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Be thankful he didn't go full flashback on you. Never go full flashback.

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.

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 which 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.

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.

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 people new to the Sherlock Holmes franchise 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. Compare Naïve Newcomer, in which an in-the-know character may explain facts/events to the naive newcomer, and thus also to the audience.

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 
  • 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.
  • Coco: At the time Abuelita Elena is explaining Miguel the traditions of Día de Muertos, it's clear that he already knows all this, and all this information is directed to the audience who isn't acquainted with Día de Muertos (especially those audiences who aren't Mexicans).
  • Frozen II has several scenes where the characters recap the events of the first film; most notably when Anna assures Elsa she will go with her on her journey after literally retelling most of her actions in the previous film in one breath; and when Olaf ultimately stops the plot to do his own reenactment of the first film to explain it to the people the group meets in the forest.
  • The Lion King (2019): Early on, Scar sarcastically apologizes for missing Simba’s presentation as he meant no disrespect to Sarabi — since, As Mufasa Knows, he has tremendous respect for her. This sets up a subplot later in the film where it’s revealed Scar has long lusted after Sarabi and begins demanding she become his queen after Mufasa’s death.
  • 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]
  • Ratatouille: Skinner lets his lawyer read the entire stipulation regarding the restaurant in Gusteau's will before snapping "I know what the will stipulates!"
  • 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...".
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie: Lampshaded. Robotnik starts his exposition by stating that, "as you both well know", the story takes place in is divided between an outer layer of Floating Continents and a gloom-shrouded surface. This is useful info for the audience, who needs to be introduced to the setting, but rather less so for the characters, who know all this perfectly well. At the Land of the Sky part, an annoyed Sonic interrupts with "Tell us something we DON'T know!", and Robotnik snarls "Shut up! Heed me!"
  • Turning Red: Justified. 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.
  • 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.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • It occurs when God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son: "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest..." According to commentaries, the extensive exposition was given either a) to soften the blow of the request to sacrifice him, or b) to increase Abraham's reward, as he was rewarded for every word of the request.
    • Also "for Rachel thy younger daughter." This last one has become an idiom in spoken Hebrew.
    • Also Deuteronomy 11:30:
      As you know, these mountains are across the Jordan, westward, toward the setting sun, near the great trees of Moreh, in the territory of the Canaanites living in the Arabah in the vicinity of Gilgal.

    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?"

  • 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The Shattered Sphere sourcebook contains many excerpts from Lyran propaganda. The editor of the In-Universe document makes many notations correcting the historical events covered. Thing is, they are addressed towards Victor Steiner-Davion, usually regarding events that Victor himself was involved in.

  • 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 
  • The Debbie and Carrie Show often did this, but in such a way that it usually seemed like natural conversation between characters, including newer ones that were not around when earlier events being described happened.
  • 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.
  • Flipnote Warrior: Mome wasn't paying attention when Ugo explained why she's a Flipnote Warrior, so in the present he has to explain it again.
  • 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.
  • Terrible Writing Advice calls this technique "As you know, Bob" in "Exposition".

    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 

    Western Animation 
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: Normally done using the "military briefing" variant (e.g. in the episode "Grey Hairs and Growing Pains" a particular group of Joes are chosen for a mission and are briefed), but in "Arise Serpentor Arise Part 1" the "reveal information by way of an argument" method is used when Beachhead is complaining about discipline becoming lax and begins talking about what he'd do were he in command, only for Flint to cut him off by reminding him of the actual chain of command: General Hawk, then Duke, then Flint, and finally Beachhead. As this is the first episode of the second season (as well as General Hawk's first appearance), this helps clarify the Joe chain of command compared to the first season.

Alternative Title(s): As You Know Bob


Perry the Platypus

Perry is a secret agent assigned to foil Doofenshmirtz's plans. He is also a platypus.

How well does it match the trope?

4.21 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / CivilizedAnimal

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