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Mind Screw Opening

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An opening which makes very little or absolutely no sense, and that may or may not make sense in context.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Archereon on Jul 12th 2011 at 5:51:46 PM
Last Edited By:
Arivne on May 16th 2018 at 5:20:15 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Hello there. We're in space. Except that space is a walnut being eaten by a cosmic bunny rabbit.

So there you are. Its your first time watching this show or reading this book your friends have recommended to you. The premise sounds good, and it has solid ratings, so it looks as if you'll be in for a fun ride. Then things get weird. Maybe the story opens with a focus on characters that never appear or appear very late in the story, or it details events which don't seem to have happened in the main story, and may not occur until the very end.

You've just experienced this trope: an opening which doesn't make sense, at least to first time viewers who didn't spoil themselves too much about the premise and Verse.

But regardless of what the writers chose to throw at the viewers, its likely you'll be able to figure things out By The End Of The Story. Or Not. What makes this trope distinct from an Inverted Gainax Ending is that the amount of Sense the Opening Makes In Context or to repeat viewers varies. In some stories, particularly Speculative Fiction that gets Lost in Medias Res or uses a poorly (Deliberately or otherwise) implemented Action Prologue, things will make sense as soon as the exposition gets going. In other stories, the opening won't make sense until late in the story, possibly even at the ending. In many such cases, the opening is revealed to have been the ending or late point in the story all along. Then there's cases in which the opening never gets explained at all, due to an Aborted Arc or stylistic choice.

Extreme forms of In Medias Res and Action Prologues can fall into this. Compare Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, which is a weird moment that happens somewhere else in the story, and contrast Gainax Ending and The Ending Changes Everything.


Anime and Manga

Film - Live-Action

Now about that weird page opening...It's Self Demonstrating, get it!?

Feedback: 27 replies

Jul 12th 2011 at 5:52:47 PM

Yeah, it really needs some examples. I'm not in the mood to go hunting for any, and I'll write up a description for the two I had off the top of my head later.

Jul 12th 2011 at 7:22:08 PM

I know it's sort of the opposite of a Gainax Ending, but it definitely needs a name change. For one, the Gainax Ending is so named because Studio Gainax is known for them. Gainax is not known for Gainax Openings, that I'm aware of, so it makes no sense. Another thing, is you're not supposed to name pages in ways that it requires knowledge of another page to understand, which this would. So yeah, we need to brainstorm. Obscure Opening is a suggestion.

Jul 13th 2011 at 5:00:57 AM

The Plank has a Gainax Opening. Horrific Joker style laughter coming from, and echoing around, the timber in a timber merchant's yard.

Jul 13th 2011 at 6:07:49 AM

Let's not make a clone off of a terribly named trope please. All of your examples seem to suffer from a bad case of X Just X as well.

Jul 13th 2011 at 8:21:05 AM

That's because I haven't gotten around to writing them up yet, I'll get to that in a jiffy, though I'm not familiar with all of those. You're correct though, it should be renamed. Mindscrew Opening sounds good enough for now.

Jul 13th 2011 at 8:24:56 AM

Incidentally, are we referring to an opening scene or the OP thingy with a song?

Jul 13th 2011 at 8:27:33 AM

No, I just made that up completely out of nowhere. It's self demonstrating in that the opening lines make absolutely no sense, though it gets an explanation for people who didn't figure it out in the ending thing. That's if you're referring to the "We're in space..." thing.

Jul 13th 2011 at 10:26:43 AM

  • ParanoiaAgent's opening is just people laughing in a very frightening manner, in various places, including on the moon. .

Jul 14th 2011 at 6:30:17 AM

The Laconic is a bit fuzzy and wordy. You really don't need to mention that it "may or may not make sense in context", as that's tautological. Something as clean as "An opening which makes little to no sense" would be sufficient (although there's value in perhaps emphasising that it's not just that it doesn't make much sense, but that it's going to seem utterly bizarre to the person first seeing it).

Jul 14th 2011 at 6:37:13 AM

Is there a certain show that this trope is the best known for? Perhaps a good title would be X Opening, with X being the name of the show, if said show was prominent enough that the majority of people would be able to associate the two. It would give it a bit more context than just "Mind Screw Opening".

Jul 14th 2011 at 6:39:38 AM

Well, you could probably go for the ultimate Mind Screw series, which would almost certainly have fit this trope - Monty Python.

Jul 15th 2011 at 4:49:50 PM

Need some more examples here. Discovery: Not really.

Jul 15th 2011 at 7:58:31 PM

Did you intend another word, there, Pyroninja42? If you intended "Contexposition" to be a portmanteau, then it really does fail to work as one.

Jul 16th 2011 at 1:02:24 AM

^Context + Exposition = Contexposition.

Jul 16th 2011 at 1:47:01 AM

I can see it once it's pointed out, but it reads as "Context Position", which thus doesn't make sense. Besides, putting "No" in front of a portmanteau that isn't well-known isn't a good idea, since you haven't yet defined the original portmanteau.

If you want a suitable name, I'd go with something like Peculiar Prologue.

Jul 22nd 2011 at 4:52:40 PM

Well, that sounds fairly good. Peculiar Prologue...

Jul 22nd 2011 at 5:06:55 PM

This may really be more of Chekhov's Gunmen, I'll let you decide.

Pulp Fiction: The film opens with two hold-up artists discussing the trade in a coffee shop, ending with them brandishing guns and yelling "Everybody! This is a robbery!" It isn't until the end of the film we return to the thieves and realize the gravity of the choice to rob that particular coffee shop.

Jul 23rd 2011 at 8:48:57 PM

Kevin: any explanation for that?

May 15th 2018 at 11:30:18 PM

Formatted examples and added missing wicks.

Film Live Action

  • A Serious Man opens with a recounting of the story of a dybbuk haunting a couple in the Old Country. It's never explained what relevance this has to the rest of the film.

May 15th 2018 at 11:37:11 PM

Old YKKTW is old.

This needs rewriting to clarify how it's different from Once More With Clarity.

May 16th 2018 at 1:04:31 AM

^ this trope doesn't have to have the opening be explained later.

May 16th 2018 at 1:25:36 AM

Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope. Please don't remove the marking unless you add enough context. Warning: providing Zero Context Examples can result in being suspended from editing.

May 16th 2018 at 5:20:15 PM

A better title for this would be either Bizarro Opening or Gainax Opening.