two-thirds of the way into the film and he wanted his appearance to be a surprise to the audience (also averting Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize in the process). He is listed first in the end credits to the film.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured Tara's actor (Amber Benson) in the opening credits, but Subverting audience expectations by killing her off.
- In the Power Rangers universe, particularly the original MMPR series, if a new student begins showing up regularly, it's a safe bet that a cast member is being replaced. Which one? Easy to tell. Look at the clothes the new student is wearing, and match the color. They'll also be listed in the closing credits of the episode.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Some episodes noticeably omitted guest star Salome Jens from the opening credits, because her appearance as a villain in those episodes would have spoiled the plot. As a tradeoff, her name was prominently displayed first in the closing credits, before the main cast credits.
- Supernatural fans memorize the actor names for recurring characters, so when they watch the opening credits and see a familiar name, they already know that the associated character will be showing up later in the episode.
- Jack Palance played Curly in City Slickers, but Curly died. In the sequel, Jack returns as the twin brother.
- During the Fifth Doctor era, when the Doctor Who production team wished to hide the Master's involvement in a story, they credited the actor under an anagrammatic character alias such as "Neil Toynay" (Tony Ainley) or "James Stoker" (Master's Joke).
- The Search For Spock featured Leonard Nimoy in the opening credits as a director (not an actor) because his character (Spock) had died in the previous film.
- Star Wars: The Phantom Menace averted the It Was His Sled spoiler of who Darth Sidious is by not putting that name in the closing credits. The actor still received credit because they played both roles of the Two Aliases, One Character.
- When House had a group of 30+ doctors following around Dr. House, the permanent characters were not listed in the opening credits of Season 4 episodes.