A well written story tries to avoid just dumping all the relevant information on the audience's lap. Whether it be The Hero piecing together the villain's plot, each episode revealing a little more about The 'Verse in which the work's set or the cast and their backstories being introduced one at a time. Some information is best just leaked rather than poured.
After a while, however, new characters might be introduced; maybe the cast need to welcome the Sixth Ranger, or explain themselves to a Reasonable Authority Figure or reporter. That's where this trope comes in handy; rather than just repeating everything that's been said to the audience the characters begin explaining and then the action cuts to when they've just finished. Stock Phrases that indicate that this trope's about to appear include;
- "Well, it's a long story..."
- "I'll explain on the way." - Particularly just after The Cavalry pick someone up.
- "You won't believe what I've been through." - Often used at the end of a story (this might lead to a variation where the episode ends rather than cutting to a new scene).
- "Well, there you have it..." - Used after the cut.
- "And that's the whole story." - Another phrase used after the cut.
When the new scene begins, the characters listening to the explanation will usually repeat a few of the details, just to make it clear what's been explained to them (or possibly indicate that a few crucial details have been distorted).
Occasionally this trope will be used to keep the audience in the dark for an Unspoken Plan Guarantee or The Unreveal rather than to avoid wasting time repeating what they already know. It may be needed for a work to successfully make use of Show, Don't Tell. Compare Answer Cut, for when the cut jumps to the explanation rather than past it. Contrast As You Know, when information the audience doesn't know is relayed to characters who should know it and Viewers Are Goldfish.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Upon first arriving on Namek, Goku finds Gohan, Krillin, and Vegeta beaten to a pulp. Krillin tries to explain what happened since they got there and instead, Goku places his hand on Krillin's head and reads his mind.
- In The Legend of Total Drama Island, The Storyteller regularly skips over repetitive content with the line, "But nothing would be gained by repeating it here."note .
- In "Jontron Goes To Equestria", when Twilight, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Rarity rush up to Fluttershy, she asks what is the matter. Before anyone can respond however, Pinkie jumps up and yells "Exposition Cut!!" followed by Rainbow Dash coughing up a hyper link to this very TV Tropes page before cutting away, and comes back to the story with "I now completely understand the situation and am one-hundred percent behind you, Twilight, and don't need any further convincing. Thank you for providing such an in-depth and detailed explanation."
- Brother Bear has a variant where one of the movie's songs plays over top of most of Kenai's story of what happened to Koda's mother. Not only does the audience already know, showing Kenai explained it exactly might have robbed some of the emotional impact.
- Played for Laughs in A Bug's Life; Slim says that Flik can explain on the way. It then cuts to Flik finishing his explaination to...Tuck and Roll, who don't speak a word of English. This pretty much keeps the plot on track.
- North By Northwest: When the hero is brought up to speed, we do not hear the exposition since the audience is already aware of it.
- Early in the Swedish comedy SOS, the protagonists get stuck at sea on a barge loaded with trash. A friend of theirs spots them from her boat and asks what happened; we hear the start of their explanation ("It's completely absurd, actually...") before the movie fades to black with the text "17 minutes later", and then back to the end of the conversation.
- The novel Buddy (about a boy from a poor family who was named after Buddy Holly) has the protagonist give a first person version; it talks briefly about how he lets his friend explain everything and is too tired to correct the mistakes in it.
- In the Mardrus & Mathers translation of The Thousand and One Nights, Shahrazad commonly skips over repetitive content by saying, "but nothing would be gained by repeating it here."note
- Rick Riordan's novels have repeatedly used this trope. A character will have a vision that will show them something far away. After the character wakes up, they tell their friends on what they learned. But true to this trope, the story will skip over the rehash. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Riordan outdid himself during The Heroes of Olympus series, where even the critics notice his overuse in the 1st book (The Lost Hero).
- My Name Is Earl: In a lot of episodes, Earl explaining his List and wanting to right his past wrongs is skipped over via Earl's narration, as an abridged version is already given through the show's Expository Theme Tune.
- On an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Dr. Bashir is trapped in a Journey to the Center of the Mind for a while. When he wakes up he tells the rest of the cast "You won't believe where I've been." And the episode cuts to various characters speaking to him about his dream.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: "Send in the Clones" has everyone asking Jimmy why they are all victims of something. Jimmy starts with "I Can Explain". however, the audience has already seen everything, so we get a brief clip of "4 hours later" and cut back to Jimmy wrapping up the story with "...and that's how it all happened".
- In another episode, Sheen asks Jimmy why they don't need helmets to breathe in space. Jimmy says "That's a good question, Sheen", but as he begins to explain his words are drowned out to the audience by Carl's impromptu singing.
- Family Guy: Spoofed in an episode where Peter comes up with a plan to stop students from using drugs at the Quahog high school. Peter is seen in the principal's office saying, "... and that's the plan." The principal points out that Peter never actually gave a plan but rather walked into his office and said this line.
- My Little Pony:
- My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "The Quest Of The Princess Ponies, Part 3", Megan launches into a lengthy explanation of the episode's events up to that point to get the Moochick caught up. The episode then cuts to following the other group of heroes shortly after she starts, and comes back to her thread of the story when she's just finished expositing.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Mare in the Moon", Spike sets into a long introduction of himself that starts with "Well, it all started when I was a cute little purple and green egg..." and cuts to several hours later, at sundown, with "and that's the story of my entire life!"
- Steven Universe:
- "When it Rains" ends with Peridot about to explain the details of The Cluster to the rest of the Crystal Gems, having already decided to trust Steven enough to tell him.
- In "Made of Honor", Steven decides to free Bismuth. When she reforms, she is horrified to learn about all the former Crystal Gem who have become Corrupted after she frees one of the bubbled ones. Assuming that this was the work of Pink Diamond, she demands to know why Rose didn't stop her— to which Steven replies that it was because Pink and Rose were the same person. Cut to one explanation later, where Steven has told her everything she missed out on.