Created By: jelby on July 13, 2013 Last Edited By: StarValkyrie on December 22, 2013
Troped

Unbelievable Source Plot

A plot with a main character who has an unbelievable source of information and must keep it secret.

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This is a type of plot where the protagonist relies on a supernatural source of information to save lives or solve crimes. They may predict something bad and stop it before it can happen or they may use this ability to investigate crimes that have already happened in order to bring the perpetrator to justice.

This plot involves three essential elements:
  1. an unbelievable source of information: It could be psychic powers, time travel from the future, super-powered senses, or a secret nation-wide spyware AI in a world where those sorts of things are widely believed impossible.
  2. the main character acts to fix/solve/save things: This person who has this special knowledge feels obligated to do something to solve or prevent the bad things that only they know about.
  3. the need for secrecy complicates Part 2: Because the source of information is so unbelievable, the main character is at risk of not being believed, getting sent for psychiatric care, or captured for experimentation or exploitation should the source of their knowledge become known.

The need for secrecy may require the protagonist to lie to the police and others about how they get their information and/or why they are always in the right place at the right time. The main character must keep the secret in order to avoid becoming The Cassandra, exploited, experimented on, etc. Unlike The Cassandra, the protagonist's closest contacts and allies may have learned to trust and rely on the information, but the need for secrecy outside their circle of trust remains. The protagonist's disregard for official procedure and frequent presence at crime scenes leave their allies walking a fine line to avoid getting fired for going out on a limb without being able to justify themselves.

This trope is sometimes frustrating to the audience, because it seems that everyone would be so much more effective at solving crimes/saving lives if the police just knew the truth. Keeping the police in the dark, however, serves the purposes of the drama — it creates a template of dialogue for each episode, where the protagonist has to (again) persuade the police contact to follow some lead, investigate a certain person, or be somewhere at a certain time. It's frustrating to the audience to see that scene reenacted every single time, but it highlights anew the incredibleness of the protagonist's gift and the incredulity with which an outsider might treat the idea. The audience might start to take the protagonist's gift for granted were it not for this repeated conversation with the police.

Sister trope of Vampire Detective Series, where the unbelievable source of information comes from the main character not being human and the degree of its unbelievability depends on the strength of The Masquerade.

Not to be confused with Occult Detective, where the detective is normal and the crimes are supernatural.

Compare/Contrast with You Have to Believe Me, where the informed character chooses the craziest sounding ways to try to get someone to believe the truth and is always surprised when others refuse to listen.

All examples provided should specifically highlight how the example incorporates each of the three essential requirements listed above.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • Detective Conan: The protagonist, having been de-aged to a child, ends up having to use a tranquilizer dart on someone and use a voice modulator to mimic them in order to convict the perpetrator.
  • Shibatora, in which a young police detective can see spirit hands reaching out towards the soon-to-be-deceased. It's not the only thing the main character uses to solve cases, but it is a supernatural source of knowledge he keeps secret.
  • Detective Gotou in Psychic Detective Yakumo tends to keep the fact he's using a teenage boy who sees ghosts to help solve cases well under wraps. Yakumo himself, not so much, although in the beginning he does hide his ability to see ghosts... by using some tricks to make people think he's plain psychic.

     Fanfiction 
  • In Grimm/Criminal Minds Crossover fic, Sobek Drowning, Detective Nick Burkhardt is working a serial killer case when the Criminal Minds profilers arrive to aid the investigation. Burkhardt is "a Grimm" with the ability to see that someone is "wesen" even when they're hiding it which often leads to important information that can help him solve his cases but he usually has the luxury of working with a partner, several expert civilian friends, and a superior officer who are in-the-know. When the FBI arrives, this is no longer the case and he and his allies have to get creative in order to present their leads without revealing that they all believe Creatures Hide Among Us.
  • Zig-zagged in NCIS/Supernatural crossover "When Worlds Collide". When Sam and Dean Winchester are set up for kidnapping Tony DiNozzo, the NCIS team take the Winchester case (the brothers are wanted by the FBI for all sorts of horrific crimes). At first, the team doesn't believe in the stories of powerful supernatural monsters and concocts a complicated theory about the Winchesters' beliefs being a psuedo-religious delusion which happened to coincide with a secret international terrorist crime syndicate's plans. Eventually though, NCIS figures out that the so-called delusions are reality and manage to convince and mobilize every higher-up in the government that they inform about this. However, they and these newly-informed officials opt to go with the original story about the delusions that coincided with and foiled the terrorist syndicate's plot as the official story because it sounds less crazy.

    Film 
  • Francis The Talking Mule shows what happens when somebody with this type of information source is honest about it. Francis' information is always good (because, quite frankly, who'd believe the mule standing over there understood English?), but Lt. Sterling repeatedly ends up in the psych ward after revealing his source for (for example) a Japanese bomber attack on the base.

    Literature 
  • In the novel Cold Fire by Dean Koontz, Jim Ironheart has psychic premonitions of upcoming disasters. Knowing that there's no way he could explain to authorities how he knows about them, he travels to the scenes of the upcoming disasters to save as many people as he can.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Early Edition. The protagonist, Gary Hobbeson, gets tomorrow's newspaper today. He frequently asks for help from a detective on the police force, who eventually learns to trust his "intuition." Frustrating, because Gary would be so much more effective if someone on the police force just knew his secret, so he wouldn't have to persuade them from scratch to help out. They could just consider him a golden tip — but he never tells anyone, and each episode where he needs police help, he has to convince someone all over again. The detective, when he is around, usually reluctantly agrees to help based on years of experience with Gary.
  • Person of Interest. Protagonist duo John Reese and Harold Finch receive information from a mysterious machine about someone whose life may be in jeopardy (or who may be about to commit homicide). A detective on the police force always helps follow the leads, but never knows their source — and is constantly being scrutinized for the source of the "tips."
  • Continuum. Protagonist Kiera Cameron works as a consultant for the police force, and provides information based on her knowledge of the future and her communications with the smart kid through her communication implants. Sometimes it seems silly that she doesn't just tell her partner what's up so she wouldn't have to convince him to follow a lead every time she has insider information, but she is certain that no one would believe her.
  • Touch. The father's autistic son communicates through numbers, and the father has to follow up on his son's prescient abilities to prevent bad things from happening, or to make good things happen. In order to accomplish this, he needs help from various contacts and allies but in order to protect his son, he has to lie to them to cover up how he knows things.
  • The Listener. The protagonist reads minds, and frequently stumbles upon crimes, missing children, etc. His police contact spends much of the first season baffled as to how he is always in the right place at the right time, and he always has to convince her to follow up his leads. After season 1, he tells her and some of their other close allies so that at least they will listen when he tells them something and he can avoid the Cassandra Did It accusations. While this improves his situation in some ways, it still leaves his allies to lie and misdirect their superiors to protect their careers.
  • Parodied in Psych where the civilian protagonist is gifted with excellent non-supernatural observational skills but rather than demonstrate these skills, opts to convince the police he is psychic. Only one of the cops doubts his powers are really psychic and is ridiculed by his colleagues for not believing.
  • Pushing Daisies. Subverted because the investigator is on the inside and therefore knows the secret. The protagonist can bring the dead to life for a minute and interview them about their death. Sometimes, it feels like they still have to lie all the time to others about why they know so much. Not *quite* a paradigmatic example, but still showcases the endless lies necessary to cover their secret investigative trick.
  • New Amsterdam: The main character is an immortal early American colonist that works as a police detective. He uses his hundreds of years of experience to solve homicides in present day New York. Everyone assumes he's a Bunny-Ears Lawyer since he does get the job done, they just don't know how.
  • This trope is Played With in Sherlock where Sherlock is a civilian consultant for Scotland Yard who uses his observation and reasoning skills to solve difficult crimes. He is given an unusual amount of leeway with evidence and crime scenes which Lestrade has to continually fight for with his colleagues and downplay to his superiors. Sherlock's skills aren't supernatural and he never lies about them, but many who dislike him don't believe skills like his are possible and want to believe he is lying and only revealing information he learned through other means (including possibly committing the crimes himself). His criminal counterpart, Moriarity, exploits this as part of a plan he hopes will bring about Sherlock's demise.
  • Averted in Warehouse13 with Agent Steve Jinks, formerly of the ATF, who has an unexplainable ability to always know when he's being lied to. But rather than keep this a secret because it can't be explained, he openly uses it, even on cases, and everyone who knows him for any length of time is aware of it. If a new acquaintance is skeptical, he demonstrates by letting them test him until they believe him.
  • Ghostwriter: the main cast is a bunch of teen Amateur Detectives who are helped by a ghost who can cannot see anything but words and can only interact with the world by reading said words and then rearranging letters and words elsewhere to show what he read. The team uses the information from Ghostwriter to solve crimes but they also have to collect conventional evidence to get adults to believe them since telling them that a ghost gave them the clue is not gonna help the kids or the victim.
  • Awake: Detective Michael Britten lives simultaneously in two separate realities; when he goes to sleep in one he wakes up in the other. He does not know which universe is real and which is a dream, but information he learns in one universe has strange connections to cases in the other. He cannot tell his partner or captain how he gets his information for fear he will be kicked off the force for psychological reasons.

    Web Comics 
  • Think Before You Think is about Brian, a psychic who can read everybody's surface thoughts with ease. Fortunately, he has a cop best friend, Isaac, who knows his secret, so this trope is often averted. However, this trope is also played straight much of the time, for example, when Isaac isn't around, or when Isaac has to explain to his superiors where he's gotten his information.

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of South Park Cartman gets a head injury and now thinks he's psychic, so the police want him to help solve a series of murders. Stan, who does some independent detective work, finds the murderer but can't get the police to pay attention to him because he isn't psychic - so he recreates Cartman's head-bumpage so he can pretend to also be psychic so the police will pay attention to his information.


Community Feedback Replies: 68
  • July 13, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of South Park Cartman gets a head injury and now thinks he's psychic, so the police want him to help solve a series of murders. Stan, who does some independent detective work, finds the murderer but can't get the police to pay attention to him because he isn't psychic - so he recreates Cartman's head-bumpage so he can pretend to also be psychic so the police will pay attention to his information.
  • July 13, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    So if I'm understanding this trope correctly this would be a subversion because the main character himself is on the force? New Amsterdam The main character is an immortal early American colonists that works at a police station. He uses his hundreds of years of experience to solve homicides in present day New York. Everyone assumes he's a Bunny Ears Lawyer since he does get the job done, they just don't know how.
  • July 13, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    You're right that at first it seems too specific, but then I got to the examples list and realized how many I was familiar with and now I agree that its a trope. I think the main points, in the interest of a concise description, are that 1) a character, The Cassandra, has a source of information that is too strange to be believed, 2) they nevertheless feel compelled to use that information to solve crimes/save lives so 3) they feed the information to the police in a way that conceals the unbelievable source as much as possible and from as many people as possible.

    Also, Medium where the lead character is psychic and helps solve crimes by feeding information to the detectives and prosecutors, only a few of whom know where she really gets the information and they help her cover it up.

    And the Cassandra character from Continuum is called Kiera Cameron.
  • July 13, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Did some formatting.
  • July 13, 2013
    azul120
    • Detective Conan: The protagonist, having been de-aged to a child, ends up having to use a tranquilizer dart on someone and use a voice modulator to mimic them in order to convict the perpetrator.
  • July 13, 2013
    Jthayne
    I'm the creator of this one, but my other account got corrupted (it won't let me edit anything because my password doesn't match for some reason, even if I change it), so I created this one. What's the procedure here? Everyone else is free to edit this, right? Or do i have to? I'm new to tvtropes.
  • July 13, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ Usually the creator edits the first post and keeps working on the description until it earns five hats and then they launch it. While anyone is allowed to edit, we usually don't unless it looks like it's been abandoned or unless the original poster decided to orphan it by tagging it as Up For Grabs in the hope that someone else will adopt the responsibility of keeping up with the edits and examples that people suggest and eventually will do the work of launching it.
  • July 14, 2013
    DAN004
    So, to put it straight, this is a deconstruction (in a good way) of The Cassandra by making the information goes slowly (through the police) but surely?
  • July 14, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ I think the difference is that The Cassandra is a character and, while it's currently written as a character, based on the examples given, I'm seeing this as more of a plot. All the examples are shows which, if someone described what they were essentially about, this trope is what you'd get. Ex: Early Edition is a show about a guy who get tomorrow's newspaper today (Part 1 - the unbelievable source of information) and feels like he has to go around preventing the bad headlines from happening (Part 2 - the main character acts to fix/solve/save things) without being thrown in the loony bin for acting crazy (Part 3 - the need for secrecy complicates Part 2).
  • July 14, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    to Jtyayne - I didn't actually mean for you to copy what I'd suggested word for word, just think about it as you clarify the description. :) I edited the post to change the part you took from me because it wasn't written well enough for a description as it was and I went ahead and formatted the examples so its easier to eventually launch.

    I also tried to make the rest of the description more concise which I probably shouldn't have done :( - if I just screwed it up, put it back the way you want it. Click the button with the book on it, right next to the edit button, and all previous versions of the description are listed.

    Examples suggested by others are now added to here. It looks like we could use some non-tv examples. Is this a plot in any books?
  • July 14, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Fixed a Red Link.
  • July 14, 2013
    DAN004
    @ Star Valkyrie: There would be a time-loop (or other time-related madness) problem with getting a future news (which, in the present, the event's about to happen). But at least I understand where you're going to.
  • July 15, 2013
    jthayne
    To further Star Valkyrie's description, here's two more examples.

    The Listener is a show about a guy who reads minds (Part 1 - the unbelievable source of information) and feels like he has to go around solving crimes or helping people (Part 2 - the main character acts to fix/solve/save things) without being thrown in the loony bin for acting crazy (Part 3 - the need for secrecy complicates Part 2).

    Continuum is a show about a woman from the future who therefore has prescient knowledge as well as a secret connection to a smart kid (Part 1 - the unbelievable source of information) and feels like she has to go around stopping a terrorist group (Part 2 - the main character acts to fix/solve/save things) without being thrown in the loony bin for acting crazy (Part 3 - the need for secrecy complicates Part 2).
  • July 15, 2013
    jthayne
    ^ The above is to simply illustrate the core of this trope. And yes, it's more of a plot structure than a character, but a pretty common one once you start collecting examples.

    Also, my dissertation calls, and my procrastination must end. Sorry, folks, up for grabs now. I really hope someone carries this through to completion!
  • July 15, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ I can keep working on this one and launch it when its ready.

    Does anyone have an idea for a name for this that clearly shows it's a plot rather than a character?
  • July 15, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ There's You Have To Believe Me, but that's a Stock Phrase already.

    On a related note, that trope is played a lot when this kind of plot occur...
  • July 16, 2013
    nielas
    The Listener example only applies to the first season. The subsequent seasons are a subversion since the telepath decided to just tell the police officer what is going on. The other cops and their boss were then brought in on the secret as needed. Now the other cops and Da Chief are the ones who can't reveal to their superiors where they are getting the information but they are able to work around it better than a single civilian could.
  • July 16, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^I didn't see past the first season, but I think it's still this trope played straight. The fact that he's told his closest allies means that now it's not just him who's lying, but also his allies who have to justify themselves to their superiors, is still part 3 of the criteria.
  • July 16, 2013
    ACarlssin
    The webcomic Think Before You Think is about Brian, a psychic who can read everybody's surface thoughts with ease. Fortunately, he has a cop best friend, Isaac, who knows his secret, so this trope is often averted. However, this trope is also played straight much of the time, for example, when Isaac isn't around, or when Isaac has to explain to his superiors where he's gotten his information.
  • July 16, 2013
    ACarlssin
    "Does anyone have an idea for a name for this that clearly shows it's a plot rather than a character?"

    Do you really need that distinction? It seems to me that this type of plot occurs only because this type of character is involved. Whether the trope name applies to the plot or the character is irrelevant.
  • July 16, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^^ Added.

    ^ I see your point. Is the current title okay then?
  • July 16, 2013
    DAN004
    If it's a plot, then would Questionable Informant Plot count?

    BTW Mysterious Informant would be related.
  • July 16, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ No, I don't think it is. That's very much a spy genre trope and the person who is the informant may be mysterious but having an informant as a source of information is not at all unbelievable. The informant part of that name would be misleading here. The source of information isn't an informant and the character receiving it doesn't usually play an informant role to their police contact either - they're generally detective-type characters.
  • July 17, 2013
    DAN004
    Hmm... I guess you imply that "someone who gives info" =/= "informant". Sorry for having barely decent English, but what does "informant" actually mean, then?
  • July 17, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ While that's the basic dictionary definition of an informant, the specifics depend on the situation. A police informant specifically is usually someone who is involved in the crimes they're informing on and decides for whatever reason to pass information about it to the police. The main character in this trope isn't involved in the crimes - in fact, they're on the other side of the law, as a police detective, as a consultant for the police, or friends with police officers.
  • July 17, 2013
    ACarlssin
    ^^^^ I think the current title is good.
  • July 17, 2013
    ACarlssin
    If/when this gets launched, some of the examples under Occult Detective should be moved here, because this is a better match for them.
  • July 17, 2013
    DAN004
    @ Star Valkyrie: I see.
  • July 17, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^^ That might be true, but the majority of the examples there don't have enough context for me to tell unless I'm already familiar with the work. Can you list any there that you recognize should go here?
  • July 18, 2013
    StarSword
    Unbelievable Source Plot?

    Film:
    • Francis The Talking Mule shows what happens when somebody with this type of information source is honest about it. Francis' information is always good (because, quite frankly, who'd believe the mule standing over there understood English?), but Lt. Sterling repeatedly ends up in the psych ward after revealing his source for (for example) a Japanese bomber attack on the base.

    TV:
    • In Person Of Interest the protagonists' source is backdoor access to a government AI one of them was the primary designer of, designed to predict acts of treason and terrorism but which turned out to also detect mundane violent crimes (mainly murders). Reese and Finch even keep the Machine secret from their two NYPD contacts, partly for this reason, and partly because the No Such Agency that gets the "relevant" list has a habit of shooting anybody they think might know about the Machine.
    • Medium has it in the title. The protagonist is a psychic, capable of speaking with the dead among other things. Her boss in the police department knows about her ability but nobody else other than her family does, and coming up with a justification for her foreknowledge is a constant headache.
  • July 20, 2013
    MorganWick
    This is a bad snowclone. Cassandra was famous for no one believing her; you differentiate this from The Cassandra by the fact that the source of information is believed, thus robbing it of the reason you'd give it a Cassandra title to begin with. A fantastic source of information that must be actively kept behind the Masquerade for some reason =/= The Cassandra.
  • July 20, 2013
    DAN004
    And so I'd up the Unbelievable Source Plot for alt title.
  • July 21, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^^^ Added the first. The other two are already there. Did you think the descriptions were unclear or just miss them?

    ^^ That was my thought too. I just don't know what to use otherwise.

    ^ It's the best alternative so far, but it's not very clear.
  • July 21, 2013
    Clevomon
    Ghostwriter is type 1.
  • July 21, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ There's no types on this one. You have to have all three parts to qualify. And examples that are just "this work has this trope" aren't allowed. All examples must have context explaining how they demonstrate the trope.
  • July 22, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    ^RE:Ghostwriter: the main cast is a bunch of teen Amateur Detectives who are helped by a ghost who can cannot see anything but words nor can interact with the world beyond reading said words and then rearranging letters and words elsewhere to show what he read. The team has to make do with any clues that the ghost has read plus regular legwork, and it goes without saying that on this show Adults Are Useless (in general, and in particular telling them that a ghost gave them the clue that they just used to potentially solve the case is not gonna help the kids nor the victim).
  • July 24, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Just bumping this.
  • July 25, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ Added
  • July 25, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    Maybe The Mentalist is an example of this trope as well (maybe, maybe not, dunno). Patrick Jane is an ex-Phony Psychic and an expert at reading people who can pretty much tell when someone is being honest or not in a second and this, alongside conventional legwork, brings down the Murderer Of The Week. The problem lies in that Jane's antics to put the suspects off guard are more often than not borderline sociopathic and puts the rest of the CBI team in hot water. His obsession to catch Red John drives said antics Up To Eleven whenever he's involved, and so more than once the team has had to run interference for Jane, even at the risk of being fired or arrested.
  • July 25, 2013
    arromdee
    I'm not sure Detective Conan is a good example. He has to conceal his competency, not his source of information; he has the same information as anyone else.
  • July 25, 2013
    arromdee
    Cassandra was famous for no one believing her; you differentiate this from The Cassandra by the fact that the source of information is believed, thus robbing it of the reason you'd give it a Cassandra title to begin with.

    In this trope, the source of information still would not have been believed if people knew what it was.
  • July 25, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^^^No, that doesn't sound like this. There's no unbelievable source of information. It's possible it's somehow playing with this trope, but not for the reasons you mention - it would have to be something about his past as a psychic and/or how people respond to his skills in relation to traditional psychic tropes.

    ^^ I'm not familiar with the example. Was he deaged? If so I think it qualifies because no one would believe that he had been deaged and having been deaged is the source of his intelligence, right?

    ^ I think it can go either way which is why I'm on the fence about it. As clear as the current title is, many of these cases have a couple of close friends who learn to believe and that part isn't Cassandra but in general, the idea is that the source should be unbelievable so while I can see why the Cassandra aspect works, I also think it's at risk of being labeled as a bad snowclone by the TRS people.
  • July 25, 2013
    Irrisia
    Well, Detective Conan is a little weird, but yeah. Teen detective Kudo Shinichi is de-aged by a mysterious organisation, and then solves crime as a young boy. He can't tell anyone, because the organisation that de-aged him is still around and wants him dead.

    Also in anime/manga format:

    There's also Shibatora (that shouldn't be redlinked, and I don't know what's up with it, there's a page here), in which a young police detective can see spirit hands reaching out towards the soon-to-be-deceased. It's not the only thing the man character uses to solve cases, but it is a supernatural source of knowledge he keeps secret.

    Detective Gotou in Psychic Detective Yakumo tends to keep the fact he's using a teenage boy who sees ghosts to help solve cases well under wraps. Yakumo himself, not so much, although in the beginning he does hide his ability to see ghosts... by using some tricks to make people think he's plain psychic.
  • July 25, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ I think Detective Conan works then, though it may be justified since the main reason the source is kept secret isn't just its unbelievability but also that there's a shadowy evil organization that wants him dead because of it.

    I've added the other examples.
  • July 25, 2013
    randomsurfer
    re The Mentalist: there have been a couple of episodes where guest characters don't believe Jane when he says he isn't a psychic - one woman who claims to be a psychic herself, and another where the wife of the Victim Of The Week is a former client of Jane's back when he was doing the phony psychic thing.
  • July 26, 2013
    Arivne
    ^^^ @Irrisia: To make Shibatora a Blue Link, add its Namespace (in this case, Manga) in front of it and Wiki Word Shibatora. Like this:

    Manga/{{Shibatora}} -> Shibatora
  • July 26, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^^ So he's openly explaining that his skills are mundane observations that anyone could make but people don't believe him and keep insisting that they're actually psychic abilities. Could be an inversion then, right?
  • July 26, 2013
    Goldfritha
    Huh. From the title and laconic, I would have thought that GK Chesterton's The Man Who Knew Too Much would fall under this.

    For those who don't know it: the title hero is deeply familiar with the Blue Blood upper and governing class of England. This allows him to know who commits certain crimes, and that they will escape punishment.

    Perhaps the title might be improved? Or the description altered to include it?
  • July 26, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Live-Action TV

    • Many of the cases in The X Files revolve around this, as is Mulder's determination to crack the Government Conspiracy. Many Monster Of The Week cases can only be explained by paranormal activity, which many in the FBI don't take very seriously and the X-Files work is subject to a lot of contempt or ridicule in the bureau--with some people who've been assigned to it (such as Doggett, initially) seeing it as being Reassigned To Antarctica.
  • July 27, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^^ I don't understand how that would fit the laconic or the Cassandra aspect of the title. Can you explain what you think should be included please?

    ^ That's Occult Detective. Mulder's sources of information are mundane - crimes happen, he investigates them using everyday detective work.
  • July 29, 2013
    jthayne
    As the originator of this thread, I'm all for changing the title to "Unbelievable Source Plot." I do think this trope is more about a plot than a character, so that makes sense to me. This also illustrates that the character is not always *solving crimes*, but is sometimes just saving lives (such as Early Edition, which is the paragon example of this plot). I'll make the change.
  • July 29, 2013
    jthayne
    I also added a request at the end that all listed examples highlight how they include the three essential elements of the trope.
  • July 29, 2013
    arromdee
    I think Detective Conan works then, though it may be justified since the main reason the source is kept secret isn't just its unbelievability but also that there's a shadowy evil organization that wants him dead because of it.

    Define "source".

    He's not concealing a source of information. His source of information is perfectly mundane and the same as everyone else's.

    You could argue that he's concealing the source of his deductions (since he pretends they don't come from him), but that's not the same thing.
  • July 29, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^ 'the reason he knows things'. Look, if a kid came up to you and told you they could solve crime because they were actually 80 years old and de-aged by a shadowy malevolent organization, that sounds crazy, yes?
  • July 29, 2013
    JoeG
    • Awake: Detective Michael Britten lives simultaneously in two separate realities; when he goes to sleep in one he wakes up in the other. He does not know which universe is real and which is a dream, but information he learns in one universe has strange connections to cases in the other. He cannot tell his partner or captain how he gets his information for fear he will be kicked off the force for psychological reasons.
  • July 30, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    JohnDoe: The titular character *is* the unbelievable source. An amnesiac savant who knows an immense amount of things, he's pretty much a walking database of tidbits which can help narrow down an investigation (such as knowing the exact make and model of a certain type of Laundromat washing machine by the type of tokens a criminal left behind and which could narrow down the area of where said criminal lives-this he does on the pilot, BTW).

    Of course, his Friend On The Force has to run interference once or twice when 'John' seems to know way too much and almost sounds like a suspect (and at least once is on the run for being framed).
  • July 30, 2013
    jthayne
    ^ I'm not convinced this applies β€”Β does John Doe have to keep the source of his insights secret for fear of not being believed, or committed to an institution, or experimented on? The friend on the force might have to at times protect John when he seems too smart, but otherwise there's nothing supernatural about his insights β€” he's just really smart, and there's nothing to "disbelieve" about that except some incredulity that someone can have a photographic memory.
  • August 1, 2013
    JoeG
    • Joan Of Arcadia: A suburban teenager is periodically visited by God, who gives her mysterious tasks to perform. She is quite aware that if she tells the truth about why she does what she does she will be committed to an insane asylum.
  • August 10, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    ^^The way John got his insights is a secret even to him, but it is supernatural. He was involved in an experiment to kill someone and bring them back to life, testing the hypothosis that when you die you're given all knowledge. It worked, but he doesn't remember who he was prior to his death. The show was cancelled before the Reveal of all this though.
  • September 6, 2013
    jthayne
    What needs to be done to polish this?
  • December 3, 2013
    TheTitan99
    Some specific episode examples on the X-Files:

    • The episode "Beyond the Sea" has a death row inmate who claims to be psychic, and wants to use these powers to catch a serial killer to lower his own sentence.
    • In the episode "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", the police use a famous psychic to help solve a series of murders, and Agent Mulder, skeptical of this one particular psychic's abilities, hires another to help solve the crimes.
  • December 3, 2013
    Bisected8
    I think Contagious Cassandra Truth is related to this somehow, but I'm not sure how....
  • December 3, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^^ The police psychic stock character isn't enough by itself to qualify for this trope which is about a plot - in the description, there are three elements listed... how do those examples meet the other parts of this trope?

    ^ The point of this trope is that the Cassandra character is avoiding telling about their actual unbelievable source of information so it rarely becomes a Contagious Cassandra Truth.
  • December 4, 2013
    JoeG
    • In the novel Cold Fire by Dean Koontz, Jim Ironheart has psychic premonitions of upcoming disasters. Knowing that there's no way he could explain to authorities how he knows about them, he travels to the scenes of the upcoming disasters to save as many people as he can.
  • December 4, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Psych actually started out as a case of Cassandra Did It, Shawn called in a shockingly accurate tip after seeing the suspect on the news and Lassiter assumed that the only way the smart-aleck who couldn't keep a job more than six months could know was if he was in on it.
  • December 5, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^^ Added.

    ^ Cool. You should add that to the Cassandra Did It page.
  • December 18, 2013
    JoeG
  • December 22, 2013
    StarValkyrie
    ^I can try to get to it if no one else wants to but it might have to be after Christmas at this point. A lot of people are just busy IRL right now.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=qoikhiswsx77m0e3371zkox5&trope=UnbelievableSourcePlot