Dilbert: Am I so predictable that you can record your side of the conversation in advance?A character is playing a message recorded for them by someone else. Through precognition, weirdness induced by time travel, or really good prediction of what the viewer will say, the recording appears to respond to what the character says or does in reaction to what is being played. Related to The Television Talks Back. Sometimes overlaps with Video Wills. Occasionally mixed with an Apocalyptic Log. Often Compare Inner Monologue Conversation.
Dilbert's mother on tape: Yes, you are so predictable that I can record my side of the conversation in advance.
Dilbert's mother on tape: Yes, you are so predictable that I can record my side of the conversation in advance.
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Anime & Manga
- In Air Gear, Spitfire leaves a Video Will behind after he appears to die. This Video Will coaches Kogarasumaru, using "a R.E.A.D. program that analyzes data and relays it using Spitfire's synthesized voice." Most characters simply come to the conclusion that he's still alive and is spying on them. He's a Virtual Ghost.
- In Bleach Urahara gives Ichigo a message that splatters onto his bedroom wall that tells the message as it flows down the wall. Ichigo proceeds to comment that it's " LIKE SOME TV CRIME SCENE MESSAGE WRITTEN IN THE VICTIM'S OWN BLOOD!" Then the message continues with a P.S.
Urahara voiceover of the message: P.S. If you think this is some "written in the victims own blood" cliche from some t.v. show, then you obviously have no sense of humor.
- Several times, Lelouch from Code Geass uses a recording that he pretends is a live feed to obfuscate his true wearabouts:
- In season 1 Stage 3, he geassed his maid to call the phone in the bathroom and play a simple recorded message from Zero to Kallen in the shower while Lelouch is nearby. Kallen doesn't suspect a thing, securing Lelouch's secret from her.
- In season 1 Stage 15, he fakes a video conference with Mao, to get Mao to think he was far away so he wouldn't hear Lelouch's thoughts as he approached. Lelouch interrupted Mao a lot and generally ignored his answers, simply pushing his line. He also remained silent for too long, causing Mao to ask, "Cat got your tongue?" before he resumed the pre-recorded message.
- In the end of R2, he pulls the same trick on Schneizel, who is a much harder opponent to fool. He even notices Lelouch's tactic briefly, saying "Lelouch, now you're talking in circles..." but doesn't catch on in time to prevent Lelouch from sneaking up behind him. In the original Japanese, this trope is pushed to the limit, as Lelouch predicts exactly what the other party will say and at one point manages to interrupt him at exactly the right time. Even given the fact that Schneizel is Lelouch's brother, who he knows quite well, whereas Mao was a total stranger this was quite an accomplishment. The dub makes Lelouch's side of the conversation more vague, so he doesn't seem so eerily prescient.
- The Governor General's tape in Mahou Sensei Negima! gives a nice pause while Ala Alba discuss whether to go or not, and then says that he knows Negi plans to decline... Wouldn't it be a shame if he flexed his legal right and sent a fleet of battleships after him and all his students, including the muggles? After all, all he wants to do is to have a nice chat!
- Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok: After Loki is kidnapped, he sends a message to Yamino and Mayura via recorded message in a doll. After his greeting, Mayura shouts about the mystery, to which said doll responds "Let me start off by saying that this is a recording and NOT a mystery for Mayura to get worked up over." She's not that hard to figure out...
- Occurs in ×××HOLiC as a letter which correctly predicted Watanuki's reaction four times in a row. It helps that it was written by Yuko.
- Used by Pegasus in Yu-Gi-Oh!, although justified by the tape being cursed and actually allowing two-way communication, though the initial idea on why Pegasus can figure out Yugi's moves so easily has to do with Pegasus having added subliminal images for split-seconds in the recording, forcing Yugi to subconsciously play the card wanted. Both theories seem to be taken for granted, as Pegasus is surprised when Yugi plays the Black Magician instead of the skeleton card he had in his hand.
- A flashback in the anime showed how Pegasus humiliated a champion player by getting a young boy in the audience to sub in for him, giving him a set of pre-written instructions he was carrying in his jacket. The kid won the match, and the instructions were revealed to accurately predict every move the player was going to make, and told the kid exactly what to do to win.
- Parodied in Dr. Slump, where the playing of a recording by Senbei's father to his son turns into a full-blown conversation between them. Senbei's father even reacts live to his son hugging the TV on which the message was being played!
- Detective Conan: Kogoro has made tapes of himself being "busy" someplace while he was really someplace else. Eri's seen through it, so he decides to attempt mixing a new one... while she's calling him on advice for a case. Hilarity Ensues.
- Conan also does this briefly, one of the times Ran suspects that he's actually Shinichi - he's on the phone with Ran as Shinichi, records himself saying something, then runs to where she is as Conan and asks for something, before running to finish the conversation as Shinichi.
- A pre-recorded hologram of Najimi from Medaka Box was able to predict when Kumagawa would try to look up her skirt, and kick him in the face accordingly.
"I can't see you but I can more or less predict your actions, so I'll just throw a kick here for good measure. If it connects, hooray for me."
- In World Conquest Zvezda Plot, the film reel of "Madame M" projected by the Treasure Club seems to respond to the students in the room, including singling out Asuta when he acts less than enthusiastic.
- Seemingly played straight in the first episode of Serial Experiments Lain when Lain interrogates an e-mail from a dead classmate who claims to have left the physical world for an existence entirely within the wired. Gradually becomes less straight over the course of the series as we learn that there is a possibility that Chisa really did emigrate to the wired and Lain is far more than the awkward middle school girl she appears to be.
- In one episode of the manga of Crayon Shin-chan, Crayon woke up from a nap and found a note from his mother (I'm out shopping, please clean up and look after the house). He ignored it and decided to go out to play, and found a note taped on the door (You know what will happen if you go out and play instead?, complete with an image of his mom wielding a hammer). Incensed, Crayon ripped off the note and found another note taped right behind the note he just ripped (Don't rip this off! You know what will happen if you disobey me?!).
- My Hero Academia has a downplayed example when Midoriya gets his U.A. entrance test results, in the form of a recorded projection from All Might. All Might never directly responds to Midoriya, but he does pause at exactly the right times for Midoriya to respond before beginning to talk again.
- In Definine Article Eddie Izzard does a bit wherein a tape teaching French corrects the listener. "'La plume du mon oncle est bingy bongy dingy dangy.' The tape would go, 'Non! Oh non! La plume du mon oncle ne pas bingy bongy dingy dangy!!'"
- In a JLA story arc, the Justice League went back in time and got killed. Nightwing assembles a back-up League as per Batman's instructions. When the new team is brought together, they watch a video Batman made for them. Green Arrow starts ranting at some point, to which video Batman yells, "QUEEN, ZIP IT!" Because he's BATMAN.
- Not a tape, but in X-Factor v.3 #200-201 Longshot gets a psychometric reading off a bobby pin to find out where Sue Reed has disappeared to. He ends up in a vision of Latveria, having a conversation with Layla Miller. Layla is not actually there, but is replying to Longshot because she knows what he will say.
- In the Blake and Mortimer story The Time Trap, Mortimer finds the time machine along with a recorded message from Miloch, which seems at times to know what Mortimer is doing or saying (not always, however, but enough to unnerve Mortimer). This being a time travel story, Miloch may have been spying Mortimer in advance to record his message, though.
- Played with in Steam Wars, where Bo, as a Quantum Dragoon, uses his powers to actually hold the conversation with General Teft and another Rebel leader. Teft comments that the second half of the recording, which he had viewed earlier, confused him, that is, until the incredulous other captain helpfully supplies the other side of the conversation, that is.
- Toni Chu from Chew has limited precognition, with the ability to see a person's future by eating their flesh. When she learns of her upcoming death while biting into her partner's shoulder, she essentially pre-records messages for her brother Tony by acting them out by herself, so that when Tony (who has the related ability to see a person's past) reads her memories by eating her severed toe, he can see Toni effectively talking to him. Toni's memories are able to respond to Tony's questions and comments with uncanny accuracy which is largely played for laughs, but can be chalked up to a combination of her precognition (having bitten her brother several times previously) and knowing her own brother well enough to predict his responses.
- Nemesis takes this to absolutely ludicrous degrees at the end of the comic, albeit in letter format instead of recorded videos, where the main protagonist receives a letter from a mysterious individual congratulating him for defeating the titular supervillain, revealing that he is from a group of rich and bored indiviuals who get their kicks off by becoming murderous psychopaths. The kicker? The message was written 10 years ago and somehow managed to predict several other events that took place in the comic.
- Invoked in one issue of Ghostbusters International when we see Egon making an audio recording of his research regarding part of what the others are dealing with overseas.
Egon: I believe someone has found... ...The Rauoskinna. At this point of the recording, Venkman will likely make a comment about the book's name or pronunciation, with an outside possibility he's referenced the Norwegian flight attendant who punched him out in grad school. Get it all out of your system, Peter. This is quite serious.
- Doonesbury mixes this trope with The "Fun" in "Funeral"; starting with this strip, Andy Lippincott, who had just died of AIDS, has a prerecorded video played at his memorial service that talks to and responds to specific people at the memorial.
- In a Calvin and Hobbes strip, Susie asks Calvin to pass a note to a classmate, telling him not to read it because it's a secret note. He reads it anyway; the note says, "Calvin you stinkhead: I told you not to read this." Of course, this makes it look like Susie did this For the Lulz. It certainly wouldn't make much sense if Calvin just passed the note. But even this is addressed in the next strip, where Calvin immediately tells the teacher about the next note Susie passes him. What does the note say? "You know what I hate about Calvin? He's a tattler!"
- In one Zits strip, Jeremy comes down to breakfast with a series of cards, each answering questions his mother asks (like, "How do you want your eggs?") in order. Jeremy's mother eventually grows tired of this, saying, "I'm not as predictable as you think." Jeremy's next card: "Wanna bet?"
- A Running Gag in Peanuts strips is for Schroeder to carry around signs counting down the days until Beethoven's birthday. In one strip, Lucy sees this and turns around as Schroeder walks past to yell after him. Snoopy approaches her from behind with another sign as she yells "WHO CARES?" In the last panel, Snoopy's sign is turned towards the viewer, revealing the message "WE DO!"
- Garfield: Liz left Jon a message at his cell phone confirming their date and asking him to leave the accordion at home. In fact, he was with the accordion while listening to the message.
- Phoebe and Her Unicorn: Phoebe tries to look through her dad's browsing history, and finds that his last search was for "Hello Phoebe, I know you're reading this."
- A variation in Savior of Demons with a Hologram, when King Kold explains Frieza's weakness for toying with his opponents as if speaking to someone other than Frieza himself. It underlines his Chessmaster-style manipulation up to this point.
- In Elementals Of Harmony, Tezzeret has Ditzy Doo send Jace Beleren a courier capsule with a message. Tezzeret lampshades this before giving his real message (forcing Jace to teach Ditzy blue magic).
Tezzeret: Firstly, you should know that this was all prerecorded, so you can stop talking to the courier capsule. And yes, you are that predictable. Usually.
- The letters Kyon receives from the future in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, though it is justified in that Future!Kyon knows what Haruhi asked/will ask when Present!Kyon gets the letter.
- Likewise, in Takamachi Nanoha Of 2814 spinoff FATE: Holy Grail War of 2814, Archer's video will knows exactly how everyone present will react (allowing him to throw in several snarky insults), which is justified because his past self is one of the people watching it.
- In Fallout: Equestria: New Pegas, Dead Shot has a lengthy conversation with Pinkie Pie, who recorded her part of it two centuries earlier. Thanks to her Pinkie Sense being hyperboosted by Mint-als and him being a direct descendant of her sister, she is able to predict everything he might say and record responses in accordance; rather than seeing just one future dialogue, she is aware of every possible choice. She even coerces him into Pinkie-promising to never use addictive substances ever again, and responds appropriately when he accidentally sticks his hoof into his eye.
- A variation in ''Bucket List. Regina has decided to leave Storybrook behind, and writes a goodbye letter to Henry. She includes a message for Emma.
P.S.: Miss Swan remember to feed Henry fruit and vegetables and not so much unhealthy food.
P.P.S. Yes Miss Swan I know you're reading this.
- Beast Boy's resignation letter to the Titans in The End of Ends.
Starfire: (reading Beast Boy's letter aloud) "You do not even reflect on all the good deeds and nicer things I have done for you in the past"Raven: What nice things?Starfire: (continues reading) "Tell Raven to take that back."
- Ultra Fast Pony. In the episode "Purple Party Pooper", Twilight angrily responds to something that Fluttershy says about a minute later.
Fluttershy: Hey, Twilight. How's your birthday?
Twilight: Don't you "Have a nice day" me!
Fluttershy: I didn't say that.
[later, at the end of the conversation]
Twilight: I'm gonna find new friends!
Fluttershy: Okay, Twilight. Have a nice da— Ooooh! I get it now! Oh, she good.
- Invoked when someone MST'd a fansub of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz prior to the English dub release:
Sally: Thanks, Duo. You left some cake for us.Mike: Some beef-cake!Duo: If that was a joke, it sucked. If you were being sarcastic, it was even worse.Mike: Hey!Tom: (indignant) I hate it when movies zing us back.Crow: Yeah, no one likes a smart-alek movie!
- In the Bleach / Kill la Kill crossover To My Death I Fight, Urahara writes a letter to Ichigo, which starts predicting his reactions and then boasts, "And yes, I can read your thoughts even through this letter that I wrote days before you found it. I am THAT good."
- Nyx's Family: Done early on with a letter from Celestia, revising Nyx's legal status from 'parolee' (as of the end of Past Sins) to 'time served'
Spike: Wow. She's good. Whups, here's a postscript...
[Letter Postscript]: Dear Spike,
Darn tootin' I am.
Spike [Eyes Glazed]: Urrrh....
- In Eclipse Phase: Dreamcatcher Pinkie Pie sends Rainbow Dash a message over distances where light-speed lag should occur, and responds so quickly that Dash wonders if she's actually nearby. "Nope! I just pause and wait for you to answer, and then I respond to what you’re going to say! It’s easy, especially with you. You’re so predictable." Of course Pinkie could predict the future, though not that accurately, even before the Fall.
- In Death Note II The Hidden Note, the reformed SPK get a dvd supposedly from the new Kira that's in two parts. The beginning of the second part mentions how the other members probably had to hold back Near from trying to break the machine after he mentions how he was responsible for his wife's death. Which is exactly what happened.
- In On The Run Katsuki Bakugou is reading a journal left to him and Izuku by their teacher Aizawa telling him how they should go about training to face the League of Villains in the future with each page causing him to become more and more frustrated with what he's supposed to do to help both himself and Izuku. On the very last page Aizawa writes in all caps “BREAK THE CHAINS YOUR PRIDE USES TO HOLD YOU DOWN” causing Katsuki to tear that page out and burn it. Behind that text written on the inside of the back cover itself Aizawa has written “Do not let your superiority complex control you. Stop burning my pages.” He then procedes to chuck the journal as far away from him as he can.
Films — Animation
- In Fun and Fancy Free, Jiminy Cricket listens to a storybook on record narrated by Dinah Shore as the lead-in to the Bongo segment;
Dinah Shore: This is the story of three bears...
Jiminy Cricket: Yeah, yeah, I know. A papa bear, a mama bear, and an itsy-bitsy baby bear.
Dinah Shore: (Chuckles) But it's not the one you know!
- Tara's final words to MK in Epic, which she couldn't hear at the time, are seen later in a mystical "flashback" created by one of Nim Galuu's barkscrolls. Tara starts off by saying (paraphrased) "If you're hearing this, it means you made it to Nim's," and anticipates what MK's reaction will be.
Films — Live-Action
- The entire "Exploring Your Masculinity" tape recording scene from In & Out. The tape the main character buys in order to re-affirm his heterosexuality somehow knows that the main character is not doing what it asks him to do, knows he has fallen in a trap and, after the song it puts ends, it knows he has been dancing.
- Scream 3 uses this to bring back Randy, who was killed in the previous film. He drops comments and has recorded responses to Dewey's reaction to his comments, leading them into a bit of back-and-forth dialogue.
- In Superman, this exchange between Superman and a recording of his late father:
Jor-El: You... enjoyed it?
Superman: I don't know what to say, Father. I'm afraid I just got carried away.
Jor-El: I anticipated this, my son. Now...
Superman: You couldn't have... You couldn't have imagined...
Jor-El: How good it felt?
Lara: I had hoped that you would not have to ask me this question.
- Then in Superman II, Supes asks for love advice from a recording of his mother. Subverted when Luthor infiltrates the Fortress of Solitude and selects the data crystal with information about General Zod.
Luthor: What's she talking about? I didn't ask her anything.
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
- Ferris prepares one to answer the intercom if anyone rings the doorbell at his house. The responses are keyed to the intercom, so he gets around the awkward pauses, and his responses are vague enough to work for nearly any response. The plan falls through when the principal keeps ringing the doorbell, cycling back to the first message and betraying the ruse.
- Earlier in the movie after a bedridden Cameron gets off the phone with Ferris:
Cameron: I'm dying.
Ferris: You're not dying, you just can't think of anything good to do.
- The movie I, Robot inverts this. Dr. Lanning leaves an interactive hologram at the scene of his death, which is only programmed to respond to a few specific questions, and so Spooner has to figure out just what exactly the tape "knew" he would ask. We later find out that this is because he was being watched by VIKI while he was making the hologram, so he had to be very careful about what he said.
Dr. Lanning: I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right questions.
- A very early example (possibly the earliest example) is in the 1932 movie The Greeks Had a Word for Them in which a deceased character leaves a will recorded on a phonograph record. When one of the listeners complains about being explicitly left nothing in the will the recording blandly states "I knew you'd say that."
- This happens in Iron Eagle. Chappy Sinclair is the wingman for Doug Masters in a plan to use two Air Force jets to rescue Doug's father. Just in case something happens, Chappy makes a tape recording of advice the night before so his voice can continue to guide Doug. Somehow, Chappy manages to predict exactly when he was shot down and doesn't bother to give advice about anything up to that point. The strangest part is when the tape says something like, "You did a good job shooting at the refinery. Now that that's out of the way..."
- In the 1985 version of Brewster's Millions starring Richard Pryor and John Candy, Monty Brewster's great-uncle Rupert uses this trope with his Video Will.
Rupert: One more thing. You can't tell anybody why you have to spend the money.
Monty: Why not?
Rupert: Because I don't want anybody helping you!
- True Lies: Harry uses this on his wife (who is in the room with him) to disguise his voice. "Now dance for me." When she starts hand-jiving, "No, dance sexy." A moment later, the tape clearly doesn't know what she's going to say. Harry has to fast-forward past a bit of the tape where the speaker thought she'd be wearing nylons, and then he has to rewind it to repeat a request when she protests.
- In Tapeheads, the main characters' office space is protected by a video of a security guard firing at anyone who trips the system, as shown when Norman Mart's men bust in, and they fire back, not realizing it's only a video. The video guard even scoffs at them when they run out of bullets, and puts down his gun and salutes just as the main characters (who had been out) walk in. A couple of scenes later, a limbo band shows up, and the guard on tape is seen dancing along to the music.
- Spoofed (of course) in the movie Spy Hard staring Leslie Nielsen. The Big Bad of the movie, who was thought to be dead, sends a tape to the government agency with the typical threat of blowing something up with a stolen warhead. When we first see the scene you aren't really sure it's just a recording, as it seems to be responding perfectly to the men watching. But used later as a Brick Joke when Nielsen's character is watching the tape in his house and it runs in the background including all the pauses.
General Rancor: (on tape) Yes, it is I, General Rancor. Big as life, and twice as ugly!
General Rancor: (on tape) All Steele did is blow off a couple arms! I got plenty of arms!
- Technically, though we never see it working, Sarah Connor's answering machine in The Terminator is a tiny example of this. "Hi! (beat) Ha, ha, fooled you, you're talking to a machine."
- Done with a business card in Oh God! You Devil, just after talent scout Harry O. Tophet pulls a Stealth Hi/Bye on the main character, but uses his disembodied voice to deliver a few parting words about keeping in touch.
Bobby Shelton: I'm flipping out!
(looks at the reverse side of Tophet's business card, which was previously blank)
Tophet's card: You're not flipping out.
- The Big Red One. The Squad are listening to a German propaganda truck broadcasting a recording of a woman's voice telling the GI's that their wives back home are shagging other men, etc.
Sarge: Knock off the bratwurst, Brunhilde, and sing us a lullaby.
Recording: I'll get to the song in a minute, honey. (soldiers all burst out laughing)
- Red Stevens in The Ultimate Gift takes this trope to the extreme. One scene that perfectly sums this up is when his nephew gets a check and walks out with it, only to find that he can't cash it in and comes crawling back to Red Stevens, who knew that he'd do something like that. Oh, and it's a Video Will.
- Videodrome: TV culture critic Professor Brian O'Blivion only interfaces with others through taped messages, and in an early scene is even portrayed as responding to an interviewer's questions.
- Cousin Henry's Video Will in the 1970 movie Some Will, Some Won't does this, allowing a pause for the beneficiaries to object before telling them to shut up.
- Subverted in Last Action Hero. When Slater's ex-wife calls him at work, he gives a few verbal nods before placing the phone's headset over a taped recording of his responses to her. He later reveals to Danny that it's just an act:
Slater: You think I'd marry someone so stupid she can't tell the real voice from a taped one? I pay a cashier to call me at work, so the guys think I have a private life. My ex-wife is happily remarried; she never calls.
- I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. When Kung Fu Joe calls Slade, Slade leaves a blank stretch of tape on his answering machine just long enough for Kung Fu Joe to leave his message before revealing that it was the answering machine talking and not him.
- Johnny Dangerously featured such a radio announcer:
Radio Announcer: Should be clear skies tomorrow night as the governor and DA Tommy Kelly attend the new James Cagney move.
(the radio is turned off)
Gangster: Which theater?
(the radio is turned on)
Radio Announcer: The Savoy, on 37th.
- Harvey: The movie shows an example with a book. Justified if you want to believe Harvey is real:
Wilson: (reading from an encyclopedia) "P O O K A — Pooka — from old Celtic mythology — a fairy spirit in animal form — always very large. The pooka appears here and there — now and then — to this one and that one — a benign but mischievous creature — very fond of rumpots, crackpots, and how are you, Mr. Wilson?" (beat) "How are you, Mr. Wilson?" Who in the encyclopedia wants to know?
- Done in an ontologically eerie way in Philip K. Dick's Ubik. Protagonist Joe Chip's TV suddenly switches on to show his boss, Glen Runciter, who has apparently died in an explosion a few weeks before. At first, the two engage in a perfectly coherent, real-time conversation ("You know I'm here. Does that mean you can hear and see me?" "Of course, I can't hear you and see you. This commercial message is on videotape"). However, towards the end of the conversation, Runciter's answers lose meaning and become detached and inappropriate until the TV switches itself off, leaving Joe to ponder:
Had Runciter been able to hear him? Had Runciter only pretended to be on videotape? For a time, during the commercial, Runciter had seemed to respond to his questions; only at the end had Runciter's words become malappropriate.
- John Dies at the End has a video recording of a precognitive man holding what looks like a one-sided conversation. The heroes can't make sense of it the first time they watch it, but when they replay it later on, the man's girlfriend is present, and she ends up (reluctantly at first) holding a full conversation with the recording. And then the recording asks the heroes to leave the room so that he can have a private conversation with his girlfriend.
- Came in the form of a written will in The Westing Game, which incorporates into its text the interjections that the deceased has predicted his audience will make during its reading. The trope is played straight when one character stands up in sudden anger ("Sit down, Grace Windsor Wexler!") Later, however, the trope is subverted as the deceased millionaire has a message that informs the characters that they're all wrong in their deductions. The reason is that Mr. Westing actually isn't dead and is disguised as one of the main characters, which enables him to keep track of other characters' progress in his "game."
- The Time Vault in Foundation contains sealed messages from Hari Seldon which unfailingly predict events many decades into the future. Until the Mule comes along. The fact that another century or so down the road the messages are correct again is a plot point. In the third book (Second Foundation) it turns out a secret group of people had been making sure the recordings came true.
- Done in the fourth Artemis Fowl book, so the main character can have the first stimulating conversation he's had in the book. It's downplayed in that he didn't know exactly what future Artemis would say, but knew that he would and so could qualify it as a conversation.
- The Stainless Steel Rat
- Not from the dead, but in The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World by Harry Harrison, a recorded message from Professor Coypu is sent back in time. At one point, Coypu's voice says he believes there are supply ships on the way which can rescue the listeners (except for Jim and Angelina, who have another way out). He pauses, and one of them acknowledges that the ships are expected in fifteen days. The recording of Coypu picks up again with the words, "Fifteen days, more than enough time." That's because Jim and Angelina have returned to before the recording was sent, and are telling Coypu what to say.
- In The Stainless Steel Rat for President, Inskipp sends a recording to Jim that does this. It annoys Jim to no end; he hates it when his boss is one step ahead of him.
"GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF THIS, YOU THIEVING DEVILS! YES, WE KNOW IT'S YOU! PUT THEM BACK THIS INSTANT!"
- Semi-example in Thud!; there's an ancient recording of the dwarf king talking about peace with trolls, and a warhungry dwarf listening shouts that it must be a fake, a trick. The recording then says that there will be people who think this is a fake, a trick.
- In the "Etiquette" section of Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, she recommends that writers of love letters incorporate the following into their missives, the better to pull this trope on their nosy future children:
- In Witches Abroad, Desiderata Hollow doesn't bother to address the envelope of instructions she leaves for Hurker to open after her death, because her Second Sight has already shown her that he'll open it regardless.
- In The Magic School Bus book about the Solar System, when they lose Ms. Frizzle and have to rely on her notes to learn about the Solar System and find her, she has written down the statement "Arnold, are you still listening?"
- Not a recording, but a more medieval fantasy example occurs in the Rhapsody series by Elizabeth Haydon. When one character's estranged brother sends a diplomatic envoy to speak to him, the diplomat has a series of papers, with the brother's anticipated responses to everything the character says. The diplomat is finally caught off guard when there was no pre-planned response to the man actually saying "Thank You."
- A more overtly magical version in Stephen King's Needful Things. Leland Gaunt leaves a tape for his Dragon, Ace Merrill, giving instructions for what he should do. When Ace considers ignoring the instructions and just stealing Gaunt's stuff, the tape starts up again on its own and threatens him. It's at this point that Ace realizes that the tape player isn't even plugged in.
- Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens:
- Agnes Nutter leaves a box containing the second volume of her Nice and Accurate Prophecies in the care of several lawyers successively to be delivered to her descendant Anathema at the right time. The ones who are tempted to open the box to find out what's inside inevitably find an envelope with their name on it, containing a letter decrying them for not following her instructions and naming something horribly embarrassing or compromising about their life that will be revealed if they don't close the box right now.
- Also in Good Omens, the order of the prophecies themselves turns out to be significant. For ease of reference, the Device family transcribes the original book onto a bunch of file cards. Anathema loses her copy of the Book (accidentally leaving it in Crowley's Bentley, to be found by Aziraphale), and has only the file cards to go with. During the bumpy ride to the place where Armageddon is happening (but not the proper riding forth of Armageddon), she drops the box and gets the cards all jumbled up. When she laments this, Newt counters that if Agnes was so good, whatever card Anathema grabs will be the one most relevant. Whether or not he's serious, he's right. The jumbled order of the prophecies, which had baffled the family for centuries, was apparently just so Anathema could pull the right ones out when she needed them right then.
- In The Jennifer Morgue, the taped briefing Angleton leaves for Bob does this—to a certain extent. Angleton, while very good, ends up underestimating the time it will take for Bob to complete it, and the tape self-destructs before Bob is fully briefed.
- One of the Journeys to Fayrah books makes use of this trope. The main characters go digging in a forgotten trunk in the attic and discover an audio tape recorded by one of their friends from Biq, the land of computers. The awesome supercomputing power available in Biq allows simulations so extensive that they can predict the future to an arbitrary level of detail; thus, the tape is perfectly tailored so that the main characters can have a natural conversation with it.
- Stanislaw Lem's Golem XIV does this. Although his lectures and seminars appear to happen in real time, actually he thinks a million times faster than the audience and can pre-generate a half-hour discourse in an eyeblink. And since he is able to model people's responses with uncanny accuracy, this works with dialogues just as well as with monologue. The editor of the sessions explicitly remarks how frustrated this makes unprepared listeners feel.
- In an example that more closely resembles "The Map Knew You Would Do That", Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has the Marauder's Map deny Snape access to its contents when he tries to view it, except for a series of four messages from the students that created it (according to Pottermore, the Marauders purposely enchanted the map "to forever repel (as insultingly as possible) the curiosity of their nemesis, Severus Snape", to prevent him from being able to use the map if he ever found it):
"Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people's business."
"Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git."
"Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor."
"Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball."
- In at least a couple of books in Margaret Peterson Haddix's The Missing series, the character Second manages this using a combination of knowledge he gained through time-travel and advanced technology.
- In Be A Perfect Person in Just Three Days! by Stephen Manes, the main character takes a peek at the last page of the eponymous self-help book he finds in the school library... and finds only a paragraph scolding him for trying to peek at the end.
- In Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell, Selena is reading aloud a letter Julia wrote her about Julia's vacation in Venice. Julia writes that "they have taken my passport," and Selena comments, "They can't do that to Julia. She is a British subject." The letter continues:
And it's no use your saying, Selena, that I am a British subject and they can't do that to me. They have done.
- When Tobimar sets out on his quest at the beginning of Phoenix Rising, his mother gives him a (magical) pre-recorded message from his mentor, Khoros, who had foreseen that he would be chosen for the task, and furthermore turns out to have successfully predicted and incorporated responses to Tobimar's reactions while viewing the message. Predicting people's actions turns out to be kind of Khoros's thing.
- In The Way of Kings, Dalinar's visions turn out to be a subversion. He seems to hold a meaningful conversation with the Almighty during each. Then, after one conversation derails in a way similar to the Ubik example above, he realizes it was actually a set of pre-recorded messages and the Almighty can't see or hear him. What Dalinar mistook for an important policy advice turns out to be something entirely unrelated. Oops.
- I Dream of Jeannie: Subverted in "Nobody Loves A Fat Astronaut". Major Nelson tries to call home, and argues with a "recording". In reality, it was Jeannie's sister pretending to be a recording.
- On Mad About You when Jamie's dead ex-boyfriend Alan leaves her a goodbye video, she gets into an argument with the television over exactly who dumped whom. Dead Alan then says that fact that he knew what she was going to say proves how truly compatible they were.
- Doctor Who:
- In "The Parting of the Ways", the Doctor's recording to Rose initially just looks straight ahead and recites its message, apparently unaware of anything Rose is doing. Then at the climax of the message, it seems to know that Rose has moved and turns to face her. This was intentional on the part of Russell T Davies.
- In "Blink", and the short story it was based on, Sally Sparrow sees a video of the Doctor that initially seems to be talking to her. It isn't, but it matches up later because he has a transcript of the whole conversation through a Stable Time Loop. Time is like a wibbly-wobbly ball, apparently. Of timey-wimey stuff.
- In the DVD extra "Inforarium". Turns out the reason the guard is so predictable is because he's stuck in a time loop.
