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First-Episode Twist

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The first installment of a new series ends on a shocking reveal. Only problem is that said big surprising twist may have already been spoiled for latecomers...because it goes on to be the very premise of the series. The series itself spoils its own first episode.

The way to tell if something qualifies as a First-Episode Twist is that it may be hard (and, in many cases, impossible) to accurately describe the series without completely ruining any of the suspense or setup that occurs during the first episode. Conversely, a first-time viewer who doesn't know the premise could be genuinely taken aback by the unexpected development. Think of how the first book of Twilight tries to build tension around the question of Edward's mysterious identity. The reveal could be an actual surprise twist for an unknowing reader, but anyone who has heard the series described in any way already knows it... note 


A First-Episode Twist also has to be treated as an actual twist by the episode. It's not a twist if we meet a mysterious new character and then it turns out he's The Protagonist, or the seemingly ordinary kid turns out to be The Chosen One, or the protagonist starts out Too Happy to Live and suddenly things go bad. That's just standard plot setup, as all first chapters have. On the other hand, if the first episode makes us believe that new character is The Hero, but then it turns out he's the villain, now we have a reveal that could be spoiled...and probably is, on the cover.

This is most common in plot-driven series, although it can occasionally be found in the pilot episodes of premise-based series.

For a literary example to qualify, the twist should take place within the first few chapters (or the first book in a series), or else it becomes just a regular plot twist. In media such as manga or comic books, the practice of Writing for the Trade might mean the twist does not take place within the very first issue; but to qualify, it should still be very early in the work.


First-Episode Twists are prone to being ruined by trailers or opening credits for the series. As a result, some shows use a truncated opening sequence, or even forego it all together in the first episode in order to avoid this.

If there are Powers in the First Episode, this becomes exponentially more likely. Same for First Episode Resurrection.

Sub-trope of Late-Arrival Spoiler, where the twist occurs later than the first episode, but is still similarly spoiled by becoming a central point of later installments.

Related to:

Don't confuse with:

  • It Was His Sled: The twist is widely known through overexposure in the culture at large, not because it's early in the story.
  • Mid-Season Twist: Just a regular twist, not a first episode one.

This is a spoilers trope, so consider yourself warned.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Blue Flag: Chapter 5 reveals that Touma is in love with Taichi and implies that Masumi is in love with Futaba, turning the plot so far on its head.
  • At the end of the first episode of BNA: Brand New Animal, Michiru reveals to Shirou that she used to be a human.
  • Naruto is one of the most famous anime/manga examples. The protagonist has a nine-tailed fox sealed inside him, and this is revealed as a surprise in the very first episode, where Naruto himself learns about it for the first time.
  • Gantz: The first time reading or watching the story, the audience is just as clueless as to what's going on as the characters themselves are. As the characters learn more, so does the audience. Therefore, if you go into it knowing that characters are brought back from death to be sent on alien hunting missions for points, which is the entire premise of the story and happens to the two male leads in the first episode, then you already know more than you're supposed to.
  • Shakugan no Shana, the first episode reveals that the hero, Yuji Sakai, is Dead All Along. His existence was long-devoured by a Crimson Lord, killing him. Now he is a "Torch," a false person created with the existential residue which helps maintain the balance of the world by burning out slowly rather than vanishing all at once. What kind of Torch (and which specific kind of that subtype) he is is also revealed quite soon (at the end of the first story arc), and keeps the story going, since him burning out would most likely end the story, or at least change the genre.
  • Flame of Recca. The fact that Recca has flame-based abilities isn't revealed until the end of the first episode, then goes on to drive about half of the plots in the series. The remaining plots are driven by Yanagi's abilities that are revealed in the same episode, albeit a bit earlier.
  • Mazinger:
    • Mazinger Z: Kouji's grandfather gets assassinated in the first episode. Shortly before dying he reveals to his grandsons that he was secretly building a Humongous Mecha.
  • Most covers of Now and Then, Here and There spoil the fact that it's a Grim Dark war story rather than the generic shonen action-comedy it appears to be in episode 1.
  • The first episode (and chapter, for the manga) of Fullmetal Alchemist sees us discovering that Edward Elric has two prosthetic 'automail' limbs and that his brother Alphonse is a disembodied spirit bonded to a suit of armour. We are also treated to several extremely transparent 'hints' regarding the crime they committed in the first place: trying to bring their mother back from the dead. For the rest of the series this information is commonplace and, in many cases, paramount to understanding the plot.
  • Fruits Basket looks like a normal shojo manga for most of the first chapter/episode...and then Tohru manages to turn Kyo into a cat. The next chapter/episode explains the Sohma curse and how Kyo, Yuki, and others transform into animals of the Zodiac upon being hugged by the opposite gender. More specifically, it is very difficult to describe any of the characters' personalities without also revealing the various traumas and abuse they've undergone (or inflicted on others).
  • Code Geass:
    • Within the first episode we are introduced to the Geass, and by the next it's revealed that not only are Suzaku and C.C. still alive, but that Lelouch is a dishonored prince of Britannia, points which are, needless to say, central for the rest of the series.
    • Geass actually had two- in the first episode of R2, which, due to the new evening time slot, got quite a few additional viewers compared to the first season, the fact that Lelouch is Zero isn't revealed until the end. It's a pretty big reveal to those who haven't seen the first season, and amusingly, it comes as quite a surprise to Lelouch himself.
  • Ratman takes place in a world where superheros are a common occurrence. The main character is Shute, a boy who dreams of one day becoming a hero. Naturally, he becomes an Ascended Fanboy. The twist that needs to be explained if one wants to understand the actual premise and main plot of the series at all, and is even explained on the back of the books even though the initial story avoids any major tipoff? A crime syndicate tricks Shute into becoming their personal Anti-Hero. Hilarity Ensues.
  • School Days: Most of the first episode (and a good chunk of the next three) are taken up by Sekai trying to get Makoto and Kotonoha together. Then she kisses him at the end, kickstarting the Love Triangle that drives the rest of the series.
  • Plastic Memories starts with protagonist Tsukasa joining an agency dedicated to "retrieving" androids who are approaching their expiration date, after which they will malfunction and go haywire, and being partnered with the cute female android Isla. It looks like a standard "Retrieval of the Week" format...then The Stinger for the second episode reveals that Isla's own lifespan expires in a few months, and the rest of the anime mixes the retrievals with Tsukasa and Isla's tragically-doomed Mayfly–December Romance.
  • Monster opens with Dr. Tenma finding his calling in life after saving a young boy, only to reveal not much later that the boy grows up to be Johan Liebert, the titular Monster.
  • The first episode of Princess Tutu opens with Ahiru (which means "Duck" in Japanese, and is translated as such in the dub) having a dream that she's a bird, but waking up to be a human. She insists in her introduction that she's just a girl that happens to be named after a bird, but by the end of the episode she remembers that she really IS a duck, and her human form was just a magical disguise.
  • Both the Higurashi: When They Cry anime and manga do this. In its first episode (or first chapter) it resembles a quirky, everyday high school series, with the male lead surrounded by several girls, but ends with said male lead discovering the town's dark secret and the resident Cloud Cuckoo Lander holding a cleaver over his head. The manga is even better at this as it has an ominous intro but the anime just straight up shows Keiichi bashing Rena and Mion to death at the start.
  • The original television run of the first episode of Super Dimension Fortress Macross had a cobbled-together opening designed to hide the fact that the fighter planes are, in fact, Transforming Mecha.
    • Also the Space Fold that occurs in the third episode. The fairly convoluted plot of defending South Ataria island against the Zentraedi fleet suddenly stops, and a new status quo is established (the Macross, not the island, is the main setting) which never quite changes for the rest of the series.
  • Koshiro and Nanoka from Koi Kaze are siblings who haven't seen each other in years. They don't realize this until their father meets up with them at the end of the first episode...after they've already gone on their first date.
  • Darker Than Black: The fact that Li Shenshung is a bit more than he appears isn't clear until the middle of the second episode, and exactly what he can do isn't clarified until around episode 6. Li is the alias of Hei, a.k.a. "The Black Reaper," a contractor, spy, and assassin with electricity-based powers. Oh, yeah, and that black cat we keep seeing in the background? It can talk.
  • In Fairy Tail we have both that the guy casting Charm in the port city and then throwing a party on his boat is not a member of Fairy Tail, and that Natsu, the man with the most-easily-induced motion sickness ever, is a member of Fairy Tail. Comes as an initial surprise in the manga, but the latter part is spoiled by the anime's opener.
    • Three, in fact, if we count that he also is the real salamander, which the fake member said to be.
  • In Chrono Crusade, the cute little boy is really a Demon. Almost everyone that watches or reads the series these days knows this going in (and any summary will spoil it), but it's actually hidden until the second chapter/episode of the series, with the first only showing that he has strange powers
  • The Vision of Escaflowne. Hitomi gets taken to the world of Gaea at the end of the first episode. When this originally came out in Japan as can be seen in early VHS fansubs, it left off the opening credits on the first episode, just to keep this a real surprise.
  • Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry: the main character is a happy girl who idolizes her awesome big brother and gleefully awaits her graduation alongside Those Two Guys and the Dogged Nice Guy. At first. Neither her friends, her brother's sanity, or her own mental health survive the first episode.
  • Saikano: Chise is the Ultimate Weapon. The first episode of Saikano didn't even have any titles, with the name of the show only coming onto the screen after The Reveal of Chise standing in front of Shuji in the middle of a ruined city with wings and a minigun where her right arm should be. If you didn't know anything about the series (including what the title meant) before you started watching, it was genuinely shocking.
  • Dragged out for a little bit longer than one episode, but in Bokurano, the fact that the current pilot of Zearth will die after a battle is not revealed fully until episode 4 (volume 2 of the manga). This fact becomes the major element of the rest of the series. This is masked by having the first pilot disappear, and the second one seems to die for unrelated reasons.
  • Pokémon: The Series' Third-Option Adaptation of the games (Ash's Starter Mon being Pikachu, the former Trope Namer) is of course one of these.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: At the end of the first episode, it turns out that the guy going around killing people under the name of "Battousai" is not the legendary assassin. That goofy, red-headed wanderer carrying a Reverse Blade Sword that Kaoru had dismissed earlier, on the other hand...
  • The first two episodes of Hetalia: Axis Powers has Germany's search for the "mighty" descendent of the great Roman Empire end with the discovery that he is in fact the weak, stupid Italy. The rest of the series has Italy latch on as Germany's ineffectual ally, who Germany tries in vain to teach to be competent.
  • Dragon Ball has an interesting case, where Chapter 197 (or episode 155 in the anime overall) drops the bombshell that Goku is an alien from another planet who was originally sent to conquer Earth, only to receive a head injury which resulted in him becoming a gentle soul. At the time this was a swerve as massive as learning that Goku had a son only a few pages/minutes earlier. Why is this example here instead of in It Was His Sled? In the anime series, this was covered as the second episode of Dragon Ball Z, which is the most popular installment of the franchise by a wide margin; especially outside Japan, where the franchise didn't even become popular until Z was first aired, and the ViZ adaptation titled that half of the story with Z as well.
  • Episode 1 of GaoGaiGar reveals that Tagalong Kid Mamoru Amami is actually an alien brought to Earth by Galeon.
  • School-Live!'s first chapter presents itself as a fairly normal Slice of Life Schoolgirl Series. Then it turns out that the main character is delusional and it's set in a Zombie Apocalypse. The anime adapted this by padding out episode 1 with cute scenes of her at school with slight foreshadowing something is wrong, only to pan out to a ruined classroom near the end.
    • Even though the work’s page on this very wiki warns readers not to so much as scroll down to read the description of its premise before watching the first episode, the twist is so essential to describing anything that happens in the series that there is a good chance that anyone who discovered the series by clicking on the page has already been spoiled by the entry the wick led from.
  • It can be fairly hard to explain the plot of Death Parade without spoiling the first episode's reveal that Quindecim is in the afterlife; the couple we met was Dead All Along, the bartender is an arbiter of souls, and the games are created with the sole intent of judging whether someone goes to "heaven" (of rather, receive reincarnation) or to "hell" (being sent to a void for all of eternity).
  • The first chapter/episode of Tokyo Ghoul has the main character Kaneki going on a date with Rize, who is revealed to be a ghoul when she attacks him. She dies and her organs are transplanted into Kaneki, which turns him into a ghoul.
  • At the end of the first chapter of World Trigger its revealed that Osamu Mikumo, the teenage boy who got his ass kicked by some bullies earlier in the chapter, is actually an agent of Border (a military organisation designed to fight aliens) and that Yuma Kuga, the mysterious boy that he was defending earlier from said bullies, is actually a Badass Neighbour (AKA one of the aliens Border was built to fight).
  • Attack on Titan: Eren's mother getting eaten by a titan, to the point where it's revealed in some official descriptions of the show.
  • In the first chapter of The Promised Neverland, we're introduced to a secluded orphanage lead by a kind caretaker. Once the children reach the age of 12 they leave to be adopted by a family. Emma finds out that the orphanage is actually a meat farm for monsters who prey on humans.
  • The first chapter and episode of Haikyuu!! sets up Kageyama as Hinata's rival that he'll have to overcome sometime in the future, only to reveal the twist ending where the two end up going to the same high school and are now teammates on the same volleyball team.
  • In Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, Ledo has accidentally rediscovered Earth That Was. The second episode quickly establishes that the planet is entirely ocean, which is why everyone lives in ships.
  • The first episode of Princess Principal is the 13th case chronologically, establishing the protagonist team's style of operation, their personalities on the job, and the grittiness of their work. The second episode is the first chronological case, and contains the reveals that the two leads made a Prince and Pauper switch ten years ago, the Pauper-turned-Prince(ss) in the scenario is only in the team so they can help her go from fourth-in-line to rightful Queen, and since they're the only ones in the know about their identity-switch secret, all of their loyalties gain a few extra layers.
  • By the end of the first chapter of Snow White with the Red Hair it has been revealed that the helpful fellow traveler Shirayuki met in the woods is actually a prince and second in line to the throne of Clarines.
  • In Simoun's first episode Amuria, who was being set up as the hero of the story, dies as a result of attempting the Emerald Ri Maajon, and Aer is sent to replace her. Those facts, plus Neviril's Heroic BSoD over that, has a significant impact on the plot.
  • Zombie Land Saga manages to pull it off twice during its first episode. The cold opening sets up the show as being your typical Slice of Life Schoolgirl Series, with main character Sakura's narration being abruptly ended when she gets hit by a truck as soon as she leaves her house. Then after spending the next seven minutes appearing to be a zombie Survival Horror where Sakura learns she's one of the undead herself, the loud and brash Kotaro strides into the scene declaring that Sakura and the other zombies will be a new idol group, finally revealing the show's true identity as a wacky Horror Comedy idol series.
  • Valvrave the Liberator went to great lengths in all of its promotional material to portray the main robot as a white and red gunslinger samurai, like just about any other generic Gundam clone. As soon as the robot's activated, its white paintjob turns black, its swords open up into scythes, the pilot is turned a vampire, and you realize you're in for an entirely different sort of show.
  • Much of the plot of the first volume of Accel World involves Kuroyukihime being stalked by a rival Brain Burst player, Cyan Pile, who's trying to claim a bounty on her. While Kuroyukihime is convinced that it's Haru's childhood friend Chiyu, Haru refuses to believe it, and seeks to prove that Chiyu isn't Cyan Pile. Much to Haru's shock, Cyan Pile is his other childhood friend, Taku, and the climax of the volume involves Haru unlocking his Duel Avatar's power of Flight, defeating Taku and convincing him to join Kuroyukihime's legion. Since Taku's often shown among the heroes, and it's fairly well known that Haru's Duel Avatar, Silver Crow, can fly, these twists won't be much of a surprise to anyone who's heard about the series before.
  • In Jinzō Konchū Kabuto Borg VxV, Big Bang is the villain persona of Taiki Amanogawa, making him the Archnemesis Dad of Ryūsei. This is revealed as a surprise at the end of episode 1, where Ryūsei himself and his friends learn about it for the first time.
  • In Yuri is My Job!, the end of the first volume reveals that Mitsuki Ayanokouji, the one person who isn't won over by Hime Shiraki's cutesy façade, is actually Mitsuki Yano, Hime's former friend from elementary school. It's almost impossible to talk about Mitsuki's character without mentioning this fact, and the second volume's summary makes no secret of the fact that Hime and Mitsuki knew each other.
  • Pretty Cure: By the first few minutes of each incarnation's first episode, it's easy to know which girls will join the team during the first half and what their Cure forms are because of the opening credits that play after the first few minutes. It's also spoiled anywhere from a day to a week prior, as merchandise revealing information about the new series will be released during the period of the prior series' finale to the day before the new series begins.
  • Another Bandai franchise, Cocotama, also does something similar by releasing toys of the characters before the Legendary Cocotama Caretakers get them on the show and showing these characters with the caretakers in the opening and ending themes. Kira Kira Happy Hirake Cocotama was notable for having its' toys released a month before the show began as a result of a "best of" series playing in between Himitsu no Cocotama and Hirake! Cocotama.
  • PriPara: The main plot is set off by the fact that Laala cannot perform in the titular world because she is an elementary schooler and her school bans it. By the end of the episode, Laala becomes one after finding Mirei's lost PriTicket bag.
  • The first chapter of Otona Ni Natte Mo sets up Ayano Ookubo and Akari Hirayama as the apparent main lesbian couple, before revealing that the former has a husband at the end of the chapter.
  • The first episode of Cross Game seems to set the story up as a love triangle (as well as a baseball story) as sisters Aoba and Wakaba both have a crush on protagonist Ko. The episode spends its runtime establishing a fun dynamic between the three of them...only for the episode to end with Wakaba's death by drowning. It's then that we discover that the REAL theme of the story isn't a love triangle, it's about Aoba and Ko growing up while trying to process the death of someone who was very special to them (but also there's still baseball.)
    • Only counts as a first episode twist in the anime; in the manga, Wakaba remains alive for several chapters before perishing at the end of volume one.
  • The first episode of Penguindrum focuses on Himari's recovery from her serious illness, and suggests happy relationship times in the future. When Himari suddenly dies at the end of the episode, it's shocking and Played for Drama, especially since she's heavily featured in the credits and marketing. Then she comes back to life due to a magical hat, a twist that is essential for the rest of the plot.
  • My Hero Academia begins with Izuku Midoriya, who is part of the Quirkless, people that lack a special power, yet he wants to be a Hero. Then he meets All Might, the greatest Hero of the time, learns his secret...and All Might offers to give him his Quirk. All Might's past, the secret behind the Quirk and Izuku's drive to learn how to use his Quirk drive a good part of the story.
  • Still Sick is the story of two coworkers- Shimizu and Maekawa- the former of whom is secretly a doujinshi author. At the end of the third episode, Maekawa's former editor meets her and reveals that Maekawa is a published manga artist who is on hiatus, a fact that is very important to Maekawa's character arc.
  • Deca-Dence has its first episode play the show off as a standard After the End action series, following a plucky young girl who wishes to fight alongside other soldiers to protect what remains of humanity, only for the final scene to be a shot of small technicolor beings viewing the whole thing. The next two episodes go on to reveal that during the apocalypse, a Mega-Corp gained ownership of what remained of humanity and turned Eurasia into a hybrid wildlife preserve and MMORPG before leaving the planet in the hands of the cyborgs they created; the soldiers are remotely-controlled avatars controlled by the cyborgs, humans are none-the-wiser NPCs, and the monsters were actually created for the purposes of the game (the real cause of the apocalypse was an ecological disaster). The aforementioned plucky girl's teacher also turns out to be one of these cyborgs.
  • The first chapter of Ayakashi Triangle introduces Matsuri and Suzu, Childhood Friends strained by the former's profession as a ninja exorcist, who are menaced by the malicious spirit Shirogane. The story seemingly reaches a conclusion with the two reconciling as Shirogane is sealed away, but Shirogane suddenly decides to sabotage their chances of falling in love by turning Matsuri into a girl. The advertising hid almost any hint of this, going as far as to exclusively show Matsuri in his male form, not the female form he'd be in for the rest of the series.
  • The pre-release marketing for Wonder Egg Priority was extremely vague and not entirely descriptive of its plot or characters, simply describing it as being about lead character Ai finding an egg that'll grant her a wish, and potentially making new friends. You could be forgiven for not expecting it to open with a non-linear structure that reveals one of them is dead from a suicide, and that Ai must find more eggs to battle their traumas and save the rest from their own deaths.
  • Ore wo Suki Nano wa Omae Dake Ka Yo sets itself up as a generic harem anime about an Oblivious to Love Nice Guy protagonist and his childhood friend and his senpai on the student council at the beginning of the first episode. Then his two prospective love interests sit him down on a bench to confess that they’re in love with...his best friend, and want him to play matchmaker for them. The tantrum that the protagonist privately throws afterwards reveals him to be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who tried to invoke the harem genre but picked up mixed signals. And then a plain-looking schoolmate approaches him while he’s figuring out how to matchmake his friends and confesses that she knows about all this because she’s a Stalker with a Crush on him, and can spill his secret plans if he doesn’t spend time with her.
  • The manga The Teacher Can Not Tell Me Love is about about a poor high school student and his Stern Teacher who is especially harsh on him due to his low grades and part-time job that goes against school policy. The twist kicks in when he arrives home after a rough day, finds her waiting for him, and it is revealed that they are actually dating.
  • The first chapter of While Cross-Dressing, I Was Hit on by a Handsome Guy! (and the chapters are only about 5 pages long) reveals that the "handsome guy" is actually a bifauxnen. Becomes a Spoiler Title with the new translated title, Handsome Girl And Crossdressing Boy.

