That one movie you really enjoyed has suddenly had a sequel announced, but you're confused. The hero died in a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the film... so why is he in the trailer for the sequel, kicking ass just like before? It's not a Retcon or an Ass Pull... it was All There in the Stinger.
This trope is when The Stinger provides some piece of information which is important to understanding the plot, either of the work itself or of its sequel. In the above example, the hero is revealed to be Not Quite Dead. Maybe the Big Bad's Not Quite Dead either, and ready to try again next time. Or maybe the story doesn't actually make sense unless you watch The Stinger. The point is, if you don't watch it, you're not just missing out on one last gag: you're missing out on a crucial piece of the plot.
This is most often seen in TV shows, since their credits sequences are much shorter and audiences are more willing to sit through them. Often, just to be on the safe side, the Continuity Announcer will tell the audience to keep watching through the credits to make sure they don't miss it. Sometimes, you can tell there's a stinger coming because the credits start rolling earlier than usual, or roll while the action's still going. TV broadcasts of movies will typically speed the credits up a bit to get to the stinger faster.
When considering if something is an example of this trope, ask yourself this: if you were to discuss the work with someone who hadn't seen the stinger, would they be able to understand what you were talking about? If you skip one installment's stinger, would the next installment still make sense? If not, then it's this trope. Basically, it has to be something important that you can only learn if you watch the stinger.
Naturally, this is a Sub-Trope of The Stinger. It can overlap with Twist Ending, or even The Ending Changes Everything if the stinger is revelatory enough. Can result in Late-Arrival Spoiler if the events of The Stinger are crucial to the sequel, in which case it would also overlap with Sequel Hook (though a Sequel Hook itself is not necessarily this trope, and vice versa).
Compare All There in the Manual, where important plot details are hidden away in supplementary material, and All There in the Script, where details like character names are in the script but not the final movie. Contrast Brick Joke, where the stinger is used to deliver the punchline to an earlier gag.
Since this is an Ending Trope, beware of unmarked spoilers.
- Episode 13 of the Ace Attorney anime has a stinger in which Miles Edgeworth leaves his office, with a note on his desk reading "Miles Edgeworth chooses death". This sets up his disappearance in the second part of the anime, and without it, Phoenix declaring that Edgeworth is dead in Episode 14 comes out of absolutely nowhere.
- After the credits of Season 1 Episode 3, Slaine confronts Trillram about the False Flag Operation to kill Princess Asseylum. When Trillram confesses, Slaine angrily shoots him dead. It's shown again in Episode 4 via a brief flashback, but if you missed Episode 3's stinger then it comes completely out of nowhere.
- There's another one in Season 2, in which Lemrina decides to pull the plug on the comatose Asseylum. She backs out at the last second, but after she leaves, Asseylum starts to wake up.
- Subverted in the anime adaptation of Black Bullet. One episode ends with a Wham Shot Stinger that reveals Enju's corruption level is much higher than it should be. However, this ended up being an Aborted Arc and was never brought up again, so skipping it doesn't have any effect on the plot.
- Played straight in the light novels, which remind the reader of how many days Enju has left to live at the end of every story arc.
- Dimension W's Yasogami Lake arc ends with one plot thread still dangling: namely, who put the Dimension W-infused lake water in Shijuro's water dispenser in the first place, leading to his death. Mira even lampshades it, to which Kyoma responds that that's the police's concern, not theirs. The Stinger reveals that it was the maid, as revenge for one of her relatives having drowned in the incident there twenty years ago.
- Fullmetal Alchemist has a few, the most notable being Greeling attacking King Bradley/Wrath in his home. This sets up the start of the following episode, which if you missed The Stinger, comes completely out of nowhere.
- Every episode of Mekaku City Actors has a post-credits scene animated in the style of a pop-up storybook. While their connection to the main story is initially unclear, they eventually spell out Marry's backstory and reveal the origins of the Heat Haze, the mysterious realm from which the protagonists received their powers.
- The anime adaptation of One-Punch Man does this quite frequently. One notable example is in Episode 5, when the stinger shows Genos asking to move in with Saitama and giving him rent money in order to convince him. Anyone who misses this stinger, and hasn't read the webcomic or manga, will be confused as to why Genos is suddenly living with Saitama in Episode 6.
- Episode 8 of Super Sonico The Animation takes the form of a Locked Room Mystery, as Kid Detective Ena helps Suzu and Fuuri try to work out who knocked Sonico unconscious and hid her guitar. The episode ends with nobody any the wiser, Ena's increasingly bizarre theories having all been debunked, and they all decide it was just an accident and head home. In The Stinger, however, Ena confronts the culprit (Miina, the venue's maid), and reveals she'd known the truth the whole time: Miina had spilled water on the band's amplifier by accident and was fearful she'd be fired if they found out, so to stop them from practicing and discovering the broken amp, she'd knocked Sonico unconscious. The room Sonico was in wasn't actually locked; Miina had just pretended it was in order to throw everyone off. Ena, meanwhile, had been Obfuscating Stupidity in order to stall for time and cover up the incident; she's only interested in solving crimes, not arresting the culprits, and she didn't want Miina to get fired over an honest mistake.
- Code Geass: One of the most debated (and most affected by a wide spread of disinformation) examples in anime, in which the final episode has, according to contested fan theories, a Stinger which suggests that perhaps Lelouch may be Not Quite Dead. There are a huge amount of Word of God statements which all repeat that he was killed, but some fans prefer to cling to their own headcanon and reject the anime's official canon. Word of God has stated in interviews (e.g. Animage 10 and 11, Continue Vol.42◊, etc), tweets by the director (translation), the official guide book◊, ..., that Lelouch is dead and he is listed among the dead in the Death List for R2. C.C. even explicitly says Lelouch is dead in the new epilogue (from 2009). Then it was announced that he was confirmed to be the main character in the sequel which is officially named "Lelouch of the Resurrection", which aligns with the mountain of official statements (database with official statements) about his death.
- In the third episode of the anime adaptation of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Phantom Blood, Jonathan impales Dio on the statue at the front of the manor, and the fire appears to disintegrate him completely. While not exactly crucial, if you miss the The Stinger that shows Wang Chan recover the stone mask from the ruins of the Joestar manor before being grabbed from under the rubble, it can be quite baffling to see an undead Wang Chan carrying around Dio in the next episode.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Rainbow Rocks ends with the reveal of Human Twilight, who muses that she's noticed some weird things concerning Canterlot High and such events need further investigation. This explains why she's already heavily investigating the school in Friendship Games.
- Shrek 2 has the introduction of Donkey and Dragon's babies at the end.
- A staple of movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all of which have stingers, though not all of them are significant plot-wise. The ones that are are as follows:
- Iron Man has Nick Fury showing up to talk to Tony about the Avengers Initiative.
- Iron Man 2 has Coulson locating Mjölnir in the New Mexico desert.
- Thor: Loki, who seemingly let himself fall to his death after fighting Thor, appears in the post-credits scene (unseen by either Fury or Dr. Erik Selvig and also possessing the latter) to show that he survived and is planning for something which comes to fruition in The Avengers.
- The Avengers: The first stinger gives us our first look at Thanos. (Starting here, they tend to have two stingers, one part-way into the credits with a significant occurrence, and another more humorous or throw-away one at the very end.)
- Thor: The Dark World: The Aether being delivered to the Collector.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier: The first one shows that HYDRA has Loki's staff as well as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, and the second one shows Bucky starting to piece together who he used to be.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron: Thanos saying, "Fine, I'll do it myself!" as he takes the Infinity Gauntlet.
- Captain America: Civil War: Bucky goes back into stasis, awaiting the discovery of a means to cure him of his brainwashing, under the watch of T'Challa.
- Doctor Strange: Mordo confronts Pangborn and takes away the magic powers that allowed him to walk again, saying that the world has "too many sorcerers".
- Thor: Ragnarok has Thanos's ship looming over the Asgardian ship.
- Avengers: Infinity War has Nick Fury send a distress signal that is received by Captain Marvel.
- Ant-Man and the Wasp has a mid-credit stinger where Ant-Man is trapped in the Quantum Realm as a result of Hank, Hope and Janet being disintegrated by Thanos.
- The Stinger at the end of Young Sherlock Holmes shows Rathe (a.k.a. Eh-Tar) signing into a hotel in Switzerland. He signs the register as Moriarty.
- If you missed the stinger in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl you'd wonder what the smeg was happening when Captain Sparrow shoots Jack the monkey, and he's later shot out of a 6-pounder as a screeching fireball, but later seen not dead. And the fact that he's still cursed, despite the curse having previously been lifted, will only make things more confusing.
- In the first book of Gordon Korman's Everest series, there's a subplot where embarrassing information about the contestants for the expedition is being leaked to the press by an unknown party. The last page of the book features an e-mail from The Mole to a reporter, signed with their real name. This puts their interactions with the other characters in the rest of the book in a new light, and creates tension for the next book, as the readers are now aware who The Mole on the expedition is, but the other climbers are not.
- Arrested Development: The "On the Next" segments of episodes, rather than being a preview of what will happen on the next episode, they serve as stingers to show what will have happened behind the scenes by the time of the next episode. While these stingers are usually throwaway gags, occasionally some important details are revealed, such as the revelation that Rita Leeds is a MRF (Mentally Retarded Female), before they become plot-relevant.
- Friends had a stinger almost every episode. While most of the them are just for one last gag, the episode "The One Where Everybody Finds Out" has a fairly important one in which Ross accidentally discovers Monica and Chandler's relationship, which is immediately followed upon in the opening scene of the next episode.
- All of the first three Halo games:
- Halo: Combat Evolved's stinger shows Guilty Spark escaping Halo's destruction and fleeing into space.
- Halo 2's stinger shows The Gravemind approaching Cortana, who agrees to answer its questions.
- Halo 3 ends with everyone believing that Master Chief is dead, but the stinger reveals that he and Cortana survived in the aft end of the frigate Forward Unto Dawn, and ends with his going back into stasis. Then the ship's hulk is seen drifting towards a planet.
- Mega Man Zero 2's stinger features a disembodied voice telling his "creation", Omega, that it's the "right time to attack". This leads directly into the events of Mega Man Zero 3, in which Omega appears in the intro level, and we're introduced to the likely source of the voice: the Big Bad Dr. Weil.
- Metroid Prime gives a first look at Samus' main enemy through the next two games, as Dark Samus emerges from the Metroid Prime chamber. Without knowledge of this, the next two games appear to have an Artifact Title, as this Stinger is the only indication that Dark Samus is Metroid Prime.
- Final Fantasy X: The stinger shows Tidus waking up and swimming towards the surface as he hears Yuna's whistling, indicating he somehow survived being erased from the fayth waking up. Final Fantasy X-2 expands on this a little more in its own stinger if the player gets the Golden Ending, with Tidus and Yuna speculating how he could have come back.
- Kingdom Hearts III's stingers shows that Xigbar is actually Luxu, that the Foretellers have come back, and that Yozora is real.
- Killing Spree VI ends with Jason getting shot in the head, seemingly putting an end to his murder spree. However, in The Stinger, it's revealed that since it's not yet midnight, he's still immortal, and thus Not Quite Dead. This is used as a Sequel Hook for the final instalment, Killing Spree VII.
- The Stinger of Sonic: Nazo Unleashed shows Dr. Eggman finding one of Nazo's bracelets and laughing evilly to himself. This was initially a subversion, as Chakra-X stated that he didn't want to follow up on it, but in February 2016 a sequel was announced in which Dr. Eggman has resurrected Nazo, meaning The Stinger now plays this trope straight as skipping it will leave you wondering how Eggman got hold of Nazo's genetic material.
- A minor case. The Noob movies have a subplot in which The Cracker and one of the Game Masters are casually playing the fictional MMORPG in which the story is set in hope to make up for a long-standing real life feud between them, with a rule of completely ignoring each other's usual activities. During the first movie, Noob: Le Conseil des Trois Factions, The Cracker complains about how his Starter Equipment looks and they run into a bunch of players talking about having done illegal stuff right in front of them. In The Stinger, they strike a deal: the Game Master can go officially ban the group they ran into, and The Cracker can hack his avatar to change his equipment early during that lapse of time. When the duo is seen again in the second movie Noob: La Quête Légendaire, The Cracker is the only one of the two that has upgraded from his Starter Equipment.