A post-credits scene (also called a tag, stinger, credit cookie, or coda) is a short clip that appears after all or some of the closing credits of a movie or video game have run. It is usually included for humor or to set up a possible sequel.
The use of post-credits scenes may be traced back at least to 1963 with the James Bond film From Russia with Love, which was the first Bond film to show the ubiquitous "James Bond will return in..." at the end of the credits. The 1978 movie Superman also featured a tagline promoting the film's sequel, due out the following year. These were simply text at the end of the credits, and did not include clips or teasers from the upcoming films (However, the original shooting script for Superman featured a post credit scene that featured General Zod, Ursa, and Non being freed from the Phantom Zone following the credits.)
One of the earliest appearances of a true post-credits scene in a mainstream film was in The Muppet Movie in 1979, and use of such scenes gained popularity throughout the 1980s at the end of comedy films. The Muppet Movie also began a trend of using such scenes to break the fourth wall, even when much of the rest of the film had kept it intact. The scenes were often used as a form of metafiction, with characters showing an awareness that they were at the end of a film, and sometimes telling the audience directly to leave the theatre. Films using this technique include Ferris Bueller's Day Off (in which the title character frequently broke the fourth wall during the movie) and the musical remake of The Producers. The post-credits scene in latter movie also includes the film's only cameo appearance of producer Mel Brooks. Post-credits scenes also appeared on the long-running TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000, introduced in episode 205 ("Rocket Attack USA"), continuing until the end of the series. With few exceptions, they highlighted moments from the films that were either particularly nonsensical or had simply caught the Brains' attention.
The Great Train Robbery, a 1903 silent film, ends with the leader of the outlaw band taking aim and firing point blank at the audience (after having been killed in the previous scene).
Modern film examples
Stingers lacking the metafictional aspects also gained prominence in the 1980s, although they were still primarily used for comedy films. Post-credits scenes became useful places for humorous scenes that would not fit in the main body of the film. Most were short clips that served to tie together loose ends — minor characters whose fates were not elaborated on earlier in the movie, or plotlines that were not fully wrapped up. For example, all four Pirates of the Caribbean films include such scenes. At the end of the Disney animated made-for-video film Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, we see Abis Mal asking for his third wish while in its sequel, towards the end of the song "Welcome to the Forty Thieves", which plays over the credits, Genie can be seen squished between the black background and the credits with a bit of dialogue at the very end. During its wide release, Napoleon Dynamite features a stinger that reveals that Kip and LaFawnduh get married. In the film The Cannonball Run, bloopers from the film are shown.
Even when post-credit scenes started to be used by films with little comedy development, the same format of giving closure to incomplete storylines or inconsequential characters remained in use. Using humor in such scenes is also still common for more serious films, as in the film Daredevil, in which Bullseye is shown after his defeat by Daredevil in a full body cast. Other films eschew the comedy in favor of a twist or revelation that would be out of place elsewhere in the movie, as in X-Men: The Last Stand's post-credits scene, where Professor X is shown to be alive. Another example is the stinger at the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets which features a post-memory loss Lockhart. A third example occurs in Young Sherlock Holmes: during the entire credits, Rathe is shown traveling to an Alpine inn, where he signs the register as "Moriarty".
With the rise of pre-planned movie franchises, post-credit scenes have been adopted in order to prepare the audience for upcoming sequels, sometimes going so far as to include a cliffhanger ending where the main film is largely stand-alone. The cinematic release of The Matrix Reloaded demonstrated the sequel set-up use of stingers by featuring the trailer for The Matrix Revolutions.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace includes a stinger-like effect to tie this prequel to the later events of the original Star Wars film and its first sequel. Phantom Menace's end-credit music stylistically morphs into "The Imperial March" (the motif of Darth Vader), and the film concludes with Vader's trademark muffled breathing, both audio elements being quite familiar to fans of the earlier films.
Some films, including Richard Linklater's School of Rock, take the idea of the post-credits scene to its limit by running the credits during the main action of the film. In this example, the characters perform a song in the last minutes of the film, and the credits run inconspicuously until one character sings the line "the movie is over / but we're still on screen".
During the credits of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, there is a scene between Professor Kirke and Lucy Pevensie, in which Kirke tells Lucy that she will return to Narnia, only not through the wardrobe.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has made extensive use of mid- or post-credit scenes (sometimes both) which mainly, but not always, serve purpose as a teaser for one of Marvel Studios' future movies. For instance, in the post-credits scene of 2010's Iron Man 2, a large hammer of alien design at the bottom of a crater in a desert in New Mexico is shown being located by S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson, thus setting up their next release, 2011's Thor.
Post-credit scenes in video games
Video games, particularly the ones that make use of complex stories, have begun using post-credits scenes. An early example is EarthBound, in which Ness awakens to knocks on the front door just like the beginning of the game, and finds Pokey's brother Picky with a message from Pokey, indicating that he did not die and plans revenge. Also notable is the Metal Gear series of video games, in which Metal Gear Solid, MGS2, MGS3, MGS4, MPO and MGSPW feature a voice-over only scene after the credits of one or more characters speaking as the game's logo is displayed, all of which reveal new information that gives a new perspective to the previous events as well as setting up part of the next game in the series. Another example is the Kingdom Hearts video game series, in which Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II include a post-credits epilogue, along with an unlockable, highly enigmatic scene depicting possible events in a future installment of the series (The Final Mix versions of both games also include another unlockable scene that takes off where the previous ones left). Also, Halo 2's post-credits scene doubles as a cliffhanger.
In "Version one" (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3/Windows) of Splinter Cell: Double Agent, if the game is completed still on the side of Third Echelon, a post-credit level begins allowing the player to finish the game. Another example of this would be in The Warriors in which the player fights the Rogues as the Riff leader during the game's end credits.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Halo 3 are rare example in video games where a crucial twist is unveiled: for Twilight Princess, the title character Midna shatters the Mirror of Twilight before jumping into the vortex herself, leaving Link and Zelda standing alone in the desert and breaking the only known link between the normal and Twilight realms. Halo 3's post-credits scene reveals that Master Chief actually survived the events of the ending scene and sees him entering suspended animation to await his rescue.
List of post-credits scenes in video games
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- Contra (Japanese version only)
- Metal Gear Solid
- Final Fantasy VII
- Final Fantasy VIII
- Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger
- Final Fantasy X
- Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
- Halo: Combat Evolved
- Kingdom Hearts
- Metroid Prime
- Halo 2
- Half-Life 2 (usage)
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
- Kingdom Hearts II
- The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning
- The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night
- The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon
- Halo 3
- Beyond Good & Evil
- New Super Mario Bros.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
- Super Mario Galaxy
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii
- Halo 3: ODST
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
- Assassin's Creed II
- Assassins Creed III
- God of War III
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
- Super Mario Galaxy 2
- Halo: Reach
- Sonic Colors
- Epic Mickey
- Portal 2
- L.A. Noire
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution
- Sonic Generations
- Kid Icarus: Uprising
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- Halo 4
- BioShock Infinite
- Sonic Lost World
- Lego Marvel Super Heroes
- Batman: Arkham Origins
- Call of Duty: Ghosts
- Final Fantasy XIII-2
- Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2
- Watch Dogs
- Mass Effect 3
- The Walking Dead (video game)
- Dragon Age: Inquisition
- Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker