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You may have noticed that I began my story with a quick, snappy scene of danger and tension — but then quickly moved on to a more boring discussion of my childhood. Well, that's because I wanted to prove something to you:
I am not a nice person. Would a nice person begin with such an exciting scene, then make you wait almost the entire book to read about it?
Most stories take a while to build up, as they first introduce you to the characters, the world, and the theme, giving them time to develop in your mind before things start to change and become exciting.
Of course, this means that beginnings are often boring. It's been said that if you miss the first 15 minutes of a movie, you're not missing anything, as the plot doesn't pick up until later anyway. Many writers are aware of this, and their way of dealing with it is sometimes to do an Action Prologue.
An Action Prologue starts off with something exciting happening immediately. Right at the beginning, the hero is sneaking around an enemy base, being menaced by a threat, or something similarly exciting. In some cases this is foreshadowing
. The event may be a minor one, but related to a major plot point that we don't discover until much later
. It could be a dream sequence, where the hero sees something threatening that later shows up for real. It could be the Establishing Character Moment
for our badass Action Hero
. Or it could be something completely unrelated to the main plot at all, used only to make sure that something
exciting happens right at the start.
In any case, the action quickly falls right after the Action Prologue, and then
those usual first 15 minutes used to flesh out the story and introduce the characters show up. Often overlaps with How We Got Here
when it shows off an action-packed scene from the end of the story before jumping to an earlier point in time to explain how the characters ended up in that scenario. War Was Beginning
is a specific subtrope.
Compare Batman Cold Open
, which illustrates a character's skills at the beginning of a story; and Danger Room Cold Open
, which demonstrates the skills of a team. Contrast Prolonged Prologue
, which is what happens when you drag it out too much, as well as It Gets Better
where the work slaps you from the start with exposition... and more exposition... and still more exposition... It can happen that the Action Prologue is cut short and revealed not to have been really happening; that's a Fake Action Prologue
A form of The Teaser
, often In Medias Res
. Also known as a Bond Opening Sequence
, since James Bond
uses it so much. Not to be confused with Action-Hogging Opening
, which is where the out-of-plot opening sequence rather than the first part of the plot proper is unusually intense.
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Anime & Manga
- Witch Hunter Robin starts off with a mission by the ultra-tech team of super-powered witch-hunters, and the rest of the first episode is introducing their little circle to the audience. And the title character isn't even fully introduced until the second episode!
- The prologue of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has a battle in space the likes of which don't happen until the final of the four arcs — and, in fact, the exact battle shown never actually happens.
- The anime version of Chrono Crusade took the manga's Batman Cold Open and added a hint that Aion was behind the attack to turn it into an Action Prologue.
- The anime of DN Angel opens on a fight between Dark and Krad that apparently happened in the past, before cutting to the high school shojo romance opening of the manga.
- Venus Versus Virus's anime version has this. Guns, check. Shooting stuff with said gun? Check. Eyepatch wearing Gothic lolita girl wielding the gun? Check. Creepy girl with red eyes? Check. Then we cut to the earworm of an opening. In the manga however, the intro is mellow, and shows how Sumire became the way she is.
- Berserk is a extreme example: it starts with a two and 2/3 volumes of story to establish the setting and then has a twelve volume flashback before reaching the point of time when it started. The anime follows suit with its first episode (basically a shortened version of the first episode without Puck), which is given no explanation as to how it happened, given that the anime ended at a point where the story could have only gotten there based on action taken by characters that were never introduced in the anime.
- Not exactly action, but Higurashi no Naku Koro ni's anime adaptation opens with watching a half-obscured silhouette beating someone to death with a blunt instrument... And then the OP starts playing...
- Which is based on how the game begins with a narration going along with a the sound of something hitting something else.
- The first episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood mostly exists to start off the series with something that wasn't seen in the 2003 anime adaptation. However, the events are integrated into the story of Brotherhood, even though they don't happen in the manga, and some parts serve as major foreshadowing.
- The Movie for the 2003 anime opens with a story about the Elric brothers fighting a Mad Physicist who invented a new type of bomb, which turns out to be a story told by Edward to Alphons Heiderich, Al's alternate world counterpart about his life before he was sent there. This is later used for an And the Adventure Continues ending, as Ed and Al learn that the bomb accidentally ended up in the other world and go to track it down.
- Kämpfer opens with Natsuru being chased and shot at by Akane before jumping off of a building to her assumed death. Then the opening credits roll.
- The manga adaptation of Persona 3 opens with The Hanged Man Operation. That is, an explosive battle on a bridge.
- The second scene in Sword of the Stranger is an elaborate action sequence, with bandits attacking the Ming caravan.
- Full Metal Panic! begins with Sagara saving a woman from her kidnappers and securing a disc with mysterious content.
- Infinite Stratos begins with Ichika and his harem facing off an unidentified IS pilot.
- It turns out that it's actually the fight vs Silvario Gospel in the last episode
- Hidan no Aria starts with Kinji trying to not be blown up by the bomb on his bike, and Aria falling out of the sky, shooting guns and all, to try to save him.
- The Dirty Pair movie (better known as Project Eden) takes this all the way into a full Pastiche of James Bond films, starting with an equivalent of the Bond Gun Barrel and ending with a Design Student's Orgasm credits sequence the Bond films could be proud of. (Not to mention introducing the Guy of the Movie.)
- Ghost in the Shell begins with Major Kusanagi carrying out a hit on a defecting programmer and a corrupt government minister, establishing her as a consummate Action Girl (as well as showing off the coolness of the series' thermoptic camouflage).
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica starts with Homura fighting Walpurgisnacht in a devastated Mitakihara, witnessed by Madoka. It's the endgame of the previous "Groundhog Day" Loop.
- The first episode of Psycho-Pass shows a wounded Kogami taking on a Mook wearing cybernetic armor before confronting Makishima. This doesn't happen until episode 16.
- Girls und Panzer begins with the first few minutes of a tank battle, the rest of which is seen in Episode 4.
- Tekkaman Blade starts off with the main character fighting off a bunch of Radam monsters before being blasted off the Orbital Ring onto Earth.
- In Blade And Soul, Alka is seen running from some Palam soldiers at the beginning. They seemingly trap her and open fire, only for her to effortlessly dodge their bullets, and proceed to slit all of their throats.
- Assassination Classroom kicks off with the entire class whipping out firearms and opening fire on their teacher, Koro-sensei, who has walked into the room to take attendance. Koro-sensei casually dodges every single bullet as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
- Zankyou No Terror starts with the theft of a plutonium core from a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.
- Kyon Big Damn Hero combines this with In Medias Res.
- Whispers begins with a fight between Celestia and Nightmare Moon, before swerving into Original Character territory.
- Girls und Panzer fanfics frequently do this in order to emulate the show's opening, whether they're doing a retelling of canon, or an entirely new fic. How successful they are varies, since some believe it works better in an anime than a fanfic, and that the show needed to show the tanks immediately to draw people's interest. Boys Und Sensha-do is one such example.
- In Puzzle Hunt Precure, the first chapter starts out with the fight against the Metamasters that separated Rei from her sister Miu.
Films — Animated
- Bolt does this with the Show Within a Show's filming.
- Toy Story 2 starts with Buzz Lightyear infiltrating Emperor Zurg's secret lair. It is then revealed to be a video game Rex is playing.
- Toy Story 3 starts with Woody and Jessie trying to save a train of orphans. Then the plot starts getting anachronistic and filled with Call Backs to the previous films, and it turns out to be Andy's playtime from the toys' point of view.
- In another Pixar film, Cars 2, the film begins with Finn Mc Missile infiltrating the Lemons' oil rig to uncover their evil plans after his partner Leland Turbo has been crushed to death while attempting to escape their lair.
Films — Live-Action
- Pretty much universal in James Bond movies.
- Most of the Star Wars movies start off in a fight of some sort:
- All of the Indiana Jones films.
- The Star Trek films tend to do this. It was especially notable in the first one, where the prologue turns out to be the most action-oriented part of the whole movie.
