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Let's say you're playing a Role-Playing Game. You enter a dungeon using your special bloodline and navigate through waves of vicious monsters, get past several devious puzzles, and avoid all sorts of nasty traps through your psychic powers and reflexes of Bruce Lee. As you defeat that huge dragon guarding the Cosmic Keystone, you walk through the door and find... your love interest lying on the ground and her kid brother on crutches mourning over her... wait, how the hell did he get here? For that matter, how did she get here, either?

That's simple. They just took a shortcut. This is the ability that every NPC gains when he or she leaves NPC Academy. Considerations such as amount of distance or the physical capabilities required mean nothing to video game NPCs. If they are needed for a plot point, they will appear where they are needed at just the right time even if it means bypassing all sorts of trials well beyond them. Going beyond this, some NPCs even have the ability to just materialize and dematerialize right in front of the player's eyes. It's rare an explanation is given for why they are capable of this.

One possible explanation is that somehow any main character is a Weirdness Magnet, so only they ever get attacked by monsters and otherwise held up.

Very, very common in video games of all types. A subtrope of Offscreen Teleportation.

Compare Already Undone for You, which is when the NPC used the "shortcut" to get past locked doors and kill monsters, yet somehow left the doors locked and the monsters alive behind him for you to deal with. Contrast Ridiculously Difficult Route.


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    Films — Animated 
  • In Shrek 2, Shrek, Donkey, and Fiona have to travel to the Kingdom of Far, FAR Away, which apparently takes an exceedingly long time. Yet when Shrek is arrested after drinking the Happily Ever After Potion, his whole gang back at The Swamp (where it's already getting dark) somehow not only gets to him in short order, but gets back in order to get to the Muffin Man on Drury Lane with a "big order to fill", and then back to Far, Far Away, all in time to save Fiona from the love potion by midnight.
  • Lampshaded in The Emperor's New Groove, where Yzma and Kronk are struck by lightning while jumping a pit, causing them to fall. Even so, they still arrive to the lab before the protagonists do. The lampshading takes the form of a pull-down map showing both groups' routes, with Yzma's ending at said pit. They acknowledge that they have no idea how they got there first and that by all accounts it doesn't make sense.
    • The video game adaptation has similar moments. In the final levels, taking place in the main city and Yzma's lab, Pacha keeps appearing at certain points of the game. Kuzco theorizes, "You must have eaten your way through a wall." Pacha's own justifications are just as nonchalant as Kronk's are in the movie, even quoting the Trope verbatim by saying "Oh, I took a shortcut", to which Kuzco frustratingly asks him to be notified of next time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Superman: The Movie, Clark proclaims to his surprised classmates when he reach the next train station that he simply "ran" to catch up.
  • In Young Frankenstein, after having lots of trouble getting the secret passage to work, Frederick and Inga descend to Victor's private laboratory, where they meet Igor. When asked how he got down here:
    Through the dumbwaiter. I heard the strangest music, and I just sort of followed it down. Call it... a hunch! Ba-doom chee!
  • In Big Trouble in Little China, when the good guys storm the villain's underground temple, the main characters get seperated from good sorcerer Egg Shen and his martial artist backup and take an elevator upstairs to confront the evil sorcerer Lo Pan. While being chased by Lo Pan's most powerful henchman, they stumble upon Egg Shen looking down at them from a hole in the ceiling overhead, ready to throw them an escape line. When asked how he got up there, his response: "Wasn't easy!"
  • Emilio from Mr. Deeds takes this trope, Offscreen Teleportation, Stealth Hi/Bye and Flash Step, mixes them all together, and ramps the result to utterly ridiculous levels. Notably, he goes from being on the stage next to Chuck Cedar, all the way to a balcony several hundred meters away, faster than the blink of an eye, without being seen. This is all a Running Gag that's only Played for Laughs.
    Emilio: I fear you are underestimating the sneakiness, sir.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Another non-videogame example is Heroes, where driving from one side of the United States to the other is treated as absolutely trivial.
  • Phil, the host of The Amazing Race always manages to film various promos at task locations and then still be well ahead of the Racers in order to meet them at each Pit Stop.
  • One incident originally considered by most fans to be a Plot Hole in Xena: Warrior Princess involved Xena leaving Gabrielle behind and setting off on a long journey to China, only to discover Gabrielle already there when she arrived. A later episode explained how this happened and made it a relevant plot point.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Due to a continuity error, Tasha Yar does this at the end of "Symbiosis." She remains in the cargo bay when Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher walk out the door, across the corridor, and into a turbolift. It takes them directly to the bridge, where Tasha is already at her station.

    Video Games 
  • In ANNO: Mutationem, Jos van Corn always happens to show up far in each area to sell his Corn Juice. When Ann asks how he arrived so quickly, Jos replies he needs to expand his business to compete with his competitors by setting up shop in unexpected places.
  • Bug Fables:
    • Amber's large sack seemingly doesn't slow her down a bit, because she's always at every location before the trio shows up.
