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First-Episode Twist
aka: First Episode Spoiler

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The first installment of a new series ends on a shocking reveal. The 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 installment.

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 he's a vampire.

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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.

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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.

A 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.


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Related to:

Not to be confused 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 Spoilered Rotten trope, so consider yourself warned if you look throughout the examples below.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    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 
  • 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.
  • The final page of issue #1 of Black Magick reveals that Detective Rowan Black is not simply a Wiccan, but has actual magical powers.
  • At the end of Detective Comics #27, it is revealed that The "Bat-Man" is actually the Commissioner's young socialite friend, Bruce Wayne.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Runaways: The story begins with a seemingly ordinary group of kids getting together. They sneak out to see what their unusual parents are doing downstairs. They think it means they're superheroes. It's not. Their parents are acutally a group of supervillains.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • The premise of the Flufferverse is that the Ellimist saves Tobias from dying as a nothlit, which happens in the last chapter of the first installment, The Divergence.
  • 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.
  • Intercom: After a seeming ordinary day, Anger accidentally breaks the intercom in headquarters. Thus the true premise of this Fan Sequel is revealed: Riley can now hear her emotions talking!
  • 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:
    • At the end of the first film, Jigsaw turns out to be the guy lying in the middle of the Bathroom, assumed to be dead. He's also the cancer patient who appears in flashbacks to the hospital where Lawrence worked in at the time. Saw II and Saw III are up-front about him as the Big Bad, and he becomes the Greater-Scope Villain from Saw IV onwards.
    • At the end of Saw II, Amanda, one of the victims from the first film who returns here, is the first Jigsaw apprentice revealed. While she only has a relevant role as The Dragon in Saw III, she gets a crucial role in flashbacks from Saw VI, especially in regards to her relationships with the posthumous Cecil and Hoffman.
    • To a lesser extent, Hoffman is revealed to be an apprentice at the end of Saw IV (the fourth film in the nine-installment series), and takes up the mantle of Big Bad from Saw V to Saw 3D (a film more than John had, making him the longest-tenured Big Bad overall).
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • The first A Court of Thorns and Roses novel is mostly about Feyre's romance with Tamlin, though the third act sets up a potential Love Triangle with Rhysand. It's hard to talk about the rest of the series without revealing that book two makes Tamlin an antagonist so that Feyre can run off with Rhysand.
  • 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 Jake's 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.
  • The premise of Eva — that the titular character's mind was transplanted into a chimp — isn't revealed until a few chapters in.
  • 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.
  • Moon Base Alpha: The killer from the first book and Zan being an alien are pretty apparent in the sequels despite being big twists.
  • 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.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: In the epilogue of volume 1, Oliver Horn accompanies alchemy instructor Darius Grenville to the laboratory of a deceased student deep in the labyrinth. This turns out to be a ruse to get Grenville alone so Oliver can kill him: his true reason for being at Kimberly Magic Academy is to take revenge on the seven Sadist Teachers who murdered his mother Chloe Halford. Furthermore, through the use of his mother's Ghost Memory, Oliver can use one of the eponymous Spellblades (Dangerous Forbidden Techniques that are virtually unstoppable), which allows him to successfully kill Grenville despite the massive gulf in abilities between an instructor and a first-year student.
  • 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.
  • New Jedi Order series: Prior to the release of the first book Vector Prime, the Star Wars Legends books were mostly optimistic, fun and never really threatened any of the main characters from the movie. Then aliens from beyond the galaxy invade. The Republic begins to be pushed back, and towards the end, Chewbacca dies, establishing Nothing Is the Same Anymore and Anyone Can Die in this series.
  • Two cases in the first novel of the Sword of Truth series:
  • 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.

    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.

    Podcasts 
  • The 32-day-long "Groundhog Day" Loop that forms the premise of Find Us Alive (and keeps food, water, and oxygen supplies from running low, as was the worry in the first five episodes) isn't revealed until Episode 07, aptly named "Reset".
  • 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).

    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.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney:
      • The fact that Phoenix is no longer a lawyer and is the defendant in the game's first case. 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 Great Ace Attorney:
      • The first case of 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 case 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, 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 is then 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 afterwards. Still, the final trial reveals that Kaede wasn't the true culprit at all.
  • 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.
  • The first chapter of Full Metal Daemon Muramasa presents things as a fairly standard, if slightly grim, Highschool VN story with a fairly standard perverted main character Yuhi and his friends with all the standard tropes and silly antics associated with it. Even when things seem to turn relentlessly dark, everything is played as normal with Yuhi not succumbing to despair while giving a Rousing Speech, going Hot-Blooded and standing up to a superior foe. Then after all is said and done, Yuhi ends up decapitated by the police man Kageaki that saved them and the real story starts as a morally complex action thriller with psychological elements.
  • 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.

    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.

    Webcomics 
  • 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: Two in the series' first episode, "House of Bloo's".
    • Bloo goes to live in the titular foster home, with the plot surrounding Mac and Bloo's attempt to create the deal that would allow the latter to live there without fear of adoption.
    • Throughout the episode, it's also implied that Madame Foster is dead. She makes an appearance in the last scene, and goes on to be a main character throughout the series.
  • 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. This sets the tone for the rest of the series, establishing that this is not your typical Saturday morning superhero cartoon.
  • 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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