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Narrating the Present

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Judith: [to the recording phone] For the record; Jase is opening a window.
[sound of glass breaking]
Judith: For the record; one of the panes just—
Jase: Yeah, I think — can we cool it on the record, for a sec?

This is where someone In-Universe narrates the present (or possibly the future), and when that future eventually becomes the present, the narration in question will be revealed. It's usually stated in past tense, but not always. A Fourth-Wall Observer or Third-Person Person might do this; expect them to be called on it by another character. Can overlap with Posthumous Narration.

Note that this is for narration, not a prophecy. Compare Thinking Out Loud. Contrast Present Tense Narrative.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is the Verbal Tic of the Sisters clones in A Certain Magical Index. They will say a sentence then go on to describe what they're doing or feeling at the time as if reading it from a book.
  • Azumanga Daioh: While the girls are getting excited over their impending trip to Okinawa, the action freezes and Tomo starts narrating about how the trip would end in tragedy. Yomi tells her to knock it off.

    Audio Play 
  • Throughout 36 Questions, Judith describes what is happening for the sake of the recording, usually prefacing it by saying "For the record".

    Comic Books 
  • In the "Archive of Worlds" arc of Batman/Superman, the villain has a penchant for providing his own hammy narration. He gets annoyed several times when Superman and Batman don't play along. Superman tries to resist the deadly radiation of's Kryptonite ring, but it's too much for him. As for Batman? He's worse than useless! even turns his own weapons against him! With his last breath, Superman utters his final words...
    Batman: I'm many things,— That's not your cue, you imbecile!
    Batman: —but useless isn't one of them. [saves Superman]
  • Depending on the Writer, Deadpool's Little Yellow Boxes (that is, narration boxes) are actually him speaking the narration out loud without realizing, and other characters can hear it.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In The Kingdom of Mirai, Chisa teases Juzo by narrating his love life. However, the actual ficis narrated in third-person.
    "...Sakakura has become the jilted boyfriend." Yukizome watches the spectacle like it's the greatest thing ever. "Sadly, he mopes... 'Why can't he understand I only want him near me? Why doesn't he know that I only want to keep him safe?' he wonders angrily..."
  • A Certain Droll Hivemind: Misaka-11111 retains the Sisters' distinctive Verbal Tic. The psychiatrists are trying to get the Sisters to stop, and it's implied they could, but they prefer it this way. Misaka-11111 mentions several times that she would be much less confused if everyone else narrated themselves.
  • Invader Zim: A Bad Thing Never Ends: The Announcer has a habit of doing this as part of his Large Ham schtick, typically to boost his own ego and insult everyone around him.

  • The Invention of Lying: Mark has created a document he pretends to have "discovered" which tells a magnificent story of aliens, ninjas, and robot dinosaurs, which was allegedly written in the 14th century. The document ends with:
    One day, a great writer by the name of Mark Bellison, would stumble upon them in the desert, after being fired by his shit boss Anthony and mocked by Rob and Shelly, two huge douche bags. Lecture Films Motion Picture Studios would go on to make the picture and it would be a big success, and Mark would become very wealthy and famous from it. The End.
  • In the movie Eat and Run the main character, Detective McSorely, would often narrate the events of his own life. Most of his monologues end with someone asking him who he's talking to.
    • He also manages, at times, to be an Unreliable Narrator. Of course, we, the audience, can clearly see that he's lying.
  • Stranger Than Fiction is on the border. The "narrator" in that case is actually the author and is thus making things happen, not just narrating on them. It could be argued that she's just writing what she "sees" as many authors claim to do, but it is largely implied that she is the creator of the events in the story, and not just the reporter.
  • The Incredible Shrinking Man: Scott narrates the entire movie, but it's strongly implied at the end that he'll shrink down to a subatomic size - so when does he have time to write down what he's saying?

  • Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater: Leonard & Alan buy a manuscript on Hyperstellar Archeology and read it, in which it mentions them by name buying the manuscript and reading it.
  • In Discworld the books in Death's library write someone's life as a narrative as it happens. The last scene of Mort is actually Mort reading that scene from his own book.
  • The Night Circus: (major spoiler) At the end of the book we find out that Widget, a character whose magic manifests as being able to read people's pasts, is actually retelling the story to Mr. A. H— because he's collected the pasts of all the characters involved in the story.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ultimately subverted in Supernatural where it turns out Chuck really is a Prophet and not just a bad author, as he thinks of himself.
  • Doctor Who: The first episode of "The End of Time" is bookended by seemingly out-of-universe narration of what is going on in the episode. We discover at the end of the episode that the narrator is the Lord President of Gallifrey, who is the Big Bad of the 2nd episode.
  • Quantum Leap sometimes has Sam giving a past-tense narration in voiceover, although it's unclear when he would have found time to go back and write any of these events down. There's one particularly odd moment in the episode "Play It Again, Seymour:" Sam catches himself using hard-boiled detective slang in the narration, and Sam-on-screen reacts to this, leading to the Fridge Logic conclusion that Sam just walks around mentally narrating his own life in the past tense.
  • In Episode 33 of Monty Python's Flying Circus, an announcer delivers a recap of "The Show So Far," which leads all the way up to:
    "...and a man told us about what happened on the show so far and a great hammer came down and hit him on the head... I don't remember that."
  • In Community Pierce decides he wants to be in Abed's novel, and quickly changes his mind when he discovers this is going to involve Abed following him around narrating his life, while pretending he's not talking.
    Abed: He said, oldly, his brittle bones straining to support the weight of his wrinkly skin.
    Pierce: Stop narrating me.
    Abed: He said, to no one! Just a man alone in time with nothing but the cold squishiness of tuna salad to comfort him.
  • This is revealed to be the origin of the narration in the last episode of Burn Notice.
  • The Bill: Whenever a suspect is being questioned and they respond non-verbally, ie by shrugging, one of the officers in the room will describe the gesture for the benefit of anyone listening to the interview on cassette. Truth in Television: This was and still is standard protocol for Real Life police interviews.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is what the medium runs on. The players narrate their actions, and the GM or what-not narrates the result.

    Video Games 
  • In Alan Wake, Alan has a running voiceover of his thoughts and actions as if he's reading a novel. Or writing one.
  • Horizon Forbidden West: One of the Oseram showmen Aloy meets in the ruins of Las Vegas has some trouble coming out of narrator mode, commenting on everything that happens like he's announcing for one of their shows. The game subtitles even include the quotation marks as if he's reading a script. Aloy quickly decides she's just going to move past it.
    [Aloy enters the room]
    Stemmur: "Suddenly, a Nora spear-maiden appeared."
    Aloy: Yeah, okay, um...
  • Super Paper Mario has the Big Bad, Count Bleck, often speaking in this manner. Some have speculated that he is quoting his own dialogue from the Dark Prognosticus when he does this.

  • Batman: Wayne Family Adventures: In "Haley", Dick provides superhero narration for his puppy Haley as she attacks the vacuum. Tim, who's actually doing the vacuuming, does not find it amusing. Dick begs to differ.
  • In Sword And Sarcasm, it's common knowledge that mysterious invisible beings called the Choral Djinn secretly chronicle all the events of our lives. Part of Herbert's curse is that he and anyone standing near him can hear them. That is, they can hear the comic's caption boxes.

    Web Original 
  • SoundsLikePizza is a YouTuber who does accurate voice impressions of popular characters and people, and enters online games to troll players with them. One of his voices is David Attenborough, where he treats the other players' actions as a nature documentary they are not supposed to be hearing.
  • Welcome to Night Vale has one episode where it narrates the life of one of the town's residents as it happens in the second person. The events of this day include him stealing a mysterious crate and being tracked down by some of the town's mysterious enforcers, who note that finding him was easy because for some reason everything he thinks and does is being broadcast through the radio. Naturally it is not explained how Cecil, who is not usually capable of knowing someone's innermost thoughts and memories, was able to do this.
  • A modern art review in the Michigan Quarterly describes the critic's integration into an interactive text project- essentially narrating her own experience of being narrated.
    I scanned the room for the silent observer I hadn’t yet located, hoping to be included in the narrative. I spotted him at a table tucked into a corner of the vast space, inconspicuous, looking down at his hands as he typed. He glanced up and found me watching him; I snapped my head towards the skylights in mock curiosity and then re-struck my thoughtful, museum-going pose, still waiting to see myself in the text on the wall. He wrote, “A woman stands before the piece as if waiting to be included in the narrative.” Was I that easy to read? My desire to be seen was so blunt, obvious.
  • In The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air), protagonist Julian the Janitor's personal Interactive Narrator always uses the present tense when relating the action that happens to and around Julian in real-time.
    Narrator: ...curled deep inside this heating duct, claustrophobic and alone, hides Julian, janitor here at the Eiffel Tower, who secretly dreams of being on the radio.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy, in a Cutaway Gag where Peter spent two weeks narrating his life. We see him walk into the kitchen and say aloud:
    I walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table. I looked with a grimace at the questionable meal Lois had placed in front of me. Of course I would never tell her how disgusted I was with her cooking, but somehow I think she knew. Lois had always been full of energy and life, but lately I had begun to grow more aware of her aging: the bright exuberant eyes that I had fallen in love with were now beginning to grow dull and listless with the long fatigue of a weary life. (Lois knocks Peter out. Time passes) I awoke several hours later in a daze.
  • An episode of American Dad! had Klaus doing this. When asked what he was doing he explained he was pretending his life was a DVD and he was doing the audio commentary. Later in the episode Klaus' voice is head narrating over the scene so that we can't hear what anyone is saying. According to Klaus we miss the funniest line in the episode because of this.
  • In an episode of The Boys: Diabolical a resident of a home for super powered kids has this as his power. Naturally, he is the narrator for the episode.