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How is Anger already reading a newspaper about "No Dessert" before Riley's dad said anything about it?
"What happened down in the dungeons between you and Professor Quirrell is a complete secret, so, naturally, the whole school knows."

When the hero accomplishes a task or a goal (or inversely, does something embarrassing), everyone they encounter immediately afterwards will already be aware of the event. Even if the accomplishment only occurred moments prior and there are no visible means for the character to learn of the incident, they will praise/chastise the hero right away. Primarily a video game trope, in the interest of Gameplay and Story Segregation.

When a misdeed is immediately acknowledged by characters that couldn't have seen it, turning hostile or giving you bad karma at sight or somehow influencing your gameplay rather than the story, it is instead The All-Seeing A.I., although the two tropes could overlap.

Sub-Trope of Famed in Story.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Later issues of Naruto have shown news traveling fast regarding the protagonist's trials and travails, and the consequential shifts in public opinion about him.
    • It helps when half the village is watching you fight the Big Bad.
    • Also things like if Orochimaru used his body switching technique in the secrecy of his lair, which Jiraiya and Akatsuki knew right away.
  • In One Piece, events tend to be reported to the newspapers- and subsequently, those newspapers are distributed incredibly fast. This is taken to extremes near the end of the Dressrosa arc, where the heroes victory over Doflamingo is made public knowledge in the course of a day.

    Comic Books 
  • Asterix: In "Asterix and the Magic Carpet", Cacofonix' bad singing reaches new levels, as he now causes it to rain whenever he sings. But although this is a new phenomenon, word about it has somehow already reached India, hence why Watziznehm the fakir came to the village to seek Cacofonix' help to combat a drought.

    Fan Works 
  • Much to the chagrin of the four in The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, who discover that they've become famous less than two days after they return to C'hou. Specifically, the librarian Nangre tells George that she overheard two separate groups discussing the “Awesome Foursome” in the library, which meant that the topic had to be widespread already. The four can't figure out how the news is being transmitted.
  • In Christian Potter Chandler, Voldemort's attack on Chris backfires, killing Voldemort. British wizards are already vacationing in Virginia the next day.
  • In The Season's My Reason, when Yui Nagomi meets Usagi Tsukino, Usagi mentions the Cures' recent run-in with the Glitter Force. Yui is surprised the news made it to her so fast.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Crazy Rich Asians: An influencer spots billionaire heir Nick Young at a restaurant with his girlfriend and snaps a photo. It spreads like wildire in the next few minutes and goes viral in Singapore. Nick's mother hears about it and calls him before Nick and Rachel have even finished eating.
  • In the Sub Story Destination Tokyo, we see how this sort of thing gets started: the captain asks for a particular chart. The man who fetches it shows the title to half-a-dozen men before passing it to the captain and they immediately scatter to tell everyone else. Before the captain can officially announce their destination, a new edition of the unit paper is out and Japanese music is playing over the intercom.

  • In Mostly Harmless, bad news is the (technically) only thing that can travel faster than the speed of light. Once they even built a spaceship that was powered by bad news, but it was an extremely unwelcome sight wherever it went and nobody wanted anything to do with it.
  • Although many fantasy series tend to underestimate how long it would take news to travel across a nation or nations, A Song of Ice and Fire often makes an effort to avert this. News and messages can take weeks or even months to pass back and forth, perhaps best illustrated with one section where several characters in a remote corner of the realm are trying to plan what to in a tight political situation without upsetting the fearsome leader of the most powerful faction in the kingdom. Said leader died several chapters earlier, and the news hasn't made it that far yet.
  • This trope is the mechanism for the kicker ending to "Along the Scenic Route", one of the stories in Harlan Ellison's storied collection: "The Deathbird Stories". Having escaped a foolishly initiated encounter with one bad-ass, the protagonist discovers that, to all the other seriously bad-asses, your reputation is all you are.
  • A Discworld philosopher hit on the idea that since kingship is continuous (the crown prince becoming king as soon as his father dies), it must travel faster than anything else in existence.
    His ambitious plans to use his discovery to send messages, involving the careful torturing of a small king in order to modulate the signal, were never fully expanded because, at that point, the bar closed.
    • However, he's not exactly wrong: In Pyramids, prince Pteppic was very suddenly hit with several abilities of Djelibabian kings, including Fertile Feet, when his father died.
  • In Shadow of the Conqueror, the widespread Magitek of the world means that news of Daylen's exploits often reach the next city before he does. He's not too happy about this.
  • In one of Diane Duane's Star Trek Expanded Universe novels, Captain Kirk muses on the observation, known to most in Starfleet, that "only two things travel faster than light: starships and gossip."
  • Honor Harrington both plays this straight and subverts it. On the one hand, news can travel between star systems only by starship, and at least one battle occurs because the combatants have not received some critical piece of news. On the other hand, most naval officers and crew accept the speed of "rumor central" aboard ship, and even between ships, without question.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Zigzagged in Game of Thrones:
    • News of Ned Stark's death spreads across Westeros over the course of the next episode, with characters in the North, the Riverlands, and at the Wall reacting to it.
    • Justified when Stannis Baratheon publishes the illegitimacy of Cersei's children very widely and it catches by Word Of Mouth. By Season 4, it's spread across the Narrow Sea to Braavos and Meereen.
    • Since Daenerys has been living with the nomadic Dothraki and wandering the Red Waste, she learns Westeros has plunged into a Succession Crisis only after arriving at the port of Qarth. Later, when she's settled in the major port at Meereen, she receives news much faster.
    • Arya and the Hound spend most of Season 4 out of the loop as they cross the Riverlands, hiding out as fugitives, and learn far later than the other cast, that Joffrey is dead.
    • Played straight in Season 6, where in the first two episodes, implied to take place mere days after Stannis' defeat at Winterfell, news of his downfall and defeat spreads far and wide, all the way to the Iron Islands.
  • Lampshaded in Sesame Street: Telly created the Texas Telly persona like 2 scenes ago when he meets Murray, who is ALREADY his biggest fan. "Whoa, news travel fast".
  • In an episode of Everybody Hates Chris where a girl kisses Chris on the cheek, he tells his friend to not tell anyone. Later, everyone at school knows. This is also parodied at the end of the episode when Chris tells his friend that him and the girl aren't in love and not to tell anyone, one second later (literally, as said by a caption) EVERYONE at school knows.
  • In one of the Sharpe series of films, the French tried to stir up disloyalty in Irish units on the continent by creating false reports of English atrocities on the Irish. Sharpe stops the plan by lampshading this trope - the reports were spread by smuggling in allegedly American newspapers, which were less than a week old according to the print dates. But during the Napoleonic Wars, crossing the Atlantic was a six week trip under ideal circumstances, meaning that for Americans to hear about the atrocities and send reports about them to soldiers in Spain, said atrocities would have had to be at least three months past, printed in papers nearly two months old.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In an early FoxTrot strip:
    Peter: You must be the new girl.
    Denise: News travels fast.
    Peter: So, do you have a boyfriend?
    Denise: You must be this Peter Fox I've heard about.
    Peter: (thinking to himself) Some news travels too fast...

  • Justified In Jasper in Deadland. Deadland operates under Narnia Time, so most of the residents learn about Jasper's ability to restore memories mere minutes after he himself learns about this power.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind:
      • When you defeat Dagoth Ur, everyone will immediately know and praise you for your deeds. Of course, the fact that you essentially had to announce your intention of doing so to every major power figure on the island and that the eternal dust storm over Red Mountain has vanished, make this universal knowledge pretty plausible.
      • Subverted in Tribunal after you kill Almalexia. Virtually no one will believe you (save the Machiavellian king of Morrowind and Vivec), and trying to tell them about it will be met with confusion from non-Dunmer and a big disposition drop from Tribunal Temple faithful.
      • Played entirely straight with crimes. You could commit a crime, then teleport instantly to the opposite side of the island, and every guard there will be aware of your bounty.
      • Also, in Bloodmoon, if you are a werewolf and are caught transforming from or into one, the fact that you ARE a werewolf is thereafter known throughout Morrowind and you are then attacked on sight by nearly EVERYONE. There are mods to correct this but this is the default game setting.
      • Factions in most Elder Scrolls game have this bizarre hive mind about them, and it's very prevalent in Morrowind, to almost Artificial Atmospheric Actions level. If you make a faction mad at you for some reason, you can then join their faction and now they will be absolutely friendly with you.
      • You being declared the Hortator by the Three Great Houses and the Nerevarine by the Four Ashlander Tribes is known almost immediately. Admittedly, the widespread Temple eventually adopts this story, and the Great Houses and the Ashlander Tribes are a big portion of the population of the island, but the news travels at the speed of event flags.
    • Oblivion:
      • At the very beginning of Oblivion, the Emperor is killed in a sewer. The only witnesses are either dead, still in the sewer, or the player. Yet everyone in the Imperial City is talking about his death when you emerge from the sewer, and the local newspaper has already published an article about it.
      • Closing the Oblivion gate at Kvatch causes almost everybody in Cyrodiil to exclaim "It's you! The Hero of Kvatch!" when you walk by.
    • Skyrim:
      • When you speak to a guard after doing something that gives them a new line of dialogue, they'll say the new line before anything else. So, for example, you can be made Harbinger of the Companions in a little sea cave, and arrive at the nearest town before the Companions with you (the only ones who witnessed you being made Harbinger) get there, and the first guard will still greet you as Harbinger of the Companions.
      • Skyrim, however, does sometimes mess a few things up. Sometimes, for example, you might be the Harbinger of the Companions, yet a random guard might say "Let me guess - you fetch the mead". While it may seem like a subversion of this trope in that they might not know just what you've accomplished, it still plays this trope straight in that you can join the companions, but then a guard in Falkreath or Riften will somehow know the second you travel there.
  • Baldur's Gate and its sequel had a "reputation" system, which was more or less a Karma Meter, except that your actual D&D alignment was a separate affair.
    • Calling it "reputation" is misleading. If you do Something Evil but there is absolutely no way anyone else can find out, your reputation will still go down and everyone will still find out. Some mods attempt to correct the discrepancy by separating Reputation into two values: Reputation (what people think of you) and Virtue (how you actually act). It's possible with these mods to be a Villain with Good Publicity or a Hero with Bad Publicity.
    • Steal an item from any shop and all other shopkeepers will inherently know that the item is stolen and refuse to buy it, even if it's something like a plain shortsword with no notable features. The only ones that will buy such items are "Fences" that specialize in legally-ambiguous goods anyway.
    • In the sequel, there are many quests that develop according to your choices in random places, even if the time travel would be too big to allow that. For example, one of the player's stronghold quests involves a battle that is triggered in a distant area (that would take almost a day of travel to reach) because of your immediate action in the previous quest.
  • Fable was particularly bad for it. Immediately after the player completes a quest, people on the other side of the world would know about it and comment the second they see you.
    • Also averted, as the karma meter causes physical changes, so they would be able to see your alignment instead of having "heard about you."
  • In City of Heroes, the civilians walking around often talk about your exploits, sometimes mere seconds after you perform them. This includes civilians in ancient Rome.
  • Subverted in Chrono Trigger: because 99% of what you do is in the past, nobody notices it in the present - to them, it always happened that way, and is thus old news.
    • Unless of course you renamed your characters particularly Optional Party Member, Magus. Immediately afterwards, EVERYBODY knew their new name, regardless of time period. Possible handwave/justification: the renamer is a Nu, part of a race that explicitly has a bizarre relationship with time and space.
      • Actually, in the case of Magus, you can rename him as soon as you get him on the party, without help from the Nu, and then everyone will cease to call him Magus and call him by the new name.
