Voodoo Shark

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Zoidberg (underwater): My home, it burned down! How did this happen!?
Hermes: That's a very good question!
Bender (picking up his still-lit cigar from the underwater ruins): So that's where I left my cigar.
Hermes: That just raises further questions!

Futurama, "The Deep South"

The writers catch a particularly bad Plot Hole, but they leave it in because it is still critical to the story. The Voodoo Shark is the attempt to Hand Wave it rather than disrupt the story — except the Hand Wave itself is a Plot Hole. Bonus points if it makes the initial Plot Hole bigger.

Coined by Chuck Sonnenberg, the term refers to the novelization of Jaws the Revenge (a film not held in high regard). In the movie, the supposedly eponymous shark seeks out and attacks the living relatives and friends of Martin Brody. In the novel, a voodoo curse is used to explain away the idea that a shark understands the concept of revenge, and that it can somehow figure out where and when to find these people. What makes it the trope namer is that the writer doesn't bother to answer the question of why the voodoo curse was made in the first place, or any of the other countless questions that come to mind.

Similar to Dork Age but specific to a single story's plot device. Compare to Author's Saving Throw in that not only is it on a plot device level, and that the creative staff is able to catch it before the final product ever leaves for production, but also in that it tends to fail miserably. Compare also to Justified Trope, except a Voodoo Shark moment requires the justification to fall flat, inadequately justify, or otherwise simply fail so that suspension of disbelief remains lost. Also compare to It Runs on Nonsensoleum, in which an explanation like this is played for laughs instead of presented straight. Dan Browned can be considered similar, in that specific knowledge about the subject at hand causes the hand wave or attempt to justify the trope to fall apart.

Not necessarily related to Jumping the Shark or Hollywood Voodoo, except for particularly bad cases such as the Trope Namer.

Examples of Voodoo Shark include:

Anime and Manga

  • Mai-Otome attempts to Hand Wave the Virgin Power of Otome by explaining that a chemical in sperm destroys the nanomachines that are injected into an Otome's body to give her her powers. This raises a couple problems:
    • Why does no one think to use this as a weapon against Otome? Aside from rape (which is an issue with any type of Virgin Power), this particular explanation makes it possible that someone could simply isolate this chemical, then poison the water supply, turn it into a spray, etc., and permanently depower the enemy's Otome.
    • What about prophylactics? Has no one in this universe ever heard of a condom? Especially since the series is implied to have occurred After the End, meaning that they somehow retained knowledge of advanced robotics, but not birth control?
  • In Death Note's second rewrite special, the Mafia are cut and Mikami and Takada kill the SPK in their place, with Light's meetings with them moved to earlier than occurred in the manga. This fixes a Plot Hole present in the original anime, wherein SPK member Ill Ratt is never revealed as a spy for Mello (providing no explanation for Mello's crew knowing their names and thus able to kill them with the Death Note), but with the mafia plot's removal, another is created: Soichiro Yagami making the trade for Shinigami Eyes and his subsequent death are also omitted, leaving his absence and Light's knowledge of Mello's true name unexplained.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, the explanation why the main characters of Digimon Adventure are no longer able to digivolve to ultimate or mega, is that the power of the crests was necessary to restore balance to the world. The problem is that these crests were not only already destroyed, the kids had already learned to evolve without them by drawing power from either themselves (English dub) or each other (original). And the other problem is that the series had already introduced a 9th crest, still with full power, so they didn't even have the power of all the crests. And the other other problem is that the world was already reborn with restored balance at the end of the first season.
  • In the Bleach manga, during Hitsugaya's fight with Harribel, after she seemingly kills Hitsugaya, it's moments later revealed that what she killed, and had been bleeding, is an ice clone, with the real Hitsugaya alive and well. The anime omits the blood when adapting the scene, and while this clears up the issue of how an ice clone can be made to apparently bleed, the audience is then left without explanation for why Harribel was fooled by the decoy, considering her accomplished status.
  • In Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Maria and her older sister Kate are both nuns, however Maria is only 10 year old and Kate is only 15! For those who are unware it takes years of training before a person is considered a nun.so it's highly unlikely for a person to become one at age 15 let alone 10. so what is the the explanation we get for this? Apparently becoming a nun is just a part of a long-standing tradition in Maria's family. Needless to say,this explanation doesn't really answer the question. In fact it just makes the idea even more difficult to believe.
  • In Gundam Seed, protagonist Kira is caught in the Self-Destruct Mechanism of another Mobile Suit and appears to be dead for several episodes (though they Never Found the Body). The spin-off manga Gundam SEED Astray explains that his Gundam had an automatic blast shutter that kept him from dying, at which point Astray's protagonist found him and got him medical attention. This would have been a good enough explanation[1]...had the anime not shown the Gundam's cockpit as a slagged ruin of molten metal, something that no human could have survived, blast shutter or not. Other than the Hand Wave of his Designer Baby genes supposedly making him heat-resistant enough to survive a Reentry Scare earlier, there's no explanation.

Comic Books

  • The lead-up to DC's Infinite Crisis revealed that the "pocket paradise" which Alexander Luthor had created for himself, Superman-2 and Superboy-Prime at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths was actually more of a Phantom Zone, sealed off from the rest of reality by a crystal wall which showed all the DCU's events in real time. The crisis proper started when Superboy-Prime, disgusted by recent events, punched the wall in frustration, shattering it and freeing himself and the others to try and create a Merged Reality, whether it wanted remaking or not. This would have worked eminently well as an allegorical image, but Word of God stated that the wall was an actual physical representation of the DCU's timeline, and used the damage caused by Superboy's punch as a catch-all Hand Wave to explain away some of the event's less explainable facts, most notably "dead Robin" Jason Todd suddenly "waking up" in his grave and Maxwell Lord's completely-out-of-nowhere Face Heel Turn. The fans were neither convinced nor amused, and "SUPERBOY PUNCHED TIME!" became something of a rallying cry.
    • Since then, the editorial staff seems to have realized its mistake, and has been at pains to re-retcon some of it. For example, lines from the Batman & Robin title, as well as the semi-canon animated version of Under the Red Hood, strongly suggest that Todd's body was actually rejuvenated in a Lazarus Pit, which makes for a far more palatable explanation.
  • The biggest Voodoo Sharks in the DCU might be some of the explanations of Clark Kenting. For a brief while in the Bronze Age, it was Canon that Superman's nearly Paper-Thin Disguise worked despite all the close calls because he also had a "super-hypnosis" power that prevented anyone from noticing Clark Kent's resemblance to Superman. This depended on his glasses, which were made out of pieces of his Kryptonian spaceship; in one comic Lois Lane saw Clark Kent in a suit and no glasses and assumed it was Superman trying futilely to disguise himself as Clark. Fine, fair enough, Superman does lots of things superhumanly well due to his speed and intellect and they're all called separate superpowers. But this just raises more questions, like why does a wig work as a disguise for Supergirl? Or, why does this disguise work over television? Or, there are many stories where Batman disguises himself as Clark. Does Batman have Bat-hypnosis?
    • The current (and much more rational) explanation—based on Christopher Reeve's performance in the various Superman films—is that when he is Clark Kent, Superman acts completely differently; timid, slumped, and so completely unlike Superman no one would ever relate the two, which also makes Batman disguising himself as Clark easier to accept. Bruce Wayne is a master of disguise and he and Clark already look a lot alike. With a little makeup, Bruce could easily make himself look like Kent. There's also the later post-Crisis component of the explanation: Why does anyone assume that Superman has a secret identity?
  • When talking about What Could Have Been with his run on the Sonic the Hedgehog comic, several of former writer Ken Penders' explanations for the events in "Mobius: 25 Years Later" come off as this. A few examples:
    • Locke's sickness and death was due to cancer he developed from a bad interaction with this self-experimentation (to create Knuckles) and the Master Emerald. (If that's so, why isn't Knuckles affected, even though he resulted from those same experiments?)
    • Rotor's Word of Gay reveal would not have impacted his modern-day depiction, because he would've only realized it five years prior to the events of "M:25YL", after he was married to a female. (Ignoring the fact that having him only be gay in the future means nothing to the readers, while it is possible for people to realize they're gay after they're in a heterosexual relationship, having him find out that late after what's implied to be a long and fulfilling marriage strains credibility.)
    • "M:25YL" is supposed to be the "true" future, and the one where NICOLE came from. (First of all, the story was built around time needing to be "fixed" to prevent The End of the World as We Know It, and Ken's run ended with Sonic going back in time to do just that. No way you can claim it to be the one true future, in that case. Second, unless Past!Nicole was destroyed before the story happened (which Word of God claims is not the case), both Nicoles should exist at the same time, and thus they should have the info they need from Past!Nicole to figure out what happened and how to fix it, something the story claims they don't. Or maybe it's a case of Never the Selves Shall Meet, but still...)
  • The Spider-Man franchise has had its share of Voodoo Sharks, and the explanation given for Aunt May's return from the dead in late 1998's "The Gathering of Five/The Final Chapter" storyline deserves a mention here. For easier reading, I'll list the sequence of events leading up to the Voodoo Shark moment in numbered order.
  1. Aunt May was in a coma. She awoke, eventually, and shared many anecdotes and heartwarming moments with Peter and Mary Jane, and congratulated Mary Jane on her pregnancy. She even admitted that she had known that Peter was Spider-Man for some time, because Peter couldn't have lived under her roof for so long without her at least seeing the signs. She was in denial for quite a while.
  2. In Amazing Spider-Man #400, Aunt May suffered a relapse, and passed away peacefully in bed. Peter held her hand as she passed away, reciting their favorite passage from Peter Pan. To many fans, this was an exceptionally well-done Tear Jerker moment.
  3. All was well until Marvel Editor in Chief Bob Harras insisted that Aunt May be brought back from the dead. It didn't matter that Aunt May's death was handled (in the eyes of many) beautifully and realistically, it didn't matter how much of a Tear Jerker it was. And it didn't matter that there was a funeral, and the characters and the books had moved on. Harras was the boss, and his word was law.
  4. So here we come to the Voodoo Shark moment. In 1998's The Final Chapter, Spider-Man enters Norman Osborn's house in search of his missing child, only to find Aunt May alive and well waiting for him. Norman Osborn explains that he switched Aunt May with an actress engineered to be identical to Aunt May, who spent a long time practicing her mannerisms until they were identical. And that it was this actress who died in ASM #400, meaning Peter (and the readers) cried over a complete stranger.
  5. This leads to several questions. For one, how could this "actress" be so good as to fool Peter Parker? Aunt May was practically his mother. They lived under the same roof together, and Peter would have known something was wrong even if his spider-sense didn't give anything away. Secondly, just when was this "switch" made? How could this actress have practiced Aunt May's mannerisms, and become so good, when the real Aunt May was in a coma? Third, why in the world would this actress stay in character even on her deathbed? It makes absolutely no sense! The books, of course, never provided any answers for these and just moved on from there without addressing it any further, forcing any dissatisfied readers to pick up the slack themselves.
  • Vibranium. It was conceived as an explanation for why Captain America's shield is so strong; vibranium is supposed to absorb all kinetic energy from impacts. The thing is, that just makes the behavior of Cap's shield even less realistic. Hitting bad guys with it wouldn't do anything because the shield wouldn't impart any kinetic energy to them. It would stop bullets and such just fine, but not in the way depicted - rather than ricocheting off of the shield, bullets would fall straight to the ground as soon as they contacted it (they wouldn't even deform). And forget about all those "clang!" and "ting!" sounds; that energy would be absorbed by the shield rather than bled off in the form of sound waves. Any impacts on the shield would be completely silent. And of course there's the question of what is happening to all this energy the shield is absorbing. While the full explanation is that it's made of a Vibranium-super steel alloy (not pure Vibranium). That just raises further questions...
    • The part where Cap can club people with the shield and bounce it off walls is generally explained by the fact that the edge of the shield is apparently not vibranium (and of course, it's the edge that he's doing all the hitting and bouncing with, while it's the flat that he's doing all the blocking with). Lord only knows where the energy goes, though—then again, the list of superpowers and super-tech devices in comic books that routinely violate Conservation of Energy is basically "all of them", so...

Fan Works

  • In Naruto Veangance Revelaitons, Madara speaks in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe, and the author claims that this is because he traveled back in time to the 1800s. Not only is this not at all an accurate depiction of how people talked back then, but it also raises some questions of why he doesn't try to time travel at any other point.
  • My Immortal‍'‍s author's notes often "explain" plot holes with bizarre nonsense. Particular amusing is Tara apparently being under the impression that Snape hating Harry is a deviation from canon and explaining it thus: "da reson snap dosent lik harry now is coz hes christian and vampire is a satanist". Of course, Snape does hate Harry in the actual series and there was already a canon explanation.


  • Star Wars: The explanation of Han Solo's famous statement about "making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs" left a bad taste in some fans' mouths. George Lucas eventually announced that the Kessel Run involves navigating through The Maw, an area littered with black holes. The smart thing to do is zigzag around them, but the Millennium Falcon's superior navigational computer and engines allow her to fly a more direct route and thus arrive with less mileage on the odometer. Earlier drafts of the script indicated a much simpler explanation: Han was a blowhard trying to pull a fast one on a backwater yokel. (Note Obi-Wan's expression right after the line.)
    • Given that Han was talking about how fast his ship was, it also seems odd that he would brag about how well it navigates...
      • Not that odd. Han's bragging about his ship's capacity as a blockade runner—that is a job that requires maneuverability as well as speed.
      • Surviving the gravitational riptides of the Maw on a course plotted that tightly also requires the Falcon to be fairly durable—and Han's remark is in direct response to Luke's comment that the Falcon looks like a flimsy hunk of junk.
    • The most oft-cited case of Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy In the Original Trilogy is the Death Star from A New Hope. The film has not one but two scenes that explains that the real reason was the villains let the heroes escape. However Pablo Hidago instead explains that Stormtroopers don't have the same level of training across the board so the Stormtroopers on the Death Star weren't as well trained as say the 501st Legion (Vader's personal unit that boards the Tantive IV at the beginning of the film.). Not only does it raise the question why is stormtrooper training inconsistent to begin with, (while most writers tend to forget it they are supposed to the EliteMooks in the Galactic Empire) and why such poorly trained troops were given such a sensitive posting but there is also the fact the Stormtroopers on Cloud City were part of the 501st and they missed as often as the Stormtroopers on the Death Star.
    • The prequels created one in the form of force ghosts. With the original trilogy, it was assumed that all Jedi (or at least sufficiently powerful ones) became "one with The Force" when they died. Then along comes Revenge of the Sith saying the Force Ghost thing was a technique Qui-Gon Jin discovered and taught to Yoda, who taught it to Obi-Wan. So then... How did Vader/Anakin learn it? (The obvious answer, that Obi-Wan taught it to him, runs into the problem that by the time he'd learned about it himself, Anakin was already his enemy.) And why didn't Qui-Gon or Yoda teach this technique to any other Master? For that matter why wouldn't Qui-Gon appear before his friend and Padawan, Obi-Wan?
  • In the film serial Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, the heroes befriend a tribe of rock creatures on the planet Mongo. Professor Zarkoff happens to know their language. How? Because the aliens colonized part of Earth, but died out there, while their counterparts who stayed on Mongo degenerated into superstitious primitives. But before the rock creatures died out on Earth, a tribe in Central America adopted their language. That tribe also died out, but Zarkoff happened to study their written records (we can only guess how the pronunciations are known, and how it could be translated at all). After the professor gives this explanation, no aspect of it is ever mentioned again.
  • So the visions in Final Destination, that mess with Death's plans, are caused by Death. So Death screws with his own plans and has to correct them, because of what he did. That's not You Can't Fight Fate. That's fate being an idiot, or a Jerkass that likes screwing with people for no reason. Either way, it makes the plot of the movies seem kind of pointless.
    • Except that the end of FD 4 reveals that it was all part of the plan. And yes, probably with some For the Evulz thrown in for good measure.
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly's first couple of hours is an exercise in how even if you set up a Deus Ex Machina, it's still a Deus Ex Machina - the best example being the "carriage of the spirits" that has plenty of set-up and plot dedicated to its presence, but still comes out of nowhere at a critical moment to save Blondie's life. (The movie's entertaining enough not to suffer from it, though - if anything, it adds to the stylized atmosphere.)
  • The Room ends with a character "dramatically" shooting themselves. However, the film decides we need to know where the gun came from, so to explain this, an earlier scene is added where an armed dealer known as Chris-R confronts young orphan Denny about some sort of drug deal, and gets tackled by Johnny and Mark. The problem? Apart from this never being mentioned again, and the sheer convenience that the entire group decided to go to the roof at just the right time, Denny claims he needed the money. He has a millionaire banker paying for his every whim and still he needed to go to a petty thug for money? Then when asked about this man, Denny says "Calm down, he's going to jail!" So... the police arrested him but didn't take his gun for evidence?
