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Great Big Book of Everything

"Our friends need our help! Please turn to the time travel section of your Fireside Girls Handbook."
Isabella Garcia-Shapiro, Phineas and Ferb

The Great Big Book of Everything: The one-stop shop for all your plot needs. Need information about the super-power you've just been given? On the first page. Want to find the only way to kill the Big Bad? It has a detailed entry.

Whoever wrote this book must have damn-near infinite knowledge. It has all the facts you need and has them at the moment you need them! In fact, it seems like new information just appears in the book all the time, as the plot requires.

Every villain, even the really tiny ones, or the ones who have been sealed away so long that humans shouldn't have even heard of them, has an entry; every spell has a description; every fact and oddball bit of information in the whole universe is listed, if only you look hard enough. While this is a plausible plot point for a while, eventually you have to ask, who wrote this stuff? Did John Winchester really know all the information in his journal? If so, why are his sons following it to living monsters rather than ones he killed? Could the Halliwell ancestors really have known about the upper echelons of demon society? Creatures that never set foot on earth? All those cosmic entities that never show themselves to mortals are somehow in the book.

Effectively an Omniscient Database in paper format, it provides the information to the cast so that they can keep the plot moving without spending hours sifting through a library. Sure, some of it is an Ass Pull, but it helps us get to the ass-kicking.

This also appears in a lot of video games, usually as a "guidebook" or similar phrase. It always has everything you need to know to get out of any situation the programmers threw in there that you could conceivably be stuck on, even if they sometimes appear to be riddles. In this case, new information may even literally appear as the plot demands, the entry for each location, item, enemy or other piece of interest only readable after you have encountered it.

Compare with Great Big Library of Everything and Tomes of Prophecy and Fate. Contrast Blank Book. If it's evil, then it's a Tome of Eldritch Lore. Supertrope to Big Book of War. This trope is Do-Anything Robot in book form — and YOU do the Anything! May be quoted from and result in a Sparse List of Rules.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yue Ayase's Orbis Sensualium Pictus in Mahou Sensei Negima! is this, complete with an actual book that finds everything she needs. In Negima!?, Nodoka's "Armor" power has the same ability.
    • Material in the manga (vol. 16) reveals that it's actually tapping in a magical version of the Internet, which can be both an advantage and a flaw: Information is always up-to-date, but you risk losing data "arbitrarily deemed of lesser importance". She has no problem accessing highly classified information, though.
  • In Pokémon, Brock likes carrying around "Guide Books" in which he looks up vital information about tournament rules or opportunities to eat or shop. He also has a separate guidebook containing accurate details on female celebrities.
    • James uses a bunch of Pokemon cards in place of a Pokedex.
  • Tao, in the '80s toon The Mysterious Cities of Gold had an encyclopedia from the civilization that built the Seven Cities of Gold. Used more for plot exposition than Deus ex Machina.
  • The Universe of the Four Gods books in Fushigi Yuugi.
  • Bokomon's Book of Knowledge in Digimon Frontier mostly fits this, although it doesn't seem to have data on things that have never existed before (including the final forms of the heroes and villain).
  • The Clair Bible in Slayers NEXT, or at least the manuscripts of it. The actual Clair Bible turned out to be something a little more complex.
    • The manuscripts handled this fairly realistically: most seem to be monographs, with little or no information on other subjects(and thus could easily be part of a massive library). The trope's slightly deconstructed when we find an attempt to make a complete manuscript, thoughnote .
    • Xellos also carries a more mundane example, a great big travel guide of every little town.
  • What Noah from Soul Eater is trying to do. He sucks anything interesting into his book. Anything up to (so far) and including the son of the Anthropomorphic Personification of Death, who may or may not be the Anthropomorphic Personification of Order. He also has at least one Cthulhu trapped in the book.also Noah is actually created by the Book's tables of Contents as he is nothing but a personification of the seven deadly sins.
  • It's teenage delusions we're talking about, but Sanae from Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! believes Mabinogion, a tome she "received" from a certain "Forest Summer", is one.
  • In Pretty Cure All Stars New Stage 2, Big Bad Kage used a book that contained everything about the previous seven Pretty Cure teams. He used it to avoid their attacks, then steal away their fairy companions and transformation devices. Too bad it didn't help when Mana and her friends came along.

    Comicbooks 
  • The Junior Woodchuck Guidebook in Disney's Uncle Scrooge comics (and subsequently in Ducktales) (and any other Duck story where it is needed. It is always there when a Junior Woodchuck needs it). A lengthy Don Rosa story-arc once revealed that it had been condensed from the entire content of the Great Library of Alexandria (with the lost history of South America and Asia added later). The library was a storehouse of ancient knowledge that was tragically lost to history through a series of disasters, culminating in a fire during the time of the Roman Empire.
    • The aspect of the Guide containing more text than could possibly fit into a single volume is usually explained by saying that there are actually numerous volumes that make up the complete Guide, just like any large encyclopedia. How they always happen to have exactly the volumes of the Guide applicable to the topic at hand, though, is handwaved.
    • One Donald Duck-magazine story had Donald getting annoyed at the book's seemingly infinite wisdom and asked the Woodchucks about who the author was. Cue panic as not even the top generals know. They then had to keep Donald tied up so he would not go to the newspaper with the information that "the Woodchucks follow advice that could as well be made up". In the end they do find the author's house, but decide that knowing who he is will ruin the magic behind the mystery. The shadowy author is then seen looking at them as they leave, contemplating that "if my book contains better knowledge than that, then I don't know it myself".
    • Interestingly, there's an occasion where the book was missing something - in "A Letter From Home", it doesn't list the order of the heads of the Knight Templar, much to their shock.
    • In another story it was discovered that it doesn't cover information that the Woodchucks are supposed to have learned in school, and will flat-out tell them it.
    • One interpretation by the German fans' group D.O.N.A.L.D. says that Carl Barks had a vision of Duckburg (which really exists, in Another Dimension or so), but the "book" he saw in his vision was really a kind of smartphone, and its pages were more like wiki pages - but since those didn't exist on Earth at that time, he drew a book instead.
    • The impossibly vast amount of knowledge contained in the Guide has actually backfired on the boys on at least one occasion. In the Five-Episode Pilot of DuckTales, they try to look up how to stop their plane from crashing, and they can find the entries for driving or flying all sorts of obscure vehicles except "an ordinary airplane!"
    • Magica de Spell had a spell book which was much more like a traditional Book of Shadows. The nieces once got hold of it by accident when it was switched in the grocery store with Aunt Daisy's old recipe book. They mixed up one of the formulas, which attracted a dragon; there was an entry on this, too; "To get rid of a dragon, say 'Odds bodkins and green-eyed goblins!'" Meanwhile, Magica was turning out delicious cupcakes, to her uttermost disgust.
  • The Book of Oa of the Green Lanterns Corps. Later on there's see the Book of Parallax of the Sinestro Corps and the Book of the Black, though these last two are more like a Tome of Eldritch Lore.
  • The Abstract in Runaways
  • Marvel Comic's Doctor Strange owns (or owned) the Book of the Vishanti, containing any spell or obscure tidbit of mystical information he might need. There is also its opposite ''The Darkhold''. Each contains spells or information to perfectly counter something in the other.
  • Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series features Destiny of the Endless, who has a book chained to his arm that details everything that has ever happened, or ever will happen.
  • One appeared in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond, and was so heavy that Superman and Captain Marvel working together could barely lift it.
    • And it was only a single page, said to contain every page created in all possible realities. Ultraman read enough of it to be driven insane.
  • The Absorbacon in Silver Age Hawkman comics. This is a device that captures all the information known by any mind on a planet, and then allows Hawkman and Hawkgirl to access it. Its primary weakness is that it doesn't update when new things happen.
  • In the first issue of the Stanley and His Monster mini-series, Stanley finds The Heterodyne Boys Big Book of Fun in his attic. Every adult Stanley shows it to seems to have fond memories of it, but hasn't seen a copy in years, and it appears to contain instructions on how to build almost anything.
  • The Book That Tells Everything from The Smurfs comic book story "The Smurfs And The Book That Tells Everything". It's capable of answering every question and solving every problem, except that it never warns the consulter of the book the consequences of using its solutions.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Parodied in the Kingdom Hearts fanfic Those Lacking Spines with the ever-handy guidebook which contains anything the protagonists need to know about a given world.
  • In the Total Drama Island fanfic Keepers of the Elements there are The Elemental Books which contains all sorts of spells which each Keeper along the line either invented or improved upon.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Twi and Me, Twilight Sparkle owns The Encyclopaedia Equestria Book of Facts (with the subtitle "They’re Totally Fun!"), which is basically a huge book full of trivia about just about anything, including manticores, hippogriffs, or oatmeal.
    • Speaking of ponies fanfics, A Brief History of Equestria has the Articles of Command, a law book for the Celestine Junta (the Pegasus government before the founding of Equestria), which is described as 8"x20" (20cmx50cm), consists of over 1600 pages, weighs forty pounds, and has 300 articles at least (the US Constitution has 7, not counting any that may be in the 27 ammendments), which covers (among other things one would assume) in no uncertain terms was is considered inside and outside the Commander's powers, and what to do when a Commander shows signs of turning into a Tyrant, right down to the methods of execution and how to dispose of the body. Not bad for a Stratocracy.
    • Parodied in "Twilight Sparkle Discovers Wikipedia". In this story The Other Wiki manifests as a magical talking book that uses flattery and its ease of use to tempt Twilight into using it. Princess Celestia hates it because it makes research too easy, and assignments must be long and tedious to prevent students from questioning the pointless busywork teachers give them.
  • Queen Of Shadows has The Histories of Eternal Shadow, a massive book containing the complete history and knowledge of the Shadowkhan race. Among other things, it lists biographies of every Queen and every Yojimbo, as well as all the important rituals that future Queen need to be able to perform.

    Films 
  • The Map of time in Time Bandits tells the protagonists where all the holes in the universe are, and drives the plot. Whenever the heroes get stuck they consult the map.
  • The "Sex Bible" from American Pie. Though, as the name suggests, its contents deal almost exclusively with sex positions. It's an interesting variation in that it's clearly been edited and updated by everyone it's been passed down to... meaning it's a Paper Wiki!
  • MirrorMask both lampshades and plays this straight with A Really Useful Book. The book, a small pocket sized volume that appears to have some degree of sentience, consists of various pieces of advice written on its pages. In addition, the book always opens the relevant page. In fact, after Helena is forced to tear out most of the book's pages, the one page she didn't tear out still contains a piece of relevant advice. A repeated piece of advice, but still useful.
    • More obviously lampshaded, yet (somehow) simultaneously played straighter, with a book Helena comes across earlier in the same library: The Complete History of Everything. More useful for exposition than immediate advice, though.
  • Tobin's Spirit Guide from Ghostbusters and its related media.
  • Dana Carvey's The Master of Disguise features a pop-up book which provides extremely specific information relating to any situation at hand on whichever page is randomly opened to.
  • Beetlejuice - Handbook for the Recently Deceased
  • The Book of Secrets from the second National Treasure movie. Filled with almost everything a conspiracy nut would love, and more on top of that. Most importantly the information the team is currently looking for, and, a hidden detail on page 47, which may come into play in the third film, if one ever comes out.
  • Max's dream journal from The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.
  • Discussed by Richard in 1980 The Blue Lagoon, when he wishes that one day a book fell from the sky with answers to every question.
  • In Lt Robin Crusoe USN, the title character ends up in a raft with the U.S. Navy survival manual, "Survival at Sea and Like It". Viewers hear its voice, and it covers some... unconventional topics, and gives some rather specific advice.
  • Back to the Future Part II: Old Biff picks up Gray's Sports Almanac in 2015 and delivers it to himself in 1955. The book reports the results of every major sporting event from 1950 to 2000, and yet it's thin enough to be confused with Biff's girlie magazine.
  • The Prussian Army's Big Book of Instructions from Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.

    Literature 
  • O.Henry's short story The Handbook of Hymen features the Herkimer's Handbook of Indispensable Information, a possible Ur Example. To quote:
    I may be wrong, but I think that was the greatest book that ever was written. I've got it to-day; and I can stump you or any man fifty times in five minutes with the information in it. Talk about Solomon or the New York Tribune! Herkimer had cases on both of 'em. That man must have put in fifty years and travelled a million miles to find out all that stuff. There was the population of all cities in it, and the way to tell a girl's age, and the number of teeth a camel has. It told you the longest tunnel in the world, the number of the stars, how long it takes for chicken pox to break out, what a lady's neck ought to measure, the veto powers of Governors, the dates of the Roman aqueducts, how many pounds of rice going without three beers a day would buy, the average annual temperature of Augusta, Maine, the quantity of seed required to plant an acre of carrots in drills, antidotes for poisons, the number of hairs on a blond lady's head, how to preserve eggs, the height of all the mountains in the world, and the dates of all wars and battles, and how to restore drowned persons, and sunstroke, and the number of tacks in a pound, and how to make dynamite and flowers and beds, and what to do before the doctor comes—and a hundred times as many things besides. If there was anything Herkimer didn't know I didn't miss it out of the book.
  • Compliments of the Author by Lewis Padgett. A short story whose very small Great Big Book of Everything has 50 sentences total, exclusive of greeting to each new user. Oh, I beg you, read this story. If one person reads this story, the hours I've spent and will spend at tvtropes are justified.
  • The Sword of Truth series features Kolo's journal. First discovered in a hidden alcove in the Wizard's Keep in the third book, the journal provides information on dream walkers and the great war 3,000 years ago. In later books in the series, it seems even though the main characters have not one, but several, libraries of forbidden lore to consult, good ol' Kolo's scribblings are the first book they reference.
  • With a twist: The Fire-Us Trilogy has the children, brains highly scrambled from the trauma of the virus, believing that a simple scrapbook is their Great Big Book of Everything, and that anything found in there will help them. The book's owner even forgets that she has pasted items inside it moments before, and claims that she has "found them" in the book.
  • The Atlas in Garth Nix's The Keys To The Kingdom, which was written by the Architect for the Rightful Heir. Interestingly, the Atlas appears to be sentient, and it only shows the information its reader asks for. It also tailors its answer to what best suits the reader - when the protagonist first saw a strange, harmless looking creature, the Atlas saved his life with a succinct reply - 'Scoucher - run!'. In sufficiently hurried and splattered handwriting, no less. Quite a benevolent tome, the Atlas.
  • Garth Nix's Old Kingdom books feature a classic Great Big Book of Everything, called the Book of the Dead. It seems to have a finite (but very large) number of pages, but nobody's sure; they do know it contains everything one needs to know about Necromancy- but you can only let it fall open to the passage it wants to, can only turn as many pages at a time as you really need to, and won't remember what you read afterwards until you have to. Since this is not a unique artifact, it does raise the interesting question of where new copies come from. The only constant is the last page, which contains the Arc Words.
    • It's made clear that only a Necromancer can open the Book, and only an uncorrupted Charter Mage can close it. Since the Abhorsens are the only people to meet both criteria, it's likely they possess all the copies and may be responsible for keeping it up to date.
    • Two other books similar to the Book of the Dead are also shown. The less powerful show up "In the Skin of a Lyon". The second is a cousin of the Book of the Dead called "The Book of Rememberance and Forgetting".
  • The Good Magician's Book in the Xanth series. Well, he is the Magician of Information. Somewhat lampshaded in one of the Xanth books - the plot of that book shows the Magician when young, compiling the Book in the first place. After writing the book, circumstances led him to decide to forget the co-author, and since she had such a large part in writing it, he forgot all about compiling the information himself. It somehow updates itself, though, since it still always has the answer to any question somebody might ask of the Good Magician. Though not always in a form that anybody else can understand.
  • The Grimmerie in Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Its usefulness is somewhat lessened by the fact that it takes years of work to learn how to read the language the book is written in, or to be born with the ability to read it by virtue of plot-significant messed-up parentage, like Elphaba (the Witch).
  • The wizards' manuals in the Young Wizards universe. The fact that a manual contains any piece of information the wizard might want to look up is justified by the fact that they are created by the godlike Powers That Be. They even expand to contain more information on the kind of spells a particular wizard specializes in, so everyone's copy is different.
    • In the second novel Kit pulls out an embedded fold-out oceanographic map when he needs to know how deep the ocean is at a particular location.
    • Also playing a significant part in the first part of the series are the Naming Lights (AKA The Book of Night With Moon, containing the true descriptions of everything in the universe in the wizard's language, created by the Powers That Be) and it's shadow, The Book Which is Not Named (The Lone One's answer to the Naming Lights, containing twisted descriptions of all that exists).
  • The titular book from Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, an all-encompassing bible of encryption, seems to have a near-magical status to the Allied cryptographers. It is updated as the war goes on, and by the present day, has been scanned into PDF format.
  • Also by Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age has The Young Lady's Illustrated Primer which can teach martial arts, etiquette, computer programming and nanotech engineering. Probably a good few other useful things too. Not only does it contain seemingly all knowledge in the world, but because it is interactive (there's a live reader at the other end) it can also receive feedback from the reader, develop an extended knowledge and understanding of her current situation and provide her with helpful advice and knowledge she'll need to handle dangerous situations. The Primer looks like a regular book, but it's actually an extremely advanced computer.
  • The Book of Magic in Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series contains everything there is to know about the various forms of magic on Phaze. When researching a particular spell, the entire book shifted to become a volume on that type magic.
  • Parodied in Good Omens with Agnes Nutter's prophecies; she saw the future with enough precision to make sure that the relevant prophecy was written on an index card chosen at random. However, most of her prophecies were too imprecisely worded to be easily understood, since she lived and died in the 17th century, before much of our modern technology was invented. So while she foresaw accurately, she did not always understand what she foresaw, leading to phrasings like "Orient's chariot" instead of "Japanese car". Some of these were easier to interpret than others.
    • Add to that, the vast majority of the prophecies were directly regarding her own descendants. So if you weren't a descendant, or closely interacting with one, you probably wouldn't find anything useful.
  • Dorothy Ann in The Magic School Bus always carried a book she called her "research" that conveniently had information about the day's subject matter.
  • Subverted in The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers. The Big Bad gives the hero an old Grimoire and tells him that all the answers to his question are written on page 333. the page only contains one sentence, over and over again: You have just been poisoned.
    • This is a recasting of one of the tales of the Arabian Nights, "The Story of Yunan and The Sage Duban", one of the tales nested in the "Tale of the Fisherman and the Jinn". It also involves tricking someone into turning the pages in a book that has been poisoned.
  • Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising has The Book of Gramarye which gives the Old Ones everything they ever wanted to know about how to use their powers.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Half-Blood Prince's copy of "Advanced Potion Making" contains information on a wide variety of topics, from recipes for better potions, to spells that can kill people.
    • Justified, it was Snape's old text-book which he improved with his personal notes, and while it's never stated how good is he at Potion Crafting compared to other experts in the topic, he seems to be quite knowledgeable in it, also said spell was unique and Snape seemed to take quite some pride for inventing it.
    • It's also quite remarkable how much plot-relevant information can be found in Hogwarts: A History.
      • No, what's remarkable is that, given how much useful information it contains, nobody but Hermione has ever read it.
  • In Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 novel Salamander, the Salamanders consult the Tome of Fire, left by Vulkan, to determine the significance of finding an artifact from Vulkan's hand, and an unprecedented eruption on their home planet.
    • The Codex Astartes, from the same universe also qualifies for the Space Marines. It's supposed to contain tactical advice for every conceivable form of warfare.
  • In Richard Bach's Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, there is a book called "The Messiah's Handbook," which tends to open to a page with a relevant insight to the reader's current situation. Its most poignant insight: "Everything in this book may be wrong". This revelation shocks and distresses the main character.
  • William Hope Hodgson's Occult Detective Thomas Carnacki gets all his info on the supernatural from the fictional Sigsand Manuscript.
  • In The Gods of Pegana, Trogool (the Thing that is neither god nor beast) has a book that likewise contains everything that has and will happen. The audience is told that things happen because they are in the book.
  • Ella's incredibly helpful (and self-disguising) book in Ella Enchanted. Being magical, it can even provide detailed information about events as they occur.
  • In the Oz series, Glinda is in possession of a Red Book that contains real-time updates about things that are happening in the world. The entire world, not just Oz, which enables her to check up on Dorothy, Betsy, Trot, or any of the other semi-real-world characters who jump back and forth between Oz and the USA. She can look up what goes on with any of the characters at any time, and she uses it as an early-warning system and as a plot starter.
  • The Book of Three from The Prydain Chronicles (also the name of the first book of the series) serves this purpose, being the chronicled Past, Present, and Future of Prydain. It was once referred to as the "Book of If" by Dallben, who mentioned that the prophecies in the book could easily have not occurred. Oh, and it has magic smiting powers to keep away the unworthy.
  • In The Girl Who Owned a City, Lisa is stated to be guided by a "great book," which gives her most of her ideas on how to run things her post-Apocalyptic kid enclave. The book is implied to be Atlas Shrugged.
  • The Book of Sand by Jorge Luis Borges is a short story about the titular book, so named because "neither sand nor this book has a beginning or end". The book is of unknown origin and has seemingly infinite pages, which are numbered non-consecutively with arbitrarily large numbers; one page number was mentioned as being a number raised to the ninth power. There is no way to find a particular page a second time (although it's not specified whether or not the protagonist tried using bookmarks). The actual content of the book's text is unknown, as it's written in an unknown language; but there are simple illustrations every 2000 pages, which the protagonist quickly fills up a notebook recording. It is impossible to find the first page or the last, as new pages seem to spring up between the cover and the reader's finger whenever he tries. When the protagonist becomes obsessed with the book and determines to be rid of it, he considers burning it, but is afraid that the burning of an infinite book would itself be infinite and would cover the world in smoke, so he instead decides to hide a leaf in a forest by tucking the Book away deep within the National Library.
  • Tom Holt's May Contain Traces of Magic features a Book of Human Knowledge which is mass-produced by the sorcerous corporation J.W. Wells and co. However, the book only shows the viewer what he or she needs to know at the time, not what that person specifically wants to look up, unless you know the cheat codes.
  • In James Stoddard's The High House, the Book of Forgotten Things. Just everything you've ever forgotten.
  • Coriakin, the ancient star-wizard from The Chronicles of Narnia, owns one.
  • In the Elephant & Piggie book "Elephants Cannot Dance", Piggie wants to teach Gerald to dance, but that's something elephants just cannot do. He proves this to her by handing her a book titled "What Elephants Can Do."note 
  • In the 1970s there was a children's book about a young girl who attracted friends from among the "popular" girls by carrying her witch aunt's book of spells and home remedies, which she implied was this type of book. She would tell them, for instance, that spiderwebs for healing had to be gathered at midnight by a redhead. When they laid hands on the book themselves, it just said spiderwebs.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which succeeded in anticipating both Wikipedia and eBook readers several decades before their invention.
    • Also the Encyclopaedia Galactica, which is much more accurate than the Guide but much less popular. This is primarily for two reasons. First, the Guide is slightly cheaper; and second, has the words "DON'T PANIC" inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.
      • The Guide can also be transported from place to place without the need for several freight trains.
  • Given the large number of quotations from it and references to it, H.P. Lovecraft's fictional Necronomicon is apparently a Great Big Book of Everything you really don't want to know.
  • "Science Hero" Rick Brant, in the 1950's-1960's juveniles, had the 1934 World Almanac. The twist being that this weighty reference had been memorized in its entirety by the self-taught Indian boy Chahda, and it was Chahda's intelligence that made the seemingly outdated information so often incredibly useful to our heroes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The former trope namer Book of Shadows from Charmed. It becomes more interesting given the fact that it was written over centuries.
    • There are quite a couple of episodes, especially in later seasons, where the Monster of the Week is not referenced in the Book of Shadows, because it is too obscure to have been encountered before.
    • The book repeatedly turns to the right page on its own. It is implied that one of the ancestors turns the pages. It is also implied multiple times that the ancestors can add and remove notes at any time.
    • The witches themselves, as well as their protector angels, are seen writing new entries in the book in different episodes.
    • In multiple episodes, the witches lose their powers, every time resulting in wiping the Book of Shadows completely empty. The scripture returns once the witches regain their powers.
    • On other occasions, the sisters are turned evil. This changes the content of the book, which now lists many evil spells.
    • If the sisters start to attack each other, the symbol on the cover of the book changes and the sisters lose their powers. Also, the sisters can no longer read the book.
    • Also, the book is very much desired by the forces of evil, who often plot to steal it, with varying levels of success.
    • The book defends itself against anyone who isn't of the right alignment (good if the sisters are good).
    • In the last seasons, the sisters increasingly check out the library of the magic school instead, which seems to be much more comprehensive.
    • Careful watchers have noticed that the content of the book changes; for example, Phoebe at some points adds information on Cole, the human form of Balthasar - but the information is gone at later points, replaced by either blank pages or completely different information. This is actually the result of the prop and art department placing new or different pages into the book based on the episode. It's easier to open the book near the center of the book, so pages were often moved around. The actual prop had three posts to put in removable pages so new entries could always be added as needed.
  • Merlin: Gaius's papers have unlimited information concerning spells, monsters, magic, curses, plague, dragons and whatever other problem Merlin is facing. He also manages to find the right book and page within seconds, despite the diverse nature of all the information.
  • The diary of John Winchester in Supernatural has been dubbed the Book of Shadows by the recappers at Television Without Pity, based on how often it has all the answers the brothers need. Lampshaded in Supernatural The Animation Abridged:
    Sam: "How is this in Dad's journal? It's in TODAY'S paper!"
    • This is true for the first two seasons, but Sam and Dean become much less dependent on John's journal during Seasons 3 and 4. They use Bobby's library as a resource more often now, and they have to search more to find information about the Monster of the Week. Then in "Weekend at Bobby's", his Lower Deck Episode, we find out what happens when he needs a certain book from a closed library; he simply breaks in and steals it.
    • And then they run into monsters that aren't really anywhere, because they're old enough to predate human history, or they've just been created.
  • The diary of Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks, which was Defictionalized as a companion book to the series.
  • In the final season of Angel, Wesley gets access to a set of books which really do have all the information in the universe; however, they are magical (they can, on command, display the text of any book ever written), and their power becomes a plot point in one episode.
  • Power Rangers Mystic Force has a temperamental version in the Xenotome: Its pages are blank until it decides to show the Rangers something.
  • In the early days of Smallville, everything Clark and Chloe needed to know about the Monster of the Week could be found on either the Wall of Weird, or the past issues of the Torch. Later it's from the Daily Planet archives.
  • The Professor from Gilligan's Island has one, but instead of a single book, it's a Bag of Holding backpack that always had the right book on top.
  • The Book of Changes in Ghost Whisperer, well, changes every so often to include the latest vague supernatural prophesy. It's also a last-minute MacGuffin at the end of season four.
  • During their "shopping" episode (showing where they get all their stuff), the Mythbusters have a book of knowledge filled with the usual things like conversion tables but also a lot of obscure information that would be important for their show. The Pocket Ref.
  • The archaeologist River Song's diary in Doctor Who, a diary of her adventures recorded on her own, combined with eyewitness accounts of the Doctor through the ages, as seen in "Closing Time".
  • One of many, many tropes the Intersect in Chuck embodies at one time or another. The Intersect is a massive database of secrets and information vital to national security, uploaded to the protagonist's head in the first episode, and accessed involuntarily whenever he needed to know something related to that week's plot. Later upgrades included such things as combat skills, all of which went to whoever had the Intersect at the time via Neural Implanting.
  • In Pair of Kings there is the Great Book with details of most of the island's monsters, though given the kings' personalities, it isn't shown often.
  • The eponymous book of fairy tales in Once Upon a Time contains the entire history of the Fairy Tale Land (despite not being physically large enough to contain all the stories Henry is shown reading in it).
  • The Danish Advent Calendar show The Julekalender, as well as its Norwegian and Finnish versions, featured a book which was supposed to hold answers to every question ever, including but not limited to "Where to get gasoline?" and "What was that?". Though given the shows premise, its ridiculousness was likely deliberate.
  • The opening sketch of a Kenan & Kel episode had Kel reading from "The Big Book of Everything." It even knew the plot of the episode, so Kenan quickly took it away before he could spoil the surprise.
  • Today's Special has "Waldo's Magic Book of This and That" which contains magic spells, and which Muffy sometimes uses to play pranks on the rest of the cast.
  • Played With/Subverted in Grimm - it takes the form of several books, with entries apparently organized chronologically as Nick's ancestors encountered various Wesen and other phenomena, and learned how to deal with them by trial and error. This means any attempt to find information on a previously unencountered threat requires several people to spend hours flipping through thousands of pages in multiple languages and varying degrees of legibility and usefulness- on several occasions the information has essentially taken the form of "no clue how it manages to do what it does, but cutting off its head seemed to kill it". Nick has added several of his own entries, additions, and notations to the books when Wesen not in the records are encountered, or after discoving new information on and methods of dealing with dangerous Wesen.

    Puppet Show 
  • The Martians' "Earrrrrrrrrrrrrth Book-book-book-book-book" on Sesame Street comes off as one.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Mage: The Awakening has a book called "the Invisible Codex" which is able to contain whatever information the reader most requires at the time. This is because it is an Abyssal meme, and its granting information is a ploy to get the reader invested enough in it so that it can devour their soul.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Forgotten Realms has Golden Skins of the World Serpent — an artifact made by one of Creator Races and more widely known as Nether Scrolls. It looks like 50 golden and platinum scrolls (there were two copies, thus 100 pages total), thematically divided into 5 equal sections that cover arcane themes from the basics of magic to creation of major artifacts — advanced topics require understanding prerequisites. The unusual part is that the scrolls contain practically infinite amount of magical knowledge — one could study them again and again and uncover more and more of such lore. Moreover, elves discovered that a set of scrolls can be transformed so that it provides lore which couldn't feasibly be possessed by their creators, that is of intrinsically elven magic developed later.
    • In Ravenloft, the lich-king Azalin owns a magic book that records the biographies of all of the sentient inhabitants of Darkon (Uncoincidentally, the very first biography the book recorded is of Azalin, which began writing the very moment he stepped into Castle Avernus for the very first time). Newcomers to Darkon eventually lose their memories of having ever lived elsewhere due to the book magically editing their memories concerning their origins. There are only two ways to recover or preserve a foreigner's memory, in that either Azalin or one of his enslaved scribes personally edits that particular entry, i.e., like writing "the ambassador from Nova Vaasa is not subject to Darkon's memory-eating," or by having the afflicted person leave Darkon. The primary problem with the latter is that such new natives never find a reason to ever leave Darkon, for any reason...
    • Subverted in the controversial joke 1st edition AD&D module Castle Greyhawk, in which Ye Secret Tome of Inestimable Knowledges turns out to be Ye Secret Tom of Inestimable Knowledges, a cat with keyholes in his belly into which players may insert magic keys to get clues about the rest of the module.
  • Traveller : The AAB the Vilani Repository of Knowledge, a great big library of everything.
  • The official setting for Champions includes the Cryptonomicon, which contains "all the mystic knowledge of the pre-Atlantian ancient world". The "tome" is actually in the form of a puzzle box that must be studied and solved in order to gain its knowledge. Unfortunately, it is also a trap: the more the puzzle box is studied, the more the scholar's soul is warped until eventually he it converted into a slave of the Kings of Edom. A mystically powerful slave, true, but a slave nonetheless.

    Theatre 

    Video Games 
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, one of Mario's partners has a book with information and pictures of every enemy in the game. This even includes Princess Peach after being possessed by the final boss.
    • However, it does not have infinite knowledge; this is demonstrated when Goombella lampshades that it doesn't answer her real question: where all the hammers come from.
    • It doesn't have Doopliss's name.
    • Super Paper Mario has the Dark Prognosticus, a book which has prophesied every event of the game. The villain, Count Bleck, has it, and often quotes directly from it, with the effect of narrating his own life.
  • Rosalina's Storybook from Super Mario Galaxy has elements of this, if the second game's ending has credence.
  • The Traveller's Tome in Ōkami even gives you information on hidden god powers - with a treasure chest popping out of nowhere to give you information on whatever new power you gain
  • Uncharted opens with the recovery of Sir Francis Drake's Lost Diary, by his remote descendant, Drake. The Diary then serves in this regard for adventures in both the Amazon Jungle and an uncharted island in the South Pacific... somehow, it always has the key for whatever puzzle stands in your way.
    • And for the ten-odd chapters where you don't have the diary, then you have either the map, or good ol' fashioned ingenuity.
  • The Book of Prophecy from Avalon Code. In addition to being able to learn anything on any character, item, or monster that you see in the game, it's where you draw all of your weapons. To get some of that information in the book in the first place, the target entity has to be smacked upside the head with it. Don't worry...they won't see or feel a thing.
  • Both Myth games feature the Total Codex, a biography on every person who will ever live. During the first game the narrator looks in it and reads about the Summoner, a man who will resurrect the Myrkridia and visit untold horrors upon the land. He closes the book fast.
  • In Valkyrie Profile, Lezard Valeth states that he found the Philosopher's Stone (this version granting all knowledge), but that people have to work to get any knowledge out of it. He later clarifies by saying that a more accurate description of the Philosopher's "Stone" is the "ten-billion page codex."
  • In Blaze Union, Nessiah's spellbook, the Revelation of the Gods, is reputed to be one of these. Byff has technically been sent by his master to steal it. Its all-inclusiveness is justified by the fact that its owner is over a thousand years old.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has an appearance by the Tome Of Tropes, which is all but explicitly this very wiki in magical book form. Reading this particular trope page in it isn't advised, as it tends to make the book implode violently.
  • In Ultima, the Codex Of Ultimate Wisdom. Unfortunately, reading it is a bit tricky (the entire fourth game is spent finding the darn thing; in the fifth game, it is stored on a faraway volcanic island with guardians that only let you pass if you're on a Sacred Quest; in the sixth game, it still is, and your final quest is to send it back to the void).
  • The eponymous Elder Scrolls from The Elder Scrolls series. They exist partially outside of time and thus possess knowledge of things to come for those able to read them. They also possess various time related powers because of their unusual nature. They have a bit of Tome of Eldritch Lore flavor to them too, since ordinary mortals can't read them without suffering terrible consequences, the least of them being permanent blindness.
    • To a lesser extent, Hermaes Mora's Ohgma Infinium. When a player reads it, they immediately gain 5 levels in all stats of a chosen path. But then the book dissolves before the player is overwhelmed. But then with a prevalent bug, players can avoid the disintegration and go all the way to max level within 15 minutes.
  • The Logbook in the Metroid Prime series. Your Scan Visor can, within a few seconds, tell you nearly everything about anything, and while ultra-detailed analysis may be able to tell you most of it, you sometimes wonder: where does your Gunship learn the name of an inter-dimensional creature that no being off-planet has ever even heard of?
  • Histoire of Neptunia is a recording of the history of Gamindustri, and soon knows everything about the world. The downside is she has to look up the information before she can use it, which can take anywhere from three days if she gets lucky to up to a month.
  • The Fallout series has the Big Book of Science. While it's a skill book, it only covers scientific matters. It's implied however that it covers everything from Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Rocketry, Mad Science, and so on. If it's scientific, it's in it.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • "The Book of KND" from Codename: Kids Next Door. Apparently when it is found by the first kid to fight against adults ever, it already has every information he needed from building tree-houses to building sophisticated kid weaponry.
  • "Tobin's Spirit Guide" from The Real Ghostbusters. In Extreme Ghostbusters, we find Egon has added to it.
  • The Filmations Ghostbusters team have a Ghostbusting Manual in the first episode, which details the features of Ghost Command, the equipment, and the Ghostbuggy. It is never used again.
  • Speaking of Filmation, these show up a lot in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) and She-Ra: Princess of Power. Granamyr gives one of these to He-Man in The Dragon's Gift.
  • The Great Book of Gummi in Adventures of the Gummi Bears.
  • The Golden Grimoire, which Eric (who's been temporarily infused with Dungeon Master's powers) once attempts to use to send himself and his friends back home in the Dungeons & Dragons TV series.
    • Also, in one of the choose-your-own-adventure books, Sheila (or better said, the reader) must help the good witch Agnes to recover her stolen spellbook. Said 'book contains, among other incantations, a very powerful spell that can be used to fight the dragon Tiamat via enchanting her seven heads and turning them against each other. Obviously, you have to go through lots of crap for it, which includes going against Big Bad Venger alone and resisting his offer to actually co-work to put a stop to Tiamat (which leads to a Bad End in which Tiamat is defeated, but Venger still wins because you're forced to let him take Agnes's spellbook away.)
  • The Trope Namer is the Playhouse Disney (now Disney Junior) series Stanley. ♪Iiiiiiiiiittttttt's the great big book of everything, with everything inside / See the world around us, this book's a perfect guide♪
  • In Phineas and Ferb, the Fireside Girls have a guidebook that goes far and beyond camping or selling cupcakes. There are instructions on how to fix a Time Machine or refuel a NASCAR racer or wrestle an alligator.
  • Danny Phantom has two: The book that details Fright Knight and his defeat in one episode and another, a Greek Mythology book that tells a Sadly Mythtaken version of Pandora's Box. All conveniently held by Sam.
  • In, Chuck Jones' 1942 Merrie Melodies short "The Dover Boys," villainous Dan Backslide consults a Handbook of Useful Information for "How Best to Remove Young Lady from Tree (Fig. 1)."
  • The book of rules in The Fairly Oddparents, which describes the limitations on what wishes can be granted. More importantly, it's revealed that this book is what holds the universe together.
  • ˇMucha Lucha! has the Code of Masked Wrestling, which even detailed what to do when you are tied up in the middle of three bad guys using their signature attacks against you. In a word, say your prayers.
  • The Hero's Enchiridion in Adventure Time.
  • In Dragon Tales, The Magic Story Book serves as both an anthology of stories and an all-purpose guide to Dragonland. Complete fiction and non-fiction in one text!
  • According to my research, Dorothy Ann on The Magic School Bus carries a book with answers to every possible scientific question. At least, answers sufficient for an elementary-school kid's needs.
  • The titular Book of Virtues in Adventures from the Book of Virtues.
  • ThunderCats (2011) has the "Book of Omens", a combination of science and sorcery.
  • In Winx Club, Faragonda gives the titular group a book that details every part of their newest transformation, Believix.
  • In Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Birdgirl has a book for sidekicks that she uses when she is not sure what to do.
  • The mysterious set of journals from Gravity Falls. Filled with a plethora of knowledge of the mysterious stuff in Gravity Falls, and when brought together unlock the secrets to phenomenal cosmic powers.
  • The Great Book of Spells in The Smurfs, which Gargamel consults at the full moon for various purposes, including catching Smurfs. However, the book's answers hardly work out in the wizard's favor.
  • Elspeth's spell book in Gawayn which is always able to provide the heroes with the next clue to allow them to continue their quest. Unfortunately, Elspeth hasn't worked out how to use it reliably yet.
  • Roodee's book in Yoohoo And Friends seems to contain information on anything he needs to know at a given moment. Frequently Lamp Shaded.

    Multiple Media 
  • The Encyclopedia Galactica from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy metaseries, being the eponymous Guide's somewhat stuffier main competition. The Guide, however, is more popular because it's slightly cheaper and has the words "DON'T PANIC" inscribed on the cover in large, friendly letters. And the EG still pales in comparison to the Ultra-Complete Maximegalon Dictionary of Every Language Ever, modeled closely on a certain real world dictionary, which requires a fleet of lorries to transport even in microfiche form, while the Guide is small enough to fit on a device the size of a graphing calculator (or an unusually thick tablet PC in the movie) and would only take up several large buildings if put on paper.

    Real Life 
  • The ultimate form of all Wikis, given the Law of Wiki Expansion.
  • Early attempt: Enquire Within Upon Everything, a Victorian domestic reference. According to Tim Berners-Lee, this book was one of the inspirations for the World Wide Web.
    • "Whether You Wish to Model a Flower in Wax; to Study the Rules of Etiquette; to Serve a Relish for Breakfast or Supper; to Plan a Dinner for a Large Party or a Small One; to Cure a Headache; to Make a Will; to Get Married; to Bury a Relative; Whatever You May Wish to Do, Make, or to Enjoy, Provided Your Desire has Relation to the Necessities of Domestic Life, I Hope You will not Fail to 'Enquire Within.'"—Editor.
  • An even earlier attempt, maybe the first, was "Naturalis Historia", by Pliny the Elder. It was his attempt to compile all the worldly knowledge of his day into a single work. Unfortunately, the world of his day knew little about volcanoes, and Pliny died amidst the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79, before the book's final revision.
  • The Yongle Encyclopedia, named for the Ming Chinese emperor who commissioned it, was supposed to be the summation of everything known by the Chinese. Compiled between 1403 and 1408, it was the largest general-reference book produced at the time. Sadly, it's very scope meant that it could not be copied by block printing, so copies had to be laboriously transcribed by hand and only a portion of the total has survived to this day.
  • Pocket Ref is about as close to this as you can find IRL. MythBusters approved!
    • Desk Ref by the same author is even more so.
  • Dr. Ankowitschs Kleines Universal-Handbuch, containing a large variety of practical and some of the rather bizarre points of information, from how to clean a feather boa to the break-down schematics of BMW Isetta 250-model's chassis. Sadly this book is apparently only available in Germany and Finland.
  • The 44th edition of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics is another candidate and expanded far beyond what the title suggested, unlike later editions.
    • Even the later editions have a lot of data. A typical edition is 3 inches thick, printed in small type on paper so thin you can practically see through it, and contains everything from information about the solar system to tables of integral formulae to a multi-page table listing the density of water at various temperatures to six significant figures.
  • The Talmud.
  • Does the Oxford English Dictionary count?
  • Another possible real-life influence on this trope: The Everyday Reference Library.
  • William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England.
  • The Wiki Reader is practically the closest thing on earth to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Being an e-reader whose 8 gigabytes of memory are almost exclusively dedicated to storing an offline (text-only) version of The Other Wiki.
    • You can also get a number of smartphone and tablet apps doing similar things, but they're memory hogs.
  • The internet, duh.
  • The 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was thought to be this when it was released, covering practically everything involving scientific and historic study known at the time when the world was seen as static: It was possible to know everything. After 1911 things got... complicated.
    • Even at the time it was more illusion than anything. It's hard to call the latter Industrial Revolution and the dawn of the 20th century "static" even if it might have seemed that way.
  • Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is both broad and seemingly random enough to seem like this to many young nerds, especially Anglophilic ones, who discover it.
  • The good old World Almanac & Book of Facts, still updated yearly.
  • This Very Wiki strives to be one. Compared to The Other Wiki, it is still in its infant stages, but, as There Is no Such Thing as Notability, it's definitely catching up.
  • The Codex Gigas (Latin for Giant Book) is a gigantic book containing The Vulgate and other important works. It is the largest medieval manuscript still in existence, being over 3 feet tall, 1 1/2 feet wide, 8 inches thick, and weight over 160 lbs.
  • At the other end of the scale, a book you can sensibly carry around with you, measuring just 14.1 x 4 x 20.4cm (5.5" x 1.6" x 8"), is Pears Cyclopaedia, which will answer an amazing number of your questions.
  • Your brain contains the grand sum of all your knowledge - you consult it without even thinking about it; and when you are thinking about it, you're consulting it too! You brain also mixes information and makes guesses based on what it knows, so it can figure out things it hasn't even been told!


Fictional DocumentFictional MediaScrapbook Story
Big Book of WarInformation DeskOmniscient Database
Googling the New AcquaintanceSuspiciously Convenient IndexIt's A Small World After All
Flying BooksBookish TropesPortal Book
Gravity SucksApplied PhlebotinumGreen Lantern Ring
Sacred ScriptureFictional DocumentIn-Game Novel
Gilligan CutImageSource/Comic BooksHypocritical Humor

alternative title(s): Book Of Shadows; The Big Book Of Everything
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