We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum

The heroes find themselves in a situation that would be difficult for normal mortals; but for them, it should be relatively easy. They have standard Applied Phlebotinum for this situation...

Only this time, they don't have it. The heroes are aware of the Phlebotinum, and how helpful it would be in this situation, but they realize that they have forgotten to bring it. Someone left it at home, or in the car, or someplace else that they can't get back to at the moment. Or maybe it, or its keeper, has been stolen from them. Our heroes will have to think of another plan...

Not to be confused with Forgotten Phlebotinum, where the characters seem to have forgotten that it even exists. This trope is for times when the characters remember it, but simply don't have it handy.

See also Left Your Lifesaver Behind.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • A Fairy Tail omake has Lucy and Happy go try to exterminate poisonous rats in an old mansion. However, their only tool is a fly swatter, as Happy is in spaz mode and Lucy forgot the keys she needs to use her summoning magic.


  • Megamind has a weapon that would easily defeat his opponent... but he left it in the car... which is invisible... and he can't remember where he left it.
  • Serenity: "It'd sure be nice to have some grenades right about now..."
    • Made funnier by the fact the captain made him leave them behind in the first place.
    • Later:
    Mal: Tell me you brought them this time.
    (Jayne throws some grenades.)
  • Jarringly played in The Giant Spider Invasion, where the two science types come up with a machine to Reverse the Polarity and send the spiders back to their home dimension or something, but on the way to use it against the spiders, they realize they forgot it at the lab and have to go back.

  • In A Brother's Price Jerin gets into a situation where he is in danger of being raped, but he did't think that would happen, so he left his Chastity Dagger behind.
  • Subverted in Dragon Bones. Ward gets into a tricky situation. Should be no problem, because one of his companions is a powerful mage? The problem is, the mage has no idea where Ward is. However, Ward still has that ring, to which the mage is enslaved (ancient magic, Ward didn't do it himself, he just inherited the ring). He tries to call Oreg, who indeed arrives, in a rather bad condition as he can't spend time away from his master ... not comfortably, at least. However, he recovers and then helps them escape.

    Live Action TV 
  • In a classic Doctor Who episode, the Doctor and Sarah Jane are locked in a prison cell, and are trying to open the door.
    Sarah Jane: Just use the sonic screwdriver.
    Doctor: It's in the TARDIS.
    Sarah Jane: (groans)
  • In the MST3K-ridiculed The Giant Spider Invasion, two characters drive on a road close to the spider's location. They then radio a helicopter to drop a bomb on the spider when they signal with a flare gun, and start running towards the spider. When they get there, one of the characters says that he's forgotten the flare gun...
    Tom Servo: On the way to shoot the flares I forgot them.
    Crow: Bold new storytelling - forgetting to do a simple errand.
  • Barely averted in the Stargate SG-1 episode Avenger 2.0. Felger and Sam go to an alien planet to deliver an antivirus that would solve the problem of the week. At the last minute, Felger's assistant Chloe stops him to remind him to actually bring the CD that the antivirus was on.
    • Turns into Forgotten Phlebotinum later on in Stargate Atlantis. They discover an Ancient superweapon that destroys Wraith ships but also causes stargates to explode when someone tries to use them. Using the program that shut down the stargate network is never thought of. Instead we blow up the weapon.


    Western Animation 
  • In one Animaniacs episode, Wakko and Dr. Scratchensniff get stuck in the elevator. Scratchy suggests to Wakko that he "pull something big and silly from your gaggy bag" to help them. Wakko responds that he didn't bring it.
  • Aladdin left Genie's lamp in his room to go looking for Jasmine and before he knew it, the Evil Chancellor had taken over and sent him to places that 9th-century Arabs didn't even know existed!
  • Futurama - Love's Labours Lost in Space: Bender forgets to replenish the ship's dark matter fuel. Luckily it turns out their newly aquired Team Pet Nibbler excretes it.