Years and years ago, when not every movie was a sequel, remake, or reboot, people usually left the movie theatre by the time the end credits rolled. These days, if your movie is a big deal, some people might stick around to see if there’s anything after the credits. These “after credits” scenes are popularly known as post credit scenes, or film stingers. But what is a post credit scene and how did they get so popular?
Defining Post Credit Scene
The post credit scene explained
Before digging into examples of movies with post credit scenes, we want to make sure we’re all on the same page when it comes to what a post credit scene is, along with its alternate names and characteristics.
POST CREDIT SCENE DEFINITION
What is a Post Credit Scene?
A post credit scene, also known as a film stinger, movie stinger, or end credit scene, is a scene that appears after the credits have rolled on a movie. In some cases, a scene may appear in the middle of the film’s end credits (mid credit scene); it is also very commonly referred to as simply a “stinger.” While mainly associated with movies, TV and even video games can include a post credit sequence, as long as they have end credits to precede them.
Post credit sequence characteristics include:
- A blooper or outtake
- Being an amusing scene that instructs you to go home
- A brief scene that is unconnected to anything important
- An important piece that either hints at more to come and/or fleshes out the preexisting lore
Before continuing, we want to talk about outtakes and bloopers that run alongside end credits. These types of sequences are sometimes referred to as end or mid credit scenes, even though they almost always run alongside the movie’s end credits. For this reason, we won’t go into them here, as they technically do not occur after all the credits have rolled.
Movie Stinger History
The first film stingers
For the longest time, movies didn’t even have end credits; most of them had opening credits and then, when the movie was over, just said “THE END.” In some cases, your end credits would only consist of a cast list and that’s it.
One major exception can be seen in the 1960s spy spoof The Silencers (1966), which had a post-credits scene letting the audience know that Dean Martin would return in the sequel Murderers’ Row (1966).
George A. Romero’s classic zombie movie Night of the Living Dead (1968) is also cited as an example; while the end credits feature still images, the final shot of the film plays after the credits have rolled.
Movies with post credit scenes began to appear more in the 1970s, and The Muppet Movie (1979) is often seen as the first example of the modern movie stinger, with Animal telling the audience to go home.
This movie also provided an example of the end credit scene being preceded by scenes that played over the end credits, allowing audiences to arrive at the end credit scene more naturally.
One of the most famous examples of this comes from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), where, after the end credits show Edward R. Rooney getting a ride on a school bus, Ferris appears in his home to tell us “it’s over” and to “go home.”
If you want an early example more in line with how film stingers are done these days, look towards Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). A movie that was hoping to make a franchise out of its premise, its film stinger has its main villain check into an inn and sing their name as “Moriarty” (the name of Holmes' nemesis).
Masters of the Universe (1987) did something similar, with He-Man villain Skeletor declaring “I’ll be back!”
The 1990s had a few more examples of film stingers, like in Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), Super Mario Bros. (1993), Space Jam (1996), and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). However, in these cases, as well as others, the post-credits scenes were just quick gags. It would not be until the new millennium that stingers would evolve to what they are now.
Modern Film Stingers
Film stingers today
As the 2000s began, the world of cinema continued to use film stingers mainly in comedy films for one last laugh before the movie officially ended. But the 2000s are also known for the beginning of the superhero movie boom, featuring some all-time favorites. It’s around this time that Marvel post credit scenes began to form.
Daredevil (2003) is the first of the superhero movies to have a mid credit scene, featuring one of the villains, Bullseye, in a body cast in the hospital. This stinger serves as both lore exploration and comedy, as we see him successfully impale a bothersome fly, even though most of his body is immobile.
But of course, it would be Marvel’s Iron Man (2008) that would change the game for good. Featuring Tony Stark encountering Nick Fury and being told about the “Avengers initiative,” it started what would become commonplace in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From that point on, audience members would be rewarded for sticking around with the patented Marvel post credit scenes.
It’s important to mention that many of these superhero movies make creative use of end credits that allow for not only post-credit scenes, but also mid-credit scenes (which technically count).
This can be seen in movies with little to no opening credits that have one initial round of end credits (usually a creative visual sequence), followed by more traditional “scrolling” credits.
As a result of movies sometimes having two end credit sequences, plenty of MCU films have mid and post-credit stingers, some of which are less vital than others. And regardless of their praise or criticism, Kevin Feige and company started a trend that has become very commonplace for big blockbuster movies.
Aside from Marvel post credit scenes and other franchise-hopefuls, animated movies started getting in on it. While Pixar had already had “blooper reels” in their films, they started to add stingers, as seen in Monsters University (2013) and Toy Story 4 (2019). This also extended to Disney Animation films, such as Moana (2016), Big Hero 6 (2014), and Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018).
Film stingers have become part of the cinema experience, though they are still often reserved for only the biggest movies in town. Still, as older examples demonstrate, there’s no rule on who can have a post-credit stinger, or how it’s used. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a little reward once the credits are done.
The Ultimate Guide to Film Credits
Film stingers are cool, but they would be nothing without literal end credits. You can learn how to make your own end credits the right way by checking out our ultimate guide, featuring a hierarchy list and how our StudioBinder software can help you out.