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This trope is about that scene where someone is receiving, or has found, some important piece of information only to have --connection lost--
--connection reestablished-- then the battery gets plugged into --connection lost--
--connection reestablished-- except the coconut gets in the way --connection lost--
--connection reestablished-- and then the goat --connection lost--
--connection reestablished-- then I said "But you're the second one!!" Man, everyone was so --connection lost--
--connection reestablished-- but undoubtedly, the most important part is when --connection lost--
--unable to reestablish communication; connection terminated--
There are a couple of variations on this trope:
Type 1a: Some list of important information is being conveyed. Whether because of technical reasons (network failure, radio static, the tape breaks, the computer has experienced a psychotic break from reality, etc) or unintentional stupidity, some of the information is lost. Inevitably it is going to be the most important piece of information. It's the one single piece required to complete the task you are being given, or prevent you from being killed while performing the task. The last clear part of the message will invariably be something like "Under no circumstances should you ever..." or "It's vitally important that you..."
Type 1b: There's a variation of this where it's the audience that's left in the dark, but in-universe everyone is clued in. The Planet Terror example below is this type. (Similar to Relax-O-Vision, but where that is obviously intentional, this is made to look purely accidental.)
Type 2: You have some kind of communication or tome of information, part of which is missing or has been either intentionally or unintentionally redacted, leaving something much more mysterious, suggestive and/or humorous than the original could possibly have been. What you're left with is an accidental list of Noodle Implements with no instructions. Or a non-sequitur without the information that would have naturally linked Point A to Point Z and you are left wondering just exactly how the heck Point A and Point Z could possibly be connected. The SCP Foundation example below is this type.
There is no reason not to mix the two in the same instance, as with the article intro.
The keys to identifying this trope and distinguishing it from others are:
- You aren't simply missing necessary information to be discovered as with a puzzle or in context of a mystery.
- It's not a case of misunderstanding what was said or a translation error.
- The most important is that the recipient knows there is another piece and there is no way for them to get it; communication has effectively become a one-way street and they are getting all they are going to get without the chance to ask "Can you please repeat yourself?"
- It's nearly always used for the funny.
Be sure your example meets the above qualifications before adding it. If it's a misunderstanding or if the recipient doesn't realize they don't have the full message, it's not this.
In a best-case scenario you are left going "Huh?" in a worst-case scenario you are left holding a pair of wire snips and a dead cellphone saying, "Hello? It's still ticking. You just said 'Never ever do...' Never ever do what? Are you still there? It's started to make beep-beep noises now. Hello?"
If people involved in a Noodle Incident reminisce, you can wind up with a Type 2 for outsiders listening in.
Compare: Orphaned Punchline and Noodle Implements. His Name Is and Conveniently Interrupted Document are subtropes. Contrast: Lost in Translation where the information is all there, just interpreted wrongly. See also Distress Call, Electronic Speech Impediment, Translation: "Yes".
Oh, and when using this trope, never, ever
— MySQL error A113 — dbconn() — unable to reestablish network connection. Please try again later
- Future Shop had an advertisement which would start with an employee answering questions, which in this case, was answering how to restore files on a hard drive after a crash, but it would get interrupted by an announcement of a sale at the store.
"Dear Future Shop, my hard drive just crashed with all my files on it. How do I get it back?" Don't worry, all you need to do is...
- In the second season of Star Blazers (Uchuu Senkan Yamato), Trelaina's message to Earth is almost completely lost in a radio-jam by the Comet Empire, to the point that it is mostly "ip ip eh" noises mixed in with several word-halves, and yet Wildstar still senses it is important.
- In Digimon Adventure, when Tai returns to Earth and is separated from the rest of the group, he gets a staticky message from Izzy telling him he's better off not returning. What can be heard makes it sound like everyone's in danger, but the astute viewer will note that Izzy's voice is unusually subdued. Several episodes later, we hear the other end of it: He wasn't exactly himself at the time, and he was trying to convince Tai of the meaninglessness of action in general.
- In the tie-in comic for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, a resistance member attempts to radio in to HQ explaining that their operation is a failure as he's being attacked by a Terminator. The transmission then ends in static in the final panel, implying that the Terminator killed the resistance member.
- Played straight in Screamers.
There's a new kind of screamer. Do not let it into the perimeter, over.
- In Planet Terror, we get a "Missing Reel" screen. During the missing reel, it's implied, we'd have gotten to see Rose McGowan totally naked, plus the entire plot surrounding Ray's mysterious origins would have been explained.
- This exchange from Ocean's Eleven, where Rusty is instructing Linus:
Rusty: ...Don't use three words when one will do, don't shift your eyes, look always at your mark, but don't stare; be specific, but not memorable; be funny, but don't make him laugh. He's got to like you, and then forget you the moment you've left his sight. And for God's sake, whatever you do, don't, under any circumstances --
- Superhero Movie plays with this trope when Rick Riker receives a message from Professor X and it keeps buffering so the important info is lost and it sounds like something else.
- Type 1b is used (in the form of Plot-Based Voice Cancellation) in Kill Bill volume 1 to delay the audience finding out The Bride's real name, Beatrix Kiddo. Slightly funny and disturbing when you realize Bill had been calling her Kiddo all along, which until the reveal seemed like a term of endearment.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. One of the villains' allies decides to tell Kirk and McCoy the master plan, but they are beamed to safety by Spock before they get to hear a word of it.
Kirk: No! No! Of all the - son of a - Couldn't you have waited two seconds? They were just about to tell us the whole thing!
- Crimson Tide. The main conflict revolves around the differing opinions of the captain and the executive officer after they receive an interrupted emergency message that begins "Nuclear missile laun...". Having previously been ordered to launch their nuclear weapons, the captain feels they must launch immediately while the executive officer wants confirmation first. There's a Race Against the Clock on both sides to prevent what they both see as an unthinkable outcome.
- In Shrek, the titular character tries to silence Donkey by covering his mouth, to little avail.
Donkey: Man, you almost burned the hair out of my nose, just like the time...
- Event Horizon has a horrific Type 1a. The distress signal sent by the titular starship contains the Latin phrase liberate me ("save me"). It was later realized that the message was actually liberate tutemet ex inferis ("save yourself from Hell").
- In Monsters vs. Aliens, as Gallaxhar is telling his story and being cloned (when he's downed into the cloning machine, we can't hear him) at the same time.
- Jarringly subverted in The Spanish Prisoner, where several points of fact, detail, or exposition are obscured by environmental noise or bad camera angles as a deliberate signal to the audience of the movie that they are Macguffins.
- Shown in Revenge of the Sith. One of the clone troopers trying to support Anakin and Obi Wan in saving Chancellor Palpatine ends up getting into an ambush with Droid fighters. The clone troopers shout for them to get the fighters off their tails, but then static emerges, implying that he was shot down.
- A rather tragic example is shown in Captain America: The First Avenger. When Captain America is preparing to forcibly crash land the Valkyrie into water/the Arctic, he is talking to Peggy Carter via radio. His final words were "I don't want to step on your..." (referring to their planned dance should he come back alive) before the transmission is cut due to the plane crashing into the ice and presumably smashing the communications equipment onboard the plane.
- House of Leaves makes use of this occasionally. For example, two of Will Navidson's dreams are recounted, and the third dream is said to be very unsettling and key to understanding his actions. Naturally, Johnny misplaced those pages.
- There's also the chapter where Navidson sends samples from the house to be scientifically analyzed, which seems like it would have answered a lot...except Johnny accidentally most of those pages.
- Halfway through Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, Harry observes Professor Slughorn's memory of talking to a young Lord Voldemort in a pensieve. At certain points the image suddenly turns grey, and we hear Slughorn saying things that he didn't say-he modified the memory to cover up telling Voldemort about Horcruxes.
- Ironically, once the true memory is revealed, it turns out Slughorn mostly confirmed what Voldemort had already learned.
- The entire plot of Ellen Raskin's The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel) revolves around this trope.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events loves this trope.
- Brazilian novel O Homem Que Matou Getúlio Vargas (released in English as Twelve Fingers) has a Truth in Television technique of lowering the water level of the prison's toilets so when someone speaks into one toilet, it can be heard in the others. An inmate is listing the ones that we will be sent to a prison ship. He only says the protagonist's name before someone flushes and people are unable to hear the rest.
