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This page is for examples of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane from Live-Action TV.

  • Agatha Raisin: "Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden" has a lot of this: the "witch's" hair tonic really does work, an ancient prophecy about an inheritance turns out to prove true, and an attempt to speak to a murder victim via a séance is implied to have been successful.
  • Murdock of the The A-Team is either insane, or a very good actor. Though most of his ramblings (such as that golf balls need to breathe) are clearly not founded in reality, he is actually capable of seemingly becoming invisible to anyone who doesn't know him (either that or he paid off the waitress to play along). Also, at the end of one episode his imaginary dog Billy pulls him off-screen in a manner that couldn't be faked without something else actually pulling him.
    Client: Is he really that crazy?
    Hannibal Smith: We don't know...
  • Auction Kings:
    • The Ouija board, which predicts its own sell price. It was appraised at between $100 and $200, and itself predicted the price would have a '5' in it. It ends up going for $150... the exact middle of the appraisal and a value with a '5' in it. Cindy is not amused when she realizes Jon bought it.
    • The haunted art cabinet. The medium brought in claims it has positive energy. Another artist buys it to store art supplies. Hopefully, the ghost is satisfied.
  • Babylon 5 usually went with First One technology for its 'supernatural' effects, but a couple of episodes are more ambiguous.
    • Neil Gaiman's fifth season episode "Day Of The Dead" leaves it ambiguous whether the dead people that came back for the night are a result of Brakiri telepathy or the genuine article. At the end, it seems to come down on the side of the supernatural.
    • In Voices in the Dark: Over Here story of The Lost Tales follow-up has a man who claims to have been possessed by a demon on his shore leave on Earth. He is able to know intimate details about people, but since telepathy is a well-known phenomenon in the 'verse, it's not that surprising. He is also somehow able to get people to smell different things, although that could also be explained by some form of telepathy (i.e. they only think they're smelling it). Lochley definitely believes him, though, and makes sure that the exorcism takes place on Earth (if it had taken place in space, the demon would be free to roam the universe).
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    • In the first season episode, "Soul Hunter", the titular character and Minbari Ambassador Delenn believed he was capable of capturing the souls of the newly dead. The Soul Hunter believes souls are lost if uncaptured, while Minbari believe in reincarnation and capture prevents it, so there's conflict. Dr. Franklin suggests that it could be possible to copy a person's memory and personality as data, but doesn't believe corporeal technology could capture a soul. No conclusions are made. Soul Hunters reappear in the TV movie River of Souls, where a group of tomb raiders breaks into a Soul Hunter shrine and take a large sphere that later turns out to be holding the souls of an entire race. At the end, though, it's revealed that they're not souls; they're Energy Beings that have been taken by Soul Hunters at the moment of ascension.
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    • During "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari", was Londo almost killed by his own guilty conscience, and only spared when he accepted the need to apologise to G'kar? Or were all the visions he saw while Doctor Franklin attempted to save him following his heart attack just delusions that coincided with a natural health scare and natural recovery? It even gets lampshaded when Londo asks the G'kar in his head who he is:
      G'Kar: <laughs> Perhaps I am a delusion caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. Perhaps I am the piece of myself that telepathically joined with you once long ago and decided to stay. Perhaps I am your conscience, which can only get your attention by taking on a face other than your own. And striking you down in the one place where you are still vulnerable.
  • Several times in Barney Miller, the detectives arrested someone who appeared to be unstable due to some outrageous claim they were making; however, due to the circumstances, you could you never be totally sure these people weren't crazy. (And most were played by Kenneth Tigar.)
    • Mr. Kopechne (the first one played by Tigar) was a prisoner who claimed to be a werewolf, and while his 'lycanthropy' is not taken seriously, his return as a victim of demonic possession is far more disturbing.
    • The man who claims to be Jesus (also played by Tigar) returns and gains the friendship (and discipleship) of a suspect named Paul with a "miracle" akin to changing water to wine: a bag of drugs turning out to be a Beat Bag, freeing him of charges. Paul had asked him for a miracle "like when you made all those sandwiches."
    • A man (Tigar again) plagued by a poltergeist named Julius, concurrent with a lot of small accidents and an attack of clumsiness.
    • A time traveller in a long striped scarf, who identifies himself as such because he's sure nobody will believe him, convinces Harris to invest in zinc, apparently recognizes the Arthur Dietrich, and vanishes after leaving.
    • A "clairvoyant" who attacks a man for a purse-snatching he hasn't committed, but it just so happens he picked a repeat offender... and he perceives the cloud of "resentment" that results from Luger turning up, subsequently broadcasting Barney's frustrations.
    • A rainmaker hired by New York City's department of water during a drought appears to be successful after being arrested for lighting a ceremonial fire in Central Park. (He insists he was doing it scientifically by stuffing the raw chicken with cloud-seeding chemicals.)
    • A man who claims to be "a combustible" (as in, spontaneous) insists that he is overheating in the cell and needs ice just before the wastebasket across the room catches fire. Barney's response? "Get him some ice."
    • A man who believes he is plagued by a succubus falls asleep in the cell, where he dreams very loudly and... vividly.
    • An obeah woman at one point seemed to prevent Harris from opening the cell door by looking at it. Toward the end of the episode, she presented Barney (who at the time was reconciling with his semi-estranged wife) with a talisman.
      Obeah: Just wave this talisman three times over your bed, and souls that were separated will soon be reunited.
      (Barney gives Wojo a Death Glare)
      Wojo: I didn't say anything, Barn!
  • The Darker and Edgier Battlestar Galactica showed characters with clear religious, atheistic and agnostic views. Much of the Story Arc dealt with whether the gods or God were directly leading the remnants of humanity to their new home, or whether coincidence was just a matter of their reality. By the series' final season, the reappearance (and then sudden final disappearance) of an Angel Unaware, as well as a final scene that showed two people, images of main characters that had haunted their counterparts throughout the series, in the modern Earth, 150,000 years later, as fans questioned if the images were hallucinations or technological constructs. The show ended with a significant lean towards the supernatural.
  • The Beauty and the Beast (1987) episode "When the Blue Bird Sings" involves Catherine encountering a struggling artist, Kristopher, who she learns supposedly died two years earlier and is told his ghost often appears to young women. Catherine is convinced that he faked his death, with the aid of a body that resembled him and the shopkeeper who identified the body, in order to increase interest in his paintings and goes along with it by arranging for the paintings to be sold and giving the money to the shopkeeper to pass on. Despite this, Kristopher can appear and disappear without anyone noticing him (even Vincent's heightened senses don't detect his approach), open a locked door without explanation, and leave behind a painting of Catherine and Vincent as a thank you which Vincent notes should have taken months if not years to do.
  • Kalv in Beforeigners is introduced providing information to Lars that comes directly from Odin. Later on, we learn that Kalv was never real and that Lars hallucinated him as a result of his temproxate abuse. Then, after Lars completely detoxes, Kalv appears again... so is he actually an avatar of Odin, or is he a figment of a deeper mental illness Lars is suffering from?
  • In Bewitched, one episode ends with Darrin trying to do a magic trick involving a glass of milk. It's unclear if he cracked it or if Samantha (his wife, who's a witch) used actual magic to make him think he'd cracked it.
  • Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction is built around this trope. The point is each of the five stories have something supernatural or unrealistic happening to them and the host would suggest real word explanations. There will be such stories where the host points out something that doesn't seem to have a real world explanation.
  • In Black Jesus, Jesus demonstrates various powers, such as turning water into cognac or destroying a lock with his bare hands, but it isn't clear whether he's actually Jesus or some kind of con man and/or crazy. The other characters are split on whether he's really Jesus.
