As You Know, one of the more obnoxious side-effects of creating a believable world in Speculative Fiction is Expospeak. Aha! I've got it! An alternative to using a narrator (or making characters look bat-shit crazy as they stand around talking to themselves) is to label everything so clearly that the audience can tell what it is without further explanation! Everything shall be Exactly What It Says on the Tin! Most ordinary things are not labeled like that in Real Life. While an Expo Label or two can help with the pacing, they can easily come across as silly and awkward. On the other hand, various scientific and technical fields are notorious for labeling everything in sight. Console gauges, dials and switches are often clearly marked, with broken components tagged as such to reduce costly (or potentially lethal) operator errors. Programming courses actually encourage you to label every single thing you code. And, obviously, medicine bottles have to tell you what's contained in them and how frequently you take doses of said medicine. Accordingly, the Big Red Button often has an Expo Label. Bonus points if it's handwritten on a piece of masking tape because the creator hasn't had the time or inclination to mount anything permanent.
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- These used to be painfully present in Superman comics. From Superdickery.com:
- One particularly strong example is the Floating Anti-gravity Bed of Krypton◊. Lois Lane sleeps on it while in Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Despite its label, she was still confused when she found it floating.
- Sensor Autodog◊. It looks like a dog and is used by the Science Police to hunt criminals by scent.
- Projector for Dematerializing Any Matter for One Minute◊. Perry White uses it and an Invisibility belt, both from Superman's Superhero Trophy Shelf.
- The Mechanical Brain◊. The cover of Flash Comics #52 show the title device with the Flash and other characters running around it.
- Luthor Android Hate Tapes◊. After Superboy defeats the Luthor Android he finds the labeled computer tapes inside it.
- Spare Robot-Parts◊. Strange Adventures #136, story "The Robot Who Lost Its Head". The cover shows a robot looking for its head on the labeled shelf.
- Super Powers Tester◊. In a Supergirl story she's shown working out on the title machine to check on her invulnerability, Super Strength and heat vision abilities.
- Superpussycat (formerly Superman) Habitat: Kryptonite Cage◊. Cover of "Lois Lane, Superman's Girlfriend" #70. As Lois Lane and Catwoman fight, the cage containing Superman is shown nearby.
- Convention of Anti-Superman Gang◊. Cover of ''Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen" #87. The title villains are shown voting whether Superman should be killed or not.
- Luthor Trap to Capture Superboy◊. Superboy, the narrator, and Luthor all lampshade how stupid the whole situation is.
- Tip of Mount Everest◊. A plane is shown approaching Mount Everest, with the pilot saying that they might have crashed into it if Superman hadn't put up the sign.
- News Machine◊. The title device is built into the side of a mountain. It shows an image of Jimmy Olsen crying, with two Humanoid Aliens commenting on it.
- See The News As It Happens◊. Cover of The Flash #210. A giant robotic robotic machine shows Abraham Lincoln being shot by John Wilkes Booth...in the year 2971.
- Soundproof Gestapo Headquarters◊. Cover of an issue of The Fighting Yank. For some reason the title headquarters has a sign that says it's soundproofed.
- Death-Ray Camera◊. The cover of Young Allies #5 shows a motion picture camera with with this label to tell the audience how dangerous it is.
- Giant Television◊. The Black Terror #12. The cover shows the title hero fighting Japanese soldiers on the television with some children looking on.
- Gang Lords' Clubhouse◊. Supergirl #6. The cover shows the interior of a gang headquarters with one of the gang members kissing the Maid of Steel.
- New York Tunnel◊. USA Comics #2. A horde of Nazi solders led by Adolf Hitler driving an underground boring machine) crash into a tunnel helpfully labeled so the audience knows where it is.
- Scott Pilgrim: Absolutely everywhere. The characters can see them as well.
Films — Animation
- During the chase scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Bennie the Cab yells for his passengers to "pull the lever!" Asked "which one?", a sign pops out of the dashboard, marked with a pointing arrow and "This Lever, Stupid!"
Films — Live-Action
- Lampshaded in the Doctor Who episode "The Age of Steel": Mickey and Jake are looking for the transmitter controls, and Mickey asks what it looks like. Jake responds sarcastically that it'll have a sign with "Transmitter Controls" in big red letters on it. It does.
- The old Batman TV show
- Almost everything in the Bat Cave had a label on it, especially with the "Bat" stuff.
- Episode "Ma Parker". The cells of Ma Parker and her criminal children each had a label with the occupant's name.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- The box of Rat Poison with "Rat Poison" on it.
- Also, their plan to attack the Mayor with a box labeled "Ebola".
- In Beakman's World, Beakman can always find the really dangerous stuff in the cabinet marked REALLY DANGEROUS STUFF.
- Everything — and we mean everything — in Look Around You, with those embossed red stickers that used to be used in laboratories. In one Credits Gag, a male scientist presents a female scientist (played by Sarah Alexander of Coupling fame) a box of chocolates labelled in this way, which included one item purporting to be sulphur.
- Castle: The NYPD wears bulletproof vests labeled "Police". In the second ep, Castle gets one custom-made... that's labeled "Writer".
- The helpfully labeled vests for law enforcement is Truth in Television in the US. Less so for crime novelists.
- The bins in the workshop in MythBusters are all carefully labeled. Some of them with rather odd contents. RAW MEAT, for example.
- Averted pretty much entirely through Star Trek's run. The Original Series simply omitted labels on buttons and such entirely. In the spin-off series, they were labeled with in-jokes, vague terms, and most often with a few random numbers. By the time DS9 and Voyager came around, the panels and buttons were shown using actual screens and the labels started becoming a little more descriptive. It helped that television quality had advanced to the point that people stood a good chance of being able to read them at that point.
- In Dilbert, somebody had to go around putting labels on things like coffee pots to comply with the ISO 9000 labeling standards. He also had "Stupid Label Guy" printed on his back. This may have been inspired by a Real Life incident in which everything in a lab was labelled for the benefit of a visiting executive. One of the labels covered a product logo which provided the same information (plus a brand name).
- In just about every Political Cartoon ever (I wonder what that giant monster represents?)
- Parodied on The Onion— in which political cartoons often feature children labeled "Innocent Kids", villains with labels like "Insensitive Citizens (Probably Seculars)" and "Today's Lazy Moms", and The Grim Reaper labeled with something random Ripped from the Headlines.
- Cracked and Chainsawsuit also made fun of it as well.
- Also parodied in the Discworld novel Making Money, where a cartoon in the Ankh-Morpork Times shows a group of literal fat cats in top hats, with a sign above them reading "The Banks". Vetinari comments "Subtle indeed."
- A The Far Side cartoon had a man standing in his yard after painting labels such as THE HOUSE, MY SHIRT, THE DOG, THE CAT on everything with a caption of "There! That should clear things up around here!"
- Gerry Anderson's shows take place in a very well-labeled future.
- Gunnerkrigg Court
- Girl Genius
- Many things are labeled in this world, especially in Castle Heterodyne. Many of those labels are hilarious. For example "Poison — Illiteracy reduction effort".
- In the Cinderella theater break, Agatha's miniature volcano has a labeled "innocent town" at its foot.
- In El Goonish Shive, these are sometimes used during Q&A segments.
- Edd, of Ed, Edd n Eddy, had everything in his room labeled.
- When Ned Flanders let The Simpsons borrow his summer cabin, he left these on everything, complete with "-diddly".
"He actually wrote '-diddly!'"
- This often appeared in the 1973/74 season of Superfriends.
- "The Androids"
- The Cape Courageous missile base control room has an alarm that's labeled "Alarm" and buttons that are marked "Don't Press" and "Danger".
- Dr. Rebos' food truck has a button labeled "Dining Room Open". Naturally it causes a dining room to open out of the back of the truck.
- "The Baffles Puzzle". The submarine that Aquaman finds has an air lock labeled "Air Lock".
- "The Balloon People". An obvious elevator has a giant "Elevator" label above it. Likewise, some launch tunes are labeled "Launch Tubes".
- "Dr. Pelagian's War"
- On the TroubAlert panel there's a slot labeled "Blow Ups". No, it doesn't make things explode - when a picture is slipped into it the computer blows it up to larger size.
- Dr. Pelagian's submarine has a side panel that opens and closes. It's labeled "Side Panel", "Open" and "Close".
- Dr. Pelagian's submarine also has a computer that's labeled "Computer".
- Miss Caraway's power plant has a building that contains freon gas. It's labeled - wait for it - "Freon".
- "The Fantastic Frerps"
- The Hall of the Justice League has: a box of letters (not the kind you mail, the kind you put on a blackboard to spell words) marked "Letters", a Data Collector section of the Justice League computer marked "Data Collector", and a spray can filled with Frerp solvent marked "Frerp Solvent".
- King Plasto's Elaborate Underground Base has quite a few: an egg storage room marked "Storage Room", an arena for creating Frerp eggs labeled "Frerp Arena", an entrance control panel marked "Entrance Control", and an obvious elevator with an "Elevator" label. At the end a number of buildings are created that are labeled "City Hall", "Barber Shop", "Library" and "City Jail".
- In "The Menace of the White Dwarf", Raven's ship has two of them. The device that controls the white dwarf's gravity is labeled "Gravity Control - On/Off". The lever that controls the speed of objects moved by the white dwarf is labeled "High Speed".
- "The Mysterious Moles". In the Hall of Justice a printer was labeled "Teletype".
- "The Planet Splitter".
- The galley in the spaceship has a door labeled "Galley".
- The guidance system for Jor-El's rocket is labeled "Guidance".
- During the Krypton Flash Back scene, in Jor-El's laboratory there's a Launch Control and Hanger Roof Door opener labeled "Launch Control" and "Hanger Roof Door".
- A door-lifting device (hidden inside a wall!) has the label "Automatic Door Opener".
- As with "The Balloon People", an obvious elevator has an "Elevator" label on it.
- At the end Wonder Dog goes to a room labeled "Justice League Commissary" and "Wonder Dog's Food Storage", with areas labeled "Steak Bones" and "Sausages" that hold those items.
- "The Power Pirate"
- In the electrical power plant the Power Input and Power Output devices are marked "Power In Put" and "Power Out Put".
- At the Hall of Justice the Super Friends' computer has a scan report device marked "Scan Report".
- A nuclear power plant has a "Nuclear Power Plant" sign on it.
- A button to automatically start the nuclear power plant is marked "Automatic Power Start".
- "Professor Goodfellow's G.E.E.C.". The following items have labels/signs with their names on them: "G.E.E.C. Dog House", "G.E.E.C. Freighter", "Warning Panel", "Taxi Steering Controls" and "South Gate".
- "The Shamon U"
- A room with a cable car in it is labeled Cable Car Room. The label is where everyone who can see the sign can also see the cable car.
- In Dr. Shamons's laboratory there's a control to alter the orientation of the giant U shaped magnet that's labeled "Shamon U" and a control to turn the turntable called "Turntable Control".
- In the Justice League headquarters the door to the Justice League laboratory has a "Justice League Laboratory" sign.
- "Too Hot To Handle"
- In Kobar's lab there's a control to activate the sun-orbiting quadrotronic Solar Robot that's titled "Solar Robot Space Station". There's also an alarm to alert him when someone's approaching the solar robot: it's labeled Solar Robot Warning".
- Doctor von Knowalot's laboratory in the City Observatory has a Data Collector marked "Data Collector".
- "The Ultra Beam". A spectroscope has the label "Spectroscope" on it.
- "The Watermen"
- Wonder Woman's plane has two different buttons to release her "Wonder Net". One is labeled "Net Release" and one is just labeled "Net" (probably a continuity error).
- In the speedboat that Robin, Marvin, Wendy and Wonder Dog use, the throttle is labeled "Throttle" and "Full".
- "The Weather Maker"
- A government building has: (a) a mail chute labeled "Mail Chute" (b) a container of nuclear fuel with "Nuclear Fuel" on it and (c) a Big Red Button with the label "To call police". Robin pushes it so the police will come and pick up some captured villains.
- The villains' ship has: (a) a dial with "Weather Power" on it (b) Controls for the jet stream labeled "Jet: Maximum, Minimum, Off" and "Off, On and Irreversibly On" (c) A nuclear power plant in with the label "Nuclear Power Plant".
- A building with a roof garden has a sign saying "Roof Garden" above the door leading to it.
- "The Androids"
- Bugs Bunny cartoons
- Hair-Raising Hare. The Mad Scientist's castle says "Evil Scientist" in blinking neon lights, and the monster's cell has "Monster" on the door.
- Hyde and Hare. In Dr. Jekyll's laboratory the Laboratory door says "Laboratory" and the Store Room door says "Store Room". Why he would need those signs when he works there is not explained.
- Birdman episode "The Constrictor". In the title villain's submarine is an escape hatch which is helpfully labeled "Escape Hatch" to let the audience know what it is.
- Space Ghost
- "The Space Ark". Inside the title ship there's a control to activate the Force Shield, with a label that says "Force Shield".
- "Two Faces of Doom". The Force Beam control switch in Brak's ship is labeled "Force Beam".
- How not to mistake the red wire from the blue wire. While this might appear oxymoronic, it's actually a sensible precaution in case the person working on the wiring is colour blind.
- Blood drive coolers will often have a large red label that reads "HUMAN BLOOD"
- Claymore mines, which are designed to explode and send a wave of shrapnel in a wide arc away from a defensive line, are helpfully labeled on the business end: "FRONT TOWARDS ENEMY". That'd be an embarrassing thing to get backwards.
- Anybody who buys a label maker is, in many jurisdictions, legally obligated to label the label maker itself right off. And everything else around them. For about a week.