You're on one side of a medieval or fantasy battle or castle siege, and you want to deliver a message to someone on the opposing side. How to do it? Write your note on a scrap of paper, tie it to an arrow shaft, and have a friendly archer send it on its way. Bonus points if you hit an enemy mook on the receiving end.
If the note is wrapped around a brick or rock instead, and then tossed through a convenient window, it's Window Pain
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Anime and Manga
- Episode 14 of the Little Lulu anime, but with a toy arrow.
- Ranma One Half. One episode has Ranma deliver a note to Tsubasa in this manner to ask him on a date, unaware that Tsubasa was a boy! And, in the Waterproof Soap episode, Shampoo also sends a forged letter from "Akane" to Ryoga in the same fashion.
- In Yaiba, the Spiderman tries to send Kojiro's challenge to Yaiba with arrows. However, Yaiba thinks they're part of the training he's doing so he ignores them or deflects them.
- In Rurouni Kenshin, the Hiruma Brothers are tasked with sending such a message to Higashidani (Sanosuke's true father). The old man casually grabs it before it can even hit him, read the message and casually throws it away, hitting the older brother squarely in the ass.
- In an early chapter of School Rumble, Tenma tries to deliver a love letter to her would-be boyfriend, Karasuma, this way. (They are living in modern-day Tokyo.) She keeps peppering him with arrows while he dodges without even noticing, and he never even spots the letters.
- Used in Lucky Luke stories featuring Indians; one time the sheriff finds out when he takes the arrow in the rear.
- In Big Fat Kill from Sin City, Miho delivers a note to Manute and his crew this way.
- The Grey Smurfs sent arrowgrams to the Smurfs prior to attacking them, hoping that they would surrender, in The Smurfs comic book story "The Smurf Threat".
- The Forest of Hands and Teeth has two sets of characters living in treehouses for a brief period of time, unable to go to the ground or hear each other over the din of the zombies. The only means of communication is by arrow and letter (and given one of the communicating character's poor aim, this isn't so easy).
- At the beginning of the Lord Darcy novel A Study in Sorcery by Michael Kurland, a company of English soldiers are escorting a group of Native Americans through the lands of another tribe with whom they have a bad history. The chief of the local tribe sends a message arrow into the tent of the head soldier, warning him that they plan to attack and giving him a chance to withdraw his men. (History being somewhat different in this series, the messages is written in formal English on mass-produced notepaper with a printed letterhead.)
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Making Money. Moist von Lipwig receives a message by black arrow with impeccable italic enamelling in white down the side: The Guild of Assassins. Where style counts.
- In Ivanhoe, Robin Hood's merry men use a relay of bowmen to transfer messages.
- Kung Fu: "Besieged Part Two: Cannon at the Gate." The Mole communicates with the besiegers via flaming arrow - the flame is so they can see where the arrow is headed and go pick it up after it lands.
- A 1950s episode of The Adventures of Robin Hood in which Robin (Richard Greene) sends a message via a flaming arrow. When someone asks, in lieu of the audience, if the message won't get burned up too, he replies that it'll slide to the back of the shaft in flight.
- The Count does this in Young Dracula, tying a note proclaiming a blood fued to a flaming arrow and shooting it at the Branaghs. However, the burn damage the note sustains causes half the message to be unreadable and Graham Branagh thinks it's a note asking him to examine Dracula's drains. Hilarity Ensues.
- Sidereals in Exalted have a charm that lets them explicitly shoot messages (among other things).
- This happens twice with a flaming arrow in the Sentai parody "Rolling Bomber Special".
- In the Homestar Runner animation "A Folky Tale", Saddy Dumpington gets one of these.
- During World War II, on the Eastern Front a modern version was sometimes used by the Red Army: when radio communication wasn't available or forbidden because of stealth, dud Katyusha missiles were used to deliver mail.