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Conveniently Interrupted Document

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A Secret Diary with pages ripped out. Damn you, creators!

"Why did it go on for this long, and this far?" said [CIA Director Porter Goss] in a press conference called shortly after the report's release. "I'm as frustrated as anyone. You can't read a single thing that's been highlighted. Had I been there to advise [former CIA director] Allen Dulles, I would have suggested the traditional yellow coloróor pink."

Scrapbook Stories, Epistolary Novels and other works of the kind which make heavy use of Fictional Documents will almost inevitably run into the problem of how to avoid the document giving away plot twists prematurely or referring to a particular character by name. Supposing the novel in question is a Cosmic Horror Story and the document refers to Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, or Brown Notes which supposedly cause the reader to Go Mad from the Revelation. Obviously, few writers are skilled enough to actually compose such a Brown Note, so including the Brown Note in the text of the Fictional Document itself is out of the question. But the writer still needs to use the document to get vital plot information across. So how does the writer get out of this quandary? Simple! Have the pivotal parts obscured.

Convenient ways to avoid a document giving away too much information are:

  • The spoiling part of the document has been blacked out with a felt-tip pen or the document is missing pages.
  • A sentence is left unfinished because its author got Killed Mid-Sentence.
  • The writing has been damaged by water or fire, or has faded by old age.
  • The character reading the document gets interrupted, thus preventing them (and the reader) from discovering important information.

Commonly found (of course) in works which make use of Fictional Documents. Can be justified via the Literary Agent Hypothesis. Sister Trope to His Name Is.... Plot-Based Voice Cancellation achieves the same effect, but with sound, while Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation does it with photographs. Censor Box is probably the closest equivalent in visual media. Compare to That Was the Last Entry and Apocalyptic Log. Subtrope of Impeded Communication.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Played for laughs like everything else in Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. After detonating his shoe locker due to signs of tampering, Sousuke recovers and reconstructs the burned shreds of a love letter. From the few bits of surviving text, he completely misinterprets it as a death threat.
  • Very early in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Detonation, Yuri gives the heroes a page of the Tome of the Night Sky that has a recording of her backstory on it, but Iris burns the page before she can hand it over. Even with Levi managing to recover most of the data, it still results in a major jump from Iris and Yuri being friends to Yuri having supposedly murdered everyone on the Planet Restoration Committee.
  • Played for dark humor in Neon Genesis Evangelion, with the note from Gendo. It probably started out as a long, somewhat flowery letter (or maybe just a printout of Shinji's pilot candidate profile) but by the time it reached Shinji's hands, 95% of it had been blacked out by NERV Security, leaving only "COME—GENDO" remaining.
  • One Piece: Kozuki Oden kept a logbook of his adult life up until shortly before his death, including his experience aboard Gol D. Roger's ship on the fateful voyage to Laugh Tale. Exactly what they discovered there is kept a mystery when Oden's son reads the journal decades later, because the page with the most important information was torn out.
  • Spy X Family: Twilight's WISE profile is blacked out in nearly every area aside from the subject titles and trivial information.
  • In When Marnie Was There, Marnie's diary has the pages about her silo adventure ripped out so that it wouldn't tell Anna (and the audience) what's gonna happen next. Sayaka finds the missing pages afterwards.

    Comic Strips 
  • In the August 2, 2001 Garfield comic, Garfield tears the last page out of the mystery book Jon is reading.

    Fan Works 
  • The Alarmaverse: From Twilight Sparkle and the Strange Case of Old Res: A page is missing from the middle of Resonius' journal, just at the point where explains everything. Amusingly, Twilight's the one who misplaced that page. She finds it at the very end.
  • In SV Wishes Shen Yuan decided to take a nap before finishing the last chapters of the novel he was reading. As he died and ended up transmigrating into the novelís villain, heís very aware that his limited knowledge of the plot grows increasingly useless over time.
  • Triptych Continuum: In Triptych, Chapter 47, the convenient interruption of a "book of what could, in some ways, be termed as 'unicorn history'", which hints at a big revelation:
    that mindless ramble about how unicorns had to beware of those with no true power at all...
    (There hadn't been any real details in that tract, and Quiet had generally assumed the sudden ending had been produced by the final tail-clamped drag to the asylum.)

    Film — Animation 
  • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the Shepherd's Journal has a missing page, which means that nobody knows exactly what the Atlanteans' power-source is. Rourke had the missing page in his boot the whole time.
  • In Disney Fairies movie Secret of the Wings, Tinker Bell tries to read through the books in the library for why her wings sparkled in the Winter Woods. She finds a book that has may have the answer... but those pages specifically were eaten by a bookworm. However, she at least now knows who may have the answer, and that would logically be the author.
  • In the movie Epic (2013), the bottom of the scroll about the pod has been pretty much shredded. Mandrake took it because he didn't want anyone to know what happens when the pod blooms in darkness.
    Nim: I'll be honest, termites have been a problem.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Miss Price sees Mr. Brown about a spell book. She gets it and reads about the Substitutiary Locomotion spell, but the part where it talks about the incantation used to activate the spell is on a page that got torn out of the book. The group had to go to Portobello Road to look for it. There they find another group with the other part of the book looking for theirs. It turns out neither half has it and they never did, with the wording which implied it did a complete accident. The assembled sentence says "...these words are [next page] written on the star pendant he wore...
  • Doctor Strange (2016) begins with Kaecilius and his disciples tearing out pages of the Book of Cagliostro for an unknown spell for an equally unknown purpose. Halfway through the movie, Stephen Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto to restore the book to its past self, restoring the pages and revealing that they were finding a means to summon Dormammu.
  • In Event Horizon, the ship receives part of a signal from the titular vessel containing a message in Latin. As the signal is partly corrupted, they initially take the message to be "Liberate me" - "save me". Upon acquiring the full signal and inspecting it closer, they find that the message is actually "Libera te tutemet ex inferis" - "Save yourself from Hell.''
  • Frankenstein The True Story: Just before Clerval and Frankenstein are prepared to animate their creation, Clerval discovers that an arm they had reanimated earlier is becoming horribly deformed. He has a heart attack and leaves a partially-completed note: "The process is re—". He intended to write "reversing", Frankenstein interpreted the note to mean "ready."
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Invoked by Indy who ripped out the map from his father's diary, rendering it useless to the Nazis.
  • In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the mystic runes carved in a cave wall say "He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail in the castle aaaaaaargh". The characters debate whether the writer died while carving itnote , or whether "Aaaargh" really is the name of the castle.
  • Red (2010): When Cooper finally gets access to Frank Moses's file, he finds pages and pages of it blacked out, with only comments like '[FRANK MOSES] WAS NEVER THERE.' He was told Moses was a retired CIA analyst, so it's kind of a nasty surprise.
  • Secret Window: Writer Mort, in order to defend himself against claims from Mr. Shooter that Mort plagiarized a story from him, has to get hold of a magazine from 1993 - the only source his story was published in. Once he gets the magazine, the pages containing his story are torn out. From then on, Mr. Shooter, who was creepy to begin with, start full-out threatening and stalking Mort. At The Reveal at the end of the movie, Mr. Shooter turns out to be not an existing person but a suppressed aspect of Mort himself (as in a dissociative / "multiple personality" disorder or schizophrenic kind of condition), so Mort himself had torn the pages out without remembering. The missing pages seem to be the point that Mr. Shooter begins to take over Mort, and at the end of the movie, Mort('s personality) has gone and now is Mr. Shooter.
  • In Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku removed the Kamino system from the star charts in the Jedi Archives. Fortunately for Obi-Wan, the Count forgot to adjust the rest of the map to compensate for gravity's pull. Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi reveals how Dooku did so: he used Sifo-Dyas's access codes during the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

  • Adrian Mole sends his poem to the BBC about a leaking tap, of which the last line is "Dad, fit a washer and don't be a berk!". When Mr Tydeman of the BBC replies, he says that he had difficulty making out the last word, because something had caused the ink to run; a teastain, a tearstain, or a case of "your tap runneth over"?
  • The entire main plot of The City of Ember deals with Lina and Doon trying to figure out the instructions for egress from the city after Lina's baby sister Poppy chewed up some of the paper the instructions were printed on.
  • The Belgariad: The evil god Torak dictated the Ashabine Oracles in a prophetic trance, then came to his senses and excised the parts that appeared to foretell his defeat. After his death, the heroes have a lengthy quest to hunt down an intact copy that holds vital information about the current Divine Conflict; it also contains a note to The Chosen One by Torak in a rare Moment of Lucidity, begging him to prevent the Dark Prophecy's victory.
  • God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, by Kurt Vonnegut, has a distant cousin of Mr. Rosewater reading his family history only to discover that the last pages were eaten by maggots.
  • Near the beginning of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry finds a letter from one of his parents which mentions Dumbledore, and hints at a surprising revelation about his past. However, the second page of the letter cannot be found by Harry. He finds out much later that the revelation would have been of some use to him at the time, and that it was removed for reasons completely unrelated to any desire to keep it from him.
  • Happens throughout House of Leaves, such as by one of the characters spilling ink on a document or something like that. Possibly in an effort to justify the use of this trope, parts of the fictional documents which aren't vital to the plot also get damaged, re[]lting in te[]t that lo[]s like thi[]. Additionally, sometimes the characters do this on purpose precisely because they fear the reader being driven mad by what they might read.
  • In In Search of the Castaways a Message in a Bottle is discovered telling the tale of some castaways, but it is so degraded that only the latitude of the castaways position is legible.
  • The Janson Directive, a Robert Ludlum novel, makes use of this to avoid giving away the name of the villain in official letters concerning him.
  • In The Last Continent, the Librarian has caught a magical disease, and in order to cure him, the other wizards need to know his true name. Thing is, no one in Unseen University remembers what the Librarian was like before becoming an orangutan, and the Librarian himself isn't telling, as he's afraid someone will turn him back. Ridcully suggests looking the name up in the yearbook for the year the Librarian graduated, but according to the Dean, all copies suffered the same mishap. That mishap, as the Archchancellor guesses, is that a certain page being torn out, leaving only a bananary aroma in its wake.
  • Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, one of the side stories to A Series of Unfortunate Events, makes heavy use of this. Throughout the series, the notes at the end of each book giving hints about the next book are in increasingly worse condition, until the last two don't reveal anything useful at all.
  • In The Licanius Trilogy, Wirr finds a secret journal containing all of the Visions of the future from the prewar Augurs. It conveniently stops before his time period because the Tol Shen leadership stole the rest of it and has been using the knowledge for political gain.
  • One of the most famous examples occurs in Nineteen Eighty-Four, when Winston is reading a book which explains the entire political philosophy of Ingsoc and is just about to learn the motivations behind the Party's barbaric totalitarian system - upon which he falls fast asleep, much to the reader's frustration.
  • Sets off the plot in Pick Your Victim: a newspaper article identifies a murderer, but the parts naming the victim are left out.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe book The Jedi Path, the entire prophecy of The Chosen One is redacted (or torn out, depending on the version). Luke Skywalker, the current keeper of the book, suspects that Palpatine is responsible.
  • In the gamebook Suspects, in which you are a detective on a train, you receive a Mysterious Note, written in ink, in which a vital word is smudged: "I think I know who the murderer is. Please meet me in the ........... car."
  • There's a Peter Straub thriller called The Throat where the protagonist, who is looking for a murderer, finds a scrap of paper with a name and a town written on it, only the town name is slightly damaged and looks like "Alle_town". The protagonist misreads it as Allentown, which leads him to entirely the wrong man; the real murderer was in Allertown.
  • The time travelers in To Say Nothing of the Dog have to ensure Victorian young lady Tossie marries the right man, to prevent history from being changed. Tossie's diary survived to their time, but unfortunately she only wrote her husband's name once in all their years of marriage (the rest of the time she used endearments), and that was mostly obscured by an ink blot.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 12 Monkeys, when Xeroxing the Word of the Witness to bring to the future for study, Jennifer uses her hand to block a section that reveals the Witness to be Cole and Cassie's son to keep Jones from finding out.
  • In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Skye's search for her birth parents turned up a heavily redacted document that indicates that the person who turned her over to the child welfare system when she was an infant was an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Skye joins S.H.I.E.L.D. in an effort to get access to the unredacted document.
  • Behind Her Eyes: Rob's diary, which Adele gives to Louise, has multiple pages torn out at the end.
  • The government documents that Michael does manage to get his hands on are these. It fuels the Myth Arc to get rid of the Burn Notice. The trope is also treated differently due to redacted documents being the expected norm for all perusers; the missing parts are considered either irrelevant or obtainable by cross-checking a sufficient quantity of documents. The redactions are only meant to protect sources of intelligence (or faked intelligence) from briefees who don't have the motivation or time to do so.
  • Chased by Dinosaurs did this with an egg of all things. Nigel comes across a long-abandoned dinosaur nest with some broken, unhatched eggs. He identifies the nest as that of the animal he's looking for, Therizinosaurus, by the large claws possessed by a partial fetal skeleton he finds in one of the eggs. However, the skeleton is missing a vital feature, its skull, as it would've immediately made it obvious the animal Nigel assumes is a fearsome super-predator is actually an herbivore.
  • On Doctor Who, the Twelfth Doctor gives an young Viking girl, Ashildr, an alien medical device that constantly heals any injury, effectively giving her an immortal life. Over 800 years later, he catches up to her, now going by the name "Me." Since Me has an immortal life, but a normal human memory, she long-ago started journaling her adventures before she forgot them. While looking through her journals, the Doctor finds a run of missing pages, with what appears to be tear-stains on the remaining pages. Me explains that she can't remember what was on the pages, but that they caused her untold grief due to her immortality and her loved ones dying of normal aging.
  • In The Incredible Hulk (1977), the episode "The First", David finds a multi-volume diary detailing the process by which a scientist actually turned someone else into a Hulk-like creature, and cured it... but the volume with the actual process is missing. The scientist's groundskeeper — who was the person who had been turned into the Creature — had hidden it.
  • In Lost, the Swan Orientation film noticeably had a snippet removed the first time Desmond and Locke watched it. The missing snippet — which clarified why the computer was not to be used for anything other than entering the Numbers every 108 minutes — was later explained as an edit made by Razdinsky and stored in a hollowed-out Bible in another station across the island, which was later found by Eko. The reasons why the film was edited were never clarified, but Michael's use of the computer to communicate with Walt set off the entire series of tragic events in the second half of Season 2.
  • Our Miss Brooks:
    • "Madison Mascot": Mr. Conklin's letter telling Miss Brooks to get him an elephant bookend is torn. Miss Brooks is forced into the conclusion that Mr. Conklin wants her to get him an elephant. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • In "The Telegram", the eponymous telegram gets partially burnt. Half the message from Mrs. Davis' Uncle Corky gets destroyed. Resultantly, everybody believes that Mrs. Davis' uncle only has a week left to live. Again, It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Supernatural: John Winchester's diary serves as the brothers' hunting guide in early seasons, but when they search for evidence of a half-brother they might have, Sam finds the relevant pages torn out of the journal.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Gift", an alien brings a message to the people of Earth. He is killed and the message burned. Then someone reads the message: "As a gesture of our goodwill, here is the formula for curing all forms of cancer." The rest is burned away.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The text of The Dresden Files contains blacked-out passages, ostensibly inked out by Harry Dresden himself when Billy Borden compiled his notes for the game for Harry's perusal. Gamers who examine the pdf version of the game can peek under the redactions, some of which reference events in the novel series which had not yet been revealed when the RPG first saw print; another contains an actual message from series author Jim Butcher, admitting that he can't tell anyone what Billy originally "wrote" yet.
  • In Paranoia it's not uncommon at all the Troubleshooters will receive documents with parts [CENSORED BECAUSE OF SECURITY REASONS], [THIS INFORMATION IS NOT AVAILABLE AT YOUR CLEARANCE], and the like.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, any piece of lore dealing with the two unknown Primarchs and their Legions is likely to be either vague, heavily redacted, or get cut short before anything solid can be revealed about them. Flavour text on some of the Imperium's more secretive organisations, most notably the Inquisition and Grey Knights, is also often subject to this, especially when it takes the form of in-universe documents.
    • Parodied in *The Regimental Standard* with YOUR Stories!, where a Guardsmanís account of a battle is completely redacted except for "we" and then much later "won." You can still make out some of the original text under the redactions, including "We are all doomed to damnation."

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The Burned Letter in Trials and Tribulations conveniently has crucial parts burned by an incinerator. For example, the name of the person who had to be channeled by Pearl Fey in the night of the murder, Dahlia Hawthorne. You can still figure this out from the other clues of the case.
    • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Magnifi's diary ends with a page that implies he was killed shortly after writing it. However, you can notice the following page was ripped out. You were also given a ripped page before the trial where this comes up, and you claim that it comes from the diary. As it turns out, the missing page was Magnifi's will, and the page you had was a complete fake to make you look like a forger (and indeed, Phoenix Wright was disbarred for presenting false evidence). On the real page, Magnifi gave the rights to his magic tricks to Zak Gramarye, his disciple.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: While searching her brother's Ransacked Room, Ann discovers a video ROM showing Ryan speaking with someone about N540 as the other half of the video is Corrupted Data. After recovering the missing parts, the complete video shows Ryan had visited Dr. Doyle's lab at a prior point.
  • Appears in the thematically appropriate Call of Duty: Black Ops, which follows disavowed events during the Cold War. Every mission opens with a summary, before black ink smears out everything except the viewpoint character, the location, and time. Its sequels, though set in the distant future, still uses this trope by deleting text.
  • Cragne Manor: Parodied. Everything in the bathroom that Ed has handled is covered with inconvenient stains from condiments. The transcript for the scroll ends up looking like "Edward, this is VERY important! You must [ketchup stain] the [mustard] or else [mayo]! This is very important!! You must [more mayo]!!" Naomi expresses frustration when it happens: "Son of a bitch, was Ed eating a fucking hamburger over this ancient magic scroll?"
  • Danganronpa:
    • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, when reading out Sakura's real suicide note, which mentions some details critical to The Reveal, Monokuma simply doesn't read out that part and the document in question is never seen again. Also, when the students view the video showing them agreeing to stay at Hope's Peak forever, Monokuma interrupts it at a seemingly arbitrary point. Specifically, the section showing Junko Enoshima, which would have shown a different person to the Junko the students knew.
    • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the document containing all the students' profiles has some pages removed. These pages would have shown the students becoming Ultimate Despairs.
  • Subverted in Draugen. The birth & death register at the church is missing pages. They've just been scattered over the floor, which renders this a short-lived mystery.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: The game's opening has Link and Zelda finding Zonai ruins deep beneath Hyrule Castle, including a series of elaborate carvings showing Hyrule's origins and the rise of Ganondorf, the Demon King in the distant past. However, a rockslide has covered up the last few wall murals, preventing the later parts of the story from being revealed. Once you eventually get back to said cave, you can just blow up the rubble and see the rest of the mural.
  • Phantom Doctrine: Part of the game is analysing captured documents, which mainly consist of blacked-out text and a few code names. If the same code names appear in different documents, then you can make connections via String Theory.
  • One letter from the original Resident Evil is usually missing its top half by the time you find it. If you're quick enough in reaching the room its located in, you can read the full letter before it's ripped up and see the mention of a "guy in sunglasses," a.k.a. Albert Wesker, who's obviously the person that tears off that part of the letter.
  • Throughout the levels of The Talos Principle, there are various texts, most of which are random bits of history or philosophy, but some are communiques relevant to the backstory. However, in many cases extremely important bits of information are "bugged", appearing as numbers or nonsense characters. (Although, if the player is diligent enough, they can translate some of these back to text using ASCII protocols, creating a very roundabout Bilingual Bonus.)
  • Undertale: In the instruction manual included with the demo, the page that describes the enemy's turn is almost entirely scribbled over. Flowey appears at the bottom of the page, saying some people vandalized the page. The only thing readable on the page is the phrase "friendliness pellets."
  • In the Edie sequence of What Remains of Edith Finch, Edith's mother Dawn takes the book from Edith before she could learn what her great-grandmother Edie found in the old house.
  • X-COM:
    • A common element in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified using blacking out information heavily in the viral marketing of the game and the boxart itself. In game however very little done in such a way as you're in the inner circle.
    • In the expansion to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Enemy Within, when you first research Meld, the official research report mentions some previous research from classified documents in the 70's, which were missing information about the source of the information. Since XCOM has access to any and all information in regards to the alien invaders, the revelation that information has been and is being kept from them should raise a few eyebrows and foreshadows the existence of EXALT.

    Web Original 
  • Used in Marble Hornets Entry #60.5 with Tim's medical documents. While Jay manages to get a decent bit of information from them, the documents are heavily redacted with black marker, with one page being almost entirely blacked out. While Jay theorizes that whoever left the documents did this to intimidate him, one has to wonder how blacking out Tim's last name apart from its initial (W) serves any purpose other than keeping up with the Only One Name motif for the characters.
  • According to a report by The Onion, the CIA had not intentionally meant to obscure any crucial information. They simply highlighted all the important parts of critical documents using a black highlighter.
  • Used a few times in Look to the West, especially in Part #100, which at the end is revealed to be the result of the data being corrupted by the radio having been shot mid-transmission.
    Nim: I'll be honest, termites have been a problem.
  • SCP Foundation
    • The intentional removal of information is used extensively in the Foundation's documents, including blacking out words and replacement by the phrases [REDACTED] and [DATA EXPUNGED]. Certain documents occasionally have non-standard replacements like [EXPLETIVE REMOVED], [ADDITIONAL CLEARANCE REQUIRED], and variations on the standard phrases involving embedded directions.
    • SCP-699 ("Mystery Box"). A rare example of the accidental version of this trope. A report was attached to SCP-699 when it arrived at the Foundation. Parts of the report were too damaged to be read and were replaced with [report damaged].
    • SCP-719 ("Light-Bringer"). Another accidental version. A note found during the recovery of the item was partially burned. The remaining sections indicate that SCP-719 is a doorway for an extradimensional being to enter our reality.
    • SCP-1213 ("Orphaned Catapult"). SCP-1213 is an animated medieval-style catapult that seeks out and grabs young mammals and people with dwarfism, puts them in its basket and throws them against the nearest wall. A document left by its creator had many areas illegible (missing or burnt), but what remained indicated that he used a machine that created doorways between dimensions to acquire it.
    • SCP-2004 ("Personal Data Assistants of the Gods"). SCP-2004 is a set of anomalous PDAs that display a message in an alien language. After reading the message, human beings can translate some of the message, but then lose their minds. What has been translated indicates that the human race is somehow dangerous to the other intelligent beings in the universe and we've been confined to the Earth until we grow up enough to no longer be a threat.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "The Diary", Jake's son T.V. finds a discarded journal at the bottom of a dried-up moat, and finds the last few pages were torn out before T.V. could find out what happened to the owner B.P. on her date with her crush Justin. T.V. and Jake set out to solve the mystery, and eventually discover B.P. was "Betsy Poundcake", AKA minor character Nurse Poundcake.
  • Arthur: In "Unfinished", Arthur finds an old copy of the novel 93 Million Miles in a Balloon. He enjoys the book, but finds that the last few pages of his have been torn out. When he finally acquires another copy, it has been drawn over with crayon and is completely unreadable. In the end, neither we nor Arthur find out how the story is supposed to end, although Arthur realizes he can write his own ending.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zhao burned away references to The Day Of Black Sun, and indeed, any references to the Fire Nation at all in Wan Shi Tong's library (which served as the last straw for the spirit, and caused him to become hostile to humans).
  • In the Doug episode "Doug and the Weird Kids", Doug is paired off with Al and Moo Sleech for a school report where they have to get to know each other. While the Sleech twins investigate Doug's life and habits, they provide him a document containing information about themselves. However, when it comes to their father, they only provide a heavily redacted profile where the only words visible are "and", "but The", "An", and "McDonagh." Doug decides to investigate who their father actually is, and it turns out he's a baker. The twins are ashamed of him because he's not a scientist like them.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: In "A Town Called Ed", the Eds find an old book titled "Fort Peach Creek" that details the history of their hometown of Peach Creek and discovers that Eddy's ancestors were the original founders of the town, until Double D notices the book was missing a page that the Kanker Sisters deliver to show their ancestor technically owned Peach Creek after it was won in a bet.
  • In the first episode of Gravity Falls, Journal 3's "Property of" label is ripped in half. That half being where the name was written, thus making its Author's identity a mystery for most of the series. A season-and-a-half later, the characters would discover the Author's identity to be Grunkle Stan's twin brother.
  • Looney Tunes: Played for comedy in "Buckaroo Bugs" as Bugs (as a messenger) delivers a message to "hero" Red Hot Ryder which we see as he reads:
    Ryder: Roses are red,
    Violets are pink,
    Flowers smell good
    But you sure do s(obscured with the word "Censored")...I sure what??!
    Bugs: STINK, YOU FOOL!!! STINK!!!
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Pinkie Pie", Pinkie finds a book showing records of the Apple Family, then finds a name with the last name of "Pie" but with the first name smudged, leading her to believe she's related to Applejack. To find out, the family pays a visit to member Goldie Delicious, who has records of the entire family, but has the exact same smudged name as the book, thus the relationship is left ambiguous.
  • The Owl House: In "Enchanting Grom Fright", during the fight against Grom (a monster which can shapeshift into its opponent's worst fears), it turns into Amity's fear, which is a humanoid shape that rips up a note in her pocket. Luz reads the bottom half of the note, from which she sees that it was a proposal to be Amity's Grom date, and Amity's worst fear was being rejected. Luz doesn't see the top half, which reveals that Amity wanted to ask her to Grom.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Mara's transmission just happens to be degraded around the descriptions of the weapon and Light Hope, leaving how those two topics fit together ambiguous at best.
  • South Park: In one episode, Kenny becomes comatose and leaves behind a written request should it happen, the reader however noticed that he's missing a page. Later, the missing page is found and reads "Should it ever happen, please... for the love of God, don't ever show me in that condition on national television".
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, the Mystic Scroll of the Shen Gong Wu is missing a section covering the full extent of the Ying Yoyo's powers, which lets you enter the Ying-Yang World. The next episode, Dojo finds it in-between the comatose Master Fung's toes, because the paper had been used to fill in a hole in his sandal. It details how unless you have the Yang Yoyo, people who enter the Ying-Yang World turn evil from losing their good chi.

    Real Life 
  • Any formerly classified document released by the FBI, CIA, NSA, and similar "alphabet soup agencies" under the Freedom of Information Act can be expected to have any useful information redacted.
    • Additionally, a document can itself be declassified, but still contain information that has not been declassified. This is generally where the "redacted" black-outs come from. The most closely guarded information, "sources and methods"note , is almost always left out for decades: the revelation that the British cracked the Nazi Germany Enigma code cipher, for example, wasn't unclassified until 50 years after World War 2 ended.
  • The diary of John Wilkes Booth has over a dozen pages missing. It is unknown whether he tore out the pages himself, or if they were removed afterwards. This has led to theories that someone else was behind the Lincoln assassination, most notably Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who was given the diary after it was recovered from Booth's body. To this day, the missing pages and their contents remain unknown.
  • During recovery operations after the Flight TE901 crash into Mt Erebus in 1979, pages from a ring binder belonging to the pilot were removed, prompting charges of a cover-up.
  • Lewis Carroll had a big falling out with Alice's family (she was a real girl) some years after he wrote the Alice books. He kept diaries which exist to this day, but the pages relating to the fall out have been cut out. It is presumed that they were removed after his death by members of his family because the events reflected poorly on him. His biographer Morton N. Cohen speculated that he had asked to marry the then 11-year-old Alice, although this would not have been considered quite as scandalous at the time as it would today.
  • Fragment #147 of Sappho's poetry is perhaps the most beautifully destroyed love poem ever;
    someone will remember us [...] I say [...] even in another time


Video Example(s):


Donut's diary

Loser was interrupted in reading Donut's diary, first from Four grabbing the jawbreaker he's in, and then from reading the end.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / ConvenientlyInterruptedDocument

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