Floating Advice Reminder

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The character must make an important decision. Partially transparent heads of several characters appear around them and give them advice. Sometimes the advice is a repeat of the things these characters said earlier in the episode. This is most common in animated works, where it is easiest to portray such an event.

A very Dead Horse Trope nowadays.

A more mundane and easy to show variant is to have the character very clearly remember their advice.

Compare Good Angel, Bad Angel. Not to be confused with videogames' Exposition Fairy.

Examples of Floating Advice Reminder include:

Anime and Manga

  • Played straight to Combined Energy Attack-like effect in the X/1999 anime finale, where Kamui sees flashbacks of all his lost friends offering help and support for his ultimate, self-sacrificing attack.
  • Bleach: Psycho Blood Knight Kenpachi is faced with an opponent he cannot simply mow down because he's had four of his five senses (including sight) removed from play. He consults tiny caricatures of his subordinates for advice. Played for comedy, especially when the least likely advice to work is actually the advice that does. Kenpachi imagines Yumichika telling him to give up in a beautiful way. Kenpachi at first dismisses it in disgust before realising it's actually a good idea - he promptly gives up fighting to let Tousen stab him. His plan is to rely heavily on his ability to tank insane wounds so he can trap the sword in his gut because it's the only way he can locate his opponent who will have to be holding onto the other end of the now trapped sword. In other words, Kenpachi gave up in a beautiful way in order to win the fight... well, beautiful for a psycho Blood Knight, that is.
  • Used in Kyou Kara Maou, where Yuuri's mom's head often pops up giving him silly advice or some sort of reminder.


  • Played straight in the Danny Kaye movie The Inspector General—a musical version of this trope: the three heads advise him to be "arrogant, elegant, and smart," with each head representing one of those characteristics.
  • Parodied in How High where everyone can see the floating advisor.
  • Used straight in Home Alone, when Kevin at first reacts with anxiety when he believes that "I made my family disappear!" But then a series of floating heads of various family members remind him that they had said hurtful things to him the night before - and he repeats, with a broad smile, "I made my family disappear!"
  • Also played straight in, of all things, Detroit Rock City.

Live Action TV

  • Parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Joel/Mike and the 'bots act as though the character is utterly terrified by the sudden floating heads.
  • Used to good effect at the end of the the Doctor Who serial The Caves of Androzani, when the heads of all of the Fifth Doctor's companions (including the short-lived Kamelion and, most notably, the deceased Adric) appeared to beg him to go on living, but only when his nemesis the Master appeared calling on him to die did he finally regenerate.
  • Used very nicely in Father Ted when Ted is in anguish over whether or not he truly does deserve an award (The Golden Cleric). He wanders down a beach, skipping stones and brooding as the heads of Mrs. Doyle, Father Jack, Father Dougal and the cast of Ballykissangel float past. Jack cackles evilly at him, Mrs. Doyle comments that he's probably the second best priest in the country and Dougal...floats towards the screen, looks puzzled and turns around to leave the way he came.
  • In an episode of 30 Rock, Pete Hornburger is confronted with the choice of whether or not to cheat on his wife. At the climax of that plotline, the woman he's considering the affair with is in the bathroom, making her move, when Kenneth Parcell pokes his head through the vent and entreats him not to do it. Lampshaded when Tracy Jordan pokes his head in: Pete says "I suppose you're going to tell me to do it," and Tracy responds, "No, I was just looking for the bathroom, but yes you should do it!"
  • Used in an episode of Spaced when Daisy almost reveals to Marsha that she and Tim aren't a couple. Floating-head versions of Tim and Daisy appear and attempt to counsel Daisy on how to fix the problem.

Video Games

  • In the Rockett's World games, the player must choose to listen to one of three Floating Advice Reminders at different points in the game.
  • In Pokémon, trying to use a Key Item in certain places will result in the you reminding yourself of the game's resident Pokémon Professor telling that you can't use that item there.
  • The very last part of the Final Battle in Persona 3.

Web Animation


Western Animation

  • Used straight and parodied various times in The Simpsons. A common parody is to have one of the heads have nothing to do with the topic at hand or be completely different to what the person actually said.
    • A particularly neat little parody/subversion was when Homer, after eating too many spicy chiles, had a vision of a coyote telling him to find his soulmate. After a lot of fruitless searching, Homer began to get discouraged, and the coyote reappeared:

Coyote: Find your soulmate, Homer.
Homer: But where?! Where should I look?!
Coyote: This is just your memory. I can't give you any new information.

    • Homer is tormented by multiple floating heads of Mr. Burns on his drive to work, upset because Burns can't remember his name. He stops concentrating on the road while yelling at them, and they advise him to look out while he crashes through the gate.
    • Also:

Marge: Lisa needs braces.
Marge: Lisa needs braces.
Marge: Lisa needs braces.

    • And the useless:

Bart: I cannot believe you are here! Do you think you could give me a few pointers?
Joe Namath: Sure. There's only one thing you need to know to be a great quarterback.
Joe Namath's wife: Joe, honey, I fixed it. It was just vapor lock.
Joe Namath: Okay, look, I gotta run. Remember what I told you.
Bart: Okay Bart, concentrate.
Bart's thoughts: Remember what I told you... Just one thing... My car broke down... I'm Joe Namath... My car broke down... It was just vapor lock... vapor lock... vapor lock...

    • And who could forget...

Mario Parody: Go ahead-a Bart, Take-a 'de Bonestorm!
Luigi Parody: The store, she is so rich, she'll never notice!
Donkey Kong Parody: It's the company's fault for making you want it so much!
Lee Carvallo: Don't do it son. How is that going to improve your putting?
Sonic Parody: Just take it! Take-it-take-it-take-it-take-it-take-it! Take it!

  • Jay Sherman appears to son Marty on an episode of The Critic, twice in one episode. In the first occasion, his floating bubble is popped by a passerby, and he's stepped on repeatedly; on the second occasion, his advice fails to help, but he spots a passing food vendor, and his head chases it in an impersonation of Pac-Man, complete with sound effects.
  • This is either played with or some flavor of "-verted" in Batman: The Animated Series where Batman has been dosed with Scarecrow's gas and is tormented by a floaty-head telling him he has failed the family name. Of course, this leads directly into the well-known "I. Am. BATMAN!" scene (here), and is followed by Bruce beating up Scarecrow's mooks and rescuing a hostage. He even gets a Theme Music Power-Up!
  • Played straight in Clone High when Abe is wondering whether he should continue driving in a dangerous race, or take a nap.
  • Used in Futurama during the sequence which named the trope "Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks."
  • Happens almost Once an Episode in Doug.
  • Parodied in a Robot Chicken sketch that was, basically, Joey Fatone of 'N Sync in a parody of The Karate Kid. During the actual tournament, Joey is confronted by a monstrous amalgamation of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne, Jessica Simpson, and Ashlee Simpson. He then hallucinates the heads of the other four members of his own band... who give him entirely-irrelevant advice such as just shouting "Reaganomics!", before merging with him to make him Kaiju-sized so he can take on said monster.