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Trainwreck Episode
This is any episode of a show that focuses around a big disaster. Frequently used as a season opener (or finale), this will usually involve the creation of a spectacular crash scene and may well get covered in Radio Times or another such publication.

Depending on the series' main focus, the disaster anchors the episode in one of two ways:
  1. The Police, Fire, Hospital personnel, or Lawyers encounter the crash/disaster in the course of their work. The chief focus in the Police and Law procedurals is usually on the causation; with the Corrupt Corporate Executive likely to make an appearance while the victims are only briefly touched on, whether on-camera or in summary.
  2. The episode focuses on the POV of a person or group either involved in the disaster or related to victims thereof. If not a Medical Drama, (and even sometimes then,) could fall under Very Special Episode.

Common in the Medical Drama and Crime and Punishment Series. Not to be confused with Translation Train Wreck or an episode that's So Bad, It's Horrible.


Examples:

  • Silent Witness: "Body 21" and a later episode involving a Chinook crashing into a refugee detention centre.
  • LOST: The pilot episode shows the crash of Oceanic flight 815 and deals with the aftermath.
  • The Final Destination movies all open with a elaborate 'anatomy of an accident' scene.
  • House:
    • The Season 4 premiere depicted an office building collapsing, whereas the Season 6 finale depicted the process of a crane collapsing and crashing into an apartment building.
    • Let's not forget the bus crash at the end of season 4. It's a while before we actually see the bus crash, but when we do, it's all slow-mo, heart-wrenching-ness.
  • Pretty much every Police Procedural ever, to show that it's not all about Perp Sweating and arguing with Da Chief or the judge every day.
  • Law & Order over it's run has featured a ferry boat crash, an arson at a packed nightclub and a car-bombing.
  • Crossing Jordan had a subway derailment and an office building bombing that both created mass-casualties.
  • Grey's Anatomy has a few, such as a train accident in Season 2 and a ferry crash in Season 3.
  • The premiere of Peter Benchley's Amazon included a plane crashing in a jungle with the main characters - some of the crash is seen from different passenger perspectives throughout the first three episodes. Interestingly, this also predate LOST's plane-crash scenario by two years
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation had a bus crash version, which was caused by shoddy materials. It was Greg's first time in the field, too.
  • Cold Case: An arson fire set in a disco to cover up a murder ended up killing almost a dozen more.
  • Forever Knight had Black Buddha, where a plane crashed outside Toronto. It happened to be carrying Nick's partner, who died.
  • A number of episodes of Babylon 5 have plots kicked off by docking accidents, most particularly By Any Means Necessary, which centered more on the concerns of the dockworkers (obsolete or faulty equipment, insufficient manpower to keep up with the high flow of shipping traffic in and out of the station, etc.) and Earth's attempts to put an end to their strike.
  • A second season episode of Eli Stone deals with a major earthquake which Eli had had a vision of early in season one.

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