When class is in session, one student will pass a note to their crush, usually during a lecture. They must usually rely on other students next to them due to being far away from their crush.
Unfortunately, the teacher usually finds out as the note is being passed and confiscates it, as this is often forbidden in the classroom. The teacher may even force the offending student to read it out loud to the rest of the class, resulting in embarrassment.
It's becoming something of an Aluminum Christmas Tree as younger and younger kids have access to cell phones and texting.
- This happens a couple times in Toradora! first, Ryuuji, Taiga and Minori pass notes between them (through other members of the class) regarding Ami, then later as class members pass around a piece of paper documenting the number of chocolates students were wagering on the outcome of the Taiga-Ami race.
- In Asobi Asobase, Olivia regrets lying about being fluent in English and not speaking Japanese when the opposite is true. Hanako comes up with a plan to pass around an anonymous note stating that Olivia actually speaks really good Japanese. Unfortunately, Kasumi, thinking that somebody is trying to expose Olivia's "secret," writes over the note and changes the meaning.
- The French comic Les Profs (The Teachers) describes the evolution of this in one story, from the time where the sadistic teacher could intercept a note and read it aloud, to the era of cell phones where there is nothing to intercept. Fortunately for the teacher, one not very bright student ends up trying to pass a note written on his cell phone.
- Crabgrass: This comic, Kevin and Miles are caught doing this, but when the teacher threatens to read the note out loud, it turns out to be written in code. She sends them to the principal, where Miles, who does not want to miss out on pizza day, reveals the code can be cracked by simply shifting each letter 1 position to the left.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: In "Rodrick Rules", Greg asks Rowley to pass his note to Holly. Unfortunately, Rowley gets other students to pass a note to another student behind them, including Holly herself. When Greg's note gets passed on to Fregley, he tries to get him to pass the note back to Holly, but Fregley instead passes the note to Patty who sits next to him. Patty then complains to their teacher Mr. Draybick, thinking that Greg was passing her notes. Greg then gets caught as a result, and Mr. Draybick has him sit next to him during a middle of a test.
- The monster movie Earth vs. the Spider has a pretty typical example between the two teenage leads during a tedious physics class. The teacher catches them, although he doesn't ask them to read it out loud.
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Malfoy uses magic to send Harry a note, bearing an animated cartoon of Harry being hit by a Bludger during a Quidditch match.
- In The Imitation Game, note passing is an introduction to how Turing became exposed to encryption, and also as another reminder that Turing had to hide part of himself out in the open.
- In Billy Madison, one of the third graders is caught passing a note berating the principal, who was substitute teaching at the time. Instead of making the kid read it, the principal himself reads it without checking the context first. It's possible Billy himself wrote it, but the note came from the opposite end of the class from where Billy was sitting.
- These Are the Damned. The children, who are being kept in an underground bunker under constant camera surveillance, do this to communicate without being seen by the 'eyes'.
- This happens in Adrian Mole: when Adrian believes Pandora is being a bit distant, he sends her a note in science asking if she still loves him. She replies with "I will love you for as long as Britain has Gibraltar". The next day, it is announced on the news that Spain wants Gibraltar back.
- Yard Ape does this to Ramona in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and sure enough, one of the times he does it, the teacher confiscates the note.
- A variation in Vampire Academy. Rose and Lissa pass notes in class and Mia Rinaldi tells on them. Mr. Nagy takes it and reads it aloud in front of the whole class, revealing the "hook up" Rose had with Jesse Zeklos.
- The Berenstain Bears: In the Big Chapter Book The Berenstain Bears and the Showdown at Chainsaw Gap, Brother passes a note to his friend and crush Bonnie Brown, but Teacher Bob sees Bonnie with it and confiscates the note, reading it aloud (or at least paraphrasing). Since the class is studying birds, and the note was inviting Bonnie go bird-watching with Brother in the nearby Birder's Woods, Teacher Bob merely lets them off with a warning and, saying it's a good idea, turns the suggested event into a class trip. This also prompts another student to suggest a second trip to the local museum and its Hall of Birds, which also goes through. These two events lead to an important scientific discovery, and ultimately to the titular event of the book.
- In Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, a girl sends Jeremy a love note, but his art teacher, who has a habit of treating Jeremy poorly, snatches the note before Jeremy can even open it, then reads it aloud (and tears it up afterward), deliberately embarrassing him in front of his classmates. He also purposely doesn't say who sent the note, which Jeremy thinks to himself is probably because her father's on the school board.
- Lois Lowry 's book Anastasia Krupnik Anastasia Again has a scene when Robert Gianni passes a note to Anastasia reading "I like you. Do you like me? Check one:" Anastasia originally ticks "I hate you", but rubs it out and puts "no".
- Heartbreak High (2022) may have set a modern record for the use of this trope; it's virtually in Once an Episode territory. At one point Amerie makes a point of chewing on Harper's note in order to visibly reject it, although in typical clunky Amerie fashion she then proceeds to gag on the wad of paper.
- Our Miss Brooks: In "Bones, Son of Cyrano", Mr. Boynton confiscates a love poem Walter was writing for Harriet.
- In an episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Bitsy manages to get several students in detention by getting them to pass notes for her. At the end, everyone gets back at her by pasting sticky notes onto her until she's completely covered with them.
- It happens at least once on Boy Meets World, as Cory writes a note asking about a make-out party. Mr. Feeny intercepts it and reads it aloud, misreading it — possibly intentionally — as asking about a makeup party.
- El internado: Las Cumbres: Amaia is trying to find a way to phone the police to report a missing student, since the principal is completely dismissive. Paul passes a note to Amaia to let her know that he knows how to get access to a phone. They are lucky enough not to get caught.
- Happens in an episode of Girls in Love, with Magda passing a note to her friends about her crush on the teacher. The teacher catches them, but Nadine eats the note rather than have to read it out to the class.
- In the opening of That '70s Show episode "The Keg," Eric and Donna are sitting in study hall passing a note back and forth...
Donna: Let's ditch study hall.
Eric: No way.
Donna: You're a WIMP.
Donna: You heard me!
[Eric begins to write "BITCH" when he gets interrupted by the teacher. He makes up a lie to get himself and Donna excused from study hall.]
- On Schitt's Creek Alexis has returned to high school in her late twenties, and she worries that two girls are passing notes about her. When the teacher confiscates the note, Alexis claims it was hers to keep the girls from getting in trouble, which makes it awkward since the note is about how pretty and cool Alexis is.
- The "Blind Dates" episode of Saved by the Bell has Zack as the middle man between notes passed between Jessie and Lisa. After being caught twice by the teacher and forced the read the notes outloud in class, he is sent to detention. Interesting enough, in spite of actually being innocent for a change, he is the only one of the three to get in trouble.
- In the song "Check Yes Or No" by George Strait, the main character, in third grade, becomes friends with a girl, and in class she passes him a note. The teacher noticed it and took it away, but not before the boy read it:
Do you love me, do you wanna be my friend?
And if you do
Well then don't be afraid to take me by the hand
If you want to.
I think this is how love goes, check yes or no.
- The J. Geils Band's "Centerfold" mentions "Slipping notes under the desk."
- The plot of the music video for Josh Gracin's "Nothin' To Lose" follows a note from a boy to a girl as it's passed through various hands at school. The girl finally gets the note when it ends up on the principal's desk and they're both called to the office.
- This happens fairly often in Calvin and Hobbes. One time when Calvin tried to read a note that Susie told him not to read, it read "Calvin, you stinkhead, I told you not to read this".
- In Growing Up, a couple characters pass notes to you during class. Bobbie does this the most, and she seems incapable of paying attention to the teacher if you are present in class.
- In Double Homework, Lauren gives the protagonist a note saying that shes about to ask to use the bathroom, and he should ask the same thing a few minutes afterward. If he does what Lauren asks, and then commits to a relationship with her, he gets to have sex with her in an empty classroom.
- In The Order of the Stick, Haley combines this with Arrow Gram as a gag during the Azure city battle, the arrow hitting a hobgoblin mook about to attack Elan. Said arrow had a cute romantic note on notebook paper. Hinjo plays up the role of the exasperated teacher who takes the note and requests to see Elan after class, err battle.
- In Sandra and Woo Larisa does it once in a while. However, the teacher shouldn't read it out loud.
- Two students in a Not Always Learning story use this as a creative way to alert their teacher to a wardrobe problem.
- Whateley Universe: From here:
"There are other reasons also. Mr. Tyler! Will you please share that note you and Mr. Owens are passing around? I'm sure that it doesn't have much to do with what we need to study here."
We all turned in our seats to watch the two young men in question who were unsuccessfully trying to hide a note that got away from them and sailed to Mr. Winslow's outstretched hand.
"Let's see... 'That's one of them. I vote for Negligee Nightingales.' I believe this is your writing Mr. Owens? And the writing underneath. Oh yes! Definitely Mr. Tyler's excuse for handwriting. 'I like Bathrobe Babes.' This doesn't sound like anything that we will be discussing in this class does it?"
- In South Park, Bebe tries passing a love letter to Kyle in class. The note makes it as far as Stan before Mr. Garrison, forcing Stan to read it out loud in front of the class. Since it makes it sound like Stan is in love with Kyle, it also leads to Love Letter Lunacy.
- When CatDog gets sent back to high school to get their diploma, Cat tries to pass a note to his teacher, whom he had a crush on when they went to high school together. She catches him and forces him to read the poem to everyone else, causing Cat to melt into a puddle. Dog, however, thinks the poem was beautiful.
- A variant occurs in The Amazing World of Gumball where the kids at school are about to attend Rachel's party, but they all have to bring a date. Gumball gets a mysterious note flown to him while in the cafeteria, saying "Will you be the jelly in my peanut butter sandwich?". It eventually turns out to be from his crush Penny, who is literally a peanut.
- Subverted in "The Mustache", when Gumball and Darwin are passing a drawing of themselves as adults and Miss Simian catches them, but decides since she's talking about puberty they're actually on-topic and continues her lecture.
- Inverted in a Family Guy Cutaway Gag in which a teacher passes a student a "Do you like me? Yes - No - Maybe" note while lecturing.
- In "E. Peterbus Unum", when Lois starts homeschooling the kids, Chris tries passing a note to Meg which reads "I think Mrs. Griffin's hot". Lois sends him to his room for it.
- In The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Date with Density", Lisa develops a crush on Nelson, so she asks Milhouse to pass her note to Nelson. Unfortunately, Nelson thinks Milhouse wrote the note, since he's waving at him. Cut to Milhouse being led away on a stretcher, badly bruised.
- Miraculous Ladybug:
- In the episode "Guiltrip", Alya pass to her boyfriend Nino a note with a heart drawn on it, presumably a billet doux.
- Similarly in the episode "Ephemeral", soon after a Relationship Upgrade, Adrien pass to Marinette a note in class with not only the drawing of a heart, but also their initials written in it. Judging from the lovestruck look Marinette gives to Adrien after she read what's inside, it was a love letter too.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: At the beginning of "Call of the Cutie", Diamond Tiara passes Apple Bloom a note in class, ostensibly to pass in turn to Silver Spoon. Apple Bloom is disinclined to cooperate with either, playing out as the classic "make your target the one who disrupts class" tactic. The note turns out to be blank — like Apple Bloom's "blank flank".
Diamond Tiara: Remind you of anypony? [laughs]
- The Fairly Oddparents: "Timvisible" has Francis passing Timmy a note anticipating his next beating. Timmy then gets a second note from a secret admirer; Francis immediately points him to the next desk, which contains the hottest girl in the class (who isn't Trixie, for a change), but before Timmy can get his hopes up, she points him to the Gonk sitting behind her.