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]
Reader: 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. Not to be confused with the freaking drink you need after experiencing a particularly baffling Mind Screw.
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- 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. However 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), 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), why Shinji and Asuka returned together (Shinji essentially could not conceive the idea of living in a world with no Asuka, and she needed him as much as he needed her), and why Shinji tried to choke her (he was so distraught after Instrumentality that he could not be sure that she was real, so he tried to force a reaction out of her).
- 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, which also makes it an Happy Ending Override.
- Team Titans makes no sense towards the end, as it is vaguely revealed that the team and its creation was all lies created by renegade Titan Hawk/Monarch. The "true purpose" of the team was supposed to be revealed in Zero Hour, but little was revealed and outside of Terra II and Mirage (and the Team Titans who were existing Titan characters hanging around), the entire team was wiped out of existence with zero build-up or follow-up when their timeline got nuked.
- Terra II and her origin is another one, along with the Amanda Connor's Terra mini-series that focused on the third Terra, as well as Brad Meltzer's aborted storyline involving Deathstroke and Terra's half-brother Geo-Force in Justice League of America. Interviews with the writers had to sort things out as far as explaining away the entire thing, due to the comics offering no answers: Terra II was a soldier from a non-humanoid subterranian kingdom who took Terra's form under the (unknowing) notion that the surface world would accept her as an emissary if she looked like a fallen "hero" (the kingdom did not know Terra was a traitor). Time Trapper got a hold of her and mindwiped her, then planted her in a future timeline that Monarch was using to raise the Team Titans as his private evil army. Deathstroke later stole the original Terra's body so he could duplicate the process of how Terra got her powers. Deathstroke used his knowledge to force his half-sister's powers onto Geo-Force, knowing he would not be able to control them. To further torment Brion, Slade also implied that the powers would eventually drive him insane "like his sister", as Slade then claimed Terra only went evil because of her powers affecting her mind and the mind control serum he used on Batgirl Cassandra Caine not working well together and causing irreversible madness. Slade wanted Geo-Force to betray the Justice League for him but Geo-Force stopped Slade and (off-panel) it was revealed that everything Slade said to Brion about Terra was lies designed to terrorize Brion and further manipulate him into serving Slade lest he go insane from his newfound powers. And Terra III? After Terra II died at the hand of Black Adam in "52", the princess of the undergound kingdom underwent a similar process to make her human though with a completely different appearance.
- Thousand Shinji delivers a Lampshade Hanging/Take That! to the Mind Screw of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion: "For those of you prepared to rant at me, there is one more chapter to this story, so unlike Gainax, you will actually get an explaination as part of the denouement." It then proceeds to do just that, having the canon!40k gods explain what looked like a Gainax Ending.
- The Finale of the Ultimate Meta Mega Crossover by Eliezer Yudkowsky manages to answer the philosophical questions posed by the ending of Permutation City by Greg Egan better than the author himself could.
- 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 traveling 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.
- 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 laternote .
- 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 was supposed to be this. It both succeeded and/or failed spectacularly. Fans were divided. It didn't help that some subplots from the previous season had been cut, taking away the chance for the past events to be as fleshed out as they were originally intended. The season six DVD's contains an epilogue which explains a whole lot of the remaining mysteries.
- Once the exact nature of the sideways universe was revealed, it made relative sense of what would have been egregious plot holes had the universe been what it initially appeared to be.
- 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, it was leaked to him, and the formula only works for him thanks to injections he takes to keep from going One-Winged Angel.
- 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 itself 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. The commentary and extended ending of 6 Days also explicitly explain the Tall Man's behavior in Trilby's Notes and 6 Days.
- 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, feeling like an insane, barely-coherent technicolor orgy of unexplained violence and destruction. 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. Relatively speaking.
- While it contains its own share of unexplained Mind Screw, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number serves as this to the first game's plot, which can be best described as a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot where a mental patient stole half the pieces. Notable explanations include:
- The mysterious Russo-American coalition that the Bigger Bads seek to disrupt. It's the result of a war between Russia and the US that Jacket fought in, which degenerated into grueling island warfare until San Francisco was nuked by Russia, forcing America to accept a cease-fire in a dark mirror to the ending of World War II.
- The Bearded guy who works everywhere and gives you free stuff for no reason other than to be nice. He's a war buddy of Jacket's who saved his life in a combat zone, and brushed off attempts to repay him as it being "on the house." He died in the tragedy at San Francisco before the first game, and his appearances are all part of Jacket's coma dream.
- The mysterious photo that Jacket releases to the wind in the game's ending. It's a picture of him and Beard in Hawaii during the war, before his life went wrong. Beard gave it to him as a keepsake after saving his life, on the condition that he send him a copy once they get home. Unfortunately, he died before Jacket could do it.
- While it contains its own share of unexplained Mind Screw, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number serves as this to the first game's plot, which can be best described as a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot where a mental patient stole half the pieces. Notable explanations include:
- 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 was Gehn 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.
- Halo: 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 previously established timeline of the Fall of Reach (specifically, the one given in the original Halo: The Fall of Reach). 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.
- The final ending of The Binding of Isaac, Ending 20 of Afterbirth+, has Isaac in his toy chest, his life flashing before him. You hear his mom and dad arguing, and see a shot of Isaac watching his mother cry in front of her TV. As Isaac begins to turn blue from lack of oxygen, we see Isaac holding a family photo with his dad's face burned away, with other photos that have received the same treatment and (perhaps most heart-wrenching of all) a series of Isaac's drawings, showing his descent into self-loathing and suicidal insanity (BAD BAD BAD I'M THE DEVIL). Finally, we see a shot of Isaac's skeleton within the chest as his mother opens it, and the missing poster from Ending 15 flies away, symbolizing Isaac's demise. The final shot of the ending is Isaac walking through the afterlife from Ending 17, while a somber remix of the title theme plays. To clarify the entire thing, the entire game has been Isaac's Dying Dream as he suffocated to death in the toy chest that he locked himself into. It's a depressing note to end things on, but given the nature of the game in general, it's all too appropriate.
- One of the biggest, Epileptic Trees spawning questions in The Legend of Zelda was the question of the games' timeline—how did they all fit into each other? Which games preceded others, and which were immediate sequels? Fans spent decades trying to figure it all out, until, in the New Tens, Nintendo published Hyrule Historia, a book all about the games and their universe. This book revealed a key piece of information—canonically, the games follow a set path until The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. At the end of that game, the timeline splits into three distinct paths: the "Adult" Timeline, wherein Link defeats Ganondorf as an adult and returns to the past (which leads to the events of Wind Waker and its direct sequels); the "Child" Timeline, which has Link tell Zelda about Ganondorf's plots before he can even enact them (which created the events of Majora's Mask and Twilight Princess); and, most depressing of all, the "Fallen" Timeline, where Link dies fighting Ganondorf and forces the Sages to bind the wizard at full power (which corrupts the Sacred Realm and produces the world of A Link to the Past and even the original Zelda). Hyrule Historia is officially canon, and while websites (including this one!) have spread the information beyond it, the book remains the Screwdriver that solves the puzzle that plagued players for so long.
- 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.
- Homestuck's three Recap Episodes (and similarly, the two Problem Sleuth recaps) are an invaluable aid to those who find themselves lost in the Kudzu Plot. Andrew Hussie's Formspring and the MSPA forums are also pretty handy references for clearing up ambiguous plot points.
- Chapter 24 of Namesake finally explains what's going on and why, both on cosmic scale and on Earth. Chapter 20's relationship chart is also quite handy.
- Red vs. Blue: Recreation and Revelation serve to explain a large amount of the wackier 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 episodes 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.
- That Guy with the Glasses takes place in its 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)
- The fact that paradoxical things happen before the creation of the Plot Hole is also explained - since the Plot Hole is a tear in space and time, it can cause things to happen before its creation. The specific example given is how the second year anniversary event shows Dr. Insano as an evil split personality of Spoony's, when the rest of the continuity shows him as a separate person entirely.
- Before the Plot Hole was created, Linkara made one for a point in the third anniversary event. A major reveal in that event was that magical is incredibly draining and potentially lethal, unless the Gauntlet was used to cast it. In the commentary, Linkara realizes that this creates massive continuity issues with his own show (where he routinely uses a gun that's described as magic), so he says that he's always been safe because his hat protects him.
- Adventure Time:
- The show 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.
- The season one episode, "Evicted", ended with a Gainax Ending where Finn and Jake arrive to find their house is worm infested. A giant worm then hypnotizes them. The fourth season episode "King Worm" is about Finn trying to escape a dream that the same giant worm has trapped him in. The episode's ending then subverts this trope because it hints that everything between "Evicted" and "King Worm" was All Just a Dream (although this turns out not to be the case).
- The Gainax Ending of the season 4 finale "The Lich" is explained by the season 5 premiere episodes "Finn the Human" and "Jake the Dog"
- In the season three episode "The Creeps", Finn encounters a monstrous ghost woman in a haunted castle. At the end of the episode it was revealed that everything that happened was orchestrated by Jake... except for the ghost woman, which Jake thinks Finn must have imagined. The season five episode "The Vault" reveals that Jake was almost right. Finn was having a distorted vision of his past life self, who had a connection to the castle.