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Winning By Accident

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When a character wins by accident

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
ropertroper on Dec 9th 2014 at 7:40:21 AM
Last Edited By:
ErebusElysium on Jun 14th 2018 at 1:19:53 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

This intended trope is for occurrences where somebody is in a trivia competition (a game show or guessing game, for example), though I guess other kinds of competitions can qualify. This is for when somebody is playing a trivia game of sorts, and has trouble with the answers, only getting them right by accident, perhaps when the contestant was simply telling the question-asker something else and unexpectedly got the right answer as a result (which the host tends to be oblivious to).

Contrast Springtime for Hitler, which is for characters who want to fail but end up succeeding by accident. Not to be confused with Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing, which is for characters who don't do anything but win anyway.



  • During the tournament in Brave, Wee Dingwall handles the bow as if he's never touched one before the tournament. When Fergus gets tired of making fun of him, he screams for him to "Shoot, boy!" and Dingwall jumps and looses his arrow into a perfect bull's-eye, making him win the competition. Everyone is understandably shocked. Wee's victory didn't last long though as Merida tops his Accidental Aiming Skills by Splitting the Arrow.

Live-Action TV

  • The Red Green Show: The word games are built on this, where Red will have to get somebody to say a word. While giving easy clues, the other contestants foolishly say other things, but in the end, the contestant ends up saying the word by accident.
  • I Love Lucy: In one episode, Lucy and Ricky appear on a game show. Lucy had found the answers to the questions earlier, only for them to have been switched, and Lucy answers before Ricky can. Each time, it turns out that Ricky knew the correct answer. For the final question, they are asked about what George Washington said when he crossed the Delaware. Ricky explains that he's tired, and that ends up being what was said.

Western Animation

  • Tiny Toon Adventures: In one episode, right before school gets out on a Friday, Granny asks each student a question, giving them thousands of pages to write over the weekend if they get the answers wrong (and they do). Plucky nervously notices that it's a minute until class gets out and hopes the bell rings before he's called on. But when Plucky is asked, he tells Granny what time it is... Which ends up being the correct answer to her question.

Feedback: 43 replies

Dec 9th 2014 at 10:15:25 AM

Incoming dramatic example

  • In Lord Of The Rings, when Frodo hesitated to drop the ring on the Mount Doom, suddenly Gollum jumps out, trying to take the ring from him. Just as he succeeded, he slipped and fell down to the magma with the ring.

So an accident saves the day yeah.

Contrast Mike Nelson Destroyer Of Worlds.

Dec 9th 2014 at 7:49:21 PM

Live-Action TV:

  • Some of the game shows on Sesame Street are this:
    • In one segment, Grover makes his frequent customer Mr. Johnson a contestant on The Letter G Game, in which the contestant has to present a G word to win. Johnson, not wanting to participate, politely tells Grover that he doens't have any G items. Grover points out that Mr. Johnson is a gentleman - and gentleman starts with G.
    • In one episode, Sonny Friendly gets Big Bird and the Birdkateers to play "What's Prairie's Problem", where they must guess what Prairie Dawn's problem is. Prairie constantly denies that she has a problem, but then ends up telling them that the game show is her problem. And Sonny accepts her "answer" and she wins.
    • In the "What's My Part?" segment where the featured body part is a foot, Professor Hastings keeps falling asleep. Hastings wins when he tells Guy Smiley that his foot has fallen asleep.


  • National Lampoon's Europeon Vacation: When the Griswalds appear on the game show at the beginning, in the final round they get the question right and when Ellen refers to Clark by name - the answer was Clark of Lewis and Clark.

Dec 10th 2014 at 1:10:49 AM

  • Frog Man, the inept superhero from The Eighties issues of Spider Man, would often only defeat bad guys when he bounced into them by accident.

Dec 10th 2014 at 6:28:55 AM

  • In The Storyteller episode "A Story Short", The Storyteller has to tell the king one new story per day for a year, and if he runs out before the year is over, he gets cooked in boiling oil. On the last day, he's run out of stories. At the end of the day, he admits that he's out of stories and tells the king about the day he's had. And the king thinks that is the best story he's ever heard.

  • In the Angry Video Game Nerd episode about the power glove, at one point he's talking while still wearing the glove, a game playing in the background (at a part he's always had trouble with) and is just talking and moving his hand, looking away from the TV, and as he's doing this, he actually succeeds in completing a part of the game that he had trouble with.

Feb 25th 2015 at 9:51:44 AM

  • On Bozo's Circus in Chicago Bozo would bet with fellow clown Cooky on a "fair and square" contest practically Once An Episode. The stakes are usually something Cooky has vs Cooky getting to lead the Grand March at the end of the show. These were written to always come out in Bozo's favor, but once in a while something would mess up and Cooky would win. Since it was a live show, they would just roll with it.
  • Dramatic Dream Team: The Iron Man HeavyMetalWeight Championship can be won at any time provided there is a referee around to count the pinfall. It has been won by numerous objects falling on the previous champion including three different ladders. The 1,000th Champion was...the belt itself, having been thrown contemptuously on top of the previous champion after a match. It was won shortly thereafter by someone who had leaned his arm against it without noticing.

Feb 25th 2015 at 1:24:53 PM


  • Played To Absurdity by DJ Drake at the blackjack table of the Golden Nickel casino in Looney Tunes Back In Action. Dealt an ace and a deuce, Drake repeatedly calls for another card, getting eight more aces in a row before getting the queen of diamonds, which was exactly the Mac Guffin he was playing for. The fact that he won the hand with 21 was incidental; it made for a nice gratuity for the dealer.

Feb 27th 2015 at 5:33:43 AM


  • Most of the fights in Angel Densetsu end with the title character beating his opponents by complete accident, whether that be by scaring them so bad they trip over a soccer ball, or by throwing them off with his less than stellar physical prowess and taking a nasty, accidental headbutt once Kitano sits back up after taking a beating.

Feb 27th 2015 at 6:08:20 AM

The Hobbit: At one point during the riddle game with Gollum, Bilbo is completely at a loss. As Gollum gets impatient, Bilbo tries to ask for more time, but can only cry, "Time! Time!" — which turns out to be the correct answer.

Feb 27th 2015 at 12:44:41 PM

^ That would be AC:Literature specifically, by JRR Tolkien, from the chapter "Riddles In The Dark."

Feb 27th 2015 at 1:22:59 PM

In an older Archie comic, Betty enlists Jughead's help in a couples game show, aiming for the prize of a nice fur wrap (Jughead's incentive is the other prize, a trip to Poughkeepsie). Jughead answers every question correctly except the last one which he doesn't know: the initial under which William Sydney Porter wrote. Betty, urging Jughead to answer, steps hard on his foot. His "Oh!" of pain is also the answer: O. Henry.

Feb 27th 2015 at 7:01:17 PM

Who's managing this?

Mar 11th 2015 at 2:41:55 PM

Hmmm... it seems to be lying fallow.

Mar 11th 2015 at 5:48:52 PM

How would this relate to the "Winning By Doing Absolutely Nothing" ykttw?

May 20th 2015 at 8:55:33 PM

Western Animation:

  • Doug: In one episode, Doug and Skeeter call a radio station that's holding a trivia contest for free Beats tickets. When asked a difficult question about a particular Beats album, a stumped Doug says "beats me"... Which happens to be the title of the album in question.

May 21st 2015 at 1:22:12 AM

  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
    • Media section titles: Changed to All Caps and deleted unnecessary colons.
    • Capitalized (delaware).

May 24th 2015 at 6:51:48 AM

May 24th 2015 at 9:14:04 PM

Does this have to involve a contest or sporting event or can a normal battle count as well? If so:

Live Action Television

  • The second season finale of Agents Of Shield has Coulson, Mack, and Fitz battle Gordon with the assistance of a device Fitz rigged up to limit Gordon's teleporting. At one point, Gordon teleports behind Fitz and gets impaled on a pipe Fitz is holding.

May 25th 2015 at 10:25:09 PM

John Cena once won a fatal-four way match by being superkicked by Shawn Michaels and landing on his opponent's body.

May 26th 2015 at 9:46:28 AM

We could call it Serendipitous Victory.

May 27th 2015 at 12:04:34 PM

In the Veggie Tales story "Duke and the Great Pie War", Duke and Otis the Elevated have to answer a riddle posed by the Abbot of Costello about three members of royalty who want to cross a river — Sir Who, Prince What, and Lady I-Don't-Know. Duke, of course, blunders into the correct answer in confusion.

May 27th 2015 at 2:24:55 PM

  • Enders Game: At the end of the book, Ender has burnt out and tries to flunk out of his Training From Hell by kamikaze-ing his own ships in their training video game. Unbeknownst to him, they were transitioned into controlling real troops at some point and he just unwittingly won the war.

The description as-is is unnecessarily super narrow, but the idea is good, I think, since we have all these examples...

May 28th 2015 at 2:57:39 AM

^ That occurred at the end of the original short story, not series.

May 28th 2015 at 11:36:38 AM

In ''Eliminators, the heroes fail to stop the Big Bad from activating his time travel machine and heading to the past to become Emperor of Rome using his advanced technology. However during his trip back one of them punches the keyboard of the computer controlling the trip in frustration causing it to glitch and change his destination to millions of years in the past instead, stranding him on Earth before life even evolved.

May 28th 2015 at 11:50:24 AM

^^ You're right, it was the original book, for some reason I stretched it out in my head.

May 28th 2015 at 5:26:33 PM


  • In the second World Martial Arts Tournament shown in Anime/Dragonball as the match between Tien and Goku comes to a close as they start to fall towards the ground far away from the ring (who ever hits the ground first loses) from a high altitude, Goku uses the last of his energy to shoot off a short kamehameha to put him slightly higher than Tien. As they approach the ground it appears that Goku is going to win, but a truck drives up under him and he hits it before Tien hits the ground. So Tien wins by technicality.

Jul 26th 2015 at 5:29:30 PM

In one Calvin And Hobbes strip, Susie asks Calvin what the old capital of Poland is. Calvin correctly answers Krakow, but he was playing spaceman at the time and was making laser guns sounds.

Jul 27th 2015 at 10:17:55 AM

Old joke:

Teacher: Johnny, name two pronouns.
Johnny: [who hadn't been paying attention] Who, me?
Teacher: Very good.

Aug 5th 2015 at 10:44:46 AM

In Minions, Scarlet Overkill offers her henchman position to whoever can take the ruby from her hand. All the villains in attendance rush the stage, and in the confusion Bob's teddy bear gets caught in the middle. Bob then goes into the melee to retrieve it, followed by the other minions. By the time is over, Scarlet is somehow holding the teddy bear, while Bob got the ruby inside his mouth. She thus makes the minions her henchmen.

Oct 16th 2015 at 3:36:30 AM

If this ever gets to see the day of light, there is a phrase in second paragraph of Invincible Incompetent that could be potholed ("sheer, blind luck").

Oct 16th 2015 at 4:05:17 AM

Who's managing this?

Jun 14th 2018 at 3:31:19 AM

Animorphs: In Megamorphs #2, Ax saves Marco from a T Rex by killing it just as it's about to eat him. The others congratulate him and all feel a little better now that they have a means of defense, but Ax is quick to point out that it was a lucky hit and then calculates his (very low) odds of success should it happen again.

Oct 16th 2015 at 8:28:34 AM

In another Calvin And Hobbes example, Calvin is in class pretending to be Spaceman Spiff. In his imagination, Spiff has just been shot and is about to crash land on a planet. As he falls, he starts to count down to when he will reach the surface. Miss Wormwood then calls on Calvin to answer a math question and Calvin blurts out the number in the countdown which just happens to be the correct answer to the question.

Dec 16th 2016 at 10:12:20 PM

Nearly ever episode of Scooby Doo (the original series at least) seemed to feature a trap to catch the monster, the inevitable failure of the trap, and the gang accidentally catching the monster anyways. Unless this is only for competitions where I suppose this example would not fit.

Dec 22nd 2016 at 7:01:29 PM

  • In Naruto, Naruto accidentally farted in Kiba's face during their fight in the Chunin Exams. Kiba has an extra-sensitive sense of scent so this caused him to flinch in disgust. This gave Naruto an opening to beat him.

Dec 23rd 2016 at 10:18:39 AM


  • The 1910 book The Man In The Mirror by Hudson Douglas has the Prince of Jetland trade places with Identical Stranger Bolter Baxendale, so as to secretly check out his Arranged Marriage bride-to-be. Since Baxendale is a regular at Chancefield's casino, the Prince goes there to be seen publicly in his guise. While playing a spin-the-wheel game, the Prince receives news that his counterpart has made a public announcement of intent to marry. In a panic, the Prince flees the casino to confront Baxendale. It's later revealed that the Prince had blindly dropped a huge wad of cash on a 40:1 longshot that paid off, which nearly bankrupted the casino.

Mar 16th 2017 at 6:39:48 PM

In an episode of Kim Possible, Kim has defeats Drakken and Motor Ed using a controller to ruin their plan. While it seems that she planned it out, the episode ends with her admitting to ron that she had no idea what she was doing.

Ron: You mean you beat the bad guys by accident?:

Jun 13th 2018 at 3:35:39 PM

In The Lion King, Simba Is pinned by his best friend Nala twice as cubs and once as adults. When the two have fallen in love and have a romantic time in the jungle they begin to once again play wrestle with each other and accidentally tumble down a hill, holding on to each other the whole way. When they reach the bottom Simba has finally managed to pin Nala, landing on top of her. It’s also noticeable that this was the least like a fight out of all four of their scuffles, and the only time Simba wins against Nala being when he wasn’t trying to.

Jun 13th 2018 at 5:54:21 PM

  • In an episode of Get Smart, Max is trying to deliberately lose at poker as part of his cover. He is dealt a hand of four kings and an ace, so he discards the four kings and bets all his money on his new hand, sight unseen. He ends up with four aces.

Jun 14th 2018 at 3:30:25 AM

Roger Sharpe famously proved that pinball was a game of skill, not luck (and thus not subject to gambling laws) by announcing where he was going to send the ball and sending the ball there. After the fact, he claimed he actually did get lucky and skill had nothing to do with it.

Jun 14th 2018 at 1:19:53 PM

Correction with the AVGN example. It wasn't in the Power Glove video, but the Zelda 2 video, where he beat the game with the Power Glove by accident.