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Developing Doomed Characters

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Mike: You're about an hour late, monster.
Kevin: We're only 18 minutes in, Mike.
Mike: I stand by my statement.

All right, you and your friends are hitting up that new monster movie at the theatre. You're ready to see some carnage. Some destruction. Some crazy special effects. This film is sure to be packed full of it.

Except you have to wait to actually get to that part. No, the director has decided to spend the first 20 minutes of the flick introducing you to a Ragtag Bunch Of cool, Totally Radical hip kids, aged 16 to 27, who are all experiencing relationship drama and personal issues and family problems. The idea here is to use Character Development to try to make the audience identify with the future victims more, so the audience will be more affected if and when they die. In-Verse, it accounts for why the characters would want to act the part of the hero, or the villain for that matter.

Problems often arise when the audience simply doesn't care about said personal issues. Some viewers are Just Here for Godzilla, in which case they have to sit through the tedium of introductions for characters they know are going to start dropping like flies. (After all, viewers are going to be able to guess which characters won't make it through anyway, so why should they care about them?) Other viewers might actually like to see some character development, but they tend to be disappointed too because the development here is usually pretty sloppy and rushed. If the characters aren't very likeable, it's going to be twenty minutes of impatient waiting for the monster to come along and start killing off the insufferable jerks (hence this trope's original name, Twenty Minutes With Jerks).

This trope is not confined to film, however, and can frequently be seen in the likes of mystery literature or television series.

Often overlaps with the audience Just Here for Godzilla, Monster Delay, and, in video games, the combination of Scenic-Tour Level and Play the Game, Skip the Story. Averted with Starring Special Effects, which puts the thing everyone's here to see front and center as the star.

Contrast with the Sacrificial Lamb, a genuinely sympathetic innocent victim. Also contrast the Sacrificial Lion, a straight-up main character who still ends up dead. Compare and contrast the Mauve Shirt, who is expected to be just plain old Cannon Fodder and ends up with enough character development to live through at least an arc, if not the whole series/book/movie. Also compare Hate Sink, who is often doomed and always has the kind of character development that gives the audience a reason to hate them and be glad when they meet their doom. There's also Fatal Family Photo, which is the high-speed version of this: less annoying because it only delays the good part by a few seconds, but really obvious about it. Compare and contrast to A Death in the Limelight, where a character that's suddenly elaborated on is expected to die soon. See Eight Deadly Words, which is a Fan Speak phrase relating to the phenomenon.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • You can generally tell who's going to die next in Akame ga Kill! by who gets a flashback focused on them or a Motive Rant. Not everyone who gets one of these dies, and it's not always immediately no matter how much you probably want some of them to die right now, but savvy viewers can save themselves a lot of heartache by preparing for the deaths of various sweethearts early.
  • Happens a lot in Attack on Titan due to the fact Anyone Can Die. A good example is having a Whole Episode Flashback for Petra, Oluo, Eld, and Gunther before they died at the hands of the Female Titan.
  • Bokurano. is essentially a Super Robot show, but still insists on spending an episode or two developing each character even after we know for a fact that they will certainly die, which just makes everything so much more tragic.
  • Done throughout Ga-Rei -Zero-. Most characters don't wind up making it to the end of the series, but special mention goes to the first episode, which introduces not only a Decoy Protagonist, but an entire decoy cast. They spend the entire episode fighting off some rather massive ghostly apparitions, only to get killed off in the end by one of the real protagonists (who just got a nice hefty dose of Psycho Serum).
  • In Goblin Slayer, we are introduced to a young priestess who wants to become an adventurer, so she joins a group of other beginners, consisting of a cocky warrior guy, a very nice fighter girl, and a snarky wizard girl. Then they all decide to enter a cave to slay goblins. Despite giving them good character designs, different personalities, and in the manga, backstories, they are sadly slaughtered one after the other; the wizard girl is stabbed with a poison dagger by the goblins and the warrior guy is overrun and eaten alive. The fighter girl is able to buy the priestess enough time to escape until she is overpowered by a larger goblin and sadly gang-raped. When it looks like the priestess is about to suffer the same fate, she is rescued by the true main character of the show, who then proceeds to kill all the goblins in the cave single-handedly. So despite all the potential these characters could have had, they were killed to start off the story and set the tone.
  • Participants of Juni Taisen: Zodiac War are often killed at the end of their focus episode.
  • Several chapters of The Mermaid Princess's Guilty Meal focus more upon the various fish that will end up as the Victim of the Week... and as Princess Ela's next meal. Taking the time to flesh them out and explore who they are before meeting their gruesomely delicious end. Doubles as Let's Meet the Meat.
  • Overlord (2012) likes to develop everyone Nazerick comes into conflict with, even though they're up against a horrifically overpowered Evil Overlord who's essentially an Outside-Context Problem for the entire world, and his dungeon full of almost unlimited resources, making most conflict a foregone conclusion. What makes this trope so effective is that it's often subverted at the last minute, with no way of seeing it coming. For instance, the Lizardmen are set up as a classic example, but ultimately have their surrender accepted and become a protectorate of Nazerick, becoming recurring characters.
  • Parodied in Saki Biyori, in which Hiroko "FunaQ" Funakubo of the Senriyama mahjong team has two horror movies to watch before returning- a zombie movie and a shark movie. Lacking the time to watch both, she gives the zombie movie to Ryuuka and Toki, the shark one to Izumi and Cera, and walks back and forth between the two rooms. It takes over 90 minutes out of two hours for a zombie to appear in the former, and around the same time, a shark appears in the latter.

    Comic Books 
  • Seven Soldiers #0 featured a team of largely new, never-before-seen heroes assembled to fight a huge threat. After all the characterization that 24 pages could take, they were all slaughtered. Surprisingly, this has some bearing on the plot of the miniseries that follow — for instance, the Bulleteer was the missing member of the doomed team, and does some research into what went wrong.
  • Judge Dredd: In the Dark Justice story that reunites the four Dark Judges, a lot of time is spent developing their four thousand unfortunate victims who set out on a deep space voyage. The colonists are almost all completely slaughtered after the foursome infiltrates the mission. Dredd and Anderson are Late to the Tragedy, though some survivors manage to stow away on the ship.
  • The first half of Starman #38 revolves around the formation of a new Justice League Europe, with a lot of time devoted to character interactions. The second half then has each member of the team systematically eliminated by the Mist until Firestorm is the Sole Survivor.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: Uncle Ben gets a lot of character development in the first arc. Still, he dies at the end of it. He was Doomed by Canon, after all.
  • Watchmen spends a large portion of its text showing the lives and character development of a number of civilians - a newsstand operator, a boy who hangs out by said newsstand reading comic books, a pair of detectives, a lesbian cab driver and her ex-girlfriend, and many others - to better show us the horror of Ozymandias' plan when we see it kill them all off. It works quite well.
  • The first issue of the Milligan-Allred run on X-Force featured a whole team of never-before-seen mutants. By the end of the issue, all but two of them were killed off in a mission gone horribly wrong. It's later revealed that their leader intentionally set them all up to die because their sponsors demanded a new lineup.

