->'''Gabe''': In the same amount of time it's taken me to get bored of ''[[VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII Final Fantasy]]'', I experienced ''{{Uncharted}} 2''[='=]s entire narrative arc. [...]\\
'''Kiko''': Well, how far are you in ''FF''?\\
'''Gabe''': I don't know. Like, twelve hours?\\
'''Kiko''': Come on! At least play through the '''''tutorial'''''.
-->-- '''PennyArcade''', ''[[http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/04/14 Purgatory]]''


It is usual for a work to have a beginning sequence that, for whatever reason, is mostly unrelated or just setting the scene for the main plot: a prologue.

In visual media, it is not unusual to have a short sequence run before the opening credits.

This trope comes into play when said sequence is so long that it makes up a significant percentage of the work, and yet is "only" a prologue. This is also the case when, in a VideoGame, after hours upon hours of fighting your way through hordes of enemies, and defeating their leader, the title screen appears, and it is all revealed to have been an ActionPrologue.

'''Remember that TropesAreTools'''; this trope defies one of the standard rules of narration ("prologues should be short or non-existent", "get to the plot quickly") that modern audiences have come to expect. As with all rule-breaking and subversion of expectations, depending on the skill of the creators and the perception of their audience, this can come off as either brilliant or perplexing: a wonderful surprise, or a betrayal of trust. Viewers of films may be impatient that you aren't [[JustHereForGodzilla immediately giving them the thrills they paid for]], VideoGame players may feel cheated that the huge, effort-intensive climax they achieved is not ''the'' climax of the story at all; it may ''feel'' like you're MovingTheGoalposts.

While {{Literature}} and [[ComicBooks sequential]] [[MangaAndAnime art]] readers may feel less worried if they know the length and structure of the work in advance (they can do so merely by glancing at the index), this does not hold true if the work is serialized, and experienced at the rate of its release. In that case, they may feel they have been cheated into emotionally investing themselves in a story whose apparent structure made them expect it to be much shorter than it really is; this is a [[NotWhatISignedOnFor violation of tacit consent]] in a fashion not unlike that of TheChrisCarterEffect.

Related to TheTeaser (aka Cold Open) and GetOnWithItAlready. In music, an EpicInstrumentalOpener might feel like this. When it's [[DeathOfTheAuthor seemingly intended]] to be funny, that's an OverlyLongGag. Compare CloseOnTitle, when you don't see the title until the very end. Contrast EndingFatigue, which constitutes a similar betrayal, but from the other direction; rather than a belated plot ignition, we get a climax that, instead of exploding, peters out in a disappointing and unrewarding way.
----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]
* ''{{Berserk}}'' begins InMediasRes, takes a few chapters to set the tone of the tale and the current StatusQuo, and then takes twelve volumes to explain HowWeGotHere: the Golden Age arc. Notoriously, the anime adaptation doesn't get out of the flashback, closing with the DarkestHour and [[LeftHanging leaving it there]].
* ''{{Gungrave}}'' similarly spends 15 of 26 episodes on a flashback to before the plot of the video game it's based on to establish HowWeGotHere. It is said to be by far the best part of the series.
* ''VinlandSaga'' is also impressive. You start off InMediasRes with a fortress getting besieged, then there is a flashback where you learn that Thorfinn (the protagonist)'s ''entire'' motive for being with the mercenaries is to kill their leader in a fair duel - because that man killed his father by holding Thorfinn hostage. Thorfinn is seriously that dangerously single-minded; he has a Quest, and one would expect the story to be about this quest, and conclude with him achieving it. This is not so; when everything is said and done and the protagonist's quest comes to a conclusion, and you think the story is going to end, you see the chapter title: "Chapter 54: End of Prologue." Given that it took a few years (both in-universe and out) to reach that point, expectations for the length of this story have been drastically reconsidered, with mixed reactions.
* ''Anime/PokemonTheFirstMovie'' takes about ten minutes before the opening titles appear, and 20 minutes if the "Mewtwo's Origin" segment is included.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books]]
* Artist Todd [=McFarlane's=] began scripting comics with "Torment" in ''Spider-Man #1''. Spidey saves a woman from a mugger, tells Mary Jane about it and the Lizard emerges from the sewer to the sound of tribal drums to the spell of the villain (later revealed to be Calypso) and then kills a few common thugs. Nothing else of note happens.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fan Works]]
* ''FanFic/ShinjiAndWarhammer40k'' is an excellent example, in that it is both archetypal ''and'' well-recieved by the audience. The prologue alone is many thousands of words just of how HeroProtagonist Shinji's childhood has been changed by his exposure to the tabletop game ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''; the fic is novella-length before Shinji even arrives at NERV, and full of thrills and emotion. Then the work turns out to be a DoorStopper with SerialEscalation.