    • Even better: Mark is the one who takes the gun. Even if we accept the not using the gun as evidence, are we supposed to believe that Mark simply gave the gun to Johnny?
  • In Highlander Endgame a group of Immortals live in voluntary stasis in the "Sanctuary," which is located in a large cathedral, but they are murdered by an immortal named Kell. In the original theatrical version, the Sanctuary is referred to as being holy ground, but this annoyed fans of the series since it had been established that Immortals are not allowed to kill one another on holy ground. This rule was even followed by every villain, no matter how evil. So the line was excised from the DVD version. But putting aside the fact that it's in a cathedral, the Sanctuary not being holy ground is just as nonsensical when you stop and wonder why a bunch of Immortals opted to be put into voluntary stasis in a place where they'd be vulnerable. Or why the renegade Watchers would establish the Sanctuary on a place that was not Holy Ground. Their goal was to prevent The Prize from being won, ergo they didn't want the immortals there losing their heads any more than the immortals themselves...
  • While this trope almost always creates a schism between creators and their fans, the famous "watermelon scene" from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension is a rare case of it playing out in total good humor. The scene is never mentioned again, and was actually only put in as a Writer Revolt against some of the restrictions placed on the production by its studio liaison, who vocally hated the project. When fans pressed for the promised explanation, Word of God said that the Banzai Institute was developing produce that could be airdropped fresh into African villages or other such impoverished, politically volatile areas. It was soon pointed out that any fruit or vegetable that could survive impact would have to be so dense that it would be rendered inedible, Word of God responded (in mock exasperation), "Look, what do you want from me?!"
  • In the Mockbuster Snakes on a Train, snakes are released on a train because a woman was vomiting them up and eventually the woman transforms into a giant snake and swallows the train. This is all explained by her being put under some kind of voodoo curse.
  • In Halloween: Resurrection, we find out a man Laurie decapitated at the end of H20 wasn't Michael, but a paramedic he switched clothes with. That doesn't explain why Michael would want to switch clothes in the first place or why "the paramedic" was clearly trying to attack Laurie.
  • In Star Trek: First Contact, Picard is stunned to find the Borg Queen is behind the assimilation of the Enterprise. Apparently, she was also on the Borg cube from the TNG two-parter "The Best of Both Worlds", which was destroyed in the end, prompting Picard to ask how she could have survived. The Queen simply answers "You think in such three-dimensional terms.". Okay... Making this more complicated is the fact that none of the Borg's previous appearances had ever hinted at her existence. It was better done later when Voyager revealed that the queen is simply a drone that acts as a manifestation of the will of the Borg and can literally be in multiple places at once.
  • The Transformers film series has its justification for still having a Masquerade in the second movie: military combat robots went rogue and trashed a major city. Why the government would think "Yes, we not only spent trillions of dollars building giant robots with sophisticated combat AI, concealing this information from taxpayers, but we are so staggeringly incompetent that they not only malfunctioned and started killing people, but when they did we had no way to stop them but to send in more giant robots to fight them" is somehow better than admitting it's aliens is anyone's guess.
    • Not entirely foolish. It is believed, for example, that conspiracy theorists believe things like "9/11 was an inside job" because the idea that the government was in control of the whole thing is less scary than the thought that 18 "desert nomads" with almost no training were able to inflict such massive damage, totally bypassing security. The concept that aliens just plain exist would totally upend many people's entire worldview (the aliens are not only not all humanoid, but inorganic - throwing "in God's image" into disarray for many), and presenting it as a human problem due to human mistakes could very easily be seen as a lesser evil than admitting the truth.
  • In Spider-Man 3, Harry Osborn undergoes his Heel Face Turn and runs off to help Peter fight Sandman and Venom when his butler tells him that he examined Norman's corpse and noticed the wound came from his glider meaning he died by his own hand and thus Spider-Man didn't kill him. Of course, several fans have wondered why didn't the butler tell him this one or two movies ago instead of watching him go on his destructive vendetta against Spider-Man. Word of God then claimed that the butler was actually an hallucination representing Harry's "good side" meaning he knew it all along but couldn't face that facts. That would be nonsensical enough but what makes this a true Voodoo Shark is the fact that it directly contradicts an early scene where Harry talks to the butler in Peter's presence and Peter reacts completely normally despite the fact that if one were to take the hallucination theory at face value, he is watching his friend talking to an empty staircase.
  • In The Neverending Story 3, Bastion's supporting cast gets wished out of Fantasia into the real world in an attempt to justify why he can't just wish Fantasia back to normal. However, Bastion himself questions why he can't just wish the supporting cast back into Fantasia first, then wish Fantasia back to normal. He's never really given an answer.
  • Die Hard 2 attempts to explain "Why doesn't the plane reroute to one of the many other nearby airports" with bad weather. Even ignoring how the plane could have flown several states away with the fuel it is stated to have, this explanation means the bad guy's elaborate and high cost plan depends upon the weather cooperating in a highly specific way.


  • The Thrawn Trilogy revealed Wookiees had retractable climbing claws which does help explain how they can in their Tree Top Towns however this raised the question of Chewbacca never used these claws before for say fighting the Stormtroopers in the Carbon Freezing Chamber. However to quote the author Timothy Zhan, "Fortunately, the West End Games folks also spotted the lapse and came to my rescue." by revealing in their source book for Star Wars Shadows Of The Empire that Wookiees have a very strict taboo against using their claws for anything other than climbing.
  • Twilight has quite a few, usually concerning Stephenie Meyer's explanations about how a vampire's body works. According to Meyer, when a human becomes a vampire all of their bodily fluids are replaced with a type of venom. To explain how a vampire can father a child, then, she says that the venom takes over "some of the functions" of the fluid it replaced.
    • In fact, this one is especially terrible because it contradicts major points in the previous books. After all, weren't some of Edward's siblings jealous of Bella's ability to have children? What prevented them from having their own children if their fluids were never hindered?
      • Apparently, vampires don't have enough blood in their body for the females to menstruate. This was why, early on, Meyer said that vampires couldn't have kids. When Bella got pregnant (admittedly before her change to a vampire), Meyer retconned this so that only female vampires couldn't have children because they couldn't menstruate -- even though menstruation has nothing to do with getting pregnant.
    • What is also unclear is how Renesmee is able to age, since Meyer stated that once a person becomes a vampire, they stop aging. Renesmee doesn't only age, but also ages very quickly, and then will stop aging once she looks about 17 or 18.

Live-Action TV

  • In Star Trek: Voyager's episode "The Cloud" one VS occurs. The ship is stranded far from any safe port, and thus the crew rations power. This gets to the point where replicated food is rationed out and they must set up a functioning galley with a live cook. Except for the Holodeck, which is kept running as much as anyone wants. The writers explain this by saying that the Holodeck has its own power system that is incompatible with everything else on the ship. Why would a holodeck, or any system on the ship, be built to be incompatible with the rest of the ship it's installed on in the first place, while technology from alien races and factions can be integrated just fine?[2]
    • And when the holodeck is first introduced in TNG, it's explained as being nearly identical to existing energy-to-matter conversion technology - transporters and replicators. Wesley Crusher manages to leave the holodeck soaking wet in replicated water. It's only things that are manipulated force fields (like "people") that can't leave the holodeck, because everything else, or at least all small stuff, is replicated! People eat and drink on it just fine, and the holodeck doesn't go yanking the partially digested stuff out of people when they leave (though because we see people bringing in clothes and other tools for their holodeck escapades, maybe the food the real people eat is similarly imported, and the holofood is being eaten by the holopeople). So even if the 'incompatible power systems' make sense, that just means they should be using the holodeck as a mess hall.
      • Of course, several episodes show supposedly-replicated holodeck matter disintegrating when thrown out the holodeck door. There is no consistent rule for the holodeck.
  • Near the beginning of Heroes' fourth volume: Fugitives, Noah says that Sylar survived being stabbed in the back of the head For Massive Damage (leaving him unable to use his powers) and Left for Dead in a burning building at the climax of Villains because the glass in the back of his head melted, allowing him to use his Healing Factor. However, there's one big problem with this: the melting point of brain is lower than the melting point of glass, meaning he would've died for real long before the glass melted. And even if it wasn't, he's still got glass in his brain. Only now, it's absurdly hot, and seeps into all the cracks and can't be gotten out.
    • However, we know the problem isn't that a shard of glass is sticking in his brain, but that it is sticking into the part of the brain that gives him the immortality. (He explained he learned how to move it when he got the Shapeshifter's powers.) The glass would just need to break from that part of his brain, not mattering that it destroys other parts. Seeing how immortal the immortals are in Heroes, that part of his brain probably can't be destroyed, not even by fire.
  • Fans of Smallville debate whether or not the explanation given for Lois Lane's employment at the Daily Planet is a Voodoo Shark. Because Lois was romantically involved with her supervisor (the guy who hired her) she briefly questions the reasons for her being hired. Her editor quells any fears she may have had by showing her the article she wrote for the Inquisitor the previous year. However, given that the editor is an accelerated-aged clone with implanted memories who didn't exist at the time of her writing the article, it raises the question of how true his claim could be. Further, when he offered her the job, he didn't know who she was (she had just walked in off the street to see her cousin) so his claim that it was on the basis of her work is even more doubtful since he couldn't have possibly made the connection.

Video Games

  • Silent Hill 2 has a possible ending which was intended as a parody of this trope. Silent Hill 2 is a macabre Survival Horror title featuring a young man who receives a letter from his deceased wife, imploring him to meet her at "their special place", which turns out to be a weird ghost town where all his subconscious fears and guilt manifest. It's in general a Tear Jerker Mind Screw of a game. This ending's explanation of it all: The Dog Was the Mastermind.
  • A rather complicated example occurs in World of Warcraft regarding the Big Bad Lich King from Wrath of the Lich King. Many fans complained about Arthas being stuck with the Villain Ball in the expansion after the Lich King (which he was now permanently half of) being played up as a Magnificent Bastard in the previous game. In what appears to be an attempt to justify it, Blizzard gave the explanation that Arthas's spirit was dominating over the spirit of Ner'zhul (the previously sole spirit of the Lich King, who most certainly qualified for Magnificent Bastard status, and Arthas supposedly not so much). However, that caused much more confusion considering previous interviews and scenes stating that Arthas and Ner'zhul were one being (flat out stating that neither persona existed anymore, only one Lich King), leading to many fans feeling annoyance.
    • The final boss patch tried to lessen all the Villain Ball moments where he just threatened you then left, or told some mook to kill you, then left, etc.. by explaining they were all a part of a I Need You Stronger plot, to get the most powerful warriors in Azeroth to become as strong as possible then have them confront him directly, at which point he would slaughter them and raise them as Uber-Death Knights to be his new unbeatable warriors. This was a Voodoo Shark to some players, since his plan to get "the greatest fighting force the world has ever known" involved letting them kill all his other powerful minions. And while there's the obvious "if they killed them, these guys are obviously better" counter argument, the players did that by facing them one at a time while outnumbering them 10 or 25 to one. Throw 10 players in a room with Kel'Thuzad, Anub'arak, Marrowgar, Deathwhisper, Lana'thel, Rotface, Festergut, Putridus, Saurfang and Sindragosa all at once and see how long they last, because if the players are squished in seconds, it probably wasn't worth letting all the aforementioned people and more die to get them on your side.
      • It gets even more annoying; the Scourge is powerful enough to wipe out all life on Azeroth. The reason they don't? The Lich King is holding them back. You know, the same Lich King that is trying to kill the player characters and resurrect them as his strongest champions in order to wipe out all life on Azeroth.
    • Of course, as Anub'arak and Blood Princes show - he could bring them back too, so it still is a win-win situation for him.
    • This explanation actually makes sense if you know Arthas story, as this is pretty much the way he came to be, being played has a Unwitting Pawn when he was a human Knight Templar.
  • In Zombie Driver, The Mayor pops up early in the story to tell you that he'll pay you for killing the zombies that are destroying his city. The game neglects to mention who's giving you money when you destroy the city as well.
  • Fire Emblem Path Of Radiance: In the Fire Emblem series, when killing an enemy, you can only get some specifically tagged items. That's fine, since getting all the items in the game (and possibly selling them) would be a huge game breaker. But in Path of Radiance, it's justified, as moral principles from Greil's Mercenaries: it's morally unacceptable to loot dead people. Then, two questions arise: Why some items don't follow that rule, since you still grab some items upon killing some enemies? And, if I understand it well, looting a dead men is wrong, but pickpocketing a still-alive (but not for long, since you will frag them after the theft, won't you?) soldier is right?
    • In Radiant Dawn, the only rogue who hangs around with the Greil Mercenaries before the endgame would be Heather, unless you fail to recruit her or let her die in Crimea. Heather is also questionable with her vows, as her ending would suggest. Since she never seems to be short on money despite the fact that she swore off thievery, it's fairly obvious
  • Possibly intentional in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, which was partly a Writer Revolt against fan desire to explain Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty's deliberately inexplicable events:
    • Vamp's immortality was ascribed to Nanomachines, although Naomi specifically mentions that they only work because he already has a supernatural and unexplainable regenerative ability, as if to annoy as many people as possible.
    • Which is surprising, as the games show at several times that magic exist with Psycho Mantis, Vulcan Raven, the ghost wolves, and The Sorrow all being examples where no technology is involved at all.
  • Metroid: Other M attempted to justify the lack of Samus' arsenal with the "authorization system"; to wit, she was permitted to aid the military investigation so long as she only used her weapons when authorized by the commander. So, she still had all her powerups from the previous games, and could activate them herself at any time, but would not until given the all clear.
    • The problem here is that while Adam, the commanding officer, had good reason to ban the use of the more powerful weapons, the entire "authorization" thing falls flat on its face when you are sent wading through lava in an area that hurts you from just being there... with a fully functional heat shield installed that you are not permitted to use. This goes for every non-dangerous upgrade. Grapple beam to swing across the gap and get an energy tank? Sorry, no. Gravity module for free movement underwater so those space piranha won't get you? Nope. Wave beam activated for just a second so I can hit this switch behind the glass? No, you must backtrack through half the station first instead.
      • Thus, the question is not so much (as some people have framed it) why Samus didn't activate her abilities when they'd first be useful—Adam made it painfully clear that he'd only play along with her tagging along as long as she followed orders, and the moment she refused she would be forced to leave—as why Adam was dragging his feet with regard to useful upgrades for no obvious reason.
  • In Psychonauts, Raz's multiple lives in mental realms are justified with Raz having multiple layers of astral projection that weaken his link to the mental world, and if he runs out of lives, he gets ejected. Health drops are also explained as Raz collecting mental health from the realm. However, this raises a lot of questions when Raz has the same mechanics for mental health and extra lives in reality.
  • Enter The Matrix tried to explain the reason why the Oracle looks different in The Matrix Revolutions which was brought up in the film but never elaborated on. Short answer: The Merovingian stripped her of her Residual Self-Image and most of her powers for telling the heroes about the Keymaker in the previous movie. Not only has it never been established before or since that programs can do this (Smith doesn't count as he was The Virus as of Reloaded) but he leaves the Oracle with her ability to see the future when the movie has him ask the heroes to get it for him (in return for Neo). But if he could have stolen her powers all along and did it to her once already, why didn't he take it then?
    • This also raises a regards to the final showdown between Neo and Smith as the film implies his Physical God level abilities that match Neo's came from the fact he assimilated the Oracle but if she was left with just her foresight, how is that possible?
  • Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow claims that the castle the game takes place in is an exact replica of the Trope Namer for Chaos Architecture for the purpose of avoiding an Artifact Title (the game doesn't take place in Dracula's Castle, AKA Castlevania), which would merely be trivia otherwise.
    • The end of the game offers a semi-plausible explanation that still invites more questions: Before the original Castlevania fell, Dracula would draw power from a Hell realm called the Abyss for more minions, and we actually go there and find that the castle in DoS is powered by a mockup version of Chaos, the inner will of the original castle. Destroying the mockup version in DoS works like destroying Chaos in Aria of Sorrow. The question this raises is how did the villains of DoS know this information? Canonically, only Dracula, Alucard, and Soma were ever privy to it. Dmitri Blinov got a copy of the information from Soma in the true ending, but long after it would have been useful for the creation of the DoS castle, which existed prior to him getting it.

Web Comics

  • Parodied in Dresden Codak: "I bet it's like when you find out Santa isn't real, and it was really just Bigfoot giving you presents."
  • Frequently parodied in Darths and Droids when the players point out some of the insane lapses in logic in the Star Wars universe, particularly the GM's explanations for how Coruscant can be a planet-wide city. ...jokes recycled from the same author's Irregular Webcomic, where it was eventually lampshaded with a cutaway to a pirate captain:

Captain: Arr! Take that, you scurvy equine!
First Mate: But captain, that horse be dead!

  • In the NSFW Mega Man gender-bender comic Rock Gal, one of the villains explains to her lady friend (as they're torturing the title character) that if a female robot's breasts are smacked too hard, they lose energy in a manner similar to human lactation. All this does is raise the question of why the hell anyone would deliberately design a robot to lose energy. (In this case, "to prevent an overload" doesn't cut it)
    • Later handwaved a second time by implying that everyone who builds these robots are massive perverts (as if that weren't obvious enough).

Web Original


Gay Clown: Actually, I'm not a clown. I'm Seto Kaiba's evil side brought back from the Shadow Realm by Pegasus--
Yami: That's even less believable than the whole ghost story! You don't even know what you are, do you?
Gay Clown: No.
Yami: Didn't think so. MIND CRUSH!


Western Animation

  • Ben 10: Alien Force. Gwen's magical powers are explained as alien powers inherited from her alien grandmother. The episode in which this revelation is made clear goes on to say that there is no such thing as magic. This despite on a previous episode Gwen clearly used divination to locate their enemies and in the former series Ben 10 there were spells read from incantations, a fountain of youth, and soul-swapping. Then Word of God claims that both Hex and Charmcaster are in fact magic users.
    • They're back to calling it magic later on in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien; it's starting to feel like they don't know what to call it, either that, or Mana and Magic can be the same thing, and Kevin's just a Flat Earth Atheist.
      • Ultimate Alien gives the impression at least that Gwen has both alien superpowers and magical abilities and simply doesn't know where to draw the line between them since they're similar.
  • Winx Club dub, "Magical Reality Check": It's already bad enough that the would-be Author's Saving Throw (where Knut comes in and says that he couldn't find the herb ingredients that the Trix wanted for a potion) is placed in the middle of the episode (and not brought up again at the end where it would be relevant; this comparison includes the throw), but it also raises the question, "Why do the Trix perform their plan to steal Bloom's powers after they're told that they lack the necessary ingredients?" (as well as "Why don't they bring that up when the plan fails?")
    • And not only is the Throw placed mid-episode, it's buried so inconspicuously that this summary [dead link] for the ep doesn't even mention it, because the summary writer apparently missed that detail.
  • The Simpsons episode "Don't Fear the Roofer", near the end. In the story, Homer gets his new friend Ray Magini to fix his roof. However, it is soon postulated that Ray doesn't actually exist, since all the people that were with Homer when he spoke to Ray claimed not have actually seen him. Thinking that Homer is delusional, his family takes him to the doctor, and after several treatments of painful therapy, Homer thinks he's back to sanity again. But then they find out that Ray was real all along, and that there were logical explanations as to why no one else saw him - except for one case where Bart couldn't see Ray even though he was in plain sight and he should have been able to. Guest star Stephen Hawking then shows up and delivers the trope - a miniature black hole had appeared between Bart and Ray that absorbed the light from Ray so Bart couldn't see him. There is no way to even start explaining all the problems with that theory.

Lisa: Wait a minute, Xena can't fly!
Lucy Lawless: I told you, I'm not Xena--I'm Lucy Lawless.
Lisa: Oh.

  • Futurama is more or less made of this trope, as shown in the page quote. Made even funnier by the fact that the plot of the entire episode in question was held together by long bouts of Techno Babble and multiple Hand Waves, which even by Futurama logic barely made sense. For a start, shouldn't the Lost City of Atlanta's residents have, you know, drowned or got crushed by the high pressure of the sea bottom before procreating? Did the accelerated evolution with gills and fins start after just the second generation? Keep in mind, though, Futurama is a character-driven show that runs on Rule of Funny, so it's best not to worry too much about it.
    • This is best exemplified in the episode "A Clone of My Own". Professor Farnsworth shows his clone Cubert all his various inventions. However, Cubert, the Only Sane Man who is being newly introduced to the Futurama world, derides the devices and the Professor's explanations as impossible.

Professor Farnsworth: These are the dark matter engines I invented. They allow my starship to travel between galaxies in mere hours.
Cubert: That's impossible. You can't go faster than the speed of light.
Professor Farnsworth: Of course not. That's why scientists increased the speed of light in 2208.
Cubert: Also impossible.
Professor Farnsworth: And what makes my engines truly remarkable is the afterburner, which delivers 200% fuel efficiency!
Cubert: That's especially impossible.
Professor Farnsworth: Not at all. It's very simple.
Cubert: Then explain it.
Professor Farnsworth: Now that's impossible!

      • This is arguably solved later in perfectly plausible scientific fashion:

Cubert: The engines don't move the ship at all. The ship stays where it is, and the engines move the universe around it.

    • Lampshaded here:

Fry: Is he (Guenther the talking genius monkey) genetically engineered?
Professor: Oh please, that's preposterous science fiction mumbo jumbo. Guenther's intelligence actually lies in his electronium hat, which harnesses the power of sunspots to produce cognitive radiation.

    • Fry often prefers this answer in situations where he doesn't want to think. Even when there's a perfectly logical explanation.

Fry: It's crazy! How could they even know about a show from a thousand years ago?
Farnsworth: Well, Omicron Persei 8 is about a thousand light years away. So the electromagnetic waves would just recently have gotten there. You see--
Fry: Magic. Got it.

  • Averted in Transformers Animated. The writers announced that they would not be revealing anything about the origins of the Allspark, because the explanation would run the risk of being so bizarre that it shattered the audience's Willing Suspension of Disbelief. The Star Wars Midichlorian example was specifically cited.
  • Word of God for Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy says that Plank is just a hunk of wood. While most of the strange incidents concerning Plank could be justified as the insanity of Johnny, Plank's owner, a few things just can't be explained. For example, in "Rent-A-Ed", Plank told Johnny that Eddy had messed up the kitchen. While Johnny was trapped in a tree far away from the incident. He also managed to sprout a branch in "Scrambled Ed", and drives a bus in The Movie.
  • Lampshaded in Family Guy:

Stewie: Say, Brian, now that I think about it, how can you possibly have a thirteen-year-old son when you yourself are only seven?
Brian: Well, those are dog years.
Stewie: That doesn't make any sense.
Brian: You know what, Stewie? If you don't like it, go on the Internet and complain.


SpongeBob: Whoever sent this obviously has no idea about the physical limitations of life underwater! Well, might as well throw these in the fire.
(They do.)

    • Another episode has the duo camping out, thinking they're on the lam...

Patrick: Hey, if we're underwater, how can we have a-- (The campfire goes out.) ...oh.

  • Frequently used on American Dad, particularly in regards to the details of Roger's many disguises. For example, in one episode, Roger is pretending to be a wedding planner, and introduces Stan to his sons - two college-age men who act as if Roger is actually their mother:

Stan: How is that possible?
Roger: I know. I look too young to have kids in college.
Stan: No, that you have children when your persona is completely fabricated...
Roger: We are the music makers. We are the dreamers of dreams.
Stan: That is an unsatisfying answer.

    • And then in a more recent episode:

Steve: You... you've been married to him (a prison warden) for thirty years? Where do you find the time?!
Roger: When you're in love, you make time.


Doofenschmirtz (talking for the wheel): I am a dry-cleaning wheel. Why do I exist?


Real Life

  • This is the standard operating procedure in science. If some phenomenon is found that cannot be explained by existing theories and principles, a new theory must be developed that explains the mysterious phenomenon but does not invalidate previous theories and principles that are known to work. Dark matter is a typical example.
    • And often eventually it will be simplified with a new discovery. For example, the geocentric model of the universe began to become increasingly convoluted as improving telescope technology and star charting lead to increasingly convoluted models of how the orbiting bodies must be moving. Moving to a heliocentric model simplified this considerably.
      • Even then, there were still problems with the model. For an example visible to the naked eye, at times Mars appears to double back on itself as it moves across the night sky. Scientists began working on theories that the planets all moved in orbits within orbits (essentially, that they wobbled about within their orbits like a top that's winding down). Then they discovered a far simpler explanation: planetary orbits are elliptical, not a perfect circle.
    • And sometimes the weird explanations stick. It would have been easier to believe that attempts to measure the speed of light in the aether had simply failed due to flaws in the experiment. The conclusion that light itself has the same apparent speed no matter how fast you yourself are moving is weird.
  • One of the many reasons Conspiracy Theories are ridiculed is that their "explanations" of perceived inconsistencies only raises further (and much dumber) questions, one of the more common being "How would you keep something like that a secret?"
    • "Who could possibly benefit from this?" being another common one.
    • David Wong, in an attempt to disprove the 9/11 conspiracy theories, actually calculated the number of people they would have had to to pay off or eliminate to guarantee the success of the False-Flag Operation. The resulting number was over 100,000. Of course, that has nothing on the Flat Earth Society, whose pet theory would include the cooperation of the entire Southern Hemisphere, over a billion people.
    • Noam Chomsky—who is himself one of the US government's harshest critics and has his own suite of conspiracy theories about US clandestine activities—has pointed out several main flaws with 9/11 conspiracies. Chief among them is the dubious root assumption that if the US Government benefited from it then it must logically follow that they planned it (because in real life, people never capitalize on unexpected opportunities after the fact). If the US government really was prepared to murder thousands of its own citizens for greed why would it then allow people to expose it online, given that it has already demonstrated a total disregard for human rights?
      • If the US government is prepared to murder thousands of its own citizens for selfish or conspiratorial motives, Noam Chomsky himself would have been dead years ago. Not surprising he spotted the flaw in the Truthers' logic here, yes.
  • Most Urban Legends also fall under this trope for the same reason as Conspiracy Theories. It doesn't take long for any critical observer to pick apart such stories, usually by pointing out that the city where they happen is never specified, or in the case of the story happening to "the friend of a friend" that the person telling the story is never able to give the name of that person.
  • Likewise, religious apologists can come up with very odd rationalisations of their beliefs. These explanations tend to only make things look worse, especially when morality is involved, or invoke "ineffability" and claim divine reasons do not have to make sense to mere mortals.
  1. though a bit Ass Pull-ish
  2. The issue with the Holodecks was actually first brought up in the second episode "Parallax", though it wasn't until "The Cloud" when they started running it as much as they wanted to.