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Retroactive Idiot Ball

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This character's action makes complete sense. You watch the movie and you understand his motivations. He either had to kill his mentor or let his son die. It's as simple as that.

Except that it's not, because in three years, there's going to be a prequel that reveals a Third Option that our hero definitely should have known about.

This trope is when a later installment in a series or franchise introduces a piece of information that the character should know, that retroactively makes the character's actions seem unnecessary, obviously misguided, or downright dumb. Headcanons rationalizing the character's actions abound, but Canon itself makes no attempt to explain it. It's like they were hoping no one would notice, or maybe more that they didn't notice themselves. The powers that be may come up with an explanation when pressed, but no canon, in-universe explanation exists.

If the out-of-universe explanation for an action is "because that power hadn't been invented yet", "because the writer hadn't written the prequel yet", or "because [character who definitely would have known how to solve the problem] didn't exist until the Interquel", and there's no In-Universe explanation provided, you probably have this trope.

This often results from either a deliberate Retcon (whether the implications of the actions get changed intentionally or accidentally is another matter), or a universe receiving an unexpected expansion, such as a Prequel or a lore-heavy spin-off. It is especially common in franchises with huge universes that span many different writers who may not always be on the same page, and in series where installments don't take place in the order they're released in, where a character may learn a piece of information in a later addition that they appear to "forget" for audience members who consume the media chronologically rather than in release order.

Compare Idiot Ball, where the character's actions didn't make sense even when they were first written, Series Continuity Error, where canon contradicts itself, and Continuity Snarl, where the continuity is so complicated that no one can keep it straight. Often caused by an Ass Pull, but can also result from a revelation that had solid build up if the series has been going on long enough. Can result in a retroactive example of Forgot About His Powers if a character has powers that weren't added until later additions to the series.

See also Voodoo Shark and Fan-Disliked Explanation.

As this trope requires explaining plot points of at least two works, all of the examples below are spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • When Goku came back to life in the Saiyan Saga, he went with the Flying Nimbus towards the battlefield to save his friends. The beginning of the next arc would reveal Mister Popo has a magic carpet that is faster than the Nimbus (it teleports!), making one question why he didn't bring that up. Possibly making toast or something.
    • A Dub-Induced Plot Hole example: After his training with King Kai is complete, Goku is forced to run all the way back down Snake Way in order to reach the Otherworld check-in station, and thus return to Earth. Later, during the Cell Saga, Goku asks for King Kai's help in locating the Namekians' new home, stating that he will use his Instant Transmission technique (which he learned from the Yardrat race in the interim) to go there and recruit a new Guardian of Earth. King Kai then reveals that he knows the same technique. This of course raises the question of why King Kai couldn't have used that technique to bring Goku straight to the check-in station himself.
    • Both times that the heroes were given advanced warning of a dangerous new foe coming to fight them (the Saiyans and Androids), they used the chance to train and get as strong as they could within the time limit they had. After being defeated by Android's 17 and 18, and Cell is introduced, Goku reveals the existence of Hyperbolic Time Chamber on Kami's Lookout, which allows the people inside to get a whole year's worth of training in a day. This makes the years of intense training in prior arcs look dumb in retrospect, since they could have just gone into the Time Chamber, trained for a bit inside, and emerge more powerful, especially considering the whole Year Inside, Hour Outside aspect means they can still train the same outside of it, meaning they effectively get an additional year with no downsides. The only somewhat justified reason they couldn't use it (the limit on the amount of time you can spend in it, and the atmospheric conditions) aren't presented as serious enough in the original manga to justify why the humans don't use it nor why it wasn't used sooner, especially when Goku also states it's where he trained with Kami during the timeskip near the end of the original ''Dragon Ball' story, which means that Goku as a kid could go in, but the human characters somehow can't, despite being more powerful at the start of Z than Goku is when he would have gone in as a kid.
    • Also related to the Time Chamber: In Z, it was stated one could only use it twice in their life, as if they stayed past the 48 hour limit, they would be trapped inside forever. This was important because it meant characters had to be mindful of when they needed to use it, since they could only do so twice before being locked out forever. Super would reveal that the room can be adjusted to basically ensure someone can reuse it as many times as they want. Why this was not done before Super is not revealed, but it makes the heroes look like idiots for not adjusting it sooner, since they could have done so against Cell or other foes to get even stronger with no downsides.
    • During the Majin Buu Saga, Vegeta has let himself be corrupted by Babidi's "Majin" spell in order to force a fight against Goku. In response, Goku fights Vegeta in a prolonged battle using his full power, the same Super Saiyan form (SS 2) that Gohan used during his fight with Cell. Not long after though, Majin Buu becomes released due to the energy generated by said fight, Gohan is thought to have been killed by Buu, Vegeta is dead after a failed sacrifice to kill Buu, and Goku needs to stall Majin Buu, so he confronts Buu and reveals Super Saiyan 3. Not only does this make him hiding this look silly, it also makes him fighting Vegeta look even dumber; Super Saiyan 3 not only would have been strong enough to defeat Vegeta, but he likely could have defeated Buu with said form if he had done so. The only justification Goku has is that it burns through his ki at a frightening rate (it's only viable when he's dead in Other World) and he might need it later, but it makes him doing so seem like an idiot, since he could have used it to defeat Vegeta, then go and try to and help stop Buu. Vegeta later calls him out on hiding it when he is temporarily revived.
    • In Dragon Ball Z: Cooler's Revenge, Cooler sends his three squad members to hunt down Goku, Gohan, and Krillin, who are able to avoid detection by hiding their powers and laying low. When Gohan slips ups and gets found, Piccolo saves him from Cooler's men, only being beaten when Cooler attacks him before Piccolo can finish off the last of his men. The next film, Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler, reveals Cooler knows Instant Transmission, meaning he could have easily stopped Gohan the second he sensed his power by teleporting to him, or saved his men by teleporting as soon as Piccolo appeared and stop him, making the normally pragmatic Cool look dumb for not doing so.
    • Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero reveals that Shenron could release the hidden potential within Piccolo to the point where he is nearly as strong as Gohan after he had his own potential unlocked by the Elder kai. And it turns out Shenron could actually add on to this and give him an even greater form. While other threats had times that would have made this hard to use a wish on, Cell had just killed several cities worth of people and they didn't know Buu was a threat until after reviving those killed by Vegeta, this doesn't explain why they hadn't done it on other occasions or gone to New Namek for their dragon balls for a wish. This is especially noticeable during the Tournament of Power where any help would have been appreciated.
  • In the early parts of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, the main Arc Villain is Keicho Nijimura, a guy whose father has been horribly disfigured and in constant pain, but also rendered basically immortal. He wants to find someone with the power to Mercy Kill his dad, and he's obtained a supernatural arrow that allows him to grant anyone a random power—however, the arrow is extremely likely to kill a person if they aren't strong enough to develop one. To accomplish this, he shoots the arrow at random people throughout the town, in the hopes that one of them will win the Superpower Russian Roulette, killing a number of people and turning a number of others into early Monster of the Week threats. This is a terrible plan, for sure, and it ultimately leads to his death, but it makes sense from the perspective of an increasingly desperate guy with lacking moral fiber. However, later on, a different villain named Yoshihiro Kira reveals that someone using the arrow can sense when a person has the potential to survive and develop powers. So either Keicho really didn't bother to experiment with the arrow, despite having it for years, or he was dumb enough to shoot people despite knowing there was no chance they'd develop powers.
  • My Hero Academia: When Izuku first receives One For All from All Might, his body naturally has a lot of difficulty adjusting to suddenly having a powerful Quirk, leading to him repeatedly breaking his bones while attempting to use it properly. It's eventually revealed that Toshinori, like Izuku, used to be Quirkless as well, and secretly used a variety of support equipment while his body was getting accustomed to it. Naturally, this begs the question of why Toshinori never considered looking into any support equipment for his successor until after Izuku sustained injuries serious enough to risk permanently rendering his arms unusable. This pretty much piles on the fact that Toshinori may not be the best teacher for Deku if he forgot an important detail like that. The story pretty much confirms this, once Gran Torino takes over Deku's training.
  • Naruto:
    • The premise of the series revolves around the fact that the title character, Naruto, is hated and shunned by the rest of Konohagure because they believe him to be the Nine-Tailed Fox that destroyed their village and killed several villages—including the beloved Fourth Hokage. It's revealed that Naruto is not the fox, but an innocent child that was chosen to contain the fox, and also, Naruto is the son of both the beloved Fourth Hokage as well as a member of the esteemed and respected Uzumaki family... who for generations have acted as the vessel for the fox to protect the people. This raises the question of why no one, including members of the Konohagure leadership who should know better, told the people who Naruto's parents were. The reason is Hand Waved as "because the Hokage's enemies would have targeted Naruto", but this still makes little sense because Naruto himself came very close multiple times to going down the same path as many of the series' villains due to the treatment he received. Further, every clan in Naruto has enemies, and if people knew who Naruto was, they would have more inclination to protect him.
    • When Jiraiya is introduced, he becomes Naruto's mentor after Naruto manages to impress him enough to allow him to learn from him, implying Jiraiya had a vague idea of who Naruto was, but only just met him since he was away from the village for a long time. Later on it turns out Jiraiya not only knew Naruto's parents, but he was Naruto's god father, and knew who Naruto was the whole time. Why he never came back to the village to take care of Naruto after the deaths of his parents, and try to help turn people's perception on Naruto around, is never explained, but it makes the father figure mentor Jiraiya was meant to be for Naruto look completely incomprehensible to anyone with the slightest degree of empathy, since Jiraiya basically abandoned Naruto.
    • Initially, Itachi said he killed the Uchiha clan to test how strong he could become, and spared Sasuke because he was curious to see if Sasuke would follow in his footsteps, setting up Sasuke's desire for revenge and power. Years later after his death following an intense fight with Sasuke, it's revealed Itachi actually did all that because he learned his clan was going to stage a coup to overthrow the village, and being loyal to the village, killed all but Sasuke, who was spared as part of the arrangement, and lied to convince Sasuke to one day kill him to be seen as a hero by the village. The problem is that Itachi went out of his way to push Sasuke to want more power, which lead Sasuke to defect from the village and join Orochimaru, who Itachi knows wants an Uchiha's body for Body Surf reasons. If his goal was to convince Sasuke to stay in the village and become a hero, it backfired because Sasuke learning the truth made him hate the village enough to want to destroy it in response. Even if he assumed Sasuke would never learn the truth, he directly encouraged and caused Sasuke to become a fugitive even before his death, making the supposedly genius Itachi who was trying to protect his brother and the village look dumb for not doing either right. It speaks volumes when Itachi himself admits to this mistake and has to entrust Sasuke to Naruto.
    • Back when Naruto first interacted with the Nine-Tailed Fox within him, the latter gave the him his Chakra despite his clear resentment at being imprisoned because it was originally stated that if Naruto dies, then the Fox dies as well. However late in Part II, it is later revealed that the Tailed Beasts will revive some time after being killed as shown what happened with Rin & the Three-Tails and the Fox himself knows it. By the time the revelation is known, Kurama is already on the verge of genuinely caring about his host but given that he initially wants to be free and away from humans after being trapped for so long, it begs the question of why he even protect Naruto at all when simply letting him die would have allowed him to accomplish said goals far sooner than expected.

    Comic Books 
  • Superman: When Superman was first created, little about his home planet of Krypton was known other than the fact that its technology and genetics were far more advanced than our own, and that the planet died suddenly without giving its people enough time to evacuate. As Superman gained more New Powers as the Plot Demands and new details about Krypton were introduced, it was suddenly revealed that most (if not all) of the entire Kryptonian population were not only aware that they gained godlike Combo Platter Powers on planets with comparatively lower gravity, thinner atmospheres and yellow suns like Earth, but that the entire reason Jor-El sent his son to Earth was so that he could enjoy these benefits. In turn, this made the entire Kryptonian species look like morons for staying put on one small planet where they were basically Muggles until the moment it blew up. Later retcons then established that Kryptonians had once formed a powerful empire that attempted to conquer and colonize other planets, but somehow failed at it and were forced to retreat back to Krypton. But yet again, this backfired as readers began to wonder how a space-faring race with the potential to become Flying Bricks ever managed to screw up that badly.
    • There was a retcon that explained all that: A Kryptonian mad scientist released a toxin that permanently rewrote the entire population's genetics so that leaving the planet for any length of time was lethal. Jor-El managed to edit Kal-El's genetic code in his birthing matrix to remove it. That was seemingly abandoned in favor of the "repentant ex-conquerors" explanation, post-New 52.
  • The DC superhero Damage had a major part of his origin story be that his "parents" were actually employees of the conspiracy that created him, charged with watching and raising him until the superpowers he'd been genetically engineered for showed up. Later retcons rather bungled this up by establishing that his foster-father physically and sexually abused him, which makes the guy look extremely stupid to a downright cartoonishly suicidal degree; he's literally torturing something that his entire job and life relies upon being kept safe, as well as provoking somebody he is fully aware could kill him very easily.

    Fan Works 
  • In Two Letters, Marinette entrusts Lila with the Ladybug Miraculous as part of a revenge scheme against all of Paris, banking on threats to make sure she isn't betrayed. While it works out there, the Recursive Fanfiction Face The Truth turns it into one of these; not only does Lila still hate Marinette with a passion, but she has no problem with using her new powers to destroy her reputation, leading to Marinette's downfall.

    Films ó Animation 
  • The Lion King:
    • When Rafiki appears to tell Simba's friends that he's gone back to the Pride Lands, a confused Timon asks "Who's the monkey?". But in The Lion King 1 Ĺ, a P.O.V. Sequel, itís revealed that Timon actually met Rafiki much earlier in the narrative (as in before the original's narrative even started) and that in fact, Rafiki was the one who taught him the "Hakuna Matata" motto and that Timon's whole journey that led to him ending up in the place he's introduced in the original movie was based on him being Literal-Minded and misinterpreting Rafiki's advice, meaning that he should have known who the monkey was.
    • In the original movie, the scene where Simba sees Mufasa's ghost was not explicitly defined, but is easy to see as a hallucination on Simba's part representing his realization that he canít run away from his past and that he needs to set things right. This explains why Mufasa didn't just tell Simba the truth about what happened: Simba didn't know, so why would his vision? The sequels made it so it was the actual ghost of Mufasa, which raises the obvious question of why Mufasa didn't tell Simba that it wasn't his fault that he died and that Scar was the one who really killed him, instead of just vaguely telling him to "Remember who you are."

    Films ó Live-Action 
  • In the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl the crew of the Black Pearl had been cursed into undeath upon stealing the treasure of Cortés. They were actually informed that some sort of curse existed but dismissed it on the basis that, as Barbossa concurs with Elizabeth when she hears about it and doesn't believe it, they "hardly believe in ghost stories." Likewise, their former captain Jack Sparrow, whom they mutinied against and so avoided being cursed, upon seeing the cursed crew, comments "So there is a curse...", suggesting that he didn't believe it either. Nothing in the original movie suggests this is an unusual train of thought. The sequels go on to explain that by this point Jack had already met Davy Jones and both Jack and Barbossa are Pirate Lords who know the goddess Calypso was bound in human form by their predecessors, amongst other supernatural things that seem to be common knowledge amongst pirates. So it's a little weird that the crew would suddenly decide the curse isn't real and commit mutiny against Jack Sparrow to get the treasure.
  • Star Wars:
    • In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon is fatally injured from his battle with Darth Maul, and as Obi-Wan cradles him he painfully tells him it's too late to save him and that he'll have to train Anakin in his stead. Anakin's very motivation throughout the Prequel Trilogy and especially Revenge of the Sith is to obtain the power to prevent Padmé from dying. The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker establish that Force Healing is very much a thing and can not only heal fatal injuries of others, but can even bring back the recently deceased, albeit at a cost. Even worse, while Rey has a Hand Wave in that she learned it studying sacred Jedi texts that weren't made available to most, Kylo Ren picks it up easily after watching her do it to him, saving him from the same sort of stab wound that did in Qui-Gon (though, this could also be Hand Wave'd on the basis of their diad). There's little practical reason to why this skill wasn't widespread taught amongst the Jedi Order at its height. Notably, the Legends continuity did have the ability, but it was typically given a necessary balance in that it couldn't outright save people from death, and required meditation and a lot of time to learn to use on the fly, meaning it wouldn't be able to outright save people from dying.
    • In A New Hope, we see that Obi-Wan's standard outfit while hanging out on Tatooine is a brown cloak worn over a set of beige robes. If you go strictly by the film, and compare his outfit to the one worn by (for instance) Owen Lars, the assumption would probably be that Obi-Wan is dressing like one of the locals and wearing a cloak to protect himself from the harsh environment, which makes sense, as he's supposed to be in hiding. Later films in the series (particularly the prequels) reveal that Obi-Wan's outfit was pretty much standard Jedi attire, raising the question of how Obi-Wan has managed to stay in hiding when he isn't disguising himself at all and hasn't changed his surname from that of a famous Jedi commander.
    • The prequels raise the question of why Obi-Wan thought it was safe to raise Luke on Vader's homeworld in the care of Vader's only known relative, his step-brother, and have Luke keep his last name. Revenge of the Sith lessened it somewhat by explaining that Vader did not know Padmé had given birth before dying (and so wouldn't know to look for children of his), and the Obi-Wan Kenobi series lessens the idiocy further by explaining that Obi-Wan didn't know Vader survived the events on Mustafar until a decade later.
    • A New Hope has a number of characters being rather doubtful as to whether the Force even exists—Han calls it a "hokey religion" and claims he's never seen anything that would make him believe in it, and Motti is willing to mock Vader to his face. In A New Hope, this makes relative sense, because the manifestations we see of it in the film consist of mental influencing, enhanced reflexes, and being able to detect other Force-users (Vader's famous choke is the only outlier and could easily be seen as simply a mental command to stop breathing), all of which could plausibly be dismissed as luck or magic tricks. Indeed, in early drafts, it really was seen as mostly just a religion and a form of zen rather than a superpower. After The Empire Strikes Back showed off Jedi explicitly moving objects with their minds and performing genuine superhuman feats, this became a lot harder to imagine, especially since the Prequels established that the Clone Wars had Jedi fighting on the frontlines of every other planet and using their powers openly only a couple decades prior.
    • By a similar count, A New Hope also has Motti's willingness to openly insult Vader. Though he's clearly framed as a Smug Snake throughout, it at least makes some sense in the original that he's willing to push his luck (when combined with the above note about the Force) when Vader is never framed as anything more than a notable agent of the Emperor and seems to rank below Tarkin. In The Empire Strikes Back, it's shown that Vader has admirals reporting back to him and is able to execute them on the spot and promote their second-in-command with no consequences, and he's framed as the second most important person in the Empire after the Emperor himself. This turns Motti's back-sassing from merely smug to downright Too Dumb to Live. The Expanded Universe Star Wars: Darth Vader would show that Darth Vader was just a notable agent for the Emperor at the time and, rather violently, took the reins of the Emperor's second in command from everyone who tried to have it in the aftermath of the Death Star's destruction. It's still a large case of All There in the Manual that came after the fact though. However, Revenge of the Sith basically showed Vader to be in practice already second to Sidious as his direct Sith student, and Rogue One already depicts Vader as an important authority figure who oversees the construction of the Death Star and only answers to the emperor himself.
    • At the beginning of A New Hope when Vader captures the Tantive IV Leia tells him she's just on a diplomatic mission. While he doesn't believe it, it's still not all that improbable in the context of just this movie. Then, Rogue One (which ends right before A New Hope begins), we find out that Vader followed Leia directly from the Battle Of Scarif (in which she participated), making her claim Blatant Lies, and making her seem really dumb for thinking Vader would fall for it.
    • Leia kisses Luke on the mouth, though admittedly mainly to tick off Han, in The Empire Strikes Back. Return of the Jedi has her tell Luke that she's always known they were siblings.
    • In the original trilogy, particularly The Empire Strikes Back, Obi-Wan did not seem aware that Leia and Luke were siblings until Yoda told him about it. This becomes very strange in light of Revenge of the Sith, which showed that he not only knew they were siblings, he was present for their birth and came up with the plan to split them up.
    • Obi-Wan's ghost in The Empire Strikes Back tells Luke that he cannot interfere if Luke decides to confront Darth Vader. The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker, and an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars show Force ghosts interfering with the physical world, so Obi-Wan could have done a lot to help out Luke during his fight with Vader.
    • When the Emperor attacks Luke with Force lightning in Return of the Jedi, Luke is completely caught off guard and is unable to defend himself against it. Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith show that Force lightning can be blocked either by a lightsaber, or — among advanced Force users such as Yoda — absorbed through the hand and deflected back to the attacker. Had Luke not tossed away his lightsaber, he could have deflected Palpatine's lightning for at least a little while. It's likely that he didn't know how to do so, or even that the power existed in the first place, which means that neither Obi-Wan nor Yoda bothered to teach him how to defend himself against Dark Side powers, making them seem like the true idiots. Yoda does warn Luke not to underestimate the Emperor, but doesn't clarify why nor give him any tips on how to do so.
    • Han and Leia choosing to pass on the Solo name rather than the Organa name never made a ton of sense considering that Alderaan was a matriarchal society and Organa is the name of a royal house and of one of the few remaining Alderaanian bloodlines, but it makes even less sense after Solo revealed that Solo wasn't even Han's original last name and was given to him as a placeholder by an Imperial officer.
    • The Rise of Skywalker attempts to plug the idea of the "Holdo Maneuver" in The Last Jedi by proclaiming that the move (essentially accelerating into hyperspace and turning the ship into a ram) is "one in a million." While this does explain why the move isn't common, it also makes Holdo's Heroic Sacrifice rather baffling, since she would have been sacrificing the last ship in the fleet on a maneuver that would probably simply have catapulted her across the galaxy—bordering on out-of-character, even, since Holdo's entire purpose is to be the Boring, but Practical commander who picks subtle strategies that work over gambling on the longshot. If Holdo was truly out of options, it raises the question for why only she used such a strategy, and not the support cruisers in her fleet who simply kept going straight on until they ran out of fuel and died where they stood.
    • An Interquel comic released after The Rise of Skywalker revealed that Darth Vader knew about Exegol and the Emperor's plan for resurrection. This obviously raises the question about why he didn't warn Luke about it during his last moments... or even after when he came back as a force ghost.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Rumplestiltskin goes through the trouble of creating the Dark Curse, which requires, among other things, sacrificing the thing you love the most, and spends years grooming someone to be evil enough to cast it, all so he can follow his son to the Land Without Magic. Later seasons reveal that there are any number of MacGuffins he could have acquired that would have allowed him to freely traverse realms.
    • Multiple characters are motivated and deeply affected by the death of a loved one. Early seasons reiterate that death is the one thing magic can't fix. Both Rumplestiltskin and Regina start down the path of evil after seeing a loved one die. Halfway through Season 5, we learn that the Underworld exists and you can go there and rescue dead loved ones, and the characters have apparently just known this the whole time.
      • Then again, Hades will try to stop all hopefuls by sabotaging the rescue effort and it's doubtful Zeus would let anyone pass multiple times.
  • Supernatural: Season 6 involves Crowley trying to find Purgatory, desiring to take all of its souls to empower him, going to extreme lengths, including trying to capture the Alphas and angering Eve. Season 8, however, reveals that not only do Reapers have the power to go to Purgatory and Crowley has a corrupt one on his payroll, but there is backdoor from Purgatory into Hell (where Crowley is king of). Even if one assumes he didn't recruit him till later, it begs the question why he never simply kidnapped a reaper to interrogate them.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Through all but the very last edition of Warhammer, the story of the Dark Elves and their leader Malekith was more or less the same: Malekith wanted to become Phoenix King like his father, but was deemed too ambitious to deserve it, and when he tried to force the issue (by assassinating the previous king and jumping into the Flames of Asuryan) he got horrifically burned and was rejected by the gods, which lead to him and his followers starting a bloody civil war, splitting from their kin to become the Dark Elves and starting the millennia-long conflict between them and the High Elves. And then the End Times revealed that Malekith had actually been worthy all along but had jumped from the Flames a few seconds too soon and all the next Phoenix Kings had been usurpers and cursed by the gods. Why the actual gods themselves (at least two of which have living incarnations in the world, but all of whom can communicate with the world to various extents) never bothered telling anyone at the moment or at any point during the thousands of years in-between was never explained, nor was how the long line of supposed "cursed" High Elven kings managed to reign more or less adequately throughout the millenia.

    Video Games 
  • In the first Baldur's Gate Imoen is the seemingly normal childhood friend of the main character, who becomes involved in the story when she sneaks out of Candlekeep to help after finding a letter meant for Gorion that drives her to join the player character. Baldur's Gate II then reveals that Imoen was a Bhaalspawn all along, which retroactively makes Gorion look like an idiot, because he basically let another Bhaalspawn roam Candlekeep with no care or worry unlike the player character. If she truly was one the entire time, one would think he'd have given her more attention by him, instead of having the town's innkeeper raise her instead. In doing so, it lead to more problems down the road when it was discovered she was one all along.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: In the main game, the Joker infected were locked up in one of Batman's hidden hideouts in Gotham, but the hideout was discovered and stormed by Harley Quinn. Except the "Race Track" DLC, released months after the game, reveals that Batman has a secure facility miles away from Gotham that he uses as a race track. Which makes one wonder why he didn't think of locking the infected there.
  • Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory: The game is a midquel that is supposed to take place during the original Cyber Sleuth and has many instances of the protagonists interacting closely with many main characters of the main game. For the first half of the game it remains somewhat plausible since the protagonists operate in separate fields. However, after Arcadiamon is awakened there is absolutely no excuse for all the main characters of Cyber Sleuth to not mention this top tier monster threat at all, especially when it starts killing Digimon (which both Nokia and most of the Royal Knights would be actively working to prevent). Somewhat less obvious is the takeover of Eden by the Eater Network even later as this is not mentioned or applied late game to the original game.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: At the start of the game, King Cailan has gathered an army to fight against the horde of Darkspawn that are signaling the start of another Blight. Though Cailan sees it as threat to stop, its also made clear he isn't taking it seriously enough and is wanting to win to obtain glory for stopping it here and now in one big battle, despite being advised by others not to. This leads to his death when his reinforcements flat out leave the battle. The Return to Ostagar DLC would later reveal he was pretty sure he couldn't win the battle, but did so anyway, which makes the brave but naïve king look like an even bigger idiot for doing it anyway, when he could have done anything else to achieve results. So instead of pride and ambition causing his death, now its just him being an idiot and not bothering to plan anything else.
  • God of War, Zeus asking Kratos to find the Pandora Box in order to defeat Ares gets hit with this twice in the sequels. First, the Pandora Box was initially said to be the only weapon able to kill a god but then God Of War 2 has Zeus' sword being able to do it as well. Therefore, he could have just give it to Kratos and spares the champion a long and perilous quest. God of War III exacerbates the issue by revealing that Zeus created the box to contain the primordial evils and after Kratos opened it for the first time, they were released and started to infect the gods. Why Zeus asked Kratos to open the box just to kill one god who only threatened one city is never addressed and only makes him a bigger idiot.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect, Sovereign decided to ally with the geth and the rogue Spectre Saren, acting in the shadows, in order to manipulate the Keepers of the Citadel into giving the other Reapers access to the Milky Way. Except that Mass Effect 2 reveals that there was an entire species of Slave Mooks he could have used to do so rather than going to the trouble of allying with Saren. Worse, the "Arrival" DLC also shows that the entire plan of opening a pathway into the Citadel wasn't needed, as its ending cutscene shows the Reapers arriving at the edge of the galaxy on their own. Which means that The Reapers could just come to the Milky Way via entirely normal means (sure, it takes them around three additional years to do so, but they wasted several decades relying on Saren already) rather than the risky plan they used in the first game. To make matters even more nonsensical, Mass Effect 3 reveals that rather than just being built by the Reapers, the Citadel itself is actually the A.I. that led and created the Reapers in the first place, which really brings the question as to why all this convoluted mess to take control of the Citadel was needed when it was already on their side to begin with.
    • In the first two games, the Council refuse to accept that the Reapers are real, largely due to a combination of not having any hard evidence at first (in the first game), and the implications that would come from it being true. Though fairly dumb, there was at least some reasons to think the Reapers weren't a real threat given their status as closer to myths than being real. The third game then reveals that the Asari had a Prothean Beacon on their home planet that they kept secret from all but select high ranking Asari officials, which is why they became advanced quickly, and said Beacon contained an AI that was capable of communicating with the Asari and explain the Reaper threat. Not only does this make the Asari look incredibly dumb for not knowing the Reapers were a threat, but it also makes the Asari councilor, up until then portrayed as the Reasonable Authority Figure among them, look like a complete idiot for not revealing this as soon as it became clear that the Reapers were real. Both Shepard and Javik, the sole surviving Prothean, have a field day pointing out the sheer idiocy of this.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Mortal Kombat 11 reveals that Kronika has been the true villain all along, and that the various resets, reboots and retcons have all been her doing to undo the work of Raiden, who has continually been a thorn in her side, especially with the help of Liu Kang. Which means that only in this game did she get the idea to reset all of time back to the dawn of creation and remake the universe without Raiden in it. This is despite the fact that, in Mortal Kombat: Deception, both of them had been killed and she had the perfect opportunity at the time to reset everything without Kang or Raiden to stop her.
    • Mortal Kombat 9 establishes that while the Elder Gods don't care if Shao Kahn conquers other realms, they are very much against him trying to merge them without victory in Mortal Kombat, to the point that when Raiden realizes this and lets Shao Kahn win, the Elder Gods intervene and kill him on the spot. This fact renders the plot of Mortal Kombat 3 moot, as merging the two realms was Shao Kahn's entire goal, and the heroes could have Won by Doing Absolutely Nothing.
    • This retcon also makes the Elder Gods themselves look idiotic; it's implied that the Mortal Kombat tournament and its rules were directly set up to thwart Shao Kahn's goal of merging all realms into his own, as merging realms carries the risk of reawakening the One Being and ending all life everywhere... which makes no sense when it's revealed that the Elder Gods can simply kill Shao Kahn any time they want, and that the invading forces in a Mortal Kombat tournament have complete control over the proceedings. This results in ridiculous deck-stacking like having all the Earthrealm fighters eliminate each other while the Outworlders merely wait, flat-out ignoring the results of a previous match and letting a loser rechallenge someone else, and even forcing one participant to face two opponents. Even worse is the blatant cheating; the entire premise of Mortal Kombat II and the second act of MK9 is Shang Tsung and Shao Kahn demanding a "double-or-nothing" tournament after Liu Kang's victory. The lack of any oversight or enforcement on the very rules they imposed to prevent this very thing from happening makes the Elder Gods look incompetent or at the very least lazy.
    • MK11 retcons Sindel into being an Evil All Along Gold Digger who was murdered rather than having committed suicide. This has a major consequence as, earlier in the same game, Shao Kahn states that the only reason he let Kitana live as a child was to appease Sindel so she would become his queen and even created Kitana's clone Mileena to have a "true daughter." This makes no sense after The Reveal, because Sindel honestly couldn't care less about her daughter and was actively pleased to have a "superior lover" like Shao Kahn. He could have killed Kitana years ago and been done with it, and Sindel would have gladly given him more.
  • In Resident Evil, Rebecca Chambers is an inexperienced rookie who is clearly in over her head and can't function without Chris mentoring, reassuring, and protecting her, loses her nerve when cornered and cowers crying for help, and save for one moment of her making a mad dash to get medicine she is strictly a Support Party Member who sits out on any combat. Resident Evil 0 however, the prequel which stars her, depicts her as vastly more competent with her standing up to and cooperating with a convicted war criminal and serial killer, handling a myriad of heavy weapons, exploring an entire contaminated facility, killing a tyrant on her own, ultimately killing one of the Greater Scope Villains of the entire franchise, and finally deciding she didn't have enough and runs to the Spencer Mansion for more all in one night. Somewhere during her quick jog between these two games she lost an entire inventory of weapons and ammo, a stainless steel spine, about 100 IQ points, and all her confidence, because Resident Evil 0 Rebecca could have been the one mentoring Chris.
  • Starcraft II:
    • In Starcraft II Wings Of Liberty the Queen of Blades, Kerrigan, is still resenting Arcturus Mengsk and wants him dead. Why didn't she kill him at the end of StarCraft: Brood War, when she had him in her hands (or rather claws)? Because back in the day she said that she preferred to be the "queen bitch of the universe" and watch Arcturus turn into a miserable man while all his dominion crumbles and his power evaporates in the shadow of the swarm. Then why did she allow him to regrow all his power and the Terran Dominion to return a force to be reckoned with?
    • Starcraft II Legacy Of The Void'' shows that there are many hidden Protoss artifacts and facilities not only in space but on Aiur, which are introduced as powerful and important assets in the struggle against Amon, such as the massive mothership Spear of Adun. Then one could only wonder why none even hinted about using at least some of these weapons against the Zerg at the time of the first game, when the Overmind landed on Aiur threatening the survival of the Protoss species and infesting the world, even having to evacuate to Shakuras.

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