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Action Prologue

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"You may have noticed that I began my story with a quick, snappy scene of danger and tension — but then quickly moved on to a more boring discussion of my childhood. Well, that's because I wanted to prove something to you: I am not a nice person. Would a nice person begin with such an exciting scene, then make you wait almost the entire book to read about it?"

Most stories take a while to build up, as they first introduce you to the characters, the world, and the theme, giving them time to develop in your mind before things start to change and become exciting.

Of course, this means that beginnings are often boring. It's been said that if you miss the first 15 minutes of a movie, you're not missing anything, as the plot doesn't pick up until later anyway. Many writers are aware of this, and their way of dealing with it is sometimes to do an Action Prologue.

An Action Prologue starts off with something exciting happening immediately. Right at the beginning, the hero is sneaking around an enemy base, being menaced by a threat, or something similarly exciting. In some cases this is foreshadowing. The event may be a minor one, but related to a major plot point that we don't discover until much later. It could be a dream sequence, where the hero sees something threatening that later shows up for real. It could be the Establishing Character Moment for our badass Action Hero. Or it could be something completely unrelated to the main plot at all, used only to make sure that something exciting happens right at the start.


In any case, the action quickly falls right after the Action Prologue, and then those usual first 15 minutes used to flesh out the story and introduce the characters show up. Often overlaps with How We Got Here when it shows off an action-packed scene from the end of the story before jumping to an earlier point in time to explain how the characters ended up in that scenario. War Was Beginning is a specific subtrope.

Compare Batman Cold Open, which illustrates a character's skills at the beginning of a story; and Danger Room Cold Open, which demonstrates the skills of a team. Contrast Prolonged Prologue, which is what happens when you drag it out too much, as well as Slow-Paced Beginning where the work slaps you from the start with exposition... and more exposition... and still more exposition... It can happen that the Action Prologue is cut short and revealed not to have been really happening; that's a Fake Action Prologue.


A form of The Teaser, often In Medias Res. Also known as a "Bond Opening Sequence", since James Bond uses it so much. Not to be confused with Action-Hogging Opening, which is where the out-of-plot opening sequence rather than the first part of the plot proper is unusually intense.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Witch Hunter Robin starts off with a mission by the ultra-tech team of super-powered witch-hunters, and the rest of the first episode is introducing their little circle to the audience. And the title character isn't even fully introduced until the second episode!
  • The prologue of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has a battle in space the likes of which don't happen until the final of the four arcs — and, in fact, the exact battle shown never actually happens.
  • The anime version of Chrono Crusade took the manga's Batman Cold Open and added a hint that Aion was behind the attack to turn it into an Action Prologue.
  • The anime of D.N.Angel opens on a fight between Dark and Krad that apparently happened in the past, before cutting to the high school Shōjo romance opening of the manga.
  • Venus Versus Virus's anime version has this. Guns, check. Shooting stuff with said gun? Check. Eyepatch wearing Gothic lolita girl wielding the gun? Check. Creepy girl with red eyes? Check. Then we cut to the catchy opening. In the manga however, the intro is mellow, and shows how Sumire became the way she is.
  • Berserk is a extreme example: it starts with a two and 2/3 volumes of story to establish the setting and then has a twelve volume flashback before reaching the point of time when it started. The anime follows suit with its first episode (basically a shortened version of the first chapter without Puck), then ends in a way that could not possibly lead to said prologue.
  • Not exactly action, but Higurashi: When They Cry's anime adaptation opens with watching a half-obscured silhouette beating someone to death with a blunt instrument... And then the OP starts playing...
    • Which is based on how the game begins with a narration going along with a the sound of something hitting something else.
  • The first episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood mostly exists to start off the series with something that wasn't seen in the 2003 anime adaptation. However, the events are integrated into the story of Brotherhood, even though they don't happen in the manga, and some parts serve as major foreshadowing.
    • The Movie for the 2003 anime opens with a story about the Elric brothers fighting a Mad Physicist who invented a new type of bomb, which turns out to be a story told by Edward to Alphons Heiderich, Al's alternate world counterpart about his life before he was sent there. This is later used for an And the Adventure Continues ending, as Ed and Al learn that the bomb accidentally ended up in the other world and go to track it down.
  • Kämpfer opens with Natsuru being chased and shot at by Akane before jumping off of a building to her assumed death. Then the opening credits roll.
  • The manga adaptation of Persona 3 opens with The Hanged Man Operation. That is, an explosive battle on a bridge.
  • The second scene in Sword of the Stranger is an elaborate action sequence, with bandits attacking the Ming caravan.
  • Full Metal Panic! begins with Sagara saving a woman from her kidnappers and securing a disc with mysterious content.
  • Infinite Stratos begins with Ichika and his harem facing off an unidentified IS pilot.
    • It turns out that it's actually the fight vs Silvario Gospel in the last episode
  • Aria the Scarlet Ammo starts with Kinji trying to not be blown up by the bomb on his bike, and Aria falling out of the sky, shooting guns and all, to try to save him.
  • The Dirty Pair movie (better known as Project Eden) takes this all the way into a full Pastiche of James Bond films, starting with an equivalent of the Bond Gun Barrel and ending with a Design Student's Orgasm credits sequence the Bond films could be proud of. (Not to mention introducing the Guy of the Movie.)
  • Ghost in the Shell (1995) begins with Major Kusanagi carrying out a hit on a defecting programmer and a corrupt government minister, establishing her as a consummate Action Girl (as well as showing off the coolness of the series' thermoptic camouflage).
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica starts with Homura fighting Walpurgisnacht in a devastated Mitakihara, witnessed by Madoka. It's the endgame of the previous "Groundhog Day" Loop.
  • The first episode of Psycho-Pass shows a wounded Kogami taking on a Mook wearing cybernetic armor before confronting Makishima. This doesn't happen until episode 16.
  • Girls und Panzer begins with the first few minutes of a tank battle, the rest of which is seen in Episode 4.
  • Tekkaman Blade starts off with the main character fighting off a bunch of Radam monsters before being blasted off the Orbital Ring onto Earth.
  • In Blade & Soul, Alka is seen running from some Palam soldiers at the beginning. They seemingly trap her and open fire, only for her to effortlessly dodge their bullets, and proceed to slit all of their throats.
  • Assassination Classroom kicks off with the entire class whipping out firearms and opening fire on their teacher, Koro-sensei, who has walked into the room to take attendance. Koro-sensei casually dodges every single bullet as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
  • Terror in Resonance starts with the theft of a plutonium core from a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.
  • World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman starts off with an epic battle between the main character, his classmates, and a giant dragon.
  • Rage of Bahamut: Genesis starts with the titular Bahamut nuking everything in sight, before facing an alliance of demons, gods and humans. The actual story takes place 2000 years after that bout.
  • Attack on Titan: The beginning of Episode 1 shows some Survey Corps soldiers attacking a Titan. A later scene shows that the force was decimated in the battle.
  • Kamigami no Asobi starts with the harem in their god forms, fighting an unknown opponent, possibly each other. It gets to show Apollon's Transformation Sequence, before going back to the actual beginning, and the relatively action-free high school story... until the last episode, which provides a context for the beginning part.
  • The 2004 feature film version of Appleseed opens with Deunan Knute fighting some rogue cyborgs and a pair of tanks in the wastelands outside of Olympus.
  • The first few minutes of WorldEnd: What Do You Do at the End of the World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us? flash-forward to a seemingly hopeless battle against the 17 Beasts. The Last Stand defense of the airship, coupled with copious amounts of blood and violence, contrasts with the more light hearted scenes later in the episode. It’s one of the first signs that the cute exterior of the series won’t last very long.
  • The Wonderful World of Puss 'n Boots: All films begin with the moment that Pero the cat is sentenced to death for the crime of saving a mouse or in later films, refusing to kill mice at all, then him running away from the cat kingdom, and the Cat King sending three cat assassins after him to finish the job. Then the title drops and it cuts to the assassins chasing him across the countryside before Pero loses them and heads toward whatever person or place needs a hero.
  • The first two minutes of Sakura Wars the Animation are spent showing a Traintop Battle in Europe where a white-haired demon pursues Klara M. Ruzhkova and White Cape, only for the demon to be stopped by Seijuro Kamiyama, Elise and Lancelot.
  • The first few minutes of the Vinland Saga anime begins in the middle of a pitched sea battle, the last battle Thors would take part in as a member of the Jomsvikings. After a couple of minutes of intense action, we see Thors decide to desert the Jomsvikings and leave battle behind him.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • The Divine begins with a scene of the protagonist's friend flying a chopper over a burning jungle, before a dragon emerges from the smoke and gets shot by him. The next pages focus on the protagonist's boring and depressing life before he agrees to go to the jungle with his friend and interesting things start to happen.
  • The Ultimates: The first issue takes place in World War II. Can there be more action than that?
  • Wonder Woman 600: "Valedictorian" opens on Wonder Woman leading a coalition of female superheroes including Batwoman, Batgirl, Stargirl, Supergirl, Bulleteer and others in defending Washington DC from an attack by Ivo's Cyber-Sirens. The actual story is about Vanessa Kapatelis getting her life back together.

    Fan Works 
  • Girls und Panzer fanfics frequently do this in order to emulate the show's opening, whether they're doing a retelling of canon, or an entirely new fic. How successful they are varies, since some believe it works better in an anime than a fanfic, and that the show needed to show the tanks immediately to draw people's interest. Boys und Sensha-do! is one such example.
  • Daring Do & the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well: Canterlot Crisis The story begins with Mare Do Well infilitrating a rendezvous with the antagonists, which becomes a fight to receieve the mysterious package they exchanged.
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still begins with Tom morphing to heal his near-fatal injuries, killing Essa, and then falling off the Blade Ship.
  • The First Saniwa combines this with How We Got Here. The prologue features the major characters in a massive battle with Higekiri heavily injured, and the story proper leads up to said battle.
  • The pilot episode of Invader Zim: A Very Tall Problem opens with the Massive being attacked and boarded by the Resisty, who massacre the Irkens onboard while Red and Purple barely escape with their lives.
  • Kyon: Big Damn Hero combines this with In Medias Res.
  • Mortal Kombat vs. The Owl House begins with a big battle between the forces of Edenia and Outworld, before the Mass Teleportation gets the story started.
  • The Night Unfurls: Overlaps with Batman Cold Open. The first chapter of the remastered version opens up with the Good Hunter wrapping up his hunt for an orc war band, killing the three remaining ones with ease. This is to show his typical chores for earning income: mercenary work.
  • The first scene of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Reflecting Balance has a Pokémon in a gray cloak fleeing from the Sigilyph that stole seven of the eight Axis Tower crystals, trying to keep the last crystal away from the Sigilyph.
  • Pokémon: Nova and Antica: How does the story catch your attention early on? By having the regional villainous team attack in the very first town.
  • In Puzzle Hunt Precure, the first chapter starts out with the fight against the Metamasters that separated Rei from her sister Miu.
  • Whispers begins with a fight between Celestia and Nightmare Moon, before swerving into Original Character territory.

