Created By: KJMackley on July 20, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on December 4, 2014

Spoiler Diffusion

Red Herrings or Masquerades to throw people off Spoilers or prying eyes on the next big thing

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Page Type:
Trope
Big names tend to attract attention, whether it be an actor, a director, a writer or a franchise. In today's media-heavy world it is virtually impossible to keep secrets as fans will comb through garbage to find discarded scripts and call sheets, take videos from dangerous ledges to catch a glimpse of the filming and generally harass anyone and everyone involved to get slices of information.

This is a production trope where they take steps to throw off would-be gossip columnists and Fan Boy website reporters to keep some element of surprise past the teaser trailer.

In television shows this can be fairly difficult as between the filming of The Reveal and airing on TV can often end up with several additional episodes with the reveal being common knowledge. It can be especially difficult with a Studio Audience, despite non-disclosure agreements.

As to be expected (it's in the name), spoiler alert.


Examples

Film
  • For Return of the Jedi the crew looked to minimize the budget as the big name of Star Wars made location costs for The Empire Strikes Back skyrocket. So they pitched the movie as being a small horror film called Blue Harvest, complete with crew shirts and jackets with that name. This also kept people from getting too interested in snooping around.
  • Transformers
    • In a Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen press release Michael Bay expressly said that some of his announcements was deliberate misinformation. The big one being that Megatron was supposedly not returning, which was fairly transparent with being spoiled in the first major trailer. For the most part fans could figure out which info was good and which was bad.
    • Transformers: Dark of the Moon did something similar but they were more clever about it. They announced that Shockwave would be the new Big Bad of the movie, and in the comics he sometimes does take over as leader of the Decepticons. The general state of Megatron at the end of the second movie led credence to this announcement, a pre-release material even gave some focus to him. Ultimately, while a formidable enemy Shockwave was never in charge and largely served as The Brute and a foe Optimus respected. It was largely successful in that regard.
    • Through all three movies there was a large discrepancy between the names on the call sheets and the characters who were actually in the scene. Some of it was due to Hasbro finalizing which character was going to have that vehicle mode and thereby they only had an on-set name to be switched in post.
  • In a strange aversion, no one really knows how James Cameron managed to keep Avatar such a well-kept secret until the first trailer premiered. The heavy amounts of post-production work needed may have helped, but the guy kept all completed footage lock-up with an iron fist.

Live-Action TV
  • In Angel they made a great deal of effort to hide Lindsay's return in the fifth season (last seen leaving town in the second season). His initial appearance was in The Tag of one episode, and they filmed it with a closed set. In his following episodes where he shows up the main people involved called the actor (Christian Kane) by another name. The spoiler was still thrown out to the internet about a week before the revealing episode aired.

Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • July 20, 2011
    Angewomon
    • The plot of the Sponge Bob Square Pants movie was covered up by giving a fake plot in which Patrick was caught by a fisherman.
  • July 20, 2011
    TBTabby
    The ending of the "Who Shot Mr. Burns" story on The Simpsons was concealed with a fake clip leaked to the internet which had Smithers as the shooter instead of Maggie.
  • July 20, 2011
    Falterfire
    The new Doctor Who started production under the codename Torchwood, an anagram of Doctor Who. Torchwood later became a separate Spin Off show.
  • July 20, 2011
    randomsurfer
    ^^They made a bunch of fake clips of x shooting Mr. Burns. Smithers was the only fake one they made a whole Summation Gathering/Reveal for though.
  • July 20, 2011
    PaulA
    The opening episode of the fifth season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer featured Buffy fighting Dracula, which may have been a deliberate ploy to give the rumor mill something to latch onto and distract it from the two short scenes in the episode that set up the real new plot arc.
  • July 20, 2011
    deuxhero
    Of course, Smithers was given solid proof of innocence
  • July 20, 2011
    PapercutChainsaw
    Working Title would be a subtrope, as it fills a similar purpose.
  • July 21, 2011
    KJMackley
    Another one for Star Wars. In The Empire Strikes Back the line that David Prowse said on set was "Obi-Wan killed your father." Mark Hamill was quietly informed of the true "I Am Your Father" just before that scene was to be shot. Prowse himself said he didn't know of the change until the premiere. Either one would have been quite a shock, but it kept the true reveal within a small circle and the fake reveal was dramatic enough to explain the daze Luke was in for the remainder of the film.
  • July 21, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    Didn't the makers of M*A*S*H keep the "Col. Blake's plane was shot down" ending from everybody until Gary Burghoff delivered the lines for an actual take?
  • July 22, 2011
    Arivne
    ^ @69BookWorM69: Here's what Snopes has to say about that rumor. In short: no.
  • July 22, 2011
    KJMackley
    The whole rumor of the "No one knew until the moment of filming" is more Enforced Method Acting (the truth is the crew was not informed before that scene but the cast knew just before they shot it, but they still used that REAL sense of shock to transfer over for the actors). But the methods they used were still a part of this trope, the scene was filmed last and after the "official" wrap for the season. It minimized guests on the set, which was very deliberate.
  • July 23, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    I thought it was something like that. I also wondered if this trope is related to Enforced Method Acting in some fashion.
  • July 23, 2011
    Shnakepup
    Suggestion for the name: How about Spoiler Chaff? Chaff is the material that's released by military planes/helicopters to jam radar. Kinda fits?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaff_(countermeasure)

  • July 23, 2011
    KJMackley
    You can use similar tactics in Enforced Method Acting as you can in this trope, but the tropes themselves are not really connected in any way.

    ^ If you have to explain what a word or concept means it is likely not a good name unless it's a term that people should know like Mac Guffin. I'm up for other names but they should be just as understandable, maybe something similar to your idea but just Spoiler Jammer.
  • August 9, 2011
    KJMackley
  • August 9, 2011
    Micah
    Compare Foiler Footage.
  • August 9, 2011
    AmyJade
    The The Empire Strikes Back example is actually a bit more complicated; David Prowse apparently leaked the whole reveal in a magazine interview in October 1977.
  • August 9, 2011
    PS3D
    Homestar Runner has done that a few times. Just see http://homestarrunner.com/sbemail200.html
  • August 10, 2011
    SquirrelGuy
    Before Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan was released, a rumor was circulated that Spock would die in the first scene. Which he did --sort of, as part of the Kobayashi Maru simulation exercise. Kirk even said to him later "Aren't you dead?" Of course, Spock died for real of radiation poisoning at the end of the movie.
  • August 10, 2011
    Psychobabble6
    Before this gets launched, you spelled "diffusion" wrong. Not trying to be a Grammar Nazi, but a misspelled title would probably cause a fair amount of confusion, so better to nip it in the bud.
  • November 21, 2014
    Arivne
    • Corrected spelling (harrass, discrepency).
    • Blue Linked (fanboy).
    • Capitalized (tv).
    • Examples section
  • November 21, 2014
    DAN004
    So this is a kind of Kansas City Shuffle?
  • December 3, 2014
    randomsurfer
    See also Foiler Footage.
  • December 4, 2014
    henke37
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=qtex2t73cjyu7owilkqce5we