- The 2009 film opens with the destruction of the U.S.S. Kelvin..
- The opening sequence of Star Trek Into Darkness set on Nibiru shows the Enterprise on an action packed away mission unrelated to Harrison's attacks.
- Star Trek The Motion Picture opens up with a squadron of Klingon battlecruisers getting in a (losing) fight with V'Ger, as a Federation listening post eavesdrops some distance away and passes word of it back to Earth.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Meanwhile has Enterprise, under the command of Saavik, get into a space battle with three Klingon battlecruisers while attempting to aid a crippled ship in the Neutral Zone. After most of the bridge crew is killed, it is revealed that this was an Unwinnable Training Simulation.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country kicks off with a [[moon violently exploding], with the Starship Excelsior getting briefly caught in the Planar Shockwave.
- Hancock opens up with a gun battle on the L.A. Freeway, with the eponymous hero arriving to "save" the day.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring starts with the Battle of the Last Alliance not only because it was establishing the backstory, but because Peter Jackson felt that the movie needed an epic battle scene with armies at both sides, not just the Fellowship vs. dozens of Orcs.
- The Two Towers starts with Gandalf's fight with the Balrog, continuing from their encounter in The Fellowship of the Ring. This not only serves as a way to re-orient audiences back into Middle-earth, but also foreshadows the return of Gandalf.
- Predator 2 starts off with a 'Predator-eye' view of a pitched gun battle between the LAPD and a street gang. This battle is interrupted when the Predator kills and 'cleans' the surviving gangsters.
- The Film of the Book of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe starts in WWII London, where German fighter pilots are conducting an air raid.
- Prince Caspian similarly starts with Caspian escaping Miraz's assassination attempt, followed by the book's original opening of the Pevensie siblings at the train station.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens with Voldemort's Death Eaters kidnapping the wandmaker Ollivander and destroying the Millennium Bridge in London.
- The 1985 IMAX film The Dream Is Alive looks like a subversion at first — it opens with about a minute of an alligator and some birds going about their business in a Florida swamp — THEN we hear sonic booms as the space shuttle flies overhead and it cuts to a dramatic touchdown, true to form.
- Diary of the Dead begins with internet footage of a zombie attack on some TV journalists, then cuts to the protagonists making a horror movie and slowly finding out about the Zombie Apocalypse. Justified as the whole movie is meant to have been edited by one of the protagonists after the event anyway.
- Gamer gets into the action prologue so thoroughly and immediately that one might find it more perplexing than exciting.
- Saving Private Ryan. Good gods. The extended opening sequence makes two firm statements: "This is as close as we can get to D-Day and maintain our rating," and "Please remove your children."
- All the Rocky sequels except the last one starts with the previous movie's climactic fight.
- True Lies
- The sequels to Lethal Weapon.
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The pre-credits prologue is a flashback of the main character's childhood, while the credits sequence is a montage of Wolverine and Sabretooth taking part in battles through the ages.
- The Tea Room shootout at the beginning of Hard Boiled.
- Gladiator begins in the Marcomannic Wars with a battle between Roman legions and German barbarians. Given how the film plays out, and the fact that the Emperor berates Commodus for missing "the entire war", this may be the final battle near the Tisza river, where the Romans beat the Marcomanni into signing a peace treaty.
- The Dark Knight Saga works like this in the sequels:
- The Dark Knight opens with the Joker and his clowns robbing a bank.
- This seems to be a reverse of the usual Batman Cold Open in that, instead of the establishing the hero's skills, the first 15 minutes has several moments designed to instill the fear of The Joker into the viewers.
- The Dark Knight Rises begins with Bane and his henchmen conducting a mid-air skyjacking and faking Dr. Pavel's death.
- The elevator hostage situation in Speed.
- Nightcrawler inside the White House in X2: X-Men United.
- Before the opening credits of Enter the Dragon even begins Bruce Lee fights and beats Sammo Hung in a nonlethal kung fu match at a Shaolin Temple in Hong Kong.
- Streets of Fire starts off with a rock concert and the lead singer being kidnapped onstage. From there, there's very little pause in the action.
- Fritz Lang loved these kind of openings, and made use of them in films like Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler , Spies, The Testament Of Dr Mabuse, and M. The better ones weave exposition into the action itself.
- Brotherhood of the Wolf begins with a martial arts fight between the two heroes and some local goons. The original script began with an extended chase through Parisian sewers.
- The Chase (1994) is pretty much lock, stock and barrel Jack Hammond's kidnapping of Natalie Voss and his attempt to escape to Mexico. Roughly 90 percent of the movie takes place on the freeway or just alongside it, and the director wastes no time whisking us right into the thick of it: from the very moment the screen fades in, we can already hear the wail of police sirens in the distance as Jack enters the convenience store looking for a hostage, and spots Natalie.
- It's not strictly an "action-packed" movie, but Purple Rain gets off to quite a heady start. Director Albert Magnoli literally does not waste even one second plunging us into the story: the Warner Brothers studio logo has not even faded from the screen yet before the strains of a synthesizer played by "Doctor Fink" (a character in the movie) are heard in the distance and the voice of the (yet unseen) master of ceremonies at the First Avenue Nightclub is heard calling out: "Ladies and gentlemen....The Revolution!" (What follows is some of the best Crowning Music of Awesome in movie musical history.)
- The Avengers begins with the Big Bad popping up to steal the MacGuffin, fighting several government agents in the process before leading into a car chase. This is before the title even appears onscreen.
- Pacific Rim opens with an introduction about the invading Kaiju and a battle between Gipsy Danger and Knifehead.
- The Rainbow Magic movie opens with Rachel and Kirsty saving Heather the Violet Fairy, then defending the rest of the Rainbow Fairies from Jack Frost.
- Natalie the Christmas Stocking Fairy's book opens with a goblin running amok in Rachel's kitchen and escaping to the Ice Castle.
- Jackie Chan's Chinese Zodiac begins with a 10 minute scene of Jackie fleeing from a Russian military base by rolling down a winding mountain road in a suit with wheels everywhere. It's not until he's out of trouble that he gets a phone call informing him about his new mission, revealing that the military base had nothing to do with the main plot of the movie.
- The Grey Griffins book series does this at least in the first two books (I haven't read the third yet). The very first chapter is of something scary happening and threatening the lead hero, Max, and his brush with death. It is then, in both cases, revealed to be a dream in the immediately following chapter.
- All of the Hawk And Fisher books start with an action totally unrelated to the story most of the book is dealing with.
- This is how Simon R Green introduces the characters to new readers in most of his books in fact, especially the Nightside series. And sometimes the opening scene contains a Chekhov's Gun or foreshadows a future book's plot
- Nearly all of the Halo novels have this.
- Starship Troopers — an influential work of science-fiction considered responsible for popularizing Death from Above, Powered Armor, Space Marine, and many other tropes the Halo games and novels are entirely built on — starts with a textbook Action Prologue, taken from about the middle of the story. Later in the book the protagonist mentions that the very enemies they were fighting in said prologue have switched to being co-belligerents in the war against the Bugs; the opening engagement may have contributed to this Heel-Face Turn.
- Harry Harrison's two series The Stainless Steel Rat and Bill the Galactic Hero often start each novel this way.
- Snow Crash starts out with a wild racing scene in which Hiro tries to deliver a pizza under threat of death. Hiro isn't even called by name until the end of the scene, when he introduces himself to YT.
- In Robert E. Howard's "The Devil in Iron", a fisherman goes into a ruin, takes up a knife, and dies.
- In "Black Colossus", a thief breaks into a tomb, fights a great snake, and screams with horror with what he sees.
- The start of A Song of Ice and Fire, egregiously. The enemy in the prologue doesn't show up until three books later, and then only in another Action Prologue.
- Book one of The Wheel of Time series starts like this, introducing Lews Therin Telamon after he's murdered his family and just before his death.
- The Tom Clancy novel Rainbow Six begins with an attempted plane hijacking by a group of terrorists. A few key members of Team Rainbow just happen to be on board, and use their extreme ingenuity to foil the attempt.
