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Anime and Manga
- The hentai OVA Urotsukidouji opens with a narrator summarizing the Legend of the Overfiend, over images of a fiery hell where demons are having sex.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing begins with a narrator explaining that the year is After Colony 195 and humans now live both on the Earth and in Outer Space. He also summarizes the causes of the ongoing war at the beginning of the series and occasionally provides in-episode explanation of terms the viewer might not be aware of.
- This narrator has a tendency to repeat himself, and may go on for several minutes before allowing the plot to start.
- The original Japanese version of Princess Mononoke places a brief text narrative at the beginning of the film; the English-dubbed version replaces it with a verbal narrative explaining the setting to viewers.
- The Firesign Theatre parodied this trope, along with the entirety of dramatic radio, to devastating effect with their classic "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger", from the album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All?:
Narrator: Los Angeles: He walks again by night! Relentlessly...Ruthlessly...Nick Danger: I wonder where Ruth is?Narrator: Doggedly...(dog barks)...towards his weekly meeting with the unknown. At Fourth and Drucker he turns left. At Drucker and Fourth he turns right. He crosses Mac Arthur Park and walks into a great sandstone building.Nick Danger: Ow, my nose!Narrator: Groping for the door, he steps inside (phone starts ringing)...Climbs the thirteen steps to his office (ring)...He walks in (ring)...He's ready for mystery (ring)...He's ready for excitement (ring)...He's ready for anything (ring)...He's...Nick Danger: (picking up phone) Nick Danger, Third Eye.Caller: I want to order a pizza to go and no anchovies.Nick Danger: No anchovies? You've got the wrong man. I spell my name...Danger! (hangs up phone)Caller: What?
- "Last Rights" starts with an infodump from the series' First-Person Smartass Captain Kanril Eleya, explaining why surface armies are still relevant in an era of starships that can glass planets (i.e. you need boots on the ground to capture and hold territory if you want it in anything resembling the state it started), which then segues into the actual story.
Films — Animated
- 9: "We had such potential, such promise... but we squandered our gifts, our intelligence. Our blind pursuit of technology only sped us quicker to our doom. Our world is ending. Life must go on."
- The prologue to Disney's Beauty and the Beast establishes the Beast's situation.
- Sky Blue begins with Jay meditating on how the world got so crap.
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs opens with a bit of Fauxlosophic Narration that leads into A Minor Kidroduction, and finishes with a straightforward opening monologue that establishes the whole "Flint wants to invent stuff/Swallow Falls is in a depression" plot point.
- Lampshaded/subverted in Hercules when Charlton Heston is interrupted in his opening narration by the Muses:
Narrator: Long ago, in the faraway land of ancient Greece, there was a golden age of powerful gods and extraordinary heroes. And the greatest and strongest of all these heroes was the mighty Hercules. But what is the measure of a true hero? Ah, that is what our story is...Thalia: Will you listen to him? He's makin' the story sound like some Greek tragedy.Terpsichore: Lighten up, dude.Calliope: We'll take it from here, darling.Narrator: You go, girl.
- Both How to Train Your Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon 2 begin with Hiccup's introduction: "This is Berk..."
- The animated Felix the Cat movie opens with a laughably CGI version of Felix's head giving us one. A particularly obnoxious example, because it pretty much tells you what you're going to see in this movie you're about to see; it's entirely possible the movie would have actually been improved by its omission.
Films — Live-Action
- Freddy vs. Jason: Freddy gets one of these where he explains his origins, how he's been wiped from the collective memory of Springwood, and his plan to use Jason to return once again.
- Kick-Ass: "I always wondered why nobody did it before me. I mean, all those comic books, movies, TV shows. You think that one eccentric loner would've made himself a costume. I mean, is everyday life really so exciting? Are schools and offices so thrilling that I'm the only one who fantasized about this? Come on, be honest with yourself. At some point in our lives we all want to be a superhero. That's not me by the way. That's some Armenian guy with a history of mental health problems. Who am I? I'm Kick-Ass."
- Creepy Sci-Fi/paranoia movie Dark City had an opening monologue clumsily tacked on at the command of the producers, which is a Spoiler Opening for the film's central mystery. Happily, it's been removed from the recent Director's Cut.
- Underworld begins with Kate Beckinsale's character expositing about the war between the vampires and the werewolves.
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas memorably begins: "We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold..."
- In Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, the elderly man delivering the opening monologue is revealed to be the mute savage child all grown up.
- Equilibrium starts with a short opening monologue vaguely explaining the events that caused The End of the World as We Know It, and the start of the world "not as we know it", coupled with some historical documentary footage and reused footage from the film itself.
- Serenity starts with an opening monologue in the form of a class history lesson.
- This marvelously catches up to the movie's "here-and-now" events in a nested Russian Doll fashion.
- To elaborate, the actual first scene (the Universal logo) is nested in a class video in River's class, which is all part of a dream sequence when she's actually being broken out of the Academy, but then that's all actually a recording being watched by the Operative.
- This marvelously catches up to the movie's "here-and-now" events in a nested Russian Doll fashion.
- "A beginning is a very delicate time. Know then that it is the year ten-thousand, one-ninety-one..." Narration was used to insane levels in the 1980s Dune movie, in order to condense the plot of a six hundred page book down to two hours without confusing anyone. It didn't really help.
- Lady Galadriel's opening monologue from the first The Lord of the Rings movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, which lays down the creation of the Rings of Power, the One Ring, the war against Sauron, and the fates of the One Ring's previous bearers before Bilbo got hold of it. Plus, we don't actually meet Galadriel until almost the end of the movie. A good portion of this speech was cribbed from a speech by Treebeard in the book, but having a sentient tree-shaped being explain the plot in a very slow voice is possibly not the best way to pull your audience in. This monologue actually went through several narrators, including Frodo (rejected because doing so would reveal he had survived) and Gandalf. Galadriel was eventually selected as the person most suitable to giving out such information.
- James Earl Jones picked up a paycheck to apply his distinctive voice to explaining the setting for the Judge Dredd movie.
- And to reading off the famous opening lines of Cry, the Beloved Country.
- Kevin Costner's version of The Postman began with exposition by a female, who at the end is revealed to be his daughter, giving the story of his life.
- The movie version of
The Golden CompassNorthern Lights does this.
- As does the movie of Eragon.
- V for Vendetta: "Remember, remember // The 5th of November, // The gunpowder, treason and plot. // I know of no reason // Why the gunpowder treason // Should ever be forgot..."
- X-Men: "Mutation: it is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow, and normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward."
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day opens with a monologue delivered by Sarah Connor. The third film, with one by John Connor.
- The Departed: "I don't wanna be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me." Hearing that in Jack Nicholson's gruff yet acidic voice sends chills up one's spine.
- The Agony Booth recaps describe some as "Obnoxious Patronizing / Shouting Narrator".
- There's one in Transformers, where Optimus Prime explains about the Allspark. Somewhat unnecessary, since he explains again to Sam and Sam explains to the government agents and Optimus explains again to the other Autobots.
- Hellboy — "What makes a man a man? Is it his origins, the way things start? Or is it something else, something harder to describe? For me it all began in 1944, classified mission off the coast of Scotland. The Nazis were desperate. Combining science and black magic they intended to upset the balance of the war..."
- The intro to Wing Commander pans over space charts while playing a recording of JFK giving a speech about the Space Race, which segues into other radio broadcasts delivering exposition about the Pilgrams, mankind's invention of Faster-Than-Light Travel, and the disastrous First Contact with the Kilrathi.
- Avatar When I was lying in the V.A. hospital with a big hole blown through the middle of my life, I started having these dreams of flying. I was free. But sooner or later, you always have to wake up..."
- Spider-Man: "Who am I? You sure you want to know? The story of my life is not for the faint of heart. If somebody said it was a happy little tale, if somebody told you I was just your average ordinary guy, not a care in the world... somebody lied. But let me assure you — this, like any story worth telling, is all about a girl...."
- Looper: "Time travel hasn't been invented yet, but in thirty years, it will be. It will be instantly outlawed, used only in secret by the largest criminal organizations. Itís nearly impossible to dispose of a body in the future. Iím told. Tagging techniques, whatnot. So when these future criminal organizations in the future need someone gone, they use specialized assassins in our present, called loopers."
- Pitch Black opens with the crew of the Hunter Gratzner in stasis in deep space. The captured Riddick notes that his brain —or at least the animalistic side— is still awake, and asserts the situation in voiceover, surveying the rest of the crew and his plans for escape.
- Conan the Barbarian (1982) "Between the time when the oceans drank Atlantis, and the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow. It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his saga. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure..."
- The Warriors either uses or averts this: the theatrical cut opens with a Travel Montage and then drops us into the action. The Director's Cut has an Opening Scroll that drives home the comparison between the movie and Anabasis.
- The opening to Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie combines this with Opening Scroll as Dulcea tells the story of the group that would be known as the Power Rangers.
- Oblivion (2013): Provided by Jack Harper while we get brought up to speed on the characters and situation and see a montage of Scenery Porn (The skies and some parts of the planet that look less wasteland-y), Scenery Gorn (the shot of the bombed-out Pentagon (with implications of it having been ground zero for a nuclear strike during The War) and the remains of New York and Washington, DC), Technology Porn (Tower 49, the Bubble Ship, the collector vessels, the guns and the Tet), Fanservice (Shirtless Scene and Toplessness from the Back) and some Irony in that most of the info is unwitting bullcrap on Jack's part.
- Pacific Rim's prologue is narrated by the protagonist Raleigh Beckett, who explains about the war of Kaiju and Jaegers. He also briefly continues into the first action scene, to explain some key concepts like dual pilots and the Drift.
- "...look for it only in books, for it is nothing more than a dream remembered. A Civilization gone with the wind."
- "From the Treaty of the Treason: In penance for their uprising, each district shall offer up a male and female between the ages of 12 and 18 at a public "Reaping". These Tributes shall be delivered to the custody of The Capitol. And then transferred to a public arena where they will Fight to the Death, until a lone victor remains. Henceforth and forevermore this pageant shall be known as The Hunger Games."
- The Wizard of Oz:
"For nearly forty years, this story has given faithful service to the Young in Heart, and Time has been powerless to put its kindly philosophy out of fashion. To those who have been faithful to it in return... and to the Young in Heart... we dedicate this picture."
- The Hunt for Red October:
"...But according to repeated statements by both the Soviet and American governments, nothing of what you are about to see... ever happened."
Keep in mind, this trope is for single-instance opening narrations. If it happens Once per Episode, it goes under Opening Narration.
- In the Supernatural episode Swan Song, there is an opening monologue given by Chuck.
Chuck: On April 21, 1967, the 100 millionth GM vehicle rolled off the line at the plant in Janesville — a blue two-door caprice. There was a big ceremony, speeches. The lieutenant governor even showed up. Three days later, another car rolled off that same line. No one gave two craps about her. But they should have, because this 1967 Chevrolet Impala would turn out to be the most important car — no, the most important object — in pretty much the whole universe. She was first owned by Sal Moriarty, an alcoholic with two ex-wives and three blocked arteries. On weekends, he'd drive around giving bibles to the poor "gettin' folks right for judgment day". That's what he said. Sam and Dean don't know any of this, but if they did, I bet they'd smile. After Sal died, she ended up at Rainbow Motors, a used-car lot in Lawrence, where a young marine bought her on impulse. That is, after a little advice from a friend. I guess that's where this story begins. And here's where it ends.
- "In the Grim Darkness of the far future, there is only war." Enough said.
"It is the 41st millennium. For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by the will of the gods, and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the Imperium for whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day, so that he may never truly die."
- The novels have their own longer variation:
"Yet even in his deathless state, the Emperor continues his eternal vigilance. Mighty battlefleets cross the daemon-infested miasma of the Warp, the only route between distant stars, their way lit by the Astronomicon, the psychic manifestation of the Emperor's will. Vast armies give battle in His name on uncounted worlds. His soldiers are the Adeptus Astartes, the Space Marines, bio-engineered super-warriors. Their comrades in arms are legion: the Imperial Guard and countless planetary defense forces, the ever-vigilant Inquisition and the tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus to name only a few. But for all of their multitudes, they are barely enough to hold off the ever-present threat from aliens, heretics, mutants - and worse."
"To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re-learned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the Grim Dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods."
- When A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum was in touring before the Broadway opening, the audience was not sure how to take it. So a monologue and opening number ("Comedy Tonight") was added to tell the audience that this was a comedy and not to be taken seriously. The monologue was:
Playgoers, I bid you welcome. The theater is a temple, and we are here tonight to worship the gods of comedy and tragedy. Tonight, I am pleased to announce, a comedy. We shall employ every device we know in our desire to divert you.
- Parodied in the first episode of Everyday Heroes.
- The second and third Electric Wonderland stories begin with an explanation describing the comic's futuristic Cyberspace setting and (vaguely) the four main characters. In the third story, characters' word balloons obscure large parts of the opening narration, and it is never used again.
- The first Level 30 Psychiatry comic has a narration that turns out to be Roll reading aloud a flyer for the titular business.
- LG15: the resistance: "The fountain of youth is real, and it's in the blood of dozens of girls across the world..." This is shown over a montage of all the natural trait positive characters to appear in lonelygirl15 and KateModern.
- Doom House:
My name is Reginald P. Linux, and ever since my wife died I've been very depressed. This is why I've been searching for the house of my dreams, but as a philosopher once said, "Be careful what you dream for because you JUST... MIGHT... GET IT."
- The first Devil May Cry opens with a monologue explaining Mundus's imprisonment: "Two millenia ago..."
- The third game, meanwhile, begins with a monologue from Lady, first explaining the legend of Sparda, then about how she never believed it until she met his two sons. The brothers fought, "but in the end... only one was left standing". This monologue is spoken over a battle between Dante and Vergil.
- MechWarrior 3 opened with a short explanation so that people would know just enough to get the opening cinematic. Meanwhile, the cinematic that shows how your task force ended up in its exact situation explained a lot more of the plot than would be necessary for someone about to drop into a war zone and who would theoretically know at least basic history.
- "I am Andrew Ryan, and I am here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?" The monologue delivered near the beginning of BioShock by said Magnificent Bastard is one of the most eloquent and well done speeches in any game.
- Half-Life 2 gives us the well spoken and Well-Intentioned Extremist Doctor Breen who, over the course of the game can be heard giving various speeches addressed to the Combine, citizens, and even the One Free Man himself, all in a lulling and intelligent manner.
"Rise and shine Mr. Freeman, rise and shine..."
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia begins with an explanation about the eponymous order and its duty to combat Dracula.
- Dragon Age: Origins has a narration and montage explaining the origins of the darkspawn and the Grey Wardens, followed by a narration specific to your character's origin story.
"The Chantry teaches us that it is the hubris of men that first brought the Darkspawn into our world..."
- Ben's classic monologue in Full Throttle.
- The narrator's monologue in the third installment of Star Control.
- The creators of Total Annihilation didn't have enough money for much of a story, but what little story (and money) they had was put into an opening video with some narration.
"What began as a conflict over the transfer of consciousness from flesh to machines escalated into a war which has decimated a million worlds. The Core and the Arm have all but exhausted the resources of a galaxy in their struggle for domination. Both sides now crippled beyond repair, the remnants of their armies continue on ravaged planets, their hatred fuelled by over 4,000 years of total war. This is a fight to the death. For each side the only acceptable outcome is the complete elimination of the other."
- The opening speech by Kratos, in Tales of Symphonia.
- "Dragon's Lair, the fantasy adventure where you become a valiant knight..."
- "Space Ace, defender of truth, justice and the planet Earth..."
- "In the year 2291, in an attempt to control violence among deep-space miners, the New Earth Government legalized no-holds-barred fighting. The Liandri Mining Corporation, working with the NEG, established a series of leagues and bloody public exhibitions. The fight's popularity grew with their brutality. Soon, Liandri discovered that the public matches were their most profitable enterprise. The professional league was formed: a cabal of the most violent and skilled warriors in known space, selected to fight in a Grand Tournament. Now it is 2341. Fifty years have passed since the founding of Deathmatch. Profits from the tournament number in the hundreds of billions."
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: "Some people think time is like a river, that flows swift and true in one direction. But I have seen the face of time, and I can tell you... they are wrong. Time is an ocean in a storm. You may wonder who I am, and why I say this. Sit down, and I will tell you a tale like none you have ever heard."
- Modern Warfare: "Fifty thousand people used to live here...now it's a ghost town."
- Mega Man Legends has one that starts with "In a land covered with endless water..."
- Bayonetta has the most awesome opening narration sequence ever. The naration is going while the player is fighting off a horde of angels on pieces of a destroyed clocktower that's plummeting down the side of a cliff. And the game only gets more awesome.
- Zero Wing: "In AD 2101 War Was Beginning..."
- Star Fox 64: "Corneria, fourth planet of the Lylat System. The evil Andross turned this once thriving system into a wasteland of near extinction. General Pepper of the Cornerian Army was successful in banishing this maniacal scientist to the deserted, barren planet, Venom....
- NieR begins with Kainé giving Grimoire Weiss a piece of her mind about his helping the Shadowlord . In the form of a screaming, obscenity-laden rant.
Kainé: Weiss, you dumbass! Start making sense, you rotten book, or you're gonna be sorry! Maybe I'll rip your pages out one by one, or maybe I'll put you in the goddamn furnace! How can someone with such a big, smart brain get brainwashed like a little bitch, huh? "Oh, Shadowlord, I love you, Shadowlord! Come over her and give Weiss a big, sloppy kiss, Shadowlord!" Now pull your head out of your goddamn ass and START FUCKING HELPING US!
- Chrono Cross: "What was the start of all this? // When did the cogs of fate begin to turn? // Perhaps it is impossible to grasp that answer now, // From deep within the flow of time... // But, for a certainty, back then, // We loved so many, yet hated so much, // We hurt others and were hurt ourselves... // Yet even then we ran like the wind // Whilst our laughter echoed, // Under cerulean skies..."
- World of Warcraft has an opening narration when you create a new character specific to race. They were updated after the revamp of the old world during Cataclysm; even the races whose starting areas and quests, the Blood Elves and Draenei, were not radically changed got a new version.
- Badlands uses this in Buck's case:
Buck: Badlands. We were living a quiet life, when one day, for no reason, my wife and my children were killed in cold blood! And I was wounded, unable to help. Why this? Why us? Why? I won't let them get away with it! I'll get every last one of them!
- Homeworld has a rather epic one.
- X3: Terran Conflict: "Almost a millennium has passed since the last great plague of human kind had been wiped out from the solar system and its precious blue pearl planet Earth."
- Its predecessor X3: Reunion set the narration up as a news bulletin. Watch it here.
- Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir doesn't start with this; first you build your party aboard the Vigilant. When you go belowdecks, Volothamp Geddarm narrates an opening montage.
- The game adaptation of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream (but not the original short story) opens with AM's rant about how much he HATES, HATES, HATES humanity, performed with maximum ham by Harlan Ellison himself.
- Super Metroid: "The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace." Then a log entry by Samus, and the game begins.
- The PAL and subsequent versions of Metroid Prime open with a narration about Samus.
- Space Pirates and Zombies has a fairly long one, narrated by The Cynical Brit.
- Heroes of Might and Magic II's premise is explained in the intro by an unidentified narrator — "The troubles all began three years ago, with the passing of the old king, Lord Ironfist...".
- "Inspired by his never ending quest for progress, in 2084, man perfects the Robotrons, a robot species so advanced, that man is inferior to his own creation..."note
- It's storyline sequel Blaster (a first person shooting game, but not necessarily this kind) also has onenote : "It is the year 2085. The Robotrons have destroyed the human race..."
- "The year is 1999.note Television has adapted to the more violent nature of man. The most popular form of television remains the game show. One show in particular has dominated the ratings. That show is Smash TV, the most violent game show of all time..."
- Yet another attract mode on-screen variant occurs in Rastan Saga,note which is given in Surprisingly Good English.note
I used to be a thief and a murderer, otherwise I could not survive in such difficult times. Sit beside me and listen to my story of days full of adventure.
- In the Japanese version, there is also an additional opening narration that occurs before the first stage.
- "The era and time of this story is unknown. After the mothership "Arkanoid" was destroyed, a spacecraft "Vaus" scrambled away from it. But only to be trapped in space warped by someone........"
- Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: "Why do I... know? Why... Why do I know... These things?"
- Virtue's Last Reward: "Why do people betray one another? If you can't trust anyone then everyone should DIE."
- Saints Row IV opens to narration provided by Jane Austen concerning the Third Street Saints' rise to power and stardom, as well as what it means to be a hero.
- "In another time, in another world... The Blue Crystal Rod kept the kingdom in peace / But the demon Druaga hid the rod and the maiden Kinote in a tower / The prince Gilgamesh weared gold armor and attacked monsters to help Ki in The Tower of Druaga"
- "...The world is waiting for The Return of Ishtar"
- "The police cannot stop the street gangs... As a vigilante, you must defend your people's turf!!!"
- "The Skinheads have taken Madonnanote hostage. Take the lawnote into your own hands!"
- The first installment of The Chaos Engine series starts with a few screens of text describing the titular machine's rise to power and short presentation of six mercenaries who were sent to destroy it.
- Esh's Aurunmilla has two narrations, which are one narration with a narrator with a low voice and one with Don Davis as the narrator.
- "A Kung-Fu Master Thomas and Sylvia were attacked by several unknown guys (Sylvia was kidnapped by them)..."note