Shrug of God

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No bloody clue anno 969.jpg

Alan Schneider: Who or what is "Godot"?

Samuel Beckett: If I knew, I would have said so in the play.
interview before the first American production of Waiting for Godot'

Joy of joys, the authors of your favorite series are answering the fan's questions! Now's your chance to finally get some closure on pressing continuity issues! So you walk up and ask, "Was Bob really a robot?"

Their answers? "I dunno." "No comment."

Congratulations. Instead of an answer, you just got the Shrug of God.

Before you get angry at them for being evasive, remember that they may have a reason for their ambiguity. Maybe:

  1. It's an ongoing series, and the question will be answered in an upcoming episode.
  2. It's an ongoing series, and while there are no immediate plans to answer the question in an upcoming episode, the author wants to leave their options open for addressing it at some point in the future.
  3. The series isn't running at the moment, but could be continued or spun off from in the future, and the author wants to leave their options open.
  4. The plot point in question was supposed to be ambiguous or senseless. The fans are supposed to come up with their own answers. Sheesh.
  5. The possible answers to the question have sparked much debate amongst the fandom, and the author realizes that coming down on either side will provoke a backlash.
  6. The question is about some detail completely tangential to the story, which the author had never considered. Sure, it would be cool if the author would just make up answers on the spot to questions about supporting character #23's favorite pizza topping, but you can hardly blame the author who doesn't.
  7. The creator thinks ambiguity feels realistic; after all, Real Life isn't perfectly neat and organized with no mysteries.
  8. The creators firmly believe in the Death of the Author theory and don't feel their interpretations are any more valid than anyone else's.
  9. The writer honestly doesn't remember anymore what he was thinking when he wrote that particular bit.
  10. The question is (and it frequently is), "So what were Alice and Bob really doing while off-camera after that UST-filled scene?", and the writer can't answer truthfully without Moral Guardians (or worse, shippers) screaming for their head on the chopping block.
  11. The writer is just making it up as they go and honestly has no more idea what's going on than any of the viewers.
  12. The writer actually dislikes meticulous Fan Wank and its older brother, overzealous, full-time, academic literary analysis, whether or not it is related to his works.
  13. The writer is trying to enforce a Fanwork Ban and thinks the information would be more useful to fanfic authors than to anyone else.
  14. The question has religious implications that the authors would really rather avoid. ("Does God actually exist in this setting?", for example.)
  15. It's funnier that way.
  16. It's scarier that way.
  17. The writers just like being contrary and watching their fans squirm.

Not to be confused with Flip-Flop of God, where the author has a definite answer which has changed over time.

Contrast with the Hand Wave, and "A Wizard Did It", which are given in response to questions about Plot Holes or the workings of a story's Phlebotinum. In contrast, the Shrug Of God is given in response to more mundane questions: questions that should have a simple, straightforward answer. Don't mistake it with Sure Why Not which, while it may come with a shrug from the creator, is quite different.

In other words, if the question is "How does this work?" and the answer is "Beats me," then it's a Hand Wave. If the question is "What happened?" and the answer is "Beats me", it's the Shrug Of God. If the answer is "Magic" then changed later on to "Science", it's Flip-Flop of God.

When the author insists on quashing a theory, see Jossed, which is the opposite. When the author explains but in supplementary material see All There in the Manual. For those stories that are deliberately ambiguous, see No Ending and Riddle for the Ages.

In lieu of a definitive Word of God, someone connected to the production may chime in with the Word of Saint Paul, or anyone with sufficient credibility may offer up the Word of Dante.

The inverse of Ascended Fanon. Compare Noodle Incident. See also The Walrus Was Paul, Loose Canon.

See also Bellisario's Maxim and the MST3K Mantra.

Not to be confused with Atlas Shrugged, which, while sometimes confusing, doesn't have a lot of these.

Now comes with didactic audio-visual summary!

Examples of Shrug of God include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • When asked if Spike of Cowboy Bebop actually died, Shinichiro Watanabe said he didn't know and jokingly said there could be a sequel. It's anyone's guess whether it's for the fourth, fifth, or both reasons.
    • By contrast, Watanabe has also answered questions asked by those who seemed to assume Spike must be dead with something to the effect of "Did you see him die? I didn't, he seemed like he was seriously lacking some sleep."
  • It's easier to pull out the tongue of a live lion than it is to get a straight answer on Revolutionary Girl Utena symbolism from Kunihiko Ikuhara. "Miki keeps timing things because his watch contains the secret of the universe".
    • "I wanted to turn a cute girl into a car".
  • The people from Seven Arcs will answer anything you ask about Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha... unless if it's "Are Nanoha and Fate in love with each other?", then they go all coy and skirt around the question.
  • Hideaki Anno is brilliant at this. He directed Neon Genesis Evangelion, and completely refuses to explain anything regarding the last two episodes.
    • The mantra "I don't know. Fan Wank something" (pictured above)tends to pop up along with a picture of Anno, whenever the fandom discuss the more ambiguous parts of the series.
  • In the interviews for Death Note How to Read 13, Ohba and Obata left the answers to several questions (mainly about the ending) for the reader to decide.

"Death Note is about readers coming to their own conclusions. Sorry."

    • Also going for the numbers over heads which could tell how long that person had to live, but only Shinigami understood. It was said there was a complicated math equation, but it was forgotten.
  • Yoshiyuki "(no longer) Kill'Em All" Tomino is perhaps the granddaddy of shrugging Gods. On many oft questioned significant story elements, particularly dealing with the endings to his many series, he steadfastly refuses to give answers, as he truly does want the people watching the show to create their own idea of how the story ended. He wasn't likely thinking of Fan Fiction, but you still won't get straight answers from him as to Amuro and Char's fate in Char's Counterattack, or whether Loran Cehack and his eventual partner are in a married kind of love or if it's a caregiver/friend thing.
  • Yoshitoshi ABe won't answer many questions about Haibane Renmei because he wants people to draw their own conclusions and make their own interpretations about the series.
  • Akira Toriyama is particularly bad at this, to the point where a recurring Dragon Ball character simply disappears and his only explanation was that he forgot about her.
  • The makers of Noir keep very quiet about what the two gunshots at the end mean, so the fans are still in the dark about the important question whether the main characters live or not.
  • Rumiko Takahashi's famous reply to being asked (probably not for the first time that day) whether or not Ranma ½ could get pregnant in female form: "I don't think about such things, and neither should you."
    • In fan circles, a "pregnant Ranma" is something that is better left unanswered. The Other Wiki once had an article on the phrase, but it's no longer up. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, a snapshot of that page is here.
    • Doesn't stop a multitude of fanfics about it, of course. And even more about her getting a period.
  • When asked if the ending of Code Geass was meant to be happy or sad, director and co-creator Goro Taniguchi's response was "Decide for yourself." Though rather than a shrug, this may simply be him acknowledging that everyone has a different opinion and not trying to force his beliefs upon the fanbase.
    • In regards to Lelouch's apparent death at the end, however, this trope was averted; in several post-series interview, the staff and cast say he's really dead. Still, the official website had claimed that Nunnally died during the Tokyo disaster in order to keep her eventual return surprising and Sunrise itself has shown that they might well prefer to see fans like us duke it out...at least until a sequel is made and the question is finally answered once and for all.
      • The exact phrasing was something along the lines of " [His (Lelouch's) death] was the price he had to pay for a peaceful world." And, depending on your interpretation, that can still be taken to mean anything.
  • Eiichiro Oda, creator of One Piece, usually answers everything straight, except for a few things; As open as he is, even he has dodged the occasional question, such as what Shanks and Gold Roger's bounties are, and who would win in a fight between Zoro and Sanji.
  • The creator of the Slayers novels, Hajime Kanzaka, is infuriatingly bad at this, and unlike the other examples on this page, it's often unintentional when he flubs his facts in interviews. Just go read one; half of his responses end in "I think."
  • Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of Naruto, isn't even sure what gender Fu, the Seven-Tailed Horned Beetle jinchūriki, is (was?).
  • Naoko Takeuchi, creator of Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon fame has said this of the inquiry as to who Sailor Cosmos really is: "It's complicated". A fan debate has risen from the comment that she is "the ultimate form of Sailor Moon" and her connection to Usagi.
  • The mangaka of Soul Eater has been asked countless times by fans "What is Crona's gender?" His answer was basically "Don't know, don't care."
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross franchise main man Shōji Kawamori explains nothing. He gets worse about it with each new series.
    • Macross Plus? Wait, which version actually happened? Movie Edition or OVA Edition? Yes.
    • Macross 7? What? You thought the Love Triangle should have been resolved? Well I don't know if it was.
    • Macross Zero? Just what the hell was that ending? No one knows.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia: When asked what gender New Zealand was, creator Himaruya had the character reply "Which do you think I am?" The series has made use of gender confusion for running jokes before, so it's very possible he's just setting another one up.
    • Also, Himaruya tends to avoid directly answering questions as to whether or not Germany is really the Holy Roman Empire.
  • Kotetsu T. Kaburagi's age appears to be something that will always remain a mystery for Tiger and Bunny fans. First it was 37. Then it was somewhere between 32 and 36. Then 39. Finally, Ozaki said his age is something that has been left up to the viewers to determine...
  • The translated guidebook interviews of Puella Magi Madoka Magica reveal that writer Gen Urobuchi didn't care about giving families to anyone other than Madoka, leaving Homura's family situation very ambiguous. It's completely unknown if she lives by herself or not.
    • He also left the design of the witches to Gekidan InuCurry, meaning that he's probably not the person to ask if you wanted to know what sort of Magical Girls they were.
    • Urobuchi has invoked Death of the Author when it comes to The Stinger, saying it's fine for fans to create their own interpretations.
      • In another interview, he has stated he has no idea where the wings came from, being added by the aforementioned InuCurry. He then said in that same interview that additions from the animation staff made it easier for him to write future stories, suggesting that an answer may be coming.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Fans will never stop asking about the newly formed multiverse, or when Bart Allen and/or Superboy will come Back from the Dead.
    • Of course, the real answer to the Superboy question is "About six months after the Siegel lawsuit is settled."
    • And now that both did, that question is settled.
  • Bill Willingham is nigh infamous for this. "Keep reading" should simply be emblazoned across his messageboard.
  • Devin Grayson, writer of Nightwing #93 where the title character is implied to have been raped by a female cohort during a Heroic BSOD, evaded the question when asked to confirm what happened beyond it being "nonconsensual". This is an irritating example, because the script for the issue does directly say that he was being raped. (This may have something to do with the female cohort in question being suspected by many of being her Author Avatar/Mary Sue.)
  • When it comes to Star Wars, John Jackson Miller, the writer of the Knights of the Old Republic comics, was practically this trope personified throughout the series' run, although it was almost always for the first reason. He refused to confirm various future untwists, one of which was confirmed in a reference book before it got anywhere close to being confirmed in the comic itself. And when asked about "the Rohlan/Demagol thing", namely the theory that "Rohlan" has been Demagol in disguise since issue 14, he said this:

"The Rohlan/Demagol Thing is a fusion jazz act that worked many of the clubs on Mandalore until a dispute over a recording contract broke up the duo. However, their early recordings remain popular and one was recently used as the background music for a series of Holofeed apparel commercials."

  • The writers of the Disney Ducks Comic Universe seem adamant against revealing anything about the origins of all these kids running around with no parents (Donald's nephews, Daisy's nieces, Goldie's granddaughter...) Since acting like you're hiding something leads others to believe you have something to hide, fans are left to assume the worst.
    • For the most part, at least - Don Rosa introduced both Donald Duck's mother and sister and Scrooge's parents, and Scrooge has two sisters, a brother and a half-brother making regular appearances. His mother got around.
      • It should be noted that the said brother and half-brother don't exist in the same continuity as the two sisters. There are different interpretations in the absence of actual canon, even by the current writers.
  • Don Rosa can neither confirm nor deny "what happened that night" in The Prisoner of White Agony Creek (Chapter 8B of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck), asserting it's "for each of us duck fans to imagine in our own minds. I have my own idea, but after all, this is a Disney comic!"
  • Leaving aside one storyline that everyone seems to be ignoring, The Joker has never had any backstory that was not told by the Joker himself. In The Killing Joke, a backstory is told which initially appears to be definitive, but the Joker later says, "Something like that happened to me. I'm not quite sure what it was. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another. If I'm going to have a past, I'd rather it be multiple choice." His Pre Crisis backstory of having previously been a gang leader called the Red Hood has mostly been maintained (Depending on the Writer), but the backstory of the man who became the Red Hood has never been independently revealed.
  • After he took over the Archie Comics Sonic the Hedgehog comic, Ian Flynn took this attitude with the Word of Gay the previous writer gave for Rotor Walrus, neither confirming nor denying it and eventually calling the whole thing "irrelevant".
  • In Giant-Sized X-Men, there's a little blurb on the side of one panel explaining that Scott Summers' eye beams are kept in check by ruby quartz glasses. How does ruby quartz keep them back? Well, they'll tell you when they think of something.
    • The ruby quartz thing was established back in the 60's. The doctor that examined Cyclops himself basically said "I don't know why ruby quartz works. It just does."


Fan Works[edit | hide]

I don't know anything any more than you do. Those two characters I never named? I don't know who they are. Why do you think I never named them?

  • In the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha fanfic, MGLN Crisis, Fate's familiar, Arf sacrifices herself, but is brought back later while struggling to remember much of her life before. The author leaves it open as to whether she came back, or was recreated with her memories intact.
  • The author behind Renegade frequently shrugs when someone in a discussion thread asks for details, like how GDI powerplants work or the yields for prototype ion cannons being developed by other species. He alternates between non-sequiters, Mathematicians Answers, ambiguous images of a smirking David Xanatos, or just outright saying something along the lines of "Really, I don't know because that's irrelevant to the story anyway."


Film[edit | hide]