Doctor: If you're trying to raise the alarm I wouldn't bother. Not really here. I'm a recorded message.
Guard: A what?
Doctor: A recorded message.
Guard: Then how can you be replying to me?
Doctor: You're very predictable.
- Hyde does this to Jackman in Jekyll (from the same writer as "Blink"): being a Superpowered Evil Side, he knows how Jackman thinks. He even pre-arranges for a new TV to be delivered just after Jackman has destroyed the old one 'cause the recording was freaking him out.
"Think of a number. No, do it Daddy! A big silly number, go on, it's a game. Say it out loud, a big fat number, any big fat number!"
"One hundred and three."
"One hundred and three."
- The plot of The Goodwin Games revolves around a series of Video Wills left by Benjamin Goodwin that detail a number of challenges that decide who will inherit his fortune. Even though Benjamin had been estranged from his children for several years, the tapes respond to things like Jimmy stealing a pen and Henry fast forwarding through a long poem.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus
- A sketch (the lead-in to the legendary Lumberjack Song) has a reluctant barber play a tape of hair-cutting sounds and small-talk:
Tape: I thought Hurst played well, sir.
Client: I beg your pardon?
Tape: (louder) I thought Hurst played well.
- Also an example in which a television broadcast not only predicts that a penguin on top of a television is going to explode, but also replies to Graham Chapman and John Cleese as two old ladies commenting on the absurdity of it:
Anchor: It's just about 8 o'clock, so it's time for the penguin on top of your television set to explode. (boom)
Chapman: HOW DID HE KNOW THAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!?
Anchor: It was an inspired guess.
- Although technically that doesn't count as a tape, since BBC continuity announcements in those days (and sometimes still today) were live.
- A sketch (the lead-in to the legendary Lumberjack Song) has a reluctant barber play a tape of hair-cutting sounds and small-talk:
- The IT Crowd
- Denholm not only knows enough to be prepared for his son to show up, but enough to know that he'll cause a fuss and start flirting, and prepare a specific tape for that circumstance. Also with Roy's troubleshooting audiotape, which answers the tech support phone by asking "Have you tried turning it off and on again?". Created out of sheer exasperation with the number of people whose problems can be solved with this.
- While his funeral tape originally assumed that smoking had killed him, Denholm's son later finds another letter addressed to him that names his cause of death correctly. This does not make sense and you are not supposed to care.
- Played straight in an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati, when one of Jennifer's elderly gentlemen friends dies and includes her in the execution of his will. He videotapes a message to be played for his various sponging relatives, at one point correctly mimicking one of their replies. As for Jennifer, whom the man's relatives assume is a mere golddigger, he requests she uses the rest of his money for a big parade. The relatives protest this seemingly ridiculous waste of money, but are stunned when Jennifer immediately starts making arrangements to fulfill his wishes without any thought of taking money for herself.
- The Daily Show/The Colbert Report
- Done by Stephen Colbert in one Daily Show/Colbert Report toss. Feigning laryngitis, he has prepared large flashcards with his side of the dialogue, explaining his condition — when Jon Stewart expresses sympathy for him, the next card reads "THANKS JON. THAT'S SWEET." (The whole toss plays off Jon's predictability, as it turns out Stephen has bet one of his staffers that Jon would believe the laryngitis story. He wins the bet.)
- Done again when John Oliver asks an anti-Muslim pastor who said he wouldn't let Muslims worship at his church if he thinks that a mosque would ever let Christians worship there. When he says no, John plays a pre-recorded video of himself at a mosque where that exact thing is really happening. He then pops up in the foreground and insults him.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer predated Colbert with a similar gag in the episode "Hush". When everyone in Sunnydale lost the ability to speak, Giles used an overhead projector and pre-written transparencies to brief the Scooby Gang on the Gentlemen, the demons responsible for stealing Sunnydale's voices. At one point, Buffy and Willow mime separate suggestions of how to dispose of the Gentlemen, and Giles immediately displays transparencies explaining why the plans wouldn't work. Not quite a straight example, though, since Giles is visibly annoyed that they interrupted him to ask the obvious questions instead of just letting him go to his next slide.
- Angel. Angel goes to see Fred in her Room Full of Crazy. He knocks on the door; inside Fred is looking at words she's just written on the wall; Go away, go away, go away, knocking.
- On Taxi, Latka pre-records his greetings to the drivers after he loses a bet with Tony and has to stay silent for a month. He mostly gets it right. In his defense, it was a reasonable guess.
Latka on tape: Hello Bobby... how is your career coming along?
Bobby: Fine. As a matter of fact...
Latka on tape: Sorry to hear that, Bobby.
- Taken to its logical extreme in Strangers with Candy, when Chuck Noblet goes on sick leave and leaves a tape recorder to teach his class. The tape knows Jerri will try to pass a note to her friend, orders her to come up to the front of the class and lectures her. When she gets fed up and fast-forwards it, it just says "Nice try." and continues the lesson.
- Played straight in the Dollhouse episode "Haunted", in which the personality of a deceased person is put into a doll who then solves her own murder and experiences a change of heart while she's at it. She changes her will accordingly. While the new will seems authentic (it's in her handwriting), the other characters comment that the tone of the letter is unlike her. She anticipates this and the last line of the will says as much.
- A skit from Chappelle's Show, purportedly introducing a posthumously released Tupac Shakur track starts out by vaguely describing events that happened long after Tupac's death to parody the theories of him still being alive. While several events in the video could be explained away, it ends with the tape observing and admonishing people in the club where it's being played, including repeatedly pointing out Dave shouldn't be there.
Recorded Tupac: ...And if you hit this table one more time then the record might sk—ight skip. I told you. Stop hitting the table.
- In Lexx, all of history is a Stable Time Loop, with each Cycle of Time connected to the last by the Time Prophet: a psychic who can see the future as it occurred in the previous cycle. When a petitioner asks her about some mineral deposits, she instead recites a message to Stanley Tweedle, knowing that 5000 years later, he will accidentally trigger an archived recording of this session during a crisis. (And when he forgets one digit from the address she has him memorize, she shouts it at him the moment he turns the tape back on.)
- The Goodies did this all the time, to the point that it was the Characteristic Trope. Tapes, videos, TV shows, movies, books, everything had a response to whatever anyone had to say. Illustrative example:
Graeme: (reading from a Kung Fu instruction manual) Now hold out your hand, and stick up two fingers.
(Tim holds up two fingers in the obscene V-sign)
Graeme: (still reading) No, not like that.
(Tim rotates his hand)
Graeme: (still reading) Yes, like that.
- In The Prisoner's spoof episode "The Girl who was Death" this happens as part of a Mission: Impossible parody, where Number Six as a secret agent is being given his instructions from an LP in a record store.
Record: There's very little help I can give you, I'm afraid. The enemy have been one step ahead of us all along.
Number Six: (sarcastic) Thank you very much.
Record: What was that?
Number Six: Nothing.
Record: Standard disguise.
- In Heroes, following the death of his father Kaito, Hiro finds a tape in which Kaito instructs him to never open the safe in the office. Needless to say, Hiro pauses the tape and opens the safe. Inside is a note saying "Press Play". Cue Kaito scolding Hiro. "I told you not to open the safe!" Then again, this seems like a reasonable precaution rather than a prediction of Hiro's actions. Kaito had to account for the possibility of Hiro ignoring his instructions. Plus Kaito is Hiro's dad. It's likely he knows his son well enough to guess that he'd be silly enough to open it. And according to a deleted scene, Kaito had the power to see all outcomes of anything, so he would see the possibility of Hiro opening the safe and planned accordingly.
- Whose Line Is It Anyway?
- Frequently played for laughs in the game "Improbable Mission", a parody of Mission: Impossible, that starts with a "mission tape" (usually Wayne Brady or Greg Proops talking off-camera), which would frequently answer back to Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles.
- Sometimes happens accidentally during "Newsflash"; Colin will say something about the video behind him without seeing it, which then changes to something that's hilarious considering what was just said.
Cuddy: How'd you know it was me?
- Dr. House does a variation of this: he knows the people around him well enough that he frequently tells them to stop doing whatever they're doing, just after they start doing it... when he's talking over the phone.
- A funnier example is when he anticipates the tests each of his students will do and the results and puts them in an envelope at the start.
- But fails epically when he starts scolding Cuddy as she enters his office, while facing the wall. It turns out to be the janitor. Cuddy enters some later, and House starts the scolding again with the very same words. Living tape on!
House: (nonchalantly) There's a scent given off by wounded, feral cats.
- Early on in Kamen Rider Kiva, Wataru is a semi-Hikikomori, covering his entire body and communicating using a notebook full of pre-written responses. At one point Megumi says "You can't possibly have every response you need in there!" — and Wataru immediately starts going through the book so he can respond. Minutes later, Megumi tries to unmask Wataru, and in the struggle he drops his notebook; a brief shot shows that it fell open on a page reading "Someone please stop her!"
- An extreme example on Flash Forward, where Demetri watches an 18-year-old video tape which starts talking to him.
- In Married... with Children, a lawyer is reading Al's uncle's will (and not looking at the other characters). At one point, the lawyer yells, "Al, get your hand out of your pants!"
- Nowhere Man has an episode where Thomas Veil finds a pirate broadcast show that mirrors his own situation. When he goes to the show's producer, the man eventually leaves the room and Veil goes to the tape recorder on which he'd been dictating the plot of the next episode. After rewinding it, he starts the tape, which talks about how the hero grabs a tape recorder, rewinds it, and starts it.
- In Spooks, Harry uses a clever ploy to outwit the Russian and Chinese spies who have managed to bug the Grid with microphones and are trying to kidnap or kill their CIA-backed contact, a computer hacker turned security consultant. He turns the spies' own equipment against them and manages to devise an entire conversation with them using the voice recordings to distract them while he and CO19 quietly infiltrate the enemy HQ.
- How I Met Your Mother
- When Barney skips work so he can enact a Zany Scheme, anyone who calls his office phone gets a pre-recorded message that makes it sound like Barney's at work but is too busy to talk at the moment. Of course, no matter who calls, the recording refers to them by the same name, but Barney gets around this by convincing each and every person at his office that "Big Chief" is his "secret nickname" for them.
- Barney also has one where in a video he makes years in advance, he not only predicted some of the responses, but also the seating arrangement (by turning to face Marshall when he reacted to a comment).
- This is the most plausible explanation for another Barney example. After asking a woman if she likes magic and getting a response of "Um, I guess...", he causes those exact words to appear on one of his hands, with the other hand showing her reaction of "Oh my God!" Later on, it's subverted; Marshall calls Barney a "jackass" and Barney shows his hand to say "You're a jerk!"
- In The Monkees second episode, while listening to a last will and testament on a phonograph record, one guest is shocked that he didn't inherit anything and the record promptly tells him to shut up.
- Breaking In: Oz has a PowerPoint presentation set up with responses to everything Cameron says.
Oz: I want this job handled ASAP. No questions.
Cameron: Why so secretive?
(Oz flips to the next slide: I SAID NO QUESTIONS.)
Cameron: Fine, but who's the old lady?
(Next slide: IT DOESN'T MATTER.)
Cameron: At least tell us what's in the safe.
(Next slide: DOESN'T CONCERN YOU.
Cameron: Any carnival psychic could come up with generic sentences like that.
(Next slide: COULD A CARNIVAL PSYCHIC DO THIS?
- He then caps the whole thing with a slide informing Cameron that his fly is open.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In one episode, the Grand Nagus sends Quark a recorded video message:
Nagus: Guess where I am, Quark.
Nagus: If you said Risa, guess again!
- In Stargate SG-1, a hologram of an Ancient gives some improbably helpful prerecorded responses to questions. But then the hologram turns out to be an Ascended Being pretending to be a hologram.
- Subverted in "Thor's Chariot", when it turns out the assumed message from the alien Thor is actually a real-time holographic communication.
- The Nanny
- Played with at the watching of the Video Will of Maxwell Sheffield's father.
- Also, when Fran has her night off, she's recorded a bedtime story reading for Gracie, complete with chiding her for kissing the TV screen goodnight.
- Occurs in the Community episode "The Psychology of Letting Go", when Pierce is listening to a CD left to him by his deceased mother.
Pierce's mom: Pierce? You found the CD, which means... I'm dead.
Pierce's mom: I'm not vaporized. I'm gone, Pierce.
- In later seasons of QI, obvious snarky comments or Running Gags are as likely to get contestants penalized as obvious wrong answers (the original purpose of the klaxon being the latter). In some cases, the anticipated "wrong answer" is remarkably detailed or accurate.
Stephen Fry: Now, tell me about the Great Disappointment.
Jo Brand: [buzzes] Have you been talking to my husband?
[klaxon] [Screen: "HAVE YOU BEEN TALKING TO MY HUSBAND?"]
- In the "Security Door" episode of NewsRadio, S 04 E 14, Dave prepares a slideshow to explain the new security door at the entrance to his employees and is able to accurately predict their questions and have corresponding visuals in his presentation, in the correct order, for his responses, including to the questions "What happens if there's an earthquake?" and "What if a wizard casts a spell on us?".
- 30 Rock
- Attempted and briefly successful: Jack confronts Gavin Volure, a friend of his who he believes to be a successful businessman, but is actually a criminal under house arrest for tax evasion. Gavin enters the restroom and continues talking to Jack. However, his responses seem rather generic, and Jack catches on quickly. He opens the door and sure enough Gavin has fled out a window and left a tape recorder. The tape goes on to compliment the acoustics in the room and then break into song.
- In another episode, Jack is in a museum looking at a painting and Liz walks up behind him, to have him address her by name without turning around. It's subverted when he admits that she isn't the first person he addressed that way since he got there.
- In The Patty Duke Show, Patty has taken a "vow of silence" to prove that she can go an extended period without running her mouth. She engages in a complete conversation with her boyfriend by responding to everything that he says with pre-written signs. Eventually he asks how she was able to anticipate his statements. Her reply: "You're predictable."
- Invoked by Adam Sandler in an episode of Saturday Night Live. Sandler faces the camera and tells his parents that he will not be able to visit them for Thanksgiving, so he instructs them to record the next few minutes on their VCR, while he sits in front of the camera, eating dinner and pretending have a conversation with them. His parents are instructed to place a TV at the dinner table where he would normally sit, and play back the recording during Thanksgiving dinner. It starts out with Sandler engaging in pleasant small talk (e.g., "Great turkey, Mom"), but quickly degenerates into arguing, yelling, and bitter accusations, and ends with him Calling the Old Man Out.
- Done by Sabrina's Grandmother in her video will in Raising Hope.
- The Red Dwarf episode "Fathers and Suns" has Dave make messages (then getting very drunk so he can forget he made them) in order to have a father and son chat with himself. Each message ends with him leaving instructions for himself to do before moving onto the next one. And each one begins with him shouting at himself for not following instructions.
- The radio on Gilligan's Island never knew what the castaways would say, but seemed to know when they were listening. The announcer would always begin the exact story they wanted to hear the moment they turned the radio on, and remain silent just long enough for them to discuss each item.
- Col. Potter invokes this trope upon the 4077th in one episode of M*A*S*H: he makes an announcement over the PA for everyone interested in volunteering for a particular assignment to report to the mess hall immediately, and for everyone else to report there five minutes earlier. He then waits a second for the anticipated (but unheard) grumblings from the camp, goes back on the PA, and replies, "Same to you."
- Happened on Too Close for Comfort. Henry received a message from his boss in a sealed envelope via his chauffeur, Regis (a tall, beautiful blond woman). Henry read the message and told Regis, "You tell him ...". Regis then pulled another envelope from inside her jacket and handed it to him, the second message being a response to what Henry said. The cycle lasted at least four envelopes.
- Get Smart.
Max: Now why would a good-looking kid like that turn to a life of crime?Newsreader: The fact that he couldn't do anything else made this good-looking kid turn to a life of crime.
- In "The Secret of Sam Vittorio", Max and 99 must impersonate an Outlaw Couple and are shown a newsreel of their exploits.
Chief: We know the Leader plans to get the theory out of the country tonight.
- Inverted in an episode spoofing Mission: Impossible, Max gets a taped briefing from the Chief.
Max: That doesn't give us much time.
Chief: That doesn't give us much time. Should he succeed in delivering Dr Helman's theory to KAOS headquarters in Europe, the human race will face extinction through Helmanitus.
Max: What is that?
Chief: I don't have to tell you what that is.
- Happens in House of Anubis when Patricia loses her voice and types up stuff to tell Eddie. Includes things like, "You should apologize for whatever cheeky comment you just made" and "Don't pretend like you have a packed schedule". Which of course, he did.
- Done heartwarmingly in Night Court episode "The Trouble is Not in Your Set". Harry makes a tape to help a woman, for whom the boundaries between reality and TV have blurred, to understand once more there is a difference. (And to get her to give up the grenade.)
- On an episode of Conan (on TBS), Steve Martin shows up with a Top Ten List titled "Top Ten Reasons Conan Will Try To Ruin This Bit". Conan tries to stop Martin, since this is clearly David Letterman's bit (even the onscreen font). Every item Martin reads is just what Conan says- like "Stop this!" and "Who the hell is that!" (in response to the sudden appearance of a Paul Schaffer lookalike).
Sam: Stop it!Dean: (reading) "Stop it!" Sam said. Guess what you do next? (Sam turns his back on Dean)Dean: "Sam turned his back on Dean, his face brooding and pensive." I mean, I don't know how he's doing it, but this guy is doing it. I can't see your face, but those are definitely your brooding and pensive shoulders.Sam: *sighs*Dean: (reading) You just thought I was a dick.Sam: Guy's good.
- "Hammer of the Gods". The Trickster leaves a DVD with the Winchesters. When they play it, it turns out to be a porn tape starring himself.
Sam: What the hell's going on?
Trickster: (aside glance) Sam, Dean; you're probably wondering what the hell's going on.
- In "The Monster at the End of This Book" Sam and Dean find their lives are written down in a horror book series called Supernatural. The author hands them an uncompleted manuscript, which Dean reads while sitting in a laundromat...about a scene involving Sam and Dean in a laundromat.
- "Hammer of the Gods". The Trickster leaves a DVD with the Winchesters. When they play it, it turns out to be a porn tape starring himself.
- Cleverly done with the TV audience on a David Copperfield magic special. David displayed an array of cards onscreen, and told the viewers to, starting with the center card, count off three cards in any direction. They he'd say "I sense that you did not land on Card #2, so I'll remove that one." This was a classic magician's "force": no matter which three cards you chose, it was mathematically impossible to land on Card #2. This continued until there was one card left — "chosen" simultaneously by millions of viewers.
- Person of Interest. A non-verbal version is Played for Drama at the end of "Risk". The protagonists have just thwarted a massive financial scam, and Detective Carter is told that the corrupt SEC investigator involved has committed suicide. Puzzled because she saw him being arrested, Carter checks CCTV footage of the arrest. It shows a police officer putting the SEC man into his squad car, turning to look directly at the camera, then leaving a mobile phone in a garbage can for her to find. When they dial the only number in the phone's memory, they're connected with a Big Bad from earlier in the season.
- Veronica Mars: When Cliff McCormack and Keith Mars confront Sheriff Lamb with a picture of him kissing Madison Sinclair, he replies "So what? She's eighteen — it's legal!" They reply that it sounds like a good re-election slogan, and show him another copy of the image with "She's 18, it's Legal!" superimposed.
- Poirot: Happens, somewhat amusingly, several times in Poirot's Voiceover Letter to Hastings in Curtain.
Poirot's Letter: For you see, Hastings... YOU killed her.Hastings: *I* killed her?!Poirot's Letter: Oui, mon ami, you did.
- The Basil Brush Show: The episode "Basil's Millions" revolves around Basil and Cousin Mortimer inheriting a large fortune from their deceased uncle Maximillion, who explains the terms of his will to them via a video recording of himself. He tells them that there is no point talking to him as he is just a recording, yet he is completely aware of everything they say, including Basil's attempts to convince him that he isn't interested in the money and Mortimer's failed attempt at remembering his name.
- My Hero: Cassie, the Sundays' precognitive baby daughter invokes this trope after becoming fed up with her parents' arguing over which school she should be sent to and running away from home, leaving behind a note which George involuntarily recites in her voice.
George (in Cassie's voice): Why didn't you ever ask me where I want to go to school? I'm the one with the prophetic gift.George (in his own voice): Yes, but it's a gift that's not properly developed Cassie.Turns paper over and starts reading the other sideGeorge (in Cassie's voice): It IS properly developed, as I am proving now.
- Major part of bizarre [adult swim] comedy The Heart She Holler, where the deceased Mayor has created countless videotapes for every possible conversation. These videotapes also include reactions to events and moments in the future he could not have known about, such as speaking to specific characters as they walk in to see his videos playing, giving monologues when nobody is watching, and most bizarrely, knowing when his daughter would try to bribe him with oral sex (him being, again, a video recording), and responding in turn.
- In the Tales of Tomorrow episode "The Children's Room", Walter's parents forbid him from reading the strange book given to him by the mysterious librarian, and his father tears out some pages and drops it in the wastebasket. When they've left, Walter retrieves it from the trash, and the very first passage he reads refers to how readers' parents have failed to take it away from them.
- A MAD piece about cheap-but-overpriced cable service had as the "psychic channel" loop of a woman saying to the camera "I knew you was going to do that".
- Done occasionally, when a "live conversation" taking place between someone in the ring and someone being broadcast over the big screen, turns out to have been a prerecorded statement as just a distraction for the wrestler to run up behind his target or conduct some other nefarious business backstage. Then again, many such things that are "supposed" to be live are still prerecorded and the entire conversation gets scripted, but in those cases it's not (intentionally) proven to be that way.
- Before a match with Cedric Alexander for Pro Wrestling Guerilla, Adam Cole had handed the ring announcer a note describing how he was going to beat ACH's ass, he meant Alexander. When the crowd responded "That was racist" the announcer then read that in the event of a "that was racist" chant the crowd could collectively suck Cole's dick.
- The Frantics:
- Last Will and Temperament. Boot To The Head! Every Boot To The Head. Perfectly timed with statements to get subjects to drop their BOOT TO THE HEAD *WHATHONK* guard.
- He didn't bother with the know-it-all nephew Ralston.
Lawyer: "To my know-it-all nephew Ralston..."
Ralston: This is so predictable...
Lawyer: "...I leave a boot to the head."
Ralston: I knew it!
- The Goon Show: In a surrealist rapid-fire comedy, it's no surprise that this happens every time a recording shows up. There's lots of great examples, but the most legitimate match to the trope is probably...
Moriarty: (on wax-cylinder gramophone) Next [in the bank break-in plan], do you have a match?
Seagoon: Yes, but they're all wet.
Moriarty: Curse! Wait here, I'll go get some. Taxi! (a car drives up and stops) To a tobbaconist's shop, and step on it! (car drives off)
Seagoon: (after a few seconds of silence) Blast, we've reached the end of the recording, now there's no way to get him back.
Bloodnock: Yes there is; play it backwards.
Seagoon: Of course! Turn it over, and... there!
Moriarty (recording): (car drives up) !Ti no pets dna pohs s'tsinoccabbot a oT (car starts up and drives off) !ixaT .emos teg og ll'I, ereh tiaT (recording skips)
Seagoon: What happened? (a phone rings, Seagoon answers) Hello?
Moriarty (on phone): You fools!
Seagoon: Moriarty! Where are you?
Moriarty (on phone): In hospital, badly scratched. You swines were using a blunt needle!
- Parodied in a published scenario for Cyberpunk 2020. The characters' employer briefs them about their mission with a recorded message. Near the end of the message, he asks, "Do you have any questions?" There is a pause, after which he says, "Sorry, I can't answer because I'm just a recording, you dumbasses."
- A board game called Atmosfear: Harbingers uses pre-recorded video for random events and a countdown timer for the game. On the video, a character and main antagonist called The Gatekeeper interrupts the game and announces the effect. About halfway through the game, The Gatekeeper asks for the player who, before starting the game, was selected to be the 'Chosen One.' He asks, "did you miss me?" to which the Chosen One will almost always say, "no." The Gatekeeper will respond with a snide and dismissive, "shut up."
- In the musical Lucky Stiff, the uncle of the protagonist, Harry, left his will in the form of a cassette tape. Said uncle was apparently able to predict Harry's reaction to various things despite the fact that the two had never met. Though, to be fair, it's not that hard to predict that a person's reaction to being told to take a corpse to the French Riviera on vacation would be to say it was impossible...
- The Real Inspector Hound employs this trope with the radio announcement. (Made doubly fun by stage directions which suggest that the radio voice be pre-recorded for the show.)
Radio voice: The killer has been spotted in the vicinity of isolated Muldoon Manor.
Mrs. Drudge: Muldoon Manor?
Radio voice: Yes, Muldoon Manor.
- In The Pajama Party Murders, Pettibone is listening to the first tape of Bartholomew Cosmo's instructions:
Cosmo: Well, Pettibone, we can take care of them, can't we?Pettibone: We can?Cosmo: Of course we can!
- Krew leaves behind a holographic will in Jak X Combat Racing. After he tells the group he wants them to race, he pauses long enough to let them protest, then tells them he knew that they'd refuse, so he's poisoned them. He then apologizes to Rayn for upsetting her, then pauses again so they can argue about how to get out of that mess.
- In the Mega Man X series, although at first Dr. Light's recordings are fairly plausible, by X4 they comment on very current events, even occasionally using the names of certain characters. It's implied that the holograms aren't just recordings but copies of Dr. Light's mind.
- Taken to an extreme in Assassin's Creed II: while Ezio is talking to Minerva, she suddenly breaks off, stares right at the camera, and addresses Desmond by name. Not only did The Hologram Know You Would Say That, but The Hologram Knew Your Descendant Would Be Following You Via Genetic Memory. Desmond's reaction is about the same as the player's. The third game apparently justifies it by indicating that Those Who Came Before may be able to see into the future on some level.
- In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Henry leaves an answering machine recording that replies to what Travis is saying, and the player is thinking.
Henry: Travis... Forgive your big brother, who was too much of a shitebag to thank you face to face.
Travis: How does he know which one of us popped out first?
Henry: You're prob'ly spoutin' off about which one of us popped out first. Point is, there's no honor in getting rescued by my younger, BABY brother. So, I took it upon myself to proper kill Scott Gardner, Greg Cantrell and Massimo Bellini. [...] I took pictures of the three skangers as souvenirs. You'll just have to drool over 'em, 'cause there's no way you can play through these fights. The game's stuffed full as it is.
- Team Fortress 2: In the comic for the Mann vs. Machine update, when the Sniper asks if they're going to get paid for destroying all the robots, Saxton Hale in the video tape responds "This is pre-taped, so I don't know what anybody's talking about right now, but I am not paying you for this."
- Discworld II uses a similar idea with a twist. Mrs. Cake, a seer, answers Rincewind's questions before he asks them. If the player replies to an answer with a wrong question, she says something like "make up your mind, young man" and the conversation has to be started over. A gag carried over from the books, where Mrs. Cake got terrible migraines if the other person deviated from the premonition.
- In Live A Live, Cube's chapter, you get repetitious video dialogues with the captain. Did you think the programmers were lazy? Well, maybe, but those later turn out to be a recording. The captain is long dead and the ship computer is keeping the ruse to kill the rest of the crew.
- In the second Dark Fall game, Parker reads the deranged lighthouse-keeper's journal, which taunts Parker - whose arrival the man had no plausible means of anticipating - by name.
- In Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction, Delta creates a message like this for Church. Notably, the usage of the trope here averts the nearly omniscient overtones that are usually present. When Church tries to mess with the recording by saying outrageous things, Delta simply responds by saying "stop testing me". This, of course, is handwaved by the fact that Delta is the Alpha AI's logic unit, and so explained that he used logic to predict what Church would ask his recording. He just happened to be remarkably accurate. Later reveals indicate this was helped by the fact that Church is the Alpha AI that Delta was originally split from.
- Narbonic has a version where a future version of Dave makes a recording for his own past self, who has temporarily taken over his body. Dave has perfect memory, so he's able to hold an entire conversation with himself by remembering what his responses were the first time.
past!Dave: [Running] would be *huff* a lot easier if you'd quit smoking at some point!
recording!Dave: Don't sass me, boy.
- There was also an arc where Artie would extrapolate what Dave or Helen were about to say and respond pre-emptively.
- In Skin Horse Artie has a card explaining his origin for large events.
Tip: Okay, you did not know what I was going to ask-
Artie: Other side.
Tip (reading): "I also have a biochemically-enhanced posthuman intellect. Of course I did."
- Happens in Experimental Webcomic Kotone between the main character and Professor Akira, and it's funny as hell.
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: "I know you didn't read all of it. Do it again." (Contains spoilers)
- In-character wise in a Darths & Droids strip.
- An earlier webcomic by Mark Sachs of A Miracle of Science fame — No Headroom — showed the protagonist conversing with a recording of his dead grandma◊. Which goes exactly as per trope, until...◊
- Done in Spiderwebs. Selena, bored moon goddess, recently accepted a new avatar, only leaving him with a little problem and a magical book. After the new avatar realizes she can't sleep at night, she decides to read the book.◊
Luna: There's no way. A book can not read minds, or answer questions.
Selena: No. No they can't. I'm just really good at guessing what you are going to do.
- Mindmistress has the eponymous superhero use her immense intellect to play out this trope with a series of flash cards against a super-fast opponent, showing that she predicted all of his actions in advance.
- Used in Persona 4TW almost word-for-word in the quote. Interestingly enough, this was unintentional.
- Doc from The Whiteboard builds "Backup Airsmith Hologram" to stay in the shop while he goes to the paintball field. He and Roger agree that a set of recorded messages is enough for the kind of clients they normally get. A subversion follows immediately.
- A variation in The Order of the Stick:
Redcloak: Do you actually expect me to believe that Xykon stopped in the middle of a battle to conduct a job interview?
Written note: Check it out, I totally conducted a job interview in the middle of a battle. —Xykon
- Ménage à 3 - Gary makes an unexpected trip to Paris and leaves only a small note explaining where he's gone. Zii complains that he'd have had more space in an e-mail.
Didi: (reading) "I did not email, as you girls never check your emails—"
Zii: Twitter, then!
Didi: "Or your Twitters..."
Didi: "Or Facebook."
- Sluggy Freelance:
- "Kesandru's Well" has a low-level version (ie. it involves no great ingenuity, but it still kind of works) when Torg skips a house meeting by putting a realistic facsimile of himself with Kiki the ferret inside in his place. He's given Kiki a recording of his voice repeating alternatively "I don't see what that has to do with anything!" and "A likely story." Gwynn manages to have a few rounds of conversation with it before she starts to feel like Torg's not even listening. When Kiki pops out and says that Torg's taking a nap, the voice recorder that she's holding goes "A likely story" again, and Kiki feels compelled to try to convince it: "No, really, Mr. Voice Recorder! He's taking a nap!"
- Another simple version in "Oceans Unmoving": When Kada finds and plays a recorded message left behind for her by Makz, who ebtrayed her earlier, the recording anticipates her first reaction to seeing him being to swear and call him names: "Now-now, Kada, your "fregs" bounce off me for this is commonly referred to as a "recording"."
- A character in Wapsi Square is reading a book of instructions written by herself from a previous time loop. Pretty much every time some instruction seems absurd to her or she yells at the book, the immediate next line is something in reaction.
- Questionable Content has Drunk Hannelore leaving post-it notes for her morning-after self. Many of them berate Sober Hannelore for ripping up the notes.
- In this The Hero of Three Faces strip, the Third Doctor explains to the agency on the other end of a one-way communication device how to turn it into a two-way device, apparently responding to their confusion even though his point is he can't currently hear them.
- In an episode of Otaku Generation Podcast that was uploaded in November of '06, A regular contributor by the name of Koko Moran left a voice-mail message on Skype for the crew since he was unavailable at the planned recording time. At one point he sort of goes off on a tangent and says, "Anyway, as I point out, nothing for nothing." at which point the hosts start to make a comment before the end of the voicemail, only to be interrupted by Koko saying, "Stop talking over me." Cue the laughter/surprise at how good the timing was.
- SCP Foundation: SCP-315 is a set of 95 of such videos, though each of them is one-use only. It is left unclear whether it is a genuine example, or if the videos are sentient.
- That Guy with the Glasses
Price: Yes, indeed; but I have made a deal with the nefarious forces of the netherworld to be able to see the future with a one-hundred-percent accuracy. You see, I knew you would question my rhyming in this review, so I recorded this message and I set it to come off at precisely this hour.The Critic: You mean you know exactly what I'm going to say ?Price: Pretty much.The Critic: This is crazy ! (…) And why, exactly, did you record this message ?Price: To satisfy your curiosity by telling you why I rhyme din that cinematographic adventure that was The Thief and the Cobbler.The Critic: …okay, WHY ?Price: …I forgot ! Oh, my, I have it on the tip of the tongue… it had something to do with a brand-new veeblefetzer and a couple of banana-splits…"
- In the movie Kickassia, The Nostalgia Critic calls everyone at Channel Awesome to tell them "It's time." However, he doesn't tell them what it's time for (taking over Molossia). When he calls That Chick with the Goggles, this exchange occurs:
Nostalgia Critic: Goggles?! It's time!
That Chick: It is?
Nostalgia Critic: We are taking over Molossia!
That Chick: We're taking over Molossia?!
Nostalgia Critic: That's right, so get your stuff together and come down to—
That Chick: Oh, by the way, this has been an answering machine the whole time. Leave your message after the beep! *beep!*
- This gets a Call Back as during Paw's Top 9 Composers video; Spoony tries to call Goggles but gets the same message as above. (Unlike the Nostalgia Critic he isn't tricked by the message, though, only confused by it.)
- Used again in his The Thief and the Cobbler review. As the Critic is wondering why Vincent Price's character is speaking in rhymes, he is called by Price, to which he answers "But you've been dead for a couple of years !". Cue this dialogue (quoted broadstroke).
Price: Don't worry, it is programmed to come off in exactly thirty seconds. (the Critic tries to escape) Thirty, twenty-nine, twenty-eight, twenty-seven, twenty-six, skip-a-few-five-four-three-two-one-The critic's house explodes.Price: Ooooh, I love when I'm nasty.
- The Critic angrily hangs up. He is called again by Price at the end of the review, who says he knew he'd hang up, and to get revenge set a time bomb where the Critic's house was to be built.
- In the Critic's review of Ghost Rider 2, Mike Jeavons from Shameful Sequels shows up in a prerecorded track hidden on the Critic's DVD. Apparently the movie was so boring that it gave Mike the power to predict the Critic's every word several years in the future, even allowing him to reference a Memetic Mutationnote that didn't exist yet.
- In the movie Kickassia, The Nostalgia Critic calls everyone at Channel Awesome to tell them "It's time." However, he doesn't tell them what it's time for (taking over Molossia). When he calls That Chick with the Goggles, this exchange occurs:
- A particularly meta example during a Retsupurae.note
- Taken to ridiculous extremes with the Prepared Interview.
- Played with in commodoreHUSTLE Episode 10: Judgment with Geoff. After Geoff steals the videos from Graham, he leaves a pre-recorded ransom note on the computer. After Graham, Matt, and Paul find this out, the computer video, which has been on a loop, gets to the end of the "conversation" after a long pause. This confuses the crew, since it's in response to nothing. However, then the ransom video starts the loop over again. It plays through this trope pretty much exactly, and when it gets to the end again, this time having a "conversation" with the crew, Graham says, "OK, that time works."
- Ninja The Mission Force
- Taken to the Logical Extreme when Gordon's wife has mysteriously disappeared. Fortunately for him, however, his wife disappeared immediately after completing her video recording project, in which she seemed to know everything he was going to say and every situation he was going to be in for the rest of his life and prepared a response accordingly. Gordon carries around a TV with the VHS tape of her constantly playing everywhere he goes when he's not being a ninja.
- In the second season, Gordon's wife may or may not have been rescued, and Gordon has been sent on a secret mission to Antarctica. Fortunately, his replacement has video recordings of Gordon to help her out.
- The religious Jewish Israeli comedy troupe Underdos has an example in its video of two cantors, Yochanan and Yehoshua, who are competing for a position. Yehoshua has forsworn non-essential speech. After Yochanan demonstrates the Ashrei portion of the liturgy and Yehoshua holds up a sign saying he will also sing "Ashrei like Yochanan", Yochanan asks in shock how Yehoshua knew he would pick that. Yehoshua then begins to hold up a series of signs for every possible thing Yochanan could have picked.
- An Untitled Abridger's abridged series of Another uses this extensively, as a character that committed suicide part-way through the anime continued communicating with everyone else exclusively through pre-recorded messages he had left behind along with instructions to play them at certain times for the rest of the entire series. He also had a barrel of unused winning lottery tickets left behind in his apartment, though that was just to show off.
- This little girl decided to communicate with notecards for an afternoon. She prepared notecards to answer all her mother's questions and remarks.
- X and Doctor Light have a very special prerecorded conversation. The entire conversation is full of correct reactions and such.
- The episode "A Night of Fright Is No Delight" featured an audio will in the form of a phonograph record:
Colonel on record: The house is haunted.
Colonel on record: Yes, haunted.
- Subverted in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, when the gang get stuck in Death Trap-filled mansion while being taunted over a radio by the man that set them, thinking they're the original Mystery Incorporated:
Man on the radio: You're wasting your time trying to confuse me, Brad and Judy, for this is just a recording of my voice that can't answer you!
Daphne: Uh, but you did just answer me.
Man over the radio: ... OK, fine, fine. I'm here!
- The episode "A Night of Fright Is No Delight" featured an audio will in the form of a phonograph record:
- Family Guy
- Peter's boss Mr. Weed leaves a video will that alerts his employees that the factory is to be destroyed "right now," a second before a wrecking ball crashes through the building.
- In the episode where Peter attends Meg's high school while pretending to be a student, he leaves a taped message to fool his wife, and though it works with the first two recorded lines, the third one is inappropriate and tips Lois off that it is a recording. The recording eventually asks to her, if she hasn't figured out it's a recording, to please flip it over to side 2.
- A Mexican guy knows only two very specific phrases in English (with a perfect accent) which lets him hold a small conversation with Brian.
Brian: Oh good, you speak English!
Mexican Guy: No, just that sentence and this one explaining it.
Brian: You're kidding, right?
Mexican Guy: Que?
- "Coming up, an expose on conveniently-placed news items on TV shows. But first, Peter, look out for that skateboard." (Peter then slips on a skateboard.)
- In one episode, Peter, has a protracted conversation with an actress on his TV, with her giving appropriate responses to everything he says. Cut to Bruce watching the same show at his home, "This is a weird episode".
- The episode "A Clone of My Own" has Prof. Farnsworth leave a recording for after he is taken to the Near Death Star. He correctly anticipates Bender making a joke at his expense and reveals that he has taken preemptive revenge by taping over Bender's soaps to make the recording.
- In "Obsoletely Fabulous", Bender meets an outdated cartridge robot that carries a bag filled with individual cartridges for responses and conversations.
- The Boondocks
- The episode "Wingmen" has 'Mo''s video will which asks Robert Freeman to read a eulogy, even though their friendship had ended on bad terms decades ago due to one-upmanship. The request is followed by about a minute of sucking up and pleading in order to get Robert to actually do it. It also tells him to sit back down after he jumps out of his seat in anger.
- A second tape was prepared for when Robert finally did do the eulogy. Mo also stares at him in a slightly pleading manner, waiting and timed right until he opens a case revealing his inheritance. Mo then mocks Robert after he finds his inheritance is nothing but a jar full of peanuts, or "DEEZ/MY NUTS", and brags that now that he's pranked Robert from beyond the grave, Robert can never get him back. In a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, Robert, who has learned from the episode, keeps the jar of nuts in his trophy room.
- Also in "Stinkmeaner" where Ruckus calls Robert, and Robert lets the answering machine pick it up. "Don't you walk away from this answering machine!"
- Played with a bit in Lilo & Stitch: The Series, where Experiment 625 makes a recording of Gantu's instructions early on in the episode. When he plays them back for Gantu later in the episode, Gantu starts to argue with his own recording, and (other than the fact that it's the same character on both sides) it sounds exactly like a real argument.
- The Batman: The Animated Series episode featuring the Clock King used this trope. Fugate's tape perfectly predicted what Batman would do, down to the second. Of course, this is Fugate's gimmick:
Clock King: (on tape) Sorry I couldn't be with you in person, Batman, but I've got a train to catch. This box contains a high-speed vacuum pump. I know you've got all kind of gas masks, so I'm putting you out of my misery by simply removing all the oxygen from the room. The process will take fifteen minutes...
(Batman takes a gadget from his belt and points it at the door)
Clock King: ...which is exactly seventeen minutes less than the time it would take you to burn through the door with that oxy-acetylene torch of yours.
(Batman puts the gadget away and approaches the pump box)
Clock King: Oh, and I don't recommend trying to open the pump's housing. It's rigged with a vibration-sensitive explosive. Of course, if you want to get blown to bits, that's fine with me. Either way, it's time to say adieu, Batman.
- A frequent Looney Tunes gag. Typically the character would respond to a radio news announcement, and the radio would answer back, somewhat sarcastically.
Speedy: It's that loco duck!Daffy: (over the radio) You're right, rodent!
- In "The Impatient Patient," Daffy — delivering a telegram to somebody named Chloe — has the hiccups and discovers a doctor's building with the sign in flashing neon. When Daffy says "I'll bet he can't cure the hiccups," the sign changes to "Oh, yes I can!".
- I Love to Singa and Cinderella Meets Fella, both of which are directed by Tex Avery, have a gag where a character is listening to the police over their radio. When a character wonders if they found who they are looking for, the radio replies they have not.
- The Egghead cartoon "Count Me Out" has Egghead learning boxing from a record which some how knows every time he messes up.
- The 1966 short Go Go Amigo has Daffy trying to stop Speedy and his friends from listening to the radio in his electronics store for free, and soon resorts to hijacking the radio station to play his own recording.
- As the page's quote says, the Dilbert television series had an episode in which Dilbert talks to a tape recording of his mother, during which he angrily asks if he's so predictable that she can tape her half of the conversation ahead of time. He is. To the point where it tells him to put back the soda bottle he tries to steal.
- On the Playhouse Disney series Stanley, the goldfish Dennis always lamented Harry and Elsies' singing their song about The Great Big Book of Everything. At one point in the film Stanley's Dinosaur Round-Up, Harry was otherwise occupied, but he and Elsie left behind a tape on which they performed the song. After the initial portion of the song, Dennis commented that they couldn't finish the song because they didn't know what animal Stanley was looking for. Cue the remainder of the tape— "We don't know what you're looking for / But the book will help complete your chorrrre!"
- An episode of The Zeta Project has Bucky trigger a dormant message for help left in Zeta's holographic projector. Twice in the recording Bucky knows that Ro just insulted him, but he was only able to get the exact insult right the first time.
- The Danger Mouse episode "Duckula Meets Frankenstoat" features a taped transmission from Colonel K:
Colonel K: Ah, there you are DM. I'm sending this recorded message...
DM: Recorded message?
Colonel K: Don't interrupt, DM. I had to send this recorded message as normal communications aren't available.
DM: (reading) "Into the caverns and down the stairs
- In "Where There's A Well, There's A Way," DM and Penfold follow the directions of a scroll en route to the Mystic Inkwell of Merlin:
Must go the ones who would make it theirs..."
Penfold: "Theirs"? "Their" what? What's it talking about?
DM: Just a minute, Penfold...(reading) "The wish I mean, of course, that's what.
Forgotten already, you stupid clot?"
- Inverted in Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Interviews were recorded ahead of time, but the questions Space Ghost asks are different than the ones the guest is answering, giving the impression that someone intended this trope, but Space Ghost got the tape instead of the intended recipient.
- In The Venture Bros., Before getting his mind wiped, Hank records a message for his post mind wiped self, which accurately predicts Hank's reactions.
- Superfriends (1973-74) episode "The Androids". The Superfriends are listening to a tape recording sent by Dr. Rebos.
Dr. Rebos: You have disregarded my warning and so I had to sabotage your Venus probe.
Batman: Do you suppose he knows about the upcoming manned launch to Mars?
Dr. Rebos: Your upcoming manned launch to Mars is next [snip] unless you call a complete halt to your space program forever.
Superman: Of all the dirty, lowdown...
Dr. Rebos: This is not dirty and lowdown!
- In the "Prank Callers" episode of Regular Show, Mordecai and Rigby pull this on the Master Prank Caller by way of an answering machine recording. He doesn't take it well.
- Mighty Max: One of Virgil's summons to Max involves a video tape delivered to Max's home in "Werewolves of Dunneglen". Virgil correctly responds to Max's queries and reminds Max that this is a recording when Max wonders if it's a live broadcast. Almost all of Virgil's messages have traces of this.
- In Dan Vs. "The Fancy Restaurant," Dan writes a message on the cheesecake Chris and Elise ordered for dessert, telling Chris to meet him in the men's room. Elise comments, "This is weird," and the waiter immediately appears with another cheesecake reading, "It's not weird. Don't listen to Elise."
- In the The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode "Groundpiglet Day", after Rabbit accuses Piglet of lying about Groundhog Day when there's snow in the Hundred Acre Wood (long story), the distraught little animal leaves him a note saying he's off in search of a groundhog. A very surprised Rabbit replies, "He must be kidding", and then reads further to find Piglet also wrote, "P.S. I'm not kidding."
- A zig-zag: In the Inspector cartoon Plastered in Paris, the Inspector and Sgt. Deux Deux are eating lunch in their patrol car — the Inspector trades his sandwich for Deux Deux's garlic/tabasco/chili peppers repast — when the Commissioner calls them about a mysterious figure named Mister X. The Commissioner ends the transmission to the Inspector with "And stop eating garlic!!"
- Spongebob Squarepants
- One episode features SpongeBob going to Squidward's to ask if he wanted to do something together and finding at his door a piece of paper with "NO" written on it. As SpongeBob asked if Squidward was sure, he removed the paper, only to find one with "YES" written on it.
- Another had Patrick watching the news announcing that a ride which Spongebob is on has broken down:
Patrick: Oh my God! (beat) I'm out of mustard!
Broadcaster: Dude, your best friend is in danger!
- From "Squidville"
Squid in Commercial: Would you rather tear out your brain stem, walk out into the middle of the nearest three-way-
Squidward: Four Way!
Squid in Commercial: Four-way intersection, and skip rope with it, than continue living where you do now?
- Played with in Adventure Time.
Jake: But Dad, Finn's already figured that out. He's a good kid with a kind heart.
Joshua: Remember, Jake, this is a pre-recorded holo-message. I can't hear you if you're talking to me right now.
(and then moments later...)
Joshua: Ya gotta call Finn a whiny baby.
Joshua: Butts are for pooping!
- The title character of Archer uses this gag relentlessly on his voicemail message, usually causing his mother to hold lengthy conversations with it. Inverted on the rare occasion when Archer actually answers his phone but his mother thinks it's another elaborate recording.
- When Phineas and Ferb's mother decides to take a French audio course:
(A spaceship has just landed behind her.) The spaceship is right behind you. Le vaisseau spatial est juste derrière vous.
(The title characters start boarding) Your children are climbing in the spaceship now. Vos enfants sont à la hausse dans le vaisseau spatial aujourd'hui.
(It takes off) Oh, for the love of- would you turn around? Oh, pour l'amour de- serait que vous tournez autour?
- In the Popeye cartoon "Seein' Red, White And Blue", Bluto received a Conscription letter and protested they couldn't do that to him. He then looked another section of the letter and it said "Oh yes, we can".
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes does this gag with a message Sammy prerecorded in a tree.
Sammy: On the 5th of Lucapril, all Miseryvillians go into hibernation. Why, you may ask? (beat, clears throat) WHY, YOU MAY ASK?
- Gazpacho's recording in the Chowder episode "Chowder Grows Up". It even says "Wait! I'm still talking!" when Mung closes the shutter while it is still playing.
- The Simpsons
Spirit Guide in Homer's head: Find your soulmate, Homer.Homer: But where? Where?Spirit Guide in Homer's head: I'm just your memory. I can't give you any new information.
- Inverted on the episode "Marge Be Not Proud" with the Try-N-Save security chief Don Brodka (Lawrence Tierney) holding a conversation with what he — but not the audience — knew all along was a recording. Tierney didn't get it at all.
- In one episode Principal Skinner makes a PA announcement requesting a student volunteer, Lisa raises her hand. Skinner pauses and says, "Can I assume the only hand raised is Lisa Simpson's?" then pauses again, then says, "Thank you Lisa".
- In the episode "Gone Maggie Gone," Lisa has to decipher an ancient Catholic prophecy about a jewel that will bring world peace. She eventually realizes the final clue is an anagram that can be rearranged to say "Regally, the rock gem is Lisa," which obviously excites her. When the nuns show up, however, they act exasperated and rearrange the letters to spell out "It's really Maggie, Sherlock." Lisa Lampshades the fact that that message only works because she got it wrong the first time, but sure enough it's right.
- Subverted in "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer:" Homer meets his spirit guide, and later remembers his words.
- Detentionaire: Radcircles tries this to fake a message to Lee, to hide that he is actually with him at the time. Unusually, Lee actually participates in the knock-knock joke for once, so it fails when the recording assumes he didn't.
- In Birdz, Eddie tries to pull it on his away-from-home mom by recording an answering machine prompt structured like this, in an attempt to fool his calling parents into thinking that he's still home, babysitting his sister, rather than at a club. It doesn't works.
- Ghostbusters. Zero's secret messages would sometimes do this. The first episode's message references the ghost of gangster Big Al. Spenser muses, "I wonder what he's up to?" and the tape replies, "Down to."
- The Great Big Book of Everything in Yoohoo and Friends does this sometimes, containing sarcastic replies to questions the animals look up.
How would I know? I'm just a book, not the cloud master or something!
- In "An Apple for Starlight" from My Little Pony Tales, Ms. Hackney has to leave class because she isn't feeling well, but puts Starlight in charge and leaves behind a tape player and a tape with everyone's lessons on it. It's soon proved that she's somewhat skilled in this, though it's still not enough to keep the kids from acting up because she's gone.
- In one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Babs' mother is out for the evening, but leaves her a note with a list of chores she wants her to do before she gets back. As Babs makes a face in disgust over the list, the note then reads, "Don't turn your nose up, young lady!"
- In Gravity Falls, while the group try to escape The Monster of the Week in a very slow sky tram.
Recording: Welcome to Trambience, the world's slowest treetop tram ride. Enjoy the sights at 0.1 miles per hour.Dipper: Ugh, can't this thing go any faster?Recording: No it can't. This is Trambience.
- When Little Audrey is baking a cake by radio instructions and she grabs a handful of salt when the radio said a pinch the radio stops her by saying, "Hey, not so much!".
- Steven Universe: When Steven finds Peridot's tape-recorded diary, he can't resist listening to it. But when he gets to the end, he hears a message from Garnet telling him he's heard enough and to give the tape recorder back to Peridot now.
- Automated active telemarketing systems take advantage of this. A call is made, and if a certain pattern of silence/sound/silence is detected (that would be a person saying "Hello" or their name and waiting for a reply), the system assumes there's a real person on the line, and the call is automatically switched to a live operator.
- This technique was made fun of in one of the Broken Sword games, when you can listen to messages left on the answering machine. One of them is an automated telemarketer calling about soffits. Part of the call is "When was the last time you had your soffits checked? (Long pause). Hmmm, I thought so.".
- A thought experiment about doing this in a book form is called Einstein's Mind. If you could set up a book so that it would have all of the correct responses for any query, would the book be sentient or not?
- Also known as the Chinese room. By extension, this is the basic concept for many Q&A AI, such as chatbots.
- This guy recorded a tape of himself 20 years ago. Here's him having a conversation with 12-year-old-him.
- Some people have been known to troll their friends by simulating their half of a conversation and recording it to their voicemail.