    Fan Works 
  • Always Visible: Delia and Jordan Thurlow have a lot of screen time, but they ultimately die. And that's not counting the four deaths that inspector Pharqraut (who also dies) was investigating.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 247°F pretends it's going to subvert this by starting with an accident in the first minute, but, no dice; we know that's not the event we came in to see if we've seen so much as the film's poster. Instead we have to suffer through 32 minutes of tedium before the main disaster begins. (And the film's only 87 minutes total.)
  • 2012 gives the impression that it knows exactly what kind of movie it is and why the audience is there, by dashing through the science, quickly sketching the characters (unsuccessful author, his kids, ex-wife and her more successful husband; Russian tycoon with bratty sons, young sexy girlfriend, and colder wife; the President, his daughter, and the Vice President; the science expert who alerts the White House, the Indian scientists and the Tibetan family in the Himalayas) and then getting down to its explosive business.
  • Parodied in Airplane! with the sad but boring saga of Ted and Elaine's doomed relationship.
  • It takes a very long while for an actual alien to appear in Alien, but it all works because the characters are interesting and interact in a setting that's interesting even before the alien.
  • Every disaster movie either done or inspired by Irwin Allen: The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, The Swarm (1978), and every one of the Airport movies, all featured a random group of people who would be trapped together in the disaster, which usually didn't happen until past the mid-point of the movie.
  • A good chunk of the premise behind An American Werewolf in London is the judicious application of this trope, and part of the reason it's so funny.
  • Audition is all about this trope, spending most of the film very slowly drawing back the curtain of horror until the big finale.
  • Avalanche spends about 75% of the movie setting up the characters before they fall victim to the titular disaster.
  • It's at least 45 minutes into AVP: Alien vs. Predator before either an alien or a Predator is seen, except in momentary flashbacks.
  • The Babadook spends most of the time on Amelia and Sam, with the monster and title character getting less than 5 minutes of screentime toward the end. The large focus on Amelia, Sam, and their hardships is because Amelia's simmering grief, anger, and resentment are what created the Babadook in the first place.
  • Battle: Los Angeles uses this, but lessens the annoyance by taking the time to get us acquainted with the main characters. For example, a Marine getting ready to retire, New Meat having a good time, an officer saying goodbye to his wife, and a soldier remembering his fallen brother.
  • It takes almost until the 50-minute mark of The Burning for Cropsy to start killing the campers.
  • Cabin Fever, also by Eli Roth, uses the trope, though it doesn't take that long for our canon fodder to get The Virus due to a classic case of old school horror movie Idiot Ball.
  • The Cabin in the Woods subverts the whole "jerks" aspect of the plot, which is standard in slashers. Curtis's introduction makes him look like a typical Jerk Jock, only for him to make a joke and give some helpful academic advice. Overall, the main characters are all likeable people. Until they are artificially turned into jerks by means of chemical pheromones for the benefit of the Eldritch Abominations watching. Though the stoner & final girl who make it to the end decide to screw over every innocent person on the planet... so, then they were jerks all along, and then they died. Of course, that was the whole point of the ending: if humans need to ritually kill people in order to maintain control of the planet, there are no truly innocent why not give something else a turn?
  • The 1990 made-for-television film Challenger spends much of its runtime delving into the personal lives of the seven astronauts who will later perish onboard the eponymous Space Shuttle.
  • A common complaint about Cloverfield is that the first twenty minutes are spent watching the main characters throw a party. The point is to show why they would travel across Manhattan to save someone, which not everybody bought.
  • Unlike the short story it is based on, Color Out of Space (2020) spends a great deal of time getting to know the human characters, especially the Gardner family. Which makes it even more heartbreaking when they're horrifically killed by the titular Eldritch Abomination.
  • In Cujo, there is a half-hour wait between Cujo getting bitten and going rabid. In the meantime, the audience gets to watch two families with problems that will soon seem trivial in comparison. This was at least honest to Stephen King's story.
  • The 1966 movie Death Curse of Tartu spends its first 18 minutes with a guide/explorer man who talks a lot, wanders around the Everglades, and desecrates the grave of the film's antagonist. After another minute of the guy being constricted to death by an anaconda, he's promptly forgotten about and the main characters and plot kick in.
  • DeepStar Six is a pretty hefty example: it takes almost an hour for the monster to appear, in a film 99 minutes long. As you could expect, it's a relentless barrage of disasters and monster attacks between that point and the time the credits roll.
  • The Descent made this work with some good tension between the characters and some genuinely scary scenes of spelunking. Some critics even preferred the beginning segments, due to the film first playing on the fear of getting stuck in a cave, and it's been occasionally opined that the parts where the protagonists are running from the Crawlers are actually less scary than the full half hour of agonizing build-up where the audience just KNOWS that the monsters are coming eventually, but not from where or when.
  • Dog Soldiers does this by necessity, considering the budget limitations on showing the werewolves too often, but actually makes the squaddies pretty likeable. It helps that "badass group of British soldiers out on a mission somewhere" is inherently more interesting to watch than a bunch of horny teenage morons being awful to one another.
  • One of the criticisms of the Doom movie is that it has too many talking Space Marines followed by too few demons for about 20 minutes.
  • Edge of Tomorrow is essentially made of this trope in that it centres on a cowardly Armchair Military officer who gets stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop fighting a losing battle against Starfish Aliens who are conquering Earth. Throughout the loops there's quite a lot of Character Development of both him and his squaddies, only for them all to be repeatedly killed. It works better than most invocations of this trope since the backdrop is a fairly epic annihilation war rather than suffering a cast of jerks, and the audience doesn't have to suffer through the awfulness of the main character - the one real jerk in the cast - that much because most of the first fifteen minutes or so before we see actual combat gives us the vicarious thrill of watching him be physically and metaphorically kicked in the balls repeatedly.
  • Escape Room (2017) spends a large amount of time at Tyler's party, introducing viewers to some fairly unpleasant yuppies, before it ever reaches the escape room. And then more time with them arguing inside the escape room before the dying starts.
  • The Evil Dead (1981), with its 30-minute buildup to the horror, is sometimes given the dubious honor of creating this horror trope - although the characters aren't unlikeable and the tension is fairly powerful. The sequels, however, avert the trope in increasingly drastic ways: Evil Dead 2 recaps the first movie's plot in about ten minutes before jumping straight into the action, while Army of Darkness starts In Medias Res, followed by a quick flashback sequence explaining how Ash ended up a prisoner in the middle ages.
  • Averted in Feast: while the 99% Red Shirt cast are indeed an assorted bunch of jerks, time that would otherwise be wasted introducing their personalities is supplanted by a quickie on-screen caption for each, and the film does not take long to get to the killings.
  • The Final Destination series is practically made of this trope, as every principal character is doomed to die by the very premise and much of each movie's runtime is spent waiting for them to kick it while fleshing out their character and exploring their reactions to first a near-escape from a tragic accident and then the haunting realization that Death itself is coming for them.
  • The Fly (1986) spends a fair bit of time introducing its leads and their love story; the Tragic Mistake happens at slightly past the half-hour mark, whereupon a Slow Transformation begins. But it's done very well and audiences end up caring deeply about what happens to them. Plus, the movie only has three major characters, so if it got right to the violent stuff it would be a very short movie.
  • Frankenstein 1970: As the monster doesn't appear outside the lab until almost an hour into this film, the audience is treated to a lot of interlinked personal lives of the film crew.
  • Freddy vs. Jason is a film whose synopsis only needs to be as long as its title, and yet it shows the audience warmed-over teenage drama for a large part of the movie, instead of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees actually fighting each other.
  • The Friday the 13th series of films fall into this trap a lot, due to its general style. Each of the teenagers is hunted down one by one, with none of the others generally being the wiser as time goes by. Thus, the effect becomes a series of murders, interspersed with five-minute segments of jerks. (The remake is especially egregious here, as it makes you go through this twice.)
  • Funny Man: EVERY character is unlikable to one extent or another, to the point where you'll just find yourself rooting for the Funny Man. At least he brings some Black Comedy to the table!
  • The original Gojira did not have a glimpse of the monster until about halfway through. Unusually, its first act is used not to develop single characters, but more the political and social context (heavily laden with subtext of the atomic tests and the effect they had in Japan).
  • While the 1998 Godzilla movie does present a few scenes of Godzilla sightings at the beginning, it still takes a good half hour until he shows up, and until then you had to watch a spineless New Yorker complain about her career. And once Godzilla shows up and then keeps 'hiding' during parts of the movie, guess what? More of a spineless New Yorker, except now you get to watch her screw everything up and have an awkward rekindling with her ex-boyfriend Matthew Broderick.
  • Godzilla (2014) takes a long time before we see the big G in all his glory, and the majority of the monster bash in is the last half hour. Gareth Edwards and Bryan Cranston talked about the way to avoid the problems with this trope is for the character arcs of the humans to intersect with the monsters in an interesting and, in Edwards' words, "unexploitative" way so you don't feel that they're wasting screen time on them; unfortunately, they didn't succeed. However, the movie does focus on developing the mythology behind Godzilla himself and how the characters deal with trying to survive, rather than being concerned about less important issues. Despite this, many felt there was still too little Godzilla and too many flat characters in the movie.
  • Gosford Park is both an extreme example and proof that Tropes Are Not Bad — it's a two-and-a-half-hour murder mystery where the murder doesn't take place until nearly two hours in, but the screenplay won an Oscar.
  • While Grave Encounters features this to a degree, it works due to the movie relying on Nothing Is Scarier for the first half of the horrific part, so empathizing with the characters' situation is a must.
  • Taken to an absurd degree with Grindhouse Death Proof which had 45 minutes with jerks... and then 30 minutes with some simply more badass (and thus entertaining) jerks. Its companion film, Planet Terror, introduced its characters concurrently with its plot set-up, and is generally considered to be the better-flowing of the two movies.
  • While the earlier Halloween movies aren't so bad - the first one even opens with the iconic scene of Michael's first kill, shot entirely from his point of view - the later ones revolve around the typically unlikable, rebellious teens with teen issues that are standard in many slasher flicks. In fact, Michael Myer's killings come off as more of a background issue to the love triangles and teen angst of the protagonists.
    • The original Halloween (1978) handles its initial minutes very well. After the prologue where Michael kills his sister, the film focuses on only two characters, the pleasant Final Girl Laurie and Michael's psychiatrist Dr. Loomis, with other jerks only appearing to interact with those two characters. And while Laurie spends the beginning of the movie doing normal teenager things, she keeps seeing Michael spy on her and going past Meaningful Background Events of Michael's plan.
    • In the 2007 remake it takes about 20 minutes for Michael to kill a human, and this is before we get to the present day.
  • The Haunted Mansion (2003) has about 15 minutes establishing protagonist Jim Evers as an obnoxious workaholic to go between the prologue and the family arriving at the house.
  • Hell House LLC works in part because the characters are sympathetic and made what was happening to them as things got worse much more compelling. It's debatable if this was done effectively in the sequel Hell House LLC II: The Abaddon Hotel.
  • Alfred Hitchcock
    • The Birds merges this with Halfway Plot Switch. You think you're watching the development of a romance between Melanie and Mitch - then the birds attack. But the film does foreshadow the birds slowly getting more violent.
    • Hitchcock pulled off the same trick in Psycho - where we follow Marion Crane and think she's going to be our protagonist. Then she's killed halfway through the film, and the rest is about the killer.
  • The Happening spends its time split between the protagonists running from a mysterious suicide epidemic and bickering about whether or not Zoe Deschanel's character is cheating on her husband. At least when that particular thing is resolved, the movie has the grace to acknowledge how dumb it was.
  • Hobgoblins spends its first forty minutes on a set of thoroughly despicable people who show no Character Development aside from Amy getting sluttier.
  • Hostel is more like 60 minutes with jerks as it's only the very end that has any horror at all.
  • The original The House on Sorority Row zigzags this. Word of God is that he wanted to do more than just the typical half-assed character development in the opening segments - so there's actually a story and connection other than random teens trying to get off with each other. But still it's well over twenty minutes before the killer starts slashing.
  • The House of Wax (2005) remake has an extended subplot about the Final Girl worrying about moving to New York or not, as well as tension between her brother and boyfriend. The film at least spends time developing a creepy atmosphere before the teens start getting killed.
    • A more egregious example of this trope are the scenes with Paris Hilton, considering how she has a ridiculously large amount of screentime although the only purpose of her character is to get killed in the most gruesome way possible.
  • The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies takes it a step further. Only in the last ten minutes of the movie are the eponymous zombies even seen... the lead-up to which consists of some relationship stuff between some unlikeable people and shitloads of singing.
  • The filmmakers were likely trying to recreate their successful application of this trope in Independence Day, which spends much of its opening 40 minutes establishing characters in classic Disaster Movie style before the aliens start their destructive attack. The initial arrival of their spaceships in Earth's atmosphere happens less than 15 minutes in, so the looming threat quickly starts shadowing and informing everyone's actions and builds both character and excitement. There's also a far greater number of characters to follow even after the first attack wipes many of them out (one of the most memorable, Dr. Okun, isn't introduced until Act Two!). By comparison, the audience has to spend a lot more time with the few characters of significance in Godzilla — and since there are so few, it's easy to guess that most will not end up victims.
  • Mega-cliched disaster flick Into the Storm (2014) wastes half of its running time trying to make the audience care about multiple groups of flat, unlikeable midwestern assholes. Most people just ended up rooting for the tornado instead.
  • Everyone knows that It's a Wonderful Life is about a guy who hits rock bottom, wishes he'd never been born, and is shown how much worse the world would be without him by a Guardian Entity. But if you haven't seen the movie, and just think you know what happens in it, you may not know that those events don't happen until roughly ninety minutes in. Everything up to that point is just to reinforce that George really is a wonderful guy, lay the contents of a small armory on the mantelpiece, and hammer home the premise.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • The early scenes of Jurassic Park (1993) — the stuff before the dinosaurs break out — are actually some of the most interesting scenes in the movie, since they focus on the idea of a dinosaur zoo rather than on simple survival. Given how many of the JP video games have been about managing such a park and ignoring the movie's themes of chaos theory and dinosaur breakouts, it looks like these scenes had a surprising impact.
    • Played extremely straight in Jurassic World. The film juggles the subplots of the two children's parents getting divorced and workaholic Claire — who has Belligerent Sexual Tension with Owen. And it's well over thirty minutes before the dinosaurs inevitably escape and start rampaging around the park. It's still not too bad because, like the first film, most of the screentime involving the titular park is spent checking on the various security measures and building up the suspense to unbearable levels.
  • Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005) spends a full hour and a half just getting to the island where King Kong lives. The more interesting half of the cast are the ones that die.
    • Which lead to Tripod's song "King Kong", featuring the line "Get to the fucking monkey!"
    • The 2017 Continuity Reboot does the exact opposite to such a degree that it almost has to be intentional: the big hairy fella shows up in the very first scene, and although it's about a half-hour before we see him again, once they get to the titular island the film alternates pretty much entirely between 1) scenes of human survivors getting eaten by monsters, 2) scenes of Kong smashing shit, 3) both at once.
  • Lockjaw takes this to the extreme. How? Well, the trigger incident is them running over someone's wife and not even knowing what they hit, let alone knowing if they hit anything at all. This makes the person sicking the eponymous monster to kill them much more likeable compared to these Asshole Victims.
  • May, in which the eponymous character is much more sympathetic than likable; and is largely sympathetic because she's so surrounded by jerks.
  • Melancholia is 125 minutes of dialogue and evolving characters' angstiness, and then 5 minutes of actual disaster. Then again, if you went to see a Lars Von Trier movie called Melancholia expecting a disaster movie rather than a movie about depression, you deserve what you get.
  • My Soul to Take. To quote from this review: "The first half of the movie is devoted to the weird hierarchy at Bug’s high school, where a mean girl named Fang (Emily Meade) rules with an iron fist and doles out punishments to lesser students — none of which has anything to do with anything."
  • During the Need for Speed film, the first 30 minutes are spent building up the protagonist and his friends, as well as highlighting the backstory of him losing the love interest to the antagonist. All this leads to the antagonist eventually killing the youngest friend of the protagonist during a staged street race, which he further uses to set up the protagonist by framing him for the fatal accident that killed the friend. And then the true plot of the film begins.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street itself tends to be better with regards to this trope due to the camaraderie between the victims and the continuity between movies (aside from the second and sixth films). However, the second movie, Freddy's Revenge, is particularly notable since Freddy only makes his big appearance in the last 15 minutes. The rest of the movie is dedicated to homoerotic scenes featuring the main character, Jesse, though this is what viewers tend to remember most.
  • Minor cult hit Outpost manages to pull this off: The characters are all badass anti-hero mercenaries from various walks of life, making them actually interesting in their own right. They could've gotten away with double the time spent developing the characters before the inevitable grisly death and it wouldn't have been boring.
  • The Michael Bay version of Pearl Harbor has the attacks as the setting for a drama story, rather than the actual subject of the film. According to Roger Ebert, the Japanese "launched a sneak attack on an American love triangle".
  • Peeping Tom inverts this, as the killer is the protagonist. Viv gets developed but you know she's going to be the victim - and she's made very likable to create the tension of whether Mark will actually kill her.
  • The Perfect Storm takes much time to show the regular life of the Andrea Gail before the storm actually starts. This trope is far more excusable with stuff Based on a True Story, since it helps you get to know a little bit about the people who actually lost their lives for real.
  • In Planet of the Apes (1968), it's at least half an hour until we encounter the title characters, and all but one of the humans you meet till then end up dead, or worse, lobotomized.
  • The first two Predator films use this trope extremely well, since the protagonists are respectively a commando leading a crack team on a rescue mission in Central America and a police lieutenant leading a raid on drug dealers, and the monster is a tribal alien Hunting the Most Dangerous Game. The first act of each film shows the hero and his team engaging in shootouts with scores of Mooks to establish them as a One-Man Army, which makes it all the more tense and terrifying when the Predator starts hunting them and picking off their allies.
  • Prom Night (1980) spends almost the first hour of its run-time developing the high school characters before the prom even begins. While the film is sometimes complimented for having more story and character development than most slashers, it's also sometimes criticized by fans of the genre for being too much of a slow-burn, and most of the characters are still little more than high school archetypes.
  • The Prom Night (2008) remake had some murder, then twenty minutes of Developing Doomed Characters, then a murder, then another twenty minutes Developing Doomed Characters, then a murder, then... The killer was picking off the characters while they were alone and the incompetent police didn't see a need to raise the alarm, so the protagonist only realized something was wrong near the end of the movie. It's even worse in the original.
  • The opening scenes in The Reef establish that Luke and Kate are a couple that broke up years ago, with some clear sexual tension.
  • Reservoir Dogs basically begins as a funny comedy set in a diner about the mores and opinions of a bunch of easy-going-looking guys. Then, jumpcut to Tim Roth shot in the gut and it's off to the races...
  • The first third of the Norwegian Slasher Movie Rovdyr shows the road trip the protagonists are making to a hiking trail in northern Norway. This does establish the personalities of the group: Mia is Team Mom, Jorgen is an Extreme Doormat, and Camilla is a Granola Girl. But what it overwhelmingly establishes is that Roger is a huge Jerkass. It actually comes as a surprise when he is not the first to die.
  • Rogue One averts this pretty successfully. Even though it takes almost an hour for the entire titular team to be brought together as a complete unit, the plot moves at a pretty fast pace and wastes no time in getting into the rollicking space adventure stuff. Each of the team members gets just enough development and distinct characterization that the audience roots for them to win and feels it in the gut when they all go down in the Final Battle, one by one.
  • Rosemary's Baby almost feels like a biopic with a minor subplot about the devil.
  • The Ruins follows this trope to the letter, taking almost exactly 20 minutes. And goes above and beyond when it comes to the "jerks" part.
  • Spoofed in Shaun of the Dead. The Zombie Apocalypse has actually started right from the opening scene, but no one notices due to either self-absorption, idiocy, or the fact that the zombies staggering around the streets aren’t incredibly different from everyday people doing everyday things, making it hard to tell the difference between a coffee-deprived nine-to-fiver and an undead monster or precisely when the former has become the latter. This also actually works to foreshadow both the main character’s Character Development and his at-that-point dormant potential and leadership qualities, as numerous times he notices something very odd and seems to be just on the verge of working out exactly what’s going on... only for something to distract him before it clicks and make him lose his train of thought. The first morning after the apocalypse is in full swing, the protagonist takes a casual stroll down a street littered with zombies to the corner shop for coffee and walks back without noticing a thing.
  • The Shining takes a long time for the actual rampage to start, but since you know it's coming, the tension itself becomes terrifying, which is really the point of the movie anyway.
  • Shrooms follows the students on their mushrooming expedition for a whole day, and establishes none of them as especially nice people.
  • In Skyline, the aliens take a long time to attack, and by the time they do the audience may be actively rooting for them.
  • Discussed as being part of the eponymous show's format in Slashers:
    Devon White: "The reason he didn't kill you, Megan, is because you're a cute little number. Besides, it was too early in the game, he had orders to save you for later. And now, they want us to get all friendly like, chat, so the audience can like us. Root for us. So when the fun starts, it won't just be pieces of meat they'll be cutting up, but twenty-year-old law student Megan Lowry from Seattle."
  • even though the movie's core plot begins and ends with the title, Snakes on a Plane spends a fair segment of the first act introducing a whole pile of stereotypical airplane passengers for the snakes to eventually threaten, only to give each stereotype a unique twist during the action.
  • Sorcerer, while being a remake (and unlike the original film), interestingly starts with twenty-five minutes of introducing its characters.
  • The remake of Sorority Row seem to try to make almost all the central characters so eminently hateable the audience is left rooting for the killer.
  • The Suckers is centred around a Hunting the Most Dangerous Game plot, but the hunt does not start until the 50-minute mark. The preceding time is spent watching the interactions of deeply uninteresting characters who have a lot of sex. The non-professional nature of the cast does not help.
  • Terkel In Trouble spends a lot of time establishing the characters in Terkel's life, despite the fact that the Narrator has already introduced us to his mother, father, sister, and best friend. As a result, a lot of the film before Terkal sits on the spider is Big-Lipped Alligator Moment after Big-Lipped Alligator Moment - songs, a pointless scene where Terkal gets spooked in the toilets (which only really serves to show how easily scared he is, something we definitely see firmer evidence of later on), a pointless scene where Terkal and his friend watch a gory horror film (which serves to establish how spineless Terkal is, which we see firmer evidence of later on), and so on. It's not until after the wedding scene half an hour in that the plot really starts, and once Terkal is doing things it's a lot easier to care about him.
  • There's quite a bit of character development for the cops in the original The Terminator, only for them to all die in the massive shoot-out halfway through the movie.
  • Terror in the Jungle (1968) is about a little boy who survives a plane crash in the Amazon rain forest. About the first half-hour of the movie is spent on the plane, bizarrely developing the other passengers (including a rock band and a woman who was just acquitted for the murder of her husband but is still widely thought to be guilty) who all either die in the crash or are eaten by alligators right after it. (One of the three credited directors posted his story on the IMDb; the producer was incompetent and pretty much making things up as they went along, causing two of the directors to quit and resulting in a wildly disjointed story.)
  • This Is the End: This review at says it.
    As the Rapture literally swallows people up, Rogen, Franco, and their actor buddies (all playing hideously hilarious versions of themselves) hole up in Franco’s Hollywood home, bickering and fighting and ultimately being forced to wonder if they’re even worthy enough to ascend to Heaven. It’s the first studio-backed summer movie where the whole point is to force the characters to ponder what assholes they’ve been.
  • Titanic (1997) is mostly a love story between two young adults separated by social class. This is the focus for the majority of the film, with the inevitable ship sinking happening during the climax.
  • Many Transformers fans accuse the Transformers Film Series of this with everyone who isn't Lennox or Epps. However, this is generally par for the course in the franchise. The sequels were even more slammed for this, Revenge of the Fallen getting the most flak (due to teenage angst over a long-distance relationship). Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction were moderately better received because the human drama was more about survival and friendship with the robots than strictly teenager problems.
  • The 2006 horror movie Turistas spends so long setting up the eponymous tourists' predicament (and, in the process, establishing how incredibly whiny, arrogant, and unlikeable they all are) that by the time the Mad Scientist shows up, it's surprisingly difficult not to think that breaking them all down and selling them for spare parts is really the best thing to do with them.
  • Twister shares half its plot with gigantic tornadoes and the other half with a divorced couple constantly arguing over every little thing before inevitably getting back together. And a smaller fraction devoted to the Hate Sink Jonas, because you need someone to boo, and can't really hate tornadoes (although part of the heroine's Backstory is that she does, so to speak).
  • Since it is a Found Footage Anthology, VHS has this trope six times. Sometimes the Developing Doomed Characters part of the story is longer than the actual horror part.
  • The first 40 minutes of The Wages of Fear are spent introducing us to a bunch of unlikable characters, four of which become part of the actual Suicide Mission. And none of them will survive.
  • Wolf Creek was praised by a lot of viewers for doing this well. The characters feel likable and realistic so that when the horror starts happening, the audience feels something. The bond between them is even important to the plot - Liz being close friends with Kristy is why she doesn't run off and save herself when she can.
  • Wrong Turn shows that good horror depends on character development: feature characters who are more or less unlikable, faced with horrors that one would not want to see inflicted on anyone.

  • It takes about 700 pages for the hero of Atlas Shrugged, John Galt, to show up. It takes about 400 pages for some of the instigating action to take place. That first portion of the book is taken up with introducing the characters, establishing just how bad the "looters" are, and setting the stage for their truly awful deeds.
  • The first half of The Great Gatsby is mostly composed of episodic chapters that serve to introduce us to the main characters. The actual plot is kicked into gear when Gatsby requests that Nick set up a private meeting for himself and Daisy. Arguably justified in that Fitzgerald is aiming to paint these characters in a negative light and does so quite successfully.
  • As pointed out in the film section, Stephen King can fall into this. Sometimes creating an Anyone Can Die atmosphere requires giving enough attention to everyone that they look like they could be the main characters - however, this means a good deal of pages are spent on the not-relevant-to-the-plot-in-any-way life stories of people who only exist to become Redshirts not too far down the line.
    • King himself acknowledged that he hardly ever plans out a plot for his novels or stories in detail (The Dead Zone is the most notable exception), preferring instead to place a group of characters in a situation and see what happens.
  • Jack McDevitt loves to do this, often interrupting the action to do so. In Moonfall, as a shuttle is doomed he takes a moment to give a minor character's back story - then he dies and isn't brought up again.
  • Harry Turtledove is noted for this, especially in his Timeline-191 series, where multiple characters are developed over several volumes only to be killed by random events (some of them quite mundane such as blood poisoning or heart attack), their deaths not affecting the plot in the least.
  • Dan Abnett does this a lot, especially in the Gaunt's Ghosts series, both with the Ghosts themselves to establish that Anyone Can Die and with one-off characters to humanize people who are about to die horribly, regardless of which side they're on.
  • Life of Pi takes around 70 pages to get to the shipwreck. Before then, Pi speaks at length about animal psychology, his upbringing, and his following of three religions.
  • The Goosebumps series can have some particularly interesting plotlines and villains, but the majority of a book usually focuses far too much on kids doing goofy things until the scary stuff happens.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory spends its entire first third establishing the legend of Willy Wonka, the Serious Business of the Golden Ticket contest, and the personalities of the five kids who find the tickets. That's a lot of important information, so adaptations generally don't get to the factory itself until the halfway point. In fact, the reason the 1971 film version's "Cheer Up, Charlie" is often a Cut Song in commercial TV airings is because the director thought Charlie's situation/personality was well-established by that point and wanted to pick up the pace, but he wasn't able to cut it from the theatrical release.
  • A Star Wars Legends horror novel Red Harvest spends several chapters on daily lives of students in the Academy where the outbreak of Zombie virus later happens. What makes it even worse than other horror examples is that it's a Sith Academy Every. Single. Character. is an Asshole Victim.
  • The opening chapters of the Peter Benchley novel Beast (essentially Jaws with a squid instead of a shark spend copious amounts of time detailing the lives of the long-time married couple sailing through the Caribbean—their courtship, children, etc. All for them to be killed by the squid when their sailboat sinks. Benchley does this with the other victims too.
  • Every book in A Song of Ice and Fire starts off with a chapter from the perspective of a doomed character. Later books sometimes end with similar chapters.
  • The third book of the Venus Prime series opens with Dare Chin, an assistant mayor of the colony on Mars, as he deals with paperwork, his troubled relationship with his girlfriend, and an asshole in the lobby who insists on "studying" a Martian relic. By the end of the first chapter, Chin is dead.
  • Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt series does this on a regular basis, but with a slight twist. Most of the novels center around some historical artifact or another. Cussler frequently dedicates a prologue to this artifact: how it got to be lost or what-have-you. Since these artifacts have been lost for decades or centuries all the people who were involved in putting it where it eventually winds up are inevitably doomed if only by the passage of time. A lot of them still die to murder or treachery though.
  • Perdido Street Station dedicates something like the first third to the troubles of a maverick arcane scientist named Isaac and his taboo relationship with Lin, a khepri (read: human with a giant beetle for a head) artist. We get to meet their friends, witness the social stress of New Crobuzon, and see relationship tensions develop that wind up only barely mattering because a caterpillar Isaac has been caring for turns out to be the unholy spawn of a xenomorph, Mothra and a mind flayer and proceeds to throw the whole thing into a horror plot with souls being eaten left and right.
  • Weird example from Re:Zero. Subaru and the audience remember everything, but all that character development every other character went through before every one of Subaru's deaths gets reset back to his latest "save point" - no matter how positive it was for them. Thus, "doomed" is only temporary in this case, but it spans multiple arcs across the series.
  • Neal Stephenson's Seveneves takes this to an extreme — the entirety of Earth is doomed, and we learn early on that it has about two years, tops, to live. Even as humanity as a whole puts all their hopes in a space-based Ark project, we know that seven billion people are dead men, women, and children walking. The first 300 or so pages of the book are spent building up to the destruction, and when the end finally comes it is crushing.
  • The first quarter of The Company Of Death is almost entirely spent with Emily and her squad preparing for the dreaded "Misson 12", the infiltration of a vampire commune by using three team members as bait. We see Emily interact with Ramon the squad leader, her friend Rosa, the Hot-Blooded Sherice, Daisy the merciless instructor, and Carlos, who's scared out of his wits after seeing Death with his own eyes. We get attached to this team as a family, each member having their own doubts and issues. When they stumble across a small travelling commune and they naïvely try to wipe it out − not expecting the vampires to use hordes of zombies as a defensive weapon −, mission 12 is aborted and absolutely none of them survive (they are even Killed Offscreen). Emily "survives", but as a sentient zombie and in the literal company of Death. That point also coincides with the book's relative tone shift, due to the sheer absurdity of the situation Emily finds herself in.
  • In Our Wives Under the Sea, there's something clearly wrong with Leah from the moment the story starts and she returns from her expedition. Much of the plot focuses on Miri losing her grip on her wife as Leah's body and mind slip away and she undergoes a strange metamorphosis. The story still develops Leah with flashbacks to her childhood, her job at the aquarium, some of her memories with Miri, and a full subplot about what happened leading up to the fateful encounter on the expedition.

    Live-Action TV 

In General:

  • Many documentaries that analyze disasters or crashes may do this with the people involved, serving to humanize what would otherwise be a brutal statistic or series of anomalies.
  • Standard operating procedure for TV mystery shows like Perry Mason and Murder, She Wrote. We're introduced to the eventual victim and suspects in order to establish why the person dies and why everyone wants him/her dead.
    • Cold Case in particular. The flashbacks spend a great deal of time fleshing out the Victim of the Week, to the point where the viewer can easily forget that he/she is already dead, and usually making them so likeable that the scenes depicting their death—even though this was established in the first five minutes of the episode—are shocking and gut-wrenching.

By Series:

  • Done cleverly in the 2005 adaptation of Bleak House, with the character Nemo. He is played by John Lynch and has several scenes in the first episode that give the impression his story will be developing alongside the other main characters introduced, so it comes as a bit of a shock to viewers new to the story when he drops dead at the end of episode one. This is in contrast to the book where he starts out essentially as a Posthumous Character.
  • Daredevil (2015): The last fifteen minutes in the first episode of season 3 are dedicated to introducing the audience to Ray Nadeem, and the factors that will lead to him becoming an Unwitting Pawn of Wilson Fisk, and eventually his death.
  • Dead Set. Partially justified as the story is set in a Reality TV Show Mansion and so the characters really are jerks, being the contestants selected deliberately to antagonise each other to make better television. However, this trope arguably works better for establishing affection towards the contestants (like Brainless Beauty Pippa, Wholesome Crossdresser Grayson, and Deadpan Snarker Joplin) than it does for The Determinator Kelly, for whom we are introduced to her love life, friends, work-related woes, Pointy-Haired Boss, celebrity friends, etc., long before she does any of the actual Determinating which makes her so awesome.
  • Doctor Who:
    • To veteran fans, "The War Games" is the one that introduces the Time Lords, establishes the Doctor as an alien, and ends both the Second Doctor's appearance and two very likeable companions... in the very last minutes of a ten-parter serial. That's more than four hours of interaction with villains and allies that end up brushed under the carpet.
    • It's a general rule in New Who that if the Doctor offers companionship to a guest character in the middle of an episode, while they're still in the midst of a dangerous adventure, then something Very Bad is about to happen to them. Examples range from a space waitress desperately wanting to see the universe turning into stardust to his own daughter/Opposite-Sex Clone seemingly dying in his arms after his initial resistance to her warmed and she expressed her desire to, you guessed it, see the universe. When the Doctor meets a nurse during a crisis and (only half-jokingly) tells Amy she's been replaced, Rory snarks that it's time to alert the poor woman's next of kin… and he wasn't wrong. Possibly the only time this doesn't happen is with the scientist lady in Doctor Who S36 E7 "The Pyramid at the End of the World", who does survive but still doesn't become a companion.
  • Three of Mystery Science Theater 3000's Netflix revival episodes deal with movies with this trope, frustrating Jonah and the Bots because the titular events don't happen until the very end of the movie.
  • The Poirot adaptation of Dumb Witness forces the audience to sit through 40 minutes of nothing but wall-to-wall upper-class twits bickering about breaking the water-speed record before the first of the resident jerks has the decency to die. And then Poirot wastes another half-hour attending séances and dicking around with the murder victim's dog before the next corpse shows up.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Iliad has numerous sections where Homer describes the name, ancestry, and personal history of someone who hadn't appeared in the story before he went into describing their background, and who die the paragraph (or sometimes sentence) after he finishes.

  • The premise of the "Dead Teenager" system used for the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town is to make characters (who in the game rules are specifically called "victims") that we care about just a little bit before they're killed by the villain.
  • When Film Reroll recreated Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, the DM decided to recreate the behavior of people unaware that they're in a horror film by convincing them they're actually playing an obscure sex comedy called "Summerspell". To help sell the illusion, each character was given secrets and objectives to complete, as well as a simple relationship-building mechanic. Jason appearing, and killing most of them in a short period of time, led the dead players to wonder if there was a point in keeping their secrets anymore.

  • The Survival of the Fittest 'Pregames'. A variation in that its purpose is to establish relationships and set up storylines for the island itself — as well as flesh out the characters.

  • The musical Jekyll & Hyde. There is no romantic subplot of any kind in Robert Louis Stevenson's original story, but thanks to Lost in Imitation this version has two. Early on there is a lengthy scene at Jekyll and his fiance Emma's engagement party (the Board of Governors members there, save for Emma's dad, will all be killed by Hyde by show's end); after that he pays a visit to a seedy nightclub and encounters performer/prostitute Lucy. Thus Hyde doesn't show up until about 13 songs into Act One. The show continues to focus more on the two women's relationships with the protagonist and his alter ego than his murderous rampage. Talk about a Romantic Plot Tumor!


    Video Games 
  • The Colonel's Bequest (and its sequel) opens up with a long list of unlikeable stock characters and their cliched interrelation dramas, affairs, blackmails, and so forth. You get points for discovering every little detail about these through spying on them; however, none of it matters even one bit as soon as people start dying like mayflies. By the end of the game, all of the cast except two are dead, and the only bit that the character can prevent (in the first game. The second has even less agency) is the identity of one of the two survivors.
  • This is the entire point of Crisis Core, to develop Zack Fair, the SOLDIER who wielded the Buster Sword before Cloud.
    • For the sake of the game's own story, Angeal is this to Zack. The original owner of the Buster Sword who bequeathed it to Zack after he was forced to kill him, just knowing he owns the blade at the start tells you all it needs to.
  • Bioware enjoys this trope:
  • Subverted at the beginning of Far Cry 3, where the story begins by showing a group of young rich kids joking around, drinking, and generally being insufferable...only for the camera to pan out and reveal it all as a movie being played on a smartphone, the owner of which is locked in a dingy cave, being taunted by the human trafficking pirate that's kidnapped them all.
  • HetaOni plays with this trope in that the development is largely done ahead of time in its parent series, Hetalia: Axis Powers.
  • inFAMOUS We have Trish, Cole's ex-girlfriend who turns her back on Cole after he is framed for purposefully unleashing the explosion that destroyed Empire City and inadvertently killed her Sister. While Cole can either patch things up with her or permanently burn the bridge based on your actions the choice is ultimately irrelevant as near the end she is kidnapped and put into a Sadistic Choice where he must choose a group of six doctors or Trish alone from dying, no matter the choice she is killed. The ending reveals Kessler (A.K.A. future Cole) had this purposefully planned to prepare Cole for a forthcoming danger he failed to stop, killing his own love to make sure he wasn't "tied down by emotions" when it happened.
  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War develops the entire cast for half the game, only for pretty much the ENTIRE PLAYABLE CAST UP TO THIS POINT to be brutally wiped out in a cutscene. The only thing that prevents a Downer Ending is the Tagalong Kids taking the conflicts where their parents left off to bring the story to a close.
  • Kingdom Hearts II's "infamous" Prolonged Prologue seems like this at first though the later games in the series subvert it by explaining why this Prologue was so important: Spend 40 minutes playing as someone who isn't the main character except that that someone is actually a split personality of the main character and his friend Axel goes on to become a major character through his own split personality Lea in the sequels.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Is a prequel that tells the tale of 3 doomed apprentices: Terra, Ven, And Aqua in their search for the missing Keyblade Master Xehanort, by the end of the game Terra is stripped of his body and his soul animates his armor to attempt to stop Xehanort from escaping, left stranded in the Keyblade Graveyard after. Ventus is used to complete an ancient weapon known as the "X-Blade" and in his attempt to destroy it has his heart damaged in a way that leaves him comatose. Finally Aqua does battle with possessed Terra and falls into the Realm of Darkness saving Terra's body which ends up becoming the "Xehanort" Sora would later face in the original two games in his Heartless and Nobody incarnations. While this ending also sets them up to hopefully be saved somehow by Sora in the Secret Ending it does not detract at all from the Hopelessness of this game's Darkest Hour and the fact that they are all still like this for 10 years before anything could be done about it.
  • Never Gives Up Her Dead: You are told very early on that Emrys is going to die at the end of the game. Still, the rest of it explores her relations with other people aboard the ship, along with exactly how and why she will need to die.
  • Quest for Glory V also does this. The game plot opens with a contest between five candidates (including the protagonist) who have to take a series of trials so that the best of them will become king. Most of the other candidates prove to be irrelevant as they end up dying in a way you cannot prevent, and the trials turn out to be irrelevant when the hidden enemy starts summoning the titular dragon. By the end of the game, you become king by virtue of having slain the dragon, and the whole trials are quietly dropped.
  • Thimbleweed Park introduces numerous characters with their own goals and subplots, then has an infamous Ass Pull plot twist near the end that renders all of these irrelevant.
  • Most of the first half of Ultima VII Serpents Isle is spent traveling through the three towns of Monitor, Fawn, and Moonshade, with lengthy plots in each one exploring their politics and relationship to both the Britannian and Ophidian virtues. Great effort goes into making you care about the Non-Player Character residents and sympathize with their problems. Then virtually everyone on Serpent's Isle gets slaughtered offscreen by the Banes. According to Word of God, it was the only way they could get the game on store shelves by the deadline. (Though the original idea amounted to everyone getting slaughtered onscreen by the Banes, who you deal with one at a time instead of all at once)
  • Whether Until Dawn plays this straight or subverts it depends on how good you are at the quick-time events (or whether you care enough to complete them to save the characters in question). With some effort, it's possible to get an ending where Everybody Lives.
  • The beginning of Xenogears does not even attempt to hide the doomedness of Fei's Doomed Home Town, but all the same the first couple hours are spent exploring the sleepy farming village of Lahan, speaking to its quirky inhabitants, doing tutorials and meeting Fei's friends and adoptive family. Thanks to the charming dialogue, colorful art design, and delightfully catchy background music, this works surprisingly well, so that when the inevitable catastrophe rolls around the average player will feel a genuine sense of loss.
  • The fact that Mirei Park of Yakuza 5 very suddenly starts trying to bond with Haruka, with the narrative attempting to make her more nuanced than just being Haruka's manipulative, cutthroat manager, is an indication she's not long for this world. Sure enough, she dies pretty much immediately.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Done with Pyrrha Nikos. She became one of the most popular characters in the show due to a combination of badass, Nice Girl (along with Dogged Nice Girl) and the Ship Tease she had with teammate Jaune Arc. She was killed off at the end of volume three, after which it was revealed she had been scripted to die from the very beginning.
    • Also done with General James Ironwood. He was a Four-Star Badass who commanded the entire Atlesian Military and suffered from PTSD following the Battle of Beacon which eventually led him to do a Face–Heel Turn against the heroes and eventually ended up Dying Alone in the city of Atlas after driving away his closest allies at the end of Volume 8. Following the release of the Volume, Miles Luna confirmed on a Cameo video that Ironwood was always planned to be a good person that eventually crumbled from the stress of the situation and became a villain which would end up leading to his death.
  • Wolf Song: The Movie, although largely plot driven, still allows for enough time to develop several characters, only to kill them off in brutal fashion. chronologically, the major deaths are: Zar, who after redemption faces Cobalt and gets torn to shreds as a result; Alador, who is repeatedly lacerated and bitten in an attempt made by Cobalt to get him to submit, only to die of his wounds; Arrow, who’s desire to avenge his pack leads him to confront the Big Bad himself and then get his back broken and his chest torn open ;and finally Damien, who decides to face the antagonist but has to step down due to injuries, only for the Big Bad to brainwash him. Unlike the others, he dies on his own terms, being reluctantly Mercy Killed by his own daughter.
  • Zero Punctuation: The trope is invoked by Yahtzee during his review of Until Dawn, who says the entire point of the cast of a Slasher Film is to see "twats get twatted".

  • Zoe's college friends fill this role in the Sluggy Freelance horror spoof "KITTEN." Surprisingly, about a third of them end up surviving (at least until KITTEN II), though only main characters Torg and Zoe escape without being mauled, going catatonic, or becoming Satan's concubine.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The Distant Prologue follows a sort portion of the life of various characters Just Before the End, and hints at what enables each of them to survive The End of the World as We Know It. The story's main timeframe is set ninety years later, which means that just about everyone from the prologue has died from old age, safe for a pregnant woman's baby. The trope is played with in that the main characters are their descendants and have Shared Family Quirks along with Strong Family Resemblance. Decisions made by their ancestors in the prologue are also shown to have an impact on their situation at the beginning of the story, keeping them from being completely irrelevant.
  • Trevor (2020):
    • We hear some friendly banter from the bulk of the medical team as they make their way to the autopsy room before all hell breaks loose.
    • In a non-verbal example, Colin’s wedding ring is purposely visible to the audience shortly before he becomes Half the Man He Used to Be.
  • The Watcher Of Yaathagggu features many characters who die within their introductory chapters, sometimes mere pages after (or during) their lengthy backstory exposition arcs.
  • xkcd proposes an alternative. And then later inverts it.
    • While there is not that much development taking place, there is also this.

    Web Original 
  • Noted in Atop the Fourth Wall's review of Trouble #1, in that the character's interactions map perfectly to characters being introduced to be killed off by a masked killer, with the unfortunate twist that no such killer ever appears.
  • The Stardancer series in the Chakat Universe, SO MUCH. For the uninitiated, this is one of the most dark, disturbing tales in the Chakat Universe, a tale of what is very nearly a first-contact worst-case scenario. Many characters are introduced, and even well developed, just to die in the chapter they appear in, but quite a few are around for multiple chapters, and in one case from the beginning, but are eventually Killed Off for Real, often in horrible ways such as having their escape pod crushed or being sucked into space.

    Web Videos 
  • This YouTube video makes good use of the phenomenon by adding a laugh track and musical cues from The Beverly Hillbillies to the pre-Jason scenes of Friday the 13th Part III.
  • The Auralnauts Star Wars Saga points out that, despite the space battles and lightsaber duels, the prequels are mostly walking and talking.
  • Bad Movie Beatdown: Film Brain and Welshy discussed this for Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning where Welshy refused to let Film Brain tell any of the victim characters' names, stating that they were just dead meat waiting to be slaughtered and should be treated as such by only being given numbers.
  • Everyman HYBRID has a weird take on this. At first, it looks like Marble Hornets-lite, with the Slender Man making painfully obvious background appearances while the cast talks about diet tips and workout routines. Then someone else wearing a very convincing Slender Man outfit shows up, and you find out that it was an in-universe ripoff that has now been gatecrashed by the real deal. The rest of the series is more dialogue-heavy than any other Slender-story on Youtube, but from that point on the characters are actually talking about relevant stuff.
  • The Nostalgia Critic cites this in his "Old Vs New: King Kong" video as a flaw of the 2005 remake — arguing that the backstory was nice, but an hour and a half watching jerks on a boat was simply too much.
  • Phelous hates these types of characters, particularly the cliche in horror of obnoxious teens who like to party! This is also why he often refuses to refer to characters by name.
    • His favorite character in Crocodile? Princess the tiny white dog. He very explicitly hated everyone else.
    • Especially called out in Cabin Fever where Phelous notes that by making the Jerkass so much of a jerk you not only don't care about him but lose sight of the other characters because you're just wondering when and how the jerk will die.
  • Unskippable mocks video games that start out with five-to-ten minutes with jerks before pressing buttons starts to matter.

    Western Animation 
  • At the start of the first episode of Invincible (2021), we see the Guardians of the Globe in an action sequence that wasn't in the original comic. At the end of it, we see the various members of the team during their everyday lives: Red Rush is trying to console his girlfriend on a date because of her issue with the fact that he'll often dash away to stop supervillains in the middle of conversations, War Woman is an Honest Corporate Executive, Martian Man is friends with a young girl who is clearly very poor and possibly homeless, Darkwing is apprehending criminals, Green Ghost is doing a photoshoot, The Immortal is defeating a supervillain, and Aquarius is bored. All of them are called away from what they are doing to take care of an emergency. And then they are all brutally killed by Omni-Man.

Alternative Title(s): Twenty Minutes With Jerks