- First book of Warrior Cats starts with a fight between RiverClan and ThunderClan.
- Dead Six begins with Valentine in the middle of a job in Mexico. Lorenzo's story begins in the middle of a heist. Lampshaded as the first chapter is Prologue is called Cold Open.
- Spinneret starts this way, with humans launching their first interstellar craft, encountering aliens (several times), being shot at by aliens, having first contact with aliens, who then broker a deal for the humans to lease an unused planet... all before the first chapter begins.
- Warbreaker starts with Vasher getting out of jail. Then the focus of the next chapters shifts into another kingdom.
Live Action TV
- Many of the "opening gambits" on MacGyver.
- Subverted in the first episode of Young Blades, which opens in the middle of an intense swordfight, then quickly derails into an argument about who gets to play d'Artagnan, revealing that this is merely a game between siblings. (Then the real action begins.)
- Human Target almost always starts this way, with Christopher doing something awesome (often involving explosions).
- The first episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles opens with Sarah frantically driving to John's school and finding him in the library. They exit... to find an entire police squad waiting for them. They are arrested, and then a Terminator arrives on the scene and proceeds to kill everyone in sight, including John. Then, as a distraught Sarah watches, the nuclear holocaust begins, burning everything around her and revealing the Terminator's terrifying endoskeleton... and she wakes up. This all happens before the title even shows up onscreen.
- The first episode of Game of Thrones cold opens with a suspenseful scene that features rangers of the Night's Watch getting ambushed by White Walkers.
- A few cold openings of Doctor Who.
- "The Empty Child" begins with the TARDIS chasing after a Chula warship through a time track.
- "The Girl in the Fireplace" starts with offscreen screaming and Madame de Pompadour calling for the Doctor's name through a fireplace.
- "Love & Monsters" invokes this, the narrator character pointing out the encounter with the Doctor, a Hoix and some buckets isn't the beginning, just a good hook for the audience.
- "Gridlock" begins with a couple's flying car on a motorway being attacked by an unseen menace.
- "Human Nature" starts with the Doctor and Martha being attacked by some lasers offscreen, with the Doctor mentioning something about a watch...before it turns out to be a dream.
- "Silence in the Library" has a little girl apparently experiencing an Action Prologue through her dreams, as the Doctor and Donna board themselves up in some kind of library room.
- "Planet of the Dead" starts with Lady Christina stealing a precious cup from a museum and escaping.
- The animated serial Dreamland begins with an alien ship being pursued and attacked, crashing into the New Mexico Desert in 1947.
- "The Time of Angels" starts with River Song being chased through the spaceship Byzantium. Similarly, "The Pandorica Opens" revolves around her escaping prison, discovering the painting of the same name and warning the Doctor and Amy about it.
- "A Christmas Carol" begins with a crashing spaceship with Amy and Rory on board.
- "The Impossible Astronaut" features the Doctor running through various adventures in history in succession, while Amy and Rory read from a history book about them in 2011.
- "Day of the Moon" has Amy and Rory running as apparent fugitives, River falling off a building and the Doctor imprisoned in Area 51 three months after the events of "The Impossible Astronaut". Agent Canton Delaware apparently executes Amy and Rory, though it turns out to be faked.
- "A Good Man Goes to War" begins with a man who's centuries old and the father of Amy's child taking on the Cybermen and handing them a "message" as to the location of his wife.
- The Lion in Winter opens with King Henry sparring with his son Prince John, which establishes Henry as an aging conqueror and John as his favorite son.
- Many entries in the Assassin's Creed series open like this, with the character having access to weapons, skills and life meter that are lost at the end of the level and then laboriously reclaimed over the course of the game.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which could rightfully be called a massive Affectionate Parody to 60s and 70s spy movies, pulls an exceptionally well executed one, though it takes up to an hour. You overpower the guards, get the captured scientist, and make it back to the extraction point where Snake gets betrayed, thrown of a bridge, and as he pulls himself out of a river, the enemies detonate a nuke some miles in the distance. And as the explosion fades, you get the extremely bond-like actual opening.