    Film — Animated 
  • Bolt does this with the Show Within a Show's filming.
  • In the Pixar film, Cars 2, the film begins with Finn McMissile infiltrating the Lemons' oil rig to uncover their evil plans after his partner Leland Turbo has been crushed to death while attempting to escape their lair.
  • G.I. Joe: The Movie has an epic one where Cobra attacks the Statue of Liberty during a celebration and ends up getting into a battle with virtually every introduced member of G.I. Joe up to that point. It's easily a Moment of Awesome.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World opens with Hiccup, his friends, and Valka raiding dragon trappers, apparently being a common occurrence for them now.
  • Toy Story 2 starts with Buzz Lightyear infiltrating Emperor Zurg's secret lair. It is then revealed to be a video game Rex is playing.
  • Toy Story 3 starts with a Fake Action Prologue where Woody and Jessie try to save a train of orphans. Then the plot starts getting anachronistic and filled with Call Backs to the previous films, and it turns out to be Andy's playtime from the toys' point of view.
  • Wonder Woman (2009): The story starts in the middle of the final battle against Ares when he tries to take over the world for the first time centuries before the start of the main story.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The A-Team: Also explains how the A-Team comes together, detailing Hannibal recruiting B.A. and Murdock to rescue Face.
  • Android Cop: Hammond and his first partner busting up an illegal sale in the Zone.
  • Arachnicide: L9 Commando stopping an arms deal.
  • The Avengers begins with the Big Bad popping up to steal the MacGuffin, fighting several government agents in the process before leading into a car chase. This is before the title even appears onscreen.
    • Avengers: Age of Ultron opens with the team battling HYDRA and Baron von Strucker, before moving onto the main plot after the opening credits.
    • Captain America: Civil War opens on one of the Winter Soldier's missions back in 1991 before so much as the Marvel logo appears. Then it moves on to a second prologue of the Avengers in action.
  • Bandolero!: The film opens with a bank robbery where Maria's husband and one of Dee's men die before Johnson and Roscoe capture the other outlaws.
  • Black Butler: Sebastian rescuing Shiori from some Human Traffickers.
  • Bloody Mallory: Mallory killing her demon-possessed husband.
  • Brotherhood of Blades: Shen leading some assassins, including most of our main characters, in capturing one member of the Eunuch Clique.
  • Brotherhood of the Wolf begins with a martial arts fight between the two heroes and some local goons. The original script began with an extended chase through Parisian sewers.
  • Bullet in the Head: The insanely violent gang fight between Ben and Ringo's gangs. Features people being stabbed, hit with chains and having their heads shoved through car windows in slow motion.
  • Bumblebee: A battle sequence on Cybertron ending with the retreat of the autobots from the planet. Followed by Bumblebee being chased by the human military and attacked by Blitzwing.
  • The Chase (1994) is pretty much lock, stock and barrel Jack Hammond's kidnapping of Natalie Voss and his attempt to escape to Mexico. Roughly 90 percent of the movie takes place on the freeway or just alongside it, and the director wastes no time whisking us right into the thick of it: from the very moment the screen fades in, we can already hear the wail of police sirens in the distance as Jack enters the convenience store looking for a hostage, and spots Natalie.
  • Cosmos: War of the Planets: Hamilton and his crew evading the refractions of an ancient space explosion.
  • Cy Warrior: CB 3 escaping from captivity.
  • Cyborg Cop: The Ryan brothers dealing with a Hostage Situation.
  • Cyborg Soldier: ISAAC escaping from his creators.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy works like this in the sequels:
    • The Dark Knight opens with the Joker and his clowns robbing a bank.
      • This seems to be a reverse of the usual Batman Cold Open in that, instead of the establishing the hero's skills, the first 15 minutes has several moments designed to instill the fear of The Joker into the viewers.
    • The Dark Knight Rises begins with Bane and his henchmen conducting a mid-air skyjacking and faking Dr. Pavel's death.
  • Dead and Deader: Quinn's unit's first encounter with the zombies, and their eventual slaughter.
  • Diary of the Dead begins with internet footage of a zombie attack on some TV journalists, then cuts to the protagonists making a horror movie and slowly finding out about the Zombie Apocalypse. Justified as the whole movie is meant to have been edited by one of the protagonists after the event anyway.
  • The 1985 IMAX film The Dream Is Alive looks like a subversion at first — it opens with about a minute of an alligator and some birds going about their business in a Florida swamp — THEN we hear sonic booms as the space shuttle flies overhead and it cuts to a dramatic touchdown, true to form.
  • Before the opening credits of Enter the Dragon even begins Bruce Lee fights and beats Sammo Hung in a nonlethal kung fu match at a Shaolin Temple in Hong Kong.
  • Each of the three films in The Expendables franchise opens with one, each more epic than the last:
    • The first film opens with a stand-off between the titular team and some Ruthless Modern Pirates holding a crew hostage.
    • The second film opens with the team storming a military controlled town in their customized Awesome Personnel Carrier to rescue client, before making a daring escape via zip-lining on some power lines while firing at enemies on the ground, followed by half of them hopping on some stashed jet-skis and getting into a chase on a river while Barney and Christmas bring grab their plane, before finally hopping on the plane and blasting through a bridge full of enemies and anti-aircraft guns, and having to try to get airborne before they crash into an oncoming dam.
    • The third film opens with them flying up in a helicopter to storm a heavily armed military-prison train and rescue an old comrade of Barney's, before it reaches prison. Said old comrade, instead of just going with his rescue party, high jacks the train and its main gun to destroy the the approaching prison before they go.
  • The Exterminators of the Year 3000 opens with Alien getting in a scuffle with some water hoarding Dirty Cops.
  • Fritz Lang loved these kind of openings, and made use of them in films like Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler , Spies, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, and M. The better ones weave exposition into the action itself.
  • Future Force: Tucker collecting a bounty, and using his power glove on some thugs who try to stop him.
  • Gamer gets into the action prologue so thoroughly and immediately that one might find it more perplexing than exciting.
  • Gladiator begins in the Marcomannic Wars with a battle between Roman legions and German barbarians. Given how the film plays out, and the fact that the Emperor berates Commodus for missing "the entire war", this may be the final battle near the Tisza river, where the Romans beat the Marcomanni into signing a peace treaty.
  • Pretty much universal in James Bond movies. Sometimes the initial action sequence has no relevance at all to the main plot, and sometimes they turn out, sometimes only towards the end of the film, to have been important to it. Subverted as early as the second film, From Russia with Love, in which the Action Prologue turns out to introduce The Dragon rather than Bond.
  • Hancock opens up with a gun battle on the L.A. Freeway, with the eponymous hero arriving to "save" the day.
  • The Tea Room shootout at the beginning of Hard Boiled.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince opens with Voldemort's Death Eaters kidnapping the wandmaker Ollivander and destroying the Millennium Bridge in London.
  • All of the Indiana Jones films.
  • The Polish movie Klub Włóczykijów starts with a scene of one of the main characters breaking into a museum to steal the McGuffin, and coming across the villain who is after the same thing. The scene ultimately has little bearing on the plot (it turns out that the McGuffin was not what they were after), so its main purpose is just to provide a cool opening and introduce the villain.
  • Kim Possible opens with Kim and Ron rescuing a Kidnapped Scientist from Professor Dementor and blowing up his lair to destroy the dissolving-slime weapon the scientist had created.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service starts with a group of two agents and two candidates storming a place, quickly killing all but one of the people stationed there.
  • The Film of the Book of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe starts in WWII London, where German fighter pilots are conducting an air raid.
    • Prince Caspian similarly starts with Caspian escaping Miraz's assassination attempt, followed by the book's original opening of the Pevensie siblings at the train station.
  • The Lord of the Rings
    • The Fellowship of the Ring starts with the Battle of the Last Alliance not only because it was establishing the backstory, but because Peter Jackson felt that the movie needed an epic battle scene with armies at both sides, not just the Fellowship vs. dozens of Orcs.
    • The Two Towers starts with Gandalf's fight with the Balrog, continuing from their encounter in The Fellowship of the Ring. This not only serves as a way to re-orient audiences back into Middle-earth, but also foreshadows the return of Gandalf.
  • The Losers (1970): The Viet Cong attacking the transport the Devil's Advocates are in. Oddly enough for the genre, our heroes don't actually help fend off the attack, due to them not having weapons yet.
  • Men in Black: Agent K sniffing out an alien fugitive amongst some immigrants.
  • Minority Report opens with a typical Precrime future murder about to happen and shows how the team figures out where it will take place. In this particular case, a man, having suspected his wife of infidelity, catches his wife with her lover and attempts to murder them both in a rage.
  • Nazi Overlord: Rogers fighting a single Nazi soldier, eventually strangling him with his bare hands because he ran out of bullets.
  • Pacific Rim opens with an introduction about the invading Kaiju and a battle between Gipsy Danger and Knifehead.
  • Predator 2 starts off with a 'Predator-eye' view of a pitched gun battle between the LAPD and a street gang. This battle is interrupted when the Predator kills and 'cleans' the surviving gangsters.
  • It's not strictly an "action-packed" movie, but Purple Rain gets off to quite a heady start. Director Albert Magnoli literally does not waste even one second plunging us into the story: the Warner Brothers studio logo has not even faded from the screen yet before the strains of a synthesizer played by "Doctor Fink" (a character in the movie) are heard in the distance and the voice of the (yet unseen) master of ceremonies at the First Avenue Nightclub is heard calling out: "Ladies and gentlemen... The Revolution!"
  • The Rainbow Magic movie opens with Rachel and Kirsty saving Heather the Violet Fairy, then defending the rest of the Rainbow Fairies from Jack Frost.
    • Natalie the Christmas Stocking Fairy's book opens with a goblin running amok in Rachel's kitchen and escaping to the Ice Castle.
  • All the Rocky sequels except the last one starts with the previous movie's climactic fight.
  • Saving Private Ryan. Good gods. The extended opening sequence makes two firm statements: "This is as close as we can get to D-Day and maintain our rating," and "Please remove your children."
  • The live-action Scooby-Doo (2002) movie begins with Mystery Inc. catching the Luna Ghost, who has nothing to do with the rest of the movie, but it does catalyze the gang's breakup.
  • The Seventh Curse: Dr. Yuen planting a bomb for the police in a Hostage Situation, and having to fight his way out when that goes wrong.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) opens up with Dr. Robotnik in the middle of a mad pursuit of the Blue Blur himself, launching explosive after explosive in several attempts to hit him. Then the scene freezes mid-sequence, and a narrating Sonic proceeds to rewind all the way back to his childhood to show how things got to this point.
  • The elevator hostage situation in Speed.
  • The Star Trek films tend to do this. It was especially notable in the first one, where the prologue turns out to be the most action-oriented part of the whole movie.
  • Several of the Star Wars movies start off in a fight of some sort:
  • Stone Cold: Huff thwarting a store robbery.
  • Streets of Fire starts off with a rock concert and the lead singer being kidnapped onstage. From there, there's very little pause in the action.
  • Talk of the Town starts out with a mill burning down, then a Spinning Newspaper segue to Cary Grant escaping from prison. The rest of it is more of a Screwball Comedy.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except: Stryker and his platoon raiding a Vietnamese camp. Unlike many Action Prologues, it ends very poorly, with most of the platoon dead and Stryker being badly injured.
  • Traxx: Traxx dealing with a Hostage Situation involving a monkey.
  • 2020 Texas Gladiators: The Rangers stopping a gang rape.
  • Werewolves of the Third Reich: Mad Dog and Billy the Butcher getting into a shootout with some Nazis in a bar.
  • We're No Angels: Within the first six or seven minutes, Bobby shoots his way out of the prison while dragging Ned and Jimmy along for the ride. The rest of the movie is noticeably less action-packed.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X2: X-Men United has brainwashed! Nightcrawler's attack on the White House.
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The pre-credits prologue is a flashback of the main character's childhood, while the credits sequence is a montage of Wolverine and Sabretooth taking part in battles through the ages.

