In video, sometimes the screen will show something briefly that you cannot tell what it is unless you play the video in slow motion or pause it. Often it turns out to be a joke or a Shout-Out, though it can sometimes be used for Foreshadowing in more continuity-heavy works.
Unreadably Fast Text is a subtrope of this.
Also called a "Blink And You'll Miss It" moment.
(It's often good to link to pictures or actually describe what's seen when giving examples of this trope.)
- Anime and Manga
- Films – Animation
- Films – Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- The There's a Pony For That commercial consists of one freeze frame bonus after another. At 0:25, they even have an entire fake news article visible.
- The Sega Dreamcast's It's Thinking ad campaign are full of these, ranging from Beat holding a microphone in the SegaNet commercial, the DMV in the Crazy Taxi ad having a certain number on it, Eggman and Rayman at a taco shop in the NFL 2K commercial, and lots more.
- The TV commercial for Clash of Clans focuses on the Wall Breakers, Barbarians, Giants, Archers, and Hog Riders, but if you look in the background, you can see Goblins and P.E.K.K.As running about. They later get their own commercials.
- An infamous commercial from the Bush campaign generated some controversy after some argued that it subliminally showed the word "RATS" for a frame, when talking about Al Gore's prescription plan.
- In Paranoia Drift, an AMV that retells The Girl Who Leapt Through Time as delusions from Makoto's mind, there are a few frames at the beginning which read "This time while watching this video please remove all your emotional and logical effliction to this anime".
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
- When Krillin uses a Solar Flare on Dodoria, the flash contains a shot of Freeza's head on the body of a black man showering, in reference to an earlier comment by Vegeta.
- This is a running gag with every Solar Flare producing a different flash. Other instances include Dodoria's head on a large woman showering; Lanipator in drag; two insects mating; and Cell raping Android 18.
- In Smile HD, when Fluttershy is delivering a smackdown on Pinkie, for a split second the two of them appear to be laughing and hugging.◊
- In Rainbow Dash's Precious Book, there's a scene in Part 5 where the human character books a flight to escape from Rainbow Dash. While the plane takes off from its runway, a filly speculated to be either Scootaloo (who appeared earlier in the episode) or Babs Seed can be briefly spotted on the runway.
- Many of the captions in My Little Pony: Totally Legit Recap go by far too quick to be read the first time without knowing they're there. There's also a Running Gag of Rainbow Dash shooting herself in the mouth whenever DWK jokes about the show upsetting him, but it's only briefly onscreen each time he uses it.
- There are two in "Weird Al" Yankovic's White and Nerdy video. The first is at min 1:10 with a mock Trivial Pursuit question card with questions like "F.D.R. - Was he faking it?" and "What's the deal with Lindsey Lohan? I mean, seriously". The other is at 1:50. The Wikipedia article he's editing (vandalizing) is Atlantic Records'. Al's James Blunt parody "You're Pitiful" was squashed by the label... he's less than pleased with the way they handled it.
- His video "Word Crimes" packed with them starting with Weird Al's picture in the dictionary under "accordion".
- The name on his the reddit screen on the same video is George Newman, his character from UHF.
- In fact, he created the subreddit /r/hamstergifs with a conspirator several months before the music video ever released, using his own character's name to make the same comment that he showcases.
- His degrees on the wall include a Bachelors Degree in "Writing Good" and a Masters in Greek.
- The teacher on the graded paper is Ms. Krabappel.
- 30 Seconds to Mars' Attack video, by way of superimposed writing and scribblings. Probably the only one in recorded history to use this to give a Shout-Out to their fanbase and equate the lead singer to Satan within the same timespan.
- Specifically invoked in the Matthew Good video for Weapon. Initially upset with what the video's director had done with it, Good took control of the project and inserted every-other-frame videos, very quick flashes of words, and actually lengthy diatribes that you have to pause to be able to read. The video won a Juno (the Canadian Grammy), but because Good boycotts the Junos, the original director accepted the award...despite not really making it in the first place.
- The All-American Rejects' "Dirty Little Secret" video features people who's faces are hidden by little cards that admit their dirty little secret, such as suspecting that their fiancee isn't the One or exactly what happened at church camp. A list of what appears to be all of them is here.
- Kennedy's "Mama Made Me a Pimp" features a split-second flash of a skull in the mirror, foreshadowing the protagonist getting killed in a knife fight by a rival pimp.
- The Beatles Anthology's video for "Free as a Bird" is packed full of references to Beatles songs and lyrics; glimpses of the band members themselves as well as people and places important to them can also be spotted. A good many of the references are obvious, but some can only be spotted on repeat viewings or by slowing the video down.
- Kagerou Project: In 1:20 of Moon-viewing Recital, Hibiya is Dragged into Drag for a photo with Momo, both in maid uniforms, in a split-second flash.
- Shooting Disaster Drop in White Water plays an animation showing water rushing towards the viewer; for one frame, a cow appears in the lower-left corner.
- Safe Cracker: When you get into the vault through the cellar, the animation that plays has Brian Morrison's initials pop up very briefly on the far right side.
