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Danger Room Cold Open

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"Bond just kind of groans. You see, it's not his lung that's been punctured, but rather his ego, because this was all just a training exercise. Ah yes, the training exercise, a reliable Bond fake-out...I can only conclude that James Bond actually murders people for training."

This is similar to the Batman Cold Open, only it's used for teams, particularly the X-Men. Usually depicted in a training room situation, this trope often sees a team practicing for combat, using various strategies barked out by their Strait-Laced Leader. The scene is designed to have each member show off their particular abilities — be they mutant powers, or cool gadgetry or weaponry — as well as reveal some aspect of each member's personality through short quips and pithy comments.

A common variant is to begin in the middle of a battle, fighting against some old foe. Everything's going smoothly until, suddenly, someone dies. The simulated nature of the battle is revealed.

Other variants include playing baseball, wherein powers are out of bounds — until somebody uses them anyway — and testing the mettle of a new member.

A Virtual Training Simulation can be used for one of these, as can a Deadly Training Area.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Great Mazinger: In the sequel to Mazinger Z, the Fortress Of Science was equipped with one of these. It appeared for first time in episode 3, and the scene showed Jun dodging rounds of machine gun mounted on the walls as Tetsuya her training and gave -or better said, barked out- advice.
  • An episode of Tiger & Bunny opens with the pair against a gun-wielding gang. The titular duo then starts arguing, at which point Tiger stands up, ranting... and a dozen red dots converge on his face. Cue gunfire, and cheery opening.
  • An episode of Battle of the Planets (aka Gatchaman, G-Force, Eagle Riders, God knows..) Opens with the team demolishing their danger room, only it turns out not to be the team....
  • Yakitori Soldiers Of Misfortune. An In-Universe version happens in "The Rear Guard" when a Drop Ship exercise has 80% casualties. It happens in flashback, so the audience is aware it's one of their training exercises, but the unit is surprised to find when the exercise ends that they never left the spacecraft and their comrades are still alive. Their recruiter then appears to tell them that their unit was the only one to 'survive' the exercise (contrasting with how their unit kept getting killed back on the Mars training ground, when everyone knew it wasn't real).

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men: Trope Namer. In fact, it's how they were introduced back in 1963. Used in an issue of New Mutants in which Rahne re-fought the battle that got Doug Ramsey killed, and came up with over forty different ways in which she could have saved his life. Of course, Rahne wasn't allowing for the fact that the 'forty different ways' all required foreknowledge of what was coming...
  • At least one of the Marv Wolfman-era Teen Titans comics opened with the Titans in the middle of combat training...
  • A couple of issues of Avengers: The Initiative opened with this.
  • X-Wing Rogue Squadron: The arc Battleground: Tatooine starts with Hobbie as Rogue Leader, other Rogues dying around him in an ambush. It's a simulator; Wedge and a few others are flying simulated TIEs, Hobbie and so on are flying as X-Wings.
  • A Chris Claremont Fantastic Four issue started with Ronan the Acccuser taking out a set of the foursome's robots.
  • The Transformers (Marvel): One issue of the UK series introduced a group called The Wreckers with them taking out 'facsimilie constructs' of prominent Decepticons in a training exercise.

    Films — Animation 
  • While not actually the opening, in Kung Fu Panda we're introduced to the real Furious Five in a battle where they attempt to take out Shifu. They fail, badly.
  • In Toy Story 2, we see Buzz Lightyear in a dystopian battlezone, finally reaching and fighting Zurg. After a brief fight, Buzz gets The upper half of his body blown to smithereens. Then some Game Over text pops up, showing that it was just a video game played by Rex, and the "real" Buzz is still fine. Repeated more obviously in Toy Story 3, as well as in Monsters, Inc..
  • The opening of Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars has Rico leading a terrified squad of New Meat Mobile Infantry into combat. Their ineptness manages to get half of them killed, then their Ensign Newbie finishes off the rest when he accidentally launches a nuclear weapon at close range. Cue to everyone waking up in the simulator, where Rico gives them a right earful.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Kobayashi Maru scene from the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
  • The intro to The Sum of All Fears.
  • Appropriately enough, the beginning of X-Men: The Last Stand turns out to be a Danger Room scenario.
  • Played for (dark) laughs in Space Truckers. While the opening scene where a Killer Robot attacks a Mega-Corp's base was just a demonstration for the boss, this particular executive is so corrupt they used real weapons and real Mooks, all of whom are gruesomely slaughtered by the Killer Robot.
  • Mindhunters: The film opens with two FBI agents investigating a serial killer's lair looking to save a girl he kidnapped, only to be killed in a firefight with the killer's accomplice. Turns out it was a training scenario by the academy when the lights turn on—which they failed completely, missing every clue that there was a second culprit.
  • Eve of Destruction: A group of commandos storm a compound to save a group of hostages, only to get themselves all killed by a hostage taker who disguised himself as one of the hostages. The man who played the part, their instructor Col. McQuade, reveals this to be a training scenario to prep his men for an ongoing real life hostage crisis, and his recruits abysmally failed the mission.
  • James Bond
    • The pre-title sequence of From Russia with Love (the first ever for the James Bond franchise) shows Bond getting stalked and killed by Donald "Red" Grant with his garrote wristwatch before it's revealed to be a SPECTRE training exercise for Grant, and "Bond" is actually a SPECTRE mook. Unlike other examples of this trope, the mook really was killed as SPECTRE was using a live target to ensure their assassin was properly tested.
    • Never Say Never Again has Bond rescue a beautful woman being held hostage. Instead of Rescue Sex, she stabs him as she's suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Cut to Bond being chewed out by M, who sends him to a health clinic to get him back into shape after failing this training exercise.

