Congratulations! After plenty of hype aversion and general laziness, you finally decided to check out that series everyone's talking about. You go to the store, buy the first season, set up your Blu-ray/DVD player, turn on the TV, crack open the case and...
... wait a minute. Isn't that a commercial for the latest season? Why is the first season's ruthless and merciless Big Bad being all friendly with the main protagonists? You mean he's going to turn good?!
Feeling annoyed that a major event has just been spoiled for you? Irritated? Enraged? Too bad, because other fans, and apparently the advertisers, all agree it's your own fault for not being aware.
A Late-Arrival Spoiler is when a particular revelation in a current work is spoiled by official sources and merchandise. This could be due to a number of factors, like the toy division making an action figure of one of the heroes post-FaceHeel Turn, or showing them off on the front cover. In any case, it all boils down to being spoiled because you started too late. Hence, it's a late-arrival spoiler.
Sometimes, it is hard to avoid this in shows that feature major changes in setting and cast line-up that hinge on major plot twists in previous seasons. For example, the Season 1 big bad is a major player on the good guys' side in Season 4. How exactly are you going to hide that in promos just for the sake of not spoiling the people who haven't watched Season 3 yet? Also a frequent problem in longrunners and multi-volumes where the story unfolds over a long period of time.
This may also manifest when publication is not simultaneous across different places, usually between countries (for example, a movie is released at X day in the United States and X+Y day in Europe, or a comic book or animated series is not published or aired in a certain country until it's translated to the local language). Once the work is available to the public at the source country, all official sources and related business may consider that it's fair game to consider that the audience has already seen it, and proceed to sell the "Luke, I Am Your Father" T-shirts.
With the rise of the Internet as social media users, online forums and review websites all clamour for hits & attention, the unwritten rule has become that if you can't consume a piece of media upon the first release anywhere in the world then you should stay offline or accept the risk of being spoiled and change your browsing habits accordingly.
If the spoiler in question is common knowledge to people in general, then it was his sled. See Popcultural Osmosis for cases when the reveal is included in modern and more popular works, such as adaptions or parodies.
Compare Spoiled by the Merchandise, Trailers Always Spoil, Spoiler Cover and Spoiler Title, when the plot is spoiled before the fans even get their hands on the product. See also First-Episode Twist and Mid-Season Twist. Can often overlap with a Walking Spoiler, when a work is difficult to discuss in future installments without knowing any type of spoiler from the one before.
For obvious reasons, all examples contain spoilers, so they will be unmarked.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Films Animation
- Films Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Visual Novels
- Western Animation
- The members of The Axis of Awesome rant against this trope as it pertains to Game of Thrones in their song "Rage of Thrones", specifically by basically telling people who never read the books and are now angered by the story being spoiled by those folks who have read the books to go screw themselves.
"Don't tell me about spoilers! Winter has been coming for sixteen fucking years! Get a library card! Or a fucking Kindle!"
- The "World's Fastest Filker", Tom Smith's song, "Spoiler Alert!", reveals that one of his friends apparently knows nothing whatsoever about modern (or even medieval) culture, as he apparently spoils everything.
Tom: "And Jesus comes back three days after he's toast."
- The Mandalorian: Several characters whose appearances in the original series were meant to be surprises are shown with little fanfare throughout the game's artwork.
- Boba Fett, whose first appearance in the series was a Wham Shot, not only appears on the playfield and backglass but gets a pair of stand-up targets with his name right beside them.
- While his identity is obfuscated elsewhere in the art package, Luke Skywalker is shown on one of the slinger bumpers, face and all. His mere presence spoils what was originally an extremely unexpected moment at the very end of the second season finale.
- Stranger Things is full of spoilers for its source material's first two seasons. The existence of the Upside Down and the Demogorgon's appearance are storylines that take half a season to puzzle out, but here they're respectively a randomly-occurring mode and a bash toy placed in the center of the playfield. The Demodogs, whose very existence is a twist in the second season, are similarly given their own set of modes. Perhaps the most striking is "Where's Barb?", a mode based off of a storyline that runs throughout the first season: finishing it unceremoniously displays a picture of her corpse, taken straight from the season's penultimate episode.
- Pokemon: Adventures in the Millennium has the reveals of Julian's parents going missing in Sinnoh a year ago and Belle's past with Team Rocket. They come pretty early on in the story, but are major elements of the character's development throughout.
- Since tickets for wrestling shows go on sale months ahead of time, there have been cases where advertised matches spoil an upcoming HeelFace Turn, FaceHeel Turn, or an absent wrestler's surprise return.
- DVD and Blu-ray releases of PPV events can spoil what were surprise returns at the PPVs (like Daniel Bryan's return at SummerSlam 2010) in their match lists or the front cover can spoil the outcome of the main event (like CM Punk triumphantly holding the WWE Championship on the cover of the Money in the Bank 2011 DVD).
- PPV results are generally spoiled by the first free show airing after the event.
- The format of Magic: The Gathering makes this trope inevitable, due to it being an ongoing story that is portrayed through prominent and marketed game pieces. For example, one glance at the card God-Eternal Kefnet spoils the death of the Amonkhet gods (four, to be exact), Nicol Bolas's plan to invade Ravnica, and the conversion of the killed gods into Bolas's zombie minions.
- Balthor dying and being reanimated as a zombie is a plot twist in Judgment. However, now that the expansion is out, the existence of this card singlehandedly spoils that twist.
- In Zendikar: In the Teeth of Akoum, Nissa discovering that Sorin is a vampire is supposed to be a major plot twist. Of course, all of the supplementary material released before the book, including Sorin's card, make it very clear that he is a vampire. The back of the book itself includes the phrase "the ancient vampire planeswalker, Sorin Markov..."
- A big part of the leadup to the third set of the Mirrodin Besieged block was "would the Mirrans successfully fight off the Phyrexians?" The third set's name provided the answer: New Phyrexia. Wizards tried to throw people off by announcing an alternate name for the third set at the same time of the New Phyrexia reveal - Mirrodin Pure, and told fans that either could end up being the real title of the set. A lot of people saw through the ruse anyway.
- Urza becoming a planeswalker in The Brothers' War. Before this book came out, Urza had been mentioned as a historical character on a number of cards as one of the brothers fighting the eponymous war. After the book came out, Urza became such an iconic and well-known character that everyone who reads book nowadays knows what's coming.
- Deadlands has several of these:
- The intro for most versions of Deadlands: Hell on Earth spoil the big reveals of the metaplot for the original Deadlands. The foreword of Hell on Earth Reloaded, for instance, has the author specifically mentioning the identity of the Reckoners, which is one of the big secrets in 'Deadlands'.
- Averted in that the *first edition* of Deadlands and Hell on Earth had a detailed story from Ol' Coot Jenkins in the player's section of the book explaining a fairly large portion of the metaplot. Later editions removed his tale and the information, so it's more of an early arrival spoiler!
- The End Times in Warhammer Fantasy spoiled a lot of the mysteries of the armies of the Old world. The lore merely hinted that the Green Knight was Gile Le Breton, but could equally be a daemon-esque construct of the Lady of the Lake, but two paragraphs in to the Bretonnian section in the first End Times book outright states that it was Gile. The third book likewise spoiled the eventual fate of the elves and their eternal war with the Dark Elves. The website also spoiled that Nagash would return to the old world, since they released a playable model of him as a preorder with the book and named the first book after him, despite the fact that the summoning ritual constitutes a good half of the book's lore.
- Starfinder has one for its older brother, Pathfinder, specifically the Iron Gods Adventure Path. One of the possible endings of Iron Gods has a benevolent NPC ally of the PCs ascending to godhood, in the place of the Big Bad. Fast-forward several centuries to Starfinder, and that NPC has not only become a facet of Triune, one of the main deities, but Triune is arguably the most important deity of the setting, as It enabled access to the Drift, allowing inexpensive faster-than-light travel.
- The second edition setting book contains, by necessity, many spoilers to the previous campaign paths that occurred in canon as the setting moves forward. However, it also contains a bit of the same inversion as the example below: they refer to the "mystery" of Razmiran, the living god, and who he really is. What we actually know from the previous setting book is that he's a Con Artist pulling a God Guise with the help of a de-aging elixir.
- Oddly inverted in Eberron, where the recent 5e campaign setting has some things that could only be spoiled for those who are late arrivals to the setting. For instance, they try to play up the mystery of the city of Ashtakala, a thriving magical, evil city in the middle of the Demon Wastes and how it could still be standing after all this time, when the previous campaign setting book outright stated that it's purely an illusion created so the Lords of Dust can vicariously relive their glory days.
- BattleTech has had multiple such spoilers come about over the years:
- When the Clans invaded in 3049, their origin was "mysterious" up until late in the first novel about the invasion, when it was revealed that they were descended from the Star League Defense Force troops that chose to follow Alexandre Kerensky when he fled the Inner Sphere for parts unknown three centuries before. The mercenary unit Wolf's Dragoons were similarly revealed as having been an advanced recon force sent to gather information about the state of the Inner Sphere ahead of the invasion who were secretly ordered by the Khan of Clan Wolf to instead help prepare the Inner Sphere to withstand the comming invasion. Every single novel and sourcebook that mentions either that's been printed since then has referenced it.
- The Word of Blake Jihad got spoilered before it even began, thanks to Wizkids launching Mechwarrior: Dark Age, a spin-off game that used similiar rules to Heroclix that was set half a century after the Jihad. So before that event even started, everybody already knew that it would last about thirteen years in-universe and that someone named Devlin Stone would be the one who united all the various forces fighting the Blakists into a coelition that eventually pushed all the way to Terra and destroyed the Word of Blake in order to found a new power called the Republic of the Sphere.
- And also part of the Jihad was the eventual reveal of who the Word of Blake's mysterious ruler was, someone who'd been known only as The Master until then. It turned out to be Thomas Marik, though this was regarded as a Captain Obvious Reveal given that the man who'd been calling himself Thomas Marik and running the Free Worlds League for the last three decades had long before been outed (to the audience, at least) as an imposter.
SMG4: Some guy is killing everyone! HELP! also happy birthday enzo.
- If you want to watch "The Visitor" (2014) without being spoiled of the Serial Killer's true identity, do not scroll down and view the author's comment.
- Meggy's human form. This was originally part of a shocking twist at the end of the Anime Arc in the video "Final Hours". However, since Meggy is a very Spotlight Stealing character, this twist was going to get spoiled very easily. Not to mention that the first SMG4 movie is about her, in which her human form plays a very strong plot point.
- The DVD covers for Halo-based machinima series Red vs. Blue have regularly done this.
- Spoilers are on many of the DVD covers, though always made somewhat vague - for instance, the back of the first season DVD mentions a ghost and a psychotic mercenary, who are introduced as twists halfway through the season, but doesn't say that the ghost is a main character who is shockingly killed, or that the mercenary is his girlfriend.
- The series' jump to Halo 2 during season three was something of an Untwist, as even though the moment was treated dramatically in-universe as a jump to the "future" as signified by the Art Shift, the creators told the fan community in advance that it would happen. But to anyone catching up and unaware, the DVD cover (and artwork on the website) ruined the surprise, by placing Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 versions of the same character side-by-side (as well as seasons four and five featuring only Halo 2 imagery on their DVD covers). Even further, an actual twist the fandom didn't expect, that certain scenes would be filmed using Marathon, is revealed by the Marathon version of the character appearing on the cover too. (The jump to Halo 3, on the other hand, didn't receive any in-universe distinction, with some episodes using both Halo 2 and Halo 3 during different scenes. Thus, it's not much of a spoiler that cover art features Halo 3, 4 or 5 iterations).
- Certain characters are featured on DVD covers after being recently introduced, most notably the Alien.
- Season 7's trailer makes it pretty obvious, to anybody who hasn't finished Season 6 yet, that Church and Tex are dead... and also that they're not going to stay that way.
- Season 8 introduces CGI action sequences. The first moment of this comes as a surprise as the camera slowly moves away from the characters in the scene while the viewer thinks that they can't possibly do what the scene seems to be suggesting. Then it happens. The Warthog crashes right through the wall! This moment is prominently featured on the DVD cover. There was also a commercial going around with focus on the CGI scenes in general.
- A major twist at the end of season 9 was the revelation that Agent Carolina, long believed to have died before the series began, is actually still alive. The trailers for seasons 10 and 12 don't make any attempt to hide this.
- Season 11 has a major Reveal that the planet that the Reds and Blues crashed on is experiencing a Civil War. The DVD trailer for Season 11 and the teaser for Season 12 don't make any attempt to hide this.
- RWBY: Volume 4 promotional artwork and merchandise shows the new costumes and physical states of the characters. For anyone who is new to the show and starting from the beginning, this spoils some of the key events that occur at the end of Volume 3. The main one is the reveal that Yang lost her arm at the end of Volume 3. Apparently, this is of no concern to Rooster Teeth since a line of t-shirts released in early 2017 makes zero attempts to hide that spoiler.
- Minilife TV: Those unaware of The Reveal of "A New Terror Arrives" may be surprised to see Jack on the thumbnail of the Minilife Chronicles episode, "The Mayor".
- At the end of lonelygirl15 Season 1, Bree Avery dies. This is mentioned 21 episodes into KateModern. Similarly, the Twist Ending of "The Unthinkable Happened" was a huge shock when it was first shown, but is completely spoiled for anyone who knows that the following episode's title is "Bree's Dad is Dead"; the phrase "deader than Bree's dad" has since become a fan idiom. Also, anyone who so much as visits the site is likely to discover that Patient #11 survived the Hart Study, a major plot twist for the second series. Even the fact that the Hymn of One is evil was a huge revelation in the original series, but is now treated as the entire premise of the show. As one may surmise, lonelygirl15 is fairly lax about keeping spoilers secret.
- The KateModern website contains a video which spoils all the main twists of season 2, which plays automatically when you visit the site.
- Survival of the Fittest examples rarely spoiler the fact that Adam Dodd won v1 and indeed it is commonly talked about on the boards as Members assume that everybody already knows about this. Even Adam's return is made flagrantly obvious by the fact the character has two pages on the SOTF wiki (one for each v1 and v3). There's also that, y'know, he's actively played on the board, and nobody isn't going to notice that a v3 character as the same name and ID number as a v1 character.
- Basically, people tend to assume that anything that happened before the current version is now (or should be) general knowledge.
- The Big Bad of the first in-story semester in the Whateley Universe was Smug Snake Don Sebastiano, because he had the power to psychically Mind Rape two powerful students and turn them into his mindslaves, and even the administration couldn't prove anything was done to them. Since the story Christmas Elves was released, it is common knowledge among the story characters (who talk it over) and on the forums that he didn't do it. Hekate used incredibly dark Mythos magics to enslave them, and Don Sebastiano was implicitly taking the credit.
- Many commentaries on The Classic Doctor Who Twitter Blog make references to serials not covered yet, due to the proprietor herself experiencing a massive intake of this trope.
- This is highly common in works from The Slender Man Mythos, typically in the form of characters gleaning information about Slender Man from earlier works. Word of advice: if you plan on watching Marble Hornets or reading Just Another Fool, do not, by any means, watch or read anything posted at later dates.
- Parodied in Uncyclopedia: "This article contains spoilers. Wait, I should have told you earlier? My bad."
- This is all over the Noob franchise :
- The webseries, like many web originals, has a photo montage gallery. The show is set in a MMORPG and most characters have cursor over their head, with a different color depending on their faction. The most recent montages are always the first visible and the series has a couple cases of HeelFace Turn and one case of Evil All Along. When interviewed, the creator tends to assume people listening know what happens in any episode already on the Internet, so it's a bad idea for those new to the series to watch any interviews.
- The covers of the fourth novel and seventh and eigth comics each give away a different twist of the story.
- Main character Mac's death towards the end of Chapter One of Antlers Colorado is immediately spoiled for anyone who starts Chapter 2 out of context, or looks at almost any illustrations of Mac from after that update.
- This is poked fun at by After Hours, when Soren blurts out "I'm glad Dumbledore died!" Cue a background character reading Harry Potter And The Halfblood Prince turning around and complaining.
Soren: It came out in, like, 2005...