"What happened down in the dungeons between you and Professor Quirrell is a complete secret, so, naturally, the whole school knows."
You just defeated the Big Bad
? You rescued the passengers from the Runaway Train
? You won the championship fight at the battle arena? Well chances are that everyone will know, too.
When the hero accomplishes a task or a goal (or in the other direction, does something embarrassing or messes up badly), everyone he encounters will have known about it already and will praise/chastise the hero for what he did. Originally a video game trope
, but seen in other media.
Especially prevalent in military units
, both real and fictional.
of Famed In-Story
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Anime and Manga
- In Naruto, recent issues of the manga have shown news traveling fast regarding the protagonist's trials and travails, and the consequential shifts in public opinion about him.
- It helps when half the village is watching you fight the big bad.
- Also things like if Orochimaru used his body switching technique in the secrecy of his lair, which Jiraiya and Akatsuki knew right away.
- Occurs egregiously in the Jimmy Neutron movie, when sightings of his dawn outing in a flying machine make the front page of that day's morning newspaper.
- In the Sub Story Destination Tokyo, we see how this sort of thing gets started: the captain asks for a particular chart. The man who fetches it shows the title to half-a-dozen men before passing it to the captain and they immediately scatter to tell everyone else. Before the captain can officially announce their destination, a new edition of the unit paper is out and Japanese music is playing over the intercom.
- In one of the Sharpe films, the French tried to stir up disloyalty in Irish units on the continent by creating false reports of English atrocities on the Irish. Sharpe stops the plan by lampshading this trope - the reports were spread by smuggling in allegedly American newspapers, which were less than a week old according to the print dates. But during the Napoleonic Wars, crossing the Atlantic was a six week trip under ideal circumstances, meaning that for Americans to hear about the atrocities and send reports about them to soldiers in Spain, said atrocities would have had to be at least three months past, printed in papers nearly two months old.
- In Mostly Harmless, bad news is the (technically) only thing that can travel faster than the speed of light. Once they even built a spaceship that was powered by bad news, but it was an extremely unwelcome sight wherever it went and nobody wanted anything to do with it.
- Although many fantasy series tend to underestimate how long it would take news to travel across a nation or nations, A Song of Ice and Fire often makes an effort to avert this. News and messages can take weeks or even months to pass back and forth, perhaps best illustrated with one section where several characters in a remote corner of the realm are trying to plan what to in a tight political situation without upsetting the fearsome leader of the most powerful faction in the kingdom. Said leader died several chapters earlier, and the news hasn't made it that far yet.
- This trope is the mechanism for the kicker ending to "Along the Scenic Route", one of the stories in Harlan Ellison's storied collection: "The Deathbird Stories". Having escaped a foolishly initiated encounter with one bad-ass, the protagonist discovers that, to all the other seriously bad-asses, your reputation is all you are.
Live Action TV
- Lampshaded in Sesame Street: Telly created Texas Telly persona like 2 scenes ago when he meets Murray, who is ALREADY his biggest fan. "Whoa, news travel fast".
- In an episode of Everybody Hates Chris where a girl kisses Chris on the cheek, he tells his friend to not tell anyone. Later, everyone at school knows. This is also parodied at the end of the episode when Chris tells his friend that him and the girl aren't in love and not to tell anyone, one second later (literally, as said by a caption) EVERYONE at school knows.
- In an early FoxTrot strip:
Peter: You must be the new girl.
Denise: News travels fast
Peter: So, do you have a boyfriend?
Denise: You must be this Peter Fox I've heard about.
Peter: (thinking to himself) Some news travels too fast...
- RPGs with a Karma Meter have their own version: most people will immediately be able to sniff you out as good or evil if you're far enough along on the scale (usually vaguely alluded to as "reputation"), but they'll often still deal with you.
- Tribunal, an expansion pack for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, subverts this at the end of its main quest; when news gets out of what you've accomplished, almost nobody believes you (except the machiavellian king of Morrowind, who is intrigued to learn that a factor in his powergames has been removed, a few people with additional reasons to believe you in general, and Vivec, who is a god), and certain people will try to kill you for suggesting it.
- Also, in Bloodmoon, if you are a werewolf and are caught transforming from or into one, the fact that you ARE a werewolf is thereafter known throughout Morrowind and you are then attacked on sight by nearly EVERYONE. There are mods to correct this but this is the default game setting.
- Also, the guard system in Morrowind, if you stole 1 pen and a guard saw you, then suddenly every guard everywhere would know everything you stole and take it out of your inventory when they finally catch you
- In Oblivion, closing the Oblivion gate at Kvatch causes almost everybody in Cyrodiil to exclaim "It's you! The Hero of Kvatch!" when you walk by.
- While we're on that subject, you being declared the Hortator by the Three Great Houses and the Nerevarine by the Four Ashlander Tribes is known almost immediately. Admittedly, the widespread Temple eventually adopts this story, and the Great Houses and the Ashlander Tribes are a big portion of the population of the island, but the news travels at the speed of event flags.
- That's not the worst of it. At the very beginning of Oblivion, the Emperor is killed in a sewer. The only witnesses are either dead, still in the sewer, or the player. Yet everyone in the Imperial City is talking about his death when you emerge from the sewer, and the local newspaper has already published an article about it.
- You kill a guy in Leyawiin (bottom of map). You fast travel to Bruma (top of map). STOP! YOU! HAVE! VIOLATED! THE LAW!
- In Skyrim, when you speak to a guard after doing something that gives them a new line of dialogue, they'll say the new line before anything else. So, for example, you can be made Harbinger of the Companions in a little sea cave, and arrive at the nearest town before the Companions with you (the only ones who witnessed you being made Harbinger) get there, and the first guard will still greet you as Harbinger of the Companions.
- Baldur's Gate and its sequel had a "reputation" system, which was more or less a Karma Meter, except that your actual D&D alignment was a separate affair.
- Calling it "reputation" is misleading. If you do Something Evil but there is absolutely no way anyone else can find out, your reputation will still go down and everyone will still find out.
- Some mods attempt to correct the discrepancy by separating Reputation into two values: Reputation (what people think of you) and Virtue (how you actually act). It's possible with these mods to be a Villain with Good Publicity, or a hero with a 0% Approval Rating.
- Fable was particularly bad for it. Immediately after the player completes a quest, people on the other side of the world would know about it and comment the second they see you.
- Also averted, as the karma meter causes physical changes, so they would be able to see your alignment instead of having "heard about you."
- In City of Heroes, the civilians walking around often talk about your exploits, sometimes mere seconds after you perform them. This includes civilians in ancient Rome.
- Subverted in Chrono Trigger: because 99% of what you do is in the past, nobody notices it in the present - to them, it always happened that way, and is thus old news.
- Unless of course you renamed your characters particularly Optional Party Member, Magus. Immediately afterwards, EVERYBODY knew their new name, regardless of time period. Possible handwave/justification: the renamer is a Nu, part of a race that explicitly has a bizarre relationship with time and space.
- Actually, in the case of Magus, you can rename him as soon as you get him on the party, without help from the Nu, and then everyone will cease to call him Magus and call him by the new name.
- Crusader games. Despite your being a member of a clandestine operation that has to isolate information so as not to give themselves away to their enemies, everyone in the Resistance seems to know where you've been and what you did the moment you step off the teleport pad or tram car back at base. On the other hand, your activities do tend to result in big explosions.
- Notably averted in Planescape: Torment, where you can lie to just about everyone and the people who can tell you're lying can be counted on one hand. This is important for two reasons. First, you can't choose the Nameless One's alignment: he starts as True Neutral, being an amnesiac, and his alignment shifts over the course of the game based on the player's choices, including lying. Some conversations options where you can talk about the Nameless One's beliefs even allow you to say the exact same thing as either the truth or a lie. In these cases telling the truth or lying will result in the exact same response from the NPC, but which one you choose will affect your alignment. (For example, you've caught someone trying to steal from you, and have grabbed their arm. You are presented with several options, including two saying, "Stop struggling or I'll kill you", but one is marked with "Truth" and one with "Lie". If you tell the truth, it makes you more lawful and evil. If you lie, it makes you more chaotic.) Second, because the game takes place in a plane where belief affects reality, getting enough people to believe in a lie makes it the truth. A notable example is that the Nameless One can tell people his name is Adahn. Telling enough people that lie will result in an NPC named Adahn showing up out of nowhere.
- It probably doesn't get any straighter then this: you cannot sell stolen goods at all. Even if the store is on the other plane of existance from the crime scene you'll stll receive an "I don't receive stolen goods" reply. Such level of awareness makes you suspect a case of Hive Mind. Or a remarkably efficient law enforcement system with instant and widespread notification about crimes...
- Mostly averted throughout the Geneforge series: the general population doesn't know what you've done unless it directly affects their own lives. Characters with an organization that can provide them intelligence know more about you if you've done anything significant to their own organization, but even they can't know everything. It's very possible to work for all factions at the same time, at least up to a Point of No Return.
- Then again, a lot of actions, including ones that are supposed to be secret, have an effect on your reputation.
- Also, a flaw common to all Spiderweb Software RPGs is that items tagged as “not yours” will cause the entire town to turn on you the instant you steal them, even if nobody sees you take them.
- Not so (perhaps just in the later games): If you're out of line of sight of everyone (and if possible, best to shut the door behind you) you can get away with wanton acts of theft. Of course, this doesn't include items in a box or chest that's been trapped with an alarm.
- Mana Khemia Alchemists Of Alrevis uses this as a gameplay element. There's an NPC that deals in rumors; you pay him to get a different rumor assigned to you. They have varying effects, ranging from cheaper item prices, to increasing all stats, to increasing item effectiveness. After doing specific things (fight 200 battles, get past part in storyline, get A's in class, and so forth), you unlock different rumors.
- Subverted in Wizardry 8. You can work for both the T'Rang and the Umpani, who are mortal enemies, without either finding out you're double-crossing them because the headquarters of the two races are far away from each other. However one of the races has a spy that has infiltrated the others so you need to be extra careful. Additionally, one NPC who specialises in getting and spreading news can inform the races of what you're up to. You can bribe her, at which point she'll keep the information to herself.
- Civilians will run in fear of evil characters and beg for help from good characters in inFamous no matter where they were when you were being a good guy. Moving to a newer area of town, such as The Warren, for the first time and being worshipped like a hero is a little strange. Even if news did travel, why would anyone believe stories about a guy who can shoot lightning out of his hands?
- Also, Zeke phones you about things that are happening in the town. Said things always seem to happen immediately after you finish a sidequest.
- In Pokemon Ruby And Sapphire, there's a guy in Dewford Town who wants to know a trendy phrase. If you succeed in creating this amazing new phrase, everyone in the house above him will know, a picture about it will have been painted, a town event for it will be being planned, and there is licensed merchandise for it. All in the two seconds it takes for you to walk into the house.
- The remakes take it Up to Eleven with whatever you do showing up on the updated Pokenav's newscast app.
- In the fourth generation (HeartGold/SoulSilver, specifically), a certain character will call you about having cleared the radio tower of Team Rocket almost as soon as you finish.
- In the first Kingdom Hearts, as soon as you win the first tournament at Olympus Coliseum, the Moogle in the Accessory shop will know.
- In Half-Life the scientists and guards all seem to know Gordon. They all know about the player's exploits, what has happened, and that he needs to reach the Lambda Complex to avert the catastrophe, even while there are aliens and government soldiers crawling all over, and that they've spent the entire day cowering in a supply closet or some such place.
- This is at least partially justified, though not very well, by one of the scientists saying that they've been using the security system to track him.
- Averted in the first Knights of the Old Republic game. If you go to Korriban after learning that you, the player, are Revan, and you try to tell this to a guard on the Sith academy, he won't believe you.
- In a variation, in Mass Effect series completing a sidequest will seemingly immediatly create the intended effect even when this shouldn't be in any way possible. For example, in Mass Effect 3 you can find a salarian scientist discussing the possibility of cloning extinct Kakliosaurus as mounts for toxic environment, and if you bring him a skull of the creature, he will comment on the success of the project the next time you speak with him, even if it's only seconds later.
- It's lampshaded at one point in the first game, when you arrive on Noveria. You check in with Parasini at the front desk and take the elevator downstairs. Right next to it is a shopkeeper who instantly knows who you are, and one of the dialogue options is "News travels fast here."