  • Bones:
    • "The Man in the Morgue" takes place in New Orleans, and of course involves Hollywood Voodoo, and even some Easy Amnesia. Surprisingly, it plays the trope rather well - the viewer is left wondering if Bones is drugged or hexed.
    • Another episode was a Blair Witch Project homage. The ghost of the witch is revealed to be fake, until the end, when Angela and Hodgins discover the blurred outline of a woman in some video footage. It could be just moonlight...
    • A mild example in "The X in the File" where we get a few alien scares only to turn out to have perfectly normal explanations. One of them even freaks out Brennan when a fossilized woman suddenly rises up during an MRI scan (she had some metal in her). The ending, though, creeps out many viewers using the Nothing Is Scarier trope: Brennan and Booth are only on a car hood in a remove field looking up at stars and discussing the possibility of the existence of alien life. Suddenly, all sounds stop, including the insects and the wind, and the characters look very disconcerted. Smash to Black.
    • Booth is kidnapped by the Gravedigger, but escapes the trap thanks to the apparent ghost of a service buddy who was killed in Iraq. It's mentioned specifically by Bones that some of the things Booth did to escape would've been impossible to do himself, and the ghost appears to Bones when they visit his grave (she never knew the man and thinks he's just a soldier visiting the cemetery). A later episode tries to Do in the Wizard with the revelation that Booth has a brain tumor.
    • “The Ghost in the Machine”: Told entirely from the POV of the skull of a dead boy. Avalon, Angela’s psychic friend says he’s still there. The squints reject it but keep talking to him. After the case is solved, he’s still said to be there until they find the mixtape he made for a friend. It then appears he’s departing the skull.
    • “The Shot in the Dark” has Brennan being shot and seeing her dead mom in an Afterlife Antechamber while Booth pulls her back. She insists it’s a hallucination but Christine tells her to tell Max she knew his first gift to her was stolen. When Brennan tells Max, he says only he knew that.
    • “The Psychic in the Soup” has Avalon saying she feels Sweets. Christine has an imaginary friend she calls Buddy but though she says she’s pretending to feel better, there are hints it might be more. She says Buddy wants a book and it ties into Avalon seeing “drive thumb”. Angela realizes it’s thumb drive and finds the drive containing Sweets’ book in his car, which was being sold.
  • In the Boy Meets World Halloween episode "The Witches of Pennbrook", Jack dates a girl who claims to be a witch, and later reveals she has evil intentions: she tries to use Jack as a sacrifice to gain immortality by placing him in the path of a light beam from the sky she claims has destructive powers, though her plans are thwarted by Eric. At the end it is left unclear if she was really a witch or just crazy and if the light beam was real or not. Eric actually says something similar to the trope name when discussing it.
    Jack: Eric, I saw the light beam. Was that real?
    Eric: Jack, maybe it was and maybe it wasn't. There are some things just too big for our puny heads to comprehend.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • One memorable episode featured a demon that caused Buffy to hallucinate herself in a mental hospital. Her mother was still alive, her parents were still together, and she was diagnosed as paranoid and delusional. The episode never really explained if everything we've ever seen in the show is real, or all part of a sad girl's hallucinations. (Or both. It's not the first time we've seen alternate universes on Buffy: maybe there's one reality where everything we see happens, and another where Buffy hallucinates it all.)
    • In the episode "Amends", a snowfall prevents Angel from killing himself. The chances of a blizzard in Southern California are incredibly small, but there's still a chance that it was entirely mundane. In the Angel spinoff series it's further hinted at that the Powers That Be may have intervened, but it's still left pretty ambiguous.
  • Castle:
    • "He's Dead, She's Dead" has a murdered "psychic" who may have left behind a prediction of her own murder... or maybe it was left by the murderer to confuse the police. Castle wants to believe theory A, Beckett believes theory B. At the end the culprit is lawyered up and not telling. The victim's daughter, also a psychic, tells Beckett that someone with the name Alexander would be important. She finally tells Castle the woman mentioning Alexander to further her argument against psychics since nobody in the case had that name. Turns out, Castle's birth name was Richard Alexander Rogers. She's left to wonder if she was wrong or if it was a coincidence.
    • "Demons" is set in a supposedly Haunted House, with Castle again taking the role of believer and Beckett the role of skeptic. Although there's ultimately a mundane explanation that plausibly explains the events of the episode, there's still one or two things that suggest the house could be haunted after all. There's also the ending, which has the elevator button light up and the door open before Castle can hit it...
    • The physical hints we get of time travel in "Time Will Tell" can be explained by coincidence. But, and it's doubtful the writers realized this unless they actually were intending to turn the show into science fiction, what cannot be explained away is that the entire plot makes no sense at all if you assume the "time travelers" are just delusional. The behavior of the actual killer makes absolutely no sense if the killer is not a time traveler. The "official" story, if he's not a time traveler, would be that he first tracked down the person he wanted to kill, then tracked down a letter that person sent and made a copy (how did he even know about this letter?), then tracking down someone who knew where the recipient of that letter was (without anyone noticing all this)… and at that point he turned around and started committing his crimes, pretending to work in the opposite direction by torturing that last person so he could "find" the original letter, and use that to "find" the person he wanted to kill.
    • In "Scared to Death" it appears that the ghost of a serial killer is sending cursed DVDs to the people who testified against him, scaring them to death. It turns out not to be the case, obviously enough, but one thing is left unsolved after the real culprit is caught, what happened to his body? Turns out, he was never buried, his body disappeared from the morgue and the coffin was buried empty. Were his claims of immortality true, did he find a way to survive his execution and escape, or did someone steal the body?
    • In "Smells Like Teen Spirit", the various instances apparently involving telekinesis are all explained as special effects involving fishing line and magnets by the perpetrator. Except at the end Beckett mentions to Castle that they never found any of that in his house.
      • Though the way Beckett says this, and the fact that she only brings it up after Castle's bummed about the mundanity of the case (coupled with the fact that she usually plays the skeptic, trying to squash his supernatural theories) suggests she might have been trying to cheer him up. The incident referred to was explicitly one character proving to another that no telekinesis was involved, which would make it the strangest time to find no indication of special effects. And since the case is over, Castle has no reason to dig deeper and find out for himself what evidence was or was not at the scene, meaning he has every excuse to believe what he wants. But in keeping with the trope, that's ambiguous as well, since the audience doesn't know either way. We also only have Beckett's word to go on, since we didn't see any wires either.
    • In "The Time of Our Lives", an Incan artifact appears to send Castle into an Alternate Universe where he and Beckett never met. While at first it appears that It Was All A Dream, at the end of the episode Beckett arrests three murderers that Castle met in that universe, but had never seen previously, implying that the trip was real.
    • In one episode, an attempted victim is believed to be the Antichrist by the villain. When Castle knocks the weapon away from him, he goes after it and a number of pipes fall on him. The supposed Antichrist comments on how lucky that that was, but it's left ambiguous whether or not it was just luck or if he used his demonic powers to cause them to fall.
  • Cheers:
    • An episode of involved a guy who wanted to be a priest, who was having cold feet one day before being ordered, who managed to touch an old piano in the bar that has been out of order by years. The piano worked! Cloud Cuckoo Lander Coach even says: “I can’t believe it”. All the cast convinced the guy that it must be a signal that he was special and he must become a priest. He agrees and left the bar. When all comment the miracle, Coach says he repaired the piano a week ago. When they ask him why he said “I can’t believe it” if he knew the piano was working, he answered that all those years he left the piano broke without any further thought, but just a week ago he felt the irrepressible urge to repair the piano, before it was too late.
    • The episode "Fortune and Men's Weights" was much the same way; Coach bought an antique scale for the bar that also distributed a fortune-card with each weight reading. Carla believes this as true at once while the rest of the bar is skeptical. Over the course of a few days all fortunes it distributes come true, and even rational Diane begins to wonder about its potential power. Sam maintains it's just a machine and everyone's taking the idea too far. When Sam and Diane have a particularly rough fight that could endanger their entire relationship, he kicks the machine in anger. Diane insists the card may tell the future of if their being together is a good idea or not, Sam replies it's meaningless. At her coaxing he finally reads the card.
      Sam: Machine empty.
    • Cheers subverted this when no one in Norm's Department Store Santa class could identify the realistic Santa from their class, which caused Frasier (in full Ebenezer mode) to ponder if it was the real Santa. When the Santa returns, he asks if anyone had a jump for his car. Frasier is still amazed and filled with the Christmas spirit because for a brief moment, he actually thought Santa Claus was real.
  • Cold Case does this at the end of almost every episode, with the "ghost" of the episode's victim appearing to either the detectives or someone they were close to in life. Normally, this could be written off as simply Rule of Symbolism... except the living people actually seem to react to these apparitions. Notably, the victim in "Disco Inferno" manages to have a fully-choreographed dance number with his old girlfriend from beyond the grave.
  • Community has featured malicious robots, ghosts, telepaths, and evil alternate reality versions of the main characters. In all cases it's unclear whether the supernatural elements exist only in the characters' imagination. Ironically the zombie plague caused by infected meat, the one incident that almost definitely did happen, is the one no one can remember.
  • In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the Dream Ghost shows Rebecca things that she should have no way of knowing, but claims to be a manifestation of her subconscious, so it could be that she already knew these things deep down. Heavily lampshaded in the song:
    Dream Ghost: It's not clear if I'm hallucinated or actually magic. Let's keep it vague; it's more interesting that way!
  • Criminal Minds:
    • The episode "With Friends Like These" features a man named Ben who seems to be haunted by three "demons" who nobody else can see, and who force him to commit murder. The detectives dismiss them first as drug-induced hallucinations and then as symptoms of schizophrenia, but both explanations are eventually ruled out and it’s left unclear as to whether or not they were real.
    • The episode "Demonology" features men being killed during exorcisms. The team suspects an untraceable poison like ricin might have been used in the "holy water," since the priest performing these exorcisms seems to have an explicit vendetta against the victims, and it's also brought up that the mere stress of being tied down to a bed and dehydrated for extended periods can trigger death (especially for one of the victims, who was a chronic drug user in poor health), but the "untraceable" part of it makes it impossible to know for sure whether supernatural forces were in play. While he's smug and self-righteous, the priest never does anything to outright indicate he's killing these men, and even the incident he's theoretically avenging is mostly just the team's speculation (he never brings it up and doesn't engage when the team confronts him with it). At the end of the episode, Emily, who's struggling with her own past in relation to the Catholic faith, steps onto the grounds of a Church and immediately gets a nosebleed. The last shot of the episode is her looking up to the sky, contemplating whether this is a coincidence or a sign.
    • The show makes sweet, sweet monkey love to this trope on a regular basis. Did the Satanic serial killer really have supernatural help, or was he just ludicrously lucky? Did the various psychics that the team encounter really have powers, or was it just a coincidence? Was the bullet that killed Tobias Hankel really divine will, or was it just luck? Rossi gives a little speech at one point where he outright states that he has no idea whether or not the supernatural exists, but that figuring out the answer to that question isn't part of their job, and their job is tough enough as it is.
  • CSI
    • The Cold Open of an episode showing a psychic giving a reading that makes no sense to her customers, but it apparently turns out that she had foreseen her own death. Or she was a crappy psychic who was just looking around the room for random things to say and the connection of those things to her death were entirely coincidental. The reason she was murdered was an even bigger example of this — she was asked to help find the location of a murdered child's body and her attempt at reassuring the family ("She's in Summerland (a New Age version of Heaven)") was heard by the police and the killer as "she's in Summerlin (the neighborhood where the killer dumped the body)"). Grissom chalks it up to coincidence but he still feels sad that it led to someone's death.
    • The Villain of the Week in the episode "Go To Hell" is a psychotic teenager who ends the episode killing her entire family and is assassinated in a Vigilante Execution. The episode leaves in the air whether or not the family's belief that she was possessed by a demon was just typical parental hysteria at seeing their child suddenly go bad, the girl acting up to try to set an Insanity Defense, or the real thing.
  • The entire point of Cupid, the 1998 version, was to be ambiguous as to whether Trevor was genuinely Cupid, or crazy. The 2009 version likewise fits with this trope.
  • The Defenders (2017): Madame Gao. Throughout her appearances in Daredevil (2015) and Iron Fist (2017), she knows pretty much everything there is to know about everyone she talks to, which makes her an extremely effective negotiator and adept at breaking people with her words. Neither the audience nor other characters can tell whether her intelligence network is just that good or if it's tied to her mystical origins. As she tells Wilson Fisk, she is fully aware of how odd her somewhat mystical trappings make her seem to others, which sometimes lets them underestimate her as a shrewd, intelligent businesswoman.
    Madame Gao: [mockingly, in Mandarin] Did I divine the location [of your penthouse] from bones and spells, chanted beneath the moonlight? No. I discovered it because you have grown sloppy. [clicks tongue] And emotional.
  • Dickinson: Though most of the fantastic things Emily sees may be hallucinations, once she mentions Death told her that a war is coming which will kill a million soldiers, which was true. Thus it's left possible her visions of him at least are real.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor may have pockets that are Bigger on the Inside, but he may just cut a hole in his pockets through to the lining. Considering these explanations are given for two different costumes, it may even be both.
    • "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit" featured Satan as a Monster of the Week. Is it really him, or just a Sufficiently Advanced Alien who happens to resemble our popular conception of the Devil and perhaps was even the basis for our and other Devil myths? Never established for certain. For contrast, the original series story "The Dæmons" (1971) had a similar Monster of the Week, which were explicitly Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
    • "Listen" has the Doctor theorizing the existence of, and searching for, a creature that has evolved into the "perfect hider". In the end, the creature is never seen and every one of the situations encountered has a mundane (if occasionally farfetched) explanation (of course, it's never revealed who it was under the cover in the foster home, or why Orson Pink would be so freaked out by something outside the hatch on a dead planet). Coupled with a revelation about why the Doctor is searching for the creature in the first place, the episode leaves it completely ambiguous whether the creature ever existed at all.
    • In "Last Christmas", Santa Claus's appearance is ultimately confirmed to be part of an elaborate shared dream experience... but as Clara and the Doctor take off for more adventures, we see a tangerine left on Clara's windowsill...
      • Essentially, there are three possible explanations for Santa: 1) he's merely a dream construct; 2) he was the real deal; or 3) there is a Santa Claus in the Whoniverse, but the one in the episode wasn't the real deal.
  • Edge of Darkness: Are Craven's regular conversations with the ghost of his murdered daughter real, hallucinations, or conscious daydreams? And is the Earth itself preparing to intentionally wipe out humanity?
  • The Eerie, Indiana episode "Heart on a Chain" is the only one in the series that never answers its mystery. A shy, terminally ill girl has a crush on a devil-may-care boy, who dies in a freak accident. A heart transplant from his fresh corpse saves her. She then begins acting increasingly bizarre (with a lot less self-control). It is left completely unclear until the end whether his heart's personality has taken over hers (as the Agent Mulder believes), or whether guilt has made her not herself.
  • In an episode of Eleventh Hour (American), water that cured a boy's cancer proves to be heavy water. However, as the FBI agent points out at the end, this discovery leads to the arrest of domestic terrorists which otherwise would have gone completely unnoticed.
  • The Wizard (specifically, his tools and other accomplishments) in Emerald City. While he definitely uses technology, his giant stone statues seem a little bit... more advanced than the rest of his devices. He also is able to keep control of Oz and keep the Witches under control despite being (or appearing to be) a perfectly normal man.
  • ER had an episode where a jolly, bearded toymaker comes in... and has mysteriously vanished by the end of the episode.
    • ER also had a Christmas episode where Benton offhandedly touches a blind hypothermia patient's forehead, and said patient suddenly (and temporarily) regains his sight, causing several homeless people to station themselves in the ER to get "healed" by the "miracle worker". Benton predictably brushes their claims off with annoyance, but keeps getting his claim that it was just a coincidence weakened by random occurrences like a broken vacuum suddenly starting up again when Benton passes by. At the end of the episode, Benton still won't address the issue, but is told by Neurology that no one can find a medical reason for why the man got his sight back for an afternoon.
  • Core to Evil (2019). The series follows a team of "assessors" for the Roman Catholic Church, whose job it is to judge whether phenomena are mundane, miraculous, or diabolical. David Acosta, a priest in training, is the believer, while his partners, forensic psychologist Kristen Bouchard and techie Ben Shakir, are the skeptics. Most of the time, it falls on the "mundane" side, although David still believes in the "magic" side.
    • This applies to Kristen's night terrors. First, she assumes that they aren't real, just dreams, but then a serial killer taunts her with knowledge from the dream that only she knows... but then she realizes that someone fed him that information after stealing her therapist's notes. But then her daughter starts seeing the same demon in her dreams... until Kristen realizes it's because they both watched the same scary movie that had the same looking demon. Except then they watch a Behind the Scenes segment with the person who developed the monster makeup... and he reveals that it came to him in his dreams.
    • The second episode has a Broadway producer's smart speaker get hacked by a disgruntled tech support guy to trick him into thinking he was being haunted. However, the tech support guy insists he stopped several days before the team started investigating, and yet the hack has continued, and metastasizes to the Shakirs' own smart speaker when Ben takes it home to investigate it. After it starts ranting at his sister in Arabic that Iblis has her child, he throws it in the back of a garbage truck rather than investigate further.
    • Recurring villain Leland Townsend. By day, he acts as an Evil Counterpart to Kristen, giving false testimony as a forensic psychologist and trying to discredit her work for the D.A., For the Evulz according to him. However, David speaks to him as if he's an actual demon, and he appears in scenes where David is praying or trying to interpret a psilocybin-induced hallucination trying to distract him.
    • The fourth episode deals with a demonic possession case in the middle of an exorcism. The church insists it's real, based on the fact that all the psychiatrists the patient has been to have given contradictory diagnoses and no other treatment has worked. Kristen and her own psychiatrist both believe it's schizophrenia, while David and the padre are sure it's demonic possession. David prays over the victim and tells her she has the courage to cast the demon out, and she appears to fully recover.
    • "177 Minutes" has a teenager die and then seemingly be revived during her autopsy. Further investigation seems to show that she had been saved by the spirit of a patient who had died a few minutes before her, and an image of the patient shows up in footage of the teenager receiving chest compressions. Eventually, it's uncovered that the hospital staff simply called the time of death of black patients like the teenager faster, resulting in them not realizing she was still alive. However, Ben still can't explain how the image of the dead patient got into the camera footage, and the teenager saw a vision of the patient before she "revived".
  • The Christmas Episode of Eureka features Dr. Noah Drummer, whose experiment will supposedly bring "peace to Earth", but which actually saves the town and gives it a White Christmas, before he leaves, saying he has "an errand to run", but will be back at the same time next year.
    Kid: Sheriff Carter, please tell me you aren't saying this Drummer dude was Santa?
    Carter: I'm just telling the story. You can believe whatever you want.
    • Drummer re-appears in the second Christmas Episode, in which he appears shortly after the holographic storybook that's controlling things has been told to add Santa to the story. As in the previous story, his influence is what gives the story its happy ending. He again refers to having errands to run, and has a dog-sled with a lead dog called Rudy.
    • The crossover with Warehouse 13 would also place the series in a universe that contains literal magic.
  • Fargo:
    • Lorne Malvo seems like just a mundane, albeit sociopathic, hitman and Manipulative Bastard who likes screwing with people. But his extreme competence, the way he acts like he knows everybody, the large collection of tapes he has from people who's lives he's ruined over the years, and his odd mannerisms and statements (like claiming to have had pie at the Garden of Eden) make him feel off. As if he's something more than human.
    • Stavros Milos finds the ransom money that Showalter buried in the snow near the end of the original movie. Stavros is convinced that him finding the money was an miracle and gift from God. While the audience knows the backstory behind how the money got there, Stavros just happening to stumble upon it in the middle of a massive snow-covered field feels like an awfully big coincidence...
    • Throughout the second season, the various characters see odd occurrences. Unexplained lights in the night sky, strange sounds coming in over radios, Hank sketching strange symbols in his room ( which he claims to be an attempt at making a universal language), Betsy's weird experimental chemo drugs, and people making drawings of a UFO hovering over a family. All of these are sufficiently ambiguous that it's not clear whether there really is some sort of alien activity going on or if there's a mundane explanation. And than in the middle of the climatic shootout at the motel, what seems to be a UFO actually shows up, saving Lou by distracting Bear and Hanzee. Afterwards, nobody can explain what it was or what happened; it just appears and disappears. So was it responsible for all the weird stuff that's been happening, or is it unrelated? Did it save Lou on purpose or was it just passing by? Did a UFO even really appear, since the Mockumentary framing device leaves the possibility that the characters simply misinterpreted what they saw?
  • And example that involves two different forms of "magic" but still counts. In the Farscape episode "Taking the Stone", Rygel steals gold and jewels from a royal tomb, but returns them after suffering poltergeist phenomena. It's left unclear for the audience whether this was due to an actual vengeful spirit, or to the team psychic Zhaan using her powers to scare him straight.
  • In a more sci-fi spin on the trope, River's Psychic Powers from Firefly are left very ambiguous, with minor hints pushing the audience and the characters to suspect that River can read minds. It's implied they would have been explored further had the show not been canceled prematurely, and they are confirmed in the Big Damn Movie Serenity.
  • The Flash (2014): We never learn just what exactly Savitar's armor is made from. Given the revelation of his identity, he could have built it with advanced science, but considering some of his more unnatural abilities that aren't displayed by other speedsters, a more magical explanation is possible.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Osha warns that the old gods cannot help the Starks in the south because the weirwoods there were all cut down, and as it happens no Stark who goes south has a good time.
    • Was the red comet in "The North Remembers" an omen or just a coincidence?
    • Are all of tragedies and downfalls the Stark family endure punishment for Catelyn breaking her Bargain with Heavennote ? Or is it just Catelyn's guilt taking?
    • Beric Dondarrion's flaming sword breaks during a trial by combat. Did the fire weaken the steel, or did his god judge against him?
    • Stannis performs a magic ritual cursing his rival kings. Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, and Balon Greyjoy all die from various means, but it may just be coincidence. Furthermore, Stannis is killed by Brienne, but then the ritual was only meant to curse them, not protect himself.
