TV Tropes Needs Your Help
View Kickstarter Project
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here
and discuss here
Mind Screw Driver
HAL: I'm evil. [kills astronauts]
Dave Bowman: I must shut you down now, HAL.
HAL: Daisy, Daisy...
Dave Bowman: Now I must finish this mission alone.
[STRANGE THINGS happen, and they MAKE SENSE]
Wow. I understand the movie now.
A Mind Screwdriver is a side-story, sequel, or piece of bonus/All There in the Manual
material that exists at least partially for the purpose of clearing up a Mind Screw
and/or Gainax Ending
. When done well (and presented in such a way that viewers can easily find it), a Mind Screwdriver can make an already interesting plot that much more so, and even add a new layer of depth to the story. When done poorly, it can feel like a rather lame cop-out by writers who didn't care enough
to solve the problems (continuity-related or otherwise) that their additional information created.
Chances are very, very good this never made it out of the country of origin
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Advent Children pretty much exists entirely to clear up the Mind Screw at the end of Final Fantasy VII. Or at least assure the world that they hadn't intended the ending to be a Kill 'em All.
- The director's cut version adds more scenes that explains background events that were covered in the original game, the novel, and the spin-off.
- Better candidates for the Mind Screwdrivers of FFVII and its Compilations are the Japan-only Ultimania books which do explain a number of plot points and answer many long-asked questions.
- The End Of Evangelion was supposed to clear up the lingering questions left behind by the notorious series ending. Of course, Evangelion wouldn't be Evangelion without rampant trope subversion, so the movie managed to clarify some things about the plot while still leaving massive questions unanswered, introducing whole new ones, and being a complete and unmitigated Mind Screw in and of itself.
- There is an Evangelion video game that was only released in Japan that contains unlockable notes about the backstory of the anime. They explain things like where Adam and Lilith came from (they were being created by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens to seed planets with life, and were never intended to end up on the same planet) and what the Angels were trying to accomplish (by reaching Adam, they would've started their own version of the Third Impact, which would've wiped out all Lilith-based life and replaced them with Angels).
- The DVD commentary for FLCL clears some things up.
- The 13 episode Kyousogiga anime series is this to its infamous Episode 0.
- Boogiepop Phantom makes a lot more sense if you've read the "Boogiepop and Others" and "Boogiepop At Dawn" light-novels beforehand (neither of which were localized when the anime was.)
- The introduction of the 1980s comic book sequel to The Prisoner rationalized away the strange last episode. They fed Number 6 LSD.
- The tie-in Graphic Novels for Heroes qualify; they usually take place as side-stories complimenting the concurrent episodes (helping to make sense of different viewpoints in the story), and also offer glimpses into the pasts and minds of various characters (helping to make sense of them and the Heroes-verse in general)... up until they're RetConned by later comics or the series itself. Happens enough that they have next to no weight in canon.
- Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain is rather infamous for its trippy non-linear plot that takes place over the course of 1,000 years of human history, and it involves three different iterations (each) of two of the same characters—one of whom may or may not be a fictional character, and two of whom may or may not be the same person. Aronofsky's accompanying graphic novel adaptation actually includes a running narration by the protagonist that clarifies some of the more ambiguous plot points and makes the story easier to follow. Much like 2001: A Space Odyssey, the film confused a lot of viewers because it attempted to tell the story almost entirely through visuals.
- Much of the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact is devoted to explaining the ambiguities of its predecessor, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Would also qualify for an in-universe example, as the characters themselves are seeking the answers. However, it's also worth noting that there isn't actually much explained (such as just what happened in the trippy ending sequence) and if anything it raises even more questions. (The bit about Hal seemingly going homicidally insane is the only thing that is ever made clear.) You could also read the novels, but not even in the original novel was much explained beyond what happened to Hal and a few suggestions as to what the Monolith might be.
- Southland Tales has a tie-in graphic novel which explains a lot of background for the film's convoluted plot. However, for many viewers, it suffers from being so ambitious that they're not willing to decipher it. While the books (the movie's only part 4-6; 1-3 are a graphic novel) do fill in lots of backstory, online director interviews and other breakdowns are quite helpful in clarifying the deep, yet admittedly confusing, film.
- Donnie Darko has the eponymous character who receives a book on time travel from his science teacher, time travelling also being the central plot driving device of the movie. A director's cut released a few years after the original DVD release briefly cuts to pages from said book, where the mechanics of time travel in this movie are explained - which is vital to figuring out what the hell is going on. The book was later actually published and released. It explains most of the background and events present in the movie. Yet while it explains some of the time travel mechanics, the closest thing we have to an explanation of where Frank came from or who is manipulating Donnie is a couple lines in the commentary saying that maybe it's God. Or aliens. Whatever.
- Several small scenes during the credits of Wild Things piece together the otherwise incomprehensible series of twists and turns the story takes.
- Memento's plot makes sense on its own (as long as you can keep up with it), but the website gives an awful lot of backstory (including spoilers) that lend a much fuller understanding.
