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Fan-Disliked Explanation

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Yorick: As far as answers go, it was vaguely unsatisfying.
Beth: Is there any explanation that would have been satisfactory?
Yorick: Um, aliens? I would have also accepted witchcraft or anything involving nanobots.

People love a good mystery and will watch or read a story to the very end just to find out its answer. Sometimes though, for whatever reason, they don't like the answer. The fans then decide it would have been better to just leave the Plot Threads hanging, which would have given them mulch for their Epileptic Trees.

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When a show has a premise that hinges on one or more big unanswered questions, fans feel there is an obligation that these questions be answered. Failure to do so leads to The Chris Carter Effect, which can turn off fans in frustration. Likewise, not answering enough questions in a Kudzu Plot alienates fans. The hard place to the above rock is that when a series answers a question and the answer isn't quite as epic, clever, or mind-shattering as imagined. Maybe fan expectations are just too high. Maybe the answer is honestly unsatisfying. Maybe the answer conflicts with the genre established earlier in the work, like a sci-fi explanation in a fantasy book or vice-versa. Maybe it reveals that a character that did something seemingly of their own free will was instead subject to Mind Control or brainwashing. Maybe it's a question no one asked or wanted to be answered at all, meaning no answer would be satisfying.

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Regardless, the fans hear your explanation, and they don't like it. It's a Fan-Disliked Explanation.

It should be noted that one factor in whether fans expect a mystery to be resolved or not is how prominent and important it was made originally. Lost made such a huge deal about the mystery of "the numbers" that expectations for the solution were raised to an incredible pitch. In the case of Sherlock Holmes's backstory, though, it is made abundantly clear that it's irrelevant and that no clarification is to be expected.

When the authors deliberately choose not to solve the mystery, possibly to avoid this trope, that's Riddle for the Ages. If fans outright reject a Word of God explanation as non-canonical, that can be an example of Death of the Author.

It's just like how everybody wants their Ship to go through, but when it does, the result is Shipping Bed Death.

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Whether a show is better served by answering all, some, or none of the questions it raises varies by viewer. It's worth noting that this trope doesn't just focus on answers that are unsatisfying, but situations where an unanswered question actually helped the narrative. As you can expect, this is therefore YMMV.

This sometimes overlaps with Be Careful What You Wish For - when fans prefer all the various explanations rather than the actual answer.

Compare Canon Fodder and The Un-Reveal. If the explanation is disliked because it just raises further questions, then it's Voodoo Shark. This can occur when Writer Conflicts With Canon.

