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Opening Narration

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A short monologue at the beginning of a series (usually during the Title Sequence) that briefly explains the series's premise. These are typically vague and prosaic, sometimes falling into Fauxlosophic Narration, and are delivered either by a lead character, or by a Narrator. The content is similar to the expository type of theme tune.

Usually, these monologues do not change much over the course of a series, though some shows do revise them from season to season. The whole concept is probably an artifact from the days of radio, when, lacking title graphics, shows needed a memorable speech at the beginning to identify themselves to listeners.

Sometimes, a show's first episode will start with a "Cold Opening", another name for The Teaser, and in every episode thereafter the Opening Narration will take its place. This will only happen if said episode is a Welcome Episode or an Everyone Meets Everyone Premiere.

Also becoming increasingly common in Animes is to use a clip montage of the respective episode with the show's main character(s) explaining the plot of the episode.

Especially common for Speculative Fiction; often because the assumption that Viewers Are Morons prevails.

Also known as a prologue or a "saga sell", an opening narration is often used to 'set the scene' at the opening of a show that might be confusing for first-time viewers (Joss Whedon famously used one for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as the show was initially a mid-season replacement and new viewers might not 'get' the concept).

See Opening Monologue when this trope is used for standalone works or exclusively at the beginning of a series. See also Opening Scroll and Rules Spiel. Contrast with Signing Off Catchphrase.

Example subpages:

Other examples

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    Audio Plays 
  • Erika and the Princes in Distress: The first episode of the audio adaptation opens with one, which briefly describes the world in which the story takes place.
    Narrator: Imagine a world... A world in which genders as we know them would be reversed, swapped around. A world in which women would be the dominant gender, and in which men would be a little more, let's say... weak. This story first starts in the Kingdom of Brutes. Ah, here! There seems to be a bit of action in the castle's courtyard.
  • Stan Freberg parodied the opening narration of the TV Show Dragnet in his hit audio sketch Saint George and the Dragonet.
    Narrator: The legend you are about to hear is true. Only the needle should be changed to protect the record.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Legend of Total Drama Island, every chapter except for the prologue and the first chapter of the inner story begins with stock narration based on that in The Book of the Thousand and One Nights: "The next morning... and then she began to speak." There is some variation, most notably between weekday and weekend.
  • The Dragon Age: Inquisition series Twice Upon an Age is littered with notes from Varric Tethras, who is credited as the editor of the series. The side volume Agents Acquired, however, opens with the longest one of these in the entire series, to give Varric room in which to explain just why the story exists and how annoyed the author is with him for insisting that they write it.

  • Every Captain Underpants book starts with a paragraph introducing the reader to George and Harold and describing them, concluding with the words "Remember that now". The second part of the two parter expanded upon this by introducing the other side characters and the book's villains who were currently chasing them.
  • Every novel in The Wheel of Time opens with an introductory passage saying: The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend Fades to Myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.
  • From the second Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note novel (The Ripped Page Knows) on, the first chapter (titled Aya Tachibana's Monologue from the third novel on) of every novel would include a brief summary of the premise, including what Soccer Team KZ is, how she get to know them, then followed by some materials that are different in different novels. The spinoff series Yousei Team G Jiken Note is similar, with the opening chapter called Tennen Character.
  • All the Sector General novels use exactly the same paragraph of exposition describing the setting on the third or fourth page. The effect makes it seem very similar to a TV series having an Opening Narration between The Teaser and the main body of the episode.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign has each volume begin with a prologue by the White Queen, explaining the theme of the volume.

  • Sabaton:
    • The band's two Concept Albums about World War I each have an alternate "History Edition" where each track opens with a narration (by voice actress Bethan Dixon Bate) introducing the topic of the song. The second, The War to End All Wars, ramps it up with an entire prologue track, "Sarajevo", describing the Plot-Triggering Death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that started the war.
    • The Sabaton History Patreon-exclusive "History Channel Editions" of the band's albums preface each track with an introductory narration by historian Indy Neidell. Unlike the History Edition, the narrations are more factual descriptions than dramatic introductions.

  • The first episode of Mystery Show started with A Minor Kidroduction. All the subsequent episoders started with its Opening Narration:
    Starlee: "I'm Starlee Kine, and this is Mystery Show. Every week, I solve a new mystery. Mysteries that can't be solved online. Mysteries you can't solve yourself. Up until now, there hasn't been anyone to help with this. That person is now me."
  • Mission to Zyxx gets a new one each season.
    1. "The period of civil war has ended. The rebels have defeated the evil Galactic Monarchy and established the harmonious Federated Alliance. Now, Ambassador Pleck Decksetter and his intrepid crew travel the farthest reaches of the galaxy to explore astounding new worlds, discover their heroic destinies, and meet weird bug creatures and stuff. This is Mission to Zyxx!"
    2. "It is a period of civil war. The rebellion against the sinister and corrupt Federated Alliance grows stronger, and the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance. Now, rebel Emissary Pleck Decksetter and his intrepid crew travel the farthest reaches of the galaxy to explore astounding new worlds, discover their heroic destinies, and meet weird bug creatures and stuff. This is Mission to Zyxx!"
    3. "It is a time of fear and unrest. Emperor Nermut Bundaloy rules the galaxy with an iron fist, and also a planet-crusher crusher. Now, Zima Knight Pleck Decksetter and his intrepid crew travel the farthest reaches of the galaxy to defeat whackness, bring balance to the Space, and meet weird bug creatures and stuff. This is Mission to Zyxx!"
    4. "It is a time of chaos. Without a ruler, the galaxy is paralysed by lawlessness, unrest, and of course, the colossal Allwheat, which looks like some sort of black hole sun. Now, Captain Dar and their intrepid crew must survive the looming threats, reunite a fractured galaxy, and meet weird bug creatures and stuff. This is Mission to Zyxx!"
    5. "Space. Some is chill. Some is tooped up. All is part of the great, infinite cosmic ballet. The venerable starship the RSS Synergy forges ever deeper into uncharted regions of their galaxy, growing the Coalition of United Planets in the name of science, benevolence, and peace. Now, lead envoy C53 and his intrepid crew explore new worlds, forge alliances, and search for a way back home to finally fulfil their Mission to Zyxx!"
    6. "It is a time of great unease. The crew of the Bargearean Jade have finally made it home to their beloved quadrant. But something is different. Wrong. Whack! Now, our intrepid heroes must root out the bad vibes, master the three-sided coin of freshness, and face down foes like they're never imagined on their final Mission to Zyxx!"
  • "Welcome to Desert Island Discworld, the show that believes it pays to look at any book an orang-utan gives you. I'm Al Kennedy, and each episode I ask my guest which Terry Pratchett book they would want to take with them if they were cast away to a desert island."

    Puppet Shows 
  • Thunderbirds: "Five... four... three... two... one! Thunderbirds are go!"
  • Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: "The Mysterons: sworn enemies of Earth... leading the fight, one man whom fate has made indestructible! His name: Captain Scarlet."
  • In the American adaptation of The D.J. Kat Show, after D.J. does his Theme Tune Rap, the narrator gives a different opening narration that is specific to each episode, followed by a Title Scream. He then gives a different introduction for D.J.'s human assistant "Elizabeth!"note  (season 1) / "Jennifer Davis!"note  (season 2).

    Tabletop Games 

  • In the prologue of Star Impact, a young Aster recalls her fondness for the Legend, an undefeated boxing champion, as a kid, and how they suddenly vanished from the world one day:
    Aster: There was once a star
    I would stare at it a lot as a kid
    It was so beautiful that I couldn't look away
    But one day it disappeared, leaving nothing but a black sky.

    Web Original 

Alternative Title(s): Saga Sell


Fallout 3

The opening narration to Fallout 3.

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Main / OpeningNarration

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