Main Voodoo Shark Discussion

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02:50:22 PM May 20th 2016
I went through and removed a bunch of misused examples that, in-universe, are intentionally treated as nonsense; these are It Runs On Nonsensoleum rather than the Voodoo Shark, which I interpreted as being audience reaction to a poorly handled retcon or in-story explanation expected to be taken seriously. Is this appropriate, or is this trope capable of being played for laughs?
04:44:16 PM Dec 20th 2015
Removed the midichlorians example. As has been stated previously, the addition of midichlorians neither answered any existing question nor did it generate additional ones - past "What was the point of this?" (Which is more a fandom thing than a plot thing).
09:58:54 AM Aug 5th 2015
Can we rename the trope? It's too unclear for someone new.
01:33:49 AM Aug 6th 2015
Such a rename has been rejected many times in the past.
10:09:21 PM Apr 28th 2015
Cut this line in the Twilight section, as the back-and-forth discussion of women's reproductive cycles was too much like Conversation in the Main Page.

  • Ummm, You do. The inability to Menstruate results from a lack of a uterine lining within the womb. This lining is what the impregnated eggs embed themselves into, in order to retrieve nutrients from the mother. When this lining is destroyed, this is the what the Menstruation is. While it is possible to get pregnant without a uterine lining, it is extremely difficult, and often results in a miscarriage. Therefore the ability to menstruate directly affects a person's ability to get pregnant.
11:49:43 AM Jan 2nd 2015
Pulled this:

  • 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 then-wife Mary since they fit the psychological profiles of Thomas and Martha Wayne. Waller went so far as to actually hire an assassin—revealed to be an aged Phantasm—to kill Terry's parents in a recreation of the event that killed the original Waynes, only for the Phantasm 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.

Because the example as written only goes as far as the "Handwave that explains a plothole" but doesn't explain why it creates a new one.

02:32:21 PM Apr 5th 2014
Removed the Legend of Korra bloodbending example. It was unstated, but obvious, that Amon did something to the victim's brain, via bloodbending, that cut off access to one's bending ability - a brute force version of Aang's energybending. How he learned how as equally unspoken and obvious: He practiced.
06:17:32 AM Mar 15th 2014
I think the Star Wars: The Clone Wars example should be removed, because it isn't really a Voodoo Shark if it is "patching up a Plot Hole that doesn't exist" as it claims.

Besides, the handwave in the Order 66 arc was made because Clones Are People, Too has become a running theme in the series, showing that they are not the mindlessly obedient drones Lama Su made them out to be (and the same arc claims that the Jedi are becoming a creative influence for them). The chips may have been the only the way to believably justify the clones turning on the Jedi so suddenly after being on really good terms with them and looking up to them. The episode guide also confirms that the brainwashing chips are the genetic modifications for making them more obedient; Lama Su was just deliberately withholding information from Obi-Wan.
04:15:33 PM Jun 1st 2013
Anybody who reads the IDW Transformers in here? I'm not sure why the Arcee example is here. Yeah, it's pretty unfortunate how the only female Cybertronian is Axe Crazy, but regular Cybertronians are genderless robots. Reproduction isn't 'directly linked to the whole gender issue'—asexual reproduction is a thing that exists in real life. I don't understand how it raises Fridge Logic if the example never even points out what that fridge logic is.
07:21:05 PM Jun 1st 2013
edited by
The Fridge Logic is "why are there female transformers?" Apparently the IDW writers believed that you couldn't simply introduce female robots without an explanation.

EDIT: Upon further consideration, when you asked "What's the Fridge Logic" did you mean "what's the Fridge Logic in regards to the handwave?" In that case I'm with you. The handwave is kinda hackneyed and awkward, but not really a Plot Hole.
09:06:13 AM Dec 7th 2012
In the Ereshkigal example under Folklore, it's suggested that, being a Goddess of the dead, her husband would be there with her. However, Ereshkigal lives in a land of dreary mud, with nothing else in it, and the dead are always lonely and wailing out for their loved ones. In order to keep the dead company, she embodies Nightmare Fuel and *swallows them into herself!* That would include her dead husband. They're all effectively part of her, now, but that's no good for a warm bed, is it?
05:00:30 AM Aug 2nd 2012
Surely the Played for Laughs examples here ought to be moved, as that's now its own trope (It Runs on Nonsensoleum)?
08:46:06 PM Apr 7th 2012
edited by qwertyman
04:05:11 AM Jan 6th 2016
10:40:14 AM Feb 10th 2012
Would Zelda's timeline count, now that its "explanation" has come out and it's ludicrously more complicated than anyone's fan wank?
10:08:31 PM Apr 28th 2015
I think so. The simple fact that it posits a third timeline split when even the wildest of guessing fans only restricted themselves to two alone quantifies it for being way left-field.
04:44:34 PM Mar 1st 2011
Removed the following. The trope is when trying to fix a plot hole, one creates a new plot hole. The following are just single plotholes (without the explanation part) or fridge logic or whatever. Also removed a quasi example in the star wars section. The resulting fix is not so much a direct plot hole as _maybe_ a bad decision. It was Nattery.

    Huge Spiderman example. It's a retcon, not an attempt to fix a plot hole 
  • To list all the examples from comics, especially DC and Marvel, would probably quadruple the size of this page (for example, The Silver Age of Comic Books: pretty much all of it), but 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, I'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.

     Other Non-Examples 
  • In the Public Enemies arc of Superman/Batman, Lady Shiva and Mongul show up in the horde of villains seeking the bounty on Superman and Batman. The explanation for these two A-list threats 1. going for a bounty that neither has any use for and 2. losing easily is that they're being mind-controlled by Gorilla Grodd. The most thing silly about it is the idea that Shiva would need to be mind controlled: She is a professional mercenary.

  • Dawn Granger/Dove II's death in DC's 1991 event Armageddon 2001 was arguably a cheap move on top of the Character Derailment that Hank Hall/Hawk had faced. But Geoff Johns' resurrection of the character in 2005 provided quite the bizarre explanation for just how Dawn cheated death: Her death was only an illusion by Mordru to drive Hank nuts, while Dawn had actually been put into a coma with a concealment spell. It was then explained that Hank Hall was possessed by Mordru to RAPE Dawn and impregnate her to create the perfect child of Order and Chaos. Then Mordru disguised her as Lyta Hall For the Evulz and then as a random anonymous woman. And the baby she was impregnated with? Was a reincarnated form of Lyta's husband, Hector. It becomes even more ridiculous with the knowledge that the woman in the coma was initially intended to actually be Lyta, but Executive Meddling with Vertigo postponed her return and Johns had to scramble to find a substitute character as the mother. Perhaps understandably, the specifics of Dawn's comeback haven't been detailed since.
    • This goes into Squick territory when you realize that it wasn't revealed to be Dove for quite some time, and Hector was busy trying to awaken "Lyta" from a coma so they could go back to being husband and wife... even though she was his mother, too.

    • The Expanded Universe rationale for lightsabers raises similar feelings in some fans. Lightsabers have been declared to not actually be blades or beams, but rather arcs. The energy flows from one point in the handle to the other, taking the long route and creating what one troper has called an "energy chainsaw".
      • Arguably, that's the best explanation of how the damn things are supposed to work. In the words of The History Channel documentary on the subject, "You can't have a beam of light yea big".
    • Episode III had a pretty significant one. In order to explain why C-3PO had no knowledge of most of the points in the film, despite being created by Darth Vader and witnessing just about every major event, George Lucas writes in a memory wipe... Ok, that's reasonable, it solves the continuity issues... wait.. why the hell would you erase the only dependable account of events? That's RETARDED!. No sane person would do that!
      • Is it that hard to imagine that they wouldn't want every detail of events known? For one thing, he doesn't seem nearly discrete enough to be trusted with the all-important secret of the kids' true identities. Even sans sensitive information, they might want to perpetuate the idea that Anakin Skywalker was killed, because if it were widely known that the greatest hero of the generation was corrupted, the will to resist might be sucked right out of the population. And there are any number of reasons that the Jedi/Republican diehards would want to do what they could to suppress the knowledge of the role of the Sith in the foundation of the Empire, even if the Sith might have the same goal.
      • R2 still has his databases. That's how he knew to go to Obi-Wan, as well as why he's described as eccentric/crazy.
    • The novelization of Revenge of the Sith actually fixed this really well, in that there's a scene taking place right before the scene where the order to wipe his memory is given, i.e., C-3PO happily going on about how he can't wait to tell Leia, when she's grown up, all about her parents. That would not be a good idea for a variety of reasons.

    • Or just an asshole that likes screwing with people.
    • One deeply insane fan-theory suggests that the Final Destination films all take place in Neil Gaiman's Sandman, although specifically NOT in the core DC universe (rather, I suppose, on an Earth Prime of some description?). The idea is that several of the Endless have some sort of sick (and astonishingly out of character) bet going: Dream provides visions of Destiny to certain characters, and then Death gets to try to kill them off any way in various wacky ways. That's some weird, homemade Voodoo Shark. Mmmm.
    • Possibly revealed by a flash of in-universe Fridge Brilliance at the end of "the Final Destination." All the visions, all the alterations, everything; those weren't screwing up the way the deaths should have happened. That was Death itself using an incredibly convoluted series of visions and events to get people where they "should" die in the first place. Why? Probably just cause Death is a complete Jerk Ass. Also, the guy gets this spark of revelation about 3 seconds before he and his two friends are completely destroyed by a run-away Mac truck... All seen in 3D, slow-motion X-ray

  • The movie Surrogates had this problem. Despite having robots which can be controlled by human brain waves a lot of potential issues with this went unaddressed, like why the Surrogates still needed human-like interfaces like keyboards. This is not the Voodoo Shark, though. The Voodoo Shark is when, near the end, Bruce Willis' character rips out a Surrogates' memory chip and scans it - using an almost completely hands-free interface - complete with Sci-Fi-like scanner - on an otherwise completely normal PC.

    • A story-related example from Mass Effect 2 has Shepard and his/her entire squad pile into the shuttle for a mission as EDI is testing the Reaper IFF. It turns out to be a trap that disables the ship and signals the Collectors, who attack and kidnap the crew (save Joker). There is no substantial explanation for why Shepard goes off on a mission, why s/he takes more than two people, and what would happen if you had no missions left to do. It's a contrivance of the worst kind, blatant and absolutely vital to the story.
      • Ironically, the idea of Shep himself(canonically) taking just himself and two crewmembers to handle any sort of threat instead of sending a platoon of marines is never explained either. There is an easy Fan Wank explanation, however; see Hollywood Tactics.

    • In addition to changing the ammo mechanic, the electronic hacking and lock bypassing system was changed as well. It's lampshaded in the Lair of the Shadowbroker DLC:
    Shepard: Remember the good old days when you could just slap omni-gel on anything?
    Liara: That security update made of a lot of people unhappy.

    • All the fun powers of the bosses are immediately ascribed to Nanomachines as well, completely destroying all mystery and tension. Screaming Mantis, for example, appears to be able to use dolls modelled after previous supernaturally-powered characters Psycho Mantis and The Sorrow to rip soldiers apart from the inside. Then you're told the dolls shoot out a pattern of light which hack your nanomachines or something, and the fact that they look like Psycho Mantis and The Sorrow is not at all explained. Believing they were magic would have been far more fun, so this comes across as Take That.

12:15:28 PM Dec 27th 2010
May I inquire as to whether we need such a bloated second paragraph? I'm hardly a Star Trek fan, but it seems to me that we go from discussing Jaws to discussing Star Trek for little-to-no-reason. Can't we just chop the Star Trek bits out and put them into their own example in the page?
12:13:42 PM Feb 16th 2011
That's the trope namer explanation. It's also a demonstration of the first two examples which one can use to extrapolate the trope.
02:23:03 AM Oct 2nd 2010
I know I'm probably flagellating a deceased equine of truly antediluvian antiquity here, but it occurs to me that the holodeck/replicator issue is really not hard to reason logically. Holodecks just generate light and forcefields, while a replicator creates real matter, and thus needs an immense amount of energy for a tiny amount of matter (E=MC^2). So the holodeck (and everything else) probably just has negligible power requirements compared to the replicator.

Which doesn't change the fact that the "incompatible power system" answer was a stupid one. Kinda reminds me of ol' Bill Clinton perjuring himself rather than admitting he got a blowjob.
07:35:21 AM Oct 9th 2011
Kinda late to the party, but it's hard to reason because they've established that everything tactile in a holodeck is replicated (because, y'know, you can't touch light).
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