Brick Joke/Literature

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  • In Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger, one of the students is hypnotized by the school psychologist so that any time a particular female classmate says "Pencil", he'll think her ears are candy and try to eat them. The remainder of the chapter details how, for the whole day, she comes agonizingly close to saying "Pencil" but never does. Since the chapter is titled "A Story With a Really Disappointing Ending", the reader is led to assume that this is the end of it. Several chapters later, the class does a physics experiment by throwing several school items out the window--and the same girl points out "We'll need a new pencil sharpener." Cue ear licking.
    • Also thrown out the window is the principal's coffeepot. Six chapters after that, after announcing the installation of elevators, he then adds, "By the way, has anyone seen my coffeepot?"
      • Someone also suggests that they throw an elephant out of the window, cue the teacher's comment "there are no elephants in wayside school". A later chapter is entitled "an elephant in wayside school"
    • Back to "A Story with a Disappointing Ending", the readers are told that Paul's father (a security guard at an art museum) feels temptation to touch the Mona Lisa painting (after all, there's a big "DO NOT TOUCH!" sign right by it). Several chapters later, when we meet Miss Nogard, she's in an art museum. Guess what painting she and her boyfriend-to-be are near? The Mona Lisa, with a security guard who makes sure they wouldn't touch it.
  • Used quite effectively in the Cassie Palmer books by Karen Chance. There are many small little plot points and references in the first book which go completely unresolved and unremarked upon. The reader than assumes that it's just sloppy writing, as there were no flashing arrows around these apparently unimportant bits and pieces. The series has a time-travel element, however, and by the time you get to the third book, it's hard to shake the feeling that the third book has retroactively affected the first.
  • Lampshaded in The Punch and Judy Murders: At the end, one character mentions a series of events that had nothing to do with the rest of the story. Immediately afterwards, they are tied in.
  • At the end of Robert Rankin's The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, Jack is about to be killed by the Big Bad, when the latter is shot by Jill, the prostitute Jack met half the book ago.
  • The prologue to Hitch Hikers Guide to The Galaxy (the first book) mentions a woman who figured out how to fix the sorry state the world is in, then ends: "This is not her story." She doesn't turn up until book four, So Long, and Thanks for All The Fish, which features a prologue almost identical to the one in the first book, except it ends with "This is her story."
    • It's usually assumed she figured out the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. Slightly early.
    • The bowl of petunias, which is mentioned in a grand total of three sentences in book one and then turns out to be Agrajag, a man whose death in every reincarnation is caused by Arthur in the third book.
      • And gets killed off yet again despite Arthur's pains to avoid it in the fifth book.
        • Don't forget Arthur's continued bad luck throughout the sixth book give Agrajag a happy ending
    • Contained in So Long, and Thanks for All The Fish, Arthur and Fenchurch's first session is noted by a passenger on a passing plane, who is immensely relieved to find out that the world is nothing like she imagined. Towards the end of the novel, Arthur and Fenchurch are flying home from California, and are approached by the same passenger (who has been giving them odd looks throughout the flight) with the question "Do you two fly a lot?"
  • Timothy Zahn is good at these. In The Thrawn Trilogy the thing Luke found on Dagobah, and Thrawn's vague hints about his plans, became important in the Hand of Thrawn duology. Of course, there are still dangling plot threads.
  • The Harry Potter series uses this trope extensively, with minor details in one book become important plot points in later books. For example, a brief biography of Albus Dumbledore given in the first book mentions that he defeated the Dark Wizard Grindelwald. It is not until the final chapter in the final book of the series that the reader learns that Dumbledore had been a close friend of Grindelwald when he was young and that his defeat of Grindelwald brought him into possession of the Elder Wand, a wand of immense power that Lord Voldemort grows to covet.
    • In fact, most of the important reveals in the seventh book are call backs to previously mentioned objects, characters, and information.
      • One of the most unlikely examples is calling back to an aside joke made in Goblet of Fire. Dumbledore mentions that his brother Aberforth got into trouble for "practising inappropriate charms on a goat". In Deathly Hallows, Aberforth's fondness for the animal saves Harry's life when Death Eaters patrolling Hogsmeade see him cast his stag patronus; Aberforth covers for him by presenting himself as the wizard who cast the spell, arguing that the Death Eaters were mistaken in what form they thought the Patronus had taken. He casts his goat patronus, makes a persuasive argument, and gets the Death Eaters off of Harry's trail.
