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...Or So I Heard

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"Vince McMahon did stage his own death a couple of years ago, his limo blew up. How do I know that? I read it in a... in a book somewhere. I wouldn't have known it otherwise." [clears throat]
Chris Cotter, FOX Business

A trope wherein a character delivers some advice or information relating to a field which it would be incredibly embarrassing or contrary to their public image to know. For instance, Mannfred M. Manly informs you on the plot of the latest My Little Pony episode, or Miss Chastity McInnocence blurts out directions for Amsterdam's red light district. Whatever the subject and whomever the person, they then try to cover up their association with it by appending "Or So I Heard", "or so I've been told", "I read it in an article", etc.

Please do not pothole links to here where they don't belong.

Related to Suspiciously Specific Denial, It's for a Book, Shameful Source of Knowledge, and I Have This Friend. Similar to Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy in cases where the character wants to downplay his association with the "guy" in question. Compare …But He Sounds Handsome and Verbal Backspace.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Case Closed - After giving a lengthy rant on subjects a six year old definitely shouldn't know about, Conan covers up (or at least, tries to) by saying "At least, that's what it said on TV!" (or something similar).
  • I Think Our Son Is Gay: When Hiroki, who's in the Transparent Closet, realizes he's been telling his mother what he finds attractive in a man, he tries to pass it off as relaying the opinions of the girls in his class. She is not fooled.

    Comic Books 
  • Tonto says this when he is called out by the Lone Ranger in Dynamyte's comic book series.
  • Preacher: Cassidy, the Vampire — "This gravy tastes like semen.." Seeming to understand the implication of his choice of words hastily adds "Or so I'd imagine". This becomes a Harsher in Hindsight moment when Jesse learns more about his friend's history than he'd care to know.

  • In Vacation 1975 a time-traveling Harry who's pretending to be Snape's future son comments that the then-current Divination professor is probably miles better than Sybill Trelawney.
    Harry: She is a complete fraud. She spends most of her time predicting her students' deaths; all you need to do to pass her class is predict your own death in the most gruesome way. Or...well, you know, that's what I've heard.
  • Like Broken Glass:
    Luna: Divination has been turned into a sham in recent decades but true Seers can indeed see parts of the future. It's rather difficult as the images keep changing or so I've read.
  • In Meddling of a Mischief Maker Voldemort, having physically reverted to a seventeen-year-old after reabsorbing most of his Horcruxes, attends Hogwarts as a sixth-year transfer student under the name Thomlyn Moore.
    Thomlyn: Hogwarts has always been terrible about actually teaching the students to understand their magical core and how to connect with it... or so I've been told.
  • Early in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, when Ash seems confused about the special treatment he gets just because he owns a Pokédex, Misty gives him a small lecture about their value, how Pokémon Professors assemble them by hand and how they're usually given to trainers who end up rather prominent such as Cynthia and Alder. Ash gives her a look and Misty (a bit embarrassed) says she read it in National Poké-Geographic magazine.
  • My Old Kentucky Home:
    Sirius: So how would Peter or Bella know about this Hardy place?
    Thomas: Its an old ghost town. It used to be a mining company town until someone blew up the mine and burned the owner's house. Almost everyone knows about it in the area.
    Sirius: And this Massie person that owns it? Will they say anything?
    Lily: Massey is a big corporation that bought out a lot of the smaller mines in the area. If we do it right they'll never even know we're there.
    Harry: Yeah its too creepy to be a good make out spot and security checks on the place too often for any of the potheads to do any growing there. Or so I've heard.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Corpse Bride song "Remains of the Day", "You don't need much when you're really in love/except for a few things, or so [Bonejangles is] told/like the family jewels and a satchel of gold".

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Choose Me: Nancy's friends and acquaintances do not know that she is "Dr. Nancy Love", the host of a late-night radio call-in show where people call her for advice with their love lives. She is telling Mickey how she thinks Dr. Love is a case of The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes, when she realizes she's giving too much away.
    "She can help others, but not herself, she gives advice to the lovelorn all day, but she's never been in love herself...or so I've heard."
  • Mr. Deeds: features Deeds telling his butler, Emilio, that he dreamt about a girl he liked, after an entire night of drinking booze. Emilio anwers, "Usually, when you're black out drunk, you don't dream" which elicits a suspicious stare from Deeds. Emilio then explains " I read".
  • Serenity: Inverted during a dialog in the Firefly movie, to show a character's Hidden Depths.
    Mal: Yes, I've read a poem. Try not to faint.
  • Sister Act:
    Sister Mary Lazarus: I'd rather sing than do anything.
    Sister Mary Patrick: It’s better than ice cream!
    Sister Mary Lazarus: It’s better than springtime!
    Deloris (as Sister Mary Clarence): It’s Better than Sex! [Beat]. No, no, I’ve heard.
  • Early on in Speed, Jack wonders why the villain set a bomb off early, and Harry speculates he "probably couldn't hold his wad. It's a common problem among middle-aged men... or so I'm told."

  • Discworld: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, regarding a printing company of excellent quality.
    "They're the very devil to forge, I know that," said Moist. "Or so I've been told," he added quickly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: Jack and Tracy find out that Liz has been taking pain medication. To find out why, Jack asks Tracy what building is next to Penn Station. Tracy says "The Manhattan Center for Penis Enlargement? I know because my friend goes there. His name is Tracy".
  • In an early episode of Angel, Doyle tries to talk Angel into wearing a magical ring that makes him invulnerable to sunlight, and comes out with:
    I know a couple of strip clubs that have a fabulous luncheon buffet... I mean, it's... I've heard.
  • Ashes to Ashes (2008): "It's like something out of a German porn film... apparently."
  • Bones: Not referring to a work of fiction specifically, but does reference this.
    Booth: Yeah, well, a woman finds out a man is cheating on her, she can get really angry. (Others stare at him) That's what I heard, okay?
  • Detective Beckett in Castle says this after making reference to Showgirls.
    • Alexis also does this when speaking about a specific scene from a horror movie she's not supposed to have seen, fairly unsubtly.
      Alexis: If I'd seen it, which I haven't.
    • Even Castle himself does this once, regarding a phone sex line:
      Phone sex line dispatcher: It's not just about the sex. That's the part of this business most people don't understand. Guys call, girls call; they're looking for release. Sometimes, that release is sexual, but sometimes...
      Castle: It's therapy. Beat Or... so I've been told.
  • Cheers: When discussing Sam's bachelor party, Woody suggests having Diane jump out of a cake. Cliff claims that nobody would want their fiancée jumping out of a cake, as it's comparable to "taking your mother to the prom... or so I'm told".
  • During the opening of one episode of The Colbert Report, Colbert gives "a shout-out to all of my Bronies", followed by an insincere "And I do want to reiterate that I do not know what that means."
  • From Cops: L.A.C.:
    Samantha: Our dead stripper reported a break and enter about two months ago. Someone broke into his place, shredded his clothes and left him a message on the lounge room wall.
    Rhys: "Romnett liar"?
    Samantha: Yeah. He was living in Gladesville then. He moved soon after — can't blame him.
    Rhys: What's Romnett?
    Therese: It's an online dating agency. So I've been told.
    • Though she straight up admits to being a member later, after they find out someone is still using the victim's account.
  • CSI: Cyber: In "5 Deadly Sins," Brody mentions that one of the victims had been posting 'sex selfies' and explains these are photos taken during or immediately after sex. When Raven gives him a significant look, he awkwardly adds that he has read about them.
  • CSI: NY:
    • In "It Happened to Me," Adam gives an in-detail explanation of what a "food sploshing" party is before playing this trope hilariously straight. Adam does this a lot.
    • Flack does it as well in "Vigilante," as he and Lindsay arrive to question a woman at an exercise studio:
    Flack: Pole dancing is good cardio.
    Lindsay: [gives him a look]
    Flack: So I've heard.
  • DCI Banks: In "Ghosts", the squad are discussing the lap dancing club the Victim of the Week had visited before being murdered. Kenny wonders how a student could have afforded to go there, and mentions the exorbitant cover price. This earns him a significant look from DI Morton, and he adds "... or that's what I've been told".
  • Death in Paradise: In "In the Footsteps of a Killer", the team find credit card charges on the statement of one of the suspects from a business called Cupid's Arrow.
    JD: It's a high end lingerie shop on the other side of the island.
    (Curious looks from the other three)
    JD: So I've heard.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Runaway Bride", after the Doctor rescues Donna from being kidnapped by an evil robot Santa, she laments that they've missed her wedding service, and says she wishes he had a time machine so they could go back and change things. The Doctor mumbles that even if he did, he couldn't go back along someone's personal timeline — "apparently".
  • Father Ted: Uses this in one episode, wherein the titular character and his fellow priest, Father Dougal, accidentally find themselves in "Ireland's biggest lingerie section, I understand. Yeah I read that... somewhere." They then proceed to meet a number of other priests who have "accidentally" found themselves in the store, and the scene turns into a war film parody as Ted leads the band to escape out the fire exit without anyone noticing half a dozen priests surrounded by ladies' intimate items.
  • Firefly: when Shepherd Book is able to identify the exact kind of rifle used merely by examining the body killed by a gunshot, Jayne sarcastically asks how much shooting Book did at the Abbey. Book replies "Rabbits." without missing a beat (Jayne: "For stew, right."), but this is just one of many hints that Book has a very dark and violent past.
  • A variation appears in The Golden Girls, when Dorothy asks her prospective daughter-in-law's mother if it's true about black men in bed. Blanche shouts "Oh yes, definitely!" When everyone stares at her, she amends it to "Oh yes, definitely that is something I would like to know too."
  • The Gruen Transfer: When discussing the 'Black Friday' phenomenon, Wil says:
    Even drug dealers are offering Black Friday deals...Or so I hear
  • Subverted in an episode of Happy Endings, Max, Brad, and Penny complain about 'thumb-face' Larry. Brad doesn't like how he forcibly looks at his shirt tags, Penny doesn't like his repetitive stories, and Max has this to say...
    Max: Yeah, plus he's bad in bed.
    [Shocked looks from the others]
    Max: I've heard. From people. Who are me.
  • On an episode of Law & Order, Briscoe tells Curtis about a dockside location where detectives in the old days would go to waterboard difficult suspects. He immediately follows up with "or so I've heard."
    • In "Boy Gone Astray" an ex-boyfriend of ADA Connie Rubrirosa tells her and her boss information on various drug cartels. Quickly adding "So I hear" after each piece of information.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 12 Episode 9:
    Pharmacy employee: He looked a little young for a penis pump.
    Detective Fin Tutuola: One of those vacuum tube things they sell on the back of magazines to make you bigger... (seeing Stabler's smirk) or so I've heard.
    • "Lowdown" had Fin telling the others about the lifestyle of black men who have gay sex on the D.L. while living straight lives with wives and children. He then responds to their weird looks with "Don't look at me, I just know stuff."
  • One character on Little Britain is a retired actor who always steals his sister's Meals on Wheels dinners. He is very bad at hiding it, as he tends to praise the meals to the delivery boy's face, adding "Kitty said," when he realises he's almost given himself away.
  • M*A*S*H:
    Klinger: I get my lingerie from Chicago.
    Trapper: And it's beautiful... I hear.
  • In a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch about Nazis hiding in England:
    Landlady: This is Ron Vibbentrop.
    Mr. Johnson: Oh, not Von Ribbentrop, eh?
    "Ron Vibbentrop": (shouting) Nein! Nein! (calms down) Oh. Ha ha. Different other chap. I in Somerset am being born. Von Ribbentrop is born Gotterdammerstrasse 46, Dusseldorf Vest 8... so they say!
  • Motive: Happens twice while the team an investigating what appears to be a bondage session gone wrong in "Angels with Dirty Faces". Angie remarks that it is odd that the victim wasn't using quick-release handcuffs as bondage fetishists usually want an easy escape route, which earns a glance from Oscar and is followed by "Or so I've head". Later Betty is discussing the autopsy findings and says that the lack of drugs isn't unusual as downers would take the edge of the adrenaline rush you get from being tied up. This gets a glance from Angie and is followed by "Or so I've heard".
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
  • In the NCIS episode "Singled Out", McGee describes a speed dating service as "designed to introduce successful men to a wide assortment of eligible women. Each night brings the promise of romance and the chance of finding your soul mate." His team mates look at him questioningly and he hurriedly adds "...or so I've heard."
  • In an early episode of Seinfeld, Jerry and Elaine have been looking forward to seeing a film together, but when something comes up and Elaine can't make it, Jerry watches the film without her knowing, planning to watch it with her later and pretend he's seeing it for the first time... but after actually watching the movie, he tries to get out of seeing it again.
    Jerry: It's so bad, there's no story, it's really boring... I've heard.
  • Torchwood: uses this in the episode "Sleeper", when the Monster of the Week comments on Jack's bedside manner, Gwen responds "You should see his manners in bed, they're atrocious. Apparently, so I've heard..."
    Ianto: Oh, they are. I remember this one time —
    Jack: (coughs loudly)
  • White Collar:
    Neal: You'd need some muscle, a cargo plane, and a few grand in bribe money just to get started.
    Peter: You would?
    Neal: And who knows what else, because I have never considered stealing gems in Burma.

  • The lyrics of "California Earthquake" by Cass Elliot note  are full of these. It's bit of a hippie song and you can't quote seismologists without losing your aquarius cred.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • At ECW Guilty As Charged 99, January 10, 1999, "The Hardcore Chair-Swinging Freaks" Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney interrupted the match between The Full-Blooded Italians (Tracy Smothers and Little Guido Maritato) and "Dastardly" Danny Doring "The Angry Amish Warrior" Roadkill, with Axl saying that it looked like a "homosexual dance party." He did not explain how he would know what that would look like.note 

  • The Devil in Old Harry's Game does this whenever he is describing one of his own deeds while disguised as a mortal.
  • In an episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, the panellists are playing a game based on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire... except all about hats.
    Humph: Who is the odd one out of Henry Ford, Fred Astaire, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln? ...I'm sorry, Tim, the answer is Henry Ford. His hat size was six-and-seven-eights, and the others were all seven-and-one-eighths. And I have to tell you that these are all true, I don't believe this—six-and-seven-eights?
    Tim: That's tiny! That's a schoolboy's size! ...I'm told.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney: There's a running joke that Miles Edgeworth is a big fan of the tokusatsu Show Within a Show Steel Samurai, although he tries to distance himself from it. He invokes Or So I Heard a lot when the Steel Samurai and company becomes a major part of the final case of Ace Attorney Investigations.
  • Optional dialogue in Mass Effect 2 between Mordin and a krogan scientist. The real kicker is that Mordin actually did make the krogans more infertile by upgrading the genophage when it looked like the krogan were recovering.
    Mordin: Salarians created genophage - I've heard. Still trust them with medicines and agriculture?
    Fortack: Yeah, yeah, what else can the salarians do to us at this point? It's not like they can make us even more infertile. Actually, wait, forget I said anything.
  • In Dragon Age II, Isabela says a little too much if you bring her on the early Act II quest "Blackpowder Courtsey".
    "There's no way this Javaris stole from the Qunari. That's hard...I've heard."
  • How does Solas from Dragon Age: Inquisition know so much about historical events, court intrigue and godhood? Why, he saw it in the Fade, of course! Incidentally, one of the few times you gain disapproval for asking questions is when you come close to calling him out on this. That said, most of it really could come from seeing it in the Fade. He was asleep for centuries, and the Fade is the world of dreams...
  • Early in Final Fantasy XIII, Sazh explains bitterly that a l'Cie's Focus comes in a brief, hazy vision rather than as clear instructions. When Lightning and Snow stare at him, he throws his arms in the air and says "that's what they say, you know, legends and all." He knows because his son was turned into a l'Cie and has been under the study/care of government officials since... something he's not keen to divulge at this point since the party's Focus would necessarily be opposed to it.
  • In the Ensemble Stars! story titled Chuunibyou, Shinobu tries to utilise a couple of magic scrolls he's discovered, but Nazuna warns him against trying to use too many techniques in a row or his magical power will be drained...and then pauses and awkwardly comments, 'or isn't that the kind of rule you'd expect from a story like this?' leading Midori to wonder whether he also had a chuunibyou phase when he was younger.
  • In the CSI-verse video game "CSI: Hard Evidence"(2007), a matchbook is collected as a piece of evidence in Case 1, "Burning for You". Nick Stokes recognizes the name of a bar on the matchbook.
    Nick Stokes: That's a gay bar over on East Sahara - a trendy one...or, so I hear.
  • A Homespace dialogue in Homescapes:
    Austin: Does anyone know how to stop time?!
    Olivia: If you believe commercials, some facial creams can do that.
    Austin: I'm at the end of my rope. I'd even give cream a try!
    Stephanie: I wouldn't recommend that. The commercials are lying! UPD: Or so I've been told.


    Web Original 
  • This comic based on Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series.
  • Tim Minchin tells of a time when he caught Mariah Carey lipsynching.
    Tim Minchin: All of a sudden the magic that is Mariah Carey is gone. It's like watching a cheap drag show, but without the intrigue of transvestism. [pause] To my knowledge.
  • Skippy's List has examples:
    207. The Chicken and Rice MRE is *not* a personal lubricant. (Skippy wanted this noted for the record that this is not something he has ever attempted or considered! It was something we heard at dinner on 22 September 2001 and it was just so obscene it had to go here.)
    209. An airsickness bag is to be used for airsickness *only*. (Also not a Skippy-ism... this was the same dinner.)

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Girls Night Out", the Penguin points Batgirl and Supergirl to Harley and Ivy's hideout while maintaining his (rather flimsy) veneer as a respectable businessman:
    Penguin: Oh, all right. Not that I know anything, mind you.
    Batgirl: Of course not.
    Penguin: But I do hear rumors about where our green little vixen and her jaded jester may be hiding...
  • The Fairly OddParents!: When Wanda takes over her father's business, she put a ficus in the meeting room. One of the men comments on a gardening tip for it, then quickly invokes this trope when the others stare at him surprised.
    "A ficus? That's gonna need more light... not that, I would know."
    • Not only has he said this about at least 2 other things, he later says "I hear the ficus is doing quite well" *everyone looks at him* "...or so I heard", the name of the trope.
  • In "The Tale of the Dash of the Dark" on Peter Rabbit, Benjamin says this when Peter's sister Cottontail is having trouble sleeping and he says that nightlights are good for helping little kids to get to sleep.
  • South Park episode "The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers" plays this for laughs; all the men in town only have to hear the title "Backdoor Sluts 9" and they all know exactly which porn it is.
    Mr. Stotch: Backdoor Sluts 9 makes Crotch Capers 3 look like Naughty Nurses 2!
    Mr. Brovloski: It is the most depraved, vile porno ever made...
    Mrs. Brovloski: And how do you know?
    Mr. Brovloski: I, uh, read about it in People.

    Real Life 
  • Actual quote from a review by Germany's leading culinary critic Wolfram Siebeck:
    "The soup tasted the way I imagine packet soups would taste."
  • Sometimes, this can happen when trying to teach Martial Arts to others.
    "Yeah, if you cut the quadriceps right here, the other guy will drop like a rock."
    "...Not that I would know personally, though."
  • When pornstar Stormy Daniels was in the news with accusations that Donald Trump had paid her to keep quiet about an affair, it was interesting to watch all the male newscasters trying like hell to make it seem like they'd only heard of her in the context of the story and not for any other reason.

Alternative Title(s): Or So Ive Heard