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The Tape Knew You Would Say That

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Playing a card game using a prerecorded video? You monster!

Dilbert: Am I so predictable that you can record your side of the conversation in advance?
Dilmom on tape: Yes, you are so predictable that I can record my side of the conversation in advance.

A character is playing a message recorded for them by someone else. Through precognition, weirdness induced by time travel, or really good prediction of what the viewer will say, the recording appears to respond to what the character says or does in reaction to what is being played. Fairly often it's lampshaded with the listener questioning the tape, and being told that no, it's not magic or psychic powers, they are just that predictable.

Related to The Television Talks Back. Sometimes overlaps with Video Wills. Occasionally mixed with an Apocalyptic Log. Often Compare Inner Monologue Conversation and Recorded Spliced Conversation.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Air Gear, Spitfire leaves a Video Will behind after he appears to die. This Video Will coaches Kogarasumaru, using "a R.E.A.D. program that analyzes data and relays it using Spitfire's synthesized voice." Most characters simply come to the conclusion that he's still alive and is spying on them. He's a Virtual Ghost.
  • In Bleach, Urahara gives Ichigo a thing that splatters onto his bedroom wall, writing a message as it flows down the wall. Ichigo proceeds to comment that it's "LIKE SOME TV CRIME SCENE MESSAGE WRITTEN IN THE VICTIM'S OWN BLOOD!" Then the message continues with a P.S.
    Urahara voiceover of the message: P.S. If you think this is some "written in the victim's own blood" cliché from some TV show, then you obviously have no sense of humor.
  • Several times, Lelouch from Code Geass uses a recording that he pretends is a live feed to obfuscate his true whereabouts:
    • In season 1 Stage 3, he Geassed his maid to call the phone in the bathroom and play a simple recorded message from Zero to Kallen in the shower while Lelouch is nearby. Kallen doesn't suspect a thing, securing Lelouch's secret from her.
    • Downplayed in season 1 Stage 15, where he fakes a video conference with the mind-reader Mao, to get Mao to think he was far away so he wouldn't hear Lelouch's thoughts as he approached. Lelouch interrupted Mao a lot and generally ignored his answers, simply pushing his line. He also remained silent for too long, causing Mao to ask, "Cat got your tongue?" before he resumed the pre-recorded message. This worked in large part because Mao was too out-of-his-mind to notice anything off.
    • In the end of R2, he pulls the same trick on Schneizel, who is a much harder opponent to fool. He even notices Lelouch's tactic briefly, saying "Lelouch, now you're talking in circles..." but doesn't catch on in time to prevent Lelouch from sneaking up behind him. In the original Japanese, this trope is pushed to the limit, as Lelouch predicts exactly what the other party will say and at one point manages to interrupt him at exactly the right time. Even given the fact that Schneizel is Lelouch's brother, who he knows quite well, whereas Mao was a total stranger, this was quite an accomplishment. The dub makes Lelouch's side of the conversation more vague, so he doesn't seem so eerily prescient.
  • Case Closed: Kogoro has made tapes of himself being "busy" someplace while he was really someplace else. Eri's seen through it, so he decides to attempt mixing a new one... while she's calling him on advice for a case. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Conan also does this briefly, one of the times Ran suspects that he's actually Shinichi - he's on the phone with Ran as Shinichi, records himself saying something, then runs to where she is as Conan and asks for something, before running to finish the conversation as Shinichi.
  • In one episode of the manga of Crayon Shin-chan, Shin woke up from a nap and found a note from his mother ("I'm out shopping, please clean up and look after the house"). He ignored it and decided to go out to play, and found a note taped on the door ("You know what will happen if you go out and play instead?", complete with an image of his mom wielding a hammer). Incensed, Shin ripped off the note and found another note taped right behind the note he just ripped ("Don't rip this off! You know what will happen if you disobey me?!").
  • Parodied in Doctor Slump, where the playing of a recording by Senbei's father to his son turns into a full-blown conversation between them. Senbei's father even reacts live to his son hugging the TV on which the message was being played!
  • Less "say" and more "do", but in one episode of Doraemon the titular robot leaves a message for Noby when he returns from school. Not only did Doraemon predict Noby would be lazing about, he also predicted he would be trying to find him so he states that he's not actually here.
  • Downplayed in Heaven's Design Team when God sends his mount to check up on the eponymous team, who are having a party in Hell, where there is no reception to Heaven. Even though it is said that he can't see or hear what's going on, he could somehow know that Neptune is there, and is able to approve the animal the latter had just created.
  • In Medaka Box, Najimi leaves behind a pre-recorded hologram for Kumagawa; when he tries to peep up its skirt he gets kicked in the face. It helps that Najimi is nigh-omniscient and knows Kumagawa fairly well.
    "I can't see you but I can more or less predict your actions, so I'll just throw a kick here for good measure. If it connects, hooray for me."
  • My Hero Academia has a downplayed example when Midoriya gets his U.A. entrance test results, in the form of a recorded projection from All Might. All Might never directly responds to Midoriya, but he does pause at exactly the right times for Midoriya to respond before beginning to talk again.
  • Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok: After Loki is kidnapped, he sends a message to Yamino and Mayura via recorded message in a doll. After his greeting, Mayura shouts about the mystery, to which said doll responds "Let me start off by saying that this is a recording and NOT a mystery for Mayura to get worked up over." She's not that hard to figure out...
  • The Governor General's tape in Negima! Magister Negi Magi gives a nice pause while Ala Alba discuss whether to go or not, and then says that he knows Negi plans to decline... Wouldn't it be a shame if he flexed his legal right and sent a fleet of battleships after him and all his students, including the muggles? After all, all he wants to do is to have a nice chat!
  • Seemingly played straight in the first episode of Serial Experiments Lain when Lain interrogates an e-mail from a dead classmate who claims to have left the physical world for an existence entirely within the wired. Gradually becomes less straight over the course of the series as we learn that there is a possibility that Chisa really did emigrate to the wired and Lain is far more than the awkward middle school girl she appears to be.
  • In World Conquest Zvezda Plot, the film reel of "Madame M" projected by the Treasure Club seems to respond to the students in the room, including singling out Asuta when he acts less than enthusiastic.
  • Occurs in ×××HOLiC as a letter which correctly predicted Watanuki's reaction four times in a row. It helps that it was written by Yuko.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Used by Pegasus, although justified by the tape being cursed and actually allowing two-way communication, though the initial idea of why Pegasus can figure out Yugi's moves so easily has to do with Pegasus having added subliminal images for split-seconds in the recording, forcing Yugi to subconsciously play the card wanted. Both theories seem to be taken for granted, as Pegasus is surprised when Yugi plays the Black Magician instead of the skeleton card he had in his hand. The anime averts this by changing it to Pegasus pulling Yugi into the Shadow Realm after he starts the tape.
    • A flashback in the anime showed how Pegasus humiliated champion duelist Bandit Keith by getting a young boy in the audience to sub in for him, giving him a set of pre-written instructions he was carrying in his jacket. The kid won the match, and the instructions were revealed to accurately predict every move Keith was going to make, and told the kid exactly what to do to win. Even given that Pegasus can read minds and this would obviously give great insight into Keith's strategy, the fact that he was also able to predict which cards would be randomly drawn from the deck by both players is pretty absurd.

  • In Definine Article, Eddie Izzard does a bit wherein a tape teaching French corrects the listener. "'La plume du mon oncle est bingy bongy dingy dangy.' The tape would go, 'Non! Oh non! La plume du mon oncle ne pas bingy bongy dingy dangy!!'"
  • In Tom Smith's "Psychic Voicemail Hotline", the phone tree knows what choices the caller will make, and when the caller doesn't have money to stay online it offers to tell them the number for the credit card they just got approved which hasn't arrived yet in the mail. When the caller tries to outwit it, they get a pre-recording of a convincing prediction of the listener's death unless they stop playing games. "Do we... understand each other?"

    Comic Books 
  • In the Blake and Mortimer story The Time Trap, Mortimer finds the time machine along with a recorded message from Miloch, which seems at times to know what Mortimer is doing or saying (not always, however, but enough to unnerve Mortimer). This being a time travel story, Miloch may have been spying Mortimer in advance to record his message, though.
  • Toni Chu from Chew has limited precognition, with the ability to see a person's future by eating their flesh. When she learns of her upcoming death while biting into her partner's shoulder, she essentially pre-records messages for her brother Tony by acting them out by herself, so that when Tony (who has the related ability to see a person's past) reads her memories by eating her severed toe, he can see Toni effectively talking to him. Toni's memories are able to respond to Tony's questions and comments with uncanny accuracy which is largely played for laughs, but can be chalked up to a combination of her precognition (having bitten her brother several times previously) and knowing her own brother well enough to predict his responses.
  • Invoked in one issue of Ghostbusters International when we see Egon making an audio recording of his research regarding part of what the others are dealing with overseas.
    Egon: I believe someone has found... ...The Rauoskinna. At this point of the recording, Venkman will likely make a comment about the book's name or pronunciation, with an outside possibility he's referenced the Norwegian flight attendant who punched him out in grad school. Get it all out of your system, Peter. This is quite serious.
  • Invader Zim (Oni): Zigzagged in the fourth quarterly. Some of the messages left for Zim by himself as part of a Memory Gambit correctly anticipate his reactions, while others are way off.
  • In a JLA story arc, the Justice League went back in time and got killed. Nightwing assembles a back-up League as per Batman's instructions. When the new team is brought together, they watch a video Batman made for them. Green Arrow starts ranting at some point, to which video Batman yells, "QUEEN, ZIP IT!" Because he's BATMAN.
  • Nemesis takes this to absolutely ludicrous degrees at the end of the comic, albeit in letter format instead of recorded videos, where the main protagonist receives a letter from a mysterious individual congratulating him for defeating the titular supervillain, revealing that he is from a group of rich and bored indiviuals who get their kicks off by becoming murderous psychopaths. The kicker? The message was written 10 years ago and somehow managed to predict several other events that took place in the comic.
  • Played with in Steam Wars, where Bo, as a Quantum Dragoon, uses his powers to actually hold the conversation with General Teft and another Rebel leader. Teft comments that the second half of the recording, which he had viewed earlier, confused him, that is, until the incredulous other captain helpfully supplies the other side of the conversation, that is.
  • Not a tape, but in X-Factor v.3 #200-201 Longshot gets a psychometric reading off a bobby pin to find out where Sue Reed has disappeared to. He ends up in a vision of Latveria, having a conversation with Layla Miller. Layla is not actually there, but is replying to Longshot because she knows what he will say.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a Calvin and Hobbes strip, Susie asks Calvin to pass a note to a classmate, telling him not to read it because it's a secret note. He reads it anyway; the note says, "Calvin you stinkhead: I told you not to read this." Of course, this is just Calvin falling for simple Schmuck Bait, implying that Susie did this For the Lulz. It certainly wouldn't make much sense if Calvin just passed the note. But even this is addressed in the next strip, where Calvin immediately tells the teacher about the next note Susie passes him. What does the note say? "You know what I hate about Calvin? He's a tattler!"
  • Doonesbury mixes this trope with The "Fun" in "Funeral"; starting with this strip, Andy Lippincott, who had just died of AIDS, has a prerecorded video played at his memorial service that talks to and responds to specific people at the memorial.
  • Garfield: Liz left Jon a message at his cell phone confirming their date and asking him to leave the accordion at home. In fact, he was with the accordion while listening to the message.
  • Li'l Abner's Fearless Fosdick managed to have an entire conversation with a corpse via this trope. This was due to the latter having prepared a record (when he was still alive) rigged to start playing as soon as Fosdick entered the room with his corpse. Part of the conversation went like this:
    Fosdick: Then why didn't you get up and answer the door when I knocked?
    Recording: Because I'm dead.
    Fosdick: Oh!!--Sorry, I didn't know.
    Recording: Quite all right.
    Fosdick then leaves the room, which halts the recording. When he finally rushes back in, demanding to know how the dead man can talk, the recording resumes with: "I haven't said a word, you fool!!"
  • A Running Gag in Peanuts strips is for Schroeder to carry around signs counting down the days until Beethoven's birthday. In one strip, Lucy sees this and turns around as Schroeder walks past to yell after him. Snoopy approaches her from behind with another sign as she yells "WHO CARES?" In the last panel, Snoopy's sign is turned towards the viewer, revealing the message "WE DO!"
  • Phoebe and Her Unicorn: Phoebe tries to look through her dad's browsing history, and finds that his last search was for "Hello Phoebe, I know you're reading this."
  • In one Zits strip, Jeremy comes down to breakfast with a series of cards, each answering questions his mother asks (like, "How do you want your eggs?") in order. Jeremy's mother eventually grows tired of this, saying, "I'm not as predictable as you think." Jeremy's next card: "Wanna bet?"

    Fan Works 
  • A variation in Bucket List. Regina has decided to leave Storybrook behind and writes a goodbye letter to Henry. She includes a message for Emma.
    P.S.: Miss Swan remember to feed Henry fruit and vegetables and not so much unhealthy food.
    P.P.S. Yes Miss Swan I know you're reading this.
  • In The Chaotic Three, Darth Janus (the true Sith identity of Jar Jar Binks) communicates with Sidious via a pre-recorded holographic recording, making a couple of comments anticipating Sidious’s reaction to some of his own revelations.
  • In Death Note II: The Hidden Note, the reformed SPK get a DVD supposedly from the new Kira that's in two parts. The beginning of the second part mentions how the other members probably had to hold back Near from trying to break the machine after he mentions how he was responsible for his wife's death. Which is exactly what happened.
  • In Eclipse Phase: Dreamcatcher, Pinkie Pie sends Rainbow Dash a message over distances where light-speed lag should occur and responds so quickly that Dash wonders if she's actually nearby. "Nope! I just pause and wait for you to answer, and then I respond to what you’re going to say! It’s easy, especially with you. You’re so predictable." Of course, Pinkie could predict the future, though not that accurately, even before the Fall.
  • In Elementals of Harmony, Tezzeret has Ditzy Doo send Jace Beleren a courier capsule with a message. Tezzeret lampshades this before giving his real message (forcing Jace to teach Ditzy blue magic).
    Tezzeret: Firstly, you should know that this was all prerecorded, so you can stop talking to the courier capsule. And yes, you are that predictable. Usually.
  • Beast Boy's resignation letter to the Titans in The End of Ends.
    Starfire: (reading Beast Boy's letter aloud) You do not even reflect on all the good deeds and nicer things I have done for you in the past.
    Raven: What nice things?
    Starfire: (continues reading) Tell Raven to take that back.
  • In Fallout: Equestria: New Pegas, Dead Shot has a lengthy conversation with Pinkie Pie, who recorded her part of it two centuries earlier. Thanks to her Pinkie Sense being hyper-boosted by Mint-als and him being a direct descendant of her sister, she is able to predict everything he might say and record responses in accordance; rather than seeing just one future dialogue, she is aware of every possible choice. She even coerces him into Pinkie-promising to never use addictive substances ever again, and responds appropriately when he accidentally sticks his hoof into his eye.
  • In Harry Potter and the Mystic Force, when reading Sirius's will, the solicitor adds "Stop laughing, Moony" when Remus expresses amusement at the idea of Sirius 'being of sound mind and body', stating that he's just reading the will.
    • Potentially subverted as it turns out that the solicitor is Sirius in disguise, having faked his death to better investigate the current plan to frame Harry.
  • In Kimberly T's Gargoyles fic “Flesh and Stone”, when Elisa leaves a taped message to inform Goliath of Broadway’s injury, the message yells at him not to fly off to the castle himself but wait to hear the rest of her instructions, Goliath sheepishly acknowledging that Elisa knows him too well as he was about to do just that.
  • The letters Kyon receives from the future in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, though it is justified in that Future!Kyon knows what Haruhi asked/will ask when Present!Kyon gets the letter.
  • A variation of this occurs in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Stargate Atlantis fic "The Long Haul", when Buffy, Willow, Weir, Sheppard, McKay and Beckett discover a hologram of Willow Rosenberg in the city's database; the hologram isn't truly interactive, but it's programmed with a few responses for certain situations, such as calling out McKay if he interrupts.
  • Invoked when someone MST'd a fansub of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz prior to the English dub release:
    Sally: Thanks, Duo. You left some cake for us.
    Mike: Some beef-cake!
    Duo: If that was a joke, it sucked. If you were being sarcastic, it was even worse.
    Mike: Hey!
    Tom: (indignant) I hate it when movies zing us back.
    Crow: Yeah, no one likes a smart-alek movie!
  • Nyx's Family: Done early on with a letter from Celestia, revising Nyx's legal status from 'parolee' (as of the end of Past Sins) to 'time served'
    Spike: Wow. She's good. Whups, here's a postscript...
    [Letter Postscript]: Dear Spike,
    Darn tootin' I am.
    Spike [Eyes Glazed]: Urrrh....
  • In On The Run Katsuki Bakugou is reading a journal left to him and Izuku by their teacher Aizawa telling him how they should go about training to face the League of Villains in the future with each page causing him to become more and more frustrated with what he's supposed to do to help both himself and Izuku. On the very last page, Aizawa writes in all caps “BREAK THE CHAINS YOUR PRIDE USES TO HOLD YOU DOWN” causing Katsuki to tear that page out and burn it. Behind that text written on the inside of the back cover itself Aizawa has written “Do not let your superiority complex control you. Stop burning my pages.” He then proceeds to chuck the journal as far away from him as he can.
  • A side story of Pokémon Reset Bloodlines shows Clair frustrated over the elders of the Dragon Clan pressuring her to get married and have a child. After reading a letter from Morty (who declined) delivered by his Gengar, Clair feels an urge to punch something. Gengar tells her to flip the letter, and she finds a P.S telling her that if she needs to vent her anger, she's free to punch Gengar (who, as a ghost, would not be harmed by it).
  • The Ronless Factor features a written example of this after Ron becomes a ghost, in which state he is able to interact with physical objects but cannot talk to Kim directly. In Chapter 23, Ron spends all night writing a few key documents with messages for Kim on her laptop, and is able to bring up a couple with immediate responses to her own comments because he knows her so well he can predict how she’ll respond to his longer statements.
  • A variation in Savior of Demons with a Hologram, when King Kold explains Frieza's weakness for toying with his opponents as if speaking to someone other than Frieza himself. It underlines his Chessmaster-style manipulation up to this point.
  • Squimpus McGrimpus' Five Nights at Freddy's Tapes: In Memories, William Afton greets the viewer of the tape by simply addressing them as "whoever you are" and spends the following few minutes hypocritically blaming his son Michael as the one who drove him to kill five children. And, after calmly stating why and how he has carried out the murders, this is when things get even creepier:
    William Afton: And, now that you've heard this, you should know that I check this spot every day to see if this tape has moved. I've seen it so many times, I'll be able to notice even the slightest difference. I will know. So you better put it back, Michael. As neatly as you can. And start running.
  • Likewise, in Takamachi Nanoha of 2814 spinoff FATE: Holy Grail War of 2814, Archer's video will knows exactly how everyone present will react (allowing him to throw in several snarky insults), which is justified because his past self is one of the people watching it.
  • This Bites!:
    • Early in the Omatsuri Island special, Cross apparently pulls this and then subverts it with Doflamingo and his three executives on the receiving end.
      Cross: (over the SBS) I mean, the advertisement had a lot of flowers on the map, and I'm not seeing a single one of those, let alone any sign of civilization. Which is weird, considering how jungles usually have flowers in them. Believe me, I've had enough experience to know. Still, it sounds like drumbeats are coming from deeper in the island, so here we are wandering through untamed foliage. Not the most exciting thing in the world, even for us.
      Diamante: (dryly) You don't say.
      Cross: I do say, I just did.
      (Doflamingo, Pica, Trebol, and Diamante jump)
      Cross: …And here's hoping that someone in the world actually said 'You don't say' in response to that.
      (Pica facepalms, Diamante growls, and Trebol and Doflamingo chuckle)
      Doflamingo: OK, that was funny.
    • Played straight with the letter Luffy gives to Buggy on Cross' behalf, where Cross reveals that Ace is Luffy's brother and Roger's son and that he knows Buggy was once a member of Roger's crew. Then he tells Buggy to pick up his jaw off the floor, which the clown promptly does, cursing.
  • In the Bleach/Kill la Kill crossover To My Death I Fight, Urahara writes a letter to Ichigo, which starts predicting his reactions and then boasts, "And yes, I can read your thoughts even through this letter that I wrote days before you found it. I am THAT good."
  • Ultra Fast Pony: In the episode "Purple Party Pooper", Twilight angrily responds to something that Fluttershy says about a minute later.
    Fluttershy: Hey, Twilight. How's your birthday?
    Twilight: Don't you "Have a nice day" me!
    Fluttershy: I didn't say that.
    [later, at the end of the conversation]
    Twilight: I'm gonna find new friends!
    Fluttershy: Okay, Twilight. Have a nice da— Ooooh! I get it now! Oh, she good.
  • In A Vampire in Love, Danny Fenton recieves a letter from Clockwork that manages to predict the young halfa's immediate reactions. Since this is Clockwork we're talking about, he might have just used his knowledge of the future to figure out what Danny would do.
    Danny: (Notices a CW logo on envelope) Either I'm being picked up for a television show... or this is an emergancy.
    Letter: Dear Danny, no, you are not being picked up for a television show...
    Danny: (Rolls his eyes) Of course...
    Letter: I also know you'll roll your eyes...
    Danny: Okay, what's this about?
    Letter: Also remember this is a piece of paper and I can't actually respond to you.
  • You Dare Me To WHAT!, a Total Drama Island fanfiction, has Chris give the eliminated campers a prerecorded message revealing that they're be picking the dares the Final Three are going to do as shown in "I Triple Dog Dare You". This naturally results in this trope occuring at times throughout Chris' message.
    Courtney: Wait, we're coming up with the dares?
    Chris: Right you are, whoever said that.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Angry Birds Movie 2: Leonard sends messages via baloons to ask the birds for a truce. Upon reading one, Red asks if Leonard thinks the birds are idiots. The next message to reach Red contains Leonard's answer to the question. He does think they're idiots but really wants a truce.
  • Brave: The facsimile the witch leaves behind for Merida in the cauldron rolls its eyes in exasperation and repeats itself when Merida fails to understand the cryptic advice.
  • Tara's final words to MK in Epic (2013), which she couldn't hear at the time, are seen later in a mystical "flashback" created by one of Nim Galuu's barkscrolls. Tara starts off by saying (paraphrased) "If you're hearing this, it means you made it to Nim's," and anticipates what MK's reaction will be.
  • In Fun and Fancy Free, Jiminy Cricket listens to a storybook on record narrated by Dinah Shore as the lead-in to the Bongo segment;
    Dinah Shore: This is the story of three bears...
    Jiminy Cricket: Yeah, yeah, I know. A papa bear, a mama bear, and an itsy-bitsy baby bear.
    Dinah Shore: (Chuckles) But it's not the one you know!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Bachelor, when the late grandfather reveals via video will that the protagonist is the inheritor of 100 million dollars, he reminds the room of stunned viewers to breathe.
  • The Big Red One. The Squad are listening to a German propaganda truck broadcasting a recording of a woman's voice telling the GI's that their wives back home are shagging other men, etc.
    Sarge: Knock off the bratwurst, Brunhilde, and sing us a lullaby.
    Recording: I'll get to the song in a minute, honey. (soldiers all burst out laughing)
  • In The Book of Henry, Henry leaves tapes for his mother to guide her through his plan. It even goes so far as to correct her when she makes a wrong turn out of the bank. Subverted in a later scene, when during target practice she stops to ponder what she's even doing and puts her gun down; Henry on the tape congratulates her, "Nice shot! Look at that grouping!"
  • In Brewster's Millions (1985), Monty Brewster's great-uncle Rupert uses this trope with his Video Will.
    Rupert: One more thing. You can't tell anybody why you have to spend the money.
    Monty: Why not?
    Rupert: Because I don't want anybody helping you!
  • Butterfly and Sword has a written version, where Butterfly, the fiancée of protagonist Sing-wan, reads a (very, very, very) long scroll of a letter he sent her.
    Sing-wan: [written in text] Hey, I told you not to eat on our bed!
    [cue Butterfly dropping her bun and looking surprised]
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off
    • Ferris prepares one to answer the intercom if anyone rings the doorbell at his house. The responses are keyed to the intercom, so he gets around the awkward pauses, and his responses are vague enough to work for nearly any prompt. The plan falls through when the principal keeps ringing the doorbell, cycling back to the first message and betraying the ruse.
    • Earlier in the movie after a bedridden Cameron gets off the phone with Ferris:
      Cameron: I'm dying.
      (phone rings)
      Ferris: You're not dying, you just can't think of anything good to do.
  • A very early example (possibly the earliest example) is in the 1932 movie The Greeks Had a Word for Them in which a deceased character leaves a will recorded on a phonograph record. When one of the listeners complains about being explicitly left nothing in the will the recording blandly states "I knew you'd say that."
  • Harvey: The movie shows an example with a book. Justified if you want to believe Harvey is real:
    Wilson: (reading from an encyclopedia) "P O O K A — Pooka — from old Celtic mythology — a fairy spirit in animal form — always very large. The pooka appears here and there — now and then — to this one and that one — a benign but mischievous creature — very fond of rumpots, crackpots, and how are you, Mr. Wilson?" (Beat) "How are you, Mr. Wilson?" Who in the encyclopedia wants to know?
  • I'm Gonna Git You Sucka: When Kung Fu Joe calls Slade, Slade leaves a blank stretch of tape on his answering machine just long enough for Kung Fu Joe to leave his message before revealing that it was the answering machine talking and not him.
  • The entire "Exploring Your Masculinity" tape recording scene from In & Out. The tape the main character buys in order to re-affirm his heterosexuality somehow knows that the main character is not doing what it asks him to do, knows he has fallen in a trap and, after the song it puts ends, it knows he has been dancing. It's implied he really just imagined this, though, since at the end it asks how he did.
  • The movie I, Robot inverts this. Dr. Lanning leaves an interactive hologram at the scene of his death, which is only programmed to respond to a few specific questions, and so Spooner has to figure out just what exactly the tape "knew" he would ask. We later find out that this is because he was being watched by VIKI while he was making the hologram, so he had to be very careful about what he said.
    Dr. Lanning: I'm sorry, my responses are limited. You must ask the right questions.
  • This happens in Iron Eagle. Chappy Sinclair is the wingman for Doug Masters in a plan to use two Air Force jets to rescue Doug's father. Just in case something happens, Chappy makes a tape recording of advice the night before so his voice can continue to guide Doug. Somehow, Chappy manages to predict exactly when he was shot down and doesn't bother to give advice about anything up to that point. The strangest part is when the tape says something like, "You did a good job shooting at the refinery. Now that that's out of the way..."
    • Doug is shown to be starting and stopping the tape, so it's likely that if he hadn't taken out the refinery, he wouldn't have been in a position to start the tape again from Chappy's perspective.
  • Johnny Dangerously featured such a radio announcer:
    Radio Announcer: Should be clear skies tomorrow night as the governor and DA Tommy Kelly attend the new James Cagney move.
    (the radio is turned off)
    Gangster: Which theater?
    (the radio is turned on)
    Radio Announcer: The Savoy, on 37th.
  • Subverted in Last Action Hero. When Slater's ex-wife calls him at work, he gives a few verbal nods before placing the phone's headset over a taped recording of his responses to her. He later reveals to Danny that it's just an act:
    Slater: You think I'd marry someone so stupid she can't tell the real voice from a taped one? I pay a cashier to call me at work, so the guys think I have a private life. My ex-wife is happily remarried; she never calls.
  • Love Actually: Sam has shut himself in his room to practise his drumming. Daniel, his sepfather, tries to call him for dinner but Sam claims he's not hungry. When Daniel asks if he's sure Sam replies "Look at the sign!". Daniel steps to the side revealing a chalkboard on Sam's bedroom door that reads "I said I'm not hungry!"
  • Done with a business card in Oh God! You Devil, just after talent scout Harry O. Tophet pulls a Stealth Hi/Bye on the main character, but uses his disembodied voice to deliver a few parting words about keeping in touch.
    Bobby Shelton: I'm flipping out!
    (looks at the reverse side of Tophet's business card, which was previously blank)
    Tophet's card: You're not flipping out.
  • The Osterman Weekend (1983): TV journalist John Tanner is remotely interviewing the man who's holding his family hostage. It turns out all his questions are prerecorded, so he can track the video feed to the kidnapper's location.
  • A variation features in Reminiscence, where characters use machines to record and relive a subject's memory. When Nick is interrogating the man who killed Mae, the woman he loved, he is able to witness Mae saying goodbye to him as she addresses her would-be killer as though he is Nick, knowing that Nick will follow the clues to capture this man and access the man's memory to learn what happened to her.
  • Parodied in Scary Movie 2: in one scene, Cindy sings along to (that is, butchers) Vitamin C's "Graduation" in the car. The singer somehow interrupts her own song just to tell Cindy to "shut the fuck up"!
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) has an example where the tape knows who will be listening to it. Stella and Ramon find a wax cylinder containing a conversation between Sarah Bellows and her doctor, where she pleads with him to listen to her, but he will have none of it and just shocks her. Finally beaten into submission, she says that she will "tell you what you want to hear". She's actually speaking to Stella and Ramon at this point, and she begins telling the story "The Dream", which is about Chuck.
  • Scream 3 uses this to bring back Randy, who was killed in the previous film. He drops comments and has recorded responses to Dewey's reaction to his comments, leading them into a bit of back-and-forth dialogue.
  • Cousin Henry's Video Will in the 1970 movie Some Will, Some Won't (a remake of Laughter in Paradise) does this, allowing a pause for the beneficiaries to object before telling them to shut up.
  • Spoofed (of course) in the movie Spy Hard staring Leslie Nielsen. The Big Bad of the movie, who was thought to be dead, sends a tape to the government agency with the typical threat of blowing something up with a stolen warhead. When we first see the scene you aren't really sure it's just a recording, as it seems to be responding perfectly to the men watching. But used later as a Brick Joke when Nielsen's character is watching the tape in his house and it runs in the background including all the pauses.
    General Rancor: (on tape) Yes, it is I, General Rancor. Big as life, and twice as ugly!
    (long pause)
    General Rancor: (on tape) All Steele did is blow off a couple arms! I got plenty of arms!
  • In Superman, this exchange between Superman and a recording of his late father:
    Jor-El: You... enjoyed it?
    Superman: I don't know what to say, Father. I'm afraid I just got carried away.
    Jor-El: I anticipated this, my son. Now...
    Superman: You couldn't have! You couldn't have imagined...
    Jor-El: How good it felt?
    • Then in Superman II, Supes asks for love advice from a recording of his mother. Subverted when Luthor infiltrates the Fortress of Solitude and selects the data crystal with information about General Zod.
      Lara: I had hoped that you would not have to ask me this question.
      Luthor: What's she talking about? I didn't ask her anything.
  • In Tapeheads, the main characters' office space is protected by a video of a security guard firing at anyone who trips the system, as shown when Norman Mart's men bust in, and they fire back, not realizing it's only a video. The video guard even scoffs at them when they run out of bullets, and puts down his gun and salutes just as the main characters (who had been out) walk in. A couple of scenes later, a limbo band shows up, and the guard on tape is seen dancing along to the music.
  • Tell Me How I Die: The psychic killer addresses the main characters through a video recording that was shot several months before, since he already knew that they would be watching the tape at some point.
  • Technically, though we never see it working, Sarah Connor's answering machine in The Terminator is a tiny example of this. "Hi! (beat) Ha, ha, fooled you, you're talking to a machine."
  • True Lies: Harry uses this on his wife (who is in the room with him) to disguise his voice. "Now dance for me." When she starts hand-jiving, "No, dance sexy." A moment later, the tape clearly doesn't know what she's going to say. Harry has to fast-forward past a bit of the tape where the speaker thought she'd be wearing nylons, and then he has to rewind it to repeat a request when she protests.
  • Red Stevens in The Ultimate Gift takes this trope to the extreme. One scene that perfectly sums this up is when his nephew gets a check and walks out with it, only to find that he can't cash it in and comes crawling back to Red Stevens, who knew that he'd do something like that. Oh, and it's a Video Will.
  • Videodrome: TV culture critic Professor Brian O'Blivion only interfaces with others through taped messages, and in an early scene is even portrayed as responding to an interviewer's questions.
  • Xanadu uses dictionary similarly to Harvey above, when Sonny is told by Kira that she's a muse, which is reason why she is interacting with him:
    Sonny: (reading from the dictionary definition of "Muse") "Any of the nine sister goddesses in Greek Mythology presiding over song and poetry and the arts and sciences. And do you believe me now, Sonny?"

  • Done in the fourth Artemis Fowl book, so the main character can have the first stimulating conversation he's had in the book. It's downplayed in that he didn't know exactly what future Artemis would say, but knew that he would and so could qualify it as a conversation.
  • In Be A Perfect Person in Just Three Days! by Stephen Manes, the main character takes a peek at the last page of the eponymous self-help book he finds in the school library... and finds only a paragraph scolding him for trying to peek at the end.
  • In The Devils Of D-Day by Graham Masterton, a researcher for a book on D-Day hears of a derelict tank haunted by its dead crew, and decides to try tape-recording their voices. Instead something else inside the tank speaks to him. When he plays the tape for the local priest, the voice on the recording starts addressing the priest instead, who smashes the recorder when he realises it's trying to conjure up its brethren.
  • Discworld:
    • Semi-example in Thud!; there's an ancient recording of the dwarf king talking about peace with trolls, and a warhungry dwarf listening shouts that it must be a fake, a trick. The recording then says that there will be people who think this is a fake, a trick.
    • In the "Etiquette" section of Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, she recommends that writers of love letters incorporate the following into their missives, the better to pull this trope on their nosy future children:
    • In Witches Abroad, Desiderata Hollow doesn't bother to address the envelope of instructions she leaves for Hurker to open after her death, because her Second Sight has already shown her that he'll open it regardless.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: (Zig-Zagged Trope) The Time Vault contains sealed messages from Hari Seldon, who died decades to centuries ago. At a conversational level, he points out his inability to predict their reactions, but he's left these messages to brag about predicting events centuries after his death. Until the Mule comes along. The fact that another century or so down the road the messages are correct again is a plot point because a secret group of people have been making sure the recordings came true, and not the ones you think.
  • Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens:
    • Agnes Nutter leaves a box containing the second volume of her Nice and Accurate Prophecies in the care of several lawyers successively to be delivered to her descendant Anathema at the right time. The ones who are tempted to open the box to find out what's inside inevitably find an envelope with their name on it, containing a letter decrying them for not following her instructions and naming something horribly embarrassing or compromising about their life that will be revealed if they don't close the box right now.
    • Also in Good Omens, the order of the prophecies themselves turns out to be significant. For ease of reference, the Device family transcribes the original book onto a bunch of file cards. Anathema loses her copy of the Book (accidentally leaving it in Crowley's Bentley, to be found by Aziraphale), and has only the file cards to go with. During the bumpy ride to the place where Armageddon is happening (but not the proper riding forth of Armageddon), she drops the box and gets the cards all jumbled up. When she laments this, Newt counters that if Agnes was so good, whatever card Anathema grabs will be the one most relevant. Whether or not he's serious, he's right. The jumbled order of the prophecies, which had baffled the family for centuries, was apparently just so Anathema could pull the right ones out when she needed them right then.
  • Stanislaw Lem's Golem XIV does this. Although his lectures and seminars appear to happen in real time, actually he thinks a million times faster than the audience and can pre-generate a half-hour discourse in an eyeblink. And since he is able to model people's responses with uncanny accuracy, this works with dialogues just as well as with monologue. The editor of the sessions explicitly remarks how frustrated this makes unprepared listeners feel.
  • In an example that more closely resembles "The Map Knew You Would Do That", Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has the Marauder's Map deny Snape access to its contents when he tries to view it, except for a series of four messages from the students that created it (according to Pottermore, the Marauders purposely enchanted the map "to forever repel (as insultingly as possible) the curiosity of their nemesis, Severus Snape", to prevent him from being able to use the map if he ever found it):
    "Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people's business."
    "Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git."
    "Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor."
    "Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball."
  • In The Jennifer Morgue, the taped briefing Angleton leaves for Bob does this—to a certain extent. Angleton, while very good, ends up underestimating the time it will take for Bob to complete it, and the tape self-destructs before Bob is fully briefed.
  • John Dies at the End has a video recording of a precognitive man holding what looks like a one-sided conversation. The heroes can't make sense of it the first time they watch it, but when they replay it later on, the man's girlfriend is present, and she ends up (reluctantly at first) holding a full conversation with the recording. And then the recording asks the heroes to leave the room so that he can have a private conversation with his girlfriend.
  • One of the Journeys to Fayrah books makes use of this trope. The main characters go digging in a forgotten trunk in the attic and discover an audio tape recorded by one of their friends from Biq, the land of computers. The awesome supercomputing power available in Biq allows simulations so extensive that they can predict the future to an arbitrary level of detail; thus, the tape is perfectly tailored so that the main characters can have a natural conversation with it.
  • In The Magic School Bus book about the Solar System, when they lose Ms. Frizzle and have to rely on her notes to learn about the Solar System and find her, she has written down the statement "Arnold, are you still listening?"
  • In at least a couple of books in Margaret Peterson Haddix's The Missing series, the character Second manages this using a combination of knowledge he gained through time-travel and advanced technology.
  • A more overtly magical version in Stephen King's Needful Things. Leland Gaunt leaves a tape for his Dragon, Ace Merrill, giving instructions for what he should do. When Ace considers ignoring the instructions and just stealing Gaunt's stuff, the tape starts up again on its own and threatens him. It's at this point that Ace realizes that the tape player isn't even plugged in.
  • When Tobimar sets out on his quest at the beginning of Phoenix Rising, his mother gives him a (magical) pre-recorded message from his mentor, Khoros, who had foreseen that he would be chosen for the task, and furthermore turns out to have successfully predicted and incorporated responses to Tobimar's reactions while viewing the message. Predicting people's actions turns out to be kind of Khoros's thing.
  • Not a recording, but a more medieval fantasy example occurs in the Rhapsody series by Elizabeth Haydon. When one character's estranged brother sends a diplomatic envoy to speak to him, the diplomat has a series of papers, with the brother's anticipated responses to everything the character says. The diplomat is finally caught off guard when there was no pre-planned response to the man actually saying "Thank You."
  • The Stainless Steel Rat:
    • Not from the dead, but in The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World by Harry Harrison, a recorded message from Professor Coypu is sent back in time. At one point, Coypu's voice says he believes there are supply ships on the way which can rescue the listeners (except for Jim and Angelina, who have another way out). He pauses, and one of them acknowledges that the ships are expected in fifteen days. The recording of Coypu picks up again with the words, "Fifteen days, more than enough time." That's because Jim and Angelina have returned to before the recording was sent, and are telling Coypu what to say.
    • In The Stainless Steel Rat for President, Inskipp sends a recording to Jim that does this. It annoys Jim to no end; he hates it when his boss is one step ahead of him.
  • In Thus Was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell, Selena is reading aloud a letter Julia wrote her about Julia's vacation in Venice. Julia writes that "they have taken my passport," and Selena comments, "They can't do that to Julia. She is a British subject." The letter continues:
    And it's no use your saying, Selena, that I am a British subject and they can't do that to me. They have done.
  • Done in an ontologically eerie way in Philip K. Dick's Ubik. Protagonist Joe Chip's TV suddenly switches on to show his boss, Glen Runciter, who has apparently died in an explosion a few weeks before. At first, the two engage in a perfectly coherent, real-time conversation ("You know I'm here. Does that mean you can hear and see me?" "Of course, I can't hear you and see you. This commercial message is on videotape"). However, towards the end of the conversation, Runciter's answers lose meaning and become detached and inappropriate until the TV switches itself off, leaving Joe to ponder:
    Had Runciter been able to hear him? Had Runciter only pretended to be on videotape? For a time, during the commercial, Runciter had seemed to respond to his questions; only at the end had Runciter's words become malappropriate.
    • Dick does a similar thing in The Galactic Pot-healer, where Glimmung displays a general tendency towards sending messages in the weirdest possible ways. Using a Victrola for his conversation with Joe Fernwright also allows him to skip questions he doesn't want to answer (by having the thing run out of power when convenient).
  • In The Way Of Kings, Dalinar's visions turn out to be a subversion. He seems to hold a meaningful conversation with the Almighty during each. Then, after one conversation derails in a way similar to the Ubik example above, he realizes it was actually a set of pre-recorded messages and the Almighty can't see or hear him. What Dalinar mistook for an important policy advice turns out to be something entirely unrelated. Oops.
  • Came in the form of a written will in The Westing Game, which incorporates into its text the interjections that the deceased has predicted his audience will make during its reading. The trope is played straight when one character stands up in sudden anger ("Sit down, Grace Windsor Wexler!") Later, however, the trope is subverted as the deceased millionaire has a message that informs the characters that they're all wrong in their deductions. The reason is that Mr. Westing actually isn't dead and is disguised as one of the main characters, which enables him to keep track of other characters' progress in his "game."
  • What Is The Teachers Toupee Doing In The Fish Tank has a chalkboard variant as Mr. Finelli's message to his class includes commenting on rolling their eyes at it and answering Frankie's questions when he incorrectly guesses a surprise is TV dinners.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cleverly done with the TV audience on a David Copperfield magic special. David displayed an array of cards onscreen, and told the viewers to, starting with the center card, count off three cards in any direction. Then he'd say "I sense that you did not land on Card #2, so I'll remove that one." This was a classic magician's "force": no matter which three cards you chose, it was mathematically impossible to land on Card #2. This continued until there was one card left — "chosen" simultaneously by millions of viewers.
  • 30 Rock:
    • Attempted and briefly successful: Jack confronts Gavin Volure, a friend of his who he believes to be a successful businessman, but is actually a criminal under house arrest for tax evasion. Gavin enters the restroom and continues talking to Jack. However, his responses seem rather generic, and Jack catches on quickly. He opens the door and sure enough Gavin has fled out a window and left a tape recorder. The tape goes on to compliment the acoustics in the room and then break into song.
    • In another episode, Jack is in a museum looking at a painting and Liz walks up behind him, to have him address her by name without turning around. It's subverted when he admits that she isn't the first person he addressed that way since he got there.
  • Angel: Angel goes to see Fred in her Room Full of Crazy. He knocks on the door; inside Fred is looking at words she's just written on the wall; Go away, go away, go away, knocking.
  • Babylon 5: In "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place", Refa is confronted by a group of Narns led by G'Kar, who plays a holographic recording of Londo explaining that he's shown them proof that Refa was responsible for the death of several million Narns. When Refa protests that Londo is lying, the next thing Londo says is "On the off-chance that G'Kar might not believe me..." (and goes on to explain that he's freed two thousand Narns to ensure G'Kar's cooperation).
  • The Basil Brush Show: The episode "Basil's Millions" revolves around Basil and Cousin Mortimer inheriting a large fortune from their deceased uncle Maximillion, who explains the terms of his will to them via a video recording of himself. He tells them that there is no point talking to him as he is just a recording, yet he is completely aware of everything they say, including Basil's attempts to convince him that he isn't interested in the money and Mortimer's failed attempt at remembering his name.
  • Batman (1966) did this once with the Bat-answer phone. While Bruce Wayne was in the room with the Commissioner, a prerecorded message was able to respond to a call from the Commissioner, greet him, ask him what the problem was, then tell him they'd be right there.
  • A regular Running Gag on Bear in the Big Blue House is that a character, usually Bear, will comment on something heard on the radio and the announcer will say something as they had anticipated that response. However, this is taken a bit further in "This Is Your Life, Bear," when the announcer says that they're going to play a cha-cha song and whoever calls in with the title and artist will win. "Win what?" wonders Bear.
    Announcer: Good question. I mean... uh... I bet you're wonderin' what you win.
  • Breaking In: Oz has a PowerPoint presentation set up with responses to everything Cameron says.
    Oz: I want this job handled ASAP. No questions.
    Cameron: Why so secretive?
    (Oz flips to the next slide: I SAID NO QUESTIONS.)
    Cameron: Fine, but who's the old lady?
    (Next slide: IT DOESN'T MATTER.)
    Cameron: At least tell us what's in the safe.
    (Next slide: DOESN'T CONCERN YOU.)
    Cameron: Any carnival psychic could come up with generic sentences like that.
He then caps the whole thing with a slide informing Cameron that his fly is open.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Doug Judy leaves a video apologizing to Peralta for conning him and stealing some diamonds:
    Video of Doug Judy: I did you dirty. I never meant to cause you any troubles.
    Peralta: Yeah, well, you caused me a lot
    Video of Doug Judy: You're talking to a pre-recorded video.
    • But subverted shortly after:
      Peralta: ...what am I even doing here?
      Video of Doug Judy: I feel the same way! You're my best friend too!
    • And after the tape points out a pot that Judy left for Peralta to look inside:
      Peralta:'s the diamonds! I can't believe you—
      Tape of Doug Judy: ...The diamonds! Ha ha ha!
      Peralta: Yeah, mistimed that one.
      Tape of Doug Judy: No, you're the best!
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer predated Colbert with a similar gag in the episode "Hush". When everyone in Sunnydale lost the ability to speak, Giles used an overhead projector and pre-written transparencies to brief the Scooby Gang on the Gentlemen, the demons responsible for stealing Sunnydale's voices. At one point, Buffy and Willow mime separate suggestions of how to dispose of the Gentlemen, and Giles immediately displays transparencies explaining why the plans wouldn't work. Not quite a straight example, though, since Giles is visibly annoyed that they interrupted him to ask the obvious questions instead of just letting him go to his next slide.
  • One episode of Castle had a teen girl make one of these as a prank to her friend (though it was very simplistic, basically a greeting, pause for response, and then the prank interrupting). Said friend then used it as an alibi when she murdered the girl, making it seem like her death happened hours later, because clearly she was video calling so she must have been alive.
  • Chappelle's Show: A skit purportedly introducing a posthumously released Tupac Shakur track starts out by vaguely describing events that happened long after Tupac's death to parody the theories of him still being alive. While several events in the video could be explained away, it ends with the tape observing and admonishing people in the club where it's being played, including repeatedly pointing out Dave shouldn't be there.
    Recorded Tupac: ...And if you hit this table one more time then the record might sk—ight skip. I told you. Stop hitting the table.
  • Community: Occurs in "The Psychology of Letting Go", when Pierce is listening to a CD left to him by his deceased mother.
    Pierce's mom: Pierce? You found the CD, which means... I'm dead.
    Pierce: Vaporized.
    Pierce's mom: I'm not vaporized. I'm gone, Pierce.
  • On an episode of Conan (on TBS), Steve Martin shows up with a Top Ten List titled "Top Ten Reasons Conan Will Try To Ruin This Bit". Conan tries to stop Martin, since this is clearly David Letterman's bit (even the onscreen font). Every item Martin reads is just what Conan says- like "Stop this!" and "Who the hell is that!" (in response to the sudden appearance of a Paul Schaffer lookalike).
  • During one episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry makes a Broadway play that makes fun of the late Ayatollah Khomeini which angers the Iranians that the current Ayatollah orders a fatwa telling Muslims to kill Larry during a press conference. Naturally, Larry freaks out once he sees this on TV. For some reason, anytime Larry says something that might convince the Ayatollah to cancel the order like canceling the play, apologizing or converting to Islam, the Ayatollah on the recorded press conference somehow knows what Larry was going to do and it still isn't enough to please him.
  • The Daily Show/The Colbert Report:
    • Done by Stephen Colbert in one Daily Show/Colbert Report toss. Feigning laryngitis, he has prepared large flashcards with his side of the dialogue, explaining his condition — when Jon Stewart expresses sympathy for him, the next card reads "THANKS JON. THAT'S SWEET." (The whole toss plays off Jon's predictability, as it turns out Stephen has bet one of his staffers that Jon would believe the laryngitis story. He wins the bet.)
    • Done again when John Oliver asks an anti-Muslim pastor who said he wouldn't let Muslims worship at his church if he thinks that a mosque would ever let Christians worship there. When he says no, John plays a pre-recorded video of himself at a mosque where that exact thing is really happening. He then pops up in the foreground and insults him.
  • Death Note: At L's funeral, the Kira task force members watch a video he'd prepared for them beforehand. When Watari tells them it contains a hint as to the killer's identity, Matsuda excitedly asks what it is, at which point L, in the video, says, "Now, Matsuda-san, don't be so impatient."
    Matsuda: This isn't live, is it?
    Watari: L anticipated everything.
    Video: Matsuda-san, please wipe your nose.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Parting of the Ways": The Doctor's recording to Rose initially just looks straight ahead and recites its message, apparently unaware of anything Rose is doing. Then at the climax of the message, it seems to know that Rose has moved and turns to face her. This was intentional on the part of Russell T. Davies.
    • In "Blink", and the short story it was based on, Sally Sparrow sees a recording of the Doctor that initially seems to be talking to her. When she tries talking to it later, the video-Doctor perfectly anticipates her questions; as it turns out, via a Stable Time Loop, the Doctor had a complete transcript of the conversation that was still happening! Incidentally, the Doctor's explanation of how all this works is the Trope Namer for Timey-Wimey Ball. Played with in that lots of other people have found the message, and without her side of the conversation have all sorts of speculation as to what he's talking about.
    • "The Inforarium": Turns out the reason the guard is so predictable is because he's stuck in a time loop.
      The Doctor: If you're trying to raise the alarm I wouldn't bother. Not really here. I'm a recorded message.
      Guard: A what?
      The Doctor: A recorded message.
      Guard: Then how can you be replying to me?
      The Doctor: You're very predictable.
    • "Spyfall":
      • The video instructions the Doctor makes for her companions to assist them in flying a plane with a destroyed cockpit include her leaving pauses for them to express surprise, requests for them to stop talking back because it's a recording, and correctly predicting that Graham will be panicking.
      • The hologram message the Master leaves for the Doctor at the end has him correctly predicting some of her reactions to what he has to tell her.
  • Dollhouse: Played straight in "Haunted", in which the personality of a deceased person is put into a doll who then solves her own murder and experiences a change of heart while she's at it. She changes her will accordingly. While the new will seems authentic (it's in her handwriting), the other characters comment that the tone of the letter is unlike her. She anticipates this and the last line of the will says as much.
  • FlashForward has an extreme example, where Demetri watches an 18-year-old video tape which starts talking to him.
  • Get Smart:
    • In "The Secret of Sam Vittorio", Max and 99 must impersonate an Outlaw Couple and are shown a newsreel of their exploits.
      Max: Now why would a good-looking kid like that turn to a life of crime?
      Newsreader: The fact that he couldn't do anything else made this good-looking kid turn to a life of crime.
    • Inverted in an episode spoofing Mission: Impossible, Max gets a taped briefing from the Chief.
      Chief: We know the Leader plans to get the theory out of the country tonight.
      Max: That doesn't give us much time.
      Chief: That doesn't give us much time. Should he succeed in delivering Dr Helman's theory to KAOS headquarters in Europe, the human race will face extinction through Helmanitus.
      Max: What is that?
      Chief: I don't have to tell you what that is.
  • The Ghost Busters, live-action precursor to Filmation's Ghostbusters, frequently had Zero able to respond to Eddie Spenser's statements in spite of only contacting the heroes through recorded messages. The first episode's message references the ghost of gangster Big Al. Spenser muses, "I wonder what he's up to?" and the tape replies, "Down to."
  • Gilligan's Island:
    • The radio never knew what the castaways would say, but seemed to know when they were listening. The announcer would always begin the exact story they wanted to hear the moment they turned the radio on, and remain silent just long enough for them to discuss each item.
    • A written rather than auditory version occurs in "Up at Bat", when Gilligan runs away after believing he's become a vampire. He leaves a note telling the other castaways this. The Skipper finds it and, with semi-affectionate exasperation, asks why Gilligan had to do something stupid like this. Then he finds a post-script saying that running away was the only stupid thing Gilligan could figure to do.
