Created By: PacificState on October 12, 2011 Last Edited By: PacificState on August 19, 2016

Narrative Capoeira

When you have no idea what the story is gonna do next

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Alternate title: Shrodinger Plot. It is known that TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life. In particular, Twain's Observation on Originality means that polished, hig-quality, condensed experiences have a tendency to be predictable to the Genre Savvy. Some Genre-Busting shows still manages to be like that because they respect conventions, either specific to their media/format, or common to good storytelling in general. A Wham Moment is when the sotry hits you with an unexpected blow either with the help of a distraction or through sheer speed and power. This trope is when the story pulls a move like this on you. You keep watching it, and it flows and all makes sense, but then, without any waring, it pulls off something wierd. You don't really know how to react. It throws you off balance, it challenges your notions of how a story should be told.

This Subjective Trope is about those shows whose extreme originality and keen sense for the Left-Fielder will cause you to be shocked and amazed, not matter how seasoned you are, either because none of this was ever seen before, or because of the incredibly unexpected way it is presented. Absurdist humor or art don't necessarily fit the bill though: you can still see what the author was doing, what message they intended to carry, what they meant to satirize... I also doesn't count if it makes no sense at all. An In Media Res surrealist clip with no narrative coherence or cohesion doesn't count.

Since many of the cases of this are surprises, either expect untagged spoilers or expect the entire description to be spoilered: the best way to experience this trope is to go watch the relevant shows without any preconceptions.

  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: possibly the Most Triumphant Example in mainstream japanese animation, this show's makers have gone out of their way to cause the viewer as much confusion and conflicted feelings, and utterly destroys every single trope it lays its smelly hands on. Angels sent from heaven are extremely beautiful insolent reckless immortals who are obsessed with their own very earthly pleasures rather than with doing their jobs, and are the epitome of every single of the Seven Deadly Sins (lazy, arrogant, lustful, greedy, gluttonous, short-tempered, and prone to envy) the priest is a Hard Gay masochist ephebophile who's nevertheless quite Bad Ass and competent, the demons are Lawful Neutral pseudo-nazi hypocritical moral prudes with some weird kinks, and God wears high-heels. And that's just some elements of the setting, don't get us started on the plots...
  • The endings of Evangelion tend to cause this reaction, whether TV or film. So much that it's been fiteen years and people are still trying to unravel what the hell they had watched (and now that they're mostly done save minor details, come the Rebuild films to add insult to injury). It also turns out that Hideaki Anno was deliberately messing with the audience from the start.
  • Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon: just read the page description.
  • Quality Meats: Flesh Straight Jacket by Michael Taflove. One question: "Why?"
  • Satoshi Kon usually averts this: his stories are psychedelic, yes, but they do follow a Dream Logic, and by the end it's usually pretty clear what elements where at which points for what purpose. His works are actually very coherent and polished once
  • Team Fortress 2 Fan Videos Can they have this effect on people? Nope...
  • South Park. They keep topping themselves: usually the plots make enough sense that you can follow them without too much trouble, but sometimes, especially in the early season... The Coon Trilogy involved what might well be the strangest, least dignified instance of Did You Just SOMETHING Cthulhu ever.
  • A lot of The Sandman can be like this: scenes are disconnected, plot developments don't make much sense... it's all mythology, you see.
  • Shutter Island and other Chris Nolan films narrowly avert this: they keep the viewer on their toes and in constant tension throughout the story, but they can always be followed if not outright anticipated: they're very polished, perfectionist works, where few if any lines are wasted.

Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • October 12, 2011
    Would a series full of wham episodes and Genre Busting be this?
  • October 12, 2011
    Tiger And Bunny did this for a lot of people, being a super hero genre anime which managed to play every single Super hero trope straight avoid most anime tropes and still be the biggest show out of all the anime's released that season.
  • October 12, 2011
    This seems to be very subjective (pretty much every show can be described in a way that shows it like this) and I think it's at least partially covered by Holy Shit Quotient. Also, you're really not supposed to describe the examples by writing "that is all", because that doesn't really say anything. I guess this would become a Fan Myopia trope.
  • October 12, 2011
    Well, the title is definitely out. Sounds like dialog.
  • October 12, 2011
    You mean dialogue lines are verboten? I'm sorry if I missed that memo.

    ^^^The first episode might throw one for a loop, especially the incredibly blatant product placement, but once you get used to its quirks this show is actually very straightforward. This is typical with Anime and Manga in that they tend to have very attention-grabbing openers designed to stand out from the mass of competing shows and hook the viewer into wanting to find out more: they take the concept of Season Premiere Up To Eleven. But they usually explain themselves no later than the second episode, and after that it tends to remain understandable or become more and more understandable as the stage gets set for the Grand Finale.

    This trope is more like, even after the story ended, you still go: "WTF was that for?"
  • October 13, 2011
  • October 13, 2011
  • October 14, 2011
    I really dislike the title.
  • October 14, 2011
    I'd suggest Gordian Plot.
  • October 14, 2011
    ^That title sounds more like a Dungeon Bypass, Nanoha-style.
  • March 4, 2012
  • March 5, 2012
    For most of Twin Peaks there is no knowing what's about to come next, as a consequence of there being Loads And Loads Of Characters and Lynch and Frost being far from afraid to add more.

    Actually, this applies to most David Lynch works I guess because it's all based on weird dream logic.

    This trope is weird because ... I think I know what you mean, but I also fear that this is going to become one of those tropes where people add their favourite shows just to PROVE that they're AWESOME. Like, even if it's a Monster Of The Week show: we could get entries along the lines of "In Episode 15 Jill and Pete find a crocodile monster... but it turns out the monster is the good guy and the farmer is the villain!"

    I don't know if that example made ANY sense, but I mean, I love Star Trek, but I know it's formulaic so it shouldn't go here. But what if someone fails to understand that?

  • March 5, 2012
    The current title Narrative Capoeira: so Capoeira is the most unpredictable martial art?

    Unpredictable Plot or Loads And Loads Of Plot Twists would be a lot easier to understand.
  • March 5, 2012
    Yea, I love the name, and laughed, but maybe it should just be a redirect.
  • March 10, 2012
    Rollercoaster Plot?

    • Gunnerkrigg Court fans drop guesses by dozens, but it became clear long ago that each next page will make more sense than any of them, yet a good prediction of what will happen on it is more of a lucky coincidence. This became one of the comic's main appealing points.
  • March 10, 2012
    Needs a lot of work on the description and examples (and a whitespace cull on that first example too) to differentiate it from Random Events Plot
  • August 18, 2016
    Compare Negative Continuity where you cam't guess what would happen next... because the story isn't expected to be continuous.
  • August 18, 2016
    SF Debris complimented the Star Trek Voyager episode "Prime Factors" for this:
    ''With that the episode ends and...Hey! What happened to the sinister plot or fight to the death? What kind of Star Trek episode is this without you knowing what's going to happen within the first five minutes of the show? If they don't knock this off, we're going to have actual tension here!"
  • August 19, 2016
    The WHAM tropes and HSQ seem to cover this trope pretty nicely.
  • August 19, 2016
    ^ I think so.