* [[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5729693/18/Students_of_the_Snake This]] Naruto fanfic goes on ''18 chapters''before the plot get rolling. It even says so in the [[WordOfGod author's note!]]
* ''Fanfic/ADelicateBalance'' is a {{Shipping}} Fic between [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Twilight Sparkle and Applejack]]. It isn't until six chapters and forty thousand words in that Twilight actually manages to [[LoveConfession tell Applejack how she feels.]] [[spoiler: It isn't until another twenty thousand words after ''that'' that they actually start going out.]] [[InvokedTrope Done intentionally]] with the intent of building up the relationship.
* [[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/8123911/1/Brothers This]] ''AxisPowersHetalia'' crossover with ''ComicBook/CaptainAmerica'' follows the parental and later brotherly relationship between America and Steve Rogers over the years. The catch is that it the author ''means'' it, starting off with Steve's birth in 1920...and as of Chapter 13, the plot is ''still'' in TheRoaringTwenties (although it's heading into TheGreatDepression territory).
* [[WordOfGod According to the author]], the first nine chapters of ''{{Fanfic/Anthropology}}'' are considered the prologue to said story. With a prologue ending with a WhamEpisode, it's surprising.
* After 42 chapters of the WorldOfHam that is {{Fanfic/The Omega Chronicles}}, the author [[WhamLine dropped the bombshell that all that has happened]] has just been the prologue.
* Act One of ''FanFic/TheNextFrontier'' is nearly all WorldBuilding by stealth, giving the reader a bit of background on how far the [[TitleDrop Kerbal Space Program]] has come in the thirty-year TimeSkip after the end of the spiritual prequel ''First Flight'' and establishing that the core cast [[DentedIron aren't as young as they were]]. The actual plot doesn't really kick in until Act Two, and even then it's not until about the half-way mark that the reader gets to find out what the story is a crossover with.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* The Creator/UweBoll film ''Film/AloneInTheDark2005'' is notorious for having the longest text scroll in film, clocking in at about 100 seconds, as in nearly two minutes of spoken word and text. The scroll was inserted into the review because [[ViewersAreMorons test audiences couldn't make heads or tails of the film's plot]], so they wrote the scroll to explain some of it. Audiences then complained that it was too boring, so they added a voiceover. It didn't help much.
* ''Film/TheATeam'' took about ''20 minutes'' to get to the title drop!
* Most Film/JamesBond pre-title sequences clock in at a few minutes. The one for ''Film/TheWorldIsNotEnough'' is nearly ''fifteen minutes'' long, and actually has a fairly clear cutoff point between its two scenes that could've been the act break. This is because that was originally going to be the end of the pre-title sequence, but test audiences felt that it was lackluster compared to recent Bond movies, so they stretched it out to include the next scene as well, which involved a lengthy, exciting boat chase.
* ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheLastCrusade'' has what seems like an interminably long prologue set just before World War I, when Indy is a preteen boy. This prologue serves multiple purposes: 1) to set up the Cross of Coronado as a ChekhovsGun that turns up (a quarter of a century later!) in the film's ''real'' ActionPrologue with an adult Indy; 2) to establish Indy's fleeting relationship with his father, which lends a certain weight to those characters' later scenes together; and 3) to explain how Indy acquired his trademark fedora, his bullwhip, the scar on his chin, and his crippling fear of snakes.
* ''Film/RaisingArizona'' begins with an accelerated account of how the main characters met, got married, discovered that they could not have a child, and hatched a scheme to steal a baby. The title screen rolls just as they're driving out for the kidnapping. Essentially the prologue is the first act of the film.
* ''Film/MontyPythonsTheMeaningOfLife'' begins with "The Crimson Permanent Assurance," which was originally supposed to be just one of the sketches of the film, but grew into a 15 minute short film that got stuck at the beginning.
* ''Film/FridayThe13thPart2'' begins with a ColdOpen that set an initial record for length. It follows the evening routine of Alice, the [[Film/FridayThe13th1980 first movie]]'s FinalGirl, building up the tension with {{Jump Scare}}s and {{Scare Chord}}s until Jason finally gets her. [[Film/FridayThe13th2009 The remake]] hits the title screen so far into the film that the viewer is likely to have forgotten about the credits not being over several minutes prior. It takes 23 minutes for it to show the title screen, which is fully one fourth the running time of the entire film.
* ''Film/HalloweenH20TwentyYearsLater'' has the title screen about 22 minutes in.
* The opening credits of EternalSunshineOfTheSpotlessMind appear 18 minutes into the film, at the end of the first reel.
* The 2009 ''Film/StarTrek'' reboot doesn't get to the title until 11 minutes in. ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'' begins with a 10-minute overture - not unique in film, but more often found on 3-hour historical epics than on sci-fi movies.
