Whenever you prepare for a story you don't want any plot point to come across as an Ass Pull
. But depending on the needs of the story you don't want to spend more time than necessary to establish a vital skill a character may possess that will prove useful, such as an establishing scene that will be used as a Chekhov's Skill
The solution? Establish the skill of the character through dialogue only. It isn't much, but it gets the job done in much the same way. Along the lines of fiction this inherently goes against the Show, Don't Tell
mantra, but if done well
it never comes across as an Informed Ability
(after all, you do eventually see the evidence of their skill — it's just delayed
For example, before going on the adventure the Plucky Comic Relief
apologizes for being late because he had to help his sister who locked herself out of their car. Later, when everyone is detained and bound by shackles, this guy gets a hairpin from The Chick
and manages to free himself and the others. It was mentioned he had the talent, but it isn't until now that we see him use it. If we actually saw him unlocking his sisters car then it would be a Chekhov's Skill
Compare Suddenly Always Knew That
when a character suddenly reveals that they had the skills as
they are using it, instead of any sort of foreshadowing
Compare Pastimes Prove Personality
, Let's Get Dangerous
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Anime and Manga
- Several of the pilots in Bokurano have their hobbies or passions come into play when they fight their enemies. Waku, a soccer player, either knees the enemy robot while Zearth's arms are bound(anime) or kicks the severed arm into it (manga). In the manga, Anko, who wanted to become an Idol Singer as a way of seeing her television reporter father on TV, uses her dance-like moves in order to close in on her enemy, and when she gives a Rousing Speech to Earth, she tells her father with her last breaths that she learned how to talk that way watching him on the news.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: A severely twisted one for Solf J. Kimblee, who Loves the Sound of Screaming. It's the only thing that enables him to retain his pseudo-sanity after being assimilated by Pride, and later assists Ed in defeating Pride after the homunculus crossed a line. A very strange line, but Kimblee is a very strange man.
- In episode 9 of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Asuka tells Shinji that she's been learning about thermal expansion, followed up by some rather playful teasing about whether this could be applied to her as well. Later on in the episode, they come across an Angel living in lava; Asuka and Unit-02 are sent in and just when it looks like the Angel might be too much, Asuka rips off the coolant pipes connected to Unit-02 and aims it at the Angel, neutralising it.
- Several examples in Black Butler.
- We’re informed that Ciel keeps a hidden gun on him at all times early on in the manga, but since Sebastian does all of the fighting it’s easy for readers to forget this. Eventually, he gets to shoot someone.
- It gets mentioned in Madame Red’s memories that her sister has asthma. Turns out, Ciel has the same condition.
- In his first appearance, it's mentioned that Aleister Chamber has a doctor's license. Turns out he's part of the Aurora Society, which becomes important in two separate instances.
- In Matthew Reilly's Ice Station, it's mentioned via a flashback that Schofield used to be a pilot before his significant eye trauma. This becomes important when the marines get an opportunity to fly out of the ice station.
- In Area 7, it's mentioned that Gant is training to be an officer. She later referrences her training manuals to take command in Schofield's absence.
- In The Hunger Games Peeta is a baker's son who iced cakes. His painting ability proves to be of use when camouflaging in the games and he also bakes for Katniss to try to win her over.
- The original The Hardy Boys Young Adult novels personified this trope in the form of Chet Morton, the best friend of the eponymous duo. Most stories had him talk about or display his latest hobby, which would without doubt become important later. This was mostly dropped in the Hardy Boys Casefiles, a sequel series of sorts that started in the late 1980s.
- Averted in Josephine Tey's mystery Miss Pym Disposes, in which a character is referred to as being skilled at imitating other people's voices, and yet we never see her do this and it has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the plot.
- In The Legendsong Saga, Solen’s ability to deal with seasickness. This means that he is awake and on deck both to rescue Glynna at the start of Darkfall, and to help birth the he-feinna.
- The explanation also covers the reason why Hella, his sister, was awake to hear [[Soonkar being discovered as a stowaway]], rather than being in a drugged sleep like most travellers.
Live Action TV
- Wendy Watson's painting, affinity for zombie movies, and love of first-person shooter video games all come in handy when she begins training as a Middleman.
- In Dead Like Me, Georgia Lass works part-time as a filing clerk in an temporary job agency, but we barely see her actual work there. You'll probably forget what her job was by the time of the episode where death takes a vacation and the Reapers use that day to file their reaps' data for the Celestial Bureaucracy, where her skills as a filing clerk and her keys to the office where she used to work prove very handy.
- The Power Rangers developed these quite a bit during the original run. The most blatant was the beginning of Turbo (a car themed season), when Tommy and Adam both suddenly became interested in cars and car maintenance.
- In CSI: Miami, the socially awkward Walter is immediately forthcoming with his knowledge on whatever non-mainstream activity or lifestyle is the focus of the episode. He even knows the lingo!
- JAG: Bud’s interest with the paranormal comes in handy at times, as in ”Vanished” when they manage to locate a missing F-14 with the help of observations made by UFO enthusiasts.
Role Playing Game
- The RPG Men In Black actually has this as a game mechanic. Every character has a typically useless skill. It is generally the job of the GM to work it into the story in a plot-relevant way, but by the end it can be difficult to even remember what your useless skill was to begin with.
- In Betrayal at House on the Hill, every character has hobbies listed on their character card. Each character is also scripted to be the traitor in certain scenarios, because of their relevant hobbies.
- In The Foreigner, Charlie admits to his dismally boring, nerdy and useless job as a comic-book proofreader, specifically asking "who on Earth cares if there's one "K" or two in "Klaatu Barada Nikto?!" At the climax of the play this same Charlie puts on an alien possession act, screaming, of all things, "Klaatu! Barada! Nikto!" before pretending to violently dissolve one of the "Klan members" threatening him. The ensuing spectacle chases the real Klan away and saves the day.
- In the Monkey Island series, Guybrush often tries to impress people by telling them he can hold his breath for ten minutes. Although it's used as a joke - that he doesn't have any real talents or education - this talent turns out to be useful on multiple occasions in the series.
- Early on in Fate/Stay Night, Mitsuzuri attempts to get Shirou to rejoin the archery club, and it's mentioned that Shirou was very good at it. One of the Servants is of the class Archer...guess who he really is?
- Sybil Pandemik changes jobs more often than clothes, and it's pointed out that her on-screen resume is only a fraction of the whole. Later on, when a large team must be assembled to enter Maxthulhu's body, Sybil has so many varied skills that she fills a dozen different requirements. In the end, though, it turns out the only contribution she makes is by being pregnant.
- In Resident Evil, Chris Redfield was noted as being in the Air Force before joining STARS. At the end of Code Veronica, Chris uses his piloting skills to pull of the escape from Antarctica. It becomes important in Resident Evil 6, when he needs to pilot a plane in order to destroy a C-Virus missile.
- In Valkyria Chronicles, Welkin's interest in animals and nature was used for several unconventional strategies throughout the war, such as finding a way to drive a tank through a river and assaulting a supply-base hidden in a thick forest. His friend Faldio by contrast was pushed over the slippery slope due to what his archaeology knowledge allowed him to discover in the valkyria ruins.
- In Lego RPG The Movie, Henry mentions that he used to play hockey, and all the hits and blows he took made him a little slow. Not too long after, Galeno betrays him and Arich, and has them both pushed off the top of the closet. Henry was so used to hits that he was able to stay conscious after the fall, carry Arich, and set up a camp.
- Oh so much in the Whateley Universe. Tennyo's love of fishing leads to her and Harry saving an injured boy. Phase's fixation with finance leads him, over several stories, into taking over a major corporation and launching an IPO. Shove's secret love of making jewelry provides Phase and Fey with a way of stopping Peeper. Aquerna's learning parkour in "Parkour Hooligans" saves her neck in later stories. Fey's little brother's interest in cars and metalworking provides Generator with a new weapon she unleashes in Jade 9 and later stories. And on and on.
- Parodied in an episode of Dave the Barbarian. When Fang insults Dave's hobby of collecting little figurines, he outright says "Someday my love of decorative knick-knacks will come in handy!" Later on, it turns out that the Monster of the Week loves decorative knick-knacks; as Dave gladly supplies her, Fang glares and mutters "I hate you."
- One episode of Family Guy opens up with Peter and Joe discovering Quagmire has hung himself to enhance his pleasure of masturbation. Quagmire is rushed to the hospital and recovers and the the scene is never mentioned again. However, near the end of the episode, Quagmire confronts his sister's abusive boyfriend and winds up being nearly choked to death by him. Because Quagmire chokes himself regularly for a sexual thrill, he manages to pretend he was killed and proceeds to kill the attacker when the guy least suspects it.
- In Futurama, Professor Farnsworth has built numerous doomsday devices and several episodes feature them attempting to use them as a potential solution to whatever problem they're currently facing. Likewise, Hermes will occasionally be called on to use his Olympic-level Limbo skills.
- In Hey Arnold! The Movie, Gerald is seen playing an arcade game where you drive a runaway bus. He gets a GAME OVER which prompts Arnold to question it considering "you play this game all the time." Comes into play later when, wouldn't you know it, Gerald is asked to drive a runaway bus.
- In Barbie The Pearl Princess, Fergis wants to be a botanist, and it's this interest that helps him save Scylla when she's poisoned.