Created By: STUART on May 7, 2010 Last Edited By: Catbert on March 19, 2012

Unexplained Premise

Having a peculiar thing or power happen with no canonical in-universe reason given.

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Needs a Better Description

Formerly "Who's To Say Why".

Having a peculiar thing or power happen with no canonical in-universe reason given.

Examples:

Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • February 25, 2010
    melloncollie
    The Forbidden Kingdom? Jason gets warped back in time for reasons related to the Monkey King's staff, but there's no explanation as to how this happened or why.
  • February 25, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Donnie Darko, depending on which fan you ask. Also, the guy who created Pushing Daisies also did Wonderfalls, with the young woman who mysteriously starts getting mystical cryptic prophecies from various animal-shaped trinkets. At least she does actually try and find out why, but the trinkets are silent on the issue.
  • February 25, 2010
    MatthewTheRaven
    One of the main traits of Magical Realism.
  • February 25, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    It's never revealed why Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to find himself transformed into a monstrous vermin. Besides it being an analogue for the existential dronery that was his life.
  • February 25, 2010
    Unknown Troper

  • February 25, 2010
    MatthewTheRaven
    I meant to say, "This is Magical Realism," kill this.
  • February 27, 2010
    STUART
    Magical Realism seems to describe a genre and direction rather than a literary device. I'm a bit reluctant to discard this in its favor when there is no overlap between the examples here and the ones there.
  • February 27, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    I think this stuff is covered under Handwave, where they sort of try to explain it but decide it's not worthwhile, or Acceptable Breaks From Reality.
  • February 27, 2010
    pawsplay
    I think this is a valid trope, one that often appears in stuff like the Twilight Zone, the Amazing Stories TV show, and old pulp sci-fi. In sci-fi literary circles, this is usually called "one unbelievable thing" or "one impossible thing," i.e. the acceptable break from reality that is tolerated for the story. Different from other acceptable breaks in that it is the premise.
  • February 27, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    but is that just What If?
  • February 28, 2010
    joeyjojo
    bump
  • February 28, 2010
    Dcoetzee
    Given the examples here, I'm suggesting the name Unexplained Premise.
  • February 28, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    • Why do zombies come back in Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, Day Of The Dead, and Romero's other zombie films? Most people are quick to say "virus," but it's never once explained in universe. The closest that we get to an explanation is speculation in Night Of The Living Dead that it may be the result of an unknown form of radiation, but it's never confirmed, and neither is any other explanation- the concept of it being a virus is never once brought up, for that matter.
  • March 18, 2010
    foxley
    In the Connecticut Yankee example, it seems to be some kind of physic time travel brought on by a blow to the head from a crowbar at the start of the novel. It is sort of explained in the book.
  • March 18, 2010
    Amazingly Enough
    I think this is a distinct trope, but it needs to be carefully defined. It should be when the main premise of something is left unexplained not because it's handwaved away or because it's an acceptable break, but just because there IS no explanation. Magical Realism can have this as a trait, yes, but Magical Realism is also a specific genre that has other characteristics. The thing is, with an Unexplained Premise, it doesn't really matter why this stuff is happening, it just IS, and it's a trait that often shows up in horror because not knowing why something happens can make it even more frightening.

  • May 5, 2011
    TBeholder
  • May 11, 2011
    TBeholder
  • May 11, 2011
    jaytee
  • May 12, 2011
    TonyG
    The "Weirdness" in O Grady. In the first season Kevin gives a different explanation at the beginning of each episode.
  • May 15, 2011
    Glucharina
    It is definetely related with Anthropic Principle
  • May 15, 2011
    ArchiveDigger
    If a character is awesome, he is Inexplicably Awesome.
  • May 24, 2011
    TBeholder
    Magical Realism setting is "well, we're just used to do it"; this seems to be "something just fell on us from out of the blue, whatever, we have to deal with it now, not to get puzzled"
  • May 25, 2011
    jaytee
    Just a bump because I think this is a valid trope and I like it.

    Laconic should be "The single Acceptable Break From Reality that makes up the premise of a work."

    It can apply to settings of Magical Realism (although it isn't necessary; many magic realist works will have more than one break with reality or the breaks won't be the premise of the work), Urban Fantasy (everything is the same, except that wizards are real and live in NYC), Science Fiction (everything is the same except for the Applied Phlebotinum), etc etc.
  • August 19, 2011
    regresal
    bump
  • August 19, 2011
    MorganWick
    ...this seems to be "something just fell on us from out of the blue, whatever, we have to deal with it now, not to get puzzled"

    ..."it's just a show, you should really just relax."

    (I almost put two hyphens there. I have too much Homestuck on the brain.)
  • August 28, 2011
    ZombieAladdin
    Film: In Safe (1995, directed by Todd Haynes and starring Julianne Moore), Carol is suffering some mysterious sickness. Most of the characters, incluiding herself, blame it on pollution from living in a big city full of congested traffic, but no action to separate her from contagions seems to have any effect. She ultimately dies in an isolated chamber made specifically for people suffering from pollution sickness. No explanation is made for what makes her sick.
  • September 10, 2011
    TBeholder
    • The Day Of The Triffids. There are said and implied theories, but no one knows for sure where triffids came from, let alone abnormal meteor rain.
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    Can someone take this over and turn it into a workable trope idea?
  • February 18, 2012
    RossN
    The Birds. It's never explained why they suddenly turn on humans or why they stop either.
  • March 19, 2012
    TBeholder
    @ MorganWick: the audience's mental laziness out of principle does not really depend on the setting.
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