RobotechMaster on May 10th 2012 at 6:02:47 PM
Last Edited By:
AHI-3000 on Oct 24th 2017 at 10:37:33 PM
Page Type: Trope
Cast Lists are used to give credit to the professionals and creators responsible for the production. In an ongoing work, audiences can draw a connection between characters and their actors, which can reveal a Plot Twist when the cast list is shown. This is frequently related to the life or death of characters, but can be related to Two Aliases, One Character and many other surprises as well.
Note that both opening credits and ending credits apply for this trope. Cast lists from outside sources like IMDB contribute to the spoiler effect, revealing Plot Twists to people not watching the work, and are why this concept is marked as a Trivia item. The actor may be a complete unknown outside of the work, because it is the presence/absence of their name that communicates a spoiler to the audience.
The single character version of this is the Walking Spoiler. See also Chronically Killed Actor (we know a character will die because the actor always plays dead characters), Contractual Immortality (we know an actor's character survives because of the contracts the actor signed), Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize (the character has to be important because the actor is well-known), and Typecasting / Meta Casting (actors are known by their roles, and the work plays with those known roles).
Warning: because of the nature of this trope, spoilers below are unmarked.
- Played Straight: The arrival of a (previously dead) character is spoiled by the name of the actor playing them.
- Averted Trope:
- Characters are not listed in the cast list to avoid spoilers.
- Rather than being resurrected, the deceased character shows up in a flashback, or as a ghost, or the actor is listed as playing the deceased character's twin (or Identical Grandson).
- The Ensemble cast lists all actors known to be part of the group, even the Absentee Actors of the episode.
- Enforced Trope: Prominent characters have their actors listed in the opening credits.
- Downplayed Trope: Characters are listed in the end credits after The Reveal of their actor.
- The voice actor and the creative credit for Howard the Duck were held off to the very end of the Credits in The Stinger for Guardians of the Galaxy to hide his appearance from the audience, now Genre Savvy enough to wait until the end of the credits for a Stinger.
- In 9 to 5, the opening credits boldly list (featuring?) Sterling Hayden as Chairman of the Board. Early in the movie, someone comments that they've never met the CEO in the 10+ years they've worked there. But the viewer is now certain that he will appear, which kind of spoils an important plot point.
- Finding Dory: the names of several characters from Finding Nemo appear in the credits before the characters themselves appear in the post-credits gag.
- Due to his high recognizability from having played in Harry Potter David Thewlis' presence in a recently released film reveals much about his character's importance to the plot. This can be edited to be less cryptic after the film has been out awhile.
- The film version of Watchmen ran into this problem with the character of Rorschach, played by Jackie Earle Haley. In the original Watchmen comic, Rorshach remained masked and glimpses of his face were hidden for most of the story, as even his hero friends didn't know his civilian identity. Throughout the comic there was this red headed man who appeared homeless and holding a sign reading "The End Is Nigh" and could be seen in the background of a number of other scenes, and even has an exchange with a recurring newspaper vendor. It is intended to be a big surprise when Rorshach is unmasked and revealed to effectively be a Recurring Extra, with his real name Walter Kovacs. This works fantastically in comic form because they are not played by recognizable actors, but as such in the movie anyone in the audience who knows Haley would question why he is walking around with a sign.
- Downplayed by Kevin Spacey, who requested that he not be included in the opening credits to Se7en, because his character does not appear until two-thirds of the way into the film and he wanted his appearance to be a surprise to the audience (also averting Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize in the process). He is listed first in the end credits to the film.
- Warrior Cats features a Dramatis Personae called the "Allegiances" at the start of every book, listing every character and which group they're in. Occasionally the list reveals warrior names, births, and retirements long before they happen in the actual book, or the existence of character in the list spoils a plot point: for instance, SkyClan being listed in Ravenpaw's Farewell spoiled that Ravenpaw was going to learn about and travel to the long-lost Clan.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Tara's actress (Amber Benson) is featured in the opening credits, but subverted audience expectations by killing her off. Joss Whedon wanted to do the same thing for the character Jesse in the two-part premier, but didn't happen because of budget issues.
- Angel deliberately withheld Juliet Landau's credit to prevent a spoiler where her character Drusilla appeared to turn Darla back into a Vampire in the final scene of an episode.
- For the Doctor Who episode ''The Bells of Saint John, the cast list was revealed before the episode aired, listing Richard E Grant as 'The Great Intelligence', after he had previously been 'destroyed' in the episode beforehand, which ruined The Reveal at the end of the episode.
- In Legends of Tomorrow season 2, Leonard Snart had already met his demise in the penultimate episode of the previous season. So his actor's name, Wentworth Miller appearing at the start of the episode ruined the twist of his surprise return.
- In the Power Rangers universe, particularly the original MMPR series, if a new student begins showing up regularly, it's a safe bet that a cast member is being replaced. Which one? Easy to tell. Look at the clothes the new student is wearing, and match the color. They'll also be listed in the closing credits of the episode.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Some episodes noticeably omitted guest star Salome Jens from the opening credits, because her appearance as a villain in those episodes would have spoiled the plot. As a tradeoff, her name was prominently displayed first in the closing credits, before the main cast credits.
- Played with (Zig-Zagged and de/re-constructed) in Supergirl. Laura Benanti as Kara's mother, Alura Zor-El, is credited in episodes after the Pilot in which she sends Kal-El and Kara to Earth from dying Krypton, which sets up viewers to think that there's going to be a surprise resurrection. Benanti, it's later discovered, also plays Alura's Evil Twin Astra, who survived on Fort Rozz.
- However, Alura does make later appearances, but these are as a duplicate consciousness retrieved from the Krypton pods and Fortress of Solitude.
- Supernatural fans memorize the actor names for recurring characters, so when they watch the opening credits and see a familiar name, they already know that the associated character will be showing up later in the episode.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Bucky Barnes died in Captain America: The First Avenger, but the actor's name, Sebastian Stan, shows up in the opening credits to the sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- Agent Coulson dies in The Avengers, but his actor, Clark Gregg, is listed predominantly in the opening credits for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. because Coulson is the boss of this group of agents.
- The play Bondage by David Henry Hwang features two actors in full-body S&M gear, playacting a variety of racial stereotypes and race-based scenarios. The actual ethnicity of the couple is The Reveal, so the names of any recognizable actors attached to the project would automatically be a spoiler.
- In the first Blazblue game, the Arcade mode credits has the voice actors' names for Hakumen and Nu being put as question marks. Only after beating Story Mode that their seiyuus are revealed: the same as Jin's and Noel's.
- April Ryan was seemingly killed in the ending of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, but it was already announced that her voice actress returns to work for Dreamfall Chapters "in some capacity".
- Parodied in an episode of Family Guy that depicts an episode of Law & Order. As he characters ask themselves who the murderer could be, the credits on the bottom of the screen read"Special Guest Star: Jimmy Smits", and the characters turn toward the viewer and point down at the credit.
- Jack Palance played Curly in City Slickers, but Curly died. In the sequel, Jack returns as the twin brother.
- During the Fifth Doctor era, when the Doctor Who production team wished to hide the Master's involvement in a story, they credited the actor under an anagrammatic character alias such as "Neil Toynay" (Tony Ainley) or "James Stoker" (Master's Joke).
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock featured Leonard Nimoy in the opening credits as a director (not an actor) because his character (Spock) had died in the previous film.
- Star Wars: The Phantom Menace averted the It Was His Sled spoiler of who Darth Sidious is by not putting that name in the closing credits. The actor still received credit because they played both roles of the Two Aliases, One Character.
- When House had a group of 30+ doctors following around Dr. House, the permanent characters were not listed in the opening credits of Season 4 episodes.
- In one of several plays called The Butler Did It there is no butler character, but a butler is listed in the cast in order to not spoil the reveal that the maid did it.
- In the play Sherlocks Last Case there are two actors listed in the cast list and have bios, neither of which are in the actual play, in order to avoid certain spoilers.
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