Outside-Context Problem
aka: Outside Context Villain

"An Outside Context Problem was the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop."

The Outside Context Problem is, quite simply, a curve ball that no one saw coming or could see coming.

He, she or it may be a mysterious foreigner from the next town over or a continent away, with skills, technology or mystic powers no one heard of, much less imagined. Or they may be a Time Traveler from the future... or the past, an invader from a parallel universe, outer space, or even stranger places. When they arrive, the heroes won't have any defenses in place capable of stopping them, no idea how to defend against their onslaught, and no clue what their end goal might be. It might even be a mysterious object, or just some unexplained supernatural phenomenon.

Finding out the answers to the above questions will be the heroes' top priority. With luck they'll find scattered legends foretelling their arrival and possibly how they were beaten last time. If not, The Professor might theorize all new means to defeat them. One popular method is to summon a hero from the same place or era to battle them, because this villain is so bad that even a random Joe from the villain's home will at least have an idea how to stop them. Of course, said villain will likely assimilate better to the environment than such Fish out of Water heroes. If the Outsider is an interloper in an existing conflict, he may become a Conflict Killer that forces an Enemy Mine situation if he turns out to be Eviler Than Thou.

Named for the Outside Context Problem from the Iain M. Banks book Excession (as seen in the quote above). The classic example he gives is a stable, powerful, and wealthy society suddenly facing a hostile invader whose advanced technology and bizarre philosophy are completely alien to them.note 

Supertrope to Technologically Advanced Foe and Outside-Genre Foe. Compare Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, but played dramatically. Cosmic Horror Reveal is a subtrope, where Eldritch Abominations appear with little foreshadowing. Compare also Diabolus ex Nihilo, where such a villain is used to shake things up and then discarded, and The Spook, which might fit in the context but is still a surprise apparition. See How Unscientific! for moments that break the conventions of the story's main genre, which is a major part of these villains. Contrast Generic Doomsday Villain and Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond. Compare/Contrast Genre Refugee. Frequently found in the Alien Invasion genre.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: Yhwach was a bolt out of the blue for Ichigo's group and the Gotei 13. Mayuri did actually foresee Yhwach coming as a result of Uryuu Ishida's past actions in Soul Society, but when he tried to warn Yamamoto, Yamamoto dismissed Mayuri's concern as paranoid. Had he listened to Mayuri, the Gotei 13 would have had more than 17 months preparation time instead of being caught completely unaware and unprepared by a Quincy army they didn't even know existed. Yamamoto might also have been too complacent to prepare, as he personally defeated Yhwach 1,000 years earlier and had grown even stronger in the interim. He simply couldn't imagine that Yhwach's power might have grown by an even greater margin in the interim. It's also very heavily implied that Urahara, Isshin and Ryuuken have been fully aware of Yhwach's activities for at least nine years and possibly longer but they have kept the knowledge within their tight circle which also left both Ichigo's group and the Gotei 13 completely unaware and unprepared. However, this is implied to be because Urahara's group have their own plans rather than simply burying their head in the sand as Yamamoto did.
  • Poor Kingdom of Midland in Berserk. Thanks to Griffith, Guts, and the Band of the Hawk, they had more or less won the Forever War that had plagued the land for over a hundred years. Then, out of nowhere, a huge plague hits them. And while they're trying and failing to deal with that, Kushan invades with a nigh-unstoppable army that steamrolls over everything in its path, thanks to a combination of soldiers and Black Magic. And then demons start appearing in the countryside. No wonder they're so eager to put their faith in the resurrected Griffith, who is now (unknown to most humans) a Demon Lord of the highest order.
  • Dragon Ball
    • Each new villain tends to be this to a varying extent, but special mention goes to famous Evil Overlord Frieza whose power advantage over all the protagonists (and antagonists) combined was akin to helpless mortals opposing a god. Even though later villains could make mincemeat out of him, they almost always started out in a similar "tier" of power to the heroes; Frieza started out several tiers ahead. When Frieza returns from the dead he trained to become stronger and gains a Golden Super Mode that is able to match Goku's Super Sayian God Super Saiyan from, making him the strongest villain in the series so far, if you don't counter Beerus.
    • Also worth mentioning is Raditz for literally having an alien background, embarrassing the Big Good and previous Big Bad simultaneously and generally shaking up the status quo with his mere introduction. All this despite only being the Starter Villain of the new story arc.
    • Buu for literally being an Eldritch Abomination. This bizarre pink genie creature has terrorized the universe, cowed the gods themselves, can transform people into conscious food while eating them alive, or absorb strong warriors by using its own malleable flesh to break off and consume them as it reintegrates with him and transforms into a new form, taking some of the traits of the victims (this happened to the gods), and, sufficiently enraged, he can tear down dimensions. His pure, untainted form, Kid Buu, is even worse. Unlike all the other villains, he can't be reasoned with, he has no pride to take advantage of, and no desire except killing everything. In order to beat him, they literally had to go to a planet that he can't blow up in one shot. Even then, he was close to being an immortal given his endless energy and regeneration. On top of all that, he can teleport into the afterlife, and kill off the heroes for good after he kills them the first time. His origin is even retconed to make him this for the entire universe. Originally, it is thought that Bibidi created him using magic. We learn later that Buu is an old as the universe itself and no-one knows where he came from or how he was created.
    • King Piccolo is also worth mentioning. Before him, all of Goku's opponents were human or funny animals. Then Piccolo literally comes out of nowhere and kills a third of the main cast, kills the Eternal Dragon, and successfully take over the world. His arrival change the tone of the series forever.
    • Beerus, for being a god among gods. Even the strongest Supreme Kai was only even with Majin Buu. Beerus makes even the strongest form of Buu look laughably weak and he easily curb stomps the heroes without even trying. Although this is hardly new for a Dragon Ball villain, what makes Beerus stands out among the rest is that he is completely undefeated. Not even Goku becoming a god himself could slow this guy down and he was only using 70% of his power. Even Frieza returning stronger than ever and Goku going beyond godhood is still weaker than Beerus. He's so powerful that Whis states that it would take both Goku and Vegeta working together just to be a match for him. He's so incomprehensible to the cast that they can't even feel his ki, because god's ki can't be felt by mortals. Then it turns out that Whis himself would be this to an even greater extent, if he were actually a villain. Despite being Beerus's servant, he's actually so powerful he could defeat Goku, Vegeta, Frieza (all of whom have ascended to godhood, or something equivalent) and Beerus, maybe even at once.
    • Goku to the Red Ribbon Army. Before him, they were used to dealing with defenseless civilians, other armies, and maybe the occasional martial artist. While searching for the Dragon Balls they run into Goku, a super powered One-Man Army Human Alien who is practically indestructible. It's clear from the start that they had no clue how to deal with Goku and had to hire a renowned assassin just to have a remote chance against him. By the time Goku came to their base, they had nothing that could stop him and were basically defenseless. The pure terror that Goku struck inspires Gero to create the androids.
    • Goku is this even in the first story arc. He's a character Made of Iron making him nearly impossible to harm. Yamcha and Pilaf only came close to killing him because he was hungry and he ran out of energy due to it. There is also his transformation into a Giant Ape, something no one saw coming (not even the narrator in the original Japanese Language, who exclaimed he was also freaked out!) which saves him and the others from being microwaved in Pilaf's special prison. Only by grabbing Goku's tail do Yamcha and Puar subdue Goku as a Great Ape at the end of the arc.
    • For Frieza's army, they had a hard time dealing with the Earthlings because they couldn't track them. The characters from Earth knew how to hide and suppress their power, so not only didn't they track on the scouters but when they did find them, Frieza's men underestimated them because they showed a low battle power. Almost the entire Ginyu Force got stomped into the ground because they kept assuming Goku only had a power level of 5000. They were also caught off-guard that the Earthlings and Vegeta could read powers without a scouter.
    • Trunks manages to be this to Frieza for being a Kid from the Future on top of being a Super Saiyan. Until that point, Goku was the only known Super Saiyan in the universe so Frieza had no way to expect Trunks, at all.
    • Despite monitoring Goku and his friends for over a decade, the Super Saiyan manages to be this to Dr. Gero. Since he fails to follow the heroes to Namek, he's caught completely by surprise when Goku transforms. The only point of reference he has is Goku's Kaioken.
    • Goku transforming into a Super Saiyan the first time also counts. Up to that point in the series a transformation like this has never been seen before and Frieza and Gohan are baffled about what just happened. Frieza lampshades this by saying he knew Saiyans turned into giant apes, but he had never seen anything like this before.
  • Pokémon: XY'': Two episodes had Ash, his friends and Team Rocket encounter an evil Malamar. While Pokemon have played antagonistic roles in the series beforehand, they were either under the control of a person or they were just acting territorial. This Malamar was planning World Domination on its own and even came up with a weapon to do just that.
  • In Naruto, the Fourth Ninja World War was being fought between the Shinobi Alliance on one side, and Tobi and his White Zetsu Army, Kabuto and his zombie army, and the real Uchiha Madara on the other side. About 200 chapters after the war starts, the Sage of Six Paths' mother, Kaguya Ootsutsuki shows up as the real villain. This is particularly jarring since she appears with almost no foreshadowing though she was mentioned more than a few times to where one wonders if she would play a role and is revealed to be pulling the strings since the very beginning. The audience first knew of her existence barely 30 chapters ago, and no more than 5 people alive in universe at the time knew her name. To top it off, she died centuries ago and her role in the War was due to Black Zetsu using Madara to revive her. There is an in-universe justification for this though: Black Zetsu (who is such a good Chessmaster that he was able to manipulate all of ninja history) erased nearly all records of her existence or the truth of her demise in order to ensure nobody could foresee her revival and/or properly oppose her. Considering the rest of her clan was taken to the moon by her younger son (the Sage's brother) and this was after a period of endless strife and when modern civilizations were springing, it would be easy to destroy whatever records existed and have the rest fade into legend and be twisted into tales, as the only ones who would know about her at all would be the Tailed Beasts, whom were wanted for their power.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Akemi Homura is an example as she is a time-traveling oddity of a magical girl whose existence even Kyubey cannot explain. Her powers also work much differently than the other magical girls and no one seems to be able to effectively counter them, at least until she faces the Big Bad at the end.
    • Kyubey is also one, as Sufficiently Advanced Aliens with the ability to rip girls' souls out of their body and grant their wishes and with odd ideals, to say the least. Worse, most people have a Weirdness Censor that doesn't allow them to see him. To teenage girls, he literally appears out of nowhere to get them to sign away their lives.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V:
    • Despite all expectations, both played straight and subverted. The inter-dimensional war threw a huge curve ball for the XYZ dimension, who were pretty much wiped out in three years. Subverted by Reiji and LDS, who knew about the invasion and have been preparing to launch a counter-offense for years. To this end, they deliberately broke The Masquerade and told their entire dimension about the war, completely defying this trope.
    • In the Synchro dimension, this is averted and played straight, since the Executive Council knew about the war but kept it a secret from everyone else. As a result, characters from the Synchro dimension make false assumptions about the protagonists even if they've been told the truth because they think it's too unrealistic and don't believe the main cast.
    • On a meta level, this trope applies for the audience, who expected this show to be about winning card-game tournaments, bringing out the best in villains and befriending them, and eventually fighting off some demonic god or Eldritch Abomination, maybe even several of them. Instead, the Big Bad is the leader of a military organization who actually uses his public resources, and even if there is some Elder God pulling the strings, the enemy forces are attacking en-masse and doing real damage to civilians, instead of using a handful of elite soldiers to target the protagonists specifically.
  • Used, then inverted in the Cardfight!! Vanguard movie Neon Messiah. We're introduced to a new Link Joker user, which is understandable. He uses a new subclan called Deletors, which resemble Starfish Aliens rather than evil cyborgs like the Star-Vaders and the rest of the clan, which is odd. Then they show off their special power Delete, which cuts the fighter off from unit they're riding and locks it, leaving the fighter totally vulnerable, which solidifies them as Outside Context Villains. Then, to beat them, the hero inverts it and provides an Outside Context Hero, where he pulls a Grade 4 out of nowhere, with 27000 power, which he calls Striding. This is later explained by being an Early-Bird Cameo for the next big mechanic, and all of it is explained, but not even the audience knew what the deal was (a promotional version of the card was given out when it was shown in theaters, but it was intentionally missing a lot of information on how it worked).
  • In Guardian Fairy Michel, episode 23 has a long-dead evil pharaoh with magical powers arising to kill the heroes, forcing Michel and Salome to team up against him.
  • One Piece:
    • For the people of the blue seas, Devil Fruit users. They are so rare that they are often believed to be a myth and those who do have powers are seen as demons. Both pirates and marines are taken off-guard when they're faced with a fruit user, which is what make people like Luffy and Buggy so dangerous early in the series.
    • The Arlong Pirates are a complete Outside-Context Villain to the people of East Blue. Since the pirates of East Blue tend to be very weak compared to other seas, any pirate from the Grand Line is seen as big trouble. Arlong could have taken over all of East Blue since no one knew how to deal with him.
    • For those who don't know about it, Haki. The Straw Hats are initially caught flatfooted fighting people who can predict their movements or harm Devil Fruit users without seastone or an element advantage. They get better since Haki becomes much more common in the New World.
    • Although far from a villain, Smoker was this to the Straw Hats when he was first introduced. He was the first marine they met who was competent, powerful, and not corrupted. Most of all, he was the first one to introduced them to the Logia type Devil Fruit. Luffy was utterly powerless against him since none of his hits connected and would have been captured if it wasn't for Dragon saving him. Until the Time Skip, Luffy always ran if he saw Smoker.
    • When Krieg (one of the strongest East Blue pirates) went to the Grand Line, he had the misfortune of coming across a bored Mihawk, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea and the greatest swordsman in the world, in his first week. Mihawk slaughtered his crew and sunk his fleet simply to kill time. And chased the survivors back to the East Blue simply because he was still bored.
    • When Luffy started his pirate career in East Blue, he was an outside context-foe for both pirates and the marines. Devil Fruits in the Blues are so rare that they are often believed to be mere myth and those who do have powers are seen as demons and monsters. So when Luffy, a rubber man, came along able to deflect bullets and absorb blunt blows without taking any damage, most of his early enemies didn't know what to do except for Buggy and Arlong, both who sailed the Grand Line where Devil Fruit users are more common.
    • Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates tend to be an outside context-foe for the pirate-marine conflict as a whole. A key element of the setting is that the world had mostly settled into a political stalemate decades ago (if not centuries), to the point where nearly everyone follows certain rules without even considering other possibilities. So when the Straw Hats come along with no regard for anything but their personal goals, people tend to be taken by surprise. The marines aren't sure what to do about people who aren't afraid of Buster Calls and the sheer force of the government (not to mention a pirate crew that's relatively altruistic), and pirates have no experience dealing with people who cannot be intimidated or bribed, or will take a personal stake in a conflict that predated them. Even the more chaotic or maverick pirate crews are consistently surprised about what expectations the Straw Hats will betray.
    • Luffy does it again during his battle against Eneru. Before Eneru met Luffy, he was completely unbeatable and all of his fights ended in a curb stomp. That is because Eneru had the Rumble Rumble Fruit that made him into living lightning. The fruit is so powerful that it is classified as unbeatable. However, since Luffy is a rubber man, he is completely immune to lightning. Even better, rubber doesn't even exist on Skypiea, so Luffy is also an out of context material. Eneru had no clue that a foe like Luffy could exist. The face he makes when he realizes that Luffy isn't affected by his powers is priceless.
    • Chopper, mostly thanks to his Rumble Balls. Zoan users have three transformations: their default form, an animal hybrid, and a full animal form. Chopper has seven transformations that mixed the strengths and weaknesses of his default three forms, which surprises even people who are used to fighting Devil Fruit users. Then there is what happens if he eats three Rumble Balls within six hours before the Time Skip.
    • Franky when he was first introduced. The Straw Hats didn't know how to really fight him since he's a cyborg. They actually thought he was a Devil Fruit user. CP9 had a better advantage since half of them lived in Water 7 for five years and personally knew him. Those who didn't know or understand Franky's abilities had a hard time countering him, especially since he's literally Made of Iron.
  • The Fleet of Fog from Arpeggio of Blue Steel is a globe-spanning fleet of neigh-unstoppable robot warships emulating the fleets of World War II with absurdly advanced technology. It's taken humanity nearly twenty years to come up with anything capable of breaking their total blockade of the oceans.
  • Death Note: Light is the definition of a Villain Protagonist and can easily be seen as an Outside-Context Problem. In either case, Light has a huge advantage over his enemies since he can kill them using a notebook if he has their real names and the world at large is ignorant or didn't believe in the supernatural. The early part of the series is L just trying to figure out how Kira is killing people.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma Kamijou started out as a complete unknown who had the unheard of ability of Imagine Breaker. Several villains had never heard of him and were at a complete loss to deal with him and his abilities.
  • In Gate, the Empire (which resembles a mix of Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages) was completely unprepared for the weapons and technology of modern Japan when they tried to invade it.
  • Shu, the hero of Now and Then, Here and There is a very cheerful and optimistic boy. However, for the denizens of the alternate universe he is thrown into where water is scarce, nearly every child is a soldier, and genocides occur on a daily basis, his extremely different outlook and boundless optimism utterly, utterly catches everyone off-guard. That turns out to his strongest asset when he finally convinced Lala-Ru that there is some good left in this world, thus triggering the end scenario.

    Comic Books 

  • Watchmen:
    • Dr. Manhattan. He's the only Super in the world (other "capes" do exist, but nearly all of them are Badass Normals who rely on gadgets, martial arts, or a combination of the two with the only one who even approaches "superhuman" levels being Ozymandias), and sports godlike powers. World politics are changed forever when he shows up. This leads to moments like him ending the Vietnam War in about a week, and the escalation of the Cold War because the Russians are scared shitless. A noted scientist makes the comment that absolute terror is, in fact, the sane response to the existence of such a being.
    • A giant squid monster attacks New York, and the world governments unite to fight this terrible threat. The all-too-human Big Bad created the alien-looking monster as a Batman Gambit to prevent human extinction through nuclear war.
  • The Anti-Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths was out of context for the entire DC Multiverse. A being that could and did successfully annihilate nearly all the universes and forced the heroes to collapse the five remaining universes into one, forever transforming the DC Universe and everyone in it. His power was so overwhelming even an assemblage of the mightiest beings from all remaining worlds proved little more than a distraction. Even with its shell torn away, its power drained, and its power source dismantled, it took Superman and Superboy (along with some help from Darkseid) to finally finish it off... which in turn triggered a supernova. He was that nasty.
  • The Authority have most of their story arcs based around these.
  • Bane functions this way in Batman: Knightfall. A villain who has been cut off from the outside world for almost his entire life, his existence is at best an urban legend to most Gotham City natives. When he murders six prostitutes and carves images of bats into their flesh, the Gotham police naturally blame Batman. Even after he and his gang launch rockets at Arkham Asylum, enabling the world's most dangerous criminals to escape and wreak havoc on the city, most Gothamites are too preoccupied with trying to stop The Joker, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and all the rest that they remain ignorant of Bane's ultimate plan for the city: to permanently cripple Batman, seize control from Gotham's mob bosses, and rule over the city as its "king."
  • Doomsday showed up out of freaking nowhere to curbstomp most of Earth's heroes before going off to accomplish what no one else dreamed was even possible: kill Superman.
  • Chaos appears randomly in the middle of Metropolis City, uses his ability to induce extreme fear in his opponents to catch the Freedom Fighters off guard completely and kills Johnny Lightfoot, becoming the only villain to successfully kill a Freedom Fighter.
    • Colonel Granite and Operation Starwatch also serve as this, being completely unknown to Mobius par the Freedom Fighters leading an Alien Invasion from Planet Earth, invading Mobius, trouncing the Freedom Fighters with superior firepower, and planning to sell off the conquered Zones to human industrial developers (and rename Mobius "Planet Percy" after his first name).
  • Paperinik New Adventures has this happen rather often:
  • This happens quite frequently to the Runaways, since they are a bunch of kids with very little training:
    • During Civil War, the Runaways run afoul of S.H.I.E.L.D., which sends a Brainwashed and Crazy Kree assassin after them, resulting in several of them being gravely injured and sent to a Black Site.
    • The Runaways inadvertently become Outside-Context Villains in the "Dead End Kids" arc when they are sent back in time to 1907. With so few other superpowered individuals around, they stick out like a sore thumb and their attempts to secure the parts needed to return to their own time accidentally starts an arms race between two superpowered gangs, resulting in widespread destruction and mayhem.
    • During Secret Invasion, the team happens to be in the middle of New York City at the very moment that the Skrulls are invading en masse. Xavin, normally the person most likely to seek out a fight, takes one look at the size of the invading force and panics, clocking all of their teammates and trying to carry them as far away from the Skrulls as possible.
    • In the "Homeschooling" arc, the Runaways find themselves being targeted by the US Military. The opening salvo alone kills Old Lace and leaves Klara injured and scared out of her mind (which is a serious problem because her powers go haywire when she's scared.) In the end, the only thing they're able to do is flee through a hidden tunnel as the military burns their house down.
  • In the DC Rebirth, there's Dr. Manhattan, who is revealed to be the one who turned the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe into The New 52. Up until this point, the Watchmen universe and the DCU was never even connected!

    Fan Works 
  • This occurs frequently in crossover works. Characters from series A have experience in dealing with the threats and factions associated with their series. They also have a view of how the world works and what is or is not possible based on their experiences and which may be an accurate view of the world in the source material for series A. Then the author introduces characters and elements from series B which has different rules or power levels. In some cases, this works both ways as not only do the A-characters not know what to make of the B-characters, but the B-characters are also surprised by aspects or abilites of the A-charactes and the world they move in.
  • Tamers Forever Series: The Triad never considered Daemon returning as part of their plan. Naturally, this proves to be a catastrophic error.
  • Secret War: you thought Taryst was the Big Bad? ehh! wrong! It's Inquisitor Edracian who's behind everything but it's a subversion as many characters excluding Attelus and a few others knew of him and his involvement already.
  • In Magical Pony Lyrical Twilight the Equestrians are this to the TSAB and their High Council, being naturally-occurring (as opposed to deliberately-engineered) nonhuman sapients who are not servile familiars and having abilities the Bureau has no experience with. The fact that their entire species can use magic in one way or another probably doesn't help.
  • Star Wars: Paranormalities: Let's just say this story has that title due to thriving on these. The Valkoran Empire seem pretty normal for the most part at first, initially believed to be pirates/political terrorists before being revealed to be cultists, but their leaders are something else entirely. Maesterus is a Force user who isn't actually a Sith Lord (despite dressing similarly to one) with Lovecraftian Superpowers, Juganak is strong enough to dismantle a walker with his bare hands, Neur is a brain-damaged human-Twi'lek hybrid, Machinus is a droid with the soul of a Nautolan, and Masochus is an insane ex-Sith Lord who skinned himself down to the bone. Let's not even get started on Valkor himself...
    • The Forceless Collective, an army of Eldritch Abominations from another galaxy that can possess other living creatures and it's theorized that there are other Forceless born from the Force wounds created by mass genocides. Like the Yuuzhan Vong, very few in the galaxy knew about their existence aside from the Valkoran Empire.
    • Gestroma. Why? Deranged, Forceless-possessed Imperial mutant supersoldier turned Bounty Hunter that wants to Kill All Humans.
  • In Venus Flash, the warriors of the Dark Kingdom are ludicrously more powerful than any Panther Claw member, and every encounter ends in a Curb-Stomp Battle against the latter (the only time when a Panther Claw member won was when a very weak youma was caught by surprise by Jewel Princess' transformation, and Jadeite promptly annihilated her without even trying). Interestingly, Panther Claw are villains too, it's just that their goals are mutually exclusive and Dark Kingdom members are disgusted by what Panther Claw minions are willing to do for kicks.
  • Legends Of The Fourth Of July Coreline: On the Massive Multiplayer Crossover World Gone Mad of Core Line, the Avengers Infinity thought they saw it all and were prepared... until they were attacked by a malevolent version of the Stark Endo-Sym armor that was based on a Neon Genesis Evangelion Angel rather than the standard Marvel Universe symbiotes. It took the intervention of various heroes (that were NGE-verse natives that had obtained superpowers of their own) to prevent the Avengers from falling to a Grey Goo scenario.
  • A Crown Of Stars: The Avalon army is this to Jinnai and the other warlords ruling the post-apocalyptic world. Jinnai is a military dictator, prepared to deal with other warlords armed with conventional weaponry... and then Shinji and Asuka, two of his subordinates/mistreated puppets, disappear and reappear backed by an army from another dimension armed with several Humongous Mecha and Transforming Mecha, Powered Armors... Has it been mentioned a good number of their soldiers have Psychic Powers?
  • Finishing the Fight, where the capabilities of the Master Chief and UNSC technology are beyond the ability of most of Faerun to combat.
  • In Dungeon Keeper Ami. Sailor Mercury is transported into the World of Dungeon Keeper and has a rather unconventional approach to being a Keeper, as well as the whole evil alignment.
  • Hail To the King: NERV was created to fight Angels and Gendo thought he had planned for everything... but a bizarre accident in the Godzilla universe sent the King of Monsters, several of its Kaiju and human allies and several of its Kaiju enemies to the "Evangelion" universe. Oh, and his son Shinji accidentally merges with Zone Fighter (Ultraman in the rewrite). As it's quickly proved, NERV has no way to deal with Kaijus, let alone the most powerful of them, and Gendo's attempts to remove Godzilla's presence from his scenario backfire awfully. And he definitely was not prepared for Shinji becoming mentored by a Toku hero.
  • Last Child of Krypton: In this crossover Shinji is Superman. He is capable of lifting mountains, faster than a speeding bullet, nearly invulnerable, able to fly... He can crush a Evangelion or Angel with his bare hands. Gendo and SEELE have no way to counteract his powers and abilities and they have no way to harm him.
  • The Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Smallville fic Stakes and Fenceposts, where Clark Kent is portrayed this way to the Buffy-verse villains and heroes. Both sides are completely baffled and terrified at how powerful he is, thinking he's some kind of Humanoid Abomination. Some of the fights are shown from the villains' perspective.
  • The Superwomen of Eva series (an example of it being Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton; with Asuka Langley Sohryu being Supergirl): the titular super heroines are this to both NERV and SEELE and their beloved "scenario": a girl (or group of them) with powers beyond their understanding that appeared out of nowhere, has no allegiance to them and is more than capable of single-handedly destroying their giant alien adversaries and the Humongous Mecha used to fight them. Much Hilarity Ensues as they try to reign in a Villainous Breakdown and race to find some way to put them out of the way (without showing their hand to the other group).
  • Dante from Dante's Night at Freddy's. The animatronics of Freddy Fazbear's Pizza are used to killing security guards like they are nothing, but clearly are in over their heads trying to take on a veteran demon slayer.
  • A Man Of Iron has Iron Man. In a low tech, low magic universe like Westeros, a flying knight that can shoot magic from his hands and is impervious to all known forms of weaponry is a major game changer.
  • For Vandread Halo, the Master Chief and Cortana become this to the Nirvana crew. At first, it didn't seem like much when they attacked the Tarak fleet like in canon while picking up the damaged piece of the Forward Unto Dawn. But once the Spartan comes before their eyes and demonstrates his fighting capability, both the men and Improbably Female Cast are stunned by how much of a different world they've come from.
  • In Venus Flash, both Sailor Venus and Cutey Honey are this for each others' opponents:
  • Fragmentation has Executive Outcomes and its owners, the Kyphon. They possess a tech level that surpasses the Clans by levels that far exceed how the Clans themselves dwarf the Inner Sphere. But even more, their philosophy and promotion of Boring but Practical Zerg Rush tactics to nations in order to counter the Successor States' Humongous Mecha supplies baffle the Inner Sphere's Honor Before Reason tendencies.
  • In The Rise Of Darth Vulcan, the titular Villain Protagonist is one of these to Equestria, as he's a strategist with vast resources and complicated morality, rather than a cartoonish challenge-you-to-your-face Card-Carrying Villain who usually works alone, and who is taking a long time to deal with, rather than the quick fights the Mane Six are used to. To counter this, they and the Princesses eventually decide to summon a human warrior of their own, who might better understand how Vulcan thinks.
  • In Fate Stay Night: Ultimate Master, Ben Tennyson serves as this to the magic community and the participants of the Fifth Holy Grail War. A boy who can turn into various aliens wasn't really on their radar. Even Archer has no idea who he is, even though he's from the future. The only ones who had heard of him were the ones who watched TV like Shirou and Illya (most mages are Hopeless with Tech, so they wouldn't do this).
  • Harry Potter in The Havoc Side of the Force is completely outside of everyone's understanding. Palpatine is wondering how to get his plan's for Anakin back on track once Harry befriends him and the Jedi don't know how to deal with an apparent force user who commits horrible acts but isn't affected by the Dark Side. Neither group has any idea how Harry does what he does except that he actually harms the Force while performing his magic. Though it takes Harry some time to realize that Force users can track him when he uses magic since he's basically sending screaming alarms through the Force.
  • In Metroid/Worm roleplay quest "Hatchling Quest", Samus Aran is this to the villains and Eldritch Abominations of the Worm universe. She's a genetically-enhanced alien-born human from another dimension and time. Her biology is incomprehensible to them, her technology is literally several thousands of years ahead of their time, and her suit and space-ship's computers can hack any Earth computer, analyze and reverse-engineer any Tinker technology -which was supposedly impossible-, and discover many secrets... And she's fully committed to the protection of the innocent and helpless. The reason she hasn't broken the plot is because half the plot is about her trying to overcome her issues and interact with other humans. The other half of the plot is about a Hidden Villain bringing things from the Metroid universe into the Worm universe...
  • Thousand Shinji: Shinji, Asuka and Rei are this to NERV and SEELE thanks to the intervention of the Warhammer 40,000 gods. They have powers gifted by dark gods, can tap the power of an alternate dimension made of raw energy and thought, and have access to future technology. Gendo and SEELE have no counter to their abilities and they weren't even aware of them until it was too late.
  • America's Stepbrother, America's Enemy V2.0 is an Alternate History story where the United States circa 2014 (just after Barack Obama's election) is thrust into the nightmarish world of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four by an unusual anomaly. The three superstates and their inhabitants can't even comprehend the United States as an entity: Oceania thinks the new Americans are dirty Thoughtcriminals and traitors to Big Brother who all deserve to be arrested and killed, and begin invading. However, these invasion attempts all fail miserably because, as stated in the original book, the Oceanian military is composed of masses of very poorly armed prole conscripts supported with oversized Military Mashup Machines designed to simply waste resources and look as flashy as possible for propaganda purposes; all of it is utterly useless in the face of the American military, which is more modern, efficient and motivated to actually winning the wars they fight. The utterly corrupt and psychopathic Inner Party quickly drive themselves to new levels of crazy as they have no idea how to react to this hyper-advanced military juggernaut appearing from nowhere and effortlessly unravelling their carefully-engineered power-preserving status quo.
  • The Pony POV Series has Princess Gaia. Twilight and the others are looking for the missing Fluttershy, and don't even realize that there even is a new Big Bad let alone that it's Fluttershy's Superpowered Evil Side.
    • In the Dark World, this role falls to Discord's sister Rancor, who joins the villains just as the redeemed and new Elements of Harmony begin their campaign against Discord's rule. Interestingly, she's as much this to the villains as to the heroes, as none of them (except for the Valeyard and Fluttercruel) even knew about Discord's family. She ultimately ends up being a Spanner in the Works for everyone (even The Voice) by betraying Discord at the right moment in order to steal Destruction's power for herself.
    • Queen Chrysalis in the Wedding Arc is this intentionally, having spent years enforcing The Masquerade while systematically infiltrating Equestria on every level so that her invasion would go off without a hitch. However, she then ironically becomes a victim of the inverse of this trope, as numerous ponies she didn't bother to view as a threat have Misfit Mobilization Moments and begin to throw wrenches in her plans.
    • In the Rumors arc, this trope is invoked by several of the actions the Pantheon performs to counter Discord's endgame. Justified as he and his cousin rewrote reality to run on horror movie rules, so heroes that run on completely different rules are the best way to counter that.:
      • Havoc manipulates things such that Button Mash gets video game Personality Powers, which the horror movie based enemies have difficulty dealing with as their victims aren't supposed to be strong enough to fight back and kill them. This gives the CMC a powerful ally to help them survive while they're still inexperienced.
      • Pandora, the Goddess of Imagination, arranges for AK Yearling (who in this universe was just a fan of Daring Do) to merge with the Shadow of Existence of Puzzlemint (who she's a Reincarnation of the Light of Existence of, also making this an example of Came Back Strong when they reform their original soul) and Daring Do's books to become the real deal, now running on action adventure story logic rather than the horror movie logic the world's running on, allowing her to save many lives from the Rumors as well as assist the CMC several times.
      • The Love Goddess Venus helps a mare named Lovestruck perform a Fusion Dance with her erased, demi-god son Cupid's Shadow of Existence (as she is the Reincarnation of the G3 pony Cupid turned into during the Wish Spell) to become the new Anthropomorphic Personification of Sharing Love and a Demi-Goddess. Due to a Demi-God's Hybrid Power, she's capable of using her full power to save ponies unlike the rest of the Pantheon because her mortal half hides her divine half (unlike the pure deities, who had to use much weaker avatars to avoid detection) and can freely go between the spirit and mortal worlds for quick escapes. The big reason she qualifies is Cupid was killed Deader Than Dead, so naturally no one would see somepony with his powers coming.
      • During the Rainbow Factory chapter Scootaloo manages to get Rainbow Dash to split from the rumors possessing her and become the Mare-Do-Well, now running on comic book logic. This means she's capable of beating her Enemy Without.
  • Cycles Upon Cycles has the Koprulu Alliance (terrans, zerg, and protoss) in the eyes of the Citadel (turians, asari, salarians, and their associates and neighbors, which excludes humans for obvious reasons), as 1) they use AIs, which are banned in Citadel space, 2) they managed to establish peace between the Quarians (of which the Alliance made First Contact with) and the Geth, and 3) while Citadel races' largest (dreadnought-class) ships are limited to 800 meters, that is the minimum size for a "capital ship" in the Alliance.
  • The adult fan faction Wandering Pilot has Shinji Ikari in the Queen's Blade universe. The Continent's ladies have spent their lives fighting bandits and perverse, macho men for the dream of being Queen. But they never expected to encounter someone like Shinji. Not only do all the girls on the morality spectrum have different reactions (from very friendly to... not so friendly), but he also influences them so much that they go through a lot of changes good and bad. And what really twists things are his role as The Medic and staff. Said staff is the compact version of EVA Unit-01.
  • Zero no Tsukaima: Saito the Onmyoji has Saito himself. He uses a magic system very different from what is practiced in the world he's been sent to, so hardly anybody knows what to expect from him or how to deal with him.

    Film - Animated 

  • Frozen: Elsa is the only magical being in the entire film, which is one of many reasons why she is depressed. She's so out there and powerful that the antagonists have no real means of countering her, except to attack her very human side.
  • Beast and all his servants from Beauty and the Beast. The setting for the story is a peaceful and normal, French countryside. We then have Beast's castle where all the humans have been transformed into moving and talking inanimate objects and there's Beast who lives up to his name. Because of Beast's appearance, Gaston uses this to rally a mob to kill him. They're mostly foiled because they never expected the castle's furniture to come alive and beat them up.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Any character who game hops into another game falls into this. Ralph is completely out of context for the people in Super Rush since all the characters, save for King Candy, are cute anime girls, while he's a big brute able to shatter jawbreakers, something that is thought to be impossible. Vanellope is quick to take advantage of this.
  • Terry becomes this in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker to defeat the Joker once and for all. Joker is so used to dealing with Bruce's Batman (who is a stoic, honor bound fighter with a strict no kill policy) that he loses it when Terry mocks him and gives him a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech that utterly deconstructs him. Terry also has no problem fighting dirty and revoking the Joker Immunity.

    Film - Live Action 

  • Common in Batman films:
    • At the beginning of the 1989 movie Batman, the city officials are concerned with Boss Carl Grissom and his gangsters. They're completely unprepared and baffled by the arrival of The Joker, who decapitates the existing criminal underworld and focuses exclusively on pointless mayhem.
    • In the The Dark Knight, Batman is so beyond anything the mob has ever dealt with that they are on the brink of collapse. They reach out to the Joker as a desperate act to get rid of Batman and their other enemies. To say that this backfired would be an understatement. Batman, the cops, and organized crime, all have their own brand of rational goals, nobody was prepared to deal with a mastermind who was exclusively in it For the Evulz.
    • In The Dark Knight Rises, the Gotham police dismiss Bane as just another gangster, but he turns out to be the commander of a revolutionary army that invades and occupies Gotham, which becomes a national concern.
  • Imhotep in The Mummy (1999). He was an Ancient Egyptian priest who was mummified alive and cursed. The result of this curse is that, when he comes back, he's practically invincible and no one except for the Medjay really know how to deal with him, and even the Medjay have no way to stop him on hand—their whole presence near Hamunaptra was to keep him from getting out in the first place.
  • Invoked by Reese during his interrogation by the LAPD in The Terminator, when he explains frantically and vainly that the title character is unlike any threat they are familiar with:
    It can't be bargained with, can't be negotiated with ... He'll find her and he'll rip out her heart. That's what he does. THAT'S ALL HE DOES!
  • Multiple in the Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man: There was nothing like Tony's power armor before he burst out of his captives' hideout using an extremely flawed prototype. When he did perfect the Iron Man design, he easily beat up a gang of terrorists and out-flew the US Air Force. It took someone stealing his technology just to match him. In the sequel, Tony uses his outside context status to deter terrorists and other hostile forces.
    • Thor: Thor himself, being a visitor from another dimension, is nothing anyone has dealt with before. The people he befriends originally consider him a crazy hobo who thinks he's a mythological character. And in The Avengers, Nick Fury explains how the presence of someone from another world (whose "grudge match leveled a small town") left SHIELD reeling.
    Not only were we not alone, but we were hopelessly, hilariously, outgunned.
    • The Avengers (2012): The Avengers to the Chitauri's invasion force. It is made very clear that the Chitauri were expecting to simply waltz in and easily conquer the human race. Instead, their invasion is repelled in less than an hour by a team comprised of two Badass Normal soldiers, an Asgardian warrior, a guy in powered armour, a super-soldier... and the Hulk. Best summed up in The Stinger;
  • A Kid in King Arthur's Court: Calvin is a everyday 90s kid teleported to the 6th century by the spirit of Merlin to help King Arthur. Although he's far from physically impressive and doesn't have any special powers, what keeps him ahead of Lord Belasco is his knowledge of future technology, which is created by a friendly blacksmith, along with his knowledge of King Arthur's story.
  • By the end of the The Matrix, Neo evolves into a Matrix-warping super being like none have seen before. He can fight off and even kill an agent with ease, something that is thought to be impossible. Once he's finished with Agent Smith, the other two agents can only run. In the sequels, the agents fare better (and it's revealed Neo is not the first of his kind), but they're still completely outmatched by Neo.
  • RoboCop (1987): After Murphy is rebuilt into a cyborg, he spends most of the film relentlessly haunting and taking down criminals in Old Detroit. Robo Cop is so beyond anything they have ever experienced that they're completely helpless before him and he takes down the drug lords who murdered him without taking any damage. A newscaster in the movie compared it to a comic book hero coming to life. It takes the criminals gaining access to military weapons and help from the big number two at OCP just to slow Robo Cop down.
  • Col. George Taylor from Planet of the Apes (1968). Despite being captive, enslaved, and thought to be mute, Taylor is out of context to the apes once they realize that he can write, is quite intelligent, and eventually talk once his throat is healed. All the other humans in the film are kept as pets who can't talk or think intelligently.
  • Casper: When the hero is a ghost and the primary antagonists are mortals who didn't even believe in ghosts at the beginning of the movie, it puts Casper firmly in this trope.
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy is built on this, from the discarded Coke bottle to Xi's response to white society.
  • Star Trek Beyond has the Swarm of Mecha-Mooks that Krall has at his disposal. They're too numerous for phasers to destroy many of them, they're too small and nimble for torpedoes to lock onto them, and they have tech that lets them pass straight through shields. They behave in much the same way as piranhas in movies do, and can destroy a starship in minutes.

    Literature 
  • As mentioned, the Trope Namer is from The Culture series; the Excession. And when a civilization like the Culture considers something "Outside Context", things are about to get hairy...
  • This is a major plot point in Foundation and Empire, when the Mule, a mutant with Mind Control and Emotion Control powers, shows up out of nowhere and starts conquering planets. Hari Seldon's predictions, which have been infallibly running the show for centuries, are suddenly no longer accurate because his science could only predict the aggregate behavior of large groups of people and could not account for the Million-to-One Chance of a single individual being born with the ability to alter the behavior of large populations. However, Hari knew that something was bound to happen in his thousand-year plan, so he put together a secret team to make sure the unexpected could be fixed. The fact that the plan still works on time after the Mule is defeated is a tip-off to one protagonist that something is up.
    • By the end of Foundation and Earth, Golan Trevize comes to the conclusion that this trope is the main reason why he choose Gaia over the Second Foundation — Psycho-History and the Second Foundation's means of manipulation and planning are based on human behaviour (the Mule thought like a human, he just had an ability others did not), leaving them open for problems if faced with truly alien ways of thinking.
  • George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Seven Kingdoms are ripping themselves apart in civil war, blissfully unaware that the demonic Others are amassing their army of the undead just north of the Wall. Only the Night's Watch has taken any steps to fight them, and they are woefully outnumbered and much of the knowledge they used to have about the Others has been lost.
    • Westeros had a long and storied history of intrigue and conquest before Aegon the Conqueror flew in with three dragons and curb-stomped six of the seven native kingdoms in quick succession. The trope is best expressed by Harrenhal, a massive and impregnable castle that was nonetheless defenseless against dragonfire.
    • The eastern religion of R'hllor was virtually unknown in Westeros at the start of the series, yet evangelical inroads made by the clergy have allowed them to quickly shift the balance of power in the Seven Kingdoms. Also unlike the two dominant religions of Westeros, the followers of R'hllor are capable of using real magic with some requiring a great sacrifice.
  • In the Shadowleague books, Lord Blade is this for the people of Callisoria, and possibly even his fellow Loremasters.
  • The characters of World War Z repeatedly lampshade that nobody even believed in zombies, let alone knew anything about how to defeat them. note 
    • Additionally, Iran gets one in the form of Pakistan. Iran considered itself (and, early on, genuinely was) safe and secure, with abundant natural resources, highly mountainous terrain that was extremely unforgiving to zombies, and cities located far away from one another that could be easily isolated if one of them were to be overrun. Unfortunately, Iran's attempts to stop the flow of refugees from neighboring Pakistan - including blowing bridges at the border - enraged Pakistan's government and triggered a nuclear war that destroyed both countries. The man being interviewed describes how, unlike longtime rivals and nuclear powers India and Pakistan, the lack of historic enmity between Iran and Pakistan and the relative infancy of Iran's nuclear weapons program meant that the two countries had never developed the mechanisms and diplomatic channels to prevent war between them.
  • H. G. Wells The War of the Worlds. This trope works in both directions. The humans had no idea about the alien invaders and the alien invaders had no idea about human diseases.
  • The appropriately named Outsiders from The Dresden Files, who come from outside reality and do not play by the normal rules that govern supernatural beings. Particularly Nemesis, an entity that can infect people's minds and warp their personalities to sway them to the Outsiders' cause. It can alter the fundamental mental nature of the beings it infects, such as removing the Cannot Tell a Lie restrictions that normally bind the fae, something that everyone believes to be impossible.
  • The Great Evil from Humanx Commonwealth, is so far out of context that it turns out to be from another universe entirely. In fact it's revealed that its nature as an outside-context villain is the whole reason it's dangerous in the first place; in its own universe it was a harmless and benevolent force but due to the physics of the HC universe being different from its birthplace, its powers became destructive. Flinx ends up "defeating" it by dropping it back into its own realm, causing to instantly become friendly again.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The plot of the series is that the Voidbringers, ancient demons from fairytales, are returning to the world to finally defeat humanity after being driven off countless times before. The problem is, the last time they were driven off was four and a half thousand years ago. Not only has that time faded into myth so much that most people don't believe the Voidbringers existed in the first place, but at the Last Desolation the Heralds of the Almighty abandoned their oaths and told humanity that they had finally won for good. That means that the few people who do believe the Voidbringers existed also believe they're never coming back. Very, very few people recognize the signs and know what to expect.
  • In Gulliver's Travels the title character is a fairly normal human, but because the Lilliputians are only about six inches tall he becomes an One-Man Army (or more accurately a Navy) for them.
  • Similar to Superman, John Carter from John Carter of Mars is an ordinary human soldier born with no super powers. He ends up one of the strongest people on Mars because of that planet's lower gravity, much like how Superman gains his ability from the Earth's yellow sun.
  • Merlin Athrawes from the Safehold series. In a world deliberately engineered to be stuck in Medieval Stasis, he's an advanced cyborg with superhuman personal abilities, a secret cave full of futuristic technological goodies, and a mission to break that medieval stasis.
  • In 1632, a whole West Virginia town is transported to that year in Thuringia during the 30 Years War. The resources of a hardscrabble coal mining town make it an immediate badass player in the war filled countryside. Imagine buckets of napalm fired from a trebuchet to break a castle siege and you get the idea. Also almost everyone in town, man and woman alike, is a hunter and pretty gun savvy. Automatic weapons and long range rifles with telescopic sights vs. wheel lock pistols is not much of a contest.
  • Hobbits in Lord of the Rings. While other races have long history of heroic deeds (and long history in general), hobbits are the youngest folk in Middle Earth, and have never achieved anything noteworthy. They don't travel, so they are practically unheard of on the other side of Misty Mountains. The only one viewing them as potential heroes is Gandalf (and later Saruman, who noticed other wizard's fondness of them). Sauron probably didn't even know that hobbits existed until he got info on One Ring's location from Gollum - and it just so happens that they exhibit extraordinary resistance to its corrupting power. And Frodo even uses his status as Outside Context Hero on Rivendell Council.

    Live Action TV 

  • Angel had many examples of this trope. The first was Sahjan, whose presence was not even explained to the audience until his final episode. Then there was The Beast, the cast given only vague warnings about its arrival and were outclassed by it in every possible way. Then there was Jasmine, who had even less warning and was so beyond their experience the only way they acquired information of her at all was due to a visitor from her home dimension.
    • And then things really get bad when Illyria wakes up. Her two episode introduction is more or less devoted to a long realization that this really is a horrible Lovecraftian Physical God, not a poser, and that things like pointing guns or swinging swords at her are really quite quaint.
  • Before the above, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Glorificus. Best exemplified by Buffy's expression when told that Glory isn't a demon, but a god.
    • Inverted by Warren Mears. Used to dealing with vampires, demons, and gods, Buffy wasn't prepared to deal with one Ax-Crazy human Mad Scientist.
    • Even before Warren Mears, there was Ted, the titular killer robot from the episode "Ted". Buffy knew how to handle vampires and demons and things that went bump in the night, but a killer robot who pretended to just be a guy? She had no idea how to deal until she figured out his secret.
    • Also The Initiative as an organization - science intruding into a fantasy world.
  • Defiance: Season Three introduces the Omec, a race from the Votanis System that everyone assumed didn't survive the system going nova. A rapacious, predatory species, they were considered demons and boogeymen by the other Votan races, and nobody mourned their apparent extinction. When they show up in Earth orbit with an Arkship of their own, that's actually quite a bit more advanced technologically than the other Votans, nobody takes it well.
  • On Doctor Who:
    • In "The Ice Warriors" climate change scientists are trying to hold back a glacier, in a way that is clearly business as usual in the setting. Then one of the members finds a mummified body frozen in an ice floe and brings it back for research purposes. It turns out to be a Martian warrior downed in an ancient plane crash and trying to find its allies again. They are dependent on their computer to calculate probabilities and obsessively do what it says — naturally, it has no programming to deal with alien invasions, leaving them high and dry and forcing them to rely on the Doctor, for whom these things are more normal.
    • "The War Games" is mostly a story about aliens kidnapping soldiers from various time zones and making them fight each other, until (in the eighth episode of ten) the Doctor is forced to summon the Time Lords to imprison the War Chief, an evil Time Lord and get all of the kidnapped soldiers home. The Time Lords arrive and immediately break the plot, with irreversible consequences.
    • The villains of "The Celestial Toymaker", "The Dæmons" and "Battlefield" have what appear to be actual magical powers, which stand out even in a science fiction series (even a Science In Genre Only show which uses a lot of Magic from Technology).
    • Sutekh from "Pyramids of Mars" has such awesome power that, as the Doctor says, that if unleashed, even the Time Lords couldn't stand against him.
    • The Beast from "The Satan Pit". The Doctor is used to Doing In the Wizard, facing creatures that are just using technology or tricks to make themselves look fearsome. So when he faces something claiming to be from "before time", and the actual Devil, he has no idea what to do.
    • By the show's basic premise, the Doctor is an Outside Context Hero. The very first episode of the show is about two schoolteachers concerned with the home life of an odd student; they go over to her address and instead find an old-fashioned Police Box with Alien Geometries belonging to a strange old man who turns out to be 'not of this Earth'. The Genre Shift from a school-based drama to science fantasy is a phenomenal twist and the episode still packs quite a punch today, although anyone who watches it is already spoiled for it. In the Series 5 finale of the new series a large group of his enemies, none known for working well with others, pool their resources and abilities to trap him in the ultimate prison - as he was known for just 'dropping out of the sky and ending your world'.
  • Doctor Who spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures "Secrets of the Stars" has the cast dealing with an astrologer who can control people using astrology using something called the Ancient Lights, despite it supposedly being impossible - even their supercomputer is unable to deal with it since astrology breaks the laws of physics. Finally they theorise that the Ancient Lights come from a universe that predates ours, one where the laws of physics are different and astrology worked.
  • Alphas villain Marcus Ayers explicitly calls himself - and all other Alphas - an "out-of-context problem" for normal humans. He then fatalistically points out that only way humans know how to deal with such a problem is to destroy it, which they try to do to him shortly afterwards.
  • Supernatural:
    • Several episodes deal with crazy humans, leaving Dean bewildered. He even lampshades in the first episode with one of these villains that he can understand all sorts of supernatural things, like ghosts, vampires, demons, etc. It's humans he has trouble dealing with. "Demons I get. Humans are just crazy."
    • Ironically, the first time Sam and Dean actually fought a demon in "Phantom Traveler", it was portrayed in this manner, being vastly more powerful than anything they'd faced until that point.
    • Angels, especially Archangels, also qualify as this when first introduced. Angels hadn't been on Earth for millennia at the start of the series, so almost no human knew how to fight them when they tried to bring about the Apocalypse. As more and more angel-killing weapons are introduced, and the Archangels are all killed off, they lose this status. Lucifer and Michael in particular, being immune to typical angel-killing weapons like angel blades, the Colt, and holy fire, take this to the next level.
    • Alphas, similarly, were thought by many hunters to be myths before they appeared. They're hard to fight as they are immune to the typical weaknesses of their species. Crowley, however, quickly discovers that iridium can hurt them.
    • Eve, the mother of all monsters, appears as a Disc One Final Boss in S6. Not only is she herself an example, again not having been on Earth for millennia, but she is made even more so by the fact that she has the ability to make new Outside-Context Villains, meaning that the season has a lot of them.
    • The end of the season has yet another one, with Castiel, having become a Physical God after absorbing the souls of Purgatory. The Winchesters are forced to bind Death himself in order to have a chance against him.
    • S7 has yet another with the Leviathans, beings locked in Purgatory by God at the beginning of time to stop them from killing everything else. They can't be killed by anything except other Leviathans and "the bone of a righteous mortal cloaked in the three bloods of the fallen" (the blood of a fallen angel, the blood of the king of demons, and the blood of an Alpha).
  • Short-lived series Threshold was premised on the US government turning to the plans of the one person for whom alien invasion was not an Outside Context Problem. Many of the complications with her plans come from either the aliens being more insidious than she'd anticipated, or resistance and disbelief from everyone else for whom the aliens are completely outside their context.
  • Stargate SG-1 as well:
    • Initially, the Goa'uld themselves. The Earthers thought the one they'd killed in the movie was the Last of His Kind and that they'd eliminated any threat to Earth when they took it out. Not so much...
    • The Replicators, an extragalactic, mechanical Horde of Alien Locusts who make all kinds of trouble for SG-1 and its allies and eventually invade the Milky Way. By then SG-1 had some experience with them, but the Goa'uld still saw them as this trope.
    • Anubis, whom the System Lords thought had died eons ago after his banishment. Turns out he was Not Quite Dead. His return in Season 5 forces both the System Lords and the Earth/Tok'ra/Free Jaffa alliance to shift their priorities from each other to the new enemy.
    • The Ori in the last two seasons. For nearly a decade the heroes have been fighting the Goa'uld, whose modus operandi is to use technology to trick primitives into thinking they're gods. Now they have to fight aliens who by almost any definition are gods.
    • And, of course, Stargate Command and the Tau'ri (Earth humans) in general are this to the Goa'uld. They had a nice little system set up where they could squabble with one another, had a treaty with the Asgard to keep them off their backs, run their own little kingdoms as they wanted... and then a small group of primitives from a long-forgotten world shows up and proceeds to kick their asses so hard that a system that survived millennia goes down in under a decade.
  • The last half of season 2 of Once Upon a Time is shown to be controlled, at least in part, by Peter Pan. While people on both sides of the fourth wall had probably been expecting him since Captain Hook showed up, it's doubtful they thought it'd be as a villain. The first hint we see of him is his disembodied shadow coming to take lost and forgotten boys to Neverland, and even when he is finally shown in person, he's still different from anything they've experienced before. He controls Neverland completely, he can out-gambit Rumpelstiltskin, manipulate people without trying, and even those who have faced him before are unsure how to defeat him, or even if he can be. The most startling thing about him is that he has ties to the entire main cast—he's Rumpel's father, making him Neal's grandfather and Henry's great-grandfather—and no one had any inkling of the possibility of his interference.
    • The main villains in the latter half of season 2 are two humans from The Land Without Magic and not fairy tale or literature characters (although they are allied with Peter Pan).
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. shows that S.H.I.E.L.D. has a name for Outside Context Problems: 0-8-4, code for an object of unknown origin and utility. Thor's hammer was one, and a laser weapon found in some ancient ruins was another. Obviously, eventually sometimes context is provided; they still don't know much about Mjolnir, but they know where it came from and who it belongs to. Likewise, the laser weapon turned out to be a device commissioned from HYDRA during WWII.
  • Fringe: Most of the problems the Fringe team face are out of their context, but the shapeshifters, and the improved ones in particular, come right out of the left field for them. But the crown contender is The Invaders, time-travelling cyborgs who want the present day so they can ruin it. The only person who even suspected they were coming was William Bell. And when they do arrive, they quickly curbstomp the entire planet.
  • The Flash (2014): When Barry shows up to rescue Team Arrow and Malcolm Merlyn from the League of Assassins in Nanda Parbat, dealing with a true superhuman of the Flash's abilities is something they are so utterly unprepared for. Curb-Stomp Battle doesn't even begin to describe how effortlessly he takes out an entire fortress of highly skilled warriors in about 10 seconds.
  • In Ultra Seven X, most aliens seem considerably outclassed by the title hero. It turns out Ultra Seven is the showa timeline Ultra Seven who learned of the Big Bad aliens when they attempted to invade his universe and crossed over. Ultras don't exist in that universe whereas in his original timeline an Ultra showing up to stop an Alien Invasion amounts to 'oh no! It's the cops!' So even the main villains have little ability to deal with him at his full power.
  • Each season of The 100 so far has ended with a new, completely unforeseeable problem for the main characters to face:
    • The 100 spent season one fighting against Grounders until the last episode revealed that the Mountain Men, previously thought to be another clan of natives, were in fact the remnant of the US government and military and by far the most technologically advanced faction in the story.
    • In season two, the main storyline dealt with the conflict with Grounders and Mountain Men the former becoming allies of the heroes, and the latter being exterminated. But the secondary plot ends up introducing A.L.I.E., an evil A.I. responsible for the nuclear apocalypse and with an Assimilation Plot, and who comes completely out of left field compared to the more down to earth survival tone of the rest of the show.
    • Finally, at the end of season three A.L.I.E. revealed that nuclear plants all over the globe were about to go critical after a century of lack of maintenance and threatened to send enough radiation to exterminate all life on Earth, a problem so far out of reach for people who still live in scavenged pieces of trash with no intercontinental transportation it's not even funny.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Exalted:
    • There are quite a few of these. In the past five years, Abyssal and Infernal Exalted—types of Exalted no one's seen in all of history—have started crawling out of the woodwork after their respective bosses got their hands on half of all the Solar Exaltations ever crafted. And for the recently-returned Solars, the eventual return of the Scarlet Empress can seem like this...especially since she's now a puppet for the Yozis.
    • The Abyssals and Infernals apply doubly so to the Sidereals, who were watching the shop while the Solars were dead and the Lunars were on the run. They have the ability to track all things which reside within Fate... which the Abyssals (who have technically died and surrendered their fates) and the Infernals (who were reforged in Malfeas) don't count under.
    • The quintessential example might be the conquest of Thorns. An army of ghosts and undead, led by the horrifically powerful ghost Mask of Winters, supplemented by the aforementioned Abyssals (being seen for the first time) and a gigantic dying monster, leading to the city being not only taken over, but converted into a Shadowland expanding at a terrifyingly unprecedented rate.
    • The event of the Alchemical Exalted (or Autochthonians in general) entering Creation would play out like this in scenarios with a military context. The reverse holds true as well; the Autochthonians have very little idea what Creation is actually like and it disturbs them fairly badly.
    • In a rare inversion of this trope, the Primordials are terrifying lovecraftian planes of existence which are also sentient and compromised of greater demons and lesser ones as well as being Genius Loci with Malevolent Architecture topped of with Blue and Orange Morality. The only thing that saves them from this trope is that they made the universe and have been running things from day 1. That, and they protagonists were literally created to destroy them makes the titular Exalted outside context problems to them.
  • The Eldrazi in Magic: The Gathering, being Eldritch Abominations from the spaces between planes of existence which feed on said planes, and don't obey the basic rules of magic. Until their escape, the plane of Zendikar where they were imprisoned was presented as an adventure world. To quote the Rise of the Eldrazi Player's Guide, "Previous quests have been for treasure and glory. In the new Rise of the Eldrazi set...only one goal remains: survival."
    • Also the case for New Phyrexia's attack. Even when the Mirrans knew they were at war, they expected their opponents to wage war on the people...not the ecosystem.
    • During the Conflux of Alara, all five Shards got hit with this. Each one had been without two colors of magic for so long they had forgotten those colors even existed, meaning that each one suddenly found themselves running into two mini-worlds defined by magic they had never experienced. Best exemplified by Esper, the white-blue-black Shard, which developed into a land of cyborgs who infused etherium into their bodies because only one of their three colors was even capable of artifact destruction, and then suddenly found itself running into red and green, two colors of magic that excel at blasting artifacts into shrapnel.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, this is the problem with a lot of the newer enemies. Humanity had gotten used to "ordinary" aliens like Orks or Eldar, and then here comes the swarm of extra-galactic, hyper-evolving locusts. Or ageless metal skeletons with a grudge against organic life. Or a bunch of little grey communists who went from primitives to mini mecha with railguns in just a few thousand years.
    • Standard Imperial policy is only so outrageously cruel and draconian because otherwise they would get suckerpunched by every out of context problem in the galaxy (for reference, soul-eating psychic jellyfish out of nowhere are one of the more expected, planned-for, and familiar threats). And they're still getting suckerpunched.
    • The Emperor inadvertently set one up prior to the Horus Heresy. His Imperial Truth was a rational, secular philosophy that had no room for gods or "daemons," despite the Emperor knowing damn well that the Chaos Gods were out therehe hoped to starve them of faith. So when half of the Space Marine legions fell to Chaos, not only did the loyalists have to deal with fighting soldiers just as superhuman as they were, but soldiers with access to Demonic Possession or summoned daemons.
    • The Harrowing, an event mentioned in Dark Heresy. Fluff indicates that it was an entire eldritch universe barging into the Materium and kicking the shit out of everyone so badly that all the habitable worlds in a sector or three are nothing but lifeless desert. It may well have been an even more devastating conflict than the Horus Heresy, but almost nothing remains outside of Astartes battle sagas and a few third-hand fragments in some obscure and seemingly unreliable sources. Which isn't even covering what the Imperium had to do to survive.
    • Slaanesh for most of the Eldar. Some seers tried to warn their people that their hedonism was feeding a gestating god, but few listened (and of those who did, some actually started taking it Up to Eleven, in the hopes of gexperiencing sensations beyond their wildest dreams once the god came into existence. They did). Those who did hid inside the Webway or built Craftworlds to flee in, but they did not understand just what would happen when Slaanesh was "born". The god's birth tore a hole in reality, plunging the heart of the Eldar empire into the Warp and instantly consuming the souls of almost the entire species. Most of those who fled did not make it far enough to escape having their souls eaten. And while those hiding in the Webway initially seemed unaffected, they soon discovered that Slaanesh was still consuming their souls, just very slowly.
    • The Tau's first proper contact with the Imperium was this for both sides; the Tau thought that the human worlds they gathered up were just some isolated backwaters (they were), but were completely caught off guard by the massive amount of resources the Imperium threw at them in retaliation, while the Imperium were surprised by how an advanced civilization of aliens could develop so fast under their noses, and then stall their invasion fleet for so long.
  • Baba Yaga was this to the Linnorm Kings in Pathfinder. She suddenly arrived from Earth in her Dancing Hut one winter 1400 years ago, conquered half their territory with her army of trolls and fey, established one of her daughters on the throne, and just as quickly left, leaving her army behind to protect the newly-established kingdom of Irrisen. Reign of Winter even reveals why she bothered; she sustains her immortality by consuming the Life Force of her female descendants/daughters. Irrisen, then, ensures she always has a steady supply of that precious bloodline protected and kept ready for her when she needs a pick-me-up.
  • Dungeons & Dragons offers a thousand and one options for this. In general, pulling new monsters, character classes and abilities from splatbooks that the players aren't familiar with or have yet to be incorporated into the campaign would create examples of the trope. Examples with the trope already built into them include:
    • Summon Magic can literally pull a villain from some other context.
    • Inevitables are robots from another plane that enforce the natural laws of the universe.
    • The Bodak is an alien from the d20 Modern setting that has been raised from the dead.
    • Mindflayers are Cthulhumanoids from the future who appeared out of nowhere with a fully formed empire right under the...erm..."noses" of the Aboleths, who know and remember everything since time began.
    • The Expedition to the Barrier Peaks module is an entire campaign of this, as the players have to deal with a crashed alien spacecraft and all the technology it contains. Generally regarded as one of the toughest early D&D modules.

    Video Games 

  • Chrono Trigger:
    • Lavos is an extraterrestrial planetary parasite, making him a literal Giant Space Flea from Nowhere. Lavos's existence is known to various people at various times (the Zealots used it for an energy source, which wasn't that smart a move), but nobody knew its purpose until 1999, when it woke up.
    • The heroes when they arrive in any time period that they're not native to, especially since they can do magic, something that has been lost for generations, and another member is a robot from the distant future. The main characters being completely out of context is what lead them to defeat the Reptiles in 60 million BC and Magus in 600 AD. Their one big defeat happens because they aren't out of context to the people of Zeal since they can do magic, have technology that rivals those in Robo's time, and Magus is there to warn them about the heroes before they even arrive in the time period.
  • The Parasite from Evolva, much the same as Lavos.
  • Final Fantasy games are fond of this, with the villain often being something utterly alien to the protagonists:
    • The Cloud of Darkness from Final Fantasy III is familiar to the World of Darkness, but wholly unknown to the World of Light.
    • The Lunarians (specifically, Zemus, Golbez, and the Lunarian Lost Technology) in Final Fantasy IV, which include the hero, on his father's side anyway. He was raised as a human, so he's just as baffled by the powers of his father's people and the artifacts they left behind. There's supposedly mostly good Lunarians, but we only see one and a Face–Heel Turn.
    • Exdeath of Final Fantasy V is known to the inhabitants of the world he comes from, but utterly unknown in the other. Fortunately, people from his world follow to help the defenseless natives of the protagonists' world fight him.
    • Jenova in Final Fantasy VII, an invading planet- and life-eating parasite from space. The main villain Sephiroth also gets some of this quality partly from Jenova. While both Shinra and members of Avalanche (the eco-terrorist group opposing Shinra) knew him from before, they didn't really know him — especially what his connection to Jenova meant since they didn't know what it was. As he makes his return, he derails the plot from the fight between Avalanche and Shinra into both trying to stop him without really knowing what he even wants.
    • The Terrans of Final Fantasy IX, which, like IV, include the hero, who, like IV, has gone native. Unlike IV, all the other aliens are of the "invade and help their planet devour the souls of those that live on ours" variety.
  • The Heartless tended to be these for the various Disney worlds in Kingdom Hearts.
  • The Smithy Gang from Super Mario RPG, an enemy so outside normal context that it caused an Enemy Mine between Mario, Peach, and Bowser!
    • This would also apply to most of the other Mario RPG villains who often are much bigger threats to Mario than Bowser usually is. In Super Paper Mario, Bowser ends up working with Mario, Luigi, and Peach to take down Count Bleck.
      • Taken to its furthest extreme with Culex, the Bonus Boss from Super Mario RPG. The joke is that Culex is a villain from Final Fantasy that somehow wound up in Mario's universe, right down to a Non-Standard Character Design that boasts sprites in the games' style, music that plays in all of his scenes being Franchise standards, and fighting with four elemental crystals. When defeated he departs back to his own universe, lamenting "In another time, another game, we might have been mortal enemies."
    • Bowser's Inside Story features the Dark Star, initially portrayed as a simple Artifact of Doom. No one knows what it really is or where it originally came from, but it clearly has an agenda of its own, and it easily replaces Fawful as the villain when he tries to use its power.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, the Bittercold is this for the entirety of the Pokémon franchise, being the first boss besides Dark Rust in Pokémon Rumble Blast that isn't a Pokémon or a Pokémon trainer. Instead, it's a crystalline embodiment of despair and hopelessness, given form because how much negativity has been going around in the Pokémon world as of late. Simply being near it causes Pokémon to suffocate and, if left unchecked, it has the potential to destroy the entire world. It takes the intervention of a similarly-outside-context entity (a Nature Spirit in the form of a Pokémon) to destroy it, as, knowing no Pokémon can do the job, they decide to summon humans who can resist its debilitating effects.
    • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon follows it with Dark Matter, another eldritch force that is not a Pokémon and which can turn even the legendaries into stone. It's also hinted to be the Bittercold once again, with a new slew of powers and even sentience.
  • Starcraft:
    • The Zerg, who are a Horde of Alien Locusts from another part of the galaxy. The Zerg are out-of-context for the Protoss more than anything, since they were running the galaxy as part of their "Great Stewardship". They never imagined a Horde of Alien Locusts coming out of nowhere with the explicit purpose of assimilating them, and destroying their ancestral homeworld.
    • The Protoss were pretty out-of-context for the Terrrans as well, the Terrans discovered they were not alone when a massive fleet showed up out of nowhere and sterilized one of their colonies.
    • The United Earth Directorate from Brood War is another example. The Zerg are at least comprehensible to the Protoss as they are also a creation of the Xel'Naga, and part of their power comes from absorbing Xel'Naga knowledge. Terrans, as far as most of the Protoss are concerned, are a bit of background noise in their fight with the Zerg. But then a fleet from Earth shows up and (for a time at least) controls the Zerg and becomes the top power.
    • The Dark Voice and his Hybrids also seems to be this in StarCraft II, especially in the Bad Future: the Zerg were the main threat that everybody recognized, and then, just as Kerrigan was killed to defeat the Zerg, the Fallen One came in, took over the Zerg, and used them to bring everlasting darkness to the Universe.
  • In Spyro Orange and Crash Purple, the protagonists suddenly find themselves the victims of a villain switcheroo, and have to take on each other's archnemeses.
    • Similarly, the Shadow Minions from Spyro: Shadow Legacy. Even Spyro couldn't damage these things until he started learning Dragon Kata.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins the Darkspawn are this to everyone except the Grey Wardens and the Dwarves. Since it's been hundreds of years since the last Blight, the people of the surface believed that the Darkspawn had been eradicated. When the Fifth Blight strikes, the people of Ferelden are left scrambling to prepare their defenses and it doesn't help that Ferelden has so few Grey Wardens to help. Things get worse after the Battle of Ostagar—everyone is too preoccupied with serious internal problems including a civil war and underestimate the true threat level of the Blight. Nobody in Ferelden is really prepared to fight monsters that a) vastly outnumber them b) carry a lethal and corrupting magical plague and c) are controlled by an insane dragon god that is unkillable unless a Grey Warden strikes the final blow.
    • In Dragon Age II, Cassandra and the Seekers are desperately trying to figure out who out of all the key players in Kirkwall, was the Big Bad responsible for the outbreak of the Mage/Templar War. Varric tells her that none of them are responsible, but the Red Lyrium Idol recovered from the Primeval Thaig certainly was a key factor in what happened.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition brings us the Breach: essentially a giant hole in the sky connected to the Fade that constantly spews out demons and other nasty horrors, and is essentially ripping the world apart at the seams when it is first encountered.
  • The Conqueror in The Last Remnant shows up out of nowhere with an army and starts capturing Remnants until the current world order recognizes him as a ruler. As it turns out, this is a Humanity on Trial thing to see how humans are using the power of the Remnants. They fail.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim almost everyone is blindsided by the Dragons. The only ones who have any idea where they came from are the Graybeards, and that's only because their mentor is a Dragon.
    • The Daedra in any situation where they're antagonistic, and particularly the Daedric Princes. It's been stated many times that none of them are "good" or "evil" but simply have their own goals which, to mortals, can range from completely understandable, petty, or downright nonsensical. Moreover, even with lesser Daedra no way has been found to truly kill them. Destroying their physical forms does little more than banish them to Oblivion where they simply reform to strike again elsewhere.
  • Guild Wars has a few examples:
    • First, in Nightfall, was the return of Abaddon, the fallen sixth god, and his Margonite followers. The other gods had gone to great lengths to render him an Un-Deity, so much of the players' knowledge of Abaddon is learned while on the run from his various armies.
    • Second, in Eye of the North, was the appearance of the Destroyers. While foreshadowed in an obscure Dwarven prophecy, nobody really knew about them until they were already halfway through slaughtering the Asurans. Even by the end of the campaign and their destruction very little was actually known about the Destroyers beyond that they were an enemy.
    • Third, in the sequel, Guild Wars 2, is the appearance of the Elder Dragons. While they have been present since long before man or god walked the land, they were largely dormant and only hints of their power were seen.
  • Chakravartin in Asura's Wrath is a classic example. Absolutely no-one in the story had any inkling what his plans were, or that he even existed, until he straight-up manifested in the world and told the main characters. As the Supreme Being, his powers are infinitely greater than anybody else's but Asura beats him anyway.
  • Tabuu from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He comes out of nowhere and effortlessly beats absolutely every character. Then Dedede's badges activate...
  • The 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games generally use this as their source of villainy, as usual Big Bad Dr. Eggman's role is often demoted in these titles, either trying to benefit from the fact the villain is outside the typical context of the series or only rising to the level of being an instigator of the events and then losing his grip on them after some of the plot has passed. Examples include Chaos (a water monster from ancient times Eggman has been trying to harness but only ends up aiding its vengeful rampage) and Biolizard (a last-ditch experiment by a mad scientist aboard a space colony as his final parting gift for a world he believes betrayed him).
  • As seen on the page image for Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, the Big Bad of Growl, a game revolving around rescuing African animals from poachers, turns out to be aliens.
  • The Joker comes across as this in Batman: Arkham Origins. He arrives in town with no explanation, no origin, no identity, no real motives, just wanton and senseless destruction. Batman himself is completely taken aback by the sheer brutality and sadism in the crime scene where he first sees his name and later mentions that while he's put away psychopaths before, The Joker is something completely different.
  • By Saints Row IV, the Saints have taken down plenty of street gangs (including gangs of Voodoo practitioners, Yakuza samurai bikers, cyberpunk hackers and heavily armed masked wrestlers) a Mega Corp., an extremely hi-tech private army, terrorists and zombies, and have used that sheer force of will to propel themselves to the White House, making it clear that no force on Earth can best them. Then aliens invade, abduct humanity's the best and brightest and destroy Earth and the Saints are taken completely by surprise.
  • An old security alert you can find in Destiny calls the Darkness an Outside Context Problem by name. Fitting with the Iain Banks quote above, its arrival heralded the near-destruction of human civilizationnote . High technology means nothing to a malevolent Sentient Cosmic Force.
  • The Endgame Crises in Stellaris, you have a choice between a Robot War, an incursion by extradimensional energy beings, and a Horde of Alien Locusts.
    • The player themself can be one to pre-FTL races if they set their "Native Interference" policy to Unrestricted.

    Webcomics 
  • The Old Ones in Cthulhu Slippers are this to humanity, and are so powerful they conquer earth in a night and a day. Like almost everything in the comic, it's Played for Laughs.
  • Demonically sapient dream-invading dolphins in Awful Hospital. Bear in mind that the heroine is nowhere near any body of water at the time they contact her.
  • One-Punch Man: Saitama is somewhat of an Expy of Superman, but lives in a World of Badass running on Anime-tropes. This makes him highly overpowered compared to the other characters and is Played for Laughs most of the time.

     Web Original 
  • The Endbringers in Worm are massive, unstoppable monstrosities that regularly obliterate major population centers. Their origins and motivations are completely unknown though the characters theorize that someone is creating them. The entire Hero/Villain dynamic was shaped specifically with the Endbringers in mind once they showed up. They're powerful enough to force cooperation and an unwritten code of conduct between the two sides.
  • The entire premise of Rplegacy's Dark Clouds Gathering fantasy crossover RPG is that a war breaks out between the Legion of Light and the Army of Shadow, which is thrown for a loop when the Phantom-lord Grogna summons his equals from other dimensions to bolster his forces, introducing people, monsters, technology, and magic that are completely unfamiliar to that world. It's then turned around on the Army of Shadow when the Legion of Light does the exact same thing to bring the heroic champions that held the villains at bay.
  • While the appearance of Israphel in the Yogscast Minecraft Series was certainly unexpected, since Lewis Brindley and Simon Lane initially assumed that they were all alone, they adapted to him fairly quickly. What really took them by surprise was the appearance of the Sentinels, bizarre, mechanical Eldritch Abomination lifeforms, not that unlike the Reapers of Mass Effect in that they corrupt the thoughts of beings, driving them insane. They also did this to the Sand, which was formerly the thing keeping them prisoner. Their appearance had received little foreshadowing, and on top of that, Simon and Lewis only travelled on the inside of one. We still have no idea what they are doing, how they are linked to Israphel, or what they even look like externally.

    Western Animation 

  • Unicron in The Transformers series. Originally he was a terrifying Galactus Expy in The Movie before he was fleshed out as a god of chaos later on. Still, no-one had any idea how to deal with him in the first place when he showed up. This was lampshaded in the original movie. Kup, the eldest of the surviving Autobots had at least one story for every occasion, usually a bad one. However, upon seeing the massive Unicron, all he could mutter was "nope, never seen anything like this before."
  • If there was one villain in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic that almost no one, in and out of universe, saw coming, it was the Changelings appearing at the very end of the second season. The only pony to know of their presence was trapped underneath Canterlot, imprisoned by the Changeling Queen and it's implied that she had no idea they existed until she was imprisoned in the first place. As for out of universe? Most theories for the finale didn't factor in shapeshifting insects, and the few that did guess something involving impersonation probably didn't think of something like that. Heck, the villain even used this to their advantage and struck at the best possible moment.
  • The Dazzlings from My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks, being Emotion Eaters that use Mind Manipulation, would be normal for the show, but they appear in the High School A.U. where magic doesn't normally exist. When Twilight Sparkle and friends try confronting them the usual way, nothing happens, and she spends the rest of the film struggling to find an alternate method while the Dazzlings operate unchallenged until the finale.
  • The Legend of Korra
    • Season 1 gives us Amon, the leader of the Equalists, who uses bloodbending to permanently remove a someone's bending. Before him, the only person with this ability was Avatar Aang, a Physical God.
    • Season 2 gives us the Dark Spirits, spirits who have been corrupted and turn violent. They are completely indestructible and bending can only repel them temporarily. Before Season 2, spirits were rare in the human world and never harmed humans unless provoked.
    • Season 3's villains are all masters of an unusual form of bending: lavabending, combustionbending, water tentacles, and airbending.
    • Season 4; everyone knew Kuvira would march on Republic City. No one knew she would use a Humongous Mecha armed with a spirit Wave Motion Gun to do so.
  • Steven Universe:
    • In one episode, a massive eyeball appears in the sky and attempts to perform a Colony Drop. Word of God says that it, unlike every other enemy in the show, was not a gem monster and thus not a corrupted Crystal Gem, making its only connection to the cast the fact that Rose Quartz had a weapon capable of defeating it.
    • Eventually subverted many episodes later: the eye is one of the villainous Gem Peridot's robots.
    • While almost every aspect of the show's timeline deviates from the real world involves the gems in some manner - all villains are corrupted gems, or homeworld gems, or robots created by gems. Unusual artefacts and sites were left by gems ages ago. Except for the evil scroll, which has nothing at all to do with anything else in the show, and seems to display real, genuine magic that differs from the gem's technological and self-inherent powers. Word of God eventually subverted this one too, explaining that the pigments the scroll was painted with were made from ground Gems, making it a particularly horrific gem monster.
  • Mega Man:
    • Just as Vile and Spark Mandrill in "Mega X" are completely out of context for Mega Man, X himself is an out of context foe to Wily and his robots. When they did try to fight him, he catches Cut Man's weapon and crushes it like it's tinfoil.
    • Mega Man himself was this when he was still just a robot helper named Rock. When Wily was about to reprogram Roll, Rock made Wily stop by telling a lie about how Dr. Light built an army of warrior robots and they were coming to stop him. Wily believed Rock because robots couldn't lie. Rock then gets Wily to release him on the promise that he would show him how to stop the warrior robots. Rock used the opportunity to escape along with Roll. Willy could only scream in outrage and confusion that robots couldn't lie.
  • Beast Wars: Tigerhawk. Not only was he far stronger than any Transformer seen in the series, except for maybe Rampage, he has mystical abilities never seen by any Transformer that allows him to curb stomp any foe he ever faced. It took a warship firing maximum weapons at him to take him down.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Toph becomes this after she learns how to metal bend, something no one thought was even possible.
    • Aang's Avatar State merged with the ocean spirit, La, at Season 1's finale. It is so out there that they destroy the Fire Nation's entire navy fleet and killed their captain without them being able to do a thing to stop them.
    • Aang himself is out of context since, on top of being the Avatar, he is the last air bender, an art thought to be lost for one-hundred years. Aang with air bending alone was enough to take down an army unit since no one had any experience with dealing with an air bender.
  • Teen Titans: Happens to Cyborg when he is pulled back in time to the Bronze Age by a witch to help save her people from monsters. Subverted that the summoning was part of an evil scheme all along.
  • Gargoyles: The titular Gargoyles were under a spell that made them sleep for a thousand years before waking up in mid-90s New York where they are the only supernatural creatures around (at least early on). Outside of Xanatos and Demona, most of their earlier enemies were at a loss dealing with them.
  • In Spider-Man Unlimited, Spidey becomes one after traveling to an alien world where Beast Men rule over humans. Mainly because he's not quite a normal human or one of the aforementioned beast men. The villains are even unable to remove his new Nanomachine costume (which he "borrowed" before leaving Earth) after having Strapped to an Operating Table despite the Cyberpunk setting.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers: Despite his name being in the title, Captain Planet and to a lesser extent the Planeteers themselves are completely out of context. We have a group of five kids with magical rings that can control the elements and a person's heart, and who can summon a super hero who rivals Silver Age Superman, against regular humans. Even the villains who are mad scientists and mutants don't stick out as much as them and most villains have no clue how to handle the Planeteers, let alone Captain Planet. Gaia is even worse since she is the spirit of the freaking Earth. Only other god-like beings can even consider challenging her.
  • The eponymous Steven Universe, being a Half-Human Hybrid makes him something completely foreign to everybody. This has its ups and downs, mostly the latter in early episodes, but it proves beneficial when it turns out his physiology lets him No Sell the technology used by the the first major antagonists and perform feats previously thought to be impossible, like fusing with a human being.

    Real Life 
  • The US government has a variety of disaster protocols. On such protocal is CONPLAN-8888 which covers a zombie apocalypse. Of course, it isn't 100% serious, but rather to mimic more mundane emergencies that might overwhelm traditional responses and avoid a complete Outside Context Problem.
  • As noted above with the Aztecs, generally the problem posed by European-origin colonizers to native peoples from the 15th-20th centuries. The local response can range from being on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle to full and peaceful assimilation, with a few unique adaptations thrown in for good measure.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OutsideContextProblem?from=Main.OutsideContextVillain