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Something's bothering you. You did some poking around, and you discovered a clue that just doesn't match up with what you know about the situation at large. It's almost as if your team has stumbled upon some sort of Evil Plan. So you decide to run this information past your trusted ally, Nialliv. He listens, perhaps admits that this does indeed sound suspicious, and then casually asks: "Have you told anyone else?"
Always answer yes, especially if it isn't true, and especially especially if your place of employment has a High Employee Turnover Rate.
What's that phrase mean? Well, several things:
- The information you've discovered is enough to at least screw up the Big Bad's plans if not bring him down entirely.
- Unfortunately, the first (and now, likely, the only) person you revealed this information to is the Treacherous Advisor or some other variety of The Mole, and possibly the Big Bad himself.
- As soon as you innocently tell him that no, he's the first person you've mentioned this to, he's likely going to make sure that information dies with you. Check your shirt color.
- Occasionally there is another step: Why yes, there was one person you told, Mr. Dead-Meat. By amazing coincidence, Mr. Dead-Meat accidentally shoots himself in the back of the head twice the next day. You are still alive because you're too dumb to connect the dots and there's probably some part of the Evil Plan you need to fulfill.
There's also the question "Does anybody know you're here?" or similar. Answering 'no' means automatic death. It's rare to find someone Genre Savvy enough to lie and say something like, "Why yes, I told Bob, Joe, and Susan where I'd be going, and who I was meeting, and what I'd be saying. And hell yeah, you can have this disc - I Made Copies." Or, for that matter, to have actually told those people.
Rather, they proudly(!) admit that they told Nialliv first, sometimes even adding, "I'm not stupid." For the one who noticed the hole in his Evil Plan, they aren't too bright, are they? (Admittedly, the reason's for telling only Nialliv tend to be something positive, like shaky proof, or information that might cause a panic/riots/mob violence targeting innocent people. If only Nialliv wasn't on The Dark Side...) If they do say they told someone else, it's obvious that they just now realized their error, and are badly lying about it. Nialliv sees right through this. Actually, this has started to get subverted more these days. Especially if it's the hero doing it, they probably already have sent the information to all the major publishers, or have some backup plan. But then, that's usually only if they suspect the person.
This moment is usually The Reveal for the audience that Nialliv is playing for the other team.
Sometimes phrased as "Does anyone else know about this?" or "Have you discussed this with anyone else?" The key words are always "anyone else." Occasionally one gets "Have you told [specific other person] yet?", where the other person is someone with the power to do something about it -- the boss, the Slayer, whatever. Of course, anyone else they told could tell the specific other person, but it may be phrased this way as an opening for the doomed conversationalist to dutifully respond, "No, I haven't told anybody..."
Compare Exposition Victim.
WARNING: Unmarked spoilers likely. Proceed with caution.
Anime & Manga
- In 20th Century Boys detective Chou has made a startling discovery about the the leader of an enigmatic cult named 'Friend'. Turns out the leader is actually a childhood classmate of our peppy main character Kenji. Unfortunately he decided to discuss the matter with his assistant Yama first. Needless to say Yama turns out to be a member of said cult and "purified him." Making it even more tragic is the fact that Chou was just one week away from retirement.
- Naomi Misora almost averts this in Death Note, but almost doesn't cut it when your opponent is a Xanatos Speed Chessmaster who can kill you by writing your name on a scrap of paper.
- Played with in Detective Conan episode 36. The villain, after being confronted by Conan alone, asks Conan if he told anyone about this, to which Conan responds that he didn't--and also volunteers the information that nobody knows where Conan is, either. She doesn't kill him and Conan later speculates she wanted to be caught by a child; it's not explained what Conan would have done if that guess was wrong.
- Used straight a couple episodes later, in a really stupid move on Conan's part (since it almost gets him killed).
- An interesting reversal appears in movie 13, The Raven Chaser, where Conan asks this of Irish, the newly introduced member of the Black Organization who figured out Conan is actually Shinichi Kudo.