    • Samira always beats Team Snakemouth to every major town, ready for them to hear her music. Most noteworthy is the Termite Kingdom, which is past a foggy wasteland maze littered with gaps and boulders blocking the way.
  • In Illusion of Gaia, one level requires you to fight through a lot of monsters, do a ton of running jumps that requires Will's extraordinary abilities to perform, and otherwise should be inaccessible to a normal human being. Yet when the plot calls for it, one of the kids that is established as being rather weak (both physically and mentally) is able to walk in through that very same door that Will came in through.
  • When you find the super-battery plans in Day of the Tentacle, Dr Fred appears from a corner of the room with no access. After he goes off to the time machine, Bernard asks "How did you get over there?"
  • Hades will always beat Zagreus to Styx. When Zagreus calls attention to it, Hades points out that he can travel the river while Zagreus has to navigate the chambers on foot. There's a passageway in the administrative chamber that points to this conclusion as well.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, Dickson usually arrives to a place before the party, for some reason.
  • Big Joe, a goofball NPC from Xenogears, keeps turning up in high security areas and the like for no real reason.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails:
    • In Trails in the Sky SC, Estelle and Anelace navigate through an underground tunnel maze and immediately finds Kurt already at the exit. He explains that he knew of a few secret passages in the layout and took a detour.
    • In Trails of Cold Steel, the maid of Alisa's family; Sharon, bids them fun on their field studies at the train station. Then she suddenly shows up at the next station, miles away from Thors Academy, wanting to make sure Alisa is doing alright. It doesn't take long for Class VII to figure out her secret: she's simply getting lifts from high-speed airships or trains.
  • In Mega Man Legends 2, Data has a habit of turning up deep inside hostile dungeons, usually right outside the Boss Room.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Snake can be seen crossing the CD bridge, but when Raiden gets into Strut D, Snake is nowhere in sight, and when he speak to him on the Codec, he says he's already in Strut F.
  • In the original Tomb Raider, each time you fight Pierre he takes a certain amount of damage and then runs off out of sight before disappearing. The thing is, he disappears the instant you lose sight of him which means he can potentially run behind a small pillar to escape. The remake Tomb Raider: Anniversary has a Shout-Out to this by having him do the same thing during a cutscene.
    • Most games in the series feature places that Lara Croft is implicitly or explicitly said to be discovering for the first time in centuries ... and they are all crawling with human enemies when Lara gets there. A particularly notorious case is that of the Maria Doria levels of Tomb Raider II, in which Lara is exploring a sunken ship - with human enemies popping out from every corner. A few of the games do avert this - Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation does not feature any human enemies deep within the tombs Lara explores.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, many times throughout the early portion of the game, several demons see Chiaki traveling the same areas the Demi-Fiend traverses, seemingly ahead of his progress without powers or a demon of her own.
  • Wild ARMs:
    • In Wild ARMs Jane gets around the map with ease offscreen, but in order for the protagonists to get to her home, they have to obtain the one-of-a-kind unique vehicle only found near the end of the game.
    • Even worse is Martina in Wild ARMs 3. Despite being a little girl with no weapons or combat experience, she manages to traverse the deserts of Filgaia and reach places that require the use of a Sandcraft or an Airship all on her own.
  • NPCs in City of Heroes come in a couple flavors. Some will just dematerialize right in front of your eyes as you rescue them. Some will run back to the entrance of the map on their own, but gain the ability to not attract the attention of any enemies along the way (even if they were kidnapped by them in the first place). Some will require you to escort to the door, but what is never explained with any of this is how they are able to get back to civilization from places such as tiny deserted islands, forests full of monsters, or even alternate friggin' dimensions.
  • Heart of Darkness: Andy manages to escape a cell and subsequently traps The Servant inside. The Servant somehow manages to get out of the cell to presumably cross the River of Fire, make his way all the way to the Magic Lake, and bring the Magic Rock all the way back to the Lair in the time it takes Andy to traverse 5 areas.
  • In World of Warcraft, NPCs frequently fail to attract the attention of wandering monsters (unless, of course, you're on an Escort Mission). Particularly bad when, say, you've just freed a guy from a spider's web in the middle of a giant nest of giant, giant spiders, and the NPC goes "W00t! Thanks!" (literally) and runs off... through the spiders. Apparently trusting so much in his NPC ability that he doesn't even pause to go "Whoa, I'm surrounded by spiders and obviously not out of the woods yet...." On the other hand, who can argue with the lack of an Escort Mission when it might logically have been there? In the Siege of Ogrimmar raid, especially near the end when Thrall is already there to confront Garrosh after you defeat the previous boss, with no apparent way he could've gotten past that.
  • Navigating the world of the Pokémon games requires the use of hidden machines (HMs), special items that allow Pokemon to perform actions outside of battle (such as cutting down trees, pushing boulders, and scaling waterfalls). These items are implied to be quite rare and can only be used once the local gym leader is defeated. Despite the fact that the games constantly throw Broken Bridges in your way that can only be circumvented by using the HMs, all random folk seem to have no problem going from town-to-town at a moment's notice.
    • Not to mention how Blue/Green manages to beat every single Gym before you, even though he gets his first Pokemon at the same time you do.
    • You, the player, are actually able, and sometimes required, to invoke this trope with the Fly HM.
    • In the postgame of Pokémon X and Y, Malva tells you to hurry to your next destination while she continues to lounge around in her chair. When you get there, she is already waiting for you, but actually gives you kudos for getting there so fast.
  • Rather beautifully played with in Shadow Hearts: Covenant; when you run into the Recurring Traveler Magimel brothers in the Neam Ruins, they complain about having had to go through all of the dungeon's puzzles in order to get there ahead of you. Shadow Hearts: From The New World plays it mostly straight, where that gay couple appears everywhere ahead of you.
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police
    • The unnamed TV Studio Director from the Telltale games is able to teleport between sets in the studio, depending on where the titular protagonists happen to be. As expected for the game, Sam Lampshades the ability at the first available opportunity.
    • Sam & Max themselves, given that they are able to drive their (apparently normal) car to seemingly anywhere (including the moon!) in a matter of minutes, with no explanation.
  • Rogue Galaxy is absolutely ridden with this. One particular example includes a frail and sickly woman and her child, who are searching for her husband who just happens to be a member of your party, of course, appearing in a lot of places. These places include factories filled with rampaged robots where even the police forces are wary of entering, plazas where the random encounters include aggressive junk colossi, and even haunted and cursed castles that you had to personally unseal to get in!
  • Played with in both Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. The main character must reach a destination in adventurous ways by solving various puzzles, and once they arrive, another character that they'd left at the starting point walks in, telling them that there was a shortcut. After that, the shortcut becomes usable.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl: The Pokémon Trainer does this in the adventure mode, hiding out in the background while his mons go through all sorts of traps.
    • This is also quite strange in many moving stages, such as Port Town.
    • Often the Trainer will have a platform in the background platform that follows the stage.
    • This was initially supposed to be averted in the Adventure mode, as Pokemon Trainer has Dummied Out animations for jumping and falling along with the running animations he usually uses in the normal battle mode, meaning he'd at least appear to be following along in the background.
  • LEGO Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge: When the mayor informs Pepper to head to Res-Q base to get a boat, not long once Pepper reaches the area, the mayor had already reached it first.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: Parodied. The character giving your introductory tutorial (Jack) says he'll meet you up ahead. The only way to progress is to lockpick a door. As you approach the door, you hear breaking glass. When you open the door, Jack is standing by a broken window in the room, and remarks, "Uhh... shortcut."
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: You can have a race with the running man, but, no matter how fast you are and despite never seeing him pass you, he will always be present at and end up beating you by "one second" to the finish line. This was done because the developers couldn't think of any reward to give the player for beating him, ergo, there's no way to win.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages: Ralph dashes away from the guy with the Harp of Ages, and yet somehow still manages to find his way four hundred years into the past.note  Linked games can make this weirder, with Rosa somehow finding her way into, and then out of, the past with no explanation. Ambi, who is from the past, can wind up in the present in Seasons, though at least she mentions she asked Nayru to send her there. Maple appears in both time periods as well, commenting that she flew through "some weird portal".
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: Go to any of the islands that is marked as Beedle's Shop Ship location, and Beedle will always be there waiting for you. Even if Link teleports from one Beedle location to another.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: A similar character called the Postman appears. At any given time, he can be found in five separate places in Hyrule, even if you teleport directly from one to another. In one such case, he's at the bottom of a pit guarded by a small army of just about every enemy there is.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
      • Beedle is always found at whatever Stable you visit even if you teleport — leave him at one end of the map and warp right to the furthest stable from there and you'll find him already waiting for you. This is made stranger by the fact that he carries around a big, heavy backpack that makes him a very slow walker.
      • Kass, the Wandering Minstrel, will always arrive in certain places before Link does, no matter where you saw him last. It's more logical in his case, as he is a Rito and presumably just flew there — unless, again, you teleport.
  • Broken Sword: The Angel of Death: Nicole inexplicably shows up after George successfully enters the Vatican from the monks.
  • Resident Evil: This occurs quite often. One wonders why the other characters are carrying around spare wolf emblems, tiger eyes and hexagonal cranks let alone get past all those deadly creatures. Gets even worse when it's a child around eight doing it while you've just had to walk through the horde of the undead. Partly understandable with Wesker and Barry in the first game as Wesker would probably have extra keys and maybe gave some to Barry.
    • Not to mention the fact that in almost every game in the series, other characters can explore areas that are closed off to you, usually because of moving walls, secret passages, and doors that require specialized keys hidden in obscure and inconvenient places. How Wesker/Barry, for example, got into the crypt in the remake before you unlocked the door is a question with no apparent answer. Ditto the Chained Creature, who can apparently navigate the entire mansion grounds despite the fact that it's in shackles that constrict its movement considerably and most of the important places in the game are sealed off with locked doors the player inevitably gets the keys to. Ditto Steve in Code Veronica, who gets ahead of you without the items needed to open the pathways.
    • The Dark Id of Let's Play fame notices this a lot in his playthroughs. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Ada turns up ahead of the player character a lot in Resident Evil 4, despite the game's very linear nature. Possibly justified in that she has a Grappling-Hook Pistol.
      • In fact, when you play the shorter game "Separate Ways," which features Ada's storyline as it runs concurrently with Leon's, you find out that this is exactly the case.
      • The Merchant is either a case of You ALL Look Familiar or he somehow always stays one step ahead of the player with enough spare time to set up gun shops or shooting galleriesnote  Some odd places he meets the player include the bottom of a spiked pit, and behind a giant door that had to be blasted open by a cannon. Judging by his glowing eyes and pallid skin, he's likely infected with Las Plagas, so everything that's hostile to humans ignores him. How he's able to keep control of himself is another story.
    • Resident Evil Village has its own merchant, The Duke. His ability to consistently get ahead of Ethan is more inexplicable than 4's Merchant, since he's noticeably obese. He does have a carriage (with no horse), but he frequently appears without it in places it wouldn't be able to get to. At least he's established to have a business relationship with the Lords of the village, explaining why nothing attacks him. Unlike the Merchant, he's completely invulnerable. You can't shoot him, but explosives will be shrugged off with nothing more than a little coughing, so there's definitely more to him than meets the eye; we just never see it.
  • Onimusha: For a franchise founded on Rule of Cool, this is par for the course. However, it gets a bit out of hand in Demon Siege, when Jacques keeps running into Heihachi while traveling beteen feudal Japan and France.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Daggerfall, one merchant/innkeeper quest involves killing harpies in a dungeon (they want just the harpies killed?) but, later, you are asked you to save a mercenary who had been hired before you to perform the same task. Who wasn't there the first time.
    • In Oblivion, a certain side-quest gives you the option to either have a corrupt Watch captain assassinated or locked away. If you choose the latter, he will eventually break out and attack you at a random point, armed only with a silver dagger. Hilariously, this can happen anywhere in the game world, including at an Ayelid ruin filled to the brim with nether liches and skeletons.
    • In Skyrim:
      • It's common to find NPCs deep inside dungeons beyond a variety of locked doors, unsolved puzzles, deadly traps and monsters. Even when the NPC turns out to be a corpse with a helpful journal explaining how it all went wrong, there's no explanation for how all the doors were re-locked, traps and puzzles reset, or indeed how they got past so many monsters before succumbing to a single weak one.
      • Early in the main quest line, you can only get through a dungeon by using your special powers, the point being to prove you really are the Dragonborn. Except you find at the end that the item you were sent to collect has already been taken by a regular human with no special powers at all, or indeed the key to the un-pickable door encountered along the way.
  • Something similar happens in Fallout 3, during the "Replicated Man" sidequest. A short period after starting the quest, you'll be approached by an android-sympathizer who urges you not to enslave the missing android. The character starts out in Rivet City and will follow you throughout the entire game world until she catches up to you, and so can appear in any location including in the middle of nowhere, deep inside a Deathclaw-infested death town, or in the middle of a battlefield between Super Mutants and Talon Company. Amusingly, she DOES NOT take a shortcut, and instead travels through the game world normally just like you do. As a result, she'll often cross paths with and get attacked by random monsters just outside your line of sight (however, she's invincible until she talks to you).
    • Your father, James, who, if you follow him to Rivet City will fight anything along the way, and will not die. Yes deathclaws, radscorpions, molerats, bloatflys, everything.
    • The Enclave enter Vault 87 through the main door, despite the astronomical radiation levels and the impassible (to the player) outer entrance door.
  • Castlevania:
    • As Alucard puts it in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, "The castle is a creature of chaos." It's as good a justification as any for how the NPC population beats you to the next stop - to them, the castle had more straight paths. In Maria's case, one might wonder how a 17-year-old arrives in places ahead of you, taking the same paths you do, but her playable appearances prove she's very agile and can dash across rooms in seconds.
    • In Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, Shanoa frequently rescues villagers - including frail old women, children, and cats - from monster-infested locales, with each and every one of them saying that they'll head back to the village on their own... and then arriving there far quicker and presumably easier than Shanoa ever could. While some are found right at the exit of an area, meaning travel to the village wouldn't take too much time, but considering you find one girl in a hidden room in an underground, underwater cavern from where getting out would take a long, long time of swimming underwater.
      • It's implied that villagers all have Magical Tickets, allowing them to teleport back from the village right from where they're found, but if they're actually using them or not is never said. Then again, they're all descendants of the Belmont family, so it makes sense they'd be badasses.
  • Justified most of the time in Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights. The Knights and those aligned with them can open the puzzle doors since they put them there to begin with, and Gustav never actually uses doors.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy II has at least two of these. You go on an arduous quest to get a magic torch that will allow you to enter Kashuon Castle. When you finally get in, you discover that you were beaten by a guy who had the sense to rappel inside instead of hunting down the stupid torch.
      • The whole reason you need to do this quest is because this guy, who is only one capable of opening the door without a key, is not in your party. He gets a What the Hell, Hero? speech if you go back to talk to the princess, since she blames him for Josef's death on the mission to retrieve the torch.
      • You travel all over the world to get the special items that will allow you access into a tower. When you get to the top of the tower, who do you find waiting for you? The wimpy white mage. No explanation is given.
    • In Final Fantasy IV DS, the character formerly known as Namingway always seems to be one step ahead of you, despite being a cute little bunny travelling by himself in a world chock full of nasty monsters. Completing his sidequest reveals he has the "No Encounters" Augment active, and he gives it to you as the final quest reward.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, Kefka somehow manages to beat you to the Esper World despite the only known path to reach the gate was still lined with all the traps.
      • Likewise, Locke has ransacked the Phoenix Cave treasure chests and is found at the very bottom by the time you get there. Inexplicable, since the cave is rigged with paths and obstacles that can only be overcome with two separate parties.
      • At the very end, after defeating Kefka, any characters that you left back at the airship (if you recruited all 14 members, at least two will be left behind) suddenly run into the site of the Final Battle just so they can accompany you on the way back and take part in the credits. In their defense, all the switches and traps in the tower have been turned off by the invading parties, so these characters probably took advantage of the clear paths.
    • Final Fantasy VII has a minor case. Early on in the game, Cloud stays the night at Aerith's house before going back to Sector 7, and Aerith's mother asks him to leave in the middle of the night without telling Aerith. Cloud complies, and you can still see Aerith in her room when Cloud leaves, but when you head over to the exit to the sector, you'll see Aerith waiting for Cloud.
    • Final Fantasy X has Yuna and her team of Guardians battling monsters all the way on a dangerous pilgrimage. This doesn't stop a variety of NPCs, including a rather meek nun and a simple merchant, from following her and even arriving before her at certain places. This is justified. The party is only followed up to the Calm Lands, which means the followers had to cross to Macalania, which is relatively safe compared to end-game areas, except for the odd Malboro or Basilisk here and there. Yuna and her team only encounter more dangerous foes when they go off the normal pathways of Spira (Bikanel Island or Mount Gagazet for example) or are facing boss monsters. In FFX-2, there's more shortcuts throughout Spira than before, and in general the areas are logical in where you see the harder foes (major pathways across Spira, such as the Moonflow or Mi'hen Highroads, are pretty safe, while out-of-the-way areas like Macalania are more dangerous.) Also, they can simply run from monsters as is pointed out by a boy at chocobo road.
  • Shannon of Quest 64 appears in every Inn and some other places. Although it becomes obvious near the end of the game how she does it, it makes no sense for a very long time.
    • You can also teleport with wings for all but one ruined town to save time. Shannon's somehow there too, but this one isn't explainable...
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge, Sally will be waiting at the end of the Hinterlands, even though Jack has to unlock several doors and fight through several monsters to reach it himself. Also, Mr. Hyde will appear in Christmas Town before Jack, even though before Jack arrived there was no door, thus there was literally no way to get there.
  • In Quest for Glory II, Ad Avis teleports to Iblis just before you reach him.
  • Spider-Man (PS4): No matter how time pass after their arrival at the shipyard, the Demons manage to get into Fisk's vault, sell what weapons they can find and get out before Spider-Man and Officer Davis reach them.
  • Silent Hill:
    • Silent Hill: Played straight. It's not clear how Kaufmann managed to get to the Resort Area before Harry did, considering that the only way to get there is to go through a sewer that was locked until Harry bashed the gate open. With Cybil, it's justified as she specifically says she followed Harry through the sewer after noticing the gate was cut.
    • Silent Hill 2: Justified. You run into little girl Laura several times, and she seems totally unaware of the monsters running around. This is because she's a little kid, and as such doesn't have the issues the rest of the cast does, which is why the monsters manifest. To her, Silent Hill is a regular town.
  • Skies of Arcadia: Zivlyn Bane. No matter how secluded, how secure, how impossible it's supposed to be to get to a certain area, even if you're supposed to be the first people to have reached the place in centuries, There will be one treasure chest in that dungeon where you have to fight him over a piece of Shop Fodder. Even in the heart of the Negative Space Wedgie. (Perhaps he's a stowaway on the Delphinus. It's the only explanation.)
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars: Toad manages to make it towards the second-to-last room in the game's Final Dungeon, which is in the middle of Smithy's factory.
    • Paper Mario:
      • Paper Mario 64: When the repetitious annoyance Jr. Troopa shows up yet again near the end of the game outside Peach's Castle. You've spent the entire game getting the Plot Coupons needed just to get to this place, and yet he gets there apparently without any problem. When Goombario examines him with the Tattle ability, he lampshades this by saying: "You've got to love this guy's effort, Mario. To follow us all the way here? What dedication! Come to think of it, how do you think he got here, anyway?" Of course, it is never explained.
      • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: Done twice in the same dungeon. In the Final Dungeon, no matter how quickly you get to the final room, Grodus will always get there ahead of you, despite probably entering after you and apparently having to go through the same traps and obstacles (although there's a few theories on how this is possible; it's implied that because he tricked you into opening the door, he followed you in and went down the stairs after you solved the puzzles, leaving behind the Shadow Sirens as a diversion). Secondly, after defeating Grodus, Bowser and Kammy Koopa will fall from the ceiling and fight you, so while you had to go through traps, Bowser just smashed his way through.
      • Also there's the Pit of 100 Trials. Throughout the dungeon there's the same guy who seems to get ahead of you even though you pass him repeatedly. He literally claims to know the shortcuts and, for a small fee, will let you "take the shortcut" down some levels. He makes you cover your eyes, so you don't see that he can freaking teleport.
      • Super Paper Mario: Mario's ability to flip between 2D and 3D is a unique or very rare ability that he's been given. We still often see objects and people in the third dimension with no explanation as to how they flipped, and people and objects in places that can only be reached by flipping to 3D.
  • Cave Story: No matter where you go, Curly Brace will get there ahead of you. However the shortcuts appear rather tough on her, since she's usually heavily injured by the time you get there.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World has this at the end of the Temple of Lightning, where after getting three different forms for your one-of-a-kind Sorcerer's Ring, you finally unlock the door to Tonitrius' core...only to find that Decus and an NPC researcher are already there.
  • Serious Sam 2: A simba shaman even says "I think I'll take a shortcut" when teleporting out.
  • Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune: In one stage, your opponent, Gatchan, appears to quit in mid-race, coming to a stop. A few kilometers later, he reappears from an off-ramp just in front of you...even though he slowed to a stop in his Toyota Celsior and had to drive through non-highway roads while you barrelled through twisty tunnels at over 200 km/h.
  • In MySims Agents, there's an area that you have to get to in order to meet "Mr. Suckers", at the request of Clara, a girl at the beach. First you have to gather the elements of a tea party and show them to her, at which point she sets off. If you haven't done anything over there yet, you then have to move a rock so you can use it to jump higher up, move the rock again so you can get up even higher, move two blocks into a stone wall so that you can use them as steps so get over it, pick a lock, and cross a tide pool. When you arrive, you find that Clara is already there. You can ask her how that was possible; she says she got a ride from Mr. Suckers, a kraken who loves tea and whom she's learned how to understand.
  • One of the many unanswered mysteries of Albion is how did that lone druid end up at the end of the labyrinth, crawling with demons and seeded with deathtraps and forcefields that even a rescue party including a seasoned warrior, an experienced adventurer with a gun, a talented sorceress and two other guys could barely survive?
  • Dragon Quest VII has the Sphinx, which the enemies have supposedly taken over. You still can't get past a locked door and reach any bosses until you solve a puzzle, which is almost standard for video games, but you can't even try to solve the puzzle unless you provide a Plot Coupon which is unique in the game and which the player has.
  • In Half-Life 2, Alyx will always arrive before the player, regardless if she has to infiltrate a heavily-guarded enemy stronghold or navigate a battlefield armed with only a pistol. Although the game often shows that her mastery of Le Parkour allows her to take more obstacle-free paths that walking tank Gordon Freeman is unable to access.
    • The game's narrative also does a good job of setting these up, generally realizing she needs to meet up with Gordon when she's already near/at the obstacle that serves as your rendezvous.
    • This is also practically the G-Man's signature move. Even in the first game he would show up in places he couldn't possibly have reached by conventional means and seemingly vanish into thin air. Justified in that he seems to be some kind of extra-dimensional traveler.
  • Magnus does this a few times in Jet Force Gemini. "I move pretty fast, I know."
  • At the end of F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, you fight your way through a city infested by Replica Soldiers and supernatural monsters to make your way to the Telesthetic Amplifier chamber at the heart of the Mega-Corp's secret base that will give you the power to defeat Alma. Suddenly, Corrupt Corporate Executive Genevieve Aristide shows up, shoots your partner, and screws up your entire plan. Exactly how a 50-year-old suit armed only with a pistol managed to make it alive through a city turned into Hell On Earth, while you barely made it through even with superpowers and a squad of crack Special Forces operatives on your side, especially considering she needed your help getting past every other tough situation she got herself into earlier in the game, is never really explained.
  • Golden Sun:
    • Averted in Golden Sun: The Lost Age. The party travels through a cave which contains several seemingly useless puddles. You later learn that the party was followed by a Water Adept, and if you think about it, those puddles are necessary for him to get through on his own.
    • And a similar case in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, a trail of water puddles can create a shortcut around a particularly long dungeon, answering the question of how an NPC group (with a Water Adept) was able to beat your party (without a Water Adept) to the end without solving any traps. Later on, when you get a Water Adept in the party, you can use the shortcut to your heart's content (which is handy, since the plot blocks off the previous way you got through).
    • It's often played straight by the villains. Notably, Saturos' party is able to enter Venus Lighthouse despite none of them knowing Reveal, which is required to open the doorway. Their successors, Agatio and Karst, are able to navigate the Jupiter Lighthouse without the aid of a Jupiter Adept, despite needing one being the reason Saturos kidnapped Sheba to begin with.
  • In Singularity, mild-mannered, unarmed physicist Dr. Barisov somehow manages to get around just as well as your character, a heavily armed special forces soldier, despite the island of Katorga-12 being a virtual Death World crawling with homicidal mutants. This is especially jarring if you factor in all the Apocalyptic Log journals telling how all the other inhabitants of the island ended up hunted down and killed by the mutants in the days following the explosion of the Singularity. There's also the fact that it's heavily implied that Barisov managed to survive on the island for 50 years, and even went around building upgrade stations at various key points to help your character out.
  • In Professor Layton and the Curious Village, Layton and Luke enter a mysterious tower through a wall opened by a key, and ascend floor by floor through puzzle-locked gates... yet they run into NPCs from the town, and wonder how they got there. It turns out that the entire population of the town, save Flora and Bruno, are androids, and each is part of the Baron's test to see who would best be able to care for his daughter. This makes a few scenarios more plausible.
    • Pavel from the original trilogy also fits this trope, often being found inside places that Layton and Luke can't enter until having solved a puzzle or more. And his sense of direction is so bad he never knows how he ended up there.
  • Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals (Nintendo DS version): Half the party gets teleported ahead, and the rest needs to follow them down a lava-filled temple. You need to drain some of the lava to be able to go lower, yet the teleported members were already down there.
  • Perfect Dark inverts this when Joanna is escaping dataDyne HQ. Cassandra Devries and some of her henchmen stop you on the top floor - she starts Monologuing with you for a while before her henchmen open fire. She then leaves through the only exit to the roof. After beating the henchmen, Joanna leaves through the same exit where there's no sign of Cassandra on the roof - until she gets to the helipad, where Cassandra then appears behind her.
  • In God of War II, the Captain of the Spartan army somehow manages to work his way past the traps and enemies of the Palace of the Fates in order to encounter Kratos.
    • In God of War (PS4) and God of War Ragnarök the shop NPC's Brok and Sindri are frequently able to get ahead of Kratos and have fully setup blacksmith shops in the most unlikely of places. Justified by Dwarfs having methods to travel using secret inter-dimensional pathways.
  • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando: The Mystic is found on both Tabora and Grelbin. Fly directly from one to the other, and he's still ahead of the duo, ready and waiting.
  • One quest in The Reconstruction involves trailblazing a previously untraveled mountain pass. One of the obstacles you face is a camp of bandits. This is Lampshaded in the narration.
  • Lampshaded in Math Blaster: Ages 9-12. You play the game with a single Blaster-Pal, but during each playthrough's final level the other two show up. The Blaster-Pal you came with asks them how they got here so fast. One of the best responses comes from Blasternaut:
    Blaster: We took a cab.
  • Several times in Mass Effect 3:
    • In Prologue: Earth, the young boy somehow gets from one high-rise building to the top of an adjacent building just before Shepard and Anderson arrive. A few minutes later, the boy gets to the evacuation shuttle just as Shepard boards the Normandy. Since no one else ever interacts with him and he appears in Shepard's dreams later, it's not clear if he's even real.
    • During the Ardat-Yakshi Monastery mission (if she's alive), Samara somehow makes it past waves of Banshees and gets to key locations before the player (Falere, the bomb). That said, the game does provide an explanation for at least some of her ability to get around faster than the party.
      Shepard: Could you learn to float down off a rail like that?
      Kaidan: Well, not in the next ten minutes.
    • During the walk to the control panel inside the Citadel near the end of the game, Anderson somehow makes it to the control panel ahead of you, even though (a) the location he tells you he landed in is nowhere to be seen, (b) there is no visible path besides the one Shepard travels, and there is only one way to said panel, (c) Shepard can be halfway to the panel before Anderson finishes describing the surroundings of the room he landed in, and (d) he doesn't bother to wait for you before venturing on ahead, and gets controlled by the Illusive Man just as you arrive. This did not go unnoticed by the fans.
  • Lampshaded in Edna & Harvey: The Breakout when you convince an NPC to help you with repairing a car. He tells you that he will wait for you in the garage, even though the only way to get there leads through the same room you will probably go to next. Edna asks if he is able to teleport himself, to which he replies that either he is able to or the developers were just too lazy to draw a walk cycle for him.
  • The Minstrel from Romancing Saga appears in almost every town in the game, acting as Mr. Exposition and party ditcher. Though it appears he's Elore the lord of all gods, whose job is to guide you to beat the Big Bad, so the teleportation may be justified.
  • Played upside down in Baldur's Gate II. The game starts with Imoen coming out from a door and then freeing the main character from imprisonment. She explains that she managed to escape as her cage was broken during the disarray caused by a sudden external attack on the dungeon. However, the room she came from only leads to a single hallway ending with a magically sealed door that you can't bypass (you can only open it by activating a specific golem whose command stone was removed and put in a locked room) and there aren't other cages in the map except those in the starting area around the main character. Where did she come from?
    • Anyway, if you dismiss any of your initial companions and tell them to go alone, you will find them safe outside the starting dungeon, one in particular activating a crucial cutscene for the plot. Thing is, the only possible way to escape that dungeon is by using a single-copy magical key that you find in a locked repository and take with you...
    • If in chapter 6 you convince Drizzt to help you against Bodhi, you will find him and his companions battling vampires in one of the rooms of the enemy's lair. Precisely, the one on the left side of the map that is beyond a hidden passage that you have to unlock. And after you met am hostile welcoming party that was explicitly waiting for you. He obviously took a shortcut!
  • Dragon Age: Origins gives no explanation whatsoever how Sandal Feddic (the lyrium-addled dwarf boy who enchants things for you) managed to beat the Warden and party to the entrance to the boss room of The Very Definitely Final Dungeon. Also there's the room full of butchered darkspawn corpses you find him in with a single explanation straight from Sandal himself: "Enchantment!". Cue Epileptic Trees.
  • Zacharie, the Meta Guy merchant in Off, mentions when you meet him that "[he'll] always find [himself] in places you're going to visit before you arrive." In addition, in area 1 Zone 3, he says he'll race you to area 2, offering a free item if you beat him. When you arrive in area 2, he's already there, and mentions that you had no chance of success because it was scripted (but he gives you the item anyway).
  • In Live A Live, Pogo first falls down a Trap Door and then has to jump over the hole. His companion Gori doesn't jump over it, but backs out of the cave and then mysteriously reappears on the other side.
  • Undertale: Sans does this a lot.
    • He bypasses human-trap puzzles devised by his brother (who wonders if he has a shortcut, and claims he himself just jumps over them). Sans "just appears on the other side" immediately. If he has a pedestrian shortcut, he is extremely quick about it.
    • On several occasions, he takes the player out to dinner through what he calls a "shortcut" (such as walking in the opposite direction of a settlement that has a restaurant, and coming to the restaurant in question anyway, or passing through a perfectly-ordinary (if examined later) brick wall to end up in a resort cafeteria).
    • And there's one screen where he appears on the right side, and then on the left side as the player walks and he leaves the frame, only asking if the player is following him. Sans is known to get places without actually moving, and is intensely disliked by a fellow sentry who can only see moving things.
    • He appears in a volcanic settlement in his sentry station that still has snow on the roof. It's implied jokingly that he is just too lazy to shovel the snow off himself (which doesn't explain how the snow survived), but a better explanation is that he can bring things (and people, like the player) with him through his shortcuts.
  • Lampshaded in Stinkoman 20X6, where Stinkoman declares that he'll find a way out of the Collapsing Lair and that 1-Up and Pan Pan should "meet [him] in the next cutscene safe and sound". Indeed, we don't see 1-Up and Pan Pan escape, but there they are in the next cutscene, safe and sound.
  • Geralt's mount in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is always a couple of metres away from him and out of sight whenever he whistles to call it, even if Geralt had left it standing on the other side of the sea he has just crossed on a small boat. The character entry suggests that being around witcher magic a lot has something to do with it. Lampshaded in a Blood and Wine mission where he gets the ability to hear his horse and asks how she appears across oceans. She doesn't give a clear answer, just that being there is what she is expected to do.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: League of Legends: Played for Laughs in "Everybody Wants to Be My Enemy". Caitlyn initially suggests that her and Vi take an elevator-like "Bathysphere" into Zaun, while helping an elderly yordle board it. Vi instead opts to go down the old-fashioned way, and Caitlyn reluctantly decides to follow her, with frequent cuts between Vi effortlessly leaping across the rooftops and poor Caitlyn fearfully stumbling after her. By the time an exhausted and nerve-wracked Caitlyn reaches Zaun's streets, the old yordle she had helped is walking past the alley she and Vi are standing in, meaning she could have just taken the Bathysphere to get there in the same time without the hassle.
  • The Simpsons, of course, parodies/lampshades this trope in "Two Dozen And One Greyhounds." Confronted by Mr. Burns in his mansion, Bart and Lisa dive into the laundry chute to escape. When they get to the basement...
    Lisa: Quick! Let's get the —
    Burns: Going somewhere?
    Bart: That's impossible! How did you get here first?
  • The pilot episode of Jackie Chan Adventures: "I took the stairs."
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The laws of physics are optional for Pinkie Pie, so she does this whenever it suits her. Rainbow Dash may be the fastest pegasus in Equestria, but that makes no difference if Pinkie wants to find her. Wherever Dash goes, Pinkie is already there, waiting for her.
    • The same applies to her sister, Maud Pie.
  • Mickey Mouse:
    • House of Mouse: In the short "Mickey's Mountain", Mickey and Pete try to be the first to reach the summit of Unnamed Mountain first to have it named after them. When they finally make it, they find Minnie, who says "I took the ski lift".
    • In Mickey and the Seal, the seals from the zoo are able to beat Mickey and Pluto home after they return Salty to his enclosure.
  • CatDog: In "Climb Every CatDog", CatDog tries to scale Mount Nearburg and beat Cat's rival Mindy Wonderful. They beat her there, but they are both beaten by Dunlap, who was waiting to return the climbing equipment they left at the store.

Alternative Title(s): Take A Shortcut