A mysterious note from a stranger changes the plot in some way. Generally, it is shoved under or into something such as a locker, postbox, or a door. If the recipient sees the note drop on his mat and dives for the door, he will occasionally catch the messenger in the act of posting the note; however, the messenger usually leaves so fast it's as if he teleported.
Can be anything at all, for example:
- A clue from an anonymous source
- A note from a past or future self
- A revealing tape of some kind
- A threat of some kind
- Ransom demand
Not to be confused with Brown Note
or any other sound related trope, although it can contain, or be a recording of any kind.
Anime & Manga
- In Ore-sama Teacher, both Mafuyu and Hayasaka receive notes in their lockers saying "360 degree warning". This presages the appearance of a new character, a wacky fake 'ninja' who is trying to destroy the Public Morals Club.
- Murder by Death. While Sam Diamond and Miss Skeffington are in their room, they hear a ticking sound. A note is slipped under their door that says, "That ticking sound is a bomb that will go off in 30 seconds. Signed, The Murderer."
- The Incredibles. The "note" is in the form of a digital tablet with a video message inviting Mr. Incredible to do secret superhero work.
- In Unsane, a horror/thriller author receives one about a series of murders related to his latest book.
- Memento: The hero receives a few of these. Some of them from himself, since he suffers from anterograde amnesia.
- Home: Frank Money receives a note that says, "Come fast. She be dead if you tarry." This causes Frank to start his journey home to save his sister.
- In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Henry Baskerville receives a message consisting of words cut and pasted from the London Times warning him to stay away from the moor (where Baskerville Manor was).
- Mysterious poison-pen letters (together with pranks and outright vandalism) are part of a plot against Shrewsbury College, Oxford in Gaudy Night.
- A couple of these appear in Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday. The notes' author employs the classic pasted-letters-cut-from-printed-material technique.
- In The X-Files, Agent Mulder repeatedly receives revealing documents on various conspiracies from his informants. They try to be sneaky about it.
- In an episode of Magic City, an envelope is shoved under the door. When opened, it contains a photo with "$20,000" written on the back. The photo shows one of the heroes in bed with a mobster's wife and is clearly an attempt at blackmail.
- Mysterious notes or objects are often the catalyst for Scott Wolter's investigations on America Unearthed.
- In WHO dunnit, Hardboiled Detective Nick Spade receives an unsigned note asking him to meet someone in the basement of Tony's Palace. It's actually a setup for an ambush by the murderer.
- In Autumn Bay, Intrepid Reporter Felicia Kingsley receives one from "a friend" when she is supposed to meet a contact. It is pinned to a post and has her name on it.