But wouldn't [cigarettes] blow up in an all-oxygen environment? Jeff:
Probably. But that's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. "Thank God we invented
the, you know, whatever device.
A Hand Wave (also memetically
called "Scotch Tape") is any explanation involving the backstory
, a retcon
, or a use of phlebotinum
, which is noteworthy for its lack of detail or coherence. The name comes from academia and techy-land, where a person explaining a process on a whiteboard gets to a part that is not well defined or important so just waves their hand around to indicate that Stuff Happens, then moves on to the important goodies.
Typically, the use of this trope is an indicator of bad writing; a good author is able to explain plot points with the utmost detail without interrupting the story's momentum.
But sometimes, it's better to gloss over something trivial and get on with the story. Tropes Are Tools
. When skillfully done, a handwave can make things plausible enough so that the audience achieves a Willing Suspension of Disbelief
. It can also just turn the whole detail and its inexplicability into a joke. Scotch tape may not be strong, it may not be pretty, but it may be much better to have some sort of explanation than to have nothing at all.
is often a valuable source of Scotch Tape. In Science Fiction
shows, a handwave is usually conducted with Techno Babble
. In fact, an alternate name for Phlebotinum
. In the industry, the vague and generic direction given by management to actors, designers, editors and so on is sometimes known as "hand waving", as it is frequently accompanied by a lot of gesturing
May take advantage of the MST3K Mantra
. Often related to an Unexplained Recovery
. Contrast Voodoo Shark
, which is an attempted hand wave that makes less sense than just letting the Fridge Logic
stand on its own. See also A Wizard Did It
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The lack of male-type humanoid robots in Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is supposedly because of the male versions being "weaker" than the female ones, but how this difference comes about is never explained. And that's not the only thing in the manga that gets handwaved...
- Naruto makes friends with the monster that's wanted to kill him for the entire series, a monster infamous for destroying landscapes and attacked the main character's hometown. It turns out that Madara and Obito Uchiha were the ones making the Demon Fox do bad things using their powers, and the Fox was an innocent, puppy-sized mutant animal until it grew up... literally, and garnered a reputation for being demonic.
- Bleach: Played (kinda) for laughs in one of its filler arcs. When Renji's sword Zabimaru breaks free, Zabimaru is shown as a split being, a monkeyish woman and a childish snake. This is contrary to Zabimaru's previous appearance, which was an actual monkey that had a snake for a tail (a Nue). When Renji asks why Zabimaru isn't in its previous form, the Chimpette half of Zabimaru simply laughs and says, "Since when are you so concerned with minor details?" "That's a pretty big freakin' detail!" This is actually based on an omake when Renji and Hisagi read a catalogue of changes Mayuri can do to their weapons' true forms, Renji sees that changing them into females is possible, with one female example being exactly the form of Chimpette right down to the green fur covering the body.
- Also in Bleach the main character getting stronger bafflingly (if not infuriatingly) fast is explained by - "Learning fast is one of his special abilities."
- Yammy, the lowest ranked Espada who constantly got knocked around is suddenly revealed to be the 0th Espada and the most powerful. Despite this, he's easily beaten off-screen by Kenpachi and Byakuya. A databook tried to explain this discrepancy by saying that the Espada are ranked by who has the most reiatsu, and Yammy wasn't as dangerous as the others because he only had power with no special abilities. The problem is that one of his opponents, Kenpachi, also relies solely on brute strength, and also has no special abilities, but wins almost every one of his fights. It's even been stated that reiatsu is the deciding factor in who wins a battle between spiritual beings, which would seem to be borne out by Ichigo always beating people who have over a century worth of experience while he has, at most, a few months of training.
- During the Wandenreich invasion, a group of Sternritters try to attack Captain Yamamoto, who fries them with his zanpakuto. They manage to survive this. It's later revealed that one of them, Bazz-B, countered Yamamoto with his own fire powers, explaining how they survived and possibly explaining why they would risk attacking a guy who was able to beat their leader. Given that Yamamoto's zanpakuto is easily the most powerful in the series, and even the Big Bads refuse to face it head on, it seems questionable that Bazz-B would have the power to counteract it.
- The Future Arc in Katekyo Hitman Reborn! recently concluded with the Acrobalenos performing a huge Reset Button so that Byakuran never gains the power of the Mare Rings when the inevitable Time Paradox is pointed out by Shoichi, Verde's response was simply that the existence of the Trinnisette amounts to a miracle by itself and can't be explained by science or common sense
- Haruhi Suzumiya. Haruhi damn it, Tanigawa Nagaru, he deliberately makes the Esper, Alien, and Time Traveller members say they don't really know how their upper structure works to justify their status, which sometimes gets rather ridiculous.
- Eiichiro Oda, maker of One Piece, is famous for giving very strange explanations when the fans ask him about the show, like saying that Zoro can talk with a sword in his mouth because his heart allows him to. Or that Sanji's leg is perfectly unharmed after being intensely heated because 'his heart burns hotter.' Given that the entire world of One Piece runs on Nonsensoleum, these explanations (as ridiculous as they may be) are also literally true. At least sometimes. But it's it's
- In Oda Nobuna no Yabou, it's never clearly explained how Sagara Yoshiharu not only traveled back in time to the Sengoku Jidai, but many of the major people he remembered as old guys are instead young women. And the one guy who saves his life at the beginning was Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who is conveniently killed off, and tells the young lad to take his place and help Oda Nobuna to achieve her dreams of uniting Japan.
- In Girls und Panzer, the various tanks the girls ride around in have some special coating on them that prevents their tanks from blowing up anytime it gets hit. Aside from that, it coasts on Rule of Cool, so shut up and enjoy the ride!.
- In Usotsuki Lily, the mangaka's comments give all sorts of reasons as to why the main characters aren't in any school club (job, dates, kendo practice, prefer reading, "sweating is tiresome"...).
- One of the stranger things to come from Gundam is the dummy balloon, which can somehow fool enemy targeting computers despite being, well, a balloon. The official explanation is that when a mobile suit's computers scan something that matches the shape of an MS in its database, it substitutes a CG-rendered version for the pilot's convenience; thus, a balloon vaguely shaped like a Zaku II will trick the computer, which will unintentionally trick the pilot.
Sayla: Ryu... Weren't you dead!?
Ryu: The doctor just gave the wrong diagnosis, don't sweat the details! note
- Neon Genesis Evangelion and Rebuild are both huge offenders. There is a MOUNTAIN of scientific theory and meticulous planning that would go into creating a humanoid form out of a "Seed of Life," then putting it in a suit of armor and teaching a human to control it with his/her brain waves, but it is consistently averted as a topic of conversation in the show(/movie). Usually, the method of doing so isn't so much a dismissive remark—rather, viewers are hit with a split-second avalanche of faux-scientific terms and nonsensical graphs, in a manner of "pretend explanation." It doesn't ACTUALLY explain anything; it just makes it look like there's real science involved. Bonus points if a handful of religious references are thrown on top for good measure.
- Batman: He does not have any super powers but he does have super intellect, peak level human ability, and is unequalled as a detective, fighter, inventor, scientist, strategist, and whatever else the plot requires him to the the best at. He is also one of the top three wealthiest men in the DC universe. Batman also has a backup for every backup for every backup et cetera. Alfred the butler also seems to also be everybit the universal polymath being a medic, mechanic, technician, spy, actor, and occasionally a butler.
- Scrooge McDuck has always been known for swimming in his money. In the Carl Barks story, "Only A Poor Old Man", the Beagle Boys manage to legally get his cash, leading Scrooge to lament how he won't be able to indulge in his hobby. After giving a demonstration, the old duck offers that the Boys try it themselves. The Beagles dive in, and immediately knock themselves out on the pile of coins. When Huey, Dewey and Louie bring up the Fridge Logic, Scrooge remarks, "I'll admit- It's a trick!"
- The Flash has the Speed Force, a dimension that is also apparently a prison and a mass vaporizer. And just an all-around way for speedsters to tell the laws of physics to sit down and shut up. It was also a way to explain how an increasing pool of characters were randomly struck by lightning in front of a wall of chemicals.
- Probably not attributable to the original creators, but a Finnish Superman magazine once answered the question in reader mail about how Superman can fly: It's just like how we walk. He activates the muscles used for flying. And now you know!
- My Immortal: Dumbledore isn't Out of Character, he only swor coz he had a hedache ok
- In the Tamers Forever Series, the absence of Takato's crush on Jeri from the original series is off-handedly referenced and attributed to him never truly having been in love with her.
- In Equestria: A History Revealed, this trope is literally invoked when the narrator says that most flaws in logic can be handwaved by the work of wizards/magic.
- Given that they do live in a world of talking horses and magic unicorns, technically, it does make sense.
- She repeats the same thing regarding inconsistencies in history, handwaving it off as the work of timetravel when she was too lazy to come up with an actual explanation.
- In The Prayer Warriors, during his first encounter with Percy Jackson, Jerry, the main character, realizes that there is a traitor among the Prayer Warriors, and spends the next few chapters trying to figure out who it is. It's revealed, midway through this process, that God told him that there was a traitor the night before the attack, but God apparently neglected to mention who the traitor was.
- When Grover is brainwashed into fighting against the Prayer Warriors, it is offhandedly mentioned that his coming back after being killed four times in the past was due to being cloned by atheists.
- In Real Life, the Boy Scouts of America has a "Two Deep Leadership" policy. Any interactions between youth members and adults has to have at least two adults present as a safety: to avoid placing children at risk if a Scoutmaster has unsavory intentions, or to protect the adults from untrue accusations of such intentions. In the Ranma ½ Elsewhere Fic Boy Scouts ½, Matthew Atanian is an Assistant Scoutmaster, and he frequently spends time with his friends who are youth in the program. Matthew, being 20 as the story begins, is not exceptionally older then his friends who are all mid - late teens. Still, he spends a lot of time hanging out with his friends, even away from Scouting functions, where he is the only adult present. This is largely a matter of plot, as it would be difficult for them to get into a lot of the situations they do if they had to drag an additional person who was over 18 along with them — especially if this person was unaware of the Jusenkyo curses that Matthew and four of his friends suffer from. Still, in the real world the amount of time Matthew spends with his friends could have Unfortunate Implications and lead Matthew into much trouble. This is hand waved on a few occasions, with Matthew being aware of the policies but glossing over them as he knows he has no ill intent and he trusts his friends to not mention his ignoring of said policies to those who might take issue with it.
Films — Animation
- In The Emperor's New Groove, Kuzco and Pacha arrive at Yzma's lair, only to discover Yzma and Kronk are already there... despite the fact that the latter duo had just dropped into a chasm after getting hit by lightning. They even lampshade it:
No! It can't be! How did you get back here before us?! Yzma: [beat]
we, Kronk? Kronk:
Well, ya got me. [pulls down the map of their path]
By all accounts, it doesn't make sense. Yzma:
Oh well. Back to business!
Films — Live Action
- In The Wizard of Oz (1939 movie), Glinda waits till the end of the movie to tell Dorothy about the ruby slippers. Why didn't she tell her at the beginning, instead of sending her Off To See The Wizard down the Yellow Brick Road? "Because you wouldn't have believed me." This covers up a plot hole caused by merging two different Witches from the books.
- In Batman Begins, Batman (who has a strict no-kill policy) gets into a high-speed chase on the freeway with the cops, causes more than a couple crashes and drives over several cop cars with the cops still inside, endangering dozens of civilian and police officer lives. Yet we know no one is hurt (very badly) because Alfred says: "It's a miracle no one was killed." The same thing happens in The Dark Knight, as he fires high-powered guns into what appears to be a mall's glass door to break it so he can drive through, then showing people dodging out of the way. No way someone wasn't going to get hit. In The Dark Knight, it is "explained" that the Batmobile has "life sign scanners."
- In the film The Abyss, the pressurized station so deep underwater that it can cause illness to people on board is brought to the surface in the space of less than a minute, and immediately people climb out, without having any symptoms of 'the bends.' Lindsey defuses a Fridge Logic moment by saying "We should all be dead. We didn't depressurize," and another character answers "[The aliens] must have done something to us." No further explanation is given. The novelization (by Orson Scott Card, no less!) handles this a bit better...holes such as this (and the alien's back-story) are filled in fastidiously. All without diminishing the mystery and wonder.
- In Big Trouble in Little China, Egg Shen disappears after the fight in the assembly hall, then abruptly reappears to throw his friends an escape rope through a hole in the ceiling. When asked how the he got up there, Egg just says "It Wasn't Easy!"
- Back to the Future:
- At the end of Part II, the DeLorean gets struck by lightning while flying, and gets sent to 1885. At the point when the lightning actually strikes the car, it is stationary in the air, but it has to be moving at 88 miles per hour to time travel (which is important in both parts I and III). When it got hit it wasn't moving. The handwave is that the lightning causes the DeLorean to spin at 88 miles per hour, shown with the trails of fire being spirals in the air (the 1885 date is justified, as the time circuits were shown earlier to be broken, and an 1885 date was briefly shown).
- The letter that Doc Brown sent in 1885 to Marty. The idea that anyone would follow through with instructions to send a letter to someone 70 years in the future with exact location and time is a little tough to swallow; the guy just explains that they were taking bets down at the Western Union whether Marty would be there or not.
- Lea Thompson, who plays Marty's mother Lorraine Baines-McFly throughout the trilogy, plays his paternal great-great-grandmother Maggie McFly in Part III. The real explanation was that neither Robert Zemeckis nor Bob Gale could bear making a BTTF movie without her, and the In-Universe explanation is that all McFly men are genetically predisposed to be attracted to women who look like Lea Thompson.
- Towards the end of Part I, Doc traveled to 2015 with his dog Einstein with him, but when he came back, Einstein was missing. In Part II, Doc tells Marty that Einstein was in a suspended animation kennel between trips.
- This trope is referenced by a movie executive in Thank You For Smoking. They are discussing the idea of having two actors smoke in a movie that's set on a space station.
But wouldn't they blow up in an all-oxygen environment?''
Probably. But that's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. "Thank God we invented
the, you know, whatever device.
- In the book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in order to travel to a plot-important location, Harry and Dumbledore must sneak out of the school to a completely deserted street in a nearby village, from which they can then Apparate. In the film, the following time-saving exchange occurs:
Take my arm. Harry:
Sir, I thought you couldn't Apparate within Hogwarts
Well...being me has its privileges.
- In the film Ocean's Thirteen, to explain the absence of series regulars Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) repeats the phrase "It's not their fight!" numerous times within the first ten minutes of the film.
- Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: After Bill asks how the time machine works, Rufus replies "Modern technology, William."
- In the Sherlock Holmes film "A Study in Terror", Holmes is trapped in a burning building. They quickly cut to him back at Baker Street, explaining that he survived because, as everyone knows, he's indestructible.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Whenever something improbable happens, the character (usually Jack Sparrow or Captain Teague) insists Sea Turtles were involved.
- Lampshaded in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series; a "textual sieve" is apparently some sort of book security device, but it is never very clear exactly what it does. At one point, a character asks Thursday just what it is, and she replies, "It's never fully explained."
- In the children's science fiction novel I Left My Sneakers in Dimension X, the main character is transported to Dimension X. Shortly after finding himself able to communicate with one of the locals there, he asks how he speaks his language. The local responds that the opposite is happening and the protagonist is speaking the language of Dimension X, which he quickly realizes is true. The explanation given is a quick bit about cross-dimensional travel's effect on the mind, and is never brought up again. Nor is it really a very good explanation, if someone from Dimension X came to our dimension, what language would they speak? (Considering in the series it includes not only the hundreds of languages on Earth but also alien ones.)
- It's stated that you have to "cross dimensions in exactly the right way", and that the monster that brought the protagonist there is "a perfectionist". Presumably, if you cross precisely, you can rearrange someone's brain in just the right way that they start speaking a different language. Telepathy, which appears into the series a lot, is probably also involved. It's still a major Handwave, but at least you could say that it's the work of the one creating the dimensional bridge, rather than a natural effect.
- In one of Harlan Ellison's short stories, he has the protagonist trapped in a situation that, judging by the description, there is absolutely no way he could logically escape. The author then stops the story to tell us that the protagonist remembers a time he once bought a pulp novel that ended with a Cliff Hanger in which its hero was likewise trapped in a seemingly inescapable situation. When the next chapter finally arrived, he very eagerly snapped it up, only to discover that it tied up all the stuff left hanging in the last episode in the first sentence by turning the hero into an action figure and having him punch his way out of the trap. Getting back to the story, the author then tells us the protagonist was still thinking of how cheated he'd felt about that pulp novel's hand-wave—when he finally escaped.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's The Rolling Stones, Hazel is writing a television show and got herself into this exact problem in what was intended to be series finale. When the show gets renewed, she and her grandsons start the next season with the hero back in the office perfectly healthy, and about to respond to another character's question "How did you escape?", when "the next action starts and it's so fast and so violent and so bloody that our unseen audience doesn't have time to think about it until the next commercial".
- In Jack Finney's short story "Behind the News", a newspaper man uses a melted-down meteor made of an unknown metal to make his news come true (kind of like the Twilight Zone episode "Printer's Devil"), and when his secretary doesn't understand how it's happening, he gives the following explanation:
"Miss Gerraghty," Johnny said sternly, "if you had ever read science fiction
, you'd know that the dullest part is always the explanation. It bores the reader and clutters up the story. Especially when the author flunked high-school physics and simply doesn't know how it works."
- There's never any danger of the international intrigue in the Enders Game series erupting into a full-scale nuclear war because, as Peter Wiggin explains in a throwaway line in the first book, the invention of energy shields has made nuclear weapons obsolete.
- Although later in the Ender's Shadow subseries, it is further clarified that the International Fleet, while normally neutral toward Earthside conflicts, will severely punish any nation that uses nukes.
- A criticism of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot stories is the way the mysteries are sometimes solved. It relies either on a one in a million chance that Poirot's interpretation is correct or Poirot knows something without going into how he knows it with Poirot hand waving the whole thing with "I have my methods."
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, demigods frequently date each other. Since all demigods' godly parents are related, that would mean demigods are all related and that any dating between demigods would be incest. But it turns out gods don't have DNA, meaning that demigods aren't related and it's fine for demigods to date each other. As long as the members of the couple don't share a godly parent.
- In Bored of the Rings, the question of whether there might be some more convenient way of disposing of the ring than schlepping it all the way to Fordor is raised and dodged:
Frito suddenly felt that all eyes were on him. "Couldn't we just drop it down a storm drain, or pawn it and swallow the ticket?" he said.
"Alas," said Goodgulf solemnly, "it is not that easy."
"Alas," explained Goodgulf.
"Alackaday," Orlon agreed.
- A famous cartoon by Sidney Harris shows two scientists at a blackboard, on which is written
then a miracle occurs...
- with the caption, "I think you should be more explicit here in step 2."
Live Action TV
- The webcomic Harkovast does this with the explanation for why the female reptilian humanoids have breasts.
- Girl Genius
- 8 Bit Theater lampshades this with "the wizard who did it."
- Captain Broadband dies at the end of issue two when killed by his own explosives device. By issue three he is back without explanation, save a small editor box stating clearly 'Captain Broadband died last issue' with no further explanation.
- What the Fu's preferred way of explaining things. The characters just roll with it.
- The Æon Flux episode "Reraizure" deals with the fate of creatures called "Narghiles". Since they're dangerous, one character decides to get rid of them, but because "You can't kill them" (those were his exact words and the only explanation given), he plans to put them all on a platform that will be shot into space.
- Creator example: writers for the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue" state that part of the reason they wrote the episode's events - revealing Terry McGinnis to be Bruce Wayne's biological son - was them realizing both him and his brother Matt have black hair, which looking at their parents (Mary is a redhead while Warren has light brown hair) is genetically improbable, a very clever way of handwaving any inconsistencies said reveal may create.
- Family Guy
- The show likes to lampshade its hand waves, since it makes no secret of operating on the Rule of Funny.
Stewie: Say, Brian, now that I think about it, how can you possibly have a thirteen-year-old son when you yourself are only seven?
Brian: Well, those are dog years.
Stewie: That doesn't make any sense.
Brian: You know what, Stewie? If you don't like it, go on the internet and complain.
- And again:
: So why did they film that scene live? Stewie
: Convenience. Brian
: Yeah, but— Stewie
: Let's not start pulling threads on this one.
- A few Simpsons episodes use this trope.
- One episode of X-Men: Evolution has Wolverine telling a story of how he fought in World War II alongside Captain America. When asked by Professor X how he remembers this in spite of the fact that he has such profound amnesia, Wolverine Hand Waves it by saying he remembers bits and pieces of the recent past while everything else is a blur.
- One episode features a premise where everyone except for Professor Farnsworth died, leading to Farnsworth attempting to resurrect them. Complications in the plot led to the existence of ridiculously human robot versions of Fry and Leela. Once everything is cleared up between them and the real ones, the robot doppelgangers leave with this exchange:
We're robots and we're in love. Let's ditch these meat jackets. [strips out of her mutant skin, revealing a Terminator-like exoskeleton] Robot Fry:
Whoa, cool! [takes off his human skin to show a similar exoskeleton, then speaks in a matching voice]
Hasta la vista, wiener! Robot Leela: [also in a Terminator voice]
We'll be back... for our stuff. [the two robots leave] Amy:
Why did their voices change? Farnsworth:
That's the one thing we'll never truly understand.
- One funny example is from the episode "The Deep South". Dr. Zoidberg makes a new home inside a giant conch shell in the ocean. Later on, hilarity ensues when it is destroyed through likewise impossible means.
My home! It burned down! [sobbing]
How did this happen!? Hermes:
That's a very good question! Bender:
So THAT'S where I left my cigar. [retrieves the cigar, puffs on it]
That explains everything. Hermes: That just raises further questions!!!
- A great deal of Futurama's plot points are hand waved. Usually done through Professor Farnsworth, usually played for laughs, and usually raising way, way more questions than they answer. Of special note is the episode Clone of My Own.
- The often-changing nature of how Bender works can result in these. Such as in Crimes of The Hot:
Bender: No! It's just ... neither of us can get up when we get knocked on our back.
Fry: What? I've seen you get up off your back tons of times.
Bender: Those times I was slightly on my side.
- Or in Lethal Inspection:
Bender: Nuh-uh! My wireless back-up unit saves a copy of me every day. So, if my body gets killed, big whoop, I just download into another body. I'm immortal, baby!
Amy: What? Then how come you always scream so much when you're in danger?
Bender: I never said I wasn't a drama queen.
- In Evil Con Carne, Hector Con Carne, Major Doctor Ghastly, and General Skarr visit an island and meet their currently elderly future selves. Eventually, we learn that Hector and Ghastly settled down and bore a son which Hector, being only a brain and a (sentient) stomach attached to a bear, naturally lampshades. Ghastly handwaves this as being caused by "the miracle of love".
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, when Billy suggests Grim use his scythe to warp reality and make Mandy beautiful, Grim just says "I'm not a miracle worker!"
: Grim, it's time to go to school. Grim
: I am the Grim Reaper. I don't have to go to school. Billy
: This episode
, you do!
- Early South Park episodes described the "Terrance and Phillip Show" as a cartoon with crappy animation, though this later evolved into a weirder (but funnier) premise that the show was actually filmed in Canada, where everything actually was crappy-looking. In the episode "Behind the Blow," which parodied VH-1's "Behind the Music", this inconsistency was waved away with a rather convoluted explanation. Apparently, in the South Park world there used to be a Terrance and Phillip cartoon that was separate from the live-action show, but the cartoon was so popular many people became confused as to whether or not T&P were real people or cartoon characters.
- In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius episode "The Junk Man", Sheen asks Jimmy several questions as they are flying to and from the Moon, like why the voyage takes only a few minutes and why the boys don't need space suits and helmets. However, both times Jimmy starts to answer Sheen's questions, the camera cuts to Carl on the other side of the rocket singing an off-key, made-up song about the Moon. Both times Carl finishes singing, the camera cuts to Jimmy asking Sheen if he understands his answer and Sheen responding that he is still confused.
- In the Invader Zim episode "The Frycook What Came From All That Space", Sizz-Lorr's very appearance is lampshaded by Zim of all people. The handwave comes in with Sizz-Lorr's response.
After your escape, the great Foodening began! Foodcourtia's most horrible food rush, that lasts twenty years! The gravatational pull from all that snacking makes it impossible for anything to leave the planet. I was trapped. Alone. Without help. Zim: Twenty years?
But I haven't been gone that long. Sizz-Lorr:
There's a time warp involved or something.
- In The Legend of Korra, Amon debends his victims by bloodbending them. It isn't explained any more that that, the characters even say "somehow", with Tarrlok saying that he had no idea how he did it but it made sense considering how powerful a bender Amon/Noatak was. That being said, fans have largely puzzled it out, taking into account classical Chinese understandings of biology, which have Blood and Chi as being intricately linked with one another. Chi was explicitly the root of Bending power in the Avatar-verse, so with the strong influence of mythic Chinese concepts on the series, it would make sense for Bloodbending to be able to block bending permanently.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic series as a whole tends to use magic as a hand wave whenever something pops up that shouldn't be able to function in the setting. Back in the day, the producer Lauren Faust had the writers make a point of sticking with things like candles or hand powered tools whenever possible, but if the story absolutely needed something more advanced to advance the plot, bam! A Wizard Did It!
- "Look Before You Sleep", three of the ponies are having a sleepover at Twilight Sparkle's house, which happens to be a massive tree. In a thunderstorm. Applejack wastes no time pointing out that a tree isn't exactly the best place to be when there is lightning. Twilight's answer? Magical lightning rod.
- In "Baby Cakes", Applejack wonders how come Mr. and Mrs. Cake, who are earth ponies, managed to give birth to fraternal twins who are a pegasus and a unicorn. Mr. Cake hastily explains that he has a distant relative who was a unicorn, and his wife has a distant relative who was a pegasus, then nervously adds "That makes sense, right?"
- And it's perhaps deliberately made as ridiculous as possible, as one of those relations would require the genes to go back in time and across a marriage.
- To say nothing about Equestria Girls, wherein Pinkie Pie (in both worlds) manages to guess what's going on in the other world. The only explanation as to how she knows almost exactly what's going on? "Just a hunch!" The reason the humane five are at odds with each other? Fake emails and texts were sent... and why didn't they think to talk to each other in person? Oh, they simply "Didn't think about it".
- In dreams, if you are aware enough to spot an inconsistency, your mind will Handwave it with the first explanation it can think of (which can be even more implausible than the original fact) to prevent you from waking up. And you will perfectly accept it. Then, when you wake up, Fridge Logic will come to you. In lucid dreaming, things that are out of the ordinary or impossible are called Dream Signs.
- A person whose brain's lobes have been separated makes for interesting experiments. Essentially, each eye now reports only to half of the brain and each half is operating somewhat independently. Show one eye a card telling the person to do something (get up and get a Coke, say) and the person will then do so with no memory of having read the card. Ask why he did that and (presuming it's the other lobe controlling the mouth) he'll begin inventing more and more fabulous explanations for why he did so, even when he's shown the card with both eyes. Freaky.
- It gets freakier. Severing the corpus collusum (part of the brain that connects its two hemispheres) which formerly was done to prevent epileptic seizures, can lead to alien hand syndrome. Each hand, like the eye, is controlled from the opposite hemisphere. So when they are separate, the left "rational" hemisphere is not in control of the left hand, but rather the right "emotional" hemisphere is. This had led to the right hemisphere and left hand essentially becoming mentally ill. One case had a man whose left hand would unbutton his shirt once the right hand had buttoned it up. An episode of House dealt with a patient who suffered from this. Even more extreme are the cases where the right hemisphere is violent. One patient had to sit on his left hand or it would attempt to attack people. In other cases, it may be suicidal (possibly an inspiration for Dr. Strangelove, where the titular character had to stop his hand from going into a Nazi salute, or attempting to strangle him).
- Even when the brain is whole, people are capable of awesome hand waves. When confronted with moral decisions, people make them almost instantly (unless they're really tough, like whether it's okay to sacrifice four people to save five others). Essentially, three things happen when we make a moral decision. One portion of the brain feels empathy for those involved (oh, wook at da baaybeees). Another portion of the brain seeks a much more utilitarian solution (kill the spares, collect all the food, live as a king). Depending on how strongly these two fire, we reach a decision, usually some kind of balance between the two. Then the final act happens; our prefrontal cortex (the part of the frontal lobe responsible for, among other things, logical thought) justifies the decision we've reached. In other words, all those books you had to read in philosophy 101 about morality and the justification for various ethics? So much handwaving for decisions stuffy German men had already made. But very, very sophisticated handwaving.
- One way people reduce cognitive dissonance (a difference between our actions — say, driving an SUV — and our beliefs — say, environmentalism — which causes some discomfort) is by rationalising their actions. This rationalization often takes the form of handwaves ("If it wasn't me driving this SUV, it'd be someone else, and I use public transport when I can."). Often if you give these explanations to other people, they'll point out just how flimsy they are. Unless they agree with you, in which case they'll tell you how rock-solid your logic is.
- This often happens in political discussions. Alice supports Politician X because he is a member of her preferred party. Bob points out that Politician X is corrupt and supports policies that conflict with Alice's morals. Alice invents reasons why Politician X's controversial actions aren't actually that bad, and he's still better than Politician Y.
- This can happen in improvised situations, such as in a dramatic exercise. One person says they can do something fantastical, while another, more grounded person questions why. The first person then quickly makes up a completely random and ridiculous explanation, instead of standing around going 'ummmm'.
- This can happen particularly with more imaginative students, as more realistic students tend to make up situations he/she is comfortable with, eg, cooking, or dancing.
- Also in speed writing, where, when under a time limit, participants don't have the luxury of sitting down and figuring out exactly how their character can time travel. 'She was given a magic pendant from a billion years ago.'