User Operation Prohibit Flag

That operation is not permitted at this time.

A programming flag used to disable one or more functions of a media player, such as Stop, Menu, and Chapter Skip. On a compliant player, it forces the viewer to wait as certain material plays before the main menu becomes available. Originally, this was used to require the viewer to see the copyright warning, but it has since been regularly abused to make advertising and promotional material unskippable. This is one of those things that sounds great to home video producers but the logic of the practice falls down when you realize that the people who will be affected by this stuff obviously own a legit DVD, and the people who pirate the video won't get (or will be able to skip) the warning or ads. In other words, good behavior is being punished with annoying ads, and bad behavior is being rewarded by the lack of them.

The formation of the User Operation Prohibit Flag was arguably set in motion during the VHS generation, where viewers could skip the trailers running before the feature presentation by fast-forwarding through them (Laserdiscs almost never had previews). The leap to DVD and Blu-Ray, which offer scripted seamless branching (as well as the rise in digital distribution and piracy) forced production companies to institute DRM that holds the viewer's attention while it shows promos for their latest works. That is, latest at the time of the disc's pressing. This can range from a single trailer to several minutes worth of commercials and advertisements for unrelated media. If the disc is old enough, the "new" media in question may even already be out of print, even on the company's "official" shop, making the whole "trailer" sequence completely pointless.

As one might imagine, this playback behavior fills many people with a vast, seething hatred. People who own DVD editing software like HandBrake may even be tempted to copy it purely to get a version without all that stuff. If you're lucky, your player might have a way around this, perhaps by pressing a certain set of remote control buttons. On some players, just hitting "menu" works sometimes. Some players will also hiccup if you try speeding up the playback past the tolerance point; dumping you at the menu. Of course, just as many will hiccup and go back to the beginning.

Unsurprisingly, the User Operation Prohibit Flag is slowly creeping its way into online distribution services as well. In 2006, Amazon's Unbox service was released with a service agreement that barred the customer from turning off their software, auto-updates without their consent and puts commercials and trailers on the user's computer without their permission.

DVD player software for personal computers, such as VLC Media Player, can often skip these even if flagged as unskippable.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Some anime DVDs from Funimation have previews that are only skippable using the "Title Menu"/"Top Menu" button... a button which, of course, not all DVD player remotes have.
  • Madman Entertainment in Australia make a point of not doing this. They are required by law to include an anti-piracy warning but it's relegated to a sub-menu with the previews and is entirely skippable.
  • Many of the US releases of Studio Ghibli films have an unskippable intro with John Lasseter waxing poetic about the film you're just about to watch.

  • Thoroughly averted by Disney. The earliest discs encoded the warnings as part of the film itself, before Disney's Fast Play let you skip all previews and warning screens.
  • This is very par for the course for many companies that place their vanity plates at the start of the DVD, without any way to skip it. This also can occur to logos that play at the end of the DVD, like Deluxe Digital Studios.
    • Although some Media Blasters/AnimeWorks DVDs use the flag to prevent you from directly accessing the main menu during the vanity plates, they don't lock out the fast-forward/rewind controls, meaning you can just set the FF to 4x or 8x and get through it in a few seconds...and you can practically circumvent them altogether if the control has a "next chapter" button (>>|) The punchline? It works on Disney DVDs, which, aside from containing the obligatory "unskippable" warnings, are notorious for having half a dozen ads before even getting to the menu.
      • Unfortunately, a number of DVDs disable chapter skipping and fast forwarding these too.
    • Averted on some Warner Bros. DVDs, where the FBI Warning and Warner Home Video logo are joined into one video file and can be fast forwarded through. On others, the FBI Warning, Warner Home Video logo, and 14 minutes of advertisements are all locked together, again without a way to skip them beyond a fast forward.
    • Some THX-certified DVDs don't let you skip the THX logo on them. And, since this is the company whose "jingle" is the Deep Note we're talking about here, this is a real shame for those who HATE loud noises......
  • One of the Easter eggs on The Ring DVD is to play the cursed video straight through, without being able to pause or stop it.
    • And then enterprising tropers can surreptitiously use their cell to call the house phone and scare the bejeepers out of their sister...
    • Even better, DreamWorks already thought of that. After the video plays, it jumps to a special menu that includes the sound effect of a phone ringing.
  • A "Rental Edition" DVD of The Scorpion King released in Australia had a seven minute trailer for the video game that the viewer had to sit through EVERY TIME THEY RETURNED TO THE MAIN MENU. Also, when first loading, there is a ten-minute advertisement for several other movies, which then leads into the video game ad mentioned above.
  • On many 2004-2005 DVDs from DreamWorks Animation, like Shrek 2, there's a 7-minute preview for Madagascar that you can't skip. You can just put it in the DVD player, go to the bathroom, make the popcorn, and then catch the last 15 seconds of Ben Stiller talking about how great the film was. This is absent on at least some versions of the Region 2 DVD.
  • The Blu Ray of The Omega Man has a 7 minute montage of FBI warning screens in over 40 different languages that is unskippable unless you press the "Root Menu" button. Watch it here.
    • The Blu-ray was released by Warner Home Video, also responsible for the FBI warning montage from Scooby-Doo: Camp Scare below.
  • The Blu-Ray version of 12 Years a Slave comes with a whopping 15 minutes of unskippable previews. Every navigation feature is disabled during them - even fast-forward.

