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Teaser-Only Character

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At the beginning of many shows — most commonly in Police Procedural or Monster of the Week shows — a nameless generic character or two, often a Disposable Vagrant or jogger, will wander around some deserted location, frequently either on a date or up to hijinks, and then one of three things will happen:

a) They will come across a horribly mutilated corpse.

b) One or more of them will be brutally killed.


c) They will narrowly avoid being killed.

This typically only lasts about a minute, or even a matter of seconds, before we cut to the show's characters, who have come in to investigate the death, deaths or deadly threat. The character/s from The Teaser have almost no involvement from this point on; they might be asked one or two questions, but they're just as likely to get nothing but a brief mention ("A couple of kids found her three hours ago", etc) and that'll be it for them.

Obviously this doesn't apply to characters who die in some mysterious semi-obscure way in the opening seconds of a show, then go on to be the subject of inquiry, flashbacks and a thorough autopsy.

Compare Decoy Protagonist, where the initial character is teased as the protagonist. See also Start to Corpse.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Ooku, the entire plot opens with a little boy wandering in the forest and getting mauled by a bear. Then his family was infected by the Red Pox disease, the aftermath of which resulted in the storyline's setting.

    Comic Books 


    Film — Live-Action 
  • Tucker & Dale vs. Evil has a cold open in which a TV news reporter and her cameraman are murdered by a disfigured slasher. This is never returned to again but the events in the film reveal that it actually happened after them, and it indicates that the film's villain survived his apparent death and became a classic slasher.
  • The Gravedancers opens with a young woman being attacked by an invisible assailant and then hanged, dropping a mysterious black envelope. Then the screen goes black and a 'One Year Later' caption appears before the screen fades in on Crescent View Cemetery. The woman is never referenced again. The black envelope does appear, however.
  • The blonde woman being chased through the Parking Garage in The Teaser of Fear, Inc. Given what is later revealed about Fear, Inc., it is not surprising she is never heard from again.
  • Jenta, the Pursued Protagonist who steps in a Bear Trap in the opening scene of Rovdyr.
  • Diane, the captain of the cheer squad, is stalked and killed in pre-title sequence of Varsity Blood. She does not appear in the rest of the movie, although other characters do note her absence and wonder where she has gone.
  • The sailor and his bride killed by Railroad Jack in the pre-title sequence of Jack the Reaper.
  • John's uncle who dies in the opening scene of Pig Hunt; killed by the killer boar.
  • Douglas Winter (Richar Grieco) and his family in the pre-title sequence of Art of the Dead who show what happened to the last person to assemble all seven paintings in one place.
  • Jill, the sexy coed Professor Kapps kills to serve as a Human Sacrifice in the opening scene of The Hazing.
  • The two unfortunates who are chased and killed during the opening credits of Hoboken Hollow.

  • Devil's Gate:
    • Subverted with Hudson Wallace: he appears in the prologue in 1951, and crashes his plane. Later we learn that he survived, and see him again as an old man in the epilogue.
    • Played straight with Captain Heinrich Nordegrun who is burned alive by the Death Ray in chapter 2.
  • In a rare literary example, every narrator of the various prologues and epilogues in A Song of Ice and Fire have ended up dead by the end of that book, often by the end of the scene. But then, so does almost everybody else.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Almost every episode of Bones starts with this character stumbling over a corpse.
  • Nearly ubiquitous in the revived Doctor Who. If the episode isn't part of a multi-part serial, this will happen (and the character almost always dies horribly). And some of the multi-part stories use this as well.
  • Game of Thrones: The show's sole Cold Open in the pilot episode features three rangers of the Night's Watch, Will, Gared and Waymar Royce, heading out beyond the great wall of ice that seperates the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros from the lands beyond. Two of them are soon killed by undead monsters and the third flees, who is later caught by Eddard Stark's men and executed as a deserter.
  • House has them almost every episode, with the audience spending most of the teasers guessing who will be the patient and who will be this.
  • Most of the characters at the begining of most episodes of New York Undercover.
  • Neatly parodied in Police Squad!, where every episode had a guest star who was killed while their name was being announced in the credits.
  • Probe's "Computer Logic": The man who was being chased in the first episode's teaser dies near Austin's warehouse.
  • This happens in almost every episode of Supernatural, starting in the pilot where we are introduced to the boys' mother only to have her burned alive before the opening credits. After that, the majority of episodes have a teaser where some poor soul is dispatched by the Monster of the Week. This is often a sign that it will be a monster-of-the-week episode but not always. The Myth Arc-heavy episode ''Are You There God, It's Dean Winchester?" begins with the death of a hunter named Olivia but turns out to be pivotal in setting up the season's mythology.
  • Very common in The X-Files, particularly the stand-alone episodes. The Teaser-Only Characters rarely survived the experience, and were often referred to as the Victim (or Victims) of the Week.

  • Aramir from Elemental Doom. On his second night he found a sickly red substance that he gave a taste test to, and later he exploded into a red sludge.


    Western Animation 
  • Justice League:
    • The episode "Darkheart" opens like this, with a couple of rock climbers scaling a plateau, before finding alien nanobot things. It cuts away immediately. One of them is seen answering General Eiling's questions as the League arrives. As for the other, well; the teaser ends with the aforementioned partner finding their empty boot before the camera reveals the growing nanotech mass, so draw your own conclusions.
    • Amusingly played with in an episode which begins with a team of workers on an oil rig in the desert, then there's an explosion... and the frame freezes and zooms out, revealed to be a presentation put on by a Corrupt Corporate Executive.
    • "Eclipsed" opens with a military unit hunting a warlord named Fessan. They get a few minutes of screentime before one of them gets possessed by the Villain of the Week and kills them all.
  • Leland Turbo from Cars 2.
  • Used from time to time in episodes of Scooby-Doo, especially in its later years.


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