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Chekhov's Armoury
aka: Chekhovs Armory

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"Looks like an ordinary briefcase, but this contains exactly the items you'll almost certainly need on your mission."
Ü, Irregular Webcomic!, "Espionage"

A Chekhov's Gun is an item introduced before its use, and it is usually quite inconspicuous. In a movie, if you see a brief shot focusing on a single object, such as a fork on a table, you can be guaranteed that that particular item will be used later in order to resolve a problem or as a weapon. The item's function may or may not be fully apparent at first and discovering its use may be part of the narrative device.

A Chekhov's Armoury happens when a work is plagued by Chekhov's Guns ranging from items to characters and situations. Basically, it's The Law of Conservation of Detail taken to its Logical Extreme; where everything is important. Remember Tropes Are Tools, so relying on multiple Chekhov's Guns is not bad in itself and its narrative success will depend on the writer's expertise.

Having a Chekhov's Armoury allows for more Playing With these narrative devices, so more plot-relevant Chekhov's Guns can be hidden by more obvious ones that are given trivial uses.

Carefully written and/or Myth Arc-laden shows tend to have a Chekhov's Armoury. It also provides good potting soil for Epileptic Trees. Chekhov's Armouries also occur in long-standing works. Smaller works, on the contrary, might struggle fitting so much Chekhov's Guns.

As mentioned above, Chekhov's Armouries can be composed of different types of Chekhov's narrative devices.

  • Chekhov's items:

  • Chekhov's characters:
    • Chekhov's Gunman - an apparently unimportant character gains relevance later in the story.
    • Chekhov's Army - when there are many Chekhov's Gunmen. Or the Chekhov's Armoury for your everyday Chekhov's Guns.
    • Chekhov M.I.A. - when the absence of a character is conspicuous, said character will show up to move the plot forward.

  • Chekhov's exposition:
    • Chekhov's Classroom - when some important piece of information is taught in a lesson whether within an actual classroom.
    • Chekhov's Hobby - hobbies, even the silly ones, are meant to be needed later in the plot. If actually shown on screen (not only mentioned in dialogue), they are hidden as characterization moments.
    • Chekhov's News - news on the background not even how mundane will show events that will somehow find their way into the plot.
    • Chekhov's Party - parties, often past ones, will surely provide meaningful interactions, situations, or general bits of information.
    • Chekhov's Skill - when the honing of any skill takes screen-time, it will come in handy.
    • Chekhov's Time Travel - if time travel is both mentioned and possible, then it's going to be used by some character.
    • The Legend of Chekhov for legends or myths that are not only true (even if only to an extent) but also plot-relevant.

  • Other tropes to stock your Chekhov's Armoury can be found in the index for things that will be important later.

Chekhov's Armouries are opposite of Cow Tools, where there are a large number of seemingly significant tchotchkes which turn out to be just window dressing.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Super, in the Galactic Prisoner Arc, every plot thread mentioned to attempt to kill Moro with (minus the Namekian Savior) is ultimately used to do so:
    • Vegeta's Forced Spirit Fission, while unable to stop Moro the first time, is ultimately vital to defeating him by weakening him enough to leave him vulnerable. Vegeta also uses it to combine the power of all the assembled Dragon Fighters and send to Goku in order for him to defeat him, making the Dragon Team having all assembled to defend Earth one of these as well.
    • The Daikaioshin might not have his godly powers, as they went to Kid Buu, but he's still able to make the game-winning play by finding Uub while everyone else is focused on Moro.
    • Kid Buu having the Daikaioshin's godly power turns out to be a vital plot point when Uub now having it is exploited by the Daikaioshin directing him to contribute Ki to Vegeta's effort to power up Goku, finally tipping the scales in the heroes favor.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • A lot of stuff, especially regarding Asuna. Notably, all of the times the spells Negi cast on her fail is not due to him being an Inept Mage, but rather due to her Magic Cancel ability. Her poor grades are implied to be caused by a large scale Laser-Guided Amnesia spell. Plus a bunch of other stuff.
    • Negima!'s Armoury was especially effective because much of the foreshadowing was disguised as comedy, once again especially with regards to Asuna. Her superhuman speed, strength, and agility were mostly played for slapstick humor, her Magic Cancel was mostly played for fanservice (so that Negi's spells would blast her clothes off but leave her unharmed), and so forth.
    • Also, while not necessarily an example of Chekhov's Armoury per se, it's also interesting to pay attention to how Akamatsu handled the fighters and supernatural characters in the earlier chapters. For example, the characters who were left out of the Dodgeball gamenote . The most extreme of these foreshadows was the class roster in the first chapter.
  • One Piece has a ton.
    • Right from the start with our protagonist Monkey D. Luffy’s mysterious initial, which was never remarked upon until a reader sent a postcard asking the author what it stood for, only to be told don’t worry about it for now. Hundreds of chapters later we learn there is some significance to it, hinting toward some sort of connection between Luffy and the Pirate King Gol D. Roger and others who bear the initial, even if unrelated by blood, but even after another 800+ chapters we’ve received no further info except confirmation it’s directly linked to the central mystery of the entire plot.
    • The second earliest is Luffy's hat; in the anime, its importance isn't explained until after Zoro joins the crew, as opposed to chapter one in the manga. But after the Time Skip about six hundred chapters later, it's revealed that Shanks treasured it so much because he got it from his former captain, Pirate King Gold Roger. And then during the Reverie arc (another 300 chapters later), we see another straw hat, possibly giant-sized, lying frozen beneath the World Government’s headquarters, the significance of which has yet to be explained.
    • Then there's Coby, who accompanies Luffy for the first couple of episodes and chapters before he joins the Marines. He becomes a chore boy but eventually becomes an apprentice to Vice-Admiral Garp, who was famous for having cornered Gold Roger many times. It turns out that Garp is Luffy's grandfather.
    • And then we have Arlong's Dragon, who reappears a few hundred chapters/episodes later, and becomes the Straw Hats' friend and ally.
    • Laboon and Crocus, an oversized whale and an extremely skilled doctor at the entrance to the Grand Line. Laboon befriended a group of pirates that promised to return to him after they navigated the Grand Line, but they never show. Crocus left as a ship's doctor to find out what happened to them and informs Laboon that they ran away. Laboon didn't want to believe him. It eventually turns out that it wasn't true; they were, in fact, killed. But one of the crew members, the acting captain Brook who happened to be Laboon's favorite, ate the Yomi Yomi no Mi/Revive-Revive Fruit, which enabled him to return to life. He is currently traveling with the Straw Hat Pirates as their musician, in order to fulfill his crew's promise. Oh, and Crocus? He was Gol D. Roger's doctor.
    • Little Garden. Two giants have been fighting for a hundred years, their every battle ending in a draw. The fact that the Straw Hats manage to befriend them is no surprise. The surprise comes a couple of hundred chapters later (notice a pattern here?). Oimo and Kashi, giants and gatekeepers for one of the World Government's bases, Enies Lobby, became so because the World Government told them that they had their bosses in prison, and promised that if they could guard the gate for a century, they would allow them to go free. When the Straw Hats manage to break the gates, and Oimo tearfully tells Usopp his story, the latter informs him of the truth, resulting in a pair of powerful Heel Face Turns.
    • Wano Country is first mentioned offhand in the Thriller Bark arc as being the birthplace of a zombie samurai named Ryuuma who plays very little role in the story. Four hundred chapters later, it’s a key piece of the mythos (one of its major clans having created the freaking poneglyphs) and central focus of the most recent story arc, and Ryuuma himself might be Zoro's ancestor.
  • Pokémon Adventures, where everything is a Chekhov's Gun and no character has only one appearance. Miraculously, the author, Hidenori Kusaka, isn't a part of Game Freak, so the cross-generation guns are entirely a product of his skill and a bit of luck.
  • Summer Time Rendering: Some of the most effective tools in the war against the shadows (as well as a few nasty surprises from Haine's side) are the slew of innocuous items and details that wind up having great importance later on, some of which can be easily missed or forgotten by viewers the first time around.
    • During the third loop, Shadow Shinpei grabs Shinpei's cell phone and erases it for no discernible reason. It isn't until much later that we learn that shadow copies of devices that run on electricity only become fully functional if the original is erased. In the eighth loop, the shadows Haine absorbed and brought with her from the third loop allow her to not only transform into Shadow Shinpei but also have a functional copy of his cell phone at her disposal, even though the original cell phone still exists in this timeline. She then proceeds to use his voice and the phone to trick the cast into splitting up so that Shide can have an easier time picking them off.
    • Sou finds a bottle of mercuric chloride while investigating the abandoned clinic, noting that it was used to treat syphilis before it was discovered to be extremely toxic. Shinpei later reveals that he secretly pocketed the bottle so he could ingest its contents as a last resort method to escape the fourth loop via suicide.
    • Mio collects several strands of the original Ushio's hair for Shadow Ushio so she can use its data to restore some of the damage done to her body. When Shide inflicts massive damage on Shadow Ushio during the final battle, she reveals that she still has several of the strands left and uses them to regenerate enough of herself to deal a decisive blow to Hiruko.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V it's better if you just assume that any given conversation, object, or even joke will become important later on, Taken to an almost meta-level after episodes 126-127 where it's revealed that, literally, all the dimensions they have visited were once one, and as such said world is basically a mash-up of all the details, structure, summon methods and technology shown on each one of them

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • In My Little Pony Micro Series Issue #3 pretty much everything behind the wellness center and what Rarity uses to save it is shown as background images (the "Goops for Stuff" stand, the waving Filthy Rich billboard) or seemingly dropped in in dialog.
  • Justified in Phil Foglio's Stanley and His Monster miniseries: When Stanley has to go to he— a bad place to rescue the Monster, Ambrose Bierce has him pick "Everything he thinks they will need", simultaneously casting a spell that creates a causality loop in which whatever Stanley picks will be exactly what's required.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm: every single little thing that is mentioned will boomerang back, even if it's most of a decade later. Passing mentions of characters? They'll be important later. Minor artefacts? Yup. Tarot card reading? Eight years on, there's still one bit of it that hasn't come true yet.
  • Lightning Only Strikes Once features numerous cases of throwaway events or items that later become significant. In one case, Lexa collects unused tranq darts that the Mountain Men fire at their targets and uses them to assassinate Charles Pike. In another, Clarke purposely infects herself with the hemorrhagic fever virus in order to infect the Mountain Men and make them think they're dying of radiation exposure.
  • A Thing of Vikings is so riddled with Chekhov's Guns that the story's writer, athingofvikings, once joked in his Tumblr page that the story has gone from "Chekhov's Armory" to "Chekhov's Military-Industrial Complex".

    Films — Animated 
  • The Final Battle in Kung Fu Panda is full of references to earlier events. Po is hard to acupuncture because of his fur/fat? He's also immune to nerve attacks. Playing a Shell Game with chopsticks? Repeated with stilts and pans to hide the MacGuffin. Po becomes more acrobatic when he's looking for food? Also works if he just imagines he's doing that. The Wuxi Finger Hold? Po figured it out just in time to completely defeat Tai Lung.
  • Leroy & Stitch: Lilo's going away presents: a tiki necklace for Stitch, which helps to identify Leroy as a Stitch impostor, because Stitch promised to never take it off; Jumba's "Aloha Oe" record, which he plays while creating and programming the Leroy experiment for Dr. Hämsterviel, turns out to be a hidden shut-down mechanism that deactivates Leroy and his clones; and Pleakley's rock paperweight, which disrupts a black hole and turns it into a warp back to Earth once Stitch chews it down to a proper weight.
  • Used expertly in Rango. Roadkill and the Spirit of the West? Used to break Rango out of his Heroic BSoD. The freaky cacti? Lead Rango to the pip the mayor is using to hold back the water and help turn it back on to defeat Jake and save the town. The hole the three moles dug in the middle of the street? Used to let a blast of water up to blast Jake sky-high. The rest of the mole's family? Used in a Gondor Calls for Aid to defeat Jake. The one bullet Jake left in Rango's gun? Used to free Rango and Bean from the mayor's Death Trap. The crowner is the fact Rango is actually smart enough to use them intentionally!
  • In Turning Red, when Mei's aunties are introduced there are shots of each woman's jewelery and those items serve as their talismans housing their red panda spirits which are released when they break them.

    Films — Live Action 
  • In The Aggression Scale, every single item that Trap Master Owen will use in constructing his traps to battle the home invaders is seen when the family is moving into the house; often only for a few seconds.
  • James Cameron's Avatar: almost every creature seen throughout the film fights in the final fight. The Toruk, the viperwolves, the thanator, etc., everything is foreshadowed, in addition to Eytukan's bow and falling from a great height.
  • The first Back to the Future is absolutely riddled with these, with almost everything significant in 1985 coming back in 1955; the last day Doc puts in the time circuits,note  Marty's band wanting to play at the dance,note  Jennifer's phone number,note  and Lorraine's love storynote  are just a few examples of very important (but seemingly minor) details.
  • The weapons the brothers end up buying in The Boondock Saints all get used right down to the "stupid f—king rope" and "rambo" knife. A literal Chekhov's Armory.
  • Clue: Even seeming throwaway gags are secretly plot-relevant.
  • The Comedy of Terrors: Before he went senile, Amaryllis' father would spend his fortune collecting rare artifacts and curios, ranging from statues to ornate weapons to suits of armor. These would all be used later in the climax as weapons.
  • Constantine (2005): Almost every object that Constantine receives from Beeman turns out to be useful later. The dragonbreath weapon is used by John against Balthazar twice, the two holy water ampoules are used to (a) return Constantine from Hell and (b) eat away Balthazar's face so John can beat him up with the gold knuckles, and the Amityville screech beetle is used to disrupt the demon that attacks Constantine on the street. Even the bottle of cough syrup is shown being drunk by Constantine later. The only thing that isn't used is the bullet shavings from the assassination attempt on the Pope.
  • Hitchcock's classic Dial M for Murder. Nearly everything either mentioned or shown to the audience in the first half of the movie becomes vital to the protagonists figuring out Tony Wendiss's plot to have his wife killed by someone he was blackmailing.
  • Die Hard: The lighter that John finds, the question "Who gives a fuck about glass?", the explosives, the Twinkies, the new Rolex awarded to Holly ... if it shows up on the screen, it gets used again. And, in some cases, again and again. To the point that even seemingly purely Seinfeldian Conversation about "making fists with your toes" later becomes really plot-relevant as it triggers the entire glass shooting scene.
  • DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story contains a Chekhov's Gun in every other line of dialogue, usually disguised as punchlines or throwaway gags.
  • Done very skillfully in 11:14, where almost every background element or trivial action—from the burning book to Duffy's bowling ball—turns out to have a role in the resolution.
  • In Escape from L.A., Snake is given a number of items, including an ordinary pack of matches. He uses everything given, including the matches, to light his cigarette in the total darkness once all of the world's electricity has been eliminated.
  • Pretty much everything in Exam comes into play later on, even a pencil!
  • Hot Fuzz has a literal example: Early in the film, Police Sergeant Nicholas Angel confiscates a huge arsenal of unregistered weapons (including rifles, machine guns and a Sea Mine) from a local farmer. All of these weapons are put to use during the film's climax, including the mine.
  • In Bruges: Everything, from the type of bullets bought by Harry, to the movie Jimmy is starring in, etc., comes into play in the finale.
  • James Bond:
    • Bond always seems to use every gadget in his arsenal precisely once... because they get blown up immediately. But it is so rare for any gadget he gets with an explanation not to be used, that he should have bribed Q to only explain to him about gadgets that "will allow you to safely take out unsuspecting enemies from a great distance" instead of those that are "short-ranged, one-shot weapons which will not be noticed by the enemy, and you can use as a last resort when captured, bound and being tortured". Rumor has it this results from the writers going back and adding a gadget whenever they write themselves into a corner.
    • Die Another Day had a gadget that was, in fact, used twice. Bond uses the ultrasonic ring to get out of a situation in an elevated greenhouse, and again to get Jinx into his car quickly.
    • Subverted by the BMW in GoldenEye—though Q goes into detail about the car's "usual refinements," none of its gadgets are ever used, and the car itself makes only a cameo appearance. Product Placement at its finest.
  • In Johnny English Reborn, anything that comes up in the first 10 minutes of the film is useful later on. e.g Taking a kick to the jewels without feeling pain, the mind-controlling the body, him having the experience that age brings as opposed to the energy of youth, etc.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, all of the Kingsman gadgets shown come in useful at various times including the bulletproof umbrella, the 50,000-volt signet ring, the cigarette lighter hand grenade, the poison pen, the shoe blade, and the amnesia dart.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Everything from the now-infamous icing problem, the arc reactor's "Something Big For 15 Minutes Guarantee," right down to the flares plays a part in Iron Man.
    • In Iron Man 3, Tony's enormous armory of suits is briefly seen (while shadowed) in one scene. In the Final Battle, he summons it to help him fight the Extremis soldiers.
    • Subverted with Odin's trophy room in the Thor movies. The vault contains all kinds of treasures and keen-eyed fans noticed significant items from the Marvel comics that seemed to hint at the future of the MCU, including the Infinity Gauntlet and the Orb of Agamotto. However, it was later tossed out the window; in Thor: Ragnarok, Hela shoves the supposed Infinity Gauntlet from its pedestal with an annoyed "Fake!", and then claims that most of the stuff in the vault is fake. In essence, they built the Armory to set up other movies then realized they had better places to put all those wonderful toys, so they had to write themselves out of that and did it with enough humor that the fans didn't call it an Ass Pull. Both the Infinity Gauntlet and the Orb of Agamotto would later appear in the possession of people who it makes more sense to have.
    • Captain America: Civil War is one giant setup for Avengers: Infinity War and contains characters and plots that would get resolved in later movies. Most notably, the film introduces both Spider-Man and Black Panther in time for their own movies that were released later the same year.
  • In Mother's Day, the weapons used are all introduced long before they are actually used.
  • My Girl has a whole bunch, including the child-sized coffin, Vada's mood ring, Thomas J's allergies, and the fact that Vada lives in a funeral home.
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop: Absolutely everything from the comedy half of the movie makes an appearance when Paul is fighting back against the robbers. Even the hot sauce.
  • Paycheck, both the original story and the John Woo film. To be fair, it's not a side effect, this trope is the basis for the whole film.
  • In Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Pee Wee's trip to the magic store serves as one of these. Everything he buys ends up getting used except for the boomerang bowtie, and that's only because the scene was deleted.
  • In Preservation, every item Wit uses as a weapon against the hunters is established as either being in the truck on the drive to the park, or she purchased when they stopped at the gas station.
  • In The Punisher (2004), Frank Castle puts together a very impressive armory including several hidden weapons for emergencies and a tricked-out car. Every single weapon gets used, even a butterfly knife he confiscates from some punk who was harassing his neighbor. Every weapon is shown beforehand either in a montage or as part of a scene.
  • Red Eye has many of these dropped into the plot within the first ten or fifteen minutes that become significant when Cillian Murphy's character begins to blackmail Rachel Mc Adams's character.
  • In Richie Rich, every single invention introduced by lead staff scientist Professor Keenbean comes back to serve the plot in some way.
  • Andy's prison cell in The Shawshank Redemption is this as it contains the items that are relevant to his escape. The film version adds a few that aren't in the book.
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009)—everything in the chemistry lab turns out to be important in some way. Details would be spoilerific. In fact, both films have a vast arsenal of guns, from the glaringly obvious to the subtle and seemingly one-shot ones. One of the most prominent examples in the second movie is Mycroft's oxygen breather that Holmes handles before the climax.
  • Almost every single wish made in Shorts (and Helvetica's science project) is used in the final "short" in the fight against Giant Mecha Mr. Black, including the Bipedal Crocodile Army, the Super-Smart Baby, the germs, the aliens, the dung beetle...
  • Many comedy directors make a Chekhov's Gag or two. Polish comedies Miś and Vabank (also its sequel) have loads of funny or weird scenes that turn out vital to the plot later on.
  • An extremely literal example in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Optimus Prime has taken to lugging around a trailer to match his trailer-truck vehicle form. The trailer transforms into a small armory of equipment he might need, such as jets, swords and shields, and more guns. Every one of these becomes important later on.
  • Untraceable does this with quite a few things. Amongst them are blinking in Morse Code, a rototiller, and a car with OnStar. All of those moments almost feel like throwaway scenes, but then they all come into play in the latter half of the movie.
  • At the beginning of Used Cars a Mexican guy who supplies them with cars says he has a ton of them just sitting around (there has to be at least 250 in a picture he shows them). Later in the movie, a driver's ed teacher, who they sold crappy cars to, is angry because now his 250 students can't learn to drive. At the end of the movie, the lot is being sued for false advertisement (due to the bad guy messing with an ad to say they have a mile of cars than paying off "experts" to say it wasn't tampered with). A mile of cars is said to be about 250 cars and if they don't have that many at the lot when the judge comes by to see they lose. Remember how the Mexican had at least 250 cars and how the teacher had 250 students?

  • A usual for the Alex Rider series, except subverted in Snakehead when the jungle survival belt gets taken away by the book's villain without it being used.
  • Brandon Sanderson:
    • Mistborn. Sweet Crystal Dragon Jesus. By the end of the third book, so many seemingly insignificant conversations, objects, and so on wind up being absurdly important. The biggest is probably Vin's earring but there are many.
    • The Epigraphs at the start of each chapter form a continuous narrative that reveals a great deal of significant information about what's going to happen at the end of each book, but a large portion of readers totally miss it.
    • Both Elantris and Warbreaker, have fully stocked armories of their own.
    • The Way Of Kings is the first book of a ten book series and has already had a number of Chekhov's Guns that were fired, and many other things that are probably loaded Chekhov's Guns that will fire in future books.
  • The Commonwealth Saga uses this trope. Anything introduced at all will have some factor later on. Anything. If not in that saga, then in The Void Trilogy (set a few thousand years after).
  • In The Divine Cities, several items from the list of impounded miraculous items stashed away in the Unmentionable Warehouse are mentioned in passing, but become vitally important to the story later. The villains are using a magical door to access the vault that contains more of said items, and they use threads from a flying carpet to create a fleet of nigh untouchable airships.
  • Douglas Adams:
    • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. A poem, a conjuring trick, and a stuck couch in the first few chapters are all linked by the end.
    • Also occurs in the weirdest way (it's Douglas Adams after all) in the sequel, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. Needless to say, Norse Gods and a somewhat popular song are involved in the apparent suicide-by-beheading of some dude. Also, Dirk's non-working fridge? That has something to do with it as well.
    • The Dirk Gently books embody this trope really because they are all about the interconnectedness of everything. Chekov's Armoury isn't just a device Adams used, it's what he based the whole book on.
  • The Dresden Files, and about half of them were all introduced at the same event, Bianca's party in Grave Peril. The author also has a NONEXISTENT Chekov's Armoury by writing as normal, then revealing there was something vitally important that SHOULD have happened, most notably in Small Favor. To elaborate, Harry, the main character, usually has a penchant for including fire-based magic in his arsenal. However, throughout much of Small Favor, this is not the case. It isn't remarked upon in the narrative until one of the other characters points it out and Harry realizes that Mab had tampered with his mind to keep him from doing so.
  • The Harry Potter series. Everything is a Chekhov's Gun. Everything. If you hear about a cabinet, a love potion, a locket, a snitch—chances it will turn up, often books later, as a plot point. The longest-spanning one being the Snitch that Harry caught in his first-ever Quidditch game. It appeared about halfway through the first book, was never even MENTIONED again until near the beginning of the last book. While it was around, its true purpose wasn't fulfilled until three chapters before the end of the entire book: It held the Resurrection Stone.
  • Holes is a masterpiece of Chekhovian gunmanship. Onions, spiced peaches, foot odor cures, yellow-spotted lizards, and more all come back in some form in the second half of the book.
  • The How to Train Your Dragon series used this. Many of the items Hiccup discovered on his early adventures proved to be very important later on.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle, to the extent that you really have to read it three times to catch all the little details that end up being important. At the point that the narrator glosses over a shipwreck as irrelevant to his story, you realize how important all those little children's rhymes are.
  • The Lord of the Rings overlaps this at times with a literal armory, along with a few other gifts given to the Fellowship along the way. Often, Tolkien drops a few hints about how they'll come in handy, but the way they're used is often unexpected. Maybe the most epic example is a set of knives that the four hobbits pick up at the beginning of the first book. Merry helps kill the Witch-King with one of those knives, which were forged specifically to harm him.
  • Terry Pratchett is good at sneaking plot-relevant details into apparent throw-away gags, where we won't notice them until it's too late. Lords and Ladies is especially full of this: almost every goofy detail of the kingdom described in the first half of the book is weaponized against the elves in the second half.
  • Matthew Reilly's books. If it gets mentioned, it will be important later on. No exceptions. This includes things like weapons, tools, notes, furniture, dead bodies, building layout, machinery, debris, idle conversation... His books aren't compared to Die Hard for nothing.
  • Justified in My Father's Dragon, which has a kid pack up a backpack full of ordinary kid stuff, like whistles and sticks of gum, and set out on a mission to rescue a dragon. You guessed it: everything he has in his backpack gets used at one point or another. He was advised to bring all that by a stray cat, the same cat who told him about the dragon in the first place. This is due to the cat having travelled to its island where it was held.
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany: Owen's height, voice, and strange complexion are all necessary attributes for him to have in order to save the Vietnamese children.
  • The Sister Verse and the Talons of Ruin introduces a ton of concepts and objects far in advance of when they're formally established, usually through Apocalyptic Logs or hallucinations, and seemingly insignificant details are typically quite important later on.
  • The numerous things the five defecting stormtroopers in Star Wars: Allegiance find in the ship they stole.
  • Lois Mc Master Bujold is amazing at this. In the Vorkosigan Saga, If Miles makes a joke about something, you can be sure that it'll have a deadly serious use later in the book. In the most epic example, in the eighteenth story Lois reaches all the way back to book 5, and a simple couch, to shame Kareen's parents, who were being very intimate on that very piece of furniture, into letting their daughter pursue a less frantic adulthood.

    Live Action TV 
  • Better Call Saul: The first episode of the last season begins with a flash-forward showing authorities seizing all the property from Saul's opulent mansion. As the camera zooms through the house, many objects appear briefly which make appearances or foreshadow important events throughout the rest of the season, such as a copy of The Time Machine, a Graduation Owl Beanie Baby, the little black book, a framed painting of rolling hills, a Zafiro Añejo tequila bottle topper, and a garbage dumpster with a Saul Goodman standee in it.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Season 5. If it shows up, even in what you think is a breather episode, it matters in the big finale against Glorificus. In particular, the supposed breather episodes introduced the Buffybot and the troll hammer, both of which were crucial in the season finale.
    • The point where Spike calls Xander a 'glorified bricklayer'. Also relevant for the big fight against Glory. Or the message the First Slayer gives Buffy back at the end of season 4.
  • Friday Night Dinner loves using this trope. If something is mentioned, be it a throwaway piece of dialog, a quick joke, or someone being talked about, then said things will appear again in the episode, no matter how mundane they may seem when you first see or hear whatever it was.
  • Jericho (2006), in a manner of speaking, has a Chekhov's Armoury: In episode two, Robert Hawkins is seen mysteriously unpacking weaponry into a location of storage. It isn't until 18 episodes later when this cache of weapons is used to fight a frickin' war. May also be Someday This Will Come in Handy.
  • Lost. The hard part is figuring out which ones are Chekhov's Guns, which are Red Herrings, and which are something else entirely.
  • MacGyver (1985). Just take a look around the room, remember what he has in his pockets, oh, and that tennis racket you were holding for your son. Yeah, now let's go disarm a nuclear warhead.
  • Averted in the "apartment scenes" at the beginning of most Mission: Impossible episodes. Every unusual item and skill needed for the plan is showcased, mostly so they'll be familiar to the viewer when they're used later.
  • Once Upon a Time has an amazing arsenal; everything from the Dark One's dagger and a crypt full of still-beating hearts to the Trademark Favorite Drink of Clan Charming gets used in a plot-relevant fashion. Then again, we are dealing with writers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lost. Most of Chekhov's Guns can be found in Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin's shop, as he he collects items that he knows could be extremely useful someday.
  • Spooks: In the episode "Love and Death", Danny and Zoe are sent to intercept a scientist, with a briefcase full of documents and a false bottom containing the kit to assassinate him if that doesn't work.
  • Absolutely everything in Stargate SG-1:
    • People, events, pictures of people, the whole thing. Jolinar knew something. There are two Stargates on Earth. They can overload their Stargate to shunt the connection to another one. Teal'c carries a big staff weapon normally on off-world missions. Apophis died on camera. The Asgard are floating about the place. The Reetu is invisible, and the Tok'ra have invisible Reetu detection guns, which they gave to the SGC. One shot from a Zatgun stuns two kills. That's not including the solid Stargate fact that every single piece of Earth mythology regardless of age or culture will definitely turn out to be alien in origin, with most gods being Goa'uld.
    • Stargate Atlantis:
      • Remember that one-off story in the early seasons about a drug that had a 50% mortality rate but made the survivors immune and poisonous to the Wraith? It was deemed unethical and never mentioned again? It forms the crux of the plot in seasons 4 and 5 after the drug is found and weaponized against the Wraith by Micheal and alters the entire balance of power in the galaxy.
      • And what about the Wraith enzyme's addictive properties? Dr. Beckett's occasionally mentioned anti-Wraith retrovirus? That Ancient personal shield that makes one invulnerable?
      • It even has some cross-series examples: the Anti-Replicator Guns and Asgard Plasma Beams both feature heavily in Atlantis after being introduced in SG-1.
    • Stargate Universe:
      • Eli documenting everything with the kinos: used to make an Apocalyptic Log in "Time".
      • Scott suffers memory bleed-through from Telford, revealing that Telford is having dinner with Young's wife, resulting in pointless drama: Rush also suffers from the memory bleed-through, revealing that Telford is working for the Lucian Alliance, resulting in Destiny getting warning of the Lucian Alliance attack at the end of Season One.
      • The crew vanishing through an unstable wormhole: went back in time, founded a civilization we encounter in "Common Descent"
      • The stasis pods Eli and Brody are fooling around with: used to save the crew when they decide to leave the galaxy ahead of schedule.
      • One of the longest-lasting Boomerangs: way back in the early seasons SG-1, it was shown that a near-death experience could free a person from brainwashing. In Universe, When Col. Telford is brainwashed by the Lucian Alliance, and they induce a near-death experience to break him out of it.
  • In part one of the Star Trek: The Next Generation season 5's finale/season 6's premiere - Time's Arrow, Data and Captain Picard are looking over all the items unearthed in the archaeological dig near San Francisco. In part 2 we learn they're all left behind by Samuel Clemens and other characters. Notable is the revolver, which Clemens threatens the crew with, the pocket watch, which Clemens makes a specific point of leaving behind in the end, and Data's head.
  • The Walking Dead has several instances of this, notably seen in the first few seasons:
    • The "Sheriff's Bag Of Guns" that Rick fills up in the pilot episode is a long-term example of this, being utilized across the first two seasons. Consisting of an assortment of rifles and handguns assembled by Rick in King County during the pilot episode, he is forced to drop the bag in Atlanta when he falls off his horse and leads a mission two episodes later to recover it (along with rescuing Merle Dixon). When Rick gets back to Atlanta, he gets into a conflict with the "Vatos", a group of apparent gangbangers who steal the bag of guns and claim it as theirs. Rick eventually negotiates the return of the bag and half the guns and uses them to great effect at the climax of the episode, when he and the rescue group use the weapons to save the rest of the Atlanta camp during the fish fry attack. From there, the bag of guns is carried with the survivors during their departure from Atlanta and trek to Hershel's farm, where it remains until the second-season finale; as everyone flees the overrun farm, Andrea recovers the bag during her escape and uses all of the weapons within to defend herself as she flees through the forest, being rescued by Michonne just as she runs out of weapons and ammo. It then functions as a carryall for Andrea and Michonne up until early in the third season, where it is finally left in Woodbury permanently.
    • The set of knives and tools Carl finds in an abandoned car in the second-season premiere, "What Lies Ahead". The set he finds (labeled the "Gerber Apocalypse Kit") is distributed amongst the survivors and used throughout the following seasons. Glenn, Maggie, and Carl each carry one of the weapons as their personal melee weapon through much of seasons two and three, while the DMF Folding Tanto knife is used by Rick as his personal melee weapon through nearly the entire series, at least all the way through season eight.
    • The guns recovered by Rick, Carl, and Michonne during their scavenging mission in King County in "Clear" are later utilized to great effect in season four, most notably when a horde of walkers breaches the prison gates during the virus outbreak in season four (forcing Rick and Carl to grab them from their place in a prison cart near the entrance to defend the site), and soon after when The Governor attacks the prison for the final time.
    • The "hitchhiker's backpack" (a large, orange camping backpack) achieves a level of longevity unmatched by virtually every other miscellaneous item in the show, even coming to act as a long-term defacto supply cache within the show. The backpack is first seen being carried by an unnamed hitchhiker Rick, Carl and Michonne pass by in the opening of "Clear", and they stop to retrieve his belongings after discovering he was eaten by walkers at the end of the episode. Eventually, the bag is loaded up with supplies and used by Glenn during his escape from the prison midway through season four, and is carried by him at various points. In Season 5, it becomes one of the few possessions Rick recovers on his way out of Terminus, and the group carries it along with them during the mission to rescue Beth and Carol from Grady Memorial Hospital, and later take it to Alexandria, where it is used during at least one scouting mission in Season 6. Long after it was seemingly forgotten about, the backpack showed up again when Rick and Michonne load it with supplies and flee the town after it's overrun by walkers, and it even makes an appearance in Season 8's premiere, "Mercy", when Michonne puts some food into it and leaves it for a traveller (Virgil).

  • One part of the "Dead Teenager" game used for the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town is to create "elements" in the earlier acts that can come into play later in the game, though there are just as many that don't go anywhere.
    • Spencer pours some actual acid in the prop beakers to make it look cool. Stacey uses it to fight back the image of a reanimated Ethan.
    • The torture room gets equipped with a chainsaw, ladder, rusty tools, and a hidden Claymore. The monster activates the chainsaw to bisect Ethan opening night. Later on the meathook swings into the back of Katie's head.
    • The spooky forest room has roots that are easy to trip over, fog, and motion-sensing fake spiders. Oliver and Veronica set up a real ax in a stump there as well. Die trips over the roots, gets lost in the fog, and is smashed in the face with an ax-wielding psycho.
    • Olivia pours a bottle of fake blood all over the floor of the space hell room. She also paints an occult symbol there that ends up devouring her.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: In a large way. Just about anything that people make passing reference to is intended to be used as one by some person or another, although not all of them end up doing such, it happens often enough.

    Video Games 
  • Old-school Adventure Games run on this trope, giving the player a plethora of often-seemingly useless items, at least most of which they'll eventually have a use for later on.
  • The LACK of this trope in adventure games can lead to an Empty Room Psych when the players go crazy trying to figure out what the useless inventory item is meant for.
  • Final Fantasy VIII has the Information menu, which features lots of interesting little background tidbits about the setting. A lot of it turns out to be very useful information later on. There's also a lot of early references to the orphanage in Centra, including comments about Guardian Forces causing unforeseen mental effects including memory loss, Seifer and Zell's irrational hatred of one another, Quistis's attraction to Squall, Irvine's odd behavior around Edea, and Selphie, and Squall's confused familiarity towards Ellone.
  • In Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, every single item you picked up had a use. Not only that, but if you tried combining an item with another item it didn't belong with or using it on yourself, you'd always receive a humorous response (in addition to several Non-Standard Game Over instances).
  • In The Journeyman Project, the Wire Cutters found on Mars are used to open the fire sprinkler box in Australia and short-circuit Mercury; the Retinal biochip obtained from said robot is used to pass a retinal scanner in NORAD VI, where you also need the Oxygen Mask from Mars; the Access Card Bomb, also from Mars, is used to breach the Caldoria Heights rooftop door; and Mercury's stun gun is used to neutralize the Big Bad. The one Red Herring is the Gas Canister in NORAD, which causes a Game Over if taken.
  • This guy named Adam Miller who's the author of several pretty good Neverwinter Nights mods does that from time to time. (For example, an amulet that lets you speak to the dead, which you can buy from a fortuneteller towards the beginning of Dreamcatcher, is necessary for solving a side quest in Dreamcatcher 3. Also notable is a three-part rod which you need to hunt for the pieces of in the first three Dreamcatcher mods.)
  • Odin Sphere is loaded with Chekhov's Gun after Chekhov's Gun.
  • Planescape: Torment may be the archetypal video game example. If you are prompted to pick up an item, either in dialogue or in the narration, keep that item. It will almost certainly become necessary to complete any quests days down the line.
    • The most notable gun in the armory is the Bronze Sphere you obtain for Pharod in the first story quest of the game. You are not prompted to get it back later, but if you do, it will only eat up one inventory space until the very last scene before the final boss. At that point, it becomes priceless, since it's a sensory stone containing memories of your first incarnation, granting you a boatload of experience and the ability to invoke the Mark of Torment.
    • Another big one is the Blade of the Immortal, a relatively weak weapon that is forged from a drop of the Nameless One's own blood by Coaxmetal. It's entirely possible to miss getting it, and it's not necessary to complete the game, but if you do get it, you can defeat the Transcendent One by threatening suicide since it's the only weapon in existence capable of permanently killing the Nameless One.
    • The Nameless One's previous incarnations have a habit of leaving behind tidbits that help him along on his quest, whether deliberately or not. In particular, without the efforts of the Practical Incarnation and the Paranoid Incarnation, it's unlikely that the Nameless One would be able to achieve his goal at all.
  • In the Telltale Games Sam & Max: Freelance Police, items from previous episodes will often still be in your inventory. The only time something doesn't carry over is if it would completely change the way to solve a puzzle.
  • Sierra loved this one:
  • Sword of the Stars: There are tonnes of hints about the true nature of the Suul'ka littered in the lore. It looks so obvious in hindsight.
  • Ultima IX subverts this with Britain's Avatar Museum. It holds every puzzle-solving Plot Coupon in the history of the series, not one of which becomes relevant to this game.
  • While not revealed at the start, it's worth noting that to complete Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (at least, the way it's meant to be played) you must get every item and every spell in the game, which means you must get every MP upgrade as well. Some of these appear to be unnecessary until you've spent a lot of effort only to find it's impossible to progress. The game itself is so minimalist that there exist no more Link Dolls than you can hold at once.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Court Record in any Ace Attorney game is always a Chekhov's Armoury. Nearly every item will come in handy at some point in the case, and it's generally the most innocent ones (like the parrot) who rescue you from the guilty verdict. In general, the only piece of evidence that will be (almost) always irrelevant is the defense badge.
  • Sharin no Kuni has one of these. Most of its items relate to the fact that Ririko is actually there, in the scene, and she's almost always following Kenichi. It's just that no one even acknowledges her existence due to the Maximum Penalty she bears.

  • 8-Bit Theater:
    • The comic has pulled the mother of all of these, a series of over 1000 comics now taking a seemingly insignificant event from one of the earliest comics and turning it into a plot device involving billions of years, the most powerful wizard in existence, and bringing back most of the major antagonists of the past 1000 comics BACK into the story for what will almost certainly be one of the comic's grand, absurdly awesome anticlimaxes.
    • When the characters all get their class changes, Thief says that he stole his ninja upgrade from the future. Later, when Chaos downgrades the party back to level 1, Thief is the only one left in his class change suit. For about 5 seconds. Because guess where he stole it from...
    • In comic 1221 it pulled quite possibly the biggest one in history at 1,214 issues long when it turns out that despite Black mage saying that it would never work the world was saved by four 'white' mages. Brian Clevinger we salute you.
  • Last Res0rt—If it's an item, pet, or person that has anything to do with one of the main characters, it's probably a Chekhov's Gun. Jigsaw's violin, Jason's jacket, Jason's dog, Adharia's bottle necklace, Daisy's leg, Daisy's autie lenses, Cypress's hair wrap...
  • MS Paint Adventures—both Problem Sleuth and Homestuck. Nearly every single item introduced becomes relevant to the plot or at least pops up again later. Hussie admits that a lot of his foreshadowing is done by going back and looking for stuff to make references to. He has also admitted to having at least one plot detail in store for a year.

    Web Original 
  • Practically literal with the showdown between Linkara and his alternates and Mechakara. Almost every weapon barring Pokeball-captured Pyramid Head, which Linkara felt would just be too much in an already complicated battle from previous reviews is brought out, along with Black Lantern Spoony and the rarely-seen Pollo.
  • Whateley Universe:
    • The 'verse is made of this trope. For example, nearly every single thing Phase has ever bought or acquired for her utility belt has gotten used somewhere, even if it's in another author's story. The story about Cavalier and Skybolt turning to the Dark Side and becoming The Don's servants was written back in 2004. The significance of that and what it really meant to the plots have only come out in the more recent stories, starting with "Christmas Elves". The backstory of Tennyo was introduced in the earliest stories; how it could be used as a weapon against her didn't come out for about five years.
    • The Whateley Weapons Fair. Most of what we saw has turned out to be important, either in that story or later on. Jobe's whiny arrogance (and frightening competence), Delta Spike's well-earned nickname, Wunderkind and Spark's personal forcefield generators, the equipment nobody wanted to buy from Mega-Death, Kew's inventions for the Intelligence Cadet Corps, even the super-strong condoms Greasy made for superstrong students.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia tends to have even the most innocuous aspects of past episodes return later on to have some level of narrative importance. This is most noticeable in the second half of the final season, where characters and plot points from supposedly standalone episodes return to play major roles as the series reaches its conclusion.
  • This is a staple of many cartoons aimed at very young children. Dora the Explorer, which started the trend, actually averts the trope slightly by sometimes carrying a few items she doesn't need.
  • Leroy & Stitch had Lilo's departing gifts to Stitch, Pleakley and Jumba. Stitch's gift was a tiki necklace which allowed Lilo to identify Leroy as an imposter because he wasn't wearing it. Next was a rock given to Pleakley that was used to disrupt the event horizon of a black hole that he, Stitch, and Jumba were hurtling into and allow them to escape. Finally, there was the Aloha 'Oe record given to Jumba which he used to create a secret mechanism in Leroy that made him shut down if he (or his clones) heard it. This ends up leading to both a Crowning Moment and a Awesome Music the end where Stitch, Lilo, 625 Reuben, and a bunch of Stitch's cousins put on a concert to defeat the Leroy clone army at the end.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • There's one for every other episode, and one that was built up over an entire season to boot. The letters Twilight writes to Celestia throughout the first season are used to snap her out of a 10-Minute Retirement and inspire her to fight for her friends and snap them out of Discord's brainwashing.
    • Season 4 gives us: A top-secret box of mystery, a Pony of Shadows, a magic comic book, and a hint that Fluttershy may still be a vampire. The trinkets obtained by each of the Mane Six over the course of the season are revealed during the finale to be the keys to the mystery box, the comic book is traded by Spike in "Trade Ya!", and it is implied that the Pony of Shadows was Tirek in his weakened state. Whether "Flutterbat" will return remains to be seen.
  • Shimmer and Shine: In "A Tree-mendous Rescue", by the time the plot starts, Leah has already used up her three daily wishes. The items she wished for turn out to be helpful when Zac and Kaz have to find the girls.
  • The Steven Universe episode "Lion 3: Straight to Video" introduces the pink pocket dimension inside Lion’s mane. While there, Steven finds a pile of items that his mother Rose had hidden away. Some of these would later turn out to be important and got episodes to themselves, like the bubbled gem (which contains a Sixth Ranger) and the sword (turns out to be Rose’s signature weapon). Others would later appear in flashbacks that explained their significance, like the flag and the "Mr. Universe" T-shirt. Only the locked chest remains unexplained, and as of Steven Universe: Future, was unlocked off-screen.
  • Every episode of Totally Spies! has a scene where Jerry gifts the girls with various Shoe Phone-style gadgets for their upcoming mission. All of these gadgets proceed to get used at least once each throughout the episode.
  • Averted in The Venture Brothers. One episode has Brock Sampson going through the standard OSI mission tool kit and throwing away everything in it because they are either "gay, stupid, or never use them." Much like in the Dresden Files example above, large group scenes tend to introduce characters and plot points that become very significant later on, so it may at first seem like the writers are using this trope. They aren't. They've admitted when they're stuck they just go back and look at old episodes to find something to write about.

Alternative Title(s): Chekhovs Armory