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Exposition Beam
Who needs Translator Microbes when your Robot Buddy can make you bilingual?

When Back Story or other crucial information needs to be delivered quickly from character to character (and we do mean quickly, Talking Is a Free Action is not in effect), some characters will use telepathy, holograms, or direct-to-brain downloads to inform others. This also has the benefit of making even the staunchest skeptic at least give the expositor the benefit of the doubt, especially when they have up until this point been living under the Masquerade.

It's worth noting though that the difference between this and brainwashing are few. If instead of real memories they beam Fake Memories, coupled with Laser-Guided Amnesia, then the receiver may just think they've only been targeted by an Exposition Beam that served as an Epiphany Therapy.

Interestingly, this happens so quickly it functions like a justified case of Talking Is a Free Action.

Compare Upgrade Artifact which gives a character whole new abilities, and Storyboarding the Apocalypse, where a villain will have their planned doomsday appear in surreal slide show form.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  
  • The Laughing Man on Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex does this with the Major to instantly convey everything he knows. In this case it's technology, since they both have cyberbrains.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! invokes this when Negi decides to tell Asuna about his past. It's then subverted, as the resultant Pensieve Flashback takes longer than if he would have just told her. Of course, actually watching what happened is much more interesting and the in-story time may well have been shorter.
  • The Book of Darkness in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's did an accidental one to Hayate when it awakened and took control of her, letting the latter gain insight on what had been really happening behind her back and figure out how to put a stop to the entire mess.
  • When Goku finally reaches Namek in Dragon Ball Z, he's able to initiate a mind-meld with Krillin to catch up on the arc's events in this way. This ability has never been mentioned before and never will be again.
    • Korin and Master Roshi use similar powers after Goku's first fight with Tao Pai Pai and during the first tournament, respectively.
  • Recent chapters of D.Gray-Man have the Noah of Wisdom, Wisely using one of these to show Kanda's memories to Alma Karma, in an attempt to wake him up, and accidentally making Allen and Road watch the backstory too. This being DGM, it rapidly becomes clear why Kanda won't talk about his past.
  • When reporting back to the Big Bad after his first appearance in Bleach, Ulquiorra plucks out one of his eyes and crushes it into shards of dust, which everyone present absorbs to see what he's seen.
  • Played with in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Asuka's back story, which we had no explicit knowledge of, comes out with a literal beam that portrays her Horrific Tragic and Woobie-riffic courtesy of Arael, THE Mind Rape Angel.
  • In the first episode of Code Geass R2, C.C. undoes Charles's Geass and restores Lelouch's memories of being Zero by kissing him.
  • In Sailor Moon
    • In the first season, the Silver Imperium Crystal acts as this by restoring the Sailor Scouts' memories of the Silver Millennium period.
    • In the second season, Luna pulls one of these on each of the Sailors in order to restore their memories.
    • She does not, however, do so for Tuxedo Mask (as parodied in Sailor Moon Abridged).

     Comic Books 
  • In the Marvel Universe Crossover event House of M, the entire world is "reformatted", and everyone on Earth has their memory altered so that they don't remember the world as it once was. Conveniently, somebody finds a mutant whose power is to restore people's memories back to normal by touching them.
    • This was parodied in the form of "Layla MacGuffin" in this web animation by Matt Gardner.
      "My name is Layla MacGuffin, and I have the power to advance slow moving plotlines!"
  • During Grant Morrison's run on the Justice League, Martian Manhunter had this ability. He once shoved Martian piloting skills into Batman's brain so he could handle a Martian ship. One may be surprised to find out Batman hadn't already learned how to pilot one just in case.
    • He had, he was just being nice to J'onn and letting him show off his powers.
  • In Letter Bee, Lag Seeing has a unique power, apparently from the Spirit Amber in his eye, that enables him to view and show others' memories by firing heart bullets. Typically, this results in him learning the conflicts behind a letter sender, and helping someone else realize the truth (for example, that Jiggy Pepper didn't abandon his friends, but worked to build a church in their Yodaka town). He also sometimes ends up showing his own past, such as when he showed Gauche his mother's abduction.

     Film 
  • The page picture is from Battle for Terra. Giddy (the robot) is giving Mala a direct to brain download of the English language so she can talk to downed pilot Jim Stanton, in exchange for her help in saving his life.
  • Dark City has an Exposition Syringe. Doctor Schreber wants to give John a fighting chance against the reality warping Strangers, so he fills the Syringe with both exposition and a lifetime of experience in using his matter manipulating powers. Carnage ensued.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as a reward for bringing back the skull to its body Irina wanted it to “show me everything.” That did not end well.
  • In Outlander, the spaceship's computer informs Kainan that he's crashed in ancient Norway, then somehow beams the Norse language into his brain via his eyeballs. The process is extremely painful.
  • Vulcan Mind Melds on Star Trek. A lot. Specifically, Spock Prime does it to Kirk on the ice planet in the new Star Trek movie.
  • In the original Total Recall (1990), Kuato does this to unlock Quaid's locked memories. In a sense, the story itself is set in motion because the Fake Memory implanting machines in the Rekall center jostle Quaid's hidden memories (or worked perfectly).
  • Dr. Manhattan was given Exposition Beam as a superpower for the movie version of Watchmen, so that exposition could be delivered more quickly.
  • In the movie version of The Green Mile, John Coffey does this to Tom Hanks' character by grabbing his hand and showing him a vision of what Wild Bill did.
  • In "Battlefield Earth" the feral humans are educated with an alien device, nominally to assist them in mining valuable minerals but in reality giving them knowledge of the alien language, care and feeding of advanced weapons as well as the means to engineer their oppressor's downfall.
  • The pensieve in Harry Potter lets a wizard store their memories for safe keeping or for anyone else to see. More like an exposition chafing dish, but it generally serves the same function.
  • In TRON, and especially in TRON: Legacy, the identity discs contain the knowledge and personality of their user, and they can transmit this information to anyone holding it or through certain interfaces.. The plot revolves around Clu trying to get Kevin Flynn's disc so that he can use the information coded on it to invade the real world.
  • Men In Black II has the Deneuralizer, which undoes what the Neuralizer does.

     Literature 
  • In the Flinx and Pip series, Flinx does this on several occasions when characters (for some reason) stubbornly refuse to believe his claims not only to know about an Ultimate Evil approaching the galaxy from megaparsecs away, but to have seen it in person. Fortunately, his unique Psychic Powers enable him to carry doubters along for the ride, bringing them up to speed very quickly — when it doesn't destroy their minds. In fact, he earns a CMoA in Flinx Transcendent for doing this to the AAnn Emperor and his entire high council.
  • Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. The female protagonist has an implanted memory that activates at a suitable moment of the plot.
  • In the Owl trilogy of the Heralds of Valdemar series, the protagonists are allies of a species of sentient, telepathic deerlike creatures called dyheli. Their Psychic Powers are such that their leader can download an entire language into a character's head, granting instant fluency. The languages conveniently come with memories for explaining context, and the ability is occasionally used with other information as well.
  • In Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, where brain uploading is a reality, the keepers of Disney World are working on a more Exposition Beam-like version, where you can go to the Hall of Presidents and come away with the impression of having been Abraham Lincoln.
  • In the first Animorphs novel, Tobias stays behind with Elfangor for a bit longer than the others and gets a blast of random information, including how Yeerk pools work. Elfangor also demonstrates the abilities to show the Animorphs mental pictures as well as talk to them telepathically. Other than the existence of Yeerk pools, none of this ever comes up again.
    • One book features the Iskoort, who buy and sell memories (among other things). It basically involves copying somebody's mind and then letting other people download it. The Animorphs plus Erek see some Howler memories and wind up selling their own to get by. These memories are later used to give the Howlers a species-wide Heel-Face Turn, since Crayak had previously kept them ignorant of other species' sapience.
  • Skylark Series: headsets are frequently used to transfer knowledge and skills directly from one brain to another, either as education, or as interrogation.
  • A Fire Upon the Deep from Vernor Vinge's Zones of Thought Trilogy has "godshatter", which is basically a massive Exposition Beam from Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. It would probably be super helpful if the seemingly random jumble of information didn't turn the person into an erratic, drooling savant for most of the time.

     Live Action TV  
  • Smallville. In the episode "Relic", Jor-El stores his memories in a pendant that Clark calls a "type of journal". When Clark has it, touching something that Jor-El touched allows him to see parts of Jor-El's visit to Smallville in 1961.
  • In Stargate SG-1, O'Neill gets an entire archive of Ancient knowledge downloaded into his brain in a matter of seconds. Twice.
    • The title artifact in The Ark of Truth used to turn the priors away from the Ori through their telepathic network is either a weaponized form of this or Brainwashing.
  • The entire premise of Chuck revolves around a method to download large amounts of information into human brains via a series of seemingly random images flashing on multiple screens.
  • In the television series based on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent is given this treatment during his trip to Magrathea.
  • The Doctor Who episode "The Lodger" involved the Doctor pretending to be human. When his flat-mate caught him and demanded to know what was going on, the Doctor telepathically filled him in by smacking their foreheads together.
    • In Galaxy Four, one of the Rills does this to show the companion Vicki how the Rills wound up stuck on the planet.
    • In "The Three Doctors", this is how the Third Doctor gets his past self up-to-speed on the situation.
    • The Sixth Doctor does this with another Timelord in the Apocalypse Element audio adventure.
  • In Star Trek, the Vulcan mind-meld was used this way at times.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, In perhaps the most extended example of this, Picard was able to live an entire life as a member of an alien species whose sun went supernova. The last thing the species did was send a probe into space that would allow someone else to live as a member of their world so that their culture would live on in the person's mind.
  • Vorlons (and other telepaths) in Babylon 5 can do this. Kosh hits Sheridan with one in the second season, and Lyta does it to Number One in the fourth season.
    Kosh: Sheridan. Learn.
  • Andy Richter Controls The Universe did it with food.
    "Eat this cupcake, it'll explain everything!"
  • Kalem persuades Will not to go back home by showing him his dog's memories of his parents being killed.

     Video Games  
  • In Flashback, Conrad retrieves a backup copy of his memory through this very method. It's even on the title screen.
  • World of Warcraft: Instead of describing his vision of the destruction of Argus to his friends, Velen shares it telepathically.
  • Played with in Mass Effect. The Protheans left behind artifacts that did this to warn of the Reaper threat, but fifty thousand years and incompatible physiology left nothing behind but fractured images and incomplete information that made the newfound messenger sound like a crazy person. Naturally that "crazy person" is Commander Shepard.
  • The "official" Transcendence victory in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri begins with blasting all the knowledge cranked out by Humankind from prehistory to 2600 into Planet's nascent Hive Mind in an attempt to make it intelligent enough to regulate the native life's growth.
  • The gameplay of the first Echo Night has this as a major gameplay feature. Stranded on a Flying Dutchman populated by shades, Richard must experience their memories in order to determine how to solve puzzles and help them rest in piece.
  • One village in Dragon Quest VII has been completely Taken for Granite, which makes the usual Talk to Everyone difficult to achieve... until you figure out how to experience their Flashbacks.
  • In Diablo III, Tyrael shows Leah the events that lead to his self-exile, including the part where he tore off his own wings.
  • In StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Zeratul informs Kerrigan of the existence and coordinates of the Zerg's ancestral homeworld Zerus by grabbing her face in his hand (while she's trying to beat him half to death) and psychically implanting the knowledge directly into her brain.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D During one of the dream segments in The World That Never WasSora sees Roxas, who proceeds to transfer EVERY SINGLE memory from his life over to the poor kid just by grabbing his hand. It nearly gives poor Sora a seizure

    Web Comics 
  • Subverted in Starslip (for bonus points, that's the guy who's responsible for enforcing their version of the Prime Directive)
  • In El Goonish Shive, the Uryuoms can transfer any language (but only languages, no other type of knowledge) to or from anyone else by rubbing their antennae on the other person's forehead.

    Western Animation 
  • Used in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Return Of Harmony" to undo the effects of Discord's corrupting influence; Twilight Sparkle first gets a load of flashbacks to moments of friendship via letters being returned to her, which undoes her own Break the Cutie, then uses magic to force those flashbacks on her brainwashed friends to free them.

Expo LabelExpositionExposition Break
Explosive OverclockingApplied PhlebotinumFailsafe Failure

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