- There are tons of them in the Web Animation movie Rise Of The Mushroom Kingdom, from game references and Shouts Out to hidden characters and plotlines. There is a guide to them on the movie's main page on Video Game Director's Cuts.
- In the scene in Metal Gear Awesome where the player skips the long cutscene, slowing it down reveals some very strange drawings, and a screen with the handwritten text 'I wish people could see these drawings, I think they're pretty funny'.
- Da Amazin OT Advenchr has quite a few of these, including one from episode 22, where one shows Lite wearing Curly Brace's panties.
- In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, when Magnus breaks the wards surrounding the Imperial Palace, there's a frame or two of "We are all free now", serving as Five-Second Foreshadowing of swarm of daemons that pours into the palace if one can catch it.
- Too many YouTube Poops to count...
- The user avojaifnot specializes in this though.
- As does Stuart K. Reilly, who even wrote "Y'all don't read my subliminal text anymore" in one of his videos.
- Every so often in Happy Tree Friends episodes from 2012 onwards, Truffles the pig, the loser from the new character contest Vote Or Die, can very briefly be seen in the background. On one occasion when Petunia explodes, he can even briefly be seen flying out of her.
- Sometimes in Space Tree, a long shot of a character talking will have a different image show for a frame. Random bits of text are also often displayed, though longer and more subtly than the usual freeze frame bonus.
- Starting in the second season of The Dota 2 Reporter, there is always a bit of text that can only be seen if you pause to that exact moment.
- The G Mod Idiot Box Episode 3 has a brief flash of "HE'S GOT A GUN".
- Dead Fantasy:
- In Part V, the flickering in Tifa's flashback conceals text. Also, pausing at the moment right after Hayate knocks Tifa out will show a very, very brief image of a white materia in the middle of her back.
- Also, all of Hayate's attacks and movements are animated - they just move so fast that they look like he's teleporting. You have to actually go through the video frame-by-frame to see what he's doing.
- Pinisu-chan's essay in the first episode of Large Bagel begins with her trying to find out where she came from and if there are other Large Bagel's, only to change in the second paragraph to a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air parody.
- There is a Couch Gag in the beginning of every opening sequence in the full-length episodes of Cyanide & Happiness where a guy arrives home from work. In every episode, there is a different "To-Do List" on his whiteboard behind the door. To see it, you have to pause after the "camera" pans into his apartment and JUST before he opens the door.
- The Extra Credits team pulls a Rickroll. Read the initials on the high score list.
- The Flash-Gitz Animation toon "TRANSformers" has Megatron read a couple of articles written by "social justice warriors". The headlines flash by fast, but by pausing, it's possible to actually read the articles... including one that's just a rant about how tiresome it is to write these fake articles for the benefit of overly curious viewers.
- This is featured in the Mighty Magiswords episode "The Desolation of Grup". During the contest, Vambre uses the Snowball Magisword to shoot some empty cans off a log. The cans are "Beeeanz", "Slug in a Can", "Diet H.P.", "Mushroom Mush", and "Freeze Frame Gags For Nerds!"
- In Homestuck's Act 4 closing animation, in the intermittent sequences of Becquerel's static, you can see various scenes flashing through the silhouette of Bec's head. One of them, appearing for the briefest of instants, is Bro riding Maplehoof engulfed in the flames of a meteor. Later, during the flashback battle between Mindfang's fleet and Redglare's dragon, you can briefly see sailing around what appears to be a troll version of Guybrush Threepwood.
- Atop the Fourth Wall:
- The episode on Newmen #1 has flashing "extreme!" text, at on the final repeat there also appears "if you can read this, you paused the video".
- His New Guardians #2 video also has one, the end of which reads "Hi TV Tropes!"
- The entire set of episodes leading up to Linkara's confrontation with the Entity involves staticky, split-second messages in the credits, presumably from the Entity itself.
- The Ask That Guy with the Glasses episode 65 has this:
"Really? You went to read this knowing it would lead you straight to hell? What the Ass-Puke is wrong with you? It's friggin' Hell! Fire, pain, the Devil, it's worth that to see what this said? That Guy With The Glasses was just kidding when he said you were going to Hell, but now that you've actually come back to pause it, we have no choice. You're going to Lem. It's a place like Hell but ten times worse. It's not written about in the Bible because every time some one tried writing about it, they'd cut their own head off. It's THAT bad. So I hope it was worth it, I hope it was worth pausing this video for that. See ya in Lem ya miserable piece of donkey rectum. En- friggin- joy!"
- The Nostalgia Critic:
- The review of Junior, listing why men getting pregnant is a bad idea (includes gems such as "if a baby kicks, the man would probably kick back").
- A darker one in Once Upon a Forest, as when the audience member clicks on the porn a second time, it's now a site that depicts fifteen year old girls with the words "make her suffer" nearby. Charming.
- In the "Top 11 Avatars" episode, the first page of the "Cab Bitches" book has two entire paragraphs, including these lines:
Do you really think anyone's going to be attracted to you when you say "Oh yeah, I pause online videos to see if they put in secret jokes?" God, I'm surprised several women haven't just stripped naked shouting "Take me!" from reading that line. Jesus Christ! We'll spare you from pausing the video to look up any any other secrets, because there aren't any.
