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Shrug of God

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Alan Schneider: Who or what is "Godot"?
Samuel Beckett: If I knew, I would have said so in the play.
— Interview before the first American production of Waiting for Godot

What is this trivia page about? No comment.

Joy of joys, the author(s) of your favorite series is/are answering the fans' questions! Now's your chance to finally get some closure on pressing continuity issues! So you walk up and ask, "Was Bob really a robot?".

Their answers? "I dunno". "No comment".

Congratulations. Instead of an answer, you just got the Shrug of God: author(s) intentionally not answering a question about their work.

Before you get angry at them for being evasive, remember that they may have a reason for their ambiguity.

  • They're saving it for the future. Maybe the creators plan to address the point in an upcoming installment/spin-off/revival/etc., or at least want to retain the option to do so. If so, they won't want to give the answer away yet. Alternatively, they may wish to stop other people from writing about it, such as when they try to enforce a Fanwork Ban by not handing people information which would be more useful to fanfic authors than to anyone else.
  • It's better left ambiguous. Maybe the plot point in question was supposed to be ambiguous or senseless. Creators may think that it's funnier that way, or that it's scarier that way, or that ambiguity feels realistic (because Real Life isn't perfectly neat with no mysteries). They may think that overanalysing things detracts from them, disliking meticulous Fan Wank and its older brother, overzealous, full-time, academic literary analysis. Some creators may enjoy leaving ambiguity intact because they just like watching their fans squirm.
  • They want you to find your own answers. Maybe the creators don't want to say anything because the answer is actually hidden within the work and they want the fans to be attentive and uncover it for themselves (or don't feel that they should have to just give up the secret willy-nilly considering all the hard work they did to cleverly interweave it into the narrative). Even if the answer isn't out there, creators may still want the fans to come up with their own answers. (Sheesh.) Some may firmly believe in the Death of the Author theory and not feel their interpretations are any more valid than anyone else's.
  • Shrugging is safer. Maybe the possible answers to the question are sufficiently controversial that coming down on either side will provoke a backlash. The plot point may have sparked enough debate in the fandom that any answer will cause a Broken Base, or the issue may be particularly heated due to having religious, political or otherwise controversial implications that the authors would really rather avoid (such as "Does God actually exist in this setting?"). Fending off attacks by Moral Guardians (or worse, shippers) may require a shrug when the question is (and it frequently is), "So what were Alice and Bob really doing while off-camera after that UST-filled scene?" A truthful answer to such a question would result in people screaming for the creator's head on a chopping block no matter what the truth is because there are two sides of the issuenote . Sometimes, it's the entire work that is tricky, with creators wishing that they never wrote it and are trying to just pretend it never happened.
  • They don't know. The creators shrug because they genuinely don't have an answer to the question. For example, they might honestly not remember what they were thinking when they wrote that particular bit, or they might be just making it up as they go, and have no more idea what's going on than any of the viewers. Sometimes, the question is about some detail completely tangential to the story which the author(s) never considered. Although it might be cool if the author would just make up answers on the spot to questions about supporting character #23's favorite pizza topping, you can hardly blame the author who doesn't.
  • Orders from above: Sometimes the writer is not the one who has the final word over the work and everything about it. He is still the one who will face those questions during interviews, he may even want to answer, but the executives above him may have forbidden him from answering certain questions; and an evasive answer is still better for the audience than a plain and rude refusal to answer at all. As for the reasons of the executives, it can be any of the previous ones. This may happen with works set in a Shared Universe, to prevent a writer from making a mess with topics that will be dealt with by other writers.

Not to be confused with Flip-Flop of God, where the author has a definite answer which has changed over time, or with Creator's Apathy, which is when a creator admits to not caring about or trying on their project.

Contrast with the Hand Wave, and "A Wizard Did It", which are given in response to questions about Plot Holes or the workings of a story's Phlebotinum. In contrast, the Shrug of God is given in response to more mundane questions: questions that should have a simple, straightforward answer. Don't mistake it for Ascended Fanon which, while it may come with a shrug from the creator, is quite different: Ascended Fanon is when the creator accepts, for any reason, the explanations offered by fandom to questions raised by that author's work. The shrug comes when the author refuses to take a stand about either those questions or any possible answer to them.

In other words, if the question is "How does this work?" and the answer is "Beats me," then it's a Hand Wave. If the question is "What happened?" and the answer is "Beats me", it's the Shrug of God. If the answer is "Magic" then changed later on to "Science", it's Flip-Flop of God.

When the author insists on quashing a theory, see Jossed, which is the opposite. When the author explains but in supplementary material see All There in the Manual. For those stories that are deliberately ambiguous, see No Ending and Riddle for the Ages.

In lieu of a definitive Word of God, someone connected to the production may chime in with the Word of Saint Paul, or anyone with sufficient credibility may offer up the Word of Dante.

The inverse of Ascended Fanon. Compare Noodle Incident. See also The Walrus Was Paul, Loose Canon.

See also Bellisario's Maxim and the MST3K Mantra. Often leads to Fan Fic Fuel if the fans are upset with this.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan's creator Isayama Hajime has a tendency to troll fans and often responds to requests for information with a shrug or vague answer that clarifies absolutely nothing.
    • Infamously, Hange's gender was first questioned by a fan that thought the character was female but looked "manly" sometimes. In response, Isayama stated he wouldn't answer. At the beginning of 2014, he finally declared... that it doesn't matter and fans are free to determine the character's gender as they want. He then invited fans to decide the gender of any character as they please.
    • Levi's age is defined vaguely as older than he looks.
    • He's rumored to have invited fans to consider any and all pairings' potential canonicity.
  • When asked if the ending of Code Geass was meant to be happy or sad, director and co-creator Goro Taniguchi's response was "Decide for yourself". Though rather than a shrug, this may simply be him acknowledging that everyone has a different opinion and not trying to force his beliefs upon the fanbase.
    • In regards to Lelouch's apparent death at the end, however, this trope was averted; in several post-series interviews, other staff members have indicated that he's really dead. Still, during the broadcast the official website had claimed that Nunnally died during the Tokyo disaster in order to keep her eventual return surprising and Sunrise itself has shown that they might well prefer to tease fans like us and let everyone duke it least until a sequel is made and the question is finally answered once and for all.
      • Even after the announcement of said sequel, it's still possible that Lelouch was originally meant to stay dead until they finally decided to retcon it.
      • The exact phrasing was something along the lines of " [His (Lelouch's) death] was the price he had to pay for a peaceful world." And, depending on your interpretation, that can still be taken to mean anything.
  • When asked if Spike of Cowboy Bebop actually died, Shinichiro Watanabe said he didn't know and jokingly said there could be a sequel. It's anyone's guess whether it's for the fourth, fifth, or both reasons.
    • By contrast, Watanabe has also answered questions asked by those who seemed to assume Spike must be dead with something to the effect of "Did you see him die? I didn't, he seemed like he was seriously lacking some sleep".
    • More recently however, in an interview he did shortly before the premiere of Space☆Dandy he instead said he survived.
  • In the interviews for Death Note How to Read 13, Ohba and Obata left the answers to several questions (mainly about the ending) for the reader to decide.
    "Death Note is about readers coming to their own conclusions. Sorry".
    • Also going for the numbers over heads which could tell how long that person had to live, but only shinigami understood. It was said there was a complicated math equation, but it was forgotten.
    • In an interview with Drew Nelson about his role as Matt in Death Note, Mr. Nelson was asked about his opinion on the relationship between Matt and Mello (i.e. whether he viewed them as a couple, or Heterosexual Life-Partners, or something else). Because the interview took place many years after he accepted the role, and because he had not known much about either one of the two characters, he simply stated that he did not know enough about them to comment on their relationship, and did not want to offend fans (shippers of this couple and otherwise).
  • Akira Toriyama is particularly bad at this, to the point where a recurring Dragon Ball character simply disappears and his only explanation was that he forgot about her.
    • He's also said that he's unsure whether Bulma's blue hair is natural or dye. And that he occasionally glosses over the very existence of Super Saiyan 2, usually only distinguishing between 1 and 3.
    • Occurs to a larger extent with various works which, whilst usually being consistent with the manga or anime, are rarely consistent with each other, such as the third Broly movie having circumstances that contradict the previous two simply to tell a cool story. Attempting to ask about this subject will elicit this response, and even the Daizenshuu guidebooks use "perhaps", "maybe" and other weasel words instead of putting a definitive ruling on things.
  • Fairy Tail: All over the place to cover up consistency errors. Just read the Q&A sections at the back of each volume.
  • Yoshitoshi Abe won't answer many questions about Haibane Renmei because he wants people to draw their own conclusions and make their own interpretations about the series.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers: When asked what gender New Zealand was, creator Himaruya had the character reply "Which do you think I am?". The series has made use of gender confusion for running jokes before, so it's very possible he's just setting another one up.
    • Also, Himaruya tends to avoid directly answering questions as to whether or not Germany is really the Holy Roman Empire.
  • The people from Seven Arcs will answer anything you ask about Lyrical Nanoha... unless if it's "Are Nanoha and Fate in love with each other?", then they go all coy and skirt around the question.
  • Macross franchise main man Shōji Kawamori explains nothing. He gets worse about it with each new series.
  • Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of Naruto:
  • Hideaki Anno is brilliant at this. He directed Neon Genesis Evangelion, and completely refuses to explain anything regarding the last two episodes. His film, The End of Evangelion, doesn't exactly help matters either.
    • The mantra "I don't know. Fan Wank something" (formerly pictured above) tends to pop up along with a picture of Anno, whenever the fandom discuss the more ambiguous parts of the series.
  • The makers of Noir keep very quiet about what the two gunshots at the end mean, so the fans are still in the dark about the important question whether the main characters live or not.
  • Eiichiro Oda, creator of One Piece, usually answers everything straight, except for a few things; as open as he is, even he has dodged the occasional question, such as what Shanks and Gold Roger's bounties are, and who would win in a fight between Zoro and Sanji.
    • He's also not very good about indicating how much time has passed (it gives the story a mythical quality). But it's been known to bug some people.
    • He's also known for making up answers on the spot, just so he can have an answer. When asked how Zoro can talk even when holding a sword in his mouth, Oda's response was "His heart allows him to speak".
  • In Pokémon: The Series it's never once explained how one becomes a Pokémon Master, with Ash considering himself to be a long way off even after becoming the Alola League Champion and stating that not even being the world's strongest Trainer is enough. In response to fan mail inquiring about it, The Pokémon Company's response was "It is the intent of the Pokémon creators that such questions be left to the imaginations and interpretations of Pokémon fans, adding more excitement and mystery to the Pokémon universe".
  • The translated guidebook interviews of Puella Magi Madoka Magica reveal that writer Gen Urobuchi didn't care about giving families to anyone other than Madoka, leaving Homura's family situation very ambiguous. It's completely unknown if she lives by herself or not.
    • He also left the design of the witches to Gekidan InuCurry, meaning that he's probably not the person to ask if you wanted to know what sort of Magical Girls they were.
    • Urobuchi has invoked Death of the Author when it comes to The Stinger, saying it's fine for fans to create their own interpretations.
      • In another interview, he has stated he has no idea where the wings came from, being added by the aforementioned InuCurry. He then said in that same interview that additions from the animation staff made it easier for him to write future stories, suggesting that an answer might've been coming. Which... it sort of did.
  • Rumiko Takahashi's famous reply to being asked what would happen if Ranma got pregnant in female form and then returned to male form: "I don't think about such things, and neither should you".
    • In fan circles, a "pregnant Ranma" is something that is better left unanswered. The Other Wiki once had an article on the phrase, but it's no longer up. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, a snapshot of that page is here.
    • Doesn't stop a multitude of fanfics about it, of course.note  And even more about her getting a period.
    • Given the usual method by which a woman becomes pregnant, the "dodging Moral Guardians and Shippers" reason comes into play as well.
  • It's easier to pull out the tongue of a live lion than it is to get a straight answer on Revolutionary Girl Utena symbolism from Kunihiko Ikuhara. "(Mickey's) stopwatch contains the key to open all the mysteries of the world. And Mickey is the only one who knows that. So I don't know what it is either".
    • "I wanted to turn a cute girl into a car".
  • Naoko Takeuchi, creator of Sailor Moon fame has said this of the inquiry as to who Sailor Cosmos really is: "It's complicated". A fan debate has risen from the comment that she is "the ultimate form of Sailor Moon" and her connection to Usagi.
  • The creator of the Slayers novels, Hajime Kanzaka, is infuriatingly bad at this, and unlike the other examples on this page, it's often unintentional when he flubs his facts in interviews. Just go read one; half of his responses end in "I think".
  • Smile Down the Runway: Kotoba Inoya deliberately keeps the resolution of the Ikuto-Chiyuki-Kokoro Love Triangle ambiguous by showing Ikuto wear a wedding ring while both girls smile at him at the epilogue. In the bonus Q&A after the final chapter, the author said that viewers are free to decide which girl "won" him in the end, and Ikuto's ring is meant to give the readers the satisfaction that their favorite couple have tied the knot and gotten their "happily ever after".
  • Inio Asano has said that he always gives noncommittal answers whenever people ask him whether or not the death of Taneda in solanin was suicide.
  • The mangaka of Soul Eater has been asked countless times by fans "What is Crona's gender?" His answer was basically "Don't know, don't care".
  • Tiger & Bunny
    • Kotetsu T. Kaburagi's age appears to be something that will always remain a mystery for fans. First it was 37. Then it was somewhere between 32 and 36. Then 39. Finally, Ozaki said his age is something that has been left up to the viewers to determine...
    • As it turns out, whether or not Kotetsu and Barnaby are Heterosexual Life-Partners or Totally Not Heterosexual Life Partners is also up to viewer interpretation. In other words, it's the Shrug Of Gay. The viewers are also asked to "use their imagination".
  • Tetsuya Chiba has stated on the record that he wanted the ending to Tomorrow's Joe to be ambigious, as he wanted the focus to be on Joe being 'burned out' and not on whether or not he was physiologically alive. His co-creator Asao Takamori was much more direct and stated that Joe died at the end.
  • Whether Takatsuki from Wandering Son is a transgender boy or simply a cisgender yet not exactly gender-conforming girl is up in the air. Shimura said it's up to the fans' interpretation. (Nitori remains a trans girl, however).
  • Yoshiyuki "(no longer) Kill 'Em All" Tomino is perhaps the granddaddy of shrugging Gods. On many oft questioned significant story elements, particularly dealing with the endings to his many series, he steadfastly refuses to give answers, as he truly does want the people watching the show to create their own idea of how the story ended. He wasn't likely thinking of Fan Fiction, but you still won't get straight answers from him as to Amuro and Char's fate in Char's Counterattack, or whether Loran Cehack and his eventual partner are in a married kind of love or if it's a caregiver/friend thing.
    • The Amuro and Char issue only really holds true for the anime; in Beltorchika's Children, Tomino's intended version of the story, they're clearly stated to be dead. The Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn novels implied that they Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, as evidenced by Banagher hearing their voices when the Unicorn's psycho frame overloads; and the anime adaptation of Unicorn shows the spirits of Amuro and Char, along with the spirit of Lalah, depart from the world in its final episode.

