Created By: pcw2727 on March 24, 2012 Last Edited By: pcw2727 on March 31, 2012

Trolling for leads

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
"Sometimes you have to shake the tree and see what falls out" -LA Noire.

The main character is investigating some type of conspiracy. They have no leads. At best they have only a vague idea of who's involved in the conspiracy. Their only course of action is to go around looking for trouble. They start a few fights, break a few fingers, maybe even kill a few henchmen. With any luck they'll find a lead, maybe even get the attention of whoever's behind the conspiracy.

Examples:

Comics

This is Rorschach's primary method of gathering intelligence in Watchmen.

Marv goes around interrogating and killing hitmen in Sin City in order to get a lead on who killed Goldy

Live Action TV

  • A less violent variation in Veronica Mars -- Veronica knows she's looking for a particular gamer at a game club, and knows their gamertag, but not who it belongs to. She finds out the owner of the gamertag by griefing him until he spazzes out.

Film

The main character in Brick resorts to this tactic at one point by starting fights with known drug addicts at his school.

  • Inspector Tequila from Stranglehold says he's going to do this at Tai O following the big teahouse shootout with the Golden Kane gang. Not surprisingly, Captain Ed Lee is against it. During the Tai O mission, he ends up blasting up a lot of Golden Kane and blowing a lot of shit up, which actually does get someone's attention -- Mr. Wong, who the Golden Kanes are trying to overthrow with the help of a Russian syndicate and who is actually the Big Bad of the game.
    Inspector Tequila: We'd better stop them. I'm heading down to Tai O. I'm going to shake some cages and see what falls out.
    Captain Ed Lee: Like hell you will! Tai O's not your turf and you know it! That's an ongoing narcotics probe! We have it under control!
    Inspector Tequila: Drug gangs, turf wars, and a dead cop -- and you call that under control?
    Captain Ed Lee: Watch your step, Tequila! You go out of bounds, you lose your badge!

Real life

A military tactic that can be used when you suspect there are enemies nearby: Have everyone aim in the general direction of what looks like a good enemy hiding places to them, and fire a few shots. Chances are good that they will cause any enemies in hiding to think they have been spotted, causing them to reveal themselves by returning fire.
Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • March 24, 2012
    Arivne
    How do the heroes know if they're getting close to the conspiracy? People start trying to kill them.
  • March 24, 2012
    TBeholder
  • March 24, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    Done literally in Asterix - when they need a Roman, they find a large tree with a view of the village and shake it, then interrogate the Roman scout that falls out.
  • March 24, 2012
    pcw2727
    ^^Definitely not the same thing. Completely different actually.

    ^ Only counts if they were randomly shaking trees to piss off the romans.
  • March 25, 2012
    partner555
    Is this really the best name for it? When I saw the name, I got the literal meaning.
  • March 25, 2012
    chicagomel
    ^^ Yeah, so did I.
  • March 25, 2012
    CaveCat
    I Thought It Meant shaking a tree to get something to fall out.
  • March 25, 2012
    EthanE
  • March 25, 2012
    AFP
    • A military tactic that can be used when you suspect there are enemies nearby: Have everyone aim in the general direction of what looks like a good enemy hiding places to them, and fire a few shots. Chances are good that they will cause any enemies in hiding to think they have been spotted, causing them to reveal themselves by returning fire.
  • March 25, 2012
    pcw2727
    Can you reference a field manual that endorses that tactic?
  • March 25, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    • Inspector Tequila from Stranglehold says he's going to do this at Tai O following the big teahouse shootout with the Golden Kane gang. Not surprisingly, Captain Ed Lee is against it. During the Tai O mission, he ends up blasting up a lot of Golden Kane and blowing a lot of shit up, which actually does get someone's attention -- Mr. Wong, who the Golden Kanes are trying to overthrow with the help of a Russian syndicate and who is actually the Big Bad of the game.
      Inspector Tequila: We'd better stop them. I'm heading down to Tai O. I'm going to shake some cages and see what falls out.
      Captain Ed Lee: Like hell you will! Tai O's not your turf and you know it! That's an ongoing narcotics probe! We have it under control!
      Inspector Tequila: Drug gangs, turf wars, and a dead cop -- and you call that under control?
      Captain Ed Lee: Watch your step, Tequila! You go out of bounds, you lose your badge!
  • March 25, 2012
    nman
    While the complaints about the title being confusing are probably true, "Sometimes you have to shake the tree to see what falls out" seems like it would be the ideal page quote, at the very least.
  • March 25, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    I've often heard this expressed as "shake/rattle some cages and see what falls out," though when I used this trope in the backstory of one of my Play By Post characters in a D&D Wushu game (which would be more of a Troper Tale than an actual example), I used the phrase "shaking things up to see what would end up falling out."

