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Contrived Coincidence

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"I don't mean to spoil the moment, but has anyone else noticed that we're stranded in the middle of the ocean on this couch? I mean, it's not as if a big giant ship is going to come out of nowhere and save us—MY GOSH!!"
Batman, The LEGO Movie, when Metalbeard's ship does just that

In order to keep a story moving, things need to happen a certain way. Sometimes everything is carefully set up and orchestrated, so that events unfold in an organic, natural fashion. More often than not, though, things happen the way they do simply Because Destiny Says So.

There's just one tiny little problem with that theory: Sometimes, Destiny doesn't say so.

Contrived Coincidence describes a highly improbable occurrence in a story which is required by the plot, but which has absolutely no outward justification — not so much as a character saying There Are No Coincidences. The concept of "destiny" is glossed over altogether, and the events in question are simply disguised as mere happenstance. This would be jarring, but most of the time no attention is drawn to the event at all. It's just a narrative convention designed to skip over lots of irrelevant stuff by putting the important events all together, leaving the audience to forget the improbability of the event.

In cases where the coincidence is acknowledged, it's likely a Lampshade Hanging. Unlikely coincidences are bound to happen once in a while. Exceptional things don't happen to the main characters because they are main characters; rather, they are designated main characters because exceptional things happen to them. In other words, there would be no story without this first exceptional coincidence. The earlier in the story the plot-driving coincidences occur, the more leeway the writer has with them.

Contrived Coincidence is one of the driving forces of Farce, decreed by the Rule of Funny. This is a major reason why wariness is needed in other genres; too much of it will make the story farcical.

Make note that like its sister trope Theory of Narrative Causality, this is one of the most pervasive tropes out there. Remember though, that just because a work uses this trope is not an automatic black mark against it. Even the greatest works out there sometimes need a great leap to get the plot to go in an interesting direction.

Too many contrived coincidences may result in One Degree of Separation. For a more grandiose or plot-wrapping version, see Deus ex Machina. A person who is a Weirdness Magnet tends to be a walking contrived coincidence. Often, these can disguise a Gambit Roulette as The Plan. If the story's premise is this trope or relies on it, it's It Began with a Twist of Fate instead. Framing the Guilty Party invokes this trope when the one doing the framing didn't know that party was already guilty.

Super Trope to Coincidental Broadcast and It's a Small World After All.

Compare with Doom Magnet. See also Fridge Logic (or Not My Driver), for the moment the character realizes this trope.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • InuYasha: In episode 47, Naraku sics a giant Soul Collector on Kikyo to kill her, sending her running until she runs into Inuyasha, who promptly kills it. Inuyasha thinks that Kikyo deliberately led the demon to him knowing he would save her, but as she quickly points out, she was just running for her life, and Inuyasha just happened to be there.
  • Done especially so in the Zatch Bell!. A poor innocent girl in the story gets brainwashed into partnering with an evil demon and attacks her very best friend. But what's this? It turns out the attack was blocked by another demon who happens to be both said friend's partner and that demon's worst enemy. Really, out of 6 billion human beings on earth for the scattered 100 demons to choose from, these two pick two human friends that grew up together? Well, that's just dandy. It's also rather dandy that 50% of the demons fought are at one point found in Japan, and everyone in the cast all speaks English/Japanese. And why doesn't the Brainwashing demon just use his physic powers to raise an army to avoid fighting the latter demon? Maybe because it, in turn, will be the only reason he's able to find and fight him in the first place by attracting his partner's attention.
  • One Piece:
    • The Straw Hats seem to be particularly lucky to show up at Fishman Island at the exact same day that Hody stages his coup d'état after years of planning, allowing them to prevent the whole island from falling to his elite soldiers and 100,000 strong slave army.
    • This happens to the Straw Hats a lot. Luffy arrives at Shell Town to save Zoro and the villagers from Captain Morgan, they end up in Orange Town to save Nami from Buggy's thugs, arrives at Usopp's village the day Captain Kuro's plans come to fruition, stops at the Baratie when Don Krieg floats seems like most of the time they get into trouble just from being at the wrong place at the wrong time. It doesn't help that Luffy's an active thrill-seeker who enjoys throwing himself into danger. This is shown when a new log post shows them the difference between the safest and most dangerous route with the rest of the crew being absolutely terrified if he found that out, which of course he does and chooses the dangerous one.
  • From Naruto we have two 'coincidences' which set Itachi free from Edo Tensei. The first is even encountering Naruto in the first place, a 1/80,000 chance. The second is Kotoamatsukami, the jutsu that was used to rewire his Edo Tensei to give him back his will: 1/36,500 due to its ten year charge time - with Itachi not even knowing if the charge time was completed. Yet... both were fulfilled. Later comes Itachi's 'defeat' of Kabuto. The first coincidence is running into Sasuke in the first place, giving Itachi the backup he needed to win. The second is possessing the Izanami, since it was never alluded to at ALL that Itachi was taught any Uchiha Kinjutsu, let alone one designed to negate an attack that (as far as they would have known) nobody could use any more. Finally, finding Kabuto was tremendous luck, since he could have easily moved from where he was pointed out by Nagato.
  • Space Battleship Yamato:
    • A couple of characters are on Titan being chased by an alien mook. One of the characters comes across a blaster lying on the ground and shoots the mook with it. After doing so, he notices that the blaster belongs to his brother, who was thought to have been KIA in the area (his brother's abandoned ship is also close by). It would have been quite a stroke of luck for anybody to stumble upon these items after landing on a random area of the planet, much less the missing pilot's own brother...
    • The fact that the main (human) heroine of the series is a dead lookalike for (the alien queen) Starsha and her sister is also an unexplained and apparently random coincidence.
  • Sgt. Frog uses it for humor in episode 37, pointing out the four different coincidences (including one that seems to have nothing to do with anything) that just so happen to resolve the plot in exactly the right way.
    Narrator: Eh? Why did this happen? Well... we can't help it now that it's done with.
  • Cat's Eye:
    • In episode 18, Hitomi and Ai tie up and gag a pair of female wrestlers known as the Tiger Ladies, and steal their costumes in order to escape the cops. Not only do the Tiger Ladies wear masks, but they conveniently have hairstyles and body measurements similar to those of the thieves as well.
    • In the series finale, Hitomi and Rui try to steal a priceless diamond from a famous actress named Noriko Kurokawa, but fail. While this is happening, Ai is writing the script for her drama club's upcoming play, which is about a female thief. Due to some unlikely circumstances, it turns out that Noriko is an alumna of Ai's school, and that former students are allowed to act in school productions regardless of their age. The sisters are able to convince Noriko to portray the victim of the play, and use the opportunity to knock her unconscious and replace her diamond with a convincing fake.
  • Elfen Lied, both fortunately and unfortunately, happens to be chock full of this. This is the reason why all of the characters meet in the first place, as the chances for these select few individuals encountering one another (especially Lucy and Kouta) is next to impossible. That none of them remember each other is a whole 'nother web of improbability.
  • In Rose of Versailles, Rosalie sees her foster mother get run over by a carriage being driven by the noblewoman who is none other than her birth mother. Continuing the stretch of crazy coincidences, Rosalie meets Oscar when attempting to prostitute herself, then meets Oscar again later when she mistakes Oscar's home for Versailles. Rosalie just can't avoid the contrived coincidence....
  • Code Geass:
    • While a lot of things can be explained by Lelouch using his Geass off screen, the second episode of the second season is just a little convenient. Lelouch, having lost his memory, decides to go gambling in a skyscraper that just happens to be at the start of a street that goes straight to the Chinese consulate, the skyscraper also exactly tall enough to be stretched out along the street, has a spacy ventilation shaft inside it which would protect people in the unlikely event that it would topple over... Starting to guess what's going to happen?
    • Season 1 episode 22 is just as bad. See my mind control eye? I can make you do anything, all of which being horribly bad for everyone involved, and none of them funny, even though I'm trying to make a joke. It would be horrible if my power forced you to do one of them, now - er... Whoops? That was because Diabolus ex Machina was the real Big Bad of the show.
  • In Maison Ikkoku, Kyoko just happens to walk by when Kozue tricks Godai into a goodbye kiss—which turns out to be a turning point in the series.
  • Sailor Moon R:
    • The second episode reunites the Sailor Senshi for another season of adventure. How does it do this? The bad guys stage a fake casting call for a TV show and out of untold millions of girls, they just happen to completely randomly stumble upon four of the five Senshi and the best friend (and favored Victim of the Week) of the fifth. Let it be noted that it wasn't even as though the bad guys chose these people based on some vague explanation of them having a ton of energy or whatever. It was the original TV staff that just happened to choose them.
    • Kaolinite (from Sailor Moon S) explains that the senshi's powers orchestrate events so that senshi are always close to a place of a future attack. This makes sense given that just five senshi (nine for outerplanetary attacks) have to protect a planet.
  • Fushigiboshi No Futago Hime: This seems to be how the Prominence works in the early part of the first season. Whenever Fine and Rein use it to solve problems, the events just seem completely improbable to make any sort of sense.
  • In the very first episode of Witch Hunter Robin, the eponymous character shows up at a warehouse where the squad is fighting a witch and saves the day, with no explanation for why she happened to go there. No one ever comments on it.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam:
    • The kid who finds a prototype mobile suit turns out to be a powerful psychic. In six completely different wars.
    • And in all but one of those cases, one or both of the kid's parents were involved in the creation of said prototype mobile suit.
    • In After War Gundam X, the trigger Garrod steals from a salvager's ship just so happens to work in the Gundam he randomly finds in a garage in the middle of nowhere. He at least has the comical sense to lampshade the seemingly divine intervention: "Tifa, I believe in God!"
    • In ∀ Gundam, the titular machine comes to life and the main character Loran just happens to be right next to the thing. He is the only character that can both: A) understand the technology, and B) not use it to completely turn the tide of the war in favor of either side.
  • In Macross Frontier, the three characters in the primary Love Triangle have the amazing ability to randomly run into each other wherever they go, in a city that's home to millions of people. Even when a character decides to randomly visit places they've never been before, the other two happen to show up there as well.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! is filled with numerous contrived coincidences. Among some samples:
    • The first student to find out about Negi's secret, Asuna, is not only a magic world princess who had her memories of her past wiped out, but it appears that she is also a creation of Negi's ancestor.
    • Nodoka, after receiving her Pactio card, just happens to be walking by when she overhears Chamo and Asuna discuss how the card can be used to summon magical items. This starts a series of events (and other coincidences) that results in Nodoka not only discovering her Pactio ability of Mind Reading, but also discovering that Negi is actually a mage. Interestingly enough, this isn't the only time Nodoka was walking by when Negi, Asuna, and Chamo are discussing important stuff, as this also happens first when Negi tells Asuna about his past, and later when Negi invites Asuna to go with him to the Magic World during summer break.
    • Taken even further when you consider the sheer improbability of Negi's class being assembled. Asuna, magical world princess Konoka, daughter of his father's fighting companion Evangeline, sealed there by his father Mana, half-demonfolk mercenary, Ku Fei; apparently the most talented martial artist on campus, Chao, his descendent Kaede; exceedingly talented ninja, and Zazie demonfolk princess. It's possible the headmaster just meddled, but then it's still a case of Improbable Age that everyone is in the same grade.
    • It's not that contrived for all of this to happen. Considering that the school itself is is quite populated by mages, several of whom are related to Negi's father's group, it isn't THAT big of a stretch so much interesting people would gather there. After all, Asuna being placed into the care of a ton of mages makes sense since she's a princess in hiding, albeit unknowingly so to herself at least, and there probably would be several of those tied to the magical world staying in a place filled with mages, such as Mana and Zazie. And Chao needed to be in Mahora itself since she needed to use the World Tree for her spell, so she would be waiting around in the school for the right time. The biggest contrivance is really just that all these people were stuffed into a single classroom.
  • In Monster, Johan Liebert is able to find another family named Liebert, who lost a son named Johan, who would be the same age that he is, allowing him to slip right into the community. This is after meeting a family named Liebert as a child who named him Johan. Fortunately, it's a fairly common name in Real Life.
  • Butterflies, Flowers: When Choko goes job-hunting at the beginning of the book, the only company hiring is the one where her family's ex-servant has become director of the department she is applying to...
  • Death Note:
    • It was just a coincidence that both Mikami and Light knew Kiyomi Takada, that Takada was a Kira supporter, and that Light had a history with her. It was just a coincidence that all the people Mikami rejected died. It was just a coincidence that Misa Amane and Light happened to live within a train ride of each other — at one point in the anime, they're shown having coffee in the same little shop, completely unaware that the other one is actually a Kira. When you get down to it, it was a coincidence that Light just happened to have the TV on, considering how much studying he's shown to do with it off, when L first broadcasts his Lind L Tailor message. The list doesn't end; Death Note has a ton of these.
    • The encounter with Misora and Light not being taken out early is based on one, too. It just so happens that the entire police force working the Kira case was at a meeting, while Misora was trying to contact one of them and Light happened to arrive just as she talked about having information for them. After all, Sayu was supposed to bring their father the spare clothes. Light even lampshades how convenient this little meeting was and begins to hear Misora out on her information. And it just so happens that Aizawa was opening his umbrella just as Light and Misora were passing him by and he didn't see them.
    • It even starts with one: Light flat-out asks Ryuk why he was chosen to have the Death Note, and Ryuk explains he'd just dropped it from a great height. Anyone might have picked it up. Hell, the instructions are in English just because that's the most common human language.
  • The main character of Alice Academy just happens to befriend a kid with a superpower, who just happens to have avoided being sent to the special school for those people long enough to befriend the main character, and just happens to have one of her letters reach the main character despite the faculty of the school doing everything they can to prevent the students having any contact at all with the outside world, which just happens to prompt the main character to travel to the school, where she just so happens to be allowed in because she has a power of her own, one which just happens to be so situational that neither she nor anybody else knew that she had it until the plot demanded it.
  • Lyrical Nanoha There are a lot of these thought out the series also mix with One Degree of Separation.
    • Season 1:
      • After Arf rebelled and fled to Earth, She ended up being found by Alisa, one of Nanoha's friends.
    • Season 2 (A's):
      • Hayate, the master of the antagonist and is unaware of what's going on, happens to meet Suzuka, another friend of Nanoha.
    • Season 3 (StrikerS):
      • Subaru and Ginga were found and rescued by Quint. Quint ended up adopting them because their eyes are similar to her. Turns out their DNA matches with Quint. Yeah, of all the people in the universe who could've rescued them, it turns out to be the woman they were cloned from.
      • Quint was also partnered with Zest and Megane. Zest ended up dying and resurrected to take care of Megane's daughter. During their walk around the Mid-Childa, they found Agito, a unison device, whom very effect to Signum.
      • The first and only time Riot Force 6 have a vacation. Erio and Caro stumbled upon Vivio.
    • ViVid:
      • Five participants of the Inter-Middle Championship are descendents of rulers from the Ancient Belkan Era, four of the rulers were close friends. And a sixth ruler in a Convenient Coma is not that far away from these descendents. Hayate lampshades this.
    • Force:
      • Thoma happens to be found by Subaru on that fated day when he's the sole survivor of a massacre. Years later he goes on a Journey to Find Oneself, and runs across Lily and Isis.
      • Since this is an Alternate Universe, the Materials are no longer doppelgängers of Nanoha, Fate and Hayate, just a group of strangers who happen to resemble them. And despite the drawing of in-game equipment for the series' virtual reality video game being randomized, they just happen to have Palette Swap versions of the main trio's gear so that the resemblance will be even more apparent.
  • In Haou Airen, the Triad hitman Hakuron is sent to Tokyo twice to deal with the Yakuza. Both times, he saw the female lead Kurumi. The first one, he took a glimpse of her grieving self during her father's funeral; the second, she was the person who saved his life when he was badly injured after he finished the mission.
  • Ranma ½: Carelessly thrown/dumped water (often with a Lampshade Hanging of "of course nobody will be there"). Koi pond. Thunder Equals Downpour. Convenient trajectories from propulsive attacks. Oh yeah, did we mention his curse is triggered by cold water?
  • Tiger & Bunny:
    • The two main characters happen to have the same exact superpower, down to the name, strength multiplier, and time limit. There is no in-universe reason for this at all, and nobody thinks it's anything noteworthy. Would have been averted in the original draft, where Barnaby had teleportation powers instead.
    • Also in episode 12 when Jake is randomly selecting which hero to fight against, he selects Kotetsu and then remarks he won't last a second before choosing another card. He ended up drawing Barnaby's card. He lampshades this by pointing out how he picked them together and saying "they really are a team".
    • Part of Rule of Funny, there are many, many coincidences that prevent Kotetsu from drinking the drugged coffee in episode 20.
  • In Popcorn Avatar, all of the Devas and Asuras introduced so far have all been Japanese, and conveniently found in or close to the city Kurando and Lisa live in. This fact is even lampshaded in a later chapter.
  • In the sixth volume of High School DXD, Asia gets herself forcefully transferred to a different dimension by Shalba Beelzebub and planned to kill her there. It just so happens that Vali and his group were at the Dimension Gap looking for Gogmagog and he sees her prompting him to rescue her on a whim.
  • In From Eroica with Love, the titular art thief almost always ends up going after something with a microfilm sought by his unrequited love interest.
  • Haiyore! Nyarko-san W:
    • The protagonists go to the Great Celano Library so Nyarko can return an overdue book, and come into conflict with a pair of aliens who are ransacking the place looking for something. When the team arrives at the villains' lair, Nyarko realizes she forgot to return her book, which leads to her and Mahiro discussing the possibility that that book is what the bad guys were looking for; Mahiro initially thinks it's stupid, but then decides it's probably right because so far, all their adventures have had "stupid resolutions" (as he puts it). It turns out he's wrong; what the bad guys really wanted was a book Mahiro unknowingly put in his pocket when everything started going nuts at the library.
    • In the first season, a time-traveling alien "borrows" the body of a classmate in order to track down a rebel from her time period. Nyarko remarks that the Class Representative called in sick that day and suggests that the criminal might be possessing him. Mahiro says that would be way too convenient, Nyarko agrees that it would be pretty silly, and they share a laugh...and then the class rep jumps out of a second-story window and dashes away, obviously possessed.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, if the Anti-Spiral hadn't used Nia out of everyone to be their messenger, Earth would have been doomed, since it was due to her and Simon's love that the heroes were able to find the Anti-Spiral's homeworld. Also, what were the chances that Simon, the person with the most Spiral energy potential, find the Core Drill and Lagann underground while digging for treasure?
  • The first episode of Darker Than Black with suspiciously convenient coincidences that allow Chiaki to escape her many pursuers - electric locks malfunction when she needs them to the most, pursuers will frequently be thrown off by things such as stray cats, and Nice Guy next-door neighbor/obvious Love Interest, Li Shengshun, is always miraculously nearby when she needs his help the most. The second episode then reveals that absolutely none of these are coincidences, not even the cat, and that Li (secretly the electricity-manipulating "Black Reaper", Hei) is after her secrets just like everyone else.
  • After the War in the North Campaign and the 7 year Time Skip in Claymore, the seven survivors out of 24 set out south to finally get their revenge and then run headlong into Riful of the West, one of the Big Bads, almost immediately.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, Yami lampshades this as he wonders how the group could have won a vacation to the place Grandpa was last seen, have their plane crash, and run into the one man who knows where he is. He takes it as a sign that something isn't right.
  • In the first story arc of Dragon Ball while Bulma and Goku are searching for the Dragon Balls they find a turtle who is lost. Goku helps the turtle and as award the turtle gets his master, known as the Turtle Hermit, who gives him the Kinto'un, a flying cloud. After several more adventures, they face the Gyuumaou (Ox-King) who is known for his power and cruelty. The Gyuumaou recognizes the cloud since the Turtle Hermit is his old master. Even more, Goku's grandfather was also a student of the same master and him and the Gyuumaou trained together. And all of them had Dragon Balls.
  • In Summer Wars, it's a pretty big coincidence that Love Machine's creator just so happens to be related to OZ's most powerful player, right when they're in the same house for a family reunion. And another relative has a convenient super-computer to help fight it. Oh, and the one house guest who's not actually related to anybody? He's the guy Love Machine is framing for its crimes.
  • Psychometrer Eiji's spinoff manga Debusen featuring comic relief character Mitsuru Fukushima relies on this in basically almost every presented plot points. One of those examples is the premise of the manga itself; Mitsuru, who decides to commit suicide in Sea of Trees after piling up so much debts finds a corpse of a woman greatly resembling him and is somehow trapped in a life of high school teacher replacing the deceased woman to reform a class filled with failure students. First of all, he chooses to go to Sea of Treesnote  instead of jumping off a cliff or using other suicide methods. Second, because Mitsuru wants to get a chocolate in a pocket of a corpse hanged on a brach which can't hold Mitsuru's height, he magically stumbles into the woman's corpse in a 35-square-kilometre forest, not to mention the corpse's obscured location people won't easily notice. Third, said corpse has similar body structure and appearance to Mitsuru except for general male-female characteristics. Fourth, the woman's name is conveniently ''Mitsuko Fukushima'', the name Mitsuru uses whenever he cosplays as a woman. Despite the amount of miracle it needs to work, the plot can still happen.
  • Three of the five members of Princess Principal's spy team each acted on a decision the literal day rebellion broke out in the kingdom, affecting their lives forever. Ange and Princess Charlotte pulled a Prince and Pauper switch then got separated in the chaos of the revolution, rendering them unable to switch back and unable to reunite until ten years later. Dorothy ran away from her abusive father and couldn't go back after The Great Wall went up.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Tohru just so happens to be rescued by (and fall in love with) Kobayashi, whose manager is a close friend of Tohru's father. Then Tohru's rival Elma gets a job at that very same company when she's stranded on Earth, and is assigned to the same department as Kobayashi (after having chosen a job at random).
  • Recovery of an MMO Junkie runs on these pretty heavily.
    • In Episode 1, Moriko Morioka gets into the MMORPG Fruits de Mer, and the first person she meets is an adorable White Mage named Lily. In Episode 2, she and Lily stay up playing all night, which results in Moriko falling asleep at her computer and catching a cold; when she goes to the pharmacy to get some medicine, she runs into a young man late for work — who, of course, is Lily's player Yuta Sakurai. When Moriko starts telling her guildmates about Sakurai (flipping the genders to hide her real identity) and asking for advice, Sakurai realizes that it's her because of how incredibly unlikely it would be that these exact same events would be happening to two completely different sets of people.
      • Adding another layer to it, it turns out that Moriko and Sakurai were best friends and confidants in the now-shuttered MMORPG NanterSG (to the point where, when she reflects on the relationship, Moriko realizes that she probably loved "Harth"). Sakurai gets suspicious when she makes an alt character that looks like an aged-up version of her Nanter character Yuki; he does admit to himself that this is far more likely to be a coincidence, but calls her up and asks anyway. After she confirms that it was her, they both discuss how crazy it is that they found each other completely at random.
    • Just to cap it all off, the college student who works part-time at the convenience store both Moriko and Sakurai frequent is the player behind their guild master, Kanbe. He and Moriko actually find out each others' identities when they strike up a friendly conversation about FdM (he had seen her purchasing prepaid cards for the game) and he suggests meeting up for a quest, sharing his server and character name.
  • Your Name:
    • The owner of the ramen shop Taki and his friends stop at is a former Itomori resident who later helps Taki reach the remains of Itomori.
    • As Mitsuha waits to board a train to go back to Itomori after a day of fruitless searching for Taki in Tokyo, a train Taki was taking just happens to show up at the station she was at. This gives her the chance to pass him her ribbon, which becomes important chronologically later.

    Audio Drama 
  • Invaders from Mars: The Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard arrive in New York, Halloween, 1938, on the very night of Orson Welles' infamous "War of the Worlds" broadcast... and swiftly learn that there's an actual alien invasion taking place that night, with the Doctor using Welles' broadcast to try and trick the aliens into thinking someone's beaten them to Earth.

  • In the Child Ballad The Lord of Lorn and the False Steward, the duke's daughter happens to both be wooed by the false lord of Lorn and come across the true one and decide to hire him.
  • Parodied by extending the series of coincidences to absurd lengths in The Wreck of the Crash of the Easthill Mining Disaster).
  • In Hjältekvädet, the hero keeps getting killed in battle for fairly understandable reasons, with the narrator having to retcon each event with all sorts of implausible coincidences (he gets shot with an arrow to the head, but a goose lands and takes it for him; he gets stabbed from behind, but he happens to carry a sack of potatoes on his back for some reason; he gets crushed by a panicked horse, but it gets distracted by an attractive elk and leaves instead; and he gets hacked to pieces by a superior swordsman, only to instead just win without further explanation). This is because the narrator/songwriter is getting paid to make a heroic ballad, not a realistic one.