    Live Action TV 
  • Most DVDs released in Australia, and many in the UK, have a unskippable, un-fast-forward-able "Video Piracy Is Stealing" ad.
    You wouldn't steal a handbag. You wouldn't steal a car. You wouldn't steal a baby. You wouldn't shoot a policeman, and then steal his helmet. You wouldn't go to the toilet in it, and then send it to the policeman's grieving widow. And then steal it again.
  • The Red Dwarf Series VI DVD has an unskippable animated intro on its first disc, but that's because you can access Easter Eggs at the point where the POV briefly stops moving inside the airlock.
  • Some editions of Dead Like Me Season 1 launches into an unskippable parade of copyright notices in every language known to man, lasting almost five minutes, at the end of every episode. Then it reboots the DVD so that you have to watch the opening vanity plates (also unskippable) again before you can get back to the menu.
    • This despicable behaviour is par for the course on many, MANY, MANY region 2 DVDs, regardless of movie or TV show, and has been for ages. It's the main reason to sit there with the remote already in your hands while watching the credits, prepared to hit the Menu key before the unskippable copyright notices start.
  • On any DVD released by Showtime (e.g. Penn & Teller: Bullshit!), the Showtime Entertainment logo is unskippable.
    • Showtime would later turn this Up to Eleven by making the pre-menu ads unskippable as well. This resulted in people who bought or rented Season 6 of Dexter having the end of the season spoiled by said unskippable ad.
  • The first few DVD releases of Stargate SG-1 had a loophole. As soon as the MGM teaser popped up you could use the title button method as mentioned above and skip directly to an episode but only DURING the teaser. Once it ended, everything was blocked. They soon realized this and blocked this for the rest of the DVDs.
  • Subverted with most UK Doctor Who DVDs. After the first few seconds of material the DVD gives you the option between normal or vision-impared menu. Taking the normal one gives you a few additional unskippable logos, the vision-impaired version jumps right to the menu, understandably.
  • A children's learning DVD called Potty Power has an unskippable preview for another DVD teaching children about the solar system. As this Amazon review proves, it scared the reviewer's kid so much that he wouldn't even watch the actual video. This may have happened with a few other members of the target audience, too.
  • The early DVD releases for Spooks are notorious for having a very, very long unskippable introductory sequence of someone breaking into an office at the start of each disc, leading into the DVD main menu. Particularly annoying since it isn't even a corporate or legal thing, just something that someone thought would be cool.
  • Some on-demand programs (from networks like ABC, for example) lock out the fast-forward and skip-forward options.
  • The DVD release of season 1 of Stranger Things starts with five minutes of unskippable trailers. Even worse, one of the trailers is for the show's second season - and contains spoilers for the first.

  • Red vs. Blue parodies these types of warnings on some of their DVDs.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Every WWE DVD release has an unskippable warning about the dangers of imitating the bumps and moves the wrestlers try, warning about how bodies have been broken and "careers ended in an instant."
    • Some earlier releases also had unskippable, and un-fastforward-able ads - not so bad, except when they were for the pseudo-porn Divas releases. Not what you want on-screen when friends or family enter the room.
      • There was an Undertaker DVD with ten minutes of unskippable, un-fast-forwardable ads.

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • Parodied in Bill Bailey's Guide to the Orchestra, where he specifically refers to the notorious unskippable and un-fastforwardable 1997 Universal Pictures logo sequence. He has the orchestra play a sped-up syncopated version of the sequence (as though fast-forwarded on a DVD player) 'just so the audience can get the satisfaction of hearing it once'.

  • A lot of games sold today have unskippable videos that play at the start, telling you who published, made the art, sound, video files, and who bought lunch, then some form of trailer for the game in question, every time you start the game. One consistent oddity is that which parts can be skipped and which can't tend to vary from game to game - some skip the entire sequence at the press of a button, some just skip the individual parts for each group involved (though if you're lucky, Escape will make the game take the hint and skip them all), some force you to watch one or two (usually the developer and/or publisher) before letting you skip the rest, and some force you to watch the full thing every time. Usually, nowadays there's also a notification at some point that shows you what the game's auto-saving indicator looks like and telling you not to turn off the power while the game is saving, which is always completely unskippable even if the rest of the startup sequence is (though it makes up for it by being about three seconds long at most). Fortunately, rather than being forced to watch these obnoxious videos, PC users can usually simply rename or delete the video files, causing the game to cut directly to the main menu.
    • Crysis Wars had an infuriating 2 minute long gameplay video that would be unskippable the first time you start up the game after installing - except the video sometimes breaks and will play anyway.
    • Games published by Warner Bros Interactive (such as Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor or Mad Max) prevent you from skipping it. Even preventing you from alt-tabbing away on the PC versions.
    • These unskippable movies are often used to mask load times, since until the menu system loads there's nothing for the program to skip to, and it's more visually interesting than the flat loading screens of old. Titles that are eccentric about what's skippable and what isn't are usually checking the loading progress in the background.
  • The HOME buttons on the Wii and 3DS are sometimes disabled to keep the user from quitting to the Home Menu when the system's doing something important, such as saving or loading data. This is one of the few kinds of cases where having such a flag is actually beneficial; you don't want to close your game in the middle of a save operation.
    • Speaking of the Wii, some games that use the Wii MotionPlus attachment make you watch a three minute long and annoyingly unskippable instructional video on how to properly set up the attachment before the game even starts. It even goes as far as instructing the user in painful detail how to setup a wrist strap and even how to remove the attachment. You can watch it here.
  • The Sega CD port of the original Mortal Kombat started by running a two-minute ad for the Mortal Kombat game itself. There was no way to skip it. This unskippable ad, along with the load times slowing down the game, led to much criticism for said port.
  • The first release of Baldur's Gate. The first time you run the game, you get an unskippable Planescape: Torment trailer.
  • Max Payne 3 has unskippable pre-rendered video cutscenes while loading levels. Menu access is disabled during this time, and if a button other than Start (which just pauses the cutscene) is pressed before the load is complete, the message "Still Loading" appears in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  • Parodied in a post (archived here) on the now-defunct development blog for Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People. Strong Bad claims that the more logos there are before a game, the better its review score will be. And he also mentions that you shouldn't be able to skip these logos so you don't forget "all the cooks responsible for spoiling this pot".

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The fourth Space Ghost Coast to Coast DVD contains the blue-screen footage of the kittens used in the "Chinatown" episode. It can't be skipped or stopped; the only way to do so is to eject the disc (depending on the player). Though why you'd want to is a mystery.
  • Many of the Walt Disney Treasures collections include unskippable disclaimers before each and every cartoon stating that the following short might contain objectionable material, and consisting of Leonard Maltin explaining we know better now.
  • The aforementioned multilanguage FBI warning from the season 1 release of Dead Like Me isn't just limited to that DVD. It's also annoyingly featured at the end of the DVD release of Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare. So you get the Last Note Nightmare Stinger where ghost guy slowly gobbles up the camera...and then the Warner Bros. Animation logo... and then about 17 FBI warnings in a crapload of American and Asian languages. Luckily it doesn't reboot the DVD. It just cuts to the special features menu when it's at the final screen.
    • So are almost all of Warner Home Video's Region 2 DVDs that feature warnings for about 35 countries after the movie (even the ones whose languages aren't featured on the disc). Luckily, every warning screen is skippable with the "next chapter" button, except for the last one in the set.
  • Clone High was given a DVD release in Canada by Teletoon, the cable network that aired it there. Unfortunately both discs in the set contain an unskippable 90-second promo for Teletoon's adult animation block The Detour, which plays every single time you put the disc in.
  • The NCircle DVD of Super Mario Bros.: Koopa Khronicles features a trailer for Dino Squad you can't skip. To make this even worse, the trailer is mostly composed of the freaking theme song. If you hate the show, it'll make you want to throw the TV out the window.
  • This trope also applies to some Caillou DVDs. Many parents of impatient children were not pleased.
  • At least one Teen Titans Go! DVD has previews for other Cartoon Network DVD's that can't be skipped unless you fast forward through them.
  • The Warner Bros. remastered Popeye sets have an unskippable piracy warning at the start. If the disc detects it's being played on a Region 2 player, the warning will play again, this time in Japanese.
  • Like the example above, the first three volumes of Animaniacs plays a unskippable Japanese warning if it's played on a Region 2 player.