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Didn't See That Coming

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Call it a hunch, but I'd say things didn't go as planned here.
"Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht." ("Man plans, God laughs.")
A Yiddish proverb

Ah, nothing denotes how Crazy-Prepared The Chessmaster is like the good old Gambit Pileup. Truly, there is nothing these twelfth-level omni-geniuses have not contemplated in their equations and planned for with contingencies B through Z42t.

Then something, or someone, happens. Not just something that the planner didn't know about, but something that he didn't know he didn't know. In fact, there was no way he could have known that he didn't know this (of course, that means that an incompetent chessmaster or Smug Snake is more likely to fall prone to this trope). Thus the brilliant plan goes to pieces, with a deadpan "I Didn't See That Coming" once the dust settles. Less stoic fellows may go Oh, Crap! or have a Villainous Breakdown.

But that's an extreme example. There can be much simpler situations where something unexpected happens that entirely surprises a character (and/or the audience) and makes them think, say, or curse that they didn't see THAT coming. Not every planner is a good planner, after all. For a brief analysis of what usually qualifies as this trope, and what usually doesn't, see this page. Essentially, anything that you didn't know in advance (and thus cannot or didn't plan for) can be an example of the trope; it's pretty broad.


See also Didn't Think This Through. If there wasn't a plan to begin with, possibly due to a plotter knowing this will happen the moment they start, it's an Indy Ploy. A plotter who is aware that these can appear, builds flexibility into his plan, and improvises when they arise, is playing Xanatos Speed Chess (and can still fall prey to this trope if confronted by a Spanner in the Works or simply a better The Chessmaster).


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Other examples

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    Board Games 
  • In Shōgi, remember that it's possible to have your captured pieces used against you.
  • In a similar manner, Chess, especially if a player fails a spot check.
  • Since Go has a ridiculously complicated metagame deciding who actually controls territory on the board, it's possible to make unorthodox (or slightly less orthodox) moves that result in a massive advantage. (For a glamorized version of how this might happen, watch any match in Hikaru no Go.)

    Films — Animated 
  • In Beauty and the Beast Gaston gives Belle two options: marry him or let her father go to the insane asylum for thinking he’s seen a beast. He never expected Belle could prove the Beast actually exists.
    • Earlier, when preparing for dinner with Belle, the Beast is so caught up in his anxiety that he finally has a chance to break the curse and his despair that it still may never be broken that he didn’t realize Belle probably won’t want to dine with her captor.
  • Frozen: Clearly Hans's whole gambit to usurp the throne of Arendelle did not account for Olaf freeing Anna from the library, or Anna jumping in front of his sword to stop him from killing Elsa. His reaction after the winter is thawed just reeks of this:
    Hans: But she froze your heart!
    Anna: The only frozen heart around here is yours! [punches him in the face]
  • In Moana, this is Maui's reaction word-for-word when, after he tries to get rid of Moana by hurling her off the boat, the Ocean plops her right back on it. "Did not see that coming."
  • Titan A.E.:
    • In a subversion of The Guards Must Be Crazy, the guard that the heroes are trying to fool instantly figures out that they're trying to pull a fast one over on him. Preed subtly leans over and asks if the group has a plan B. Stith beats the crap out of the guard, and leads Preed to the following quote.
      Preed: An intelligent guard. Didn't see that one coming.
    • The Drej have their entire fleet attacking the Titan station, hellbent on destroying it. Titan is running on auxiliary power, which isn't enough to activate the station. The Drej, being energy beings, are undefeatable...until the heros realize that Drej energy can be absorbed and converted into station power. The entire fleet is not so much destroyed as it is eaten.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE 1996: Sunny offered to manage Ahmed Johnson, who turned her down, calling her "trash." Sunny's response was to bring in Faarooq, leading to the kidney injury that messed up Ahmed's career forever.

    Tabletop Games 
  • On the one hand, Game Masters are very often on the receiving end of PC ADD (not AD&D, though the similarity is telling) and are often forced into Railroading the plot. On the other, PC's can be struck by a very creative GM who gleefully goes Off the Rails with them and reprimands misbehavior creatively.
  • This happens quite a bit to the Thousand Sons Chaos Space Marine chapter in Warhammer 40,000. They plan any action they take for years, carefully plot out every single possibility... Then their rivals, the Space Wolves, just run in and beat the shit out of them when they least expect it. You'd think they'd learn by now. (The current page image is a parody of this scenario; Tzeentch, God of Xanatos Speed Chess, is repeatedly beaten back by the fan-made Angry Marines.)
    • One example took place in the Gothic War. Chaos runs in and has the Imperial Navy on the ropes, they're clearly winning with their plans falling perfectly into place. Then out of the blue, the Ork pirates which have been pestering the Imperials decide it might be fun to attack Chaos for a while.
    • Similarly, one Necron commander gets bonuses against every other faction (save one) because he's studied their tactics. The one exception is Orks, as they're simply too varied and surprising. The same occasionally applies to the Imperium: everyone knows that Orks are stupid and brutal (and they are), so stuff like Kommandoes (Orks who can use stealth) or pulling a starship out of the Warp goes unconsidered by their human opponents until it's far too late.
    • The bread and butter of the Alpha Legion, to the extent where their very existence has been denied by the Imperial Inquisition three times. It's not really clear who's side they're even on.
    • There was the time when Craftworld Iyanden was getting swamped by an Ork Waaagh!, forcing them to raise even more Wraiths. For the record, Wraiths are artificial soldiers that are powered by spirit stones that contain the souls of dead Eldar. Then out of the Webway the Dark Eldar come in to save the Craftworld Eldar, with their stated reason being they were amused by the Eldar's angst/desperation in summoning their dead.
    • Prior to the current setting, the Imperium had gotten pretty good at fighting Eldar, Orks, and Chaos, such that they had become The Usual Adversaries. Then around the 41st Millenium three new factions spring up that blindsided the Imperium: the Necrons, whose advanced technology made them almost impossible to kill while slicing through the best the Imperium had to offer like it was nothing, the Tyranids, a hyper-intelligent Horde of Alien Locusts that could easily outmaneuver Imperial defenses before drowning them in unending waves of bugs, and the T'au Empire, a small confederation of aliens that ignore Hollywood Tactics in favor of some of the most powerful guns in the entire setting. While the Imperium is adapting, First Contact with these new aliens resulted in unsatisfying stalemate at best and complete military disaster at worst, and they always seem to bring out new threats to keep the Imperium from ever getting a good solid counter.
  • Happens to virtually everyone in Exalted, especially when Adorjan or the Exalted are involved.
    • Chejop Kejak is the poster child for this trope. He led his fellow Sidereals to overthrow the increasingly insane Solar rulers of Creation based on what he was convinced was a prophecy that guaranteed the survival of Creation. Unfortunately for him (and more than 90% of Creation's population), he underestimated the threat posed by beings from outside of Creation, who are by nature Immune to Fate and thus cannot be predicted.
    • In Autochthonia, one of the nations implemented a form of currency to keep the Populat happy during a series of high-profile scandals. Now there are illicitly wealthy members of the Populat bribing their way out of their responsibilities, regulator corruption all over the place, counterfeiting rings springing up, and similar chaos, and nobody has any idea what to do about it.
  • BattleTech:
    • The Clan Invasion in AD 3050. The Inner Sphere was busy working up to yet another fight among the different Successor States when all of a sudden a Proud Warrior Race, descended from humans who had fled known space centuries ago and wielding much more advanced technology, appears from unexplored space and starts steamrolling everything in their path. It wound up being the first thing in over 400 years that actually got the various eternally warring factions of the Inner Sphere to put aside their differences and team up.
    • The Clans themselves did not see that eight years later, the Successor States would use that cooperation to launch a massive counter-invasion with the goal of destroying a Clan. The Smoke Jaguars never stood a chance and were utterly wiped out.
  • Pretty much any darklord in the Ravenloft setting, upon committing some horrible deed that crossed the Moral Event Horizon in pursuit of their own evil goals or passions, Didn't See It Coming that the Mists would abduct them and trap them in an Epiphanic Prison for their troubles. For darklords from other game-worlds, this possible outcome would rate as an Unknown Unknown, as few outlanders know much about Ravenloft; for the few native villains who do, it's still this trope, but an Unknown Known (because they wouldn't have expected it to happen to them).

  • Thrill Me, in a case of known unknown: Richard knows that Nathan exists, and is, in theory, aware that Nathan is smart. Nathan can, after all, hold his attention. Richard does not expect Nathan to pull a Xanatos Gambit for the sole purpose of keeping the two of them together (in life or death).

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Several of these nail Manfred von Karma. He didn't see Larry Butz arriving with key information, didn't expect Phoenix to get useful information out of a parrot even after retraining it to destroy the most useful, and, most importantly, he spends the entire case manipulating the Judge... but never expects the Judge to truly hold devotion to law and order over any fear he may have of him. This last one screws von Karma over more than everything else.
    • Also, in Miles Edgeworth's game, Quercus Alba is unbeatable, until a series of these brings him down. Notable in that multiple completely unpredictable (from his perspective) events are required for him to be arrested.
  • In Code:Realize, Isaac Beckford spent years carefully developing and implementing his grand plan to become God, only for the whole thing to fall apart because a certain charismatic gentleman thief saw fit to steal a key component of the plan - Cardia, the visual novel's player character - and give her a chance to experience human kindness, friendship, and love.
    • The only thing that causes Aleister's meticulously-planned long-term campaign to utterly mentally destroy Van Helsing is Cardia, who gives Van and Delacroix II a chance to reconcile and - by falling in love with Van Helsing and refusing to let him push her away - provides him with something Worth Living For.
  • Part of the Big Bad's plans in Dies Irae is to actually invoke this trope. Both have to deal with foreknowledge, and as such they feel like they know everything that will happen with nothing exciting or surprising them anymore and are enamored by the unknown. In the end, they both get what they want, albeit in a different way from what they initially intended which only made them happier.

    Web Animation 
  • At the end of the fourth Charlie the Unicorn short, the pink and blue unicorns — who have spent the last four installments slowly going from obliviously cruel and chaotic to unmistakably malevolent — show genuine surprise when Charlie, by wishing on the magic starfish from the previous episode, escapes their deathtrap on the moon.
  • At the end of Volume Three of RWBY, Cinder has successfully pulled off her master plan, having stolen the Fall Maiden's powers and killed the people most capable of stopping her. Then Ruby's eyes go supernova in grief, much to her and the audience's surprise. The normally calm Cinder responds with a Big "WHAT?!" before being blasted.
  • In Animator vs. Animation 2, The Animator draws a stick figure named "The Chosen One", who is much more powerful than The Animator thought. He starts breaking Animator's computer, so in 3, Animator attempts to deal with him by drawing a stick figure named "The Dark Lord"... Who then teams up with The Chosen One in order to destroy Animator's computer.
    • In 4, Second Coming actually manages to destroy Animator's cursor, slowing down his efforts to stop SC.
    • At the end of Animation VS YouTube, Green uploads himself as a video, rendering YouTube incapable of attacking him as he breaks YouTube from the inside out.

    Web Original 
  • In The Salvation War, this is the downfall of several figures in the story, not least of which include the antagonists Satan and Yahweh, while in contrast much of human military tech shown in the story is concerned with trying to prevent this. In particular, General of the Armies David Petraeus is shown on several occasions accounting for known unknowns.
  • Despite all of the completely ludicrous things they managed to pull off in Dr. Horrible, nobody was expecting Bad Horse to be an actual horse.
  • In the "40K Rejects" series by Mini War Gaming dot com, in Episode 3 (The Tale of an Ork), Captain Slaughter and co. are looking for the five Ork Shokk Attack Guns. They capture several Orks in combat, and Slaughter interrogates them one by one. The first few are gibbering idiots, but the third is quite articulate. His intelligence and knowledge intrigue Slaughter, who is subsequently shocked to discover that the Ork is actually "the Warboss in disguise"!. Slaughter's reaction to it is priceless:
    Slaughter: Out of all the unforeseen things I've ever seen!
  • Ranger has multiple times fallen victim to this type in Comic Fury Werewolf. He's several times forgotten key facts which are public information due to focusing too hard on the details. One of the worst is how he's twice forgotten about the vigilantes, and even forgot about the alpha's ability to convert until he was dead and too late to warn the village.
  • In Twitch Plays Pokémon Red, the Mob came up with a cunning plan to make sure that Bird Jesus didn't get released or deposited when they went to the PC. If they fainted everyone in the party except for Bird Jesus, he couldn't be put in the PC because then Red would have no usable Pokemon, right? As it should so happen, this leads to variety five - in the first generation of Pokemon, you can deposit the only Pokemon in your party... leading to Red managing to black out inside a Pokemon Centre!
  • Linkara's reaction in his History of Power Rangers video detailing Power Rangers Lost Galaxy to Kendrix Morgan's death involves cutting to him in Stunned Silence.
  • Death Battle:
    • In the season 3 finale "Deadpool vs. Pinkie Pie", Wiz and Boomstick are absolutely flabbergasted when the two call off their fight, become best friends, hop through other videos and land in the real world where Deadpool admonishes Wiz and Boomstick's actors for making him fight on his birthday before Pinkie brings him back to Equestria to celebrate said birthday. The two are forced to admit that the real losers this time is them.
    • In the season 7 episode Red vs. Blue (as in, the titular teams duking it out), something to this effect is said as Sarge's Famous Last Words, lamenting that he really SHOULD have seen that coming.
    Sarge, as he's about to be blown up by Tucker's grenade: Well, should've seen that coming.
  • A Running gag during Games Done Quick marathons is someone saying "THAT'S never happened before!" after an unexpected glitch or death during a game's run.
  • This happens to GrayStillPlays quite frequently:
    • In Universe Sandbox 2, he often gets surprised by the results of his mad experiments. One of the best examples was when he destroyed Earth with a grain of sand going at 100 million times the speed of light. He was underwhelmed by the lack of destruction at first before the game finally calculated the damage and showed that the Earth was completely destroyed.
    • His reaction to the Plot Twist of Car Hazard is a mix of this and I Need a Freaking Drink due to the main character being revealed to be an insane killer who uses her own friends' skin and blood to make her "art".
    • His reaction to realizing that Graveyard Keeper allows the gravedigger to harvest corpses for flesh and sell it to the tavern for beer.
  • Low Tier God: He was cast in ELEAGUE's attempt at a reality TV show, The Challenger, to the surprise of pretty much the entire internet. Not only that, but his role is a central one; he's presented as the show's "villain", given by far the most focus in the debut trailer, and his... divisive persona was immediately discussed by the other contestants. Upon arriving at the show house, LTG thanked his haters from the bottom of his heart for making this opportunity possible instead of his supporters who vouched for him... Unfortunately for him, the other players wasted no time in targeting him for elimination, getting him picked for the elimination battle without any hesitation, being quickly beaten in Street Fighter, and hastily ejected from the competition on day one.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Did Not See That Coming


What. The Hell?

After resolving their differences in the containment pod and declaring they love each other once more, FitzSimmons fully expected Leopold and Nightmare Simmons to attack them both. Instead, they're making out with each other. Cue the Head Tilt. Seems Nightmare Simmons is a Brains and Bondage type of... monster.

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Main / DidntSeeThatComing

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Main / DidntSeeThatComing