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Oddly Common Rarity

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"I knew this 'I'm the only one! I'm the only one!' thing was just an attention-getter."
Xander on finding that there's more than one Slayer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Our protagonist is one of a kind. Maybe he's mastered a kind of magic that only one person every zillion years is born with, or perhaps he's been given possession of a unique amulet that renders him The Chosen One. Everyone around him gasps at his inherent specialness and comments on how rare it is to meet someone with such a privileged destiny. Certainly, they've never met anyone as powerful as him before.

Yet, somehow, everywhere the reader goes in the story, they keep tripping over characters with the same, or similar, assets and abilities that the hero has. That dratted trinket seems to have been made on a production line. So it turns out the hero's not alone — not so much "There Is Another" as "half the world's population is pretty much in the same boat, but we're following this guy, so he's special."

This is a particular kind of Fridge Logic, and once the audience notices that everyone and their dog have this "one-of-a-kind" attribute it can be jarring.

Sometimes the author will realize this is happening and try to justify or Hand Wave it. Success varies. The most common explanation is that the hero's power draws them toward people with similar power, making them a selective Weirdness Magnet. Another approach is when the author shows that this small group of people always stick together, forming institutions and guilds to protect themselves against the majority of society. In these cases, consistency is key to maintaining a Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Sometimes, the writer never addresses why this unique power is so widespread. Masquerade may also make odd things appear much less common than they are, even if they are not its main subject but related to it.

It's not exactly a hanging offense. It's easy to see why it happens. Presented with choices, a single character can only pick one option. Even if the plot itself alters his attitude via Character Development, the fact stands that he's already made his choice. Other characters with similar attributes show up to illustrate the road not taken: What if The Hero had denied his call to adventure? What happens when someone with psychological issues becomes The Chosen One? What if the hero's parents had lived? You get the picture. These extra characters are a contrast with the protagonist's own story, either highlighting his nobility or showing him up and pointing out where he went wrong. And in general, harshly defining the reaches of one's setting can often prove to be an arbitrary limitation; retcon or not, restricting a massive detail of the setting to just one character can often feel boring if they don't have anything to bounce off of or compare to.

The same thing can happen with whole scenarios and sometimes entire plotlines. We're told that something is a "freak event," a one-in-a-billion situation, only to have it happen twelve times in the run of the series. This is slightly harder to justify unless Generation Xerox turns up to claim its right to retell the same story.

Biologically, there is a specific reason for this to occur. It's called the Founder's Effect. When a population moves to a new area and is only capable of creating children with the members of its own population, traits common among the population will be passed down with higher frequency: even if the original trait is overall extremely rare.

See also There Is Another... but keep an eye on it to ensure that it is just one other, or it can become an Oddly Common Rarity instead. Compare with The Chosen Many where there is an overt, organized, and often numerous band of Chosen Ones. Also compare to Uniqueness Decay. Contrast Commonplace Rare.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Ranma ˝, the Curse of Jusenkyo is said to be an obscure mystery, such that "no one knows the true horror". But during the manga series no less than nine such victims show up, and two entire civilizations are introduced that owe their existence to the Curse. Not to mention "Jusenkyo Mail Order Products", a company that sells specialized magical bathing supplies specifically targeting the Jusenkyo Curse Victim demographic. Okay, seven individuals might count as rare, but when there's a mail-order company that deals exclusively with them, that's not a rarity; that's a subculture.Note 
  • One Piece:
    • Devil Fruits are said early on to be extremely rare. During the Baratie arc, however, Don Krieg states that Devil Fruit users are much more common on the Grand Line. Over the first one hundred chapters, which take place in East Blue, we meet a grand total of four Devil Fruit users. By the time we reach chapter 200, in which the Straw Hats visit five different locations on the Grand Line, that total skyrockets to nineteen and has only grown even higher since, as every major antagonist and most, if not all, of their minions have Devil Fruit abilities.
    • Another ability that starts out rare but becomes more common as the series progresses is Haki. For much of the series, it is entirely unheard of with its use only revealed in hindsight. It isn't until Luffy encounters the people of Amazon Lily, at roughly the halfway point of the Grand Line, that the series starts to elaborate on what Haki is and what it can do. While Haki in general is almost unknown in most of the world, in the Grand Line's second half, the New World, it becomes much more commonplace as there it is an essential tool for survival. Koby is also told that every Marine ranked vice-admiral and higher possesses Haki while its presence is much more scattered among anyone lower.
    • More specifically, there are three forms of Haki. Two of them can be actively taught but the third, Conqueror's Haki, is inborn and is said to have only a one-in-a-million chance of appearing. It should come as no surprise that Luffy is among these ones in a million. What is surprising is that by the time we get a proper explanation of what Haki even is, Luffy is personally acquainted with four people with the same power. Much like Don Krieg's statement that Devil Fruit users become more common in the Grand Line, the Dressrosa arc has a character say that users of Conqueror's Haki become more common further into the New World, as they are naturally driven to aim for the very top.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure mostly avoids this with hamon, but plays it straight with Stands and gives the standard Hand Wave.
    • In Part 1, other hamon users don't appear until the end, and they're simply his mentor's allies. In Part 2, the main characters are all users, but it's still a small group descended from the previous one, with no other users or knowledge of the art outside of their group.
    • Stands are introduced in Part 3 as an extremely rare and powerful thing that even the exceptional family from the previous Parts have only developed as a side effect of the machinations of the villain (who had to learn about them from a mysterious old woman). The fact that the heroes have to fight through an army of Stand Users to reach the villain is justified by the villain intentionally reaching out across the world to hunt down the ones who exist in order to put them in the way of the heroes. The Fridge Logic ends up being less about the rarity of the Stand Users, and more about how contrived it seems that some of them manage to run into the heroes, considering the unpredictable paths that the heroes sometimes take.
    • Part 4 attempts to resolve that issue, along with justifying the high concentration of Stand Users in its own story (which lacks a singular leader for the villains), by introducing the standard Hand Wave that Stand Users are drawn to other Stand Users. The last third goes further by having those Stand Users intentionally created by a villain using a rare artifact (which itself does remain one of only a handful).
  • Dragon Ball:
    • "It's a Super Saiyan Bargain Sale!" Arguably justified via Superpowerful Genetics — all the half-breed Saiyans are descended from Goku and Vegeta, the most powerful examples of the species. It was also stated that the Saiyans were getting stronger, which is why Frieza blew up their planet.
    • Parodied by Akira Toriyama himself in Neko Makin Z when Z goes Super Neko Majin after seeing Onio go Super Saiyan.
    • The series has a bit of a longtime habit of declaring a given character to be "the strongest in the world", only to run into this when the character inevitably gets surpassed. It's noted early in Dragon Ball that the Muten Roshi was the World's Strongest Man, but as early as the Red Ribbon Army arc, you start seeing characters at least as strong as the Muten Roshi.
    • In Dragon Ball Z, the need for a spaceship was something really, really bad. Not even Capsule Corp could pull that off. However, in Dragon Ball GT, Capsule Corp can build spacecrafts within the week, complete with extras like a flatscreen TV. And that's when it takes off before it's even ready. Possibly justified as 10 years have passed since the end of the Buu Saga.
  • Naruto:
    • The running joke is that any character with a covered eye has Sharingan (or more rarely, a Byakugan), which manage to show up quite a lot despite the fact that most of the people who could have it are supposed to be dead.
    • Also, the Rinnegan. Black Friday sale off, probably, during the Fourth Ninja War when Tobi/Madara implanted each of the zombified jinchuuriki with the Sharingan and Rinnegan. There's a reason for the zombie eyes thing — Tobi is using a technique that lets anyone 'connected' with him to share his vision. It's the same thing Pain used to attack Jiraiya and the Leaf. and Tobi got his Rinnegan from looting Nagato's corpse.
    • There are an inordinate amount of Uchiha running around throughout the series, despite the key moment of the recent series backstory being the brutal and efficient massacre of 'all' of them. Notably, Sasuke was supposed to be the only survivor of the massacre, along with the perpetrator, Sasuke's older brother Itachi. Then it was revealed that Tobi was actually Obito Uchiha, who was only presumed dead. Then Itachi and Madara came back as immortal chakra-powered zombies of sorts. Then Madara managed to undo that by actually coming back to life for real. Then Naruto Gaiden introduced Sarada, Sasuke's daughter (actually makes sense, but still)! Even before being compounded with Kaguya and Hagoromo Outsutsuki as pre-Uchiha clan ancestors, there are no less than 20 named Uchiha clan members in the manga, numerous others exclusive to the manga, and despite Sasuke initially being framed as the Last of His Kind, no fewer than three others are involved in the finale!
  • In Bleach, Bankai is said to be extremely complicated and difficult to attain, as well as being one of the main and most major requirements to be a captain. There ends up being five people so far with bankai that aren't captains: Ichigo, Renji, Ikkaku, and Rukia. Lieutenant Sasakibe also has bankai, but his is a unique case, as he chose to stay as Yamamoto's Number Two rather than be promoted when offered a thousand years prior to the story. Rukia herself is promoted to Captain in the epilogue.
  • In Buso Renkin, there are only 100 kakugane in the entire world. For some reason, 25 of them, one quarter, are in the hands of the Japanese. Considering that this is supposed to be an organization fighting baddies scattered throughout the world, it makes you wonder if either there are more or if the rest of the world is just understaffed. Although, there appears to be kakugane that the organization did not account for, so it may be bigger than they thought.
  • In Soul Eater, we find out that Maka's soul appearing to have wings is because it's a kind only one out of millions of people have. Then, seemingly by complete chance, we meet someone else with one by the end of the chapter this is mentioned.
  • Digimon: The Ultimate and Mega levels are supposed to be nigh-impossible to reach, with very few Digimon ever managing to get to these levels... and yet, between them there are over three hundred separate species that exist at these levels. To say nothing of all the villains who just happen to be at these levels themselves, such as the Dark Masters, or the organisations that consist entirely of Megas, such as the Royal Knights or the Seven Great Demon Lords. Usually averted in the anime, where only the leader's mon tends to reach Mega.
  • Pokémon: The Series: Legendary Pokémon are usually the equivalent of gods in the Pokémon world, or Pokémon created under abnormal circumstances, such as Mewtwo being a genetic experiment. Most are rare if not actually Single Specimen Species, and most are unknown to the Pokémon world at large, but because of the Anime's need to feature every single Pokémon, Ash gets to encounter all of them, often more than one at a time, and the same ones more than once. The list includes an alien from space,note  the incarnations of time and space,note  the gods of lightning, fire, and ice,note  the only clone of Mew,note  and Mew itself. It's ridiculous when you notice it, and makes a person wonder what exactly makes Ash so special in-universe. Not to mention all the various side characters who have at least one Legendary Pokémon, such as a Nurse Joy who has a Latias, Tobias who has both a Latios and a Darkrai, and an unnamed background trainer with a Heatran.
  • In Interviews with Monster Girls the protagonist is a young teacher who wants to write his doctorate thesis about demi-humans (or "demis", the titular "monsters"), but after having spent many years looking for them he doubts that he will ever find one in the flesh since they're extremely rare mutations of human people. Then in the new school, he's assigned to he finds no less than four of them, three students and a teacher, in the space of a few minutes! In the 2017 anime adaptation, he makes this hilariously dejected face after the discovery.

    Comic Books 
  • In the various X-Men books, mutants are supposed to be incredibly rare - and at first they were - but by the time Grant Morrison took over writing the book, there were enough of them to populate an entire country, underground communities in (at least) America, England, and China, and their own "ethnic" neighborhood in New York. After a few massacres and a global event that reduced the canonical number of "known" mutants to 198 and made it literally impossible for new mutants to be born, writers still introduced new mutants on a regular basis - they were just ones that had always been around without anyone noticing instead of people who'd recently gotten powers. Plus of the millions of mutants who were depowered, the majority of them were background or unknown characters; relatively few of the main X-Men and the related teams were affected, and those that were got their powers back before long, or at least became superhuman again by some other means.
    • Omega level mutants, mutants with potential that starts at Physical God and goes up from there. A lot of long-existing mutants that are the earliest recruits to the X-men such as Jean Grey, Iceman, and Storm are retconned into being omega level. Not only are the majority of them directly connected to the protagonists, fortunately almost all of them are neutral to good and almost never experience the power incontinence more prevalent among less powerful mutants that would inadvertently destroy the world if not the universe.
  • Adamantium is an incredibly rare and difficult to work with substance in the Marvel Universe. Wolverine's origin is virtually defined by the conjunction of his regeneration power, adamantium, and deadly combat training. Naturally, several of his enemies have basically those same traits. Not to mention all the times adamantium is used for generally durable construction when steel and titanium just aren't enough.
  • Everyone knows that Superman is the last Kryptonian ... unless you count his cousin, various clones, a number of prisoners in the Phantom Zone, an entire city shrunken down by Brainiac, and even a few household pets. And, Great Scott!, Kryptonite Is Everywhere, to the point it's been suggested Krypton must have been a neutron star to contain so much mass. Every now and then someone will try to work out some tortured rationale to allow him to still officially be "the last son of Krypton" - anything from pointing out that "last son" doesn't preclude other female Kryptonians to claiming that all other living Kryptonians were actually born off-planet to pointing out that, since the planet blew up shortly after his birth, he was the last born son of Krypton. Don't forget Daxamites, Daxam is a planet inhabited by Kryptonians who left Krypton. Most if not all have only conceived with other Daxamites making them full-blooded Kryptonians who happen to live under a red sun.
  • At one point, the Green Lantern Corps' "policy" was 2 members per space sector. Somehow, Earth manages to have 3-4 members at the same time. It's usually explained that while two patrol Earth's sector, the others are special ops stationed on Oa.
    • Made even more glaring by the fact that the four most prominent Terran Green Lanterns (Hal, John, Guy, and Kyle) are all from the same small segment of Earth's population (male US citizens).
    • Mostly averted throughout the Silver Age (and irrelevant in the Golden Age, when there was no Corps). When the Corps basically collapsed on itself post-Millennium, Earth's Green Lantern Retirement Community marketing campaign apparently went into overdrive. Prior to that, it might have been hard to keep track of who was Green Lantern this week, but for the most part they were only one at a time, with an additional one sort of in standby/reserve status. (Alan Scott doesn't count; he was from the Earth-2 universe, never a member of the Corps in the first place, and his ring was explicitly "magical" rather than created by the Guardians' super-science.)
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Transformers with sea-green sparks, labelled Point One Percenters, are supposedly ludicrously rare, so much so that when we see a flashback of one being discovered, the 'bot sent to confirm it states it's the first in a long while. Despite this, there sure are a lot of characters on both sides who have them. Sure, it makes some sense that a number of notable characters would have them... but not so much hi-then-die characters like Animus. In the aftermath of detonating twelve Matrices to overload the Functionist Universe's Vector Sigma, Luna One was bathed in so much energy that millions of new sparks ignited on its surface, including enough sea-green sparks that they were visible for space spelling out Rung's final message of "DON'T FORGET ME". Rodimus joked that they probably shouldn't be called Point One Percenters anymore.

    Fan Works 
  • In Once More With Feeling, materia is supposedly quite rare, with natural materia (which is more powerful than materia made by Shinra) even more so. When he hears this, Cloud points out that you can actually buy natural materia in the slums for a few hundred gil. Genesis is outraged to learn this as he's been hiring adventurers to find him natural materia (at presumably exorbitant prices).
  • People with "talent" (aka the ability to form an empathetic or even telepathic bond with animals) are said to be incredibly rare in Tainted, yet it seems half the handlers and vets at Jurassic World have some level of "talent". Justified in that Masrani Global wanted the very best people for handling dinosaurs and the best trainers and handlers almost always have at least a bit of "talent". The real rarity is Owen's level of it; while most can at best sense some moods and keep animals calm, Owen's bond with the raptors eventually reached telepathic levels.
  • In canon, haki users are extremely rare outside of the New World and completely unheard of outside of the Grand Line. In Watashitachi Wa Roger Kaizoku Desu We Still Stand Proud, it's so common that Buggy doesn't think a crew should even enter Paradise if they don't know the basics.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, the lead character is obsessed with mastering kung fu. Naturally, it turns out all his enemies, friends, and neighbors are secretly kung fu experts of varying ability.
  • Star Wars:
    • In Return of the Jedi, it is strongly implied that turning away from the Dark Side is virtually impossible and Vader doing so in his dying moments short of a miracle. However, later novels, comics, and video games have characters falling to the dark side and coming back a very common occurrence that does not require a great deal of willpower or extraordinary circumstances but can be achieved merely by The Power of Friendship.
    • There is also a very large number of Jedi called "the most powerful Jedi of all time". Which includes four characters from the movies.
  • In most Westerns, especially set during the Civil War era, we see improbably large quantities of the newest and shiniest guns everywhere. At that time most people still used muzzle-loaders, while repeating cartridge-based firearms were just appearing, and they were extremely expensive, not something common farmhands could purchase. Revolvers were pretty expensive too at the beginning. Yet in Westerns, every cowboy and drifter has the newest and shiniest revolver and lever-action rifle, instead of a musket or shotgun most of them used in real life.

  • Harry Potter:
    • Hermione says that there were only seven Animagi registered with the Ministry in the entire century. It is supposedly extremely difficult magic to master. Yet three out of four Marauders (excluding 'Moony', who is a Werewolf, not an Animagus) and Rita Skeeter are unregistered Animagi. That's a 57% increase over the official count, and those are all in the same generation and they're just the ones the trio happens to find out about. It looks like the rarity is people giving up their disguise to the Ministry, rather than learning the magic in the first place. Not a surprise, when you think about it. As touched on in The Tales of Beedle the Bard, being an Animagus has enormous potential for abuse, so it makes sense to think quite a few people would try to master it for their own ends and, if those ends were somewhat less than legal, not tell the Ministry about it.
    • The Patronus Charm is supposed to be very difficult even for skilled adults; Harry learning it at 13 (with great difficulty) marks him as a prodigy. However two years later, he winds up teaching it to a bunch of other students including at least one twelve-year-old, and it seems like every non-evil adult (and Umbridge) can do the spell too, not just the exceptionally gifted ones. It should be noted however, that even by the end of the series, Harry and Dumbledore are the only characters shown being capable of casting a Patronus strong enough to chase away hundreds of Dementors, while even working together, three of Harry's apprentices could only keep them at bay.
  • The Dragonriders of Pern series does this with both powers and storylines:
    • We're told the ability to hear all dragons, other than your own, telepathically linked dragon, is extremely rare, but in the story's "main" time period alone (Masterharper of Pern to The Skies Of Pern chronologically) we have Lessa, Brekke, Aramina and arguably Robinton. This power affects its users differently. Lessa employs it effectively and doesn't think much of it. It becomes a lifeline for Brekke after her own dragon, Wirenth, is killed. It nearly drives Aramina mad, and Robinton simply uses it to chat with any friendly, usually-bronze dragon who'll listen.
      • Subverted in Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern: Recorded history says the titular heroine could speak to all dragons. In truth, she could not, and that was both in an emergency and with a particularly close friendship between the two dragonriders. That doesn't stop Moreta from feeling guilty about it.
      • Possibly all dragons can talk to all humans. It's just they don't. There are a couple of moments explicable only if a dragon talked to a human who never before or again heard a dragon. The "it's just that they (normally) don't" case is explicitly the way it is with Robinton. The dragons began speaking to him because he had earned their respect.
      • Robinton participated in eye-to-eye talks, Aramina communicates like a dragon, including reception of all broadcasts whether she wants it or not, and Lessa is a true telepath who manipulated humans and dogs and was noticed by all nearby dragons upon "thinking too loud". Pernese gene pool is clearly full of mentasynth mod — but Eridani methods were said to be barely understandable at best. Maybe not only it doesn't always come to later generations in one piece but combines with Human genetic diversity to fairly random results.
    • It's also rare for a dragon to speak to anyone who's not their rider. Quite a few dragons are pretty chatty with outsiders. It's often used to demonstrate how suitable a potential, non-rider love interest is for a dragonrider ("if my dragon likes them, they must be perfect!"). This undermines the mandate that a dragonrider's first love is their dragon, and no human can compare. It removes any potential jealousy between love interest and dragon by making them friends.
    • "Impressing" (bonding with) a dragon without being formally presented as a potential rider is also a "freak event"; yet in the course of the series, we have Jaxom, Mirrim, T'lion, and Tai, as well as (arguably) Debera and K'van. It's most likely Rule of Drama. It may be more of an organizational issue after Lessa overhauled everything.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series features lifebonds, which, in spite of being "incredibly rare", are all over the place in the earlier books of the series. This includes two instances of characters lifebonding again after their first lifebond partner dies, and mention of the possibility of a three-way lifebond. Lackey cuts back considerably on the occurrences of lifebonds in later books, but there's still a character who lifebonds with his own magic telepathic horse. Silverfox also gives the in-universe explanation in a later book: the Collegium is concentrating most of the Gifted in Valdemar in one spot, and they're the most likely to form lifebonds.
  • In the Black Jewels series, the Blood (magic-using races) are in the minority among the general population, but all the main characters and 99.9% of the minor characters are Blood. Since the Blood are the ones with magic, it makes sense that they control the government, religion, etc. Landens (ordinary people) barely even show up as servants, although we do see Blood maids, cooks, and butlers. In fact, up until Tangled Webs, a casual reader might overlook the existence of landens altogether.
  • In the Dragonlance novels, Kender are described as being totally fearless, so that when something is just so terrifying that even Tasslehoff is afraid of it, you just know it's a big deal ... until around the third or so time it happens. Then you start to think Kender just have good P.R. guys.
  • In H. P. Lovecraft's stories, eldritch tomes like the Necronomicon are supposed to be extremely rare, and also damaging to one's sanity. Yet most of Lovecraft's protagonists seem to be pretty familiar with their contents. For instance, multiple members of the Antarctic expedition in At the Mountains of Madness have read the Necronomicon and know what Elder Things were supposed to look like. This may be justified by the fact that most of Lovecraft's characters are erudite New Englanders, and Harvard and Miskatonic are two of the few places where the book is known to be kept.
  • In Shannon Messenger's Keeper of the Lost Cities, Telepaths are in high demand and are stated to be rare, so much that young elves hope to manifest as Telepaths during their teenage years. Stated being the key word here. Indeed, thorough the course of the Books, nearly half of the Elves we are introduced to turn out to be Telepaths, and Telepathy is the most represented Talent (superpower) within the main cast. What more, most Talents are stated to be rare and actually are, with some of them only having one or two representatives, but none outweighs the prestige being a Telepath gives, with Telepaths being trusted with most governmental secrets. But it could just be because Mr. Forkle, assuming several identities, is most of them, but Telepathy is still the most common ability amongst the cast, despite being cited as rare.
  • Wax and Wayne: "Twinborn" with the power of both allomancy and feruchemy are supposed to be very rare due to the attenuation of magical genes since Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, but the protagonist, his sidekick, and the villain of the first book are all twinborn. Acknowledged by Word of God:
    You can say something is very rare, but if your two main characters are that thing, readers won't FEEL it. So I avoid making too big a deal out of it either way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • True Blood: Practically everyone in Bon Temps has some kind of magic power.
  • In an example of this happening as There Is Another taken too far, Superman's the Last of His Kind, except there's one more. And then another, and then another, until it was said by fans that Jor-El and Lara are the only people who died on the destruction of Krypton. In Smallville, other Kryptonians are constantly being tripped over, though they tend not to survive the episode.
  • Thankfully, if surprisingly averted in Doctor Who. Maybe it's just in comparison to how many people are accused of being a Time Lord, but, taking into consideration how long the show's been running, there aren't all that many Time Lords.
  • In M*A*S*H, 12-year-old Scotch was said to be rare, but people often traded cases or at least bottles of the stuff fairly often.
    • 12-year-old Scotch can be purchased today in any liquor store for about $40 a liter. Obtaining it in Korea on the front lines during the war, however, would be harder to do. It may have been more a case of most combat zone "importers" getting the cheapest stuff they can get, but being open to obtaining higher-priced merchandise if the profit is there.
      • Not to mention, 12-year-old Scotch is rare depending on the year. If it's a bad year for barley, then 12 years later there's a shortage of 12-year-old Scotch. Since the Korean War years were all 12 years after a year during WWII, there may not have been as much 12-year-old Scotch then. So it may have been rarer than it was ten years earlier. But it wasn't rare like a T-Rex femur. It was rare like an American who speaks two languages fluently.
  • Naquada in the Stargate SG-1 seems to be this. It seems to be everywhere in the galaxy...except Earth. Whole episodes have been devoted to trying to get a steady supply of it from other planets.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Considering there's no way to grow tobacco in space, there are a lot of cigarettes and cigars because Smoking Is Cool.
    • Alcohol is also plentiful and not necessarily of the homemade variety. What's even more jarring is that the first season shows Chief Tyrol making moonshine to trade for engine parts and Adama giving Starbuck his last cigar, suggesting these things were running out, but there are still smokes and booze left to spare even after the food supply is reduced to just processed algae. Of course, Ron Moore is known to be fond of scotch and cigarettes, so there might be a good reason why alcohol and tobacco never run out.
  • The Flash (2014): Barry Allen is "the fastest man alive", as he claims at the intro to every episode... unless you count every other speedster, who was faster than him. So far, the show has shown a total of 15 speedsters (Flash [Barry Allen], Reverse-Flash, Zoom, Velocity, Flash [Jay Garrick], the Rival, Jesse Quick, Kid Flash, the Accelerated Man, Savitar, Blitzkrieg, Flash [Iris West], Flash [Barry Allen from Earth-90], XS, and Godspeed) plus 3 aliens with superspeed (Supergirl, Superman, and Mon-El) and a power-stealing extradimensional being (Music Meister). Cisco's "vibe" powers also seem to be getting more and more common, thus far including Vibe (Cisco), Reverb (Cisco from Earth-2), Gypsy, Breacher, and an unnamed metahuman mentioned by Killer Frost.
  • Supergirl (2015) is yet another example of the Superman-franchise where it shows that surviving the explosion of Krypton isn't as uncommon as many thought. Not only did a lot of Krypton's citizens survive, maybe even more in the other adaptations of the Superman-mythos, with the city of Argo being still fully intact - both of Supergirl's parents turn out to be alive.
    • A similar case with the Martian Manhunter: Being the last surviving Green Martian as well as the loss of his family in the war against the White Martians are established as a big part of his backstory. However, later seasons not only reveal that two other Green Martians did survive too, both of them turn out to be J'onn J'onzz's direct relatives, his father and his brother.
  • Star Trek has an in-universe example. The Trill species takes the official position that only a very small percentage of their population (around 1 in 1,000) is suitable for joining with a Trill symbiont. The truth is that closer to half the population could be joined, but the various governments have covered it up for hundreds of years out of fear that the symbionts (which there are only one for every thousand Trill) would be traded or sold like commodities if the truth were known.
    • Early on in The Next Generation, placements at Starfleet Academy were made out to be extremely exclusive, with child prodigy Wesley Crusher one of half a dozen in consideration and even then, far from guaranteed a spot. Since then, the franchise has depicted the Academy as a demanding and prestigious school, but far from being out of the reach of your average citizen. Notably, Nog is able to get a place and graduate just fine, even though he was illiterate just a few years before!
  • In Charmed (1998), relationships between witches and Whitelighters were initially presented as "unthinkable:" Piper and Leo had to fight for years to get married, and half-Whitelighter Paige had to be given to Muggle Foster Parents to avoid the Elders' wrath. Then, in the season eight episode "The Last Temptation of Christy", we suddenly meet Simon Marks, a half-Whitelighter who's from a prestigious magical family and, according to a blink and you'll miss it pedigree, apparently has married parents and three brothers. No mention is made of any drama about this, and it seems odd that nobody mentioned this family until now.
  • On The Orville, Moclans are a One-Gender Race, all male. Moclan can be born female, but this is treated as a Million to One Chance. But within the handful of named Moclan that we see, there are three that were born female. Since the standard procedure in this scenario is to surgically alter them to be male and one that went through this kept his status a secret even from his mate, the actual gender ratio for Moclan is unknown.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Space 1889 leftover technology from the Canal Builders is many millennia old and very very rare. Yet it seems to show up in more than half of the Martian adventures.
  • The psychic-and-Warp-power-nullifying Blanks from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. They're held up to be vanishingly rare, yet they show up in almost any fiction not primarily starring the Adeptus Astartes. Jurgen.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, only one in a trillion people ever become a planeswalker, which means that most planes shouldn't have a native one, and planes with more than one should be almost unheard of. In practice, Dominaria has around a dozen native planeswalkers, and planes with at least three seem to be more common than planes that don't have any.
  • The Foogle Bird in Toon is the Last of Its Kind. It's later established that there are many, many subspecies of Foogle Bird. All of them are down to the last of their kind, but in practical terms there are loads of Foogle Birds around.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion takes this to ridiculous levels. Enemy levels are scaled to yours: this means that grunt bandits with cut-rate, bargain-basement weapons and armor will eventually be wielding the fabled Glass equipment, stated in-game to be incredibly rare. Even if you can accept that there is somehow enough Glass to go around, they nonetheless fight like ordinary bandits, so this leaves us another question: how the hell did they get this equipment in the first place, seeing how beating these guys up and selling their armor is one of the best ways of making money in the game?
      • It gets worse by the time they start wearing Daedric armor, which can only be obtained by killing a powerful demon.
      • Actually subverted with the Unicorn, though. The Unicorn, because there's only one in the entire game. Hircine has you kill it.
    • Most of the above also applies to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and is even worse in some ways. At high enough levels bandits will eventually start dropping Dragonbone equipment, which in-story is even more rare than Daedric equipment. For context, it's been so long since anyone's seen a dragon that the craft of working with their bones and scales has been entirely lost, and is re-invented from scratch by the player character. The perk only becomes available once you fully max out your smithing skill, you're the only smith in the world who can make the stuff, and it's so expensive that selling even one item will completely bankrupt any merchant (until you wait long enough for their stock to replenish). Logically, that means every Dragonbone sword carried by some random bandit was crafted by you. How he got a hold of it is as much a mystery as why he's living in a cave harassing travelers instead of selling it for a fortune and living like a Jarl. Fridge Logic kicks in if you haven't bothered to take the perk and you're still finding these things everywhere.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Franchise-wide, dragons themselves could count. The current age is so named because at the end of the Blessed Age the first High Dragon was seen well over 200 years after they were thought hunted to extinction. Yet across the first three games (which take place over a 10-year period), the player can encounter and kill no less than 15 High Dragons (not counting Archdemons and Flemeth) as well as countless Dragonlings and Drakes. 12 of these are in the third game, which suggests they're making a rapid comeback.
    • Dragon Age: Origins prominently features The Joining, a ritual that gives Grey Wardens their powers, but also has a reasonable chance to kill them. In the main game, this trope is averted—fully half of those who take The Joining onscreen (including you) do not survive the ritual. In the expansion, however, almost every character in your party takes The Joining, and only one dies from it. Of course, it's the one who actually wanted to be a Warden and had been training for it.
      • In the novel The Calling, both Genevieve and her brother underwent the Joining together and survived. This also includes Duncan and Alistair's mother.
  • From Magical Starsign, the Celestial Swap spell, which lets the user rearrange the planets to power up astrological magic. When it's first used by Master Chard, it's treated like an awe-inspiring display of power. Then your teacher Madeline (a mysterious and very powerful mage who also taught Chard) gives you a book from which you can learn the spell. But the spell starts to become increasingly common around the halfway point; by the end of the game, nearly every boss and several random monsters can use Celestial Swap.
  • The remake of The Bard's Tale uses this as a Running Gag and a plot point.
    Oh, it's bad luck to be you / a chosen one of many isn't new...
  • The Kingdom Hearts series has Keyblade wielders, who died out in a great war prior to the first game. There were only two people after that who could summon a keyblade, and even that only happened because the first guy succumbed to darkness before taking up the Call. The last game involves eight Keyblade wielders with a potential ninth, only seven of which are on the heroes' side.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, adamantine is a virtually unbreakable, ultra-lightweight metal that is supposedly so rare that the king of your civilization will take an interest in your outpost should you uncover some - but it can be found on any map if you dig straight down far enough, which only takes a few real-life minutes after the game starts. Players are discouraged from mining it not by its rarity, but by the dangers involved in doing so.
  • In League of Legends, there are empowered mortals known as Aspects of Targon. Representing a specific power of Targon, they are highly rare. Except in the games present, there are six of them running about Runeterra. The Aspect of War (Pantheon), the Aspect of the Sun (Leona), the Aspect of the Moon (Diana), the Aspect of the Protector (Taric), the Aspect of Twilight (Zoe), and the Aspect of Justice (Kayle). A beyond unusual occurrence, and believed by many in-game characters to be a warning of a great coming cataclysm.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords ultimately the only non-droid party member who doesn't turn out to be Force-sensitive is Mandalore (and Hanharr for dark-side players). Every other meatbag on your ship is either already a Force-user or can be trained as one with a high enough relationship score. This does have a level of justification, considering the rather weird way the Exile's powers work.
  • BattleTech plays this trope straight on several levels. First, it's set in the Periphery, where mechs are generally rare to begin with and at a point in time where having an intact, fully-functional mech wasn't all that common in the Inner Sphere if you weren't a member of a prestigious military unit. Second, it has numerous mechs and variants that are used only by a single faction show up regularly. For example, the Jenner, Panther, Dragon, and CPLT-K2 variant of the Catapult are all used almost exclusively by the Draconis Combine, which is on the opposite side of the Inner Sphere from where the game is set, hundreds of light-years away. Finally, the game features SLDF Royal Battlemechs. While the Star League was known to have more advanced mechs than anyone else, the Royal variants of their Battlemechs were something that was so secret that nobody in the setting at that point in time aside from the Clans (who were descended from the SLDF and had their documents) even knew they existed. You can find them for sale on a regular basis in the black market.
  • Similar to the Anime (see above) the in-game descriptions of many Pokémon implies they are the products of some exceptionally unique set of circumstances ("born only during a full moon from the seed of a plant that only blooms once a millennia watered by the tears of a dying manticore" etc.), yet in practice, you may simply encounter them as common grunts during gameplay. So-called "Legendary" Pokémon, likewise, are starting to seem a bit less remarkable these days given how there are now at least several dozen different across the series. Not to mention how common battles between the exact same supposedly one-of-a-kind legendary Pokémon can be thanks to battles between two different owners of the same game.
  • Fish Tycoon and Fish Tycoon 2: If you managed to get two species of fish that when bred together, give you one of the seven magic fishes of Isola, you can invoke this trope by selling them at marked-up prices, since you are mass-breeding them.
  • In a funny case of this happening in real life, Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival came bundled with a Digby amiibo, which was intended to be a special limited edition only available in the first wave. However, amiibo Festival was a bit of a flop, leading to stores putting the first wave on clearance and never bothering to get a second—and as a result, it's hard to find a copy of the game that isn't a special limited edition.
  • A rather similar thing happened with the limited edition of Halo 2, which came with a special metal cover, though for different reasons: while the game was a hit, its status as a limited edition was, in the words of Guru Larry and Wez, only limited in the sense that there is a limited supply of metal in the universe. It was produced in such numbers that it's actually cheaper on some sites than the standard edition.
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, silver swords could count. Story-wise, they're an uncommon enough sight that Geralt carrying one immediately marks him as a witcher to the general populace, and Ciri doesn't acquire her first one until Geralt has one custom-made for her after the main quest is finished. But in gameplay, you can find hundreds of them in loot chests, and dozens of diagrams. Given that they're level-locked items, you'll probably use many, many different silver swords throughout the game as you level up.

  • In El Goonish Shive, out of the roughly thousand humans who are Seers, three end up eligible to advise the Will of Magic. Tedd is one. The second lives in the same town as Tedd and knows of him and the third is directly related to him.
    • Mind, being a Seer is genetic, so it's not that much of a surprise that a family that produced one will produce another.

    Web Original 
  • In Paradise, even though only 1% of those who change into Funny Animal forms also change gender at the same time, and even fewer change gender multiple times, the wish-fulfillment nature of the setting means that a remarkable number of gender-changed (and a couple of multiple-gender-change) furries are represented in the stories, particularly as main characters. (It's not at all improbable that they'd group together, though.)

    Western Animation 
  • A similar phenomenon existed in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with the Turtles encountering many, many, one-shot characters and extraordinary objects that had a turtle-related theme. There was no in-story reason why so many extraterrestrial aliens, ancient artifacts, and so on should bear resemblances to a turtle, but somehow, the Turtles kept on meeting up with other turtles. Also the long-lost sister Venus de Milo. Remember Venus? She had the baby blue mask.
  • In Gargoyles, the Manhattan Clan initially thought that they were the Last of Their Kind, save for the villainous Demona. However, during the World Tour Arc, the protagonists discover other clans existing in Avalon, London, Guatemala, and Japan. Word of God puts the worldwide population at about 400 (still definitely endangered, especially since gargoyles reproduce slowly) and says that a total of twelve clans would have been discovered or founded had the series continued.

Alternative Title(s): Probability Pileup