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Deus ex Machina

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"Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating."
Emma Coats

A Deus ex Machina (pron: /diːəs ɛks mækɪnə/ for Britons, /deɪuːs ɛks mɑːkɪnə/ for Americans; /deus eks maːkʰinaː/ in the orginal Latin) is when some new event, character, ability, or object solves a seemingly unsolvable problem in a sudden, unexpected way. It's often used as the solution to what is called "writing yourself into a corner," where the problem is so extreme that nothing in the established setting suggests that there is a logical way for the characters to escape. If a bomb is about to go off, someone finds a convenient bomb-proof bunker in easy reach. If a protagonist falls off a cliff, a flying robot will suddenly appear to catch them. A Million to One Chance of something occurring is accomplished by a bystander who didn't know what they were doing. If The End of the World as We Know It is about to happen and nobody is able to stop it, it will be stopped thanks to some scientist's otherwise useless invention.

The term is Latin for "god out of the machine" and originates in ancient Greek theater.note  It referred to scenes in which a crane (machine) was used to lower actors or statues playing a god or gods (deus) onto the stage to set things right, often near the end of the play. In its most literal interpretation, this is when Divine Intervention is used to solve a problem that would have doomed the protagonist to absolute failure. The less literal take replaces "godly powers" with a nod that something with control over the narrative itself had to nudge things the right way to make a plot twist happen.

Note that there are a number of requirements for a plotline resolution to be a Deus ex Machina:

  1. Dei ex Machina are solutions to a problem. They are not unexpected developments that make things worse, nor sudden twists that only change the understanding of a story.
  2. Dei ex Machina are sudden or unexpected. This means that they should not be featured, referenced or set-up earlier in the story, but even if they were, they do not appear as a natural or a viable solution to the plotline they eventually "solve".
  3. Dei ex Machina are used to resolve a situation portrayed as unsolvable or hopeless. If the problem could be fixed with a bit of common sense or has a deceptively simple answer, the solution is not a Deus ex Machina no matter how unexpected it may seem.
  4. Dei ex Machina are external to the characters and their choices throughout the story. The solution comes from a character with small or non-existent influence on the plot until that point, random chance from nature, karma, fate or other Contrived Coincidence takes over.

Note Divine Intervention by itself is not always a Deus Ex Machina, while most examples can be half-literal (though unlikely to be entirely literal since gods rarely come out of machines) the crux remains on minimal set up if any at all. The impact on the story may just be leveling the playing field so the protagonist still has something to punch and doesn't have to include an angelic chorus.

The concept eventually came back into vogue during the early years of the film industry thanks to The Hays Code. Villains, and anyone else who didn't toe the moral line, were absolutely not allowed to get away with their crimes. But, more often than not Evil Is Cool. The solution was to let the bad guy be awesome for the duration of the movie, then drop a bridge on them in the last five minutes.

Remember, even the notorious Deus ex Machina can be pulled off. Sudden resolutions are perfectly capable of leading to satisfying conclusions - see the entire "Rule Of X" series of tropes: Rule of Cool, Rule of Cute, Rule of Empathy, Rule of Fun, Rule of Funny, Rule of Romantic, Rule of Scary, Rule of Sexy (for those ever-so-fun Deus Sex Machinas), Rule of Symbolism, and especially Rule of Drama. Some works may explore the premise of fate and choice as a Central Theme, possibly even with The Powers That Be as the Big Good, which makes the use of the trope fit meta-textually. Apparent Dei ex Machina also happen plenty in real life, given reality is far more complex and random than most fictionalized versions of it.

For more discussion about this Trope, see Only the Author Can Save Them Now.

Compare to the Reset Button, Non-Protagonist Resolver, Diabolus ex Machina, Coincidental Broadcast, You Didn't Ask, "Eureka!" Moment, and Suspiciously Specific Sermon. A Save Sat is sometimes a literal case of this trope.

Not to be confused with the tropes Deus Est Machina, Deus Exit Machina or Ave Machina. Nor the works Deus Ex Universe, Deus ex Machina (2008), Ex Machina or Ex Machina.

Please make sure an example meets the criteria before submitting. This is not a place to Complain About Plot Twists You Don't Like.

As this is an Ending Trope, beware of unmarked spoilers!

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    Comic Strips 
  • Retail: After Cooper contracts appendicitis, he gets a $20,000 bill for his treatment because he was uninsured at the time. He can't find any way to pay it off in full on his paltry wages and faces having to file for medical bankruptcy, which will hang over him the rest of his life...and then he wins a $20,000 prize in a fast food contest that wiped out his bill completely. Arguably, though, this was the point: Cooper may have a 'benevolent cartoonist' that can get him out of his medical debt, but this story arc was written before the Affordable Care Act was passed (and is intended as an argument for passing the act) and Norm Feuti's point was that for many other people in Cooper's situation, there is no Deus Ex Machina to save them.
  • In the final stretch of the Mars arc of Safe Havens, Fasttrack One is struck by space junk on final approach to Earth and, having already been damaged by a previous incident, starts to break apart. The entire crew makes it to the emergency escape shuttle. Everyone except Remora, who's stuck in mermaid form at the moment and her tank is too far away for anyone else to rescue her before the ship comes apart completely. In desperation, Samantha encourages her to try and tap into her Martian heritagenote  and change into something that can reach the shuttle in time. Remora manages to turn into an octopus and shoot through the ventilation system in the nick of time. Though this does have consequences for Remora: She finds she can't resume her mermaid or full fish forms. She can either become full human or human top/octopus bottom hybrid.

    Films — Animation 
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven: Moments away from being swallowed by a massive gator, Charlie lets out a high-pitched howl, convincing the gator to let him go because he thinks Charlie has a beautiful singing voice. Whew, that was close!
  • The Disney film The Black Cauldron. While the cauldron is the first artifact and/or character introduced, the way it qualifies is how it takes out The Horned King. While it was explained that a living person entering the cauldron of his or her own free will would seal its powers, it is not explained why it kills the guy and destroys the castle. It's implied that it's just that evil, but that's a rather flimsy explanation. It is also highly anticlimactic, because the King doesn't get to DO anything, despite being hinted as being a powerful sorcerer. Another is supplied by the witches, who revive the person that jumped into the cauldron. And why is it that the witches have this cauldron in the first place and the heroes practically fall on top of apparently the only society that knows where they are?
  • A literal case in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Big Bad spends the movie on a reign of terror that he proclaims to be for a higher cause, sings a Villain Song that's an inverted confession of sins, and assaults a cathedral. When he's swinging a sword and raving about how He shall cast down the wicked, the gargoyle under his feet roars at him and breaks off.
  • A semi-literal example is the Welcome to the Real World scene in The LEGO Movie, in which Emmett dives into the void to retrieve the Piece of Resistance and falls out of the model into the real world, where he sees a vision of the child playing LEGO... and his rather less fun father. He eventually manages to persuade the kid to give him the Piece and put him back into the story, with him zooming out of the portal like Neo at the end of The Matrix.
  • An example in Mulan II, when it is employed in the original style as Mushu climbs into an idol of the Unity Dragon and makes supposedly divine pronouncements (punctuated with a bit of fire-breathing) that neatly resolve what has become a very tangled situation.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
  • The Amnesia-inator in Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension. Even though it was established that O.W.C.A. has been duplicating Doofenshmirtz's Inators, that one was never seen before in a previous episode. Likely Played for Laughs; Doofenshmirtz's response of "I think I'd remember building something like that!" suggests that the original backfired and gave him amnesia, thus forgetting he built it. Ironically, the previous episode "I Was a Middle Aged Robot" actually introduced a memory eraser, owned by O.W.C.A. no less. Apparently, they forgot about this.
    • In the climax, Candace attempts to invoke this by bringing their mom out to the battlefield to see it. She believes that the "magical force" that always sweeps away her brothers' activities before she can show their mom will take care of things.
  • Pinocchio: When Pinocchio is locked in a cage by Stromboli in the Disney adaptation of the story, Jiminy Cricket finds himself unable to pick the lock, leaving Pinocchio as Stromboli's prisoner. Just then, the Blue Fairy appears and delivers some exposition to Pinocchio before freeing him. Different from most examples, it's acknowledged that the Blue Fairy is doing a deus ex machina here and she says that this is the one and only time that she'll use her powers to help him, and it really is — she doesn't appear again until the very end to reward Pinocchio by turning him into a real boy.note 
  • In Quest for Camelot, Ruber fused his arm with Excalibur. In the climax, Kayley (with Garret's help) tricks him into thrusting the sword back into the stone — as he is not the rightful king, he cannot remove it. This is clever, and not this trope. However, it then turns out the inherent magic of the stone, which was only hinted at visually, serves as the legitimate example since it kills Ruber and heals everyone except Garret.
  • The Secret of the Hunchback has an egregious example: In the ending, Quasimodo seems to fall to his death, but then... he GROWS WINGS!
  • The end of the The Secret of NIMH film just screams Deus Ex Machina. Supposedly, the "stone" that does something... powerful manages to respond to Mrs. Brisby's... emotion and then pulls the cinderblock out - with no loss of life (or mud, which had been flooding the house). Auntie Shrew likely survived because she fell into a Plot Hole when the mud started flooding the house.
  • Played for Laughs in The Simpsons Movie, where Maggie shows up to defeat the villain completely out of nowhere by dropping a rock on him as he’s about to shoot Homer and Bart.
  • Towards the end of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Canadian comedians Terrance and Phillip are gunned down by Kyle's mother, triggering Satan and Saddam Hussein's takeover of the world. All seems to be lost until Saddam insults Satan one too many times after receiving several brutal electric shocks from Cartman's V-chip. Satan finally stands up to Saddam and kills him, thanking Kenny for giving him the courage to get out of his abusive relationship, and grants him one wish. Kenny's wish is for all the horror and tragedy of the US-Canada war to be undone, even if it means going back to hell himself. Within a matter of seconds, everyone who died in the war is revived and Canadian/American relations are restored. Also, instead of going back to hell, as a reward for his sacrifice, Kenny is sent to heaven where he is greeted by large-breasted angels.
  • The Spongebob Squarepants Movie:
    • SpongeBob and Patrick need a way back to Bikini Bottom after getting stranded at Shell City. The plot sets up the Magic Bag of Winds specifically for this purpose, and then gets rid of it for a laugh. Suddenly... David Hasselhoff, in full Baywatch form, shows up out of nowhere and offers them a ride home!
    • The end of the movie writes itself into a corner that can only be rectified by a wonderfully ridiculous parody of Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock". The villain's plans are undone by the explosive power of rock music. It still manages to be a satisfying conclusion to the story by playing to the strengths of SpongeBob's Character Development. Once the smoke clears, SpongeBob is left dangling on the end of a rope suspended above the stage, which is a literal reference to the original meaning of deus ex machina in ancient Greek theatre.
  • The healing tears at the very end of Tangled. While the movie is different in many ways from the original fairy tale, this detail comes straight from the source material. The fact that her healing powers were rather mysterious to begin with may also be a factor. However, nothing in the movie itself foreshadows it in any way (unless you believe the theory that the drop of sun from the intro is the tear that saved Flynn).
  • THE CLAW at the end of Toy Story 3 is a literal Deus Ex Machina, as the DVD commentary points out, given that the LGMs treat "the claw" as their deity and it is also the machine that saves all of the toys from burning in the garbage furnace. Its arrival is accompanied by a choir of angelic voices on the soundtrack. It's justified mostly through Truth in Television; waste incinerators really do have giant claws for safety reasons, and real-life tours often reference the scene when explaining how they work.
  • This is truly the only thing keeping A Troll in Central Park from having one of the worst Downer Endings in the history of animated cinema, as Stanley is turned into stone in the climax — the very thing he was afraid of happening to him the whole movie — and the only thing that saves him in the end is the little boy just somehow getting Stanley's Green Thumb powers for no given reason that restore him.

  • In the Music Video for Cyndi Lauper's "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough", André the Giant appears out of nowhere (literally, just a puff of smoke, and there he is) to chase off the bad guys.
  • The climax of Clamavi de Profundis's first song in the Chieftain saga, "Strong", features a literal example when the Villain Protagonist is stopped by an angel from killing a monk whose monastery his troops were raiding.
  • Gloryhammer
    • The ending of the story of the album Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards — the song is called "Apocalypse 1992". Zargothrax is about to succeed in summoning the Elder God Kor-Virliath from the 18th hell dimension, dooming the galaxy and/or universe, and there seems to be no way to stop him. Then it's revealed at that exact moment — almost 8 minutes into the last song on the album — that the Barbarian Hero the Hootsman is actually a cyborg powered by a nuclear heart powerful enough to destroy Earth when detonated, which he now does to stop the summoning. The closest thing to foreshadowing for this would be just the fact that he seemed to randomly be The Ageless before.
    • Borderline or relative case in the album Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex. The Hootsman returns as a Physical God to help beat Zargothrax in the end (in "The Fires of Ancient Cosmic Destiny"). This comes out of nowhere if you just listened to the songs, but apparently it's foreshadowed in the story as explained elsewhere.
    • In the Final Battle the album Return to the Kingdom of Fife — the specific song has the lovely title "Maleficus Geminus (Colossus Matrix 38B — Ultimate Invocation of the Binary Thaumaturge)". Angus McFife II and his forces are losing to Zargothrax and his clone, who are now wielding both of the other two legendary weapons from the same series as his Hammer of Glory. But this is just what prompts the Starlords of Infinity, previously only ever mentioned as the creators of these weapons, to descend from space and annihilate everyone except for Angus, whom they take away to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, or at least to adventure in space.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: Funnily enough, there are many times in Greek Mythology where the gods and goddesses fail to do this all the way through; they may do something which only partly rectifies the situation or has its own shortcomings to it. Not all instances from classical mythology are subversions, though. For example, at one point Hera offers her aid to the Argonauts to get them through. In fact, the entire name of the trope came from the theatrical device used (via a cherry-picker like machine) in ancient Greek plays based on the Greeks' myths.

  • Relative Disasters discuss the Black Monday hailstorm of 1360 as a real-life example of this within the context of the Hundred Years' War, decimating the English army and leaving the French army untouched and driving the previously unstoppable English to negotiate a truce.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1978):
    • While writing the first installment, Douglas Adams found himself faced with a writer's dilemma: His characters had just gotten thrown out an airlock, and would pass out and die from lack of oxygen in 30 seconds, and it was so utterly improbable that another spaceship would come around within those 30 seconds to rescue them that to have had that happen would've been nothing short of this trope. This gave him the idea for the Infinite Improbability Drive.
    • The Quintessential Phase, which adapts Mostly Harmless, at its conclusion has the Babel Fish suddenly turn out to have an ability to teleport itself out of danger when facing certain death. This was done to avert the "Everyone Dies" Ending of the book, and is naturally subject to liberal Lampshade Hanging when Arthur asks why it's never come up before.

  • Alpha Team: Mission Deep Freeze RPG had a recurring Deus ex Machina where characters on the brink of death would be confronted by a mysterious voice telling them "it is time", but could be convinced to bring people back. This was basically invented by Kotua in Space as a means of getting his character, who had been reduced to a ghost forced to possess vehicles in order to stay in this world, back into a physical human body in an easy and feasible manner. This happened several times with the same people. Given the context, this might very well be a literal case of Deus ex Machina. This was later parodied by Dino Attack RPG, in which the voice outright scolded a man for trying to convince it to bring him back. The parody is taken even farther in a non-canon post, where the voice doesn't even give another character a chance to speak for himself and sends him straight into the afterlife.
  • Dino Attack RPG has a number of Deus ex Machina instances of its own. There are probably too many in number to list them all, but here's a few notable examples:
    • When the Dino Attack Team arrived at the base of the Ogel's Island volcano, they had no means of ascending the mountainside. Quite conveniently, Reptile's T-1 Typhoon crash-landed into the volcano and dropped off some climbing gear.
    • Although set up and foreshadowed several posts before it arrived, the stampeding Triceratops herd that ended the battle for the Aztec Village was lampshaded as a Deus ex Machina. Interestingly, unlike most examples of lampshading, this was not Played for Laughs but For Drama, since Rex realized that relying on a Deus ex Machina to save the day is a poor strategy that could easily backfire. Rex later attempted to defy Deus ex Machina by setting up a Big Damn Heroes in advance, only to be punished for it by the Unspoken Plan Guarantee.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, when Leon is about to die in battle, a black wolf appears all of a sudden and saves his life. It later turns out that the wolf was in fact Kagetsu I whom Leon had unknowingly freed earlier. Technically Kagetsu was only a half-god, though.
  • Critics of the ending to Survival of the Fittest v1 tend to claim that the only reason that Adam Dodd won was a series of these. Others who believe that the alternate universe "Afterlife" RP signifies the existence of the supernatural in SOTF claim that the spirits of his dead friends may have been protecting him.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • The high-level Cleric spell Miracle allows you to request intervention from your deity. It costs experience points to use in that fashion, but other than that the only stated downside is that the deity might refuse.
    • In 5th Edition, Clerics can eventually gain a feature called Divine Intervention that lets them beseech their deity to offer assistance in their time of need. The roll for it is very unlikely to succeed — the player has to roll their Cleric level or lower on a d100, effectively getting anywhere from a 10 to 19 percent chance to succeed. But having an ability that will effectively let you do whatever you want is nothing to scoff at.
    • The 2nd edition setting Al-Qadim puts a great deal of emphasis upon Fate, and a Zakharan player character may call upon it to intervene and even the odds of a desperate situation. This may involve being suddenly captured alive rather than killed outright, or the glint of sunlight from a magic weapon in the sane. Most characters have 2% odds of success at best, but Clerics of Order can have it as high as 18%, gradually reduced as they gain levels (Fate favors the young).
  • Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok allows player characters to ask a deity to help them in battle. A sacrifice is performed, runes are drawn, and if the aforementioned deity is in a good mood, Deus ex Machina may occur. However, if your prayer has angered it, the divine intervention will benefit your opponents!
  • In GURPS, a character can buy an Advantage called Serendipity, which allows one extremely fortunate event per game session to take place at the player's discretion. The Gizmos advantage is designed to let players imitate fictional characters like Batman and James Bond, as described above.
  • The parody RPG Ho L has the "Grace of God" pool, which players can put points in by rolling Critical Hits during the game. If the character cannot get out of a situation and has points in Grace of God, they can say "Praise Jesus", which allows the DM to use any random, nonsensical, and/or inexplicable means they can think of to solve the character's dilemma.
  • In the tongue-in-cheek RPG In Nomine Satanis / Magna Veritas, which is played with rolls of 3d6, anyone rolling 111 means a direct and usually over-the-top divine intervention happens. Which can be a very good thing if you're playing an angel, and a very bad thing if you're a demon. And of course, a roll of 666 causes a direct satanic intervention. Also, any angel can try to summon his archangel, and any demon can try to summon his demon prince. And yes, it can work... If you're lucky.
  • Magic: The Gathering has the "Miracle" mechanic. Cards with Miracle are all powerful, expensive spells. However, if they're the first card their owner draws in a turn, they can be immediately played for their (deeply discounted) Miracle cost, making them a sudden solution to many a hopeless scenario.
  • Lampshaded in Munchkin: There's a card called Deus Ex Machinegun that has the gods come down with a machine gun and kill all the monsters, take all the treasure, and make the combat just magically go away.
  • As you might expect, given you're playing the children of the gods, you can invoke this trope in Scion with the right Boons. Set it off, and a group of whatever Fate (or the Storyteller) decides will show up and save you. There's a catch, though - because you're invoking a lot of divine power to make this work, you'll always be strongly Fatebound to whoever saved you.
  • Shadowrun actually has a rule about this, called Hand Of God. When a PC ends up in some sort of hopeless situation, the PC's player can invoke the Hand Of God, having the GM save the PC via some form of Deus ex Machina. There's a catch, of course: it has a hefty experience-point cost, and it can only be used once per character.
  • In Spirit of the Century players may use their characters' Aspects, a Declaration, or even certain Stunts to make an unlikely coincidence happen. Players can also have gadgets and artifacts with undefined abilities, so you can decide that they do exactly what you want at the right moment (of course, once you've decided it stays that way at least until the end of the adventure)
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and Dark Heresy have the Fate Points, which will unfailingly pull a character out of certain death and put them in a position where you are safe for the immediate moment. For small stuff a Fate Point will turn a killing blow to a glancing one, cause the enemies to take you prisoner instead of killing you on the spot, or let you dodge that lethal fall pit, but it becomes one of these when, say, you've just been killed by being spaced, caught inside a collapsing mine or building, or by having a daemon biting your head off.
  • This is Modus Operandi for the Legion of the Damned chapter of Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000. They appear without warning and aid beleaguered Imperial forces against the enemies of mankind, then disappear as soon as the battle is won just as suddenly as they came. Notably, this is one that creeps out the Imperials something fierce. Interestingly, one of the theories behind the Damned Legionnaires' appearance is that they are extensions of the God-Emperor's will. Although he's more like Deus IN Machina. You know, the Golden Throne?
  • An actual game mechanic in World of Synnibarr (really). If your character is on the verge of death with no hope of salvation, you actually get a dice roll to see if your patron deity turns up to haul your arse out of the fire.
  • For some Game Masters, this is going to happen eventually. Whether it be a Total Party Kill where it shouldn't be, the players making a decision that turns out to be much worse than they could imagine, or other misadventure, a group of players will find themselves in a situation where the only way out is to basically cheat. Some GMs will just rewrite the then-latest events, but for GMs who like to maintain the narrative, this may be the only way out.

  • Happens quite a bit in BIONICLE, but three particular examples stand out:
    • In the final moments of the Bohrok-Kal arc, Tahu summons the Kanohi Vahi, which gives the Toa Nuva just enough time to defeat the Kal, who were literally only seconds away from victory. There was no prior indication that Tahu had the Vahi (though the novelization Makuta's Revenge fixes this).
    • In the Toa Inika's battle with Vezon, Jaller pulls out a unique Zamor Sphere that freezes Vezon in stasis when Vezon, who's in the middle of a rage-induced Villainous Breakdown, attempts to inflict a Fate Worse than Death on Matoro, allowing the Inika to recover the Mask of Life. Unlike the Vahi example, there was a scene of Axonn giving Jaller the sphere, however its power was never explained,note  which raises a lot of Fridge Logic.
    • In the Grand Finale Journey's End arc, completely out of the blue, the Mask of Life creates a mystical set of Golden Armor for Tahu, which is capable of annihilating every single Rahkshi soldier and gaining all their abilities. Granted, the Mask Of Life has done and created some pretty crazy things with its power before, but this is said to be a contingency plan of the Great Beings for if The Makuta ever rebelled. It was never mentioned prior to this, and you'd think it would've activated a lot sooner if it supposed to be a fail-safe.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the characters are forced to make a Sadistic Choice: either A. "Graduate", which would replace their memories of being the most dangerous terrorists alive who brought about the end of the world with the memories of the time they spent in the virtual world, reforming them and giving them hope for the future. This, however, would release a malevolent Artificial Intelligence (specifically that of their leader during their time as terrorists) which would infect every person on the planet, essentially turning it into a world of nothing but copies of said leader, plunging the recovering world into a permanent state of blood, horror, and, most especially, despair. Oh, and it would also trap a couple surviving characters from the first game inside the virtual world. Or B., activate the "Forced Shutdown", resulting in them losing all of the memories they've acquired in the virtual world and revert back to being the horrible terrorists (who are also physically mutilated), with a chance of being executed. However, this would completely destroy said malevolent AI, saving the world. They choose option B. The ending of the game reveals that after getting out of the program, the characters decide to stay on the island and try to revive their friends who died inside the virtual world (of which there is a very, very small chance of pulling off), peaceably seeing off said first-game characters who put them in the program in the first place. Obviously, they didn't simply revert to their old terrorist selves; either the Forced Shutdown replaced their terrorist memories with their virtual ones, or they now have both sets of memories. Either way, there was no foreshadowing or explanation given for how or why the program would behave in such a way.
  • In Melody, Bethany shows every clinical characteristic of a sociopath throughout the greater part of the story. In trying to revive her relationship with the protagonist, she goes as far as conning her way backstage at one of Melody's concerts and stealing her prize guitar, manipulating her ally, Steve, with sex all the while. However, in the final confrontation, when she and Steve are threatening to destroy Melody's guitar if she doesn't get what she wants, she suddenly relents (if Melody's romantic path is active) when the protagonist shows how far he's willing to go to get the guitar back.

    Web Animation 
  • The Champions has one in the Season 3 finale: after the Champions League goalkeepers fail to prevent The End of the World as We Know It via meteor strike, the damage is reversed by the intervention of Galactic VAR.
  • Dick Figures: One of the most straightforward examples out there, in the episode "Zeusbag", Red and Blue have to enter a gladiator match with Raccoon. As they're about to die by his hand, Raccoon suddenly has to shit and apathetically forfeits the match running off screen.
  • Helluva Boss: The episode "Truth Seekers" ends with Stolas appearing to save the main characters from their human abductors, implicitly revealing he's been watching over them in secret, or at least noticed the potential disaster when they were caught by an organisation that wants to prove that demons exist. The unusual thing here is that the need for a Deus Ex Machina is contrived; the captured imps had been released, and the demons had been totally unbeatable in fighting the humans so far, so why was it suddenly a big problem that they were locked in with the only two humans they hadn't slaughtered yet? They could normally even have just teleported back to hell, but couldn't because the spellbook was hard to read with the flashing lights.
  • Lampshaded in The One Ring to Rule Them All 2. Frodo and Sam escape their lava trap with no other explanation than "plot device, Mr. Frodo, plot device".
  • Analyzed in one of the Trope Talk episodes of Overly Sarcastic Productions. According to Red, Deus Ex Machina can have varying level of foreshadowing but it must be something that cannot be relied on.
  • Super Mario Bros. Z: In Episode 7, Kolorado's grandfather's stopwatch was revealed to house an ancient magic which proved to be the only thing capable of negating the curse trapping the characters within the Minus World, allowing them all to escape. Alvin-Earthworm, the series creator, criticizes himself for writing this into the episode, and he intends to omit this episode from the reboot as a result.

  • Bob and George, where rather often various "convenient plot devices" were thrown in (to the point that even the author of the series himself became a regular cast member).
  • T-Rex of Dinosaur Comics explains it in his inimitable style here.
  • In an apparently unintentional lampshaded example, Miranda of Dominic Deegan has taken to calling herself "Deus Ex Momina," being a rather jarring Parent ex Machina in what is neither a sitcom nor starred by a teenager. Word of God states the joke was her terrible delivery of the joke rather than being one of the most Meta Guy moments the comic's ever had. There are other events where this happens, sometimes even being mentioned by the cast.
  • The plot of Errant Story is kicked off when Meji casts a spell to invoke a Deus ex Machina so she can find a way to complete her senior project and graduate from wizard school. As a result, she accidentally discovers, in the school library, the only surviving copy of a book that contains some information that the elves were trying to keep secret. Oddly, despite the name of the trope being mentioned, this is not a normal example of the literary trope, because it serves to drive the plot rather than resolve it.
  • In Game Destroyers, Ferahgo is a purposeful example of this, and Jipples has become a minor, though lazy, example of this as well.
  • Kevin & Kell has seen its fair share of these in its two decades as a comic. One arc from June of 2011 involving factional elections amongst rabbits comes to an end with a completely unexplained, contrived resolution that restores the status quo, just in time for the Dewclaw family to escape their latest conundrum. Made all the more jarring by their salvation in this situation spontaneously appearing and disappearing with no indication from where or why it came and left as it did. Even if the final strip is a hint to who saved the day, it's still never mentioned before or after.
  • Magick Chicks: At the end of chapter 15, Cerise mass teleported the student council to their uncertain doom and she was the only one who knew their location. You'd think it would've paved the way for a Rescue Arc, or that she'd be forced undo the spell and return them. Nope. Near the end of chapter 18, the wand became an all-purpose problem solver by enabling Mel to sense they were alive, instantly whisked her to where they were, and back, in less than a minute.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In Questionable Content the cast are trapped in an alley by a crazed Knight Templar / Anti-Hero and her robot Sidekick until they are saved at the last minute by their own robot sidekicks under the battle cry "Deus Ex Machina!". QC, one should note, is set in a slightly-warped version of the real world, somewhere between Mundane Fantastic and a sci-fi or superhero world.
    • The introduction of Spookybot and quick resolution of Bubbles and Faye's problems with Corpse Witch is arguably another example.
  • In this Real Life Comics strip, Greg wants to buy Diablo II but he has no money. The author then declares he has enough money. In the following strip, the author makes a copy of the Collector's Edition of the game appear in the store.
    • The Author shows up semi-regularly in the comic, usually to get the plot moving in an "It would take too long to get from A to B the regular way." (Such as when she took Liz from "Trying to conceive their second child" to "eight months pregnant" in one panel) One notable exception is when she made sure the newborn Parker Dean was completely healthy, rather than saddled with the health problems his real-life counterpart (plus his parents) had to deal with.
    • Tony and his ridiculous mad science tech can play this role, but Tony tends to be the only one to take advantage (such as when he gave himself immortality. It didn't stick.) He offered to give Mae a perfect transition to female in an afternoon, but "she" decided the "right way" to do it would be the normal, no-shortcuts way...
      Tony: Are you sure?
      Mae: Apparently.
      The Author: For the last time, if I had to suffer, so do you.
  • Schlock Mercenary on several occasions. Also lampshaded here.
    • The Petey-focused extra story in the printed version of book 7 is actually called "Deus ex Nausea", as scenario after scenario is resolved by sudden Fleetmind interference. He's actually trying to subtly kill the literary device in several cultures in an attempt to make them more self-reliant, which gets awkward when he's simultaneously acting as one.
  • Invoked with Slack Wyrm and The Deus Ex Box in this comic. A magical box that will solve all your problems in a vague and unsatisfying way. In this case it helped Ferragus pay off his debts (without him knowing), removed his sister from keep (something he was previously unware of) and raised Lord EdgeGod's edginess level to 99%.
  • Sluggy Freelance: Parodied in the "Holiday Wars" arc. We learn that there exist three magic "Deus ex ova" (singular "ovum"), Latin for "God from the egg", magic eggs created by the Greek gods that will hit the Reset Button with respect to the story's dramatic events if broken. And this eventually happens, but only after characters have have played a Battle of Wits around whether the egg in question gets used. So it's not exactly an example because it's foreshadowed and is played as part of the actual events in the finale... but it's first foreshadowed pretty late in the story, and it comes out of nowhere at that point, so the author's self-irony about the whole thing is understandable.

    Web Original 
  • Chronicle of the Annoying Quest features a character named "Dues X. Machina" (Pronounced "doose"). The name seems to be an ironic joke, however, as he doesn't actually do anything plot-related in his first appearance (though he does provide another excuse for hilarity to ensue...)
  • The 7th Chrono Hustle story, which is in fact title Deus Ex Machina, involves a situation where Jack Masterson is about to be raped by Aphrodite. He has no way out of the situation when suddenly Hermes, who had not been so much as mentioned up to that point, shows up. He doesn't actually save the day, but does provide enough of a distraction to give the rest of the main cast time to show up.
  • Dream: In "Minecraft Speedrunner VS 3 Hunters FINALE," after he goes underwater and digs down, he finds some diamonds. Christmas music starts playing.
  • Frequently delivered by random old men in Farce of the Three Kingdoms. Cao Cao apparently has a subscription with Deus Ex Machina Services, Inc.
  • In Keit-Ai, an unexplained deus ex machina is responsible for letting a boy get the phone number of his crush, only to realize later that it was actually from the alternate universe version of his crush instead.
  • The Lay of Paul Twister: When Paul Twister is right about to get caught by a guard, an angelic warrior whose life he had saved at the beginning of the story shows up to conveniently provide a distraction, just long enough for him to get away. Paul is a bit freaked out by this, since it seems to have come out of nowhere and required knowledge that she shouldn't have had, and he figures that whatever he's caught up in is probably about to get worse.
    Things like that just didn't happen to me, suddenly being bailed out by an unexpected ally, just seconds after being caught flat-footed. And she was a Celestial, to boot. Seriously, all that was missing was the ''machina''!
  • Played for Laughs in The Onion Sports Dome reporting a collapse of the Staples Center had brought an early end to a basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns where the home team Clippers were on the losing end of a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Anything classified as Thaumiel by The SCP Foundation essentially works as this trope, being objects that could be of benefit to the Foundation. Of particular note is SCP-2000, which basically acts as a Reset Button to clone humanity in the event of an apocalypse.

    Web Videos 
  • H.Bomberguy: In his video on the 2017 British Election, the horror of having to live through another Tory government is immediately resolved when the money birds come back home
  • Noob: La Croisée des Destins: At the very en of the movie, Gaea, a Starving Student who's trying to live off schloarship as long as she can according to All There in the Manual, get an inverted case of Heroism Equals Job Qualification (in that the act that lands her the job is awesome, but otherwise villainous). The character who offers her the job is a pre-existing minor character that gave absolutely no previous indication of being in a position in which he could offer her such a job.
  • The Nostalgia Chick: Averted during the course of "The Dark Nella Saga" with the jar of mayonnaise. While it does allow for teleportation and resurrection it was shown being injected with "a plot device" by Lord MacGuffin early on in the saga. The only remaining question is how Dr. Tease got the jar in the first place...
  • Overly Sarcastic Productions: Red does a deep dive into this trope, examining its long history and the various ways it manifests in stories. She also expresses her view that the trope's negative reputation is not wholly deserved; random coincidences pop up and cause unexpected benefits in real life all the time, so why is the same thing happening in fiction considered "cheating" or dismissed as bad writing?
  • Some Jerk with a Camera: After accidentally erasing his own birth at the very end of his "It's a Small World" review, Jerk is saved by a dimensional figure called The All-Being, who transports him to an alternate universe that's exactly the same as his old own.
  • Video Game High School: Averted in season 2: The Law Is saved from Shane's men by Robot ShotBot. It is a Deus Ex Machina even more considering that he is saved by a machine, but we must consider that ShotBot's intervention was foretold in the beginning of the episode, and that his presence really is useful for the next events: ShotBot stays on track and makes the narration progress.

Alternative Title(s): Dei Ex Machina


"My ___ is magical"

In the Doctor Who parody Professor Why, the title character fixes emergencies with random magical stuff, even managing to instantly revive himself. Edd and Tom get increasingly irritated by this, and it's even acknowledged by Professor Why's partner as being ridiculous.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeusExMachina

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