  • Crusader games. Despite your being a member of a clandestine operation that has to isolate information so as not to give themselves away to their enemies, everyone in the Resistance seems to know where you've been and what you did the moment you step off the teleport pad or tram car back at base. On the other hand, your activities do tend to result in big explosions.
  • Notably averted in Planescape: Torment, where you can lie to just about everyone and the people who can tell you're lying can be counted on one hand. This is important for two reasons. First, you can't choose the Nameless One's alignment: he starts as True Neutral, being an amnesiac, and his alignment shifts over the course of the game based on the player's choices, including lying. Some conversations options where you can talk about the Nameless One's beliefs even allow you to say the exact same thing as either the truth or a lie. In these cases telling the truth or lying will result in the exact same response from the NPC, but which one you choose will affect your alignment. (For example, you've caught someone trying to steal from you, and have grabbed their arm. You are presented with several options, including two saying, "Stop struggling or I'll kill you", but one is marked with "Truth" and one with "Lie". If you tell the truth, it makes you more lawful and evil. If you lie, it makes you more chaotic.) Second, because the game takes place in a plane where belief affects reality, getting enough people to believe in a lie makes it the truth. A notable example is that the Nameless One can tell people his name is Adahn. Telling enough people that lie will result in an NPC named Adahn showing up out of nowhere.
    • It probably doesn't get any straighter then this: you cannot sell stolen goods at all. Even if the store is on the other plane of existence from the crime scene you'll still receive an "I don't receive stolen goods" reply. Such level of awareness makes you suspect a case of Hive Mind. Or a remarkably efficient law enforcement system with instant and widespread notification about crimes...
  • Mostly averted throughout the Geneforge series: the general population doesn't know what you've done unless it directly affects their own lives. Characters with an organization that can provide them intelligence know more about you if you've done anything significant to their own organization, but even they can't know everything. It's very possible to work for all factions at the same time, at least up to a Point of No Return.
    • Then again, a lot of actions, including ones that are supposed to be secret, have an effect on your reputation.
    • Also, a flaw common to all Spiderweb Software RPGs is that items tagged as “not yours” will cause the entire town to turn on you the instant you steal them, even if nobody sees you take them.
      • Not so (perhaps just in the later games): If you're out of line of sight of everyone (and if possible, best to shut the door behind you) you can get away with wanton acts of theft. Of course, this doesn't include items in a box or chest that's been trapped with an alarm.
  • Mana Khemia Alchemists Of Alrevis uses this as a gameplay element. There's an NPC that deals in rumors; you pay him to get a different rumor assigned to you. They have varying effects, ranging from cheaper item prices, to increasing all stats, to increasing item effectiveness. After doing specific things (fight 200 battles, get past part in storyline, get A's in class, and so forth), you unlock different rumors.
  • Subverted in Wizardry 8. You can work for both the T'Rang and the Umpani, who are mortal enemies, without either finding out you're double-crossing them because the headquarters of the two races are far away from each other. However one of the races has a spy that has infiltrated the others so you need to be extra careful. Additionally, one NPC who specialises in getting and spreading news can inform the races of what you're up to. You can bribe her, at which point she'll keep the information to herself.
  • Civilians will run in fear of evil characters and beg for help from good characters in inFamous no matter where they were when you were being a good guy. Moving to a newer area of town, such as The Warren, for the first time and being worshipped like a hero is a little strange. Even if news did travel, why would anyone believe stories about a guy who can shoot lightning out of his hands?
    • Also, Zeke phones you about things that are happening in the town. Said things always seem to happen immediately after you finish a sidequest.
  • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: There's a guy in Dewford Town who wants to know a trendy phrase. If you succeed in creating this amazing new phrase, everyone in the house above him will know, a picture about it will have been painted, a town event for it will be being planned, and there is licensed merchandise for it. All in the two seconds it takes for you to walk into the house.
    • In the remakes, whatever you do shows up on the updated Pokenav's newscast app. It's almost Paranoia Fuel to think about it though...
    • In the fourth generation (HeartGold/SoulSilver, specifically), a certain character will call you about having cleared the radio tower of Team Rocket almost as soon as you finish.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, as soon as you win the first tournament at Olympus Coliseum, the Moogle in the Accessory shop will know.
  • In Half-Life the scientists and guards all seem to know Gordon. They all know about the player's exploits, what has happened, and that he needs to reach the Lambda Complex to avert the catastrophe, even while there are aliens and government soldiers crawling all over, and that they've spent the entire day cowering in a supply closet or some such place.
    • This is at least partially justified, though not very well, by one of the scientists saying that they've been using the security system to track him.
  • Averted in the first Knights of the Old Republic game. If you go to Korriban after learning that you, the player, are Revan, and you try to tell this to a guard on the Sith academy, he won't believe you.
  • In a variation, in Mass Effect series completing a sidequest will seemingly immediately create the intended effect even when this shouldn't be in any way possible. For example, in Mass Effect 3 you can find a Salarian scientist discussing the possibility of cloning extinct Kakliosaurus as mounts for the toxic environment, and if you bring him a skull of the creature, he will comment on the success of the project the next time you speak with him, even if it's only seconds later.
    • It's lampshaded at one point in the first game, when you arrive on Noveria. You check in with Parasini at the front desk and take the elevator downstairs. Right next to it is a shopkeeper who instantly knows who you are, and one of the dialogue options is "News travels fast here."
  • Averted multiple times in the Jak and Daxter series. After Jak defeats the Metal Head leader at the end of Jak II: Renegade, no one in Spargus City knows who he is when he arrives there. And after he saves the world at the end of Jak 3: Wastelander, people in Kras City only know him for his racing exploits.
  • Similar to the Mana Khemia example above, in Persona 2, you can hire a detective to spread rumors which change the world. As soon as you plunk down 3000 yen on the detective's desk, the rumor is spread city-wide and has come true, whatever it's about. However, news of plot events tends to spread much more gradually, averting this trope as well, and the savvy player can even guess a couple upcoming plot twists based on how the rumors of your own exploits get exaggerated and twisted in the retelling. It's extremely paranoia-inducing to watch and wonder how it will play out.
  • Lampshaded in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. After catching the Remembrall and being made Gryffindor Seeker, the next part of the game involves you going to visit Hagrid. One of the first things he greets you with is, "Congratulations on making the Quidditch team! Word travels fast around Hogwarts."
  • Fallout:
    • Major events in Fallout: New Vegas are talked about by NPCs. For instance, if NCR President Aaron Kimball is assassinated, or if the train from Camp McCarran to the Strip is destroyed. Justified if you kill or disable Mr. House, as immediately upon his death Mr House's computer system broadcasts a lengthy and self-aggrandizing pre-prepared eulogy to all computer systems capable of reading it (including the player's pip-boy).
    • In Fallout 3, Three Dog's news announcements are basically 100% about the player character's actions, which he knows about in minute detail. You can finish a quest and hear him talking about it seconds later. That last part applies equally to Mr. New Vegas' news in New Vegas.
    • In Fallout 2's Playable Epilogue, even if you immediately get in your Highwayman after coming ashore and haul ass to New Reno or Vault City, everyone in town is already singing your praises for defeating the Enclave (though perhaps a bit justified since there's some fourth-wall breaking involved.)
  • Averted in the 2014 update for Dwarf Fortress. The game uses a system of conversations between NPCs to simulate the realistic spread of rumors, so if, for instance, you kill all the witnesses to your criminal activities before they leave the map, as well as everyone those witnesses spoke to in the meantime, the world will not find out about them.
  • World of Warcraft plays this similar to The Elder Scrolls with the strange hive-mind of factions:
    • Played with in an interesting way with the Steemwheedle Cartel. If you say, go around making Booty Bay hate you, you will start making the other members of this faction hate you, but the other neutral cities' factions will decrease slower. It does, however, go the other way around as well - becoming liked in Booty Bay does not mean that everyone in Winterspring or Gadgetzan will suddenly like you, but they might recognise you as a friend to Booty Bay.
      • The Bloodsail Buccaneers as well - Funny enough, getting liked by them means you get hated by Booty Bay, yet they somehow know that you're getting in friendly with the Bloodsail buccaneers.
    • Played entirely straight for Death Knights. Death Knights start out hated by every major sub-faction of their faction, and city guards&civilians will throw food and shout at you when they see you enter. But the second you simply turn in a piece of paper to the person in charge, everyone instantly forgives you, even people on the other continent.
  • In Spore, should you ally with the Grox in the space stage, every empire in the galaxy will instantly know and react accordingly.
  • In Papers, Please, if you mistakenly approve, deny or detain someone, your higher-ups are able to not only figure out that you've done so, but exactly what detail you overlooked, and issue a penalty before the person's even left the screen. However, the original idea was for mistakes to be notified at the end of the day or the beginning of the next one (and thus the player could be hit with a ton of penalties or even termination after thinking they had done everything right), so this can be considered an improvement.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, whenever some new detail about the protagonist and the Barbarossa incident comes up or a new tidbit about his life is leaked, news stories about whatever it is appear within hours. Justified, as the protagonist was a minor celebrity before the incident, and the incident itself was widely covered for both his involvement and the loss of life therein.

    Web Original 
  • Noob: La Quête Légendaire: Omega Zell is in the middle of a Fictional Video Game questline in which he regularly has to report to his Quest Giver. After a task that consisted of fighting another player from a specific calss, the Quest Giver makes a comment about the battle and Omega Zell asks him how he can know how it went if he wasn't actually there. The Quest Giver replies that he's omniscient, then gives Omega Zell his next task.

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in Doug. After Roger uses Doug's borrowed press pass to publish a mean article, everyone but Doug knows about it, and he is mystified as to why everyone suddenly seems to hate him.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Candace's friend texts everybody she knows to tell them Candace became a Goth (which was actually a misunderstanding). She winds up getting fifty replies in about one second, and one second after that, Candace gets a call from her other friend about the issue.
  • In Drawn Together, Clara tells Toot and Foxxy a secret, which they promise not to tell anyone. Before they even leave the room, everyone in the house is banging on the door saying Toot told them about Clara's secret. Toot admits it.
  • From The Simpsons:
    • In "Homer the Vigilante":
    Bart: The burglar even took my stamp collection.
    Lisa: You had a stamp collection?!
    [family laughs; phone rings and Bart answers]
    Nelson: [over phone] Stamp collection? Haw haw!
    • In "Homer's Night Out", Bart secretly snaps a photo of Homer and Princess Kashmir, and he only shares this with Milhouse, but soon, the picture is photocopied and spread throughout Springfield, making notoriety out of Homer.
  • In the infamous Family Guy episode "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven", once it's announced that Brian is an atheist, CARS are thrown through the house.
  • In the American Dad! episode "White Rice", Francine's show is cancelled after one Asian joke because there was an uproar by the Asian community. The show is immediately taken off the air in the middle of the episode, less than a second after the joke is made.
  • Archer has this by virtue of resident gossip Pam Poovey, and best exemplified in the second season with "Stage Two", when Malory is privately sharing news of a breast cancer diagnosis she received. Pam starts texting immediately.
    Cheryl/Carol: Breast cancer!? Oh, you poor thing!
    Malory: Pam! ("What?") What is wrong with you?
    Pam: I can't help it, it's like a disease.
    [Beat, starts texting again]
    Malory: Pam!
    Pam: Do you not know what "disease" means? Oh, sorry, I forgot you might have—

    Real Life 
  • Television, newspaper, the Internet, radio, Facebook, Twitter, and where else you can get fast news and information around the world in the modern era.
    • Theoretically, Twitter updates about an earthquake can spread outward from the epicentre faster than the actual shockwaves themselves. xkcd analyzes this.
    • Upon Michael Jackson's death, Twitter crashed.
  • A very sad and all too common occurrence in the 2010s and on: Because of social media it's possible to learn of a mass shooting as it is happening, and from people who are actually hiding from the shooter.


Video Example(s):


Rachel Goes Viral

An influencer spots billionaire Nick Young with his girlfriend at a restaurant and takes a picture. Over the next minute, it goes viral all the way around the world in Singapore. Nick's mom hears and calls him about it before Nick and Rachel have even finished eating.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / NewsTravelsFast

Media sources: