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Contrived Coincidence / Literature

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Contrived Coincidences in literature.

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  • Jane Austen, while being positively restrained compared to Charles Dickens or Victor Hugo, as a 19th century novelist still manages quite a few coincidences.
    • Pride and Prejudice: Mr Darcy and Mr Wickham, men with a long and recently antagonistic history, independently happen to come to reside in Elizabeth Bennet's village at the same time. Soon comes Mr Bennet's distant heir, Mr Collins, who happens to be the protege of Mr Darcy's aunt. Much later, on holiday with her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth takes the opportunity to be a tourist in Mr Darcy's grand house only after checking that none of the family will be there - but Mr Darcy arives unexpectedly while she is there. Then Mr Darcy is present when Elizabeth gets news of Mr Wickham and Lydia running away together.
    • Sense and Sensibility: Edward's unwanted fiance Lucy happens to be the cousin of the Dashwood's neighbour Mrs Jennings. Mr Willoughby was the seducer of Colonel Brandon's ward. Elinor and Marianne spend time at Mrs Jenning's daughter's house, which happens to be walking distance from Mr Willoughby's post-marriage household, leading to Marianne moping around in the rain and getting sick.
    • Persuasion: Anne's family's house is rented to Admiral Croft, who is brother-in-law to Captain Wentworth, to whom Anne had been briefly engaged 7 years ago. While in Lyme, Anne becomes acquanted with William Elliot, not knowing he is her cousin and her father's heir presumptive. Later he starts courting Anne. When Anne visits an old school friend Mrs Smith, she discoveres that Mr Elliot was responsible for her impoverished state, by neglecting his duties as her late husband's executor.
  • Pick a Charlotte Brontë novel. Any novel.
    • Jane Eyre: When Jane, penniless and homeless, passes out in the middle of a field, it just so happens to be on the property of her long lost cousins. Also, right before she's planning on leaving for India with St. John, she just happens to hallucinate someone calling her name, making her go back to Mr. Rochester and his burnt down house. And the mysterious rich uncle who bequeathed her the money necessary for her to marry Rochester "as an equal".
      • The first Thursday Next novel, The Eyre Affair, does an External Retcon on many of these, revealing that before Thursday's tampering Jane Eyre was a largely contrivance-free book with a Downer Ending.
      • Even The Eyre Affair offers no explanation for the fact that Jane ended up getting taken in by the Rivers family.
      • Jane is not "hallucinating" someone calling her name. In the novel's universe, Rochester is calling Jane mentally. It sounds like a hallucination to modern readers, but in the 1840s many people, even scientists, believed that such a thing could happen.
    • Villette is an even worse offender. British heroine Lucy Snowe goes to work at a school for girls in some French-type country (most likely Belgium), and it so happens to be the school where her god-brother serves as a doctor. Also, her potential romance with Dr. John is stopped abruptly when the woman in France he mysteriously rescues from a burning theatre happens to be the former ward of Dr. John's mother. From England.
    • Shirley, in which Shirley Keeldar's governess also turns out to be Caroline Helstone's mother.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs is another classic example; he was particularly fond of having separated characters be unexpectedly reunited while lost in the middle of thousands of square kilometers of jungle, ocean, and/or trackless wasteland.
    • The climax of The Return of Tarzan has Tarzan, his best friend, his cousin, and his estranged love interest, each on separate journeys with different destinations, all wind up in the same patch of African jungle. For bonus coincidence, it's the same patch of jungle where Tarzan grew up, which he was attempting to avoid and none of the others could have found if they'd tried.
    • The first Pellucidar novel, At the Earth's Core. The main character, after coming to the inner world of Pellucidar, immediately meets a beautiful girl who happens to be a princess, an old man who happens to be a king, and soon after a young man who happens to be yet another king. Needless to say, he will need the help of all these royals and their kingdoms later in the story.
    • In Gods of Mars, John Carter is talking to a fellow prisoner, who speaks of his father. When John Carter asks who is his father is, he gets to "My father is — " before they are interrupted. So they get to escape before a third companion calls Carter by name, to get the reaction, "I am his son."
  • Tom Clancy's novels enjoy this. Any Jack Ryan novel features some coincidental happening that forces Ryan to play some greater role than his job actual requires, often leading to him saving the day. It started small in The Hunt for Red October, with a helicopter carrying a pair of Royal Navy officers being lost when their helicopter had a catastrophic failure in flight, resulting in Ryan being flown out to supervise the "rescue" of a Soviet submarine despite his not speaking a word of Russian, and finally culminated in Debt of Honor when the President, the Supreme Court and most of Congress is killed by a pilot who'd managed to steal and pilot a 747 across the Pacific Ocean and the continental United States by himself to crash it into the Capitol, all moments after Ryan is confirmed as Vice President.
  • Charles Dickens was the Grand Champion of coincidentally plunking long lost relatives together in convoluted plots. In fact, it would probably be easier to list the books of his that don't employ this type of plot twist.
    • David Copperfield: At one point the entire denouement hinges on Mr Micawber a) just happening to be in Canterbury, and b) just happening to walk past the Heeps' door (which is c) wide open due to nice weather) on d) the one day - and hour - that David has been invited to tea within. This in a book that already depends pretty heavily on characters just happening to run into one another, frequently on the streets of London, then as now one of the biggest and busiest urban metropolises in the world.
    • In Martin Chuzzlewit, to wrap things up during the happy ending, Mark Tapley happens to randomly bump into the couple that they left behind as their nextdoor neighbours in the "town" of Eden. This even though the couple were last seen in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in central USA, and the ending happens in London. (The fact that the woman in the couple is the same woman that Mark befriended on the boat to America was already a coincidence in itself.) With Dickens it's easier just to think of it as a form of Narrative Causality by which his universe ensures that anybody necessary for the plot happens to be exactly where they need to be, even if they're on the wrong continent.
    • Oliver Twist: Oliver is an orphan in a town 75 miles from London who runs away to the big city and falls in with a gang of thieves. Obviously, the mark in the first pickpocketing caper he's involved with turns out to be an old friend of his father's. After getting kidnapped by the crooks, he's forced to get involved in a burglary. This time the victim turns out to be his mother's sister.
    • In Great Expectations, a coincidence that is central to the plot is the fact that Miss Havisham has the same lawyer as Pip's real benefactor, Magwitch the convict. However, for no good reason other than to tie up loose ends, it also turns out that Magwitch's nemesis is the same man who left Miss Havisham at the altar, and that Magwitch is Estella's father.
    • A Tale of Two Cities: Dr. Manet is sent to the Bastille by a French noble. Years later, in Englan, he and his daughter Lucy are witnesses at a trial for man who's lawyer's partner happens to look enough like the defendant to create reasonable doubt. Manet's daughter falls in love with and marries Darnet, the defendant. It then turns out that Darnet is the son of the nobleman who sent Dr. Manet to the Bastille in the first place. Also, one of the prosecution witnesses against Darnet turns up in Revolutionary France in a position where he can be blackmailed into helping save Darnet from the guillotine.
  • Stephen King examples:
    • Happens many times in IT: the children of those involved in the events of 1958 turn out to be involved in the events of 1985, while their ancestors turn out to have been involved in past incidents with IT. Ben goes to the library in both 1958 and 1985 and hears the librarian telling the same story. The molds that the kids use to make silver slugs to kill IT turn out to have been purchased from an iron factory IT caused to blow up. Etc. Lampshaded in the following quote:
      It was one of those odd quirks of fate or coincidence which sometimes obtain (and which, in truth, obtain more frequently in Derry).
    • Averted in the Book Within a Book Misery's Return in Misery: Paul is well aware that it would come off as too much of a coincidence for two women in the same town to have been Buried Alive, so he comes up with a way to link the two events.
    • "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption": It just so happens that Tommy Williams shared a cell at Thomaston with Elwood Blatch, the man who really killed Andy Dufresne's wife (a fact Tommy happens to be privy to because Blatch bragged about the crime). It just so happens that Tommy ends up at Shawshank, where Andy is incarcerated.
    • In the "Notes" section of Skeleton Crew, King describes an outlandish coincidence he claims actually happened to him. When he was an undergraduate, he submitted a story called "The Float" (an earlier version of "The Raft") to a men's magazine, which would pay only upon publication of the story. Later that year, while driving around late at night in the town of Orono, a traffic cone that road workers had failed to remove knocked his car's muffler loose from its tailpipe. Angered, King decided to drive around town picking up other traffic cones which had also been left out. He had picked up a good number of them when he was pulled over by an Orono cop, who took him into custody. The judge levied a fine against King of $250 – which he didn't have. Looking at 30 days in jail if he couldn't come up with the money, King saw no way out — until a check for $250 came in the mail from the men's magazine to which he'd submitted "The Float".
  • P. G. Wodehouse actually created his character Mr. Mulliner, a fisherman who spins tales at his local pub, so as to use story-ideas which feature flagrant examples of this trope.

  • The Adventures of Blue Avenger by Norma Howe argues that this trope falls under Reality Is Unrealistic. Unlikely coincidences happen all the time, and Million-to-One Chance events are pretty common in a world with nearly seven billion people. So here comes one...
  • Animorphs:
    • The entire series is just one small part of an epic cosmic struggle between Crayak and the Ellimist, so there are more than a few moments in the books that are just chalked up to "the Ellimist did it." However, there is one very specific instance that is lampshaded: In their war on Earth, the Yeerks are the pawns of Crayak, while the Animorphs are the (begrudging) soldiers of the Ellimist. The deal between the two meant that the Animorphs were supposed to consist of six random humans. Instead, we've got Ax (an Andalite, and Elfangor's brother), Tobias (Elfangor's son), Marco (the son of Visser One's host body), and Cassie (a sub-temporal grounded anomaly, who's mere existence means any attempts to alter the timeline will be doomed to failure). And yes, that means Jake and Rachel are the normal ones. The Drode (Crayak's Dragon) notes that this is impossible, and accuses the Ellimist of stacking the deck.
    • And while it's confirmed that Rachel was actually an accident, Jake is not only a natural leader with a gift for strategy and tactics, but also the brother of a host, and therefore has an incredible motivation to fight. On top of THAT, the other humans are all tied to him, so that they all look up to him already—Rachel is his cousin, Marco is his childhood best friend, Tobias was saved from bullies by him and counts him as something of a friend, and Cassie and he had Ship Tease going on before the series even started. More stacking the deck? Impossible.
    • There are several apparent ones in Book #27, but it is ultimately an aversion. Erik is left unable to move or project his hologram, so the Animorphs carry him out of the mall. There was a major sale, so virtually everyone was elsewhere in the mall and all the cameras are down. They take a bus, and the bus driver doesn't notice. This makes them suspicious. Later, when they realize they will need a sperm whale morph, a sperm whale "happens" to beach itself. This they all realize can't be a coincidence, and that someone is pulling the strings. The Drode turns out to have been behind all of it.
  • The Avenging Chance: At the beginning, Sheringham mentions how many mysteries are solved by such a coincidence, as if chance itself were avenging the victim. The case is ultimately solved by such an event.

  • In Beastly, Kyle just happens to meet Lindsy, the girl who would break his curse, on the same night he was cursed. He also just happened to give her a rose corsage, which was the only thing that convinced Kendra to give him a chance to break the curse at all. At the end of the book, there's one that's also a Shout-Out to Jane Eyre, when Kyle hears Lindsy screaming for help through the magic mirror, giving him enough warning to find and rescue her from a kidnapper. This happens the last night in his time period to break the curse and happens to be the event that leads to the curse being broken.
  • In Lawrence Block's The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian, Bernie gives up on trying to get into the nigh-impregnable Charlemagne and goes to a bar around the corner to get a drink. While there he just happens to be approached by a middle-aged resident of the Charlemagne who just happens to be fond of taking strange young men back to her apartment for the night.

  • Captain Underpants: The Captain had these in a few books.
    • The 4th book The Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants, opened with George and Harold having to stay at school during a class trip. For revenge, they rig the teacher's lounge to spray the teachers with glue and Styrofoam pellets, turning them into "snowmen". This leads to the science teacher retiring after seeing them, thinking he's gone nuts. Thus, Professor Poopypants takes up the now-open job of science teacher, leading to the main plot.
    • The aliens attacking the school in the third book use "Zombie Nerd Juice" to turn all the students into zombie nerds. All it takes to change them back is a dose of the conveniently available, lampshaded generously, "Anti-Evil Zombie Nerd Juice".
    • A dandelion happens to grow right outside the window where George pours the "Ultra-Evil Growth Juice" out of. It goes horribly wrong.
    • Subverted for laughs in the 7th book, where the Captain jumps out a window to take flight, unaware that he has lost his superpowers. He falls several stories to the ground, and crashes onto the only patch of ground not covered by extra fluffy pillows, a trampoline, or a haystack.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
    • The book has this with regards to the fates of the four bratty kids. Willy Wonka, leading them through his factory, keeps making stopovers in rooms and/or giving demonstrations of things that, in turn, appeal to each of the brats. Each disobeys him and gets an instant-karmic punishment for their trouble. Although the tour does turns out to be a Secret Test of the kids' virtue or lack thereof, there is no hint given in the novel that Mr. Wonka is intentionally leading these kids into potential/inevitable trouble, and no one remarks upon how odd it is that the Oompa-Loompas' Crowd Songs about them are so specific and elaborate. Given that Mr. Wonka is also marked by his Callousness Towards Emergency and having No Sympathy for the brats, and for being a complete eccentric, he has since become an Interpretative Character and some adaptations of the novel have played around with this trope.
    • In the 2005 film adaptation, Mr. Wonka is actually questioned over how "rehearsed" and detailed the Oompa-Loompas' first Crowd Song is. He chalks it up to skilled improvisation, nothing more...
    • The 2013 stage musical has one outright example of this trope and it factors into The Reveal. At the very beginning Willy Wonka, in a bout of self-pity, ventures into the outside world disguised as a tramp and encounters Charlie at the dump the boy lives near, their conversation revealing to Mr. Wonka that the boy could be the successor he's just launched the Golden Ticket contest to find. Interestingly, this coincidence means that at least a few of the subsequent highly unlikely events involving Charlie, such as his finding the last ticket, were engineered by Mr. Wonka.
  • A particularly egregious case of this trope occurs towards the end of A Clockwork Orange in which the brainwashed and rehabilitated ex-hoodlum Alex just so happens to bump into every single person he ever wronged throughout the course of the book, all within in the same evening. The consequences were dire.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword", Thoth-amon was enslaved because of the loss of his Ring of Power, which just happens to turn up in the hand of a noble he is guarding.
  • In Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the eponymous Yankee's time of execution happens to coincide with a solar eclipse. (Not to even mention that he knew the exact date and time said eclipse would occur despite its status as obscure fourteen-hundred-year-old history.) The real coincidence being that he was the kind of person who would calculate all the solar eclipse dates in the past few millenia for fun... just before getting time warped into the past. This was based on an actual event when Christopher Columbus used an eclipse to frighten the natives in Jamaica, except that a) it was a lunar eclipse, not a solar one, b) Columbus had access to astronomical journals which calculated it and c) Columbus had to wait months for the eclipse to arrive. In short, the real event was coincidental, but much less unlikely.

  • Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time runs on this. In a cycle of twelve novels tracing the lives of a group of upper-class English people from the 1920s to the 1970s, characters keep coincidentally running into each other or finding unexpected connections to people they used to know. The constant use of coincidence is lampshaded in one of the later novels, which quotes the mystic cult leader Dr. Trelawney as saying: "Coincidence is no more than magic in action."
  • Dancing Aztecs:
    • While fleeing the house of Bud Beemis after checking his statute, Mel runs into Eddie and Jenny, who are just going on a road trip with their statues (which kept Frank and Floyd from finding them at their house), with the narration even calling this the kind of coincidence that no Hollywood movie would try to get away with.
      • And then the cop who arrests Mel in the aftermath of that incident turns out to be a client of his literary agency, causing him to let Mel go.
    • The owner of one of the statues recognizes Frank due to both of them working at the same theater. Jerry describes the social combinations necessary for this as mind-boggling.
    • Mel once sold a car to a relative of Wylie Cheshire and is recognized for it while robbing his house.
  • Adams also used this trope a lot in his Dirk Gently novels, this time without the excuse of the Infinite Improbability Drive. Rather, Dirk's convoluted "holistic" philosophy of detection — which he'd concocted purely as an excuse to charge trips to Majorca on the expense accounts of clients whose cats go missing in London — actually seems to work for him, no doubt to his disgust.
    • As does his 'zen' method of navigation; find a car that looks like it knows where it's going and follow it. You won't get to where you wanted to go, but you will end up where you needed to be.
  • Discworld:
    • In Guards! Guards!, it is stated that a chance of one in a million holds true in nine of ten cases. This "universal truth" is later used by a bunch of people in a (failed) attempt to slay a dragon. And then accidentally, when it's a million-to-one chance that they won't die in the ensuing chaos. Naturally, they're fine.
    • Rincewind's life is one Contrived Coincidence after another. This is explained as the interference of Luck The Lady herself.
    • In fact, the plot of Interesting Times is explained away as a battle between the personifications of Luck and Fate.
    • In Maskerade, the supposedly foreign Enrico Basilica announces on stage that he is returning to his Morporkian birth-name of Henry Slug. A woman in the audience, who has never attended the opera before and probably never will again, is present to recognise the name of her long-lost beau. Agnes refuses to believe this sort of thing happens, but Nanny Ogg points out reality is currently conforming to the rules of opera, where it happens all the time.
    • In Jingo, it looks as though Vimes is about to become a victim of 'friendly fire' when he comes face-to-face with one of the few men in the city who'd recognise him instantly: his own butler.
    • In Snuff, it is mentioned that this sort of thing happens all the time to Colon and Nobby. It's one of the reasons why they're still on the (otherwise fairly respectable now) force (apparently, one time a major case was solved because something tried to lay an egg in Nobby's nose). The one that is relevant to the plot in that book is that Colon happens to buy a cigar with a goblin Soul Jar pot in it.
  • In Bram Stoker's Dracula, when Dracula goes to England he chooses to arrive in Whitby. Fair enough... except that Mina Murray, the fiancée of Jonathan Harker — the man Dracula hired to find a house for him in England — happens to be on holiday there at the exact same time he arrives. What's more, Lucy Westenra — Mina's best friend — is one of Dracula's very first victims. And it doesn't stop there: one of Lucy's suitors, Dr. Seward, happens to be in charge of a lunatic asylum practically next door to Dracula's aforementioned new house. But wait, there's still more! Seward's friend and mentor, Abraham van Helsing, just so happens to know a lot about vampires and how to ward them off or kill them. Phew.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • This goes hand-in-hand with being a Knight of the Cross-in fact, they basically weaponize it. When Michael needs to go out in the evening to help Harry save the day, Harry is worried about leaving Michael's children alone. Michael (without even looking) opens the front door to reveal Father Forthill about to knock, who just happens to be there because his car has broken down — and, having some previous experience with this sort of thing, immediately guesses that Michael needs a babysitter. When an old women in a desperate situation prays "Dear God in Heaven, help us!" the very next instant Sanya shows up.
    • One example that looks like this to everyone watching (except Harry) in Blood Rites involves a "bad luck" curse directed towards a specific person. Harry finds the magical energy and redirects it to one of his current attackers, a vampire. This manifests as Harry doing something vaguely magical, and the vampire getting nuked from orbit by a frozen turkey. And the pop-up timer goes "ding".
      Everyone stopped to blink at that for a second. I mean, come on. Impaled by a guided frozen turkey missile. Even by the standards of the quasi-immortal creatures of the night, that ain't something you see twice.
      "For my next trick," I panted into the startled silence, "anvils."
    • The RPG (which uses the FUDGE spinoff FATE) explicitly has this as a mechanic. Players can spend a Fate Point to make a Declaration, which the book describes as letting one create a convenient coincidence. The examples given are a character having a cigarette lighter right when he needs one despite never smoking, or showing up during a dramatic scene just in time to help out. One of the Faith powers (Guide My Hand) lets a character do this without spending the fate point.
  • In Dune, House Atreides and all its retainers are scattered to the winds all across the planet Arrakis, and some even father, after the family is attacked by the Harkonnens. Two years later, Paul spots a smugglers' ship and sets a trap for it... and this just so happens to be the same group of smugglers that his mentor Gurney Halleck fell in with after the attack, and he's on that very ship.

  • The heroes of SM Stirling's Emberverse novels at first appear to be the beneficiaries of a whole honking string of these, but it gradually becomes clear they are getting very powerful behind-the-scenes help from somewhere. Also, as several characters in the book point out, anyone that survived a global calamity on the scale of The Change had to have been very, very lucky.

  • Flashman and the Angel of the Lord requires Flashman to join John Brown on his famous raid. The only way this could be arranged is so contrived that Flash himself points it out; "I'd not have been a within a thousand miles of Harper's Ferry, or blaster Brown, but for the ghastliest series of mischances: three hellish coincidences-three mark you!-that even Dickens wouldn't have dared use for fear of being hooted at in the street.
  • Isaac Asimov's The Foundation Trilogy:
    • "The Merchant Princes": When Hober Mallow visits Korell, he is in a out-of-the-way spaceport, with the nearest city 150 kilometers away, when a priest appears, immediately followed by a mob. This fact clues Mallow in the fact that it is a ruse played by the Korellian leaders to prevent the Religion of Science from spreading to their world.
    • "The Mule": The forces of the Mule happens to launch their big attack against the Foundation at the exact same time as the Founding Day appearance of Hari Seldon. There is no indication that they knew the timing beforehand.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's Freckles, Angel goes to the orphanage to track down the clothing left with Freckles, to find she's just in time to have missed it; his aunt and uncle have just taken them in their despair, and are just about to leave America for Ireland, being unable to find their nephew.

  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, Phaethon ponders whether a meeting is coincidence or arranged by the Earthmind, an AI with a trillion times the brain power of a human such as himself.

  • In Handle with Care, the jury pool for Charlotte's trial just so happens to include her lawyer's biological mother.
  • The Han Solo Trilogy: Bria's forced wedding date and Mrrov getting shipped off the planet to slavery fall on the same day, so both can be rescued at once.
  • Deconstructed, Lampshaded, and Played Straight in book 36 of Hank the Cowdog, where Hank mocks the titular Raging Rottweiler and his pal Drover just knows he’ll come back for them. Hank explains that in real life that would be too much of a coincidence and is unrealistic. Sure enough, they never see him again...until 20 minutes later.
  • A lot in Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:
      • Harry and Ron just happen to be in Hagrid's hut on the night he gets arrested, learning information that helps him advance the plot.
      • Subverted; the one whose possessions Lucius Malfoy slipped Riddle's diary into and who was manipulated by him as a result just happened to be the sister of Harry's friend Ron, Ginny-but this is actually explained to be because Lucius hated Ginny and Ron's father.
      • If you believe that a certain Headmaster had nothing to do with it, the victims of the Basilisk were stupendously lucky - they all just happened to look it in the eyes indirectly, so they got petrified instead of killed. Said indirect ways include: in a puddle of spilled water, through a camera (in the dark of the night, mind you), and through a ghost. The last victim specifically used a mirror to look around the corner, but the timing was still impeccable - if she was attacked half an hour earlier, she'd been dead, but if the Basilisk lingered a few more minutes, she would've reached a member of faculty with her newfound knowledge of the attacker's identity, and the whole plot would've been screwed.
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
      • The plot kicks off because 1) The Weasley's win the wizard lottery, 2) This gets them a large front-page picture, 3) Ron's pet rat is in said picture, and 4) Cornelius Fudge just happens to be carrying this exact issue when he goes to visit Sirius Black.
      • Ron becomes Harry's best friend. His pet rat (actually a human) just happens to be responsible for the murder of Harry's parents.
      • The magic map that Harry received from Fred and George, who had originally found it in Filch's office, just happened to have been created by his (Harry's) father and his friends. And he (Harry) received it on the same year that one of those friends (Lupin) happened to be a teacher at the school (which was also the ONLY year in which he was a Hogwarts teacher), conveniently leading to him (Lupin) getting it back after Harry was caught breaking the school's rules and Snape (the one who caught him) decided to take Harry to Lupin.
      • Not to mention that Lupin just so happens to be working at Hogwarts the year that Sirius (one of his best friends) escapes from Azkaban, allowing the two to reconcile and allowing Lupin to save Sirius. Had Lupin not been the teacher, assuming all other things worked out roughly the same, there would have been no one Harry trusted to vouch for Sirius, who wasn't exactly articulate as to who he was there to kill or why, meaning Snape's arrival on the scene would have preempted any explanation and Sirius would have been recaptured.
      • And of course, the one year that the plot relies on Time Travel just so happens to be the one year that Hermione is capable of it.
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a servant of Voldemort looking for his master just so happens to meet with the only person in the witcharding world who can give the location of another, much more capable servant.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix during the final battle Voldermort lingers just long enough for the Minister of Magic to arrive to the scene and see him thus granting previously lacking ground to Harry's and DD's claims of his return. Of course, it does help that he was tied up in a duel with Dumbledore (which seems to have been Dumbledore's intention all along, though of course it's ambiguous).
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, if it was indeed a chance and not one of Dumbledore's Gambit Roulettes, then it was one hell of a coincidence that Harry was the one to receive Snape's old potion book full of nifty hints that won him a plot-essential luck potion and directed to the solution that saved Ron's life. Both assassination attempts by Draco Malfoy only failed to claim lives due to contrived coincidences.
      • In this book, Felix Felicis, lucky potion, works by exploiting contrived coincidences-Harry "accidentally" bumps into Ginny, leading to her having an argument with Dean and breaking up with him; Filch conveniently forgets to lock the doors, Slughorn just happens to be coming out of the greenhouses when Harry is there, etc.
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
      • Right at the beginning, when dozens of Death Eaters chase Harry and his six impersonators the Order used as a diversion, naturally it's the real Harry who is engaged by the only Death Eater he could possibly feel sorry for, which made him hold his hand leading to his exposure.
      • Later the Trio are looking for a very important locket. Not only did they happen to pay special attention to that specific locket out of all the assorted junk in a mansion a couple years ago, but then it turns out, that out of hundreds or thousands of wizards who could have bought the locket from a petty thief who stole it, it was not only a person that the kids knew, but the one with a peculiar enough appearance that the thief would remember her and they would recognize her from his sketchy description.
      • Then the Trio infiltrates the Ministry of Magic to track down that one particular person, and they disguise themselves as random Ministry officials. Almost immediately one of those disguises is invited by their mark to assist her at a hearing in a conveniently secluded location where they can safely steal the locket. Plus, in the film all the folks they impersonate with Polyjuice Potion (being just the first three people they could steal hair from) just happen to have the same hair colors as the actual Trio, so viewers can still easily know who is who.
      • In all of Britain, Harry, Ron, and Hermione happen to be camping right near some goblins when they reveal plot information about the sword.
      • When Voldemort needs to check if Harry is dead, he chooses out of the dozens of his followers the only one who would have a reason to lie to him.
      • Harry only receives critical information because V murders Snape at a very particular time and in a very particular way and doesn't check if he's immediately dead.
      • Harry and his friends found out about the Deathly Hallows because they asked Xenophilius Lovegood about the Sign of the Deathly Hallows. Harry knew that he knew about the sign because Xenophilius happened to wear a golden chain with it on his neck when both he and Harry attended Bill and Fleur's wedding. And Harry had only taken notice of this golden chain and remembered the sign because Krum was also attending and became outraged when he saw it and told Harry that it was the mark of Grindelwald, who had killed Krum's grandfather.
      • All three Deathly Hallows (i.e.: legendary, one of a kind items highly sought by many) came to Harry's hands as a result of the trope: The Cloak of Invisibility just happened to be a family heirloom that Harry inherited. Harry became the owner of the Elder Wand (which saved his life in the end) because he just happened to disarm its owner, Draco. Neither Draco nor Harry were aware that Draco was the owner, and Harry didn't even know that disarming someone made one the new owner of their wand. Harry received the Resurrection Stone from Dumbledore, who got it by accident when he was tracking down the Horcruxes, as Voldermort had turned it into one. And Voldemort had it because it was a family heirloom; he wasn't even aware that it was one of the Deathly Hallows.
      • Everything that relays to the Malfoy Manor incident and the Cup of Hufflepuff is one massive ball of coincidences. The heroes are captured because Harry randomly blurts out Voldemort's name. Their captors suddenly decide against taking them to the Ministry as they were supposed to do, and they cannot summon Voldemort directly, so they take them to the Malfoy Manor instead. While there, the Malfoys drag their feet with calling Voldemort long enough for Bellatrix Lestrange, who just happens to also be there at the time, to come in, see that the kids have the Sword of Gryffindor, which they have only recently acquired, and freak out, because the sword was supposed to be in her bank vault, and she's also the one Death Eater that Voldemort entrusted his Soul Jar, which she also placed inside the vault. This causes her to delay summoning Voldemort and put the kids in a dungeon cell (and she's also a psychotic sadist, so she opts for prolonged torture to find out about the sword instead of a quick mind probe). They escape because the guard duty was given to the only Death Eater who was in Harry's debt and would have any reason to hesitate to stop him. While they're at it, they save a group of people kidnapped by the villains, which just happens to include a goblin (the same goblin Harry met on his first day at Gringotts, no less), who can help them sneak into the bank vault, and someone who can serve as Mr. Exposition to tell them about the Elder Wand to boot.
      • Tracking down and the destruction of Ravenclaw's diadem is also only possible because of a string of coincidences. It just happens to be the random thing Harry picked up and put on a bust's head to mark it a year earlier, which unlike the other horcruxes is conveniently not hidden or protected by any means due to Voldermort's villain stupidity. Helena Ravenclaw just happens to be the house ghost of Ravenclaw and also the only person who knows what's happened to her mother's diadem. Then one of the dumbest students happens to conjure up a powerful magical fire that can destroy horcruxes, which accidentally touches it, but is not engulfed in it, allowing the heroes to know for certain that it's destroyed.
      • Voldemort decides to stop a battle to bring forth the Sorting Hat, the only thing that can conjure the only item that can destroy horcruxes and is convenient for killing snakes, and the one that's both of those things happens to be nearby.
      • Dumbledore's plan and many of his predictions relied on this trope happening to ridiculous extents. Given what we learn of Dumbledore late in the series, it's entirely possible any or all of the above were deliberately engineered by him.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy pokes fun at this a lot.
    • Most famously, when Douglas Adams had his main characters, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, thrown out an airlock into space, he realised anything that saved their lives at this point would be a Contrived Coincidence. Rather than Handwave this, he gave it the biggest lampshade he could think of, by inventing a space drive that creates Contrived Coincidences as a side-effect of its nonsensoleum.
    • And that space ship in question just happens to contain not only Arthur's old almost-lover, who by sheer coincidence was originally introduced to him at a party in an Islington flat that had the same phone number as the probability of Arthur and Ford being saved, but it is also piloted by Ford's long-lost cousin who is not only the president of the entire universe and the guy that stole away Arthur's almost-lover right in front of him with a corny pick-up line at said party in Islington, no, he also JUST SO HAPPENED to be the guy who blew up the Earth because of his astounding negligence.
    • Eddie, the ship's computer, calculated the odds of the above actually happening to be one in two to the power of infinity minus one. When DNA contrives coincidences he takes the cake... and makes the Total Perspective Vortex out of it.
  • The Hobbit:
    • The party arrive at Rivendell and get Elrond to read their map on Midsummer's Eve — which just happens to be the right day (the first in several years, and the last for who-knows-how-many more years) in which some secret Moon Runes hidden on the map can be seen and read; they are only visible on a Midsummer's Eve on which a moon of the exact same phase as the one on the date they were written, shines through them.
    • The movie lampshades this. "Fate is with you, Thorin Oakenshield..."
    • A real life example comes from The Silmarillion. Númenor is meant to be an analogue to Atlantis, an advanced and powerful island nation that sinks below the sea eventually. Strangely, when Tolkien was working out what the Quenya name for Númenor would be, he realized that the word Downfall would be translated into Quenya as Atalantë, going off the pre-established root lant meaning "fall"
  • Quite literally the entire plot of Holes is made up of a series of these. First, Stanley Yelnats is caught with a stolen pair of shoes. To avoid jail, he goes to Camp Greenlake, once a lake but long since dried up into desert, where boys dig a hole every day, supposedly to cure them of their criminal behaviour but actually to look for a treasure buried by a bandit called Kissin' Kate Barlow. There, in his group, is the boy who actually stole the shoes, who happened to drop them off a bridge Stanley was walking under, allowing Stanley to catch them in time to be caught with them and sentenced to Camp Greenlake. Stanley's family is cursed with bad luck because his ancestor didn't fulfill a promise to a one-legged gypsy to carry her up a mountain to drink from a special stream and sing her a song while she drank; the boy who actually stole the shoes is a descendant of this gypsy, and without knowing this, Stanley carries this boy up a different mountain and sings the song to him while he drinks from a stream, thus curing his family's bad luck. (For bonus points, both Stanley's ancestor and the gypsy lived in Latvia, and their descendants both happened to move to the same US state independent of each other.) While on this mountain, they take refuge under a boat owned by a man who was in love with a schoolteacher, the aforementioned Kate Barlow, who later robbed one of Stanley's ancestors of a box containing some documents and semi-precious gems, and happened to bury this box on the future site of Camp Greenlake, almost exactly where Stanley had once dug a hole as part of his time at Camp Greenlake, which Stanley eventually finds. The chances of all of these happening in order for the plot to turn out the way it did is astronomical.
  • Discussed in How Not To Write A Novel, in "Why Your Job is Harder than God's." In brief, when a writer throws in an improbable coincidence, it can turn into a great story or a terrible one, depending on whether it is a Deus ex Machina or else the start of an adventure. The writers note, for example, that the readers will hate a story where a protagonist's problems are all solved when they find an unexplained briefcase full of money - but may like a story when the protagonist's problems start when they find an unexplained briefcase full of money. A reader's acceptance of these coincidences must be very carefully considered lest the author lose the goodwill of the reader.
  • The Hunger Games:
    • Actually used in-universe in Catching Fire. The Capitol hosts a special Hunger Games every 25 years called the Quarter Quell have a twist on the rules to further intimidate the Districts. (e.g. Year 25, an election is held to choose the tributes, rather than names being drawn. 50th year, twice the amount of tributes are reaped, so 47 kids die.) They claim that the twist for each Quell was predetermined at the very beginning, for centuries and centuries of Hunger Games, but for Year 75, they proclaim that the tributes will be reaped from the existing pool of victors, meaning they'll have to go back into the Arena. Just when the main character Katniss — the only female victor in her District — had accidentally incited uprisings in the Districts. None of the main characters believe that it's "coincidence".
    • In a straight usage of the trope, the Capitol was only able to target Katniss through the Quarter Quell because she happened to compete (and consequently incite uprisings) in a year immediately prior to a Quarter Quell. This occurred as a result of a random drawing. To make it even less likely, Katniss' name was not the one drawn, despite her name being in the drawing multiple times. Instead, she volunteered as replacement when her sister's name was drawn—her sister had only one entry in the drawing and was thus among those with the lowest odds of being chosen.
    • Before the Quarter Quell announcement, President Snow actually averted this as a reason why he doesn't just kill Katniss for the berry stunt and make it look like an accident. Even he knows that no one would buy it.

  • In the Jack Reacher novel The Killing Floor, Reacher just happens to wander into the same town that his brother, who he hasn't spoken to in years, is murdered in just before his arrival.

  • After several days of fruitless searching in the Knight and Rogue Series Fisk points to a stable boy and says they may as well ask him for all the good it would do, and the boy just happens to be the only person in town with information they can use.

  • A Little Princess: Well, it is by a Victorian novelist: the old gent who moves in next door turns out to be looking for a particular young lady who is due to inherit a great deal of money. Since the 'Indian Gentleman' is not even sure which CITY the little girl was sent to school in, it's somewhat serendipitous that he happens to move in next door from the right girl.
  • Halfway through Looking for Alaska, a fatal car accident takes place. The accident is prompted by a very long-winded For Want of a Nail scenario involving two forgotten anniversaries just happening to fall on the same day in that particular year, a random phone call from the absolute worst possible person at the absolute worst possible time, the deceased character absentmindedly drawing something that reminds them of something else, and several other factors as well.
  • Lampshaded in several Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey stories, in which Peter discusses with an author the annoying fact that coincidences look contrived in stories, even though they happen all the time in real life.
  • There are several in Jane Austen's Love and Freindship, such as the meeting of the grandfather and his four grandchildren, but one when Laura can't talk without reminding Sophia of her troubles, and when Sophia begs to talk to distract her, and a carriage overturns, is enough for Laura to remark on it. That the carriage happens to be carrying their husbands doesn't, however.

  • Lampshaded in Malevil. Emmanuel is stunned by the unlikelihood of the following events: Vilmain's men take La Roque the night before he planned to, they would have walked into a trap the next night when attempting it themselves. The only reason they don't is because of the scouts caught investigating Malevil in the morning; Emmanuel breaks his own orders and captures one rather then killing him, and the scout turns out to be a friend who wants to defect and warns them of their new enemies.
    "Realizing that your life depends on such absurd coincidences, that's something that makes for modesty."
  • In L. M. Montgomery's The Materialization of Duncan McTavish, an Old Maid keeps from girls from pitying her by claiming to have a romance and to have quarreled with him. You can guess the rest from the title.
  • In The Merchant Princes Series, Miriam's ex-boyfriend is a DEA agent. Given that fact, it's not a coincidence that he was pulled in by The Men in Black to hunt down the Clan (any government agent of any kind would do), but it is a huge coincidence that he's the guy Matthias defected to, spilling the whole story about the Clan itself.
  • In George Eliot's Middlemarch, Bulstrode turns out to be Will Ladislaw's step-grandfather. This, together with the way in which Raffles tracks down Bulstrode in the first place, is quite a large coincidence. Raffles's surprise on his discovery acknowledges that it's a coincidence, but Bulstrode's relationship to Ladislaw is glossed over. How did Bulstrode come to be living in the same area as Will, when one would have thought he'd want to avoid any association? A relatively subtle example by 19th-century standards, though, and nothing on Dickens.
  • In Midnight’s Children, exactly 420 midnight children die before Saleem can contact them, which seems like an oddly significant number for seemingly random deaths. Saleem himself briefly wonders if there was some higher purpose to it.
    Inevitably, a number of these children failed to survive. Malnutrition, disease and the misfortunes of everyday life had accounted for no less than four hundred and twenty of them by the time I became conscious of their existence; although it is possible to hypothesize that these deaths, too, had their purpose, since 420 has been, since time immemorial, the number associated with fraud, deception, and trickery. Can it be, then, that the missing infants were eliminated because they had turned out to be somehow inadequate, and were not the true children of that midnight hour? [...] It is [...] an unanswerable question; any further examination of it is therefore pointless.
  • Les Misérables has some of the more spectacular Contrived Coincidences in literature.
    • Marius's grandfather is (apparently) the father of two little bastards by his housemaid; he fires her, but pays her a substantial allowance to support them. When they die, to keep from losing her income, she takes in two children about their ages — who just happen to be the two youngest Thenardier kids. And when these two are thrown out onto the streets, who do they take up with? Why, Gavroche... who never uses the name "Thenardier", and who's forgotten that he ever had two younger brothers.
    • Also, Valjean is being pursued by the police through the alleyways of Paris. He climbs over a wall into a convent. And who's that working as the gardener? Why, it's that guy whose life he saved a few chapters ago! (Parisian population at the time: over 600,000...)
    • Another spectacular example: The Thenardiers lure a wealthy man into their home, first to beg for money, later to extract it from him. This man is Jean Valjean, his adopted daughter is Cosette, who has lived with the Thenardiers before. Their neighbour is Marius, who fell in love with Cosette after watching her on the streets of Paris, and whose father was saved by Thenardier at the Battle of Waterloo. When Marius informs the police of the plot, he meets Inspector Javert, who is pursuing Jean Valjean. Additionally, this all happens in exactly the same house Jean Valjean and Cosette had lived in years ago.
    • Also, there's the two incidents Valjean using his great strength to save two separate men, who are trapped in similar accidents. Both incidents are witnessed by Javert, decades apart.
    • Really, classical literature in general loves this trope.
    • The narrator establishes Javert as unnaturally lucky. This would explain how out of all the towns for him to become a police inspector in, he became one in a town whose mayor was a parole-breaking ex-convict Javert guarded, and still recognized. Then a different ex-convict gets mistaken for Jean Valjean, right after Javert had (correctly) pegged Monsieur Madeleine as him. After the encounter at the Thenardier's apartment mentioned above, Javert became a spy at the same barricade Valjean joins to save Marius, allowing him to save Javert's life. Mere hours after that, Javert happens to be chasing Thenardier, only to find Jean Valjean saving Marius' life.

  • The Neverending Story: Bastian believes two events are this in the book with the book. The first is when he screams, the characters hear a scream. That was justified in thinking it a coincidence. The second is when Atreyu is looking into the Magic Mirror, the second gate to the Southern Oracle. He sees Bastian and the description Bastian reads is an exact description of him and his surroundings. It freaks him out, but Bastian tries to think of it as a coincidence.
  • The Night of Wishes: The required amount for one of the potion's ingredients depends on the drinker's favorite color. This causes an argument between Beelzebub and Tyrannia over who will drink the potion until they learn that their respective favorite colors require the same amount.

  • Played for drama in The Pledge, when the police attempt to set up a trap to catch a child murderer. But, unbeknownst to them, said murderer has died in a car crash on his way there, so they never actually catch him, or even find out who he was. It drives the protagonist so far up the insanity tree that he insists to keep waiting for him for the rest of his life.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Mab thinks that Father Christmas being nearby in a mall so they can take refuge is an enormous coincidence. Miranda argues it would only be if they were looking for Father Christmas; instead, they were looking for somewhere, anywhere, safe, and it just happened to be Father Christmas who could swing it.

  • In the Ranger's Apprentice prequel The Tournament at Gorlan, Halt and Crowley just happen to come across Morgarath's messenger, who has a letter in which Morgarath explains his Evil Plan.
    • In the Brotherband series by the same author, the heroes just happen to come across a friendly fisherman who serves as Mr. Exposition.
  • The narrator of Betty Miles' The Real Me writes an essay in which she describes such coincidences in the "horse books" girls her age are supposed to love, in which a poor girl who wants a horse conveniently wins one. When the family wonders where they're going to put it, a nice man offers her father a job in the country, and their new house has a big barn out back. You'd expect someone to say "If you expect this whole family to pack up and move fifty miles just because of some damn horse, you're crazy," she says, but "nobody ever says that in horse books".
  • As Randal Munroe complains in this strip of xkcd, the Redwall books often have the main characters discover some hitherto unnoticed riddle somewhere in the titular abbey, the solution to which just happens to provide them with some necessary advantage against the Monster of the Week.
  • A few in Remote Man but only one is all that implausible: The protagonist Ned runs into an American tourist while staying with his aunt and uncle in the Northern Territory. After joining his mother in Concord, Massachusetts on her long service leave, he stumbles onto a wildlife smuggling operation being run by the same tourist, whose son is incarcerated in Concord Prison.
  • The Rise of Kyoshi: Played for Drama. When all normal methods of finding the new Avatar fail, Jianzhu eventually finds Yun, a talented Earthbender of the appropriate age. While playing a game where he grabs random Pai Sho pieces, he keeps playing all the exact same strategies of Kuruk, the previous Avatar. Pai Sho strategies are said to be as unique as a fingerprint, so Jianzhu takes this as evidence that Yun is Kuruk reborn and names him the Avatar. Except it really was a coincidence, and Yun is just some random Earthbender prodigy.
  • Subverted in The Robots of Dawn. Baley states that it is an amazing coincidence that Daneel was ready in time to be critical for The Caves of Steel case. Dr. Fastolfe remarks there must have been many occasions where he would have been useful, but without him, other means have been found.
  • In Rule of Four, the four leads try to relax a little before graduation at Princeton by playing laser tag in the underground steam tunnels. When they are cornered by campus cops, they escape by joining a public naked party celebrating the first snowstorm of the year. Graduation is in May, and it would be a dry winter if the first New Jersey snow fell in May.

  • In the Sherlock Holmes story Silver Blaze, a horse thief drugs a stable-boy and makes off with a champion race horse on a night when the household just happens to be having lamb curry, a dish containing enough strong spices to mask the flavor of the drugs used to knock out the stable boy, for dinner. Rather unlikely given that the prime suspect happened to be an out-of-towner who was hardly in a position to know the household dinner menu. This, combined with the more famous clue about the dog that didn't bark, led Holmes to conclude that it wasn't a coincidence at all - the thief was the master of the house, who could dictate the dinner menu whenever he wanted to and could get past the dog unmolested at will.
    • The story Blue Carbuncle is set in motion by a jewel thief caching his prize in a Christmas goose, a case of mistaken identity between birds when trying to reclaim his loot, the man who ended up with the bird containing the stolen gem being accosted by ruffians while walking home, causing him to drop the bird, and the dropped bird being found by one of Holmes' neighbors.
  • In Aleksis Kivi's Seven Brothers, The Narrator tells in the beginning that prior to the book's events, when the lands were redistributed in the great partition, the farsighted founder of the Jukola farm had agreed to take a burnt-down forest, and this way had received more land than others. Seven times more, to be exact. The land is normal forest again when the brothers' story begins.
  • Gene Wolfe's Soldier of Sidon is the sequel to Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete. The first two novels are supposedly translated into English by Wolfe from ancient Greek scrolls found in the British Museum. The third volume is said to be a translation of another scroll, found hundreds of miles away in Egypt, which coincidentally turned out to have the same author.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Tyrion Lannister had two extremely coincidental plot-relevant meetings in random pubs strewn across Westeros and Essos; first he just happens to enter the Inn at the Crossroads at the same time as Catelyn Stark, resulting in him being taken prisoner. Eventually, this leads to the War of the Five Kings. Much later, on the run for killing his father, he just so happens to end up in the exact same place as Jorah Mormont, who kidnaps him- again- and is taken to Daenerys.
    • The Catspaw subplot also has a big one; Joffrey selects a weapon from Robert's armory to give to his assassin, yet by complete chance he chooses a blade that's easily tracable and recently exchanged hands. Later, after Littlefinger lies about the knife's owner, not once in the nine months spent at the capital did anyone notice Ned carrying around one of Robert's daggers, or did anyone realize it was missing.
      • The dagger actually did originally belong to Littlefinger, he simply lied about who he had lost it to at the joust. Which just adds to the contrivance. Awfully convenient for him that he's in the same room as someone who knows he's lying (and Littlefinger should know this), but has reasons of his own for keeping this sudden reveal a secret. It is convenient that the dagger wasn't reported as missing, but GRRM attempts to Hand Wave this away in A Storm of Swords with Tywin saying that Robert had dozens of knives that he didn't care about, most of which were gifts from people trying to impress him.
    • Of the ten or so lords Robb could have chosen to command half his armies, he chooses the only one who would potentially betray him.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Millennium Falcon by James Luceno has way too many to preserve willing suspension of disbelief. The heroes decide to figure out the ship's history just as one of its previous pilots regains conscience after a 60-year-long coma. Said pilot starts out from a medical facility one of whose members just so happens to have piloted the Falcon in the past as well. The pilot, the heroes and the mastermind behind the whole thing just so happen to be in the same city of the same planet at the same time. Then they finally get to their target planet right as it's about to blow up.
    • The Millennium Falcon was also at the center of one in The Thrawn Trilogy. To wit, Leia uses the ship to meet with an important contact over Endor, and leaves it in orbit to accompany the contact back to his people. A few days later, Thrawn visits Endor for unrelated reasons and discovers the Falcon, storing it on his flagship while techs try to figure out what it was doing there. Not long afterward, Luke and Mara sneak onto Thrawn's ship to rescue Talon Karrde, and stumble across the Falcon while looking for an escape ship.

  • Thomas Hardy did this a lot as well - The dénouement of Tess of the d'Urbervilles required the title character to run into the man who raped her earlier in the book, while yomping across Dorset, in just the state of mind to consider taking up with him again, and, by the way, he's given up being a country gentleman to be an itinerant preacher in the intervening time...
  • Henrik Ibsen was not oblivious to this. Terje Vigen, his most known poem, uses it to a T: Terje was captured by a young British captain during The Napoleonic Wars, and is imprisoned for five years. Many years after returning to Norway, and working as a coastal pilot, he has to rescue an English yacht before it sinks. The owner of the yacht just happens to be the same captain that arrested him years before, and this man`s daughter just happens to carry the name of Terje`s own daughter who died of starvation because of the British nobleman`s action. The whole thing is so awesome it actually works! Consider that the Norwegian coastline is 100 915 kms long, and the sheer coincidence of crashing into land at the exact spot where Terje lives is even more contrived.
  • In the author's note at the beginning of The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan admits it was written in deliberate emulation of the kind of cheap thriller "where the incidents defy the probabilities, and march just inside the borders of the possible". Throughout the novel, coincidences crop up to save the hero when all hope seems lost or to make things interesting when everything seems to be going smoothly. This continues in the sequels. In Mr Standfast, the hero is staking out a remote and inaccessible Scottish cave where a spy ring will be meeting when the cave is entered by a possible antagonist from earlier in the book — who turns out to be a complete innocent who likes mountain climbing and just happens to be in the area.
  • In Time Scout, paradox doesn't happen. Period. Don't even try. Because something will happen to make it not happen.
  • Similarly, in To Say Nothing of the Dog, the space-time continuum will pick causality over plausibility any day. Erm, any time. Erm, always.
  • In Towards Zero, a wealthy old lady was murdered in her home in Gull's Point. A year before, a random stranger attempted to commit suicide near the location by throwing himself off a cliff, but survived the fall. While lingering about the place to ponder on his life, he becomes involved in the crime and provided an eyewitness account that becomes the key evidence to solve the crime. Superintendent Battle, who was in charge of the case, remarks that this is a miracle.
  • In New Moon, the second Twilight book, Edward's attempted Suicide by Cop at the end requires a ludicrous series of events to bring about, often combining this with Idiot Plot. A quick rundown on what needed to happen to result in it: Alice's powers had to activate and show Bella jumping off the cliff, Alice had to make an incredibly stupid decision to fly to Bella's house instead of calling ahead of time to warn Charlie or perhaps say something to Bella about it (which she does for no discernible reason, considering she was working under the impression that Bella would have been dead by the time she got there), Alice had to make another dumb decision to simply spend the next day or so hanging out with Bella instead of calling around to let everyone know that Bella didn't really die, Harry Clearwater, a minor character we only truly meet once, has to die at exactly the right moment, setting up Charlie being absent for his funeral, Jacob has to grab the phone when Edward calls and tell him that Charlie is "at the funeral" without saying whose and Edward has to not question whose funeral it is, Edward and Jacob both have to forgo questioning who the other is and why they're calling Bella's house/answering the phone in Bella's house, Rosalie has to be spiteful enough to call Edward and tell him that Bella died without confirmation, and finally, Edward has not only not question this or call Alice to ask her personally if it was true or not, but it requires him to throw his phone out for no reason upon hearing this, so nobody can call him and tell him what's really going on. If any of this had gone differently, the whole thing wouldn't have happened.

  • In The Vagina Ass of Lucifer Niggerbastard, Griswalda appears in Lucifer's house to tell him about the Prophecy, after Lucifer complained about how "shitty" his life is. This is also convenient for the plot, which centers on the Prophecy.
  • Villains by Necessity: Mizzamir, the most powerful mage still living, just happens to be there in Bistort so he can come into contact with Sam and jump-start the plot. He turns out to be Sam's birth father, too.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga: In The Vor Game, Miles, several light years from home, just happens to get tossed into a jail cell with his runaway emperor. Later he runs into a former Barrayaran general, that he had caused to be cashiered from the service. She then lampshades all the coincidences when Miles runs into yet another old friend, and responds to their surprised "What are you doing here?" with "Somehow, I figured that might be your first question."

  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Justified by the main characters being important figures in the weave of destiny, so it's common for strange coincidences, ironies and misfortunes to happen all around them. It's often lampshaded; one secondary character once notices that increasingly bizarre coincidences keep delaying her when she tries to leave a town, so she wises up and waits for a protagonist to arrive.
    • Taken Up to Eleven by Mat Cauthon, whose superhuman luck soon reaches the point that he can invoke contrived coincidences in his favour. Arriving in a strange city, he can spin around in circles, set off down a random street, and end up running into somebody who knows the city and owes him a favour.
  • In The Winning of Barbara Worth, the titular orphaned child just happens to be the niece of her adoptive father's future business rival, which the protagonists realize after she happens to befriend her blood father's adopted son (despite the class differences between them). Also, the mementos proving this are unearthed exactly when The Reveal of this is dramatically convenient and neatly ties up the plot, thus allowing pro-and-antagonist to part on good terms.
  • In the Warrior Cats novella Tree's Roots, the protagonist belongs to a group of cats who travel around and don't stay in one place long; they also only allow she-cats to stay with them past the age of six moons, and mates aren't permanent relationships for them. When the main character eventually is forced to leave and begin his own journey alone, he is attacked by dogs, but is rescued by an older cat that happens to be passing through... who, they realize shortly afterward, is his father.

  • Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood features an end-of-the-world scenario where Blanco, the mafioso who raped Toby, just happens to survive multiple rounds of prison gladiatorial combat, kills everyone in Ren's workplace, and ends up surviving an apocalypse which happens to kill 99.99 percent of humanity, only to be finally found and poisoned by Toby.
  • In You Are Dead (Sign Here Please), on more than one occasion (during the same 24 hour period no less!) Nathan is killed while simultaneously being crushed by a bathtub, having a stroke and mauled by a badger. This seems to be a fairly common occurrence as there is a desk in the afterlife bureaucracy solely for people who have died in this incredibly specific manner. There is a separate desk for people who have died while simultaneously being crushed by a bathtub, having a stroke and mauled by a honey badger (which isn't a true badger).
  • In the Young Wizards series, this is both lampshaded and justified by the phrase "There's no such thing as coincidence", meaning that the Powers That Be and/or God set things up so they'd happen that way. One example is the fact that whenever Nita and Kit go on anything resembling a vacation, whatever their destination is just happens to be the exact place they need to be in order to fight the Lone Power. In the books, this is known as a "Wizard's Holiday". Sounds like it happens pretty often, for it to get a name. Lampshaded in A Wizard Abroad, where Nita's parents send her to Ireland so she can have a "normal summer away from this wizard business". Nita wearily explains to them that if the Powers That Be have a task for her it doesn't matter where she goes, and sure enough, Nita finds a job waiting for her to do after she gets there.

  • In Andre Norton's The Zero Stone, the Guild ship happens have to as Captain a man who knows Jern. The captain pledges offering to a goddess whenever he happens by her shrine at the marvel that what was lost is now found.


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