So you're racing against the Big Bad trying to be the first to reach the Artifact of Doom. You overcome the poison dart Death Trap, defeat the Threshold Guardians, work your way through a complicated dungeon to find the missing key, and unlock the door to the room to find... that he's already there. He got through the Death Course just before you did.
...so who went through the area after he was done, putting the poison dart back into the wall, resurrecting the guardians, locking the final door behind him and putting its key back at the bottom of the dungeon?
A special kind of Fridge Logic that asks how the scenario returned to its initial conditions if the situation should logically have called for Already Done for You. A Reset Button that hit the terrain just before you got there. Can involve Respawning Enemies and/or an off-screen Puzzle Reset.
This is, of course, understandable from a design perspective, since who would want to play a game where everything already been figured out for you? As a result, many situations of this type can be explained away with a Hand Wave, and the temptation to do so on this page will likely be great. Common justifications include giving the Big Bad a special pass that prevents the traps from triggering, or saying that the Big Bad himself set the traps to discourage pursuit. Recognize, however, that most of these justifications have already been presented several times and erased because this isn't the place for them. Take all discussions to the discussion page.
The complementary half of this trope is Took a Shortcut. Whereas that trope asks how a person got somewhere faster than you, this trope is more concerned with why his passage didn't disturb the environment.
May be related to Chaos Architecture. Compare Durable Deathtrap. Contrast Already Done for You, obviously. Related to Edison's Lament, particularly in cases where there's no fathomable reason anybody would put the switch in the wrong position in the first place. Also related to Offscreen Teleportation and Mobile Menace. When it's not only the "how" but also the "what" that doesn't make sense, this is a Solve the Soup Cans puzzle.
- In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry, Ron, and Hermione go through the trials set up to protect the titular stone, even though Quirrell already got past them some time ago. The trials are all magic, and there are a few signs that Quirrell already went through (the flying key was battered from being shoved into the keyhole, the cave troll was knocked out, etc). The potion that Harry had to drink to pass through a wall of fire might be a straight example. Apparently, one had to down the entire bottle for it to work, so unless the bottle was enchanted to refill itself, it should have been empty from Quirrell drinking it before.
- In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, R.A.B. stole the horcrux locket by drinking the potion surrounding it. Years later, the potion is back for Dumbledore, though it it shown to refill itself.
- Matthew Reilly uses this trope mixed with a dash of Only the Knowledgable May Pass. In some cases the trope is nearly inverted- when the villains muscle through a Death Course and arrive at the end, they find the heroes have somehow already got through the whole dungeon without triggering any traps!
- Averted in The Bands of Mourning, where all the traps in the Temple of Doom trigger precisely once, and the bodies of the last explorers are still lying on the trap they triggered. The detective hero Wax gets a sense that something's wrong about the whole setup, especially after he sees that the resting place of the treasure has already been ransacked. He doesn't believe that someone got there before them because the Death Course is so dense with traps that it would be almost impossible to get past without triggering something, and the hypothetical thief would have had to reset all the traps they triggered, including the falling ceiling and the blades that shoot out of the walls. He's right; the room is a decoy.
- The legendary Dungeons & Dragons module "Tomb of Horrors" specifically states who resets the Death Traps and how, partially because the caretakers also perform a second function in the dungeon - punishing those who try to bypass traps through the ethereal plane, where they stay when not resetting traps.
- Pathfinder's Bestiary 4 sourcebook features the gearghost, a tiny undead ghost that lives its unlife by resetting deadly traps and watching as hapless adventurers fall victim to them. It's said that the gearghost itself is the vengeful spirit of a thief that was killed by the very trap that it maintains.
- Baldur's Gate: Clair De'Lain right before the final level of Durlag's Tower. You just spent hours in that massive dungeon spilling blood, toil, tears and sweat, that is, disabling traps, unlocking secret passages, unblocking doors, clearing hordes of undead and animated armors, solving puzzles, answering to riddles until the last one that unseals a magical passage... and then you find her. At least she tells you that her party had a very bad time trying to finish the dungeon.
- Baldur's Gate II:
- Possibly blatantly played during the journey at Windspear Hills but with a caveat. After a dungeon filled with monsters and traps, there is one door leading to a secondary section of the map, where you find a party of adventurers-archaeologists looking for some items from the tomb of an ancient king. However, since they ultimately turn hostile after revealing that they are robbers that only used you to get past a magical warden they can't fight, there is the possibility that they could be also mercenaries employed by the boss of the dungeon, or at least they have some allegiance with the orcs and hobgoblins defending the area.
- Extremely blatant example when you go into Bodhi's lair late in the game- you can recruit aid from multiple groups who will send teams of allies that all arrive in the lair before you and aid you once you're there, but all the traps outside are still active.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- Justified in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: the Temple of the Ocean King is controlled by an Eldritch Abomination and his Phantom guards, and a skeleton outside of the Temple even tells you that the traps activate again after you leave. There's also a chest that Linebeck plundered on the first floor of the Temple, but he was kind enough to close the lid so it seemed like there was still loot.
- Apparently in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Zelda has been moving through the first and second dungeon ahead of Link, despite all the enemies, traps, and locked doors. She has Impa helping her for part of this, but that still doesn't explain how the traps were reset, why the doors are still locked, and how they got past the boss. Humorously, Impa berates Link for being too slow to catch up to them. It's hinted, however, that the Goddesses (Din, Farore, and Nayru) are resetting the traps, so as to test if Link is worthy of wielding the Triforce.
- In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, you see Osfala enter the Eastern Palace immediately before you enter it, yet you'll find all the traps and puzzles seemingly untouched as you follow him all the way to the final room. He apparently went through with just the Sand Rod, which sorta explains why none of the traps have been altered (none involve using the Sand Rod) but leaves the bigger question of how he was able to traverse the dungeon at all.
- Played with in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. When Link enters one of the first chambers of the Fire Temple, he sees Darunia standing in front of the boss's door. Darunia clearly hasn't gone through the rest of the temple, as he was unable to find the Megaton Hammer and is worried about his odds of survival without it, which explains why all of those traps are undisturbed. What isn't explained, though, is how he's able to go through the boss door, which is sealed with a special lock that only a certain key (which is still in its chest, for Link to find) can open. Nor is it explained how the door re-locks itself after Darunia passes by. The player can hear the clinks as he goes in, but the camera is angled so that we don't see it happening.
- As you progress through Portal, you leave behind boxes resting on top of buttons, destroyed glass barriers, a lot of dead or disabled turrets, and various other markers of your presence. Some of these obviously can be reset by GLaDOS; others, less so. So who went through the testing chambers (and even the behind-the-scenes areas of the game) cleaning up after the person who went through before you? Extra points for asking how directional arrows and stuff, drawn on walls that are pretty impossible to reach, got there. And then Portal 2 explains it all by stating that yes, literally everything can be reset.
- In Half-Life 2, you follow the refugees' route out of the city. This route is filled with headcrabs, zombies, elaborate physics puzzles, and various and sundry obstacles to overcome. How did anybody not named Gordon Freeman get through there alive? And why weren't the physics problems already solved by the time you got there? At least it's heavily implied that the zombies and headcrabs are new, as a result of the Combine strike against the railway as you make your way down. More than once you see headcrab shells land, as well. This is mentioned in the webcomic Concerned. 
- In Hexen II, the player comes across many messages left behind by a previous adventurer named Tyranith, who, like the Player Character, is trying to kill Eidolon and his generals. But then, when you start killing those generals yourself, the notes keep coming, implying that Tyranith had already killed them. Turns out, he did indeed kill all four generals singlehandedly and was on his way to deal with Eidolon, but then you find his last note. It explains that Eidolon's power source, the Chaos Sphere, has revived the generals (which is why you had to kill them all again), and that he expects another battle or two will result in his death. A few rooms later, you find his corpse.
- The Myst series of games do a good job of providing a setting in which you are following in the footsteps of people who had been there before you. But most of the levers and buttons have been left in positions that leave the machinery in the least useful configuration. This is justified in the sequels, where in most cases there's been a villain running through the Ages before you and deliberately setting up obstacles; this is played up for Paranoia Fuel in Riven, where there are sometimes hints that someone was in the room just before you got there. Meanwhile, in the fifth game, the puzzles were explicitly set up as a kind of test of worth, but in the original, did Sirrus and Achenar go around resetting everything on the various worlds just for the fun of it before getting trapped in the prison books? In Uru, why are all the Ages that had already been explored and plundered by the DRC fully unlocked and unpowered?
- Myst's Spiritual Successor, Obduction, similarly takes care to explain firstly that there are reasons for all the obstacles in your path, and secondly that they were purposely put in the most inconvenient possible configuration in order to slow down anyone trying to get through. C.W. sums it up in somewhat incomprehensible terms when you first meet him:
C.W.: First off, you should know that this whole place has been battened down for that whole karfin' Mofang battle... We gotta get everything un-battened.
- Happens more than once in the original Tomb Raider. Somehow Natla's pesky human hirelings keep getting to the end chambers ahead of Lara, leaving the traps unsprung and the creatures alive.
- Golden Sun: The Lost Age is egregious because Alex discusses how poorly Saturos and Menardi (villains in the previous game, Golden Sun) were at solving the puzzles, and they were so terrible, that they accidently caused the incident that happened at the very beginning from the first game.
- Averted in The Lost Age; there are two paths through the Kibombo Mountains. One requires Earth, Fire, and Wind Adepts to pass, and the other is suitable for a lone Water Adept. Your party is Felix (Earth), Jenna (Fire), and Sheba (Wind)... and a fellow named Piers was traveling on his own ahead of you.
- The same aversion shows up in the third game with the Konpa Ruins. A path is clearly shown for Noelle, a competent water adept, and Kraden to quickly travel to the center of the ruins (much faster than your path, anyway) where you meet with them. You'll never get to use it yourself, though, because you don't have a water adept and you can't go back to that area without the use of a glitch.
- The God of War series:
- When Kratos traverses the dungeons to get to Pandora's Box/The Sisters of Fate, he finds that hundreds of adventurers have died trying to get the treasure as well. (Their bodies are lying all over the place, and you even fight a few others en route in the second game.) This is all very well and good, except that not only do many of the doors require all manner of oddly shaped keys to open (from a ram's horn to specific human skulls) but also in order to progress it is often necessary for Kratos to smash through walls and on occasion destroy entire buildings. Apparently the temples rebuild themselves every time someone eats it on the way there.note
- Sometimes, the puzzles aren't reset to their very beginning, leaving Kratos to finish a puzzle that a now dead guy started. In God of War II, Kratos finds the Hail of Boreas in the hands of a Spartan who got killed when trying to navigate a spiked floor puzzle. So some Spartan found the Hail of Boreas, possibly killing whatever was likely guarding it, and took it with him all the way down to a lower level of the island.
- Played with in Resident Evil 4. As Leon explores around the village, he will encounter locked doors with missing keys scattered about in highly inconvenient locations, typically not too far from the other side of the door, forcing him to take the long way around. When playing Separate Ways, Ada Wong found the keys in more obvious places, unlocked the doors, re-locked them behind her, and dropped the key somewhere out of the way. This sabotage was absolutely intentional, as Wesker ordered Ada to kill Leon on sight.
- In La-Mulana, Lemeza's father, Shorn, is implied to have gone through the ruins first, but there are no traps sprung, items taken or bosses defeated. This was lampshaded on the official blog, then summarily forgotten.
- Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is also full of this: whenever you open a secret entrance via instructions apparently only found in Francis Drake's journal, many of which require moving heavy objects or activating switches, chances are there are a bunch of heavily armed mercenaries down there waiting for you for no explained reason.
- Sonic Heroes has two levels toward the end where the characters have to destroy battleships or parts of a giant battleship to progress. All four teams take the same route and none of them do it alongside another team.
- Played with in Dragon Quest VIII, where the Pirate Cove adventure features Red always just ahead of you— but you frequently catch up with her because she's unable to solve a puzzle, which you then solve, only to have her jump ahead of you again. She also steals most of the treasure from the dungeon before you can get to it. She then gets knocked out by the dungeon boss right in front of you, leaving it to you to save her ass from getting killed.
- Similar to the above, in Breath of Fire II Patty is stopped at several points, and at one point she outright gives up and leaves while you're there, somehow getting ahead of you. There's a frustrating (in part due to a mistranslation), if somewhat amusing quest near the end of the game where you have to catch up to her by following a trail of clues, which ultimately lead you back to the Township you created, which may be ridiculous, considering that it may be how you've been traveling. That's right, she somehow snuck aboard your giant floating town and got upstairs without anybody noticing.
- In Final Fantasy II, when the powerful White Mage Of Various Names That Start With 'Min' disappears while searching for the ultimate magic Ultima, you have to track him down. You do this by basically do everything he presumably already had to do - collect the White Mask and the Black Mask, get past the doppleganger, travel throughout powerful dungeons, and use the Crystal Key to open the Mysidian Tower. Yet when you reach the final door before Ultima, you find that he made it there too. How, exactly, the White Mage managed to reach this point without doing any of the prerequisites is a bit of a mystery.
- It's noted that there's more than one Crystal Rod - everyone stuck in Leviathan had to have one in the first place. Presumably there's more than one way to get a Rod, but the heroes are stuck with the mask puzzles.
- In Final Fantasy VI, there is an optional dungeon called Phoenix Cave, in which the player must split his party into two teams, and coordinate them so that each team pushes buttons on the floor that will clear the path for each other. At the end of the dungeon, the player finds the playable character Locke Cole, who had already crossed the entire dungeon. It is never explained how he solved all by himself puzzles that require at least two character in separate locations, or how the puzzles returned to its initial state after it has passed through them.
- It does, however, explain why all the treasure chests are empty when you find them, and he gives you all the items he found in them after he rejoins you.
- In Jak 3: Wastelander, just how the bloody hell did Veger get through the Precursor Temple and the destroyed palace crawling with Dark Makers before Jak? His coat, that's how!
- The NES game Tombs & Treasure actually lampshades this in the beginning of the game, where the guide José tells the player that the monsters inside the ruins have rearranged everything to how it was before Professor Imes and his team stepped in and investigated.
- A particularly bizarre example occurs in Mega Man X. Upon reaching Sigma's fortress, Zero explicitly tells you that he'll go ahead and deal with the enemies so X can slip inside unnoticed, then dashes off. One screen later, you're met with several enemies and no explanation...
- In Final Fantasy Adventure, at one point you get into a mining cart and, after a distance ride, go flying off the rails. You find yourself next to a dwarf named Watts, who you've been looking for. But if there's only one mining cart, who returned it to the beginning of the track for you to take?
- Albion: Drinno, the dungeon under the druid school on Gratogel. Okay, so it's somehow full of deathtraps from a war between the druids and the Kenget Kamulos (a civil war so internal they fought it within one building, we guess), but how can there be a million puzzles and traps blocking your way when you're looking for someone who went through the whole thing not long ago?
- In Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, Dekar manages to follow the prince through a dungeon full of puzzles. Naturally, when you follow Dekar, not one puzzle is solved for you. Then, just to make things more bewildering, Dekar actually forgets how to do the easiest puzzle in the dungeon and asks Maxim for assistance. Apparently due to Puzzle Reset.
- In Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne, after Illidan proceeds through the Tomb of Sargeras to get the Eye of Sargeras, there are still a lot of monsters left for your pursuing group to fight.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, you meet seemingly untouched ancient traps on your way to Plot Coupons in locations where you, story-wise, found the exact same things three years ago.
- Radiant Historia's dungeon under the Granorg royal palace is the pathway to a ritual chamber all the royals go to once a generation to Save the World. When you go in there to stop the Big Bad from killing the MacGuffin Super Person, who both went in there not five minutes before you did, it's filled with block puzzles and Pre Existing Encounters. Putting aside why such a vital place of power even has these things, why are they still active? While the Big Bad has an excuse for being able to pass them unmolested — he's literally superhuman — the lone MacGuffin Super Person has no such excuse.
- In Final Fantasy X you have to travel to specific temples and go through courses known as "The Cloister of Trials" in order to recruit additional beings to use for Summon Magic. In the first two Cloisters The Hero enters after the rest of the party already has, but finds the traps and puzzles reset for him. In other cases a different summoner has already gone through the trials or has just finished going through, but regardless everything is set up all over again for you.
- Played with at Macalania Temple. Yuna and Seymour have already gone ahead, and to get to the waiting area outside the Chamber of the Fayth, you simply need to walk down an ice hallway. On your way out, the hallway vanishes, and you have to solve the Cloister of Trials in order to leave.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, a resident of Northside says one of the more unpleasant duties they have is to regularly go into the H&H Tools Factory and clear out the corpses of unwary scavengers that have fallen victims to its traps and defenses. If you go there yourself, the place is full of robots, laser turrets, mines and traps, all functioning. Either the Northsiders are so good they can avoid all dangers (and yet haven't cleaned out the factory themselves) or they routinely reset the traps, fix the robots and lay new mines. Which leads to some rather nasty implications...
- Very annoying in Epic Mickey where restoring your surroundings and making everything bright and colorful with ink or destroying them with thinner to make them drab and depressing determines the type of ending you get at the end of the game. All the effort spent thinning or inking specific locations disappear if you move into another area and come back again. This was the result of casual gamers in testing not understanding and grasping the idea of choice and consequence games and is set to be averted in the sequel.
- This is the central theme of Janitor, an interactive fiction game entered in IF Comp 2002.
- In Tales of Phantasia, Cress and his company must solve several puzzles in mausoleum in order to reach Dhaos' seal. True to this trope, the party arrives at the end just in time to witness Mars and his minions unsealing Dhaos. Mars does, however, possess pendants neccessary to open the seal, so it's very likely he could use them as a pass.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim justifies it - after you get swatted by that swinging log, or pivoting spiked door, you can then watch it ratchet back in place. Doesn't explain the fire traps with oil on the ground, or the infinite ammo in the dart shooting traps, though.
- The Thieves Guild questline has the player dungeon crawl a tomb with Mercer to chase down Karliah. Karliah, being a master thief, has not only avoided most of the traps (as well as the draugr), but improvised a few of her own.
- Another aversion occurs in the "Horn of Jurgen Windcaller" quest. When you reach the final room, you'll find the horn missing and a few crypts opened, with the dragur inside them already killed. The implied reason for the rest of the dungeon being untouched is that Delphine used the back entrance to enter the room and closed it up on the way out.
- Averted in the Diablo II expansion Lord of Destruction, where the titular character is trying to corrupt the World Stone. Said stone is guarded by three incredibly powerful Barbarian warriors. How does Baal get past them? By bribing a Barbarian elder to give him an artifact that lets him stroll right by the guardians. The player character isn't so lucky.
- Even though it has no traps, the Catacomb Fantasy Trilogy is full of this because getting around the levels relies so largely on blowing up old walls. So how did anyone get anywhere before?
- The Arbiter in Halo 2 has to fight and destroy an Enforcer and activate a gondola to breach the shield surrounding the Library, which happens to be right in the middle of a quarantine zone containing the Flood. Once the Arbiter has deactivated the shield, he is immediately attacked by Flood-infected humans, implying that human forces were ahead of him and had breached the shield wall despite it remaining active once the Arbiter arrives.
- In Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Julius, who entered the cult's hideout before Soma and didn't take a Magic Seal from Yoko, has just been beating monsters into a fine paste and leaving before they could respawn, possibly unaware that they DO respawn if not sealed. Soma, who has been battling and sealing monsters the whole way, is understandably a bit miffed.
- Because of the way the story unfolds in Sonic Adventure, you'll have moments like this when you stop to think about the order of events (such as why Sonic needs to destroy the Kiki that unlocks Red Mountain if Knuckles had already been through the area and done the same thing prior to their encounter at the Mystic Ruins lake or, conversely, why the door to the Ice Cap area is still locked when playing as Knuckles as Sonic and Tails should have already unlocked it by passing through the area at roughly the same time).
- Divinity: Original Sin II: The final quest has the PCs race to beat the Big Bad to Lucian's Tomb, which has multiple layers of defenses and requires a Sidequest just to unlock. The Big Bad is waiting for them at the end of all that, which is Justified by The Reveal that she's in cahoots with Lucian, who faked his death and has orchestrated the events of the game.
- Played with in an episode of Max Steel which requires going through an Egyptian pyramid laden with booby traps. Max's method is to storm past all of them, and when they get to the main chamber they find the missing archeologist. The following conversation occurs:
Max: How did you avoid all the booby traps?
Dr. Meyorkis: I assume the same way you did, by reading the hieroglyphs.
Max: Yeah...well, uh...
- Possibly subverted in an episode of Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) where Peter Quill goes out of his way to reactivate traps that where previously defunct, just to showcase his awesome trap-making skills. Of course it doesn't go his way.