Something big is about to go down. Everyone knows it. The Big Bad is about to get schooled by the Old Master. A horde of mooks are about to be mowed down in an awesome fashion. Whatever it is, this will no doubt be one of the most awesome moments you will ever see.
Except you won't.
All you'll get (if you're lucky) is the characters talking about how awesome the scene was to behold.
Just like the expectation of something scary is more frightening than the actual scare, so is the expectation of an awesome scene. Except you never see the awesome scene, and are forced to imagine how it went down.
Compare Anti-Climax, Writer Cop Out, and Noodle Incident. If it is occurring just outside of the viewer's field of vision, it is a Battle Discretion Shot. Not to be confused with They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, where the awesome thing in question never actually happened at all.
This trope used to be called "Missed Moment of Awesome". If you want to find a trope for a time when a character's Awesome Moment fails to reach its expected level of epicness, try Negated Moment of Awesome. Stories or events that don't turn out as cool as you expected might belong in either They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot (a YMMV trope) or What Could Have Been (a Trivia trope).
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Fiction
- Live-Action TV
- Professional Wrestling
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- There's a Sunday strip in which Calvin and Hobbes are about to go sledding down a hill, but Hobbes jumps off at the last moment. Then the view remains centred on him and we only get to see a hint of how spectacularly Calvin's ride goes (and fails) by the look of Hobbes's reactions.
- There's another strip which is done from Hobbes POV during another sled ride...and he closes his eyes a couple of times during the ride.
- In the Wooden Overcoats episode "Flip Flap Flop," the normally chill Georgie utterly loses her shit when the visiting undertakers disrespect Rudyard and Antigone, resulting in her beating them all up single-handed. Sadly, we only get to hear the moments preceding the smackdown, before it cuts to twenty minutes later, when Madeleine informs us that twenty-five undertakers are now in the hospital, Georgie was dragged off to the town jail, and Rudyard and Antigone have gone to bail her out.
- The year is 1968. The New York Jets are beating the Oakland Raiders 32 to 29 with 65 seconds left in a critical late-season game. Fans across the country are on the edge of their seats. And NBC cuts the game off to start showing Heidi, a children's movie. And then Oakland scores two touchdowns in the time left, beating the Jets 43 to 32. Executives tried to preempt this, but they couldn't reach operations. No one on the East coast got to see Oakland's comeback. People were rather put out. This has been ranked as the fifth worst television blunder of all time and has led to sports matches generally being ordered to preempt anything else if they run late (to the ire of non-sports fans).
- In 2007, bitter rivals Buffalo and Ottawa were meeting in the NHL playoffs. The game went into overtime as both goalies were red hot that day. But oops! the game was on NBC, which still hadn't learned its lesson. Overtime was shunted to Versus, an upstart cable channel which few providers carried, in favor of an hour of pre-race coverage of The Preakness Stakes.
- 2010, July, a hot summer afternoon. England's first match in The World Cup. Expectations are high. All around the country fans gather in pubs, homes and at parties. Three minutes of tense action goes by. The crowd are on the edge of their seats, England has the ball and are soaring upfield as if unopposed. ITV accidentally start rolling the adverts scheduled for half time. Less than a minute later it cuts back in to the action. The score? 1-0.
- During the Evo 2010 Super Street Fighter IV grand final match, the online stream, being watched by over 27,000 people at the time, went out. During the final moments of the match.
- Leroy "Satchel" Paige may have been one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time. However, he spent the bulk of his prime years in the Negro Leagues with spotty record keeping and no press coverage. By the time the Major Leagues started integrating he was still a good pitcher but past his prime years. We'll never really know how good his best actually was. The same goes for many of the greats of the Negro Leagues.
- The first maximum break in a televised snooker tournament was made by John Spencer at the Holstein International in 1978. Unfortunately, while the tournament was televised, it was generally only the later stages of each match. Spencer scored his maximum in the second frame of his quarter-final, while the TV crew were on a break.
- It was standard for Ancient Greek theatre that everything that actually happened was offstage and characters only appeared to talk about it—it doesn't seem to have been until quite recently that it occurred to dramatists that people might like to actually see this stuff happen.
- It was therefore also done like this in the early days of Opera, as the whole genre was initially heavily influenced by Greek theatre.
- The death of the title character in Macbeth. He and Macduff leave the stage fighting, and then Macduff returns holding Macbeth's head.
- In Cyrano de Bergerac, the title character fights against an ambush of one hundred thugs during the hiatus between Act I and Act II. He kills 7 or 8 of them, and the rest flees.
- Happens prominently in Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore, though not quite for the usual we-can't-afford-to-stage-this reason. The climax of the story, our hero Robin Oakapple having a Eureka Moment that solves everybody's problems, happens offstage while two of the supporting leads fall back in love with each other. It's only after their duet that Robin runs back on, dragging the entire cast with him, to explain what he's figured out.
- Between issues 2 and 3 of Comic Book SNAFU, the Riddler has somehow captured Akiza and Gajeel, despite the former being a Badass Normal at most and the latter two having Psychic Powers and magic respectively.
- 8-Bit Theater features this as a fundamental part of the humor of the comic. Most of the promised epic battle scenes (a) don't happen at all; (b) are resolved with a completely mundane anticlimax; (c) get resolved off-panel, frequently by a different character or characters. This includes the defeat of the Final Boss.
- A regular occurrence in Tellurion because of the design choice of the author. Small snapshots sans dialogue express the whole story, making large sections appear like Sequential Art montages rather than a conventional webcomic. How it happens that the main characters can escape from guards, fight groups of enemies or catch monster-sized fish is not shown: just the reactions for having already done so. What happened in-between is left as an exercise for the viewer's imagination.
- Played straight in M9Girls: We see anti-heroine Golden being overpowered by a small army of cyborgs, before cutting to action somewhere else. When we are back to the scene, Golden is shown in a victorious pose among the fallen cyborgs. Probably done on purpose since both the characters and the readers don't really know the full extent of Golden's powers.
- Played for laughs by Sluggy Freelance.
"Okay, we were going to dedicate a full Sunday comic to the epic battle, but it's Bun-Bun against a turkey! Come on people!
- Meat Shield provided the page image as a lampshade to the trope.
- Played with again, The ninth issue of the now-defunct sprite comic InSONICnia is, basically, a standoff between Sonic and Shadow before they start fighting. The tenth issue is missing/broken. The eleventh issue is pretty much nothing but the characters talking about how awesome the fight was... oh, and Shadow being convinced to move into the house.
- Parodied in xkcd here.
- A Running Gag in Basic Instructions is the viewer never gets to see any of superhero Rocket Hat's epic, well, superheroism, just awed after-the-fact descriptions. And then there's this comic, which is one of the most literal examples of this trope ever.
- The battle between Mell and Dr. Narbon in Narbonic during the story "Battle for the Lost Diamond Mines of Brazil". Lampshaded to hell and back when Mell comments not only on how awesome it was, but how "hard to draw" it would have been.
- The sheer scope of Homestuck requires that many awesome scenes be left out or glossed over for the sake of moving the story along, but the Trolls' fight against the 12x prototyped Black King is arguably the off-screen climax of Act 5-1. Its absence inspired the 6-minute long song Rex Duodecim Angelus and a Flash fan collaboration.
- Also Eridan's rampage in the Land of Wrath and Angels. The Angels were supposedly unkillable, but Eridan managed to do it through a full minute of sustained fire from Ahab's Crosshairs. He killed so many they started attacking on sight, so he wiped out the whole race.
- Also, in [S] ACT 6 ACT 6 INTERMISSION 1, where which cuts out early due to glitches and a stardust clog caused by Caliborn, which is then Lampshaded on the following page. The following pages are about explaining what happened during the flash, though with the problem that none of the heroes remember what actually happened.
- In Act 7, the treasure to defeat Lord English is apparently unleashed on him. We don't see what it does or how (or if?) it kills him.
- In the The Homestuck Epilogues, virtually everything eventful in the Candy timeline happens off-camera, with the actual story being solely about how those events affect the characters' relationships.
- In Girl Genius, Violetta can steal anything. Even if it's being held by someone else, who is watching her, and she's across the room. However, these amazing feats of misdirection and sleight of hand only happen just off-panel.
- Lampshaded early in Errant Story as happening because the artist was too lazy to draw a panel. As the comic underwent Cerebus Syndrome and the melees became much more serious (and much more elaborate), that all changed.
- Tower of God: Kang Horyang reveals his true form◊ and then proceeds to beat Rapdevil into a bloody pulp. Offscreen.
- Happened in Dinosaur Comics:
T-Rex: Time to go on a wacky adventure, which would be quite amazing to an imaginary third party with the ability to see my actions rendered as a continuous narrative!
T-Rex: Whew!! Kick ass!
- Whatever it was Bluey did with the giant robot in Dragon Tails, it was awesome enough to make Enigma admit that it was pretty awesome.
- We never do get to see how Ace saved Freeda from a brainwashed mook's clutches in Commander Kitty, since the next time we see them is long enough after that for them to grab Triple-I disguises. Same with how Nin Wah fought off an army of goons three times her size and wrecked her mechanical arm in the process.
- A knife fight at a Halloween party between a man dressed as Snake-Eyes and a homicidal, Matrix-styling penguin is only related the morning after in this Lost In Confusion strip.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Miko Miyazaki gets this twice in when she defeats both Redcloak and the Order of the Stick itself offscreen, all by herself.
- Team Evil also get this, when they enter a dungeon complex full of monsters, and the next panel has them emerging while discussing how epic the battle was and how difficult to draw it would have been.
- Vaarsuvius single-handedly rescued a damsel from a dragon while trapped in the Semi-Elemental Plane of Ranch Dressing. V won't speak of the adventure, which means we never get to see the action.
- Knights of Buena Vista is a Campaign Comic covering Disney films, and to add some action, extra battles are thrown in "off panel".
- The Frozen (2013) campaign starts off with the king, queen, and other player characters apparently dying in an epic battle against pirates and sea monsters.
- Some suspenseful or action-packed scenes will resolve themselves in this manner in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja as a joke. At one point, while trying to smuggle a missile into NASA, the Doctor is accosted by a park ranger who has him by surprise and at gunpoint. The next page consists of Doc casually continuing on his way to his destination like nothing had happened, with the top half of the page helpfully captioned, "HE IS A NINJA."
- Sometime during the Rhapsodies 2012 Halloween Episode, Gage manages to get a mountain lion into a headlock.
- The daily and entirely unremarkable adventures of Isaac from Paranatural.
- Niels gives us a truly epic one from 300 after Niels shoots 250, where the trope was invoked because the rampage was "too violent to show". The end result is a broken nose for Duncan, enough injured mooks to max out the hospital's bed capacity, and Niels having his arm broken and his eye shot out. With his own gun. By 300.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: While looking for Onni in an area ridden with Undead Abomination monsters several weeks after he has gone through it, the other characters run into what's left of a monster Onni is implied to have killed himself.
- Whateley Universe: in the combat finals for the end of fall 2006 term at Whateley Academy, the authors have showed us over a dozen combat finals ranging from awesome to hysterical to embarrassing. But every character keeps talking about Chaka's unbelievably awesome combat final against three superpowered opponents, in a disaster scenario with a tornado and earthquakes. It wasn't shown, and Word of God says it never will be.
- The Cinema Snob's main complaint about Super Hornio Brothers.
- Everyman HYBRID has Evan charging at Slender Man with a baseball bat, and later the group attempts to run him over with a car. Both times the end result is cut away.
- The Homestar Runner cartoon "Weclome Back"[sic] had Strong Bad talking about checking an e-mail in mid-air. Unfortunately, he pulled the "mash stop when you think you're mashing record and mash record when you think you're mashing stop" routine, so all we get is footage of Strong Bad in an airplane talking about how excited he is, and then footage of Strong Bad talking about how incredible the whole thing was, mentioning that they met various celebrities and apparently encountered a narwal. Of course, this being Strong Bad, he might have exaggerated it.
- The final episode of Red vs. Blue Season 9 has Caboose recounting their daring rescue operation. None of it is shown due to the perspective of the narrator.
- Season 13 ends just after Epsilon does a speech on how he's making an Heroic Sacrifice to ensure the Reds and Blues will survive taking on an army. We never see said battle, which the characters assure in a later season that was quite awesome.
- PeanutButterGamer's Pikmin playthrough resulted in one against the final boss. He lost most of his Pikmin and left two red ones behind, heading to the onions to grab more. Upon returning to the final boss' area, the two pikmin had managed to defeat it on their own.
- The Gmod Idiot Box:
- In Das Bo Schitt's Computer Quest  (a side-action Gmod animation explaining why The Gmod Idiot Box episode 10 hadn't been released yet), Metrocop #1 and Chuck Norris fight for the final piece of Bo Schitt's brand-new computer: the motherboard. Too bad the scene went missing just as they were going to come to terms, coupled with Peter Griffin's laugh.
- Episode 15: Albert Wesker, who is for some reason an evil moon ala Majora's Mask, charges at a superhumanly muscled Chris Redfield. The presumably awesome battle cuts out right before Chris lands his first punch, with the explanation that "this video is no longer available due to a "fuck you" from Nintendo."
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog:
"Captain Hammer threw a car at my head."
- The second episode of the Yogscast Tekkit series, starts out with an exchange by the players about (supposedly sometime between episodes 1 and 2) converting a wooden pickaxe to a banjo, lighting it on fire and playing a solo, and a helicopter.
- During filming for Shadow of Israphel, Simon Lane reportedly caught up to Jock_Fireblast and owned him straight away. However, Lewis Brindley served as the cameraman at the time, and thus the awesomeness was not seen. Subsequently, the fight had to be reshot and took considerably longer.
- Episode 36 of Jesse Cox's Let's Play of Saints Row: The Third ends with Jesse stepping away when his pizza arrives while his partner Wowcrendor protects him. However, because the videos are streamed from Jesse's point of view, the final five and a half minutes consist of Jesse's character just standing there while Crendor runs back and forth reacting out loud to whatever he's shooting at. The only action we see are the rare moments when Crendor happens to kill something in front of Jesse. Fortunately, Crendor's reactions and the insertion of Yakety Sax turn the Offscreen Moment of Awesome into a Crowning Moment of Funny.
WowCrendor: How long does it take to get a pizza? How long?! Aahh!! The car set me on fire!
- In Worm:
- The Siberian is The Juggernaut and a well-known Hero Killer, to the point that the Protectorate actually avoids engaging her because they've never been able to make any headway. After the Undersiders discover and publicize her weakness, however, Dragon hunts her controller down and kills him offscreen.
- Later, there's Heartbreaker, who throughout the entire story has been built up as a scary background villain, a mind-controller who can permanently force his victims to fall in love with him and uses this power to build up an entire family of parahumans. At some point during the Time Skip, Imp — Grue's kid sister — murdered him.
- Golem got one when he fought at least ten members of the Slaughterhouse Nine. And apparently won.
- Parodied in Jacksfilms' Breaking Dawn in a Minute.
Edward: There's going to be an epic not-battle that we need to prepare for.Bella: What's a not-battle?Edward: It's like a really cool battle that plays out, but only in someone's head.Bella: Well, what happens?Edward: In reality? Nothing. You use your force-field powers and everyone walks away.Bella: I have force-field powers?Edward: Sure.
- Ultra Fast Pony, being an abridged series, will sometimes leave action-packed scenes on the cutting room floor because of the time limit, or for the sake of changing the plot from the original... Or just to troll the viewers. Like in "Ponynet Fight!" the characters run into a vicious hydra, but their escape is replaced with a "14 hours later..." transition card or in "How to Control Freaks" shows Twilight Sparkle breaking Discord's mind control over most of her friends, but skips over Rainbow Dash. There's even a Lampshade Hanging via subtitle: "Rainbow Dash normalized off-screen."
- In the promo for Season 3 of Epic Rap Battles of History, Adolf Hitler kills a Rancor with a regular Luger pistol. All we see is him picking up the Luger, the screen going black, shortly followed by a gunshot.
- Heirophant Green and Silver Chariot beat Lovers offscreen during the Lovers arc in Vaguely Recalling JoJo. Joseph mentions that involved many difficult battles.
- Team CFVY are a week late returning from their mission. There's not a scratch on any of them, and they turn out to be such phenomenal fighters they can fight side-by-side with the teachers. However, all Velvet reveals about the over-extended mission is that they're a week late due to being overrun by an incredible amount of Grimm... but it's okay because Yatsuhashi was looking out for her.
- There's been a large chunk of off screen fights in Volume 5. The most egregious one being the final battle with Ruby, Weiss, and Blake vs. Emerald, Mercury, and Hazel, all of which happened off screen in favor of a What the Hell, Hero? speech from Yang to Raven.
- In 'Let's Drown Out Final Fight', Yahtzee and Gabriel were mad at the fact that their audio recorder died and allegedly lost some good jokes and deep discussions, in addition to Gabriel having to play the whole thing again and Yahtzee have to sit through the whole thing again.
- Apparently, during the technical difficulties in 'Let's Drown Out Assassin's Creed Brotherhood' video, Gabriel saved Yahtzee from a team of ninjas..
- After the final battle of Der Disneygang, a crossover between Disney and the characters from the Hitler Rants phenomenon, Himmler casually tells Fegelein he never expected Cinderella to handle an AK47 as well as she did. Unfortunately, she's never seen doing so.
- In the final episode of Critical Role's first campaign, Grog draws the Void card from the Deck of Many Things, causing him to lose his soul. Since the whole party is Level 19 or 20 by this point, the resulting venture into Pandemonium is treated (especially by the DM) as nothing more than an annoying side jaunt, and the session cuts to two weeks later with Grog's soul being restored.
- Leading up to C0DA, due to the Un-Installment Missing Episodes, we don't get to see the details of Numidium's "erasure" of the Altmer, its confrontation with the Nerevarine and Akulakhan, its reclaiming "Tone-Shouts" from Atmora", or it "stomping" all of Hammerfell into the ocean. Secondhand Storytelling implies that these were epic events to behold.
- In The Kilian Experience's Crusader Kings II video, his goal is to take over the whole of Europe as the small country of Cornwall, a task he acknowledges could take hours. The video then cuts to 20 minutes later, showing that Kilian took over everything but a single island in that time.
Kilian: "That took twenty minutes. Cornwall is surprisingly overpowered."