- Silent Hill 3 starts with Heather in a spooky amusement park, armed with very little in the way of weapons, and wondering where she is. If you either die or reach the end (which results in her dying in a cutscene), she wakes up and realizes it's just a dream. Much later in the game, you go to that very same amusement park for real.
- Some of the James Bond games. Everything or Nothing actually started you right in the first level, without giving you a menu or anything like it before.
- From Russia With Love also did this.
- And Golden Eye 1997, which also included several missions in the time space between the film's prologue and the present-day story.
- X-Men 2: Clone Wars for the Sega Genesis does this.
- Perfect Dark starts with Joanna's very first mission as Carrington Institute agent. Also its prequel started with a mission, but it's revealed it was a Fake Action Prologue being just a simulation.
- The God of War series typically starts out by, as Yahtzee put it, "throwing you into the middle of a pitched battle just in case you thought you might be playing something with a modicum of restraint."
- Many of the Final Fantasies:
- The prologue of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night starts at ending of the previous game, Rondo of Blood: the player isn't even controlling Alucard at that point, but Richter Belmont.
- Breath of Fire III opens with the hero escaping from a mine in dragon form. The dragon's stats are such that you cannot lose the battles in this sequence.
- An example of Action Prologue involving the main villain and not the hero: Sarevok beating the crap out of an anonymous warrior and then throwing him from the top of a tower in Baldur's Gate.
- The game Prototype begins with New York in ruin and chaos as well as giving your character full ablities, then after the title appears, flashes back to "18 days ago".
- Almost the same thing happens in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows.
- Bayonetta begins with our antiheroine and Jeanne in their flashback garb fighting angels on the face of a falling clock. It might be a clever symbol for a compressed backstory narration, but it's hard to tell when the actual game is so trippy. Despite the game's reputation for putting some of the most spectacular fights in cutscenes, it's fully playable, with no control guidance for first-time players, but also no way to lose. Then, there's a whole prologue chapter, filled with control tutorials and some minor exposition. Then there's an expository cutscene and an Indy-style travel montage. Then the opening tiles play as 'netta struts off the train in Vigrid.
- Chrono Cross begins with an action/tutorial dream sequence which mimics/foreshadows an extended gameplay sequence from a (much) later dungeon.
- The first and third Uncharted games open with a very brief, enigmatic cutscene and then some kind of balls-out action sequence.
- Uncharted: Drake's Fortune opens with Nate and Elana unearthing Sir Francis' journal in the middle of the ocean, when suddenly, pirates attack and the player has to defend the boat.
- Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception opens with a bar brawl in an English pub populated by Mooks, after a deal goes bad. It's a great excuse to teach the player the new unarmed combat system.
- Guild Wars Nightfall throws the character into a corsair battle for its first quests and mission, before the "training" sequences more common in other MMO's (and other guild Wars chapters)
- Parodied in the Team Fortress 2 comic "A Fate Worse than Chess" with Explosition.
- Pitfall The Lost Expedition begins with Pitfall Harry fighting for his life against a demonic fiery jaguar while supercharged with powerful magic. After he exchanges a few blows with the beast, it pins him to the ground, and Harry has a flashback to how he got into this mess in the first place which makes up most of the rest of the game.
- Tomb Raider Underworld
- Vindictus begins with a siege on a bell tower against a giant spider. The Oracle, Tieve, wants to talk to the spider and find out why it's so frightened, so a group of soldiers, including you, are assigned to escort her to the top. Everyone is promptly ambushed by Gnolls after the leader of the soldiers finds a Fomorian Emblem, and everyone except you and Tieve are wounded or killed. The game then gives you control of your character and walks you through the combat system as you kill your way through the Gnolls and escort Tieve to the top of the tower, where you have to fight the spider as ballista spears rain down on the roof.
- The latter three Saints Row games each have one of these.
- Saints Row 2 has the Boss escaping from jail, having spent the past five years — from the boat explosion at the end of the first game to the present — in a coma.
- Saints Row 3 has the Boss, Shaundi, Johnny Gat and Josh Birk performing a botched bank robbery. The bank's opulence compared to other buildings of its type marks it as one owned by the Syndicate, the game's antagonist faction. Surprisingly, Josh — the only one who hadn't robbed a bank before at this point — was the only one concerned by the bank's aesthetic enough to be suspicious.
- Saints Row 4 has the Boss in a military operation to kill Cyrus Temple, the now-disgraced former leader of the STAG military group from the previous game. By doing this and making use of their relative "hero" status, the Boss uses it as a stepping stone to obtain the Presidency, setting the scene for the rest of the game.
- Shadow Complex begins with a man in a city with about half of the full set of equipment for a shootout with some troops and a helicopter. He is then killed, and the action switches to the actual player character, where the real Metroidvania part begins.
- Done extremely well on the Lord of the Rings video games, as the prologues are there not just to state how the fight elements are there, but also to tell most of the backstory and certain background elements.
- The prologue of The Reconstruction thrusts you into a dangerous, action-packed mission of boarding and fighting your way through an enemy ship. This is done with only a cursory introduction to the characters, and it's not really clear what's going on until the end of the prologue.
- The DS and PS1 versions of Dragon Quest IV add a prologue chapter in which you play as the hero for a short while as you look around for Eliza.
- Dark Souls introduction cutscene has this, featuring Gwyn, Nito and the Witch of Izalith taking on the dragons.
- Xenoblade begins in the middle of the war against the Mechon, where you play as Dunban in the battle that would make him a legend among the peoples of Bionis.
- Ace Attorney has a prologue in every case, usually showing the actual murder from a perspective which leaves the player enough in the dark to not get spoilered.
- In 1-1, we see Frank Sawhit murder Cindy Stone. Bonus points in that in the first few seconds of the franchise, we see a woman on the floor with a massive amount of blood seeping out of her head on screen, and we never see more blood at any point in the series.
- In 1-2, We see Redd White committing the murder. Two cases in a row and we see the true killer's face.
- In 1-4, we see the fake murder of Robert Hammond.
- In 1-5, we see two people stabbing a knife into a body.
- 2-1 shows Phoenix being knocked unconscious with a fire extinguisher.
- In 2-2, there's a car accident, a fire, and Maya in the detention center again, telling Phoenix she killed somebody. It also spoils the entire case.
- In 3-2 gives us Mask*DeMasque stealing something.
- In 3-3 we see somebody with Phoenix's silhouette poisoning somebody's coffee.
- In 3-5, We see some awesome animated lightning and the corpse, even though the player meets the victim later and it's obviously the corpse in the prologue.
- In AAI1-1, we see the murder and victim have a conversation and Edgeworth is held at gunpoint soon after.
- In AAI1-2, Edgeworth has the pleasure of discovering the body and promptly getting accused of the murder.
- In AAI1-3, we see the continuation of the ending of the last case. Edgeworth is playing ransom delivery boy and manages to get kidnapped.
- In AAI1-4, we get Courtroom Antics were the witnesses accuses the prosecutor of being the real murderer.
- In AAI1-5, we get to see the embassy burn and various spottings of the Yatagarasu.
- In AAI2-1, we get a press-conference being derailed by an assassination attempt.
- In The Walking Dead, Lee spends about three to four minutes in the back of a police cruiser before a collision with a walker sets him free and lands him in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse.
- Far Cry 3 seems to start in the traditional "introduction of the characters" sense, but within two minutes, you discover that you've been captured by pirates that are not at all friendly, you and your older brother break out, sneak around the base looking for an exit, and then your brother gets shot and you're running for your life through a dark jungle, chased by guys with guns, dogs, a bear and a helicopter. Only once this sequence ends does the game take on a less edge-of-your-seat-action stance.
- Far Cry 1's first level, despite being a tutorial, is surprisingly action-packed and difficult.
- Dark Chronicle opens with Badass Princess Monica Raybrandt fighting off Emperor Gryphon's soldiers in her home, and charges ahead to see her father having just been assassinated and said assassin leaving. We then transition to Max, about to go to the circus.
- Soldier of Fortune II's prologue mission throws you almost straight into the fray, with Mullins rescuing Dr. Ivanovich from a heavily-guarded hotel in Prague, then escaping with him across the countryside to a train station.
- The first game also had an action prologue with a hostage situation in a New York subway, giving a sneak peak of one of the main villains at the end.
- Modern Warfare's prologue, "Crew Expendable", is a fast close-quarters battle, in contrast to "Blackout", the first plot mission, which is relatively quiet.
- Red Faction II starts with Alias, when he was one of Sopot's Elite Guards, infiltrating a military complex to steal the Nanocell.
- Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has an on-rails helicopter mission before the title screen and Forced Tutorial.
- Parasite Eve begins when Aya's date at Carnegie Hall gets rudely interrupted when Eve awakens and begins the mitochondrial uprising by burning alive nearly everyone present. Parasite Eve 2 starts with Aya responding to an outbreak of Neo-Mitochondrial Creatures at the Akropolis Tower in downtown Los Angeles.
- Grand Theft Auto V begins with Michael and Trevor robbing an armored car depot in North Yankton 9 years prior to the story proper.
- Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis begins with Indy sifting through the university's large collection of artifacts. The task is not as benign as it seems. Indy gets hurt. A lot. The game uses the (several) moments when he's out cold to display credits.
- Aquapunk starts off in the middle of a small, routine, military operation that goes painfully awry. Not only do unusual numbers of enemy casualties result, but the main character, Coron, winds up realizing that something's up and starts getting ideas that shape the decide the rest of the plot.
- The Sluggy Freelance story arc "Phoenix Rising" (well, the Oasis half of it, anyway) begins right away with Oasis fighting a group of convenience store robbers. Things then quiet down for a while, giving us time to know the characters, before the action starts up again when Nash Straw kills Lupae.
- Pibgorn's arcs start this way, but they're so confusing they're pretty much Mind Screw prologues. For example, the latest arc began with a Rapunzel Haired Pibgorn messing around with dewdrops in a meadow, with the panels interrupted by a giant rack-focused number 8 on a plain white background out of nowhere. It then switched to short-haired Pibgorn and Drucilla talking on a glacier (Rapunzel-Hair Pib is a flashback). Pib suddenly fainted then attacked Drucilla who fought back, and then the giant 8 explodes in a shower of Photoshop brushes.
- Remus begins with a Right Wing Militia Fanatic flying a plane into the White House, continues by showing the United States descending into a second Civil War, and then caps off the prologue with a glimpse of said war through the eyes of the comic's resident Knife Nut. It then jumps 17 years forward, where the plot begins.
- In Rusty and Co., level 4 and level 6 both begin with action — luring the cave monsters, and fighting bullywogs respectively. The first doesn't reappear until the end of the level. The second is a clue, but the bullywogs don't reappear.
- JourneyQuest opens with a Bard sneaking into an Orc camp, then doubles back to a more normal introduction when she asks, "what really happened?".
- Ayla and the Birthday Brawl of the Whateley Universe starts with the Vindicators fighting their way through a base to confront a supervillain. When they lose, it's revealed to be a holographic simulation that is part of their Team Tactics course.
- The pilot of Demo Reel starts off with a terrible parody of The Sixth Sense, but then morphs into Donnie and his friends dealing with the awful reaction to it and wanting to do something even bigger.
- Bay 12 RWBY Roleplay starts with the transport the future students are on being hit with a missile as their initiation. In that manner, it takes after its inspiration.
- The entire American Dad! episode "Tearjerker" is a James Bond parody, the beginning specifically that of the opening sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me.
- The first episode of Gravity Falls features Dipper and Mabel crashing through a billboard in a golf cart as they try to escape from a mysterious, gigantic monster. The rest of the episode is dedicated to explaining the circumstances that led them into that situation.
- The series Slugterra opens with a slugslinging battle between Will Shane and Dr. Blakk.
- Batman: The Animated Series, "Pretty Poison": After the exposition-laden opening, the next sequence is Batman fighting his way through a ton of Irony that his friend Harvey Dent is unintentionally laying on as he describes Bruce Wayne's Rich Idiot with No Day Job lifestyle.