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An early scene consisting of mature content used for works of fiction to let the audience know right off the bat that no, this ain't for kids
. The R-Rated Opening is primarily for dealing with potential Public Medium Ignorance
about genres that are not all filled with family-friendly material, or involve mature "twists" on iconic family-friendly genres/themes such as a Super Hero
film from The Dark Age of Comic Books
, that's based on a Darker and Edgier Deconstruction
of your typical cape
. Having someone get shot
, or even just bleed
on screen will very clearly let audiences know to expect things to get much, much more serious and give fair warning for any parent who didn't pay attention to the R-rating
but saw "cartoony people" in the movie trailer and thought they were taking their kids into some light-hearted fare.
Animated works trying to break out of the Animation Age Ghetto
are a popular source for these. An R-Rated Opening can set the mood early by openly subverting
standard conventions about the "heavy" material being well into the work and set the tone for the mature territory right where it should be. It can be combined with Mood Whiplash
by starting out with a clichéd light-hearted scene the audience has seen a million times from the genre and completely dismembering it figuratively and literally.
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Anime and Manga
- Tokyo getting destroyed nuclear-style in the opening shot, and then the dogs and the spy getting killed in AKIRA. The spy's death was especially bloody, just to drive home the point that, no, even though it's animated, this is not for kids.
- Space Runaway Ideon The opening to ''Be Invoked'' has main character Cosmo Yuki witnesses his love interest being killed by a Buff Clan attack. The movie even shows her severed head in the reflection of Cosmo's helmet! It gets worse from there.
- The opening of Karin has a large amount of nudity that has nothing to do with what actually happens in the anime.
- The three thugs getting killed by Guts in the bar scene from Berserk, including one getting slashed in half with his BFS.
- The manga manages to take its opening Up to Eleven and has Guts, in a totally superfluous non-sequitur, sexing up and killing a female demon just to establish himself as a stone-cold Bad Ass, which the aforementioned bar scene does aptly, without flying in the face of his later characterization.
- The first movie's opening scene throws us headlong into a castle siege and ends with Guts killing the giant Bazuso in very bloody fashion.
- Lucy's rampage through the lab in Elfen Lied definitely qualifies, with bonus points for taking off her straitjacket so she could be completely naked for her killing spree, except for the creepy helmet.
- Not to mention the nudity throughout the opening theme sequence in each episode.
- The 2003 anime adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist starts off by showing the transmutation that caused the loss of Edward's leg and Alphonse's body. With copious amounts of blood from Edward's stump.
- The Your Head A Splode scene from the opening of Ghost in the Shell.
- To say nothing about the quasi-nudity of the optical camouflage suit.
- Or the actual nudity in the scene of the Major's body being built.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni starts with Keichi beating Rena and Mion into a pulp with a baseball bat. The opening credits also feature a nontrivial amount of blood, creepy music and visuals, and mild nudity.
- This is based on the opening of the original Visual Novel, where he gives a monologue with the sound of loud, sickening thwacks in the background before abruptly cutting to him getting ready for school.
- Shinji helping himself over Asuka's comatose body at the start of End of Evangelion.
- Black Lagoon shows off guns, Stripperific outfits, and swearing before you even get through the opening song.
- The opening of Princess Mononoke has an ominous bit of background text superimposed on a dark screen, but for good measure the first scene contains a highly disturbing demonic form assaulting a village, almost eating a child, and eventually getting shot by an arrow in the eye, before melting away into a gigantic skeleton. Needless to say, anyone who brought their young daughter to see the cute anime princess should leave at this point.
- It's also noteworthy in this case that people often ignored the PG-13 rating; as the film came out in theaters in the middle of the Pokémon craze, and by extension, the family-friendly Pokémon: The First Movie. People who were expecting a wholesome family adventure were promptly stricken with cries of What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?
- Sword of the Stranger opens with a hail of arrows ambush by bandits. This succeeds in killing approximately one person and some pack animals, and maybe winging one or two others. And then the Unstoppable Blood Knight Badass of the Badass Crew that comprises the villains of the movie scales a cliff and slaughters 15-20 bandits, throwing their bodies down as he goes. The bandit leader gets taken down by a blade toss. Lastly, he finishes off one unarmed (and missing one arm) bandit who is writhing in pain on the ground as if he were stepping on a bug.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny starts with Shinn Asuka's family being accidentally gunned down by two mechas as the kid stares in horror at the corpses.
- The first scene of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is focused on Setsuna's Dark and Troubled Past, showing the future protagonist running through a ruined city filled with bodies, trying in vain to fight a squadron of mobile suits. 0 Gundam does not show its face until the very end of the scene, right before it cuts into the opening.
- Blood+ begins with Saya's bloody rampage through a Vietnamese village—the most violent scene in the entire series.
- X1999 The Movie starts with Kamui having a vision of his mother, with full frontal nudity, pulling the BFS out of her stomach with graphic detail and lots of blood.
- Arashino Yoru Ni begins with Mei's mother biting off a wolf's ear to protect her son, only to have the other wolves rip her apart and kill her, telling Mei to leave her as she is dying.
- Deadman Wonderland opens with the mass murder of male protagonist Ganta's middle school class. The manga on which it was based leads into this moment with Ganta playing with a girl as a child, making it even more jarring in that situation.
- The first three episodes of Soul Eater (which introduce the main characters) contain quite a bit more nudity and fanservice than the rest of the series. Not quite R-rated, but still jarring enough to notice.
- The opening theme for the Dance in the Vampire Bund anime... well it stops just short of female nudity, but given the apparent age of the female lead the Nipple and Dimed thing does not help much. The manga is a bit of an improvement, as it takes 2/3 of a chapter for a noblewoman to command her head guardsman's teenage son to strip her to her panties (yes, same female lead).
- Ken Akamatsu is best known for his Unwanted Harem comedy work Love Hina, and Mahou Sensei Negima!, while undergoing a Genre Shift, is still chock full of similar material and takes a while to get to the more action-y bits. In his newest work, UQ Holder, he apparently decided to make it clear from the get-go that this isn't more of the same: the first chapter includes almost none of his signature Fanservice, instead showing the protagonist getting an arm hacked off and another character being hacked into pieces in a rather bloody fashion (she gets better).
- Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine uses an opening narration describing a love/lust of theft. The animation is of a naked woman in suggestive and non-suggestive poses. Lots of nipples, although genitalia is covered. The episodes themselves usually have less nudity, but deals with the older Seinen demographic, rather than the more general Shōnen demographic.
- Highschool of the Dead opens with several students running and fighting their way through a crowd of zombies, with plenty of blood and gore resulting. Not surprising, given the subject matter. However, we're also treated to some gratuitous Gainaxing and panty shots from the female lead, and, in the English dub at least, a couple precision F strikes, making it abundantly clear within the first two minutes that this show is not appropriate for younger viewers.
- The first episode of Black Butler II (that is, the second season) introduces Alois Trancy naked and bruised, in bed next to a very naked old guy, creepily muttering the word "darkness" to himself over and over again.
- The entire episode counts as this, since it focuses on Alois being sadistic and crazy, basically telling the viewers that this season is much darker than the last one. Throughout the episode, Alois proceeds to: gouge out a maid's eye with his fingers, tell creepy personal stories about his prolonged abuse to strangers, make vaguely sexual comments to every male person he interacts with, beat that (now one-eyed) maid again, and then cry about not wanting to be alone.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica opens with a disturbing dream of Madoka's that involves a ruined city and a Curb-Stomp Battle that results in Homura crushed by a skyscraper. After which, the series proceeds to be relatively cheerful Magical Girl Warrior fare for two and a half episodes, then things begin to rapidly spiral out of control.
- Gear is a fairly-violent and upsetting Humongous Mecha war-story, but has very cartoony artwork (reminiscent of Disney's cartoons in the 1920s). The first issue opens on a noirish interrogation scene that ultimately leads to a mafia-style execution. It uses a Gory Discretion Shot, but it still establishes that, despite the artwork, it's not an all-ages comic.
- The first issue of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic begins with the turtles fighting and killing a street gang, some of which uses a Gory Discretion Shot.
- Done almost literally with Alias by Brian Michael Bendis: the very first word of the very first issue is an F-bomb.
- Before the above Bendis example, the very first panel of The Invisibles is a splash page of a character screaming "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!".
- Saga's opening scene is a childbirth scene, with the first line of dialogue being "Am I shitting? It feels like I'm shitting!".
- Small Soldiers, about some toy army guys who come to life, was rated PG-13 and had some swearing in the first scene.
- Cannibal The Musical: The name should probably have got you, but in case you're mistaking musicals as always family-friendly, there's the gory murder of an entire crew to start the movie. Then we go to the Oklahoma!-like next scene...
- Kick-Ass started with a mentally deranged man jumping off a roof in a superhero costume and promptly falling to his death. The very next scene has the main character masturbating to his English teacher. This was likely put there for the benefit of all the people who saw the trailers of kids in superhero costumes and completely ignored the R-rating.
- Four Weddings and a Funeral starts with the main character exclaiming "fuck" ''repeatedly'' because he's woken up to find he's late for a wedding.
- The novel The Fellowship of the Ring opens with a happy birthday party in the happy land of happy Hobbits with a happy fireworks show. The Film of the Book, opening (as it did) right in the heat of Harry Potter fever (and very shortly after the release of the first, much more kid-friendly Potter movie), gives fair warning by opening with a flashback to the fall of Sauron—with thousands of bloodthirsty orc warriors, thousands of scarily kick-ass elves in armor, and one seriously scary great big Dark Lord. Kids, when the Balrog finally shows up, don't say you weren't warned.
- Pan's Labyrinth seems like a fairly kid-friendly movie, yeah? The story of a Spanish girl, dreaming of a fantasy world that may or may not be real. Pretty cool, right? Well... At the ten-minute mark, we see two people getting killed very explicitly (Grievous Bottley Harm and gunshot, respectively).
- As shown above, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End starts with a scene with many, many, people being executed, and implies that many might have been somewhat innocent, and ends with a small child, who couldn't even reach the noose, being killed. Even if the first two weren't exactly family friendly and the rest of the film seems fairly tame in comparison with this scene.
- The 2011 Conan the Barbarian (2011) film gives us a unique first view of the character: In the womb...during a C-Section, which starts when his mother is stabbed in the stomach during battle.
- The opening for Muppet Treasure Island. It's accompanied by an awesomely chilling song about how bastardly the pirates are, and it cuts away just as Captain Flint begins the slaughter of the fourteen pirates who helped him bury the treasure, perfectly timed with this line from the song: "Shiver my timbers, shiver my sails... DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES!"
- A little later on, Rizzo would hang a lampshade on the general idea with the page quote.
- Each of the films in the Transformers Film Series have had this type of opening to some degree.
- Transformers opens with Blackout and Scorponok committing a realistic assault on the army base in Qatar.
- Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen opens with The Fallen brutalizing a prehistoric society, followed immediately by a brutal fight in Shanghai that ends with at least one bloody human death and a Decepticon being shot execution-style by Optimus Prime.
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon opens with the final battle in the war that devastated Cybertron, with many Autobots and Decepticons being killed. The very next shot after that is a Panty Shot of Carly.
- Transformers: Age of Extinction opens with alien warships killing many dinosaurs, and a couple of scenes later Ratchet is killed off by U.S Government agents with the aid of Lockdown, who then rips out Ratchet's spark
- Before The Devil Knows Youre Dead opens with a graphic 30-second sex scene.
- The Wolverine begins with the atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki, along with several Japanese generals committing suicide and Wolverine getting his skin blasted, setting the darker tone for the movie compared to previous X-Men movies.
- About Last Night opens with Bernie (Kevin Hart) discussing the one night stand he had the previous night an how great the girl was at blow jobs.
- The 1993 Disney/Amblin co-production A Far Off Place starts out with a teenage girl's parents getting slaughtered by cold-blooded poachers and the rest of the film is spent by having said orphaned girl trekking with a friend with the poachers not on their tails for being witnesses. Not bad for a PG movie.
- A Walk Among The Tombstones opens with the main character shooting several robbers, followed by the opening credits set over a brutal rape scene.
Live Action TV
- Possibly one of the reasons David E. Kelley's 2011 Wonder Woman pilot didn't get picked up. The opening scene shows a young high school athlete receiving a college acceptance letter, then promptly collapsing to the floor, bleeding from his eyes and ears. Just what moms with fond memories of watching Lynda Carter's series would want to share with their daughters!
- After the teaser, we get our first glimpse of Wonder Woman lassoing a suspect by the neck and then torturing him for information.
- An early scene in the first episode of Torchwood features a Weevil graphically killing someone, letting viewers know that this is going to be much more violent than the other series in the Whoniverse.
- The novelization of Back to the Future begins with a family getting caught in a nuclear explosion, complete with a brief graphic description of their bodies being torn apart. This is part of a film Marty and his classmates watch. To make this even more out of place, it was a holdover from an earlier version of the plot. "Are you telling me this sucker is nuclear?" indeed.
- Phantom Brave opens with Marona's parents getting killed by a rather creepy looking monster. After that, the opening sections of the game are comparatively lighthearted and look almost kiddy. The darkness doesn't come back into play until later on in the game. Unless you're silly enough to count little things like a mercenary first trying to murder a small child to take her work and pay out from under her, then doing so by framing her for causing the problem she was hired to solve, or virtually the entire world hating said small child because she has powers they don't approve of as dark.
- Arc The Lad 2 starts by showing the main character's people getting slaughtered with machine guns. The rest of the game is even worse.
- The last few moments of Controllable Helplessness in XIII's opening (the game is a Cel Shaded comic adaptation) consist of an innocent woman in a bathing suit being graphically machinegunned to death.
- The opening of the original Shadow Hearts has the main villain violently killing soldiers with his impish familiars. The main protagonist, Yuri, then proceeds to have a brutal fight with the Big Bad which includes Yuri punching the villain's face in. Ironically, the rest of the game is far from being this violent again.
- Killer7, within about five minutes of the start, has Dan Smith encounter a hooded man in a blood-splattered hotel. The man turns into a skinless monster, which he shoots in the face, followed by a muttered, "Shit." A couple minutes after that, a woman is blown up from the waist down by another of these monsters.
- No More Heroes has Travis Touchdown decapitate a man in its intro.
- Brütal Legend opens with Eddie Riggs being a roadie for a Nu Metal band. The show then goes awry when the band starts trying complicated stage stunts. Eddie then calls the lead guitarist a stupid motherfucker; and a beast then decapitates the band with lots of blood. The game actually takes the opportunity to freeze and prompt the player if they would like to turn on the gore and language filters before each of these happens.
- Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance. One of the first scenes you see is Xehanort stabbing Braig in the chest with his keyblade.
- Megaman Battle Network 2 is this compared to 1. The first arc of Megaman Battle Network simply involves the oven being lit on fire. The first arc of Megaman Battle Network 2 involves a girl being gassed and held for ransom by an Obviously Evil man who holds no remorse for this... and the conclusion is him being told You Have Failed Me and getting blown up. You know, for kids!
- The Wolf Among Us starts out with a Cluster F-Bomb-spouting Mr. Toad.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim starts out with your character getting sent to the execution block and watching someone get his head chopped off. Then the dragon attacks.
- Not exactly the first scene (although Jigsaw DOES threaten someone with 'a violin case'), but Last Res0rt throws around the stuff about Vampires pretty quick, and makes sure to toss in some blood after that.
- Word of God says this was done on purpose (along with the gratuitous swearing) just so she wouldn't have to deal with people complaining when she got up to scenes like this one. When you know scenes like that could take years to get to (and people have invested more than just a few bucks in their entertainment by then), an R-Rated Opening makes a lot of sense.
- While not right at the start the first chapter of Shadownova definetly counts. A school is blown up, killing heaps of people, most of which would be children. Not long after we see the wounded students and teachers who aren't quite dead. Then Cameron Hunter arrives.
- Remus kicks off with a Right Wing Militia Fanatic flying a passenger jet into the White House, the U.S.'s rapid descent into a full-blown second civil war and crackdown on civil liberties, and then gives us a rather bloody glimpse of that war via the series' resident Knife Nut. And that's the first three pages...
- A more mild example, but the first Pesterlog in Homestuck is a discussion between two of the main characters about Little Monsters. Specifically, one of the characters is trolling the other into thinking about drinking urine after a mention of apple juice. This, along with other brief moments of Toilet Humor beforehand (including a joke command about pooping on desks) gives an early indicator the sort of humor this comic is known for.
- Ménage ŕ 3 provides another lightweight example, as the first ever strip features gay sex. It's a comedy, but its a sex comedy that doesn't pretend to be anything else (especially since some originally-obscured nudity got retconned in). Actually, one of those characters getting interrupted in the act has become a Running Gag in the comic.
- morphE is mostly a magical boarding school from hell story about 5 captives who are being trained in magic by a sociopathic socialite mage. However the prologue chapter, lasting 4 pages, depicts two people running from a knife weilding mad-woman and running in to human bodies locked in crates, coated in blood and with many of their digits removed.
- Evie and Aaron, the hosts of Awesomed By Comics Podcast related a completely accidental, but totally hilarious, example that occurred when they attended a matinee showing of Yu-Gi-Oh! Tenth Anniversary Movie. In a grievous error, the movie theater accidentally ran the film that apparently had been shown the previous night on that particular multiplex screen — the very R-rated Drive Angry, whose opening minutes are particularly front-loaded with violence and profanity. Apart from Evie and Aaron, the audience consisted entirely of children and parents. Hilarity Ensued.
- APPLE.MOV: "Applejack, what are you doing? You can't eat all those fucking apples." "Fuck you I can eat all these apples!"
- Proxy begins with Jeff the Killer killing an innocent woman and then being captured by a certain tall, dark and faceless entity who proceeds to force feed him some sort of suspicious liquid...
- Invoked if not precisely played straight with the opening scene of Suburban Knights: no one expects the cast of That Guy with the Glasses to be "family-friendly," but the bloody splattering of the clueless motorist across his car windows by Malachite definitely serves notice that things are about to get more serious than the previous outings.
- Green Lantern: First Flight starts with Abin Sur bleeding to death from a stomach wound. It has quite a few dark moments after that.
- Justice League: The New Frontier opens with the painter/author of the apocalyptic book committing suicide (from a first-person point of view, for bonus viewing pleasure). In case anyone missed the pre-credits opening, the story proper begins with Technical Pacifist Hal Jordan being forced to shoot a man in the face in self-defense and sinking into a blood-splattered Heroic BSOD as the scene fades out.
- By the way, that man was (an extremely thinly veiled) Dr. Seuss. Just in case him killing himself didn't do it for you.
- The opening scenes of Watership Down probably served as an inspiration for Happy Tree Friends.
- Batman: Under the Red Hood opens with The Joker beating Jason Todd with in an inch of his life with a crowbar, mocking him as he lies in a pool of his own blood, and then leaving him to die in an explosion. This film was also rated PG-13.
- The Spawn animated series starts with a shockingly brutal (and beautifully animated) scene where several people are messily killed, including one guy whose head gets twisted 180 degrees by the title character, another who burns to death in graphic detail, and another whose arm is snapped in half so that he blows his brains out with his own gun.
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm opens with a crook being beat up by Batman, and then being killed by an unrelated figure. It was only a PG film, but since it was made in the 90s...
- The Animatrix is fairly dark and fairly violent throughout, but the very first short starts with an erotic sparring match and the second one is full of gruesome murders and the occasional maiming.
- Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters starts with some singing concessions cheerfully asking you not to expose yourself indecently. And then more food appears and belts out a violent heavy metal song threatening to kill you if you interrupt or redistribute the film, as part of a parody of "Let's All Go to the Lobby," a drive-in movie trailer.
- The Triplets of Belleville got a PG-13 rating entirely because of the opening scene, which features a topless dancer.
- This doesn't seem to have been intentional, however — the creators were French, and in their commentary, seem genuinely surprised and confused that one brief topless scene would be enough to bump up the rating all by itself, which says a lot about how America is uptight about sexuality and nudity (especially if it has to do with women) while France and most of Western Europe is okay with it within reason ("within reason" meaning "so long as it's not accompanied by violence or has children involved").
- The Galaxy Rangers pilot episode, "Phoenix," has about three minutes to set up the general situation - the Foxx family heading to Kirwin, the human-Kiwi collaboration on new agricultural tech...and then the Crown Destroyer shows up and people start getting gunned down right and left.
- Transformers: The Movie opens with the mass genocide of an entire planet save one survivor (who gets eaten alive later on anyway) before the opening credits, and then just barely five minutes after that shows several beloved characters from the TV series getting Killed Off for Real. Similar in the case of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm though, it just received a PG rating since it was made in the 80's.
- The second scene of Serbian animated film Technotise Edit I Ja features two characters discussing robotic prostitutes.
- The opening for Wonder Woman featured Hippolyta performing an on-screen decapitation. The writers commented that they were only able to keep their PG-13 rating because it was done in silhouette.