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Dramatic Chase Opening

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"Help, we're being chased by the title logo!"
"Frank Pollard wakes up in an alley at night, filled with confusion and fear. He knows nothing but his name, and that he must escape fast, or else he will be killed. Pursued by a mysterious assailant, Frank barely escapes with his life."

It's dark, and possibly rainy. The faint streetlights get reflected on the small puddles on the street. A shadow appears on the brick wall, and a foot disturbs the reflections: Someone's running, possibly wounded but always unarmed, and he's desperate to find somewhere to hide. The same puddle is stepped on by two or more armed agents, or perhaps an unseen terror. A few moments later, the scene comes to a conclusion, and the Opening Credits roll.

The Dramatic Chase Opening is more than just a Chase Scene: It's specifically Played for Drama, and designed to introduce the good guy and/or the bad guy(s) quickly. The circumstances strongly favor the pursuers: The pursued person has no vehicle; the illumination is poor; the weather can be foggy, snowy or raining. If the chase is in the streets, it's often played in a ghetto filled with dark alleys (bonus points if the chase continues in the sewers). The person being chased could be a civilian with an average or bad physical condition. Since it's the beginning of the movie/series and Anyone Can Die, a Broken Heel has a stronger effect on the viewer. Visual effects can include Chiaroscuro to evoke a Film Noir look and feel.

To increase the drama, the victim often looks vulnerable: Scared to death; always underpowered and outnumbered; little or no experience in hand-to-hand combat, or otherwise at great disadvantage (i.e. wounded or with just a few bullets left); and very probably the last survivor of an evil experiment Tested on Humans, an ethnic cleansing, or the witness to a crime. Frequently it's a child, a Damsel in Distress, or someone carrying a young child. In a school setting, expect The Woobie to be chased by a Gang of Bullies. It could also be a common burglar fleeing justice or something worse.

The Dramatic Chase Opening doesn't necessarily need to the the first scene in a movie or series. It can be delayed a couple of scenes so we get a brief intro on the victim or hero.

Possible scene endings include, but are not limited to:

  • He is shot and killed (common in Crime and Punishment Series)
  • He is shot and survived
  • He found somewhere to hide
  • He gets rescued by a partner
  • He gets rescued by someone else (common in martial arts movies)
  • He gets rescued by something else
  • He gets killed by something else (common in horror movies)
  • He gets captured
  • He falls off a cliff and dies
  • He is thrown off a cliff and dies
  • He falls off a cliff and the bad guys think him dead
  • He finds a vehicle, turning this into a high speed chase.
  • He finds a weapon or mysterious device to survive
  • He is the weapon (see Mugging the Monster)
  • and so on...

(Note that this trope does not apply when the chase is a vehicle pursuit, e.g. the Star Wars: A New Hope beginning pursuit. That belongs to a different category.)

Subtrope of Action Prologue (itself a subtrope of Cold Open) and Chase Scene. Can lead into Pursued Protagonist (a Chase Scene where the protagonist gives an item or message to the real Hero), but not always. Can overlap with Broken Heel and Blind Alley.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • A Certain Magical Index has several examples of this.
    • The first scene of episode 1 shows Touma being chased by a gang of crooks, before he narrates a brief summary of his unfortunate life.
    • In episode 10, we see Misaka well, one of her clones trying to snipe a level 5 criminal. When she fails miserably, she panics and runs away a few blocks, but he's already blocking her exit, and he's got an evil grin on his face.
  • In episode 1 of Season 2 of A Certain Scientific Railgun, we have a crook running away from Kuroko (a Judgment officer agent) right before he's captured.
  • AKIRA has a mutant child running away from the military until he has a high speed collision with Tetsuo.
  • The Big O episode "Hydra" begins with a female agent of the Union being pursued through the streets of Paradigm City by members of the Military Police.
  • The Birdy the Mighty OVA starts with an evil alien running away (and taking Tsutomu as hostage) before being confronted by Birdy.
  • Bleach anime
    • The little ghost girl in episode 1 is running from a giant Hollow. Just when she trips and falls, Rukia appears and vanquishes the monster.
    • Episode 260. The episode starts with Shuhei Hisagi running through a forest being pursued and attacked by his rogue zanpakuto spirit Kazeshini.
  • In Blood: The Last Vampire, an old man in a subway is pursued by a mysterious girl holding a Katana, just as the subway lights begin to flicker. He runs wagon after wagon until he's cornered and finally killed. Turns out he was a vampire in disguise and the girl's a vampire hunter.
  • Darker than Black opens up with a Contractor (a superpowered human) being chased by a bunch of cops. This being the first time the officers had seen a Contractor, they are no match for him.
  • The Durarara!! anime episode "Anarchy" starts with Anri desperately running away from members of the Yellow Scarves gang and trying to hide in an alley.
  • Innocent Venus is such a textbook example that it was used for the trope image. Venus and her older companion are running away from a totalitarian government, first in street alleys, and then in subway tunnels. They're about to get killed until a mysterious hero comes to the rescue. The scene includes puddle splashing, Twisted Ankle, Convenient Decoy Cat, and underground chase.
  • Mnemosyne opens with Rin, wearing nothing but an unbuttoned dress shirt (and glasses), being chased over the streets, a stairwell, and a rooftop before finally getting killed by Laura. This is used to establish both Rin's immortality and the gory and sexy style of the series.
  • Occult Academy begins with an agent being chased by a monster in the middle of the forest under a full moon. The flying monster is about to catch him when he gets to a teleport gate he just requested via cellphone. The teleporter receives... his right arm.
  • The manga adaptation of Rebuild World opens with Akira sprinting to the Kuzusuhara Ruins, all while evading other hunters who either wanted to take the pistol he found or anything of salable value.

    Comic Books 
  • The entire Sin City series opens with a dramatic chase as a SWAT team tries to bring Marv in for a murder he didn't commit.

    Film — Animation 
  • Aladdin starts his movie running from the guards of Agrabah after stealing a loaf of bread.
  • Disney's The Fox and the Hound opens with a mother fox and her kit being chased by hunters. The mother hides her child (our hero, Tod) and leads the hunters away, eventually being shot dead.
  • Another Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, opens with a band of gypsies being led into a trap and Quasimodo's mother being pursued on horseback by Judge Claude Frollo. She is killed by a concussion and her baby, Quasimodo, is about to be killed too when the Archdeacon convinces him to raise the little boy as his own.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Body (2012) opens with a night guard fleeing from some unknown danger. He ends up run over by a car.
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens with Defender Strange accompanying America Chavez to the Book of the Vishanti as a demonic monster chases after them. After Defender Strange is killed, America hops to the "main" universe.
  • Enola Holmes 2: The film begins with teenage girl Enola making a mad dash to escape the cops through the streets of London. She then takes the viewer back to when the whole adventure began.
  • Hard Target opens with a homeless veteran being persued by a group who offers wealthy men the chance of Hunting the Most Dangerous Game.
  • The opening chase with Trinity and the agents in The Matrix.
  • The movie The Neverending Story has a brief intro before this. Then the chase scene ends up with Bastian seeking refuge in a bookstore and finding the Neverending Story book.
  • Common for James Bond movies, as seen in Octopussy (where an 00-agent is on the run from the knife-throwing twins-he fails) and Quantum of Solace (Bond tries to outdrive QUANTUM agents on his heels-he succeeds).
  • In the Italian movie Padre Pio, an agonizing Pio starts narrating his life. The first scene in the flashback shows him as a child running away from the devil - who took form of a Hellhound - and taking refuge in a church.
  • In the 1926 Our Gang film Shivering Spooks has two kids, Farina and Skooter caught between being chased by cop and armed crook.
  • In the 2009 film State of Play, a thief is fleeing through Washington, D.C. and is shot by a man carrying a briefcase. A pizza delivery man who witnesses the incident is also shot by the killer and is left in a coma.
  • One of the main characters in The Terminator has to evade police almost as soon as he appears in the picture.
  • The opening of Trainspotting shows a later scene with two of the characters, Renton and Spud, running down the street dropping the items they've stolen.

  • The Bad Place begins with Frank awakening in an alley with no memory of who he is or why he's there. If that wasn't enough to make him uneasy, he instinctively feels that he's in danger; there's an eerie whisper in the wind and strange, half-forgotten thought about "Fireflies in a windstorm" accompanying it. Frank begins his escape down the alley shortly after stealing a car he's attacked by a powerful entity that starts tearing the car to pieces with an unseen force. This initial chase makes up Frank's first few chapters of the back, in between chapters setting the main protagonists Bobby and Julie Dakota.
  • Blood Rites of The Dresden Files opens with Harry being chased by demonic chimps that fling incendiary poo.
  • Firestarter starts with Andy and Charlie chased by the Shop agents in New York. The movie replicates this, only transferring the scene from New York to Washington, D.C.
  • The opening chapter of Book of the New Sun is one of these.
  • The Angel Experiment opens this way, with Max getting chased by Erasers (half-wolf, super-strong men). Turns out it's All Just a Dream.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: It has been known to open with Buffy running away from vamps, but it's always to get somewhere private so she can stake them without an audience. Subverted in that we already know who's going to get killed.
  • CSI: NY has an episode that opens with Mac chasing a suspect inside a building. Mac gets knocked down a flight of stairs, setting up the episode’s premise of Mac being stuck at home watching stuff in the next apartment building over while he recovers.
  • The Equalizer: The intro is a collection of dramatic chase openings, but they're so many that they get switched before the actual chases begin.
  • In Helix, the opening scene of the pilot takes place in a Research, Inc.. It intercuts the slow, walking pursuit of Hazmat Suit-clad lead scientist Dr. Hatake and head of security Daniel Aerov with the panicked running of research scientist Dr. Peter Farragut, infected with The Virus and presumably escaped from isolation, barreling down hallways and trying to hide in a lab, only to be dragged off screen by a fellow infected. Hatake and Aerov eventually discover a prone, exhausted Peter a short distance away from two infected human corpses.
  • The opening of the first episode of the BBC Mini Series Neverwhere has Door badly injured and running from Mr Croup and Mr Vandamar.
  • Probe's "Computer Logic": It's late at night and David Hofstadter is being chased by someone with control of electronic devices; neon lights flicker on and explode, power lines crackle with electricity, and traffic lights show green for all traffic.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Return of The Archons": It starts with Lieutenant Sulu and another crewman running from some pursuers in a city street. Sulu contacts the Enterprise for an emergency beam-up but the Enterprise crew takes too long and Sulu is affected by one of the aliens' weapons. The other crewman gets away, but is later caught and affected as well.
  • The prologue of Stranger Things, in which a scientist is desperately running through the empty hallways, trying to escape from something. When he gets inside the elevator we hear a sound from above him, and then an unseen being pulls him up...
  • The Torchwood episode "Ghost Machine", starts with a running chase across Cardiff.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021)'s first episode, "Leavetaking". After Moiraine's Opening Monologue about the Dragon, the scene cuts to a man being chased by the Red Ajah.

    Video Games 
  • The very first chapter of Astral Chain opens up with the protagonist in a police motorcycle en route to an emergency scene, using their weapons to clear out hostile alien entities that used to be humans along the way.
  • Dragon Quest XI begins with monsters attacking the kingdom of Dundrasil and the queen running away with The Hero and a young girl, while being chased by monsters.
  • Flashback: The Quest for Identity starts with the camera focusing on the feet of the fleeing protagonist and his captors. This is followed by a flying bike chase.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time starts with Link's Prophetic Dream about Zelda fleeing from Ganondorf.
  • Mega Man Zero starts with Ciel and her La Résistance running away from the Neo Arcadian troops to a secret lab which contains the sealed Zero.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity starts with the player character having a vision of a Munna (a small, cute and not fully evolved Pokemonémon) being pursued by a Hydreigon (a very powerful and intimidating Pokémon). Subverting the normal expectations with this trope, the Munna turns out to be a villain trying to manipulate the protagonist into helping her and the Hydreigon turns out to be one of the heroes.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon opens with Lillie, carrying Nebby, being pursued by Aether Foundation employees.
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within starts with the Prince running away from the Dahaka.
  • Resident Evil – Code: Veronica begins with Claire Redfield being introduced as a prisoner of Umbrella and knocked out. As she loses consciousness, it fades back to earlier in the timeline, with Claire having infiltrated an Umbrella lab and subsequently escaping from their security forces in a chase scene.

    Web Animation 

  • The beginning of Monty Oum's Dead Fantasy has Yuna being pursued by Kasumi and Ayane.


  • Tower of God begins with main character Bam chasing his childhood friend Rachel and stops her by roughly pinning her to the floor. When she manages to escape the world they live in by entering the Tower, he vows to follow her till he dies. Actually pretty creepy in hindsight.

    Western Animation 
  • Jonny Quest
  • Pluto's Judgement Day begins with Pluto chasing a cat into Mickey Mouse's house and making his floor dirty, causing Mickey to scold the dog for being mean to the cat, and therefore prompting Pluto to have a nightmare about him going to Hell.
  • The Secret Saturdays episode "Guess Who's Going to be Dinner?" starts with Fiskerton running through a forest while being threatened by dangerous plants. It turns out to be just a game he's playing with Zak Saturday.
  • The first season finale of Young Justice opens with Red Arrow on the run in the subway from The mind controlled Green Arrow, Flash and Aquaman despite getting a brutal beating, he is able to use a passing train as cover to escape.


Video Example(s):


Enola in London

The film opens with Enola being chased by cops. She then explains to the viewers how she ended up there.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DramaticChaseOpening

Media sources: