Inexplicably Awesome

Someone who is Inexplicably Awesome is Crazy Awesome Shrouded in Myth. Whatever backstory, secret origin or Mysterious Past an Inexplicably Awesome character has is by definition locked away; their existence is a conundrum. They usually display powers or abilities that are unusual if not downright bizarre for the setting, and exhibit eccentricities to match. One would assume that such an impenetrable enigma would be a source of gallons of plot, and they'd be right, although not in the obvious way: rather than being a puzzle to solve, their very presence is typically a plot generator, setting people and events in motion as a direct result of their oddball take on reality.

It should be noted, that they only are this trope if they are genuinely unique in their setting. If "he/she must be a Time Lord" is a workable explanation for a character and the series isn't even Doctor Who, odds are it's this trope. note  They can be anyone from a near omnipotent being to a mere weirdo, but that does not make them any less weird either way.

Attempting to actually explain their awesome may have unintended and hazardous consequences, including but not limited to Wallbangers, Cerebus Retcons and, in some severe cases, the dreaded Voodoo Shark.

Compare with The Wonka, a character who is successful owing to unique/crazy logic and who may overlap with this trope (as its Trope Namer does — see Literature below).


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  • Lala Ru of Now and Then, Here and There is a Mysterious Waif with a magic pendant that links to an infinite supply of torrential water, but apart from the fact that she's a living MacGuffin who is Really 700 Years Old and that use of her powers drains her life force, nothing is ever divulged about her origins or backstory. Hamdo would be a lesser, villainous example: it's not at all clear how a raving lunatic who would probably have difficulty going to the bathroom without help ended up "king" of a flying battleship, other than a hitherto unhinted period of mental competence.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya, for now, at least. The light novels look like they're going to explain where she got her powers from.
  • Mononoke's Medicine Peddler. He comes with no name, no backstory, unexplained magical powers, a Situational Sword, near-immortality, flamboyant clothes and a dry sense of humour. It's not even confirmed if he's human or not. Rather than causing the adventures, however, he just goes to the source. Probably.
  • Rak Wraithraiser from Tower of God. How did he get here in the first place? He swam through Shinsoo, that's all we know. He is loud, theatric, surprisingly intuitive and has an inspiring, simple mindset that can change people in an instant, even though they are a lot smarter than him. He kicks several kinds of ass and wields a giant spear, making him a literal Lancer for protagonist 25th Baam. Any obstacle he faces he overcomes within days, if there is something he wants, he'll get it and there is no-one greater in his mind than him, as can be seen in his countless Badass Boasts. Yet we know almost nothing about how Rak came to be, but it's okay, since he is badass enough to be named ManGator by fans. And this is the point where we should mention that he is a 4 m (12 ft) tall bipedal alligator that looks pretty much like a reincarnation of Godzilla.
  • Pani Poni Dash! is already packed with random insanity, but even the other characters can't begin to wrap their minds around their class president, Ichijou. Observe. If anyone tells you they know what's up with Ichijou, they are lying!
  • C.C. and V.V. of Code Geass both have shades of this, at least in the first season. They're basically immortal beings with little to no backstory who grant mental eye powers and speak in riddles, in what is otherwise a Mini-Mecha Real Robot series that focuses on chess and politics. In the second season, much of both their backstories are explained, but not nearly enough to give a complete picture. Fans' desire to learn more about Geass and the Codes is part of the reason why a continuation of the franchise is wanted so much.
  • Guu's powers are never truly explained, though it's hinted that she's a Humanoid Abomination.
  • Walter C. Dornez is an ordinary human but one of the deadliest characters in Hellsing thanks to his Razor Floss, and that's in a setting full of vampires and other weirdness. But while Hellsing more or less gives explanations for every other character's abilities, it's never said how or why Walter can use his Razor Floss in ways that don't even pretend to follow the laws of physics. Even at the age of 14, no less.
  • Raphael from Tenshi Ni Narumon is this even though he's not really doing much throughout much of the series - he's an angel professor from Angel Academy located somewhere in Heaven, has only one wing (the reason for this is probably the series' biggest unexplained mystery) has a very laidback and mischievous attitude and is in a relationship with his male student. For many fan(girl)s he's just Awesome incarnated.
  • Subverted in Ichinensei Ni Nacchattara. The protagonist is Inexplicably Awesome from the perspective of the other main characters, but we the readers know exactly how he came to be that way.
  • Done mildly in Eyeshield 21 with Hiruma. Just about all we know about his past is that he has a strained relationship with his father, has been living in a hotel since he was in middle school, and used to spend his time hanging out at a military base. None of this explains his endless supply of firearms, ability to blackmail people on an international level, or even why he has elf ears. His existence is simply crazy awesome.
  • The fan-favorite TK of Angel Beats!. Spends all his time dancing, only speaks by quoting English song lyrics (despite not actually knowing how to speak English), and has physical skills that only Angel has ever matched (and she's using reality hax to do so). It's admitted by various characters that TK is a total mystery: none of them know anything about his backstory, or even his real name.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!: Even by the standards of the other girls, Zazie Rainyday has been an enigma. Even as we delve into the pasts of her classmates (Mercenaries, Mages, Mad Scientists, The Undead, Half-Demons, a Robot, a Time-Traveler), the information we get on her has always been spotty: she's a Silent Bob, she can see ghosts, and she hangs out with unexplained, amorphous demon-like things. She calls them friends. Hundreds of chapters later, even after finally getting some info on her, her origins and motivation remain obscure.
  • Ninja Nonsense has Onsokumaru, who would be this trope, except for the fact that he's an incompetent and perverted moron. An incompetent and perverted moron who's basically a yellow ball with a face on it and who runs a ninja school. In the first episode he claims to be a hawk, but one of the main characters immediately calls him on the Blatant Lies of that.
  • The main characters in Axis Powers Hetalia are the Anthropomorphic Personifications of various countries. They "grow" as their people expand and grow in power, get "colds" when their countries are having financial problems, and die when their country/national identity is destroyed. It is never explained how or why they exist, they're just there. And since this is mostly a comedy show, it probably never will be explained.
  • The titular villain of Noein does gets his backstory explained, but his abilities, which include but are not limited to teleporting himself or others across dimensions, causing entities to crumble away with a touch, bending reality, and apparently terraforming his own universe and creating an eldritch army out of captive humans to assimilate parallel universes, are not.

    Comic Books 
  • The Joker runs on this trope, causing him to be the Trope Namer and Trope Codifier for tropes ranging from Joker Immunity to Multiple-Choice Past. He's so pants-on-head insane that even Superman has a hard time dealing with him whenever they go toe to toe. It's even implied that he is so unhinged, that he is aware of the Fourth Wall, and just doesn't care.
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac was intentionally created without a backstory because author Jhonen Vasquez knew that no backstory would satisfy reader expectations. He also felt that "I got pantsed in school. I kill now!" is a pretty silly motivation.
  • The Phantom Stranger went decades without any kind of "origin", until DC did a special issue of Secret Origins that offered four different, contradictory explanations for his mysterious abilities. Nowadays, most fans and many writers treat Alan Moore's tale of an angel who wouldn't choose sides in the War in Heaven as the de facto origin.
    • Geoff Johns has put a new spin on his origins: apparently, he was cursed by a group called the Circle of Eternity to watch what he sowed. That only leaves us asking this question: what did he sow? Then he's revealed to be Judas. As part of his punishment, the Circle condemned him to wear his thirty pieces of silver around his neck forever as a mark of shame.
  • During Marvel's run of G.I. Joe, Zartan was very much this. How can this assassin/biker gang leader make himself look like anyone within seconds? Never answered! The closest we got was outside speculation that it is "a mixture of hypnosis and holograms". Later on Devil's Due as well as IDW's reboot both gave their own origin to Zartan, and they had two things in common: they do not explain the full extent of his ability, and they both sucked.
  • Wolverine was like this for years after he was introduced. His face went unrevealed for about six months, the nature of his claws for a bit longer, several of his powers (healing factor, unbreakable bones) were unmentioned for years, the name "Logan" wasn't revealed until months after that, and his true origin took decades to come out. Marvel Comics was genuinely worried that his mysterious past was what made him cool, and if they revealed too much, they would not only ruin Wolverine, they would ruin the X-Men, and thus destroy Marvel Comics. They may well have been right; his original backstory had him being a wolverine that had been hyper-evolved into a human somehow.
  • Doctor Dinosaur claims to be a velociraptor who built a time machine after the Large Hadron Collider killed the dinosaurs and gave him super-intelligence, then traveled forward in time to sabotage the LHC. All of these claims are dubious at best, and there seem to be plenty of more plausible explanations for every ridiculous thing Dr. Dinosaur says...and yet, he keeps doing things that are flat out impossible, to the point where one starts wondering if his raving explanation is the truth.

    Films — Animated 
  • The many supernatural horrors from Where the Dead Go to Die, who are never given a true explanation as to what they are. Labby and the sun-headed Jesus in particular are very puzzling in this regard.
  • Frozen: Elsa was born with ice powers simply because the plot requires her to be born with ice powers. A few lines imply that this isn't entirely without precedent, however. Word of God explained it later, with 1,000 years passing since the last one, as well as a case of When the Planets Align. Doesn't make her any less awesome.
  • Pocahontas's shamanic powers go unnoticed by most of the characters, but she actually accomplishes quite a bit with them: she talks to trees, summons up spirits, leaps over ravines through levitating, survives crashing down in the water from a cliff, and learns English within three seconds.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Joker as depicted in The Dark Knight proves conclusively that you don't have to be even remotely on the side of good to embody this trope. The movie goes to great lengths to deny that the Joker has any backstory whatsoever, even having the Joker himself lampoon the idea by twice (and nearly three times) giving mutually contradictory explanations of how he got his signature scars.
  • Yoda in Star Wars. Every single alien in the cantina scene of A New Hope has been given a name, a species, and an extensive backstory in the Expanded Universe, but we don't even know what species Yoda is. He's just some little old green guy who happens to be the most powerful Jedi who ever lived. And George Lucas intends it to stay that way; Yoda's history is officially off-limits.
  • Mystery Men: The Sphinx has two superpowers, apparently: he can slice guns apart with his mind, and "He's terribly mysterious".
  • Labyrinth: Jareth is a handsome, snarky, elegant Reality Warper who appears human, yet somehow became the Goblin King and created the titular Living Labyrinth to surround their city. His unknown Backstory has become prime Fanfic Fuel over the decades.

  • Mary Poppins is not only an example of this trope, but quite possibly scarier than the Joker once you realize that in the original books, she was practically a Physical God. She wasn't the nice, motherly, "oh children, what shall I do with you?" type of nanny either, but the "put you through Ironic Hell until you cry uncle and promise to behave" type.
  • Tom Bombadil from The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was deliberately vague to his origins, so that some mysteries might remain in the world. It's outright stated that he was the first being in Eń, and that he will be the last. This means that when Morgoth and the other Valar descended from the Halls of Il˙vatar into the world he was already there.
    • This gets rather meta since Tolkein wrote the first Bombadil story as a sort of spirit of the English countryside years before he published anything with Middle Earth, and only retroactively placed him there. He is literally older than that universe.
  • The Magic School Bus, featuring the eccentric and wonderful Ms. Frizzle, was a set of picture books before it was a cartoon series.
  • At the start of the series, Angela from Inheritance Cycle seems to be a short and harmless herbalist with a sharp wit who doesn't like to use magic and enjoys knitting. Then we find out the she can speak Urgal, happens to be a Seer, is the only person in the entire Varden who is able to shield her mind and thoughts from the cursed-child Elva (whose powers even the Dragon-Rider Eragon isn't immune to), is able to simultaneously hold the amazingly skilled fighter Arya, the ferocious dragon Saphira and the dragon-rider Eragon in place with her mind alone, has killed eight-feet-tall Kulls in hand-to-hand combat, and is an expert at using the sword she carries - which turns out to be the sharpest blade in all of existence. Her origin and past is unknown and left open to speculation.
    • We do know one thing. At some point in the past she was the student of some crazy old magician who lives in the middle of nowhere, and would make carvings for him while she was there. He himself is equally an enigma, all we know is that he searches for the answers to seemingly inane questions(much like Angela was doing in the first book when trying to disprove the existence of toads)is apparently a brilliant magician, and uses magic without the ancient language seemingly effortlessly(an incredibly dangerous and difficult thing to do).
  • Derek Leech in The Quorum by Kim Newman. He first appears standing on the bed of the river Thames in 1961. He already has "language, knowledge, purpose" and a name, but he doesn't have any history before then. He goes on to build himself from nothing into a highly influential Corrupt Corporate Executive who is part Rupert Murdoch, part Richard Branson and part Satan, working inexorably towards a diabolical purpose, not sleeping and chewing constantly to keep his rat-like teeth from growing too long, but there's never an explanation of where he came from.
  • There is a character called Hoid that shows up in all Brandon Sanderson's adult fiction (which are all in the same verse. The only things we know are that it's the same person every time, he can hop from world to world by some unknown means, and that he's apparently immortal (seeing as the books he's appeared in take place over a 500 year or thereabouts time span according to Word of God) He frequently acts odd but seems to have a homing instinct for significant events and people, even if those people don't really understand their own significance. He has some skill with a type of magic called Lightweaving, which is talked about in one of Brandon Sanderson's unpublished works, Dragonsteel (or the Liar of Partinel). The magic involves, among other things, illusions. He may well be one of the oldest living things in the universe, given that he was there at the shattering of Adonalsium.
  • The possibility that the trope namer for The Wonka — Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — might be a Time Lord is one of the Grand Unifying Guesses. Absolutely no backstory is given for him in the original novel and its sequel, leaving the reader only with this extraordinary gentleman who has not only become a Living Legend for the Impossibly Delicious Food his factory produces, but employs a race of doll-sized people as his workforce, has a glass elevator that doubles as a functioning spacecraft, and has invented such wonders as a fountain-of-youth pill and its aging counterpart...among other things. To date, only one major adaptation (the 2005 film) has attempted to give him a detailed backstory, and even then it only goes so far to explain the wonders he's created. The 2013 stage musical has him only say this much:
    Despite the man seen at these doors
    My childhood home was bland like yours
    But I knew how to look to find
    A world that wasn't color-blind

    Live Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor, towards the start of his decades long run, was a bizarre man with no solid explanation for his story-generating time-travelling abilities. Since then much background information has been stated, but the most important piece - that his species are ultra-powerful masters of time and he's on the run from them - was revealed back in 1969, and large gaps in his past and character are half-shrouded and still strange. Various Retcons and attempts to explain things (or make things more complicated) have been attempted, but it's generally accepted the Doctor will always retain some level of mystery.
    • His Evil Counterpart the Master is similar. The new series made an effort to provide an explanation for his madness and megalomania but it still leaves some holes, and his past relationship and obsession with the Doctor is still unexplained.
    • The Weeping Angels are one of the most terrifying monsters in the entire history of the series partially because of this trope. No effort is made to explain their origin or motivations and what little is known about them is only barely understood.
      • To the point where Rassilon, the founder of Time Lord society, once even referred to them as "the Weeping Angels of Old", implying that they not only predate the Time Lords, but even they don't know what the hell they actually are?!
  • The title character of Ghost Writer is an amnesiac ghost who communicates by manipulating text to form messages. His full backstory, however, is never so much as hinted at.
  • Mr. Roarke of Fantasy Island, especially in later seasons, where he demonstrated supernatural abilities well beyond the fantasies he provided for his guests, including confronting and turning away demonic entities.
  • MythBusters - Jokes about Jamie Hyneman's Expansion Pack Past can sometimes turn him into a bit of this — maybe he can't actually pull off all this stuff they're saying, but doesn't it sound like he could?
  • Karen Walker from Will and Grace would frequently joke about outrageous, often contradictory episodes from her life, even from before she married Stan and became the over the top Rich Bitch. Still, Noodle Incidents ("You know how I'm into gangster rap right?"), celebrity friends, her real age, and even the condition of her immortal soul were strictly on a need-to-know basis.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation's Guinan. By all appearances, she's nothing more than a middle-aged human woman...who's old enough to have been married 23 times, powerful enough to hold her own in a fight against Q, perceptive enough to sense changes in the fabric of space-time, and knowledgeable enough to know about alien races that the Federation has never made contact with. And yet, she chooses to spend her life tending bar on the Enterprise, usually dispensing life advice to neurotic Starfleet officers. The only clues we ever get about her background are that she's from "a race of Listeners" who were almost entirely assimilated by the Borg and that she's spent some time in both 18th century Earth and a Negative Space Wedgie Pocket Dimension where you get to live out the most boring possible version of your own personal heaven for all eternity.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The title character of Liō. It's possible the entire strip is the non-school-approved daydreams of a very weird kid. But if the pet squid, the outer space trips, and the showing up of other comic strip characters are real, he's got to be Inexplicably Awesome.


    Tabletop Games 
  • The Lady of Pain in Planescape manages to be this, which is quite a feat in a setting where the actual gods are an important element. Partially because she's capable of keeping them out of Sigil, and even seems to be responsible for killing a god who tried to set up shop in her town, and partially because nothing about her is ever explained. We don't even know her Character Alignment or if "she" is actually female. But don't, don't try to worship her. Because of the more philosophical nature of the setting, the creators went out of their way to keep her an enigma, including vetoing any and all attempts to attach stats to her. (The closest they got to giving her any kind of stats was in the 3rd Edition sourcebook Planar Handbook, in which she is described as Lawful Neutral and female. This alone was too much for some older fans to stomach.) She is also one of the few entities to avert the Lord British Postulate. NEVER challenge or anger her - you can't withstand her wrath.
  • Cypher in Warhammer 40,000. We don't know who he is, where he comes from, where he's going, or what he wants. All we know is he periodically shows up on battlefields to turn people into smoking craters with his two pistols and that he has a sword that he never uses.
    • The Immortal God Emperor of Mankind appeared out of nowhere during humanity's darkest time (well, one of them, at least) to lead a centuries-long, galaxy-spanning campaign of conquest that united nearly all of humanity under one rule for the first time in its history. He is given an origin story, but it makes no sense and only appears in early material, which is frequently ignored by writers and fans alike.
    • His second in command Malcador gets even less of an origin, despite being second only to the Emperor in psychic power and the founder of basically the entire Imperial government. When the Emperor first shows up in the backstory, they were already old friends.

    Video Games 
  • The entire main cast of Killer7 probably qualifies, all the more since the officially published backstory doesn't actually match what's presented in the game. Even the character with the most backstory given in the game, Dan Smith, still counts once you realize he had to have died twice.
  • The GMan from Half-Life appears to be a plainly dressed businessman with a speech impediment, a bit strange-looking (described as "Emaciated Robert Oppenheimer" by one fan), but still basically normal-looking. Yet he pulls the weirdest tricks in the whole game, freezing time and walking right into a scene as if through the Fourth Wall. The way he speaks, the words he chooses, and the references he makes accentuate his oddness. For that matter, looking like a calm and plainly dressed businessman is itself odd when he appears in the middle of a alien-infested war zone.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has a few characters who qualify. Who is the Happy Mask Shop Man, how did he come by Majora's Mask, and why is he the only guy with time-travel-proof memory besides Link and co.? Majora's Mask itself toes the line between this and Eldritch Abomination, as does its opposite number, the Fierce Deity Mask - Majora has some backstory alluded to in-game, but it's fairly vague.
  • Big Joe, a wandering Elvis Impersonator in the original Xenogears. He encounters the party at the most bizarre moments: During the Aveh tournament he is the crowd favorite. His moves deal pitiful damage, but the audience in turn restores his HP and hurls cans at you for big-time hurt; he cons 5000 G out of you in the Nortune Civil Block; he plays cards against you on the Yggdrasil; he is a prisoner in the Ethos HQ; while Shevat is under attack, he is found in the air ducts pondering his life; and he is a dancer in the Level 2 area of Etrenank. In the end of the game, he is both a Sound Test and a shop keeper in the ruins of Zeboim. A somewhat hidden fact in the game is that Big Joe was actually living at the time of the ancient Zeboim civilization, a five-time hit movie star, NBA Player of the Match, Baseball Triple Clow, Wimbledon Grandslam - and in the same year he won both the WWE Championship and a Pulitzer prize. Unfortunately, he fell over at one of his numerous prize ceremonies, damaging his brain, and started to think he was Elvis. Somehow he placed in suspended animation before Zeboim fell and woke up 4000 years later in the present day Xenogears era, explaining his longevity (but not his indestructibility or seeming teleportation between cities.)
  • Zer0 in Borderlands 2. Gearbox even says they designed him to be this. The only things we know about him are that he is (likely) male, he (usually) fights for the thrill and challenge, and loves haiku. Beyond that, we know nothing. We don't even know if he's human.
