Dilbert: Am I so predictable that you can record your side of the conversation in advance? DilMom on tape: Yes, you are so predictable that I can record my side of the conversation in advance. —Dilbert
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.
Lelouch from Code Geass prerecorded his part of two full-length conversations with three different people.
In one early episode he preserves his Secret Identity by being in the room with Kallen when Zero calls her on the phone, but that doesn't count since the pre-recorded "Zero" just gives her instructions and hangs up.
Second reviews with hindsight show that all the recordings were far from flawless. Lelouch interrupted his opponents a lot and generally ignored their answers simply pushing his line. In the first case, he also remained silent for overly long, causing the person he was trying to fool to ask "Cat got your tongue?" before he resumed the pre-recorded message. He never intended this recordings to be anything more than a distraction anyway.
In the original Japanese, this trope is pushed to the limit in Lelouch's conversation with Schneizel, as he predicts exactly what the other party will say and at one point manages to interrupt him at exactly the right time. 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...
Case Closed: 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.
A pre-recorded hologram of Najimi from Medaka Box was able to predict when Misogi would try to look up her skirt, and kick him in the face accordingly.
In Definine ArticleEddie 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.
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!"
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.
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.
Duo: If that was a joke, it sucked. If you were being sarcastic, it was even worse.
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."
Films — Animation
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.
A variant in The Master of Disguise starts with "I am a prerecorded hologram; what is your question?" and goes from there.
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 II, Supes asks for love advice from a recording of his late mother. Subverted when Luthor infiltrates the Fortress of Solitude and selects the data crystal with information about General Zod.
Lara: I had hoped that you would not have to ask me this question. Luthor: What's she talking about? I didn't ask her anything.
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?
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. Subverted 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. (phone rings) Ferris: You're not dying, you just can't think of anything good to do.
The movie I, Robot inverts this. Dr. Lanning leaves a 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 say. 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 theearliest 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 Brewsters 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!
A variant in Primer: Aaron records all his conversations before traveling back to the first day of the storyline, then listens to them and repeats his lines to ensure that everything goes as before. The ploy is revealed when Abe travels back and takes his past self's place - he deviates from the original conversation, resulting in Aaron responding to something he didn't say.
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! (long pause) 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."
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.
A variant in In And 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.
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.
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?
Lampshaded and subverted 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.
In "The Last Command" by Arthur C. Clarke the leader of the Soviet Union has recorded taped orders for a huge variety of situations for the crew of a station in deep space armed with atomic bombs, to be used as a weapon against the United States.
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 deceased millionaire even has a stored away message that informs the characters that they're all wrong in their deductions on his murderer. There turns out to be a legitimate reason for this uncanniness, though: 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."
"Sit down, Grace Windsor Wexler!"
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. Arguably justified, as Artemis is watching a video of himself. It's not too much of a stretch to think that Artemis would know how Artemis would respond.
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."
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.
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:
"GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF THIS, YOU THIEVING DEVILS! YES, WE KNOW IT'S YOU! PUT THEM BACK THIS INSTANT!"
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.
A variant in Daniel Suarez' Daemon. The Daemon is nothing more than a set of computer programs (admittedly, highly advanced) written by Matthew Sobol before his death. However Sobol programmed enough flexibility contingencies into it that it can react to every threat presented to it with an appropriate response. The preprogrammed CGI "doppelganger" of Sobol is sophisticated enough to have conversations with people to a limited degree. (It can be confused by statements to which it has no appropriate response, in which case it will inform you that you need to re-frame your query.)
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:
"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.
A variant was used in one of the Philo Vance novels. The murderer used a recording to give himself an alibi, with a carefully-timed gap where he could be witnessed responding to what was being said.
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.
Queer as Folk: When Emmett's Sugar Daddy George died, he leaves him ten million dollars, and a video that explains why, allowing Emmet to have an extended conversation with the deceased.
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.
In "The Parting of the Ways": The Doctor's recorded message to Rose: at the climax of the message — and only then — the recording 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 (written by 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." "Oh God."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Cuddy: How'd you know it was me? House: (nonchalantly) There's a scent given off by wounded, feral cats.
A partial subversion occurs in Scrubs, when Elliot and the Janitor discover that Kelso, who has been for years claiming to be in his late 50s, is actually 65. Immediately after Elliot informs Kelso in front of a lift (elevator) that she knows he's 65, the lift (elevator) doors open and the Janitor is revealed, who tells Kelso, "You're old!" He then laughs and adds, "I've been saying that every time the doors opened for the last two hours, and I finally got my guy."
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. He actually has to hunt through the book to find the appropriate responses, but at one point Megumi says "You can't possibly have every response you need in there!" — and Wataru immediately starts going through the book for the proper response. Minutes later when Megumi is forcibly trying to unmask Wataru, there's a brief shot of the notebook lying on the table, the open 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.
It went further than that. The last segment of the pirate TV broadcast was run live at the same time Thomas Veil was doing what the producers of the show expected (going after the file that explains why he was erased), and it cut between the two broadcasts, where the actions mirrored each other. The producers had previously told Veil that when somebody wants something badly enough they become predictable. In the TV broadcast, the character trips a trap in the file roomwhich locks the door and pumps out poison gas when he opens the file. Veil himself turned off the lights in the file room, confusing the producer. When he went to check the file, he found it in the cabinet and unthinkingly pulled it out himself, triggering the trap. Veil himself lampshaded the event with a post it note, telling the producer he was right; when somebody wanted something badly enough they became predictable.
Played with a little bit in Spooks, when in a later episode in Season 9 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, after they use voice recordings of him to give false orders to Lucas (out in the field), 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. Note he isn't speaking during the operation as he needs to stay quiet in the stealth attack, so using the voice recordings is the only option.
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.
A variant of this can be seen in the episode "Civil Defense". Gul Dukat has recorded his response in case the Bajoran workers on the station decided to revolt, in case they decided to surrender, in case they managed to escape the mines, in case they managed to disable the life support system, in case they tried to fool the computer into thinking they are Gul Dukat... and Legate Kell has recorded a response in case Gul Dukat attempts to escape the station during such crisis.
In another episode, the Grand Nagus sends Quark a recorded video message:
Nagus: Guess where I am, Quark. Quark: Risa? Nagus: If you said Risa, guess again!
Seemingly played straight in Stargate SG-1 with a hologram of an Ancient, which gives some improbably helpful prerecorded responses to questions. Subverted when the hologram turns out to be an Ascended Being pretending to be a hologram.
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.
Played with in an episode of NCIS. Gibbs thinks he's having a phone conversation with the antagonist, but it turns out to be a series of tapes, played by a computer program according to specific words Gibbs responds with.
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: Vaporized. Pierce's mom: I'm not vaporized. I'm gone, Pierce.
An interesting take on this is in a later season episode of Andromeda. Dylan is having a conversation with a recording, but the recording has a limited AI so it can react more convincingly to Dylan.
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?".
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.
The "sign" variant is used 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.
Chief: We know the Leader plans to get the theory out of the country tonight. 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).
"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.
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.
Dean: (reading) You just thought I was a dick.
Sam: Guy's good.
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 shot himself. Puzzled because she saw the man 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.
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".
Invoked 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.
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." *WHATHONK* 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.
Krew leaves behind a holographic will in Jak X. 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.
Team Fortress 2: In the comic for the Mann vs. Machine update, when the team asks if they're going to get paid for destroying all the robots, the video tape responds roughly with "This is a recorded tape, so I have no idea what anyone is saying, but no one is getting paid for destroying the robots.
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 ErogeSnow Sakura, the main character's father sends him tapes like this repeatedly including, in one endingsending him a wedding ring needed to propose to his Love Interest (and cousin) weeks before it's needed, and orchestrating the entire proposal via tape.
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.
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.
Subverted to the highest degree in the Spanish-language Planeta Absurdo, when the supervillain tape begins to address two characters who, at the moment, are busy playing a tabletop game. And made even weirder because said supervillain is supposed to be a precognitor.
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 4 TW almost word-for-word in the quote. Interestingly enough, this was unintentional.
Theo: So events like the recent chain of tiny manipulations that destroyed Pi's explosives won't constantly be shattering my illusions of free agency? Petey: No one else figured that out. You're very astute. Theo: Oh no. You knew we'd be having this conversation. Petey: Very, very, astute.
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.
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 Redcloak: *sigh*
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..." Zii: Face— Didi: "Or Facebook."
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.
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.)
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."
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.
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. Scooby: Rhaunted? 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!
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 variation: A Mexican guy that 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?
Played with when Lois's father has a heart attack. It turns out he has recorded a wide variety of video wills, so the lawyer has to fast forward through them to reach the right one. However, the video wills themselves are extremely specific making him Crazy-Prepared for his demise.
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 pre-emptive revenge by recording his message on a tape with Bender's favorite soap operas.
In "Obsoletely Fabulous", Bender meets an outdated cartridge robot that carries a bag filled with individual cartridges for responses and conversations.
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!"
A frequent Looney Tunes gag. Typically the character would respond to a radio news announcement, and the radio would answer back, somewhat sarcastically.
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.
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 partially subverted in that 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.
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. 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."
On an episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Piglet leaves Rabbit 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!!"
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!
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?
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. Jake: But— 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.
A variation appears 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.
In Motorcity we get a variant of this with crayon drawings in "The Duke of Detroit Presents". It is played with, obviously the Duke prepared the drawings ahead of time and placed them in the appropiate order and correctly predicted what Mike might say, but he might have been having the conversation realtime. It is a little complicated, just watch this video it starts at 0:15. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-urSLH58zMQ .
There was a variation in The Brak Show with a newspaper story that had information the writer had no way of knowing.
Dad: According to this he has used Zorak's money to purchase the most splendid mansion in Mansionland. Zorak: He said we were broke! Dad: No, it says here that was a lie.
Inverted on the episode "Marge Be Not Proud" with mall 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".
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.
Suprisingly averted in Superman: The Animated Series, however... where Jor-El's recording, despite being a mentally beamed photorealistic hologram, does NOT respond to any of Superman's frantic pleas.
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 book 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!
Once, my 9th grade science teacher knew she would be taking a day off, so she recorded a tape that played on top of a Power Point for us to take notes off. She asked us to raise our hands to demonstrate an example she gave (no one did, of course), she paused, and then said, "Guys, I told you to raise your hands!"
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 to be harassed offered wonderful opportunities, 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?