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Contrived Coincidence / Live-Action TV

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Contrived Coincidences on live-action TV.

  • 24:
    • In the first season, Jack Bauer and his daughter wind up in apparently separate dangerous circumstances. Because this was the Big Bad intentionally targeting Jack and his family for revenge, this turns out NOT to be a case of Contrived Coincidence, and the lack of same makes it seem like rather clever plotting. However, in the second season, Jack and his daughter wind up in completely unrelated dangerous circumstances on the same day, apparently because the writers decided not to mess with a successful formula but couldn't be bothered to make it seem remotely plausible. It culminated in the Trope Namer Trapped by Mountain Lions.
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    • In season 6, Morris O'Brien (CTU analyst Chloe O'Brien's ex-husband, and a major character) is identified as one of the handful of people in Los Angeles who are capable of assembling and arming a nuclear bomb, which is a perfect justification for the Big Bad Fayed to kidnap and coerce him into doing the same thing for a terrorist device.
  • All My Children: When Kendall's son Spike goes deaf, it's initially assumed that Greenlee was responsible, since she attempted to kidnap Spike and ended up getting in a car accident with him in the process. When Spike gets cochlear implant surgery, it's discovered that Spike's hearing loss was actually caused by a chromosomal abnormality and nothing could have stopped him from going deaf; it was pure coincidence that he lost his hearing after the car accident.
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  • Angel: In the episode "Guise Will Be Guise", Wesley is kidnapped at gunpoint because he's pretending to be Angel (it's complicated). Cordelia, attempting to locate his whereabouts, searches through mug shots attempting to find his assailant. After spending some time on this and getting bored, she takes a break and reads through a celebrity tabloid magazine, and wouldn't you know it, the guy she's looking for happens to be a bodyguard of a celebrity. Awfully convenient that the picture of the celebrity also included a good quality shot of the man she's looking for. On top of this, she doesn't look for a particular article in the tabloid, just decides to skim through it quickly and almost immediately finds this picture.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Sarah Lance returned from Nanda Parbat with a sonic weapon. When Laurel Lance inherited it, she had it modified to look like she was attacking with her scream. Laurel's Earth-2 doppleganger was a meta-human who actually could attack people with her scream. While back on Earth-1, there was a woman with the exact same power as Earth-2 Laurel, who took over Earth-1 Laurel's mantle as the Black Canary, and had the exact same name as Laurel's mother, Dinah Drake.
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    • Cisco nicknamed Mari "Vixen" not realizing that her grandmother's JSA codename was also Vixen.
  • Banshee has these all over the place. The show's premise itself is based off the fact that Lucas just happened to be in the same bar that the newly appointed sheriff (that nobody in town saw face to face before since he was from outside the city, something that's never happened before in Banshee) was eating at right when robbers came in and killed him (and got themselves killed, leaving only Lucas and Sugar as eyewitnesses).
  • Better Call Saul: While bodyguarding Jimmy, Huell unknowingly assaults a plainclothes cop who previously arrested him. As Jimmy tries to argue to the cop afterwards, it's just a massive coincidence. Except, said cop quickly decides to exploit the vanishingly small odds of this happening in order to send Huell to prison, knowing that a jury probably won't believe it could have been a coincidence.
  • Blake's 7. At the start of Season 3, Avon and his Arch-Enemy Servalan survive a massive space battle only to run into each other while stranded on an alien planet.
    Servalan: You don't sound surprised.
    Avon: Why should I be? It has a perverse kind of logic to it. Our meeting is the most unlikely happening I could imagine. Therefore we meet. Surprise seems inappropriate somehow.
  • Breaking Bad depends on these:
    • In "Phoenix", Walter is out one night after a meeting with Jesse and abruptly decides to drop into a bar by himself to grab a beer (something which, by his own admission, he never does), and happens to sit down beside and fall into conversation with a friendly stranger, who just so happens to be the father of Jesse's girlfriend. This occurs immediately before Jesse's girlfriend chokes to death on her own vomit while Walter does nothing to help. The astronomical unlikelihood of this chance meeting is lampshaded and handwaved by Walter himself in a later episode. That father also happens to be an Air Traffic Controller who later, still preoccupied over his daughter's death, negligently causes a mid-air collision right over Walter's house. Which makes Walt indirectly responsible for the crash.
    • Also during season two, Jesse's friend and fellow drug dealer Combo gets murdered for dealing on another gang's turf. Later, Jesse has a plan to sell meth to recovering addicts, and attempts to demonstrate to his fellow dealers how easy this is by striking up a conversation with one of the women at a rehab meeting. The woman in question (whom Jesse picked essentially at random from a group of about twenty people) just so happens to be the older sister of the boy that murdered Combo.
    • In "Mandala", Skyler goes into labor at just about the same time that Walter is told he has one hour to deliver his first shipment to Gus Fring. Walter makes the dropoff, but in doing so, misses the birth of his daughter.
    • In "Caballo Sin Nombre" (third season, second episode), Walter decides to move back home against Skyler's wishes. He happens to be breaking in through the crawlspace at the same time Mike is bugging Walter's house. Mike slips away to his car unnoticed and while he's checking reception on his bugs he sees the Salamanca cousins show up, carrying their trademark chrome-plated axe, making their intentions clear. Walter has decided to take a shower after his crawlspace entrance, so the cousins sit on the bed to wait for him to come out. Mike calls Victor, Victor presumably talks to Gus, and Gus texts "POLLOS" to the cousins. They leave the house before Walt exits the shower, and Walter gets to live.
    • In "I See You", after the cousins' attack on Hank, he's brought to the same hospital in which Jesse was recovering from the beating Hank gave him. And Hank's ambulance just happens to arrive while Jesse, just discharged, is waiting outside in a wheelchair to be picked up by Skinny Pete.
    • Yet again in Season three, episode "Half Measures": Tomas is killed by the drug dealers he works for. An entire day passes. In the next evening, Jesse decides to go to their corner to kill them. Walt, after hearing of the murder on the evening news, realizes what Jesse might do and rushes out of the house, abandoning dinner with Skyler and Walt Jr. He gets to the corner just when Jesse is about to confront the dealers and runs both of them over, saving Jesse in the nick of time.
    • In "Granite State": Walter is in hiding in New Hampshire. After he tries to reconnect with his son and is roughly told off, he calls the DEA and settles in to let them trace the call to the bar where he is drinking and arrest him. Before they find him, the bartender randomly starts channel flipping, which allows Walter to see an interview where his ex- and old business partner badmouth him on TV and minimize his contribution. This angers Walt so much he chooses to escape and return to New Mexico for his vengeance.
    • In "Felina": Walter is about to be taken out back and shot by the Neo-Nazis at their hideout, which would screw his whole plan to kill them all with an M60. While they're grabbing him to take him out back, he starts screaming at Jack about Jack's promise to kill Jesse, alleging Jack partnered with Jesse instead. In doing so, Walt hits a MAJOR nerve Jack has (and Walt didn't even know about): his hatred of snitches. Jack is so incensed at the implication he's working with a rat (Jesse), he keeps Walt alive just so he can see Jesse is their slave, not a partner. This, however, buys Walt enough time to grab his keys off the pool table and trigger the M60.
  • Occasionally in Cold Case, a piece of evidence turns out to be completely meaningless, but still leads someone in the victim's life (or, occasionally, the detectives) to the right conclusion.
    • In "Debut", the victim's mother zeroes in on a suspect when she hears that the man's wife died in the same manner as her daughter (falling down the stairs). The wife's death turns out to be a complete accident, but she got the right suspect.
    • In "Daniela", Lily links what appears to be a video recording of a homicide to a Jane Doe case. It turns out the video was staged, no one was killed, but the Jane Doe was in fact the same woman from the video (she had died shortly thereafter in an unrelated case).
  • Lampshaded in an episode of CSI when the killer, a bitter TV actress, sarcastically suggests how the "hypothetical" murderer could have pulled off her crime, which ends up evolving into an increasingly convoluted, soap opera-ish plot. When Brass interrupts to snark about how much of a Contrived Coincidence one development in her scenario is, her response is, "that's alright, you're allowed to have one per episode."
    • The episode "Ending Happy" show that no less than three different people tried to kill the same guy on the same night by various means with no idea someone else was after him.
    • On CSI: Miami, a bank manager and his lover conspire to swap some money for fake bills, figuring it'll be a long time before it's discovered...only to have a pair of robbers pick that exact armored car to rob which exposes the scheme.
    • On CSI: NY, a therapist's plan to frame a patient for her husband's murder could have worked...if it wasn't for the fact that when she shot the guy "in self-defense," a team of cops and CSI techs were on a roof literally across the street investigating a different murder. Lampshaded by Stella commenting that there's no way the woman could have known they'd all be close enough to hear the gunshot.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm practically runs on this—each and every episode will have a good four or five subplots, which inevitably come together at the end to totally and completely screw Larry over. Sometimes it's not that out there, but nine out of ten times the end of an episode is this trope at work.
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency:
    • Several people on the show are favoured by fate in this way, most notably Bart, the "holistic assassin". She stumbles upon random people who deserve to die, and then kills them with the most casual blind luck possible. Guns pointed at her jam, her own shots never miss, and she never kills people who don't deserve to die. Her absurd luck gives her some rather glaring gaps in her education. For example, she has no idea that you're supposed to fix a car if it breaks down. In her experience, if a car breaks down, it just means she's supposed to be at that location; the car will be working again when it's time for her to leave.
    • This is how Dirk's status as a "holistic detective" works, though he's not as self-aware about it as Bart is.
      Dirk: There are teens sweating on me, real teens! This—This music sounds like robots being tortured by monkeys! I am never going to find Scott Boreton in this mayhem!
      Scott: [directly in front of Dirk, shouting into a smartphone] Sound of Nothing, my name is Scott Boreton! Hey, watch it, man, I'm trying to take a video!
      Dirk: Oh, this is just stupid now.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The set-up for almost every Doctor Who episode seems like a contrived coincidence. The TARDIS deliberately lands anywhere some sort of galactic peril is unfolding.
      The Doctor: You didn't always take me where I wanted to go!
      The TARDIS: No, but I always took you where you needed to go!
    • "Rise of the Cybermen"/"The Age of Steel": Even though John Lumic lives in an Alternate Universe and knows nothing of the existence of the show's main universe and its Cybermen, the version he creates looks almost identical to them.
    • "Partners in Crime": The Doctor and Donna investigating in the same building simultaneously, questioning workers in the same office at the same time, using the same printer, running down parallel streets and parking their transports in the same street without ever seeing the other is portrayed as pure coincidence. Until "Journey's End" implies it was fate via the Timey-Wimey Ball and one rebellious Dalek.
      • "The End of Time" takes it even further, suggesting that even meeting Donna to begin with might have been simply to put the Tenth Doctor in contact with her grandfather Wilfred, who is destined to cause his death.
    • "The Snowmen": When Clara has to describe her problem with one word, she says "Pond", which is only peripherally related to her actual problem, but conveniently happens to be the last name of the companion the Doctor is mourning. She probably has some awareness of the Ponds from her other echoed selves, but it's not explicit.
    • "The Time of the Doctor": Clara pulls a Christmas cracker with the Doctor. Inside there is a poem which is so specifically about the Doctor's current situation that it's impossible to imagine what the poem was actually supposed to be about in-universe.
    • "The Ghost Monument": Despite being severely damaged and forced to make a crash landing on an unfamiliar planet which isn't even in the right place, Epzo's spaceship manages to come down within walking distance of Angstrom's.
    • "Arachnids in the UK": The Doctor learns about the oversized spiders in Sheffield because her companion Yaz just happens to have a neighbour who's been killed by the spiders, and then she's able to track the problem to its source because Yaz's mum Najia works at the close-to-opening luxury hotel where the spiders are nesting. This is lampshaded when the Doctor initially suspects that Najia is the connection somehow.
  • The "Chicago Holiday" two-parter from the first season of Due South. Detective Ray Vecchio is trying to track down the contact list of a murdered mobster - which is written inside a book of matches. The matchbook is passed from a mob enforcer (who subsequently loses it) to several random bystanders who either throw it away or give it to someone else, and eventually winds up in the hands of the mobster's girlfriend, who then gives it to a high-ranking Canadian diplomat's daughter - who just so happens to be under protection from Fraser (Ray's partner and the main character of the show).
  • It sure was lucky that the Farscape crew happened to land on Earth just when Hallowe'en came around, so they could (nearly) get away with being aliens on an earth which had only seen the first Star Trek.
  • A season seven episode of Full House has two storylines: Jesse buys tickets to a Little Richard concert, only for Nicky and Alex to cut them up, and Joey campaigns for the position of P.T.A. President of Michelle's school, only to have his rival Mrs. Carruthers outdo him, prompting Kimmy to suggest a fundraiser with a celebrity guest. Immediately after this suggestion is made, Michelle's friend Denise casually mentions that her musician uncle (who she's never brought up before) could do the job—and immediately after she says this, there's a knock at the door. It's her uncle. Guess who he is. No, go on—guess. The Quotes page has an excellent summary of this phenomenon.
    • This was practically a Running Gag with Joey, although the show never acknowledged it as such. Since he had a vague past, it was easy for the writers to put him into situations that he always just so happened to have the credentials to solve. Jesse wants to go skydiving before his wedding? Surprise—Joey has a pilot's license! Michelle is upset because her teacher is out sick? Guess what—Joey's actually an accredited substitute teacher and can help! Bloggers like Billy Superstar have suggested that these constant new skills in later seasons were added because Joey was something of The Artifact—while it made sense for him to move in with Danny and help raise his daughters immediately after Danny's wife's death, his presence gradually became unnecessary because the girls were old enough to take care of themselves and had more relatives, like Aunt Becky, to help them out. As such, the writers seemed determine to shoehorn Joey into plots by inventing skills for him that were promptly never mentioned again.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Galavant, where several characters enter the Forest of Coincidence, and manage, in the space of about five minutes, to both provide some exposition and set up several plot points to be solved.
  • In one episode of Growing Pains, Chrissy thinks fun things happen after bed time, so Jason lets her stay up late to see nothing exciting happens at night. Unfortunately, a string of events occur that result in a party.
  • Heroes:
    • Mainly during the first season, the main characters -who mostly lived in different parts of the USA- ran into each other several times, mostly by sheer coincidence. The worst example was when Hiro, Nathan and Sylar ALL HAPPENED TO STOP TO EAT AT THE SAME ROADSIDE DINNER AT THE SAME TIME. Though there has been talk about some characters having a "destiny" in the series, it has not been proven yet. (In fact, history has been changed at least twice.)
    • Two different diners: Hiro meets Nathan in one after seeing him land outside. Then Hiro and Ando stop at the one in Texas, where Sylar kills Charlie.
    • In Season 2, this trope is brought into contrast, as a guy asks the girl he's dating if he is meant to believe that the fact that her father once abducted him as a boy and now she's going out with him is just a coincidence. Also probably the only time the word "coincidence" is used in the show.
    • In Season 3, Sylar is ambushed by a paramilitary group in his father's home. He takes a member of the paramilitary group that tried to capture him to a nearby house, to do the whole torture others the guy cracks routine. This house, which Sylar picked at random, just happened to house a local boy who had superpowers of his own AND who knows where Sylar's father is AND who wants to go on a roadtrip with him.
    • Mohinder's cab in Season 1. Seriously, it must be the only taxi in New York or something, because whenever a character hails a cab, there he is.
  • Almost every episode of House involves an unlikely occurrence at just the right moment for House to realise the solution to his case.
    • For example, in "Here Kitty" he diagnoses his patient with Cushing's. Just before she is about to undergo surgery, the cat she claims predicted her death enters the room and jumps onto House's laptop. This causes him to realise how the cat 'predicted' deaths. She was just trying to keep warm by lying on patients that were feverish or had a heating blanket, making it seem as if she 'knew' they were going to die. In turn, this causes him to figure out that his patient does not have Cushing's, but cancer of the appendix. Another such occurrence is in "Clueless" when he reveals to a clinic patient's wife that her husband is cheating on her and she throws her gold wedding ring down onto the floor. This prompts House to realise that his main patient was being poisoned by his wife with gold sodium thiamilate.
    • This trope is beautifully lampshaded in the episode '5 to 9' where Cuddy asks House what he's going to do if his latest theory doesn't pan out. House responds with "Go talk to Wilson about something completely unrelated and see what happens."
  • In How I Met Your Mother, this specific coincidence shows no significant plot relevance YET, but: What are the chances that the mother forgets her yellow umbrella at a party, and then Ted happens to take that umbrella, only for him in later years to briefly date a girl, who happens to be the mother's roommate, and, coincidentally, the time when Ted goes to that girl's apartment it was raining, and Ted happened to be using the yellow umbrella and conveniently forgetting the umbrella at the apartment, where the mother resides?! SERIOUSLY?!? Out of all of the women he dated and the rainy days, he happens to forget the umbrella at his ex-girlfriend's apartment who happens to be roommates with the original owner of the umbrella.
    • Years later, Ted runs into this old girlfriend on a subway, at a time when he needed to find a new band for Robin and Barney's wedding. She happens to know of a great wedding band and the bass player is her former roommate, The Mother.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • In tokusatsu Kamen Rider Den-O, the Transformation Trinket that Ryoutaro receives in episode one has four coloured buttons, each corresponding to one of his four forms. This despite the fact that he only has one form at the beginning, and the monsters he goes on to make contracts with for his remaining forms just happen to have the same colour schemes as the remaining buttons. You'd think it wouldn't really matter, but on some forums, you'd be deadly wrong.
    • Kamen Rider BLACK had the protagonist inadvertently stumbling upon Golgom's evil plans in nearly every episode. The organization itself believed he was some sort of Batman / Sherlock Holmes-level genius who was constantly tracking them down thanks to keen detective work, when reality it was almost always dumb luck.
  • The Rosie Larsen case takes two seasons to unravel on The Killing, because something like 2/3rds of Seattle didn't have an alibi the night she died, had some connection to the car she died in, had a sketchy relationship with her, or had something else to hide. The Reveal compounds this tenfold, because not only were nearly all shown to be red herrings, but Rosie was killed because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And she was finished off by of all people, her aunt, who happened to be in an affair she was willing to kill for. She only gets caught because she doesn't fix her taillight for nearly a month.
  • Subverted and/or lampshaded in Life on Mars. In both versions of the show, the heavy-drinking Gene is shot — but it turns out he's okay because the bullet hit the flask he keeps in his jacket pocket. "What are the odds of THAT," one of the characters asks; Gene, pulling flasks from several other pockets, says "Pretty good, actually."
  • Lost:
    • All of the passengers of Flight 815 have unknowingly crossed paths before meeting on the plane, to the extent that the series also falls into the One Degree of Separation trope. For instance, only in season 3 we find out that Claire and Jack are half siblings; this remains unbeknownst to Claire until Season 6 (as far as we are shown), while Jack finds out only in S4. like the writers were just throwing in little connections to please fans, but as of season six it is pretty obvious the fact they have all crossed paths is an important aspect of the show, and it may not be fate that brought them to the island in the first place.
    • Some characters are "chosen" by the Island, and it will not let them die until they've done their job. This generally manifests itself as a series of coincidences. A man survives a high-speed car crash, and another finds that every stick of dynamite he tries to commit suicide with burns out before exploding. Even just putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger doesn't work.
      Tom: I'm curious—did the gun just jam up on you, or did the bullet bounce off your skull?
  • Madam Secretary: In order to justify Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord becoming President for the day, Air Force One goes off the air over the Pacific returning from a state funeral in Australia (the Speaker of the House was also aboard). The cyberattack responsible sets off the Story Arc for the first half of the season. What doesn't is that the vice president simultaneously comes down with a gallbladder infection requiring surgery, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate has become a Scatterbrained Senior because of a string of mini-strokes his staff have been keeping secret until he retires at the end of his current term.
  • This is lampshaded massively on Manifest when a plane that took off in 2013 lands in 2018 with everyone on board thinking only three hours passed. The series shows various odd events and meetings with the characters openly noting this goes beyond merely a coincidence and instead some sort of design.
    • Michela finds herself answering a mysterious "voice" to check out a pair of dogs at a pound and finds out their owner is also holding two girls captive.
    • One of the passengers on the plane created a breakthrough treatment for exactly the type of leukemia Ben's son Cal has.
    • Ben helps a fellow passenger's son who claims innocence in a robbery. Ben is checking out the storage locker owned by his wife's new boyfriend and runs into the son of the shop owner at another locker. It turns out the kid robbed the store himself, framed the other man and has been trying to sell off the loot on his own.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Daredevil (2015):
      • In season 2, it turns out by pure chance that the Blacksmith, the mysterious drug lord responsible for the shootout that got Frank Castle's family killed, was Castle's former CO Colonel Schoonover, who had gone into the heroin business, and who had not shown any indications of being a bad person until Karen just happened to notice a photograph of him posing with a soldier she recognized as one of the bodies that got zipped up at the docks. This instance gets subverted by The Punisher (2017), which reveals that Frank had in fact been specifically targeted because he was going to snitch about the various war crimes and illegal missions being carried out by other members of his unit, like Schoonover and William Rawlins.
      • In the season 2 finale, Karen just happens to be among the "rescued by Daredevil" people that the Hand scoop up as part of their bait for Matt. So is Turk Barrett, who so conveniently happens to have an electronic parole bracelet (that he had acknowledged when Matt roughed him up at the start of the season) for Karen to activate to notify the police. Lampshaded by Brett Mahoney once Matt rescues Karen and the hostages, as he says to Karen, "Is there any shit show you're not a part of?"
    • Luke Cage (2016): The reason Mariah is able to cover up Cottonmouth's murder is because Shades just happens to appear right after she finishes bashing in Cottonmouth's head with the microphone stand. It's in the penultimate episode that Shades reveals that he had in fact gone there to kill Cottonmouth himself, but Mariah beat him to it.
    • The Defenders (2017): The reason Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand all end up meeting and working together to take down the Hand is because Danny, Luke and Jessica all individually discover around the same time that Midland Circle is somehow connected to whatever case they're investigating involving the Handnote , with Matt just following Jessica as a favor for Foggy. They also all happen to pick the same moment to go there and investigate further.
  • Many episodes of Monk rely on a Contrived Coincidence to help Monk solve a case, which sometimes results in a Eureka Moment. For example, in the episode "Mr. Monk Goes to the Ballgame", Monk discovers the killer's identity only because a TV playing a commercial that featured the killer happened to be on while Monk was questioning a suspect.
  • In NCIS Season 10's "You Better Watch Out", two robbers decided to hit a place without much security in the Washington DC area on May 2, 2011. This is the night the Navy SEA Ls took out Osama bin Laden. As a result, Homeland would have increased satellite surveillance on the capital in case of retaliation. As a result, the robbers were caught on that tape.
  • Lampshaded in a season 4 episode of The O.C., where Ryan and Taylor are trapped in an alternate reality. When the two have to split up, Taylor assures Ryan that since it's an alternate reality, they'll "just find each other". Sure enough, they do.
  • Due to the random nature of the anomalies, some of the plots of Primeval can come across as this as they hinge on an anomaly opening in exactly the right place at the right time. Case in point is Season 2 Episode 5, when Cutter and Stephen become trapped in the Silurian desert after an anomaly closes. They're saved when another anomaly soon opens, which doesn't just also lead to 21st century England, but to mere hours after the last one shut.
  • In the first episode of Power Rangers: Beast Morphers, on the same day that the Morph-X system was going online and Grid Battleforce would create their Ranger team, a power-hungry Computer Virus named Evox was lucky enough to infiltrate their computer system at the exact moment and create virtual doppelganger Co-Dragons of two of the recruits. This is eventually revealed to be an aversion as Evox is revealed to be the reincarnation of RPM Big Bad Venjix, who had been patiently waiting for years to make his move.
  • Prison Break is full of this, with things only getting more contrived as the show goes on. For instance, the premise of the show is that Lincoln Burrows has been framed for the murder of the Vice President's brother. Fortunately for him, his brother Michael happens to be a structural engineer, and happens to work for the company that designed the prison he is sentenced to. Furthermore, the firm designed the prison in a shady under the table deal, and due to family circumstances Lincoln and Michael have different surnames, thus ensuring that few other people know these things. Thus allowing Michael to put in place a complicated plan to free Lincoln that involves getting himself thrown in the same prison (which itself borders on this trope, though there are handwaves). And that's just the start...
  • Red Dwarf: "Quarantine" parodies shows that rely heavily on this trope. The discovery of a scientific laboratory reveals that luck is just a virus with both "bad luck" and "good luck" strains. When Rimmer driven homicidal by a nasty holo-virus, Lister injects himself with the good luck virus so that he can conveniently stumble across everything he needs to defeat and cure Rimmer.
  • Salamander: Gerardi just happens to meet the daughter of the man behind the revenge plot against Salamander as their daughters attend the same boarding school. This allows him to unravel the plot after he meets her father and realizes who he is. Without this, the plot would not have been solved at all.
  • Scandal: It can be argued Huck seeing and recognizing Charlie on a tape falls in this category. This leads to Huck realizing Amanda is dead, as Huck and Charlie were once co-workers.
  • In the first season finale of Shark, Sebastian's entire Batman Gambit to frame serial killer Wayne Collier for the "murder" of a woman who killed herself nearly goes awry when his team (unaware of Shark's plan) finds the woman had a stalker.
    Stark: The victim's own private stalker? What were the odds?
  • Seinfeld:
    • Happened all the time (usually for comedic effect). It was one of the elements that became flanderized as the series progressed, but this didn't stop it from being funny.
    • One particularly triumphant example occurs in "The Pothole". In Elaine's subplot, she discovers that her current office building is out of range of a particular Chinese restaurant, so she moves into a janitor's closet in the complex across the street and claims to work there; in Kramer's, he adopts a lane of highway and decides to create "extra-wide lanes" by removing the original paint on the stretch of road. At the end of the episode, Elaine just so happens to be driving from the office with a trunk full of the building's garbage, including a sewing machine that falls onto the road; Kramer just so happens to be trying to fix the lanes that he changed with paint thinner, only to spill it all over the highway; and Newman just so happens to be driving nearby, which causes him to catch the sewing machine under the chassis of his mail truck... which leads to the truck exploding in flame when sparks from the machine's needle ignite from the thinner. And in a final touch, Newman just so happens to be delivering an order of ingredients for the exact same dish that Elaine wanted to order in the first place.
    • In "The Gum", a new friend of George's suspects he might be mentally ill when he becomes obsessed with recovering a particular twenty dollar bill that he thinks a waitress took from him. Every single time George tries to verify his story, something bizarre happens at that exact moment: for instance, when he claims that Jerry can back up his sanity, Jerry is wearing a pair of thick glasses at the time, which make him unable to recognize George and thus cause Deena to doubt him. The coincidences reach their apex at the end of the episode, when George, repaying a favor for Kramer, walks down the street in broad daylight wearing a Henry VIII costume...just as Deena comes by. In the same episode, Elaine keeps getting into inadvertently sexual situations (such as losing a button on her blouse or being soaked from a florist's hose) whenever she's around Lloyd Braun, making him think she's interested in him.
    • In "The Millennium", George is offered a better-paying job with the New York Mets than he has with the Yankees; the catch is that he has to be fired from the latter to seal the deal. He thus tries numerous schemes to get himself in George Steinbrenner's bad graces, but every single time he comes up with something, Steinbrenner loves it. George wears Babe Ruth's jersey and covers it in strawberry jam? Steinbrenner approves of his "out with the old, in with the new" philosophy. George streaks across the field wearing a bodysuit? Steinbrenner thinks that George is creating a new, exciting character called "Bodysuit Man". And when George finally does get himself fired, his own boss shows up and claims responsibility...and then tells George that the Mets made him a similar offer.
    • In "The Non-Fat Yogurt," a Contrived Coincidence shapes political history. Kramer invests in a frozen yogurt shop, which everyone in town enjoys to excess because of its claims of being "non-fat." When Jerry and Elaine gain weight, though, they become convinced that the yogurt does contain fat, and decide to have it tested in a lab that also does blood analyses. Kramer doesn't want to lose his investment, so he heads to the lab and romances the phlebotomist; as they make out, she inadvertently knocks a particular vial of blood off a shelf and into another tube. That second tube just so happens to belong to then-mayoral candidate Rudolph Giuliani, and the blood that's mixed with his just so happens to contain extremely high levels of cholesterol. Later, the main quartet watches one of Giuliani's press conferences, where he reveals that he's been warned about the bad cholesterol by his doctor. Giuliani comments that he's only made one dietary change recently that might be causing the high levels...namely, eating a lot of—you guessed it—non-fat frozen yogurt. He makes combating false advertising one of the new cornerstones of his campaign, which helps him get elected. Rarely has a Contrived Coincidence played such a role in U.S. government.
  • Discussed in Sherlock. Note that Sherlock doesn't say that "there's no such thing as coincidences", he just says that actual coincidences rarely occur in the grand scheme of things.
    Mind Palace!Mycroft: What do we say about coincidences?
    Sherlock: The universe is rarely so lazy.
  • Star Trek
    • Moving the Adventure Town trope into space often leads to coincidence as the landing party or shuttle crash just happens to arrive on the correct part of a planet.
      • In "The Apple" the crew know nothing of Vaal, the computer that runs the world, yet despite the entire planet having a virtually constant climate they beam down within walking distance of Vaal.
      • They can detect humanoid life with their sensors, so probably just picked the spot near the largest concentration.
      • In DS9's "Rocks and Shoals", the crew's disabled ship not only finds a conveniently close nebula to hide in, but they find a planet in the nebula, and crash within walking distance of similarly shipwrecked Dominion troops.
    • Star Trek: Picard:
      • In "Maps and Legends", we see a notice in the converted Borg cube that it has gone 5843 days without an assimilation. 5843 days is exactly 16 years.note 
      • In "Nepenthe", Elnor experiences a Heroic BSoD and nestles into a Troubled Fetal Position in the exact place where Hugh hid the Fenris Rangers SOS tag that Seven of Nine gave to him sometime in the past, inside a giant Borg Cube.
      • It just so happens that the major event of Rios' past directly ties with the mission Picard hired him for. Neither Picard, nor Rios, nor Raffi knew of this. It just happens that the pilot Raffi picked is one of the few people in the Federation to have (knowingly) met one of Maddox's creations and witnessed the forces inside Starfleet fully committed to their destruction.
  • In the first episode of The Tick (2001), The Red Scare, a communist assassin robot built in 1979 and programmed to hunt down and kill Jimmy Carter, is deployed in The City by a group of neo-commies who were trying to reprogram it to kill the postmaster general. Unfortunately, The Tick and Arthur foil them and accidentally activate the robot before the commies could reprogram it. Upon interrogating the communists and learning the latter, Arthur suddenly notices the title of that day's local newspaper. I'll give you three guesses as to what it says, and the latter two do not count.
    The Tick: Jimmy Carter is in town? Heavens to Betsy, what are the odds?!
  • The Vampire Diaries, Jeremy finds a journal of Jonathan Gilbert. It's later revealed that it wasn't the only one. So the gang happened to find the one that told them where to find the spellbook by sheer luck.
  • In The Wire, Scott Templeton has been falsifying his stories for The Sun to bolster his profile. One of his worst lies is the one he carries out to reignite McNulty's fake "serial killer" case while it is cooling off. Scott reports that just as he walked from the office, he saw a vagrant being pulled into a van. This raises several flags and is the straw that breaks the camel's back for Gus Haynes, who has been very suspicious of Templeton's reporting from the start.
    Gus Haynes: You ever notice that the guys who do that, the Blairs, the Glasses, the Kelleys, they all start with something small, you know? Just a little quote that they clean up. And then it's a whole anecdote. And pretty soon they're seeing some amazing shit. They're the lucky ones who just happen to be standing on the right street corner in Tel Aviv when the pizza joint blows up and the human head rolls down the street with the eyes still blinking.
    Thomas Klebanow: The pictures were sent to him. The police have confirmed...
    Gus Haynes: It always starts with something true, something confirmed. But then you've got a son of a bitch who just happens to be walking in the Guilford entrance when the mysterious gray van comes...


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