Stopped Reading Too Soon YKTTW Discussion

Stopped Reading Too Soon
A message gets misinterpreted because the guy reading it reads it too quickly and misses vital info
Already have? Better Name Tropeworthy? Needs Examples
(permanent link) added: 2012-03-13 17:32:18 sponsor: StevenT edited by: eroock (last reply: 2015-06-24 17:17:12)

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DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft

Often, a written/typed message only makes sense if it is read all the way through. However, not everyone has the patience to finish reading. They'll fasten on the part of the message they saw first, and act upon it, not realizing that there is more important information in the rest. Often justified in fiction by the writer of the message using poor syntax, Wall of Text, or "burying the lead" so that the most important information is on the next page. May lead to Dramatic Irony (as the audience will often gets to see the rest of the info), Cue Card Pause, and Worse with Context (or Better With Context).

This can also apply to audio or video recordings, and communication transmissions (i.e over the phone, or with Voice with an Internet Connection).

Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! characters are prone to this. See also Read the Fine Print and Read the Freaking Manual. Related to Out-of-Context Eavesdropping.

Compare and contrast Prophetic Fallacy, Lost In Transmission, Conveniently Interrupted Document, Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation and Plot-Based Voice Cancellation for when it's not the fault of the reader/watcher/listener, but rather the document/transmitter itself.

Not to be confused with It Gets Better, when the audience stops following a story too soon.


Anime and Manga
  • In Love Hina Christmas Special: Silent Eve, Su and Sara find Naru's letter to Kintaro and only bother to read one word in the middle of the page (love) before jumping to conclusions, setting off the whole Idiot Plot.
  • In Bakuman。, both the protagonists stop reading only a few pages into the book Iwase gave Takagi, one because he doesn't like the genre she wrote in, and the other because it was too "deep" for him. Thus they both miss the message she inserted between pages about halfway through the book.
  • In Ranma , Genma read about "The Cat Fist Technique" and decided to teach it to Ranma. It required tying him up with fish sausage and locking him in a basement full of hungry cats. Genma didn't read the next page, which stated "Of course, anyone who does this is a complete lunatic who should have their head examined."

Comic Book
  • In Ghost World, Seymour discovers Enid's Significant Sketchbook at one point and feels crushed when he sees a portrait of himself showing him as depressing and alone. When confronting Enid, she points him to the later pages in her sketchbook which has many more portraits of Seymour in a completely different light, which he didn't see when initially skimming the pages. Seymour is visibly touched by this discovery.
  • In Scott Pilgrim, Matthew Patel sends Scott an email explaining the basic plot of the series. Scott skims it before declaring it boring and deletes it, thus Scott is completely blindsided when the first fight over Ramona starts.

  • Hellboy: a variation; Abe Sapien reads off the description for the Hellhound from a book to Hellboy. Hellboy supposedly kills the hellhound before Abe finishes, after which he mentions the last few sentences about resurrection.
  • In Shrek, the title character accidentally eavesdrops on Fiona talking to Donkey, and hears the part about how "'princess' and 'ugly' don't go together." Thinking that she secretly hated him and was only pretending to like him, he promptly storms away, when her very next sentence would have clued him in that she was talking about her own shapeshifting curse.
  • Lampshaded in Dogma:
    Loki: "Cardinal Glick cuts ribbon on Catholicism, Wow! campaign." And?
    Bartleby (sighing): You have to keep reading.

  • In The Incredible Journey a housekeeper finds only one page of a two-page note. This leads to confusion about who is going to be taking care of three pets for two weeks. This sets the plot in motion- the pets escape and have adventures before anyone realizes they're gone.
  • Goosebumps, "How to Kill a Monster", the two main characters are trapped inside their grandparent's house with a monster inside. They find a letter from their grandparents telling them they left and warns them about the monster inside. After killing the monster and escaping from the house and into the swamp at night, they continue reading the letter explaining their grandparents lock them inside for their protection and to prevent them from leaving the house because there are more monsters in the swamp and they come out at night. After they finish reading, the kids have no idea what they are going to do next.
  • Parodied twice in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Once, in-universe, a vital note is hidden behind chapters and chapters about somebody picking a snack. On another occasion, the author actually buries us in boring information before writing a note to his sister.

Live-Action TV
  • There's the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Fear Itself" where Giles reads the information on Gachnar but doesn't read the inscription with its 'actual size' caption. Buffy also fails to let him finish reading later on before she breaks the seal and summons Gachnar on accident.
  • Almost happens in Blackadder Goes Forth, when Lieutenant George is defending Blackadder at his courtmartial. George reads a prepared speech that concludes with "...Captain Blackadder is guilty!" then, after a pause, realises something's amiss, turns the page over and continues: "...of nothing..."
  • In The Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man", the translator stops translating the titular book after figuring out the title. Then she does the rest. Cue the Wham Line: " It's a cookbook!"
  • Kaamelott: Arthur goes to Merlin to ask for an energizing potion because he's feeling down lately. Merlin looks for the potion and tells him to drink it. Arthur asks if he's sure, Merlin replies that yes, it says "one" on the label for "in one go". The as Arthur downs it, Merlin reads the word after that, which is "drop". Arthur spends the rest of the episode superexcited until the prospect of bedding his wife comes up, which cures him completely.

  • In one episode of The Navy Lark Povey's scheme to drum the HMS Troutbridge crew out of the navy falls apart because he only read the front of the orders sheet, there was information on how they could get out of it on the back. Even worse The Admiral admits that he makes the same mistake constantly, and only noticed some important stuff when he turned some paper over to use as a drink's coaster.

Video Game

Web Video
  • Unskippable: The episode for Death By Degrees plays this straight during the discussion of an upcoming spy mission.
    Character: ...execute a video recon...
    Paul: Execute! Got it!
    Graham: No, no, no! Execute reconnaissance, not just execute! Stop... stop killing people!

Western Animation
  • On American Dad! a guy stopped reading Carrie, literally in the middle of a sentence. Thus, he dropped pigs from the ceiling onto Stan at the prom instead of pigs' blood.
  • The Simpsons
    • In the episode "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment", a 200-year-old law banning alcohol is discovered in the Springfield Charter. It took until the very end of the episode to discover that it was repealed 199 years ago.
    • In the episode "Blood Feud", Homer writes an angry letter to Mr. Burns, which starts out as a fake thank you note. Mr. Burns at first reads the thank you part, and is deeply touched, until he later discovers the following sentences.
    Dear Mr. Burns... I'm so glad you enjoyed my son's blood and your card was just great. In case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic. You stink! You are a senile, buck-toothed old mummy with bony girl-arms, and you smell like an elephant's butt.
  • One ploy that Wile Coyote uses on the Road Runner in the Looney Tunes cartoon is to leave a pile of bird seed laced with Acme Earthquake Pills. The target ingests the entire bait, then departs unaffected. The coyote disgustedly eats the remaining pills, about half the bottle. A moment later, his eye catches the fine print at the bottom of the label: "Caution: Not effective on road runners." Cue the coyote's leg quivering ominously.
  • A telegram delivered to Tom Cat in the Tom and Jerry cartoon "Million Dollar Cat" states that Tom has been bequeathed one million dollars. This news leaves Tom overjoyed, and he flings roses around the room and kisses a goldfish. Jerry Mouse reads the telegram in its entirety, and smugly points out the last line: "Payment stops if the cat brings harm to any living thing, even a mouse." Jerry goes into complete Jerk Ass mode, confident that he can torment Tom with impunity.
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