  • The Joker in The Dark Knight tells two entirely different stories as to how he got those scars (and started to tell a third), all of which are probably lies. Christopher Nolan not only didn't comment on them, he said Joker has no backstory at all. This is in keeping with the comics.
  • The contents of the suitcase from Pulp Fiction are arguably an example. It was originally supposed to be diamonds, but then Tarantino changed his mind and said it's basically supposed to be "whatever seems most valuable to the viewer and can fit in a suitcase". He's regretted putting the yellow glow in the briefcase, because it seems to be a clue to a question that never had an answer.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson often responds with these when asked about the meaning of different things in Magnolia, claiming he doesn't remember what he was thinking at the time.
  • "If you understood 2001 completely, we failed. We wanted to raise more questions than we answered." -- Arthur C. Clarke
  • Anything by David Lynch. Lynch is so adamant about leaving his work open to interpretation that he won't even explain it to his actors. So, don't bother asking them, either. Although, Naomi Watts did give an insightful comment regarding Mulholland Drive: something to the effect that when a person is dreaming, they create every person, event, and object in that dream. This is why Lynch fandom obsesses over details such as room decorations. They know that Lynch, with the detail-orientedness of the painter he is, will have a meaning for every character and object in his characters' imaginary worlds, and that he uses these meanings to advance his story in place of a traditional plot.
  • In response to questions of whether or not the Human Project really existed and if they were able to create a cure to the mass infertility after the ending of Children of Men, the staff merely responded that the answer depended wholly on where you lie on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
  • The Coen Brothers refuse to answer any questions regarding Barton Fink, and never talk about the film on their own. Bringing it up to them, famously, will usually put them in fits of stifled laughter.
  • John Carpenter and Kurt Russell come to the conclusion that some of the issues in The Thing may be either best left unsolved, or are unsolvable (and that thinking about some of them too hard may drive a person insane, due to there being no knowable solution), during the commentary for the DVD. Carpenter once told a fan that she was supposed to use her imagination and decide an ending for herself. The fan griped, "Oh, I hate that."
  • Invoked by Clint Eastwood. He had always intended that the mysterious stranger in High Plains Drifter was the murdered sheriff's brother, but he liked the fan theories about who or what he was so much that he went on to make Pale Rider and deliberately avoid any clues as to the preacher's true identity.
  • The entire plot of the French film La Moustache is uncertain, according to the scriptwriter / director. Basically, the main question is whether the main character's reality keeps changing and he's the only one who remembers the way things used to be, or whether he's simply insane, with the second question being which scenes are "real" and which are hallucinations. The writer / director has admitted that he didn't even bother coming up with answers to any of that—he just had an idea and filmed it.
  • Tim Allen's character in Galaxy Quest does this for his in-universe TV show.
  • Christopher Nolan hasn't had much to say about various interpretations of Inception since its release, but costume designer Jeffrey Kurland and actor Dileep Rao (Yusuf) have both weighed in on their views of the ending. Nolan in general doesn't comment too directly to fan theories and canon. In fact, he's admitted that he's highly amused that people keep constantly asking him questions about the ending even though he has no intention of answering them.
  • In the ending of Memento, Was Teddy lying? or telling the truth?. Christopher Nolan has never said either way, and more confusingly, the DVD commentary for the movie actually has three endings, one that says one version is true, another that says another version is true, and a third that does not say either way.
  • Total Recall. Are the events in the movie all just part of Quaid's Ego Trip, or is it real? The director has stated that both interpretations of the film fit the facts, and refuses to say which is the truth.
  • In the commentary for Zardoz, John Boorman, who produced, directed and wrote this Mind Screw of a movie, admits he has no clue what's going on or what he was thinking (or most likely, ingesting) at different points.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, it's not clear what happened to Tai Lung at the end. Did he die? Was he seriously incapacitated and sent back to prison? Was he teleported to another part of the world? Well, if you listen to the commentary by the directors... They don't know either.
  • Between The Muppets Take Manhattan and The Muppets The Henson Company/Muppet Studios refused to comment about whether Kermit and Piggy were actually married at the end of Manhattan. The characters commented about it all the time; they just disagreed. The facts are these:
  1. The Reverend Dr Cyril Jenkins, who played the minister, was indeed a real minister.
  2. When interviewed subsequently, Kermit always insisted that they weren't really married; it was just a movie.
  3. When interviewed subsequently, Piggy would coyly say that Kermit preferred to keep their privacy.

So there's sufficient leeway for any explanation: having a real minister doesn't automatically make it a real marriage; even if Piggy had all the documentation set up, Kermit could get a decree nisi if it was under false pretences; or maybe they really are married. The Muppets strongly implies the third one, but they subsequently split up.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Daniel Handler, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events, is this trope incarnate. Because he uses a pseudonym (Lemony Snicket), he can pass it off as an excuse not to say anything about his work in public appearances, since Lemony's the one with the answers and he's just an "humble representative." Since the series ended with a Kudzu Plot, many mysteries unsolved and loose ends, it's particularly jarring.
  • Of the famously ambiguous scene in the Marabar caves in A Passage to India, E.M Forster said, "In the cave it is either a man, or the supernatural, or an illusion. If I say, it becomes whatever the answer a different book. And even if I know! My writing mind is therefore a blur here, i.e, I will it to remain a blur."
  • When asked whether Lyra and Will from His Dark Materials had become lovers at twelve or thirteen or however old they are, Philip Pullman said something like, "I wasn't going to look and neither should anyone else." Pullman also has no answer as to why a few people in Lyra's world have daemons that are their own sex, or when exactly the daemon appears - during birth or after.
    • He had a Sure Why Not moment, though, when someone asked if a same-sexed daemon meant the person was gay. He said he'd never thought of that and it was as good an explanation as any. He also said it could mean second sight or something.
  • The most notorious mystery in the Wheel of Time series is: Who killed Asmodean? Every time Robert Jordan was asked, he refused to answer, assuring the readers that they should have figured it out already (although this is not clear at all).
  • When asked whether the Lord Ruler had used hemalurgy on himself, Brandon Sanderson said he was planning to write more about him in the future and handed out a RAFO card.
  • J. K. Rowling used to do this a great deal before all the Harry Potter books were released, but most of the questions she didn't answer would have spoiled the later books, so she had to be very careful with what she said about them, and in some cases, she worried about seemingly innocuous questions where even refusing to reveal the answer could spoil the surprise, e.g. if someone were to ask what Dumbledore's wand was made of. Fortunately, no one did.
    • She also refused to reveal the identities of the Official Couples for years for fear of fan backlash (because Pottershipping is Serious Business).
    • The Shrug has also been applied to the entire chapter "King's Cross", which, according to Jo, could be interpreted as reality or simply "Reality inside Harry's head"- but why on Earth should that mean it was not real?
    • She never did say what that spell was that Dumbledore was trying to cast on Voldemort during their duel that made Voldy's eyes narrow suspiciously. And now we may very well never find out.
      • That had little to do with the actual spell, but Voldemort was beginning to realize Dumbledore wasn't trying to kill him, so Dumbledore must have known something was up.
    • She will also never reveal how far Dumbledore and Grindewald's relationship went - were they ever an actual couple? or what on Earth did Aberforth do with that goat. She is waiting for the Development Hell encyclopedia to reveal what exactly Voldemort did to get his rudimentary body before the beginning of Goblet (this because it horrified her editor when Jo told her).
    • Rowling has also gone back and forth with both her opinion over the Harry/Hermione pairing. One minute she says it could've gone one way or another and the next she states Harry and Hermione are completely incompatible.
      • Of course, it could well be both. It's not like being completely incompatible necessarily stops people from trying anyway.
      • As of early 2014, she seems to have settled on regret that she didn't pair Harry and Hermione up, crediting the decision to marry Ron and Hermione off to an unspecified "wish fulfillment".
  • In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne is usually an omniscient narrator, knowing the deeds, words, and innermost thoughts and feelings of many different characters. But at one point, his omniscience falters, and he says that one woman is rumored to be a witch, without confirming whether she is or isn't.
    • Well, if she isn't, she sure does use a lot of weird metaphors. She even invites Hester into the forest to dance with The Devil.
  • Tom Bombadil from Lord of the Rings. To a reader that asked him who or what he really was, JRR Tolkien wrote:

Even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).

    • He did, however, go on record as saying it is not God, even if some evidence pointed to it. (Indeed, some of his co-religionists argued the "He is" line about Tom was blasphemous for being too similar.)
    • It is also never revealed whether or not Shelob died of the wounds Sam inflicted on her.
  • This is the entire point of the story The Lady or the Tiger? by Frank Stockton, as well as its sequel, The Discourager of Hesitancy. Stockton was once at a party where, in an attempt to get a straight answer out of him, the host(s) served two kinds of ice cream: one in the shape of a lady, the other in the shape of a tiger. They asked which he would prefer. Stockton said, "I'll have a bit of both."
  • In The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, the murder of Owen Taylor is never explained. When the book was originally being filmed, the director asked Chandler who killed Taylor; Chandler said that he didn't know either, so it was left unexplained in the movie as well.
    • Legend suggests that the lack of a solution was an error on Chandler's part, which he acknowledged in during the above conversation. He just forgot to tie that detail up.
    • Legend may be overstating the case, though: The evidence in the book does wind up pointing in a specific direction, it's just never pinned down with a definitive proof.
  • George R.R. Martin is very fond of doing this, either because he hasn't thought out the details of a particular question, or because it's related to future events in the series. The most common shrug is the one that comes after any question about Jon Snow's parentage in A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • One early Discworld book contains a statement by Terry Pratchett that there is no map of the Disc, because "you can't map a sense of humor." Then he made one anyway.
    • However, the map was supposedly written by the very CMOT Dibbler itself. That alone should raise questions of accuracy.
    • And he's also said the Disc has alternate pasts. God only knows which one the map is showing.
    • In one of his forewords he said that the book contained no map but readers should feel free to draw one if they wanted to. A reader named Stephen Briggs took him at his word, which is how the various Discworld maps ended up being drawn.
    • It should also be mentioned that Pratchett did say continents are found and lost on even the best-run worlds, so it's possible that the Disc itself changes enough to make maps of it a futile measure at best.
  • Ciaphas Cain--HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!--was originally inspired by the idea of a Flashman Expy. However, the (in-story) editor of his memoirs has said that he doesn't give himself enough credit. Sandy Mitchell admits to not knowing himself whether Cain deserves more credit than he is prepared to give himself.
  • In the prologue of Margaret Craven's I Heard An Owl Call My Name, a doctor explains to a bishop that a newly ordained priest is terminally ill: a few active years left, then a few as an invalid. The priest dies during the novel, in an accident. Craven has said she doesn't know what he had.
  • An interviewer asked W. M. Thackeray if Becky kills Jos in Vanity Fair. Thackeray cheerfully admitted that he hadn't a clue.
    • Though one of Thackeray's own illustrations, not included in every edition of the novel, these days, shows Becky hiding behind a curtain, holding what appears to be a bottle of poison.
  • Lois Lowry has refused to explain the Gainax Ending of The Giver. The two main schools of thought are that Jonas escapes or that the final vision is a Dying Dream as he freezes to death. The sequels, however, imply that he survives.
    • This was upgraded to Word of God at author Q&A of the 2009 National Book Festival in Washington, DC. After asking if anyone had any questions, Lowry added, "Jonas is alive, by the way. You don't have to ask that one."
    • Considering that Jonas is alive and an adult in The Giver's companion book Messenger this should come as no shock to anyone who's read all three books.
  • When Gregory Maguire is asked about Glinda and Elphaba's relationship in Wicked he says that there is 'something going on' between them, but refuses to state what.
  • Glen Cook, in an interview concerning his series The Instrumentalities of the Night, was asked how certain character and place names should be pronounced. For example, the main character is named Else Tage. Is the final "e" in either or both names silent? His response was essentially that the reader had his blessing to pronounce all names any way that seemed to the reader to make sense.
  • When Victoria Holmes, author of Warrior Cats was asked if Hollyleaf was still alive she responded, "Do you think I'll tell you that?" And when asked about the plot of Yellowfang's Secret, she replied, "It will feature Yellowfang. There will be a secret."
  • Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files and Codex Alera series does book signings and fan events fairly frequently, and often reserves time for a Q&A section. However, when he is asked a question which he considers to be too spoilerific, he has developed a habit of saying "I'm not gonna tell you," in a singsong voice.
  • As the RPG for The Dresden Files is written by the same author as the books, much of the information vis a vis powers and current status of certain characters can likely be considered Word of God. But since it's also written in-character by Dresden and a friend of his, some things they just don't know, and those things are generally marked as "speculation" on their parts that might be true, or might be completely off base.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: You can contact FM on her website and ask her questions about her work and offer opinions, but don't be surprised if you get this response: "To answer your questions>>>>> I write what I do because I can. This is fiction. If you don't like my writing why did you continue to read the series? Oh, that's right, because they were entertaining. I rest my case. Characters are human just like the rest of us mortals. Again, this is fiction. I make it a point to never defend my writing because . . . I write fiction. Fiction is make believe, in other words, it's whatever the author wants to make it. Thank you for taking the time to write and offer your opinions and your insight. FM". Well, you have to respect a writer who gives this as a response!
  • Libba Bray does this with the Gemma Doyle trilogy. According to her, "It will be YOUR job to assign futures to Gemma and her friends, to imagine what roads they travel, what adventures they might have next, whether they find love and success and contentment, and if they do, to imagine what forms that happiness takes." A more specific example is when asked if Gemma and Kartik had sex in the realms, she said that it's up to interpretation.
  • David Weber's signature "Tum, te, tum, te, tum" non-answer anytime a type 1/2 comes up in the forums.
  • In So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, prior to giving Arthur an on-page sex life, Douglas Adams says many people have asked the questions "Did Arthur ever get anywhere with Trillian?" and "What happened after he met that Golofrinchian woman in The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy?" The answers turn out to be "Mind your own business" and "The book ended".
  • Throughout his life E.M.Forster refused to say what really happend to Adela (the herione of A Passage to India) in the Marabar caves he insisted it wasn't as important as the aftermath

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The stinger at the very end of the Doctor Who episode "Last of the Time Lords" has its official Shrug of God. It's apparently a generic Sequel Hook, no strings attached. Director's commentary is "It was in, it was out, it was in, it was out."
    • Ironically, it turned out to be Davies who picked up on the stinger for "The End of Time" (The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter makes it clear there was no long-term plan involved).
    • When asked whether the Eighth Doctor's revelation that he's half-human on his mother's side is still valid, Steven Moffat gave a response to the effect of, "Well, he certainly said that, didn't he?" And as Moffat's characters often say, "Rule one: The Doctor lies."
      • Moffat also openly endorses lying to the fans if it helps to keep the mystery of the story. A good percentage of questions levelled at him will be met with vague answers for a variety of reasons. Just the only reason you can't give for this is that he's making it up as he goes.
  • The producer of Life On Mars "encourages" multiple interpretations of the ending.
  • David Chase was very tight-lipped about the ambiguous ending of The Sopranos.
    • He eventually admitted it was for reason five. He simply couldn't have any kind of definitive finality without it being over-analyzed to death.
  • Cuse and Lindelof of Lost.
    • Well, in case enough wasn't said, there are occasional things fans want to know that the show runners don't consider interesting or important. Some they have mentioned in podcasts include how Kelvin got to the island and what happened to Sun's dog. At other times, they'll read the fan question, but avoid answering it, then comment on how they dodged the question (this usually means, "Yes, that's important, and will be revealed on the show, possibly soon.")
  • Reunion was planned such that each episode would take place in one year in the lives of six friends, covering the span from their high school graduation to their 20-year reunion. Tying the series together was the mystery of the murder of one of the friends. Unfortunately (at least for the show's few fans), it was cancelled with only nine episodes having been aired. When the show's creators were pressed in interviews for details on how the show would have played out, they admitted that they hadn't decided who the murderer was.
  • Gene Roddenberry and the characters themselves in Star Trek: The Original Series rather famously and elaborately shrugged when asked about the specifics of Kirk and Spock's relationship. Fanwank has ensued for the last forty years.
  • A deleted scene from Battlestar Galactica Reimagined features Helo confessing to Adama that he was responsible for stopping the humans' chance to wipe out the Cylons with a virus. Adama's knowledge or lack thereof is a pretty significant part of the relationship between the two characters, yet Ronald D. Moore has never given an answer on whether the scene should be considered to have actually "happened".
    • Then again, this has been Moore's general response to just about every extra-canonical theory thrown his way with the lone exception of the "Starbuck's dad is Daniel/Number Seven" theory. That's the only thing he's come out an acknowledged was an outright Ass Pull because the writers had fraked up the Cylon model numbering system and needed to explain their way out of the logic trap.
  • Mostly averted by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, who was among the first TV show producers to consistently interact with fans and answer any of their questions, with the exception of things that would spoil future plot points; on some occasions, he even flat-out lied to avoid spoilers. This was made possible due to his having planned out in advance not only the entire five year run of the series, but the thousand years before and after that period. However, there are still some plot points he refuses to explain, in case he gets a chance to use them in a spin-off. A case in point is Delenn's toast to the disgraced Lennier in the series finale among toasts to the dead; all we get on the commentary is "That's a very sad story, and maybe I'll tell it someday."
  • It seems someone [1] has convinced Morena Baccarin to avoid answering any questions on Inara Serra's preoccupation with aging. Not trying to start a rumor or anything...
    • Also, remember in the pilot episode, when it looks like the Reavers might board the ship, and Inara has a syringe in her hand? All Joss will say is that it was not a suicide shot.
    • Also on the topic of Joss, he was asked at Comic-Con who would win a fight between Buffy Summers and River Tam. He proceeded to state the pros of each one and then trailed off.
      • On Cambridge Forum, though, he had the audience vote on it. River won.
      • Please, it is obvious who the winner of this fight would be: the viewing public!
    • According to Morena, Inara was in fact dying of some sort of illness. It seems none of the cast knew what it was or why (presumably the series was canceled before they could explore that any more).
  • The staff writers who maintain the Heroes blog "Behind the Eclipse" do this a lot. One shrug that inspired particular fan rage was when they were asked how Nathan Petrelli came back to life after being pronounced dead in the Season 3 premiere, and the answer was, "He just got lucky. People can survive shootings all the time. It happens."
  • On Leverage creator John Rogers' blog, a fan asked if antagonist Sterling joining Interpol meant that he would have an in-universe TV show about his crimefighting with a British actor playing him ("I'm thinking Eccleston"). The response: "Consider it canon."
  • Dan Schneider, the creator of iCarly follows this trope to a fault, with years worth of examples of him following Type 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 11, 15 and 17. Mostly because of Shipping. Ask him anything about shipping, it'll be a miracle if you get a straight answer.
  • In the universe of Warehouse13, King Arthur did indeed exist and pull a sword from a stone (using an artifact, of course). Artie explicitly says, however, that Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table were legends. When asked about the Holy Grail, however, he refused to comment.
  • Two pricing games on The Price Is Right (Check Game and Credit Card) have been "withdrawn". Although neither game has been played in years, the staff has not officially declared either game retired — but then again, they're also making no claims of either game coming back. So as far as they're concerned, both games may or may not be retired.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Bobbie Gentry has stated she doesn't know why Billie Joe McCallister jumped off the Tallahassee bridge, the central mystery of her hit single "Ode to Billie Joe."
  • Paul Simon's song "Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard" contains the line "What your momma saw/it was against the law". Simon has claimed he has no idea what it was the momma saw, other than it was probably something sexual.
  • The straightest answer to the question "What does "American Pie" mean?" that anyone has gotten out of Don McLean is "It means I never have to work again." More seriously, he claims "songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence." and "They’re beyond analysis. They’re poetry."
    • Not that the lyrics are all that obscure—the Day the Music Died is the plane crash of 3 Feb 1959 ("February made me shiver") which killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.
      • "the Jester on the sidelines in a cast" -- Bob Dylan, whose leg was in plaster when the song was written
      • "sergeants played a marching tune" -- The Beatles (a reference to Sgt Pepper's)
      • "And as I watched him on the stage/ my hands were clenched in fists of rage/ No angel born in hell/ Could break that Satan's spell/ And as the flames climbed high into the night" --The Rolling Stones' infamous Altamont concert, security courtesy of the Hells Angels.
      • "I met a girl who sang the blues/ And I asked her for some happy news/ But she just smiled and turned away"—Almost certainly Janis Joplin, OD'd October 4, 1970.
      • "The three men I admire most/ The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost/ They caught the last train for the coast"—The Big Bopper was the oldest, and the only father; the son is Ritchie Valens, the youngest; and Holly is the Hol[l]y Ghost.
      • Complete annotated lyrics here; most of the allusions are obvious once explained; the ones that are only Wild Mass Guessing are marked.
  • Bob Dylan, upon being asked what his songs are about, replied "Some are about three minutes, some are about five minutes".
  • Dragon Force (video game) tends to take this approach to questions about their songs' meanings. Depending on which member you ask, the answer will lie somewhere between "It's more fun if you interpret them for yourself" and "They don't mean anything".
  • Tom Lehrer has said that the line in "My Home Town" that he "censors" ("That fellow was no fool/Who taught our Sunday school/And neither was our kindly Parson Brown/...['I guess I'd better leave this line out just to be on the safe side' or 'We're recording tonight so I'll have to leave this line out']/In my home town") did not actually exist; he simply could not think of a line that was funnier than saying that he wasn't allowed to say it. Presumably either Parson Brown or the Sunday school teacher (or both) did something...
  • What does WASP's name stand for? In one interview, Blackie Lawless responded "We Ain't Sure, Pal." One of their early singles was released with the words "We Are Sick People" scratched into the innermost part of the vinyl. Which is true? We are still pondering...
  • Ric Ocasek of The Cars once said in an interview about his notoriously cryptic lyrics: "I'm not going to destroy your dream...the lyrics mean whatever you want them to mean. And I'll agree with you."
  • The Arcade Fire song "Neighborhood #2 (Power Out)", already kind of trippy, ends with the lines "Is it a dream, is it a lie? I think I'll let you decide."
  • "Girl" by Beck has a hard to decipher word in between "My" and "Girl" during the chorus. Is it Summer? Sun-eyed? Cyanide? In the lyric book it says "My ... girl".
  • A Japanology lecturer on the university of Vienna was asked to translate some J-Pop song lyrics into German for CD-releases in Germany and Austria. Upon asking the Pop-groups in question for an explanation of the intended meaning of the used Te-Form Verbs in the songs (Te-Form Verbs can take on several meanings based on context), he got several Shrugs of God in a row, usually accompanied by something to the effect of "If you say so, that's probably what it means".
  • The meaning of the Eagles' "Hotel California" has remained ambiguous even after multiple band interviews on the subject. At best, the song is usually just said to be about "the 70s."
    • Something bout the rock star lifestyle, something about cocaine addiction, something about Satanism. Or live-action roleplaying. Or fad diets.
  • "People are always asking me what my lyrics mean. Well I say what any decent poet would say if you dared ask him to analyse his work: if you see it, darling, then it's there."- Freddie Mercury
  • Sound Horizon is built upon creating elaborate Rock Operas with complicated Jigsaw Puzzle Plots with ridiculous quantities of multi-lingual wordplay and then watching all the fans try to figure out what in the holy hell it means while refusing to explain any of it. The official statement is that Revo doesn't want to force one interpretation on the audience when Wild Mass Guessing is half the fun of being in the fandom. The fandom's stance is that their brainpain amuses him.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Calvin and Hobbes: What is Hobbes' true nature? A magical stuffed animal that comes to life when Calvin is around? A figment of Calvin's imagination? Bill Watterson isn't sure himself.
    • In the Tenth Anniversary Collection, Watterson would only state that Hobbes is a comment on the subjective nature of reality; Calvin sees him differently from everyone else.
    • This is reportedly the reason Watterson would not allow a stuffed toy Hobbes to be manufactured (that, and his loathing of merchandising). He felt it would answer the question as to whether or not Hobbes was just a stuffed toy.
    • Other interviewers have occasionally tried to trap Watterson with a Gotcha Question highlighting specific instances in the strip in which Hobbes does seem to be a) either completely real or b) either completely imaginary. For example this one where the interviewer asks how Hobbes could tie Calvin to a chair and then be discovered in that state by his father, who is not ordinarily able to see evidence of Hobbes being "alive." Watterson simply answered ambiguously that he liked the intellectual tension created by "two versions of reality that do not mix."
    • In the Tenth Anniversary Collection, Watterson states that "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie (like the 'Noodle Incident' I've referred to in several strips) is left to the reader's imagination, where it's sure to be more outrageous."
    • Readers will search in vain for any explanation of the rules to Calvin Ball... but that's really no accident. Watterson established clearly that you make up the rules of Calvin Ball as you go.
  • Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis says that he has never come up with a definite answer for what the crocodiles' accent ("Hullo, zeeba neighba") is supposed to be.
    • He did give an answer to that question. The Crocodiles are speaking "Crocese".


Radio[edit | hide]

"The answer to this is very simple. It was a joke. It had to be a number, an ordinary, smallish number, and I chose that one. Binary representations, base thirteen, Tibetan monks are all complete nonsense. I sat at my desk, stared into the garden and thought '42 will do' I typed it out. End of story."


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Many fans of the Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Eberron frequently ask questions such as "What happened to destroy Cyre and create the Mournland?" no matter how many times such things are said to explicitly be points of Canon Uncertainty And Doubt. The answer is deliberately left out, so DMs can provide their own and easily work those events into their own plotline.
    • Additionally, a similar question involving the Planescape campaign setting is one regarding the true nature of Sigil's ruler/guardian, the Lady of Pain. A straight answer has never been given, other than a novel hinting that she has ties to the Greek pantheon of gods. The most direct answer simply states that she was inspired by the title character of Algernon Swinburne's poem "Dolores".
      • Incidentally, unlike the Eberron scenario, which it's stated explicitly that it is the DMs call to provide an explanation for the various mysteries, Planescape encouraged DMs to leave such questions regarding the Lady of Pain and various other multiversal engimas deliberately unanswered, to maintain the setting's particular ethos.
    • Similarly, the nature and identity of Ravenloft's Dark Powers are usually kept mysterious.
      • While some fans reject the 3rd edition Ravenloft products, they did provide a satisfactory answer: the Dark Powers have no canonical true nature, and DMs should do whatever they want with no worries.
  • Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games (the creators of GURPS) has been known to answer obscure questions about his games with "Fnord." (A reference to the Illuminatus trilogy, which has often gotten Shout Outs in SJG products.)
    • Given the sensitive nature of the subject matter (religion) in the In Nomine roleplaying game from Steve Jackson Games, many topics are what the Line Editor officially refers to as matters of "Canon Doubt and Uncertainty". Each individual DM is supposed to come up with their own answers to such questions as 'Was Jesus Christ really the Son of God?', and the official game material has never and will never address the issue directly.
  • Warhammer 40,000: So, what's up with the two missing Primarchs? Word of God is, of course, "No comment."
    • Also, who the hell is Cipher and what is he up to?
    • This is essentially Games Workshop's company policy about canon.
  • Perhaps as a reaction to the increasingly unwieldy Metaplot of its predecessor, the New World of Darkness loves this, repeatedly emphasizing the Storyteller's opinion as the ultimate arbiter of what is canon and not.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • John Patrick Shanley won't reveal whether, in his play Doubt, the priest molested the children or not. The point of the play is the investigation. He has, however, noted that he has decided on an answer and told the actors playing Father Flynn, although nobody else.
  • W. S. Gilbert, when asked about whether or not Jack Point is dead (the libretto says that he "falls insensible") at the end of The Yeomen of the Guard, said: "The fate of Jack Point is in the hands of the audience, who may please themselves whether he lives or dies." (However, he was also reported as having said "Jack Point should die" when asked if it was all right to treat Point as dead.)
  • Samuel Beckett, when asked what, exactly, Waiting for Godot even meant responded "What do you think?" And then, on being given the interviewer's analysis, "Hmmm, interesting." And that is all.
    • Beckett did, however, deny a persistent piece of Fanon that persists in studies of the play. "If I meant Godot to be God, I would have simply called him God." Though, to complicate matters, at another point he did claim that his subconscious does things without him at times. All in all, "If I knew who Godot was, I would have said so in the play."
  • Henrik Ibsen's play Ghosts ends with one main character deciding whether or not to kill her son. Ibsen refused to state what she chose, saying it was too important of a question.
  • A lot of people have asked Stephen Sondheim what the giant's wife from the second act of Into the Woods represents in real life (global warming, AIDS, etc.). Sondheim's response: "To James [Lapine] and me, it is a giant. Enough said."

Toys[edit | hide]

  • Greg Farshtey, writer of most of the Bionicle media, occasionally does this in a very Deadpan Snarker -ish fashion.

Fan: This is a bit of a nitpick, but in Federation of Fear, Tren Krom is described as having yellow eyes. But in The Mutran Chronicles, and on his BS 01 entry, he is said to have little more than holes laid into his skull for eyes. Which one is the accurate description?
Greg: You're right. It is a nitpick.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • What is The Secret of Monkey Island©? answer: "Look behind you, a three-headed monkey!"
    • "Only LeChuck knows. And he's an evil insane nightmarish murderous revenge-obsessed undead horror, so good luck getting an honest answer out of him."
  • "Team Silent, Team Silent, which one of the endings to Silent Hill is canon?" "They're all canon." "Nyoro~n."
  • "Please, no more. It is 9:27pm, I'm trying to work on Banjo and you keep asking me questions about supporting characters in games I designed nearly 15 years ago."
  • The Final Fantasy XI dev team is frustratingly notorious for this. Every interview they have will always have at least one question with an ambiguous answer that's as vague as possible. Always. It's not so bad to want your MMO to have some mysteries, but trying to have your game as Guide Dang It as possible with things that hundreds of thousands of players haven't figured out for 4+ years is something else entirely.
    • The "you wish it was only Nintendo Hard" boss Absolute Virtue is featured in a developer-made video showing unimaginably vague "hints" for beating it. Every single frame of the video has been scrutinized and subjected to dizzying heights of Wild Mass Guessing. To this day, nobody knows what the developers were trying to convey.
      • It has been figured out that the developers were trying to show that matching AV's two hours with your own locks them. He remains unbeatable because the video didn't show/was unclear on how to stop him from spamming meteor and killing everyone once his health drops below a certain point.
    • When asked what the pop condition was for Almighty Apkallu (a monster who has only ever been seen a handful of times) they initially shrugged saying that they didn't remember that monster. Later they responded with the vague hints of "First of all, luck plays a big role in whether he appears or not" and "He doesn't like being left alone, and will wander off if no one is around to keep him company."
    • A similar issue currently exists in Final Fantasy VII regarding Sephiroth and Jenova's exact relationship (as in, which one was dominant). Although the Ultimania guide mentioned that Sephiroth was in control of Jenova, Dissidia 012's museum bio for Sephiroth, specifically the section detailing his appearance in Final Fantasy VII, stated that he, upon returning, was "an agent of Jenova's will", which would imply that Jenova was in fact the dominant one.
  • When asked how Kirby got his name, Masahiro Sakurai says he doesn't remember.
  • Bungie Studios, the creators of Halo and Marathon, deliberately dodge many questions by the fandom, because they prefer to let the fans answer the questions and come up with the theories themselves.
  • What happened 10 years ago, during the War? Why did the scientists come to the island? And what the hell is Balrog? These are just a few of the questions that all Cave Story fans wish to have answers to. Yet all Pixel-san says is "I leave it to the player's imagination".
    • On an interview about the Wii version though, he answered one of the questions: Balrog's design was based on soap.
  • Much like in the Cave Story example, the setting of Touhou Project is basically made of this trope. The creator has repeatedly mentioned he wants people to fill in the blanks themselves. Heck, even the manuals are, in universe, written by Unreliable Narrators who write based on hearsay, so not even the official books have much honest, set in stone Word of God. Of course, this only spurs the fans further.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic 2, it's strongly hinted at that Kreia is Arren Kae, Brianna's mother. If this is news to anyone, check out Scorchy's post here. Still, the writer Chris Avellone's response to a question on this was "Can't comment, but good catch. Sorry."
    • Anyone that's read MCAs Fallout Bibles would recognise "good catch" as his standard response to a coincidence or minor detail pointed out by a fan that he actually likes the implications of.
  • In the RPG Tales of the Abyss this is how the creators reacted to the question of whether the main character, Luke, survives or not. Cue endless debates on the subject.
  • Every single time Testuya Nomura is asked about when Kingdom Hearts 3 will be announced, it usually results in this. Like in this interview concerning Birth By Sleep:

Interviewer: Do you think people will want to replay the first title after clearing this one?
Nomura: Hmmm, I think there are a lot of puzzling elements, so maybe they'll want to play the next game... and there'll be a secret movie too.
Interviewer: The next game!? Do you mean "III"!?
Nomura: The next game will be the next game (laughs)

    • And on the subject of Kingdom Hearts, according to the Ultimania, Roxas "may or may not" have had Ventus's heart.
  • Half Life's writer, Marc Laidlaw, remains very careful not to make any crucial statements about some of the fuzzier parts of the series' continuity. He does not only hold this attitude towards the Gearbox expansions, but also towards Valve's games as well.
  • The Free Space series was never completed, and Volition have said perhaps two things about the story and where it was going to go, which actually raised more questions than they answered. Cue the Epileptic Trees.
    • In a much-anticipated 2011 interview with the fanbase (more than 10 years after the last game was released), lead writer Jason Scott did reveal a few details about what was planned for the future games. However, he did so in such a vague manner that he simply fuelled further speculation.
  • In regards to whether or not Adell's ears are pointed like other demons, the creators of Disgaea responded only that "there's nothing special about them." Nobody's quite sure if they meant that they're normal human ears or normal demon ears.
  • For several years, fans have always asked Valve how the entire Zombie Apocalypse started for the Left 4 Dead series, but an answer has yet to be produced since Valve wants fans to come up with their own theories instead of always being spoon fed information.
    • Fans are also demanding to know what happens to the Left 4 Dead 2 survivors after they are saved by the military at the end of The Parish campaign since the military was killing carriers of the virus and it was confirmed that the survivors are also carriers. Valve has yet to say anything on the subject.
  • An interview with one of the primary writers of Beyond Good and Evil gave fans an opportunity to ask their many tickling questions about the game. One, with regard to character names, was "What does 'Double H' stand for?" Answer? They don't know. It probably comes from his initials... maybe.
  • The EverQuest II developers are infamous for doing this. So much so, that not giving a straight answer one way or another has frustrated many a customer into cancelling their accounts because of the sheer unpredictability of where the game was heading in terms of both story and gameplay mechanics.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Tom Siddell of Gunnerkrigg Court is usually very helpful about providing answers, no matter how pointless or obscure. But when future plot points or very specific questions about numbers or lengths of time come up, Mr. Siddell proves a master of answering questions without actually answering the questions.

Fan: When exactly are our heroines' birthdays?
Tom: At some point during the year.

  • T Campbell is as notorious as Tom for answers like these, although usually responding to fans who should have known better. One noteworthy Shrug of God is that he refuses to reveal whether the Herman's Head storyline 20 2020 Pennies was a dream or an actual plane of existence—which wouldn't be so bad, except that he did say the versions of Penny and Aggie featured there were bisexual and lesbian, respectively.
  • Maritza Campos of CRFH is famous for answering fan questions with a smile and a "Maaaybe..."
  • Interestingly, Dave of Bob and George rarely answers questions about his own comic, more likely, someone on the BnG forum gets there first, leading to a huge discussion on the meaning of life, which Dave leaves alone (in most cases).
    • Any questions about plotholes are actually taboo in the BnG community.
      • That's because there are no plotholes. Even the ones you think you see, even the ones you know you see, are not plotholes.
  • City of Reality's author has deliberately left the ages of his Kid Heroes ambiguous, to avoid writing himself into any Plot Holes or Relationship Writing Fumbles.
  • Gaming Guardians creator Graveyard Greg often replied to such questions with his signature sinister laugh: Heh heh heh.
  • Last Res0rt runs into a lot of this; part of it is that since Rachel works a lot of stuff in advance, she KNOWS what's going to come out a few months later (and will refuse to comment), and part of is that early on, Rachel often said too MUCH in the forums or elsewhere, leading to the ruling that "If it's not in the comics or at least on the main website itself, it ain't canon. Don't trust it."
  • Since sex is never actually depicted in Out There, Monroe states in his blog that it's up to the reader to decide how far things go.

What I’ve tried to do with Out There is have it both ways. Whichever way you think it oughta be, you win. If you think that Miriam and Chuck should have had sex, and Araceli and Rod should have had sex, and Sherry and Steven must have had sex, then okay—they had sex. Everyone who you think should have had sex with whoever they should have had sex with, did. You just didn’t see it. If, on the other hand, it makes you happier to think that Miriam and Chuck made out a lot but stopped before things got too out of hand, then that’s cool too—there’s nothing in the strip that proves otherwise. Winners everywhere.

  • Rick and Becky have so much material prepared that they can answer almost any question you have about the series. Unfortunately, so much of the material will be important to the plot of a later story (often one that they won't even get to start working on for years), that the question isn't can they answer your particular question, but will they.
  • The author of I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space has explained that humans, including her, cannot understand the sixth sense provided by the aliens' antennae.
  • Chris Hastings, author of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has explained that he doesn't know how The Robster (a tricky lobster man) puts his suit on over his claws.
  • The Dreadful Christmas Special, in which Kit kills the grinch with an overdose of cheer, is confirmed as canon on the author's twitter. He does not know when or where it happens however.
  • Andrew Hussie is usually ready to answer questions about specific events within Homestuck, but there are several subjects which he simply doesn't care enough about to resolve. The details of the dead members of The Felt is the most persistently shrugged line of questioning. (He eventually answered it once they appeared in the story).
    • Some things previously shrugged:
      • Troll anatomy (usually questions about this are answered with jokes, or pointing out that the asker is asking about the genitalia of 13 year olds).
      • How Troll sex works ("Do they vomit their genetic material?" "Sure, that sounds weird enough").
      • Whether any given character is good or evil.
      • The nature of Skaia.
  • So far, the author of Drowtales has refused to answer any questions about the identity of the father of Mel'arnach and Kel'noz Val'Sarghress. This has led to lots of speculation among fans about who he might be, since the last time a question of parentage was met with a Shrug of God the eventually revealed answer surprised everyone.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • None of the editors on Orion's Arm will ever answer certain questions about certain setting elements. Are the Dawn Hunters real? Why did the previous galactic empires all up and disappear? "The last--" What did they find at the Hedrile? Where, exactly, does the Fargate lead? Which of the higher Archailects actually exist? Is the universe just another Bottle Universe? Are the Amalgamation Terragen or Xeno?
    • To be fair, this is in keeping with the setting; certain things, particularly those involving the Archailects themselves, are deemed to be ultimately impossible to explain in terms that we mere humans can grasp with our tiny organic brains.
  • The official policy of The Salvation War is that, as far as possible, everything that happens has some kind of rational, scientific explanation. In some cases, the divergence between the demands of mythology and what is scientifically plausible is so great that it cannot be bridged. To get around this (and to give the Angels and Daemons some hope of surviving the massed human firepower being thrown at them), it is stipulated that the laws of physics on Earth and in Heaven/Hell are slightly different. This results in the characters saying they have no idea why this thing is happening, so they're just going to accept that it does for now. This is, of course, the scientific method at work "we don't understand it but we'll study it until we do." Meanwhile, the engineering method of finding an empirical solution by trial and error is used to create a work-around. In some cases, these shrugs are actually puzzles that are solved later in the story line.
  • Many of the senior writers and editors of the SCP Foundation never give straight answers about the details and inner workings of the Foundation and the SCPs it contains. The stock reply to lore questions usually is to figure it out for yourself. Or that there is no canon:

Dr. Clef: At the end of the day, people can call it canon, non-cannon, brilliant, and stupid, and be right and wrong all at the same time. When dealing with the SCP, you have to understand that we took Canon out behind the barn and shot it in the head a long, long time ago.

