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How Is That Even Possible?

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"This doesn't seem physically possible!"

A Stock Phrase that is commonly used as a Lampshade Hanging of those occasions when the laws of physics and other scientific laws are blatantly defied. This is sometimes caused by Achievements in Ignorance, when the impossible thing only occurs because the person involved has no idea that what they are doing is supposed to be impossible.

Often Played for Laughs, this phrase can be used to tell the audience that the strange or unusual occurrences going on aren't the norm for the world in which the story is taking place. It can also be used as part of the Rule of Scary for the same reason. Contrast This Cannot Be!, which tends to be more dramatic.

On occasion, this trope will be accompanied by an explanation of how the strange occurrence is impossible. The creators will use this to demonstrate that they did their homework. Alternately, the impossible event will be chalked up to "magic", possibly with an explanation that magic really isn't supposed to work that way. If something breaks the story's internal logic expect this question to come up.

This is commonly used with Took a Shortcut, when a character wonders how another character could have gotten to a place ahead of them so fast.

Compare and contrast with Fridge Logic. May result in someone Giving Up on Logic.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Beauty's default reaction to Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo's antics.
  • A Centaur's Life: In an early chapter, a flashback has Minami discover her mischievous little sisters have somehow wandered twenty kilometers from home within five hours of taking their first steps, and can only wonder "How?"
  • FLCL: Haruko and Amarao have a long and exhausting battle where Haruko fights off all his mooks with a guitar, destroys half the shop they're in, and finally deflects all his bullets by slicing them in half with a box-cutter. At that point, Amarao gives up on trying to make sense of it all.
    Amarao: [flatly] You can't be real.
  • One of the older characters in DieBuster reacts to Nono splitting a black hole in half with "That is something that is not allowed in this universe!"
  • In Rave Master, this is the heroes' reaction to the villainess Lilith somehow using her wind attacks underwater.
  • In the Pokémon: The Original Series episode "One Trick Phony!", this is everyone's reactions to Jessie's Charizard somehow doing moves that logically a Charizard shouldn't be able to do, like Dig. That said, in the game Charizard can learn it by a TM.
  • One Piece:
    • This is Vivi's reaction when Nami is able to predict when a cyclone will hit while navigating the Grand Line, something regarded as impossible by most pirates. She wonders whether Nami does so less from researched skills and more from innate ability.
    • During the Alabasta arc, when Usopp and Chopper finds out that the opponents they're fighting are using a gun which ate a Devil Fruit, Usopp openly asks how can an inanimate object "eat" a Devil Fruit, with the opponent merely replying that there's a reason why. We later learn that WG scientist Doctor Vegapunk managed to find a way to have item absorb the power of Zoan Devil Fruits.
    • In the Wano arc, Franky has a major one when his opponent Sasaki, who can transform into a Triceratops, showcase the ability to spin his head frill to fly like an helicopter.
  • In the first episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, Yuya defeats his foe by Pendulum Summoning, a technique that was, up to then, unknown. Even Yuya himself has no idea - at the time - how he did it, and is shocked to see that he won. (He'd find out how later, much to his regret.)
  • In Dragon Ball Super, Goku reveals he has no idea what kissing is. Vegeta incredulously points out that Goku has been married for years and has two children. Goku doesn't see what that has to do with it. This is due to a translation issue. In the original, Goku witnessed Trunks feeding Mai a senzu bean through mouth-to-mouth contact, and when he said he'd never done "that" before, Vegeta asssumes he's talking about kissing.
  • In Negima!? neo, Asuna picks up and throws a boat at the vampire Evangeline. While dodging it, Eva is shocked and asks how Asuna is so strong, since she is human.
  • Time Stop Hero:
    • People who are unaware that Sekai can freeze time often wonder how he can move so fast.
    • Leafa sees that a Fiery Salamander was turned into a vampire and wonders how the vampires were able to bite it since it is covered with flames.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: The first issue of the reboot had Archie working at an ice cream place and the manager asking "How? How?" when the former somehow managed to set the ice cream on fire.
  • Atomic Robo: Atomic Robo occasionally has to ask himself: "Why do we even have the Square-Cube Law?"
  • Kingdom Come: Batman's Stealth Hi/Bye is lampshaded in the epilogue, when Clark bemusedly asks how in the world did he sneak up on him, since he has X-Ray Vision and super hearing. Bruce just states that it was easy thanks to the the scenery chewing everyone, and that the JLA could be fighting the Legion of Doom in the restaurant and the patrons would assume it's All Part of the Show.

    Comic Strips 
  • Charles Addams's skier cartoon has a non-verbal example where a skier looks in shock at a skier managing to get past a tree in his way just by spreading his skis around the tree.
  • In one series of Bloom County strips, Opus and Milo are hunting for the Basselope in the forest. In one, Opus thinks he sees him and takes a Polaroid shot, but instead takes a picture of a squirrel blowing a raspberry at them with a loud "Thpptp!" In the last panel, Opus looks at it and says, "How can a picture go 'Thpptp'?"
  • Peanuts has many, most involving Snoopy:
    • In one strip, Snoopy is asleep while playing second base, with an alarm clock behind him. It rings, waking him up, and he catches the fly ball coming towards him. A confused Charlie Brown says, "How do you set the alarm for a fly ball??"
    • In another strip, Snoopy tries to dive into Lucy's wading pool, but she shouts, "Oh no you don't!" and Snoopy turns around in mid-air. Then he says to himself, "Now how did I do that?"
    • In another, Snoopy is upset that it's raining on his face, and shouts "Why can't it only rain on my legs?" And it does. When Lucy comes by and asks how that's possible, he says, "There are always ways of working things out."
    • One strip set in winter has him lying on his doghouse, covered with snow. When Charlie Brown comes out with his supper, he takes his dish, eats it - evidenced by loud chewing sounds - and hands the empty dish back, all without disturbing the snow. "I wonder how he did that?!" muses Charlie Brown.
  • In The Wizard of Id, the Spook digs a tunnel out of his prison cell and surfaces through the neck of the Wizard's wine bottle. "This isn't possible!", he says.

    Fan Works 
  • RWBY: Epic of Remnant: When Angra Mainyu sees that Remnant's moon is shattered, he asks, "... what the hell could even DO that?"
  • White Sheep (RWBY):
    • Upon learning Nora and Blake joined the White Fang, a Faunus-supremacy terrorist group, Weiss demands to know "how could you." Blake tries to defend her actions, but Weiss clarifies that she meant it literally: How did they join the White Fang?
      Weiss: Nora's not even a Faunus!
    • Sun has a similar reaction to finding out that Jaune is half-Grimm, then asks if the Beowolf that Jaune is petting is his dad.
    • Weiss's reaction to learning that the massive crystals in the Grimmlands are all Dust. Jaune even claims they grow this close to Salem's tower, which flies in the face of everything Weiss knows about Dust.
      Weiss: The largest unrefined piece of Dust in the world is slightly larger than my fist. It's in my father's study.
  • Worm Grand Order: Taylor Hebert and her Servants kill Leviathan by cutting it open and extracting its core. Hero asks how it is possible they were able to do that, since Leviathan's flesh becomes denser the deeper you go and the area around the core is infinitely dense, meaning it would take more energy than the universe can hold to penetrate it. Da Vinci explains that they made a wish on the Holy Grail to weaken Leviathan and make it possible. He doesn't believe her because he doesn't believe that magic is real, then says he'll figure out the science behind the feat later.
  • Point Me at the Skyrim: Sevitus cannot believe that Victoria Dallon's world does not generally believe in magic, as the powers that some have seem to be very clear signs to it's existence. Victoria, not knowing that humans in Skyrim are generally stronger than her home universe, is shocked at the fact that the bandits she captured leapt from a thirty-foot tree and simply left once they landed.
  • Fate: Kill: This is the general reaction everyone has whenever Shirou uses his powers. For example, when he uses Reinforcement on everybody's clothes, and Akame demonstrates her sword cannot penetrate them, everyone is stunned and asking how he did that.
  • God Slaying Blade Works: This is the general reaction everyone in Campione! has whenever Shirou or Illya use their powers, as they can perform spells without having to invoke the power of a god or other magical being. Guinevere and Lancelot are baffled when Shirou Traces copies of the weapons Excalibur, Caliburn, Rhongomyniad, and Arondight. In the Campioneverse, Excalibur belongs to Artus, The King of the End, and no other. Caliburn, Rhongomyniad, and Arondight are mere stories and do not even exist in the Campioneverse, yet their senses tell them they are real. Everybody gets really baffled when Shirou uses Unlimited Blade Works.
  • Yang has this reaction in Boldores And Boomsticks when her Megaton Punch sends Cassidy and Butch into A Twinkle in the Sky.
    Yang: That was so freakin’ surreal! Am I on drugs? Does that aromatherapy stuff have side effects?
    Weiss: If you are, we all are, Yang.
    Casey: Yeah… Team Rocket just… does that. Like, all the time.
    Weiss: Exploding for no reason, or the threatening poetry?
    Casey: ...Yes
  • Fate/Starry Night: Shirou serves Bazett tea. Even though the tea is still boiling hot, she drinks the whole thing in one gulp. Everyone is baffled, while she doesn't understand what the big deal is.
  • The Vasto of White: Everyone is baffled by Shirou's ability to copy Zanpakuto. They get even more shocked when he unleashes the true Unlimited Blade Works to combat Yhwach and this sends everyone to a world of endless swords where the Zanpakuto Spirits can take physical form.
  • Unknown Legends: The RWBY characters are usually baffled when The Legend of Zelda characters demonstrate their magical abilities. Also, when Link and Lana see a boat made of metal, they are baffled, having only ever seen boats made of wood, and Lana asks how in the world it doesn't sink.
  • Kris Performs Surgery: After getting banished into his own ass, Rudy questions how that's even possible, since he doesn't yet know that he's inside a Dark World made from his own body.
  • Rocketship Voyager. Captain Janeway has this response to seeing a holodeck for the first time, given that people are swimming, boating and fishing in a holodeck ocean, and even eating what they catch.

    Film — Animated 
  • Coco: The clerk in the land of the undead starts sneezing around Miguel's dog Dante because he's allergic. Miguel asks how this can even be possible seeing as Dante doesn't even have hair; the clerk adds that he also doesn't even have a nose, then shrugs.
  • From The Emperor's New Groove:
    Kuzco: No! It can't be! How did you get back here before us?
    Yzma: Ah... [looks confused] How did we, Kronk?
    Kronk: Well, ya got me. [pulls down a chart displaying the progress of the previous chase] By all accounts, it doesn't make sense.
  • In Turning Red, Ming asks this of Mei when Mei manages to resist the Cuteness Proximity triggering box of kittens.
  • In We Bare Bears: The Movie, Panda asks this when his follower count on an Instagram-esque site gets to -1.
  • The Beatles affect this reaction in Yellow Submarine when they see that Sgt. Pepper's Band, encased in a big glass ball, is the spitting image of themselves (or as John explains it, "extensions of our own personalities").

    Film — Live-Action 
  • When a zombie clamps its jaws onto the arm of Mickey from Cockneys vs. Zombies, Katy blows its head apart, leaving the jaws still stuck to Mickey's limb. Everybody gawks at the still-attached jaws, and one of them asks "Is that even actually possible...?" while they're looking at it.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Dr. Emma Russell quotes the Stock Phrase almost ad verbatim when Mancini informs her that the Mothra-holding Yunnan outpost's containment systems are failing and their perimeter alarms are going haywire. Subverted, as she actually knows Jonah and his posse are coming, and she's just asking before they launch their physical attack for show.
  • Justice League (2017): Superman and Cyborg get floored by a massive explosion. Cyborg complains that his toes hurt, and wonders how this can be considering almost all of his body, including his feet, is mechanical (and said feet don't have toes!).
  • In The Matrix, this is a beat cop's reaction to not only witnessing Trinity leap over a six-lane street, plus sidewalks, to go from rooftop to rooftop, but seeing Agent Brown follow her.
  • Said almost word for word in The Princess Bride when the Dread Pirate Roberts reveals to Buttercup that he is in fact her sweetheart, Westley. She wants to know how this is possible, given that the Dread Pirate Roberts has been marauding for twenty years, but Westley only disappeared, presumed dead, five years ago. Westley then explains that the Dread Pirate Roberts is a Legacy Character — the original has been "living like a king in Patagonia for quite some time."
  • In the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby film Road to Bali, Bob Hope is deep-sea diving when he is attacked by a giant squid. The diving crew pulls him out, only to find his suit is only filled with air; Hope resurfaces without the suit a moment later. When Crosby asks how he got out of the suit, Hope starts to explain, but then notices the camera and pulls Crosby away to where the viewers can't hear the explanation. Afterwards, Crosby turns to the camera and shrugs.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Scott is very confused by the black censor boxes that pop up on Julie's mouth when she swears, and asks how she's doing that.
    Scott: How are you doing that with your mouth?
    Julie: Never [BEEP]ing mind how I'm doing it!
  • In Shaolin Soccer, an all-female soccer team practically flies across the soccer field the way Sing and the others do, prompting this exchange:
    Light Weight Vest: How do they fly like that?
    Sing: Must be special effects!
  • In Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange separates Spider-Man's astral form from his body to take a magic box back from him. To his total surprise, Spider-Man's Spider Sense takes over and starts swinging his arm around quickly to keep the box away from Strange, while Strange keeps futilely trying to grab at it. Strange protests that Spider-Man should not be able to do this.
    Strange: How are—you—doing this?
    Peter: I have no idea.
    Strange: You shouldn't—be able—to do that!
  • From Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:
    Uhura: Admiral, I have a signal closing on the whales. Bearing 328 degrees.
    Kirk: On screen.
    Gillian: How can you do... that...
    Uhura: On screen.
  • Also an ongoing theme in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, beginning with the evident (but impossible) fact that the Enterprise fired on the Klingon chancellor's flagship while under a flag of truce.
    Spock: An ancestor of mine maintained that when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. If we did not fire those torpedoes, another ship did.
    • This, incidentally, leads into another iteration of this trope: For another ship to have been in position to launch the attack in question without being detected, it had to be cloaked, and ships in the Star Trek setting cannot fire their weapons while cloaked, except for the fact that one ship evidently did just that.
  • Superman: The Movie: Superman's Metropolis debut, catching Lois Lane and a falling helicopter in mid-air:
    Superman: Easy, miss! I've got you!
    Lois: [hysterical] You've got me? Who's got you!?
  • Classic example from The Wizard of Oz:
    Dorothy: Oh come now, how can you talk if you haven't got a brain?
    Scarecrow: I don't know! But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking.
    • This is probably to underscore the Aesop at the end that all the characters already had what they thought they lacked, they just never realized it before.

  • In Contact (the book, not the movie), while the characters are moving through the wormhole, one of them, a theoretical physicist, does some calculations and says (paraphrase): "I can almost prove mathematically this can't be happening."
  • In the Elenium trilogy, Sparhawk at one point declares he's going to reach down a specific enemy's throat and pull his heart out through his mouth. One of his companions, a little unnerved, inquires whether that's even possible. Sparhawk calmly replies that yes, it is, "if your arm is long enough and you know what you're looking for." He never gets the chance to do it, but Sparhawk being Sparhawk, he almost certainly could have.
  • In the Honor Harrington books, Manticore's enemies tend to be quite startled at the Manticorans' technological feats, the fruits of an expensive decades-long secret research program. Starting from Mission of Honor, the Manticorans get a chance to experience that sensation themselves when the Mesan Alignment attacks their home system with unseen new technologies, without leaving any hard evidence to implicate themselves.
  • As in the film example noted above, Buttercup wants this answered in The Princess Bride regarding the Dread Pirate Roberts being Westley.
  • Star Wars Legends: At several points in Galaxy of Fear characters are bewildered by the various things by which they're menaced. Tash asks a cloning technician droid how the clones are being grown so quickly, but the droid tells her it's classified.
  • At several points in World War Z a character notes that the zombies are impossible — not just biologically, but even from elementary physics (moving endlessly with no energy input.) And having waved to reality as it passed, the story carries on as before.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Community episode "Regional Holiday Music", Mr. Radd somehow manages to play a piano without touching it.
    Abed: How's your piano still playing this song?
    Mr. Radd: Glee is the answer when questions are wrong!
  • Played for drama in The Expanse when the infected Eros station zooming away from a crashing ship defies all sorts of physics, which signals to everyone in the solar system that something is really wrong.
  • Game of Thrones: In a funny moment for the usually nightmarish Ramsay Bolton, one time, Ramsay's father Roose announces that he has gotten his morbidly obese wife/Ramsay's stepmother Walda pregnant. Ramsay asks how he was able to have sex with her and how they are able to tell she is pregnant.
  • In multiple episodes of iCarly, Spencer says this after something he makes/fixes spontaneously bursts into flames.
  • In an episode of Married... with Children, Kelly is hustling pool under Jefferson's tutelage; after a prospective mark comes in with a very large wager, Al decided to take over from Jefferson. However, to meet the ante, he goes to nine blood banks to sell blood. Jefferson points out that the human body only contains eight pints of blood, although the dazed and disoriented Al clearly isn't sure himself how he did it (or how he's still alive).
  • In an early Sesame Street sketch, Ernie pours himself a glass of milk while hanging upside down, ignoring Bert's warnings that the milk would spill.
  • In the Smallville season 3 episode "Covenant", Kara flies. Clark Kent, who has never seen this power before (in fact, he doesn't learn how to consciously fly until season 10), is baffled and asks how it is possible.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Spectre of the Gun". When Spock and McCoy test their Knockout Gas on Scott, it doesn't work.
    Spock: Captain, you don't seem to understand. It did not function, but it must function.
    McCoy: Nothing could go wrong, Captain. It should work.
    Spock: A scientific fact. But if the tranquilizer does not function, which is clearly impossible, then a radical alteration of our thought patterns must be in order.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • One time, Vince McMahon claimed he had lost his virginity at age 12. Jonathan Coachman responded by asking, "How is that even possible?"

  • Played for laughs on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me when panelist Brian Babylon can't believe he's tied with Cloud Cuckoolander Bobcat Goldthwait going into the final round.
    Carl Kasell: Roxanne Roberts has the lead, Peter. She has five points. Brian Babylon and Bobcat Goldthwait are tied for second, they both have two points.
    Peter Sagal: Okay. Well...
    Brian Babylon: How is that possible?
    Peter Sagal: I don't know. (laughter)
    Bobcat Goldthwait: Why are you insulted that you're tied with me? (laughter) "How is that possible? (laughter) He was in Police Academy for god's sakes!"

