Created By: DeluxeLambert on December 6, 2011 Last Edited By: DeluxeLambert on November 24, 2012

First Victim Showboating

The first victim of an alien invasion/monster/whatever will be very vividly killed to show off how it does things.

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Needs a Better Name, Needs a Better Description

So you've got some aliens or a monster, and they've got a particularly cool or violent means of killing off people, so why not show it off?

This is where the first victim of an alien attack or a monster, usually a random innocent bystander but occasionally a more prominent character, is very vividly killed, usually with complete focus by the camera with the intent of showcasing the alien weapon or, if anything, the special effects, in the most detailed way possible. May overlap with Shoot the Money.


  • The trailer for the upcoming invasion movie, The Darkest Hour, prominently features a Russian police officer tentatively poking his baton at the alien energy lifeforms, before the energy creature suddenly and messily disintegrates him.
  • General Casey in Mars Attacks!! is the first victim to be zapped with the Martian Ray Guns, his flesh prominently and slowly burning off in colorful red smoke, leaving his brightly colored skeleton behind.
  • Not the first victim persay, but very shortly into the Tripods' opening attack in Stephen Spielberg's War of the Worlds, the camera briefly focuses on a fleeing woman, before the alien heat ray hits her, turning her to ash in the most graphic of such shots in the film.

Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • December 6, 2011
    • The other stripper from Independence Day. She's bouncing around on top of the tallest building in Los Angeles, shouwing "I hope they bring Elvis back!" and that building is the first horrific casualty of the invaders' nasty beam weapon.
  • December 7, 2011
    • War of the Worlds (1953). The first three men killed by a heat ray. Their death has a set-up lasting several minutes and had special effects that were quite advanced for that time.

    Watch the sequence here.
  • December 8, 2011
    The infamous "farmer with a shotgun" from Dragon Ball Z, who Raditz kills right after arriving on Earth, just to show the Saiyans' power.
  • December 8, 2011
    Two arguable examples, Vince D'Onofrio's character in Men In Black, who is killed has his body stolen to host the Big Bad for the rest of the movie, and for a non-alien, smaller-scale example, the Nazis' hired mooks in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade who are repeatedly decapitated by the traps guarding the way to the Holy Grail chamber.
  • December 8, 2011
    The current title makes me think of victims showing off before they are killed. Like guys showing off for girls by skinny dipping, only to be eaten by the lake monster. Non Indicative Title.
  • December 9, 2011
    First Victim Vividness? This is a surprisingly hard one to come up with a decent name for.
  • December 9, 2011
  • December 9, 2011
    The poor colonist who gets liquefied during the final assault on the Collector base in Mass Effect 2, driving home the need to save your fellow crewmates from meeting the same horrible fate.
  • November 18, 2012
    I think this is Monster Munch, a trope that has just been launched. Merge examples, description, etc?
  • November 18, 2012
    Establishing Monster Kill(ing)? Related to Dynamic Entry

    • Kane's death in Alien is one of the most iconic examples and a aversion at the same time since the Chest Burster way of killing a host is different from the method of the adult alien.
  • November 18, 2012
    ^^Yeah, this is Monster Munch. Motion to discard.

    EDIT: Actually, strike that. Monster Munch is a character whose sole purpose in the plot is to be killed by the monster. This is actually closer to Sacrificial Lamb or Red Shirt.
  • November 19, 2012
    Initial Demonstration Of Power, maybe? Particularly if this first killing is intended to scare the rest into submission.

    Or is this a trope for exposition (showing what the monster/invader/whatever is capable of in the first instance, with Law Of Conservation Of Detail invoked with subsequent victims)? In which case, I'd second Establishing Monster Kill.
  • November 21, 2012
    In John Carpenter's The Thing, the Thing, in the guise of a dog, is placed in a cage with other huskies. Nightmare Fuel ensues.
  • November 21, 2012
    I second the Motion to Discard
  • November 21, 2012
    ^^^I think this also should include demonstrations for the viewer(not only in-universe Showboating). They make the first and maybe even the only attack big to show the audience what the monster can do and what the "heroes" is running from/trying to kill.

    This isn't Monster Munch, as "they have no other role than as a snack.", and "if they're only there to be killed". This could for example be the Black Dude being killed in an extra spectacular way.
  • November 23, 2012
    This trope looks like Monster Munch, but the point is the first action of the monster and not the victim.

    Motion to discard disagreed with.
  • November 23, 2012
    It overlaps with Monster Munch, since where the victim is a bystander or otherwise introduced just for this they are that as well, but is distinct, nor is it a subtrope, since it doesn't require the victim to only be here for this. It could be worth mentioning the relationship/distinction somewhere?
  • November 23, 2012
  • November 23, 2012
    I think there's a trope here. It's not about Monster Munch, which is just the case of someone being killed to demonstrate the danger of a given threat. It's about a phenomenon where special effects are given more oomph at the beginning of the story, to catch the audience's imagination, but toned back later, because repeating the same effect lessens its impact, and also wastes time.

    Mars Attacks is a good example: at first, the Martian ships are slow and majestic, the reveal of the aliens is done in the most dramatic form, and General Casey's death, as mentioned, is long and agonising. But after this scene, the aliens and ships move at a more practical speed, and victims of the death rays flash into skeletons instantly. This is a case where the effect is exaggerated for comedic effect.

    Something similar (possible subtrope) happens with Transformation Sequences, which are usually shortened on screen after the first instance, unless the producers are relying on it to pad the animation and add length.
  • November 24, 2012