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File:R-rated-opening2 7935.jpg

An early scene consisting of mature content used for works of fiction to let the audience know right off the bat that no, this ain't for kids. The R-Rated Opening is primarily for dealing with potential Public Medium Ignorance about genres that are not all filled with family-friendly material, or involve mature "twists" on iconic family-friendly genres/themes such as a Superhero film from The Dark Age of Comic Books, that's based on a Darker and Edgier Deconstruction of your typical cape. Having someone get shot, die, or even just bleed on screen will very clearly let audiences know to expect things to get much, much more serious and give fair warning for any parent who didn't pay attention to the R-rating but saw "cartoony people" in the movie trailer and thought they were taking their kids into some light-hearted fare.

Animated works trying to break out of the Animation Age Ghetto are a popular source for these. An R-Rated Opening can set the mood early by openly subverting standard conventions about the "heavy" material being well into the work and set the tone for the mature territory right where it should be. It can be combined with Mood Whiplash by starting out with a clichéd light-hearted scene the audience has seen a million times from the genre and completely dismembering it figuratively and literally.

Examples of R-Rated Opening include:


Anime and Manga

  • Tokyo getting destroyed nuclear-style in the opening shot, and then the dogs and the spy getting killed in Akira. The spy's death was especially bloody, just to drive home the point that, no, even though it's animated, this is not for kids.
  • This trope was cruelly averted by Barefoot Gen, which starts out pretty normal until the bomb hits. However, that could be also an attempt to get the audience to feel the same way the characters do, as the bomb was unexpected by them as well.
  • The opening of Karin has a large amount of nudity that has nothing to do with what actually happens in the anime.
  • The three thugs getting killed by Guts in the bar scene from Berserk, including one getting slashed in half with his BFS.
    • The manga manages to take its opening Up to Eleven and has Guts, in a totally superfluous non-sequitur, sexing up and killing a female demon just to establish himself as a stone-cold Badass, which the aforementioned bar scene does aptly, without flying in the face of his later characterization.
  • Lucy's rampage through the lab in Elfen Lied definitely qualifies, with bonus points for taking off her straitjacket so she could be completely naked for her killing spree, except for the creepy helmet.
    • Not to mention the nudity throughout the opening theme sequence in each episode.
  • The 2003 anime adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist starts off by showing the transmutation that caused the loss of Edward's leg and Alphonse's body. With copious amounts of blood from Edward's stump.
  • The Your Head Asplode scene from the opening of Ghost in The Shell.
    • To say nothing about the quasi-nudity of the optical camouflage suit.
    • Or the actual nudity in the scene of the Major's body being built.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni starts with Keichi beating Rena and Mion into a pulp with a baseball bat. The opening credits also feature a nontrivial amount of blood, creepy music and visuals, and mild nudity.
    • This is based on the opening of the original Visual Novel, where he gives a monologue with the sound of loud, sickening thwacks in the background before abruptly cutting to him getting ready for school.
  • Shinji helping himself over Asuka's comatose body at the start of End of Evangelion.
  • Black Lagoon shows off guns, Stripperific outfits, and swearing before you even get through the opening song.
  • Quite a few Hentai shows will have an explicit sex act as the first thing the viewer sees. Devil Angel Jiburiru, for instance, has female characters being raped by monsters within the first two minutes of each season's first episode.

  Vixen: WHOA! Anime, you CANNOT have a sex scene in your opening! I mean, that guy was working the kid like he was a Super Soaker! No Way!

  • The opening of Princess Mononoke has an ominous bit of background text superimposed on a dark screen, but for good measure the first scene contains a highly disturbing demonic form assaulting a village, almost eating a child, and eventually getting shot by an arrow in the eye, before melting away into a gigantic skeleton. Needless to say, anyone who brought their young daughter to see the cute anime princess should leave at this point.
  • Sword of the Stranger opens with a hail of arrows ambush by bandits. This succeeds in killing approximately one person and some pack animals, and maybe winging one or two others. And then the Unstoppable Blood Knight Badass of the Badass Crew that comprises the villains of the movie scales a cliff and slaughters 15-20 bandits, throwing their bodies down as he goes. The bandit leader gets taken down by a blade toss. Lastly, he finishes off one unarmed (and missing one arm) bandit who is writhing in pain on the ground as if he were stepping on a bug.
  • The first scene of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is focused on Setsuna's Dark and Troubled Past; it focuses on the future protagonist running through a ruined city filled with bodies, trying in vain to fight a squadron of mobile suits. 0 Gundam does not show its face until the very end of the scene, right before it cuts into the opening.
  • Urotsukidouji aka Legend of the Overfiend begins with a boy masturbating in a ball pit while watching girls in the locker room change; not long afterwards, a demon disguised as a woman rips off a girl's clothes and rapes her. The film itself got rated NC-17, so calling the film R-rated might not do it justice.
  • Blood Plus begins with Saya's bloody rampage through a Vietnamese village--the most violent scene in the entire series.
  • X 1999 The Movie starts with Kamui having a vision of his mother, with full frontal nudity, pulling the BFS out of her stomach with graphic detail and lots of blood.
  • Arashi no Yoru ni begins with Mei's mother biting off a wolf's ear to protect her son, only to have the other wolves rip her apart and kill her, telling Mei to leave her as she is dying.


Comics

  • Gear is a fairly-violent and upsetting Humongous Mecha war-story, but has very cartoony artwork (remniscent of Disney's cartoons in the 1920s). The first issue opens on a noirish interrogation scene that ultiamtely leads to a mafia-syle execution. It uses a Gory Discretion Shot, but it still establishes that, despite the artwork, it's not an all-ages comic.
  • The first issue of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic begins with the turtles fighting and killing a street gang, some of which uses a Gory Discretion Shot.


Film

  • Small Soldiers, about some toy army guys who come to life, was rated PG-13 and had some swearing in the first scene.
  • Children of Men opens with newscasts about the murder of eighteen-year-old 'Baby' Diego, the youngest person alive in a world cursed with total infertility, and brings us into a coffee shop where our hero Theo is getting his wake-up cuppa. Just what a world without children – or hope – is like is made clear less than a minute after he leaves, when the coffee shop explodes: the work of terrorists or the government framing them, no-one knows which.
  • Indie Chinese film The Drummer begins with a pretty long sex scene. The ONLY sex scene in the entire movie which would probably have a lower rating if not for that intoductory scene.
  • Watchmen. The very first scene has a unknown assailant break in to the apartment of a an old man, who is then beaten viciously and thrown out a window where he splatters on the pavement below.
    • Then, in the opening credits we see, amongst other horrors, the Hiroshima bomb dropping, a criminal being punched in the face, sending blood spraying out towards the audience, two lesbians murdered in bed with LESBIAN WHORES written on the walls in blood, a man burning himself alive, and Richard Nixon elected for a third term.
  • Cannibal! The Musical: The name should probably have got you, but in case you're mistaking musicals as always family-friendly, there's the gory murder of an entire crew to start the movie. Then we go to the Oklahoma-like next scene...
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street's R Emake has one character slash his own neck open with a dinner knife before the friggin' title screen shows.
  • In Freddy vs. Jason, we just see the title credits superimposed over a bucket full of blood that gets thrown on the floor.
  • Kick-Ass started with a mentally deranged man jumping off a roof in a superhero costume and promptly falling to his death. The very next scene has the main character masturbating to his English teacher. This was likely put there for the benefit of all the people who saw the trailers of kids in superhero costumes and completely ignored the R-rating.
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral starts with the main character exclaiming "fuck" repeatedly because he's woken up to find he's late for a wedding.
  • The Beast of Yucca Flats begins with a topless woman being killed. The scene was edited for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, however.
  • The first scene in The Dark Knight features a realistic bank robbery where each of the robbers (wearing creepy clown masks) get systematically killed off in the process. The scene ends with a school bus crashing into the bank, killing the penultimate Mook, and The Joker placing a grenade into the bank manager's mouth. Totally kid-friendly.
  • Several of the Alien films:
    • Alien 3 opens with a "facehugger" xenomorph being birthed from an egg, seeking out the main characters and infecting one (or more) of them with a chestburster, while supporting character Hicks' bandages start to bleed. The characters are jettisoned in a lifeboat that crashes on the surface of a planet, and the next thing we see is the sole survivor, Ellen Ripley being brought in while the other three supporting characters are shown in the lifeboat. One's been smashed beyond repair, one has been graphically impaled by a support beam, and a young girl is shown in a death scream after drowning. This all happens in the first five minutes of the film.
    • Alien Resurrection opens with a chestburster being surgically removed from Ellen Ripley's body.
  • The 1989 American Civil War movie Glory begins this way. After a quick letter read by the protagonist, the movie pitches into the battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day in American history. After just a few minutes, in a very short but gory moment, a shrapnel artillery shell explodes in front of a luckless Union commander, causing his head to disintegrate in bloody fragments that splatter on those following behind him. Although plenty of blood and violence remain in the film, none of it reaches the same level as that first scene.
  • The novel The Fellowship of the Ring opens with a happy birthday party in the happy land of happy Hobbits with a happy fireworks show. The Movie of the Book, opening (as it did) right in the heat of Harry Potter fever (and very shortly after the release of the first, much more kid-friendly Potter movie), gives fair warning by opening with a flashback to the fall of Sauron--with thousands of bloodthirsty orc warriors, thousands of scarily kick-ass elves in armor, and one seriously scary great big Dark Lord. Kids, when the Balrog finally shows up, don't say you weren't warned.
  • Pan's Labyrinth seems like a fairly kid-friendly movie, yeah? The story of a Spanish girl, dreaming of a fantasy world that may or may not be real. Pretty cool, right? Well... At the ten-minute mark, we see two people getting killed very explicitly (Grievous Bottley Harm and gunshot, respectively).
  • As shown above, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End starts with a scene with many, many, people being executed, and implies that many might have been somewhat innocent, and ends with a small child, who couldn't even reach the noose, being killed. Even if the first two weren't exactly family friendly and the rest of the film seems fairly tame in comparison with this scene.
  • The 2011 Conan the Barbarian film gives us a unique first view of the character: In the womb...during a C-Section, which starts when his mother is stabbed in the stomach during battle.
  • The 2011 remake of Footloose shows people at a party dancing to the song "Footloose," about 3 years before the main story, but then, we see drunk teens before the end of the song driving, and then a car crash with a truck occurs. And the film was rated PG-13!
  • The opening for Muppet Treasure Island. It's accompanied by an awesomely chilling song about how bastardly the pirates are, and it cuts away just as Captain Flint begins the slaughter of the fourteen pirates who helped him bury the treasure, perfectly timed with this line from the song: "Shiver my timbers, shiver my sails... DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES!"
    • A little later on, Gonzo would hang a lampshade on the general idea with the page quote.
  • Each of the films in the Transformers Film Series have had this type of opening to some degree.
    • Transformers opens with Blackout and Scorponok committing a realistic assault on the army base in Qatar.
    • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opens with The Fallen brutalizing a prehistoric society, followed immediately by a brutal fight in Shanghai that ends with at least one bloody human death and a Decepticon being shot execution-style by Optimus Prime.
    • Transformers: Dark of the Moon opens with the final battle in the war that devastated Cybertron, with many Autobots and Decepticons being killed. The very next shot after that is a Panty Shot of Carly.
  • No Country for Old Men opens with a particularly poignant monologue by its hero, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. A viewer who didn't have any prior knowledge of the film's content might even be swayed into sitting down and watching it, expecting the movie to be a straight drama. After about two minutes, the monologue is over, and we are left to watch Psycho for Hire Anton Chigurh use his handcuffs to strangle a cop to death in a spectacle of Gorn. Any viewer who is still not convinced that this film would be consistently violent would likely resign in the following scene, where Anton uses a bolt gun to punch a hole in a stranger's forehead.


Live Action TV

  • The first episode of HBO's Game of Thrones opens with a party of rangers encountering dismembered corpses, some of which are shortly after seen apparently alive, as the party is ambushed and brutally massacred, leaving only a single survivor as a witness (who is himself later executed for desertion). And that's one of the least disturbing things to happen on that show. (It should be noted that this scene is taken directly from the book.)
  • Possibly one of the reasons David E. Kelley's 2011 Wonder Woman pilot didn't get picked up. The opening scene shows a young high school athlete receiving a college acceptance letter, then promptly collapsing to the floor, bleeding from his eyes and ears. Just what moms with fond memories of watching Lynda Carter's series would want to share with their daughters!


Video Games

  • Dragon Age opens with a quick mythological explanation of the main conflict, followed by a bloody Last Stand by a dwarven army and Duncan killing Darkspawn in a bloody fashion; the Origin stories only get worse from there (fratricide, organized crime, Rape as Drama, being forced to leave your parents behind to be slaughtered by a treacherous friend, having your best friend vanish only to turn up in the middle of the game as a ghoul who begs you to kill him, falling afoul of an oppressive order of Knight Templars, all followed by a flight from certain death). If you had any inkling that this was going to be a remotely family-friendly game, think again.
    • Likewise, the opening. Plenty of blood, cut throats, and trampled bodies.
    • The sequel starts out (immediately after the opening cutscene) showing off the very gory combat engine, including close-up dismemberments; this scene is interrupted in the Framing Device with Cassandra's exclamation of "Bullshit!"
  • Phantom Brave opens with Marona's parents getting killed by a rather creepy looking monster. After that, the opening sections of the game are comparatively lighthearted and look almost kiddy. The darkness doesn't come back into play until later on in the game. Unless you're silly enough to count little things like a greedy mercenary first trying to murder a small child to take her work and pay out from under her, then doing so by framing her for causing the problem she was hired to solve, or virtually the entire world hating said small child because she has powers they don't approve of dark.
  • Arc the Lad 2 starts by showning the main character's people getting slaughtered with machine guns. The rest of the game is even worse
  • The last few moments of Controllable Helplessness in XIII's opening (the game is a Cel Shaded comic adaptation) consist of an innocent woman in a bathing suit being graphically machinegunned to death.
  • The opening of the original Shadow Hearts has the main villain violently killing soldiers with his impish familiars. The main protagonist, Yuri, then proceeds to have a brutal fight with the Big Bad which includes Yuri punching the villain's face in. Ironically, the rest of the game is far from being this violent again.
  • Police Quest: Open Season begins with a half-naked corpse in an alleyway, then a boy's corpse in a nearby dumpster.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon has one despite being E-rated. The first image you see (after choosing your character) is a Sharpedo-shaped rock shown in the most menancing way possible. This is followed by a equally scary storm scene and some Mood Whiplash. Then comes The Drowzee ...
  • Killer 7, within about five minutes of the start, has Dan Smith encounter a hooded man in a blood-splattered hotel. The man turns into a skinless monster, which he shoots in the face, followed by a muttered, "Shit." A couple minutes after that, a woman is blown up from the waist down by another of these monsters.
  • Skyrim opens with the beheading of a Stormcloak. And you are next in line. Also, the cutscene can't be skipped, so you have to watch it every time you create a new character.


Web Comics


Web Original

  • The hosts of Awesomed By Comics Podcast related a completely accidental, but totally hilarious, example when they attended a matinee showing of Yu-Gi-Oh Tenth Anniversary Movie. In a grievous error, the movie theater accidentally ran the film that apparently had been shown the previous night on that particular multiplex scene -- the very R-rated Drive Angry, whose opening minutes are particularly front-loaded with violence and profanity. Apart from the podcast hosts, the audience consisted entirely of children and parents. Hilarity Ensued.


Western Animation

  • Green Lantern First Flight starts with Abin Sur bleeding to death from a stomach wound. It has quite a few dark moments after that.
  • Justice League: The New Frontier opens with the painter/author of the apocalyptic book committing suicide (from a first-person point of view, for bonus viewing pleasure). In case anyone missed the pre-credits opening, the story proper begins with Technical Pacifist Hal Jordon being forced to shoot a man in the face in self-defense and sinking into a blood-splattered Heroic BSOD as the scene fades out.
    • By the way, that man was (an extremely thinly veiled) Dr. Seuss. Just in case him killing himself didn't do it for you.
  • The opening scenes of Watership Down probably served as an inspiration for Happy Tree Friends.
  • Batman: Under the Red Hood opens with The Joker beating Jason Todd with in an inch of his life with a crowbar, mocking him as he lies in a pool of his own blood, and then leaving him to die in an explosion. This film was also rated PG-13.
  • The Spawn animated series starts with a shockingly brutal (and beautifully animated) scene where several people are messily killed, including one guy whose head gets twisted 180 degrees by the title character, another who burns to death in graphic detail, and another whose arm is snapped in half so that he blows his brains out with his own gun.
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm opens with a crook being beat up by Batman, and then being killed by an unrelated figure.
  • The Animatrix is fairly dark and fairly violent throughout, but the very first short starts with an erotic sparring match and the second one is full of gruesome murders and the occasional maiming.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters starts with some singing concessions cheerfully asking you not to expose yourself indecently. And then more food appears and belts out a violent heavy metal song threatening to kill you if you interrupt or redistribute the film.
    • Wait a moment, this is a parody of "Let's All Go to the Lobby," a drive-in movie trailer!
  • The pilot episode of Transformers Prime has Cliffjumper getting beaten up quite badly and then stabbed through the chest within the first 5 minutes. Brought Up to Eleven in the second episode with Megatron slicing his reanimated corpse in half, and Starscream destroying the remains with a bomb. The rest of the show, after the Five Episode Pilot, followed a standard, menace-of-the-week approach, with only Mooks and one-shot Decepticons getting killed on a regular basis.
  • The original animated Transformers movie opens with an entire planet full of robotic life forms getting devoured by Unicron, then follows it up with most of the classic characters getting slaughtered, often quite brutally.
  • The Triplets of Belleville got a PG-13 rating entirely because of the opening scene, which features a topless dancer.
    • This doesn't seem to have been intentional, however -- the creators were French, and in their commentary, seem genuinely surprised and confused that one brief topless scene would be enough to bump up the rating all by itself.
  • The Galaxy Rangers pilot episode, "Phoenix," has about three minutes to set up the general situation - the Foxx family heading to Kirwin, the human-Kiwi collaboration on new agricultural tech...and then the Crown Destroyer shows up and people start getting gunned down right and left.
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