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Slow-Paced Beginning

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"The film needs to be slower and duller at the start so that the viewers who walked into the wrong theatre have time to leave before the main action starts."
Andrei Tarkovsky, explaining the beginning of his film, Stalker

A pacing problem that occurs when the beginning of a story is so front-loaded with bland exposition and details about the world contained within, that it takes forever to finally reach the interesting part of the story that puts all of that information to good use. In other words, this is a specific type of Infodump that occurs at the beginning of a story.


This can understandably take a while to get through, and you may well have lost heart before you manage it. It might be worth sticking around though: there are more than a few works that are seen as being one of the best in their genre/medium that suffer from this trope, only revealing their true greatness once you manage to slog through all the setup. But that tends to be the exception, not the rule; and either way, the writer probably doesn't do themselves any favours by boring their audience at the start. As many writers will tell you, the first line of a book will often decide whether it gets published or not.

Sometimes, though, this pacing can be used deliberately. Maybe the writer wants to establish the hero's former life as slow, tedious, and mundane before they discover their Secret Legacy. Or, in the case of historical fiction, the writer wants to ensure that the reader doesn't need the Encyclopedia Britannica close to hand to understand what's going on. But, once again, deliberately making the beginning of your story boring is a very risky game; it can take quite a tenacious audience to deal with this in the blind hope that your story will eventually have things happen in it. And if their patience is wearing thin by that point, their reaction may be less happiness that such tenacity was rewarded and more annoyance that you made them wait for so long.


A lot of internet works such as webcomics or fanfiction can demonstrate this as a natural consequence of the creator learning to cartoon, plot, and write dialogue by the seat of their pants.

Compare to Padding, Early Game Hell, Filler, Growing the Beard, Prolonged Prologue, Developing Doomed Characters, Cosmic Deadline, and Arc Fatigue. Often goes hand-in-hand with Checkpoint Starvation. It's also a common effect of Easing into the Adventure.

Contrast Lost in Medias Res, where a show starts with too little exposition, and Ending Fatigue, when it takes forever to end, not start. Also contrast Action Prologue, which throws you into the action from the get-go. In Video Games, the endgame version is Disappointing Last Level (although a game can suffer from both). Not to be confused with the It Gets Better Project, which is aimed at curbing teen suicides.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • The first four episodes of Attack on Titan are somewhat slow after the Titan attack at the start of the series, focusing on character interactions and world-building. Once the Titans show up in Episode 5 and all hell breaks loose, though, the show picks up and becomes a much more enjoyable watch. Though this only occurs in the anime; in the manga, the author chose to put the training mini-arc after the Trost battle was over, probably because he precisely wanted to avoid this trope. The drawback being that we are introduced to a lot of characters we don't know anything about right off the bat.
  • The anime version of Black Clover stretches 3 chapters into 5 episodes and takes the entire first episode before Asta gets his Grimoire. These episodes are slow and are filled with flashbacks. The series doesn't pick up until Asta joins the Black Bulls and then picks up faster once the Bulls enter the first Dungeon.
  • Delicious in Dungeon takes a while to get going due to the Gag Series episodic feel at the start where Team Touden is mainly just going around the dungeon's first floors killing and eating whatever monster they come across. It only starts to delve into deeper storytelling once they encounter the Orc Chief in chapter 9, and Kabru's party gets introduced in chapter 10. The Red Dragon arc though is where things really get kicked up a notch.
  • Digimon Tamers starts like a Slice of Life show with mons, battling the Monster of the Week and exploring the character's lives and personalities. Then they go to the Digital World with lots of hopes and dreams. THEN, Episode 34 happens and everything gets weird. The difference is quite shocking, to say the least. Word of God says this was intentional.
  • Eureka Seven. In its earliest episodes, it seems like an average Shōnen series with a whiny Emo Teen protagonist; however, it improves as we learn more about the characters and their world, and it's the love story between Renton and Eureka that really sells it.
  • The first episode of Fate/Zero is twice as long as the others, and mainly consists of the participants in the Holy Grail War delivering exposition about the war and preparing to summon their Servants.
  • The anime adaptation of Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] begins with a double-length episode from Rin's POV that leads into her involvement in the Holy Grail War, followed by another double-length episode from Shirou's POV. This is then followed by Rin and Shirou going to meet with Kotomine, and things only pick up when Illya and Berserker attack.
  • Season 1 of Fist of the North Star is pretty slow due to the large amounts of filler episodes and plot rearrangements done to keep the show from overtaking the manga, which was in the middle of the Cassandra Arc at the time,Explanation  and the rather shoddy animation can be very off-putting to a first-time viewer. However, after Shin's defeat in the season finale, the show really picks things up and the rest of the show is faster-paced and more faithful to the source work, and the animation gradually starts to improve after the massive Animation Bump that came with the first Kenshiro vs. Raoh fight. Comparing the first season to the fourth, the latter is considerably better-paced, with filler being carefully intertwined with the source material's plot rather than having every filler story get pasted somewhere in the middle, and the animation is very detailed and pleasing to look at compared to Season 1's.
  • An inverted example with Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. One problem several people have with the show is that its first thirteen episodes cram about thirty chapters worth of material into them, compared to the 2003 anime series which takes around thirty episodes to cover and expand the same amount of material with some light filler, resulting in the first fifth or so of Brotherhood coming across at a rushed pace. This can be particularly troublesome for those who are more familiar with the 2003 anime than the manga and aren't aware of the second one being more faithful. Once Brotherhood fully diverges from what was shown in the 2003 anime, however, while some material is still trimmed, it gradually slows down to a much more manageable pace without seeming too drastic.
  • Heat Guy J appears to have attempted this, and suffered a Cosmic Deadline. It starts out very slowly and ends on quite an action-packed note, but many fans dropped off before even making it halfway through.
  • The first couple episodes of the 1999 Hunter × Hunter anime are rather slow-paced and generic, in part due to Filler and Padding of the source material, and also having to establish the typical Shōnen tropes it would later deconstruct. Once things get darker, and the deconstructive elements actually start to show, the story and characters become more psychological and compelling (though the Padding never actually goes away). Also, the second anime has been criticized for repeating the same event from the first anime series while ignoring likable parts and even cutting parts from the first manga chapter. However, after 60 episodes the series will cover for the first time the material the first anime never adapted.
  • I Am a Hero spends the first two hundred pages making you suffer through the everyday trials and tribulations of the protagonist before it actually gets on with the plot. To say it starts slow is like saying continental drift takes a while.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Part 1, Phantom Blood starts off as a generic period drama about an English nobleboy whose life is turned upside-down by his evil adoptive brother Dio Brando; it isn't until Dio becomes a vampire that the manga undergoes a massive Genre Shift into action-horror and the adventure truly becomes as bizarre as the series title claims.
    • Part 4, Diamond Is Unbreakable, has an unfocused plot at first, with the only overarching goal being finding the bow and arrow, while the heroes encounter a long series of Plot Irrelevant Villains who only get minor appearances afterwards (if they show up again at all). But once the Big Bad, Yoshikage Kira, makes his appearance, everything gets kicked up a notch and for this reason, part 4 is a common sight in the high rankings of many a fan's favorite parts list.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha starts off like it's going to be a standard Magical Girl show with a Gotta Catch 'Em All plot, but a few episodes in, it changes, as Nanoha runs into Fate Testarossa who is out to stop Nanoha and is more powerful, better trained, and a lot more desperate to complete the task.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is rather slow-paced for the first 30 or so episodes (basically, every episode generally follows the ZAFT-attacks-Kira-saves-the-day routine; that these episodes are more or less a remake of the original Gundam series doesn't exactly help), but after a few Wham Episodes SEED finally escapes this routine and sets off on a path to its own original, epic Grand Finale. To its defense, the first episodes do a good job of familiarizing and endearing the characters to the audience.
  • Monster suffers from a first book/few episodes filled with mustache-twirling villains and a protagonist who is a little bit too pure to be interesting. Fortunately, the villains become more complex and the series pulls back the focus a bit from the overly pure character for some more interesting ones.
  • Pacing issues like this are one of the biggest obstacles for new readers of the Negima! Magister Negi Magi manga; the first few volumes of the series are a fairly generic Love Hina-ish Unwanted Harem comedy series, and the actual plot doesn't show up until around at least chapter 15, and even then it isn't until around half a dozen volumes in that the series hits its stride. The official translation makes it worse, as the adapter of the first few volumes didn't realize that the early chapters do contain some important characterization and foreshadowing, so a lot of it ended up getting cut, bordering on a Macekre and making the opening material even weaker.
  • One Piece suffers this through various ways. The actual beginning of the story is notably not as action heavy as later arcs, and has been negatively compared to some of its contemporaries (Naruto and Bleach). Fans often state that "once you get to Arlong Park, the series gets REAL good"). Later arcs in the story will also spend several chapters building up the location and the characters in it (Wano being a good example).
  • PandoraHearts can be difficult for new readers in the beginning due to its Jigsaw Puzzle Plot nature. Interestingly, it isn't because of a lack of action, but rather because of the many odd occurrences that are given no explanation or context to help the reader understand. The Cheshire Arc is where many fans believe the story truly begins to hit its stride, acting as a clarifying point for what the varying goals of the main characters are, and from there the reading experience improves drastically.
  • Perfect Blue, while often considered to be one of the great Psychological Horror movies, and possibly the greatest where anime is concerned, takes a while to pick up. Until the first victim dies about a third of the way in, what we get is mostly exposition and foreshadowing, and the freaky scenes that do pop up almost come off as the filmmakers saying to the audience, "Wait for it..." Once "it" happens, however, the horror really begins, and that's when you see what all the fuss is about.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: To transcribe the average reaction:
    Episode One: Seen It A Million Times. Horror, Scenery Porn, but otherwise meh.
    Episode Two: Oookay, little Darker and Edgier, but whatever.
    Episode Three: HOLY SHIT!
    Episodes Four through Twelve: ...meep!
  • Rave Master has a slow start and poor artwork at the beginning of the manga. It isn't really until Sieg shows up that the series really kicks into gear, even if he leaves shortly afterward. This leads to the infamous Tower of Din arc, and the story escalates from there.
  • The first 50 or so chapters of the manga Reborn! (2004) are just there to introduce the characters and the world. It would be easy to think it was a comedy manga instead of the actual high-paced action manga it evolved into.
  • It can be very hard for a contemporary viewer to understand the hype behind the original anime for Sailor Moon. When marathoned, the first few episodes are Strictly Formula, and watching the same recycled animation can be very tedious after a while. Once the initial three are assembled though, the story becomes more complex and character-driven. When people praise the show, they generally talk about the second half of the first season, as well as R and S. You just have to sit through ten boring and repetitive episodes to get there.
  • The first season of Slayers can seem rather directionless, with the humor and pacing kind of awkward for most of the first half, not helped by a rather mediocre English dubbing if you're watching that. By the time Amelia is introduced though, the show starts finding its groove although others think the show only got good when Sylphiel was introduced in episode 18. On top of that, the English dub gets better halfway through the season when Veronica Taylor and Crispin Freeman join the cast and really give Zel and Amelia their voices. It also starts off a more interesting plot and introduces cooler villains, like Zangulus and Vrumugun, who continue to chase the heroes so even the filler episodes don't feel so pointless. By NEXT, the show really finds its stride, reaching its signature level of humor and solidifying the characters' personalities and quirks, as well as having what is arguably the best plot and character development in the whole franchise.
  • Space Battleship Yamato gets off to a slow start in both of its seasons, though the exposition and character introductions are interesting. For a show dealing with a giant space Battleship, the Yamato doesn't lift off and fly from earth until the end of the third episode.
  • Sword Art Online: The Alicization arc begins with a young Kirito and Eugeo chopping away at a massive tree and hanging out with their mutual friend Alice. They then go to a cave in the End Mountains, resulting in Alice being arrested and taken away. The story returns to the real world, with Kirito discussing his work with Asuna and Shino, eventually leading to Kirito being attacked and the story beginning. The opening episodes provide necessary exposition and show events that become important later, but it takes a while for the arc to get going.
  • Very few people have actually made it past the first three episodes of Texhnolyze, if not the pilot. It isn't until halfway through the first episode that the first line of dialogue is spoken.
  • There are often complaints that roughly the first third of Trigun (the anime) is silly, stupid and episodic, with only vague allusions to the fact that Vash's story is remotely deep or complicated. With the arrival of Nicholas D. Wolfwood (episode 9), Legato Bluesummers and the Gung-Ho Guns (episode 12), the story arc of the series actually begins.
  • You can read the first couple chapters of Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- and then skip around 90 chapters (a little over a third of the manga's run). Story arcs before then have very little to do with the overall larger story, save for a handful of minor events, and can be summed up as "Syaoran and Co. travelled to X world to solve X problem and get a feather".
  • Wedding Peach got a very bad reputation when it first made its way to the West due to this. Animerica magazine slammed the show in its review, although it was clear to anyone acquainted with the series that the reviewer had only seen the first six or seven dubbed episodes. After Jama-P stops being the Monster of the Week every episode due to a Heel-Face Turn and weddings become simply a motif and not the central focus of each episode, the series improves greatly.
  • The first half of the first season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX was so full of pointless filler duels, it hurts. By the second half of the season, it gets a bit better, and it gets a lot better once season three comes around.
    • Something similar can be said of Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL About half of the first 26 episodes are little more than Monster of the Week sceanarios were the only plot progression is Yuma obtaining another Number from a random duelist. While Kaito does spice things up a bit, it's not until the Arclight sibling arrive that the plot is primarily moved by Number Hunters.

    Comic Books 
  • Neil Gaiman himself has this opinion on The Sandman. For most of the first volume, he was struggling to get a sense of the characters and the kinds of stories he wanted to do, and also had to deal with an editorial mandate to include characters from the DC Universe which he found very awkward. But when he got to the final issue of that volume, which introduces Death, suddenly everything clicked for him. He still advises people that the first volume isn't really worth it, though many fans disagree.
  • Scott Pilgrim is a mediocre Slice of Life series in the first two volumes, before it lets its video game elements play a bigger impact on the plot and characters from volume 3 onward.
  • The Invisibles seems like it's going to start with a bang, as young Street Urchin Dane McGowan is recruited by the title group, a band of interdimensional anarchists. However, by the second issue, Dane has been rejected by the Invisibles and spends the next three issues wandering around London in the company of an old homeless man who lectures him the entire time on magic and mysticism. Many fans didn't make it past this arc to the later issues, which in fairness pick things up quite a bit.

    Fan Works 
  • Ambience: A Fleet Symphony: Readers expecting a more traditional KanColle story will have to wait. Though it starts out pretty intensely, it's infantry actions for the most part, with the girls' ship weapons only showing up in chapter 15. And those expecting The Usual Adversaries, the Abyssals, to make their appearance rather than having Damon and co. merely face muggle malice should be prepared to wait even longer.
  • The first three chapters or so of Child of the Storm suffer from this, with a touch of Early Installment Weirdness. It doesn't really kick on until chapter 9 when darker themes are introduced, the plot gets going, it becomes abundantly clear that the forces of good aren't going to have it all their way. Even then, it's all shadow boxing until chapter 21, which significantly ups the stakes.
  • About 90% of the first chapter of Friendship Is Optimal: Caelum Est Conterrens consists of an overly detailed and completely irrelevant description of the heroine connecting and turning on her new gadget.
  • Some aspects of Hivefled's early chapters put people off, such as the slow pace, the grimdark tone, and Gamzee's disproportionate actions towards his own friends. The latter is especially the case if they haven't read the prequel "Reprise" and don't know what happened to Gamzee to make him act like that. Once Character Development sets in and the plot kicks off, these issues are usually rectified.
  • Soul Eater: Troubled Souls: The Cliché Storm that draws out the prologue is only temporary. Once Cancer and Project Omega are introduced, things improve. Once you reach the Cobra Island Arc, welcome to the ride.
  • Time and Again takes a few chapters to get rolling after Naruto travels back in time- he spends the first couple of chapters mistakenly assuming he's been captured and subjected to some kind of elaborate genjutsu to interrogate him, so he treats everyone around him like trash since he thinks they're all fake creations of his captors, which is quite unpleasant to read and should have been resolved within the first post-prologue chapter. Also, the difficulty he has adjusting to his younger body again is massively exaggerated until he literally can't walk in a straight line without tripping over his own feet, which is distracting and takes far too long to get past. Once Naruto has control of his body again, the story finally gets going.
  • Courier's Mind: Rise of New Vegas had this issue pretty bad in its first season, thanks largely to the short length of the episodes, at less than ten minutes. It took till the third episode for The Courier to even leave Doc Mitchell's house and enter Goodsprings, the first town of in the game, and he spends a good chunk of the season on the tutorial quest, in-between just messing around the general area around the town. It's not until near the end of the season, that The Courier gets started on his first real quest. Not helping is that neither The Courier nor the series had really come into there own yet. But luckily by the start of the second season, the episodes are longer, allowing the story to pick up the pace and by the end of it, The Courier has finished the arc started in the last season, recruited his Robot Buddy ED-E, and is finally on the road from Goodsprings to New Vegas. And he's started to come into his own as a character.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail starts off someone slow in the first arc as it's more about Chloe learning to regain her self-confidence in growth while oblivious to how everyone she loves is freaking the hell out of her disappearance and she doesn't get her main object of stopping the Apex until the very end. The story starts picking up halfway into the second Act, particularly the six-part Cyan Desert Car, which culminates in a lot of Wham Episodes that changes the story, and everyone involved, for better or worse.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Angry Birds Movie starts as a Slice of Life about Red's anger issues and the Bad Piggies arrival to Bird Island. It's not until Red, Chuck, and Bomb discover the pigs' plans to steal the birds' eggs that the movie begins to increase its pace.
  • Strange Magic: General consensus from those who like the film is that it massively improves once Marianne and the Bog King meet, fight and team up.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien takes 20 minutes to land on the Death World, 5 more to find the derelict ship, and yet another 10 before the Face Hugger attacks — and then you have to wait a few minutes longer for the chestburster to emerge, and by the time you get to full-grown Xenomorph, it's over an hour into the movie. It builds a setting and atmosphere, but the scenes are slow, and at times silent (such as the shuttle landing and most of the walking, which almost feels like taking place in real time).
  • The BFG: The movie is known for having a slow pace overall, but in the beginning when the Giant takes Sophie to his house the movie spends at least 30-40 long minutes there.
  • Burning (2018): This film lasts nearly two and a half hours, and not much happens in the first half. Some events become significant with hindsight, but don't seem important at the time.
  • Cast Away takes at least a half-hour to set up everything before Chuck winds up stranded on the island.
  • Cloud Atlas: Though the first twenty minutes or so of the film are hard to follow, it becomes easier to comprehend the non-linear stories after you get to know all of the protagonists.
  • Death Proof is known for its extended opening - which features a lot of Slice of Life and Seinfeldian Conversations between the protagonists. Forty-five minutes in and a car crash kills off the entire cast, and there's a Time Skip to two years later with a different set of protagonists.
  • Definitely present in the Best Picture Winner The Deer Hunter, a war film where it takes 45 whole minutes before the heroes even get to the war. Yes, it's kind of the point of the movie to show that war destroys the lives of normal, hard-working Rust Belters, but holy crap, does that wedding scene go on forever.
  • Dr. Strangelove is fairly pedestrian and slow-paced for the first fifteen-to-twenty minutes, with a couple of good lines, until the viewers get to The War Room and suddenly it becomes hilarious and stays that way for the rest of the film.
  • Goliath Awaits: The movie takes about forty minutes or so for the divers to get inside of the Goliath and get a look at its society.
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is nearly three hours long. The first 45 minutes are just Blondie and Tuco's shenanigans, with a minor subplot involving Angel Eyes searching for a guy who ultimately becomes a plot point. It's only about the 45-minute mark that Blondie and Tuco finally find out about the buried gold and begin searching for it. Strangely, this is a case where this was not only done deliberately, but it works on a level that allows the film to build atmosphere and character, and even if you get bored by the first part, the main plot just gets better, to the point where the greatest scene in the whole film is saved for the very end.
  • Hulk takes a whopping 40 minutes before you even get to see the jolly green giant on screen.
  • Interstellar takes a while before the protagonists get into space, establishing the Crapsack World that Earth has now become. It's about twenty-five minutes before NASA is even brought into the film.
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has a first act that was seen as a trite rehash of The Lost World: Jurassic Park (heroes go to island to save dinosaurs only to come across mercenaries trying to steal the dinosaurs for a Corrupt Corporate Executive). However, things improve when the heroes return to the mainland and the film turns into a horror movie with the appearance of the Indoraptor.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League: The first half of the (four hours long) film is very slow-paced in order to help establish the cast and the general status quo of the movie. The team doesn't fully form until two hours in (and it's a full hour before Barry Allen even appears), but once that happens, the pace picks up pretty significantly.
  • Little Miss Sunshine is billed as a comedy, but the first act is quite dry and surprisingly bleak domestic drama. The comedy doesn't really start until the main characters hit the road twenty minutes in.
  • The film version of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring takes thirty minutes to just get the hobbits out of the Shire. The extended edition takes almost fifty.
  • Maleficent has A Minor Kidroduction for the titular fairy. It lasts surprisingly long, as the intent is to show what Maleficent was like before her Face–Heel Turn.
  • MirrorMask begins with a grand tour of the boredom of circus life. While it fleshes out the heroine's relationship with her parents and thus gives the subsequent Magical Land adventure real stakes, and sets up a lot of visual callbacks (and significance for the I Know You're In There Somewhere Juggling) for later, the only plot-moving event in this stretch is the mother falling ill.
  • Following A Minor Kidroduction, Ophelia focuses on depicting Ophelia's life at Elsinore, her relationship with her family, Gertrude and the other ladies, and her budding romance with Hamlet, as well as Gertrude's marital strife and growing feelings for Claudius. While this helps to set the scene and provides more characterization for Ophelia and Gertrude, it takes around 30-40 minutes until King Hamlet kicks the bucket, which is the cause of the film's central conflict; it then takes even longer for Hamlet to discover his dad might've been murdered and start plotting revenge (for comparison, in the original play the king has already died when the story begins and Hamlet finds out about the alleged murder in the first act).
  • Sergio Leone has said Once Upon a Time in the West is supposed to reflect the process of death, slow-paced with breaths of amazing (usually duels).
  • You can skip the beginning of Paul Blart: Mall Cop without missing much. If you really don't want to miss anything, watch it on fast-forward until the criminals show up.
  • The Pink Panther (1963) begins very slow and moves along like a drama until it somewhat abruptly breaks into the slapstick and chase scenes the series is known for.
  • The Producers begins with an unnecessarily long sequence where Bloom engages in a lengthy conversation with Bialystock in order to illustrate how slimy Bialystock is followed by an equally lengthy exposition about how the Broadway scam is supposed to work. On the other hand, it has some of the best lines of the movie ("My blanket! MY BABY BLUE BLANKET!").
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World starts off slowly. The first Evil Ex doesn't appear until about 40 minutes in, making it seem like nothing more than some hipster comedy about a dweeb's love life. The idea is to establish all of Scott's inadequacies and progress his courtship with the unattainable Ramona to the point where he has to fight her evil exes.
  • Turnabout from 1940 is a comedy about a husband and wife switching bodies and one of the earliest examples in film of both a "Freaky Friday" Flip and the Gender Bender trope. The body swap doesn't happen until 36 minutes into an 82-minute long movie, with almost half the run time dedicated to showing the main characters' normal lives. For comparison, Freaky Friday (1976) which is slightly longer than the 1940 film has the swap take place 11 minutes into the runtime.
  • Evident in Stargate and Atlantis: The Lost Empire, where not only does it take the expedition ages to discover civilization, but scenes of the team linguist overcoming the language barrier immediately follow, seeming like additional Padding.
  • Both the ending and the beginning of the horror movie The Strangers: at the beginning the viewers see a text explaining how many American citizens are estimated to be involved in violent crimes a year, a voiceover, in wannabe The Texas Chainsaw Massacre style, explaining what had happened, and shots from the freaking end. And at the end, they make it pretty obvious that Kristen is going to let out a huge scream and turn out to be Not Quite Dead.
  • Them! is a movie about mutated giant ants. Except for the first half-hour, where it's a leisurely-paced police procedural set in the New Mexico desert instead.
  • From the Twilight series: Breaking Dawn Part 2 is, for the most part, a fairly banal and boring affair... until you reach the action climax where the movie suddenly decides to kick all kinds of ass. It's a sight to behold, really.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey. Over ten minutes of deserts and apes before the viewers see any outer space exploration. And even then it's lots of nothing until the stuff with HAL starts happening. You actually can fast forward past the space station and moon segments — well over a half over of the film — and all you'll miss is they found something on the moon and they're going to find out what it is.
  • The Wicker Man (1973) is traditionally labelled as one of the great classic horror films, which can confuse first-time viewers because it really doesn't begin like one. The first half is a slow and bewildering parade of scenic location footage, nudity, musical numbers, and psychedelic pop music. After that, horror icon Christopher Lee suddenly shows up in all his ominous glory, things get serious fast, and all the goofy stuff turns out to be set up for some very dark, unsettling payoffs.
  • If you hadn't been spoiled by the trailers, the DVD covers, or the DVD menu, the first half-hour of Audition is a fairly low key romantic drama about Aoyama losing his wife, being pressured into the dating scene again, taking part in a staged audition run by his friend to find the perfect wife, meeting former ballet dancer Asami, and immediately falling in love with her, before Aoyama calls Asami to ask her out and the scene cuts to Asami sitting alone in a filthy apartment staring at the phone while a large burlap sack rolls around next to her. That's when the movie gets exciting.

  • Brave New World: Most of the novel goes into a great deal of detail about cloning and how society works in the future. It takes a while before the main characters even get introduced, then the action begins. Of course, since setting up the dystopia is vital in order to tell a dystopian story, this is an example of Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • The Casual Vacancy: Most of the story is spent establishing characters and seemingly unimportant plot points. It doesn't really pick up until the last 100 pages, with plot points slowly coming together and the last 75 pages throwing everything you had read and thought unimportant in your face.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The opening third of the novel is not only busy with Developing Doomed Characters and the Pinball Protagonist but also with establishing the legend of Willy Wonka and the resultant Serious Business of the Golden Ticket contest. Luckily, most of this buildup is Played for Laughs, which eases potential tedium, and once the characters are in the factory, the story becomes a briskly-paced lark.
  • In-universe with The City of Dreaming Books. The protagonist was told repeatedly by his uncle to read the great novel "Ritter Hempel" (Hempel the knight) but gave up after the first fifty or so pages were all about how to clean lances. Only later he learns that everyone else had the same problem, and later in the book, there are great and funny scenes, like when the knight loses his glasses in his armor.
  • Cloud Atlas: The opening of the novel's six stories seems to be a lot of people's least favourite in the book. It may be that the 17th-century English makes the section a little less accessible than others, and it may be that it's just a function of being the first section: the reader doesn't understand all the significances within on the first read. It might also suffer from being right next to the Robert Frobisher section, which is a fan favourite.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo includes long diversions into the backstories of many characters in the first half, eventually integral to the plot but difficult to chew on. Most adaptations break them up over the course of the story.
  • Similarly, some fans of The Dark Tower find the first book, The Gunslinger, too slow and think that the series doesn't get good until the second book, The Drawing of the Three. On the other hand, an almost equal number love The Gunslinger because it's so contemplative.
  • This methodical approach works really well for The Day of the Jackal, being a novel about an elite assassin. While most thriller novels get more convoluted as they reach their climax, due to the various plot threads coming together, The Day of the Jackal instead gets more focused, all the exposition and plot threads having been dealt with earlier.
  • Making Money is possibly the only Discworld book to suffer from this. We know he's going to take the position at the bank, it's on the dust-jacket, hell it was foreshadowed at the end of the last book. It is funny at first to see him resisting Vetinari, but eventually, you want to shout "Get on with it!"
  • The Dogs of War is an excellent example, since it's a novel about a coup in Africa that has several chapters devoted to one character's attempt to buy out a "shell corporation". It's so detailed, it was actually used as the blueprint for at least one real coup attempt.
  • The beginning of Frank Herbert's first Dune book is heavily weighted down with this kind of exposition in the first hundred pages.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh has a tendency of repeating entire passages verbatim over and over (for example, one person would speak to the messenger, and the messenger would then deliver the exact same speech again to his master; there's also the very long-winded title of Gilgamesh, which would be repeated every time someone uses his name). However, this is more due to a quirk of Mesopotamian oral storytelling style (and a feature of oral storytelling in general), than bad writing. The repetition aids memorization for the story-teller and the long titles of heroes make it easier to fit the name in a poetic line (as all epics were written in poetic form).
  • Leon Uris's Exodus is especially bad at this. Early chapters interweave the protagonists' escape from Cyprus with detailed mini-histories of the Holocaust and World War II - at least partially justified as back story for several characters. Then the second "part" of the book stops completely for a 100-page description of modern Zionism from the 1890s through the creation of modern Israel. The novel picks up once the main story starts, but just getting there will exhaust many readers.
  • Final Cut by Steven Bach has a brief prologue about why he needs to find a new movie for United Artists Studios, then spends over a hundred pages going through the entire history of United Artists before getting back to the studio's slow downfall.
  • The first chapters of Frankenstein deal with the backstory of the sea captain who met the titular Doctor on his expedition to find the North Pole. If you didn't know that the novel was a Story Within a Story, you would read the opening wondering "What does this have to do with the Monster?"
  • Readers may react in this way to several Frederick Forsyth stories. The author researches his subjects so thoroughly that the reader usually earns the equivalent of a Ph.D. in history, investigative journalism, corporate espionage, or prospective mining just by reading the first three chapters.
  • Gone with the Wind is like the Civil War in real time, but the beginning is especially slow. It takes an awful lot of description about high society life on a rural plantation before the readers see any actual fighting. The book is explicitly a view of life in the South before and after the civil war from the civilian point of view. While the war starts a few chapters into the book, the hardships and realities of war start escalating as the book goes on. Life doesn't get much better after the war ends about halfway through the novel either.
  • The Grapes of Wrath seems to take forever to just get to the Joads, wasting a whole chapter on a freaking turtle crossing a road. Then, due to pacing problems of the Joad plot, the chapters about turtles and angry car salesmen with no names end up being the best parts of the book for a lot of people.
  • Great Expectations takes a while to really get moving, despite a pretty action-packed first chapter. As a result of its serial nature, the first two parts rely heavily on building suspense that pays off in the third part (where nearly every chapter has a plot twist or revelation).
  • Harry Potter:
    • The first book notably opens with an extended sequence showing the life of Vernon and Petunia Dursley, and overall it's about forty pages before Harry even gets to Hogwarts. Notably, the film drops the Dursley sequence, opening with Dumbledore and McGonagall delivering Harry to Privet Drive.
    • The fourth book's summer portions last longer than the previous three - and it's not until the eleventh chapter that Harry and friends go back to school. It's not until the eighth chapter that the first really plot-relevant thing happens - the attack at the Quidditch World Cup.
  • Many Harry Turtledove series have over a dozen viewpoint characters, and each book or major section typically starts out with a little vignette for each of them, just to remind you of the position they were in at the end of the previous book. If you're lucky, the end of these sections will feature a big change for the character, or even kill them off if you're even luckier; sometimes it just does not get better.
  • The Honor Harrington series can be like this, depending on how much you like politics. Each is at least several hundred pages long, and in one instance, a book for which the title and back cover talk all about Honor being captured, said capture doesn't happen until the last 100 or so pages of the book. In War Of Honor, the first 450 pages or so go by without a shot being fired, being spent instead on the politics leading up to the resumption of hostilities. While the political junkies are rubbing their hands in glee, the action junkies are sitting around thinking, "Someone shoot at somebody so something actually happens."
    • Much of the first book is spent explaining in excruciating detail just how space travel, artificial gravity, and ship-to-ship combat work in this universe, in addition to explaining the workings of a Royal Manticoran Navy starship, the political complications brought on by the Baselisk System, and of course, setting up the background behind the impending war between the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the Peoples Republic of Haven... which wouldn't start until the third book of the series (the second book had more para bellum posturing, but was much more action-packed).
  • Several reviewers have commented that the beginning of The Host is weaker than the rest of the novel.
  • Proof that great literature isn't immune to this: Robert Graves' novel I, Claudius begins with a massive history lesson that barely mentions the title character. Still, the history lesson provides enough murder, bloodlust, and political conspiracy to tide the viewer over until Claudius introduces himself properly...and then things really get interesting. It might also raise a smile at the end of the book when Claudius (a historian) says that one of the perks of becoming Emperor is that he can make everyone read his history books, and is out and out Lampshaded when Claudius mentions a few dozen pages into the book that he has written several chapters of his autobiography and hasn't quite got up to the point where he is born.
    • Done again in the sequel Claudius the God where, after having one page describing him being carried off by the army to be declared Emperor, he sees an old friend of his, Herod Agrippa. The next five chapters are devoted to relating Herod's life story up to that point. Though again, the story is entertaining enough to be worth it and the character will be of great importance later on. Notably, the Television Adaptation just starts with Herod.
  • The Iliad: The Catalogue of the Ships in the second book is so tedious that it puts some readers off altogether. For the record, it's entirely skippable as it has almost no relevance to the rest of the poem.
  • Inheritance Cycle: The first book, Eragon, suffers from a bad case of this. After we're introduced to Eragon and he finds the dragon egg in the first chapter (and following the prologue where Arya teleports away the egg before being captured by Durza) the egg doesn't hatch until the fourth chapter. It then takes ten more chapters for Eragon to find out he's a dragon rider and set out on his quest with Brom, which forms the main plot. And the book has fifty-nine chapters in all and over 500 pages. note  A lot of the content in the first fourteen chapters isn't all that important to the overall plot (mostly describing life in Carvahall and such) and could have been trimmed or cut to move things along more briskly; the thirteenth chapter in particular consists solely of Eragon angsting about his uncle's death and could easily have been merged with another chapter.
  • Jack Ryan:
    • In The Sum of All Fears, a 700-page book, the first 500 pages are devoted to the miserable personal life of the main character. Then the action starts.
    • In Clear and Present Danger Tom devotes nearly a chapter to the history and exploits of USCGC Panache captain Red Wegener, along with a backstory about a journalist on his ship... and Wegener goes on to play a relatively minor role in the remainder of the book. He gets about five seconds of screen time in the movie (and is played by a woman about 20 years younger than he would have been).
    • Captain Tupolev's introduction in The Hunt for Red October comes to mind as well.
  • Jane Eyre is notorious for this, especially among those that read it for a school assignment. The entire first half of the novel is about Jane's awful guardians and experiences at a Boarding School of Horrors, all of which have very little bearing on the much more famous Rochester plot apart from establishing Jane's Iron Woobie status.
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has this effect on a lot of people, with the first quarter of the story taken up by the fussy and passive Mr. Norrell struggling to get British aristocracy to pay attention to his magic. Mr. Strange doesn't show up until about 250 pages in, and the action doesn't pick up until a good four hundred pages in.
  • A good deal of the beginning of Journey to the Center of the Earth is the heroes' journey from their home in Germany to the Icelandic volcano they want to explore. Except for the acquisition of their third adventurer, nothing of importance happens in all this time and the whole first section can be skipped over without missing anything.
  • Very common in the The Garden of Sinners novels; each part in a chapter (and there are many parts in any given chapter) usually has paragraphs interspersed through it focusing on nothing but philosophy and concepts, which even pop up in the middle of a very heated life-and-death battle. This is actually prevalent throughout Nasu's writing, not just The Garden of Sinners.
  • Last and First Men is remembered for its daring depictions of future human species, but first it recounts the future history of our current civilization (the First Men), which is nowhere near as interesting and can be quite grating due to its highly stereotypical depiction of the individual nations' "innate character."
  • In Lensman, the first sentence of Triplanetary begins "Two thousand million or so years ago" (and based on our current understanding of the history of the Solar System, it really should have been at least "Five thousand million"). It skips pretty rapidly through time after that, with short stops in Atlantis, the Roman Empire, World War II, and World War III (which, given the dating in the book, should have happened by now already) before settling down to some point in the indefinite future for the rest of the book. However, the entire first book is about the ancestors of the eventual main protagonists of the series and can be summed up as "The Arisians are Good and the Eddorians are Bad; Gharlane of Eddore in particular has been mucking up Earth's history for a Very Long Time Indeed."
  • The central character of Les Misérables doesn't appear until after seventy pages spent introducing a minor character who shortly thereafter disappears from the book. This keeps happening, as when the Battle of Waterloo is described in meticulous detail before returning to the plot, which is why the book is 1200 pages long.
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman could be seen as this when the title character narrator digresses so much that his birth is not even covered until volume 3 of this 9 volume book, but the entire story is a humorous series of anecdotes and digressions.
  • In the three-part Doorstopper The Lord of the Rings, most of the first chapter is a cosy birthday party, the second chapter is full of exposition about the main plot of the book and it only gets going the next chapter with the protagonist leaving home. Even then, it takes about half of the volume The Fellowship of the Ring for the whole Fellowship to meet, form up and begin the main Quest of the Ring. And that's not including the Introduction to get new readers up to speed on the events of its much shorter predecessor, The Hobbit.
  • The Silmarillion is front-loaded with exposition, despite only being published as one book. Much of this is aimed at literally building the world of Middle-earth, but several chapters are devoted to the origins of minor figures. In this "History of the Silmarils," it's not until midway through the fifth chapter that the eventual creator of the Silmarils is even introduced.
  • A common phrase said by fans to new readers of Malazan Book of the Fallen. The first book throws the reader in the deep end without so much as a "can you swim?", with a whole host of characters and events and expects you to run with it. After the first few hundred pages, after the reader has acclimatised themselves, the experience quickly becomes less "Huh-wha?" and more "Ooohh! That's clever." Additionally, the first novel is considered the least well-written of the ten books in the series and is much slower going than the action and plot-packed second book, Deadhouse Gates. Some reasons for that are that Gardens of the Moon was written almost a decade before its follow-up, Deadhouse Gates, and was originally written as a film script before Steven Erikson decided to turn it into a book.
  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides features detailed descriptions of the protagonist, Madeleine's English literature courses at Brown University, including a lengthy discussion of Semiotics that's either Author Appeal or thinly veiled Take That!. There are also info dumps on manic depression and religious studies used to flesh out her putative suitors, Leonard and Mitchell, along with several chapters where Mitchell travels through Europe and India. Considering that the story's a relatively simple Love Triangle, many readers find it a bit much.
  • Tad Williams loves to take his time. His Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy (the fourth book was so long it had to be cut into two 800-page books for the paperbacks) took 150 pages for the action to start; everything up to that was mystery, backbiting, and intrigue. The entire first book of his Shadowmarch series is intro. The central mystery of his Otherland series is introduced in the opening chapters of the first book and barely even merits mentioning until it's wrapped up at the end of the fourth doorstopper. The only book he's written that got things going in a short amount of time also wrapped up quickly, that being his stand-alone novel Tailchaser's Song.
  • Klaus Mann's Mephisto can be neatly divided into two halves: a detailed history of theater in Weimar Germany, followed by the protagonist collaborating with the Nazis to advance his career. The film adaptation notably pares down the former story to focus on the latter.
  • Jeffrey Eugenides' earlier novel, Middlesex, also suffers from this at times, covering as it does a large swath of history from the Greco-Turkish War of the 1920s to Detroit during the Depression, the birth of the Black Power movement and the Detroit riots of 1967... all before the protagonist takes center stage.
  • The first hundred pages of The Name of the Rose go at a mindbogglingly easygoing and unhurried pace (at least compared to other murder mystery novels), with lots of obscure references and other diversions unconnected to any part of the whodunnit itself. Its author Umberto Eco wrote a Word of God postscript in part to clarify that the hard-to-get-into beginning was a deliberate choice.
    Eco: Those first hundred pages are like a penance or initiation, and if someone does not like them, so much the worse for him. He can stay at the foot of the mountain.
  • Parasite Eve has this in the form of a very uneventful beginning, and a very slow paced middle. The book is divided into three main sections, with the first having a fairly steady pace of action but serving only to set up what's to come. The middle, which is twice as long as the other two sections, slows the action down to a crawl as it continues to set things up but becomes interspersed with a roving narration of flashbacks that provide the backstory for several of the story's central characters. Even though the conflict finally begins to show through with a short Body Horror scene near the end, it's not until shortly into the final section, with less than a third of the book to go, that all hell breaks loose and the rest of the story becomes nonstop action.
  • Parodied in the novel The Princess Bride; the fictional novel that it "abridges" supposedly has a second chapter involving sixty-six pages of Florinese history. This chapter is left out completely. There's also the referenced scene where the abridging author (William Goldman) describes how a visiting princess arrives, unpacks in meticulous detail, is insulted at dinner, and then repacks everything in just as much detail as she unpacked, before leaving and never being seen again. Indeed, the whole premise of the book is that Goldman published the "good parts version" because the original was so very long and tedious.
  • The Princess of Cleves, a 17th-century French novel, begins with about 40 pages describing King Henri II's court and family in confusing and mind-numbing detail. But most of this is irrelevant to the real story, a simple Love Triangle involving three of the aristocrats.
  • The Robert W. Chambers story The Repairer of Reputations starts with 2-3 pages of alternate history. If you completely skip it, you won't even notice.
  • The Return of the Native spends all of the first chapter describing the heath where the story takes place. The whole goddamn chapter.
  • Ringworld spends quite a while showing the reader why Louis Wu wants to go traveling. Unfortunately, the reason he wants to travel is that his life is boring and hollow, something that Niven gets across a bit too effectively.
  • The opening chapter of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, called "The Custom House," is composed of between 31 and 55 pages of exposition based on which version you're reading. What does this lengthy opening have to do with the book? Nothing. It tells of how a fictional Hawthorne found the fictional documents to write The Scarlet Letter. It's a thematic device that most people just skip over, as it's extremely dry. It's basically a long list of digs at Hawthorne's former co-workers, along with his complaints about being fired when his party lost the election. Some parts, in particular the description of the General, may have had some satirical value for contemporary readers. For modern readers? Not so much.
  • The first third of The Skylark of Space is rather low-key. All the action occurs on Earth and is mostly the subterfuge of DuQuesne trying to steal Seaton's technology. Then they finally do get in space, and after a few jaunts to various planets, the Lensman Arms Race eventually comes in full force.
  • So Long And Thanks For All The Fish has a chapter in the middle which is basically Douglas Adams giving a "Reason You Suck" Speech to all the fans asking about Arthur's sex life, then tells readers who aren't interested in it to skip ahead to the last chapter, which is rather good and has Marvin in it.
  • If King's The Stand were really about a battle between good and evil, it would consist 90% of exposition and set-up. Of course, it just ends up being about a pandemic and the rebuilding After the End with a bonus dash of that good vs. evil thing. Typically of King's style, the ending features an epilogue longer than the final confrontation itself about someone making his way home by various mundane means while nothing much happens. (The book was heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings, which has a similarly long denouement.)
  • Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series is full of this (except We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea) to the point where, in a hypothetical 100-chapter book, chapters 1-98 would be very... slowly... building up suspense, chapter 99 would be the action, and chapter 100 would be tying up loose ends. (It is especially bad in the one where they are accused of untying boats but didn't, and it's really obvious who did it.) The books are very interesting, however.
  • A Tale of Two Cities has some difficulty with this trope: The first 6 chapters are actually very good. Interesting, full of intrigue, likable characters. Then, after finishing Part 1, (the first 6 chapters), there is Part 2 (the next 24 chapters), which is a long sluggish read setting up for part 3 (the last 15 chapters), which is very good.
  • That Hideous Strength is a drastic departure from the previous two books. Firstly, it takes place on Earth, and while there are some vaguely supernatural elements introduced early on, the first 100 pages or so are, by and large, devoted to University politics and polite people politely arguing about various intellectual pursuits that seem to be nothing but fluff if you're not paying close attention (much like the CSPAN parodies on The Onion). You'd be forgiven for thinking you got the wrong book until the second third of the book begins and things start picking up. Of course, you get a sense for where things will be going if you can manage to pay attention.
  • Tyger Pool by Pauline Fisk uses this deliberately to establish the slowness and gloom suffered by a recently-bereaved family, featuring long monologues by the heroine about her deceased mother and the paralysing gloom that's affected her father. Just when you think the story's not going to go anywhere... it does.
  • The premise of War and Democide Never Again is that the heroes travel into the past to prevent all the atrocities and wars of the twentieth century. No Time Travel is actually done until halfway through the book, however. Before that, there are more than one hundred and fifty pages of the main character talking about his life before getting involved in the Ancient Conspiracy to travel through time and reading flashbacks of people's lives in oppressive dictatorships.
  • Jack London's White Fang took about five chapters before White Fang was even born, let alone named.
  • Don De Lillo's White Noise doesn't introduce the plot device "Airborne Toxic Event" until about a hundred pages in. The first segment of the book introduces characters and sets up key themes, and it's both funny and insightful, but there isn't a ton of plot there.
  • This is a common problem with 18th and 19th Century novels. Because of the wide use of a Direct Line to the Author, many novels start with long, irrelevant introductions about the literary agent and how he acquired the novel. (The fact that many if not most authors back then were paid by word count probably had something to do with it.)
  • Jurassic Park: It's several chapters before we even meet the main characters. Crichton states this is because he wanted to set it all up as something of a mystery in the beginning and to uncover what's going on slowly to the reader. Which is a weird thing to do, considering the title of the book leaves little doubt as to what the reader will find inside. The huge popularity of the films makes it even worse, pushing it pretty firmly into It Was His Sled territory. This gets lampshaded in the scene where the cloning process is being explained; the perspective switches to Tim who notes that everyone but the scientists are clearly bored out of their minds and wishing they could just get to the dinosaurs.
  • "Ayla and the Mad Scientist" in the Whateley Universe takes forever before we even find out who's going to be the antagonist for the book.
  • Some novels by Agatha Christie are prone to this, with the murder sometimes not even taking place until the middle of the book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100 is one of those shows where the first two or three episodes are filled with a lot of exposition, and the writers hadn't gotten a good grasp on the characters' personalities or the dynamics between them yet.
  • 24 - The fanbase expressed annoyance with seasons 3 and 8 because they started off on a weak note. The cluster of subplots, pacing problems, and weak Character Development killed the tension 24 is usually known for. Around the halfway point, the writers finally got a grasp on what they should do and managed to produce much stronger episodes until the end of their respective seasons.
  • Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. started things off with many episodes with disconnected plot points that failed to grab audiences. Many of the plot points introduced in these episodes become relevant in later episodes and the series really starts hitting its stride when the plot focuses more on Centipede, introduced in the first episode, and the Big Bad, the mysterious Clairvoyant, is introduced. Events in Captain America: The Winter Soldier had dramatic effects on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. It's entirely possible that there was padding added to the first season while waiting for the film's release. The most common advice seasoned fans give to newcomers is to hang in there past the first dozen episodes.
  • Season 4 of Arrested Development starts off pretty slow as it spends most of the first few episodes setting up key plot points that pay off at the end and mostly puts jokes to the side. The whole season should be thought of like a movie with interweaving plots that make much more sense as the story goes on.
  • The producers of Arrow have openly laughed that "you look at the first few episodes and it feels like a totally different show." Indeed, Oliver working on his own was handled in a rough way and the island flashbacks were seen as a major distraction and time-waster. It was the addition of supporting characters Diggle and Felicity that began to spark the show up and then the flashbacks becoming just as important to the overall arc that made the show a hit.
  • Many fans of Babylon 5 lament how hard it is to get new people into the show. This is because much of the first season is very difficult to get through, being largely episodic and universe-building in nature, to pave the way for later events. And featuring a bland and uninteresting male lead who was replaced in the second season.
  • The first 12 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (or its first season) had potential and could be fun/entertaining, but had no continuous plot and relied on Monster of the Week episodes, as well as having some cringy humour thrown in and clunky, predictable villains. Trust us that it is totally worth sticking with it for season 2 and 3, which are both full of Awesome Moments, Funny Moments, Heartwarming Moments, and the odd Tear Jerker.
  • The story of Cursed moves very slowly in the first half of Season 1; after the first episode the plot mostly consists of Nimue running/hiding from the Paladins and Merlin's extended quest to steal Fey Fire, with it taking ages for anything significant to happen. However, the pace picks up after the fifth episode, with things getting a lot more exciting after Nimue begins leading the Fey resistance and it's revealed Merlin is Nimue's real father, among other things.
  • For this reason, The Daily Show once introduced a story under the title "Be Patient, This Gets Amazing."
  • Series 8 of modern Doctor Who is the first season for the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and is a hit-and-miss year. The Story Arc is preoccupied with giving belated Character Development to companion Clara Oswald (who'd spent her first half-season as more of a walking plot device than as a person), leading to some spotlight-hogging and a Romantic Plot Tumor with Danny Pink. Twelve's a broody, dry-witted Byronic Hero with No Social Skills who takes longer to warm up to than most Doctors. And the arc culminates in a gloomy finale that's a Downer Ending for both Clara and the Doctor. But the season manages some fan favorites in "Listen", "Mummy on the Orient Express", and "Flatline", and it's directly out of this arc that a strong Christmas Episode and an excellent Series 9 emerge. A warmer Doctor takes center stage in better-paced stories that have a good balance of action and introspection, and a Story Arc that puts him through an emotional wringer yet ends on a hopeful note twice over (first with a finale that has him separated from Clara for good, second with a Christmas Episode that brings closure to his relationship with River Song).
  • The third season of Fargo was initially met with criticism due to being much slower than the previous two, lacking the clear focus, instantly memorable villains, and much of the violence and criminal drama that drove the show prior. After the halfway point brings the scattered storylines and characters together, it ramps up considerably with tons of the show's trademark Black Comedy, bloodshed, and surreal imagery (the addition of the long-absent Mr. Wrench to the cast certainly helped). The season is still divisive, but much more well-liked than at the beginning — with "Who Rules the Land of Denial?" being seen as one of the series' best episodes.
  • Fringe had a tough time building an audience during its first season, because its earlier episodes resembled The X-Files a little too much, what with its Monster of the Week plots, and its FBI based setting to solve paranormal crimes and/or mysteries. J. J. Abrams helming the show during its early days may have hurt as well (if the reputations of Alias and Lost were anything to go by). As a result, sci-fi fans tuned out before the halfway mark, which was the point when Fringe revealed that those episodes were mere setup for the real plot that has unfolded ever since. At that point, Fringe carved its own identity beyond the X-Files-meets-Lost that stereotyped the show earlier, and never lost its stride from that point onward.
  • Game of Thrones season one can be aptly described as Prolonged Prologue in TV form. Most of what goes on establishes the many protagonists and significant locales that will be heavily involved later in the plot. With the exception of some key moments, most of what unfolds is exposition layered on top of more exposition, with not much plot inertia going on (similar to how The Wire started; see below). This all changes once the big Wham Episode hits in episode nine, which throws the semi-stable equilibrium of the previous episodes into outright chaos, which defines the following episodes, and never relents from that point onward.
  • Iron Fist (2017) suffers from a lot of pacing problems early on such as stretching the Danny Rand proving his identity plot over several episodes. Once episode six comes along, the pace picks up somewhat, however, it's still largely seen as the slowest of the Netflix shows. This wound up hurting the show's critical reception considerably as the critics only had access to the first six episodes when writing their reviews, resulting in it becoming the first "Rotten" property in the MCU.
  • After Lost season 3 opened up with an awe-inspiring first five minutes, many fans found the first six episodes to be very frustrating and boring, plus a hasty death that cut off a potentially awesome future to an already great character. Some viewers during the season's original airing jumped ship around this time, which is too bad because the following episodes were mostly wonderful, and the completely unexpected season ending changed everything viewers knew about the show.
  • Sense8 has a lot of work setting up eight distinct stories but it's pretty universally agreed that no one can make it through "What's Up?" in episode 4 and not be thoroughly hooked.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation isn't terrible per se but the first couple of seasons struggle, with awkward storylines, jerky character development and interaction, and often heavy-handed morals that they don't get away with as easily as the original series did. By the third season, however, they've really come into their own and distinguished themselves as more than just a sequel series for a cult '60s show. Next Gen is now one of the most popular series and is in fact Trope Namer for Growing the Beard.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had similar early growing pains. The writers were riding Next Gen's coat-tails hard early on, with a lot of first-season episodes that had a big "hey, remember this thing from The Next Generation?" hook. It eventually found its feet and had its own story to tell, and did as much to deepen the Trek universe as any other series broadened it.
    • Star Trek: Discovery's first two episodes, despite their very obvious attempt at being an Action Prologue, is seen as this, as many viewers and critics felt they were a somewhat lacking introduction to the series, and that they especially fell short when it came to presenting the central premise of the show, due to their massive focus on the character Michael when the show is overall much more ensemble-based that the two episodes in question claims.
  • A common complaint about the first season of True Detective is how slow the show is at the beginning, specifically because there are very few dramatic elements involved. The first couple of episodes more or less just revolve around Hart and Cohle discussing clues about the case and interviewing suspects, like a rather slow-paced police procedural. The general consensus is that the show finally begins to pick up steam around Episode 3, and by the halfway point in Episode 4, the show really starts getting interesting. Especially after seeing The Oner at the end of Episode 4.
  • The first five episodes of The Vampire Diaries are very slow, due to hardly any characters actually being aware of the vampires' existence. Then Elena finds out at the end of episode five, and the show improves considerably.
  • The Wire isn't exactly instant gratification TV, and it certainly does not exactly make it easy for new viewers to jump in and understand the show. The first few episodes get hit with this problem the hardest, which almost overwhelms to the point of discouragement, thanks to detail overload and an abundance of characters to introduce and dissect. However, as all longtime fans of The Wire know very well, for people willing to take the time to understand the show's intricate design, they will be rewarded a hundred times over. It just takes some perseverance to get there.

