Your mission, should you choose to accept it...
The briefing before a mission, of whatever form.
In one form of this, the boss gets an aide to turn the lights down and run through a series of slides as he gives the briefing. One of these slides will be "the best photo we could get" of the Big Bad
or The Dragon
, and there will usually be a line to the effect of "we lost three men getting this out
of Commie Land
" or wherever.
Military briefings will either take place in a proper briefing room or theatre, or consist of a bunch of officers hunched over a map table.
Sometimes this is used for comedic effect when The Plan
has to do with something non-military, and often not deserving of such seriousness. (Such as planning out how to get ice for the barbecue). Might be a way of lampshading Serious Business
. Occasionally this is done by a person giving a briefing without an audience.
Allows a character to be Mr. Exposition
about what will happen next in the story.
Naturally, these are frequently given before levels in Real-Time Strategy
, First-Person Shooter
, or Simulation Games
Occasionally, the Mission Briefing
will include This Page Will Self-Destruct
and/or Obstacle Exposition
. See also: Unspoken Plan Guarantee
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Anime & Manga
- Area 88 features several briefings in all incarnations, since it's a series about a foreign legion air force.
- Genshiken has Madarame explaining at the clubroom every single detail of the titular group's visit to the "Comifes". Everything goes just as planned... except for Madarame, who destroys his arm and is taken to the infirmary after delivering a long-winded, dramatic pre-"death" speech.
- In Lucky Star Konata holds a mission briefing with Kagami and Tsukasa before entering Comiket (A large anime/manga convention). Tsukasa fails to follow the plan and soon falls victim to the enemy.
- DC: The New Frontier: In a scene that evokes the Star Wars briefing scenes, the greatest minds in America tell America's greatest heroes how to attack the Centre.
- In The DCU, Suicide Squad missions would usually start with a mission briefing delivered by Amanda Waller.
- The SEALs in Act of Valor conduct a number of briefings, mostly of the formal variety, before their missions.
- Back to the Future The Doc Brown of 1955 builds an elaborate model of Hill Valley to explain to Marty how he's going to get him back to 1985.
- He then does the same thing in Part III - Marty, familiar with the drill by now, finishes his line about it not being to scale. Of course, in both movies, the already-complex plan has to be stretched to accomodate a lot of last-minute changes.
- Possibly one of the earliest examples; the model house rehearsal from The Dirty Dozen. Of course, because we hear it step by step, it doesn't go exactly as planned.
- Star Wars:
- A New Hope has the briefing before the attack on the Death Star. Luke spoke up about how the impossible-seeming goal wasn't really.
- The Empire Strikes Back has a much less formal one, with Leia outlining the plan for their Delaying Action and evacuation of their base on Hoth, and addressing the concerns raised by the pilots (nicely setting up the Ion Cannon that knocks out a Star Destroyer later on). Unusually, this plan goes off more or less exactly as she explained it would.
- And again in Return of the Jedi, as the Rebel Alliance plans for their assault on the second Death Star.
- And again in The Phantom Menace when R2D2 displays a hologram outlining the palace raid.
- In both the original Oceans Eleven and the remake Danny explains to the other ten how they plan on pulling off the heist in Las Vegas.
- Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, with Kevin Costner explaining how he's going to rescue the prisoners as they're being hanged.
- The Rock has the SEAL team leader brief first the Washington bigwigs on the overall plan, and later his team (plus Mason and Goodspeed) on the details.
- In Toy Story, Woody outlines the toys' attack on Sid, using a model built from dominoes and other objects from Sid's room.
- Several briefings are shown in The Longest Day. During the glider assault on Pegasus Bridge, Major Howard mentally reviews what he's been told in his briefing - particularly the final part: "Hold until relieved."
- The computer simulation at the beginning of Titanic sort of functions as this, allowing the audience to easily follow what's happening when the ship starts sinking, freeing the characters from having to suddenly turn into Mr. Exposition in the middle of a disaster.
- Apollo13 has a mid-mission briefing, where Gene Kranz calls together his teams to inform them to forget the flight-plan; all of their careful planning is in the toilet and they are improvising a new mission from scratch, the sole objective being the safe return of Apollo 13 to Earth. Naturally, the overhead projector he starts using to illustrate this shorts out, leaving him with nothing but a blackboard, a room full of brilliant engineers with severely conflicting ideas on what to do next, and his own determination: "Failure is not an option!".
- In Prometheus, the mission briefing is elaborate, taking on the form of a Lecture As Exposition, featuring a Holographic Interface.
- In Aliens, the Colonial Marines get a briefing before descending onto the planet.
- In Flight of the Intruder, we see a far more impromptu version of this, with an officer running out to give Grafton his new mission as he is preparing to launch. As their missions are normally given very detailed planning, he isn't very happy. Their new objective, three North Vietnamese fighter jets spotted at an airfield, is a trap. They end up running into a flak barrage and The Boxman is killed.
- Since it's a series about pilots, this happens regularly in the X-Wing Series. It's implied to happen before every mission. The readers see it either before something unexpected happens, forcing a change of plans, or because some important bit of character interaction shows up before, during, or after.
- Tucker Max gets a few of these in his stories that rely on more exposition than stream of consciousness for comedic effect.
Live Action TV
- Alias has these practically Once an Episode— often more than once, and with debriefings as well. Television Without Pity dubbed the "Conference Room of Endless Exposition" as such for that reason.
- Battlestar Galactica makes use of this trope over and over again, during pre-flight briefings for pilots and battle planning throughout the series. As with the Stargate franchise, this is a military organization so it would be expected protocol. Used notably in episode 1.10 "The Hand of God" to explain to most of the main cast and the audience the plan of attack on a cylon-occupied asteroid. The briefing also leaves out key details, because Adama was concerned about Cylon infiltrators, and also probably to demonstrate to President Roslin that he didn't like or trust her.
- Band of Brothers depicts formal briefings for both D-Day and Operation Market Garden, as well as less formal ones for patrols and individual battles.
- Occurs occasionally on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, most notably in the episode "Hush", which came complete with the lights turned down and an audiovisual presentation... but no spoken dialogue since their voices had all been stolen.
- Also done as a Contrast Montage in "Doomed" to show the different methodology of the Initiative and the Scooby Gang. Buffy's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits brainstorms together, checks the books, and works things out, while the Initiative gives orders from superior to inferior, checks the (inaccurate) data files, and sticks to rigid orders. Later when Buffy joins the Initiative she keeps interrupting the briefing to ask questions and make jokes.
- Dog The Bounty Hunter has the team gather for these before going after bail jumpers to review the relevant information on them.
- Parody example: An episode of Get Smart has Agent Smart's message briefing delivered via tape:
"That is your mission, should you choose to accept it. Should you choose not to accept it, then you're fired."
- Almost a once per episode on JAG. Usually it is Admiral Chegwidden who, following the opening title sequence, hands a new case or mission to either Harm, Mac or to them both.
- Done Once an Episode on Leverage to describe The Mark and his various evil activities using fancy slideshows, unusual in that it's Hardison who does it instead of Nate, the team's leader. Usually, everyone butts in with their own comments or the character who actually knows what they're talking about takes over the briefing.
- The much-parodied tape messages from Mission: Impossible:
"Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to ____________. As always, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim."
- Both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis do this about Once an Episode. The mission briefings are frequently sources of lasting funny quotes and snarky one-liners. This is protocol, since it is a military organization, which holds briefings before and debriefings after operations. Atlantis probably follows the same protocols since most of its personnel are in the Air Force.
- Repeatedly parodied by Whose Line Is It Anyway?, usually by Greg Proops as the voice on the tape.
"If you or any of your team are caught or killed, I don't wanna know your butt. You're sad losers. This tape will self-destruct NOW!"
- In Paranoia, the PCs play a team of Troubleshooters sent out on missions, so naturally there's always a Mission Briefing early on. Although, this being Paranoia, getting to the briefing is often a challenge in itself. Sometimes finding the briefing is a challenge. Sometimes a clone or two gets killed before the team makes it there.
- Almost every mission in the Ace Combat games is prefaced with a briefing, usually with a wire-grid map with marked targets in the PS2 titles. If the map is blank, that is a very very bad sign.
- The Command & Conquer series used full-screen FMV briefings from the onset, with occasional twists:
- During the GDI campaign of Tiberian Dawn one of your objectives gets Lost In Transmission, while over the first half of the Brotherhood of Nod campaign your intelligence grows increasingly inaccurate.
- Tiberian Sun was a departure in that the FMVs depicted someone else receiving a briefing. To help make up for this, the following map screen gave the player additional information as well as the option to complete side missions that affected the main mission.
- Red Alert 3 may like mission briefings a little too much. Before every mission you're given an full-screen FMV briefing, being told what your mission is. Then you go to a world map where the female officer tells you your mission in more detail. Then you finally go to another screen where a computerized voice shows a map of the mission itself, telling you what to do in even more detail. Some missions even have further briefings once you're on the field.
- The first Generals game didn't put much effort into its briefings, only giving you a voice-over as you stared at a map while the level loaded. Its Zero Hour expansion mixed things up with news reports that described what was going on, followed by instructions from your Mission Control once the level started.
- Company of Heroes gave you a mission briefing (with the map as a visual) at the outset of each mission. These would appear periodically throughout each mission, to provide more detail about either the next objective (if the player had just completed one of a series of tasks in the level) or how the player was expected to respond to a drastic change in the situation (if one had been scripted).
- The game Far Cry 2 notably has no actual mission briefing of sorts, however, after the first five minutes (or so) of cinematic gameplay, you end up in a bed unable to move, where you are confronted by the Big Bad, who reads your mission objectives to you.
- FEAR features a mission briefing at the beginning of the game from the protagonist's point of view. During the briefing, you're introduced to the main allies and the source of your abilities is more or less explained. It ends up ultimately unnecessary.
- Each Mass Effect game has at least one, of varying degree of detail. Mass Effect 3 had the most, with briefings for most of the main campaign missions. Meanwhile, Mass Effect 2 allowed the player to make key decisions during the pre-mission brief, which would affect the outcome of the mission.
- While you oftentimes didn't see any PHYSICAL briefing, all of the Franchise/METROID games had a mission, and in Zero Mission and Fusion, you had at the very least one textual briefing. Other M had full on vocal briefings. The way it was handled, however, was not appreciated.
- The Naval Ops series has a briefing before each mission that lays out your objectives, likely enemies, and suggested armament.
- Unreal Tournament III: occasionally the characters are shown in a briefing room in cinematics. A minimalist example is done at every mission loading screen; schematics and still shots are displayed with a summation that sounds like it's being delivered in a briefing.
- The mission brief is a staple of the Wing Commander games, which isn't really surprising given that WC's setting is a military one. Also where one can find one of the early swipes at Maniac:
Halcyon: I thought so. Now, let's look at your patrol plan, Maverick. It's a simple three-point route, with a few asteroids near Nav 2. Keep alert. We really don?t know what to expect out there, but we know we're in hairball territory. Just fly your route and get back with a report—and if Maniac gives you any static, you have my permission to shoot him to pieces.
Maverick: Should I use missiles, sir, or ship's guns?
Halcyon: Guns, Maverick. Save your missiles for important targets.
Halcyon: Squadron dismissed.
- Team Fortress 2: When you join a server, you get the bare bones of your mission presented to you in an old-timey black and white movie (and on Territory Control, what parts of the map have been won by which teams drawn on the blackboard).
- Every single MechWarrior and Mech Commander mission is prefaced by a text, audio, or video briefing. No surprise, given that all these games are about martial in nature. These briefings are usually the only thing providing context to your mission, and will occasionally clue you in on any nasty surprises the mission might have waiting for you. The Mechwarrior 2 series was notable for providing tons of background fluff text as extra additions to their otherwise straightforward briefings—like the briefings themselves, these fluff text bits occasionally provided helpful hints that would not otherwise be revealed anywhere else (such as the specific weaknesses of certain enemies).
- Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kids. Always ended by Wally dragging Elvis the dog into the lair and the computer's sneeze blasting the team out of the room.
- In the Futurama episode "War Is the H-Word," Earth declares war on Spheron I, a planet that commanding general Zapp Brannigan describes in a briefing as devoid of any natural resources and possessing no strategic value. Zapp Brannigan briefs the troops in front of a large Earth Government flag, a parody of the opening scene of the movie Patton. Richard Nixon's Head also joins in.
- The Houndcats ripped...um, alluded to the Mission Impossible briefings at the start of every episode.