All good stories have a beginning, middle, and an end. This is about the beginning. Not just the beginning, but the beginning of the beginning. This is about the Inciting Incident.

The Inciting Incident is that first thing, great or small, that sets in motion the sequence of events that constitute the [[{{Plot}} plot]]. From the [[ThreeActStructure First Act]] to the {{Denouement}}, everything that happens in the story can be traced back here.

Despite the Inciting Incident's importance to the plot, it doesn't necessarily have to be a large event--it could be something as mundane as a phone call (in fact, in many non-heroic dramas it ''is'' a small thing of seeming unimportance.)

While the Inciting Incident may appear banal on the surface, it has some heavy lifting to do in a narrative sense. Firstly, it must propel the protagonist into the first phase of the plot: it sends the soon-to-be lovers into the MeetCute in a RomCom, it is the [[DeathByOriginStory death of a loved one]] that inspires the hero to fight injustice, it is [[Literature/OrdinaryPeople the French Toast being scraped into the trash by a emotionally cold mother]]. Secondly, it must place in the audience's mind the notion of what TheClimax will be like: if it is [[Film/{{Jaws}} the discovery of a shark-bitten corpse on a beach]], expect a showdown at the end with said shark; if [[StarWars a farm boy discovers a message of intergalactic espionage]], be sure he will follow his journey to the [[GalacticConqueror Galactic Overlord]].

If the Inciting Incident is taking place in a [[{{Monomyth}} Heroic Epic]], it is a CallToAdventure. It's [[VillainsActHeroesReact what the hero reacts to]].

'''Note''': The Inciting Incident need not be the first thing the audience sees, nor the first eventful thing to happen in the story. It can often be preceded by long bits of {{Exposition}}, glimpses into the {{Backstory}}, or [[EasingIntoTheAdventure scenes setting up the world of the story]]. It pertains to the protagonist solely, and his role in the overall plot.

''As this is an OmnipresentTrope, '''no examples please.'''''