- The Mind Screw ending of the 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes only makes sense if you visit the (now inactive) website for the movie and learn that Thade learns how to use human technology while trapped in the Oberon, and when he eventually escapes he fishes Leo's original pod out of the swamp, restores it to working order and flies into the electromagnetic storm after him, arriving earlier than he did and inciting a second ape rebellion.
- The Book of Lost Memories was written to explain the mountains of symbolism (but not the plot) in the first three Silent Hill games. Whether this lessens the ambiguity or makes an already Mind Screwy series even more impenetrable is still up for debate.
- The Xenogears Perfect Works books provides backstory and detailed exposition necessary to understand a game so choked with symbolism and Mind Screws.
- Halsey's Journal in the Halo: Reach Limited and Legendary Editions as well as the various ONI Reports released before the 10th Anniversary Updated Re-release of the original game serve the purpose of placing the events of Reach within the canon of the Halo Universe. The success of this is questionable due to the sheer number of retcons and the severity of those retcons, including what was previously a battle that lasted for less than a few days now taking the better part of a few months. And of course, Jun is still a mystery.
- Picnic at Hanging Rock had an 18th chapter which explained just what happened to the missing girls. It was excised by the publisher. It was later released as The Secret of Hanging Rock decades later.
- Bruce Kalish had to explain a good deal of Power Rangers S.P.D.'s plotholes in interviews after the fact. Also, the official website explained that A-Squad had been brainwashed (as opposed to the improbable apparent scenario in-show: the whole team deciding to go bad.)
- The final season of LOST seems to be shaping up to be this. It's about time...
- The online material for Smallville often clears up some of the backgrounds and relationships of certain groups and characters, like the history of Smallville and how it connects to Krypton, or the Veritas society.
- The Grand Finale of Ashes to Ashes impressively managed to be one of these for not just Ashes but its parent series Life On Mars.
- Although it all makes sense, some Stargate Universe fans were confused by the ending of the episode "Time" and/or the fact that everything is back to normal by the start of the next episode, so a subsequent Kino Webisode referenced the issue. Eli explained that Scott's Kino went back in time like the first one, but as it contained all the information they needed in order to cure the parasite in the water without being killed by the aliens, everything turned out fine.
- The story that Peter Gabriel wrote for the liner notes of the Genesis Concept Album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. Though it actually doesn't explain things very much. For that, see this site. And prepare to walk away still not sure...
- The Evillious Chronicles is much more easy to understand with the novels, which carry the bulk of the story that is often confusingly condensed into the songs (which are released first). Still, while fans are waiting on that for their clarification, mothy often releases his albums with exposition booklets that serve as this.
- The concept of Heartland by Owen Pallett is not explicitly explained in the lyrics and there is no booklet, so the only reason anyone knows what it's about is that Pallet has explained it in interviews. It's about a "young, ultra violent" 14th Century farmer named Lewis who lives in a land called Spectrum. He knows that he and his world are creations of Pallett, but it's unclear whether he's always known or if he figured it out at some point. It's impossible to fully understand any of the songs unless you're Pallett (and maybe not even then), but certain things can be gleaned. For example, in the penultimate song "Tryst with Mephistopheles", Lewis kills Pallett.
- If you have some mental condition or something else that makes you suffer delusions or just makes you very quirky, finding out you have that condition might really help you understand why you’re so different.
- The World Ends with You: The Secret Reports. Of course, getting them all unlocks The Stinger, which is more confusing than anything in the actual plot.
- Similarly, the Ansem Reports in the Kingdom Hearts game, by the same people.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 managed to clear up the plot of MGS2, at the price of creating a truly spectacular Continuity Lockout and Doing In the Wizard. And if that weren't enough, the free "MGS Database" app released to promote Metal Gear Solid 4 further clarifies things.
- Metal Gear Solid 3 was essentially the first half of the series' screwdriving process. Specific example: although it's very easy to miss, the whole subplot with The Sorrow serves to very neatly retroactively explain why Ocelot could be possessed by Liquid in the second game: because Ocelot's father was a medium.
- Speaking of Metal Gear Solid 2, the game was going to contain a Mind Screwdriver of its own in the form of Psycho Mantis' mask as an unlockable. It was going to let you hear the thoughts of other characters during cutscenes/codec calls, and those thoughts were supposedly going to give you a major clue to what was really going on in the game's plot. But alas, the game was rushed for the holidays, so it didn't get implemented.
- Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is a retelling of several games in the Resident Evil series which attempts to fill in the plot holes the previous games left behind. (Resident Evil: Code: Veronica featured a video, on a bonus disc, which tried to do the same; "The Wesker Report" was subsequently made obsolete when the next games retconned the story in a different way.)
- And Resident Evil 5 had a nice Author's Saving Throw, though it might be a Voodoo Shark, explaining what was up with how Wesker got better, one of the main parts that was kept. Original Version. Wesker got a secret formula that turns people into sentient uber-not-zombies. Second explanation, turns out Wesker was part of an old Umbrella project, the formula only works for him, and was leaked to him.
- The game version of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream was made to further flesh out the characters in the original story as well as answer the question as to why AM was doing what it was.
- Digital Devil Saga 2 explains what exactly the Mind Screw that was the Gainax Ending of Digital Devil Saga meant (making perfect sense, by the way).
- The Once Upon A Time chapter that shows up at the end of Rule of Rose is one of these, if you get the good ending.
- Trilby's Notes, of the Chzo Mythos, ended with the title character being saved by an unknown man in red. The identity of this man was not revealed until the ending of the next game, and it was a mind screw. It also explains how the man was able to revive Trilby.
- The Special Edition versions of the games (especially 6 Days) provide a few other Screwdrivers as well, most notably why Chzo was interested in the Failure Is the Only Option plan at all.
- Assassin's Creed: Revelations is the screwdriver for the Assassin's Creed series up to that point, explaining what happened at the end of Brotherhood as well as revealing more about the first civilization. Of course, there are still mysteries to be solved by subsequent games.
- Hand in Killer7 was supposed to be this, but because it was made before the game was finished, some of the material in it wasn't used in the game. So, while reading Hand in Killer7 makes sense of some of the plot, it makes the rest of it even more mind screwy.
- Devil's Due Publishing started releasing a comic adaptation as well that would attempt to make the plot more coherent, but only four of the issues were released before the whole thing was canceled, leaving the explanation half-finished.
- The Extended Cut of Mass Effect 3's infamous endings clarifies (and possibly outright retcons) the original, confusing Esoteric Happy Endings that had the fandom up in arms with rage.
- The Leviathan DLC gives more clarity on the Catalyst's and Reapers origins.
- Hotline Miami, like most games by cactus, is weird. But if you get the Golden Ending by collecting all the hidden letters, solving the puzzle they form, and using the result as a password on the Big Bad Duumvirate's computer, the plot comes back down to reality.
- At the end of The Curse of Monkey Island, LeChuck can explain the ending of Monkey Island 2, if prompted. It takes some time.
- The Myst series has a lot of mysteries (Of course) though the side-novels (Canon, and written by the creators) explain massive chunks of backstory. "Why Gehn was trapped in Riven? how did Myst Island come to be? What is Atrus's backstory? How was the Dn'i destroyed" the books explain all of this.
- Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni Kai: Abandoned the "nice kids in rural Japanese town go nuts and start killing each other" premise in order to clear up the Mind Screw of the first season in its entirety.
- Umineko No Naku Koro Ni Chiru also does this, but to a lesser degree since Word of God stated that this half of the series was not meant to be the "Answer Arcs". While the end of the series still leaves some things unclear, there's a good amount of evidence to establish that the witches and other magical beings aren't actually real in the first place. The manga also adds additional clues and red truths.
- The "True Ending" of Ever17 clears up just about every mystery in the game. And some things that weren't, but were probably misinterpreted.
- The "True Ending" of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors clears up a lot of mysteries (though it has its own stinger), but on top of that, there's an interview with the director of the game that offers additional information and clarifies some of the stranger points.
- The sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, clears up the stinger of the first game, explaining that the Alice seen at the side of the road (who everyone assumed was the All-Ice Egyptian priestess come back to life) was actually an undercover agent with a childhood and history and parents from the current time period.
- In Area X, Ferim's route is the last one you can do for this reason. Though Rexus and Livan's routes explain enough of the overall plot to give a general gist of what's going, both are heavily biased towards Rexus/Livan, respectively, and have to withhold spoilers for the other route, and so explain significant events only from the respective Love Interest's POV. Ferim's route, on the other hand, shows the entire story, pieced together, and explains exactly why the timelines are falling apart.
- Red vs. Blue: Recreation and Revelation serve to explain a large amount of the more wacky elements of previous seasons, most noticeably the "time travel" incident in Season 3 and any point in the series where a character died and got back up again.
- Duck Talez: During pisodes 4 through 6, Scrooge and Vegeta make sporadic and random appearances unrelated to the plots of said episodes. In episode 7, the focus is on them and we see exactly how those cameos fit into their plot.
- The Site "That Guy with the Glasses" takes place in it's own fictional universe, with the reviewers playing avatars of themselves, The Angry Video Game Nerd and The Spoony Experiment. At the end of the fourth year anniversary, reveals a void called the Plot Hole which in it removed all logical continuity. So literally any unrealistic thing, or paradox can happen and it would make perfect sense in their universe. (Despite all that happened long before the plot hole appeared, so literally asking questions about the logic in that universe is pointless now. Because there is none)
- Adventure Time had a season one episode, "Tree Trunks", where the titular elephant bit into the crystal apple she was looking for so she could bake an apple pie out of it. She exploded, and then was seen giggling and laughing through the apple. End Episode. Season two had a followup, "Crystals Have Power", where it was revealed that she'd been transported to the crystal dimension, where she went insane and became queen. She tried to turn Finn into her Crystal King, but Jake punched the crystal chunk out of her and she returned home to bake them another apple pie.