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Bob is attempting to do something - practice their golf swing, open a box, crack a safe - and a passerby gives him some advice. "You gotta twist it!" It's someone that Bob hasn't seen before and won't see again, just a friendly person with some expertise in the matter, whisking into and out of the plot with barely a trace.

Examples of Random Passerby Advice include:


  • Advertisements by ING Direct lately follow the format of someone complaining about a bank somehow, then someone else says, "If you don't want to do X, then stop doing X." They're trying to say that their banking doesn't have all these things you normally find.


  • In Red Garden Claire is on the sidewalk outside her apartment practicing swinging a bat when a random guy runs across the street and critiques her stance, advising her to "rotate your hips", then walks away.


  • In Falling Down, William Foster decides to give a road crew doing make work and snarling traffic "something real to fix" but can't figure out how to operate his rocket launcher. A kid observing the traffic jam helpfully informs him.
  • L.A. Story. Harris K. Telemacher remembers when this once happened to him.

 Harris: I went roller skating once at the Brooklyn Rollerdome. It was awful. I was completely out of control. I went slamming into this 8-foot tall black guy in a green satin jump suit. I said, "I'm sorry, could you help me?" And he looked at me with stoned eyes and said: "Let your mind go and your body will follow."

  • Ben in Leaving Las Vegas storms away from the food court while Sera calls after him to stay. A passerby tells him he ought to stay, and does so in such a way that it seems he has some sort of plot significance. He doesn't.

Live Action TV

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • After Lt. Barclay gained (and later lost) huge amounts of knowledge, as he's talking with Counselor Troi they pass by a chess game. He moves one piece and says "checkmate in nine moves."

 Troi: I didn't know you play chess.

Barclay: I don't!


  • Old joke, possibly originating with Redd Foxx:

 A motorist is driving past a mental hospital when he gets a flat tire. He goes out to change the tire,and sees that one of the patients is watching him through the fence. Nervous, trying to work quickly, he jacks up the car, takes off the wheel, puts the lug nuts into the hubcap and steps on the hubcap, sending the lug nuts clattering into a storm drain.

The mental patient is still watching him through the fence. The motorist desperately looks into the storm drain, but the lug nuts are gone.

The patient is still watching.

The motorist paces back and forth, trying to think of what to do - and the patient says, "Take one lug nut off each of the others tires,and you'll have three lug nuts on each."

"That's brilliant!!!" says the motorist. "What's someone like you doing in an asylum?"

"I'm here because I'm crazy," says the patient, "not because I'm stupid."

  • An old Jewish joke concerns a fishmonger who puts up a sign that reads, "Fresh Fish Sold Here Daily." A passerby tells him that four of the words are unnecessary, so the fishmonger paints over all the words except "Fish". He starts to put up the sign again, when another passerby says, "You don't need a sign. Your fish can be smelled from a mile away!"
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