    Video Games 
  • Played with in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. One villager interaction dialogue is them thinking how things don’t make sense on the island, like three kinds of wood from one tree and Tom Nook and the Nooklings buying stuff from you to give you money to pay off your house. But then they decide they’re worrying over nothing.
  • In Disco Elysium the storytelling hobo Idiot Doom Spiral can tell you the Urban Legend of the Cocaine Skull, which involves an infamous cocaine abusing graphic designer and his untimely death. Doom Spiral claims that when the graphic designer's body was subject to an autopsy, the coroner discovered "nearly a quarter kilo of coke jammed into his nasal cavity." Your skills are not quite sure what to make of this.
    Logic: That's... almost certainly anatomically impossible.
    Electrochemistry: WRONG AGAIN, NERD. Where there's a will, there's a way.
  • Flipping the super-heavy Elephant tank in Halo 3 elicits this response from the game when you try to flip it back over.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Garrus Vakarian's skill with calibrations is legendary. Legion calls him out on this.
    Legion: Telemetry indicates that the calibration of Normandy's weapon accuracy could be increased by .32%.
    Garrus: You couldn't squeeze .34% out of it?
    Legion: Negative. That threshold is impossible.
    Garrus: You sure? Take a look now.
    Legion: Scanning. Normandy's weapon systems have been improved by .43%. How did you accomplish this?
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, one of Ellis's stories about his friend Keith involves them making their own fireworks and Keith having 95% of his body covered in third-degree burns as a result. Another involves Keith attempting to deep-fry a turkey and getting 90% of his body covered in burns on top of the ones he had from the prior incident, and his doctor had to call other doctors because they didn't know that was even possible.
  • In The Stanley Parable, the Narrator quotes this word per word when you activate the Real Person ending, somehow making an 'incorrect' decision.
  • The opening cinematic of Syphon Filter shows Gabe and Lian responding to a viral outbreak in a small village in the Himalayas. Gabe comments that their contact in the WHO was correct, and that everyone within a hundred miles is dead. Lian replies that the man she is inspecting is still alive. Gabe asks how it is possible and Lian replies it isn't. This is meant to foreshadow the ultimate reveal that Syphon Filter is a virus that can be programmed only to kill specific people.

  • Subverted in 8-Bit Theater. Fighter claims that gravity had been slain (since Black Mage had saved them by cushioning their falling airship with a large explosion as it crash landed), which would allow them to fly...and to everyone's amazement, takes off. Then it turns out Sarda the Sage decided the best way to bring them to him would be to fly them in at just that moment.
    • This is generally Black Mage's reaction to the improbable things his much-hated teammates do. By the time the Light Warriors reach the Temple of Fiends again, he's stopped complaining.
      "What I hate about my life... Part of what I hate about my life is that it is working."
    • Fighter tends to invoke this in everyone around him. A prime example comes when he manages to somehow win "Drownball" (a sport parodying Final Fantasy X's Blitzball) by being the only player not to drown; everyone who hears about this feat is left completely stunned.
      • There was also the time he saved the Light Warriors from a fatal fall by blocking the Earth, his "logic" being that he blocks things like swords and fire magic all the time. Thief sums it up: "I hate it when the things he says that don't make sense make sense."
    • Sarda also invokes this (using a Flat "What") when Ranger dual-wields his dual-wield.
  • Lola and Mr. Wrinkles: All but said by Brutus after he realizes that Hugo— a 300lb St. Bernard— climbed to the top of a very tall tree after being spooked by him.
  • Pupster: Danny asks Pupster how they managed to build an airplane out of wood and leaves so fast in the thirtysecond page of Pup, Pup, And Away.
Danny: How did we build it so fast anyway?
Pupster: Uh... logic?
  • Happens to the word in this Questionable Content strip, when an AI appears to be drunk.
  • Keychain of Creation pokes fun at the ways Exalted tend to ignore what we think of as the laws of physics, as below:
    Blossom: You're blocking my scent with yours!? Th- that doesn't even make sense!
    Marena: I'm Exalted! I just smell that good.
  • One Something*Positive strip has PeeJee's ice cream cone suddenly turn out to be Davan's boneless cat, Choo-Choo Bear. When she complains about the unlikeliness of this, Davan points out that her last storyline was resolved when the antagonist was eaten by a Canadian Trapdoor Aligator.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 
  • From Red vs. Blue:
    Church: Poor Jimmy was the last one to go. Tex walked up to him, pulled Jimmy's skull right out of his head and beat him to death with it.
    Tucker: Wait a second... how do you beat someone to death with their own skull? That doesn't seem physically possible.
    Church: That's exactly what Jimmy kept screaming.
    (flasback to Tex, in black armor, beating Jimmy to death with his own skull)
    Jimmy: This doesn't seem physically possible!
    • It later becomes a recurring joke that anything implausible involving skulls (Or skull-like objects) "Doesn't seem physically possible". During Season 4, a contest for Sarge's new Professional Butt-Kisser after Simmons left was held between Donut, a wrench, and a skull. When it's revealed that the skull managed to tie with Donut, Donut responds, "That doesn't seem physically possible!"
    • When Grif is run over by the Blues' tank in Season 2, Sarge "helps" by turning Simmons into a cyborg, and then using the "leftover parts" to fix Grif. Upon hearing about it, Grif groans, "That doesn't seem physically possible."
    • During "The Revelation", Tex beats Church over the head with the Monitor that briefly contained Church's mind. The Reds, safe on the sidelines, once again comment on how that "Doesn't seem physically possible."
    • And in Season 14 Prequel Episode "Why They're Here" we learn that Private Jimmy wasn't killed by Tex but instead had the Alpha AI forcibly implanted into him. "AAAAH! WHAT'RE YOU DOING TO MY SKULL!? AAAAAHH! THIS DOESN'T SEEM PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE!!"
    • In Season 13, when Katie Jensen causes a five car pileup when just driving five miles an hour, this is Simmons' reaction.
    • In Season 15 episode "Previously On", sometime after the events on Chorus, The Reds and Blues built a waterpark, which Donut accidentally...burned down.
      Donut: One, lube isn't normally flammable! And B, I didn't burn down the whole water park, just the park part!
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Goku obtained a muffin and the ability to read minds by pressing the muffin button of the spaceship... except there is no muffin button. However, in the alternate take, it's a cookie. Cue Big "NO!" from Goku.
    • King Kai says this directly when Goku pretends to hang up on him while they were communicating telepathically.
      Goku: Oh, all right. I promise I will absolutely not click-brrrrrrr *long inhale* rrrrrrrrr
      King Kai: He hung up on me! How did he even do that?
  • This phrase being said verbatim is a running gag in the CollegeHumor point-of-view sketches.
  • Danbooru has an image pool with this name.
  • When Retsupurae made fun of the Trapped series of flash games, this came up when the third game reveals the protagonist to somehow also be the leader of the villains:
    Dialla: (in the game) How is that even possible?
    Proteus: (in the commentary) Yeah, how is that even possible?!

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • This line is literally said in several episodes of Almost Naked Animals where the main character Howie has been catapulted across a room in a cardboard box and continues to surf at top speed throughout his hotel, including going inside an elevator and being taken up to the next level, only to be thrown out by some invisible force to go 'box surfing' on the next floor. However, it is only when he is 'surfing' up the stairs without slowing down that he literally says "How is this even possible?"
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • In "The Procrastinators", after Gumball's gravity-defying "moonwalk", Darwin tells him he's "breaking the rules of the game and the laws of physics!"
    • "The Responsible": "Look at this! How do you set fire to a swimming pool?"
    • "The Sidekick": When Gumball sees Darwin's inbox which is so empty the page itself is falling apart, he asks "What the- is that cockroach inside your inbox?''
    • "The Sweaters": "How are they clapping without moving their arms?"
    • In "The Virus", Gumball demonstrates how complete his control over his body is by withdrawing his legs into his chest and floating in the air. Teri is just as baffled as we are.
    • "Halloween": After Carrie tells Gumball and Darwin she was born a ghost, Darwin asks "How does that work?" to which Gumball replies "Duh-actually I have no idea."
    • "The Internet": Gumball asks this verbatim after an embarrassing video of him gets a hit counter so high the numbers start falling off the screen and leaking out of the computer.
    • "The Check": "How did she do that?" "And if she can do that, then why does she need the money to fix the car?"..."Give me the check!! We clearly don't need a car!!"
    • "The Recipe": When Anton drowns and disintegrates at the same time, but is back in the next scene with no sign of injury, Gumball asks "Am I the only one who finds it weird that he's still alive?"
  • American Dad!
  • In the Animaniacs story "Hooked on a Ceiling", Michelangelo gets angry at the Warner siblings and tries to throw them out of the chapel; he's about to do so, but the scene shifts to the outside of the Chapel, and Michelangelo is the one who is thrown out. As he sits on the ground he scratches his head and wonders how they did that. (This gag or variations thereof was used in several episodes afterwards.)
  • The Ant and the Aardvark: In "Technology Phooey", the Aardvark pushes a big rock off a cliff towards the Ant's anthill. The Ant uses his breath to blow it back up.
    Aardvark: I'll say it in two words: Im. Possible.
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Every time Batman pulls a Stealth Hi/Bye on Plastic Man, he asks, "How does he do that?"
  • Camp Lazlo, specifically the episode where they tried to sell expired, uncanned beans. A man was walking towards the stand... and then floated into midair, drifted right over the stand, and then floated back onto the street and continued walking. This prompted Raj to ask how that was even possible.
    • The end credits repeat that scene with other characters doing the same thing.
  • In one episode of Danny Phantom, Frostbite explains that Danny is developing An Ice Person powers, and offers to train him. Danny asks how it is possible. Frostbite points out that Danny already has ghost powers and calls him out on his Arbitrary Skepticism.
  • In an early episode of Drawn Together, Princess Clara asks Toot and Foxxy not to reveal the secret of her Octopussoir. Before any of them leave the room or even speak, Captain Hero knocks on the door and say Toot told him about it, leading Clara to ask the question verbatim.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: In one episode, Cosmo and Wanda are in their fish forms and Cosmo is trying to light candles inside the fishbowl in spite of the water. When Cosmo actually manages to do it, Timmy shows up to ask what's new and Wanda answers, "The laws of physics."
  • Futurama: In "Space Pilot 3000", Bender's arms fall off. A moment later we see the arms, in closeup, pick up and reattach each other. Fry is just as baffled as the audience.
    • In "The Deep South", Zoidberg's undersea conch-shell home somehow burns down...
      Zoidberg: How could this have happened?!
      Hermes: That's a very good question.
      Bender: [picking up his still-lit cigar from the underwater ruins] So that's where I left my cigar.
      Hermes: That just raises further questions!
    • When Amy starts criticizing how Fry and Bender's slacker-ness have gotten out of hand, she points out that Bender has gotten so fat his front panel won't close, then points out how that doesn't even make sense.
  • In The Ghost and Molly McGee episode "The (Un)natural", Scratch has convinced Molly to cheat her softball team's way to a championship game through him possessing her ball, glove, and bat. During the last inning, he gets pulled away by the Ghost Council to discuss his scare quota. Despite Scratch only being gone for a few minutes, by the time he gets back Molly has somehow blown their 18-point lead against the Skylarks, who are now only a point behind with the bases loaded.
    Scratch: You gave up seventeen runs, and the bases are loaded?! How?!
    Molly: (shell-shocked) I dunno, man, I dunno... It's a blur... of bats, and balls, and humiliation...
  • Harvey Street Kids: In "Trade Wreck", the Harvey Girls give Pinkeye a forged trading card to get a set of dolls that he and the other Bloogey Boys were planning to destroy, in the process breaking one of the rules of the kids' trading post. This leads to the other kids throwing out the other rules and the trading post devolving into chaos. When Audrey sees what happened, she questions how they could've done all that in the five minutes that the girls were gone.
  • One episode of Johnny Test was a full-on send off to Road Runner; After the Painted Tunnel, Real Train bit, Bling Bling Boy declares, "That completely defies the laws of physics!" He then gets run over by the inevitable truck. "And so does that..." Then he sees an anvil falling. "Oh, come on, an anvil!?" Then he 'protects' his head with an umbrella that’s smaller than his thumb.
  • During the Justice League episode "Hereafter", the Flash is almost fried by enemy lightning. Wonder Woman saves him by deflecting the lightning with her metal bracelets. Flash's response? "There are so many reasons why that shouldn't have worked." The actual answer is likely that A Wizard Did It.
  • One sequence in Justice League Action is one big homage to Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner; Lobo tries to capture The Flash on a desert planet with a variety of traps, only to fail due to Flash's Super-Speed. However, when they do the "Cliff crumbles while the ledge stays floating" bit, this is Lobo's reaction.
    Lobo: Grr, how'd you do that? (Falls) It defies the laws of physics!
    Flash: (Hops onto another floating ledge) I never studied law, doc. Meep meep!
  • In the Kim Possible episode "Car Alarm", Ron's attempts to help Kim fix up her hand-me-down car keep ending up with Ron entangled in wires and attacked by a flock of crows that emerge from under the hood. Even when he keeps his distance and doesn't touch anything, it somehow happens to him again.
  • In an episode of King of the Hill, while trying to get ideas for how to make his house look terrible so that it isn't sold, Hank goes to Bill's house and pulls the switch to the ceiling fan in the kitchen, which causes Bill's microwave to turn on. He even asks out loud how that's possible. (And then replicates it in his own house.)
  • Looney Tunes:
    • In a Road Runner cartoon, Wile E. Coyote falls off a cliff while in pursuit of the Road Runner who, it turns out, is standing on a chunk of rock in mid-air. The bedraggled Coyote looks up from the bottom of the canyon at the Road Runner and holds up a sign commenting that what the Road Runner is doing defies the laws of gravity. The Road Runner responds by holding up his own sign saying it doesn't matter because he's never studied law.
    • Previously done in the Bugs Bunny cartoon "High Diving Hare", where Bugs is trussed up on a diving board platform and Yosemite Sam is sawing off the board, but the ladder and platform collapse with Sam instead.
    • 1938's "Porky & Daffy" has Daffy as a prize fighter and Porky his manager. When Porky tells Daffy to get on his bicycle (a ring term for avoiding the opponent as best as can), Daffy does. He starts riding an invisible bicycle, to which he quips "I'm so crazy I don't know that this is impossible!"
  • In the MAD sketch "My Little Warhorse", Pinkie Pie face-plants into a cake she made that reads "Yay Friends!" spelled out in icing. When she lifts her head, the icing has somehow rearranged itself to spell "Go bronies!", and this is her reaction.
  • In Milo Murphy's Law, Milo's bad luck causes a chemical fire in class to the utter bewilderment of the substitute Chem teacher who notes the chemicals involved can't combust.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Happens A LOT when Pinkie Pie is around.
    • In the episode "It's About Time!", Pinkie Pie explains that her Pinkie Sense can't help predict the impending disaster Twilight Sparkle is getting worked up about, because it's only good for vague, short-term predictions. Pinkie demonstrates when she gets a "twitchy tail" reaction that indicates a falling object, and a flowerpot lands on Twilight's head... despite both ponies being inside a tent. Pinkie then wonders aloud where the flowerpot came from.
    • In another episode, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash are hanging out at the beach. When RD wants to take a nap, she asks Pinkie to be quiet; so Pinkie, about to jump into the water (and already falling), slows her descent, and slowly lowers herself into the water in clear violation of gravity. Dash briefly wonders how that was possible, then shrugs it off as Pinkie being Pinkie.
    • In the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks Shorts short "Perfect Day for Fun", Pinkie Pie makes faces and poses in front of a mirror, but her reflection just stands there. Applejack gives a confused reaction.
    • When counting the number of new friendships that will form when the Apples and Pies meet each other in "Hearthbreakers", Pinkie comes up with nineteen and holds up nineteen hooves. Applejack is visibly shocked and is looking around to try and see where the extra hooves came from in the background of the next shot.
  • Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja: In a Halloween Episode, the reanimated skeleton of Jerry Driscoll is recognized by a retina scan in spite of, as Viceroy points out, not having a retina.
  • The Real Ghostbusters; Slimer runs away in an episode after Peter yells at him, and leaves a note behind. Janine finds it first, and angrily reads it to the guys, scolding them. Ray takes the note and asks how she can read it, as Slimer not only has bad penmanship, but got slime all over the paper. Janine simply snarks, "I'm a secretary. I can read anything."
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: In "Scooby's Night With A Frozen Fright," the gang has delivered a caveman frozen in a block of ice to Oceanland Marine Park where it is put in the park's Arctic room. Later, when the gang returns to retrieve Shaggy's fishing pole, they find the block of ice melted and the caveman gone.
    Daphne: But that's impossible!
    Velma: Not if he came to life, it isn't.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "The PTA Disbands", Homer gets upset at Lisa for making a working perpetual motion machine because it violates the laws of physics. ("In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!")
    • In "The Front", Bart and Lisa ask Grandpa what his first name is; he can't remember, but he knows he has it written on his underwear, so he takes them off... Without taking his pants off. When Bart and Lisa ask how he did that, even he doesn't know.
    • In "Homer Goes to College", Homer is put in a truck containing a simulator of his workstation and somehow causes the truck to suffer a meltdown.
      Inspector: I'm still not sure how he caused the meltdown. There wasn't any nuclear material in the truck!
  • Asked verbatim by Dr. Eggman in the Sonic Boom episode "Chez Amy" when he finds that Dave gave him cold soup and hot salad.
  • Spliced: In "Stomach On Strike,", Joe says the trope name verbatim after Patricia tells him that Entree's internal organs left his body on their own.
  • In the climax of the Teen Titans (2003) episode "Betrothed", Beast Boy is able to scare some palace guards away by transforming into a giant Tameranian beast, whose statue he had seen earlier:
    Cyborg: How did you know you could do that?
    Beast Boy: Lucky guess! note 
  • Tigtone was already an extremely surreal show, but Tigtone killing himself by hanging and then instantly bouncing back to the world of the living while dragging two deceased villains back with him in order to hang them and leaving them hanging forever in the afterlife was Beyond the Impossible even by the show's standards and causes one of the villains to question how it is even possible, to which Tigtone responds that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.
  • In the Trolls: TrollsTopia episode "Daylight Ravings Time", Laguna plans to wear an electronic helmet while DJing her first rave, believing that wearing it improves her DJing skills, but drops and shatters it when she gets startled activating its laser light function. Later, Synth flashes back to the same thing happening to him, only the pieces of his helmet burst into flames. He then questions how such a thing could happen underwater.
  • In one Woody Woodpecker cartoon, the villain is trying to ambush Woody using a rifle with a crosshairs. As he watches Woody approach through the crosshairs, Woody actually walks up the vertical line of the crosshairs, causing the villain to look up and exclaim, "How did he do that??"


Video Example(s):


Nurf Jr. runs away

While Egg Sitting, Nurf turns out to be an abusive partner to Preston. This causes Nurf Jr. to run away from his broken home. Did we mention that Nurf Jr. is an egg?

How well does it match the trope?

4.88 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / HowIsThatEvenPossible

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