  • Many songs have an Epic Instrumental Opener that feels so much as filler it leads to an urge to skip forward. The most common examples are video game song remixes.
    • "Singing Mountain" from Chrono Trigger. A beautiful piece of music preceded by a whole minute of listening to the wind.
    • "Finale Toccata" from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. One of the best songs in the game that starts with a 15-second orchestral sting, and almost two minutes of build-up.
  • Delta Goodrem- Believe Again is this, 40 seconds introduction definitely makes it harder for casual listeners to enjoy.
  • Dream Theater:
    • "Bridges In the Sky" starts with a full minute and a half of synth drones, throat singing, and Eastern instrument effects before the main song starts. It still manages to be awesome.
    • "Octavarium", is even worse, as it begins with an overlong Continuum Fingerboard solo... and it's not much better from there on, as it takes 12 minutes for anything even remotely metal to happen.
  • fun.'s second album, Some Nights opens with "Some Nights (Intro)", which is theatrical and slow (even more on the music video, where Talky Bookends made the 15-second intro last more than a minute) and takes a while to build up. By contrast, the Title Track that follows has a unique sounding Lyrical Cold Open that does better to catch listeners right away.
  • Iron Maiden's "Empire of the Clouds" is 18 minutes long and has an intro consisting of piano and string... that goes on for four minutes.
  • Kris Kristofferson's 1970 debut album Kristofferson features his own versions of all his early songs that revolutionized country music songwriting ("Me and Bobby McGee", "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and "Sunday Morning Comin' Down" for starters), but for some odd reason the album opens with the goofy, sarcastic, not-very-country novelty song "Blame It on The Stones".
  • It is commonly said that "The Lone Ranger music is Rossini's William Tell Overture". Those interested in "hearing the original" may fall victim to this trope. The William Tell overture actually has four movements and the Lone Ranger music is the last one.
  • Pink Floyd was known for doing this with their longer songs (of which they had a lot). Probably the most tedious is the beginning of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", a 20-minute-plus suite that takes several minutes of atmospheric instrumental music before the drums even enter, let alone the vocals. "Echoes" is another notable offender, being almost as long and having another slow beginning section.
  • The Black Keys were known for straightforward rock. So when New Sound Album Turn Blue opened with two minutes of psychedelic instrumentals before any vocals (comprising a whole third of said track, "Weight of Love"!), many were surprised if not bored.
  • "Threnody" by Sebasti An is quite possibly the biggest build-up to a bass drop ever: out of a 13-minute song, the build-up is 11 minutes long. Sebasti An has played it live many times before in its entirety, often extending the introduction by ten or more minutes, with hilarious results.
  • "Ghost of Stephen Foster" by Squirrel Nut Zippers has a minute of slow, somber violin music before the catchy klezmer finally begins.
  • Yes:
    • The album Talk is this for fans of their '70s work since only the last 2 tracks really try to get the "classic sound".
    • A common complaint aimed at Tales From Topographic Oceans is that all four of its 20-minute epics(!!!) sport this, which has resulted in one of the single hardest albums to get into, even according to its fanbase.
  • An overwhelming amount of electronic dance music (house, trance, techno, dubstep, etc.) contains intros and/or outros of just the percussion, which are primarily there for DJs to use for mixing. These intros/outros are usually removed for an artist's album and their appearance phases in and out of use based on current trends: as of 2012, many producers are reducing or removing their beat intros altogether.
  • There's a lot of Russian folk themes and French martial music snippets before you get to the bit people can hum - with all the artillery and stuff - in the 1812 Overture. (The overture itself is some sixteen minutes long; that famously hummable bit is barely more than two.
  • Several of Donna Summer's disco hits start off with a slow ballad section before kicking up the tempo, notably "Last Dance" and "On The Radio". Her collaboration with Barbra Streisand, "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)", has a slow-paced opening section lasting (even on 7") nearly two minutes.

  • The first five episodes of The White Vault is mostly set-up, introducing us to the team and how they became situated at Outpost Fristed. Despite it being a Foregone Conclusion that no one on the team ever made it home, these first episodes are relatively light on the spookiness. Things are certainly strange — they find a mysterious village in the caves beneath the Outpost, and spend a couple episodes trying to open a box they found there — but nothing particularly scary... until the sixth episode, when they get the box open, and things suddenly get much more interesting.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Introducing new competitive divisions or revitalizing old ones can fall into this. When the whole promotion is fresh entire shows can consist of almost nothing but establishing whose who and what's what. When champions and angles are already running though, that leaves less time to explain rules new the audience(Most television titles, the small amounts of variation in UWF's early shoot fights, Ring of Honor's Pure division), what makes this weight class special(All Japan's attempts to duplicate what New Japan did with Tiger Mask in the Super Juniors), the different stakes in teams and singles(tag teams were the first to catch on in Zenjo following The Beauty Pair, tercias like Los Tres Fantásticos built UWA/LLI), just how these minis most fans have never seen compare to one another(every mini estrella division except maybe AAA's and NWA Mexico since they had what CMLL already established), that these valets who have been nothing but distractions till now are willing to bleed(WWC having to build from the ground up after Tigresa's heyday), leading to early days-months being repetitive, contrived or awkward as audiences don't know what to make of it(each of these things wound up being successful in the long run).
  • Wrestlers are generally taught to avoid this, which is why the chain wrestling portions of a match (headlocks, wristlocks, hammerlocks, etc.) tend not to last too long. Unless the workers are exceptionally good at mat grappling - wherein they'll be able to make a slow pace still very fun to watch.
  • This is why the opening match is considered one of the most important ones on the card. Cruiserweights and other flashy wrestlers are usually given the job of opening the show - as high intensity and fast-paced matches function to get the crowd really excited. If a slow-paced or boring match opens the show, it almost always results in a disinterested crowd for the rest of the night. That said, when a show is being broadcast the first match filmed is considered the opener, while the very first match of the night will often be uneventful, mainly to give extra time to any fans running late, because empty seats don't look good on camera. This also gives fans already there more time at the merchandise tables, as they know they won't be missing anything they paid to see.
  • Lucha Underground showcased an interesting concept and some damn good wrestling right from the first episode, but it's generally agreed that the first season didn't really take off until Aztec Warfare when Prince Puma was crowned the first Lucha Underground champion.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Many players are resistant to beginning a campaign at level 1 because starting characters have very few abilities and can't do very much. The low power can also make even well-conceived adventures seem unexceptional, with character facing wimpy monsters for low stakes. It's very common to start adventures at higher levels to skip past some of the slow beginning. The Dark Sun setting was notable when first released for writing this into the game, starting off every character at 3rd level and using a more advantageous stat-rolling method to allow entry-level characters to kick in teeth right away.

  • The Girl Of The Golden West rather suffers from this in the operatic version, with most of the first act before Minnie's entrance consisting of clunky exposition, random outbursts from minor characters and unstylish recompositions of Stephen Foster songs.
  • The first part of the prologue of Götterdämmerung, with the Norns, is 15 minutes of pure exposition. The entire opera cycle, however, is 20 hours long.
  • The first two-thirds of Our Town consists of a mind-numbingly detailed portrait of completely average small-town life. Of course, that's part of the point the author is trying to make.

    Video Games 
  • AeternoBlade feels like a very generic Metroidvania until all pieces of the titular blade are recovered about halfway through the game and the time warp mechanics open up the world and make the game far more unique and fun.
  • The Alliance Alive starts off as a very linear RPG for the first 10 hours. The game gets much better after chapter 20, where you can recruit guild members to unlock more benefits, seek out construction sites for new Guild Towers, and pursue a number of goals in any order.
  • In Alpha Protocol, a combination of low-level skills and weaponry makes combat a chore early on, and the missions in Saudi Arabia can come across as pretty boring for the most part. The game opens up immensely by the time you're given free rein to choose your missions.
  • It's fairly standard behavior for fans of Animal Crossing to wax annoyed at various qualities of the Justified Tutorial. Either it's too long, it's too repetitive, or it really ought to be skippable.
  • Arc Rise Fantasia: Six hours in, the game will still be telling you about its final basic mechanics (combining magic), and from there, it's a few more hours until the characters finally get to what will be the bulk of the plot: the war between the Empire, the Republic, and Olquina and Alf being the second Child of Eesa, Adele being the Diva of Real, and them becoming the main antagonists of the game, leaving your party.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura. Coming off the crashed blimp, you have barely any money to buy your starting equipment, and your skills are lacking. It's hard to say at what point the game manages to pick-up, but you'll just suddenly realize that it did.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Assassin's Creed takes a good hour and a half to get to your first real mission. That's if you're quick.
    • Assassin's Creed III spends the first three sequences setting up the plot with a completely different character and doesn't really open up until the 6th sequence about seven to ten hours in.
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • The first game is extremely unforgiving to begin with, as you are at level one (see the D&D entry above) and have barely any HP, combat ability (whether you are a fighter, mage or other class) or special abilities (where applicable). You can only really start to actually do anything interesting without being slaughtered after gaining a couple of levels, half-decent equipment, and a party.
    • Baldur's Gate II has a much more forgiving opening area. For a start, there's the fact that being a direct successor means you actually have some skills and are tougher than a wounded puppy this time around (and you can actually import your character from the first game). However, the opening dungeon becomes extremely obnoxious and boring for many after the first trip or two through it, let alone if you like making new character builds. Mods have been made that allow you to skip it entirely while still taking everything of note, including experience.
    • Icewind Dale has a similar start. Thankfully, there are some moderately challenging sidequests in the first town to get experience. Going on to fight the first goblins will probably get you killed, especially your squishy wizard, with his 4 hitpoints and one spell (two if you have maxed Intelligence).
  • Banjo-Tooie has an opening act that takes at minimum a half hour to complete before you can enter the first level, Mayahem Temple, due to the prolonged length of the cutscenes if you don't skip them. Compare this to the original game, where you could get into Mumbo's Mountain less than five minutes after starting a new game.
  • Invoked in the 2004 PS2 and Xbox release of The Bard's Tale, where an extremely talkative Viking explains at length how he got into the situation he's in. The Bard himself can choose to shut him up before he finishes, but doing this denies the Bard a useful trinket a little later on.
  • Baten Kaitos:
    • Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean gets off to a rocky start. The card-based battle system is something that you really have to experiment with to master; even if you read the manual cover to cover, you'll still spend the first few battles just pushing buttons. Just to add to that, you spend most of Sadal Suud with nobody but Kalas in your party, which slows battles against even the weakest enemies to a crawl. Finally, to top the whole thing off, there's little to no strategy involved; most of your weapons are simple nonelemental swords with only one spirit number, reducing battles to little more than hitting the enemies over and over. It's probably intended to ease players into the system, but it makes the whole thing feel clunky and tedious.
    • Origins, meanwhile, suffers from an underwhelming first half. The gameplay is enjoyable, but, story-wise, all the major villains can't die yet, so you lose a lot of boss battles. A lot. Sagi becomes a borderline Failure Hero just because he's so ineffective at getting things done. It's not until the Heart-to-Heart scene that Sagi becomes anything more than a thorn in the Big Bad's side.
  • The story mode of BlazBlue: Central Fiction brings the player up to speed on the series' notorious Kudzu Plot via a summary of Ragna's story thus far, which the player is warned point-blank will take half an hour. In a fighting game where rounds of actual gameplay typically last less than two minutes. Fortunately, it's completely optional, and the dialogue for skipping it even has one character comment nobody's there to listen to that much talking.
  • The first BloodRayne game began with several levels in an ugly brown swampy area, fighting zombies and spiders. It's only after you slog through this that you get to the real business of slaughtering Nazis. Thankfully in subsequent playthroughs, you can skip the swamps entirely.
  • Bravely Default starts you off with only two characters, both of the Freelancer class, meaning that all combat consists of attacking enemies. This admittedly does do a good job of introducing the player to the Brave and Default mechanics (you can "Brave" to take multiple actions in one turn at the cost of skipping some turns afterwards, or "Default" to reduce damage taken and reduce the aforementioned turn penalty), but is mindlessly boring if you already understand it. Then you beat your first bosses and get the first job Asterisks: Monk (good at attacking, the same thing you were doing before), and White Mage (can heal, also something the Freelancer could do). Contrast this to the endgame, where you have several unique jobs with varied and interesting skills.
  • Castlevania 64 begins with the forest complete with Camera Screw nasty platforms, moves on to the Villa with the hedge maze, then puts you smack dab in the nitro level. Once you get past that the game actually gets pretty fun, but most people unfortunately don't stay that long and its rather bad reputation stuck. It certainly doesn't help that the game, without any warning, pulls that stunt where it only lets you play so far on Easy mode before forcing you to start the whole game over from the beginning on Normal, and it does it right after the nitro level— of all the people willing to trudge through all of that once, very few were willing to do it twice.
  • Cave Story can make a bad first impression, thrusting you into the plot In Medias Res with underwhelming weapons, Jump Physics that even the game's fans admit are very floaty, and tiresome fetch quests. Things pick up when you get to the Sand Zone, where "fetch quest" means "go explore this big open level with varied interesting enemies at your own pace". By the time you reach the Labyrinth, you're done with the fetch quests, you have some excellent weapons, and you're finally starting to get a bearing on the plot.
  • The Civilization games (including member in spirit Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri) start off quite slow: you have only one city, it takes ages for anything to get done, and there's miles and miles of empty space between you and the next civilization/faction over (usually). However, the game gets increasingly engrossing (and time-consuming) as world civilization gets more and more complex, and your rivals develop a unique character.
  • Dark Cloud suffers from this. The game opens with a roughly six-minute cutscene about the release of the Dark Genie; unfortunately, about four of those minutes are spent on long, slow shots of characters dancing. Once the Genie is released, it looks like things will pick up...but then we cut to Toan's village, and there's another six-minute cutscene detailing the festival that he's supposed to attend (which again features long, slow shots of characters dancing). Things don't even pick up after the Dark Genie's attack, as this leads to yet another cutscene, followed by further bouts of exposition from the Mayor as he gives you the key to the first dungeon. All told, it takes about thirty minutes for you to actually start fighting monsters and restoring your village. Dark Cloud 2 goes even further with this, as it opens with an extended sequence of main character Max...going to a circus. The player mostly watches cutscenes—including a lengthy sequence of circus acts that has no bearing on the plot—and only gets to control Max for a few minutes as he chases around a small boy who stole his circus tickets. What makes this particularly frustrating is that there's a sequence that could have been a lot of fun to play—namely, when Evil Clown Flotsam and his goons are chasing Max through the city—but this, too, is an FMV.
  • Unfortunately, the first couple of hours Deadly Premonition are probably its weakest. After the opening cutscene, the player is thrown headfirst into a Resident Evil-inspired Survival Horror combat section, which features both quite clunky controls and enemy behavior, and very simple, yet tedious puzzles. Immediately after this follows a couple of exposition-heavy cutscenes, broken up by some short gameplay sections where all the player is tasked with is walking from one place to the next. It's not until the first few objectives are done with, that the Wide-Open Sandbox-esque town of Greenvale opens up, marking the point where the game REALLY gets interesting.
  • The first level of Deus Ex was this for many people; it essentially throws you to the wolves and is extremely difficult if you don't yet get how the overall gameplay and systems of the game work yet. On the other hand, it grows on many people in subsequent playthroughs for this reason too (as it doesn't really compromise too much on what works so well in the game). It's also thematically appropriate, as several characters note that the mission is a test of JC's capabilities, and if you complete it at all most people will be deeply impressed and say things like, "Who's awesome? You're awesome."
  • The first Devil May Cry game started by forcing you to jump around the lifeless opening foyer of a mansion and find 45 red orbs to unlock a door before meeting your first mook. And if you die enough times to try Mercy Mode, you have to do the first few levels again. Thankfully, the games that followed did not do this, recognizing what the majority of players bought the game for.
  • Disgaea games often start off slow-paced and tedious at first, as the game has to provide story exposition and take you through a series of tutorial stages to explain numerous game mechanics. Once you unlock the Item World, you've probably got a basic handle on how the game works and you get to finally have a good place to grind your characters and your items to ungodly levels while having fun doing so. In other words, the game goes from "I don't get the appeal of this..." to Just One More Grinding Run.
  • Divine Divinity is a perfect example of this. Long, linear dungeon crawl to begin with, takes at least several hours to get through before you get to the heavily nonlinear and somewhat less combat-intensive main part of the game, which has heaps of interesting quests and whatnot. Technically it's possible to skip the dungeon but it makes it difficult somewhat because every other enemy around is well too tough at level 1.
  • The Doom Game Mod The Final Gathering consists of five levels, the first three of which are pretty amateurish and usually considered to be terrible. The latter two, however, are surprisingly good, to the point of earning the mod a place in Doomworld's "top 100 WADs of all time" list back in 2004.
  • One of the things people hated about Doom 3 was the incredibly drawn-out opening where your marine arrives at the Mars base, signs in, meets a few people, observes some stuff, gets assigned a mission to find a missing scientist by his sergeant, gets issued with a standard-issue pistol by the quartermaster, goes looking for the scientist, and it's only when you finally find him that the hellgate blows open and demonic forces rip through the base, turning 90% of the staff (including the scientist you were looking for) into zombies, unleashing the legions of hell on the rest, and finally giving you something to shoot. Considering this was supposed to be DOOM aka. "the quintessential non-stop demon murderpalooza series", some people were left feeling a bit betrayed that the series had apparently decided to take cues from Half-Life instead.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age II, from a strictly storytelling standpoint, went through this. Act 1 is relatively slow, acting in a similar manner to the above-mentioned first season of Babylon 5: Those first fifteen hours or so do nothing but expand on the first game's world-building, introduce plot elements, and set up future events (mostly having to do with the Qunari and Templar/Mage conflict). The entire thing is more or less one big Innocuously Important Episode. Act 2 is where the game begins taking many of the plot points and items introduced in Act 1 and starts weaving them into the overall narrative.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition has an exciting prologue setting up the initial mystery, interesting recruitment missions as you gather your party... and then most of Act 1 is spent grinding the most generic quests in the game through the least interesting areas of the game for hours until you can unlock one of two alliance missions. Then the actual plot kicks in, and after a few linear story missions, the map opens up and the actual meat of the game starts.
  • Dragon Quest VII may have the longest Start-to-Slime time in video game history.
    • The game sets itself up nicely at the beginning for the time-travel/world-hopping main storyline, but it takes two freakin' hours before the party encounters its first monster.
    • The reaction your hero's friends have to this first battle may be a bit of Lampshade Hanging; Kiefer's so excited he breaks into insane laughter, while Maribel is... less than pleased.
    • The game also starts to get real fun when you reach Dhama Temple and the Job System kicks in, which is about 30 hours later. Before that, the fights are still pretty boring.
  • For people used to modern Role-Playing Games, the Updated Re-release versions of Dragon Quest games can be this. The only way to know how far your character is from the next level is to head to the local Save Point, combat is brutal on lower levels, and depending on the game, there may be few ways to regenerate magic outside of towns. Even the newer games like IX suffer from these due to the Grandfather Clause.
  • The first Dragon Quest Monsters on the Game Boy Color, while superior to its spawn in almost every other way, suffers from a lot of dull text at the start, as you're forced to wander around a Noob Cave with monsters that don't have much in the way of usable skills, then do another mediocre dungeon, before you can finally start using the customization that makes the game so awesome. The DS game suffers a little from this, but the period is much shorter.
  • Dwarf Fortress sort of fits this, though in an odd way. It would be more accurate to say the player gets better. Simply, Dwarf Fortress is so complex that anyone new to the game simply will be unable to enjoy it yet. But once you figure out how to dig and build, you'll start enjoying the game. Then you can begin to scale that difficulty cliff, which provides you with an ever-increasing view of awesome that by the time you reach the top you feel you deserve every bit of fun you now get... until you realize you just climbed up the side of a volcano, and so on.
  • Mother:
    • EarthBound starts you out with one party member, rendering any strategy beyond 'hit and get hit' nonexistent. Also, the game gives you little room for error; this isn't too much of a problem in Onett, but Peaceful Rest Valley can be a nightmare even with the help of the rolling HP meter. After Paula joins and levels up enough for her tremendous speed and magical powers to start showing, the game gets much better. And before that... well, let's just let Yahtzee explain it:
      The first thing you have to do is walk to the top of a hill, look around, then walk all the way down and go back to bed. The second thing you do is exactly the same thing, only now fighting the shittiest monsters the union had to offer. That’s not a slow boil; that’s chucking a signal flare into a swimming pool.
    • EarthBound Beginnings will be rather tedious at times, especially since this is the only game of the series with Random Encounters. But as soon as you first enter Magicant, the game gets a little better.
    • Mother 3 does this as well. The first three chapters cover three very important days. While they may be excellent as far as the story goes, the gameplay suffers somewhat, especially during Chapter 3. After the Time Skip, however, you get control of Lucas and Boney, and the gameplay becomes much more enjoyable, especially after getting your Psychic Powers.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The intros to both Arena and Daggerfall include relatively boring tutorial dungeons from which the player must escape before they're free to explore the sandbox. Daggerfall also has a lengthy sequence to generate your character and choose/create your class. Much of the latter part can be skipped, in which case the game randomizes the options. This is, however, not recommended, as the randomized options can range from inconvenient to outright crippling.
    • Morrowind:
      • Morrowind likewise has a Forced Tutorial sequence during the intro, but is thankfully short compared to the other games in the series. It consists of leaving the prison ship (learning the controls), talking to a guard captain (choose your race and sex), filling out your paperwork (choose your class and birth sign), and picking up a few items (learning the menus). It can be done in about 5 minutes, but that hasn't stopped the creation of Game Mods which allows it to be skipped.
      • On the other hand, some fans have complained that it is too short, and doesn't give the player enough information to easily survive in the game world. That Morrowind is an Early Game Hell environment to begin with lends some veracity to these arguments.
    • Oblivion's tutorial level has generated a considerable amount of dislike. It consists of a (dull) cave that you must play through before you can start the game proper. Considering one of the biggest selling points for the game is the beautiful outdoor landscapes, it is seen as particularly stupid to set the tutorial entirely inside a stuffy dungeon. AS with Morrowind, there are plentiful Game Mods available which change the tutorial and character generation processes. Naturally, they're some of the more popular mods available.
    • Skyrim:
      • Skyrim manages to briefly show off the main attractions—impressive landscapes and dragons—during the introduction. The Dragonborn gets hauled across the landscape, then sent to the executioner's block, then rescued by a dragon... and after that, the tutorial starts. Which is mostly an underground Dungeon Crawl, yet again. In short, it takes a while to get to the sandbox mode. It gets tedious to go through again when one wants to start a new game with a different character.
      • Also in Skyrim, while the player gets free rein to explore after the tutorial dungeon, if you want to use the Shouts you still have some tedium ahead of you. You need to go from Riverwood, to Whiterun, to a dungeon near Riverwood (Although you can clear the dungeon before heading to Whiterun since you can get a sidequest from the merchant in Riverwood that'll take you through it), back to Whiterun, then go kill your first dragon, then report back to the Jarl and get told to go see the Greybeards. You're looking at a good 2-3 hours to access Shouts, and that's if you don't get distracted by something more interesting along the way.
  • The Evil Within has a tense and frightening first chapter that immediately goes into a lull with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th chapters. Chapter 5 ramps up the creepiness and terror, and Chapter 6 plunges you right into the emotionally tense and nerve-wracking atmosphere of the rest of the game headfirst. The chapters also grow to be far longer, with Chapter 3 taking about 30 minutes to complete, and Chapter 6 taking anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.
  • Eversion seems like a Sugar Bowl Mario-clone platformer at first, but after a few levels, you need to figure out how to "evert" in order to solve the puzzles. Then the game's major narrative elements start to kick in.
  • Fairy Fencer F starts out dreadfully dull, with a half-hour-long cutscene featuring a deliberately unlikeable protagonist and his new partner who sounds whiny by sheer dint of having to deal with The Slacker broken up by only two heavily-scripted battle tutorials. It picks up quickly once the interminable cutscenes end and the first dungeon gives the player both some freedom and a taste of the game's humor. Advent Dark Force does what it can to fix this, spreading a similar cutscene out across a brand-new introductory dungeon, but it still has to cover the same points and the dungeon itself is a slog thanks to the dull prison design and only having one enemy type. (Both games also suffer from a deluge of often-redundant tutorial slides, but these are delivered in-character by Eryn, who annoys the other characters doing the same thing in speech.)
  • Fallout 3 takes at least a half-hour to get going, as you're forced through an extended character creation/exposition bit that, for all its attempted immersion, even one of the characters admits is a joke right before he offers to change your stats for you.
    • Fallout: New Vegas, by contrast, has an extremely quick tutorial. However, the first hours of the game are defined by Railroading, mostly by throwing Beef Gates up everywhere, funneling players who don't know how to get around them more or less down the same route. Once you actually get to New Vegas and its surrounding areas, the game massively opens up, the main quest picks up, and the entire thing generally gets a lot more enjoyable.
    • In Fallout 2, you begin with little money and poor equipment, and typically fight repetitive melee battles against scorpions. The more interesting gun battles against gun-wielding soldiers and powerful mutants of the wastelands start coming in The Den and get more interesting as the game goes on. Due to Executive Meddling, the very first thing you do in the game is travel through the Temple of Trials, a tutorial that makes absolutely no sense and even contradicts the main story in having this incredibly elaborate temple only used for worthiness-testing next to your dirt-poor village. Then the trial features a scrap against another member of your tribe to prove your worthiness - using your fists. Difficult if you've specced for guns during setup or worse gone for certain diplomacy traits unless you use an oddball way around it.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance opens with a very long intro, then a tutorial battle comprising schoolyard children having a snowball fight, then more exposition before finally getting to the game.
    • The original Final Fantasy Tactics suffers too. During the first battle, only Ramza is controllable, and there's 10 other AI-controlled units, so you'd have to wait and watch until your turn comes up. Plus, the first chapter of the game is pretty slow-paced. (But it's so hard that you probably won't even notice.)
    • While Final Fantasy VII gives you the meat of the core gameplay off the bat, it'll take you anywhere between 6 to 8 hours on your first try. Then Sephiroth shows up and becomes the true Big Bad by killing President Shinra, with AVALANCHE escaping from Shinra HQ and Midgar afterward, gaining access to the overworld. And to put it into perspective just how long of a game this is, the entire prologue doesn't even take up one third of the time it takes to complete the games first disc (of three)!
    • Final Fantasy X: While a whole lot definitely happens, and you are thrown into battles almost immediately, the player does not reach an area with real random encounters and exploration until Kilika Woods, several hours into the game. And once you finish the woods, it's another few hours of cutscenes and linear story events until you reach the next area with random battles, the Mi'ihen Highroad.
    • The first twenty levels of your first character in Final Fantasy XI are painful, as the game drops you in your hometown with absolutely no instruction about how to do anything. They're by far the hardest, most frustrating, most unintuitive, grindtastic levels you will ever play in the entire game.
    • Final Fantasy XII. It's 2-3 hours before you get any real combat options.
    • Final Fantasy XIII dumps you straight into a plot-in-progress with no real clue as to what's going on, who these characters are, and what they're trying to do. On the subject of characters, most of them don't make a good first impression, so you're likely to spend a while hating at least one or two of them. Gameplay-wise, the crystarium and paradigm systems are completely absent, leaving you with nothing to do but use the Auto-Battle command every turn, and maybe an item here or there to mix it up a bit. It's not until the Anima fight that the gameplay gets interesting. On the bright side, it's all uphill from there.
    • Many consider the entirety of the A Realm Reborn, the base game of Final Fantasy XIV to be extremely slow-paced. The majority of quests are either a series of one Fetch Quest too many, Chain of Deals, or 20 Bear Asses. The story itself drags out and you have to do a lot of quests before things get interesting. The post-patch content for A Realm Reborn is a little better, but the game doesn't get better about it until last handful of quests where things go to hell real fast and the lead up into the Heavenward story. The developers did finally address the issue and made the base game more bearable for new players by removing several quests.
    • Final Fantasy XV seems like it will avert this, only for it to double down on this trope by having most of the first half be slow-paced. It starts off with a random sequence of the final battle for no particular reason (the story isn't told in flashback) before cutting back to the group bidding Noctis' dad and town goodbye before... pushing your car forward for a bit. It then proceeds to plod its way through a very uneventful first several hours where you have to fix the car, save some random guy and then make it to a seaside harbor. Aside from meeting the villain, nothing really happens and the sections is merely just a bunch of fetch quests. Chapter 2 picks up slightly by actually introducing the main threat of the game, but otherwise it isn't until around chapter 9 where the game finally begins to pick up steam and never stops. Various sequences during the first few chapters even take control away from you to force you to go through the main plot every so often. Exciting events like the Titan battle are few and far between and most of the time we barely get any appearances by villains other than Ardyn and are more often forced to sit through long sequences like the boat ride to Altissia.
  • The game FlyFF is a pretty big offender, most of its early advertisements and hell even its name, Fly For Fun, advertises its flying system and doing it at will, The Catch? You have to wait until level 20 to do so. Also the Class System for your character, you can't make the first change until level 15 and before you can make the change you must also complete a quest, the same happens with the 2nd job change at level 60.
  • The first level in Forbidden Siren was called "easily the worst level in the entire game" by one website.
  • Freedom Wars starts out terribly, with you being punished for doing basic things like walking more than five steps or talking to people, as well as a bunch of walking back and forth for a later mission. But once you get fast travel, the game becomes far less dull due to most of the padding being removed.
  • Gabriel Knight suffers from this for those not interested in backstory, historical minutiae, and/or drawn-out interview processes, especially when controlling Grace. Each of the three games takes about half the game for the action to pick up, which is good when it does, but until then it's jarring.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age starts out feeling like a rehash of the first game, up until about a quarter of the way through, when you get the ship. Even if you know exactly where to go and what to do, many players will feel like they are trudging through nothing but mundane fetch quests and crossing one side of a continent to another for the plot while wading through Random Encounters up the ass. It isn't until after discovering the true nature of the Lighthouses in Lumeria and then going to the far west to tackle the Jupiter Lighthouse is when the game starts to pick up.
  • Half-Life 1 threw many people off guard in 1998 when everyone expected shooters to be like Doom. Instead players have to sit through a few minutes of Gordon Freeman riding the tram, then navigating his maze-like workplace, grabbing his suit, starting the Resonance Cascade, and go through a few more hallway before Gordon even picks up a gun.
    • While the prologue of Half-Life 2 is well-liked, the first "real" gameplay sequence in the canals/Airboat before getting a weapon on the airboat, and then the gravity gun after that, is considered a drudge by a lot of people. Note as well that the real gameplay starts in chapter 3; the first two chapters before that, other than one chase sequence in which you have no weapons, consist entirely of unskippable dialogue and world-building. When selecting "New Game", you can choose to begin on any chapter you've already played to, allowing you to skip to Ravenholm, which is just after the Gravity Gun tutorial, and the point at which the game starts to get really good. That is also one of the two chapters playable in the demo.
  • Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Heartbreak starts of with Hamtaro, who has to look for Bijou (who will join him permanently) and save Oxnard and Pepper's relationship. It's somewhat uninteresting until Bijou joins you and the relationship between Oxnard and Pepper is fixed, and then you meet Spat, but it's when you meet Harmony that the game will hit its stride.
  • Head Over Heels is mostly just tricky platforming for the first sixth of the game, learning how each character works (Head's climbing and gliding abilities, Heels needing to outrun stuff and carry things around) and hunting down their gear, and not really impressing. But once they pair up in Blacktooth Market, the game explodes with possibilities, and only more so when the non-linear section kicks in on the Moonbase.
  • Heavy Rain: The intent of the opening sequence playing Ethan Mars And His Idyllic Home Life is to familiarize yourself with the Quick Time Events and make you care about Ethan...but lots of people found it incredibly boring.
  • Harvest Moon games, a particularly notable example being Harvest Moon: A New Beginning where the Forced Tutorial takes a full in-game year, and you have to do a lot of tedious scavenging for resources in order to unlock the fun elements and characters of the game. Before you show up, the place is a Ghost Town with only two residents. You have to unlock those people by scavenging for resources to build their homes. Story of Seasons is much better about the building mechanic.
  • Infinite Undiscovery was (rightly) criticized for its obnoxious opening hour. It starts with the player running up a long series of cut and pasted stairs, being chased by an invincible boss, proceeds into a ridiculously long and mostly pitch-black forest full of enemies, all with only two characters and about as many health items. After the forest, the player gets a proper party... controlled by the AI, with the only player-controlled character being unable to attack, being required to carry another character to a nearby town. Fortunately, it picks up immediately afterwards.
  • Izuna. While the games are a Nintendo Hard dungeon crawler, the first game has a long text introduction followed by a boring dungeon where you get few items and die in a couple of hits. The 2nd game is better for this, but still has a lot of text at the start.
  • The first few levels of Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast are painful to get through, due to a combination of limited health and ammo, a restricted weapon selection where it takes an hour to find a weapon that even tries to combine any semblance of accuracy and actual power behind it, and the stormtroopers having taken about sixteen levels in badass. However, upon obtaining a lightsaber and gaining Force powers (and escaping the alley full of snipers that can still shoot you through the lightsaber) the game becomes primary example of how fraggin' cool it is to be a Jedi, when in almost a heartbeat you go from weeping bitter tears as you can't get through one room with four guys in it, to being able to literally stand in front of an entire army, not touch a single button, and still win.
  • killer7 has an extremely slow start, with the introductory level throwing you straight into the action without a word of explanation, and only offering bits and pieces of exposition during the incredibly long second level... but as soon as you reach the Cloudman chapter and meet Andrei Ulmeyda, the game picks up instantly.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts II. You go through a three-hour prologue/tutorial playing as somebody who is not even the main character and whose story only even gets cursory mention throughout the rest of the game until the very end. Even within these three hours, you get five to ten minutes of really cool stuff set between a half-hour of slow, boring, stuff.
    • Final Mix of Kingdom Hearts II at least sort of fixes it by adding a number of things to make the whole Roxas story more relevant, most notably a battle against him towards the end of the game. Also, knowing what happened in the later-released side game Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, which features Roxas as the main protagonist and is intended to be played (or watched in the case of the I.5 ReMix collection) before II according to Word of God, makes it much easier to get invested in the events of the prologue.
    • Even in Kingdom Hearts, the plot doesn't kick in until you reach Traverse Town, which happens after roughly an hour—maybe two—of play. But this is much better paced than its sequel, especially since most of the gameplay on Destiny Islands before the plot kicks into high gear is optional.
    • The series has improved on this matter, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance feature short and skippable tutorial sequences. You need to have seen the tutorial at least once in Birth by Sleep to be able to skip it, but you can skip Dream Drop Distance's tutorials right away. 3D even puts some of its heavier background exposition in a menu log, allowing you to view them at your leisure instead of breaking up game flow with repeated flashbacks.
  • Knights of the Old Republic, both the first game and its sequel, have less than stellar opening levels that take a long time to complete and have a severely limited Jedi experience. It's only when planet selection is available that the games really pick up. The sequel is definitely a worse case, with the incredibly linear Prolonged Prologue that takes in excess of three hours to complete, before dumping you in another prolonged prologue, albeit one with more openness and actual dialogue (but you still don't get a lightsaber until much later).
  • La-Mulana starts off with a horribly weak character armed with a single clumsy weapon in a jungle full of irritating enemies and unclear puzzles, all while fighting tricky Jump Physics and trying to figure out where to go. However, this has less to do with pacing problems and more to do with the developers' stated desire to weed out anyone who doesn't have the patience to put up with the steep learning curve. It picks up after you get the grail (which makes dying very unlikely outside of boss battles) and the glyph reader (which gives you a chance to start working on most of the puzzles). By that point, you've probably got some bearing on the general logic the game runs on and have gotten the hang of the control system.