    Hmmmm...perhaps Shake Things Up And See What Falls Out would be a good name for this.
  • March 25, 2012
    pcw2727
    ^^ wont fit
  • March 25, 2012
    TBeholder
    @ pcw2727: It is, just not a straight use, but trying to provoke this effect (Invoked Trope / Exploited Trope). See Playing With A Trope.
  • March 25, 2012
    cygnavamp
    Yeah, needs a better title.
  • March 25, 2012
    AFP
    pcw2727: I don't know of any particular field manuals that endorse the tactic, but the tactic is referenced in the book We Were Soldiers Once... And Young by Lt. General Hal Moore (Retired) and Joesph Galloway, based on Moore's experiences leading the 1st Battalion of The Seventh Cavalry in Vietnam. The tactic is referred to in the book as a "Mad Minute".
  • March 26, 2012
    pcw2727
    @T Beholder, the trope you mentioned is completely different. The only thing in common is that in both, someone might find out something about someone else.

    Also that trope is crowded with terrible examples that don't fit the trope at all.
  • March 27, 2012
    Bisected8
    I think this is distinct from Revealing Coverup, even if they have the same action within, since they have a different effect on the story;

    • Revealing Coverup: Something is revealed because the means in which it's hidden get someone's attention. Since it's generally done by an antagonist, it will be the beginning of a plotline (if that makes sense) because of the information it brings to light.
    • This trope: Someone does something with the specific objective of flushing someone out. Since this is going to be done by a protagonist to solve a specific problem it (and any characterisation or plot points) are likely to be self contained (e.g. for example The Hero could use this trick, see an informant or even just find a clue in the more traditional sense with no real change in the plot's progression).

    You could also argue that a RC doesn't need to be involved (since the character who's flushed out doesn't need to be trying to cover their tracks; they could easily just decide they're just in a weaker position and cut their losses).

    Besides, since when has being a Playing With Wiki variant made a trope the same (well obviously some PW tropes are the same trope, but inversions or exploited versions certainly don't have to be)? When you think about it, in the unlikely event we ever had a page for every trope a PWW page could just be a list of tropes....
  • March 27, 2012
    CharacterInWhite
    • A less violent variation in Veronica Mars -- Veronica knows she's looking for a particular gamer at a game club, and knows their gamertag, but not who it belongs to. She finds out the owner of the gamertag by griefing him until he spazzes out.
  • March 27, 2012
    Mauri
    Basically the Urban Warfare that happened in Stalingrad falls into this... and the creation of the Special Forces modus operandi.
  • March 27, 2012
    SKJAM
    In the Chinese wuxia TV series "Seven Swordsmen", the evil prince uses a variation of this tactic. He knows the good guys are holed up in a cave somewhere within a relatively small range of woods. So he has his cannon fire randomly at the forest. The area with the least number of birds taking to flight is the hiding place, since the human activity has driven the birds away.
  • March 28, 2012
    randomsurfer
    This is often called "fishing" by lawyers for the accused or suspected.
  • March 29, 2012
    troublegum
  • March 29, 2012
    AFP
    With the current title "Trolling For Leads", it might be worth pointing out that "Trolling" is a fishing term that refers to the practice of dragging a piece of bait on a hook, hoping that a fish will take the bait and bite (and thus, where the internet version of trolling gets its name).
  • March 29, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
  • March 29, 2012
    Met
    In an old radio episode of The George and Gracie Show, Gracie and bandleader Merideth Wilson disguise themselves (as a gangster and her "gun moll") and attempt to infiltrate the criminal "underworld," presumably of Beverly Hills. Their reasoning is that they are going to try to get a lead on who may have stolen their postman's (Mel Blanc's) old clunker car. Mainly, though, they just like to get into trouble.
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