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Now You Tell Me
Oh, in case you got covered in that Repulsion Gel, here's some advice the lab boys gave me - (sound of rustling paper) "do NOT get covered in the Repulsion Gel." We haven't entirely nailed down what element it is yet, but I'll tell you this, it's a lively one, and it does not like the human skeleton.
Cave Johnson, Portal 2

A comedy gag where a character gets a warning to not perform a certain act, but just too late for it to be useful. Either disaster has already occurred or it's too late to take the action back, and the disaster is moments away. Sometimes, for extra silliness, the nature of the warning is obscured until the discouraged action is taken, such as a message on the screen that warns you not to read the screen.

Can also be Played for Drama, often creating a very stinging sense of irony. It can also overlap with Remembered Too Late.

Compare Can't You Read the Sign?.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • A rather non-comedic use of this trope (or perhaps a Black Comedy use) shows up in Ranma . Genma Saotome doesn't read the next page of the training manual detailing the Neko-ken, which says that the technique is impressive sounding, but non-functional, until after he's already trained his six-year-old son Ranma in it. Oh, and it isn't just useless, it causes permanent mental damage to the trainee, afflicting them with a permanent and deeply rooted phobia of cats.
  • The Slayers uses this when the gang is hunting through a dungeon of some sort. Lina is reading warnings out of a book, and Gourry keeps picking up on the first half of the warning instead of the whole. The first warning is something like "Pressing the button... is something you should not do." For the second, Gourry doesn't press the button, but the warning is something like "Don't walk past without pressing the button."
  • Happens a lot in Shukufuku no Campanella. Salsa will do something, and Ritos will tell her about a certain hazard too late for her to avoid it. Salsa shouts the trope name, which then brings Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress into things.
  • Happens from time to time with Vivi in the Alabasta arc of One Piece, as she forgets to tell the party certain things at critical moments, like not mentioning what Mr. 2 looks like until after he leaves the ship.
    • Also Eyelashes the Camel has just delivered goods to the new enemy base ... and didn't tell the Straw Hats this until they had reached the old one.
  • Happens in Kaiba's and Joey's first Duel in Yu-Gi-Oh! when Joey attacks with his monster which has a higher attack power than Kaiba's.
    Yugi: Wait! The Battle Ox is resistant to all Fire Type attacks!
    • Flame Swordsman is defeated
    Joey: Now he tells me...

    Films 
  • Death Becomes Her.
    Madeline Ashton: Bottoms up! (drinks potion)
    Lisle von Rhoman: Now, a warning...
    Madeline Ashton: NOW a warning?!
  • Back to the Future: Marty is blown across the room when he tries to hook up to the amplifier. Then the Doc calls and warns Marty not to do that.
  • The film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The owl that delivered Sirius' letter bites Harry on the hand. Then Harry reads the letter's postscript, which says "the bird bites".
  • We Were Soldiers: Moore puts out a call to his helicopter crews that the LZ is hot. Crandall, the lead pilot, receives the message at roughly the same time that bullets start pinging off his Huey's airframe.
  • I, Robot: Spooner is warned about an attacking robot, when said robot already has him by the throat.

    Literature 
  • The Dresden Files has Harry go to a Red Court party, where Harry meets Thomas, a White Court vamp. After drinks are served, Thomas quickly goes to Harry to tell him to not drink anything, as it's been spiked with Red Court venom. Thomas then looks at Harry's empty glass. "Oh." Harry, showing more sense than most, finds a potted plant and throws up into it. He still doesn't feel well, but the lower dose allows him to get better.
  • The story "The Cold Equations" has a tragic example, when the stowaway learns that the penalty is being Thrown Out the Airlock because the ship has no safety margin to accommodate her extra mass.