    Comic Books 
  • After he took over the Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) comic, Ian Flynn took this attitude with the Word of Gay the previous writer gave for Rotor Walrus, neither confirming nor denying it and eventually calling the whole thing "irrelevant"
  • When Bone was completed and a fan asked Jeff Smith what the Crown of Horns actually was, Smith basically said that he couldn't give a definitive answer and that the fan would have to figure it out for himself, implying the reason for his secrecy is either the 4th, 8th, or 19th reason.
  • Dave Sim refuses to state for certain what's happening in the very ending of Cerebus the Aardvark. Is Cerebus going to Hell like he seems to think or is he just letting his personal guilt get him worried over nothing? The answer is left for the reader to decide. Not only that but it's never explicitly stated whether anyone will find that manuscript that Cerebus wrote...
    • Yes it was. Cerebus: "Cerebus just has to remember where he hid it or nobody's going to be reading the New Booke of Cerebus". Dave: "Until two thousand years from now when this part of the Sanctuary is torn down to make room for a shopping mall". The consequences may be ambiguous, but it will be found, and it will be read.
  • The writers of the Disney Ducks Comic Universe seem adamant against revealing anything about the origins of all these kids running around with no parents (Donald's nephews, Daisy's nieces, Goldie's granddaughter..). Since acting like you're hiding something leads others to believe you have something to hide, fans are left to assume the worst.
    • For the most part, at least - Don Rosa introduced both Donald Duck's mother and sister and Scrooge's parents, and Scrooge has two sisters, a brother and a half-brother making regular appearances. His mother got around.
      • It should be noted that the said brother and half-brother don't exist in the same continuity as the two sisters. There are different interpretations in the absence of actual canonicity, even by the current writers.
  • Writer Kieron Gillen defined and listed the real names of almost all of Earth's immortal Eternals at the start of his run on Marvel's Eternals (2021) series, and apparently wrote an extensive bible for the series. In late 2022, when asked on social media which of those names matched Pixie and Vampiro (two minor, but long-running, Eternal characters known only by nicknames), he declined to answer, saying that he was leaving the franchise soon and didn't want his successors to be bound by his answers. Some other questions about dangling plot threads got a similar response.
  • In Giant-Sized X-Men, there's a little blurb on the side of one panel explaining that Scott Summers' eye beams are kept in check by ruby quartz glasses. How does ruby quartz keep them back? Well, they'll tell you when they think of something.
    • The ruby quartz thing was established back in the 60s. The doctor that examined Cyclops himself basically said "I don't know why ruby quartz works. It just does".
  • Leaving aside one storyline that everyone seems to be ignoring, The Joker has never had any backstory that was not told by the Joker himself. In The Killing Joke, a backstory is told which initially appears to be definitive, but the Joker later says, "Something like that happened to me. I'm not quite sure what it was. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another. If I'm going to have a past, I'd rather it be multiple choice". His pre-Crisis backstory of having previously been a gang leader called the Red Hood has mostly been maintained (Depending on the Writer), but the backstory of the man who became the Red Hood has never been independently revealed.
    • In his afterword in the deluxe edition, Brian Bolland says that he'll address the interpretation that Batman kills The Joker at the end. As he's addressing it his aforementioned 800 word count cuts him off mid paragraph.
  • Devin Grayson, writer of Nightwing #93 where the title character is implied to have been raped by a female cohort during a Heroic BSoD, evaded the question when asked to confirm what happened beyond it being "nonconsensual". This is an irritating example, because the script for the issue does directly say that he was being raped. (This may have something to do with the female cohort in question, Tarantula, being suspected by many of being her Author Avatar).
  • Don Rosa can neither confirm nor deny "what happened that night" in The Prisoner of White Agony Creek (Chapter 8B of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck), asserting it's "for each of us duck fans to imagine in our own minds. I have my own idea, but after all, this is a Disney comic!"
  • Tom Brevoort has been mum about the plot inconsistencies regarding Mockingbird's return from "the dead" in Secret Invasion. Invasion established that Mockingbird had never really died in the first place, despite the fact that there were at least one or two previous stories that showed her in the afterlife. Brevoort's stance was that so few people remembered those stories to begin with, that it really wasn't worth the effort to try and reconcile the Plot Holes.
    • Jim McCann's New Avengers: The Reunion and Hawkeye & Mockingbird partially answered this — the Skrull posing as Mockingbird honestly had no idea that she wasn't Mockingbird, and went as far as to die for the people she cared about, making it not too much of a stretch that the Skrull kept Mockingbird's appearance in the afterlife.
  • When it comes to Star Wars, John Jackson Miller, the writer of the Knights of the Old Republic comics, was practically this trope personified throughout the series' run, although it was almost always for the first reason. He refused to confirm various future untwists, one of which was confirmed in a reference book before it got anywhere close to being confirmed in the comic itself. And when asked about "the Rohlan/Demagol thing", namely the theory that "Rohlan" has been Demagol in disguise since issue 14, he said this:
    "The Rohlan/Demagol Thing is a fusion jazz act that worked many of the clubs on Mandalore until a dispute over a recording contract broke up the duo. However, their early recordings remain popular and one was recently used as the background music for a series of Holofeed apparel commercials".
  • The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers ends leaving it ambiguous if Prowl destroyed the data slug or not. Neither of the writers would say if Prowl did or didn't and admitted that they hadn't thought of an answer, choosing to leave it up to the reader to decide. Either choice completely changes both the ending and how Prowl is perceived as a character. Later, Mike Costa would reveal the answer in the Transformers ongoing: Prowl did not destroy the slug.
  • The Ultimate Marvel universe was destroyed in 2015, during the Secret Wars crossover. Reed Richards was shown restoring the multiverse in Marvel Legacy, and the Ultimate Marvel universe was confirmed to be back in the ending of Spider-Men II. Tom Brevoort was asked about their plans for it at the C2E2, and replied "We’ll be vague and mysterious… there are always plans".
  • As for the cause of the zombie plague in The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman has said:
    "I have ideas [about the cause of the zombie plague]...but it's nothing set in stone because I never plan on writing it. So yes...I do know...kind of".
  • Brian K. Vaughan, creator of Y: The Last Man , has said that one of the In-Universe theories as to the cause of the Gendercide is the correct one but refuses to say which one it is.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • What is Hobbes' true nature? A magical stuffed animal that comes to life when Calvin is around? A figment of Calvin's imagination? Bill Watterson isn't sure himself.
      • In the Tenth Anniversary Collection, Watterson would only state that Hobbes is a comment on the subjective nature of reality; Calvin sees him differently from everyone else.
      • This is reportedly the reason Watterson would not allow a stuffed toy Hobbes to be manufactured (that, and his loathing of merchandising). He felt it would answer the question as to whether or not Hobbes was just a stuffed toy.
      • Other interviewers have occasionally tried to trap Watterson with a gotcha question highlighting specific instances in the strip in which Hobbes does seem to be a) either completely real or b) either completely imaginary. For example one interview where the interviewer asks how Hobbes could tie Calvin to a chair and then be discovered in that state by his father, who is not ordinarily able to see evidence of Hobbes being "alive". Watterson simply answered ambiguously that he liked the intellectual tension created by "two versions of reality that do not mix".
    • In the Tenth Anniversary Collection, Watterson states that "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie (like the 'Noodle Incident' I've referred to in several strips) is left to the reader's imagination, where it's sure to be more outrageous".
    • Readers will search in vain for any explanation of the rules to Calvin Ball... but that's really no accident. Watterson established clearly that you make up the rules of Calvin Ball as you go.
  • Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis says that he has never come up with a definite answer for what the crocodiles' accent ("Hullo, zeeba neighba") is supposed to be.
    • He did give an answer to that question. The Crocodiles are speaking "Crocese".
      • Kind of undermined by the comic itself, where it is pretty much established that, of all the Crocs we meet, it is only Larry, Bob and a few others who speak like that. Larrys wife, son and parents all speak english without any visible accent.
    • Their accent was used as an unreveal on one occasion. Commentary in one of the books did have him say he thought it could be Russian. Odd, as you wouldn't find crocodiles there.

    Fan Works 
  • MJTR, whose author epilogues are usually pretty heavy on Word of God, left a few things ambiguous in Angel of the Bat. He said "no comment" to whether Stephanie Brown's dead body double was buried in her costume and that's why she had no Batcave memorial or if that was just a Motivational Lie. He admitted he didn't know what Cassie, whose English is poor told Steph about an elaborate plan to masquerade as the Virgin Mary. And stated that the elements that the elements that could be applied to God could just be wishful thinking and unlikely coincidences, if the reader chooses to interpret them as such.
    • In his postscript for a much smaller fic, See You Later, (which is told entirely through dialogue), he noted that it's up to the reader to decide if Stephanie's words to Tim were genuine hope or denial in the face of despair. It's also not evident or clarified which one said "I love you" first.
  • Each time someone asks Kurimaster about rather or not Yubel is fused with Jaden in “Dark Fusion” (apart of Arc-Ved Protagonists), his answer has typically been some variant of “Maybe".
  • One reader of A Brief History of Equestria asked the author whether they considered Sullamander to be a Complete Monster (actually using the term) and only received a "maybe". Of course, the author admitted that their own opinion might be affected by the insider knowledge that someone worse is coming, which makes Sullamander look better.
    • The author also mentioned that, since she was born the same year the other died, Clover might be the reincarnation of Wind Whistler, making her story with Hurricane a Reincarnation Romance, but left it up to the audience if the idea is canonical or not.
  • The Good Hunter: The author's reply to a question regarding whether Cyril has any connection with Kos is... vague.
    As for Kos? Well, he did kill her child... Who's to say that he didn't pay a price that night?
  • Though it is commonly agreed some of the story's moral themes lost a lot of moral resonance if it exists, Eliezer Yudkowsky has stated that whether the Afterlife is real in the world of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is entirely up to the readers.
  • Fanfiction author Incendiarist does this constantly. It probably overlaps with Death of the Author a bit, too.
    I don't know anything any more than you do. Those two characters I never named? I don't know who they are. Why do you think I never named them?
  • In the Lyrical Nanoha fanfic, MGLN Crisis, Fate's familiar, Arf sacrifices herself, but is brought back later while struggling to remember much of her life before. The author leaves it open as to whether she came back, or was recreated with her memories intact.
  • This is the official position on how Faster-Than-Light Travel works in The Next Frontier:
  • The author behind Renegade frequently shrugs when someone in a discussion thread asks for details, like how GDI powerplants work or the yields for prototype ion cannons being developed by other species. He alternates between non-sequiters, Mathematicians Answers, ambiguous images of a smirking David Xanatos, or just outright saying something along the lines of "Really, I don't know because that's irrelevant to the story anyway".
  • When asked if The 'Verse of Swing123 and his Calvin and Hobbes fanfics had a name, garfieldodie responded with "we don't really think of it like that".