- During the Greenback Jane arc of Black Lagoon, Eda is holding a minor antagonist at gunpoint, apparently planning to let him go - until he suddenly blurts out, "Hey, I recognize you! You're that woman I saw dining with a senator in Washington DC!" Eda denies this, saying she's just a nun, but "I'll tell you one thing: I'm not really from Alabama. I'm from Langley, Virginia." "You're CI--" (He doesn't get to finish the sentence, much less tell anyone.)
- In the first of Rumiko Takahashi's Mermaid Saga stories (A Mermaid Never Smiles) several old women ask Yuta if there's anyone in town who will miss him if he's gone. He says no, and they kill him. Fortunately, it didn't take.
- This is somewhat less dumb than is normal for this trope, since it happens at the very start of the story when nothing suspicious has yet happened. Plus, who expects to get killed by little old ladies?
- Plus, there's the fact that Yuta is immortal. Not much cause for him to worry about his wellbeing.
- BRUTALLY inverted in Eden of the East. Mononobe plans to convert Takizawa Akira to his side, and explains his Evil Plan to him. In a moment of extreme genre-savviness, Takizawa had called his Love Interest just before meeting up with the Big Bad and LEAVES HIS PHONE ON SO SHE CAN LISTEN IN! The Stinger? Mononobe thinks Takizawa can't do anything to avert his Evil Plan, and let's him go when he can't convert him. WHAT AN IDIOT!
- In Tiger and Bunny, Maverick asks Barnaby if anyone else was there when Barnaby learned of Jake Martinez's alibi for his parents' murder. In this case, the answer really is yes - Barnaby's partner Kotetsu was also present - but since Maverick has the ability to alter people's memories, he's not really all that worried. It does help Barnaby in the long run, though, as Kotetsu proves to be much more of a Spanner in the Works than Maverick anticipated.
- Subverted in Batman comics - Lucius Fox tells Lex Luthor that he knows about Luthor buying large amounts of Gotham City for a fraction of the price, and informs him that yes, people know where he is and yes, he has made copies of the data. He still would have been killed by Mercy Graves if Batman hadn't been watching his back though.
- In Sin City, after the escape from the Farm, Marv and Lucille are cornered by cops sent to the Farm. Marv wants to take them out, but Lucille knocks him out, telling him he's not going to get either of them killed. She then talks to the officers present about what is going on and finishes with "...so there's no reason to kill him." The head cop's response? "Yes there is, ma'am...once he's told us who else he's spoken to." Lucille is blown away moments later.
- Happens in James Robinson's Starman series, during the climactic "Grand Guignol" arc.
- A dreamwalker tries to avert this in Rising Stars when he finds out who'd been killing the other Specials. The killer, a Superman proxy, beats the tar out of the much weaker man and asks who else knows. The dreamwalker lies and says that he's told everyone... and is killed for his trouble. Luckily, a Special who could hear the recently deceased was able to get this information to another Special who had been investigating the murders as well.
- A while ago in the Superman books, a specialist for the CIA, using recently acquired alien language translation technology, was able to find out that the markings of a small craft that crash-landed in Kansas 30 years ago were Kryptonian. The man, being without friends or family, reported this to his direct superior, the President of the United States: Lex Luthor. One cut-away later, Lex nonchalantly tells his chauffeur to have maintenance clean up a "spill" on the carpet: a small red glob one can only assume is the man's remains.
- Ursula pulls a textbook example in Nexus, as shown here.
- From Ex Machina #50: Kremlin, drunk and holding a gun to his own head, threatens to expose the fact that Hundred used his powers to get elected as Mayor of New York, thus killing his Presidential campaign. At first, Hundred tries to get him to put the gun down, then asks if he's shown the evidence to anyone. When Kremlin reveals he hasn't, Mitchell tells the gun to fire.
- In The Bourne Supremacy when Danny Zorn (Abbott's assistant) reveals to Abbott that he realizes the crime scene is a sham, and gets a dagger in the ribs for it.
- Very well justified to shocking effect in L.A. Confidential when Detective Jack Vincennes, while investigating a suspicious murder in co-operation with Detective Ed Exley, finds evidence of corruption within the police department. He can't tell other cops because of the corruption and so he goes to someone he has know for a while and can trust to be out of it it is the Chief after all. Then they ask the question in a way that assumes that he has already told someone so both he and the audience isn't alarmed when casually asked "What does Exley make of all this?"
- Vincennes uses a variation of this trope to get his killer busted though. With his dying breath, he whispers a secret name known only to him and Exley (because Exley only ever told him). When the killer tries to investigate the significance of the name (thinking it might be a loose end), Exley immediately suspects it to be a message from Vincennes and realizes the man can't be trusted.
- In the movie Minority Report, Danny Witwer gets to carry the Idiot Ball for revealing his suspicions to the wrong person. Admittedly he's in a world where it's supposedly impossible to commit murder, but as the killer points out, due to recent events, that's just changed.
- He also doesn't know that he's telling the Big Bad his suspicions. He just figured out that someone else killed Anne Lively, not that Lamar did it or why.
- Just before the Big Bad starts with the killing though, Danny lists a few things he already figured out about the murderer, and they very much apply to the person he's just revealed his findings too. The Too Dumb to Live label is somewhat appropriate.
- Monsters, Inc.: After Mr. Waternoose hears the full story of the incident from Mike, he asks, "Does anyone else know about this?"
- That's a terrific moment, due to the business headaches Waternoose has been dealing with since the opening of the movie. The line seems innocuous enough right up until the Banishment Door shows up and Waternoose shoves Mike and Sully through.
- In the remake of Planet of the Apes two Mooks bring General Thade out into the forest and recount a story of seeing something crash down, burning the trees as it went and they point out the destruction it caused. Trying to protect the secret that humans were once in charge, Thade names this trope and when they say no he does an interesting
monkeyape flip backwards to stab them both.
- The opening of the film Red Dragon. Late at night, FBI Agent Will Graham goes to meet with Dr. Hannibal Lecter, who had been assisting him in developing a psychological profile of a serial killer. Agent Graham tells Dr. Lecter that he suddenly realized that the killer was eating parts of his victims. Lecter replies, "Have you shared this information with the Bureau?"
- In The Ring, Rachel confronts Samara's father about the Cursed Video:
Mr. Morgan: Who have you told this to?
Rachel: No one.
Mr. Morgan: (brandishes an iron hook) Is that the only one?
Rachel: I... made a copy.
(Implying that he knows about the Tape and what it does, and was willing to kill Rachel either to spare her a gruesome death or stop the curse from spreading right then and there. But since she made a copy (and is thus saved, albeit unknowingly), killing her would be pointless.)
- In Beerfest,
Wolfgang von Wolfhausen:Who else know of this package?
German Messenger: Oh absolutely no one. Only me. It's just me.
Wolfgang von Wolfhausen: Dispose of him!
- The Ten Commandments: Memnet comes to Nefertiri with the story of how Bithia drew Moses from the Nile. Nefertiri quickly asks, "Were you alone with Bithia?" before she kills Memnet.
- In Witness, when Book finds out that the perpetrator of a recent cop murder is a narcotics detective, and upon further investigation realizes said detective was involved in the theft of confiscated drugs, he goes to Police Chief Schaeffer and, upon telling everything he knows, is asked whether he has told anyone else. When Book says no, Schaeffer tells him to keep it quiet. Justified by the fact that Book trusts Schaeffer and, as a police corruption case, it would make sense to keep as few officers in the loop as possible.
- Double Indemnity contains a rare example in which the villain (in this case also the protagonist) is not actually evil enough to kill the one person who has evidence against his partner-in-crime: instead, once he is assured that she has told no one else, he just convinces her to keep quiet about it.
- Batman Returns features Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) going through these exact motions with her boss Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) about his plan to drain Gotham City of electricity. There's a bit of Genre Savvy there when Shreck approaches her with a menacing look, scaring her - and then he laughs, pretending it was all a joke. Soon Selina is laughing too.
Max: (presses Selina against a window menacingly, and leans forward as if to kiss her, then pulls back) "Huh?!"
(They both laugh)
Selina: (laughing) "You know, for a moment there you really frightened me-"
(Max whips around and shoves her out of the window)
- Played With to great effect in The Dark Knight: Bruce Wayne's accountant has figured out Bruce's secret identity, and the first person he tells is Wayne Enterprises CEO Lucius Fox, in an attempt to blackmail Bruce. Fox puts the situation in perspective:
"Let me get this straight: You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck."
- The Illusionist, subverted.
- Akira Kurosawa's Sanjuro. A slight variation in that the nine naive young samurai were certain they'd identified the villain -- and reported that to the real villain, who asked them to meet him later at a secluded shrine to discuss matters further. Fortunately, Toshiro Mifune was sleeping in the shrine and decided to save these well-meaning idiots.
- Averted in V for Vendetta, when Sutler asks Finch if anyone else has read Delia's diary. Finch answers no, but Sutler just tells him he'd better forget about it.
- This is the main driving force of the movie Weekend at Bernies. The two leads, Richard and Larry, come across a work situation in which a customer's next of kin was issued a life insurance check multiple times, essentially meaning that either the man died four times or someone was ripping off the company. They bring it to their boss, Bernie Lomax, who casually asks if they've shown this to anyone else. Being company men, they continue sucking up to Lomax and, of course, tell him he's the first person they've spoken with. Lomax invites them to his beach house for the weekend as a reward for their work. He then tries to convince his Mafia-gangster boss that these two guys must be killed because they know too much. His boss, instead, tells his hitman to kill Lomax instead. Hilarity Ensues.
- In the 1997 adaptation of Ivanhoe, a random message-bearing mook tries (unsuccessfully) to avert this:
Fitzurse: "Does anybody know you're here?"
Mook: "None but my master...who expects my safe return!"
- In the 1987 thriller No Way Out, a technician that the protagonist took into his confidence in an attempt to delay the Big Bad's plan has an attack of conscience and tells... the Big Bad, after which this trope is played out verbatim.
- In The Island, Gandu Three Echo tells Dr. Merrick he suspects there's something wrong with the place and heard some rumours. Dr. Merrick asks "Have you told anyone else about this?". After the predictable answer, Dr. Merrick wraps up the conversation and kills Gandu.
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40000 Horus Heresy novel Legion, when Bronzi discovers a Chaos-tainted soldiers, he reports it, is asked who knows, and is warned that they need to keep it close to the chest. In this case, telling them that others know ensures that they get massacred, too.
- In Frederick Forsyth's novel The Day of the Jackal, the forger providing the Jackal's false papers tries to blackmail him, fatally assuming the assassin is merely an upper class dilettante dabbling in the drug trade. The Jackal skillfully asks a number of questions (disguised as an attempt to wriggle out of the situation, or ensure that he won't have to pay another bribe to an associate) which establish that the forger hasn't given his photographs to anyone else and that no-one will come to this location and find his body for some time.
- CS Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: When Edmund, under the influence of evil Turkish Delight, tells the White Witch his sister has also been to Narnia and met a faun, she quickly asks him who else knows about this, but he's in no condition, and for that matter has no reason, at this point to be suspicious.
- Comically subverted in the Discworld novel Jingo; upon being informed of Vimes's departure to Klatch before Ankh-Morpork's invasion fleet has fully assembled, Rust asks the informer if anyone else knew of it (presumably, hoping to keep the news under wraps so Klatch doesn't attack before Ankh-Morpork launches their fleet), the beggar tells him that nobody else saw it... just several other beggars, who also constitute the city's information network.
- In James Swallow's Warhammer 40000 novel Deus Encarmine, Inquistor Stele asks an astropath whether he has told anyone else about a message. When it countermands his orders, he tells the astropath that he had not come to give a message but to kill him, and murders him.
- In Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep, Scriber, a somewhat flaky inventor and self-proclaimed spy, comes up with a method of locating enemy spies in Woodcarver's city. He tells it to spymaster Vendacious, not realizing he's a double-agent and that Scriber's method would expose him. Vendacious congratulates Scriber and asks who else knows about this because "we'll need to swear them to secrecy also". Needless to say, after Scriber's earnest assurance that no-one else knows, death follows rapidly.
- A variation is used in David Weber's Safehold novel, Off Armageddon Reef. The villain is confronted about accusations of treason by his father-in-law (who, in his defense, was drunk at the time). The antagonist had no desire to kill his father-in-law, and was trying to convince the man to support him even as he plotted killing everyone else who suspected him.
- In How Firm a Foundation, Urvyn Mahndrayn takes a detour from a business trip to inform his cousin Trai Sahlavahn, who runs the powder-mill about some discrepancies in the shipping manifests for kegs of gunpowder delivered for the mill. Unfortunately Sahlavan is the traitor who was diverting the gunpowder shipments. He asks Mahndrayn who else he's told, and Mahndrayn says that he wanted to check with Sahlavan before alerting anyone else. It doesn't end well.
- A slight variation in Anansi Boys. Spider, filling in at work for his brother Fat Charlie, pokes around and discovers some odd accounts in offshore banks. He innocently mentions it to Fat Charlie's boss and suggests that it might be rather inefficient (his life up until this point has done little to prepare him for the idea that other people might be in any way deceitful). Said boss does not ask who else knows; he merely thanks Spider, who he thinks is actually Fat Charlie, and quietly rearranges things to make it appear that it was Fat Charlie who was running the money-laundering scheme. Unfortunately, his policy of not keeping on employees for much longer than a year (the better to hide his crime) bites him in the ass; Fat Charlie has been employed there longer than anyone, but a client attempting to collect on an account knows full well that the boss has been doing this for far longer than Fat Charlie's two years. This isn't even the worst of the trouble Spider causes Fat Charlie.
- Subverted in Harry Potter, when an old Muggle caretaker named Frank inadvertently stumbles upon a strange person who was previously discussing various murders. Frank, when confronted, pretends that he has a wife at home who knows where he went and who will call the police if he does not come home. Unfortunately, double subverted in that the strange murderer is Voldemort, who has no problem telling that it is a lie.
- In Dean Koontz's Brother Odd, Odd Thomas questions a number of suspects in a Closed Circle murder case. One of them asks if Odd has told anyone else about a certain piece of evidence, then offers him something to eat. Odd Lampshades this trope in his narration, then politely declines the food.
- The Chessmaster in the last Empire From the Ashes book pulls this off; it helps that the victim is a complete idiot about it. "I need to urgently tell the governor about the mole I placed in the terrorist organization, even though nothing's happening right now. This is on a strictly need-to-know basis, so don't tell anyone. Why no, no I haven't told anyone else. Leave a message? Sure! Here's the datachip with all the information, as well as the codes to decrypt it." (To be fair about this, the bad guy in question is the governor's immediate deputy, and in fact the victim reports directly to him. Lack of suspicion is unsurprising.)
- Deeba falls for this in Un Lun Dun.
- The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. When a thirteen year-old girl discovers that two workers have become sick with a possible pandemic, the factory owner contemplates killing her to maintain the secret after asking this question. Instead he packs all three off to the hospital.
- Coma by Robin Cook. Medical student Susan has just discovered the reason behind the slew of operating room deaths -- the patients are being poisoned with carbon monoxide, rendering them brain-dead and their organs available for sale on the black market. She goes running to the chief of surgery to tell him. Sure enough, HE's the one running the scam. Susan herself nearly ends up a victim, but fortunately for her she did confide her suspicions to her boyfriend, who's able to intervene and save her life.
- Invoked in a short story written by Brecht. A young boy cries in the street after being mugged. A man finds him there, and asks him why he hadn't called for help. The boy says he screamed as loudly as he could, but nobody heard him. The man then proceeds to rob the boy as well.
- Why? Did the second mugger expect the first mugger to have left the boy with anything valuable?
Live Action TV
- Averted in Battlestar Galactica Reimagined. Gaeta notices there's something wrong with the presidential votes and tells Saul, the man running the scheme. (Not the man who thought of the idea, but still.) Fortunately, that man is not a villain, so when Gaeta suspects something's off, he freely tells Admiral Adama and the whole thing is solved.
- On Charmed, Cole, in his role as a Big Bad, asks this of one of his Mooks who reported some information to Cole that was incriminating to Cole's reputation. When the mook answers no, Cole vanquishes him to keep him from telling anyone else.
- Note that this mook told him the information with plenty of other people in the room...so Cole kills them all.
- On the contrary. He left one of them alive, telling him "You I trust." This trusted lieutenant did go on to betray him. This trust makes Cole look like a Horrible Judge of Character, though there's no way to tell whether the reporting mook or the other witnesses would have been any more loyal than the one he spared.
- Doctor Who
- The episode "Boom Town" starts with an unfortunate scientist telling the mayor that her upcoming nuclear power station project is terribly unsafe, almost as if it was intended to go wrong... Needless to say, he doesn't survive the conversation. Subverted in that the scientist hadn't told anyone else, but had put his findings on the internet.
- There's dozens upon dozens of examples in the original series, of course, way too many to list.
- Sarah Jane Smith fell into this trope a lot.
- In the Farscape episode "That Old Black Magic," Crais receives a direct order from Peacekeeper High Command to end his pursuit of John Crichton and return to base. His second-in-command Lt. Teeg destroys the message and assures him that no-one else knows about it. Crais repays this loyalty by breaking her neck.
- Invoked in the Bones episode "Judas on a Pull"
Hodgins: "I've seen this movie. I get killed on the way home, don't I?"
- In one episode of RoboCop, a scientist has a Eureka Moment, and chooses to drive across town to bounce his idea off of an older scientist mentioned earlier in the episode. Said idea is that someone framed Robocop using the prototype of his signature gun. Trope applies per usual, then the older man promptly pulls said prototype out of a drawer. No, don't wonder why the scientist didn't just Google, why he wouldn't know in the first place, or why he wouldn't just call on one of the videophones frequently used in the series. In a minor subversion, he hadn't told anyone his idea, but he had mentioned where he was going, allowing Robocop to save him.
- Averted in an episode of Pretty Little Liars. When the main character girls go out into the forest with a police officer to trap a killer, he asks if they've told anyone else. Hannah says yes, she left a note so her mom won't worry. Afterwards another girl asks Hannah if she really did leave a note, Hannah says of course not -- but she doesn't want the cop to know it.
- In the seventh season of Twenty Four, a minor character effectively tells the Big Bad of the first half of the show "I know you aren't who you say you are. I did not tell anyone. Please come and kill me". Also invoked in the pre-season "Redemption" movie.
- Subverted in The X Files when AD Skinner wishes to make a deal with the cigarette smoking man about a tape containing classified information. CSM tells Skinner his deal has one problem (namely that CSM is holding Skinner at gun point and can be easily killed and searched) at which point Skinner reveals his trump. He has had a Navajo translator read and memorize all the information on the tape and orally tell it to twenty other tribal leaders throughout the United States who are all ordered to testify said information should any one of the people in the group die. CSM, who does not wish to have all the info revealed or to kill all the people necessary to keep them silent, agrees to the deal. Further subverted in that it is implied that the original translator had no idea why Skinner asked him to come and help make the deal.
- Used in Lost during the episode "Across the Sea". Mother asks the Man in Black if he has revealed the Light beneath the island to the villagers. When he says yes, you can almost see the gears turning as she calculates how many people she must now kill. Subverted, in that she kills everyone in the village except the Man in Black.