- In The Westing Game, this trope occurs when Sam Westing's will is revealed. One character makes a stupid joke during the reading, and none of the heirs realizes that they've missed a crucial clue as a result until much later. Turns out the trope was deliberately invoked, as the joker has a hidden agenda and distracted everyone on purpose.
- German Writer Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), in his "Ideen", had a whole (single page) chapter where all text is blacked out, as by an official censor. The only text left are the three starting words "Die deutschen Zensoren" (the German censors) and somewhere halfway the word "Dummköpfe" (blockheads, idiots).
- The Book of Mazarbul in Lord of the Rings is read out with all the missing bits included as ellipses. Tolkien also inscribed the relevant pages to show the missing burned parts.
"we have barred the gates but doubt if [...] can hold them long. If there is [...] no escape it will be a horrible fate to suffer [...] We cannot get out. We cannot get out... fell there bravely while the rest retr [...] Mazarbul. We still ho[...]g ... but hope u[...]n[...]Óin's party went five days ago but today only four returned.
- Monty Python and The Holy Grail: 'Here may be found the last words of Joseph of Arimathea. He who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail in the Castle of aaarrrrggh'.
Maynard: He must have died while carving it.
- The Ebenezum trilogy: The oracle is a team of three women, each of whom gives one part of the prophecy. One of them sick and is unable to announce her part. However they order the three, the missing woman's part of the prophecy is the important one.
- Episode 30 of Monty Python's Flying Circus had a Running Gag where periodically the skit would cut to a bizarre set of instructions being read that included the phrase "and paste down the edge of the sailor's uniform, until the word 'Maudling' is almost totally obscured." Near the end of the show, the scene cuts to BBC Newsman Richard Baker at a newsdesk talking and making increasingly strange hand gestures, however there is a voice over preventing us from hearing what he is saying. Finally the voice over ends and the normal audio concludes with Richard saying "... until the word 'Maudling' is almost totally obscured." Bonus points for never knowing what the instructions are supposed to be for to begin with.
- Another Python gag that uses this trope comes from the How to Irritate People sketch.
John Cleese: For example, have you ever heard about the two blondes who went to a nudist colony... (the audio cuts out for a few seconds, then) well, I didn't know he played the violin.
- The Australian Late Show, Tony Martin and Mick Molloy were discussing Thai porno movies, and the station kept having "transmission problems" just as they got to the "interesting" parts.
- Type 1a is milked for laughs in the Hancock's Half Hour TV episode "The Radio Ham". Our hero is a ham radio operator who receives a Mayday call from a sinking yacht, but is unable to write down its position because events - a power failure, an angry neighbour and a blown circuit - keep preventing him. Eventually the yacht is saved by one of Hancock's regular correspondents, much to his disgust, and he gives up the hobby.
- Various types of this occur frequently on Lost. The Swan Orientation film alone had multiple types: some information lost due to film problems, some due to Radzinsky snipping it out. In season 5, a time flash occurs just as Daniel is trying to get Desmond to help him: "You have to find my mother. Her name is --." Most times the subsequent episodes complete the info.
- Carl and Steve are stuck flying a plane (It Makes Sense in Context) with no pilot and they ask ground control what to do. They get a pretty good idea and manage to steady the plane until they hear "Now, you need to make sure you *static* or you will die. Is that clear?"
- Which show is this from?
- Doctor Who: Eleven's instructions to Rory in "The Big Bang"
The Doctor: "...you're not indestructible, so God's sake, not matter how bored you get, stay out of" (teleports away)
- The Jonathan Coulton song "Chiron Beta Prime"
That's all the family news we're allowed to talk about
- This song is about a billboard that had been pasted over with innumerable new advertisements. The top layers had begun peeling off, leaving words from underneath exposed. When putting the whole thing together, you had a wonderful medley of nonsense made from mixing up phrases from all the various ads.
- Hugh Laurie's "All We Gotta Do" is all about this. He has the answers to all the world's problems...which he unfortunately mumbles.
- In Bloom County, Opus wakes up from a nap and turns on the TV only to learn that he's just missed a report on three things that have been determined to cause sudden, fatal nose warts in penguins. Opus screams at the TV, begging for the news anchor to go back and repeat the story, but the news anchor cheerfully signs off. Then as Opus stands there, staring at us aghast, the anchor adds, "Shouldn't have been napping."
- In one Dilbert strip, the Pointy-Haired Boss calls Dilbert and says "Go through my desk and look up the billing codes". Due to poor cell phone reception in the Boss's area, what Dilbert hears is "Go throw my desk off the building." Due to the fact that nobody likes the boss, Dilbert and Alice do just that the next strip.
- Any properly-run Paranoia RPG should be chock full of this kind of stuff.
- "Troubleshooter, congratulations on being assigned to test the experimental Personal Fuel/Air Explosive Knapsack and Lunchbag! You will be held fully accountable for any damage caused to the device or facilities due to misuse of the device, Troubleshooter. The Computer is your friend!" Then the player should realize the instruction book has been almost entirely blacked out with "CLASSIFIED INFORMATION" stamps.
- "Troubleshooter, you have been assigned an urgent mission! Please report immediately to Alpha Complex Sector A-squeeeeeeeee-Bouncy Bubble Beverage, now available in Soylent Orange flavor! squeeeeeeee-failure to report on time will be considered treason."
- Dungeons and Dragons
- Module S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. The PCs can acquire an Apocalyptic Log document of a party that previously entered the title area. It has a number of smudges, stains, blotches and smears that cover important words and phrases.
- Module O2 Blade of Vengeance. Two items have missing information: Druinder's letter and the last page of the hermit's book.
- Silent Hill RPG. In Alchemilla Hospital the PCs can find a videotape. When played it has an audible message in a female voice.
“Still has..., eyes do...tting a puls...er skin is...when I cha...blood and...ooz...Why? Wh...I won...please..”
- In GlaDOS' opening announcement from Portal:
"For your own safety, and the safety of others, please refrain from *crackle* *static* Por favor de donde fallar muchos gracias de fallar gracias. *crackle* stand back. The portal will open in three... two... one..."
- She does it again when explaining the safety instructions for the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, and there is also this pearl:
"[what we said before] was a complete fabrication. We will stop enhancing the truth in three... two... *[static]*"
Announcer: "In the event that the world has been taken over by a sentient cloud, animal king, or other advanced life form with which we are unable to reason or commuuuuu..." (recording slows to a stop)
- Also from the Orange Box, in Half-Life 2: Episode 2, when Alyx (with you alongside her) tries to transmit a warning about an approaching Combine armada to her Dr. Magnusson from the radio tower, transmission interference cuts her off before she's able to convey it properly.
- In the original Half-Life 2, after Black Mesa East comes under attack, Eli is giving Alyx instructions on how to escape!
Eli: You've got to get out of here! Take Gordon! Head for the coast! Do NOT go through Rav-[transmission cuts out.]
Demoman: "I got a manky eye. I'm a black, Scottish cyclops. They've got more f-[long beep]-than they've got the likes of me."
- Happens in the original Half Life, in the level where you finally meet the black ops ninjas ("Apprehension").
Barney: "Freeman, right? I've got a message for you. Make sure you..." <bang!> "Aaggghh!"
- In World of Warcraft there's an item called "Nat Pagel's Guide to Extreme Anglin'" that's missing every page but the last. What does it say? "... and so that's where you'll find the legendary sword of the Scarlet Highlord, Ashbringer. Ain't it amazin' what you run into in an ordinary day of fishin'?"
- In the GDI campaign of the original Command and Conquer, there's a mission where you must sneak a Commando into a Nod base and blow up one specific building. Which one? Well, your mission briefing was over a black and white, fuzzy, static-filled channel: "Make sure you take out the - (bzzzzzzz) - and get the -(bzzzzzzz) - out of there!"
- If you blow up the wrong building, you get to do a follow-up mission where you attack the base with a conventional force, but the enemy has had time to expand their defenses.
- If you count the number of stars representing static in the objective menu you realise that only one structure has that specific amount of letters.
- There are a number of ways of working this out. Probably the most common is "What's the hardest building in the base to attack?" followed by, "What's the most important building in the base?". Other possibilities include "What's the only building that could pose a threat to my One-Man Army?" and "What building is there only one of?".
- In Rebel Assault II, the first mission Cutscene has a static - ridden message from a freighter pilot, mentioning "...new weapons..." and generally foreshadowing. Several missions later, you recover the freighter itself and can receive the full message. The static is done so that if you know the full message, you can just tell most of it when reviewing the original.
