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Headscratchers: A Series of Unfortunate Events
  • Why is it that Mr. Poe first said that their parents will states that the Bauldealires would be raised in the most convenient way possible, but the when Justice Strauss wanted to adopt them, he states it says that they can only be raised by a relative? Plus, the only relatives that raise them after Count Olaf are Uncle Monty and Aunt Josephine.
    • Children passing to relatives is the normal definition of "convenient." Besides which, he barely knows Justice Strauss. He has no way of knowing if she'd be a good guardian to them or not, and the little he has seen of her isn't exactly a glowing endorsement. She was just as fooled by Count Olaf as everyone else.
  • The Beatrice Letters.
    • Alright, so maybe some of the letters are from different people, as implied by the last letter, but that doesn't explain how these imposter Beatrices can all be in contact with Lemony.
    • The letters make even less sense if read in the order implied by the provided alphabet letters: B-E-A-T-R-I-C-E S-A-N-K. However they do seem to become more consistent in their visual style; e.g. typewriter, handwritten etc.
    • It gets more confusing though after this troper read the last chapter in The End again: maybe the letters were in fact written by Kit Snicket's daughter, whom the Baudelaire's named Beatrice? This could imply that the letters stating B-E-A-T-R-I-C-E S-A-N-K means that after the thirteenth book, there was an accident, in which Beatrice was separated from the the Baudelaires - and thus the Beatrice in the Beatrice Letters is a different Beatrice - to what the reader may first expect.
    • I thought this was obvious. The letters written by Lemony were written to the Beatrice Lemony loved, while the letters written to him were written by Beatrice Snicket, Kit's daughter. As for B-E-A-T-R-I-C-E S-A-N-K, I'm pretty sure it's referring to a ship named Beatrice.
    • There are three Beatrices: Beatrice Baudelaire, the Baudelaire sibling's mother; Beatrice Snicket(?), Kit's daughter; and Beatrice, the vessel that the Baudelaires sailed away on in the epilogue. Those poor kids can't seem to get a break.
  • My second confusion is the line "Sunny appearing on the radio to discuss her recipes" (K, BB to LS #3). Maybe it's just the handwriting, or my interpretation, but does that mean there's a significant time-gap between this letter and the main series of books, and Sunny is now working for radio?
    • I thought it was just a joke about Sunny's personal dialect. She had been getting more proficient in English quite quickly once she set her mind to it.
    • But there was quite a time gap, seeing as how the younger Beatrice Baudelaire, who wrote that line, was only a year old at the end of The End, and The Beatrice Letters states she's now ten years old. I wouldn't be surprised if Sunny was a successful young chef by this time.
  • In the first book, Mr. Poe says that their parents' will says they must be in the care of a relative. This prevents the Baudelaires from living with Justice Strauss. However, why is Mr. Poe quite willing to hand the children over to Count Olaf in disguise (not knowing he is Count Olaf, an actual relative), a complete stranger, in the third book, breaking the conditions of their parents' will?
    • Mr. Poe believes that he is following the wishes of Aunt Josephine, who was the Baudelaires' legal guardian at that time. Presumably the parents' will stated that the children are to be left in the care of a relative, but allows for the relative to make their own arrangements in the event of his/her death.
  • How in the world does Sunny know Japanese and Jewish? For that matter, how do her siblings translate phrases that's she's probably never had to say before? (Like, when would a two-year old need to utter something about VFD Headquarters before book 10?)
    • Daniel Handler (the actual author of the series) has said that he makes his characters Jewish by default. For everything else, it's a kid's book.
  • I find it hard to believe that as long as Nero has been principal, with his general douchebaggery, that he has not been A. hunted down by the school board for making kids sleep in awful conditions B. reprimanded about his teachers' teaching methods, or C. given poisoned candy, during his weird buy-me-candy-and-watch-me-eat-it punishment. Let's face it. He should have been dead/gone WAY before now.
    • Technically he was Vice Principal, but like the point above stated, the series basically takes all of the elements in children's literature that pertains to Adults Are Useless and greatly satirizes it. In the case of The Austere Academy, it parodies the strict rules and punishments in boarding schools, the unfair living conditions, and bizarre teaching methods (for the record, this Troper knows a girl who is taking a college course on vampires in literature. This girl insists that her professor goes on rants about how sly and manipulative women are instead of teaching about vampires, so there are teachers who have useless teaching methods). Anyway, if it were real life, then none of these things would have happened since in all likelihood, the children would have been taken away from Count Olaf's care when they first talk to people about their living conditions.
    • Still, though...no one's come up with the idea of killing him off by the very punishment he requested?
      • He could insist on only pre-packaged candy. Then again, someone could still get revenge by giving him Atomic Warheads. Or Zagnuts.
  • In The Hostile Hospital, one, how the hell did nobody realise that the bad guys were going to kill their 'patient'? And that whole thing with the rusty knife- come on, as if that would ever be used in a hospital.
  • What time period does the series take place in? I always got a Edwardian Era sort of feel from it.
    • Before Europe and after America? But seriously, the Schizo Tech places it firmly in an alternate universe that happens somewhere between our 1940-something (Lemony Snicket having got in a fight with a television repairman) or late '50s, maybe '60s (western horseradish-based imitation wasabi paste), and the present. I like to think it is in the mid-sixties or early eighties, but I think there were a few clues that placed it firmly in the 1990s (despite the distinct lack of modern cellular phones pushing it back to the 1980s or early '90s).
    • I'd assumed it was the late 30's to early 40's.
    • Klaus was born 1924 according to the Snicket Wiki, and he was 12 by the start of the series. That puts it at 1936.
      • The same wiki now says he was born in 1969 so.. Yea.
  • I remember going on the "Series of Unfortunate Events" website and reading a FAQ, where Lemony Snicket (the character) implies that Count Olaf was still alive. However, in The End, Count Olaf dies. Uh... What?
    • Lemony Snicket is still researching the events of the series while he's writing the books, and some of the events are possibly still occurring (hence the secret message to Kit Snicket in The Slippery Slope when she dies in The End); when he wrote that, either he hadn't yet discovered that Count Olaf had died, or Count Olaf was still alive at that point.
  • Captain Widdershins forgives Fiona after she 'failed him'. I'm sorry, what? He swam off while she was out doing something very dangerous, left the submarine empty with no hint of where he'd gone. Fiona was so desperate to find him - her sole parent - that she joined with the bad guys - very briefly, I might add - in the hope they'd help her find him. And she failed him?
    • This troper can't recall the exact circumstances behind that part, but perhaps it was referring to some unknown agreement the two made? Like, Widdershins had warned Fiona about how dangerous the bad guys were and told her that she was always to resist them.
    • The exact line was "The captain had forgiven the failures of those he had loved." This troper always thought it referred to Fernald.
  • How on earth would the freaks be considered 'freaks'? I've seen a good number (okay, three, not including a couple others with scoliosis) of hunchbacks in my life and there are some people that are like crazy-flexible. I know Snicket likes satire, so it may be poking fun at it. But seriously? Ambidexterity? Hell, I'm ambidextrous myself and just...seriously?!
    • That's the joke. The "freaks" have absolutely no reason to be in the freak show, but they're all convinced that they're hideous abominations. (Though the ambidextrous guy still makes me angry.)
      • Why would the ambidextrous guy make you angry? The whole POINT is that the guy is completely normal but is delusional about being apparently abnormal. You could not miss the point of the gag any harder.
    • DUH.
    • I always figured this took place at a time where people segregated others who were too different to be "normal". This may help give a clue as to what time period the series may take place in, as freak shows were a popular Victorian entertainment, and it continued to be popular (in the United States anyway) until the mid-20th century.
      • But there were at least basic computers at this time, so it couldn't be Victorian.
      • Schizo Tech.
  • What is "?" (The Great Unknown), the horrible-underwater-thing?
    • Lemony Snicket will shed more light on it in his new sequel, All the Wrong Questions.
    • Symbolism for the great unknowns of the universe? We never find out what it is, much the same way we will probably never find the true answers to some of our biggest questions about life during this life (if you even believe there's some kind of afterlife after this one where we'll find out). It would fall in line with the moral of the end of The End, that we're never going to have all of our questions answered and sometimes none of them are.
    • Wait just a minute... OH MY GOD...
    • So, the first book of All The Wrong Questions hints it's the Bombinating Beast, a Cthulhu-esque creature, half-horse and half-shark, that was named for the buzzing sound it made when hunting its prey. It was said to have been slain years ago, but legends of it continue to persist.
      • That's... really anticlimactic. I'm kind of wishing he hadn't revealed what it was, but that's a conversation for the forums.

  • Does Prufrock Prep have an ACTUAL Principal? How did Nero even get his job?
    • The school was originally designed to be a training centre for future VFD members. When the school was hijacked by the villains, they probably replaced the Principal with Nero to keep VFD out.
  • Count Olaf spends thirteen books chasing three children around with vague notions of kidnapping them for their fortune, possibly taking them to Peru where he could somehow utilize "relaxed guardianship laws" or having other people name his false personas their guardian, which of course would be checked by the government (supposedly; adults are useless and all.) He clearly has no scruples or morality—so why the hell didn't he ever just ROB Mulctuary Money Managment? If Poe is any indication, the people working there are completely incompetent. Surely robbing the bank wouldn't be any harder than tracking the orphans through the country, using a complicated hypnotism scheme, and infiltrating a school dressed as a gym teacher?
    • Actually - unless I'm remembering wrong - isn't there an implication that the Baudelaire parents helped kill Olaf's parents? That might explain why he's specifically targeting the kids...
      • Yes, that's implied in book 12. Poison Darts.
    • Maybe Olaf thought it would be too easy to just walk into the bank and steal it. Some people prefer tough challenges.
      • It's also possible that the money Mrs. Bass stole from the bank could be the Baudelaire fortune (can't remember where I heard that theory, probably on The Other Wiki.) Wouldn't it be funny if Olaf went to steal the fortune only for the whole thing to be gone already?
  • Pretty much everything about the sugar bowl. First of all, in order to know anything about it, we have to accept that the sugar bowl contains horseradish as is heavily implied in The End. But that doesn't make sense. Nobody could have had enough foresight to anticipate that the Beaudelaires would accidentally release the Medusoid Mycelium when they weren't supposed to be in the grotto in the first place. Given that horseradish's only plot significance is to act as an antidote for the Medusoid Mycelium, why was it in the sugar bowl? Moreover, why was Count Olaf looking for the sugar bowl before the Medusoid Mycelium was released?
    • Huh? Where'd you get that from? I didn't get that impression at all, as far as I was aware it was never revealed or even strongly hinted at what was in the sugar bowl. Did I miss something?
    • Basically, when Klaus reads from his parents' entries in the island's log titled A Series of Unfortunate Events, it briefly mentions than Esme has packed horseradish in a vessel, and the sugar bowl was once referred to as a "Vessel For Disaccharides" (which means sugar). But that seems like a horribly anticlimatic content for the sugar bowl, since horseradish is so common.
      • No, it wasn't Esme. It was Beatrice. Read page 277 of The End (US edition). And, if Beatrice had the sugar bowl with her when she left the island, maybe that's why Esme holds her responsible for stealing it from her. The real thief was Lemony Snicket himself (The Hostile Hospital, US edition, pp. 90-91.)
      • And don't forget, as was already mentioned, horseradish is the one and only antidote to the Medusoid Mycelium. And, according to the Arc Words from The End, "Everything eventually washes up on [the island's] shores." They were prepared for the contingency of a toxic, parasitic fungus somehow finding its way to the island even after the passageway to Anwhistle Aquatics remained unfinished.
  • How did the Beaudelaires manage to accidentally and fatally shoot Dewey Denouement with the harpoon? The physics of such an action seem questionable at best, especially given that they were facing the wrong way at the time.
  • In the movie, why the hell didn't the Baudelaires break the windows of the car during the train scene? Wouldn't it be the initial reaction of anybody who was in this situation?
    • Rule of Drama
    • Car windows are fairly sturdy, especially considering the strength of two young children (Sunny as a baby wouldn't be much help in this situation, obviously). If they were outside the car, they might have been able to break in, but from inside, they didn't have much of anything to use to break the window, nor any room to build up momentum for the blow. They probably realized that it wouldn't work if they tried and decided to use their energy thinking up a more feasible solution, rather than waste time.
  • Why are Violet and Klaus only shown going to school in "The Austere Academy"? In books 1-4 and 6-7, there's no evidence whatsoever that they 're getting any sort of education - shouldn't their guardians have been getting into trouble for that sort of thing?
    • Schools can sometimes take a couple of weeks to process the transfer and enrollment papers, especially if it's during the schoolyear. And they only ever stayed with a guardian a few days before they moved on. The only relatives they spent a good deal of time with would have been either smart enough to teach themselves (Uncle Monty) or just didn't care (Sir and the Village of Fowl Devotees)
  • If the man with a beard but no hair and the woman with hair but no beard were always telling Olaf where the Baudelaires were, why was he going to Madame Lulu to find them?
    • It helps to double check your sources. And once in a while Lulu might have pretended "the inner eye is too unclear now to see where they are" or whatever, in which case he'd need another source.

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