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It's a Long Story
aka: Long Story

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A long story of alien overlords, Death Star expies, stubborn angels and Superdickery, Kara

Katniss: Now you.
Boudicca: It's a long story.
Katniss: It'll be a long night.

This is a phrase typically used when a character has finished an adventure isolated from the others. Since it is redundant to have them explain the events we just saw ourselves, the typical move to have the character answer the others' questions of what happened is with, "It's a long story" with the assumption that they tell it to them later, off-screen.

A variation can be used when the writers need to create a sense of mystery or suspicion about the recent off-screen past of a character. He will reappear or be found/rescued and when questioned by his compatriots will use this line and refuse to elaborate until the court-martial. "It's complicated" works the same way when it's used like this.

Occasionally subverted / parodied when one character says this in response to being questioned as to what is going on, only for another character involved to sum everything up in one sentence, thus proving that it's not actually that long at all.

Another subversion is for the person on the receiving end of the story to be not open to stalling, to say "I have time."

This phrase can also be used as a substitute for the explanation of a Noodle Incident.

Compare It Makes Sense in Context where this trope is used but not invoked, or To Make a Long Story Short, where the events are quickly recapped. Frequently overlaps (often simultaneously) with No Time to Explain, Don't Ask, You Do NOT Want To Know.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in Tintin: in Tintin: Land of Black Gold, Haddock meets Tintin at the end, and is very adamant in his repeated attempts to explain what happened to him offscreen ("It's quite simple - and, at the same time, rather complicated..."), only to be interrupted every time. Eventually, he gives up, Breaking the Fourth Wall to tell the reader "you'll never know!" The real reason for this was that that Land of Black Gold was an adaptation of a story concept Herge developed before he invented the Haddock character.
  • In the introduction of Empowered, why the lily-white Ninjette has a Japanese name.
  • In Captain America #282, when asked how he escaped, Captain America tells Nomad it's a long story. A really short explanation comes soon.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: When introducing himself to Fulcrum, Misfire states the reason behind his name is a long story, before immediately stating that it actually isn't, but rather involves a "misunderstanding" involving a machine gun and a dozen dead Decepticons.
  • Superman:
    • War World: When Supergirl comes around after her "trip", she asks her cousin what happened to her.
      Superman: That, as they say, is a long story!
      Supergirl: So? Tell me about it! I've got all the time in the universe!
    • In Kryptonite Nevermore, Lois Lane asks Superman why he crash-landed behind her with strength enough to make a crater and why he seems so tired.
      Lois: S-Superman... What's wrong with you?
      Superman: Never mind — long story, Lois!
    • "The Super-Steed of Steel": When Supergirl asks Comet the Super-Horse where he came from, Comet prefaces his tale (involving centaurs, witches, sorcerers, magic potions and a many-millenia-long banishment) with "It's a long story!"
  • All-New Ultimates: When the team fights Diamondback, she doesn't understand how there's a new Spider-Man. Miles simply says that it's a long story.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla MonsterVerse fanfiction, Dr. Chen sums up the history of Gnosticism this way when explaining the lore surrounding the title characters' namesake.
  • A Crown of Stars: In chapter 27 Hikari and Touji meet Asuka and Shinji again. Since they had gone through a weird Mind Screw for unknown reasons to them, and their friends were suddenly several years older, Hikari asked what happened to them. Rayana prefaced her explanation with "It is a long story. Short version for now."
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero after Kyon returns to the clubroom with a little cut in the head, a faint line of blood trickling down one cheek:
    Haruhi: What happened?
    Tsuruya: You're still bleeding? But I put a bandage on that for you yesterday!
    Kyon: Long story.
  • A Game of Cat and Cat: "Another Chapter of Just Talking": Kazuya says that "It's a long story." when asked about how he's qualified to not be under the Masquerade, but thankfully, he has friends who know more about his questioner so his friends can give a summary that would satisfy the query.
  • Luminosity: Bella (now a vampire) is called in to help the werewolf pack she activated earlier. When she gets there, she finds the pack in an uproar.
    Bella: So... What's all this, then?
    Rachel: [stiffly] It's a very, very long story.
    Bella: I'm immortal.
  • This is a running gag in the Multi Crossover The League of Interdimensional Heroes.
