Created By: Blizzaga on March 26, 2011 Last Edited By: pokedude10 on October 26, 2011

Chain of Messages

A message is sent through multiple relays.

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Trope
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Current Name: Chain Of Messages

This trope is 90% complete. However, the description needs to be lengthened, and then it's ready for launch. Do not change the name, a crowner was already held.

Up for Grabs, Needs A Longer Description.

A way of communicating over vast distances by relaying the message from one place to the next until it reaches its final destination.

See also Jungle Drums.

Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Film - Animated]]
  • In Mulan, the Chinese know that the Huns are approaching because of the chain of signal fires lit along the great wall. The fire is lit at the site where the Huns are, and the fire-lighters adjacent to it see the fire and light theirs, and so on.
  • Disney's 101 Dalmatians has the dogs would bark news from one dog to the next, relaying a message across the entire countryside.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In Return of the King, Gondor was too far away from Rohan to send a messenger. So a relay of signal fires, or beacons, were lit to signal their distress.
  • Discworld:
    • Used in Pyramids. Here the problem wasn't distance, but time. The heroes needed some inscriptions translated, but the only person who understood them were really ancient mummies - too old to understand modern language. Since the group was composed of all the undead pharaohs of Djelibeybi, the heroes solved the problem by putting them in a line, so that each could communicate with his direct descendants/ancestors.
    • The Semaphore towers are a minor plot point in Monstrous Regiment and a major one in Going Postal
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • In the first Gabriel Knight game, there are drummers situated outside almost every place you can visit in the French Quarter, which use their instruments to relay messages to the members of the voodoo cult. This being an adventure game, it is of course used for a puzzle later on.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
  • Before the electrical telegraph, the optical telegraph or semaphore line worked this way--operators would watch for messages, and then relay them to the next tower.
  • This was how telegraphs worked as well, as power concerns meant that a message could only travel so far before it was rendered impossible to receive clearly. The beginning of a message would usually contain addressing information indicating who it was meant for, so operators would know whether or not they should pass it on.
  • Several Early African tribes used signal drums that could be heard from nearby villages.
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 66
  • March 26, 2011
    Lavalyte
    See also Jungle Drums
  • March 26, 2011
    Blizzaga
    Yeah, that would be a nice link to add at the bottom of the article. Thank you. ^^
  • March 26, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Bad Trope Namer, sorry. People may confuse it for a slightly obscure vampire drama....

    Be warned that depending on who's involved in the chain, the final message may or may not exactly match what the original sender intended.
  • March 26, 2011
    thegrenekni3t
    Before the electrical telegraph, the optical telegraph or semaphore line worked this way--operators would watch for messages, and then relay them to the next tower.

    • In The Count Of Monte Cristo, the Count bribes a semaphore operator to send a false message in order to affect the financial market.
  • March 26, 2011
    Weaver
    Speaking of the optical telegraph, there's the Clacks in the Discworld series.
  • March 26, 2011
    randomsurfer
    ^^^See Chinese Whispers, aka the Telephone Game.
  • March 26, 2011
    Blizzaga
    The trope name is perfect. I care not if it will remind a fanboy or three about the Twilight saga. :P
  • March 26, 2011
    foxley
    Sorry to be pedantic but the Trope Namer is not the Disney version of One Hundred And One Dalmations. It exists, and is called by that name, in the original novel by Dodie Smith.
  • March 26, 2011
    amazinglyenough
    I don't really like the trope name just because I can only think of one instance where the trope involves barking at twilight. I know what it refers to, but still.

    Anyway, example:
    • In the first Gabriel Knight game, there are drummers situated outside almost every place you can visit in the French Quarter, which use their instruments to relay messages to the members of the voodoo cult. This being an adventure game, it is of course used for a puzzle later on.
  • March 26, 2011
    Ryusui
    The Trope Namer is an obscure example; I remember it from the movie, but if you're going to name a trope after a particular example, you should choose something a bit more prominent in the public consciousness.

    Relaying The Message or some such would be a good name, given that this trope involves a message being passed from one to another in the fashion of a relay race.
  • March 26, 2011
    AFP
    Pass It On, for the instruction added to a message to, well, pass it on?

    This was how telegraphs worked as well, as power concerns meant that a message could only travel so far before it was rendered impossible to receive clearly. The beginning of a message would usually contain addressing information indicating who it was meant for, so operators would know whether or not they should pass it on. A noteworthy exception is S-O-S, which was designed instead to be easily and quickly recognizable as a general cry for help. Before S-O-S became common, C-Q-D was a very common message, with the C-Q being an addressing prefix for "All Stations", and the D being for "Distress".

    Also, not really the same thing, but in effect, this is how networked communications works, though the relaying of messages is now automated without humans having to get their paws on anything.
  • March 26, 2011
    thegrenekni3t
    Ooh, Pass It On is a good title.
  • March 26, 2011
    Kaoy
    Sorry to repeat a couple people, but I have to agree that the name isn't very good. Its an obscure literary reference and do to a certain series about sparklely vampires that has been massively popular with a certain culture(and moderately so in the main stream) for a few years now, all that comes to mind when I read that name is a bunch of werewolves howling as a part of some ritual or another.
  • March 27, 2011
    MorganWick
    Being that most of my exposure to 101 Dalmatians is through Popcultural Osmosis, I too have to say that the title made me think of some sort of parody of a certain sparkly-vampire franchise. I'm not even sure what literal twilight would have to do with this trope, or what a combination of this trope with twilight would have to do with 101 Dalmatians.
  • March 27, 2011
    Arivne
    Literature
    • In C.S. Forrester's Horatio Hornblower novel Hornblower and the Hotspur, the title character destroys a French semaphore tower so it can't transmit military information.

    There are more fictional media examples of semaphore lines in the article on The Other Wiki.

    And plenty of fictional media examples of heliograph networks here.
  • March 27, 2011
    Lavalyte
  • March 27, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Used in Terry Pratchett's Pyramids. here the problem wasn't distance but time - the heroes needed some inscriptions translated but the only person who understood it were really ancient mumies - too old to understand modern language. Since the group was composed from all the undead pharaos of Dielibeibi, the heroes solved the problem by putting them in a line, so that each could communicate with his direct descendants/ancestors.
  • March 27, 2011
    johnnye
    Pass It On is good.

    Don't forget the Pony Express Rider. Although that might not count, since I think the rider himself stayed on for the whole journey, and just changed horses at each stop.
  • March 27, 2011
    Blizzaga
    I shouldn't have bothered mentioning anything. -_-
  • March 27, 2011
    Kaoy
    ^It's not that it's a bad idea or anything, its just a tropes name needs to be something the public conscious can see and figure out. If its a fairly obscure reference that draws to mind a far more main stream thought, then the title needs work.
  • March 28, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Agreeing with Kaoy. Blizzaga, no need to be defeatist; we're here to help.
  • March 28, 2011
    Thebes
    The Semaphore towers in Discworld get a lot of mileage. They're a minor plot point in Monstrous Regiment and a major one in Going Postal.
  • March 29, 2011
    Kaoy
    Bumping this. Still think it's a good idea, but the also still think the title will need to be changed.
  • March 29, 2011
    Prime32
  • March 29, 2011
    dotchan
    Related trope: Epic Hail. Hell, this might be Epic Hail; the "Twilight Bark" example is currently listed there.
  • March 29, 2011
    Kaoy
    ^I think you might be right, actually. That sounds to be exactly the same thing.
  • March 30, 2011
    Arivne
    Epic Hail is:

    "This is where someone, often a protagonist or group of them, sends a dramatic signal to a powerful ally. The purpose of the message is usually to ask for assistance or send a warning in desperate circumstances."

    So the key element in Epic Hail is the message being sent, not the means by which it's transmitted. You could send an Epic Hail by radio, which would not be this YKTTW.
  • March 30, 2011
    thewriter
    Reminds me of the game Telephone.
  • March 30, 2011
    NateTheGreat
    Pass It On sounds more like a gossip trope, strictly one person speaking (usually whispering) to one other specific person.
  • March 30, 2011
    Kaoy
    You know, thinking about other tropes has me wondering now... What separates this from Gondor Calls For Aid?
  • March 30, 2011
    Thebes
    Again, this is about the method, not the intent. It could be part of Gondor Calls For Aid (as it is in the Gondor/Rohan example), but not necessarily (like in the Dalmations example).
  • May 10, 2011
    thewriter
    Bump.
  • May 10, 2011
    jaytee
    Yeah, the current title is untenable, and I don't really like Pass It On...

    What about using the word "relay," since that seems to be the core of the trope. Relay Hail?
  • May 10, 2011
    c0ry
    In the Mulan movie, the Chinese know that the Huns are approaching because of the chain of signal fires lit along the great wall - the fire is lit at the site where the Huns are, and the fire-lighters adjacent to it see the fire and light theirs, and so on.
  • May 22, 2011
    AFP
    Out of curiosity, what's wrong with Pass It On? I like it since it's an actual phrase that means pretty much what the trope is about. Relay Hail just sounds... kinda weird. Message Relay sounds good to me as an alternative.
  • May 22, 2011
    peccantis
  • May 22, 2011
    Riddlewizard
    Pass It On is also a song from Fraggle Rock, just in case nobody remembers. It might possibly remind people of Fraggle Rock.
  • May 23, 2011
    jaytee
    ^That is certainly first in my mind for that phrase, believe it or not.

    The problem with pass it on is that while it's a nice description of how the message is propagated, it provides no context as to what this particular trope is about. It's also a nice description of the Fraggle song, of secrets in elementary school (pssst, john is a nerd, pass it on), a hand-off in football, passing anything to anything else..... Nothing at all indicates that this is about an Epic Hail.
  • May 23, 2011
    blueranger
    How about Long Distance Chinese Whisper?
  • May 23, 2011
    jaytee
    Is that a Mulan reference? Am I missing something?
  • May 23, 2011
    AFP
    That sounds like something vaguely Not Safe For Work.
  • May 24, 2011
    randomsurfer
    ^^As I mentioned previously "Chinese Whispers" is an Alternate Name for "The Telephone Game."
  • August 31, 2011
    pokedude10
    It's been three months since this was active. If this is Up For Grabs, I'm willing to give this a shot.

  • August 31, 2011
    JonnyB
    Trope name is not obscure to me. Maybe to kiddies...

    I would add "not to be confused with Twilight" at the bottom.
  • August 31, 2011
    pokedude10
    I'm going to put a Alt Title Crowner up soon
  • August 31, 2011
    CommanderPanda
  • August 31, 2011
    ladygem
    Another Real Life example would be that several African tribes used signal drums that could be heard from nearby villages.
  • August 31, 2011
    JonnyB
    ^ Look at the first post.
  • September 1, 2011
    Arivne
    ^^^^^^ @pokedude10: The OP (Blizzaga) hasn't posted in this YKTTW since March 27th and hasn't posted on TV Tropes in the last couple of months (at least), so this is definitely Up For Grabs. I'd say go for it.
  • September 1, 2011
    ChocolateChip
  • September 1, 2011
    foxley
    Because the Telephone Game normaly involves the message being garbled as it is passed. That is not necessarily the case here.
  • September 1, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    This Crowner is an abysmally close tie. We may need a clear-winner of a title before this can move on. Call To Call To Arms, Olympic Messenger, Assembly Line Communication, Long Distance Relay Communication, Call The Locksmith. These... are all crap.
  • September 2, 2011
    pokedude10
    Right now, Chain Of Messages leads by 2. I'm going to go ahead and use that name, and get the crowner locked.

    The point of this Crowner was not to get an overwhelming consensus. It was simply used to help sort out the good names from the bad.
  • September 2, 2011
    TippyToeZombie
    I like the name and I like this trope.
  • September 4, 2011
    Artemis92
    Isn't this sort of thing already called a Pony Express?
  • September 4, 2011
    pokedude10
    ^ There is a difference. Pony Express is one messenger, while This is multiple relays.
  • September 5, 2011
    LeeM
    Discworld gets a lot of mileage out of the semaphore or clacks, but this troper can't help wondering if Sir Terry didn't nick the idea from Keith Roberts' fix-up novel Pavane.
  • September 6, 2011
    pokedude10
    Bump

    I see that this already has Four hats, but It does need a longer description before I launch.
  • September 6, 2011
    Spark9
    I agree with Chain Of Messages.
  • October 8, 2011
    pokedude10
    This has been idle for about a month, I'm declaring this Up For Grabs.

    All anyone needs to do is make the description a bit longer, and less laconic-y. After that, this can launch.
  • October 8, 2011
    IuraCivium
    The Rescuers Down Under features the initial message hopping from relay station to relay station in an epic visual of a series of arrows traversing the globe.
  • October 10, 2011
    TBeholder
    But how relaying is a trope, plot device or anything?
  • October 10, 2011
    surgoshan
    Real Life
    • Your every phone call and email is passed through multiple relays to get from where you are to its recipient. Once upon a time, emails had to be routed through the relays by hand, with the sender indicating each link in the chain.

    Live Action TV
    • The finale for the fifth season of the new Doctor Who begins with multiple people finding and passing on a message to the Doctor. From Van Gogh to Winston Churchill to River Song to the Doctor.
  • October 10, 2011
    hevendor717
  • October 10, 2011
    jatay3
    In the Jack Ryan verse, The Mole code named Cardinal is so valuable that the CIA has five couriers to carry the message. Only the one at the beginning would know it was from the Cia and only the one at the end would know it was going to Cardinal.
  • October 26, 2011
    TBeholder
    Do the people sit on chairs?
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