Follow TV Tropes



Go To

Holistics, or holism, states that all things are interconnected. Things are but elements of a bigger system and phenomena can't be explained unless one references the whole. In Real Life, it's a scientific approach to studying complex systems. In fiction, however, it has a very different usage —unrelated events are interconnected solely to screw over the characters, preferably humorously. Basically, everything is interconnected... for the worse. Meet Hellistics, Holistics from Hell.

Sometimes, it happens because someone was acting like a jerk and this is their karmic retribution. Other times, it's just because someone is a Cosmic Plaything. Tough luck, buddy.

Classic adventure games operate under this principle, from the early text-based adventures to the super high-tech graphics-based LucasArts and Sierra ones.

Sub-Trope of Contrived Coincidence, when unlikely stuff happens for plot reasons and nobody In-Universe notices. Compare Laser-Guided Karma (when rewards or punishment for good/bad deeds has excellent timing), Can't Get Away with Nuthin' (when any form of rule-breaking is Tempting Fate), and The Chew Toy (when a character designed to suffer for the audience's amusement).


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • A Certain Magical Index: GREMLIN tries to make an Esper based on Holism, who would change the macroscopic world to achieve a microscopic effect.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka:
    • Onizuka is on a train on the way to his last-chance interview for a teaching position. He spots an old man fondling a woman's behind and, being the direct sort, headbutts him. Good coincidence: the young woman is also applying for a position at the same school and is grateful for his help. Bad coincidence: the old man is the principal of the school and the one interviewing him.
    • Interestingly enough, Onizuka is for seemingly unrelated reasons the name of the man's wife's and daughter's pet dog, who hates him and has apparently been trained to pee in his shoes. ...Actually, both this series and its chronological prequel do a lot to show everybody getting in everybody's (even their own) way regardless of whether they're trying to. The closest thing there seems to be to a moral is something like "You can only help being your own bad guy, so admit who you are, loosen up, live free and dirty, and accept the world will still dish out grief."
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2016), a conversation with Telma prompts Link to (correctly) suspect that his Doomed Hometown, recently sacked second hometown, and the ominous activity around Hyrule Castle Town are fate's response to his lukewarm reception towards the Call to Adventure.

  • Children of the Lamp: Philippa grants a police officer three wishes. One of these wishes results in Layla Gaunt's body being incinerated by a volcano.
  • Dirk Gently: The title character, a holistic private investigator, is always in the middle of The End of the World as We Know It thanks to a string of ridiculous coincidences; the first book alone involves a crash-landed Ancient Astronaut, a malfunctioning robotic monk, and time travel leading to an old college friend of Dirk's becoming a murder suspect.
  • Harlan Ellison's short story "The Man Who Was Heavily Into Revenge" exaggerates this, as the Jerkass protagonist finds that the entire universe is apparently out to get him in the name of the man he wronged, including a dog and in-animated objects such as an elevator door and a car door. after he does himself in, it is implied that the very same fate will befall the man the main character wronged

    Live-Action TV 
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm: Larry's Jerkass behavior often causes him to get screwed over because of this trope.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: In the episode where Will and Lisa are supposed to get married, Lisa's dad complains about some battleaxe of a woman who he had to sit next to on the plane ride there. Then Will's mom arrives and complains about some man she sat next to who called her a battleaxe. Will and Lisa decide to let them have dinner together so they'll start to like each other. Meanwhile, Will is having doubts about his upcoming marriage to Lisa. When he goes to talk to his mom about it, he finds that she slept with Lisa's dad. At the altar, Will and Lisa end up canceling their marriage...and Will's mom and Lisa's dad decide to get married in their place.
  • Seinfeld:
    • George needs a car battery to power up an arcade game, so Kramer's friend carries said battery at night. Meanwhile, Jerry has to remain with a girlfriend he loathes because he heard some news of a serial beheader and mistakes Kramer's friend with the battery for the psycho carrying a head.
    • The "maroon Golf" Jerry ("black Saab") blocked in traffic and who paid him back.
  • Workaholics: The guys nearly hit a man in their car while driving to work. At the office, they discover a visiting company executive is that man. Turns out to be an example for the exec too, as he was trying to get hit by a car.

    Video Games 
  • Ghost Trick: An undercover cop working as a waitress at a restaurant spies a couple of suspicious foreigners, and plants a bug in their food to be monitored by her colleague. One of them spots it and burns it, causing the one listening to receive extreme feedback. This knocks him out, causing the van he was driving to crash into the same restaurant, killing him and one of the patrons.

  • Misfile: Missi causes problems between Heather and Emily, to be solved on the tracks. Emily wins. Heather gets pissed. Heather gets a prodigy to try to beat Ash. Said prodigy and Eponine, a friend of Cassiel, hit it off at a party. Cassiel takes it upon herself to try to help said prodigy win the race with magic. Rumisiel attempts to keep Cassiel from rigging the race, which causes Logan to crash. The police arrive to check up on the accident, also finding Emily, who they were looking for since she ran off in the middle of the night to watch said race. Emily's mother blames the night on Ash, forbidding Emily to hang out anymore, though Molly quickly steps in and takes the blame while also calling Ms. McArthur out on being so overbearing toward Emily. This results in Ash inviting Missi. Long story short, Ash eats with Missi somewhere. Getting out of said eating place, Ash and Missi are approached by two men who hint at raping them before the aforementioned prodigy shows up and threatens to call the cops.