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Random Passerby Advice

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Bob is attempting to do something—practice their golf swing, open a box, crack a safe—and a passerby gives him some advice. "You gotta twist it!" It's someone that Bob hasn't seen before and won't see again, just a friendly person with some expertise in the matter, whisking into and out of the plot with barely a trace.



  • Advertisements by ING Direct lately follow the format of someone complaining about a bank somehow, then someone else says, "If you don't want to do X, then stop doing X." They're trying to say that their banking doesn't have all these things you normally find.


  • In Red Garden Claire is on the sidewalk outside her apartment practicing swinging a bat when a random guy runs across the street and critiques her stance, advising her to "rotate your hips", then walks away.
  • Minamoto-kun Monogatari: The "love master" advises Terumi that he's aiming too high for beautiful women right off the bat. He should try to focus on "plain" girls first and build his experience from there. By focusing totally on the girl and making her feel like she was good enough to be talked to, she will then give the guy her undivided attention.


  • In Falling Down, William Foster decides to give a road crew doing make work and snarling traffic "something real to fix" but can't figure out how to operate his rocket launcher. A kid observing the traffic jam helpfully informs him.
  • L.A. Story. Harris K. Telemacher remembers when this once happened to him.
    Harris: I went roller skating once at the Brooklyn Rollerdome. It was awful. I was completely out of control. I went slamming into this 8-foot tall black guy in a green satin jump suit. I said, "I'm sorry, could you help me?" And he looked at me with stoned eyes and said: "Let your mind go and your body will follow."
  • Ben in Leaving Las Vegas storms away from the food court while Sera calls after him to stay. A passerby tells him he ought to stay, and does so in such a way that it seems he has some sort of plot significance. He doesn't.
  • This is pretty much how Wade meets Blind Al in Deadpool, while he's taking his blood-stained clothes to the laundromat:
    Al: Use seltzer water and lemon juice for blood. Or wear red. Dumbass.
  • In Crank the protagonist is unable to get epinephrine medication from a pharmacy. Another customer advises him to just get nasal spray, since that contains epinephrine.


Live Action TV


  • Nickelback: Not really "random", but while they were arranging "How You Remind Me", Ryan brought up the idea of the musical stops in the choruses. They played it a few times that way but still felt it was missing something, at which point Daniel's drum tech said "You should do a really big stop at the last chorus". They tried it, loved the effect it had on the song, and gave him a $50,000 bonus on the spot.

Video Games

  • The Player Character in many RPG games is effectively the Passerby giving advice to or doing quests for NPCs if the player so chooses.
  • Explicitly done when the Dragonborn in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim enters a new area and sees two or more characters interact, then asks one of them what was going on and offers their perspective or assistance.
  • Commander Shepard does this a lot in Mass Effect 3. Their reaction ranges from confused to annoyed, before realizing just who it is saying it, and they agree.

Web Comics

Web Games

  • Zap Dramatic: The Vagabond appears at the beginning of the game "Customer Service", and if the player fails enough times, he begins to offer hints about the best approach.

Western Animation

  • On Family Guy, Meg is continually trying to attract her hunky new neighbor, Kevin, throughout his first appearance, however, he seems completely disinterested. Eventually a police officer (long story) suggests that she stop talking about herself and ask something about him. Meg asks Kevin what kind of music he likes and he immediately becomes a chatterbox.
  • On American Dad! Stan is the adviser during a flashback—as a teenager he gatecrashed a popular kid's party and was chased around the house as they tried to get rid of him. He escapes out a window and crashes right next to two popular girls, one of whom is crying and saying "I don't know what to do!" Stan immediately tells her to "Keep it, life begins at conception!" before sprinting away.
  • Rick and Morty parodies this with "Meeseeks," goofy blue humanoids that can be summoned to provide advice or assistance, vanishing as soon as their task is completed. If the task is too difficult or complex, things can get ugly, because Meeseeks can't handle existing for too long.


  • Old joke, possibly originating with Redd Foxx:
    A motorist is driving past a mental hospital when he gets a flat tire. He goes out to change the tire,and sees that one of the patients is watching him through the fence. Nervous, trying to work quickly, he jacks up the car, takes off the wheel, puts the lug nuts into the hubcap and steps on the hubcap, sending the lug nuts clattering into a storm drain.
    The mental patient is still watching him through the fence. The motorist desperately looks into the storm drain, but the lug nuts are gone.
    The patient is still watching.
    The motorist paces back and forth, trying to think of what to do - and the patient says, "Take one lug nut off each of the others tires, and you'll have three lug nuts on each."
    "That's brilliant!!!" says the motorist. "What's someone like you doing in an asylum?"
    "I'm here because I'm crazy," says the patient, "not because I'm stupid."
  • An old Jewish joke concerns a fishmonger who puts up a sign that reads, "Fresh Fish Sold Here Daily." A passerby tells him that four of the words are unnecessary, so the fishmonger paints over all the words except "Fish". He starts to put up the sign again, when another passerby says, "You don't need a sign. Your fish can be smelled from a mile away!"
  • John Mulaney was told by a random woman in the New York City subway to "Eat ass, suck a dick, and sell drugs".