In a nutshell: ''the world of a fictional universe isn't fixed beyond what the author has revealed to the reader''.

So, when faced with an impending OffTheRails event, the author can subtly tweak the facts the reader hasn't discovered yet to suit the changed plot. Improvisation masquerading as planning, if you will. For obvious reasons, this kind of plot event is pretty much impossible unless the work in question is either interactive or is written at such a scale that the author can change plot events based on what they hear in the fandom.

In the former case, the advantage to this trope is obvious--a GameMaster in a TabletopGame could be badly hamstrung by a player anticipating the general direction of the campaign and being [[CrazyPrepared prepared for anything]]. The subtle {{Retcon}} this trope provides is essential to keeping things interesting. Likewise, if it's necessary for the plot in a VideoGame to have the PlayerCharacter meet TheRival early on but they're technically [[WideOpenSandbox free to go anywhere they want]], this trope is essential to keeping the plot together.

The trope has also become increasingly important in more traditional fiction as of late because the Internet's technological revolution is such that an author's "[[MovieTwistList twists]]" could easily be predicted ahead of time if enough [[{{Fanon}} clever fans]] [[TVTropesWillRuinYourLife put their heads together]] and [[WildMassGuessing talk things over]]. (And [[EpilepticTrees over]].) Catching wind of this, an author might then avoid being predicted by "coalescing" Schrödinger's Gun into a [[TrickTwist sniper rifle]], [[FlashbackTwist uzi]], or [[MeaninglessVillainVictory rocket launcher]] as the situation requires. Since these cases involve more conscious improvisation, readers are more likely to consider the possibility that the writer doesn't actually know what they're doing and is just [[{{Jossed}} jerking them around]], if not [[WritingByTheSeatOfYourPants making it up entirely]] [[IndyPloy as they go along]].

In interactive media such as video games, this trope can take the form of setting details retroactively warping themselves around the player's choices in ways that cannot be logically caused by the player character's in-universe choice -- for example, when the [[YourPrincessIsInAnotherCastle real location]] of [[MacGuffin an artifact]] you seek throughout the campaign is dependent on the order in which you visit its possible locations. In effect, your choices in the game affect not where you end up, but ''where you began''.

A helpful way to look at this is how sometimes MysteryFiction authors will constantly feed the audience [[RedHerring "clues"]] supposedly narrowing down the possible suspects, only to select the "right" clue as a ChekhovsGunman by the denouement and fit the facts around it. Similarly, in movies it is common practice to write most of the story - and only then pick the ending that [[FocusGroupEnding resonates the best with the test audience.]]

Also known as "Railschroding" (forgive the pun) because it can easily be used for {{Railroading}} purposes.

The larger principle behind Schrödinger's guns is ChandlersLaw.

Similar to the AscendedFanon as applied to world-building.

This can be a form of CuttingOffTheBranches. ItMayHelpYouOnYourQuest is related, but use of this trope doesn't necessarily imply the writers themselves don't know yet what's going to happen. A fictional character taking a similar approach to their master plan is playing XanatosSpeedChess. Contrast {{Retcon}} (compare the {{Revision}} variant). See also MultipleChoicePast, where this happens when something gets different origins over a period of time and different writers.

Compare WritingByTheSeatOfYourPants, [[SchrodingersSuggestionBox Schrödinger's Suggestion Box]]. A subtrope is [[SchrodingersQuestion Schrödinger's Question]].

See also the UsefulNotes regarding [[UsefulNotes/SchrodingersCat Schrödinger's Cat]].



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''LightNovel/SwordArtOnline'', [[spoiler:Heathcliff]] reveals that he changed the previously unused and unobtainable skill "Dual Blades" into a player unique skill in order to designate which player would have the right to try and defeat him as the endboss. While granting the Unique Skills to special players was something he planned to do all along, his cover was blown prematurely, so he had to face his challenger a lot earlier than he had planned.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* A ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'' ChooseYourOwnAdventure involves the Joker deciding to kill half of Gotham's population. Batman decides that involves piping poison from a utility. The Joker is always at the first utility one chooses to investigate.
* The villain of Franchise/TheDCU CrisisCrossover ''ComicBook/{{Armageddon 2001}}'', the mysterious Monarch, was originally intended to be the superhero ComicBook/CaptainAtom. After fans figured it out too soon, DC changed the story, and the Monarch wound up being a different superhero entirely. (However, the ''[[LegacyCharacter latest]]'' Monarch, villain of ''ComicBook/CountdownToFinalCrisis'', actually ''was'' Captain Atom ([[HeelFaceTurn but he got better]]). You couldn't make this stuff up.)
* And it happened again at DC when they were publishing ''ComicBook/FiftyTwo''. The character Booster Gold and his robot buddy Skeets are from the future. In the first few issues, Skeets' records of current events become incorrect, which makes Booster suspect another time traveler is [[MakeWrongWhatOnceWentRight trying to alter history]]. Writer Creator/GrantMorrison balked at this, saying that the "fix the future" storyline had been done before. The editor would only allow him to change it if he could come up with an alternate explanation for Skeets' behavior. Morrison's response: [[spoiler:"Because... he's evil?"]] -- which wound up completely changing Booster's storyline and others in the series.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpa'' fanfic ''FanFic/HopeOnADistantMountain'', the events of the visual novel turn out to be a virtual simulation. One of the programmers supervising Naegi's sim exploited this by changing the identity of the Mastermind before it was ever revealed. When asked why, he proclaimed that this made a better PlotTwist, as their original choice seemed 'too obvious'.

* Masterfully applied in [[Film/{{Clue}} the movie]] about the [[BoardGames board game]] ''TabletopGame/{{Clue}}''. It has [[MultipleEndings endings]] for several characters where they are the killer, and of course they FlashBack [[RetCon retroactively]] showing how ''only they'' could ever ''possibly'' be the killer. Each theatre showed it with one of three different endings. The VHS release showed all three endings straight through, and the DVD lets you do it either way, with a random ending or with all three. In the ''end'' end, [[spoiler:Mr. Green reveals himself as working for the government and that "They all did it!" Take them away boys]]!
-->''[[spoiler:But if you want to know who killed Mr. Boddy, it was me, in the Hall, with the Revolver. [[MistakenForGay Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home and]] [[HaveIMentionedIAmHeterosexualToday sleep with my wife]].]]''
** The final ending is itself a parody of the game, in which the killer could win by exposing himself. [[InnocentInnuendo Not like that.]]
* the 1995 movie ''"Mr. Payback"'' had the audience vote at several points to determine how the movie proceeded.

* Just about every ''Literature/ChooseYourOwnAdventure'' book does this heavily, in order to keep it interesting through multiple re-reads.
* Rampant in the ''Literature/GiveYourselfGoosebumps'' books. There'll at the very least be a major choice near the beginning that divides the book in half (say, try to give the magic book back or try to hide it), and the entire setup, the very nature of the situation you're in, will be completely different depending on which you choose. Then other decisions will cause the same thing to happen on a smaller scale. Worst, often there'll be a situation in which you have a single decision where both lead to a quick death and an unhappy end, but the nature of what was putting you in danger is not the same depending on which you pick.
* Chuck Palahniuk has mentioned in interviews that he got stuck at the ending of ''Literature/FightClub'' until he read over what he had written earlier and found the line [[spoiler: "paraffin has never, ever worked for me"]].
* Creator/MatthewReilly said that, in ''Contest'', the way to kill the [[NighInvulnerable Karanadon]] - [[spoiler:with Swain's explosive wristband]] - came to him completely out of the blue.
* Lampshaded in Literature/TheHobbit. From Chapter 8 "Flies and Spiders." Also justified as, at this point, Bilbo was in his 50s and little has been said of his hobbies or activities before being recruited by Gandalf.
-->''...and even grownup [Bilbo] had still spent a deal of his time at quoits, dart-throwing, shooting at the wand, bowls, ninepins and other quiet games of the aiming and throwing sort--indeed he could do lots of things, besides blowing smoke-rings, asking riddles and cooking, that I haven't had time to tell you about. There is no time now.''
* Implemented in-universe in ''Literature/LabyrinthOfReflections''. The hero is playing ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}''-based virtual reality game and, after reaching the end of a mirror maze ThatOneLevel (also serving as TitleDrop), finds himself encircled by a monster with a lazer gun and its 12 reflections. Unable to determine where the real monster is, he fires randomly, shatters all the mirrors but runs out of ammo and is killed by real enemy. When he respawns, other character tells him that TheComputerIsACheatingBastard and the real monster is always the last one to die.
* "Schrödinger's Gun" is the title of a [[ short story]] about a detective who uses something similar to this trope in-universe to solve murders.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/BattlestarGalactica2003'':
** The "Helo on Caprica" plot in the first season was like this. Favorable fan reaction to Helo upgraded him to MauveShirt, and a new plot was born. It's actually evolved to the point of being an entire series long affair, which in retrospect the writers may have never considered until the miniseries was over and done with.
** Likewise the final five Cylons, when revealed, are practically Schrödinger's Hit-squad. All were perfectly plausibly human until the revelation, and [[spoiler: Tyrol even went through an "Am I a Cylon?" existential crisis and was told by an existing Cylon that he wasn't!]] But after the revelation, things still fit with them being Cylons, especially as certain things assumed to be the case about them, but never outright stated, turned out to be incorrect. The series kept its word that "anyone can be a Cylon."
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** During production, Creator/JMichaelStraczynski planned the ''B5'' plot out for a 5-year arc. However, he also made plans for RealLifeWritesThePlot. Indeed, the show didn't even end as he had originally meant for it to end, due to changing station commanders between seasons 1 and 2, changing several major plot points. And if you were just watching the show, you probably wouldn't have noticed (much).
** One particular noteworthy instance of a double-Schrödinger for the same plotline. Lyta Alexander was introduced in the pilot as a telepath who got to see and have mental contact with a Vorlon, thus establishing her connection with them and providing possible material for [[TookALevelInBadass leveling her up later]]. However, because the actress had other obligations Lyta didn't make it to the first season. Instead, Talia Winters was introduced, also a telepath. And she was also given a plot arc that actually began the process of leveling her up. Then, the actress playing her proved too much of a prima donna (and went through a nasty divorce from Garibaldi's actor), so she left. But they got Lyta's actress back, so they just went on and did what was originally intended. There was also a setup in place in case they needed to bring Talia back (Kosh backed up her brain), but it never went anywhere.
** The obvious actor/role substitutions: Jeffrey Sinclair/John Sheridan; Carolyn Sykes/Catherine Sakai/Anna Sheridan; Laurel Takashima/Ivanova/Lockley. Minor aversion with Ivanova, as she wasn't a straight substitution. [[spoiler: Originally, Takashima was a traitor. Instead, it's Garibaldi's aide.]] WordOfGod is this was done because JMS let slip that [[spoiler: Takashima would have become a traitor.]] So instead he gave that to someone else, and tossed in the occasional RedHerring regarding Ivanova for those who thought she was a straight substitution as subtle misdirection.
* Each season of ''Series/TwentyFour'' has lots of shots of various characters giving significant looks and suspicious glances, so when TheMole is revealed, no matter who it is the audience has already been given a lot of seemingly suspicious behavior to justify it.
* The new ''Series/DoctorWho'' set one of these up with the Master. After his death and cremation in the 2007 series, an unidentified hand reaches in and takes a ring he wears. Russell T Davies had no long-term plan for this, and did not assign the hand to anyone in particular. It was meant as a hook for whoever wanted to bring the Master back next. As it turns out, ''he'' ended up using it for his era's GrandFinale before Moffat took over.
* ''Series/TheWestWing'':
** The final season election had Santos' speechwriter do these, then additional permutations (won but lost home state, lost but won home state, etc.) were brought up for the contingency speech list...
** This was done frequently in earlier seasons, too, and tied into Toby's general paranoia about counting unhatched electoral chickens. During the blowout midterm election he reveals that he has prepared a concession speech just in case. And there's a dark echo in the beginning of season 5, after [[spoiler: Zoey Bartlett is kidnapped]]. Toby is seen preparing two sets of remarks - one for use if [[spoiler: Zoey]] comes back alive and well, one for ... otherwise.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* A campaign example for the [[TabletopGames Tabletop Game]] ''[[Franchise/{{Pokemon}} Poké]][[CosmicHorror thulhu]]'' involves the players "choosing between four houses for shelter". The book explicitly says that no matter which house the party chooses, it will be the one which contains the plot devices.
* Included as an explicit character creation option in the TabletopRPG ''FATE''. When using this option, players start play with an essentially "blank" character sheet, and fill in skills as the play progresses. For example, if a character is stuck behind a locked door, the player can declare that his character has the lockpicking skill and fill it in in one of his skill slots.
** The gamebook for the FATE-based [[TabletopGame/TheDresdenFiles Dresden Files RPG]] specifically mentions that this applies whether or not the character has had an opportunity to use the skill before or even ''already rolled it at baseline level,'' both because there can be in-story reasons for a character to hide their skill and, more importantly, because it's simply more fun not having to worry about it every single time a potential skill check comes up.
* The "Gizmo" advantage in ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}''. This advantage allows the player to be carrying around an unspecified "gizmo", which he may at any time "pull out" and declare it to be whatever device he wants it to be (that he could have reasonably possessed). Additionally, the gizmo does not "enter play" until activated, so it cannot be damaged, lost, stolen, or uncovered in a search.
** The same is true in ''TabletopGame/{{Toon}}'' -- Steve Jackson games love this trope.
* This is essentially how ''TabletopGame/BurningWheel'' works: If you say that you want to kick a bowl of fruit into the guard's face to create a distraction, then there will be a bowl of fruit right there for you to kick. It wasn't there until you said it was. Essentially, the players all have Schrödinger's Gun, to an extent.
** ''TabletopGame/{{Houses of the Blooded}}'' is similar. When a player rolls for something, it's generally the right to decide things about the scene or how actions turn out. The rules explicitly state that you can decide pretty much anything that hasn't specifically been established yet.
*** There are several other games which allow the players to retroactively decide minor aspects of the current scene, such as ''TabletopGame/FengShui'' and ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}''.
** ''TabletopGame/{{Adventure}}!'' handles this with a game mechanic: players can spend points to perform a Dramatic Edit and declare that there is e.g. a [[AbsurdlySpaciousSewer convenient manhole cover]] in the blind alley they've run down. This is great when the players ''only'' need to use it to collaboratively make situations more awesome, but less great when, as it sometimes does, it becomes a sort of ablative defense against railroading (why would the GM decide it was a blind alley in the first place?).
** In ''Wushu'', everything happens exactly as the players describe it. Additionally, the more complicated and [[RuleOfDrama dramatic]] a description is, the more dice the players receive, providing massive incentive to weave complicated and dramatic descriptions. To prevent complete insanity, actions can be vetoed by another player or the GM, and there's generally a "pool limit" maximum dice cap.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Nobilis}}'' has The Monarda Law, which states that the answer to a PC's question should almost never be a flat-out "no". Additionally, in that game, prophecies explicitly work by the GM throwing out a lot of [[IceCreamKoan meaningless]] [[FauxSymbolism symbolism]] -- when the [=PCs=] offer a plausible explanation, it is assumed to be true, and any action they take on it gains a bonus.
** [[spoiler: The John Tynes TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu scenario ''In Media Res'' uses a very similar device: You're given a whole heap of weird symbolism to throw at the players, and whatever they decide it means, it means.]]
*** And really, the whole idea of it is a pretty common GameMaster trick: Throw out an ambiguous scenario with a lot of plot hooks, see which one the players respond to, and run with it like it's the baton at a relay.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' and its modern cousin ''TabletopGame/{{Scion}}'' both rely on a [[RuleOfCool Stunting system]]. Do it with style, and even if it is utterly ludicrous, it's more likely to succeed than if done boringly. For the most part, "stunts" involve pieces of the environment that the players make up as they go along. Asking if something exists in the scene should be met with "It does now."
* The ''[[ DC Heroes RPG]]'' had a similar feature. A PC may spend a few of his/her Hero Points to decree the existence of specific objects in his vicinity, if the GM agrees to allow them.
** Then there's the Omni-Gadgets. "Whaddya know, this 8 AP Omni-Gadget in my belt is a Force Field generator!".
** In the next edition they added the Omni-Connection advantage. "Paradyne Technologies? What luck, an old buddy of mine from college is the VP of Marketing there!".
* It is explicitly written into the rules of ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'' that anything the GM says goes. ''Anything''. The GM is perfectly free to roll a 5 and declare it a 17. Similarly, players may discover that they had mutations they were unaware of, that the NPC they're assigned to kill suddenly belongs to their secret society now, or that their weapon was actually sabotaged by Communists, or that while they were fleeing from a renegade robot they caused an Ultraviolet citizen a twenty minute delay in his routine. If it doesn't contradict established fact, or if the GM can invent a justification for why it doesn't, then it's all good. (Although, considering that this is ''Paranoia'', contradicting established fact is perfectly acceptable behavior.)
* In the new Czech RPG Střepy snů (''Dreamshards''), this is a mechanic given to the players -- if you want to have done something in the past that could help you in the current situation (or if you simply want something to be a certain way), you can burn one of your dream points and it's part of the game now. Hiding in a basement and the only way out is besieged by zombies? One dream point later, you can leave through the secret door (that you most certainly installed) into the tunnels below.
* ''TabletopGame/SpiritOfTheCentury'' is fond of this one. The languages that a character knows need not be specified at creation. A character can spend "Fate Points" in order to make declarations about the scene in their favor or create weird coincidences (e.g. "I declare that the guard holding us hostage was my college roommate"). Players can use knowledge skills to make similar declarations (so an expert in architecture can "create" a secret passage in a building by declaring that he or she learned such in his or her research). Furthermore, numerous stunts allow for Schrödinger's Gun situations, like Universal Gadget, which once per session lets the player create a better-than-off-the-shelf custom item on the spot and introduce it into the game just just when he or she needs it (the character may have had it all along or [[MacGyvering simply be really good at improvisation]]), or Master of Disguise, which allows a character to effectively stop playing, then later declare that any unimportant character "is really ''me'' in disguise!" The game also gives rules for on the fly character creation, which works similar to the ''FATE'' example above -- unsurprisingly, as it's based on another version of the same system.
* ''Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies'' and other [[TabletopGame/ProseDescriptiveQualities PDQ]] system games are fond of this one - there's usually a power currency (Style Dice, Hero Points) to let the players declare significant facts about the game, such as inventing useful [=NPCs=] or giving them new abilities. [=S7S=] even encourages players to make flat statements that something exists and tossing a Style Die down, as opposed to asking if it's so and having to pay the cost the GM sets (though the GM should ask for more dice on particularly large changes anyway).
** [=PDQ2=] rules game ''Vox'' has a starting scenario to run character creation similar to a [=FATE=] game, where you choose what you can do as you need to do it until all your abilities are set.
* ''[[TabletopGame/{{Champions}} Pulp Hero]]'' has "floating perquisites" such as Floating Contacts and Floating Favors that a character can buy and leave undefined when they are purchased during character construction. These Contacts and Favors represent a character who is so widely traveled he potentially has friends who owe him favors ''everywhere in the world''. The player can define who these Contacts are whenever he feels the need to call on one. Once the player uses them, though, they become regularly defined Contacts and Favors.
* ''TabletopGame/MageTheAwakening'' uses this as a game mechanic for [[TheArchmage archmasters]]. To represent their capacity for [[SuperIntelligence superhuman mental abilities]], they have a pool of points that let them interrupt a scene and explain how they had [[CrazyPrepared prepared for it]] in advance, ranging from retroactively being ProperlyParanoid to setting up a full GambitRoulette scenario.

* ''Theatre/{{Drood}}'', a musical based on ''Literature/TheMysteryOfEdwinDrood'', stops the action at the point where Creator/CharlesDickens' death left the novel unfinished and then uses audience votes to determine the villain, lovers and true identity of Dick Datchery.
* ''Shear Madness'' allows audience members to question all the suspects and vote on the identity of the murderer. The audience is always "correct" - That is, the play has multiple endings and whoever the audience chooses always turns out to have been the killer.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Some computer games (especially InteractiveFiction, given that it is just one step away from a table-top RPG) can do this. For example, in ''VideoGame/PeasantsQuest'', at one point, there are four bushes with a trinket hidden in one of them. No matter what order you go to the bushes, the trinket is ''always'' in the fourth bush you look in.
* Plenty of InteractiveFiction games use this to let the player configure his character.
** The classic Creator/{{Infocom}} game ''VideoGame/LeatherGoddessesOfPhobos'' does this, where you have to go to the bathroom, and whatever room you choose -- ladies' or men's -- ends up being the correct one.
*** The same goes for ''Ballyhoo'': you need to get into the circus in order to save a certain DamselInDistress, and you need a ticket (and a character configuration) to get through. Once you get a ticket, you'll have to punch out a blue dot (for male) or a pink dot (for female) before you can insert the ticket there. Whichever dot you punched out becomes the correct answer.
** A less known IF game called ''Enlisted'' pulls it off for the same reason, where you get your uniform out of a dispensing machine, and what settings you set it to (short, tall, etc), turn out to be the right ones.
** In an even less known IF game called ''Amnesia'' the main character closes his eyes and visualizes his appearance, to check how badly he's affected by the titular condition: your choices of features turn out to be completely wrong. [[MindScrew Dude be whack.]]
* ''Moonmist'' does this with your favorite color -- which color you choose determines how your bedroom is decorated, and also (no causal relationship) who the villain is.
* ''Aisle'' type one-move games take this to the logical extreme: you get only one move and the world need not be internally consistent since each world instance ends after that single move. For example, in the parody game ''Pick Up The Phone Booth and Aisle'', climbing shows you to be [[spoiler:a mountain climber]], whereas entering the titular object reveals [[spoiler:that you're a spy]].
* Some IF designers call this the Magician's Choice, and it's a very good way to turn an initially wide-open map into a small one. Whatever direction the hero goes, that's the right way to go. See Creator/AdamCadre's ''VideoGame/{{Photopia}}'', for instance.
* Creator/{{Sierra}} [[AdventureGame Adventure Games]]. If the programmers can't kill your character off with something because you noticed it, they may not bother with it at all. Your car only has a fault if you don't perform the safety inspection. (''VideoGame/PoliceQuest 1''). The policeman's only there if you're indecent. (''VideoGame/LeisureSuitLarry''). There's only a car coming if you don't LookBothWays. (''VideoGame/TheDaggerOfAmonRa''). The biggest example is in the latter: giving the wrong item to a speakeasy doorman would make the game {{Unwinnable}}, so it also causes a completely random person to walk in from offscreen and stab the protagonist to death. The game then quotes [[HaveANiceDeath knife crime statistics]].
* In the horror [=RPG=]/adventure game ''[[VideoGame/{{Elvira}} Elvira 2 - The Jaws of Cerberus]]'', there are three places where Elvira may be hidden. No matter in what order you reach them, the first two Elviras will be fake and transform into monsters.
* In ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTheSacredStones'', there's a plot choice point of which main character to follow. Excluding the main character, you get all the current secondary characters ''and'' the same new characters (with a few exceptions) appear in each chapter. Your chosen lord will even have the same encounters with the BigBad and [[spoiler: the BigBad will always take the Sacred Stone from whichever lord you picked.]]
** That being said, there ''is'' a difference in the routes, at least storyline wise. In Eirika's, [[spoiler: Lyon's spirit is subsumed and killed by the demon king's.]] In Ephraim's, [[spoiler: Lyon's spirit ''unites'' with the demon king's and does a full (if very [[TearJerker sad]]) FaceHeelTurn.]]
* In ''VideoGame/SeikenDensetsu3'', the player can choose three party members for the whole game: one main character and two support characters. Whoever the player picks as the main character becomes the only one who can wield the Mana Sword, and it also determines which of the three evil factions wins the race to the Holy Land, and which of the three [[BigBad final bosses]] the player ends up fighting.
* Seen in ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiSuperstarSaga'' in a boss battle at Joke's End. When Jojora asks the Mario Bros. which of her friends should come (and beat the crap out of them, presumably), the player is given the choice of four different names, which seem to refer to four different possible enemies. However, no matter which one you pick, Jojora's friend will look and fight exactly the same. The only thing your choice really affects is what name the battle display refers to her as, as well as if you have a chance at a hidden item.
* Used extensively in ''VideoGame/IllusionOfGaia'', due to Will's ability to guess any question correctly. It is demonstrated at the beginning of the game, where Will is asked to pick a card. No matter what the player picks, it is the right one. It resurfaces much later for a WireDilemma, where the player simply has to remember that Will is psychic and make a decision quickly.
** For the WireDilemma, it might be subverted as [[spoiler:the bomb doesn't explode at all if the bosses are defeated. Maybe it's some kind of boss-powered device?]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Fahrenheit}}'' has a tarot card reading about half way through. No matter which card you pick or in what order, you get the same ominously creepy message. It seems you really YouCantFightFate.
* In ''VideoGame/TacticsOgre'', there's a branching off point at the end of the first chapter of the game. You have to choose whether to kill a group of prisoners in order to frame the BigBad. (It's complicated and political). If you choose to kill the prisoners, your best friend will reveal himself to be incredibly noble and oppose you and all governments, and throughout the game form LaResistance until you become TheAtoner. If you choose not to kill the prisoners, your best friend will reveal himself to be the biggest asshole ever and side with the killers just to gain power.
** In a way, this is a bizarre SadisticChoice. You cannot be a spotless hero and at the same time have your best friend be a good guy (and alive) by the end of the game.
* In ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublicIITheSithLords'', you can answer various questions about past events, such as Revan's fate in the first game and the color of the lightsaber the Jedi Council took away from you, and the answers retroactively determine what happened.
** As well, depending on which side you pick on Onderon, an opposing NPC will either be a mercenary or a patriot.
* In the ''VideoGame/StarOcean'' games, in order to keep some kind of weird ArbitraryHeadcountLimit, you can only pick certain party members; which prevents you from getting others, who just aren't available anymore.
** Or, in one particularly egregious case (Bowman), just not interested in traveling with you anymore.
* ''VideoGame/{{Drakengard}}'' has what might be the most strenuous version of this. Depending on which ending you get the very fabric of reality functions differently. Your Dragon might be the only thing that can save the world, or you may be destined to destroy her lest she destroy the world.
* At one point in ''VideoGame/{{Fable|I}}'', a key is hidden in one of three books. No matter what, the key is always in the second book you pick.
* In the second ''NES'' ''VideoGame/ChipNDaleRescueRangers'' game, the player faces a WireDilemma when defusing a bomb. Any choice turns out to be the right one, though one causes the screen to flash white with a boom, [[FissionMailed then revert back as one character says "Just kidding!"]]
* The "It's War" chapter of ''VideoGame/ConkersBadFurDay'' has a pair of levers near a soldier strapped to an electric chair. Whichever lever Conker pulls first will electrocute the soldier, and the other lever opens a door.
* The ''Film/BladeRunner'' AdventureGame had several plot points (such as whether characters were replicants or not) decided either at random in each game, or depending on the choices the player made.
* ''VideoGame/DeadRising'': [[spoiler: Did Barnaby manage to bite Jessie when he started turning into a zombie? Only if you start case 8-1. If the truth vanishes into darkness before then, no he didn't.]]
* At two different points in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 3}}'', you can join one of three clubs. No matter which club you choose, the characters for the related social link will ''always'' be members of that club. It's most obvious with the Culture Clubs, as Yukari says Fuuka is a member of one of them, but can't remember which -- it turns out to be whichever one you end up joining.
** To a lesser degree, the Athletic Club in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'' -- you're still hanging out with [[ThoseTwoGuys Kou and Daisuke]] -- only difference is which one is the focus character.
** At the end of ''Persona 3 Portable'', if you're playing as the female protagonist, or the male one on subsequent playthroughs, and have romanced at least one character, then [[spoiler:you will hear a voice and the game asks you to specify whose voice. Whoever you pick dictates which character reaches the roof just in time to [[DiedInYourArmsTonight witness your final moments of life]].]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Riven}}'', the passcode near the end of the game [[spoiler: which unlocks Catherine's prison]] is randomly generated the first time you see it, retroactively setting the lock to that code. It is impossible to open the lock without having first seen the passcode. This prevents a [[MediumAwareness medium-aware]] player from saving the game early, finding out the code, loading the saved game, and then opening the lock much earlier in the game, which would have required the designers to come up with a completely different ending. (Note that the ''other'' randomly-generated passwords are not Schrödingified, so you can use this trick to unlock them ahead of time.)
* In ''VideoGame/CaveStory'', choosing to avoid speaking to an injured old man A) determines whether or not his injuries are fatal (they are only fatal if you talk to him) and also B) determines whether or not there is a vitally important rope among the junk on the floor of a room entered later, which appears to have been sealed for many years. (The rope is only there if you didn't talk to the old man.)
* From ''VideoGame/AceCombat'':
** You finally bring down a Yellow Squadron bird in the "Stonehenge" mission of ''VideoGame/AceCombat04ShatteredSkies''. No matter which one gets shot down, though, it's always [[spoiler: Yellow 4]] who bites it. Later averted with [[spoiler:the remains of the squadron in the final mission]], where if you manage to shoot them down in the right order you get to hear their panicked reactions as the chain of command is passed down along the squadron.
** ''VideoGame/AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar'' also averts this, as every encounter with an ace squadron has them react accordingly to which ones you shoot down first. It's most notable with the Gelb team at the end of mission 6, as there's only two of them.
* In the ''VideoGame/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy'' text adventure game, there are 12 or so [[ChekhovsGun Chekhovs Guns]] to collect. The bad news is you'll need one at random at the end of the game or you'll die. The other bad news is the "random" one you need is always one you don't have unless you have them all. It's a cruel game.
* ''[[VideoGame/InFamous inFAMOUS]]'' examples:
** The game employs this to make its SadisticChoice even worse. [[spoiler: Your girlfriend Trish is always on the tower you ''didn't'' save, regardless of what the BigBad says.]] Justified as [[spoiler: Kessler is actually Cole from the future, which means he can predict what would Cole do in that situation.]]
** Both games also include an optional series of Dead Drops that flesh out the story. Their locations are fixed, but no matter what order you visit them in, you'll always find the first Dead Drop at the first site you visit, the second at the second, and so on. This means the story itself will always make sense, but where you ''find'' it may not. (For instance, some of John's messages are recorded during the part of the story where travel between the three boroughs is difficult or impossible, but if you wait till late in the game to pick them up, they may be scattered all over town.)
* ''VideoGame/BaldursGate II'' has a sidequest where one of your companions returns home to find his sister has been murdered, and an investigation is still in progress. His father is convinced it was a hit from a rival and tells you to kill him in revenge. [[MortonsFork If you kill the rival, you later find out that he was innocent; if you spare him, he was guilty all along.]]
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphoniaDawnOfTheNewWorld'', Emil is asked to guess which of Lloyd's companions joined him at the end of ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia''. Since it was based on RelationshipValues there, ''any'' answer could be a correct one, and, indeed, no matter what Emil (that is, the player) guesses, Lloyd admits that he guessed correctly.
* In ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum'', at one point Batman must search three body bags in order to continue. No matter what order he opens the actual bags in, the result is always the same. [[spoiler: His dad's body, his mother's body, and then Scarecrow. (Justified, as it's a hallucination)]] Also, no matter what order you collect the audio logs in, they are always the next in the set, as are the Spirit of Arkham messages.
* In ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamKnight'', when Batman manages to corner Scarecrow aboard the airship, he starts hallucinating two different Scarecrows along with the Joker telling him to "Pick the real Scarecrow!" No matter which Scarecrow you choose, right or left, it's always the wrong one and the real Scarecrow douses you with another dose of his fear toxin. Conveniently, the game also disables all of Batman's techniques that would allow him to attack both Scarecrows at once, preventing you from TakingAThirdOption.
* An experience while playing ''VideoGame/DejaVu'' seemed like a literal Schrödinger's Gun: trying to shoot the gun-toting mugger resulted in him firing first for a game over. Restarting and giving in to his demands the next time around let him escape while claiming that the gun wasn't even loaded. Of course, that could just be the mugger kicking you when you're down.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' you may end up with plot-relevant fights halfway through traveling, no matter where you are, and there are dozens of them. Even if you meet a bunch of elves defending themself against some darkspawn in the far northwest near the dwarven home, while the elven woods are southeast and the darkspawn isn't actually rare on the surface that far north.
** The origin stories always end with Duncan bailing your ass out of trouble, which every origin you choose will be the place Duncan decided to recruit a new Grey Warden. It is implied if you go back to those places as a different origin that what happened happened but without Duncan saving that would-be hero. The Dwarven Noble, the second child of King Endrin, was framed for murdering his brother and killed on the Deep Roads; the Dwarven Commoner died in jail, refusing to eat; the human noble was killed by Creator/TimCurry, etc.
** ''Awakening'' is an aversion if you don't import a Warden; there is a default outcome for everything that the Orlesian Warden Commander will arrive to (Alistair is [[spoiler: king,]] etc.)
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition''
** Schematics for elemental runes (Fire, Frost, etc.) are found as ancient glyphs on the walls in various locations, only readable using Veilfire. Each element has 3 levels of runes: normal (no prefix), Master and Superb, and therefore may be found in 3 different locations. However, you cannot find the higher-level runes before you have found the lower-level ones. In a normal playthrough you are supposed to find the Fire Rune in The Hinterlands (the lowest-level area), the Master Fire Rune in The Western Approach (a middle-level area) and the Superb Fire Rune in The Hissing Wastes (the highest-level area). Yet if you choose to ignore the glyphs in the lower-level areas you may change or even reverse the order (i.e. the content of the ancient glyphs in all locations is in fact decided by the order in which you choose to read them).
** Inquisition uses a similar set-up to ''Origins'' for the PlayerCharacter. Four people[[note]]or maybe five or six; it depends on whether or not the human and elven mages are counted as separate individuals from their non-mage versions[[/note]] attended the Conclave. A human, as a member of either the Chantry delegation or the mage delegation depending on whether or not s/he is a mage. A Dalish elf sent to spy. A dwarven smuggler sent to spy and steal treasure while everyone was occupied. And a [[HornedHumanoid vashoth]] mercenary, sent along with several other members of their band to provide security for the event. At some point during the proceedings, [[spoiler:one of those four overheard [[HighPriest the Divine]] being attacked and rushed off to help]]. That one is the one the player chose as their character. The three that were not chosen were killed by the [[HellGate Breach]] along with thousands of others.
* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII'' does this with The Truth. No matter what order you find the glyphs, the segments of the video and puzzles will always be found in the same order, possibly because Subject 16 shares the same memories of Ezio's travels, and [[ForegoneConclusion subsequently knew in what order you'd visit the places he marked for the pieces of The Truth]], or because the glyphs work the same way in the Animus as they do in the game.
* Averted in ''VideoGame/HeavyRain''. The eventual set of [[TheReveal reveals]] rely heavily on [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall fourth-wall shenanigans]] and mess with the player's expectations from the standpoint of someone playing a game as much as from the plot itself similar to ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic II'', so it's likely that this was a deliberate decision intended to give more value to the first playthrough.
* In the FMV-based adventure game ''VideoGame/{{Ripper}}'' by Creator/Take2Interactive, the titular serial murderer has four possible identities, depending on how the player pursue the investigation ([[spoiler:one of them being the main character's girlfriend]]).
* At the end of ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters '95'', returning villain Rugal announces his plan to destroy your team for foiling his plans last time. At the end of ''The King of Fighters '96'', Chizuru reveals that she lured your team there because she needed the help of those responsible for defeating Rugal. In both cases, this speech is made regardless of which team you are playing, and whether or not they actually won or were even in the previous game. (Aside from Geese/Wolfgang/Big, whom even she refuses to acknowledge.) This is additionally in spite of both victories over Rugal in canon being attributed to Kyo Kusanagi (his win in ''[='94=]'' is even [[ specifically noted on SNKP's official website chronicling the series' history]]), who'd go on to win the ''[='96=]'' and ''[='97=]'' tourneys.
* A quest in ''VideoGame/GuildWars'' requires the player to help the prince find a gift for his beloved. There are three items you can show him; the first two will always be rejected, no matter the order you try them in. An alternative option is to find only one of the items and hand it directly to the birthday girl, who gets pissed that the prince hired someone else to choose a gift for her.
** ''VideoGame/GuildWars2'' makes extensive use of this trope, from personal storylines (which affect instances) to dynamic events (which alters the state of the world players share).
* The Master Sword in the ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOracleGames'' can come from two conflicting sources depending on which game you play first.
** The games also include a Schrödinger area of the game map: at a certain point in the game, you can earn a flute that will eventually allow you to summon one of the three animal companions. Each of them have skills that allow you to reach places Link can't reach alone, and depending on which flute you get, part of the map ends up being an area that requires that companion to get through.
** Late in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'', Link must revisit each of the previous areas in order to collect the parts of the Song of Heroes. These can be done in any order, but no matter when you choose to do Eldin Volcano you always arrive just as it erupts.
** In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast'', three different chests can contain the magic lamp: the one in the house Link wakes up in, another one in a tunnel under the castle, and the last one in Princess Zelda's cell. There's only one lamp; the second and third chests are backups for the first one in case you somehow didn't notice it; so, the lamp will magically appear in whichever chest you open first (if you open the other two, you find only 5 Rupees).
* In ''{{VideoGame/Contra}}: Hard Corps'', [[BigBad Colonel Bahamut's]] plan for the [[ImportedAlienPhlebotinum Alien Cell]] depends on which path you take through the game. [[spoiler:Either he wants to use it to power a KillSat, turn it into a bio-weapon, [[FusionDance merge with it]], or load it on a missile and launch it into civilization.]]
** From the same game, Bahamut's base is either right next to your current location, a train ride away in the jungle, or a boat ride away on an island.
* In ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar II: Chaos Rising'' there is a traitor in your party. And you ''really'' don't know who it is, as it's affected by your actions in the game. However, the treachery began long before the game, so the "choice" of traitor is retroactive.
** The choice is determined by [[spoiler: your [[KarmaMeter Corruption]] rating]], defaulting on [[spoiler:Martellus]] on a perfect play. But really, he's the last person you want as a traitor. [[spoiler:While others all have their [[StartOfDarkness starts of darkness]] and {{motive rant}}s prepared, Martellus is just a plain generic boss, and a hard one at that]].
** The sequel [[CuttingOffTheBranches trims down possible traitors]] to three characters: [[spoiler:the Force Commander, the Devastator sergeant Avitus, or the assault sergeant Thaddeus]]. All others are loyal and playable. [[spoiler: Turns out it's Avitus]]
* Each ''Franchise/MassEffect'' game has an instance in the beginning; regardless of what Shepard's background and military reputation are, he or she is the ''perfect'' candidate for the first human Spectre. Likewise, when ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'' begins, regardless of whether the imported save file flags the council as saved, lost, or lost and replaced with an all-human council, Shepard "did everything right." Justified in the latter case, as no matter the outcome, ''it is perfect for Cerberus''. Although the degree and specifics of it vary, any of the endings puts humanity in an unprecedented position of power and influence, which is exactly what Cerberus wants.
** If the player imported a Mass Effect 1 save into [=ME2=], Shepard is given a brief debriefing and then, as a "memory test", is asked which of two characters he or she chose to represent humanity on the Galactic Council. Because that decision wasn't saved in [=ME1=] (the final save file is created before the decision occurs), either choice is considered correct and will determine which of the two is the Council member later in the game.
** Mass Effect 1 has a few moments where your two squadmates will disagree on the big decision you are about to make. However, their opinions can sometimes change depending on the other squadmate so that there will always be one in favor of each option. Thus, some squadmates will be in favor of saving the council, but if a different character is present they might instead be in favor of letting them die. This is presumably to make it clear that BothSidesHaveAPoint and avoid a scenario where two characters are egging you on with the same opinion.
** ''Mass Effect 3'' reveals that all of 2's DLC missions happened whether or not you bought them, but the details changed without the PC on hand. Cerberus resorted to nuking Project Overlord, Liara needed a whole team of mercs to take on the Shadow Broker (and couldn't save Feron), and Arrival took a whole team of marines (none of whom survived).
** A more minor form in ''Mass Effect 3'', on one side-mission, you are looking for someone and they are in one of two rooms on the presidium. They are always in the second one you go to, no matter which order you choose.
* In the end of ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3SnakeEater'', you [[spoiler:are to choose between two guns, one loaded and one not, and duel Ocelot with them.]] No matter what you choose, [[spoiler:you and Ocelot both survive. If you grab the loaded gun and purposefully miss, there is a hole in the wall, but if you shoot him or grab the gun with no bullets and he shoots you, it turns out the bullet was a blank.]]
** Which is odd as [[spoiler: the bullet Ocelot keeps around his neck the whole game '''is''' a blank; you can notice that if you zoom in on it.]]
* In the FMV game ''Terror T.R.A.X. - Track of the Vampire'' (played by [[WebVideo/TheSpoonyExperiment Spoony]] [[ here]]), one of the Bad Ending paths has one of your agents getting captured by a MadScientist vampire. When the second agent finds the first, MissionControl orders her to shoot him preemptively. If you don't, he springs up as a vampire and kills the other agent. If you do, the vampire calls to taunt you with the fact that the agent was still human so you killed him needlessly.
* Done twice in ''VideoGame/{{Portal 2}}'', with an actual gun. With two of the later puzzles, the player needs to fire the portal gun quickly [[PressXToNotDie to not die]], but if they fired the wrong portal, they'd end up dying anyway. To fix this, the programmers fixed it so that whichever portal you fire is the right one and it retroactively changes the portal you had already placed.
* In ''VideoGame/{{XIII}}'', the player must enter a locked cabin to obtain a fuse. There are several guards in the area, but the last one who gets killed is always the one holding the key.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonQuestV'', it doesn't matter whether you decide to marry Bianca or Nera, either one will turn out to be [[spoiler:descended from Zenithian blood, and will give birth to the legendary hero]]. The original game plays this straight, but the [[VideoGameRemake remake]] justifies it a little. The new character Debora is Nera's sister, so they share the same fate, [[spoiler:and it's hinted that all three girls are secretly related anyway]].
* In ''VideoGame/{{Catherine}}'', the differences between the [[MultipleEndings "Bad", "Good", and "True" version of each ending]] are supposedly determined by how well the girl can sense your feelings (that is, your position on the KarmaMeter), but other events happen differently seemingly independently of your feelings about relationships. [[spoiler:If you choose Katherine, Jonny, Orlando, and Boss don't show up to corroborate your story in the Bad ending. If you choose Catherine, her father doesn't show up in the Bad ending. And the difference between the Good and True freedom endings is whether or not Feather wins the wrestling tournament, which Vincent should have no way of influencing.]]
* ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'': when you rescue the three [[spoiler:scientists at Omega Ranch]], the third one will always have the [[spoiler:virus Sevchenko built]], regardless of the order you visit them.
* ''VideoGame/{{StarCraft II}}'' includes three levels where you can choose one of two possible methods to take. While one isn't one of these (merely determining if you strip the Zerg of their primary ZergRush generating unit or of their flying units), the other two are:
** In the Colonists story arc, the climax is to either fight off the Protoss to try and see if the Zerg infection amongst the colonists can be arrested and perhaps cured, or to side with the Protoss and mercilessly burn out all of the infected. Your choice is always the correct one: Choose the former, and the game reveals that there were only a few infected colonists, who are easily contained, and Dr. Hanson leaves the ship to work on researching a cure. Choose the latter, the infestation is far more widespread, and Dr. Hanson goes insane and infects herself, turning into a monstrous human/zerg hybrid that Raynor has to kill.
** Meanwhile, in the Shadow Ops story arc, the climax involves Raynor siding either with Tosh or with Nova to, respectively, either free the fellow Specter program prisoners (supposedly too mentally unstable to release back into society) held at the New Folsom facility or stop them from getting free. Once again, your choice inevitably turns out to be the correct one: side with Tosh, and the Specter prisoners would turn out to be helpful, if somewhat eccentric victims of circumstances wrongfully kept in a hellish prison and more than willing to help once set free. Side with Nova, and it'd turn out that Tosh had been completely insane the whole time, and has not only already took over an orbital facility near the planet that now must be blown up lest it be turned into a Specter factory, but also experimenting on innocent civilians, turning them into (equally, murderously insane) Specters against their will.
* Used extensively by ''VideoGame/SilentHillShatteredMemories'', primarily for purposes of MindScrew.
* In ''VideoGame/FearEffect'', two of the player characters continuously are at odds over whether or not a girl they are helping is a legitimate DamselInDistress or secretly the BigBad playing EvilPlan. Right before the final battle the player must decide who is correct and that choice will determine the final scene of the game. If the player decides innocent it will turn out she is innocent, if the player decides she is lying it will turn out she has been lying throughout the whole game. So in essence the girl is paradoxically telling the truth AND lying throughout the story until the scene when the player makes their decision.
* In the ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'' mission "Green Goo", it's always the third box that contains the eponymous green goo you're looking for.
* In ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoViceCity'', the player is recruited by an old Haitian woman to help out her son in an upcoming gang war. This mission involves assisting a group of a dozen Haitians as they fight off wave after wave of Cubans. This raises the question of exactly which of the dozen Haitians is the son you are trying to protect, as mechanically and graphically they are all identical. However, the mission is a failure only if ALL the Haitians die, which means that 11 of the 12 are "expendable", i.e. NOT the son you're supposed to protect. Thus one can conclude that the son will always be the final Haitian killed, regardless of the order in which the Haitians go down.
* ''VideoGame/BrainLord'': In the first town, there's a small sidequest you can do involving rescuing a pair of kids who wander down into a cave below the city. However, they only get lost in the cave if you actually talk to them - ignoring them or simply not talking to them will mean you don't need to rescue them.
* ''VideoGame/EscapeVelocity Nova'' has a few - mainly, the fact that you with little doubt is the universe incarnate in two of the storylines, certainly ''isn't'' in one of the storylines, and has some question-marks regarding that status in the remaining three storylines. Other than that, [[spoiler: Frandall]] either set up [[spoiler: the Rebellion as a trap]] or is [[spoiler: genuinely, if for selfish reasons, opposed to the Bureau]], and someone shows up in the Auroran storyline that has what would have been ''your'' role and backstory in the Pirate storyline.
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'':
** In the main games, the player's [[TheRival rival ]] always gets whichever starter Pokémon has an [[ElementalRockPaperScissors elemental type advantage]] over the player's starter; while this is usually by virtue of the player choosing first and the rival second, in ''VideoGame/PokemonBlack2AndWhite2'' the rival is known to ''already'' have their starter Pokémon long before the player acquires theirs (having raised it from an egg) - the Mon's specific identity is simply not revealed until the player selects theirs and faces their rival in battle.
** In ''VideoGame/PokemonDiamondAndPearl'' [[SchrodingersPlayerCharacter the player character you didn't pick with the gender opposite yours]] (Lucas if you picked the female, Dawn if you picked the male) always has the starter that has a type disadvantage against yours (i.e. you pick Fire and they get Grass) despite getting their Pokémon before you did. They even remark that you could have matched if you'd picked a different starter, which of course can't happen.
** In ''[[VideoGame/PokemonRubyAndSapphire Pokémon Emerald]]'', in the post-game content, a TV reports on a flying Pokémon. Your character is asked what color the Pokémon is. The response you make your character give determines whether it's Latios (blue) or Latias (red). In the original ''Ruby'' and ''Sapphire'' this depended on the version you got.
** When you do the first [[spoiler: Looker]] sidequest in ''VideoGame/PokemonXAndY'', the 5 tickets you need to find have text on them. No matter what order you do them in, the text they read is dependent on when you find it, not where it is. Which raises the question: how did [[spoiler: Looker]] know what order you'd go for?
* Both ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty 4: VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' and ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps2'' feature missions where the player is searching through multiple houses for one specific person. And, in both cases, you can search the houses in whatever order you want, but your target is always in the last one you search. It's less noticeable in the first case, as one of the safehouses is much further off than the rest of them are and getting between them isn't exactly easy, so you're likely to just naturally end up there last unless you go out of your way to visit it early.
* On one path in ''VideoGame/CorpseParty: Book of Shadows'', Mitsuki ends up facing ominous approaching footsteps, with a choice to wait or run away. [[spoiler: If you wait, it's Yoshikazu, who kills her with an axe. If she runs, it was Taguchi, and she ends up running into Sachiko needlessly fleeing from him.]]
* ''VideoGame/ClockTower'': Your friends are only considered dead by the game if you see proof of it. It has actual gameplay implications, in that the only way to get the A and S-endings (where one of the other girls is still alive) is to actively avoid investigating strange noises or places where a body could be found, because if you do, the game will take the chance to declare one of your friends dead.
* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'' has this principle as the whole basis of its [[ Radiant system]]. Many side quests will feature randomised aspects that are determined by which places the player has or hasn't visited yet, what other quests have already been completed, what level the character is at, etc. Some items or characters will appear in variable locations, based on e.g. where the Dragonborn happens to be when they reach a certain level. The trope appears in several other specific ways throughout the game:
** The various shouts available to the Dragonborn normally are learned by visiting Word Walls dotting the landscape of Skyrim. However, the text of the word walls will change depending on which word in the shout you have, so you will never learn the second or third word in a shout without knowing the one before it.
** Two dragons that you must fight in the main quest do not have unique models. While they are semi-locked into specific Dragon forms, if you are high enough in level (possibly by putting off the main quest for quite a while) they can change into different species of dragons.
** In the opening sequence, the player can decide to flee the dragon attack either with a member of the Imperial Legion or with a Stormcloak. No matter which they go with, they will always find their escape route through the keep blocked by hostile members of the opposing faction.
* ''VideoGame/Fallout4'' uses the same engine (Creation Engine) as ''Skyrim'' for good and for bad. The faction most likely to use and abuse Radiant Quests are the Minutemen where Preston tells you to go defend a Settlement/clear out a Settlement spot/deal with (feral ghouls/super mutants/raiders)/save somebody kidnapped/etc. While these quests are always there to help you level up they get really old really fast and some places are locked out from you until you reach a high enough level (such as having a lock/computer too difficult to unlock).
* In ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros3'', there's two slightly different {{Boss Room}}s in Bowser's Castle, with both having a holding cell behind them. No matter which one you go to, you'll always face Bowser there and find Princess Peach in the room behind.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Minesweeper}}'', the very first square you click will never have a mine.
* In ''VideoGame/TheLastRemnant'', a side quest features an amnesiac named Jorgen who asks you to bring him three items that will help him remember his past. There are more than three items that can be used for this quest, and depending on which ones you bring and in which order, the character's past (and his class) will be different.
* In ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'', you are given the choice to either join the guard, or the thieves. If you join the guard, then they are heavily overwhelmed and many of the members are obviously corrupted, while the thieves are ridiculously powerful and pretty much rule the city. But if you join the thieves, then the guard ends up being quite strong, devoid of corruption, and very efficient, and quite a nuisance to the thieves' business. In some cases it's because the tasks of bribing guards and extorting merchants was delegated to you, but in a few quests towards the end of the storyline a number of guards are hostile to you no matter which side you're on.
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion'', in the ''Shivering Isles'' expansion, you are tasked with taking care of a bunch of adventurers invading a dungeon. They make their way through 3 sections, and in each of them you sit in a safe spot and must press one of two buttons that will determine their fate: one results in one of the adventurers dying, while the other drives one of them to insanity. In the second section, two of the remaining adventurers come across a tightly locked cage filled with riches. Your choice is either activating a fire trap that blasts them, or making hundreds of keys appear in the room. This trope into play with the orc adventurer's behaviour: even though the circumstances are exactly the same, depending on your choice, the orc makes a completely different decision. If you choose to release the fire trap, he will try to pry the cage's bars open moments before the trap activates. If you release the keys, he will instead be vary of the cage and decide that they should just go away, moments before the keys appear.
* In the ending of ''VideoGame/StarWarsTheForceUnleashed 2'', you have the option to kill Darth Vader. Since that's [[DoomedByCanon obviously not going to happen]], selecting that option will cause a [[spoiler:clone of the PlayerCharacter to appear out of nowhere, easily kill you and your allies and]] save Vader. If the player chooses not to kill Vader, [[spoiler:there is no clone]].
* In ''VideoGame/LiveALive'', only one of the three Xin Shan Quan students (Li, Yuan, Sammo) survives, depending on the player's actions.
* In ''VideoGame/MonkeyIsland2LeChucksRevenge'', at the start of the game Largo can come from the left or the right depending whether Guybrush crosses the bridge or tries going back the way he came.
* A minor example in the paladin quest "The End of the Saga" in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft: Legion''. You need to search three graves, and what you're looking for is always in the third grave, no matter the order of search.
* ''VideoGame/TheTalosPrinciple'': In ''Road to Gehenna'', the order the robots are encountered is predetermined. Regardless of which order you choose to complete the puzzles, the first robot you free will always be the same, as well as the second, the third, etc.
* At one point in ''Videogame/IndianaJonesAndTheFateOfAtlantis'' the game branches into 3 paths: "Team", "Wits" and "Fist" each involves teamwork with Sophia, lots of puzzle solving, or lots of fistfights respectively. Which path Sophia will suggest is determined by how Indy solved the first puzzle of the game: Sweet-talking praising of Sophia to her backstage guard (Team), making his way through a [[CratePuzzle maze of crates]] into a fire exit (Wits), or knocking out the aforementioned guard in a fight (Fists).
* Applies in-universe to the ''VideoGame/{{Myst}}'' franchise: when a descriptive [[PortalBook Book]] is written, it creates a link to a world which precisely matches the description, but any features not mentioned are up in the air. After the link is made, the writer can actually change the world by specifying new details, as long as they don't contradict anything that has yet been observed. If they do, the link will instead be changed to a different world which fits the new description.
* The final Splatfest in ''VideoGame/{{Splatoon}}'' (an event where players pick sides to battle) was a competition between the Squid Sisters, Callie and Marie, which Marie ended up winning. In ''VideoGame/Splatoon2'', it's revealed that this result is canon in-universe and ends up affecting the events of the singleplayer mode (specifically, Marie acts a MissionControl while Callie [[spoiler: has been kidnapped and brainwashed by the Octarians]]). Presumably if Callie had won, the roles would've been reversed.
* In ''VideoGame/Borderlands2'', during the quest where you have to find Helena Pierce's audio logs, if you try to destroy the ice block on top of the house near a vending machine (the location of the second ECHO log) before the audio of the first ECHO log even finishes, the ice block will respawn, with a chance of spawning additional cash.
** Also during the quest where you have to collect Tannis's ECHO logs in Sanctuary, regardless of the order in which you retrieve the ECHO logs, the audio being played will still be in sequence as Tannis records her story from start to finish.
* ''VideoGame/TalesFromTheBorderlands'': Felix's ultimate fate involves this. After he betrays [[PlayerCharacter Fiona]] and steals a case full of money from her, you're given the choice of whether or not to warn him that the case is protected by a bomb that will explode when it is opened. If you don't warn him, then he attempts to open the case, triggers the bomb, and dies. If you ''do'' warn him, then it turns out he already knew about the bomb and removed it earlier.
* In ''VideoGame/SunlessSea'', Maybe's-Daughter's story arc is set up in such a way that it combines this with a degree of randomisation. When you start her arc, she presents you with a list of places you might be able to find her mother, and as someone who has played a videogame before, you assume it's going to be a straightforward example of this trope and she'll be in the last one you visit. Actually, the game does a randomised check when you hit the appropriate prompt in a place you haven't searched before, and she's in whichever one you're at when it succeeds - but since the odds start at 4% and double each time, she'll generally only pop up once you've checked most, but not all, of the places (which is just as well, really, since one of the locations is on the surface and so requires ferocious fuel expenditure and a minor risk of death to reach, and another is surrounded by [[DemonicSpiders Blue Prophets]], basically swarms of ship-killing death parrots).
* One of the characters you can date in ''VideoGame/{{Amorous}}'', Lex the husky, is of AmbiguousGender until the second date. Whether they turn out to be male or female changes depending on your choices.
* ''VideoGame/PillarsOfEternity'': The plot changes in various ways depending on what dialogue options you choose, with the answer you gave being treated as if it was always true. Much of the tutorial is devoted to just fleshing out your character’s backstory through such dialogue options. [[VideoGame/PillarsOfEternityIIDeadfire The sequel]] takes this even further by adding whatever choices you made in the first game to the mix.
* In ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiStrangeJourney Redux'', Alex's backstory is determined by the protagonist's actions within the Schwarzwelt.
** If you are Neutral-aligned, [[spoiler:Alex comes from a future where humanity goes right back to its decadent ways after the crisis is resolved. Having grown complacent over time, humanity is unable to stop the second Schwarzwelt, leading to the destruction of human civilization; Alex is one of the few survivors.]]
** If you are Law-aligned, [[spoiler:Alex comes from a future where anyone who is not brainwashed by Zelenin's song is considered to be unclean filth and executed. Alex is the last remaining survivor of those who cannot hear her song.]]
** If you are Chaos-aligned, [[spoiler:Alex comes from a future where every human seeks to prove their strength by attacking anyone they come across. Naturally, this mindset has led to the complete annihilation of humanity, and Alex is the last surviving human period.]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Happens in ''VisualNovel/RadicalDreamers'' the so-called "prototype" to ''VideoGame/ChronoCross''. Depending on which room you entered first and what you did; Magil is either a ''[[NinjaPirateZombieRobot time-traveling guitar playing rockstar detective from Mars who plays with hand-puppets]]'', the forgotten lover to Ridell, or a demon from hell. Likewise Kid is sometimes else raised by a nunnery that Lynx killed off, raised by Lynx's daughter Shea, or a ''gigantic berserk magic-wielding sunflower''. Lynx himself is a nobleman, a ghost, a HumongousMecha, or a ''giant space octopus''.
* ''VisualNovel/VirtuesLastReward'' basically runs on this concept. [[spoiler:Whether or not Akane dies depends on which story branch you choose, and sometimes your selections in the AB game will change your opponent's...]] [[spoiler:This turns out to be a plot point. Yes, it is [[MindScrew this kind of game]].]]
* In ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'', the GameMaster has the option of doing this in the middle of an ongoing game. However, creating logical inconsistencies will have severe consequences, and cause an automatic loss.
* In ''VisualNovel/HatePlus'', if you choose not to invoke OldSaveBonus by using a completed ''VisualNovel/AnalogueAHateStory'' as a base for a new save file, you'll answer a survey for your employer asking you to describe the AI you salvaged, from which AI it was to their personality, among other things. How you answer the survey determines which AI you'll play the game with and, if you have *Hyun-ae rather than *Mute [[spoiler:or both at the same time]], whether she sees you as just a friend or a lover.
* In the SpotTheImposter-laden ''[[ Who is Mike?]]'', your choices determine if you're playing as the real Mike who's desperately trying to prove to his girlfriend Sarah that the "Mike" who found him is a fake or as the evil duplicate who's plotting to take over Mike's life. Additionally, in one story branch, whether or not you shoot the injured Sarah that another Sarah (who's trapped behind a jammed door) claims is the fake determines which one of them actually is the fake. [[spoiler:If you shoot the injured Sarah, the "Sarah" behind the door laughs at you being tricked into killing the real Sarah. If you ''don't'' shoot her, she turns out to be the fake after all and kills you. The only way to win this MortonsFork is to TakeAThirdOption and stall for time.]]
* In ''VisualNovel/FleuretBlanc'', there is one branch point (Tuesday afternoon) where both options have to merge afterwards, thus forcing both to be consistent with the overall storyline despite involving very different events. The result of this is that the two branches apparently occur in two slightly different universes, where prior events were different. If Florentine attends the meeting, the stated reason for [[spoiler:Kant's dismissal]] is that [[spoiler:Roland kept his prized possession for over a week]], which is corroborated by [[spoiler:Roland giving you said prized possession after the meeting]]. However, if she [[spoiler:follows Kant]], it will turn out that [[spoiler:he has his prized possession on him]], contradicting the historical events stated in the other branch.
* ''VisualNovel/ReflectionsOnTheRiver'' can easily look like this, since certain facts (regarding the nature and origin of the jewel which the protagonist is pursuing, for example) which are given in one route contradict those given in another. It's actually averted, however, and there ''is'' a coherent truth — but no one route ever shows it to you all at once. The apparent contradictory facts are just lies that didn't happen to get exposed in the path you took, and there will always be some such lies no matter which way you go.
* The story of ''VisualNovel/StarshipPromise'' always begins with the PlayerCharacter making a discovery which draws the Empire to come hunting her, but the nature of that discovery is different in each route. In Orion's storyline, for example, she's decrypted Empire transmissions containing secret battle plans, while in Antares Fairchild's storyline she's created a device which is picking up on alien activity from outside the galaxy.
* ''VisualNovel/HavenfallIsForLovers'' is driven by the disappearance of the player character's younger sister Grace. Who is responsible for abducting Grace and their reasons for doing so vary depending on whose route you follow, as the antagonist always has a connection to the protagonist's chosen love interest.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* The idea is brought up in [[ this]] ''Webcomic/IrregularWebcomic'' strip. Fittingly enough, the characters are players in a DeepImmersionGaming RPG, and they actually mention Schrödinger. Not only does the trope appear in that particular strip, but also in the writing process behind the strip. In the earlier draft of the comic, David Morgan-Mar kept flip-flopping on whether the punchline should reference Heisenberg or Schrödinger. He decided on Heisenberg and wrote [[TheRant a long note below the comic]], explaining Heisenberg and the Uncertainty Principle, before realizing that Schrödinger worked better as a punchline and changing it. He left the note below mostly unchanged, presumably as a record of the uncertainty in the writing process.
* Also appears in ''Webcomic/DarthsAndDroids'' by the same creator, starting [[ here]]. It also appears in a more amusing variation, Schrödinger's Decoy, seen [[ here]].
* [[Webcomic/ChainmailBikini "Chainmail Bikini: The Nightmarish Legend of Deuse Baaj"]]:
** The players are sent to retrieve a farmer's pigs in return for a sword. Instead of fighting the goblins that have stolen the pigs, they set a siege and wait until the goblins have run out of food and surrender, thus totally ruining the adventure the [[GameMaster GM]] had written. (And then they go and slaughter the goblins anyway.) The GM gets back at them by having the farmer's village been attacked and razed by the minions of the BigBad DiabolicalMastermind by the time the characters return.
** Not to mention, a player thoughtlessly wonders why the starving goblins didn't simply eat the stolen pigs; at which point the rescued pigs suddenly transform into a pile of bones as the gamemaster quickly {{retcon}}s the situation.
* ''WebComic/DMOfTheRings'':
** During a dice roll for an enemy attack, the dice accidentally drops beneath the table to an inconvenient spot. The player who the attack was targeted towards then calls himself an "Uncertainty Lich" between life and death (though the issue is quickly cleared up).
** There's also this example, because the GM is railroading the plot and he and Legolas had already set up Legolas taking a shot at Saruman.
-->'''Legolas''': ...I rolled a 1.
-->'''GM''': In that case, you miss Saruman...and hit Grima.
* Hilariously occurred in ''ComicBook/GoldDigger Tangent''. The comic had a forum right beneath it, where people often speculated. One person yelled out, without spoiler tags. "Ooh! That one guy we saw taking a bath is going to swoop in and pull a BigDamnHeroes, making him a Chekhov's gun!" The artist's response? "Great, now I need a new way to bail them out!" He figured it out.
* In Chapter 2 of ''Webcomic/GunnerkriggCourt'', a set of glowing pictures (a ShoutOut to the film ''Film/ThePeanutButterSolution'') are briefly featured in the library. When asked about the pictures, Tom Siddell explained that he has planned out a StoryArc involving those pictures, but he isn't certain that he'll be able to work that arc into the comic. So it's unknown at this time whether those pictures will end up being a ChekhovsGun or just CowTools.
** The waveform has collapsed: [[WordOfGod Tom says]] that particular story arc has been cut.
* Every single thing in ''Webcomic/MSPaintAdventures''. Since the various series use [[InteractiveFiction fan-submitted suggestions]] to drive much of the plot, seemingly non-sequitur commands like "[[Webcomic/ProblemSleuth Build a fort out of your desk]]" can lead to larger developments in the in-game universe. Or just be one-off non-sequiter gags.
** This even holds true in the current storyline, ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}''. Although Hussie has officially closed the suggestion boxes, and they won't be opened again until Homestuck is over and the next story has begun, he's taking cues from the fans; he's said that "ninety percent of 'calling it' is actually suggesting it in disguise."
** Also used in-story in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'': [[spoiler:If you confront the Denizen before it awakens, it will already be awake anyway.]]
* If somebody who read through ''Webcomic/BobAndGeorge'' somehow managed to be oblivious to the heavy LeaningOnTheFourthWall, they might get the impression that the comic had a complex, carefully planned, intricately connected plot. However, by his own admission, Dave was just really good at making crap up on the fly, and then making up ''more'' crap to explain why the previous crap was significant.
* Tim points out that Steve is using this technique in [[ chapter two]] of ''Loaded Dice''.
* In ''Webcomic/QuestionableContent'', Faye once [[ found a box of condoms in the couch]]. Marten says it's Pintsize's, and Pintsize says it's not his. The author's notes at the bottom read: "So who does the box in question belong to? [...] I haven't decided yet."
* Used in [[ this]] ''Webcomic/SomethingPositive'' where Davan, Peejee and friends play a tabletop RPG: The GM changes who the BBEG is after a player becomes suspicious.
* ''Webcomic/DinosaurComics'' parodies the Choose Your Own Adventure books' use of this [[ in this strip.]]
* Elan, GenreSavvy that he is, invokes this trope in [[ this strip]] of ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', asking Haley not to reveal to the audience what kind of wands she has so they can turn out to be exactly what she needs later.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In WebVideo/TheSpoonyExperiment's LetsPlay of the FMV game ''VideoGame/Phantasmagoria2'', Spoony mocks how the game tries to get around this--that the protagonist Curtis could experience the various supernatural death threats in a different order--by having him seem newly surprised in each clip, as though every one was the first (which it could be, depending on what the player does). In the finale of the LetsPlay, [[spoiler:Spoony is trapped in a similar setting and actually gets '''more''' exaggeratedly shocked every time something supernatural happens]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The Season Two premiere of ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' is a veritable Schrödinger's ''machine gun''. The writers deliberately took all the fan speculation about how the cliffhanger at the end of the Season One finale would be resolved, and ''made it all true''. A partial list follows.
** [[spoiler:With Hank and Dean dead, the title would now refer to brothers Rusty and Jonas Junior -- as seen in the episode's opening credits.]]
** [[spoiler:The boys would be raised from the dead by Doctor Orpheus.]]
** [[spoiler:Dr. Venture would clone the boys.]]
** [[spoiler:It would be revealed that the boys were ''always'' clones.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' has an alternate ending each season where the runner-up (in slightly different circumstances) actually won the prize. In fact, for the second season, it was declared that both endings ''were'' the possible "real ending", since each country voted differently on which of that final two they wanted to win. Unfortunately, the first and third season endings ended up very contrived by comparison.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Many of a stage magician's illusions rely on some form of this. Wiki/TheOtherWiki [[ has more details]].
* Politicians facing elections usually have their victory ''and'' concession speeches prepared well in advance. Similarly, newspapers pre-write articles and obituaries. HilarityEnsues if they jump the gun and [[ publish a wrong article]].
* Similarly, Nixon had a speech ready in case something happened to Neil Armstrong and crew during their lunar soujourn.
* The items (from newspapers with banner headlines to caps and T-shirts) that get waved around during post-game celebrations at the UsefulNotes/SuperBowl, World Series, and other championship sports events featuring the team that was just victorious seconds earlier are also prepared in advance in versions for both teams. The merchandise/items proclaiming victory for the losing team are quietly disposed of or donated to charity programs in third-world countries so they'll never see the light of day in the US. When it looked like the New England Patriots would become the first NFL team to go 19-0 in a season with a UsefulNotes/SuperBowl win, a number of merchants jumped the gun and allowed customers to pre-order corresponding commemorative merchandise, only to sheepishly have to backtrack/refund it when reality didn't play along and the Pats lost the game in a shocking [[DownToTheLastPlay last-minute upset]].
* To avoid a portrait subject having to spend weeks sitting still, portrait painters used to do a subject's body, clothing, and furniture before the customer actually paid for a picture. Then they'd just add on the appropriate head (which is why some portrait figures have oddly long necks).
* The creators of ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' create each episode within six days in order to keep turnaround times for major events and trends quick and stay as current as possible. In fact, they completed an episode on the 2008 Presidential Election the day after the event by making some tactical assumptions on the outcome.
** This is not always the case however. Throughout season 20, the overarching plot followed the 2016 Presidential Election. Following UsefulNotes/DonaldTrump's upset victory, the plot had to be scrapped as the writers could not come up with a feasible continuation.
* Reportedly, General [[UsefulNotes/DwightEisenhower Eisenhower]] late in 1944 found a note in his jacket pocket which was the speech he had written regarding the failure of Operation Overlord (i.e. the Normandy Invasion).
* Newspapers often keep obituaries on hand for celebrities who are sick or seem to be going off the rails.
** Creator/BobHope survived the writer of his obituary in the ''New York Times''.
* Some university professors use a variation of this in-class. The class plays a game of 20 questions. A subject is selected and sent out of the classroom while the other students ostensibly pick a person, place or thing that the subject must guess, The subject is brought back into the room and can pick students to ask a single question to each. After the 20 questions, whatever the subject's guess, they are told they are correct. At least, they should be "correct". The students in the class were actually instructed to not pick anything, and give any answer they like as long as it could be consistent with all previously answered questions for at least one thing.
* In a word-game example, a player writes a letter on a piece of paper. The other player writes another letter either before or after the first letter. Play continues with each player being allowed to play or challenge. If they play, they write an additional letter either in front of or after the previous letters. If they challenge, they win if the other player cannot add additional letters to make a word from from a previously agreed upon dictionary. They lose if the other player can make a word.
* On November 5, 1996 (Election day in the US, with Bill Clinton and Bob Dole as the presidential candidates), the New York Times crossword puzzle's key phrase was two words, each seven letters long, with the clue "Lead story in tommorow's newspaper(!)" [[ More]] [[ details.]] The words that crossed the first word (specified below along with their clues) were such that either "CLINTON ELECTED" or "BOBDOLE ELECTED" could have been valid solutions.
** "Black Halloween animal" ('''C'''AT or '''B'''AT)
** "French 101 word" ('''L'''UI or '''O'''UI)
** "Provider of support, for short" ('''I'''RA or '''B'''RA)
** "Sewing shop purchase" (YAR'''N''' or YAR'''D''')
** "Short writings" (BI'''T'''S or BI'''O'''S)
** "Trumpet" (B'''O'''AST or B'''L'''AST)
** "Much debated political inits." ('''N'''RA or '''E'''RA)