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Ass Pull

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"And I say, bounce a graviton particle beam off the main deflector dish–
That's the way we do things lad, we're making shit up as we wish;
The Klingons and the Romulans?
They pose no threat to us,
'Cause if we find we're in a bind,
We're totally screwed, but nevermind,
We'll pull something out of our behinds!
We just make some shit up!"

An Ass Pull is a moment when the writers pull something out of thin air in a less-than-graceful narrative development, violating the Law of Conservation of Detail by dropping a plot-critical detail in the middle, or near the end of their narrative without Foreshadowing or dropping a Chekhov's Gun earlier on.

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In cases where a character suddenly gets a new skill without explanation, it's usually explained away as a Chekhov's Classroom or Chekhov's Skill, except the audience never saw the character attending the lecture in question, or any prior examples of him or her using, or even training that skill.

An Ass Pull used to resolve an unwinnable situation for the protagonists is a Deus ex Machina. An Ass Pull used in the same way for the villains is a Diabolus ex Machina. An Ass Pull doesn't necessarily have to resolve or derail a situation, though — many times, an Ass Pull is just used without any greater plot implication and Played for Laughs. Alternatively, they could come up so as to prevent your characters using a Mundane Solution and shortening your 20 minute episode into 20 seconds. Please limit examples on this page to ones that don't fit in either of the other two.

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The term is also used to describe something that the characters make up on the spot. See Shocking Swerve and Writing by the Seat of Your Pants. Sometimes called Sulu's Foil, since it's the opposite of Chekhov's Gun. In Russia, it's called "grand piano in the bushes". Pulling a useful object out of seemingly nowhere is related to Hammerspace.

As this trope frequently concerns plot twists, there are unmarked spoilers below.

This trope is not about donkeys that pull carts. Also, as much as it sounds like it, it is not the opposite of Ass Shove (when a character literally pulls an object out of someone's rear, or the opposite). It's also not related to Wing Pull, though there is a surprising amount of overlap.


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    Comic Books 
  • Avengers Disassembled and House of M. The Scarlet Witch spontaneously becomes omnipotent with no explanation. On a scale where she can annihilate the entire omniverse without really trying. Marvel attempted an Author's Saving Throw explanation in The Children's Crusade, where it was established that Scarlet Witch had been possessed by an elemental entity called the Life Force. Her subsequent killing spree was then stated to have been due to Doctor Doom's manipulations.
  • During Warren Ellis' brief Thor run from the 90's, the title character was depowered as part of a Brought Down to Badass plot. When Peter David wanted to have Thor fight the Hulk in his Incredible Hulk run, he realized Thor would need to be at full strength. To that end, he wrote a scene where Thor banged Mjolnir on the ground while reminiscing about the good old days, which somehow magically restored his powers. The closest thing to an explanation given was "Even a god may believe in miracles," which still isn't much of an answer.
  • Judd Winick's first issue of The Outsiders introduces us to Black Lightning's daughter Anissa, who ends up becoming the heroine Thunder. His 20-something year old daughter whom had never been seen or mentioned in any prior series featuring Black Lightning, despite his wife being a fairly prominent figure in many stories. Geoff Johns then took this even further in his JSA run by introducing us to another previously-unseen daughter, Jennifer. Jennifer had been foreshadowed in the Bad Future story Kingdom Come; this still qualifies as an ass pull by virtue of Black Lightning having no references to children just a short time before this, and his age in The Outsiders comics previously being about Batman's age at the oldest. He'd have already had to father these women by the time of his introduction.
  • The Beano: In one of the modern issues, Dennis the Menace's strip has some great examples of arsepulls. First Walter and his friends get struck by lightning and possessed by Viking ghosts, then it turns out there's an unexploded missile at the bottom of the lake, along with a WWII submarine. Then the editor rightfully asks why it's there in the first place, breaking the 4th wall. The writer's excuse? There's a "secret tunnel" connecting it to the sea, and the Germans were stupid enough to go into it during the Second World War.
    • This is probably inspired by the TV The Avengers (1960s) episode "Castle De'Ath", which also inspired the Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD story "Dark Moon Rise, Hell Hound Kill" — and was in its own turn inspired by a Tommy Hambledon short story by "Manning Coles" — which was later rewritten to change the U-boat full of escaped Nazis to a Russian sub full of spies...
  • The Clone Saga from Spider-Man, where back in 1975, an exact clone of Spider-Man appears, and at the end of that one issue, seemingly dies. Except he didn't die, showed up again in an issue some 20 years later, and mentioned out of absolutely nowhere that he was the original the whole time and that the Peter Parker the comics had been following for the past two decades was really the clone. Fans were so angry at this revelation that they essentially just said that the clone was lying and was created by the Green Goblin, who died in 1972, but to pull this off, was also actually alive the whole time.
  • Dilbert describes this trope as the source of his company's documented process:
    ...and our documented process was pulled out of someone's lower torso.
    • A more radaresque version from Dogbert:
      Next week, a doctor with a flashlight shows us where sales predictions come from.
    • And again.
  • ElfQuest has a famous one in its main canon: when Blue Mountain collapses, all of the Gliders die, and for... some never explained reason, their spirits can't find the afterlife yet. Rayek, whose powers were previously canonically limited to hypnosis and lifting things, absorbs the spirits into his own body and decides to go on a quest to accompany them to the Palace (where elf spirits generally go when they die). Clearbrook and Treestump decide to accompany him on his quest... although even they don't seem to be quite sure why.
  • Jonathan Hickman's Avengers: During the Time Runs Out arc, the Cabal are stranded on another Earth as it's about to be blown up, with no possible means of survival... and then a completely unprecedented double incursion happens, allowing them to escape to the other Earth with no-one in the regular universe the wiser. Exactly why there's two incursions happening simultaneously is not explained, and the Cabal are never shown pondering why it might have happened.
  • The Justice League of America once went up against Despero (an alien with vast mental powers, at the time recently powered-up to be almost as strong and invulnerable as Superman) with a mostly C-List team. How to beat him? With an innate Martian power that the Martian Manhunter had never before mentioned that he had, because using it was so stressful that any given Martian can only do it once in their life. Despite that, it was still a fairly well-received story. Another weird power of his was the ability to see through the flow of time. This somehow resulted in him being immune to the powers of an opponent who completely rewrote reality. Pulling never before seen powers out of his ass is the Martian Manhunter's shtick. And then getting lit on fire the next time said power would have been useful.
  • Appears a lot throughout the Silent Hill comics written by Scott Ciencin. Way too many to list as the situations that called for the sphincter-tugging is due to Voodoo Sharks put in by the author everywhere in the comics, but one fact bears mentioning: Lauren getting the magic book she needed to fight the whole story's Big Bad, which is coincidentally made out of something he is specifically weak to, by buying it from E-bay. (This one's actually one of the (slightly) more excusable ones, though. She tells her friends (the friends she's planning on turning into Cannon Fodder) that she got it on eBay, but it's probably a lie, covering for a more disturbing answer.)
  • Silver Age Superman stories were notorious for coming up with convenient new powers for the main character all the time. For example super-ventriloquism. It was inverted when they simply dropped one power used regularly in the Golden Age, the ability to change his face and hair to look exactly like someone else. Would this be an Ass-Shove?
  • In an old issue of Superman Family, Lois decides to help out two Russian ballet dancers who want to defect while they're in Metropolis to perform Swan Lake. In order to save the male lead, she ties up and gags the actress playing Odette and steals her costume. Despite being a reporter, Lois is able to keep up the charade and hold her own alongside highly-trained professionals, which she chalks up to having had "years of ballet lessons" when she was a kid.
  • Per Word of God, Peter David wrote himself into a corner in an issue of Incredible Hulk where Rick Jones is trapped on a crashing Skrull ship with no way to escape, so after the ship crashes he shows up parachuting down to safety. He explains that he always carries a hidden parachute just in case he is ever trapped on a crashing Skrull ship and needs to escape. Bruce doesn't buy it. "Why not? I needed to, didn't I?" This one scene changed the entire character of Rick Jones from a hanger-on to Batman-level Crazy-Prepared with Medium Awareness.
  • The Ultimates: Tony's brain tumor was actually an Infinity Gem. How that makes sense is anyone's guess.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Much like Superman, and partially because she was intentionally designed to be a woman "as powerful" as him, Diana gained powers that had never been hinted at before and were promptly forgotten about starting at the tail end of the Golden Age, the most notable being her ability to glide on the winds which stuck around and eventually became true flight making her invisible plane make far less sense than it did when she had no powers resembling flight.
    • In the Post-Crisis continuity the previously malleable powers of Diana's Lasso of Truth became much clearer and more set, which caused fan backlash when the thing didn't work properly at all in her confrontation with Max Lord—being wrapped in the lasso did not free Superman from illusions, despite the thing being able to free people from Darkseid's mental control and the Anti-Life Equation, and the lasso was unable to make Max think twice about his diabolical plot even though it had previously permanently altered Ares' outlook on life and humanity through showing him his plot would be his downfall just as it showed Max—forcing her to kill him with no explanation as to why the lasso's powers had been significantly altered for the tale beyond the writers needing it to malfunction to facilitate her killing Max Lord.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Blue Heaven's Feel, the Fate-verse apparently has real, powerful deities — one of whom conveniently empowers the protagonist at a critical moment. Admittedly, this scene was foreshadowed, but there's still no explanation as to why or how gods exist in that universe — or why nobody knows about them, given how obviously willing they are to interfere in human lives.
  • Captain Dragon: Throughout the story, Yang has been aided by a Mysterious Benefactor, always giving her just what she needed when she was really stuck. In the penultimate chapter, we find out it's Professor Oobleck, who never appeared in the story at all. The kicker is that he was working on behalf of the Vale Secret Service, an organization from a completely different fic by the same author without any indication that there was a crossover element between the stories at all.
  • The Gainax Ending of Dante's Night at Freddy's 2: Animatronic Boogaloo is rife with this: The revelation that Dante and his daughter Evie were sent back in time by a third party is never foreshadowed, the battle damage that the old animatronics suffered that appears to be a carry over from the previous story turns out to be the result of a Contrived Coincidence regarding Dante's twin brother and they return to modern day because Bill & Ted of all people just happen to bump into them. The author openly admitted he wanted to take the story in a more absurd, farcical direction, so it was intentional, but whether it was any funnier for it is up to the reader.
  • The climactic misunderstanding of The Dark Heart centers around a fertility goddess not knowing what virginity is.
  • In the story within a story in "Equestria: A History Revealed", the ending to the fic's version of the Hearts and Hooves Day legend certainly qualifies as this, when near the end, a giant ponyeating dragon suddenly descends upon high and burns every pony alive in the kingdom. But it's played for laughs though.
  • In Chapter 8 of Forbiden Fruit: The Tempation of Edward Cullen, Tiaa gets out her previously unmentioned samurai sword (she often has it with her!!!) but never gets a chance to use it. Unfortunately, it can be said without exaggeration this is the very least of the fic's problems.
  • Forged Destiny:
    • The revelation of most of the Hunters' Levels, as they receive so little focus, their growth rate not being shown due to the First Person Narrative, and they aren't thrown in as many specificly dangerous situations as Jaune has throughout the story, that their Levels once revealed come off as mostly made up on the spot.
    • Raven's monstrous Level also comes off as this, since it ignores most of the whole mechanics of the Leveling system that's fleshed out throughout the story (specifically in regards to growth curves and "diminishing returns"), that it's just a number that was used to make her too invincible for anyone to normally beat.
    • The existence of 'Leveling addiction' in the later Books is also this. It's a rather egregious instance given that not only does the RPG mechanics of growth curves make Leveling far easier and frequent in the beginning, and was seen as such in the early Books, but was never hinted of being a thing till it's needed in Book 7 for personal melodrama. Its full implications also causes problems for the story.
  • Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami has too many examples to include a complete list, but perhaps the best one is when L tests the Death Note on Light's mom, then takes out a Life Note to revive her. The story gets weirder from there.
  • Many examples in My Immortal. At one point the characters need to find Draco (whom Voldemort has bondage, whatever that means). To solve this, Vampire "has an idea" and teleports them into Voldemort's lair. Enoby whines endlessly about stuff much easier to solve than this, like choosing between Draco and Vampire.
  • Here's a short list of examples from My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic:
    • Lightning suddenly being able to summon the Uniforce because he remembers to believe, right when Titan is going to kill him.
    • Brain turns out to have a spaceship in his backyard, which the others use to escape the exploding Unicornicopia.
    • Celesto and Celestia fusing and turning into the Great Celestial Ruler, who destroys Titan.
    • The MLP and Starfleet ponies being able to reconstruct a planet through the power of belief
    • Lightning is the last of a race of creatures known as Enticorns, which, as the author confirms, is partially based off of Super Saiyans.
  • In The Prayer Warriors, there are a few.
    • In The Evil Gods Part I, Jerry somehow realizes in the middle of his first fight with Percy Jackson that Percy placed a traitor inside his group. A later chapter reveals that God told him there was a traitor the night before Percy attacked, but didn't say who it was.
    • The retconning of Michael's death at the end of Battle with the Witches. The POV character, who is assumed to be Michael, kills Dumbledore at the cost of his own life, but the next chapter reveals that it wasn't Michael.
    • In The Titans Strike Back, when the Prayer Warriors' weapons and prayers fail to defeat Lola, Draco prays for God (never mind that Lola had the ability to make that impossible with her wind powers) to turn his sword into a holy vacuum cleaner, which sucks her up and kills her.
  • RealityCheck's Nyxverse:
    • Nyx's Family, the infamous Chapter 11, whereas it is revealed that, during the founding of Equestria, Luna and Celestia used a magic mirror to request the advice of several HUMAN economists (all right-wing or libertarian economists mind you; a footnote mentions that she found the left-wing economists completely useless) in order to create an economic system for Equestria. Up to this point in the narrative there was absolutely no indication that the Alicorns nor any other Equestrians were even aware of the existence of humans, let alone in contact with them, and definitely no reason given why they should value human knowledge or seek out human advice.
    • In another example from Nyx's Family, Bright Eyes saves Nyx from a bunch of Diamond Dogs by turning invisible to scare them. It was never mentioned before that crystal ponies had this ability. One mild mitigating factor is that its main function was to turn the scene into a Shout-Out to The Hobbit.
  • Soulless Shell: This fic appears to be merely a poorly-written Redwall Transplanted Character Fic until Chapter Three, whereupon we abruptly and without warning come upon the line "then he shot a beam from his paw which the rat teleported away from". (For those unfamiliar, Redwall is a medieval fantasy about talking animals, and has a definite lack of magical laser beams.)
  • Teenage Jinchuriki Shinobi: Himeko's true, TRUE form, Empress Isis, who pops out of nowhere to defeat Kira. There was no explanation for this whatsoever, especially since Kira was a demon god.
  • Spartianfox's self-insert character in his Videogame Rescues series has this as a stated power. His great uncle (who introduced him to the series' Multiverse and gave him his supertech portal armband) told him that his powers include "any weapon, item, and powerup from a video game." Effectively, his power is "pull whatever I need right now out of nowhere." The series is still fairly well-written and the author has gone on to write and publish original works.
  • Can be found in many Deadliest Warrior fanfictions, such as when numbers of kills are provided at the end of a fight. Unless there's a home version of the Slitherine Studios battle simulator available, there's no way the "kills" represent one thousand actual simulated battles (especially if the author admits they chose the winner based on a vote, or just their own personal opinion). Also occurs when a chosen character lacks a weapon that fits into one of the short range/mid range/long range/special weapons categories. The solution? Make something up! The categories MUST be adhered to, even though the actual show was never so strict as to only deal with that set of criteria.
  • The Locking Ladle of Ranma ½ always seems to conveniently show in fanfiction where its application would prove useful in the storyline, for better or worse, no matter where its current location in canon is. Besides that, there are a million other ways of locking a Jusenkyo curse in fanon by now. Locking rings, water treated by the Locking Ladle which is no longer in it, special potions...
  • The Axis Powers Hetalia Troll Fic "Canada Goes Bonkers" includes this literal as well as figurative example:
    Germany jumped up from his chair and shouted "YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE!" he reached in2 his pants and pulled out teh machine gun he always kept lodged up in his buttocks in case he ever needed a machine gun.
  • In The Great Starship Battle, the Valeyard's presence was not hinted at anywhere in the story so his appearance at the end comes right out of nowhere.
  • In The Story to End All Stories, Mike Nelson from Mystery Science Theater 3000 thinks the revelation that Chuck Cunningham from Happy Days was the villain is an example of this trope.
  • In Relic Of The Future, Pyrrha's father Alexander Nikos is established early (and regularly) to be a massive Jerkass who's only ever cared about the family name, to the point of trying to sue Jaune over his daughter beating Pyrrha in a tournament, and is implied to have connections to organized crime. It's also established that both his children despise the man and want nothing to do with him. Then in chapter 92, Pyrrha's older sister Helena starts insisting Alexander was a caring and loving father until Pyrrha's fame went to his head and that before Pyrrha became famous, the Nikos name meant nothing despite lifelong efforts by Alexander.