Beware of unmarked spoilers.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Danganronpa 3: For a lot of fans, The Reveal that Junko Enoshima's primary weapon was Mitarai's brainwashing animation techniques, instead of their own Magnificent Bastard and Dark Messiah qualities resulted in a huge Badass Decay for the franchise's villain, whose charisma and capacity to bind people to their will was always believed to be their most impressive quality. It was also unpopular among those who wanted to see why the lovable Danganronpa 2 cast would fall into despair, finding the above explanation to be a lazy cop-out that forgoes characterization in favor of a one-size-fits-all plot point that is far less interesting.
  • Paranoia Agent: The explanation of the true nature of Shonen Bat and Maromi, as tidily explained as manifestations of guilt may be considered anti-climatic However, the show avoids this trope mostly by leaving many aspects vague or outright unexplained or inconclusive.
  • The Halo Legends shorts quickly created a Broken Base due to their Broad Strokes regard to the Halo canon, with later explanations only providing partial comfort. One such lose-lose situation was at the end of the The Package, where John fights an Elite Major in a sword fight referred to in the subtitles as "Thel". However, Halo: The Cole Protocol indicated that Thel 'Vadamee, the Arbiter from the original trilogy, had not fought a Spartan until he had already been promoted to Zealot. Some fans, however, still liked the irony of 'Vadamee nearly killing John only to be his ally later in the series. But that was nullified with the updated release of Halo: The Fall of Reach, which clarified that it was a different Elite fighting John named Thel 'Lodamee. Now the canon was fixed again, but the irony was lost because John lost to a random mook.
  • MÄR has this in regards to how certain plotlines were concluded in the manga, particularly the reason for Snow's existence. The anime took a different approach and offered an entirely new explanation to fit within their revised ending. This change, as well as the anime's ending in general is typically preferred by the fans, who considered the manga's ending rushed, anti-climactic and unsatisfying.
  • Black Butler had a major uproar from the fanbase when Word of God revealed that Grell is in fact a trans woman instead of always being a guy, angering Yaoi fans that like to ship her with Sebastian.
  • Digimon Adventure 02:
    • Fans were not happy with the explanation given for why the old Digimon could no longer reach Ultimate for multiple reasons, mainly because it felt like an excuse to brush the older children to the side.
    • In the first episode of the show, Tailmon (or Gatomon if you prefer) loses her Holy Ring. Despite being set up as a major story arc, it's almost completely forgotten about, until Gennai reveals in the finale that he had it all along, but choose not to return it for several reasons. Fans generally regard this as a lazy explanation.
    • To a lesser extent, the Dark Seeds part of Ken's backstory. A number of fans feel that his story would have been better had Ken simply snapped under a combination of being The Unfavorite in his family, the trauma over his older brother's death and the overall stressful life he was living, rather than having his innocence sucked out of him by an evil plant.
    • In the 48th episode, it's revealed that the main antagonist of the series is in fact Myotismon (or Vamdemon), one of the antagonists of the previous series, having possessed Oikawa and manipulated events from behind the scenes. Several fans didn't like this twist, as there was little foreshadowing beforehand, and Myotismon had already come back to life, making the idea of him coming back a second time seem uncreative.
    • The Distant Finale revealed the futures of the main cast. Fans hated almost all of them, feeling as though they came out of nowhere and/or flew in the face of character arcs.
  • Ousama Game builds up the mystery about who exactly the "King" is and why they're forcing the students to act out the game. The eventual reveal that the King is actually a virus originating from a species of insect (that somehow acts as both a biological and computer virus) that kills through hypnotic suggestion is usually considered unsatisfying, if not completely nonsensical.
  • Naruto: Naruto/Sakura fans dislike how Kishimoto has repeatedly stated that their Ship Tease was in fact just a Red Herring, that he never thought about making Naruto/Sakura canon, and that he had always planned for Naruto/Hinata being the main Official Couple since the early stages of the manga. The more militant shippers have even gone so far as to declare Death of the Author and join the Naruto/Sasuke fans in shipping their favorite pairing.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • A lot of older fans hate the "canon" take on the portrayal and actions of Goku's father, Bardock. The reason being that originally, the 1990 Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku special depicted the twilight of the Saiyans through Bardock, Goku's father. Fans loved the special for its unconventional portrayal of Bardocknote . Toriyama liked it so much (despite admitting he'd never write a story so dark) he gave it a Continuity Nod in his own manga, effectively making the special canon to it. 23 years later however, the bonus Dragon Ball Minus chapter in 2013's Jaco the Galactic Patrolman showed Toriyama's version, depicting Bardock as a kinder person who sent his son away personally out of concern with Frieza's actions. In addition to Bardock's personality change, this made Goku a borderline Superman Expy, dividing the fanbase. This got further reinforced when Dragon Ball Super: Broly adapted these events into the modern animated storyline.
    • The story that explains where Frieza's fear of the Super Saiyan Legend comes from is more universally derided, despite being a What If? story. 2012's Dragon Ball – Episode of Bardock depicts him being sent back in time by Frieza's attack, where he gains the Super Saiyan form in front of Chilled, an ancestor of Frieza's. The issues come from the fact that the Super Saiyan form usually comes from intense anger over something personal: here, Bardock reaches it over Chilled hurting a member of a cartoonish alien race he barely knows. This, coupled with the special being a scant 20 minutes long, leaving no room for this event to be set up properly. Episode of Bardock is easier to ignore, however, as it is later contradicted by Dragon Ball Super, and had been explicitly stated to be a What If? story by its own author anyway.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time game, Sheik is Princess Zelda in disguise. This is kept in the manga except that the manga adds in the detail that Zelda asked Impa to imprison her mind for seven years and create a male identity. This is disliked for being completely unneeded, especially since the manga passes everything off as Zelda doing it herself anyway. It also adds an element of Adaptational Wimp to Zelda as her being the Hero of Another Story is a large reason for what makes this incarnation of Zelda so popular.
  • In Hunter × Hunter Killua was originally depicted as having a deep-seated fear of fighting stronger opponents, something that his father and abusive brother impressed upon him during his assassin's training. Other characters noted that this was a severe liability that hampered his reliability as a hunter and Killua himself worried that his cowardice would lead him to abandon his friends in the heat of the moment. Most fans were underwhelmed when it was revealed that this phobia wasn't a character trait, but instead due to needle that his brother placed in his skull and that it was resolved simply by removing the needle.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Good luck finding anyone who found the reveal that Tail's parents were taken by BEM scientist Ceneca-9009 to her home planet to be necessary or satisfying.
    • Around the same time, it was revealed that the same spoiler-tagged character was responsible for the mass dereboticization in "The Last Robian". This explanation was widely seen as lazy.
    • A lot of fans hated the name Ken Penders intended to give Sonic (Ogilvie), due to it being incredibly silly-sounding (of course, given Sonic's earlier reaction to someone bringing up his birth name, this may have been the point). Ian Flynn agreed, and apart from explaining that Sonic had his name legally changed, he never revealed his first name at all during his run.
    • The reveal that Mobius was Earth All Along, having been bombarded with "Gene Bombs" by an alien race called the Xorda in the late 21st century, was near-universally despised, mainly because there were no hints about it beforehand and it left contradictory plotholes. (The original Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) was going to have a similar twist, but the comic had long-since deviated from it.) The reveal that the spoiler-tagged event was responsible for the creation of the Chaos Emeralds was met with similar scorn, to the point that Ian Flynn himself would explicitly state otherwise.
  • This is the reason we don't know The Joker's origin in Batman. Some people take Alan Moore's story as the truth, but at the end, the Joker himself says that his memories of his origin change from day to day.
  • The same is true of The Phantom Stranger. He has four mutually exclusive origins, all of which were published in the same issue of Secret Origins and given equal weight. One of them was written by Alan Moore. Meanwhile, in the New 52, The Phantom Stranger now has a definitive origin. (He's Judas Iscariot.)
  • Invoked by Yorick at least once in Y: The Last Man, regarding the sudden death of every man in the world besides himself and his pet monkey. There is an answer that's explained to the characters, but it's the "vaguely unsatisfying" one of the page quote (unsatisfying to both the readers and the characters) and the writers give it no more weight than any of the other explanations. Of the three reasons set up in the first issue (Yorick's ring, Dr. Mann's baby and 355 with the Amulet of Helene), none of them really lasts the course. Says series writer Brian K. Vaughan on the subject:
    I feel that there is a definitive explanation, but I like that people don't necessarily know what it is. In interviews we always said that we would tell people exactly what caused the plague. The thing was, we never said when we were going to tell. We weren't going to tell you when we were telling you, I should say. We might have told you in issue #3. There might have been something in the background that only a couple people caught. It might have been Dr. Mann's father's very detailed, scientific explanation. It might have been Alter's off-the-wall conspiracy theory. The real answer is somewhere in those 60 issues, but I prefer to let the reader decide which one they like rather than pushing it on them.
  • 52, despite its ability to follow through its separate storylines being credited as one of the reasons for its success, left a few plot threads dangling, particularly with regards to Booster Gold and Skeets due to an Aborted Arc. The original storyline for Booster and Skeets involved them fixing the timeline of the universe, which had become broken in the recent Infinite Crisis. To set up this story Skeets had frequent memory errors, where events as they occurred were different (sometimes drastically so) than as they had been recorded in the future. However, after these issues had been written, the writers decided that this plot was too generic, and had been done too often before by other time-traveling heroes, so they decided to go in a different direction and have an actual malevolent entity responsible for everything, including Skeets' out-of-character actions. Eventually, the series revealed that Skeets had been infested and was being controlled by a matured Mr. Mind, who planned to eat reality. However, though this covered why Skeets himself was evil and why several of Booster later actions were disasters, it never addressed why Skeets' earlier memory errors occurred in the first place since they were before Mr. Mind escaped from his cocoon.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search:
    • Many dislike the plot-twist that Zuko isn't Ozai's son, mainly because many fans feel it completely renders pointless a lot of Zuko's character development from the animated series and undermines its original aesop: "You are not your bloodline, your family does not define who you have to be." The comic book later revealed that this twist isn't true, Ursa lied about it. Ozai, in response, promised to never treat Zuko as his son again. This explanation proved to be just as unpopular, if not more so, with many feeling that it reduced Ozai to an over-glorified domestic abuser just to provide some easy sympathy points for Ursa, and/or were not amused by the idea of Zuko being called worthless and lucky to even be alive, and possibly even scarred, humiliated, and banished by his own father, all because of a lie his mother admitted to.
    • In addition, the reveals of how Azulon died and why Ursa disappeared have become divisive in their own right. Ozai, by threatening to kill Zuko, blackmailed Ursa into making a poison solely he could take power, and she intentionally wiped her memories of her time with Ozai and her children after being banished. As most fans thought of Ursa as a Mama Bear who willingly killed her father-in-law to save her son's life, the idea of her being forced to kill by her husband and essentially abandoning her children just to forget him hasn't gone down well with some, especially since the story made it clear that Ozai never truly loved his children beyond their potential firebending prowess.
  • In Batman Beyond:
    • The reason why Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson were estranged from one another was left unexplained. The comic book continuation of the series revealed that Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) after breaking up with Bruce renewed her relationship with Dick. Then she found out that she was pregnant with Bruce's child. This caused a fight between the two men before Barbara miscarried while fighting muggers. Although the offscreen relationship between Bruce and Barbara was already controversial, many fans felt that this plot would be more at home in a soap.
    • The associated comic also explained the reason why Bruce and Diana never got together: she got together with Justice Lord Batman after another adventure concerning the Lords' universe, and stayed there with him until peace was restored during the Beyond timeframe. This one is disliked because it doesn't mesh well with Diana's character: she was Strangled by the Red String with a Replacement Goldfish (since Bruce thought inter-team dating was a bad idea), and she also abandons her world a la Supergirl/Brainiac 5, except with even less reason (she had her home and family to return to, was Ambassador to Man's World, etc.) Furthermore, like Star Wars below, it was an explanation nobody needed or wanted - Bruce's obsession with the cowl is inevitably going to lead to him driving away all his loved ones and friends in the DCAU, we didn't need the additional angst to go with it.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW):
    • Since the My Little Pony: FIENDship Is Magic tackled the backstories of the major-league villains from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, this was inevitable:
      • Good luck finding anyone who views the banishment of the Sirens to the present in Issue #3, thus invalidating their Really 700 Years Old aspect fanon held them to, as necessary or desirable.
      • Nobody liked the Nyx (disparagingly nicknamed the "Moon Furbies") from Issue #4 and the explanation that they create all dreams, nightmares, and Princess Luna's Dream Walking abilities, simply because it was overly silly and killed a lot of the mystique surrounding Luna's ability to enter dreams. The explanation that Princess Celestia had the same ability to enter dreams as Luna was similarly disliked since fans felt it severely diminished what made Luna special, to the point that the show itself explicitly stated otherwise in a later episode. Considering the metric truckload of fan art this franchise generates, it's very telling that this issue and its characters got next to none. The majority of fan art that it did get was made to mock or outright insult it.
      • Issue #5 explained that the holes in the changeling's legs are leftover battle wounds from battling Princess Celestia a thousand years ago. While fans were fine with the idea of Chrysalis herself being that old, most found it odd and off-putting that the entire changeling species was just that one swarm that never aged, healed, or increased in number. Again, this along with their entire origin was given a Discontinuity Nod in the main canon that instead shows that changelings are born with these holes, that they live and age normally, and that the holes and generally emaciated appearance is the result of them constantly being hungry instead.
    • Speaking of backstories, fans were not happy with the way the main series' Cosmos arc effectively whitewashed Discord's past villainy by portraying his past self as the Token Good Sidekick and lovesick character in an abusive relationship — and as a generally well-intentioned character from the beginning and not responsible for any of the actual evil from his first reign — rather than the genuinely villainous and chaotic character the show portrayed him as. The consensus is that this revelation throws Discord's entire characterization from the tv series completely out the window for the sake of establishing Cosmos as a more serious threat, that it profoundly damages the impact of his journey towards good by removing a need for it, that it ruins the significance of Fluttershy being his first friend by establishing that he did in fact have friends in the past, that it robs the character of much of the agency that made him such a memorable villain in the first place, and that it cheapens the series' core theme of The Power of Friendship by revealing he was Good All Along rather than a truly malicious creature who was changed for the better by friendship.
  • Wolverine: The villain Romulus was stated to be behind most of the events in Wolverine's life, up to and including the Weapon X program. Fans prefer the mystery not to be revealed in such a simplistic way or prefer the other dangling plot threads.
  • This is why Trouble is so reviled and isn't really canon with either the main Marvel universe or the Ultimate Marvel one: it attempted to retcon that Spider-Man's father Richard Parker and Aunt May had an affair behind Mary Fitzpatrick and Uncle Ben's back as teens—and that Peter himself was the product of it, much to the hatred of fans and creators.
  • Nearly every X-Men fan hated Chuck Austen's revelation that Nightcrawler's biological father was Azazel — a demon (or possibly demon-like mutant) imprisoned in another dimension. Not only was there very little buildup or foreshadowing for that reveal, several readers were uncomfortable with the idea that the devoutly religious Kurt Wagner was secretly half-demon all along, and many saw it as a shoddy attempt at incorporating Christian mythology into the X-Men mythos (particularly since the same era featured the revelation that Archangel was descended from actual angels). As an alternative, many fans prefer to accept Chris Claremont's original plan for his backstory: Mystique and Destiny are his parents, and Mystique used her shapeshifting powers to temporarily become male so that she and her lover could conceive a child. The character of Azazel has stuck around and made several more well-received appearances (including in the film X-Men: First Class), but to this day no one defends his original story.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Part of the point of Cloverfield is that it doesn't explain anything about the monster's origins. The associated Alternate Reality Game and manga do, slightly, but not necessarily for the better.
  • Star Wars:
    • A lot of fans felt that the inclusion of midichlorians as a "cause" of the Force was an unsatisfying answer to a question no-one asked.
    • Word of God's explanation that the "Balance of the Force" was not in fact the Balance Between Good and Evil but rather the destruction of evil also got a frosty reception in some circles (namely, people who didn't understand that The Force is basically Taoism, IN SPACE!!). This is mainly because the Dark Side had been firmly established as a cosmic force in its own right and so seductive that Force users have to actively resist falling on a constant basis. How killing off one particular group of Dark Side users out of many constitutes "destroying evil" is never explained.
    • The prequel trilogy tells the story of the Clone Wars, the destruction of the Jedi, the creation of the Empire, and the rise of both Darth Vader and Palpatine, all of which had been alluded to but never fully explained. Dissatisfaction with how some or all of those stories turned out accounts for a good portion of the prequel hate.
    • After The Force Awakens gave some implications that Rey might have connections to previous characters, The Last Jedi threw it all away saying her parents were nobodies who sold her for drink money. Such an Anti-Climax did not go lightly with certain fans. The Rise of Skywalker reveals that she's Palpatine's granddaughter, which satisfied most of the fans who were underwhelmed by Rey being a nobody... but annoyed the fans who did like the twist.
    • The Last Jedi reveals after sensing how strong The Dark Side was in his nephew Ben Solo he reflexively attempted to kill him, immediately stopping himself and regretting it, causing him to become Kylo Ren and all the ensuing tragedy and causing Luke's cynical attitude and to stay out of the conflict believing he'd fail again. Many fans, including Luke's actor Mark Hamill, were dissatisfied with this explanation as clashing with Luke's Ideal Hero portrayal. Even those less critical found it flimsy given Luke had gone through similar almost killing Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, which had far better justifications for Luke attempting such.
    • The Rise of Skywalker: Some fans weren't impressed by The Reveal that Palpatine was behind everything yet again (including Snoke) arguing that it feels like a rehash of previous films, wasn't properly foreshadowed, cheapens the Original Trilogy and causes some retroactive Fridge Logic and plot holes (one of the biggest being just how Palpatine survived in the first place and that some of Snoke's actions appear to contradict Palpatine's plans in this movie).
    • Many fans are also not having what Solo brought to the table like the unnecessary and out-of-nowhere explanation of how Han got his surname as well as how the infamous Kessel Run went about.
  • This is one of the biggest reasons why the director's/final cut of Blade Runner is generally considered superior to the theatrical cut. The narration present in the latter removes all the ambiguity that makes the film a classic in the first place.
  • One of the biggest complaints about Highlander II: The Quickening was that it established a mythology that the immortals are aliens from a planet known as Zeist, which only serves to raise more questions. The re-edits establish them as wizards from Earth's distant past. Either way, the film is no longer considered canon with the rest of the series.
  • Some people feel this way about the scene of Roy Neary inside the mothership from the special edition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. One of these people is Steven Spielberg himself, who had never wanted to do that scene in the first place but could only get the money to create a special edition if he included something that a marketing campaign could be hung on. Years later, Spielberg created a director's edition, which removed that scene but kept the other special edition scenes.
  • In a rare example of the fan-disliked explanation happening early in a franchise, George A. Romero's Living Dead Series explains where the zombies are coming from early in the first film. However, the explanation of a "Radioactive Space Probe" didn't quite catch on, and later zombie media generally refuses to concretely explain the origins of the living dead. The universally reviled Night of the Living Dead: 30th Anniversary Edition (a re-release of the movie with added scenes by John Romero, the original's co-writer) instead implies the zombie plague is demonic in origin.
  • Alien:
  • In the Live-Action Adaptation of Attack on Titan, it is revealed that the setting is a post-apocalyptic future and the Titans were a failed government experiment. Needless to say, fans of the anime thought the twist was stupid not only because it was a cliched explanation for how the Titans came to be, but the manga had yet to reveal the origin of the Titans at that time, and it was seen as an example of the movie being In Name Only.
  • Terminator:
    • The novelization of the second film, as well as Cameron's development notes, indicate that the T-1000 bypassed the "nothing dead can time travel" rule by being placed in a "flesh sac" that allowed it to fool the time machine. This explanation was disliked for opening a number of plot holes in the premise, and simply sounding silly. All subsequent entries into the series simply went with the explanation fans had assumed all along: that Mimetic Polyalloy is very good at mimicking flesh.
    • There have been numerous explanations for why Arnold Schwarzenegger's model of Terminator exists and is so popular. A deleted scene in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines indicated that it was modeled on a US Army soldier named William Candy, but not only is the scene it's revealed outrageously over-the-top, but the fact that the US government was planning on creating flesh-covered Terminators also makes no sense and undoes the premise that they were Skynet's creation to begin with.
    • The third film introduced the idea that mechanical Terminators are fueled by nuclear power cells, which have the ability to cause an atomic explosion if ruptured or overloaded. This was met with derision because it raised questions about why the I Cannot Self-Terminate rule exists; if a Terminator's target is trapped or incapacitated (such as Sarah at the end of the first film), that'd be a quick way to get rid of them. It was Hand Waved in that film by that Terminator being a T-850 (a slightly more advanced model), but Terminator Salvation and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles made it standard for every mechanical model.
    • Terminator Salvation introduced the idea that John Connor had to work his way up the ladder in the Resistance, as well as deal with a number of Arbitrary Skeptics in the chain of command. Many fans felt that this demystified Kyle Reese's explanation in the first film (whereas humans had no idea how to fight back until Connor showed up); there was no question that Kyle was an Unreliable Expositor, but his version of events carried the right mix of horror and faint hope.
  • Spectre revealing that the titular organization was behind the actions of all the prior villains in the Daniel Craig era James Bond films and that its leader Franz Oberhauser, a.k.a. Ernst Stravo Blofeld was the adoptive brother of James, who was jealous of him, has upset a number of people for reasons such as the fact that everything bad that has happened to James stemmed from his brother's hatred of him.
  • After fans spent years wondering how the Nick Fury of the Marvel Cinematic Universe lost the vision in his right eye, some were disappointed by the explanation given in Captain Marvel (2019): his eye was scratched out by a Flerken, a tentacled alien posing as a cat, after he tried to be affectionate while she was in a bad mood. As a result, many fans feel that it would have been more satisfying if it weren't explained at all. Considering Fury's Memetic Badass reputation, the idea that he was blinded by a cat didn't strike many people as a fitting backstory, particularly since Captain America: The Winter Soldier implied a much more dramatic story and the reveal unfortunately changes a fittingly Bad Ass Boast to what sounds like an attempt on his part to over-dramatize a cat scratch:
    Nick Fury: The last time I trusted someone, I lost an eye!
  • Us, where it's revealed that The Tethered are the result of an abandoned US Government cloning program. This explanation raises a lot of questions, most of which aren't answered in the movie. It doesn't help that, earlier in the film, a Red Herring explanation that the Tethered are a supernatural punishment for humanity's sins is repeatedly foreshadowed but ultimately proves to be false. As a result, fans have had a worse reaction to it than the reveal in Get Out (which was crazy as well, but more clear-cut within the story).
  • In The Forgotten, it turns out the cause of people's children being retgonned is aliens. Not only is this a cliched explanation to what was happening, but aliens aren't so much as mentioned until the last five minutes of the movie when The Reveal happens.

    Literature 
  • Isobelle Carmody's The Gathering is a young adult horror with a brilliantly foreboding sense of tension, paranoia and discord running throughout the entire story, with the imagery of things in the shadows and the gruesome image of the abattoir and the sense that something very evil has poisoned the whole city and everyone in it by literally poisoning the earth and that only these kids can repair the damage. We know that something big and terrible is going to happen, and we've got everything, including the dark, dismal skies. So the ending including the explanation of what happened to the last group of people who tried, and where the entire school shows up in the abattoir in warpaint, and we see the Big Bad being rather...less than imposing, was a bit of a letdown.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos might well be unknown if not for the championing and hard work of August Derleth... but Derleth's own additions to the Mythos are widely disliked. His quasi-Fan Fiction imposes an orderly conceptual symmetry on it, and deals in humanly recognizable categories of morality — both of which are foreign to Lovecraft's conception, and tend to "domesticate" HPL's cosmic horrors into far duller and more traditional boogeymen.
  • Though Stephen King's The Dark Tower books always suffered from a pretty bad case of Broken Base, the very end of the series — where we finally get a detailed look at the interior of the eponymous tower — was disliked by quite a few fans, who felt that it killed the mystery and enigma behind the Tower, which could otherwise be read as a universal stand-in for almost any unattainable desire. The narrator even warns the reader that he will probably find the epilogue unsatisfying, as it explains what Roland finds there. To elaborate: After seven books of searching for the Tower, Roland finds out that every level of it is filled with relics from various stages of his own life, and that the top floor houses a time warp that erases his memories and sends him back to the beginning of his quest -- but with evidence that one of his greatest failures has been undone. Though some fans liked it, others accused it of being an unsatisfying and unnecessary Mandatory Twist Ending.
  • This is the usual reason people hated the last book in The Pendragon Adventure. The whole existence of Solara seemed to come from nowhere and some important answers (such as who Saint Dane made his promise to) were never answered.
  • Joan Lindsay's novel Picnic at Hanging Rock made its readers produce thousands of guesses about what is behind the girls' disappearances — from the whole thing being the work of a rapist/kidnapper to the headmistress molesting girls and driving them to suicide to the rock itself trapping them inside. After the author's death, the eighteenth chapter with the explanation was finally released. As it turned out, the girls turned into lizards and got sucked into a time warp. The fans felt that it was anticlimactic and nonsensical. Even Peter Weir, the director of The Film of the Book, to whom the author showed the ending chapter, advised her not to publish it and didn't include it in the movie.
  • Hannibal Rising explains that Hannibal's cannibalistic habits are the result of realizing the soup he'd been served by a set of soldiers contained the remains of his little sister, among other details that spoil the mystery of where Hannibal came from and how he became what he is. Harris claims that he never wanted to write a prequel, but was told by his publishers that, if he didn't, they'd find someone else to write it for him.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The reveal via Word of God that Dumbledore is gay was not taken kindly by some fans and critics, who felt that it either went against their mental view of him, or they just thought it was bad representation. The reveal that Dumbledore was once in love with Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard that can be considered Voldemort's precursor likely didn't make things any better.
    • Likewise, the reveal in the fifth book that while Lily's Heroic Sacrifice to protect baby Harry from Voldemort used The Power of Love, the charm required Harry to be sent to live with the Dursleys because he needed to live with a blood relative of Lily's in order for the protections to actually work. Meanwhile, living with a genuinely loving family like the Weasleys, or his equally loving godfather Sirius, would not protect him simply because they weren't blood relatives. This struck many fans as a poorly-written plot convenience to keep Harry with the Dursleys. Moreover, it broke one of the story's most prevalent Aesops — some recurring themes throughout the Harry Potter books are Family of Choice, The Power of Love, and how blood purity is complete hogwash. Except apparently in this one instance of this one spell.
  • The Wicked Years: Many fans dislike that the family tree in A Lion Among Men lists Nessarose as Frexspar's child. In the original Wicked book, it's vague whether Nessarose was the daughter of Melena's husband Frexspar or their mutual lover Turtle Heart. Nessarose has pale skin like Frex (then again, Nessa's sister Elphaba also had a dark-skinned lover but her son was light-skinned) but the time of her conception makes more sense for Turtle Heart. The first book also mentions that Frexspar favors Nessa so much because he sees her as his, Melena, and Turtle Heart's child. Fans prefer that all three Thropp children are half-siblings, rather than Elphaba being the Chocolate Baby.
  • Warrior Cats: Fans wondered why Thistleclaw ended up in the Dark Forest because while he was an aggressive War Hawk, he didn't commit any crimes in his life - and even the attempted murderer Ashfur made it to StarClan. Enter the novella Spottedleaf's Heart, where he essentially became a pedophile grooming Spottedpaw while also training in the Dark Forest. This made the novella one of the most unpopular works in the entire lengthy series, as most felt that the subject matter wasn't handled well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Battlestar Galactica finale reveals exactly what year it is and what's up with the "head people". Since it all amounts to a literal Deus ex Machina, most fans wondered if they even needed to know. On the other hand, it did leave the nature of Kara Thrace up to viewer interpretation.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Robert Holmes was responsible for some of these back in the Classic days:
      • The implied explanation for why the Second Doctor and Jamie look visibly older in "The Three Doctors", "The Five Doctors" and "The Two Doctors", resulting in the events Fan Nicknamed "Season 6B", is still fairly controversial. The theory states that the reason the Doctor can't control the TARDIS is that the Time Lords had been piloting it for him without his knowledge, and after his capture at the end of "The War Games", when the Time Lords appear to alter his appearance and exile him to Earth, he was actually used as a Boxed Crook agent by the Time Lords for centuries until the sentence was carried out, during which he persuaded the Time Lords to let him have his beloved companion Jamie back. The BBC has absorbed this into canon on account of "making sense" and there are several books set during these events, but many fans dislike it for diminishing the beautiful conclusion to the Second Doctor's story, being improbable based on what we actually see in "The War Games" and being rather unnecessarily cruel, forcing the Second Doctor to go through the pain of losing his companions again.
      • The Time Lords were introduced as a Crystal Spires and Togas civilization of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who were "cosmic Buddhists", believing in non-intervention except for occasional, inscrutable actions made from a point of omniscience and taken for the greater good (such as their use of both the Third and Fourth Doctors as Boxed Crooks). Robert Holmes felt this was boring Black-and-White Morality that didn't fit his own worldview, and, Watsonianly, didn't jive with a few throwaway lines made by the Fourth Doctor (like complaining the Time Lords didn't want to sully their "lily-white hands"), and Retconned them irreparably into a Deadly Decadent Court made up of ritual-obsessed old bureaucrats of average intelligence wearing silly hats and backstabbing each other while the poor starve. The fandom at the time was quite outraged, although the benefit of hindsight has made the decision (and the story) much more appreciated. Notably, neither Russell T. Davies nor Mark Gatiss liked this conception of the Time Lords and what we see of them during RTD's tenure is a great deal more godly, although not particularly sympathetic.
    • "Pyramids of Mars" revolves around Sutekh requiring the Doctor to use the TARDIS due to the controls being bonded to him, even though other characters had used the TARDIS in other stories (prominently, Susan and Jo). Holmes suggested to fans that the Doctor may have been lying, but since Sutekh was previously shown to be able to completely read the Doctor's mind, this doesn't seem very plausible.
    • Many fans find the New series' explanation of the Master's turning towards evil (a pattern of pounding drums playing in his head all his life) to be unsatisfactory for many reasons — none of the previous Masters ever suggested it, and any explanation could only ever be disappointing after thirty-six years of speculation. However, the fact that the explanation was an Actor Allusion to John Simm's Caligula (obsessed with the sound of pounding hooves in his head) and employed a lot of Timey-Wimey Ball strongly suggests the explanation was intended to be limited to Simm's incarnation only — the succeeding Gomez incarnation hasn't mentioned drumming at all. The Simm Master in his appearance in "World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls", after resolving his issue with the Time Lords, completely abandons the drumming as an element of his character and is written (by Moffat) more as an arrogant Delgado-Master-type character (apart from the drumming Leitmotif still appearing along with him).
