A Non Sequitur
is a bit or line of dialogue that is intentionally out of place, usually designed to elicit a comedic reaction. They have no actual bearing on the plot, although they are staples of characters who are part of their own little world like the Cloudcuckoolander
or The Ditz
Springboarding from there, we find the Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, or BLAM (an appropriate term in itself,
as they tend to show up with all the subtlety of a shotgun blast). This is a very bizarre scene in an otherwise normal story that veers off into the surreal or strange. Upon exiting that scene, the plot continues on like it never happened.
There are three precise criteria for measuring a Big Lipped Alligator Moment:
- Appears out of Nowhere —
- The plot comes to a halt as the scene takes its spot in the running time. There can't be any Foreshadowing and it can't take a logical place in the plot (e.g., coming across a trap while Storming the Castle is not random, but expected.)
- Strange in Context —
- The fictional setting, characters and narrative devices have to be at odds with the scene. In that regard, World Building moments, strange personalities, and a surreal story structure that can explain its origin are exempt from this trope. For instance, All Just a Dream gives a good reason, as using the trope tends to go hand-in-hand with the surreal (although for some genres and franchises, using the scenario of All Just a Dream itself may qualify).
- Never Mentioned Again —
Being merely inconsequential or strange is not enough. All three criteria have to be met. If a scene is considered "borderline", it is likely not an example. BLAMs are often Level Breakers
The Trope Namer is All Dogs Go to Heaven
, and the Trope Codifier
is The Nostalgia Chick
and The Nostalgia Critic
from their review of Fern Gully
while commenting on another example. In the trope naming scene (in a movie that mostly deals with talking dogs, the afterlife, and mafia undertones, somewhat strange itself) a big-lipped, Cajun-accented, bone-through-the-nose alligator takes a liking to the main character Charlie and forces him to sing a duet "Let's Make Music Together". While the alligator goes on to have a role in the plot later on, Charlie is noticeably very confused over the whole song.
The Nostalgia Critic and The Nostalgia Chick have had to post supplementary videos on this topic, due to confusion on what does and does not count. One is that it is a moment, not a subplot or entire episode (For that we have Bizarro Episode
). And they emphasized that it has to go against what is considered normal.
Context and the nature of the situation matters immensely in comparison to the sliding scale of realism used by the story in question. This trope can be objectively observed but because of the dissonance between the audience and the characters (the audience doesn't live in the exact same world, so what is strange to the audience might be commonplace for the characters
) this often ends up as a debatable topic. Even the trope namer has been subject to debate.
Compare these other tropes and consider whether an example would better fit there:
- Brick Joke: It comes out of nowhere, seems like it has no relevance at first (or only marginal relevance), disappears for awhile then comes back like a boomerang later on at some random point and becomes relevant, even if only to a very minor plot element. If it does so more than once, it becomes a Running Gag.
- Cutaway Gag: A throwaway joke that has a framing device of a character reminiscing of an unrelated past story or an Imagine Spot.
- Disney Acid Sequence: A surreal visual and musical scene that may or may not have plot relevance; because of the occasional lack of relevance there tends to be overlap. Is usually just a chance for animators to Show Their Work.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: A sudden Boss encounter, in video games, that has nothing to do with the plot.
- Gainax Ending: A similarly bizarre Mind Screw ends up being the resolution to the plot!
- How Unscientific: A moment that breaks Genre Consistency, but may or may not break consistency of tone.
- Non Sequitur: A line of dialogue that doesn't follow the regular or normal conversation.
- Non Sequitur Thud: A line of dialogue spoken by a character just before they go unconscious (or sometimes when waking up from a dream).
- That Reminds Me of a Song: When a character suddenly starts singing a song that has no plot relevance.
Also compare What Happened to the Mouse?
, Aborted Arc
, Makes Just as Much Sense in Context
, and Flash Mob
(a Real Life
BLAM Moment). If the BLAM is used to sell products, it may be a Product Promotion Parade
Confused annoyingly often with an Arcadian Interlude
. Also has nothing to with Ka Blam
or Boom, Headshot
BLAMs By Medium:
- These happen ALL the time in real life due to its general lack of a coherent plot.
- According to the Chaos Theory, life itself!
- As mentioned above, Flash Mobs.
- The Max Headroom Incident
- Dreams. And 99% of the time, not only do you not mention them ever again, but you forget that they even happen!
- Musical numbers and certain performances in film and live-action TV up until the late sixties. The plot would stop for a performance, then when the performance was over, the plot would go on as though nothing had ever happened. This was done to make it easy to cut a number for certain markets that might find it offensive. For example, black performers might be cut for certain Southern states.
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- The rather bizarre argument in the TV tropes section of the The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You article.
- Any and every time an editor includes a gag or meme from a show in their entry.
- Averted in the former Big Lipped Alligator Moment Troper Tales article. The fact that the Real Life moments were being posted about meant that they were being mentioned again, thus disqualifying them.
- Troper Tales itself was this back in the day.