Created By: abateman on December 9, 2013 Last Edited By: abateman on December 12, 2013

Chekhov's Red Herring

When a detail is too obvious not to be significant... but is actually completely insignificant.

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Chekhov, master of the short story, gave this advice: if it's not essential, don't include it in the story... But sometimes people do it anyway. A camera shot or line of dialog or other Notice This implies that a detail is significant, either as a Shout-Out, Continuity Nod, Chekov's Gun, or foreshadowing.

But whether because the content it refers to was cut, because the creators are messing with the audience, or by total accident, the seemingly significant detail is never used again or explained.

This usually leads to Google searches and questions left on boards trying to figure out what it means, but as far as anyone can tell, it means nothing.

Unlike Red Herring, this is completely unrelated to the plot. It's not that the viewers or characters are being led astray for legitimate purposes, it's simply an oddly prominent, yet completely insignificant content.

Of course, it takes a Word of God to know for sure what happened, but otherwise, the internet just has to speculate.

In one of the first scenes of Doctor Who NS S2 E7 "The Idiot's Lantern", the camera angle places a license plate in the center of the shot. Given the show's propensity for Call-Back and Continuity Nod, this has to mean something, right? Nope.

Another example, from Doctor Who NSS 2 E 6 The Age Of Steel, is the final shot from the alternate universe, 2 centers on the van's license plate "N355 FWU", which really looks like it should mean something.

In Fallout: New Vegas, a number of computer terminals give the option of "Lucky 38 Executive Override", but performing the operation does nothing and no other part of the game ever references it. According to the Word of God, this was originally part of the quest, "The Moon Comes Over The Tower", but was cut.

In Metroid Prime, there is one, and only one, item in the whole game that can be scanned, but doesn't have any other purpose. The subversion makes it worse when the description says "An ornate wall hanging with a highly reflective surface. It does not appear important." This caused many players to waste untold time and return trips refusing to accept that it's truly unimportant.
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