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Richard: No, you know how today we're heading into the land of the Giants to offer them the Jewel of Valencia in exchange for joining our quest to save Princess Isabella?
Galavant: Yes, we discussed it last night in great detail. There's no need for your clunky exposition.
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As you know, we are Describing the trope As You Know Here.

This is a form of exposition where one character explains to another something that they both know, but the audience doesn't or may have forgotten.

"As you know, Alice, my Death Ray depends on codfish balls."

"Damn it, Bob, you know full well that Alice hasn't been the same since that tragic codfish incident."

In discussions of science fiction, this is often "As You Know, Bob" (abbreviated AYKB), or occasionally, "Tell me, Professor [about this marvelous invention we all use every day and have no reason to be talking about except to inform the audience]". Other common variations involve a newspaper reporter sent to cover events, or a conversation between two supporting characters — hence another name, "maid and butler dialogue". Terry Pratchett refers to the fantasy fiction version as the "As you know, your father, the king..." speech.

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This is also a common feature of pilot episodes, where characters' backgrounds and relationships need to be established for the first time. Likewise, when new characters are introduced or the writers believe a reminder is in order, characters will explicitly refer to each other by name during a regular conversation, when this is rarely done in real life: "Say, Alice, how are you enjoying your coffee?" "Why, it's delicious, Bob, thanks for asking. How are you coming along, Charlie?"

This is also quite common on medical drama shows like ER, Scrubs, and Grey's Anatomy, where common medical phenomena and simple procedures must be explained to the laymen in the audience. In most cases, this is achieved by explaining the disease or procedure to an intern or non-professional character.

On some shows, characters will "As You Know" in order to provide information that was already provided in a previous episode (that viewers might have missed) or even earlier in the show (for those who just tuned in), to the great annoyance of dedicated fans. (e.g. Just Tuned In: "Remember, Bob, you only have 20 minutes to defuse the bomb..." or Previous Episode: "Alice is really mad at you for running over her dog last week, isn't she?") Soap operas or adventure-type shows will often circumvent this with a "When we last left our heroes" recap at the beginning of each two-parter.

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This may also happen with solitary characters (in thought rather than in speech), who, apparently, have such bad memory problems that they have to constantly remind themselves what they're doing right now and what happened in the near past.

Not explaining anything sometimes results in the audience being too busy trying to figure out what's going on to enjoy the show, using this trope is not always a bad thing. In serialized works or plays, "as you know" is seen as a convenient workaround to save time or to spare readers returning to the series. For example, it's easier to say "as you know, Dr. Moriarty is the most feared criminal mastermind in the world" than showing to new readers to the Sherlock Holmes series just what kind of criminal the doctor is. Or, it often would be more advantageous to a play's length to say "as you know, the Montagues and Capulets have been feuding for 50 years" than to show a fifty-year-long feud. Notwithstanding, there are less obvious workarounds in use in modern writing.

Writers try to avoid this by using The Watson, and thus the most common alternative is to give the protagonist amnesia so he doesn't know, which isn't really considered a better option. The Idiot Hero and Fish out of Water are also acceptable tropes to employ to make this trope more believable, though shoehorning in such a character may be worse. A third form is to have two characters comparing information to each be sure that the other does in fact know. A fourth is to have the characters have an argument, since arguments are among the few real-life situations in which people remind each other of things they both already know.note  Breaking the Fourth Wall to have the characters know they are informing the audience is Older Than Feudalism in its own right, and is most frequently done in comedies.

It was ridiculously common in post-World War II literature, to the point that readers expected it and could become confused if the writer left it out. This might be the most universal trope found in postwar literature; you find it in works by everyone from George Orwell to Barbara Cartland to Rex Stout. (One wonders which one of the three would be most insulted by that grouping.)

This trope is generally more acceptable if such exposition would realistically happen in-universe, e.g., military briefings or scientific lectures. In these cases, the phrase is less used to explain something and more to bring focus to a particular fact. ("As you know, we lost contact with Delta Squad this morning..." or "As you may know, the proton has a mass of...") In other cases, a character may choose to remind a character of something they already know to make a point, particularly if the first character believes the second has forgotten that bit of information.

Strangely enough, this trope continues to be prevalent in prose and comic books, despite the fact that accessing someone's private thoughts at any given time is part-and-parcel with both mediums. One supposes that writers just consider dialogue a more exciting way to deliver exposition (and/or characterization).

Specific variants:

See also: Mr. Exposition, The Watson, Captain's Log, Expospeak, Captain Obvious, Exact Eavesdropping, Viewers Are Morons. A subtrope of Show, Don't Tell.


As you know, these are Examples:

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    Audio Plays 
  • The Audio Adaptation of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents is, for much of the time, narrated by Maurice himself. Towards the end, it becomes apparent that he's telling the story to Dangerous Beans. Who a) was right there for most of it and b) is mostly dead.
  • This Gun That I Have in My Right Hand is Loaded by Timothy West is a gleeful satire of bad radio drama writing, including its overreliance on delivering exposition by having characters talk about things they clearly already know but the audience does not. For example, in the first scene, protagonist Clive Barrington helpfully tells his wife Laura that he's her husband, and he later tells her that she's 29 years old, has auburn hair, and has been married to him for eight years, as though she both has total amnesia and has never looked in a mirror.

    Comic Strips 
  • Frequently turns up in Doonesbury's earliest days. "Well, here I am..."
  • A regular device in Peanuts, most famously in the form of "Here's the World War I Flying Ace..."
  • Lampshaded in the newspaper comic Sally Forth: the title character asked her daughter what she was doing "for Earth Day next week", and was told that was the most obvious bit of exposition she had pitched since "As you know, Hilary, you are my daughter."

    Films — Animation 
  • In Barbie in a Mermaid Tale 2, a news report recaps the events of the first film.
  • Bolt has a subtle example at the beginning. After the Proscenium Reveal that Bolt is just the star of a TV show, and not a real super-dog, the show's director is seen going through the day's footage when he spots a boom mic in one of the shots. In his subsequent rant to the crew, he reminds them — and therefore informs the audience — that Bolt doesn't know he's in a TV show and thinks everything is for real, and anything that could shatter that illusion — like an errant boom mic — is an unacceptable error.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks:
    • Although there is some debate as to how long exactly the Dazzlings have been banished in the human world, in the prologue Adagio's comment about how it is lacking Equestrian magic and Aria's discussion about their banishment are something they should know already.
    • Likewise, Sunset Shimmer and the Humane Five discussing the events of the first movie is for the audience's benefit; you'd think Sunset especially wouldn't want to dwell so much on it. Pinkie Pie's intervention is then just rubbing it in, but that's in character for Pinkie.
      Sunset Shimmer: A demon. I turned into a raging she-demon.
      Pinkie Pie: And tried to turn everyone here into teenage zombies for your own personal army! [smile]
  • The Rescuers: The viewers learn about the Rescue Aid Society's origin when their current head reminds the other members about it. He even starts with "As you know...".
  • Wreck-It Ralph:
    • King Candy explains the nightly roster race. Lampshaded when he says "We all know this," with an Aside Glance to boot.
    • Averted with the local slang phrase "going Turbo". Most of the arcade characters already know what it means, but it's not explained to the audience until Felix uses it in front of Calhoun, who's only just arrived at the arcade and therefore doesn't know.
  • Justified in Turning Red. In the sequence where Ming explains the origin of Sun Yee's blessing to Mei, she begins with, "As you know, our ancestor Sun Yee had a mystical connection with red pandas." This is information that Mei and the audience are already aware of, and Ming uses it as a jumping off point to tell the rest of the story.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Pili Fantasy: War of Dragons: There is a lot of exposition regarding the many, many motivations and backstories of the various characters. Especially notable is Yeh Hsiao-chai, since his being mute means most characters have to exposit for him.
  • Sesame Street: Each Spaceship Surprise segment begins with the assistant saying "I know I've asked this before, but why are we on this mission?"

    Radio 
  • Dimension X: In the first episode, an adaptation of Graham Doar's "The Outer Limit", before the pilot leaves, Hank Hansen wants to go over procedure one last time, to make sure everything goes right (things are very likely to go wrong, and do!), which gives the audience a chance to know what should be happening and why Steve is going to be Narrating the Obvious.
  • Spoofed in the I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue spin-off The Doings of Hamish and Dougal:
    Dougal: Well, here we are on London's busy Oxford Street.
    Hamish: Why did you say that?
    Dougal: Well, it doesn't do any harm.
  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Spoofed in one sketch, where a man is talking to a room full of people and states that since they all know why they're there and what they're doing, he's not going to explain. Then one woman pipes up that she's just been transferred in and doesn't know what's going on. So he cheerfully says he'll explain everything for her.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Sound frequently plays the trope for laughs. In later series it becomes somewhat of a Running Gag to have one character sum up things that the others already know, and when called out on it claim that "it's realistic" for them to do it.
  • Warhorses of Letters used this extensively and knowingly.
    "You must remember that all horses are arbitrarily given the same birthday, January 4th. Oh wait... you do not have to remember, as you are also a horse."
  • The first episode of Season 10 of Fags, Mags and Bags opens with the main characters discussing everything that's happened to them in the past 18 months, despite the fact the Covid lockdown means they haven't left each others' company for the past 18 months, because they simply don't have anything else to talk about.

    Theatre 
  • Plautus:
    • Spoofed as early as The Braggart Soldier (2nd century BC): Palaestrio insists on explaining the plan to Acroteleutium again; she repeatedly protests that she's not an idiot and not only does she understand the plan, she actually devised much of it.
    • Similarly, the exposition in The Brothers Menaechmus is presented in such a ludicrous manner (essentially, "Tell me, Menaechmus, what have we been doing for the last six years?") that it's obviously a big wink to the audience.
  • The classic instance is in the Play Within a Play in Sheridan's The Critic. Hatton asks Raleigh what the military preparations for the Spanish attack mean, and Raleigh replies in a series of speeches all beginning with the assertion that "You know...", while Hatton agrees that he indeed knows. Finally Mr. Dangle interrupts to ask "as he knows all this, why does Sir Walter go on telling him?" Mr. Puff retorts that "the audience are not supposed to know anything of the matter, are they?..... Here, now you see, Sir Christopher did not in fact ask any one question for his own information."
  • The first act of the musical Spring Awakening ends with the two main characters having sex on stage. In case, during intermission, the audience forgets this, the opening of the second act is them still going at it. (The continuous action is used to inform the audience that no time has passed since Act I, unlike in many if not most plays and musicals, time passes between acts.)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream. When Oberon explains to Puck for the audience's benefit that fairies do not vanish when the sun rises.
  • William Shakespeare:
    • Done to establish location, since the theatres of his time didn't have painted scenery. "So, this is the forest of Arden!" "Yes, now are we in Arden."
    • In Cymbeline, the first act begins with two gentlemen discussing events in the kingdom before stopping to note that this happened twenty years ago and how it is strange that twenty years later, they still haven't solved the mystery, but that's not important because the king is coming.
    • The very first line of As You Like It is this trope.
      "As I remember, Adam..."
    • The Merchant of Venice: "'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio/How much I have disabled mine estate..."
    • The opening lines (not counting the Frame Story) of The Taming of the Shrew have Lucentio telling his servant, Tranio, all about how he was born in Pisa, raised in Florence, and has now arrived in Padua to study the arts. (He even tells Tranio all about what a great, trustworthy servant he is, just so we're aware.) Made even more ludicrous later in the play, when we find out that Tranio has been living with Lucentio's family since he was three years old.
  • Lampooned unmercifully in The Real Inspector Hound by Mrs. Drudge (The Help). Virtually every single line she has is an As You Know. A sample:
    Mrs Drudge: (to Simon Gascoyne) I'm Mrs Drudge. I don't live in, but I pop in on my bicycle when the weather allows to help in the running of charming though somewhat isolated Muldoon Manor. Judging by the time (she glances at the clock) you did well to get here before high water cut us off for all practical purposes from the outside world.
  • Cyrano de Bergerac: In Act V Scene I, for the audience's Sister Claire asks Mother Margarita if Cyrano has been visiting Roxane in the nunnery for the last decade, and Mother Margarita answers that it has been for 14 years.
  • In Return to the Forbidden Planet the second act starts with a news reporter giving a recap of the first act. After the recap the action really starts with a repeat of the last scene from act 1.
  • In one theatrical adaptation of Little Women, every time someone mentions “the twins, Daisy and Demi”, they call them “the twins, Daisy and Demi”. Every. Time. Not once is the remark directed to a character who doesn’t know who the twins, Daisy and Demi, are.
  • Happens a few times in Medea. Mostly for the audience's sake, although at one point Medea and Jason have an argument where they each recount the backstory again from their point of view.
  • In Aristophanes's The Wasps, one guard does this to the annoyance of the other, until the first points out that the audience doesn't know. Arguably an Unbuilt Trope as it was deconstructed, still among the first known examples. On the other hand, given that Aristophanes is the only comic playwright whose work has survived, may indicate it was already an Undead Horse trope.
  • A direct quote from the Laurens Interludenote  in Hamilton: "As you know, John dreamed of emancipating and recruiting 3000 men for the first all-black military regiment." In this particular case, attentive members of the audience do in fact know this already; however, it is not a major plot point, so more casual viewers likely would have forgotten it by that point.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The first case in each game requires the player to get a quick introduction to the gameplay details. This makes perfect sense in the first game because Phoenix Wright has just come out of college, but not so much in the next two games, considering they still star him after a good number of trials. The second game features a bout of amnesia, whereas the third one is actually a flashback to the second case of Mia Fey, Phoenix's mentor, who'd taken some time off due to being traumatized by the outcome of the first (when you actually get to play her first case, though, she doesn't get any As You Know assistance, possibly due to her different co-counsel).
    • The fourth game introduces a new protagonist, Apollo Justice - but you can actually skip the tutorial here, as Apollo has watched Kristoph Gavin cross-examine several witnesses and is fully aware of the process.
    • The Miles Edgeworth spin-off uses his partner, Clueless Detective Gumshoe, to handle this as The Watson. Still, several characters keep reminding Edgeworth how to use logic (a gameplay mechanic exclusive to the spinoff).
    • The fifth game Dual Destinies has this as an option and it's justified. If the player opts to get an introduction on the mechanics of the game, Phoenix (a seasoned lawyer at this point) asks his rookie partner Athena Cykes to explain how the court system works in the game. However, it's done not so much for Phoenix's sake but for Athena's since she just suffered a Heroic BSoD moments before. Phoenix believes that having Athena explain the rules to him will bring her confidence back up.
    • And, again, in Spirit of Justice. This time, however, the justification is that Phoenix has to explain the process of cross-examination to the judge, who hasn't had to preside over a cross-examination for a witness's testimony in over twenty years, and has forgotten the protocol for the process. This happens again in the third case, where Maya asks if Nick should be reminded of how to cross-examine Rayfa's insights for her divination séances, a new gameplay feature that was only shown for the first time two cases ago.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in the first episode of Epithet Erased. Mera is begrudgingly giving a museum tour to Molly's class, and explaining the basis of the show's universe (20% of the population is born with literal Semantic Superpowers) with thinly veiled boredom and annoyance. The kids answer her questions about basic in-universe terminology everybody already knows with equal enthusiasm.
    Mera: Do you know what it's called when someone doesn't have an epithet?
    Students: (mumbling) A mundie.
    Mera: A mundie. That's right, of course you know. You're not six.
  • Parodied in the Homestar Runner cartoon "A Decemberween Pageant". It opens with Homestar talking to Marzipan about how the night of the titular pageant has arrived "After all the weeks and weeks of rehearsing and practicing and memorizing lines," when Marzipan tells him "Homestar, I don't think those are your lines." A Reveal Shot shows Homestar and Marzipan are standing on the stage, and Homestar has been delivering his exposition in the middle of the performance.
  • A variant occurs in The Misadventures of R2 and Miku, where Miku is enough of a ditz that she manages to forget an important part of R2's backstory, forcing him to irritably retell it to her (and thus explain it for the first time for the audience, of course).
  • Red vs. Blue: Parodied somewhat, where the exposition is for another character's benefit rather than the audience. Church, Tucker and Tex are held at gunpoint by Wyoming. Church uses his radio to try and surreptitiously tell Caboose what's going on, but none of the other characters present know he's doing this and can only wonder why he's suddenly become "the narrator". Par for Caboose, he fails at figuring out the massive hints.
    Church: (deadpan) We're at Red Base. Wyoming. You found us and are holding us prisoner. At the Red Base. Wyoming.
    Caboose: Uh, Red Base, no, I'm in the ship.

    Web Original 
  • Spoofed in Shrove Tuesday Observed'snote  "If All Stories Were Written Like Science Fiction Stories".
    "There are more people going to San Francisco today than I would have expected," he remarked.
    "Some of them may in fact be going elsewhere," she answered. "As you know, it's expensive to provide airplane links between all possible locations. We employ a hub system, and people from smaller cities travel first to the hub, and then to their final destination. Fortunately, you found us a flight that takes us straight to San Francisco."
  • How David Weber orders pizza.
  • MLB Trade Rumors has a tendency to repeat things that regular readers are fully aware of like if a player has received a qualifying offer or not.
  • The reviews at OAFE do this regularly, usually using the phrase as a pothole link to a source where the information is more thoroughly explained.
  • Lady Wu (Sr.) gets a truly egregious one in Farce of the Three Kingdoms.
    Lady Wu: You know how your father married both me and my sister, so your stepmother is also your aunt and it’s really awkward?
    Sun Quan: Of course I know, I’ve lived with you guys my entire life.
    Lady Wu: Shhh, son. It’s exposition.
  • In Curse Words, Kayden spends a good amount of time summarising the plot of The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas to Kylie, for the audience's benefit. She continually interrupts him to remind him, with increasing frustration, that she knows the plot of the story, and read it in the same English class that he did.

    Web Videos 

    Real Life 
  • Education:
    • Talking like this can be a hazard of the teaching profession, as relating things to students who don't know things can become such a habit that you slip into "lecture mode", even with colleagues already aware of the facts.
    • This trope can also be justified for students: asking someone to explain something you already know is one way of testing whether they know it. If the student does know, explaining something to someone that already knows it will naturally follow.
    • This is also a rather standard occurrence in places with a 'spiral' school system. That is, every few years every subject comes back with a bit more detail and a bit more backgrounds and a bit different connections. As in: "We did tell you about this a few years ago. This is what we left out." Which will usually result in being told about any given subject multiple times, all but the first of them starting with a short re-introduction to the subject, frequently done in an 'as you know' style. This is generally followed by explaining which parts of what you know were simplifications that were good enough for the previous level but must now be unlearned.
  • There is a word in several European languages which has this purpose: Swedish ju, Danish jo, Polish tak and German ja (not to be confused with cases where ja or tak simply means "yes"). They are used when stating a fact that you assume that other party to already be a familiar with:
    Swedish: Bussen anländer ju klockan nio.
    Polish: Tak, autobus przyjeżdża o dziewiątej.
    German: Der Bus kommt ja um neun Uhr.
    English: The bus does arrive at nine o'clock, as you know.
  • "As you know" is often used in business correspondence to avoid insulting the recipient's intelligence, especially when the writer is not sure whether or not the recipient actually knows the information. It is especially common when at least one of the correspondents is Japanese and can sometimes become an empty formalism.
    • Outside of business correspondence, it can also be used when reiterating a point or reminding someone of something, again for the purpose of avoiding sounding condescending.
    • Conversely, it can be used to convey a subtle hint of annoyance: "As I wrote in my previous email..." (translation: if you had bothered to pay attention earlier I wouldn't have to explain it again, you jerk) or "As you know, [recipient's proposed course of action] is considered bad-faith litigation and may lead to sanctions and an award of attorney's fees" (translation: Did you really think you could get away with that?).
  • Used a great deal in politics to convince the audience that they've always agreed with the candidate "As you all know my opponent hates freedom and only I can save this nation." Crowd: "Oh yeah, we, uh, knew that."
  • Often a pitfall of a real-life Captain Obvious — much to the chagrin of said Captain's friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances.
  • When addressing a class or other group, this can mean "As most of you know, but for the benefit of those who weren't paying attention, ..."
  • Sometimes used in the military to make sure everyone knows the exact same version of the intelligence or orders given.
  • Another use for this approach in real life is to make sure that the listener is thinking about the same things as the speaker. A professional physicist doesn't need to have Newton's laws of motion explained to him, but opening a presentation on ballistics with "As you know, a body in motion remains in motion unless acted on by an external force" is a good way to get your audience thinking about the laws of motion instead of, say, electromagnetism or their smartphones.
  • People with autism often lecture as a form of stress relief. The topic can be anything from something the lecturing person is particularly interested in to something that just happened in front of the lecturer and their audience. Saying "we already know this" isn't very likely to stop the lecture.
  • Academic/technical papers sometimes slip into this, since (a) your audience probably knows, but you can't necessarily rely on it, and (b) it's sometimes really hard to introduce or sum up your research without a dose of near-meaningless boilerplate to get the prose started. From an Intel paper on computational electrical efficiency:
    The performance of electronic computers has shown remarkable and steady growth over the past 60 years, a finding that is not surprising to anyone with even a passing familiarity with computing technology.
  • This Means War! is not diplomatic. As a consequence, Charles Francis Adams, the American ambassador to England during The American Civil War, sent a note to the British government with the sentence: "It would be superfluous of me to point out to your Lordship that this is war."
  • Championships, events like the Olympics, or sports that are not usually on Network TV can do this throughout the broadcast. While rule changes, late injuries, or time (in the non-annual events like The World Cup, Olympics, Ryder Cup, or Commonwealth Games) justifies this to a point, the broadcast has to balancing this from completely dumbing down the product.
    • The worst offenders can be during pre-game shows that can last longer then the event themselves. Those viewers are usually way into the event.
  • A very common thing with police interviews when they are recorded. Often the police will go through with the person of interest what they know and what has already happened several times so that there is a record of the police stating these have happened with the person of interest agreeing that they have.
  • A common "rule" for trial lawyers is to "never ask a question you do not know the answer to". Given that Exact Words make it advisable to rephrase the same question several times, this can lead to being given basically the same answer to the same question in different wordings numerous times before one gets anywhere (if one does at all).

 
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Galactic Council scene (1/2)

In the third episode "Gotcha!", Dr. Jumba Jookiba and Agent Wendy Pleakley are summoned by the United Galactic Federation's Grand Council regarding the Jaboodies (a faction of reptilian aliens) and the Woolagongs (a faction of platypus-like aliens), who are locked in a space war and going after Experiment 626, Stitch, to use him to win their war. During the council meeting, the Grand Councilwoman goes over Dr. Jumba and Stitch's past history, shown to the viewer with flashbacks of scenes from the first two (chronological) films in the Lilo & Stitch franchise recreated in this show. She also reveals that, apparently, Stitch was actually deemed by the UGF's analysts to be "too small" to destroy a city, hence why they decided to let Stitch live on Earth. But they later found out Jumba has been hiding a dark secret from the UGF all this time about something else he programmed in Stitch called "the Metamorphosis Program". Worse is that the Jaboodies had hacked into the UGF's data system, finding and decrypting the files relating to the program.

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