  • In Harry Potter and the Mystic Force, this repeatedly happens with the Rangers telling Harry some aspect of their lives which surprises him. Lampshaded by Harry himself in Chapter 15:
    Harry: Why is everything a long story with you lot? Just once, I want to hear a short story, a poem, a limerick even!
  • In Ultimate DCU Headverse, Supergirl tells Batwoman she can ask Oracle the Reddner Watch if she needs to get in touch with her. When Kate asks Babs the watch, she finds out Linda has it. Kate asks her blonde friend why she has that watch, and Linda replies "It's a long story". Kate asks for the summarized version, but Linda's explanation is so vague that Kate asks for the long story.
    "So... what's with the watch?" I ask.
    "It's a long story." Linda puts the other chair back and sits across from me.
    "I'll take the cliff notes version."
    Linda chuckles then shifts in her seat. "My ex got it from Star Labs. He used it to get in contact with someone. Later on, he gave the watch to that someone, who gave the watch to someone else, who gave the watch to me for safe keeping."
    "Forget it, I want the long version."
  • I Am NOT Going Through Puberty Again!: Sasuke's explanation to Itachi as to how he has an Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan. Crosses over into Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    Sasuke: It's a long story. Very, very long. Enough to fill seven hundred chapters of a weekly shounen manga, over four hundred episodes of a half-hour anime, several feature length movies, and a dozen or so OVAs of varying quality.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Noir describes his arrival along with Peni and Spider-Ham as this:
    Noir: Well, it's kind of a long story
    (quickened flashback to the Reality Bleed event, cutting to them thrown against a billboard)
    Noir: Maybe not that long.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Forgotten Friendship, the whole school has four movies plus several shorts and specials worth of Sunset Shimmer's Character Development erased from their memories. When Trixie is starting to believe it, but still dubious, this exchange happens:
    Trixie: And even though we all know you're the Biggest Meanie, you're saying you're not mean anymore?
    Sunset Shimmer: It's complicated.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Airplane!, Stryker is about to unfold his tale of woe to a fellow passenger, who now regrets asking him if he's okay.
  • In Bride of Chucky, Chucky and Tiffany are asked by Jesse and Jade how they became dolls.
    Tiffany: It's a long story.
    Chucky: Let me put it this way: if this were a movie, it would take three or four sequels to do it justice.
  • Spoofed in Dirty Work:
    Kathy: Wait, you're brothers?
    Mitch: Yeah, it's a long story.
    Sam: My dad boned his mom.
    Mitch: Okay, it's a short story.
  • Near the beginning of the German movie Im Juli, Daniel attempts to use this as an excuse not to tell the guy he's hitchhiking what happened. The guy then points out they're going to be in a very long car trip anyway, so he might as well start. Then we go to the actual plot of the movie.
  • At the end of The League of Gentlemen the police have turned up to arrest Lt. Colonel Hyde. His Motor Mouth neighbour asks what's going on. Hyde replies that it's a long story "and you're going to bore people to death with it."
  • Played uncomfortably straight in the appropriately-titled Paulie as he is talking to the janitor.
    Paulie: I'm warning you, it's a long story.
    Janitor: I'm Russian. I like long stories.
    Paulie: Okay, Chekhov, sit down.
  • Over the course of three movies, John Rambo fought in Vietnam, then got imprisoned for attacking policemen in a small Northwestern town, got re-recruited by the Army and got sent back into 'Nam to rescue POWs, then went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets alongside the mujahideen. Rambo IV found him captaining a taxi boat in Thailand, leading to this exchange:
    Sarah: Where are you from?
    John Rambo: Bowie, Arizona.
    Sarah: Why'd you leave?
    John Rambo: I got drafted in 'Nam.
    Sarah: And you just stayed?
    John Rambo: ...It's complicated.
  • In Star Trek: Generations, Geordi and Data go to Ten Forward after the former installs the emotion chip in the latter. Data tries Guinan's latest syntheholic beverage and makes a face. She asks him what he thinks of it, and he says he's not sure because he doesn't recognize the emotion.
    Guinan: Emotions?
    Geordi: I'll explain later.
  • From Uncle Buck:
    Miles: Are you married?
    Buck: No.
    Miles: Why not?
    Buck: It's a long story.
    Miles: Do you have any kids?
    Buck: No.
    Miles: Why not?
    Buck: It's an even longer story.
  • From The Wicker Man (1973), "Do sit down, Sergeant. Shocks are so much better absorbed with the knees bent."
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League. Aquaman is suspicious of the connection between Cyborg and the Mother Box. Cyborg says it's a long story, but when Aquaman coldly insists, Cyborg uses his technology to present a virtual reality exposition of his Origin Story.

  • Goodgulf in Bored of the Rings: "Well, once out of the pit..." (chapter ends). Later, when Eorache asks how he escaped: '"It is a long tale, said Goodgulf, taking a deep breath. "Then save it," interrupted Eorache.'
  • The protagonist of The Forever War gets tired of having to explain why he's Younger Than They Look (due to Time Dilation from traveling faster than light) and eventually just resorts to this trope.
  • In the Elephant & Piggie book I Broke My Trunk!, Piggie asks Gerald how he broke his trunk and he replies, "It is a long story," then explains that he balanced more and more animals on his trunk — which didn't actually break his trunk, but him tripping in his eagerness to find Piggie and tell her what happened did. Piggie loves this story so much that she begins to run out to tell others about it... only to trip, break her snout, and reply to someone else asking her about her broken snout, "It is a long story..."
  • Parodied as a Running Gag in Kings of the Wyld. Clay Cooper tries repeatedly to answer questions with this trope, just to be immediatly followed by someone else explaining everything within a single sentence.
  • Played straight in The Waste Lands when Roland's ka-tet want to know his Back Story, including what happened to his last companions and how he came to seek the Dark Tower in the first place. He does in fact tell most of this story in the next novel.
    "You have the right to know all those things, I suppose, and I'll tell them to you... but not now. It's a very long story. I never expected to tell it to anyone, and I'll only tell it once."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Averted in "I Will Remember You":
      Angel: It's complicated how this all happened, Buffy, you know? It's kind of a long story.
      Buffy: Your new sidekick had a vision, I was in it, you came to Sunnydale?
      Angel: Okay, maybe not that long.
    • In the episode "Fredless", Wesley has to bring the Burkles up to speed whilst Angel is fighting a big demon bug.
      Wesley: Angel's a vampire. He has a soul, but it's a long story. I'll tell you about it if we don't end up dying.
  • Arrow:
    • Felicity Smoak gives this trope when trying to warn Detective Quentin Lance that he's been targeted by a mysterious and ancient organization called the League of Assassins. This hardly convinces Quentin he should take the warning seriously.
    • Ray Palmer quotes this verbatim as to how exactly he's a minister. In another episode when Felicity gives this trope, he quips, "Why am I under the impression that you have a lot of stories, all of which are long?"
    • Averted when Felicity is tearing into Oliver Queen and John Diggle for failing to resolve their differences and work together.
      Diggle: Sorry I couldn't help out. It's a long story.
      Felicity: Oh, my God, it is not a long story. It is the shortest story in history. Two guys go take on criminals without asking for back-up and nearly get killed in the process!
    • Felicity explains to Thea Queen that her boyfriend Roy Harper is alive because Team Arrow faked his death. "It's a long story, as most faked death stories are..."
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Inverted in "The Puppet Show".
      Buffy: [Dummies] give me the wig. Ever since I was little.
      Willow: What happened?
      Buffy: I saw a dummy. It gave me the wig. There... really wasn't a story there.
    • When Oz learns about the town's true nature in "Surprise":
      Oz: Did anybody just see that guy turn to dust?
      Xander: Vampires are real. There's a lot in Sunnydale. Willow will fill you in.
      Willow: [preparing to give a long story] I know it's a lot to take in at first.
      Oz: Actually, it explains a lot.
    • Spoofed (what else?) in "Faith, Hope, and Trick" when Oz hesitantly wants to know Faith's stance on lycanthropes:
      Willow: Oz is a werewolf.
      Buffy: It's a long story.
      Oz: I got bit.
      Buffy: Apparently not that long.
    • And later in the same season, in "Homecoming":
      Xander: (sees Buffy and Cordelia beat-up and disheveled) Oh, God, what'd you do to each other?
      Buffy: Long story.
      Cordelia: Got hunted.
      Buffy: Apparently not that long.
    • And then during the final season.
      Giles: I told you my concerns when you recklessly chose to remove the chip from his head.
      Robin: Wait, sorry — chip?
      Giles: Well, uh, it's a... long story.
      Buffy: The military put a chip in Spike's head so he couldn't hurt anyone.
      Giles: And that would be the abridged version.
    • Season 9: "It's a medium-long story."
  • Doctor Who:
    • "I'll explain later" is a Running Gag in the spoof The Curse of Fatal Death. The early Doctors would use this back when they had more companions, as there was no point explaining something that the audience had already seen, but the companion hadn't because they had been Trapped by Mountain Lions.
    • "The Time of Angels": The Doctor about his Time-Travel Romance with River Song: "It's a long story and I don't know most of it."
    • "The Big Bang": Amy says this to her younger self, who's just opened the Pandorica to find her adult self inside. Adult Amy then sees a timeline on the museum wall showing she's been stuck inside the Pandorica for almost 2000 years, and quips that the story is a lot longer than she thought.
    • "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe": Madge Arwell tells her son to let dad know she's found a spaceman in a field (the Doctor) but he's injured and can't get his helmet off, so she has to take him to find a police telephone box. When dad asks where mum is, her son wisely replies, "Out."
    • "The Crimson Horror": The Doctor only shows up halfway through the adventure (which is told from the view of the Paternoster Gang). He gives this trope, then adds, "I'll keep it short." Cue How We Got Here kinetoscope movie. However, it's then played straight because the Doctor doesn't have an explanation for the Clara who's his current companion being the same woman the Paternoster Gang saw get killed in "The Snowmen".
    • "Flatline": Clara responds with this trope after her boyfriend Danny hears her do a Super Window Jump after she's told him she's not doing any more adventures with the Doctor, who notes sarcastically: "And what long story are you going to tell Danny, huh? Or haven't you made it up yet?"
    • "Last Christmas": "Long story" is a catchphrase used by the polar scientists for what the lab is studying and how any of them got there. The Doctor and Clara use it as well. Played for Drama as these are all details that they can't provide because the lab doesn't exist. They're all trapped in a Dying Dream.
    • In "The Woman Who Fell to Earth", the Doctor gives this to explain how she just smashed though a train roof. She might have mentioned it was a long fall too.
    • In "Arachnids in the UK", Yasmin Khan's mother demands to know how the Doctor knows her daughter.
      Yaz: Oh, not now.
      Najia: Yes, now! It's not a difficult question.
      The Doctor: It is a bit of a long answer.
      Najia: Well, I've got time.
      The Doctor: But I haven't. Not right now.
    • In "Village of the Angels", several people get thrown back in time and it looks like they'll end up taking The Slow Path to where they came from. When one of them demands an explanation Dan Lewis quips, "Mate, it's a long story. Unfortunately, you've got enough time to hear it."
  • Played with somewhat in Eureka when Sheriff Carter is stuck in a time-loop, but every time the loop resets the energy effect injures him. At first it's minor, but after one of the later resets he comes out of his bathroom covered in cuts and scratches and tells his daughter it's a long story and he'll explain later.
  • Farscape:
    • In "Out of Their Minds", Aeryn-in-John's-body does this, realising the futility of explaining the "Freaky Friday" Flip to Zhaan, who's been Locked Out of the Loop for the entire episode.
    • And this one:
      Chiana: What happened to you guys? Why... why didn't you call in?
      D'Argo: Well, the restaurant, it, uh, sort of burned down — I don't want to talk about it, it's a long story.
    • In "Unrealized Reality", John Crichton responds this way when the Sufficiently Advanced Alien he dubs "Einstein" asks Crichton how he got his knowledge of wormholes. Suddenly Crichton experiences a flashback montage as Einstein examines his memories for a more informative answer.
  • The scene in the Firefly episode "Heart of Gold" when Nandi kisses Mal, doubling as a Call-Back to "Our Mrs. Reynolds":
    [short kiss]
    Nandi: What is it?
    Mal: Just waitin' to see if I pass out. Long story.
  • This is a recurring phrase in ''Forever'; Henry says it both in the pilot and in the final episode, and it gets several uses or references in between. When Jo confronts Henry with a photo of Henry, Abigail, and a baby Abraham, and asks for an explanation, this is how Henry's reply starts.
  • Forever Knight: At the end of an Amnesia Episode, Nick Knight goes to his maker LaCroix to get filled in on his Back Story. LaCroix says it's a long, long, story, but they have all day to talk about it.
  • In The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will's "family" spend the evening with an associate who indulges in unending tedious anecdotes, boring them all. So when Will explains that his recent hijinks are "a long story" they just decide not to probe him on it.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Gendry has been thrown into the dungeons with Lord Davos Seaworth.
      Gendry: So how'd you become a lord?
      Davos: Oh, that's a long story.
      Gendry: [glances around at his empty cell] Better not, then. I'm a bit busy.
    • In Season 7 when Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister meet up for the first time since Season One, naturally this trope comes into play, with Tyrion adding, "...and I was drunk for most of it."
  • Gilmore Girls: In the season one episode "That Damn Donna Reed", Lorelai is highly amused when she sees Rory wearing an apron while housesitting for Babette (during which she's invited Dean over):
    Lorelai: Well, okay, you're 16. You have a whole house to yourself for the evening. I expect that you're going to have your boyfriend over. (starts to laugh) But what is with the apron?
    Rory: It's a long story.
    Lorelai: Did it involve a sharp blow to the head?
  • In an episode of Grey's Anatomy, Arizona and Mark hem and haw about why they're with Callie on her ob/gyn visit, until:
    Callie: [points to Arizona] Lesbian lover. [points to Mark] Baby daddy.
    Dr. Fields: Aaand everyone's a little wigged out.
  • Subverted in Happy Endings; Max puts his typical spin on this trope.
    Max: Dude, we can do that all for no money at all. Welcome to Max World, TM, circle r.
    Brad: Really? Wait. You trademarked and registered Max World?
    Max: It's kind of a long, drawn-out complicated story with a bunch of different parts. Basically, I didn't. Let's go.
  • In the Heroes series finale, Peter rescues Sylar from a nightmare prison inside Sylar's head. When Parkman, who had put Sylar in the prison, demanded how they escaped, the two of them curtly reply that it's a long story.
  • How I Met Your Mother is one whole long story.
  • Sometimes, an episode of Our Miss Brooks will end with Miss Brooks returning home in the evening, to discuss the events of the day with her landlady, Mrs. Davis.
  • Person of Interest: Root has a Running Gag of being involved in various bizarre and unexplained missions she's carrying out for the Machine, so this trope tends to come up. The irony is that Root often doesn't know the full story herself, because that's how the Machine works. In "Nautilus", she's meeting with Finch in her car when there are sudden noises from the trunk.
    Root: Larry! I told you stay calm and I’ll grant you back seat privileges!
    Finch: Are you abducting someone?!
    Root: It’s a long story.
    Finch: You're a flight attendant?
    Root: Just for today. Larry's my pilot.
    Finch: Where are you going?
    Root: [The Machine] hasn't told me yet. I'm hoping somewhere tropical.
  • Red Dwarf: In the extended version of "Ouroboros", as Starbug is under attack, the alternate universe Kristine Kochanski stops and asks where the boys' version of Red Dwarf is. Kryten responds by saying this. Repeatedly. (It had been stolen before the previous season, and they'd given up looking for it.)
  • Functional equivalent: In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Distant Voices", Dr. Julian Bashir awakens from a coma (in which he has had a vivid dream about his crewmates and battling through the station to save his own life) with the words "You will never believe where I've been." DS9 uses it several times, but only rarely plays it straight. Worf in particular uses it more than once — because he doesn't like talking.
  • In the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence", Lieutenant Reed keeps getting into awkward conversations due to getting caught running a black op for Section 31 and being thrown in the brig for it. Since everyone is busy dealing with the Klingons, both he and Captain Archer have no time to explain why he's in the brig to anyone... except when one of the Klingons who attacked the Enterprise gets tossed into the cell next to him. When Reed replies to his inquiry on why he's in the brig with "That's a long story," the Klingon prisoner in turn replies "Entertain me." Reed then manages to give him a minimal-details summary in one line.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • In "Caretaker", Ensign Newbie Harry Kim wants to know why everyone is snubbing Tom Paris.
      Paris: It's a long story, Harry, and I'm tired of telling it. I'm sure someone around here will tell you before long.
    • In "Projections", this line is spoken by the Doctor to Captain Janeway because the events that have happened are all so convoluted. When Janeway does insist on an answer, she quickly loses patience and orders the Doctor thrown in the brig.
    • In "Parturition", Janeway summons Tom Paris and Neelix to be briefed on an away mission, only to find them covered in the results of the food fight they've just had in the mess hall.
      Janeway: Would anyone care to explain?
      Paris: It might be too long to go into right now, Captain.
    • Played straight in "Cold Fire".
      Tanis: What would an Ocampa be doing on an alien starship?
      Kes: It's a long story. But I'd like to know what an Ocampa is doing on an alien space station.
      Tanis: That is also a long story.
    • In "Message in a Bottle", the Doctor is transmitted to a Starfleet ship in the Alpha Quadrant to make contact with the Federation. By this point, it's the height of the Dominion War, but Voyager has been out of the loop for so long that the Doctor has never even heard of the Dominion, so when a fellow EMH mentions the Dominion, he's totally lost. The EMH just tells him it's a long story.
  • Supernatural: In the final scene of "The End", this is all Dean has to say in regards to the episode's events when Sam asks him what made him change his mind about them going separate ways.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Subverted on The Muppet Show after Captain Link is injured on the set of a "Pigs in Space" skit (it's kind of hard to describe...)
    Den Mother: What happened to him?
    Kermit: It's a long story... Actually, it's a short story. He did something dumb.
  • Awesomely spoofed in The Muppet Movie when Fozzie starts to reiterate the whole plot so far to the Electric Mayhem. Kermit decides to save time by letting them read the script.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978), Fit the Eleventh:
    Hurtenflirst: Why do those other two chicks we picked up look exactly like you?
    Lintilla: It's a long story.
    Hurtenflirst: Quick précis then.
    Lintilla: Because.
    Hurtenflirst: That's neat!

    Theme Parks 


    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: The elder of the outcasts beneath Freeway 42's sewers states it's a long story regarding the circumstances of how several of their own become mutants due to their Mechanika Virus infections spreading at a quicker rate, along with having no memory of how they came to be in the sewers.
  • Conker says this in the intro to Conker's Bad Fur Day, when he begins to explain to the viewer how he became a king and who all the strange people surrounding his throne are. The rest of the game takes place during the previous day.
  • In Double Homework, the protagonist insists that there’s a reason why Henry’s as dumb as he is. He just doesn’t tell it.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Kingdom Hearts II:
      • When the gang are in Christmastown, Santa Claus asks Jack "What sort of trouble did you bring this time?" Sora asks Jack about it, and Jack replies, "It's a long story!"
      • Played for laughs in the manga adaptation when Sora uses his Keyblade to open a barrier and allow himself and his allies to escape.
      Tron: What... what did you do?
      Sora: It would take too long to explain.
    • At one point in Kingdom Hearts III, Lea moans that he'll have to explain "all of this to [Roxas], which is in itself a crazy long story." With "all of this" being basically everything Roxas wasn't physically present for, which is A LOT. In the Epilogue of the same game, when the Fortellers ask Luxu, who is Xigbar what his role was during the saga, he responds "I hope you like long stories."
  • The Messenger (2018): The Ninja comes across several Phobekins, who are named after their phobias, at the spot of their fears. When asked about how they got there, they all replied it's a very long story.
  • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge starts with Guybrush hanging above a huge pit holding a rope with left hand and a huge trunk in the right.
    Elaine: [from another rope] How did you get into this mess?
    Guybrush: It's kind of a long story.
    Elaine: That's OK, I've got time.
    Guybrush: Sigh... [credits start]
  • Planescape: Torment: Random party dialog between Fall-From-Grace and Morte will sometimes have her ask what happened to his body. He sighs and says that it's a long story involving the Head of Vecna, and that he doesn't want to talk about it.
  • In the Team Fortress 2 comics, when asked how Soldier became a public defendant by Miss Pauling, Spy simply retorts with this trope.
    Spy: It's a long story, but chapter one: his roommate is a magician. Should I continue?
    Miss Pauling: You know what? Never mind.

    Web Animation 
  • In How It Should Have Ended, the Harry Potter video ends with Snape traveling back to the past to kill a young Tom Riddle during his first meeting with Dumbledore, preventing Voldemort from existing. Immediately, Dumbledore questions Snape's actions.
    Snape: Just saving your life in the future, as well as countless others... It's a long story. No I mean a really long story, like, so long if I wrote all down it would take at least seven books.
    Dumbledore: Or eight movies.
  • In RWBY's "Yellow" trailer, Yang Xiao Long says this when Ruby Rose asks her, "What are you doing here?"

    Web Comics 
  • Served with a bit of Lampshade Hanging in this strip from Freefall, changing the focus to Sam and Helix while Florence explains how she ultimately arrived at Dr. Thurmad's house.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, after the battle with diamond beetles on the Princess Tyola:
    Dr Bunnigus: Why raid food stores? Why not use our original bodies for mass?
    Schlock: You don't want to hear it. It's a long story.
    Dr Bunnigus: Try me.
    Schlock: Well, after I ripped everybody's heads off and froze them, I ate your bodies so I'd be big enough to take on the beetle-monsters.
    Dr Bunnigus: ... Where does this story start being long?
    Schlock: Did I say long? I meant disturbing.
  • Charby the Vampirate sums up Mye's terrifying night with chibi drawings. It is long indeed, as it started a good 75 pages earlier.
  • It's Walky! does the big setup version here:
    Rachel: Okay, Joe, I think it's time we told you the sad truth Robin has had to face throughout her childhood. It's a long and sordid tale, and every twist and turn will break your heart.
    Agatha: Robin's father slept around.
  • Subverted in Homestuck when Aranea is asked how the pre-scratch trolls survived the scratch. She, as a writer with a somewhat overdramatic flair, claims that the story requires a lot of detail and context to tell properly. Meenah shoves a hand over her mouth and tells the whole story in a few sentences. Aranea is Not Pleased.
  • Questionable Content:
    Claire: You guys are really close, huh.
    Marten: Yeah, you could say that. It's... kind of complicated.
    Pintsize: TLDR: They wanted to bang but didn't.
    Marten: Okay, maybe it's not that complicated.

    Web Original 
  • Bum Reviews: This is how Chester A. Bum handwaves some of his more... esoteric claims.
    Chester A. Bum: I had no genitalia once! Long story.
  • Played with in episode 8 of Chroma, when Jeremy holds the Loony Moustached Operator at gunpoint and Karim asks him how the hell he got his hands on a Beretta. When Jeremy says the stock phrase, Karim just tells him to continue. Jérémy proceeds to recite his whole colorful life, getting sidetracked for so long the Moustached Operator escapes under their noses.