    • The new series made several references to the "Shadow Proclamation", which was apparently some sort of law that nearly every alien species obeyed. Fans speculated on the origins and nature of the Proclamation. Near the end of Tennant's run as the Doctor, it was revealed that the Shadow Proclamation is "a posh term for Space Police". So apparently the Proclamation is not a law but an organization, or if it is a law then there is apparently an organization of the same name which enforces the law. This is a bit like being arrested by "The Constitution" or something.note  It didn't go over very well with fans, and the Shadow Proclamation has barely been mentioned since the Reveal. Russell T. Davies stated the original idea for the Proclamation's appearance in "The Stolen Earth" was to include a large Star Wars prequel-style senate consisting of every single major known race in the galaxy, but going over the budget forced them to scale it down to what was essentially nothing more than a secretarial lobby.
    • In "The End of Time", the Tenth Doctor gives a speech about what regeneration is, in which he explains it as being a death, where "some other man" saunters off. Many fans objected to this, pointing at situations where other incarnations had considered it a rebirth, a healing or a second chance, and thought the speech was a preemptive attempt to guilt-trip fans into considering his yet-to-debut successor a Replacement Scrappy. Later Eleventh Doctor episodes write this off as "ego problems" and the Twelfth Doctor calls regeneration "Man Flu" in "Hell Bent".
    • Davies also claimed that averting this trope was the reason the Last Great Time War was never shown onscreen, as they felt that no matter how spectacular they made it the war would always seem anticlimactic to at least some fans. Successor showrunner Steven Moffat, however, thought he could do it justice and had the Time War appearing and playing a major role in the 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor"; many fans disagreed.
    • Many fans objected to River's revelation that the characteristic TARDIS dematerialisation sound was the result of the Doctor leaving the handbrake on. Not only does this make the Doctor look like an idiot (although the idea he doesn't really know how to fly the TARDIS has been established for decades), but it fails to explain why other TARDISes make the same sound. Word of God is that River was probably just winding him up.
    • In "The Armageddon Factor" we meet a Time Lord named Drax who knew the Doctor before he got his doctorate, and calls him Theta Sigma (or Thete for short). There's nothing in the story suggesting this is a nickname, but the fandom quickly decided it was and this became Ascended Fanon nine years and three Doctors later in "The Happiness Patrol" (and also in a Sixth Doctor Gamebook). Because we're not supposed to know what the Doctor's name is, and it definitely isn't just a couple of Greek letters.
    • "Heaven Sent", in which the Doctor can only get temporary escape from the Veil by confessing truths he never has before, has him admitting that contrary to his usual claims, he didn't leave Gallifrey in the first place because he was bored. Rather, he was scared of... something. No subsequent story has revealed what that was of yet. Thing is, after 50+ years fans came to accept that despite many teases, especially in the new series, the Doctor's backstory, real name, etc. will never be revealed in full because it would never live up to what they've seen him go through on his adventures. Thus, they were perfectly happy with him leaving Gallifrey "just because".
  • Firefly: "The Shepherd's Tale" comic was dedicated to exploring the Mysterious Past of Shepherd Book, whose backstory was hinted at somewhat less-than-subtly but never revealed on the show itself. Now, it was pretty well-known that he'd been quite senior in the Alliance military or policenote , but the twist? He'd started out as a spy for the Browncoats, making him Good All Along... and Jossing the fanon that had him being a disillusioned former patriot. The fandom were, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit disappointed.
  • Life on Mars (2008) and sequel series Ashes to Ashes (2008) had an ending planned from the start (avoiding the mistakes Lost made) but also left many parts of the mystery unresolved (or at least very understated) so that they could be solved by the fans. Notably, the co-creators have different interpretations.
  • Lampshaded in Sherlock, where the writers knew some people would be disappointed by how Sherlock faked his death. Not only did they put in the following lines, but Anderson immediately points out a few flaws and questions if anything Sherlock just told him was the actual truth.
    Anderson: Not the way I'd have done it.
    Sherlock: Oh, really?
    Anderson: Nah, I'm not saying it's not clever, but...
    Sherlock: [flatly] What?
    Anderson: Bit... disappointed.
    Sherlock: [sighs] Everyone's a critic.
  • Later seasons of The X-Files had huge problems because of piling Myth Arc elements that were left unexplained or not addressed sufficiently, but one particular case was closed, and it was very anti-climactic. The fate of Samantha Mulder, Agent Fox Mulder's abducted little sister, was probably the biggest Red Herring of the series. Her abduction triggered Mulder's belief in the paranormal and motivated his career at the FBI and started the pattern of Guilt Complex. Mulder was tormented by her clones and doubles and statements that she's still alive. It was finally revealed that she had been abducted by the conspiracy who had collaborated with the aliens, horrible tests had been performed on her, and then she had lived with the Cancer Man's family. So far so good — fans always suspected something like this. However, when she was 14, she was "saved" by fairies or angels that made her body disappear, meaning that her corpse will never be found, but Mulder did see her ghost.
  • True Blood: The final season revealed why Lettie Mae was so abusive towards Tara: when Tara was young, her father abandoned them, causing Lettie Mae to descent into alcoholism and take out her frustrations on her daughter. Considering her treatment of Tara over the course of the show, most fans found it hard to believe something like that could actually happen to someone. Not to mention that such an important event in Tara and Lettie Mae's relationship should have been mentioned in the previous seasons. If anything, it comes off as a lazy attempt by the writers to conclude as many character arcs as possible before the series finale.
  • Pretty Little Liars: After six seasons of mystery and false suspects, A is finally revealed to be Cece Drake, also known as Charles DiLaurentis, Alison's brother who had a sex change operation. This was a huge source of controversy, and some viewers said there were too many unanswered questions while others pointed out the Unfortunate Implications of the show's only transgender character being the primary antagonist.
  • The Mentalist: The series' long-elusive Arch-Enemy, often outsmarting the already superhumanly intelligent hero, eventually turns out to be just a rural sheriff with friends in high places.
  • Dexter: The final arc heavily hints that Dexter's homicidal tendencies might have been sustained, or even heightened, rather than treated, by the Code he's been taught — it turns out that a certain psychiatrist was obsessed with the concept, after failing to treat her own, truly homicidal, son. Even so, in the finale Dexter decides he is a monster after all, and goes into exile.
  • Twin Peaks: For the central plot of the show, the reveal that Laura Palmer's killer was her father was not only this for fans, but also for series creator David Lynch, who never wanted to reveal the answer to who killed her in the first place, but had to due to Executive Meddling. This reveal in fact contributed to the series' eventual cancellation.
  • Ever since its introduction in the books of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the contents of the sugar bowl MacGuffin have been a huge source of debates with the fans. Handler himself gave implications as to the contents of the sugar bowl in interviews, but not everyone actually knew this, and he never gave any concrete answers. Well, when the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017) aired its third season which revealed what was inside the Sugar Bowl, a way to make yourself immune to the Medusoid Mycelium, well, a surprising number of people came out and said this was Adaptation Decay. This is an exceptionally interesting case of this reaction, as the show's answer had been the most common fan theory all along.
  • Watchmen (2019) spends most of its runtime deliberately keeping the audience in the dark about what Adrian Veidt's "prison" is, and how he got there. After seven episodes of buildup (with increasingly surreal imagery just generating more questions with every episode), some viewers were rather underwhelmed by The Reveal that it was a space colony on Europa, and Doctor Manhattan sent him there. Relatedly: that revelation also settled the question of what "life" Doctor Manhattan created after the events of the original book; not everyone found "a living ecosystem on Jupiter's moon" to be a satisfying answer.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE:
    • The fact that Bohrok are actually dead Av-Matoran, as it retroactively made the earlier story unsettling (Matoran fighting against creatures born out of their deceased relatives, often with battle machines built out of Bohrok parts) and was just creepy. The revelation also comes out of nowhere.
    • The reason why Orde is male and the rest of his kind are female: his creators were sexist. Also controversial because allegedly Orde's gender was set in stone by a mere typo.
    • Most fans seemed to have accepted Mata Nui's nature well enough, but his backstory and its timeline are more cases of a Broken Base, as from a logical and logistic standpoint, they make no sense, and also retroactively demystify most of the fantasy-aspects of the story in favor of very soft sci-fi.

    Video Games 
  • After Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep revealed Xehanort's backstory, it was implied that at least some of Ansem's and Xemnas's actions were All According to Plan for him. But when Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance revealed that he'd been using overcomplicated Time Travel to micromanage them into fulfilling his secret Assimilation Plot all along, many fans just saw it as a cheap Shocking Swerve that devolved him into an annoying Invincible Villain and reduced all of the prior games to one big Shoot the Shaggy Dog story just for the sake of easy hype for Kingdom Hearts III.
    • At the end of III, Xehanort is revealed to be a genuine Well-Intentioned Extremist out to Restart the World to restore the balance between Light and Darkness. However, this goes against everything that we know about Xehanort; while the journal entries in Birth by Sleep claim that he desires balance between Light and Darkness; in the games themselves, he had been up to that point a gleeful devotee of Darkness alone. Not to mention that just before the Final Boss takes place, Xehanort has just flat-out murdered Kairi just to provide a motivation for Sora to fight. The fact that he gets Easily Forgiven by his former friend and number one victim Eraqus for his actions doesn't help, especially after Eraqus's previous attempt to forgive him backfired horribly in Birth by Sleep.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The official timeline of the series. One of the biggest fanon debates in video game history was explained in an official art book titled Hyrule Historia, confirming that the series had not two, but THREE parallel timelines (all of them originated in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time). There are fans who consider this to be a Writer Cop Out instead of providing a much stronger explanation (despite Nintendo frequently claiming the timeline was documented since long before its reveal). Indeed, there's a significant group of fans who are opposed to any attempt to give the series a timeline.
    • Many fans disliked Skyward Sword's explanation as to where Ganondorf came from— that he's an incarnation of hatred created by Demise in his dying moments to curse Link and Zelda for defeating him—as they feel it robs Ganondorf of agency and/or diminishes him as the Big Bad of the series in favor of a new villain who will probably never be seen again.
    • The Link from the Oracle games is the same Link from A Link To The Past according to Hyrule Historia. Many fans reject this because he looks a lot younger and the Zelda of the Oracle titles uses a completely different design from the ALTTP Zelda and doesn't recognize him when they meet.
  • This was one of the main criticisms of Condemned 2: Bloodshot; which pulled a Doing In the Wizard to explain a lot of the events of Condemned: Criminal Origins. In Criminal Origins Ethan Thomas goes through an army of insane homeless people while pursuing a serial killer, and there are hints that something supernatural is what's making all the homeless people crazy. Bloodshot reveals that there is nothing supernatural going on, instead an Ancient Conspiracy had put devices that look like smoke detectors around the city that made a supersonic noise which drove everyone crazy. Not only did this come off as silly and underwhelming, it still did not explain everything, like the monster that was following Ethan in the first game.
  • The Metal Gear series is notorious for its often polarizing retcons, and as such there are many examples:
    • As Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was trying to tie up every loose end, it is the biggest example. Many fans took issue with how most of the paranormal events in both it and the previous games were explained away with nanomachines, how the likable supporting cast of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater were revealed to be the originators of The Patriots, how Big Boss was brought back in the most contrived way possible to denounce his character-defining ideals and how Liquid Snake's return in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty was undermined (and arguably retconned) by the reveal that Liquid Ocelot in Guns of the Patriots is just Ocelot under hypnosis. Some fans have even argued that the very existence of Guns of the Patriots as a sequel to Sons of Liberty undermines the meta-narrative of the latter game, as Kojima never intended to wrap up the loose ends (at least not himself) and indeed was trying to communicate something by leaving them ambigious. This is substantiated by the fact that mass outrage and death threats from the fanbase was what forced him to develop 4.
    • While the release of more games starring Big Boss has been welcomed by many fans, others have pointed out that it waters down the powerful ending of Snake Eater, which poetically illustrates exactly how Big Boss became the bad guy he was in the original games through The Boss' death.
    • The ending of Metal Gear Solid V has been met with controversy for how it somewhat cynically explains the makings of Big Boss' legendary status in the games starring Solid Snake: It's revealed that Big Boss turned one of his own men into a hypnotized body double that could act as his persona on the world stage while the real Big Boss could hide from his enemies.
      • On an interesting note, some have praised The Phantom Pain for how it managed to make Zero's turn to villainy seem more plausible. However, if you were completely turned off by this reveal in Guns of the Patriots, this might not do much to change your mind.
  • Touhou runs on this: the game developer, ZUN, decided to leave most canon details vague and background/personalities open to detail since he found that the openness to interpretation of the games is what attracted such a large fanbase. There are expanded universe materials - which usually include subversions of popular fan interpretations - which often cause flamewars to break out over the canonicity, or are disregarded or changed by fans.
  • Likewise, one of the many reasons Star Control 3 is considered Fanon Discontinuity by many is because it answered all the major cosmic mysteries brought up in Star Control 2, in an infodump that takes four YouTube videos to cover. And most of the answers are the very definition of Fridge Logic. The developers of the first two games would later render the third game Canon Discontinuity.
  • Ultima IX revealed that the Guardian was actually an Enemy Without created from the Player Character's evil which was cast aside when the latter became the Avatar in IV. This was considered rather underwhelming (after several games and almost 10 years of build-up), as well as somewhat inconsistent with the previously established story (VII and especially Underworld II implied he was a full blown Multiversal Conqueror). It's also felt by many fans to be contrary to the lore and the entire moral of the forth game that the Avatar is still a flawed human being.
  • One of the main complaints of Tales of Vesperia was how some of the plot threads were either given haphazard resolutions or dropped entirely. Most however, such as Yuri's vigilante actions, were given decent resolutions.
  • Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight set out to resolve the many questions surrounding Kane, but it's agreed by most of the fanbase that it simply created more questions.
  • Pokémon:
    • Fans of the "Striaton Trio are really the Shadow Triad" fanon were not happy when Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 jossed that theory.
    • Fans didn't like The Reveal that N isn't Ghetsis's biological son, he just found N in the wild as he was Conveniently an Orphan, feeling that it's a lazy explanation that severely demystifies Ghetsis and his plans.
    • Several fans didn't like the reveal that Lusamine, the main antagonist of Pokémon Sun and Moon, used to be a morally decent person, before a combination of grief over the disappearance her husband Mohn, (all but outright stated to be the same Mohn running the Poke Pelago mini-game, having lost his memories in said disappearance) and neurotoxin from the Ultra-Beast Nihilego drove her insane. This basically boiled down to them feeling that this reveal whitewashed her actions, up to and including emotional and verbal abuse, robbed the story of any real villain apart from Faba, and/or was just a lazy attempt at humanizing her.
  • The ending of Mass Effect 3 caused an uproar among fans, who started not just a petition, but raised $80,000 in only a few days for charity to get Bioware to change it. Much of this was caused by a lack of explanation of the events of the ending, but many disliked the explanation for the existence of the Reapers. Which is that they are synthetics created to destroy organics... so that they cannot create synthetics that will destroy organics. The Reapers don't consider what they do to organics to be "destroying organic life," but since it involves liquefying them and building a new Reaper out of the resulting goo, most organics (and players) consider it a meaningless distinction. The fact that an early draft of the script containing What Could Have Been potentially a much more interesting explanation leaked months before the game's release didn't help. The Extended Cut DLC went some way to appeasing the fandom, by showing in more detail the consequences of whatever decision Shepard makes, as well as including new scenes to each ending so that they were no longer identical as before. It, along with the later Leviathan DLC, also revealed that the AI that created the Reapers was acting out a Zeroth Law Rebellion caused by flawed instructions from its creators.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • After Five Nights at Freddy's 4's release, Scott had planned to allow a means of opening the mysterious box at the end of the game, which he claimed had "all the pieces [of the story] put together," but went back on those plans to avoid having it be one of these.
    • The "Insanity Ending" of Freddy Fazbear's Pizzeria Simulator briefly mentions a substance called "remnant", heavily implied to be connected to how spirits possess animatronics over the series. This is a threefold case: fans don't like how the mystery and horror of the animatronics is given a sci-fi explanation; as an explanation for how Michael Afton haunts his own corpse in the last game, it raises further questions; and as a possible explanation for the Purple Guy/William Afton's motives (which is further suggested by the third novel), it turns a hauntingly realistic Serial Killer into a cartoonish Mad Scientist.
  • The explanation for the second generation characters in Fire Emblem Fates left a bitter taste in a lot of fans' mouths. Fates's child units have little to no bearing on the game's main plot, were born during the events of the game (with little more than a quick mention when the player unlocks their first one), and were left in alternate dimensions to be raised by vassals. Players picked up on the Fridge Horror and other squicky implications note , leading to the mechanic being much less warmly received than it was in the previous game, where the mechanic was explained by Time Travel elements that were already a part of the main story.
  • There are many fans of Final Fantasy who love both Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy VII, but reject the Canon Welding that states that Shinra from Final Fantasy X-2 ends up travelling into space and becoming the inventor of VII's Mako technology and the progenitor of the Shinra Electric Company. Some reject it because both games have some of the most unique, detailed, and complete worldbuilding in the series, so going with this theory involves attempting to reconcile different magic rules, afterlife mythologies, historical details, and so on. Some don't like it because it involves a reasonably sympathetic character being indirectly responsible for nearly killing a living planet. Some don't like X-2 and think Fan Wanking it to VII is mild Canon Defilement. Some just reject it for being a silly bit of attempted fanservice that no-one actually wanted.
  • A Warcraft example is the existence of Garona Halforcen from the original RTS games. In those games, she is described as half-human, which worked at the time, as there were no details about the length the First War between the Orcs and Humans. About a decade worth of retcons later, suddenly her being half-human and as old as she was made no sense. So they retconned her into a half draenei who had her body manipulated to appear half human. This was met with varying degrees of acceptance to annoyance, particularly because it was part of a story dealing with a very controversial character.
  • There are many fans who enjoyed Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time and yet reject it treating Penelope's Face–Heel Turn as their being Evil All Along due to completely contradicting their characterization prior, believing instead they slipped into villainy between games.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • A lot of fans weren't particularly happy that after two games of hints that Shadow might be an android, the end of Shadow the Hedgehog has Eggman state that he lied about Shadow being an android and he actually had a robot rescue him after the events of Sonic Adventure 2. Not only was this considered a cop-out (especially since Shadow doesn't even react), it's unceremoniously stated seven minutes into the final boss fight, meaning that players may beat the boss faster than that and never even hear this reveal, making many wonder why they even bothered.
    • Classic Sonic being from an alternate dimension separate from the Modern games, rather than being Modern Sonic's past self as was implied in Sonic Generations, is generally disliked by fans for similar reasons to the "two worlds" explanation note , along with the fact that it feels more like an excuse to pump out more appearances for the Classic Sonic (who has gradually become a Base-Breaking Character due to perceived nostalgia pandering). It hasn't helped that it was confirmed that due to this aspect, characters heavily associated with the "Classic" universe (namely Mighty, Ray, Fang/Nack, Bean, and Bark) can no longer appear in either the Modern games or the comic books, locking characters that were reintroduced through Sonic Mania to a continuity that is scarcely used.
    • When Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was announced, Word of God said that Sonic & Tails' and Knuckles' stories in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 take place at exactly the same time. The fanbase immediately got angry over this due to evidence that implies Knuckles' story takes place after Sonic's, even accusing Sega of being a Lying Creator.
    • Sonic being from a World of Funny Animals and dimension-hopping bugged a large portion of the fanbase because it contradicts the games between Adventure and Unleashed.
  • [PROTOTYPE 2] had Alex Mercer turn evil and release another plague in New York after he risked his life to save it after the events of the first game. What led to this sudden shift in motivation and personality is left vague in the game itself, but it's explained in the tie-in comic The Anchor that after finding out the original Alex Mercer started the plague to begin just to spite his pursuers and the one we play is just a Blacklight Virus clone that assumed his memories, he lost faith in mankind and went on a soul searching trip around the world hoping to find something to believe in, but he ended up only finding more reasons to hate humans. What cemented his belief that they must be destroyed was an incident when he was backstabbed by a family he was trying to help, but were revealed to be selfish criminals. The fans were displeased that the original game's Anti-Hero turned into the new Big Bad and this explanation did not help matters.
  • Wing Commander III revealed that Hobbes, the heroic Kilrathi, was actually a Manchurian Agent working for The Empire. Needless to say, a lot of fans felt that this twist completely missed the whole point of the character.
  • The creator of We Happy Few stated in an interview that they invented the Crapsaccharine World of Wellington Wells, where Happiness Is Mandatory and achieved by the use of a government-distributed psychosis-inducing euphoric hallucinogen called Joy, as a critique of the idea of "unhappiness is unnecessary when drugs are available" and of the modern phenomena of "safe spaces", where people are prohibited from discussing things deemed "too upsetting". Fans reacted by rejecting both opinions, arguing that the former was feeding misinformed negative stereotypes about anti-depressants as being a "luxury" rather than an actual necessity and that the latter was bland and uninteresting. Instead, fans created and latched onto the idea that Joy is a metaphor for how countries (particularly police states) cover up their atrocities and poor situations with propaganda instead of admitting the truth, especially about their compliance in these things.
  • Bringing up the novel Revan on a Knights of the Old Republic fan board is something best done with caution. In the original games, it's implied that Revan and Malak fell to the Dark Side either as a result of their search for the Star Forge or intentionally to protect the galaxy from "the True Sith". As a result, a lot of fans were annoyed with the book's explanation that they only went to the Dark Side due to being brainwashed by the Sith Emperor, ruler of the aforementioned True Sith and Big Bad of Star Wars: The Old Republic.
  • When Overwatch decided to give Pharah a Native American costume, there was social justice outcry over giving someone of Egyptian ethnicity such a costume. In response to this, Blizzard Entertainment gave Pharah Native American heritage to justify the costume, which fans didn't take kindly to since they saw giving her such heritage as completely unnecessary.

    Visual Novels 
  • Zero Escape:
    • The ending of Zero Time Dilemma has the series' antagonist claim that all of his actions have actually been to prepare the protagonists to track down and stop a Greater-Scope Villain who has never been even hinted at before. The characters don't necessarily buy his good intentions, but it seems as though everything that Virtue's Last Reward built up about Brother and Left is made irrelevant by this last-minute new characterization.
    • Among other plot points from Virtue's Last Reward that did not return in ZTD, there was a conspicuous lack of any followup on the secret ending of VLR. The creator eventually clarified that that ending was not canon because it took place on a higher layer of reality and that when important character Kyle was heavily implied to appear in ZTD, what it actually meant was that Kyle would appear in our reality in the year ZTD takes place. As you can probably guess from that description, this was not taken well.
  • The climax of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony reveals that the entirety of the game is an in-universe reality show inspired by the Danganronpa franchise, that the events of the game were for the entertainment of the viewers (i.e. us), and that all the characters were nobodies that were selected to be in Danganronpa and were given Fake Memories to suit the archetypes they were chosen to be. Discovering this, the survivors decide to end Danganronpa once and for all and fight against the audience themselves, who end up losing interest in the franchise. Fittingly, this explanation made a number of fans angry and even caused some of them to disown the franchise. However, there are also a number of fans that love this kind of ending to the game.
  • The remake-exclusive bonus case of the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney decided to put to rest the rumors that Miles Edgeworth would sometimes fake evidence in order to ensure a guilty verdict by revealing that they were nothing but nasty rumors and that he never faked evidence. A number of fans didn't like this reveal due to the fact that it renders a lot of Edgeworth's Character Development in the game moot.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • The Review Must Go On, the final episode of Demo Reel and a pilot for the revival of The Nostalgia Critic, revealed that Donnie Dupre and the Critic are the same person. The events from the former were a purgatory experience he had after he merged with the Plot Hole in To Boldly Flee, partially because of a paradox wherein he willing did something he was written to do, partially to learn how it felt to make bad movies. The video ends with him returning to his reality while his friends from Demo Reel fade away. While some fans were okay with this, and Word of God is that it was intended as a Downer Ending, others hated it, feeling that it invalidated the entire story line of Demo Reel and The Critic's Heroic Sacrifice (if not his entire character arc) from To Boldly Flee, just to bring back The Nostalgia Critic after creator Doug Walker explicitly stated that he wouldn't.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Legend of Korra, the explanation that Amon's ability to take away bending was actually bloodbending that didn't require a full moon, an ability he got from his crime-boss father Yakone and shared with his brother, Tarrlok, and that Yakone putting his sons through Training from Hell to the point of abuse was why Amon felt he had to take away everybody's bending, was seen as this for various reasons; with many feeling as though it wasn't as interesting as Amon's fake backstory as being a non-bender who was given his ability by the spirits after having his face scarred and his family killed by a firebender, or just thought it was lazy to introduce another villain at the tail end of the Story Arc. The fact that it unintentionally canonized an aspect of one of the community's most infamous works almost certainly didn't help.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! hints in episode #35 that the Secretary of Defense, Dell Rusk,spoiler  has an Evil Plan. It also reveals that the Winter Soldier, The Falcon, Red Hulk, and Dr. Leonard Samson assisted him. Fans theorized that they would assist the plan as Unwitting Pawns, who only want to serve America. When episode #46 delivered a throwaway line revealing that Red Skull just turned them Brainwashed and Crazy, those same fans exclaimed that their real reason for helping sounded cheaper than their theory.
  • A number of Batman Beyond fans weren't fond of the mind control DNA chip plot device in Return of the Joker, thinking the film would have had a stronger impact with Tim snapping due to his past torture and becoming the Joker entirely by himself.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • The creator stated this trope is why he ultimately decided against revealing what Edd was hiding under his hat.
    • Word of God has regularly stated that Plank is just a normal piece of wood. Fans feel that its a Troll answer, as it doesn't explain the weird things Plank does on his own.
  • You'll be hard-pressed to find a fan of The Transformers who thinks that Season 3's revelation of Unicron — the planet-eating-planet/Giant robot and Satanic Archetype of the Transformers mythos — being created by this silly-looking alien monkey thing named Primacron was a good idea. Hasbro seems to agree, as all later depictions of Unicron ignore Primacron in favour of the Primus/Unicron myth used in the Marvel comic.
    • To a lesser extent, most fans tend to brush off the explanation that Quintessons created Transformers in favor of Primus as creator.
  • This trope is the reason why Transformers Animated didn't reveal the origins of the AllSpark; the creators stated that they didn't want to run the risk of making the artifact less interesting, too bizarre to suspend disbelief, getting in the way of the story they wanted to tell, or some combination. The theory that it was related to Primus was also Jossed because the creators of the series weren't too keen on the religious cosmology of the broader franchise, and instead made him and Unicron large and powerful but utterly mundane in origin. Including the unpopular explanation of Unicron being built by Primacron.
  • Quite a few fans of Transformers: Prime along with the rest of the Aligned universe, don't like the identity of the unnamed Thirteenth Prime as given in Transformers: The Covenant of Primus, who turned out to be Optimus Prime. The general dislike toward it boils down to undermining the feeling that he got where he did due to the hardships he faced, and that he was basically destined to lead the Autobots instead.
  • Danny Phantom: According to Word of God, the "ghosts" are actually creatures from another dimension who sometimes take on the appearance, memories and personalities of dead people. This explanation has been universally disliked by fans for being nonsensical and just generally messing up the whole plot of the show. The show itself seems to ignore this explanation often enough, as seen with the backstories for characters such as Desiree, Sidney Poindexter, and Cujo, who seem to be simply spirits of the deceased. Even the show's Wiki ignores this explanation.
  • Steven Universe: The show has had a major case of Broken Base since at least the second season, so several revelations have caused some backlash over the years.
    • There's a vocal portion of the fanbase who didn't like several writers, including series creator Rebecca Sugar herself, declaration that the Gems don't actually have any gender, they just present themselves as female. A lot of this dislike boils down to feeling that it was either bad representation (since it never comes up in the show itself, which treats the Gems as women), was as nonsensical as all the Gems being women, or were just disappointed that they're ideas of male Gems were completely debunked. Though it should be noted that Rebecca Sugar coming out as non-binary in 2018, and her statements that the Gems were made that way as a means of exploring her own Gender Identity, helped to warm several fans up to the idea.
    • In "A Single Pale Rose", it was revealed that Pink Diamond, the Diamond who owned Earth back when it was a Gem colony, and Rose Quartz, Steven's mother who gave up her physical form to give birth to him, were the same person. Rose Quartz was just an alias used by Pink Diamond in her attempts to get the other Diamonds to abandon Earth, and Pearl was literally owned by her. When Pink's plan backfired, she faked her shattering with Pearl and adopted the Rose identity full time, with inadvertently lead to the corruption of all the Gems remaining on Earth except for herself, Pearl, Garnet, and the yet to be created Amethyst. Though some fans actually loved this twist, others hated it, feeling that it undermined Pearl's feelings for Rose if not her entire agency by making her Rose's slave, sent Rose over the line by making her indirectly responsible for all the events of the series, and/or were not amused by the idea that the rebellion was started by one of the rulers of Homeworld.
  • The Lion Guard gives us the first explanation into Scar's backstory since the semi-canon books The Lion King: Six New Adventures. note  In TLG Scar was the previous leader of The Lion Guard whose powers got to his head. After murdering the other members, his powers were taken away by the Great Kings of the Past. Many fans absolutely loathe this explanation to his Start of Darkness, as the concept of "The Roar of the Elders" is heavily fantastical compared to the movies and said explanation implies that Mufasa never punished his brother for murder.
  • In the Milo Murphy's Law / Phineas and Ferb Crossover, four years after the latter show ended, it's explained that Phineas and Ferb impact probability similar to how Milo does, and all the Contrived Coincidences from Phineas are examples. When Milo is around, whatever can go wrong will go wrong; "the Phineas and Ferb Effect" sees to it that the boys will succeed in nearly anything they want to do. Some fans were displeased by the Retcon as they feel it undermines their powerful sibling bond, unwavering optimism, inventive knack and creative spirits in favor of their success being Because Destiny Says So.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Applejack's parents are both deceased, and fans almost universally liked and accepted the idea that Applejack's hat was a Tragic Keepsake from one of them to the point that it fell into Word of Dante territory. Then one of the shorts torpedoed that headcanon by having her declare she won it bobbing for apples at a fair. Fans were quick to fanwank a compromise. When that was further jossed by showing she has a closet full of identical hats, the bronies proved they were that dedicated to the Tragic Keepsake idea and still insisted that one of the hats was special or simply chose to ignore the closet gag altogether. When she threw her damaged hat away without any of the angst that would support the fanon, fans threw the hat a quick funeral, and still embraced the Tragic Keepsake fanon. Some less seriously than others. The eventual reveal that her father did wear an identical hat remedied this for a lot of fans, for if nothing else, Applejack got her fashion sense from him even if she didn't get the hat itself.
    • Nightmare Moon's origin was left mysterious for several seasons and thus most fans were under the impression Luna's turn into Nightmare Moon was purely the result of her giving in to her own feelings of being overshadowed and under-appreciated by the ponies of Equestria. The IDW comics, however, gave a backstory that Luna that stated she was transformed by outside sources. Though whether the comics are canon or not is a rather spicy topic, many fans never the less dislike this explanation because they felt it took away a lot of what made Nightmare Moon, and subsequently Luna's backstory, interesting. The season 4 opener, which shows Luna becoming Nightmare Moon, also reveals that Nightmare Moon was defeated before doing anything worse than trying to bring about eternal night and managing to briefly knock out Celestia, which was disappointing for such an anticipated event and made Luna's guilt over it come off as silly and overblown to some fans, to the point of Fridge Logic unless they take later comics as canon.
    • "Tanks for the Memories" implying that less than a year has passed in the series since "May the Best Pet Win". Many fans found it utterly ridiculous that three seasons' worth of episodes all happened to take place within such a short time frame.
    • Starlight Glimmer went from very popular to very controversial immediately after "The Cutie Re-Mark" rivaled her Start of Darkness was caused by her childhood friend Sunburst leaving for magic school after getting his cutie mark. Starlight was well received for addressing the disturbing implications of cutie marks making her a complex, well-intentioned and realistic villain. All this was invalided by the reveal that her motivation amounted to a childish temper tantrum, causing the anticipated addressing of cutie marks be discarded and forgotten. This also made Starlight Unintentionally Unsympathetic due to her seemingly never trying to stay in touch with Sunburstnote  and how Easily Forgiven she was and would continue to be despite committing the shows most seriously portrayed evildoingsexplanation  despite her Freudian Excuse being what Moondancer and Apple Bloom went though without turing to villainy. It also led to Fridge Logic over how Starlight didn't wind up in magic school like Sunburst despite her prodigious magical ability demonstrated this episode which further undercut the validity of her motives. Many Fix Fics followed rewriting or adding to Starlight's backstory to give her better motivation, have others react with disappointment or call out how weak her excuse was, or give Starlight more karma or atonement. Meanwhile the show would treat her Dark and Troubled Past as a Running Gag, the closest it got to addressing it showing she had an otherwise idealistic childhood and a doting father with her "dark past" amounting to a Cutaway Gag, invalidating whatever legitimacy her Freudian Excuse could have had.
    • "The Crystalling" state Flurry Heart was the first alicorn born in Equestria's history. The implication Luna and Celestia weren't born alicorns irked many fans who headcanoned them as from a race of natural alicorns. The author of The Journal of the Two Sisters which did portray them as such argued this could be their being born before Equestria's founding, but this isn't implied in the show, which would further contradict Journal later.
    • The revelation that changelings turn into bright, colorful, fairy-like creatures reminiscent of G1's flutterponies when they turn good and stop stealing love. A very long-accepted Fanon was that changelings were a Henchmen Race bordering on Woobie Species enslaved by an Evil Queen and fully able to be Friendly Neighborhood Vampires or outright turn good, and when it was revealed they could but would change fully in behavior and appearance when they did didn't sit well with a lot of fans. Simply preferring their darker cooler designs and They Changed It, Now It Sucks! counts for a lot as well. The later reveal that some lost their wings and some lost their horns also received a rather frosty reception, as fans saw this as a Redemption Demotion that implies their original forms were stronger as well as it making them too much like the ponies. Though King Thorax and Ocellus are quite popular, it's very telling that even after a couple of years, the majority of changeling fan-art and Original Characters are still depicted in their old forms even if they are good-aligned characters.
    • The stated reason for Celestia and Luna retiring and Passing the Torch to Twilight in the final season is that "Equestria is currently enjoying its longest period of harmony in recent years." Given the frequency Equestria has been threatened throughout the series, it's inconceivable Equestria would have survived this long if this was considered peaceful. Nor would it justify the haste to do so despite Twilight's lack of political experience verses Celestia's millennia of it. Anything that could rationalize thisexamples  would provided a better explanation than what was given. Even those who don't pull Fanon Discontinuity on their retiring ignore the stated reason as suspect bordering on factually incorrect.
    • In the Grand Finale, Arc Villain Grogar was revealed to actually be Discord in disguise, with the whole Legion of Doom thing merely being a Batman Gambit / False Flag Operation to give Twilight Sparkle a confidence boost. This has drawn a lot of ire as it would be within his power to create fake villains or threats so there was no need to use genuine ones could pose genuine threat. Many felt it would have been forgivable if Discord intended to reform them with via The Power of Friendship as he was, showing his Character Development. Instead it made a needlessly idiotic plan and cast aside Discord's development for what's seen as a cheap plot twist.
  • For Gravity Falls, the creator Jossed that the Pines family are practicing Judaists. He states that Grunkle Stan was raised as such but became an atheist, and the twins are being raised nonreligious but are prone to celebrating Jewish holidays, (similar to himself and his own twin sister). Some fans continue to reject this idea and unlike other examples of this trope, The creator also declared after saying the above that he's also perfectly fine with Death of the Author being at play in this situation.
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • The Reveal in Timmy's Secret Wish! that Timmy made a wish 50 years ago to freeze time so he could stay 10 forever received scorn for similar reasons, as well as being an outright Justification for a Floating Timeline.
    • A few fans were already irritated with Cosmo's increasing lack of intelligence, and "The Origins of Crocker" all but outright stating that he was what caused Crocker's Start of Darkness (until Timmy, in an attempt to stop it, rewrites time so that he causes it) did them no favors.

Alternative Title(s): Leave The Plot Threads Hanging

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