[[quoteright:350:[[{{Series/Heroes}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Gn_string_theory_2736.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:He does that a lot.]]

->'''Roger:''' Look, there's coded messages everywhere! In the ''New York Times'', on the Internet, even in ''Catcher in the Rye''.\\
'''Steve:''' Well, you ''did'' use an awful lot of ''string''...
-->-- ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'', "Bush Comes to Dinner"

Somebody's conducting an investigation -- and every little bit of information could be the break they need. {{Red Herring}}s are flying left and right, and they need to get everything organized. What better way to do it than with a pegboard (or an entire ''room'') covered in pictures of people, maps of places, and cryptic hints? Often the items are related, and these relationships are expressed by a complex web of strings connecting pairs of items; thus the name.

An example of LawOfConservationOfDetail, as almost invariably every single item will be plot relevant -- although it's not always clear whether it was all planned out meticulously in advance, or whether the writer decided to use the various random items on the board as jumping off points for future episodes. Fans will naturally [[ViewersAreGeniuses drive themselves crazy]] trying to [[EpilepticTrees figure out the relevance of every item]]. [[EveryoneIsJesusInPurgatory Don't stare at it too long, though.]]

May contain a SerialCrimeMap. Subtrope of RoomFullOfCrazy.

Not to be confused with the {{Webcomic}} ''Webcomic/StringTheory'' or [[EEqualsMCHammer actual particle physics]].



* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9M-IcNzap8 This Audi commercial, done like a movie trailer, starts off with a wall of pictures and strings.]]

[[folder:Audio Play]]
* ''Podcast/BigData'': The trailer for it is a video of one made in real life.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/{{Batman}}: Year Zero'', Edward Nigma's office at Wayne Industries contains a vast spiderweb of different coloured strings, as he tries to "solve" pretty much everything as though it were a riddle.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Megamind}}'', Roxanne finds Megamind's plan lain out in one of these, but can't understand it at first. When she backs up for some perspective, she sees that the strings, rather than holding information, form a picture of the plan.
* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirlsRainbowRocks'', after the credits roll, [[spoiler:it is revealed that human Twilight (the ''real'', original human Twilight) has been tracking the occurrences of the two movies using this trope, and all the strings on her board lead [[SequelHook directly to CHS...]]]] It's still around in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirlsFriendshipGames'' and now has expanded to include elements from ''Rainbow Rocks'', such as a blurry photo of the Dazzling's siren forms, their broken {{Power Crystal}}s, the "Taco Tuesday" poster, and the giant rainbow column of light formed by the Humane Six and Sunset. It is heavily and closely featured in the opening credits.
* In ''Disney/{{Zootopia}}'' the ZPD bullpen has a map of Zootopia overlaid with photos of the 14 missing mammals complete with strings tying them to their last known location.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/TwentyOneJumpStreet'';
** PlayedForLaughs when Schmidt and Jenko create an elaborate web of students, with the supplier indicated by a question mark at the top.
--->'''Capt. Dickson:''' Who put this together, are you autistic?\\
'''Schmidt:''' It is artistic, sir.\\
'''Capt. Dickson:''' Cut the bullshit. I want to know who's the supplier.\\
'''Schmidt:''' We don't know. That's why there's a question mark on his face. [[CaptainObvious That's not the way his face looks, that's just a question mark]].
** In the second movie ''Film/TwentyTwoJumpStreet'', the web has all the suspects indicated with question marks.
* In ''Film/XMenFirstClass'', Erik has a minor one on the wall before going to the [[SwissBankAccount banker]].
* Leonard has one of all his current Polaroids in ''Film/{{Memento}}''.
* Holmes has quite an impressive string setup in ''Film/SherlockHolmesAGameOfShadows'', centering on Moriarty.
* The title character of ''Film/JohnCarter'' has one of these.
* A variation occurs in the film ''Film/{{Spider}}'' where the eponymous paranoid schizophrenic protagonist has a penchant for creating webs with bits of discarded string as he [[UnreliableNarrator investigates]] the death of his mother during his traumatic childhood. As befits his character, the strings never connect up anything useful and his notes are complete gibberish.
* In ''Film/ABeautifulMind'', John Nash creates these when investigating Communist infiltrations and conspiracies. [[spoiler:It all means nothing, however, as Nash is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.]]
* Peter Parker has one in ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan2''.
* In ''Film/TheBox'', the babysitter has maps and photos in her room, with red string connecting them all.
* In ''Film/Decoy2AlienSeduction'', one student has newspaper clippings, maps and photographs connected with string on a pinboard in his room.
* Billy makes one in ''Film/PowerRangers2017'' to help determine the location of the [[{{MacGuffin}} Zeo Crystal]]. It's three dimensional and takes up the entire basement, including the ceiling.

* In the Swedish original of ''Literature/TheGirlWithTheDragonTattoo'' (cf. ''Literature/TheMillenniumTrilogy''), Mikael Blomkvist investigates the mystery by assembling all the pieces of information on his wall and connecting them.
* ''Control'' by Victor Suvorov had the protagonist doing it as a part of her job in the ''secret'' SecretPolice, to track power groups within party, NKVD etc. First with photos on a stand connected by threads of relations, then she removed them all and remade as one interconnected web of small thumbnails all over several walls. It worked, though not as expected: a few bosses living in one city turned out [[RevealingCoverUp not to interact]] -- never met informally, nor even tried to bring each other down. Wherefore HilarityEnsues. The author was in military intelligence, after all.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': In ''Literature/WhiteNight'', Harry Dresden is investigating [[spoiler:his half-brother, Thomas]]. During the investigation, Harry snoops around the suspect's apartment, and stumbles onto one of these.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Showcased on ''Series/{{Homeland}}'' with Carrie doing this a lot. Justified in how her bipolar disorder causes her mind to be chaotic and she thus uses this to try and make some sense of things.
** Parodied beautifully on ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' in a skit where Carrie (Creator/AnneHathaway) is told to keep busy on an empty board.
-->'''Saul''': You don't trust her? Is it because she's a woman, David?
-->'''David''': Look at what she did to that coke-board in ten seconds! ''(cut to Carrie having filled every inch of the board with photos, maps and strings)''
* ''Series/{{Heroes}}'': Both Mohinder's map of specials, and Future Hiro's map of all time.
* ''Series/{{FlashForward|2009}}'', blatantly following in Heroes' footsteps with Mark's Blackout wall. [[spoiler: A case could be made for D. Gibbon's "Garden of Forking Paths" as well.]] Mark's wall turns out to be [[spoiler:the key to determining the time of the next blackout.]]
* ''Series/{{The Flash|2014}}'': Barry Allen has one of these devoted to his mother's murder -- which, ironically, may actually ''be'' related to particle physics (since most of the metahumans in the show got their powers from a particle accelerator malfunction in the the pilot episode).
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'', Time Fleet and the "Year of Hell" aliens has an automated version of this to keep up with their monkeying in the timescape.
* In the beginning of the second episode of ''Series/{{Alias}}'', Sydney is pressing CIA handler Vaughn on how in just six months, they can take down SD-6. Realizing she believes it, Vaughn has Sydney draw an organizational chart of SD-6, a large main circle with a half-dozen branches that fits on a piece of notebook paper. Giving Syd a look of pity, Vaughn takes down and unrolls a ''massive'' sheet of paper showing a huge chart of the true scope of SD-6. As she takes in the various connecting branches, Sydney is stunned to realize SD-6 is at least ten times larger than she thought it was...and it's just ''one'' of the cells of the Alliance.
-->'''Vaughn''': We started working on this five years ago. And all it's done in that time is grow.
* ''Series/{{Chuck}}'', [[spoiler:when he is keeping data of the Intersect and Orion on the back of his Tron Poster.]] Granted, it's in marker, but it's the thought that counts.
* ''Series/TheLostRoom'' has a couple maps of the objects, including how they supposedly relate to one another, and where they have been.
* The Major Crimes unit in ''Series/TheWire'' tends to have a pegboard like this for each of their main targets. Unlike many of these examples, it's actually realistically and sensibly organized, with strings connecting people based on their positions in the drug organization's hierarchy.
* ''Series/{{CSI}}'' has one. It was once PlayedForDrama in the episode ''"The Case Of The Cross-dressing Carp"'' when the mother of a victim saw one of the victims' friends (a scientist who was investigating the cause of [[spoiler: the water contamination which caused [[GenderBender the condition]] that caused him to be DrivenToSuicide]]) connected to him via a line and wrongly assumed he was a suspect [[spoiler: and shot him [[NiceJobBreakingItHero ending any chance of his work being used to prosecute]] the CorruptCorporateExecutive responsible for the water contamination]].
* ''Series/NewTricks'' has one. Most episodes have a few scenes with the main characters sat around and one of them explaining what they've just discovered. They once discovered that [[spoiler: a retired fireman who was helping them was an arsonist when they realised he would have been able to find his targets after seeing their board]].
* In an episode of ''Series/ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia'', Charlie makes one of these when he believes he's uncovered a corporate conspiracy while working in the mail room. It is one of the most well-known scenes in the show. [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nTpsv9PNqo]]
* ''Series/KamenRiderDouble'' uses these in a meta sense; the second episode of each mini-arc starts off with a "corkboard" that shows the characters from the first episode and how they connect. [[spoiler:Then ''Movie Wars CORE'' shows the origin of the corkboard in-universe.]]
* Nick sets up one of these in ''Series/{{Primeval}}'', trying to track the various anomalies across time and space. Later, [[spoiler:the characters discover a heavily upgraded holographic version of his chart brought from the future.]]
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'':
** A beautiful example of a string theory during the first season's first episode. The main character's missing father was investigating on a Woman in White, using his motel room's wall to externalize his deductive reasoning.
** Sam and Dean occasionally put these up in their motel rooms, which seems like a lot of effort for something you're going to have to take down in a few days.
*** For a certain kind of visual/tactile learner, this probably works as a form of ThinkingOutLoud, as well as playing into the old school sensibilities the brothers picked up from their dad. Tearing it down and breaking it apart at the end of a case is also probably pretty satisfying.
* The episode of ''Series/{{Castle}}'', "Linchpin", briefly displayed a room that looked very much like the page image, as belonging to a statistics genius -- the strings started at one murder, the branches were cause and effects, and they converged on [[spoiler:WorldWarThree]] at the other side. In particular, the researcher postulated that by committing the murder, all the effects would come to pass, though there are characters that doubt the accuracy of his predictions. [[spoiler: We never find out either way as the murder is thwarted.]]
** Castle himself sets one up in the seventh season, only the strings aren't intended to show a whole lot of crazy connections, just to track the movements of three people.
* Charlie Crews on ''Series/{{Life}}'' has an entire room dedicated to finding out who framed him for murder.
* In the pilot of the 2012 spy show ''Hunted'', the main character Samantha owns a rather "off-the-wall version" in her Scottish hideout.
* ''Series/{{Elementary}}'':
** In series 1, episode 13 of , Holmes is compiling one about Moriarty [[spoiler:after tearing down the one he made about Moran]]. The book-canon description of Moriarty as 'a spider at the centre of a web' makes these almost inevitable. [[MythologyGag For some reason,]] it also includes a picture of Napoleon Bonaparte.
--->'''Joan''': And Napoleon?\\
'''Sherlock''': By my fifth night without sleep, I may have been reaching.
** Sherlock does this a lot later in the series. One time it was PlayedForLaughs as the local Anonymous {{Expy}} asked him to write an essay on [[{{Literature/Twilight}} why Bella should have hooked up with Jacob instead of Edward.]] After putting it all on the board he comes to the conclusion [[OT3 all three should have been together.]]
* ''Series/DirkGently'': used for the opening credits. Dirk keeps one on the wall, on which he puts everything that has happened in the episode whether or not it's relevant [[spoiler:it's always relevant]], and which he is seen painting over in the pilot episode, for a case which references [[MythologyGag an "electric monk"]].
* John's home computer wall in ''Series/AlmostHuman'' displays an electronic version as he tries to work out how his girlfriend used him to get police information to an organised crime group.
* In ''Series/OrphanBlack'', the police detectives investigating the deaths of Katja and Beth, and Sarah's brief impersonation of them, put one of these together. It lacks the string (so far) but has all the other elements.
* The ''Series/{{Leverage}}'' crew put one of these together as part of a con once, to convince [[spoiler:an unscrupulous reporter]] that the government knew about a coming Apocalyptic event.
* [[TeamNormal Stiles]] is shown doing this in the fourth season opening for ''Series/TeenWolf''. He also has one in his room to help his dad solve cases, which Lydia sees him working on in season 3.
--> '''Lydia:''' What do the different coloured strings mean?\\
'''Stiles:''' Uh, they're just different stages of the investigation. So like, green is solved, yellow's to be determined, blue's just...pretty.\\
'''Lydia:''' What does red mean?\\
'''Stiles:''' Unsolved.\\
'''Lydia:''' You only have red on the board.\\
'''Stiles:''' Yes, I'm aware. Thank you.
* In the pilot of ''Series/PersonOfInterest'' we see a wall of photographs connected with strings in Finch's office.
* In ''Series/NCISNewOrleans'' King Pride has one in his private room when obsessively looking for Mad Midnight Bomber Baitfish. It was referred to as "the wall of crazy you got going on upstairs". Later ConspiracyTheorist Sebastian has this conversation:
-->'''Sebastian:''' I hear through the grapevine that you have a conspiracy wall?\\
'''King:''' No, no conspiracy anything.\\
'''Sebastian:''' Oh, you don't have to be bashful. I got several myself. One I'm currently working on ties the Illuminati to the owners of all 30 Major League Baseball teams. I got some extra string if you need it.
* ''Series/ASeriesOfUnfortunateEvents2017'''s opening credits features Lemony Snicket setting one of these up, based on his investigation into the Baudelaire orphans' lives. It's also shown in his hotel room in a couple episodes.
* The ''Series/{{Community}}'' episode "Competitive Ecology" has Chang create a laughably small one with only a couple piece of "evidence" linked by a single piece of yarn while investigating an imagined conspiracy. Despite this, the yarn proves to be a fire hazard and the evidence board as well as part of the school cafeteria burns down.
* ''Series/TheOppositionWithJordanKlepper'': Jordan's [[https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/opposition-a-closer-look-at-jordan-kleppers-murder-board-1043058 "murder board"]] is a major feature of his show. In one episode he comapres himself to Sean Hannity - [[https://pixhost.to/show/40/57689001_jorden-klepper-sean-hannity-conspiracy-boards.jpg "We both like our conspiracy boards"]].
* An episode of ''Series/TheLateShowWithStephenColbert'' had a critique of the [[https://youtu.be/jUiP543q35k GOP "Uranium One" chart]].
* A major subplot of ''Series/{{Forever}}'' has immortal Henry searching for what happened to his beloved wife, Abigail, who vanished in the 1980s. In a late season episode, Henry seems to have a clue but at the end, tells their adoptive son Abe that he's been held back too long by this and it's time to move on. Abe says he's happy and good for Henry. As soon as Henry leaves, Abe goes to a secret room in his basement to add this clue to the boards of evidence he's been collecting, revealing he's been investigating his mother's disappearance for years without Henry knowing.
* ''Series/Deception2018'', magician Cameron Black is thrown when his long-hidden twin brother Jonathan is framed for manslaughter by a mystery woman. At the end of the second episode, FBI agent Kay reveals that she's secretly been working on Jonathan's case, showing Richard a room with photos and files connecting it.
** It then cuts to London where that mystery woman has an entire windowed ''wall'' of her loft covered with more files and folders on the brothers with strings connecting several of them.
* In ''Series/FullFrontalWithSamanthaBee'' the Puerto Rico special had Creator/DavidDuchovny give a masterclass in [[https://youtu.be/nX97Z-7ERg4?t=2m35s conspiracy boards]] ("why does conspiracy yarn only come in red?")

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* The Loom of Fate from ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' looks a lot like this, with strings of fate representing the lives and destinies of all the beings under its purview.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{BioShock|1}}'', Andrew Ryan has one of these [[http://files.umwblogs.org/gamecult.umwblogs.org/files/2015/03/20121424/Would_You_Kindly.png in his office]] as an aid in figuring out who Jack is and why he's survived this whole time.
* Captain Price sets up one of these in ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare 3'' to track down Makarov. [[spoiler:After Soap's death, part of it doubles as a ShrineToTheFallen.]]
* There is one covering the walls of the [[spoiler:Task Force Aurora]] lab in the ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' DLC ''Leviathan''. Fitting, seeing how this is basically an organization of kooks who believed in aliens -- before the FirstContact. They have also believed in Reapers long before Shepard encountered Sovereign. In an aversion of the LawOfConservationOfDetail, some of the leads the team is following are {{Red Herring}}s that won't lead you to the objective. (In fact, if you try to cross-reference them all, you end up with no systems matching all the criteria. No wonder work was going slowly...) It's up to Shepard to either sort out which influences are genuine and which misleading, [[TakeAThirdOption or just go gallivanting around the galaxy]] in your CoolStarship and narrow the set of worlds down by yourself.
* The coroner in ''VideoGame/MysteryCaseFiles: Shadow Lake'' was using this method to try and figure out the mysterious deaths in her town. Cassandra Williams has a similar bulletin board in her motel room, but we never get a decent look at it so there's no telling if she was trying something similar or just trying to sort out the Ghost Patrol shooting schedule.
* In ''VideoGame/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice'', Bosco has it in his shop starting with season 2, detailing the connections between the villains from the previous season. It's rather outdated by that point, as {{lampshaded}} by Sam.
* In ''VideoGame/WatchDogs'', Aidan has one of these in the hotel room he's living out of. Oddly, he only references it a few times and you can't interact with it in-game at all.
* ''VideoGame/{{Prototype}}'' has a side quest where you must assimilate people in the "Web of Intrigue". Each person you assimilate will grant you their memories and give you a lead towards the next one in that web, thus slowly uncovering the truth behind the game's entire story.
* Henry in ''VideoGame/{{Firewatch}}'' does this when he and Delilah find the observation reports of them in the Wapiti site.
* One gradually appears on a wall in the Dreadful Wale in ''VideoGame/Dishonored2'' as Corvo/Emily, Megean Foster, [[spoiler:Sokolov and, if you save him, Stilton]] unravel Delilah and Abel's conspiracy.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In one ''Webcomic/QuestionableContent'' strip, when Faye is trying to explain the LoveDodecahedron of the main character's relationships to one another, her therapist stops her so she can get thumbtacks and colored string and diagram everything.
* In ''Webcomic/SandraOnTheRocks'', Eloise is shown [[http://www.sandraontherocks.com/strips-sotr/call_it_a_hunch here]] to have a fairly small string-map focused entirely on Sandra, who she [[TheResenter resents bitterly]].
* ''Webcomic/ScaryGoRound'': Girl detective Lottie [[http://www.scarygoround.com/?date=20171006 demonstrates use of a simple string diagram to track a suspect's relationships.]] It's somehow very in-character for her.
* As ''Webcomic/SkinHorse'' points out in [[http://skin-horse.com/comic/cabinet-your/ this strip,]] constructing a chart of your theories regarding the "shadow government" out of thumbtacks, string, and scrawled notes makes you look unhinged. There are much saner ways of doing it.
* In [[https://thenib.com/connect-the-dots this comic]] from ''The Nib'', a Trump supporter shows a string chart alleging a government conspiracy to start a witch hunt against Trump and impose socialism. The other person proposes a much simpler chart: Trump → is lying.
* Referenced in ''Webcomic/TrueVillains'', where a special TrackingSpell creates a [[http://truevillains.com/comic-2008-11-15~N-Twisted%20Web-jpg.htm web of strings]] representing people and events that influenced the target {{Golem}}'s existence over time, which the protagonists can trace back to identify the golem's creator.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Reddit's [[http://www.reddit.com/r/FanTheories/ Fan Theories]] (e.g., WildMassGuessing) community includes some string theory as its header decoration.
* Similar to the Web of Fate example above, with Exalted, in the ''Literature/WhateleyUniverse'', Jadis (She-Beast) uses a sort of string-and-pin "compass" to track the actions of Marzena, who wants to take possession of one of her fellow students. It goes crazy when a probability mangler strolls into the general area.
* WebVideo/ToddInTheShadows put one up for a gag when discussing Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling".
* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_v76eV55B8 "What Thor Was Doing During Captain America: Civil War"]]: In this {{Mockumentary}} (in the style of ''Film/WhatWeDoInTheShadows''), Thor (Creator/ChrisHemsworth) shows he has a pegboard about "What Are Infinity Stones?"
* ''WebVideo/JoueurDuGrenier'': In the special about old superheroes shows, Grenier is reduced to connect with strings the plot elements of the Japanese ''[[Series/SpiderManJapan Spider-Man]]'' series to make heads or tails of the first episode's story. Problem, he has no idea where Spider-Man fits in all of this.
* Vox's [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHrrjQ-zVO0 video]] explaining the history of TheIlluminati.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The Question has one of these in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeagueUnlimited''.
* ''WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien'': Jimmy has one of these going for alien encounters, specifically involving those with the Omnitrix insignia.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' episode "Bush Comes to Dinner," Roger determines Osama bin Laden's location by studying a variety of popular media which he's hung all over his attic. Cue the page quote.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': The FBI had one to show Homer Simpson to demonstrate the hierarchy of Fat Tony's mob. Emphasis on ''had''. Why, oh, why, did they have to pick that spot to keep their shredder?
* In ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'', Dipper has a bulletin board of clues to the identity of the author of the journals. At first he had dismissed Old Man [=McGucket=] as a candidate, but after finding his name in the author's laptop, he found that all the clues lead to him. [[spoiler:While a good theory, an ApocalypticLog reveals that [=McGucket=], back when he was lucid, merely helped the Author.]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/MiloMurphysLaw,'' Melissa has an entire room like this which she's using to get to the bottom of Murphy's Law.
* ''WesternAnimation/WeBareBears'': In "Creature Mysteries", Ranger Tabes is revealed to have a string board dedicated to Charlie the Sasquatch.
* ''WesternAnimation/TangledTheSeries'': In "One Angry Princess", Rapunzel creates a string chart while trying to prove that Attila didn't vandalize Uncle Monty's shop.
* ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales2017'': Webby, an avid fan of Scrooge and his adventures, has a board connecting the [=McDuck=] family tree.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* This is actually a decent way to demonstrate a relationship diagram for a database.
* Actual wall of string created by Australian serial killer John Bunting, which he called his "spider wall", and used to track the activities of people he would eventually murder. [[http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/09/08/1062901996929.html See here.]]