This trope is where a character states a relationship with someone else through a long and indirect chain of connections. The chain can be simple (I know this guy who knows this guy) to elaborate (My uncle's drinking buddy's doctor works with this guy whose brother's fiancee...). Sometimes, despite this, the person acts as if he or she knows the person really well. Other times, it's reversed; they really do know the person well, and are making up this long string of connections to socially or legally distance themselves from the other party.
Usually the elaborate case is used as an hope/promise for a plan, which very rarely delivers.
See also Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!, where this is not only true, but makes a character significantly powerful. Compare ...Or So I Heard, where the character is downplaying potentially embarrassing knowledge by claiming to have it secondhand rather than via direct experience. Not to be confused with I Know A Guy, which redirects to Friend in the Black Market.
- Doraemon plays with this. Taking advantage of the "Six Degrees Of Separation" theory via one of the usual Imported Alien Phlebotinum, Nobita is able to meet celebrities and other famous people at will. Apparently the device has a few bugs to work out given that amusing things can happen if the names of the people you want to meet are too similar.
- In The Tonsillitis Episode of Calvin and Hobbes: The Series, Socrates quotes the SpongeBob SquarePants example verbatim.
- Harry & the Mysterious Curse of the Girl Who Lived:
Susan: So I heard from a fourth year that's second cousins with a Hufflepuff who's the neighbor of the captain of the team.
- Ninja Wizard Book 2:
Harry: My cousin Dudleys friend Piers uncles neighbor works at the police station in Surrey.
- Naruto in Myoushuu no Fuuin has a great deal of connections in the criminal underworld and always refers to this trope by name. It gets to the point that when Team 7 has to find Jiraiya (after already tracking down Tsunade), they jokingly express shock that Naruto doesn't "Know a guy who knows a guy who's secretly his traveling companion".
- Bruno's secret in Through the crack in the wall travels along the kids like this. Dolores hears Mirabel socializing with Bruno, so she tells Luisa who tells Isabela. Mirabel tells Camilo who tells Antonio.
- From The Emperor's New Groove:
Chicha: So, remind me again how you're related to Pacha?Yzma: Why, I'm his third cousin's brother's wife's step-niece's great aunt. (beat) Twice removed.
- From Jetsons: The Movie:
Judy Jetson: I just found out Doris told Susie and Susie told Mary and Mary told Francie and Francie told me Helen took my date with Cosmo!
- Monsters, Inc.: Boo is supposedly Sully's cousin's sister's daughter. Why he didn't just say first cousin once removed is probably trying to invoke this for "Bring an Obscure Relative to Work Day".
- This is how Six Degrees of Separation works.
- Spaceballs. Used to spoof the Luke, I Am Your Father trope.
Dark Helmet: I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate!Lone Starr: (Beat) So... what's that make us?Dark Helmet: Absolutely nothing... which is what you are about to become!
- From Ferris Bueller's Day Off:
My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy that knows this girl who's going with a guy that saw Ferris passed out at 31 flavors last night. I guess its pretty serious.
- From Hot Fuzz: "That's Auntie Jackie's sister's brother's boy". That he doesn't just say 'my cousin' suggests complicated relationships... or just Rule of Funny.
- From Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure:
"I texted Bridget, who e-mailed Constance, who tweeted Bethany, who IMed Jenn, who Facebooked Kara, who has an ex-friend who she caught with her boyfriend, who she then dumped, so now Karas her friend again, who knows of a New York apartment available in a luxury townhouse."
- From Sexy Beast:
Don:"I know a bloke, who knows a bloke, who knows a bloke. Now you know this bloke."Gal:"Do I?"Don:"This is a bloke you know."
- In Conan the Destroyer, Conan's sidekick told the heroes that his "brother's sister's cousin" knew a secret entrance into the Big Bad's palace. (Exactly why his "brother's sister" wasn't also his sister is something he doesn't explain; fortunately, the secret entrance is there.)
- In Starsky & Hutch, Huggy Bear uses this to explain how he got his new Lincoln.
"It's a '76. Won't be out 'til next year. But I know some people that know some people that robbed some people."
- Luis does this multiple times in the Ant-Man films. For added hilarity, he voices everyone when recounting this to the audience.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Ron, who is currently not on speaking terms with Harry, has Hermione relay the news to him that Hagrid wants to see him. This bit of news had apparently been relayed through several other people before reaching Ron, and Hermione frustratedly tries to list them all out. She gives up when Harry asks her to repeat the list. Later, Ron reveals that he actually heard the news directly from Hagrid and made up the rest of the chain.
- Ocean's Eleven. Danny uses this trope after The Caper comes off successfully to throw off suspicion. When Benedict demands to know if Danny is responsible, Danny says he knows a guy he did time with who knows anyone who could have pulled off such a heist. Benedict just thinks he's being played and hands him over to the police for parole violation.
- In Van Helsing, Friar Carl is able to get Dragon's Fire for the titular slayer of evil, which utterly baffles him since he believed it couldn't be acquired anymore. Carl just shrugs and says he knows a guy who knows a guy.
- The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy:
- In Life, the Universe and Everything, Effrafax of Wug got rid of the mountain he was supposed to render invisible with the aid of "his friends, and his friends' friends, and his friends' friends' friends, and his friend's friends' friends' friends, and some rather less good friends of theirs who happened to own a major stellar trucking company".
- In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, Arthur mentions the Urban Legend version by saying the story he's about to tell sounds like one of those ones that happened to a friend of a friend of a friend but probably got made up somewhere along the chain, but this one did happen, because it happened to him. (It actually happened to Douglas Adams.)
- In Michael Connelly book The Gods of Guilt, Cisco says he knows "some people who know some people".
- In Mark Twain's "Two Little Tales" the second tale features an elaborate one of these which stretches from the son of a cesspool emptier to the emperor. The son's best friend, a chimney-sweep, comments on it:
It's a philosophy, you see. Mighty good word—and large. It goes on this idea: everybody in the world, little and big, has one special friend, a friend that he's glad to do favors to—not sour about it, but glad—glad clear to the marrow. And so, I don't care where you start, you can get at anybody's ear that you want to—I don't care how low you are, nor how high he is. And it's so simple: you've only to find the first friend, that is all; that ends your part of the work. He finds the next friend himself, and that one finds the third, and so on, friend after friend, link after link, like a chain; and you can go up it or down it, as high as you like or as low as you like.
- SyFy's Alice has:
Hatter: I know some people, who know some, well, other people.
- This is how Saul arranges a meeting between Walter White and Gus Fring in Breaking Bad. And its quite literal. Saul has no idea who the big New Mexico meth distributor is... but he knows his occasional fixer-for-hire Mike works for him. When the first attempted meeting falls through, Saul has no idea how to try again.
- From Cheers:
Sam: I know a guy who knows a guy...Diane: And he's a bookie?Sam: No, but he knows a guy who is.
- In Burn Notice, Sam's key role is being "the guy who knows a guy". The amount of contacts he has is absurd, even for a former Navy SEAL who's had quite a lot of meetings with other departments of the government in his time.
- This is the only explanation for where the martial artists of Power Rangers Jungle Fury got their hands on high tech morphers. Y'see, the substitute mentor knows a guy who knows a guy who has an uncle who's has a connection ...
- The pilot of A Bit of Fry and Laurie closes with the following snippet:
Stephen Fry: ...I'd just found out that Dernik isn't my real father.Hugh Laurie: He isn't? Then who is?Fry: I am.Laurie: Then that must mean that you must be...Fry: Exactly. Devlin's half-sister's wife's doctor's cousin's niece!Laurie: Well then who the hell am I?Fry: I dunno mate, but it's your round!
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Odo teases Dr. Bashir a little over the latter being nominated for a very prestigious medical award.
"Well, according to my friend, her friend heard something from his cousin, which his wife heard from the council member, which I thought you might find interesting...."
- In "The Magnificent Ferengi", Quark speaks of doing "business with the nephew of the cousin of the stepsister of a friend of the secretary to the [Balcanar] Consortium's chief accountant."
- Garak seems to have an inexhastive supply of "Contacts on Cardassia" that he can call upon to assist the plot. This is usually played for humor, but the episode "In the Pale Moon Light" plays this serious as many of these contacts are people who, while vaguely described, make Sisko second guess the need for their service just by the morally high prices that those contacts ask. Inverted as well, as one contact thinks Sisko was nothing but a Dirty Old Man and jokes around about what Sisko wants him to do... that is, until Sisko tells the guy it was Garak who made the meeting possible, which horrifies the contact into better behaving himself.
- Subverted in That '70s Show when Eric and Kelso are buying promise rings for Donna and Jackie, and Kelso brings them to an alley.
Eric: Kelso, this doesn't look like a ring store.Kelso: Don't worry, I know a guy who knows a guy.[Leo walks into the alley]Leo: Hey, dudes.Eric: Wait, Leo's the guy? I thought you said you knew a guy who knew a guy.Kelso: Yeah, I do.Eric: I know Leo.Kelso: OK, so you're the guy.
- In a Leverage Christmas episode, Nate gifts Eliot with a samurai sword, explained thusly:
I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a samurai.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Band Candy", Mr. Trick admits to Mayor Wilkins the evil plan for the episode is outside his area of expertise, but he knows "a beast who knows a guy".
- How to Rock has Kacey claim to know Big Time Rush this way and insist she can get tickets to see them because of it. At the end of the episode, it turns out that, despite the very tenuous connection between them, they remember her too.
- American Gods (2017): Due to the oddities of the Fantasy Kitchen Sink, nigh-omnipotent gods and monsters will casually refer their friends to other nigh-omnipotent gods and monsters.
Sweeney: Like my good friend Jesus Christ, what you need is a resurrection.
Laura: Did you just casually name drop Jesus Christ like you know a guy who knows a guy?
Sweeney: I do know a guy who knows a guy.
- The Martin "Why Can't We Be Friends?" second part begins with Pam and Cole relaying information about Tommy's car accident, with her letting the gang know about the hospital he's in ("Ray-Ray told Corn Pop told Junior who works in emergency with Ken-Ken...") and him telling about the condition of his car ("Big Earl had told that Peaches and Kool-Aid told him...").
- Tom Lehrer:
- "Lobachevsky", from Songs by Tom Lehrer, has an exaggeratedly long one of these:
I have a friend in Minsk,
Who has a friend in Pinsk,
Whose friend in Omsk
Has friend in Tomsk
With friend in Akmolinsk.
His friend in Alexandrovsk
Has friend in Petropavlovsk,
Whose friend somehow is solving now
The problem in Dnepropetrovsk.
- Then the next verse runs through the whole thing again backward, somehow adding two more towns into the "chain".
- His song "I got it from Agnes" is a series of chains.
- "Lobachevsky", from Songs by Tom Lehrer, has an exaggeratedly long one of these:
- The chorus of Gaelic Storm's song "Johnny Tarr".
And even if you saw it yourself, you wouldn't believe it,I wouldn't trust a person like me, if I were youSure I wasn't there, but I swear I have an alibiI heard it from a man who knows a fella who says it's true
- According to a Helsinki documentary they hosted, the Leningrad Cowboys got in contact with the Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble because they knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone (repeat a couple times over) who had the ensemble's phone number.
- In Weird Al's song "Lame Claim to Fame", one of the singer's said lame claims to fame is that he knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows Kevin Bacon. note
- Used in "This Town" by Kacey Musgraves to point out why it's a bad idea to be an asshole to someone in a small town:
Cause somebody's mama knows somebody's cousinand somebody's sister knows somebody's husbandand somebody's daughter knows somebody's brotherand around here we all look out for each other.
- Urban Legends are often purported to happen to such people. In fact, folklorists who study Urban Legends have the acronym "F.O.A.F." which stands for Friend Of A Friend. The fact that such legends are often proven false or at least never proven conclusively could be seen as a variant on the "promise that never delivers" part of the trope.
- Played with in Driver: San Francisco: One mission involves playing as two undercover cops to defuse a couple of truck bombs on the highway. Once the madman reveals he has around half a dozen more cruising the city, Tanner remarks the trope name. This is referencing Tanner's shifting ability to possess any driver on the road which he uses to locate and defuse the rest of the bombs.
- A note found in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is from a bandit who claims that he "knows a guy whose cousin knows a guy" that could set them up for life, if they steal more than their take from the bandit leader. By the way, you also find his corpse later.
- In Grim Fandango, two guys can be overheard discussing Double-N Tickets (which are rumoured to be sold by the Big Bad Hector). One of them points out that these tickets can't be just bought, leading to this exchange:
Guy 1: Well I know somebody who knows somebody who knows-uh... HECTOR LEMANS.Guy 2: Wow. You know EVERYBODY!
- In Hearthstone the Flavor Text for the card I Know A Guy is "Well a guy who knows a guy."
- In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga at Joke's End, Jojora claims her friend's cousin's ancestor was the person who owned the place.
- Rogue in 8-Bit Theater has "I know a guy" as his catchphrase. One of said guys is even Thief.
- The Order of the Stick: Belkar suggests selling some captured enemies into slavery, adding that he "know[s] a guy who knows a guy" to contact for this. Much later, we meet the guy in question, Buggy Lou. His best supplier on the Northern Continent was pals with Belkar.
- In Exterminatus Now, Eastwood knows a guy who knows a guy that can examine the artifact that a bunch of heavily armed mercenaries tried to steal from them. He forgot exactly which friend he knew this guy through, though...which bites him in the ass since said friend turns out to have been Silas Morth, who is behind the whole operation and is blackmailing the examiner into delivering the artifact to him.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Such a chain is how Tuuri ended up with the idea that Swedes only have four toes on each foot. She got it from her brother, who got it from a friend, who got from someone who had actually met a Swedish person.
- Surprisingly, Played for Drama in Miraculous Ladybug in Gang of Secrets. Alya only learned that her best friend Marinette broke up with her boyfriend Luka not from Marinette herself but after Luka told Juleka, who told Rose, who told Mylène, who told Alix, who told her.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: As indicated from the page quote, in "The Camping Episode", SpongeBob tries to warn Squidward that 'Sea Bears are no laughing matter' by claiming that he knew this guy who knew this guy who knew this guy(and so on).
- In the episode "Suds", Patrick tells SpongeBob of the horrors of the doctor's office which he knows because "I know a guy who knows a guy who went to the doctor once".
- Totally Spies!: When asked how Clover was able to get tickets to an event, she says:
"Oh it was easy! The manager of the arena has a cousin who lives next door to a guy who's best friends with a man who's married to a childhood classmate of a mother of a guy I know from the football team. I just flirted with him and he got the tickets for me."
- Animaniacs: Yakko explains in song why he is now the king of Anvilania:
Yakko: I'm the cousin to the sister / Of son's niece's brother / Of the uncle's daughter's father / Of the nephew's sister's mother / And my grandpa's only cousin / Was the King's daughter's sibling, / But they're all gone,Crowd: So that is whyYakko: I am now your king!
- In Ben 10: Omniverse, this is Fistrick's explanation on how he was able to reach another planet, learn about their exploitable resources, and turn the local wildlife into a massive army;
Ben: How did you get on Renovah?Fistrick: I know a guy.Ben: And how did you know about the fruits?Fistrick: I know a guy who knows a guy.Ben: And how did you teach the Muroids how to operate technology? Oh, let me guess: you know a guy.Fistrick: Knew a guy.
- Freaky Stories: Every episode started with "This is a true story. It happened to a friend of a friend of mine". (Except for the Musical Episode where, for reasons of rhyme and scansion, it happened "to a friend of a friend of a friend".)
- In Ninjago, when the Ninja are looking for an apartment (with real estate being hard to find in Ninjago City), Nya tells them she "knows a guy who knows a girl, who knows a guy who knows a girl who's a real estate agent."
- Phineas and Ferb: Candace and Stacy are excited to go to an exclusive day spa where you need to know somebody to get in. Phineas asks who they know, and Stacy rattles off a long line of tenuous acquaintances, after which, Candace cheerfully replies "And I know Stacy."