    Western Animation 
  • In Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from the Future, describes each of his stories as this and advises the group to get snacks before he starts. Once he's done with overly long tales, Shake and Meatwad listened to the whole thing while Frylock and Carl got tired and slept during it.
  • Subverted in Archer:
    Mallory: And since when do you carry a switchblade?!
    Archer: It's a long story, Mother!
    [flashback to Archer noticing the switchblade in a display window]
    Archer: Neat!
    [end flashback]
    Archer: Well, not so much long as just not very interesting.
  • In one Danger Mouse episode, Penfold basically turns his back for a moment and then sees that D.M. has escaped from the trap he was just in, and fixed their car as well. Penfold asks how he did it, and D.M. says, "I'll explain... later, Penfold." Penfold: "But how did you fix the car?" D.M.: "I'll explain later, Penfold!"
  • Subverted For Laughs in Dave the Barbarian: Fang reveals that she can play the lute, and says that it's a long story. As she tells it, we get a 10-secondish Flashback of her about to crush a bug, only for it to offer to teach her to play the lute if she spares it. Cutting back to the present, Fang admits that the story actually wasn't very long.
  • The Flintstones episode "Happy Housewife", where Wilma stars in a TV show about making husbands happy through cooking, only she's been neglecting Fred. The president of a rival TV station takes this to mind and visits Fred:
    TV president: How is it being married to the Happy Housewife?
    Fred: [slow-burn] Ya really wanna know? Then sit down, buster, have I got a story to tell you!
  • In Futurama's Superhero Episode, the villainous Zookeeper isn't there to rob the museum when he threatened to, which is causing scheduling problems for Leela. When he finally shows up, he just says "Sorry I'm late! Long story," which doesn't get elaborated on.
  • In the Gargoyles episode "The Price", Hudson escapes from Xanatos' captivity and finds that clan is mourning the destruction of a statue of himself they thought was him in a permanent stone state. When he reveals himself, the others naturally ask what happened and Hudson responds, "It's a long story and one best told over a cup of hot tea" after which they go back to the Clocktower for that tea.
  • Justice League:
    • In "Hereafter", Superman is blasted into the future. The world mourns his loss and the League has to stop supervillain rioting in Metropolis. Meanwhile Superman has a nature hike across a crazy post-apocalyptic landscape, and fights giant cockroaches with Heel–Face Turn Vandal Savage as they try to power up a time machine. Superman appears a few days later with a beard, ragged clothes and pops up just in time to take a bullet meant for Batman. What happened to him? "It's a long story." Even better, he starts to try to explain, but it's all: "and then Vandal Savage and I fought some giant cockroaches" and he gives up because everyone's just staring at him. And his...wolfskins and his beard. He left the sword behind, though.
    • A lot of Batman's anecdotes are subtle references to Batman: The Animated Series and his comic adventures, truncated with either this or You Do Not Want To Know.
  • Molly of Denali: In "Sticker Shock," Tooey uses a labeling machine to label everything. Kenji is bewildered to find Tooey labeling his jacket. Tooey says that it's a long story.
  • In one The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode, Pooh's friends think he's moving away, so they hold a going-away party for him and see him off. Pooh never intended to move away, but plays along and returns back home after about two seconds. His friends ask him why he's come back so soon. Pooh replies, "It's a long story," probably because he can't think of a good explanation (or for that matter, fully understand it himself as he's a bear of little brain) of how they were mistaken.
  • Played for Laughs in Phineas and Ferb. In one episode, Doofenshmirtz's Freudian Excuse is unusually long and complicated, including Call Backs to backstories from previous episodes. At one point he notes that there's a part that he doesn't even want to get into, but short version: he'd been disowned by his family and was temporarily being raised by ocelots.
  • In The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "The Bare Facts", the Mayor thanks the girls for saving him from Mojo Jojo but asks why they were laughing at the time. They say it is a long story, while the Mayor has time to listen. The three explain the events in "Rashomon"-Style but leave just before revealing what was so funny. While it is shown that it is because the Mayor is naked, that means the girls must have returned him to his office without letting him put his clothes on first.
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "Astronaut Ellen Ochoa", Dr. Bergs says this word for word when Ellen finds his mug with her face on it.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: During the Box Top Robbery arc, Rocky and Bullwinkle find themselves in an elevator car floating in the river.
    Navy officer: An elevator car, in the river?
    Rocky: It's a long story.
    Bullwinkle: And pretty involved, too.
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: In "Decoy for a Dognapper", Velma is groping around for her glasses, which a bat had dropped on Scooby's face. Shaggy retrieves it and gives it to Velma:
    Velma: How did you find them?
    Shaggy: It's a looooong story, Velma!
    Scooby: Roooong rrory!
  • In the Season 1 finale of Smiling Friends, after Charlie comes back to life after dying earlier in the episode:
    Pim: Charlie! How is this possible?
    Charlie: Look, I can barely explain the nutty adventure I went I'm not going to, I don't wanna talk about it. I've seen the devil.
  • Star Wars Rebels: At the end of "Warhead", after having called the rest of the Ghost crew back early from a training exercise and receiving a transmission from Fulcrum congratulating him, Zeb says this when asked what happened.
  • In the episode "War Dawn" from The Transformers the Aerialbots go back in time and meet Optimus Prime nine million years in the past. When they return, Optimus remembers the incident. Ratchet asks what they're talking about, and Prime says, "Well, it all started about nine million years ago," prompting Ratchet to quip, "Oh great, it's gonna be one of those long stories..."
  • In Transformers: Animated episode "Megatron Rising Part 1", Megatron is finally reunited with Lugnut after fifty years. Lugnut bows down and praises him for a bit before finally taking notice that Megatron has been reduced to a head.
    Lugnut: What happened to your body?
    Megatron: Long story.
  • The Venture Bros. had this in Twenty Years to Midnight:
    The Grand Galactic Inquisitor: Good news, sample subjects of earth! The glorious moment of judgment is upon you!
    Taxi Driver: Hey, it's 8.20 on the meter, Stretch!
    The Grand Galactic Inquisitor: Ignore me!
    Jonas Venture Jr.: Who the hell is that?
    Rusty Venture: Long story. Just ignore him.

Alternative Title(s): Long Story