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*BANG* He's dead; roll credits.
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It makes sense to grace a book or film with cover art that is eye-catching, dramatic, even climactic. To achieve this, it's natural for a publisher to choose to illustrate an important moment from the story, perhaps in the climax itself. The problem, of course, is that this provides information to the audience that the creator may have meant to come as a surprise. At the least, it indicates the characters on the cover survive to the latter part of the story.

This can be mitigated if the depiction is presented in a particular way that the meaning isn't immediately clear. However, this still means that the viewer will at some point recognise the context of the cover and realise what's going to happen in advance.

Another way a publisher can get away with this is due to the tendency of covers to show things that never actually happen in the work. Thus, audiences may disregard the imagery until after they've reached the end, at which point the cover becomes Fridge Brilliance.

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Conversely, some covers reveal spoilers because a work is old enough that the publishers assume everyone already knows the ending. See Late-Arrival Spoiler.

The practice of Super Dickery relies on this- a superhero is shown doing something evil, in order to shock casual comic-book store browsers and entice them to buy the comic to see what happens. On the actual page, the event would be given some extra context to explain that something more innocent was going on. A more honest approach shows a genuine cliffhanger- such as the hero about to be killed- and this works because the comic can be read quickly enough that there's no need to take the time to build up suspense.

Compare Spoiler Title, where the title gives away a major plot twist. Contrast Covers Always Lie, the Inverted Trope where a cover doesn't accurately reflect the work at all.

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Warning: As a possible Ending Trope, expect unmarked spoilers.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The cover of the third volume of Bakuman。 shows Moritaka Mashiro, one of the main characters, working as an assistant for Eiji Nizuma. When the offer is first proposed, Mashiro's editor, Akira Hattori, initially doesn't think he'll take it.
  • Berserk, while usually pretty good at not giving away crucial plot events can't help but spoil The Eclipse in nearly all adaptions. One of the boxset covers for the 90s anime shows Guts and Casca bloody, scarred and branded and the promotional art for the anime shows Griffith tortured and even Guts and Casca kissing (spoiling the fact they hook up). The movies are just as bad when it comes to spoilers, the second movie cover shows the Behelit opening it's eyes and bleeding and the third movie cover outright shows Griffith initiating The Eclipse and the Japanese cover which was literally displayed outside the Theaters showed Femto.
    • The less than liked Berserk (2016) posters show the Beast of Darkness and the Berserker Amour.
    • The Berserk: The Band of the Hawk cover shows Casca in her worst moment as well as Femto back to back with Griffith in clear parallel.
    • To be fair, the manga covers aren't subtle either, volume 12 shows Femto and volume 13 shows Guts and Casca naked and wrecked in a pool of blood surrounded by monsters with a bat-like creature flying down to them.
  • The artwork used for A Certain Scientific Railgun Season One, Part Two (from Funimation) and the final episodes of Season One (in Japan) spoils the fact that Erii and Banri make it out okay and recover from what happens. It even spoils a minor part of the next season, as Banri spends most of season two still in the hospital and doesn't receive her uniform until then.
  • Code Geass R2 DVD covers:
    • The back of the third volume for shows Charles with a code mark on his hand, as well as a dying V.V..
    • The fourth volume shows pictures of Nunnally, who was assumed to be dead, including one with her eyes open, and also includes a Spoiler Title for Episode 22: Emperor Lelouch.
  • The final volume of Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally shows Nunnally standing up alongside Alice; granted, her eyes are still closed, but so are Alice's, and also makes a reference to Euphemia becoming Empress.
  • Most Dragon Ball Z Non-Serial Movie posters spoil either the Big Bad's final form or how said villain is dispatched e.g The Return of Cooler America DVD cover spoils the fact there's multiple copies of the titular antagonist and the Japanese cover shows Goku doing the move which destroys Cooler at the end of the movie. Resurrection F is even worse the initial poster clued everyone into the fact Freiza has new form given he has a golden Battle Aura and the later posters just showed his Golden Form brazenly.
    • Dragon Ball Z Kai's season 3 DVD cover... just in case you didn't know how Frezia gets killed.
  • While not the cover for the movie itself, the artwork for the soundtrack of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Reflection spoils Nanoha's Mode F, something that only happens at the very end of the movie.
  • The DVD cover for anthology film Memories spoils a plot point from Magnetic Rose by showing the mummified corpse of Eva.
  • In the case of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the cover for The End of Evangelion is actually an epilogue of sorts for the film, as it is evident that the scene depicted on it takes place immediately after the film's very last scene.
  • One Piece
    • Some of the DVD and Boxset covers will spoil plot moments, the most egregious ones being: collection 19 where Luffy fighting Usopp is shown, collection 20 which shows Luffy punching Rob Lucci, collection 35 which shows Luffy teaming up with his former foes Buggy, Mr 2 and Mr 3 and especially the fishmen island cover which just shows Luffy beating Hordy Jones.
    • The cover for the manga volume 75, which is during the Dressrosa arc, will automatically spoil the reappearance of Sabo, Luffy and Ace's childhood friend, who was thought to be dead when they were kids. Most manga covers will spoil villains and other characters important to the story.
    • The Strong World poster (drawn by Oda) shows the scene where Nami leaves a final message for the crew.
  • Posters for Pokémon films are usually released around February in Japan, with the actual movie being screened in July. This often means that either the main poster or the "Pikachu the Movie" onenote  will spoil every single change in the teams of Ash and his friends in the next 5 months.
  • One of the Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure! volumes featured a prominent spoiler on one of the covers the volume after it was revealed. It clearly showed Mitsumi as a Team Galactic member, so to anyone who saw that cover early... You're spoilered about her backstory and her being forced back into Galactic.

    Comic Books 
  • The cover for 100 Bullets volume 11 gives away the volume's big twist death, that being Wylie "The Point Man" Times, one of the few genuinely moral characters in the story.
  • The cover for the Italian fumetti comic Anima by Serpieri spoils the last-page reveal that the main character is actually Druuna in a blonde wig.
  • In Annihilation: Conquest, the fact that the Phalanx is actually being lead by Ultron comes as a big Plot Twist... But not to those who first read the omnibus edition, as Ultron is the only character shown on the cover.
  • Blake and Mortimer: The Curse Of The Thirty Denarii (Volume 1) has a cover which is the last panel of the book (and a cliffhanger).
  • Concrete: Not just the covers, but the back covers of the previous issue often spoiled the next story as well.
    • The cover to In the Glare of the Lights shows Concrete with his leg blown off.
    • The cover of A Remarkable Life spoiled the introduction of Concrete's root-like horns, while the back of the previous issue spoiled both his horns and emaciated appearance, which was treated as a big reveal in the story.
    • Volume 7: The Human Dilemma has a more minor example, where the caption on the cover mentions a "virgin birth". This leads readers to immediately guess what sort of mysterious biological process is taking place in Concrete's body, lessening the shock that should have been felt when the developing infant was finally revealed.
  • The penultimate issue of Final Crisis ends with a shocking scene where Batman has (seemingly) died, and Superman is carrying his charred corpse. Said scene is depicted on the cover of the hardcover book collecting the series.
  • The cover for Gravity Falls: Lost Legends, released two years after the end of the animated series, prominently displays the Author of the Journals, whose identity was one of the biggest mysteries of the show and wasn't revealed until halfway through the final season.
  • The now famous cover of Green Lantern 85 shows Green Lantern and Green Arrow discovering that Speedy, the latter's sidekick, has become a drugs junkie. When they meet him in the comic itself with a pack of junkies they assume he is merely investigating them under cover, and it's not revealed that he's actually one of them until the last few panels of the issue.
  • The cover to an issue of Green Lanterns warns the reader to "Beware Liseth!" At that point, though, Liseth hadn't been shown to be anything other than a sweet young idealist. It's not until four issues later that she reveals herself to a murderous Absolute Xenophobe.
  • A large plot point of Infinity War is that the heroes fighting the Magus have no idea what his end goal actually is. Both the heroes and the reader are meant to be surprised by the revelation. But if you glance at the back cover of the trade paperback, you'll find out instantly.
  • In Jughead #9, the girl in the burger costume is revealed to be Sabrina Spellman. This would have been a surprise had she not appeared on the cover.
  • Papyrus: Many of them, such as the appearance of the Minotaur, Papyrus and Theti-Cheri being together.
  • Robin: The "new" vigilante dressed as Spoiler is revealed as a returned from the dead Stephanie rather than a new player in the mask on the cover of the issue that tries to dramatically reveal this. The cover is a close-up of Spoiler peeling off her mask while looking at the viewer.
  • The "Things Are BOOMING in Coast City!" cover for Superman Vol. 2 #86 gives away a major turning point in Reign of the Supermen (I.E. Coast City being destroyed and the Cyborg Superman blowing a hole in the Last Son of Krypton's chest).
  • Thorgal: City of the Lost God clearly shows the death of a character in the hero's arms.
  • For those who have read the comic enough, the cover of The Walking Dead's Compendium One has quite a few spoilers in the illustrations on the cover.
  • Welcome to Hoxford's cover features a werewolf standing behind the main character - except the fact that there are werewolves in the setting is a first-issue Plot Twist.
  • Issue # 18 of The Wicked + The Divine has Persephone on the cover, despite the fact that seven issues earlier seemingly showed protagonist Laura becoming her and then her immediate death as a Shocking Swerve.
  • Yoko Tsuno: The Servant of Lucifer. Think this adventure is another Time Travel in the Dark Ages? Nope, it's about Vineans since they're on the cover along with robotic dragons.

    Film — Animation 
  • The cover for Antz shows New York's skyscrapers in the background. The film's location is not revealed until the end, which reveals that the grand adventure took place in a tiny patch in Central Park.
  • Most posters and covers for The Aristocats spoil the ending where Thomas decides to stay with Duchess and her family.
  • One of the Brave posters shows Mor'du, the antagonist, in the background, right next the rock which will crush him at the end of the movie.
  • One poster for Coco shows the entire Rivera family, with the spirits of their dead relatives in the background. Héctor is included among them, while Ernesto is not. This spoils the film's big reveal.
  • Most covers of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children features Sephiroth, who "unexpectedly" returns during the climax. Then again, director Tetsuya Nomura had stated that the entire reason of the movie was to set up for another Cloud vs. Sephiroth duel, so of course Square Enix will make that an advertisement point.
  • Screenshots on the back of the standard Finding Dory DVD case show the otters cuddling on the highway overpass and, egregiously, all the new characters introduced in the movie (i.e. Destiny and Bailey, Hank, Dory's parents) living on the reef after leaving the Marine Life Institute.
  • The DVD cover for How to Train Your Dragon not only shows Hiccup riding Toothless, but Astrid riding her new dragon as well. Astrid and the other young vikings didn't ride dragons until the Big Damn Heroes moment in the film's climax.
  • The splash art on the back of the standard DVD case for The LEGO Movie shows the very last shot of the movie. (Namely, everyone (including Lord Business, who had recently made a Heel–Face Turn) reacting in shock to the invading Duplo aliens.) It's out-of-context on a first time viewing, but the fact that Mr. Business is also on there is rather suspect.
  • One of the shots shown on the back of the box of The Princess and the Frog shows Tiana and Naveen getting married, both as humans. Naturally, this is taken from the very end of the film, and spoils a very last-minute twist as 5 minutes before the end of the film, the two think there's no way to go back and decide to stay frogs.
  • The DVD cover for The Sponge Bob Movie Sponge Out Of Water clearly shows Plankton as Plank-Ton.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Airheads's poster straight-up states that the eponymous band members get arrested and go to jail.
  • The Amazing Spider Man 2, as if the movie wasn't messy enough shows Dane DeHaan's Harry Osbourne as the Green Goblin on the poster along with the rest of the villains.
    • Then again, the other Spider-Man movies showed who the villain was by reflecting them in Spidey's eye.
  • Audition disguises itself as a love story for its first half before its descent into horror, but its DVD cover prominently displaying its "love interest" playing with Razor Wire and syringes completely ruins the Genre Shift surprise.
  • One of the sketches in the movie Bad People involves a couple being interviewed by a social worker to see if they're eligible to adopt a child. The movie's poster shows an image of the social worker tied up with a strip of duct tape across her mouth, spoiling the ending, where the couple kidnap her after the interview goes horribly wrong.
  • Carrie, Every. Single. Bloody. Poster... sure it's terrifying and iconic moment, but that's not a free pass to spoil it on every goddamn cover.
  • The Cabin in the Woods: most posters and covers of this movie are smart showing the titular cabin like it's a Rubik's Cube and insinuating there's something not quite right in this similar setting. The Japanese cover, on the other hand, just decided to give the game away.
  • The Blu-ray and DVD releases of Captain America: The Winter Soldier show the Winter Soldier unmasked right on the back cover, showing that he's Bucky Barnes. This is hardly a revelation to comic fans, but might still come as a surprise to viewers who hadn't read the source material.
  • The original poster for Clonus gives away the reveal that the titular community breeds clones as organ farms. Fortunately, at least one DVD release replaces it simply with a stylized logo.
  • The VHS cover of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978) has a picture on the spine of one of the main characters dead and zombified, an event that occurs about ten minutes from the end.
  • Deep Impact infamously shows its ending on the poster.
  • The poster for the movie Free Willy (1993) pretty much tells you how it's going to turn out.
  • The most common poster for Gallipoli depicted the protagonist's pointless death in battle at the end. Mitigated in Australia in that audiences there knew it was a Foregone Conclusion considering the subject matter.
  • The back cover for The Good Son VHS shows Henry and Mark dangling from the cliff as Susan holds onto them.
  • High Tension has the big and hard to believe reveal that The Hero is actually the Serial Killer and while the movie does it's best to hide the twist the posters didn't share this idea.
  • Both the DVD and VHS cover art for The Hudsucker Proxy spoil one of the funniest jokes in the movie.
  • Lone Survivor is about a crack team of Navy Seals fighting the Taliban but are overwhelmed and gradually reduced to one survivor... I wonder who that will be? Oh it's Mark Wahlberg nevermind.
  • Mad Max: In video releases, the packaging revealed that Max's family are killed in the first film, and the fuel was in the bus, not the tanker in the second film. Both events happen late in the films.
  • The poster and box art for The Mansion shows the cast as human heads mounted on a wall. Most of them show up in this scenario as part of a dying hallucination by the killer.
  • The Night Flier: Seeing how it's on the front cover, The Reveal of Dwight's face hardly comes as a surprise to anyone but Dees.
  • Phone Booth's poster throws subtly out the window and shows Kiefer Sullivan in suspect position right next the main character's head.
  • There were videotape covers for Planet of the Apes (1968) showing the Statue of Liberty on the cover, spoiling the surprise that Taylor was on Earth the whole time and not another solar system. This instance overlaps with Late-Arrival Spoiler, since only recent VHS and DVD covers spoil the Earth All Along ending; the theatrical posters just focused on the 'ape oppressing man' theme.
  • Quarantine, pretty much shows the Downer Ending right for everyone to see.
  • The poster for The Quiet Earth outright spoils the Mind Screw ending of the protagonist being transported to an alien moon (of Saturn?).
  • The VHS cover and poster for Short Time pretty much resolve the whole "is he dead?!" aspect of the climax before you even see the opening credits.
  • Some DVD covers for The Sixth Sense shows a ghostly looking Bruce Willis.
  • The Ghanian poster for Starship Troopers spoils the fact that Zander ends up getting his brains sucked out of his skull by the Brain Bug.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Empire Strikes Back: The poster for the original release (also used for the cover of the Novelization), shows Han and Leia in a romantic clinch. This was a major spoiler in 1980 considering that up until that point the franchise had heavily promoted Luke and Leia as the main romantic pairing in not only the first film, but the first sequel novel and the comics as well; literally no one saw a Han and Leia romance being established.
    • While not a major spoiler, the back cover of the Blu-ray release of The Force Awakens shows the appearance of Luke Skywalker, who is not revealed until the final scene of the film.
  • Terminator
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day, most covers will just show Arnie iconic on a motorbike and that led most audiences into believing he is the villain like the first movie. the Japanese cover on the other hand shows T-1000 in all his metallic glory and a common American cover shows Arnie in front of Sarah and John holding out a protective arm while Robert Patrick looks on evilly in the background, this along with a spoiling trailer makes it hard to miss the The Reveal that Arnie is actually the hero in this one.
    • Terminator Genisys is much, much worse when it comes to spoils as not only did the second trailer reveal John Connor is actually a Terminator, but the poster displayed it shamelessly.
  • The Thirteenth Floor: The poster spoils the major reveal of the film, namely that the main character and everyone he knows are living Inside a Computer System.
  • A few posters for Tragedy Girls, as well as the DVD cover, depict the girls burning down the gym with the entire senior class inside. This is one of the final scenes of the film.
  • The poster for What We Become shows a zombified Maj.
  • White God: The poster/DVD cover shows the final scene of the film.
  • One poster for White Nights tells us that the two characters set up as antagonists at the beginning will eventually risk their lives for each other and friendship. Quote: "Two men. Not soldiers. Not heroes. Just dancers. Willing to risk their lives for freedom and each other."
  • Although the trailer for World's Greatest Dad presents the film as a standard disconnected father/uninterested son plot, the first words on the back cover are: After his son dies in an embarrassing accident...
  • The box art for You Only Live Twice prominently shows the full likeness of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, which is shown in that movie for the first time. It isn't exactly a major plot twist, but it doesn't seem appropriate for a villain who famously spent at least two a half movies with his face just off-camera.

    Literature 
  • Throughout nearly all of the fourth Alex Rider novel, Eagle Strike, Alex is aware that the Big Bad, Damian Cray, is planning the titular operation. However, he has no idea what it is, what it entails or even what Cray hopes to achieve with it. The first front cover features a picture of a nuclear missile being launched, accompanied by the tagline "Alex Rider has 90 minutes to save the world", which rather gives the game away as to what Eagle Strike is but does at least preserve some mystery as to how Cray hopes to get access to nuclear missiles. The cover of later printings uses a picture of the United States presidential seal, leaving little mystery whatsoever.
  • The cover of Astounding Science Fiction (Oct. 1945) gave away The Reveal that in its lead story, A. Bertram Chandler's "Giant Killer", the "Giants" are human astronauts and the warring tribes are mutated rats.
  • The cover illustration for at least one edition of Childhood's End spoils what the Overlords (aliens) look like, which is supposed to be a source of tension for a good one third of the book.
  • Discworld:
    • On the Harper-Torch edition of Guards! Guards!, the cover art depicts the dragon wearing a crown, which is a surprise plot development occurring late in the book.
    • The cover of The Wee Free Men shows Feegles armed with glowing swords around the Toad. Feegles' swords glow in the presence of a lawyer.
    • The Josh Kirby cover of Small Gods deserves some sort of price for showing the climax of the novel: Brutha is about to be roasted alive on the iron turtle when the Great God Om manifests and saves him.
  • Author Gareth Roberts was amused that his Doctor Who Missing Adventures novel The Romance of Crime, in fine Doctor Who tradition, had a back cover blurb teasing "Which old enemies of the Doctor are aboard the unmarked spaceship making its way towards the Rock?" and a front cover with a picture of an Ogron.
  • The original cover for A Dog's Purpose shows Buddy. Buddy is the protagonist's final reincarnation and doesn't pop up until the end of the book. The redone cover uses Bailey, the second reincarnation, instead.
  • John Dickson Carr's Dr. Gideon Fell mystery novels:
    • The cover of the HarperCollins printing of The Case Of The Constant Suicides features a dog carrier with strange fumes rising out of it. This essentially gives away the murder method used in the book — a block of dry ice hidden in a dog carrier that releases carbon dioxide gas as it sublimates.
    • At least two covers of To Wake The Dead show a man in uniform at the climactic cemetery fight. One shows a man in uniform with a helmet.
  • The cover of the Polish edition of The Expedition into Inferno (written by Arkady Strugatsky under a pseudonym) depicts one of the characters, the two-headed pirate, taking off his eyepatch to reveal a machine gun beneath. In the book itself, the reveal of the gun comes near the very end as a surprise (a Deus ex Machina to kill the villain, but it's a spoiler all the same.)
  • The UK cover for the Goosebumps book "Piano Lessons Can Be Murder" shows a picture of Mr. Shreek, the new piano teacher...with part of his human face gone, revealing a robot underneath. This is as much a spoiler cover as it is a misleading one, the latter of which the series is quite notorious for; while Shreek is revealed to be a robot in the story's climax, he never loses human flesh.
  • The cat on Guardian Cats And The Lost Books Of Alexandria is not the protagonist Marco (an orange tabby) or his mentor Cicero (who is spotted). It's actually Bait, though this isn't noticeable until a late chapter describes him as having yellow eyes (instead of the standard green eyes of a Russian Blue). This coved signifies that Bait isn't just another side character. He's actually Cicero's previous student and failed successor. Bait is bitter over being barred from what he thinks should be is, so he turns traitorous and becomes the second major antagonist.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Many covers of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets spoil the fact that the monster is a giant snake, which Harry doesn't find out until quite late in the book. The cover of the original American edition also shows Harry, Ron, and Ginny Weasley flying through the Chamber—with Hermione nowhere to be seen—giving away the fact that Hermione falls victim to the basilisk and spends the last part of the story petrified.
    • The American cover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows shows Harry and Voldemort personally dueling on the grounds of Hogwarts as the sun rises in the background, giving away the fact that Harry comes back from the dead after Voldemort manages to kill him the previous night. Once you've read the book, it's also pretty clear that the cover depicts Harry grabbing Voldemort's wand, giving away how he defeats him.
  • Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth novel Cachalot is set on a world almost entirely covered by ocean, a planet to which all terrestrial cetaceans have been transplanted after they've been administered a serum which makes them as intelligent as, or more intelligent, than humans. The plot opens with the mysterious destruction of several human habitats and the arrival of a team of specialist investigators who attempt to discover what has happened. Possible candidates are the highly intelligent but aloof toothed whales, the dumb but inoffensive baleen whales, or some indigenous but unknown form of life. Except... the cover of the first UK paperback edition clearly showed a bunch of baleen whales smashing up a town. Cheers, cover artist.
  • Nightmare Hour: The illustration for "Alien Candy" gives away the twist that the kids of the sci-fi club are really aliens.
  • Realm of the Elderlings:
    • Many editions of Assassin's Quest, the third book in The Farseer Trilogy (the first part of the series) feature pictures of one of the Dragons, which appear towards the end of the book. The only problem being that the possibility Dragons might exist in the story's universe isn't even hinted at until over halfway into the third book, well over 1,500 pages into the series. Said hint is so vague and throwaway that the Dragons' eventual appearance right at the end would have come as a complete surprise if one were merely reading the text: although the series has magical elements they are fairly subtle and downplayed and there is nothing to suggest that a fantasy staple like Dragons are around the corner. As it is, depending on whether you see the cover of the third book before you start reading the series, you're expecting them from the very start.
    • Dragons end up playing such a significant role in the later parts of the series - featuring in the actual titles of four books - that for many coming to the series for the first time now this will be It Was His Sled, but this would have been irritating back in 1997.
  • Safehold: Book 7, Like a Mighty Army, prominently features Walking Spoiler new character Nimue Chwaeriau in the cover artwork. And the context doesn't make it at all difficult to deduce her identity.
  • The first paperback edition of Stephen King's Salem’s Lot gave away the twist that the eponymous town is infested by vampires, something that isn't revealed until about a third of the way into the novel.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • The cover of Lost Stars depicts what will for a first-time reader likely be a generic franchise-related image of a Star Destroyer falling towards a planet. By the time of the novel's climax, set during the Battle of Jakku, the meaning of the cover will be far more clear: namely, that the Star Destroyer protagonist Ciena has been given command of will crash on Jakku, becoming the wrecked one from The Force Awakens.
    • Ahsoka shows the protagonist wielding her white lightsabers on the cover, when the last time she was seen in The Clone Wars, she still had her green and yellow pair. And, yes, she does build the white lightsabers in the book.
  • Star Wars Legends: Shadow Games is adorned with a cover depicting Dash Rendar running down a corridor with the logos of the Empire and the Rebellion on either side of him. Not until near the end of the book is it revealed that the conflict, which seemingly has nothing to do with the Empire and Rebels, has actually been about them all along.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The cover of Words of Radiance shows Kaladin about to face Szeth, with an Everstorm brewing behind them. While readers of the previous book The Way of Kings probably expected something like this to happen, there are moments within this book that play with the possibility of this outcome.
  • The original cover of Tailchaser's Song features Tailchaser alongside a pure white cat and a black cat with a spotted underbelly and red claws. These two characters aren't relevant until late into the book. One is Whitewind, who only briefly appears in the intro and doesn't become important until Pouncequick meets him near the end, and the other is Scratchnail, a villain who doesn't appear until over halfway through the book.
  • In The Rings of Saturn (part of the CYOA Time Machine Series), the plot of the book is finding out the source of mysterious signals from Saturn. At the end, it turns out it was a crashed alien spaceship. The pilot is still living in suspended animation and the protagonist wakes him up. Except the cover for the book shows the alien in all his glory, though, admittedly, until the end you're likely to not realize that it was something from the actual book and not just a random, sci-fi themed picture.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6 DVD has Dark Willow on the cover, and, even more inexplicably, on the first disc.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The video and DVD covers of "The Face of Evil" feature the gigantic stone carving of the eponymous face. However, the reveal that the face was that of the Doctor was the dramatic cliffhanger of one episode.
    • In a second-order example, the issue of the Radio Times covering the week that "Evolution of the Daleks" was broadcast had the human-Dalek hybrid version of Dalek Sec on the cover, despite being published before the previous episode, to which the reveal of the character's alteration was the cliffhanger, was broadcast. Russell T. Davies said following the controversy that he didn't mind.
  • In the 4th season of House the big question is "Who will be in House's new team?", with three new doctors chosen halfway through the season. The British along with the North American DVD release shows the three doctors who make the cut on the back cover. The Polish DVD release features them on the front cover.
  • Roswell: The third season DVD spoils Alex's death on the back of the box, even though it doesn't happen until midway through the second season.
  • Six Feet Under went through this on the DVD sleeve example in the UK - the final series' boxset not only shows a wedding photo of Nate and Brenda on the back, but the entire cast at a funeral with Nate conspicuously missing.
  • Storm of the Century: There are covers which show Linoge in his real form as an ancient wizard in a robe, which wasn't revealed until the end of the miniseries.

    Video Games 
  • Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book: If you have looked at the cover of the boxed game (or browsed DLC for the digital version) then you will know that the talking book Plachta acquires a human form. They do at least remain silent about how and when.
  • Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive cover spoils that the initial Big Bad becomes one of the protagonists. Five of the six playable characters are displayed on the cover art. Including Pablo Sanchez, the Disc-One Final Boss. He is initially presented as the Big Bad, finding him then bringing him to justice fills the game's first half. It is only after this point that the game reveals that both Sanchez and Cooper have been Unwitting Pawns to the true villains' plot. Then, Sanchez join Cooper's gang and becomes a regular party member.
  • In Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, Flonne is supposed to appear pretty late in the story — as an archangel, no less — but you can see her in her angelic glory the opening. Heck, she's clearly right there in the box art!
  • For the European version of Final Fantasy VII, a screenshot from the FMV immediately following Aerith's death scene (which shows Cloud laying her body in a pool) is on the back of the game case. It's not obvious enough to be a direct spoiler, but it does give a big hint.
  • The front cover of the PAL version for Jak 3: Wastelander spoils the twist and reveal that Erol isn't dead from his accident from the previous game. You can see his face in the top left corner with his half metal face which also spoils the reveal that he's now a cyborg.
    • Meanwhile the back cover of the US version shows the Terraformer AKA the giant Dark Maker robot that Erol pilots as the final boss!
  • One of images on Heavy Weapon's boxart shows Romanov Attack Satellites and Barskov Munitions Blimps in Petrovakia (the third stage), while the player is using a whole slew of powered-up weaponry. You don't fight those enemies or get that many powerups the first time you get there.
  • Both the American and Japanese covers of the Wii U remaster of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess shows both Ganondorf, who hijacks Zant toward the end, and Midna's true form (the latter was also on promotional art for the original release). Frustratingly, it doesn't even show Zant himself.
  • The back of the box of the original Metal Gear Solid shows a screenshot with Meryl's codec number. This is subverted though, as when it's time to contact her, checking the back of the box is the only way to find it.
  • A slightly different example, a spoiler title screen. Prehistoric Isle's title screen shows a big dinosaur that actually appears very late in the game... as the final boss.
  • The box art of the Nintendo DS Updated Re-release of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All (the first version released outside Japan) shows Miles Edgeworth, the prosecutor from the first game who is assumed to have committed suicide until he shows up in the final case.
  • The boxart of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity features all the members of game's exploration team in formation together... along with Hydreigon, who's almost immediately introduced as an antagonistic Pokemon. No guesses as to who ends up actually being a good guy.
  • The Japanese boxart for Sands of Destruction shows all the main characters lined up, facing the same direction as if they are a team, despite Naja being antagonistic. Naturally, he joins your party later.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV attempts to play up the discovery of Tokyo as a Wham Episode, but anyone who's checked out the back-of-the-box art will already know of its existence. Although, why Tokyo exists in what is apparently the 15th century is another story altogether.
    • Persona 4 and Persona 5 freely show the entire party on their box art. Most notable is Akechi on 5's cover - him joining the Phantom Thieves is presented as a major twist in the game proper.
    • In Persona 4: Arena the cover gives away that Labrys is a robot—however this only really applies to North American and European audiences: she had been introduced on an audio drama that was never exported out of Japan.
  • The European cover of Solatorobo promises that players will "pilot a robot and uncover the mysterious origins of the world". For a good majority of the story there's no indication the world has a "mysterious origin" at all. Also, looking closely at the logo shows an image of Red's human form, though anyone who hasn't played the game won't realize what it is.
  • Starship Titanic had a strange twist on this: one particular puzzle, in the Music Room, can be easily solved by looking at the back of the game box, where the screenshot of that room shows the puzzle completed. However, this isn't a spoiler... it's the correct, and only, way to complete the puzzle.
  • System Shock 2 wants the presence of SHODAN, the first game's villain, to be a surprise, and her reveal is often cited as one of the best twists in gaming. So what did they do for the cover? Made her enormous face the centerpiece of the image.
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus not only spoils BJ's survival from the Taking You with Me alongside Deathshead, but the cover itself is a spoiler that BJ's new body is that of an Ubersoldat.
  • The collector's edition boxart of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 features Morag, Vandham, and Zeke alongside Rex, Nia, and Tora which hints that despite their initially antagonistic appearances, they end up becoming a part of the gang down the line.

    Western Animation 
  • The Legend of Korra: The destruction of Republic City and a creation of a new spirit portal in said city are one of the last things to happen in the entire series, but are clearly shown behind Korra on the Book 4 DVD package.
  • The DVD cover for Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars blatantly shows off Darth Ferb, who doesn't appear until the final act.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • The season 2 DVD cover prominently features Ahsoka Tano, who was revealed as the true identity of the mysterious informant Fulcrum in the penultimate scene of the season 1 finale.
    • The season 3 DVD cover has Darth Maul, who made a surprise appearance on the show in the season 2 finale.
  • Discussed in Steven Universe: Pearl points out that it was obvious the janitor in Lonely Blade IV was important because he's in the background of every fight scene and is included on the cover art.

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