Trope Telegraphing

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

This is when Chekhov's Gun has been fired enough to turn into a cliche. Basically something will happen in a show, and a Genre Savvy viewer knows what is going to happen next.

Let's say some woman buys a new dress. If it's fancy enough, and she gushes over it, that dress is getting wrecked. Or say a guy has a fear of flying even if that is never shown before. Odds are he is going to get over it by the end (except when you're being ironic in the Alanis Morissette sense).

This is especially common in Strictly Formula fiction, but it doesn't necessarily hurt the story. That of course depends on the skill of the writer.

Note this is strictly when the clue is in the fiction itself. If the clue is meta to the story, it's another trope.

Let's say Sgt. Bilko in The Phil Silvers Show has a Get Rich Quick Scheme. Even if we know it's not going to work, it doesn't count because it's what always happens on the show. Now if he had a certain part of his plan that made it clear exactly how the plan would fail, that would be this trope.

Or let's say Dr. House thinks he's solved the latest disease mystery. If the only clue that he hasn't solved it yet is the fact that the episode is only half over, that is not this trope. That is Spoiled by the Format.

Also note that if the characters are aware of what is going to happen, that is Lampshade Hanging. When the supposedly telegraphed trope fails to appear, that's a Subverted Trope.

Tempting Fate is a subtrope of this, and covers characters saying something that dares the universe into making things miserable for them, with the universe happily complying.

Finally, examples shouldn't be specific, so much as be just about the clue, and what is going to happen next.

Examples of Trope Telegraphing include:

Comic Books

Donald Duck: "Hey, I have this problem."
Gyro Gearloose: "You're in luck, I just invented something that will help you with that."
"That's cool, can I borrow this?"
"Sure. Just make sure not to do X or it will all Go Horribly Wrong."
"Yeah, sure, whatever."


Live Action TV

  • Oh look, the Cranes are throwing a party. Cue A Simple Plan, with the occasional Fawlty Towers Plot.
  • For at least the first few seasons, if an attractive woman showed up on Two and A Half Men for one or two episodes, if Charlie wasn't sleeping with her, Alan would be.
  • A big-name guest star is on one of the Law and Order shows (Particularly The Mothership or SVU). If this star isn't the victim or the defense lawyer, (s)he's the perp. Criminal Intent likes to disrupt the curve by offering up multiple guest stars.
    • If there's a courthouse Perp Walk, there's a 50/50 shot of a Vigilante Execution. If it's at the halfway point of the episode or 55-minute mark, the only question is who's going to pull the trigger.
  • If, on nearly any episode of Monk, something is given somewhat significant notice, it will be used to solve the crime.
  • Oh, look, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers are showing interest in a topic or issue that they usually don't. I wonder if the Big Bad in the moon will find some way to turn it into or summon an appropriate monster, inadvertently teaching them a valuable life lesson on the issue in the process.
  • One of the girls on Sister, Sister just got two hot dates. Everyone knows there'll be a Twin Switch coming.
  • The First 48: The police have a suspect in interrogation. Is his face blurred? If the answer is "yes", he's not getting arrested.
  • Dr. House has a new patient with a mysterious ailment. Said patient has a minor symptom that is mentioned, dismissed as irrelevant, and not mentioned for the next 30–40 minutes. Bet you ten bucks House's brilliant final diagnosis is based mostly on that one symptom.
  • Spoofed in That Mitchell and Webb Look's "Get Me Hennimore!" sketches, parodying old A Simple Plan sitcoms. Bumbling assistant is given two incredibly easy-to-confuse tasks by his oblivious boss, who has to leave the office for some contrived reason - Gilligan Cut to the inevitable chaos that the boss comes back to.
  • Exploited by Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger. The protagonist's vast knowledge of Super Sentai tropes allows him to notice when something happens during a battle that leads to the heroes winning, cuing the team to start turning the tables.

Video Games

  • The love interest girl or Unlucky Childhood Friend or just a childhood friend in an Eastern RPG is a playable character. If she doesn't eventually leave permanently, there will be a two-hour stretch where she isn't playable, either by kidnapping or for some other reason.