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Staging The Eavesdrop

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One or more characters say something loudly with the explicit intent of being eavesdropped on.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
ZuTheSkunk on Nov 6th 2017 at 10:19:39 PM
Last Edited By:
ZuTheSkunk on Nov 27th 2017 at 5:20:35 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

What do you do if you have an information you want to spread around, but want to do it in a way where other people think they just overheard something important? Why, just say it as loudly and exaggeratedly as possible!

The reasons for this may vary. Maybe you want to Feed the Mole some false information. Maybe you want to get rid of a dangerous property by claiming that it's full of riches, thus exploiting other people's greed. Maybe you want to tell someone about something without speaking to them directly. Whatever the reasons, this is a case where one or more characters try to intentionally invoke Exact Eavesdropping on others in order to achieve some kind of goal.

Not to be confused with Bluff the Eavesdropper, which is about characters noticing that they're being listened to and changing the conversation accordingly.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime And Manga 
  • In Girls und Panzer, Commander Nishizumi notices a weather balloon with aerial during a tankery match against Saunders, and deduces correctly that Saunders is listening in to their inter-vehicle traffic. She exploits this by pretending to conceal her flag tank in some woods near a crossroads, and radioing the rest of her forces to conduct reconnaissance. Saunders falls for it, and they dispatch an attack force to that site. There, they discover to their chagrin that the crossroads are a kill zone, with Oarai guns raining shells upon them from the high ground.

    Comic Books 
  • In Les Tuniques Bleues, one story has a Southern teenager join the Union army as a spy and get caught. Blutch goes into the Rebel camp and arranges a plan with the kid's older brother. The brother is imprisoned in the Union camp (guarded by Blutch), then Chesterfield goes in to come up with an escape plan, LOUDLY REPEATING WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO NEED SUCH AS FILES AND HORSES for Blutch's benefit. The whole thing succeeds, not least of all because no one in the Union camp wanted to be part of a sixteen-year-old's execution.
  • In Suske en Wiske, in the story De Gouden Cirkel (The Golden Circle), the heroes go up against an evil cult while in China. Wiske plans to allow herself to get abducted by said cult so she can lure them into a trap. To do so, she goes to a restaurant and when placing her order tells the waiter to hurry up since the cult is after her, loud enough for all the customers to hear. Just as she expected, one of the customers is a cult member who immediately calls his fellow cult members.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Harry Potter and the Cracked Reservoir, Harry, in order to protect Ginny, arranges for a few Death Eater kids to overhear them arguing about a fake prophecy, one claiming harm to Ginny will result in Harry unlocking his full potential.

    Films - Live-Action 
  • In The Lavender Hill Mob, Holland and Pendlebury publicly discuss that they left the safe open. They wait in the building at night, and when thieves break in, they recruit them into their criminal scheme.
  • In Midway (a World War II Dramatization), American Navy Intelligence deduce that the Japanese are planning on targeting two sites, coded A-F and A-O. The air base on Midway Island is instructed to radio in the clear that its fresh water condenser is broken in the hope that the Japanese intercept it and radio this update to Fleet Command. The Japanese fall for it and the US Navy had the confirmation they needed: A-F is Midway Island.

    Literature 
  • In Animorphs, after David has the group on the ropes thinking he killed Tobias, they stage a conversation in the barn where they admit he has them beaten before discussing out loud what to do next. Tobias reports that a rattlesnake left the barn soon after they did, confirming that he took the bait, allowing them to get rid of David.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it's revealed that the fake Moody staged a loud conversation with Professor McGonagall (who had no idea of the impostor Moody's intentions) about the properties of Gillyweed, so that Dobby would overhear and quickly give some to Harry in order for him to complete the second task in the Triwizard Tournament.

    Theatre 
  • In Much Ado About Nothing, this is how Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into falling in love (or admitting that they love each other). First Claudio, Don Pedro, and Leonato stage a conversation about how Beatrice is in love with Benedick while Benedick is eavesdropping, then Hero and her maidservants do the same thing to Beatrice. In each case, the eavesdropper is convinced that if the other is in love with them then they should requite the love.

    Web Comics 
  • In Spacetrawler, Pierrot and Krep become guests of King (of the civilized, underground Mihrgoots), who's been hiding the existence of his faction from the outside universe. To maintain the masquerade, King has to wipe Pierrot's and Krep's memories of the visit. He arranges everything so his mind-wiped guests can think they're escaping from a prison. This includes two cooks having a conversation nearby, to give away the exact information needed for the escape.

    Video Games 
  • In Gothic, one of the tasks you need to complete in order to join the Swamp Camp is to find a way of having Baals, i.e. the spiritual leaders of the camp, speak to you. Newcomers are not allowed to speak with Baals, so it must be the Baal who speaks to the newcomer first. Lester, a friendly resident of the camp, suggests that in the case of Baal Namib, what you can do is making him think that you just had a vision from their god and you've renounced the other gods because of it. To do this, Lester and your character stage a comically exaggerated conversation where they almost scream everything they say while standing right next to Baal Namib. It works.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, this is how Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee formed their alliance with the Dai Li. Knowing the Dai Li would be monitoring them, Azula arranges for Dai Li agents to overhear Mai and Ty Lee "accidentally" outing themselves as Fire Nation infiltrators. This prompts the Dai Li, angry at the Earth King due to the recent imprisonment of their leader, to make an alliance with Azula and company where both sides look to use the other.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Bossy Boots", Mr. Krabs tasks Spongebob with firing Pearl (since he doesn't have the heart to do it himself). After Pearl reveals to Spongebob that she wants to be fired, the two decide to stage an overly-dramatic firing for Krabs to hear from behind the door to his office.

Feedback: 17 replies

Nov 6th 2017 at 10:38:54 PM

  • In Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, it's revealed that the fake Moody staged a loud conversation with Professor McGonagall (who had no idea of the impostor Moody's intentions) about the properties of Gillyweed, so that Dobby would overhear and quickly give some to Harry in order for him to complete the second task in the Triwizard Tournament.

Nov 7th 2017 at 8:39:32 AM

^ It doesn't seem to be the exact same thing though, since it involves people noticing that they're being listened to and changing their discussion accordingly, while here getting someone to eavesdrop is the goal from the very start.

Bluff The Eavesdropper could be a subtrope then, or at the very least, it could use a rewrite of the description to cover staged cases as well.

Nov 7th 2017 at 8:21:18 AM

  • Les Tuniques Bleues: One story has a Southern teenager join the Union army as a spy and get caught. Blutch goes into the Rebel camp and arranges a plan with the kid's older brother. The brother is imprisoned in the Union camp (guarded by Blutch), then Chesterfield goes in to come up with an escape plan, LOUDLY REPEATING WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO NEED SUCH AS FILES AND HORSES for Blutch's benefit. The whole thing succeeds, not least of all because no one in the Union camp wanted to be part of a sixteen-year-old's execution.
  • Animorphs: After David has the group on the ropes thinking he killed Tobias, they stage a conversation in the barn where they admit he has them beaten before discussing out loud what to do next. Tobias reports that a rattlesnake left the barn soon after they did, confirming that he took the bait, allowing them to get rid of David.

Nov 7th 2017 at 12:49:31 PM

Context for the Spacetrawler example:

  • In Spacetrawler, Pierrot and Krep becomes guests of King (of the civilized, underground Mihrgoots), who's been hiding the existence of his faction from the outside universe. To maintain the masquerade, King has to wipe Pierrot's and Krep's memories of the visit. He arranges everything so his mind-wiped guests can think they're escaping from a prison. This includes two cooks having a conversation nearby, to give away the exact information needed for the escape.

Nov 8th 2017 at 6:15:01 AM

  • Sponge V Bob Square Pants: In "Bossy Boots", Mr. Krabs tasks SpongeBob with firing Pearl (since he doesn't have the heart to do it himself). After Pearl reveals to him she wants to be fired, the two decide stage an overly-dramatic firing for Krabs to hear.

Nov 8th 2017 at 6:19:33 AM

  • This is how Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee formed their alliance with the Dai Li in Avatar The Last Airbender. Knowing the Dai Li would be monitoring them, Azula arranges for Dai Li agents to overhear Mai and Ty Lee "accidentally" outing themselves as Fire Nation infiltrators. This prompts the Dai Li, angry at the Earth King due to the recent imprisonment of their leader, to make an alliance with Azula and company where both sides look to use the other.

Nov 8th 2017 at 11:15:33 PM

  • Suske En Wiske: In the story De Gouden Cirkel (The Golden Circle), while in China, the heroes go up against an evil cult. Wiske plans to allow herself to get abducted by said cult so she can lure them into a trap. To do so, she goes to a restaurant and when placing her order tells the waiter to hurry up since the cult is after here, loud enough for all the customers to hear. Just as she expected, one of the customers is a cult member who immediately calls his fellow cult members.

Nov 10th 2017 at 9:36:03 AM

^^@TheWanderer: You got your potholes mixed up. Ty Lee is the Perky Female Minion and Mai is the Knife Nut.

Nov 11th 2017 at 5:59:05 AM

Film

  • The World War II Dramatization Midway has American Navy Intelligence deduce that the Japanese are planning on targeting two sites, coded A-F and A-O. The air base on Midway Island is instructed to radio in the clear that its fresh water condenser is broken in the hope that the Japanese intercept it and radio this update to Fleet Command. The Japanese fall for it and the US Navy had the confirmation they needed: A-F is Midway Island.

Nov 11th 2017 at 9:35:34 PM

Anime And Manga

  • Commander Nishizumi of Girls Und Panzer notices a weather balloon with aerial during a tankery match against Saunders, and deduces correctly that Saunders is listening in to their inter-vehicle traffic. She exploits this by pretending to conceal her flag tank in some woods near a crossroads, and radioing the rest of her forces to conduct reconnaissance. Saunders falls for it, and they dispatch an attack force to that site. There, they discover to their chagrin that the crossroads are a kill zone, with Oarai guns raining shells upon them from the high ground.

Nov 11th 2017 at 9:54:01 PM

In Harry Potter and the Cracked Reservoir, Harry, in order to protect Ginny, arranges for a few Death Eater kids to overhear them arguing about a fake prophecy, one claiming harm to Ginny will result in Harry unlocking his full potential.

Nov 12th 2017 at 6:00:36 PM

  • Much Ado About Nothing: This is how Benedick and Beatrice are tricked into falling in love (or admitting that they love each other). First Claudio, Don Pedro, and Leonato stage a conversation about how Beatrice is in love with Benedick while Benedick is eavesdropping, then Hero and her maidservants do the same thing to Beatrice. In each case, the eavesdropper is convinced that if the other is in love with them then they should requite the love.

Nov 26th 2017 at 9:33:11 PM

The Lavender Hill Mob: Holland and Pendlebury publicly discuss that they left the safe open. They wait in the building at night, and when thieves break in, they recruit them into their criminal scheme.

Nov 27th 2017 at 1:33:36 AM

Would this include someone deliberately speaking into a microphone that they know is being used to spy on them?

Nov 27th 2017 at 2:26:59 AM

^ Depends on whether this happens in the middle of a character already talking about something and they change what they say when they realize they're being spied on, or if they already know about being spied on before they even use the microphone, and choose to use that to their advantage. If it's the former, then it's Bluff The Eavesdropper. If it's the latter, then it's this trope.

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