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The William Tellegram, the first stepping stone of telecommunications.

"Message for you, sir!"

You're on one side of a medieval or fantasy battle or castle siege, and you want to deliver a message to someone on the opposing side. How to do it? Write your note on a scrap of paper, tie it to an arrow shaft, and have a friendly archer send it on its way. Bonus points if you hit an enemy mook on the receiving end or it's caught barehanded by the recipient.

If the note is wrapped around a brick or rock instead, and then tossed through a convenient window, it's Broken-Window Warning.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Persia and Inuzuka often use arrows to send messages to each other in Boarding School Juliet.
  • The main method of communicating with Mashiro and Hakuya while they're living with Kobeni and Benio in Engaged to the Unidentified.
  • This is how Tsukikage, The Mole, sends a message to the Ogame School in Gamaran while they're sneaking inside the city of Unabara, looking for a way to enter the inner city.
  • Episode 14 of the Little Lulu anime, but with a toy arrow.
  • Nagasarete Airantou: Occasionally done by Machi or the ninjas. Also Michiru has the ability to control her arrows flight. So Obaba uses her to send messages to the entire village multiple arrows at a time.
  • In New Game! Tsubame "Naru" Narumi's father communicates with other cast members by firing arrows from off-panel. When Naru has an argument with her mother about pursuing a career in the gaming industry rather than inheriting the inn, her father tries to speak up by shooting an arrow, but Naru's mother breaks the arrow. Naru ultimately resolves the issue by sending a short but heartfelt message to her mother via an arrow through the latter's window, and actually manages to get through to her mother(who assumes it's from her husband until she accidentally rads it).
  • Ranma ½:
    • One episode has Ranma deliver a note to Tsubasa in this manner to ask him on a date, unaware that Tsubasa is a boy!
    • And, in the Waterproof Soap episode, Shampoo also sends a forged letter from "Akane" to Ryōga in the same fashion.
    • Arrowgrams are in fact rather frequent to send a challenge to a rival. And it should be noted that, since all martial artists have a Danger Sense and good reflexes, those arrows are generally aimed at their heads, fully expecting an Arrow Catch every time (though in one case, Akane is targeted with one that has a suction-cup for a head).
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, the Hiruma Brothers are tasked with sending such a message to Higashidani (Sanosuke's true father). The old man casually grabs it before it can even hit him, read the message and casually throws it away, hitting the older brother squarely in the ass.
  • In an early chapter of School Rumble, Tenma tries to deliver a love letter to her would-be boyfriend, Karasuma, this way. (They are living in modern-day Tokyo.) She keeps peppering him with arrows while he dodges without even noticing, and he never even spots the letters.
  • Shirayuki gets a message via arrow in Snow White with the Red Hair, warning her to turn back. She is undeterred.
  • In Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, Gentleman Thief Stone River shoots an arrow with a note into Milky Holmeses room. But since the titular heroines are about as dumb as a bag of rocks, they don't even notice it. When they eventually see the fourth of fifth arrow, the proceed to read the vertically written note horizontally and have no idea what it's supposed to be. So Stone River shoots yet another arrow with a small tape player attached to it, reading the message out loud.
  • In Yaiba, the Spiderman tries to send Kojiro's challenge to Yaiba with arrows. However, Yaiba thinks they're part of the training he's doing so he ignores them or deflects them.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who: In Son of the Dragon, the Doctor sends a warning to Vlad by tying a piece of parchment to an arrow and firing it through the window of the tower room at Castle Dracula. His shot is so accurate that the arrow snuffs the candle flame he was aiming at.

    Comic Books 
  • When Deadpool set up a mercenary company and named it "Heroes for Hire", Hawkeye shot him with an arrowgram that proved to be a summons informing him that he was being sued by Luke Cage.
  • Used in Lucky Luke stories featuring Indians; one time the sheriff finds out when he takes the arrow in the rear.
  • In Master of Kung Fu, Shang-Chi gets one of these wrapped around a thrown dagger's hilt. It deliberately misses, but is immediately followed by a murder attempt. Once the assassins are defeated — and have killed themselves via Cyanide Pill — Shang-Chi reads the note. His father wishes him a happy birthday.
  • In Robyn Hood, Robyn uses this to send a note to a young girl she has taken an interest in, telling her to meet her at the library.
  • In The Big Fat Kill from Sin City, Miho delivers a note to Manute and his crew this way: firing the arrow through Stuka's chest.
  • The Grey Smurfs sent arrowgrams to the Smurfs prior to attacking them, hoping that they would surrender, in The Smurfs comic book story "The Smurf Threat".

    Fan Works 
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: The Wolf uses his best archer Akkarulf (Theon Greyjoy) to send messages on arrows.
    • At the Chaos Dwarf fortress of Dronangkul, he proposes a trade: dragonglass weapons, Nehekharan undead to test them on, and Dark Elf slaves for a daemonsmith capable of making Jaime's golden hand move again.
    • During the siege of Harrenhal, he sends a request for negotiations to the Westerosi camp outside (and a reminder that he can reach them anytime he wants).
  • The Vow: After Lady Lianne is imprisoned in the Tower of the Sacred Flame, she receives an arrow shot by her spy network into her room during nighttime, and with it a message informing that Lang is safely nearing the Valley of Peace with her plea for help and that an undercover will arrive to assist her.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Futurama movie Bender's Game Part IV (or S 05 E 08), a chain of Centaurs deliver a message by arrows, although instead of tying a paper to the arrow, they aim for a prepared target with the correct message. They have targets for flood, fire, economic downturn, celebrity breakup and war.
  • Kung Fu Panda 3: An arrowgram from the Eastern province reporting that another Kung Fu Master has gone missing flies towards the Jade Palace only to be snatched in mid-air by Monkey. We then see Master Shifu surrounded by similar arrowgrams from all over China.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in the second Asterix movie, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra, to get a message to the architect on a construction site.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: Discussed; after their escape from the guards, Holga suggests shooting an arrow with a message into Kira's room to explain that Forge had been lying to her about her dad. Edgin shoots down the suggestion, though, not wanting to risk wounding Kira with an arrow.
  • Justice League: Following Steppenwolf's rampage on Themyscira and him getting away with the Mother Box that the Amazons were guarding, Queen Hippolyta shoots an arrow on fire (with no message attached to it) for Diana/Wonder Woman to find and it lands in a Greek temple. Diana instantly knows what it means — that a new invasion by the New Gods is coming. She sees the arrow on fire in the temple from a TV news broadcast in the theatrical cut, and she goes on to said temple's crypt in the Zack Snyder version to find out what the message means (the arrow allows her to open the crypt's secret stone door).
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Concorde receives a note for Lancelot by getting an arrow to the chest. Concorde doesn't appear very upset about the whole thing, but Lancelot, being the Large Ham that he is, starts giving Concorde a farewell speech — and Concorde reveals that he's Not Quite Dead and quickly recovers.
  • In Rogues of Sherwood Forest, Robin's sends Marianne a message telling her to pretend to obey the king's will but insist on being married to Flanders at St. Dunstan's Abbey by tying it to an arrow and firing it through the window of her bedchamber and into her door.
  • This happens twice with a flaming arrow in the Sentai parody Rolling Bomber Special.
  • Sin City: Pulling directly from the comic, Miho delivers Dwight's note to Manute.
  • In Small Soldiers, the Commando Elite send Alan and the Gorgonites an arrow with a video tape of Christy telling Alan to surrender the Gorgonites or else the Commando Elite will kill her.
  • Terry and the Pirates: In the first episode, Pat leans down and thus is narrowly missed by an arrow which thuds into a tree. Attached to the arrow is the message "Warning, go back on first steamer or you'll be killed."

  • Discworld: In Making Money, Moist von Lipwig learns that, as a condition of the late Topsy Lavish's will, Topsy has left him her dog Mr. Fusspot, who is now technically the chairman of the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork. He also finds that a contract will be put on his head if anything happens to Mr. Fusspot. He then gets a "warning shot" when he's nearly hit by a black arrow with impeccable italic enameling in white down the side: The Guild of Assassins. Where style counts.
  • Doc Savage: In the opening chapters of Land of Long Juju, a threat is tied to the shaft of a spear and hurled into Renny's tent.
  • Fengshen Yanyi: when the heroes are finally besieging Zhaoge, Jiang Ziya, unwilling to harm citizens with a violent siege or use of taoist magic, simply writes down hundreds of messages inviting the population to surrender peacefully to Xiqi and has them shot behind enemy walls with arrows. Tired of the abuses of the wicked King Zhou, the citizens and soldiers of the capital are more than happy to rebel and open the gates.
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth has two sets of characters living in treehouses for a brief period of time, unable to go to the ground or hear each other over the din of the zombies. The only means of communication is by arrow and letter (and given one of the communicating character's poor aim, this isn't so easy).
  • In Ivanhoe, Robin Hood's merry men use a relay of bowmen to transfer messages.
  • At the beginning of the Lord Darcy novel A Study in Sorcery by Michael Kurland, a company of English soldiers are escorting a group of Native Americans through the lands of another tribe with whom they have a bad history. The chief of the local tribe sends a message arrow into the tent of the head soldier, warning him that they plan to attack and giving him a chance to withdraw his men. (History being somewhat different in this series, the message is written in formal English on mass-produced notepaper with a printed letterhead.)
  • The Modesty Blaise novel I, Lucifer has a variation where instead of an arrow, Willie Garvin wraps a message around one of his throwing knives to get it to an ally in a guarded compound.
  • Redwall: Occurs in The Bellmaker in order to get a message to some of the heroes when they're trapped inside a castle. In a slightly more realistic spin on the trope, it takes the archer three tries to hit the right window, and the heroes prop a table up in front of it to avoid anyone getting hit by the arrow.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: As Cao Cao besieged a flooded Xiapi, he had a number of messages shot over the wall, promising a reward for the capture of Lu Bu, though Lu Bu's officers were already disillusioned with him by then and were in collusion with Cao Cao to take the city.
  • Split Heirs: Artemisia sends all her messages to Prince Mimulus, her brother (aka the Black Weasel) on foot. His responses always come in this fashion, shot into the palace via arrow.
  • In Troy Rising at one point negotiations are conducted by sending disarmed missiles through the Portal Network. It's noted that the humans (at least) are using obsolete missiles for this purpose to avoid the aliens being able to figure out the exact performance capabilities of their newer missiles.
  • In Ranger's Apprentice book 6 - The Siege of Macindaw, Will shoots an arrow with a message to a locked tower, where his friend Alyss is imprisoned to tell her about the plan of escape.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A 1950s episode of The Adventures of Robin Hood in which Robin (Richard Greene) sends a message via a flaming arrow. When someone asks, in lieu of the audience, if the message won't get burned up too, he replies that it'll slide to the back of the shaft in flight.
  • Arrow had some variations on the trope.
    • In "Betrayal", Oliver Queen fires one of his electronic bugging arrows into the house of an organized crime boss, but he finds it and, after kidnapping Laurel Lance, leaves the arrow stuck in the wall of her apartment with a recorded message for the Arrow.
    • In "Draw Back Your Bow", an obsessed fan of the Arrow is going around shooting heart-shaped arrows into criminals. While examining one of the arrowheads, Oliver finds a message for him inside.
  • The Avengers: One of the ways John Steed delivers his "Mrs. Peel, we're needed!" message to Emma Peel at the start of every episode in the show's colored seasons.
  • Fort Boyard: Rouge announces the start of her challenges in the Cage by shooting a flaming arrow into the door of the next would-be contest, with a defiant message wrapped around it.
  • In the "iMeet Fred" episode of iCarly, the archery club informs Freddy that his is out of the club this way.
  • Kung Fu: "Besieged Part Two: Cannon at the Gate." The Mole communicates with the besiegers via flaming arrow - the flame is so they can see where the arrow is headed and go pick it up after it lands.
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: In the sketch "Stephen Colbert Is 'Darrylgorn' in the Next Installment of the 'Lord of the Rings' Saga", the hero receives an arrowgram in the Shire.
    Darrylgorn: Oh, a text for me! ... Oh, no biggie. Just a message from my best Gandalf asking me to save Middle-earth... again.
  • Three Kingdoms: As in the novel, Cao Cao had archers shoot messages over the wall of Xiapi promising a reward for the capture of Lu Bu. In the show, this indirectly results in his men rebelling as a result of the punishment he administered, hearing them read the notes and suspecting they would betray him.
  • In the Wayne and Shuster parody of Kung Fu, a throwing knife with a note attached buries itself in the wall next to the railroad president's head.
  • The Count does this in Young Dracula, tying a note proclaiming a blood feud to a flaming arrow and shooting it at the Branaghs. However, the burn damage the note sustains causes half the message to be unreadable and Graham Branagh thinks it's a note asking him to examine Dracula's drains.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Sidereals in Exalted have a charm that lets them explicitly shoot messages (among other things).

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • In the Homestar Runner animation "A Folky Tale", Saddy Dumpington gets a message via arrow from the townsfolk, who have been laughing uncontrollably ever since he left and need him to come back and make them sad again.


    Web Videos 
  • Shadiversity experimented with the practicality of attaching messages to arrows. In one of his videos he tried different ways of attaching pieces of paper to an arrow, tested its range and how secure the attachment is.

    Western Animation 
  • Beetlejuice receives one of these from the Sheriff of RottingHam in "Robbin Juice of Sherweird Forest" after the Sheriff kidnaps Lydia.
  • Danger Mouse and Penfold receive a message tied to an arrow which is impaled in a tree — with Penfold's cap attached to it — in "Once Upon a Timeslip".
  • Played for two consecutive gags in the Futurama movie "Bender's Game", where as the siege against Wipe Castle begins, an onlooking centaur fires an arrow to an outpost on a distant hill, where an offscreen messenger fires another arrow to another hill, and repeating for a few turns, even as one of them gets audibly hit and makes an "agh!" sound. Eventually, an arrow reaches the main destination at the home of the centaurs, where they have prepared an arrangement of targets marked with emergency notices: "Flood", "Fire", "Economic Downturn", "Celebrity Breakup" (and that one has much more arrow marks than the rest), and the final one the arrow hits: "War".
  • An episode of George of the Jungle sees George receive an arrow with a note, saying (after a list of demands) "...this is your last warning." George says he never even got a first warning. George receives a second arrow: "Correction: this is your first warning."
  • Parodied in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Made-for-TV Movie "Wrath of the Spider Queen". The titular villain has invaded the Endsville school with the sole purpose to steal Grim's position as the Grim Reaper. She has her Dark Elf vassals send "messages from the Spider Queen" through this trope. First with an arrow pierces his forehead, revealing herself as Velma Green, which doesn't ring any bells. An ax then lands at the back of his skull with another note tied to it: "From junior high school, stupid." Grim still dismisses the connection until a lance pierces him from behind, this time with a familiar school photo of Velma tied to it.
  • House of Mouse: In "Thanks to Minnie", a Gossip Evolution montage features Robin Hood sending a message with his bow and arrow.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • The Daffy Duck short "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" has this as part of the swashbuckler film Daffy pitches to J.L Warner.
    • In "Homeless Hare", Bugs Bunny drops a brick with a telegram tied to it on the face of the burly construction worker.
      Message: Okay, Hercules, you asked for it. —Bugs Bunny
    • The title card for "Robin Hood Daffy" shows an arrowgram being shot into a bullseye. After a couple of seconds, the view pulls back and the audience can see Daffy had fired it from about six-inches away.
  • Numb Chucks: In "Kung Fear", the Chucks want to contact the lint monster. Not having its phone number, they decide the best way to do so is to shower the town with Arrows on Fire with notes tied to them.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Leonardo gets an invitation from Oroku Saki this way.
    Leonardo: It's not your regular mail, I guess Mikey would call it "Air Mail".
  • In the Tex Avery MGM cartoon "Who Killed Who?", the victim of a potential murder receives a note attached to a dagger that reads "You will die at 11:00!"
    Victim: Heavens! I can't die at eleven!
    [a second dagger with another note is thrown in; it reads "Okay... make it 11:30"]

    Real Life 
  • Using rockets or missiles to deliver mail has been done by various nations throughout history, often as experiments or gimmicks. The US Postal Service once famously used a Regulus cruise missile to deliver 3,000 pieces of mail, consisting entirely of commemorative postal covers addressed to the President, the Postmaster General, and numerous other public officials and VIP's to celebrate the event. The Post Office established a post office on a Navy submarine, which postmarked the letters before loading them into the missile, which was launched at a nearby naval station, where the mail was sorted and forwarded to the postal service for delivery by the typical methods. During World War II, on the Eastern Front, when radio communication wasn't available or forbidden because of stealth, the Red Army employed dud Katyusha missiles to deliver mail.
  • During World War II, Allied soldiers would sometimes write rude messages to the Nazis on bombs that would then be dropped on Germany. They didn't really expect anyone to be alive to read them, and the bomb blowing up would have destroyed the writing anyway. This has been repeated by various militaries in other wars, including accepting donation for writing messages.