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Floating Advice Reminder

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Marge: This town is a part of us all. A part of us all. A part of us all! Sorry to repeat myself, but it'll help you remember.
[later, while Bart is riding his skateboard alone]
Marge's voice: This town is a part of us all... A part of us all... A part of us all...
Bart: Wow, that does work.

The character must make an important decision. Partially transparent heads of several characters appear around them and give them advice. Sometimes the advice is a repeat of the things these characters said earlier in the episode. This is most common in animated works, where it is easiest to portray such an event.

A very Dead Horse Trope nowadays.

A more mundane and easy to show variant is to have the character very clearly remember their advice.

Compare Good Angel, Bad Angel, Hearing Voices, Helpful Hallucination, What Would X Do? Not to be confused with videogames' Exposition Fairy.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Played straight to Combined Energy Attack-like effect in the X/1999 anime finale, where Kamui sees flashbacks of all his lost friends offering help and support for his ultimate, self-sacrificing attack.
  • Bleach: Psycho Blood Knight Kenpachi is faced with an opponent he cannot simply mow down because he's had four of his five senses (including sight) removed from play. He consults tiny caricatures of his subordinates for advice. Played for comedy, especially when the least likely advice to work is actually the advice that does. Kenpachi imagines Yumichika telling him to give up in a beautiful way. Kenpachi at first dismisses it in disgust before realising it's actually a good idea - he promptly gives up fighting to let Tousen stab him. His plan is to rely heavily on his ability to tank insane wounds so he can trap the sword in his gut because it's the only way he can locate his opponent who will have to be holding onto the other end of the now trapped sword. In other words, Kenpachi gave up in a beautiful way in order to win the fight... well, beautiful for a psycho Blood Knight, that is.
  • Used in Kyo Kara Maoh!'s anime adaptation, where Yuuri's mom's head often pops up giving him silly advice or some sort of reminder.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons episode 2, Mr. Slowy has a thought bubble with Paddi warning him that a dream he had about Wolffy attacking the goats may come true. Mr. Slowy dismisses this as nonsense.

    Comic Books 
  • The DC Comics character Firestorm is usually composed of two people who have to work together. One (either Ronny Raymond or Jason Rusch) gets control of the body, while the other communicates like this.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): During his fight with Enerjak, Silver tries to think about what his mentors taught him. One is Mammoth Mogul quoting old wisdom, and the other is the last Echnida being a Grumpy Old Man.
    Silver: Great. Either cryptic or cranky.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot:
    • In one baseball story arc, Peter is standing at home plate as a hallucination of Roger reciting batting advice hovers in front of him. In the final panel, his teammates' reaction suggests he is swinging the bat at the hallucination to get it to shut up.
    • A 2002 story arc sees Roger go to Costclub to buy Halloween candy; Andy initially insists on going along to be the voice of reason stopping him from buying a bunch of junk they don't need, but Roger insists he can be his own voice of reason. His internal voice of reason is represented by a floating copy of himself seen from the shoulders up and, Roger being Roger, is just as dumb as he is, actively encouraging his impulse purchases at every turn.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the 4th An American Tail film Mystery of the Night Monster, as Fievel cowers before the mechanical "night monster" he gets a vision of his mentor Nellie Brie's floating head, telling him it's alright to be afraid sometimes, but not to let the fear win.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played straight in the Danny Kaye movie The Inspector General— a musical version of this trope: the three heads advise him to be "arrogant, elegant, and smart," with each head representing one of those characteristics.
  • Parodied in How High where everyone can see the floating advisor.
  • Used straight in Home Alone, when Kevin at first reacts with anxiety when he believes that "I made my family disappear!" But then a series of floating heads of various family members remind him that they had said hurtful things to him the night before (including a fake one of Buzz threatening to feed him to his tarantula) - and he repeats, with a broad smile, "I made my family disappear!"
  • 1942 short film Beyond the Line of Duty has bomber pilot Capt. Wheless in a desperate struggle to pilot his bomber home and escape the Japanese fighters who are trying to shoot him down. As the Zeroes pepper his plane with bullets, Wheless remembers his trainers at flight school, who appear as Floating Advice Reminders telling him how to pilot the plane and get out of his jam.
  • Man of the World: Michael the blackmailer is caught in a Love Triangle between Mary, his innocent new girlfriend, and Irene, his ex-girlfriend and partner in crime. As a depressed Michael plods down the street, Mary's smiling floating head appears on one side of him, while Irene's floating head is on the other side, reminding him that he can't be with Mary because he's burnt his bridges and will never be accepted in polite society again.
  • The Sin of Nora Moran: Governor Dick Crawford is riven with guilt because his mistress, Nora Moran, is about to be executed for a murder that Dick committed, and he's going to let it happen. Finally he decides that he will pardon her after all. Suddenly Nora's floating disembodied head appears and starts talking to him. With a creepy air of calm, Nora tells him to let her fry: he's an important man with a lot of good to do, she doesn't want to see their love turned into a tabloid scandal, and if she were freed it would just be to return to a life of pain and struggle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Joel/Mike and the 'bots act as though the character is utterly terrified by the sudden floating heads.
  • Used to good effect at the end of the the Doctor Who serial The Caves of Androzani, when the heads of all of the Fifth Doctor's companions (including the short-lived Kamelion and, most notably, the deceased Adric) appeared to beg him to go on living, but only when his nemesis the Master appeared calling on him to die did he finally regenerate.
  • Used very nicely in Father Ted when Ted is in anguish over whether or not he truly does deserve an award (The Golden Cleric). He wanders down a beach, skipping stones and brooding as the heads of Mrs. Doyle, Father Jack, Father Dougal and the cast of Ballykissangel float past. Jack and Peter Clifford cackle evilly at him, Mrs. Doyle comments that he's probably the second best priest in the country, Assumpta sneeringly turns him down while reminding him that he is only the second best priest in the country and Dougal...floats towards the screen, looks puzzled and turns around to leave the way he came.
  • In an episode of 30 Rock, Pete Hornburger is confronted with the choice of whether or not to cheat on his wife. At the climax of that plotline, the woman he's considering the affair with is in the bathroom, making her move, when Kenneth Parcell pokes his head through the vent and entreats him not to do it. Lampshaded when Tracy Jordan pokes his head in: Pete says "I suppose you're going to tell me to do it," and Tracy responds, "No, I was just looking for the bathroom, but yes you should do it!"
  • Used in an episode of Spaced when Daisy almost reveals to Marsha that she and Tim aren't a couple. Floating-head versions of Tim and Daisy appear and attempt to counsel Daisy on how to fix the problem.

    Video Games 
  • In the Rockett's World games, the player must choose to listen to one of three Floating Advice Reminders at different points in the game.
  • In Pokémon, trying to use a Key Item in certain places will result in the you reminding yourself of the game's resident Pokémon Professor (Or your mom, in specific instalments) telling that you can't use that item there.
  • The very last part of the Final Battle in Persona 3.
  • Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People
    • In Episode 3, Baddest of the Bands, whenever Bubs suggests Strong Bad could pay off his debt by working at his store rather than jumping through elaborate hoops to arrange, sabotage, and win a battle of the bands, a floating pixelated head of Limozeen's Larry Palaroncini appears over Strong Bad's shoulder and says "Rock and Roll, Strong Bad!"
    • In 8-Bit is Enough, Strong Bad ponders a way to distract the rampaging Trogdor machine so he can repair it, and recalls Strong Sad telling him "You'd have to be some kind of idiot to take on Trogdor alone!" in this fashion. Right on cue, Homestar Runner blunders into the scene.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • Game Grumps: During the Domino Rally episode that formally introduces Kevin on-camera, poor Barry is besieged by editing requests from Arin and Danny and starts to have a mental breakdown right in front of them:
    Floating Arin Head: Make sure to include THAT part!
    Floating Danny Head: Wolfjob!
    Arin: Zoom in on it!
    Danny: Wolfjob!
    Arin: Doodle-ee-do!.....Doodle-ee-do!
    Arin: WOLFJOB!

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied on Hey Arnold!. Arnold has lost his hat, and he looks at himself in the mirror, remembering his Grandpa's advice.
    Grandpa Phil: (echoing) You are who are because of what's on the inside, not the outside... the inside, not the outside... (normally) Are you listening, Arnold? The inside, not the outside.
  • Used straight and parodied various times in The Simpsons. A common parody is to have one of the heads have nothing to do with the topic at hand or be completely different to what the person actually said.
    • A particularly neat little parody is in "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage Of Homer)", when Homer eats too many spicy chiles and has a vision of a coyote (voiced by Johnny Cash) telling him to find his soulmate. After a lot of fruitless searching, Homer gets discouraged and the coyote speaks to him again:
      Coyote: Find your soulmate, Homer. Find your soulmate.
      Homer: But where? Where should I look?!
      Coyote: This is just your memory. I can't give you any new information.
    • In "Who Shot Mr. Burns?: Part 1" Homer is tormented by multiple floating heads of Mr. Burns on his drive to work, upset because Burns can't remember his name. He stops concentrating on the road while yelling at them, and they advise him to look out while he crashes through the gate.
    • In "Last Exist To Springfield", Homer has trouble making a connection with his employee benefits and his family's needs:
      Lenny: DENTAL PLAN!
      Marge: Lisa needs braces.
      Lenny: DENTAL PLAN!
      Marge: Lisa needs braces.
      Lenny: DENTAL PLAN!
      Marge: Lisa needs braces.
    • A subversion with useless advice in "Bart Star":
      Bart: I cannot believe you are here! Do you think you could give me a few pointers?
      Joe Namath: Sure. There's only one thing you need to know to be a great quarterback.
      Joe Namath's wife: Joe, honey, I fixed it. It was just vapor lock.
      Joe Namath: Okay, look, I gotta run. Remember what I told you.
      Bart: Okay Bart, concentrate.
      Bart's thoughts: Remember what I told you... Just one thing... My car broke down... I'm Joe Namath... My car broke down... It was just vapor lock... vapor lock... vapor lock...
    • In "Marge Be Not Pround", Bart has a chance to steal a video game he really, really wants:
      Luigi Parody: Go ahead-a Bart, Take-a 'de Bonestorm!
      Mario Parody: The store, she is so rich, she'll never notice!
      Donkey Kong Parody: Duh, it's the company's fault for making you want it so much!
      Lee Carvallo: Don't do it son. How is that going to improve your putting?
      Sonic Parody: Juuuuust take it! Take-it-take-it-take-it-take-it-take-it! TAKE IT!
    • In "Lemon Of Troy", Marge tries to instill in Bart a sense of Springfield pride in "Lemon of Troy"...
      Marge: This town is a part of us all. A part of us all. A part of us all! Sorry to repeat myself, but it'll help you remember.
      [later, while Bart is riding his skateboard alone]
      Marge's voice: This town is a part of us all.
      [zoom in]
      Marge's voice: A part of us all.
      [zoom in]
      Marge's voice: A part of us all!
      Bart: Wow, that does work.
    • In "Girls Just Want To Have Sums", Lisa contemplates beating up Ralph to be like one of the boys, gives this examples of The Triple:
      Greater Than Or Equal To Symbol: Do it Lisa! You'll be greater than or equal to boys!
      Number 8: You may be eight, but your possibilities are infinite!
      Number 27: [beat] 27!
  • Jay Sherman appears to son Marty on an episode of The Critic, twice in one episode. In the first occasion, his floating bubble is popped by a passer-by, and he's stepped on repeatedly; on the second occasion, his advice fails to help, but he spots a passing food vendor, and his head chases it in an impersonation of Pac-Man, complete with sound effects.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Played with when Batman has been dosed with Scarecrow's gas and is tormented by a floaty-head of his late father telling him he has failed the family name. This leads directly into the well-known "I. Am. BATMAN!" scene, and is followed by Bruce beating up Scarecrow's mooks and saving a hostage. He even gets a Theme Music Power-Up!
    • In "The Clock King": Interestingly when Temple Fugate remembers the advice Counselor Hill gave him at the subway hearing again Hill's voice, he remembers it wrong. Hill never said that Fugate must get out of his office, just that Fugate must get out of his routine for a few minutes. This little detail establishes the Misplaced Retribution:
      Hill: Take your coffee break at 3:15. And get out of the office.
  • Played straight in Clone High when Abe is wondering whether he should continue driving in a dangerous race, or take a nap.
  • Used in Futurama during the sequence which named the trope "Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks."
  • Happens almost Once an Episode in Doug.
  • Parodied in a Robot Chicken sketch that is basically Joey Fatone of *NSYNC in a parody of The Karate Kid. During the actual tournament, Joey is confronted by a monstrous amalgamation of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne, Jessica Simpson, and Ashlee Simpson. He then hallucinates the heads of the other four members of his own band... who give him entirely-irrelevant advice such as just shouting "Reaganomics!", before merging with him to make him Kaiju-sized so he can take on said monster.
  • Used in Metalocalypse, once with Offdensen mentioning an upcoming concert in Israel (which Nathan summarily ignores), another time with the characters advising Pickles to tell off his mother, and another time with the band calling Murderface ugly.
  • The Brak Show: Played with in "Goldfish"; Thundercleese warns Brak not to feed his pet goldfish Mr. Tickles too much ham, which Brak then sings about. Later in the episode, he tries to recall what Thundercleese told him to do, only now Thundercleese is singing the song instead, and Brak misremembers the lyrics as "Three hams will fill him" rather than "Three hams will kill him".
  • As in the comic book example, Firestorm does this in Super Powers Team, one of the final incarnations of the Super Friends, as well as the newest animated adaptation, Justice League Action.
  • This trope is parodied in Tigtone. Tigtone frequently remembers advice given to him by a gnome, who has never appeared as anything but a Floating Advice Reminder. The advice Tigtone remembers him giving is often ridiculously specific to whatever situation he currently finds himself in, and the gnome often talks as though he is talking directly to Tigtone in the present rather than the past.
  • Sesame Street has an animated skit where a little girl goes to a grocery store and struggles to remember one of the items she has to buy. An image of her mother's face rather noisily bursts into view and repeats the shopping list for her ("A loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter").
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "Just in Time for Christmas", Patrick tries to remember what his mother always used to say to figure out what to get her for Christmas. He has a badly drawn thought bubble of her saying "There's no place more fun than a carnival!", which helps him out. Then she leans out of the thought bubble and kisses him.


Video Example(s):


The Fifth Doctor Regenerates

Succumbing to a painful and fatal poisoning that he contracted by accident at the start of the story, the Fifth Doctor is comforted by visions of his past companions and taunted by a vision of his arch-enemy, the Master, before regenerating into his sixth incarnation, thus allowing Colin Baker to take on the role from Peter Davison.

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Example of:

Main / TheNthDoctor

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