Follow TV Tropes


Beyond The Impossible / Literature

Go To

Events in Literature that are not possible. Only list examples that fit the description.

  • The Longing of Shiina Ryo: The battle was over and the good guys had won, but when Shin-tsu saw his best friend falling to an imminent death on the other side of the warehouse there wasn't much he could do. So he defied reality to reach her and take the impact in her place.
  • In Lucian's True Story the people of the Moon are at war with the people of the Sun. The narrator not only survives going to the sun, he doesn't seem impressed by it at all. Every word of the story like that operates on logic such as "Aristophanes is a wise and truthful man".
  • Advertisement:
  • Nora and Maya from Crushed look so good in their swimsuits they can make Nigel, a blind man, have a Nose Bleed.
  • Discworld:
    • Later novels more or less follow the line that a witch's curse works if and only if the target knows they've done it. Unlucky Charlie, the target for the cursing at the Witch Trials, cannot be aware they've done it because he's a scarecrow, so points are given for general inventiveness. Except for the year when Granny Weatherwax made his head explode.
    • Rincewind's mother ran away before he was born!
    • Meta example: It's noted that the Auditors of Reality are the ones who would give you a speeding ticket if you travelled faster than the speed of light.
    • In Thud!, the head of the Uberwald Temperance League has somehow learned how to roll his w's, apparently overcompensating for an after-lifetime of speaking in Vampire Vords.
      • From the same book Vimes manages to survive hosting the Summoning Dark. While he isn't the first to do so (though those that have are few and far between), the fact that he suppressed the berserker rage it causes is stated by everyone who knows about Dwarf curses to be impossible.
    • Advertisement:
    • Ronnie Soak from Thief of Time somehow managed to milk an alligator.
    • Bloody Stupid Johnson's creations include a letter sorter that sorts every letter that will ever be written in every possible timelinenote , a triangle with three right angles (on the Disc, which is noted for being a flat planet!), and a building that's Bigger on the Inside.
  • The Dresden Files: Hilariously lampshaded in Changes, when Harry returns to his apartment and finds his Ax-Crazy Fairy Godmother the Leanansidhe lying in wait for him. She then reveals herself by dramatically swiveling around in his armchair while petting Harry's pet cat Mister. Harry, for his part, starts internally freaking out about how exactly she managed to swivel around in an armchair that wasn't actually built for it and yet didn't break it.
  • Advertisement:
  • An inversion of this trope appears in the Freya series, with the title character. Gods in this world are empowered by belief, but they also have to follow their divine natures, even if they know better. The book's antagonists figure this out and use it as a foundation for capturing and controlling deities, as it makes them predictable. Freya, however, is so weak and jaded (since nobody believes in her) that she's able to ignore the demands of her divinity, allowing her to surprise her foes and double-cross them.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Tolkien took a stab at implying Eldritch Abominations by having Gandalf speak of unexplained creatures that were older than Sauron himself. However, creation myth in The Silmarillion indicates that at first only Eru existed, and then, while the world still did not exist, he created the Ainur... of which Sauron is one. So, while not implying this is how Tolkien thought of it, anything being older than Sauron is indeed pretty mind-bendingly Lovecraftian, since they seem to have no possible place in Creation.
  • In Xanth the talent of being immune to magical harm is theorized to be capable of this. The talent includes indirect magical harm in its protections so something like magically hiding the edge of a cliff from him and trying to get him to fall off wouldn't work either. This is where the trope comes in. It's theorized in-universe that when the omnipotent demon that's the source of all magic in Xanth left, shutting all the magic down, it came back very shortly afterward solely because of this talent, as putting him in danger by removing magic could be considered indirect magical harm. That's right, it's so powerful that it can even affect its own omnipotent source.
  • East of the Sun and West of the Moon is the place the The wife has to search for in order to find her husband. It's implied to be an allegory for finding a nonexistent place through The Power of Love.
  • In Journey to the West, to destroy Sun Wukong the Celestial Heavens create a fire that is specifically supposed to kill immortals like him. Even after weeks inside it he's still alive. The gods turn to the Buddha who resorts to Sealed Badass in a Can.
  • His Dark Materials devotes a scene to demonstrating how Panserbjørne cannot be lied to, tricked, bluffed, or otherwise deceived in any way. Lyra does just this to the king of the Panserbjørne. When Iorek hears this he gives her the title "Silver-tongue".
  • Iron Druid Chronicles justifies the trope. A big part of why Atticus is so powerful is because he experiments with the rules of druid magic and is able to find solutions to problems that seemed Impossible to the much older and powerful Tuatha Dé Danann.
  • In the Suggsverse book series by Lionel Suggs, most of the characters possess power beyond omnipotence, which is impossible by the logic and definition of it. And that's not even scratching the surface of the impossible things the Suggsverse can do.
  • Artemis Fowl
    • In book 1, the fairies state repeatedly that escaping a time stop is impossible because they are sure that it is physically impossible to do so. Artemis uses Loophole Abuse to find a way to do it: since the time stop prevents anyone from changing their state of conscious naturally he theorized that by artificially forcing a change he could slip through.
    • For thousands of years, the fairies have had to deal with a seemingly absolute curse that takes away their magic if they enter a human dwelling without permission. This is a major plot device in the first few books. Then No1 the Teen Genius warlock shows up. He lifts the curse effortlessly.
  • In the Molly Moon series, Molly has a book that teaches her the rules of hypnotism. During the bank heist, she hypnotises an iris scanner.
  • The Creepy Teen Years: Mmmeee 0 once converted all the adrenaline in his Body into THC. Adrenaline is a Hormone and THC is only produced in Plants. From a Chemical standpoint, the two are nothing alike.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Nynaeve's main passion is Healing, up to and including inventing her own spells for it.: One of them heals severing.
    • When Mat escapes from the Tower of Ghenjei, Olver wins a game of the Unwinnable Joke Game Snakes and Foxes without cheating, utterly confusing Talmanes.
    • Aran’gar, one of the female Forsaken can use Saidin, the aspect of magic only usable by men. This is due to The Dark One resurrecting Balthamel, a dead male Forsaken, in a woman’s body, and calling her new self Aran’gar.
    • Cuendillar is an utterly indestructible substance that absorbs the power of anything used against it, even a magical attack so deadly that it frays the fabric of reality as a side effect. This doesn't stop The Anti-God, whose influence renders the cuendillar seals on his extradimensional prison brittle and fallible when the Third Age draws to an end.
  • Warrior Cats Despite Scourge when he rips out ALL NINE OF TIGERSTAR'S LIVES AT ONCE. A cat is supposed to be temporarily dead once killed only to revive later. To take out all nine at once is unprecedented.
  • In the Honor Harrington books the theta band of hyperspace has been an unsurpassable speed barrier for centuries. Then the Mesan Alignment invented the streak drive that can not only exceed it, but exceed it by two levels.
  • In book 34 of Animorphs Cassie morphs into a whale, while still demorphing from osprey. Every time someone does a rapid switch from one morph to another, they have to revert fully to humans before they can start morphing again.
  • Burying the Shadow: No soulscaper has ever healed an eloim. Ultimately in order to heal the eloim, Rayojini has to die and pass into Elenoen. She not only succeeds, she's brought back to life.
  • Castle Perilous does this with Medium Awareness. Castle Spellbound, can be said to be the moment reality gets so out of whack it breaks the rules of narrative cohesion.
  • Gotrek & Felix start as relatively typical heroes of the setting but by the end of the third book they've done things that should by all accounts never happen by the rules.
  • The Adventures of Samurai Cat: Tomokato almost single-handedly (with one assist from Shiro) wins Ragnarok for the dead-drunk Aesir, foiling a supposedly unbreakable prophecy.
  • Dark Heavens: When Xuan Wu is asked to make a sphere of water as cold as he can, he has to severely limit himself to avoid destroying the world by lowering the temperature to Absolute Zero. "Absolute Zero" is a theoretical temperature that's supposedly impossible to reach and yet he has to hold himself back from it.
  • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy
    • Vin can pierce anti-Allomantic copperclouds, something which the laws of Allomancy and all of Kelsier's crew state is impossible. The Hero of Ages reveals that she's actually using a second Metallic Art, Hemalurgy, to enhance her Allomancy.
    • At the end of the first book, she also 1) pulls metal from another person's body, which is impossible based on the laws of Allomancy 2) uses Allomancy without any metals, which is what the power comes from, and 3) uses the Mists to power her Allomancy, which no one had ever done before. This is the first sign that there are higher powers at work than the Lord Ruler, though they're teetering on the edge of an apocalypse before Vin puts all the pieces together.
  • Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats: "He breaks the law of gravity..."
  • Fergards Souls: Melchior "Midnight" Herald was placed in The Abyss, a giant graveyard for everything that could possibly breathe and exist in this world. He simply left it after one year. Both angels and demons with an exception of Samael state this is literally impossible to do.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat provides a Gargle Blaster with 400 proof alcohol — which is to say, more than twice as alcoholic as pure alcohol.
  • Diane Duane, the author of Young Wizards, has written a series of fanfics of Young Wizards, wherein she appears as herself and converses about its canonicity with Nita and Kit. This does all kind of weird stuff to internal logic.
  • The Hexslinger Series: Ixchel creates a way for hexes to live and work together without wanting to devour each other's power and life, breaking one of the only known absolute rules of magic.
  • The Pendragon Adventure: In the climax of the last book Saint Dane dies because his followers turn on him without any acknowledgment that this doesn't follow from the rules laid down only a few hundred pages ago.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Mandalorian battle armor zigzags this trope Depending on the Writer. Canonically there are only three materials that can resist lightsabers: cortosis, phrik and beskar. Everything else offers no resistance in normal quantities (blast doors and other very thick things at least take some time to melt through). Mandalorian smiths have exclusive knowledge of working beskar or "Mandalorian iron" and can use it to construct lightsaber- and everything else-resistant armor. However, beskar is rare and expensive, so some Mandalorians have to settle for plating, lower-quality alloys, or mixing beskar and traditional armor pieces, often to mixed results.
    • In Revenge of the Sith, the narration goes out of its way to describe Anakin landing what's left of the Invisible Hand as this. He's trying to land something that is about half a kilometer long (after it breaks in half), that has lost its main engines, and is a spaceship that is not designed to be in an atmosphere.
    "This is simply put, impossible. It can't be done. He's going to do it anyway. Because he is Anakin Skywalker, and he doesn't believe in impossible."
  • Ra: There's an entire chapter called The Seventh Impossible Thing. Magic is poorly understood even by cutting-edge researchers, so a lot of things that are believed to be impossible at some point (starting with the existence of magic itself) turn out to be very possible indeed.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In Game of Thrones, Bran enters Hodor's mind, something that Jojen says no one else can do.
    • While wargs are common beyond the Wall, and there are even some further south, Bran is the first person in history to be able to warg into another human.
    • According to Melisandre, bringing Beric back six times should be impossible, even for a Red Priest.
  • In Codex Alera, specific circumstances make it become this trope. Watercrafters can heal injuries, though having the injured immersed in a tub of water makes it much, much easier. Only the High Lords and Ladies and the First Lord can heal life-threatening injuries without a tub. Unless you're Isana, whose watercrafting skills equal or possibly exceed their talents even though she isn't even a Citizen.
  • Log Horizon: A justified case. "World Class Magic" is described as "magic that changes the laws of the world". In other words, one of the laws governing this setting allows for the changing of other laws. Shiro's contract that transforms landers into adventurers is described as this kind of magic.
  • Harry Potter: This is at the heart of Harry epithet, "The Boy Who Lived." He's the only known person to survive a direct hit by the Avada Kedavra spell. It's later explained as The Power of Love.
  • Warcraft: One of the novels reveals that after the War of the Ancients, Deathwing tried mating with his consorts; his deformed, fiery body was so hot he burned three of them to death and horrifically scarred the fourth. For reference, black dragons are immune to fire and regularly take baths in molten lava.
  • In The Dresden Files:
    • Black Magic is universally held to corrupt the user, usually so quickly and irreversibly that the White Council summarily executes every practitioner it finds. However, one member of the Senior Council, the Blackstaff, uses the eponymous artifact to No-Sell this core law of magic and use Black Magic freely without corruption. It's possible that Harry's knowledge of the theory is less than perfect (it's happened before in his study of magic), but the Blackstaff is The Dreaded to monsters vastly older and nastier than Harry — and for good reason.
    • The original Merlin made enchantments so complicated that they seem like magic to a wizard and completely stumped a spirit whose sole purpose is to know everything about magic. Doing so, he was able to create a Genius Loci by casting the same spell 5 times at the same time thousands of years apart — blithely ignoring the magical Law against Time Travel in the process.
  • In "The Double Shadow" by Clark Ashton Smith, a prideful wizard casts an unknown Summoning Ritual with an apprentice and a mummy servant, confident that he can deal with whatever arrives. He gets a Living Shadow that does nothing but approach them very, very slowly, ignoring everything they try to use against it — until the mummy, which was reanimated to be a loyal, fearless, utterly mindless automaton, starts screaming in terror and despair when the shadow gets close.
  • In the Halo: Evolutions story The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole, if the ONI officer reviewing Cole's life is correct, Cole SURVIVED by executing an in-atmosphere slip-space jump (which should not be possible with UNSC technology), and is most likely finally living a life of peace far outside UNSC or Covenant space. He deserves it.
  • In The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, the Unexplored-Class Materials are the Anthropomorphic Personifications of the laws of the universe, which even gods must follow. They are the reason why, for example, the gods of Norse Mythology are doomed to die during Ragnarok. Additionally, when all of them are brought together, they have the power to oppose and counteract the White Queen. However, when an army of Unexplored-Class were summoned to fight the White Queen in the Secret War, she managed to defeat them all. Not only that, but she made them submit to her, effectively gaining total control over the entire universe!


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: