A first episode of a show that is flashier than the rest of the series is an accepted practice, since it's supposed to wow you and pull you into the story. Even if much action doesn't occur, the timing and budget of the episode is noticeably good. These differences are accepted and even encouraged. Might also be a {{Pilot}} which differs significantly from the series due to ExecutiveMeddling or whatnot.

However, if the first episode sets a fanciful creative premise but the later bits of the story clearly show a shove back to the reliance on tired subplots (or even a GenreShift), the audience can feel unfairly fooled or betrayed. This is often indicated in the SecondEpisodeMorning.

Should hopefully not be coupled with a following OffModel episode. Contrast with InnocuouslyImportantEpisode. See also EarlyInstallmentWeirdness, where the oddities (in light of what follows) extend past the pilot, as well as DroppedAfterThePilot.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/CoyoteRagtimeShow'' is an indicative example: The first episode: Female detective and a local ditzy blond cop are on the trail of a notorious criminal who's hiding out in a prison. The rest of the series is from the criminal's point of view.
* The first episode of ''Manga/{{Narutaru}}'' is very lighthearted and relaxed. The rest of the series... not so much.
* ''Anime/FutakoiAlternative'' opens with a fast-paced, manic and comedic first episode. The rest of the series is comprised of more gentle SliceOfLife episodes.
* Discussed and lampshaded in ''Anime/CrossAnge'', where during the next-episode preview of Episode 1, the characters [[BreakingTheFourthWall remark about]] how the series is supposed to be a {{shojo}} mecha anime, but didn't seem like it, with one asking [[JustHereForGodzilla where the mecha were]]. In reality, only the first half of the episode (the game of lacrosse-on-hoverbikes) is really non-indicative; the rest is a DownerBeginning that sets things up for the rest of the show.
* ''Anime/GenesisClimberMospeada'' has a space battle opening that introduces an entire series cast aboard a TransformingMecha carrying warship on its way to a battle. The ship is destroyed, and the lone survivor must pick his way through ScavengerWorld, meeting the rest of the real cast one by one -- working through a DebutQueue.
* [[Manga/GakkouGurashi School Live]] begins with a light-hearted story about a young girl who founded a school club which got permission to stay at school from a particularly beloved teacher. As the episode comes to a close, it turns out... The girl is blocking out that a ZombieApocalypse broke out.
* ''The Melancholy of LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya'' starts with "The Adventures of Mikuru Asahina", a painfully low-budget, [[BadBadActing badly-acted]], and terribly directed and edited student film that combines StylisticSuck with as many clichéd anime genres it can think of (MagicalGirl shows, HighSchool comedy, {{Shojo}} romance, etc). However, it's actually {{foreshadowing}} several key plot points in the ''real'' story (which starts with the next episode), with the brief lapses in the {{Masquerade}} serving as plot hooks.
** The chronologically first episode (which you'll likely see if you're watching them online) is even worse. It's painted out to be a typical high school anime. Stick with it. It gets much better.
*** The series is [[GenreBusting genre busting]] anyway. There ''are'' episodes that feel like a typical high school anime in there.
* The first two episodes of ''Anime/EarthMaidenArjuna'' make it look like a MagicalGirl series, even though it's really more like a serious version of ''WesternAnimation/CaptainPlanetAndThePlaneteers''.
* ''Anime/StrainStrategicArmoredInfantry'' opened like a sweet, idealistic school show with HumongousMecha, then took an abrupt left turn when [[EverybodysDeadDave half the cast died]].
* The first episode of ''Anime/NowAndThenHereAndThere'' makes the show look like a kid's story about the typical energetic shonen protagonist who has adventures in another world. In the next episode he's captured and tortured nearly to death...and then it goes FromBadToWorse.
* The first episode (actually, the first ''and'' second episodes, fused into one one-hour special) of ''Manga/{{Gintama}}'' deserves special mention -- if only because it's a ''[[{{Filler}} filler episode]]''. There's a reason why fans will tell you to "Skip to 3!" and it's not because of hopscotch, people.
* The first few episodes of ''Manga/ChronoCrusade'' make the show out to be a fairly breezy comedy with pretty nuns and a friendly devil. Then it gets darker and darker until [[spoiler:[[DownerEnding 3 of the 4 main characters die]], and the BigBad survives the final battle because he has an AsLongAsThereIsEvil escape clause]].
* ''Manga/MurderPrincess'' is an example where the first episode is ''darker'' than the rest of the series.
* ''Anime/HeroicAge's'' first episode is about a lone teenager stranded on a planet, raised by computers, and contacted by other humans. It quickly turns into a space battle anime.
* The first episode of ''Anime/TheTowerOfDruaga: The Aegis of Uruk'' is an out and out parody of fantasy videogame and anime cliches. [[spoiler:Turns out it was AllJustADream after the hero got knocked out in the first fight]].
* ''Manga/LuckyStar'' admittedly does this with their first episode, misleading many viewers curious about its SurrealThemeTune on whether or not this is actually a series about food.
* The first episode of ''Anime/NajicaBlitzTactics'' features plenty of [[LesYay lesbian behavior]], implying there might be more in future, especially between the two protagonists. Unfortunately, [[BaitAndSwitchLesbians there wasn't]].
* ''Manga/FromEroicaWithLove'' at first appears to be a typical shoujo manga, about a PowerTrio with PsychicPowers, one of whom is accused of being the GentlemanThief Eroica. But it's really an action packed ''Film/JamesBond'' Spoof, with the two leads being Eroica and "Iron Klaus".
** That's because it was originally going to be about the PowerTrio, until the author decided Eroica was much more interesting and changed the focus.
* ''Anime/TelepathyShoujoRan'' hints at becoming a rather dark affair in its first episode. The opposite is the case, especially since [[DarkMagicalGirl Midori]]'s {{heel face turn}} occurs very early in the series.
* ''Manga/TowardTheTerra'''s opening few episodes would not lead one to expect an epic SpaceOpera, even with the opening.
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' kicks off with an adventure where Ed and Al wander into a town and discredit a false prophet, which makes it seem like a {{walking the earth}} affair with Ed and Al stopping bad guys at different {{adventure towns}} each week, which isn't entirely true (though the story has some elements of all these tropes).
** While the [[Anime/FullmetalAlchemist 2003 anime adaptation]] also starts with this story, ''[[Manga/FullmetalAlchemist Brotherhood]]'' doesn't visit this story until its third episode, after the backstory has been delved into somewhat. Instead, it begins with a filler story which is basically pure action, involving an evil ice-using alchemist, which makes it seem like a straight-on action {{shounen}}, which is also not entirely true. [[spoiler: And then, about thirty some odd episodes later, you learn that the evil ice-using alchemist was actually more of an AntiVillain, and that that filler was actually an extreme case of foreshadowing.]]
* ''Anime/GaReiZero'' begins by introducing an elite unit of spiritual monster slayers in a flash-forward. [[spoiler: The first episode ends with the entire unit being wiped out by a swordswoman]]. Then, in the second episode, we get to see the actual main cast fighting the aforementioned swordswoman. Then we rewind and the story begins for real [[spoiler: starring the previously mentioned [[FallenHero villain]]]].
* The first chapter of ''Manga/BillyBat'' makes it appear the series will be a film noir parody with a cast of animals. Halfway through chapter two, it's revealed that this is a [[ShowWithinAShow comic within a comic]], and its creator is the real main character.
* The first episode of the ''{{Manga/Berserk}}'' anime is chronologically set ''after'' the events of the rest of the series, in which Guts has already become the one-eyed/one-armed wandering mercenary he is known to be. The rest of the series covers how he got to be that way.
* The DVD box art combined with the first episode of the anime ''VideoGame/{{Gungrave}}'' makes you think this will be a GrimDark show about an old lone gunman fighting evil, right? Guess what, the majority of the series from that point on is a giant flashback that shows how two small-time thieves rise up through a mafia-like organization to the point where it reaches the time of the first episode.
* The first episode of ''Gamers!'' sees protagonist Keita getting invited to join the newly-formed gaming club by its president, [[GamerChick Karen]]. The show looks as though it's going to be a standard SliceOfLife series about after-school activities... only for Keita to turn the club down because [[SchoolClubsAreSeriousBusiness it's too hardcore for his liking]]. From there, the story takes a hard right into a LoveDodecahedron-fueled romantic dramedy that just happens to be about gamers. (This is, however, hinted at earlier in the episode, with Tasuku and [[SheIsNotMyGirlfriend Aguri]] being shown together along with captions indicating that they'll be important later.)
* The first few pages of ''[[http://www.tnemrot.com/ Tnemrot]]'' make it look like it's about the main character surviving in an apocalyptic wasteland TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture. Then he's captured and we see it's Pokemon with real people.
* The first two-and-a-half episodes of ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'' make the series look like a MagicalGirl series with SliceOfLife. That's [[GenreDeconstruction half-correct]], and the scene with the [[EldritchLocation witch's barrier]] right at the end of episode 1 makes it clear this is not your usual happy fun time show...
* ''VisualNovel/RumblingHearts'' begins as a sweet, almost saccharine story of young lovers coming together despite awkwardness and misgivings, promising to overcome their initial mistakes. And then in the last five minutes of episode two, it goes wrong.
* The first episode of ''LightNovel/CubeXCursedXCurious'' made it look like a cute, lighthearted SliceOfLife show with a supernatural twist. Halfway through Episode 2, that perception goes to hell.
* The very first episode of ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanoha'' is chock full of magical girl cliches. The deconstructions start immediately in the second episode.
* ''Anime/DogDays'' (made by the same company as ''Nanoha'') has a Non-Indicative First ''Half-Episode''. It looks like the protagonist is being pulled into a standard fantasy plot where he has to help one kingdom in a war against another, but then we see [[CombatCommentator an announcer commentating on the war as if it were a sports game]]...
** Episode 2 is also when the ClothingDamage {{Fanservice}} begins in earnest.
* If you only read the first chapter of ''Manga/{{Saikano}}'' you will think the manga is over. When you begin the second chapter you will think it's an Anthology of happy little feel good Shojo oneshots [[spoiler: instead of the most horrible and depressing [[WarIsHell War Drama]] ever.]] In the End [[spoiler: the Heroine has to watch her boyfriend starve to death.]] And it's all her fault. You want to read the first chapter again and pretend the whole rest of the series was just a bad dream.
* ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'' seems like this until it's revealed that [[spoiler:the guy who appears in the start is Simon]]. Even then, though, the scene as it appears in the opening never happens in the show.
* Technically, ''Anime/TearsToTiara''s first episode has no indictive of the actual plot. It's a classic hero story until the supposed BigBad becomes the VillainProtagonist in the second episode, and then further from there.
* TheNineties English dub of ''Anime/SailorMoon'' did this by pulling stuff from toward the end of the first season into the first episode and creating a monologue telling the story of the downfall of the Moon Kingdom and the Princess and the Sailors being sent to the future on earth. Because the original Japanese version doesn't have this and doesn't start getting grander in scope until toward the end of the first half, the dub goes back to being a normal action-adventure series until it becomes important to the plot.
* Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion starts out just like any other SuperRobot series before turning out to be a GenreDeconstruction. The series' creator, Creator/HideakiAnno, should reportedly have complained about how it was out of tune with the rest. Apparently he was trying to set up an atmosphere of total despair for the rest of the series with the episode and felt he failed in this aspect.
* Episode 0 of the ''LightNovel/HowToRaiseABoringGirlfriend'' anime has the cast fully assembled, and is heavy on the fanservice and harem antics. The first episode proper dials the fanservice way back, and shows how the main character gathers everyone.