* ''Film/BloodNightTheLegendOfMaryHatchet'' has an opening so long it's practically a film within a film.
* The movie ''Film/OneHundredAndTwentySevenHours'' doesn't reveal its title until 15 minutes in.
* The credits for ''TheDeparted'' don't appear until nearly 20 minutes after the start of the movie, by which time you've already seen a flashback scene, a TrainingMontage, and the first plot twist.
* ''Film/TheDeerHunter'' has an extremely long first act showing the main characters' lives in small-town, working-class America before they get to [[TheVietnamWar the actual war]].
* ''Film/SilentNightDeadlyNightPart2'' is a roughly 88-minute movie. The first 40 or so of those minutes are spent recapping events from [[Film/SilentNightDeadlyNight the preceding movie]]. After that, another 25 minutes or so is spent explaining through flashback how the main character got to where he is at the beginning of the movie.
* In the film ''Helldriver'', the opening credits are approximately 48 minutes into the film.
* Both ''Film/SherlockHolmes'' movies have very long, very awesome, prologues.
* ''Hugo'' has a very long prologue, which is awesome.
* ''Film/{{Jumanji}}'', the prologue takes about 1/3 of the movie and is split into 3 parts, the first short prologue show how the game wind up underground. The second long one shows Alan's life and how he got in the game. The third introduces the kids and how they got the game.
* An issue for many {{Superhero}} films, which can take a little over an hour establishing the main character's origin story. ''Film/TheAvengers'' made a deliberate attempt to avoid it by [[Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse splitting the origin stories across several movies]], so that it could begin the action from the start.
* ''Film/PacificRim'' has seemingly two prologues. The first is a montage narrated by the protagonist covering the history of the war with the {{Kaiju}} and [[HumongousMecha Jaegers]]. The second is the first action scene of Gipsy Danger versus Knifehead. ''Then'' we get to the title.
* Creator/PeterJackson's Middle Earth films as a rule usually take between 10 to 20 minutes to go from the ''Lord of the Rings'' / ''Hobbit'' title cards to the actual subtitle of the film in question. In the extended editions it sometimes takes even ''longer''.
* The Japanese black comedy ''Film/{{R100}}'' has the title card come up 41 minutes into the 99 minute film.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/LesMiserables'' has an especially lengthy one, setting up the protagonist's action that caused him to go to prison, that time in prison, his attempts to get a job after prison, his fateful meeting with a bishop, his reformation into a new man, his cunning climb to a successful mayor... and that's ''still'' just the prologue.
* In Creator/StephenKing's ''{{Literature/It}}'' a (relatively) brief teaser chapter leads into the ''rest'' of the prologue, an over 100 pages long story about how the main characters start their return to Derry.
* ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' series uses these from book 6 onwards to catch up on what the major players in the entire cast were doing. [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters This would usually take upwards of 50 pages.]]
* MichaelCrichton, starting around ''Prey'' and getting worse. The prologue of ''StateOfFear'' is one third of the book. ''Next'' can be seen as nothing but prologue.
* Creator/DeanKoontz's book ''YourHeartBelongsToMe'' was terrible about this. The summary of the plot on the back of the book explains the second half of the book. The entire first half is the prologue.
* Even fans of ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' will admit that Tolkien takes his sweet time getting the hobbits out of the Shire.
** Justified to an extent; it helps the reader appreciate what they're risking and fighting for; without it, the penultimate chapter lacks much of its impact. The actual prologue, on the other hand, is twenty pages of InfoDump (including a recap of some of ''Literature/TheHobbit'', an essay on life in the Shire and one on the Hobbits' smoking habits). Interesting stuff, but you can certainly skip it the first time through.
** It's even worse if you consider the penultimate chapter itself to be part of the corresponding EndingFatigue. All together, depending how you define it, the story has between 80 and 200 pages of exposition, spanning several years (including the TimeSkip in which Frodo spends years in the Shire not really doing anything.)
** Another Creator/JRRTolkien example: ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'', which begins with a long, drawn-out introduction and a geneaology to boot. ItGetsBetter, but many readers don't even get through that first part.
* ''TheScarletLetter'' has what is called "The Customs House," an elaborate prologue detailing [[LiteraryAgentHypothesis how the author discovered the manuscript.]] It's about a quarter-to-half the length of most printings of the book. Furthermore, the first actual chapter is called "The Prison Door," the entirety of which is spent [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin describing a prison door]] and a rosebush beside it.
* In ''Literature/TheCanterburyTales'', the Wife of Bath's "Prologue" (mostly a defense of remarriage) is ''longer'' than her actual story. The Friar, who is supposed to tell his tale after hers, [[GetOnWithItAlready gets rather fed up with the lengthy backstory]].
* The book ''SpringMoon'' starts with a prologue about the main character at the age of about eight, and recounting the despair and suicide of her servant and friend. It has ''no'' bearing on the plot, except for [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic some symbolic and thematic value]] - but it is at least an excellent short story all by itself.
* ''Literature/LifeOfPi'' takes around a hundred pages just to get to the point where the blurb begins.
* ''The Life and Opinions of Literature/TristramShandy, Gentleman'' is written as the autobiography of Tristram Shandy. It starts with Tristram developing as a young fetus, rapidly approaching his birth. While his mother is in labor, the book mentions Uncle Toby who is sitting in a chair. The book goes on to talk about Uncle Toby's life and character, and how he was a soldier until he was wounded in the groin by a cannonball, and then how he went insane and constructed a small replica of the battlefield he'd been wounded on, which he then blew to bits with small replica cannons. Tristram Shandy is ''born'' on page 92, when Uncle Toby suggests they ask someone to check and see if Tristram's mother is in labor. It's a incredibly funny and/or pointless book.
* The first ''{{Franchise/BIONICLE}}'' book, ''Tale of the Toa'' dedicates six chapters to describing how each of the Toa discover themselves, their surroundings, meet their people and each other, until they finally all come together and kick off the plot.
* In ''[[LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya]]'', an unnecessarily large amount of time is spent on the SOS Brigade preparing for a Christmas party that [[spoiler: the audience doesn't even get to see]]. A few important plot points are established, but most of it can be seen as unnecessary padding. Kyon even lampshades it, observing that it was "too long for a prologue." The movie adaptation, despite mostly being very [[AdaptationDistillation well made]], makes it even worse, as very little actually happens until about an ''hour and a half'' into the film.
** ''The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya'' goes even further, with a prologue that takes up about a third of the book; half of it is spent recapping everything about the SOS Brigade and most of the side characters, while the other half consists of Koizumi walking Kyon through a {{Flashback}} and berating him for being [[SelectiveObliviousness Selectively]] ObliviousToLove.
* ''Literature/HarryPotterAndThePhilosophersStone'' doesn't even ''get'' to Hogwarts until halfway through the book. Then again, the beginning was absolutely necessary to set up the plot for the entire series. Compare with some of the other books that take even longer (page wise) such as Goblet of Fire which doesn't see Harry arrive until page 171.
** The most egregious is Literature/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix where Harry and co. don't get to Hogwarts until page 200, and that's in tinier print than the other books. Not surprising considering it's the biggest of the books.
* Most books of ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'' take some time before even showing the main characters.
* ''Literature/TheIcelandicSagas'' generally tend to take quite a bit of time explaining the backstory and deriving the hero's genealogy before getting on with the main plot. This may explain a few things about both the Tolkien examples and ''Vinland Saga'' (see the Anime section), which derived considerable inspiration from them.
* The ''Literature/MythOMania'' book ''Keep a Lid on It, Pandora!'' begins with the creation of man and the story of Prometheus. Because of this, Pandora doesn't show up until the seventh or eighth chapter. The fifth chapter actually bears the title, "Where is Pandora?", and begins with Hades, the narrator, telling impatient readers when she'll come. He then advises them to "[[TitleDrop Keep a lid on it!]]" until her entrance.
* ''Literature/BraveStory'' takes around a short novel's number of pages before [[spoiler: Wataru finds out about Vision and starts on his quest inside Vision. TropesAreTools - the prologue has plenty of foreshadowing, and it provides a ''highly'' appropriate context as to why exactly Wataru would want to go into Vision to change his fate anyways. It manages to give the reader plenty of time to get to know who Wataru is before he is thrust into another world with a task to accomplish.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live-Action TV ]]
* ''Series/{{Alias}}'''s prologues would frequently go ten to eleven minutes. The show is more radical in its first two seasons. Frequently episodes would end with the 3rd Act cliffhanger and the 4th Act would be knocked on to the next week where it would serve as an extended prologue pushing that episode's 1st Act into the 2nd Act's slot (roughly minute 11 to minute 22) the 2nd Act would then push the 3rd Act back so that the episode ended on the 3rd Act cliffhanger and so on...
* One ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' episode begins with a behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the movie epic ''Scott of the Antarctic'' that goes on for about two thirds of the show before we see John Cleese's BBC announcer and the opening titles.
* According to SFDebris, you can usually tell how much a particular ''Franchise/StarTrek'' episode will suck (especially a ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode) by the length of the teaser; the longer the teaser, the more you're urged to run for the hills.
** That may be accurate. The teaser of "Scorpion" - which introduces Seven of Nine and pits Voyager and the Borg in an EnemyMine against [[CosmicHorror Species 8472]] - was barely ten seconds if that.
* Series/{{Flashpoint}}'s prologues are generally about five to six minutes, though in some cases up to ''ten.''
* ''Series/TheGoodWife'' will routinely spend about ten minutes leading up to the title card in each episode.
* The [[Series/DoctorWho Classic Doctor Who]] story "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" is a six-part story, with the entire first episode being nothing more than a lengthy prologue leading up to a dinosaur appearing at the end.
* {{Series/Revenge}} takes about nine minutes to get to the title card.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Music ]]
* "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" by George Thorogood doesn't reach the chorus for the first time until three-and-a-half minutes into an [[EpicRocking eight-and-a-half-minute song]]. Up until then, the narrator of the song loses his job, gets kicked out of his apartment, espouses on his now ex-landlord, and tries to sleep over at a friend's place, only to get rejected by the friend's wife. Nothing having to do with alcohol until the chorus itself, when the narrator orders the titular drinks from a bartender.
* Played with in Creator/StanFreberg's cover of "Rock Island Line," which begins with a long yarn about an incident that supposedly happened on the line, repeatedly interrupted with StudioChatter telling the singer to cut to the song.
* Many opening acts [[JustHereForGodzilla might feel like this]].
* Music/PinkFloyd's pechant for an EpicInstrumentalOpener sometimes leads to this. "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" has about 8 minutes of music before there are any vocals.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Theatre Productions ]]

* ''IntoTheWoods'' begins with a musical sequence introducing the characters (and setting up the plot) that lasts for 12 minutes on the original cast recording. Seeing as that takes out several lines of dialogue, it could be even longer.
* ''Theatre/LoveNeverDies'' originally had one set several years after the main action. It's 8+ minutes long and establishes that the beautiful Coney Island AmusementPark Phantasma was a wonderland ruined by the treachery of Madame Giry. Unfortunately, the main action starts by ''reestablishing'' how wonderful Phantasma is, so it's another six-plus minutes before any of the leads turn up. The Australian production of the show threw most of this out in favor of using the Phantom's "Till I Hear You Sing" as the prologue, followed by the original opening's "Coney Island Waltz" to establish the new setting. As it is, it's still full quarter hour into the show before Christine's arrival is mentioned and the main thrust of the plot begins.
* The 1919 musical ''Apple Blossoms'' had a first act sometimes listed as a prologue. The male lead did not appear until the middle of the next act.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Videogames]]

* VideoGame/AssassinsCreedIII: The first three sequences have you play as Haytham Kenway, Connor's father; once control switches over, you still have a while before Connor becomes an Assassin proper. Overall it's several hours in that Connor finally puts on his Assassin's Robes. Less hated than most examples though since Haytham is likeable in his own right and it allows for more justified tutorials while still jumping into the action.
* [[SquareEnix The Company Formerly Known as Squaresoft]], developing mostly story-heavy role-playing games, has a knack for this:
** One of the most notorious examples is ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII''. The term "[[FanNickname Longest Prologue Ever]]" is popularly used to describe the first part of the game, and was even a former TropeNamer. The game's prologue takes between ''three to five hours'' (less if you skip the cutscenes, but it does remain long as hell) and does little except setting things up for the ''actual'' plot and main character. At least the boss fight at the very end is fun.
** [[VideoGame/KingdomHearts The first game]] isn't quite as bad, but there's still plenty of stuff you can do on the Destiny Islands that can take quite a bit of time. Most of it is optional, though.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyI'' has the first mission which can take a decent amount of grinding to accomplish (most [=FAQs=] recommend getting to level 5) and is implied to be the primary goal, but then you get the real start and a new opening scroll.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' doesn't start properly until you're out of Midgar, which can take anywhere between four to five hours, during which time the city is introduced, characters are met, vital exposition is dumped, and villains are introduced and killed off. Most players don't seem to mind, though, because even though the Midgar sequences are very linear, it's chock-full of action and intrigue relating to Shinra and [=AVALANCHE=], to the point where some players feel that the opening is practically the high point of the entire game.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' is basically the same as ''VII'', but so, so much more. Instead of growing your characters during the absurdly slow paced opening city level, as you do in VII, you are [[SecondHourSuperpower restricted to only physical attacks and area effect stuff]] for the first few hours. It all plays like an extended cutscene until you finally get to the crystal lake, where you finally unlock the roles and the Paradigm Shift (and even then, some of your characters have to unlock their 3rd role through story progression). Most of the early hours maintain the use of InMediasRes. However, out of 13 chapters, it's not until the beginning of chapter 11 that you will be able to choose your leader, customize your party as you see fit (the remaining roles being finally unlocked for everyone during this chapter), and finally be able to explore aeras which aren't just long corridors. Because of this, a lot of people considers the first eleven chapters as part of an extended prologue.
*** Which is probably why this one includes a [[AllThereInTheManual reference guide]] on the main menu. First time players interested in understanding what the characters were just talking about can check it and find quick summaries of not only the plot (scene by scene), but relevant background information on locales, individuals, and organizations.
** RadiataStories has the beginning of the game taking orders from your superior in The Radiata Knights, this takes up about 3-4 hours of the overall game and during this time you cannot change armour.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' has a unique prologue for each character, generally about 45 minutes to an hour to play and then a second prologue that all characters share. Now, some if not most of the prologues are widely considered by many to have better plots than the whole rest of the game; the follow-up prologue at Ostagar as a Grey Warden recruit? Its considered to be below par with the rest of the game, with being forced to replay it once per playthrough hardly helping.\\
\\
Made worse for PlayStation 3 players at least: a glitch sometimes prevents a player character from collecting the Menacing trophy (10 successful uses of the Intimidate skill), requiring trophy-seekers to start from scratch. As opportunities to Intimidate are rare, this necessitates repeating about 3 or 4 ''hours'' of gameplay just to collect one trophy.
** Lothering might count as a ''third'' prologue, as you're railroaded there after Ostagar, although there's nothing stopping you heading straight to the world map and getting started on your quest proper. There is quite a bit to do there though, and it's not a good idea to put it off too long. [[spoiler:After completing one Treaty Quest, the Darkspawn reach the village, and literally wipe it off the map.]]
* The ''WildArms'' games have a tradition of giving each character an individual prologue before joining the core party.
* The Tanker part of ''MetalGearSolid2''. Reportedly, Kojima intended the ship to be the setting for the whole game before concluding it was too small. There's even an option, after completing the game, to play just the Tanker section, and it has its own set of post-game titles.
* The Virtuous Mission prologue of ''MetalGearSolid3'' has you visit multiple regions of the game, and introduces most of the cast, before the actual Snake Eater mission.
* ''StarOcean3'' takes five to six hours before you are dumped on an actual planet and start real fights.
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'' has a little over an hour of cutscenes (and one battle sequence) between the start of the game and your first opportunity to save.
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}''. It takes between two to four hours before the game takes you [[{{Railroading}} off the rails]] and lets you choose what to do with your day (the real meat of the game).
* ''GuildWars'':
** In ''Nightfall'', what is more or less the prologue of the story takes you most of, if not all the way, to the max level. In fact, you figure that when you catch up to the BigBad, you're going to stop her from releasing the SealedEvilInACan, or maybe just fight it as the really FinalBoss. [[spoiler:No, you fail to prevent her from causing the Nightfall, which you spend the rest of the game dealing with.]]
** In other campaigns. Prophecies begins in an idyllic map of decent size with several zones, hours of gameplay (if you do everything), and enemies up to level 10 (of 20). Many were entirely surprised when this turned out to be [[spoiler: set 2 years before the ACTUAL game, which begins after that idyllic land is destroyed by magical crystal meteors, and maybe the size of 10% of the real game's map.]] Factions was similar to Nightfall in that it brought characters to near-maximum level before the prologue ended, though story-wise it was clear that you had only begun to uncover the real threat.
* ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic''
** The very long section on Taris, exploring three levels of the city, dealing with Sith oppressors, swoop gangs, outcasts and slavers, before [[spoiler:the planet is destroyed]] and the plot starts. What makes it worse is that you still have a non-Jedi class before you get to Dantooine, and you'll probably want to hold off leveling until then, to get more Jedi levels.
* ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords'' gives you Peragus. Big, almost depopulated mining station. REALLY big. And REALLY depopulated. If it wasn't bad enough already, half the time you're running in your underwear, with a mining laser. Alone. (Except you count voices in your head and com links as your party.) To make things worse, it's immediately followed by Telos, where you lose your ship and (temporarily) all your equipment, and have to jump through a lot of hoops to get off the boring looking space station and onto the actual planet. Just so you can recover your ship and actually explore the rest of the galaxy. [[SarcasmMode Yay]].
* In ''StarWarsTheOldRepublic'' finishing Prologue gets you though the 15 levels (out of vanilla 50) and two full planets of the game.
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'':
** You spend the first few hours of ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess Twilight Princess]]'' learning your controls as Link and Wolf-Link. You don't have any idea of what's going on until the end of the segment, and you're not free to explore the overworld until after the first major dungeon.
** You can't explore the overworld in ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime Ocarina of Time]]'' until the tutorial (obtain sword/shield) and first dungeon (Deku Tree) are finished.
** ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker The Wind Waker]]'' railroads you until you get a boat (and sail) several hours into the game.
** ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask Majora's Mask]]''. The opening sequence requires you to play through 3 in-game days (roughly 2 hours) in which you are essentially item-less and aren't allowed to leave the central hub town, and until you do so, [[CheckPointStarvation YOU CAN'T EVEN SAVE]]. By the way, if you fail to do all of the required tasks within the 3 in-game days, you have to start over from the first day, when you arrive at the town. At least you still can talk to s scarecrow to fast-forward the remaining time until the last hours after you've done everything it takes to reach the conclusión of this prologue.
** ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword Skyward Sword]]'' was apparently intent on averting this, though there was difficulty concerning a scene where Link saves Zelda, as this was important to show their relationship. So they cut out ''many'' scenes.
* The story mode of ''StarWarsBattlefront 2'', ''Rise of the Empire'', involves various missions centred around a group of clone troopers liberating various planets from the droids [[spoiler: and eventually taking part in Order 66]]. A cutscene after that event shows Vader's armour and an ominous image of the Death Star while the central character explains what the squadron did after the battle, which could be a perfectly valid ending to a game that's already full enough to be a game itself. Then the second opening crawl starts, finally introducing the actual ''Rise of the Empire'' storyline.
* ''{{Narcissu}} Side 2nd'' spends the first four chapters (out of 19) introducing the main characters, before the opening movie plays.
* While it's not technically a prologue, the beginning of ''HeavyRain'' has you going about your ordinary life for several hours before the actual plot starts.
* ''VideoGame/DragonQuestIV'', If you're going to take the {{Hero}}'s arc as the real start of the game, the whole 4 chapters before that will be just the prologues or background stories to you.
* ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVII'' has an entire story arc and dungeon before your first battle. Its not that long proportionally, though, given that the game itself is one of the longest around.
* Examples from the ''Franchise/FireEmblem'' series:
** The seventh game has Lyn's Tale, a prologue spanning 9 chapters that deals with a plot completley unrelated to the main story, which takes place two years afterwards and stars a different character. (Either Eliwood or Hector) Like many examples, you can skip it on a second or subsequent playthrough... but doing that is a ''very bad idea'', as characters from Lyn's Tale retain their level-ups when they rejoin in the main game. By skipping it you're effectively robbing around a third of the cast of up to 9 chapters worth of Exp gain. At least playing it on Hard Mode cuts out all the tutorials.
** ''Shadow Dragon'' has a prologue that lasts 4 chapters that, to the shock of many players, actually requires you to sacrifice one of your party members to progress. The entire prologue is skipped on any of the Hard Modes, in which case Frey will be assumed to have been the sacrifice. ([[CuttingOffTheBranches The next game went with this as canon]])
** ''New Mystery of the Emblem'' has a prologue lasting 8 chapters, unskippable this time though most of them are very short. It serves to introduce your [[HelloInsertNameHere player-created character]] to the world of the game.
* ''EndlessFrontier EXCEED'' is split on chapters. The first three are named "Prologue 1", "Prologue 2" and "Prologue" 3 and take an hour minimum each (Note it's a ''long'' game, especially for a portable system), during which you [[AndNowForSomeoneCompletelyDifferent take control of several characters]], defeat several bosses, get plot and exposition going off just fine and gameplay elements are introduced and explained.
* ''Microcosm'' had an OpeningScroll that explained the star system the game was set in, the {{Megacorp}}s that ran them, the struggles between them and the current covert shenanigans, ''and'' a short movie panning over the {{cyberpunk}} city, showing aircraft landing and setting up the plot at length. All told, [[PlayTheGameSkipTheStory ten or twenty minutes of prologue]] for a RailShooter that would hardly pass muster as a free [[WebGames web game]].
* The exposition for ''SuikodenV'' takes about eight-to-twelve hours.
* The opening to ''HarvestMoon Save the Homeland'' drags on for quite a while, which doesn't help the game's status as one of the least popular in the series (that and removing the [[DatingSim marriage and family]] aspects). Add to that the fact that the game has MultipleEndings, and you can't skip the cutscenes on your NewGamePlus, and that intro ''really'' gets old.
* Harvest Moon Tree of Tanquility has a very long one as well, taking up multiple in game days before the set up is done being explained and they let you play on your own.
* The unskippable intro to ''ValkyrieProfile'' last for thirty minutes if you don't bother reading any of the text. If you want the ''complete'' intro, you have option of watching it on the main title with that being twenty minutes.
* VideoGame/{{Mother 3}} is divided up into eight chapters. The first three happen over the course of three days, and cover the perspective of three different characters. Story-wise, they're important, but the gameplay suffers somewhat. ItGetsBetter after the TimeSkip.
* In ''BreathOfFire3'', the first few missions take place in a very small portion of the map with very limited access to shops, fishing spots or masters, and after [[spoiler: raiding [=McNeil=] Mansion]], your two allies pull a WutaiTheft and aren't seen again until the second half, and any LevelGrinding you did with them is wasted. After that, you're sent on a very linear mission that only allows you access to one part of the map at a time while you assemble your team, and it isn't until you defeat [[spoiler: Stallion]] that you have full access to the majority of the continent and can start properly building your team.