  • The Last Remnant has an extremely complex battle system that takes a lot of patience to understand, much less master. There's also the really long, unskippable cut scenes...but, once you understand the fights enough so that you're not just pushing buttons, it gets good. It should be noted that the PC version makes the cutscenes skippable and somewhat streamlines the battle system, though it is still quite bewildering starting out.
  • Laura Bow: The Dagger of Amon Ra doesn't actually get interesting until after you make it to the museum. Before that it's a bunch of gathering information, gathering items because you've conveniently lost all of your stuff and somehow don't have a press pass, money, or a dress to wear to this party you've been hired to go to write a story on, and you have to take the taxi from place to place, watching the same unnecessarily long, unskippable transition clip every single time you do. But then the game actually starts to get interesting.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky FC is a slow burn. If you're expecting world-shattering events, traveling across continents in an airship (as the title might imply) or saving the world, you'll have to look elsewhere. The game's events are very grounded, and while there's great drama and battles ahead, it takes time to build that up. As in, the prologue, which spends its events in the starting town of Rolent takes about 7 hours if you're doing all the sidequests, and if you want halfway decent Quartz it's a must. The first chapter can drag in places, but once you meet Olivier, the storytelling is starting to pick up. Chapter 2 has a lot of memorable scenes, and the 3rd chapter is where the plot starts to really get going. After finishing the game, it becomes apparent that all the Worldbuilding, Character Development, and exposition over the last 40 hours was there to get you invested in the cast and their world, and that it's one extended prologue to the real story in SC.
  • A recurring problem with the 3D installments of The Legend of Zelda:
    • In Majora's Mask, you have to do several successive tasks to regain your original form, from Deku Scrub to Hylian. And you must do it within the time limit or else you'll have to do everything since the beginning because you can't save your progress until you're done. Note that the part about saving no longer applies in Majora's Mask 3D, as owl statues now merely need to be examined instead of slashed at. Everything else is still true, however.
    • The beginning of The Wind Waker is quite different from the rest of the game: you start out on a tiny island with no weapons, hang out with a cast of pirates, are carted around on their ship, lose your equipment, have to spend about an hour doing a Stealth-Based Mission (the only one in the entire game), and then have to do a number of fetch quests for various townspeople. It's only about 3 hours into the game when you finally have your equipment and your own boat that the game catches its stride.
    • Twilight Princess forces you to go through a ton of tutorial-style content before you get to the actual game. From the start of the game, it is roughly two hours before players enter the first dungeon, another hour before they gain access to Hyrule Field, and far longer still before they can explore it in its entirety. Included in the tutorials is learning how to fish, usually completely optional. Then after you catch something, you need to find out how to drop it so that the cat takes off with it.
    • Spirit Tracks parodies the trope. It starts out with a big chunk of back-story, told with text and still pictures, just like the beginning of The Wind Waker. Once it ends, it's shown that Link got bored and fell asleep while an old man was telling the story. As for actual gameplay, the game does its best to speed through tutorials where you can, in theory, die.
    • Skyward Sword faces a similar problem as Twilight Princess by having a typical small-town intro filled with various tutorials and cutscenes. While this is mitigated somewhat by a few side activities that you are free to do or skip at your discretion, it takes about an hour and a half for Link to finally journey to the Surface to properly start the adventure. And even then, it takes another hour and a half for Link to go through several more tutorials and cutscenes, a Fetch Quest where you must locate members of the local tribe, and then finally enter the first proper dungeon.
    • Completely defied with Breath of the Wild, going with its goal of cutting back on story and tutorials in favor of letting the player discover everything by themselves. Instead of a long sequence of story and tutorial events, you're instead given a vertical slice of the game's Wide-Open Sandbox right off the bat. And while you're required to complete the first four shrines to open up the rest of the game, nothing's stopping you from exploring the still-massive Great Plateau.
  • The Longest Journey are rather exposition-heavy in the first two chapters, and is your only chance to learn a lot about the city and characters within, however the main story of the game is a complete mystery to both the player and April, the main character in beginning. You also have to complete the infamous inflatable Rubber Duck puzzle very early. It may put off some players being stuck with lots of exposition and a hard puzzle early when you haven't really learned the plot of the game and aren't really invested in the story.
  • Mass Effect: the first game opens with a short exposition onboard the Normandy starship, followed by the "dungeon" mission on Eden Prime which serves as a combat tutorial, then more exposition, which is followed by your arrival to the game's major town, the maze-like Citadel, which is full of even more exposition and fetch quests with a few action scenes before finally opening up when they give you the Normandy to explore the galaxy. The sequel in contrast opens with an action-packed dungeon nowhere near as long as Eden Prime, followed by a short exposition, then another action-packed dungeon, and then an even shorter exposition before opening up. On the other hand, given that half the reason for playing BioWare games is to experience the worlds they've created, some players might enjoy the exposition.
  • Metal Gear Solid can start off slow, stiff, and exposition-heavy for some... until the scope of the plot and narrative slowly build-up, hitting a spike at the Psycho Mantis battle, culminating into an explosive, emotional climax that few games can compare to.
  • Metroid Prime:
    • The first game starts with the derelict frigate, which is well regarded by players but then you lose everything, including the Charge Beam, leaving spamming the Power Beam (read: constant Button Mashing) your main attack until you get it back, which is a borderline Guide Dang It! if you're new to the series and haven't gotten used to the exploration-based gameplay.
    • In Echoes, the start of the game is slowed down because of the extreme caution necessary during the first forays into Dark Aether. Without the Dark Suit, gameplay is reduced to darting from beacon to beacon while defeating persistent enemies, and exploration of the nonlinear worlds (the core of Metroid's gameplay) is effectively punished. Dark Aether isn't meant to be safe by any definition, but it's only later with the obtainment of the Dark Suit that taking risks becomes a genuine option, but by then the game is already a third on the way to the end.
    • In Corruption, the Olympus and Norion are very generic Federation areas (though the Ridley fight is good), and Bryyo is very linear and with some annoying level design and tasks. Once you beat Mogenar, you're off to Elysia, a stunning steampunk world with tramlines to grapple across, more exciting upgrades, and it gets a bit more open at this point too (a third on the way to the end).
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War billed itself as a game based around mind-controlling Uruks to build your own army, and you spend the entirety of act 1 doing none of that. It's actually worked into the plot, as the heroes would really like to get a start on building their army, but Shelob has stolen their Ring.
  • Monster Hunter games start out slow, but once you get used to the controls and the craft/shop system then anyone can really pick up to fighting monsters that are challenging, colorful, and entertaining, with resulting weapons follow suit. In particular, Freedom Unite has a set of tutorial missions that can take a day or more to get through. After you actually start getting rewarded for your effort, however, it picks up nicely, even though there's no plot beyond the premise. It goes a lot faster with friends. As part of its sweeping modernizations to the series, Monster Hunter: World makes an attempt to avoid this. After a two-part Action Prologue, there's a lull as you tour your new base of operations, then just a single non-optional busywork quest before you're on to hunting the big things.
  • This is one of the reasons Act I of Neverwinter Nights 2 tends to get flak from some players, particularly those mainly interested in the story. You travel through two quest hubs, several scripted encounters, and lots of ultimately irrelevant sidequests before you finally get to Neverwinter—at which point you get even more irrelevant sidequests before finally getting a chance to continue with the main plot.
  • Oh No! More Lemmings begins with the Tame levels — twenty levels of various terrain formations, with all skills available and no hazards, so there is no difficulty whatever, and not much fun either.
  • Ōkami has a long, unskippable, if beautifully drawn, introduction detailing the historical battle between Nagi, Shiranui, and Orochi. If the player started the game only after letting the "attract loop" play, which illustrated the exact same story slightly differently, it seemed to go on for a very very long time. It is possible to skip the cutscene once you've already finished the game, while the Wii remake also allows you to skip them on your first run through. The actual game itself also suffers from this: the first several hours are very linear and restrict you to a few small locations, while Issun feels an insatiable need to interrupt your gameplay every few minutes. It does vastly improve once you unlock your basic brush powers and get full access to the larger areas, although the hand-holding never really goes away.
  • Paper Mario:
    • Paper Mario 64 is the only Mario RPG that explicitly prevents you from guarding and using timed hits until it is explained by the tutorial at the end of the lengthy prologue. Until then, battle is purely "hit and get hit", and the player is forced to use healing blocks and items to avoid dying.
    • Super Paper Mario. The first chapter consists of only Mario being playable, only one Pixl (which you get halfway through), and not many interesting puzzles. It picks up when you get to use Peach in chapter 2, along with more puzzle-oriented level design and slowly acquiring more Pixls.
    • Paper Mario: The Origami King stars with the Whispering Woods, which primarily consists of walking between the start of the forest and the Spring of Restoration, briefly interrupted by relatively simple tutorial battles. There's also a small interlude at Toad Town afterwards, where you travel through the sewers and meet up with Luigi. The game begins to pick up at Picnic Road, which introduces a bunch of hidden secrets to find.
  • Persona 3 spends a few hours introducing the members of SEES (and Pharos) while the protagonist is evaluated for their potential. Once Akihiko contacts the group about the massive Shadow he's encountered, the game kicks up a notch and throws you straight into the fight.
  • Persona 4 is an odd case in that it just can't help but justify the Anthropic Principle. You know as soon as you discover the TV world that you're going to wind up going to it and fighting monsters, but the characters react realistically rather than simply rushing in, with the result that gameplay doesn't fully open up until about three hours in.
  • Persona 5, much like its predecessors, suffers from a slow beginning. Although it has an Action Prologue in order to set up the Framing Device, the player then has to sit through 9 in-game days of set-up, during which there are very few meaningful choices to make. This can take about 5 hours of play-time, after which more ways to spend time start to be unlocked.
  • In the Pokémon franchise, it's annoyingly tedious to be shown how to catch Pokémon at the beginning of every game. Especially bad in a few of the games, where it's possible to catch a full, six-mon party of Pokémon before you receive this tutorial. Some people say that the most boring part of every single Pokémon game is the first few towns until the first gym battle. You knew everything that happens there years before the game was even made.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon are even worse about this than normal. Melemele Island, the first of the region's four main islands, is so aggressive with hand-holding that many players are discouraged from restarting for a challenge run simply to avoid going through it a second time. At this point in the game, it's almost as if the world doesn't want you to explore, given how it seems you can't go more than a few feet without another cutscene that lasts anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes, or get whisked away from wherever you were to somewhere else to watch another cutscene. Once you reach Akala Island, the game starts to back off, and the story really starts to come through by the time you hit Ula'ula Island.
    • Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon not only has the same issues as Sun and Moon mentioned above but also has the misfortune of being largely the same story as before, with only the Ultra Recon Squad making frequent but minor appearances. The story doesn't really start to diverge from the originals until the first visit to Aether Paradise, which is after completing the second (out of four) islands. This isn't so bad for those who didn't play the originals, but veterans will need a lot of patience while treading old ground.
    • Hey You, Pikachu! gets off to a weak start, mainly because you can't look away from your Pika-pal until he comes to live with you. Once you get full camera controls, the game opens up nicely.
  • There isn't any interactivity at all for the first hour or so of Princess Waltz. The first time you do anything other than click through dialogue is the battle at the end of Chapter Two... which promptly introduces you to the simple yet intricate card-battle system, at which point your interest gets reignited.
  • Resident Evil starts off pretty slow where you just wander from room to room looking for keys to progress. You only fight some zombies and a few zombie dogs, but the battle with the giant snake is when things start to pick up a bit and the backstory via files start to reveal a lot more on what happened at the mansion grounds.
  • Retro Game Challenge opens up with the earliest, simplest game in the collection: Cosmic Gate. If you happen to not be a fan of Galaga then you're in for a bit of a bad time.
  • Rune: After the perfectly serviceable tutorial, you and your allies are killed at sea. Your body then sinks so far Down the Drain that you end up in a network of boring underwater caves and ruins under the underworld before ol' Odin decides to revive you, which are filled with boring enemies like crabs, anemones and jellyfish (with occasional goblins, but they're very rare.) On your way to the surface, you then have to pass through Helheim, which is full of almost nothing but boring zombies. Finally, you get to the "land of the living", and the game gets vastly better from there on in. The intro is bad enough that it was probably partially responsible for the game's obscurity.
  • Serious Sam III: BFE starts out rather slowly with most of the enemies coming one by one. A pistol and a single shotgun are your only ranged weapons near the beginning. Taking cover is also necessary despite what the game's slogan is due to a lot of enemies having hitscan weapons. Near the end of the third level, first big battles start to happen and the pace of the game picks up a lot, and from there builds up to series standard in pretty short order. The lack of ranged weapons can be averted by finding secrets. Find the right ones and by the time you reach those first big battles you already have both shotguns, an assault rifle, and the laser gun; this still leaves you with little ammo for them until the point you normally acquire them, though.
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne gets off to something of a slow start. You name your characters, get sent on a few tangential bits of exploration in the Shinjuku Medical Center, find out about the end of the world, and get thrown back into the hospital, now able to save after the first 45 minutes. It's only after you do some battling, get a humble Pixie, and start getting used to recruiting demons that you begin to get to grips with the game. Even then, it's a few hours of linear dungeons and low-level demons before you get the Compendium and your Fusion options open up. Then you slog through the Underpass of Ginza and are confronted with Matador, the first boss that tests your knowledge of the game's mechanics and the fun challenge begins in earnest. From this point on, you get access to the AMala Labyrinth, fight your way through the trial in Ikebukuro, and can tackle the optional Fiend bosses and dungeons while you chart a path to the many Multiple Endings.
  • A number of Shin Megami Tensei IV players tend to give up before they enter Tokyo, as that's where the game's Early Game Hell and lack of varied environments ends and the player can start picking up attacks and weapons best-suited to eliminating entire enemy parties at once, which are vital especially given the game's lack of a defense stat that leads to either the player's party emerging victorious or getting destroyed in about one or two turns.
  • SimCity:
    • Starting off small can be rather boring for some, but this is also where you can make a lot of mistakes by expanding a city too quickly and going bankrupt or get into bad development habits. Particularly after the first, when you have to lay out a lot more to expand at all. Luckily, you can dive into working with an existing metropolis in all of the games, though you might have to turn disasters off in some scenarios.
    • Sim City 4 takes this to the extreme in the sense that they offer the regions of San Fransisco, New York City, and a generic "Fairview" as being completely empty, as in not one town to get you started, let alone your own custom regions start off blank. It can be frustrating to get the first few towns to grow, but after you get the regional population over 150,000, getting other cities to grow actually becomes incredibly easier and more strategically challenging as opposed to being pure frustration.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is very different from the Megadrive/Genesis Sonic 2. Notably some genius decided to put perhaps the hardest boss (FAR harder than ANYTHING in a Genesis Sonic game) in any Sonic game ever as THE FIRST BOSS.
    • The Westopolis stage is one of the worst opening stages in the entire Sonic franchise and probably helped lower the already rock-bottom public opinion of Shadow the Hedgehog. It exposes many of the game's flaws; the game starts becoming considerably more fun around the halfway point when better weapons deal with the targeting system's flaws when in close range. And in order to get the final ending of the game and face the True Final Boss, you have to get the game's ten normal endings. That means you have to play through Westopolis ten times.
    • Sonic and the Secret Rings forces you to unlock many of the interesting abilities, going as far as to make you actually have to unlock better controls.
    • Sonic and the Black Knight isn't much better, although it's more tolerable at first, and gets much better by the end. It has less to do with gaining abilities and more to do with the player learning what to do combined with bad level design for the first couple stages. Right around Molten Mine, the game picks up significantly.
  • The early parts of Spec Ops: The Line (presumably intentionally) seem like a generic, somewhat unpolished, modern military shooter. As it progresses, the story begins to play with and subvert the expected tropes, creating a more engaging experience. "Better" probably isn't the right word to describe the direction the plot takes, though.
  • Splatoon and Splatoon 2's multiplayer: You start with one available weapon, one game mode, and one set of gear and must earn everything else by leveling up. The early battles are still fun, but it isn't until you've gained a few levels that other weapon types become available and the real variety of gameplay styles become apparent. When you hit level 10 and gain access to ranked battles, the game really opens up.
  • The first hour or so of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time consists almost entirely of "run to this place, talk to this person, repeat." There's only two battles during the entire opening, and one is a tutorial.
  • Star Ruler. At the start your industry is poor, your ships are short-legged, slow, weak, and don't carry much ammo, early-game rushes are nearly impossible. It's only after some tech buildup that you can start making war in earnest.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has a lot of this, especially on the Republic Classes, and doubly so on the Jedi Consular.
    • The Consular's first act is hunting down Jedi Masters afflicted with a Dark Side plague and is a Fetch Quest. But then Alderaan is seen, where the last Jedi Master is negotiating with the squabbling noble houses (and under the Dark side plague, making the civil war worse). The Consular, either way, shows up and forces a peace among those haughty nobles, establishing them as a first-rate Ambadassador and setting into motion the events of Acts 2 and 3.
    • A class's first Act comprises going to a planet, doing the same thing as they do on the other three planets (destroying a terrorist cell as the Agent, disabling a superweapon as the Knight, finding an artifact as the Sith Inquisitor, etc.), and then leaving. In comparison, Acts 2 and 3 generally have much more epic, tightly woven stories, with a clear objective, more interesting characters, and more of a sense of impact on the world as a whole. The stories become more interesting, too: The Imperial Agent is brainwashed and uncovers an Ancient Conspiracy, the Jedi Knight goes after the Emperor himself, the Sith Inquisitor becomes a Sith Lord, builds a power base, hunts ghosts and fights for their life against a Dark Council member who wants them dead, etc.
    • This hits some characters harder than others. While classes like the Imperial Agent and Jedi Knight still have fairly interesting stories (albeit much less so than their Act 2 and 3 stories), others can be a nightmare to get through. The Jedi Consular, as mentioned, is downright painful to get through at first, and the Sith Inquisitor doesn't fare much better (although the amount of funny dialog and downright insane plans like "steal a cult" and "become part colicoid to swim in toxic waste" they get in this section have their own appeal). Luckily, they get much better by Act 2.
  • Stardew Valley is slow to get going at first. You start off with a plot of farmland that's covered in vegetation and needs to be cleared out, all you get to start is some starting cash, and you use so much of your energy watering your crops one at a time that the only times you can really do anything else intensive (like going to the mines or chopping down trees en masse) are when it's raining. However, as you grow your profits, your options open up, and by the second year, you will likely have enough resources and tools (including upgraded versions of them) to do whatever you want.
  • The Suikoden series can take varying amounts of time to get to the best parts of the game, but Suikoden V is the real offender as far as this trope goes - it takes a good 10-15 hours (as in, probably the better part of a real-life day) to get past the initial go to various towns, talk to various people, see cutscenes, and okay, we'll let you fight a *few*battles here and there stage to where the game starts opening up, letting you get your base and actually starting to explore, recruit, and really get into the actual game. But once you do get past that, it's actually probably the best Suikoden game other than the revered Suikoden II. This is done intentionally, to get players really invested in caring about the nation of Falena and its people before the war gets started.
  • Super Robot Wars Original Generation starts you off with one or two Gespensts (mass-produced units with only a handful of abilities) and maybe a fighter plane or two. It isn't until the cooler unique prototypes that it gets really interesting. Kyosuke's route isn't too bad though, as you get quickly several unique units and even some Super Robots. Ryusei's, on the other hand, has no such luck.
  • System Shock 2. You start the game the moment you enroll with TriOptimum. You go through the basic training (three simple and very quick tutorials) and then through three years of training... which amount to picking one of three doors, three times. Most fans agree this is an aversion, since it is very quick, especially if you want it to be quick. It works well as part of the intro - establishing your character, while the FMV-intro establishes the setting of the game. Nonetheless, the game also has a severe case of Early Game Hell, and key plot developments are not revealed until you're almost done with a third of the main campaign.
  • Tales Series:
    • The first ten hours of Tales of the Abyss can be a real drag since the main character Luke is an unlikable Jerkass, the characters constantly throw around terms like "Score", "the Seventh Fonon" and "Hyperresonance" which either aren't explained until later or require immidiate heavy-handed exposition, and the plot is fairly typical. Even worse is how expensive weapon and armor is, so every time you get a new character you have to waste a lot of time running around fighting monsters because you will not have enough money. But eventually you get all your characters geared up, Luke has a Heel Realization moment, and the first traditional Tales plot twist happens, making the story actually interesting.
    • Tales of Symphonia: What seems like a classic "power up the Chosen One and save the world" story turns out to be a complete and utter LIE. In fact, you've only completed about five percent of the game! Now get ready to use daemonic weapons, Powered by a Forsaken Child augmentations, and unholy summoning spells against Cyber-Heaven for the remaining ninety-five percent.
    • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World: You start off with a long unskippable cutscene, and the first chapter is essentially one long, long unskippable tutorial on how to play. Even on New Game+. It really doesn't help that this is the first of many chapters where the "Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality" line is really overused.
    • Tales of Xillia zig-zags this. The player starts off by heading into the Factory With A Dark Secret and you get quickly thrown into battles, as well as being given Milla, who is amazingly overpowered for that part of the game. But then she loses those powers and the next few hours are spent travelling to Nia Khera, which forces the player to head from one identical harbor to small, very uninteresting towns connected by identically designed routes. The game does pick up again shortly after, but goes into another low point, before looking up again.
  • The first stage of Tatsujin Ou / Truxton II mostly consists of copy and paste space and enemy patterns for several minutes until you reach actual scenery. Once you get to stage 2, the game picks up in variety, although it also gets more difficult.
  • Toribash starts off rather awkward and clumsy. There's a tutorial in the game, but a lot of players starting tend to only learn the most basic of moves, or just blindly enter inputs... then, as understanding of the physics, timing, tolerances, and power available sets in, players can start pulling off more impressive maneuvers, and by then even the basic default settings will allow for some rather spectacular (or spectacularly gruesome) feats.
  • Whenever you recruit a new character, Valkyrie Profile gives you an unskippable cutscene detailing his or her backstory. Some are good, some just have you mashing the X button in the irrational hope that it will do something. Notably, the intro to the entire game- which has to introduce the main character AND her first two companions- takes nearly fifty minutes. And there's also a prologue cutscene that plays if you leave the game on the title screen without pressing start for a while, sets up a plot twist later on, and is almost as long.
  • The first stage of Wai Wai World 2 is a slow, boring autoscroller that seemingly takes forever to end. Thankfully, the game gets more exciting the minute the second stage starts.
  • The first episode of The Walking Dead: Season Two isn't all that interesting, with Clementine mostly on her own, while one of Telltale's greatest strengths is creating memorable characters and giving the player meaningful interactions with them. The overall direction of the story is also very vague. Once Clementine finally begins to be trusted by the new group of survivors near the end of episode one and the focus of the story is introduced early on in episode two, the game becomes the Walking Dead experience players know and love, and stays that way.
  • Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune starts you off with a stock vehicle that can top maybe 250 km/h at best. In order to be able to go toe-to-toe in Versus and Time Attack modes, you need to power up your vehicle through Story Mode, which depending on the game can take 60, 80, or even 100 stages, in a game that asks you to insert more credits after every stage. Once you hit full-tune, the "real" game opens up and you can start racing seriously with other players whether in real-time VS matches or in Ghost Battle mode and try your hand at Time Attack.
  • The Witcher certainly has this issue. While the Prologue might not seem that bad to first-time players, Chapter I probably will. The slow learning curve, slower pace, fair amount of backtracking and seemingly side-tracked plot ended up putting off some gamers - most notably Yahtzee. However, things get better in the next chapter, which is when the player's abilities start to diversify and the main story starts to pick up.
    • The Witcher 2 had a similar problem due to its inverse difficulty curve and barely-present tutorial. Some players Rage Quit the game after failing to beat the first encounter with enemy mooks. However, once you get a hang of the way the combat works and get some levels to unlock more abilities, it turns into a very rewarding experience.
  • The early levels of World of Warcraft can be boring if you're not playing for the first time. You have only one or two skills and no talent points yet.
    • Especially the low level Barrens for the Horde. The zone is as exciting as it sounds, and it's extremely big, with plenty of quests that have you scour large areas to find those elusive kodos that just don't drop quest items as often as they should. Even one of the quest NPCs is constantly moving. And ganked repeatedly by the Alliance.
    • Enormous areas of the game were made this when an expansion came out. Azeroth, the original two continents, were nearly totally abandoned when the Burning Crusade came out and everybody went to Outland. Only low levels and bank alts were left. Then the Wrath of the Lich King came out, and Outland was abandoned.
    • Blizzard actually acknowledges the issue and throughout the second expansion was constantly improving it. They have cut the amount of experience needed for levels 1-60 several times, added XP gain in battlegrounds, introduced the whole new system for random dungeons which made it far easier to gather a party for them, and gives more loot and finally added several moderately challenging dungeons which awarded loot on par with lower level of previous raid tier. While the last addition removed the need for new players to farm several tiers of raids to finally get into actual content, it got hit with It's Easy, So It Sucks!.
    • Cataclysm takes it a step further. Most of the classic zones have been redesigned (the Barrens for example were split into two more manageable zones), the talent trees are completely revamped (and now give you first Signature Move for a chosen specialisation at level 10 instead of around 30), dungeons are readjusted for new level ranges, etc. It is very awesome.
  • The developmental league in WWE Day of Reckoning's story mode. There's no storyline or anything interesting going on, it's all "Beat this guy," "OK, beat this guy using your finisher," "OK, beat this guy using a top-rope move," "OK, make this guy tap out..." and on and on and on. And you're fighting crappy nobody wrestlers that are just an amalgamation of CAW parts instead of the actual WWE guys you bought the game for. Overly realistic for many gamers.
  • Endemic to the X-Universe series. Depending on the game, it can literally take days to get enough cash together for your first factory, assuming you don't try to take advantage of the derelict ships floating around. Recently the devs have been trying to reduce the lead time and make the games more accessible to new players. The first game was by far the worst, starting you off without a time compressor, in a setting that is much more liberal with the scale of space than usual. Assuming you know exactly what to buy and where, your first trading run will take half an hour.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X: The first three chapters consist mainly of exposition about the game's setting and few tutorials that barely scratch the surface of the game's mechanics. After that point, more of the side missions that make up the bulk of the game's content becomes available. But even then, things don't really pick up until you've unlocked your Skell and the flight module, which both make exploration and combat much easier.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 suffers from this on both the story and gameplay front:
    • There's a small bit of explanation of the world in the opening cutscene, then straight into a mysterious mission for mysterious, untrustworthy people that doesn't explain anything. The inciting incident of Rex's death and resurrection followed by deciding to go to Elysium takes things in a good direction at the end of chapter 1. However, the story takes every opportunity to not go towards Elysium, and it's a while until the other plotlines pick up enough momentum to make up for the lack of progression on the obvious main story.
    • While the game mechanics are satisfying once you figure them out, they're complicated and not introduced well. The Blade mechanic isn't introduced until the end of the first chapter, despite being the center of the game's combat system. More party members are added, following the usual Damager, Healer, Tank dynamic, but the story keeps removing party members in the early chapters, meaning you can lose your healer or tank just as you're starting to get used to how they play. There are also mechanics like chain attacks that are introduced early, but before you're likely to have the right blade setup to take full advantage of them. It's not until late chapter 4/early chapter 5 that the party fills out and you'll have access to enough decent blades and items that the game mechanics finally start to click. This is also around the time in the game that, for most players, the story starts to pick up as well.
  • GameSpot has a review demerit Game Emblem called Terrible First Impression for games that suffer from this trope.
    "Games with this demerit pick up at least a little later on, but they definitely don't start strong."
  • Yakuza 3: most of the first act (and several hours of gameplay) focus around Kiryu retiring from the yakuza and living in (relative) peace in a small corner of Okinawa, running an orphanage with Haruka. There's little fighting or intrigue beyond Kiryu's scuffles with a local yakuza branch that wants to buy his land, and most of the side missions surround Kiryu helping the orphans solve mundane problems in their lives. Then the second act opens with an assassination attempt on Daigo Dojima, and Kiryu heads back to Kamurocho to break up a Government Conspiracy.
  • Yakuza 0: Most of Chapter 1 focuses on exposition through cutscenes to introduce you to the main conflict and the story threads, and you can only explore a small area of Kamurocho. However, there's plenty of moments that help balance it out, such as singing Karaoke with Nishiki, meeting Bacchus and learning your first few fighting moves, and the first series-staple massive fight through the Dojima Family HQ. Once Chapter 2 begins, you're given a lot more space to explore and advance the story as you wish.
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon: There's about three hours of cutscene-heavy backstory and exposition to get through before you can start doing all of the wacky stuff that you saw on YouTube.

    Visual Novels 
  • Most Danganronpa games have this. These games have Loads and Loads of Characters (15-16 main characters depending on the game) and each one of them has to introduce themselves in the early game. Once you get through everyone's introductions, the story can actually begin, with things really getting interesting once the first murder occurs.
  • In Heart of the Woods, the first chapter out of six is relatively slow-paced, since it mainly involves Madison and Tara investigating the town of Eysenfeld for supernatural phenomena and getting to know their host, Morgan. Abigail, who's Madison's Love Interest, doesn't even appear until early in Chapter 2. Things really start picking up at the end of Chapter 2, when Madison dies and Abigail brings her back as a ghost, enabling Madison to actually hear what Abigail is saying.
  • Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, being like Danganronpa above and having some horror elements, starts off this way. The prologue and first chapter introduce the cast (which, with ten guests at the party and two characters' parents, is smaller than Danganronpa) and provide some Foreshadowing. The first murder occurs at the end of the second chapter.
  • When They Cry:
    • The Question Arcs of Higurashi: When They Cry start off as Slice of Life comedies with only a scant few bits of foreshadowing. It takes several hours of reading before the festival happens and the story makes its Genre Shift into Psychological Horror. Then the chapter ends and the next starts with more wacky adventures starring the characters you just watched get tortured and killed messily. The Slice of Life parts do contain a good number of truly hilarious scenes and are important for establishing the relationships between the characters and making the horror parts more tragic and impactful, but many people will probably be turned away when they don't find the horror story they were expecting (or at least wonder if they got the wrong game by accident).
    • Similarly, the first episode of Umineko: When They Cry is nigh-unplayable due to this. You literally spend 2 hours reading people discussing the weather and politics and being introduced to the 18 members and servants of the Ushiromiya family. Then people start dying horribly. And lots of Mind Screw courtesy of the magical beings.
  • A good amount of visual novels have slow-paced beginnings, or a lot of filler before something interesting really happens. Doesn't help that there are common routes and specific character paths. There are visual novels with extremely long common routes that take about 10 hours (or even more) to complete - after you finish that, you will be able to proceed to a character's route.
    • Yume Miru Kusuri has gotten some complaints because the slice of life elements in the beginning can be kind of boring. It's basically the guy just going to school, talking to some people, then going to work, etc. Rinse and repeat for a good hour or so. YMK is a character-driven game so you might want to skip right to the parts where you talk to the girl you like.
    • Subarashiki Hibi has a rough start can be tedious to people who are expecting crazy stuff (this visual novel has a certain reputation...). Then you have to read the whole chapter again to proceed to the next. Thank God there's the skip button.
  • The Fruit of Grisaia's common route is about 15 hours or more. This can be disheartening to readers who dislike slice of life and comedy.
  • The Muv-Luv Visual Novel series combines this with Genre Shift. While most of its fans know the series as a post-apocalyptic drama set in a world where humanity is on the brink of annihilation, the series actually starts out with Muv-Luv Extra, a light-hearted romantic comedy with no apocalyptic elements whatsoever that essentially serves as an origin story for the main cast. It's only when you start the follow-up installment, Muv-Luv Unlimited, that the apocalyptic setting even materializes, with the most acclaimed chapter of the story actually being the final story arc in the series.
  • Zero Escape: While the first two installments (999 and Virtue's Last Reward) throw you into a puzzle section right away, Zero Time Dilemma begins with a lengthy intro, followed by three similar scenes (one for each team), each of which is almost completely non-interactive (save for making a single choice) and serves to slowly introduce the characters. It takes over an hour before the first puzzle section is unlocked.

    Web Animation 
  • The animated Urban Fantasy series Broken Saints is notorious for being very slow to start, apart from being just slow-paced in general. However, as writer Brooke Burgess is quick to point out if the series didn't take its time with the nice character moments early on, the audience wouldn't care as much about them later on when the shit hits the fan.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: The majority of the entire first season is spent introducing all of the main characters. It's justified; the show was originally going to be conceived as an anthology series until the fans convinced the creators to tie the world together. Around Season 2, the show gradually evolved from a simple Gag Series to a Continuity Lock-Out Dramedy.


    Web Videos 
  • The web puppet series Robot Rampage suffered this in its first episode. While it essentially sets up the plot for the first season (building a Robot), the episode is a bit slow and expositional.
  • Tribe Twelve of The Slender Man Mythos; it starts off as a Marble Hornets clone, but after the funeral submission, it begins to improve noticeably, in just about all respects. The acting is especially noticeable.
  • "The Wadsworth Principle" is this in regards to videos like those found on YouTube. It's an axiom which states that the first 30% of any video can be skipped because it contains no worthwhile or interesting information. There are even Python scripts and websites that automatically do this to videos for you.
    "For EVERY youtube video, I always open the video and then immediately punch the slider bar to about 30 percent. For example, in this video, it should have just started at 0:40. Everything before 0:40 was a waste. This holds true for nearly every video in the universe."
  • Caddicarus discusses this in-work in his video "10 SH*T BEGINNINGS IN GAMES", where he lists ten examples of games that he thinks suffer from this.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time starts off by throwing the viewer into the deep end of the show's absurdist comedy, and it can take quite a while to get a handle on the setting and characterization due to how little continuity there is. It isn't until about halfway through the second season that the interpersonal relationships between the characters get more focus, and the show starts to build continuity within the setting. Then in the S2 finale, the Lich appears, and things really come together.
  • Many people agree the first half of season 1 of American Dad! is mostly non-humorous political humor that was outdated before it even aired, in addition to having Family Guy-esque cutaway gags. Thankfully, the second half of season 1 saw to it to get rid of many of the political humor, as well as completely removing the cutaways. Ever since then, it has been wildly regarded as the funniest animated series on Fox.
  • It takes about 3/4 of the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender for it to really hit its stride story-wise. It’s not until Aang, Katara, and Sokka get to the Northern Water Tribe that the show ditches the world-building for the Myth Arc that carries throughout the rest of the show.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!:
    • Season 1 begins not with the founding of The Avengers, but with about two hours' worth of shorts detailing how each of the first eight members fought crime before becoming part of the team. Regardless of whether you watch each short one by one, or watch the five episodes compiling them, they make a rather disjointed introduction to the show.note  Even after the Avengers get founded, it takes six more episodes for all eight of those superheroes to join. However, a number of the episodes detailing the team's founding and early expansions became regarded nearly as high as those that followed, if not more so.
    • Season 2 takes its sweet time for the team to realize there is a mole on their team, this being the BIG cliffhanger from season 1. We're also waiting for the one person who figured this out to escape from the mole's prison. He escapes in episode 9. The arc is 13 episodes long, but the climax and payoff are well worth it as the build-up finally begins to merge and pay off.
  • Beast Wars for its first few episodes is a very run-of-the-mill action show with mostly one-note and at times annoying characters and basic plots. The pilot in particular is just a slow-paced setup full of exposition and a very simple story that's basically just an excuse to have a huge fight scene. It isn't until about the first season's half-point that the characters settle into their roles and a continuous storyline begins to take shape. The writers admittedly had no idea what to do with the show in the beginning, but thankfully they were able to tie the random plot-points they had laid out into a mostly coherent story by the season finale.
  • Beware the Batman is fairly episodic at first, and Tatsu is just introduced as a civilian who has not yet become the vigilante Katana. The first few episodes develop her character through minor scenes and B-plots. It's not until the seventh episode, "Family", where she finds out the truth about Bruce Wayne and Batman, she fights alongside Batman against the common threat of the League of Assassins, and the first actual story arc of the season officially kicks into place. The series becomes increasingly serialized after that.
  • Bojack Horseman didn't impress too many people with its first few episodes; while not bad, they didn't look like much more than a typical adult animated sitcom, complete with Family Guy-esque Cutaway Gags and an unsympathetic protagonist. Around halfway through the first season, however, it revealed itself to be more of a thoughtful character study with surprising emotional heft. When the creator talked about this years later, he revealed that he wishes he made the build-up to the Tone Shift more obvious or just had the show as a tragicomedy from the start.
    There are clues in the beginning, and I think because of the context of it being an adult animated show, people didn't see those clues. (...) I remember reading reviews of the first season, and one said "for a show that is meant to be just wall-to-wall jokes, there sure are a lot of scenes that don't have that many jokes." And I thought, "You're so close."
  • The first couple of episodes of Codename: Kids Next Door are considered decent but nothing really special. It's not until the fairly serious first season finale that it starts getting good.
  • While the villain scenes of The Dreamstone are consistently humorous through the entire series, the heroes spend most of the early run being thoroughly humourless and bland, with very little effort put into developing their mythos and world, or even just having them look sympathetic against the Urpneys, making the show incredibly uneven. Season Three onwards starts to give more side plots for the heroes' duties and travels, with a lot more surreal world-building present. Rufus and Amberley also gain more comedic, snarky personalities to make their scenes as enjoyable as the Urpneys'.
  • The first season of Gravity Falls started off slow, with Dipper and Mabel encountering random Monsters Of The Week with slight hints at a Myth Arc. While the show was still popular during this time, it wasn't until the exciting two-part Season Finale, which introduces the show's Big Bad and ends with major secrets starting to come to light, that the show's plot really picked up.
  • The animated part of Gertie the Dinosaur comes when the film is about halfway done. Of course, the whole thing is less than fifteen minutes long. Despite this, there was still a version made that cut the non-animated first half out.
  • While they still caught some viewers' attention by being very different from G3 and 3.5, which are generally considered a Dork Age, the first couple of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episodes are heavily clichéd and predictable. While these episodes certainly aren't bad exactly, they didn't do much to establish their own identity. The show's explosion in popularity would occur at the beginning of the second season, with a villain named Discord chewing the scenery, followed by a solid string of great Slice of Life episodes; one of which is still considered one of the best in the series.
  • Kulipari: An Army of Frogs takes its time establishing its setting and characters, not even getting to introducing the titular Kulipari until episode 7, halfway into the first season and the plot becomes more of a Compressed Adaptation from there, culminating in the first book being told in 9 episodes, but books 2 and 3 only getting two episodes each which results in the plot moving so fast, things don't even really make sense unless you've read the books.
  • Steven Universe can be a disorienting experience for newcomers, as the first half of season one provides only the smallest of hints that something bigger than Monster of the Week adventures with a boy with a gem for a bellybutton and his mother figures is going on. The series formally introduces its Myth Arc in "Lion 2: The Movie", seventeen episodes in, with the midseason two-parter being the point that both fans and the show's creators believe Steven Universe begins to truly pick up speed and more frequently display the rich Character Development and Worldbuilding it has since become known for.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes starts off with only relatively small amounts of continuity and foreshadowing, and doesn't pick up the pace until at least halfway through the rather lengthy first season. It's especially slow compared to season 3, where nearly every episode is part of a longer storyline, due partially to the series Growing the Beard and partially to the show's cancellation looming on the horizon.


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