An Orphaned Reference is a scene or line that refers to something that has been cut from the final version. In milder cases, this only means that what was supposed to be a Meaningful Echo
loses its additional meaning; in more severe cases, the lost background information can cause apparent Noodle Incident
s, Plot Holes
or Ass Pull
Compare The Artifact
. See also Dub Induced Plothole
and Adaptation Induced Plothole
; all adaptation and dub examples go there. Some video game examples may overlap with Dummied Out
Anime and Manga:
- Hilariously lampshaded in Dragon Half, when Dug Fin is horrified to discover no one knows who he is. He gets ahold of the series' first episode on videotape and reviews it, only to discover all his scenes were cut from the final version!
- In Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, Nemo has a dream where he goes down to the pantry and sees a note on the ice box saying "You promised", before water bursts out and floods the house. Viewers watching the old VHS cut would make the connection that Nemo had just broken his promise to King Morpheus, but miss out on the double meaning because of a deleted scene while Nemo was awake where he promised his mother he'd stay out of the ice box and not eat the pie she'd baked.
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has some milder ones:
- "Is that seriously the end of the story?" -- Originally, this was Kim's response to Scott's flashback about how he met Knives on the bus (she dropped her books, he picked them up), later echoed by Ramona when she hears it from Knives. The flashback scene was cut in the final version.
- In an early, discarded version of Scott and Ramona's first date, Ramona was seen lighting a cigarette, saying she smokes only on special occasions. Scott was supposed to be echoing her after his battle with Roxy, when he says he only drinks on special occasions.
- In The Sixth Sense, when the protagonist realises he's a ghost, there is an echo of the boy saying "I see people". The line "I see people" was not used in the final cut (he only says "I see dead people").
- Several in Monkeybone.
- Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News had two cameos as a next-door neighbor, wearing shirts that said "Lucky" and "Stiff"; one of the cameos was cut.
- The stain on Stu's Grim Reaper costume is explained from a deleted scene, that showed him stealing it.
- In the end of The Goonies, Data has a line about the Giant Octopus, which was cut from the film. It was included in the Disney version, however.
- An example of this trope is actually in the title of Batman Forever. The title seems odd to many audience members until they realize it is in reference to a line of dialogue that was in a deleted scene.
- In Married to the Mob, when mobster Tommy Russo realizes that Mike Downey is an FBI agent, he flashes back to all the disguises that Mike has used throughout the movie. One of them is a uniformed police officer, but we never saw Mike disguised as a cop. It was probably from a deleted scene.
- Monty Python's Life of Brian originally had a whole subplot about King Otto, who was to have been A Nazi by Any Other Name. The only mention of Otto in the final film is the appearance his crack suicide squad in the final scene.
- In The Wizard of Oz, there's a scene where the Wicked Witch is giving instructions for her flying monkeys to intercept Dorothy's party, and she says, "They'll give you no trouble, I promise you that. I've sent a little insect on ahead to take the fight out of them." This was in reference to a deleted scene where a bug called the Jitterbug bit them and they broke into a dance number.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie scolds Roger for dancing for the bar patrons and potentially blowing his cover while "I'm out there risking my neck out for you". It's a fairly generic line, except that the immediate events don't warrant it; Eddie went from leaving Roger in the hidden room at the bar straight to his office, where he meets Jessica, and then back out to find Roger dancing. The line makes more sense when one considers the deleted scene (included in the comic version) that would have followed Roger's drop-off, where Eddie is caught snooping in Jessica's dressing room by Judge Doom and is sent to Toontown, where he is given a "tooneroo", a toon pig painted on top of his head. He goes back to his office to wash it off, which then segues to his encounter with Jessica.
- Star Trek: Generations had baddie Soran make a hammier than usual remark about Geordi's heart just not being in a conversation. Which made no sense on its own, but referred to a cut scene that involved him torturing Geordi by repeatedly stopping his heart. You can see the cut scene here: http://youtu.be/kI3U18GnwT8
- It also has Dr. Crusher saying "I removed the nanoprobe" (that Soran used to stop Geordi's heart), leaving the audience to wonder "what nanoprobe?"
- In National Treasure, there's a quick moment where one character is seen grabbing a knife. It was never put to use later; the production team was planning on it, but cut that element out (partly for ratings reasons).
- InThe Lord of the Rings, Faramir's lines "A chance for Faramir, captain of Gondor, to prove his quality," and "Tell him I send a mighty gift" were supposed to be Meaningful Echos of what his father Denethor says to him earlier, in Osgiliath. However, the scene in Osgiliath was deleted, so the lines ended up sounding a little off from Faramir's characterisation. The Osgiliath scene was restored in the Extended Version of the film.
- In the Richard Lester cut of Superman II when Clark sees General Zod taking over the White House, Lois tells Clark "You didn't know", only for Clark to reply "He knew". Clark is referring to Jor-El telling him about the Kryptonian villains, but those scenes were removed from the Lester cut.
- Three Men and a Baby had a deleted plot thread about Jack Holden (Ted Dansen's character) appearing in a dog food commercial. This explains the cardboard standees of him that pop up in a couple spots in the final cut that inspired a famous Urban Legend.
- In Wing Commander, the Pilgrim is asked at one point about his pilgrim pendant, to which he replies that he doesn't have it (he had it before). The reason why he lost it is never explained in the movie. The reason for that is because a scene where he stabs a traitor with the pendant was filmed but cut from the final version of the movie.
- There's a deleted scene from Kung Pow! where an old man writes "MOUTH" on the Chosen One's face. There's a scene or two in the final cut where this writing is still visible.
- In The Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane" Maria is wiped from time and only Alan remembers her. Chrissie pays Alan a visit after time has been altered and tells him they never had a daughter. Alan protests that Chrissie was at their house earlier and saw Maria. This refers to a cut scene earlier in the serial where Chrissie does indeed visit the house and sees Maria.
- When the first few hour-long episodes of Cheap Seats were cut down to a half-hour, a few references and jokes were left orphaned. Example: in the "Superdogs/Superjocks" episode, there was a warning in "What 2 Look 4" for an obscene number of dog-puns. The subsequent edits chopped out the majority of them. (there were still some groaners, but not enough to justify a warning.)
- Ruddigore: Originally in the second act, Old Adam was to have changed his name to Gideon Crawle when he turned evil along with his master. This change of name was undone, but one reference to Gideon Crawle inexplicably remained.
- Shakespeare had to deal with it (or at least his literary executors did): In the First Folio there are various references to things which were changed from the original "final" texts. For example in Henry IV there's a reference to Oldcastle in the stage directions, which is the name Falstaff first had until some descendants of the real Oldcastle complained. There's also a punny line that only works with the name Oldcastle.
- In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion there's a quest hook that can be added to your list about the Black Horse Courier needing more staff. The quest itself was never added to the game.
- In Portal2, while fighting Wheatley, he will comment that he didn't expect you to survive up till then because all the others he tried to escape with died. Word of God says that this was a reference to a subplot that was ultimately dropped, but they kept the line because they thought it sounded fitting and might incite curiosity into what happened while Chell was asleep.
- The eighth Episode of Umineko no Naku Koro ni makes a reference to Land of the Golden Witch, an arc which was supposed to be the original Episode 3 of the series. When the author saw that everyone found both Legend and Turn to be too difficult, he scrapped Land and released Banquet of the Golden Witch instead. In-universe, Land of the Golden Witch is the third message bottle from Rokkenjima that was never found.
- In the Linkara/Nostalgia Critic review of Superman 4, Linkara says "Did you know the Superman films have a parallel history to the Batman movies?" He then proceeds to cover the history of the first three Superman movies and never mentions Batman again. Not once. Obviously that scene was cut, which makes you wonder why they didn't cut that line, too.
- This CRACKED article lists some more severe cases.
- In An American Tail, Tony tells Fievel they need to go to a pier for the secret plan of the mice to get rid of the cats. Fievel replies "The pier? That's a scary place!", despite that Fievel was never shown at the pier before. It could have been one of the several scenes cut from the final film.