  • The Aunty Jack Show had one character play a Learn-To-Speak-Italian record... only to have the female voice get passionate with him, and discuss having an affair. At which point her husband comes in (on the record), shooting her then himself.
  • The Goodies did this all the time, to the point that it was the Characteristic Trope. Tapes, videos, TV shows, movies, books, everything had a response to whatever anyone had to say. Illustrative example:
    Graeme: (reading from a Kung Fu instruction manual) Now hold out your hand, and stick up two fingers.
    (Tim holds up two fingers in the obscene V-sign)
    Graeme: (still reading) No, not like that.
    (Tim rotates his hand)
    Graeme: (still reading) Yes, like that.
  • The Goodwin Games revolves around a series of Video Wills left by Benjamin Goodwin that detail a number of challenges that decide who will inherit his fortune. Even though Benjamin had been estranged from his children for several years, the tapes respond to things like Jimmy stealing a pen and Henry fast forwarding through a long poem.
  • Gotham: Zigzagged in a late season 4 episode. Jerome Valeska has messaged a Video Will to Jim Gordon to boast that his followers will cause massive havoc. Jim subsequently finds another videotaped message while investigating a bunker, sharing a few words with Jerome before the latter points out that he obviously can't carry on a whole conversation and tells him to just listen. However, this later turns out be Jeremiah Valeska impersonating his dead twin brother, although the form of communication is still one-way.
  • The Heart, She Holler: A major part of the bizarre [adult swim] comedy, where the deceased Mayor has created countless videotapes for every possible conversation. These videotapes also include reactions to events and moments in the future he could not have known about, such as speaking to specific characters as they walk in to see his videos playing, giving monologues when nobody is watching, and most bizarrely, knowing when his daughter would try to bribe him with oral sex (him being, again, a video recording), and responding in turn.
  • Heroes: Following the death of his father Kaito, Hiro finds a tape in which Kaito instructs him to never open the safe in the office. Needless to say, Hiro pauses the tape and opens the safe. Inside is a note saying "Press Play". Cue Kaito scolding Hiro. "I told you not to open the safe!" Then again, this seems like a reasonable precaution rather than a prediction of Hiro's actions. Kaito had to account for the possibility of Hiro ignoring his instructions. Plus Kaito is Hiro's dad. It's likely he knows his son well enough to guess that he'd be silly enough to open it. And according to a deleted scene, Kaito had the power to see all outcomes of anything, so he would see the possibility of Hiro opening the safe and planned accordingly.
  • House:
    • Dr. House does a variation of this: he knows the people around him well enough that he frequently tells them to stop doing whatever they're doing, just after they start doing it... when he's talking over the phone.
    • A funnier example is when he anticipates the tests each of his students will do and the results and puts them in an envelope at the start.
    • But fails epically when he starts scolding Cuddy as she enters his office, while facing the wall. It turns out to be the janitor. Cuddy enters some later, and House starts the scolding again with the very same words. Living tape on!
      Cuddy: How'd you know it was me?
      House: (nonchalantly) There's a scent given off by wounded, feral cats.
    • In another episode he sends a male prostitute to Cuddy's office to give her a massage. He gives the guy a script of every objection she will make and the counter argument he needs to respond with.
  • House of Anubis: Happens when Patricia loses her voice and types up stuff to tell Eddie. Includes things like, "You should apologize for whatever cheeky comment you just made" and "Don't pretend like you have a packed schedule". Which of course, he did.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • When Barney skips work so he can enact a Zany Scheme, anyone who calls his office phone gets a pre-recorded message that makes it sound like Barney's at work but is too busy to talk at the moment. Of course, no matter who calls, the recording refers to them by the same name, but Barney gets around this by convincing each and every person at his office that "Big Chief" is his "secret nickname" for them.
    • Barney also has one where in a video he makes years in advance, he not only predicted some of the responses, but also the seating arrangement (by turning to face Marshall when he reacted to a comment).
    • This is the most plausible explanation for another Barney example. After asking a woman if she likes magic and getting a response of "Um, I guess...", he causes those exact words to appear on one of his hands, with the other hand showing her reaction of "Oh my God!" Later on, it's subverted; Marshall calls Barney a "jackass" and Barney shows his hand to say "You're a jerk!"
  • I Dream of Jeannie: Subverted in "Nobody Loves A Fat Astronaut". Major Nelson tries to call home, and argues with a "recording". In reality, it was Jeannie's sister pretending to be a recording.
  • The IT Crowd:
  • Jekyll: Hyde does this to Jackman (from the same writer as "Blink"): being a Superpowered Evil Side, he knows how Jackman thinks. He even pre-arranges for a new TV to be delivered just after Jackman has destroyed the old one 'cause the recording was freaking him out.
    "Think of a number. No, do it Daddy! A big silly number, go on, it's a game. Say it out loud, a big fat number, any big fat number!"
    "One hundred and three."
    "One hundred and three."
    "Oh God."
  • The Jim Henson Hour: In "Videotape", Gonzo leaves a pre-recorded version of himself for Kermit, which accurately predicts everything Kermit can say and do.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Early on in Kamen Rider Kiva, Wataru is a semi-Hikikomori, covering his entire body and communicating using a notebook full of pre-written responses. At one point Megumi says "You can't possibly have every response you need in there!" — and Wataru immediately starts going through the book so he can respond. Minutes later, Megumi tries to unmask Wataru, and in the struggle he drops his notebook; a brief shot shows that it fell open on a page reading "Someone please stop her!"
    • Kamen Rider Build: Late in the series, post-Heel–Face Turn, Gentoku Himuro takes to wearing Fun T-Shirts under a leather biker jacket, which he will occasionally unzip in order to respond to someone else. It's frequently subverted for comedy, as when he reveals a shirt that says "I agree with the guy to my right"...while standing on the far right side of the heroes. He then walks around to the left side just to make the shirt work; he does this while they're facing down the Big Bad, prompting a (happy) Surrounded by Idiots reaction from Sento.
  • Lexx: All of history is a Stable Time Loop, with each Cycle of Time connected to the last by the Time Prophet: a psychic who can see the future as it occurred in the previous cycle. When a petitioner asks her about some mineral deposits, she instead recites a message to Stanley Tweedle, knowing that 5000 years later, he will accidentally trigger an archived recording of this session during a crisis. (And when he forgets one digit from the address she has him memorize, she shouts it at him the moment he turns the tape back on.)
  • MacGyver: Mac does this to Pete in "The Odd Triple" via a message he left on his answering machine:
    Tape Mac: Hi, Pete. Listen, you might wanna sit down.
    Pete: [pauses for a second, then sits down]
    TM: Thanks. Listen, I had to help Jack out with a thing...
    Pete: [stands back up] You what?! You should know by know that Jack is nothing but trouble!
    TM: Listen and sit back down. I know you're gonna say that he's nothing but trouble but...
  • Mad About You: When Jamie's dead ex-boyfriend Alan leaves her a goodbye video, she gets into an argument with the television over exactly who dumped whom. Dead Alan then says that fact that he knew what she was going to say proves how truly compatible they were.
  • Magnum, P.I.: In "Luther Gillis #001", Thomas gets answering machine messages from Rick and Robin. He talks back to the one from Rick. ("Thomas, you've got to help me!" "What is it, Rick?" ... "How about it, pal?" "No." "Thanks!") Robin includes pauses anticipating what Thomas will say, for an overall effect like an actual conversation even though Thomas doesn't reply to him aloud.
  • Married... with Children: A lawyer is reading Al's uncle's will (and not looking at the other characters). At one point, the lawyer yells, "Al, get your hand out of your pants!"
  • M*A*S*H: Col. Potter invokes this trope upon the 4077th in one episode: he makes an announcement over the PA for everyone interested in volunteering for a particular assignment to report to the mess hall immediately, and for everyone else to report there five minutes earlier. He then waits a second for the anticipated (but unheard) grumblings from the camp, goes back on the PA, and replies, "Same to you."
  • In The Mentalist, Jane finally narrows down that the series Big Bad, a serial killer whose real identity has yet to be established, is one of seven men, only to receive a video recording from the Big Bad himself, made months earlier, in which a list of the same seven names is read off. (How exactly this was accomplished is never explained.)
  • Modern Family: Phil tries to do this as a Career Day presentation: he talks to a recording of himself dressed up as a kid to explain real estate to Luke's class. However, Gil Thorpe keeps interrupting him and throwing off the timing.
  • The Monkees: In the second episode, while listening to a last will and testament on a phonograph record, one guest is shocked that he didn't inherit anything and the record promptly tells him to shut up.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus. A sketch (the lead-in to the legendary Lumberjack Song) has a reluctant barber play a tape of hair-cutting sounds and small-talk:
    Tape: I thought Hurst played well, sir.
    Client: I beg your pardon?
    Tape: (louder) I thought Hurst played well.
  • My Hero (2000): Cassie, the Sundays' precognitive baby daughter invokes this trope after becoming fed up with her parents' arguing over which school she should be sent to and running away from home, leaving behind a note which George involuntarily recites in her voice.
    George (in Cassie's voice): Why didn't you ever ask me where I want to go to school? I'm the one with the prophetic gift.
    George (in his own voice): Yes, but it's a gift that's not properly developed Cassie.
    Turns paper over and starts reading the other side
    George (in Cassie's voice): It IS properly developed, as I am proving now.
  • The Nanny:
  • NCIS:
    • At one point, Abby records some of Gibbs's most common responses, and lets Tony play a few. Then the cycle reaches a recording of Gibbs reminding her to get off her tangent (showing Tony the recordings) and back to the case.
    • Abby has information for Gibbs but can't deliver it personally, so she sends Tony and Ellie in her stead. She also gives them a script to read from, which even includes Gibbs saying "Skip to the part I care about."
    • Played with in another episode where McGee asks a question and Tony plays his tape recorder saying "I knew you would say that, McGee", after which he repeats aloud, "See? I knew you would say that, McGee." After discussing what their plan of action should be, Tony plays the tape again: "Do it."
    • In a later episode, McGee is on vacation, and leaves Torres and Bishop's desks covered with sticky notes. When Torres voices his plan to get rid of them and blame the cleaning crew, Bishop reveals a note from McGee that tells her to not let him do that.
  • NewsRadio: In "Security Door", Dave prepares a slideshow to explain the new security door at the entrance to his employees and is able to accurately predict their questions and have corresponding visuals in his presentation, in the correct order, for his responses, including to the questions "What happens if there's an earthquake?" and "What if a wizard casts a spell on us?".
  • Done heartwarmingly in Night Court episode "The Trouble is Not in Your Set". Harry makes a tape to help a woman, for whom the boundaries between reality and TV have blurred, to understand once more there is a difference. (And to get her to give up the grenade.)
  • Nowhere Man has an episode where Thomas Veil finds a pirate broadcast show that mirrors his own situation. When he goes to the show's producer, the man eventually leaves the room and Veil goes to the tape recorder on which he'd been dictating the plot of the next episode. After rewinding it, he starts the tape, which talks about how the hero grabs a tape recorder, rewinds it, and starts it.
  • The Patty Duke Show: Patty has taken a "vow of silence" to prove that she can go an extended period without running her mouth. She engages in a complete conversation with her boyfriend by responding to everything that he says with pre-written signs. Eventually he asks how she was able to anticipate his statements. Her reply: "You're predictable."
  • Person of Interest: A non-verbal version is Played for Drama at the end of "Risk". The protagonists have just thwarted a massive financial scam, and Detective Carter is told that the corrupt SEC investigator involved has committed suicide. Puzzled because she saw him being arrested, Carter checks CCTV footage of the arrest. It shows a police officer putting the SEC man into his squad car, turning to look directly at the camera, then leaving a mobile phone in a garbage can for her to find. When they dial the only number in the phone's memory, they're connected with a Big Bad from earlier in the season.
  • Poirot: Happens, somewhat amusingly, several times in Poirot's Voiceover Letter to Hastings in Curtain.
    Poirot's Letter: For you see, Hastings... YOU killed her.
    Hastings: I killed her?!
    Poirot's Letter: Oui, mon ami, you did.
  • The Prisoner (1967): In the spoof episode "The Girl who was Death", this happens as part of a Mission: Impossible parody, where Number Six as a secret agent is being given his instructions from an LP in a record store.
    Record: There's very little help I can give you, I'm afraid. The enemy have been one step ahead of us all along.
    Number Six: [sarcastic] Thank you very much.
    Record: What was that?
    Number Six: Nothing.
    Record: Standard disguise.
  • QI: In later seasons, obvious snarky comments or Running Gags are as likely to get contestants penalized as obvious wrong answers (the original purpose of the klaxon being the latter). In some cases, the anticipated "wrong answer" is remarkably detailed or accurate.
    Stephen Fry: Now, tell me about the Great Disappointment.
    Jo Brand: [buzzes] Have you been talking to my husband?
    [klaxon] [Screen: "HAVE YOU BEEN TALKING TO MY HUSBAND?"]
  • Raising Hope: Done by Sabrina's Grandmother in her video will.
  • Red Dwarf: "Fathers and Suns" has Dave make messages (then getting very drunk so he can forget he made them) in order to have a father and son chat with himself. Each message ends with him leaving instructions for himself to do before moving onto the next one. And each one begins with him shouting at himself for not following instructions.
  • Saturday Night Live: Invoked by Adam Sandler in an episode. Sandler faces the camera and tells his parents that he will not be able to visit them for Thanksgiving, so he instructs them to record the next few minutes on their VCR, while he sits in front of the camera, eating dinner and pretending have a conversation with them. His parents are instructed to place a TV at the dinner table where he would normally sit, and play back the recording during Thanksgiving dinner. It starts out with Sandler engaging in pleasant small talk (e.g., "Great turkey, Mom"), but quickly degenerates into arguing, yelling, and bitter accusations, and ends with him Calling the Old Man Out.
  • Schitt's Creek: A variation; Moira does an interview on a talk show while Alexis guides her with cue cards. When Moira starts to go off on a tangent about movie streaming, the next cue cards in the stack already read "STOP TALKING ABOUT STREAMING" and "MOVE ON."
  • Scrubs: When Kelso decides he no longer wants to spend time with patients, he has Ted go room to room with a pre-recorded tape of him. Every time Ted leaves the room, the tape yells at him not to forget the tape. Ted wonders how the tape always knows.
  • On ''Side Hustle," Jaget is upset the gang refuses to take part in his self-defense course or fighting some of his rivals. He shows up to collect his equipment, playing recordings from his phone on how he's not really speaking to them. Subverted for laughs as the recordings continue to demand they give back the stuff when they already did and "Stop crying, you're embarrassing yourselves" while they're just staring at him.
    Munchy: I think you misinterpreted how this conversation was going to go.
  • Spooks: Harry uses a clever ploy to outwit the Russian and Chinese spies who have managed to bug the Grid with microphones and are trying to kidnap or kill their CIA-backed contact, a computer hacker turned security consultant. He turns the spies' own equipment against them and manages to devise an entire conversation with them using the voice recordings to distract them while he and CO19 quietly infiltrate the enemy HQ.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • A hologram of an Ancient gives some improbably helpful prerecorded responses to questions. But then the hologram turns out to be an Ascended Being pretending to be a hologram.
    • Subverted in "Thor's Chariot", when it turns out the assumed message from the alien Thor is actually a real-time holographic communication.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Inheritance", Data meets his "mother", Julianna, who had assisted in his construction. In a tunnel cave-in, it's discovered Julianna is really an android herself (the real Julianna died years ago and her husband uploaded her memories into an android body without her knowing it). Data discovers a chip inside Julianna that has a holographic recording of Noonien Soong, left behind to explain this. When Data identifies himself, Soong reveals he'd also secretly hoped it would be Data finding this and "created a special response program" just for him.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In one episode, the Grand Nagus sends Quark a recorded video message:
    Nagus: Guess where I am, Quark.
    Quark: Risa?
    Nagus: If you said Risa, guess again!
  • Strangers with Candy: Taken to its logical extreme when Chuck Noblet goes on sick leave and leaves a tape recorder to teach his class. The tape knows Jerri will try to pass a note to her friend, orders her to come up to the front of the class and lectures her. When she gets fed up and fast-forwards it, it just says "Nice try." and continues the lesson.
  • Supernatural:
    • In "Hammer of the Gods", the Trickster leaves a DVD with the Winchesters. When they play it, it turns out to be a porn tape starring himself.
      Sam: What the hell's going on?
      Trickster: [aside glance] Sam, Dean; you're probably wondering what the hell's going on.
    • In "The Monster at the End of This Book", Sam and Dean find their lives are written down in a horror book series called Supernatural. The author hands them an uncompleted manuscript, which Dean reads while sitting in a laundromat... about a scene involving Sam and Dean in a laundromat.
      Sam: Stop it!
      Dean: [reading] "Stop it!" Sam said. Guess what you do next? [Sam turns his back on Dean]
      Dean: "Sam turned his back on Dean, his face brooding and pensive." I mean, I don't know how he's doing it, but this guy is doing it. I can't see your face, but those are definitely your brooding and pensive shoulders.
      Sam: [sighs]
      Dean: [reading] You just thought I was a dick.
      Sam: Guy's good.
  • Tales Of Tomorrow: In "The Children's Room", Walter's parents forbid him from reading the strange book given to him by the mysterious librarian, and his father tears out some pages and drops it in the wastebasket. When they've left, Walter retrieves it from the trash, and the very first passage he reads refers to how readers' parents have failed to take it away from them.
  • Taskmaster:
    • Tasks are always given as pre-written letters from the Taskmaster. The first part of a task in series 9, episode 4, was "Say a letter of the alphabet", and Ed Gamble responded by saying "A letter of the alphabet" out loud. Alex then pulled a second task out of his pocket, on which was written "Ha, ha, ha. You must now pick a letter of the alphabet and say that letter out loud." Ed's repsonse this time? "I bet you're really proud of yourself for that one, aren't you?"
    • With Sarah Millican proving very Genre Savvy by doing things such as checking under tables, the crew left an envelope under a table in one of her tasks that simply said, "Hello, Sarah." Again, they did this only for her.
  • Taxi: Latka pre-records his greetings to the drivers after he loses a bet with Tony and has to stay silent for a month. He mostly gets it right. In his defense, it was a reasonable guess.
    Latka on tape: Hello Bobby... how is your career coming along?
    Bobby: Fine. As a matter of fact...
    Latka on tape: Sorry to hear that, Bobby.
  • Too Close for Comfort. Henry received a message from his boss in a sealed envelope via his chauffeur, Regis (a tall, beautiful blond woman). Henry read the message and told Regis, "You tell him ...". Regis then pulled another envelope from inside her jacket and handed it to him, the second message being a response to what Henry said. The cycle lasted at least four envelopes.
  • In Brazilian Series TV Colosso, there's a story where a guy watching a boxing match on TV argues with the boxers into what intially seems to be a case of The Television Talks Back. When he asks the boxers what they'll do since he's not meeting them in person, they show up at his home and explain it's not a live transmission.
  • Veronica Mars: When Cliff McCormack and Keith Mars confront Sheriff Lamb with a picture of him kissing Madison Sinclair, he replies "So what? She's eighteen — it's legal!" They reply that it sounds like a good re-election slogan, and show him another copy of the image with "She's 18, it's Legal!" superimposed.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?
    • Frequently played for laughs in the game "Improbable Mission", a parody of Mission: Impossible, that starts with a "mission tape" (usually Wayne Brady or Greg Proops talking off-camera), which would frequently answer back to Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles. This would also cross into The Tape Knew You Would Do That with the tape responding to its method of disposal, such as yelling when it's tossed out of the window.
      Proops: We couldn't afford the explosives for this one so you'll have to toss me out the window.
      Mochrie: Oh, okay. -tosses the tape out the window-
      Proops: Aaaaaahhhh....!
    • Sometimes happens accidentally during "Newsflash"; Colin will say something about the video behind him without seeing it, which then changes to something that's hilarious considering what was just said.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati: Played straight when one of Jennifer's elderly gentlemen friends dies and includes her in the execution of his will. He videotapes a message to be played for his various sponging relatives, at one point correctly mimicking one of their replies. As for Jennifer, whom the man's relatives assume is a mere golddigger, he requests she uses the rest of his money for a big parade. The relatives protest this seemingly ridiculous waste of money, but are stunned when Jennifer immediately starts making arrangements to fulfill his wishes without any thought of taking money for herself.

    Print Media 
  • A MAD piece about cheap-but-overpriced cable service had as the "psychic channel" loop of a woman saying to the camera "I knew you was going to do that".

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Done occasionally, when a "live conversation" taking place between someone in the ring and someone being broadcast over the big screen, turns out to have been a prerecorded statement as just a distraction for the wrestler to run up behind his target or conduct some other nefarious business backstage. Then again, many such things that are "supposed" to be live are still prerecorded and the entire conversation gets scripted, but in those cases it's not (intentionally) proven to be that way.
  • Before a match with Cedric Alexander for Pro Wrestling Guerilla, Adam Cole had handed the ring announcer a note describing how he was going to beat ACH's ass, he meant Alexander. When the crowd responded "That was racist" the announcer then read that in the event of a "that was racist" chant the crowd could collectively suck Cole's dick.

  • The Frantics:
    • Last Will and Temperament. Boot To The Head! Every Boot To The Head. Perfectly timed with statements to get subjects to drop their BOOT TO THE HEAD *WHATHONK* guard.
    • He didn't bother with the know-it-all nephew Ralston.
      Lawyer: "To my know-it-all nephew Ralston..."
      Ralston: This is so predictable...
      Lawyer: "...I leave a boot to the head."
      Ralston: I knew it!
  • The Goon Show: In a surrealist rapid-fire comedy, it's no surprise that this happens every time a recording shows up. There's lots of great examples, but the most legitimate match to the trope is probably...
    Moriarty: (on wax-cylinder gramophone) Next [in the bank break-in plan], do you have a match?
    Seagoon: Yes, but they're all wet.
    Moriarty: Curse! Wait here, I'll go get some. Taxi! (a car drives up and stops) To a tobbaconist's shop, and step on it! (car drives off)
    Seagoon: (after a few seconds of silence) Blast, we've reached the end of the recording, now there's no way to get him back.
    Bloodnock: Yes there is; play it backwards.
    Seagoon: Of course! Turn it over, and... there!
    Moriarty (recording): (car drives up) !Ti no pets dna pohs s'tsinoccabbot a oT (car starts up and drives off) !ixaT .emos teg og ll'I, ereh tiaT (recording skips)
    Seagoon: What happened? (a phone rings, Seagoon answers) Hello?
    Moriarty (on phone): You fools!
    Seagoon: Moriarty! Where are you?
    Moriarty (on phone): In hospital, badly scratched. You swines were using a blunt needle!
  • The Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air: On the January 9, 1938 broadcast, announcer John Hiestan tells the audience that Donald Duck will not be appearing on account of his obnoxious behavior on last week's show. Afterward, Mickey receives a telegram.
    Mickey: (reading) "My dear, vast, impatient public, dry your eyes and keep your shirts on. I'll be with you any minute now. Signed, D. Duck."
    Minnie: Ooh! But Mickey, how could he?
    John: Don't worry, Minnie. I guarantee that Donald Duck will positively not appear on this broadcast.
    Mickey: (still reading) "P.S.: That's what you think!"

    Tabletop Games 
  • A board game called Atmosfear: Harbingers uses pre-recorded video for random events and a countdown timer for the game. On the video, a character and main antagonist called The Gatekeeper interrupts the game and announces the effect. About halfway through the game, The Gatekeeper asks for the player who, before starting the game, was selected to be the 'Chosen One.' He asks, "did you miss me?" to which the Chosen One will almost always say, "no." The Gatekeeper will respond with a snide and dismissive, "shut up."
  • Parodied in a published scenario for Cyberpunk 2020. The characters' employer briefs them about their mission with a recorded message. Near the end of the message, he asks, "Do you have any questions?" There is a pause, after which he says, "Sorry, I can't answer because I'm just a recording, you dumbasses."
  • Played with in the Warhammer 40,000 audioplay Blackshields: The Red Fief. The protagonist is arguing with Malcador the Sigilite over an interstellar holocall (which is somewhat shocking given that technology doesn't exist in the setting). It's revealed to the listener at the end of the conversation that Malcador was doing this trope and it's a recording, which is fully in character for the psychic chessmaster. And then another character asks why he keeps watching that message over and over...

  • In the musical Lucky Stiff, the uncle of the protagonist, Harry, left his will in the form of a cassette tape. Said uncle was apparently able to predict Harry's reaction to various things despite the fact that the two had never met. Though, to be fair, it's not that hard to predict that a person's reaction to being told to take a corpse to the French Riviera on vacation would be to say it was impossible...
  • In the Les Luthiers play Lutherapia, there's a moment in which Murena is reading a letter from Ramírez with the latter's voice in the background. In one moment, Murena coughs and Ramírez says "keep smoking", and in another, Ramírez gets stuck mispronouncing a phrase, until Murena shakes the letter and Ramírez can go on.
  • In The Pajama Party Murders, Pettibone is listening to the first tape of Bartholomew Cosmo's instructions:
    Cosmo: Well, Pettibone, we can take care of them, can't we?
    Pettibone: We can?
    Cosmo: Of course we can!
  • The Real Inspector Hound employs this trope with the radio announcement. (Made doubly fun by stage directions which suggest that the radio voice be pre-recorded for the show.)
    Radio voice: The killer has been spotted in the vicinity of isolated Muldoon Manor.
    Mrs. Drudge: Muldoon Manor?
    Radio voice: Yes, Muldoon Manor.

    Video Games 
  • Taken to an extreme in Assassin's Creed II: While Ezio is talking to Minerva, she suddenly breaks off, stares right at the camera, and addresses Desmond by name. Not only did The Hologram Know You Would Say That, but The Hologram Knew Your Descendant Would Be Following You Via Genetic Memory. Desmond's reaction is about the same as the player's. The third game apparently justifies it by indicating that Those Who Came Before may be able to see into the future on some level.
  • Played straight and parodied a little in the Borderlands 2 DLC "Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary", with the audio recording last will and testament of Scooter. The recording gives the mission of carrying out Scooter's last requests, with the tape running while you do the mission as Scooter is somehow able to predict when you complete an objective and need to go to the next one. But at one point Scooter incorrectly predicts that at the moment your character is taking a dump (they're most likely fighting through a wave of bandits) and tells them to enjoy that dump.
    • Another example happens in the main game in Will, a random bandit patrolling the Tundra Express area. The ECHO he drops turns out to be a Video Will bequeathing a nearby stash of weapons to whomever killed him, and assuring you that he is totally not luring you into a trap out of revenge for you killing him. When you reach the stash and spring the trap, Will berates you through the ECHO, and then grumbles "you suck" afterward when you survive the ambush.
  • In the second Dark Fall game, Parker reads the deranged lighthouse-keeper's journal, which taunts Parker - whose arrival the man had no plausible means of anticipating - by name.
  • In Deltarune, the villainous puzzlemaster Rouxls Kaard pulls this off after scribbling out the instructions for a puzzle and leaving a written message for the heroes.
    Ralsei: H... Huh!? The instructions are vandalized...! It says... "Thoust fools, thou will NEVER figure it out now!" Ruining instructions... That's definitely against the rules! Then it, um, says, "PS - I make my own Rules. - RK"
  • Discworld II uses a similar idea with a twist. Mrs. Cake, a seer, answers Rincewind's questions before he asks them. If the player replies to an answer with a wrong question, she says something like "make up your mind, young man" and the conversation has to be started over. A gag carried over from the books, where Mrs. Cake got terrible migraines if the other person deviated from the premonition.
  • In The Feeble Files, Feeble ends up talking to his long-dead grandfather in his tomb through a hologram that is inexplicably capable of correctly responding to what he says. Though the game never really makes it clear whether it's this trope or it literally being a holographic ghost of the grandfather.
  • Halo Infinite: Cortana "speaks" to Chief in her last appearance, but she actually just recorded a message to him. She actually lampshades it.
    Cortana: They'll pair you with another A.I. Maybe even another Cortana model if Halsey lets them. It won't be me... but you know that, right? But that doesn't matter.
    The Weapon: It's just another echo.
    Cortana: She's right, John. Just another echo. (Beat) Sorry, I'm just messing with you! I just had... a feeling that's what she would say.
  • Krew leaves behind a holographic will in Jak X: Combat Racing. After he tells the group he wants them to race, he pauses long enough to let them protest, then tells them he knew that they'd refuse, so he's poisoned them. He then apologizes to Rayn for upsetting her, then pauses again so they can argue about how to get out of that mess.
  • In Live A Live, Cube's chapter, you get repetitious video dialogues with the captain. Did you think the programmers were lazy? Well, maybe, but those later turn out to be a recording. The captain is long dead and the ship computer is keeping the ruse to kill the rest of the crew.
  • In the Mega Man X series, although at first Dr. Light's recordings are fairly plausible, by Mega Man X4 they comment on very current events, even occasionally using the names of certain characters. It's implied that the holograms aren't just recordings but copies of Dr. Light's mind.
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Henry leaves an answering machine recording that replies to what Travis is saying, and the player is thinking.
    Henry: Travis... Forgive your big brother, who was too much of a shitebag to thank you face to face.
    Travis: How does he know which one of us popped out first?
    Henry: You're prob'ly spoutin' off about which one of us popped out first. Point is, there's no honor in getting rescued by my younger, BABY brother. So, I took it upon myself to proper kill Scott Gardner, Greg Cantrell and Massimo Bellini. [...] I took pictures of the three skangers as souvenirs. You'll just have to drool over 'em, 'cause there's no way you can play through these fights. The game's stuffed full as it is.
    Travis: How long is this message?!
  • Team Fortress 2: In the comic for the Mann vs. Machine update, when the Sniper asks if they're going to get paid for destroying all the robots, Saxton Hale in the video tape responds "This is pre-taped, so I don't know what anybody's talking about right now, but I am not paying you for this."

    Visual Novels 
  • In the Eroge Snow Sakura, the main character's father sends him tapes like this repeatedly including, in one ending sending him a wedding ring needed to propose to his Love Interest (and cousin) weeks before it's needed, and orchestrating the entire proposal via tape.

    Web Animation 
  • In Dorkly Originals, Mega Man X is having an argument with Dr. Light about his new upgrade (a reindeer sweater), and during the conversation, X realizes that Light's capsule is actually pre-recorded, making their whole argument odd.
  • In Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction, Delta creates a message like this for Church. Notably, the usage of the trope here averts the nearly omniscient overtones that are usually present. When Church tries to mess with the recording by saying outrageous things, Delta simply responds by saying "stop testing me". This, of course, is handwaved by the fact that Delta is the Alpha AI's logic unit, and so explained that he used logic to predict what Church would ask his recording. He just happened to be remarkably accurate. Later reveals indicate this was helped by the fact that Church is the Alpha AI that Delta was originally split from.
  • In Season 8 of Sonic for Hire, Eggman announces his conquest on live television, also uses the opportunity to mock Sonic and Tails by detailing their actions and mimicking words, including that Sonic would shoot the TV.
  • Zero Punctuation: Lampshaded in his review of Braid:
    Yahtzee: You know who I blame for all this? You! Yes, you, the public. Especially you, Adrian! (That probably isn't your name, but it was worth it to mess with the heads of all the Adrians in the world).

  • While the good Doctor and Chuck are hiding i, he decides to help jog his (and the reader's) memory by recapping the events that transpired in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. Which led to them needing to go hiding in the first place, and because it's Dr. McNinja (and Chuck) he adds "I know you didn't read all of it. Do it again." on the end of the board. (Contains spoilers)
  • Darths & Droids:
    • In episode 321, someone roleplaying a recorded message lampshades the fact that another player just answered him as if he could hear it.
      "Right... I'm glad I'm a recording and didn't hear that."
    • In the non-canon strip 1752, a player and the Game Master accidentally get into a bit of a conversation when the GM's dialogue is supposed to be a recording.
      "So this project Twilight Sparkle..."
      "You're saying it can destroy planets?"
      "I'm a hologram recording, but yes."
  • Happens in Experimental Webcomic Kotone between the main character and Professor Akira, and it's funny as hell.
  • The Greatest Estate Developer: A variation that involves live (albeit one-way) communication instead of a recording. The protagonist Lloyd is giving orders via signal flags that his knight Bayern is interpreting for the benefit of Cavalry Commander Blanc. Lloyd is so far away that he cannot possibly see or hear the recipients of his messages respond, so when Blanc starts objecting to the orders...
    Blanc: He seems to want us to attack them from the side, but we cannot possibly stop this charge with a side attack!
    (Lloyd continues signaling.)
    Bayern: (Still reading the signals.) "If you keep... arguing... I will tattle on you... to her majesty."
    Blanc: Seriously!? That is what he said? Is he not just flailing about!?
    Bayern: "No. All of this. Was. Predetermined."
  • In this The Hero of Three Faces strip, the Third Doctor explains to the agency on the other end of a one-way communication device how to turn it into a two-way device, apparently responding to their confusion even though his point is he can't currently hear them.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Jadis demonstrates she's The Omniscient by rattling off the exact responses of her conversation partner, including involuntary muscle movements and the other person's thoughts, as they happen with her back turned. Rather than being smug about it, it demonstrates Jadis' particular brand of Blessed with Suck: She knows everything, and can't not know everything, including how everything happens and always will happen. The Alt Text of the last few pages up to that one even contains all of Allison's actions in that order, adding a layer of meta to her predictive ability.
  • Ménage à 3 - Gary makes an unexpected trip to Paris and leaves only a small note explaining where he's gone. Zii complains that he'd have had more space in an e-mail.
    Didi: (reading) "I did not email, as you girls never check your emails—"
    Zii: Twitter, then!
    Didi: "Or your Twitters..."
    Zii: Face—
    Didi: "Or Facebook."
  • An earlier webcomic by Mark Sachs of A Miracle of Science fame — No Headroom — showed the protagonist conversing with a recording of his dead grandma. Which goes exactly as per trope, until...
  • Narbonic has a version where a future version of Dave makes a recording for his own past self, who has temporarily taken over his body. Dave has perfect memory, so he's able to hold an entire conversation with himself by remembering what his responses were the first time.
    past!Dave: [Running] would be *huff* a lot easier if you'd quit smoking at some point!
    recording!Dave: Don't sass me, boy.
    • There was also an arc where Artie would extrapolate what Dave or Helen were about to say and respond pre-emptively.
  • A variation in The Order of the Stick:
    Redcloak: Do you actually expect me to believe that Xykon stopped in the middle of a battle to conduct a job interview?
    Written note: Check it out, I totally conducted a job interview in the middle of a battle. —Xykon
    Redcloak: *sigh*
  • Used in Persona 4TW almost word-for-word in the quote. Interestingly enough, this was unintentional.
  • Questionable Content has Drunk Hannelore leaving post-it notes for her morning-after self. Many of them berate Sober Hannelore for ripping up the notes.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: About the simplest version possible: A machine that "knows what you're thinking" that just outputs a card saying "This is bullshit" (which is, of course, what you'll be thinking when you hear about it).
  • Schlock Mercenary: Sufficiently powerfull AIs can do this to lesser AIs.
    Ennesby: Hey! We'll have time to play some chess!
    Haban: Mate in 16 moves on our first game. 18 on our second.
    Ennesby: You can't possibly be that many moves ahead, Haban.
    Narrator: Yes he can.
  • In Skin Horse Artie (the same as in Narbonic) has a card explaining his origin for large events.
    Tip: Okay, you did not know what I was going to ask-
    Artie: Other side.
    Tip (reading): "I also have a biochemically-enhanced posthuman intellect. Of course I did."
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • "Kesandru's Well" has a low-level version (ie. it involves no great ingenuity, but it still kind of works) when Torg skips a house meeting by putting a realistic facsimile of himself with Kiki the ferret inside in his place. He's given Kiki a recording of his voice repeating alternatively "I don't see what that has to do with anything!" and "A likely story." Gwynn manages to have a few rounds of conversation with it before she starts to feel like Torg's not even listening. When Kiki pops out and says that Torg's taking a nap, the voice recorder that she's holding goes "A likely story" again, and Kiki feels compelled to try to convince it: "No, really, Mr. Voice Recorder! He's taking a nap!"
    • Another simple version in "Oceans Unmoving": When Kada finds and plays a recorded message left behind for her by Makz, who betrayed her earlier, the recording anticipates her first reaction to seeing him being to swear and call him names: "Now-now, Kada, your "fregs" bounce off me for this is commonly referred to as a "recording"."
  • Done in Spiderwebs. Selena, bored moon goddess, recently accepted a new avatar, only leaving him with a little problem and a magical book. After the new avatar realizes she can't sleep at night, she decides to read the book.
    Luna: There's no way. A book can not read minds, or answer questions.
    Selena: No. No they can't. I'm just really good at guessing what you are going to do.
  • Mindmistress has the eponymous superhero use her immense intellect to play out this trope with a series of flash cards against a super-fast opponent, showing that she predicted all of his actions in advance.
  • A character in Wapsi Square is reading a book of instructions written by herself from a previous time loop. Pretty much every time some instruction seems absurd to her or she yells at the book, the immediate next line is something in reaction.
  • Doc from The Whiteboard builds "Backup Airsmith Hologram" to stay in the shop while he goes to the paintball field. He and Roger agree that a set of recorded messages is enough for the kind of clients they normally get. A subversion follows immediately.
  • xkcd: In "Prediction", Cueball tries to explain prediction probabilities to White Hat, who keeps misunderstanding key points. Cueball then plays a tape in which he predicted exactly how the conversation would go.

    Web Original 
  • After Hours - DOB's cards.
    Swaim: Hey, Daniel, what's your card say about you guys cracking up under pressure like a couple of B-HOLES!?
    Dan slowly turns over card, which reads:
    Card: Soren and Michael WIN (Michael says "B-Hole")
    Swaim begins a Slow Clap
  • Channel Awesome:
    • In the movie Kickassia, The Nostalgia Critic calls everyone at Channel Awesome to tell them "It's time." However, he doesn't tell them what it's time for (taking over Molossia). When he calls That Chick with the Goggles, this exchange occurs:
      Nostalgia Critic: Goggles?! It's time!
      That Chick: It is?
      Nostalgia Critic: We are taking over Molossia!
      That Chick: We're taking over Molossia?!
      Nostalgia Critic: That's right, so get your stuff together and come down to—
      That Chick: Oh, by the way, this has been an answering machine the whole time. Leave your message after the beep! *beep!*
    • This gets a Call-Back as during Paw's Top 9 Composers video; Spoony tries to call Goggles but gets the same message as above. (Unlike the Nostalgia Critic he isn't tricked by the message, though, only confused by it.)
    • Used again in his The Thief and the Cobbler review. As the Critic is wondering why Vincent Price's character is speaking in rhymes, he is called by Price, to which he answers "But you've been dead for a couple of years !". Cue this dialogue (quoted broadstroke).
      Price: Yes, indeed; but I have made a deal with the nefarious forces of the netherworld to be able to see the future with a one-hundred-percent accuracy. You see, I knew you would question my rhyming in this review, so I recorded this message and I set it to come off at precisely this hour.
      The Critic: You mean you know exactly what I'm going to say?
      Price: Pretty much.
      The Critic: This is crazy ! (…) And why, exactly, did you record this message?
      Price: To satisfy your curiosity by telling you why I rhymed in that cinematographic adventure that was The Thief and the Cobbler.
      The Critic: …okay, WHY?
      Price: …I forgot ! Oh, my, I have it on the tip of the tongue… it had something to do with a brand-new veeblefetzer and a couple of banana-splits…"
      • The Critic angrily hangs up. He is called again by Price at the end of the review, who says he knew he'd hang up, and to get revenge set a time bomb where the Critic's house was to be built.
        Price: Don't worry, it is programmed to come off in exactly thirty seconds. (the Critic tries to escape) Thirty, twenty-nine, twenty-eight, twenty-seven, twenty-six, skip-a-few-five-four-three-two-one-
        The critic's house explodes.
        Price: Ooooh, I love when I'm nasty.
    • In the Critic's review of Ghost Rider 2, Mike Jeavons from Shameful Sequels shows up in a prerecorded track hidden on the Critic's DVD. Apparently the movie was so boring that it gave Mike the power to predict the Critic's every word several years in the future, even allowing him to reference a Memetic Mutationnote  that didn't exist yet.
  • The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is a company which provides bots which are designed to waste the time of telemarketers and other unwanted callers. Some of the callers mistake the bots for this, kind of figuring out what's going on but thinking that they're just listening to a recording, rather than talking with a bot. As company founder Roger Anderson points out on one of his podcasts, the bots are designed to respond with stuff like "yes, yes" and "sure" when not in the middle of one of their routines, something that isn't possible with a garden-variety recording, no matter what television might try to tell us.
  • LoadingReadyRun:
    • Taken to ridiculous extremes with the Prepared Interview.
    • Played with in commodoreHUSTLE Episode 10: Judgment with Geoff. After Geoff steals the videos from Graham, he leaves a pre-recorded ransom note on the computer. After Graham, Matt, and Paul find this out, the computer video, which has been on a loop, gets to the end of the "conversation" after a long pause. This confuses the crew, since it's in response to nothing. However, then the ransom video starts the loop over again. It plays through this trope pretty much exactly, and when it gets to the end again, this time having a "conversation" with the crew, Graham says, "OK, that time works."
  • Ninja the Mission Force:
    • Taken to the Logical Extreme when Gordon's wife has mysteriously disappeared. Fortunately for him, however, his wife disappeared immediately after completing her video recording project, in which she seemed to know everything he was going to say and every situation he was going to be in for the rest of his life and prepared a response accordingly. Gordon carries around a TV with the VHS tape of her constantly playing everywhere he goes when he's not being a ninja.
    • In the second season, Gordon's wife may or may not have been rescued, and Gordon has been sent on a secret mission to Antarctica. Fortunately, his replacement has video recordings of Gordon to help her out.
  • In an episode of Otaku Generation Podcast that was uploaded in November of '06, A regular contributor by the name of Koko Moran left a voice-mail message on Skype for the crew since he was unavailable at the planned recording time. At one point he sort of goes off on a tangent and says, "Anyway, as I point out, nothing for nothing." at which point the hosts start to make a comment before the end of the voicemail, only to be interrupted by Koko saying, "Stop talking over me." Cue the laughter/surprise at how good the timing was.
  • A particularly meta example during a Retsupurae.note 
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-315 is a set of 95 of such videos, though each of them is one-use only. It is left unclear whether it is a genuine example, or if the videos are sentient.
  • The religious Jewish Israeli comedy troupe Underdos has an example in its video of two cantors, Yochanan and Yehoshua, who are competing for a position. Yehoshua has forsworn non-essential speech. After Yochanan demonstrates the Ashrei portion of the liturgy and Yehoshua holds up a sign saying he will also sing "Ashrei like Yochanan", Yochanan asks in shock how Yehoshua knew he would pick that. Yehoshua then begins to hold up a series of signs for every possible thing Yochanan could have picked.
  • An Untitled Abridger's abridged series of Another uses this extensively, as a character that committed suicide part-way through the anime continued communicating with everyone else exclusively through pre-recorded messages he had left behind along with instructions to play them at certain times for the rest of the entire series. He also had a barrel of unused winning lottery tickets left behind in his apartment, though that was just to show off.
  • X and Doctor Light have a very special prerecorded conversation. The entire conversation is full of correct reactions and such.
  • This little girl decided to communicate with notecards for an afternoon. She prepared notecards to answer all her mother's questions and remarks.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • Played with in "Dad's Dungeon"
      Jake: But Dad, Finn's already figured that out. He's a good kid with a kind heart.
      Joshua: Remember, Jake, this is a pre-recorded holo-message. I can't hear you if you're talking to me right now.
      (and then moments later...)
      Joshua: Ya gotta call Finn a whiny baby.
      Jake: But—
      Joshua: Butts are for pooping!
    • Subverted in "Shh!", where Finn and Jake decide to spend a day not talking, just answering in pre-written dialogue cards. Jake's cards are well-thought-out and could pass for this. Finn's... aren't.
  • The title character of Archer uses this gag relentlessly on his voicemail message, usually causing his mother to hold lengthy conversations with it. Inverted on the rare occasion when Archer actually answers his phone but his mother thinks it's another elaborate recording.
    • Archer himself becomes the victim of this once in a Season 6 episode, when his mother pulls a voicemail hoax on him.
    • An episode in season 7 has the drones and Malory hear Archer calling them for help, but Malory refuses to send anyone out as she anticipates another voicemail hoax, despite the gunfire heard. They are all shocked when they finally discover that the call was real and was still going on.
  • The Batman: The Animated Series episode featuring the Clock King used this trope. Fugate's tape perfectly predicted what Batman would do, down to the second. Of course, this is Fugate's gimmick:
    Clock King: (on tape) Sorry I couldn't be with you in person, Batman, but I've got a train to catch. This box contains a high-speed vacuum pump. I know you've got all kind of gas masks, so I'm putting you out of my misery by simply removing all the oxygen from the room. The process will take fifteen minutes...
    (Batman takes a gadget from his belt and points it at the door)
    Clock King: ...which is exactly seventeen minutes less than the time it would take you to burn through the door with that oxy-acetylene torch of yours.
    (Batman puts the gadget away and approaches the pump box)
    Clock King: Oh, and I don't recommend trying to open the pump's housing. It's rigged with a vibration-sensitive explosive. Of course, if you want to get blown to bits, that's fine with me. Either way, it's time to say adieu, Batman.
  • Inversion: In The Beatles cartoon "Don't Bother Me", two spies are tailing the band to steal their book of new songs (probably Decca executives). The boys are waiting on a train to take them from Rome to Barcelona, so the two spies stage an emergency hiding behind a structure beam:
    Spy: (over megaphone) There will be a slight delay in departure and arrival of all-a de trains. Somebody-a steal de tracks.
    Paul: Isn't that awful?
    Spy: (over megaphone) It's-a not-a too good!
  • In Birdz, Eddie tries to pull it on his away-from-home mom by recording an answering machine prompt structured like this, in an attempt to fool his calling parents into thinking that he's still home, babysitting his sister, rather than at a club. It doesn't works.
  • The Boondocks:
    • The episode "Wingmen" has 'Mo''s video will which asks Robert Freeman to read a eulogy, even though their friendship had ended on bad terms decades ago due to one-upmanship. The request is followed by about a minute of sucking up and pleading in order to get Robert to actually do it. It also tells him to sit back down after he jumps out of his seat in anger.
      • A second tape was prepared for when Robert finally did do the eulogy. Mo also stares at him in a slightly pleading manner, waiting and timed right until he opens a case revealing his inheritance. Mo then mocks Robert after he finds his inheritance is nothing but a jar full of peanuts, or "DEEZ/MY NUTS", and brags that now that he's pranked Robert from beyond the grave, Robert can never get him back. Robert, who has learned from the episode, keeps the jar of nuts in his trophy room.
    • Also in "Stinkmeaner" where Ruckus calls Robert, and Robert lets the answering machine pick it up. "Don't you walk away from this answering machine!"
  • Gazpacho's recording in the Chowder episode "Chowder Grows Up". It even says "Wait! I'm still talking!" when Mung closes the shutter while it is still playing.
  • In Dan Vs. "The Fancy Restaurant", Dan writes a message on the cheesecake Chris and Elise ordered for dessert, telling Chris to meet him in the men's room. Elise comments, "This is weird," and the waiter immediately appears with another cheesecake reading, "It's not weird. Don't listen to Elise."
  • The Danger Mouse episode "Duckula Meets Frankenstoat" features a taped transmission from Colonel K:
    Colonel K: Ah, there you are DM. I'm sending this recorded message...
    DM: Recorded message?
    Colonel K: Don't interrupt, DM. I had to send this recorded message as normal communications aren't available.
    • In "Where There's A Well, There's A Way," DM and Penfold follow the directions of a scroll en route to the Mystic Inkwell of Merlin:
      DM: (reading) "Into the caverns and down the stairs
      Must go the ones who would make it theirs..."
      Penfold: "Theirs"? "Their" what? What's it talking about?
      DM: Just a minute, Penfold...(reading) "The wish I mean, of course, that's what.
      Forgotten already, you stupid clot?"
    • And then after Penfold laughs at the message's Painful Rhyme:
      DM: (reading) "Just one more crack from little fatty,
      And he'll wish he was in Cincinnati!"
  • Detentionaire: Radcircles tries this to fake a message to Lee, to hide that he is actually with him at the time. Unusually, Lee actually participates in the knock-knock joke for once, so it fails when the recording assumes he didn't.
  • As the page's quote says, the Dilbert television series had an episode in which Dilbert talks to a tape recording of his mother, during which he angrily asks if he's so predictable that she can tape her half of the conversation ahead of time. He is. To the point where it tells him to put back the soda bottle he tries to steal.
  • In one episode of Dog City, Ace finds Dog City suffering a massive crime wave. He finds a newspaper with the headlines "DOG CITY GOES COPLESS. ENTIRE POLICE DEPT. DOGNAPPED"
    Ace: Don't tell me they got Rosie, too. (Opens paper) "Yes, they got Rosie too." Eh, I had to ask.
  • DuckTales (2017): In "The Beagle Birthday Massacre" Lena does this with messages in bottles:
    Webby: [reading] "Webby. I've been kidnapped by the Beagle Boys." Wait, is this another prank? [she sees another message in a bottle and pulls it out to read] "This is not a prank. Lena."
    • Another episode has a recording of Ludwig von Drake as an instructional interface to a booby trapped archive of seeds from across the world. At one point, the recording starts counting down, slowing down and even counting by halves so as to not activate a trap before the protagonists manage to escape. At another point, the recording flinches at Della angrily slamming her fist next to the monitor.
  • On The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy spends an episode playing with a Crimson Chin doll with prerecorded action phrases. Near the end, when Timmy is comforting Tootie, the doll has a oddly specific action phrase.
    "I’m totally into the idea of you giving me to Tootie. This way, she’ll always have a little piece of you she can smother and choke with love."
  • Family Guy:
    • Peter's boss Mr. Weed leaves a Video Will that alerts his employees that the factory is to be destroyed "right now," a second before a wrecking ball crashes through the building.
    • In the episode where Peter attends Meg's high school while pretending to be a student, he leaves a taped message to fool his wife, and though it works with the first two recorded lines, the third one is inappropriate and tips Lois off that it is a recording. The recording eventually straight up asks her, "If you haven't figured out this is a recording yet, please flip the tape over to side 2".
    • A Mexican guy knows only two very specific phrases in English (with a perfect American accent) which lets him hold a small conversation with Brian.
      Brian: Hola. Uh, m-me llamo es Brian. Uh, uh, let's see... Uh, nosotros... queremos... ir con ustedes.
      Mexican Guy: Hey, that was pretty good. But actually, when you said "me llamo es Brian", you don't need the "es", just "me llamo Brian".
      Brian: Oh, you speak English.
      Mexican Guy: No, just that first speech and this one explaining it.
      Brian: You... You're kidding, right?
      Mexican Guy: ¿Qué?
    • "Coming up, an expose on conveniently placed news reports in television shows. But first, Peter, look out for that skateboard." (Peter then slips on a skateboard.)
    • In one episode, Peter, has a protracted conversation with an actress on his TV, with her giving appropriate responses to everything he says. Cut to Bruce watching the same show at his home, "This is a weird episode".
  • From the Final Space episode "The Lost Spy", as Gary receives a transmission from Little Cato:
    Little Cato: I'm going as far away as I can, and please...don't come after me.
    Gary: We're going after him.
    (Second transmission pops up.)
    Little Cato: I knew you'd say that, so I recorded a second message to say: for REAL, do not come after me!
    Gary: ...We're going after him.
  • The Flintstones: In "Deep in the Heart of Texarock", when Fred is taking his sweet time at the airport while waiting for his flight to board.
    Wilma: Fred, shouldn't we be checking in? We'll miss the plane.
    Fred: Oh, don't worry, Wilma. I know this airline. They never leave on time.
    PA: Last call for Texarock, Flight #7, leaving on time... smart-aleck!
  • Futurama:
    • The episode "A Clone of My Own" has Prof. Farnsworth leave a recording for after he is taken to the Near Death Star. He correctly anticipates Bender making a joke at his expense and reveals that he has taken preemptive revenge by taping over Bender's soaps to make the recording.
    • In "Obsoletely Fabulous", Bender meets an outdated cartridge robot that carries a bag filled with individual cartridges for responses and conversations.
  • The Goof Troop episode "Sherlock Goof" has written instructions for a clumsy burglar which includes "cross the room quietly" after burglar's loud entrence through the window, "put the valuables back" when he fills his pockets with trinkets and "don't 'aww, Professor' me!" when he pouts.
  • In Gravity Falls, while the group try to escape The Monster of the Week in a very slow sky tram.
    Recording: Welcome to Trambience, the world's slowest treetop tram ride. Enjoy the sights at 0.1 miles per hour.
    Dipper: Ugh, can't this thing go any faster?
    Recording: No it can't. This is Trambience.
  • Zigzagged in The Inspector cartoon "Plastered in Paris": The Inspector and Sgt. Deux Deux are eating lunch in their patrol car — the Inspector trades his sandwich for Deux Deux's garlic/tabasco/chili peppers repast — when the Commissioner calls them about a mysterious figure named Mister X. The Commissioner ends the transmission to the Inspector with "And stop eating garlic!!"
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes does this gag with a message Sammy prerecorded in a tree.
    Sammy: On the 5th of Lucapril, all Miseryvillians go into hibernation. Why, you may ask? (beat, clears throat) WHY, YOU MAY ASK?
  • Played with a bit in Lilo & Stitch: The Series, where Experiment 625 makes a recording of Gantu's instructions early on in the episode. When he plays them back for Gantu later in the episode, Gantu starts to argue with his own recording, and (other than the fact that it's the same character on both sides) it sounds exactly like a real argument.
  • When Little Audrey is baking a cake by radio instructions and she grabs a handful of salt when the radio said a pinch the radio stops her by saying, "Hey, not so much!".
  • A frequent Looney Tunes gag. Typically the character would respond to a radio news announcement, and the radio would answer back, somewhat sarcastically.
    • In "The Impatient Patient," Daffy — delivering a telegram to somebody named Chloe — has the hiccups and discovers a doctor's building with the sign in flashing neon. When Daffy says "I'll bet he can't cure the hiccups," the sign changes to "Oh, yes I can!".
    • I Love to Singa and Cinderella Meets Fella, both of which are directed by Tex Avery, have a gag where a character is listening to the police over their radio. When a character wonders if they found who they are looking for, the radio replies they have not.
    • The Egghead cartoon "Count Me Out" has Egghead learning boxing from a record which some how knows every time he messes up.
    • The 1966 short Go Go Amigo has Daffy trying to stop Speedy and his friends from listening to the radio in his electronics store for free, and soon resorts to hijacking the radio station to play his own recording.
      Speedy: It's that loco duck!
      Daffy: (over the radio) You're right, rodent!
    • In the cartoon, "Johnny Smith and Poker-Huntas", Johnny Smith (Egghead) is about to executed. Meanwhile, Poker-Huntas is listening to the radio when a news bulletin about the execution is announced. Poker-Huntas exclaims, "Ooh! I'd better get going!" To which the announcer replies, "Yes, you'd better, sister, if you want this picture to have a happy ending!"
    • "Prehysterical Hare" has Bugs watching a film purportedly made in prehistoric days which presents a rabbit that looks like Bugs only with longer buck teeth. Bugs wonders if he could be an ancestor, to which the rabbit in the film turns to the camera and answers "Eh...could be!"
  • In The Mask episode "Fantashtick Voyage", Stanley leaves a recorded message for the Mask. It has a few statements showing that he knew his alter-ego would try to dismiss it, including a "don't press that dial!" when he is diving to change the channel.
  • Mighty Max: One of Virgil's summons to Max involves a video tape delivered to Max's home in "Werewolves of Dunneglen". Virgil correctly responds to Max's queries and reminds Max that this is a recording when Max wonders if it's a live broadcast. Almost all of Virgil's messages have traces of this. This gets justification in the last episode where Virgil reveals that he has an improbably detailed prophecy that he's been reading from the whole time.
  • A variant occurs in Motorcity. When the Duke of Detroit is talking to Mike over the radio in "The Duke of Detroit Presents", he has one of his underlings use cue cards with sketches of his face with various facial expressions while he's talking. Considering that each cue card perfectly corresponds with the Duke's tone and dialogue, he pretty much knew how his conversation with Mike would go.
  • My Little Pony:
    • In "An Apple for Starlight" from My Little Pony Tales, Ms. Hackney has to leave class because she isn't feeling well, but puts Starlight in charge and leaves behind a tape player and a tape with everyone's lessons on it. It's soon proved that she's somewhat skilled in this, though it's still not enough to keep the kids from acting up because she's gone.
    • My Little Pony: Make Your Mark: In "Growing Pains", Hitch leaves it to Izzy to dragonsit Sparky while he goes around Maretime Bay to ban earth ponies from using their out-of-control Green Thumb powers so he can reduce the damage. He then sends Izzy a prerecorded video detailing how to take care of Sparky:
      Hitch [on recording]: Be careful not to cross out any items on the Sparky schedule. It's important he does everything in order. Don't let him eat before sleeping, don't let him sleep before eating! Don't let him do all this unsupervised.
      Izzy: Huh? Even if he asks me to?
      Hitch [on recording]: Especially if he asks you to!
  • In the The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode "Groundpiglet Day", after Rabbit accuses Piglet of lying about Groundhog Day when there's snow in the Hundred Acre Wood (long story), the distraught little animal leaves him a note saying he's off in search of a groundhog. A very surprised Rabbit replies, "He must be kidding", and then reads further to find Piglet also wrote, "P.S. I'm not kidding".
  • When Phineas and Ferb's mother decides to take a (bad) French audio course:
    (A spaceship has just landed behind her.) The spaceship is right behind you. Le vaisseau spatial est juste derrière vous.
    (The title characters start boarding) Your children are climbing in the spaceship now. Vos enfants sont à la hausse dans le vaisseau spatial aujourd'hui.
    (It takes off) Oh, for the love of- would you turn around? Oh, pour l'amour de- serait que vous tournez autour?
  • In the Popeye cartoon "Seein' Red, White And Blue", Bluto received a Conscription letter and protested they couldn't do that to him. He then turned the letter over and saw written on the back "Oh yes, we can!".
    • In another cartoon, Poopdeck Pappy steals a plane to prove he can fly — and he can't. Popeye is in a hangar and hears an announcement on the PA system:
    PA: Attention. Attention. Whiskery old man in runaway plane is about to crash. [Sounds of crash] That is all.
    Popeye: Aw, that can't be my pappy.
    PA: Oh yes it can!
  • In the "Prank Callers" episode of Regular Show, Mordecai and Rigby pull this on the Master Prank Caller by way of an answering machine recording. He doesn't take it well.
  • The "Louse on 92nd Street" arc of Rocky and Bullwinkle had Rocky listen to a police bulletin on the radio, the dispatcher somehow being able to reply to Rocky's statements.
    Dispatcher: Be on the lookout for a getaway car with a confused moose in it.
    Rocky: A getaway car with a confused what in it?
    Dispatcher: Confused moose in it. That is all.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • The episode "A Night of Fright Is No Delight" featured an audio will in the form of a phonograph record:
      Colonel on record: The house is haunted.
      Scooby: Rhaunted?
      Colonel on record: Yes, haunted.
    • Subverted in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, when the gang get stuck in Death Trap-filled mansion while being taunted over a radio by the man that set them, thinking they're the original Mystery Incorporated:
      Man on the radio: You're wasting your time trying to confuse me, Brad and Judy, for this is just a recording of my voice that can't answer you!
      Daphne: Uh, but you did just answer me.
      Man over the radio: ... OK, fine, fine. I'm here!
  • The Simpsons:
    • Inverted on the episode "Marge Be Not Proud" with the Try-N-Save security chief Don Brodka (Lawrence Tierney) holding a conversation with what he — but not the audience — knew all along was a recording. Tierney didn't get it at all.
    • In one episode Principal Skinner makes a PA announcement requesting a student volunteer, Lisa raises her hand. Skinner pauses and says, "Can I assume the only hand raised is Lisa Simpson's?" then pauses again, then says, "Thank you Lisa".
    • In the episode "Gone Maggie Gone," Lisa has to decipher an ancient Catholic prophecy about a jewel that will bring world peace. She eventually realizes the final clue is an anagram that can be rearranged to say "Regally, the rock gem is Lisa," which obviously excites her. When the nuns show up, however, they act exasperated and rearrange the letters to spell out "It's really Maggie, Sherlock." Lisa Lampshades the fact that that message only works because she got it wrong the first time, but sure enough it's right.
    • Subverted in "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer:" Homer meets his spirit guide, and later remembers his words.
      Spirit Guide in Homer's head: Find your soulmate, Homer.
      Homer: But where? Where?
      Spirit Guide in Homer's head: I'm just your memory. I can't give you any new information.
  • Inverted in Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Interviews were recorded ahead of time, but the questions Space Ghost asks are different than the ones the guest is answering, giving the impression that someone intended this trope, but Space Ghost got the tape instead of the intended recipient.
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • The beginning of "Bubble Buddy" features SpongeBob going to Squidward's to ask if he wanted to do something together and finding at his door a piece of paper with "NO" written on it. As SpongeBob asked if Squidward was sure, he removed the paper, only to find one with "YES" written on it.
    • "Tunnel of Glove" had Patrick watching the news announcing that a ride which SpongeBob is on has broken down:
      Perch Perkins: At this time, survival looks bleak for the little yellow sponge.
      Patrick: NOOOO! This is my worst nightmare! I don't have a drink!
      Perch Perkins: Hey, doofus!
      Patrick: Huh?
      Perch Perkins: Your best buddy is trapped in the Tunnel of Glove and he may never escape!
    • From "Squidville"
      Squid in Commercial: Would you rather tear out your brain stem, walk out into the middle of the nearest three-way-
      Squidward: Four Way!
      Squid in Commercial: Four-way intersection, and skip rope with it, than continue living where you do now?
  • On the Playhouse Disney series Stanley, the goldfish Dennis always lamented Harry and Elsies' singing their song about The Great Big Book of Everything. At one point in the film Stanley's Dinosaur Round-Up, Harry was otherwise occupied, but he and Elsie left behind a tape on which they performed the song. After the initial portion of the song, Dennis commented that they couldn't finish the song because they didn't know what animal Stanley was looking for. Cue the remainder of the tape— "We don't know what you're looking for / But the book will help complete your chorrrre!"
  • Steven Universe: When Steven finds Peridot's tape-recorded diary, he can't resist listening to it. But when he gets to the end, he hears a message from Garnet telling him he's heard enough and to give the tape recorder back to Peridot now (recorded while Peridot was present, so the last thing we hear before Steven stops the tape is a confused Peridot.)
  • In the Superfriends episode "The Androids", Dr. Rebos shows that he knows what the Superfriends will say (with no explanation given) while they're listening to a tape recording he sent them.
    Dr. Rebos: You have disregarded my warning and so I had to sabotage your Venus probe.
    Batman: Do you suppose he knows about the upcoming manned launch to Mars?
    Dr. Rebos: Your upcoming manned launch to Mars is next [snip] unless you call a complete halt to your space program forever.
    Superman: Of all the dirty, lowdown...
    Dr. Rebos: This is not dirty and lowdown!
  • In one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Babs' mother is out for the evening, but leaves her a note with a list of chores she wants her to do before she gets back. As Babs makes a face in disgust over the list, the note then reads, "Don't turn your nose up, young lady!"
  • Played for Horror in Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy. Starscream steals the Golden Disk, containing the information from the future, along with sample of Megatron's energon, and sees the recording of Megatron getting reformatted into Galvatron to be enslaved by Unicron. He reacts in amusement...until Unicron in the recording starts speaking directly to him, revealing that he's aware that Starscream is listening and goes as far as to leave direct instructions for him on how to earn his safety as Unicron's herald.
    Unicron: Starscream... (Starscream gasps in shock) Starscream... I know you're there. I know everything.
  • After finding out certain revelations during an investigation, which he wished he did not find out in The Venture Bros.. Hank decides to get his memory wiped, although is saddened that the best part about those events would be wiped along with it. Thinking in advance, Hank records a message for his post-mind-wiped self. And because it's well... Hank, he accurately predicts whatever his future self will say in reaction.
  • The Great Big Book of Everything in YooHoo & Friends does this sometimes, containing sarcastic replies to questions the animals look up.
    How would I know? I'm just a book, not the cloud master or something!
  • An episode of The Zeta Project has Bucky trigger a dormant message for help left in Zeta's holographic projector. Twice in the recording Bucky knows that Ro just insulted him, but he was only able to get the exact insult right the first time.

    Real Life 
  • Automated active telemarketing systems take advantage of this. A call is made, and if a certain pattern of silence/sound/silence is detected (that would be a person saying "Hello" or their name and waiting for a reply), the system assumes there's a real person on the line, and the call is automatically switched to a live operator.
    • They're taking it a stage further. The caller at the other end, a recording, stammers a little then says "oh, a little trouble with my headphones!" as if it were a live call before any other contact is made. And unless one simply tells a live person at the other end to bug off or blocks the call with apps like Hiya, they'll call again with the same recorded spiel.
    • This technique was made fun of in one of the Broken Sword games, when you can listen to messages left on the answering machine. One of them is an automated telemarketer calling about soffits. Part of the call is "When was the last time you had your soffits checked? (Long pause). Hmmm, I thought so.".
  • A thought experiment about doing this in a book form is called Einstein's Mind, also known as the Chinese room. If you could set up a book so that it would have all of the correct responses for any query, would the book be sentient or not?
  • This guy recorded a tape of himself 20 years ago. Here's him having a conversation with 12-year-old-him.
  • Some people have been known to troll their friends by simulating their half of a conversation and recording it to their voicemail.

Alternative Title(s): The Tape Knew Youd Say That


IT Crowd: Roy's tape

Roy, being too lazy to deal with the predictable phone calls to his department, records his half of the conversation on tape.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheTapeKnewYouWouldSayThat

Media sources: