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There are some things you just can't plan for. And an opponent from completely outside your genre is one of them. A cowboy is not expecting to fight demons, a demon is not expecting to fight aliens. In more mild cases, this simply requires a readjustment of tactics, but more extreme situations (such as Cthulhu showing up on a Buddy Cop Show) are simply going to end quickly and messily.

Subtrope of Outside-Context Problem and Genre Refugee; supertrope to Vile Villain, Saccharine Show.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Wanna know who The Man Behind the Curtain is in Soul Hunter? There's several and they're all aliens.
  • In Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro, you'd expect the next major villain to be a demon, since Neuro is a demon and all. Only one other demon is ever shown in the series and Neuro easily controls him. Instead, the series goes in a completely unexpected direction by making the first truly major arc follow a super powerful AI that can turn people into criminals and slaves via brainwashing. How do they top that? Six humans who are really, really evil. That evil is where they get their superpowers, in fact. A series about a demon detective never once goes the supernatural route.
  • The D-Reaper of Digimon Tamers. The series' writer decided that the final boss would be neither Digimon nor human. The result was something that the heroes or the audience would have never expected.
  • Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl: Ash and his friends once encountered an actual ghost. While there are many Ghost type Pokemon, the one they faced was a human ghost that was going drag them into its realm.
  • Toriko has been a simple Good vs. Evil story of the benevolent IGO vs the monstrous Gourmet Corp, which is why, a third power, consisting of hidden agents within both groups, collaborating with wealthy folk called NEO take everyone off guard.
  • Dragon Ball was a martial arts/comedy show in a world with some futuristic sci-fi elements and many more magical elements, and Goku and company dealing primarily with armies, powerful martial artists, and the occasional monster. Then came "Demon King Piccolo" who was a force of pure evil who took the franchise to its darkest point (albeit, even though that was the original show's penultimate arc, that's still quite an early point). Then the sequel series came and completely changed the direction into a strong sci-fi bent, with the first enemy being Goku's big brother, who revealed both of them were aliens. DBZ had practically changed genres into a martial arts/sci-fi show (though deities and the afterlife were strong elements), the final threat, Majin Buu, is an Eldritch Abomination, and nobody knows where it came from.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a Magical Girl show where the adorable, fluffy cat-weasel mentor for the protagonists is actually a villain ripped straight from a Cosmic Horror Story. Kyubey is revealed to be a Manipulative Bastard who follows it’s own Blue and Orange Morality while dooming the protagonists and humanity as a whole to an unimaginable fate.

    Comic Books 
  • The storylines in Ramba normally dealt with mobsters, drug dealers, mercenaries, etc. In "Vendetta From Hell", Ramba fights a black magic coven that summons a demon in an attempt to kill her. This was the only appearance of the supernatural in the series.
  • Fighting (and beating) cosmic beings may now be passé in superhero comics, but in its original context the "Galactus Trilogy" from Fantastic Four fits this. The appearance of an all-powerful "villain" that was beyond good and evil, and who immediately put the protagonists in a literally helpless situation, was unprecedented in superhero stories at the time.
    The Human Torch: We're like ants... just ants... ants!!
  • After Age of Ultron, Galactus has taken this to another level — he's been displaced to Ultimate Marvel. Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand begins with him appearing out of nowhere and vaporising a chunk of New York without so much as an "I HUNGER." The Ultimates only start to understand what they're dealing with after Tony Stark matches his energy signature to 616 Peter Parker.
  • In the "Burnt Offering" arc of Cable & Deadpool, Cable is kicking the collective asses of Deadpool and the X-Men. The authorities call in... the Silver Surfer, whom even Cable didn't expect, resulting in an epic beatdown and eventual semi-depowering (even though Cable breaks the Surfer's board). This is notable since the Fantastic Four and X-Men characters rarely interact, so the Silver Surfer (who rarely intervenes in Earth's affairs even within Fantastic Four storylines) appearing really was a surprise.
  • Deadpool himself becomes this in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, as his Medium Awareness gets a boost, letting him subject the whole of the Marvel Universe to a Just Shoot Him scenario, where Plot Armor no longer applies.
  • Fenris from Lucifer is known, vaguely, by many of the characters, but since the conflict and all of the big hitters are Judeo-Christian in origin very few of them take a minor character from a forgotten religion very seriously. Lucifer himself warns them not to underestimate the guy and still ends up getting outplayed and very nearly killed, and Fenris eventually ends up with the largest major character kill count and a very good claim at being the Big Bad.
  • One A Nightmare on Elm Street comic had Freddy deal with this, when the teenagers he's after try to destroy him by summoning an ancient Mayan monster that can dwell within dreams like he can.
    Freddy: What the fuck?
  • In IDW's Transformers works, neither side is expecting the forces of the Dead Universe to appear, as shown by their curb-stomping any Autobot and Decepticon they encounter in the process of gathering up Jhiaxus' stuff for their own ends. The fact that they have been missing, presumed dead for several million years, helps.
    • The Revolution crossover, meanwhile, has both the Autobots and most of the humans caught off guard by the appearances of Baron Karza and the Dire Wraiths, neither of whom they knew about (excepting Miles Mayhem, who had been working with both, and some of the members of G.I. Joe and the US government who had been replaced by Wraiths some time before).
  • The Ultimates: The team was used to dealing with normal threats, like mad mutant terrorists, shapeshifting alien Nazis, and super-soldiers gone wrong. They're completely blindsided by an actual, factual god like Loki. Not to mention The Colonel, the first fully successful super-soldier since Captain America himself, or the entire army of super-soldiers they brought with them.
  • Atomic Robo:
    • Atomic Robo is an expert in insane superscience and regularly deals with stuff like Nazi mad scientists, vampires from another dimension, military superweapons and kaiju. But in Atomic Robo and the Shadow from Beyond Time, he's up against an Eldritch Abomination that exists outside of linear time. He spends several decades between its attacks researching it and trying to figure out the context.
    • In Atomic Robo and the Knights of the Golden Circle, Robo finds himself in an equally out-of-context situation: he's been blown back in time into the Wild West, when he had been thoroughly convinced that time travel was completely impossible. He's deathly scared of changing history or causing a time paradox, though it ultimately looks to be a Stable Time Loop.
  • Tex Willer is usually a straight western series... With a number of villains capable of using magic, hidden cities of Aztecs, Maya and others showing up once in a while, and a story arc including straight-up aliens.
  • The story "Wolf Hunt" from Wild Storm's Resident Evil #3 pitted Jill Valentine against a werewolf that had no apparent connection to the genetic experiments being conducted by the Umbrella Corporation.

    Fan Works 
  • Last Child of Krypton: Darkseid was this to NERV. Giant aliens? Sure, we can deal with it. An ancient, malevolent, overwhelming powerful alien God of Evil? Hell, no.
  • Deoxys in Latias' Journey, an Eldritch Abomination of Warhammer 40,000 proportions... in what starts out as a pretty straightforward Pokémon story.
  • In the The Culture/Harry Potter crossover Culture Shock, the Culture finds it hard to believe that Potterverse wizards, for all they appear primitive, can manipulate both layers of the Grid simultaneously, something only an even more advanced faction had previously demonstrated, nevermind things like the moving paintings that they can't even explain.
  • The Master of Death: Outsiders are this by definition, but even discounting what Potter specifically can do, Potterverse spells can do things like transfiguration that the Dresdenverse has no conception of.
  • Zero vs Kira: Thanks to the Death Note, Light is this to the Britanians and Black Knights alike.
  • Death Note Equestria: Thanks to the powers of the Death Note (which even she doesn't fully understand), Twilight Sparkle as Kira becomes this to the entire Equestrian government. That said, just as L is figuring out the limits and rules of her powers, the golems suddenly show up, taking both sides by surprise.
  • Equestrylvania: The reason Dracula's forces are so effective against Equestria's military is that they come out of nowhere, and are like nothing the ponies have ever faced before.
  • The God Empress of Ponykind: Discord, due to not acting like a normal Chaos Daemon. Not even the Chaos Gods know what he is or where he came from.
  • The Bridge: Several pony characters remark on how nothing could have prepared them for a Kaiju. Likewise, numerous kaiju characters have no context for some of the Equestrian villains. Xenilla has to seek out a unicorn expert just to figure out anything about King Sombra. In a case of Dramatic Irony, almost all of the characters have no idea the Big Bad Bagan even exists. The few who have heard of him think he isn't due to arrive for another 30,000 years, leaving them unprepared as they don't know the sealing magic has failed.
  • The adult fan fic Wandering Pilot gives the feminist world of Queen's Blade the main protagonist of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Because of how he's from a world different from their own (Humongous Mecha with psychological horror for the best examples) in addition to being a very unusual kind of boy, every badass woman has her eyes toward him. Of course, this is more than just a mere harem fic as he's only interested in helping people, yet his insertion and new unique powers he himself can't comprehend causes changes and problems for everyone.
  • The Superwomen of Eva series: the appearance of true-to-Kami-no-it's-not-an-Angel-plot-no-it's-not-something-you-drank-no-we-are-not-making-this-up superheroes (or rather, superheroines) hits every single person good and bad within the cast that already had some issues from living in the world of one of the archetypical "Super Robot with Dysfunction Junction" anime shows like a brick to the face, and the start of their Character Development (or their Start of Darkness) is their struggle to wrap their minds around this fact.
  • A certain untitled Draconia Chronicles fanfic has a human space colony ship put down in the No-Woman's Land between the Draconic Empire and the Tiger Territories. When the dragons attack, they're ground into hamburger by AA cannons. When the tigers attack, they're shitstomped by Space Marines with Powered Armor and laser guns. Both factions decide to leave the humans be, because if this is what they're like defensively, what'll it be like when they're mad?
  • Arturia is as such in A Knight's Tale as Inquisitor ever since she landed in Thedas, with this trope being one reason why she's so efficient in dealing with the (most recent) clustermess that is plaguing the world. In a land of Dark Fantasy so used to dragons of various stages, the occasional Blight, in addition to the religious zealots and vicious nobles regularly roaming around and about, positively NO ONE foresaw an unusually competent teenager (who is not at all a teenager) that wields the holy sword to end all holy swords, which NO ONE of the resident Five Races (who are much more accustomed to the Low Fantasy their world tends to lean into more often than not) have at all bore witness to such an degree up until the point of Arturia's arrival, all while she easily No Sells any magic that doesn't belong to an Archmage due to having such high Magic Resistance thanks to herself essentially being the reincarnation of a dragon. This only increases as the Anchor begins changing Arturia into something even she's not sure of anymore.
  • In Dangerous Tenant, the Resident Evil series, which is basically a shooting game as characters fight their way through hordes of zombies, finds a new hero in the form of the Doctor (Doctor Who) after he arrives in their world by accident; where his allies could only shoot down the attacking zombies and try to stop the virus being released to create more, the Doctor is able to scientifically analyse the available information about the T-virus and devise a new version that will be perfectly harmless to humanity but render them all immune to the mutative effects of the T-virus from then on.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man, a Human Popsicle from the 20th century awoken in a future of Perfect Pacifist People; to counter this threat, they unfreeze an old-school cop familiar with violence. OK, Dr. Cocteau probably did expect him, just not that he would find a way around his Restraining Bolt and take over.
  • This is how the aliens are viewed in Cowboys & Aliens. As a result, they're initially referred to as "demons", something the cowboys do have context for.
  • Little Shop of Horrors begins by setting up the main character's situation as a loser who lives on the Wrong Side of the Tracks, works for his abusive father figure in a failing business and has an unrequited crush on his attractive coworker who is regularly beaten by her scumbag boyfriend. Then a talking alien plant shows up.
  • In The Avengers, Loki is, as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanova (a.k.a. Black Widow) puts it, "nothing we were trained for" — most of the eponymous superteam are used to terrorists with fancy weapons, not mad physical gods from another dimension. Fortunately, Loki's elder brother Thor has dealt with his crap before and joins the human heroes.
  • The Long Good Friday is about a London gangster whose operations suddenly come under attack from an unknown party. He assumes that it's a rival mob trying to take over his territory, but eventually discovers that it's the IRA. He has no idea why they're after him, and his advisers warn that they operate in a completely different world than him.
  • At the climax of Gangs of New York, the opposing gangs are facing off ready for a mass street fight according to the "ancient rules of combat", armed to the teeth with knives, clubs, and axes. And then, just as they're about to begin, they're hit by artillery fire, and the army marches in and starts shooting everyone. Suddenly the long blood feud is forgotten as the two sides unite in the struggle to survive.
  • I Come in Peace: The alien drug dealer arrives in the middle of a botched sting operation to kill the human gangsters. Later, he kills more of them when they arrive to kill protagonist Jack Caine.
  • The aliens from the beginning of Transformers: Age of Extinction, when they appear 65 million years ago. The dinosaurs have no idea what is going on when they show up en-masse and proceed to turn the planet's surface into metal.
  • Predator is a great example. It's basically a war/action movie, with experienced soldiers going on what looks to them and the audience like another jungle squirmish, to fight a typical guerilla. Then the hyper-advanced alien comes in, hijacks the plot, and turns the movie into a completely different genre. The characters go from seasoned soldiers on a mission to the playthings of something that sees hunting them as an enjoyable hobby, and couldn't be more confused about it.
  • Predator 2 opens like a late-80s Dirty Harry-style crime-action film, with rival gangs shooting up the streets of Los Angeles and the LAPD struggling to handle them. Then an alien hunter shows up and becomes a bigger problem.
  • For pretty much all of his adventures, James Bond is normally tasked with defeating the world-domination oriented plots of European and/or Asian villains. In Live and Let Die, however, Bond finds himself facing off against a Caribbean-based drug ring, led by a dictator with Hollywood Voodoo powers. In the same movie — though "foe" is something of a stretch in this case — J.W. Pepper is your typical Southern sheriff who suddenly finds himself caught up in Bond's wake, notably during a speedboat chase. (He encountered Bond while on vacation in the next movie, much to both his and Bond's surprise.)
  • Horror films are fond of this trope, especially when starting off as crime thrillers, often resulting in an Enemy Mine situation:
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Thanos, the alien warlord with god-like powers granted by the Infinity Gauntlet is this to many of the heroes he fights in the movie. While Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy aren't necessarily strangers to alien threats, Dr. Strange is sworn to fight against magical dangers, Spider-Man confronts street-level criminals, Captain America and Iron Man handle dangerous terrorists and Black Panther guards Wakanda from invaders. Thanos is unlike anything they had to contend with before, and even Thor and the Guardians are shown to not be enough to fight him either.

    Literature 
  • Blood Meridian is, for the most part, a mundane (if tragic and horifically violent) work of historical fiction. The only exception is the enigmatic figure Judge Holden, a villain transplanted from a Cosmic Horror Story. Killing him appears to be a complete impossibility, and people who attract his attention never seem to survive in the long run. The implication seems to be that he is either an unknown Humanoid Abomination, Satan, or the abstract concept of war given human form.
  • In Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Space Hotel USA is invaded by Vermicious Knids, carnivorous aliens who have decimated several planets' populations but cannot invade Earth itself (they burn up in its atmosphere). Humanity is almost completely unaware of their existence, and the crew and guests of the hotel can only run for their lives when they attack. Luckily, an exception to humanity's unawareness is up there with them — Willy Wonka, who knows all about the creatures and whose Great Glass Elevator is actually Knidproof. Although it takes some doing, he manages to rescue the remaining crew and guests, making him an Outside Context Hero against the Knids.
  • The Vord in Codex Alera come as a nasty shock to the Alerans, who are more or less Roman Legionaries with Elementals powers. They're use to dealing with the Marat, the Canim, the Icemen, and each other. These other races are (as the books explore) not all that different from the Alerans when you get down to it and would fit more or less into another fantasy setting. The Vord, meanwhile, are basically the Zerg from StarCraft or Warhammer 40000 Tyranids even to the point that it's implied they are a space faring race. The only information about them the Alerans have is bits of nearly-forgotten Marat folklore from the last time they almost ate the planet, and they certainly seem like they found their way into the wrong series.
  • Demigods & Magicians:
    • Percy Jackson is not able to defeat the Son of Sobek because it comes from Egyptian mythology rather than Greek, so he needs Carter Kane's help dealing with it.
    • Likewise Annabeth, with all her knowledge of Greek monsters, has no idea what to make of the head of the staff of Serapis when she sees it, particularly since it's incomplete at the time. After she meets Sadie and finds out about the Egyptian side she's able to start making connections, and even figures out who the staff belongs to, but still Serapis, a god born of the melding of Greek and Egyptian legends, makes her feel as though he turns her entire world inside out simply by existing. And then she finds out that he was set loose by Setne, a master of a form of magic she's never encountered before. The outside context is mitigated somewhat by the presence of the Kanes, who are familiar with the Egyptian side, and help bring Percy and Annabeth up to speed.
  • In "The Depths of Shadows" by Jack Butler, a hardened team of heavily armed, heavily cybered up street samurai walk right out of a William Gibsonesque world into a Dwindling Party nightmare when they encounter an honest to God vampire.
  • Discworld: In Sourcery, Coin the Sourcerer walks into Unseen University and starts altering the whole world with limitless magical power, the first sourcerer to show up in centuries. Discworld's wizards normally have to work within fairly consistent rules and limits, largely because they can only draw upon and channel natural background magic that already exists in the environment; sourcerers can generate magic — or at least draw it in from Somewhere Else where it's functionally infinite — completely at will, meaning that they can brute-force reality itself by sheer power until the only explanation for what they do is A Sourcerer Did It, This is highlighted by the fact that even Lord Vetinari is caught completely off-guard and spends most of the book as a small lizard. His credentials as a schemer and anticipator have not yet been established at this point in the series, but even if they had, there's no reason he would ever have anticipated this.
  • Happens in The Elric Saga. Elric's main foes are various evil wizards and the gods who are embodiments of chaos. In the novel Sailor on the Seas of Fate, he is suddenly summoned to join a host of other warriors to combat an enemy that threatens the entire universe, a pair of alien sorcerers from another universe that popped in from a science experiment from billions of years in the future and aren't bound by the laws of Elric's cosmos. He himself is an out-of-context solution, as he's revealed to be an incarnation of the cosmic Eternal Champion and he's to merge with three other Eternal Champion incarnations to fight the alien sorcerers on their own terms, the other warriors were simply recruited to be cannon-fodder. Nowhere before was it ever indicated that Elric was anything other than a med-dependent, bookish albino prince and later in other novels outside a few ancient immortals, almost no-one on Earth is shown to have any knowledge of the Eternal Champion.
  • In the Mistborn series, up until the end of the second book, everyone has been dealing with understandable threats: The Lord Ruler was a badass but defeatable foe in the first book, while the various kings struggling for power, including the army of koloss, were predictable and understandable, if dangerous and well-armed, foes. Then in comes Ruin, who is a literal god of destruction and unmaking.
  • Legrys Mor in Murder at Colefax Manor is a a Lovecraftian Eldritch Abomination inside an otherwise fairly normal murder mystery.
  • From the point of view of the bad guys (and readers), this is what happens in Weber's Out of the Dark. So you got your typical science-fiction alien invasion of Earth opposed by assorted teams of Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, but there's really no way humans can win, since genocide by biological warfare would be fairly easy for the aliens if things get too out of hand... and then a ludicrously overpowered to the point of ridiculous Dracula decides he's getting tired of all this alien invasion shit.
  • The main characters of Relativity are all superheroes. The villains are all, well, supervillains. Both sides are pretty evenly matched, all things considered. And then along comes Phanthro, who can travel through time and alter history...
  • The Reynard Cycle: If the backstory is to be believed, the Demons "fell from the heavens" and enslaved the entire world in seven days. And there were only seven of them.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • When you say "space adventure about a magical force", you (impassively or fondly) think of Star Wars. When you say "religiously sadomasochistic alien zealots", you blank out. When you add "that are immune to The Force", you get the Yuuzhan Vong. Extremely unusual addition or not, those guys dominated a large portion of the post-Palpatine era. A subversion might come into play, since there are theories that Palpatine, having foreseen the invasion through the Force, orchestrated the Clone War and the Galactic Civil War specifically to prepare the Galaxy.
    • Abeloth also comes to mind. Really, an Eldritch Abomination as the Big Bad for a Star Wars book? And meta too: You know you're in Star Wars Legends when Lighter and Softer is Lovecraft IN SPACE! And it's no joke about this being Lighter and Softer than Legacy of the Force.
  • Predating Abeloth by several decades is J. R. R. Tolkien's Ungoliant. Tolkien's Legendarium is a High Fantasy setting where Eru Ilúvatar and his angels created everything; thus, most of the antagonists are Fallen Angels like Melkor and corrupted races like the Orcs. And yet one of The Silmarillion's antagonists is an Eldritch Abomination who appears out of nowhere, briefly teams up with Melkor, then wanders off as mysteriously as she arrives. She may be a Fallen Angel too, or she may have emerged from the Primordial Chaos; not even Tolkien himself could decide.
  • Second Apocalypse plays with this: In an otherwise High Fantasy setting, an alien invasion would be completely outside genre... but the Inchoroi crashed in the world since before history was recorded and most of the wars have been against them, so they essentially made themselves part of the setting. Then it turns out that Damnation is a physical and metaphysical reality and the gods are real eldritch abominations, pushing the High Fantasy setting straight into cosmic horror.
  • Worm has Scion, after he discovers he enjoys killing people as an unusual example; this enemy didn't appear suddenly, he'd been around for a while and everybody knew who he was, but the discovery of what he actually is serves as the Cosmic Horror Reveal in what was previously a superhero setting (albeit a very dark one). However, even though the set-up was unusual, once he starts attacking the trope then gets played straight, as the protagonists have no idea what the hell they're going to do, and all their previous experience and strategies only postpone the inevitable.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow:
    • Season 2 introduces Mirakuru, a Super Serum used by a cult to create insane and violent Super Soldiers. Up until now, the protagonists had only fought ordinary criminals and corrupt businessmen. This is their first encounter with genuine superhumans.
    • In season 4 Oliver has to fight against Damien Darhk whose powers are mystical/magical in nature. Darhk can siphon a person's life force with his touch and he can stop bullets (and arrows) in midair with a simple gesture.
  • Blake's 7 very nearly had this happen in Series 2, where at one point the intention was for the arriving alien force in that series' cliffhanger to be the Daleks.
  • In The Flash (2014), a young Barry Allen watches his mother being murdered by what appears to be a fast-moving man shrouded in lightning. Barry's unbelievable story results in his father being imprisoned for the murder. Fourteen years later, a particle accelerator explodes, creating other "metahumans" with similar powers. However, that doesn't explain how a metahuman could exist before the particle accelerator explosion. Fans of the comics know that the murderer's origin is even more out of context: He's a time-traveller. Later on, the show adds alternate dimensions and aliens into the mix. Season 4 adds an honest-to-God vampire to the show.
  • On Game of Thrones, the Night King and his army of the dead are this to any character that's not either a member of the Night's Watch or a wildling. The White Walkers are just considered children's stories, since they haven't been a threat for thousands of years. Much of the characters spend time fighting amongst each other over who will sit on the Iron Throne, unaware of anything supernatural. Much of season 7's plot deals with Jon Snow trying to convince others that the threat is very real.
  • In Lost Girl, the Garuda catches everybody by surprise because it predates the Fae. There was no myths or legends of it, so there is nothing to reference. However, a few people like Lachlan knew about it and had been preparing.
  • In the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events, in The Miserable Mill, Olaf's crumbling alliance with a local villain sees him openly dismissing Dr. Orwell's "high-concept science fiction gimmicks".
  • Crossovers in Super Sentai and Power Rangers can play out like this, as each series in these franchises has a particular theme they stick to, which can really conflict when crossing over with another series.. For example, in Mahou Sentai Magiranger Vs Dekaranger, the police themed Dekarangers, who normally only fight alien criminals, are suddenly confronted by a demon, which are normally faced by the Magirangers. The Magirangers, on the other hand, are introduced to the aforementioned alien criminals.
  • Azazel from the Direct-To-DVD Tokumei Sentai Gobusters Returns Vs Dobutsu Sentai Gobusters is this. He absolutely does not fit into the Go-Busters universe. The enemies of the original series are all made from data and therefore fit a robotic/technological theme, while Azazel is a supernatural demon, despite demons not being an established part of the Go-Busters universe.

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    Pro Wrestling 
  • The WWE has a history of vaguely demonic or otherwise magical characters (often Heels) with ill-defined supernatural powers, e.g. Kane, The Undertaker, Papa Shango and Bray Wyatt. The most famous of these, the Undertaker, was in turn based on a gimmick from AWA(a more original gimmick was planned but it was shot down by Vince McMahon, eventually salvaged with Kane, making him the trope twice over)
  • The Flood, really. A collection of Rudos from across time and space, including Kaiju Big Battel, is out there enough already but they were led by Jimmy Jacobs, who has never been of any real significance in Chikara and was seemingly tied down in a war against Ring of Honor at the time? As it turns out, he wasn't the leader, for those very reasons. The whole thing was orchestrated by the nebulous Titor Conglomerate.

    Tabletop Games 
  • All Flesh Must Be Eaten: One of the expansion books, A Fistful o' Zombies, features a mini-setting, Singing Cowboys, in which (in-setting but "off-screen"), the director of The Western B-Movie that the Player Characters are part of decided to cash in on both the sci-fi movie craze and the Roy Rogers-style "singing cowboy" craze of The '50s and added a Zombie Apocalypse sub-plot into the film with nobody the wiser. As such, the rules enforce Lighter and Softer play proper to the "film's" time period... except when the players encounter zombies.
  • The titular threat of the Pathfinder adventure path Iron Gods are artificial intelligences from a crashed alien spaceship attempting to attain mythic power and wipe out free will. In an otherwise renaissance-era fantasy setting.
    • Goes both ways in the Reign of Winter adventure path, with the players both encountering, and becoming, an Outside-Genre Foe. A portal transports the adventurers to a foreign, magic-dead world - Earth, circa 1918. Setting-appropriate foes such as ghouls and faeries are swapped out for tanks and Russian soldiers. It works both ways; gas masks and flak jackets do little to stop Cloudkill and stunning fists.

    Video Games 
  • The classic real-time strategy game Command & Conquer: Red Alert is about a war between the Allies and the Soviets in an alternate universe where Hitler was killed. It is a classic military game where you fight infantry, tanks, etc... but the Counterstrike expansion pack features some bonus missions where you fight giant ants. For no particular reason.
  • In the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, the Big Bad of any game belonging to it is either a human, a demon, or an angel. Devil Survivor 2 then introduces the Septentriones, a group of actual space aliens as the main antagonists. Really, the demons (and angels) of almost any game in the franchise also count. Except for a few games, their existence completely blindsides everyone. Aside from (most of) the Persona and Devil Summoner games, they also usually accomplish the near or complete extinction of humanity.
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has the Executioners, who roll into the galaxy and start destroying everything, apparently sent by masters from beyond our reality to destroy us all, and an order of magnitude more powerful than anything else faced up to that point in the game, with ordinary enemies rivaling bosses in difficulty—if they can be beaten at all. It is even more out of context than it appears at first glance. The characters go to a Cool Gate to travel between worlds, using the overpowered magical abilities that their parents gave them to break their way out of our world and into the world of the Executioners' masters...whereupon they end up dumped in what seems to be an amusement park and fight some guards who you handily beat, them being little better than mooks compared to the characters. They discover that the world that the game has been taking place in is a video game made by people in 4D space, and the Executioners are nothing more than NPCs sent to clean up the errors which have been accumulating in the game world by deleting everything.
  • Tatanga from Super Mario Land is a space alien that kidnaps Princess Daisy. Who's defeated by Mario's own Outside Context Fighter Airplane which hasn't been seen before or since. And then the sequel implies that Tatanga was working for Wario to distract Mario.
  • Super Mario RPG: Played for Laughs and for a company joke with Culex, who looks like he belongs in a Final Fantasy-style JRPG, complete with being 2D in a 3D game. He's even aware of it himself; he just came to your dimension as a scout and is about to return because he found it inhospitable to his kind, but is willing to stick around for a good fight before leaving.
  • Super Robot Wars Z has The Edel Bernal, who, unlike other SRW Original Generation Final Bosses, is a godlike being who is not seeking power or self-aggrandizement. He just started all the chaos in the game For the Evulz, and as the good guys chew him out during the final battle they actually freak out somewhat when they come to the realization that he just doesn't care, and it become dramatically clear that they are fighting a lunatic with no real goal except what entertains him.
  • Nobody in Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria expected that Lezard Valenth was actually a time-shifted version of himself from the future. By the time anyone figured it out, he had outwitted everybody, forcing the survivors into an Enemy Mine to beat him.
  • Halo:
    • The Covenant were this for the UNSC. The UNSC is busy dealing with preventing a devastating civil war with their outer colonies, when suddenly a collective of alien races shows up, burns one of their planets to glass, and declares their intent to do the same to the rest of humanity. Despite this, the UNSC (while far from being on the winning side) adapts pretty quickly and lasts far longer than expected.
    • The Flood are this as well. While fighting aliens had become regular business for the UNSC, nobody expected space-zombies with a Hive Mind to enter the fray.
    • Even more so in the Forerunners' case. Going about their regular business, fighting humanity, when suddenly an alien parasite that claims to be the defective remnant of the gods their religion states favored them above all others arrives and attempts to assimilate their entire empire as retribution for committing genocide on them millions of years before.
  • Saints Row IV: In a series about fighting enemy gangs, the cops and other realistic foes, who seriously expected alien invasion? Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell adds a new complication in the form of Satan being real and wanting the Boss for his daughter.
  • BlazBlue is a series rife with Shinto and Norse symbolism, but the big reveal of Chronophantasma is that Izanami herself is the Big Bad. Not a symbolically-named machine like the Susanooh unit, the actual Shinto goddess of the underworld is out to destroy everything. And then Central Fiction takes it up a notch by revealing that the Susanooh Unit isn't a symbolically-named machine, it's the actual body of the god Susanoo. The spirit of said body? That's Yuuki Terumi himself.
  • The Marathon mod "Devil in a Blue Dress" eventually reveals that the one behind the space pirates was none other than Morgaine Le Fey, straight out of Arthurian legend.
  • The Chimera of the Resistance series. Taking place in an Alternate History where Russia's government was not taken over by followers of Lenin, Russia becomes an isolationist nation that is hidden behind the "Red Curtain". Following The Tunguska Event of 1908, Russia does not communicate with the rest of the globe, leading the other world powers to treat them as potentially hostile. About 40 years later the real nature of The Tunguska Event is revealed: it was the arrival of an alien invasion squad that has devoured Russia's population and now is turning their attention to the rest of Europe and the world beyond.
  • In Bloodborne, The Great Ones, along with the Cosmic Horror Story, is completely unexpected for a Gothic Horror setting, their incomprehensible nature being the origin of the Beast Plague and how WRONG they look like makes them truly horrifying.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: While not part of the main plot, one side quests involves Link protecting a farm from aliens. Yes, aliens. They appear ghost-like, though their Flatwoods Monster inspired design and abduction of animals and a little girl emphasize them being aliens. While this is set in the world of Termina, this is still something that has never happened before or since in the The Legend of Zelda series.
  • Undertale: In the Neutral ending, Photoshop Flowey is like nothing you've seen before in the entire game. He's animated like something from another genre, he changes the entirety of the battle mechanics, and he abuses save states in order to hit you with attacks that you've already dodged. The best part? Before changing to his God Form, Flowey crashes the game because the original game's engine isn't designed to handle him. He literally does not belong in the game.
  • While the Wolfenstein series tends to deal with Those Wacky Nazis dabbling with the occult and advanced technology on a regular basis, a special mention has to go to the end of Wolfenstein 3D's prequel, Spear of Destiny. B.J. Blazkowicz has seized the titular artifact from a Nazi stronghold...only to get teleported to Hell, where he is forced to battle a demon known as the Angel of Death.
  • The Zetans from the Mothership Zeta expansion of Fallout 3, in spades.
  • The hero from Rent A Hero looks like a Super Sentai character but his enemies are strictly human criminals, the only nod to those shows are two people dressed in monster costumes (one in an actual show to entertain children)... Until, near the end of the game, he has to fight against the spirit of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh that possessed the archaeologist who unearthed his sarcophagus. He treats it like any other of his jobs and gets paid accordingly.
  • Fourth-wall observations aside, the setting of Kid Icarus: Uprising is very much a magical one with the main characters being various angels, gods, monsters, and nature spirits, with almost all technology capable of being explained away as Magitek...and then the Aurum show up in Chapters 15-17, and are basically a robotic Hive Mind Alien Invasion determined to devour all life on the planet.
  • Darkest Dungeon's villainous factions are, for the most part, the collection of cosmic horrors, pig demons, fish-men, fungal monstrosities, apocalypse cultists, and shambling undead that one expects from a game billing itself as a "Lovecraft in the middle ages." The exception to this is the Brigand faction, a heavily armed goon squad of outlaws, highwaymen, out-of-work mercenaries, and all-around thugs, who use gunpowder weapons and brutality to compensate for their lack of supernatural powers.
  • in Jagged Alliance 2, while clearing out an evil scientist's bunker, your team comes upon a huge area of even more huge mutant bugs to fight. This leads to some humorous comments from all your mercs who all have funny comments to say when confronted suddenly with a non-human enemy.

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius: Klaus Wulfenbach seemed to have inadvertently summoned one when he stops time in Mechanicsburg to contain the Heterodyne. Something with a different perception of time noticed that something is amiss... and it is coming to investigate. The Other does not quite qualify, because even though it did not play by the "rules" of the Long War between the Mad Scientist Sparks, it/she mostly just seems better at established practices. Extradimensional aliens have nothing to do with mad scientists.
  • Hooves Of Death gives an inverted example. Amidst a Zombie Apocalypse, humanity escapes complete annihilation thanks to unicorns emerging from The Masquerade to lend a hand (or hoof?). Their four-legged saviors make perfect shock troops against the undead hordes thanks to the natural immunity, magical powers, and razor sharp horn, and even a zombie's most powerful weapon, it's disease-spreading bite, only gives a unicorn a mild fever. Played straight later, as actual Hellhounds start to appear, and not even the unicorns were aware of gnomes existing at all, much less zombified versions of them.

    Web Video 
  • Hitler Rants: Both Der Disneygang and Battle For The Bunker deal with this trope, albeit in reverse. Der Disneygang features the animated Disney realm having to deal with a Nazi occupation. The sequel, Battle for the Bunker, has Nazi Germany being attacked by a horde of vengeful cartoon and anime characters, who are able to completely ignore the laws of physics like they do in their own medium. This takes the Nazis completely by surprise. Bunker then adds another Outside Genre Foe, in the form of an alien invasion, which both the Nazis and the Cartoons are unprepared for.

    Western Animation 
  • Mega Man has "Curse of the Lion Men", which has...Lion Men invading the world and turning other people into Lion Men with eye beams. Another episode also has a genie.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012):
    • The series has the turtles mostly fighting the Foot Clan and Kraang and the various humans, mutants, robots, and aliens that entails. When the ghost of the Chinese Evil Sorcerer Ho Chan shows up, they've never faced a supernatural foe before and therefore have difficult fighting him.
    • Supernatural phenomena are slowly being introduced into this iteration so this label probably becomes less applicable over time. The Turtles venture into a spirit world in the 3rd season as part their training and to overcome their mental weaknesses, while Splinter communicates with them as a vision. "The Deadly Venom" introduces Healing Hands from Splinter and we later see Leo show promise in it.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures
    • Most of the primary antagonists are of Chinese origin, and so can be reliably countered with Uncle's magic. So, come Season 4 when Tarakudo, lord of the Japanese Oni, is the main enemy to be faced, Uncle's magic is largely useless. Good thing that Tohru's mother had regaled him with bedtime stories of the Oni and their weaknesses in his childhood.
    • In-Universe, Bartholomew Chang could be considered an inversion, in that he's exactly the sort of mundane, non-magical international criminal that Section 13 is supposed to be dealing with, even though by the time he shows up they've already been pitted against demon sorcerers and other magical villains.
  • The Simpsons: Homer Vs. The Eighteenth Amendment has Rex Banner, who is sent to Springfield to enforce the dry law. Played for Laughs as he's an animated copycat of Elliot Ness as interpreted by Robert Stack in The Untouchables and someone who definitely would have done a better job at keeping law and order during the time of the Hays Code (where he would have been handed victory just because he's a lawman) than on the modern (and incompetent) Wretched Hive that is Springfield.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: The show is a comedy/action western series, with season 4 focusing on a Big Bad that is a deranged, PTSD and racism driven former knight of the kingdom, while the main character deals with questioning what to do after her main goals have been more or less solved. The episode of that season "Gone Baby Gone" has the villain Wyscan the Granter, an elf-like Bishōnen Sissy Villain that was clearly inspired in both design, battle style and mannerism by the villains of early Sailor Moon

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