    • There's another one in Deathly Hallows. Around chapter 10 or so, Harry finds a letter Lily sent to Sirius in Grimmauld Place, but the second page is gone. The final line on the first page is "...because it seems incredible that Dumbledore-". Much later, during a Pensieve Flashback in chapter 33, we see Snape reading the second page of the letter: "-could ever have been friends with Gellert Grindelwald." - This would, of course, have been a major spoiler as early as chapter 10.
    • One of these started all the way back in Philosopher's Stone, the first book, where Dumbledore is described as having a nose that looked like it had been broken. Fast forward to the last book, when early on we're told how exactly his nose was broken.
    • Remember the broken Vanishing Cabinet that played a role in Half Blood Prince? The one that the twins shoved a Slytherin goon into in Order of the Phoenix? Nearly Headless Nick convinced Peeves to break it in order to get Harry out of a detention. In Chamber of Secrets.
      • Remember earlier in Chamber of Secrets when Harry accidentally ended up in Nocturne Alley? He was in Borgin and Burkes and the Malfoys walked in... so he hid in a black cabinet and kept the door slightly ajar for spying purposes. If he had closed the door he would have suddenly found himself at Hogwarts.
    • Used in reference to the Room of Requirement in Goblet of Fire. After Karkaroff stated that he prided in being the only one to know all of the secrets of Durmstrang, Dumbledore stated that he would never pretend to know all the secrets of Hogwarts and jokingly mentions "a room full of chamber pots" that he has never been able to find again as an example. Needless to say, the room becomes the most important room of all Hogwarts in the next three books.
    • An example from earlier in the series: In Prisoner of Azkaban, sharp-eyed readers would have remembered Sirius Black as the man who loaned Hagrid the flying motorcycle that brought Harry to the Dursleys'.
    • Also Harry's (fun) and Ron's (unfun) detentions in Chamber of Secrets, which are assigned in chapter 5 and aren't dated until two chapters later. The detentions assigned to Harry, Hermione, Neville, and Malfoy early in Philosopher's Stone chapter 15 (Malfoy got his late in the previous chapter, as he was the first one of the four to be caught out of bed as a result of a botched yet successful attempt to get the other three in hot water) aren't served until they had forgotten about them in all the brouhaha that resulted from the other result of Harry's fuckup: 150 points lost by Gryffindor, making this one another rather short (at least to the reader) brick joke. Oh, and the detentions were for different things, but in both cases each person serve their respective detentions for the exact same thing as the others (wandering the halls late at night in Philosopher's Stone, and making a scene with a flying car in Chamber of Secrets).
    • In Order of the Phoenix, the Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione are busy cleaning out the cabinets in the drawing room at Grimmauld Place. Among the things they throw out is a gold locket that none of them could open. This was one of Voldemort's horcruxes that was stolen by Sirius's brother Regulus.
    • When Harry tries to hide the Half Blood Prince's copy of his Potions book, he marks the spot with a wig and a crown. The crown? Rowena Ravenclaw's diadem that Voldemort turned into a horcrux.
    • This is perhaps one of the longest spanning brick jokes in Harry Potter. In the first book, Harry is told that a dragon is hidden deep in the vaults of Gringott's bank. Seven years later, Harry and the gang use the dragon to escape from Gringott's with another of Voldemort's Horcruxes.
    • Gryffindor's sword was effective against Horcruxes due to an incident five years ago where Harry stabbed the Basilisk in the mouth, coating the sword with its venom. After they lose possession of the sword, Ron and Hermione go down to the Chamber of Secrets where they steal Basilisk fangs from the body.
    • In an example of a literal joke, early in Goblet of Fire, when the students are extracting bubotuber pus, mention is made of Eloise Midgen, who tries to curse her acne off. Professor Sprout comments in an offhand way that her nose was re-attached in the end. Later on, when Harry and Ron are looking for dates to the Yule Ball, Hermione mentions that Eloise Midgen is very nice. Ron reacts in shock, stating "Her nose isn't on straight!"
    • In Chamber of Secrets, when Hermione "signs up for everything" for third year, it's treated like as a throwaway gag. One book later, Hermione reveals she's had to use a Ministry-approved Time Turner to get to all her classes, which is used to save Buckbeak and Sirius from execution during the climax.
    • Also in Chamber of Secrets, when Snape catches Harry and Ron after crashing into the Whomping Willow, Snape gives Harry "the impression of being able to read minds". In Half-Blood Prince, it turns out Harry was quite right.
    • As early as The Philosopher's Stone, it's mentioned that, although he was the popular choice, Dumbledore repeatedly turned down the job for Minister of Magic. In The Deathly Hallows, he admits to Harry that he simply didn't trust himself in such a powerful position, after his friendship with Grindelwald.
    • Perhaps not intentional, but in The Chamber of Secrets, Harry tells Dobby to "never try to save his life again". In Deathly Hallows...
    • When Harry and Dobby first meet, Dobby tells Harry that the trouble brewing at school does not involve "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named". Since it involved a Horcrux that was created when Voldemort was still young and known to most as Tom Riddle, "he could freely be named".
    • Harry's invisibility cloak, in the first book, is remarked to be "really rare". In The Deathly Hallows, it's learned that the item's uniqueness is very important to the plot indeed.
    • In the third book, after Harry explains Trelawney's prediction, Dumbledore remarks that that brings her total count "up to two". Later in The Order of the Phoenix, we learn just what the first prophecy was.
    • Then we have the first Snitch Harry ever caught, and the throwaway mention of Regulus, the diary, AND the locket. Then there's the motorcycle, the casual mention of Sirius in the very first chapter of the first book... Rowling loves these.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when Mr. Weasely is in St. Mungo's, one of the portraits is absolutely convinced Ron has a deadly disease called spattergroit. In the seventh book, Ron's cover story for running away to look for Horcruxes with Harry and Hermione is that he has spattergroit. He, Fred, and George charm the ghoul in the attack to have red hair and pustules.
  • Used extensively (and hilariously) in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. The Coleridge Dinner scene is practically one big Brick Joke, with throwaway lines and events being referenced much later on.
    • For that matter, practically the entire book is like that. Almost any throwaway line anywhere in the book has some bearing on either plot, characters or backstory. Some just make better sense of other things, some are subtle foreshadowing, and some reappear long after you've forgotten them. It makes for a good second read.
    • Since the plot involves time travel, bricks fly in both directions.
  • The Discworld book Men At Arms mentions that the sign on the Ankh-Morpork post office reads "NEITHER RAIN NOR SNOW NOR GLOM OF NIT..." (in a parody of the motto on the US post building in New York). Eleven years later, Terry wrote Going Postal, which reveals that the sign is spelled like that because several letters were stolen to make up the sign of a nearby hairdresser's called Hugos.
    • An earlier brick joke would be in The Light Fantastic. The Librarian's transformation into ape-hood is without much- if any- fanfare: And several of the wizards later swore that the small sad orangutan sitting in the middle of it all looked very much like the head librarian. Later on in the book we see the Librarian going "Oook" and accepting bananas.
      • This becomes a Running Gag throughout the series after the Librarian refuses to be turned back into a human.
    • An example happens in The Last Hero. Ponder Stibbons mentions in a throwaway line something along the lines of "I'm not a rocket wizard." Later in the book we see a picture of him wearing a t-shirt that says, "Actually I AM a rocket wizard."
    • Another one occurs in Unseen Academicals. Right at the start we are told that one Pastor Oats rode into a small town bringing...forgiveness. Not until right at the end do we find that Forgiveness is the name of his Double-Headed Battle-Axe
      • There was also "come on if you think you're hard enough".
    • The final battle between Mort and Death in the book Mort, published in 1987, has the setup to a joke (?) that is only resolved in Soul Music, published in 1994.
    • In one Discworld book we're told that Rincewind could scream in panic in seceral languages, and that this is an important skill to have since while to us "ARGH!" might just be a panicked scream, in some languages it's a phrase translating into "Your wife is a great big hippo!" Later, something scary happens. How does Rincewind react?

"'Your wife is a great big hippo!" Rincewind said.

    • In The Light Fantastic and other early Discworld novels, much was made of the fact that wizards avoid saying the number between 7 and 9 (they use room numbers like "7a" instead of the number in question), because it tends to attract the attention of Eldritch Abominations. As Discworld moved away from being a generic fantasy pastiche and started being an original world in its own right, this plot point became less and less important, and in fact went unmentioned for years (and at least a dozen novels). Then Going Postal came out, the first Discworld book since The Light Fantastic to use chapters. And what followed chapter 7? Chapter 7a.
    • A very early Rincewind book featured the line "!" said Rincewind. In Interesting Times, he sees the pictogram in Agatean that's equivalent to an exclamation point, which looks like a dog urinating, and in a moment of surprise we get "Oh, urinating dog," said Rincewind.
    • Early in Lords and Ladies, one of the Lancre Morris Men Granny Weatherwax is noted to have given someone two red pills as a cure for an animal, who is told to "stick it where the sun don't shine". Another Morris Man gets confused about the phrase (there's a gorge near the town of Slice known as "The Place Where the Sun Don't Shine"), and one of his friends tries to clarify it with the phrase "where the monkey put his nuts". Near the end of the book, said friend tries to trick the still confused guy into asking the Librarian (an ape who gets rather testy about being called a monkey) "where he put his nuts". The trickster eventually gets thrown into a river by the Librarian.
    • Early in Feet of Clay, Sam Vimes discusses coats of arms with the head of the College of Heralds. One of the coats of arms described is for the candlemaker, Arthur Carry. Unlike the rest of the coats of arms, which use Old Morporkian, this one uses recent language, with the inscription "Art Brought Forth the Candle," a bad play on the word Art--a name and a profession. Near the end of the book, after we've learned that the candlemaker has been poisoning Vetinari's candles with arsenic, Vimes translates the inscription into "Ars Enixa Est Candelum"--or, The Candles are Arsenic.
    • In the beginning of Equal Rites, a wizard called Drum Billet dies and asks DEATH what it would be like to be reincarnated into an ant. At the end, it is revealed that Drum Billet is an ant now.
      • Perhaps the biggest, it's mentioned at the end of Equal Rites the Esk and Simon go on to develop a whole new kind of magic, after this they seemingly disappear from the plot, until I Shall Wear Midnight, in which the new form of magic is revealed it's time-travel.
        • With only slightly less of a delay: It's mentioned in Reaper Man that Ridcully want the university to form a team to compete in the 'City and Guilds' a sort of primitive form of rugby/football. And then just recently we get Unseen Academicals, a book about, surprise surprise, the Unseen University forming a football team.
    • In Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, a recipe for peppermint candies provided by the Master of Assassins is accompanied by strong editorial warnings not to include one of the listed ingredients, which is arsenic. Much later in the book, an illustration shows a rat holding a peppermint while the Death of Rats peers over its shoulder, which is captioned: "We really meant that about the arsenic."
  • Another Terry Pratchett book, Nation, makes a joke about Mrs. Ethel J. Bundy's Birthday Island early on. In the second-last chapter, it turns out to be a real place.
  • In the first book of the Sword of Truth series, it's established that during the war against Panis Rahl, the Evil Overlord had cursed all the red fruit grown in the Midlands to be poisonous, and nobody has been able to undo it. This isn't brought up again for the rest of the series until the last book, when Richard, after using the Power of Orden, reveals among the other wrongs he's set right, he's undone the enchantment on the red fruit.
  • In Good Omens, the story breaks the fourth wall to ask the audience what they think happened to the child who was one of the children switched at birth in order to give the Antichrist to some parents. The joke, at the time, is that it's most likely that some horrible thing happened to him, but if it makes us feel better we can imagine that he grew up normally, maybe having a hobby of collecting tropical fish. Later on in the book, an irrelevant character is briefly discussed... who has a habit of collecting tropical fish. Interestingly, in that brief mention of the character, the story mentions that he's a big, clumsy child that any American football coach in the world would kill to have on his team. Cut to the end of the book, and it mentions that the Antichrist altered a magazine the kid was reading so he would learn about, and be interested in, American football. (That bit was specifically added to increase the potential market in the USA for the book.)
    • In another chapter, the book talks about the tabloid that War moonlights as a War Correspondent for (she always seems to be the first wherever a war breaks out. before it happens, even!), and talks about the kind of outlandish articles it usually publishes. The book mentions that one of the example stories is actually true, and later in the story quietly shows you which one it is.
      • That particular brick actually hits twice.
  • Near the beginning of And Eternity, Orlene says the chances of their Crapsack World improving are about as high as God kissing Satan. In the end, when Orlene takes God's place, she kisses Satan, then begins setting up the world's reforms.
    • Not quite. It's not near the beginning but closer to the middle, when she is attempting to settle a hostage crisis, while being in a hostage victim's body. The hostage takers demand that the captain of their taken-over vessel surrender and when he refuses, Orlene gives his response as "when God kisses Satan and the Incarnations applaud". And then it happens at the end.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire's Brick Joke takes nearly three books to drop. When Tywin Lannister is first introduced in A Game of Thrones, we hear of his golden hair, his gold-flecked eyes, and the fact that, "A fool more foolish than most had once jested that even Lord Tywin's shit was flecked with gold." This jest is brought up a couple more times here and there...And finds its punchline at the end of A Storm of Swords, when Tyrion kills Tywin on the privy and we learn, quite definitively, that, "Lord Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold."
  • In The Wolf's Hour, the protagonist is undercover in Nazi Germany and watches a bizarre comedy act with a dominatrix whipping a naked Winston Churchill impersonator (which is extremely tame in comparison to the rest of the show). At the end of the book, when he has occasion to meet Churchill, he asks if he happens to have any relatives in Germany.
  • In Anthony Horowitz's The Night of the Scorpion, the first chapter shows the main character and his sidekick travelling to South America from England. During the flight, the sidekick tries to learn some Spanish, but the only sentence he can get right is "Una cabra se comió mi pasaporte" ("A goat ate my passport"). Cue the last chapter, weeks later, the characters are resting in a farm and the guy goes to fetch his passport in his room...
  • In Leven Thumps, Leven's favourite number is 11. Not only is his name E. Leven, but it takes 11 thumps to knock down the tree and save the world.
  • In the opening chapter of Aurora i Holland, Anne-Cath Vestly throws a brick at the final line in the book. Aurora's grandmother is concerned about the girl turning into a tiny adult with no time to be a kid, so her father tells Aurora to go out and play and "be a kid". After pondering these cryptic words, Aurora goes to her BFF and asks he to come out and play kids. After they spend a chapter trying to find out how to play at being kids (!), the main plot kicks in to take Aurora and her family to Holland and back. After they come home the BFF turns up to tell Aurora:

"Tomorrow we can play you-know-what."

  • In the Goosebumps book "It Came From Beneath the Sink", the "Encyclopedia of the Weird" is consulted to identify the titular creature. When it is mentioned that the monster is a Grool, it is pointed out on the bright side it's not the more dangerous Lanx. At the end of the story, the protagonist is confronted with a Lanx.
  • Spaceballs parodies Dramatic Timpani by having the dramatic flourish during Spaceship One's transormation into Mega Maid be provided by an actual timpanist. This timpanist is later seen as one of the evacuees when the Self-Destruct Mechanism is activated.
  • In his autobiography Anything Goes, John Barrowman mentions that he has never had any children, and he's absolutely sure of it. Several chapters later, he discusses being a gay man and having a girlfriend, who (and I paraphrase) "only convinced him that he was a player for the boys' team. And now you know how I know that I don't have any kids."

copied from the front page - need to be checked for duplicates

  • There's a picture in The Last Straw, the 3rd Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, that reveals that Greg once turned in a book report 4 pages long (cover included), and only a few sentences long because he took up more than half of the last page writing "THE END" in big letters, using the excuse that he was running out of paper. That spoiler-tagged part comes up at the end when Greg admits that he was ending his story on sort of a generic happy ending note, but he admits that he's running out of paper...
  • At one point in the first A Song of Ice and Fire book, Shagga threatens to "cut off [a man's] manhood and feed it to goats." In the next book, Tyrion tells him to do this to a prisoner, despite not having any goats nearby. Shagg obliges, and takes his axe to the prisoner's beard.
  • Wayside School loved this trope:
    • When Louis gets all the cows out of the school, someone comments they can still hear a moo. 19 chapters, later, it's revealed there's a cow in Miss Zarves's class.
    • When they test the theory of gravity showing that objects fall at the same speed despite different masses, they throw a coffee pot out the window. Much later, Mr. Kidswatter asks where the teachers lounge coffee pot went.
    • When Benjamin reveals he's really Benhamin Nushmut, Mrs. Jewls gives him the lunch that was on her desk from the first day of class.
    • In a story with a disappointing ending, Paul is hypnotized not only into not pulling Leslie's Pigtails, but into eating her ears whenever she says "Pencil". About ten chapters or so after this, Leslie mentions they need a new pencil sharpener.
  • Dark Future: Early in Krokodil Tears a news report mention the death of Wally The Whale, last living cetacean in the Atlantic and major tourist attraction for the Isle of Skye. The Mayor of Skye plans to have the whale preserved and open up a restaurant in his stomach named Jonah's Snackbar. Two hundred pages later, during the climactic fight between Jessamyn and the Jibbenainosay, Wally the Whale comes back to life. In the middle of the Bolivian ambassador's birthday party.
  • In Issue #41 of Mad Magazine (from 1958), the cover picture of Alfred E. Neuman is half-finished because the artist got a call from Time Magazine. Cut to the article "The Next Day's Headlines" which shows disastrous headlines based on the advice columns shown on the previous page... and one about Time firing their new artist because all their people looked like Alfred E. Neuman.
  • The Onion did it with pictures. The front cover of the February 21, 2011 issue shows a picture of Blake Griffin jumping over a car with the headline "Car Blake Griffin Dunked Over Vows Revenge". Cut to the March 21, 2011 issue which has the cover showing a picture of Blake Griffin run over by a car with the headline "Car Blake Griffin Dunked Over Exacts Bloody Revenge".