- Used in the pilot of Eureka when Beverley questions the wife of a deceased scientist with whom her shady organization had been working. The woman has heard too much and intends to start talking, but hasn't done so yet. Beverley overdoses her on some sort of medication hidden in her tea and plays it as a suicide.
- Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote is a master at subverting this trope. Often when she only has a hunch and no concrete evidence of someone's guilt, she sets things up so that the perpetrator believes it's such a situation when in fact she has the cops ready and waiting. Played for drama.
- A variation of it in the Dollhouse episode "Getting Closer". After Dollhouse scientist Bennett Halverson tells Dr. Saunders that she can restore the Echo's original Caroline personality which knows who the real head of the Rossum Corporation is, Saunders shoots her in the head.
- In the Criminal Minds episode "Scared to Death", a therapist who kills his patients asks his next victim if she's told anyone she's attending therapy with him.
- The Event uses this big-time, when one guy is about to tell the government key information. Sure enough, his lifespan is measured in minutes.
- Neighbours did this in a situation that viewers still talk about even years after it happened. Shortly before he was due to leave on a holiday, Connor learned that the missing 'Robert' (who is really Cameron) is in a coma at a nursing home. He immediately went to tell Robert's identical triplet 'Cameron' (who is really Robert) the good news. This was the last time he ever appeared on the show, and Robert was later seen driving Connor's car and digging up the front garden. In what is either a genuine subversion or a Retcon, Connor was later 'proven' to be alive and well, first when police found his wallet in China, and later when he apparently sent Toadie and others gifts for St. Patrick's Day, also from China.
- Beautifully subverted in an episode of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates; after seemingly solving a case, Hetty outlines to her client why she believes that the person arrested for accidental death was actually framed, gives her theory on the series of events that led her client to kill the victim, and where evidence that could implicate him could be found. The client asks if she's told the police yet, and when she says she hasn't, makes a threatening move towards her, at which point her husband and her young adult assistant burst into the room to dissuade the client. Thoroughly subverted when the client goes to destroy the evidence (his fingerprints on the door of a disused shed), only to be caught by police waiting for him and told that the door's already been printed.
- Played straight in Korean drama Athena:
- One of Hyeok's underlings at American intelligence agency DIS reports to Hyeok that the terrorist organization Athena has infiltrated DIS and that he thinks Hyeok's right hand, Andy, is The Mole.
- The audience knows from the start that Hyeok is currently head of Athena's operations in South Korea (and Andy is Number Two).
- Hyeok asks his underling, "Have You Told Anyone Else?" Underling says no. Hyeok unnerves him with, "Good. If you tell anyone, you might endanger yourself." Cut to Andy confronting Underling, who gets scared and runs away, directly towards Hyeok, who (surprise!) shoots him.
- The villain attempts this in Foyle's War questioning Sam about a conversation she overheard, and threateningly asking her if she had told anyone about it. She tells him that, in fact, she had dismissed the conversation, but now that he seems to find it so important, she is going to tell everyone that she can think of, including that police superintendent she is friends with.
- In the episode when the groundskeeper finds that Jeff and Troy have discovered his secret illegal trampoline Troy becomes concerned this is playing out.
- Dean Craig Pelton is less savvy. When the "food" he bought for the campus Halloween party turned the student body into zombies, he notified the Army. When they arrived, the Dean foolishly answered, "No," when asked if anyone else knew about the zombies. An underling began to draw a gun but luckily another soldier realized the zombie plague was over so they went with Plan B.
- A Villian of The Week attempts to invoke this with Sam on Burn Notice. Sam, Genre Savvy as he is, and posing as an undercover dirty cop, immediately says that his "supervisior" knows that Sam is interviewing him. Should something happen to Sam, then the supervisor knows who to come looking for. Nice save, Sam.
- Played with in the Due South episode, "A Hawk and a Handsaw". Fraser is undercover as a patient in a mental hospital and comes across evidence that the staff are illegally testing an anti-depressant that causes some of the subjects to commit suicide. When his partner, Ray, visits him, they're led to an empty room where they then begin to exchange all the information they've discovered before Fraser clicks in and asks Ray who he told regarding his whereabouts leading to this response, "Nobody, why? [he is grabbed by a thug with a gun] I misunderstood the question, I told everybody I know! I told the State's Attorney, I told the Sheriff, I even told my mother!" Different in that it's not the villain who asks this but one of the good guys realizing they're being spied on.
- Subverted in Sovisa. Aleksei reports to his captain about a strange signal that was sent from their ship. When the captain asks if he's told the rest of the crew yet, Aleksei simply shoots him point blank in the chest and ejects his body out an airlock.
Stand Up Comedy
- Daniel Tosh has this act on his CD "True Stories I Made Up":
"My biggest fear is that my neighbor will knock on my door: 'Daniel, get out here! I just won the lottery! I'm out of here for good!' '...Have you told anybody yet?' 'No, you're the first one!' ...I don't know if you can cremate someone in a gas fireplace, but I'll find out. Feet first, I reckon."
- In the first Rainbow Six game, this happened to a medical expert you already rescued once. When she realizes the origins of the virus a terrorist group plans to release, she calls one of your other advisors, who asked her this. After she says no, several terrorists come knocking on her doorstep.
- At the end of chapter 6 in Super Paper Mario, Dimentio appears before Mr. L (a Brainwashed and Crazy Luigi) and asks him how his fight against the heroes went (knowing full well he lost). When Luigi tells him, he basically says "So the Count doesn't know what happened to you?" and blows him up.
- Played straight this Things of Interest fiction, where the person being told the info is mind-controlled by the evil aliens.
- In Kaspall, the only person they told was a trustworthy police sergeant -- in fact, trustworthy enough to call them idiots for not reporting it earlier.
- In Order of the Stick #830, Tsukiko tells Redcloak that she's figured out that he's been deceiving Xykon; the ritual to 'control' the Snarl won't have the effect Xykon expects. Redcloak promptly order Tsukiko's undead thralls to sieze her (he'd used a 'command undead' ability on them when he'd entered the room) and orders them to devour her lifeforce, then eat her corpse. Then eat each other. Then commit suicide.
- Chirault had Ridriel along with the rest of the Mages' Council told (and not arguing) that whoever stole the Doomsday Device they accidentally made most likely used inside information. So in Chapter 15 she reported related evidence to a council member she requested to come alone. He asks for some details and finishes with "You have told no one else?" Guess who is locked up and wears an explosive collar a few pages later?
- In the third season premiere of Transformers Animated Shockwave/Longarm Prime asked this of Blurr after he managed to "run" his way from Saturn to Cybertron. Blurr answers yes. Needless to say, he's dead in under a minute. He puts up a better fight than most who fall to this trope, though: when Shockwave starts shooting at Blurr, Blurr uses his Super Speed to avoid and escape... but he doesn't realize the corridors have been booby-trapped with Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom until it's too late to avoid being crushed into a small cube. Still worried that TFA is going to be too kiddy?
- In Freakazoid!, Roddy MacStew tells the board of his company that the Pinnacle Chip is flawed and will create the Freakazoid if a certain combination of keys is pressed, followed by delete. The Big Bad running the company asks him if anyone else knows about the flaw, before throwing Roddy out the (very high off the ground) window.
- Played with in the third episode of Exo Squad, Phaeton's Finance Minister asks for a secret meeting at a factory to inform him that the Martian treasury has been looted. Phaeton cheerfully admits to having diverted the funds himself in order to secretly build weapons. The Finance Minister plays along and later hacks Phaeton's files so he can expose the full extent of Phaeton's crimes. The line is only used after this attempt fails.
- Used rather shockingly in the Grand Finale move for Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy. After spending the whole movie trying to get to his brother following a rather badly done scam, Eddy finally arrives. And this bit of Foreshadowing occurs.
Eddy's brother : Do mom and dad know You're here?
Eddy : As if.
Eddy's brother : Does anyone know you're here?
Eddy : Only these chumps who chased us here.