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The Teaser
aka: Pre Titles Sequence
Also known as a Cold Opening or "Cold Open." A one to five minute mini-act at the beginning of the show, sometimes before the opening credits, that is used to set up the episode and catch the audience's attention.

In a Monster of the Week show such as The X-Files, the teaser usually contains the first Red Shirt of the episode. In a Crime and Punishment Series, it usually contains the first murder or the body of a victim being discovered. It has become something of a fashion, particularly on crime shows, to end the cold open with a Quip to Black.

Though it technically does not really set up the plot, as there is usually no lengthy continuous plot, the first sketch right before the opening credits in sketch comedy shows like Saturday Night Live and MADtv is also called a cold opening. (The show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip actually had an episode titled "Cold Open" in which the writing of such a sketch is a plot element.) Non-sketch entertainment programming often also uses a comedy sketch as a Cold Open.

The teaser has been used by many series since the 1950s. Today, nearly every American show has a teaser (to get viewers hooked before they can consider changing channels). Many British shows still don't use the technique (what's more, until the 1980s The BBC would actually re-edit most American shows to put the teaser after the opening titles), but it is increasing in prominence.

When US shows are broadcast on British commercial channels the first commercial break is not usually placed after the opening title but about 8-12 minutes in. However, some more recent series like LOST have such long teasers that the commercial does immediately follow the title (or, more rarely, actually precedes it).

Although the term is usually reserved for television, the practice is now prevalent in comic books, having crept into the medium in the mid-80s and grown popular through the 90s. While older comics tend to have the title and credits on the first page, most modern comics now wait until three-to-five pages in, for a suitably dramatic moment. Some comics vary this by introducing the title at the end of this issue (eg. "Shoot", a lost issue of Hellblazer) or sometimes square in the middle.

Subtropes:

If the teaser depicts events that come at the end of the show, it can set up a How We Got Here or Once More with Clarity. Contrast The Stinger, which is shown after the show, not before it.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Special case: Ojamajo Doremi opened its episodes with an avant-title that relates to the plot, then the opening titles, then a short scene before the title card. When 4Kids dubbed it for America, they cut out the avant-title and used the short scene before the title card as the Cold Opening instead. Sometimes, they cut out the short scene entirely, meaning that in those episodes, the show starts with the opening titles.
  • The Pokémon anime dub did this starting in the second Johto season. In Diamond and Pearl(when the Japanese version started doing this), sometimes clips from later in the episode would play before the opening (which, in the dub, would actually sometimes replace other scenes).
    • The movies also do this.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni used cold openings, the most effective being at the start of each arc; a clip would be shown of the usually rather gory climax of that particular arc. Coupled with the cheerful tone of the early parts of each arc, it was also a good use of Mood Dissonance.
  • Since Shippuuden, Naruto started using these. They kinda overused it in the very first episode, which began with a foreshadowing of episode 30 or so, a crucial moment to the plot.
  • Kaiba had brief recap/prologues in front of episodes for the first few episodes before switching to more standard cold openings, often setting up new locations.
  • All of the episodes of Princess Tutu open with barely-animated charcoal drawings on the screen while a female narrator grimly tells a fairytale that's somehow related to the episode. After a dramatic music swell, the gentle opening theme starts up.
  • Pretear starts off every episode with a cold opening that sets up the plot, or occasionally provides a recap of the end of the last episode—except for the last two episodes, which don't have an opening at all.
  • Harukanaru Toki no Naka de - Hachiyou Shou has Fuji-hime's Opening Narration in the first few episodes, after which it switches to regular cold openings, with the first scene placed before the theme song.
  • Elfen Lied's first episode puts a pretty original spin on this. Naked girl killing everyone in sight — ROLL OPENING — Guy moving into house. And then they put it all together!
  • Both Ghost in the Shell films have a brief scene culminating in an intense action sequence before breaking into an opening credits sequence with Ominous Japanese Chanting. They leave a pretty strong impression.
  • Bleach is using cold opens more and more lately. More often than not, said clips are from the actual episode.
  • The 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist uses cold opens for all but the last episode, and for The Movie as well. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood occasionally uses cold opens, but more often does not.
  • The second season of Gunslinger Girl uses cold openings.
  • Every episode of Berserk begins with its ominous Opening Narration, usually followed by a recap of the previous episode.
  • Darker Than Black uses cold openings
  • Two of the four Director's Cut episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion feature cold openings (while one of them cuts out the opening credits entirely). What makes this odd is that these are never used in any other part of the show.
  • Gintama does this in one episode of the anime focusing on the Shinsengumi, when the story eventually comes around to Gintoki he complains that the Title Sequence hasn't even rolled. Then the entire opening plays, in the middle of the episode.
  • Mekakucity Actors:
    • Several episodes open on Shintaro and Ayano sitting in a world full of clockwork gears, talking vaguely about how he's 'forgotten it all again' and how she will 'tell him the story, one more time'. The cold open in this case works so well in part because of how confusing it is.
    • Episodes 6 and 7 (which are primarily Flashbacks) open with Takane/Ene running through the city as it is destroyed and Takane finally reaching the hospital to see if Haruka is alright, respectively.
    • Any Episode that opens with an Insert Song counts too.
  • One Piece began using cold opens during the Water Seven arc, but this quickly stopped when the series introduced super long opening credits. Often these would repeat the last few minutes of the previous episode as the anime had overtookthemanga.

    Comic Books 
  • Preacher would sometimes spend half an issue on a cold opening, or even wait until the last page to introduce the title and credits. Mostly, however, it stuck to a three-to-four page intro, then title.
  • A classic issue of Spider-Man, promoted as the issue in which someone would die, didn't have its title section until the very end: "The Night Gwen Stacy Died''.
    • Except that if you look closely at the cover of said comic, there appears to be a spotlight on Gwen's face, practically revealing that she's gonna die.
  • In chapter five of Fables: Legends in Exile there's a monologue by Bigby before the credits, title and the "In Which a Trope Is Described".
  • Global Frequency would usually end each issue with the title in a "closing credits" fashion.
  • While not framed as a teaser, each episode of Watchmen starts In Medias Res, and the chapter title only appears as an intertitle several pages in.

    Film 
  • The James Bond movies almost always start with an introductory sequence before the episode itself.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The title card of Iron Man 1 is preceded by Tony Stark's capture by Afghan rebels using weapons he developed himself. The movie then backtracks 36 hours to show a story-within-a-story recap of Tony's life and an introduction to his playboy ways.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel Studios Vanity Plate appears after the opening scene telling Peter Quill's origins.
  • The Departed also had no opening credits. When the title finally appeared 18 and a half minutes later, you wonder why they even bothered.
  • Ginger Snaps opens with the murder of a neighborhood dog, and an introduction to the characters of Ginger and Brigitte before launching into the title credits.
  • The opening credits of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are roughly 15 minutes into the movie.
  • The film Raising Arizona goes through a 10:43 cold open, setting up the story and introducing us to (nearly) all the characters.
  • Serenity has a four-part chain of opening sequences, before finally getting to a title card - that fades into the insignia on the titular vessel's side.
  • 127 Hours does not display its title card until roughly 20 minutes into the film, immediately after Aron's arm gets pinned by a rock.
  • The opening of Mystery Team shows the eponymous trio harassing a comatose man, suspecting him of murder.
  • The Lion King's title card follows a majestic scene of Simba's parents presenting him to their subjects. In the DVD commentary, the directors recall they feared audiences would not read the simplistic title card after enjoying such an epic song.
  • Each of The Lord of the Rings film runs the main title immediately following the Vanity Plate, but the instalment title follows a prologue. The first one gave a few thousand years' worth of backstory, the other two were more standard flashbacks. The director deliberately wanted to emulate a James Bond teaser for the first film, which resulted in an epic battle scene that would be called back to in the climaxes of parts two and three.
    • Ditto with The Hobbit's first installment, with an epic backstory opening.
  • In Pulp Fiction, the scene where "Pumpkin" and "Honeybunny" have a conversation at a diner goes on for over four minutes before the opening credits come up.
  • HORSE the Band's 10.5 hour 'Earth Tour' epic drops the title sequence directly following a character commenting that "the real tour starts here." This occurs two hours in.
  • Tropic Thunder treats it a little differently, featuring an adverisement and a series of trailers before the movie that establish four of the characters (Alpa Chino, Tugg Speedman, Kirk Lazarus, and Jeff Portnoy) and the current state of their careers.
  • Fight Club opens with a close up (cellular level) of how the human body sweats before zooming out to show Edward Norton with a gun between his teeth with a voice over saying "People are always asking me if I known Tyler Durden". The rest of the film from then on is a recap of the last year or so of his life to how he ended up in that position.

    Literature 
  • Just like in TV's Crime and Punishment Series, any number of Mystery Novels open with a murder (depicted so as to conceal the murderer), before the narrative centering on the detective starts.
  • Books 1, 4, 6, and 7 of Harry Potter start with such a chapter. In fact, the sixth double-stacks.

    Live Action TV 
  • Bonanza: From episode 1 until the Season 13 finale in 1972, episodes began with a teaser opening act, which always set up the main plot of the show, prior to the opening credits. The final season switched these two, i.e., they began with the opening credits before going to the teaser.
  • Every episode of Alias has a 15 minute teaser, so that they can not only recap the story (Previously On), but also have a prologue.
    • Alias, with its tongue very firmly in its cheek, decided to take advantage of having the Superbowl as Lead In in "Phase One".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has one every episode, generally setting up the plot and whatnot (some can be a bit deceiving, though). The only episode that lacks one is the season four finale, "Restless", mostly due to the episode being that Mind Screw-y.
  • Farscape had one in every episode, either to set up the plot or theme of the episode, or, sometimes, just to have a joke at the characters' expense. Each one would always end with the crew being attacked, captured, or put in some other form of distress, causing the music to turn into the opening of the Theme Song.
  • The teasers on The L Word are usually set anywhere from a year to several decades in the past, featuring characters we've never met before, but they always end up tying in with what goes on in the episode.
  • All the Law & Order shows use a cold open, with a stock opening title card and narration. The action is either the crime itself or the discovery of a body, and thirty seconds of the detectives opening the investigation. While Jerry Orbach was still with us, almost always ended on a Lenny Briscoe One-Liner.
  • Similar to Law & Order, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation does this, often showing a bystanders view of the murder or the (attempted) disposal of the body or someone finding said body. Like Lenny Briscoe, Gil Grissom (or D.B. Russel after season 11) almost always gets to say the One-Liner before the opening credits. The spinoffs are the same way.
  • NCIS does the same. It works well with crime shows as the introduction of the episode's case usually fits right into the opening segment. (Beware, however, when the cold opening actually shows the main characters or the home base - it means that the case will directly involve them, as seen in BĂȘte noire.)
    • The very same formula was also used in JAG.
  • Sapphire And Steel actually delivered its teaser in the middle of the Title Sequence: a short sequence showing the title and stars was shown, followed by The Teaser, after which the rest of the sequence (with the Theme Tune and Opening Narration) was shown. Such a style of opening (title both before and after the cold open) is more common these days. "Pure" teasers only appeared in the first episode of each story, with later episodes reprising the events leading up to the previous episode's cliffhanger.
  • The Tomorrow People did something similar.
  • The US version of The Office always has a short, one scene gag before the opening scene.
  • ER's cold openers generally focus on interpersonal ties (more than the hustle and bustle of the meat of the show could, anyway). A 12th season episode, "The Gallant Hero & the Tragic Victor", actually kills off a main character in the teaser.
  • The West Wing always has a few minutes-long opening scene before the credits that can vary greatly in style from episode to episode. Most often, it is a set-up of one or more of the headaches the characters will have to deal with. Other times, it is a self-contained scene that is only loosely attached to the plotline; a humorous episode-related clip that ends on a gag of some kind; or simply a shortened extra act.
  • Malcolm in the Middle was well-known for its cold opens that were completely unrelated to the episode's plot. Unfortunately, they are usually cut out in reruns.
  • The Wayans Bros. had a cold open unrelated to the plot every episode.
  • Drake & Josh has one every episode.
  • iCarly will in most episodes, feature either a random segment from the webshow, or set up the plot using the webshow.
  • The first season (at least) of My Name Is Earl was a rare live-action primetime non-reality show that did not use a Cold Opening.
  • Both The Apprentice and Survivor did not use a cold open to begin with, but they adopted this practice later (Apprentice started this practice around season 4, with Survivor doing this with the Fiji season).
  • Nearly every episode of House starts with a cold open showing the new patient getting sick.
    • The writers often try to make the patient unexpected by having someone show signs of illness before the real patient collapses. For example, at the beginning of one episode, Cuddy takes a drink of water and starts to cough; but in the background, another character suddenly falls off a roof.
    • House even plays with double Red Herrings, such as the opening that follows a young girl diving off a high dive, who is motionless underwater for some time, and then resurfaces to see that someone else has collapsed. Then it's revealed that she wasn't the Red Herring, the other guy was: something is wrong with the diver after all.
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip devoted its second episode to showcase the main characters working against the clock to create an effective cold open, eventually settling on a fourth-wall breaking rendition of "A Modern Major General" from The Pirates of Penzance.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has the title sequence start after a man walked up to the screen and said "It's...". This was usually only a few seconds but was sometimes stretched out long enough to be considered a Cold Opening. It also must have set the record for the longest one ever in "Scott of the Antarctic" where the man and the title sequence didn't show up until halfway through the episode. Or perhaps not: In other episodes they waited until the very end to show the opening credits, and occasionally left them out altogether. Which could technically mean that the title credits in the next episode mark the end of the cold open...
  • Homicide: Life on the Street would sometimes start with a standard cold opening in which the detectives start their investigation or some other plot point is introduced, but some would just be like sitcom openings - little sketches unrelated to the actual story.
  • The Wire usually has cold openings that are not related to the main story as such, but instead work as metaphors or thematic commentaries on the episode or the characters themselves.
  • Each episode of Six Feet Under begins with the death of someone that the family will be working on in that episode, with a card displaying their name and dates of birth and death.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess got a bit carried away with 'em sometimes: a teaser could be up to five minutes long.
  • Star Trek. Teasers could run as long as over six minutes ("Ship in a Bottle") to as short as under 20 seconds ("Impulse", "Scorpion").
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation frequently opened with scenes that had nothing to do with the main plot, just some interaction between some characters before they get called to the bridge and the teaser ends with the real plotline of that episode. Deep Space Nine and Voyager did this to a lesser extent, but Enterprise gave up on that practice entirely and featured teasers that were unusually short.
    • The TNG Episode "Cause and Effect" is particularly notable for having one of the most shocking teasers of all time- it opens with the Enterprise critically damaged, causing it to explode with all hands aboard 45 seconds into the episode. The episode is about the ship being stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop which they eventually escape from alive.
  • Power Rangers had one from Turbo to Time Force. It was dropped starting with Wild Force, but has returned in Samurai.
  • The first episode of Pushing Daisies has a cold opening of 13 minutes.
  • Every episode of Bones has a cold open where the characters discover the body. This is usually done in a dark comedic fashion. (Ex. A teenage couple getting naked in a mud spring where a corpse lies beneath.)
  • Monk usually begins with the murder being committed.
  • Eureka often starts with something going wrong. And then goes on for a good period of time after. Probably about ten minutes.
  • The teasers on Scrubs kept getting larger and larger as time went on, to the point where they consistently ended up as long as any of the other acts of the show.
  • In Plain Sight shows the Witsec client of the week and how they ended up having to join Witsec in the first place in the teasers.
  • Stargate SG-1and Stargate Atlantis feature these.
  • The Drew Carey Show often used its teasers for bizarre stand-alone skits apart from the show's continuity, such as having a guest appearance by Daffy Duck or Drew battling invading aliens. The best known of these are the various dance sequences, two of which ended up being used for the opening theme.
  • Early episodes of MacGyver started with an unrelated short adventure. This practice was dropped pretty quickly.
  • LOST always begins with a teaser that establishes the episode's central character, often going into the first flashback/forward before the title card. Some teasers have been over ten minutes, such as "Exodus, Part 2".
  • Cheers always had a teaser unrelated to the main plot of the episode.
  • Every episode of Castle opens with an extreme close up of a dead body before it is discovered or investigated.
  • All forms of UK Big Brother Spin Offs had some cold open element- notably in the case of Big Mouth where that episode's guests would usually be introduced in some nonsensical-but-consistent fashion.
  • The Guest Host series of Never Mind the Buzzcocks featured a cold open for most episodes, introducing this week's guest.
  • In Primeval it goes like this: Red Shirt appears, Anomaly appears, Monster of the Week appears, Standard Red Shirt Fate, Theme Music.
  • Red Dwarf did it for Stoke Me a Clipper.
  • The short-lived UPN show Special Unit 2 always began with a short scene of the Monster of the Week's handiwork.
  • Psych normally begins with a clip of a young Shawn getting yelled at by his dad.
  • Band of Brothers mostly avoids the cold opening, except for one or two episodes that start with the interviews of the Real Life veterans. In most other episodes these interviews came immediately after the Title Sequence.
  • Doctor Who has used it in the show since the second episode of the revival "The End of the World", often with someone getting killed by a monster before the cliffhanger "scream" of the theme music. It appeared only five times before 2005- "The Ambassadors of Death" (which also debuted the electronic scream sound the show's theme music is famous for including), "Castrovalva", "The Five Doctors", "Time and the Rani" and "Remembrance of the Daleks"; instead, the original run of Doctor Who used the first episodes of a serial to fulfill the same function as a cold open.
    • It isn't the coldest opening because BBC guidelines require their logo to be placed at the beginning of every episode.
    • Cold opens are only omitted in the revived series when a new main companion is introduced- in "Rose", "Smith and Jones" and "Partners in Crime". This practice stopped after Russell T Davies left the show.
  • Nickelodeon's Double Dare was perhaps the only game show to use a cold open; every episode began with the contestants performing a "Physical Challenge", followed by the show's introduction.
  • Lexx only used these in the fourth season.
  • Supernatural always uses this to show the murder that the Winchesters will investigate in the episode. Even arc-related episodes have Teasers. Occasionally the Teaser is simply a recap of previous events before cutting away to the title card.
  • 16 out of the first 17 episodes of Leave It to Beaver had an opening narration to set up the episode done by Hugh Beaumont. The shortest one, from the episode "New Neighbors", went: "To a growing boy boy there are some emotions you can take in your stride. Love. Anger. But fear can play havoc with your little imagination. And that's our story tonight on Leave It To Beaver."
  • The first season of 3-2-1 Contact.
  • Game of Thrones features a literal Cold Open in its pilot, showing three Night's Watchmen encountering the White Walkers. It's also the only episode of the show to have a teaser; all others begin with the "Previously On" and Title Sequence.
    • The fourth season premiere begins with a "Previously On" which ended on Ned Stark's execution in S1 by his own sword Ice which leads into a cold open with Tywin Lannister having the blade melted down and made into two and then throwing the scabbard into a fire, symbolizing the Lannister's victory over the Starks.
  • Breaking Bad used these to great effect in multiple ways besides as the continuation of the previous episode's cliffhanger. The first two seasons mostly use straight cold opens (though one is a music video about Walt's Heisenberg persona) but seasons 3, 4, and 5 frequently featured flashbacks that feature a dead character, added depth to the series' world, shed light on certain themes of that episode, or showed/alluded to an event that occurred later in the episode but without context to make the viewers guess what happened and how it got to the point.
  • The 1966 Batman series alternates between this and Previously On.
  • UFO uses a variation in which the opening theme tune montage plays without titles. This is then followed by the opening scene, which ends with the title logo appearing as an animated overlay. The cast and production credits appear as captions in act one. One reason for this may have been the show's rotating cast, meaning that they couldn't use credits with a fixed cast list.
  • Get Smart had one every episode. Several ended with Title Drops.
  • The Cosby Show had only one for "Same Time, Next Year" where Olivia came into Cliff's bedroom wearing a Bart Simpson mask (a Take That to the show's ratings battle with The Simpsons on Thursday nights).
  • Boy Meets World used this once, in Season 5's "No Guts, No Cory" by playing the opening titles after the setting had shifted from 1997 to December 9, 1941 & Mr Feeny had made the anouncement that Pearl Harbour had been bombed. The episode itself was part of a crossover between the TGIF shows in which Sabrina the Teenage Witch's Salem had swallowed a ball that sent the to a different time period, and proceeded to run amok by heading to the other shows in the line-up.
  • The Russian mini-series Wolf Messing: Seeing through time starts the pilot with the titular character's performance in Moscow and a disturbing vision about the death of Josef Stalin's son in a plane crash. He informs Stalin about this, who promises that the crash will not happen. Later, Messing finds out that the crash still happened, but Stalin's son wasn't on the flight. The Heroic BSOD flows into a flashback of how he got to this point, starting with his childhood in a Polish village.
  • Seinfeld started to use cold opens as opposed to Jerry's stand-up routines around season 8.
  • The George Lopez Show had some epically long teasers, to the point where you would get to what would seem like a logical point for the first act break, only for the show to cut to the title sequence.
  • Merlin always opened with a teaser.
  • American daytime soap operas began using teasers in the 1960s to resolve (or sometimes extend) the previous episode's cliffhanger or set up the storylines for the day. Since the mid-1970s, all soaps have used teasers, with the exception of ABC soaps from 1998 to 2003.

    Puppet Shows 

    Theatre 
  • Call Me Madam preceded the Opening Chorus with a brief scene showing Mrs. Sally Adams being sworn in as ambassador to Lichtenburg.

    Video Games 
  • Deus Ex The Fall opens up with the tutorial mission through the Mafia hideout and Ben's defection from the Tyrants before the title sequence.
  • Sam & Max Save The World featured two episodes with cutscenes as cold openings. In Sam & Max Beyond Time And Space, every episode but one had a playable cold opening.
  • LucasArts likes this one, they've done similar things in several of their point and click adventure games, such as Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.
    • Also, Tales of Monkey Island, developed by LucasArts and Telltale Games, is the first game in the Monkey Island series to have playable cold openings in five chapters... sort of. Chapter 1, for example, has a playable intro that can be accomplished with help from instructions before the main title starts. Chapter 3 has a VERY long playable cold opening consisting of a few tasks and an "Answer the question" minigame before the chapter's title starts. Chapter 4, on the other hand, only has the shortest playable cold opening, where you only have to select a topic before the chapter's title starts.
  • Most of the games in the Final Fantasy series open with an action sequence or other story based sequence before the opening credits and logo come up.
    • The original has a Cold Open with a plot remarkably similar to some entire games: "Oh, good, the heroes are here. The princess has been kidnapped. Take care of that, would you?" The plot only gets going after you rescue Her Majesty and acquire the Lute.
    • So does Kingdom Hearts, but that doesn't happen until 4 to 5 hours into the game.
      • Only Kingdom Hearts II, though.
      • After the first Kingdom Hearts the games all following have had a short montage that recapped what happened, and then a scene afterwards that doesn't make much sense unless you know certain things...sometimes you won't discover secrets until you've played different games in the series, and not just the main ones.
    • KH2 has Xemnas and Roxas' cryptic conversation on the Dark Beach. Xemnas tells Roxas that he went to see "him". Him is Sora, the main protagonist of the series. Roxas is the Nobody of Sora. Xemnas fights Sora as a bonus boss in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, available to Japan only, so the cutscene wouldn't make sense unless you know about the bonus boss.
    • Birth By Sleep shows Xehanort standing at Destiny Islands, commenting that it was "too small". whenever this happens, it was after the events of Birth By Sleep, because Xehanort's younger self is not even created until Master Xehanort takes over Terra's body. However, that Birth by Sleep has three stories.
    • 358/2 Days begins with Saix's quote from Kingdom Hearts II about the Heartless while panning through Where Nothing Gathers, showing every single member of the Organization before settling on Roxas, then cutting to a scene of he and Axel wondering if he really doesn't have heart and playing the themesong...an odd subversion is that instead of a recap montage of Sora and co., they instead do a countdown of the Organization. Axel is wondering if Roxas has a heart because he seems to genuinely feel emotion. A playthrough of Birth By Sleep will reveal that Roxas inherited the heart of Ventus through Sora because had Ventus' heart as well as his own, and when he became a Heartless, creating Roxas, Ventus' heart became a part of Roxas as well, which is why Roxas looks like him and can wield light despite being a denizen of darkness.
    • Birth By Sleep is a prequel. It features no recap, but a montage of what they will go through...at one point, Terra's eyes randomly become amber in color... that was an oh so subtle hint that at the end of this game he was going to go from this, to this, and then finally this.
    • Going through all of the games' teasers would take a very, very, long time. And that's not even getting into the Heart Station Tutorials.
  • BioWare has been moving in this direction lately. Mass Effect 2 has the Normandy SR-1 attacked & destroyed by an unidentified ship, with the opening title coming up after Shepard has been sent floating away from the wreckage & losing oxygen; and both Dragon Age II and Mass Effect 3 ran the tutorial sequence before the opening titles.
  • The Metal Gear Solid games start off with Snake performing an infiltration and then cut to a credit sequence between 5-20 minutes into the game, as a pastiche of the James Bond movies which spawned the whole idea of them. In more detail:
    • In the first Metal Gear Solid you have to wait around in a dock area while the credits play, superimposed on the screen. When they're done you're free to enter the elevator to the next area, where Snake removes his mask and the logo comes up on screen as we see his face for the first time.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2 was more circumspect about it. The opening titles roll before the main menu comes up, and you play a mission on a Tanker (where, again, the title pops up as soon as we see Snake's face for the first time). It led many people into thinking it was the proper game - but it was a prologue, and the main meat of the game was later on, with a different main character.
      • However, if you chose a specific option before starting the game, the game would skip the Tanker prologue & start with Raiden, the character who replaces Snake as the main character, going through a similar infiltration to the prior game, and the title appearing on the same cue.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3 was the most blatant. There was a very short, fifteen or twenty minute gameplay segment before the game started for real, heralded by a lengthy Cutscene, an offer to save, and the unlocking of the fantastic opening title movie, which played then and there and would now play every time the game was booted. The style of the opening sequence combined with the Cold War setting and the timing clearly marked it out as a homage to Bond's delayed starts.
  • Incredibly, the small-time web RPG Sonny 2 pulls this off quite dramatically. After beginning the game in the middle of a battle, it then proceeds with an opening cinematic and title card 5 minutes in.
  • The original Wild ARMs game has the main characters go through their introductory stories and mutant powers roll call, travel abroad, get forced into working together, the death of one character's father, the end of the world, and then, mid processional, we get a short animatic of the father's funeral procession while credits roll.
  • Gears of War 2 has a playable section teaching players the ropes and "working out the ginks" before the Title Sequence.
  • Lock & Key, an award-winning Interactive Fiction game by Adam Cadre, uses one of these to establish its premise. What exactly happens is best experienced by playing it yourself.
  • Vagrant Story begins with a suspenseful infiltration and several battles; only after this does the title appear, with the sunrise in the background.
  • Similarly, Final Fantasy Tactics begins by asking you to pick your character's name and birthdate, followed by a beautiful Scenery Porn introduction, with the title appearing midway through the FMV sequence.
  • Fate/stay night begins with a prologue narrated by Rin. After this, the main game begins with Shirou as narrator. Some scenes are even repeated from his perspective.
  • In X-Men 2 on the Sega Genesis, the gameplay starts as soon as you power on the system. Only after clearing the first stage do the Sega logo and the title screen show up.
  • The first mission and the following cutscenes until the 'ST-Voyager'-intro in Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force.
  • The video game adaption of The Chronicles of Riddick, Escape from Butcher Bay has a lengthy prologue/dream sequence with introduces you to the gameplay style before Riddick actually enters the prison with the title sequence.
  • Heavy Rain gives you about an hour before the title sequence rolls in.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3 has a normal title screen, but when you actually start the game, you play through your main character's prologue. At the climax of the prologue, your character hops on a boat to set off for adventure, and the credits roll over a tour of the entire world map.
  • First three Sly Cooper games feature some sort of "heist" prior to the first cutscene.
  • Not counting the whole Desmond recap and setting up a new Animus machine, Assassin's Creed II goes through Ezio's birth, then cuts to when he was 17 and is in the middle of a big street brawl. Then he and his brother go around town (it's the tutorial) before having a race to see who can climb to the roof of the church fastest, before ending with a touching scene of them both looking out towards Firenze as Ezio's theme plays and the title drops. It's a potential Tear Jerker.
  • Grand Theft Auto V is notable for being the first game in the series to feature a playable teaser showing some plot critical events that occur nine years prior to the game's main story. The title and credits only appear once the player finishes the opening level.
  • Madden NFL opens with the player controlling Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, with one last drive to score a TD and go to the Super Bowl.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • "A Call To Arms", Chapter 1 of LG 15 The Resistance used the original prologue trailer video as a cold opening, before fading to the Opening Narration.
  • The TV Tropes original webseries Echo Chamber usually uses cold opens.
  • Many YouTube Poops provide an opening sketch, often unrelated to the rest of the video, as an appetizer before the main Poop begins.
  • SF Debris uses cold openings in about 50% of his episodes. About 50% of those are also lead-ins to his Catch Phrase.
  • Ice hockey podcast Marek vs. Wyshynski takes The Teaser Up to Eleven, as the hour-long show runs anywhere from seven to twenty five minutes before the title opening of the show is finally played.

    Western Animation 
  • Teen Titans had these, the length of it varying depending on the episode.
  • Ben 10 generally has its first fight before the opening theme, as a way to kick off an episode.
  • Generator Rex.
  • The Simpsons usually does not use a cold opening, except sometimes for Halloween specials, they do, however, often use a Lead In.
    • "The Day the Earth Stood Cool" jumps straight from the show's logo to the beginning of the episode.
  • Several episodes in the first season of Futurama have a cold opening. They more or less disappeared in the second, though there were sporadic pre-opening theme joke adverts for futuristic products. So does "The Prisioner of Benda", one of the episode after the series was uncancelled.
    Linda: Tonight, at 11:00.
    Morbo: Doom!
  • Many of the early episodes of The Life and Times of Juniper Lee had teasers that didn't relate much to the plot, except for maybe one mention of where the main part of the story starts. One episode, "It Takes a Pillage", had a teaser which appeared to be setting up the Monster of the Week by showing him and having him monologue, but right at the point the monster's supposed to say his name, June conks him with a stone.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door sometimes has one of these before the Title Sequence, with frequency in usage increasing as the series went on.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) frequently started with a Flash Forward.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold has started every episode with one of these so far. One has been an actual Lead In ("Terror on Dinosaur Island" has Plastic Man in both segments), but as often as not they seem to be used to have fun or introduce a hero we may see in a later episode. The other exception is "Mayhem of the Music Meister!", which devoted all of the show's time to the main story.
  • Danny Phantom. Mostly fight scenes that usually end in jokes, but there are a few times where it foreshadows the upcoming plot.
  • Except for episodes that were only 11 minutes long, Kim Possible had these as well, most of them being Batman Cold Openings.
  • Space Ghost Coast to Coast does this almost every episode. In one particular case, the episode "Joshua" is a super long cold opening promoting "Space Ghost 2000". The actual episode consists of the winners of the "Haikuin' for Space Ghost" contest reading their haikus, and that's about it. "Gallagher"'s cold opening consisted solely of Space Ghost shouting "They've invented the telephone?!", with no lead-up or follow-through, and with no relation to anything in the episode.
  • Done quite well in early episodes of King of the Hill, in which the Cold Open would transition seamlessly into the Title Sequence.
  • The Secret Saturdays have this in every episode, to let the viewer know the current situation of the characters.
  • The first season of All Grown Up! had cold opens, but dropped them from the second season onwards.
  • The 2nd season of W.I.T.C.H. added a cold open.
  • The series Olivia does a comedic one.
  • What's New, Scooby-Doo? and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated were the first two Scooby shows to use a cold open.
  • A large majority of Boondocks episodes open this way.
  • A few 1970 and 1971 cartoons used cold opens: Archie's Funhouse, Sabrina and The Groovie Goolies, Josie and the Pussycats and Will The Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down? were the 1970s entries; the debut episode of 1971's Help! It's The Hair Bear Bunch! ("Keep Your Keeper") was the only ep to use a cold open during its CBS run. All sixteen episodes were re-edited for cable/satellite to have cold opens.
    • In the 1980s, NBC's cartoon shows had teasers.
  • Several prime-time cartoons from 1960s have cold openings. These include The Flintstones, Top Cat, Calvin And The Colonel, and Jonny Quest.
    • Those were actually teasers, although a couple of Flintstones episodes (most notably the episode that introduced Bamm-Bamm) has a cold open.
  • The Venture Bros. uses cold opens in every episode. In some episodes, they don't even show the opening sequence, though, so it doesn't exactly count. In season one, at least, the Cold Open would always be drawn in wide screen while the rest of the episode was in full screen.
  • Nu, Pogodi! uses these for every episode. Each of these ends with Wolf delivering his Catch Phrase ("Just you wait, hare!") just before the opening titles blare.
  • Here's a rare theatrical example: a lot of late 1950s widescreen CinemaScope shorts from Terrytoons have a teaser before the credits. This was dropped after a while, although the final Heckle & Jeckle cartoon Messed Up Movie Makers (released in 1966) has a teaser, too.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic uses cold open in every episode.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force used cold openings featuring Dr. Weird, who would create experiments that would wreck havoc for the Aqua Teens in the show. This lasted three episodes, until Dr. Weird became a nonsensical opening. He was later replaced by Spacecataz. The Dr. Weird openings are set to return, however.
  • Arthur always begins with a teaser that's about a minute long, usually with Arthur talking directly to the viewers, followed by a title card.
  • As did Doug, five years earlier.
  • Archer uses a cold open in every episode, although it usually does involve the episode's plot.
  • Ugly Americans almost always starts with a cold open that looks like part of a horror film, then turns out to be something fairly mundane (for that universe). Usually used to introduce the Department of Integration's client of the week. Case in point, the pilot.
  • Secret Mountain Fort Awesome does this to explain the plot of each episode, before surging into the Title-Only Opening.
  • Being a parody of Western TV shows, the Gene Deitch Tom and Jerry short "Tall in the Trap" had a teaser play before the credits.
  • The Flintstones has teasers. Early in the series, it showed a scene directly from the episode itself, though some of them, particularly in later seasons, show either a one-off gag or use a Lead In.
    • The Jetsons had them in its original run. However, most current TV/DVD prints remove their teasers, though "The Coming of Astro" has its teaser intact.


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alternative title(s): Cold Opening; Pre Titles Sequence; Cold Open; Cold Openings; Teaser
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