    Films — Animated 
  • Frozen (2013): When asked by fans about Queen Elsa's sexual orientation, the film's writer and co-director Jennifer Lee said that it was best left unsaid.
  • When discussing writing comics based on The Incredibles, Mark Waid said that Syndrome may have survived the end of the movie but refused to give a definite answer.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, it's not clear what happened to Tai Lung at the end. Did he die? Was he seriously incapacitated and sent back to prison? Was he teleported to another part of the world? Well, if you listen to the commentary by the directors... they don't know either.
    • That is until the third film shows the Wuxi Finger Hold is indeed a killing move meant to send people to the Spirit Realm. We also get to see Tai Lung as an amulet on Kai's waist, effectively proving his fate.
    • Ditto for the apparent death of Boss Wolf in Kung Fu Panda 2.
  • Toy Story 4 directly addresses the question of just why the Living Toys in this universe are, well, alive, given how a project a girl makes in Arts and Crafts out of a spork and paste comes to life because it's now a toy. When the question is finally asked ("How am I alive?"), the answer given is, verbatim, "I don't know".
  • In the DVD Commentary of 'Turning Red'', it's mentioned that the question of why Ming's giant red panda form was so big came up during production and the production staff decided instead of answering the question they would have the movie just lampshade it instead and make it a Riddle for the Ages.
  • Up: Russell's mention of a Phyllis was written to be ambiguous whether she's just his dad's secretary (meaning he's busy at work) or his father's second wife.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • "If you understood 2001: A Space Odyssey completely, we failed. We wanted to raise more questions than we answered". — Arthur C. Clarke
  • James Cameron has always refused to say what the "arcturian poontang" mentioned by the Colonial Marines in Aliens are. Recent tie-in novels have confirmed that they're an alien race.
  • Back to the Future:
    • Bob Gale has admitted that he has absolutely no idea what "lithium mode" is in the second movie, and that he has no idea what illegal activities that Marty Sr. was getting into when Needles goaded him into scanning his card.
    • For the third movie, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale have declined to say what happened to Clara in the timeline where Buford murdered Doc. Either she lived out the rest of her life completely heartbroken, and the ravine stayed named Shonash Ravine; or she suicidally threw herself into the ravine out of grief, and the timeline course-corrected to the "Clayton Ravine" timeline. Either one is up to the viewer to decide based on their own theories of time travel and/or how they think Clara would react.
    • As far as Expanded Universe canonicity goes (which includes the movies' deleted scenes, the ride, the cartoon, the video game, and the comic book), Gale has gone on the record saying that they could be considered simultaneously canon and non-canon because of the possibility of multiple timelines, but it's up to the viewer to decide.
  • In-Universe in The Barretts of Wimpole Street. At their first meeting, Elizabeth Barrett asks fellow poet Robert Browning about a particularly obscure passage in one of his poems. Robert puzzles over it for a bit and then admits that he doesn't know what it means either.
  • The Coen Brothers refuse to answer any questions regarding Barton Fink, and never talk about the film on their own. Bringing it up to them, famously, will usually put them in fits of stifled laughter.
  • In response to questions of whether or not the Human Project really existed and if they were able to create a cure to the mass infertility after the ending of Children of Men, the staff merely responded that the answer depended wholly on where you lie on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
  • The Joker in The Dark Knight tells two entirely different stories as to how he got those scars (and started to tell a third), all of which are probably lies. Christopher Nolan not only didn't comment on them, he said Joker has no backstory at all. This is in keeping with the comics.
  • Anything by David Lynch. Lynch is so adamant about leaving his work open to interpretation that he won't even explain it to his actors. So, don't bother asking them, either. Although, Naomi Watts did give an insightful comment regarding Mulholland Dr.: something to the effect that when a person is dreaming, they create every person, event, and object in that dream. While Lynch may have very specific meanings in mind about certain things he puts into his films, he has also admitted that sometimes images just strike his fancy, and he puts them into his films without trying to assign any meaning to them.
    Lynch: Believe it or not, Eraserhead is my most spiritual film.
    Interviewer: Mm hmm? Elaborate on that.
    Lynch: No. I won't.
  • There have been several contradicting opinions by the actors and other people involved in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) as to a complete translation of Klaatu Barada Nikto, the phrase used to stop Gort's rampage. Klaatu, obviously, is the protagonist of the movie, and one can assume the other two words are something important in his language. Robert Wise, the film's director, related a story he had with Edmund North, the screenplay writer, saying North told him, "Well, it's just something I kind of cooked up. I thought it sounded good".
  • Produced David Heyman admits that none of the creative team on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them have any idea what happened to the real Percival Graves but have acknowledged that he did exist.
  • Tim Allen's character in Galaxy Quest does this for his in-universe TV show.
  • Groundhog Day: How long was Phil trapped in the "Groundhog Day" Loop? It depends on who you ask. Bill Murray guesses 10 years (widely thought to be the "correct" answer), while writer/director Harold Ramis guessed 10,000 years.
  • Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers - the one with all the weird occult stuff - gets even more incomprehensible with its final shot. After Dr. Loomis disappears back into the sanitarium and our heroes drive off, we hear Loomis' scream and see Michael's mask on the floor next to a syringe. Cut to a jack-o-lantern with the flame inside blowing out. Roll credits. Interviews with the writer have revealed that it was the last night of reshoots (after the original ending had tanked with test audiences), they were making things up as they went, and they ran out of time so they just threw a couple of props on the floor and filmed them hoping the audience would assume it signified something mysterious.
  • Invoked by Clint Eastwood. He had always intended that the mysterious stranger in High Plains Drifter was the murdered sheriff's brother, but he liked the fan theories about who or what he was so much that he went on to make Pale Rider and deliberately avoid any clues as to the preacher's true identity.
  • Christopher Nolan hasn't had much to say about various interpretations of Inception since its release, but costume designer Jeffrey Kurland and actor Dileep Rao (Yusuf) have both weighed in on their views of the ending. Nolan has since said that he personally sees the ending as being real but he doesn't want his interpretation to change anyone else's. In fact, he's admitted that he's highly amused that people keep constantly asking him questions about the ending even though he has no real desire to answer them.
  • The entire plot of the French film La Moustache is uncertain, according to the scriptwriter / director. Basically, the main question is whether the main character's reality keeps changing and he's the only one who remembers the way things used to be, or whether he's simply insane, with the second question being which scenes are "real" and which are hallucinations. The writer / director has admitted that he didn't even bother coming up with answers to any of that—he just had an idea and filmed it.
  • Let the Right One In ends with Eli and her new friend Oskar leaving town. What will become of the two afterwards is unknown. It is possible that Oskar will become Eli's new caretaker, but it could also be that she turns him into a vampire so that they can be together for eternity. As a viewer, you should judge for yourself whether Eli really loves Oskar, or whether she just uses him.
    • In the remake Let Me In there is almost the same situation at the end. Abby leaves town with Owen, but it is unknown whether he will replace her caretaker or whether she will turn him into a vampire out of true love. The viewer should choose for himself what he thinks is more likely or what he personally prefers. In an interview, director Matt Reeves even specifically stated that the ending is ambiguous, and viewers are free to interpret what relationship Owen and Abby will have. In contrast to the previous film, however, there are some scenes in this film with significantly more foreshadowing, which implies that Owen's future fate is to be a vampire.
    • The original author Lindqvist never particularly liked the interpretation that Eli/Abby is simply making Oskar/Owen the next caretaker. A few months after the remake was published, he wrote a side sequel short story in which Eli turns Oskar into a vampire. So it is canonical for book Oskar to become a vampire. But film Oskar and Owen are different continuities and different people, so the same doesn't have to apply to them.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson often responds with these when asked about the meaning of different things in Magnolia, claiming he doesn't remember what he was thinking at the time.
  • The Wachowskis have refused to discuss any of the more ambiguous moments of The Matrix trilogy (like what's going on with Neo and the Matrix at the Ωend of the third film) because they prefer for the fans to make their own interpretations.
  • In the ending of Memento, Was Teddy lying? or telling the truth?. Christopher Nolan has never said either way, and more confusingly, the DVD commentary for the movie actually has three endings, one that says one version is true, another that says another version is true, and a third that does not say either way.
  • Between The Muppets Take Manhattan and The Muppets (2011) The Henson Company/Muppet Studios refused to comment about whether Kermit and Piggy were actually married at the end of Manhattan. The characters commented about it all the time; they just disagreed. However, The Muppets (2011) strongly implies that the marriage did go through, but they later split up.
  • The contents of the suitcase from Pulp Fiction are an example. It was originally supposed to be the diamonds from Reservoir Dogs, but then Tarantino changed his mind and said it's basically supposed to be "whatever seems most valuable to the viewer and can fit in a suitcase". He's regretted putting the yellow glow in the briefcase, because it seems to be a clue to a question that never had an answer. Samuel L. Jackson and Tarantino both got sick of getting asked what was in the briefcase and would occasionally answer, "Batteries and light bulbs".
  • Star Trek:
  • Star Wars:
    • George Lucas officially knows nothing about any of Yoda's backstory or history. Even as other authors crafted elaborate backstories for basically every other character in the series (even ones with less than a minute of screentime) through the Expanded Universe, Yoda remained a mystery. Indeed, Yoda was the one character for whom Lucas explicitly forbade anyone else from creating a backstory or history. Early references in books like Heir to the Empire to things Yoda had done from before Lucasfilm Licensing was paying much attention to the tie-in fiction? Retconned to be another member of Yoda's species who appeared in a single story from an antholoyg comic. What's his species? They're officially known as "Yoda's species". Where did they come from? Nobody knows. How did Yoda end up as the Grandmaster of the Jedi Order? Nobody knows. Why is every known member of his species a Jedi? Nobody knows.
    • In order to avoid having to tie the Star Wars universe into the real world, no one connected to the franchise has ever given a definitive answer on the human race's planet of origin. We know that humans are the most numerous species in the Star Wars galaxy, and it's been established that they aren't indigenous to most of the planets on which they're the primary species, but where they originally came from is anyone's guess. Coruscant is the most common fan theory, due to it being the Capital of the Galaxy.
    • It's never been explained how "long ago" the franchise takes place, although it's typically thought to be a long time (millions of years or more). There were a few planned books in Star Wars Legends that shined some light on this subject, one of which said it was billions of years ago. However, they were all nixed by Lucas.
      • Incidentally, some elements of the original trilogy's world-building (most notably Coruscant) were inspired by Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, where the question of humanity's planet of origin is a mystery in-universe and eventually becomes a plot point.
    • Since the canon reboot following Disney's purchase in 2012, Mark Hamill refuses to confirm Luke Skywalker's sexualitynote , and encourages gay, bi, or trans fans to interpret him any way they like.
  • John Carpenter and Kurt Russell come to the conclusion that some of the issues in The Thing (1982) may be either best left unsolved, or are unsolvable (and that thinking about some of them too hard may drive a person insane, due to there being no knowable solution), during the commentary for the DVD. Carpenter once told a fan that she was supposed to use her imagination and decide an ending for herself. The fan griped, "Oh, I hate that".
  • James Cameron has said it's ambiguous as to whether the final scene in Titanic (1997) is meant to be Rose's dream or if she's actually died and gone to Heaven.
  • Total Recall (1990). Are the events in the movie all just part of Quaid's Ego Trip, or is it real? The director has stated that both interpretations of the film fit the facts, and refuses to say which is the truth.
  • In the commentary for Zardoz, John Boorman, who produced, directed and wrote this Mind Screw of a movie, admits he has no clue what's going on or what he was thinking (or most likely, ingesting) at different points because he was on a lot of drugs.

  • When John Scalzi was writing The Android's Dream, he realized he'd managed to go several pages without identifying the gender of the character Sam. Since he'd also happened to use a unisex name, he decided to keep it up through the whole book, and now maintains that even he doesn't know whether Sam is a man, a woman, or intersex, and consequently whether his/her relationship with Archie is gay or straight. He even advises people to read through the book three times, imagining Sam as all three, to decide which works best for them.
  • In The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, the murder of Owen Taylor is never explained. When the book was being filmed, the director asked Chandler who killed Taylor; Chandler said that he didn't know either, so it was left unexplained in the movie as well. Legend suggests that the lack of a solution was an error on Chandler's part, which he acknowledged in during the above conversation. He just forgot to tie that detail up.
  • Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!!! Cain frequently describes himself as a Dirty Coward who doesn't deserve the reputation he gets, having a massive case of Heroic Self-Deprecation brought on by a desire to survive above all else. Cain says he just frequently gets lucky and is constantly mistaken for being a military genius, which he just goes with because it's easier than admitting the truth. However, the in-universe editor of Cain's memoirs, Amberley, has said that Cain doesn't give himself enough credit and that Cain was acting in spite of his fear, which makes Cain genuinely heroic. He's also one of the few people in the military who actually treats his soldiers with some respect. Sandy Mitchell, the real-life author of the books, admits to not knowing himself whether Cain deserves more credit than he is prepared to give himself or if he really is as big a coward as he claims to be.
  • Acclaimed author Cormac McCarthy is notorious for this sort of response to his own work, insisting that nothing means anything and that it's all just story for the sake of story. He can be downright curmudgeonly if pressed on this point (once, famously, to Oprah Winfrey, who managed to coax him out of his cave for a rare interview).
  • Iain Banks was once asked at a joint interview with Christopher Brookmyre how one of The Culture names should be pronounced. Banks replied he didn't know, and Brookmyre said he'd always suspected as much.
  • David Weber's signature "Tum, te, tum, te, tum" non-answer anytime something he plans to address in the future comes up in the forums.
  • One early Discworld book contains a statement by Terry Pratchett that there is no map of the Disc, because "you can't map a sense of humor". Then he made one anyway.
    • However, the map was supposedly written by the very CMOT Dibbler itself. That alone should raise questions of accuracy.
    • And he's also said the Disc has alternate pasts. God only knows which one the map is showing.
    • In one of his forewords he said that the book contained no map but readers should feel free to draw one if they wanted to. A reader named Stephen Briggs took him at his word, which is how the various Discworld maps ended up being drawn. In the forewords to the maps Pratchett expresses surprise that places he made up for the sake of a joke and then forgot about fit together so neatly.
    • It should also be mentioned that Pratchett did say continents are found and lost on even the best-run worlds, so it's possible that the Disc itself changes enough to make maps of it a futile measure at best. The country of Chimeria is shown on the map, despite the Companion stating that it's a "brigadoon", and has wandered off somewhere.
    • On a related theme, Terry Pratchett is on record as having warned would-be researchers and PhD candidates in Literaturenote  that as he finishes every book, he wipes the computer files clean so that any first drafts, notes or interim drafts will never be available to base a thesis around. Whether all the files were wiped before his death, as he seemed to want, is yet to be seen. His daughter is set against any continuation of the series as "the books are sacred to Dad", but it's still possible we may see "fragments" of novels and "outline plots" being published "as is", in a similar manner to The Salmon of Doubt.
    • After Pratchett's death, the contents of his hard drive were lost when it was, per his wishes, steamrolled. Really.
  • In his insanely detailed Doctor Who timeline Ahistory, Lance Parkin ties down just about every story written by someone else, figuring out and explaining sometimes subtle and ambiguous continuity references. His own ambiguities go untouched, with the footnote to The Infinity Doctors acknowledging that placing it where he does doesn't actually work, and the entries referring to a villainous contemporary of the Doctor's father named Marnel, whose son visited him on Earth in the seventies, pointedly not speculating on who said son might be (although he does place the visit in the UNIT era, immediately following a mention of the Master, without further comment).
  • John Green has had to do a lot of this to fans who want to know what happened to the characters before/after the contents of The Fault in Our Stars; this becomes somewhat humorous in light of the fact that there’s also a significant in-universe example where Hazel and Augustus ask Van Houten what happened to the characters of An Imperial Affliction and he tells them he doesn’t know.
  • Jonathan Franzen has stated in interviews that he wants readers to come to their own conclusions regarding Freedom and has refused to answer any questions about his intent with regard to the title, his personal definition of the word, etc.
  • Libba Bray does this with the Gemma Doyle trilogy. According to her, "It will be YOUR job to assign futures to Gemma and her friends, to imagine what roads they travel, what adventures they might have next, whether they find love and success and contentment, and if they do, to imagine what forms that happiness takes". A more specific example is when asked if Gemma and Kartik had sex in the realms, she said that it's up to interpretation.
  • George R.R. Martin is very fond of doing this, either because he hasn't thought out the details of a particular question, or because it's related to future events in the series. The most common shrug is the one that comes after any question about Jon Snow's parentage in A Song of Ice and Fire.
    • When asked why he killed Jon Snow in A Dance With Dragons, his response was simply, "Oh, you think he's dead, do you?".
    • When asked if the endings of the books will be similar to the (very controversial and disliked) ending of the show, "Different? Well ... yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes".
  • When asked whether Lyra and Will from His Dark Materials had had sex near the end of the final book despite being only twelve or thirteen or however old they are, Philip Pullman said something like, "I wasn't going to look and neither should anyone else". Pullman also has no answer as to why a few people in Lyra's world have daemons that are their own sex, or when exactly the daemon appears - during birth or after.
    • The first point actually gets cleared up much, much later in The Secret Commonwealth, when Lyra rather awkwardly tells Farder Coram that she and Will never had sex.
    • He also used this when someone asked if a same-sexed daemon meant the person was gay. He said he'd never thought of that and it was as good an explanation as any. He also said it could mean second sight or something.
  • In Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, all the characters' names start with the letter B. When Carroll was asked why this was the case, he replied, "Why not?".
  • In the prologue of Margaret Craven's I Heard An Owl Call My Name, a doctor explains to a bishop that a newly ordained priest is terminally ill: a few active years left, then a few as an invalid. The priest dies during the novel, in an accident. Craven has said she doesn't know what he had.
  • Glen Cook, in an interview concerning his series The Instrumentalities of the Night, was asked how certain character and place names should be pronounced. For example, the main character is named Else Tage. Is the final "e" in either or both names silent? His response was essentially that the reader had his blessing to pronounce all names any way that seemed to the reader to make sense.
  • Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files and Codex Alera series, does book signings and fan events fairly frequently, and often reserves time for a Q&A section. However, when he is asked a question which he considers to be too spoilerific, he has developed a habit of saying "I'm not gonna tell you," in a singsong voice.
  • J. K. Rowling used to do this a great deal before all the Harry Potter books were released, but most of the questions she didn't answer would have spoiled the later books, so she had to be very careful with what she said about them, and in some cases, she worried about seemingly innocuous questions where even refusing to reveal the answer could spoil the surprise, e.g. if someone were to ask what Dumbledore's wand was made of or why Dumbledore had James Potter's Invisibility Cloak in his possession just before the latter's death. Fortunately, no one did.
    • She also refused to reveal the identities of the Official Couples for years for fear of fan backlash (because Pottershipping is Serious Business).
    • The Shrug has also been applied to the entire chapter "King's Cross", which, according to Jo, could be interpreted as reality or simply "Reality inside Harry's head" — but why on Earth should that mean it was not real?
    • She never did say what that spell was that Dumbledore was trying to cast on Voldemort during their duel that made Voldy's eyes narrow suspiciously. And now we may very well never find out.
    • She will also never reveal how far Dumbledore and Grindewald's relationship went - were they ever an actual couple? or what on Earth did Aberforth do with that goat. She is waiting for the Development Hell encyclopedia to reveal what exactly Voldemort did to get his rudimentary body before the beginning of Goblet (this because it horrified her editor when Jo told her).
  • This is the entire point of the story The Lady or the Tiger? by Frank Stockton, as well as its sequel, The Discourager of Hesitancy. Stockton was once at a party where, in an attempt to get a straight answer out of him, the host(s) served two kinds of ice cream: one in the shape of a lady, the other in the shape of a tiger. They asked which he would prefer. Stockton said, "I'll have a bit of both".
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Tom Bombadil. The only thing J. R. R. Tolkien ever clarified on the issue is that he's not Eru Illuvatar (the equivalent figure to God). To a reader that asked him who or what he really was, Tolkien wrote:
      Even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally).
    • It is also never revealed whether or not Shelob died of the wounds Sam inflicted on her, or if she was later killed in the eruption of Mount Doom.
  • Amoridere states that she doesn't know what Madgie did Madgie, what did you do? and said, "That's up to the reader to decide, as the possibilities are endless".
  • Brandon Sanderson has adopted the phrase "Read and Find Out" (RAFO) from Robert Jordan. The most obvious use is to avoid spoilers for future works, but he has said it's sometimes used when he doesn't know the answer, either because it hasn't been decided/figured out yet, or he can't remember and doesn't want to answer incorrectly. He's also said that just because he answers a question with RAFO, that does not mean the question will be answered, since many of his ardent fans really love theorizing about things. Of course many of these questions have been answered directly, either directly in a later published book or by Sanderson when he feels the answer is no longer spoiling anything significant.
    • When asked whether the Lord Ruler had used hemalurgy on himself, Brandon Sanderson said he was planning to write more about him in the future and handed out a RAFO card.
  • Neil Gaiman was asked on Twitter if Door's sister from Neverwhere was still alive or if Islington was lying? His answer: "Yes, & No. Or, No. & Yes".
  • Murky of the Origami Yoda series is bullied in-universe because some of the other kids think he's gay. Naturally, the author Tom Angleberger was asked if he really was gay. He said that he couldn't give an honest answer for that, because Murky was only in middle school, and probably wouldn't figure out his sexual orientation until high school.
  • Of the famously ambiguous scene in the Marabar caves in A Passage to India, E. M. Forster said, "In the cave it is either a man, or the supernatural, or an illusion. If I say, it becomes whatever the answer a different book. And even if I know! My writing mind is therefore a blur here, i.e, I will it to remain a blur".
  • In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne is usually an omniscient narrator, knowing the deeds, words, and innermost thoughts and feelings of many different characters. But at one point, his omniscience falters, and he says that one woman is rumored to be a witch, without confirming whether she is or isn't.
  • Daniel Handler, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Because he uses a pseudonym (Lemony Snicket), he can pass it off as an excuse not to say anything about his work in public appearances, since Lemony's the one with the answers and he's just an "humble representative". Since the series ended with a Kudzu Plot, many mysteries unsolved and loose ends, it's particularly jarring.
  • T. S. Eliot refrained from explaining what The Waste Land means, believing that the author's interpretation of his own poem is merely one among many, and that the poem's legitimate meaning is that which it has for the reader.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: You can contact FM on her website and ask her questions about her work and offer opinions, but don't be surprised if you get this response: "To answer your questions>>>>> I write what I do because I can. This is fiction. If you don't like my writing why did you continue to read the series? Oh, that's right, because they were entertaining. I rest my case. Characters are human just like the rest of us mortals. Again, this is fiction. I make it a point to never defend my writing because . . . I write fiction. Fiction is make believe, in other words, it's whatever the author wants to make it. Thank you for taking the time to write and offer your opinions and your insight. FM". Well, you have to respect a writer who gives this as a response!
  • In So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, prior to giving Arthur an on-page sex life, Douglas Adams says many people have asked the questions "Did Arthur ever get anywhere with Trillian?" and "What happened after he met that Golofrinchian woman in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe?". The answers turn out to be "Mind your own business"note  and "The book ended".
    • Adams claimed he didn't understand Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. He understood it at the time, but since forgot the intended meaning of certain key parts of the book. See reason #10 above.
  • Robert Frost was once confronted by a fan who laid out a deep, thorough, and insightful analysis of "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening", after which the fan asked "Is that what you meant to say in the poem?". Frost's response was "It is now".
  • An interviewer asked W. M. Thackeray if Becky kills Jos in Vanity Fair. Thackeray cheerfully admitted that he hadn't a clue.
    • Though one of Thackeray's own illustrations, not included in every edition of the novel, these days, shows Becky hiding behind a curtain, holding what appears to be a bottle of poison.
  • Victoria Holmes, one of the authors of Warrior Cats, does this a lot. When asked for spoilers, she usually responds, "Do you think I'll tell you that?". And when asked about the plot of Yellowfang's Secret, she replied, "Yellowfang will be in it. She will have a secret. Bad things will happen". Then there's her response when people ask about trivial things, usually the genders or pelt colors of cats who are only mentioned once in an offhand way. Often it's "I don't know, sorry".
  • Robert Jordan, author of the Wheel of Time series, was famous for this before his untimely death. Jordan had a term invented specifically for this use—whenever he was asked a question which he thought might be a spoiler, his response would be "RAFO" (Read And Find Out)). Most (in)famous was his long-running treatment of one of the biggest mysteries of the series (or, at least, biggest to the fans): Who killed Asmodean at the end of the fifth book? Every time Robert Jordan was asked, he refused to answer, assuring the readers that they should have figured it out already (although this is not clear at all). In the end, the true culprit was only explicitly revealed in the glossary of Towers of Midnight, the thirteenth book. However, the reveal is implied in dialogue in the book itself.
    • "The reason I won't tell people though is that I am enjoying watching them squirm entirely too much. It's probably bad for me."
      • Brandon Sanderson, who was tapped to finish the series, has now inherited the expression and uses it when asked about things in his own works.
    • This is also the official stance of everyone involved with the series towards the ending. While certain details, such as history and geography, may be expanded on later (an Encyclopedia has been promised), several dangling plot threads and mysteries have been confirmed to be left intentionally ambiguous. Chief among these are the nature of Nakomi, and what exactly happened with Rand's pipe. Similarly, Team Jordan has confirmed that they will never elaborate on the fates of any surviving character after the final page. What happens to them, and the world, in the years to follow is up to the reader.
  • When Gregory Maguire is asked about Glinda and Elphaba's relationship in Wicked he says that there is 'something going on' between them, but refuses to state what.
  • Stephen King wrote in the foreword of Wizard and Glass that he was asked by both a terminal cancer patient and a fan sitting on the death row how The Dark Tower series was going to end; Unfortunately, he replied that he truly didn't know by that point:
    I would have given both of these folks what they wanted - a summary of Roland's further adventures - if I could have done, but alas, I couldn't... To know, I have to write. I once had an outline, but I lost it along the way.
  • Redwall:
    • When Brian Jacques was asked about the identity of Sam Squirrel's Disappeared Dad Mr. Squirrel, he simply said "no particular story is attached to Mr. Squirrel".
  • Junie B. Jones always called her kindergarten teacher "Mrs". because she didn't know what her last name was. Barbara Park didn't either.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100 showrunner Jason Rothenberg says that, as of the Season 2 finale, Clarke's feelings for Bellamy are not romantic in nature. However, he says that what Bellamy feels for Clarke is an open question.
  • Mostly averted by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, who was among the first TV show producers to consistently interact with fans and answer any of their questions, with the exception of things that would spoil future plot points; on some occasions, he even flat-out lied to avoid spoilers. This was made possible due to his having planned out in advance not only the entire five year run of the series, but the thousand years before and after that period. However, there are still some plot points he refuses to explain, in case he gets a chance to use them in a spin-off. A case in point is Delenn's toast to the disgraced Lennier in the series finale among toasts to the dead; all we get on the commentary is "That's a very sad story, and maybe I'll tell it someday".
    • Then there's the coin flip that was used to determine if Londo or G'Kar would be the bad guy. No one will say who won.
    • One example that criss-crosses with Flip-Flop of God: For years, JMS would not give a definite answer to why Sinclair was replaced by Sherdian after Season 1. The few times he did address it, his answer was vague and contradictory. This went on for over a decade. Eventually, with the unfortunate death of Michael O'Hare, JMS finally gave the real reason. O'Hare suffered from schizophrenia, and it got worse while filming Season 1, forcing him to quit. When they met again for the Season 3 episode he guest starred in, JMS said that he would take the secret to his grave. O'Hare responded, "No, take it to my grave," feeling that the fans were owed an answer.
  • A Deleted Scene from Battlestar Galactica features Helo confessing to Adama that he was responsible for stopping the humans' chance to wipe out the Cylons with a virus. Adama's knowledge or lack thereof is a pretty significant part of the relationship between the two characters, yet Ronald D. Moore has never given an answer on whether the scene should be considered to have actually "happened". Another scene even seems to imply that the Cylon "god" is a rogue Lord of Kobol or Lucifer figure in some capacity, which would have massive implications for some of the more out-there moments in the series, but again, Moore just shrugs.
    • Then again, this has been Moore's general response to just about every extra-canonical theory thrown his way with the lone exception of the "Starbuck's dad is Daniel/Number Seven" theory. That's the only thing he's come out an acknowledged was an outright Ass Pull because the writers had fraked up the Cylon model numbering system and needed to explain their way out of the logic trap.
  • The stinger at the very end of the Doctor Who episode "Last of the Time Lords" has its official Shrug Of God. It's apparently a generic Sequel Hook, no strings attached. Director's commentary is "It was in, it was out, it was in, it was out".
    • Ironically, it turned out to be Russell T. Davies who picked up on The Stinger for "The End of Time" (The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter makes it clear there was no long-term plan involved).
    • Davies also gave a Shrug Of God when asked whether Davros had survived the ending of "Journeys' End". In that case it was Moffat who eventually, and predictably, answered "yes".
    • When asked whether the Eighth Doctor's revelation that he's half-human on his mother's side is still valid, Steven Moffat gave a response to the effect of, "Well, he certainly said that, didn't he?". And as Moffat's characters often say, "Rule one: The Doctor lies".
      • Moffat also openly endorses lying to the fans if it helps to keep the mystery of the story. A good percentage of questions levelled at him will be met with vague answers for a variety of reasons. Just the only reason you can't give for this is that he's making it up as he goes.
      • Moffat also seems to believe in the death of the author. Most question about things that weren’t shown on screen will be met with a variant of “That’s up to you”, or a joke. (“Joke” can mean “elaborate comedy script that can’t possibly be canon”, such as the idea the Cyber-Brig is hanging around UNIT HQ in a false moustache, annoying Kate).
  • Firefly: In "Serenity", when it looks like the Reavers might board the ship, and Inara has a syringe in her hand? All Joss Whedon will say is that it was not a suicide shot. Tim Minear revealed in a closed-door discussion that the contents of the syringe would kill anybody that tried to rape her.
    • According to Morena, Inara was in fact dying of some sort of illness. It seems none of the cast knew what it was or why (presumably the series was canceled before they could explore that any more).
  • How Finn died in Glee when The Character Died with Him. The closest we get is Kurt saying how he died doesn't matter next to how he lived.
  • The staff writers who maintain the Heroes blog "Behind the Eclipse" do this a lot. One shrug that inspired particular fan rage was when they were asked how Nathan Petrelli came back to life after being pronounced dead in the Season 3 premiere, and the answer was, "He just got lucky. People can survive shootings all the time. It happens".
  • Dan Schneider, the creator of shows such as iCarly follows this trope to a fault, with years worth of examples. Mostly because of Shipping. Ask him anything about shipping, it'll be a miracle if you get a straight answer.
  • Kamen Rider Agito was originally designed to be a direct sequel to the previous series Kamen Rider Kuuga. However, the staff realized there were a few potential issues with this — they didn't want to alienate new viewers with Continuity Lockout, and didn't want to upset existing fans by suggesting that Godai's battles were ultimately meaningless. In the end they took this approach, leaving it entirely up to the viewers' personal preferences whether the shows were explicitly connected or if the references to Kuuga were just Easter Eggs.
  • "The Venus Butterfly" was a sex trick mentioned in the 1986 L.A. Law episode of the same name. The show received many letters and phone calls from viewers asking what it was, as well as two requests to license the term. Members of the cast claim that to this day, viewers still ask them about it. The episode's writer, Terry Louise Fisher, stated that she had just made it up. Still, Memetic Mutation has led to several therapists (and even Playboy magazine) thinking up their own versions of it, the most accepted one offered by writer and sex educator Sue Johanson in 2005.
  • On Leverage creator John Rogers' blog, a fan asked if antagonist Sterling joining Interpol meant that he would have an in-universe TV show about his crimefighting with a British actor playing him ("I'm thinking Eccleston"). The response: "Consider it canonical".
    • Rogers also frequently answers questions relating to the characters personal lives with "whatever makes the story more interesting to you".
  • The producer of Life On Mars "encourages" multiple interpretations of the ending.
    • The sequel, Ashes to Ashes, lampshades this at one point; towards the end of the series, the intro voiceover changes from Alex Drake relating how she was shot and wondering what all of this means, to her stating "My name is Alex Drake. And quite frankly, your guess is as good as mine".
  • Cuse and Lindelof of Lost did this a lot in response to fan questions, but it came in distinct flavors. Sometimes they had no answer because the question was about something they didn't consider interesting or important. Some they have mentioned in podcasts include how Kelvin got to the island and what happened to Sun's dog. At other times, they'll read the fan question, but avoid answering it, then comment on how they dodged the question, which usually implied any answer would spoil an upcoming development. Well after the show ended, it also became clear that they sometimes dodged or gave noncommittal answers because their advance planning of the plot was not as detailed as they preferred fans to think it was.
  • Regarding the question of if the Odd Squad franchise would continue after "Odd Together Now" (the show's Grand Finale) airs, writer and Season 3 showrunner Mark De Angelis stated that "it's not the 'end' end of Odd Squad" and that it's always possible that it could continue with another movie or series. The only reason he leaves the answer ambiguous, however, is because he departed from the show two years prior to the statement being made, with the last works he was a part of being Odd Squad Book of Games and Odd Squad Gadget Testers.
  • Two pricing games on The Price Is Right (Check Game and Credit Card) have been "withdrawn". Although neither game has been played in years, the staff has not officially declared either game retired — but then again, they're also making no claims of either game coming back. So as far as they're concerned, both games may or may not be retired. That is, until Check Game returned in 2013.
  • Early in the run of Red Dwarf, it was said that Rimmer's parents belonged to a religion called the Seventh Day Advent Hoppists, but in a 2012 episode Rimmer claimed that his parents were members of the Church of Judas. When questioned on it by fans, series co-creator (and by this point, sole writer) Doug Naylor simply replied that he'd forgotten about the earlier reference to the Rimmer family's religion, and that he didn't consider such continuity matters to be a big deal. For his part, the series' script editor, Andrew Ellard suggested that the Rimmer family probably changed their religion constantly in an attempt to somehow get ahead in life (or just find more people to sleep with, in the case of Rimmer's mother).
  • Reunion was planned such that each episode would take place in one year in the lives of six friends, covering the span from their high school graduation to their 20-year reunion. Tying the series together was the mystery of the murder of one of the friends. Unfortunately (at least for the show's few fans), it was cancelled with only nine episodes having been aired. When the show's creators were pressed in interviews for details on how the show would have played out, they admitted that they hadn't decided who the murderer was.
  • P J Hammond has repeatedly said that he has no knowledge of the famously enigmatic world-building and characterisation of his series Sapphire and Steel that wasn't put on screen.
  • The producers of Smallville has been vague about a number of things, including whether Bizarro is really dead. As in, dead dead. They also confirmed that they had no idea what Doctor Fate meant when he said Chloe Sullivan walks the same path as he.
  • David Chase infamously refused to explain the ending of The Sopranos for years afterwards, saying, "Anyone who wants to watch it, it's all there". Then, during an interview in 2020, Chase referred to the final scene as "the death scene". When an interviewer called his attention to that word choice, Chase responded, "Fuck you guys". He was forced to clarify that Tony could have been killed, but not necessarily. It's up to personal audience interpretation.
  • Gene Roddenberry and the characters themselves in Star Trek: The Original Series rather famously and elaborately shrugged when asked about the specifics of Kirk and Spock's relationship. Fanwank has ensued for the last forty years.
    • Weeell ... Gene's Novelisation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture has Spock use a Vulcan word that could mean "lover" (and could also mean "close friend") to describe Kirk. But then follows it up with a lengthy footnote by Kirk that essentially says "Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?".
    • In the popular crossover between Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, fans got a massive shrug regarding the discontinuity in Klingon makeup when Mr. Worf, a late series ridge-headed Klingon sits at a bar with early series guys in gold lame and dark makeup (all the Original Series could afford to create an alien species). When asked by his fellow crewmates to explain how Klingons from different time frames could possibly look so different, even floating numerous explanations popular in fanon for decades, Worf merely replies "We do not discuss it with outsiders". The Deep Space Nine writers stated that they had no intention of canonising an answer because all the options sounded trite to them when everyone knew it was just down to budget and costume developments and felt a comedic acknowledgement that left fans to speculate freely would be more fun for the fandom. Years, later the Star Trek: Enterprise writers decided to canonise the plot ideas the Deep Space Nine staff had dismissed.
  • Was Chuck Shurley from Supernatural merely a prophet, or was he God in disguise trying to give the humans a helping hand? Most of the cast seem to believe the latter. However, the writers have refused to give a definite answer, and since the character is no longer on the show, and the original creator left, we'll probably never know.
    • Although, Word of God later confirmed that Chuck is indeed God, and it was further confirmed in-universe in episode 11x20, "Don't Call Me Shurley".
  • When asked by TIME Magazine how the Heisenberg Compensator note  worked, Star Trek technical adviser Michael Okuda famously replied, "It works very well, thank you."
  • As for the cause of the zombie plague in The Walking Dead (2010), Robert Kirkman has said:
    "I have ideas [about the cause of the zombie plague]...but it's nothing set in stone because I never plan on writing it. So yes...I do know...kind of".
  • In the universe of Warehouse 13, King Arthur did indeed exist and pull a sword from a stone (using an artifact, of course). Artie explicitly says, however, that Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table were legends. When asked about the Holy Grail, however, he refused to comment.
  • In regards to the true nature of Xena and Gabrielle's relationship on Xena: Warrior Princess Lucy Lawless herself has said publically that she is "undecided".

  • Blue Öyster Cult, per their website FAQ, have a generic answer to "What does — lyric mean?": "BOC's lyrics are open to many interpretations, and this is one of the things that has captured the imaginations of fans over the years...The only person that really knows what a lyric means is the lyric writer. So, there is no answer to this question. It means what you make of it".
  • Bobbie Gentry has stated she doesn't know why Billie Joe McCallister jumped off the Tallahatchie bridge, the central mystery of her hit single "Ode to Billie Joe". Similarly, she doesn't offer an explanation of what it was that Billie Joe and the narrator (who's singing the song) threw off the bridge into the river, which is implied to have something to do with the suicide. Gentry explained that her focus was on the family's rather callous reaction to the news of Billie Joe's death, not why he jumped off, so she didn't bother to devise a deep meaning (though a film adaptation of the song did provide some answers: Billie Joe and the narrator threw an old doll of hers off the bridge, and he killed himself because he had a sexual encounter with a man and couldn't handle it).
  • Paul Simon's song "Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard" contains the line "What your momma saw/it was against the law". Simon has claimed he has no idea what it was the momma saw, other than it was probably something sexual.
  • The straightest answer to the question "What does "American Pie" mean?" that anyone has gotten out of Don McLean is "It means I never have to work again". More seriously, he claims "songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence". and "They’re beyond analysis. They’re poetry".
  • Bob Dylan, upon being asked what his songs are about, replied "Some are about three minutes, some are about five minutes".
  • DragonForce tends to take this approach to questions about their songs' meanings. Depending on which member you ask, the answer will lie somewhere between "It's more fun if you interpret them for yourself" and "They don't mean anything".
  • Tom Lehrer has said that the line in "My Home Town" that he "censors" ("That fellow was no fool/Who taught our Sunday school/And neither was our kindly Parson Brown/...['I guess I'd better leave this line out just to be on the safe side' or 'We're recording tonight so I'll have to leave this line out']/In my home town") did not actually exist; he simply could not think of a line that was funnier than saying that he wasn't allowed to say it. Presumably either Parson Brown or the Sunday school teacher (or both) did something...
  • What does WASP's name stand for? In one interview, Blackie Lawless responded "We Ain't Sure, Pal." One of their early singles was released with the words "We Are Sick People" scratched into the innermost part of the vinyl. Which is true? We are still pondering...
  • Ric Ocasek of The Cars once said in an interview about his notoriously cryptic lyrics: "I'm not going to destroy your dream...the lyrics mean whatever you want them to mean. And I'll agree with you".
  • The Arcade Fire song "Neighborhood #2 (Power Out)", already kind of trippy, ends with the lines "Is it a dream, is it a lie? I think I'll let you decide".
  • "Girl" by Beck has a hard to decipher word in between "My" and "Girl" during the chorus. Is it Summer? Sun-eyed? Cyanide? In the lyric book it says "My ... girl".
  • A Japanology lecturer on the university of Vienna was asked to translate some J-Pop song lyrics into German for CD-releases in Germany and Austria. Upon asking the Pop-groups in question for an explanation of the intended meaning of the used Te-Form Verbs in the songs (Te-Form Verbs can take on several meanings based on context), he got several Shrugs of God in a row, usually accompanied by something to the effect of "If you say so, that's probably what it means".
    • Along the same vein, Gackt refuses to explain what Papa Lapped a Pap Lopped means. His only answer so far has been that English-speakers should understand what it means.
  • The meaning of the Eagles' "Hotel California" has remained ambiguous even after multiple band interviews on the subject. At best, the song is usually just said to be about "the 70s".
    • Something bout the rock star lifestyle, something about cocaine addiction, something about Satanism. Or live-action roleplaying. Or fad diets.
    • According to Snopes, it's definitely not about Devil worship. It's about hedonism and greed in California during the 1970s caused by fame. Hotel California is not an actual place, but a metaphor for how the music industry causes fame to be abused.
  • "People are always asking me what my lyrics mean. Well I say what any decent poet would say if you dared ask him to analyse his work: if you see it, darling, then it's there".- Freddie Mercury
  • Sound Horizon is built upon creating elaborate Rock Operas with complicated Jigsaw Puzzle Plots with ridiculous quantities of multi-lingual wordplay and then watching all the fans try to figure out what in the holy hell it means while refusing to explain any of it. The official statement is that Revo doesn't want to force one interpretation on the audience when Wild Mass Guessing is half the fun of being in the fandom. The fandom's stance is that their brainpain amuses him.
  • Despite being the song's writer, Noel Gallagher of Oasis has no idea what "Champagne Supernova" is about. His words:
    "I don’t fucking know. But are you telling me, when you’ve got 60,000 people singing it, they don’t know what it means? It means something different to every one of them".
  • In his commentary for the Lemon Demon song "Subtle Oddities" Neil Cicierega says, "I think this song is about a haunted house. Someone once said that it was about God. Sure, why not? That makes about as much sense".
  • Ken Ashcorp Invokes this in the description to "Burgz", where he implies that this song about literally burgers might be a metaphor for relationships, right before closing his statement with "Who knows?".
  • The song "Lurker" by Genesis ends with a riddle. When asked what the answer was in an interview, Tony Banks, who wrote the song, had this to say "I'm afraid to say really that there is no real solution. You can search for your own one if you like. It was a bit of a joke. When I was writing it I honestly didn't really have a specific idea in mind. If you can find out what the answer is, perhaps you can tell me!"
  • Devourment released a compilation album titled 1.3.8. back in 2000, and fans have been trying to figure out just what the hell the significance of that number is ever since. Mike Majewski's usual response to the question has generally been something along the lines of "I don't even remember" or "it doesn't mean anything", but more sarcastic answers have been given, namely "one dollar, three tacos, eight hours on the shitter". The most common fan hypothesis is that it's North Texas police code for grave robbery or vandalism, but this has neither been confirmed nor denied by anyone in the band.note 
  • Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree does this a lot - he won't even be drawn on the origin of the name "Porcupine Tree!" He also refuses to decipher the backing vocal in The Incident, or clarify the story he wrote for the Deadwing album.
  • Global Communication did this upfront with their album 76:14. The album is named after its run time, as are all of the individual tracks. The liner notes state:
    Use your imagination: Numbers are chosen to identify separate tracks because 'names' tend to bias the listener by pre-defining images, places and feelings. This gives the listener the freedom of imagination to derive whatever he/she wishes from the music.
  • Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra says that he doesn't actually know whether the time travel plot of their concept album Time really happened or was just a dream.
  • They Might Be Giants are known for their decidedly eccentric and often obscure lyric subject matter. Case in point is "She's Actual Size", a song in which the narrator seems to be expressing fear, love, and admiration for a woman. However, when questioned, songwriter John Flansburgh once said that the song was about... stew. When announcing the song in concert, he gave a description which somehow managed to be both more prosaic AND more obscure by stating "This song is about scale, and sexuality, and, uh...relationships".
  • Asked what he intended by the Childish Gambino song "This Is America," where nearly every frame has a new seemingly symbolic commentary on racism, violence, pop culture, and other aspects of society, Donald Glover said: "I just wanted to make a good song. Like something that people could play on Fourth of Julys".
  • Seal's "Kiss From A Rose" has inspired a lot of speculation regarding what the lyrics are actually supposed to be about. Theories range from it being a love song to being about drug addiction or religion. The Genius page for the song has an annotation from Seal himself which doesn't shed any light on what he meant.
    "I have avoided explaining these lyrics for over 25 years. I am not going to start doing it now".
  • A notable amount of people have questioned why one of Elton John's eyebrows seems to move so oddly whenever he sings. (He and David Furnish even brought it up in the commentary for "Tantrums and Tiaras"). Even he doesn't know why this happens, but he does know that it drives him crazy.
  • Lampshaded in the song "The Marvelous Toy": "It went'zip' when it moved and 'bop' when it stopped and 'whirr' when it stood still. I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will".
  • Many people take The Beatles' "Let It Be" to be a religious tune. Paul McCartney, who wrote it, never intended it to be religious in content (it's about his own mother), but he's okay with it if people want to take it as religious.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Classic Canadian kids' show Mr. Dressup never revealed the gender of its child puppet character Casey. When fans would ask host Ernie Coombs about whether Casey was a boy or a girl, he would ask, "What do you think?". When the questioner responded with their guess, he would say, "You're right!"


    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dresden Files RPG is chock full of these, mostly because the game books are canonical and exist as in-universe documents. For example, it's mentioned that miss Gard probably has some kind of catch that needs to be fulfilled in order to use healing magic, but both Billy and Harry are left scratching their heads as to what that catch might be.
  • Many fans of the Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting Eberron frequently ask questions such as "What happened to destroy Cyre and create the Mournland?" no matter how many times such things are said to explicitly be points of Canon Uncertainty And Doubt. The answer is deliberately left out, so DMs can provide their own and easily work those events into their own plotline.
    • Additionally, a similar question involving the Planescape campaign setting is one regarding the true nature of Sigil's ruler/guardian, the Lady of Pain. A straight answer has never been given, other than a novel hinting that she has ties to the Greek pantheon of gods. The most direct answer simply states that she was inspired by the title character of Algernon Swinburne's poem "Dolores".
      • Incidentally, unlike the Eberron scenario, which it's stated explicitly that it is the DMs call to provide an explanation for the various mysteries, Planescape encouraged DMs to leave such questions regarding the Lady of Pain and various other multiversal engimas deliberately unanswered, to maintain the setting's particular ethos.
    • Similarly, the nature and identity of Ravenloft's Dark Powers are usually kept mysterious.
      • While some fans reject the 3rd edition Ravenloft products, they did provide a satisfactory answer: the Dark Powers have no canonical true nature, and DMs should do whatever they want with no worries.
    • Early products and novels for Forgotten Realms deliberately refrained from offering more than cursory information on the nation of Sembia, specifically stating that this was so individual DMs could do whatever the heck they wanted with the place.
  • Perhaps as a reaction to the increasingly unwieldy Metaplot of its predecessor, the New World of Darkness loves this, repeatedly emphasizing the Storyteller's opinion as the ultimate arbiter of what is canonical and not.
    • One noted example in the New Orleans: City of the Damned supplement is that Donovan, the Prince's Sheriff, is concealing his identity and that it would be disastrous if his true identity were made known. About the only information the book gives about his past is that he was Embraced in 1865.
  • Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games (the creators of GURPS) has been known to answer obscure questions about his games with "Fnord". (A reference to the Illuminatus! trilogy, which has often gotten Shout Outs in SJG products).
    • Given the sensitive nature of the subject matter (religion) in the In Nomine roleplaying game from Steve Jackson Games, many topics are what the Line Editor officially refers to as matters of "Canon Doubt and Uncertainty". Each individual DM is supposed to come up with their own answers to such questions as 'Was Jesus Christ really the Son of God?', and the official game material has never and will never address the issue directly.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • So, what's up with the two missing Primarchs? Word of God is, of course, "No comment".
    • Also, who the hell is Cypher and what is he up to?
    • This is essentially Games Workshop's company policy about canonicity.

  • John Patrick Shanley won't reveal whether, in his play Doubt, the priest molested the children or not. The point of the play is the investigation. He has, however, noted that he has decided on an answer and told the actors playing Father Flynn, although nobody else.
  • Henrik Ibsen's play Ghosts ends with one main character deciding whether or not to kill her son. Ibsen refused to state what she chose, saying it was too important of a question.
  • A lot of people have asked Stephen Sondheim what the giant's wife from the second act of Into the Woods represents in real life (global warming, AIDS, etc).. Sondheim's response: "To James [Lapine] and me, it is a giant. Enough said".
  • Samuel Beckett, when asked what, exactly, Waiting for Godot even meant responded "What do you think?". And then, on being given the interviewer's analysis, "Hmmm, interesting". And that is all. Beckett did, however, deny a persistent piece of Fanon that persists in studies of the play. "If I meant Godot to be God, I would have simply called him God". Though, to complicate matters, at another point he did claim that his subconscious does things without him at times. All in all, "If I knew who Godot was, I would have said so in the play".
    • To be fair all of Beckett's plays are all examples of this Trope he famously refused to explain anything of any of his plays to the point, he befriended those that never questioned him.
  • W. S. Gilbert, when asked about whether or not Jack Point is dead (the libretto says that he "falls insensible") at the end of The Yeomen of the Guard, said: "The fate of Jack Point is in the hands of the audience, who may please themselves whether he lives or dies". (However, he was also reported as having said "Jack Point should die" when asked if it was all right to treat Point as dead).

    • Greg Farshtey, writer of most of the media, occasionally does this in a very Deadpan Snarker-ish fashion.
      Fan: This is a bit of a nitpick, but in Federation of Fear, Tren Krom is described as having yellow eyes. But in The Mutran Chronicles, and on his BS 01 entry, he is said to have little more than holes laid into his skull for eyes. Which one is the accurate description?
      Greg: You're right. It is a nitpick.
    • He also refuses to discuss how new Matoran are made, basically telling fans to think it up themselves. He does this to keep a feeling of mystique to the setting and avoid the Squick that would probably come with an explanation about it. Though it may also have something with the No Hugging, No Kissing rule Bionicle seems to operate on. The closest thing to a direct answer we have is from the Bionicle Encyclopedia, which features a one-line reference to the idea that new Matoran cannot come into existence outside of Metru Nui.
  • During Q&As on the Palisades message board, Ken Lilly's standard response to questions about potential upcoming figures and accessories was "anything is possible". After the company folded, he admitted that the answer was usually "no" due to reasons of cost or complexity, but saying so straight-out would have been discouraging to future questions.

    Video Games 
  • BattleTech (2018): The dev team left a lot of questions unanswered, certainty lost in the fog of war.
    • Was the player character ever loyal to house Arano, or were they just clinging to their Meal Ticket?
    • Were the Espinosas Well Intentioned Extremists Jumping Off the Slippery Slope into ruthless dictatorship or were the atrocities part of the plan from the start?
    • Was Tamati Arano The Good King, who lowered military spending to avoid provoking his neighbors, and spent the money wisely on social programs? Or was he a weak and irresponsible ruler who spent money that should have been spent on defense on Bread and Circuses to appease the mob?
    • Was Newgrange running guns, as Lord Karosas claimed, or was it a refugee transport? The fact that the captain was a Taurian officer suggests the former, but nothing is ever stated outright.
  • An interview with one of the primary writers of Beyond Good & Evil gave fans an opportunity to ask their many tickling questions about the game. One, with regard to character names, was "What does 'Double H' stand for?". Answer? They don't know. It probably comes from his initials... maybe.
  • Bungie Studios, the creators of Halo and Marathon, deliberately dodge many questions by the fandom, because they prefer to let the fans answer the questions and come up with the theories themselves.
  • What happened 10 years ago, during the War? Why did the scientists come to the island? And what the hell is Balrog? These are just a few of the questions that all Cave Story fans wish to have answers to. Yet all Pixel-san says is "I leave it to the player's imagination".
  • In regards to whether or not Adell's ears are pointed like other demons, the creators of Disgaea responded only that "there's nothing special about them". Nobody's quite sure if they meant that they're normal human ears or normal demon ears.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: What's under Malady's mask? What do her demonic features look like?note  "If we know, we're not telling".
  • The character Cranky Kong in the Donkey Kong Country series. While no one questions that he's supposed to be the original Donkey Kong, Rare has flip-flopped on the issue on whether he's Donkey Kong's father or grandfather (meaning either modern DK is Donkey Kong Junior or his son). While more sources say grandfather, they did try to remain consistent during the production of Donkey Kong 64, leading the writers to state on their website to ignore instances of their previous mistake. Since this was the last Donkey Kong game they developed, this attempt at Word of God has gone unnoticed. (There's also the argument that Rare themselves was never meant to be taken seriously, as they have a history of making jokes about these sorts of questions).
    • Even more confusingly, Retro Studios has implied at least once that their Cranky Kong might be Rare's Donkey Kong.
  • ATMOS, developers of Escape Velocity: Nova, would often respond to questions regarding some of the more mysterious elements of the game universe with a simple "*Cryptic grin*".
  • The EverQuest II developers are infamous for doing this. So much so, that not giving a straight answer one way or another has frustrated many a customer into cancelling their accounts because of the sheer unpredictability of where the game was heading in terms of both story and gameplay mechanics.
  • Fallout 3's Liberty Prime bears many resemblances in name, appearance, and mannerisms to Optimus Prime, if the latter were infused with high-concentration Eagle Land. The developers said no reference was intended, but left the door open that such a reference could have been made subconsciously.
  • The Final Fantasy XI dev team is frustratingly notorious for this. Every interview they have will always have at least one question with an ambiguous answer that's as vague as possible. Always. It's not so bad to want your MMO to have some mysteries, but trying to have your game as Guide Dang It! as possible with things that hundreds of thousands of players haven't figured out for 4+ years is something else entirely.
    • The "you wish it was only Nintendo Hard" boss Absolute Virtue is featured in a developer-made video showing unimaginably vague "hints" for beating it. Every single frame of the video has been scrutinized and subjected to dizzying heights of Wild Mass Guessing. To this day, nobody knows what the developers were trying to convey.
      • It has been figured out that the developers were trying to show that matching AV's two hours with your own locks them. He remains unbeatable because the video didn't show/was unclear on how to stop him from spamming meteor and killing everyone once his health drops below a certain point.
    • When asked what the pop condition was for Almighty Apkallu (a monster who has only ever been seen a handful of times) they initially shrugged saying that they didn't remember that monster. Later they responded with the vague hints of "First of all, luck plays a big role in whether he appears or not" and "He doesn't like being left alone, and will wander off if no one is around to keep him company".
  • This was the longest-standing answer towards Poison's Ambiguous Gender in Final Fight; she and her palette-swap Roxy started out as cis women, but the developers were concerned whether players would be comfortable hitting women, so they were made into trans women, being referred to as newhalf (a derogatory Japanese term). Roxy eventually reverted to being cis, but later Japanese appearances were consistent on Poison being a newhalf for a while; the American team, meanwhile, was unclear on whether she was a cis woman, a trans woman, or a crossdressing man. Capcom eventually consolidated things on both sides of the Pacific by stating that Poison is trans, with the only regional difference being whether she's pre-op or post-op.
  • In a recent interview hosted by Dawko about Five Nights at Freddy's, Scott did this a lot. In the interview, he stated that he feels that the fans should find out how the story plays out themselves. Regardless, he acknowledged the constant effort and near match that Mat-Pat (Game Theory) made and revealed some plot points and interesting facts.
  • The FreeSpace series was never completed, and Volition have said perhaps two things about the story and where it was going to go, which actually raised more questions than they answered. Cue the Epileptic Trees.
    • In a much-anticipated 2011 interview with the fanbase (more than 10 years after the last game was released), lead writer Jason Scott did reveal a few details about what was planned for the future games. However, he did so in such a vague manner that he simply fueled further speculation.
  • At the end of Grand Theft Auto III, Silent Protagonist Claude has just rescued his annoying and motormouthed girlfriend Maria. The screen fades to the credits-on-black but Maria keeps on talking, and a single gunshot is heard, and she quits talking. Rockstar's official response to fan questions about what actually happened is "certainly gun shots were fired but nobody is sure as to exactly what happened". During a Q&A they went into more detail - by saying that some of the developers thought Claude killed her and some thought he didn't. They also managed to shrug about Claude's backstory ("he's a drifter"), and his current status ("he's not dead but we don't know what became of him").
  • Half-Life's writer, Marc Laidlaw, remains very careful not to make any crucial statements about some of the fuzzier parts of the series' continuity. He does not only hold this attitude towards the Gearbox expansions, but also towards Valve's games as well.
  • The Halloween Hack:
    • There were several hints in the game that Varik was supposed to be (a future?) Ness. The game calls you "Giygas slayer" at times, and people mistake you for Ness a lot. Toby Fox said that it just started with him "wanting to look lazy" by not editing Ness's death sprite, but then decided to keep going, since Ness and Varik are both blank, mute heroes. He said it's up to you to decide if they really are the same person.
    • There was also hints that Varik's intrusion upon Dr. Andonuts' Magicant was corrupting it, since there were places and people only Varik/Ness would remember. Toby also said this just sort of happened.
  • Whether the Ice Climber duo is a pair of Half-Identical Twins, lovers, or unrelated friends is up to the player. This leads in an odd situation thanks to Super Smash Bros. returning the characters to prominence, with half the fanbase seeing them as unrelated and shipping them while the other part is utterly squicked by pairing siblings together.
  • Every single time Testuya Nomura is asked about when Kingdom Hearts III will be announced, it usually results in this. Like in this interview concerning Birth By Sleep:
    Interviewer: Do you think people will want to replay the first title after clearing this one?
    Nomura: Hmmm, I think there are a lot of puzzling elements, so maybe they'll want to play the next game... and there'll be a secret movie too.
    Interviewer: The next game!? Do you mean "III"!?
    Nomura: The next game will be the next game (laughs)
    • And on the subject of Kingdom Hearts, according to the Ultimania, Roxas "may or may not" have had Ventus's heart.
  • Kirby:
    • When asked how Kirby got his name, Masahiro Sakurai says he doesn't remember. Shigeru Miyamoto says it was inspired by the lawyer who defended Donkey Kong from Universal's copyright infringement lawsuit, but also that Kirby was just a funny name for the little guy.
    • Are Ado and Adeleine the same person? Even the Japanese-only official 20th-anniversary book says that it's unknown, but if they are, Ado could just be Adeleine's nickname. It did clear up the similarly long-standing issue of Ado's Ambiguous Gender — she's a girl, just like in spin-off material.
    • The same 20th anniversary book mentions that, despite being heavily implied, it's unknown whether 02 is related to Dark Matter or a reincarnation of Zero, and that it's possible Dark Nebula might be related to Dark Matter, but nobody knows for sure.
  • Klonoa: In 2009, in response to fans' asking about the species of the titular character (who resembles a number of various real animals all at once), artist Yoshihiko Arai stated that it was ultimately up to each player to decide for themselves.
    "In the end, Klonoa is supposed to be the player. If the player thinks he is a dog then he is a dog. If the player thinks of him as a cat then he is a cat".
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, it's strongly hinted at that Kreia is Arren Kae, The Handmaiden's mother. If this is news to anyone, check out Scorchy's post here. Still, the writer Chris Avellone's response to a question on this was "Can't comment, but good catch. Sorry".
    • Anyone that's read MCAs Fallout Bibles would recognize "good catch" as his standard response to a coincidence or minor detail pointed out by a fan that he actually likes the implications of.
  • For several years, fans have always asked Valve how the entire Zombie Apocalypse started for the Left 4 Dead series, but an answer has yet to be produced since Valve wants fans to come up with their own theories instead of always being spoon fed information. A supplementary comic that was released some time after the game launched showed that the virus began as some form of super rabies that quickly spread throughout the country, but how it came to be has yet to be answered.
    • Fans are also demanding to know what happens to the Left 4 Dead 2 survivors after they are saved by the military at the end of The Parish campaign since the military was killing carriers of the virus and it was confirmed that the survivors are also carriers. Valve has yet to say anything on the subject.
  • A year after the release of the game, Nintendo finally answered on where in the Zelda timeline that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild takes place. The answer? It's the last game. Sounds straightfoward enough... except the series' has a three-way split timeline. The Japanese Zelda website even places the game in all three timelines as the last entry in the history section. The dev team also stated that it's up to the players to decide where Breath of the Wild fits in the timeline, be it at the end of the Child, Adult, or Downfall branch or if it literally is at the end of the timeline by way of a Merged Reality situation.
  • What is The Secret of Monkey Island©? answer: "Look behind you, a three-headed monkey!"
    • "Only LeChuck knows. And he's an evil insane nightmarish murderous revenge-obsessed undead horror, so good luck getting an honest answer out of him".
    • This one was given a canonical answer in Escape from Monkey Island, which established that the island contains a giant robot monkey, but this sequel was created by a different production team to the one that set the question. Original creator Ron Gilbert has his own answer, but remains disinclined to tell anyone.
    • Probably the intended original answer was that Monkey Island contains a portal to the underworld (under a giant monkey head), which Guybrush discovers near the end, and is pretty staggering as secrets go. It just wasn't positively identified as such in-game.
  • Mortis Ghost, OFF's creator, prefers to let everyone come up with their own explanations to whatever just happened in the game rather than say so himself. Considering what sort of game we're talking about, that's a lot of speculation to be done. He has given some canonical facts though, such as the fact that Sugar, Enoch, and Zacharie are the only humans in the game, and agreeing with a fan during a livestream that the Batter is a lesbian.
  • Moshi Monsters:
    • When contacted about where Furbert Snufflepeeps (a disappeared scientist) went, the creators basically said they didn't know.
    • When players asked Roary Scrawl, a character, the question of how Gingersnap the cat got his scar, he replied in his answer in the official magazine that nobody knows but he personally thinks he got it in a scuffle over melted cheese.
  • Pokémon: Although the main series games are all chronologically connected, Game Freak has been tight-lipped about how they are connected. When asked in a 2019 interview, Junichi Masuda responded that they'd rather not explicitly confirm a timeline to avoid overcomplicating things and/or accidentally creating continuity errors.
  • The first Rune Factory game's ending is the best example. After saving the day it reveals that the merchant Ivan is actually a relative of the king who was searching for his long lost brother which would be you. In an interview it's actually stated that both characters are related to the king, but it never says if they're related to one another. It still just strongly hints to it.
    • Other examples from the same interview is that Iris is not a vampire and probably not a purebred of whatever her species then is, no one knows where the Saint-Coquilles money comes from, and Sharron is "probably not human". (Which is no more information than what's heavily implied in the game itself)
  • After Shigeru Miyamoto Jossed the popular belief that the 7 Koopalings were Bowser's children, people started to ask who Bowser Jr.'s mother was. Nintendo simply replied "We don't know who the mother is". During the 30th anniversary celebration video, to answer who Bowser Jr.'s mother is, Shigeru Miyamoto pointed at... himself.
  • "Team Silent, Team Silent, which one of the endings to Silent Hill is canonical?" "They're all canonical". "Nyoro~n".
    • Word of God regarding Silent Hill 2's canonical ending is "None of them are". The creator intended for players to choose whichever ending carried the greatest emotional impact and to consider it as canonical for themselves.
  • According to KobaBeach, Luigi farts each time he double jumps with the Athletic Peach powerup in Something Else. yogui responded that it's up to the player to decide whether it is or not.
  • Being based on real life dogs and cats, it's pretty easy to pinpoint which breeds the characters of Tail Concerto is based on... everyone except Panta, who suffers from a double dose of Vague Age and Informed Species. CyberConnect2 don't even know what Panta is either, as all artbooks featuring his character data usually puts a "?" in place of his age or species, and when directly asked, they'll simply respond with "Panta is Panta".
  • This is how the creators of Tales of the Abyss react the big question presented by the game's ending. Who is it that appears in front of Tear? Is it Luke? Is it Asch? Is it some weird combination of both caused by Lorelei?. The game's director answered with "Who do you think it is? That's the answer". Cue endless debates on the subject.
  • Valve Software's refusal to reveal the gender of the Pyro in Team Fortress 2 has become a Running Gag in both the fandom and the game itself.
    Scout: He's not here, is she?
  • Much like in the Cave Story example, the setting of Touhou Project is basically made of this trope. The creator has repeatedly mentioned he wants people to fill in the blanks themselves. Heck, even the manuals are, in universe, written by Unreliable Narrators who write based on hearsay, so not even the official books have much honest, set in stone Word of God. Of course, this only spurs the fans further.
  • Undertale is filled to the brim with many things that are open to interpretation. What is the gender of the protagonist? What happened to the other humans that fell down the mountain? When does the story take place? Toby Fox, the creator of the game, purposely left a lot of things vague so that fans can come up with their own theories and whatever they think of will be "true".
  • In Invisible, Inc. is Shopcat an uplifted cat pretending to be a human or a human pretending to be an uplifted cat? Even the devlopers aren't sure.
  • Otter Island: Creator Mizzen is pretty vague when answering questions about the game's story, such as where exactly it takes place and the nature of the creature on the island that usually only comes out in autumn, intentionally leaving things ambiguous so players can form their own theories.

    Visual Novels 
  • The writer of Umineko: When They Cry, Ryukishi07, has made it clear that he will never reveal what really happened on the real Rokkenjima. Though he has said that he knows what really happened (fitting with reason 5 above), it also fits with one of the themes of the series, namely about truth (and the subjectivity of it) which says that the readers has to figure it out themselves and create their own truth. He's mentioned that some people on the internet have actually managed to figure out what happened.
    • The truth did get explained in 2014 with the release of the 8th arc of the manga, which Ryukishi07 was involved with.

  • Chris Hastings, author of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja has explained that he doesn't know how The Robster (a tricky lobster man) puts his suit on over his claws.
  • Interestingly, Dave of Bob and George rarely answers questions about his own comic, more likely, someone on the BnG forum gets there first, leading to a huge discussion on the meaning of life, which Dave leaves alone (in most cases).
    • Any questions about plotholes are actually taboo in the BnG community.
      • That's because there are no plotholes. Even the ones you think you see, even the ones you know you see, are not plotholes.
  • City of Reality's author has deliberately left the ages of his Kid Heroes ambiguous, to avoid writing himself into any Plot Holes or Relationship Writing Fumbles.
  • Maritza Campos of College Roomies from Hell!!! is famous for answering fan questions with a smile and a "Maaaybe".
  • The Dreadful Christmas Special, in which Kit kills the grinch with an overdose of cheer, is confirmed as canonical on the author's twitter. He does not know when or where it happens however.
  • So far, the author of Drowtales has refused to answer any questions about the identity of the father of Mel'arnach and Kel'noz Val'Sarghress. This has led to lots of speculation among fans about who he might be, since the last time a question of parentage was met with a Shrug Of God the eventually revealed answer surprised everyone.
    • He's also stated that he doesn't think it matters if Shimi'lande and Vala'drielle are still sisters, as was stated in early character material.
  • In Dumbing of Age, Alex, the bad-tempered male-presenting computer science teacher, was replaced with little explanation by Alex, the friendly female-presenting computer science teacher. When Willis was asked if they were actually the same Alex, he said on Tumblr that New Alex was definitely transgender, but whether she was the same person as Old Alex was another question, and while he wouldn't say anyone was wrong to think that, he personally thought of them as seperate for real world reasons.
  • In El Goonish Shive, odd visual effects are often used as an artistic convention, such as the angry black eyes of death in this comic. However, as some of the characters have magic powers, sometimes similar effects are clearly actually happening in-universe. For example, Tedd is actually glowing in this comic, as another character comments on it. However, in this comic, the author claims in the commentary that he isn't entirely sure whether the spectral flames surrounding Elliot are merely an artistic convention, or something that is actually happening.
  • Friendship Is Magic:
    • Sunset Shimmer. One fan asked if she'd ever appear in the comic and an answer wasn't truly given. She appears later.
    • Also about Sunset. When asked if she'll be joining the Mane 6, the response was a 'maybe'.
  • Gaming Guardians creator Graveyard Greg often replied to such questions with his signature sinister laugh: Heh heh heh.
  • Tom Siddell of Gunnerkrigg Court is usually very helpful about providing answers, no matter how pointless or obscure. But when future plot points or very specific questions about numbers or lengths of time come up, Mr. Siddell proves a master of answering questions without actually answering the questions.
    Fan: When exactly are our heroines' birthdays?
    Tom: At some point during the year.
  • Andrew Hussie is usually ready to answer questions about specific events within Homestuck, but there are several subjects which he simply doesn't care enough about to resolve. The details of the dead members of The Felt is the most persistently shrugged line of questioning. (He eventually answered it once they appeared in the story).
    • Some things previously shrugged:
      • Troll anatomy (usually questions about this are answered with jokes, or pointing out that the asker is asking about the genitalia of 13 year olds).
      • How Troll sex works ("Do they vomit their genetic material?". "Sure, that sounds weird enough").
      • Whether any given character is good or evil.
      • The nature of Skaia.
  • The author of I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space!!! has explained that humans, including her, cannot understand the sixth sense provided by the aliens' antennae.
  • Last Res0rt runs into a lot of this; part of it is that since Rachel works a lot of stuff in advance, she KNOWS what's going to come out a few months later (and will refuse to comment), and part of is that early on, Rachel often said too MUCH in the forums or elsewhere, leading to the ruling that "If it's not in the comics or at least on the main website itself, it ain't canon. Don't trust it." [sic]
  • In A Loonatic's Tale, Rick and Becky have so much material prepared that they can answer almost any question you have about the series. Unfortunately, so much of the material will be important to the plot of a later story (often one that they won't even get to start working on for years), that the question isn't can they answer your particular question, but will they.
  • Rich "The Giant" Burlew, author of The Order of the Stick:
    • He often uses this trope when asked about aspects of the setting that he doesn't elaborate on because they don't matter to the story, with him sometimes mixing this with Anthropic Principle, The Law of Conservation of Detail, and the Theory of Narrative Causality. An example:
      I think everyone is getting way too hung up on "What If's" that would have essentially led to Malack not being in the story the way that he needed to be in the story. The role required was for an evil vampire cleric to make friends with Durkon, so that later they could turn on each other; if he wasn't evil, and he wasn't a cleric, he wouldn't have been in the story at all. Maybe there are other vampires out there doing other things, being Good and living in harmony with the world. Don't care. Don't need them for this story.
    • The Giant prefers to keep Vaarsuvius' Ambiguous Gender (and that of V's spouse) ambiguous and specifies that any in-character comments on the matter are only that character's speculation. He answered one bout of forum speculation by stating that he gave Vaarsuvius adopted children specifically to avoid providing any information on their gender or sexuality.
      • Later into the comic's run, when asked in a Patreon Q&A, The Giant mused that while he personally views Vaarsuvius as genderqueer, this is only his view (and from a meta-textual perspective, to boot), and In-Universe V would never describe themselves using that specific term since the comic's In-Universe elven culture views gender as being of no particular import.
  • Since sex is never actually depicted in Out There, Monroe states in his blog that it's up to the reader to decide how far things go.
    What I’ve tried to do with Out There is have it both ways. Whichever way you think it oughta be, you win. If you think that Miriam and Chuck should have had sex, and Araceli and Rod should have had sex, and Sherry and Steven must have had sex, then okay—they had sex. Everyone who you think should have had sex with whoever they should have had sex with, did. You just didn’t see it. If, on the other hand, it makes you happier to think that Miriam and Chuck made out a lot but stopped before things got too out of hand, then that’s cool too—there’s nothing in the strip that proves otherwise. Winners everywhere.
  • Ozy and Millie: Llewellyn has addmitted that some of the stories he tells are made up. Evidently, neither Llewellyn, or the author know which ones they are.
  • T Campbell, creator of Penny and Aggie, is as notorious as Tom for answers like these, although usually responding to fans who should have known better.
    • He's refused to reveal whether the Herman's Head storyline "20 2020 Pennies" was a dream or an actual plane of existence — which wouldn't be so bad, except that he did say the versions of Penny and Aggie featured there were bisexual and lesbian, respectively.
    • Following the comic's Maybe Ever After ending, Campbell has refused to say whether the title characters will permanently get back together. Indeed, he claims he hasn't let himself decide, as that was never the main point of the series.
  • Questionable Content:
    • Jeph Jacques has no plans to clarify whether Claire, a trans woman, has had surgery or not.
    • When asked at a convention whether he'd ever answer the Riddle for the Ages of whether Penelope Gaines really is Pizza Girl or not, his response was "I will... when I decide if she is Pizza Girl or not".
  • Sunstone being hosted on Deviant Art has a comment section, which is a perfect place to seek informed and detailed answers to your questions, up to and including how much money are in the character's bank accounts. But certain questions?
    "What is Anne's natural hair colour?"

    Web Original 
  • Dream SMP: While it was a popular headcanon that Purpled (the character) is an extraterrestrial, with his iconic UFO build being his mode of transportation before settling on the server, this becomes ambiguously canon when he later reveals the UFO in question to be part of his "heritage" and considers its destruction unforgivable, without giving any further context. When asked about this in a Q&A livestream, Purpled the content creator stated that the question was "best left unanswered", thus leaving his character Ambiguously Human and the situation up to audience interpretation (at least, as of the end of Volume 1).
  • Lanzer, admin of Gaia Online, does this a lot in the weekly open interview sessions.
  • None of the editors on Orion's Arm will ever answer certain questions about certain setting elements. Are the Dawn Hunters real? Why did the previous galactic empires all up and disappear? "The last—" What did they find at the Hedrile? Where, exactly, does the Fargate lead? Which of the higher Archailects actually exist? Is the universe just another Bottle Universe? Are the Amalgamation Terragen or Xeno? This is in keeping with the setting; since certain things, particularly those involving the Archailects themselves, are deemed to be ultimately impossible to explain in terms that we mere humans can grasp with our tiny organic brains.
  • Burnie Burns, the creator and primary writer of Red vs. Blue for the first three story arcs, is generally willing to clarify anything about the series. Ask him about Tex, though, and he instantly shuts up. He also enjoys leaving smaller plot threads hanging for the wild mass guessers in the forums.
    • The Ultimate Fan Guide answers a lot of long-standing fan questions, but it says that Church's time travel shenanigans in Season 3 are subject to "conflicting reports", which seems to be the writers' way of saying that they don't know if it really happened or not either.
    • When asked if the Forerunners, Precursors and Flood all exist in Red vs. Blue in an interview with AfterBuzz TV or only Broad Strokes versions of them exist (if at all), Miles Luna literally gave an ambivalent shrug in response. Amusingly, Luna's response is an almost literal example of this trope in action.
    • Similarly, Jason Weight, Burnie Burns, and Miles Luna all haven't said anything definite one way or the other regarding if Singularity retroactively erased the events of Season 15 and The Shisno Paradox.
  • The official policy of The Salvation War is that, as far as possible, everything that happens has some kind of rational, scientific explanation. In some cases, the divergence between the demands of mythology and what is scientifically plausible is so great that it cannot be bridged. To get around this (and to give the Angels and Daemons some hope of surviving the massed human firepower being thrown at them), it is stipulated that the laws of physics on Earth and in Heaven/Hell are slightly different. This results in the characters saying they have no idea why this thing is happening, so they're just going to accept that it does for now. This is, of course, the scientific method at work "we don't understand it but we'll study it until we do". Meanwhile, the engineering method of finding an empirical solution by trial and error is used to create a work-around. In some cases, these shrugs are actually puzzles that are solved later in the story line.
  • Jack Getschman, the creator of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Abridged Series Scootertrix the Abridged, has admitted that he doesn't remember why he chose to do certain things. Most notably, why he changed Rainbow Dash's name to the bird.
    • He also says jokes about something the audience and possibly the characters didn't get to see, are often things he doesn't either.
  • Many of the senior writers and editors of the SCP Foundation never give straight answers about the details and inner workings of the Foundation and the SCPs it contains. The stock reply to lore questions usually is to figure it out for yourself. Or that there is no canon:
    Dr. Gears: At the end of the day, people can call it canon, non-cannon, brilliant, and stupid, and be right and wrong all at the same time. When dealing with the SCP, you have to understand that we took Canon out behind the barn and shot it in the head a long, long time ago. [sic]
  • Discussed in Some Jerk with a Camera's review of Escape from Tomorrow: the reason that the powers that be recruited Jerk to watch/review the film is because none of them (including some who worked on the film) could figure out what the hell the ending was supposed to represent, or whether director Randy Moore thought the film had any deeper meaning than "Disney is bad".
  • afroakuma seems to do this with roughly half the questions he gets in the Vote Up a Campaign Setting discussion threads. More often than not, he appears to do it For the Evulz; certain questions have been noted by him to be unanswerable for valid(ish) reasons, though.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • "What Was Missing" implied that Princess Bubblegum and Marceline used to be romantically involved. Rebecca Sugar, who co-wrote the episode, told a fan who asked about the nature of the duo's past relationship that "I don't think it's any of your business". Later statements were far less ambiguous: both Marceline's voice actor and the show's creator stated they did used to date, and the latter seasons show them slowly rekindling this relationship, which leads to them sharing a kiss in the Grand Finale and beginning to date again. Sugar's initial statement notably came when she was still in the closet regarding her own bisexuality, whereas her later show would be far more explicit about LGBT themes.
    • Adam Muto when asked about the mind control worms at the end of "Evicted" responded with this:
      Adam Muto: That's a very good question. He's actually- WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWO!!!
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Word of God says that Azula could eventually regain her sanity and/or redeem herself, but didn't say if she actually will. This was likely because a definite "yes" would feel cheap, but a definite "no" would seem rather harsh. Series head writer Aaron Ehasz claims that this would have been a storyline in a proposed fourth season and that the answer would have been a "yes", but creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko firmly deny every aspect of that statment.
    • The creators once gave a rather playful shrug when a fan asked about the name of the previous airbender Avatar who appeared in a flashback. Their answer was "Susan?". She was eventually revealed to be named Yangchen, with her story being expanded upon several years later in her own novel.
  • The Amazing Technicolor Population of Doug has lead to a lot of speculation about the ethnicities of several supporting characters - The most popular being the Fanon theory that Skeeter is black. In response to this, Jim Jinkins has said "I'm like, 'Well, he's blue!' [...] If that's how you see him, that's great. It's not a bad thing, but I never planned it. Skeeter is blue, and he's Doug's friend".
  • Duckman writer, Michael Marlow says he hadn't planned an explanation as to why Beatrice turns out to be alive in the final episode and refuses to reveal the reason he came up with since until the show gets revived.
  • For The Fairly OddParents!, this trope came into place for the Distant Finale in Channel Chasers, which depicted Timmy's two children Tommy and Tammy, whose mother was never seen nor mentioned. Butch Hartman decided to respond with that there is no answer to who their mother is and that she can be whoever you want her to be.
  • Family Guy:
    • A common question fans have wondered was whether other characters or the Griffins could understand what Stewie was saying. When asked this question (on the early season DVDs), creator Seth MacFarlane replied, "Well, Brian can understand him". Chris also seems to understand him just fine. The topic has also been lampshaded several times, with the general rule of thumb seemingly to be that older characters only understand him when it would aid a joke.
    • When asked who drove the car that killed Brian, the creators jokingly responded that it was Justin Bieber.
  • Greg Weisman:
    • In regards to Gargoyles, given that he's already gone into a fair amount of detail about future plotlines he'd do if he ever got the chance with a new animated series or comic, most questions that are left tend to receive the simple answer of "I'm not going to answer that at this time" or some variant thereof. Man's gotta keep some secrets if those chances do happen.
    • When ever asked about the color of a character that has yet appeared in the show or comics, Greg refuses to answer because he is color blind and needs help with the coloring choice of his characters.
    • Weisman is very fond of answering with "No comment" when asked about specific elements relating to the world of Young Justice. Oftentimes, it appears that he does so in order to avoid potential spoilers about future episodes.
  • Alex Hirsch answered plenty of questions about Gravity Falls, but since it's a mystery series, he couldn't answer all of them without giving spoilers. He came up with a number of unorthodox things to put in place of spoilers, including just posting pictures of axolotls — which becomes a bizarre sort of Brick Joke in the Grand Finale, as there's a backward message from a dying Bill Cipher calling out to "Axolotl" as if invoking the power of a god. A decent number of the bigger questions were answered in Gravity Falls: Journal 3, such as Dipper's real name, but many others (such as questions to the Pines family's religion) receive either a shrug or have him invoke Death of the Author so he doesn't have to think about it.
  • Edward Kay has been this way about a few aspects of Jimmy Two-Shoes, such as the characters' ages, the full extent of Lucius' powers, if Jimmy and Heloise are getting together, and (the biggest one of all), the true nature of Miseryville. On that last one, he compared it to Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, saying that Jimmy may literally be in Hell (the show's original pitch and what most fans believe), be in an alien world/dimension, or even just be dreaming in a coma.
  • Kaeloo: Throughout the series, Mr. Cat is portrayed as Ambiguously Bi. The creators themselves have stated that they do not know what his sexuality is.
  • Kim Possible co-creator Bob Schooley once stated on the fandom's most popular forum that they subscribe to Death of the Author: that is, there isn't one "right" answer to most of the fans' questions, as the series belongs to the fans to spin any way they want.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts has the nature of the apocalypse that occurred 200 years before the beginning of the show. Creator Rad Sechrist has said that all the writers have their own ideas and that no character in-universe knows either. He and producer Bill Wolkoff also said in one interview that even if they sat down and came up with a single satisfying answer, it wouldn't matter, since there would've been no way to actually address it in the show itself without completely veering away from the Myth Arc.
  • When asked if Mickey and Minnie are married or not, Walt Disney said they are married, but sometimes play an unmarried couple.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Lauren Faust likes to occasionally answer questions about the show in her DeviantArt comments page. Several times, though, she has refused to answer questions, saying that she has an idea of the answer, but doesn't want to tie herself down to any particular position when a different answer might come up later as a plot point, and sometimes the process of writing produces more interesting answers than trying to figure it out ahead of time. Other times, she's mentioned that she simply doesn't have an answer because it's not really something she goes out of her way to think about.
      Lauren: "We don't hammer logic that hard on this show".
    • When she left the show after the second season, her responses migrated to "My theory is X, but I don't know how the current show runners will handle that"..
    • One user asked Jayson Thiessen whether or not Tirek from the Season 4 finale was the Pony of Shadows from "Castle Mane-ia". His response?
      Jayson Thiessen: hehe
    • When asked on Twitter if Sunburst is Sunset Shimmer's brother, "Big Jim" Miller said that he didn't know.
    • After the premiere of "The Last Problem," the show's Grand Finale which also featured a Time Skip, a Q&A was held with showrunner Big Jim Miller on Twitter. Miller revealed that a lot of things which fans wondered about (including in that episode) were intentionally left vague, never got discussed, or were outside of his control to conceivably answer.
      • The writers were toying with a subtle nod to the idea of Appledash (Applejack x Rainbow Dash) and Yonabar (Yona x Sandbar), and had a more concrete indication that Fluttercord (Fluttershy x Discord) was canon. Ultimately, they decided to make the moments in question more ambiguous to allow fans to continue playing and debating about said ships. Applejack x Rainbow Dash would obviously confirm the Fanon theory that Rainbow Dash is a lesbian. Word of God simply said it was wrong to assume Rainbow Dash is a lesbian simply based on stereotypes.
      • As to whether or not characters who didn't appear in the episode after the Time Skip were dead, Miller said that just because someone didn't appear doesn't mean they're dead.
      • A lot of "what happened to [Character X]?" questions either never got an answer from the crew, or Hasbro never approved an idea that used them. As such, Miller said that it's up to the fans to decide. (There were a few exceptions to this: He said the real Grogar is still out there, Lightning Dust is still alive, Chrysalis, Tirek, and Cozy Glow are in suspended animation as statues (implying dreamless sleep over what it was like for Discord), Granny Smith died of old age before the final episode, and Applejack's parents are also confirmed dead before the first episode).
  • The creators of Phineas and Ferb claim that the title characters have no definitive age (despite being nine in the pilot), just that they are "less than fifteen". They did this after seeing how well different age groups all identified with them. (Eventually, they were said to be ten years old).
    • Likewise they won't bother answering questions about Ferb's Missing Mom or Phineas's Disappeared Dad; they would rather fans just focus on the Flynn-Fletchers as a happy blended family. Fans speculate, however, that the episode "What Do It Do?" may have been meant to Joss the fan theory that Doofenshmirtz is Phineas' father, as he mentions having met Linda only once years before Phineas could have been born.
      • It's not Doof, they said so in an interview. Not that this stops fanfic writers from making him so; you wouldn't believe how many stories there are that use this.
  • John Kricfalusi, creator of The Ren & Stimpy Show, apparently answered the question of whether Ren and Stimpy were gay with "I don't know, it's none of my business".
  • One question that The Simpsons creator Matt Groening has long been asked is Where the Hell Is Springfield? The place is supposed to be an Everytown, America, but there's been a lot of interest in exactly which state it's in. Groening has consistently shrugged at that one, but he's done it in many different ways over the years:
    • An avid fan wrote a highly detailed analysis in the Simpsons magazine as to Springfield's exact location. This led to him ultimately eliminating all 50 states, so he gave up and asked Groening straight up where it was. He said, "Springfield exists in a state of confusion, but mostly it's a state of mind".
    • The name "Springfield" was chosen because it's a very common name for towns and cities in America — but one commentary pointed out that it wasn't the most common name, that honor going to "Riverside". On hearing this, Groening hatched an idea for an episode where the Simpsons move to one of those Riversides.
    • Many have speculated that Springfield is in Oregon, in part because Groening grew up there (and it does have a Springfield in it). It also kinda jives with longtime director David Silverman claiming it's in "North Takoma", which doesn't exist but perhaps comes from the city of Tacoma in neighboring Washington state. Twenty years into the show's long-running tenure, they kinda made it official, which kinda took away the magic — at least until Groening clarified that he only based Springfield on that location, not that it is that location. In the true spirit of this trope, he went on to say, "The true location of Springfield is in any state but yours".
    • The show itself has made a ton of jokes about where Springfield is, with everything from The Unreveal to establishing it to be in an impossible location. One episode establishes "West Springfield" as "three times the size of Texas". The Simpsons Movie says it borders Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky, which is geographically impossible. And "Behind the Laughter" called them a "Northern Kentucky family", but (a) this was about the Simpsons as actors rather than characters (it's a weird meta episode) and (b) there are variant recordings of that particular line which can occasionally be heard on reruns.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil has "is Seth alive?". The The Magic Book of Spells, a companion book describing the history of the show's setting, introduced the character Seth, the leader of the Septarians as well as Toffee's boss. It was under him that Toffee killed Moon's mother Comet, and he was described as a foil to Mina, being a monster that detests Mewmans to the point of wanting nothing less than their complete and total genocide. Within minutes of each other during a Q&A session after the show's finale, series producer Dominic Bisignano and show creator Daron Nefcy gave contradictory statements on the matter; the former stated that he's still alive and would play a major role if the show ever came back, while Nefcy states that Seth had been dead "for some time now".
  • The question of "Who is Mysterion?" from the South Park episode "The Coon". In the original commentary, Trey Parker and Matt Stone flat-out stated that they don't know who Mysterion is, and that there was no specific character who they intended Mysterion to be. Fans continued to debate the issue and presented evidence backing up various theories, with Clyde and Kenny usually being the most popular candidates. The issue was finally revisited in the three-part "Coon And Friends" Trilogy, with a fan poll between the first and second parts about who viewers thought he might be. (In case you're wondering, it's Kenny).
    • They claim on the commentary they decided his identity very late during production on "the first one", and seem to mean the original episode, but its a little unclear.
    • Matt and Trey don't tend to plan too far ahead, and generally answer questions in a very casual off-the-cuff manner, so many of their statements can appear Shrug of God.
  • Barriss Offee from Star Wars: The Clone Wars was Put on a Prison Bus following her Face–Heel Turn, with Word of God only confirming that she was not executed nor turned into an Inquisitor. Both Dave Filoni and Leland Chee have been questioned on whether her dying in Order 66 (as shown in Star Wars Legends and Revenge of the Sith deleted scenes) still applies, but seemingly preferred to leave it open to interpretation.
  • Steven Universe:
    • During a charity drawing livestream with Alex Hirsch, series creator Rebecca Sugar mentioned that Gems use hard light constructs for their bodies, causing the former to ask what would happen if a Gem spent a long time in the dark. Sugar wasn't comfortable answering, so Hirsch retracted the question apologetically.
    • Writers Ben Levin and Matt Burnett were once asked what would happen if post-resurrection Lars went into Lion's Pocket Dimension, then went through the other portal that comes out of his own head. Both admitted to not considering such a strange situation, but theorize things like creating a Recursive Reality or self-duplication. The show's creator later stated it would be a combination of the two.
  • Glen Murakami of Teen Titans fame is (in)famous for not caring about the finer points that get the Fandom up in arms. The Shrug Of God is the official answer to anything related to whether or not it's in continuity with the other DC Animated Universe cartoons, anything to do with the characters' origins or out-of-costume lives (most famously, which Robin it is), and pretty much anything not detailed onscreen. General fan consensus is that Teen Titans isn't part of the DCAU and Robin is Dick Grayson, but The Powers That Be have never answered yes or no, not considering these things to be important.With that in mind... 
  • Transformers: Animated: After Starscream found out each of his clones was part of his personality, he asked his Opposite-Sex Clone what she represented and she responded "Don't ask!" When someone put the same question to lead character designer Derrick J. Wyatt on an online Q&A session he responded "I try not to think about that one!" He also said that she has a name, but wouldn't say anything beyond it not being Susan, Dirge, Nightbird, Laserbeak, or Laserwave.
    • And her name was confirmed at Botcon 2009: Slipstream.
    • In a much different version of this, Marty Isenberg said they have no idea the significance of Professor Sumdac's name being "Cadmus" backwards as it was decided before they got involved.
    • More recently, Wyatt has refused to answer questions about how Sari's protoform appeared in Isaac's lab. If that story is going to be told, it's going to be in some form of new Animated fiction.
  • This was done by the creators of The Venture Bros. for a subplot that seemed to be unambiguous in canonicity. According to Doc Hammer, the writers initially hadn't decided if Myra is the boys' birth mother but decided against it for the final season.
    • They've openly admitted that they don't plan anything, so chances are if it hasn't been written into an episode, they don't know the answers any more than the fans.
    • It happened again between Seasons 3 and 4 regarding the purpose of the ORB. This, however, was eventually answered in Season 4's "The Revenge Society" - the ORB is useless, because instead of killing Lloyd Venture to prevent its use, his bodyguard Sandow broke it instead. In the commentary for the scene where this is finally revealed, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer took great joy in answering the questions in such a way.