Created By: tustin2121 on November 13, 2012 Last Edited By: StarSword on January 19, 2013
Troped

Reading Ahead in the Script

When one of the characters outright reads ahead in the script,

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Needs a Better Title? Needs More Examples. Seen It a Million Times in comedy.

---

The actors have to read the script in order to know what to act. That's just a given. This, however, is when the characters read the script so that they know what's going to happen next.

Usually a comedy trope, and a part of behind the scenes comedy. But sometimes this trope can be played straight with something else standing in for the script, such as when a children's show is doing a Reading Is Cool Aesop story which rips off from one of the classics, and the children in the show are outright reading the classic book in question to see what comes next in their plot.

A type of Medium Awareness (and, by extension, often a sign of No Fourth Wall in the comedy varation). Closely related to Noticing The Fourth Wall; also compare Genre Savvy, This Is the Part Where..., and Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud. Contrast both Reality Ensues and This Is Reality. Can overlap with Animated Actors.

Examples of Comedy

Comics
  • In Bloom County, Opus was once lost without direction in a desert, and finally got a script, and edited it so that the inbred psycho who's picked him up hitchhiking turns into Zsa Zsa Gabor. Then when Zsa Zsa drops him off in Vegas, he leaves the script in the car, and is stuck back in the desert again.

Fan Fiction

Film - Live Action
  • In The Muppet Movie, the Electric Mayhem come to rescue Kermit and the others when they get stranded in the desert. How did they knew they were there? They read it in the script Kermit had given them earlier.
  • In the movie Spaceballs, the Spaceballs watch the VHS of the movie to find out where the heroes have escaped to. This causes great weirdness when they first get to the part of the video that's currently going on.
  • Played for Laughs in Robinhood Men In Tights, when Lucky Lucha bests Robin, during Prince John's archery contest, by splitting his arrow. Robin literally pulls out the movie's script and quickly flips through it, 'til he finds where it says he gets another shot. Prince John and the Sheriff of Rottingham, along with the rest of the cast, consult their own copies and see that he's right. Cue Robin's "Patriot Arrow".

Live-Action TV
  • Happens in the Red Dwarf miniseries Back to Earth. The characters then start writing the script to make each other do humiliating slapstick routines.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look features fly-on-the-wall style sections with the actors having chats as themselves on the set. In one of them, Robert Webb points out that these are as scripted as the rest of the show, and shows David Mitchell the script for the sketch they're in, which includes the direction "David looks at the script. It reads: David looks at the script. It reads:..."
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus: In several episodes characters would read the script to find out what was going on or what they (or another character) were supposed to do.
  • In an episode of Raumschiff GameStar, Captain Langer figures out the villains' Evil Plan by reading it from the script of the episode.

Theater
  • Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back has a weird variation - the characters from Rent read ahead in the script for La Boheme (the opera on which the plot of Rent is VERY loosely based) to see what they should do next.

Web Comics
  • A weird subversion in DM of the Rings #29 where the DM reads a script he was supposed to read later. When he realizes his mistake he tells the players to forget what they just heard. But given the players' dislike of the Wall of Text backstory and NPC monologues, they weren't listening anyway.

Western Animation
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Wind-Blown Hare", The Big Bad Wolf reads a copy of Three Little Pigs to know what to do. When Bugs Bunny pretends to be Little Red Riding Hood, he gives the wolf a copy of that book to catch up.
  • In the Drawn Together movie, when trapped in a slowly-filling underwater carriage and at a loss for what to do next, the housemates listen to the DVD commentary.
  • Disney's Aladdin. The Genie pulls out a copy of the movie's script and tries to feed Aladdin his next lines, which will have him use his third wish to free the Genie.

Examples of Playing Straight

Literature
  • This kind of happens in the novel Lanark, when the tite character meets the author and learns about some of the things that are in store for him.

Live-Action TV


Community Feedback Replies: 44
  • November 13, 2012
    tardigrade
    This kind of happens in the novel "Lanark", when the titular character meets the author and learns about some of the things that are in store for him.
  • November 13, 2012
    MrRuano
    Thinking In Little Green Boxes ends the Philosopher's Stone arc when Harry reads ahead in the book to find that Quirrel was Voldemort. Disappointed by this, Deadpool, Harry's father, punishes Harry by banning him from Breaking The Fourth Wall for five whole chapters. Harry kept to it...mostly.
  • November 13, 2012
    TonyG
    In The Muppet Movie, the Electric Mayhem come to rescue Kermit and the others when they get stranded in the desert. How did they knew they were there? They read in in the script Kermit had given them earlier.
  • November 13, 2012
    tustin2121
    ^^^Is this Lanark example a serious or comedic example?
  • November 13, 2012
    SWNT
    In the movie Spaceballs, the Spaceballs watch the VHS of the movie to find out where the heroes have escaped to.

  • November 13, 2012
    MiinU

    Film

  • November 13, 2012
    StarSword
    Comedic version.

    Web Comics
    • A weird subversion in DM Of The Rings #29 where the DM reads a script he was supposed to read later. When he realizes his mistake he tells the players to forget what they just heard. But given the players' dislike of the Wall Of Text backstory and NPC monologues, they weren't listening anyway.

    Also, in the Rocky Jones Space Ranger example, you might pothole "figures out that their adventure is suspiciously similar to the adventure he's reading" to Genre Savvy.
  • November 13, 2012
    elwoz
    suggestion for your placeholder text at the bottom:

    "A type of Medium Awareness. Closely related to Noticing The Fourth Wall; also compare Genre Savvy, This Is The Part Where, and Reading The Stage Directions Out Loud. Contrast both Reality Ensues and This Is Reality."
  • November 13, 2012
    tustin2121
    ^Thank you. I knew this fit somewhere... :)
  • November 13, 2012
    tardigrade
    Lanark is non- comedy fiction.
  • November 13, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    So what's the trope?

    As far as I can tell this is just something that happens.
  • November 13, 2012
    tustin2121
    ^ What's your definition of a trope?

    (Also: tags are not removable, thanks, now I know...)
  • November 13, 2012
    robinjohnson
    • Happens in the Red Dwarf miniseries Back to Earth. The characters then start writing the script to make each other do humiliating slapstick routines.
    • That Mitchell And Webb Look features fly-on-the-wall style sections with the actors having chats as themselves on the set. In one of them, Robert Webb points out that these are as scripted as the rest of the show, and shows David Mitchell the script for the sketch they're in, which includes the direction "David looks at the script. It reads: David looks at the script. It reads:..."
  • November 13, 2012
    wickedkatze
    Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back has a weird variation - the characters from Rent read ahead in the script for La Boheme (the opera on which the plot of Rent is VERY loosely based) to see what they should do next.
  • November 13, 2012
    StarSword
    Often a subtrope of No Fourth Wall.
  • November 14, 2012
    elwoz
    ^ That's already covered by its being a subtrope of Medium Awareness (it's hard to have a fourth wall if your characters know they're characters), but it might be good to point out in the description that this is a strong sign of the show having No Fourth Wall.
  • November 14, 2012
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • Monty Pythons Flying Circus. In several episodes characters would read the script to find out what was going on or what they (or another character) were supposed to do.
  • November 14, 2012
    shimaspawn
    Why don't we call this "Reading The Script Gag" instead of just having it characters looking ahead in the script it can be people going back, forward, editing... they're all the same core trope.
  • November 14, 2012
    elwoz
    Since it's not necessarily a gag, how about Characters Reading The Script.
  • November 15, 2012
    tustin2121
    ^^Yes, it's not specifically the gag. The point was that this is often used explicitly in comedy, but there's also a use subtly as a serious trope. So it's not a gag.

    ^Though it is about the characters reading the script, I'm not sure I like the term "characters" being part of the title. Yes, it certainly can be more than just reading ahead. Checking The Script perhaps. Something more clever than that even?
  • November 15, 2012
    Duncan
    In Bloom County, Opus was once lost without direction in a desert, and finally got a script, and edited it so that the inbred psycho who's picked him up hitchhiking turns into Zsa Zsa Gabor. Then when Zsa Zsa drops him off in Vegas, he leaves the script in the car, and is stuck back in the desert again.
  • November 15, 2012
    Koveras
  • November 15, 2012
    tustin2121
    ^I don't know where Raumschiff Gamestar goes, and the article gives no immediate clue. Is it TV? Animation? Web?
  • November 15, 2012
    StarSword
    I'd say TV.
  • November 16, 2012
    Koveras
    RSGS is a direct-to-video live-action series. Oh, and the example is Played For Laughs, just like most tropes in the show.
  • November 16, 2012
    StarSword
    ^Yeah, but that doesn't answer the question of what folder it goes into.
  • November 16, 2012
    Koveras
    File it under Live-Action TV or make a new folder Live-Action Series.
  • November 16, 2012
    tustin2121
    ^ ^^ Thank you. I'd rather not make a new folder type for a single entry if that can go under Live Action TV just fine.
  • November 16, 2012
    Tutups
    Supernatural 4.18 The Monster At The End Of This Book

    Dean Winchester: "Sam turned his back on Dean, his face brooding and pensive." I mean, I don't know how he's doing it, but this guy is doing it. I can't see your face, but those are definitely your brooding and pensive shoulders.

  • November 16, 2012
    ArcadesSabboth
    I think a better name could use the word Spoiler. Fourth Wall Spoiler? Spoil The Fourth Wall?
  • November 16, 2012
    StarSword
    Except it doesn't deal with spoilers necessarily.
  • November 16, 2012
    HaggisMcCrablice
    In the Drawn Together movie, when trapped in a slowly-filling underwater carriage and at a loss for what to do next, the housemates listen to the DVD commentary.
  • November 17, 2012
    tustin2121
    ^^^^ I have no idea what this example is supposed to be... I don't see him reading a script or script stand-in, nor do I know what the heck you are talking about... Zero Context Example much?

    ^^^ ^^ I can see how the term spoiler makes sense, what with the characters giving themselves spoilers to their own plot, but I don't think that should be in the title of the trope. Besides, this deals with a script or script-like substitute, whereas simple spoilers could be a lot of other things.
  • November 17, 2012
    shimaspawn
    ^ In context, there's a character who writes down the scripts of the shows as books that predict the future. It's an example, but a really badly written one.
  • November 19, 2012
    tustin2121
    ^ Well, if you know what he's talking about, could you give me a properly written example? (Or just add it to the draft?)
  • November 19, 2012
    TonyG
    In the Looney Tunes short "Wind-Blown Hare", The Big Bad Wolf reads a copy of Three Little Pigs to know what to do. When Bugs Bunny pretends to be Little Red Riding Hood, he gives the wolf a copy of that book to catch up.
  • November 22, 2012
    Koveras
    The episode from the Raumschiff Gamestar example was 26. Just to complete the write-up...
  • November 22, 2012
    KZN02
    Contrast Cue Card Pause?
  • November 23, 2012
    Arivne
    Examples of Comedy

    Film
    • Disney's Aladdin. The Genie pulls out a copy of the movie's script and tries to feed Aladdin his next lines, which will have him use his third wish to free the Genie.
  • November 24, 2012
    UltimaThule
  • November 25, 2012
    Arivne
    ^ @Ultima Thule. According to How To Write An Example:

    "State the source: The name of the work the example comes from should be clearly stated, ideally near the beginning of the example."
  • January 18, 2013
    elwoz
    Bump with threat to launch.
  • January 18, 2013
    StarSword
    Go ahead and launch it. It's Up For Grabs.

    Fixed namespaces.
  • January 19, 2013
    StarSword
    Ima go ahead and launch this.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=4u39xqj2y6m0d94oru5xlr80