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Chekhovs Classroom / Literature

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  • Hermione does this in pretty much every Harry Potter book (especially the seventh), because she was the only one paying attention in class when the relevant magic was discussed. Also used when Harry gave Ron the bezoar after he drank the poisoned mead given to them by Professor Slughorn.
    • This sort of thing is even done across books. In the fourth book, Dumbledore casually mentions a room filled with chamber pots that he found when he desperately needed a bathroom, and then was unable to ever find again. In book 5, the room is formally introduced as the Room of Requirement, and ends up being an integral part of the story in every remaining book in the series.
    • And in the very first book, Snape quizzes Harry, and one of the questions is about bezoars. In book six, it's used to save Ron's life, although Harry re-learns about it from Snape in a roundabout way.
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    • "Has no-one read "Hogwarts: A History"?
    • Divination class is very much a Chekhov's Classroom. Most of the class believes that it's ridiculous fakery, but looking at the predictions made with knowledge of how the books turn out reveals a surprising amount of Foreshadowing.
  • In Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, an early discussion of how well an Improvised Parachute can work saves Robert Langdon's life when he jumps from an exploded helicopter with a window cover. This is also lampshaded at the time the discussion takes place.
    Little did Langdon know this information would save his life in a matter of hours.
  • Modern pulp author Matthew Reilly uses this to a ridiculous degree. Two examples:
    • In Temple (Matthew Reilly), there's a throwaway sentence from the protagonist about how he'll need to change his PIN after reading a story in the paper about how most people use their birth dates as pass codes. Guess how he defuses the superweapon his brother worked on? Guess again, it wasn't his birthday. But that example was used as a starting point. His brother always used Elvis' army serial number as his PIN. The Nazi scientist used his supposed date of execution.
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    • In Area 7, a precocious youth found in the middle of a government base delivers a buttload of the kind of trivia kids that age accumulate and share at any opportunity, including how komodo dragons are sensitive to changes in the Earth's magnetic field. So there's a scene where the main character has to fight off komodo dragons in a watery pit with his magnetic grappling hook.
  • Subverted and lampshaded in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
    Arthur: You know, it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space, that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young.
    Ford: Why, what did she tell you?
    Arthur: I don't know, I didn't listen.
  • In the Strange Matter book Knightmare, the protagonist remembers a comic his friend told him about in where crossbow being the only weapon to pierce the bad guy's armor. He later uses a crossbow to pierce the evil knight's armor and kill him.
  • An opening scene of Galaxy of Fear: Eaten Alive has a zoology lesson mentioning how the fearsome rancor, which usually kills anything it sees... except for the tiny gibbit birds which venture into its mouth to clean its teeth. The characters end up on the planet D'vouran, which is a carnivorous entity that will slowly eat any beings on its surface except for the native Enzeen, who make people want to stay there.
    • In The Nightmare Machine, Lando teaches Zak how to play cards, and that "A good rule to follow is that if the other guy is acting normal under unusual circumstances, you can bet he's bluffing." Ultimately that's how he knows he's in an illusion later.
    • The Doomsday Ship has Tash finding a bit of Jedi lore about how sometimes it's better to take "action through inaction", or that waiting is sometimes a valid response. She shows it to her brother. After that, Zak finds his uncle playing dejarik on the computer and taking his time despite an icon on the screen flashing "YOUR MOVE". Uncle Hoole says sometimes the computer has to wait, he's strategizing. This is important later.
  • The Hunger Games: Peeta explains to Katniss how each district has a distinctive recipe for bread, which later allows her to recognize that the gift she receives after memorializing Rue must have come from Rue's own people. It comes back in Catching Fire, where Finnick is mentioned multiple times to count the bread they receive as gifts rather obsessively. It turns out that he was in on District 13's plan to break the tributes out, and bread was a signal. The district the bread came from indicated the day they'd be rescued, the number of rolls the hour.
  • In one of the American Girl solve-it-yourself mystery books, Molly and her English houseguest Emily discuss the differences between American and British English, including how the word "queue" (pronounced the same way as "cue") means "line" in England. Later Emily ends up performing awkwardly in a school show and ends up about ready to cry when the teacher scolds her; Molly jumps in and explains that when the teacher told Emily to wait for her cue to go on stage, Emily looked for a line that didn't exist and as such, her performance got thrown off.
  • In Shatterbelt, Mr. Bailey teaches Tracy a bit about geomorphology, showing her a map of South Australia with the fault lines marked in. "There are lots of faults near Adelaide. A whole string of them. A shatterbelt." Thus foreshadowing the earthquake that's about to hit their town.
  • In Princess Academy, several of the lessons the girls (especially Miri) learn end up becoming important.
    • After learning about economics, Miri realizes that the traders who buy from their village have been ripping them off for years, and helps them to negotiate better deals.
    • Another lesson they're taught is a set of rules for diplomacy and negotiation. When they get into a massive fight with their teacher, Miri has the idea that they can use those strategies to negotiate a more favorable arrangement. The teacher is so impressed by their handling of the situation that she accepts their offer on the spot.
  • After getting into a fight in The Magicians, Penny and Quentin are given a stern warning from the Dean about not using magic in anger, as casting advanced spells while too upset to concentrate can result in a Magic Misfire, followed by a full-blown Superpower Meltdown: the caster will be consumed by their own magic and transformed into a demented Niffin, a fate which has already befallen Alice's brother during the backstory. In the finale, Alice herself deliberately screws up a spell, transforming herself into a Niffin in order to gain the power to defeat Martin Chatwin once and for all.
  • Inverted in Midnighters, all of the Midnighters' powers correlate to a school subject, which they excel at because of the powers (except for one). Dess: Trigonometry, and probably engineering, Jonathan: Physics, Rex: History, Jess: Chemistry.
  • A downplayed example in Cold Days: Harry is stated to have used the cue "Fuego" for his fire spell because of the Spanish lesson he took that day.
  • Played with in Animorphs: Ax, being the Token Non-Human, is often their only source of information on alien species, technology, or physics, but half the time he wasn't paying attention in class on the day that subject was taught. Since none of the other Animorphs know anything about aliens to begin with, it's still better than nothing.