    Television 
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Fear Itself", while the gang is attempting to stop the demon possessing a Halloween haunted house, Giles reads that "there are two ways of stopping the demon from being fully summoned. Destroying the mark of Gachnar—". Buffy promptly tears up the floorboards that the symbol is painted on. Giles continues "—is not one of them and will in fact bring forth the fear demon itself." Oops. Of course, the demon in question is only six inches tall.
  • Variation on Angel. Cordelia is snooping around an empty house when she has a vision of being attacked by a big ugly demon. As she recovers from the headache, she turns around and finds herself face to face with the very same. "Real helpful!" * Concussion*
  • On Happy Days there was a note saying "Don't close the garage door, it's broken" posted on the garage door.
  • In M*A*S*H, during a Wire Dilemma, while reading from a manual:
    Blake: Next, clip the blue wire, just above second lug nut.
    Hawkeye: The blue wire, the blue wire... (clip)
    Blake: But first...
  • From Red Dwarf
    Holly: Hey up, I've forgotten what I was going to say now.
    Rimmer: Well, it can't be that important, then, can it? (ship shakes, everyone is thrown across the room)
    Holly: That's it, yeah. "Look out, a meteor is about to hit the ship." I knew it would come back to me.
  • In the classic Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", the seemingly uncontrollably reproducing Tribbles have just eaten the entire stock of a space station's supply of genetically engineered grain. Moments later, McCoy enters and shouts "I've got it! All we have to do is stop feeding them! If we stop feeding them, they won't reproduce!" A Tribble-covered Kirk replies "Now he tells me."
  • In Drake & Josh, Helen lets Josh pet her hamster, but tells him too late that it bites.
  • In a Sliders episode where the main characters end up in a world where magic is real. During the final fight, the Big Bad turns into a dragon and starts breathing fire, pinning the sliders and his reluctant assistant behind a table. She point to a sword on the wall and says that this is the only weapon that can kill the sorcerer. Cue Rembrandt running for the sword, only to utterly fail at moving it. He runs back, and she continues that only a Mallory can wield it. Rembrandt is visibly annoyed at the late warning.
  • An episode of Full House has Stephanie taking a pretend drive in Joey's car. Thinking the "R" on the gearshift turns on the radio, she backs the car through the kitchen window. Joey later admits the radio doesn't work.
  • A Muppet Family Christmas has a Running Gag about people entering Mrs. Bear's house being warned to be "Careful of the icy patch" after they've already fallen.
  • When Brent of Corner Gas becomes a food critic for the Ruby's daily specials, he gives a scathing review of a plate of macaroni and cheese while his mother is sitting behind him, becoming visibly incensed. Lacy then points out it was his mother's food, not the Ruby's.
    Brent: That would have been useful information eleven seconds ago.
  • The ending of season one of The Blackadder where Percy and Baldrick don't realize they poisoned the wine supply of the entire castle (in their plan to assassinate the Big Bad,) until after nearly every other cast member has drunken it and died.
  • This line was said by Vicki of "Small Wonder" all the time. Understandable, since she was a robot girl and not always familiar with American idioms - she used to take things literally.
  • From Paul Merton: The Series -
    For 3 days and 3 nights we marched over open country, marching over mountains, marching under streams, from the Arctic Circle to the Sahara desert. We marched and marched and marched, until at last it was time to open our sealed orders.
    *reads* "Don't march anywhere."

    Radio 
  • The Goon Show episode "Dishonoured Again":
    Eccles: Land ahead!
    FX: CRASH
    Eccles: I shoulda said dat sooner, shouldn't I?

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Church, having traveled back in time, leaves a recorded message of what not to do and the consequences if the others do it in an alien base. All of it happens right as he's speaking it, prompting Caboose to beg "Stop saying these things! Or at least... say them sooner." To the recording.

