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What is a Stinger in Film?

Film terminology is certainly something that takes some getting used to, even for the most avid filmmaker. So many different terms are used to describe various elements, situations, and activities involved in the filmmaking process and the film industry. While there are certainly a lot of different filmmaking terms and various lingo for newbie filmmakers to get used to on the set, few have as diverse meanings as the stringer. In all actuality, what is a stinger in film anyway?

Stinger on the Film Set

On the film set, if you hear someone ask for a stinger, they’re actually referring to the male end of an extension cord. While they may use the term “stinger” to ask for the entire extension cord, it won’t matter much to you if you’re new.

You’ll automatically wonder what in the world they’re talking about because why would anyone want a stinger? It doesn’t sound nice.

That’s because the term comes from the fact that extension cords on set are black. And the ends do in fact look somewhat like the stringer on a large scorpion – ouch!

So, when someone yells for a stronger, make sure you’re looking for an extension cord – any size will do. These cords are black, rather than the orange or yellow or green that you might recall from the typical construction site.

Why? Because most of the set uses black to avoid color reflections from interrupting the shoot.

Stinger in Film

The original question was, “What is a stinger in film?” That particular question has a slightly different answer because a stinger IN film is not the same as a singer ON the film set.

So, while a stinger on the film set is a black extension cord, a stinger IN film is referencing a short scene. In which there’s some surprising last minute character dialogue that typically comes after the credits.  


Also referred to as a post-credits scene, a stinger in film may even interrupt the credits mid-way. Also referred to as a mid-credits scene. In order to provide that last minute (often comical) character dialogue.

It’s one of those things where. Just when you thought the film was over and the credits are rolling. Suddenly someone from the story has one more thing they must say.

The stinger is usually some kind of reward or added benefit for those who watched the film through to the very end. And a lot of times it will either be humorous. Or it will provide some last minute glimpse into what “might” happen next. Giving rise to the potential for a sequel.

For Example

You might recall, quite possibly the cutest use of a stinger in film, in The Muppets Movie from 1979. In which the end of the film shows the Muppets. All chatting around as they’re leaving the seats of the theater and the credits are rolling.

They joke around with each other, and it’s almost certain to have you, the audience, sticking around to watch. After the final credits roll, the stinger occurs. Animal pops up on the screen, and yells to the audience “GO HOME.”

Contemporary Films

Stingers are used in many contemporary films too, including all of the Pirates of the Caribbean films as well as in Napoleon Dynamite.

The use of a stinger to shed light on the potential of a sequel can be seen in The Matrix Reloaded which features a trailer for its sequel, The Matrix Revolutions.

So, what is a stinger in film, it’s a short clip that rolls after, or mid-way through the post-credits for fun, or to announce a potential sequel – but, if you’re on the film set, it’s probably just an extension cord.

Check out this cute stinger in post-credits from Scooby Doo on Zombie Island!