    Asian Animation 
  • Nana Moon: Keke doesn't find out the alien world she's found is actually the moon until the end of the first episode, when Princess Amy tells her. Sure enough, the shocked Keke immediately looks up to find Planet Earth clearly visible in the sky.

    Audio Plays 
  • 36 Questions starts with a few quick voice memos that establish that the main character is named Natalie, she is engaged to her fiancé Jase, and she occasionally uses her phone to record audio from moments of her life she wants to remember. Then we get a time-skip, followed by "Natalie" revealing that her name is actually Judith Ford, and she has been lying to Jase about her identity from the moment they met.

    Comic Books 
  • At the end of the first issue of Thunderbolts it was revealed that the heroes, who were portrayed as noble replacements for all of the Marvel Universe's fallen non-mutant heroes, were actually villains in disguise.
    • Marvel was planning on releasing a monthly comic about Spider-Woman during the events of Secret Invasion, with the ending of the first issue revealing that Veranke, the Skrull Queen, was impersonating her. The comic was delayed several months with the reveal happening in the main mini-series instead.
  • The Origins comic book miniseries detailing Wolverine's untold origin introduces Dog, the son of Thomas Logan (a gruff, violent groundskeeper with Wolverine's trademark mane and the last name that has been Wolverine's assumed name for a long time) and doesn't reveal who Wolverine is until issue 2 when sickly boy James Howlett pops his claws to kill Thomas. Since then, James Howlett, or at least "James", has been his real name in the main comics and in various other adaptations including X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
  • Amazing Fantasy #15, and any other media adaptation of Spider-Man's origin story: Uncle Ben's killer turns out to be the same burglar Peter allowed to escape, making his inaction indirectly responsible for Ben's death.
  • Earth 2: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman die fighting off the parademon invasion, which makes way for the true premise and characters of the series.
  • The first issue of Touch follows Punch-Clock Hero Rory Goodman and his manager, Cooper Santiago. The issue ends by revealing that Santiago gave Rory his powers, and he takes them back when Rory's Hair-Trigger Temper becomes too expensive. As he searches for Rory's replacement, the story doesn't try to hide that Santiago is the real meta-human.
  • Ultimate FF has four members, just like every permutation of the Fantastic Four — until the end of the first issue, when a fifth member joins: Victor Van Damme, aka Doctor Doom.
  • The final page of issue #1 of Black Magick reveals that Detective Rowan Black is not simply a Wiccan, but has actual magical powers.
  • Midway through the first issue of Batman: Last Knight on Earth, it's revealed that the "Arkham Asylum" that Bruce Wayne woke up in was actually created with the use of Toyman's tech by a now-elderly Alfred, that this "Bruce" is really a clone given the original's memories, and that the original Batman is in part responsible for the world's post-apocalyptic state.
  • Ms. Marvel (1977): Carol Danvers, last seen a few years prior in Captain Marvel, has gotten a new job in New York, and meanwhile there's a new superhero in town called Ms. Marvel. Surprise! Carol is Ms. Marvel...but she doesn't know this. At this point, Carol Danvers and Ms. Marvel are two separate personas.

    Fan Works 
  • The whole conceit of the All Guardsmen Party stories is that a gaming group thought they were going to be playing Only War, a Warhammer 40,000 spin-off RPG about soldiers on battlefields, only for their first play session to end with their characters getting requisitioned by the Inquisition to play Dark Heresy, a compatible RPG about secrets and subterfuge. The rest of the series is about how well a bunch of trigger-happy grunts take to the Inquisitorial lifestyle and apply their simple approach to problem-solving to the secret war for mankind's soul.
  • Anthropology: It is revealed after a few chapters that Lyra is a human. It can be hard to recommend the story as the pony-on-Earth fic it is without spoiling.
  • In the first story of the Facing the Future Series, Sam gets ghost powers of her own and becomes Danny's new partner, setting up the rest of the series.
  • My Hero Playthrough: Izuku discovers he has a power that makes him similar to a videogame character. Enthusiastic about testing it, he takes a different turn at a critical point...and Bakugo dies because this change leads to him getting killed by the sludge villain.
  • The Petriculture Cycle: The first story, Petriculture, ends with the reveal that Pinkie Pie is essentially Twilight Sparkle's childhood Imaginary Friend summoned into reality by accident. The rest of the cycle is fueled by the ramifications of that revelation.
  • In the superhero game, the sequel to one day at a time, the first chapter ends with The Reveal that Kon-El/Superboy has just been sent back in time like Jason.
  • For all that goes on in the sequels to The Three Sisters, it's impossible to talk about without spoiling the original story's revelation that Rarity is not only a changeling, but the younger sister of Queen Chrysalis.
  • The Reaping of Hatsune Miku: The title initially comes across as Wolverine Publicity concerning the most famous Vocaloid, as the first seven chapters have the viewpoint character be Megurine Luka, with Hatsune Miku being her quietly kindhearted partner who Luka bonds with throughout the Reaper's Game. Then Chapter 8 reveals that Luka was Miku's best friend, Luka is Back from the Dead, and Miku is not.
  • At the very end of the first chapter of Legend of the Monkey God, Bulma is turned into Sayian by a wish that could be interpreted in multiple ways. Do note that this is happening during the very first arc of the original Dragon Ball.
  • Someone listening to the first episode of Sporadic Phantoms without knowing the premise would figure out early on that the show is about a conspiracy theory rather than environmental scandal, but it's not until The Sharing is namedropped that it becomes clear the show is set in the world of Animorphs.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The time travel aspect in Back to the Future was a complete surprise to test audiences in 1985, since the first fifteen minutes of the film seem like an Eighties teen movie (albeit with a quirky scientist as a side character). Naturally, time travel is more than a bit crucial to the trilogy as a whole.
  • The Bourne Series: Jason Bourne is an ex-assassin who used to work for the CIA until he grew a conscience on his last mission.
  • Child's Play: the original script pushed back the reveal that the possessed Chucky doll could move independently until the end, with the audience being left to suspect the murderer was Andy. In the finished product, only the first murder (Andy's babysitter) is left ambiguous as to whodunnit.
  • The Fast and the Furious (2001) opens with a trio of tricked out Honda Civics hijacking a tractor-trailer (one of several). Then we cut to the seemingly unrelated plot of hotshot street racer Brian Earl Spilner and his interactions with veteran Dominic Toretto and his crew. It's shortly revealed that Spilner is actually undercover police officer Brian O'Conner who's investigating the truck hijackings and later revealed that Dominic and his crew are behind them. The sequels present themselves as crime stories with heavy automotive action and Spilner's/O'Conner's true identity is firmly established.
  • The Matrix: The world we know is a computer simulation run by machines. The film's relatively low-key marketing presence in its debut helped to keep the twist under wraps but with the big imprint the Matrix has made on pop culture and reality/philosophy debates, the cat is out of the bag.
  • Saw: The Serial Killer Jigsaw is the guy lying on the floor of the room, assumed to be dead. He's also the guy who's played by Tobin Bell that appears in flashbacks to Laurence's hospital. Every other installment is up front about him as the main villain.
  • Terminator:
    • The fact that its title-character is a time-traveling cyborg and its reasons for targeting all women named Sarah Connor, to prevent the birth of her future son, John Connor. Then there's the entire Stable Time Loop that the first and second film sets up regarding Kyle Reese being John's father and the Terminators being both the precursors to Skynet (both directly as agents and indirectly when Cyberdine builds upon their remnants) as well as things Skynet invented in the future.
    • The sequel makes an early spoiler/twist out of the second Terminator of the same model being the good guy and the new face being the bad guy, not another resistance fighter. It's difficult to tell in retrospect that they were trying to keep a lid on the idea that Ah-nuld is supposed to be the good guy this time around.

  • In Addicted, Ryke Meadows is revealed to be Loren Hale's half brother in the first of ten books. It's nearly impossible to discuss anything about the characters without bringing up this fact, and is considered common knowledge in the fandom.
  • Angel of Death: The fact that all liches must consume human souls to stay alive is a plot twist in the first entry. It's also an important part of the series' premise.
  • Animorphs: Jake's brother, Tom, is a Controller, something revealed about halfway through the first book and a major factor in his character arc. Even more so with Tobias becoming a hawk nothlit—it happens in the last few pages and it's impossible to describe anything about him in the rest of the series without mentioning it.
  • The eponymous hero of John Connolly's Charlie Parker Series of supernatural detective novels begins to develop psychic powers from the first book onward. A big twist in that the book was marketed as a straightforward crime novel; impossible to miss the later on you get in the series.
  • Codex Alera: The end of the first book reveals that the apparently brain-damaged slave Fade is actually the legendary swordsman Araris Valerian, generally believed dead. This, in turn, serves as strong foreshadowing towards the series' biggest reveal regarding protagonist Tavi, which isn't formally revealed to the reader until late in the third book.
  • Try to explain the premise of the Destroyermen series without spoiling the twists in the first novel...or even at the end of the first chapter for that matter. Honourable mention goes towards the skull aboard the first Grik ship captured.
  • Discworld: One of the reveals of Men at Arms is that Angua is a werewolf. Treating this as a spoiler makes it fairly difficult to say anything else about her.
  • In the first book in Feliks, Net & Nika series we find out that Nika is an orphan with psychic powers and that Madfred is not the case of A.I. Is a Crapshoot. It's hard to talk about the next parts without mentioning these elements.
  • In Fifty Shades of Grey, Christian Grey is revealed after a hundred pages as secretly practicing BDSM and wants Anna as his sub. This is the first book of a trilogy.
  • In Gone, the first book reveals that various characters get supernatural powers, something not revealed for a number of chapters, which then goes on to become immensely important through the rest of the series.
  • Griffin's Daughter: Jelena is the title daughter. "The Griffin" is the ring Jelena carries, a keepsake from her late mother which turns out to be a copy of the White Griffin, a magic ring traditionally worn by the king of the Elves. Family members in the direct line of ascension wore non-magical replicas (The one Jelena owns belonged to King Keizo, when he was still the Crown Prince). The prolog itself establishes Jelena's elven father is a member of the royal bloodline, but which one is a secret until the end of the first book. Her paternity becomes a Late-Arrival Spoiler in the latter two books.
  • Betrayed, the second book of The House of Night reveals that Neferet, the protagonist's kind, wise mentor-figure, is actually the Big Bad. It is very difficult to describe the main story arc without revealing this. Which is a pity, as the relevant reveal was enjoyably unexpected.
  • The Last Werewolf: The narrator, Jake, is not the last werewolf. The title belongs to his Love Interest, Talulla, who isn't even introduced until more than halfway through the first book. It's impossible to read even the most vague blurb about the second and third books in the trilogy without realising this.
  • It’s hard to talk about the plot of the books besides The Wishing Spell in The Land of Stories stories without revealing the main characters’ father is from The Land of Stories and their grandmother is the Fairy Godmother.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Bilbo's ring is an Artifact of Doom. Of course, this one practically verges on It Was His Sled now.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • Gardens of the Moon, the first book of the series, combines this and Decoy Protagonist and gives both a good rattle. It's difficult to describe the plot of the novel to newcomers without mentioning that the closest thing identifiable as a protagonist at the beginning gets knifed within pages of taking on his commission as Captain of the Bridgeburners. Fortunately, and similarly spoilerific, he survives, but it's immensely important for the further plot progression.
    • Similarly, Deadhouse Gates, the second book in the series, introduces a new setting and as soon as Chapter 5, Sha'ik, leader of the Whirlwind Rebellion, is shot in the head on the brink of starting said rebellion. Seeing as the rebellion still is led by a seer named Sha'ik until its end, this comes as quite a shock to anyone not in the know.
    • Also, House of Chains in the same series gives us the new character Karsa Orlong, who is revealed to be Toblakai from Deadhouse Gates at the end of the first of four sections in the book.
  • Michael Vey reveals in the first book that Taylor had a missing twin sister and that Michael's bullies, Jack and Wade, become friends with him.
  • In The Parasol Protectorate, Alexia Tarabotti gets married at the end of book 1, and learns she is pregnant at the end of book 2. Given that the main plot of book 3 involves her trying to prove she could be pregnant by her allegedly sterile husband, it's nearly impossible to describe without giving away the plot twists of books 1 and 2.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: the premise, that the gods of Classical Mythology are still around and producing demigod children, takes a few chapters to be revealed. Even then it's a while before Percy finds out which god is his father. (Poseidon.)
  • Project Hail Mary is about a lone astronaut working in the Tau Ceti system to find a way to keep Earth's sun from being blacked out by alien bacteria. The appearance of an intelligent alien working on the same problem only happens a quarter of the way through the book and dramatically changes its trajectory.
  • Try to explain anything about Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series without mentioning that in the first book main character Eugenides turns out not to be a street urchin from Sounis but a member of the Eddisian royal family. It gets worse in book two, when Eugenides winds up married to the queen of Attolia. Good luck describing book three without giving those away.
  • In the first Scarlet Pimpernel the Pimpernel's true identity is a big twist, but descriptions of the series as a whole can't really avoid mentioning it.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Daenerys Targaryen being the Mother of (Three) Dragons is such an important part of her character that it's hard to believe that her acquiring dragons is probably the biggest plot twist of the first book, A Game of Thrones, as it happens in the epilogue. In fact, dragons being part of the story at all. In-series, dragons have gone extinct for over a hundred years, and some people have come to regard them as a myth; the three dragon eggs that Daenerys receives as a wedding gift are seen as just that, a wedding gift.
  • In A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes novel, Dr. Watson spends the best part of the first two chapters trying to figure out the mysterious occupation of his secretive roommate. Eventually he learns the surprising truth... but we won't give it away in case you're one of the few people on planet Earth who could possibly be surprised by learning what Sherlock Holmes does for a living!
  • In The Spirit Thief, it's hard to discuss Mellinor without bringing up the fact that it's not just the name of a kingdom, but also the name of an inland sea that once occupied its space and whose spirit resides within Miranda and aids her from the second book onward.
  • At the end, it's revealed that Richard is the illegitimate son of the villain, Darken Rahl, a revelation that becomes central to the plot, world-building, character development and conflict resolution of nearly every book afterward. Also, Zedd turns out to be his maternal grandfather.
  • Tasakeru: Hanami is a mage with the power to grow anything, anywhere.
  • Temeraire: His Majesty's Dragon ends with a twist about Temeraire's breed: he's not, as was assumed, a rare Chinese Imperial, but is actually a Chinese Celestial, a breed so rare they're only given to emperors. Much of the plot of the other books hinges on this, and even when it doesn't, there's frequent mention of Temeraire's Divine Wind, an ability found only in Celestials.
  • In The Terrible Two, Teacher's Pet Niles being the school prankster is revealed not too far into the book. It's the first of a planned series, so it will be pretty hard to avoid mentioning that he's the second main character. The cover practically gives it away, since he's one of two characters featured on it, and it's called "The Terrible Two". Hmm, I wonder who that could refer to? The official website doesn't even bother keeping it hidden.
  • Twilight: There is a mysterious boy named Edward in Bella's class who seems to be keeping some secret about his identity. Much of the first half of the first book is spent with Bella trying to figure out what the secret of the Cullen family might be. Of course, any suspense there might have been is spoiled by knowing anything at all about the entire premise of the series...He's a vampire.
  • Due to being in first person, the protagonist of Ward is revealed at the end of the first chapter to be Victoria Dallon, formerly known as Glory Girl in Worm. Considering the last time readers saw her she had been suffering a Fate Worse than Death with little hope of recovery, this was quite a shock. Once more of Ward was released, however, it became impossible to talk about the serial without knowing who she was.
  • Whateley Universe: Erik Mahren has an explosive burnout and turns into an artificer. Admittedly this isn't the first episode (It doesn't even happen until around the third story with Erik's viewpoint), but you try explaining any of the Eldritch stories without revealing this.
  • The Wheel of Time: Rand is the Dragon Reborn. This is revealed at the end of the first book and it is very difficult to talk about the premise of the series without mentioning this.
  • Woodwalkers: Andrew Milling is the Big Bad of the series and wants to avenge his family. This was revealed at the end of the first book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • AJ, the nine-year old title character from AJ and the Queen, acts like a misogynistic, rap-loving street rat during the first episode. The end of the episode reveals AJ's a Tom Boy disguised as male to appear tougher.
  • Alias begins with its hero Sydney working for a department of the CIA known as SD-6, with a fiance named Danny and an unknowing father named Jack. Over the course of the first episode, Sydney admits to Danny that she's a spy, and SD-6 murders him, SD-6 is revealed to be not the CIA as she and most of its other agents believe but a Nebulous Evil Organisation, Jack is actually a member of SD-6 and a double agent for the real CIA, and Sydney joins him as a double agent, initially to avenge Danny's murder. This then sets up the real initial status quo for the series, which practically all publicity for home video releases and reruns makes clear.
  • The first episode of Andi Mack has Andi's adult sister Bex moving back home, whereupon Andi is shocked to learn that Bex is actually her mother and the people she's been calling Mom and Dad are actually her grandparents. Most of the drama going forward revolves around the fallout of this revelation and Andi's efforts to track down her biological father.
  • Promotional materials of Avenue 5 portray Captain Clark as a competent and heroic leader, suited for dealing with emergencies. The first episode reveals he's actually a congenial, but completely useless, actor hired to entertain passengers, with the actual captain dying before we even see his face uncovered.
  • Band of Brothers's first episode deals with the men's training in Toccoa under Drill Sergeant Nasty Herbert Sobel. It's not until the end of the episode that we discover Sobel is Kicked Upstairs thanks to his incompetency. David Schwimmer being part of only two episodes would give that away.
  • Blood Drive: Aki, Christopher's partner in Contracrime, is actually an android built by Heart Industries, with a different Aki model kidnapping him at the end of the episode and experimenting on him in subsequent ones.
  • Boardwalk Empire: The random chubby thug that Jimmy Darmody makes small talk with in the pilot is a then unknown Al Capone. The two masked guys that hijack the convoy in the opening scene are Al and Jimmy.
