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It Seemed Trivial

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Sticks: This information would have been useful a few years ago!
Michael: You never tell me anything, so how the hell should I know what might be important?

This is when someone knows a fact that would be of great importance to the heroes but never says anything, for the simple reason that that person has no idea the fact is important. A subtrope of Poor Communication Kills, and definitely overlaps with Locked Out of the Loop.

Compare and contrast You Didn't Ask, which is where the person who has the information usually knows its importance as well, but didn't divulge because no one thought to ask them.


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  • In Say It Thrice, Danny, Sam, and Tucker never think to mention to the new girl about the rumors concerning the Ghost With the Most and his missing "Mortal Bride." Likewise, Lydia never thinks to mention she was almost married to a ghost once. Without these minor details, no one can make the connection and realize they are dealing with the same entity. Of course, it makes sense that the topics wouldn't come up when talking to near-strangers.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
    • In Act III, Rason confesses that the Holy Lock was never actually made with the express intent to keep a ghoul in check, let alone one as powerful as Tsukune's, but he doesn't actually make this known to the group until after Tsukune has broken six links on the lock. To be fair, the other angels had repeatedly ensured him that the lock was indestructible either way, but still...
    • In Act IV, Apoch and Astreal were well aware that Apoch's Laser Blade could penetrate Jovian and Jacqueline's force fields, but don't think to mention it to the rest of the gang until the very minute they've split up to save Moka from Hokuto as well as take on Jovian and Jacqueline, and Apoch isn't with either group that's actually fighting Jovian and Jacqueline. While Apoch has the excuse of having been explicitly told by Dark not to say another word about Jovian and Jacqueline's attack, and obediently doing so because she's Dark's Yes-Man, Astreal just offhandedly mentions it while the others are bemoaning the fact that nothing they do can break said force fields, and is genuinely surprised that they thought as such.
  • Radiant Garden Renegades: From the minute Xehanort arrives on Radiant Garden in chapter 4, Kaname, able to sense his darkness and noticing that Kairi is terrified of him, along with Xehanort's Stalker with a Crush behavior toward Rimi, is naturally suspicious of him, but as he doesn't know what to make of it, he doesn't say a word about it to Ansem the Wise until after Ansem reveals that Xehanort has been conducting experiments with Heartless behind his back and writing reports under Ansem's name; he admits that he most likely should have said something before then, but by that point, it's too late.
  • In Grave Mentor, the Ancient Ones own this trope, refraining from telling Michel anything that might be useful when he's on earth trying to help Seira combat the magical catastrophes that are happening. It actually manages to get bad enough towards the end of the story that Michel even asks why no one bothered to tell him a few things.
  • In Gotham Banksy, the apparition of Batman-hate graffiti garners mere amusement from Oracle and Batgirl, while the police doesn't even bother with pursuing the vandal — because when you live in Gotham, the crime of spray-painting on the wall is as negligible as jaywalking. Which let Jason Todd fly under the radar for quite a while, until the Bat Clan realizes there's more to the paintings than expected.
  • In New Hope University: Major In Murder, Rodrigo witnesses the first murder in the third chapter (the culprit being the second victim), and, after some prodding, reveals everything he knows, save for one detail- that the culprit was crying over his victim. This bit of information is of no real importance when it comes to solving the second murder, but it later becomes relevant when it turns out in the final trial that the first victim of the third case was the initial mastermind, and the second victim, who realized that fact, killed her.
  • One of the Bleach (S) Abridged movies brings this up. When Ichigo is angry at Rukia for not telling him about their latest enemy until they arrived, he demands that she tell him everything that Soul Society is doing. Rukia sarcastically agrees, and shoots back by telling him about an irrelevant uprising that Soul Society is fighting on the other side of the planet. Ichigo asks what she's talking about, and Rukia points out that most of the information she withholds is irrelevant.
  • Alex Mercer in A Dead World acquired all sorts of abilities from his Cannibalism Superpower. After he brings up his disguise ability to his companions, Cain asks why he never told them, and Alex points out that his full skillset would take hours to outline. Cain persists, and he brings up his expertise with musical instruments.

    Film — Animation 
  • Coco: Imelda, in life, gave her husband a white skull guitar and knew that her husband was a composer. However, her ban on music after Héctor's disappearance blinds her and everyone in the Rivera family to the fact that Ernesto is now using both the guitar and Héctor's songs, which would otherwise have made it very clear Ernesto had something to do with Héctor's fate.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Legally Blonde, the defense team in the Brooke Windham case is so focused on Chutney Windham's actions immediately before the events of her father's murder that they don't bother to ask what she was doing earlier on the fatal day. When Elle finally brings it up during a cross-examination, Chutney casually mentions that she had gotten a perm that morning—which invalidates her alibi of being in the shower at the time of the murder, and eventually leads her to confess to the crime on the stand.
  • In The Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya can be forgiven for not realizing that a wheelbarrow might turn out to be of significance:
    Westley: What are our liabilities?
    Inigo: There is but one working castle gate, and . . . and it is guarded by 60 men.
    Westley: And our assets?
    Inigo: Your brains, Fezzik's strength, my steel.
    Westley: Impossible. If I had a month to plan, maybe I could come up with something, but this? [. . .] I mean, if we only had a wheelbarrow, that would be something.
    Inigo: Where did we put that wheelbarrow the albino had?
    Fezzik: Over the albino, I think.
    Westley: Well, why didn't you list that among our assets in the first place?
  • A variation in Star Trek Into Darkness:
    Spock: The admiral's daughter did express interest in the torpedoes, and she is a weapons specialist.
    Kirk: What admiral's daughter?
    Spock: Carol Marcus, your new science officer, concealed her identity to board the ship.
    Kirk: When were you going to tell me that?
    Spock: When it became relevant, as it just did.

  • In the Dante Valentine series, Danny is forever begging Japhrimel to tell her things. He doesn't until it comes up in battle. When Danny asks why he didn't tell her sooner, he shrugs it off answering, "I did not want to trouble you with something so trivial." He abuses this excuse to the point Dante is often ready to scream.
  • Discworld: Samuel Vimes has a moment or two of this in every book he stars in, but Feet of Clay and Thud! probably have the most.
  • Inverted in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Sirius considered the fact that he and Harry are close to be trivial—or, perhaps, didn't have the patience to deal with his irritating House Elf Kreacher knowing the information. When he yells "GET OUT!" to Kreacher at one point, the House Elf obeys him—by "getting out" of the house and going to Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix in turn tells Voldemort. Sirius has forbidden Kreacher from revealing the secrets of the Order of the Phoenix, but never thought to tell him not to reveal that he's become a Parental Substitute to Harry, which Voldemort can use to lure Harry into a trap.
  • The crucial clue that Hercule Poirot needs to solve the mystery is usually something like this. It's lampshaded in The ABC Murders, when he summons the families of all of the victims precisely for the purpose of talking about the trivial things surrounding the murders, in hopes that there will be some small detail that connects all of them. There is, but it turns out to be a Red Herring.
    • This was true of Miss Marple mysteries as well, though Christie would usually lampshade and justify the trope. For example, in The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side, the vital information turned out to be the initial victim's having German measles when she met the killer on a previous occasion. Nearly everyone who relayed the story either didn't bother paying attention to the exact diagnosis or, in the killer's husband's case, lied to cover it up. It isn't until Miss Marple herself gets a full, accurate report that she's able to piece together the puzzle.
    • In another Miss Marple short story, the killer turns out to be a woman disguised as a chambermaid; the person deliberately invoked this trope because she knew that people wouldn't bother to bring up a chambermaid entering a hotel room, as it seems so unimportant.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: A combination of such events culminates in the introduction of one of the antagonists from later in the story. After landing the job of a deceased previous antagonist, Rozemyne finds a bunch of old letters in her predecessor's office, including some that she assumes to be a secret Long-Distance Relationship correspondence. Out of a misguided sense of respecting the privacy of both sides, she doesn't include the assumed love letters when she hands over her predecessor's correspondence to her mentor Ferdinand so he can sort through it. Later, she gets a letter from her predecessor's assumed lover and announces the death on a provided answer sheet that promptly turns out to be imbued with the setting's Instant Messenger Pigeon spell. After that, she double-checks with Ferdinand to make sure there is no gag order on her predecessor's death while not saying anything that would make Ferdinand realize that the assumed lover isn't just a random acquaintance of the deceased who can be told of the death with no issue. It later turns out that Rozemyne's predecessor had a cherished female relative who was sent to another duchy for an Arranged Marriage; Rozemyne's adult allies simply never got around to telling her of the woman's existence or the fact that they needed to be careful about the circumstances in which she learned about the death.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Columbo episode called "Lady In Waiting" has a wealthy woman kill her brother and make it look like she accidentally mistook him for a burglar after he tripped the alarm system. Her fiancé came to the house unexpectedly as her setup was unfolding. Only later did he realize (with Columbo's help) that he heard the three fatal shots first, then heard the alarm sound.
  • Doctor Who: "The Sontaran Stratagem" has a villainous example: Luke Rattigan gets a phone call from UNIT telling him that the Doctor is coming to see him. Luke, having never heard of him, assumes that "doctor" is only his title. So, when General Staal asks him who the Doctor is, during a confrontation, Luke responds with "He didn't give his name", thus preventing Staal from realizing exactly whom he just met until after the Doctor and UNIT private Ross have fled the scene and they're trying to track them down.
    Luke: That doctor, he was in a UNIT jeep.
    Staal: ...You said you didn't know his name.
    Luke: I don't, he just said "doctor".
  • In the Farscape season one episode "I, E.T.", the crew is desperately searching for an anesthesia to use on Moya located somewhere on an alien planet, only to find out at the eleventh hour from a befriended local that it's a common spice they use in their food.
  • In the Gilligan's Island episode "V is for Vitamins", the Professor is concerned about the lack of vitamin C in the castaways' diets and they try to grow oranges, even though the island has the wrong climate. It turns out that the island is ripe with grapefruit and lemons, which Gilligan knew about but didn't say anything because he didn't know that those fruit had vitamin C in them.
  • It seems like in House every other episode or so features this — the key turns out to be something that the patient would have gladly divulged (especially as an alternative to the humiliating but irrelevant parts of his life that they unearth while looking for the clue), but couldn't see that it would possibly be relevant.
    • In the very first episode, the key to the diagnosis (tapeworms in the brain... long story) turns out to be ham in the patient's fridge, which Foreman neglects to mention at first because it's not unusual in the slightest.
    • In one episode, a man who'd been suffering for years was so desperate for a diagnosis that he took the clinic hostage at gunpoint to force House to diagnose him. In the end, the key to his diagnosis was mentioning that he'd once been to Florida. He'd repeatedly claimed that he'd never been to the tropics, not realizing that Florida counted.
  • In an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Elliot is accused of murdering a suspect in custody when the man's spleen is found lacerated in an autopsy. When ME Warner, who performed the autopsy, goes to him to apologize for having to implicate him in the man's death, Elliot is horrified at his own actions and says he never meant for anyone to die; he tried to save the man. How? By performing CPR. Which Warner immediately realizes could have caused the injury, meaning his cause of death was something else. She didn't know he'd done it, and none of the people who had witnessed it realized it was relevant at all, let alone the difference between Elliot going free or being charged with murder.

    Video Games 
  • This trope is pulled in spades in the Ace Attorney series, infuriating the player character to no end. Witnesses will sometimes not bother to tell the player a vital piece of information or give some important evidence that could help clear their name or solve the case because they feel the item/information has no bearings on the current situation.
    • A particularly notable example occurs in Justice For All when Miles Edgeworth completely loses his composure in the middle of court over a playing card that Adrian Andrews has been absentmindedly toying with. She is genuinely confused when he demands to know where she got it and why she didn't tell anyone about it. Turns out it's the calling card of an infamous assassin, which dramatically changes the case.
    • Interestingly, this trope ends up saving Ron deLite in Trials and Tribulations. during his murder trial, he offhandedly remarks that he only survived being hit in the head at KB Security because he happened to have gone to the meeting while wearing his Mask☆DeMasque costume, which everyone immediately claims is a significant detail he should have brought up sooner. However, by only revealing it then, it meant that no one outside that courtroom could know about it. So when Luke Atmey (who was in a different trial at the time) claims Ron had to be the killer since the scene had no fingerprints and his costume included gloves, Phoenix has him dead to rights.
  • This trope is Played for Laughs in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Big Bad Yuga kidnaps the Seven Sages of Hyrule and turns them into paintings for an evil ritual that resurrects Ganon. Link is then tasked with rescuing the Sages. One of them, a miner named Rosso, remarks—after he's been freed—that he's known that he is a Sage for years, but didn't think it was important enough to tell anyone. It's also downplayed in that even if the heroes had known about Rosso's Sagehood, there was little they could to do to protect him from Yuga, as the villain possesses teleportation powers that allow him to reach anywhere in the world.
  • Persona 4: Yukiko's knowledge that Adachi was at the inn spending a lot of time with Ms. Yamano just before she died is the first non-circumstantial piece of evidence the group has towards finding out his identity as the true Killer, but she doesn't make this known unless the player casts suspicion on Adachi in the first place... at the very end of the game. To be fair, however, none of them had actually thought to suspect Adachi of being the killer before that point, especially since they'd only recently learned that Namatame, despite kidnapping the party members, wasn't the killer.
  • At the end of Planescape: Torment, it's revealed that Morte and Dak'kon knew from the very beginning where The Very Definitely Final Dungeon was and how to get there, but never spoke up because they didn't know why it was significant to the Nameless One.
  • In the Tales Series:
    • Tales of the Abyss:
      • Jade deduced almost immediately that the "Luke" he was traveling with was actually a replica of the real Luke. Jade didn't tell because doing so would have resulted in massive amounts of existential angst on replica!Luke's part with no apparent beneficial trade-off. In hindsight, that wasn't the best decision. Revealing the truth would have stopped the Big Bad's manipulations, even if Jade wasn't aware of them.
      • Luke does this later on in the last third of the game when he neglects to tell the rest of the party the local Deity had contacted him, warning him that the Big Bad had captured it. This one can be chalked up to simple ignorance, as Luke had no idea what the message meant; Lorelei had referred to the Big Bad as "One who would seek glory," which is what the villain's name means in Ancient Ispanian, a subject that Luke had never been taught.
    • In Tales of Vesperia, Judith knew the truth about the blastia and how they were affecting the planet. Did she share any of this information? No. And when Rita and the others asks, "why didn't you say anything?" Judith's response (as seen during one of the private scenes between her and Rita) amounts to, "it didn't seem important at the time."

  • In Galaxion Patty gets bitten by an alien bug. The team worries a bit, but soon lets it go in favour of more pressing concerns, but the fever she develops after a while is actually plot-important. (And how!)
  • Antimony Carver, from Gunnerkrigg Court. At the point of Chapter 33, she had enough information about Jeanne, one of the Court's founders, whose information was deliberately hidden or destroyed. This is even lampshaded at some point in Chapter 23 by Jones:
    "A lot of information about the origin of the Court has been lost or, in my opinion, deliberately hidden. If you have somehow come across information from that time, it could provide valuable insight. (...) However, such information is useless until properly investigated. When you feel you have uncovered the whole story, please, tell me about it."
  • In S.S.D.D., Michael is the only member of a group trying to prevent The Oracle from gaining control who is not from the Bad Future in which it has done so. He is also the only one knows that British Intelligence created something called the Echelon Plug-in (he was given a copy of it). Two problems. First, he's the group's Butt-Monkey, so nobody else tells him anything, which means he has no idea what the Oracle is, never mind that it exists (he actually has to be told that the "Old Man" and The Oracle are the same thing). Second, he's the group's Butt-Monkey, so nobody listens to him, which means the others have no idea what The Echelon Plug-in is, never mind that it exists. When they finally tell Michael about Oracle, Michael makes an offhanded comparison of the two programs and the others realize that the Oracle and Echelon Plug-in are one and the same. In other words, the Oracle already exists in Michael's time, which explains a lot. The page quote comes from this.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Grand Finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender: After Zuko attacks Aang in anger for taking a break from training, the rest of the Gaang explains that they decided to push their timeline of defeating the Fire Lord to after the Comet of Doom, because they didn't think that a one-day power-up would do much to change the status quo of the hundred year long war they were looking to end. If they had bothered to tell Zuko this much earlier, he would have alerted them that the Fire Lord planned to use the power-up to commit genocide on the Earth Kingdom. As for why he didn't tell them this vital information, he felt they didn't need the added motivation, assuming they were going to battle him by then anyway.
  • Played for Laughs in the South Park episode "The Big Fix" where it's revealed that Token Black's name is actually Tolkien. When Stan goes to his friends with this newfound knowledge, it's revealed that everyone in South Park knew this "obvious" truth except him as he desperately tries to avoid being Mistaken for Racist.

    Real Life 
  • In the leadup to The Gulf War, the U.S. government directed its ambassador to Iraq to deliver a message to Saddam Hussein regarding the Iraq-Kuwait dispute. The message was to include conciliatory statements as well as some warnings to deter Saddam from using force to resolve the issue. The ambassador, not realizing that Saddam intended to take all of Kuwait, delivered the conciliatory part of her message, but omitted the warnings, leading Saddam to believe that he had American backing to invade Kuwait. Afterward, Conspiracy Theorists would use the ambassador's conciliatory message to conclude that Iraq had been intentionally set up to give the U.S. a pretext for war.


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That's How Exposition Works

Exposition Lewis explains why he never explained to Hayley that she and Steve have a destiny to save the multiverse sooner is because it wasn't pertinent information and he only explains exposition when it's relevant.

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Main / ItSeemedTrivial

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