  • In God Friended Me, the main character is an atheist who gets contacted by an account in Facebook that calls itself "God", sending him mysterious friend suggestions, with the first being a man that he saves from committing suicide by train, and then later turns out to be a doctor who saves the life of another major character. The main mystery of the show is trying to figure out who/what is behind the "God Account".
  • The Good Witch, a series of made-for-TV movies on The Hallmark Channel, centers around an attractive woman (Catherine Bell) who relocates to a small town, moves into an abandoned house reputed to be haunted, and opens up a shop full of new-age/occult items, prompting the locals to suspect that she may be a witch. She never does anything overtly supernatural, but it's never confirmed that she isn't a witch either...
  • Hand of God: Whether Pernell is really being given divine visions, hallucinating (or both) is played with throughout the series.
  • There have been suggestions that Hannibal might take place in a world where supernatural creatures exist as opposed to the strictly material world of previous adaptations. Aside from the idea that Hannibal himself is partly demonic in nature, the Angel Maker Killer in "Coquille" was taking medication for a brain tumor that might explain why he hallucinated his victims as being evil and killed them, but there was no way to explain how he could have known that his victims actually had performed acts considered evil.
  • In HarmonQuest, guest character Dildo Bogpelt performs a Stealth Hi/Bye on the party at the end of the episode and disappears, leaving it a little unclear if he was a kind of spirit or manifestation, or just a strange flesh-and-blood hobbit.
  • An episode of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates had Hetty hired to expose a psychic as a fraud and blackmailer. The psychic predictably uses cold reading techniques to find fodder, and Hetty uses her leading questions to make up a scandalous affair in her husband's past. However, the psychic does accurately describe a long-dead relative of Hetty's when supposedly searching for Hetty's dead husband, and obliquely predicts the birth of Hetty's grandchild, including hints to her name and health complications.
  • Frequently in Houdini & Doyle, there's a wrinkle to the Mystery of the Week that isn't easily explained.
    • During the episode with the faith healer, Houdini suffers from symptoms that get worse every time he denounces God. After the healer loses his faith after learning that his sister had been attacking his hecklers, Houdini collapses and wakes up recovered. Also, Doyle's wife, who had awoken after the faith healer visited (despite Harry's insistence that it was the result of a seemingly failed experimental treatment), falls asleep again.
    • "Spring-Heeled Jack": not all the attacks were perpetrated by the suspect who's arrested, with the last shot being of a possible second "Jack" watching the characters from a rooftop.
    • In the next episode, the medium turned out to have deduced the location of the first kidnapped girl through observations, and gone to the police so she could get to her, but how she knew both that Doyle's wife was still alive (in addition to her nickname) and where to find the information on Stratton's real identity is unexplained.
    • "Bedlam": How did Doyle's hallucination of his father know about the liquor hidden in the piano?
    • We never see how the self-professed vampire lady got into and out of Doyle's home, nor how she broke Stoker out of jail. We also don't receive a solid explanation for how Stoker got out of the hotel. Stoker is also implied to himself be a vampire.
    • Though a lot of what occurs with the Necro-phone is chalked up to either a deliberate hoax by the killer or the power of suggestion combined with coincidence, some of it, like Harry hearing his mother and the massive psychokinetic episode that occurs right before the device is destroyed, is more ambiguous.
  • House:
    • "House vs. God": A teenage faith healer somehow manages to shrink the size of a terminal cancer patient's tumor. By the end, it's revealed that the healer had herpes, certain strains of which have been known to combat some forms of cancer. However, as Chase points out, the odds of it being both the right strain of virus and the right type of cancer were astronomical, leaving the possibility of divine intervention open.
    • In another episode, a priest has a vision of Jesus, seeks medical attention, and starts displaying other symptoms. The priest, having long lost his faith in God, initially assumes it's fully mundane. House ultimately finds the right diagnosis by deliberately ignoring the hallucination, and treating based on the other symptoms. House concludes that the hallucination was simply an unexplained coincidence, but the priest becomes convinced that the vision was sent by God to save him.
  • The world of The Leftovers virtually runs on this trope. Several years before the start of the series, about 2% of the world's population vanished in an instant, with no explanation, and no discernible link as to why it was those people who vanished. Ever since then there has been a huge rise in Apocalypse Cults, self-proclaimed prophets, psychics, faith healers, as well as people having visions or feeling that they have some greater divine purpose, etc. While most can be safely discounted, some appear to be genuinely propelled by supernatural elements, and telling them apart can be almost impossible. Sometimes even the people doing these actions aren't sure, for example in the finale of Season 1, a cult leader who had apparently successfully healed many people's minds tearfully confesses that he's not sure if his gift is real, or if he's just a very talented con man.
  • Legend of the Seeker: It's unclear if Maya really was the Creator's human incarnation or not, though Kahlan believes that she is.
  • The Lie to Me episode "Beat the Devil" has the verification of a UFO as its B-plot. Thirty-minute mark, they find (real!) video footage of it. Fifty-minute mark, an Air Force officer shows up, and Loker sees right through him to the truth: The Air Force has no idea what it was, but is more than happy to let the witness twist the story rather than admit to an unknown penetration of US airspace. They finally get the witness and the Air Force to agree on a story to save the witness' career: uber-uber-top-secret aircraft. Loker smiles and saves the video to hard drive as the episode ends.
  • Lost never definitively revealed the show's major mysteries as either essentially supernatural or essentially science fiction. The second-to-last season seemed to come down heavily on the side of science fiction, but the final season introduced plot elements that seemed balanced more toward supernatural explanations. Fans remain divided on whether the show ultimately came down on one side of the question, intentionally left things ambiguous to let each viewer decide, or was attempting a fusion of both SF and the supernatural.
  • MacGyver (1985): Vacuum cleaner salesman Phil Sternweis in "The Visitor". He gets MacGyver out of trouble several times in very unlikely fashion, and at one point can only be seen by MacGyver. The ending leaves the possibility open that he is a Human Alien.
  • Not unlike the already mentioned Hobbes, we have the eponymous character of McGee and Me!, an animated cartoon character created by the show's other main character Nicholas Martin. It's never really made clear whether or not McGee is a real character, just a figment of Nick's imagination, or someone who only Nick is able to interact with. Evidence for all theories exist over the show's run. McGee can apparently be seen by animals such as the family dog and a raccoon, sometimes has his own adventures separate from Nick, and can interact with real life objects to a certain extent. But on the other hand, McGee usually disappears when another person starts talking to Nick, nor is he ever seen by anyone else other than Nick.
  • In the Mental episode "Do Over", Dr. Gallagher treats a man who is convinced that he's been reincarnated and that he's experiencing visions of his past life. Rather than dismiss the theory as a delusion, Jack decides to proceed from the notion that the visions are real, and tries to help the man figure out who he was in a past life in the hopes that this will bring him peace. The series itself never makes any attempt to argue that the patient is wrong.
  • Murdoch Mysteries does this occasionally, most notably with the possibly-Not-So-Phony Psychic in "Elementary, My Dear Murdoch" and the Reincarnation Romance in "Lovers in a Murderous Time".
  • The show Mysterious Ways bases its entire premise on this, with a quirky teacher wanting to find a "smoking gun" of supernatural activity but always ending up with plausible but unlikely alternate explanations.
  • On Mystery Hunters, the hosts would sometimes be unable to conclusively explain everything rationally, leaving the possibility of the supernatural.
  • Nanny and the Professor introduced Phoebe, a nanny that arrives in America to tend to a widower and his family—before they even know of her or that she is coming. In the first ten minutes of the show's pilot, Nanny greets an airport's agent, explains where she came from (England) and where she is going. However, the only flight coming from England that day had just arrived at the gate as Nanny walks away. Nanny's ability to speak to animals, her tendencies to know what is coming before it happens, and the like, is never explained. The character of Nanny is ostensibly a Mary Poppins archetype, the magical/mystical housekeeper.
  • A strange example in the usually reality-based NCIS. In the fourth season finale "Angel of Death", Dr. Jeanne Benoit encounters a little girl outside the hospital who may or may not be the Angel of Death. It's strongly implied to the viewer that she really is.
    • In Season 13, we also get a very mundane explanation for Gibbs' copious Right Behind Me and Stealth Hi/Bye moments when McGee and DiNozzo are standing in a corner, discussing Bishop's marriage, assuming she can't hear them because they're too far away, only for her to reveal that she can, because their voices are reverberating off of the skylight.
    DiNozzo: "Wait a second. Is that how Gibbs is always able to—
    [right on cue, Gibbs appears out of nowhere]
    Gibbs: —walk up behind you and finish your sentences?
  • Comes up in the subplot of one NUMB3RS episode, in which Alan and Charlie have dreams about Margaret. Are these just typical dreams generated by their own subconscious minds, or is Margaret actually communicating with them from beyond the grave? The characters treat it as the former, but it's never explicitly stated one way or the other.
    • Also comes up in the case of supposed psychic Simon Kraft. No one really believes he has supernatural powers, but at the same time, they never do find a rational explanation for how he could have known some of the things he did.
  • Paranormal Home Inspectors runs on the idea that each house might be haunted or the various events might be completely mundane, such as bad wiring causing flickering lights or pets moving stuffed animals around.
  • Proof runs on this trope, as the protagonist is a surgeon skeptical of the existence of an afterlife, despite having had her own near-death experience once. The billionaire Ivan Turing recruits her precisely because of her skepticism, and each episode deals with a unique mystery (often medical) with a seemingly paranormal bent. Usually, the episode ends with almost everything neatly explained, but some mysteries are left open to interpretation.
  • In Quantum Leap, Zoey reminds Alia that "We clawed our way out of hell" to get their evil leaping jobs. It's extremely vague on whether Zoey was using hyperbole or they were literally from Hell, but given the presence of other paranormal stuff in the series, the literal meaning is disturbingly plausible.
  • Rescue Me: Tommy often interacts with the ghosts of the various people who have died on the show (and Jesus at one point). This shows up as early as the first episode, with his cousin Jimmy who had died during the 9/11 rescue efforts. Most of the time it can be written off as Tommy hallucinating or imagining them as a coping mechanism, but sometimes he gets in fistfights with them, and sometimes they win.
  • Zack's ability to stop time in Saved by the Bell. At first it just seems like an easy way to have him express exposition to the audience, but a few episodes have him use it like he's actually stopping time - like when he uses it to grab a book to use as a shield against a bully's punch. Whether or not he can is never explained.
  • Seinfeld:
    • In episode "The Chicken Roaster" is Kramer's ventriloquist dummy Mr. Marbles really a Demonic Dummy and moving on his own or is just Jerry's imagination? While sleeping in Kramer's appartment it could be just random noises however while in his appartment a shadow of a dummy is seen in the background.
    • In episode "The Andrea Doria" the "bad breaker" is a guy who when a woman breaks with him he tells them some sort of insult based on a physical atribute, however reality seems to warp around the insult some how. He calls Elaine "big head" and out of the sudden everything around her seems to re-inforce this, something never shown before, and this has clearly happened before with other women for the way he is constantly attacked by them. But, it could also be just a series of coincidences and Elaine's own induced paranoia.
  • Several episodes of Seven Days play with the concept of supernatural but never outright confirm or deny it. One episode has a Brazilian shaman appear to cause a thunderstorm to appear out of nowhere to power a Sphere. Another episode has a voodoo practitioner possibly cause an execution to be stopped and the true villain punished. Yet another episode possibly implies that the villain (a chrononaut from years in the future, who attempts to kick-start World War III) may, in fact, be The Devil. Then again, this is a show that uses alien technology to go back in time and has featured aliens several times, as well as a gremlin-like creature from another dimension. Various problems with the Sphere have also caused Parker to become the Pope, travel to the Mirror Universe, mentally revert to his ten-year-old self, meet a dead person, and become a ghost himself. At that point, it seems pretty silly to outright discount the supernatural.
  • In Six Feet Under it was generally clear that the visions of dead people the characters had were in their imaginations (as emphasized by e.g. Nate Sr.'s different behaviour depending on who saw him). Still, there were a few occasions with very slight hints that something more might be going on, as with Claire meeting the dead Lisa, or Brenda meeting Nate Sr. (whom she'd never known while he was alive) or, hardest to otherwise explain, David and Nate sharing the same dream right before Nate dies.
  • Throughout Sons of Anarchy, Jax Teller constantly encounters a homeless woman. She seems to show up, right before a life altering act of violence happens. During the final episode of the final season, Jax encounter her for the last time. He questions who she is, but she responds by reminding him that he has a final act to perform. That final act? Committing suicide by vehicle to prevent himself being captured by law enforcement. The question remains: Was the encounters just a coincidence, of was she the Grim Reaper in human form? Others think that she's the ghost of Emily Putner (mother of Brooke Putner), who was killed in the same car accident that killed Jax's dad. According to Kurt Sutter, she may be a human form taken by Jesus Christ himself, an interpretation reinforced by the final shot of the series, crows feasting on a wine-stained crust of bread left behind by the homeless woman, as Jax's blood flows across the road and stains the bread.
  • The Sopranos: When Christopher is writing the horror movie Cleaver, he mentions that its protagonist Michael rises from the grave, but doesn't decide whether it's done through technological or supernatural means.
  • In the Starz Spartacus series, Word of God has it that the creators decided at the start that there would be no overt supernatural intervention at any point. However, there are some incidents that qualify: was the whole "Bringer of Rain" incident supernatural or coincidence, and was Spartacus's fever-dream towards the end of the first season, that guided him to the realisation that the official story of his wife's death didn't hang together a message from the gods or his wife's spirit, or just his subconscious mind working away at the problem?
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Federation explains away the Prophets (the divinities of the Bajoran religion) as wormhole-dwelling aliens with a strange relationship to time. The Bajorans reframe the Federation's talk of wormholes and aliens in terms of their traditional religious beliefs. The show demonstrates how each culture comes to different conclusions from similar evidence, without coming down firmly in favor of one interpretation over another. Protagonist Benjamin Sisko, a Starfleet officer as well as Emissary of the Prophets (Space Muhammad, essentially), likes to point out that since both groups acknowledge them as having the same abilities it doesn't really matter.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • In the episode "Sacred Ground", Kes was saved either by Janeway's leap of faith or though a series of coincidental natural phenomena technobabbled after the fact by the Doctor. (Another explanation is that the Rubber-Forehead Aliens of the week were really Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who were just screwing with Kes and Janeway.)
    • In "Barge of the Dead", B'Elanna goes unconscious and sees her mother dead and going to what is essentially the Klingon (an alien species) version of Hell. They then deliberately induce a coma so she can redeem her mother. We never know if this really happened or was just a hallucination and technically we don't even know if B'Elanna's mother is even dead, although her father did say, "Your mother would've liked it" in a future episode, confirming at least that he has reason to believe she's dead.
  • St. Elsewhere: In "Playing God, Part 2", Dr. Fiscus' unconscious young patient is accompanied by a middle-aged woman claiming to be his fairy godmother; a miraculous improvement in the boy's condition and the random appearance and disappearance of the woman have Fiscus wondering.
  • The Suite Life on Deck episode "Rock the Kasbah" has Woody, Marcus, London, and Bailey having their wishes granted by a lamp they bought. Woody wishes for a burger, a kid upstairs drops his burger which Woody catches. Then Marcus jokingly wishes for the sun to disappear from the sky, cue London's clothing blimp flying in front of the sun. They then meet a genie who grants wishes like turning Woody into a dog, which turns out to be Bailey's dream, but it's enough to make her believe the lamp is magic. At the end Cody finds the lamp and wishes he had the earrings he had tried to buy for Bailey, which what Zack spent all day getting from him in the subplot. Then Bailey wishes she had her a special pie from her grandmom, which a delivery man resembling the genie, whose name was Eugene, delivers one to her.
  • Supernatural:
    • A particularly interesting example comes from the Season 2 episode "Houses of the Holy", because the boys have no trouble believing in all kinds of weird and unexplained things, but Dean refuses to believe that angels or God exist. At the end of the episode, even after they've stopped the vengeful spirit from killing the sinful man it was after, Dean watches the man die in a freak accident, and admits the possibility that it was God's will. This becomes especially ironic at the start of Season 4 where Angels are not only confirmed to exist but one of them becomes a main character.
    • There is some ambiguity over whether Lucifer's appearances in Season 7 were mere hallucinations or the real deal. Able to be stopped if Sam experienced physical pain to distinguish what was real and what wasn't until Sam actively began talking back to him, they were only ever canonically hallucinations from Sam going insane due to the memories of Lucifer torturing him in Hell and Sam no longer had them onscreen after Castiel absorbed his insanity, with the latter saying that they initially saw Lucifer as well but that this was "a projection of yours, an aftertaste." Lucifer seemed to be able to know and do things Sam didn't (playing with a knife that was later shown to still be in the table Lucifer stuck it, driving Sam to another location, figuring out clues to the episode of the week before Sam did), but the explanation for the actions in text was that it was Sam performing these actions himself without realizing it. The knowledge could've just been Sam's subconscious remembering and working things out that he wasn't consciously. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Except for the connection between archangels and vessels after the archangel leaves their vessel already established in Season 5's "Free to Be You and Me", and Word of Saint Paul statements that the supposed hallucination was an actual psychic projection of Lucifer appearing to Sam (according to Lucifer's actor Mark Pellegrino in the seventh season's official companion guide) and Sam may actually have continued to see Lucifer afterward (according to Sam's actor Jared Padalecki and sort of supported in a Season 8 flashback of Sam rubbing at the same scar he used to banish Lucifer hallucinations in Season 7). The ambiguity over whether it was real ties in nicely with suggestions in the early part of Season 7 that everything after Season 5 was an elaborate Lotus-Eater Machine Lucifer was running to give Sam false hope in the Cage before continuing to torture him.
  • Taboo: There's a level of mysticism in the series that's kept fairly low key, but some things stand out. James knows quite a bit about his father and his mother that, according to Brace, he should have no way of knowing. He claims to have heard his father calling out his confessions on the river bank from across the sea, and that he would answer back. Then there's his visions/hallucinations; first of the drowned slaves in episode one, the hunt in the forest in episodes three and seven, and his mother drowning him as a baby in episode six.
  • Unlike the original book, where the magic is very explicitly real, The Terror depicts its supernatural elements this way:
    • The Tuunbaq might be a mythical monster from Inuit Mythology, or it might just be a severely deformed and unusually intelligent/aggressive polar bear. Hickey and the natives clearly think it’s a spirit of some kind, yet the crew are able to physically hurt through normal means. It also seemingly eats the souls of several of it’s victims, leaving them catatonic... or maybe it just dealt them catastrophic brain damage, especially given the witnesses to the “soul eating” are very unreliable. And when it dies, it’s unclear if it was fatally poisoned by eating Hickey’s evil soul, or by the actual poison and diseases many of the sailors it ate were afflicted with.
    • Are the Inuit shamans really able to direct or control the Tuunbaq with their rituals, or is it just not aggressive towards them because it recognizes them as a source of food? What really blurs the issue is that Hickey tries to use the tongue-cutting ritual to pacify the monster... and it utterly fails. Did he do it wrong and get rejected as a result, or was it all just superstition after all?
    • The spring thaw never seems to happen and the ships are stuck in ice because of it; are the Tuunbaq or Inuit gods doing something to the weather to punish the crew for trespassing, or was it just an unusually long winter?
    • David Young has a vision of a ghostly naked shaman; is he seeing the soul of a dead man who’s trying to warn the crew away from the area, or just hallucinating? Notably, this vision happens while he’s dying of an illness and nearly delirious from the pain. Later, Manson swears he can hear the dead bodies stored in the ship’s hold shuffling around, but when Hickey goes in to investigate, he doesn’t see or hear anything. Was Manson just jumpy and hearing things? Or can he sense something the other crew members can’t?
  • True Detective:
    • Season 1:
      • At several points Rust sees strange things, like birds in the sky forming a perfect spiral shape or a vortex in the Killer's lair. Rust is upfront about suffering from hallucinations and disassociation, but is he really just imagining it?
      • It's never said for certain if the hints of a Lovecraftian force at work are for real or not. The Killer claims that the odd ruins he lives near are Carcosa, but they could just be the abandoned remains of some old fort. There was a cult dedicated to the King in Yellow who did some nasty things, but they could've just been a bunch of crazy people committing mundane crimes. The cult video Rust and Hart find makes them recoil in horror; is it some kind of horrible Brown Note they weren't meant to see, or were they just disgusted by the cult's cruelty in the footage? A child claims to have been chased through the swamp by a monster, but it could've just been the Killer wearing an unusual outfit in the dark. Hart's daughter starts behaving strangely and drawing creepy things, but it's not clear if it has anything to do with the case or if she's just an odd and overly imaginative kid. Ultimately, Rust takes the Magic side after a Near-Death Experience, while Hart seems to lean more towards the Mundane. The audience is left to decide which they consider more likely.
    • Season 3: Wayne Hays has Psychic Powers that allow him to perform Mental Time Travel and occasionally move things with his mind, but those powers are damaging his mind in his later years... or he’s just an old man struggling with dementia. His doctor is perplexed to find that he can’t figure out any cause for his memory loss and mental issues, but his symptoms are more or less similar to dementia and it’s easy to dismiss the “powers” as hallucinations or Hays piecing together information in his head. At one point, 1990 Hays glances at the exact spot where 2010 Hays will later be standing and seems discomfited; was he sensing being watched by his future self, or was he just feeling nervous over everything going on. The elder Hays also possibly causes a door in 1990 to swing open when his powers go haywire during a mental episode, or maybe the door just popped open on its own as doors sometimes do.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • The episode "The Thirty-Fathom Grave". A U.S. Navy destroyer crew investigates a strange knocking sound coming from a submarine sunk years earlier. One of the ship's crew escaped the sinking sub and feels Survivor Guilt: he thinks his old crew is angry at him because it was his mistake that caused the submarine to be torpedoed, and he survived while they didn't. At the end it's revealed that a dangling periscope inside the sub could have been making the knocking sound...but they also find that one of the dead men in the submarine is holding a hammer.
    • The episode "The Grave", apparently based on a similar well-traveled urban legend. A cowboy in the Old West visits the grave of his enemy on a bet, the dying man's own last words having been an assurance that if he went anywhere near the grave, the dead man would reach up and grab him. As proof, he has to plant a dagger into the plot. When he finally musters the courage to do so, you can't see what's happening but * something* snags him and he goes down stiffly, mostly off-screen. The next morning his corpse is found there by the townsfolk. He had had a heart attack and the dagger was pinning his garments to the ground, perhaps having been blown into his path by the wind, causing him to have mistaken the situation for the obvious supernatural substitute when he found himself snagged upon trying to turn away. But one of the people observes that "the wind was blowing in the opposite direction". The closing narration says that it's up to us to decide what to believe.
    • "Nick of Time" had its protagonists consider whether a penny fortune-telling machine could truly answer any yes-or-no question correctly, or if it was merely on a lucky streak. People who continue to believe in the machine are shown to stay in town and continue feeding in pennies for fear of their lives. Is it only paranoia, or does the mystic seer use real power to gain addicts?
    • In "A Thing About Machines", a guy believes machines are coming after him and we do seem them do just that. He dies when his car comes after him and he falls into a pool. While we see the car there the next morning, the closing narration however, implies that it could have just been in his imagination.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In "The Beacon", it is never made clear whether the Beacon is truly controlled by the spirit of Seth Janes as the people of Mellweather believe or whether it is simply an old lighthouse with a faulty mechanism as suggested by Dr. Dennis Barrows.
    • In "Many, Many Monkeys", Jean Reed and later Nurse Claire Hendricks come to believe that the plague of blindness spreading throughout the US was caused by people being cold and heartless towards each other. The government's explanation is that it was caused by the release of bacteria into the atmosphere after an accident in a top secret biological research lab in Alaska. It is not made clear which theory is correct.
  • Victorious: The show never explains what exactly is Robbie's relationship with Rex. Is Rex a sentient puppet, does Robbie have psychological problems, or is Robbie just really into character. Whatever the case, Robbie constantly treats Rex like he's real, asking him for advice at times. In one episode, Rex supposedly sabotages a harness, causing a student to get injured during a School Play. Did Rex really do this of his own accord, or did Robbie do it in a delusional state?
  • Vikings: The show is very ambiguous on whether or not the gods, magic, and prophecy are real or are just coincidences.
  • In an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger, a young man steals a priceless jade statue from a Triad gang, believing it has magical powers that can wake his sister from her coma. Walker dismisses this as nonsense, but defends the man from the vengeful gang. The man presents the statue to his sister and nothing happens, but she does wake up when the statue breaks. Walker treats this as a coincidence. It is implied that the statue did have magical powers, as it glowed in the presence of people who could channel their chi like martial artists.
  • In the Walking Dead universe, there are several incidents that may or may not be the intervention of God. For instance, Father Gabriel has repeated strokes of borderline-supernatural good luck, which notably don't extend to the people around him; in another instance, an injured Daniel Salazar, finding himself too weak to fight off a walker, starts praying, and then the walker gets struck by lightning, killing it and pushing Daniel into the water, where he floats down to people who can take care of him. Given the general state of things in this world, one could interpret these incidents as random chance rather than the actions of God, but...
  • In Warehouse 13, the basis of the show is powerful artifacts that produce near-magical effects. That's not the trope (although the organization does store them under the theory that someone will figure them out eventually). No, this trope comes into play because most artifacts were owned by famous historical figures well-known for something similar to what the artifact is capable of. It's never made clear whether their extraordinary skills created the artifacts, or if they became famous because they made use of the artifacts.
    Artie: Maybe it worked on her, maybe she worked on it...the point is, it worked.
  • Watchmen (2019): As with the original comic, all of the main characters and costumed vigilantes (excluding Doctor Manhattan) are just Badass Normals. However, there are two noteworthy cases of characters that might actually have superpowers.
    • First off, there's Will Reeves somehow drinking scalding hot coffee without a problem and later reaching into a boiling pot of water to grab an egg without even flinching. Keep in mind that Reeves is over a century old, and he also claims to be the one who killed and hanged Judd Crawford despite being an old man bound to a wheelchair. Though to be fair, the latter is later confirmed to have a mundane explanation - Reeve's not actually crippled and he used a special strobe light to force Crawford to hang himself.
    • Second, there's Looking Glass/Wade Tillman. Throughout the series, he's portrayed as having Awesomeness by Analysis abilities, being incredibly perceptive and observant of even the smallest details to the point where he can almost come across as psychic whenever he's interrogating someone. However, he's still fallible, and has been hoodwinked more than once, especially when those who are trying to investigate him play on his past as a Shell-Shocked Veteran.
  • The BBC/Starz series The White Queen portrays Queen Elizabeth (the consort of Edward IV, not the more famous daughter of Henry VIII), her mother, Jacquetta Woodville, and her eldest daughter, also named Elizabeth, as actual witches with real magic powers. Except the show does leave a little ambiguity, since it is possible that all the spells we see them cast appear to work purely by coincidence. For example, when they cast a spell to cause a storm, it is possible that the storm would have occurred naturally anyway. Still, considering that every spell they cast seems to produce its desired result, this would be an amazing series of coincidences.
  • In The Whole Truth, Harold Perrineau's character is accused of murder because he leads police to a body and claims he knew where it was because he's a psychic. While he does appear to know things which he couldn't have without special powers, evidence is also given that he could have faked it as well. It's left unresolved either way.
  • Is Wilfred the product of Ryan's imagination, or some sort of paranormal occurrence? Wilfred himself loves to keep it ambiguous just to mess with Ryan.
  • This happened in a very large number of episodes in The X-Files. Examples include these episodes:
    • The killer in the episode "Grotesque" is eventually revealed to be a profiler who looked too long into the abyss of a particular serial killer and turned into his copy cat. Whether this is a psychological effect or transferred demonic possession is left up to the viewer.
    • "One Breath": Who or what was the nurse attending to the critically ill Scully? The supervisor said there was no "Nurse Owens" working at the hospital, and no one matching that decription. We never do get an answer. Was she an angel? A member of the conspiracy planted there? One fanfic proposed she was a friend of Frohike sneaked in so someone trustworthy was watching.
    • "All Souls": It's left unclear whether Agent Scully's dead daughter Emily was really appearing to her or Scully was hallucinating.
    • "Irresistible": Donnie Pfaster's shape shifting into demonic forms might have been really happening, or people who saw him were hallucinating from stress and fear. "Orison" leans very heavily towards "really is some kind of demonic monster".
    • "Paper Hearts": Perhaps Agent Mulder and serial killer Roche really shared a Psychic Link which allowed Roche to get into Mulder's head. He really read his mind and saw his memories. Perhaps he just found information about Mulder on the Internet and then simply managed to manipulate him.
    • "The List": It's not clear who was responsible for the murders. Either there was an elaborate conspiracy that bit all people involved in the butt, or the executed prisoner reincarnated and came back, perhaps as a fly.
    • In "Quagmire", the monster behind the killings turns out to be just a really big crocodile. (The final scene, however, revealed that there actually is a plesiosaur-like creature living in the town's lake.)
    • "Empedocles": Was Jeb just a man who snapped and descended into murderous insanity with dissociative features, or was he possessed by some kind of diabolical presence that seeks out the vulnerable? Did Doggett and Reyes have momentary hallucinations of bodies being charred that could be blamed on external factors, or does the presence leave calling cards of its works that are visible to the aware? The truth is openly left ambiguous, and Mulder lampshades this in the closing narration.
    • Also subverted in "War of the Coprophages". There really are robotic alien cockroaches scuttling around, but they're not responsible for any of the deaths in the episode, all of which are either coincidental or the result of mass hysteria.


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