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We Have Forgotten the Phlebotinum

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The heroes find themselves in a situation that would be difficult for normal mortals; but for them, it should be relatively easy. They have standard Applied Phlebotinum for this situation...

Only this time, they don't have it. The heroes are aware of the Phlebotinum, and how helpful it would be in this situation, but they realize that they have forgotten to bring it. Someone left it at home, or in the car, or someplace else that they can't get back to at the moment. Or maybe it, or its keeper, has been stolen from them. Our heroes will have to think of another plan...

Not to be confused with Forgotten Phlebotinum, where the writers unintentionally forget they've previously created an easy solution to the present conflict. This trope is for times when the writers intentionally have characters leave the phlebotinum behind and thus currently don't have it handy.

See also Left Your Lifesaver Behind.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The show Doraemon frequently uses this. You'd think with 2,000 gadgets the main characters have plenty of things to defeat the enemies with, but as it turns out all the useful things are broken and being repaired.
  • A Fairy Tail omake has Lucy and Happy go try to exterminate poisonous rats in an old mansion. However, their only tool is a fly swatter, as Happy is in spaz mode and Lucy forgot the keys she needs to use her summoning magic.
  • Happens three times in fairly close proximity in Dragon Ball Super: The first time the heroes faced Goku Black, Goku forgot to bring the Senzu Beans, forcing them to retreat when they all got injured. Later, the heroes decide that the best way to deal with the immortal Zamasu is to trap him using the Mafuba (Evil Containment Wave) technique, but when they arrive in the future, Goku Black blasts the time machine...with the jar they need still inside because Goku forgot to bring it with him. Future Trunks manages to repair the jar with superglue and uses the Mafuba, but unfortunately for them, Goku also forgot the Paper Talisman (this time leaving it at Kame House in the main timeline).
  • Black Lagoon: The manga version of the Abu Sayyaf arc has the militants pursue the Black Lagoon at sea and try to head them off with a hijacked freighter. Rock suggests they torpedo it like they did the helicopter in the first chapter, but Dutch says he sold off the torpedoes since then because it's not like they're expecting to fight a naval war (which isn't unreasonable: the unguided WWII-era torpedoes they had would be next to useless against the similarly sized boats they're more commonly up against, and getting rid of them saves some weight). Rock and Revy MacGyver a makeshift torpedo to sink the freighter out of a harpoon gun and several blocks of Semtex.
  • Pokémon the Series: Black & White: One of Ash Ketchum's most embarrassing moments was in "Dazzling the Nimbasa Gym!" When he battles Elesa, his Palpitoad gets knocked out. It turns out he only brought Palpitoad with him, forcing him to take a time out to go to the Pokemon Center to get his other Pokemon.

    Fan Works 
  • At one occasion in Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Kyon forgets his coat and weapons after leaving for school in a hurry. It becomes critical when the Combine attack the school, and causes Nonoko's temporary Magical Girl upgrade.
  • This My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan comic gives an explanation as to why the Mane Six didn't take Sombra down within 10 seconds of meeting him: they left the Elements of Harmony behind in Canterlot.

    Films — Animated 
  • Megamind: The villainous main character has a weapon that would easily defeat his opponent, except he left it in the invisible car and forgot where he parked.
  • Aladdin: Al leaves Genie's lamp in his room while he looks for Jasmine; next thing he knows, Evil Chancellor Jafar uses the lamp to take over and send him to places that 9th-century Arabs didn't even know existed!
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Magical Movie Night: In "Movie Magic", the human Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle are the only members of the group who brought the amulets that allow them to use their powers. As a result, catching a thief is made a bit harder. After this incident, the other girls resolve to wear their amulets more often.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Serenity: "It'd sure be nice to have some grenades right about now..."
    • Made funnier by the fact the captain made him leave them behind in the first place.
    • Later:
    Mal: Tell me you brought them this time.
    (Jayne throws some grenades.)
  • Jarringly played in The Giant Spider Invasion, where the two science types come up with a machine to Reverse the Polarity and send the spiders back to their home dimension or something, but on the way to use it against the spiders, they realize they forgot it at the lab and have to go back.
  • Deadpool has lots of guns, as shown in a Lock-and-Load Montage, at the ready for when he's ready to kill Francis and save Vanessa... which he forgets in the cab that he takes to the final confrontation.

  • In A Brother's Price Jerin gets into a situation where he is in danger of being raped, but he didn't think that would happen, so he left his Chastity Dagger behind.
  • Subverted in Dragon Bones. Ward gets into a tricky situation. Should be no problem, because one of his companions is a powerful mage? The problem is, the mage has no idea where Ward is. However, Ward still has that ring, to which the mage is enslaved (ancient magic, Ward didn't do it himself, he just inherited the ring). He tries to call Oreg, who indeed arrives, in a rather bad condition as he can't spend time away from his master ... not comfortably, at least. However, he recovers and then helps them escape.

    Live Action TV 
  • In a classic Doctor Who episode, the Doctor and Sarah Jane are locked in a prison cell, and are trying to open the door. When Sarah Jane suggests using the sonic screwdriver, the Doctor tells her, "It's in the TARDIS," and she groans.
  • Defied in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Avenger 2.0". Felger and Sam go to an alien planet to deliver an antivirus that would solve the problem of the week. At the last minute, Felger's assistant Chloe stops him to remind him to actually bring the CD that the antivirus was on.


    Western Animation 
  • In one Animaniacs episode, Wakko and Dr. Scratchensniff get stuck in the elevator. Scratchy suggests to Wakko that he "pull something big and silly from your gaggy bag" to help them. Wakko responds that he didn't bring it.
  • FuturamaLove's Labours Lost in Space: Bender forgets to replenish the ship's dark matter fuel. Luckily it turns out their newly acquired Team Pet Nibbler excretes it.
  • Rick and Morty: In "Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender", Rick/Morty and the Vindicators arrive at Worldender's stronghold, only to find him already dying, and a "Saw" trap left for the Vindicators by Rick himself while blackout drunk the night before. While more-sober Rick would normally be able to resolve the situation with his portal gun, he accidentally leaves it on the Vindicator ship.