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[[quoteright:350:[[Film/BackToTheFuture http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ripped_from_the_phone_book.jpg]]]]

Whenever an investigative character looks up information in a telephone directory and find the one piece of information they've been looking for, they'll rip out the entire page from the phone book. A lot of the time, the directory was one of those found next to a public telephone, which mean that our Sam Spade or Intrepid Reporter has just ruined the chances of anybody else looking up anybody whose name begins with B. Perhaps it helps to [[RuleOfDrama show how rushed and straight to the point]] they are but you'd think people in those professions would have gotten used to carrying around a pen and notepad.

This can be TruthInTelevision, although it might just be LifeImitatesArt. In either case, it can get very frustrating after the Oh-don't-know-how-many-times one has gone to look up something in the phone book at a public pay phone only to discover several pages missing, including the one you needed. (Of course, this is getting rarer as phone books at public telephones, and indeed public telephones themselves, are increasingly hard to come by. Factor in TechnologyMarchesOn, where people can simply type the number into their cell phone, or take a photo of the page they need with a camera phone, and it'll likely be a dead horse before long.)

See also JustTakeThePoster.



[[folder: Film ]]

* In ''Film/BackToTheFuture'', Marty searches for Doc in a phonebook in a cafe and rips the entire page out for one number. The cafe owner doesn't seem to mind; maybe he was used to seeing it happen all the time in Bogart flicks.
** Although he does respond to Marty holding the page and asking him a question by interrupting with a snippy ''"Are you gonna order something, kid?"''
* In ''Film/TheTerminator'', Kyle Reese does this with the page containing the listing for "Sarah Connor". A DeletedScene has Sarah doing it when she finds Cyberdyne Systems in a rather tattered phone book. Averted by the Terminator himself, since the cyborg's flawless memory allows it to instantly memorize the listings.
* Hilariously [[UpToEleven taken to the extreme]] in ''Film/{{Knowing}}'' when Nicolas Cage's character crowbars an ''entire door'' (which of course has information written on it) off of its hinges and takes it with him. Well, he was in a hurry.
* In ''Film/AngelsAndDemons'', when Vittoria Vetra rips the page from a priceless document by Galileo (likely the only one left in the entire world) to the shock of Dr Langdon, rather than waste time copying it.
* Done in ''Film/TheDreamTeam'' by Billy when he and the group are searching for their missing psychiatrist in a hospital. One of the group, Henry, does note that what Billy did is vandalism, but Billy shrugs it off and it's never brought up again.
* In ''Film/TheLastBoyScout'', Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans) uses a pay phone (in a police station no less) to get an address so he can track down where Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) is. He rips the page from the phone book as Joe's daughter looks on. She then traces the information he wrote down, and rips ''that'' page out of the phone book and follows him, leaving the phone book back at the police station with two missing pages!
* ''Film/{{Frantic}}''. Creator/HarrisonFord does this because he's getting increasingly frustrated over his attempt to get hold of an off-duty concierge who might have seen where his missing wife got to.
* ''Film/{{Superman}}''. Lex Luthor is looking through a book in his library to find some information about a meteor landing in Addis Ababa, When he finds it, instead of just showing it to his henchmen he rips it out and hands it to them.
* In ''Film/{{Unknown 2011}}'', the hero rips a page from the phone book in a public phone booth.
* Downplayed in ''Film/EternalSunshineOfTheSpotlessMind''. In the last scene when Clem tracks down Joel at his apartment, we see her in the car holding a ripped out telephone page with Joel's address marked up.
* A variant in ''Film/{{Disconnect}}'', where Ben's father rips the page with Jason's picture from the school's year book for later use.

[[folder: Literature ]]

* In ''Discworld/TheLightFantastic'', a scheming and ambitious wizard discovers the one piece of information that makes sense of a major crisis threatening the existence of the Disc itself. Rather than share the vital knowledge, and in order to discredit his rivals and boost his claim to the Arch-Chancellory, he bribes the Librarian with bananas [[note]]A magical accident has just transformed the human Librarian into the form of an orang-utan[[/note]] to locate all the copies of this particular Book, plus cross-references to it in other books, and check them all out on his ticket - so that nobody else can find them.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* In one episode of ''Series/LoisAndClark'', there was a plot point where Lois was looking for information on an individual but it wasn't in the phone book nor yellow pages. It was however in the white pages and she promptly tore a page out of a copy in the phonebooth.
* Done by one Rock Star in an episode of ''Series/{{CSI}}''; he was tracking down an ex-groupie who had given birth to his son.
* IntrepidReporter Carl Kolchak regularly did this in ''Series/KolchakTheNightStalker''. In one episode he went to find a number in his office phone book but discovered he had previously ripped out the page. He used the phone book of fellow reporter Ron Updyke - and ripped the page out of it too.
* In ''Series/VeronicaMars'', Wallace's estranged father Nathan Woods rips out the page of a phone book while looking for Alicia Fennel's address.
* Glory with the Magic Box ad in the ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' episode "Shadow". And a different use of the trope is shown in Season 7's "Showtime". A Potential steps off a bus and goes to a public phone to look up Buffy's address, only to find the page ripped out. Having identified herself by turning to the torn page, the Bringers move in to kill her.
* In the season 3 pilot of ''Series/{{Fargo}}'', when Maurice arrives at Eden Valley, he looks up E. Stussy in a gas station's phone book and rips out the page with his address in full view of the attendant. Not only does it lead to him killing the wrong person, it also provides evidence that the killing wasn't random.

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* In ''VideoGame/GabrielKnight: Sins of the Fathers'', Gabriel holds on to a page from a phonebook that Grace retrieved for him. Lampshaded when he notes: Somewhere there's a New Orleans phone book missing one of its "C" pages.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Toaster does this in ''WesternAnimation/TheBraveLittleToaster''.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'': Bender does this in ''Bender's Big Score'' when he is searching for Fry in the past. This was a take-off on the aforementioned example from ''Film/TheTerminator''. Bender was a robot going into the past to kill Fry, and there were *many* different joking Terminator allusions in that sequence. Only problem is that in the aforementioned example the robot ''didn't'' rip it out. Ah, well.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': Lisa does this to Dr. Nick's ad in ''My Sister, My sitter''.
* Mary does this in ''WesternAnimation/MaryAndMax'' when looking for the address of an American, wanting to ask a question about the country. She does this because her mom drags her along (causing to rip out the page in the progress) after she's trying to flee the post office, having been caught shoplifting.