So you're somewhere--on vacation, at war, time traveling, teleporter accident, whatever--and you want something that'll stick around longer than just a Fun T-Shirt
. That's easy, just vandalize a handy surface!
This trope is pretty much as old as humanity itself (it's posited that one of the reasons there are hand-prints at Lascaux is for this very reason), but the Trope Namer
is a bit of Memetic Mutation
from World War II
whose origin has many stories (see Real Life
Up for Grabs
Anime and Manga
- Pokémon: The memetically infamous "Gary was here! Ash is a loser!"
- In one Footrot Flats strip, Wal makes a moving speech about how insignificant it makes one feel knowing that an ancient tree will still be standing centuries after he's dead. He then carves "Wal Footrot Was Here" into the trunk.
Live Action Television
- Journey to the West: Sun Wukong makes a bet with the Buddha that he can leap out of Buddah's grasp. He goes an extreme distance away and finds a set of pillars. Thinking that he'd won, he leaves the words "Son Wukong Was Here" on the middle pillar and pees on it for good measure. Turns out the "pillars" were just Buddha's fingers. Oops!
- In The Neverending Story there is a mountain that is only conquered for the first time - that is, you are always "the first person to ever climb it"; it is impossible to get on the top as long as there is any memory of anyone doing it before. So leaving a tag at the top blocks from everyone else it until the tag is worn out by the elements.
- In The Shawshank Redemption, inmate Brooks, unable to fit into society after so many years in prison, carves "Brooks was here" into a ceiling beam from which he then hangs himself. At the end of the film, Red carves "So was Red" before leaving to join Andy in Mexico.
- Isaac Asimov's short story The Message is about a time traveler from the 30-th century to WWII North Africa who, forbidden to interfere (he can only observe) resorts to writing a message on the wall of the hut he was in. His name is George Kilroy.
- In My Name Is Earl, Randy had made several graffitis like this, and after the episode where he goes back to school, he sets him to correct them since he has realised that those graffitis had bad spelling.
- In general, any video game that lets you leave behind some kind of message (text or graphical) can result in this trope.
- This, and bragging rights, is the whole point of high score lists.
- Left 4 Dead has grafitti in every safe house as a form of pseudo-communication between groups of survivors. Among them is Chicago Ted, whose statistics for zombie killing become something of a legend.
- In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, outside Lilycove City's Pokemon Fan Club building, it is noted that a number of Trainers have scribbled their names all over its sign. There is also a small island in the waters by Seaside Cycling Road that Team Aqua (and/or Magma) have tagged ("Team Aqua Was Here!")
- In the radio program The Black Museum (based on real cases of Scotland Yard and real obkects in their 'Black Museum'), episode 'The Notes', police find notes actually saying 'Kilroy Was Here'-- the police eventually realize the killer is actually telling them his name is Kilroy!
- As mentioned above, "Kilroy was here". However it originated (The Other Wiki has a few theories), American soldiers began leaving Kilroy everywhere.
- Graffiti tags. There's even a "language" associated with specific artists and gangs depending on what elements are present in a tag.
- Places like Names Hill, Register Cliff, and Independence Rock in Wyoming; according to Wikipedia, people on the Oregon Trail and the like carved or had carved their names in them. Names Hill also has Native American pictographs.