Follow TV Tropes


Now You Tell Me

Go To

"Oh, in case you got covered in that Repulsion Gel, here's some advice the lab boys gave me - (sound of rustling paper) "do NOT get covered in the Repulsion Gel." We haven't entirely nailed down what element it is yet, but I'll tell you this, it's a lively one, and it does not like the human skeleton."
Cave Johnson, Portal 2

A comedy gag where a character gets a warning to not perform a certain act or a heads-up about something nasty coming his way, but just too late for it to be useful. Either disaster has already occurred or it's too late to take the action back, and the disaster is moments away. Sometimes, for extra silliness, the nature of the warning is obscured until the discouraged action is taken, such as a message on the screen that warns you not to read the screen. Alternatively, the warned character might refuse to listen to the message until they're done with what they're doing... which is exactly what the warning was to be about.


Can also be Played for Drama, often creating a very stinging sense of irony. It can also overlap with Remembered Too Late.

Compare Can't You Read the Sign? and You Didn't Ask.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • A rather non-comedic use of this trope (or perhaps a Black Comedy use) shows up in Ranma ½. Genma Saotome doesn't read the next page of the training manual detailing the Neko-ken, which says that the technique is impressive sounding, but non-functional, until after he's already trained his six-year-old son Ranma in it. Oh, and it isn't just useless, it causes permanent mental damage to the trainee, afflicting them with a permanent and deeply rooted phobia of cats.
  • Used in Dragonball Z before Goku and Vegeta fuse bodies to battle Super Buu, Goku mentions to Vegeta that the fusion is permanent.
    Vegeta: Imbecile, you tell me now? Don’t you think that’s important information!?
  • Ryuk of Death Note does this repeatedly with Light when he uses the Death Note.
    Light: He waits until now to mention that detail? Damn Shinigami!
  • Slayers uses this when the gang is hunting through a dungeon of some sort. Lina is reading warnings out of a book, and Gourry keeps picking up on the first half of the warning instead of the whole. The first warning is something like "Pressing the button... is something you should not do." For the second, Gourry doesn't press the button, but the warning is something like "Don't walk past without pressing the button."
  • Happens a lot in Shukufuku no Campanella. Salsa will do something, and Ritos will tell her about a certain hazard too late for her to avoid it. Salsa shouts the trope name, which then brings Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress into things.
  • One Piece:
    • Happens from time to time with Vivi in the Alabasta arc, as she forgets to tell the party certain things at critical moments, like not mentioning what Mr. 2 looks like until after he leaves the ship.
    • Also Eyelashes the Camel has just delivered goods to the new enemy base ... and didn't tell the Straw Hats this until they had reached the old one.
    • Then there is hilarious end to the Skypeia saga when Conis kindly warns the crew they're about to fall...mere moments before the crew looks down and discovers nothing but 7,000 meters of sky between them and the sea below.
  • Happens in Kaiba's and Joey's first Duel in Yu-Gi-Oh! when Joey attacks with his monster which has a higher attack power than Kaiba's.
    Yugi: Wait! The Battle Ox is resistant to all Fire Type attacks!
    (Flame Swordsman is defeated)
    Joey: Now he tells me...
  • In the Pokémon episode "Dues And Don'ts", Ash checks Delibird in the Pokedex. It says Delibird has a attack called Present. Delibird gives Ash and friends glowing ball "presents", which a couple seconds later go off as bombs. Dexter adds that some of Delibird's Presents explode. Ash says "now you tell me".
  • In A Place Further than the Universe, Kimari, Shirase and Hinata head to Shinjuku, where some members of the civilian expedition to Antarctica will be meeting up, and plan on seducing one of the male members to get a spot on the trip. After Kimari fails miserably, Shirase vehemently refuses to try, but Hinata and Kimari shove her out of their hiding place, in front of the expedition members. Too late, they realize why Shirase refused- since she was the daughter of an expedition member who went missing (which is why she's so determined to go to Antarctica), and had tried to get into the expedition before, the expedition members recognize her.