  • Flemeth of the Dragon Age series, unless the third game sheds some light on her. She's an immortal shapeshifting witch on a completely different power level than anyone else in the setting, can identify world-changing heroes on sight, and no-one knows quite what she is; not the escaped slave from The Magocracy, not the possessed mage, not even her own daughter. The fact that she has planted several fake backstories for herself in folklore and intentionally drops self-contradictory hints doesn't help.
  • Saints Row:
    • The Boss. Throughout all the games, we never get anything more than tantalising glimpses into their Mysterious Past, never anything concrete that explains just how some random schmuck remade him/herself into the second most deadly person on the planet.
    • Oleg from Saints Row: The Third. How did he get so large, powerful, durable? What exactly did he do for the KGB? How does he recognise STAG technology or the Deckers' NEMO Chair? Apart from a vague assertion that it would be best for his alliance with the Saints if they did not know, we have nothing.
  • Max Payne. In an ostensibly realistic Film Noir-inspired series, we get absolutely no explanation as to how a supposedly ordinary (former) policeman is actually an escapee from a Heroic Bloodshed work who has Super Reflexes, fighting skills that special forces would weep in envy over, and only needs painkillers to shrug off ridiculous amounts of damage.
  • HUNK from Resident Evil. He's implied to be Umbrella's top non-Super Soldier operative, taking up the moniker of "Mr. Death" due to his habit of being the Sole Survivor of crazy Suicide Missions. He's never been met by any of the main protagonists, and no-one knows his real name or his past, although we have been given very brief glimpses of his face (in one ending, he takes his gasmask off and you can see his reflection in the visor).
  • The Merchant in Resident Evil 4. Nobody has any idea who or even what he is (there's some subtle hints in his appearance that he's probably not human) or where he gets all those wonderful guns, or why he's even selling them to you.
  • OFF leaves a lot of things about many of the characters in the game mysterious, but Zacharie is easily the most mysterious of them all. He's completely aware that he's in a video game, and the player eventually finds out that he owns the amusement park in Zone 2 (and a book can be found in the same zone about a hero slaying a monster, with the hero somewhat implied to be Zacharie.) He's rubbed shoulders with a lot of characters, including the Judge (who he's on a first name basis with and is even willing to take over for him for a while when he's grieving over the loss of his brother,) Hugo (who has taken a huge liking to him in the past) and Bonus Boss Sugar. There's also no explanation given as to why he's willing to repeatedly sell things to the Batter when he's planning to basically destroy the world.
  • No More Heroes and its sequel. If you're lucky, you'll get a brief snippet of vague backstory for your next assassin, but other than that there's no explanation for the insane mailman superhero with the crotch laser (who even comes back as two separate characters in the sequel despite being bisected), the Japanese guy with the beam naginata who can summon laser dragons, the unstable baseball bat-wielding ballerina with an army of gimps, and many other characters. Even the UAA itself is strange and incomprehensible; somehow Silvia managed to dupe at least 11 dangerous killers (and one loser otaku with a beam katana) into believing they were part of a fictional organization and get them to kill each other. But then in the sequel it's suddenly a real organization again.

  • The title character of minus. is like a more irresponsible Mary Poppins.
  • The dragons in Ozy and Millie are a mild case. Oddly enough, they're not magical beings as such, but they do seem to be involved in the surreal from time to time. Ozy put it best: "They like to attempt the impossible on a regular basis. Sometimes, to their surprise, it actually works." This may account for why there's a portal to another dimension in Llewellyn's couch.
  • Richard from Looking for Group. Hilariously entertaining and essentially a Memetic Badass, we don't really know anything about Richard's past. Except that he's not actually dead.
  • Jones ("just Jones is enough") from Gunnerkrigg Court. She's "Practically perfect in every way" — as tricky as Mary Poppins, as coldly precise and as unstoppable as a Terminator, and apparently even Coyote has no power over her — yet almost no one (including the readers) knows who and what Jones is, other than she's "not a robot". Which is less than informative, given that non-robotic beings known to visit or inhabit the Court range from shadow folk to extradimensional psychic arthropods to deities from three different pantheons... so far.
    • As of "The Stone", her history has been revealed in flashback: she's been around almost as long as the Earth itself, and most of the time in which she wasn't encased in rock has been spent wandering the planet or, more recently, teaching and guiding others. Even so, Jones outright says that she doesn't know what she is.
  • The crazy gymnast assassin Oasis of Sluggy Freelance. Pete has shown us hints as to who (or rather what) she is but has pulled the rug out from under us before. Whether she's a robot, a real girl with fire powers that's immortal to boot, a zombie-like being who heals all wounds, a ghost that 'dominates' other beings to the point they even look like her, or something else we don't really know. All we know is she apparently can't be killed and goes berserk whenever she sees someone from Hereti Corp.
    • Also Bun-bun. A badass talking rabbit with a bad attitude, a switchblade, and a glock he pulls out from nowhere. The only clues we've had to his past so far is that he's been thrown out of time once before by Santa Claus, his mother was probably killed in front of his eyes, and he was put back into the right timeline by Uncle Time who admits it was just somewhere in the right 'ballpark'.
  • Fortiscue the sheep from Commander Kitty is young enough that Nin Wah guesses he hired her and her crew to steal an action figure for his collection, but he's somehow responsible for building a Ridiculously Human Robot (who later turned on him), inventing a consumer electronic device used by nearly half the galaxy, and runnning a massive cloning operation aboard a gigantic space lab. These achievements are really the closest thing he has to a backstory.

    Web Original 
  • The closest thing Ruby Quest has to a full-fledged antagonist is Ace, a mysterious hulking bruiser wearing a bird mask. What little is divulged about him (he used to work as an orderly at the Metal Glen before going berserk, he was actually excavated from the bottom of the ocean, and his real face looks like a mass of writhing tentacles) fails to explain the questions of what he is and who he really works for.
  • Ebony of My Immortal.
  • At Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, there's this one teacher in the Magical Arts Department. She goes by 'Circe', but that may be her real name instead of a codename. She may be the real Circe from classical Greek myth. She occasionally rambles, but her ramblings tend to be real prophecies. No one knows why she came to the academy, or how old she really is, or how she got her powers, or even if she's a mutant. She has a history of picking people to mentor, and later the people die horribly while fighting great evils. She just decided to mentor one of the main characters.
  • Near everything in the SCP Foundation, as the moment anyone finds a way to fully explain an SCP's attributes in ways that normal humans can understand, it loses its SCP designation.
  • The Slenderman. No one knows where he comes from, why he kidnaps children and mind rapes people, or why he is The Blank. (Or who his tailor is.) And anyone who does try to give him a backstory will probably get shot down, as he's much more scary and fun when he's Shrouded in Myth.
  • Jeannette from Funny Business is a subversion. She is practically omnipotent, but the second half of the story is dedicated to explaining her existence through certain philosophical thought experiments.
  • Dad. No explanation is given for any of the insane things he can pull, which includes Super Strength, Eye Beams, a stretchy tongue, summoning an electric guitar complete with giant amps and an entire stage, and a penchant for his head catching on fire.
  • Fluffle Puff. She can seemingly summon objects from nowhere, withstand any and all attempts to move her unless she wants to be moved, and is immune to pretty much anything a villainous character throws at her. How? Why? No idea! However, it's all Played for Laughs rather than any attempt to tell a serious story, so it all most likely falls under Rule of Funny.

    Western Animation 
  • Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus takes a very hands-on approach to education which typically involves taking her students on "Field Trips" in her bus, which has the power to shrink, expand, change, transform and generally do things school buses aren't supposed to be able to (it is a magic school bus, after all), and that doesn't even begin to describe the various things it can do to the students themselves for the sake of first-hand experience with the subject of the day. All that's ever revealed about her and the bus is that her first name is Valerie and the guy who built the bus doesn't seem particularly magical himself.
  • Miss Tickle from Mission: Magic! did the same shtick as Ms. Frizzle, but earlier. She used a magic cat statue and a door she drew in a chalkboard in place of a school bus, but otherwise had the same hair color and even a similar group of students. Miss Tickle is probably Ms. Frizzle's cousin or older sister.
  • Dr. Henry Killinger from The Venture Bros.. Even though other characters on the show have magical powers, Killinger is clearly a cut above everyone else, especially because nothing about him is ever explained. He inexplicably knows everyone's backstory and most secret desires, he can magically cure herpes and pull anything he needs out of his Magic Murder Bag, and despite his name and costume, he seems to be single-mindedly promoting happiness and helping people realize their potential. He can fly on an umbrella like Mary Poppins, and at one point his face appears in the stars and quotes Shakespeare. It's also heavily implied he's just Henry Kissinger, and always has been.
  • Inspector Gadget - Gadget manages to be a superb example of Inexplicably Awesome despite also being Inspector Oblivious. Never mind that it is his niece Penny and his trusty superintelligent dog Brain who actually do all the investigating (and get none of the credit): just how the hell did he end up as a walking Swiss Army Hammerspace Knife who would probably be the most dangerous crimefighter in the world if he wasn't such a flaming idiot? The show never tells us, and that is more fitting than any mundane explanation. The Movie takes a stab at it, but it predictably does not go well.
    • The professor who gave him the gadgets did appear in at least one episode, but the story behind them was never shown.
    • At least one continuity had him have tripped down the stairs!
    • Penny makes even less sense. Where did that computer book come from? When did Penny learn how to hack everything in the world? How does she always have the time to follow Gadget around? Though the last question could be answered by Penny's freakish intelligence getting her out of school early.
  • The Flintstones: Bamm-Bamm's Super Strength went completely unexplained. When his biological parents appeared they were perfectly normal.
  • The twins from Superjail have Reality Warper powers, affect the plot in ways that border on Deus ex Machina to Diabolus Ex Machina and almost never interact directly with the other characters, but there doesn't seem to be any explanation at all as to why they can do these things. They don't even seem to be Superjail employees or inmates and don't seem to have any specific reason for messing with the jail (besides maybe hating the Warden which is sometimes sort of implied).
    • In the second season however it is revealed that they're alien pranksters who came to Earth on a year abroad but had too much fun in Superjail to go back to their family.
  • Stewie Griffin in Family Guy is a one year old who has successfully built a Time Machine, travelled to parallel universes, created human clones on more than one occassion, built a machine to control the worlds weather, mind control devices, and transmat pods among other things. No explanation is given for his super intelligence, nor how his entire family (aside from Brian) are completely oblivious to what Stewie is up to all the time.
  • Pinkie Pie in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic regularly ignores, leans on or stares at the fourth wall, defies the laws of physics and magic whenever plot or humour convenient, and launches into musicals when no one else does. She's popped out of locations too small for her to fit, appeared inside of mirrors, and even fought the closing circle at the end of the episode. While this itself isn't unusual for a cartoon, she's the only one, and everyone else is well aware that Pinkie Pie doesn't really work with the same rules as anyone else, and just do their best to ignore the weirdness. Her strange actions drive the plot in several episodes. Twilight actually tried to figure out one of her nonsensical abilities, and ended up being so frustrated she gave up trying. Lampshaded in Magic Duel, Pinkie Pie loses her mouth and is later made to play several instruments at once, including a tuba, by Twilight. When asked how she could play a tuba with no mouth, Twilight responds "That wasn't magic. That was just Pinkie Pie."
    • Princesses Celestia and Luna are Physical Goddesses with enough power to move the sun and the moon (and stop them, as Nightmare Moon demonstrates) with no explanation of their origin (except for a brief mention by Celestia that they arrived to end Discord's rule) or phenomenal level of power. Former show-runner Lauren Faust said that keeping them mysterious was part of their character. note 
    • Discord himself. He is by an enormous margin the most powerful and evil being ever to beset Equestria, but aside from being referred to as "the spirit of chaos and disharmony" (and it isn't clarified whether that's only a title or he's an Anthropomorphic Personification) and once ruling Equestria as an Evil Overlord nothing is truly known about him.
    • Many of the other main villains get this too; there has been a lot of still-unconfirmed speculation on the origins of Queen Chrysalis and the changelings, King Sombra, and the nightmare forces that corrupted Luna.
  • Ferb from Phineas and Ferb. A walking Funny Background Event who only gets one or two lines per episode, he's fluent in such languages as dolphin and Martian and is quite possibly the entire reason the kids are able to defy the laws of physics (Phineas is the idea guy, but Ferb draws up the actual blueprints). Also, he has green hair. This never gets explained.
    Isabella: Yeah, I once saw Ferb play an entire game of soccer using a pumpkin, and he didn't even break it! To this day, his motivation for doing so remains shrouded in mystery.
  • Resident technowizard Raf in Transformers Prime can have his computing prowess explained by being a Child Prodigy, there has yet to be a sufficient explanation for why he instantly understood Bumblebee's beeps.