- Wedge Antilles, during the Assault on Kile II mission in the first Rogue Squadron game, ends up having his transmission cut as he ends up shot down by an ambush of TIE interceptors.
- Shows up in some of the Apocalyptic Logs of the second System Shock game; specifically, the logs about SHODAN and her plans.
- In Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door, Princess Peach has found out what the villains plan to do with her (have an Eldritch Abomination possess her) - just as she's typing a message to inform Mario of it, the Big Bad walks in to take her away, and the message is sent incomplete, leaving the Reveal to the climax of the game.
- Sonic Colors:
Dr. Eggman: Remember, for your safety, please avoid (silence) as well as (silence) Never under any circumstances (silence) as it is actually a living being, and will bite your face off.
- Tron 2.0 is loaded with this. For about three-quarters of the game, Jet's receiving incomplete, cryptic, and static-filled transmissions from Ma3a or "Guest." In "Guest's" case it turns out Alan is making do with an old arcade game and junk from the storage closet he's locked in. Unfortunately, the poor communication does kill Alan doesn't realize it's his son that's trying to help Ma3a and Jet doesn't get the message not to compile the Tron Legacy (no relation) code until it is way too late.
- One of the Marine logs in Metroid Prime 2 Echoes has it abruptly ending in static.
- This is how the events of the first Metal Gear started: Gray Fox was infiltrating Outer Heaven and scouting the various locations and the items inside, and reporting to FOXHOUND. He eventually stumbled on evidence that Metal Gear is being developed. However, he was caught, and he was about to say something regarding "Metal Gear", but the transmission was cut, with his last/only words before the cutting of transmission being "Metal Gear..."
- Dead Space 2: "Isaac it very important that you..."
- In the very first strip of Arthur, King of Time and Space, when Merlin is explaining the premise.
- In an early Emergency Exit strip, Harvoc, the hook-handed mailman, accidentally tears an important part out of a letter from the villians to the heroes
- This Xkcd strip has only the prime-numbered panels (the other 2/3 of the panels are blacked out).
- The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has the doc riding a robot Dracula in outer space, calling his brother (who is fighting a demonic spirit in a submarine at the time) for tips on how to control it. No surprise the connection (eventually) gets lost.
- Used in A Miracle of Science to make the already weird snippets of Martian conversation even more humorously out-of context:
- "...yellow stuff is lemon flavored, but it's really insulation flavored."
- "If I knew... machetes... getting married, I'd have done it long ago."
- "...do not... -inate. Those are structural cockroaches."
- The punchline to this Skin Horse guest strip.
- In Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger, he is told he must take the assassin alive, but not why.
- This "Ask A Ninja" episode.
- The SCP Foundation uses this to a great extent to ensure that humanity isn't exposed to [DATA EXPUNGED] or [DATA EXPUNGED] with regards to the creators of █████ and ████████.
- SCP document "MTF-E5 'Reddawn' Agent Handbook" - image of Chapter 5 is almost entirely covered by previous page except for endings paragraph which conclude "With that said, you should now have better [obscured] methods for taking care of baby in midst of battle. [...]" and annotated "I hadn't thought of it that way, but this makes sense."
- Previously on LOST, a parody WoW Machinima has this at the end.
- Look to the West takes the form of transmissions from a scouting party in an Alternate Universe sent home, consisting mainly of excerpts from local history books. As the story goes on, more of these history books have parts censored. Part #100 of the story has constant breaks in transmission with static: this is not explained until the end of the chapter, in which we learn the scouts were attacked by locals and their transmitter destroyed partway through transmission, corrupting parts of the file.
- The Harvey Birdman episode, "Sebben & Sebben New Employee Orientation / Juicer Instruction" video has a number of instances where the audio or filmstrip skips, skipping a piece of information that was about to be disclosed, or connecting two unrelated topics in the middle of the narration. As well as, of course, cutting away from the Employee Orientation into how to use your new juicer.
- An episode of kids' show Martha Speaks has the kids and Martha hiding a tape recorder to record the plans of what they think are a couple of criminals getting ready to rob a bank. They retrieve the recorder later and take it to the police. When they play the tape, just as the criminals are starting to discuss details, the tape has been recorded over with Martha singing pop tunes. (No explanation over how she managed to get time to record herself singing between the time they retrieved the tape and arrived at the police station... Even for a kids' show, that always bothered me about this episode.)
- In the first Futurama episode to feature the soap opera All My Circuits, Calculon reveals his terrible secret at the exact moment that Bender walks in and his antenna disrupts the broadcast. He leaves the room intending to go and complain, and the picture comes back. Calculon says "To reiterate, my terrible secret is-" and then Bender returns and disrupts the transmission again.
- The chronotons from the episode "Time Keeps On Slippin" start to cause "time skips" where time suddenly lurches forward. One time skip jumps to Fry and Leela's wedding, then another immediately jumps to their divorce, leaving Fry to wonder how he managed to get her to marry him in the first place and then what he did to cause the divorce.
- In an episode of Sushi Pack, Tako goes with his newly-discovered cousin to a family reunion. After he's gone, the rest of the Pack start to worry that this reunion is a trap, and go investigate in their underwater craft. When they spot a couple of octopi, Kani turns on an eavesdropping device, but it cuts out at a crucial moment, making it sound like the family reunion is indeed a trap. It turns out the reunion was actually a surprise party honoring Tako's achievements as an octopus and a member of the Sushi Pack.
- In The Simpsons, Homer suffers a mental version of this:
- "When the fire starts to burn, There's a lesson you must learn. Something something, then **you'll see: You'll avoid catastrophe!"
- Kent Brockman is also fond of this one:
- "When the fire starts to burn, There's a lesson you must learn. Something something, then **you'll see: You'll avoid catastrophe!"
Kent Brockman: ...which if true, means death to us all.
- In the Metalocalypse episode "Mordland", static interrupts band mascot Facebones during several important parts of the Fan Day safety briefing.
- In the Teen Titans episode Stranded (in which the entire plot is about various miscommunications), The Titans are in their Combining Mecha-like ship and trying to shake off the Monster of the Week which was latched on to the hood. Robin orders them not to separate-- twice-- but a radio malfunction misleads the team into separating.
- If you've ever seen copies of those documents concerning the military's UFO research, you'd wonder if someone didn't just block out 80% of the text just to screw with you. It's in weird places too. Half a paragraph will be blocked, only to pick up on stuff like "...to which, the witness responded, 'I don't know WHAT they would want with my cattle, that's why I called you.'"
- The SCP Foundation's use of oddly placed [DATA EXPUNGED] probably owes something to these.
- Railway platform announcements, as immortalised by this Usenet signature:
Bing-Bong. Brimish Rull regret that mumble maz bem dermumble a mir mumble mumble bimble late. Passengers mizzing to mumble rimble mumble are advised to momble mar at murmble. Thank you mor mumble mimbling Brimble mum. Bing-Bong. — Gaz
- Bill Cosby mentions something similar in one of his routines; during a conversation with an old wino, the wino mentions that he's the guy who announces the bus schedule.
- The Wikileaks cables get like this sometimes.
- Used by Rowan Atkinson in a comedy routine:
Atkinson: I am Zoltan from the Planet Bonk. I come to you to warn you of the means you must take to avoid the destruction of your civilisation. Schlaketizzyonnymazzim. Pardon me, my translator podule seems to be malfuncfuncfunckukdfowegyfgsdyioyuefh ... Duracell ...fhrhfjkdgvfhfiouhwdcklsdjfhsdlfsdf... ack to the shop. I have very little time. Here are the three warnings you must heed to avoid the destruction of your civilisation. Sackittomeg. fhweruifhkwwyerguiphiwe, fhwuiefrhuiowe. Secondly, Doctor David Owendfweuqif, rhuioghfa, sfgyfasdfgasdklh2djiolarge bucket of manure. And thirdly, beware the one who calls himself Princess Diana. Farewell, and may your lives be weruif3rhfuibklvqbnefipuqrefhwjklasdjklsdjklucking hell!
- This trope can be invoked if you are about to explain something about the Candle Jack trope, like how it's very important to nev
- This trope accidentally a Memetic Mutation.
- In the radio adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a Grebulon ship (which is on an exceptionally long-haul flight across the galaxy and whose crewmembers are in stasis) suffers this with their orders after an asteroid ripped through their ship which destroyed the system which held their identites and their mission plan. The only instructions they end up with are to land a safe distance from something and monitor it.
- This image.