->''"The truth about stories is that's all we are."''
-->-- '''Tom King''', novelist

''Things happen because the plot says they should.''

All fictional realities have this underlying principle to one degree or another. It is the reason PlotTechnology and PlotArmor work. It's why TheGoodGuysAlwaysWin in the end, even though [[YoungestChildWins many individuals may try and fail and die gruesomely]] before [[UnderdogsNeverLose the protagonist comes along]]. It's why it seems like [[FinaglesLaw the world's out to get the protagonist]], it's why the reasonable explanation is almost never true, it's why someone can be GenreSavvy or WrongGenreSavvy, why a trope can be {{invoked|Trope}}, why a MillionToOneChance crops up nine times out of ten and why it's never a good idea to [[TemptingFate Tempt Fate]]. Reality itself is mutable before the will of the plot. In stories where this is strong, {{tropes}} may as well be laws of physics.

Another way to look at it is that amazing things don't happen to the main characters because they're the main characters -- rather, [[AnthropicPrinciple they're the main characters because amazing things happen to them]]. If they weren't remarkable people with remarkable feats and tales to their name, there wouldn't be a story about them and you wouldn't be hearing it in the first place.

Or, an even shorter way to look at it, the reason something happens is that the story is better if that something happens (it wouldn't be much of a story without it).

Alternatively alternatively, think of the principle laid out in Creator/TerryPratchett's ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' novels, in which this phenomenon is not only an explicit physical law but has been codified, studied, tested, found to be an in-universe element ("narrativium") and may be the local equivalent of the strong nuclear force, although the term Narrative Causality is older than that.

Warning: This law may not apply if you've found a missing [[ShaggyDogStory shaggy]] [[ShootTheShaggyDog dog]].

See also: ThePlotDemandedThisIndex, TheChrisCarterEffect, WatsonianVersusDoylist


''Due to the omnipresence of this trope, please limit examples to ''in-universe'' references or {{Lampshade Hanging}}s of the principle.''


[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* The BiggerBad of ''Manga/MedakaBox'' [[spoiler:Ajimu]] is fully aware that the narrative causality of shounen manga is in effect, and avoids directly fighting TheHero Medaka because of it. If the BiggerBad stepped down to BigBad, her loss would be inevitable. [[spoiler:So the BiggerBad arranges a falling out between Medaka and her SupportingProtagonist Zenkichi which leads to Zenkichi's FaceHeelTurn. Since he's the other main character, he's the only one who could conceivably defeat Medaka. Ajimu even believes Zenkichi will win because ''he's more heroic than Medaka'' because Medaka apparently murdered someone in the past.]]
** Well that and the fact that Medaka [[TookALevelInJerkass has become somewhat of a jerk]] also takes away from her ''heroic'' qualities.
** Zenkichi ends up acquiring the Skill "Devil-style", which [[spoiler:''nullifies'' Narrative Causality. Things like ContrivedCoincidence, LongLostRelative, CrashIntoHello, etc. won't happen to him. Note that this also includes beneficial examples, like PlotArmor or coming up with a last-minute plan; this was specifically requested by Zenkichi since he wanted to challenge Medaka with no interference. Ajimu outright calls it a power that would make any traditional writer recoil in horror.]]
* In one story from ''Anime/MazingerZ'', ButtMonkey Boss reassures his friends -Nuke and Mucha-, as facing a dire situation, telling that they will not die because they are the PluckyComicRelief characters, and joke characters never die.
* A discussion of this idea bookended a two-part episode of ''LightNovel/HaruhiSuzumiya''. Just because you're in a setting that's perfect for a murder mystery, [[WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong doesn't mean one is going to happen,]] [[TemptingFate right?]]
* Played with in ''Anime/PrincessTutu''. [[spoiler: Fakir]] is (apparently) capable of RewritingReality, but it's never quite clear if he's making things happen by writing them down, just writing down what would have happened anyway, or a little bit of both.
* At one point in ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann'', the chance of one particular mission in the show was stated by[[spoiler: Lord Genome]] to be precisely "0%, but I can see theoretical calculations [[NeverTellMeTheOdds don't mean anything to you people]]."

* Briefly discussed in the first issue of Franchise/TheDCU CrisisCrossover ''Comicbook/FinalCrisis.'' One Monitor says to another, "Behold: we monitors who were faceless once... We all have names now, and stories. There are heroes and villains... secrets and lovers." Translation: Nothing happened to us as long as they didn't write us into the stories. Now we're in them, and all hell is breaking loose.
* In [[Franchise/JusticeLeagueOfAmerica JLA]]: Earth-2, Creator/GrantMorrison's Comicbook/PostCrisis reimagining of the DC Universe's MirrorUniverse (Earth-3), the twist was that even narrative causality was inverted, so that all good deeds were doomed to failure in the mirror universe (just as evil was doomed to ultimate failure in the regular DCU).
** In many cases it came down to character motivations. In the evil universe, humans would toady up to any power that came along whether it was good or evil and would continue to be corrupt and self-serving. In the good universe, Owlman discovered his alternate counterpart's father was dead and found he couldn't keep fighting because there was no one left to hurt.
** A sequel in the main JLA series, Kurt Busiek's "Syndicate Rules", had the mirror universe supervillains realizing that the narrative causality law had failed, giving them a chance to win in their alternates' world. Of course the heroes, once they quickly figured it out, went on the attack themselves in the mirror universe.
** In another sequel, Owlman flat out urges his teammates to leave the Justice League alone, as he realizes they'll ''never'' be able to defeat them due to outside forces.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Marvel 1602}}'', [[ComicBook/FantasticFour Reed Richards]] attempts to formulate this theory. "Benjamin Grimm won't be changed back into a man, since he is much more interesting as a monster."
* Morpheus in ''ComicBook/TheSandman'', as AnthropomorphicPersonification of dreams and storytelling, is obviously aware of it, although perhaps more in an academic sense than anything else.
** His brother Destiny, on the other hand, invites people over to his place for no reason other than the story (that is, [[TomeOfFate THE story]]) requires them to be in his realm at that particular point in time. The invitation might be expressed as "Destiny requires your presence." Literally.
* In Monica's series Smudge (Cascão), the title character asks why he's been kidnapped and the answer is "Because of the hero of this comic book. If I kidnapped Robertinho or other, there would be no fun.".
* In ''Harry Kipling (Deceased)'', the return of the gods has turned science into a mere suggestion; the ''mythic'' ideas are the ones that actually work.
* SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker believes that life is basically set up to be one big cruel joke. One of the reasons he's a villain is that he wants everyone else to believe this too. In ''ComicBook/DeathOfTheFamily'', Bruce privately admits to Alfred that the reason he never tried to kill the Joker is because he also believes his life follows a narrative, with Gotham City itself as the BigBad. Killing Joker would only force Gotham to send someone worse to challenge Batman.
* ''ComicBook/LokiAgentOfAsgard'' makes use of this theory. It's Loki's prime motivator, since as long as those stories of all the evil and cruelty past Loki inflicted in the past exist, Loki will be drawn back to them, and to pointless self-defeating schemes, which Loki currently hates, so Loki does work for the All-Mother in return for the erasure of those stories. In the first issue, Loki erases all the knowledge the Avengers have on Loki as part of this plan.
** However, the erasure of these stories causes "gaps" in the narrative to appear, something a time-traveller could take advantage of. Which is exactly what the BigBad does, noting a sword Loki wields, and then going back in time to make sure it's created.
** One issue of the series reveals that Doctor Doom subscribes to this theory as well, in his own way. He sees himself as being not just a man, or [[ActuallyADoombot an army of robots containing his essence]], but the very ''story'' of Doom. And should it someday end, then Doom claims it would make his story "better" than Loki's.
** The seeds for this go back to JMS's run on ''Thor'' where he used the "Human memory keeps gods alive" idea to revive the character. After him Gillen's ''Journey into Mystery'' run with it and defined so that we got this trope not GodsNeedPrayerBadly, when he let Loki rewrite Cul by forging his tale, then more recently Loki's ''ComicBook/AgentOfAsgard'' has been all about him trying to rewrite his own story to escape his past as the God of Evil, while the BigBad [[spoiler: his evil future self]] tries to ensure that it comes about. At the end of ''Agent of Asgard'', he then faced down Those-Who-Sit-Above-In-Shadow, previously established during the Ragnarok arc as being behind the constant cycle of death and rebirth, feeding off it, before Thor ultimately saw behind the curtain and destroyed their control. They tried their tricks on Loki, who effectively talked them into submission, having become the God of Stories, and promptly decided to sit out ''ComicBook/SecretWars2015'' since there were already plenty of Loki's on Battleworld and took a shortcut to the post ''Secret Wars'' multiverse. We could say that Marvel's cosmology got terribly meta in the last decade.

[[folder: Fan Works]]
* ''{{Austraeoh}}'': At one point in ''Eljunbyro'', Bellesmith and Pilate discuss the possibility that fate/destiny is actively protecting Rainbow Dash from death.
* ''Fanfic/ChildOfTheStorm'' seems to run on copious amounts of this... maybe. Harry, for instance, has a ''ta'veren'' like effect on those around him, [[MagneticHero drawing in allies of all sorts]], implied to be an inherent quality. Then, chapter 48 reveals that it was a probability warping blessing put on him by his godmother, Wanda Maximoff, at the behest of Doctor Stephen Strange, who's pretty much behind everything, including the vast and intricate number of connections in the nascent superhero community. That's right, he's artificially ''creating'' a Theory of Narrative Causality. Of course, since WordOfGod has tacitly admitted that he's the closest thing to an AuthorAvatar in the fic, it all gets horribly and confusingly meta.
** It also brutally subverts several of the expected tropes. [[RealityEnsues Charging into battle in a righteous rage, wreathed in power, is not a good idea when you are severely outnumbered]], a GlassCannon and [[spoiler: chiefly fighting someone much experienced and much more skilled, with a HealingFactor.]]
* ''FanFic/ShinjiAndWarhammer40K'': Subverted. After losing the ability to pilot his [[HumongousMecha Eva]] and spending the Javaal arc [[TookALevelInBadass training his body and mind]] to try to get it back, Shinji returns in chapter 33 to find that, contrary to the Theory, he is able to pilot the Eva, BARELY, and can't even use the AT-Field. Feeling pretty annoyed he points out that, according to story conventions, he should have got stronger.
* The Hunter seems to be aware of this in ''Fanfic/WithStringsAttached'', and that he's a secondary character; he talks several times about how his participation in the story of the four will not be very long.
* ''Fanfic/UninvitedGuests'' has the characters attempting to discern what the plot wants them to do. Aizen even ''weaponizes'' it in order to give himself and his minions PlotArmor.
* Kyon, in Fanfic/TheEmiyaClan, can basically contrive this on the spot. His EX ranked Common Sense give him full knowledge of ''all'' possible outcomes for a certain situation. If he Lampshades a certain one, chances are almost exact that it will happen.

[[folder:Films -- Live Action]]
* Explicitly referenced in the introduction to ''Film/NannyMcPhee'', where the opening narration states "If the [mother's] chair was not empty, we would not have a story."
* This is subverted in ''Film/GalaxyQuest'', where one of the characters was a guest star who played a RedShirt in the original program. He repeatedly insists that he's "expendable", and could get killed at any moment (his character [[NominalImportance never even had a last name]]). Ironically, he provides a role of PluckyComicRelief (another character even suggests to him this might be the case), and in the epilogue, is added to the show's revival as a full-time character [[spoiler: with an actual last name!]] Near the end of the film, [[spoiler: when a disguised alien goes on a shooting spree, this character is the only one that ''doesn't'' get shot.]]
* The GenreSavvy protagonist in ''Film/LastActionHero'' tries to exploit the rules of the action-movie universe he's [[TrappedInTVLand trapped in]] to his advantage, playing chicken with the bad guy's car ''on his bicycle''. [[spoiler:Just in time, he realizes he's the PluckyComicRelief, not the [[{{Badass}} hero]], and swerves out of the way.]]
** One of the villains kills the manager of a convenience store and expects the police to arrive immediately. When they do not, he is puzzled.
* In ''Film/{{Enchanted}}'', the way Giselle seems to teleport from place to place during her musical numbers (not to mention the [[ThatRemindsMeOfASong infectious singing]] or SpontaneousChoreography of said numbers); makes elaborate and beautiful dresses in no time at all, out of curtains and blankets; and somehow manages to [[spoiler:climb up the side of a skyscraper and onto the roof to save Robert from Narissa, when there is no apparent way for her to have climbed up there]]. Really, anything that Giselle does that makes little sense outside of an animated feature.
* Film/AustinPowers' father irritatedly lectures a {{mook|s}} about to attack him that he's an obvious RedShirt who doesn't even have a name tag, and should just lie down right now. He complies.
* ''Film/RobinHoodMenInTights'': After losing an archery contest against a master archer, Robin double-checks the script, confirming he's "not supposed to lose."
* ''Film/TheCabinInTheWoods'' is basically an explanation for ''why'' Narrative Causality exists, at least in horror movies: [[spoiler:all the tropes and cliches of horror movies are actually part of an elaborate ritual needed to keep some {{Eldritch Abomination}}s happy, and there's a massive conspiracy manipulating people into fulfilling those ritual cliches]].
* ''Franchise/TheMatrix'' franchise:
** ''Film/TheMatrixReloaded'' constantly notes this trope. The Merovingian openly mocks the heroes for their not knowing why they came to see him beyond the Oracle telling them to meet with him, Morpheus concludes that their disastrous meeting with the Merovingian occurred exactly as it should have gone because they are still alive, and the Keymaker knows about all the failsafes guarding the door [[spoiler:to the Architect]] because "I know, because I must know. It's the reason I'm here. Same reason we're all here."
** ''Film/TheMatrixRevolutions'' subverts this trope when Trinity threatens to shoot the Merovingian instead of accepting another errand.
* In ''Film/SouthlandTales'', the psychic Krysta Now has written a prophecy of future events in the form of a screenplay, ''The Power'', which, as it goes on, begins to conform to the plot of the film itself until some characters are essentially acting it out live. Hence, the plot of ''Southland Tales'' happens because the characters have read the script (to ''The Power'') and acted accordingly. This rather important plot point was glossed over by the theatrical cut of the film, ironically.
* In ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'', toons are "supposed to make people laugh", as Roger puts it, and are often unable to do certain things unless there's a proper comedic setup:
** When Roger and Eddie get handcuffed together without keys, Eddie ends up dragging Roger around, avoiding Judge Doom's goons all the while. When he finally gets his hands on a hacksaw, Roger casually slips his hand out of the cuffs, much to Eddie's annoyance:
--->'''Eddie:''' You mean you could have taken that cuff off at ''any time?''\\
'''Roger:''' Not ''any'' time! Only when it was funny.
** Judge Doom exploits this to find Roger's hiding place by tapping out "Shave and a Haircut", but leaving out the last two notes to drive Roger crazy and bust out of the wall to finish the song.
** Eddie also exploits this minutes later, using the old "DuckSeasonRabbitSeason" joke to get Roger to drink a shot of hard liquor, causing him to explode and give them a means of escape.
* ''Film/{{Machete}}'': In the climactic one-on-one fight between [[InvincibleHero Machete]] and [[BigBad Torrez]], the latter of course momentarily gets the upper hand for the sake of tension. Two worried supporting characters discuss whether they should intervene, before concluding that it's simply impossible for Machete to lose, because he's, well, Machete. Cue HeroicSecondWind and Machete impaling the villain.

* Naturally, the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' series is full of examples of how the theory manifests:
** If three brothers set out on a quest individually, and it claims the lives of the first two brothers, [[YoungestChildWins it is impossible for the third brother to fail]].
** A [[MillionToOneChance one-in-a-million chance]] crops up nine times out of ten. (There's a point in one of the video games where to complete a task, you have to determine, and then implement, the right set of circumstances that will give you ''exactly'' a one-in-a-million chance of success. Based on the ''Guards! Guards!'' example below.)
** In the ''Science of Discworld'' books, the wizards of Unseen University examine "Roundworld" (i.e. Earth) and are surprised to learn that it contains no Narrativium -- this being scientifically impossible (by Discworld standards).
** [[DoubleSubversion Doubly subverted]] in ''Discworld/GuardsGuards'' when Nobby and Colon get all GenreSavvy and try to adjust the odds such that they achieve a MillionToOneChance to hit a dragon's male "voonerables". It doesn't work, but this isn't because of the theory failing- it turns out [[spoiler:the dragon was a she, so they had a 0% chance all along]]. They promptly survive the ensuing explosion, the odds of which were exactly a million to one.
** Still in ''Discworld/GuardsGuards'', Vimes is about to be arrested. The several armed men who come to do so immediately notice that he is a) unarmed and b) smiling. They conclude he's very bad news and refuse to take him, assuming he'd start to [[ChandelierSwing swing on the chandeliers]] and break things at any moment. Luckily for them, he agrees to come along quietly.
** Lady Lilith de Tempscire, the BigBad from ''Discworld/WitchesAbroad'', tries to rule a whole city-state according to the laws of fairy tales -- such as "[[HappinessIsMandatory all toymakers must whistle while they work and tell stories to children, on punishment of death]]." With [[WrongGenreSavvy herself as the good fairy godmother]]. Naturally her furiously cynical sister Esmerelda (Granny Weatherwax) is [[TheReasonYouSuckSpeech quick to notice the flaw in this thinking]], and sets about saving people from their happy endings.
** For exploiting Narrative Causality, no one tops the Silver Horde, Cohen the Barbarian's [[BadassGrandpa well-armed, battle-experienced (if geriatric) warriors]], who simply live by "The Code". It culminates with ''Discworld/TheLastHero'''s climax, where the Horde are ready to finish what they'd decided to do, and they won't let anybody stop them... when [[spoiler:they realize that it's [[ConservationOfNinjutsu seven of them (including the minstrel), against one single]], [[IncorruptiblePurePureness heroic-looking young man]], ostensibly a simple city guard, armed only with a worn sword, and wasn't there a rumor about the [[KingIncognito lost heir to the throne]] being a simple city guard? And he's ''smiling''. The Horde realize they don't have a chance and give up.]]
** Then there's [[Discworld/ThiefOfTime Rule One]]: "Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man!". Especially if you're armed, and he's not.
** {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d in ''Discworld/InterestingTimes'':
--->'''Twoflower:''' When seven men go out to fight an army 180,000 times bigger there's only one way it can end.\\
'''Rincewind:''' Right. I'm glad you see sense.\\
'''Twoflower:''' They'll win. They've got to. Otherwise the world's just not working properly.
** After hard practical experience, Discworld bookmakers now refuse to accept nine out of every ten bets on a racehorse called ''Million-To-One-Chance''. They do, however, very carefully count the races in which this horse appears and encourage betting on the tenth race...
* Robert Jordan's ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'': The three main characters are said to be ''ta'veren'', which indeed [[{{Fictionary}} roughly translates]] as "Main Character". This is (part of) the in-[[TheVerse universe]] reason given for all the {{Contrived Coincidence}}s that keep happening to them.
** It's at least someone [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] because the coincidences aren't just contrived for story purposes, the ''ta'veren'' are also followed around everywhere they go by bizarre random chance, which often has nothing to do with the story. Sometimes it's a ContrivedCoincidence in a plot-furthering way, like a very unlikely reunion with an old acquaintance, but then again sometimes it's important to other characters in-universe but completely unimportant to the main plot, like an InnocentBystander tripping over a tiny rock and breaking his neck, and sometimes it's not important to anyone at all, like a sandbag breaking and the sand just happening to fall a perfect shape of a Ying/Yang (of great symbolic importance).
*** In RPG terms. If one of the main characters needs to roll a six to make it past the next challenge, then everyone around them will continue to roll sixes constantly until the ''ta'veren'' leaves the area.
*** In-universe philosophers actually theorize that things balance each other, so there would rather be only sixes ''and'' ones in equal proportion until the character leaves.
* The world in Creator/MercedesLackey's ''Literature/TalesOfTheFiveHundredKingdoms'' series is governed by this trope (named "The Tradition" in this instance). Many characters are [[GenreSavvy aware of this]] and spend a great deal of time trying to manipulate/subvert/redirect this force for their own goals.
* Craig Shaw Gardner's ''The Cineverse Cycle'', although in this case the universe is suffering from a breakdown such that you can't rely on the rules to work properly.
* Christopher Stasheff's ''Literature/AWizardInRhyme'' series has this as an explicit law of the setting, which natives must remind the TrappedInAnotherWorld / OrdinaryHighSchoolStudent protagonist of on a regular basis. Of course, this is a setting where magic is triggered by spoken verse (with the implied extension that AllMythsAreTrue), so it actually makes sense in context.
* Creator/DianaWynneJones's ''Literature/HowlsMovingCastle'' makes a point of narrative causality at the beginning (Sophie, as the eldest of three daughters, is expected to never succeed in anything, while her youngest sister is sent off to accrue her "inevitable" fame and fortune), and then steadily works at subverting it.
** No such use of this in the movie, unfortunately.
*** In large part because Japan has different narrative traditions and so some of the bits might be rather hard to understand. Then there's the whole thing with the poem...
* In ''[[Literature/TheLaundrySeries The Jennifer Morgue]]'' by Creator/CharlesStross, the BigBad sets up a powerful spell of compulsion that means everything ''has'' to happen exactly the way it would in a ''Film/JamesBond'' movie, thereby making making his plan impossible to stop unless challenged by a lone, British, martini-drinking secret agent. Furthermore, his plan hinges on terminating the spell at a crucial point (when the Bond figure [[NoMrBondIExpectYouToDine gets captured by the villain]]), turning the narrative-powered hero back into a regular guy just before the EvilPlan runs to completion. Fortunately, the spell works both ways, meaning BondVillainStupidity is in full effect. And, crucially, he forgot that the basic James Bond plot formula has a number of small but significant ''variations''...
* Robertson Davies' TheLyreOfOrpheus suggests that this happens in RealLife, using the idea that there are only a certain number of plots in the universe. He compares them to wax, and that each human life is just a unique impression on the same wax. His characters - by putting on an opera about Myth/KingArthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere - find their lives conforming to that tragic love triangle.
* Timothy Findley's {{Headhunter}} is set TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture, where hardly anyone reads novels. One of the few readers left is a schizophrenic woman who believes she has set Kurtz free from Joseph Conrad's ''Literature/HeartOfDarkness''. Throughout the novel, characters' lives are destroyed by their tendency to conform to novels they've never read - ''Literature/HeartOfDarkness'', ''Literature/TheGreatGatsby'', ''Literature/MadameBovary'', ''Literature/Fahrenheit451'' - with the suggestion that if they'd read more, they'd be less {{Genre Blind|ness}} and more likely to avoid the inevitable tragedy.
** This is the same trick Stendhal uses to punish the MoralGuardians that organized the Great BookBurning in ''"Usher II"'', all of them condemned Creator/EdgarAllanPoe books [[ComplainingAboutShowsYouDontWatch just because someone else said they were bad]]. As Stendhal lampshades, if they would have read them, they would have avoided their CruelAndUnusualDeath.
* The entire plot of ''Literature/{{Redshirts}}'' by John Scalzi hinges on this. [[spoiler:The main characters, a group of red-shirts on the Intrepid, go about finding a way to stop 'The Narrative' that is ruining lives and killing them all off.]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In ''Series/BabylonFive'', Marcus knows exactly the right time to hide and set up an ambush before some guards appear. When asked how he knew, he says it would have been the most inconvenient time to be discovered, so of course that's when it would happen.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer''
** In the episode "This Year's Girl", Faith taunts Joyce while holding her prisoner in Buffy's room, saying "do you think Buffy's going to just leap through that window?". She continues to monologue, with Buffy a no-show, until Buffy eventually does leap through the window later than expected.
** The MUSICAL episode "Once More, With Feeling" forces the town to run on the rules of Musicals. The characters are compelled to break into dance and/or sing about their private thoughts, misgivings, and secrets. Unlike in a normal musical, everyone around can hear their secrets. This forces characters to deal with problems they were repressing and moves the plot forward in leaps.
--->"Life's a show, and we all play a part, and when the music starts - we open up our hearts." ~ Buffy
* In ''Series/DoctorWho'', The season five finale ''[[Recap/DoctorWhoS31E13TheBigBang The Big Bang]]'' The Doctor, upon [[spoiler:facing annihilation and erasure from time itself]], a surprisingly common situation for him, says to Amy:
--->"I'll be a story in your head. That's okay, we're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one 'aye."
* Parodied in the "Science Fiction Sketch" from ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'':
-->'''Narrator:''' It was day like many another, and Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Brainsample were a perfectly ordinary couple, leading perfectly ordinary lives; the sort of people to whom nothing extraordinary ever happened, and not the kind of people to be at the center of one of the most astounding incidents in the history of mankind. So let's forget about them, and follow instead...
** This being Monty Python, they of course [[spoiler: turn out to be very significant indeed.]]
* ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'': After Ted says he's pretty sure the universe has bigger things to worry about than his dating life, Marshall (in keeping with his AgentMulder role) suggests that perhaps Ted's dating life is "the glue that holds the universe together." Since it really is the driving force of the show's storylines, [[TheCloudcuckoolanderWasRight that's actually true]], for ''that'' universe.
* In the ''Series/{{Community}}'' episode "Curriculum Unavailable", a therapist tries to convince the gang that they're all insane and that the entire series was [[AllJustADream All Just A Psychotic Delusion]]. One of the things he cites to support this theory is the fact that no matter what, the most important events at the school somehow ''always'' revolve around them, and never any of the [[LivingProp other students]].
* ''Series/{{Scrubs}}: The narration for the episode ''My Old Lady'' starts with the fact that in hospital, one in three patients who are admitted (with a couple of exceptions) will die there. Our three POV doctors each get a patient and so we "know" that one of them will die. [[spoiler: In fact, all three die.]]
* On ''Series/TheVampireDiaries'', Qetsiyah tells Damon that Silas and Amara's doppelgangers - Stefan and Elena - have been finding each other and falling in love throughout the ages. Destiny will always push them together and, as she bitterly states, people like [[RomanticFalseLead her and Damon]] are 'just the conflict that makes their story interesting'.
* In an episode of ''Series/TheYoungOnes'', Rick asks why heroes like ComicStrip/DanDare and Franchise/{{Batman}} don't use more practical, sensible solutions to solve their problems, rather than mindless fisticuffs that never really fix anything. Vyvyan retorts by bluntly stating that the heroes always resort to violence because otherwise, ''[[ViolenceReallyIsTheAnswer there'd be no story in the first place]]''.
* In ''Series/HikoninSentaiAkibaranger'' the established tropes of ''Franchise/SuperSentai'' are a powerful force, and the GenreSavvy protagonists deliberately try to {{invoke|dTrope}} them whenever it will give them an advantage (to the point where they [[StrongAsTheyNeedToBe become arbitrarily stronger]] if they can trick the MonsterOfTheWeek into saying NothingCanStopUsNow). Played with in the second season when Malshina creates a VillainWorld where narrative causality is inverted, and the only way for the team to win is by deliberately jinxing themselves.

* In the AudioPlay/BigFinishDoctorWho audio "The Holy Terror", the entire society the story is set in is built around these principles, its DeadlyDecadentCourt modelled after a collection of Shakespearean cliché elevated to the point of ritual - for instance, queens must ''always'' give birth to two sons, a good but gentle older son and a corrupt and disfigured younger son, and the law of succession is such that when the king dies, the older son is instated as king and the younger son will betray and assassinate him and succeed him as the rightful heir. This at first seems like laws instated upon this world, until the WhamLine when the Doctor, who is attempting to escape with a seemingly helpful character, tells that character that he knows he'll betray him "because you're a stereotype". Told his role in the story is to be the person who seems helpful but betrays the heroes when pressed, the character attempts to defy this characterisation but is powerless against it, revealing that the particular universe is actually a story built as a prison for one of the characters and narrative causality is necessary to keep it on the rails.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* A common mechanic in tabletop roleplaying games is the sporadic, limited ability to break the rules by automatically declaring success on a roll (or failure on a roll against them) or by granting a reroll in a desperate situation. Some enemies have a similar mechanic as well. These are sometimes called [[JustForPun plot points]].
** TabletopGame/{{Top Secret}} was the first tabletop RPG to incorporate such points, in the form of luck points; every character started with 1-10 of them.
** TabletopGame/{{Alternity}} has the last resort point, which allows a hero to increase their level of success by one grade, or to decrease an enemy roll's level of success against them by one grade; the free agent has the ability to spend two points to change success by two grades. This allows a hero to turn a failure into success, a good roll into an amazing one, or alternatively an enemy's amazing roll into a good one. This ability comes in particularly handy as amazing attack rolls can inflict mortal damage, severely injuring and (on rare occasion) outright killing players and enemies. Very important [=NPC=]s may have these as well, to prevent one lucky or unlucky roll from instantly (and anticlimactically) defeating them.
** TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons has this in 4th edition in the form of Action Points; ordinarily, action points are used to gain an extra standard action on your turn, allowing you (in most cases) to immediately make an extra attack roll. At paragon tier (level 11+), most characters gain additional benefits from the use of these as well; some paragon paths allow you to use them to grant yourself rerolls on attacks instead, or grant multiple move actions, or other things; others grant bonuses in addition to their usual effect, such as the extra action dealing extra damage or being more likely to hit. Others just grant extra benefits on top of what they normally grant, such as allowing the character an extra bit of movement, teleporting them, dealing damage to enemies around them, and so on. There are even some abilities which grant action points, or which allow action points to be spent more often, or to be spent on granting lesser actions (such as moves) without expending them. Characters are expected to spend their action points, and gain them throughout the adventure on a regular basis, but are generally restricted to using one per encounter, and are reset after every adventure to discourage hoarding. Boss and sub-boss type monsters generally have 1-2 action points themselves, which makes them considerably more dangerous (though it also becomes obvious when a foe you're facing is more powerful than usual, as if they spend an action point, it means they're bad news).
** TabletopGame/{{Pathfinder}} incorporates hero points as an optional rule, which are granted for various in-character tasks and can be spent to grant bonuses to rolls, reuse expended spells, avoid dying, get a hint, or attempt the extremely improbable.
** TabletopGame/{{GURPS}} has the advantages Luck, which allows a player to re-roll once an hour (or more), and Super-Luck, which allows them to literally choose what the dice roll will be.
** TabletopGame/DarkHeresy and it's related games have "fate points". They are refreshed every play session and can be used to gain rerolls or manipulate results in various ways. They can also be permanently burned to allow a doomed player to survive in some contrived fashion.
* Some roleplaying games grant players the sporadic ability to outright alter the narrative of the game directly, such as by saying that there is some new feature or object in a room that wasn't there before which allows them to escape some difficulty. In some cases they can even make things harder on themselves by adding things working against them, for a bonus later.
** Perhaps the most extreme version of this is TableTopGame/{{The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen}}, which is a game which centers entirely around this mechanic. Every player begins with a pool of coins or chips, and each player tells some story of their adventures, based on a question asked to them by one of the other players. The other players, during the story, may interfere by asking questions which add some sort of twist to the story and pushing forward a number of coins in challenge; the person telling the story must then incorporate some means of overcoming the challenge into the story (and thus take the coins) or push forward as many coins of their own and give them to the challenger, informing them that they are mistaken. At the end of the game, the players then must "vote" with their coins for the best stories; thus accumulating more coins gives you more votes at the end.
* TheFairFolk from ''TabletopGame/{{Exalted}}'' live their lives according entirely to what's dramatically appropriate. Their Shaping Combat works entirely by "rewriting" someone or something else's story. The Wyld even has paths known as "waypoints" which operate not by distance, but by where a person is in a particular story.
** Creation works like this in some ways, too. Many Sidereal effects work by setting someone in a particular role in a story... a role that happens to fit with the Sidereal's plans.
* Invoked by name with the "The Thin Veneer of Narrative Causality that Underlies Porn" in ''TabletopGame/CardsAgainstHumanity''.
* The ''TabletopGame/DiscworldRolePlayingGame'' actually has rules for invoking this: A spell that lets you twist narrative tropes, as well as a caution that just because you set yourself up as the Hero Who Saves the World From the Evil Troll doesn't mean you're not actually One of the Dozen Hapless Characters Who Get Killed by the Troll Before the Hero Shows Up or, if the story is being told from a troll perspective, The Devious Little Human Squashed By The Troll Hero. ("Troll fairy-stories are not very subtle.")
** It also includes the character sheet of a GrandVizier who was pushed by narrative causality into growing a pointy beard and cackling, when he's really a good, quiet person who'd really rather make sure the budget is balanced.
* ''TabletopGame/ChangelingTheLost'' features the art of Talecrafting. A savvy enough changeling with a proper knowledge of legend and lore can call upon the motifs and themes of stories to ensure victory in his efforts (e.g., setting it up so that if the first two attempts failed, then the third time has a ''much'' better chance to succeed).
** ''Changeling'' (and by extension, the entire ''[[NewWorldOfDarkness World of Darkness]]'') embodies this trope, as the Wyrd, which is the life's blood of all things fae and of which Faerie and the True Fae are essentially manifestations, is the fundamental narrative force of the universe, incorporating time and fate, destiny and chance, predestination and free will. The above-mentioned Talecrafting works because, due to the Wyrd, the World of Darkness runs on tropes.
* This is the entire point of a tabletop RPG. You as a player are there to make a person who will wind up thick in the middle of the plot. Your PC, by virtue of being a PC, has been designated a [[TheHero major character]]. Players who subvert this trope and frustrate their [=GMs=] by [[RefusalOfTheCall refusing to get off their duffs when the Call comes]] simply find [[ButThouMust ever]] [[TheCallKnowsWhereYouLive stronger]] motivations for their characters to [[JumpedAtTheCall take the plunge]]. You're there, and you're a PC; plot and remarkable events are [[ResignedToTheCall inevitable.]]
** Dungeon Masters trying to prod the players into taking a certain track is such a common behavior it has a nickname. It's called "{{railroading}}."
* The Serenity tabletop game has acquirable "plot" points that the game master can distribute to players as reward, usually for doing things in a more creative way than expected. They exist out of character, and the players can choose to spend them to force plot conveniences or twists beyond the normal scope of their characters skillsets. For example, if a character who doesn't know machines very well is required to do repairs on an engine or die, a player might spend a plot point, and suddenly their character finds a handy user manual stowed nearby.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'' includes a stat known as Edge which is summed up as "luck, or that certain something that makes a Runner more than just a mook." Once per point per session/adventure a Runner's player can opt to spend Edge and add a number of dice equal to their Edge stat to the dice pool. And when Edge is spent, the Rule of Sixes applies, allowing for "exploding crits" and vastly more "hits" than usual. And since humans get extra Edge at creation, one can easily create a normal human without cyberware or magic that can compete with the most minmaxed Troll Sammie or Elven Adept. ("Okay, you spend a point of Edge, roll... reroll the sixes... reroll THOSE sixes... reroll... ah hah... okay, yeah. Congratulations, you just destroyed the battle tank drone possessed by an evil spirit with one shot from your light pistol.")

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Interestingly {{lampshade|Hanging}}d and {{subverted|Trope}} in ''VideoGame/KingdomsOfAmalurReckoning''. The world of Amalur has its entire history set in stone, there is no such thing as determining your fate. In fact, [[TheFairFolk the Fae's]] ''entire culture'' revolves around Narrative Causality: their fates are predetermined by their ballads and songs, and they simply go along for the ride with no protests. The villains in their stories are pretty much {{Designated|Villain}} as such, as are [[DesignatedHero their heroes]]. It's actually a major plot point that [[spoiler:[[ImmuneToFate the main character is an anomaly and fate has no power whatsoever over him/her]], allowing him/her to actually [[ScrewDestiny change the fate of his world]]]].
* ''VideoGame/AlanWake'' revolves around this trope. [[spoiler:[[EldritchAbomination The Dark Presence]] abducts artists and tries to use their works to [[RealityWarper warp reality]] so it can escape. The artist ''can'' escape by inserting themselves into the work, but they must obey the internal laws of their own creations. The writer before Alan, Thomas Zane, tried to simply [[DeusExMachina bring his wife back to life,]] but since this destroyed the story's internal logic she CameBackWrong. Alan simply writes himself in as the protagonist, but since it's a horror-thriller, it has to appear that he could lose or die at any point, and has to give EquivalentExchange to rescue Alice from the Dark Place instead of conjuring up an EsotericHappyEnding.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 3|AbsenceOfJustice}}'' has fun with this. Mao, after intense study on superhero stories, comes to the conclusion that if he's going to defeat his father the Overlord and take over, he must become the hero because ''heroes always win''. Being a demon, he doesn't bother to change himself for the better, and just steals the title of 'Hero' from some hapless passerby. Naturally, [[EpicFail the plan works as well as you can guess.]] However, the title soon affects Mao's mind, subtly making him more heroic.
** While the only plot-centric one, this is hardly the only instance of this in the Disgaea series. The FourthWall is flimsy at best in the 'verse and major players are ''very'' aware of main character privileges, occasionally attempting to usurp the position. In the remake of ''Disgaea 2'', this can even succeed and net you a NonstandardGameOver.
* Video games, in general, deconstruct this trope. Any game with lives, save points, or both, allow the audience to fail to move the story line forward upon either death or failure, thus ending the narrative. Successful completion of the task at hand, however, will usually lead to a dictated outcome. Furthermore, games with branching story line or "sandbox" structure allow for a bizarre form of aversion for this trope.
* Balthier of ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' [[WrongGenreSavvy believes that he is the leading man of the story]], and invokes this on several occasions. Once, he warns Vaan to take care of his ship in the case that something "untoward" should happen to him because he "might have to do something heroic." He also assures Ashe that because of this trope, he can never die. [[spoiler:He is eventually shown to right on both counts, despite his lack of leading man status]].
* [[{{Miko}} Reimu Hakurei]] from ''{{Touhou}}'''s standard procedure when it comes to resolving incidents is to start flying in any random direction and [[BulletHell blast down anyone and anything]] that gets in her way until the incident is resolved. In-universe this is explained as her having "good intuition", but it's plainly obvious that the real reason behind why she's always flying in the right random direction is because the plot requires her to do so in order to get anywhere and the "good intuition" stuff is just the developer's tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of narrative causality.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Neptunia}}'' series, with a cast of personified game consoles and concepts and a cheerfully optional fourth wall, embraces and plays with this idea. It's at its most blatant at the start of ''VideoGame/MegadimensionNeptuniaVII'': Neptune and Nepgear are dropped through a mysterious vortex and land in a post-apocalyptic hellscape with cracks through the very earth and sky, filled with monsters they've never seen before. Nepgear is frightened, and Neptune tells her not to worry... because she's the protagonist and this is the tutorial dungeon, so there's no way they'll lose.

* In ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'', Thief [[http://www.nuklearpower.com/2008/02/19/episode-957-bargain-bin/ tries using this trope]] to blackmail a dragon.
* Explicitly referred to [[http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/1817.html in this]] ''Webcomic/IrregularWebcomic'', by a character who presumably is himself familiar with the concept from Pratchett (being a present-day fantasy and science fiction fan).
* Most of ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' works this way, and the characters [[GenreSavvy know it]]. And more often than not, try to exploit it.
** Elan in particular is extremely well versed in tropes due to being a bard, and is the fastest and most clever in exploiting them. When he [[CloudCuckoolander doesn't get distracted.]]
** [[spoiler:Elan's father Tarquin]] has also demonstrated the same level of awareness as Elan, if not higher; he rationalizes that if a hero always rises to oppose the TheEmpire, that means there's always going to be an Evil Empire to oppose, so why not be the one running it? He uses his trope-awareness to secretly control most of a continent and keep it firmly under his boot with an aim to keep expanding his influence. He even gloats about how his eventual and inevitable defeat will be meaningless because he gets to live the good life for years if not decades until that happens and then his story will live on forever, inspiring generations of new villains.
** Deconstructed when it's revealed that [[spoiler:Tarquin]] can't fathom any plot that [[ItsAllAboutMe doesn't revolve around HIM.]] He refuses to believe that he is just a side villain in comparison to the BigBad and GreaterScopeVillain. When he is (at least temporarily) defeated, it's in the middle of a desert where no one will be inspired should he die on the way back home. [[VillainousBreakdown He doesn't take it well]].
* ''Webcomic/{{Footloose}}'' is built around this trope, with the Plot being an active force in the universe that can be predicted by the [[GenreSavvy Fae]].
* In ''Webcomic/TheWayOfTheMetagamer'', narrativium not only exists, but can be manipulated through use of a literal PlotHole.
* ''Webcomic/FuzzyKnights'' has The Story as a tangible force - it's originally introduced in the context of the tabletop [=RPG=]s that the fuzzies play (and frequently run OffTheRails) but it becomes important in the Tournament War storyline with Mossfoot and [=HamaEstra=] fighting to influence and control it. When plot-convenient coincidences start happening a lot, it's best to pay attention.
* Get ready for this, the ''villains'' in ''Webcomic/MixedMyth''h use a filmic version of this. The elves worship a power called "Cynamatik" and use it to fuel their magic. As the name suggests, the elves have a limited ability to control this force, because it will always cause the most dramatically appropriate circumstances -- so the elves are only on top for as long as it's dramatically appropriate, and the instant the story calls for their defeat, it's impossible that they ''won't'' lose the battle.
* The FanWebcomic ''Webcomic/{{Roommates}}'' plays with, discusses, lampshades etc.. this [[CerebusRollercoaster for comedy and tragedy]]. The cast members (almost all more or less medium aware [[MegaCrossover fictional characters from multiple stories]]) are not above using their PlotArmor, routinely facepalming when they notice TemptingFate moments, angsting on the fact that TheGoodGuysAlwaysWin etc.. Also one of the forces powering magic taking AWizardDidIt to brand new levels, and is treated as SentientCosmicForce.
** As of ''Kings War'' there is also a honest to goodness AnthropomorphicPersonification of it running around... (s)he is a {{jerkass}}.
* Wanda Firebaugh of ''Webcomic/{{Erfworld}}'' is a firm believer in what is called in-universe "Fatalism." Functionally, Fatalism teaches that if you have a Fate, that Fate will come to pass no matter what you do. You can make your life easier by seeking out your Fate and sticking to its dictates, or pointlessly torment yourself by trying to work against your Fate, which does absolutely nothing besides make more trouble and pain for you and everyone you care about.
** And her backstory indicates that not only is this the case, but Fate will {{brainwash|ed}} everyone else into making your Fate come true.
* Invoked in ''Webcomic/LsEmpire''. [[spoiler: Void's father planned to draw Dark Star out of hiding by having Palmaster shatter one of the Master Stars, knowing that L's Empire would find all of the Master Stars' shards simply because they're the main characters.]]
** Void is often scolded for not respecting this and constantly TemptingFate.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In the ''Webcomic/PatchworkChampions'' universe, narrative is as fundamental a law as physics. [[spoiler:In the final story arc, the BigBad nearly succeeds in his TakeOverTheWorld plot when he creates a device that can rewrite narrative laws to work in his advantage.]]
* How the world of Website/ThatGuyWithTheGlasses functions. All the reviewers are able to interact with the things they review, and their lives echo the tropes the dissect- i.e. [[WebVideo/AtopTheFourthWall Linkara]] deals with convoluted comic book plots, WebVideo/TheNostalgiaChick finds her side-kick being possessed, and WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic is often facing off against all sorts of aliens, ghosts, and Mickey Mouse.
** Directly acknowledged in the fourth year anniversary, WebVideo/ToBoldlyFlee, by the fact that their version of [[Franchise/StarWars the Force]] is the Plot.
** An In-Universe example: one of [[WebVideo/BadMovieBeatdown Film Brain]]'s [[CatchPhrase catch phrases]] for when the actions of the characters in the movies he reviews don't make sense: "and he did that because..."
--> "Because the plot says so!"
* ''Roleplay/TheKingdomsSaga'''s Thread is this. Everything that happens [[spoiler:''in the entire universe'']] happens because [[spoiler: the Thread forces everything to adhere to the rules of narrative.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Homer Goes To College", he treats the entire situation like he's a character in an 80's college movie. To elaborate, he keeps pulling pranks, insulting and demonizing the Dean (who's the nicest guy in the whole campus) and never studies, simply because that's how he's seen it in fiction and believes that its what he's meant to do. {{Reality ensues}}.
* In seasons 5 & 6 of ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'', after the first couple of Friendship Missions directed by the [[MagneticPlotDevice Friendship Map]], the mane characters realize that the map calls specific ponies because of their specific talents, abilities, and personalities. When Rarity and Applejack are called to Manehattan to solve a problem, they comment that the problem could have been solved quickly and easily with Princess Twilight's Alicorn magic, but the map must have good reasons for only summoning the two of them. The result is a community building experience that wouldn't have happened if the more mundane matters had been fixed with a wave of a magic horn.