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Implied Trope

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They didn't show it happening — nowhere in the dialogue or narration was it explicitly stated that it happened — but the evidence that it did happen (though indirect) is pretty clear just the same.

Maybe it happened before the story proper, in the backstory. Maybe it happened in the interim between sequels (or even scenes). Maybe it was going on in the background just out of the audience's sight.


An Implied Trope is where the author leaves a trail of clues to hint that a trope happened without actually showing it; the clues are taken from Subtext. This can be done by showing the build up to a trope, by showing the after-effects, or both. It is something between playing a trope straight and subverting it. As with a Subverted Trope, an Implied Trope assumes the audience is familiar enough with the trope that they'll be able to understand what's being suggested, but rather than defying those expectations, the work uses them to create the same effect as the trope while leaving the details up to the audience's imagination.

However, an Implied Trope can create an effect akin to dominoes. If A implies B, then C implies D, which implies E, which implies F, which... Yeah. Tropers can sometimes take things too far and infer more details than they should.


When something is implied because it's inappropriate, that's Getting Crap Past the Radar. When multiple tropes can be inferred, but they can't all have happened together, you have an Ambiguous Situation. Not to be confused with an Invoked Trope.


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  • David: The only thing Michelangelo sculpted here is David himself, but the king's ready weapon and decisive stare pretty clearly indicate the presence of The Antagonist, the mighty Goliath, off on the horizon of David's view.


     Fan Fic  


  • But You Were There, and You, and You in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010). We know that Alice dismisses her first visit to Wonderland as a dream. At the garden party, she meets an old woman who has traits of the Red Queen, and twins (the Chataway sisters) who behave like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
  • The Avengers implies that Black Widow deliberately let herself get captured by the Russian officer early in the film in order to trick him into confessing what he was intending to do before she was forced to abort the operation thanks in part to Loki's arrival.
  • Driving into a Truck is implied to have happened in The Cannonball Run. When the police set up a roadblock specifically to catch and arrest the Cannonballers, JJ spots a semi with an empty flatbed. Cut to a shot of the semi & flatbed with a suspiciously shaped object — which looks like JJ and Victor's car — under a tarp. They sneak by the roadblock under there.
  • The Dark Knight Saga implies that it was Ra's Al Ghul's Body Double who died, not him.
    • Taking You with Me is implied when Gambol attempts to have The Joker killed before settling on a bounty.
    • It's implied that Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb's answer to people making death threats is Drinking on Duty.
    • Detective Gerard Stephens is implied to be The Lancer for Gordon.
    • Detective John Blake is implied to go on to be a Vigilante Man, due to his frustrations with police procedure throughout the film.
    • Victor Zsasz is implied to be a Serial Killer, since there's so many scars on his body, and if you know about his comic book origin...
    • The Chechen is implied to have been fed to his own dogs.
    • Jen is implied to be a Hooker with a Heart of Gold.
    • In The Dark Knight Rises, Heroic Sacrifice is implied with the nuclear flash, mushroom cloud, and the characters mourning at Bruce's grave. Later subverted.
  • Population Control is implied in Demolition Man, in which pregnancy is illegal without a license, and fluids are cleaned and transferred by authorized medical personnel.
  • Unreliable Narrator in Detour. Main character Al Roberts describes a series of events where a person dies, and Roberts ends up hiding the body and taking their belongings and identity for perfectly innocent reasons. The narration points out that no one would ever believe it.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse in Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dynamite. John kills his former best friend Nolan after the latter betrays him, but a later flashback shows the two of them kissing the same woman, leaving the true motivation behind John's actions ambiguous.
  • Punch-Clock Villain is implied to be common in the Get Smart movie.
  • Brother–Sister Incest in Gladiator, with Commodus quite clearly lusting after Lucilla (though he is never shown to act upon those impulses).
  • Glove Snap is implied in a scene in Kung Pow! Enter the Fist:
    Master Tang: Prepare... the long rubber glove. (sound of latex snapping) Eeny... meeny... miney... moe... I wonder where... my glove will go...
  • Men in Black implies that Frank the Pug (then known as Agent Eff) attempted a Groin Attack when he was laughed at by a fellow agent.
    • The sequel implies that Agent K is Laura/The Light of Zartha's birth-father.
  • Murder in the First's closing narration says Henry Young was found dead in his cell with a note saying he was free, indicating he had killed himself to escape.
  • Safety Not Guaranteed implies You Already Changed the Past. Mark says he's going back in time to save his first girlfriend from being killed by a drunk driver. Except that she's alive, they were never together, and he was the driver.
  • Heroic Suicide in The Thing (1982). Fuchs is found as a charred corpse. There was no reason for the Thing to kill him off instead of assimilating him, so it's safe to assume that he did it to himself in order to avoid being assimilated and thus being used to assimilate the rest.


     Live Action Television  

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. implies that Coulson Came Back Wrong.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame in Game of Thrones: Jorah Mormont explains to the exiled former prince Viserys that the death sentence he fled was for selling poachers to a slaver, something that's left Jorah with a lasting sense of shame. Viserys replies that under his reign Jorah wouldn't be punished for "such nonsense." Jorah's expression implies that he'd rather face the punishment than live in the kingdom Viserys would build.
  • Get Smart implies that Dalip, The Brute working for KAOS, has a sister-in-law who's constantly undermining his relationship with his wife and trying to break them up, which causes him endless grief at home.
  • In Grimm, Monroe is implied to be atoning for his previous Big Bad Wolf days.
    • Magical Security Cam is implied in the episode 'Beeware' when Nick asks if they can "do anything" (answer: "no, the camera's stationary") with recorded footage of a flash mob murder.
    • Retired Monster is implied with many of the Wesen. In the second episode, when one of the Jägerbärs is told that his family is performing the traditional manhood ritual (which involves hunting down and killing someone), the first words out of his mouth are, "What? No one does that anymore." It also explains why Blutbaden, whose hungry urges are triggered by the color red, haven't eaten everyone. For other Wesen like Spinnetods, they're rare enough that either they're retired like Charlotte or dead because of the particular demands of their biology aren't compatible with a normal life. There's even a Monsters Anonymous program that Monroe participated in.
  • Scrubs: In "My Princess", Dr. Cox tells about his day at the hospital to his son in the form of a bedtime story. In the story, a maiden being terrorized by a monster is saved in time and lives Happily Ever After, while in reality, it's a fatal disease and JD and Elliot are able to diagnose the patient. When Jordan asks if the story really had a happy ending, he replies "that's the way I'm telling it", implying that she didn't survive.
  • In the series finale of Seinfeld, Susan's parents are seen purchasing a handgun during the trial, implying that they intend to carry out a Vigilante Execution on George as retribution for Susan's death if the gang is found not guilty.

     Tabletop Games  

  • An Archaeological Arms Race is implied in Eberron. Several countries are gearing up for war and there are a great deal of powerful magical artifacts to uncover. Whether the trope is played straight is up to the DM, of course.

     Video Games  

     Web Comics  

     Web Video  

     Western Animation  

Alternative Title(s): Implied, Hinted At