  • Dragon Blood starts with Tisala on a torture bench, maybe about to spill some secrets. She kills the torturer, steals his coat and escapes. Later on, she's found by the main character Ward, in ill-fitting clothes, and after taking out some bandits.
  • This is how Simon R. Green introduces the characters to new readers in most of his books in fact, especially the Nightside series. And sometimes the opening scene contains a Chekhov's Gun or foreshadows a future book's plot. His Forest Kingdom series — specifically, all of the books in the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series and main series book 4, Beyond the Blue Moon — start with an action usually unrelated to the story most of the book is dealing with.
    • Book 1 has Hawk and Fisher dealing with a vampire in the first chapter, before moving on to the case that will last the rest of the book.
    • Book 2 (Winner Takes All) has them breaking up a riot by rival political groups.
    • Book 3 (The God Killer) has them dealing with a renegade homunculus that's been killing people.
    • Book 4 (Wolf in the Fold) has them hunting a spy, codenamed Fenris.
    • Book 5 (Guard Against Dishonor) has them leading a whole army of guards against a drug kingpin's warehouse.
    • Book 6 (The Bones of Haven) has them working with a Special Wizards and Tactics squad to quell a prison riot, including a special wing where inhuman monsters are kept prisoner.
    • Beyond the Blue Moon starts with Hawk and Fisher dealing with a haunted house, and then a strike by dockworkers that turns ugly when the scab zombie force that's replaced them suddenly turns into a violent army.
  • The Grey Griffins book series does this at least in the first two books (I haven't read the third yet). The very first chapter is of something scary happening and threatening the lead hero, Max, and his brush with death. It is then, in both cases, revealed to be a dream in the immediately following chapter.
  • Starship Troopers — an influential work of science-fiction considered responsible for popularizing Death from Above, Powered Armor, Space Marine, and many other tropes the Halo games and novels are entirely built on — starts with a textbook Action Prologue, taken from about the middle of the story. Later in the book the protagonist mentions that the very enemies they were fighting in said prologue have switched to being co-belligerents in the war against the Bugs; the opening engagement may have contributed to this Heel–Face Turn.
  • Snow Crash starts out with a wild racing scene in which Hiro tries to deliver a pizza under threat of death. Hiro isn't even called by name until the end of the scene, when he introduces himself to YT.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Devil in Iron, a fisherman goes into a ruin, takes up a knife, and dies.
    • In Black Colossus, a thief breaks into a tomb, fights a great snake, and screams with horror with what he sees.
  • The start of A Song of Ice and Fire, egregiously. The enemy in the prologue doesn't show up until three books later, and then only in another Action Prologue.
  • Book one of The Wheel of Time series starts like this, introducing Lews Therin Telamon after he's murdered his family and just before his death.
  • Halo: Contact Harvest: The book opens with one of Johnson's operations against the Insurrection.
  • The Tom Clancy novel Rainbow Six begins with an attempted plane hijacking by a group of terrorists. A few key members of Team Rainbow just happen to be on board, and use their extreme ingenuity to foil the attempt.
  • First book of Warrior Cats starts with a fight between RiverClan and ThunderClan.
  • Dead Six begins with Valentine in the middle of a job in Mexico. Lorenzo's story begins in the middle of a heist. Lampshaded as the first chapter is Prologue is called Cold Open.
  • Spinneret starts this way, with humans launching their first interstellar craft, encountering aliens (several times), being shot at by aliens, having first contact with aliens, who then broker a deal for the humans to lease an unused planet... all before the first chapter begins.
  • Warbreaker starts with Vasher getting out of jail. Then the focus of the next chapters shifts into another kingdom.
  • The Mysterious Island begins with a dramatic chapter as the characters' balloon gets caught in a horrific storm and they barely survive. Their names aren't even revealed until the next chapter.
  • The Machineries of Empire opens with Cheris leading her troops into a ground battle against the heretics, demonstrating how the “calendrical” technology that underpins the whole series works.
  • Laszlo Hadron And The Wargods Tomb starts with the eponymous Space Pirate sneaking his way into the Durendal's systems... and fighting his way out again after he gets found out.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A few cold openings of Doctor Who.
    • "The Empty Child" begins with the TARDIS chasing after a Chula warship through a time track.
    • "The Girl in the Fireplace" starts with offscreen screaming and Madame de Pompadour calling for the Doctor's name through a fireplace.
    • "Love & Monsters" invokes this, the narrator character pointing out the encounter with the Doctor, a Hoix and some buckets isn't the beginning, just a good hook for the audience.
    • "Gridlock" begins with a couple's flying car on a motorway being attacked by an unseen menace.
    • "Human Nature" starts with the Doctor and Martha being attacked by some lasers offscreen, with the Doctor mentioning something about a watch... before it turns out to be a dream.
    • "Silence in the Library" has a little girl apparently experiencing an Action Prologue through her dreams, as the Doctor and Donna board themselves up in some kind of library room.
    • "Planet of the Dead" starts with Lady Christina stealing a precious cup from a museum and escaping.
    • The animated serial "Dreamland" begins with an alien ship being pursued and attacked, crashing into the New Mexico Desert in 1947.
    • "The Eleventh Hour" starts with the TARDIS on fire and crashing while the brand-new Eleventh Doctor is hanging out the doors, clinging on by his fingernails.
    • "The Time of Angels" starts with River Song being chased through the spaceship Byzantium.
    • "The Pandorica Opens" revolves around River escaping prison, locating the painting of the same name and warning the Doctor and Amy about it.
    • "A Christmas Carol" begins with a crashing spaceship with Amy and Rory on board.
    • "The Impossible Astronaut" features the Doctor running through various adventures in history in succession, while Amy and Rory read from a history book about them in 2011.
    • "Day of the Moon" has Amy and Rory running as apparent fugitives, River falling off a building and the Doctor imprisoned in Area 51 three months after the events of "The Impossible Astronaut". Agent Canton Delaware apparently executes Amy and Rory, though it turns out to be faked.
    • "A Good Man Goes to War" begins with a man who's centuries old and the father of Amy's child taking on the Cybermen and handing them a "message" as to the location of his wife.
  • The Flash (2014): "Killer Frost" begins with an action scene resolving the previous episode's Cliffhanger - Joe defeating Dr. Alchemy's acolytes while Alchemy himself escapes, the Flash's first "battle" with new Big Bad Savitar, and finally Cisco and Caitlin's Big Damn Heroes moment saving Barry from Savitar.
  • The first episode of Game of Thrones cold opens with a suspenseful scene that features rangers of the Night's Watch getting ambushed by White Walkers.
  • Human Target almost always starts this way, with Christopher doing something awesome (often involving explosions).
  • Lost in Space (2018): The first episode opens with the Robinson family crashing on an unknown planet after their Jupiter landing craft is struck by space debris, then having to deal with the immediate necessities of survival. We're introduced to the setting and characters through flashbacks.
  • MacGyver: Most of the time, as can be expected from a show like this. Self-parodied in "Children Of Light", which opens with the implication that Mac is defusing a bomb that's set to go off in a minute with Pete present... but it turns out he's just fixing Pete's alarm clock radio with the alarm set to go off in a minute, which is why he's rushing Mac.
  • My Country: The New Age: In the prologue Hwi's soldiers join forces with Bang-won's to attack Nam Jeon.
  • The pilot episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager each start with an Opening Scroll leading into a Space Battle.
  • The pilot of Star Trek: Enterprise starts with a Klingon being chased by two Suliban after crash-landing in Oklahoma.
  • The first episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles opens with Sarah frantically driving to John's school and finding him in the library. They exit... to find an entire police squad waiting for them. They are arrested, and then a Terminator arrives on the scene and proceeds to kill everyone in sight, including John. Then, as a distraught Sarah watches, the nuclear holocaust begins, burning everything around her and revealing the Terminator's terrifying endoskeleton... and she wakes up. This all happens before the title even shows up onscreen.
  • Subverted in the first episode of Young Blades, which opens in the middle of an intense swordfight, then quickly derails into an argument about who gets to play d'Artagnan, revealing that this is merely a game between siblings. (Then the real action begins.)

  • The Lion in Winter opens with King Henry sparring with his son Prince John, which establishes Henry as an aging conqueror and John as his favorite son.
  • Othello, it its operatic adaptation by Giuseppe Verdi and Arrigo Boïto, opens on the Thunderous Confrontation of a battle at sea, in which the title character ultimately proves victorious. The battle takes place offstage, but that doesn't prevent the orchestra and chorus from working themselves into a highly agitated state, or a full panoply of stage effects (some of them rhythmically notated in the score) from being deployed.

    Video Games 
  • Many entries in the Assassin's Creed series open like this, with the character having access to weapons, skills and life meter that are lost at the end of the level and then laboriously reclaimed over the course of the game.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which could rightfully be called a massive Affectionate Parody to 60s and 70s spy movies, pulls an exceptionally well executed one, though it takes up to an hour. You overpower the guards, get the captured scientist, and make it back to the extraction point where Snake gets betrayed, thrown of a bridge, and as he pulls himself out of a river, the enemies detonate a nuke some miles in the distance. And as the explosion fades, you get the extremely bond-like actual opening.
  • Silent Hill 3 starts with Heather in a spooky amusement park, armed with very little in the way of weapons, and wondering where she is. If you either die or reach the end (which results in her dying in a cutscene), she wakes up and realizes it's just a dream. Much later in the game, you go to that very same amusement park for real.
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West starts with Monkey, the main character, imprisoned on a slave ship, then breaking out and fighting his way through the Mecha-Mooks to escape.
  • Some of the James Bond games. Everything or Nothing actually started you right in the first level, without giving you a menu or anything like it before.
  • Perfect Dark starts with Joanna's very first mission as Carrington Institute agent. Also its prequel started with a mission, but it's revealed it was a Fake Action Prologue being just a simulation.
  • The God of War series typically starts out by, as Yahtzee put it, "throwing you into the middle of a pitched battle just in case you thought you might be playing something with a modicum of restraint."
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The very first Final Fantasy begins with the Heroes of Light tasked with rescuing the Princess of Cornelia from the dreaded Garland. The title screen for the game doesn't appear until after Garland has been laid low.
    • Final Fantasy II begins with a Hopeless Boss Fight.
    • Final Fantasy VI may start with an Opening Scroll and cutscene, but immediately throws you into battle without really knowing who you are fighting against, who you are fighting for, or who you are supposed to be. Which does a pretty fine job of setting up the initial situation of the game's main character before she gets freed.
    • Final Fantasy VII starts you off in the middle of a raid to blow up one of the evil corporation's Mako reactors.
    • Final Fantasy X begins with the destruction of Zanarkand.
    • Final Fantasy XII begins with you, Reks, on a mission to save the king from assassins. Then you die, and take control of his little brother Vaan two years later.
    • Final Fantasy XIII begins with the main characters escaping from the Purge and fighting the Sanctum's soldiers.
      • Final Fantasy XIII-2 may well top them all: it begins with Lightning engaged in battle with the Big Bad. After the epic opening movie, you're thrust into a battle with Chaos Bahamut. As Lighning riding Odin. This is the tutorial!!
      • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII continues the trend by starting off with Lightning crashing a party at the Patriarch's Palace in Yusnaan and then chasing Snow through the building.
    • Final Fantasy XV kicks off with an older looking Noctis in royal garb alongside his comrades engaging an imposing fiery giant sitting on a throne in a How We Got Here situation. The next scene is a younger looking Noctis and his friends pushing their car to the nearest gas station.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics begins with the kidnapping of Princess Ovelia, which kicks off most of the plot proper. At this point, only Ramza is under your direct control, sporting the most basic job class and abilities, but it gives you a preview of several more powerful attacks and classes that you won't actually gain control of yourself until much later.
  • Forever Home: The prologue starts the player with a high-leveled party that is almost immediately thrown into several battles with soldiers-turned-bandits, ending with the main character in despair over the post-apocalyptic world. Afterwards, the game jumps back to the present and properly introduces the characters and setting.
  • The prologue of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night starts at ending of the previous game, Rondo of Blood: the player isn't even controlling Alucard at that point, but Richter Belmont.
  • Breath of Fire III opens with the hero escaping from a mine in dragon form. The dragon's stats are such that you cannot lose the battles in this sequence.
  • An example of Action Prologue involving the main villain and not the hero: Sarevok beating the crap out of an anonymous warrior and then throwing him from the top of a tower in Baldur's Gate.
  • The game [PROTOTYPE] begins with New York in ruin and chaos as well as giving your character full ablities, then after the title appears, flashes back to "18 days ago".
    • Almost the same thing happens in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows.
  • Bayonetta begins with our antiheroine and Jeanne in their flashback garb fighting angels on the face of a falling clock. It might be a clever symbol for a compressed backstory narration, but it's hard to tell when the actual game is so trippy. Despite the game's reputation for putting some of the most spectacular fights in cutscenes, it's fully playable, with no control guidance for first-time players, but also no way to lose. Then, there's a whole prologue chapter, filled with control tutorials and some minor exposition. Then there's an expository cutscene and an Indy-style travel montage. Then the opening tiles play as 'netta struts off the train in Vigrid.
  • Chrono Cross begins with an action/tutorial dream sequence which mimics/foreshadows an extended gameplay sequence from a (much) later dungeon.
  • Devil May Cry 5 opens with the heroes Nero, Dante, and V fighting against Urizen and subsequently getting their asses kicked, with Dante's fate hanging in the balance. The game picks up about a month later with an opening credits sequence where Nero and his new partner, Nico, plow their way through a hoard of demons.
  • Most of the Uncharted games open with a very brief, enigmatic cutscene and then some kind of balls-out action sequence.
    • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune opens with Nate and Elena unearthing Sir Francis' journal in the middle of the ocean, when suddenly, pirates attack and the player has to defend the boat.
    • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception opens with a bar brawl in an English pub populated by Mooks, after a deal goes bad. It's a great excuse to teach the player the new unarmed combat system.
    • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End begins with Nate and his brother Sam running away from mooks in a boat during a heavy storm. Nate then have to defend their exposed position when the boat broke down.
  • Guild Wars Nightfall throws the character into a corsair battle for its first quests and mission, before the "training" sequences more common in other MMO's (and other Guild Wars chapters)
  • Parodied in the Team Fortress 2 comic "A Fate Worse than Chess" with Explosition.
  • Pitfall: The Lost Expedition begins with Pitfall Harry fighting for his life against a demonic fiery jaguar while supercharged with powerful magic. After he exchanges a few blows with the beast, it pins him to the ground, and Harry has a flashback to how he got into this mess in the first place which makes up most of the rest of the game.
  • Tomb Raider: Underworld begins with Lara escaping her burning mansion, then skips ahead four days.
  • Vindictus begins with a siege on a bell tower against a giant spider. The Oracle, Tieve, wants to talk to the spider and find out why it's so frightened, so a group of soldiers, including you, are assigned to escort her to the top. Everyone is promptly ambushed by Gnolls after the leader of the soldiers finds a Fomorian Emblem, and everyone except you and Tieve are wounded or killed. The game then gives you control of your character and walks you through the combat system as you kill your way through the Gnolls and escort Tieve to the top of the tower, where you have to fight the spider as ballista spears rain down on the roof.
  • The latter three Saints Row games each have one of these.
    • Saints Row 2 has the Boss escaping from jail, having spent the past five years — from the boat explosion at the end of the first game to the present — in a coma.
    • Saints Row: The Third has the Boss, Shaundi, Johnny Gat and Josh Birk performing a botched bank robbery. The bank's opulence compared to other buildings of its type marks it as one owned by the Syndicate, the game's antagonist faction. Surprisingly, Josh — the only one who hadn't robbed a bank before at this point — was the only one concerned by the bank's aesthetic enough to be suspicious.
    • Saints Row IV has the Boss in a military operation to kill Cyrus Temple, the now-disgraced former leader of the STAG military group from the previous game. By doing this and making use of their relative "hero" status, the Boss uses it as a stepping stone to obtain the Presidency, setting the scene for the rest of the game.
  • Shadow Complex begins with a man in a city with about half of the full set of equipment for a shootout with some troops and a helicopter. He is then killed, and the action switches to the actual player character, where the real Metroidvania part begins.
  • Done extremely well on the The Lord of the Rings video games, as the prologues are there not just to state how the fight elements are there, but also to tell most of the backstory and certain background elements.
  • The prologue of The Reconstruction thrusts you into a dangerous, action-packed mission of boarding and fighting your way through an enemy ship. This is done with only a cursory introduction to the characters, and it's not really clear what's going on until the end of the prologue.
  • The DS and PS1 versions of Dragon Quest IV add a prologue chapter in which you play as the hero for a short while as you look around for Eliza.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening opens with a premonition to Chrom and the Player Character fighting against Validar.
  • Fire Emblem Fates opens with a dream in which the Player Character, alongside their Hoshidan siblings, drive off Nohrian invaders. They wake up just as rivalling elder brothers Ryoma and Xander demand that they join their side...
  • Fire Emblem Heroes immediately kicks off with you (yes, you) getting teleported into the World of Heroes and being ordered by Anna to assist her in battle.
  • Dark Souls introduction cutscene has this, featuring Gwyn, Nito and the Witch of Izalith taking on the dragons.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles begins in the middle of the war against the Mechon, where you play as Dunban in the battle that would make him a legend among the peoples of Bionis.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X opens with an interstellar war over Earth that ravages the planet and forces humanity to evacuate in massive ships, one of which is chased by the hostile aliens and forced to crash-land on the planet of Mira.
  • Ace Attorney has a prologue in every case, usually showing the actual murder from a perspective which leaves the player enough in the dark to not get spoilered.
    • In 1-1, we see Frank Sawhit murder Cindy Stone. Bonus points in that in the first few seconds of the franchise, we see a woman on the floor with a massive amount of blood seeping out of her head on screen, and we never see more blood at any point in the series until Dual Destinies.
    • In 1-2, We see Redd White committing the murder. Two cases in a row and we see the true killer's face.
    • In 1-4, we see the fake murder of Robert Hammond.
    • In 1-5, we see two people stabbing a knife into a body.
    • 2-1 shows Phoenix being knocked unconscious with a fire extinguisher.
    • In 2-2, there's a car accident, a fire, and Maya in the detention center again, telling Phoenix she killed somebody. It also spoils the entire case.
    • In 3-2 gives us Mask*DeMasque stealing something.
    • In 3-3 we see somebody with Phoenix's silhouette poisoning somebody's coffee.
    • In 3-5, we see some awesome animated lightning and the corpse, even though the player meets the victim later and it's obviously the corpse in the prologue.
    • In 5-1, we see a trial disrupted by a bomb going off.
    • In 5-4, we see a rocket launch aborted by an explosion.
    • In 6-3, we see the aftermath of a prison escape, followed by some shady characters getting apprehended by a masked vigilante.
    • In 6-DLC, we see Dumas Gloomsbury attempt to kill Ellen Wyatt, before she is made to believe she travels back in time.
    • In AAI1-1, we see the murder and victim have a conversation and Edgeworth is held at gunpoint soon after.
    • In AAI1-2, Edgeworth has the pleasure of discovering the body and promptly getting accused of the murder.
    • In AAI1-3, we see the continuation of the ending of the last case. Edgeworth is playing ransom delivery boy and manages to get kidnapped.
    • In AAI1-4, we get Courtroom Antics were the witnesses accuses the prosecutor of being the real murderer.
    • In AAI1-5, we get to see the embassy burn and various spottings of the Yatagarasu.
    • In AAI2-1, we get a press-conference being derailed by an assassination attempt.
  • In The Walking Dead, Lee spends about three to four minutes in the back of a police cruiser before a collision with a walker sets him free and lands him in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Far Cry
    • Far Cry 3 seems to start in the traditional "introduction of the characters" sense, but within two minutes, you discover that you've been captured by pirates that are not at all friendly, you and your older brother break out, sneak around the base looking for an exit, and then your brother gets shot and you're running for your life through a dark jungle, chased by guys with guns, dogs, a bear and a helicopter. Only once this sequence ends does the game take on a less edge-of-your-seat-action stance.
    • Original Far Cry's first level, despite being a tutorial, is surprisingly action-packed and difficult.
    • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has an on-rails helicopter mission before the title screen and Forced Tutorial.
    • Far Cry Primal opens with you hunting woolly mammoths with your caveman buddies, then one of the local sabre-tooths attacks you, and your brother/hunting mentor tackles you both off a cliff to save your life. And after burying him, you have to make weapons and start hunting stuff before finding your way to the Oros Valley.
  • Dark Chronicle opens with Monica Raybrandt fighting off Emperor Gryphon's soldiers in her home, and charges ahead to see her father having just been assassinated and said assassin leaving. We then transition to Max, about to go to the circus.
  • Soldier of Fortune II's prologue mission throws you almost straight into the fray, with Mullins rescuing Dr. Ivanovich from a heavily-guarded hotel in Prague, then escaping with him across the countryside to a train station.
    • The first game also had an action prologue with a hostage situation in a New York subway, giving a sneak peak of one of the main villains at the end.
  • Hades throws you straight into Zagreus' first escape attempt without any real context. Only after you inevitably die and return to the House of Hades does the game properly introduce the main characters and basic premise.
  • RWBY: Grimm Eclipse lets you fight through a couple of waves of Grimm just to get the hang of things before Professor Port explains what you're doing out there in the first place.
  • Modern Warfare:
    • The first game's prologue, "Crew Expendable", is a fast close-quarters battle, in contrast to "Blackout", the first plot mission, which is relatively quiet.
    • Modern Warfare 2 has "Team Player", a fast-paced assault on an Afghan town held hostage by the Taliban (*ahem*...the "OpFor"). It has nothing to do with the main plot, but it shows Private Allen's regular grind as an Army Ranger before he's recruited into the CIA for his special mission in Russia.
  • Red Faction II starts with Alias, when he was one of Sopot's Elite Guards, infiltrating a military complex to steal the Nanocell.
  • Parasite Eve begins when Aya's date at Carnegie Hall gets rudely interrupted when Eve awakens and begins the mitochondrial uprising by burning alive nearly everyone present. Parasite Eve 2 starts with Aya responding to an outbreak of Neo-Mitochondrial Creatures at the Akropolis Tower in downtown Los Angeles.
  • Grand Theft Auto V begins with Michael and Trevor robbing an armored car depot in North Yankton 9 years prior to the story proper.
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis begins with Indy sifting through the university's large collection of artifacts. The task is not as benign as it seems. Indy gets hurt. A lot. The game uses the (several) moments when he's out cold to display credits.
  • Lufia & The Fortress of Doom starts the player off as Maxim, the main character's ancestor, arriving at Doom Island for their final battle with the Sinistrals.
  • Sands of Destruction opens with you controlling Naja as he and Rajiv fight off Morte in Viteaux. It then cuts to Kyrie going about his normal business in Barni, picking up vegetables and hunting for sandcaps to cook (which naturally turns into fighting a sandwhale).
  • Spec Ops: The Line opens with a helicopter gunner section before the scene turns into a short flashback, and beginning of the story proper. Later when the game turns surreal as a result of Walker's Sanity Slippage, you play this helicopter gunner section, and Walker mentions how he feels like he's done this before.
  • The first mission of Medal of Honor: Frontline takes place at Omaha Beach on D-Day, before the events of the original game; the rest of the missions take place between the first game's third and fourth missions.
  • Rainbow Six series
    • Rainbow Six: Vegas 1, before focusing on the eponymous city, has a prologue in a Mexican border town, in which the team's mission goes FUBAR and Logan Keller's squadmates are captured.
    • Rainbow Six: Vegas 2's first act, which serves as a tutorial, is set on a hostage rescue mission in the Pyrenees five years before the events of the main story in Vegas.
  • Sunset Overdrive begins 17 days before the main story with a linear tutorial level with the player performing Le Parkour on the rooftops to escape to their apartment as the Zombie Apocalypse begins.
  • This has become a staple of 2D Mega Man games post-8 bit era, opening almost immediately to an action-packed into stage instead of going straight to the stage select as with the 8-bit games. As often as not, you'll have no idea what the hell is even going on plot-wise until it's finished.
  • River City Ransom: Underground's prologue acts as a flashback to the original River City Ransom. Taking place in the original game's final area, River City High, the player is put in the shoes of young Ryan or Alex and then goes through a Boss Rush of all of the original game's bosses, after which there is a Time Skip of 25 years and the game's plot begins properly.
  • Persona 5 jumps into the action with the Protagonist trying to escape from a casino, showing off the Le Parkour, a bit of the stealth mechanic, and a short fight. Then the Protagonist gets captured and arrested, and the majority of the game is spent explaining to the interrogating prosecutor How We Got Here, jumping back seven months to when the Protagonist first came to Tokyo.
  • The Remastered remake of DuckTales adds a prologue stage where Scrooge defends his bank from a heist by the Beagle Boys.
  • The prologue to Battlefield 1 almost instantly throws you into the control of various soldiers in the middle of a brutal German attack who each get gunned down, burned alive and blown up before your controls finally switch to the narrating Harlem Hellfighter, who survives the battle and narrates the other War Stories from here on out.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic Adventure, the first accessable story campaign, Sonic's, opens with our hero going toe-to-toe with Chaos in the streets of Station Square.
    • Both campaigns in Sonic Adventure 2 pulls this: the Hero story opens with Sonic breaking out of captivity and escaping through the city, while the Dark story opens with Dr. Eggman blasting his way into a military base.
    • Sonic Unleashed starts off with Sonic infiltrating Eggman's flying fortress in space, wrecking havok on his robots and ships in the process with Chaos Emeralds in hand. However, this was all a trap to lure Sonic in and use the emeralds to open up the earth to awaken Dark Gaia, inadvertently turning Sonic into the Werehog in the process and being discarded back onto Earth.
  • Metroid Prime has an action prologue aboard the Space Pirate Ghost Ship Orpheon, which incorporates a tutorial and gives the player A Taste of Power.
  • The beginning of Shelter 2 has the player guide Inna the lynx through the winter forest, as she is chased by wolves, to safety. Doing this, the player also learns the game's running and jumping controls.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel starts off with the characters trying to force a group of terrorists out of the Garrelia Fortress before it goes back a few months before the prologue events. Ditto with Cold Steel III where the players control a group of students who are trying to blow up a robot at the top of the sky before it goes back a few months before said events. The characters are at a high level so players can get familiarized with the controls a bit.
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier's prologue shows the player the ropes with a Ghost mission in Nicaragua, which quickly goes balls-up, resulting in the death of the whole squad, including the Decoy Protagonist you initially play as.
  • Ride to Hell: Retribution opens with a montage of scenes from later in the game, two of which — a turret section and a fist fight — are playable.
  • Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction opens with the bad guy showing up from out of nowhere and laying siege on Metropolis as Ratchet and Clank try desperately to escape as buildings collapse around them.
  • Sakura Wars:
    • Sakura Wars (1996) starts off with the famous scene of Sakura Shinguji entering Tokyo and slicing a Wakiji in half with her sword, Arataka.
    • Sakura Wars 4: Fall in Love, Maidens begins with the Flower Division fighting the demons in Tokyo.
    • The Distant Prologue of Sakura Wars (2019) depicts Sakura Shinguji rescuing a seven-year-old Sakura Amamiya from a demon attack. In the game proper, Seijuro Kamiyama arrives in Central Station via airship and encounters a demon attacking it. Kamiyama gets curb-stomped just before Xiaolong Yang arrives and kills it.
  • Retro City Rampage starts with the Player, as an employee of The Jester, participating in a botched bank heist in 1985, before a time machine resembling the TARDIS drops in and whisks him away to 20XX.
  • Yes, Your Grace: The very beginning of each playthough takes place during a version of the final siege in which the castle hasn't been upgraded with extra defenses and weapons, in which one of the decisions is whether to kill or spare a deserter. This gives the player a glimpse of the kind of decisions they will need to be able to make by the end of the game. By comparison, early game decisions (outside of those forced by the early part of the plot) are easier and matter much less to the bigger picture individually.
  • The Wonderful 101 opens with a train-length school bus being attacked by aliens. The whole Prologue is spent on the high speed bus preventing it from flying off the bridge it is on and crashing in to an elementary school, all while the triumphant theme of the title hero team blares in the background. The first full level is calm relative to that, starting with the Wonderful Ones going through the suburbs, but Serial Escalation kicks in and the settings become more dramatic, surpassing the Prologue not too far in to the game.
  • Phantasmat 13: Remains of Buried Memories opens with the main character trying to escape a shadowy entity. The game menu doesn't appear until after this is accomplished.
  • Resident Evil 2: The first leg of the game is best described as a mad panic. You're in danger the second you begin playing, as a zombie is standing mere feet away from you, and if you don't start moving immediately, you'll likely get chomped. It doesn't slow down from there; everywhere you go pits you against an overwhelming number of zombies, and all you can do is shoot, run, and stab as best you can to get past them all. It's not until you get into the police station where things slow down and become more methodical.
  • Resident Evil Containment: While the prologue section starts off as a quiet jaunt through a seemingly abandoned lab, you're swarmed by zombies after restoring power to the facility. Fortunately, you have a sub-machine gun with infinite ammo at your side, so you're allowed to go hog wild against the undead. Unfortunately, come Chapter 1, your ammo is rendered limited and you're forced to be more careful and methodical with your resources.

