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Trailers Always Spoil

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They also show you the best lines.

"Oh, yeah, I'm sure he's really gone. That's why the advertisements show him in about TWENTY more scenes that he wasn't in yet."

Movie trailers are known to mislead, but sometimes they go in the opposite direction, giving away key plot points and twists (and sometimes what would have been a twist ending).

Of course, some of this depends on your definition of "Spoiler". Given that a trailer consists mostly of clips from the movie itself, a fair bit of spoilerage, in this case footage from a later part in the movie, is often inevitable.

There is also the matter of context. An action movie, for example, may preview a random fight scene between two characters, but when you actually see the movie itself and realize that the other dude the hero was fighting happened to be his best friend in the beginning (which may or may not have also been part of that trailer), you realize in retrospect that the trailer's fight scene was actually a foreshadowing or Chekhov's Gun about the betrayal that occurs later.

When a certain event is a foregone conclusion, like with The Film of the Book or films Based on a True Story, it's again debatable that it's really a spoiler. So if you read the examples below from a movie you haven't seen (either you have no intention of seeing it, or maybe you should reconsider continuing past this part), and find yourself thinking "I didn't even know that was a spoiler", don't worry about it.

It should also be noted that in many cases, commercials released after a film's first week or so will contain a lot more spoilers than those leading up to the premiere.

A related phenomenon can occur with DVD menu intro screens, which often include clips or montages of footage from the movie/episodes, thus potentially revealing them to the viewer out of context, before they have a chance to actually start playing the film proper. Often these will give away major plot points before the viewer has a chance to even start the film. These can be even more effective at spoiling the film's plot than trailers, since a viewer might plausibly be expected to go days between seeing a trailer and finally seeing the related movie, which might give them a chance to forget things from the trailer. With menu intro screens, on the other hand, the viewer is being shown clips from something that they are moments away from watching.

Also related are the trailers which run immediately previous to the show you have already sat down to watch. Known as a Precap and often starting with "Next, on X:", these segments spoil you on things you would just know in the next 30-60 minutes on a show you have already decided to watch. These are intended to pull in the new viewer, but can seem unfair to those already into a show as you are most likely to be already watching at the beginning of the episode.

In comic books, solicitations of future issues can spoil not only the current story line but future ones as well. It's easy for readers to deduce which characters that will live or die, new characters that will be introduced, and major events that will happen simply by looking at covers and descriptions for issues a couple month down the line. A common way publishers get around this is to have the solicitations be as vague as possible and have advertised covers be incomplete, edited to remove potential spoilers, or be a variant to the main cover. However, it's not uncommon for publishers to purposely leak major plot points of their big event comics in order to generate interest for the book.

Fanfic summaries can be especially bad about this. In fanfiction writing, it's conventional to warn the reader beforehand about any plot points they might potentially dislike � such as specific romantic pairings, a major character death, or a tragic ending. This, however, can easily kill off the tension if these are meant to be a surprise. This is however justified by the intense Flame War the writer most probably wants to avoid, and to not have to deal with some vitriolic Ship-to-Ship Combat in the feedback. Also, many fanfic readers prefer to know what they're getting into so as to be able to steer clear of stories featuring a rival pairing.

This trope can lead to Trailer Joke Decay.

Compare Spoiler Opening. Contrast Never Trust a Trailer. See also Late-Arrival Spoiler, Spoiled by the Merchandise, Spoiler Cover, and Spoiler Title (sometimes it's The Namesake).

As this trope concerns spoilers, unmarked spoilers follow in the examples below. You Have Been Warned!

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • The Clone Saga: Marvel announced several months in advance that the Spider-Clone would return with interviews in Wizard magazine and advertisements. During this time, the titles saw a "mysterious drifter" covered in shadows spying on Peter and visiting the graves of Parker's parents. It was obvious that it was the clone but the titles still treated it as some sort of huge mystery even to the point where, when they revealed the clone's face, it was played off as some surprise twist.
  • Marvel tried to keep the plot of the infamous One More Day under wraps, but an interview with J.Michael Strazynski revealed exactly what would happen, who would be involved, and what the outcome would be. Despite this Marvel ran a promotional campaign for the story which gave readers a multitude of options as to who could help Spider-Man in his darkest hour, but thanks to the JMS interview, everyone knew it was Mephisto, they also knew the outcome resulted in the retconning of the Spider-Marriage in the 616 continuity.
  • When Marvel announced that X-23 would be joining the cast of All-New X-Men, they effectively spoiled that she'd survive the events of the then-still running Avengers Arena series, ruining the supposed Anyone Can Die element. The writer of Arena even jokingly acknowledged this at New York Comic-Con.[1]
    • If you can believe it, the same convention also spoiled that Deathlocket, Hazmat, Anachronism, Cammi, and Cullen Bloodstone would survive when Marvel announced the Spiritual Successor, Avengers Undercover.
  • In 2011 Marvel Comics was especially bad about this, saying that now they'll probably kill off a major character every quarter to raise sales:
    • February saw the death of The Human Torch in the conclusion of the "Three" arc in Fantastic Four, the title of which heavily implied one of the titular four dying. While the story's title managed to avert the typical Oh, and X Dies nature of a lot of "The Death of X" stories Marvel ruined any potential surprise by spoiling it to the press the day before the release.
    • Early June saw the death of Bucky Barnes, the second Captain America, in Fear Itself #3 to the surprise of almost nobody as Marvel had already announced that original Captain America Steve Rogers would return to the uniform a month later (due to the movie). The only reason it didn't make any sort of media splash was because DC Comics one upped them the day before by announcing their reboot.
  • Subverted by Immoral X-Men (part of the wider Sins of Sinister event), which was solicited with modified art so that it didn't show Emma Frost with Sinister's red diamond on her forehead. The reveal that Emma (and others) were corrupted by Sinister was the final twist in Immortal X-Men, the series that led into the event.
  • Secret Wars (2015) was marketed on the premise that the Marvel Universe was being Killed Off for Real, and that nobody was sure what new universe would be taking it's place. The subsequent sneak peeks for books like All-New, All-Different Avengers and Invincible Iron Man, coupled with Word of God confirmation that books like Ms. Marvel (2014) would continue, more or less confirmed that the "new" Marvel Universe was essentially the same one as the old one.
    • This was solidified when Marvel released its new line-up of post-Secret Wars books, which spoiled a number of plot points about the ending, such as the Marvel Universe being restored, and characters like Old Man Logan joining the mainstream continuity.
  • In 2013, DC Comics spoiled the death of Damian Wayne, the most recent Robin, days before it actually occurred in Batman Incorporated. This of course gave media outlets ample time to cover the story.
  • After initially teasing it as one of the big mysteries of the All-New Marvel NOW! launch, Marvel informed the New York Times that the new Ms. Marvel would be a Muslim teenager named Kamala Khan.
    • They did the same thing with Miles Morales' identity, which was revealed to mainstream news outlets before the book had even hit stands. The ensuing controversy over a black Spider-Man was covered on everything ranging from Fox News to The Daily Show.
  • In yet another Marvel example, a released script for Mighty Avengers spoiled that the new Ronin was Blade a full eight months before the writer's intended reveal date.
  • A few weeks before Forever Evil (2013) kicked off, DC announced that Trinity War would see the Crime Syndicate of Earth 3 removing the Justice Leagues from the picture & taking over the Earth, with Lex Luthor's alliance of villains fighting back.
  • Marvel basically confirmed that Hunger would end with a Failure Is the Only Option scenario by revealing that their next Crisis Crossover for the Ultimate line, Cataclysm, would see Galactus reaching Earth and beginning his assault. To those unaware, the entire premise of Hunger was that Silver Surfer and Rick Jones were desperately trying to stop Galactus before he could get to Earth.
  • A plot point in Original Sin involved Nick Fury recruiting Black Panther, the Winter Soldier, Gamora, Doctor Strange, Emma Frost, Scott Lang, and The Punisher for a mysterious purpose. Eventually, it was revealed that Fury was dying of old age, and needed one of them to be his successor. Marvel treated the news as The Reveal and made it seem like a serious "Who will Fury choose?!" Cliffhanger, despite the fact that they'd already revealed that Fury's successor would be the Winter Soldier several weeks earlier.
  • The same basic thing happened in Rick Remender's Captain America run. Marvel revealed on The Colbert Report that Sam Wilson would be the new Captain America, yet still treated it like a big secret in-story, and even tried to make it seem like Sam had died pulling a Heroic Sacrifice just before he emerged as the new Cap. This was then lampshaded when Sam was finally unveiled onscreen to his Avengers teammates. He immediately says that there is no drama in this reveal, and that everyone must have known by now that he was going to be the new Cap.
  • The Reveal of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 is that the Pre-Flashpoint Wally West still exists and remembers the previous continuity. Naturally, DC revealed this in official previews and sanctioned reviews about a week before the issue hit stands. However, the reveal was leaked online a few days earlier, so it's unclear if DC would have released said previews and sanctioned those reviews if it weren't.
  • The Vision established a pretty effective Anyone Can Die tone, since Vision's wife and kids are all new characters without any ties to the rest of the Marvel Universe. Marvel spoiled that his daughter, Viv would survive the book when she was confirmed to be part of the new Champions series.
  • This was pretty much averted with Batman: Endgame, as none of the early covers were revealed and all the solicitations just said was that it was an important story and one would have to read the first issue to find out that the Joker was making his post-Death of the Family return.
  • A full three days before the release of the final issue of the controversial Secret Empire mini-series, The New York Times spoiled that the final battle would see the return of the heroic, classic Captain America, who would do battle with his evil, HYDRA-aligned counterpart. While that was already a Foregone Conclusion for the most part, the paper even published the pages showing Good Cap defeating Evil Cap by using Thor's hammer.
  • Heroes Reborn was advertised during Onslaught, revealing well before the Onslaught: Marvel Universe one-shot that concluded the story that Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Bruce Banner personality, Giant-Man, The Wasp, Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, The Vision, The Falcon, the Black Panther, the Sub-Mariner, Crystal of The Inhumans, the Fantastic Four, and Doctor Doom would (seemingly) fall in battle.
  • According to the premiere solicitation for Tom King's Strange Adventures, the fates of Adam Strange and the world would be determined by "a surprise DC hero". Nevermind the fact that the March 2020 solicitations for the Dollar Comics reprint line has a reprint of Swamp Thing #57 that's advertised as being "Offered to coincide with STRANGE ADVENTURES #1".
  • DC Year of the Villain's "Who Are the Infected?" promo revealed that Shazam! was among them. However, the identities can be decoded by noticing who besides Shazam is rubbing their neck, jaws, or even just has their hands up to their face: Hawkman, Troia, ComicBook/BlueBeetle, ComicBook/{{Supergirl}}, and Commissioner Gordon.

    Fan Works 
  • The summary of Thirty Hs is basically a summary of the events of the first few chapters.
  • FanFiction.Net put a massive TRON: Legacy spoiler in their "filter by character" view. This was before the film hit DVD.
  • The short My Little Pony fic MVP is about Twilight Sparkle trying to find out the identity of a hoofball player, and only at the end it is revealed that it was none other than Princess Celestia. Which would be a surprise... if the fic's cover image didn't show this character front and center. Same goes for the fic's tags, which reveal the character's identity right away.
  • In the Total Drama story, Legacy, the brief introduction suggests pretty strongly that the story's "for want of a nail" premise will end badly for a certain character. Sure enough, it does.

  • This trailer for Elisabeth blatantly shows the Mayerling Waltz. (Sisi's death doesn't count, because Lucheni says "I killed her because she wanted to die," some several seconds into the video.) It's not much of a spoiler for German/Austrian audiences, or people familiar with that era, because both the Empress' Impaled with Extreme Prejudice and the Crown Prince's Murder-Suicide is well-known. Outside of that, though, viewers caught unaware (especially those who have issues with viewing gun violence and suicide) are in for a potential shock. The trailer narrator even says,"It's more than a show, it's history."
  • New Broadway shows often fall into this when performing songs during televised events, such as Today or the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Naturally, they'll choose to show off with a big or emotional production number, which may be very late in the show or even the finale. One example: The Prom is about a group of Broadway stars rallying for a high school lesbian couple to attend their prom. The number they usually perform for sneak peeks? The finale where the stars put together an inclusive prom for the school, where the girls proudly dance and have The Big Damn Kiss.
  • A commercial for Cats prominently features the scene where Grizabella ascends to the Heaviside Layer.
  • The website description for the London transfer of Be More Chill outright states that the SQUIP's true goal to Take Over the World.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in The Demented Cartoon Movie, which opens with a mock trailer that does the exact opposite: it doesn't reveal anything about the movie it's advertising because it's heavily censored, and parts of it have been replaced with stuff like [Dialogue Missing] and [Title Missing].
    Why are they all missing?
  • RWBY:
    • In the Black trailer, which serves as an introduction to the character Blake Belladonna, the background music is "From Shadows", a song with lyrics about people suffering Fantastic Racism from humans and planning their revenge. One of the plot points in the series involves the Faunus race being subjected to prejudice by humans (the lyrics in the trailer include "treated like a worthless animal", to make it clear the song is about them). This ends up spoiling, or at least strongly hinting at, the fact that Blake is actually a Faunus disguised as a human, which is a twist revealed in the second-to-last episode of Volume 1.
    • Another example: The Japanese Volume 3 trailer reveals every death and tragedy in the season, which took away much of the impact present in the original release; where everything went to shit with very little warning.
    • Crunchyroll's ads for Volume 4 blatantly spoil the villain that was revealed right at the end of the Volume 3 finale. It also spoils that Ruby, Jaune, Nora, and Ren are traveling together.

  • Parodied with the second trailer for The Way of the Metagamer 2: In Name Only, which intentionally reveals many, many plot twists.
  • The trailer for the Homestuck video game kickstarter was aimed entirely at people who had already read the comic, so it contained spoilers for ALL the major updates as of the time it was made. At least the spoilers were flashing by so fast that new readers missed half of them and didn't know enough to recognize many of the others as spoilery.
  • Persona 4TW Add-On lampshades the fact that the big plot "twist" was given away on the cover:
    Shadow Labrys: Labrys being a robot? Heavens to murgatroyd. What a complete and utter surprise...or it mighta been if it hadn't been given away on the ***ing box art...

    Web Original 
  • The trailer for Channel Awesome's two-year anniversary special Kickassia had Spoony shouting "Oh my gosh! It's 3D Lee!" And the final trailer for their fourth anniversary special To Boldly Flee spoiled The Nostalgia Critic absorbing the Plot Hole.
  • More like "the preview always spoils", unless the YouTube user has found a way to muck with the video thumbnail of a movie, YouTube will default it to the middle of the movie. If it's say, for a race and the course is known, you can tell at least midway who's winning. A variation: if you're going to watch a comedy video, you'd do well to avoid looking at the top comments. They almost always contain the funniest jokes.
  • Parodied by CollegeHumor in the hypothetical "If Movie Trailers Ruined Endings", where the trailer guy goes out of his way to spoil the endings and plot twists. Warning: spoilers for Fight Club, The Usual Suspects, and Reservoir Dogs. Also includes references to Luke, I Am Your Father.
  • Glove and Boots did a similar parody in Please Stop Giving Everything Away, Hollywood!, by showing what a modern trailer for The Empire Strikes Back would look like. Said trailer is essentially just an extended plot summary of the film that ends by spoiling that Han gets rescued in the next installment.
  • After part one of the TableTop episode in which the horror RPG Dread was played, a "next time" trailer manages to spoil every major plot development in part two, rather ruining the tension that had been built up in part one.


Video Example(s):


Jedi Fallen Order Black Friday

Jedi Fallen Order's TV Spot for 2019's Black Friday during Thanksgiving spoils the appearance of Taron Malicos, the double lightsaber, and most infamously, Darth Vader's surprise appearance.

How well does it match the trope?

4.21 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / TrailersAlwaysSpoil

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