* ''AdventRising'' lets you witness the destruction of Gideon's [[DoomedHometown Doomed Homeplanet]] through his eyes. It takes pretty long.
* ''[[VideoGame/LufiaAndTheFortressOfDoom Lufia]]'', the prologue was so amazing, it became a [[LufiaII prequel]]!
* The first chapter of ''VideoGame/TalesOfGraces'' concerns several of the main characters as children. Chapter 2 takes place after a TimeSkip and mostly revolves around setting the scene and getting the group back together now that everyone's grown up. Nothing that could possibly be construed as the main plot kicks off until roughly the end of the second chapter and start of the third. Thankfully, you can skip the first chapter in a NewGamePlus. It costs 10 [=GRADE=] to do so, but a full playthrough can easily rack up over 1000 [=GRADE=], so the cost is barely a factor.
* EienNoAselia is billed as a visual novel / RPG. For the first ''three to five hours'' of the game you are reading straight dialog with no branching and no battles.
* ''[[VideoGame/VampiresDawn Vampires Dawn II: Ancient Blood]]'' is right up there with Kingdom Hearts II in terms of prologue length. Watching Valnar and Alaine starting a new life, Jaina's and Nyria's backstory, Asgar's reappearance, the WorldSundering spell, the heroes reclaiming the castle and getting acquainted with the new situation takes a while. It's even worse if you follow the traditional RPG routine of talking to everyone and searching everything, which a completionist will inevitably have to do given that all the prologue locations are LostForever upon moving on.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' starts with a really long, unskippable cutscene of Shepard and Anderson attending an Alliance military meeting, then escaping the Reapers invading Earth. Then you're finally given control of your character... only to be thrust into ''more'' unskippable cutscenes after a short tutorial level, with lots of autodialogue and minimal dialogue choices. Then you play through the drawn-out, exposition-heavy Mars mission... and only then, en route from Mars to the Citadel, does ''the title screen finally appear''.
* ''RivieraThePromisedLand'''s tutorial is somewhere between an hour or two in length, depending on how fast you go through it. This includes when you replay the game, despite already knowing what to do. Fortunately, you're given a very powered CrutchCharacter that allows you to get through battles easily.
* ''VideoGame/GoldenEye1997'''s prologue is greatly extended from the film's, with several original stories in the nine-year gap between the Dam operation and the film's present day, such as visiting the incomplete Severnaya bunker, and an EarlyBirdCameo by Ouromov in a nuclear silo.
* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'''s lengthy JustifiedTutorial follows the protagonist through their formative years in Vault 101. However, the game autosaves and allows you to reconfigure your character just before leaving the Vault, so the tutorial can be skipped on subsequent playthroughs.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* ''FateStayNight'' can easily take three hours to reach the title screen, during which you "play" a different character from the game proper (with a notably different writing style), and focus mostly on characters who are unimportant or completely different from their depictions in the rest of the game. That's in scare quotes because you don't make any decisions in this part of the game.
* UminekoNoNakuKoroNi. The airport. Unlike previous (or later) installments of the "When They Cry" series, which introduce us to the characters within the context of the overall story, thus keeping the plot moving, Umineko's first episode has Battler, the main character, meet two thirds of the ENTIRE CAST in an airport, where you get huge infodumps about them, and NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS.
** You could argue the entire first Episode is this Trope. The main story in latter episodes revolve around the Meta World that is just introduced in the first Episode's ''epilogue''. Actually, the plot description on the trope page used to spoil ''the entire Episode 1'', Tea Party included, just to introduce the main part of the story.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Averted in [[MissingEpisode 'The Long Lost Prologue']] of ''Webcomic/OurLittleAdventure''. The first couple of panels started as black screened exposition, but [[TricksterGod The Palm Tree Ghost]] cut it short.
->TPTG: "Ugh, who writes this drek anyway? It sounds like the beginning of some stilted Lord of The Rings wannabe novel."

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]

* ''TheGunganCouncil'' typically has roleplays to introduce new characters. They are are supposed to be simple in order to get a new character instantly acquainted to two or more established characters. Roughly 200 words is enough per post. Some have start with ''1,000'', and keep this amount up through over 15 posts and essentially almost writing enough to create a novella off the bat.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''WesternAnimation/AvengersEarthsMightiestHeroes'': The Avengers don't officially form until the end of the seventh episode. Furthermore, Captain America doesn't join until the ninth episode, Black Panther doesn't join until the eleventh, and Hawkeye doesn't join until two episodes after that, meaning that the core team of eight Avengers that make up the first (26 episode) season doesn't assemble until the end of the thirteenth episode. However, the first seven episodes feature plenty of action by the heroes working solo and do set up the season nicely, so this is a case where TropesAreNotBad.
* A full 10 minutes go by in ''LiloAndStitch'' before the title and opening credits show up.

[[/folder]]
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