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Voodoo Shark
Zoidberg (underwater): My home, it burned down! How did this happen!?
Bender (picking up his still-lit cigar from the underwater ruins): So that's where I left my cigar.
Hermes: That just raises further questions!
Futurama, "The Deep South"

The writers catch a particularly bad Plot Hole, but they leave it in because it is still critical to the story. The Voodoo Shark is the attempt to Handwave it rather than disrupt the story except the Hand Wave itself is a Plot Hole. Bonus Points if it makes the initial Plot Hole bigger.

Coined by Chuck Sonnenberg, the term refers to the novelization of Jaws: The Revenge (a film not held in high regard). In the movie, the shark with the eponymous jaws seeks out and attacks the living relatives and friends of Martin Brody to take the equally-eponymous revenge, even tracking them when they travel to the Bahamas by airplane. In the novel, a voodoo curse is used to explain away the idea that a shark understands the concept of revenge, and that it can somehow figure out where and when to find these people. What makes it the trope namer is that the writer doesn't bother to answer the question of why the voodoo curse was made in the first place, or any of the other countless questions that come to mind.

Similar to Dork Age but specific to an episode's plot device. Compare to Author's Saving Throw in that not only is it on a plot device level, and that the creative staff is able to catch it before the final product ever leaves for production, but also in that it tends to fail miserably. Compare also to Justified Trope, except a Voodoo Shark moment requires the justification to fall flat, inadequately justify, or otherwise simply fail so that suspension of disbelief remains lost. Also compare to It Runs on Nonsensoleum, in which an explanation like this is played for laughs instead of presented straight. Dan Browned can be considered similar, in that specific knowledge about the subject at hand causes the hand wave or attempt to justify the trope to fall apart.

Not necessarily related to Jumping the Shark or Hollywood Voodoo, except for particularly bad cases such as the Trope Namer.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Mai-Otome attempts to Handwave the Virgin Power of Otome by explaining that a chemical in sperm destroys the nanomachines that are injected into an Otome's body to give her her powers. This raises a couple problems:
    • Why does no one think to use this as a weapon against Otome? Aside from rape (which is an issue with any type of Virgin Power), this particular explanation makes it possible that someone could simply isolate this chemical, then poison the water supply, turn it into a spray, etc., and permanently depower the enemy's Otome.
    • What about prophylactics? Has no one in this universe ever heard of a condom? Especially since the series is implied to have occurred After the End, meaning that they somehow retained knowledge of advanced robotics, but not birth control, which real life people have used for hundreds if not thousands of years before modern technology? Even though condoms can break if used improperly, it's better than nothing!
    • The chemical can't possibly stick around in the body that long. Even if Otome are sworn to chastity while active, a lot of the stress caused by the premise could be solved if non-virgins were allowed to become Otome in the first place.
  • In Death Note's second rewrite special, the mafia are cut and Mikami and Takada kill the SPK in their place, with Light's meetings with them moved to earlier than occurred in the manga. This fixes a plothole present in the original anime, wherein SPK member Ill Ratt is never revealed as a spy for Mello (providing no explanation for Mello's crew knowing their names and thus being able to kill them with the Death Note), but with the mafia plot's removal, another is created: Soichiro Yagami making the trade for Shinigami Eyes and his subsequent death are also omitted, leaving his absence and Light's knowledge of Mello's true name unexplained.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, the out-of-story reason why the main characters of Digimon Adventure are no longer able to digivolve to ultimate or mega is that they can't upstage the new kids. This was weakly patched by the kids claiming halfway through the season that they'd gone back to the Digital World at some point and released their inner crest powers, claiming it was necessary to create a barrier or shield to maintain the world's balance. And the other problem is that the series had already introduced a 9th crest, still with full power, so they didn't even have the power of all the crests. And the other other problem is that the world was already reborn with restored balance at the end of the first season.
  • In Katanagatari, the magic swords that form the basis of the plot are eventually explained away as technology from the future, which a soothsayer imported using his (magical!) gift of foresight. A character explicitly says that this is the logical conclusion, because magic is impossible.

    Comic Books 
  • The leadup to DC's Infinite Crisis revealed that the 'pocket paradise' which Alexander Luthor had created for himself, Superman-2 and Superboy-Prime at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths was actually more of a Phantom Zone, sealed off from the rest of reality by a crystal wall which showed all the DCU's events in real time. The crisis proper started when Superboy-Prime, disgusted by recent events, punched the wall in frustration, shattering it and freeing himself and the others to try creating a Merged Reality, whether it wanted remaking or not. This would have worked eminently well as an allegorical image, but Word of God stated that the wall was an actual physical representation of the DCU's timeline, and used the damage caused by Superboy's punch as a catch-all Handwave to explain away some of the event's less explainable facts, most notably "dead Robin" Jason Todd suddenly 'waking up' in his grave and Maxwell Lord's completely-out-of-nowhere Face-Heel Turn. The fans were neither convinced nor amused, and "SUPERBOY PUNCHED TIME!" became something of a rallying cry.
    • Since then, the editorial staff seems to have realized its mistake, and has been at pains to re-retcon some of it. For example, lines from the Batman & Robin title, as well as the semi-canon animated version of Under The Red Hood, strongly suggest that Todd's body was actually rejuvenated in a Lazarus Pit, which makes for a far more palatable explanation.
      • The single comic book issue devoted to explaining this stated that Jason Todd's mind was rejuvenated by a Lazarus Pit... after Superboy-Prime punched him back to life. Of course everything has since been retconned due to Flashpoint.
  • The biggest Voodoo Sharks in the DCU might be some of the explanations of Clark Kenting. For a brief while in the Bronze Age, it was canon that Superman's nearly Paper-Thin Disguise worked despite all the close calls because he also had a "super-hypnosis" power that prevented anyone from noticing Clark Kent's resemblance to Superman. This depended on his glasses, which were made out of pieces of his Kryptonian spaceship; in one comic Lois Lane saw Clark Kent in a suit and no glasses and assumed it was Superman trying futilely to disguise himself as Clark. Fine, fair enough, Superman does lots of things superhumanly well due to his speed and intellect and they're all called separate superpowers. But this just raises more questions, like why does a wig work as a disguise for Supergirl? Or, why does this disguise work over television? Or, there are many stories where Batman and Superman dress as each other. Does Batman have Bat-hypnosis?
    • The current (and much more rational) explanation is that when he is Clark Kent, Superman acts completely differently; timid, slumped, and so completely unlike Superman no one would ever relate the two, writing off any similarities in appearance as a coincidence and nothing more. This also makes Batman disguising himself as Clark easier to accept. Bruce Wayne is a master of disguise and he and Clark already look a lot alike. With a little makeup, Bruce could easily make himself look like Kent. There's also the later post-Crisis component of the explanation: Why does anyone assume that Superman has a secret identity?
    • Also, everyone has figured out that Superman and Clark Kent look alike, because (Thanks to shape-shifting friends, robotic duplicates, etc), they've seen them together a few times. This isn't treated as anything more than a joke that pathetic Clark Kent has almost the same face as Superman.
    • In All-Star Superman, Lex Luthor makes a few (surprisingly friendly and playful- he likes Clark Kent, ironically enough, even as he despises Superman) jabs at Clark's weight, suggesting he also makes his muscular barrel build look more like just plain fat.
      • In JLA #50, Clark and Bruce both revealed their secret identities to the League as a sign of trust. Kyle's response:
        "He doesn't... wear a mask. I never even... thought he had a... day job."
  • When talking about What Could Have Been with his run on the Sonic the Hedgehog comic, several of former writer Ken Penders' explanations for the events in "Mobius: 25 Years Later" come off as this. A few examples:
    • Locke's sickness and death was due to cancer he developed from a bad interaction with this self-experimentation (to create Knuckles) and the Master Emerald. (If that's so, why isn't Knuckles affected, even though he resulted from those same experiments?)
    • Rotor's Word of Gay reveal would not have impacted his modern-day depiction, because he would've only realized it five years prior to the events of "M:25YL", after he was married to a female. (Ignoring the fact that having him only be gay in the future means nothing to the readers, while it is possible for people to realize they're gay after they're in a heterosexual relationship, having him find out that late after what's implied to be a long and fulfilling marriage strains credibility.)
    • "M:25YL" is supposed to be the "true" future, and the one where NICOLE came from. (First of all, the story was built around time needing to be "fixed" to prevent The End of the World as We Know It, and Ken's run ended with Sonic going back in time to do just that. No way you can claim it to be the one true future, in that case. Second, unless Past!Nicole was destroyed before the story happened (which Word of God claims is not the case), both Nicoles should exist at the same time, and thus they should have the info they need from Past!Nicole to figure out what happened and how to fix it, something the story claims they don't. Or maybe it's a case of Never the Selves Shall Meet, but still...)
  • The Spider-Man franchise has had its share of Voodoo Sharks, and the explanation given for Aunt May's return from the dead in late 1998's 'The Gathering of Five/The Final Chapter' storyline deserves a mention here. For easier reading, we'll list the sequence of events leading up to the Voodoo Shark moment in numbered order.
    1. Aunt May was in a coma. She awoke, eventually, and shared many anecdotes and heartwarming moments with Peter and Mary Jane, and congratulated Mary Jane on her pregnancy. She even admitted that she had known that Peter was Spider-Man for some time, because Peter couldn't have lived under her roof for so long without her at least seeing the signs. She was in denial for quite a while.
    2. In Amazing Spider-Man #400, Aunt May suffered a relapse, and passed away peacefully in bed. Peter held her hand as she passed away, reciting their favorite passage from Peter Pan. To many fans, this was an exceptionally well-done Tear Jerker moment.
    3. All was well until Marvel Editor in Chief Bob Harras insisted that Aunt May be brought back from the dead. It didn't matter that Aunt May's death was handled (in the eyes of many) beautifully and realistically, it didn't matter how much of a Tear Jerker it was. And it didn't matter that there was a funeral, and the characters and the books had moved on. Harras was the boss, and his word was law.
    4. So here we come to the Voodoo Shark moment. In 1998's 'The Final Chapter', Spider-Man enters Norman Osborn's house in search of his missing child, only to find Aunt May alive and well waiting for him. Norman Osborn explains that he switched Aunt May with an actress engineered to be identical to Aunt May, who spent a long time practicing her mannerisms until they were identical. And that it was THIS actress who died in ASM #400, meaning Peter (and the readers) cried over a complete stranger.
    5. This leads to several questions. For one, how could this 'actress' be SO good as to fool Peter Parker? Aunt May was practically his mother. They lived under the same roof together, and Peter would have KNOWN something was wrong even if his spider-sense didn't give anything away. Secondly, just WHEN was this 'switch' made? How could this actress have practiced Aunt May's mannerisms, and become so good, when the real Aunt May was in a coma? Third, why in the world would this actress stay in character even on her deathbed! It makes absolutely no sense! The books, of course, never provided any answers for these and just moved on from there without addressing it any further, forcing any dissatisfied readers to pick up the slack themselves.
    • Also in One Moment in Time, Quesada claims that One More Day was retconned out of continuity and Mephisto never made a deal with the Parkers — so he never saved Aunt May; she got better thanks to Peter's love and determination. Really, Joe? After everyone up to God himself told Pete that she's as good as passed on, no more, ceased to be, pining for the fjords...
      • Similarly, when Aunt May gets shot, the comic decides to fill the plot hole of Peter having doctor friends (and enemies who like making deals) that could heal Aunt May by having Doctor Strange give Peter the power to be in all places at once, allowing Peter to ask everyone for help, but is unable to get any assistance. This leads to an insane plot hole: how can NO ONE IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE fix a bullet wound other than Mephisto when Doctor Strange can grant Peter omnipresence?!
    • Mention must also be made of the return of the clones to kick off The Clone Saga:
      1. In 1992, during the Evolutionary War Crisis Crossover, The High Evolutionary kidnapped the Gwen Stacy clone, hoping to figure out how her creator, an otherwise ordinary college biology professor, could pull off a scientific miracle like making instant, viable, fully-grown clones.
      2. He discovered that Prof. Warren didn't, in fact, clone Stacy or Spider-Man: He used a retro-virus on two innocents with similar phenotypes to Peter and Gwen and used it to overwrite their DNA and turn them into virtual clones. This is pretty much confirmed when one of the Young Gods (an obscure group of uplifted humans from different cultures and time periods Marvel attempted to resurrect) removed the virus from the Stacy clone, turning her back into the woman she used to be. No more Gwen Stacy. A later issue of Web of Spider Man explains that recurring villain Carrion was the result of a variant of the virus that went bad, becoming The Virus.
      3. Along comes the Clone Saga, where all that gets tossed out the window. Not only are the clones back (including the presumed dead Spider-Clone), but the Gwen Stacy clone has reverted to being Stacy again, and complaining about how that Young God tried to turn her into someone else. How? The High Evolutionary lied about the retro-virus out of jealousy. Turns out he and Miles Warren (AKA The Jackal) were colleagues, once upon a time, and He couldn't stand the fact that Warren figured out the holy grail of biology when he, with all his other accomplishments, couldn't.
      4. So... Why didn't he just admit defeat at first? He'd never shown that kind of Dr. Doom-like ego before. Or why didn't he study Gwen longer to try cracking the code? And why would the Young Gods go along with the lie? And how could she revert to the Stacy clone if there were no virus? Oh, and to muddy the waters further, the "Carrion as The Virus" retcon was kept, explaining that the retro-virus was real, just a side project of Warrens.
    • Speaking of the Clone Saga, it turns out that Peter was the clone and Ben the original. A ballsy move, and one the writers eventually decided to undo by explaining that the genetic tests had been rigged...somehow...even though Peter and Ben did the tests themselves. The rigging was done by a friend of Peter's, who turned out to be, with no plausible motive, working for the long-dead Norman Osborn, who was alive with no satisfactory explanation given. The whole thing just degenerated into a mess of Voodoo Sharks. Of course ignoring the obvious solution is that the labels just got mixed up.
  • In IDW's Transformers reboot comics, Simon Furman felt that there should be some kind of explantion as to how the whole gender thing worked for the Transformers. The explanation given comes off as a little strange, raises massive Fridge Logic issues concerning the Transformers protrayal as sentient living beings, and inadvertantly causes some serious Unfortunate Implications. Ultimately it seems that the only impact this explanation has had on the IDW-verse as a whole is to prevent all the female Transformers other than Arcee from appearing. Not to mention it dosen't delve into how reproduction works for Transformers, something that is directly linked to the whole gender issue.
    • The reproduction issue, at least, has been addressed: their sparks are spawned by Cybertron and its moons, are harvested, and then have bodies built around them. There are forged and constructed cold Cybertronians: forged ones are those whose sparks were created naturally, and cold ones are empty bodies given sparks by a process called 'spark splicing'.
  • The Mickey Mouse comic "Topolino e il mostro di Micetown". Basically: near the end of the story, the villain has used his transformation machine to turn into a duplicate of Mickey. Due to the way the transformation process works, the villain will change back within a few seconds, at which point the original Mickey will be disintegrated. However, the transformation machine then simply explodes for no reason, which saves Mickey. He later tries to explain that the machine became "confused" because he and the villain looked exactly alike, which is an explanation that makes no sense in any way (for one, the machine's express purpose is to make two things look exactly alike, so why doesn't it explode with every use?).
  • Captain America's shield is described as being made of Vibranium, a material that's said to absorb all kinetic energy from impacts. If that were the case, it raises a host of physics problems: bullets should stop dead rather than ricochet off it, it shouldn't be able to actually hurt people by bashing them with it, and most damningly, it shouldn't be able to be moved at all, since moving an object imparts kinetic energy to it. That's fine; they've retconned the shield to be a vibranium/adamantium alloy rather than pure vibranium (the alloy being created via an unrepeatable accident). But then, how was the shield crafted in the first place, if the alloy would absorb and/or deflect any energies directed towards it?
  • Marvel again: The retcon that adamantium caused lead-like blood poisoning. Given adamantium's stated properties, its allergenic properties should be more like surgical steel than lead (i.e. should not cause a universal reaction). It was stated that Wolverine and Sabretooth's healing factors could deal with the blood poisoing. It was assumed that adamantium-bearing bad guys Lady Deathstrike and Cyber, being cyborgs, had some sort of artificial mojo to deal with it. Which left the otherwise normal Bullseye, who had adamanitum-laced bones, and had neither a healing factor nor cyborg parts to explain why he hadn't keeled over with blood poisioning. Rather than answer the question, they eventually stripped the adamantium from Bullseye.
    • According to Daredevil #197, the process that was performed on Wolverine was done using incomplete notes, hence forcing a need for Wolverine's healing factor to keep him alive, while Bullseye's process was done by the originator of the method, which did it 'properly' and hence Bullseye does not need a healing factor. What keeps this in Voodoo Shark territory is that the process was performed to let Bullseye move again after he suffered a severe spinal injury that paralyzed him, and if they removed the adamanium, HOW DID BULLSEYE SUDDENLY MAGICALLY HEAL HIS BROKEN BACK?

    Fan Fiction 
  • My Immortal's author's notes often "explain" plot holes with bizarre nonsense. Particularly amusing is Tara apparently being under the impression that Snape hating Harry is a deviation from canon and explaining it thus: "da reson snap dosent lik harry now is coz hes christian and vampire is a satanist". Of course, Snape does hate Harry in the actual series and there was already a canon (and completely reasonable) explanation.
  • In The Prayer Warriors, Jerry suddenly learns about the presence of a traitor in the Prayer Warriors during his first fight with Percy Jackson, but doesn't know who it is. It is later revealed that God told Jerry this in a parenthetical note, but not only is it said to have taken place before Percy's attack, God never mentioned the identity of the traitor.
    • Later on, Grover's multiple deaths and returns (he is killed three times in "The Evil Gods Part I" alone) are said to be because he is often being cloned. No such explanation is given for all the other characters who died and came back multiple times.
  • According to Word of God, The Conversion Bureau was written not because of any misanthropy on the author's part, but merely to explain why there are no humans in Equestria. However, the first chapter explains that Equestria only appeared on Earth shortly before the story began, meaning that Equestria was originally located in a parallel universe, meaning that there is already a perfectly good explanation for the lack of humans, thus making the entire story pointless.
  • The Nuptialverse has a self-admitted example: In a flashback, Twilight explains to Spike that it's impossible for ponies to shape shift anything. This was meant to explain away why it never occurred to Twilight that the Cadence who didn't recognize her was an impostor and why the shape shifting was a uniquely changeling trait. However, it was pointed out that Twilight has shape shifted several things in the show proper. The author has since rewritten it to state that shape shifting one sapient being to another takes a load of magic, more than many can use, making it impractical for a pony to disguise herself as such.
  • In Boys Und Sensha-do, it is stated that sensha-do uses simuniton (which comes up as the reason why Miho survived getting directly hit by a round), since it's dangerous enough without live ammunition, but this does not match some of the effects the tank rounds have when striking things other than tanks.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars: The prequels created one in the form of force ghosts. With the original trilogy, it was assumed that all Jedi (or at least sufficiently powerful ones) became "one with The Force" when they died. Then along comes Revenge of the Sith saying the Force Ghost thing was a technique Qui-Gon Jin discovered and taught to Yoda, who taught it to Obi-Wan. So then... How did Vader/Anakin learn it? (The obvious answer, that Obi-Wan taught it to him, runs into the problem that by the time he'd learned about it himself, Anakin was already his enemy.) And why didn't Qui-Gon or Yoda teach this technique to any other Master? For that matter why wouldn't Qui-Gon appear before his friend and Padawan, Obi-Wan?note  Various supplemental attempts at an Author's Saving Throw have been contradictory: A cut scene from Revenge of the Sith says it takes dying in a selfless act to reach the other side, but then how does that explain Yoda, who just plain died? Lucas himself said that Obi-Wan and Yoda helped Vader/Anakin to become a ghost and that becoming a force ghost was a lost art used by ancient Jedi. So where were the ancient force ghosts? The EU had assumed Force Ghosts were pretty standard, so when this revelation appeared, this caused a lot of confusion.
    • The Thrawn Trilogy explains this in the opening chapters, that force ghosts are not eternal. Early in the first book, Obi-wan contacts Luke in his sleep, saying that he's drifted too far to the Other Side, and that he cannot help Luke anymore. He then moves on to whatever the Star Wars afterlife is, leaving Luke on his own. It still doesn't explain how Sith became force ghosts, or why other force ghosts got to stick around for thousands of years where as Obi-wan only got a decade or so. At the very least, it's easy to imagine an explanation for such things. (The amount of influence a ghost exerts on the mortal world might be a factor, as some suggest. Obi-wan guided Luke often and even possessed him at one point; but long-dead Sith like Exar Kun and Naga Sadow were dormant in their tombs for millennia.)
  • In the film serial Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, the heroes befriend a tribe of rock creatures on the planet Mongo. Professor Zarkoff happens to know their language. How? Because the aliens colonized part of Earth, but died out there, while their counterparts who stayed on Mongo degenerated into superstitious primitives. But before the rock creatures died out on Earth, a tribe in Central America adopted their language. That tribe also died out, but Zarkoff happened to study their written records (we can only guess how the pronunciations are known, and how it could be translated at all). After the professor gives this explanation, no aspect of it is ever mentioned again.
  • So the visions in Final Destination, that mess with Death's plans, are caused by Death. So Death screws with his own plans and has to correct them, because of what he did. That's not You Can't Fight Fate. That's fate being an idiot, or a Jerkass that likes screwing with people for no reason. Either way, it makes the plot of the movies seem kind of pointless. This was later retconned at the end of FD4, which reveals that it was all part of the plan. And yes, probably with some For the Evulz thrown in for good measure.
  • The Room ends with a character "dramatically" shooting himself. However, the film decides we need to know where the gun came from, so to explain this, an earlier scene is added where an armed dealer known as Chris-R confronts young orphan Denny about some sort of drug deal, and gets tackled by Johnny and Mark. The logical problems with this?
    1. Apart from this never being mentioned again, and the sheer convenience that the entire group decided to go to the roof at just the right time, Denny claims he needed the money. He has a millionaire banker paying for his every whim and still he needed to go to a petty thug for money?
    2. Then when asked about this man, Denny says "Calm down, he's going to jail!" So... the police arrested him but didn't take his gun for evidence?
    3. Mark is the one who takes the gun. Even if we accept the not using the gun as evidence, are we supposed to believe that Mark simply gave the gun to Johnny?
    4. And to make it even worse, the gun Johnny has at the end of the movie isn't even the same kind Mark took from Chris R. The whole explanation is totally unnecessary. After all, couldn't there just have been a scene showing Johnny buying the gun or using the gun in some way, given Johnny's presumed legal right to own one?
  • Highlander:
    • Highlander II: The Quickening decided that the Immortals were actually a race of alien political exiles, which begs the question: when Christopher Lambert asked Sean Connery why certain people are immortal, what was all that "why does the sun rise in the east" crap? And this even goes back to the holy ground thing. Why would aliens care about human religions? Or better yet, why would you give political exiles the chance to obtain the "Prize," I.E. the chance to become a GOD? The alien explanation was quickly retconned.
    • In Highlander: Endgame a group of Immortals live in voluntary stasis in the "Sanctuary," which is located in a large cathedral, but they are murdered by an immortal named Kell. In the original theatrical version, the Sanctuary is referred to as being holy ground, but this annoyed fans of the series since it had been established that Immortals are not allowed to kill one another on holy ground. This rule was even followed by every villain, no matter how evil. So the line was excised from the DVD version. But putting aside the fact that it's in a cathedral, the Sanctuary not being holy ground is just as nonsensical when you stop and wonder why a bunch of Immortals opted to be put into voluntary stasis in a place where they'd be vulnerable. Or why the renegade Watchers would establish the Sanctuary on a place that was not Holy Ground. Their goal was to prevent The Prize from being won, ergo they didn't want the immortals there losing their heads any more than the immortals themselves...
  • While this trope almost always creates a schism between creators and their fans, the famous "watermelon scene" from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is a rare case of it playing out in total good humor. The scene is never mentioned again, and was actually only put in as a Writer Revolt against some of the restrictions placed on the production by its studio liaison, who vocally hated the project. When fans pressed for the promised explanation, Word of God said that the Banzai Institute was developing products that could be airdropped fresh into African villages or other such impoverished, politically volatile areas. It was soon pointed out that any fruit or vegetable that could survive impact would have to be so dense that it would be rendered inedible, Word of God responded (in mock exasperation), "Look, what do you want from me?!"
  • In Halloween: Resurrection, we find out a man Laurie decapitated at the end of Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later wasn't Michael, but a paramedic he switched clothes with. That doesn't explain why Michael would want to switch clothes in the first place or why "the paramedic" was clearly trying to attack Laurie.
  • The Transformers film series has its justification for still having a Masquerade in the second movie: military combat robots went rogue and trashed a major city. Why the government would think "Yes, we not only spent trillions of dollars building giant robots with sophisticated combat AI, concealing this information from taxpayers, but we are so staggeringly incompetent that they not only malfunctioned and started killing people, but when they did we had no way to stop them but to send in more giant robots to fight them" is somehow better than admitting it's aliens is anyone's guess.
  • In Spider-Man 3, Harry Osborn undergoes his Heel-Face Turn and runs off to help Peter fight Sandman and Venom when his butler tells him that he examined Norman's corpse and noticed the wound came from his glider meaning he died by his own hand and thus Spider-Man didn't kill him. Of course, several fans have wondered why didn't the butler tell him this one or two movies ago instead of watching him go on his destructive vendetta against Spider-Man. Word of God then claimed that the butler was actually an hallucination representing Harry's "good side" meaning Harry knew all along but couldn't face the facts. Kind of nonsensical, but Harry's under the effects of a Psycho Serum. But there's a scene earlier in the movie where Harry talks to the butler in Peter's presence, and Peter doesn't react as if his friend was talking to a wall. Which indicates the butler was real, but he wasn't there to tell Harry what his father did. Maybe you can fit it in by assuming that Harry's hallucination took the form of the pre-existing butler.
  • In The Neverending Story 3, Bastian's supporting cast gets wished out of Fantasia into the real world in an attempt to justify why he can't just wish Fantasia back to normal. However, Bastian himself questions why he can't just wish the supporting cast back into Fantasia first, then wish Fantasia back to normal. He's never really given an answer.
  • In The Care Bears Movie, despite none of the Care Bears showing interest in exploring the local river, they still had a fully-operational boat on standby. The sequel gives the boat a proper backstory... but said scene brings up so many plot holes and retcons that it seems like an entirely accidental use of this trope, the sequel possibly intended to be a reboot.
  • Godzilla (1998) ran into some problems when trying to justify the drastic changes made to Godzilla's design. The reason behind the horizontal, raptor-like design for the monster was in order to make it more "realistic." We'll ignore the improbability of such a lanky, precarious and front-heavy design being better suited for giant size than the heavy, pillar-legged, mountain-shaped original. They decided to continue making it more realistic by making it a mutated iguana instead of a dinosaur, thereby completely negating the entire point behind the raptor-shape in the first place. And the Square/Cube Law is being completely ignored either way.

    Folklore 
  • Matthew 16:28 reads, "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." This confusing passage seems to imply that the Second Coming would happen decades after the Crucifixion rather than centuries. Post-Biblical folklore provides alternate explanations, the most persistent being the Wandering Jew. The story goes that a bystander who taunted Jesus was punished with long-lasting corporeal life and is still wandering the Earth waiting for Judgment Day. This raises a number of questions, such as why such a significant figure wasn't mentioned elsewhere in the Scripture.
    • Quite ironically, the bible itself already answers the passage in question, in a way which is much less awesome but also less Voodoo Shark than the Wandering Jew. The Apostle John doesn't die until after writing the book of Revelation, during which he sees Jesus gain his Kingdom in a prophetic vision. There's even a reference to the end of the Gospel of John, which has a similar claim, where John is quick to deny that this is a promise of immortality.
    • Another popular explanation, based on this and a few other references, is that the early church thought the world would end in less than a generation.
    • Or preterism and partial preterism, where this and other 'End Times' talk is seen as referring to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and the judgement on Israel.
    • Some also see this as a reference to the Transfiguration or the Ascension, rather than the Second Coming. ie: This is already the Kingdom of God and we're living in the second age, the age of the New Covenant.
  • In Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld, Ereshkigal's first husband, Gugalana has been killed off by Gilgamesh and Enkidu in The Epic of Gilgamesh. Ereshkigal is mourning for him and gets to keep Inanna's husband Dumuzi for six months of the year, as Laser-Guided Karma for her trying to steal Gugalana and getting him killed in the first place. OK...but Ereshkigal is the goddess of death and the underworld; shouldn't Gugalana be down there with her? One theory among people who've studied the myths is that Ereshkigal is merely the gatekeeper and cannot go into death itself to find him, though not enough of the original myth survives to confirm this.

    Literature 
  • Twilight has quite a few, usually concerning Stephenie Meyer's explanations about how a vampire's body works. According to Meyer, when a human becomes a vampire all of their bodily fluids are replaced with a type of venom. To explain how a vampire can father a child, then, she says that the venom takes over "some of the functions" of the fluid it replaced.
    • In fact, this one is especially terrible because it contradicts major points in the previous books. After all, weren't some of Edward's siblings jealous of Bella's ability to have children? What prevented them from having their own children if their fluids were never hindered?
      • Apparently, vampires don't have enough blood in their body for the females to menstruate. This was why, early on, Meyer said that vampires couldn't have kids. When Bella got pregnant (admittedly before her change to a vampire), Meyer retconned this so that only female vampires couldn't have children because they couldn't menstruate — even though menstruation has nothing to do with getting pregnant.
      • The idea actually makes more sense before the Word of God- The books explain that a woman's fertility is based on it "constantly changing". In short, because Meyerpires are frozen in time, unless changed on the date of an ovulation, conception should be impossible.
    • In the first book Bella is immune to Edward's mystic vampire mind reading power, but Jasper is still able to use his emotion control to calm her down. It seems that it wasn't until the later books that Meyer decided to make Bella immune to all other vampire powers as well. It is explained that her immunity only protects her against mental powers and that Jasper was able to affect her because he was physically altering her body chemistry, but this just begs the question of why none of the other powers in the series seem to affect her at all, even those that would appear to have a physical effect like causing electric shocks.
  • Animorphs
    • Morphing heals you, since it's based on DNA—so why didn't Elfangor just morph and demorph to heal his injuries? In The Andalite Chronicles he claims he was "too weak to morph," but he had enough strength to Info Dump and give Visser Three a token fight before he died—the Animorphs have frequently managed to morph under more dire conditions. This is chalked up to Early-Installment Weirdness as K. A. Applegate freely admitted that she forgot about or changed aspects from the earlier books and this provides a case in point: in Megamorphs #2: In the Time of the Dinosaurs Tobias gets his wing broken. He tries morphing and demorphing, but his wing is still broken, so apparently only your morphs heal that way and not your regular body. Except that in Megamorphs #1, Rachel specifically mentions how the scratches and scrapes on her human body are healed after she de-morphed.
    • It is also explained that as matter cannot be created or destroyed morphing into something smaller causes the excess mass to be temporarily stored in a different universe. No explanation is given as to where the extra mass comes from when the characters morph into something larger and the universe the matter is stored in is stated to be otherwise pretty much empty.
  • In The Zombie Survival Guide, zombie infectees are explained by the claim that zombies stop attacking the infected, and that people often try to hide their infection instead of seeking medical treatment. Which begs the question of why, in World War Z, nobody offered incentives (such as protection for loved ones) for infected to come forward and go on Suicide Missions with some food and water, a gun or two and shedloads of ammo, killing as many zombies as possible at point-blank range before turning. Even an unskilled person could easily take out dozens. With real firearms skill, it could become hundreds of dead Zacks.
    • Not that this is the only plot hole between the two books. For example, the world governments apparently cover up zombie outbreaks with great effectiveness, but somehow didn't know how to deal with them in WWZ. Also, individuals and small groups are capable of easily defeating zombies, while the US military went completely pants-on-head and ran away, completely demoralized, after a single major defeat, which occurred because, apparently, they didn't know enough about zombies. Please note that both books are supposedly in the same continuity, and there was a major US coverup not twenty years before the latter book's setting.
  • Horus Heresy: The Outcast Dead depicts Magnus the Red's warning to the Emperor as occurring after the Drop Site Massacre and the civil war is common knowledge, contradicting every other source that had it come shortly after Magnus failed to stop Horus from swearing to Chaos. Graham McNeill insisted that it wasn't an error and his audio drama The Wolf Hunt attempts to "fix" the error by having the warning come as normal, but the psychic wards around the Golden Throne contain the sorcerous energy for two years before failing. Essentially, The Wolf Hunt wants the reader to mentally insert a "Two Years Ago" tag around those events in The Outcast Dead.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events has the Great Unknown, a mysterious question-mark shaped thing that prowls the oceans. Half of the characters are utterly terrified by it, to the point where Count Olaf is willing to abandon the sugar bowl to escape from it, the other half have no idea what it is. The closest thing to an explanation in the series comes from the Kit Snicket at the end of the last book, where she implies it's a metaphor for death. Fair enough. Then along comes the sort-of prequel series, All the Wrong Questions, where it's revealed that the Great Unknown is actually a sea monster called the Bombinating Beast with no particular connections to anything. Which makes no sense at all. Why would the Quagmires and the Widdershins be willing to give themselves up to such a thing, particularly the Captain, who claims to know its nature? And why does Lemony continue to let his sister believe in something he knows isn't true, when he places such an emphasis on not deceiving people?
    • The other example is the McGuffin itself. The End implies that the sugar bowl is a vessel that contains the seeds of a horseradish/apple hybrid, which provides a cure to the world's most deadly poison. If that's true, and other people know it, the villains have a bit of explaining to do as to why they're willing to burn down half the planet in order to get their hands on some apple seeds.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek: Voyager's episode "The Cloud" caused SF Debris to bring up his idea of Voodoo Sharks in the first place. The ship is stranded far from any safe port and thus the crew rations power. This gets to the point where replicator rations are handed out and they must set up a functioning galley with a live cook. Except the holodeck is kept running as much as anyone wants. The writers explain this by saying that the holodeck has its own power system that is incompatible with everything else on the ship. Why would a holodeck, or any system on the ship, be built to be incompatible with the rest of the ship it's installed on in the first place, while technology from alien races and factions can be integrated just fine?note 
    • The really stupid thing is that the holodeck, regardless of whether or not the power can be hooked to the rest of the ship, can make food. The holodeck is a system of forcefield and holographic light projectors and replicators. Most of the handheld objects are replicated and people eat and drink on the holodeck all the time. This is why people can leave the holodeck with replicated props or drenched in replicated water (it's only computer-directed things that can't leave the holodeck). We even see them do it in Voyager! There is absolutely no justification for rationing food when people can just eat on the holodeck.
    • It has been suggested that the ship's replicators also work backwards, turning matter into energy and that nothing is stopping Voyager from grabbing dirt from an uninhabited planet, converting it to energy, and replicating food. However, the Next Generation Technical Manual (which is canon unless contradicted by something on-screen) makes clear that no energy conversion takes place: replicators rearrange inert matter into food and rearrange waste back into inert matter, both operations requiring energy.
    • And even if we do stretch our logic such that a power incompatibility in the systems was there in the beginning just because of some technical reason and Starfleet figured that the holodeck power would never be needed anywhere else (see Apollo 13's troubles in sharing parts across the lunar and command capsules for a RL example) why did no one ever make a workaround to convert the power? Sure, you would lose some efficiency in the process, but it is still power to run, say, life support.
    • This problem is further compounded by the fact it seems to contradict a plot point in an episode of The Next Generation. In "Booby Trap" (not that kind), the Enterprise is having all its power sucked out by said trap, being unable to use its warp engines to escape. Geordi was using a holodeck to help figure out how to get out, but Picard had everything but life support turned off. Geordi had to convince him to turn it back on, but the HEAD engineer of a starship he had worked on for years never brought up the argument that shutting off the holodecks won't add more power to the life support.
  • Near the beginning of Heroes' fourth volume: Fugitives, Noah says that Sylar survived being stabbed in the back of the head For Massive Damage (leaving him unable to use his powers) and Left for Dead in a burning building at the climax of Villains because the glass in the back of his head melted, allowing him to use his Healing Factor. However, there's one big problem with this: the melting point of brain is lower than the melting point of glass, meaning he would've died for real long before the glass melted. And even if it wasn't, he's still got glass in his brain. Only now, it's absurdly hot, and seeps into all the cracks and can't be gotten out.
    • However, we know the problem isn't that a shard of glass is sticking in his brain, but that it is sticking into the part of the brain that gives him the immortality. (He explained he learned how to move it when he got the Shapeshifter's powers.) The glass would just need to break from that part of his brain, not mattering that it destroys other parts. Seeing how immortal the immortals are in Heroes, that part of his brain probably can't be destroyed, not even by fire.
    • The same episode gives a further instance of this at work, since Meredith Gordon was killed when injected by Adrenaline by Sylar, supercharging her power and causing her to explode. Except that it'd been previously established that Meredith was capable of generating explosions and surviving them? Likewise this seems to be similar to Ted Sprague's radiation ability, where he was shown to be capable to generate and survive minor explosions, but could potentially be killed by going nuclear. Presumably the writers intended there to be an upper limit to someone's immunity to their own power before it becomes lethal, but failed to clarify this aspect?
  • Fans of Smallville debate whether or not the explanation given for Lois Lane's employment at the Daily Planet is a Voodoo Shark. Because Lois was romantically involved with her supervisor (the guy who hired her) she briefly questions the reasons for her being hired. Her editor quells any fears she may have had by showing her the article she wrote for the Inquisitor the previous year. However, given that the editor is an accelerated-aged clone with implanted memories who didn't exist at the time of her writing the article, it raises the question of how true his claim could be. Further, when he offered her the job, he didn't know who she was (she had just walked in off the street to see her cousin) so his claim that it was on the basis of her work is even more doubtful since he couldn't have possibly made the connection.
  • Supernatural:
    • After the episodes "Taxi Driver" and "I'm No Angel" caused a backlash due to several nonsensical changes to the abilities and motivations of Reapers, CW Executive Chad Kennedy attempted to address the changes on his twitter by stating that Reapers were actually a type of angel. Not only did this fail to actually fix most of the continuity issues, it made absolutely no sense with previous canon regarding both Reapers and angels, and only served to make the issue worse.
    • The episode Thinman opens with several seemingly impossible murders, which makes the Winchesters think they were committed by a ghost or some other supernatural creature. At the end, they are revealed to be the work of two normal humans working together. While this does explain the monster's apparent ability to teleport, it fails to explain the first murder. What made it unusual, besides the murderer's appearance, was that the victim was found in a room locked from the inside. No matter how many killers there were, this should still be impossible to pull off unless one of them stayed hidden under the bed until the police came in and pretended to have just arrived, which no matter how you look at it should be extremely suspicious.

    Philosophy 
  • Descartes believed that the problem of certain knowledge could be solved by "proving" that the universe was run by an all-powerful and benevolent God who would not allow us to be deceived. Except that humans are deceived on a regular basis, which leads directly into the problem of evil, which is a whole 'nother philosophical can of worms.

    Video Games 
  • Silent Hill 2 has a possible ending which was intended as a parody of this trope. Silent Hill 2 is a macabre Survival Horror title featuring a young man who receives a letter from his deceased wife, imploring him to meet her at "their special place", which turns out to be a weird ghost town where all his subconscious fears and guilt manifest. It's in general a Tear Jerker Mind Screw of a game. This ending's explanation of it all: The Dog Was the Mastermind. Literally.
  • A rather complicated example occurs in World of Warcraft regarding the Big Bad Lich King from Wrath of the Lich King. Many fans complained about Arthas being stuck with the Villain Ball in the expansion after the Lich King (which he was now permanently half of) being played up as a Magnificent Bastard in the previous game. In what appears to be an attempt to justify it, Blizzard gave the explanation that Arthas's spirit was dominating over the spirit of Ner'zhul (the previously sole spirit of the Lich King, who most certainly qualified for Magnificent Bastard status, and Arthas supposedly not so much). However, that caused much more confusion considering previous interviews and scenes stating that Arthas and Ner'zhul were one being (flat out stating that neither persona existed anymore, only one Lich King), leading to many fans feeling annoyance.
    • The final boss patch tried to lessen all the Villain Ball moments where he just threatened you then left, or told some mook to kill you, then left, etc. by explaining they were all a part of a I Need You Stronger plot, to get the most powerful warriors in Azeroth to become as strong as possible then have them confront him directly, at which point he would slaughter them and raise them as Uber-Death Knights to be his new unbeatable warriors. This was a Voodoo Shark to some players, since his plan to get "the greatest fighting force the world has ever known" involved letting them kill all his other powerful minions. And while there's the obvious "if they killed them, these guys are obviously better" counter argument, the players did that by facing them one at a time while outnumbering them 10 or 25 to one. Throw 10 players in a room with Kel'Thuzad, Anub'arak, Marrowgar, Deathwhisper, Lana'thel, Rotface, Festergut, Putricide, Saurfang and Sindragosa all at once and see how long they last, because if the players are squished in seconds, it probably wasn't worth letting all the aforementioned people and more die to get them on your side.
      • It gets even more annoying; the Scourge is powerful enough to wipe out all life on Azeroth. The reason they don't? The Lich King is holding them back. You know, the same Lich King that is trying to kill the player characters and resurrect them as his strongest champions in order to wipe out all life on Azeroth.
  • In Zombie Driver, The Mayor pops up early in the story to tell you that he'll pay you for killing the zombies that are destroying his city. The game neglects to mention who's giving you money when you destroy the city as well.
  • Possibly intentional in Metal Gear Solid 4, which was partly a Writer Revolt against fan desire to explain Metal Gear Solid 2's deliberately inexplicable events: Vamp's immortality was ascribed to Nanomachines, although Naomi specifically mentions that they only work because he already has a supernatural and unexplainable regenerative ability, as if to annoy as many people as possible.
  • Metroid: Other M attempted to justify the lack of Samus's arsenal with the "authorization system"; to wit, she was permitted to aid the military investigation so long as she only used her weapons when authorized by the commander. So, she still had all her powerups from the previous games, and could activate them herself at any time, but would not until given the all clear. While this does make sense for the Power Suit's stronger weapons (the Power Bombs are said to be capable of vaporizing a person), it falls flat on its face for defense- and mobility-based upgrades, which have no potential to be detrimental towards the mission. Even worse, Adam frequently refuses to authorize upgrades that would greatly simplify the current task that he has assigned Samus. The two worst examples occur when Samus is chasing down the lizard monster that is the adolescent form of the "little birdie" and a clone of Ridley: Samus has to travel through the Pyrosphere, which damages her just by being there, but Adam waits until she confronts an enormous lava monster to authorize the Varia Suit, which protects her from the heat; once she resumes her hunt, she finds that the only way forward is a Grapple Point, and yet Adam opts not to authorize the Grapple Beam and send Samus elsewhere to check for survivors instead, seemingly under the impression that the path was simply impassible. It's fairly evident that it was heavily used to make players Follow the Plotted Line.
    • Eventually, Samus says "screw it" and starts activating her suit's abilities without Adam's consent, complete with the Ironic Echo line "Any objections, Adam?" This is after Adam goes missing.
    • Another problem that the authorization system produces occurs with the Final Boss, after damaging it enough to induce you to swallow you whole in morph ball mode. The game at this point requires you to use the power bomb in order to survive and win the fight. If you've never played a Metroid game before, or have gotten used to requiring authorization to use weapons, you will end up dying at least once at this point.
  • Another Metroid example: in the first Metroid Prime, the Space Pirates find the titular monster in the Impact Crater, take it to their labs for experiments, and then it escapes back to the Impact Crater in time for the final boss showdown. This is all explained and built up in the Phazon Mines Pirate Logs. But this seems to ignore that the Chozo had sealed Metroid Prime in the Impact Crater with twelve Plot Coupons and that the Pirates shouldn't have been able to actually reach it without them. The Chozo Lore does state that the seal may not hold for long, and that it was basically a stopgap until Samus came along, but then why does Samus need the Plot Coupons to get in if the seal's already broken?
    • Later on, in the EU and Trilogy re-releases of the game, the Pirate Logs are all retconned into things like "we've detected something huge at the center of the Impact Crater, but we can't get to it because of the seal." This seems to fill the plot hole, but in true Voodoo Shark fashion, Metroid Prime still has all the weapons and barriers it absorbed from the Pirates, now with no possible explanation because it was stuck in the Impact Crater. Its Enemy Scan even states that it has a host of natural and mechanical weapons, regardless of the version.
  • In Psychonauts, Raz's multiple lives in mental realms are justified with Raz having multiple layers of astral projection that weaken his link to the mental world, and if he runs out of lives, he gets ejected. Health drops are also explained as Raz collecting mental health from the realm. However, this raises a lot of questions when Raz has the same mechanics for mental health and extra lives in reality.
    • It's a common Fan Theory that Raz's "reality" is actually in the head of someone else... such as game creator Tim Schafer.
  • Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow claims that the castle the game takes place in is an exact replica of the Trope Namer for Chaos Architecture for the purpose of avoiding an Artifact Title (the game doesn't take place in Dracula's Castle, AKA Castlevania), which would merely be trivia otherwise.
  • The creators have kept schtum on the real reason but one of the many supposed ones as to why Adolf Hitler was censored in the PSP port of Persona 2: Innocent Sin was because, apparently, the Japanese rating system now "prevents people with a real background from appearing in fictional media". Which only raises questions as to why the millions upon millions of games, movies, comics, etc. featuring historical figures like Frederick Chopin, Sigmund Freud, Jesus and Buddha and countless Chinese heroes are all O-Okay. Realistically, it probably had more to do with the fear of offending internationals players. By giving Hitler a pair of sunglasses and calling him "the Fuhrer". Yeah.
  • In Superman 64, the horrific draw distance is explained by "Kryptonite fog". However, this raises the question of how Superman is able to breathe, let alone fly. This might qualify as a double Voodoo Shark as it was already established that Superman is trapped in Luthor's virtual reality simulator.
    • There was one comic where Kryptonite was released into the atmosphere and Earth itself was uninhabitable by Kryptonians (It was solved by self-replicating nanites, don't worry), and the level of kryptonite in the atmosphere was at lethal levels for Kryptonians... and yet, you could still see through the atmosphere fine. Perhaps slightly green-tinged, but still fine. If Kryptonite Fog was thick enough to not see through, Superman wouldn't just have trouble flying, there is serious question how how he would be able to survive that much Kryptonite radiation, even from orbit.
  • Parodied in Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Swindle at one point asks why the Autobot's transport didn't just fly from the start if it can fly faster than it can be driven. Onslaught meekly says that it probably takes a lot of energon to fly it. When Swindle starts pointing out the problems with this theory, Onlsaught basically tells him to shut up.
  • Master Chief's armor in Halo 4 looks very different from his armor in Halo 3, even though he has been stuck on a drifting starship for years. The canon explanation is that his AI Cortana repaired it with nanomachines, but despite completely altering its appearance the breastplate still has a gash received in Halo 3.
    • In the first cutscene, Spartans are shown fighting in Chief's upgraded armor, not the weaker variants they wore in that time. It's implied that Halsey is imagining that scene, but she's never even seen Master Chief's new armor and has shown distaste for personalized variants.
  • Aliens Colonial Marines explains away Hick's survival as Weyland Yutani boarding the Sulaco, kidnapping him and putting a body double in his cryotube, then crashing the EEV on Forina 161. It's not explained why in particular they captured Hicks, rather than Ripley or Newt, or even Bishop, who as an android would probably be easier to get information from. Nor is it explained why they left Ripley, who had a xenomorph queen implanted in her ribcage, aboard the Sulaco. Or why they moved it back to orbit over LV-426.
  • Mega Man X6 establishes that Zero didn't die at the end of X5, he "Hid myself to repair myself." Okay, the series uses a million Shōnen tropes so He's Just Hiding and X Never Found the Body. Waaaaaaait a sec, that didn't stop X back in X2 from finding and reviving Zero. And waaaaaaait a sec, X was mortally wounded from the same attack at the end of X5 and he recovered! Oh wait, X's creator, Big Good Dr. Light, was able to repair him. X6 also established that somehow, Dr. Light repaired Zero too. Wait, X and Zero are both Black Boxes that are notoriously hard to analyze, let alone repair. And Zero is the Anti Anti Christ created by the Bigger Bad that Dr. Light should have no idea about. Wait, is Dr. Light a prerecorded message or some kind of Energy Being who learned how to analyze and repair Zero? Oh, my head hurts now.
  • In Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Luigi uses E. Gadd's teleport system called The Pixelator to go from his bunker to each level, and regardless of where Luigi's at, he can always be pixelated back at the level's end. At some points, the game features Escort Missions where you need to rescue E. Gadd's Toad employees from paintings so they can be pixelated back as well. However, you still need to escort them to specific points so they can be pixelated out, a problem Luigi doesn't have to deal with. E. Gadd tries to justify it by saying he can't pixelate two characters at the same time, and you need to escort the Toad to his own Pixelator Screen before Luigi can get teleported out, and this is a Voodoo Shark in two ways. First, at no point is it explained why E. Gadd can't simply pixelate them one at a time. Second, the final escort mission has you rescuing two Toads, and they use their Pixelator Screen at the same time.
  • In Grandia III, one of the main characters is a "Communicator", a person who can speak to powerful beings called "Guardians". Since Communicators are extremely rare, the protectors of the Guardian "Drak" don't believe you actually have one and turn you away, saying that while they can't talk to Drak they can at least protect him. Ten seconds later, they let you through when Drak tells them to let you pass! So why did they say they can't talk to Drak, and if they can, why do they need a Communicator? Not to mention the fact that Drak apparently knows who you are and why you're here, when your whole reason for coming was to bring him a message that he apparently already knows by being a Guardian.
  • The Professor Layton games are practically Voodoo Shark: the Series. In almost every game, there is some strange, possibly mystical mystery that has everyone baffled. Layton then goes on to find an explanation for it — which is every bit as bizarre as the original mystery, if not more. For example, in Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, there is seemingly an eternally young vampire living in town. In actuality, he's not a vampire — it's just that hallucinogenic gas leaking from the nearby mine has caused a shared hallucination everyone in town is having that he's a youthful vampire, and that the town is unchanged from many years ago, despite the residents aging but not realizing it. Or, in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, Layton appears to travel in time to London's future. In actuality, he's traveling by elevator to an exact copy of London built in a giant sinkhole and cavern directly underneath the real London, which has been built and populated in secret without anyone ever realizing it. Oh, and time travel is real anyway, as another major character turns out to have traveled from Layton's past.
  • In Sir Basil Pike Public School, the game only spans three days. Word of God is that it's the last week of school, but this doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a few reasons:
    • A Big Game subplot is introduced (and poorly resolved just as quickly). School sports seasons typically end a few weeks before the last week.
    • No one alludes to it being the last week of school, which would obviously be a pretty big deal for schoolchildren and warrant at least one mention.
    • Both Ted and Ms. Pruet teach their classes. During the last week or two of school, teachers typically allow students to use the classes as extended study halls. Additionally, Ms. Pruet gives an assignment to Tammy and Tariq on what is supposed to be the last day of school.
  • In Heavy Rain there's a Voodoo Shark that was created when they removed another Voodoo Shark. Ethan Mars has unexplained blackouts and tells his psychiatrist about dreams that very strongly imply he is the Origami Killer. In the original script, Ethan had a psychic link with the actual killer, resulting in the dreams and blackouts. This explanation for the dreams and blackouts was a Voodoo Shark all on its own; after it was removed, the dreams and blackouts which now had no reason became their own Voodoo Shark.
  • The switch in ammo mechanics between Mass Effect games. In the first game, there wasn't one: ammunition was a block of metal, from which sandgrain-sized pieces were torn off and magnetically accelerated. Instead, there was an overheat mechanic. In Mass Effect 2, however, this system was replaced by disposable heatsinks that function the same way ammunition does in every other shooter. It's explained away by it being the system the geth used, and being superior to the previous method of disposing heat. The Voodoo Shark moment comes when you realize that this new ammo system, which it should be noted was created by a hostile life-form that doesn't trade or interact with the rest of the galaxy if they can help it, has completely replaced the old system all over the galaxy in two years. Apparently the entirety of galactic weapons manufacturing output was redirected to the new system, all the old guns were destroyed, and nobody seems to sell the old weapons any more despite the obvious logistics advantage to the old system. This also appears to have been applied retroactively through time too, since somehow the weapons found on derelict ships and uninhabited worlds that have lain untouched for as much as ten years use a new heat sink system only developed two years previously. (Although you can find an old M-7 Lancer that still uses the cooldown system in the Citadel DLC for 3, which just raises further questions.)
    • And then there is the Extended Cut of Mass Effect 3. The writers attempt to solve the plot hole regarding the squad members of Commander Shepard somehow getting onto the Normandy. This was a plot hole since they magically somehow got onto the ship while they were involved in the ground battle in London. How did they solve that? In the scene where Harbinger uses his lasers to quickly take out ground forces like it is Omaha beach, the squad members get injured. Shepard then calls the Normandy to pick them up. The ship arrives (from space battle in orbit) onto the surface in 5 seconds while it had to pass a fleet of Reapers that were on their way to Earth. And if that wasn't bad enough, Harbinger forgets to just laser the ship out of the sky for the whole minute of two it was hanging around as a sitting duck. Although it's not totally Harbinger's fault- Joker and the Normandy apparently forgot that they have a gun capable of killing Reapers on board their ship, and could have shot Harbinger in the face.
    • To say nothing of the Synthesis ending, which turns everyone in the galaxy into a cyborg, even the ones who are entirely robotic such as EDI and the geth, through...space magic?
  • Each Rune Factory game has a character explain early on that you're not killing the monsters you fight, but sending them back to the Forest of Beginnings where they came from. This is credited to a magic spell on your weapons called "Retornen" (or "Tamitaya" in 4). Problems:
    • This enchantment is, supposedly, applied individually to every weapon, tool, and spell you own. While the ones you buy are easily explained, it's a little harder to believe for the ones you find lying in chests or dropped by monsters. And it's completely inexplicable when Item Crafting — in every game, you're an Amnesiac Hero, so the only way you'd know how to cast Retornen yourself is if you learned it onscreen, which you never do.
    • You can tame monsters and have them fight by your side. There's no reason to believe these monsters have Retornen, and no other explanation is offered for why their attacks send monsters home instead of killing them.

    Webcomics 
  • Parodied in Dresden Codak: "I bet it's like when you find out Santa isn't real, and it was really just Bigfoot giving you presents."
  • Frequently parodied in Darths & Droids when the players point out some of the insane lapses in logic in the Star Wars universe, particularly the GM's explanations for how Coruscant can be a planet-wide city... jokes recycled from the same author's Irregular Webcomic!, where it was eventually lampshaded with a cutaway to a pirate captain:
    Captain: Arr! Take that, you scurvy equine!
    First Mate: But captain, that horse be dead!
  • In the NSFW Mega Man gender-bender comic Rock Gal:
    • One of the villains explains to her lady friend (as they're torturing the title character) that if a female robot's breasts are smacked too hard, they lose energy in a manner similar to human lactation. All this does is raise the question of why the hell anyone would deliberately design a robot to lose energy. (In this case, "to prevent an overload" doesn't cut it)
    • Later Handwaved a second time by implying that everyone who builds these robots are massive perverts (as if that weren't obvious enough). Still doesn't explain why such a massive flaw would be included in the design.
  • MS Paint Masterpieces has one robot ask another why they have incredibly obvious power gems that just draw enemy fire, to which the second robot replies (after getting shot multiple times in said gem, to no effect) that it just looks cool.

    Web Original 
  • Lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, when the supposed ghost of Kaiba turns into a... gay clown, or something:
    Gay Clown: Actually, I'm not a clown. I'm Seto Kaiba's evil side brought back from the Shadow Realm by Pegasus
    Yami: No you're not! That's even less believable than the whole ghost story! You don't even know what you are, do you?
    Gay Clown: No.
    Yami: Didn't think so. MIND CRUSH!
    • This is meant to poke fun at an edit done by 4Kid's Macekred dub; in the original version, the "clown" is simply a master of disguise hired by Pegasus to eliminate players unfortunate enough to cross with him. In the 4Kid's version, he actually is Kaiba's evil side brought back from another dimension.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Alien Force. Gwen's magical powers are explained as alien powers inherited from her alien grandmother. The episode in which this revelation is made clear goes on to say that there is no such thing as magic. This despite on a previous episode Gwen clearly used divination to locate their enemies and in the former series Ben 10 there were spells read from incantations, a fountain of youth, and soul-swapping. Then Word of God claims that both Hex and Charmcaster are in fact magic users.
    • They're back to calling it magic later on in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien; it's starting to feel like they don't know what to call it, either that, or Mana and Magic can be the same thing, and Ken's just a Flat Earth Atheist.
      • Ultimate Alien gives the impression at least that Gwen has both alien superpowers and magical abilities and simply doesn't know where to draw the line between them since they're similar.
      • More recently, it seems the explanation is that magic is powered by mana. Gwen is just so adept at it because she's virtually made of mana.
      • People tend to forget the fact the ones saying magic doesn't exist were Kevin and Gwen's father, both characters who had never been in contact with magic-users at this point. Verdonna (Gwen's grandmother who explains what mana is) made no mention of magic not existing.
  • Winx Club 4Kids dub, "Magical Reality Check": It's already bad enough that the would-be Author's Saving Throw (where Knut comes in and says that he couldn't find the herb ingredients that the Trix wanted for a potion) is placed in the middle of the episode (and not brought up again at the end where it would be relevant; this comparison includes the throw), but it also raises the question, "Why do the Trix perform their plan to steal Bloom's powers after they're told that they lack the necessary ingredients?" (as well as "Why don't they bring that up when the plan fails?")
  • The Simpsons episode "Don't Fear the Roofer", near the end. In the story, Homer gets his new friend Ray Magini to fix his roof. However, other people soon begin to postulate that Ray doesn't actually exist, since everyone who was with Homer when he spoke to Ray claimed not to have actually seen him. Thinking that Homer is delusional, his family takes him to the doctor, and after several treatments of painful therapy, Homer thinks he's back to sanity again. But then they find out that Ray was real all along, and that there were logical explanations as to why no one else saw him — except for one case where Bart couldn't see Ray even though he was in plain sight and should have been able to. Guest star Stephen Hawking then shows up and delivers the trope — a miniature black hole had appeared between Bart and Ray that absorbed the light from Ray so Bart couldn't see him. There is no way to even start explaining all the problems with that theory.
  • Futurama makes fun with this trope as shown in the quotation above. The only thing more ridiculous than the explanations is the idea of trying to come up with them in the first place for a universe which seems to have given physics a dropkick to the crotch. It also does this in the episode "A Clone of My Own". Professor Farnsworth shows his clone Cubert all his various inventions. However, Cubert, the Only Sane Man who is being newly introduced to the Futurama world, derides the devices and the Professor's explanations as impossible.
    Professor Farnsworth: These are the dark matter engines I invented. They allow my starship to travel between galaxies in mere hours.
    Cubert: That's impossible. You can't go faster than the speed of light.
    Professor Farnsworth: Of course not. That's why scientists increased the speed of light in 2208.
    Cubert:: Also impossible.
    Professor Farnsworth: And what makes my engines truly remarkable is the afterburner, which delivers 200% fuel efficiency!
    Cubert: That's especially impossible.
    Professor Farnsworth: Not at all. It's very simple.
    Cubert: Then explain it.
    Professor Farnsworth: Now that's impossible!
    • Lampshaded here:
      Fry: Is he (Guenther the talking genius monkey) genetically engineered?
      Professor: Oh please, that's preposterous science fiction mumbo jumbo. Guenther's intelligence actually lies in his electronium hat, which harnesses the power of sunspots to produce cognitive radiation.
    • Fry often prefers this answer in situations where he doesn't want to think. Even when there's a perfectly logical explanation.
      Fry: It's crazy! How could they even know about a show from a thousand years ago?
      Farnsworth: Well, Omicron Persei 8 is about a thousand light years away. So the electromagnetic waves would just recently have gotten there. You see—
      Fry: Magic. Got it.
  • Invoked by Word of God for Transformers Animated. The writers announced that they would not be revealing anything about the origins of the Allspark because the explanation would risk being so bizarre that it shattered the audience's Willing Suspension of Disbelief. The Star Wars Midichlorian example was specifically cited.
  • Word of God of Ed, Edd n Eddy says that Plank is just a hunk of wood. While most of the strange incidents concerning Plank could be justified as the insanity of Johnny, Plank's owner, a few things just can't be explained. For example, in "Rent-A-Ed", Plank told Johnny that Eddy had messed up the kitchen. While Johnny was trapped in a tree far away from the incident. He also managed to sprout a branch in "Scrambled Ed", and drives a bus in The Movie.
  • Lampshaded in Family Guy:
    Stewie: Say, Brian, now that I think about it, how can you possibly have a thirteen-year-old son when you yourself are only seven?
    Brian: Well, those are dog years.
    Stewie: That doesn't make any sense.
    Brian: You know what, Stewie? If you don't like it, go on the Internet and complain.
    • Played for Laughs with James Woods. He's seemingly Killed Off for Real but than turns up again later. When asked for an explanation he gives an absurd and laughably insane explanation involving a woman's soul being transferred into his body to sustain him. It's obviously a joke and fits perfectly with the character.
    • In the Rush Limbaugh episode, Chris objects the Limbaugh had been previously established as a fake character invented and portrayed by Fred Savage. Lois tells him that he saw that on FOX News, and everything on FOX News is a lie. When Chris remarks that Lois was the one who saw and subsequently reported it because she was working for them at the time, Lois tells him that even true statements reported on FOX News retroactively become lies.
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants Played for laughs. When Patchy the Pirate invited SpongeBob and Patrick to a dry-land party, the invitations got destroyed for obvious reasons...
    SpongeBob: Whoever sent this obviously has no idea about the (staring at invitations, where all the ink has run and are illegible) physical limitations of life underwater! Well, might as well throw these in the fire.
    (They do.)
  • Frequently used on American Dad!, particularly in regards to the details of Roger's many disguises. For example, in "Shallow Vows", Roger is pretending to be a wedding planner, and introduces Stan to his sons — two college-aged men who act as if Roger is actually their mother:
    Stan: How is that possible?
    Roger: I know. I look too young to have kids in college.
    Stan: No, that you have children when your persona is completely fabricated...
    • And then in a more recent episode:
      Steve: You... you've been married to him [a prison warden] for thirty years? Where do you find the time?!
      Roger: When you're in love, you make time.
  • In an episode of Cow and Chicken, Flem and Earl were seemingly stranded in the middle of an ocean, reminiscing on memories that didn't actually happen. In the end, it turns out they were stuck in their bathtub the entire time, suffering from "Steam Induced Amnesia."
    • Which is then lampshaded, as the Red Guy demonstrates it to the audience by intentionally breathing in steam which causes him to lose his memory and suddenly think he's Amelia Earhart.
  • Word of God's explanation for what ghosts are in Danny Phantom: they're not dead people; they're beings from another dimension who have taken on the memories and appearances of dead people. Fan reaction to this proclamation was uniformly negative, especially since it seems to contradict the show itself!
    • Most notably, Poindexter, a Black-and-White ghost stuck in The Fifties. Because that's when he attended Casper High when he was alive. Makes for fridge horror when you realize his entire afterlife has been being brutally bullied for fifty years (and given that he's a teenager, that was the likely cause of his death.)
  • Played for Laughs in Phineas and Ferb, when Dr. Doofenschmirtz accidentally teleports a house full of people into his pants. Confused as to why his teleporter had that option, he realizes he mixed its wheel's setting up with his dry-cleaning wheel... which raises the question of why he has a dry-cleaning wheel.
    Doofenschmirtz (talking for the wheel): I am a dry-cleaning wheel. Why do I exist?
    • In "Buford Confidential", Buford confesses to having learned French just to impress a girl, and states "It was easy, because a lot of words are very similar to their Latin roots." Baljeet eventually remarks "Wait, you speak Latin?"
  • Played for laughs in the South Park episode, "Korn's Groovy Pirate Mystery." At the very end, when Korn is going through the process of Doing in the Wizard to explain the presence of the pirate ghosts ala Scooby-Doo, the methods turn out to be complete nonsense. The ghosts were created using a flashlight and cotton swabs, and a Ghost Ship was made using a mirror, a candle, and two squirrels.
  • The Nostalgia Critic complains in his Quest for Camelot review about trees and plants in a forest becoming animate during a musical number. During one of his "Fuck-Ups" videos, he says that a frequent user response was that the forest was enchanted. He points out that this just raises more questions.
    • He also points out that some of the movie's other "explanations" (like Ruber getting the potion from some unseen witches who are only mentioned once) fall into this trope.
  • In Batman Beyond's Fully Absorbed Finale during Justice League Unlimited, it is revealed that Terry McGinnis is Bruce Wayne's biological son. Not by any trysts on Bruce's part, but because Amanda Waller had her minions take samples of Bruce's DNA and then secretly use it to overwrite the reproductive DNA of Warren McGinnis and hope he'd one day sire children with Mary McGinnis since they fit the psychological profiles of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Waller went so far as to actually hire an assassin (heavily implied to be The Phantasm) to kill Terry's parents in a recreation of the event that killed the original Waynes, only for the assassin to back out at the last minute. This story was created to answer the question of how two redheads (Terry's parents) managed to produce two black-haired children (Terry and his brother). Some fans even speculated that that's why Warren divorced Mary in the first place. As for the obvious question of why they didn't just clone Batman, Word of God says this was intended to be what happened at one point, in a Shout-Out to The Boys from Brazil. It was changed perhaps because it was considered too dark.
  • Played for laughs in the Arthur episode "Arthur's Birthday" when D.W. sees a square balloon at a party supply store:
    D.W.: How do you get square balloons?
    Cashier: Blow square breaths!
    D.W.: Oh...
  • The Unshaved Mouse refers to Pocahontas suddenly being able to communicate in English with John Smith after listening to the wind with this exact term.
  • In My Little Pony Equestria Girls the antagonist steals one of the Elements of Harmony and takes it to an alternate dimension. this causes the element to change in how it functions. For instance, it renders the other elements obsolete and causes a big hole in the ground, thus contradicting its very purpose. The element could also be altered and used for evil purposes, which Discord could not do, but a schoolgirl now can. And how do they resolve that? by letting Sunset Shimmers, the antagonist, tell Twilight Sparkle via a Handwave that taking an element to another world would cause it to change. This begs the question, how can she know that since there are no recordered instances of that happening before?

    Real Life 
  • One of the many reasons Conspiracy Theories are ridiculed is that their "explanations" of perceived inconsistencies only raise further (and much dumber) questions, one of the more common being "How would you keep something like that a secret?"
    • "Who could possibly benefit from this?" being another common one.
    • David Wong, in an attempt to disprove the 9/11 conspiracy theories, actually calculated the number of people they would have had to to pay off or eliminate to guarantee the success of the False Flag Operation. The resulting number was over 100,000. Of course, that has nothing on the Flat Earth Society, whose pet theory would include the cooperation of the entire Southern Hemisphere, over a billion people.
    • Noam Chomsky has pointed out several main flaws with 9/11 conspiracies — for instance, the (dubious) assumption that the United States government benefited from it doesn't logically mean they planned it. If the U.S. government really was prepared to murder thousands of its own citizens for greed, why would it then allow people to expose it online, given that it has already demonstrated a total disregard for human rights?
    • The infamous theory that the moon landing was faked is another example. Considering the thousands of people involved and the cost of paying them all to lie for forty years, actually going to the moon would have been cheaper.note 
      • Ask why, if the fakes were "so obvious", the Russians wouldn't have exposed the conspiracy and embarrassed America? The Russians were in on it, too.
      • And if NASA were willing to fake a moon landing, they'd be willing to fake a lunar colony and Mars landing, too. Also a Mitchell and Webb sketch argued that NASA faked the moon landings to divert public attention from their military base on Mars.
      • A branch of the "fake moon landing" conspiracy theorists maintain that the photos of Earth taken from the Moon are CGI. But wait, how could they manipulate images with 1969 computers? Simple: the money poured into the space program was actually used to develop computers decades ahead of their time.
      • Since a lot of the deniers' justifications rest on the idea that 60's-era computers were too primitive to navigate to and from the moonnote , the idea that NASA could arbitrarily make their computers better introduces a host of other problems.
    • Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for all conspiracy theories is that they credit government organizations with competence, efficiency and cooperation, traits that they otherwise show no evidence of possessing.
  • Most Urban Legends also fall under this trope for the same reason as Conspiracy Theories. It doesn't take long for any critical observer to pick apart such stories, usually by pointing out that the city where they happen is never specified, or in the case of the story happening to "the friend of a friend" that the person telling the story is never able to give the name of that person.
    • One somewhat popular end to paranormal urban legends is that the witnesses are never seen or heard from again. This, of course, brings up the question of how anyone actually knows about this if everyone who sees it vanishes before they can report their findings. It also leaves the question of how someone just vanished one day and no one ever filed a missing person report. One explanation is that the subject is supernaturally removed from history, as if they never existed. But then how does anyone know "Smitty Werbenyagermanjensen" mysteriously vanished after doing something if he was Retgoned?
    • Often, Urban Legends also rely on people not knowing very much about the subject at hand or the region in which the Legend takes place. If someone does know about these topics and begins pointing out these errors, the teller may begin scrambling to come up with an explanation on the fly, which often becomes more convoluted and confused than the original error which leads to Voodoo Shark after Voodoo Shark until the story teller gives up or invokes the MST3K Mantra.
    • For assorted drug and moral scares in urban legends, reference the above: "Who could possibly benefit from this?" Drug dealers are giving drugs away to young children? Walk us through the economic model there, and can you also explain what a "strawberry-flavored meth" could even mean?
    • But on the plus side, it allows MythBusters to keep going, so it's not all bad.
  • Also on the topic of religion — this is what happens when you start picking apart stories meant to smear a particular religion (Judaism, Islam, Catholicism, Buddhism, whatever) or religion in general. All too often these stories are based on some inaccurate preconception about the discussed religion, usually completely out of context, and spread by people who have no solid knowledge of the subject.
    • Matzo is made from blood of Christian children? A nice and creepy story, but Jews are not allowed to consume blood of any kind. Added question of just what they think Matzo was made of before Christianity.

Vicious VacThis Index Is Highly Improbable    
Unwinnable by MistakeIndex FailureWimp Fight
A Wizard Did ItConsistencyContinuity Lock-Out
Unfortunate ImplicationsBad Writing IndexWall Banger

alternative title(s): Explanation Completely Fails; Nonsensical Explanation; That Just Raises Further Questions; Closing One Plot Hole With Another; Handwaving Yourself Deeper
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