  • The first episode of The Boys (2019) hypes up Homelander as the Big Good and the Token Good Teammate of the Seven. The final scene reveals that he's anything but, and his status as The Heavy makes him one of the biggest antagonists throughout the series.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • This show is very difficult to describe without including the fact that Walter is diagnosed with cancer in the first episode.
    • However the show manages to make it a Subverted Trope with the first scene of the pilot. Most people know that Walt "breaks bad" and starts cooking methamphetamine before they watch the series, and expect the first scene of the pilot, with its intense action to be a flashforward to a much later part of the series, even the final scene. However that scene is reached well before the end of the pilot, and the series progresses far past that point. Even if someone has had the plot completely spoiled for them, the first scene of the pilot would still throw them for a loop (unless one of the main things they remembered was Bryan Cranston losing his hair).
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: The fact that Captain Holt is gay is treated as a surprise reveal for both the characters and the audience in the pilot. As it's often referred to in later episodes, it becomes this for anyone who missed the pilot.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Jesse McNally's death. He's initially set up to seem like one of the main characters (Joss Whedon even wanted to include him in the opening credits, but didn't have the budget to make an alternate version) but is killed halfway through the pilot.
  • Charmed (1998):
    • The first episode has Piper dating a man called Jeremy. He looks like he's set up to be her love interest, until he's revealed to be a warlock and therefore the first enemy the Halliwells have to vanquish. Him not being part of the main cast would make this twist a little more obvious to new viewers.
    • The Season 3 premiere introduces a District Attorney Cole Turner as a potential love interest to Phoebe. Then it's revealed he's a demon. A huge part of his character is Phoebe's love swaying him from his mission.
    • Season 4 introduces a new character played by Rose McGowan right after Prue is Killed Off for Real. It's not until halfway through the premiere that she's revealed as their half-sister — and therefore a potential Charmed One. There's also genuine doubt as to what side she'll choose when she gets her powers. Naturally Paige being a series regular for five more seasons would give this away.
  • Crash Zone: The first episode is all about the question: which of the five kids gets the job? The second episode likewise has a lot of tension about the fate of Virgil. All of these characters end up becoming regular protagonists.
  • Crisis: In the very first episode, the apparently mild-mannered and inoffensive Francis Gibson turns out to be the mastermind of the hostage-takers.
  • CSI: In the first episode we are introduced to new CSI Agent Holly Gribbs, the show makes it seem that she'll be one of the major players in the series, only for her to be shot and killed on assignment by the end of the first episode.
  • Dark Blue: The first episode revolves around trying to pull main character and team member Dean out from a long undercover gig, with no idea if he's still loyal to the badge or become his criminal undercover persona, until the bust at the end when he kills his target in the line of duty.
  • Dark Matter: The main characters, a group of amnesiacs who use numbers as names because they can't remember their given ones, are the people who were coming to wipe out the mining colony, not the people who were supposed to bring the colonists weapons to defend themselves with as they assumed. "The Raza" that the colonists fear have been hired by Ferrous Corp to exterminate them is not a race of scary alien mercenaries like they think, but the name of the main characters' ship. With the exception of Mysterious Waif Five, the crew are all notorious criminals with long rapsheets recovered from the ship's database at the end of the first episode. Dealing with this information and how to redeem their criminal pasts forms the premise of the show from then on.
  • Death in Paradise: Camille, who seems to be a random thief and a major suspect, is actually an undercover police officer and becomes The Lancer to Detective Poole. The opening makes this pretty obvious though. Speaking of which, the fact that Pool's assistant for the pilot isn't in the opening and isn't in any later episode gives away that she's the Killer of the Week.
  • Deception (2018): Superstar magician Cameron Black has a twin brother, Jonathan, who's been kept secret from the public to help Cameron with his illusions. When Jonathan is framed for a woman's death, the secret is exposed to the world. Notable in that none of the promos for the show hinted at this although the series opening explains it to the audience.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Susan and her doctor grandfather are time travellers from another planet, and the Doctor steals Ian and Barbara away in his time machine the TARDIS so they wouldn't tell anyone.
    • Also, many serials had a surprise twist at the end of their first episode (usually the reveal of the villain/alien/monster) that were central to the rest of the story. These are almost always spoiled by the DVD cover now.
      • "Earthshock" is a standout; back in the day the title was ambiguous enough that people didn't know what the story was about, who the villains were, and they were hiding behind proxies and standins and the climax of the first episode revealed that The Bus Came Back for the Cybermen, who hadn't been seen in over a decade! Nowadays it's known as the one where the Cybermen kill Adric.
      • This is most obvious with serials where the Master was the villain, particularly during Anthony Ainley's tenure. Since the Master was a Master of Disguise, he'd spend most of the first episode or two in heavy makeup and they even used a pseudonym for Ainley in the closing credits. Now he's on the cover.
    • For example, it wasn't until the second episode of the second serial we got to meet the mysterious inhabitants of the mysterious apparently deserted city on a planet covered with radiation. They're called the Daleks. And that serial is now named after them.
  • NBC's Dracula reveals at the end of the pilot episode that Dracula and Van Helsing — traditionally portrayed as archenemies — are in this interpretation working together against the Order of the Dragon.
  • Firefly:
  • Friday Night Lights has star quarterback Jason Street get injured and paralyzed during the first game of the season, ending his promising football career.
  • Fringe: The pilot is about a young FBI agent trying to save the life of her partner/lover after his infection by a bioweapon by recruiting a Mad Scientist and his son. Of course it all turns out to basically be a "Shaggy Dog" Story, she saves him only to have him die in a car accident ANYWAY, be revealed to be a double agent and play a bit of a posthumous role in a few later episodes but be mostly forgotten with the assembled team taking over as the focus.
  • Game of Thrones: Much like its source material, the twist that much of the subsequent plot of the show hinges on occurs early on with the reveal of Cersei and Jaime Lannister's incestuous relationship at the end of the pilot, which Bran is pushed out of a window for discovering.
  • Get Smart: The pilot included Max meeting for the first time his unnamed contact 'Agent 99'. The surprise reveal that she was a hot chick and Action Girl loses a lot of impact for anyone who knows anything about the show after that.
  • The Good Place: The first episode surprises us by revealing that Eleanor Shellstrop is accidentally in the "wrong" place. Later episodes build on this to make it even clearer just how wrong her place is.
  • The Handler: The first episode of this short-lived show has the handler assign his new recruit to investigate a gang leader. When it seems like she's in over her head, he comes in and reveals that the gang leader is another of his agents and it was only a training exercise. The agent posing as the gang leader is another regular. This revelation works better due to the fact that the agent posing as the gang leader is played by a virtual unknown, Hill Harper, who isn't that unknown anymore.
  • Heroes: We find out at the end of the pilot episode that HRG is Claire Bennet's father and that she is adopted. Their relationship becomes one of the most prominent running story arcs throughout the series.
  • How I Met Your Mother: In the pilot, Ted meets and begins a long relationship with Robin; at the end, narrator Future!Ted tells his kids "And that's how I met your Aunt Robin." In other words, she is not the mother of the title.
  • Jericho (2006): The last shot of the pilot is a view of mushroom clouds, setting up the series for survival in a post-nuclear-apocalypse America.
  • All of the advertising for The Last Man on Earth made it seem like Phil, the protagonist, was the only living human on the planet, and the entire series would be a one-man show. Then, at the very end of the pilot, Carol is introduced, and subsequent episodes would go on to introduce more and more characters.
  • Life on Mars (2006): This show is about a police detective who is struck by a car in 2006 and wakes up in 1973. If you were one of the very lucky few not to know the premise of the show before you sat down to watch the first episode, then the sequence in which this happens was one of the most surprising "Wait. What? WHOA!" moments ever, transforming what initially appeared to be a rather uninspired by-the-numbers cop show into an intriguing Ontological Mystery.
  • Lost:
    • The first (unseen) appearance of the monster about halfway through the pilot made it clear that there was much more to the island than it seemed, which set the stage for the rest of the series.
    • Originally, the writers were planning on having another twist in the pilot, casting a big-name actor as Jack (they specifically had Michael Keaton in mind) only for him to be a Decoy Protagonist and a Dead Star Walking to show that Anyone Can Die. Jack instead became one of the main characters.
  • Mad Men: At the end of the first episode, Don Draper, who starts off the episode by spending the night with a woman he has a relationship with in the city, is characterized by gossips throughout the ad agency he works for as a womanizer, and later attempts to charm a female client who he meets for dinner, returns to a home in suburbia where he greets his wife and two children. There'd been no indication throughout the episode that he was married.
  • The Mandalorian's first episode was said to have a "massive spoiler" for the Star Wars universe before it even premiered. It turned out that the title character adopts a baby from the same mysterious species as Yoda, who is being sought by the Imperial remnant. Under George Lucas there was an Executive Veto over giving any firm information about the species, and its only other canonical member is another powerful Jedi named Yaddle.
  • The Man in the High Castle: In the pilot episode, Joe Blake is a young American adult who has been living under Nazi occupation for several years when he decides to join the underground resistance. By the end of the episode, it's already revealed to the audience that he's really a Nazi spy attempting to infiltrate them.
  • M.A.N.T.I.S. keeps the title hero in shadow for the first half of the pilot, suggesting he could be another character who is very physically fit, while wheelchair-bound industrialist Dr. Miles Hawkins is a shady industrialist with his own agenda. Then Dr. Hawkins applies the M.A.N.T.I.S. suit to himself, revealing that the suit enables him to walk on two feet.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Simply put: #CoulsonLives! — which is revealed by the first scene of the pilot, the briefest of teasers/trailers for the same, and the fact that the series happens at all.
    • Promotional materials of Loki (2021) imply that the show's premise is about Alternate Timeline Loki (from Avengers: Endgame) being arrested by the TVA and recruited to fix the damage he caused by stealing the Tesseract and creating a new timeline. In reality, the first episode reveals that not only does this Loki get arrested and the branching timeline pruned within a short few minutes after his escape, but he is recruited by Mobius and the TVA to hunt for another, more malicious alternate version of himself.
  • The Messengers, Joshua finds out his pregnant wife had an affair with his father and thus their unborn baby may be his brother. The end of the pilot also reveals that the man who fell on earth is Satan.