    Films — Animation 
  • Played for laughs with The Emperor's New Groove where Yzma and Kronk fall off a cliff during the race back to the palace and still manage to beat Kuzco and Pacha. Even Yzma and Kronk wonder how they pulled it off for a moment before going back to business.
  • The climax of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls reveals that Twilight doesn't even need the other five elements to be present to tap into their power. Seems like the power of the bond Twilight shared with the human versions of her friends (and she's known these humans... what, like two days???) was sufficient to not only allow Twilight to reclaim the powers of the Element of Magic but also summon the powers of the other five elements... which has no basis in the show's actual canon. Sort of but not really justified by the complete lack of any explanation on how the Elements actually work in the show anyway, and handwaved by a line about how the Elements might work differently in different universes.
  • BIONICLE: Mask of Light: The Hero fuses with the Big Bad, the fusion is crushed by a gate, and according to the original script and storyboards, the former just walks out of the dust intact. For the sake of added drama, the movie has him simply disappear save for his mask. Thus, the others have to perform a ritual, recite the Three Virtues they live by, place the mask on the Three Virtues symbol conveniently carved into the floor of the villain's balcony, which somehow re-materializes his body. No explanation is offered as to how this worked, how anyone knew it would work, and why they never use this "ritual" any other time.

    Literature 
  • In Animorphs #19: The Departure, Cassie makes a deal with a Controller: it will leave its host and go back to life as a helpless Yeerk slug if Cassie traps herself in morph as a helpless caterpillar. Cassie does so, and it seems she's now stuck as an insect for life. But wait! It turns out the caterpillar's metamorphosis into a butterfly reset the morphing clock, allowing Cassie to become human again. Hooray for sudden non-foreshadowed loopholes.
  • The fifth A Song of Ice and Fire novel, A Dance with Dragons, has an apparent one with The Reveal of a second surviving Targaryen, Aegon, whose only prior foreshadowing was a very difficult-to-understand prophecy from the second book about a cloth dragon. Fan forums are usually alive with theories about secret Targaryens, and a few correctly predicted the development based on the aforesaid prophecy, but even to some dedicated fans this one came from that place where the sun don't shine.
    • However, considering the inspiration for the series, the prospect of legit dark-horse claimants, spurious pretenders, royal bastards, or others coming out of the woodwork to claim the throne is not an ass pull so much as Reality Is Unrealistic since this used to happen all the time in destabilized countries. Heck, it still happens, albeit with a decided lack of royalty in most cases.
      • Lambert Simnel appeared right after the War of the Roses, was educated so well by a priest-turned-kingmaker that everybody said he would've been one of the wisest rulers ever, was paraded around by Yorkists as one of the lost "princes in the tower", and landed on the shores of England at the head of a mercenary army. So, this ass pull is firmly Truth in Television.
    • There's also still a debate even in-universe about whether "Aegon" actually is who people claim or whether he's actually an imposter descended from the Blackfyre cadet branch, perhaps through Illyrio and his late wife given Illyrio's abiding affection for both characters, Illyrio's pointed remarks about the extinction of the "male line" of Blackfyres, and the support of the Golden Company despite generations spent fighting against the Targaryens on behalf of the Blackfyres. So the real ass pull could be an in-universe one trying to pull the wool over everyone's eyes.
    • There are many in the fandom who view the reveal that Joffrey was behind the assassination attempt on Bran as one of these. Word of God has stated that he was the planned culprit from the beginning but unfortunately most of the clues are coupled with the reveal itself in the third book, long after the mystery had ceased being relevant. It would certainly have helped if the clue where King Robert had called Bran's potential death a mercy had occurred on-stage instead of just reported two books later, and virtually all depictions of Joffrey in the text prior to the third book suggest that he identifies with his mother rather than his father (he even comes across as callously apathetic about his "father's" death when Tyrion extends condolences in the second book). In the same book, Lysa's reveal that she's allied with Littlefinger and was behind Jon Arryn's death has a much better seeded plot-line that evokes "Aha, now it all makes sense!", whereas the Joffrey hiring the assassin reveal typically has a more "Eh, I guess that works" response. The problem is the most popular alternative culprit is Littlefinger (which even becomes canon in the T.V. adapation), which would require one of the realm's best Chessmasters to have been stupid enough to arm an assassin with his own dagger.
  • Even Stephen King admits that Patrick Danville erasing the Crimson King in The Dark Tower was a bit of an ass pull. To put that in perspective, Patrick was a character who was only abruptly introduced in the final volume, was only vaguely alluded to twice in the book before he appeared, wasn't given a backstory or any explanation as to how he ended up where he was, and he joined the party almost right before the end, solely to serve as a plot device for two occasions.
  • Ronald Knox's Decalogue was a reaction to the ass pulls pervading the mystery genre. The commandments address the most prevalent of the time, i.e. presenting last-minute characters as culprits, inventing Phlebotinum weapons, adding hidden doors that wouldn't plausibly be designed and serve no function other than to obfuscate closed rooms.
  • At one point in The Divine Comedy, Dante uses a cord around his waist, never described before, to lower himself and Virgil into a section of Hell. Scholarly opinion is still divided as to whether this cord was badly established or was a result of Dante wearing a Franciscan habit.
  • Dragonrider is a big offender. One example of the author's lazy style features a character meeting a fellow magical ("fabulous") creature far away from home and well beyond the book's halfway point. Any potential language barrier is then sidestepped as she addresses this creature "in the magical language that all fabulous creatures understand".
  • Fifty Shades Freed had Jack Hyde in jail and Christian reveals that the mastermind behind Jack's actions, including the one who paid bail for him several times, is Linc. Who is Linc? Elena Lincoln's ex-husband, who was mentioned once or twice over the entire course of the series, but never played a big role. Linc supposedly did this as punishment towards Christian, who had been having an affair with Elena between the age of 15 and 22. Yet this comes across as insane and stupid, because their affair ended six years ago, Linc was never mentioned to actually have a grudge against Christian before and there was simply no reason for him to wait all these years, just to try to give some payback to Christian. A poor attempt by EL James to tie up a loose end, when other, previously established characters could have been the mastermind.
  • When the kids develop all kinds of new powers in The Final Warning, there's no proper explanation for why they've got those kinds of powers in particular, or for why they all got the new powers at roughly the same time even though they're of different ages.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The Deathly Hallows from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. While the Horcrux plot showed Harry he could stop Voldemort from reviving again and again, it didn't help his chances in fighting the man in person. Cue the Deathly Hallows. Apparently Dumbledore had a complex history involving Grindelwald, his friend-turned-dark wizard, and the Elder Wand, one of the Hallows and an unstoppable weapon whose nature turns the final duel with Voldemort in Harry's favour. The story of the Hallows is a fairy-tale familiar to all wizards (well, those not raised by muggles, anyway), but nothing about is told it until halfway through the last book. That Harry's cloak and Marvolo's ring (now a Horcrux) are Hallows as well practically impossible to foresee, though the former does get a very slight hinting in previous books, similar to Dumbledore's complex history.
    • Fiendfyre. Harry's faced with a Horcrux and no way to destroy it? Well, guess what? There's a Dark Magic spell (never so much as even implied before) that can destroy Horcruxes, and it's designed such that the dumbest student in Hogwarts can cast (albeit not control) it!
    • Ron enters the Chamber of Secrets by learning to speak Parseltongue. Only not really because he was just imitating the sound of it. And the Chamber figures "eh, close enough" and lets him in anyway. This is despite Harry, a true Parselmouth, being unable to speak it unless he's speaking to an actual snake or convinces himself that he is. An earlier plot point of the same book even relies on Harry speaking Parseltongue without realizing he is. The only possible foreshadowing of being able to learn Parseltongue would be Dumbledore understanding a Parseltongue conversation in the previous book, though that detail is easy to miss.
    • Side-Along Apparition is notorious for being one of those ideas that appears when the author needs it to solve a problem, gleefully ignoring all the other problems it could have solved beforehand had it existed.
    • Harry's entire tragic backstory was kick-started when his parents chose a wrong person as a confidant to entrust their location to, a requirement for a spell used to conceal their home from Voldemort. It made a certain logical and poetic sense that the confidant would need to remain outside the effective area of the spell, since it's a common convention that magic requires some kind of sacrifice or tangible obligation. Then, in book 7, another character casually mentions being the confidant for their own concealment spell, thus prompting the question why couldn't Harry's parents do the same thing.
    • One reason why Cursed Child is seen as a Contested Sequel by many is the fact that Voldemort had a daughter - despite his goal of immortality essentially eliminating any need for an "Heir", never once showing any kind of romantic or sexual interest in anyone, and that Bellatrix was killed on-screen, somehow having become pregnant in a Time Skip.
  • High School DXD often has characters get powerups with no explanation. For two examples, Kiba is revealed to have a second Sacred Gear in Volume 10 (a person can only be born with one Sacred Gear, and while it's possible to implant artificial Sacred Gears, this isn't used as the explanation) and Issei gets an ability to ignore all defences to allow him to hit Risevim (which is hand-waved as being a power once possessed by Draig).
  • Parodied in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
    • In the first book alone, the characters often escape danger in wildly improbable ways such as being unintentionally picked up by the Heart of Gold and avoiding death by missile due to the missiles being transformed into a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias by the Improbability Drive. Many of the other books also contain plot elements that come from out of what can only be described as left field perceived by Hunter S. Thompson, oftentimes accompanied by the book pointing out just how improbable they are. This is much more blatant by Mostly Harmless: Arthur Dent's daughter is named Random, and her behavior, which plays heavily into the conclusion is random.
    • Douglas Adams talked about his need to manage this sort of thing in the books carefully — that even within a comedic work with absurdist and parodic elements, he couldn't get away with random ass-pulls if he wanted people to be at all invested in the drama. He described it as not being able to pull the 'in a single bound he was free' card — if something incredibly unlikely or unexpected happens to resolve a situation, it must itself have enough weight and consequence within the story to justify it.
  • The Inheritance Cycle features a big 'un in the shape of magical elf twins, never previously mentioned, who cure Eragon's achey back scar, allowing him to fight properly again. They turn up once more in the fourth book and make it so Dwarfs and Urgals can become Riders as well, thus solving all racism forever.
  • Several in Lonely Werewolf Girl, due to having a Random Events Plot. Two especially egregious ones show up during the final battle: Thrix being able to Mind Meld, thus also being able to re-activate Beauty and Delicious' lycanthropic abilities, and Kalix being immune to the mind-affecting power of the Begraver Knife because she's "too crazy".
  • In Simon R. Green's Something from the Nightside, Joanna is an Artificial Human sent to trick the main character into entering an evil house. We find this out while the main character is in the house. Joanna fades into the wall and is never seen again. More or less everything in the sixth book comes out of one posterior or another.
  • The Pendragon Adventure: Solara. Even though Halla is supposed to be everything that was and everything that will ever be, no, apparently some cosmic soul energy repository... Thing also exists apart from it and yet also a part of it, and another piece of that can become dark and evil. None of this was foreshadowed anywhere, and directly contradicts the whole everything that was and will ever be shtick.
  • Twilight:
    • The Big Bad vamps Victoria, James, and Laurent were not mentioned at all until the very end of Twilight, thanks to 90% of the book being about how perfect Edward supposedly is. The movie rectifies this mistake and has them shown earlier.
    • The role of the Volturi in enforcing the rules of vampire society was similarly introduced out of the blue in New Moon.
    • In Breaking Dawn, Bella immediately jumps to the conclusion that she is pregnant after her period is late by mentioning that she never had a late period in her entire life. This comes out of nowhere as her period was never mentioned and this being a YA Novel, and about vampires who mention that Bella's blood smells especially appetizing, it usually would be something mentioned, even off-hand. As it is, it's a detail about her that comes out of nowhere with no actual evidence backing it up and dropped to put focus back on the human-vampire baby growing inside of her.
    • Also in Breaking Dawn, just when it seems the Cullens will have to face the consequences of allying with werewolves, mortal enemies of vampires, Jake and his tribe are suddenly revealed to be a group of shapeshifters whose powers are completely unrelated to those of real werewolves (or "Children of the Moon" as the book calls them). This comes despite them being regarded as werewolves by the narrative for the whole of the series.
  • About halfway through The Wise Man's Fear, the protagonist and his team have finally finished a difficult mission fraught with setbacks. On their way back to town... they stumble onto the indescribably beautiful Felurian, who then seduces the protagonist and carries him off to Fae. His time there takes a full sixty pages.
  • In the fourth series of Warrior Cats, it turns out that not only does the setting have a hell (the existence of which was never even hinted at before), but that its inhabitants can invade the dreams of living cats to corrupt them. The question of why they never did this before it was required by the plot is not answered. Nor is the question of why StarClan didn't tell their descendants about the Dark Forest beforehand.
  • A lampshaded ass pull is the premise of There Was No Secret Evil Fighting Organization. There is absolutely no origin, purpose or worldbuilding that explains Sago spontaneously developing telekinesis, and Sago's realization of this almost drives him insane.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: In the episode "Guise Will Be Guise", Wesley is kidnapped at gunpoint from the office in front of Cordelia. With no clues to the abductor's identity, she decides to try to look at LAPD mugshots to see if she can identify the man. After awhile of searching through mugshots, she gets bored and decides to randomly read a celebrity gossip-rag and happens to come across a picture of the man, who it turns out is a bodyguard to a celebrity. You can tell the writer was on a deadline, or just didn't care to come up with something better.
  • Charmed:
    • In the Post-Script Season, there are suddenly two sisters with an Ultimate Power that is supposed to be even stronger than the Charmed Ones, after seven seasons hyping up the Power of Three.
    • In season six, they eventually determine that Chris is a good guy, Piper and Leo's Kid from the Future, and that Wyatt causes the Bad Future. Try squaring that with anything he had done up until this point in the series, and it's quite clear they had another idea/were making this up as they went along.
    • The introduction of the Magic School in season six sort of negates the very premise of the show: the sisters discover their powers in their twenties because their grandmother bound them to protect the girls from the warlock Nicholas. What's the best way to protect the girls: keep them completely in the dark about their powers, legacy and the threats they'll have to face, or let them be taken care of by experienced witches and even Elders in a place where evil can't even enter and they'll be able to take their skills to the next level?
  • Dallas: Perhaps the ultimate television ass pull is the infamous reappearance of Bobby Ewing in the shower.
  • In Doctor Who:
    • So many episodes end with the villains being foiled by some brand-new, never-before-seen trick of time, space, the TARDIS, or the Doctor's sonic screwdriver that it's difficult to keep count.
    • The First Doctor didn't have a sonic screwdriver but he was able to use the ring he wore to fix the TARDIS's sabotaged lock. His explanation was that the ring had "certain properties" and he didn't want to discuss it any further.
    • It may sound incredible, but the now core concept of regeneration was itself an Ass Pull. William Hartnell was getting too ill to play The Doctor, but they didn't want to end the show — so Hartnell himself came up with the idea that Time Lords could regenerate into a new body.
    • The Doctor managing to disrupt the Daleks' power supply in "The Power of the Daleks".
    • The glass-shattering scream that Gallifreyans are capable of, which resolved a cliffhanger in "The Power of Kroll" but was never mentioned before and will probably never be used again.
    • The Doctor's previously unmentioned 'respiratory bypass system' which saves him from strangulation in "Pyramids of Mars" note .
    • Undoing Peri's death off-screen. Actress Nicola Bryant didn't even know about this until years later, to boot!
    • Then there's Captain Jack Harkness' performance in "Bad Wolf". While completely naked he reaches behind himself and produces a small laser gun. This is immediately lampshaded when he is asked where he got it from. While the act in itself is an Ass Shove, it also qualifies as Ass Pull as there was no indication that he had it prior to using it. It was a scene played for laughs though.
    • The Gallifreyan mind meld in "The Girl in the Fireplace". Has there really never been a suitable reason to use it at any time in the previous 27 seasons?
    • "Journey's End" features some of the biggest Ass Pulls in the history of the show. Suddenly the Doctor is able to send enough regeneration energy into a severed hand to conveniently grow a half-human Doctor when a human touches it. And when the human touching it is electrocuted she suddenly gets Time Lord intelligence, just in time to stop the Daleks destroying the Universe.
    • In "Journey's End", the Doctor is forced to wipe Donna's memories, saying that if she ever remembers him, her head will be incinerated. A year and a half later in "The End of Time", she does remember him — only then the Doctor says he added a "defense mechanism" which knocks out her and everyone in the vicinity. This comes very handy in incapacitating an enemy that the Doctor could not possibly have foreseen, though this can be handwaved by the fact that it could very well have been set up for any general enemy. However this is still a rather odd mechanism if she begins remembering, as it might not even have been an enemy and all it does from what we see is take down a few foes close to her.
    • The concept of Time Lords undergoing Gender Swap at regeneration had literally never been so much as hinted at in the 48 years prior to the 2011 episodes "The Doctor's Wife", when it was tossed into a script as a joke, one that was later taken seriously, much to the chagrin or delight of fans.
    • "Let's Kill Hitler" resolves the plotline from the previous episode of Amy and Rory's daughter been kidnapped by explaining that she somehow made it to Leadworth from New York and became their never seen before best friend, Mels. Unfortunately, it also establishes something of a timeline issue since she was in NYC in the late 1960s but grew up with them as Mels decades later. The intervening years are never mentioned or explained.
    • "Robot of Sherwood":
      • Clara's sudden and previously unrevealed knowledge of TaeKwonDo, though a downplayed trope since it has no effect on the plot.
      • Although the spoon has relevance to the swordfight, it does seem to appear out of nowhere in the TARDIS. The Doctor is discussing Robin Hood, he's flipping through a book, he turns away from Clara, we hear a "CHING" sound effect and suddenly there's a big spoon in his hand, covered with either icing or cream, which the Doctor proceeds to lick. Clara doesn't even seem to notice. And the spoon immediately appears to vanish when the Doctor starts hunting for the Polaroid. (And it should be noted there is no indication of a table or anything else holding the source of the cream/icing either.) If the Doctor hadn't later needed the spoon for the swordfight, this would have met most of the criteria for a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
    • In "Kill the Moon", the moon creature lays a second egg right after it's born, without any sign given before that it could, neatly sidestepping any problems destroying the moon would cause and proving Clara was right.
    • Steven Moffat has been accused of this trope with regards to retroactively establishing both River Song and Clara Oswald as bisexual in Series 9, despite neither character displaying any tendencies in this direction previously. Possibly justified as an attempt at future-proofing the canonical romance between the Doctor and the two women in anticipation of the Doctor undergoing a Gender Swap at some point.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Arrow: The series has had quite a few minor ones over the years, but there are some big ones too.
      • In general, every time the Human Target shows up, it's with zero foreshadowing to get the team out of an otherwise impossible spot.
      • In season 6, Cayden James was supposed to be the overarching Big Bad, but then his actor decided to leave. The second half of the season quickly had to be rewritten to get rid of Cayden and elevate Diaz (who had originally just been Cayden's ally) to a true threat.
    • The Flash (2014) has several, often lumped under the general category of "because of the Speed Force."
      • One case that averts abuse of the Speed Force is the solution to the problem in season 2's Christmas episode, where The Trickster has randomly distributed bombs in Christmas presents to children around the city. They have no way of finding all the bombs in time, so Harry and Cisco come up with a solution to throw one of the bombs through the dimensional breach and this will cause the other bombs to be magnetically attracted to the first and suck them all through the same breach. Somehow involving magnetism.
      • Towards the end of the second season, this pretty much became one of Zoom's Required Secondary Powers (the other being to infect the heroes with an Idiot Ball when needed). One of the biggest examples being in the penultimate episode, the team figure out a way to disable all Earth 2 metahumans using a frequency that will cause them all intense headaches (this itself being a bit of an Ass Pull). How does Zoom get out of this one? He punches a hole into another universe and escapes; bare in mind, before this point Zoom had never demonstrated this ability, and in fact it was a plot point that they'd trapped him on Earth 2 and he needed Cisco to let him out, and while it could maybe be explained by his taking Barry's speed (Barry had, after an upgrade, demonstrated he could run through to other universes, itself an Ass Pull to justify the crossover with Supergirl (2015)), they never even offer so much and the heroes react as if this was a completely expected action of his.
      • Another example is Zoom's motivation, which repeatedly keeps changing without any foreshadowing, but treated as if this was his plan all along. Firstly he just wants to kill Barry, but then Harry figures out actually he's after Barry's speed, wanting him to improve so he could have more to steal. We then, later, discover that he's doing this because he's Secretly Dying, and with virtually no foreshadowing, it turns out all along he was really Jay Garrick (or rather, Hunter Zolomon assuming the identity of Jay Garrick), who had similarly revealed he was Secretly Dying when Caitlin performs some secret tests on his DNA (despite the fact she'd done so already when they first met and never picked this up). Once this is resolved, he then suddenly wants to invade Earth 1 with an army of metahumans, with him claiming to have 'conquered' Earth 2 (something that was never shown to be true, but is treated as such; he terrorized Earth 2 Central City, but its police force were still actively fighting against him). When they defeat this army, however, it turns out he was actually building a device to destroy the Multiverse so that he could rule the only universe left, something that had no foreshadowing to even be possible and he'd never demonstrated this level of scientific capability.
    • Supergirl (2015): Season 3 hit a bad spot of Troubled Production when the lead writer was fired for sexual assault allegations. They had already filmed half the season, but didn't want to use his scripts for the remainder (morality aside, it would have required paying him royalties). This resulted in some hasty rewrites, plots going in different directions than they were foreshadowed, and a minor sympathetic villain suddenly becoming much more evil to help join a couple plots together. While season 3 was generally considered reasonably good despite these problems, the shift was so obvious that everyone noticed.
    • Legends of Tomorrow: Used pretty shamelessly in season 4. The first half of the season was written with the intent of Hank Haywood being fully evil and willingly in league with a demon. However, the writers loved the actor so much that they decided they didn't want him to be evil after all, and changed it so that Hank's plan was to build an amusement park to share the magical creatures with the world. Nate facepalms at this and says it's such a stupid plan that the Legends really would have liked him more if they had gotten to know each other better.
  • The reveal that Dan Humphrey, with some help from Jenny is Gossip Girl comes out of left field and makes no sense at all unless you disregard pretty much every Gossip Girl blast from the first five seasons. Given the way the show was written, this would have happened no matter who they revealed it to be.
  • iCarly:
    • Inverted in the episode "iSpace Out", where Carly is suddenly revealed to be aggressively claustrophobic, and breaks the window of a training space station module to escape, despite multiple occasions earlier where Carly is perfectly normal in spaces that are half that size or less. The inversion is that the ass pull isn't used to resolve the plot, but in fact to fail the plot and bring about an end to the episode. This was done because the writers knew that having iCarly IN SPACE would be seen as a Jumping the Shark moment and therefore had to find a way to stop it.
    • Played straight with Sam liking Freddie in "iOMG". It's an ass pull because of the desire to create a Shocking Swerve season ending Cliffhanger ending. In "iOMG" Sam liking Freddie just happens. There's no previous episode arc or foreshadowing or explanation to the audience that Sam likes Freddie. The focus is on protecting a cliff-hanger ending where Sam only reveals she likes Freddie right at the end of the episode, leaving Freddie's response as the cliffhanger. Having any indication that it's Sam and Freddie would kill the swerve. They also use Brad as a Red Herring. In fact, the characters on the show itself make reference to how suddenly and strange it is, as they only mention that Sam's behaviour only started when Brad showed back up, which was only for that episode. Sam was showing signs of liking Freddie before it would kill the plot of the episode and spoil the dramatic ending. Later on in the short arc the reason is revealed to have been an incident that was never shown and took place entirely off screen, with no reference as to when it happened.
  • Life with Boys: Tess begins dating her wrestling rival Bobby and Allie, who was dating Bobby prior is not okay with it at first but then is, feels left out. Tess sets time aside to spend with Allie when Bobby gets sick, but ends up pretending to be sick to get out of it so she can go to a playoffs game. It turns out Bobby pretended to be sick so he could go to the game too. Tess breaks up with him for lying, but then realizes the hypocrisy when Allie catches her lying and decides since Allie forgave her, she can forgive him too. Cue Bobby getting another girl's number immediately at the end of the episode and the break up is permanent. That one ass pull makes the whole arc an ass pull in itself.
  • Lost:
    • Everything regarding the Man in Black/Smoke Monster during the final season:
      • His conflict with Jacob, which had the added bonus of replacing the much hyped conflict between Ben Linus and Charles Widmore.
      • His nature and Freudian Excuse.
      • Plus his getting Mode Locked as John Locke. We never learn why, or how Ilana knows this. Basically, it was just an excuse to keep Terry O'Quinn on the show in the final season.
      • The claim that the Man in Black can't leave the island unless he kills all the candidates. This is never really explained properly. It's essentially a Hand Wave so that the character can do evil things, and thus give the audience a reason to root against him. For that matter, how was Jacob keeping him on the island?
    • In season 4, Hurley gets the ability to talk to ghosts out of nowhere, which is never explained. Even weirder, this is the same season that introduces a new character who can also talk to ghosts, so what was wrong with using him for these scenes?
  • In Law & Order, Serena Southerlyn's Suddenly Sexuality. "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" Word of God is that he wanted people talking about it at the water cooler the next day, making it a Shocking Swerve.
  • The Lost Room: The business about the Law of Conservation of Objects comes out of nowhere in the last five minutes of the series and is crucial to the resolution of the main plot.
  • In The New Adventures of Old Christine, Christine's brother Matthew is a nanny for her son Ritchie during Season 1. Then he enters medical school, drops out later that season and then is suddenly a therapist seeing patients. He even says that he "glad he's a doctor" now, indicating that he has somehow obtained a Ph.D. in psychology over the course of a semester.
  • Power Rangers:
  • After spoilers for The Reveal were supposedly leaked on Reddit, the writers of Pretty Little Liars wrote in an ending for the series that angered many fans, making a long-running villain a character that had been around for half a season and garnering accusations of transphobia. The reveal shown could have been what was always planned, but many fans speculate that this trope was invoked as a result of the spoiler leak.
  • Though this is more of an in-universe example than a proper ass pull, Psych employs this when Shawn, desperate for an explanation, claims that a man was killed by a T. Rex. Then it turns out he was a paleontologist and, on dying, fell on a skeleton. Even Shawn is surprised by this.
  • The fourth season of Sons of Anarchy has a whopper in the season finale. The season spends a good deal of time focusing on an Assistant US Attorney who spends the bulk of the season building a big RICO case against the Sons that eventually sees two of their members flip (albeit one of them under duress) and one of them go to prison. The aforementioned Attorney and his people are all set to move on a gun deal the Sons are planning and they're sure to at least make some arrests. Suddenly, the Cartel guys introduced early in the season drive up, reveal that they are in fact CIA agents and tell them to close down the investigation because the CIA is using the club to take down bigger fish. This plot twist (alongside the Irish's sudden refusal to deal with anybody but Clay) not only crushes the RICO investigation but prevents Jax from killing Clay, Jax from being able to leave Charming, saves Bobby from going to prison, allows Juice's disloyalty to stay a secret from everyone in the club and leaves Jax forced to do the CIA's bidding with the threat of them letting the RICO investigation go through should Jax turn on them.
  • Stargate Atlantis needed a "dramatic" way to get Atlantis involved in the battle with the Super-Hive, so Zelenka pulled "ass drive" out of McKay's wormhole.
    • Every previous season finale ended on a big cliffhanger. It was obvious that the cliffhanger this time was going to be a Wraith ship in orbit of a defenseless Earth; but when they found out they were canceled, they had to wrap the plot up in-episode. A little bit of ass pulling seemed like the better alternative...
    • The whole "moving the control chair to Area 51" bit also seems like an ass pull, simply to put the chair (and the research facility with it) in a position to be blown up before it can be used to fight the Super-Hive. The reason given for moving it doesn't make sense at any possible level, either. The (real-life) treaty banning militarization of Antarctica certainly would not apply to an artifact predating humanity itself, and the IOA (which was founded for the explicit purpose of preventing America from monopolizing alien technology) would never have insisted that the chair be moved to America; as international territory, Antarctica would've been the perfect place for it from their perspective. Not that it would've done much good, given how well Atlantis's own drones do against the enemy ship.
    • Stargate SG-1 referenced this trope in "Redemption, Part 2":
      O'Neill: (to Carter) Well, you do have a talent for pulling solutions out of your butt. (beat) Head!
  • Star Trek:
    • Spock's "internal eyelid" in "Operation — Annihilate!" Never mentioned before. Never mentioned again, right up until a single episode in the final season of Star Trek: Enterprise.
    • Similarly, in the Next Gen episode "Ethics", Worf is injured seriously enough to be paralyzed. He asks Riker to kill him before finally submitting to experimental surgery. The surgery fails and Worf is declared dead. Then, in the words of Memory Alpha, "Due to the redundancies of Klingon physiology, where every organ in the Klingon body has a backup organ that activates whenever damage occurs to the first, his internal backups were initiated and Worf woke up." And everyone watching sat up and said, "...the hell??" These "redundancies" were never remotely alluded to before and, though they were discussed in a random Star Trek: Voyager episode, this theoretically extremely important and useful feature of Klingon biology is plot-relevant exactly once, in "Ethics"—incidentally making mincemeat of the episode-titling moral considerations of euthanasia, experimental medicine, etc.
      • Particularly glaring due the fact that the Klingon's Hat of being a Proud Warrior Race who value combat above all else. Seems like this would come up fairly often with them.
    • In-Universe:
      • For an example of the "Character Made It Up On The Spot", in The Original Series episode "The Corbomite Maneuver" Kirk pulls some Corbomite out of his ass, calling it a material that can reflect the attackers' destructive potential back on them and everything else in a large area and then some. It was entirely a bluff to get Balok to back down. It worked so well, he pulls it out again for some Romulans in "The Deadly Years". Then they actually made a Corbomite Reflector — it's the special equipment of The Federation capital ships in Star Trek: Armada. It was simply named after Kirk's bluff and that games don't count in Star Trek canon. Notably, Harlan Band tries the exact same maneuver (in a bit of a Shout-Out) against the Spung in an episode of Space Cases. It doesn't work, apparently because the Spung warlord is played by George Takei.
      • Kirk is clearly the master of this maneuver, as in "A Piece of the Action," he generates the card game Fizzbin from the orifice mentioned in the trope's name, complete with nigh-indescribable rules (thus doubling as a Bavarian Fire Drill). Suffice it to say, you don't want two jacks and a king on a Tuesday night. Kirk's mastery of this extends as far as confusing people long enough to get a good grip on the table that's going to be upended. Fizzbinn was later mentioned as a game in Quark's (in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).
    • This trope is so endemic to Star Trek that musician Aurelio Voltaire made a song that's entirely about hanging a lampshade on it, the end of which is the page's quote.
  • Thank God You're Here is a sketch/game show where various comedians are brought into different sets with different plots and as different characters. They aren't told what they're going to be doing or who they're supposed to be — though costumes can occasionally give them hints — and they are required to play the role they're given as best they can. It's like Whose Line Is It Anyway?, but without the explanations.
  • 24:
    • It was decided only towards the end of the first season that Nina would be the series's major mole, despite it contradicting some of her actions as seen earlier in the season.
    • Also, in the final season, the reveal that Dana Walsh is a mole. Not only does it come out of nowhere, but suddenly the way she dealt with her criminal ex-boyfriend in the season's first half makes no sense, as with her new characterization she clearly would have just killed him.
    • Alan Wilson comes out of nowhere and is revealed to be the true mastermind behind Day 7 and Day 5 events.
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • Towards the end of Season 2 Bonnie's magic has become this, with her coming up with incredibly convenient spells for numerous bad situations the characters have found themselves in.
    • In the final season (revolving around psychic powers), Bonnie states that her Grams once told her she is psychic. This only raises the question of why the latest Big Bad tries to mentor her rather than simply eliminating a potential threat.

    Tabletop Games  
  • Every Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master ever will occasionally resort to this to keep things moving. If necessary to end the game after going Off the Rails, they may employ the "nuclear option".
  • GURPS:
    • The game has several advantages that let the players do this, including Gizmos, which allows you to pull out a small item out of nowhere, as long as it is something your character would have, and Wild Talent, which lets you perform an untrained skill, and learn it permanently with an enhancement.
    • Several supplements have expanded on these rules to specifically model this trope, and explain the rationale for it in drama/action/comedy. GURPS also includes psionics rules, including powers similar to this that allow a precognitive character to retcon a counter to a situation they would have foreseen, so long as it doesn't contradict events that have already happened. So a character who is captured and hauled before the Big Bad could have a derringer on them... but only if they haven't actually been searched "on camera".
  • The meta-plot of Legend of the Five Rings RPG's second and third edition may be considered full of ass pulls with killing off main NPCs and gods, as the authors simply interpreted the outcomes of official L5R CCG tournaments instead of coming up with something more coherent themselves. Way less than graceful. Made even sadder by the fact they've been doing it with the game's metaplot since day one. Some are great twists, others... not so much.
  • In Mutants & Masterminds, you can spend hero points to pull stuff out of thin air. For example, your superhero Hypervolt might spend a hero point to pull some some smoke grenades from his utility belt, to pick up that Improved Grapple feat when you really need to grab the enemy, or even buy an Alternate Power feat for his electrical control and turn out to be able to create an aura of lightning around himself. There's also the Gadget power, which functions like the Device power (you have a piece of super-powered equipment, whether it's a magic sword or Powered Armor) except that you can actively switch out the function of the Gadget on the fly for whatever you currently need, up to the power level of the Gadget. So you could take a laser pistol, turn it into a jetpack if you needed to fly, or an extendable ladder, or a cloaking device, it's really limited to how many power points you spent on your Gadget.
  • Mutant City Blues indie system has a special stat named Preparedness. Specifically called for to make convenient ass pulls for players in an assumption that the character had thought it out beforehand.
  • Toon, another title by Steve Jackson Games, also features Gizmos, which can be set to be whatever you need at a specific time. In practice, this usually means anvils.
  • Warhammer 40,000's Eye of Terror campaign involved an ass pull from Games Workshop. Namely, the Eldar came in just behind the guard and marines yet ended up losing Eldrad and all the Blackstone Fortresses — i.e., the sort of result that might be expected from coming in last. And the loss of Eldrad may or may not have happened, as Games Workshop took down the .PDF with the results from their site, and materials published after the Eye of Terror campaign speak of Eldrad as alive. He is still included as a fieldable character in the Eldar codex published afterward.
    • The main result also became this, as GW had to reconcile the forces of Evil coming first in the normal game but being utterly smashed in the specialist games (specifically Battlefleet Gothic). Eventually it was decided that the baddies managed to take half of Cadia, but are now cut off in a Stalingrad-style pocket due to the Imperium smashing their spaceborne assets.
    • The Eye of Terror campaign wound up with the Imperium getting really screwed over. Not just with Cadia being overrun by Chaos though. The Orks campaign was supposed to be stopping the Tau from increasing their empire, and allegedly the Ork fanbase was pissed at this, so they co-ordinated and focused all their efforts on a system called Thracian Primus (which appeared in Eisenhorn), which has a Forge World on it; long story short, the Orks essentially smashed it to bits in what they called "The Green Kroosade", and renamed the world Mo'Dakka. As a result the Tau expanded unopposed. Furthermore, the Eldar and Dark Eldar managed to curbstomp the Thousand Sons, locking them out of the webway and preventing them ever reaching the Black Library, and supposedly Commorragh got sealed off into a pocket universe for good. Games Workshop then decided to retcon the whole thing to right before the campaign started for whatever reason out there. The forces of Disorder being a lot more organised certainly helped their cause.
    • The resolution of the Storm of Chaos in Warhammer Fantasy was similarly filled with randomness and has also been mostly ignored since. In fact, the entire Storm of Chaos campaign appears to have been completely reset, as all the army book timelines printed since then, if they even mention the forces of Chaos, merely end on an ominous note about how the forces of Chaos are massing under Archaon's banner and will soon sweep southwards. With the obvious exception of Archaon himself, most of the other Storm of Chaos characters have been completely erased from the setting (poor Valten)
  • One of the main struggles with the Storm of Chaos campaign was that the forces of evil were doing so poorly. A week into the campaign several of the Chaos armies were stalled, forcing the Games Workshop writing staff to find a work-around lest their summer-long campaign fail to get out the gate. The climactic battle planned at Middenheim was scrapped, with the campaign instead concluding in a nonsensical battle where the orc horde (which was previously a bit player) suddenly defeats Archaon, then let him go for... reasons. Likewise, the forces of order were rewarded by having the Skaven assassinate Valten.
  • All the End of Times campaign is full of these.

    Theatre 
  • The song School for Monsters in Avenue Q has Trekkie Monster donate $10 million to fund Kate's monster school. There's literally no foreshadowing that Trekkie would have this kind of money and this moment solely exists so that Kate's dreams can come true, contradicting the main point of the musical. Why he's still living in a crappy apartment is anyone's guess. Also a Critical Research Failure, as porn is not actually a stable investment at all in America during the show's run, as free sites like Pornhub have driven most pornographic production companies to near bankruptcy.
  • The Book of Mormon has Elder Cunningham do this in-universe. He tries to use the Book of Mormon to convert the Ugandans in his mission area to the church with no success. When Elder Cunningham can't find specific passages that condemn things like genital mutilation or baby rape, he resorts to pulling from pop culture references instead. While this convinces the Ugandans to learn more about Mormonism, it weighs on Cunningham's conscience that he had to resort to it. It really comes back to bite him in the ass when a high-ranking Mormon official comes to see how things are progressing, sees how badly Cunningham has been twisting the word of the Mormon book, and decomissions the entire area.
  • The Pirates of Penzance: This rendition of the Major-General's Song contains a literal example.
    Where did they come from? Oh! There you are my dear. Put those in some water, will you? ...and then wash your hands.
  • The "grand piano in the bushes" mentioned in the description is a Russian idiom that comes from a Soviet-era theatric parody of the period's documentaries tendency for fake improvisation. In it, the interviewer is asking the exemplary worker walking in a park on his day off how he likes to spend his free time.
    Worker: Oh, I like to play on a violin. Matter of fact, I randomly took a violin with me. I'll play you Oginsky's "Polonaise" on it. [pulls out the violin and plays]
    Interviewer: Bravo! Exceptional! You've got a real talent!
    Worker: Yeah!... And I also play the piano. Look, there's a grand piano standing randomly in the bushes. I'll play you Oginsky's "Polonaise" on it.

    Toys 

    Video Games 
  • After Bioshock Infinite came under criticism for having Daisy Fitzroy abruptly jump off the slippery slope and attempt to murder a child to establish that she was Not So Different from Comstock, the Burial At Sea DLC included an obvious Author's Saving Throw where it's revealed she was secretly working with the Luteces the entire time and engineered the situation to force Elizabeth to kill her, and had no intention of actually harming the child. Problem is, despite being obvious in intention, this reveal comes out of nowhere with absolutely no foreshadowing whatsoever, has little impact on the plot of Burial At Sea or the original game, and undermines Elizabeth's Character Development by taking agency away from her decision to kill Fitzroy. As a result, many fans — even ones who felt Fitzroy had been mishandled in the original game — viewed the twist as nonsensical and detrimental to the game as a whole.
  • Cave Story: Killing the final boss causes the floating island to fall. However, killing the True Final Boss causes the island to stop falling. Sloppily handwaved with something vague about "negative energy". And those three brief sentences are all the information the game gives you on this matter, in stark contrast to the nicely fleshed-out backstory of the Final Boss and the True Final Boss themselves.
  • Detroit: Become Human: The late game revelation that Alice is an android. Other than some very sparse hints that can only really be picked up on in hindsight, it doesn't seem to make any sense at all. Half of Kara's story consists of providing Alice with human necessities, such as food, warmth, sleep, and shelter, usually with a lot of risk and effort considering they're on the run from the law. Alice herself never mentions she doesn't need these things, which would save Kara the trouble. Alice even gets sick at one point, complete with a fever, which is later explained away by a mention of child androids being able to mimic human illnesses for a more authentic experience. Altogether, it comes off as incoherent and pointless.
  • Half the plot-relevant elements of Fahrenheit are ass pulls, mostly owing to how the game was initially intended to be much longer than it actually wound up being, and the developers were simultaneously given less and less time to finish the game. These include the Big Bad being a Mayan oracle, the homeless banding together to observe people in silence, an artificial intelligence born from the Internet revealing itself as a secondary antagonist, the Indigo Child, and the true origin of Lucas' newfound superhuman strength.
  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War: A seemingly Well-Intentioned Extremist, King Travant of Thracia, murders The Hero Sigurd's sister Ethlyn and her husband Quan, the rulers of the Manster District, and he kidnaps their infant daughter Altena and raises her as his own. While his acts are heinous and he clearly is working against Sigurd, what we do know is that he also seeks to improve the welfare of his country. The midquel, Thracia 776 (where Quan and Ethlyn's son Leif is the main character), reveals that the Loptyr Sect manipulated Travant into killing Quan and Ethlyn. It comes off as kind of cheap.
  • While Kingdom Hearts is no stranger to Kudzu Plot twists, 3D: Dream Drop Distance is especially infamous among the fandom for having one Info Dump Retcon after another during The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Turns out everything since the first game was All According to Plan for the Big Bad via never-before-seen Time Travel magic, and the X-Blade-forging method from Birth by Sleep was actually incorrect this whole time. The only Foreshadowing the former even remotely had was a wordless Bonus Boss who just happened to wield a few time-based attacks — and in another game altogether (the aforementioned BbS), no less — while the latter literally comes out of nowhere just to set things up for III.
  • Kingdom Hearts III has a downplayed example in Xigbar being Luxu. While III does a decent job of Foreshadowing this twist, the same can't be said for anything before Re:coded's secret ending from the II.5 HD ReMix collection (which is rather vague by itself). Xigbar had already been an established character for around 10 years before that scene, having played important roles in II, Bb S and 3D. None of those games ever gave the indication that Braig/Xigbar was actually someone from the distant past manipulating events in the present.
  • L.A. Noire has Phelps cheating on his wife with the junkie Elsa. While the story does try to foreshadow the event by having Phelps see the person at the club a few times, there's absolutely no build up leading to the event and there's not even any hints at a possible troubled marriage. Said event advances the plot further and kickstarts Phelps's snooping around into a big conspiracy, but none of it would have happened if it wasn't for that event that got Phelps publicly ousted.
  • This can be applied to the ending of Legendary, wherein Deckard's Signet is revealed out of entirely nowhere to be the blueprint for the construction of another Pandora's Box.
  • LEGO Island 2 brings us the constructopedia. It's a book that supposedly holds the island together, and if a page is torn, the building assigned to it falls apart. It's not mentioned anywhere in any of the other two games in the series, nor is any hint of its existence made until the Brickster needs it. It's just a simple Plot Device that was pulled out of thin air so they could give the Brickster a reason to pull the entire island apart in one fell swoop. It's even more glaring if you played the first game, where the Brickster actually goes to the trouble of tearing the buildings apart individually.
  • In Mass Effect 3, the Synthesis ending. Throughout the entire game, the player is repeatedly told by opposing factions that the only options in dealing with the Reapers are to either destroy or subjugate the Reapers, but the last three minutes of the game suddenly declares that there's a third "preferred" option; Synthesis, which was only previously mentioned in the original game by Saren, and treated as a monstrosity that has seen him become a mere puppet of Sovereign; furthermore, Synthesis is depicted as making organics and synthetics into techno-organics, rather than Saren's use of cybernetic implants, and somehow accomplishes the task of making everyone into hybrids by simply shooting a green beam throughout the galaxy, which apparently changes the fabric of life by, according to the Catalyst, modifying all "synthetic" thought processes and turning every single organic being into cyborgs. Note that the Synthesis ending is not alluded to or available if you have a low enough effective military strength.
  • Mega Man X5 was supposed to be the Grand Finale for the X series and things would pick back up in Mega Man Zero. But Executive Meddling caused Mega Man X6 to continue the X series into a Post-Script Season. Zero was thought to have died in X5, but he can be encountered during X6 in perfect shape. He claims to have hid himself to heal himself, but no solid reason is given how he did this. He just shows up.
    • A conversation between Zero and one of Dr. Light's holograms in the same game, however, has him admit to having no idea how he was brought back to perfect working condition, wondering if the good doctor was responsible.
  • Messiah: You are just a tiny little cherub whose only powers are Not Quite Flight and the ability to possess people. The final boss? Satan himself. Surely you stand no chance? Gee, guess what, right before the final encounter it's revealed that your possession ability somehow also can generate magical projectiles that specifically hurt this final boss.
  • Mischief Makers: The Beastector turning out to have originally been human. It has no bearing on the overall plot and comes out literally at the end of the game. The only hint to it prior is Merco mentioning Earth as one of the Empire's targets after his boss fight with Marina.
  • Mortal Kombat 9: The ending where Quan Chi reveals that Shao Kahn sold him the souls of fallen Earthrealm warriors makes very little sense when you consider that it was never shown that such a deal was made and that Kahn should have no jurisdiction over souls that aren't his. It's just a plot device that the writers pulled out of their rectums without even explaining it. Also considering that the Netherrealm has been described as only being able to accept evil or tainted souls. A rule that was VERY CONVENIENTLY ignored here in order for this to work.
  • Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones:
    • After defeating the Vizir, Kaileena suddenly comes back as a ghost and conveniently destroys the dagger and the sands of time. This is odd because Kaileena didn't come back as a ghost when she was killed in the previous game and the game provides no explanation of why she couldn't do it before the Vizir's death.
  • In the 2016 reimagining of Ratchet & Clank (both the video game and the movie it's a tie-in to), Drek succeeds in destroying the planet Novalis with the Deplanetizer weapon. This sends Ratchet into a Heroic BSoD and he retreats back to Veldin in doubt about whether he's cut out to be a hero, blaming himself for Novalis' destruction by the fact that he failed to sabotage the Deplanetizer. Clank eventually talks him back into rejoining the fight, mainly by highlighting the fact that the entire population of Novalis was managed to be successfully evacuated before its destruction. No, this fact was not brought up or foreshadowed before this little reveal.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, Bonds route. So you've decided to oppose Dagda's plan. Naturally, Dagda, being the one who gave you a second chance at life, decides to sweep your life under your feet as punishment. How does Danu maintain your Plot Armor? Why, create a clone of Dagda with the same powers but far more subservient to her! Even if she did absorb the powers of a fellow god who can create masses of new life, what she does is extremely unethical if not abusive and hypocritical and sounds more like a quick-fix solution than a more natural-flowing effort to rein her son in while keeping the beloved hero alive.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic Adventure, the concept of the Chaos Emeralds having both positive and negative energy isn't brought up until just before the final battle of the game, and it wasn't even foreshadowed before that. It just serves as a convenient way of letting Sonic become Super Sonic and get the edge over Perfect Chaos.
    • In Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic uses Chaos Control, a move he had never used or learned to use before, to survive being blown up in the space pod he was trapped in by Eggman.
  • In Star Fox Adventures, Fox's old foe, Andross, was thrown in as the final boss very late in development, and appears to hijack the games plot without any real buildup or foreshadowing—it doesn't even explain how he survived the final battle in Star Fox 64. Making this hasty addition more obvious is that hacking into game reveals that an entire fight sequence between the Fox character and the main villain of the game, General Scales had been programmed, complete with dialogue already recorded.
  • Played for laughs in South Park: The Stick of Truth, in which Princess Kenny betrays the group at the end. Morgan Freeman then shows up out of nowhere to explain the character's intricate backstory that was never foreshadowed in any way and only makes sense within the context of the LARP that the boys are playing in.
    • The sequel also plays this trope for laughs by giving you the option to play as a girl. Since it's meant to be the same character, somehow nobody noticed the New Kid was actually a girl during the entirety of Stick of Truth, not even her own parents! It's later revealed that your parents were lying about your identity to protect you from the government. Played straight in the end, where Mitch Conner dies in a fight with his mother after learning his own tragic backstory of how his mom fucked his dad. Keep in mind that Mitch Conner and his mother is just Cartman doing handpuppets.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: When you are about to fight the final boss, Tabuu, in the Subspace Emissary story mode, Sonic the Hedgehog (who is not even a Nintendo character) appears out of nowhere and smashes his wings, significantly weakening him. The surprise effect was somewhat lost due to announcements that he would be in the game prior to the release of this game.
  • Tales of the Abyss: The revelation that Anise Tatlin has been the mole in your party. Essentially, this character was portrayed as teasing, but not suspicious in any way, until the halfway point of the game. At this point, the character is suddenly 'absent' during short intervals, so they can 'write letter reports' and then act highly suspicious when someone mentions the letters and stutters around, stating that, yes, the letter has been sent, no problem. Said character also looks around suspiciously, before doing an exaggerated, theatrical fall, unlocking new areas and acting shocked. It's so bad that one of the party members calls the character out on their behavior. And yet, the player is supposed to figure that this has been going on for the entire game.
  • Tears to Tiara 2: Monomachus' resurrection comes out of nowhere but a cryptic line from the dragons at his death a few stages previous, the mechanics of which are unexplained in the slightest except the dragons saved him when humans couldn't have.

    Web Animation 
  • In Dusk's Dawn when Breeze Rider swipes the sceptre. It was never explained or foreshadowed outside of a Chekhov's Gun moment.
  • GoAnimate "Grounded" videos will pull out all the stops to make sure a character gets grounded and humiliated. Recently, many video makers have taken to the term "GoAnimate Logic" to explain how anyone can do anything and how everything gets put back to normal.
  • The last-episode twist of TOME, that Rubirules was the main villain, has been accused of being this or a Shocking Swerve. However, the author did plan it from the beginning.

    Web Comics 
  • 8-Bit Theater: Writers have just been reading the book!
  • Cinema Snob Reviews Frozen (a fan comic where The Cinema Snob reviews Frozen) discusses this in terms of Snob calling out how the film doesn't seem to have limits on Elsa's powers. When she says she didn't know what she's capable of, Snob says the script didn't know either.
  • Collar 6:
    • It manages this when Butterfly conjures a SIXTY-FOOT INFERNO OF FIRE... for a freakin' spanking contest. With no explanation except that the comic started taking the "Fantasy" part of being a "BDSM Fantasy Comic" literally, and a hasty explanation a few strips later.
    • Sixx defeats said column of fire with a "submissive shield," drawing from the same hasty explanation. What's worse, as Sixx is a dominant by trade, she somehow drew the power to do it from her submissives, one of whom had no idea what was happening at all.
  • In Commander Kitty, Zenith's "resurrection" and subsequent takeover of CK's ship is explained as the result of her having installed a virus on the ship beforehand. Which would have required her to predict in advance that she would 1. be disabled at some point in the near future and 2. plugged back into the same ship afterwards. Considering that Zenith fell for a transparent ploy to dupe her into leading CK's crew back to her base of operations and her master plan was doomed from the start due to a comically obvious oversight, the notion of her having such an elaborate contingency plan seriously strains willing suspension of disbelief.
  • Dumm Comics: Skadi has one that doubles as a literal ass pull, on the last page of the Gamebook arc.
  • The Electric Wonderland comic "The New Adventures of the Nettropolis Narvel" contains the most unpredictable ending that Peter Paltridge could think of for a love story, using Schrödinger's Butterfly to subvert a "Truman Show" Plot. In order to keep it a surprise, he kept foreshadowing to a minimum.
  • Homestuck:
    • A certain cool dude was assumed dead some time ago, but later turned up alive with little explanation. It's unclear why Davesprite's missing wing and yellow blood weren't seen at the scene of his presumed death. However, an earlier event could be interpreted as foreshadowing of his survival. Jade sees through her spectaGoggles that there are 13 Daves in the incipisphere, including Davesprite. But when one (other than Davesprite) dies, the count goes down to 12.
    • Dirk's Auto-Responder pulls a minor one, although it references the trope by name. "The algorithms are guaranteed to be 96% indistinguishable from DS's native neurological responses, based on some statistical analysis I basically just pulled out of my ass right now."
    • Act 6 has Brain Ghost Dirk appearing out of nowhere, which makes sense since Jake's hope powers have amplified him into existence, and then he tears Aranea's soul from her body; a power not previously established (though his power set can be inferred by the name of his mythological role, being one of the few that have been explained outside of Fanon), and by a borderline-Creator's Pet character as well. It's later revealed during Caliborn's masterpiece that this is what Dirk needs to do beforehand so he can destroy the soul, which justifies it somewhat, and many characters who have ascended to the god tiers display sudden and immense increases in competence involving their powers shortly after ascension without any prior knowledge or practice.
    • The Rings of Void and Life seem to be ass pulls. Before Act 6 there were minimal references to them despite playing a more and more significant role. They are then revealed to have abilities unlike the previous rings seen in the comic, like being used by players (it's a hard rule that the "regular" rings only transform Prospitians or Dersites) and the ability to be transported to and from Dream Bubbles. They seem to directly parallel Life and Void players Jane and Roxy. When one goes missing, the other is miraculously discovered.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Parodied with Vaarsuvius's familiar Blackwing the raven, who actually is supposed to be there and visible all the time. Its popping in and out of existence makes fun of how familiars (and horses, or any living or bulky possessions) are often treated in D&D sessions: Only there when they are needed, never when it would be inconvenient or difficult to bring them along.
    • A more serious ass pull showed up later, however. The Potion of Glibness, which Elan claims he bought while they were separated despite it never being mentioned before. At least he and Hinjo went to several island states giving him plenty of opportunity to buy it. This too is a parody of the tendency of gamers to squirrel away random potions and other single-use magic items that they promptly forget about, then somewhere down the line get into a situation where they suddenly remember that they have this thing that might actually be helpful.
  • In early strips of Questionable Content, the relationship between humans and their Anthro PCs is clearly that of owner-and-possession. A few thousand strips later, the creator finally noticed that, if the Anthro PCs were really intelligent, this was slavery. Out of nowhere, it was made clear that the relationship is a non-binding "friendship" contract, and the term "owner" became offensive. This makes some of the early strips (where Pintsize appears to have no say in what is done to him or his chassis by Marten, Faye, or the government) kinda creepy.
  • Parodied/invoked in Terror Island, which brings us "Bartleby, Sid and Stephen's other roommate who only exists once every 100 strips", and always immediately resolves the plot, even inexplicably resurrecting Aorist!

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • Done in one episode where the family's new dog plays in the street and avoids being hit by a car, only for a hot air balloon piloted by pirate cats to land on top of the dog from nowhere. The accident sets up the plot.
    • Another episode has Stan somehow escape (off-screen) from a gang of violent drug dealers with the help of his pet mouse.
      "Cheesers came back."
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a base-breaking example in the series finale, where Aang, after struggling for some time over whether or not he should kill Firelord Ozai, is suddenly able to Take a Third Option and strip his bending from him using a previously unknown and largely unforeshadowed technique. Word of God from a post-series artbook states that they'd planned on this story development well before the show was even picked up by a kids network. There are some hints minor that Aang could find an option like this, but it is still a very sudden and last minute development. Even stranger, the episodes immediately before the finale were the first time it was even suggested that Aang had any particular compunction against killing someone (although it's certainly in line with his character and upbringing). He had showed no more hesitation than anyone else until then, and had by far the biggest bodycount, even ignoring various Avatar-state events like the Season 1 finale.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • In the Book 1 finale, Aang appears before Korra and teaches her energybending, allowing her to fix all the damage that had been done by the Equalists. While the existence of the technique is established in the first season, Aang appearing and allowing Korra to use it still comes out of nowhere.
    • In the Book 2 finale, during Korra's battle with a merged Unalaq and Vaatu (Dark Avatar), Jinora enters the battle with a glowing orb of light that inexplicably illuminates a blinding light onto Republic City and reveals Raava's light energy inside the Dark Avatar. Korra is able to extract the light from him and revive Raava. While it was shown that she went back to help Korra after Tenzin saved her in the Spirit World, how she got to Korra or what she even did, much less how she did it, isn't explained. Or even acknowledged. It was later lampshaded and parodied in Book 4's Recap Episode.
  • The ending of BIONICLE: The Journey to One is an example only due to the writer having to cap off the story after the series got canned mid-production. Gali finds a prophecy that tells her how they will defeat Makuta, so she and the other Toa simply follow the instructions. Despite knowing said prophecy, Makuta doesn't try to stop her, allowing Gali to convince her partners to sacrifice themselves to overpower him, revealing that the Toa have been the source of the elements all along — even though previously, it was heavily implied that they needed special masks to access elemental powers, and that's not even getting into whatever the books have said about how the elements worked.
  • On The Cleveland Show, Terry being in an extended homosexual relationship. While the possibility of Terry being gay actually WAS foreshadowed more than once, Terry being in a committed relationship at all counts as an ass pull because his relationship was implied to have started before the show, but he has seduced and had sex with various women in the first season.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • The resolution of Henrich's plotline, revealing he was once a girl that got the Gender Bender treatment thanks to a magic spell is largely believed to be this, since it was never truly foreshadowed outside the often cited Noodle Incident that was revealed to be the above incident. Since it aired in the last season, it's largely seen as a half-baked way to end Heinrich's plot before the series ended.
    • The Galactic KND is also seen as this, as well as the revelation that aging in the KND universe is an actual disease.
    • Likewise, quite fans dismiss Chad's claim that he was Good All Along and was actually continuing to help the KND (and Sector V in particular) while he was within the ranks of the Teen Ninjas, to be this. Considering the fact that ever since his Face–Heel Turn at the end of the 2nd season, all we ever see Chad do was help in attacking the KND, you can probably understand few people buying his sudden pleading of innocence
  • In El Tigre the Titanium Titan gets back in White Pantera's good graces by promising not to hurt his son El Tigre, even under the influence of Pantera's Lie Detector boots. Just when it seems like he's really changed, he goes back to his old Ax-Crazy self. Turns out he was wearing "a truth-proof vest."
    • There is a split-second moment that could have foreshadowed his deception, but again it goes by too fast for anyone to really notice.
  • In The Fairly OddParents, some of "Da Rules" seem to be made up on the spot to make sure Timmy can't just unwish his problems (all vocal wishes must be made in the voice of the godchild, no breakfast wishes after 10:30am, etc.). Most of Da Rules/the fairies' abilities do not apply to other episodes. Examples:
    • The "No wishing for true love or wishing to break it" line? Apparently this does not count at the end of "Wishology".
    • Lampshaded in one episode, "Movie Magic" (ironically enough, Timmy didn't want to use his fairies because he knew it was against the rules to use magic to win a competition):
      Wanda: True. But if you just happened to go where cool action stuff was happening...
      Timmy: [catching on] And I brought my film equipment with me and just happened to catch something on film...
      Cosmo: And if I just happen to tear this page out of the rulebook that says we can't help you... [tears out page that reads "You can't help him."]
    • This has been happening frequently in the latest season, to the point it's gotten utterly ridiculous. One episode, for example, has Timmy unable to wish Sparky back into a dog because he's in love with being human, which somehow falls under "not being able to break true love."
  • From Family Guy, right after Stewie has cut open a camel's stomach and climbed inside to keep from freezing to death á la The Empire Strikes Back:
    Brian: There's a Comfort Inn.
  • As an in-universe example, the plots of most of the movies in Home Movies are held together with chewing gum and ass pulls.
  • In an episode of Inspector Gadget, there is an evil mastermind who has analyzed every one of Gadget's gadgets and determined that the way to kill him is to lock him inside a furnace and turn it on. This initially appears to work, but then Gadget uses a new weapon never seen before (or after); a hand holding an aerosol can of freon comes out from the top of his hat and sprays the walls out of the room, putting the furnace out.
    • In another episode, a M.A.D. agent challenged Gadget to pick up a scarf with his teeth while on horseback. Fortunately, Gadget is able to deploy his own teeth from his mouth, which are able to fly around remotely and grab the scarf with ease. Seriously.
  • Played for laughs repeatedly by the Looney Tunes, who can pull whatever they need to advance the plot at that point out from behind themselves at a moment's notice, leading some viewers to conclude it is actually being pulled from their ass. In The Scarlet Pumpernickel, Chuck Jones realized that Daffy was about to win so he had to make a Gainax Ending resolving into a Random Events Plot. Critics agree that this was an awesome ending.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Played for laughs and taken on another level where plenty of things happen just because with the characters accepting them unquestionably. Like the Circus of Fear episode where it turns out that Dr. Fear is actually a common earthworm or many episodes where characters do stuff just to advance the plot without anything close to a in-universe justification.
  • Megas XLR used ass pulls as a source of comedy, with the titular Megas often having buttons that are labeled as being pretty much activating the "save the day" function. Of course, it didn't always exactly pan out the way you expected.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In terms of reformations, Sunset Shimmer, Discord, Starlight Glimmer, and Trixie all being revealed to secretly just want friendship in spite of their actions, motivations, and personalities not reflecting this felt more like a means of pulling a Start of Darkness and/or Freudian Excuse out of thin air that could conveniently be resolved via The Power of Friendship rather than a genuine character trait.
    • In terms of conflict resolutions, a number of episodes skirted around strawmen who had valid points by having characters simply sing a song which would win over the crowd and "prove" the strawmen wrong. The Times They Are A Changeling had Spike change the opinions of an entire group who had a fairly understandable prejudice against changelings by singing "A Changeling Can Change", while School Daze had the Mane Six brush aside all of Chancellor Neighsay's valid criticisms about the Friendship School and its teachers by singing "Friendship Always Wins". Since these episodes deal with more complicated themes of racism it's pretty much the only way to resolve them within 22 minutes, and it wouldn't be the best idea to admit a Fantastic Racist like Neighsay was in any way right when the intended audience is children.
    • Apparently magic can do everything... except regrow a ruined mane, as "It Isn't The Mane Thing About You" demonstrates. This is even more questionable since perfectly workable mustache-growing spells have been shown to be effective, twice.
    • The episode "Daring Doubt" revealed that Daring Do's foe Ahuizotl was Good All Along and was just a mystic guardian protecting artifacts from Daring & Callaberon. Except, that doesn't jive with any of his previous appearances which depicted him as a Card-Carrying Villain (excluding "Read it and Weep", which was written by one of his foes, justifying his over-the-top villainy) and comes off less as "don't assume someone's bad without asking them first" and more "we need to reform all the non Legion of Doom villains before the show ends, no matter how little sense it makes."
  • Redakai:
    • The Cataclysm Stone. At first, they're afraid to touch it due to the potential of it exploding and causing a second Cataclysm, but by the end of the episode they just freeze and shatter it without any foreshadowing or indication that it would work.
    • Another episode where Maya is acting Brainwashed and Crazy due to an evil-infusing attack used by the villains. Not only do the others figure out what's happening with no prior knowledge, they figure the way to fix it is to use the same evil-infusing technique that caused her to have her Face–Heel Turn in the first place (a technique named after the villain, no less...). Rather than the logical conclusion that an additional infusion of evil would just make things worse, thanks to their Designated Hero status, Maya is cured.
    • Actually rather common, now, usually having to do with Ky's "Inner Kairu".
  • Parodied on Robot Chicken, where Vader does the famous Luke, I Am Your Father scene with Luke... and then makes every other major Star Wars reveal to Luke, including that Leia is his sister, The Empire will be defeated by Ewoks, and several of the much maligned additions from the Prequel Trilogy. Luke is left increasingly bewildered and confused until he starts to think that Vader is trolling him, and finally goes up to Vader, calmly tells him "Look, if you're not going to take this seriously... I'm out" and walks away.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Played for laughs when a busload of kids are stranded on an island and, after a Lord of the Flies parody, the episode ends with the following narration by James Earl Jones:
      So the children learned how to function as a society, and eventually they were rescued by... oh, let's say Moe.
    • Also lampshaded with Batman's 'carousel reversal spray'.
    • Again Played for Laughs when Bart and Nelson take the roles of David and Goliath. Goliath is suddenly slain by Ralph's tombstone and the thrower was... Ralph!
      Bart: Ralph! I thought you were dead!
      Ralph: Nope.
  • South Park had the ending to "Ass Burgers", where the status quo is suddenly returned, with Stan's parents getting back together and the dynamic between the boys getting restored.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil has been accused of this thrice:
    • At the end of the first season; Star's family wand is destroyed thanks to Toffee's manipulations. However, a magical pony appears out of nowhere and rebuilds it for Star with no explanation.
    • At the end of the Battle for Mewni arc; Star apparently dies after Toffee manages to escape her wand and shatters it with her still inside. However, Star awakens in some sort of limbo with Glossaryck (who was killed earlier by a furious Ludo) and somehow manages to purify the universal magic Toffee corrupted, restore the wand, revive and awake her full potential to which she uses to pulverize Toffee with one blast.
    • In the series finale, the strength of Star and Marco's love for each other creates a magical portal that forcibly merges Earth and Mewni after Star's destruction of the Magical Realm separates all dimensions. Nothing in the show ever implied that this could happen, and the one thing that could have justified it (the Blood Moon Curse that bonds souls together) was undone several episodes prior.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars Darth Maul is revealed to be Not Quite Dead despite having been cut in half and then falling down a bottomless pit. The explanation for how he survived basically boils down to...his anger kept him alive.note  Understandably, most fans choose to quietly push this to the side given that Maul's resurrection ultimately gave us some of the most acclaimed episodes in the entire series.
  • In many respects, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) had much of this in Ninja Tribunal, such as an original Shredder.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) did it so often they started lampshading it:
    Krang: Here, take this. It's an [improbably specialized device which coincidentally will exactly resolve the situation].
    Shredder: And this is something you just happened to have lying around?
    Krang: We've got to keep the story moving!
  • ThunderCats (1985):
    • There are so many ass pull moments that go in favor of the good guys, it is annoying. The Sword of Omens in particular seems to gain new powers every episode. As Mumm-Ra once said, it's always used to "pull [Lion-O's] fat from the fire." Whenever the good guys are in a bind, it's always the Sword of Omens that saves the day.
    • Apparently, Cheetara has untapped extreme power. All that one has to do is piss her off royally. Then she's capable of exuding brilliant rays of psychic energy that can disable a mobile fortress, knock the good guys out of a trance, and destroy machines. What?
    • Even the Big Bad Mumm-Ra has his own ass pull moments. There are moments in the show that Mumm-Ra seemed to be killed off for good, but he somehow comes back:
      • Fighting a Genie underground, causing a cave-in that traps them both.
      • Lion-O defeating Mumm-Ra in his final day of the Anointment Trials. It seemed permanent.
      • Mumm-Ra trying to open the Star of Thundera, which causes a massive explosion that Mumm-Ra seemed to be consumed by.
    • Even when the Ancient Spirits of Evil get sick of Mumm-Ra's failings and give him an ultimatum to kill off the good guys or else he'll be banished from Third Earth. As expected, Mumm-Ra fails and gets exiled. What happens next? He ends up on New Thundera.
  • In ThunderCats (2011) the resolution of the Sibling Triangle between brothers Lion-O and Tygra and their mutual Love Interest Cheetara (Lion-O's bodyguard) struck some as resolved this way, with the victor receiving insufficient foreshadowing. And the revelation that Pumyra was Evil All Along was regarded as an even bigger ass pull.
  • On the Total Drama series, Chris is an in-universe master of this trope, constantly coming up with new rules and conditions to keep the Show Within a Show interesting.
  • In Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race Don pulls the classic "this was a non-elimination round if a major character happened to lose!" on more than one occasion, at least once twice in a row. But even that pales in comparison to the double elimination in "Down and Outback," taking out Rock and Spud for coming in second-last right after they beat Chet and Lorenzo.
  • The way the plot involving the Orb resolves in The Venture Bros. In a flashback where the Orb is introduced, Sandow appears to have killed Lloyd Venture to stop him from using the Orb. However — and this isn't revealed until Phantom Limb gets his hands on the Orb a season later — he didn't actually kill Lloyd, he just broke the Orb, preventing the doomsday device from being used.
  • W.I.T.C.H.:
    • There's a pretty good one near the end of season one. Cedric and his men have the Guardians (and a tag-along Matt) trapped on a snowy cliff and the only way out is if Will forks over the Heart of Candracar. What does she do? Suddenly creates copies of the Heart and make them try to find the real one (which none of them were). This was during the time Will was pulling Badass Normal duty and before Greg Weisman stepped in and rewrote the rules to make sense.
    • The episode "N is for Narcissist" had one moment where the girls had to be transported away through a portal during a car wash but couldn't disappear unannounced or it would look like they were skipping out on their jobs. Blunk suddenly asks the girls to give him their shoes, and then wears them obscured from view so that only the shoes are visible, while throwing his voice to make it look as though the girls never left. Consequently, the whole group of girls are stuck barefoot on the other side of the portal, having been forced to shed their socks because they would get torn up without shoes...
  • While not a big offender in terms of plot, Wolverine and the X-Men has an ass pull in the fights between Wolverine and Sabretooth. Since a fight between two guys with healing factor and razor sharp weapons would be far too messy for a children's cartoon, their fights end up being relatively anti-climatic. The ass pull comes in their first encounter when Sabretooth pulls a giant taser gun nearly half as big as he is out of his cloak, despite there being no bulk or any sign of it when you can peek into his cloak before—making it look like he actually pulled it out of his rear end.

Alternative Title(s): Tracto Ex Culo, Tractum Ex Culo

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