As a subtrope of Infodump
, an easy way to present Exposition
in a story is to have a character, often a lead character, as a lecturer or teacher in a classroom, conference or boardroom. Alternatively, particularly when the character is less experienced, they could be the one attending the lecture, class, conference or boardroom.
Compare Chekhov's Classroom
. Both use The Law of Conservation of Detail
in a way but since Exposition
is used to set up and frame the situation throughout the plot, this trope will emphasize the importance of the scene more while the Chekhov's Classroom
will often be presented more as background. Also, Lectures as Exposition often tell the viewer things they need to know immediately
or things they needed to know two scenes ago.
For similar tropes, see Infodump
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Anime & Manga
Films — Animated
- Milo gives two lectures on Atlantis in Atlantis The Lost Empire. The first one is actually his rehearsal for a proposal to his superiors, which he never gets to give due to them suddenly changing the time that makes it impossible for him to make the meeting.
- He later attempts to give a lecture to the Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits with a slideshow and some plumbing metaphors, only for some of his vacation photos to get mixed in by mistake. "Hubba-hubba!"
- How to Train Your Dragon begins with one. In the space of a 5 minute lecture, Hiccup introduces himself, the other villagers, and the different species of dragon while at the same time sounding almost like a tour guide.
Films — Live-Action
- Older Than They Think: This trope shows up in Das Testament des Doktor Mabuse by Fritz Lang from 1933.
- The Rite has Father Lucas explaining the basics of exorcism in lectures at the beginning of the film.
- In Knowing, Nicholas Cage's character gives some basic information about the sun and the fate vs. free will philosophies during his college lectures.
- A class presentation but one not from a teacher, Sam attempting to sell his stuff at Show and Tell in Transformers when told to give a lecture on his ancestors as part of his grade. However, he is distracted by Megan Fox doing that weird thing she does with her teeth.
- In Revenge of the Fallen, Sam has a "full-blown meltdown" in the middle of the first day of astronomy class, and ends up babbling at breakneck speed about various things that become important later on in the film.
- This is how we learn the main complication in Give My Regards to Broad Street — in a board meeting.
- Jean Grey at the beginning of X-Men.
- Serenity starts out with one of these (a teacher giving a history lecture to a group of young children).
- It isn't clear from the very beginning due to the matryoshka-doll-like Framing Devices at work, though.
- Stargate opens up with Daniel Jackson giving a lecture on why he believes the ancient Egyptians did not build the great pyramids. The people listening to him all walk out at the ridiculousness of the theory. In a radical plot twist that surprises no one, he was right.
- The Final opens with a high school history teacher describing how the Han Dynasty would sometimes leave their defeated enemies alive, disfiguring them in order to serve as an example to those who would oppose them. Guess what a group of pissed-off teen outcasts do with this knowledge...
- Urban Legend tells us about, well, urban legends by means of a lecture given in a college classroom.
- 21 has Kevin Spacey's professor character tell us about the Game Show Problem during a lecture. He is an MIT professor after all.
- Subverted amusingly in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Dr. Jones is showing giving a lecture on archaeology, but he merely makes the point that archaeology is not about journeying to exotic lands and following ancient maps to lost cities, "and X never, ever marks the spot." Since this is Indy, however, he definitely does not go on to practice what he teaches— and he even references the lecture later with a wry grin when it turns out that X does mark the spot after all.
- Shattered Glass is about former journalist Stephen Glass and his now-notorious career as a fabulist for The New Republic. It includes as a Framing Device several scenes in which Glass is telling a class of journalism students about his career for TNR. Besides presenting basic plot exposition, Glass's talk explains the fact-checking process at a magazine and illustrates how Glass got away with his fictions (in short: the main fact source was the reporter's notes, which Glass fabricated).
- In Dan Brown's book The Lost Symbol, Robert Langdon lectures his symbology class on the secrets of Freemasonry.
- The Harry Potter series occassionally uses these (in addition to Chekhov's Classrooms). For instance, Professor Binns' (McGonagall in the movie) retelling of the Chamber of Secrets legend and Moody's demonstration of the Unforgiveable Curses.
- In The Name of the Wind, this tends to be the way the reader learns more about the world. It's occasionally presented as a story or myth, instead.
- The Assassins of Tamurin teaches the reader the history of the Constructed World via a session of the heroine's history class.
- The Functional Magic of the Mistborn series, allomancy, gets explained to the readers through Kelsier's lessons to Vin.
- In Ashes Of Victory, Honor Harrington has been assigned shore duty as a Military Academy instructor while she recuperates from (extensive) injuries she suffered in the previous two books. We are treated to a number of such lectures, including one where a junior officer mortifies a group of awe-stricken midshipmen by calling Honor's tactics in a recent operation horribly reckless, stating that she only came out alive because the enemy simply wasn't paying attention that day.note
- A teacher in Strength & Justice: Side: Strength educates the reader on the history of the city in the form of quite a large Infodump taking up several pages.
- In Theodore Judson's Fitzpatrick's War, the general history of how the world turned into a post-apocalyptic steampunk Neo-British Empire-dominated dystopia is recited in a verbal exam by the novel's protagonist, Robert Mayfair Bruce. Coincidentally Bruce was shocked to have gotten such an easy topic.
- On Relic Hunter, Sydney was telling her class about a particular Indian tribe's mysterious shift in culture right before she went out and solved the mystery.
- Stargate SG-1: Jack O'Neill's young clone lectures a class of pilots on the F-302.
- Also the original Stargate has as its Establishing Character Moment for Dr. Jackson a lecture he is giving to a room of experts about his theory of the pyramids being made to replicate a design of an older, more advanced civilisation.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy did it in "Hush", where everyone's voices have been stolen. Giles delivers the exposition through transparencies and mime.
- In Game of Thrones, Maester Luwin teaches Bran of the various Houses vying for power in Westeros, which also serves to educate the audience on the matter.
- Breaking Bad gives us a scene where Walter White, a chemistry teacher, describes how energy can either be released gradually and unnoticeably or suddenly and violently... and in the episode's climax, uses mercury fulminate, the explosive he described in class to successfully threaten a violent drug lord.
- Happens frequently in Hannibal. When he's not profiling for the FBI or getting psychoanalyzed by Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Will Graham is a lecturer on profiling and criminal psychology at the FBI academy. His lectures flesh out the show's backstory or the psychology behind the case of the week, and occasionally provide Mythology Gags or Foreshadowing (i.e. the time he lectures on the killer of the week to a hallucinatory class, foreshadowing his mental illness).
- A favorite technique in the Whateley Universe, since it's set largely in a Superhero School. We've seen lectures on supersuit design, several kinds of superpowers, strategy and tactics, the (made-up) physics behind this universe, how magical contracts work, and several other things.
- An chapter of Brennus is about an "Introduction to Metahuman Studies", providing an Infodump on superpower classifications. This is justified by the creation of a new superpower classification system, and so the characters, as well as the reader, have to be informed.
- Tales of Symphonia introduces its Cliché Storm plot in this only moderately cliched way.
- Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers has Gabriel attending a lecture at Tulane University early in the game where he learns some important concepts and terms relating to Voodoo.
- God Eater Burst has several cutscenes of Dr. Sakaki briefing the Player Character, Kota, and Alisa on the nature of the Aragami. Justified as the main characters are all new recruits, with you and Kota hinted at not having had much of an education at all, and Fenrir wants to spread around its institutional knowledge so nobody leaves too big a hole if they die suddenly.