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A post-credits scene (also called a stinger, tag, coda, or credit cookie), is a short clip that appears after some or all of the closing credits of a movie have run. It is usually either included for humor (where it may be called a “stinger gag”) or to set up a possible sequel, as well as to encourage the audience to stay through the credits during the theatrical release.
Before stingers, movies frequently ended with a line of text advertising that a sequel was planned. One example is the 1963 James Bond film, From Russia with Love, the first in the series to show the ubiquitous "James Bond will return in..." just before the ending credits. The Beatles' Yellow Submarine features an appearance by band members in a stinger after reversing their initial displeasure with the project. National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) altered the "When in Hollywood, Visit Universal Studios" card by adding "Ask for Babs," a reference to a character who had become a tour guide there.
One of the earliest appearances of a true stinger 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 stingers to break the fourth wall, even when much of the rest of the movie 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 movie, and often 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 Spice World. Stingers also came out on Mystery Science Theater 3000, introduced in episode 205 ("Rocket Attack U.S.A."), continuing until the end of the series. The stingers, with a few exceptions, highlighted moments from the films that were either particularly nonsensical or had simply caught the Brains' attention.
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.
When Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released in theaters, at the end of the credits the screen went black, and Darth Vader's iconic breathing was heard, reminding people of the destiny of the young Anakin.
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 Hellboy when Tom Manning is shown still wandering around the catacombs where he was last seen previously in the film when the other major players have left.
Various Marvel films have post-credits sequences. One that uses comedy in development is 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, which suggests that Professor X may have transferred his mind to the body of a comatose patient (which was revealed in the DVD commentary to be the identical twin of Charles Xavier, whose mind had been crippled and destroyed due to Charles's growing powers in utero). In The Amazing Spider-Man, an imprisoned Curt Connors has a conversation with a mysterious man who appears in the cell. The man asks if he told Peter Parker the truth about his father, Connors replies "No" and tells him to leave Parker alone as the man disappears.
Marvel Studios also uses post-credits scenes to develop connections for its cinematic universe, starting with Iron Man which had Samuel L. Jackson appear as Nick Fury to recruit Tony Stark for the "Avenger Initiative". The post-credit scenes of the subsequent films, with the exception of The Incredible Hulk, connected the films together to set up the 2012 Avengers film, which had two of its own post-credits scenes. The first showed the Other conferring with Thanos about the attack on Earth. The second included the Avengers in a diner, eating shawarma in silence. In Iron Man 3, Tony recounts his events to Bruce Banner, who falls asleep after failing to tell him that he's "not that kind of doctor".
Pixar uses scenes during the credits as well as post-credits scenes to provide the film's epilogue. These also serve as a vehicle for self-referential jokes in films such as Cars, in which the characters are seen watching automotive versions of previous Pixar films during the closing credits. Finding Nemo, Cars and Brave are currently the only Pixar films to feature a post-credits scene.
The Pirates of the Caribbean films each include post-credits scenes, some of which affect the plot in following films. Most notably, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl shows Jack the Monkey taking a medallion from the chest, explaining why he is still cursed in the later films. The second film features a throwaway gag, and the third provides a vision of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann's future. On Stranger Tides shows Angelica finding the voodoo doll of Jack Sparrow before slightly smiling.
The TV series 24 has a post-credits scene, "The Arrest of Chloe", which appears only in the Blu-ray release of the final season.
The 2013 movie, Texas Chainsaw 3D, a post-credits scene shows Leatherface run out of the door and chase 2 people, opening for a sequel.
Post-credit scenes in video games
Video games, particularly those that make use of complex stories, have begun using post-credits scenes. Many long-running series use the device. The Monkey Island series has used post-credits scenes or text in all its games. Similarly, the Metroid series games feature a post-credits scene that generally involves Samus Aran's revealing her identity. The entire Halo series has also made a tradition of having short cutscenes after the last level of the game is completed on the highest difficulty.
The 1998 Videogame Spyro The Dragon, the ending hints at a sequel. In 1999 the game got a sequel, Spyro 2 Riptos Rage. The third title in the trilogy and final of the original trilogy released in 2000 and had a post credit scene, which was a message from Insomniac Games, thanking the fans for their loyalty to the series.
In the adventure game Day of the Tentacle, the LucasArts "golden man" logo appears on the screen, and hears the "Purple Tentacle" antagonist of the game approaches, is terrified and runs away. The "Purple Tentacle" takes his place on the logo and lifts his "arms".
Certain post-credit sequences are playable. One early use in console games is the SNES game EarthBound, which features a very short gameplay sequence after the credits, rather than a cutscene. Games such as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Halo: Reach, Hitman: Blood Money and the seventh-generation version of Splinter Cell: Double Agent thrust players into missions after the credits. In Kid Icarus: Uprising, after Pit defeats Medusa, the credits stop right in the middle for the players to find out that Pit has to now defeat Hades and the game continues.
Just as in films, some video games use post-credit sequences to set up sequels. In Final Fantasy VII, a short scene is shown after the credits revealing an overgrown Midgar, confirming that the world has not been destroyed by Meteor and preparing for the sequel movie Advent Children. In Final Fantasy X, after the credits Tidus could be seen appearing in the middle of the ocean while he swims with a smile on his face, this signifies another new "happy" ending that was concluded on it's sequel Final Fantasy X-2. The Kingdom Hearts series is notorious for using post-credit scenes as bonuses that allow the player to see a preview for the next game. The post-credits scene has been a recurring motif in the Metal Gear series as well since the original Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, with each game setting up the plot of the sequels. In Batman: Arkham Asylum after the credits a Titan container is seen floating in the water and one of three characters (Scarecrow, Bane or Killer Croc) reaches up and grabs it. In the sequel, Batman: Arkham City, Harley Quinn's voice can be heard near the end of the credits saying "There there... hush little baby don't say a word, mommas gonna kill for you the whole damn world!", implying that Harley Quinn and The Joker had a child. In Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, a scene after Sonic turns into Super Sonic, Metal Sonic's face shows as a spoiler alert for Episode II. Or such as in Half Life 2, right after the credits Dr. Kleiner's pet Headcrab, Lamarr appears onscreen while he says "Lamarr? Lamarr? Blast that- Where did she get to?" Followed by her leaping right at the screen. In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a post-credit sequence shows villain Bob Page talking to Morgan Everett and Megan Reed, discussing events leading up to the start of Deus Ex. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow uses this technique to reveal that the main character has transformed into series antagonist Dracula. In BioShock Infinite, a post-credit scene is a flashback to the year 1893, after protagonist Booker DeWitt has been sent back at time to New York with his daughter.