* In a very minor example, the first episode of ''Anime/ACertainScientificRailgun'' has some subtle differences that don't match the tone of the rest of the series. Mikoto is a lot more bold, blatantly breaks laws in front of her law enforcer friend for no particular reason, and when faced with a criminal about to run her down with a car, casually stands in the way and fires her railgun ''directly at the car'', causing it to spin several times before landing in a ''crater'', ''vertically''. In the rest of the show, fights are handled much more realistically, with Mikoto flinching at an expected punch, a later fight involving a falling vehicle ending more [[GutPunch how you'd expect]], and her refusing to use her railgun against a power armor suit for fear of injuring the person inside. This becomes more than EarlyInstallmentWeirdness when the first episode of the second season does it again, in a plot [[CallBack nearly parallel to the first]]. In this episode, multiple criminals are trying to get away and they're doing so in a helicopter, which she still fires her railgun at despite the wide range of explosive variables that entails. The rotor just barely misses her head as it flies off and she still doesn't flinch, while the rest of the helicopter luckily crashes into an empty body of water while her teleporter friend saves the criminals who were conveniently not injured by any of the explosions. While the rest of the series has comparable action, those two episodes stand out for ignoring the consequences in favor of RuleOfCool.
* The first episode of ''Manga/PeacemakerKurogane'' makes it look like a dark, bloody, action-packed samurai anime, with a HotBlooded protagonist {{Deconstruction}}, especially with the MoodWhiplash at the end of the first episode. The second one onwards, it's actually more of a SliceOfLife Dramedy, that covers the lives of the Shinsengumi, with some ''occasional'' swordplay. (Though this is more true for the anime, since it OvertookTheManga, it had to add in {{Filler}}. The manga is a lot more like the first, [[FinalBattle and the last couple of episodes]].)
* The first chapter of ''{{Manga/Noragami}}'' was a stand-alone story featuring a different female lead and some other supernatural elements that were [[DroppedAfterThePilot never seen again]]. The anime adaptation therefore [[RetGone skipped the first chapter entirely]] save for one scene and started with Chapter 2.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The first episode of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' had a very "Look what we can do ''now'', bitches," feel to it in terms of special effects. By contrast, the visual effects and plots on the next three episodes wouldn't have looked out of place on the original series (indeed, the very next episode was a rehash of another, rather better, episode of ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries''.)
* The opening of the premiere episode of ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' begins with a flashback to one of the biggest battles in franchise lore (indeed, the most detailed canon depiction yet) and then promptly goes... to a broken-down space station the Federation recently inherited. It then looks like that the series is going to be about the Federation dealing with cooperation with the relatively primitive Bajorans, who were just liberated from occupation by another alien race. But then near the end of the episode, all of a sudden this wormhole starts to open up right next door....
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' begins with scrolling text about the state of the Maquis, a group of rebels fighting the Federation. The USS ''Voyager'' gets ready to track down a particular group of these bandits from a place called "The Badlands" and retrieve a Federation officer working undercover. Then both the ''Voyager'' and the bandits get suddenly transported to the literal other end of the galaxy.
* The opening episode of ''[[Series/BlakesSeven Blake's 7]]'' has Blake contacted by a resistance group on Earth asking him to join them...then they all get killed. Blake gets framed for assaulting children and sentenced to deportation but an idealistic lawyer finds evidence that he's innocent...then gets killed. Only two other regulars appear, late on and as relatively innocuous fellow prisoners, and the villains are very matter-of-fact, destroying Blake simply because it's their job, unlike flamboyant BigBad Servalan who appears half a season later. Blake doesn't have the Liberator and there's no sign of EnsembleDarkhorse Avon, who appears in every other episode. It's possibly the most non-indicative first episode ever.
* ''Series/TheInvisibleMan'' series had a pilot with a very distinctive style of cinematography and a variety of settings and camera angles thrown in that give it a visual style that is very distinct (and probably very expensive) from the rest of its episodes. It was also ''a lot'' more comedy oriented than the rest of the series, including stuff like a scene with Darien and Hobbes getting into a gunfight with a couple of Canadian terrorists with the latter dual wielding assault rifles and screaming "SCREW THE EXPOS!".
* The pilot of ''Series/{{Airwolf}}'' is much more cerebral and slower-paced than future episodes would be. Future villains would rarely be on par with Doctor Moffet, who could've easily carried a permanent BigBad status if not for being killed off. This effect becomes even more pronounced after the first season, when the show moved away from its down-to-earth commentary on the Cold War.
* In the ''Series/UpstairsDownstairs'' pilot, a lot of things go just as they go in the show - but Alfred is a creepy, biblically-speaking maid-harassing implied perv. In the actual show he didn't speak any too funnily, and he was made silghtly awkward, non-Bible quoting, secretly {{Gayngst}}ing nice guy who unfortunately was [[ValuesDissonance doomed when he let his deviation out from the closet]].
* The pilot episode of ''Series/{{Alphas}}'' featured a lot of [[RealisticDictionIsUnrealistic Realistic Diction]] and overlapping dialogue. This was presumably considered too hard on the viewers, so in the later episodes only Dr. Rosen kept (toned-down) realistic diction, as a character quirk.
* Because it had to actually bring together the [[CaperCrew ragtag group of thieves]], the pilot of ''Series/{{Leverage}}'' is missing several of the hallmarks of later episodes. The crew initially get together for a fairly simple heist in exchange for money, rather than for their later-standard Robin Hood motives. The more philanthropic reasoning behind their jobs doesn't factor in until the second episode. [[JustifiedTrope Unlike many examples, there's a valid in-story reason for this]]: they made so much on their first job [[note]]over $32 million ''each''[[/note]] they didn't need to pull off scams for monetary reasons later.
* More of a case of First ''Season'' rather than First Episode on ''Series/TheListener''. Everything the first season set up, including main characters, secondary characters, character development/relationships and the entire subplot of the series, is dropped completely in favor of a basic Crime Procedural. To make matters worse, the first season ended in several cliffhangers that were never even remotely addressed by the time the series finale came around.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* While not a show, the first blog post of ''Blog/JustAnotherFool'' is entirely different from the rest of the blog; it's a meandering ramble about Logan's watch, which is not related to the rest of the story, in the slightest. [[spoiler: Until it becomes a ChekhovsGun...]]
* ''WebAnimation/BadDays'' kicks off with a short featuring several Creator/MarvelComics superheroes' and villains' bad days. Later episodes each focus on only one hero, or sometimes a team of heroes.
* From the trailer and pilot episode of ''WebVideo/DemoReel'', you would expect [[HamAndCheese hammy]] comedy and StylisticSuck to be the norm, right? Then the show takes a sharp turn into CerebusSyndrome and tackles subjects like institutionalized sexism and racism in [[HorribleHollywood Hollywood]], chronic depression and [[spoiler:maternal suicide]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The two part pilot for ''WesternAnimation/TheDreamstone'' is somewhat more actionized than the rest of the show, the heroes and the mystical background of the Dreamstone are given more serious CharacterDevelopment and even a death occurs (a couple more [[DisneyDeath are teased]] to emphasize the danger of the mission). Afterwards the show quickly downgrades to a RoadRunnerVsCoyote cartoon, the focus more on the Urpney's slapstick or the [[TastesLikeDiabetes cutesy goings on]] of the Noops. In addition Rufus, who was the main protagonist of the pilot, is demoted in favor of making the Urpneys {{Villain Protagonist}}s.
* Apparently invoked for ''WesternAnimation/BobsBurgers'': the creators knew that Fox would never pick up the kind of intelligent, progressive SliceOfLife show they were pitching, and deliberately made the pilot more juvenile and ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy''-esque so that Fox would pick it up. Once they did, and it was too late for Fox to back out, they promptly set about making the show they ''really'' wanted to make.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' had its first two episodes appear to be a ponified version of a MagicalGirl series. Although episodes can have adventure elements (especially when any more 2-parters get thrown in), it's far more of a Slice of Life series instead.[[note]][[DependingOnTheWriter Except when it's not.]][[/note]]
* In-universe example: On ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' there was a cop show featuring a handsome, hyper-competent character named [[NamedLikeMyName Homer Simpson]]. By the second episode, however, he was turned into a fat, bumbling doofus.
* ''WesternAnimation/WinxClub'' is an example of "non indicative first 13 episodes". It appears to be a fantasy advanture series about three magic schools, and the adventures of Bloom, and the four friends she makes, then Bloom's DisappearedDad comes up...[[note]]It takes a total of [[ArcFatigue three seasons (specifically, 78 episodes) and one movie]] in order for them to finally reunite; something that may or may not have ever happened if the show had been suddenly canceled...[[/note]]