For most people, a unique once-in-a-lifetime occurrence is a rare event that may have long-lasting consequences. For others, it's almost routine. When extraordinary things happen to otherwise normal people with alarming frequency, they're Coincidence Magnets. Separate from Weirdness Magnet in that the unlikely things that keep happening aren't supernatural or paranormal in origin; they're perfectly reasonable things that could easily be coincidences, except for the fact that they're staggeringly unlikely and they just keep happening to otherwise normal people. If you discover your neighbor is actually a werewolf, at which point you're both abducted by aliens, and you escape only to stumble into the war against The Legions of Hell, you might be a Weirdness Magnet. If your girlfriend comes down with a disease afflicting only a handful of people on the planet, but you're able to afford the cure by winning the lottery, and then secret agents start trying to kill you because of the classified information hidden in the used car you just bought, which is eventually destroyed by a meteorite striking it with just enough force to reduce it to cinders while leaving everything around it completely untouched, you're probably a Coincidence Magnet. If you would have said it was literally impossible until it happened to you (because it involves magic, aliens, time travel, demons, or something similar), you're a Weirdness Magnet. If the events in your life were always possible, but just had a trillion-to-one chance for any of them to happen (much less all of them), then you're a Coincidence Magnet. If you're encountering a lot of murders or other crimes by pure coincidence, but nothing else unlikely, you're a Mystery Magnet. Related to Busman's Holiday; Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and the like were unable to visit friends, go to a party or take a holiday without someone being murdered nearby.
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Anime and Manga
- The main characters of Planetes, in the course of the series, rescue a handful of people from a fire on the Moon, capture a ship dumping illegal waste, foil an elaborate terrorist plot, locate and remove a Kill Sat disguised as debris, and foil another elaborate terrorist plot. This from people who are, in essence, garbagemen in space.
- The X-Wing Series novels have Wraith Squadron, who have not one but two members who are the only example of their species in the New Republic military (and have to pretend to have a third later on), and The Mole who does a Heel-Face Turn by Becoming the Mask until The Reveal forces her to flee at which point she becomes a vigilante Reverse Mole. They also mastermind a half dozen counter-intelligence operations, ultimately leading to the defeat of the Big Bad, through a combination of being completely insane and dumb luck at being in the right place at the right time. All this despite being just one of dozens, if not hundreds, of fighter squadrons assigned to the task force fighting the enemy (not to mention all the capital ships, intelligence agents, ground troops, etc). As said by one of the characters in the series: "Foolish of us to bring along Rogue Squadron, all those A-wings, Home One, and a pair of frigates when all it takes is Wraith Squadron and a battered corvette to deal with the enemy."
- The protagonist of Robert A. Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy is a slave boy whose owner turns out to be an anti-slavery secret agent. He ends up escaping by being adopted into the notoriously clannish and hateful-of-outsiders society of spacefaring traders. Eventually, he leaves them and ends up as a fire-control officer on a military ship. When his enlistment papers go through, they identify him as the son-and-sole-heir of the late owner of a Mega Corp. on Earth. Upon returning to Earth, he must wrest control of his company back from the Corrupt Corporate Executive that's been running it in the meantime. Any one of these could have made an interesting and exciting story; the protagonist goes through all of them before he's turns 20.
- Grant and Christina from Carole Marsh's mystery books. They're not even teenagers, but they've already visited almost every state in the Union and several foreign countries, met the President of the United States at least twice (Once after sneaking into the Oval Office and nearly spraying him with a fire extinguisher), run the Boston Marathon, and recovered the Statue of Liberty's torch, a functioning model of the Wright Flyer and a T-Rex skeleton after these things were stolen (By separate people!).
- The concept of ta'veren in The Wheel of Time
- This is the entire premise of a short story, in which a man tells a boy the story of his life and how it entirely is composed of events which were theoretically possible, but extremely unlikely (his bread always landing butter side up, his body briefly becoming magnetized, breaking a glass with the sound of a violin playing, etc). It gets so bad that a woman he was walking with actually flew away!
- The Hardy Boys, in most of their novels, couldn't go anywhere without being involved in hijinks or mayhem. Occasionally they were dragged into it by their incompetent friend or their girlfriends.
- One of the recurring themes of the Liaden Universe series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is that There Are No Coincidences. The Korval clan comes in for special attention from fate (or "the Luck" as the characters themselves have it), perhaps due in part to Cantra's role in leading humanity to that universe. It is demonstrated repeatedly that members of Korval's families are magnets (or "nexuses" as the characters have it) for strangely unlikely chance. This tends to result in members of the family ending up in impossibly coincidental situations that can leave other characters shaking their heads (and often, quite reasonably from their perspective, seeing conspiracies where only coincidence exists).
- It is actually hard to decide whether Coincidence Magnet or Weirdness Magnet is more apt, since from the point of view of Clan Korval there is nothing supernatural about the Lost Technology, aliens, or psychic powers they keep encountering. But the mundanes who frequently get caught up in events and swept along in Korval's wake would have different opinions…
- Bink in the Xanth series starts off as this, but then he finds out that this is actually a magical effect.
- The Lucky Duck in Callahan's Crosstime Saloon is explicitly this, and not a Weirdness Magnet. The iron laws of probability tend to turn into extremely silly putty around him, but he doesn't do miracles. For instance, getting a working username and password by randomly mashing keys is a normal day for him, but he denies all responsibility for the computer running when not plugged in.
- Lonesome Dove (both novel and mini-series) starts out with Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call on their ranch on the Rio Grande and follows them on a cattle drive to central Montana, about 1600 miles away. A subplot involves July Johnson, a lawman from Fort Smith, Arkansas — about 800 miles from the starting point — who goes in search of Jake Spoon, a former associate of McCrae and Call. Another involves a renegade named Blue Duck, who was believed to be in New Mexico. So, considering there is literally more than a million square miles between these three points on the map, and that everybody is either on horseback or on foot, it's amazing how often people from these three camps just happen to cross paths with each other.
- The Infinite Improbability Drive from The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy does this as a side effect of its highly unorthodox faster-than-light travel method. The first time Zaphod and Trillian use it, they accidentally pick up Ford and Arthur, who were dumped out of an airlock in a random location in deep space and would have suffocated if the unintentional rescue had occurred a few seconds later or a minute earlier. Then it turns out that they all know each other. Another example is a character who has been reincarnated countless times into countless forms and beings, and is always mistakenly killed by Arthur. One of his doomed incarnations was a bowl of petunias.
Zaphod: Is this kind of thing going to happen every time we use the Infinite Improbability Drive?Trillian: Very probably, I'm afraid.
- Most Pulp Magazine heroes were this to one extent or another, but Lord Greystoke took it Up to Eleven. By the third act of the second book, for example, Tarzan, his lifelong love (and her family), his rival for her affections (and holder of Tarzan's rightful peerage), his first recurring enemy, and his first and best human friend are all reunited. In Africa within a mile of the cabin where Tarzan grew up. Despite having embarked on three different ships from three different continents, with no intention of coming anywhere near the place. And it goes from there...
- Job, from the Bible, fits into this trope in a different way. From the point of view of God, Satan, and whoever is narrating the Book of Job, this is a case of one Contrived Coincidence after another; from the point of view of Job and the Israelits, Job is a Coincidence Magnet and a jinxed one at that.
- Ciaphas Cain's (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) entire career is based on this. Every single time he has a choice between heading out into open battle or staying in the base/going on some backwater assignment with little chance of danger, it means he's going to escape an assassination plot/find the traitor/stumble into a summoning ritual/uncover an ambush/etc. And all this despite a reputation as a borderline Leeroy Jenkins, so his underlings are always surprised he's not raring to go into battle, right up until all hell breaks loose and he appears as the legendary hero to them.
- This is brought up in Chrono Hustle #8 in regards to how Jack seems to be visiting just the right time periods in the right order in order to avoid being caught. Melinda figures there must be something bigger going on than coincidences.
- Kurt Vonneguts concept of the "Karass" group can be defined via this trope: if you are connected by synchronicities, you form a meaningful group, all other groups (via religion, sex, nation, etc.) are pointless "granfaloons".
Live Action TV
- In Monk, it's considered this that murders and dead bodies appear wherever Monk goes, even when he's not looking for them. Examples:
- Coincidence in "Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing" for Monk to be at that firehouse when a killer stopped by to steal a coat? Probably not.
- In "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert," this happens when Monk and Natalie are passing by a port-a-potty, at the moment that some maintenance workers break open the door and a body falls out.
- In "Mr. Monk Bumps His Head", this happens when Monk wakes up with amnesia in a little Wyoming town.
- This happens in "Mr. Monk on Wheels" where a thief, after stealing a bike, crashes on a pothole, a few feet away from Monk and Natalie. Natalie helps the thief to his feet, not knowing that his bike is stolen, and sends him on his way, then is embarrassed by the appearance of the bike's legitimate owner.
- "Mr. Monk Makes the Playoffs", with a dead quarterback Hidden in Plain Sight by being dressed up as a passed-out fan (the giveaway being his championship ring) and an attempted murder involving an exploding charcoal grill rigged with gasoline.
- Played straight in the Expanded Universe novels.
- In Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii, this happens twice: Monk and Natalie stumble upon a police investigation. Later, they are at a luau when the men digging up a roasted pig inadvertantly dig up the hotel manager's dead body. The first part of his body to appear is his burned hand.
- In Mr. Monk Is Miserable, Monk and Natalie go into the Parisian catacombs, and Monk finds a very freshly deceased person's skull that was dumped there a year ago. Later, when they are having dinner at a blind restaurant, a woman claiming to know the identity of the skull is stabbed and killed to keep her from telling them his name.
- There was a Fox Network series called Strange Luck about a guy like this named Chance Harper. He had enhanced powers of luck, both good and bad, and kept alternatingly winning the lottery and getting struck by lightning (as just random examples from memory).
- Channel Four had a Sitcom in the late 80s/early 90s called Chance in a Lifetime in which Tom Chance had an equally improbable life. Perhaps it's something about the name
- Similarly justified in My Name Is Earl - whereas in early episodes it's not clear how much "Karma" is just Earl's personal Hand Wave for his predicament, as the series progresses the idea that an Anthropomorphic Personification of Laser-Guided Karma has made him its personal bitch starts to become the most logical explanation.
- Victor Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave was afflicted with a low-grade version of this. The writer, David Renwick, seemed to delight in putting him through bizarre situations at least once an episode (ranging from the next-door neighbour installing a door in his fence to facilitate a nice chat to having to deal with an old lady's suicide), so it's not surprising he was so disgruntled.
- Kim Bauer's entire day in season two of 24 is a great example of this. Not only does she manage to get trapped by a mountain lion after escaping a car wreck after being falsely accused of murder after stealing a car that happened to have a body in it, but she is also held prisoner by an oddball recluse and a gas station robber, each on separate occasions in the same day.
- Breaking Bad has Walt entering a bar he's never been to, running into the (unknown to him) father of his partner Jesse's junkie girlfriend Jane, who has turned Jesse on to heroin and blackmailed Walt for half a million dollars. Their conversation on family leads Walt to save Jesse from himself by letting Jane die when she chokes on her vomit. Unfortunately, Jane's father is a air traffic controlman, who in his grief over his daughter's death, accidentally guides two planes toward each other, where they collide right over Walt's house.
- Lampshaded in Tales of Vesperia. If Yuri is around, anything bad that could possibly happen, will.
- Smitty in Gunnerkrigg Court takes this to the limit by having it as an explicit superpower. Throwing a pile of cards such that they happen to land in a deck, in order isn't impossible, but anyone else would have to toss decks continuously for far longer than the age of the universe to have even a remote chance of success... or get extremely lucky shot.