  • Aquapunk starts off in the middle of a small, routine, military operation that goes painfully awry. Not only do unusual numbers of enemy casualties result, but the main character, Coron, winds up realizing that something's up and starts getting ideas that shape the decide the rest of the plot.
  • Charby the Vampirate's prologue is set in the 1600's wherein Charby escapes from a pirate ship, has his throat torn out by a sadistic vampire, returns as a vampire himself, kills a giant bear and returns to the pirate ship to slaughter his lifelong tormentors. The story then jumps forward over 300 years to 1994 to start the actual tale of the comic.
  • The Curse Of Gaea starts like this, where A and Shikamaru are being chased by monsters.
  • Furry Fight Chronicles has its first chapter devoted to showing what a furry fight is by showing Fenny and Roora, two Combagals, engage in a match. At the end of the chapter, Muko, the protagonist of the comic, is inspired to become a Combagal after Fenny pulls a comeback victory.
  • Pibgorn's arcs start this way, but they're so confusing they're pretty much Mind Screw prologues. For example, the latest arc began with a long-haired Pibgorn messing around with dewdrops in a meadow, with the panels interrupted by a giant rack-focused number 8 on a plain white background out of nowhere. It then switched to short-haired Pibgorn and Drucilla talking on a glacier (long-haired Pib is a flashback). Pib suddenly fainted then attacked Drucilla who fought back, and then the giant 8 explodes in a shower of Photoshop brushes.
  • Remus begins with a Right-Wing Militia Fanatic flying a plane into the White House, continues by showing the United States descending into a second Civil War, and then caps off the prologue with a glimpse of said war through someone's eyes. It then jumps 17 years forward, where the plot begins.
  • In Rusty and Co., level 4 and level 6 both begin with action — luring the cave monsters, and fighting bullywogs respectively. The first doesn't reappear until the end of the level. The second is a clue, but the bullywogs don't reappear.
  • The Sluggy Freelance story arc "Phoenix Rising" (well, the Oasis half of it, anyway) begins right away with Oasis fighting a group of convenience store robbers. Things then quiet down for a while, giving us time to know the characters, before the action starts up again when Nash Straw kills Lupae.
  • The Story of Anima starts with a few pages introducing characters, then the Bloody Flames attack and the action doesn't stop for a long time.
  • The Strongest Suit starts with the murder of Seven of Hearts at the hands of Five of Hearts (the motive of which becomes a central mystery throughout the comic).

    Web Original 
  • JourneyQuest opens with a Bard sneaking into an Orc camp, then doubles back to a more normal introduction when she asks, "what really happened?".
  • Ayla and the Birthday Brawl of the Whateley Universe starts with the Vindicators fighting their way through a base to confront a supervillain. When they lose, it's revealed to be a holographic simulation that is part of their Team Tactics course.
  • The pilot of Demo Reel starts off with a terrible parody of The Sixth Sense, but then morphs into Donnie and his friends dealing with the awful reaction to it and wanting to do something even bigger.
  • Bay 12 RWBY Roleplay starts with the transport the future students are on being hit with a missile as their initiation. In that manner, it takes after its inspiration.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Bond Opening Sequence, Bond Cold Open, Opening Action Sequence


From Russia with Love

From Russia with Love contains one of the earliest live-action examples. The Action Prologue has Bond being killed by the assassin Red Grant, only to reveal it's a SPECTRE mook wearing his face in a Deadly Graduation.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / ActionPrologue

Media sources: