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Conveniently Timed Distraction

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Shepard: How did you know I was coming at all?
Thane: I didn't. Not until you marched in the front door and started shooting. Nassana had become paranoid. You saw the strength of her guard force. She believed one of her sisters would kill her. You were a valuable distraction.

Conveniently Timed Distraction is a type of distraction that comes at an unexpected moment that someone can take advantage of. This type of distraction was not intended to be distraction, but it ends up getting somebody's attention regardless of its nature. These types of distractions can be beneficial or harmful depending on the situation or the point of view.

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Let's say that Big Bad is winning against The Hero. The hero is exhausted, he's badly beaten, and he used his best attacks on the Big Bad but he just won't go down. Just before the Big Bad can finish off the hero, a big explosion occurs from a distance that shakes the ground and knocks the Big Bad over. It turns out that the hero's friends just blew up the Big Bad's evil factory. While the Big Bad turns to see where the explosion came from, the hero can use this moment to take advantage of the Big Bad being distracted. The hero could fight back or run away, and by the time the Big Bad remembers the hero, it's too late to stop him.

Most often exploited by a Combat Pragmatist but not necessarily. An Ignored Enemy might take advantage of this. It can be the result of Unwanted Assistance if someone tries to help but ends up distracting the person they're trying to help.

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The distraction doesn't have to be for fighting, it can used to escape, steal something, tamper with something, or anything else.

Related to Contrived Coincidence. May overlap with Holding the Floor if a character stalls for time and hopes for an opportunity. Compare Convenient Decoy Cat, Critical Hesitation Blunder, and Deus ex Scuse Me.


Examples

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     Anime and Manga  

  • In anime version of Assassination Classroom, episode 7, when a gang of high school delinquents corner Nagisa and his group in a street alley, Karma managed to fight off two of them but gets distracted when Kaede and Kanzaki are grabbed by the other members leading to the gang leader knocking Karma out.
  • One Piece
    • During the Marineford Arc, when Admiral Akainu delivers a devastating blow to Whitebeard, Marco sees this and rushes towards his captain. Kizaru uses this moment to shoot Marco from behind with two lasers and Vice Admiral Onigumo seizes him and places seastone handcuffs on him which disables his devil fruit power. Kizaru then takes the opportunity to attack Marco again. This gets the attention of Jozu who is fighting Admiral Aokiji. While Jozu is distracted, Aokiji freezes Jozu's entire body leaving him frozen for the entire war.
    • A couple happened during the Dressrosa arc:
      • When Thunder Soldier and some of the Tontattas are going to kill Doflamingo in the palace, they run into Lao G who hinders their progress. Before Lao G can finish off Thunder Soldier, the palace starts shaking due to Pica's ability and he's confronting Luffy's group at the moment. With Lao G distracted, three of the Tontattas pin down Lao G and allow Thunder Soldier and two of the Tontattas to escape.
      • When Zoro makes fun of Pica's laugh during their fight, Pica, who is controlling the plateau, gets so mad that he raises a bunch of spikes from the ground that interrupts the fights between the Colosseum combatants and the Donquixote executives. Dellinger stops his fight with Ideo to scold Pica but Ideo uses this moment to land a blow on him.
  • Pokémon
    • In Challenge of the Samurai!, when Ash is trying to catch a Weedle, Samurai tries to challenge Ash to a battle. While Ash is talking with Samurai, the Weedle escapes.
    • At the beginning of Dawn of a New Era!, when Dawn makes a second attempt to catch a Buneary, the Pokeball that she plans to use slips out of her hand and hits Ash in the face leading him to angrily scold Dawn which results in an argument between the two. While they argue, the Buneary slip away which Piplup notices and alerts everyone that it escaped.
    • In Chim-Charred!, when Paul and Electabuzz are trying to catch a wild Drapion, they both get distracted when Ash's Gligar falls from the sky after being blown by a gust of wind in front of Paul and the Drapion escapes when it sees Paul and Electabuzz distracted.
  • In Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth, chapter 16 note  and/or episode 38 note , when Rock Lee and Tenten (and Guy and Neji in the anime) needs to escape before the Akatsuki realizes they're spies, Lee accidentally knocks into Deidara causing him to drop his ready-to-explode bomb near Sasori. This eventually leads to the other members of the Akatsuki to accidentally attack each other which results into a fight among them, thus allowing the heroes the opportunity to escape.
  • Weather Report and Enrico Pucci's duel in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean comes to an end when Jolyne crashes a car nearby, distracting Weather from delivering the final blow and allowing Pucci to move in for the kill.

     Comics 

  • In Star Wars: Legacy, Wolf Sazen and Darth Azard are duelling one another when Azard suddenly feels the power of his master, Darth Krayt, reverberating through the Force. He stops fighting Sazen and calls out to Krayt, only for Sazen to cut him down.
    Wolf Sazen: Never let yourself be distracted during battle, Azard. (slash) It’s fatal.

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     Fan Works 

  • In Prodigal Son, Fishlegs convinces Astrid to use a dragon raid to gain access to Hiccup's room.

     Film - Live-Action  

  • In Blood Diamond, poor miner Solomon has found a diamond and is trying to steal it before his bosses find out. He gets his first chance when a water pipe burst and he's able to sneak away to hide the diamond. Then when another man catches him burying it, a rebel shootout occurs and Solomon is able to flee in the chaos.
  • In Cellular, when Ethan and Tanner take Ryan someplace else in waterfront to kill him, Ryan's friend, Chad, comes along to see what's going on giving Ryan the distraction he needs to escape by jumping in the water.
  • In Day of the Dead (1985), John takes advantage of this twice. After Rhodes and his soldiers locks Sarah and Bill in the zombie corral and forces John, the only helicopter pilot, to fly him and his men away, Sarah and Bill escapes through the corral. While the soldiers watch Sarah and Bill escape, John knocks out Torrez, who was holding him at gunpoint, but is subdued by Steele. When they hear Miguel using the elevator from above and Rhodes sends his men to investigate it, while Rhodes is trying to wake up Torrez, John uses this moment to tackle Rhodes, knocks him out, steals his guns, and then leaves to go rescue Sarah and Bill.
  • In the reboot of The Pink Panther (2006), while chasing the assassin who tried to kill Xania, Clouseau and Ponton decides to split up to cut off the assassin. When Ponton catches up to the assassin and holds the assassin at gunpoint, Clouseau catches up and accidentally slams a door open in front of Ponton, knocking him down. While Clouseau checks to see if Ponton is okay, the assassin resumes running away.
  • In Star Trek (2009), Nero has caught Kirk by the throat and is seemingly going to choke him to death, until he's told the Jellyfish, the Vulcan ship they've been using as an explosives source, has been stolen by Spock. Immediately he runs off to deal with this, leaving Kirk to fight his minion instead.
  • In the 1991 Toy Soldiers, when Cali takes Billy hostage and holds him in Headmaster Gould's office while the Special Forces tries to enter before he can detonate the bomb, Dean Parker jumps through the window to kill Cali but Cali shoots him first, wounding him. With Cali distracted, the Special Forces enters the office and one of them shoots Cali in the back of his head, killing him.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, President Nixon comes out of the bunker and tells Magneto to spare them and kill only him but Magneto however disagrees and still plans to kill them. While Beast is dealing with a Sentinel, he uses his serum to temporary suppress his mutant powers which causes the Sentinel to turn its attention to Magneto who easily torn apart the Sentinel. With Magneto distracted, Mystique reveals herself to be disguised as Nixon and slightly grazes Magneto with a plastic gun and knocks him out.
  • Andy Dufresne's remarkable string of luck in The Shawshank Redemption includes a thunderstorm that serves to mask the loud banging noise he's making as he smashes a hole in the sewage pipe.

     Literature  

     Live Action TV  

  • Doctor Who:
    • In the season 2 classic "The Web Planet", Barbara and the Menopteras confronts the Animus to save the Doctor and Vicki and kill it, but the Animus overpowers them with its light and blocks their attack. The Animus then gets briefly distracted when Ian and the Vrestins arrives from under the ground and Barbara quickly uses this opportunity to kill the Animus.
    • In the season 11 classic "Invasion of the Dinosaurs", a private is ordered to get tea for the Doctor. While the private is out getting the tea, Mike Yates arrives and holds the Doctor, Sgt. Benton and the Brigadier at gunpoint. When the private, unaware of what's going on, returns with the tea, the hostage-taker gets distracted and Benton uses this opportunity to disarm him.
  • In Gotham:
    • "Penguin's Umbrella", when Harvey Bullock pulls a gun on James Gordon in the locker room for not killing Oswald Cobblepot, two police officers arrives to see what's going on. While Bullock is telling the officers to go away, Gordon uses this opportunity to disarm him.
    • In "The Anvil or the Hammer", after Gordon holds the Ogre at gunpoint while he is holding Barbara at knifepoint, Bullock, who was previously pushed down the stairs by the Ogre, comes from behind the Ogre and gets his attention giving Gordon the opportunity to shoot him in the head and save Barbara.
    • Twice in the season one finale, "All Happy Families Are Alike", after Fish kills Maroni, her gang and Maroni's men get into a fight which gives Gordon, Bullock, Falcone, and Oswald the opportunity to escape. And when Oswald quite unintentionally saves Gordon, Bullock and Falcone when he opens up with a light machine gun on Fish and her people, allowing them to escape.
  • In the season 5 premiere of The Walking Dead, when Rick's group gets captured by the residents of Terminus and are brought into slaughterhouse to be killed, just before the butchers could kill Glenn, they stop when they hear gunshots from outside, followed by a massive explosion that knocks everyone down. Rick uses this moment to cut the rope around his hands to free himself and the others to fight back.
  • Parodied in Firefly, Jane comments that they'll need a diversion to overpower the men holding the crew prisoner and at that moment River appears and launches into a "Reason You Suck" Speech to the lead captor in a British accent. However, it also distracts the crew who forget to take advantage of the situation.
    Jayne: [Whispering to the crew after River leaves] That there - exactly the kind of diversion we could have used.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • A staple trope. Often, this pits a top babyface of the organization against a monster heel. Examples:
    • At the 1989 SummerSlam, where WWF Intercontinental Champion Rick Rude was dominating Ultimate Warrior and had him on the brink of defeat. At the time, Rude was in the midst of a war of words with Roddy Piper (which would later explode into a main-event feud), and Piper came out to taunt Rude, ultimately distracting him (by flipping up his kilt to "moon" him). Warrior gained his second wind and went on to defeat Rude and recapture the Intercontinental championship.
    • During a particularly infamous match at the 1991 Royal Rumble, Sgt. Slaughter was twice on the verge of defeat in his match against the Ultimate Warrior (who by now was WWF World Champion), once early in the match and again later. Both times, Warrior's Arch-Enemy, Randy Savage, and Savage's manager, Sensational Sherri, came out to divert Warrior's attention away from Slaughter. The second time — along with some help from a blunt blow by Savage — a badly beaten Slaughter was able to defeat Warrior and win the championship.

     Video Games  

  • In Grand Theft Auto V, in the mission "Scouting the Port", when Trevor and Floyd tries to get inside the Los Santos Naval Port, they're stopped by Merrywater mercenaries who quickly surround them. Floyd tries to talk things out with the guards but they knock him down and assault him while Trevor uses this opportunity to sneak into a guardhouse and steals a briefcase containing a shipping manifest and then abandons Floyd with the guards who continues to beat him.
  • In Mass Effect 2, when trying to recruit Thane, Shepard and his/her squadmates are this to Thane during his mission to assassinate Nassana Dantius. After Shepard and company took out Nassana's guards and they confront Nassana in her penthouse, Thane uses this moment to drop from an airduct on the ceiling and then takes out her bodyguards and then her.
  • Several levels of Sniper Elite V2 have a mechanic where you can maintain stealth by firing at the same time there is a loud background noise such as an explosion. The sequels have it as well.
  • In the video game adaption of The Warriors, when Cowboy and Cochise needs to get inside the Jones Street Boys hangout to plant some stolen goods, a bunch of hobos start messing with their hangout. The leader of the gang takes a couple of his men to deal with them while Cowboy and Cochise sneak inside their hangout.
  • This is ultimately revealed to have happened in the backstory of Dragon Age: Inquisition. The Inquisitor unintentionally interrupted the Elder One's ritual, which was using Divine Justinia as a sacrifice. S/he created just enough of a distraction that the Divine was able to knock the focal orb out of the Elder One's hand, enabling the Inquisitor to grab it and resulting in their escape from the explosion and the acquisition of the Anchor on their left hand.

     Webcomics  

  • Carry On: While being chased towards a high cliff, a zebra porter throws a rock and manages to hit one of the warhog warriors bearing down on Kathy and Co. Which leads into an example of Disproportionate Retribution.
  • In TwoKinds, when Keiren apologizes to Trace for trying to arrest him, Keiren begins to almost recognizes him and questions who he is. Luckily, they hear an explosion at a distance and Keiren questions Trace later to investigate the explosion. The explosions came from Seraphina who Keith, Lynn, and Addy are dealing with. When Keith said they need something to distract her to get an opening, Keiren comes along and fires a arrow at her but the head of the arrow makes it to her due to her fire ability burning it and it hits her head. When Seraphina turns to see who hit him, Keith, Addy, and Lynn uses this opportunity to destroy her emblem.
  • Nebula: Jupiter's incredibly hammy monologue to Venus and Neptune inadvertently provides a distraction for his recently captured pet comet, allowing it to sneak away without him noticing.

     Western Animation  

  • In American Dad!, season 6 "There Will Be Bad Blood", Rusty, Stan's half-brother, finds Stan and his family in the desert and threatens to shoot Stan for still being on his land. But Rusty gets startled by a mangled helicopter pilot who went out to get help and shoots him instead, allowing Stan to topple him onto the pilot's corpse and the family escapes.
  • In Bob's Burgers, season 8 "The Hurt Soccer", Louise is playing on a losing soccer team with Bob filling in as the replacement coach and they competing against the Blue Dragons. When Louise is able to prevent the Blue Dragons from scoring the winning goal, the whole team, including their coach, gets into an argument with each other. During the argument, the goalie of the Blue Dragons leaves her post to try to stop the fighting, which gives Louise's team the opportunity to score their first goal.
  • In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Hero For Hire", Launchpad and Doofus escape from the Beagle Boys when one of the Beagles inadvertently lets a Jail Bake item fall. Launchpad takes advantage of the stunning effect to grab Doofus and bolt out of the house.
  • Family Guy:
    • In season 3 "Mr. Saturday Knight", During a jousting match between Peter and the Black Knight at a Renaissance Fair, the Black Knight gets distracted when he hears that his car is getting towed and Peter knocks him off his horse. Peter lampshades how lucky that distraction was and then it's revealed that Mort towed the Black Knight's car away to get revenge.
    • In season 12 "Herpe the Love Sore", When Peter tries to fight three tough guys who took his usual booth with a whip and then later a taser, Quagmire asks Peter if that's his stuff which distracts him leading to one of the tough guys to knock the weapons out of his hand. During the bar fight with one of the tough guys, Peter hits one of them with several things in the bar which leads to one of the bar patron to scold Peter for breaking his stuff he brought, giving the tough guy an opportunity to strike back.
  • In Gravity Falls, season 2 "Not What He Seems", when Stan needs to escape from the agents in the police station, a gravity anomaly occurs which Stan takes advantage of to help him escape.
  • In Kim Possible season 2 "Go Team Go", Shego has gotten hold of the villain's power-stealing staff and taken all her brothers' powers for herself. Ron offers to distract Shego but Kim points out they would need a huge distraction, cue Drakken (thinking that Shego is in trouble) showing up with a giant battle robot. This provides Kim the distraction she needs to break the device and return everyone's powers to their proper owners. At the end of the episode, Kim and Drakken notice that it was surprisingly easy to get the staff away from Shego, suggesting that she didn't really want to permanently steal her brothers' powers.
  • In Mike Tyson Mysteries:
    • In "Mite Tyson", when Pigeon wakes up in a cage at a cosmetic product testing facility for animals, he gets the attention of two of the workers after they unlock a cage containing a bear, which the bear opens its cage knocking out the two workers and freeing all of the other animals.
    • In "She's a Bayniac", when Marquess discovers that Mrs. Bayne is actually an alien, she goes to attack him. When other people witness what she really is, she attacks the other people and Marquess uses this opportunity to escape.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In Season 7 "Bart the Fink", Superintendant Chalmers is returning Agnes Skinner from a date when they are greeted by Seymour in an apron. Skinner wishes for a distraction to take attention away from his embarrassing situation, and at that moment Krusty flies by on his airplane, wailing loudly. "That'll do", says Seymour.
    • In Season 11 "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner", after the French chef is arrested for trying to kill Homer and he's handcuffed, Chief Wiggum suggests to Eddie and Lou that they go get some Belgium waffles but Lou would rather have frittatas. While Wiggum and Eddie laughs at Lou for his frittata obsession, the French chef uncuffs himself and escapes with none of them noticing that he's gone despite the fact that he was standing between Eddie and Lou.
    • In the Season 12 "Treehouse of Horror XI" story "Scary Tales Can Come True", when a witch tries to stuff Homer into her stove, she gets distracted when she hears a knock at her door allowing Homer to overpower her and shove her into the stove and lock her inside.
    • In Season 14 "Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington", when the Simpsons are trying to help Krusty the Clown pass his air traffic bill during a session in Congress, Lisa needs to attach the bill to a popular bill. When Lisa said she needs a distraction, Homer enters the session drunk after getting one of the congressmen drunk and gets beaten by security. Lisa uses this opportunity to attach Krusty's bill to the popular bill without getting noticed.
    • In Season 16 "She Used to Be My Girl", when Chloe Talbot, a news reporter and Marge's old friend from high school, tries to get Mayor Quimby to answer some questions about his multiple paternity suits filed against him, she gets distracted when she sees Marge again allowing Mayor Quimby to run back into his office to avoid answering her questions.
      • In the same episode, when Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather are picking on Kent Brockman by teasingly dangling his microphone out of his reach, they get distracted when Chloe greets them giving Kent the opportunity to take back his microphone.
    • In Season 16 "Future-Drama", Bart is working for the Kwik-E-Mart and he makes a delivery to Mr. Burns at his mansion. He is held at gunpoint by Snake's combination phaser/cellphone, but Bart saves Mr. Burns when Snake is distracted by a phone call on his phaser and Bart knocks him out with a large diamond.
  • In Sonic Boom, "Unlucky Knuckles", Sonic and the gang have Dr. Eggman cornered but when Knuckles, who's going through some bad luck, arrives, a metal debris comes falling from the sky and almost hits Sonic and the gang, allowing Dr. Eggman to escape.
  • In South Park, season 18 "Cock Magic", when the cops arrive to arrest everyone for partaking in illegal cock magic fighting, Randy appears on stage and performs his version of "cock" magic. While the cops are distracted, all the people who were involved in the cock magic fights escaped.
  • In Spongebob Squarepants season 2 "No Free Ride", when Spongebob catches Mrs. Puff, who's wearing a ski mask to conceal her face, stealing his boat, Spongebob tries to pepper spray her but accidentally sprays himself. Mrs. Puff takes advantage of this by kicking him out of the boat, although it doesn't stop him from chasing her.
  • In Steven Universe season 1 finale "Jail Break", while Amethyst and Pearl easily subdue and tie up Peridot, Garnet and Jasper are having their fight in another section of the ship where Garnet throws her opponent into the reactor core causing an explosion. The explosion knocks down Steven, Amethyst, and Pearl giving Peridot the opportunity to worm her way to an escape pod and launch herself to Earth.
  • In Time Squad, "Nutorious", when Tuddrussel tries to stop George Washington Carver's evil younger brother, Todd, with his new laser gun that has a lot of buttons on it with different features, he accidentally activates the smoke screen which blinds him, allowing Todd to try to grab Tuddrussel's laser.


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