    Comic Books 
  • Most people go their entire life without seeing a crime that would require them to step in to help. No superhero, particularly one who has resolved to give up his cape, can last a day without seeing someone being mugged in an alley, or stumbling across a burning building with a woman screaming for help from a window.
    • Brian Garfield realized this when writing a sequel novel to Death Wish: "Long ago Paul [the Vigilante] had learned not to waste time in fruitless search for felons in the act of committing crimes; the odds were too long. A robbery took place in the city every three minutes... but it was an enormous city and there were three million potential victims".
    • Paul Benjamin, besides using himself as bait, comes up with the idea of shadowing the courthouses. After all, criminals often are repeat offenders who have to show up for parole hearings, methadone treatment, etc. So, he tails them from the courthouse. See page 56 of Death Sentence. Other writers averted this through the use of police scanners; the Spider usually an early version in The Cholera King, while Hero at Large with John Ritter and The Exterminator 2 showed the protagonists using police scanners.
    • Some superheroes, like Batman, don't stumble upon things as often as set out to find them and have all sorts of explained ways of knowing how to do that.
    • This exact point made in Zot!. There's an issue called "Looking for Crime" in which Zot looks all over New York for a crime. The closest he gets to finding one is finding a homeless person stabbed, and he didn't witness it.
  • If you are a superhero, then someone you know will be murdered horribly, or develop superpowers, or at least have some slightly odd seemingly innocuous problem that will be intimately connected with a supervillain's latest Evil Plan. If you're lucky, this will be because your enemies know who you are and are targeting them because of the connection. Probably not though.
  • If you're a supervillain, no matter what crime you commit or where you go to do it, some superhero will be around to stop you, and odds are good it will be your Arch-Enemy.
    • Lampshaded in a Moon Knight series, where some supervillains who've decamped to the West Coast note that anyone operating in New York is a moron.
    • This trope practically breaks the Shocker in Ultimate Spider-Man. He's just a bank robber with fancy safe-cracking equipment, but for some reason Spidey turns up at every job to kick his ass.
  • The fates of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent crossed paths a ridiculous number of times before they ever became Batman and Superman, and even before they knew each other's secret identities.
    • A Superman/Batman story featured Jor-El using a probe to take the mind of a human to Krypton, so he could ask what kind of planet Earth was. The human he selected went on to use the advanced technology of the probe as the basis of a great company called Wayne Enterprises.
    • In the very first Superman/Batman crossover, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne happen to take a cruise at the same time and are coincidentally assigned to be roommates. Why Wayne can't afford a single occupancy cabin or, for that matter, his own cruise liner, is unexplained. They are both in the cabin at the same time, changing into costume, when a bright ray of light beams through a port hole, lighting up the room and revealing the two superheroes' identities to each other. And Lois Lane wound up on the same cruise, because a female passenger chickened out at the beginning. Apparently only one person disappeared from the cruise, so Clark couldn't be given his own room.
    • A later comic retcons this story, saying that due to an overbooking error, there are only two rooms to share between Clark, Bruce, and Lois, and obviously Lois isn't going to share a bed with either of them.
    • In the Silver Age continuity, as well as in the current one, both Superman and his archenemy Lex Luthor spent most of their life in Smallville before moving to Metropolis. In other words, the two biggest public figures in one of the world's largest cities happen to come from the same small and obscure Kansas town.
  • This deliberately happened in Cable & Deadpool. In the wake of House of M, Deadpool was searching for the real Cable trapped somewhere in an alternative timeline. But just as he teleported to the real world with the real Cable, Scarlet Witch had changed the real world into her image, thus the middle aged Cable was transported into a baby (It Makes Sense in Context). And despite everything changing to normal, baby Cable stayed as a baby (but not for long). It was all to being sold as a tie-in to House of M, and apart from some breather issues forward it didn't do much for the plot.
  • Y: The Last Man:
    • The most successful human cloning scientist in the United States happens to be a woman who is the daughter of another scientist who may or may not have wiped out all the men in the world except him and Yorick and he tested on Yorick's monkey, Ampersand, who was probably the reason Yorick survived the gendercide and Yorick happened to get Ampersand through a shipping error because it was next to the monkey Yorick was supposed to get but didn't because they both escaped and the shipping guys didn't know which was which. There are plenty more.
    • The latter one isn't as much a coincidence when you realize that, once you grant the existence of the shipping error, someone would have gotten the vaccinated monkey, and they would probably be the last man instead of Yorick.
    • Very few names start with Y, so it's a pretty big coincidence that the only person (in fact, the only mammal) with a Y chromosome after the Gendercide would just happen to have a name that starts with the letter Y. But on the other hand, that's the selective reporting fallacy. M is a much more common initial letter (Mark, Matt, etc.), so if someone with one of those names had got the monkey he would have been "M: the Last Man", which also looks coincidental. Likewise, L (for "last"), V (for "vir", Latin for "man" in the masculine sense, "Homo" means Man in the human sense) and T (for "testosterone", which he has more of than anyone) are also common initial letters. It doesn't take too much imagination to come up with an epithet that goes with almost any initial letter, so the name thing isn't actually much of a coincidence even though it looks that way.
    • It's also not a huge coincidence that a successful biologist has a father who's also a successful biologist, given that parents often encourage their children to choose the same profession they have, and help them on their way. Which seems to be exactly the case in Y: The Last Man. Since cloning is implied to be both the cause and the solution to the gendercide, it doesn't take a huge leap of faith to accept that the expert they seek to help with the problem is also the daughter of the man who might've caused the problem.
      • On the topic of coincidental parentage, let's not forget that the last man alive just coincidentally happens to be the son of the woman who ends up as US president once all the men are taken out of the equation.
    • However, the fact that at the exact same moment Yorick is proposing to his girlfriend, 355 is carrying an ancient artifact that's prophesied to kill an exorbitant amount of men when it leaves the country it's in, and Dr. Mann and the woman her father impregnated give birth to their clone babies fits this trope rather well.
  • Justice League: Cry for Justice opens with heroes all across the world, all completely independently of each other, deciding to Rage Against the Heavens with "I want justice!" at the exact same time.
  • The Green Lantern / Green Arrow / The Flash Crossover "Three of a Kind" begins with Conner persuading Kyle and Wally to go on an Arctic cruise, only to find that Sonar, Hatchett and Heat Wave are on the ship, plotting to revive a catatonic Dr Polaris. Not only do the heroes stumble upon a crime, it's one that involves one villain from each of their Rogues Galleries! (Plus JLA villain Polaris.)
  • An issue of Grant Morrison's run on JLA begins with the team discovering that seven different supervillains, by pure coincidence, picked the exact same day to try kidnapping the president. The more and more contrived coincidences occur, including retroactively in time, eventually leading to the reveal that someone's been messing with probability.
  • Ultimate Origins tried to link together most prominent Ultimate characters in rather contrived ways.
  • In Swordquest: Waterworld, a war between the air-breathers and the Aqualanians is interrupted when the leaders of both factions are knocked unconscious, and the protagonists' rival convinces everyone that the protagonists — with no recollection that they're actually brother and sister — should settle things with a Duel to the Death.
  • In Convergence, it's amazing how many heroes who aren't normally based in Gotham or Metropolis just happened to be in the city taken by Brainiac at exactly the right time.
  • New York City is unusually small in The Sculptor.
    • Early in the book, David Smith is unwittingly involved in a large flash mob prank. That same night, the party his friend takes him to happens to include the participants of that same flash mob.
    • That same night, he makes friends with a woman from the group, Meg. Six weeks later, David nearly throws himself at a train, and Meg is there to rescue him, and to nurse him back to health since she apparently has a habit of treating people from off the streets.
    • David loses contact with his friend Olly when his phone service is canceled, but a week later randomly runs into him on a street.
  • Most of Revival is restricted to a small radius around a Michigan town so coincidences can be handwaved with one exception: the general assigned to coordinate the concentration camp happens to personally know that a secret ninja assassin is living in an Amish community less than fifty miles from the town and have enough influence to call in a lethal favor over said assassin's protests.
  • The first arc featuring Captain Mar-Vell had him sent to Earth in order to spy on the human population and see if they pose a threat to the Kree. By sheer coincidence, Yon-Rogg, Mar-Vell's treacherous superior, accidentally killed a military scientist named Walter Lawson, who was on his way to a new assignment at Cape Canaveral. Because Lawson was a recluse who had rarely been seen in public, Mar-Vell was able to assume the dead man's identity and begin working at the same military instillation where (unbeknownst to Mar-Vell) a captured Kree Sentry was being held.
  • Red Sonja: The Art of Blood and Fire shows Sonja tracking down the great chef Gribaldi, currently enslaved by swamp-dwelling cannibals. Gribaldi has secretly been freeing their human captives and cooking small lizards and eggs in their place for several weeks. Sonja just happens to arrive a couple of hours before lizardmen, enraged by the theft of their offspring, assault the swampdwellers. Sonja and Gribaldi escape in the confusion.
  • How short-lived 70s supergroup the Champions was formed: Iceman and the Angel have enrolled at UCLA, the Black Widow is applying for a professorship, Hercules is about to give a guest lecture and the Ghost Rider happens to be riding by just when Pluto's army is attempting to capture both Hercules and a professor who happens to be another goddess. Creator Tony Isabella, in his foreword to the Masterworks collection, acknowledged that he had "used up a year's allotment of coincidence" with that.
  • Spider-Man: A common trope in the comics and adaptations is the cartridges of both of his hands running out of web fluid at exactly the same time.

    Fairy Tales 
  • The pith and essence of the tale type known as "Doctor Know-All", the main character of which knows very little but is always saved by amazing coincidences that make him look good.
  • In every single telling of The Little Mermaid, including the Disney version, after the mermaid loses her voice and becomes human, the first human she encounters is always the prince, who just so happens to be wandering around at the time. And it's never a lowly fisherman, a villager, or even someone with shady intentions; it's always the prince, just for the sake of moving the story forward. The Disney version somewhat justifies this by implying the beach Eric's castle is located in is the one that's closest to Atlantica.

    Fan Works 
  • The story of Caitlin in Hogwarts Exposed is built on Contrived Coincidence. The girl with a ridiculously tragic backstory who Hermione takes pity on just happens to have exceptional magical potential that gets revealed later on and a twenty million Galleon inheritance.
  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, there was a need for a Dimensional Anchor. The item found in Tsuruya's backyard during the events of the seventh light novel? Guess what it is.
  • Averted and then subverted in With Strings Attached. The woman that kidnaps John turns out to be the person who has the Kansael, which the Fans were going to maneuver to Paul. Varx comments that this is a great coincidence, but Jeft points out that it's no coincidence—the script they wrote for the woman has been altered by an outside force. Which turns out to be the C'hovite gods. And the subversion is that it's not them, it's actually Jeft, who altered his own script and created his own coincidence.
  • Near the end of Twillight Sparkle's awesome adventure, Pinkie Pie finds a hidden elevator to Celesia's throne room. It's thoroughly lampshaded.
  • A minor one happens earlier on in Ponyville Goes to the... Dragons??. When Twilight is trying to make the three dragons feel more at ease, she hears one of their stomachs growl and starts to talk about Sugar Cube Corner, and all the treats it has there. This causes them to realize how hungry they are and start to drool with hungry looks on their face over Twilight's dicriptions of the treats there. Well, guess who everyone's favorite Moe Blob draconiphobic happens to walk in at that exact moment...
  • In Retsuraed, this trope is referenced by name in their MST of 'When Fifi met Tails', based on how Fifi's boyfriend (Hamton) is away on the day of a school dance at the same time Tails is in Acme Acres looking for a Chaos Emerald.
  • Turnabout Reunion: Athena just had to turn on the TV to see Sunset Shimmer's conviction. I mean, Detective Fulbright even specifically mentions Phoenix's name.
  • In Make a Wish, Harry's travels around the world (especially at the beginning) are fraught with so many Death Eater's deaths that people think that "Mr Black" (Harry's alias) is an über-Badass wizard that can make anything look like an accident.
  • A common event in Sonic X: Dark Chaos. The characters (especially Knuckles) frequently lampshade it.
  • In the story Harry Tano, it is explained in a throwaway line that each year, a different wizarding family uses this to ensure that all the new muggleborn students make it through to platform 9 & 3/4 so that they can get on the Express.
  • Justified and weaponized in Fist of the Moon. If you try to go back in time and change things, you become massively unlucky as the universe literally is out to get you.
  • "Paternally Yours" has Sweetie Belle lampshade one when she realizes that her singing tutor is her father.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: In Act V chapter 39, Moka and the others arrive at the destroyed human city shortly after Render, Leon, Apoch, Astreal, and Good!Falla's battle with Jovian, Jacqueline, and Evil!Falla has left the city in ruins; the HDA promptly uses this to blame the group for the destruction and place them under arrest. In Act VI chapter 10, after the group has escaped the HDA complex, Razico even notes that their arrival was bad timing.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, the Citadel Council lampshades this when they all conveniently show up in one spot where Caitlin Flanders finds them. It's heavily implied based on the previous chapter that Shepard and/orCortana caused this otherwise-unlikely group-up to happen, as Grayson wonders if they've been "set up."
  • Dante's Night At Freddy's 2: Animatronic Boogaloo treats the reader to the ridiculous coincidence that Not only did Dante's twin brother Vergil once work the security post at a Freddy Fazbear restaurant in 1985, but also killed the animatronics within in almost identical ways that Dante would over thirty years later. To the point that, when Dante was sent back in time to 1987, he didn't even realize he was in a prequel. Of course, given every absurd moment leading up to it, it's Played for Laughs.
  • In Flam Gush when Lina is cut by a poisoned knife in a town she and Gourry are visiting for the first time, the nearest citizen Gourry finds to ask for help recognizes Lina, having known her when they were children. Then, the doctor Ryan takes them too once healed Gourry's mother as well when he was a child. It is implied that Erik may have arranged at least part of this for his plan for Lina.
  • In The Fifth Act Zack is extremely fortunate that he went outside and went below Plate when he was musing over his failure to find out what happened to Cloud and Kunsel. Because he literally bumps into Young Cloud who went to Midgar to find Cloud and treat the Mako-overdosed Kunsel.
  • In Son of the Desert Edward happens to wandering Central to find and talk to other Ishvalans and Roy is literally tossed to him when he is thrown out of a bar.
  • Empathy: This is referenced in the first chapter's title: Chance Encounter, which was when Riley wandered into the beginning of Big Hero 6.
  • In The Shadow, Luke Skywalker makes friends with Black Three who happens to have friends who regularly hire Dash Rendar for transportation. Dash takes Luke and Black Three's friends in his ship to watch a fireworks display and Mara Jade happens to see it, who goes to inform Vader. Vader is on the look out for a YT series Corellian freighter and happens to find the Millenium Falcon that was trying to infiltrate Coruscant (despite being the most recognizable ship the Alliance has) that day. Luke gets picked up by a different Star Destroyer, which happens to be the one the Alliance attacks while trying to rescue Han and Leia. Though given that it allowed Vader to learn Leia is his daughter and has become a Jedi, one could argue it was the Force at work.
  • In Robb Returns, this is a common occurrence. For example, when the Call happened, Brienne of Tarth was on the Vale, and she was pulled towards the Isle of Faces, which leads to her meeting Brynden Tully.
    • Big one in chapter 74, where Bronn's keep is exactly in the right place to catch Lysa Arryn as the injury she got from attacking Jon Arryn is festering.
  • This Bites!: How was Vivi to know that they'd show up at Water 7 right when the Aqua Laguna would be coming in on the next day? Well, knowing the Straw Hats' luck...
  • A Gem in the Rough: After leaving Alabasta, quite a few things happen in a convenient manner for the Crystal Gems and the Straw Hats:
    • Pressing the Belly Bag Badge causes them to go straight to Beach City instead of the U.G.R.V. like it was supposed to.
    • Vidalia manages to cause Amethyst to reform after taking quite a long period of time to do so.
    • Capturing Peridot the night after they come back.
    • Greg eating the Rhythm-Rhythm Fruit, which was found by Onion stuck to the hull.
    • All of this turns out to have a logical explanation: Garnet accidentally turned on the "Plot Contrivance Mode" of the Belly Bag Badge, which Uncle Grandpa turned off for them.
  • In Gift of A Diamond, Blue Diamond received complaints in droves about Rhodonite from Holly Blue Agate. This eventually stops after Holly gets demoted to cleaning duty with Rhodonite taking her place after she proposed having him shattered for not following orders that could have resulted in human deaths.
  • In Ripples of Coincidences SG-1 informally adopts a four-year-old Harry after Marge Dursley abandons him in Colorado. Due to his Parseltongue ability and their belief that his father was an alien, they decide to take him off-world.
    By sheer coincidence, the total time that took one Albus Dumbledore to be informed that something was wrong at the Dursley residence, find the time to check it out, just about have a heart attack at realizing Harry Potter was no longer there and the Dursleys had been arrested, quietly panic, call for a search of the missing boy-hero, run into walls not even magic could get through, get mightily frustrated, finally accept that he wasn't going to be told where the child was and resort to a Locating Ritual to find him, amounted exactly to the time needed for SG-1's uncharacteristic mission to be approved, prepared, and launched.
  • crawlersout: Fem!Harry's forgetting to pay her taxes somehow leads to her meeting Gellert Grindelwald, who takes an interest in her and subsequently establishes himself as both the Big Bad and her Stalker with a Crush in later meetings. Though it's heavily implied that the initial encounter was not a coincidence at all.
  • Sylvia the Sylveon has several of these, all of which involve the titular character reuniting with her family:
    • When Sylvia loses the collar that allows her family to recognise her, it is found by a friend of her sister, Lucretia - and it is the fact that said friend had wandered off that leads to the reunion.
    • Sylvia leaves behind Hikaru, Nicodemus, and Dilandau because she sees who she thinks is one of her brothers - she is half-right. However, her "reunion" with Vapor does not go well.
    • Sylvia is sold to the same people who captured her brother Alseides, and the two of them happen to be the competitors in their next Beastly Bloodsports-esque fight - which gives her a chance to save him. Later, after they both get caught in a landslide, their brother Moondancer, who happens to be nearby at that moment, helps Sylvia take the dying Alseides to a Pokémon Center.
    • Sylvia passes out from starvation; not only does it happen right as a certain green-haired man is passing by, but it happens just outside where her brother Bolt and his family lives, leading to them to look after her instead. Sylvia even describes the reunion as "one that I thought I would [n]ever ever experience".
    • Sylvia happens to witness her brother Konoha evolving and getting beaten up by his trainer for his defiance - prompting her to come to his rescue.
    • Not only does Sylvia return home just as her father is about to die, but he manages to hold on long enough to hear about both her and Moondancer's adventures - which is also what he needed to die happy.
  • In Neither a Bird, nor a Plane, It's Deku!, the can Izuku kicked in frustration just a few minutes earlier flew across the city and hit All Might in the head, giving the Sludge Villain an opportunity to escape and attack Izuku, which in turn attracted All Might after he saw Izuku's Heat Vision go off in the distance while the boy was escaping the Sludge Villain. Izuku is painfully aware of this.
    All Might: I almost had him, but then a can fell out of the sky and hit me in the face, giving him an opening. Seriously, a can falling out of the sky! How does that even happen?!
    Izuku: [sheepish] I-I-I wouldn't know...
  • In Not this time, Fate, in the time between Jaune deciding not to go to Beacon during this loop (to last longer and have more time to prepare next loopnote ) and Beacon's Initiation, he somehow manages to meet the entirety of teams RWBY, CRDL, JNPR, CFVY, Emerald, Glynda, and Ozpin. All on top of a Beowolf attack that never happened in the original timeline. Jaune maintains his decision not to enter Beacon, right up until his meeting with Yang leads to a Bar Brawl that'd have them both spending the next several years in prison if he doesn't "admit" to being a student at Beacon.

    Film — Animated 
  • An American Tail:
    • Fievel gets washed overboard in a raging storm in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Instead of drowning, he somehow ends up inside a floating glass bottle, which somehow ends up washing ashore right onto Liberty Island, which coincidentally is near New York, where Fievel's family was headed. Luck and the ocean currents were definitely on little Fievel's side, apparently.
    • More coincidences occurred where Fievel and his family kept missing each other when they were in the same place.
  • The Road to El Dorado: The guy the duo gambles against happens to have a map to El Dorado just as the Spanish Fleet is leaving for South America, the duo happen to wash up right on its shores after days adrift at sea, and a volcanic eruption happens (and cancels itself) just as the duo are asked for proof of their divinity.
  • Hoodwinked:
    • It's clear that the four main characters ending up in Granny's house has to be this. In order, Granny Puckett arrives first, parachuting in through the chimney, coincidentally just as the Wolf and Twitchy are arriving at the house. Her parachute gets caught in the ceiling fan which ties her up and throws her in the closet. The Wolf and Twitchy search the place, presumably for maybe no more than five to ten minutes before Red Puckett, the person they are trying to get information from about the Goody Bandit, arrives. By even more coincidence, Kirk, the lumberjack, is trying to cut down a giant redwood tree up a hill from Granny's. By freak coincidence, just as Kirk is hearing a scream from the cottage, the tree topples and takes him down the hill, and throws him through the side window. About half the plot is Legs working this out, since the cops originally didn't believe a word of it.
    • Red Puckett is like Contrived Coincidence to a T: The bandit strikes her granny's store while she happens to be in a treehouse nearby (he's gone by the time she reaches the store, so it's clear she jogs a short distance).
    • Later, the Wolf just happens to show up when she falls from the cable car (though this is revealed by the Wolf's story to be because he was doing surveillance on her based on information from his informant Woolworth).
    • Red and the Wolf happen to end up traveling through the same coal mine at the exact same time. Their carts come within a few feet at least twice, and neither character notices the other. Further more, it just happens to be a coincidence in both of their cases that they stumble upon the coal mine: Red finds it through Japeth, who lives in a mine shack that turns out to be the first building she's seen in a few hours, while the Wolf happens to find a ladder out of the cavern he and Twitchy have been traveling through (having trusted Boingo with directions).
    • Red happens to encounter Granny while her mine cart is airborne. Granny has just escaped an avalanche and is flying home in a parachute.
    • All four characters' encounters with Boingo have to count: in Red's story, he just happens to be on the roadside when he sees her riding by on her bike. In the Wolf's story, he conveniently shows up at the right time to suggest a (not) shortcut to Granny's place. In Kirk's story, Boingo conveniently happens to be the first passerby to show up after Kirk finds his truck raided. He also appears right before Granny's ski race to get her autograph. This is because he's actually the Big Bad and behind much of the plot. He's by the roadside because he just finished robbing the store when he first meets Red and when he meets Kirk, he and Wolf run into each other because both are following Red, and he's actually there arranging a hit on Granny when she meets him.
  • The LEGO Movie:
    • Done twice. The first time, when stranded in the ocean, Batman claims there's no chance of a rescue ship approaching just as Metalbeard's ship arrives. The second time, they need to build an Octan jet, to which Batman says there's no way they'll get access to a working hyperdrive. Cue the Millennium Falcon coming in.
      Batman: Are you kidding me, the same bit?!
    • However, the multiple coincidences are justified in-story by The Reveal: the whole LEGO universe is a story being told by an 8 1/2 year-old kid who's making up the plot as he goes.
  • Toy Story: Sid just happened to be at Pizza Planet where Woody and Buzz were trying to find Andy. It also happened that he decided to try the Claw Machine when Woody and Buzz accidentally ended up in it. He also chose out of all the Little Green Men the one covering Buzz revealing their location.
  • Wreck-It Ralph:
    • Fix-It Felix, lovestruck by the Statuesque Stunner Sergeant Calhoun, compliments her as "one dynamite gal". Which just happens to be an unstoppable Berserk Button for her, as it's what her late fiance used to call her as well.
    • Another one is Ralph discovering that Vanellope is a legitimate character in her game rather then a glitch: In anger, he threw the medal he "won" in the Hero's Duty game at the game screen. This knocked the taped on the out of order sign off to reveal Vanellope's picture on the side of the Sugar Rush arcade cabinet. Which so happens to be right in view of the Fix-it-Felix cabinet.
  • Frozen:
    • At the climax, all six central characters arrive at the same spot in the middle of a frozen harbor. Now, a few of them were looking for each other, but the snowstorm kept them from seeing far ahead and the most clue they had to finding the other seemed to be just heading straight forward and hoping for the best.
      • Also on a lesser note, all of them happens to stand right on a boat that allow them to keep afloat. Granted it probably would change little if they didn't other than having them all soaking wet in a water.
    • The villain had extraordinarily good luck for just two days of executing his plan. Hoping for a chance to gain the throne of some kingdom, Prince Hans visits a royal family he knew nothing about due to their reclusiveness. By nighttime he's already engaged to Arendelle's princess out of her sheer impulsiveness. A few minutes later the queen flees, the princess goes after her, and Hans is given acting command of the kingdom. The next day Princess Anna is wounded in a way he can easily blame on Queen Elsa, giving him all the cover he needs to murder them both and become king.
    • Anna is incredibly lucky that she managed to freeze at the exact time for Hans' sword to break and be blown away. If she froze earlier, she would not have been able to intercept the sword just in time for her to shield her sister against Hans' killing blow. If she froze later, she would have met a bloody end in front of a grief-stricken Elsa whose sight of her sister being cut in half would have likely traumatize her even further and would either snap in rage or hit the Despair Event Horizon even further that she takes her own life.
  • In Penguins of Madagascar, Dave somehow knew ahead of time that the Penguins were going to break into Fort Knox and go for the vending machine long before they even told Private of their plans.
  • The Emperor's New Groove:
    • Lampshaded when Yzma (in cat form) has finally gotten the potion back from Kuzco and is promptly squished by Kronk throwing open the other opening of the chute he had fallen into a good while ago (too long ago to have taken this long, but this movie runs on pure Rule of Funny). His quote — while still oblivious to what he had just done — "Wow. What are the odds of that trap door leading way out here?"
    • The Emperor's New Groove is full of this. Before that, there was Yzma's miraculous survival when she fell off of the top of the palace. For no reason at all, at that very moment, a trampoline had been accidentally delivered to the palace and set up where she was falling.
  • Tokyo Godfathers has quite a bit of this, to the point of being a plot point. One of the main characters repeatedly mentions that the baby they've found is a gift from God, and we see many times that she might be what's making everything fall into place so perfectly.
  • In Yellowbird, the titular character and his flock are caught in a storm and opt to take shelter in an abandoned oil tanker half buried in the seafloor. There are plenty of signs that the ship has been sitting there for years, but only after the birds arrive does it begin to collapse and sink into the depths.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Back to the Future, the day Doc invents time travel just happens to be the same day that Marty's parents meet. Lampshaded by Doc in Back to the Future Part II:
    Doc: It could mean that that point in time inherently contains some sort of cosmic significance, almost as if it were the temporal junction point of the entire space-time continuum. On the other hand, it could just be an amazing coincidence.
  • Street Angel: Gino and Angela, parted lovers, happen to run into each other in the docks. Gino chases Angela, who had left him, and they happen to run into the church where the portrait of Angela, painted by Gino in their happy days, is exhibited. Seeing it makes him forgive her.
  • In A Woman of Paris, Marie is given vague directions to a party. She goes to the wrong apartment, which just happens to be where her old boyfriend from her hometown now lives.
  • In Dodsworth, Dodsworth meets Edith, a pretty divorcee, on the boat from New York to London. Then he meets her again, months later, in Italy.
  • Every movie in the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man Trilogy has this trope.
    • The worst offender is Spider-Man 2, though:
      • First, Peter is delivering some pizzas as Spider-Man and just happen to be swing by in the exact instant that some kids are about to get run over by a car; he saves them.
      • After that, Peter just happens to be crossing the same street and area in which some thugs are escaping from the police that very moment and gets his bike destroyed by their car, leading to an important plot point that strikes a rift in his relationship with Mary Jane.
      • Next, Peter just happens to walk past some thugs beating up a guy and can't help but feel unable to intervene (that others are ignorant of the mugging could be an example of the bystander effect).
      • He and Aunt May just happen to be at the same bank that Octavius decides to rob to get money for his enhanced tritium experiment. Then when Ock nabs a civilian out of a crowd to use a human shield, it just happens to be the aunt of his nemesis whose identity he doesn't even know yet.
      • And then finally, Peter just happens to be at a nearby newsstand when an apartment building on the nearby corner catches fire. Note that in all but one of those examples, he wasn't in his Spider-Man costume; he was merely a bystander minding his own business. It's like he attracts accidents and crimes!
      • Then there was also the part in which Spidey is fighting Doctor Octopus and they both plummet onto the rail tracks and land on a train that was just passing under them. If they fell even a second earlier, they would've landed on the tracks in front of the train, with predictable results.
    • Spider-Man 3: The Venom symbiote just happens to fall out of the sky and land near Peter Parker, and the Sandman just happens to be the guy who killed Uncle Ben. Then Peter chooses to get rid of the symbiote in the same church where Eddie was praying at that very moment, which allowed the latter to become Venom.
    • On a broader Spider-Man note: all five major villains had a personal connection to Peter Parker. Green Goblin was his best friend's father. He'd met Otto Octavius several times, and he definitely remembered him. New Goblin was his best friend, Venom was a rival photographer whose girlfriend he stole, and Sandman killed his uncle. In addition, the villains tend to take his friends and family hostage a lot - Mary Jane gets kidnapped in every movie (by Norman Osborn in the first, by Otto Octavius in the second, and by Eddie Brock in the third), Aunt May is taken hostage by Octavius in the aforementioned bank robbery, and the Bugle is attacked by the Green Goblin. It seems the writers never quite grasped the concept that there are in fact more than eight people in New York (To be fair though, the Spider-Man comics are much the same way, to the point that it was considered a twist when a villain turned out to be someone that Peter didn't know).
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman just happens to show up when Selina Kyle is being cornered by Bane's men and upon returning to Gotham, it seems Bruce is very quick to locate Selina. It's a Small World After All.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers just happens to befriend a random Air Force veteran who turns out to be trained in using a classified Stark Industries flight exosuit that allows him to become The Falcon.
    • In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers go to hundreds of paper files in an attempt to determine where Ultron fled. They happen to guess correctly that he's gone to South Africa, solely because of finding a file on Vibranium smuggler Ulysses Klaue, with no clues that Ultron is interested in him or any other figure in their files.
    • In the first act of Captain America: Civil War, Tony Stark demonstrates a holographic memory projection (to a live audience) of the last time he saw his parents alive, and the cause of their deaths the same day plays a big part in the third act.
    • Early on in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor and Loki accidentally end up stranded on the alien world of Sakaar after Hela attacks them while they are being teleported by the Bifrost. Luckily for them, Thor's old teammate the Incredible Hulk is alsoon Sakaar, having somehow ended up there after the events of Age of Ultron two years earlier. What's more, Thor quickly encounters a bounty hunter who turns out to be an Asgardian warrior living in exile, whom he is eventually able to convince to help him escape Sakaar and return to Asgard to stop Hela.
    • In Avengers: Infinity War, this is how the Guardians of the Galaxy meet Thor. First, they are the only ones to hear the distress call from the Asgardian refugee vessel, and happen to be close enough to the ship's position to locate it. Despite protests from Rocket, Gamora argues that they need to go and help out. They arrive to find the ship completely destroyed, with the dead bodies of the various Asgardians floating through space. Then, Thor crashes into their windshield, and briefly opens his remaining eye, signaling that he's somehow still alive. Because of this, the Guardians bring him aboard their ship and learn that the Asgardians were slaughtered by Thanos, Gamora's adoptive father, who is after the Infinity Stones. Were it not for all of these extremely unlikely coincidences, the Guardians likely never would have gotten involved in the plot of the movie, and Thor probably would have been left floating in the vast emptiness of space.
  • Independence Day has loads of this, being a massive homage to old disaster and sci-fi movies, which were also loaded with this.
    • To take just one of many, Capt. Steven Hiller, an astronaut wannabe and the only fighter jock to survive an attack on his base, who has shot down an alien fighter and captured its pilot, just happens to crash nearly in front of a convoy of refugees who happen to be driving in the general vicinity of Area 51, which Hiller just happened to notice in the middle of a dogfight. The most contrived coincidence is David Levinson's Eureka Moment on how to beat the aliens...triggered by his father's admonishment to bundle up to avoid catching a cold...
    • David Levinson also just happens to be the ex-husband of the President's Chief of Staff, giving him a way to save the President in the 11th hour. Hiller's fiancee also just happens to be the one who finds the First Lady.
  • Lampshade Hanging in The Great Muppet Caper: When Miss Piggy is stranded and needs to get across town in time to foil a museum heist, a motorcycle just happens to drop off a passing box van, to which she remarks, "What an unbelievable coincidence!"
  • Star Wars:
    • All six films are riddled with bizarre It's a Small World After All (or rather galaxy) moments, starting with C-3PO and R2-D2 just happening to be brought to the Lars homestead. There's some justification, since "There's no such thing as luck," and KOTOR lampshades the matter by having most Jedi characters interpret the massive coincidences and unlikely happenings coming their way as part of the Will of the Force.
      Mission: Wow. What are the chances of that happening?
      Canderous: Remember, we're talking about the Force here. At this point, Malak himself could drop out of the sky, and I wouldn't bat an eyelash.
      Mission: Good point.
    • A specific example from Episode IV: the odds of Luke meeting up with childhood friend Biggs at the Rebel base (as shown in the Special Edition) is next to nothing — as the two characters themselves acknowledge earlier in the film (this part of the footage was not restored).
    • In Episode II, Obi-Wan happens to find an army being formed on Kamino at almost exactly the same time the Republic needs one, as the growing Confederacy problem is mere days away from spilling into outright war. As usual for Star Wars, it's justified much better in the expanded universe, but taking the film on its own merits, the sudden turn of events is just too convenient to take seriously.
    • Episode II makes the coincidence of C-3PO and R2-D2 arriving at the Lars homestead even more contrived. Episode II shows that C-3PO came to the Lars homestead along with Anakin's mother, and was there for YEARS, along with Owen and Beru, before being taken away by Anakin and Obi-Wan during their visit. When C-3PO happened to coincidentally return there 20 years later (during Episode IV), Owen didn't even recognize him, and C-3PO didn't remember being there. This is handwaved at the end of Episode III with an order to wipe C-3PO's memory (since he was built by Anakin). But his name didn't change, and that shouldn't have prevented Owen from remembering him (although to be fair, Owen was old by that point and had probably seen a LOT of protocol droids in his time, C-3PO was a fairly common model). It does explain R2-D2's knowledge of exactly where to go on Tattooine in Episode 4 though - he'd been there before, and unlike C-3PO, his memory wasn't wiped.
    • Used egregiously in The Force Awakens to get the main cast together. Rey happens to live within walking distance of Lor San Tekka, despite there being no known reason as to why they'd even be on the same planet, and BB8 just happens to run into her while fleeing the First Order. Finn, meanwhile, just happens to be part of the First Order division that attacks Tekka's village. When his and Poe's ship is shot down, they land close enough to the market Rey sells her goods at that he's able to find it wandering aimlessly, and Rey just happens to be there with BB8 (who recognizes Finn because he just happened to take Poe's jacket) when he arrives. Then, when they need to steal a ship to escape from the First Order, the ship they choose just happens to be the Millennium Falcon, which had, by a series of unrelated events, somehow ended up in the possession of Rey's boss. After they escape, they're picked up by another ship... Which just happens to belong to Han and Chewie, the Millennium Falcon's previous owners, who just happened to be in the area looking for it!
    • Padme Amidala, the Queen of Naboo, ends up giving birth to Leia Organa, the Princess of Alderaan, by a complete coincidence. After Padme's untimely death, her daughter is adopted by the Alderaanian senator Bail Organa, who just happens to be married to the Queen of Alderaan; Leia then grows up as a princess without ever knowing that her biological mother was also a Queen. Taken a step further in the Expanded Universe: Leia's daughter Jaina Solo ends up marrying the man who becomes the new Galactic Emperor (making her an Empress) and her son Jacen Solo has a daughter with the Queen of Hapes (making Leia's granddaughter a princess too). Apparently, the Skywalker women just have a knack for ending up as royalty.
      • This one is at least minimally explained by Bail Organa being a close friend of Padme Amidala (given that they're both Senators with some connection to royalty and similar values, this one is plausible) and the fact that he's one of the few people to know the truth (a little more coincidental, since most of Padme's friends aren't told). The expanded universe variations, however, do stretch the bounds of credibility, especially given that Jacen and Jaina never thought of themselves as royalty (at most, they were the children of an elected leader when Leia was running the Senate). The fact that Jacen even knew Tenel Ka, let alone became the man she fell in love with, was more or less by chance.
  • Quite a few of these involve Kevin being left behind by his family on Home Alone:
    • In the first movie, Kevin being punished and sent to his room after punching Buzz for eating his pizza kept him out of sight from the rest of his family when they left for the airport. Also, a tree branch happened to fall on the power lines, muting the alarm clocks and caused the family to oversleep which drove them into such a hurry that they forgot about Kevin.
    • In the second movie, Kevin winds up in New York after following a man who looks like his father from the back (and was even wearing the same coat). Harry and Marv were also in New York after escaping prison, but they didn't come looking for Kevin. They simply wanted to go there to get filthy rich. They also visited the toy store they planned to rob when Kevin just happened to be shopping there as well. And when they kidnapped Kevin and were waiting to cross the street, Kevin seized the opportunity to escape by touching the butt of a woman standing in front of them and blames it on them. Surprisingly, this happened to be the same woman that Marv hit on earlier in the film.
  • Quite a bit of it goes down in Crash, most conspicuously the car crash scene with the cop and the woman he had molested earlier.
  • In Borat, the titular character falls for Pam Anderson at first sight, but doesn't wish to cheat on his wife. A few hours later, Borat receives a letter telling that his wife is dead. High five!
  • Tokusatsu action film Casshern runs on this in almost every single scene, with the broken lightning bolt from a giant mountaintop statue accidentally landing in a scientist's mystical Neo-Cell soup and reanimating a bunch of dismembered body parts into the badass Shinzo-Ningen...who then just happen to stumble during their escape into the funeral of the scientist's dead war-hero son and kidnap his mother and then just happen to find a giant war factory in the middle of nowhere with an army of robots for them to use...while the scientist resurrects his dead son whose expanded musculature can only be contained by a super-suit coincidentally designed by the scientist dad of his girlfriend... and that's only the beginning! The only excuse this movie has for any of it is its stylized weirdness and the epic, Gotterdammerung-esque tone that hints that, though not explicitly stated, literal Deus ex Machina may be involved. After all, that was a convenient lightning bolt.
  • In Vantage Point, watching the Contrived Coincidences come together is half the fun. The other half is figuring out the stinking Gambit Roulette.
  • In The Fifth Element, the taxi Leeloo falls into just happens to be that of the ex-special forces major who was chosen to bring back the four elemental stones. Apparently, The Call Knows Where You Drive.
  • Receives a Lampshade Hanging in George of the Jungle, with the narrator's line, "Every story has a really big coincidence and here's ours..."
  • Music and Lyrics: Alex is a musician and former pop-band singer/songwriter who has been commissioned to write a pop song for a current pop queen, but only ever wrote the music and can't write lyrics. Sophie, the girl who waters his plants, turns out to be a budding lyrical prodigy. What a happy coincidence!
  • In Lantana the number of coincidences builds up to become a theme. All of the major characters bump into each other randomly. Taken further in the original play, Speaking in Tongues. In the first act, Leon and Jane's tryst takes place simultaneously with Sonja and Pete, and with nearly all the same dialogue. This occurs again when Sonja and Pete confess their near-affair to Leon and Jane only to find that their spouse cheated on them. In later acts, it is revealed that Sarah is having an affair with John behind her therapist/his wife's back, and that Leon, the detective investigating Valerie's disappearance, ran into Sarah's ex-boyfriend while jogging. In the film, Sarah is changed into a male gay patient of Valerie's who she wrongly suspects of having an affair with her husband. The jogger ends up dating Leon's police partner. In addition, Jane lives next door to Nick, who is suspected of Valerie's murder, while Pete was accosted in the street by Valerie the night she died, shortly before meeting Leon and having a drink with him.
  • Star Trek:
    • No attempt is made to explain the immense improbability of Kirk running into Spock Prime in a cave on the ice planet and thereby getting the exposition he needs to save the day. Even if we assume that both Nero and current Spock dropped their respective people off near the outpost, what are the chances of running into another person within a 14km radius? They're both going to the same place, but the most likely place for them to encounter each other is near the facility, not in a random ice cave. The novelization lampshades it by suggesting that the timeline is attempting to restore itself.
    • Then there's the fact that Scotty just happens to have been Reassigned to Antarctica in an outpost a mile away from the cave...
    • Also the Enterprise's Chief Medical Officer and Chief Engineer are killed leaving those posts vacant for McCoy and Scotty respectively, Uhura has the specific linguistic knowledge to bump her up to the Communications station and Kirk gets an implausibly rapid promotion from cadet (on probation!) to Starship Captain, all so we can get the classic crew together in their correct places by the end of the film.
  • Run, Lola, Run is one long Lampshade Hanging, hung on variations on a theme.
  • Played for laughs in Without a Clue. Holmes's (and Watson's) contrived method of solving the final clue turns out to be true, but the real solution is far simpler. Holmes and Watson read the final clue, a partial serial number (234) as being part of a kidnap victim's code. The victim's favourite book of the bible was the book of Psalms. Psalm 23, verse 4 leads them to a passage that referenced an In-Universe famous play: The Shadow Of Death, which played at a local theatre which was, in fact, where he was being held captive. 234 was also the address of the theatre, which was what the victim really intended.
  • Brooklyn's Finest has its climax as one of these when all three cops end up in the same area as each other for different reasons. Its still done well though.
  • Jake happens to see and stop a random schoolgirl from being raped in Training Day. Afterwards, she runs off and he takes her wallet to give back to her later. Several hours later, Alonzo betrays Jake by turning him over to some gang bangers. The lead of those gangbangers happens to be the girl's cousin and they discover her wallet seconds before blowing Jake's head off. It's the only thing that saves him. To be fair, Antoine Fuqua stated in the commentary that the incident with the schoolgirl is what gave Alonzo the idea to use the Hillside Très crew to get rid of Jake. Considering the gang can't be bigger than a single block, it makes the coincidence much more plausible. One might even think is plausible enough to make it a bit risky for Alonzo to use such a small crew who's cousin his partner just saved.
  • Indiana Jones:
    • Subverted in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy finding Marion coincidentally in the first tent he happens to stumble into? Meh, cliched. Him deciding to leave her there since he can't take her that easily out of the camp? That's a new twist.
    • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. As a teenager, Indy used a whip for the first time (giving him his chin scar), gets his fear of snakes, and his signature fedora all in the same day.
  • In The Mummy (1999) when Rick and Evelyn set out on their expedition to Hamunaptra, another expedition for the same long lost city being led by Rick's old associate Beni just happens to depart from the exact same location, on the exact same ship, on the same totally random day.
  • The Great Dictator: Let's see...there's a random barber who happens to look exactly the same as Adenoid Hynkel, the fascist dictator of Tomania. He happens to be Jewish. And he happens to wake from a coma in which he's been trapped for twenty years, just around the same time that Hynkel is planning on invading Osterlich. Moreover, it turns out that this barber's old war buddy is now a high-ranking member (turned Defector from Decadence) of the fascist party. Oh...and Hynkel just happens to get lost on a duck-hunting trip at exactly the right moment for the barber to take his place.
  • In The Truman Show, the producers' increasing reliance on these in desperate attempts to convince Truman everything's normal and stop him from suspecting the sham he's living in backfire spectacularly and only drive him ever more paranoid.
  • In Top Secret!, this receives a Lampshade Hanging courtesy of the protagonist.
    Nick: I'm not the first guy who fell in love with a woman that he met at a restaurant who turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist only to lose her to her childhood lover whom she last saw on a deserted island who then turned out fifteen years later to be the leader of the French underground.
    Hillary: I know. It all sounds like some bad movie. (Aside Glance)
  • Lampshaded in Wayne's World when, upon stepping out of an Alice Cooper concert for a moment, they conveniently talk to a security guard who tells them the travel plans of a producer who could help the career of Wayne's girlfriend Cassandra.
    Garth: Aren't we lucky we were there to get all that information?
    Wayne: Yes. It seemed extraneous at the time.
  • The plot of The Perfect Host kicks off when an escaping bank robber goes into a convenience store to treat his injury. It just happens to get robbed by a completely unrelated criminal, which delays him and gets him noticed by the store clerk. So he talks his way into a nearby house to hide out, the occupant of which just happens to be a lunatic who likes drugging strangers and having all night "dinner parties" with them. And it gets more ridiculous from there: the lunatic just happens to be the LAPD Lieutenant assigned to investigate the robbery he committed.
  • Superman. When Otis screws up and enters the wrong coordinates into the first nuclear missile they just happen to be the coordinates for Hackesnsack, New Jersey, where Miss Teschmacher's mother lives. This motivates Miss Teschmacher to save Superman from Luthor's Drowning Pit so he can stop the missile. What are the odds?
  • How two twelve-foot hyper-aggressive Great White Sharks both ended up in the same flooded convenience store in Bait 3D is anyone's guess.
  • In GoldenEye, Bond's performance evaluation just happens to be set in Monte Carlo, where Xenia and the Janus Syndicate are just about to steal the experimental EMP-proof helicopter. Moreover, Bond randomly meets Xenia while they are driving on the same road into the city at the exact same time, leading to their impromptu race. In fairness, this appears to have been a field test, and Bond was already in Monte Carlo following up on a lead tracking down members of the Janus syndicate to question. Him encountering Xenia on the road is the only contrived coincidence there.
  • In Die Hard with a Vengeance, McClane is chasing Simon Gruber through the half-finished aqueduct, when the latter blows a dam and floods it. The water pressure shoots McClane out of a drainspout literally the moment Zeus passes it, allowing him to pick him up and continue the plot. Had the two missed each other and taken any time to reconnect, they would have missed their opportunity to later board the boat and Gruber's plan would have gone off without a hitch. Not to mention, of the hundreds of schools in New York City, the one Simon has planted his bomb in is the one where Zeus (who only entered the story randomly) has his two kids enrolled.
  • Honest Trailers accused the plot of the film adaptation of World War Z of being like this:
    Narrator: Watch Brad Pitt survive an un-survivable apocalypse thanks to a constant stream of lifesaving coincidences like: never hitting traffic in the middle of mass hysteria; finding an RV with the keys and a loaded gun inside; this friendly mugger showing him where to find medicine; this friendly Mexican family taking him in, no questions asked; these fast zombies who slow down as soon as they are about to catch him; this small child headshotting a zombie on top of him; this plane dropping a ladder down to save him at takeoff; this Israeli soldier killing a zombie about to eat him; surviving this car crash; surviving this plane crash; surviving a spike through his stomach; and shooting up with a randomly picked virus that happens to be curable while also serving as zombie camouflage.
  • Lethal Weapon 2: The first film establishes that Riggs' wife died in a car crash. In the sequel, he learns that The Dragon of this film's Big Bad murdered his wife in a completely unrelated scheme.
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle has these by the bucketful, often with some Lampshade Hanging to boot.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • Raven Darkholme, one mutant, just so happened to break into the house of Charles Xavier, another mutant, to steal food. What are the odds?
      • Schmidt/Shaw working with the Nazis to perform genetic experiments upon prisoners makes sense. But what are the odds that he'd be in the very same prison camp as a young Erik Lehnsherr, looking out his window at the very moment when Erik's power just happen to manifest?
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: It's awfully convenient that Colonel Stryker and his team were already near Westchester, NY when Apocalypse mind-controls Xavier with Cerebro to force every nuclear missile operator across the globe to launch nukes into outer space.
  • How Kelly discovers the terrorist plot in Bradleys Summer. One of them contacts her on AOL Instant Messenger by flubbing the intended screenname, accidentally contacting "Radio 549" (who is Kelly) instead of "Radio249" (who is the terrorist's accomplice). Furthermore, said terrorist happens to be the one who plans to blow up the house the main character is staying at.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince hangs a lampshade on the frequency Harry, Hermione, and Ron stumble into a plot that puts the whole school in danger, which is every time it happens.
    Prof. McGonagall: Why is it, when something happens, it is always you three?
    Ron: Believe me, Professor, I’ve been asking myself the same question for six years.
  • In the Brazilian comedy Lisbela e o Prisioneiro (Lisbela and the Prisoner), this sort of coincidence sets up the plot. The protagonist happens to have sex with a woman who is married to a Psycho for Hire. He escapes before the man can kill him, and neither of them gets a good look at the other's face. Months later, the hitman is about to be run over by a stray bull... and guess who saves him? It becomes really funny when the Psycho for Hire decides he must pay the favor to this man he's just met by killing one of his enemies - and the protagonist launches into a tirade insulting and mocking the very man who's in front of him.
  • In Pixels:
    • The US President happens to have a friend who used to be a world champion in arcade games and he has his term when aliens invade using arcade games.
    • Sam comes to install Violet's son's console just as he's called by the President to the White House and she's called by her bosses in the military to the White House. At least this time, it's lampshaded.
  • In The Suicide Theory, a series of these set off the plot, and prove to Percival that his fate is intertwined with Steve's. He turns out to be absolutely right.
  • Serendipity: All the events that prevent Jonathan from finding with Sara in NYC (and vice-versa), with some of them being far more believable than others.
  • The Silence of the Lambs: FBI trainee Clarice Starling is asked to interview the institutionalized Hannibal Lecter—a former psychiatrist—in the vague hope that he might be able to give the FBI some psychological insight that might lead them to the fugitive killer "Buffalo Bill". It turns out that Buffalo Bill's first victim (who the authorities never found out about) was one of Lecter's old patients, and that Lecter has personally met Buffalo Bill himself. The FBI had no way of knowing either of those things when they decided to interview Lecter for clues, and it's a complete coincidence that someone who knows Bill's identity is already conveniently under lock and key in an asylum.
  • R.O.T.O.R.: Sonya is shown stopping her car at a gas station to call the police, which suggests that she doesn't have any on-board means of communication. In a later scene, she steals a car which happens to have a C.B. radio in it. Nobody finds this strange.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: In ancient Japan, April O' Neil ends up in a wooden cage next to an ancestor of Casey Jones, and finds an ordinary rat that is implied to be the ancestor of Splinter.
  • In The Final Sacrifice, Troy escapes from cult members by jumping in the back of a truck, which turns out to be owned by former cult member. They later stumble onto a cabin owned by a friend of Troy's father.
  • During the famously frightening "Raptors In The Kitchen" scene from Jurassic Park, one of the raptors knocks over some pots and pans with its tail, happening to hit Tim and Lex who are crawling past it one aisle over and they panic, making more noise. Tim hides just around a corner next to a bunch of hanging ladles and other utensils, hitting most of them and barely avoiding detection by the raptor. And then the one ladle that he didn't touch falls off its handle all by itself and clangs on the floor. Improbable? Yes. Scary? You bet it is.
  • The Book of Henry:
    • The first time Henry enters a gun shop, he overhears how to purchase a weapon illegally.
    • Frank always commits his abuse of Christina in the same room, with the window open, while Henry or Christina are awake to see him do it, while never noticing them.
    • The second of the film relies on The Tape Knew You Would Say That to a massively absurd degree, to the point that Henry's pre-recorded messages are able to perfectly predict when his mother is hesitating or has a question or took a wrong turn on the street.
  • Lampshaded in a Reality Is Unrealistic context in The Big Short, which is based on true stories.
    • Mark Baum's hedge fund team finds out about the incoming 2007 financial crisis, and thereby are able to successfully plan ahead for and profit from it, because of a single misplaced phone call.
    • Charlie and Jamie are able to profit from the crisis as well due to living right next door to Ben Rickert, a former securities trader who loans them his credit and a lot of financial advice.
    • Subverted in another instance. Charlie and Jamie find a copy of Vennett's pitch to short the housing market in the lobby of a bank office. Then they break the fourth wall to explain this didn't actually happen — in Real Life, they found out about the short in a roundabout way.
  • Subverted in The Hateful 8. The eight protagonists, some of whom know each other or are going to the same town, all just happen to end up at the same tiny haberdashery in the middle of Wyoming at the same time by complete coincidence. Ruth and Warren lampshade how unlikely this is and are immediately suspicious that something else is going on. They're right. Three of the eight are members of Daisy's gang who have set up a trap to kill Ruth. The only people there by coincidence are Warren, Mannix, and Smithers; the former two were just travelling down the same road as Ruth and hitched a ride with him, while the latter was at the haberdashery before any of the others even got there.
  • In Drag Me to Hell the protagonist is cursed to go to Hell via being given a cursed button. Towards the end of the film she is carrying the button with her in a blank envelope, when her co-worker gives her a lift in his car. He has a bunch of paperwork from the office in the back of his car, and he happens to be a coin collector, and he is also carrying with him a rare coin he recently acquired, about the same size as the cursed button, also in a similar blank envelope. Naturally this improbable similarity leads to a mixup, with him picking up the envelope with the button and her the coin.
  • Dracula: The Dark Prince: Esme and Alina are carrying the Lightbringer, the only weapon capable of destroying the title's villain. At first glance and in the hands of anyone else, it looks like a Simple Staff, but if wielded of a Cain's descendant, it turns into a Sinister Scythe. Shortly after barely escaping Dracula's minions, they are attacked by a thief band who steals the staff. Their leader just so happens to be a descendant of Cain and after his fellow thieves are murdered by Dracula's minions, he joins the heroines as The Chosen One.
  • The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle lampshades this repeatedly.
    Boris: If only we had a helicopter.
    Narrator: But since they were in the middle of the desert, there was obviously no chance whatsoever of finding a helicopter.
    Natasha: (gasps) Boris, look!
    (cut to a helicopter parked at what can only be described as a chopper pilot rest stop)
    Narrator: Oh, damn. Never mind.
    • He later remarks that Karen Sympathy running into Rocky and Bullwinkle (literally) after having been separated from them is "a beautiful, if impossibly coincidental, reunion".
  • Slumdog Millionaire could easily be titled "Contrived Coincidence: The Movie." Somehow, nearly every single question Jamal is asked during Who Wants to be a Millionaire? is related to a specific incident from his past. To give an example: one of the questions is "Who appears on the American $100 bill?" This prompts a flashback to Jamal's childhood working as a beggar, when an American couple offered him just such a bill; another blind child then tells him that the name of the man on the money is Benjamin Franklin. It's mildly lampshaded in the movie, as the showrunners remark that Jamal's explanations for knowing all of the answers are "bizarrely plausible." The whole situation could be chalked up to Because Destiny Says So—one of the film's taglines was "It is written," implying that fate had a hand in Jamal's success—but still, it's a large stretch.

    CollegeHumor later spoofed the film's ridiculous coincidences in their parody "Slumdog 'The Price is Right,'" which saw characters randomly yelling out the cost of items that just so happen to appear on the show later ("No, don't get blood on that patio set, it cost $399!").

  • Played for drama in The Pledge, when the police attempt to set up a trap to catch a child murderer. But, unbeknownst to them, said murderer has died in a car crash on his way there, so they never actually catch him, or even find out who he was. It drives the protagonist so far up the insanity tree that he insists to keep waiting for him for the rest of his life.
  • Captain Underpants: The Captain had these in a few books.
    • The 4th book The Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants, opened with George and Harold having to stay at school during a class trip. For revenge, they rig the teacher's lounge to spray the teachers with glue and Styrofoam pellets, turning them into "snowmen". This leads to the science teacher retiring after seeing them, thinking he's gone nuts. Thus, Professor Poopypants takes up the now-open job of science teacher, leading to the main plot.
    • The aliens attacking the school in the third book use "Zombie Nerd Juice" to turn all the students into zombie nerds. All it takes to change them back is a dose of the conveniently available, lampshaded generously, "Anti-Evil Zombie Nerd Juice".
    • A dandelion happens to grow right outside the window where George pours the "Ultra-Evil Growth Juice" out of. It goes horribly wrong.
    • Subverted for laughs in the 7th book, where the Captain jumps out a window to take flight, unaware that he has lost his superpowers. He falls several stories to the ground, and crashes onto the only patch of ground not covered by extra fluffy pillows, a trampoline, or a haystack.
  • Pick a Charlotte Brontë novel. Any novel.
    • Jane Eyre: When Jane, penniless and homeless, passes out in the middle of a field, it just so happens to be on the property of her long lost cousins. Also, right before she's planning on leaving for India with St. John, she just happens to hallucinate someone calling her name, making her go back to Mr. Rochester and his burnt down house. And the mysterious rich uncle who bequeathed her the money necessary for her to marry Rochester "as an equal".
      • The first Thursday Next novel, The Eyre Affair, does an External Retcon on many of these, revealing that before Thursday's tampering Jane Eyre was a largely contrivance-free book with a Downer Ending.
      • Even The Eyre Affair offers no explanation for the fact that Jane ended up getting taken in by the Rivers family.
      • Jane is not "hallucinating" someone calling her name. In the novel's universe, Rochester is calling Jane mentally. It sounds like a hallucination to modern readers, but in the 1840s many people, even scientists, believed that such a thing could happen.
    • Villette is an even worse offender. British heroine Lucy Snowe goes to work at a school for girls in some French-type country (most likely Belgium), and it so happens to be the school where her god-brother serves as a doctor. Also, her potential romance with Dr. John is stopped abruptly when the woman in France he mysteriously rescues from a burning theatre happens to be the former ward of Dr. John's mother. From England.
    • Shirley, in which Shirley Keeldar's governess also turns out to be Caroline Helstone's mother.
  • Charles Dickens was the Grand Champion of coincidentally plunking long lost relatives together in convoluted plots. In fact, it would probably be easier to list the books of his that don't employ this type of plot twist.
    • David Copperfield: At one point the entire denouement hinges on Mr Micawber a) just happening to be in Canterbury, and b) just happening to walk past the Heeps' door (which is c) wide open due to nice weather) on d) the one day - and hour - that David has been invited to tea within. This in a book that already depends pretty heavily on characters just happening to run into one another, frequently on the streets of London, then as now one of the biggest and busiest urban metropolises in the world.
    • In Martin Chuzzlewit, to wrap things up during the happy ending, Mark Tapley happens to randomly bump into the couple that they left behind as their nextdoor neighbours in the "town" of Eden. This even though the couple were last seen in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in central USA, and the ending happens in London. (The fact that the woman in the couple is the same woman that Mark befriended on the boat to America was already a coincidence in itself.) With Dickens it's easier just to think of it as a form of Narrative Causality by which his universe ensures that anybody necessary for the plot happens to be exactly where they need to be, even if they're on the wrong continent.
    • Oliver Twist: Oliver is an orphan in a town 75 miles from London who runs away to the big city and falls in with a gang of thieves. Obviously, the mark in the first pickpocketing caper he's involved with turns out to be an old friend of his father's. After getting kidnapped by the crooks, he's forced to get involved in a burglary. This time the victim turns out to be his mother's sister.
    • In Great Expectations, a coincidence that is central to the plot is the fact that Miss Havisham has the same lawyer as Pip's real benefactor, Magwitch the convict. However, for no good reason other than to tie up loose ends, it also turns out that Magwitch's nemesis is the same man who left Miss Havisham at the altar, and that Magwitch is Estella's father.
    • A Tale of Two Cities: Dr. Manet is sent to the Bastille by a French noble. Years later, in Englan, he and his daughter Lucy are witnesses at a trial for man who's lawyer's partner happens to look enough like the defendant to create reasonable doubt. Manet's daughter falls in love with and marries Darnet, the defendant. It then turns out that Darnet is the son of the nobleman who sent Dr. Manet to the Bastille in the first place. Also, one of the prosecution witnesses against Darnet turns up in Revolutionary France in a position where he can be blackmailed into helping save Darnet from the guillotine.
  • Thomas Hardy did this a lot as well - The dénouement of Tess of the d'Urbervilles required the title character to run into the man who raped her earlier in the book, while yomping across Dorset, in just the state of mind to consider taking up with him again, and, by the way, he's given up being a country gentleman to be an itinerant preacher in the intervening time...
  • Henrik Ibsen was not oblivious to this. Terje Vigen, his most known poem is using it to a T: Terje was captured by a young British captain during The Napoleonic Wars, and is imprisoned for five years. Many years after returning to Norway, and working as a coastal pilot, he has to rescue an English yacht before it sinks. The owner of the yacht just happens to be the same captain that arrested him years before, and this man`s daughter just happens to carry the name of Terje`s own daughter who died of starvation because of the British nobleman`s action. The whole thing is so awesome it actually works! Consider that the Norwegian coastline is 100 915 kms long, and the sheer coincidence of crashing into land at the exact spot where Terje lives is even more contrived.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • This goes hand-in-hand with being a Knight of the Cross-in fact, they basically weaponize it. When Michael needs to go out in the evening to help Harry save the day, Harry is worried about leaving Michael's children alone. Michael (without even looking) opens the front door to reveal Father Forthill about to knock, who just happens to be there because his car has broken down - and, having some previous experience with this sort of thing, immediately guesses that Michael needs a babysitter. When an old women in a desperate situation prays "Dear God in Heaven, help us!" the very next instant Sanya shows up.
    • One example that looks like this to everyone watching (except Harry) involves a "bad luck" curse directed towards a specific person. Harry finds the magical energy and redirects it to one of his current attackers, a vampire. This manifests as Harry doing something vaguely magical, and the vampire getting nuked from orbit by a frozen turkey. And the pop-up thermometer goes 'ding'.
      Everyone stopped to blink at that for a second. I mean, come on. Impaled by a guided frozen turkey missile. Even by the standards of the quasi-immortal creatures of the night, that ain't something you see twice.
      "For my next trick," I panted into the startled silence, "anvils."
    • The RPG (which uses the FUDGE spinoff FATE) explicitly has this as a mechanic. Players can spend a Fate Point to make a Declaration, which the book describes as letting one create a convenient coincidence. The examples given are a character having a cigarette lighter right when he needs one despite never smoking, or showing up during a dramatic scene just in time to help out. One of the Faith powers (Guide My Hand) lets a character do this without spending the fate point.
  • In Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court the eponymous Yankee's time of execution happens to coincide with a solar eclipse. (Not to even mention that he knew the exact date and time said eclipse would occur despite its status as obscure fourteen-hundred-year-old history.) The real coincidence being that he was the kind of person who would calculate all the solar eclipse dates in the past few millenia for fun... just before getting time warped into the past. This was based on an actual event when Christopher Columbus used an eclipse to frighten the natives in Jamaica, except that a) it was a lunar eclipse, not a solar one, b) Columbus had access to astronomical journals which calculated it and c) Columbus had to wait months for the eclipse to arrive. In short, the real event was coincidental, but much less unlikely.
  • The narrator of Betty Miles' The Real Me writes an essay in which she describes such coincidences in the "horse books" girls her age are supposed to love, in which a poor girl who wants a horse conveniently wins one. When the family wonders where they're going to put it, a nice man offers her father a job in the country, and their new house has a big barn out back. You'd expect someone to say "If you expect this whole family to pack up and move fifty miles just because of some damn horse, you're crazy," she says, but "nobody ever says that in horse books".
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Justified by the main characters being important figures in the weave of destiny, so it's common for strange coincidences, ironies and misfortunes to happen all around them. It's often lampshaded; one secondary character once notices that increasingly bizarre coincidences keep delaying her when she tries to leave a town, so she wises up and waits for a protagonist to arrive.
    • Taken Up to Eleven by Mat Cauthon, whose superhuman luck soon reaches the point that he can invoke contrived coincidences in his favour. Arriving in a strange city, he can spin around in circles, set off down a random street, and end up running into somebody who knows the city and owes him a favour.
  • xkcd: As Randal Munroe complains in this comic, the Redwall books often have the main characters discover some hitherto unnoticed riddle somewhere in the titular abbey, the solution to which just happens to provide them with some necessary advantage against the Monster of the Week.
  • Les Misérables has some of the more spectacular Contrived Coincidences in literature.
    • Marius's grandfather is (apparently) the father of two little bastards by his housemaid; he fires her, but pays her a substantial allowance to support them. When they die, to keep from losing her income, she takes in two children about their ages — who just happen to be the two youngest Thenardier kids. And when these two are thrown out onto the streets, who do they take up with? Why, Gavroche... who never uses the name "Thenardier", and who's forgotten that he ever had two younger brothers.
    • Also, Valjean is being pursued by the police through the alleyways of Paris. He climbs over a wall into a convent. And who's that working as the gardener? Why, it's that guy whose life he saved a few chapters ago! (Parisian population at the time: over 600,000...)
    • Another spectacular example: The Thenardiers lure a wealthy man into their home, first to beg for money, later to extract it from him. This man is Jean Valjean, his adopted daughter is Cosette, who has lived with the Thenardiers before. Their neighbour is Marius, who fell in love with Cosette after watching her on the streets of Paris, and whose father was saved by Thenardier at the Battle of Waterloo. When Marius informs the police of the plot, he meets Inspector Javert, who is pursuing Jean Valjean. Additionally, this all happens in exactly the same house Jean Valjean and Cosette had lived in years ago.
    • Also, there's the two incidents Valjean using his great strength to save two separate men, who are trapped in similar accidents. Both incidents are witnessed by Javert, decades apart.
    • Really, classical literature in general loves this trope.
    • The narrator establishes Javert as unnaturally lucky. This would explain how out of all the towns for him to become a police inspector in, he became one in a town whose mayor was a parole-breaking ex-convict Javert guarded, and still recognized. Then a different ex-convict gets mistaken for Jean Valjean, right after Javert had (correctly) pegged Monsieur Madeleine as him. After the encounter at the Thenardier's apartment mentioned above, Javert became a spy at the same barricade Valjean joins to save Marius, allowing him to save Javert's life. Mere hours after that, Javert happens to be chasing Thenardier, only to find Jean Valjean saving Marius' life.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy pokes fun at this a lot.
    • Most famously, when Douglas Adams had his main characters, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, thrown out an airlock into space, he realised anything that saved their lives at this point would be a Contrived Coincidence. Rather than Handwave this, he gave it the biggest lampshade he could think of, by inventing a space drive that creates Contrived Coincidences as a side-effect of its nonsensoleum.
    • And that space ship in question just happens to contain not only Arthur's old almost-lover, who by sheer coincidence was originally introduced to him at a party in an Islington flat that had the same phone number as the probability of Arthur and Ford being saved, but it is also piloted by Ford's long-lost cousin who is not only the president of the entire universe and the guy that stole away Arthur's almost-lover right in front of him with a corny pick-up line at said party in Islington, no, he also JUST SO HAPPENED to be the guy who blew up the Earth because of his astounding negligence.
    • Eddie, the ship's computer, calculated the odds of the above actually happening to be one in two to the power of infinity minus one. When DNA contrives coincidences he takes the cake... and makes the Total Perspective Vortex out of it.
    • Adams also used this trope a lot in his Dirk Gently novels, this time without the excuse of the Infinite Improbability Drive. Rather, Dirk's convoluted "holistic" philosophy of detection — which he'd concocted purely as an excuse to charge trips to Majorca on the expense accounts of clients whose cats go missing in London — actually seems to work for him, no doubt to his disgust.
    • As does his 'zen' method of navigation; find a car that looks like it knows where it's going and follow it. You won't get to where you wanted to go, but you will end up where you needed to be.
  • Discworld:
    • In Guards! Guards!, it is stated that a chance of one in a million holds true in nine of ten cases. This "universal truth" is later used by a bunch of people in a (failed) attempt to slay a dragon. And then accidentally, when it's a million-to-one chance that they won't die in the ensuing chaos. Naturally, they're fine.
    • Rincewind's life is one Contrived Coincidence after another. This is explained as the interference of Luck The Lady herself.
    • In fact, the plot of Interesting Times is explained away as a battle between the personifications of Luck and Fate.
    • In Maskerade, the supposedly foreign Enrico Basilica announces on stage that he is returning to his Morporkian birth-name of Henry Slug. A woman in the audience, who has never attended the opera before and probably never will again, is present to recognise the name of her long-lost beau. Agnes refuses to believe this sort of thing happens, but Nanny Ogg points out reality is currently conforming to the rules of opera, where it happens all the time.
    • In Jingo, it looks as though Vimes is about to become a victim of 'friendly fire' when he comes face-to-face with one of the few men in the city who'd recognise him instantly: his own butler.
    • In Snuff, it is mentioned that this sort of thing happens all the time to Colon and Nobby. It's one of the reasons why they're still on the (otherwise fairly respectable now) force (apparently, one time a major case was solved because something tried to lay an egg in Nobby's nose). The one that is relevant to the plot in that book is that Colon happens to buy a cigar with a goblin Soul Jar pot in it.
  • In the Young Wizards series this is both lampshaded and justified by the phrase "There's no such thing as coincidence", meaning that the Powers That Be and/or God set things up so they'd happen that way. One example is the fact that whenever Nita and Kit go on anything resembling a vacation, whatever their destination is just happens to be the exact place they need to be in order to fight the Lone Power. In the books, this is known as a "Wizard's Holiday". Sounds like it happens pretty often, for it to get a name.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs is another classic example; he was particularly fond of having separated characters be unexpectedly reunited while lost in the middle of thousands of square kilometers of jungle, ocean, and/or trackless wasteland.
    • The climax of The Return of Tarzan has Tarzan, his best friend, his cousin, and his estranged love interest, each on separate journeys with different destinations, all wind up in the same patch of African jungle. For bonus coincidence, it's the same patch of jungle where Tarzan grew up, which he was attempting to avoid and none of the others could have found if they'd tried.
    • The first Pellucidar novel, At the Earth's Core. The main character, after coming to the inner world of Pellucidar, immediately meets a beautiful girl who happens to be a princess, an old man who happens to be a king, and soon after a young man who happens to be yet another king. Needless to say, he will need the help of all these royals and their kingdoms later in the story.
    • In Gods of Mars, John Carter is talking to a fellow prisoner, who speaks of his father. When John Carter asks who is his father is, he gets to "My father is — " before they are interrupted. So they get to escape before a third companion calls Carter by name, to get the reaction, "I am his son."
  • The heroes of SM Stirling's Emberverse novels at first appear to be the beneficiaries of a whole honking string of these, but it gradually becomes clear they are getting very powerful behind-the-scenes help from somewhere. Also, as several characters in the book point out, anyone that survived a global calamity on the scale of The Change had to have been very, very lucky.
  • A particularly egregious case of this trope occurs towards the end of A Clockwork Orange in which the brainwashed and rehabilitated ex-hoodlum Alex just so happens to bump into every single person he ever wronged throughout the course of the book, all within in the same evening. The consequences were dire.
  • Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood features an end-of-the-world scenario where Blanco, the mafioso who raped Toby, just happens to survive multiple rounds of prison gladiatorial combat, kills everyone in Ren's workplace, and ends up surviving an apocalypse which happens to kill 99.99 percent of humanity, only to be finally found and poisoned by Toby.
  • Lampshaded in several Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey stories, in which Peter discusses with an author the annoying fact that coincidences look contrived in stories, even though they happen all the time in real life.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Vor Game, Miles, several light years from home, just happens to get tossed into a jail cell with his runaway emperor. Later he runs into a former Barrayaran general, that he had caused to be cashiered from the service. She then lampshades all the coincidences when Miles runs into yet another old friend, and responds to their surprised "What are you doing here?" with "Somehow, I figured that might be your first question."
  • Quite a lot of straight romance novels may be use this as well. After all, what are the chances of any two random people meeting and falling in love with each other at first sight?
  • In George Eliot's Middlemarch, Bulstrode turns out to be Will Ladislaw's step-grandfather. This, together with the way in which Raffles tracks down Bulstrode in the first place, is quite a large coincidence. Raffles's surprise on his discovery acknowledges that it's a coincidence, but Bulstrode's relationship to Ladislaw is glossed over. How did Bulstrode come to be living in the same area as Will, when one would have thought he'd want to avoid any association? A relatively subtle example by 19th-century standards, though, and nothing on Dickens.
  • Tom Clancy's novels enjoy this. Any Jack Ryan novel features some coincidental happening that forces Ryan to play some greater role than his job actual requires, often leading to him saving the day. It started small in The Hunt for Red October, with a helicopter carrying a pair of Royal Navy officers being lost when their helicopter had a catastrophic failure in flight, resulting in Ryan being flown out to supervise the "rescue" of a Soviet submarine despite his not speaking a word of Russian, and finally culminated in Debt of Honor when the President, the Supreme Court and most of Congress is killed by a pilot who'd managed to steal and pilot a 747 across the Pacific Ocean and the continental United States by himself to crash it into the Capitol, all moments after Ryan is confirmed as Vice President.
  • A few in Remote Man but only one is all that implausible: The protagonist Ned runs into an American tourist while staying with his aunt and uncle in the Northern Territory. After joining his mother in Concord, Massachusetts on her long service leave, he stumbles onto a wildlife smuggling operation being run by the same tourist, whose son is incarcerated in Concord Prison.
  • Millennium Falcon by James Luceno has way too many to preserve willing suspension of disbelief. The heroes decide to figure out the ship's history just as one of its previous pilots regains conscience after a 60-year-long coma. Said pilot starts out from a medical facility one of whose members just so happens to have piloted the Falcon in the past as well. The pilot, the heroes and the mastermind behind the whole thing just so happen to be in the same city of the same planet at the same time. Then they finally get to their target planet right as it's about to blow up.
  • In the Jack Reacher novel The Killing Floor, Reacher just happens to wander into the same town that his brother, who he hasn't spoken to in years, is murdered in just before his arrival.
  • A lot in Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:
      • Harry and Ron just happen to be in Hagrid's hut on the night he gets arrested, learning information that helps him advance the plot.
      • Subverted; the one whose possessions Lucius Malfoy slipped Riddle's diary into and who was manipulated by him as a result just happened to be the sister of Harry's friend Ron, Ginny-but this is actually explained to be because Lucius hated Ginny and Ron's father.
      • If you believe that a certain Headmaster had nothing to do with it, the victims of the Basilisk were stupendously lucky - they all just happened to look it in the eyes indirectly, so they got petrified instead of killed. Said indirect ways include: in a puddle of spilled water, through a camera (in the dark of the night, mind you), and through a ghost. The last victim specifically used a mirror to look around the corner, but the timing was still impeccable - if she was attacked half an hour earlier, she'd been dead, but if the Basilisk lingered a few more minutes, she would've reached a member of faculty with her newfound knowledge of the attacker's identity, and the whole plot would've been screwed.
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:
      • The plot kicks off because 1) The Weasley's win the wizard lottery, 2) This gets them a large front-page picture, 3) Ron's pet rat is in said picture, and 4) Cornelius Fudge just happens to be carrying this exact issue when he goes to visit Sirius Black.
      • Ron becomes Harry's best friend. His pet rat (actually a human) just happens to be responsible for the murder of Harry's parents.
      • The magic map that Harry received from Fred and George, who had originally found it in Filch's office, just happened to have been created by his (Harry's) father and his friends. And he (Harry) received it on the same year that one of those friends (Lupin) happened to be a teacher at the school (which was also the ONLY year in which he was a Hogwarts teacher), conveniently leading to him (Lupin) getting it back after Harry was caught breaking the school's rules and Snape (the one who caught him) decided to take Harry to Lupin.
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, a servant of Voldemort looking for his master just so happens to meet with the only person in the witcharding world who can give the location of another, much more capable servant.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix during the final battle Voldermort lingers just long enough for the Minister of Magic to arrive to the scene and see him thus granting previously lacking ground to Harry's and DD's claims of his return. Of course, it does help that he was tied up in a duel with Dumbledore.
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, if it was indeed a chance and not one of Dumbledore's Gambit Roulettes, then it was one hell of a coincidence that Harry was the one to receive Snape's old potion book full of nifty hints that won him a plot-essential luck potion and directed to the solution that saved Ron's life. Both assassination attempts by Draco Malfoy only failed to claim lives due to contrived coincidences.
      • In this book, Felix Felicis, lucky potion, works by exploiting contrived coincidences-Harry "accidentally" bumps into Ginny, leading to her having an argument with Dean and breaking up with him; Filch conveniently forgets to lock the doors, Slughorn just happens to be coming out of the greenhouses when Harry is there, etc.
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
      • Right at the beginning, when dozens of Death Eaters chase Harry and his six impersonators the Order used as a diversion, naturally it's the real Harry who is engaged by the only Death Eater he could possibly feel sorry for, which made him hold his hand leading to his exposure.
      • Later the Trio are looking for a very important locket. Not only did they happen to pay special attention to that specific locket out of all the assorted junk in a mansion a couple years ago, but then it turns out, that out of hundreds or thousands of wizards who could have bought the locket from a petty thief who stole it, it was not only a person that the kids knew, but the one with a peculiar enough appearance that the thief would remember her and they would recognise her from his sketchy description.
      • Then the Trio infiltrates the Ministry of Magic to track down that one particular person, and they disguise themselves as random Ministry officials. Almost immediately one of those disguises is invited by their mark to assist her at a hearing in a conveniently secluded location where they can safely steal the locket. Plus, in the film all the folks they impersonate with Polyjuice Potion (being just the first three people they could steal hair from) just happen to have the same hair colors as the actual Trio, so viewers can still easily know who is who.
      • In all of Britain, Harry, Ron, and Hermione happen to be camping right near some goblins when they reveal plot information about the sword.
      • When Voldemort needs to check if Harry is dead, he chooses out of the dozens of his followers the only one who would have a reason to lie to him.
      • Harry only receives critical information because V murders Snape at a very particular time and in a very particular way and doesn't check if he's immediately dead.
      • Harry and his friends found out about the Deathly Hallows because they asked Xenophilius Lovegood about the Sign of the Deathly Hallows. Harry knew that he knew about the sign because Xenophilius happened to wear a golden chain with it on his neck when both he and Harry attended Bill and Fleur's wedding. And Harry had only taken notice of this golden chain and remembered the sign because Krum was also attending and became outraged when he saw it and told Harry that it was the mark of Grindelwald, who had killed Krum's grandfather.
      • All three Deathly Hallows (i.e.: legendary, one of a kind items highly sought by many) came to Harry's hands as a result of the trope: The Cloak of Invisibility just happened to be a family heirloom that Harry inherited. Harry became the owner of the Elder Wand (which saved his life in the end) because he just happened to disarm its owner, Draco. Neither Draco nor Harry were aware that Draco was the owner, and Harry didn't even know that disarming someone made one the new owner of their wand. Harry received the Resurrection Stone from Dumbledore, who got it by accident when he was tracking down the Horcruxes, as Voldermort had turned it into one. And Voldemort had it because it was a family heirloom; he wasn't even aware that it was one of the Deathly Hallows.
      • Everything that relays to the Malfoy Manor incident and the Cup of Hufflepuff is one massive ball of coincidences. The heroes are captured because Harry randomly blurts out Voldemort's name. Their captors suddenly decide against taking them to the Ministry as they were supposed to do, and they cannot summon Voldemort directly, so they take them to the Malfoy Manor instead. While there, the Malfoys drag their feet with calling Voldemort long enough for Bellatrix Lestrange, who just happens to also be there at the time, to come in, see that the kids have the Sword of Gryffindor, which they have only recently acquired, and freak out, because the sword was supposed to be in her bank vault, and she's also the one Death Eater that Voldemort entrusted his Soul Jar, which she also placed inside the vault. This causes her to delay summoning Voldemort and put the kids in a dungeon cell (and she's also a psychotic sadist, so she opts for prolonged torture to find out about the sword instead of a quick mind probe). They escape because the guard duty was given to the only Death Eater who was in Harry's debt and would have any reason to hesitate to stop him. While they're at it, they save a group of people kidnapped by the villains, which just happens to include a goblin (the same goblin Harry met on his first day at Gringotts, no less), who can help them sneak into the bank vault, and someone who can serve as Mr. Exposition to tell them about the Elder Wand to boot.
      • Tracking down and the destruction of Ravenclaw's diadem is also only possible because of a string of coincidences. It just happens to be the random thing Harry picked up and put on a bust's head to mark it a year earlier, which unlike the other horcruxes is conveniently not hidden or protected by any means due to Voldermort's villain stupidity. Helena Ravenclaw just happens to be the house ghost of Ravenclaw and also the only person who knows what's happened to her mother's diadem. Then one of the dumbest students happens to conjure up a powerful magical fire that can destroy horcruxes, which accidentally touches it, but is not engulfed in it, allowing the heroes to know for certain that it's destroyed.
      • Voldemort decides to stop a battle to bring forth the Sorting Hat, the only thing that can conjure the only item that can destroy horcruxes and is convenient for killing snakes, and the one that's both of those things happens to be nearby.
      • Dumbledore's plan and many of his predictions relied on this trope happening to ridiculous extents. Given what we learn of Dumbledore late in the series, it's entirely possible any or all of the above were deliberately engineered by him.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Phoenix on the Sword", Thoth-amon was enslaved because of the loss of his Ring of Power, which just happens to turn up in the hand of a noble he is guarding.
  • Lampshaded in The Avenging Chance: At the beginning, Sheringham mentions how many mysteries are solved by such a coincidence, as if chance itself were avenging the victim. The case is ultimately solved by such an event.
  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, Phaethon ponders whether a meeting is coincidence or arranged by the Earthmind, an AI with a trillion times the brain power of a human such as himself.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Lost, Mab thinks that Father Christmas being nearby in a mall so they can take refuge is an enormous coincidence. Miranda argues it would only be if they were looking for Father Christmas; instead, they were looking for somewhere, anywhere, safe, and it just happened to be Father Christmas who could swing it.
  • Lampshaded in Malevil. Emmanuel is stunned by the unlikelihood of the following events: Vilmain's men take La Roque the night before he planned to, they would have walked into a trap the next night when attempting it themselves. The only reason they don't is because of the scouts caught investigating Malevil in the morning; Emmanuel breaks his own orders and captures one rather then killing him, and the scout turns out to be a friend who wants to defect and warns them of their new enemies.
    "Realizing that your life depends on such absurd coincidences, that's something that makes for modesty".
  • In The Merchant Princes Series, Miriam's ex-boyfriend is a DEA agent. Given that fact, it's not a coincidence that he was pulled in by The Men in Black to hunt down the Clan (any government agent of any kind would do), but it is a huge coincidence that he's the guy Matthias defected to, spilling the whole story about the Clan itself.
  • The Adventures of Blue Avenger by Norma Howe argues that this trope falls under Reality Is Unrealistic. Unlikely coincidences happen all the time, and Million-to-One Chance events are pretty common in a world with nearly seven billion people. So here comes one...
  • In Dune, House Atreides and all its retainers are scattered to the winds all across the planet Arrakis, and some even father, after the family is attacked by the Harkonnens. Two years later, Paul spots a smugglers' ship and sets a trap for it...and this just so happens to be the same group of smugglers that his mentor Gurney Halleck fell in with after the attack, and he's on that very ship.
  • After several days of fruitless searching in the Knight and Rogue Series Fisk points to a stable boy and says they may as well ask him for all the good it would do, and the boy just happens to be the only person in town with information they can use.
  • Flashman and the Angel of the Lord requires Flashman to join John Brown on his famous raid. The only way this could be arranged is so contrived that Flash himself points it out; "I'd not have been a within a thousand miles of Harper's Ferry, or blaster Brown, but for the ghastliest series of mischances: three hellish coincidences-three mark you!-that even Dickens wouldn't have dared use for fear of being hooted at in the street.
  • Subverted in The Robots of Dawn. Baley states that it is an amazing coincidence that Daneel was ready in time to be critical for The Caves of Steel case. Dr. Fastolfe remarks there must have been many occasions where he would have been useful, but without him, other means have been found.
  • In Time Scout, paradox doesn't happen. Period. Don't even try. Because something will happen to make it not happen.
  • Similarly, in To Say Nothing of the Dog, the space-time continuum will pick causality over plausibility any day. Erm, any time. Erm, always.
  • In Rule of Four, the four leads try to relax a little before graduation at Princeton by playing laser tag in the underground steam tunnels. When they are cornered by campus cops, they escape by joining a public naked party celebrating the first snowstorm of the year. Graduation is in May, and it would be a dry winter if the first New Jersey snow fell in May.
  • Gene Wolfe's Soldier of Sidon is the sequel to Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete. The first two novels are supposedly translated into English by Wolfe from ancient Greek scrolls found in the British Museum. The third volume is said to be a translation of another scroll, found hundreds of miles away in Egypt, which coincidentally turned out to have the same author.
  • A Little Princess: Well, it is by a Victorian novelist: the old gent who moves in next door turns out to be looking for a particular young lady who is due to inherit a great deal of money. Since the 'Indian Gentleman' is not even sure which CITY the little girl was sent to school in, it's somewhat serendipitous that he happens to move in next door from the right girl.
  • In Gene Stratton-Porter's Freckles, Angel goes to the orphanage to track down the clothing left with Freckles, to find she's just in time to have missed it; his aunt and uncle have just taken them in their despair, and are just about to leave America for Ireland, being unable to find their nephew.
  • In Beastly, Kyle just happens to meet Lindsy, the girl who would break his curse, on the same night he was cursed. He also just happened to give her a rose corsage, which was the only thing that convinced Kendra to give him a chance to break the curse at all. At the end of the book, there's one that's also a Shout-Out to Jane Eyre, when Kyle hears Lindsy screaming for help through the magic mirror, giving him enough warning to find and rescue her from a kidnapper. This happens the last night in his time period to break the curse and happens to be the event that leads to the curse being broken.
  • The Hunger Games:
    • Actually used in-universe in Catching Fire. The Capitol hosts a special Hunger Games every 25 years called the Quarter Quell have a twist on the rules to further intimidate the Districts. (e.g. Year 25, an election is held to choose the tributes, rather than names being drawn. 50th year, twice the amount of tributes are reaped, so 47 kids die.) They claim that the twist for each Quell was predetermined at the very beginning, for centuries and centuries of Hunger Games, but for Year 75, they proclaim that the tributes will be reaped from the existing pool of victors, meaning they'll have to go back into the Arena. Just when the main character Katniss - the only female victor in her District - had accidentally incited uprisings in the Districts. None of the main characters believe that it's "coincidence."
    • In a straight usage of the trope, the Capitol was only able to target Katniss through the Quarter Quell because she happened to compete (and consequently incite uprisings) in a year immediately prior to a Quarter Quell. This occurred as a result of a random drawing. To make it even less likely, Katniss' name was not the one drawn, despite her name being in the drawing multiple times. Instead, she volunteered as replacement when her sister's name was drawn—her sister had only one entry in the drawing and was thus among those with the lowest odds of being chosen.
    • Before the Quarter Quell announcement, President Snow actually averted this as a reason why he doesn't just kill Katniss for the berry stunt and make it look like an accident. Even he knows that no one would buy it.
  • In Handle with Care, the jury pool for Charlotte's trial just so happens to include her lawyer's biological mother.
  • Animorphs:
    • The entire series is just one small part of an epic cosmic struggle between Crayak and the Ellimist, so there are more than a few moments in the books that are just chalked up to "the Ellimist did it." However, there is one very specific instance that is lampshaded: In their war on Earth, the Yeerks are the pawns of Crayak, while the Animorphs are the (begrudging) soldiers of the Ellimist. The deal between the two meant that the Animorphs were supposed to consist of six random humans. Instead, we've got Ax (an Andalite, and Elfangor's brother), Tobias (Elfangor's son), Marco (the son of Visser One's host body), and Cassie (a sub-temporal grounded anomaly, who's mere existence means any attempts to alter the timeline will be doomed to failure). And yes, that means Jake and Rachel are the normal ones. The Drode (Crayak's Dragon) notes that this is impossible, and accuses the Ellimist of stacking the deck.
    • And of those two, Jake is not only a natural leader but also the brother of a host, and therefore has an incredible motivation to fight. More stacking the deck? Impossible.
    • There are several apparent ones in Book #27, but it is ultimately an aversion. Erik is left unable to move or project his hologram, so the Animorphs carry him out of the mall. There was a major sale, so virtually everyone was elsewhere in the mall and all the cameras are down. They take a bus, and the bus driver doesn't notice. This makes them suspicious. Later, when they realize they will need a sperm whale morph, a sperm whale "happens" to beach itself. This they all realize can't be a coincidence, and that someone is pulling the strings. The Drode turns out to have been behind all of it.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's The Materialization of Duncan McTavish, an Old Maid keeps from girls from pitying her by claiming to have a romance and to have quarreled with him. You can guess the rest from the title.
  • Stephen King examples:
    • Happens many times in IT: the children of those involved in the events of 1958 turn out to be involved in the events of 1985, while their ancestors turn out to have been involved in past incidents with IT. Ben goes to the library in both 1958 and 1985 and hears the librarian telling the same story. The molds that the kids use to make silver slugs to kill IT turn out to have been purchased from an iron factory IT caused to blow up. Etc. Lampshaded in the following quote:
      It was one of those odd quirks of fate or coincidence which sometimes obtain (and which, in truth, obtain more frequently in Derry).
    • Averted in the Book Within a Book Misery's Return in Misery: Paul is well aware that it would come off as too much of a coincidence for two women in the same town to have been Buried Alive, so he comes up with a way to link the two events.
    • "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption": It just so happens that Tommy Williams shared a cell at Thomaston with Elwood Blatch, the man who really killed Andy Dufresne's wife (a fact Tommy happens to be privy to because Blatch bragged about the crime). It just so happens that Tommy ends up at Shawshank, where Andy is incarcerated.
    • In the "Notes" section of Skeleton Crew, King describes an outlandish coincidence he claims actually happened to him. When he was an undergraduate, he submitted a story called "The Float" (an earlier version of "The Raft") to a men's magazine, which would pay only upon publication of the story. Later that year, while driving around late at night in the town of Orono, a traffic cone that road workers had failed to remove knocked his car's muffler loose from its tailpipe. Angered, King decided to drive around town picking up other traffic cones which had also been left out. He had picked up a good number of them when he was pulled over by an Orono cop, who took him into custody. The judge levied a fine against King of $250 – which he didn't have. Looking at 30 days in jail if he couldn't come up with the money, King saw no way out — until a check for $250 came in the mail from the men's magazine to which he'd submitted "The Float".
  • The Hobbit:
    • The party arrive at Rivendell and get Elrond to read their map on Midsummer's Eve — which just happens to be the right day (the first in several years, and the last for who-knows-how-many more years) in which some secret Moon Runes hidden on the map can be seen and read; they are only visible on a Midsummer's Eve on which a moon of the exact same phase as the one on the date they were written, shines through them.
    • The movie lampshades this. "Fate is with you, Thorin Oakenshield..."
    • A real life example comes from The Silmarillion. Númenor is meant to be an analogue to Atlantis, an advanced and powerful island nation that sinks below the sea eventually. Strangely, when Tolkien was working out what the Quenya name for Númenor would be, he realized that the word Downfall would be translated into Quenya as Atalantë, going off the pre-established root lant meaning "fall"
  • There are several in Jane Austen's Love and Freindship, such as the meeting of the grandfather and his four grandchildren, but one when Laura can't talk without reminding Sophia of her troubles, and when Sophia begs to talk to distract her, and a carriage overturns, is enough for Laura to remark on it. That the carriage happens to be carrying their husbands doesn't, however.
  • In Andre Norton's The Zero Stone, the Guild ship happens have to as Captain a man who knows Jern. The captain pledges offering to a goddess whenever he happens by her shrine at the marvel that what was lost is now found.
  • In Bram Stoker's Dracula, when Dracula goes to England he chooses to arrive in Whitby. Fair enough...except that Mina Murray, the fiancee of Jonathan Harker - the man Dracula hired to find a house for him in England - happens to be on holiday there at the exact same time he arrives. What's more, Lucy Westenra - Mina's best friend - is one of Dracula's very first victims. And it doesn't stop there: one of Lucy's suitors, Dr Seward, happens to be in charge of a lunatic asylum practically next door to Dracula's aforementioned new house. But wait, there's still more! Seward's friend and mentor, Abraham van Helsing, just so happens to know a lot about vampires and how to ward them off or kill them. Phew.
  • In New Moon, the second Twilight book, Edward's attempted Suicide by Cop at the end requires a ludicrous series of events to bring about, often combining this with Idiot Plot. A quick rundown on what needed to happen to result in it: Alice's powers had to activate and show Bella jumping off the cliff, Alice had to make an incredibly stupid decision to fly to Bella's house instead of calling ahead of time to warn Charlie or perhaps say something to Bella about it (which she does for no discernible reason, considering she was working under the impression that Bella would have been dead by the time she got there), Alice had to make another dumb decision to simply spend the next day or so hanging out with Bella instead of calling around to let everyone know that Bella didn't really die, Harry Clearwater, a minor character we only truly meet once, has to die at exactly the right moment, setting up Charlie being absent for his funeral, Jacob has to grab the phone when Edward calls and tell him that Charlie is "at the funeral" without saying whose and Edward has to not question whose funeral it is, Edward and Jacob both have to forgo questioning who the other is and why they're calling Bella's house/answering the phone in Bella's house, Rosalie has to be spiteful enough to call Edward and tell him that Bella died without confirmation, and finally, Edward has not only not question this or call Alice to ask her personally if it was true or not, but it requires him to throw his phone out for no reason upon hearing this, so nobody can call him and tell him what's really going on. If any of this had gone differently, the whole thing wouldn't have happened.
  • In The Vagina Ass Of Lucifer Niggerbastard, Griswalda appears in Lucifer's house to tell him about the Prophecy, after Lucifer complained about how "shitty" his life is. This is also convenient for the plot, which centers on the Prophecy.
  • In The Winning of Barbara Worth, the titular orphaned child just happens to be the niece of her adoptive father's future business rival, which the protagonists realize after she happens to befriend her blood father's adopted son (despite the class differences between them). Also, the mementos proving this are unearthed exactly when The Reveal of this is dramatically convenient and neatly ties up the plot, thus allowing pro-and-antagonist to part on good terms.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory:
    • The book has this with regards to the fates of the four bratty kids. Willy Wonka, leading them through his factory, keeps making stopovers in rooms and/or giving demonstrations of things that, in turn, appeal to each of the brats. Each disobeys him and gets an instant-karmic punishment for their trouble. Although the tour does turns out to be a Secret Test of the kids' virtue or lack thereof, there is no hint given in the novel that Mr. Wonka is intentionally leading these kids into potential/inevitable trouble, and no one remarks upon how odd it is that the Oompa-Loompas' Crowd Songs about them are so specific and elaborate. Given that Mr. Wonka is also marked by his Callousness Towards Emergency and having No Sympathy for the brats, and for being a complete eccentric, he has since become an Interpretative Character and some adaptations of the novel have played around with this trope.
    • In the 2005 film adaptation, Mr. Wonka is actually questioned over how "rehearsed" and detailed the Oompa-Loompas' first Crowd Song is. He chalks it up to skilled improvisation, nothing more...
    • The 2013 stage musical has one outright example of this trope and it factors into The Reveal. At the very beginning Willy Wonka, in a bout of self-pity, ventures into the outside world disguised as a tramp and encounters Charlie at the dump the boy lives near, their conversation revealing to Mr. Wonka that the boy could be the successor he's just launched the Golden Ticket contest to find. Interestingly, this coincidence means that at least a few of the subsequent highly unlikely events involving Charlie, such as his finding the last ticket, were engineered by Mr. Wonka.
  • The Night of Wishes: The required amount for one of the potion's ingredients depends on the drinker's favorite color. This causes an argument between Beelzebub and Tyrannia over who will drink the potion until they learn that their respective favorite colors require the same amount.
  • Discussed in How Not To Write A Novel, in "Why Your Job is Harder than God's." In brief, when a writer throws in an improbable coincidence, it can turn into a great story or a terrible one, depending on whether it is a Deus ex Machina or else the start of an adventure. The writers note, for example, that the readers will hate a story where a protagonist's problems are all solved when they find an unexplained briefcase full of money - but may like a story when the protagonist's problems start when they find an unexplained briefcase full of money. A reader's acceptance of these coincidences must be very carefully considered lest the author lose the goodwill of the reader.
  • In Midnight's Children, exactly 420 midnight children die before Saleem can contact them, which seems like an oddly significant number for seemingly random deaths. Saleem himself briefly wonders if there was some higher purpose to it.
    Inevitably, a number of these children failed to survive. Malnutrition, disease and the misfortunes of everyday life had accounted for no less than four hundred and twenty of them by the time I became conscious of their existence; although it is possible to hypothesize that these deaths, too, had their purpose, since 420 has been, since time immemorial, the number associated with fraud, deception, and trickery. Can it be, then, that the missing infants were eliminated because they had turned out to be somehow inadequate, and were not the true children of that midnight hour? [...] It is [...] an unanswerable question; any further examination of it is therefore pointless.
  • The Neverending Story: Bsatian believes two events are this in the book with the book. The first is when he screams, the characters hear a scream. That was justified in thinking it a coincidence. The second is when Atreyu is looking into the Magic Mirror, the second gate to the Southern Oracle. He sees Bastian and the description Bastian reads is an exact description of him and his surroundings. It freaks him out, but Bastian tries to think of it as a coincidence.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Tyrion Lannister had two extremely coincidental plot-relevant meetings in random pubs strewn across Westeros and Essos; first he just happens to enter the Inn at the Crossroads at the same time as Catelyn Stark, resulting in him being taken prisoner. Eventually, this leads to the War of the Five Kings. Much later, on the run for killing his father, he just so happens to end up in the exact same place as Jorah Mormont, who kidnaps him- again- and is taken to Daenerys.
    • The Catspaw subplot also has a big one; Joffrey selects a weapon from Robert's armory to give to his assassin, yet by complete chance he chooses a blade that's easily tracable and recently exchanged hands. Later, after Littlefinger lies about the knife's owner, not once in the nine months spent at the capital did anyone notice Ned carrying around one of Robert's daggers, or did anyone realize it was missing.
  • Halfway through Looking for Alaska, a fatal car accident takes place. The accident is prompted by a very long-winded For Want of a Nail scenario involving two forgotten anniversaries just happening to fall on the same day in that particular year, a random phone call from the absolute worst possible person at the absolute worst possible time, the deceased character absentmindedly drawing something that reminds them of something else, and several other factors as well.
  • In Towards Zero, a wealthy old lady was murdered in her home in Gull's Point. A year before, a random stranger attempted to commit suicide near the location by throwing himself off a cliff, but survived the fall. While lingering about the place to ponder on his life, he becomes involved in the crime and provided an eyewitness account that becomes the key evidence to solve the crime. Superintendent Battle, who was in charge of the case, remarks that this is a miracle.
  • Quite literally the entire plot of Holes is made up of a series of these. First, Stanley Yelnats is caught with a stolen pair of shoes. To avoid jail, he goes to Camp Greenlake, once a lake but long since dried up into desert, where boys dig a hole every day, supposedly to cure them of their criminal behaviour but actually to look for a treasure buried by a bandit called Kissin' Kate Barlow. There, in his group, is the boy who actually stole the shoes, who happened to drop them off a bridge Stanley was walking under, allowing Stanley to catch them in time to be caught with them and sentenced to Camp Greenlake. Stanley's family is cursed with bad luck because his ancestor didn't fulfill a promise to a one-legged gypsy to carry her up a mountain to drink from a special stream and sing her a song while she drank; the boy who actually stole the shoes is a descendant of this gypsy, and without knowing this, Stanley carries this boy up a different mountain and sings the song to him while he drinks from a stream, thus curing his family's bad luck. (For bonus points, both Stanley's ancestor and the gypsy lived in Latvia, and their descendants both happened to move to the same US state independent of each other.) While on this mountain, they take refuge under a boat owned by a man who was in love with a schoolteacher, the aforementioned Kate Barlow, who later robbed one of Stanley's ancestors of a box containing some documents and semi-precious gems, and happened to bury this box on the future site of Camp Greenlake, almost exactly where Stanley had once dug a hole as part of his time at Camp Greenlake, which Stanley eventually finds. The chances of all of these happening in order for the plot to turn out the way it did is astronomical.
  • P. G. Wodehouse actually created his character Mr. Mulliner, a fisherman who spins tales at his local pub, so as to use story-ideas which feature flagrant examples of this trope.
  • In the Ranger's Apprentice prequel The Tournament at Gorlan, Halt and Crowley just happen to come across Morgarath's messenger, who has a letter in which Morgarath explains his Evil Plan.
  • In the Brotherband series by the same author, the heroes just happen to come across a friendly fisherman who serves as Mr. Exposition.
  • Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time runs on this. In a cycle of twelve novels tracing the lives of a group of upper-class English people from the 1920s to the 1970s, characters keep coincidentally running into each other or finding unexpected connections to people they used to know. The constant use of coincidence is lampshaded in one of the later novels, which quotes the mystic cult leader Dr. Trelawney as saying: "Coincidence is no more than magic in action."
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story Silver Blaze, a horse thief drugs a stable-boy and makes off with a champion race horse on a night when the household just happens to be having lamb curry, a dish containing enough strong spices to mask the flavor of the drugs used to knock out the stable boy, for dinner. Rather unlikely given that the prime suspect happened to be an out-of-towner who was hardly in a position to know the household dinner menu. This, combined with the more famous clue about the dog that didn't bark, led Holmes to conclude that it wasn't a coincidence at all - the thief was the master of the house, who could dictate the dinner menu whenever he wanted to and could get past the dog unmolested at will.
  • In Lawrence Block's The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian Bernie gives up on trying to get into the nigh-impregnable Charlemagne and goes to a bar around the corner to get a drink. While there he just happens to be approached by a middle-aged resident of the Charlemagne who just happens to be fond of taking strange young men back to her apartment for the night.
  • In the author's note at the beginning of The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan admits it was written in deliberate emulation of the kind of cheap thriller "where the incidents defy the probabilities, and march just inside the borders of the possible". Throughout the novel, coincidences crop up to save the hero when all hope seems lost or to make things interesting when everything seems to be going smoothly.
  • In You Are Dead (Sign Here Please), on more than one occasion (during the same 24 hour period no less!) Nathan is killed while simultaneously being crushed by a bathtub, having a stroke and mauled by a badger. This seems to be a fairly common occurrence as there is a desk in the afterlife bureaucracy solely for people who have died in this incredibly specific manner. There is a separate desk for people who have died while simultaneously being crushed by a bathtub, having a stroke and mauled by a honey badger (which isn't a true badger).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Many episodes of Monk rely on a Contrived Coincidence to help Monk solve a case, which sometimes results in a Eureka Moment. For example, in the episode "Mr. Monk Goes to the Ballgame," Monk discovers the killer's identity only because a TV playing a commercial that featured the killer happened to be on while Monk was questioning a suspect.
  • Almost every episode of House involves an unlikely occurrence at just the right moment for House to realise the solution to his case.
    • For example, in "Here Kitty" he diagnoses his patient with Cushing's. Just before she is about to undergo surgery, the cat she claims predicted her death enters the room and jumps onto House's laptop. This causes him to realise how the cat 'predicted' deaths. She was just trying to keep warm by lying on patients that were feverish or had a heating blanket, making it seem as if she 'knew' they were going to die. In turn, this causes him to figure out that his patient does not have Cushing's, but cancer of the appendix. Another such occurrence is in "Clueless" when he reveals to a clinic patient's wife that her husband is cheating on her and she throws her gold wedding ring down onto the floor. This prompts House to realise that his main patient was being poisoned by his wife with gold sodium thiamilate.
    • This trope is beautifully lampshaded in the episode '5 to 9' where Cuddy asks House what he's going to do if his latest theory doesn't pan out. House responds with "Go talk to Wilson about something completely unrelated and see what happens."
  • Subverted and/or lampshaded in Life on Mars. In both versions of the show, the heavy-drinking Gene is shot — but it turns out he's okay because the bullet hit the flask he keeps in his jacket pocket. "What are the odds of THAT," one of the characters asks; Gene, pulling flasks from several other pockets, says "Pretty good, actually."
  • Red Dwarf: "Quarantine" parodies shows that rely heavily on this trope. The discovery of a scientific laboratory reveals that luck is just a virus with both "bad luck" and "good luck" strains. When Rimmer driven homicidal by a nasty holo-virus, Lister injects himself with the good luck virus so that he can conveniently stumble across everything he needs to defeat and cure Rimmer.
  • It sure was lucky that the Farscape crew happened to land on Earth just when Hallowe'en came around, so they could (nearly) get away with being aliens on an earth which had only seen the first Star Trek.
  • In tokusatsu Kamen Rider Den-O, the Transformation Trinket that Ryoutaro receives in episode one has four coloured buttons, each corresponding to one of his four forms. This despite the fact that he only has one form at the beginning, and the monsters he goes on to make contracts with for his remaining forms just happen to have the same colour schemes as the remaining buttons. You'd think it wouldn't really matter, but on some forums, you'd be deadly wrong.
  • Kamen Rider BLACK had the protagonist inadvertently stumbling upon Golgom's evil plans in nearly every episode. The organization itself believed he was some sort of Batman / Sherlock Holmes-level genius who was constantly tracking them down thanks to keen detective work, when reality it was almost always dumb luck.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Sarah Lance returned from Nanda Parbat with a sonic weapon. When Laurel Lance inherited it, she had it modified to look like she was attacking with her scream. Laurel's Earth-2 doppleganger was a meta-human who actually could attack people with her scream. While back on Earth-1, there was a woman with the exact same power as Earth-2 Laurel, who took over Earth-1 Laurel's mantle as the Black Canary, and had the exact same name as Laurel's mother, Dinah Drake.
    • Cisco nicknamed Mari "Vixen" not realizing that her grandmother's JSA codename was also Vixen.
  • Heroes:
    • Mainly during the first season, the main characters -who mostly lived in different parts of the USA- ran into each other several times, mostly by sheer coincidence. The worst example was when Hiro, Nathan and Sylar ALL HAPPENED TO STOP TO EAT AT THE SAME ROADSIDE DINNER AT THE SAME TIME. Though there has been talk about some characters having a "destiny" in the series, it has not been proven yet. (In fact, history has been changed at least twice.)
    • Two different diners: Hiro meets Nathan in one after seeing him land outside. Then Hiro and Ando stop at the one in Texas, where Sylar kills Charlie.
    • In Season 2, this trope is brought into contrast, as a guy asks the girl he's dating if he is meant to believe that the fact that her father once abducted him as a boy and now she's going out with him is just a coincidence. Also probably the only time the word "coincidence" is used in the show.
    • In Season 3, Sylar is ambushed by a paramilitary group in his father's home. He takes a member of the paramilitary group that tried to capture him to a nearby house, to do the whole torture others the guy cracks routine. This house, which Sylar picked at random, just happened to house a local boy who had superpowers of his own AND who knows where Sylar's father is AND who wants to go on a roadtrip with him.
    • Mohinder's cab in Season 1. Seriously, it must be the only taxi in New York or something, because whenever a character hails a cab, there he is.
  • In the first episode of The Tick (2001), The Red Scare, a communist assassin robot built in 1979 and programmed to hunt down and kill Jimmy Carter, is deployed in The City by a group of neo-commies who were trying to reprogram it to kill the postmaster general. Unfortunately, The Tick and Arthur foil them and accidentally activate the robot before the commies could reprogram it. Upon interrogating the communists and learning the latter, Arthur suddenly notices the title of that day's local newspaper. I'll give you three guesses as to what it says, and the latter two do not count.
    The Tick: Jimmy Carter is in town? Heavens to Betsy, what are the odds?!
  • Lost:
    • All of the passengers of Flight 815 have unknowingly crossed paths before meeting on the plane, to the extent that the series also falls into the One Degree of Separation trope. For instance, only in season 3 we find out that Claire and Jack are half siblings; this remains unbeknownst to Claire until Season 6 (as far as we are shown), while Jack finds out only in S4. like the writers were just throwing in little connections to please fans, but as of season six it is pretty obvious the fact they have all crossed paths is an important aspect of the show, and it may not be fate that brought them to the island in the first place.
    • Some characters are "chosen" by the Island, and it will not let them die until they've done their job. This generally manifests itself as a series of coincidences. A man survives a high-speed car crash, and another finds that every stick of dynamite he tries to commit suicide with burns out before exploding. Even just putting a gun to your head and pulling the trigger doesn't work.
      Tom: I'm curious—did the gun just jam up on you, or did the bullet bounce off your skull?
  • Lampshaded in a season 4 episode of The O.C., where Ryan and Taylor are trapped in an alternate reality. When the two have to split up, Taylor assures Ryan that since it's an alternate reality, they'll "just find each other". Sure enough, they do.
  • 24:
    • In the first season, Jack Bauer and his daughter wind up in apparently separate dangerous circumstances. Because this was the Big Bad intentionally targeting Jack and his family for revenge, this turns out NOT to be a case of Contrived Coincidence, and the lack of same makes it seem like rather clever plotting. However, in the second season, Jack and his daughter wind up in completely unrelated dangerous circumstances on the same day, apparently because the writers decided not to mess with a successful formula but couldn't be bothered to make it seem remotely plausible. It culminated in the Trope Namer Trapped by Mountain Lions.
    • In season 6, Morris O'Brien (CTU analyst Chloe O'Brien's ex-husband, and a major character) is identified as one of the handful of people in Los Angeles who are capable of assembling and arming a nuclear bomb, which is a perfect justification for the Big Bad Fayed to kidnap and coerce him into doing the same thing for a terrorist device.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Partners in Crime": The Doctor and Donna investigating in the same building simultaneously, questioning workers in the same office at the same time, using the same printer, running down parallel streets and parking their transports in the same street without ever seeing the other is portrayed as pure coincidence. Until "Journey's End" implied it was fate via the Timey-Wimey Ball and one rebellious Dalek.
    • "The End of Time" takes it even further, suggesting that even meeting Donna to begin with might have been simply to put the Tenth Doctor in contact with her grandfather Wilfred, who is destined to cause his death.
    • In "The Snowmen", when Clara has to describe her problem with one word, she says "Pond," which is only peripherally related to her actual problem, but conveniently happens to be the last name of the companion the Doctor is mourning. She probably has some awareness of the Ponds from her other echoed selves, but it's not explicit.
    • The set-up for almost every Doctor Who episode seems like a contrived coincidence. The TARDIS deliberately lands anywhere some sort of galactic peril is unfolding.
      Doctor: You didn't always take me where I wanted to go!
      TARDIS: No, but I always took you where you needed to be!
    • In "The Time of the Doctor", Clara pulls a Christmas cracker with the Doctor. Inside there is a poem which is so specifically about the Doctor's current situation that it's impossible to imagine what the poem was actually supposed to be about in-universe.
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm practically runs on this—each and every episode will have a good four or five subplots, which inevitably come together at the end to totally and completely screw Larry over. Sometimes it's not that out there, but nine out of ten times the end of an episode is this trope at work.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of CSI when the killer, a bitter TV actress, sarcastically suggests how the "hypothetical" murderer could have pulled off her crime, which ends up evolving into an increasingly convoluted, soap opera-ish plot. When Brass interrupts to snark about how much of a Contrived Coincidence one development in her scenario is, her response is, "that's alright, you're allowed to have one per episode."
  • In How I Met Your Mother, this specific coincidence shows no significant plot relevance YET, but: What are the chances that the mother forgets her yellow umbrella at a party, and then Ted happens to take that umbrella, only for him in later years to briefly date a girl, who happens to be the mother's roommate, and, coincidentally, the time when Ted goes to that girl's apartment it was raining, and Ted happened to be using the yellow umbrella and conveniently forgetting the umbrella at the apartment, where the mother resides?! SERIOUSLY?!? Out of all of the women he dated and the rainy days, he happens to forget the umbrella at his ex-girlfriend's apartment who happens to be roommates with the original owner of the umbrella.
    • Years later, Ted runs into this old girlfriend on a subway, at a time when he needed to find a new band for Robin and Barney's wedding. She happens to know of a great wedding band and the bass player is her former roommate, The Mother.
  • Seinfeld:
    • Happened all the time (usually for comedic effect). It was one of the elements that became flanderized as the series progressed, but this didn't stop it from being funny.
    • One particularly triumphant example occurs in "The Pothole." In Elaine's subplot, she discovers that her current office building is out of range of a particular Chinese restaurant, so she moves into a janitor's closet in the complex across the street and claims to work there; in Kramer's, he adopts a lane of highway and decides to create "extra-wide lanes" by removing the original paint on the stretch of road. At the end of the episode, Elaine just so happens to be driving from the office with a trunk full of the building's garbage, including a sewing machine that falls onto the road; Kramer just so happens to be trying to fix the lanes that he changed with paint thinner, only to spill it all over the highway; and Newman just so happens to be driving nearby, which causes him to catch the sewing machine under the chassis of his mail truck...which leads to the truck exploding in flame when sparks from the machine's needle ignite from the thinner. And in a final touch, Newman just so happens to be delivering an order of ingredients for the exact same dish that Elaine wanted to order in the first place.
    • In "The Gum," a new friend of George's suspects he might be mentally ill when he becomes obsessed with recovering a particular twenty dollar bill that he thinks a waitress took from him. Every single time George tries to verify his story, something bizarre happens at that exact moment: for instance, when he claims that Jerry can back up his sanity, Jerry is wearing a pair of thick glasses at the time, which make him unable to recognize George and thus cause Deena to doubt him. The coincidences reach their apex at the end of the episode, when George, repaying a favor for Kramer, walks down the street in broad daylight wearing a Henry VIII costume...just as Deena comes by. In the same episode, Elaine keeps getting into inadvertently sexual situations (such as losing a button on her blouse or being soaked from a florist's hose) whenever she's around Lloyd Braun, making him think she's interested in him.
    • In "The Millennium," George is offered a better-paying job with the New York Mets than he has with the Yankees; the catch is that he has to be fired from the latter to seal the deal. He thus tries numerous schemes to get himself in George Steinbrenner's bad graces, but every single time he comes up with something, Steinbrenner loves it. George wears Babe Ruth's jersey and covers it in strawberry jam? Steinbrenner loves his "out with the old, in with the new" philosophy. George streaks across the field wearing a bodysuit? Steinbrenner thinks that George is creating a new, exciting character called "Bodysuit Man." And when George finally does get himself fired, his own boss shows up and claims responsibility...and then tells George that the Mets made him a similar offer.
  • Prison Break is full of this, with things only getting more contrived as the show goes on. For instance, the premise of the show is that Lincoln Burrows has been framed for the murder of the Vice President's brother. Fortunately for him, his brother Michael happens to be a structural engineer, and happens to work for the company that designed the prison he is sentenced to. Furthermore, the firm designed the prison in a shady under the table deal, and due to family circumstances Lincoln and Michael have different surnames, thus ensuring that few other people know these things. Thus allowing Michael to put in place a complicated plan to free Lincoln that involves getting himself thrown in the same prison (which itself borders on this trope, though there are handwaves). And that's just the start...
  • The "Chicago Holiday" two-parter from the first season of Due South. Detective Ray Vecchio is trying to track down the contact list of a murdered mobster - which is written inside a book of matches. The matchbook is passed from a mob enforcer (who subsequently loses it) to several random bystanders who either throw it away or give it to someone else, and eventually winds up in the hands of the mobster's girlfriend, who then gives it to a high-ranking Canadian diplomat's daughter - who just so happens to be under protection from Fraser (Ray's partner and the main character of the show).
  • Noel's Christmas Presents relies on this trope and takes it Up to Eleven.
  • Scandal: It can be argued Huck seeing and recognizing Charlie on a tape falls in this category. This leads to Huck realizing Amanda is dead, as Huck and Charlie were once co-workers.
  • The Vampire Diaries, Jeremy finds a journal of Jonathan Gilbert. It's later revealed that it wasn't the only one. So the gang happened to find the one that told them where to find the spellbook by sheer luck.
  • The Rosie Larsen case takes two seasons to unravel on The Killing, because something like 2/3rds of Seattle didn't have an alibi the night she died, had some connection to the car she died in, had a sketchy relationship with her, or had something else to hide. The Reveal compounds this tenfold, because not only were nearly all shown to be red herrings, but Rosie was killed because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And she was finished off by of all people, her aunt, who happened to be in an affair she was willing to kill for. She only gets caught because she doesn't fix her taillight for nearly a month.
  • Breaking Bad depends on these:
    • Mid-season two, Walter is out one night after a meeting with Jesse and abruptly decides to drop into a bar by himself to grab a beer (something which, by his own admission, he never does), and happens to sit down beside and fall into conversation with a friendly stranger, who just so happens to be the father of Jesse's girlfriend. This occurs immediately before Jesse's girlfriend chokes to death on her own vomit while Walter does nothing to help. The astronomical unlikelihood of this chance meeting is lampshaded and handwaved by Walter himself in a later episode. That father also happens to be an Air Traffic Controller who later, still preoccupied over his daughter's death, negligently causes a mid-air collision right over Walter's house. Which makes Walt indirectly responsible for the crash.
    • Also during season two, Jesse's friend and fellow drug dealer Combo gets murdered for dealing on another gang's turf. Later, Jesse has a plan to sell meth to recovering addicts, and attempts to demonstrate to his fellow dealers how easy this is by striking up a conversation with one of the women at a rehab meeting. The woman in question (whom Jesse picked essentially at random from a group of about twenty people) just so happens to be the older sister of the boy that murdered Combo.
    • Also in season two, Skyler goes into labor at just about the same time that Walter is told he has one hour to deliver his first shipment to Gus Fring. Walter makes the dropoff, but in doing so, misses the birth of his daughter.
    • In "Caballo Sin Nombre" (third season, second episode), Walter decides to move back home against Skyler's wishes. He happens to be breaking in through the crawlspace at the same time Mike is bugging Walter's house. Mike slips away to his car unnoticed and while he's checking reception on his bugs he sees the Salamanca cousins show up, carrying their trademark chrome-plated axe, making their intentions clear. Walter has decided to take a shower after his crawlspace entrance, so the cousins sit on the bed to wait for him to come out. Mike calls Victor, Victor presumably talks to Gus, and Gus texts "POLLOS" to the cousins. They leave the house before Walt exits the shower, and Walter gets to live.
    • The vest-piercing bullet the arms dealer gives to one of the cousins is conveniently dropped by said cousin where Hank can reach it after the gun Hank is using is out of bullets. And the bullet just happens to be right calibre, etc., to fit Hank's gun.
    • In Season three, after the cousins' attack on Hank, he's brought to the same hospital in which Jesse was recovering from the beating Hank gave him. And Hank's ambulance just happens to arrive while Jesse, just discharged, is waiting outside in a wheelchair to be picked up by Skinny Pete.
    • Yet again in Season three, episode "Half Measures": Tomas is killed by the drug dealers he works for. An entire day passes. In the next evening, Jesse decides to go to their corner to kill them. Walt, after hearing of the murder on the evening news, realizes what Jesse might do and rushes out of the house, abandoning dinner with Skyler and Walt Jr. He gets to the corner just when Jesse is about to confront the dealers and runs both of them over, saving Jesse in the nick of time.
    • In the finale season: Walter is in hiding in New Hampshire. After he tries to reconnect with his son and is roughly told off, he calls the DEA and settles in to let them trace the call to the bar where he is drinking and arrest him. Before they find him, the bartender randomly starts channel flipping, which allows Walter to see an interview where his ex- and old business partner badmouth him on TV and minimize his contribution. This angers Walt so much he chooses to escape and return to New Mexico for his vengeance.
    • In the finale episode: Walter is about to be taken out back and shot by the Neo-Nazis at their hideout, which would screw his whole plan to kill them all with an M60. While they're grabbing him to take him out back, he starts screaming at Jack about Jack's promise to kill Jesse, alleging Jack partnered with Jesse instead. In doing so, Walt hits a MAJOR nerve Jack has (and Walt didn't even know about): his hatred of snitches. Jack is so incensed at the implication he's working with a rat (Jesse), he keeps Walt alive just so he can see Jesse is their slave, not a partner. This, however, buys Walt enough time to grab his keys off the pool table and trigger the M60.
  • Due to the random nature of the anomalies, some of the plots of Primeval can come across as this as they hinge on an anomaly opening in exactly the right place at the right time. Case in point is Season 2 Episode 5, when Cutter and Stephen become trapped in the Silurian desert after an anomaly closes. They're saved when another anomaly soon opens, which doesn't just also lead to 21st century England, but to mere hours after the last one shut.
  • A season seven episode of Full House has two storylines: Jesse buys tickets to a Little Richard concert, only for Nicky and Alex to cut them up, and Joey campaigns for the position of P.T.A. President of Michelle's school, only to have his rival Mrs. Carruthers outdo him, prompting Kimmy to suggest a fundraiser with a celebrity guest. Immediately after this suggestion is made, Michelle's friend Denise casually mentions that her musician uncle (who she's never brought before) could do the job—and immediately after she says this, there's a knock at the door. It's her uncle. Guess who he is. No, go on—guess. The Quotes page has an excellent summary of this phenomenon.
  • In one episode of Growing Pains, Chrissy thinks fun things happen after bed time, so Jason lets her stay up late to see nothing exciting happens at night. Unfortunately, a string of events occur that result in a party.
  • Star Trek: Moving the Adventure Town trope into space often leads to coincidence as the landing party or shuttle crash just happens to arrive on the correct part of a planet.
    • In "The Apple" the crew know nothing of Vaal, the computer that runs the world, yet despite the entire planet having a virtually constant climate they beam down within walking distance of Vaal.
      • They can detect humanoid life with their sensors, so probably just picked the spot near the largest concentration.
    • In DS9's "Rocks and Shoals", the crew's disabled ship not only finds a conveniently close nebula to hide in, but they find a planet in the nebula, and crash within walking distance of similarly shipwrecked Dominion troops.
  • Salamander: Gerardi just happens to meet the daughter of the man behind the revenge plot against Salamander as their daughters attend the same boarding school. This allows him to unravel the plot after he meets her father and realizes who he is. Without this, the plot would not have been solved at all.
  • In NCIS Season 10's "You Better Watch Out" two robbers decided to hit a place without much security in the Washington DC area on May 2, 2011. This is the night the Navy SEA Ls took out Osama bin Laden. As a result, Homeland would have increased satellite surveillance on the capital in case of retaliation. As a result, the robbers were caught on that tape.
  • Madam Secretary: In order to justify Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord becoming President for the day, Air Force One goes off the air over the Pacific returning from a state funeral in Australia (the Speaker of the House was also aboard). The cyberattack responsible sets off the Story Arc for the first half of the season. What doesn't is that the vice president simultaneously comes down with a gallbladder infection requiring surgery, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate has become a Scatterbrained Senior because of a string of mini-strokes his staff have been keeping secret until he retires at the end of his current term.
  • In The Wire, Scott Templeton has been falsifying his stories for The Sun to bolster his profile. One of his worst lies is the one he carries out to reignite McNulty's fake "serial killer" case while it is cooling off. Scott reports that just as he walked from the office, he saw a vagrant being pulled into a van. This raises several flags and is the straw that breaks the camel's back for Gus Haynes.
    Gus Haynes: You ever notice that the guys who do that, the Blairs, the Glasses, the Kelleys, they all start with something small, you know? Just a little quote that they clean up. And then it's a whole anecdote. And pretty soon they're seeing some amazing shit. They're the lucky ones who just happen to be standing on the right street corner in Tel Aviv when the pizza joint blows up and the human head rolls down the street with the eyes still blinking.
    Thomas Klebanow: The pictures were sent to him. The police have confirmed...
    Gus Haynes: It always starts with something true, something confirmed. But then you've got a son of a bitch who just happens to be walking in the Guilford entrance when the mysterious gray van comes...
  • All My Children: When Kendall's son Spike goes deaf, it's initially assumed that Greenlee was responsible, since she attempted to kidnap Spike and ended up getting in a car accident with him in the process. When Spike gets cochlear implant surgery, it's discovered that Spike's hearing loss was actually caused by a chromosomal abnormality and nothing could have stopped him from going deaf; it was pure coincidence that he lost his hearing after the car accident.
  • Discussed in Sherlock. Note that Sherlock doesn't say that "there's no such thing as coincidences", he just says that actual coincidences rarely occur in the grand scheme of things.
    Mind Palace!Mycroft: What do we say about coincidences?
    Sherlock: The universe is rarely so lazy.
  • Blake's 7. At the start of Season 3, Avon and his Arch-Enemy Servalan survive a massive space battle only to run into each other while stranded on an alien planet.
    Servalan: You don't sound surprised.
    Avon: Why should I be? It has a perverse kind of logic to it. Our meeting is the most unlikely happening I could imagine. Therefore we meet. Surprise seems inappropriate somehow.
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency: Several people on the show are favored by fate in this way, most notably Bart, the "holistic assassin." She stumbles upon random people who deserve to die, and then kills them with the most casual blind luck possible. Guns pointed at her jam, her own shots never miss, and she never kills people who don't deserve to die. Her absurd luck gives her some rather glaring gaps in her education. For example, she has no idea that you're supposed to fix a car if it breaks down. In her experience, if a car breaks down, it just means she's supposed to be at that location; the car will be working again when it's time for her to leave.
  • Daredevil:
    • In season 2, it turns out by pure chance that the Blacksmith, the mysterious drug lord responsible for the shootout that got Frank Castle's family killed, was Castle's former CO Colonel Schoonover, who had gone into the heroin business, and who had not shown any indications of being a bad person until Karen just happened to notice a photograph of him posing with a soldier she recognized as one of the bodies that got zipped up at the docks. This instance gets subverted by The Punisher, which reveals that Frank had in fact been specifically targeted because he was going to snitch about the various war crimes and illegal missions being carried out by other members of his unit, like Schoonover and William Rawlins.
    • In the season 2 finale, Karen just happens to be among the "rescued by Daredevil" people that the Hand scoop up as part of their bait for Matt. So is Turk Barrett, who so conveniently happens to have an electronic parole bracelet for Karen to activate to notify the police. Lampshaded by Brett Mahoney once Matt rescues Karen and the hostages, as he says to Karen, "Is there any shit show you're not a part of?"
  • Luke Cage: The reason Mariah is able to cover up Cottonmouth's murder is because Shades just happens to appear right after she finishes bashing in Cottonmouth's head with the microphone stand. It's in the penultimate episode that Shades reveals that he had in fact gone there to kill Cottonmouth himself, but Mariah beat him to it.
  • The Defenders: The reason Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand all end up meeting and working together to take down the Hand is because Danny, Luke and Jessica all individually discover around the same time that Midland Circle is somehow connected to whatever case they're investigating involving the Handnote , with Matt just following Jessica as a favor for Foggy. They also all happen to pick the same moment to go there and investigate further.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Galavant, where several characters enter the Forest of Coincidence, and manage, in the space of about five minutes, to both provide some exposition and set up several plot points to be solved.

  • "Birthday" by The Beatles from The White Album.
    They say it's your birthday!
    Well, it's my birthday too, yeah!''
  • Rupert Holmes' "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" has a guy planning to cheat on his wife/girlfriend by taking out a personal ad. Not only is said ad answered by his wife/girlfriend out of all the people in the world, but they discover that they have a lot of the same specific likes and preferences (piña coladas, getting caught in the rain, etc.) in common, which they'd somehow never shared with each other before. At least slightly justified by both parties presumably sharing the same local newspaper, which may even have been left open at the ads section.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • A recurring line in the Book of Esther is "It so happened." Although God is never mentioned as being directly in control of the events of the text, the implication is that He is in control in the background, that there are too many coincidences for this turn of events to really be a coincidence. The text is sometimes used to drive home the point that God helps those who help themselves, or is in control when it seems from an outside perspective that He is not.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Calvin and Hobbes gave us the story of a jet whose engines explode "for no reason" and falls out of the sky, a half-million-ton freight train jumping the tracks after hitting a penny on the rails at 80mph, and a shift in the Earth's tectonic plates all heading for the same spot - the house of Farmer Brown, who is unaware of a gas leak as he attempts to light his stove.
  • The 30 November 1997 Garfield strip has Garfield's owner Jon, in typical Walking Disaster Area form, with his head stuck in a wastebasket and pickle jars stuck over both hands mere minutes before his date for the evening arrives. Garfield "solves" the problem by drawing a face on the wastebasket, then answers the doorbell to find Jon's date... with a wastebasket (complete with face drawing) over her head and pickle jars on either hand. Garfield thinks, "Funny how things work out."
  • The 14 September 2011 The Argyle Sweater strip has the Peanuts gang at the beach, with Charlie Brown having just been for a free face painting and having his head painted like a soccer ball before being buried up to his neck in the sand, the back of his head facing fellow beachgoer David Beckham. The caption lampshades the coincidence: "A perfect storm of events led to a tragic end for Charlie Brown."

  • In the Firefly game of Cool Kids Table, Roc just so happens to have a circuit board in his kimono pocket just like the one that needs to be replaced in the bridge. In gameplay terms his player Shannon had to spend a plot point for him to pull that off.

  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Poison Ivy", Miss Brooks tells off an obnoxious man who is tying up Mrs. Davis' party line. Later, Miss Brooks and Walter Denton nearly run over an obnoxious jaywalking woman on their drive to school. Unhappily, Mr. Conklin soon informs Miss Brooks that said obnoxious man and woman are important state officials who have the power to fire Mr. Conklin or Miss Brooks on the spot!
  • In The BBC's science fiction drama Earthsearch there's an episode where the four-person crew of the starship involved in the titular search defeat an evil robot that tried to take over. Having done so they decide it's time to set course for their next destination, but it turns out that they don't have to, because out of all the infinite directions it could have chosen the evil robot randomly selected the very course they wanted to take. In another episode, somewhere in the vastness of interstellar space they just happen to accidentally run into one of the only two other ships in the fleet, just so they can have an adventure on board.

  • Older Than Steam: The Bard is not immune to this.
    • There's no reason at all that Romeo didn't get the message about Juliet's sleeping potion, except to make the story a "tragedy" in the loosest sense of the word. (There's an explanation, involving a plague outbreak and a quarantine, but it's still a contrived coincidence that the quarantine happens at that particular time.) Arthur Laurents, librettist of West Side Story, was very proud of inventing a more compelling reason the message was lost, as Tony's gang very nearly rapes the messenger.
    • The Comedy of Errors requires unimaginable coincidences, as do most of Shakespeare's comedies.
    • In The Taming of the Shrew, Bianca's many suitors need someone brave enough to marry the shrewish Katherine so that Bianca will be eligible for marriage. When they decide that, in rides Petruchio, who thinks that a beautiful, rich wife sounds fantastic, and finds the idea of "taming" her to be thrilling.
    • In Othello, Iago's wife doesn't see fit to tell Othello what a scoundrel her husband is until after he murders Desdemona.
  • The traditional Russian name for this trope is "grand piano in the bushes". It comes from an old Soviet stage comedy sketch "Completely coincidentally" by Arkady Arkanov and Grigory Gorin, which parodied obviously staged Soviet news reports that were made to look live and improvised. In the sketch a TV reporter interviews a retired heroic factory worker, with objects and people that help illustrate some parts of his story just "completely coincidentally" happening to be nearby. The sketch concludes with the interviewer asking the worker what he does in his spare time, to which he replies that he is a skilled musician, and wouldn't you know, there just happens to be a grand piano hidden in the nearby bushes for him to demonstrate his musical skills.
  • In Les Misérables, this trope seems to be in play as all of the important characters happen to show up in the same place at the same time.
  • Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest relies on ridiculous coincidence for its humour.
  • In Pokémon Live!, MechaMew2 has learned every single move... except for Thundershock and Thunder. This gives Giovanni the perfect excuse to have Jessie and James kidnap Ash's Pikachu for him. Keep in mind that Giovanni keeps referring to the total amount of moves as 251, which it is in the second generation. This means that MechaMew2 has somehow learned the signature moves of two legendary Pokémon (Lugia's Aeroblast and Ho-oh's Sacred Fire) but is yet to meet one that uses either of the two rather common Electric-type moves.

    Video Games 
  • Final Fantasy V. The party needs to cross the ocean. They just so happen to find a cavern used by pirates. They try to steal the ship, and it just so happens that Faris, the goofy supposedly-male pirate with pink hair, is pink-haired princess Lenna's long lost sister Sarisa. Which is great timing since Faris needs to be around to watch her father die and give her a motive to save the world.
  • Final Fantasy VI:
    • The player party needs to get across the ocean, but ships are too tightly watched by The Empire for them to go by sea. The following series of coincidences allows them to make the trip:
    • The only airship in the world is held by a Sky Pirate named Setzer, who has a thing for an opera soprano named Maria.
    • Maria is supposed to be playing in an opera just near the party's current location.
    • Maria is afraid of being kidnapped by Setzer, and therefore won't play. However, party-member Celes resembles her closely enough to take her place.
    • Celes is a proficient enough musician to convincingly pass for a world-renowned soprano after at most a few days of rehearsal, despite being an 18-year-old ex-general.
  • Final Fantasy VII:
    • Cloud, a former comrade of Sephiroth (who becomes the Big Bad), meets Aeris, who is the last survivor of her race (and just so happens to be the only one able of stopping Sephiroth) and who just happens to be Zack's ex-girlfriend, who was another comrade of Cloud and Sephiroth, and Cloud & Zack were experimented on (as adults) by Hojo in the basement of a mansion in Cloud's childhood hometown, and Hojo turns out to be Sephiroth's father...
    • Crisis Core takes it to a whole new level, with Zack Fair actually meeting many characters seen in the original game, including some of the playable characters who join Cloud's party, with the exception of Red XIII, Barret and the sleeping Vincent Valentine. Why none of them remember seeing a guy with the same haircut as Cloud carrying the exact same sword…
    • Before Crisis is even worse than Crisis Core, with the player Turk encountering virtually everyone in the original game (including Cid, Red XIII, Barret, and Vincent) as well as Zack.
  • Final Fantasy XV has an in-universe book featuring brief descriptions of the six Astrals, the elemental gods of the world of Eos. The order in which these Astrals are listed happens to be the exact order in which the player encounters them.
  • In God of War II, it would appear that every hero in Greece scheduled an appointment with the Fates the same day Kratos did.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Regal keeps his true identity secret for almost half of a disc. Yes, he emphasizes his role as a criminal to hide it, but the secret would have been revealed if anyone ever mentioned him (and he's well known) using both his first and last name. It helps that he never actually says his full name (before The Reveal)... and that the one person who figured it out (Zelos) decided not to call attention to it.
  • Tales of Xillia:
    • It begins with a contrived coincidence to have the two protagonists, Jude and Milla, meet up. Milla happens to pick the one day to infiltrate the Laforte Research Facility, when Jude heads to the facility to find his professor. And a convenient gust just happened to pull Jude's paper out of his hands and led to him grabbing it, leaning over the banister and seeing Milla walking on top of water below and followed her out of curiosity. Had just one of those things been different, likely Milla would have gone on the game's entire journey on her own.
    • Partway through Arc 1, Milla's legs get injured and result in them being paralyzed, with no chance of healing. But it just so happens that Jude remembers that his father has a technological device that can heal paralyzed limbs! And, conveniently, the type of spirit stone they need to power the device is located in an old, abandoned mine just outside his hometown. Thank goodness for this coincidence, or the journey would likely have ended prematurely.
  • EarthBound:
    • The game has a number of these, usually played tongue-in-cheek. The most flagrant example? After the Moonside segment, you receive a phone call from Apple Kid, who tells you that he is sending you his latest invention: a yogurt machine that, as of now, can only make trout-flavored yogurt. Then you are approached by a monkey who lives in a cave in the desert, whose master wants to meet you. Then a delivery man says that he brought the yogurt machine, but lost it in a cave out in the desert. (Yes, the same one.) And then one of the maids from the building you've been trying to enter all this time asks if you could bring her some trout-flavored yogurt. And all of this happens in immediate succession.
      • Most of the Apple Kid's role in the game is the result of contrived coincidence. Numerous times throughout the game the player will come across obstacles that immediately after running into the Apple Kid will subsequently call to the party's one way phone and tell them he's just come up with this amazing new invention which just so happens to be exactly what is needed to get past the obstacle which they can now go get, despite the player having no opportunity to actually tell the Apple Kid what the obstacle was beforehand. The yogurt machine, Pencil Eraser, and Eraser Eraser are all examples of this.
    • The prequel's whole plot is due to a contrived coincidence: namely, that Ninten is a descendent of the humans who raised Giegue. If this were not so, then he would be unable to enter Magicant and find out that he must collect all eight melodies which are the only things that can make Giegue call off his invasion of Earth. And even with all that, the only reason he stumbles into Magicant in the first place is because his town's curfew prevents him from leaving his hometown the conventional way, requiring him to go off the beaten path.
  • Half-Life:
    • The series is brimming with this trope, from fortuitous weapons acquired immediately before they would be most useful to people and indeed entire organisations functioning almost entirely to benefit the player. This is even used as a pervasive story element, as the almost omnipresent G-Man is shown to manipulate things both important and seemingly inconsequential for his own purposes, blurring the line between coincidence and intent and further emphasising Gordon's complete lack of control. Need to get somewhere but rubble just fell and is blocking your way? It's all good, because nearby there will happen to be a hole in the wall/an underground tunnel/junk usable as stairs/broken prison bars that lets you get to exactly where you need to go. In fact, it's more likely that what was behind the rubble that fell wasn't where you needed to go.
    • The first game revolved around the "Black Mesa incident", a catastrophic experiment gone wrong in the titular Black Mesa Research Facility in New Mexico. The second game is set twenty years later in an almost completely unrelated eastern European setting, and yet virtually every significant character the protagonist meets has some connection to Black Mesa, for no adequately explained reason.
  • Heavy Rain:
    • Ethan's son is kidnapped because he has a blackout, as a result of a car crash from years before, and he finds himself in an alleyway with an origami crane. It certainly appears to be a contrived coincidence, unless Ethan is really the Origami Killer and didn't know it. However, it's really an even bigger contrived coincidence than it seems at first. The Origami Killer just happens to be across the street to witness the car accident that started the blackouts, they all coincide with the Origami Killer's kidnappings, and always result in Ethan finding himself holding a paper crane and coming to at a specific intersection which just happens to be emotionally significant to the killer. Nobody knows this at the time so he couldn't have picked it up from the news.
    • Interestingly, most of the explanation for the above was originally going to be part of the plot where a sort of psychic bond was formed with The Origami Killer, who was present at the car accident and saw Ethan as an ideal father. This was cut a few weeks before release because the developers felt the added paranormal angle took away from the immersion and didn't really add anything to the story. What's left provides a pretty big contrived coincidence that is never explained.
    • While Shelby and Lauren go to visit Manfred's Clock Shop, the Origami Killer murders Manfred exactly when Scott is looking through filing cabinets, Lauren is in the other room entranced by a music box, and all the clocks are cacophonously chiming at the top of the hour, allowing the killer to sneak in, murder Manfred, and get away before anyone notices. Although when it's revealed that Scott was the murderer, it takes out some of the variables, but still leaves the coincidence of Lauren being distracted by a music box while the clocks were going off just as Scott decided it was time to murder Manfred.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Shadow the Hedgehog's strikingly similar appearance to Sonic is noted often by the various characters, but he was created 50 years prior to the series and only looks like Sonic because Professor Gerald just happened to base his appearance off of the mural of Supersonic that he happened to see on a trip to Angel Island.
  • Skies of Arcadia has a point where our trio of heroes get separated in an attack. Two happen to be found by a kind sky pirate while the other gets stranded on and island before being rescued by another sky pirate who just happened to be the love interest for the latter. Then they all head to a secret island to find a hidden treasure at the same time. This island just so happened to have mechanisms that was set up so that only two groups of people could get the treasure.
  • Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle Of Flesh: Hoo, boy, does the game have a number of these! Arguably the biggest instance is when Curtis has to break into a small locked room in his workplace, where he finds a toolbox. Inside it he finds a girl's dress his mother made him wear as a child, as well as a letter from his boss Paul Allen Warner to Curtis's father. He ends up finding a letter to him from his father, saying a number of things, like hoping that WynTech is treating him well. It's weird that his father puts this letter in such a spot and hopes that Curtis will one day work at that place, get some wild hair to break into this room and find this letter and the other contents of the toolbox, while his boss is starting up his illegal and immoral science project! If that's not this trope, then we're all the rulers of Siam!
  • How Thorny Towers goes down in the climactic cutscene of Psychonauts. Let's see here. Gloria turns on the gas pipes for the asylum, having confused the crank for a sprinkler in a garden. Edgar pulls his chain out of the floor, pulling a gaping hole in a pipe just below the surface, releasing gas into the asylum grounds. Then he spills all of his turpentine and acetone. Then, Boyd, just outside the asylum, ready with a molotov-cocktail milk bottle, is coaxed by Fred to "blow this popsicle stand." He throws the bottle into the courtyard, igniting it, and finally the tower itself, thanks to the previously mentioned gas leak. Then, at the top of the tower, in the psychic showdown, Ford enters and uses Oleander's weaponized sneezing powder on him to make him sneeze up his own brain. This causes the top of the tower to explode, and the rest of the already weakened tower to collapse (upon Raz and Lili, who have to hurriedly navigate to escape). Damn. Do note that at least part of it is played for laughs, such as Edgar sound clearly unconvincing that the spill was an accident, and he does at least chest the busted pipe, a smart thing to do, it's part Played for Laughs and part building up to the climax sequence.
  • Secret Files:
    • In the first game, Max Gruber works at the same museum as Nina's father. In the second game, the two are on two completely unrelated missions: Nina is taking a vacation and Max is visiting a classmate in Indonesia photographing her archaeological find. Puritas Cordis happens to be in both locations.
    • In Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis in one place you need to gather several small blue stones to solve a puzzle. Those stones were removed from the cemetery to be used in constructions. For some reason, all of them were used in visible places and not buried under other stones.
  • In Syberia, at one point player character Kate finds herself trapped in an abandoned Soviet factory complex because someone has stolen the automaton train conductor's hands. The thief turns out to be the unstable director of the complex who has used the hands for his automaton pianist which he plans to use for a concert he wants an opera singer he is obsessed with to have in the complex. He won't let you go unless you can somehow bring her there but neither him nor Kate know where she is. However, by glancing at some articles in the guy's Stalker Shrine to the singer, Kate finds the name of one of the singer's acquaintances... which happens to be the man her mother is dating. One call to her mother and Kate learns the singer is in a spa town in the same region. And the complex just happens to be next to an abandoned cosmodrome which contains a still functioning airship which you can take to the spa town. After that quest line is resolved, you finally leave via the train... and arrive at the exact same spa town you departed from earlier...and find the guy you were looking for the whole game sitting in a bench.
  • The Mass Effect series. What are the chances that, as you run around the galaxy in the second game, you randomly bump into people you met in the first game? It's a small galaxy, indeed. A few of these are justified to a degree by the fact that many of the places Shepard visits happen to be among the top important and famous gathering places in the entire galaxy, but accidently running into people is still somewhat hard to believe due to the sheer size of these planet-covering locations. Then again, what are the odds that just as you'd find yourself needing evidence to prove that a high-ranking special agent was a traitor, someone would coincidentally arrive on the same space station who just so happened to have come across the exact information you need.
  • It is revealed in Second Original Generation that the reason why Earth attracts Aerogaters, the Inspectors and Guests, the Ruina, the Einsts, the Shura race, the Shadow-Mirror, and Dark Brain is because of Shu Shirakawa's Granzon that without his knowledge, has attracted these beings thanks to the Guest's technology. He does forcibly cancel it, but acknowledges that it may be too late already at this point.
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty: Most campaign missions are tailored to heavily if not critically rely on the use of a new unit introduced in each mission. Usually it's not too odd, because you're supplied that unit by your technicians or allies, apparently after analysing the situation and its requirements. But at one occasion (The "Train Robbery" mission), you just happened to find the units you absolutely need to win, lying around the battlefield, somehow ignored by the enemy.
  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf begins with one. At the start of a new game where the town is generated, the player character gets off the train and is mistaken for the new mayor. All of this is due to arriving in town just before the actual new mayor was supposed to come.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, some of the Sheikah Shrines' trials are simply getting access to the shrines in the first place (these are the ones titled "[Sheikah Monk's Name]'s Blessing"). While a lot of the trials to access them are sensible enough to have been prepared during their construction (such as collecting scales from the Divine Dragons or solving an ancient riddle), some of the "trials" tied to the freebie shrines are orchestrated by people born long after the respective shrines' architects. They can range from winning the key orb in a sand seal race to preparing a drink for a lost and fatigued Gerudo blocking the access terminal on the otherwise freely-accessible shrine.
  • World of Warcraft: The Main Characters Do Everything. With the magical mists that kept Pandaria hidden from the rest of the world destroyed by the Cataclysm, it was only a matter of time before the continent was discovered by the Alliance and Horde. However, it's still a pretty big coincidence that out of the hundreds of ships that could have found it, the one that did happened to be carrying Anduin Wrynn, the Prince of Stormwind.
  • In the season finale of The Darkside Detective, McQueen and Dooley are pulled off supernatural duty and sent to deal with a series of minor break-ins and disturbances because the rest of the police force is busy dealing with a citywide riot. The minor incidents all turn out to be part of a pattern that leads to McQueen discovering the supernatural cause of the rioting. Lampshaded by Dooley.
  • The symbolism of Rule of Rose hinges on Brown, the protagonist's pet dog. Unfortunately, the game is set in a really isolated (and we mean really isolated, like, children get murdered there and no one notices) orphanage in the English countryside, Brown is a tiny puppy when she first finds him wandering around said orphanage, there are no other dogs or humans for miles (except for the local crazed hermit), and never is the player given any indication of where Brown came from or how he survived so long in the wilderness. (And no, he's not some magical hallucinatory spirit guide. His death proves that.)

    Visual Novels 
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Bernkastel has the power to invoke miracles, which basically amounts to making almost impossible events happen. Due to Bernkastel min-maxing in character generation, Erika's whole life has become a series of these, from the improbable skill set she's acquired to her very arrival in the game.
  • The scene early in Kira-Kira where Tonoya gives concert tickets to Kirari and Shika, thereby putting the plot in motion. When Shika is being interviewed later on in the game, both he and the interviewer lambaste the event, claiming that things like that just don't happen in real life.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Almost all the cases would be unwinnable if it weren't for at least one witness being in the right place at the right time.
    • In the third case of the second game: a circus ringmaster goes to meet with someone, instead his daughter's place. He just so happens to borrow your defendant's cloak. The murderer drops what just so happens to be a bronze bust of your client on the ringmaster, killing him. The bust just so happens to snag on the cloak when he pulls it up, and to a witness from exactly the right spot, it looks like your client is flying away from the corpse - and flying just so happens to be your client's signature magic trick.
    • Everyone realizes just how much of a Contrived Coincidence each act is, and when the evidence supports the theory, actively rebel against anyone accepting it as the truth. Phoenix himself acknowledges that it's incredibly unlikely and near impossible, and, in his words, "But that's exactly what happened." This happens all the time.
    • The plot arcs of each game have a few coincidences, but are usually explained as the long-term plans of people involved with the cases. Not so with the events of Investigations. It seems that when Edgeworth was first starting out as a prosecutor several years ago, he got involved in an incident involving a smuggling ring. Cut to the present day, where he ends up investigating three crimes that are all in some way related to the group. None of them are directly related to each other. His presence for all three is pure coincidence. And this happens over a period of two days.
    • In Investigations, in the final case of the game, an incredibly important piece of evidence comes from a box of hot dogs given to you by Wendy Oldbag. These hot dogs just so happen to have a single drop of blood, perfectly centered on a Japanese fan design to make it look like a fan with the symbol of the rising sun on it, and nowhere else. And Oldbag just so happened to take this one just before they were all confiscated by the embassy staff.
    • Apollo's entire life story. Born abroad to a magician and a musician, his father dies and his mother is unable to find him, eventually going back home and having another child with her colleague. He spends some time abroad with a foster family before somehow ending up in the American foster system, meeting his best friend. He then becomes apprentice to a distinguished attorney. Sounds normal enough, except fast forward fifteen or so years, and he ends up under the tutelage of Phoenix, who's been planning to ruin his mentor Kristoph's life after Kristoph ruined his seven years ago. Phoenix was disbarred because of presenting forged evidence during his defense of Zak, Apollo's mother's second husband, and has adopted Trucy, Apollo's half-sister. Their mother Thalassa, thought dead, turns up amnesiac and blind as a witness in a case they're handling. Apollo's best friend Clay is murdered in a chain of events that end up acquitting Simon Blackquill and help usher in the end of the Dark Age of the Law. And let's not get started on how the time he spent in Khura'in affects the revolution that happens in the sixth game. To be fair, though, Apollo himself isn't aware of his biological family being so close to him; Phoenix knows but is deliberately keeping it from him.
  • Subverted in Canvas 2; it's implied that Kiri started working at Nadesico precisely because Hiroki worked there and she wanted to see him again.
  • Only partially invoked in Hotel Dusk: Room 215. While the arrival of many of the guests is indeed sheer coincidence, several of them had or were arranged to arrive on that specific date.
  • In Last Window, Kyle just ends up happening to stay at the apartments where his father was murdered 25 years ago. This gets a lampshade from Rex Foster, who finds it a bit hard to swallow that Kyle moved there without knowing the connection.
  • In Fate/stay night, there were all of three students with magical talent attending Fuyuki High School. But two of them became close friends despite having no knowledge of the other's double life. (It was about a year before they realized the truth.)

    Web Comics 
  • Scott McCloud's The Right Number centers on this. The protagonist calls his girlfriend and arranges a date, but mistakenly dials one digit off and calls another woman also expecting a date. By pure coincidence, the new woman happens to look almost exactly like his girlfriend, so much that it takes him a while to realize it's not her. The improbability of this happening is funny to her but serious to him, and he starts to believe he's discovered some grand unifying equation for calculating a person's character. Soon he grows obsessed enough to test his theory, and starts stalking women while calculating their phone numbers to determine who will be the perfect woman for him.
  • The Order of the Stick:
  • MegaTokyo has quite a few of these, most notably the significance of nearly every member of the Sonoda family (Yuki is Piro's student, Meimi has a hit on Largo, the Inspector knows half the cast and Erika was engaged to his brother). Oddly, the example quoted above is one of the few that can make any sense, if you're willing to believe that Largo actually CAN sense evil (given everything else in the comic, it isn't too far a stretch).
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • Torg accidentally stumbles upon Dr. Steve's laboratory and becomes the object of Oasis's affections. By sheer coincidence, one of his friends is secretly employed by Steve's old company, Hereti Corp, which is desperately searching for Oasis.
    • Lampshaded towards the end of "Love Potion": "That is a great story, Kenny! All kinds of good fortune! And I guess the final one is that Gwynn would happen to sit next to the only other demon-possessed person on the train, allowing us to exchange stories."
    • Also lampshaded in "28 Geeks Later", although it's not really plot-significant. "Aw man! Brain-bug right up the nose! How plain silly! What are the chances it'd be shooting out of the drain right when my nose was over it? What's the word I'm looking for? ARGH!!!" [gets made slightly nerdier by brain-bug] "...'Contrived'!"
  • Lampshaded and subverted in Digger, when the title character is told she's a descendant of Helix, one of the wombats who worked on the chains binding the dead god:
    Digger: What? Me? Isn't that a little... improbable?
    Helix: I had eight sons a thousand years ago. You do the math.
  • El Goonish Shive has an interesting subversion. During the party, a lightbulb explodes, interrupting Susan and Justin's ill-advised hook-up. They see this as a fortunate coincidence. It's actually the Demonic Duck saving their friendship. He owed Justin a favor after a joke went very wrong.
    • While still unresolved, what we know of Susan and Diane seems to be this. They look nearly identical and would look even moreso has Susan not awakened and magically changed her hair color and height. They were born within 20 minutes of each other on New Years's Eve/Day. They both have a natural affinity to summon weapons and fight Vampires (Diane is not awakened). Diane is adopted However, it's been confirmed by someone with the sources to know that they are not twins who were Separated at Birth. Even if the theory that Susan's cheating father impregnated a mistress as well as his wife, the likelihood of their identical appearance and birth dates is still a huge longshot. Said expert has clearly stated that such coincidences can and do happen far more than people think. It's eventually revealed that they're related but several generations removed. Diana is Raven's daughter, while Susan is his great-great many times removed granddaughter. No one suspected this because it was thought even by immortals that elves (the children of immortals) were infertile.
    • However, in universe it's stated that magic is somewhat sentient and has a flare for the dramatic so it may also be creating such coincidences.
  • Chapter 3 of Gunnerkrigg Court. All the other parts of the comic's Generation Xerox have a reasonable in-universe explanation, but in this chapter Reynardine, attempting to escape from the Court, smashes through several roofs. And one of these roofs just happens to be the dorm of Antimony Carver, the daughter of Rey's old friend Surma. This then gets practically lampshaded shortly later: Annie tries to find Rey again, but has no idea where he is. Then she finds a train, clearly labeled "Secret Train To Large Animal Holding Cells (Very Hush Hush, You Know.)" which naturally takes her straight to Reynardine.
    Headmaster Llanwellyn: Tell me, do you find strange things seem to happen around you?
    Antimony: ... On occasion.
  • Cale lampshades the concept in this Looking for Group comic.
  • Trying Human relies heavily on this for parts of its story. The main character, Rose Marie, has been being abducted by aliens, and her boyfriend, Roger, ends up working for Majestic 12, a Men in Black organization that interacts with those same aliens. There's also the matter of Phillis, a woman from the 1950s who was shot and killed after interacting with the aliens' leader and how she ties in, which at the moment is unclear but implied to be significant.
  • Bob and George just happened to be misplaced here
  • In Nip and Tuck, lampshaded here for the Show Within The Show.
  • In Doodze, the monster is stopped by one of their quick growing bamboo shoots in just the right place.
  • Nedroid's Harrison Story Arc is full of this: Harrison runs into what look like Beartato and Reginald underground. Surprised to see them, "Beartato" replies he is actually an Identical Stranger called Buttfranklin. Harrison asks "Reginald" his name...and he turns out to be the actual Reginald, who had fallen down a hole shortly before.
  • Think of the odds of two people happening to travel via ship from America to England at the same time. Now what are the odds of three unrelated parties who have never met being on that ship and are all tied to the same plot? Fortunately in the world of Sire fate is a malevolent force called "The Binding" and it will move the Earth to make these circumstances happen.
  • In Rhapsodies Dielle Hardin finds herself dragged cross country in this manner courtesy of a Celestial Bureaucracy (In their defense, Contrived Coincidence is all they are budgeted for..)
  • In Plume, Hunter just so happens to be asking for Vesper on the very same street Corrick and Dom are mounting their horses, letting Corrick know she's still out there.
  • Girl Genius: Klaus Wulfenbach theorizes that Agatha's presence on his airship was part of some grand scheme for her to control Gil Wulfenbach, using the slaver wasp he had already been infected with. Gil points out that she didn't plan to be on the ship, and they were the ones who brought her—unconscious, no less. Klaus claims that it's too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence. However, he is in fact lying because he has been infected and is being forced to, and behind him his genius second in command can be seen working through the possibilities and clearly coming to the conclusion that there is no way that what Klaus is saying is right.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The two events that cause the second half of Chapter 15 to be a Wham Episode have surprisingly good timing to each other. The first event is that the tank breaks down for good one morning, meaning that the crew will have to reach the dock where a boat is supposed to pick them up on foot. The second is that Tuuri starts developing symptoms of the Rash, leading her to killing herself rather that being killed by the disease, on the evening of the same day that was being used to prepare for the trek. The Rash has an incubation period ranging from a few days, which had passed since her potential infection at this point, to two weeks. Tuuri is both the crew's driver and mechanic, which means that symptoms showing earlier would have most likely affected her work in keeping the tank going. One of the roles the tank was fulfilling was acting a reverse quarantine for Reynir, the only other member of the crew who can catch the Rash, while the crew was waiting to see if Tuuri was having the asymptomatic incubation phase or was simply not infected. This means Tuuri's symptoms showing up any time later would have led to having to somehow maintain the quarantine conditions while on foot.
  • Played for laughs in this Questionable Content. Faye and Bubbles have just finished setting up their new repair shop when a robot bursts in looking for repairs.
    Faye: You came to the right place. Somehow.
    Robot: This is the fifteenth establishment I've burst into.

    Web Original 
  • Super Mario Bros. Z had one in the second episode when Mario, at the mercy of Bowser and his metal powers, is saved by the arrival on Sonic and Shadow's capsule, which crash-lands on Bowser's head and shatters his metal coating, giving Mario a chance to fight back.
  • Simon Wood in Survival of the Fittest version three managing to navigate his way across an island and find his girlfriend just in time to rescue her from an attacker. To some extent, this also occurs when groups of friends manage to meet up with one another very quickly: the Deserted Islands upon which the games take place are rather large, and the odds of meeting your friends that fast are rather slim, to say the least.
  • In a Running Gag in Final Fantasy Trilogy, Sabin, Setzer and Terra survive their falls off Narshe's cliffs by landing on Relm, Relm's corpse and Strago respectively.
  • In "The Review Must Go On", Doug is completely alone and vulnerable to The Nostalgia Critic breaking him into bringing him back, while at the exact same time his co-writer and brother Rob is in NYC and so unavailable to talk to.
  • In the RWBY episode A Minor Hiccup, the protagonist drops her phone, and Penny just happens to be the person, in a crowd of dozens, who picks it up, thus drawing the two into a plot-important conversation even though Penny had been ordered not to talk to her.
    • The existence of Team RWBY has shades of this. The team is made up of the nieces of a spy in a Benevolent Conspiracy, one being the descendant of legendary Hunters and the other the daughter of the current Spring Maiden, the heiress of the world's biggest Dust mining corporation, and a former terrorist whose agenda is dead set against the aforementioned heiress? And all of whom align neatly with their spiritual predecessor to whom the two nieces have a blood relation with? They could've won the lottery with that luck!
  • In Courier's Mind: Rise of New Vegas, The Courier notices that both sides of the "NO VACANCY" sign in Novac is damaged in such a way that they say "NO VAC." The Courier himself thinks that whoever found the place probably intentionally damaged one side of the sign in such a way for the sake of publicity.

    Western Animation 
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • It's a good thing the gang never stopped being scared of the fake ghosts, because there's probably not a single episode in which a chase scene didn't by pure blind luck lead them to a clue they wouldn't have seen otherwise.
    • It was also good that they never bought a new van/fixed the old one, since it would stop breaking down in front of creepy old haunted buildings. Also strange, since they clearly can afford to have it shipped overseas on some of their international mysteries.
    • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated subverts: every coincidence is the Evil Entity using Mystery Inc. to free itself from its crystal sarcophagus. After the universe is reset and they create the timeline in which the original show takes place, Mystery Inc. set out to solve old mysteries like Space Kook and Miner 49er again, scattered all over the country, implying some influence of the Evil Entity's machinations still remains as a kind of Ontological Inertia. It's also subverted by their erstwhile patron, Mr. E, who does things like take the engine out of the Mystery Machine to strand them in Gatorsburg, just because he wants them to investigate.
    • 9 times out of 10 whenever the Mystery gang manages to catch the ghost, it's after they've already found enough evidence to know who the ghost is, the trap they attempt to use to catch the ghost has failed spectacularly, and the resulting chase scene has in numerous extremely unlikely occurrences that somehow don't occur in any of the chase scenes prior that end with the gang catching the ghost entirely by accident.
  • Futurama:
    • There was a Lampshade Hanging on one episode, where Bender, after having spent quite some time hurtling through space at the speed of light and encountering all sorts of circumstances along the way, gets thrown back to his worried friends, Leela and Fry, while they just happened to have started giving up on ever actually finding him. When he lands in front of them with a parachute to somehow slow his descent, Leela in incredible disbelief states, "This is, by a wide margin, the least likely thing that has ever happened." Justified because the literal God, or a close facsimile, was involved. The real coincidence there is when Fry smacks the radio telescope equipment in frustration, sending it spinning around in a random direction. As he does so, he laments that he just wants Bender back, within range of the microphone. The equipment just happens to end up pointing in the exact right spot for his message to reach God, allowing him to send Bender in the right direction to get home. They joke about it on the commentary, when one of the writers says "And that's how we wrote our way out of that one".
    • In the first Xmas special: Leela and Fry are saved from Santa's TOW missile when the parrot Fry bought earlier flies into the way.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Azula's conquest of Ba Sing Se has elements of this. It's an amazing coincidence that everyone who knows who she is just so happens to be conveniently absent the moment she sets foot in Ba Sing Se. Sokka especially could have waited a mere hour before leaving to greet the Kyoshi Warriors when they arrived, which would have derailed everything.
    • Katara was pretty lucky Pakku was sweet on her Gran-Gran and he just happened to see the necklace.
    • Much more appropriately, in the final battle, Fire Lord Ozai uses a fire blast to push Aang out of the rock he was used to protect himself. It works, but it also pushes Aang directly into a rock spire, with a single rock conveniently jutting into the small of Aang's back, that both unblock's Aang's season-long blocked chakra and pushes him directly into the Avatar State, which he then proceeds to use to win the fight.
    • Commander Zhao received word of a promotion to Admiral in the middle of asking for help, allowing him to change his request for the special troops he needed into an order. This was mocked by turning it into a Gambit Roulette in Avatar: The Abridged Series.
    • Heck the series starts with one: The Avatar who had been frozen in an iceberg wakes up in the Southern Water Tribe after hundred years the very same day Prince Zuko was looking for him there.
  • Captain Flamingo uses this a lot in the workings of the eponymous character's Bird Brain — his "super power" to misinterpret his sidekick's suggestions in such a way that his actions end up solving everything. One of the most extreme examples is Lampshaded and handwaved by Lizbeth (the aforementioned sidekick) and the Captain. "Isn't it awfully convenient that the book you checked out just happened to be on the exact subject you needed to return it?" "My Bird Brain works in mysterious ways. I don't question it, and neither should you. *Aside Glance* And neither should anyone else."
  • One episode of WordGirl was entirely built around lampshading this trope, starting from normal usage and becoming territory by the end of the episode.
  • Kim Possible:
    • Contrived Coincidences happen frequently in the series, usually neatly lampshaded, but the episode "Rewriting History" is the most blatant and over the top example: Kim and Ron discover that Ron's great-grandfather Jon Stoppable was a police constable with the same kind of relationship to Mr. Barkin's ancestor, the chief of police. Most of Jon's success in police work is down to ace reporter Miriam "Mim" Possible, Kim's great-grandmother. Professor Dementor's ancestor is demonstrating his device at the World's Fair, and is just like his modern equivalent. Chasing this up, Wade discovers that his ten-year-old ancestor was there too. Ron finds this pile-up of coincidences unlikely, and when Drakken's great-grandfather enters the picture (with a sidekick resembling Shego), Ron declares the whole thing ludicrous. Having just discovered all this, it turns out that after a hundred years, the device is due to go off that day. With sixty seconds left on the clock and no idea how to disable it, Drakken and Shego burst in to steal it. Their craft takes the device far enough to go off harmlessly. Ron notes that the villains arriving in the nick of time is so unlikely, it's like a dream - and it was (though according to Word of God all the persons were real).
    • The episode ended with a statue of Ron's ancestor in Rome, who was the enemy of Dr. Drakken's ancestor. His victories may really be due to a mysterious masked Amazon who resembles Kim...
  • The Simpsons :
    • The entire episode "Trilogy of Error". Everything that happens to each character is a direct result of something (usually stupid) that another character has done, always with no idea that their actions are influencing the rest of the family. Eventually everyone's paths have crossed and re-crossed until, at the end of the episode, everyone's in the same situation.
    • In "Don't Fear the Roofer", Homer befriends a man named Ray Magini and ends up in therapy because his friends and family are convinced Ray is an imaginary friend (note the Significant Anagram) Homer made because he was feeling unappreciated. In the end it turns out Ray is real, and everyone just happened to miss seeing him for one reason or another. Turns into outright parody with Bart, who saw Homer talking to thin air because there was some kind of odd spacial phenomenon (requiring explanation by Stephen Hawking) that prevented him from seeing Ray.
  • Parodied in Road Rovers where the character of Hunter had the catchphrase "yet another unexpected twist", even if the twist is completely expected or just a wild coincidence.
  • Phineas and Ferb is a show that runs on this type of thing:
    • In every episode, the eponymous young boys build a spectacular creation and Heinz Doofenshmirtz builds an invention of evil. Whenever Doofenshmirtz loses control of his invention, no matter how far away it is, it will inevitably destroy, directly or indirectly, any evidence of what Phineas and Ferb built that day before their mother can see it (much to the bafflement of their sister Candace). Less often, Phineas and Ferb will do something that seems inconsequential at the time but actually helps their pet platypus Perry (who's a secret agent) defeat Doofenshmirtz later on. One or the other (or both) happens Once per Episode. Perry the Platypus is the only one who's aware how much the characters affect each other's lives on a daily basis.
    • In addition, the two subplots are always near each other. Phineas and Ferb are on a trip to see Mr. Rushmore? Doofenshmirtz's base is in Mt. Rushmore! Phineas and Ferb are visiting their grandparents in England? Doofenshmirtz is attending an evil convention in England! Phineas and Ferb are in space... (That one got semi-lampshaded.)
    • When they build a super computer it takes advantage of the coincidences to let them do the nicest thing possible for their mother, fixing her hair after a horrible hair day. The computer even gets a Literal Genie moment but it is Made of Explodium, all things it anticipated.
    • Then there are the even less likely moments where Perry's two dual lives meet, such as when Dr. Doofenshmirtz takes his girlfriend to the restaurant Phineas and Ferb built in their backyard, or when Candace delivered girl scout cookies to Doof's apartment, while Perry was still there. Jeremy once went to Doof's home to teach him how to play the guitar. Doof once dated Linda. He once went to a garage sale at the Flynn-Fletcher household. (It's not known if he knows Linda lives there.) It goes to the point where every character has interacted with the doctor at some point, bar Phineas and Ferb themselves, and they have gotten close at points.
    • Averted in Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, where the boys land in Doof's building, destroy the machine (an "Other-Dimension-Inator"), and then cheerfully help him fix it. And then Perry busts in, freezes when he sees them, and attempts to stop the doctor in 'mindless pet mode'. He fails. They travel to another dimension, and then gets outed as a secret agent, but then Laser-Guided Amnesia (literally, they get zapped with a laser that erases memories) allows the characters to press the Reset Button and forget all about it.
    • The same Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension has both Perry and Candace invoke the coincidence to save the day. Perry knows the boys can build incredible things, and has been saving all of their disappeared inventions for use by the boys, along with their friends and allies, to defeat Alternate-Doof's invasion. When it's still not going well, Candace forces their mom out to see what's happening, reasoning the "Mysterious Force" preventing her from busting her brothers, now that they are involved due to their saved inventions, will clean up the entire city. She was right.
    • In "A Real Boy", Candace finally gets Mom to see Phineas and Ferb in the middle of their big project for the day. As luck would have it, Doofenshmirtz accidentally hits himself with his "Forget-about-it-inator" (it makes you forget about whatever you're thinking about at that moment), then pulls a "What Does This Button Do??" and erases Linda witnessing the project...several times in a row, no less.
    • In the episode "Don't Even Blink", the characters decide to watch the boys' latest invention to see where it goes. On the day where Doofenshmirtz has built an invisibility ray. Every time Linda comes to look it goes invisible, and it turns visible again when she leaves... and when Candace realises you can still feel it, her attempt to cover it in paint is thwarted by Doof deciding to screw the whole thing, and convert the machine to a disintegrator ray.
    • Many of the patches that the Fireside Girls earn are conveniently linked to Phineas and Ferb's project of the day, but this is justified. They have Merit Badges for Everything, and the local troop leader has such a crush on Phineas that She's earned the "help your neighbor" patch alone dozens of times just to spend more time with him.
    • This unfortunately doesn't apply when it comes to Candace's own projects. In situations where the boys are protected by random chance, Candace is not and will be caught every time.
  • Lampshaded at least once in Pinky and the Brain. It was in "Brain's Bogie" where Brain needed to steal a golf club from a famous golfer to take over the world and Pinky points out that he's doing a celebrity golf tournament soon.
    Brain: There's only one word to describe such an amazing stroke of luck.
    Pinky: Contrived?
    Brain: Exactly.
    Pinky: I got one right!
  • Jonny Quest episode "Mystery of the Lizard Men". Out of all of the wrecked ships in the Sargasso Sea, the one that Jonny wants to explore is the one the villain is using as his base.
  • There was an episode of G.I. Joe in the eighties in which the Joes repeatedly received menacing telephone calls throughout the episode warning them that "the viper is coming," which they naturally assumed referred to their archenemy Cobra. They were able to interpret apparent clues in the calls to upcoming Cobra attacks, and so anticipate and thwart the attacks, and so throughout the episode enjoyed great success against Cobra, but the calls keep coming. Then, at the end of the episode, an old man shows up with cleaning equipment and announces that he is "the viper," and that he was there "to vipe the vindows." Cue laughter. So there just happened to be critical clues to upcoming Cobra attacks in a series of unrelated phone calls. Sure, why not?
  • Lampshaded with a heavy dose of Meta Humor in the Family Guy episode "I Never Met the Dead Man": Peter has given up TV and Lois tries to entice him back by talking about the broadly-drawn characters, cliché storylines, and convenient coincidences that bring the plot around just in time. Immediately after she says this, William Shatner enters the house, his car having broken down outside on his way to give a speech on how TV keeps families together. (And yes, Shatner's appearance does resolve the plot and get things back to status quo.)
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "How Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth". The Enterprise encounters an alien who was the basis for the Mayan/Aztec deity Kukulkan. He's coming to Earth to wipe out the human race because he's angry that humanity hasn't contacted him. One of the officers on duty on the bridge is Ensign Walking Bear, who just happens to be an expert on ancient Earth cultures and recognizes the shape of Kukulkan's ship. Walking Bear says the name "Kukulkan", which not only prevents Kukulkan from destroying the Enterprise but convinces him to allow several Enterprise crew members to try to solve a puzzle. If they solve the puzzle, Kukulkan will give up his plan to destroy humanity. Ensign Walking Bear didn't appear in any previous or subsequent animated episodes, just this one. What are the odds?
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The episode "The Best Night Ever" has everything go horribly wrong at the Galloping Gala in an unlikely way. True, Princess Celestia claimed the Gala was always horrible, but most egregious are the forest animals who are scared of Fluttershy. The guests at the Gala can't control what the animals think, and it seems unlikely there would just happen to be animals who are scared of Fluttershy at a place where everything else is horrible. Then again, maybe the guests at the Gala can control what the Animals think — because what they think is: "All Gala guests are horrible." A time-tested truism.
    • In "Castle Mane-ia" the ponies (either alone or in pairs) all decide to visit the old castle for different reasons at the same time. Becomes a mass of coincidences once all the ponies are in the castle, for example Rarity reaching through a hole to accidentally grab Rainbow Dash.
    • Each of the key episodes in Season 4 hinges on a series of coincidences that have a mane character initially faltering, but ultimately living up to the Element of Harmony she represents and helping somepony else learn a related lesson. Any break in the chain would result in either a very short story or no lesson, and the mane mare wouldn't receive her Plot Coupon. In most of these episodes, the first coincidence seems to be blind luck, such as a dislodged leaf or a poorly timed cheer. By the season finale Twilight has become Genre Savvy enough that her final desperate plan against the villain actually relies on this happening again to get the last Plot Coupon after her apparent defeat.
  • In Street Sharks, Melvin just happens to stay at the same hotel that the Sharks' father is hiding in, leading to him accidentally eating mutagen popcorn and turning into a shark hybrid himself.
  • Generator Rex: in the episode "Breach", Rex is trapped in Breach's crazytown private dimension breaking things so that Breach ejects them into random locations in normal space, while Six and Bobo are in reality being hard-pressed by giant mutant scorpions. By some freakish stroke of luck Breach drops the ice-cream trucks Rex had just finished smashing directly on top of the scorpions.
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Clock King", the opening of Gotham Central Station is exactly seven years after the Clock King's Start of Darkness, in a desolated subway.
  • Retroactively, in the pilot of Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis, a random teenager that accidently found Bruce's secret cave which later allowed him to become the new Batman happens to be Bruce Wayne's biological son, a scenario contrived by Amanda Waller so that there will be a successor to Batman.
  • Ben 10: Omniverse:
    • In For A Few Brains More, Kevin and Gwen just happen to be orbiting around Earth for an astronimy assignment right when Ben, Max and Rook are calling for help against Albedo.
    • In Catfight, Ben accidentally turns into Rath, a humanoid tiger, against the one villain whose sole power is to control felines, even though at this point Ben has around sixty aliens available.
    • In Bengeance is Mine, a human named Bill Gacks just happens to closely resemble Vilgax and a hologram of Vilgax just happens to keep showing up whenever Bill Gacks is out of sight.
    • In Cough It Up, Jimmy Jones and Spanner are never around at the same time, making Ben suspect they're the same person. In Fight at the Museum, it's revealed they are different people.
  • Bob's Burgers - in the first episode, Hugo the health inspector, hearing rumors (started by Louise) that Bob’s restaurant is serving human flesh from the mortuary next door, slaps a big violation poster in the window – mostly out of spite because he had been engaged to Linda, who dumped him for Bob. Linda has him over to try talking him out of the action and is getting through to him; meanwhile, next door at the mortuary, Gene is playing with electrical controls and accidentally sends a custom coffin for a candy manufacturer, made to look like a gift box, up to street level where it rolls to the restaurant door. Linda, who has been expecting Bob to spring an anniversary surprise on her, thinks this is it and pulls it inside, opens the lid, and reveals the corpse, which horrifies Hugo.
  • Johnny Bravo:
    • Played for Laughs in the episode "The Day the Earth Didn't Move Around Very Much". A power outage causes Johnny's alarm clock to freeze, and upon waking up, he assumes that time has stopped for everyone in the world but him. As luck would have it, everyone he encounters that day just so happens to have some reason to stand perfectly still whenever Johnny gets close. It starts out relatively possible—little Suzy, for example, is trying to balance an egg on her nose and doesn't want to jostle it—but it quickly moves into ludicrous territory, such as an entire traffic jam deciding to stop honking their horns (because it doesn't do anything) or a group of chefs playing charades and requiring a moment of "perfect, unmoving stillness" to figure out a solution.
    • The episode "Karma Krisis" also plays this for a joke. After Johnny tears up a chain letter, horrible things start happening to him, including having an entire circus trample him multiple times, getting banned from the local gym, or being assaulted by a busload of women who know his reputation. After some helpful advice from Dionne Warwick (who's playing herself), Johnny realizes that the bad luck was all a combination of coincidence and lacking faith in himself.
  • Wat's Pig: Wat just happens to open the door to his brother's room at exactly the right time to knock him out the window. It was an accident, but his (unknown) brother didn’t know this so he immediately started to beat him up after going back.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: In "Meet The Beat-Alls", this is how the titular villainous super-team was formed. Mojo Jojo, HIM, Fuzzy Lumpkins and Princess Morbucks each went to the Powerpuff Girls' house to kill them, and by sheer luck they all decided to do so on the same night.
  • The fifth season of Samurai Jack is full of these:
    • The mysterious horseman just happens to appear to Jack every time he is feeling depressed.
    • Jack's hallucinations just happen to appear every time Jack is facing a dilemma.
    • In the aftermath of Jack's battle against the Daughters of Aku in "Episode XCV", Ashi inexplicably survived the fall off the abyss along with Jack as opposed to the other six Daughters being confirmed dead. At that same moment, a giant worm-like creature just happens to emerge from underneath the snowy ground where Jack and Ashi were standing and swallowed them both whole.
    • In "Episode XCVI", while Jack was showing Ashi how much Aku is evil, the two just happened to be nearby as a blue-furred alien warned them of the Dominator and how he is imprisoning and brainwashing the alien's children in his factory, which also happens to be close to them.
    • In "Episode XCVII", while Ashi is on her way to find Jack before he commits Seppuku, she just happened to run into many of Jack's allies whom he had helped in previous episodes. And out of nowhere, a mysterious bunny-like creature appeared in the dark and directed Ashi to the cemetery where the seppuku ritual is. And even though it took the entire episode for Ashi to find Jack, she just happened to have shown up on time to stop him. Had Ashi been distracted meeting more of Jack's allies, she possibly might have been too late to save Jack from suicide and the series would have ended just like this.
    • It's unknown how Aku and Scaramouche found Jack and Ashi in The Guardian's lair in "Episode C".
    • But the biggest coincidence of all is that Scaramouche knew from the first episode of the season that Jack lost his sword. Yet, it took him the entire season to tell Aku just after Jack got his sword back. You can tell what happened afterwards.
  • Superman: The Animated Series: In the episode "Knight Time", Superman investigates Batman's disappearance. It turns out that the kidnapper—Brainiac—needed access to a WayneTech facility, so he snatched Bruce Wayne, not realizing that it would catch the attention of the villain's arch-nemesis: Superman.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In the episode "One Krab's Trash", Mr. Krabs sells SpongeBob a novelty soda-drinking hat, only to discover immediately afterward that the hat is worth millions. To get it back, the greedy Krabs pretends to be the restless ghost of "Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen"—a name he makes up on the spot—and tells SpongeBob that the cap must be restored to his grave. Somehow, though, there is a fish named Smitty Werbenjaegarmanjensen in the local cemetery, and that hat did once belong to him.
    • In "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost," Squidward makes a wax sculpture of himself, then goes off to take a shower. SpongeBob and Patrick inadvertently break the statue and later cause it to melt, and are sure that they've killed Squidward...who then emerges from the bathroom wearing a white robe and facial powder that makes him look like a pale ghost. Had he not stepped out at that precise moment, the episode would have been over very quickly.
  • The "haunting" episodes of Hey Arnold! often relied on this trope, although they usually ended by showing evidence that the supposedly fake events were true.
    • In "The Headless Cabbie," Arnold tells a scary story about the titular horse-drawn buggy driver who was out driving in the park one cold night when a woman asked for a ride to help look for her lost Scottish terrier, gifting him with a scarf as thanks. As they traveled, they encountered a man with a golden hook for an arm and heard the dog barking; the woman forced the cabbie to go faster and faster, and the scarf caught on a low-hanging branch, which decapitated him and sent her into insane laughter. Later, when the kids travel through the park to get ice cream, bizarre coincidences pop up that make them think they're in the story. Hoofbeats are heard on the's just Eugene, practicing his clog dancing. A man with a golden hook-arm's a guy selling watches. The headless cabbie and laughing woman themselves suddenly arrive...but it's actually Ernie, who's taken to driving the carriage for some extra money and is hiding his head in his coat to keep warm, and Mr. Hyunh, who's riding in the cab and laughing insanely...well, for absolutely no reason ("WHO WANTS TO HEAR MY CREEPY LAUGH?").
    • In "Wheezin' Ed," Gerald shares the legend of the title character, a gangster who supposedly hid his fortune in a cave on Elk Island. Meanwhile, two small-time crooks have taken to counterfeiting pennies and are using that very cave as a hideout for their scheme. Naturally, the kids go exploring and find the hoard.
    • In "Haunted Train," Grandpa relates the tale of a mad engineer and the ghostly train he still drives, detailing the process that draws in lost souls: an empty train pulls into a station and flashes a white light that hypnotizes people into boarding. They then go through the countryside, smelling brimstone and hearing devilish sounds, only to end up in Hell itself. Helga doesn't buy it, and challenges Arnold and Gerald to prove that the tale is true. All three go to the train station that night...and sure enough, an empty train appears that draws them on with a bright light. Later, the smell of brimstone rises, horrific screeching is heard, and the train ends up in a fiery pit guarded by a giant shadowy figure...who promptly reveals himself as a steelworker. It turns out that the "haunted" train is actually a little-used line for night-shift employees at the local mill; the "brimstone" was the smell of sulfur from the chemicals, and the "screeching" was just the worker practicing his accordion. However at the end, the ghost train is revealed to be real. This makes it an even bigger coincidence that they didn't run into the real one.
  • So many in Rugrats. The babies often misinterpret things or believe something to be different from the reality (sometimes because Angelica makes it up to scare them), only for something to happen to support their theories. Sometimes, the lies Angelica tells them eventually appear to affect her as well (in "Family Reunion", when she mistakenly thinks her story about families trading kids at a family reunion is true, she tells the kids "I thought I was making it up"). Additionally, the babies might accidentally cause a happy ending or expose some kind of secret or fraud. In one episode, they wander into the basement and accidentally get Stu's invention to work properly. In "The Bank Trick", while wandering the bank for M&Ms, they unintentionally set off a burglary alarm, and when the police show up, it turns out that the "bank examiners" are actually crooks the police had been after for years.
  • This is part of Freakazoid!'s origin story; a defect in a newly released computer chip would draw the user into the internet if they typed a specific set of keysnote  followed by delete while connected to the internet. Our hero installs said chip, leaves his computer connected to the internet unattended for a second, his cat happens to walk over the keyboard and type out that exact sequence of keys, then his reaction to the mess on screen is to try and delete it. Thus the Freakazoid is born.