  • The first scene in the X-Wing novel series is Corran Horn and three others doing their simulator tryouts for a place in the reformed Rogue Squadron. The scenario used is a nod to a particularly infamous level of the X-Wing game, and once again their opponents are their future squadmates. Except the last one, which singlehandedly mops the floor with them all; that's being flown by Tycho Celchu.
  • In the Nora Roberts book Morrigan's Cross, the heroine and her companions try out their various combat abilities while their makeshift instructor critiques their talents out loud.
  • The second Animorphs book, "The Visitor", begins with the group besides Tobias testing out their newly acquired flight morphs. Besides Marco and Cassie, who morph into ospreys, the group can all morph into different birds of prey.
  • One James Bond novel opens with our hero apparently exchanging gunfire in a dark alley. Turns out Bond is on a firing range, trying out a new target rigged with a blank-firing gun to better simulate combat conditions.
  • Played for laughs in Reach by Edward Gibson. A crew of astronauts are carrying out a simulated mission, which the reader only discovers when one of them looks out the porthole and sees his house about to crash into them. Turns out the people running the simulation are testing their ability to react to unpredictable events.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Burn Notice: One episode opens with Mike on a motorbike being chased at speed by a pursuer. It turns out to be Fi although it may be more foreplay than a training exercise.
  • Flashpoint: In "The Element Of Surprise", the first time we see the team (notwithstanding the opener), they're rehearsing their entry plan. Somewhat unusually for this trope, the episode makes no secret of the fact that it's a drill.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Dark Frontier" used this trope pretty much exactly, with Tuvok, Janeway, Seven, and B'Elanna on the holodeck practicing a raid on a Borg cube.
    • "Threshold" begins with Tom Paris trying to accelerate a shuttle to the impossibly fast warp 10. It doesn't work and the shuttle tears itself apart, leaving Tom sitting on his ass on the holodeck as B'elanna Torres matter-of-factly informs him "you're dead".
  • The Wire: The second-to-last episode of Season 4, "That's Got His Own", opens with an armed Michael Lee being chased through an abandoned warehouse by a similarly armed Chris Partlow and Snoop Pearson. Just when Michael gets the drop on Chris and shoots him in the chest, it's revealed that all three of them are actually carrying paintball guns, and that Chris and Snoop are training Michael for his new job as a soldier for the Stanfield Organization.
  • The first episode of' The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne features a scene early on in which we are introduced to Rebecca Fogg fighting a samurai in a room full of ice blocks. It is revealed to be merely a training session when her cousin Phileas interrupts by shooting a bullet past her head.
    Rebecca: Since when did we start using real ammunition?
    Phileas: As you know, my dear cousin, you don't encounter blanks on missions for the British Secret Service.
  • Generation Kill opens to an intense combat situation in the middle of a desert. The driver of one of the vehicles gets injured and the others are supposed to leave it behind and "get out of the killzone". Everyone it very intense, then it is all revealed to be a training exercise. Interesting because the exercise itself doesn't give a lot of characterization, but the debriefing scene directly after sets up character relationships and plot threads for the whole series.
  • At the start of The Heavy Water War, Norwegian SOE commandoes burst into a room and take several German soldiers prisoner, then on planting their explosive charges realise they've left the blasting caps behind. Fortunately they're in a training camp in Scotland, not on the actual mission.
  • The Power Rangers Ninja Storm episode "There's No I in Team" opens with a holographic training simulation, which the Rangers fail at.
  • Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond.
    • Episode 3 opens with Ian Fleming prowling down a corridor at night, pistol at the ready. Suddenly an alarm sounds and bullets fly! Fleming races down the corridor, opens a metal canister and has to defuse the time bomb inside. He succeeds, then the lights come on to reveal he's at Camp X, the secret commando training area in Canada. Oh and while he successfully defused the bomb, he got shot while running down the corridor.
    • Episode 4 opens with Fleming showing his Sassy Secretary his new fountain pen, which sprays Knockout Gas in her face. He then uses a Spy Cam hidden inside his cigarette lighter to photograph the documents on her table, placing the film inside a hollow golf ball. Has the creator of James Bond turned traitor? No, it's just a demonstration on the future of espionage for some American bigwigs. Except he really did knock out his secretary, who's not amused when she wakes up.
  • An episode of The Equalizer has some gangsters beating up a youth. Turns out it's the initiation for their gang, in which the initiate shows he can put up with anything the police might dish out.
  • Supernatural. The episode "Goodbye Stranger" has a nasty one where a brainwashed Castiel is shown apparently killing Dean Winchester, which doesn't get any less shocking after the Proscenium Reveal when we see he's in a warehouse full of murdered Dean simulations.
  • Major Crimes: "Heart Failure" opens with the squad dealing with a hostage situation and storming the building. It ends with Provenza getting shot. It is then revealed that this is a live shooter training exercise (and that Provenza just cheated by shouting out advice to the squad after he was 'dead').
  • Done in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Proving Ground", using a real location and enemies but nonlethal weapons.
  • Pandora has a variant in the first episode, not used as a cold open, but as a Commercial Break Cliffhanger fakeout.
  • The Professionals
    • Subverted in episode "Rogue", which opens with the Villain of the Week assassinating an organised crime witness with a silent pistol. After the title sequence we're shown Bodie and Doyle trying and failing to subdue this assassin, until Doyle calls for time out and it's revealed he's their CI5 unarmed combat instructor. Neither of them know at this stage that he's also a Rogue Agent.
    • Played straight in "Wild Justice" which opens with CI5 agents storming a building that's been seized by terrorists. Bodie ends up with a gun at the back of his head, whereupon Doyle shouts at him for messing up the exercise again.

    Video Games 
  • Quite a few games with a first stage Justified Tutorial fit this trope.
  • The Training level in Hitman: Codename 47 is a fake cityscape filled with pop-up cutouts to shoot ("Red is for baaaaad guys!"). There is also a shooting gallery and a stationary doll to strangle. In the updated Hitman: Contracts training level, there are SWAT officers to sneak up on and kill.
  • The training courses at the beginning of Modern Warfare and its sequel.
  • Star Trek: Elite Force begins with this trope. Pre-mission narration tell us that an away team is on a Borg ship on a rescue mission. Only when the player-character gets impatient, shoots a terminal and kills the team in a fiery explosion do we cut to the Voyager holodeck where we are told it was all a test.
  • Space Quest V: The Next Mutation starts with Roger in the command chair of a starship about to lose a battle. Everything then pauses, and Captain Raemes T. Quirk appears on the screen to yell at Roger for screwing around instead of taking his final exam at the StarCon Academy. The whole thing was an Unwinnable Training Simulation.
  • Perfect Dark Zero's first mission is a Virtual Training Simulation of the Trinity Research Platform, which is actually visited in Missions 7 and 8.
  • Crisis Core opens this way with Zack performing a mission very similar to the opening of the original Final Fantasy VII. The simulation ends when Zack has a surprise encounter with a digital Sephiroth and is handily defeated, foreshadowing the opponent's turn by the end of the game.

    Web Original 
  • Inevitably, the Whateley Universe has finally done this. The opening of "Ayla and the Birthday Brawl" has this scene in one of the holographic simulators, but it's the Vindicators who get the coverage, and the villain in the simulation turns out to be... Ayla, playing the 'red team' as part of a training exercise for a class.

    Western Animation 
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles do this often, with Splinter watching them sweat. Sometimes he's involved in the training too, and manages to kick all their shells. The 2012 series episode "Panic in the Sewers"​ starts with the Turtles taking on the Shredder and getting killed. It then turns out Splinter was having a nightmare.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold "Duel Of The Double Crossers!" has Batman training The Outsiders in such a simulation.
  • The Teen Titans (2003) cartoon, in an interesting variation, introduces the bad guys Mammoth, Gizmo, and Jinx this way.
  • The Batman Beyond episode "Terry's Friend Dates a Robot" opens with him training against robotic versions of classic Batman villains.
  • Defenders of the Earth did this several times.
  • The Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon used this for the first season finale's cold open.
  • An episode of Young Justice (2010) has one of these as the plot of the whole episode. The team (and therefore the viewer) doesn't know that it's fake due to the emotional distress of their psychic teammate.
  • An episode of The Venture Bros. begins with the Monarch and his flunkies doing one of these, although a screw up cut the clip from the aired episode (although it's on the DVD and appeared on the online 'broadcast' version).
  • Time Squad did this with a simulation where they were fighting an evil George Washington in their satellite.
  • X-Men: Evolution has a love affair with this trope even by the standards set by its comic-book counterpart. Season 2, especially with the New Mutants, who were mostly background characters, getting into antics in the B-plot revolving around using their powers for mundane activities (playing baseball, as mentioned above, was from this show... and was the second time it was done... they tried volleyball to similar issues). One instance even had Scott and Jean planning their escape from the horror that is... teaching Kitty and testing her latest experiments in cooking.
  • Archer begins with Archer screwing around in an Electric Torture training scenario. Used for a Brick Joke when Archer is in a real torture scenario and regrets not paying attention to his training.
  • Big Hero 6: The Series:


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Alternative Title(s): Professor X Likes Watching Teenagers Sweat, Professor X Likes Seeing Teenagers Sweat


X-Men Danger Room

What looks like Days of Future Past turns out to a training exercise.

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