    Video Games 
  • Done quite subtly in Modern Warfare 2.
    Price: (over radio) "Ghost! Come in, this is Price! We're under attack by Shepherd's men at the boneyard! Soap, hold the left flank! Do not trust Shepherd! I say again, do not trust Shepherd! Soap, get down..!"
    • Of course, you learn this after Shepherd and his men have shot Roach/you and Ghost, and are busy dousing you in gasoline and setting you on fire.
  • In Mass Effect 1, there's a side quest where you scan the Keepers, mysterious insectoid creatures that maintain the space station. As it turns out, The Keepers were created by the Abusive Precursors and will let them come into Citadel space to destroy all organic life. If you complete the side quest, you get an email in the second game that gives you this info two years after it would have been useful. But it does demonstrate that the Council is Too Dumb to Live and It's Up to You.
    • In Legion's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2 you are given the option to break into the heretic geth mainframe and release a high-energy signal pulse to rewrite them into accepting the beliefs of the true geth.
    Legion: Alert: The energy pulse will be hazardous to unshielded organics. Addendum: The interior of this station is not shielded.
    Shepard: I really wish you'd told me that before.
  • In The Last of Us, after fighting through an infected infested sewer, you get outside, turn around, and see a warning "INFECTED INSIDE! DO NOT ENTER!" Ellie says the trope upon pointing this out.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures, a boat collides with the shore and Plucky falls out onto the beach. Then Babs calls out, "Land ho!" leading Plucky to grumble, "Now she tells me."
  • In Futurama, Fry is sent to deliver a package to the Emperor of a desert planet. He drinks from the first bottle he sees when he arrives in the throne room, which turns out to be their emperor (the aliens are liquids). Thus, according to the culture's laws, he is appointed the new Emperor for having killed the previous one. The package he originally came to deliver is now for him so he opens it and finds a sign reading "don't drink the emperor", which he hangs next to dozens of the same sign in various alien languages.
  • One of the Road Runner vs. Coyote cartoons sees Wile E. Coyote feeding the Road Runner a bunch of Acme Earthquake Pills. When this doesn't do anything to the Road Runner, Coyote swallows the rest of the pills in disgust. Only then does he notice the small print on the bottle: "Caution: Not Effective On Road Runners". At which point the Earthquake Pills start to take effect on Coyote with (of course) hilariously disastrous consequences.
  • In The New Batman Adventures episode Joker's Millions, Harley delivers this great line:
    Joker: Didn't you get gas!
    Joker: Mmhmm.
    Harley: * pause* NOW ya tell me!
  • Batman Beyond, when Terry is fighting Mad Stan:
    Bruce: Be careful, McGinnis. Once he's on a rant he's unstoppable.
    Terry: Thanks for telling me now.
  • The Looney Tunes cartoon "Tick Tock Tuckered" has Porky and Daffy efforting to not be late for work with the threat of termination looming over their heads. They arrive to their workplace on time, only to find a sign that says that it's closed because it's Saturday. (Daffy: "Mmmm...now he tells me!") Similarly done in the short's original edition, "Porky's Badtime Story" (with Porky and Gabby Goat, where they just shrug).
    • In "Tortoise Wins by a Hare", a bunch of gangster rabbits stop Bugs from crossing the finish line because of his turtle disguise and get Cecil to win because of his rabbit disguise. When Bugs takes off his disguise in front of them, the rabbits say "Mmmm...now he tells us" and proceed to shoot themselves.
    • Also, in a Speedy Gonzales short, two cats have captured Speedy's cousin Slowpoke Rodriquez. One cat tries to warn him of something, but the other cat ignores it and tries to eat Slowpoke, only for the mouse to shoot him in the face. When the cat says he meant to tell him that Slowpoke's a fast shooter, the other cat says this to the camera.
  • In the House of Mouse short "How to Haunt a House", Goofy puts a bedsheet over his head to scare Donald, only to mess up from not being able to see through the sheet. The narrator then tells Goofy to put eyeholes in the sheet, promoting him to say this.
  • In one episode of Phineas and Ferb Dr. Doofenshmirtz yells this when he uses the ejector seat on a robotic dragon vehicle and its computer tells him that it doesn't come with a parachute.

    Real Life 
  • Shrink wrap contracts, contracts that can only be read after opening the packaging of their product. Of course, if you decide not to agree to the contract, you can't return the product, because you just opened its packaging.
    • These contracts are generally held to be unenforceable in the EU; in the US the issue is still debated. Either way, most places will still let you return the product if you disagree with the contract.
    • Of course it contracts. If it didn't, it wouldn't be shrink wrap, now would it? (Rim Shot)
  • Truth in Television or Urban Legend? A zoo allegedly had a sign on its monkey enclosure reading, "Warning: These monkeys steal glasses." Of course, this mostly happened whenever anyone wearing glasses leaned forward to read the sign....
  • Intelligence sent warning of the impending Imperial Japanese surprise-attack upon the United States' Pacific Fleet through civilian channels. By the time they got it, a day late, half the fleet was underwater and the Nipponese were long-gone.
    • The Japanese Ambassador was supposed to deliver a declaration that they considered the negotiations - it's complicated - to be over right before the attack was to take place. However, the final declaration was 5000 characters long; consequently the Embassy failed to meet the unrealistic deadline they had been given. It did not help that the Embassy used native Japanese typists, rather than the usual locals out of fears of espionage, which dragged out the time needed to type and transmit the message even longer. Moreover, just when they had finally gotten it all written down and printed out on nice paper and everything, the ambassador got stuck in traffic....
      • Amusingly, the fact that the US had thoroughly broken the Japanese Diplomatic Cypher (codenamed Purple) meant Signals Intelligence had the declaration before the Japanese ambassador.
    • This was shown in the film Pearl Harbor - this being one of the few accurate and worthwhile bits to it. In the film, the Naval Intelligence officer reaches the conclusion that the Japanese attack is imminent, and the warning reaches the President a few hours after it already occurred.
    • An American destroyer, USS Ward, engaged and sank a Japanese midget submarine trying to follow another ship into Pearl Harbor, and radioed a report of the encounter. A request for confirmation was sent back, and due to delays in encryption, transmission, and decryption, the confirmation report wasn't read until after the air attack had begun (assuming, of course, that a confirmed report of an attempted submarine infiltration would necessarily have put them on guard for an air attack.)

Now I Lay Me Down to SleepStock PhrasesOh God, with the Verbing!
'Not Wearing Pants" DreamComedy TropesNo, You Hang Up First

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