  • Million Yen Women: The series of opens six months into the situation that was imposed upon Shin: living with five women he doesn't know because someone invited them to do so. However, there are a few strange details about Shin himself that seem to have nothing to do with his unusual living arrangement, such as him getting harassed via his fax machine and treating it a normal occurrence, handwriting his stories while living in twenty-first century Japan, and refusing to kill the characters of novels he writes. At the end of the episode, it turns out that his father in on death row for murdering his mother, her lover and a policeman. The series being a Psychological Thriller, this fact inevitably becomes an integral part of the plot.
  • A Minute With Stan Hooper has the titular reporter travelling to a small town where he spends the rest of the series and meets Pete and Lou Peterson, who own a local store. He decides to interview them, thinking they're brothers who went into business together. Near the end of the interview, the Petersons reveal they're actually a married, gay couple. They also become series regulars and their homosexuality is not kept secret afterwards.
  • Mister Ed: Ed doesn't talk until halfway through the first episode, at which the talking comes off as a surprise. And he didn't give his "Hello, I'm Mister Ed" greeting until after the first few episodes.
  • Modern Family: This show was initially advertised as being about three separate examples of "modern" families: a typical suburban nuclear family-of-five, headed by Phil and Claire; a newlywed interracial couple, Jay and Gloria, with a large age gap, raising the wife's son together; and a gay couple, Cameron and Mitchell, who'd just adopted a baby. The end of the pilot revealed that they were all one big modern family: Jay is the father of the Claire and Mitchell via a previously-unmentioned first marriage. It is impossible to watch any subsequent episode of the show without picking up on this very quickly.
  • Nikita: Alex is set up throughout the first episode as a possible main rival to Nikita, a girl in the same position she was once in as she's recruited by Division to stay out of jail. At the end we learn that she's working with Nikita, as her agent inside Division.
  • In the first episode of The Noddy Shop, Kate and DJ discover a mysterious box and decide to open it, revealing goblins that unleash chaos in the shop, and it also contains dolls of Noddy and Big Ears. Both of these also get spoiled in the opening theme before they actually happen, with Noddy appearing at least twice and the goblins appearing as Gertie sings about them. To make matters worse, in North America, Noddy is the title of the show itself.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Emma is the daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White. Throughout the first episode, it's also left up in the air as to whether Regina's Storybrooke counterpart is as evil as the Enchanted Forest one — as she's presented as a concerned but well-meaning stepmother. The end of the episode has her taking the gloves off, as she becomes the antagonist of the first season.
    • The Season 3 premiere has Henry finding a Lost Boy played by Robbie Kaye, who appears to be trying to escape from Peter Pan and the others. It's not until the end of the episode that he's revealed to be Peter Pan — and the main antagonist of the season.
  • Outlander: The central conceit of the show is that protagonist Claire Beauchamp accidentally travels back in time to 18th century Scotland. It's pretty hard to talk about the show in any meaningful way without spoiling this premise.
  • Prison Break: The last minute of the pilot reveals that Michael Scofield tattooed the plan of the prison on his body in order to free his incarcerated brother. And before that, midway through the pilot, there's the revelation that Michael Scofield (the soft-spoken, well-to-do structural engineer) and Lincoln Burrows (the hard-edged thug on death row) are brothers.
  • In the premiere of Public Morals it is established that the cops of NYPD's Public Morals Division and The Irish Mob have a very cozy "arrangement" and great care is taken so that nothing disrupts it. The relationship is further highlighted by the fact that Mr. O, a local Irish gangster, is the father of Sean O'Bannon and uncle of Terry Muldoon, two cops working for PMD. He is killed in the final moments of the first episode and the beginning of the second episode reveals that the murder was committed by Rusty Patton, the son of The Don of The Irish Mob. Everything the first episode set up is about to be turned upside down as the O'Bannon and Muldoon clans seek revenge.
  • Raines is about a homicide detective who solves crimes by conversing with an imaginary version of the victim. He also interacts with his former partner whose career ended due to an injury sustained in a shootout. The first episode ends with the revelation that his ex-partner was killed in his career-ending shooting and is another figment of Raines' imagination.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • Lister is the last human alive and is stranded 3 million years into deep space, accompanied by the hologram of his dead bunkmate Rimmer and a creature that evolved from his pet cat, known as Cat. Naturally, watching the pilot episode means waiting for this situation to establish itself. The original trailer for the show carefully avoided revealing that everyone except Lister would be killed off, only using footage from before the accident that kills the crew and, after providing short bios for Lister and Rimmer (not mentioning the Cat at all) saying that viewers would have to tune in to find out about the rest of the cast.
    • An early plan for the show, discussed in DVD commentaries, was to take this idea even further. The senior staff of the ship would have been played by well-known actors and the first episode would focus on them, right up to the point where they all died and attention shifted to characters who had been treated as little more than extras up to that point.
  • Revolution: Ben Matheson's keychain that he gives to Aaron is a device that can undo the effects of the worldwide blackout and restore power to nearby electronics. Nate appears to be a well-meaning stranger who offers Charlie water and later saves Charlie's life, but he's revealed to be an incognito militia member. Miles' army buddy from the pre-blackout time is Monroe, aka, the present-day Big Bad General Monroe and head of the militia. All this is revealed in the pilot episode.
  • Ringer: Siobhan faked her death to get away from people trying to kill her.
  • Roswell: The first scene of the first episode has Max, the main protagonist, heal Liz, the main love interest, from a gunshot wound, thus revealing himself to be an alien. (The "missing" gunshot wound plays a key part in most of the first season, including explaining why the sheriff, FBI, and local alien hunters all suspect Max.)
  • Rude Awakening: Seemed to be a comedy about a Hard-Drinking Party Girl along the lines of Absolutely Fabulous, but in the first episode turned out to be a comedy about 12-Step Programs.
  • Sherlock: At the end of the first episode, Mark Gatiss' sinister character is revealed to be Mycroft Holmes, not Moriarty as we'd been led to believe.
  • Stargate:
    • Stargate SG-1: Daniel and Jack come out of retirement, and the Stargate goes to more than one other planet. Those aren't exactly spoilers so much as departures from the movie. However, Teal'c changing sides and Kowalski dying in the second episode would certainly be spoilers.
    • Stargate Atlantis: That guy named Sheppard will turn out to be very important. Robert Patrick, on the other hand, is a Dead Star Walking.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In Deep Space Nine the wormhole is a part of the opening credits. They made a special version of the credits for the first episode without the wormhole in order to keep the First Episode Twist unspoiled.
    • Which they distinctly failed to do in the opening credits for the first episode of the seventh season, which revealed the existence of Ezri Dax a good forty minutes before she shows up at the end of the episode.
      (40 minutes later...)
      Ezri: It's me, Dax.
    • Also failed to do in the opening credits of the first episode of the fourth season, which revealed that Worf had joined the regular cast a good twenty minutes before he turned up and a good ninety minutes before he joined the station's crew.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: We're introduced to a new ship and new crew on a seemingly routine mission just as we'd seen in TNG and DS9, only to have the ship lost on the other side of the Galaxy on the first episode, thus setting the premise of the series.
    • Perhaps more surprising is nearly the entire introduced senior staff of the ship (including the First Officer, Chief Medical Officer, Navigator, and Chief Engineer) being killed off before even the midpoint of the pilot episode. Several apparent guest characters (the crew of another ship, the convict acting as their guide, the two aliens they meet) end up becoming the new senior staff. Also, the fact that Tuvok is The Mole among the Maquis crew is obvious to anyone who has seen another episode the moment Janeway mentions her chief of security is undercover there.
  • Superstore somehow does this with a character's name. A Running Gag is that America Ferrera's character never wears a nametag bearing her actual name. She doesn't even reveal it to Jonah until the end of the pilot. It's Amy.
  • Taxi: For much of the first episode, Louie De Palma, played by then-unknown Danny DeVito, shouts his usual bile from inside an elevated dispatcher's cage that only reveals his face. At the climax, he emerges from the cage and appears at the bottom of the steps, and is revealed to be incongruously short for his personality — estimates vary but DeVito is well under 5 feet tall. It's a trick that only works once, ever.
  • This Is Us: The advance publicity for the show, and even an epigram shown at the beginning of the premiere, emphasized that the main characters share a birthday (implying, but never outright stating, that they share no other specific connection), on which the first episode takes place. These characters are a man whose wife goes into labor with triplets, a disillusioned actor and his twin sister, and a black man confronting the biological father who abandoned him (the three other birthday celebrants are white). Only in the last scene is it revealed that the triplet childbirth takes place in 1980, and the other three characters are the triplets — the couple having adopted an abandoned blac baby when one of the originals didn't survive — and their "present-day" scenes are taking place in 2016. Anyone describing the show after that would call it the story of one multigenerational family.
  • Tin Man just has three episodes, but the first keeps Azkadellia's history with DG quite vague until the last five minutes — where it's revealed that the two are actually sisters. Naturally this is a major plot point of the remaining episodes — DG appealing to sisterly love to save Azkadellia.
  • Torchwood:
    • Begins with Gwen as a Cardiff police officer, observing the title mysterious Black Ops team. Afterwards, she becomes a team member.
    • Also, the second-in-command — who'd been featured in the publicity for the series just like all the others — is revealed to have gone insane, and then she commits suicide, and a definite and obvious example of this trope, the revelation that Captain Jack is now immortal. In the first episode, this is very surprising. Thereafter it's used constantly.
  • The very first joke in Unhappily Ever After is one of these. Jenny is saying goodbye to a man, talking about how even though the divorce is over, they've been through so much, and they can still be friends, on the most harmonious of terms, etc. Then it turns out that, ha ha, the man is her divorce lawyer, not her ex-husband, and of course she's not going to be that friendly with her ex-husband. But of course, if you've ever seen any other episode of the show, you are already familiar with the ex-husband, for he's a main character (Jack, played by Geoff Pierson). So the joke is based on making the viewer think that the man is her ex-husband, but of course this requires that you haven't seen any of the rest of the show. Or other sources of information (like the trailers advertising the show!) that would let you know which characters are which.
  • Westworld: The first episode frames Teddy Floods as a guest because he's riding the same train that brought the guests to the park, reacting to the town as if it's new to him, getting propositioned by several hosts, and making reference to having returned to town after an absence. Then, it turns out that he's actually a host.
  • White Collar: The basic premise is that a con man is released from jail into the FBI's custody to help solve crimes. Therefore, the entire first quarter or so where the Federal Agent main character is debating whether to actually release him or not is completely pointless.

    Music Videos 
  • When Blues Traveler were breaking through in popularity, they released the video for "Runaround". The video shows a band of attractive twenty-somethings (with an Adam Duritz-esqe lead singer) performing at a club while a group (based on Dorothy and her companions from The Wizard of Oz) tries to get in to see them. When they succeed, the girl's dog jumps out of her arms, runs up onstage, and pulls back a curtain at the back. We then see the real Blues Traveler who are a little older and rougher looking while lead singer John Popper is rather portly. They don't bother to hide this in later videos.
  • The BTS UniverseBTS's Darker and Edgier Verse — starts off with the "I NEED U (Original version)" music video, which features the characters — played by the members — suffering in various ways, with at least one character ending up dead (by burning himself alive) and another one committing murder. These events are key for the plot of the BU at large.

  • The first episode of The Penumbra Podcast has detective Juno Steel team up with Rex Glass, an eccentric secret agent from Dark Matters, to solve a murder involving an ancient mask that eats people's faces. It's revealed at the end of the episode that "Rex Glass" is actually a con artist named Peter Nureyev; he's been impersonating a secret agent in order to steal and sell the mask. Nureyev ends up being one of the main characters of the series (and, eventually, Juno's Love Interest).

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Assassin's Creed: It's all a simulation imposed on a man in the near future. It's the very first thing we actually find out in game but when it first came out, all the promo material tried to hide it, and several fans complained that sites were giving away the "twist" in their reviews, though some reviewers tried to hide it.
    • Assassin's Creed II: This game reveals that the human race was originally created as worker drones by a superior race, who later died off in a catastrophic event. This immediately became the base premise of the overarching Assassin's Creed storyline, to the point where it's difficult to explain the modern-day story without covering this basic information.
    • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood: the safehouse where Desmond was transported to for most of the second game is not only in Italy, but a few hours' drive from the Monteriggioni villa.
    • Assassin's Creed III has you start off playing as British noble Haytham Kenway, despite all the hype for the game being about playing as a Native American Assassin. After a few missions with him, it's revealed Haytham defected to the side of the villainous Templars and the group he spent so much trouble putting together were all Templars. Once you start playing as Native American Connor, Haytham is set up to be the Big Bad.
    • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag: Edward is not an Assassin for most of the game, instead impersonating an Assassin he had just killed and spends a good portion of his time playing both the Assassins and Templars for his own benefit.
  • The prologue for Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth ends with The Hero getting attacked by an Eater while trying to log out of EDEN, causing their consciousness to manifest in the real world in a part-digital, part-physical body. A surprising turn of events to be sure, but their nature as an Energy Being and the abilities it grants them are integral to the game's story and form the basis for at least one major game mechanic, so it's difficult to discuss the game without addressing it in some way.
  • In Eternal Darkness, you play as one character while exploring the Hub Level, but every time you find a page of the titular Tome of Eldritch Lore, you get a flashback sequence where you play as a past member of The Chosen Many. Except the first of these you play as, a Roman Centurion named Pious Augustus, does a Face–Heel Turn at the end of his chapter, transforms into a liche, and becomes The Heavy the rest of the cast ends up opposing in their chapters.
  • Fate/EXTRA: The game starts off in an ordinary school setting filled with recognizable characters from Fate/stay night and presents itself as a pretty standard Visual Novel in the same vein. After about 20 minutes of play, you discover that the school environment was a digital simulation, all those recognizable characters are NPCs to add to illusion, and you have entered into a massive tournament within the computer for the sake of an all-powerful wish. Then the RPG mechanics show up.
  • More of a Second-Episode Spoiler, but in Freedom Planet, Torque reveals the "shellduck" look was just a disguise and that he's actually a Space Police officer sent to Planet Avalice to capture Lord Brevon. This happens right after the 2nd stage (out of 12). Furthermore, the promotional media (official posters, trailer and website's character page) doesn't even try to hide the "spoiler", outright depicting him in his true alien form, with no "shellduck" disguise on.
  • Grand Theft Auto V drops several major drama bombs in the tutorial mission, an Action Prologue detailing the nature of Michael and Trevor's friendship (and even revealing that "Michael De Santa" is a Witness Protection cover for Michael Townley, who wanted out of the game and betrayed his best friend to the FIB), all of which had been kept under wraps before release. It also happens to be the only mission in the game where you can't skip any Cutscenes, so good luck trying to replay the game for a friend without giving away some major spoilers. Given how critical this is to the story, it becomes impossible to talk about single-player without spoiling at least some of it.
  • Kingdom Hearts II starts with the player controlling Roxas, an all-new character living in Twilight Town (which wasn't explored in depth in its first appearance). Then, it's revealed that Roxas is actually living in a simulation with fake friends and memories, and that he's actually the Nobody of Sora, the first game's protagonist, and he must disappear so Sora can be awakened. The rest of the game is played from Sora's perspective, so it's hard to not spoil that something will happen to Roxas.
  • The prologue of The Last of Us reveals that Joel had a daughter that was killed by a soldier just hours after the outbreak of the Cordyceps strain.
  • Commander Shepard's resurrection at the beginning of Mass Effect 2 would be a surprising and dramatic opening, except that it's practically impossible to discuss the game in any sort of depth without that coming up. This doubles-up with Trailers Always Spoil: the announcement trailer had a long list of Shepard's personnel file, ending with: "Killed in action", with a pull-back reveal that Shepard's N7 armor you were seeing had, in fact, just been a piece of chestplate that was grafted onto a Geth unit. Fandom speculation abounded about whether Shepard was faking dead, had somehow been turned into a Geth, or if they HAD died and you were now playing a new character.
  • Undertale's first area, the ruins, will throw some curveballs at you if you take things at face value.
    • Flowey's the first character you encounter, and is described as "your best friend" in the demo manual. He also reveals himself to be a villain soon after tricking you into following a fake tutorial wherein he's actually trying to kill you.
    • Following the encounter with Flowey, you are introduced to a friendly monster named Toriel, who makes herself your adoptive mother. Shortly after, you are forced to fight her to progress, which would already be a dramatic twist, but on top of that, the battle will probably end with you killing her, whether you meant to or not, unless you know what to do, which the game will call you out on. The game will also call you out if you killed even one of the random encounters, establishing that Undertale doesn't treat death (even of minor enemies) the same way that other RPGs do. This is a major part of Undertale's premise, but it's bound to be unexpected if you somehow played it without any prior knowledge.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles, Fiora, one of your party members and Shulk's Love Interest, dies trying to fend off the Mechon attack on Colony 9 at the start of the game. While players going in blind might be shocked by this, anyone who's seen or heard of anything from later in the game will probably be expecting it, both because Shulk's main motivation for the first half of the story is avenging her death, and because it's hard to look at any later scenes involving the party and not notice Fiora's conspicuous absence. In fact, the real twist is that she didn't actually die, but was turned into a Mechon and later rejoins the party.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Azurda performs a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the first chapter and then regenerates into a smaller, younger form. Thus, it can be rather difficult to explain why everyone refers to that wise, soft-voiced pixie as "Gramps."
  • Yomawari: Night Alone begins the main character, a little girl, walking her dog, with the game providing a tutorial for the controls. One of these tutorials ends with the dog getting rammed by an oncoming truck. Luckily, most trailers and promotional material keep this a secret, saying that the dog simply went missing. It helps that the little girl believes he's missing, spending much of the game in complete denial over his death.
    • Yomawari: Midnight Shadows begins with one of the main characters, Yui, burying one of her dead dogs and taking her living dog out for a walk as part of the tutorial. The tutorial ends with her commiting suicide, spending the rest of the game as a spirit that Haru, her best friend, is trying to reunite with. Like the first game, the trailers and promotional material kept the spoiler a secret by saying the two got separated during a festival.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Mia's death in the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney; her status as a Spirit Advisor is of some importance, but she dies right after the shortest case in the series, which can be considered a tutorial.
    • Furthermore, the fact that Phoenix is no longer a lawyer and is the defendant in the first case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. You probably could've figured that out from the trailer too.
    • Also from Apollo Justice, the first case sets up Kristoph Gavin as Apollo's boss and mentor, much like Mia Fey from the first game. By the end of the case, it turns out that Kristoph is the murderer, and Apollo ends up going to work for Phoenix instead.
    • The first case of The Great Ace Attorney sets up Kazuma as Ryunosuke's partner. He's the victim of the second case(although he doesn't actually die, but returns in the second game), with Susato instead taking the partner role for the remainder of the game.
    • The second Great Ace Attorney begins with the first game's first culprit being murdered. It's also almost impossible to talk about the case without revealing that Susato, who returned to Japan after the first game's events, is disguised as a man in order to serve as her friend's defense attorney.
  • Danganronpa:
    • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Sayaka Maizono is set up as protagonist Makoto Naegi's Love Interest, but not only is she the victim of the first case, it's revealed that she actually intended to murder someone and frame him for it. Notably, the demo tried to hide this by changing the killer and the victim of the first case.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has Nagito Komaeda being revealed as a hope-obsessed and rather unstable Death Seeker midway through the first trial, a characterization that becomes important throughout the rest of the game.
    • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Kaede Akamatsu is set up as the protagonist for the game in promotional materials, but instead is revealed as the first killer, resulting in her being executed at the end of the first chapter and Shuichi Saihara taking over as the protagonist in one of the most-discussed plot twists in the game.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors features, as the title suggests, nine major characters, and the promotional material for the game gives all nine of them equal prominence. Despite this, immediately after everyone is introduced, the 9th Man dies, serving as a Sacrificial Lamb to demonstrate how serious the Deadly Game the characters are playing really is.
  • The first "episode" of Umineko: When They Cry reveals in the end that Beatrice exists, and she subsequently challenges Battler to a battle of minds. This game is the main driving force of the plot from the Episode 2 onward. This doesn't apply quite as much in the anime adaptation, where that event appears in about the fifth episode. made all the worse in that this is all set up as a major twist in Episode 1, which is as long as a traditional novel. Anyone who's even vaguely heard of the series knows the convoluted matches in Xanatos Speed Chess drive the rest of the plot, making it even more monotonous to sit through.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! starts off as a romantic comedy visual novel. During the first act, you learn that your childhood friend Sayori is merely putting on a Genki Girl facade; in truth, she's been struggling with depression for years. Shortly afterwards, you find her hanging body, and the game experiences a Genre Shift into metafictional horror. It's impossible to say anything about DDLC without at least spoiling that it's a horror story and not a Dating Sim.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Church dies halfway through the first season. He continues to be part of the series by coming back as a ghost.
  • Mystery Skulls Animated: The three big twists that make up "Ghost", namely that the ghost chasing the Mystery Skulls is their missing friend, said ghost is out for revenge because Arthur killed him, and their Canine Companion is anything but, are plot points that are revisited in every episode afterwards.

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius. That mousy lab assistant? She's a major Spark who turns out to be the most important figure in recent history and is about to turn the world on its ear. Didn't the title clue you in?
  • Goblins: Life Through Their Eyes. Practically everybody gets killed, and the five remaining goblins decide to become adventurers so they can gain levels and stand a fighting chance against the players who consider goblins to be easy exp. The joke is that the goblins still don't know just how doomed their hometown, for which they're leveling up in order to protect, is. Odds are Kore will have destroyed it long before they ever get back there.
  • El Goonish Shive: In the first story arc, it is revealed that Grace has the abililty to gain forms from the Transformation Gun (a critical part of how magic works in the comic) and that Elliot and Nanase were a couple (the breakup of which leads to the formation of 2 of the Official Couples, Elliot/Sarah and, shortly after, Nanase/Ellen).
    • Also within the first story arc, the names of the German scientist (Dr. Germahn) and his assistant (Amanda, the only character to appear in all the Q&As) are revealed before it is even asked in the first panel of the last strip of the first Fourth-Wall Mail Slot Q&A session.
  • In Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name, Conrad becomes a vampire. But since he's been portrayed as such in official art ever since BEFORE it happened...
  • More of a first act spoiler, given the nature of Homestuck, but playing Sburb causes a meteor shower which is meant to destroy the Earth. The 'How' and 'Why' for this aren't fully answered until the fifth act. Homestuck often introduces new concepts which then become focal points of the plot. This means just about everything from Act 3 onwards is technically made of spoilers. The difficulty inherent with this led to Homestuck's page on this wiki being stripped of spoiler tags.
  • My Deepest Secret: The first episodes is spent introducing Emma, an insecure college student, and Elios, her sweet, attentive, gorgeous boyfriend. The story is almost saccharine for the entire opening, especially with the cute art style...and then Elios, unbeknownst to Emma, ruthlessly kills a defenseless kitten. Turns out her "perfect" boyfriend really, really isn't. Thus starts the main story.
  • Skin Deep: the main world premise of the series, along with the true natures of all the central characters. It begins as a normal college story, and has a big reveal at the end of the first chapter.
  • Sleepless Domain: The first chapter is fairly standard magical girl fare featuring the adventures of Team Alchemical. However, by the end of the second chapter three members of the team, Sally, Gwen, and Sylvia, are killed and Tessa, the leader, burns out her powers saving Undine.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent:
    • The Distant Prologue makes it look like that the only catch about the Rash is that it's more lethal than official authorities are willing to admit. The Undead Abomination occasional complication and the fact that magic returned to the Known World in the wake of the initial outbreak are both twists when revealed, but also an essential aspects of the era in which the story proper takes place.
    • The expedition's hidden motive of salvaging Old World books. It ends up being the part of the crew's mission that is shown the most. The research they were officially funded for and need to do in parallel to cover their backs only shows up in the form of the Rash cure investigations and Tuuri taking a camera with her on a couple of outings.

    Western Animation 
  • Downplayed. The pilot of American Dragon: Jake Long reveals that the masked Huntsgirl has the same birthmark as Jake's wholesome crush Rose, quickly setting up the Dating Catwoman arc. Rose appears in less than half of the episodes, and a few episodes she does appear in only feature one of her two personas, but her dual identity plays a huge role throughout the main Story Arc.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang is the Avatar. Due to being a Fish out of Temporal Water, he has to wait until the third episode to find out he's also the "Last Airbender".
  • If you've watched any episode of The Cleveland Show other than the pilot, you already know that Cleveland marries Donna and adopts Roberta and Rallo, ditching his plans to move to California. Of course, when you do watch the pilot, you'll have this spoiled by the episode itself in the first few minutes when they play the Expository Theme Tune: "Right back in my hometown / with my new family! (gestures at Donna and the kids)"
  • PBS airings of the first episode of Dragon Tales did this in a Dragon Tunes music video that played in between the two stories. The music video in question, which was "The Hello Song", showed several yet-to-be-introduced characters: Norm the Number Gnome, Mister Pop, a doodle fairy, the giant from "Staying Within the Lines", Eunice the unicorn and the sea serpent from "The Greatest Show in Dragon Land". Sprout and Netflix runs of the show averted this as the show was aired as a Quarter Hour Short without the Dragon Tune.
  • DuckTales (2017): The final scene of the pilot episode revealed that Donald's twin sister Della (who had been little more than a name on the Duck family tree for the past 80 years) was going to play a role in the series' Myth Arc.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Bloo goes to live in the titular foster home, with the plot of the pilot movie surrounding Mac and Bloo's attempt to create the deal that would allow the latter to live there without fear of adoption.
    • Throughout the pilot, it's also implied that Madam Foster is dead. She makes an appearance in the last scene, and goes on to be a main character in the following episodes.
  • Gargoyles: The Scottish Clan of Gargoyles from 995 AD are all slaughtered except for Goliath and 5 others, who are reawakened in 1995 New York by David Xanatos, who also reveals Goliath's former gargoyle mate survived too. Xanatos is in fact not the nice guy he claimed to be: he's a Magnificent Bastard who has been manipulating the Gargoyles for his own ends. Goliath's former mate is a villain too; she helped betray their slaughtered clansmates and she's taken a name: Demona.note 
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. The entire show is based upon the premise that Grim loses the contest against Mandy, but towards the end of the first episode it appears that Grim has won.
  • The first episode of Invincible (2021) plays out like a standard story in which an established superhero helps his son become a superhero himself. Then it ends with the older superhero violently murdering his allies, the Guardians of the Globe.
  • In Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Adam/He-Man and Skeletor both die in the first episode. The rest of the show demonstrates the fallout of this battle, which destroyed most magic, doomed Eternia and the universe and left the other villains with their own new agendas. Teela is the real protagonist, even though Adam and Skeletor eventually come back.
  • In Megas XLR, the entire plot of the series is a guy with a self-modified giant robot fighting evil aliens with his best friend and a chick from the future, but that doesn't become obvious until halfway through the first episode.
  • Motorcity: Julie, one of the Burners, sneaks into Kane Co. It appears she's been caught by Abraham Kane. But instead, he hugs her much to her annoyance. Turns out she's his daughter. The rest of the Burners don't know this.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Twilight Sparkle becomes True Companions with five other ponies, with whom she unlocks the power of the Elements of Harmony. While your standard Slice of Life episode won't dwell too much on who their first foe was (Nightmare Moon, aka Princess Celestia's sister), the fact that the antisocial Twilight gains a close-knit friend group is definitely this.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", the dog Homer and Bart bet on in a dog race to win money, Santa's Little Helper, runs away from his owner after he yells at him for losing the race and becomes the family's permanent pet when he decides he wants to be comforted by Homer. Many promotional materials for the show, as well as most of the episodes, depict him as the family's pet.
  • In the first episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Crosshair is corrupted by his inhibitor chip, deserts the titular heroes, and joins the Empire. It's impossible to discuss his characterization in this series in any depth without spoiling that twist.

Alternative Title(s): First Episode Spoiler


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