- Marble Hornets uses these for horror rather than humor, to indicate something very wrong is going on. Quite common in The Slender Man Mythos; Tribe Twelve also uses them for the purposes of horror, as well as Mind Screw.
- A fan ending to Botchamania episode 166 (which uses voice clips from NFL Blitz 2001) has a bunch of these. Interspersed with images of random wrestlers and WrestleCrap moments, there are a few jokes written about them that can only be seen on the screen for a fraction of a second (example: the announcer calls out "Fat" while showing an image of Samoa Joe, and the caption above Joe's head reads "Damn you, Scott Steiner promos! And your unintentional hilarity!" note )
- 5 Second Films does a lot of "Blink and Your Miss It" jokes. For example in "Meanwhile, in Kansas", the headline of the newspaper at the end reads, "Don't Enter Politics. It Can Turn Your Daughter Gay!"
- Used as foreshadowing in To Boldly Flee. When The Nostalgia Critic finds out the dialog he just spoke was written for him, we see the flash of script and realize that he didn't follow it to the letter. This sets up the gist of the next few scenes; that he's evolved and has taken control of his own character.
- Community Channel has been doing this in her videos recently, because people kept pausing to read the fake webpages. Now they usually start with text that's relevant to the subject, cut off mid-sentence by "why do you guys pause the videos to read these" or something similar.
- The Agony Booth: Mr. Mendo's review of a horrible porn flick culminates in a jumbled sequence (from the original film) covered with various censorship signs and captions. Towards the end, for a split-second, there's a caption that reads: "I'm willing to worship whatever deity makes this Slipknot editing go the fuck away!"
- In the Game Theory episode on Minecraft Diamond Armor theory, after MatPat talks about crystals having four planes of cleavage and says "we're not talking about the Pamela Anderson Bermuda Triangle brand of cleavage here," two "editor's notes" briefly appear on screen, the first saying "Wait!? We're not?" and the second saying:
Matt, I just spent, like, 25 minutes Photoshopping Katy Perry's pom-poms onto crystalline solids and you're telling me we aren't even talking about ta-tas?My roommate walked in on me! Imagine having THAT conversation...
- When Chaotrix is hacking the Student Database in Super Academy, we get some glimpses of everyone's class lists. Without exception, every single student is registered for the class "Reading and Writing 1".
- This is a somewhat common occurrence within Chuggaaconroy's Let's Plays. During day 6 of his playthrough of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, as soon as he's done explaining why you'll catch nothing but Sea Basses on the shore, the video very briefly shows a still◊ of a Memetic Mutation related to the situation. For a more recent example, at about the 11:50 mark in episode 5 of his Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga playthrough, when Chugga is talking about how games let you see previous areas you've been through in new areas, the logo for Xenoblade briefly appears.note
- Matthew Santoro:
- In Matt's video Anonymous, you can see that Matt is wearing the Guy Fawkes mask worn by the members of Anonymous at various points in the video.
- In Worldwide Internet Control!, Matt says that Steve Ballmer, the then-CEO of Microsoft, always plagiarizes peoples' ideas. The Apple logo then flashes on the screen for a fraction of a second.
- In The Stinger of A New Planet & Antimatter!, a fan commenter accuses Matt of putting subliminal messages in his video. Messages, including ones telling the viewer to subscribe, show up on the video for a fraction of a second.
- Brutalmoose does this frequently by putting in Caption Humor that can only be read clearly if the video is paused.
- An upside-down paragraph of text appears in a joke in Caddicarus's Putty Squad video, in a book titled, "Mid-80s UK Game Developing Company Naming Theory", which reads:
If you're on a desktop computer or watching this on a tv, you must look fucking ridiculous right now. And what was this all for? Nothing. Why would there be? I'm just about to explain what this silly theory is in my next spoken sentence, so why on Earth would I display it here as well? You've been had. And now I have your head upside down. Looking stupid. Yep. Sorry. There's NOTHING of any relevance here. You can unpause the video, now. Or you can take a break - your head must be very tired. Love youuuuuuuuuuuuu.
- Often done to lampshade the Third Rate Gamer's Stylistic Suck. For example, after delivering a crappy joke, he turns to the camera; a split-second flash reads "This is the part where you're supposed to laugh".
- For a Valentine's Day special on The Periodic Table Of Videos, the cast was asked to contribute chemicals that invoked Valentine's Day to them for use in a perfume. Most went with chemicals that are responsible for smells they like, such as vanillin, but a couple others included chemicals that merely had personal meaning to them. At the end, the director/editor popped up a fake advertisement for the finished perfume, with a footnote at the end.
"Unlikely to be safe for humans"
- Don't Hug Me I'm Scared
- In episode 5, when Duck Guy knocks down the camera trying to escape, you can see Red Guy's head in the microwave, Roy sitting on top of the wall of the set, and a shot of Red Guy just standing as it falls down, when Red Guy has been absent for almost the entire episode.
- In episode 6, during the end of the animated dream sequence, Roy can be seen in a phone booth in the background while Yellow Guy is riding a horse, as well as in a window while Yellow Guy is drowning in oil.