Alan Schneider: Who or what is "Godot"? What is this trivia page about? No comment
Samuel Beckett: If I knew, I would have said so in the play.
Joy of joys, the author(s) of your favorite series is/are answering the fans' questions
! Now's your chance to finally get some closure on pressing continuity issues
! So you walk up and ask, "Was Bob really a robot
Their answers? "I dunno." "No comment."
Congratulations. Instead of an answer, you just got the Shrug of God.
Before you get angry at them for being evasive, remember that they may have a reason for their ambiguity. Maybe:
- It's an ongoing series, and the question will be answered in an upcoming episode.
- It's an ongoing series, and while there are no immediate plans to answer the question in an upcoming episode, the author wants to leave their options open for addressing it at some point in the future.
- The series isn't running at the moment, but could be continued or spun off from in the future, and the author wants to leave their options open.
- The plot point in question was supposed to be ambiguous or senseless. The fans are supposed to come up with their own answers. Sheesh.
- The author doesn't want to say anything because the answer is actually hidden within the work and they want the fans to be attentive and uncover it for themselves (or don't feel that they should have to just give up the secret willy-nilly considering all the hard work they did to cleverly-interweave it into the narrative). Can overlap with # 4 but differs from it in that a definitive answer to the question does actually exist.
- The possible answers to the question have sparked much debate amongst the fandom, and the author realizes that coming down on either side will provoke a backlash.
- The question is about some detail completely tangential to the story, which the author had never considered. Sure, it would be cool if the author would just make up answers on the spot to questions about supporting character #23's favorite pizza topping, but you can hardly blame the author who doesn't.
- The creator thinks ambiguity feels realistic; after all, Real Life isn't perfectly neat and organized with no mysteries.
- The creators firmly believe in the Death of the Author theory and don't feel their interpretations are any more valid than anyone else's.
- The writer honestly doesn't remember anymore what he was thinking when he wrote that particular bit.
- The question is (and it frequently is), "So what were Alice and Bob really doing while off-camera after that UST-filled scene?", and the writer can't answer truthfully without Moral Guardians (or worse, shippers) screaming for their head on the chopping block.
- The writer is just making it up as they go and honestly has no more idea what's going on than any of the viewers.
- The writer actually dislikes meticulous Fan Wank and its older brother, overzealous, full-time, academic literary analysis, whether or not it is related to his works.
- The writer is trying to enforce a Fanwork Ban and thinks the information would be more useful to fanfic authors than to anyone else.
- The question has religious implications that the authors would really rather avoid. ("Does God actually exist in this setting?", for example.)
- The author wishes that he never wrote whatever the question pertains to, and would rather just pretend it never happened.
- It's funnier that way.
- It's scarier that way.
- The writers just like being contrary and watching their fans squirm.
Not to be confused with Flip Flop of God
, where the author has a definite answer which has changed
Contrast with the Hand Wave
, and "A Wizard Did It
", which are given in response to questions about Plot Holes
or the workings of a story's Phlebotinum
. In contrast, the Shrug of God is given in response to more mundane questions: questions that should have a simple, straightforward answer. Don't mistake it for Ascended Fanon
which, while it may come with a shrug from the creator, is quite different: Ascended Fanon
is when the creator accepts, for any reason, the explanations offered by fandom to questions raised by that author's work. The shrug comes when the author refuses to take a stand about either those questions or any possible answer to them.
In other words, if the question is "How does this work?" and the answer is "Beats me," then it's a Hand Wave
. If the question is "What happened?" and the answer is "Beats me", it's the Shrug of God. If the answer is "Magic" then changed later on to "Science", it's Flip Flop of God
When the author insists on quashing
a theory, see Jossed
, which is the opposite. When the author explains but in supplementary material see All There in the Manual
. For those stories that are deliberately ambiguous, see No Ending
and Riddle for the Ages
In lieu of a definitive Word of God
, someone connected to the production may chime in with the Word of Saint Paul
, or anyone with sufficient credibility may offer up the Word of Dante
The inverse of Ascended Fanon
. Compare Noodle Incident
. See also The Walrus Was Paul
, Loose Canon
See also Bellisario's Maxim
and the MST3K Mantra
Not to be confused with Atlas Shrugged
, which, while wordy at times, lets you know what Ayn Rand
thinks of a lot of things in no uncertain terms. In any case, Atlas
was a Titan
Now comes with didactic audio-visual summary!
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- As for the cause of the zombie plague in The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman has said:
"I have ideas [about the cause of the zombie plague]...but it's nothing set in stone because I never plan on writing it. So yes...I do know...kind of."
- Fans will never stop asking about the newly formed multiverse, or when Bart Allen and/or Superboy will come Back from the Dead.
- Of course, the real answer to the Superboy question is "About six months after the Siegel lawsuit is settled."
- And now that both did, that question is settled.
- Devin Grayson, writer of Nightwing #93 where the title character is implied to have been raped by a female cohort during a Heroic BSOD, evaded the question when asked to confirm what happened beyond it being "nonconsensual". This is an irritating example, because the script for the issue does directly say that he was being raped. (This may have something to do with the female cohort in question being suspected by many of being her Author Avatar/Mary Sue.)
- Tom Brevoort has been mum about the plot inconsistencies regarding Mockingbird's return from "the dead" in Secret Invasion. Invasion established that Mockingbird had never really died in the first place, despite the fact that there were at least one or two previous stories that showed her in the afterlife. Brevoort's stance was that so few people remembered those stories to begin with, that it really wasn't worth the effort to try and reconcile the Plot Holes.
- Jim McCann's New Avengers: The Reunion and Hawkeye & Mockingbird partially answered this — the Skrull posing as Mockingbird honestly had no idea that she wasn't Mockingbird, and went as far as to die for the people she cared about, making it not too much of a stretch that the Skrull kept Mockingbird's appearance in the afterlife.
- When it comes to Star Wars, John Jackson Miller, the writer of the Knights of the Old Republic comics, was practically this trope personified throughout the series' run, although it was almost always for the first reason. He refused to confirm various future untwists, one of which was confirmed in a reference book before it got anywhere close to being confirmed in the comic itself. And when asked about "the Rohlan/Demagol thing", namely the theory that "Rohlan" has been Demagol in disguise since issue 14, he said this:
"The Rohlan/Demagol Thing is a fusion jazz act that worked many of the clubs on Mandalore until a dispute over a recording contract broke up the duo. However, their early recordings remain popular and one was recently used as the background music for a series of Holofeed apparel commercials."
- The writers of the Disney Ducks Comic Universe seem adamant against revealing anything about the origins of all these kids running around with no parents (Donald's nephews, Daisy's nieces, Goldie's granddaughter...) Since acting like you're hiding something leads others to believe you have something to hide, fans are left to assume the worst.
- For the most part, at least - Don Rosa introduced both Donald Duck's mother and sister and Scrooge's parents, and Scrooge has two sisters, a brother and a half-brother making regular appearances. His mother got around.
- It should be noted that the said brother and half-brother don't exist in the same continuity as the two sisters. There are different interpretations in the absence of actual canon, even by the current writers.
- Don Rosa can neither confirm nor deny "what happened that night" in The Prisoner of White Agony Creek (Chapter 8B of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck), asserting it's "for each of us duck fans to imagine in our own minds. I have my own idea, but after all, this is a Disney comic!"
- Leaving aside one storyline that everyone seems to be ignoring, The Joker has never had any backstory that was not told by the Joker himself. In The Killing Joke, a backstory is told which initially appears to be definitive, but the Joker later says, "Something like that happened to me. I'm not quite sure what it was. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another. If I'm going to have a past, I'd rather it be multiple choice." His Pre Crisis backstory of having previously been a gang leader called the Red Hood has mostly been maintained (Depending on the Writer), but the backstory of the man who became the Red Hood has never been independently revealed.
- After he took over the Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog comic, Ian Flynn took this attitude with the Word of Gay the previous writer gave for Rotor Walrus, neither confirming nor denying it and eventually calling the whole thing "irrelevant".
- In Giant-Sized X-Men, there's a little blurb on the side of one panel explaining that Scott Summers' eye beams are kept in check by ruby quartz glasses. How does ruby quartz keep them back? Well, they'll tell you when they think of something.
- The ruby quartz thing was established back in the 60's. The doctor that examined Cyclops himself basically said "I don't know why ruby quartz works. It just does."
- When Bone was completed and a fan asked Jeff Smith what the Crown of Horns actually was, Smith basically said that he couldn't give a definitive answer and that the fan would have to figure it out for himself, implying the reason for his secrecy is either the 4th, 8th, or 19th reason.
- Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers ends leaving it ambiguous if Prowl destroyed the data slug or not. Niether of the writers would say if Prowl did or didn't and admitted that they hadn't thought of an answer, choosing to leave it up to the reader to decide. Either choice completely changes both the ending and how Prowl is perceived as a character. Later, Mike Costa would reveal the answer in the Transformers ongoing: Prowl did not destroy the slug.
- Dave Sim refuses to state for certain what's happening in the very ending of Cerebus The Aardvark. Is Cerebus going to Hell like he seems to think or is he just letting his personal guilt get him worried over nothing? The answer is left for the reader to decide. Not only that but it's never explicitly stated whether anyone will find that manuscript that Cerebus wrote...
- Yes it was. Cerebus: "Cerebus just has to remember where he hid it or nobody's going to be reading the New Booke of Cerebus." Dave: "Until two thousand years from now when this part of the Sanctuary is torn down to make room for a shopping mall." The consequences may be ambiguous, but it will be found, and it will be read.
Films — Animated
- In Kung Fu Panda, it's not clear what happened to Tai Lung at the end. Did he die? Was he seriously incapacitated and sent back to prison? Was he teleported to another part of the world? Well, if you listen to the commentary by the directors... they don't know either.
- Ditto for the apparent death of Boss Wolf in Kung Fu Panda 2.
- Frozen: When asked by fans about Queen Elsa's sexual orientation, the film's writer and co-director Jennifer Lee said that it was best left unsaid.
Films — Live-Action
- The Joker in The Dark Knight tells two entirely different stories as to how he got those scars (and started to tell a third), all of which are probably lies. Christopher Nolan not only didn't comment on them, he said Joker has no backstory at all. This is in keeping with the comics.
- The contents of the suitcase from Pulp Fiction are an example. It was originally supposed to be diamonds, but then Tarantino changed his mind and said it's basically supposed to be "whatever seems most valuable to the viewer and can fit in a suitcase". He's regretted putting the yellow glow in the briefcase, because it seems to be a clue to a question that never had an answer.
- Paul Thomas Anderson often responds with these when asked about the meaning of different things in Magnolia, claiming he doesn't remember what he was thinking at the time.
- "If you understood 2001: A Space Odyssey completely, we failed. We wanted to raise more questions than we answered." — Arthur C. Clarke
- Anything by David Lynch. Lynch is so adamant about leaving his work open to interpretation that he won't even explain it to his actors. So, don't bother asking them, either. Although, Naomi Watts did give an insightful comment regarding Mulholland Dr.: something to the effect that when a person is dreaming, they create every person, event, and object in that dream. This is why Lynch fandom obsesses over details such as room decorations. They know that Lynch, with the detail-orientedness of the painter he is, will have a meaning for every character and object in his characters' imaginary worlds, and that he uses these meanings to advance his story in place of a traditional plot.
- Lynch has said that sometimes a fascinating image pops into his mind and he decides to film that, without bothering to figure out first how it might fit the narrative. So he might not even know the meaning of something himself.
- In response to questions of whether or not the Human Project really existed and if they were able to create a cure to the mass infertility after the ending of Children of Men, the staff merely responded that the answer depended wholly on where you lie on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
- The Coen Brothers refuse to answer any questions regarding Barton Fink, and never talk about the film on their own. Bringing it up to them, famously, will usually put them in fits of stifled laughter.
- John Carpenter and Kurt Russell come to the conclusion that some of the issues in The Thing (1982) may be either best left unsolved, or are unsolvable (and that thinking about some of them too hard may drive a person insane, due to there being no knowable solution), during the commentary for the DVD. Carpenter once told a fan that she was supposed to use her imagination and decide an ending for herself. The fan griped, "Oh, I hate that."
- Invoked by Clint Eastwood. He had always intended that the mysterious stranger in High Plains Drifter was the murdered sheriff's brother, but he liked the fan theories about who or what he was so much that he went on to make Pale Rider and deliberately avoid any clues as to the preacher's true identity.
- The entire plot of the French film La Moustache is uncertain, according to the scriptwriter / director. Basically, the main question is whether the main character's reality keeps changing and he's the only one who remembers the way things used to be, or whether he's simply insane, with the second question being which scenes are "real" and which are hallucinations. The writer / director has admitted that he didn't even bother coming up with answers to any of that—he just had an idea and filmed it.
- Tim Allen's character in Galaxy Quest does this for his in-universe TV show.
- Christopher Nolan hasn't had much to say about various interpretations of Inception since its release, but costume designer Jeffrey Kurland and actor Dileep Rao (Yusuf) have both weighed in on their views of the ending. Nolan in general doesn't comment too directly to fan theories and canon. In fact, he's admitted that he's highly amused that people keep constantly asking him questions about the ending even though he has no intention of answering them.
- In the ending of Memento, Was Teddy lying? or telling the truth?. Christopher Nolan has never said either way, and more confusingly, the DVD commentary for the movie actually has three endings, one that says one version is true, another that says another version is true, and a third that does not say either way.
- Total Recall (1990). Are the events in the movie all just part of Quaid's Ego Trip, or is it real? The director has stated that both interpretations of the film fit the facts, and refuses to say which is the truth.
- In the commentary for Zardoz, John Boorman, who produced, directed and wrote this Mind Screw of a movie, admits he has no clue what's going on or what he was thinking (or most likely, ingesting) at different points.
- Between The Muppets Take Manhattan and The Muppets The Henson Company/Muppet Studios refused to comment about whether Kermit and Piggy were actually married at the end of Manhattan. The characters commented about it all the time; they just disagreed. The facts are these:
- The minister, Reverend Dr Cyril Jenkins, is indeed a real minister.
- Kermit, when interviewed afterward, always insisted that they weren't really married; it was just a movie.
- Piggy, when interviewed afterward, would coyly say that Kermit "preferred to keep their privacy".
So it's impossible to tell for sure either way. They could be married, but simply having a real minister doesn't automatically make the marriage valid, even if Piggy had all the documentation set up. Kermit could challenge the marriage under the grounds of false pretense, and given that he was expecting Gonzo to act as the minister, it would almost certainly be successful.
- The Muppets strongly implies that the marriage did go through, but they later split up.
- Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers - the one with all the weird occult stuff - gets even more incomprehensible with its final shot. After Dr. Loomis disappears back into the sanitarium and our heroes drive off, we hear Loomis' scream and see Michael's mask on the floor next to a syringe. Cut to a jack-o-lantern with the flame inside blowing out. Roll credits. Interviews with the writer have revealed that it was the last night of reshoots (after the original ending had tanked with test audiences), they were making things up as they went, and they ran out of time so they just threw a couple of props on the floor and filmed them hoping the audience would assume it signified something mysterious.
- The Wachowskis have refused to discuss any of the more ambiguous moments of The Matrix trilogy (like what's going on with Neo and the Matrix at the Ωend of the third film) because they prefer for the fans to make their own interpretations.
- Star Wars:
- George Lucas officially knows nothing about any of Yoda's backstory or history, despite having crafted elaborate backstories for basically every other character in the series (even ones with less than a minute of screentime) through the Expanded Universe. What's his species? They're officially known as "Yoda's species". Where did they come from? Nobody knows. How did Yoda end up as the Grandmaster of the Jedi Order? Nobody knows. Why is every known member of his species a Jedi? Nobody knows.
- In order to avoid having to tie the Star Wars universe into the real world, no one connected to the franchise has ever given a definitive answer on the human race's planet of origin. We know that humans are the most numerous species in the Star Wars galaxy, and it's been established that they aren't indigenous to most of the planets on which they're the primary species, but where they originally came from is anyone's guess.
- Incidentally, some elements of the original trilogy's world-building (most notably Coruscant) were inspired by Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, where the question of humanity's planet of origin is a mystery in-universe and eventually becomes a plot point.
- Star Trek: In the DVD commentary, director J. J. Abrams really doesn't have an answer as to whether the policeman who pursues young Kirk was meant to be a robot or not.
- Groundhog Day: How long was Phil Connors trapped in the "Groundhog Day" Loop? It depends on who you ask. Bill Murray guesses 10 years (widely thought to be the "correct" answer), while writer/director Harold Ramis guessed 10,000 years.
Live Action TV
- Blue Oyster Cult, per their website FAQ, have a generic answer to "What does — lyric mean?": "BOC's lyrics are open to many interpretations, and this is one of the things that has captured the imaginations of fans over the years...The only person that really knows what a lyric means is the lyric writer. So, there is no answer to this question. It means what you make of it."
- Bobbie Gentry has stated she doesn't know why Billie Joe McCallister jumped off the Tallahassee bridge, the central mystery of her hit single "Ode to Billie Joe."
- Paul Simon's song "Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard" contains the line "What your momma saw/it was against the law". Simon has claimed he has no idea what it was the momma saw, other than it was probably something sexual.
- The straightest answer to the question "What does "American Pie" mean?" that anyone has gotten out of Don McLean is "It means I never have to work again." More seriously, he claims "songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence." and "They’re beyond analysis. They’re poetry."
- Bob Dylan, upon being asked what his songs are about, replied "Some are about three minutes, some are about five minutes".
- DragonForce tends to take this approach to questions about their songs' meanings. Depending on which member you ask, the answer will lie somewhere between "It's more fun if you interpret them for yourself" and "They don't mean anything".
- Tom Lehrer has said that the line in "My Home Town" that he "censors" ("That fellow was no fool/Who taught our Sunday school/And neither was our kindly Parson Brown/...['I guess I'd better leave this line out just to be on the safe side' or 'We're recording tonight so I'll have to leave this line out']/In my home town") did not actually exist; he simply could not think of a line that was funnier than saying that he wasn't allowed to say it. Presumably either Parson Brown or the Sunday school teacher (or both) did something...
- What does WASP's name stand for? In one interview, Blackie Lawless responded "We Ain't Sure, Pal." One of their early singles was released with the words "We Are Sick People" scratched into the innermost part of the vinyl. Which is true? We are still pondering...
- Ric Ocasek of The Cars once said in an interview about his notoriously cryptic lyrics: "I'm not going to destroy your dream...the lyrics mean whatever you want them to mean. And I'll agree with you."
- The Arcade Fire song "Neighborhood #2 (Power Out)", already kind of trippy, ends with the lines "Is it a dream, is it a lie? I think I'll let you decide."
- "Girl" by Beck has a hard to decipher word in between "My" and "Girl" during the chorus. Is it Summer? Sun-eyed? Cyanide? In the lyric book it says "My ... girl".
- A Japanology lecturer on the university of Vienna was asked to translate some J-Pop song lyrics into German for CD-releases in Germany and Austria. Upon asking the Pop-groups in question for an explanation of the intended meaning of the used Te-Form Verbs in the songs (Te-Form Verbs can take on several meanings based on context), he got several Shrugs of God in a row, usually accompanied by something to the effect of "If you say so, that's probably what it means".
- Along the same vein, Gackt refuses to explain what Papa Lapped a Pap Lopped means. His only answer so far has been that English-speakers should understand what it means.
- The meaning of the Eagles' "Hotel California" has remained ambiguous even after multiple band interviews on the subject. At best, the song is usually just said to be about "the 70s."
- Something bout the rock star lifestyle, something about cocaine addiction, something about Satanism. Or live-action roleplaying. Or fad diets.
- "People are always asking me what my lyrics mean. Well I say what any decent poet would say if you dared ask him to analyse his work: if you see it, darling, then it's there."- Freddie Mercury
- Sound Horizon is built upon creating elaborate Rock Operas with complicated Jigsaw Puzzle Plots with ridiculous quantities of multi-lingual wordplay and then watching all the fans try to figure out what in the holy hell it means while refusing to explain any of it. The official statement is that Revo doesn't want to force one interpretation on the audience when Wild Mass Guessing is half the fun of being in the fandom. The fandom's stance is that their brainpain amuses him.
- Despite being the song's writer, Noel Gallagher of Oasis has no idea what "Champagne Supernova" is about. His words:
"I don’t fucking know. But are you telling me, when you’ve got 60,000 people singing it, they don’t know what it means? It means something different to every one of them."
- In his commentary for the Lemon Demon song "Subtle Oddities" Neil Cicierega says, "I think this song is about a haunted house. Someone once said that it was about God. Sure, why not? That makes about as much sense."
- The song "Lurker" by Genesis ends with a riddle. When asked what the answer was in an interview, Tony Banks, who wrote the song, had this to say "I'm afraid to say really that there is no real solution. You can search for your own one if you like. It was a bit of a joke. When I was writing it I honestly didn't really have a specific idea in mind. If you can find out what the answer is, perhaps you can tell me!"
- Devourment released a compilation album titled 1.3.8. back in 2000, and fans have been trying to figure out just what the hell the significance of that number is ever since. Mike Majewski's usual response to the question has generally been something along the lines of "I don't even remember" or "it doesn't mean anything", but more sarcastic answers have been given, namely "one dollar, three tacos, eight hours on the shitter". The most common fan hypothesis is that it's North Texas police code for grave robbery or vandalism, but this has neither been confirmed nor denied by anyone in the band.note
- Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree does this a lot - he won't even be drawn on the origin of the name "Porcupine Tree!" He also refuses to decipher the backing vocal in The Incident, or clarify the story he wrote for the Deadwing album.
- Global Communication did this upfront with their album 76:14. The album is named after its run time, as are all of the individual tracks. The liner notes state:
Use your imagination: Numbers are chosen to identify separate tracks because 'names' tend to bias the listener by pre-defining images, places and feelings. This gives the listener the freedom of imagination to derive whatever he/she wishes from the music.
- Calvin and Hobbes: What is Hobbes' true nature? A magical stuffed animal that comes to life when Calvin is around? A figment of Calvin's imagination? Bill Watterson isn't sure himself.
- In the Tenth Anniversary Collection, Watterson would only state that Hobbes is a comment on the subjective nature of reality; Calvin sees him differently from everyone else.
- This is reportedly the reason Watterson would not allow a stuffed toy Hobbes to be manufactured (that, and his loathing of merchandising). He felt it would answer the question as to whether or not Hobbes was just a stuffed toy.
- Other interviewers have occasionally tried to trap Watterson with a gotcha question highlighting specific instances in the strip in which Hobbes does seem to be a) either completely real or b) either completely imaginary. For example this one where the interviewer asks how Hobbes could tie Calvin to a chair and then be discovered in that state by his father, who is not ordinarily able to see evidence of Hobbes being "alive." Watterson simply answered ambiguously that he liked the intellectual tension created by "two versions of reality that do not mix."
- In the Tenth Anniversary Collection, Watterson states that "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie (like the 'Noodle Incident' I've referred to in several strips) is left to the reader's imagination, where it's sure to be more outrageous."
- Readers will search in vain for any explanation of the rules to Calvin Ball... but that's really no accident. Watterson established clearly that you make up the rules of Calvin Ball as you go.
- Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis says that he has never come up with a definite answer for what the crocodiles' accent ("Hullo, zeeba neighba") is supposed to be.
- He did give an answer to that question. The Crocodiles are speaking "Crocese".
- Kind of undermined by the comic itself, where it is pretty much established that, of all the Crocs we meet, it is only Larry, Bob and a few others who speak like that. Larrys wife, son and parents all speak english without any visible accent.
- Many fans of the Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Eberron frequently ask questions such as "What happened to destroy Cyre and create the Mournland?" no matter how many times such things are said to explicitly be points of Canon Uncertainty And Doubt. The answer is deliberately left out, so DMs can provide their own and easily work those events into their own plotline.
- Additionally, a similar question involving the Planescape campaign setting is one regarding the true nature of Sigil's ruler/guardian, the Lady of Pain. A straight answer has never been given, other than a novel hinting that she has ties to the Greek pantheon of gods. The most direct answer simply states that she was inspired by the title character of Algernon Swinburne's poem "Dolores".
- Incidentally, unlike the Eberron scenario, which it's stated explicitly that it is the DMs call to provide an explanation for the various mysteries, Planescape encouraged DMs to leave such questions regarding the Lady of Pain and various other multiversal engimas deliberately unanswered, to maintain the setting's particular ethos.
- Similarly, the nature and identity of Ravenloft's Dark Powers are usually kept mysterious.
- While some fans reject the 3rd edition Ravenloft products, they did provide a satisfactory answer: the Dark Powers have no canonical true nature, and DMs should do whatever they want with no worries.
- Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games (the creators of GURPS) has been known to answer obscure questions about his games with "Fnord." (A reference to the Illuminatus! trilogy, which has often gotten Shout Outs in SJG products.)
- Given the sensitive nature of the subject matter (religion) in the In Nomine roleplaying game from Steve Jackson Games, many topics are what the Line Editor officially refers to as matters of "Canon Doubt and Uncertainty". Each individual DM is supposed to come up with their own answers to such questions as 'Was Jesus Christ really the Son of God?', and the official game material has never and will never address the issue directly.
- Warhammer 40,000: So, what's up with the two missing Primarchs? Word of God is, of course, "No comment."
- Also, who the hell is Cypher and what is he up to?
- This is essentially Games Workshop's company policy about canon.
- Perhaps as a reaction to the increasingly unwieldy Metaplot of its predecessor, the New World of Darkness loves this, repeatedly emphasizing the Storyteller's opinion as the ultimate arbiter of what is canon and not.
- One noted example in the New Orleans: City of the Damned supplement is that Donovan, the Prince's Sheriff, is concealing his identity and that it would be disastrous if his true identity were made known. About the only information the book gives about his past is that he was Embraced in 1865.
- John Patrick Shanley won't reveal whether, in his play Doubt, the priest molested the children or not. The point of the play is the investigation. He has, however, noted that he has decided on an answer and told the actors playing Father Flynn, although nobody else.
- W. S. Gilbert, when asked about whether or not Jack Point is dead (the libretto says that he "falls insensible") at the end of The Yeomen of the Guard, said: "The fate of Jack Point is in the hands of the audience, who may please themselves whether he lives or dies." (However, he was also reported as having said "Jack Point should die" when asked if it was all right to treat Point as dead.)
- Samuel Beckett, when asked what, exactly, Waiting for Godot even meant responded "What do you think?" And then, on being given the interviewer's analysis, "Hmmm, interesting." And that is all.
- Beckett did, however, deny a persistent piece of Fanon that persists in studies of the play. "If I meant Godot to be God, I would have simply called him God." Though, to complicate matters, at another point he did claim that his subconscious does things without him at times. All in all, "If I knew who Godot was, I would have said so in the play."
- Henrik Ibsen's play Ghosts ends with one main character deciding whether or not to kill her son. Ibsen refused to state what she chose, saying it was too important of a question.
- A lot of people have asked Stephen Sondheim what the giant's wife from the second act of Into the Woods represents in real life (global warming, AIDS, etc.). Sondheim's response: "To James [Lapine] and me, it is a giant. Enough said."
- What is The Secret of Monkey Island©? answer: "Look behind you, a three-headed monkey!"
- "Only LeChuck knows. And he's an evil insane nightmarish murderous revenge-obsessed undead horror, so good luck getting an honest answer out of him."
- This one was given a canonical answer in Escape from Monkey Island, which established that the island contains a giant robot monkey, but this sequel was created by a different production team to the one that set the question. Original creator Ron Gilbert has his own answer, but remains disinclined to tell anyone.
- Probably the intended original answer was that Monkey Island contains a portal to the underworld (under a giant monkey head), which Guybrush discovers near the end, and is pretty staggering as secrets go. It just wasn't positively identified as such in-game.
- "Team Silent, Team Silent, which one of the endings to Silent Hill is canon?" "They're all canon." "Nyoro~n."
- Word of God regarding Silent Hill 2's canon ending is "None of them are." The creator intended for players to choose whichever ending carried the greatest emotional impact and to consider it as canon for themselves.
- "Please, no more. It is 9:27pm, I'm trying to work on Banjo and you keep asking me questions about supporting characters in games I designed nearly 15 years ago."
- The Final Fantasy XI dev team is frustratingly notorious for this. Every interview they have will always have at least one question with an ambiguous answer that's as vague as possible. Always. It's not so bad to want your MMO to have some mysteries, but trying to have your game as Guide Dang It as possible with things that hundreds of thousands of players haven't figured out for 4+ years is something else entirely.
- The "you wish it was only Nintendo Hard" boss Absolute Virtue is featured in a developer-made video showing unimaginably vague "hints" for beating it. Every single frame of the video has been scrutinized and subjected to dizzying heights of Wild Mass Guessing. To this day, nobody knows what the developers were trying to convey.
- It has been figured out that the developers were trying to show that matching AV's two hours with your own locks them. He remains unbeatable because the video didn't show/was unclear on how to stop him from spamming meteor and killing everyone once his health drops below a certain point.
- When asked what the pop condition was for Almighty Apkallu (a monster who has only ever been seen a handful of times) they initially shrugged saying that they didn't remember that monster. Later they responded with the vague hints of "First of all, luck plays a big role in whether he appears or not" and "He doesn't like being left alone, and will wander off if no one is around to keep him company."
- When asked how Kirby got his name, Masahiro Sakurai says he doesn't remember.
- Bungie Studios, the creators of Halo and Marathon, deliberately dodge many questions by the fandom, because they prefer to let the fans answer the questions and come up with the theories themselves.
- What happened 10 years ago, during the War? Why did the scientists come to the island? And what the hell is Balrog? These are just a few of the questions that all Cave Story fans wish to have answers to. Yet all Pixel-san says is "I leave it to the player's imagination".
- On an interview about the Wii version though, he answered one of the questions: Balrog's design was based on soap.
- Much like in the Cave Story example, the setting of Touhou is basically made of this trope. The creator has repeatedly mentioned he wants people to fill in the blanks themselves. Heck, even the manuals are, in universe, written by Unreliable Narrators who write based on hearsay, so not even the official books have much honest, set in stone Word of God. Of course, this only spurs the fans further.
- In Knights of the Old Republic 2, it's strongly hinted at that Kreia is Arren Kae, Brianna's mother. If this is news to anyone, check out Scorchy's post here. Still, the writer Chris Avellone's response to a question on this was "Can't comment, but good catch. Sorry."
- Anyone that's read MCAs Fallout Bibles would recognise "good catch" as his standard response to a coincidence or minor detail pointed out by a fan that he actually likes the implications of.
- In the RPG Tales of the Abyss this is how the creators reacted to the question of whether the main character, Luke, survives or not. Cue endless debates on the subject.
- Every single time Testuya Nomura is asked about when Kingdom Hearts 3 will be announced, it usually results in this. Like in this interview concerning Birth By Sleep:
Interviewer: Do you think people will want to replay the first title after clearing this one?
Nomura: Hmmm, I think there are a lot of puzzling elements, so maybe they'll want to play the next game... and there'll be a secret movie too.
Interviewer: The next game!? Do you mean "III"!?
Nomura: The next game will be the next game (laughs)
- And on the subject of Kingdom Hearts, according to the Ultimania, Roxas "may or may not" have had Ventus's heart.
- Half-Life's writer, Marc Laidlaw, remains very careful not to make any crucial statements about some of the fuzzier parts of the series' continuity. He does not only hold this attitude towards the Gearbox expansions, but also towards Valve's games as well.
- The Freespace series was never completed, and Volition have said perhaps two things about the story and where it was going to go, which actually raised more questions than they answered. Cue the Epileptic Trees.
- In a much-anticipated 2011 interview with the fanbase (more than 10 years after the last game was released), lead writer Jason Scott did reveal a few details about what was planned for the future games. However, he did so in such a vague manner that he simply fuelled further speculation.
- In regards to whether or not Adell's ears are pointed like other demons, the creators of Disgaea responded only that "there's nothing special about them." Nobody's quite sure if they meant that they're normal human ears or normal demon ears.
- For several years, fans have always asked Valve how the entire Zombie Apocalypse started for the Left 4 Dead series, but an answer has yet to be produced since Valve wants fans to come up with their own theories instead of always being spoon fed information.
- Fans are also demanding to know what happens to the Left 4 Dead 2 survivors after they are saved by the military at the end of The Parish campaign since the military was killing carriers of the virus and it was confirmed that the survivors are also carriers. Valve has yet to say anything on the subject.
- An interview with one of the primary writers of Beyond Good & Evil gave fans an opportunity to ask their many tickling questions about the game. One, with regard to character names, was "What does 'Double H' stand for?" Answer? They don't know. It probably comes from his initials... maybe.
- The EverQuest II developers are infamous for doing this. So much so, that not giving a straight answer one way or another has frustrated many a customer into cancelling their accounts because of the sheer unpredictability of where the game was heading in terms of both story and gameplay mechanics.
- At the end of Grand Theft Auto III, Silent Protagonist Claude has just rescued his annoying and motormouthed girlfriend Maria. The screen fades to the credits-on-black but Maria keeps on talking, and a single gunshot is heard, and she quits talking. Rockstar's official response to fan questions about what actually happened is "certainly gun shots were fired but nobody is sure as to exactly what happened."
- The character Cranky Kong in the Donkey Kong Country series. While no one questions that he's supposed to be the original Donkey Kong, Rare has flip-flopped on the issue on whether he's Donkey Kong's father or grandfather (meaning either modern DK is Donkey Kong Junior or his son). While more sources say grandfather, they did try to remain consistent during the production of Donkey Kong 64, leading the writers to state on their website to ignore instances of their previous mistake. Since this was the last Donkey Kong game they developed, this attempt at Word of God has gone unnoticed. (There's also the argument that Rare themselves was never meant to be taken seriously, as they have a history of making jokes about these sorts of questions.)
- Even more confusing, Retro Studies has implied at least once that THEIR Cranky Kong might be Rare's Donkey Kong.
- The first Rune Factory game's ending is the best example. After saving the day it reveals that the merchant Ivan is actually a relative of the king who was searching for his long lost brother which would be you. In an interview it's actually stated that both characters are related to the king, but it never says if they're related to one another. It still just strongly hints too it.
- Other examples from the same interview is that Iris is not a vampire and probably not a purebred of whatever her species then is, No one knows where the Saint-Coquilles money comes from, and Sharron is "probably not human." (Which is no more information than what's heavily implied in the game itself)
- Valve Software's refusal to reveal the gender of the Pyro in Team Fortress 2 has become a Running Gag in both the fandom and the game itself.
Scout: He's not here, is she?
- Mortis Ghost, OFF's creator, prefers to let everyone come up with their own explanations to whatever just happened in the game rather than say so himself. Considering what sort of game we're talking about, that's a lot of speculation to be done.
- For nearly a decade, fans and video game journalists alike have been begging Square Enix for a confirmed release date on Versus XIII in their Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy saga, helmed by FF XIII. Square pulled a Valve by giving extremely vague answers that never addressed the questions, and even after very recently making clear with its trailer that Versus XIII is now Final Fantasy XV, still have yet to give a proper release date.
- The Halloween Hack
- There were several hints in the game that Varik was supposed to be (a future?) Ness. The game calls you "Giygas slayer" at times, and people mistake you for Ness a lot. Radiation said that it just started with him "wanting to look lazy" by not editing Ness's death sprite, but then decided to keep going, since Ness and Varik are both blank, mute heroes. He said it's up to you to decide if they really are the same person.
- There was also hints that Varik's intrusion upon Dr. Andonuts' Magicant was corrupting it, since there were places and people only Varik/Ness would remember. Radiation also said this just sort of happened.
- This is the ultimate reaction towards Poison's Ambiguous Gender in Final Fight; she started out as a MtF transsexual in Japan, became a natural woman in the early Americanised games, and finally the creators shrugging their shoulders as to whether she is (and, if so, whether she's pre- or post-gender reassignment surgery) or isn't a transwoman.
- ATMOS, developers of Escape Velocity: Nova, would often respond to questions regarding some of the more mysterious elements of the game universe with a simple "*Cryptic grin*".
- To this day, Capcom refuses to give a straight answer on which ending in Resident Evil is close to canon and only said "everyone made it out alive". The game lets you only play as one of two characters and both characters have their own partner characters. However, your character will never meet the partner of the other character and they are never addressed in the scenario. This implies that the missing character is dead, yet Word of God says everyone made it out.
- Are Ado and Adeleine from the Kirby series the same person? Even the Japanese-only official 20th-anniversary guidebook only says they probably are, with Ado just being a nickname, even though it clears up the similarly long-standing issue of Ado's Ambiguous Gender — she's a girl, just like in the non-canon manga.
- Fallout 3's Liberty Prime bears many resemblances in name, appearance, and mannerisms to Optimus Prime, if the latter were infused with high-concentration Eagle Land. The developers said no reference was intended, but left the door open that such a reference could have been made subconsciously.
- According to KobaBeach, Luigi farts each time he double jumps with the Athletic Peach powerup in Something Else. yogui responded that it's up to the player to decide whether it is or not.
- The writer of Umineko: When They Cry, Ryukishi07, has made it clear that he will never reveal what really happened on the real Rokkenjima. Though he has said that he knows what really happened (fitting with reason 5 above), it also fits with one of the themes of the series, namely about truth (and the subjectivity of it) which says that the readers has to figure it out themselves and create their own truth. He's mentioned that some people on the internet have actually managed to figure out what happened.
- Tom Siddell of Gunnerkrigg Court is usually very helpful about providing answers, no matter how pointless or obscure. But when future plot points or very specific questions about numbers or lengths of time come up, Mr. Siddell proves a master of answering questions without actually answering the questions.
- T Campbell, creator of Penny and Aggie, is as notorious as Tom for answers like these, although usually responding to fans who should have known better.
- He's refused to reveal whether the Herman's Head storyline "20 2020 Pennies" was a dream or an actual plane of existence — which wouldn't be so bad, except that he did say the versions of Penny and Aggie featured there were bisexual and lesbian, respectively.
- Following the comic's Maybe Ever After ending, Campbell has refused to say whether the title characters will permanently get back together. Indeed, he claims he hasn't let himself decide, as that was never the main point of the series.
- Maritza Campos of College Roomies From Hell is famous for answering fan questions with a smile and a "Maaaybe..."
- Interestingly, Dave of Bob and George rarely answers questions about his own comic, more likely, someone on the BnG forum gets there first, leading to a huge discussion on the meaning of life, which Dave leaves alone (in most cases).
- Any questions about plotholes are actually taboo in the BnG community.
- That's because there are no plotholes. Even the ones you think you see, even the ones you know you see, are not plotholes.
- City of Reality's author has deliberately left the ages of his Kid Heroes ambiguous, to avoid writing himself into any Plot Holes or Relationship Writing Fumbles.
- Gaming Guardians creator Graveyard Greg often replied to such questions with his signature sinister laugh: Heh heh heh.
- Last Res0rt runs into a lot of this; part of it is that since Rachel works a lot of stuff in advance, she KNOWS what's going to come out a few months later (and will refuse to comment), and part of is that early on, Rachel often said too MUCH in the forums or elsewhere, leading to the ruling that "If it's not in the comics or at least on the main website itself, it ain't canon. Don't trust it."
- Since sex is never actually depicted in Out There, Monroe states in his blog that it's up to the reader to decide how far things go.
What I’ve tried to do with Out There is have it both ways. Whichever way you think it oughta be, you win. If you think that Miriam and Chuck should have had sex, and Araceli and Rod should have had sex, and Sherry and Steven must have had sex, then okay—they had sex. Everyone who you think should have had sex with whoever they should have had sex with, did. You just didn’t see it. If, on the other hand, it makes you happier to think that Miriam and Chuck made out a lot but stopped before things got too out of hand, then that’s cool too—there’s nothing in the strip that proves otherwise. Winners everywhere.
- In A Loonatic's Tale, Rick and Becky have so much material prepared that they can answer almost any question you have about the series. Unfortunately, so much of the material will be important to the plot of a later story (often one that they won't even get to start working on for years), that the question isn't can they answer your particular question, but will they.
- The author of I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space has explained that humans, including her, cannot understand the sixth sense provided by the aliens' antennae.
- Chris Hastings, author of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has explained that he doesn't know how The Robster (a tricky lobster man) puts his suit on over his claws.
- The Dreadful Christmas Special, in which Kit kills the grinch with an overdose of cheer, is confirmed as canon on the author's twitter. He does not know when or where it happens however.
- Andrew Hussie is usually ready to answer questions about specific events within Homestuck, but there are several subjects which he simply doesn't care enough about to resolve. The details of the dead members of The Felt is the most persistently shrugged line of questioning. (He eventually answered it once they appeared in the story).
- Some things previously shrugged:
- Troll anatomy (usually questions about this are answered with jokes, or pointing out that the asker is asking about the genitalia of 13 year olds).
- How Troll sex works ("Do they vomit their genetic material?" "Sure, that sounds weird enough").
- Whether any given character is good or evil.
- The nature of Skaia.
- So far, the author of Drowtales has refused to answer any questions about the identity of the father of Mel'arnach and Kel'noz Val'Sarghress. This has led to lots of speculation among fans about who he might be, since the last time a question of parentage was met with a Shrug Of God the eventually revealed answer surprised everyone.
- He's also stated that he doesn't think it matters if Shimi'lande and Vala'drielle are still sisters, as was stated in early character material.
- Sunstone being hosted on Deviant Art has a comment section, which is a perfect place to seek informed and detailed answers to your questions, up to and including how much money are in the character's bank accounts. But certain questions?
"What is Anne's natural hair colour?"
- None of the editors on Orion's Arm will ever answer certain questions about certain setting elements. Are the Dawn Hunters real? Why did the previous galactic empires all up and disappear? "The last—" What did they find at the Hedrile? Where, exactly, does the Fargate lead? Which of the higher Archailects actually exist? Is the universe just another Bottle Universe? Are the Amalgamation Terragen or Xeno? This is in keeping with the setting; since certain things, particularly those involving the Archailects themselves, are deemed to be ultimately impossible to explain in terms that we mere humans can grasp with our tiny organic brains.
- The official policy of The Salvation War is that, as far as possible, everything that happens has some kind of rational, scientific explanation. In some cases, the divergence between the demands of mythology and what is scientifically plausible is so great that it cannot be bridged. To get around this (and to give the Angels and Daemons some hope of surviving the massed human firepower being thrown at them), it is stipulated that the laws of physics on Earth and in Heaven/Hell are slightly different. This results in the characters saying they have no idea why this thing is happening, so they're just going to accept that it does for now. This is, of course, the scientific method at work "we don't understand it but we'll study it until we do." Meanwhile, the engineering method of finding an empirical solution by trial and error is used to create a work-around. In some cases, these shrugs are actually puzzles that are solved later in the story line.
- Many of the senior writers and editors of the SCP Foundation never give straight answers about the details and inner workings of the Foundation and the SCPs it contains. The stock reply to lore questions usually is to figure it out for yourself. Or that there is no canon:
At the end of the day, people can call it canon, non-cannon, brilliant, and stupid, and be right and wrong all at the same time. When dealing with the SCP, you have to understand that we took Canon out behind the barn and shot it in the head a long, long time ago.
- Burnie Burns, the creator and writer of Red vs. Blue, is generally willing to clarify anything about the series. Ask him about Tex, though, and he instantly shuts up. He also enjoys leaving smaller plot threads hanging for the wild mass guessers in the forums.
- Lanzer, admin of Gaia Online, does this a lot in the weekly open interview sessions.
- afroakuma seems to do this with roughly half the questions he gets in the Vote Up A Campaign Setting discussion threads. More often than not, he appears to do it For the Evulz; certain questions have been noted by him to be unanswerable for valid(ish) reasons, though.