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During the 1970s and 1980s, the increasing popularity of channel surfing led to networks putting mini-trailers for their shows on the start of that very show. Usually preceded by "on tonight's X..." or "this time, on X...", the clips would then show all of the best stunts, most of the guest characters, an overview of the plot and sometimes even reveal major plot twists. As most shows back then weren't exactly complex affairs, this usually meant that the entire plot was summarized in the first two minutes, turning the following runtime into a tedious exercise of filling in the gaps.

Ironically, although the practice was invented to keep people from flicking over to another channel, summarising the entire story in two minutes may have had the unexpected side effect of facilitating channel surfing.

These days this trope is almost exclusively reserved for Reality Shows, and even then only shows the first ten or fifteen minutes. This is still annoying for some, however, since any show that involves members of the cast being voted out at the halfway point can be inadvertently spoiled for those that are paying attention to who's in each scene.

In console games, this is a subtrope of the Attract Mode.

Compare Trailers Always Spoil, Spoiler Opening and On the Next.

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  • Later episodes of Pokémon: The Series start with a scene from the middle of the episode, essentially making every episode into a How We Got Here.
  • Transformers Victory used previews.
  • Cardcaptors would sometimes have these.
  • The first season of Rosario + Vampire had a selection of clips from each weeks episode in it's opening.
  • Sailor Moon did this up until season four, when it got rid of the precaps and instead used that space for a more tradtional Cold Open.
  • Bleach has started doing this in the mid 200's.
  • Vandread had blipvert-style precaps in each episode's opening, similar to the Battlestar Galactica reboot.
  • Durarara!! opens is a quasi-Precap after episode 2, showing scenes of the current episode with flavor conversation from the cast.
  • Blue Comet SPT Layzner has one that does "on tonight's X..." on the middle of the opening sequence (Before the chorus plays, see for yourself here (starting at 1:00 mark)).
  • Kiratto Pri☆Chan has done this at the start of the show since Season 2, where a different character tells the viewers what is going to happen (Daia in Season 2 and Kirachu in season 3).
  • Every episode of Mobile Fighter G Gundam would start with the announcer giving a brief overview of the overall plot, followed by a statement of who would be fighting who this week, capped off with his catchphrase of "Mobile Fight all set? Ready... GO!!!".

    Live Action TV 

  • The A-Team had these at the front of the episode with assorted dialog and action sequences put together.
  • The Amazing Race did this only in its fourteenth season.
  • Parodied in the "S.O.B.s" episode of Arrested Development. It's announced at the beginning that someone will die by the end, but halfway through the episode, the narrator reveals who it's going to be.
  • The original Battlestar Galactica
  • The new Battlestar Galactica also did post-teaser Precaps in the opening credits, an homage to the similar rapid-fire Precap credits on Space: 1999. They're very fast and have no dialog, making them relatively spoiler free. Usually.
  • They did this on The Dukes of Hazzard, showing highlights of the evening's dramatic moments and car stunts.
  • Ellery Queen: "This man is about to be killed. Was it [scenes of various characters saying how much they hated the victim but didn't kill them], or someone else? Match wits with Ellery Queen to see if you can discover Whodunnit."
  • The Incredible Hulk (1977) also featured these, almost always ending with a scene from just before or during the second "Hulk-out".
  • Knight Rider featured these in many episodes.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers did these and On the Next for a while.
  • This one goes back to the 1960s. Each intro to the original Mission: Impossible featured a quick action montage of scenes from that evening's episode over the light fuse animation. A few episodes from their final season also had the traditional teaser format prior to the theme intro.
  • This practice was commonplace for majority of the NBC Mystery Movies (Columbo, McCloud, McMillan and Wife, etc.).
  • Police Story (1973) showed scenes from the episode of the day as part of the overall intro to the show, which was one of the first "short" themes, which in itself was a forerunner to today's program intros.
  • Thunderbirds also showed a very quick montage of action scenes from the upcoming episode of that series. It usually consisted almost entirely of Technology Porn and Stuff Blowing Up.
  • SeaQuest DSV only used precaps on a handful of episodes, where the events were actually major enough to be worth teasing.
  • Stargate SG-1: For a fair number of episodes in the first season, a short mini-trailer would summarize the plot for the episode you were about to watch. This was discarded before the season finished.
  • Top Gear used to play this straight, talking about the featured cars and stunts. Nowadays, the beginning of each episode features completely normal or boring stuff that is shown with overblown commentary by Clarkson, giving no indication of what's actually going to happen.
    Clarkson: On tonight's show, I wear a hat...Richard wears a hat...and James wears a hat!
  • The Colbert Report does this every night. Or used to, until the majority of episodes started running without one.
  • Zoom: the 1999-2005 version had a 15-30 second preview of what will happen on the episode at the beginning of the episode except on rare occasions.
  • The Sunny Side Up Show: Each week's theme would have a page on, and the hosts would talk about the theme in promos.
  • Hill Street Blues used both Previously on… and Precaps simultaneously. "Previously On Hill Street Blues [a few scenes from previous episodes]. Tonight on Hill Street Blues [new scenes]." Eventually they dropped the Precaps to reduce the amount of clutter at the top of the show.
  • Andi Mack uses this trope combined with On the Next as its ending credits for the next episode preview.
  • Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger also follows the Layzner example above, but unlike the latter, the song still goes on while the trope is happening.
  • This was a regular feature of The Rockford Files.


  • From 1991 to 2008, Adventures in Odyssey made use of these. After Whit or some other character gave the opening blurb, the listener would hear a string of snippets from the forthcoming episode. As time approached closer to the latter year, they were used with less and less frequency, before being phased out entirely for the 2010 relaunch.
  • Dimension X: Most episodes begin with a summary of the premise, indicating who the story is about and what the central conflict will be. Some of the time, this description includes the episode name as a Title Drop. The first episode instead describes the series as a whole, explaining the unknown future getting predicted, going directly into the story from there. This same opening is reused for "No Contact".

    Video Games 

  • Most of the Resident Evil games feature FMV of various scenes in the game - usually bosses, but sometimes clips showing how to complete some of the puzzles.
  • Most video games, in fact, if left idle on the main menu, will go into Attract Mode. This may consist of showing a clip of action from the game, either a short snippet of a cut scene, or a gameplay demo.
    • Super Metroid for the SNES goes a little farther than just showing gameplay snippets during its "attract mode"; the locations of three suit power-ups and how to get them are shown, as is a special technique that can recharge the Power Suit at the expense of ammo (though the exact method to do this is not shown - only the result, and that it's possible)
      • Those are only shown after you beat the game once, so it's not such a big deal.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, if left idle at the outset, will run through two different full-length trailers showing various highlights of game play and cutscenes. The combined length of the two trailers comes to nearly ten minutes.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, letting the game idle at the title screen will eventually play a montage of cutscenes from the game backed by an instrumental remix of "Sanctuary", the main theme.
    • The original game does this as well, with an absolutely epic orchestral remix of it's main theme, "Simple and Clean".
  • Persona 4 does the same thing as the Twilight Princess example above, if one suffers a game over or chooses to return to the title screen, featuring a remix of the main battle theme over a (spoiler-laden) montage of gameplay.
    • Persona 3 FES actually has two different intros - the one from the original game and the one made for FES (which spoils bits of "The Answer"). The two alternate each time you go back to the title screen.
  • Dead Rising includes a short cutscene about a family crashing their car and being overrun by zombies. It looks unrelated until you see a picture of them in the wallet of the Psycho Vietnam Vet Boss. It was their death that made him crazy.

    Western Animation 

  • In at least one instance, Total Drama did a preview for next week's all new episode... before this week's all new episode had ended. Being that TDI involves people being voted off, well, now one knew some of the people who were safe. Way to go, TDI.
    • TDI also came up with parody clips...of the new episode, during said episode. The point was to be silly, usually along the theme of 'One character loses his mind, scares the others and or believes he is a giraffe'. They'd use clips of stuff that hadn't been shown yet, inducing more spoilering.
  • Many episodes of The Flintstones had, at least for some airings, a seemingly random scene from the episode run before the opening titles. Later viewers unaccustomed to the practice watching decades-old reruns on Cartoon Network were probably confused to no end by this.
  • Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures: Episodes began with a 30-second montage of scenes from the two 11-minute segments contained within. Strangely, this was retained on the show's DVD release.
  • In the Mainframe produced Action Man (2000), summaries describing the plot of the episodes were placed at the very beginning of that episode. This practice began with Episode 11, but was then retroactively done with earlier episodes.
  • The Disney Afternoon: During the original syndicated run, preview clips of the remaining shows in the block would play at the conclusion of one show prior to next commercial break.
  • Filly Funtasia had these at the start of each episode, and was one of the only modern cartoons to do so. They're eventually phased out in favor of traditional Cold Opens once the series begins to take a turn for the more serious side.
  • Every episode of The Raccoons had a short preview of the episode before the main title sequence.
  • PBS Kids went through a phase from the mid 90's to early 2000's where many of their shows used Precaps:
    • Adventures from the Book of Virtues had not one of these bumpers, but two of them. The first one, used on early airings, has a female narrator explaining the plot of the episode, while later airings used one that had a song sung by a male voice that went "Come on and spend some time with the book of virtues!" and then had a male narrator comment on whatever the episode's lesson was going to be. Unlike most of these bumpers, one for the episode that was going to air that day played before the funding credits, while the next episode's preview played after the PBS Kids logo.
    • Both of The Berenstain Bears cartoon adaptations employed these. The 1985 series would run one at the beginning of every episode, previewing both segments that would make up a half hour; these were cut from home video releases, leading to some who grew up on the show through that route unaware that it ever had these. The 2003 series on PBS Kids also had these, but rather than previewing both segments prior to the opening, they would only preview the next segment, and would do it for both, similar to the Dragon Tales example below.
    • Between the Lions showed a montage of clips from the episode that was about to be played before the funding credits.
    • PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch had bumpers that played before the end credits of each show that began with a screen that said "Coming up next on (name of the next show)!" with kids' voices reading the text, followed by a short clip of the episode of the show that was going to play next.
    • Charlie Horse Music Pizza ended each episode with a promo enticing the viewer to watch more episodes.
    • Before the funding credits of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood start, Daniel talks to the viewers about what he's going to do in that episode before telling them "I'll be right back!".
    • Dragon Tales had "Coming up next on Dragon Tales", which was usually shown before the first set of funding credits and before Dragon Tunes. As PBS started adding more and more interstitial content, it was eliminated. This bumper was also shown on CBC airings of the show.
    • Their airings of Franny's Feet had Franny showing us a brief clip of the episode before the theme song started.
    • Individual airings of George Shrinks used a bumper in between the "Viewers Like You" bumper and the theme song, in which the titular character explains what the episode is going to be about to the viewer.
    • Jay Jay the Jet Plane used these since its Channel Hop from TLC to PBS.
    • Kino's Storytime was the very first show to use this. It started with Kino greeting the viewers and then showed parts of the stories used for the day's episode.
    • Sesame Street had "Coming soon on Sesame Street!", which showed a clip of the street story from the next episode, followed by Big Bird saying "Toodle-loo!". While the preview of the next episode was used until the end of the Around the Corner era, the "Toodle-loo!" part of the ending was kept until 2003.
    • Sid the Science Kid opened each episode with a preview of the upcoming episode and ended with a promo telling people to watch the rest of the series, all narrated by Sid.
    • Super Why! begins with Whyatt introducing the story that will be read and what reading skills will be taught in the episode before the funding credits play.


The Electric Company

A precap of the episode is shown after the intro

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