Needs More Examples
. Needs a Better Name
. Possible candidates: Elephant Shaped Hole In The Living Room
, Elephant Shaped Hole
, Conservation Of Missing Detail
. Input's welcome.
Every detail is important.
That's called the Law of Conservation of Detail
. Relevant plot information
is revealed on a need-to-know basis - because there are limits to the running time of the work and the audience's attention span. But what if time becomes less of an object, if, say, your show becomes a Long Runner
or gives rise to an Expanded Universe
? Does it still make sense that Nobody Poops
if your show has gone on for five years and has seen more and more Filler
material, Slice of Life
stories and Lower Deck Episodes
? When it seems increasingly unlikely that a given topic that pertains to the kind of situations the characters often get in has never been broached?
What had started out as an omission for the sake of the Law of Conservation of Detail
or the Rule of Cool
has now become an Elephant in the Living Room
, a conspicuous Artifact
in spite - or one could argue because
- of the convention that only the details actually shown are important. With more and more installments being churned out, the probability increases that not only the audience will call shenanigans but the people in charge, too, will want to address the missing detail, if only for laughs. Possible ways to deal with this include:
Alternatively, the omission may be addressed out-of-universe by Word of God
. There's always the possibility, however, that it never gets addressed and thus remains in Audience Reaction
territory, should it be impossible to ascertain whether the writers used the trope deliberately or not.
See There Are No Indexes
for popular candidates for this trope. Compare Forgotten Phlebotinum
. Contrast with Just Eat Gilligan
(where the omission is necessary). Find solace in Bellisario's Maxim
- Frasier: Maris. Not seen in the first season, her absence becomes a Running Gag in later seasons. (He Who Must Not Be Seen, The Ghost)
- Scars Of Mirrodin The Quest For Karn (a Magic: The Gathering novel): Melira (a major character and a Living MacGuffin). She's traveling with the heroes, but for three whole chapters she's never mentioned at all, as if the author has forgotten she exists.
- Star Trek is a prime candidate for this, with six shows and ten movies (in the original timeline) set in an extensive Science Fiction Verse.
- Toilets. Nobody Poops for over 30 years until that one Voyager episode where Neelix gets a comic-relief line about all the bathrooms on board being out of order and this being for some reason particularly tough on the Bolian crewmembers. (Averted Trope)
- Money and private enterprise. Fans have quarreled a long time over how the Federation economy works, mainly due to Ongoing Obvious Omission. While the topic is overwhelmingly left untouched by the hordes of writers who worked on the shows, the ones who did broach it did so rather enthusiastically on the no-money-in-the-future side. Besides Picard's speech on how humanity has moved beyond materialism in the 24th century in Star Trek: First Contact there's the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Neutral Zone (1987), where a Wall Street type from the 20th century is unfrozen and learns that his investments and bank accounts are non-existent in the 24th century. The argument can be made that the ever-expanding Federation has a massive surplus economy and the technology to freely convert most types of matter into basically anything at little energy expenditure and doesn't rely on individualistic enterpreneurial creativity, hence there might be no need or desire for the individual accumulation of wealth. Many argue, however, that there still must be some sort of currency to curtail individual energy expenditure and to conduct trade with other space states. (Refuge in Audacity)
- Dedicated ground forces. Only (definitely) shown on the Prequel show Enterprise with the MACOs (Military Assault Command Operations). Ongoing Obvious Omission seems to indicate that this United Earth military branch was not carried over to the United Federation of Planets. (Retcon, sort of)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Data's power source. While his anatomy and working principles are often the subject of on-screen debate and even Plot Points, there's never any mention of recharging or refueling.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Morn. Starts out as a random gloomy barfly extra but eventually becomes He Who Must Not Be Heard and a recognized recurring character. (The Voiceless)
- Star Trek: Voyager: The Aeroshuttle. There's a large detachable auxiliary craft visible docked at Voyager's ventral surface that is never used or even mentioned throughout the show. Instead, the crew builds one from scratch. While originally only its underside was designed and shown, after the series concluded, the designers went on to fully develop the Aeroshuttle's design for publication, never clearing up why it was never used on the show or if it was supposed to be there. (Flip Flop of God)
- Star Wars: Wheels. Largely neglected in favor of mechanical legs and repulsorlift technology but still in existence (R2D2 runs on wheels most of the time), possibly due to the Rule of Cool. The new trilogy has slightly more wheeled vehicles and droids. (Downplayed Trope)