Created By: dotchan on March 21, 2012 Last Edited By: dotchan on May 2, 2012
Troped

Kilroy Was Here

Leaving grafitti with your name on some place you've visited as a lasting testament that you went there.

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Trope
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 section below).

Up for Grabs.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Pokémon: The memetically infamous "Gary was here! Ash is a loser!"

Comics
  • 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.

Literature
  • 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.

Live Action Television
  • 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.

Video Games
  • 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!")

Radio
  • 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!

Real Life
  • 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.

Western Animation
  • On the Looney Tunes short "Haredevil Hare", Bugs Bunny lands on the moon and mentions that he's the first living creature to do so. He then passes a rock with "Kilroy was here" written on it.
  • The Simpsons: Bart has made several "El Barto was here" graffitis.
    • In another episode Bart writes his name in wet cement, with an Imagine Spot of the future, where archeologists speculate on what he might be like.
    • Homer tries doing this using the name El Homo, which results in him getting hit on by a man passing by.
  • In The Boondocks'' Riley graffio-tags his name in big bold letters, then wonders how he got caught.
  • In The Flintstones episode "Adobe Dick", Fred and Barney are swallowed by a whale. Inside, they spot some graffiti that reads "Jonah was here"
  • At the end of the Fairly OddParents TV Movie "Channel Chasers", Vicky's sister Tootie gives Timmy's Parents pictures of all the damage Vicky has caused over her time as babysitter. One such picture displays just this.
    Timmy's Dad: Vicky was key-scratching "Vicky Was Here" on my car! I punished Timmy for key-scratching "Vicky Was Here" on my car!
Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • March 21, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    In 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 it until the tag is worn out by the elements.
  • March 21, 2012
    TonyG
    On the Looney Tunes short "Haredevil Hare", Bugs Bunny lands on the moon and mentions that he's the first living creature to do so. He then passes a rock with "Kilroy was here" written on it.
  • March 21, 2012
    Generality
    Buddha, not Buddah.

    • 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.
  • March 21, 2012
    Alvin
    I have to post this: Radio/Real Life?: 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!
  • March 21, 2012
    Alvin
    Me again: forgot to say The Black Museum was produced by the BBC, hosted by Orson Welles, and 'The Notes' originally aired in 1952.
  • March 22, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Bart Simpson made several "El Barto was here" graffitis.

    In My Name Is Earl, Randy had amde 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.
  • March 22, 2012
    Alvin
    Real Life: 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.
  • March 26, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In The Boondocks Riley graffio-tags his name in big bold letters, then wonders how he got caught.
  • March 26, 2012
    Omeganian
    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.
  • March 26, 2012
    foxley
    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.
  • March 26, 2012
    Leaper
    Could the actual "Kilroy was here" graffito be worthy of troping on its own? If so, we might want to save this name for that.
  • March 27, 2012
    dotchan
    @Leaper, IMHO that's too narrow to be tropeable. Either drop a "Trivia" subection about the actual graffito once this page launches or just direct people to That Other Wiki.
  • March 27, 2012
    dotchan
    @Leaper, IMHO that's too narrow to be tropeable. Either drop a "Trivia" subection about the actual graffito once this page launches or just direct people to That Other Wiki.
  • March 27, 2012
    CharacterInWhite
    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.
  • March 27, 2012
    Stratadrake
    There's at least one Pokemon game where a sign has been repeatedly scribbled over by various Trainer names. I forget where, though....
  • March 27, 2012
    SquirrelGuy
    In The Flintstones episode "Adobe Dick", Fred and Barney are swallowed by a whale. Inside, they spot some graffiti that reads "Jonah was here"
  • March 27, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In one Simpsons episode Bart writes his name in wet cement, with an Imagine Spot of the future.
    Bart: This is for the ages.
    [flash to futuristic city with people crowded around. The word "Bart" is etched in the concrete]
    Tour guide: Like Stonehenge, this site will forever be a mystery. Who was Bart? And how did he manage to write his name in solid cement?
    Man: He must have been much smarter than his sister Lisa - about whom we know nothing.

  • March 28, 2012
    dalek955
    The story I heard was that the original Kilroy was an American infantryman who was sick of hearing the "Chair Force" bragging about how they were always there first, and began leaving the mark in places he thought USAF pilots might see it.
  • March 29, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Found it.

    • In Pokemon 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!")

    Possible page image (okay, it's just a joke, but too good to pass up)
  • April 13, 2012
    dotchan
    Bump. I am also willing to take suggestions on alternate names.
  • April 13, 2012
    StevenT
    In another episode, Homer tries doing this using the name El Homo, which results in him getting hit on by a man passing by.
  • April 13, 2012
    HyperTurbina
    There's also the memetic "Gary was here! Ash is a loser!" graffiti in the sixth episode of the Pokemon anime. I think that "Kilroy was Here" is a fine name for this trope.
  • April 24, 2012
    DarkConfidant
    At the end of the Fairly Odd Parents TV Movie "Channel Chasers", Vicky's sister Tootie gives Timmy's Parents pictures of all the damage Vicky has caused over her time as babysitter. One such picture displays just this.
    Timmy's Dad: Vicky was key-scratching "Vicky Was Here" on my car! I punished Timmy for key-scratching "Vicky Was Here" on my car!
  • May 1, 2012
    katiek
    I say keep Kilroy Was Here, and possibly have an image of that as well.
  • May 1, 2012
    Stratadrake
    Hmm, I think the Trope Namer may have too much Memetic Mutation for its own good as a page image; this isn't about references and homages to the Trope Namer (per se). I'm still partial to "Duchamp Was Here".
  • May 2, 2012
    katiek
    Agreed the image may not work, but I think that Duchamp one could be too obscure - and have a whole bunch of other inferences. Duchamp brings up a whole set of questions about meanings of words and use of objects - way too meta.
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