  • Burnie Burns, the creator and writer of Red vs. Blue, is generally willing to clarify anything about the series. Ask him about Tex, though, and he instantly shuts up. He also enjoys leaving smaller plot threads hanging for the wild mass guessers in the forums.
  • Lanzer, admin of Gaia Online, does this a lot in the weekly open interview sessions.
  • afroakuma seems to do this with roughly half the questions he gets in the Vote Up a Campaign Setting discussion threads. More often than not, he appears to do it For the Evulz; certain questions have been noted by him to be unanswerable for valid(ish) reasons, though.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Supposedly Word of God says that Azula could eventually regain her sanity and/or redeem herself, but didn't say if she actually will. This was likely because a definite "yes" would feel cheap, but a definite "no" would seem rather harsh.
    • There's also the above quote, which was in response to asking Michael Dante DiMartino why he removed a scene in the Grand Finale of Zuko reuniting with his mother. They have since said that it's a story that needs to be told properly...
    • Before that, they gave a rather playful shrug when a fan asked about the name of the previous airbender Avatar who appeared in a flashback. Their answer was "Susan?" She was eventually revealed to be named Yangchen.
    • One of the storyboard artists did an unofficial sequel/side story (in webcomic format) which propounds that Azula does eventually regain at least some measure of sanity. No word on whether any of it is actually canon.
  • Glen Murakami of Teen Titans fame is (in)famous for not caring about the finer points that get the Fandom up in arms. The Shrug of God is the official answer to anything related to whether or not it's in continuity with the other DCAU cartoons, anything to do with the characters' origins or out-of-costume lives (most famously, which Robin it is), and pretty much anything not detailed onscreen. General fan consensus is that Teen Titans isn't part of the DCAU and Robin is Dick Grayson, but The Powers That Be have never answered yes or no, not considering these things to be important.
    • David Slack, a writer for the show, disagrees, having stated that the Robin we see is Dick Grayson.
    • Admittedly all evidence in the show clearly points to Robin being Dick Grayson. The relationship with Starfire, the scene with two trapeze artists falling to their doom when Raven mind searches him, and the fact that the series is based off the 80's incarnation of Teen Titans.
      • Also, "Larry," the impish Robin from another dimension, said his real name was Nosyarg Kcid or "Dick Grayson" backwards.
      • And he becoming Nightwing in an alternate future.
      • The comic book version of the show (called Teen Titans Go!), which continued past the show's end, later confirmed that this Robin was indeed Dick Grayson, as we see Robin without the mask for the first time, and Starfire refers to him as Dick.
  • Greg Weisman, writer of Gargoyles, can go into this territory. Admittedly, he's already revealed much of what would've (and may yet eventually) happen had the story been allowed to continue. So now fans wind up asking questions that get the simple answer of "I'm not going to answer that at this time" or some variant thereof. Man's gotta keep some secrets.
    • When ever asked about the color of a character that has yet appeared in the show or comics, Greg refuses to answer because he is color blind and needs help with the coloring choice of his characters.
  • Transformers Animated: After Starscream found out each of his clones was part of his personality, he asked his Opposite Gender Clone what she represented and she responded "Don't ask!" When someone put the same question to lead character designer Derrick J. Wyatt on an online Q&A session he responded "I try not to think about that one!" He also said that she has a name, but wouldn't say anything beyond it not being Susan, Dirge, Nightbird, Laserbeak, or Laserwave.
    • And her name was confirmed at Botcon 2009: Slipstream.
    • In a much different version of this, Marty Isenberg said they have no idea the significance of Professor Sumdac's name being "Cadmus" backwards as it was decided before they got involved.
    • More recently, Wyatt has refused to answer questions about how Sari's protoform appeared in Isaac's lab. If that story is going to be told, it's going to be in some form of new Animated fiction.
  • Bob Schooley, co-creator of Kim Possible, has stated at the fandom's most popular forum that there isn't one "right" answer to most of the fans' questions, as the series belongs to the fans to spin any way they want.
  • This was done by the creators of The Venture Brothers for a subplot that seemed to be unambiguous in canon. According to Doc Hammer, the writers still haven't decided if Myra is the boys' birth mother.
    • They've openly admitted that they don't plan anything, so chances are if it hasn't been written into an episode, they don't know the answers any more than the fans.
  • The creators of Phineas and Ferb claim that the title characters have no definitive age (despite being nine in the pilot), just that they are "less than fifteen." They did this after making seeing how well different age groups all identified with them.
    • Likewise they won't bother answering questions about Ferb's Missing Mom or Phineas's Disappeared Dad; they would rather fans just focus on the Flynn-Fletchers as a happy blended family. Fans speculate, however, that the episode "What Do It Do?" may have been meant to Joss the fan theory that Doofenshmirtz is Phineas' father, as he mentions having met Linda only once years before Phineas could have been born.
  • John Kricfalusi, creator of The Ren and Stimpy Show, apparently answered the question of whether Ren and Stimpy were gay with "I don't know, it's none of my business."
    • Of course, then Adult Party Cartoon made them out-and-out gay, but most people exposed to that show throw it out of continuity...
    • On the Adult Party Cartoon DVD, John K. states that Ren & Stimpy's sexuality varies from episode to episode. Hey, I'll buy it. The show ran on Negative Continuity from day one.
  • One question Family Guy fans wondered was whether the other Griffins could understand what Stewie was saying. When asked this question (on the early season DVDs), creator Seth MacFarlane replied, "Well, Brian can understand him." Later episodes have indicated that they do, in fact, understand him, they just disregard him.
  • The question of "Who is Mysterion?" from the South Park episode "The Coon". Trey Parker and Matt Stone flat-out stated that they don't know who Mysterion is, and that there is no specific character who they intended Mysterion to be. Fans continued to debate the issue and presented evidence backing up various theories, until the issue was finally revisited in the three-part "Coon And Friends" Trilogy. (In case you're wondering, it's Kenny.)
  • Edward Kay has been this way about a few aspects of Jimmy Two-Shoes, such as the characters' ages, the full extent of Lucius' powers, and if Jimmy and Heloise are getting together.
  • Lauren Faust, the producer of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, likes to occasionally answer questions about the show in her Deviant ART comments page. Several times, though, she has refused to answer questions, saying that she has an idea of the answer, but doesn't want to tie herself down to any particular position when a different answer might come up later as a plot point, and sometimes the process of writing produces more interesting answers than trying to figure it out ahead of time. Other times, she's mentioned that she simply doesn't have an answer because it's not really something she goes out of her way to think about.

Lauren: "We don't hammer logic that hard on this show."

    • Now that God Does Not Own This World, her responses have migrated to "My theory is X, but I don't know how the current show runners will handle that.".
  • In an old Simpsons magazine, an avid fan wrote a highly detailed analysis of the (then mostly unexplored) question of which state Springfield is in. After ultimately eliminating all 50 states, he asked Matt Groening for the answer. His response? "Springfield exists in a state of confusion, but mostly it's a state of mind."
    • Lampshaded in the movie, where Flanders has Bart up on a hill above Springfield, and shows him the four States that border Springfield: Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky, which is quite impossible geographically.
    • Also Lampshaded in the season 21 episode "The Bob Next Door," when Sideshow Bob kidnaps Bart and takes him to Five Corners to try to kill him legally using extraterritorial jurisdiction. The Springfield Police show up, but Bob simply hops into another state. Then the police departments from the other four states - Texas, Minnesota, California, and New Jersey - show up, bearing the appropriate accents and stereotypes. It would also be geographically impossible for those states to border each other; the joke is based on the fact that there is a city or town named Springfield in each of those states.
    • One commentary explains that Groening came up with the name under the impression that it was the most used city name in America, but later found out it's actually Riverside. This gives him an idea for an episode where the Simpsons move to one of those Riversides.
    • Upgraded to Word of God—after more than twenty years, Springfield has finally been revealed to be in the state of Oregon. YMMV on how wise a decision it was to make it official...