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Confusion Fu

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"That's the problem. He's a brilliant lunatic, and you can't tell which way he'll jump. Like his game, he's impossible to analyze — you can't predict him, dissect him... which of course means he's not a lunatic at all."
Anatoly Sergievsky, Chess

Some fighters have speed, some have strength. Proponents of Confusion Fu have unpredictability.

Their attacks and motions are random (or seem to be), making them difficult to read and predict. Perhaps their priorities and motivations are so different from your own that attempting to guess their next move doesn't work, or perhaps their bodies are structured in such an unfamiliar way that you do not recognize the movements that foretell a particular action.

They are the natural nemesis of those blessed with Awesomeness by Analysis. Stylish Confusion Fu fighters sometimes double as Dance Battlers. This style is often used by Bunny Ears Lawyers characters who have Success Through Insanity. And on larger scale, if moral standards of the fighting factions are mutually incomprehensible, everything can suddenly become a confusion fu styled stratagem.

In gaming, most of these characters tend to be Jack of All Stats characters, as their versatility makes them very unpredictable. Or it is Random Number God who makes the game unpredictable for both sides.

Sister trope to Spanner in the Works, in a general sense. The reason why something Crazy Enough to Work might actually work. Refuge in Audacity is a favorite tactic. See also Drunken Master and Drunken Boxing, and for a more complicated version, the Kansas City Shuffle which relies on giving the victim false assurance that they can predict your moves. Compare Improv Fu. Contrast Strategy, Schmategy, where the randomness is unintentional. Not to be confused with What the Fu Are You Doing?, where the fighting style doesn't work because the fighter is incompetent at it.


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  • Mechamato: The entertainer robot Amazeey specialises in making elaborate and dangerous labyrinths to trap and confuse his victims.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ace of the Diamond has this in the form of the main character, Sawamura Eijun. Because he has a flexible body, his pitching form hides his left arm (he is a southpaw) until just before he releases the ball, making the ball seem to start out later and giving the batter less reaction time. Because he didn't have anyone to teach him the nuances of pitching when he was younger, he never learned how grips can change a pitch trajectory, and combined with his naturally flexible body, he grows up throwing a fastball that breaks at random. He supplements this natural pitch with proper inside and outside pitches that even utilize the depth of the strike zone, as well as the changeup, none of which visibly change his pitching form. Later, he learns how to bat from the bunting stance, meaning he's even confusing at bat.
  • AIKI: One of the bizarre training regimens involved doing a crazy dance so that your strikes couldn't be seen.
  • The main character in Angel Densetsu, Kitano Seiichiro is feared by other delinquents, not because of his terrifying appearance (though that does play a role) so much as his utterly incomprehensible behaviour. The truth of the matter is that Kitano is a genuinely good person who only wants to help others, with an unfortunate tendency to run towards people shrieking incoherently when upset.
  • This is the main danger of the Aberrant Titans in Attack on Titan. Most Titans move relatively slowly for their size, grab the closest humans, and attempt to kill them, usually by eating them. Aberrants crawl, jump, run, and have no reasonable pattern to predict who they attack or where they go.
  • Bleach: Happens during the fight between Starrk and Kyouraku. After it becomes clear there are a lot of similarities between these two reluctant fighters, Starrk is convinced he's fighting a kindred spirit. Then it's revealed that was a red herring and the only thing they truly have in common is that they're both Brilliant, but Lazy. Lampshaded by Kyouraku himself:
    Starrk: I thought I told you not to do uncharacteristic things, Captain-san!
    Kyouraku: It's not good to keep forcing this characteristic thing, Espada-san. And, if you're going to talk about characteristic, not having a characteristic behaviour is characteristic of me.
  • This of course is Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo's forte (other than his mastery of Hanage Shinken, that is). It's an official fighting style (and its "practitioners" — for a lack of a better term — are known as Hajikelists) that consists of confusing your enemy until they give up — or at least until they're so confused they can't defend against your one actual offensive finishing move. Basically everyone's style revolves around this concept, one way or another, although their offensive finishing moves tend to fit the styles' actual description. Fighters who have this as their core fighting style are known as Hajike/Wiggin' Specialists. Their only known natural enemy are the Idiot/Joke Killers.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • Oriana Thompson is dangerous for, among other things, never using the same magic spell twice due to the nature of her 'Shorthand' flash cards. This makes her very difficult to predict. This ultimately works against her when Touma notices that the way she designed her attacks to be unpredictable means that her attacks never come from the same direction twice in a row — and it's not a conscious choice on her part, but something literally built in. This allows him to dodge her attacks perfectly by running through the space her previous attack covered (though this is only actually explained in the light novels).
    • Acqua of the Back often uses his water powers to slide around chaotically and make it hard for his opponents to keep track of him.
    • Rensa's facial expression doesn't change, she barely has any body language, and her involuntary muscle movements like blinking and breathing are completely regular. This makes it very difficult to predict her in battle. Ultimately, she can't keep it up forever, especially if she gets upset.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Spike Spiegel's interpretation of Jeet Kune Do is essentially this. Spike will do anything to distract his opponent — flipping coins, twirling pens, fencing with brooms, kneeling down and looking at nothing to make his opponent try to see what it is, pretending to be asleep or listening to music, even popping open party favors to get a slight edge in a fight. His footwork is fluid and almost prescient, and sometimes even his simple everyday movements like picking up objects seem impossible or like magic. His arms and legs can't be tracked by the eyes, or as he puts it,
    Spike: You're not a Chameleon, you know. Can't see everywhere at once.
  • The Mist Breathing techniques in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba are all about Muichiro using deception to confuse his opponents and using very tricky sword techniques. In the Databook information, it reveals that Muichiro wears clothes of longer length to conceal his body proportions, thus giving him an advantage with his sword techniques.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • In the first Tournament arc of Dragon Ball, Goku and his sensei Master Roshi (in disguise) end up face-to-face in the finals. Both eventually resort to the trope. Since Goku's shown himself to be a very fast learner (copying Roshi's trademark Kamehameha just by watching him do it once), Roshi decides to catch Goku off-guard with a Drunken Master technique (something Goku can't imitate because he's never been drunk). But Goku counters with a technique specially suited to him: the Crazy Monkey style (basically, fighting more like a monkey). Now Roshi can't figure Goku out since he's not familiar with living with beasts in the wilderness. Not only that, but in the preliminaries Goku completely stumps an old-fashioned kung-fu master because of his wide open stance and lack of traditional technique. Fortunately, what Goku lacks in formal skill he makes up for with raw talent.
    • Majin Buu, especially in his basic (or Kid Buu) form. The dialogue implies that this isn't the strongest form of Buu, but ends up being the most dangerous by far because there is no reason to his behavior. Of course, the fact that he's violently insane also helps.
    • Before anyone knows who he is, Cell pulls a couple of these on Piccolo, Trunks and the others. Since he has the cells of all of the strongest fighters, he knows almost all of their attacks, many of which are unique to them. He abuses this to get the upper hand on Piccolo whilst in his Imperfect Form. Piccolo at this point is considerably stronger than Cell, but Cell then performs a Kamehameha, which shocks Piccolo enough to allow Cell to grab him. When Trunks and Krillin show up, he then uses Solar Flare to escape.
  • In Eyeshield 21. First, there's the Dragonfly formation, which uses two quarterbacks that have to be in synch with one another to allow split-second, unpredictable plays.
  • Natsu from Fairy Tail tries the same trick against a similar opponent — only Natsu can apparently fight quite efficiently when his thought processes shut off. Even better, it doesn't seem like he was actively trying to not think — his thoughts stop rather easily. He's also miscalled attacks, misleads his opponents by seeming less skilled/strong than he actually is, and he isn't above dance battling if charging straight at his enemy doesn't work.
  • Fist of the North Star has the semi-heroic Juza of the Clouds use a highly unpredictable formless martial art of his own invention. This lets him land some good hits on Raoh who's Hokuto Shinken Awesome by Analysis ability only allowed him to mitigate the damage of what would be a One-Hit Kill to lesser men, rather than dodge completely. There are also a number of evil bandits and Mooks who attempt confusing martial art techniques on Ken. Emphasis on attempt...
  • In Food Wars!, Soma adopts this strategy in his Cooking Duel with Subaru Mimasaka, after seeing how Subaru utterly dominated Takumi with his Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better Power Copying. He knows Subaru will copy Soma's dish and do it better, so he improvises with secret ingredients partway through, when it's too late for Subaru to change anything.
  • Gate Keepers: The Super Prototype beats the Awesomeness by Analysis enemy general because its lack of a Power Limiter makes it impossible to completely control. The general can't predict its random motions and thus can't hit it or defend against its attacks. The downside to not being able to control the prototype exactly is the risk that the attack you want to make isn't always the attack you get.
  • Girls und Panzer:
    • This is the Ooarai tankery team's core strategy, most notably demonstrated in their battle against Kuromorimine. Made necessary by the fact that almost all of their opponents are far better equipped and possess a numerical advantage as well.
    • Like Ooarai, Jatkosota High School's sensha-do team doesn't follow a set strategy in combat, and pretty much makes up things as the battle progresses. Notably, they have few numbers and resources even compared to Ooarai, as evidenced by the fact that we only ever see one crewed tank when they fight (their BT-42) and that they keep themselves supplied by plundering their opponents' stockpiles. In Phase Erika, Maho states that despite Jatkosota's lack of unit uniformity and numbers, they shouldn't be underestimated because their commanders have been known to be unorthodox strategists.
  • In Haikyuu!! some volleyball players fit this trope:
    • Hinata with his freak quick attack with Kageyama leaves people who see it at first at awe as no one expects such a fast set and for 5'3 Hinata to jump that high. As Hinata develops his skills, he also starts doing feints and wipes, further being more unpredictable.
    • Kageyama is the other part of the quick attack, making crazy and super fast sets for Hinata. He also uses Hinata as a decoy, setting for other spikers and confusing their opponents even more. He is also skilled in other aspects of the sport, spiking or doing setter dumps when no one expects. His high skills make him highly unpredictable in the game.
    • Karasuno's rival school Johzenji is known for being the "party team". It is noted that this makes them unorthodox and unpredictable. The team sets up attacks from the back line, save shots with their legs, randomly change positions, and try to copy their opponents.
  • Hajime no Ippo:
    • Takamura ends up fighting one of these for the World Championship belt — a crazy american who goes up against Takamura's orthodox boxing-style with a wild, crazy, uncontrolled street-fighting style, including weird sways and punching upwards from a bent-backwards position. Amusingly enough, this resulted in them turning into a Red Oni, Blue Oni matched pair, even though Takamura is usually as crazy as they come...
    • In the manga match-up of Itagaki vs Saeki, Itagaki has a rough start of it largely because he's an instinctive fighter but the quality of his opponent is making him overthink his moves. Once his trainer gets him past that, however, Itagaki is able to grab the advantage, becoming able to repeatedly hit Saeki because there's no trackable rhythm to his movements. In fact, the only thing going through Itagaki's mind is a one-player game of Shiratori.
  • Holyland: Masaki diagnoses Yuu's fighting style as this in Chapter 89 — while Yuu genuinely has raw power, the reason why he can beat better conventionally trained foes is due to mixing styles into an unpredictable blend.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Battle Tendency:
    • Steel Ball Run: Blackmore's Catch the Rainbow is a full-on Swiss-Army Superpower that can do just about anything so long as it's raining (from simply using raindrops as platforms to moving through them and outright patching lethal wounds with rainwater), leaving it very hard to predict what trick he has up his sleeve next. The heroes are left struggling the whole time until the weather finally clears.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen:
    • Aoi Todo has the Cursed Technique "Boogie Woogie", which allows him to switch people and objects with a clap of his hands. On top of being an inherently disorienting ability for his opponent to handle, the technique doesn't have to activate every time he claps his hands and (if he chooses to activate it) gives no clear indicator of what he's about to swap, properties which Todo is eager to take advantage of.
    • Kirara Hoshi's technique, "Love Rendezvous", is so confusing and hard to explain that nothing less than a few paragraphs and a knowledge of constelations can make you understand what even is happening. Their main ace ends up being that it turns them into a Puzzle Boss that most people can't figure out how to approach let alone beat.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple:
    • The title character attempts this against Siegfried, because Siegfried can seemingly predict every single move Kenichi makes. In a rare subversion, it doesn't work, and Siegfried sees through it and ends up still countering Kenichi's moves.
    • He does pull a successful one on Odin, though. Once Odin has adapted to his movements, Kenichi decides to copy his masters' fighting styles (and mannerisms), switching from one to another in the blink of an eye to throw him off.
    • Berserker is the straighter use of this trope. He's Unskilled, but Strong to such a degree that he was Ragnarok's number two fighter and The Dragon to Odin. His utter lack of formal training made him difficult to predict for any character who faced him. When he did receive formal training, it focused on actually refining this trait.
  • This is Ryuko's initial strategy against Houka Inumuta in Kill la Kill. Houka is an information gatherer with Awesomeness by Analysis skills. Ryuko predicts he's the type to say things like "I can predict your every attack." Her response is to get as reckless as possible, attacking beyond what he anticipates. When that seems to fail, her response is get even more reckless.
  • Employed by several characters in Kuroko's Basketball:
    • The eponymous character and his Rakuzan High counterpart, Chihiro Mayuzumi, use misdirection and their own natural lack of presence to effectively "vanish" from the court, letting them quickly alter pass courses and steal the ball by coming out of nowhere.
    • Daiki Aomine employs unconventional tricky movements derived from streetball, and is also able to make shots from unusual positions without entering a proper shooting form.
  • An unintentional example occurs in Medabots; Ikki, Koji, and Space Medafighter X are supposed to represent Japan in an international Robattle tournament, but since Space Medafighter X consistently fails to attend any of the matches, Ikki and Koji are forced to disguise their friends as X and substitute them for him. Since each of their friends has a different medabot and a different fighting style, their opponents perceive Space Medafighter X as bringing a different bot to each round of the tournament, and his tactics as being impossible to predict.
  • "Spider" Iglesias from Megalo Box bases his boxing style on reach and flexibility, combined with intentionally theatric moves that leaves his opponents guessing. This style has taken him to the second spot in the Megalo Boxing rankings, directly behind Boring, but Practical Lightning Bruiser Yuri. His actual match with Yuri ends up being a Curb-Stomp Battle in Yuri's favour.
  • Naruto:
    • Rock Lee, but only when he's drunk off his ass — which is easily accomplished.
    • Naruto himself is often referred to as the "number one ninja at surprising people". This is the main reason he was able to beat Neji and Kakuzu: both times he caught them off-guard by using a Shadow Clones charge in which the real one was hiding where it made the least amount of sense for him to be.
    • A smaller example is Hidan's scythe, which he swings around on a cord making it fly around in a manner that's incredibly hard to predict and thus block (and if you even get a scratch you're pretty screwed). That's probably why the first thing Shikamaru did in the rematch was destroy the cord with an explosive.
    • B's swords style (where he wields seven swords in everything but his hands while spinning around) is too damn weird for even the Sharingan to predict.
  • Angels, the main antagonists of Neon Genesis Evangelion, fit the trope to some degree: though they're all considered the same species, and each one for its own part seems to conform to a single pool of skills and abilities, there is little to no continuity amongst them, as each is radically different from the others.
  • One Piece:
    • Monkey D. Luffy. The methods he used to defeat self-proclaimed god Eneru were not just due to having the properties of rubber, but catching him off-guard even when another of Eneru's godlike abilities is predicting your attacks by reading your thoughts. He did this by ricocheting his attacks off a wall. Luffy himself didn't know which way they'd ricochet, and therefore had no control over his own attack, which means that Eneru couldn't read his mind to evade them. His first attempt to defeat the mind-reading was to think about nothing, but since this consisted of him turning off his mind dodging only on instinct, he could only move out of the way of the attack and not counter in any way. Due to his rubber body and childish demeanor, Luffy often uses unpredictable and just plain weird tactics — like using one of the mooks as a human puppet, or attempting to eat his opponent, who is invulnerable to regular attacks. Several times he gains an advantage in battle simply because the enemy doesn't take his new technique seriously until the first hit.
    • Usopp, not being one of the (as he calls them) super-powered freaks of the crew, utilizes a mixture of various gadgets and just plain trickery, including calling out the wrong attack name, playing dead and randomly flicking rubber bands at his opponents.
    • Satori uses balls, stuffed with various items, from harmless flowers to bombs or living predators as a weapon. His attacks are heavily based on the fact that the enemy has no idea which balls are rigged and with what.
    • His brothers, twins Hotori and Kotori, have hidden weapons with different effects. They also wears the same clothing and rapidly switch places between each other, so the enemy won't know which one has which weapons.
    • Sanji usually acts as a Lightning Bruiser, but in the fight with Jabra he uses an assortment of tricks, like pretending to run away, only to attack the opponent once he starts chasing him or calling out his attack and then use different one.
  • One-Punch Man: This is why Watchdog Man is the first hero who defeats Garou in single combat. Garou is trained in martial arts, which are designed specifically for fighting humans. Watchdog Man moves and attacks like a dog. Garou's skills are completely useless against him as a result.
  • Ping Pong: Peco's preferred style. He doesn't conform to any established mode of play, darts all over the table, and switches up his rubber so often that it's impossible to predict his shots. Wenge notes that it's perfect for his exuberance for table tennis.
  • Pokémon: The Series: One episode revolved around a boy trying to train his Zangoose to battle Seviper. Ash grabbed the Smart Ball for once and pointed out to him that a Seviper's mouth and tail are equally dangerous, and trying to dodge one will just get you hit by the other. Eventually, the boy gets an epiphany and tells his Zangoose to run in zigzags, confusing Seviper and preventing it from hitting Zangoose with either of its weapons.
  • Vigo from Psyren gets frustrated when Shao reads his mind. First tactic- think so much that it's much harder to read him. Second tactic — stop thinking. It works frighteningly well.
  • Kyouko Sakura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica had this as her specialty, stemming from her wish to 'sway people's hearts'. Her main ability was Rosso Fantasma, which allowed her to make use of Self-Duplication to attack and confuse enemies.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, when Hiko Seijuro retrains Kenshin, he uses confusion fu to prove a point about Kenshin being over-reliant on Awesomeness by Analysis. He raises his sword, then kicks Kenshin. He telegraphs a move, then does a different move, etc.
  • Samurai Champloo's Mugen uses a style based on apparently random sword strikes and spinning kicks which make him unable to be beaten by (or to beat) the classically trained Jin. He eventually gets taken apart by Awesomeness by Analysis master Kariya Kagetoki, who works out the patterns underlying Mugen's instinctive attacks while commenting that, because he attacks on nothing but instinct, he involuntarily reveals all his limitations to his enemy.
  • Sexy Commando style in Sexy Commando Gaiden: Sugoi yo!! Masaru-san is all about this. A typical move in the style goes like so: 1. do something utterly weird; 2. when the opponent stands there boggling at the weirdness, punch his lights out.
  • SPY×FAMILY: This is one of Twilight's many strategic tactics in confronting his enemies, being a master in stealth and misdirection. He either can use common objects like a can of food to disorient foes or use his disguises to confuse or mislead them.
  • Star Driver: This is pretty much the reason for Takuto's spotless winning streak: he makes a point of never showing a skill or ability unless it's absolutely necessary in surviving the fight so that the Glittering Crux have no idea what their opponent is capable of (and thus have no way to counter it) even a dozen battles into the series. Heck, Takuto still had some items in his bag of tricks for the very final battle.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Beatrice's fickleness is part of what makes her so hard to fight. Battler's method usually relies on "turning the chessboard around", i.e. think from his opponent's perspective. But that only works when the opponent's goal is clear and when we assume they try to do the best move. Bernkastel explains early on that Beatrice often makes unnecessary moves that don't seem to make sense and are only meant to confuse the opponent.
  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! Franchise:
    • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
      • Jounouchi/Joey from Yu-Gi-Oh! builds his deck around this trope, many of his cards (Time Wizard, Roulette Spider, Graceful Dice, Skull Dice, etc.) revolve around sheer luck of the draw and can either give him an incredible advantage or get him into a worse mess than before.
      • The Mind Shuffle Technique or topdecking blindly to counter Pegasus' Millennium Eye. Much like the One Piece example above, mindreading is useless if your opponent doesn't know what the face down card is either.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's:
      • While most duels in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise end with a character pulling out some "never seen before" card that allows him/her to make a comeback one turn short from suffering a humiliating defeat, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's is an extreme case where, on some occasions, the character in question obtains the card during the match. Shooting Quasar Dragon, we're looking at you as Yusei mystically creates your card.
      • Jack pulled a similar feat, creating Red-Nova Dragon mid-Duel by forcibly seizing control of and sealing a super-powerful ancient demon through the sheer power of his own Hot-Blooded Awesomeness.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • When Yusuke in finds out that Sensui is reading his attacks, he tries to confuse him by stopping in the middle of the fight to take a swim in a nearby lake, and then used the distraction to wrap his t-shirt around Sensui's arm so he couldn't dodge his attacks.
    • Earlier, when he was scouting for psychics, he found a boxer wannabe who could read thoughts. So Yusuke boasted he'll throw a punch just short of him and kept thinking of that. Little did the other guy realize Yusuke had enough power that he didn't need to actually hit the guy to knock him out. Yusuke threw the punch exactly as he claimed; it was the shockwave of spirit energy that followed that finished the attack.

    Board Games 
  • Often seen in the chess world. Many's the amateur who succeeds through offbeat play, and even at the grandmaster level, some players favour bizarre openings like 1. b4. A 19th-century example, William Potter, is described in Lasker's Manual of Chess:
    Potter probably saw through the emptiness and the presumption of the style then dominating and with his style of play he seemed to call out to his contemporaries: "You want to beat me right from the start by force of your greater genius? Look! I make ridiculous moves, and yet you cannot beat me. Become, I pray you, more modest and more reasonable."
  • Though not nearly as often as popular culture would think it happens. While you can certainly irritate grandmasters with offbeat variants in the opening, leading them astray from their vast knowledge (and often crazy preparedness) about mainstream openings, trying confusion fu later in the game will way more often than not lose you the game in a single move without you even realizing it. The problem is that the general knowledge (as opposed to the specific knowledge of Lasker's time) got way more advanced during the last century.
  • Chess-playing computers play like this — not bound to any strategy or school, but simply by picking the moves that will, in the long run, have the greatest chance of success. Or should have... Kasparov did win his 3rd and 4th games in a 4-game match against a computer by ensuring that there was no positive history for the computer to rely on in the games they'd played — and going into purer Shrodinger Fu than the computer was designed for netted him a win while playing black. Future iterations do not have this vulnerability; it is currently pretty much impossible for an unassisted human to beat a dedicated chess computer, and phone apps have won Grand Master tournaments by a landslide.
  • Google's Go-playing program had a similar effect. It completely ignores normal board control strategies and the current point balance while it made the moves it calculated were most likely to lead to final victory, and as a result nobody had any idea what the hell it was doing until it won. Several moves that were, in retrospect, core to its victory were thought to be mistakes at the time because they gave up points.

    Card Games 
  • In Poker, the most dangerous players at the table are the ones who always call and raise at random. It's impossible to tell whether they have a good hand, so calling their raise is a very risky business — but at the same time, folding means you'll lose your earlier investment when they could easily just be sitting on a high card. Aside from that, online players who sit down at physical tables tend to completely ignore their opponents' physical expressions and focus on their betting patterns, simply because you can't read people online. This tends to throw off live players, though it can also create an exploitable weakness because the online players don't train themselves to get rid of their own tells.

    Comic Books 
  • The Authority: This is one of the three ways to beat Midnighter, as it completely confuses the precognitive computers in his brain. (The other two are "Be better at Awesome by Analysis than he is" and "Be so powerful that it just doesn't matter if he predicts your moves or not.") Taken to extremes in the DC/Wildstorm crossover, where Midnighter takes one look at the Joker, tries to predict him and has a petit mal seizure (think of a computer lagging to a freezing halt, which was literally what (probably) happened here).
  • In Veys and Barral's Baker Street — a parodic take on Sherlock Holmes — Holmes has to travel back from Ceylan to Bombay, with Moriarty trying to stop him. He openly admits planning is useless, and chooses to rely on a deck of cards upon which all sort of random actions have been written. Some of the things we see, though the cards are not read aloud, include a music hall number, performing a dragon dance (in the heart of India!) and sliding down an Himalayan mountain on an overturned grand piano. Moriarty is suitably distressed:
    Moriarty: I HaTe tHeM.
  • Batman:
    • Batman himself has claimed that this is one of the reasons fighting the Joker can be so dangerous, even for a well-trained and experienced fighter. This is even more true for fighters who rely on reading and predicting their opponents moves as the Joker was able to catch Cassandra Cain, who was even better than her mother Lady Shiva, off-guard. In these instances, the only way to beat the Joker is to take a more simplistic approach or get him angry and let him attack you first.
      Black Canary: What's wrong with her? I thought she could beat anybody? She should be able to drop the Joker in a hot New York minute.
      Batman: Almost anybody. Batgirl reads body language. She knows what her opponents will do before they do it. She can read his too. But the Joker's body language makes no sense. It's jibberish.
    • This also extends to Joker's arsenal. Most villains have a gimmick that they'll stick to no matter what. Poison Ivy will always do something involving plants, Penguin will always do something involving birds and/or umbrellas, etc. Meanwhile, Joker will use guns, knives, explosives, whoopie cushions, buzzers, laughing gas, jet packs, fish, anything he feels like using or has within reach at the moment. Half the time they don't even work because of Rule of Funny.
    • In one comic, Joker plays chess with Ra's Al Ghul. Despite Ra's being very, very good at chess, Joker beat him by using random moves which Ra's couldn't effectively counter. Ra's didn't seem too upset about it, however.
    • Tim Drake managed to overcome Cassandra Cain's bodyreading ability by throwing out all style and just going with what felt natural, despite the fact that this is not how her abilities work.
    • Batman himself is sometimes portrayed this way, not due to his moves being random, but due to the fact that he sticks to the shadows and employs gadgetry. You might know Batman is stalking you, but you don't know which direction that Batarang/gas grenade/grapple/fist is coming from. He's been known to, among other things, trick an opponent (like Wonder Woman's alternate universe counterpart, Superwoman) coup with super-breath into thinking he was using a smoke bomb to cover his escape. She simply inhales all of the smoke... whereupon Batman informs her that it was also anesthetic gas.
  • The Quiz, from the appropriately named Brotherhood of Dada, had the superpower of "anything you haven't thought of yet". A particularly nonsensical example was the ability to turn people into toilets with flowers in them. In fact, her ability was so chaotic, it was only defeated by the power of Lists. The Doom Patrol fought her by running away and yelling out powers, so she couldn't use them.
  • Deadpool, from Marvel Comics. To the extent that he once defeated the freakin' Taskmaster by sheer unpredictability — Tasky thought that Deadpool was about to get angry and sloppy, but he really just started on a dance number. True, Confusion Fu has already been proven to be an effective strategy against Taskmaster (for example, Daredevil used a similar trick to goad Taskmaster into jumping in front of a moving car), but Deadpool beat the Taskmaster by being Deadpool.
  • In an issue of Green Lantern, Sinestro cites this as the key reason he can never beat Hal Jordan.
    Sinestro: You're too blasted unpredictable. Set a plotter or a schemer in my path, I'll crush their bones to dust. You've escaped that fate not because of something as silly as willpower. Nor because of your prosaic notions of justice and morality. You've survived because your actions never make sense. Yet despite yourself — and this is the truly infuriating part — your instincts always see you through.
  • Hellblazer: One of the main reason how John Constantine manages to outwit omniscient gods and Eldritch Abomination. His plans and strategies are so complicated and genius, even God didn't see it coming.
  • May from The Interman knows many fighting styles and uses them at random — which makes her a very dangerous opponent for Van Meach, a Ditto Fighter who needs time to adapt to each new challenge.
  • In the Justice League of America story arc where the league had to fight the Martian Manhunter's alter ego Fernus the Burning, Batman found a solution to fighting a shapeshifter who could predict your every move by reading your mind: bring in Plastic Man, a shapeshifter whose mind is so chaotic that his thoughts bear little connection to his actions.
  • In the Brian Bendis series of Moon Knight, the title character can manifest the personalities of Captain America, Spider-Man, or Wolverine and, so doing, adopts their weapons and fighting styles. To say that this is unexpected by his opponents is an understatement. It also saves his life several times when fighting Count Nefaria. Plus, he's notoriously mentally unstable, and it shines in his fighting style and general actions being insane. Taskmaster (again) has refused to fight him after several intel mismatches, copying self-damaging moves by accident (Moon Knight's style involves eating a lot of hits to counter them harder, which Tasky hates) and finally having Moon Knight crashing a helicopter into a building to catch him off-guard.
    Taskmaster: Good luck finding anyone in the city who's up for that kind of pain.
  • Nextwave famously and hilariously had Schrodinger's Death!
  • Done in Regifted during a hapkido tournament; the main character takes a move from her sparring buddy, that she describes as idiotic, and it works; no-one would know to expect it.
  • During a Secret Six/Suicide Squad crossover, Catman explains that he is able to hold up in his fight against Bronze Tiger because Bronze Tiger has "a defense for every style... and styles are for $%#@ing idiots." He then proceeds to take a big bite out of Bronze Tiger's jugular.
  • Spider-Man: With his speed, agility, spider-sense and ability to climb or swing anywhere he wants, Spider-Man has often invoked this trope with opponents having difficulty predicting his movements.
  • In Watchmen, Dan says that Rorschach was a good fighter because he was unpredictable. Probably related to the fact that he's not quite sane.
  • In a couple X-Wing Series books, it's stated that this trope is the main advantage of "ugly" starfighters. In a straight comparison, an ugly is a definitive Master of None, being cobbled together from spare parts of other fighters and having all the reliability you'd expect of that. But because seemingly every one is unique, and they bug out constantly, it makes them pretty unpredictable in combat — your targeting computer finally thinks it's got a tracer on this ship that isn't quite like anything in its database, and then its engine craps out for a second right before you can fire and your missiles streak directly in front of it.

    Fan Works 
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality:
    • The central strategy of Harry Potter's Chaos Army. Harry lacks Draco Malfoy's cultural knowledge and political acumen, and he doesn't quite match Hermione Granger's raw aptitude for learning. Harry actively courts traitors and sows confusion among all three armies while training his own soldiers to adapt to the chaos. It works... most of the time.
    • Most people — especially his enemies — suspect that Dumbledore's apparent insanity is an act to mask his true intentions. However, some speculate that he may actually have cracked along the way...
  • Socrates, Calvin & Hobbes: The Series' resident prankster, uses the Time Pauser during a climatic fight to appear "everywhere and nowhere", as the fic puts it.
  • Friendship Is Aura: Unlike in the Pokémon games, Lucario has access to his entire moveset, which any Pokémon player can tell you is a lot of moves. This is how Lucario beats most of his big opponents.
  • In Child of the Storm, this is Harry's strategic trademark, mixed in with frequent Indy Ploys and latterly, Xanatos Speed Chess, and along with his tendency (partly down to Doctor Strange's manipulations) to be in the right place at the right time, it's why he's such a Spanner in the Works to various villains — he's the wild card factor, because no one quite knows what he's going to do next. All they do tend to know is that it'll probably be completely nuts. Unfortunately, the downside of this is that when combined with a habit of not sharing changes in plan, it's also prone to derailing his allies' plans, and sometimes even his own. After one particular piece of attempted Xanatos Speed Chess goes horribly wrong in the sequel, he learns to moderate it by actually stopping and thinking first, and communicating — at which point the plans he comes up with often still qualify as this, because they're still just that nuts.
  • Upon a Falling Feather has Pinkie Pie fight like this, to rather impressive effect.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • Lots of characters do this when they need to fight. As in the above, Pinkie Pie is the stand-out due to having performed a Split-Personality Merge, making her a considerably saner Cloudcuckoolander who runs on Toon Physics. This results in her doing such things as weaponizing a Hard-Work Montage or use Offscreen Teleportation after being thrown out a window to come back in through the other window with a flying kick.
    • This is pretty much the norm for every character in Dark World, as one side is run by Discord and the other is fighting Discord. Twilight even invokes this trope when they're planning to fight Discord (and makes good use of it later with her vast amount of spells) because any well laid plan is destined to fail in this situation. She even outright refuses to come up with a single plan, instead opting for a list of optional goals that can be completed in any order, with the rest of the "plan" being an Indy Ploy.
    • This is particularly clear with Dark World Derpy, whose flying style is completely unpredictable and thus makes her very difficult to hit.
    • Another notable example is Dark World Spike, who's a Genius Bruiser that's spent the last thousand years pretty much reading whenever Discord wasn't using him as his personal ride. When faced with Rancor, Discord's little sister and The Dragon, he breaks out everything from Tickle Torture to chiropractic massage to simply pinning her wings and letting gravity do the rest to bypass her immunity to violence and fight her off.
    • Notably subverted with the Valeyard who, while he came to the fight Crazy-Prepared with layers upon layers of backup plans, ultimately had lost the Doctor's knack for this and Indy Ploys. Because of this he's ultimately out-thought and beaten.
  • In Mass Effect: Human Revolution, Jules' fighting is a blend of moves from many styles, making it impossible for Adam to analyse and develop a counter.
  • Mischief (MHA): Much like Loki, Izuku's fighting style can be described as such. Since his illusions are not particularly powerful, when facing an opponent, Izuku relies on making decoys of himself, shapeshifting, invisibility, trash talking and tossing as many knives as possible. This becomes deconstructed during his match against Denki at the Sports Festival. As his friend points out, "being unpredictable, makes him predictable" meaning that he needs to learn to adapt and use every tool and knowledge of his arsenal in a fight, not just what Loki taught him. Reconstructed during his internship with Gentle, where Izuku learns how integrate his scpeter and ice powers as well to his orignal fighting style, improving it immensely.
  • In A Horse for the Force, the Echani people are insanely skilled at reading body language, especially in combat. But Ranma knows so many styles and can switch between them flawlessly that they simply can't keep up.
  • Nami beats Ohm in Nine Minutes by hitting him with random dials to overcome his haki. If she doesn't know what her attack will do, neither will he.
  • Fate/Long Night: Queen Nymeria Martell is incredibly agile and both her body and her spear are extremely flexible, allowing her to attack from unexpected angles.
  • In Juxtapose, Izuku's opponents at the Sports Festival struggle to figure out what his Quirk actually is after he topples a zero-point robot with a touch, generates massive gusts of wind, and propels himself forward at Super-Speed. They're all stunned to learn that it's just Minor Banishment at the event's end.
  • In One Eye Full Of Wisdom, part of Naruto's training is learning to embrace his randomness. In his match against Shikamaru, Naruto fills the arena with Shadow Clones that play with various toys and tells Shikamaru they'll only attack him if he interrupts their play. Later when facing Jashin cultists, one of them notes that literally anything and everything near Naruto or his clones could (and likely has) been booby-trapped with exploding tags, from dishes to carts to vegetables.
  • In Son of the Sannin, Haku often mixes genjutsu with his Ice Release, taking his opponents off-guard as they can't tell what is real and what is not. This plays a huge role in the defeat of Hidan, who first gets caught in an ice illusion that he easily dispels, and then he gets encased in real ice and doesn't realize until it's too late because he thinks it's another illusion.
  • DNMC has Fulhaus "Clu" Cluspaheadia. He sings, he dances, he uses his Semblance on whatever odds and ends he's got on him, he'll play a shell game using hats as the shells and strike once your guard is down. Clearly, he's not someone who'd be easy to nail in a fight.
  • In The Weaver Option the Imperium's attack on Mandragora is halted by the tactical brilliance of Zahndrekh and Imotekh. At the suggestion of an Admiral, Taylor's forces decide to stop trying to out-think the two and instead focus on confusing them. In space this consists of rapidly cycling between obviously flawed formations, confusing the Necron fleet until the Imperium can partially encircle them. On the ground the Imperium spends several days pulling bizarre and illogical actions, such as digging a tunnel, collapsing it before it can be used, and then digging it again, or organizing a race between soldiers riding Dragon Armors. This allows Taylor's forces to accrue a number of minor victories and lure the Necron leadership into an ambush.
  • My Dream Is Yours: Just as in canon, this is Ohlm's battle style, and he employs it on Jamie Jam as he pretends to be unable to comprehend her "Knock Knock" Joke clue. It works spectacularly to the point that Jamie ends up admitting defeat and leaving without even bothering to attack the town, as was initially planned.
  • A literal example in Later, Traitor. When Frazie goes up against a boss that can predict her every move, she uses Confusion on herself so it (and herself) have no way of knowing what she’ll do. It also impairs her fighting ability and temporarily turns her into a goofball, but she only needs to get lucky once and confuse the boss itself in order to negate its omnipotence and start turning the fight against him.
  • Voyages of the Wild Sea Horse: During the Sky-Seas Saga, Harumi ends up fighting an alcoholic, pyromaniac Monster Clown whose fighting style is described as a combination of Drunken Fist Kung Fu and extremely dangerous attacks with fireworks, flamethrowers, and water balloons full of alcohol. He almost beats the swordsman when Harumi instinctively cuts a booze-balloon projectile, soaking himself in highly flammable liquid and making himself an easy target for the lighter-wielding maniac. Luckily, his opponent gets so distracted taunting Harumi about his impending death that Harumi's Violently Protective Girlfriend runs up behind him and clobbers him.

    Films — Animated 
  • Shrek the Third: When Charming attempts to interrogate Pinocchio on Shrek's whereabouts, Pinocchio starts talking in circular double negatives to avoid telling the truth, confusing Charming — and, if the three little pigs hadn't squealed, he would have managed to drive him away entirely.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Near the end of Chocolate, Zen gets rather badly beaten by a man with Tourette's syndrome. Her usual method of evading attack, anticipation, is ruined by his tics — she can't tell them apart from his attack tells. Only when she starts mimicking his tics does she get any offense in.
  • Blaze, in Delusions of Grandeur, finds himself at one point facing a nobleman who seems to be a much better fencer than him. His solution? Taunt his opponent with erratic sword moves, before literally kicking his butt.
  • Drunken Master:
    • Wong Fei Hung's drunken boxing style is all about doing stuff that seems insane or physically impossible to do.
    • In the first movie, Fei Hung's master, Su Hua Chi, teaches him the style and how it's based on the 8 Drunken Immortals — Fei Hung learns 7, but refuses to learn the last since it's based off a woman's style. Fast-forward to the final battle against the assassin, Thunderleg, where Fei Hung bests Thunderleg's Devil's Kick style. Thunderleg switches to the Devil's Shadowless Hand instead, besting Fei Hung each time he demonstrates another Drunken Immortal's style, until he gets to the 8th — Miss Ho. He admits to his master he didn't learn the style, so Su Hua Chi tells him to combine the other 7 styles and improvise, creating a hilarious and nearly unpredictable improvised style which defeats Thunderleg's Shadowless Hand.
  • The original version of Game of Death: The whole point of the movie was to demonstrate that an unpredictable fighting style is superior than any formalized system. Bruce Lee's associates use a traditional style and fail. He uses a fluid, adaptional system and succeeds.
  • In the earlier Godzilla films monsters would sometimes have a hard time even getting close to the three headed space dragon King Ghidorah because he'd keep moving his heads around in such wild ways that it was hard to predict which volley of gravity beams he fired from his mouths would hit or miss or if he would rake them across an enemy monster's body or readjust his aim if he missed or not and because there is no glowing or charge time he spammed these rays like no tomorrow. It's because of this he'd hit any attacking monsters half the time and the other half miss. He wasn't a dangerous planet killing monster because of strength but because of how wild he was. He is chaos incarnate!
  • Green Room: This is what Pat ultimately does to defeat the remaining Nazis when he and Amber are cornered in the end: remembering how he and his band defeated some Marines in paintball by simply attacking them in an unpredictable way, he shaves his head, paints his face, and screams "Shazbot!" at the Nazis when they break the door down before leaping down into the basement to lead them into an ambush. The Nazis are thoroughly baffled and their uncertainty eventually gets them killed.
  • A lot of Jackie Chan movies often have his character performing this, using anything and everything around him as a weapon and utilizing a lot of misdirection, usually making a fusion of legitimate martial arts action and slapstick comedy.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill is a baseline human in a galaxy of superhuman aliens (and that's not to mention the angry gods). He gets by with gadgets and trickery. At the end, he distracts Ronan the Accuser by challenging him to a dance-off while singing "Ooh Child".
      Ronan: What are you doing. ... What are you doing?
    • The title character of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings notes he met his friend Katy when she prevented a fight from starting between him and some jerk by jumping between them and singing "Hotel California". Katy calls this "the art of confusion" and adds that it "works great on stupid people". And then when she's cornered by a mook with a sword, Katy tries the exact same tactic, and it works, at least until the stumped guy just decides to resume attacking.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean : As anyone who's fought Jack Sparrow more than once knows he's a wicked Chess Master with a one-track mind; sometimes the only way he can win a fight is by being unpredictable. DVD commentary said he's actually the worst straight-up swordsman in the series.
  • In Push, this is how the good guys hide their plan from the precognitive Pop Girl. Nick writes the individual steps of the plan down and seals them in envelopes, which are marked as to when and where they are to be opened. He then has his memory wiped so even he won't know what the group's going to do until he opens the envelopes he carries. Since Watchers like Pop Girl can see the future based on a subject's conscious intentions, her vision ends the moment Nick gets wiped.
  • In Quantum of Solace, this is what lets the physically nonthreatening villain stay alive (temporarily — not a spoiler, it's a Bond film). He flails about so wildly that Bond can't really fight him effectively (that they're also fighting in a hotel that is literally exploding around them, so Bond has to mind his surroundings while fending him off, also helps) — that is, until the downside of wild flailing is illustrated, when the villain performs an inadvertent axe-foot interface that is excruciating to watch.
  • Serenity: So says Joss Whedon in the commentary, regarding the end fight between River and the Reavers:
    Joss: My wife often refers to this style of fighting as "just keep waving things until they go away."

  • In the Alex Cross novel Pop Goes the Weasel, the main villain is a serial killer who randomly chooses victims with roleplaying game dice (as part of a semi-fictional game in-universe). The villain isn't that classical super-genius serial killer, but it's hard to predict what a serial killer will do if even the serial killer themselves don't know what they'll do. In at least one instance, the killer plans a murder but then aborts it at the last minute because of the dice roll.
  • In the novel Automatic Reload by Ferrett Steinmetz, the protagonists are being hunted by people who are taking orders from dangerously smart AI. The AI can easily predict what the "best" things the protagonists can do are and allocate resources to counter them, so they reason that their only chance is a variation on this trope: they have to make plans that are stupid enough that the AI wouldn't have already put countermeasures in place, but not so stupid that they can't work at all.
  • In Fred Saberhagen's early Berserker stories, the berserkers were omnicidal self-replicating war machines whose combat strategies were driven by a random number generator, seeking to avoid predictability at almost any cost. As the series progressed, this aspect of the berserkers' programming came up less and less often and the berserkers' strategies became much more logical.
  • Book 1 of Darren Shan's Demonata series starts off with the main character spending most of his childhood learning to play chess, specifically so that he could grow up to challenge a demon whose sole hobbies are playing chess and tormenting the protagonist's family throughout history though no one bothered to tell him that part until later. When he does ultimately face down the demon, he realizes that the only way to beat someone who has spent literally millenia doing nothing but playing chess, is to pay absolutely no attention to the games at all, instead spending the time chattering inanely and only looking at the boards enough to ensure he didn't move a piece illegally. He wins, and in the process frustrates the demon so badly that Lord Loss proceeds to all but flip the table in his indignation and announce that Grubs's performance was a disgrace to the game, then pretty much rage-quit that plane of existence.
  • Discworld:
    • Rincewind is a walking entropy generator. Being The Lady's favorite pawn (which works against you just as often as for you) can confuse everybody, even Death himself. His hourglass is equally unpredictable due to its strange shape.
    • It's also precised that Rincewind's favorite method of fighting bare-handed is to strike badly, but as many times as possible, and with maximum strength (which doesn't mean very much in his case) in order not to let the opponent the opportunity to realize how terrible a fighter he is. Not to mention faking the use of his nonexistent magic powers in a voluntarily ridiculous and over-the-top way, just to give him the time to score a Groin Attack or any other non-magic trick.
    • When Mort and Death fight, it's noted that while a scythe is not preeminent among weapons of war, once it gets spinning it's practically impossible for anyone, including the wielder, to tell where it's going to be next.
    • In Monstrous Regiment, Polly ends up winning a sparring match with her squad's absolute bastard of a corporal by deliberately using a swing that only a complete amateur would use, thus catching him off guard long enough to headbutt him.
    • Moist von Lipwig is of the opinion in Raising Steam that if he doesn't know what he will do next, his opponent won't either.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden often defeats opponents with hundreds, sometimes thousands of years of experience on him, buttloads more magical talent and skill, and vastly superior physical abilities often by doing things that are the exact opposite of sensible. With a bit of every Gambit trope ever thrown in. Yes, even Unwitting Pawn. On himself.
  • The Elenium by David Eddings: Taking it to other levels, the reason Sparhawk can stick the metaphorical middle finger up to the gods is because he moves outside destiny, and therefore even the gods can't predict what he's going to do next. In one of the few cases of this ever, this is Jossed in-universe. To wit: In The Tamuli trilogy which follows on the heels of the Elenium, one of the fundamental forces of the universe says that even its own path may be thwarted by random chance; lesser beings like mere Gods are just as subject to deviation from their intended plan. The gods are freaked out at Sparhawk/Anakha because Anakha is said universe-shaping powers' son, making him not only a God but a God more powerful than any in the world, unique in the universe — if only he could release his full potential. It's implied (though never directly stated) that the whole "lack of destiny" deal is a smokescreen to help keep him from realizing exactly what all of this implies.
  • Achilles from the Ender's Shadow series. While not as intelligent as the other battle school students, he is able to outsmart them all by keeping them guessing. This is particularly frustrating to Bean, who eventually kills him by being unpredictable himself; in Shadow of the Giant, Achilles trusts that Bean will act to preserve his unborn embryos, but Bean elects to shoot him and let them die, rationalizing that it is for the greater good and Achilles likely was either bluffing or intended to kill them regardless.
  • In Fool's Mate, a short story by Robert Sheckley, a human space fleet is deadlocked in manuevering against an alien one because both fleets are controlled by computers that can calculate the optimal combat actions exactly. However, the alien fleet has a positional advantage that means the humans will eventually lose. A character sent from Earth to investigate the situation wins the battle by giving an insane man control over the fleet command system, paralyzing the enemy computer because it can't figure out what strategy is being used.
  • The Fourth Realm by John Twelve Hawks: The Harlequins are sworn to protect the titular Travelers from a totalitarian shadow government which seeks to eliminate liberty and free choice. To fight these control-freaks, Harlequins "cultivate randomness". They are deliberately unpredictable in battle and go so far as to use random number generators to make decisions in order to confound predictive tracking algorithms.
  • The woman known as Schrodinger's Cat in Eric Flint's Joe's World series. When she fights it's possible to keep track of where she is, or what she's about to do, but not both.
  • Light and Dark: The Awakening of the Mage Knight: Alsono's preferred form of combat is being unpredictable. Combined with Fragile Speedster and his opponents have no idea what he's doing at any given moment.
  • An example occurs in the second book of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, when Vin counters Zane's ability to see the future by using his movements to figure out what she's going to do next, and then doing something else.
  • In The Oval Amulet, Paragrin beats Cam by swinging wildly. Kirk, however, knows what he's doing.
  • In Larry Niven's The Ringworld Throne and Ringworld's Children, doing this sort of thing is the only way Luis Wu can stay in the game against the superhumanly smart protectors... until he becomes a protector himself.
  • Velvet Scarletina from the RWBY series demonstrates her talent for Confusion Fu in RWBY: Before the Dawn. Velvet's Selmblance lets her perfectly mimic someone's movements after seeing them in use. She's trained herself to be able to switch combat styles on the fly, so as soon as an enemy starts to understand Velvet's current style and tries to counter it, she changes the rules and keeps them guessing. As her ally Coco puts it, "Velvet can fight like anyone, but no one can fight like Velvet."
  • The Scar by China Miéville: Uther Doul has a probability-altering sword that's this trope at its most literal. It passes through all the paths it could potentially have taken with each swing, and he's taught himself a style to maximize the effect. It's not a totally random and uncontrolled style. Complete randomness would cut himself up as much as his enemy. Complete control would leave too few alternate possibilities to be effective. It has to be somewhere in the middle, controlled but not precise.
  • In The Sea of Trolls, Berserkers are immune to trolls' mind-reading powers because their mindless, frenzied style of fighting is impossible for the trolls to decipher.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is a proponent of this style as part of playing the political game, and after he arranges the killing of Joffrey and takes Sansa on his ship tells her that when executing a plan, it is important to sometimes appear to be working against one's known aims or best interests and/or to openly work towards deliberately fabricated goals you never actually intend to reach (and, therefore, have built-in alternatives, screens or eject and parachute options available should something unexpectedly blow up), all just to keep the enemy guessing. Funnily enough, this crops up much, much earlier. Arya Stark once accidentally overheard Varys complaining to Illyrio Mopatis that he has no idea what Littlefinger is really up to.
  • In The Supervillainy Saga, Gary Karkofsky AKA Merciless: The Supervillain without MercyTM uses this. Most opponents dismiss him as a fool and a moron who is playing at being a supervillain and constantly making pop culture references or digressions. He's also a Person of Mass Destruction.
  • Temeraire: Napoleon scales this up to defeat the Prussian Dragon Riders in Black Powder War. The Prussians mobilize their heavyweight dragons in perfectly disciplined formations, which promptly get mobbed and disabled by an unpredictable swarm of Napoleon's lightweights, who can slip through the gaps and fly circles around the larger dragons.
  • The 1952 sci-fi novel This Island Earth (on which the 1955 film was based) centers on an intergalactic war between two races of aliens, the Llanna and Guarra, that has dragged on for millennia because each side has supercomputers that can predict the other side's every move. The Llanna use Earth as a production facility, but they refuse to defend it when it is discovered by the enemy because their computers tell them it would be bad strategy. The human protagonists convince them to do it for precisely that reason: the Guarra's computers will also say the Llanna won't defend Earth, so they won't see it coming.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This is Sheridan's favourite tactic in Babylon 5 and it's implied that other races are afraid and suspicious of humans because of their frequent use of unconventional tactics and overall unpredictability.
  • On BattleBots, one of the competitors is HUGE, a design created from some incredibly out-of-the-box thinking. At a time when the metagame for BattleBots had revolved around getting your weapons as close to the ground as possible, HUGE took the opposite approach, boasting two very large wheels made of high-grade polypropylene (what the plastic 7-Eleven drink cups are made of), which would bend and bounce to deflect kinetic energy away, and a body about 0.5 meters off the ground, out of reach of most robots. It moves and attacks in such a different way than any other competitor before it that it delivered a Curb-Stomp Battle to its first opponent SubZero, whose team captain was at a total loss as to how to even fight it.
  • Battlestar Galactica (1978). In one episode Galactica has to train their female shuttle pilots as Warriors when all the men fall ill. This trope is used to handwave why they don't suffer the fate of other New Meat redshirts; as they're Incompletely Trained, they flew in a confusing manner that prevented the Cylons from killing them.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The idea is sort-of mentioned in passing in "Destiny of the Daleks". The Daleks, and their enemies the Movellans, are engaged in a war against each other. Both sides are more machine than animal (the Movellans are possibly androids, maybe cybernetically enhanced bio-forms), and each side controls their entire battle fleet from a giant supercomputer. Because both fleets are using purely logical tactics, the computers never launch an attack, as the opposing computer can instantly create a counterattack scenario. They both realize that the only way for either side to win is to turn off their battle computer and do something random, as a totally logical battle plan is doomed to fail due to its own predictability.
    • Invoked by the Doctor in "The Parting of the Ways": The Doctor has no weapons, no defenses, and no plan, and that just scares the Daleks to death. At least, according to him. And as it turns out, he's right.
    • "The Pandorica Opens": The Eleventh Doctor suggests attacking an armada of evil alien spaceships with three unarmed people because they'll never expect it. He then mentions that the reason they'd never expect it is because they would kill them instantly and tries to think of another plan. The best part about his plan? He eventually resorts to it, simply standing, seemingly fearlessly, atop Stonehenge to face an enormous armada of fully armed alien battleships, whilst giving a speech about just how awesome he is and how afraid all his enemies should be of him, given how many times he has defeated them from a seemingly unwinnable position, and urging them to "let someone else try first". All the spaceships run away. Horrifyingly subverted when it turns out the aliens had been bluffing the Doctor the whole time. The entire thing was a trap to seal him away in the Pandorica so that the TARDIS wouldn't explode and destroy the universe.
  • Farscape's John Crichton, whose best moments usually come when a plan fails horribly and he resorts to taking advantage of the confusion and winging it. It helps that he's pretty much slipped aside the bonds of sanity to be able to accept his circumstances by halfway through the first season. It also helps that while everyone recognizes him as The Fool, they often forget that he's a certified genius.
  • A variation in Glee, when the football team performs the dance from Beyonce's "Single Ladies" to the utter bafflement of the opposing team... which gives them the window of opportunity needed to score a touchdown. Fitting the realism level of the show, there is no way a stunt like that would even be remotely legal in an actual game, even at high school level.
  • Jeopardy!: Some players use the "Forrest Bounce", named after Chuck Forrest, Season 2's top winner and the 1986 Tournament of Champions winner, in which the player in control "bounces" between different categories instead of going through individual categories in sequential order. Notably, Alex Trebek disliked this strategy, as the show's writers purposefully write the clues in each category to flow sequentially.
  • Odd Squad:
    • This is the preferred battle style of Ohlm. He may be an absolute ditz who is Too Dumb to Live at times, but his wild unpredictability in battle gives him an upper hand against villains. This is best demonstrated in "And Then They Were Puppies", which shows him battling the Puppy Master and defeating her while also destroying the remote to activate her giant Puppy Ray. And if Oprah's words are to go by, Ohlm himself doesn't seem to have any control over what he does. Potentially justified by the fact that Ohlm is actually Obfuscating Stupidity and is really an Evil Genius in a similar vein to Odd Todd.
    • While she doesn't use it explicitly for battle (although it could be argued that it would be a good advantage against the cafeteria workers she despises), New Dr. O is also shown to be a master at this when it comes to making friends. Among many of her skills are Offscreen Teleportation (transporting flatbread sandwiches into pockets), Stealth Hi/Bye, and her seemingly unjustified hatred of Odd Squad cafeteria workers. It manages to unnerve Oona — a Genius Ditz herself — to such a point where she eventually hits her Rage Breaking Point and takes it out on both New Dr. O and Oprah.
    • The plot of "Mr. Unpredictable" revolves around the eponymous villain, who, unlike other villains, doesn't follow a strict pattern and makes it next to impossible for Odd Squad to catch him. This manages to irritate Opal, who is of the belief that Mr. Unpredictable does have a pattern and drags Omar into helping her find him. When the partner pair eventually do confront him at the end of the episode, they learn that he actually does follow a pattern, and when he starts spouting random words in an attempt to throw them off, they match him by saying the words in unison. He gives a Big "NO!", begins crying in defeat, then immediately straightens up and declares that he'll call himself "Derek" before walking away.
  • Captain Ed Mercer of The Orville is far from the most physically imposing guy, nor is his ship all that equipped for a fight. Therefore, his go-to strategy is to use distraction and confusion to catch an opponent off-guard, and then go for the sneak attack.
  • Bulk and Skull from the first several Power Rangers series have absolutely no idea what they're doing in a fight, but the various mooks are so confused by their random bumbling and inexplicable confidence that they're generally victorious anyway.
  • On the robot fighting show Robot Wars, this was the trademark of one-time Grand Finalist Stinger. Basically a flanged mace mounted between two armoured wheels which contained all the electronics, Stinger was almost impossible to actually damage — it had no vulnerable external components and the armour on the wheels was extremely thick. It attacked by either driving at opponents really quickly then suddenly reversing, causing the mace to fly over and smash down on their target, or whirling around on the spot like a mad dervish, bludgeoning any opponent foolish enough to approach. The robot was incredibly hard to steer effectively (each wheel was driven independently, meaning it drove like a Virtual-ON robot that can't strafe and has a tendency to oversteer when turning) and in its first appearance it crashed out in the first round when it simply careened into the open pit, but it was almost impossible to fight effectively, simply slipping away from almost all attacks — its famous 4th Wars run to the finals was only ended when it lost the judges' decision against Chaos 2 on quality of control.
    • In the revival series Nuts invoked this; apart from portraying themselves as a Joke Character, their main robot was an awkward looking box with a pair of flails, and they also brought a pair of tiny minibots as distractions. Their driver outright said "If we don't know what it does, neither will the opponent". And with the addition of an incredibly clever control circuit, it actually worked, going all the way to the season 10 finals, and managing to beat both Behemoth and defending champion Carbide in a single match.
  • Smart Guy: Child Prodigy TJ is beaten at chess by a computer. In the rematch, he wins by deliberately making bad/random moves, having learned while practicing how hard it is to play against someone who doesn't know how to play well. The computer virtually melts down in response. Believe it or not this is, almost, Truth in Television. Beating a computer this way may not work, but it's definitely possible to last longer against computers of TJ era by playing randomly. This is because computers play chess by calculating every possible move, and every possible move that results from every possible move etc etc. They will do this while your thinking, and they are better at it then you are. By playing quickly it's possible to drastically shorten the time a computer has to process and so force them to make worse moves because they had to play before they finished calculating. This has proven effective against Big Blue and similar computers.
  • A variation appears in Star Trek: The Next Generation, where the android Data proves unable to beat a Stratagema grandmaster. For their rematch, he intentionally plays to draw rather than win, and frustrates the grandmaster to the point that he leaves the table.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, this is one of Captain Kirk's most memorable strategies against an enemy A.I. — just behave so illogically that it can't keep up. It works very well in "I, Mudd".
  • Woody of the series Sun Trap is the unquestioned master of this trope. He can do almost anything he wants because no one can keep up with his Insane Troll Logic. His use of this in the season one finale even results in the Big Bad experiencing a heart attack from stress.
  • Super Sentai:
    • In Engine Sentai Go-onger, Hiramekimedes, master of Awesomeness by Analysis, kept losing to Hiroto, who was even better at it... so he went One-Winged Angel and adopted a nonsense-based style, calling himself Detaramedes (detarame = nonsense), fighting crazily and yelling things like "1+1=300!" He was winning until Sousuke, who has the usual Hot-Blooded hero's style of "charge in mindlessly and win via plot convenience," stepped in. Throwing his sword and riding it like a surfboard, he managed to finalize Detaramedes singlehandedly.
    • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has Gokai Green, "Doc" Don Dogoier. His teammates are all talented sword- and/or gunfighters, but he isn't; instead he (kind of) makes up for it by doing all sorts of wacky things like using a trapeze, wrestling moves, Improvised Weapons like tree branches and buckets, and even tripping and pratfalling. In effect, Don has weaponized being the Plucky Comic Relief Butt-Monkey. He actually manages to put one over on a character called The Strongest Soldier in the Universe precisely because that guy underestimated him thanks to his wackiness.
  • Ted Lasso: Facing relegation with their final match against heavily favored Manchester City, Ted decides AFC Richmond's best chance to win is to run trick plays (or as Brits call them, "elaborate set pieces") to confuse Man City and create goal scoring chances. One of them is the "Lasso Special", an American football play modified to fit association football rules.

  • In Shin Angyo Onshi this is pulled off in army level. Seeing how the Big Bad relied heavily on mind reading, Munsu rolls dice to determine the army's strategy.

  • James Brown doesn't know karate, but he knows ka-razy.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • This is the key behind Gracie Hunter Kazushi Sakuraba's success. Tire and bedazzle the foe with dazzling agility, take them off guard with tom foolery, beat their throat in with your open hand...
  • The fighting style of Delirious has been called "Unpredictable Scientific Virtuoso". His enemies in Gateway Championship Wrestling, Operation Shamrock, sought to figure him out, without much success. However, his trainer, Kid Kash, does do a fairly decent job of figuring out Delirious...fairly. This actually worked out against him when he was working with MsChif and she repeatedly struck him at times she didn't expect him to be in a certain place, including an accidental blind mule kick to the balls.
  • The one finishing move everyone sees coming from Delirious and Kid Kash trained Daizee Haze is the German Suplex...except when its the tiger suplex. Then there is the heart punch, which sets up the springboard Daizee Cutter, or Cashed Out jawbreaker face buster combination, or slumber in the tight roller, or being driven to the mat with the mind trip, or being put out with a Yakuza Kick...
  • When Boogeyman finally started getting put in matches, this, combined with No-Sell, played a large part in him steamrolling all opposition. From his build and preferred finishing moves, one would expect a power wrestler but sometimes he would just strangely gyrate instead of attempt any grapples, shaking off any in turn attempted on him and strikes just causing him to gyrate more. Then he uncanny agility and leaping distance usually only seen in the "high flyers". And then he sometimes had the unnerving strategy of charging while shards of glass were embedded in his head.
  • Cody Rhodes changing his gimmick to Stardust has elements of this, as Stardust has a completely different fighting style and move set from him, throwing off opponents who were prepared to counter Cody's moves.

  • Baseball:
    • There are a handful of baseball pitchers who throw the knuckleball. Essentially throwing the ball with no spin, this allows the ball's imperfections (mostly the seams) to determine the flight path. Such pitches are so unpredictable that even the pitcher doesn't know where they'll end up, with the catcher usually having to wear an oversize mitt to help snag them. In fact, some batters take the day off when a knuckleballer is scheduled to pitch against their team, rather than have their timing and instincts ruined for the next several games.
    • Even more so is the spitball. Similar to the knuckleball, it has an unpredictable trajectory, but because it doesn't require a special grip to be thrown, it can be thrown at higher speeds, and due to the dirt, grime, and tobacco juice that accumulates on the ball, it is more difficult to see. It is banned from most professional leagues due to this fact — a spitball killed Ray Chapman during a poorly lit game after going astray and hitting him in the head, resulting in its ban in 1920. Its equivalent is still legal in Cricket, with certain exceptions (for instance, gouging the ball with your fingernails is unacceptable, while spitting on one side and polishing the other against your trousers is no issue).
    • "Effectively wild" baseball pitchers, who have great breaking-ball stuff or high velocity and terrible command, work this on hitters. Better offensive teams and pitchers can usually shell a wild pitcher with trained plate discipline and waiting out a pitcher to walk guys on or lay a mistake down the heart of the plate, but most league-average players will usually chase their bad balls out of the zone and work their own way into trouble, either out of a sense of aggressiveness in anticipation of getting a mistake to hit or a ball being just close enough to the strike zone to chase. Whereas more effective pitchers will execute a game-plan that involves intentionally throwing balls to fool the hitter and the hitter countering by trying to figure out the plan of attack, wild pitchers with no semblance of control usually befuddle hitters into having no clue if they're getting a ball or strike in any count and it throws their usual hitting approach out of whack.
    • Jim Bouton wrote in Ball Four of his teammate Mike Marshall's belief that the most effective way to keep a hitter from dialing in was to throw pitches in a completely random non-pattern irrespective of the count.
    • Deceptive windups and pitch timings are an attempt to manually create confusion in the batters. Johnny Cueto is a master of this sort of pitching, varying his windup timings, how much he turns his body, and what arm angle he releases the ball from with basically every pitch, to the point that he sometimes turns entirely around to face the center-field camera and then shimmys before letting the ball go (as seen here). Ditto guys like Yusmeiro Petit and Grant Dayton, whose pitching motion makes the ball seem to disappear behind their bodies and reappear at their release point, making their fastball become what's colloquially known as an "invisiball".
  • In cricket, some fast bowlers like to bowl the ball so that the seam (which on a cricket ball is much more prominent than on a baseball, running straight around the circumference of the ball) strikes the ground on the bounce, producing a pretty unpredictable bounce on the right kind of pitch. Of course, this makes it unlikely to direct itself towards the stumps, but the idea is to hope that a batter will take a swing at the ball and 'edge' it, resulting in an easy catch for the wicket keeper. Such a tactic is, as you'd expect, known as 'seam bowling' and the bowler who uses it a 'seamer'.
  • American Football:
    • The Wildcat Formation. There are four main plays (two rushing, two passing) that can be run from the Wildcat Formation, and all of them look exactly the same until the play is actually executed, making it difficult for the defense to anticipate what they must do. The Wildcat is an interesting example. After seeing Ronnie Brown and the Miami Dolphins paste the recently near-undefeated New England Patriots with the Wildcat in 2008, several other teams misunderstood the reason it worked (the Dolphins simply surprised the Patriots with a scheme they had not thought to prepare for) and began to implement the Wildcat into their normal offensive playbooks. Once defensive coaches had a few weeks to study the Wildcat, defenses adjusted to counter the Wildcat and offenses designed around it were stopped cold. Today, the Wildcat is almost entirely out of vogue... which means that if a team is very careful about using it sparingly, it can still be an effective surprise attack.
    • There are a surprising number of Confusion Fu techniques in American Football, and almost every play utilizes them to some extent. Many running patterns are designed to confuse the defense and make them lose track. Beyond known plays such as the play action (start with what looks like a run play, but then go to a pass) the draw (the converse, fall back like you're about to pass while you're actually executing a running play), a quarterback can use his eyes or do a pump fake to fool an unsuspecting defensive player to think he will throw in a certain direction. He may also alter his pre-snap cadence to make it harder for the defense to time the snap. He may fake a handoff, then run the ball himself (a "bootleg"). Running backs will follow a blocking pattern until the defense adjusts to it, and then cut back and run the other way. Receivers will make moves to throw a defensive back off his coverage. Sometimes two or more receivers will cross routes, making it difficult for all the defenders to track them. Skilled defenders are just as capable of utilizing confusion by continually moving before the snap, or lining up in an apparent zone and then blitzing through linemen not expecting a strong pass rush.
    • The zone read and option plays, which figure heavily into college football (with the former becoming more prevalent in the pro game with the advent of mobile quarterbacks), which allows the quarterback to read the defense and then decide after the snap and the defense commits whether to hang onto the ball or give it off to a tailback. This gets even more headache-inducing for the defense with the option, since the quarterback and tailback are running parallel to each other so that the quarterback can A) keep it and run if the defender chooses to stay with the tailback or B) if the defense commits to the quarterback, wait until he's about to be tackled before pitching it to the tailback, allowing him a lot of space to run with one less defender to worry about.
    • And then there's just doing something so completely unexpected that the defense has no idea what's going on. Case in point? This.
    • Every team will have a couple trick or gadget plays that rely on this in their playbook (the Statue of Liberty play, for example), even up to the professional level. Such shenanigans are generally frowned upon, however, as when they fail they tend to fail catastrophically (and additionally make the playcaller look like an idiot).
    • A much more commonly used trick/gadget play is the Flea Flicker, in which the quarterback hands off or laterals the ball to a running back or a receiver, who then laterals it back to the quarterback who throws it deep to another receiver who ran down the field during this process. While the play is confusing enough that it usually results in big gains when it works, it can also easily be disrupted by a defense that's prepared for it because of how long it takes, and if the defense covers the deep receiver (or receivers) well enough, it can easily lead to an interception. A slight variant on the play that is used much more rarely will have the player the QB gave the ball throwing it deep themselves rather than pitching it back to the QB, which is quite a bit riskier because of the non-QB throwing the ball, but it can sometimes work amazingly well if the thrower has enough skill. And even more rarely, you'll see that play used with the QB himself going deep down the field to be the target for the receiver he originally lateraled the ball to, as in this play.
    • This play — whatever it was intended to do — shows that confusion for the sake of confusion is not a successful tactic. There are probably three people in the world who understand this play. One is in an insane asylum, the other is dead and the third has forgotten all about it.
    • Due to the fact that defensive positions are a lot less fixed than offensive, defenses perform Confusion Fu on a much more consistent basis than offenses. A common tactic is to present one type of defensive coverage before the snap and then shift to a different one after the snap, or to have players show blitz before dropping into coverage.
  • Retired fighter Genki Sudo owed most of his striking success to this tactic, being primarily a grappler. It was awesome to watch
  • Mansour Bahrami is a tennis player known for his crazy fake outs and trick shots. It is a sight to behold. It should be noted that Mr. Bahrami primarily plays in exhibition matches which do not adhere strictly to the rules. Many of his tactics, though not all, are against the rules in a regular tennis match.
  • Capoeira has much the same thought in mind with its Dance Battler making you hard to predict because you are always in motion. Also for the sheer fun of it.
  • In game theory, this is known as a mixed strategy. For example, in rock-paper-scissors, if you went with a pure strategy, such as always picking rock, anyone who knows your strategy could easily beat you. If you use a mixed strategy, and pick rock a third of the time, paper a third of the time, and scissors a third of the time, then there's no strategy that can consistently beat you. In more complex games, there are more complex mixed strategies, where not all choices are picked with the same probability.
    • Do make sure, though, that you are truly randomizing whether you pick rock, paper, or scissors — if you're just going in a predictable pattern (i.e., 1st round rock, 2nd round paper, 3rd round scissors, 4th round rock, etc.), or even adhere too strictly to the 1/3 probability guideline (to the point where every three throws feature rock, paper, and scissors in some order), astute opponents will pick up on it and pre-empt you.
    • Another example is from soccer penalty kicks. Because the shot is taken from so close, the goalie has to decide whether to go left or right as they will not have time to react if they wait until ball is kicked. Meanwhile, the kicker has to decide whether to aim for the left corner or the right corner. Both players randomize which way to go based on the probabiities of scoring. Research has shown that professionals move to the left or right with a frequency that is within 1% of what game theory predicts.
      • This is discussed by the authors of the Freakonomics blog in Think Like a Freak, then invoked. If you're the kicker, and you know the keeper will almost certainly either dodge left or right, where should you aim? Right down the middle. They give several reasons for why players rarely use this tactic, one of which is the fear of shame (and an angry crowd) at kicking the ball dead center and having the keeper catch it easily.
      • Probably the gutsiest penalty kick down the middle was this from Czechoslovak Antonin Panenka at the final of the Euro 1976. It worked and it beat Germany in the only penalty shootout they ever lost. Maybe England should hire Panenka as a penalty shootout coach.
  • Muay thai champion Manson Gibson is a known Confusion Fu user. His amateur kung fu-based fighting style has been described as "capoeira-esque", using all kind of attacks from absurd angles and making a deep use of Spectacular Spinning.
  • This is a good volleyball setter's job. If it is obvious which attacker he/she is setting, they will probably be blocked. The set should look obvious, but be misleading, so that the blockers will go up against the wrong player.
  • Kickboxer and MMA star Bob Sapp was an example in which opponents could not read his attacks due to how Unskilled, but Strong they were. Thanks to his large arms, he could inflict damage from every angle, and due to his lack of classic training, he indeed attacked from every angle.
  • In Australian Rules Football, a "chaos ball" is either a high arcing kick or tumbling kick along the ground to empty space, usually used when the defensive team is well set up and the attacking player has no obvious targets, in order to create a "loose ball" that an attacking player can hopefully run on to.
  • Within the professional Overwatch League, the Chengdu Hunters have an immense reputation among audiences, critics, and other teams for indulging in this the most out of any other team in the league. Overwatch — especially in higher levels of competition — is known to revolve heavily around its metagame with a limited amount of "strong" and "viable" team compositions, but the Hunters are almost magnetized towards picking out the most unexpected and bizarre team compositions, hero picks, and strategies, making them an unconventionally difficult opponent since it's near-impossible to thoroughly prepare for what they might throw out. This hasn't always translated in consistency, but they've been perceived as a team never to underestimate since their innovative nature has caught the drop on many high-level teams over the years who couldn't figure out what they were dealing with until it was too late, resulting in very strange upsets.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Codex: Card Time Strategy (another game by Dave Sirlin) has the entire Anarchy spec themed around chaos and unpredictability. One of its iconic spells throws two sharks out of nowhere at the opponent. The flavour text explicitly invokes this trope:
    "When you do something they don't expect, they have to actually think about how to respond. Most people aren't equipped to actually think if their precious plan goes wrong." — Captain Zane
    • Zane likes this trope. Another of his pieces of flavour text is pithier:
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • An old staple of the game, starting with 2nd edition, is the Wild Mage. Conceptually, his casting power level is modified by a die roll whenever casting a spell, and each spell has a small chance of producing a "wild surge", which is something completely random from a long list. The original list had 100 entries, but various fan-made lists on the Internet are far longer. Then he gets a spell that does nothing except produce a random effect.
    • In 4th edition, this is severely toned down. The "Chaos Sorcerer" has numerous random effects (such as attacks that deal damage of a random element) but lacks true wild effects because they don't fit the strict ruleset, or because they would be disadvantageous to the caster. Usually a player character (and this can be highly frustrating to the other player characters), but there's nothing stopping the Dungeon Master from throwing one at you. The new Chaos Sorcerer has an element of unpredictability in most of his attacks. Heck, every attack you make has a 10% chance of moving everyone on the battlefield either toward you or away from you.
    • Before that, there was the Wand of Wonder, which was Wild Magic on a Stick. Best used when desperate... or bored.
    • The Wild Mage in D&D Miniatures also has the Wild Surge, but its effect simply modifies spell damage. Contrasted with the Green Slaad, a chaos monster whose spells also have random effects but could include fireballing your own army.
    • Speaking of Slaadi, as embodiments of pure Chaos they do everything this way. This should certainly include fighting. In 2nd Edition Planescape, Slaadi were discussed as having utterly chaotic personalities, but preferring to fight their enemies one-on-one in slugging matches just so each individual would prove how tough he was.
    • Planescape in its various expansions discussed how Confusion Fu is actually a weakness of the tanar'ri (demons). Their unpredictability meant they can't get together and make a plan against their enemies, as they go off and do whatever they felt like. Even a bad plan is better than disorder, and their enemies (the devils) usually have excellent plans. Every once in a while, the tanar'ri do something absolutely brilliant out of sheer chaos, but most of the times they simply rely on We Have Reserves.
    • The 3.5th edition sourcebook Complete Warrior includes "Drunken Master" as a Prestige Class. Among their abilities, Drunken Masters are very skilled with improvised weapons, can stagger into a fight to surprise their opponents, or waive and bob unpredictably to avoid blows.
    • In editions 1–3.5, an inexperienced player playing an illusionist will have trouble figuring out what to do with the class. A good illusionist will have the party's enemies chasing shadows, running into walls, falling off cliffs, and attacking their allies by mistake long before reaching 5th level. Unlike some Confusion Fu classes, the illusionist has to confuse his enemies with well-controlled and clever use of his powers, not rely on randomness.
    • The Grimalkin is a shapeshifter whose true form is a large blue-gray housecat, but which can turn into any animal close in size. When forced into combat, they go Perpetually Protean by changing shape every round, to confuse the opponent and make it difficult to adopt a strategy.
    • There is also a form of Confusion Fu that can result solely from the combat rules themselves. An attack can always hit on a natural 20 on a d20, however high the Armor Class of the opponent. Thus, when confronted by a foe whose Armor Class surpasses even what the best fighter of the group can touch (beyond using magic or other effects that never miss), the only mean to increase your chances of hitting is to increase the number of attacks. This means that some tactics, such as Multishot or Dual Wielding without the appropriate feat, usually considered sub-optimal because of the high penalties to hit they accrue, become the way to go. Likewise, most techniques that give additional attacks (such as flurry of blows, the Snap Kick feat, etc.) includes cumulative penalties to all attacks; it's usually a bad idea to use them in conjunction with each other as they reduce drastically the chances of hitting... except if you already need a natural 20 anyway. Likewise, other techniques normally reducing the chance to hit (such as Combat Expertise and Power Attack) can be added to the mix with no consequence, since it doesn't matter any more how much reductions you're accumulating. So, the most haphazard and amateurish the fighting, the higher the chances of making a telling blow (though that's still a suicidal prospect either way).
  • Zig-zagged in Burn Legend. While the completely random "pick a move arbitrarily" system tends to fade away as players gain more experience and begin planning out what counters they're likely to need next turn, randomly chosen moves still have their place — occasionally you'll pick a move that counters their move, when they thought they were countering yours. Of course, just as often you'll pick moves that have nothing to do with each other. Tennin tend to be the worst at this, since their combat style is heavily formalised.
  • Feng Shui has a martial arts style based upon consuming alcohol. Yes, that's right, consuming alcohol. Needless to say, some of those fights can get a little strange...
  • In the game Flash Duel, most characters have abilities that strengthen or debuff their opponents in a fantasy style sparing match. Lum's abilities plays a different game altogether. One ability allows the player to win for having a Poker Flush, or his other ability (out of three) gives your opponent a chance to forfeit the match to avoid losing the game!
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The flavor text for Spiraling Duelist alludes to this: "I never move the same way twice. The rotters can't grasp chaos."
    • From an actual gameplay sense, this can come up in tournaments thanks to so called 'rogue' decks. Every deck has things it can't deal with, so there's a 'sideboard' of 15 cards that can be swapped into the deck between games to help deal with the opponent's deck in any given match. Some players are able to devastate tournaments by using new strategies that players don't have a way to counter with their sideboard. Of course, the deck has to be powerful enough to beat the unsideboarded version of the top decks as well...
    • This also tends to be a favorite trick of Red, which can cast cards from the top of its library, transform creatures into other, random creatures and gain boosts based on random effects, such as coin flips. This can come as quite a wakeup call for an opponent expecting every Red deck to fall into its terminally predictable Attack! Attack! Attack! reputation.
  • Paranoia has the infamous Probability Grenade, which can and do end sessions in a TCK (that's Total Complex Kill, yup). The list, however, is so off the wall that it can only go here. You will learn to fear result 00 (which puts what happens entirely in the hands of the Game Master). note 
  • Pathfinder:
    • The Brawler class (a hybrid of the Fighter and Monk classes) more-or-less has this as its primary class feature. The Brawler has the ability as it levels up to temporarily gain access to Combat Feats it doesn't know, allowing an experienced Brawler to become an Instant Expert in tripping or grappling in one fight and pull an entire Monk fighting style out of nowhere in another. This allows the Brawler to be a very versatile and unpredictable fighter, and one the GM can't always anticipate.
    • Tumult dragons can switch elemental resistances in the middle of combat, and choose which elemental damage their breath weapon deals each time they use it.
  • Warhammer:
    • Orcs have the Animosity special rule, meaning that each turn there's a chance that any given greenskin mob might ignore orders and squabble amongst itself, shoot at or even charge a friendly unit making funny faces at them, or let loose a mighty "WAAAGH!" and charge at the enemy. If the army's general can't predict how it's going to behave, how can the enemy?
    • Warhammer's Random Number God seems to be the Horned Rat instead of Tzeench, the god of changes. Is that ratling gun going to fire more lead than an entire Empire battalion or explode into white hot fragments? Will the Warp Lightning cannon blow a hole in the battlefield or electrocute half your own side? These are the questions to keep your opponent on their toes.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Orks have the dreaded Shokk Attack Gun, which has a lengthy table for both critical failures and critical successes, meaning that whenever it fires something interesting is going to happen. Looted vehicles have a chance of jolting forward each turn when their drivers hit the wrong button. Hitting a ramshackle Trukk dead-on with a lascannon might make it clatter apart comically without injuring its occupants, or send the flaming wreck veering off like a missile. Madboyz might tear the enemy general apart with their bare hands or stand around picking grubs out of each others' noses...
    • If an Inquisitor calls in an orbital bombardment both sides get edgy, and not just because it's starship-grade ordnance being fired at the table. Because the targeting is taking place miles above the battlefield, accuracy is somewhat compromised, so the most you can say is that something within 24" of a landmark is about to have a very bad day.
    • Chaos Daemons deploy after the enemy army is done setting up, or to paraphrase Sun Tzu they can discern the enemy's form while remaining formless. Unfortunately when they do deploy only half of the Daemonic army starts out on the board, with the rest having a random chance of turning up each subsequent turn.
    • Deep Striking in general works out like this. You can set down those drop troops or tunneling monsters anywhere on the board, but there's a chance that they'll deviate from the point you designate, and if they try to land in impassible terrain or an enemy unit they either suffer a one-turn delay or Critical Existence Failure.
    • As a meta-example, certain players. Kids new to the hobby might have picked up whatever units they thought looked coolest (such as half-naked chicks wielding six-foot chainsaws) without having an inkling of what they're actually capable of. Other gamers might be trying out a wonky new army list, thrown together a kit almost at random, or are deliberately trying to baffle their opponents.
    • An in-universe example is found in the 5th Edition Necron codex — Imotekh the Stormlord is an incredibly skilled general, bordering on prescience of his opponents' tactics, represented in-game to make him three times more likely than anyone else to steal the initiative and take the first turn due to him out-thinking and countering his opponents' plans. However, as an enemy without a plan can never be out-planned, he will always fail to steal the initiative against Orks due to the sheer impossibility of second-guessing total anarchy.
    • On a strategic level, this is something that the Eldar are well known for. Their seers are skilled in reading the skein of fate to divine the future and heavily employ Combat Clairvoyance, both in personal combat and in planning their warhost's maneuvers. Since the smallest thing can have unexpectedly powerful effects on the future, this has the effect of giving the Eldar at war the appearance of being very random and impossible to predict, when in fact it is all part of a very carefully planned gambit.
    • Tzeentch crosses this with The Chessmaster. Tzeentch represents change, sometimes simply for its own sake, but he also happens to be the setting's ultimate planner. It is said that every action, no matter how random, is all part of Tzeentch's plan. Even the times when his forces lose terribly (which may have the effect of killing off a weaker champion so a greater one will rise, or overstretching a foe so they can be defeated by a different force later). As such, it seems to be impossible to beat Tzeentch because even a victory will be playing into his ultimate plan. Of course, authors can't seem to agree on what the ultimate goal of Tzeentch's plans are (or if he even has one), which means he's either the universe's greatest Magnificent Bastard or an esoteric Mad God. The fact that there is no shortage of confusion about whether Tzeentch is randomness incarnate, or whether that randomness is all part of a greater plan (and, thus, not random at all) is itself delightfully Tzeentchian, however, so it doesn't really matter.
    • The Alpha Legion of the Chaos Space Marines aren't known for much but they are known for their incredibly unorthodox tactics and reliance on secrecy and misinformation, on top of being deadly super soldiers. Dressing as the Enemy, TheMoles, Xanatos Speed Chess, propaganda, recruiting other groups to fight as catspaws, anything goes. This stems from their early rivalry with the Ultramarines, a highly orthodox force with the mantra "Information is victory"; the Alpha Legion's counter-argument was effectively "Why focus only on collecting information about your enemy? Spread misinformation about yourself and the enemy will never be able to beat you." Given how the ultimate clash between the two culminated with Gulliman outsmarting and crushing Alpharius' head underfoot, their theory didn't hold up very well. On the other hand, the Ultramarines themselves claim no knowledge or record of such an encounter, and there's other hints that the whole story is deliberate misinformation planted by the Alpha Legion themselves...
  • Arc dodgers in X-Wing Miniatures rely on this. The best arc-dodgers — Soontir Fel's TIE Interceptor and Fenn Rau's Concord Dawn Protectorate Starfighter — have both boost and barrel roll actions, making them really good at repositioning on the fly, and a high Pilot Skill, allowing them to see where the enemy goes before deciding how to reposition. Han Solo's "Heroes of the Resistance" version will have a similar effect; his ability to deploy anywhere outside of weapons range of enemy ships — at Pilot Skill 9, the highest unmodified PS in the game — means that wherever your opponent wants him to start, he won't; you'll almost always have at minimum half the table to deploy in.
    • The TIE Striker ace pilot Duchess can be remarkably slippery. The TIE Striker's unique Title, Adaptive Ailerons, means that unless it's stressed, it must move 1 straight or bank before carrying out its move. This means that it can start its formal move in any of three different places, and it has quite a variety of moves — you could, for example, bank left and follow up with a left-arcing Segnor's loop to move from being in front of your enemy to being beside them. So far, so good; however, Duchess has the additional benefit of being able to ignore the Ailerons if she pleases!

    Video Games 
  • The Japanese baseball game 98Koshien comes with an animation editor so players can customize their team's pitching animations. So much more needs to be said, but the words don't exist.
  • Absolver has this in the "Stagger" style, which is based heavily on real-world Drunken Boxing. The moves are unpredictable and strange to look at, and similarly are much harder to dodge or parry than the other, more normal jabs or spin kicks. Using the stance itself allows you to dodge attacks by stumbling out of the way, or even by falling into them to interrupt their combos!
  • Agents of Mayhem: The agents were specifically hired, despite all rational logic suggesting this is a horrible idea, because of their unpredictability. Gameplay-wise, you can switch characters with teleportation and change tactics in less than a quarter of a second, allowing you to combine the strengths of all characters in a single moment or just go crazy with random choices, preventing the enemy units from developing a cohesive strategy against all six interchangeable specialists.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: In the battle with Absalom, he displays a variety of abilities that have him instantly teleporting around the fighting area, summoning energy pillars from beneath the ground to deliver a brief attacks of red lightning as he pierces the floor.
  • Battle CAPacity has Kitsunoh and Fidgit. The former loves setting up traps with long-lasting projectiles and diagonal headbutts, while the second has insane combo ability with a long range launcher, an equally long range air catcher, and an airgrab.
  • Birth of the Federation: The Romulan intro states that this should be the strategy of the Romulan player.
    Misdirection is the key to survival. Never attack what your enemy defends, never behave as your enemy expects, and never reveal your true strengths. If knowledge is power, then to be unknown is to be unconquerable.
  • BlazBlue:
    • Calamity Trigger has the insane Eldritch Abomination Arakune, who fights much like you'd expect an insane blob-thing to fight. He can teleport, turn invisible, glide, fire out projectile clouds with random properties, and some of his moves are actually fake-outs for teleports. The game is made by the people who made Guilty Gear, home of the former Trope picture. Arakune is even more crazy than he is.
    • Now accompanied by Platinum the Trinity, who has multiple sub-weapons that come out random. Her randomness is limited by the fact that her next mode can be seen by both players, but anything beyond that is as random as Zappa's ghosts.
    • Central Fiction has its two newcomers:
  • Hanataro from Bleach: Shattered Blade is a Joke Character who was given a story mode to fight through. Because of his ability to trip at the slightest change in wind direction, his attacks are completely unpredictable. His sword attacks heal his enemy, and the best way to beat the story mode is to trip and roll into your opponent to damage them, then run away until the match timer is over. He's not meant to be taken seriously, but he's still unpredictable.
  • In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, Claptrap's VaultHunter.EXE ability is a Random Effect Spell that analyses the battlefield and randomly chooses an ability it deems appropriate for the situation, with certain abilities affecting other player characters. This can range from making him copy his current weapon and make him and his teammates fire uncontrollably to suddenly giving everyone rubber ducky inflatables that cause them to bounce uncontrollably. It's even brought up in a sidequest about the origins of the main four Vault Hunters, in which Jack is told that in order to make a Claptrap even somewhat combat-viable, he has to work with it's inherent stupidity rather than against it.
  • The Tower Defense game Canterlot Siege, Discord doesn't follow the path when he appears and walks around the map freely, making his path very difficult to plan for. In the third game, the Optional Boss randomly rearranges the positions of your towers when they appear.
  • In Crying Suns, specific squadrons have specific abilities. Boomer Drones explode, Ghost and Wraith Fighters cloak, Magneto Frigates phish, and so on. Prototype squadrons, on the other hand, can have any ability, making them extremely unpredictable.
  • Dark Souls: Players who are good at this can be a nightmare to face in PVP. For example, it's not unheard of for people to bring a weapon like a cestus, which is equipped to both hands when you two-hand it and can parry in the off-hand, then get a second copy and equip it in that off-hand, so you don't know when they're using the two-handed moveset and when they're able to parry. Some bosses are also good at it, despite the focus on readability in boss design; for example, the Twin Princes in Dark Souls III constantly teleport around the arena, and you don't know when they teleport if they're going to set up a way off and charge a big attack or if they're just going to drop on your head, sword outstretched.
  • Dawn of War 2: In "Last Stand" mode, the hero Ork Mekboy has two types of teleporter armor. The standard "Teleporta Pack" allows controllable teleporting within a certain range. The other is the "Mad Teleporta Pack"; this grants the Reactive Escape and Reactive Teleport traits. The former trait is a 15% chance to teleport the mekboy to a random nearby location when the Mekboy is hit by a melee attack whilst the latter is a 50% chance to teleport the attacker to a random nearby location when the Mekboy is hit by a melee attack. The result of this is that when fighting a wave primarily composed of melee troops both you and your opponents are being more or less constantly teleported around the arena with absolutely no control over it. Its worth noting that from a practical perspective this is probably not a very helpful piece of equipment as it is just as likely to throw you into danger as get you out of it.
    • This has improved even further lately with the "Juiced up tellyporta" accessory which adds the "Ported!!" trait. Now the act of teleporting anything causes it to explode at the end of its journey. This includes both enemies and yourself. So now not only do melee enemies get randomly teleported away but the majority instantly die at the end of it in an explosion. And if you yourself get teleported you blow up anything you teleport into.
  • Dead or Alive:
    • Brad Wong uses Drunken Boxing, making his movements indirect and unpredictable. Due to the nature of the counter system, making your character do this is one of the most significant skills.
    • Ayane's Mugen Tenshinryu Hajimon fighting style contains a lot of twirling and delayed attacks, making it difficult to tell when exactly her movements will actually hit you, which makes countering her a pain.
  • In Defense of the Ancients, most heroes have four skills; three normal and one ultimate. The Invoker hero has three "reagents", which grant minor buffs life increased speed or damage or regeneration, and Invoke, which grants a skill based on which reagents are active. Since there are ten possible combinations and the effects include summoning, buffing, disabling, creating temporary walls, four different attack spells (one with unlimited range), and turning invisible, it's very difficult to tell what an Invoker will do next. Since the Invoker is limited to having two skills readied at a time, it also makes him Difficult, but Awesome.
  • In Depth, newer shark players often have poor control, and newer divers often have similiar issues with aiming. Both tend to make up for these short-comings with enthusiasm. Thus, shark players can be surprised by a newbie diver bold enough to chase after them, and divers may have difficulty when a newbie shark is lunging and dashing around the map with no rhythm or reason.
  • Dicey Dungeons:
    • The Final Boss changes their equipment every turn. Checking them is crucial in their boss fight because their Judgment attack will only deal Scratch Damage on specific party members, and its conditions change each time.
    • Crystalina and the Mimic have moves that generate random attacks each time they're used.
  • Kefka in Dissidia Final Fantasy. He doesn't shoot fireballs at you; he tosses out fireballs that zig-zag to hit from the sides, or stop and change direction at random. He doesn't shoot an ice block at you; he shoots an ice block that stops partway through the air, then explodes into shrapnel. His meteors don't hit you, they hit around you and fly at you after bouncing on the ground. His EX Mode ability makes all of his attacks even crazier; his fireballs multiply after being thrown, that ice shrapnel homes in you on a second time after the initial shatter, and those meteors bounce in place when they land before zooming at you. There's a reason his fighting style is dubbed "Mad Mage" and others calling his attacks being hit with magical awesome.
    • The sequel, Dissidia 012, gave this attribute to Gilgamesh. With every melee attack, he picks a random weapon out of eight, each with varying effects. The Naginata has increased attack range, Masamune gives you double EX Force from hits, Excalibur does double damage, Excalipoor does one damage with every hit, and so on. However, unlike Kefka, Gilgamesh becomes more predictable in EX Mode, choosing a set of weapons and sticking with it until he reverts to his normal form.
  • While Divekick completely averts this (two buttons — diving and kicking), it also plays it straight with many a characters's skills. Ranging from using Rocket Boots, Big Head Mode, Ditto Fighter, and more, it's rather difficult to know who's the more workable character. Lampshaded by Johnny Gat of all people in his ending, where he claims that all of the confusion is from the other fighters.
  • In the online MMORPG Dofus, there's a class based on doing damage on the roll of a die or the flip of a coin called Ecaflip's Coin. Two attacks even go out and heal the target after it damages it.
  • The Rogue class in Dragon Age II, even ignoring their skillset, have an unpredictable, acrobatic range to their attacks that make them impossible to counter. Adding in Subterfuge, Sabotage and Scoundrel gives them more means to sow confusion and keep on the move in battle.
  • Nanashi's move set in Duel Savior Destiny is mostly based around the fact that she's basically impossible to kill and can do fun stuff like throw her head at people and pop tombstones out of the ground. These and some of her other abilities make her very difficult to predict both in terms of gameplay and outside it, where she manages to score a victory over Lily and then Taiga without either having any idea what she just did.
  • In Elements, majority of cards in entropy deck seems to be geared for pure chaos. It has two attacking spells — one that inflicts random negative effect on a target creature, and one that does it to every creature, including your own. It has a spell that can turn target creature into abomination (which, depending on the creature can be an improvement or an impairment), turn it into randomly chosen creature with a randomly chosen skill (which can be something weak and useless or a powerful dragon with ability to multiply) or just kill it — and resut, is once again, chosen randomly. It has spells, that can turn situation on its head — like spell that gives ability to destroy buildings and artifacts to a creatures with a weak attack (thus making small and weak creatures dangerous) or a spell, that makes target's attack negative, meaning that its attacks will heal you instead of damaging (thus turning a danger into the sourse of health). And on top of all that, entropy artifact weapon is a magic sword that randomly converts some of oponent's quanta (this game equivalent of Mana) into other elemental types — and since most of the cards require certain amount of specific elemental quanta to be used, it makes strategizing pointless, since at any moment resourses, needed to cast a spell or summon a creature, can be transformed into something useless. As a result, when other decks use some kind of strategy, which can be anticipated and countered, entropy is constantly changing the course of the fight, both intentionally and unintentionally, rendering any strategy useless.
  • In the doujin Fighting Game Eternal Fighter Zero:
    • Mayu Shiina has this as her fighting style, as she uses her animal-like moves to fight, and incorporates a lot of acrobatics in her moves and jump and seemingly random directions, to finally dive kick her opponent, or grab her and pound her into the ground.
    • Nayuki Minase counts to a lesser extent, as she fights mostly in a sleepy state, and can increase her offense and mobility as she consumes strawberry jam.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • Archer lives and breathes this trope. He prefers Dual Wielding swords in melee combat, rather than using the bow every other Servant expects him to rely on. His dress, weapons, and abilities do not match those of any known mythological hero, his personality is decisively non-heroic, and he has a magus-level knowledge of magical phenomenon, making it impossible to identify him. On top of this, he is shown to use multiple Noble Phantasms belonging to very different myths, in some cases even sundering the Phantasms as part of his attacks, normally a near-unthinkable, one-time Taking You with Me attack — and no explanation as to where he acquired his Phantasms is forthcoming. Archer's preferred fighting style itself is also refined to inflict as much confusion as possible. He deliberately leaves openings in his guard so that he can control and counter where his opponents will strike, which has the added effect of making it difficult to tell if a slip up is exactly that or just a ploy. The swords that he wields he will throw like boomerangs at random trajectories, only to pull new ones out of thin air. Just about all Servants have a trick or two up their sleeve, but Archer is the only one who games his every opponent from the get go. Due to this, none of the other Servants can predict him, often giving him the advantage even though his low physical stats mean he should have no ability in melee combat. As it turns out, he's not even a Heroic Spirit from any mythology at all. He's a Counter-Guardian from the future. And his Noble Phantasm is actually a Reality Marble rather than a mythological weapon.
    • Kuzuki is master of an unconventional martial art that incorporates odd, hooked and snake-like movements: while this makes it less energy effective, attempting to dodge or block attacks as if they were straight punches from a "normal" style allows the user to hook back and pierce the opponents' defence, landing telling blows. Once the enemy sees through the unusual movement pattern, however, the style loses its effectiveness.
    • Gilgamesh, the Archer of the previous Holy Grail War, has access to a Hyperspace Arsenal full of the prototypes of every hero's Noble Phantasm. Because he's a collector who's never trained in melee combat, when he chooses to go into melee he makes up for his lack of traditional skill by switching his weapons in between strikes and utilizing different magical effects in the process. This allows him to catch even Saber off-guard and force her to retreat from melee. When they have a rematch later, Saber realizes that she can only parry his weapons, since blocking would be suicidal as long as she doesn't know what the weapons' abilities are.
  • For Honor:
    • Everything about fighting games in general (see above) can be applied here. The game also has feints and delays like MORDHAU. Furthermore, some combos can be continued by various moves which you cannot predict at all, an if you are wrong in this case, you will be punished with some amount of guarateed damage. It is almost a Random Number God issue if the opponent does not spam one variant mindlessly.
    • Sometimes you can easily hit an expeirenced player by spamming light attacks without even changing the stance. This works only because of how unbelievably stupid it is, and it is possible to miss up to ten hits, delievered in such a style.
    • Valkyr is a Low-Tier Letdown, who is believed to be underpowered and useless. Eventually this led to valkyrs being so rarely picked that most players just forgot how to counter them.
  • Mesmers in Guild Wars 2 are considered one of the strongest classes in PvP due to their MO being screwing with your head. A properly built Mesmer can go in and out of stealth while dropping flawless clones of themselves nearly every second, guaranteeing that if you lose sight of them for even a second, odds are you won't find the real one until the clones all bum rush you for a devastating suicide bomb, followed before even more clones. It also doesn't help that all of their "shatter" skills do different thing, it could be damage, a stun, make the mesmer dodge all attacks, or inflict confusion (which makes the target hit themselves), Shatter's four explosions have absolutely no visual variance in which one it's going to be.
    • Engineers have a variant of this in that they can change their playstyle wildly through their kit abilities. They can go from a rifle-wielding sniper to a close-range juggernaut with a flamethrower to a back-line support character with only a couple of skill uses. Figuring what kind of Engineer you're up against is pretty much impossible to tell until you're locked in combat. And if they're a Holosmith, it only gets worse as now they have another massive damage kit they can turn on at will that doesn't take up a skill bar slot.
  • Guilty Gear:
    • Faust. Three of his moves are explicitly random, one super involves swimming through concrete, and his Dust (a universal popup attack) has him become a tornado, change into a child with a baseball bat, smash the opponent, and tornado back. In XX, Venom challenges him to a fight on the grounds that he needs to train against someone who doesn't follow human logic.
    • Zappa. He's an ordinary man, who happens to be possessed by no fewer than seven different ghosts, and they do the fighting by using him as a puppet, leading to incredibly strange attacks and movements. He also randomly summons these ghosts one at a time, changing his moveset as he goes. While the player has no way of telling what ghost might pop up next, neither does the opponent.
  • Zagreus of Hades's combat strategy is heavily dependent on the blessings of his fickle Olympian family and whatever loot he manages to pick up during an escape. While this often puts him at the mercy of the Random Number God, it also makes it impossible for his opponents predict his strategy and develop good countermeasures for it. Meanwhile, Zagreus has all the chances in the world to get a read on their tactics and eventually overcome them despite being weaker and more fragile.
  • Haunting Ground: Daniella loves employing this tactic against Fiona; when you're hiding from her, she will wait outside of the room you're hiding in to catch you leaving, leave and then re-enter a second later when the "COAST CLEAR" text appears, and, if she's really in the mood to freak out Fiona, hide in your hiding spots between chases. When you fight her openly, she will stop at random times for no reason (or sometimes, to scream or laugh), sometimes she'll suddenly break out into a run, whack the floor near Fiona — making her flinch and therefore leave herself open to further attack — or start walking with robotic movements that can only be intended to weird the player out and distract them. Or, as a worst case scenario, she'll knock Fiona down, get on top of her and slit her throat. Game Over. No matter what, the average player will soon learn that the best strategy when facing her is to put a great distance between her and Fiona, and keep it that way.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Most Nobodies in have some degree of unpredictability, due to their random stretching and boneless flailing. Organization XIII members (in fact, any Nobodies resembling regular humans) don't have this advantage. Not that they need it.
    • The Mysterious Figure. You never know just how he'll two-shot you. Maybe he'll do his spear-whip two times in a row, or maybe he'll do his blade combos after it, or maybe his tornado attack. Or perhaps he'll use Megaflare and then some unavoidable thing before you can cast Curaga. Or maybe he'll just do a random combo of all of these while having ten copies of himself running around the field doing each their own thing as little balls of light fly around trying to stab you with more spears, lagging your PSP to high-heaven.
    • Rinzler, who has a rather weird flipping attack style that hits at strange times (and hits hard), which is not helped by the changing gravity. No wonder he's That One Boss.
    • Kingdom Hearts II: Many of the Reaction Commands against bosses involve Sora befuddling his opponents and redirecting their attacks or stealing their weapons.
  • League of Legends:
    • While he's fairly straightforward in other aspects, Wukong has one move that uses this heavily: Decoy. It turns him invisible, but leaves a copy of him that explodes after a few seconds. If Wukong's opponents are not paying much attention he can make them just waste attacks and spells on his copy then get hurt by the following explosion. Or he can use the period of invisibility to get to cover, change directions after casting it to throw pursuers off his trail, not change directions because they'll think you did, and variations thereupon, or not cast it at all. The ability looks the same as if you had suddenly stopped moving, so some people will stop and their enemy will ignore the real Wukong to chase after an imaginary invisible one.
    • Also present in juking that any champ can do, changing directions at unpredictable times to throw off aim, or times where it's predictable that the enemy would attack (preemptively dodging as soon as you're in range is a fairly effective example), or changing direction the moment the enemy loses sight of you all help to dodge attacks and confuse the enemy.
    • Shaco is very adept at confusing the hell out of his enemies. He can clone himself, and the duplicate can attack but cannot use abilities. If the clone dies and he is in a tough spot, he can turn invisible — possibly to escape or to kill an unsuspecting player. He also does increased damage when attacking from behind, delivering a healthy dosage of Paranoia Fuel as well.
    • Similarly, LeBlanc, The Deceiver, has a kit that is designed to invoke this in the right hands. Her passive, Mirror Image, activates when she drops below 40% health. She stealths for one second, and when she reappears, she spawns a controllable clone of herself that deals no damage, forcing enemies to play Spot the Imposter, let her escape, or kill them both, which is unfeasible at lower levels and may result in wasted cooldowns and mana. She also has an ability called Distortion, which dashes her forward a short distance, leaving a pad on the ground. Within 4 seconds, she can reactivate the ability to teleport back to her starting pad. Enemies now have to choose whether to aim their attacks at where she dashed to or where she started from, which a savvy or quick LeBlanc can use to her advantage. Add to that her ultimate, Mimic, which allows her to copy her last used ability, and now you have many more possibilities for jukes and tricks. Add to that the fact that it's possible to reduce the cooldowns of both those abilities by up to 40% and you have the means to create a veritable Teleport Spam.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Zant is somewhere between this and Unskilled, but Strong, due to his being a Ganon-powered Psychopathic Manchild. In Hyrule Warriors, however, he plays this as straight as it gets, able to fire a Magic Missile Storm from atop a totem pole one moment and Spin Attack through armies the next. This makes him Difficult, but Awesome as a PC and (often) That One Boss as an opponent; as the former, staying in one combat mode too long causes him to mess up his attacks and get stunned, and as the latter, baiting him into doing this is the only reliable way to make him expose his Weak Point Gauge.
    • You're practically forced to fight this way in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword; sword-wielding enemies are very good at blocking deliberate sword strikes from any direction. To hit them, you must either fool them into thinking you're swinging in one direction and then actually swing in a different direction (which is pretty tricky), or swing randomly like a maniac until you hit them.
  • In Lufia: The Legend Returns, Ruby has a few moves that rely on pure chance, such as "Fortune Dice", which simply has randomized effects, and "Double Up", which makes you play a card-guessing game to increase the power of the attack — a good run can be incredibly devastating, but guess wrong even once and you get a laughably weak attack. Of course, she's a habitual gambler whom you meet in a casino.
  • Mass Effect 2: This trope is directly discussed by Joker and EDI. While EDI can control the ship all by herself, the Normandy can achieve maximum performance if Joker is manning the helm.
    • In the previous game, you can get this effect from the Mako APC. The handling is so bad that even you probably have no idea where you're going next, so the enemy are going to have serious trouble anticipating your next movement.
  • This is a key reason for why Shadow Man in Mega Man 3 is considered one of the game's toughest bosses. On paper, his pattern looks fairly simple: jump a few times, and then either slide in for Collision Damage or toss his Shadow Blades. However, while the Shadow Blade has a short telegraph for him drawing it, the slide doesn't—he does it the frame he lands. And what's more, the safest response for these two moves is opposite: you dodge his slide by jumping, and you dodge the Shadow Blades by sliding yourself and going under them (you can try jumping, but this is much less safe due to the large hitboxes of the Blades). Because of this, when he lands, you essentially have to either recognize what he's doing and react immediately, or simply guess. It doesn't help that his weakness requires you to get close to him, when getting close forces your reactions to go even tighter.
  • In the Mega Man Battle Network games that involve a light/dark system, one side effect of going dark is the ability to pull random Battle Chips out of goddamn nowhere. When you fight a DS Navi (most often MegaMan's own dark side), you can be moments from winning, only to get slaughtered by a GigaChip. But since this is random, DS Navis are just as likely to use low-level chips or miss you completely. If you choose to go dark yourself, you get the same ability in a modified form — your dark side will take over when your HP runs out, fighting randomly for a while. In this case you'd better hope for good random draws, because you come out of berserk mode with just 1 HP.
  • Claymores in Modern Warfare online are only dangerous when placed at precise angles around corners... or in the middle of the ground with no rhyme or reason.
  • MORDHAU gives you plenty of tools to be unpredictable with, including feints that stop your attacks before you commit, switching the attack halfway through and delaying/accelerating the attack through hitbox manipulation, among many others. All these are very much key to duels, because if a competent enemy knows exactly what you're doing while they can still parry you simply won't get to harm them. Even the slowest of weapons can be made deadly with a little unpredictability (and are known for tripping up a lot of people that parry too early).
  • Havok from Mortal Kombat: Deception and Armageddon is basically Mortal Kombat's answer to Voldo: A rotting corpse that rotates its limbs and neck, making it extremely unpredictable and visually unsettling.
  • Mutant Football League features the "Strawberry Fields" dirty trick, which involves lacing the opposing team's water cooler with drugs. Upon the snap, the offensive team will experience randomized controls, slower moving players, and the screen will be washed in a multi-colored field like an acid trip.
  • Nintendo Wars:
    • Sonja and to a lesser extent Adder both work this way. At least in competitive PVP, since the AI doesn't care about such things and can often see around them. Sonja hides her HP from the enemy and, in Black Hole Rising, has stronger counter-attacks. This means that ?HP tank your attacking could be the 2HP tank you attacked two turns ago... or it could be a fresh 10HP tank that's going to annihilate you with its stronger counterattack. That mech in the mountains you're leaving alone because it's probably at full health and would hit back too hard could only have 1HP left and have been plopped there for extra vision until it dies. You just never know.
    • Adder has no day-to-day abilities, but a very fast-charging set of CO Powers that boost his movement range by either 1 or 2 spaces and (like all CO Powers) also give a modest 10% attack boost. He can pretty reasonably activate his power every other turn or so, and thus his attack power, movement range, and attack ranges are constantly changing. It's just impossible to gauge him.
  • Omega Strikers: Finii's modus operandi. This is especially apparent with her Misdirection ability which fires a projectile that almost immediately changes direction.
  • Pokémon:
    • Some Pokémon do this. Mew can learn all TM and HM moves in the game and has the stats to do fine in whichever archetype it needs. Smeargle takes this even further; while its stats are much worse, it learns Sketch, which permanently copies a move and can be used to learn almost any move that exists in the game. (Save Sketch itself and Chatter)
    • In competitive battling, the Pokémon capable of this typically have reasonable offenses in either spectrum and/or defenses that they have multiple possible competitive movesets which, in extreme cases, require different counters. Due to the guesswork involved, you might inevitably lose at least one Pokémon to them due to learning the moveset one turn too late.
      • Mega Charizard takes this to a different level, having two different Mega Evolutions each with different abilities, weaknesses, and stat spreads. Guessing wrongly commonly leads to Mega Charizard X setting up a Swords Dance or Dragon Dance to sweep with, or Mega Charizard Y obliterating you with a sun-empowered STAB Fire Blast.
    • Similarly, Arceus's ability, Multitype, allows it to become any one of the 18 elemental Pokémon types, providing that it is holding the corresponding Plate or Z-Crystal for each type (i.e. Draco Plate/Dragonium Z for Dragon-type). Made even better with the introduction of the Legend Plate, which gives Arceus the ability to change type when using Judgment based on the selected opponent's type. Silvally, an artificial Pokémon based on Arceus in-universe, can likewise change its type (though it uses Memory discs instead).
    • Zoroark, introduced in Pokémon Black and White, evokes this at times, as its ability, Illusion, pushes players to carefully discern whether they are actually facing the Pokémon they are seeing or a Zoroark in disguise instead.
    • Metronome is an attack capable of causing the Pokémon to use any available move in the game. The move Assist has a similar but more controlled effect, as the Pokémon using it will pull off a random move from any of its party member's current movepools. Sleep Talk is a very minor example of this, as it uses one of the user's other moves at random.
      • Played with in the anime, where May's Munchlax and Skitty probably won more contests with Metronome and Assist (respectively) than without.
    • The Hidden Abilities Protean and Libero give three starter Pokémon lines - Froakie, Scorbunny, and Sprigatito - the ability to do this at will. Greninja is normally a Water/Dark-type, Cinderace is a pure Fire-type, and Meowscarada is normally Grass/Dark-type; however, Protean and Libero allow them to change into the type of whatever move they're about to use. Greninja and Meowscarada can outspeed about 97% of the entire Pokedex*, and have ridiculously diverse movepools, which means they can pretty much turn into any type that would screw over their opponent the most, especially opponents with a type advantage over their normal types. Cinderace is a tad slower than the other two, but its physical attacks hit harder, especially its trademark moves Pyro Ball and G-Max Fireball (and the latter ignores abilities, so leave Flash Fire at home).
      • The abilities got nerfed for Generation IX, in that they only work once per switch-in and then are null until the next switch... but that's a small comfort for their foes. All three of these Pokémon can learn U-Turn, which allows them to deal damage and then switch out for another Pokémon before their action ends (and after the opponent has already chosen their attack); this means that they can evacuate before anyone tries to take advantage of their changed type, have another Pokémon take the incoming hit, and then come in again fresh for a new type change.
      • Greninja can also pull a similar trick as Charizard in that it can also transform into Ash-Greninja if it has Battle Bond as an ability instead. This allows for a mind game where the opponent needs to determine if its a Greninja that can change its typing or one that can access a form similar to a Mega. Sadly, Battle Bond also got nerfed in Gen IX, now providing a one-time stat boost for its Attack, Special Attack, and Speed.
    • Necrozma can mess with a player, especially Dusk Mane Necrozma. Though it can use Ultra Burst to become Ultra Necrozma whenever it wants to (provided it holds Ultranecrozium Z), thanks to its bulk it can safely set up status buffs first. An opponent can be fooled into thinking it holds something else, only to face up against a giant light dragon. Likewise, anticipating its transformation can lead to a STAB Sunsteel Strike mowing down their Fairy-type.
    • Urshifu has two forms: Rapid Strike and Single Strike. The two forms have slightly different type combinations, different appearances, and different Signature Moves. However, the sprite used in Team Preview in Pokémon Sword and Shield, where you'll select the Pokémon to bring to the battle, is just ambiguous enough that it could be either form, forcing anyone facing a team with Urshifu in it to guess if it's Rapid Strike or Single Strike. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet have more detailed, updated sprites, but the game will display Rapid Strike Urshifu on Team Preview regardless of what form is actually present on the team, so opponents will still need to keep guessing and hope they guessed correctly.
    • Every Max Move and G-Max Move in Pokémon Sword and Shield come in physical and special variants, but the two variants look exactly the same. This can be used to your advantage if you want to conceal which sort of attacker your Pokémon actually is.
    • The Terastallize mechanic of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet allows Pokémon to temporarily change its type to its "Tera" type. Normally, this type matches one of the Pokémon's natural types. However, it's entirely possible for a Pokémon's Tera type to be completely different from any of its regular types. While Terastallized, if the Pokémon uses moves that match its Tera type, it gets a power boost as if it matched the Pokémon's actual type. Also, the Terastal Pokémon still gets a boost from moves matching it's original types, even if it doesn't match the Tera type, and if the move matches both the Tera type and an original type, then the move is boosted even further. Finally, the new move Tera Blast, when used by a Terastallized Pokémon, always matches the Tera type of the Pokémon using it and always uses the Pokémon's strongest attack stat. Terastallization has so many different utilities, from removing weaknesses, to providing unexpected type coverage, to boosting up an already powerful move even further, that it's hard to predict how it will be used in any given battle. The Indigo Disk DLC adds the "Stellar" Tera Type, which keeps the Pokémon's original typing for defensive purposes, but boosts moves of every type once per type and makes the aforementioned Tera Blast super-effective against any Terastallized Pokémon.
    • Showderp is a group of competitive Pokemon players that specializes in this, with varying degrees of success.
    • Pokémon GO has a more restricted battle system where Pokemon only get one fast move and two charged moves, but there still are some examples of Pokemon with wide movepools to confound the opponent. Apart from the aforementioned Mew, Hypno is a good example. Normally, removing the opponent's two shields (that block charge moves at the user's discretion) involves tricky mind games, which Hypno does well with access to the elemental punches that gives it unusually wide theoretical coverage. Not shielding against Hypno runs the risk of eating a one-hit KO or a huge chunk of damage if it so happens to have the appropriate move.
    • Pokémon Unite: Clefable, who has the aforementioned Metronome as its Signature Move, brings elements of it to its Unite move, Wonder Wish: The first part is a reliable and significant mass heal, but right after that, Clefable gets a single-use, use-it-or-lose-it move chosen randomly from a list which can be unleashed on the enemy. Among others, you might hold up a Block to keep the enemy at bay, you might smack them with a Hyper Beam, or (true to form) you might just end up with Explosion - which isn't always an instant self-KO, but still isn't pleasant for anyone involved.
  • Poker Night at the Inventory has a pretty good poker AI for three of its opponents, but Max is the exception: he doesn't know the rules to poker, and he occasionally suggests that he doesn't even look at the cards in his hand. Because of this, about half the time, his AI will basically be an A.I. Roulette. But since this is a poker game, this is actually works for Max; it makes him a very difficult read since nobody has any idea what the hell he's doing, especially given his comparatively subtle tells when he focuses and does start playing the game correctly.
  • Jack in Power Stone. He walks on all fours with knifes in his hands and feet and has surprisingly long reach despite his main weapon being daggers. His Power Stone form has the longest non-projectile reach and has giant chainsaw hands with unique combos.
  • Punch-Out!!: There are two in the Wii version:
    • Aran Ryan. He has no "idle animation" like the other opponents and never holds still, and slides all about the ring throwing in random punches. Also unlike every other fighter it's impossible to land a combo on him unless you counter him mid-attack. He's also a foul stinking cheat and incorporates headbutts, elbow strikes, horseshoes in his gloves and perhaps most blatantly of all a boxing glove on a rope that he swings around like a flail, into his attacks. Also, he's fucking crazy.
    • Donkey Kong beats even Don Flamenco in the taunt-and-counter department, with multiple taunts, each with their own counter-attacks, and a lot of his attacks have similar build-ups. And sometimes he'll just accidentally hit himself in the face and give you a free star.
  • Rising Thunder:
    • Crow can create an area in which he is invisible for a few seconds, making it literally impossible for the enemy to tell what his next attack or two will be. He also has an arcing projectile which can be throw different distance with an animation that looks the same until the thing leaves his hand.
    • Talos has two special Grapple Moves that pull the enemy in and have armor. One only grabs and enemy on the ground, the other only in the air, pressuring the enemy into a guessing game of whether to attack from the front or try to jump over him.
  • RuneScape has a small version of this; the Vyrewatch are a specific enemy that are normally undefeatable; it's said that they are able to read your mind so that they can predict your moves. Thus, you have to use an unpredictable weapon to land a strike on them. The Ivandis flail is a weapon which can only be controlled in a general sense — "swing it at that guy". Even the wielder can't tell where the blow will land, or from what angle, so the predictive telepathy is worse than useless.
    • Oddly, the more Vyrewatch you kill with the flail, the more skilled you become with it... but counterintuitively, this improves the flail's efficacy, rather than allowing you (and thus the telepathic Vyrewatch) to predict its movement better. A true straight playing of Confusion Fu would have the flail become slowly less effective as its wielder gained experience with it — green recruits would be the best Vyre slayers, predictable veterans would be dead meat.
      • It's entirely possible that the user's body gets more accustomed to using the flail properly, but the user's thoughts amount to little more than "swing stick, kill Vyrewatch". Being able to read a mind is pointless if the body is acting on successful previous experiences without thought.
    • A later quest introduced Blisterwood, grown from a special tree deliberately created to exploit the vampyres' weaknesses — weapons made from the wood shift constantly and randomly, out of the wielder's control. Since the wielder never knows exactly what weapon they're going to be working with for the next five seconds, the vampyre they're killing won't either.
  • Dali=Dali in the mecha fighting game Schmeiser Robo pilots a Walker whose gimmick is fighting upside down. Some of his moves involve spinning wildly.
  • Peacock from Skullgirls is an Ax-Crazy Toon who uses a huge variety of weapons and absurd objects pulled out of Hammerspace to attack her foe with. She pulls out pies, Bang Flag Guns, mallets, chainsaws and more for close-range hits. She shoots Abnormal Ammo out of her revolver, tosses walking bombs around, and can pull out a full-fledged cannon for long-ranged hits. On top of that, she has a veritable cornuciopia of random items she can summon from the sky to fall on her foe, from flower pots to pianos to steamrollers and more. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Soul Series:
    • Voldo. Very few characters in the series can keep up a volley of attacks at an opponent while facing the opposite direction. Or while prone. And then there's his variety of interesting grab attacks.
    • Ditto with Yoshimitsu. Yoshimitsu's repertoire includes propeller-based flight, teleportation, healing himself from the Lotus Position, Seppuku, spinning until dizzy, using his swords as stilts or pogo sticks, and a health-draining face grab, to name a few. Sometimes several of the above occur at once, and the health-drain also unlocks limited usage of a small move pool consisting of an attack borrowed from each Tekken character.
    • Also applies to Maxi: he has seven different stances and different moves from them, making him difficult to read.
    • Nearly half of Xianghua's style revolves around the use of feints, counter stances, and evasive maneuvers to either avoid attack, or position herself to attack. Her counter stances are purposely designed to make her appear open to attack and are usually accompanied by a taunt to bait the opponent, but they're recognized by the brief purple glow of her sword. If they fall for it, she'll auto-impact their attack and immediately follow up with an auto-counter (where she'll say: "Gotcha!"). And she can take it a step further, since many of her attacks can be delayed, or cancelled (which is indicated by "Just kidding!") to throw off their timing.
    • While all of the aforementioned characters are using unconventional stances to make their movements hard to read, nobody epitomizes this trope in Soul Calibur more than Lord Geo "Le Bello" Dampierre, a con artist with a pair of punching daggers appearing in Broken Destiny and V. Dampierre's damage output is pitiful compared to most characters, his range is practically nil, and he tends to take a lot of damage from attacks. What Dampierre has going for him, however, is how utterly bizarre his attacks are. A number of his moves involve him hurting himself and falling over, but Dampierre is one of the only characters who's at his most dangerous sprawling on the ground; characters unfamiliar with his fighting style are likely to eat several dangerous low-line attacks or Dampierre's extremely long and surprisingly damaging attack throw. While virtually all of Dampierre's moves look utterly ridiculous, he can prove himself a Lethal Joke Character very quickly if someone just pays attention to him moonwalking, stubbing his toe during a kick, or Russian dancing to air-juggle rather than the damage or ring-outs this can cause.
    • Charade from II mimics a random fighter every round. So does Inferno (plus a few exclusive moves,) only with all the flames covering it it can make it harder for his opponent to see who he's mimicking.
    • You'd be surprised for a character with a BFS to be this but thanks to his varied Stance System, Siegfried Schtauffen can effectively blitz an opponent with a wide variety of attacks by rapidly switching between his 4 different stances and mixing up the attacks deployed from them that keep the foe constantly guessing and error-prone.
  • Splatoon, where the player race can swim through their own color of ink including up walls and through grates, is full of this. Besides the obvious:
    • Swimming over obstacles instead of around them can be a simple way to catch an enemy unawares. Some abilities, like Swim Speed Up and Ninja Squid, allow you to use swimming more effectively in combat.
    • The Inkbrush has fairly pathetic range and damage, but makes up for it by having some of the best mobility options in the game. Thanks to its versatile sub and special, it can also switch between long- and short-range on a whim, output bursts of damage that can splat an opponent thrice-over, jump in and out of combat as the user pleases, clear the objective with two bombs and a Splashdown, and take on almost any weapon in the game with a little creativity.
    • Brellas are able to attack for chip damage (which is still fairly high), defend and support teammates, making them invaluable for Ranked battles. Their subs and specials are often more support-focused, allowing them to hinder the enemy or make a strong push in some gamemodes.
    • The Bamboozler is a charger, which are usually sniping weapons, but it only deals 80 damage on a fully charged shot, making it unable to OHKO. On the other hand, it has the fastest charge rate of any charger, and is the only charger with a constant range for charged and tap-shots. This makes it act more like a revolver than a sniper, since a single charged shot and a tap-shot is enough to score a kill. Its sub is a sliding bomb which bounces around before exploding, but hitting an enemy with the bomb itself deals exactly enough damage that following with a charged shot is a sure kill.
    • This is the Signature Style of the weapons produced by Foil, a manufacturer introduced in Splatoon 2. Except for the Bubble Blower, each of their weapons has two forms that the user can switch between at will, and using one form when the opponents expect the other is key to using them well. Both the Squeezer and the Flingza Roller have a fast, short-range form and a slow, long-range form, which can set opponents up for misdirection as long as you don't make it obvious. Foil also makes the Baller, a Special Weapon that's ordinarily a rolling ball that deals Collision Damage... until it explodes and inflicts a one-hit knockout on any opponents caught in the blast radius.
    • While it's not manufactured by Foil, the Ballpoint Splatling is functionally very similar to their style. Splatlings can only shoot via Charged Attacks, but unique to the Ballpoint is that its range, damage, and fire rate change depending on how charged it is. Contrary to what logic may suggest, a full charge with a Ballpoint Splatling will actually result in a shorter range than a light charge, but as the charge unwinds, it will switch from one set of attributes to whatever is the next lighter one until it runs out.
    • Bloblobbers shoot out four bouncy projectiles each time you press the trigger button. These projectiles can bounce off walls, and if you change your angle as they emerge from the weapon, they'll travel at different angles too. As a result, it's very hard to fight someone using a Bloblobber if there are a lot of walls close by.
    • The Goo Tuber and the Nautilus are weapons that must be Charged to attack, but they can hold their charges for a long time while you're hiding or traveling in ink (in which you're practically invisible). They're not particularly fast or powerful, but they do allow for devastating ambushes. That is, from the perspective of an opponent, a skilled Goo Tuber or Nautilus user could potentially be hiding anywhere.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Dhalsim is quite possibly the first fighting game character to use this style, as his various angled jump attacks, stretchy limbs and different teleportation moves make him great at screwing with the opponent's head.
    • Gen from Street Fighter onward has two different fighting styles that he switch on the fly, even when getting attacked, jumping, attacking, etc.. The fighting styles not only change his attacks, but also change his jump and walk physics, give him multiple supers (four at a time in Street Fighter IV), and change his standing and crouching hurtboxes. If a Gen player uses him just right (much, much easier said than done), the opponent will never be able to predict his next move.
    • In later versions, we're given Crimson Viper, El Fuerte and Abel, all introduced in Street Fighter IV, and each one whose primary gameplay revolves entirely around scoring a single knockdown and keeping your opponent in an endless guessing game.
    • Don't be fooled by the grappler get-up and moveset, because R.Mika in Street Fighter V possesses some of the craziest mix-up potential in the game. That's saying something considering that two of the game's charactersnote  can freaking teleport. How is this possible you ask? Simple, her Assist Characternote , when summoned, will come crashing on you with no input as to where the attack will come from. Guess wrong, and kiss 20-50% of your health goodbye. Guess right, and the insane blockstun will guarantee that Mika gets to perform either a mix-up, or a command grab, or just about anything.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Mr. Game & Watch and Wario, thanks to their low-frame animations. Also, Game & Watch has genuine unpredictability in his Judgment attack.
    • Luigi, starting in Melee, is a mild case of this. Although he looks like Mario, his moves function notably differently, throwing many people off. Several of his moves are designed to come from nowhere, his Green Missile can randomly launch him at killer speeds, and several of his moves (most notably his forward+A on the ground) are designed to be longer than they look. His floaty nature and low traction make him hard to combo. Finally, his Final Smash move in Brawl is just plain weird, inflicting random status ailments on enemies (and inflicting sitar music on all the players).
    • Sonic is another mild case; the unpredictability comes from the sheer number of his moves that start with very similar spinning animations but do wildly different things and the fact that he can still attack after his recovery move. In particular, the Smash Bros. Wiki has severe trouble in gauging Sonic's Tier level, since, while the character doesn't perform universally well in tournaments (unlike high tier characters, such as Meta Knight) Sonic performs so radically different depending on who is playing him that any kind of tier level is theoretical at best. It also helps that, under certain circumstances, he can instantly shield out of some of his spins (during side-B's charge if it's not fully wound up, and during a down-B spindash if you're in the air and land).
    • Some of the characters, while otherwise predictable, have one or two moves that can mess with people's heads. Mario's cape attack flips the directions his enemies are facing, which can confuse new players that don't know why they suddenly are attacking backwards. In Brawl, King Dedede's projectile normally is just a Waddle Dee, but has a small chance being a Waddle Doo, a Gordo, or an item; in 3DS and Wii U, it's always a Gordo, but can be bounce along several different paths.
    • Similarly, Peach usually uproots turnips from the ground, but every so often she'll get a Bob-omb.
    • One of the reasons Meta Knight is considered the best character in Brawl is that almost all of his special attacks can be used as recovery moves (on top of his five jumps) so it's almost impossible to predict how he will get back on the stage.
    • Zelda can teleport to where she is already standing.
    • Olimar uses Pikmin in all of his attacks. Each color of Pikmin has different properties, and when Olimar creates them, they spawn randomly (in Brawl, in 3DS and Wii U, it's a set order). When Olimar performs an attack, the line cycles, so his next attack will use the next Pikmin in line. This means that different strategies open up depending on what order your Pikmin are in. Fun times for both players.
    • The Dragon Quest Heroes look like down-to-earth sword and board types on the surface, but then you get to their random critical hits and their down special that pulls up a random list of 4 spells out of a pool of 20, which has stuff like turning into an immobile but near-invincible metal statue, two instant death moves, a self-destruct button, and a spell with completely random effects. Yes, there's a random effect spell in this random list of spells.
    • Dash-dancing in Melee largely attempts to achieve this effect.
    • The playstyle of Super Smash Bros. Melee player Joseph "Mango" Marquez could be described as this, as he is known for his unorthodox mixup game and flashy punishes.
  • Patty Fleur in the PS3 version of Tales of Vesperia. Almost all of her attacks have random effects, some of which can actually end up damaging herself or the entire party. The things used for said attacks are just random, including a mini rocket ship she can ride out of the battlefield, presents with harmful "gifts" in them, a frying pan, and mahjong pieces.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • The Spy can pretend to be other classes, of both his team and of his enemies, forcing the enemy team to waste ammo on anybody and being paranoid about everybody. They can also use alternate cloaking items to drop fake body when hit, making it hard to tell if you killed the Spy or he is invisible and about to backstab you.
      • On servers with friendly fire enabled, it is ironically easier to check for spies since your teammates will flinch and cry out if they are real when you hit them and will react like a teammate on a non-friendly fire server if they are a disguised enemy spy. Of course, they will also take the full brunt of the damage you apply, so it's best not to check for spies with a high-crit-chance melee weapon, though the flamthrower will still not harm your teammates.
      • On the flip side, playing as a Spy can be made more difficult if your opponents operate this way. Randomly turning around, walking in irregular patterns, and suddenly backing up can cause many a Spy to miss his backstab, especially if he's new to the game. Spies operate heavily on knowing where their enemies would normally be, so if you're somewhere unexpected (down a back corridor, pressed against the wall where a Spy would normally walk, etc.) this can also throw Spies off, and you might even accidentally run into some invisible ones.
    • The Scout can double jump. This doesn't sound impressive, but a good Scout is a nightmare to deal with, being able to change direction while in the air and be impossible to hit, or SEE. And because of his high speed, you can never be sure whether a Scout is genuinely running away or circling around to ambush you again.
      • The Soda Popper can give the scout five midair jumps.
    • An increasingly common tactic with the Engineer is to put his mini-sentries in random places that make no sense outside of how unexpected they are, and then put up a new one in a different location as soon as the old one is destroyed.
    • The randomizer mod gives everyone this. Scouts with sniper rifles? Spies with miniguns? Backstabbing Soldiers? Heavies with flamethrowers? Rocket launcher Pyros? It's all possible, and you have no way to know what weapon your foe is carrying until he fires.
    • Due to the way this game handles lag, someone with a bad connection can be a nightmare to fight, what with their movements resembling Teleport Spam and their attacks fading in and out of existence without much of a pattern. Pyros are known for teleporting onto unwitting faces with the flamethrower blazing, Heavy's boolets occasionally curve around corners, Spies might backstab you in the face, or you might get struck down by a projectile that decided to appear out of thin air right in front of you, and neither you nor your opponent know when any of these might happen. In particular, laggy players are essentially impossible to properly deal with for spies and snipers, as both rely on a single moment of high precision, which is impossible to achieve when someone's connection is hiccuping: Chances are the foe'll just teleport right when you press the button, either wasting a bullet or leaving the poor spy stranded in the middle of enemy lines without a disguise.
    • In Medieval Mode, where every weapon is disabled except for melee weapons (and a few others), engaging an enemy becomes a dance, as combatants will alternate between closing in and spacing themselves out until someone decides to swing.
    • Pyros are this for several reasons, having a diverse variety of melee weapons that have wildly differing special abilities as well as arguably the largest number of mobility options in the game. Two of their melee weapons increase speed as an effect, two increase health in certain circumstances, two of their Flare Guns allow them to Rocket Jump, and now they have an honest to goodness Jump Jet Pack that lets them freely rocket around at high speed. As a result, Pyros thrive on unpredictability almost as much as Spies and Scouts do.
    • An unlockable weapon for the Soldier called The Beggar's Bazooka has a random trajectory for each rocket fired, this coupled with the ability to somehow load three rockets at once then fire them in quick succesion makes the weapon harder to conciously aim but even harder to avoid getting hit by.
  • Tekken:
    • Eddie Gordo (and his student Christie Montiero), with his weird capoeira ground-fighting moves, is sometimes impossible to predict unless you know his character inside and out. Not only that, most of the moves those characters use cannot be reversed. A random button masher using these characters is actually much harder to beat then someone who actually trying to do moves they plan on, until they truly master the character.
    • Lei Wulong has several different stances, plus a variety of moves that can be used from the ground or while facing the other direction.
    • Ling Xiaoyu also has two stances, some effective combos that hit someone behind her, and the ability to roll or cartwheel off to the side of her opponent.
    • Dr. Boskonovich from Tekken 3 has an unfortunate tendency to fall over for no apparent reason but capitalizes on it with several ground combos. In Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Dr. B's moves are vaguely similar to Dampierre in that half of his goofy moves cause him to reel in pain, which puts him in a good position to mixup his opponents. He also explodes a lot, either for juggles, mobility, or making his moves safe.
    • Mokujin. At the beginning of each round, he randomly chooses the moveset of a random character to fight with.
    • Zafina from 6. Her attacks are similar to Voldo from the Soul series in that her movement is highly unpredictable, full of extreme body contortions and sneaky attacks. Hitting her can also be challenging as she can get her body very low to the ground. Unfortunately, that hasn't saved her from being low tier.
  • Torchlight II has a skill for the Embermage that lets his attacks with a wand have a chance to cause a random effect, including acid rain, shadow bats exploding and a meteor out of nowhere. It gets better, though: The ability also applies to certain skills, including Shockbolts, which both emits several curving projectiles and has them hit enemies several times before dissipating, and every single hit has a chance to trigger an effect. High levels in both can make both your enemies and your computer fall to your knees.
  • Touhou Project character Marisa Kirisame does this in the fighting game spin-offs of the series, Touhou Suimusou ~ Immaterial and Missing Power and Touhou Hisouten ~ Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, with quick and annoying attacks that mess with combos, including the dreaded "Butt Attack".
    • Touhou Hisoutensoku ~ Choudokyuu Ginyoru no Nazo o Oe added Suwako, who takes this trait and amps it to 11. Her default standing position is ducking, ducking makes her taller by summoning a lily pad underneath her, she air dashes by flapping her arms, she swims through the ground in both her ground dash and several of her moves, and many of her attacks involve summoning trees in various places. She does not even walk. She hops.
    • Both Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and Hisoutensoku involve some random factor because of the weather and deck system: The weather will mess with you depending on which one that comes up, while the deck system allows you to either change your moveset on the fly or use super moves at the cost of cards.
    • We might as well add Hong Meiling's final opponent. You've been fighting against typical opponents, all the while the background gradually becomes more simple in style. Then a giant catfish shows up. You already know the entire battle will be random.
    • Reisen Udongein Inaba has shades of this in both shooters and fighting games. In shooters, she uses bullets that can shift, turn, multiply, stop and/or become invisible mid-flight. In fighting games, her moveset is similarly built around deceptive attacks, like a missile whose explosion appears ahead of the missile itself, two physical attacks that look the exact same on startup, or attacks that use illusionary copies that may or may not be able to attack on their own. The kicker? Many of her illusion copy attacks involve movement with the copy being created mid attack or just after making you wonder if she followed through or if the follow through is a decoy...the difference between the 'heavy' and 'light' versions of the attack are which image is the decoy so have fun guessing.
    • And the fighting game Touhou Shinkirou ~ Hopeless Masquerade added the Unexpected Character, Koishi Komeiji. What wasn't unexpected was that she would use confusion-fu. What was unexpected was how random and confusing it would turn out to be. Well enough for the fact that her normal attacks include things like sneezing (which fails by having Koishi catch her nose if attempted twice in quick succession) or having an Idea Bulb, her forward dash has her turn intangible while prancing onwards and, after a few steps, skips... which is actually an attack, by the way... The top of the mousse is that one of her attack buttons doesn't do anything. Until slightly later on in the fight, provided certan conditions are met. At first she's likely to be just as unpredictable to the one using her as she is to the opponent.
      "Koishi is a silly character that no one fully understands yet. Please wait warmly while Koishi mains start to learn what they're doing."
  • Total War: Shogun 2: In the expansion, Fall of the Samurai, if you look closely at a unit of riflemen being charged (by either infantry or cavalry), you may get a chance to see one of the soldiers being charged throw his rifle like a javelin into one of the charging soldiers, killing them instantly and then, if the charging unit is infantry, kick back the soldier behind him to stagger them long enough to either pull a sword or retrieve their gun. In a series famous for creative finishers, this one definitely makes the top 3 simply because of how out-of-nowhere it is.
  • In Umineko: Golden Fantasia all of Shanon's regular attacks look accidental, hitting opponents with anything that would be used in her typical chores: serving trays and carts, entire tea sets, carpet beaters, scrubbing brushes, and her apron.
  • Virtua Fighter. Shun Di, especially in VF 4 Evo: starts out predictable, but you get enough drinks in him, and there's basically no position he can't be a threat from.
    • Real life example, certain VF players use a playstyle called abare which emphasizes using an unusual style outside of what is considered the safe way to play a character to win a match.
  • Bal-Baros in Virtual-ON: Oratorio Tangram can leave his arms and hip-guns floating anywhere around the stage, meaning his can hit you from unexpected angles if you're not careful.
  • A minor example, but Warframe has a Warframe called Loki that contains an ability which creates a decoy of himself. This confuses enemies into attacking the decoy if it's closer to them than the player actually is. The ability, with practice, can easily block multiple enemies from attacking anyone smart enough to keep away from their targets that are affected by said decoy.
  • Warlords Battlecry III: the Empire can hire "Foreign Mercenaries", which basically amounts to a random unit from another faction (basic, stronger or a general, so this covers nearly every single unit in the game) for a slightly expensive price which can be cut in half with some upgrades, making it quite cheap. It can be done as much as you like, making it perfectly possible to amass an army whose units are unknown to you and your enemy until the dice are cast, which can be a good strategy sometimes, a bad one some other times, but it's always fun.
  • In World of Tanks, one of the best ways to use the nimblest light tanks, especially the T-50-2, is being as "random" as possible in maneuvering once shots start firing. Hitting them becomes incredibly difficult, and they're known for their ability to sneak past large columns of tanks to strike at the weak artillery in the rear.
    • Also used by Camouflage-centric Tank destroyers. Basically their tactics connsist of picking the most inane spot possible, holing up in there and waiting for someone to pass by so they can blow him/her wide open with a High caliber gun.
      • This includes abusing the physics engine to hang over a cliff and shoot things under it, blowing up a building to use it as cover, and even just sitting somewhere out in the open if they have a high enough camo rating.
    • The VK 30.01 (H) is notorious for having an extremely diverse selection of guns, most of which look quite similar at the first or second glance from 300 meters off. You never know what you'll find when you end up facing this particular tank — will it stay at long range punching holes in your armor with its monstrous Waffe 0725 gun? Will it suddenly lurch around the corner and vaporize half your hit points with a 10.5 cm howitzer? Or have you encountered a crazy person who equipped the fast-firing 5cm cannon and plans to keep you constantly immobilized while his artillery friends finish you off? The only way to know is to watch it fire and hope you can recognize gun sounds and shell behaviors.
  • Players in World of Warcraft who make active use of the Engineering profession for combat purposes often succumb to this. Most of their gadgets have a chance of backfiring, so an engineer toting a net launcher may snare a foe for several seconds, or launch themselves headfirst into melee with the foe. Rocket boots may yield a short but powerful burst of speed, or they may explode and hit everyone nearby. The shrink ray is guaranteed to change the size of something, but whether something grows or shrinks, and whether that something is the wielder or the target is up to chance.
    • Engineers fit this trope and the Glass Cannon one as well. Due to high cost and low profit margins, players who specialize in engineering are traditionally some of the poorest in the game, with the crappiest armor and weapons. Fighting one can be a Curb-Stomp Battle or you can find yourself turned into a chicken and taking over 5000 damage from a death ray.
    • The randomness to Engineer craftables was eliminated with the second expansion; now everything works and is guaranteed to work. Perhaps to make up for that, everything was nerfed to hell.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: In the backstory, this is how Colony 30 managed to defeat Colony Iota. Colony 30's commander Valdi is primarily a mechanic, and treated the battle as more of a testing ground for his robots than as an actual battle. As a result Colony Iota's Commander Alexandria, an actual master strategist, wasn't able to counter his strategies because neither one of them had any idea what he was doing. It annoys her to no end when she discovers that he essentially defeated her purely by accident.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction, Marik's deck uses lots of strong monsters with varied attributes, so the usual strategy of filling your deck with monsters of a beneficial attribute won't work against him.

    Web Animation 
    • Used as an argument for why Deadpool wins over Deathstroke. While Deathstroke is The Strategist and a masterful one at that, all the tactical acumen in the world can't do a thing to predict absolute insanity.
    • Naturally, the battle between Deadpool and Pinkie Pie puts two brands of Confusion Fu against each other, and it's glorious. In the end, they just give up fighting each other and start wrecking havoc in others Death Battles... This takes even the Combat Commentators off-guard.
    • Deadpool ends up on the receiving end in his fight with The Mask. Deadpool can break the fourth wall, sure enough, but the Mask running on pure Cartoon Physics makes him a full-on Reality Warper and ultimately puts him on a different level than Deadpool. Deadpool has difficulty countering the absurd amount of random crap the Mask can throw at him, which ultimately costs him the fight.

  • Bone to Blades has the Holy Spirit "The Man Comes Around". When the user activates the Spirit's ability, it will create a wooden sign with a rule written on it, which everyone (user included) must follow. If someone breaks one of the rules, the Spirit will either impose a new rule, Warp Reality to nullify the transgression, and/or launch an Always Accurate Attack against the offender. The "confusion" part comes from the fact that neither the user nor the Spirit decide what these rules are; a "higher power" does.
  • Homestuck:
    • Vriska is armed with the Fluorite Octet, a set of eight eight-sided dice that "execute a wide range of highly unpredictable attacks" when rolled; the higher the roll, the more powerful and lucky the attack. It's implied this is a bit of a double-edged sword, as getting a low roll against a sufficiently powerful opponent would leave the attacker defenseless. However when she rolls the highest possible number, all 8's,(which, incidentally, has a probability of 1/8^8 of being rolled, or 1/16,777,216) she channels the fighting soul of her ancestor and is able to go toe to toe with an omnipotent super being. Becomes a Game-Breaker once she ascends to the God Tiers, as her role as the Thief of Light means that she is guaranteed good rolls when she needs them.
    • The Pop-A-Matic Vrillyhoo Hammer, which combines the Fluorite Octet with the Warhammer of Zillyhoo, does this, but on a smaller scale. Whenever you successfully bonk someone on the head with it, a list of 8 appears, and one status from that 8 is triggered.
  • Nemen Yi, the Chosen of Battles in Keychain of Creation, fights using a unorthodox Sidereal Martial Arts style that involves Medium Awareness and Breaking the Fourth Wall, literally. She jumps between panels of the comic strip, breaks off a piece of the gutter to throw at an enemy (which then pins them in place, because the gutter doesn't move), tosses her opponents across panels, and uses the perspective of the comic to hit enemies out of her reach — the Real Life equivalent of "I squish your head". It's enough to utterly baffle her Abyssal opponents, with whom she mops the floor quite handily. It doesn't hurt that, in Exalted, Sidereals can make themselves impossible to predict by most people. She also looks down towards the following panels of the comic to see what will happen in the future. Yep, Sidereals.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Intra the Sword Saint defeated his first opponent with a blow that was, in his own words, "an idiot's blow" — the defender was completely incapable of realising he'd been seriously attacked before the sword had taken his head off. When challenged, he explained that no ordinary fool could use his lack of technique, only one extremely devoted to foolishness.
  • In Scarlet Lady's episode "Party Crasher", Marigold eventually realizes that the title Akuma is able to predict the heroes' moves, so she has one of them put on some music and tells everyone to dance erratically. When Scarlet Lady decides to show off her "world-class dancing skills", she gets tagged by Party Crasher, but the others manage to win by following Marigold's plan.
  • This Surviving The World comic advocates this strategy for Rock-Paper-Scissors.
  • Lord Sykos from The Wotch is particularly dangerous because, though his moves are random, each individual move is also incredibly clever and effective, showing a keen understanding of the psychology of most magicians.

    Web Original 
  • A Practical Guide to Evil: In the epigraphs, there is Isabella the Mad, only general to ever defeat Theodosius the Unconquered on the field. Some of the sayings attributed to her include:
    • "The finest exercise of war is to interrupt the enemy’s plan. Therefore, the general without a plan is also without peer."
    • "The most dangerous opponent for a master is a novice. Therefore, seek to be a novice in all things."
    • "The heart of warfare is deception. Therefore, the generals who can deceive even themselves are invincible."
  • Whateley Universe:
    • Jade Sinclair (Generator) seems to live this trope. Up against a mercenary in power armor? She beat him by first stabbing herself on his blade. Up against an unbeatable holographic simulation? She invented the Radioactive Condor Girl attack.
    • Although plenty of Team Kimba characters have tried this move at least once. Fey, opposing The Necromancer and a host of prepared spells his minion Nightgaunt was firing at her back, opted for an uncontrolled release of wild magic that manifested as hundred of hobgoblins she had no control over.
    • Unreliable Narrator Mephisto the Mentalist claims that most of his career as one of the first supervillains was built largely on this combined with The Power of Acting, asserting that most of his early public capers were distractions so that his colleagues could quietly pull of the real heist.

    Web Videos 
  • Dream is one of the best Minecrafters at this strategy:
    • In Minecraft Speedrunner VS 3 Hunters FINALE, the three hunters and Dream are in a cave. Suddenly, they meet and Dream uses a splash potion of invisibility to make them all invisible. Keep in mind that they are all wearing full iron armor. They can't tell which one was Dream and started attacking one of their team members while Dream started attacking them.
    • In the same episode, Dream builds a Nether Portal so that he could trick the hunters into thinking he was back at the Nether. The hunters are confused why he built the portal if he wasn't going to go in in the first place. But the compass gives it away, since it can indirectly tell whether Dream's at the Overworld or the Nether.
  • Gavin Free is a master of this in various Achievement Hunter videos. Granted, it usually works against him, but when he pulls this off correctly, it is beautiful.
  • Appears on The Guild. Kwan is revealed to be a champion-level gamer in Korea. He was defeated by Mr. Wiggly, who seemingly picked his spells at random — including spells so unorthodox that Kwan hadn't bothered defending against them.
  • In Noob, this was the specialty of Ash, the Real Money Trade guy, during his time as legitimate player. Spectre kept him close due to his lone weakness basically being Didn't See That Coming.
  • The Nostalgia Chick in Suburban Knights does this by imitating a Lord of the Rings montage and speaking gibberish, then suddenly punching her opponent in the face.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Big City Greens episode "Coffee Quest", Tilly helps Cricket and Gloria escape Chip Whistler by attacking him with the "Tilly Tornado", which is just her spinning around. It's rather ineffective as a Spin Attack, but it does confuse Chip and his cohorts enough to let Cricket and Gloria get away.
  • In the Captain Planet and the Planeteers episode "Planeteers Under Glass", Dr. Blight's evil computer MAL takes over an environmental simulation and is able to block out the protagonists' attempts to regain control. Then Wheeler steps in to confuse MAL into submission by randomly inputting commands into the terminal, like he did earlier in the episode.
  • Danger Mouse once illogicked a computer to death by performing the following routine for it:
    DM: My dog has no nose.
    Penfold: Your dog has no nose? How does it smell?
    DM: Terrible.
  • Darkwing Duck: Crazed toymaker Quackerjack. In addition to his deadly toys, his sheer instability and unexpected acrobatics make him as much of a challenge as the other members of the Fearsome Five.
  • The episode of The Legend of Korra called "Harmonic Convergence" shows Bumi ravaging a whole Northern Water Tribe camp with his usual goofy antics. He decides not to tell Tenzin about it because Tenzin has always dismissed his stories earlier.
  • The Legend of Vox Machina: In the fight with the Briarwoods on the ziggurat, Grog closes his eyes so he doesn't fall under Sylas' hypnosis. Sylas smugly remarks that now he can't even see to which Grog retaliates that if he can't tell where he's swinging, then neither can Sylas. it works, and Grog embeds his axe in Sylas' gut long enough to restrain him long enough for Keyleth to finish the job.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the rare cases Pinkie Pie is actually drawn into a fight, you can bet her style is going to be very unpredictable.
    • Against the changeling army in "A Canterlot Wedding – Part 2", she begins by excitably urging a foe to take her own form ("Do me! Do me!"), then start using Twilight Sparkle as a magical machine-gun, and finally pulls out the party cannon to blast changelings.
    • In "Slice of Life", this is the most likely explanation as to why Pinkie Pie is seen on a unicycle spinning plates on sticks at one point during the fight against the bugbear — she must be trying to confuse the monster. The scene is too short to tell whether it's working or not, though the bugbear does give her a stare.
    • In "Buckball Season" Pinkie's moves leave Braeburn a tad baffled.
    • In "The Ending of the End – Part 2", when she has to fight Chrysalis, as usual Pinkie Pie does so by being relentlessly random, avoiding blasts through Offscreen Teleportation and annoying the Changeling Queen with showman guise, huckster speech, puppet, lucky wheel, etc.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: SpongeBob's bad driving becomes useful in "Demolition Doofus", as all his reckless ways of driving (plus the fact he's an invertebrate) protect him from getting killed, maimed, or injured otherwise by the other contestants, making him a completely impossible target.
  • The episode of South Park where Cartman thinks he died plays with this, in that Cartman actually intended to use his ghostly spookiness as the tactic. However, being that Cartman was entirely visible, what the criminals saw definitely qualifies as this trope, and were simply too weirded out to react.
  • Spinel of Steven Universe: The Movie relies on this. As her unique Rubber Man powers prove to catch the Gems completely off guard when she arrives to fight them. Slightly subverted as once the Gems get their memories back and shake off two years of fighting rust, she proves largely ineffective during round 2.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Master Splinter, as befits someone that advises victory over fairness, fights like this. He'll distract his opponent anyway he can, even if that means licking them in the face. His weapon at first appears to be a cane, but conceals a knife and tangling line. And if that doesn't work, he'll drop to all fours and fight like, well, a rat, something that catches even a master ninja off guard.
  • In the ThunderCats episode "The Duelist and the Drifter" Rascally Rabbit and Trickster Mentor the Drifter befuddles opponents with his Dance Battler brand of Not Quite Flight Nonchalant Dodging that involves drifting on currents of wind like a leaf, and also employs Brandishment Bluffs, heavily exploiting the reflexive movements of those who attack him.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man and White Tiger use this to beat Taskmaster, who can quickly copy their moves. They do this by switching weapons, luring him into the gym (which still has the obstacle course from yesterday set up), turning the lights off, and using the numerous obstacles as weapons. In a later episode, just like the Comic Books example above, Taskmaster has an Oh, Crap! moment when he hears Spider-Man brought along Deadpool to capture him. Deadpool humiliates Taskmaster by dancing all over him.

    Real Life 
  • Bruce Lee was in fact a huge advocate of this trope:
    Become unpredictable, strike from your subconscious mind, let your moves flow out from your individual essence. Even the most masterful opponent will fall from a strike that has no history or reference, the moves created from your own individual unique essence may surprise even you.
  • Sun Tzu was a proponent of this, though he referred to "orthodox strategies" and "unorthodox strategies"; in fact, he said that implementing orthodox strategies at unexpected times was an unorthodox strategy in and of itself.
    Thus the pinnacle of military deployment approaches the formless. If it is formless, then even the deepest spy cannot discern it or the wise make plans against it.
  • The Karate school Genseiryu is a more controlled version of Confusion Fu; while it doesn't employ the outright random attacks of many examples on this page, the style is founded on the idea of the practitioner gaining the advantage over his opponent by making his movements and attacks difficult for his opponent to read or predict.
  • Drunken Boxing runs on this — it's meant to be hard to predict, using flowing movements that emulate a drunken stagger.
  • This is a standard tool in military tactics, particularly for convoys. Rather than have one secure route, it is far better to have several slightly-less-secure routes and choose between them at random. That way, even if one route is compromised, the odds are against it being the one that you are using. Convoys escorting high-profile people, such as the President of the United States, use a similar strategy with their vehicles as well as their routes — have several identical vehicles and move them around at random.
  • According to Otto von Bismark, this is the usual Russian style. They counter every stratagem by unpredictable folly:
    • The Napoleonic Wars where they broke a lot of rules of European "gentleman warfare" by using Hit-and-Run Tactics, Salt the Earth, and even a Batman Gambit with leaving Moscow.
    • World War I has an unintentional example of defence of Osowiec and "Attack of the dead men". First — Russians held the fortress for much longer than even their own generals believed was possible. And finally when the Germans grew angry at this enough to use Deadly Gas and then charged, believing firmly that No One Could Survive That!, they did not expect the defenders to withstand it.
    • In World War II, during the defense of Leningrad, a Soviet battalion charged with bayonets in complete silence, without even shooting. Those Wacky Nazis were so confused that they did not shoot too. Both sides of Red October also practiced this, but simply because of lack of ammo.
    • Also in World War II, the Soviet Air Force did this with their formations of fighters in that they would fly in a disorganized mob moving in the general direction of where they were going. By doing this, they were able to prevent the generally superior Luftwaffe from getting the drop on them.
  • Some people with knowledge on how to misdirect human attention — mentalists, illusionists, pickpockets, etc. — have been known to apply said knowledge when cornered into a fight.
  • Confusion Fu in a nutshell.note 
    "Whoa whoa whoa! GANGNAM STYLE! Hyaa!"
  • At the onset of the The Libyan Civil War when the protest was showing signs of becoming an insurgency, the Libyan Armed Forces made sound, strategic calculations on what assets to protect and where the rebels were likely to be operating. Unfortunately for them, the rebels were a disorganized, chaotic mess attacking targets that made no sense to attack and just being generally unpredictable. This ended up working to their advantage, preventing the armed forces from predicting their movements and crushing them long enough for the rebellion to gain momentum.
  • Mixed martial artist Tony Ferguson is the incarnation of this trope in modern combat sports. Throwing loaded punches that put him off balance just for the sake of being unpredictable, rolling around in the middle of grappling exchanges and spinning randomly to threaten his opponent with elbow strikes are just a few of his style's trademarks.
  • Adversarial A.I.s are A.I.s designed to beat other A.I.s at certain tasks, such as simple games. Against A.I.s that use deep learning algorithms, Adversarial A.I.s tend to foil them by creating bizarre situations the deep-learning AI has never seen, forcing it to act effectively at random. Video available here.
  • Stoats have been observed hunting rabbits by "dancing" (essentially bouncing around erratically) in front of them to confuse them. There is even a term for this: the "weasel war dance."
    • However, recent research appears to show that this is no longer accurate, and that the stoats are simply practicing their hunting maneuvers.
  • This is the entire point of throwing feints and fake strikes that don't land in martial arts. Your opponent will react defensively, realize that they didn't get hit and stand still in confusion only to get hit by an actual strike.
  • Chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen does this, by doing 'inaccuracies' during the opening phase, in order to get his opponent to think for themselves instead of following the book's opening theory step-by-step. In that link are more examples of this trope.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Schroedinger Fu, Unpredictable Fighting Style, Schrodinger Fu



While not a gem made for fighting, her zany stretching powers make up for it.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / ConfusionFu

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