At the beginning of many shows -- most commonly in PoliceProcedural or {{Monster of the Week}} shows -- a nameless generic character or two will wander around some deserted location, frequently either on a date or up to hijinks, and then one of three things will happen:

a) They will come across a horribly mutilated corpse.

b) One or more of them will be brutally killed.

c) They will narrowly avoid being killed.

This only lasts about a minute, or even a matter of seconds, before we cut to the show's characters, who have come in to investigate the death, deaths or deadly threat. The character/s from the teaser have almost no involvement from this point on; they might be asked one or two questions, but they're just as likely to get nothing but a brief mention ("A couple of kids found her three hours ago", etc) and that'll be it for them.

Obviously this doesn't apply to characters who die in some mysterious semi-obscure way in the opening seconds of a show, then go on to be the subject of inquiry, flashbacks and a thorough autopsy.

See also StartToCorpse.
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!!Examples:

* Favored by the ''LawAndOrder'' shows, ''Series/{{CSI}}'', ''Series/TheXFiles'', ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' and ''Series/{{Buffy the Vampire Slayer}}''. ''Buffy'' actually subverted this trope in its first episode; the opening sequence featured a good-looking teenage girl intruding on school property after hours with a date (making it both a date ''and'' hijinks). We think she's a generic soon-dead girl, but then she reveals herself as a vampire and kills and eats her date, who was the real generic victim. She then goes on to be a main RecurringCharacter throughout the history of ''[=BtVS=]'' and ''Series/{{Angel}}''.
* Neatly parodied in ''PoliceSquad!'', where every episode had a [[SpecialGuest guest star]] who was killed while their name was being announced in the credits.
* In a rare literary example, every {{narrator}} of the various prologues and epilogues in ''ASongOfIceAndFire'' have ended up dead by the end of that book, often by the end of the scene. But then, [[AnyoneCanDie so does almost everybody else]].
** HBO's TV adaptation, ''Series/GameOfThrones'', preserves this with its sole ColdOpen.
* ''{{NCIS}}'' does this a lot. As did ''Series/{{JAG}}'' too.
* ''JusticeLeague'' episode "Darkheart" opens like this, with a couple of rock climbers scaling a plateau, before finding alien nanobot things. It cuts away immediately. One of them is seen answering [[GeneralRipper General Eiling's]] questions as the League arrives. As for the other, well; the teaser ends with the aforementioned partner finding their empty boot before the camera reveals the growing nanotech mass, so [[NeverSayDie draw your own conclusions]].
** Amusingly played with in an episode of JusticeLeague which begins with a team of workers on an oil rig in the desert, then there's an explosion... and the frame freezes and zooms out, revealed to be a presentation put on by a CorruptCorporateExecutive.
** "Eclipsed" opens with a military unit hunting a warlord named Fessan. They get a few minutes of screentime before one of them gets possessed by the VillainOfTheWeek and kills them all.
* Steve Urkel from ''FamilyMatters'' used to be one of these.
** Years later, Jaleel White would appear in a teaser opening of ''{{NCIS}}'' (example a).
* ''Series/{{House}}'' Has them almost every episode, with the audience spending most of the teasers guessing who will be the patient and who will be this.
* Leland Turbo from ''[[WesternAnimation/{{Cars}} Cars 2]]''.
* There was a short-lived fashion in action thrillers to open with a detailed buildup of a character, such as would usually introduce a protagonist, and then just when the reader was getting to like them the bad guys would kill them (thus showing right off how bad they were) and the real story and the real protagonists could come in.
** The Hurt Locker does this with Guy Pierce's character, creating the need for replacement bomb expert Jeremy Renner, with mortal peril effectively conveyed.
** Arguably, the first Resident Evil film does this, inasmuch as those films develop any of their characters.
* Most of the characters at the begining of most episodes of ''Series/NewYorkUndercover''.
* This happens in almost every episode of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''.
* Used from time to time in episodes of ''WesternAnimation/ScoobyDoo'', especially in its' [[WhatsNewScoobyDoo later years]].
* Nearly ubiquitous in the revived ''Series/DoctorWho''. If the episode isn't part of a multi-part serial, this ''will'' happen (and the character almost always dies horribly).
* Almost every episode of ''Series/{{Bones}}'' starts with this character stumbling over a corpse.
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