- Averted multiple times in the Jak and Daxter series. After Jak defeats the Metal Head leader at the end of Jak II: Renegade, no one in Spargus City knows who he is when he arrives there. And after he saves the world at the end of Jak 3: Wastelander, people in Kras City only know him for his racing exploits.
- Similar to the Mana Khemia example above, in Persona 2, you can hire a detective to spread rumors which change the world. As soon as you plunk down 3000 yen on the detective's desk, the rumor is spread city-wide and has come true, whatever it's about. However, news of plot events tends to spread much more gradually, averting this trope as well, and the savvy player can even guess a couple upcoming plot twists based on how the rumors of your own exploits get exaggerated and twisted in the retelling. It's extremely paranoia-inducing to watch and wonder how it will play out.
- Lampshaded in the first Harry Potter computer game. After catching the Remembrall and being made Gryffindor Seeker, the next part of the game involves you going to visit Hagrid. One of the first things he greets you with is, "Congratulations on making the Quidditch team! Word travels fast around Hogwarts."
- Major events in Fallout: New Vegas are talked about by NPCs. For instance, if NCR President Aaron Kimball is assassinated, or if the train from Camp McCarran to the Strip is destroyed. This even occurs if you kill or disable Mr. House, something absolutely nobody but you could possibly know about, since House doesn't really talk to anybody but you and nobody else is allowed in his secret sanctum. It's not even widely known that he's an actual living human, as opposed to a computer program.
- Actually, that last one is a justified example, as immediately upon his death Mr House's computer system broadcasts a lengthy and self-aggrandizing pre-prepared eulogy to all computer systems capable of reading it (including the player's pip-boy).
- In Fallout 3, Three Dog's news announcements are basically 100% about the player character's actions, which he knows about in minute detail. You can finish a quest and hear him talking about it seconds later. That last part applies equally to Mr. New Vegas' news in New Vegas.
- In Fallout 2's Playable Epilogue, even if you immediately get in your Highwayman after coming ashore and haul ass to New Reno or Vault City, everyone in town is already singing your praises for defeating the Enclave (though perhaps a bit justified since there's some fourth-wall breaking involved.)
- Averted in the 2014 update for Dwarf Fortress. The game uses a system of conversations between NP Cs to simulate the realistic spread of rumors, so if, for instance, you kill all the witnesses to your criminal activities before they leave the map, as well as everyone those witnesses spoke to in the meantime, the world will not find out about them.
- Played with in Doug. After Roger uses Doug's borrowed press pass to publish a mean article, everyone but Doug knows about it, and he is mystified as to why everyone suddenly seems to hate him.
- In Phineas and Ferb, Candace's friend texts everybody she knows to tell them Candace became a Goth (which was actually a misunderstanding). She winds up getting fifty replies in about one second, and one second after that, Candace gets a call from her other friend about the issue.
- In Drawn Together, Clara tells Toot and Foxxy a secret, which they promise not to tell anyone. Before they even leave the room, everyone in the house is banging on the door saying Toot told them about Clara's secret. Toot admits it.
- From The Simpsons:
Bart: The burglar even took my stamp collection.
Lisa: You had a stamp collection?!
[family laughs; phone rings and Bart answers]
Nelson: [over phone] Stamp collection? Haw haw!
- In the infamous Family Guy episode Not All Dogs Go To Heaven, once it's announced that Brian is an atheist, CARS are thrown through the house.
- In the American Dad! episode "White Rice", Francine's show is cancelled after one Asian joke because there was an uproar by the Asian community.
- In Pocahontas II the news of John Smith's apparent death in the prologue somehow beats John Rolfe's ship across the Atlantic to Virginia, despite the fact that news could only cross the ocean by ship in those days. In fairness, this is hardly the only way Pocahontas gave historical accuracy the finger.
- Television, newspaper, the Internet, radio, Facebook, Twitter, and where else you can get fast news and information around the world in the modern era.
- Theoretically, Twitter updates about an earthquake can spread outward from the epicentre faster than the actual shockwaves themselves. xkcd analyzes this.
- Upon Michael Jackson's death, Twitter crashed.