    Fan Works 
  • This Bites!: Due to Luffy disliking spoilers to his adventures, a lot of Cross's canon knowledge is held off unless it's really important. This means that for most of the minor hiccups that happen in canon, Cross just lets them play out and then tells the crew after the fact.
    • He does use his knowledge to defuse Vivi's tendency to use this trope, though.

  • Death Becomes Her.
    Madeline Ashton: Bottoms up! (drinks potion)
    Lisle von Rhoman: Now, a warning...
    Madeline Ashton: NOW a warning?!
  • Back to the Future: Marty is blown across the room when he tries to hook up to the amplifier. Then the Doc calls and warns Marty not to do that.
  • The film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The owl that delivered Sirius' letter bites Harry on the hand. Then Harry reads the letter's postscript, which says "the bird bites".
  • We Were Soldiers: Moore puts out a call to his helicopter crews that the LZ is hot. Crandall, the lead pilot, receives the message at roughly the same time that bullets start pinging off his Huey's airframe.
  • I, Robot: Spooner is warned about an attacking robot, when said robot already has him by the throat.
  • In Doctor Strange (2016) after getting the villains hoisted by their own petard Strange repeats a line he said earlier when caught trying a spell from a restricted tome.
    Stephen Strange: They really should put the warnings before the spell.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron: Iron Man tries to warn Captain America that there are some drones attacking his position... after he's already been blasted into the side of a car.
    Iron Man: Cap, you've got incoming!
    Captain America: Incoming already came in!
  • In A View to a Kill, James Bond uses Stacey's shotgun to dispatch some mooks, who then get up right after. When Bond asks Stacey what the shotgun was loaded with, she responds with "Rock Salt". Cue Bond saying the trope word for word.

  • The Dresden Files has Harry go to a Red Court party, where Harry meets Thomas, a White Court vamp. After drinks are served, Thomas quickly goes to Harry to tell him to not drink anything, as it's been spiked with Red Court venom. Thomas then looks at Harry's empty glass. "Oh." Harry, showing more sense than most, finds a potted plant and throws up into it. He still doesn't feel well, but the lower dose allows him to get better.
  • During the Hank the Cowdog story The Secret Laundry Monster Files, Eddy the Rac rescues Hank from an attempted drowning at the hands of his cousin Bubba. He then tells Hank that Bubba hates dogs and he should never tangle with him in the water.
    Hank [with a stern glare]: That's great advice, Eddy. Too bad you weren't around ten minutes ago when it might have done some good.
  • The story "The Cold Equations" has a tragic example, when the stowaway learns that the penalty is being Thrown Out the Airlock because the ship has no safety margin to accommodate her extra mass.
  • In a Nancy Drew Files book, Nancy and the Guy Of The Book have been tied up and left to die on a boat rigged to explode. When they free themselves, Nancy explains that they have to jump and swim for it, at which point he tells her, "I can't swim". She responds by name-dropping this tropes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Fear Itself", while the gang is attempting to stop the demon possessing a Halloween haunted house, Giles reads that "there are two ways of stopping the demon from being fully summoned. Destroying the mark of Gachnar—". Buffy promptly tears up the floorboards that the symbol is painted on. Giles continues "—is not one of them and will in fact bring forth the fear demon itself." Oops. Of course, the demon in question is only six inches tall.
  • Variation on Angel. Cordelia is snooping around an empty house when she has a vision of being attacked by a big ugly demon. As she recovers from the headache, she turns around and finds herself face to face with the very same. "Real helpful!" * Concussion*
  • On Happy Days there was a note saying "Don't close the garage door, it's broken" posted on the garage door.
  • In M*A*S*H, during a Wire Dilemma, while reading from a manual:
    Blake: Next, clip the blue wire, just above second lug nut.
    Hawkeye: The blue wire, the blue wire... (clip)
    Blake: But first remove the fuse...
  • From Red Dwarf
    Holly: Hey up, I've forgotten what I was going to say now.
    Rimmer: Well, it can't be that important, then, can it? (ship shakes, everyone is thrown across the room)
    Holly: That's it, yeah. "Look out, a meteor is about to hit the ship." I knew it would come back to me.
  • In the classic Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", the seemingly uncontrollably reproducing Tribbles have just eaten the entire stock of a space station's supply of genetically engineered grain. Moments later, McCoy enters and shouts "I've got it! All we have to do is quit feeding them! We quit feeding them, they stop breeding!" A Tribble-covered Kirk replies "Now he tells me."
  • Drake & Josh
    • In one episode, Helen lets Josh pet her hamster, but tells him too late that it bites.
    • In another one, Josh is baking smores and tells Drake not to take any, Drake says he wont while taking one to his mouth, while Josh adds that he just took them out of the oven at 250 degrees.
  • In a Sliders episode where the main characters end up in a world where magic is real. During the final fight, the Big Bad turns into a dragon and starts breathing fire, pinning the sliders and his reluctant assistant behind a table. She point to a sword on the wall and says that this is the only weapon that can kill the sorcerer. Cue Rembrandt running for the sword, only to utterly fail at moving it. He runs back, and she continues that only a Mallory can wield it. Rembrandt is visibly annoyed at the late warning.
  • An episode of Full House has Stephanie taking a pretend drive in Joey's car. Thinking the "R" on the gearshift turns on the radio (it actually reverses the car), she backs the car through the kitchen window. Joey later admits the radio doesn't work.
  • A Muppet Family Christmas has a Running Gag about people entering Mrs. Bear's house being warned to be "Careful of the icy patch" after they've already fallen.
  • When Brent of Corner Gas becomes a food critic for the Ruby's daily specials, he gives a scathing review of a plate of macaroni and cheese while his mother is sitting behind him, becoming visibly incensed. Lacy then points out it was his mother's food, not the Ruby's.
    Brent: That would have been useful information eleven seconds ago.
  • The ending of season one of Blackadder where Percy and Baldrick don't realize they poisoned the wine supply of the entire castle (in their plan to assassinate the Big Bad) until after nearly every other cast member has drunken it and died.
  • This line was said by Vicki of Small Wonder all the time. Understandable, since she was a robot girl and not always familiar with American idioms - she used to take things literally.
  • From Paul Merton: The Series -
    For 3 days and 3 nights we marched over open country, marching over mountains, marching under streams, from the Arctic Circle to the Sahara desert. We marched and marched and marched, until at last it was time to open our sealed orders.
    *reads* "Don't march anywhere."
  • In the NCIS episode "Twenty Klicks," Ducky and Palmer find a microcard in the body of IT Kevin's uncle. Abby plugs it into a protected laptop, but still unleashes a computer virus on steroids. A few minutes later, Gibbs calls and tells HQ not to open anything on the card.

  • The Goon Show episode "Dishonoured Again":
    Eccles: Land ahead!
    Eccles: I shoulda said dat sooner, shouldn't I?

    Video Games 
  • Done quite subtly in Modern Warfare 2.
    Price: (over radio) "Ghost! Come in, this is Price! We're under attack by Shepherd's men at the boneyard! Soap, hold the left flank! Do not trust Shepherd! I say again, do not trust Shepherd! Soap, get down..!"
    • Of course, you learn this after Shepherd and his men have shot Roach/you and Ghost, and are busy dousing you in gasoline and setting you on fire.
  • In Mass Effect, there's a side quest where you scan the Keepers, mysterious insectoid creatures that maintain the space station. As it turns out, The Keepers were created by the Abusive Precursors and will let them come into Citadel space to destroy all organic life. If you complete the side quest, you get an email in the second game that gives you this info two years after it would have been useful. But it does demonstrate that the Council is Too Dumb to Live and It's Up to You.
    • In Legion's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2 you are given the option to break into the heretic geth mainframe and release a high-energy signal pulse to rewrite them into accepting the beliefs of the true geth.
    Legion: Alert: The energy pulse will be hazardous to unshielded organics. Addendum: The interior of this station is not shielded.
    Shepard: I really wish you'd told me that before.
  • In The Last of Us, after fighting through an infected infested sewer, you get outside, turn around, and see a warning "INFECTED INSIDE! DO NOT ENTER!" Ellie says the trope upon pointing this out.
  • Subverted in Saints Row: The Third. During the mission "Trojan Whores", Oleg calls to warn The Boss about a raid about to occur. However, the raid has already occurred and the call comes after the last wave has been defeated. After The Boss tells Oleg about this, he replies "I should have known you could handle a few helicopters." The helicopters haven't attacked yet.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Church, having traveled back in time, leaves a recorded message of what not to do and the consequences if the others do it in an alien base. All of it happens right as he's speaking it, prompting Caboose to beg "Stop saying these things! Or at least... say them sooner." To the recording.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Noob: La Quête Légendaire: In the middle of a questline, the main group's Blood Knight start losing it because there has been virtually nothing to fight so far and she's getting bored. She pretty much breaks down when the next quest turns out to be playing the guide to a Non-Player Character, so the group's leader gives her leave to go the frontlines of an ongoing war against the antagonist faction. Right after she leaves, the rest of the group accepts the quest and finds out it's actually an Escort Mission.

    Western Animation 
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures, a boat collides with the shore and Plucky falls out onto the beach. Then Babs calls out, "Land ho!" leading Plucky to grumble, "Now she tells me."
    • In the episode, "Citizen Max", which is a Whole Plot Reference to Citizen Kane, except instead of "Rosebud", Hamton spends the whole show trying to find out why Montana Max said "Acme". At the very end, Monty himself calls out to them from his mansion and informs them that they misheard him. He was actually saying "acne" because he had developed a really bad breakout.
      Hamton: (Facepalm) Now, he tells me!
  • In Futurama, Fry is sent to deliver a package to the Emperor of a desert planet. He drinks from the first bottle he sees when he arrives in the throne room, which turns out to be their emperor (the aliens are liquids). Thus, according to the culture's laws, he is appointed the new Emperor for having killed the previous one. The package he originally came to deliver is now for him so he opens it and finds a sign reading "don't drink the emperor", which he hangs next to dozens of the same sign in various alien languages.
  • One of the Road Runner vs. Coyote cartoons sees Wile E. Coyote feeding the Road Runner a bunch of Acme Earthquake Pills. When this doesn't do anything to the Road Runner, Coyote swallows the rest of the pills in disgust. Only then does he notice the small print on the bottle: "Caution: Not Effective On Road Runners". At which point the Earthquake Pills start to take effect on Coyote with (of course) hilariously disastrous consequences.
  • In The New Batman Adventures episode Joker's Millions, Harley delivers this great line:
    Joker: I thought I told you to get gas!
    Joker: *nodding* Mm-hmm.
    Harley: *beat* NOW ya tell me!
  • Batman Beyond, when Terry is fighting Mad Stan:
    Bruce: Be careful, McGinnis. Once he's on a rant he's unstoppable.
    Terry: Thanks for telling me now.
  • In DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, Scrooge asks Launchpad, "You mean you never took flying lessons?" Launchpad says, "Well, I took a crash course." Scrooge, facepalming, says, "Now he tells me."
  • The Looney Tunes cartoon "Tick Tock Tuckered" has Porky and Daffy efforting to not be late for work with the threat of termination looming over their heads. They arrive to their workplace on time, only to find a sign that says that it's closed because it's Saturday. (Daffy: " he tells me!") Similarly done in the short's original edition, "Porky's Badtime Story" (with Porky and Gabby Goat, where they just shrug).
    • Daffy gets another in the Merrie Melodies short "Don't Axe Me". He's about to get cooked for dinner by Elmer and his wife, only for their guest to announce he's a vegetarian. Daffy, who at this point got all his feathers ripped off, says this and leaves in disgust.
    • In "Tortoise Wins by a Hare", a bunch of gangster rabbits stop Bugs from crossing the finish line because of his turtle disguise and get Cecil to win because of his rabbit disguise. When Bugs takes off his disguise in front of them, the rabbits say " he tells us" and proceed to shoot themselves.
    • Also, in a Speedy Gonzales short, two cats decide to capture Speedy's cousin Slowpoke Rodriquez. One cat tries to warn him of something, but the other cat ignores it and tries to eat Slowpoke, only for the mouse to shoot him in the face. When the cat says he meant to tell him that Slowpoke's a fast shooter, the other cat says this to the camera.
  • In the House of Mouse short "How to Haunt a House", Goofy puts a bedsheet over his head to scare Donald, only to mess up from not being able to see through the sheet. The narrator then tells Goofy to put eyeholes in the sheet, promoting him to say this.
  • In one episode of Phineas and Ferb, Dr. Doofenshmirtz yells this when he uses the ejector seat on a robotic dragon vehicle and its computer tells him that it doesn't come with a parachute.
    • In another episode, Candace has the boys build one of their inventions to find out where it disappears to whenever she tries to bust them. At the end of the episode, she says this after Ferb tells her even doing nothing can have an effect.
  • Danger Mouse: "The Great Bone Idol" has Count Duckula in the Himalayas looking for the great Gnuru. When he shouts "IS THERE ANYBODY THERE?!", he has an avalanche of snow topple on top of him.
    Gnuru: You in area of avalanche.
    Duckula: (to us) Now he tells me!
    • "Duckula Meets Frankenstoat" has DM and Penfold observing Dr. Frankenstoat in his laboratory. When the doctor leaves, DM hops down from the balcony ledge. Penfold does likewise:
    DM: And don't forget to bend your knees... (off-screen thud; cut to Penfold, who has landed on his back)
    Penfold: Now he tells me!
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: In "Zilly's a Dilly" (in which the coward Zilly is hypnotized into being brave), Klunk explains his lightning bolt shooting invention on the planes. Dastardly touches the antenna and gets shocked by it, in spite of Klunk's warning which was naturally a lot of weird sounds.
    Zilly: He also said not to touch it! When you want to shoot a lightning bolt, push the button on the dash!
    Dastardly: Now he tells me!
  • South Park: In the first Halloween Episode, the town is plagued by zombies created as a result of Worcester sauce accidentally being used as embalming fluid at the morgue. Stan calls the company's help line and the man on the other end says "The first thing, and this is very important, is not to go killing zombies left and right". Stan looks up and sees Kyle and Cartman doing exactly that, and simply says "...Okay..."
  • In one episode of Freakazoid!, stupid alien Mo-Ron would bumble around between shorts, trying to remember an important message he's supposed to deliver, but forgot. At the very end of the episode, he finally remembers what the message was; A comet's about to crash onto that very spot! As everyone around flees for their lives, all Freakazoid can grumble is, "Now he tells us!"
  • In Over the Garden Wall The first few episodes have Wirt, Greg and Beatrice trying to find a witch named Adelaide who can seemingly get the former two back home and restore the latter to her human self. It ultimately turned out to be a trap due to Adelaide trying to enslave the boys. They managed to beat her and Wirt and Greg meet an old woman and her niece in the following episode. After solving that episode's situation and the two prepare to continue their journey, the old woman reveals that Adelaide is her evil sister and to avoid her at all costs. Wirt's expression, understandably, has this trope all over it.
  • In Toy Story 3, when Lotso is first giving Woody and his friends a tour of Sunnyside Daycare, the tour passes through the little kids' bathroom and Lotso cautions them to "Watch out for puddles." His warning comes a split-second after Mr. Potato Head has already slipped and splashed.

    Real Life 
  • Shrink wrap contracts, contracts that can only be read after opening the packaging of their product. Of course, if you decide not to agree to the contract, you can't return the product, because you just opened its packaging.
    • These contracts are generally held to be unenforceable in the EU; in the US the issue is still debated. Either way, most places will still let you return the product if you disagree with the contract.
    • Of course it contracts. If it didn't, it wouldn't be shrink wrap, now would it? (Rim Shot)
    • Some CD envelopes are sealed with a sticker that claims 'breaking this seal constitutes acceptance of the EULA,' which of course you can't read because it's on the disc that's sealed in. Some people do not take this sitting down.
  • Truth in Television or Urban Legend? A zoo allegedly had a sign on its monkey enclosure reading, "Warning: These monkeys steal glasses." Of course, this mostly happened whenever anyone wearing glasses leaned forward to read the sign....
  • Intelligence sent warning of the impending Imperial Japanese surprise-attack upon the United States' Pacific Fleet through civilian channels. By the time they got it, a day late, half the fleet was underwater and the Nipponese were long-gone.
    • The Japanese Ambassador was supposed to deliver a declaration that they considered the negotiations - it's complicated - to be over right before the attack was to take place. However, the final declaration was 5000 characters long; consequently the Embassy failed to meet the unrealistic deadline they had been given. It did not help that the Embassy used native Japanese typists, rather than the usual locals out of fears of espionage, which dragged out the time needed to type and transmit the message even longer. Moreover, just when they had finally gotten it all written down and printed out on nice paper and everything, the ambassador got stuck in traffic....
      • Amusingly, the fact that the US had thoroughly broken the Japanese Diplomatic Cypher (codenamed Purple) meant Signals Intelligence had the declaration before the Japanese ambassador.
    • This was shown in the film Pearl Harbor - this being one of the few accurate and worthwhile bits to it. In the film, the Naval Intelligence officer reaches the conclusion that the Japanese attack is imminent, and the warning reaches the President a few hours after it already occurred.
    • An American destroyer, USS Ward, engaged and sank a Japanese midget submarine trying to follow another ship into Pearl Harbor, and radioed a report of the encounter. A request for confirmation was sent back, and due to delays in encryption, transmission, and decryption, the confirmation report wasn't read until after the air attack had begun (assuming, of course, that a confirmed report of an attempted submarine infiltration would necessarily have put them on guard for an air attack.)
  • Japan got their own one of these, entirely self-inflicted, after the Battle of Midway. This battle was such a complete curb-stomp of the Imperial Japanese Navy by the U.S. Navy that the IJN tied themselves in knots keeping it a secret, even from their own army and government. The Imperial Japanese Army completely believed the Navy's claims that they had won a great victory and planned for further invasions based on the idea that all the carriers had survived the battle and could provide air support. It was only after months of delay and the Army asking the Navy why the operations weren't proceeding as planned that they found out the truth. Then they joined with the Navy in keeping it a secret from the government for even longer. Prime Minister Tojo, who had thought the war was proceeding according to plan and that the Americans were being decimated, didn't find out the truth until months after the Army did. Witnesses say that he basically suffered a BSOD when he realized how completely fucked Japan was at that point.
  • After the Canadian Football League pulled the plug on their expansion into the United States in 1995, the players on those teams were placed into a dispersal draft. Unknown to the league at the time, one player (Derrell Robertson) had been killed in an auto accident a couple months earlier. The Ottawa Rough Riders drafted him, then set about trying to reach him. When they couldn't for obvious reasons, they reported it to the league. Said Ottawa's head coach, "the league didn't know he was dead until we told them, and we didn't know until we couldn't find him."
  • A common anecdote. Your mom serves you food and you take a bite, and your whole mouth burns. Then your mother warns you that it's hot.
  • During the shooting of The Empire Strikes Back, this was practically director Irv Kirschner's Catch-Phrase whenever one of the special effects failed spectacularly. R2-D2 is skidding all over the place? We didn't test to see if it could run on the artificial snow of the Echo Base set. One of the X-Wing's wings snapping off while Yoda is lifting it from the swamp, in full view of a horrified George Lucas? We forgot to test if the model could withstand being underwater. "Now you tell me!" Irv would snap.


Example of: