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Chekhov's Gun
aka: ptitlexn9xzsjd5fif
There's a rifle above the bar because the name of the place is "The Winchester".

"If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."
Trope Namer Anton Chekhov (From S. Shchukin, Memoirs. 1911.)

Chekhov, master of the short story, gave this advice: if it's not essential, don't include it in the story.

The term has come to mean "an insignificant object that later turns out to be important." For example, a character may find a mysterious necklace that turns out to be the power source to the Doomsday Device, but at the time of finding the object it does not seem important. The necklace was essential to the story, but its introduction downplayed its importance. Chekhov's advice was not necessarily to conceal importance, but to just not spend time on things that are not important.

A lot of people consider the phrase "Chekhov's gun" synonymous with foreshadowing. They are related; a gun that goes off in the third act that hasn't been in the play at all before then is going to feel like a real Ass Pull, but that's not key to the meaning of the phrase.

As a result of the success of franchises like LOST or Harry Potter, viewers and fans of Myth Arc-laden and/or carefully written shows and books have become accustomed to obsessing over minuscule details and looking out for Chekhov's Guns everywhere and anywhere... whether they actually exist or not. We call these Epileptic Trees and Wild Mass Guessing.

Chekhov's Gun Depot also stocks:

Compare Schrödinger's Gun for a competing dramatic weapons dealer. Contrast to a Red Herring, where something shown early appears to be significant but was planted there just to throw you off. If there are a whole bunch of Red Herrings you might be looking at The Walrus Was Paul, where a writer wants to mock fans of Chekhov's Guns by repeatedly messing with them. If there is a very long delay between the introduction of the element and its use in the story, to the point where most of the audience has long forgotten about it, you're looking at a Brick Joke. The MacGuffin is significant for some (possibly even plot-relevant) reason, but we never find out just what it is. If the Chekhov's Gun was hiding on the other side of the Fourth Wall, you have a Ninja Prop. If a Chekhov's gun is set up but dropped (but was neither intended to distract as a Red Herring nor to be brought up later, as a Brick Joke), you have either an Aborted Arc or What Happened to the Mouse?, depending on the importance of the gun to the overall plot.

The Magnetic Plot Device can be a standing Chekhov's Gun to blame the plot on. The Impossible Task may require one. Also see Asspull, which is what the viewer can sometimes confuse this with if they miss the gun the first time (or if the gun was edited out in the TV version).

A reverse Chekhov's Gun is also common. Explicitly showing a normally armed character forgetting his gun when leaving the house for example. The experienced troper knows that this will become the day he needs it the most.

Also referred to as "the Indiana Jones principle" in Thomas C. Foster's How to Read Literature Like a Professor, named after Indy's early encounter with a snake at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark and how it set up his much larger encounter with them later on.

Not to be confused with Chekov's Gun (or Chekhov's Pun, for that matter). See also Call Back, Brick Joke, and Running Gag.

This trope contains spoilers by necessity. Read at your own risk.

Examples

That's not the only reason, though...











Canon WeldingCreator SpeakCorpsing
CatchphrasePt/Índice de TraduçãoCharacter Alignment
Character FocusLit. Class TropesClassical Anti-Hero
Character DevelopmentJustForFun/Tropes of LegendThe Chessmaster
Chekhov's GagThis Index Will Be Important LaterChekhov's Armoury
Berserk ButtonThis Index Means TroubleContamination Situation
Artifact of DoomPlot DeviceConvenient Eclipse
Cast as a MaskSpoilered RottenCloning Blues
Call BackUniversal TropesCloser than They Appear
Cheesy MoonWe Are Not Alone IndexChewbacca Defense
Shaun of the DeadImageSource/Live-Action FilmsPretend We're Dead
Hilarious in HindsightOverdosed TropesFan Nickname
Chekhov's GiftLaws and FormulasChekhov's Gunman

alternative title(s): Ptitlexn9xzsjd5fif; This Will Be A Plot Point Later
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