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Random Events Plot

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Lisa: Perhaps there is no moral to this story.
Homer: Exactly! It's just a bunch of stuff that happened.
Marge: But it certainly was a memorable few days.
Homer: Amen to that!

In some stories, you have no way of knowing what's going to happen, largely because it comes out of nowhere. And the next plot event also comes out of nowhere. And so on - without being set up or having any sort of logical lead-up from previous events. The characters primarily exist to react to whatever the writer throws their way. When this happens, it's a Random Events Plot.

Randomness is something that happens every day in Real Life. Many things happen for a reason, but a lot of them don't. Well, fine, every event has a cause, but often those reasons will be so small or irrelevant that they appear random. Despite the occurrence of random things in real life, their portrayal is not always appreciated in fictional works. Audiences automatically search for reasons for someone's behaviour. If things just happen without any logical explanation or build up, events can come across as a product of bad writing or being absurd for the sake of being absurd.

Comedies do this all the time, as the Rule of Funny means that they don't have to make sense. Video games often do it as well, thanks to the Rule of Fun. When non-comedic works of fiction do this, however, it can be quite jarring. How well they pull it off and how enjoyable they manage to be often has to do with the execution of the story. If it's good, then the story may be random, but at least it's the fun kind of random, rather than the confusing, annoying kind of random. Artsy works can showcase random scenes to show we live in a World of Symbolism. It's up to the audience to find the hidden meanings. This can also often occur in adaptation - for instance, if the original work was a bunch of small episodic stories, and the adaptation decides to simply string a bunch of them together (occasionally with a loose theme or framing device) rather than write a new plot or beef up one of the small stories.

Exploitation works or low level art (pulp novels, Exploitation Film,...) just randomly add cheap thrills like violence, shock, sex, action, gags, Product Placement,... because the creators want to make a quick buck without bothering too much about the story. Most of the time the audience will notice and refuse to suspend their disbelief. But when in the right mood or with the right audience they will enjoy these random scenes because they provide them with the cheap thrills they would like to encounter in the story. Or they enjoy the "Anything goes" atmosphere.

Sometimes a Random Events Plot is constructed around a primary quest, to give it a bit more structure. In these examples, the main character is consistently trying to achieve a certain goal, but they encounter a succession of unpredictable detours and obstacles along the way. In other examples there is no primary quest, and everything feels random.

In Poetics, Aristotle denounced the "episodic" as the worst of all plots, where there is neither probability nor necessity in the sequence of events, so bungling it has been around a while.

Super-trope of Apophenia Plot, where the characters think the events are connected, but they aren't. Also closely related to Wacky Wayside Tribe and Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, where there’s one random sequence or event that adds nothing to the plot.

See Also: Chandler's Law, Halfway Plot Switch, Narrative Filigree, "Shaggy Dog" Story. Might occur when the story has a Pinball Protagonist.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Baccano! stars a colorful cast of characters with varying degrees of sanity as they ride a train for some purpose or another. We have one set of characters trying to rob people as hilariously as possible, another set of characters out to kill everyone, a third set orchestrating grandiose schemes, a fourth set trying to figure out just what is going on, and that's probably not even half the characters featured. When all of them come together on a curiously-named train the sheer mayhem that erupts can be described as any number of things, but predictable is definitely not one of them. In this case the author of the original book pursued this trope deliberately, citing the title as Italian for "stupid commotion," or "ruckus." This could qualify as either a comedic or non-comedic example.
    • The anime incorporates two other plotlines (one where a bunch of gangsters struggle over the Elixir of Eternal Life, the other where the younger sister of one of the gangsters in the previous story tries to track down her brother) randomly intercut with the plot mentioned above, plus a one episode flashback to 200 years in the past to explain the backstory of some of the characters. There were 3 additional episodes released with the DVD which introduced yet another storyline, where some of the characters from the Flying Pussyfoot storyline try to track down another character who's been kidnapped by a fan boy of the leader of the guys who wanted to kill everyone
  • Durarara!!, based on a series of light novels by the author who wrote the Baccano! books, and set in the same universe. It revolves around the weird inhabitants of the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo, including a seemingly normal high school kid who is the creator of an internet-based gang made up of random city dwellers including members of the cast, a guy who's an internet troll brought to real life who spends a significant chunk of the show playing a complicated combination of chess, shogi, and poker with himself, his arch-nemesis who's a bartender with super-strength and a ridiculously short fuse, a headless horsewoman riding a motorcycle around the district, a scientist in love with her, a crazy high school kid in love with her head, a stalker in love with him, his older sister who's also in love with him, a Russian of African descent who stands outside of a sushi restaurant trying to get people to buy his sushi which he insists is not made of people, a random foreigner who asks people to write questions and messages onto her pad, a sad teenage girl who's secretly the wielder of an evil sword that causes its wielder to control whoever is cut by it, a quartet of eccentric Otaku who drive around in a van and occasionally torture people for hire, and a happy-go-lucky Casanova Wannabe kid who's secretly the head of one of the biggest gangs in the city
  • FLCL: The main character is a elementary school kid who gets run over by a Vespa and then hit on the head with an electric guitar by a weird girl who claims to be a space policewoman trying to track down a giant space pirate, who starts working undercover as a maid at the main character's house, where she alternates between flirting with the main character and his Cloud Cuckoolander father. Random giant robots emerge from the bruise on the main character's head, the first of which eats him in order to defeat the others. There's a government agent with ridiculously fake giant eyebrows (they're heavily implied to be nori—seaweed—he's stuck on his face) who's trying to catch the alien girl, and occasionally gives the main character unsolicited advice about growing up.
  • Cromartie High School:
    • The Baseball Episode ends with the lines "It's a different gorilla!" ", what happened to ours?", and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
    • Even the Rule of Drama episode gets this. It's the first episode to center on (who else?) Gorilla, and has a coherent plot. However, it has absolutely nothing to do with the show. Throughout the episode, reminders are issued that the viewer is watching Cromartie High School, and at the end, there's a quiz for how many actual students were seen in the episode.
  • Lucky Star has no ongoing plot in the manga or the anime adaptation; the only episode of the anime with any real plot is the last episode, where most of the characters are preparing for the School Festival. Otherwise, most of the episodes before that have no particular focus and will often abruptly shift to subjects or situations that are completely different from the ones that preceded it. In just the first episode of this show, we start with Konata running one lap around the track, and then a scene with Konata, Tsukasa, and Miyuki talking about food, a scene where Kagami has the flu, and ending with Konata talking to Tsukasa and Kagami about her online gaming experiences while Kagami suggests that she get a real life, among other stuff. Even in episodes that spend the lion's share of their time focusing on one thing, such as the sports festival or Comiket, eventually shift to stuff completely unrelated.
  • Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo: After all of the establishing shots and exposition are finished, even each panel depicts something different from the previous one.
  • Excalibur in Soul Eater's anime spends an episode telling tales about himself to a bewildered student who has hunted him down. Several of the stories are contradictory and make absolutely no sense.
  • Heybot! manages to be even more random than Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo. As an anime about joke-telling contests, it has absurd episode plots that don't have much relation (ex: one episode somehow ends up with the heroes fighting space alien grannies from Saturn).
  • The aptly titled Random Walk is a romantic Slice of Life that chronicles Yuka's high school love life, but doesn't follow the story typical pattern of the genre, and the series comes off as a loosely connected vignettes about Yuka getting together with different guys and eventually breaking up with them for various reasons. The manga ends with her dating her former step-brother, Towa—which almost comes across as a Last-Minute Hookup, since Yuka doesn't even see him as a potential love interest until the second-to-last chapter, and only agrees to consider him as one in the last. She finally reciprocates his feelings in the epilogue after a one-year Time Skip, so their romance, despite being treated as the end-game, is far less developed than Yuka's previous flings.
  • The TV airing of Gundam: Reconguista in G suffered a great deal from trying to fit too much into a limited runtime leading to a plot with a bunch of random things and events just happening with little explanation or follow-up, characters switching sides like one would underwear and fights just starting and ending for seemingly no reason. The compilation movies tries to fix this by changing some parts to make things connect better as well as trying to explain some events but still suffers from a lack of cohesion though to a lesser extent than the TV series.

    Asian Animation 
  • Simple Samosa: The story that everyone writes in "Comic Book" goes all over the place in regards to its plot. When Jalebi is initially working on it, it starts with Samosa walking through town to find some strange happenings on the street (multiple cars quickly driving in the same direction at once, a tank driving on the street, water flooding the street, etc.) When Vada appears and adds to the story, he writes in Samosa being named the mayor's successor and becoming a superhero. Then Dhokla comes in and keeps the story going; his "contributions" are nothing but him repeatedly bouncing Super Samosa into the air after removing his cape.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman: At Earth's End. Go on, try to explain where any of this came from. What was the first apocalypse, who designed the biomechs, what's with the children, the twin clones of Hitler, and the Broken Aesop (Guns are bad, after Superman clearly used guns to solve his problem.) was horrible. And it's part of The Dark Age of Comic Books. The last one should be a turnoff for most people...
    • The story is actually a sequel to Kamandi at Earth's End, a similarly terrible re-imagining of Kamandi the Last Boy On Earth. And while the biomechs and the cause of the apocalypse were explained, there's still plenty of stuff (including the twin clones of Hitler) that wasn't.
  • Early Tintin books are this. Hergé tossed his protagonist from one solved situation into the next unsolved one or rather tossed situations at him. Only the location remained constant. It goes to show that Hergé had no experience in writing comics at all when he started at the age of 19. This wasn't received poorly, though; Tintin was originally released in a weekly kids' magazine page by page instead of in books all at once, and the Belgians in the late 1920s didn't have that many comics to compare Tintin with anyway. The third story in the series, Tintin in America started moving away from this formula, adopting a more focused theme of Tintin taking on gangsters, and then the fourth story, Cigars of the Pharaoh moved to having a fully coherent storyline.
  • Some of the Asterix storylines basically come to this; for example, Asterix and the Cauldron could go straight from the theft of the money to Asterix robbing the tax collector to get it back without any of their intervening efforts to find or earn more money to replace it.
  • A few action-packed stories of the Disney Ducks Comic Universe can feel like the writers just tried to connect as many setpieces possible. An example is the DuckTales seven-part comic "The Gold Odyssey".
  • Some Archie Comics stories can come off as this, where the ending/punchline seem to have nothing to do with the start of the segment, nor is actually built up by the previous panels. For example, one little Archie story begins with Archie being ecstatic about the prospect of spending the day with Veronica alone after being invited to her yacht trip, which Reggie overhears and manages to weasel himself into. Before the two of them can fight over Ronnie, however, Mr. Lodge takes the kids to a smaller boat for tuna fishing, and the story ends with the line getting caught in a submarine, which Mr. Lodge mistook as a big fish.
  • Most of the late stories from Alan Ford tend to rely on stories featuring random events and characters usually unrelated between them, often alongside dream-like scenarios, unexplained resolutions and other stuff which, compared to the more coherent stories from the first half of the series, comes off as outlandish.
  • Marville: An infamous example. The parody comic has a random events plot in that it could be said to have any sort of plot at all. It's trying to be satire, but has no real understanding of what it's satirizing and just has scene after scene that are bad jokes that weren't funny the first time and certainly weren't by the third. And then it switches over some sort of psuedo-philisophical discussion about science, religion, and life that manages to make even less sense.
  • Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.: Four old C-list Marvel superheroes (and The Captain) beat up random supervillains in Flyover Country for FREEDOM while chased by a madman in a flying submarine.
  • Each issue of Sam & Max: Freelance Police does technically have a narrative through line, as the always-unseen "The Commissioner" gives the duo a job, crime, or mystery to deal with in their own special way. However, said tasks tend to be vague, arbitrary, or outright nonsensical and appear in a pretty arbitrary point of the comic, Sam & Max often get sidetracked into bizarre, random asides that have no relevance to what they're actually meant to be doing, and they often get out of perilous situations with a hilariously blatant Deus ex Machina. The end result tends to feel less like an actual story and more like one long stream of consciousness.

    Comic Strips 
  • Little Nemo, like Alice in Wonderland, moves from one bizarre place in Dream Land to another, never with too much continuity.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: One story arc had Calvin inexplicably have his gravity reverse, then turn back to normal, then he started growing until he was the size of a galaxy, where he found a door floating in a white void that led back into his bedroom. It was random even for Calvin, and in commentary Bill Watterson has expressed regret for the storyline because it was just "weird for weirdness' sake".

    Fan Works 
  • Family Guy Fanon adverts this more often in their episodes compared to the original, though there are some examples. An example of this is Season 6's "Breadlosers" runs on this. It begins with Peter getting fired from the Brewery due to him goofing off at McBurgertown all the time, and leads to Chris being the main breadwinner and take the shots. So you'd expect a usual Chris being a dick and Peter trying to find a new job. Which does happen in the first act alone, but then segways into Peter going to his National Association of American Fat People group meeting and decides to make it his new job when he finds out he can use it to get money. And after giving a speech reedited by Brian, Quahog citizens undergoes a surge in obesity and new members, until an overweight Mayor Adam West questions if the biggest person should be the leader of the group, considering Peter's nowhere near as fat as the other members. Which leads to them turning on Peter when he innocently makes a comment about how the thinnest member can be looked at better by comparison, making it seem like he made the group to make himself feel better and gets chased out by his group. Leaving Peter as a pariah and still needing money. So, he goes to Angela and begs for his job back, to which Angela gives it back to him, but only because his replacements weren't doing a better job than him.
  • After the Love Confession, Kirby: Welcome to Smash Bros (by the same author of Super Smash Bros: The Animated Series) quickly runs out of steam and starts throwing in one Non Sequitur after another to fill the gap.
  • My Immortal. Ebony bounces between classes, concerts, and sex with just about everyone without rhyme or reason, then a time travel plot is thrown into the later chapters, only for the fic to have No Ending.
  • Garfield in: "Along Came a Splut" runs on this. It starts with Garfield enjoying a normal day by casually destroying objects and throwing Odie to the moon for being in his way, and then he gets chased by the recurring Splut pie, which then leads to a chase involving the car from Back to the Future, Terminator and Blade Runner, which then leads to a space chase involving the Death Star, and then a chase well beyond light speed, which then climaxes with a direct homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, where Garfield becomes a star child, and then it ends with him looking into the camera, giving a Dreamworks Face and saying "Drink More Ovaltine".
  • An in-universe example in The Vinyl Scratch Tapes, when Vinyl writes a Rock Opera. Celestia starts a nuclear war and builds a dystopia inhabited by robots. Then Luna returns from space on a chariot made of lasers and "fire, vengeance and more fire" and throws the mysteriously explosive moon at Celestia. And then Celestia turns into a serpent.
    Octavia: Look, I will admit this is ... creative ... but you just can’t have an opera where nonsensical things happen for no reason!
    Vinyl: Clearly you’ve never heard a rock opera before.
  • Robo Bando, There is no plot. Just people being mocked and blown up by Bando.
  • Ultra Fast Pony's episode "Makin' Babies". Sweetie Belle casts a spell that de-ages most of the main cast. These kids then scatter and get up to completely unrelated shenanigans, and none of those individual stories have any dramatic payoff, either. The episode ends with the characters still de-aged, yet they're back to normal in the next episode, with no explanation.
  • Madoka Crisis Magica is the cast of Puella Magi Madoka Magica being forced to suffer this. It starts with Homura getting hit with a Bolt of Divine Retribution by the Fan Fiction God for trying to reset the time loop after Madoka makes a contract, and only gets more chaotic from there. Every chapter involves a new, random Witch appearing with no rhyme nor reason, along with a bunch of random characters from another show. Sometimes they're helpful, sometimes they get Worfed.
  • Homestuck high starts off as a mediocre High School AU. At the end of the first chapter, Gamzee announces that Karkat killed himself, and from then on it turns into a horrifying mishmash of identity-swapping and demon battling.
  • One of the complaints of Nobody Dies was that it became this later on when before, it was significantly more serious and knew when to dish out its comedy for maximum impact. Season 3 may have been the turning point, with crossing over with several other Eva fics, Eva canon and a few other series, leading to Season 4 which had a less focused plot and involved far more fantastical events than before.

    Films — Animated 
  • Bambi deliberately eschews traditional narrative in favor of episodic mood pieces with an overarching theme of friendship, love and growing up tying it all together. Considering the film is meant to be a naturalistic portrayal of nature, this works perfectly in the film's favor.note 
  • Don Bluth intentionally structured and paced The Secret of NIMH like a novel more than a standard animated movie, believing it allowed more subtext to be incorporated into the film. The plot starts off fairly straightforward (Mrs. Brisby is coping with the loss of her husband and has to save her sick kid from harm) with some backstory foreshadowed a couple times and having a very minor subplot of Jeremy the Crow trying to find a love interest. Half an hour into the film, when Mrs. Brisby enters the rose bush and finds the Rats of NIMH, the film veers way off the main plot and into a grand total of four other plots, largely consisting of subplots and backstory; the Rats coming to terms with their newfound intelligence and responsibilities, Nicodemus helping Mrs. Brisby out of obligation and coping with the rats situation, Jenner trying to stage a coup to usurp power, and NIMH trying to seek out and destroy the rats. This half is practically its own self contained story, and has little relevance to the main conflict other than the additional problems they unwittingly bring in—the only thing that directly ties them into it is that Mrs. Brisby was related to one of their own kind, Jonathan, and gets their help solely because of that). Throw in some unexplained loose ends (just where did Nicodemus get that amulet or those magic powers?) and the plot can ultimately feel rather disjointed. Much of this was a result of changes from the book, namely playing up Mrs. Brisby's role in the story (the Rats were the central characters of the novel, with Mrs. Brisby being a vehicle for the audience), adding magical fantasy elements (Nicodemus had none of his supernatural powers in the book), and upgrading a minor character (Jenner) into the villain (the book had no real antagonist).
    • Another Bluth film, Rock-A-Doodle, seems to be a series of random events slapped together to sort of create a story based on The Canterbury Tales.
    • Yet another Bluth film, Thumbelina (1994), also has all sorts of strange things happening, though admittedly in this case it was due to the source material being like this.
  • Titanic: The Legend Goes On strongly suggests the guy who pitched it wasn't even aware that the Titanic disaster was an actual thing that happened. Plot elements and random elements come out of nowhere, including an occasion where a character responds to an expression of gratitude by breaking out into a completely irrelevant rap song.
  • All four films in The Mind's Eye series have these. Any narrative that stretches throughout any of these films is vague at best. Some individual segments, such as The Mind's Eye's "Love Found" and Beyond's "Nothing But Love" have cohesive self-contained plots.
  • Once The Pagemaster becomes animated, it's a bunch of encounters between the protagonist, his book companions, and various literary characters.
  • Adam Elliot's films trilogy of short films (Uncle, Cousin, and Brother) that he made before Harvie Krumpet and Mary and Max were this, although for a good reason — they're supposed to emulate the feeling you're looking through a photo album.
  • My Neighbor Totoro: Hayao Miyazaki intentionally designed the film to have no conflict. As a result, while there are a number of potential story threads introduced, none of them get more than a few minutes of focus and the movie is mostly a series of things that happen to the central characters. The closest thing to a major conflict makes up what would otherwise be called the third act.
  • The film adaptation of Children of the Sea is such a Compressed Adaptation that it becomes this. Characters show up, interact with the main characters, and disappear with no real explanation and scenes just bounce around with no real rhymn or reason besides chronological order.
  • To say that Spider's Web: A Pig's Tale is one of these would the Understatement of the millennium. It starts with some talking farm animals, but they get invaded by ghosts, aliens, demonic books, etc. Then a snake takes the main character to Hollywood. They stop at a motel, where they watch a game show starring living tennis rackets with wings. They then get chased by isopods riding motorcycles with missiles, and it just keeps going on like this. And no, we’re not making any of this up.
  • Invoked in Ralph Bakshi's first films (Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, Coonskin and Hey Good Lookin'); they deliberately eschewed traditional story structure and narrative in favor of a collage-like, improvisational approach, juggling together seemingly unrelated character vignettes or seemingly non-sequitur scenes with an overarching theme or subtext tying them all together, allowing the films to juggle multiple point of views on a subject, as well as aiding his films' biographical and satirical undertones.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Daredreamer has one constant of Winston's daydreams of being a famous rock star, but everything else he dreams up tends to be completely random and only tangentially related to whatever's going on around him.
  • Lady Bird is composed of vignettes from the titular character's senior year in high school and acceptance into college.
  • Miami Connection does not so much have a plot as a sequence of various unrelated events intersecting. Our heroes are a music band, Dragon Sound, composed of college students who study tae kwon do and are all from the same orphanage. They get into various altercations with a gang led by the brother of the main character's girlfriend, another gang composed of drug dealing ninjas led by a friend of the first gang, and a rival band who want to steal Dragon Sound's regular club gig. We also witness the ninjas go on various criminal endeavors, watch the band leaders plan a world tour, and follow one band member's attempt to connect with his estranged father. And then there are other scenes, such as Dragon Sound going to an Asian restaurant and hanging out at the beach, that seem to go nowhere.
  • Red Zone Cuba. It sort of makes sense as the three protagonists join the army, invade Cuba, get captured, and escape from Cuba. Then the story completely falls apart as they decided to find the wife of a guy they left behind in the Cuban POW camp, committing a series of petty and not-so-petty crimes along the way
  • Spice World is just a sequence of random things happening that involve the Spice Girls.
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the 1980s Shaw Brothers parody of Star Wars, which begins with a pair of bumbling detectives investigating alleged UFO sightings, Cherie Chung's character being hit on by her flirting boss, a bunch of nonsensical musical numbers, the male leads Disguised in Drag, Cherie's character suddenly Chained to a Railway, and the sudden, unexpected appearance of a Darth Vader expy assaulting the cast with a Laser Sword. It... needs to be seen to be believed.
    "It took six writers to come up with this innane sci-fi comedy which is one part sci-fi and nine parts mystifyingly screwy. Some terrific stuff must have been smoked at the writer's meetings." — LoveHKFilm
  • Monster a-Go Go is an accidental example of this that became MST3K fodder due to being patched together from multiple unfinished movies and clumsy narration.
  • Cry Wilderness has many plot points that are poorly connected and are often unceremoniously dropped into the viewers' laps with no foreshadowing. We don't even find out that the animal Paul's dad and the others are looking for is a tiger escaped from the circus until the tiger actually shows up. And Red Hawk? Comes right the flip outta nowhere.
  • The Last Exorcism Part II has no discernable plot, and barely connects to the original. It's just the main character acting weird as weird things happen (or do they?)
  • Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks has Dave put the Chipmunks and the Chipettes under the care of a woman named Lalu for a few days, and the screentime is filled out with things varying from Theodore overflowing the toilet with toys, to Alvin and Simon fighting over a cape, to Jeanette eating Brittany's lipstick and having to make money to buy a new one for her while wearing a ridiculous costume to help Lalu clean up.
  • Mortal Kombat: Annihilation tries to cram in as much of the enormous roster of Mortal Kombat 3 as possible, and thus it's the protagonists finding and fighting some people while the story supposedly moves forward.
  • Pulp Fiction, given it's kind of an anthology of connected stories.
  • The Holy Mountain is made of this. The first scene is about some guy in black with a giant hat cutting some twins' hair, the next thing you know there's a guy covered in bees laying over a pool of his own piss and some naked kids throwing rocks at him. To be fair, the director/writer, cast, and filming team were on LSD or psychedelic mushrooms.
  • Richard Linklater is fond of this trope. Dazed and Confused, Waking Life, Boyhood, and especially Slacker are films of Ensemble Casts, or sometimes random unrelated people, going through a plotless series of events.
  • Jean-Luc Godard loves these.
  • The Room (2003) has maybe half an hour of actual plot. The rest of it is completely meaningless events and unresolved B-plots that add nothing to the story.
  • Deeply weird experimental short film Un Chien Andalou (1928) is probably the Trope Maker. There's a scene where a man slices a woman's eyeball open. A man in a nun's habit is run down in the street by a truck, after finding a severed hand on a sidewalk. A man has a huge hole in his palm that ants are crawling out of. A man gives a second man two books, which turn into two guns, which he uses to shoot the first man. And some other stuff happens, too.
  • Moonwalker. The film is mostly a string of unconnected vignettes. The "Smooth Criminal" section, which attempts a longer-form plot, is itself an example. It starts with Michael and his kid friends playing soccer in a verdant meadow. It ends with him performing a concert at a club. In between, we have a dance number in a 1930s club that's deserted one moment and inhabited the next, Michael transforming into a spaceship to defeat an evil drug lord wielding a giant laser, and other stuff. Why? As with much of the film, Jackson wills it.
  • Marketa Lazarová seems to have a plot, but it embraces Anachronic Order to the extreme and adds a liberal amount of Mind Screw to obscure it.
  • Both Birdemic and Birdemic 2: The Resurrection have two halves of this. The first half of both films consists of the characters being overly successful in their careers and romances; the second half of both films is a series of adventures throughout the birdpocalypse. The latter is emphasized by the fact that literally every scene in the second half of both films begins with the characters driving along and saying something to the effect of, "Hey, look, there's [something happening]. Let's pull over and [investigate/rescue/etc.]."
  • The Day Time Ended is a mess of events involving aliens and time travel, none of which make a great deal of sense, either individually or collectively. After a triple supernova, a small child finds an alien pyramid behind her house, which then shrinks to the size of a Lego figure and she carries it around for most of the movie. Then she's visited by a scary mini-spaceship thing and a tiny elf alien that dances. Then the family are besieged by glowing lights, which drop a couple of strange, badly designed, poorly lit claymation aliens into their backyard, and then there are some time jaunts, and they all end up walking to a domed city under two moons. Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a field day singling out all the disparate concepts that are never explained and contribute next to nothing to any overarching theme or whatever the hell the plot was supposed to be.
  • The films of Neil Breen. None of them seem to have any narrative throughline aside from featuring Neil as the central character (calling him a protagonist would be a stretch).
  • Heaven Knows What: Being based on the lead actress's actual memoirs as a teenage junkie, the film mostly just follows Harley as she connects with and breaks off from various groups of people living on the streets of New York City.
  • The Assistant: This minimalist drama follows a Day in the Life of an office assistant to a Bad Boss in the entertainment industry. Much of the run time just tracks her daily clerical duties, and the plot follows no conventional structure. The meat of the story is conveyed through subtle cues and innuendos delivered during her banal activities, with no exposition to call attention to them.
  • Curse Of Halloween: We start with some guy who's about to shoot himself talking about some bad experience he had last Halloween. The film proper starts with a different guy driving at night and accidentally crashing into some girl in the road. He then takes said girl to a conveniently abandoned and unlocked mansion, and then some passerbys come and get out to help him, only to find she is suddenly gone. What follows is about 30 minutes of completely confusing stuff, involving some villain wearing black robes who seemingly kills people with some kind of electric touch, only for several of said people to come back to life a few minutes later for no reason. Eventually they somehow all die except for the guy at the beginning, who then goes on a completely different story about how last Halloween the group went to some supposedly cursed island. We then get the Padding to end all padding as there is a 10 minute sequence of them going on a boat trip with no dialog and a song that sounds almost exactly like "Spybreak" by Propellerheads playing the whole time. Finally, the group gets to the island and they all get killed by... someone whose face we never see and who is never identified. We then cut back to the narrator guy who says he can't take it anymore and shoots himself, and the movie just ends with no credits whatsoever. Considering how low budget the movie is, it seems likely they ran out of money and just had to edit together whatever scenes they had filmed. In particular, both the box and the suicidal guy at the beginning talk about some Great Pumpkin Queen killing them all. Assuming this is meant to be the girl at the beginning, she only appears in the first 5 minutes and never kills anyone, suggesting that whole bit was just never filmed.
  • La Haine is about a group of friends from the banlieues hanging out and wandering around over the course of a day, while unrelated incidents (such as running from the cops, encountering a weird Russian guy in a bathroom, and getting kicked out of an art gallery) keep happening to them and only come together at the very end. Very much Played for Drama, as the film is full of political subtext and ends rather darkly.
  • Freddy Got Fingered is about a (very stupid) man attempting to get a cartoon series off the ground (at least, that's what we think), but that plotline is only showcased for like 10 minutes of the film at best. The rest is nothing more than just pure, subversive madness. By the way, the titular Freddy never got fingered in the first place, meaning even the title is as pointless and nonsensical as any other part of the movie.
  • Licorice Pizza is a coming-of-age story presented as a series of random, loosely-connected vignettes about a teenage boy's friendship with a woman in her twenties and the misadventures they get into in the San Fernando Valley in 1973.
  • Aftersun is a heavily character-driven Slice of Life film about a woman's recollections of a vacation she took twenty years ago with her now-absent father as she tries to understand who he truly was, occasionally interspersed with Imagine Spots of her adult self and her father at a rave, and therefore doesn't have much of a plot to begin with.
  • Many Abbott and Costello films could qualify. If you were to tear out every scene that has little or nothing to do with the plot, you'd wind up with about twenty minutes of film per movie. Note that, of course, Tropes Are Not Bad; many of these gratuitous scenes, while not being plot-relevant, are still funny.
    • Almost anything with The Three Stooges also qualifies. The plots are typically excuses to get the Stooges somewhere they can cause a lot of slapstick chaos, and often times the plot or plots don't get resolved at all by the time the short ends. Again, comedy takes precedence.
  • American Graffiti is one of the sterling examples. It works, for the most part, because it shows how a large and diverse group of people handle a normal rite of passage, rather than focusing on a few characters or a single, famous event. Tying a series of random events to a leitmotif is also handled fairly well in the movies Dazed and Confused and Go.
  • Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! really doesn't have a lot of scenes actually featuring said tomatoes, and many of the events seem to be random, like the assassination plot until The Reveal of the villain's plots at the end.
  • The Big Lebowski. Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski is likened through song to a "tumbling tumbleweed" who randomly blows through a variety of plots and situations while trying to get his spoiled rug replaced. In the end, a lot has happened but the Dude has not accomplished much.
  • Blonde in Black Leather, to fill its screentime beyond "get from point A to point B", places its main characters in incredibly bizarre situations that serve little purpose beyond slowing them down.
  • Borat: While there is a vague semblance of a plot involving Borat trying to track down Pamela Anderson, most scenes just consist of Borat travelling America and making strange bigoted remarks.
  • The Cannonball Run and other movies about an illegal, cross-country road race. Next time you watch one, compare how many scenes are about the race and how many happen to take place during it. Cannonball Run II is particularly notable for this, to the extent that the filmmakers didn't even pretend that the race mattered to the structure of the film. Once all the amusing business is settled, the last 80% or so of the race is shown as animated cartoon depicting where the racers are relative to each other and takes maybe two minutes.
  • Clerks. There is one "normal" plotline (Dante's relationship) and a few callbacks to earlier gags, but for the most part someone watching different scenes in random order would be seeing almost the same movie.
  • Any of the films of Jacques Tati, particularly the Monsieur Hulot films, which were so character-driven that a coherent plot would have detracted from the experience. Jour de fête sort of had a plot.
  • Magical Mystery Tour. Whether the comedy actually works in this movie is debatable, although it did inspire the fantasy sequences in Marc Bolan's Born to Booglie.
    • Even if it wasn't intentionally comedic, quite a few fans watch it simply for the So Bad, It's Good value of its bizarre "plot"
  • Napoleon Dynamite. Even the supposedly main story about Pedro running for Class President is shuffled all over the place. Practically lampshaded in the first two lines:
    Kid on bus: What are you going to do today, Napoleon?
    Napoleon: Whatever I feel like I'm gonna do. Gosh!
  • M*A*S*H, the 1970 feature film, is a series of random happenings at the 4077th, culminating in a football game. No wonder it was considered a good candidate to adapt into a TV series. In fact, the majority of Robert Altman's films (comedic and non-comedic) are examples of this trope, by their very nature.
  • Monty Python movies are built on this trope, at least whenever they even bother to have an over-arcing plot in the first place. And Now For Something Completely Different is really just doing you a favor with that title. Monty Python's Life of Brian is probably the closest to averting this, as it does have a cohesive plot and follows a traditional structure, with most of the comedic scenes serving the narrative in some fashion.
  • In Fred The Movie, the first half of the movie is this. Although Fred does have a goal (to find and sing with his crush Judy), the events that happen when he's trying to accomplish that goal seem random.
  • Tommy Boy was described as this by Roger Ebert:
    "Tommy Boy" is one of those movies that plays like an explosion down at the screenplay factory. You can almost picture a bewildered office boy, his face smudged with soot, wandering through the ruins and rescuing pages at random. Too bad they didn't mail them to the insurance company instead of filming them.
  • The first half of Cheech and Chong's Next Movie is this. The second half has Chong hanging out with Cheech's identical cousin while Cheech prepares for a woman to come over, and yet it's still random.
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, as opposed to the other Vacation movies which have a definite goal, is about Clark Griswold wanting a nice family get together with no real goal in mind, and the movie just goes from Christmas activity to Christmas activity with a subplot about Clark worrying about his Christmas bonus.
  • Caddyshack was originally written to focus on working-class kid Danny Noonan and his adventures working at a swanky country club. This quickly took a backseat when the filmmakers decided to give the A-list comedian costars free reign to do what they did best, and the finished film is a large collection of hilarious and largely self-contained vignettes, with Danny only being treated as the protagonist at the beginning and end of the story. Tropes Are Not Bad, since the movie probably wouldn't have become the beloved classic it is today had they stuck to the original plan.
  • Animal House operates similarly, with the only overarching goals for Delta House being to have fun and cause trouble, with most of the movie consisting of a bunch of humorous subplots that rarely intertwine with each other. Writer Doug Kenney worked on both this and Caddyshack, which might explain some of the spontaneity, but often it seems to be a case of the writers and director simply stepping aside and letting the experts do their thing.
  • Help!: The Beatles just run from one country to another and encounter surreal events.
  • The plot to O Brother, Where Art Thou? consists of Everett, Pete, and Delmar running into humorous situations and several Historical-Domain Characters while on the run from the law.
  • Adventures in Babysitting is mostly this, although Chris does set out with a mission to retrieve her friend and get everyone home alive. It's just that every humorous mishap that could plausibly befall three suburban kids in late-night Chicago seems dead-set on delaying this...
  • A Christmas Story, pretty much just chronicles the events of a young boy named Ralphie in the days leading up to Christmas, and the only thing really tying everything together is his quest to get an air rifle for a present.
  • The 1981 Canadian comedy Gas starts with an oil tycoon orchestrating a phony oil shortage, and then random stuff regarding this fuel crisis ensues, such as a man dressed as the Lone Ranger filling up his tank at gunpoint and a funeral for a snake.
  • 1941 (1979), while being a comedic take on the Epic Movie, has this given the sheer scope of the film, verging on Four Lines, All Waiting — there's quite a few different plotlines that are barely related, and don't merge until well into the movie, with a riot and subsequent aerial battle in downtown Los Angeles.
  • Stop! Look! And Laugh!: All that happens in the film is Paul Winchell, with his dummies Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff, going through their day with footage of The Three Stooges interspersed throughout the movie.
  • Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County uses this to add to the immersion and realism, and has the Talking Heads going over the footage explicitly discuss and lampshade this trope as evidence of the film's authenticity as part of the whole "Found Footage Films" aspect. There's no real plot beyond "getting the hell out of the house", and that doesn't even start until after ten minutes of a mundane video diary about a normal family's Thanksgiving dinner with absolutely zero foreshadowing of the horror to come. Things happen at seeming random, references to past events go unexplained in aversion of As You Know, long sequences of aimless conversation, things that serve no significance to the plot taking up screen-time, and no exposition of what's even causing going on beyond the speculation of the family as they try to figure out how to escape.

  • Judging by the Author's Preface, Mark Twain intended The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to be one of these. Several generations of scholars and English teachers have refused to listen.
    "Notice. Persons trying to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."
    Twain's preface to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian stories, Conan often deals with several unrelated perils. "Iron Shadows in the Moon" has him face an ape-man, Eldritch Abomination statues that come to life, and pirates. Generally carried off by sheer vigor.
  • The plot of The Catcher in the Rye can basically be summed up as "Teenager gets expelled from boarding school, bums around New York for a few days before he has to go home and tell his parents." Along the way, he meets some friends, meets a prostitute, meets some nuns, goes on a date, etc. Each pair of chapters winds up feeling like its own short story.
  • Grey Griffins: The kid heroes encounter goblins that attack them in the forest, portals that show up at convenient times to warp them away — or into — danger, zombies in a graveyard, and a bunch of Deus ex Machina rescues. It's pretty fun, too, but definitely random. The events are somewhat related to the main evil that's out there, but what exactly that evil causes is definitely a bunch of random threats all over the place. One of the co-authors mentions in his public school appearances "the importance of keeping your story unpredictable". (No kidding!) On the other hand, the randomness can really get out of hand and feel like Ass Pulls galore whenever they're not used because the author randomly thought this or that might make a cool place to take the story, even if it makes no sense.
  • Hop on Pop: The book doesn't have a clear storyline, and is just a bunch of silly scenarios blended together.
  • The Magic Map mainly consists of David wandering around the Living Map, bumping into various inhabitants, and learning things from them.
  • The Maximum Ride series, although it only really becomes noticeable during the third book, Saving The World and Other Extreme Sports. At least one or two new plot developments comes up every chapter, and without fail are never explained, elaborated, or even mentioned again.
  • The Odyssey... well, more specifically, the most famous part of it, the story of Odysseus' voyage that he recounts to a room full of people.
  • Pride and Prejudice doesn't really have a central conflict. While the theme is consistent, a majority of the book just consists of Elizabeth's exasperation at her family and disapproval of the uptight people she meets.
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio: Ongoing plotlines are only picked up after random scenes that have nothing to do with anything. For example: at one point the road is blocked by a large snake, whose tail is smoking for no explained reason. Pinocchio tries to jump over it, it tries to bite him, and then suddenly dies while laughing at him. The book certainly has a moral—little boys need to behave—but even the scenes demonstrating that can be rather odd, like when Pinocchio skips school (not even to slack off, but in the hopes of finding his missing father) and almost gets eaten by an inexplicably green fisherman.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is most likely the Ur-Example. Alice falls down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, and just sort of keeps bumping into odd characters. That's it. The adaptations, on the other hand, usually try to give her a reason for being there or make those random encounters not-so-random after all. Arguably the weakest parts of the Tim Burton sequel films are when they wander away from the whimsical randomness and kick off the tacked-on Chosen One plot.
  • The Colour of Magic is far more gag-oriented than the later Discworld books. It's also divided into four parts which are largely disconnected from each other.
  • The Marvelous Land of Oz (the first sequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) by L. Frank Baum. Most everything that happens in the story either comes out of nowhere or has virtually no impact on anything that happens afterwards. Perhaps the best example is when the Main Characters accidentally fly out of Oz, land in a jackdaw nest, use some magical wish-granting pills to fly back to Oz, but forget to take the pills with them. What does this episode add to the story? The world may never know.
  • Don Quixote: Given that the first part of the novel is a Deconstructive Parody of Chivalric Romance, and those books were not more than a Knight Errant in the road reacting to the events that happened to him, the first part of the novel is this, (the second part has a plot in Dulcinea’s rescue). Only that instead of being boring or confusing, Cervantes aimed, and was able, to reproduce the feel of Real Life in his book.
  • The original The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy starts with Arthur and Ford narrowly escaping the Earth moments before its destruction, and then describes a variety of strange things that happened to them after abandoning it, without any overarching narrative connecting them.
    • An In-Universe example in Mostly Harmless: Bartledan literature is supposed to be the greatest in the galaxy, but Arthur can't get into it because the Bartledanians have no hopes or desires, and therefore from a human perspective their books aren't about anything; stuff just happens. In one of them, the main character dies, with no real set-up, two thirds of the way through and random stuff continues to happen without him.
  • Catch-22 is like this, to the point where many first time readers are just advised to read it without attempting to make too much sense of it. Luckily, this is also played for many, many laughs early on. By the last fifteen chapters, however, things start to make sense.
  • The Circus of Doctor Lao: Dr. Lao brings his strange little circus to the town of Abalone, Arizona. The townsfolk aimlessly interact with the various exhibits. There's a final show about a forgotten city called Woldercan. Everybody goes home. Or wherever.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Several episodes of Law & Order seem to be exercises in how many off-the-wall plot twists the writers can throw up on the screen. For example, there's an episode where Briscoe and Green start investigating a homicide like any other, only to come across a woman running her husband over repeatedly. Then another murder. Then more nonsense. By the end of the episode, they've dealt with something like four homicides and an assault, and some random woman hitting Green. It's the funniest episode of the series.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • An episode starts off with a murdered Asian woman. In short order the detectives find out that the victim had been imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese government. Then comes a revelation that she had actually married her husband for a green card, which leads them to suspect him, but it turns out he was cool with it since he only wanted to get married to cover the fact that he was gay. After a series of even more bizarre twists, it turns out the killer is a boy at the local bakery who essentially killed her for her shoes. (He had a foot fetish.) Then the episode ends with the squad arresting his abusive mother for damaging his impulse control centers and essentially making him psychotic with repeated blows to the head over the years.
    • Another good example is the episode that ends up with the SVU detectives (who specialize in rape and sexual assault cases) investigating an ANIMAL SMUGGLING RING. That episode also included a gratuitous shot of half-naked Benson and Stabler pawing each other to maintain Stabler's undercover persona.
  • Lost ran on this trope when it was first starting out. Within just the first few episodes, it threw in magical healing powers, the walking dead, an inexplicable polar bear and some giant unseen monster, and each new episode just introduced new, unexplained weirdness. One of the first season's longer arcs involved characters unearthing a hatch and trying to open it. The writers admit having no idea what was inside at the time - they just thought it would be cool to include a hatch.
  • Many of the episodes in the third season of Robin Hood are like this. Prime example is Let the Games Commence, which involves the outlaws just running around the forest, chased by Prince John's "elite guards" who are defeated when giant fishing nets are thrown over them. Guy of Gisborne has a pet lion that he releases in order to kill the outlaws, and the outlaws respond by throwing mustard powder at it. Little John gets drafted into a rigged gladiator school, a subplot which has nothing to do with anything else going on in the episode. Guy's never-before-seen-or-mentioned sister turns up out of nowhere, and Robin quite fancies her, until he discovers she's his worst enemy's sister, after which he insists she's trustworthy, only to flip abruptly back into aggression by grabbing her face, pushing her into a tree, and stealing her belongings, all of which is completely Out of Character behavior.
  • The 24 producers openly admit to making the plot up as the season goes along, as scripting an inflexible story for a medium very dependent on flexibility would be outright impossible. Still, the better structured seasons cover up this weakness pretty well, while the other ones...less so. Examples of the latter case vary by person, but most fans agree that season six was the most obvious one. When a suitcase nuke goes off in the L.A. suburbs at 10 AM (10:00 24h), you expect mass hysteria for the rest of the day (i.e. season). Mere hours later, people are going about their day like nothing happened. Meanwhile, the terrorist threat bounces between the Islamic extremists, Russian nationalists, the Chinese who captured Jack, and...Jack's immediate family. Uh...
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency explicitly invokes, justifies and subverts this. Dirk solves cases by just going wherever he likes and doing whatever he fancies, and then plot happens. While each event appears random at first, each season is very well thought out, and events always end up tying together neatly as the season goes along (not just in the last ten minutes). This is justified by Dirk being the "debug function of the Universe"; the Universe itself ensures that Dirk is always at just the right place to fix problems, and his counterpart Bart takes this to the extreme — as a holistic assassin, she kills whoever she likes, her victims always just happening to be bad people the Universe is better off without.
  • Every episode of The Young Ones, to the extent that sometimes it feels more like a sketch show that happens to use the same set of characters repeatedly.
  • The Wonder Years has a few episodes that seem to be this.
    • Pilot: The first episode goes from the end of summer to the start of junior high school. The first few high school scenes have no real connection besides taking place at school, then Kevin gets in trouble at school, worries about what his father will do to him, and then comes the announcement that Winnie's brother Brian died in Vietnam.
    • Lunch Stories: Taking place during lunch period, a lot of conflicts and plotlines occur, including Winnie talking Kevin into donating blood, a group of kids pressuring Kevin to cut class with them so they can see an X-rated movie (since Kevin has a car and they don't), Paul getting his pants stained before having to give a speech, Wayne trying to learn the name of a scary student, Chuck trying to aska girl out, and Ricky having to write a 1000-word essay that he didn't know was due the next class.
    • Full Moon Rising: Most of the episode is Kevin and his friends cruisin' in Rickey's car after Ricky gets his license. Among the few plotlines include Kevin breaking a date to go riding, the gang getting mooned and then deciding to moon another car, and them challenging the people who mooned them into a drag race.
  • Sam & Cat had an episode "#DroneBabyDrone" where the first half of the episode was just the cast learning about the drone service. No real conflict set in until halfway through. Even the jokes seemed utterly random.


    Newspaper Comics 
  • Driven by a need for a Cliffhanger every strip, Flash Gordon frequently had something thrown in just to produce it.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Almost any RPG system out there is capable of producing one of these, depending on the whims of the GM and the players. To create an exhaustive list of specific examples is superfluous.
  • More to the point: ever since the original Dungeons & Dragons, most games feature a "random encounter table" or "random adventure creation table" so that gamemasters with no time to prepare can still come up with something for the players to do. Some games do try to put a story structure into the random creation system, others just provide a list of possible encounters.
  • In The Captain Is Dead, the game is driven by the Alerts deck, which throws a random event at the players every turn.
  • Maid RPG has a whole table of random events that can be invoked whenever the players see fit. If used enough, the plot of a play session essentially becomes a series of random events, though the manual warns against using it too often as it can completely derail the story. One listed style of play session is named "completely random" where every element is left up to the dice tables, and is recommended for when the play group doesn't have any time for prep work.

  • Act 1 of Into the Woods is a clear narrative that interweaves the plots of Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel with the original story of a baker and his wife trying to find various items in order to lift a curse. By Act 1's end, they have all achieved their goals and are sure to live happily ever after...until Act 2, when the repercussions of their actions come back to bite them, and the Narrator ends up dying, throwing the world into chaos and destroying any semblance of a plot.
  • Einstein on the Beach manages to subvert this. Sure, there's a couple of scenes that the opera bounces between — the beach, the courthouse and prison, the train, the field and spaceship — but there isn't any actual plot. It's more a series of freeze-frames from the life and work of Einstein than a coherent narrative.
  • Cats is less of a linear story constructed out of a series of thematically related poems and more of a collection of thematically related skits about various characters.

    Video Games 
  • Admittedly, the AI in AI Dungeon 2 isn't the best at keeping a consistent narrative. NPCs can appear and disappear at random, plot points can crop up and be dropped a few lines later and the player can randomly find themselves teleported to different kingdoms. It is possible to make a consistent narrative, but it requires liberal abuse of the remember and revert commands. A later update added a Story command in addition to the Say and Do, meaning that if the AI tries to force this and you're not interested, you can revert to before it tried and write where the story is going, then force it to follow that path.
  • Alien Soldier: A galactic terrorist leader is deposed and then ends up in the body of a young boy who then transforms into a bird man, while also separating his evil side into a giant cyborg eagle. After fighting through hordes of Giant Space Fleas From Nowhere and helping a teddy bear fight off a giant lobster, the planet then explodes for literally no reason whatsoever, then a space wizard sends the hero back in time to fight some more random people including a giant cyborg lion that he's never met before. Confused yet?
  • Amazon: Guardians of Eden: While there's an overarching plot thread regarding Jason being tracked by a Colonel Sanchez, all this amounts to are, at most, a pilot trying to kill him and Sanchez's men tracking Jason's group down to an old rope bridge. Everything else that happens to Jason across the game is a constant string of completely unrelated things individually getting in his way, among them a "high-tech" 1950s robot guardian, piranhas infesting a river, a backwater village's local bully refusing access to the sole telephone in case God calls him through it, an obstinate old archaeologist refusing to help unless Jason does something for him first, and the captain of a slaver ship kidnapping his partner. Jason and Sanchez never even meet until the penultimate chapter, and never really acknowledge each other before Sanchez is killed.
  • The plot of arcade beat-em-up DJ Boy is as follows: Some thugs steal your stereo, so you beat the crap out of everyone in your way, including obese farting old black ladies, Chippendale dancers, robot clowns, glam rockers and members of the Village People. Then in the final stage you suddenly go from an urban environment to the Wild West for no explained reason, fight through the exact same enemies until you battle two of the same farting black ladies you fought in the first stage, and then...the game just ends. And you never do get your stereo back.
  • Grand Theft Auto 2 has its "plot" be about getting money, but allows you to do a number of subplots for various gangs, and is the only way to get a noteworthy amount of money without knowing how to abuse a mechanic. None of these gangs are connected to any gangs in the other locations you visit, none of them deal with Claude's objective of leaving beyond paying him, and indeed, none of these gangs even need to be interacted with.
  • Hell Forces, an obscure Russian FPS, barely has a coherent plot. You start off fighting zombies in an undead-infested city, before ending up in some Mayan pyramids, fighting genetically-altered dinosaurs in some top-secret facility, before entering a high-tech space station filled with robots or facing Baphomet's minions in hell. It's as random as it sounds.
  • Jak 3. Haven City gets attacked by Metal Heads and KG robots, Jak is blamed for it and is banished to the Wasteland where he is rescued by Wastelanders of Spargus City. He begins undergoing a series of trials and tasks to be accepted as a Wastelander. Then Jak, Daxter and Pecker use some old Precursor-techno-railway-catacombs to return to Haven City. Then they find that Count Veger has some Knight Templar plan to rid the world of all shadows. They then start helping Torn battle Metal Heads and KG robots. Then it turns out Vin is still alive as a holographic AI in the Haven City control room. Then it turns out that Erol (formerly Jak's racing rival, now a cybernetic Omnicidal Maniac) is still alive and is commanding the KG robots. Then it turns out there's a bunch of Dark Precursor entities called "Dark Makers" preparing to invade the planet and Erol Errol is working for them. Then it turns out Damas, King of Spargus is Jak's father. Then it turns out the Precursors are really Ottsels like Daxter. Then it turns out Jak may actually be Mar, the founder of Haven City.
  • L.A. Noire has a different feel for each of the division of the LAPD Cole finds himself in. The Patrol desk is a Justified Tutorial, Traffic is purely episodic, Homicide is a self contained story arc involving the Black Dahlia Serial Killer, Vice feels like a prologue to the main plot, while Arson deals with the actual Elysian Fields conspiracy.
  • Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam: Luigi opens a book that makes a bunch of paper people come out. Now go jog across the grassland and the desert to Bowser's Castle. Bowser nearly kills the Bros. with a single cannonball and sends them to jail on an island. Sail back to where you started and climb up this mountain, but you have to go through the forest first. Everyone falls off the mountain, so go through the forest again to climb it again because Bowser's Castle is in the sky now. Beat up Bowser and trap the paper people back in the book. That's basically the main plot, and the fact that characters will regularly show up and disappear with no explanation (including bosses) doesn't help make it more coherent.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 4 is this to the extreme due to its odd structure: 75% of the game consists of tournaments where your opponents are randomized. However, each opponent has his/her own obligatory pre-match mini-quest. While some of these quests are par for the course for the series (opponents trying to sabotage/threaten/blackmail you into losing the match or causing havoc somewhere else) you get Big Lipped Alligator Moments such as laying ghost Navis to rest summoned by your opponent who turns out to be a ghost herself due to having died in the womb, getting roped into sparring against kendo dummies scattered across the net for no reason, getting challenged to a game of explosive virtual soccer, getting challenged to a cooking match, etc. While this is happening, we have two B plots of insignificant stuff like an evil syndicate spreading Navi corrupting chips throughout the net and a killer asteroid headed towards Earth. Even then, most of the remaining 25% are completely unrelated to the actual plots (there's no foreshadowing that the Toy Robos are at all related to Shademan and Regal outside of the Boktai one being about vampires and that one specific robot's guide Navi being Obviously Evil, for example) and tie in more to the tournaments, making maybe 10% actually related to the important things. Both these plots are handled in the remaining 25/10% of the game and come together quite clumsily. There's a reason why this game is the most infamous of the franchise.
  • Pac-Guy: The first game of the series is basically plotless for the first three quarters of it. The basic structure is that Pac-Guy is in a maze, collects the dots, then takes a vehicle somewhere, and ends up in another maze to repeat the process. Once reaching the 10th stage though, the game suddenly picks up a story, specifically a hybrid of A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, then afterwards, concluding with Pac-Guy suddenly encountering an Expy of Khan and escaping from his clutches. The second game tried to have a more cohesive plot, with a parody of the Borg from Star Trek, but a Creator Breakdown caused the writing to lose focus, so while the story does start and end with the BORD, the middle is fairly detached from them outside of one stage where a squad of them fight Pac-Guy in an asteroid field. The following games, on the other hand, have consistent storylines which do follow a (mostly) logical series of events.
  • The majority of Resonance of Fate consists of your three party members running errands and interacting with each other while shadowy Anti Villains plot something far, far away. The two groups only cross paths near the very end, mostly because one of the random events made a party member upset, and the other two didn't like that.
  • RimWorld, in addition to letting you change the game's difficulty at any point, also lets you switch between three AI "Storytellers." Cassandra Classic delivers a typical logical progression of increasingly-challenging events, while Phoebe Chillax works similarly, but gives you more downtime between raids, plagues or other crises. And then there's Randy Random, who does not care about logic, downtime between crises, or whether the difficulty of an event fits your colony's current capability. Randy is just as likely to send a powerful mechanoid cluster at your base as he is to drop cargo pods full of glitterworld medicine on your colony. Randy might have multiple factions raid your base simultaneously (and probably attack each other on the way in), trigger a psychic soothe that makes everyone deliriously happy, send a pack of forty-two manhunting guinea pigs at your workers, bathe the map in toxic fallout, or let a self-tamed elephant join the colony, at any time, as his whims dictate.
  • Sluggish Morss is like a video-game-length Mushroom Samba loosely bound together by some sort of sci-fi narrative. The sequel seems to be slightly less random.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Shadow the Hedgehog suffers from this trope badly, due to the way the game was structured. You could pick three different paths per level: Good, Evil, or Neutral. Depending on your choice, you end up in a completely different level, but the game always has to justify why Shadow ends up there, and more often than not, especially when it goes against every other moral choice you've made up to that point, the justifications are piss-poor or completely arbitrary.
    • Before one of the final ARK levels in the game, Shadow himself complains on how nothing is really making sense. You can take it as an unintentional, yet amusing lampshade.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): Sonic's story without the other two seems like a random series of events where a princess is kidnapped for no reason multiple times, he is attacked by a silver hedgehog, and Shadow comes to save him from said hedgehog. Only after playing Shadow and Silver's stories does any of what's happening and why begin to come together and make sense.
  • Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume is divided into six "chapters," of which all except the first have a good, neutral, and evil version. Chapters 1 and 2 and two versions of chapter 3 each have multiple possibilities for which version they lead into, and the determination is made not from any storyline choice, but through how often you sacrifice the lives of your allies (a standard gameplay action.) This means that while each chapter makes sense in and of itself, each of the first three chapters is self-contained, and the outcome of each is completely irrelevant to what happens in later chapters. (Once you're in the second half the chapter versions you'll get for the rest of the game are determined, so this stops applying and the chapters lead into one another.)
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day is unusual for a platformer game in that doesn't seem to have any real story, other than the overarching theme of the Panther King trying to kidnap Conker to fix his table (and Conker isn't even aware of him until the very end of the game) and Conker just trying to find his way home. Otherwise, it's a series of episodic vignettes as Conker visits strange places with even weirder characters and helps them out (whether he wants to or not). Fortunately, this goes hand in hand with the game's parodic nature.
  • The WarioWare series is random events distilled into a game. It works on three levels: On the smallest scale are the hundreds of 4-second games the gameplay is made up of, each of which are connected only by art style or by basic gameplay mechanic, and from the second playthrough and onwards, appear in random order. Next up are each chapter in the game, which have different characters acting independently of each other, which themselves are sometimes non-sequiturs (in the same game, for instance, you have a pizza delivery girl with animal sidekicks shooting soccer balls; and then later you have a mad scientist building a karaoke robot to do janitorial work). At the highest level is the series itself, where not only is there some level of Negative Continuity (along with some real continuity—it's confusing), every game in the series to date has used a radically different control gimmick (aside from WarioWare Gold, which deliberately mixes previous microgames with buttons, touchscreen, and motion control).
  • Revenge of the Sunfish consists of a series of scenarios that make very little sense when considered on their own and even less sense in relation to each other.
  • Gruntz has no logic behind the progression between each world. While at first it's reasonable with the gruntz going from a forest to an ice world and then to tropics, it stops making sense when they somehow wind up in the clouds high above the ground, and then... in a casino? And then in a gigantic kitchen? And then on a big golf course? And then in space? (This could be rectified a bit if there were more cutscenes in the game than just an intro and outro...)
  • Classic World of Warcraft works like this. Quests are rarely intrinsically connected to more than one other quest. The raid bosses also have no obvious connection to one another, though all of them except C'Thun relate to one of the dungeons you completed while leveling. The game doesn't provide any overarching narrative.

    Web Animation 
  • Charlie the Unicorn: Aside from the basic plot of "the pink and blue unicorns make Charlie go on an adventure", every episode is filled with the trio encountering random obstacles that never pose a threat and strange musical numbers that end with the singer exploding. Also the other two unicorns steal organs from Charlie a lot.
  • ENA: The series is about ENA exploring various Eldritch Locations and having cryptic and often nonsensical conversations with the creatively-designed people that she comes across. There is a vague plot pulling the stories forward, but telling a consistent, rational narrative isn't really the point of the videos.
  • The second series of the multi-website collaboration The Most Amazing Story Ever Told, with the first episode focusing on a superhero caught in a trap, the second on a kid playing with superhero toys, the third on the kid exploding and two different and seemingly unrelated scenes, and the fourth on two kids trying to get on the thirteenth floor of an elevator that lacks a "13" in its array of numbers. The fifth introduces some semblance of continuity by having God introduce the plot of the fate strand which has gone missing, and the two following episodes follow up on the fate strand, though they do it from space and the seventh episode reveals it as being due to the Earth having apparently been destroyed. But that all goes out the window in the eighth episode, where a two-headed mutant human who lives far in the future recaps the events of the series, and then defecates from its heads for some reason.
  • Putting aside some hidden lore, Spooky Month can be summarized as "Let's go to my house! Let's go to the cemetary! Let's go to buy a doll! Let's burn it to see if it screams!"
  • Sonic for Hire: While the series is pretty tightly serialized, the actual narrative focuses mainly on the characters visiting other video game worlds and doing whatever.
  • The story of Tunselous has one of these, but as it's the audio equivalent to a Room Full of Crazy, there should be no surprise there. The first part seems to be about a search for a lost UFO, however, Tunselous is eventually granted a new one by the king of UFOs. The second part is about his quest to bring fairness to a society where what one is allowed to eat depends on their level of magical skill. In the final part, he uses Insane Troll Logic to become rich by stealing a crossbow.

  • Com'c is fairly random. Oddevices may be the clearest example of this trope in the comic: They are devices that appear out of nowhere, activate for no apparent reason and do something odd to anyone near it while also disappearing.
  • MS Paint Adventures:
    • Jailbreak, as you'd expect from a forum game in which every action taken in-universe is nothing more well-thought-out than the first suggestion given by any of the other forumites at the time. It helps that said forumites had a rather...odd sense of humour.
    • Problem Sleuth started out as this, but it gathered a plot revolving around defeating Mobster Kingpin fairly early on. Since suggested commands were used throughout, however, it still remained very random and prone to going off on tangents.
    • Homestuck, in contrast to earlier stories, not only has had a plot since the very beginning, but has evolved a ridiculously complicated one with mind-boggling continuity. The creator has argued out that leaving out details during exposition would keep the story from making much sense at all. What may seem random at first usually has some relevance to the story later.
  • Any Dada Comic counts, but Listening to 11.975 MHz deserves a special mention for sheer incomprehensibility. The first few strips alone feature bizarrely-drawn characters spouting off Word Salad in several different languages, and Deco Blue's surreal adventures don't make any more sense than this.
  • Axe Cop has this as a feature, because the plots are written by the artist's six-years-old nephew. For instance, while being strangled by the Monster of the Week, the hero sees an invisible compartment, that contains a gun. It turns out to be a book gun. The hero has a book that turns into a giant robot, so he fires it from the book gun and ends up in a mecha, attacking the monster. The next panel just says that this doesn't work because the monster is too strong, so the mecha disappears and isn't mentioned again in the story.

    Web Videos 
  • Unlike a lot of other SMP series, SMPLive does not have a large overarching plotline, instead focusing on the random shenanigans the characters get up to.

    Western Animation 
  • Many Golden Age cartoons, not unlike the live-action comedies they paralleled, didn't even bother to have real stories, focusing more on collections of vignettes that set up gags relating to the shorts' general theme. Since the bulk of them were comedies or animated music videos, this usually worked out fine.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force likes this. Co-creator Dave Willis said in an interview that given the choice between cutting a joke or cutting exposition that explains what’s going on (the episodes had to fit inside a 12-minute time-slot) he’d pretty much always cut the exposition and let the viewer fill in the blanks. Unless the exposition is the joke, of course.
    • The plot of “Grim Reaper Gutters” goes as so: the Aqua Teens are sitting around in their house reminiscing about random past events (some of which were on previous episodes and some which weren’t). Meatwad says that he’s made a shirt out of pubic hair he found at the nearby greasy spoon and offers it to Frylock, who suggests he offer it Carl instead. They call Carl up and ask if he wants to hang out, and he says no until they say real life porn star Tera Patrick is at their house, who has apparently been silently kneeling on the floor off-screen eating corn dogs in lingerie the entire time. Carl heads over but is intercepted by Dan, the grim reaper and salesman for the titular Grim Reaper Gutters. Carl doesn’t want new gutters so Dan kills him and tells the Aqua Teens he won’t leave until he makes a sale, so they buy gutters. Tera says she wants to party with Dan and asks where he is, Master Shake makes a joke about Dan having a bridge in New York to sell them, Meatwad pulls out a gun, declares New York doesn’t have any bridges, and shoots himself. Roll credits.
  • Nearly every episode of The Simpsons that relies on a Halfway Plot Switch. Which is a lot. Sometimes there's a teeny-tiny thread holding events together. Usually there isn't. Rule of Funny may or may not apply here.
    • They actually did a Lampshade Hanging about this very early on, before most of the plots even fitted the trope. In the Spoof Aesop ending of "Blood Feud", the family concludes that the episode had no moral, that it was "just a bunch of stuff that happened" but "certainly was a memorable few days". Just a Bunch of Stuff That Happened could have been another name for this trope.
    • Also lampshaded in "Tennis the Menace." It starts with the family going to a funeral house to look for caskets for Grandpa Simpson (while he's alive, natch), the plot segues into tennis. Homer's comment was "Betcha didn't see that coming."
    • In "A Tale of Two Springfields", Bart finds a badger in the dog's house. Homer tries to get it to leave; unable, he decides to call animal control. He discovers that he can't if he uses the old number because the phone company has run out of phone numbers and has divided the town in two, assigning a new area code to each half. Homer then makes a row about wanting his old phone number back. At this point the badger climbs to the kitchen window seeking attention, only for Homer to shush it away saying that he has more important matters at hand now.note 
    • In "Fear of Flying," Homer gets thrown out of Moe's, which leads to him finding a new bar to drink in, which results in him wrecking an airliner, leading to a coverup that uncovers Marge being afraid to fly, and the rest of the episode is about Marge getting therapy for it.
    • The norm for the plot structure is "Something happens, there is an inept attempt to deal with it which leads into some completely unrelated adventure that goes terribly, terribly wrong."
      • Game: Write down the opening scene/problem and the episode's resolution on separate cards, make a stack of each, then try to match one with the other. How did that Tomacco episode start out again?
  • The Venture Brothers, "Escape to the House of the Mummies, Part II" (there is no part I, and a part III that is implied never comes, so it isn't even resolved) which includes such disparate elements as mummies (duh), time travel, and Edgar Allen Poe in a headlock. The plot involving the boys and Brock is an interconnected set of Noodle Incidents, with the main plot of the episode being a fairly cohesive and self-contained one focusing on Dr. Venture and Dr. Orpheus's competition.
  • Flip the Frog is one of those old cartoons that time forgot, not least of all because of this trope (compared to other shorts like Betty Boop and Popeye). Case in point: Room Runners. Flip doesn't have the money to pay for a hotel room he rented. A bunch of random stuff ensues as he tries to flee the angry owner, which also involves someone repeatedly asking him to help pull a loose tooth out, until he finally scores a jackpot on a slot machine to make his payment.
  • Weirder episodes of The Amazing World of Gumball reach this territory. Some of them technically have a plot, such as "The Countdown" which manages to go from a Race Against the Clock story to a Time Stands Still story to a Time Travel story in the span of about 11 minutes. Some of the Vignette Episodes episodes have the sketches as a series of events with a causal or spacial link ("The Butterfly" is about the Disaster Dominoes unleashed by a literal butterfly), but without a central character or overarching narrative.
  • In-universe, Metalocalypse has the film Blood Ocean, featured in "Dethstars." Between a very Troubled Production and Dethklok themselves having far too much creative control, what clips we can see of it show little to no plot whatsoever. What can be discerned is that it involves an oil rig in the titular ocean with a life raft floating beside it, and that it has five main characters with no apparent relation to each other (all of whom are referred to as things like "karate spy" and "space Viking") who mostly spend their time bluntly telling the audience their motivations. Even the trailer seems to be struggling to describe the plot, with several words being full-on unintelligible.
  • Some episodes of The Patrick Star Show lean more heavily into "random stuff happening" than having a consistent plot like in SpongeBob.
    • The premiere episode is about Patrick ending up in different wacky escapades while simply trying to find something to eat.
    • "Terror at 20,000 Leagues" is effectively a compilation of Halloween-themed skits. While there is a small runner of Patrick and Squidina going trick-or-treating, much of the episode consists of lengthy cutaways to things like a werewolf hairstyling boutique and a sci-fi horror story.
    • Exaggerated with "Mid-Season Finale", which barely has a plot. Rather, it takes the form of a rapid-fire Sketch Comedy along the lines of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. This includes Squidina morphing into a killer ventriloquist dummy, a prehistoric Game Show, a search for the episode's ending, Cecil and Bunny acting out a Victorian romance story (which gets derailed by Squidward and a mime), and GrandPat and Grandma Tentacles having a sky battle using their houses.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • "Fairly Old Parent": Poof has enough magic to be a fairy godparent, but it's to Crocker's elderly mother. Poof gets overworked and Timmy and Wanda try to rescue him. This is a solid plot, but the episode contains asides such as Cosmo being turned into a grilled cheese sandwich (which lasts for the entire thing), jokes about Denzel Washington, and two scenes involving "Bingo jail." Wanda also gets the Idiot Ball and makes strange comments throughout. By the time the ending comes, even Timmy is confused as to what just happened.
    • The plot of "Cat-Astrophe" makes very little sense, and is hard to describe besides Catman fighting villains, Cosmo and Wanda being captured, and Timmy and Sparky being in it.
    • The events of "Nuts and Dangerous" are hard to describe beyond besides Timmy's dad making a movie and Catman being in it for some reason.
    • "Knitwits": Timmy's dad wants to be a knight, but Timmy doesn't like dressing up as a princess for him, so his dad finds a "knighting cruise" and invites his family along. It turns out to be a knitting cruise for elderly people. After this, the episode throws in a bunch of subplots including Juandissimo trying to marry Wanda, Catman fearing that a ball of yarn is cheating on his girlfriend, Timmy's dad wanting to slay a dragon, Timmy's mom looking old after getting a makeover, and Chloe wanting to sing a song for an audience.


Video Example(s):


When You Let An AI Run RAW

Cultaholic, who normally watch and review wrestling shows, decide to review an AI generated one, which just randomly generates different types of wrestling matches as well as distorted images of wrestlers. One of the matches is a hotdog eating contest that begins with Michael Cole ranting about hearing voices in his head, prompting the commentators to laugh their heads off, though it's not the last they've laughed during this match, as the descriptive wording of how Rey Mysterio eats a lot of hot dogs also gets them laughing.

How well does it match the trope?

4.88 (16 votes)

Example of:

Main / RandomEventsPlot

Media sources: