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Quotes / For Want of a Nail

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    Anime & Manga 
We're standing here now because so many... just so many things happened to line up. So I wonder... If even one thing was missing, would the world have turned out different?
Miyamura, Horimiya

    Fan Fic 
One wrong risk, one misplaced trust, one careless guess is enough to destroy the one thing you can least afford to lose.
Bella, narrating, Luminosity
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    Film 
But, you only learn that when you start losin' stuff. You find out life's this game of inches, so is football. Because in either game - life or football - the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don't quite make it. One half second too slow, too fast and you don't quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They're in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch. On this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when add up all those inches, that's gonna make the fucking difference between winning and losing! Between living and dying! I'll tell you this, in any fight it's the guy who's willing to die who's gonna win that inch. And I know, if I'm gonna have any life anymore it's because I'm still willing to fight and die for that inch, because that's what living is, the six inches in front of your face.
Tony D'Amato, Any Given Sunday

"So if the rat never walked across the controls of Pym’s van, would the whole universe have remained dead? Who is this rat? Is rat the most important character in the MCU? When will Disney make a movie about this rat? Could this feasibly be the same rat from The Departed? Oh shit, is this the Ratatouille rat?"
Matt Miller and Dom Nero, "50 Important Questions We Have After Avengers: Endgame," Esquire

Every man on that transport died. Harry wasn't there to save them, because you weren't there to save Harry!
Clarance, It's a Wonderful Life

    Internet 
"Does the ship have issues? Yes, it does, and if you've gotten past Act 5 you know how it ends. It's...not pretty, and if you don't ship it, there are perfectly good reasons for that. However, in other worlds and universes, they could have been happy. It doesn't always need to come to a tragic, bloody end."''
— Blogger sonicsymphony explaining their shipping preferences

If [Jess Harnell] weren’t stuck on that island, he could have done great things like announcing "America's Funniest Videos", voicing thousands of commercials and promos and starring on countless cartoon series and animated feature films like “Animaniacs”, “Transformers”, “Drawn Together” and “Finding Nemo”. He even could have gotten to live in an awesome house that looks like a spaceship, drive a beautiful car and work with many famous and important people, none of whom would ever admit to having worked with him. But none of that happened because he got shipwrecked. Damn that f%&#ing island.
— Jess Harnell's Bio on rocksugarband.com

It's possible that at the end of it, we'll know [Andy Reid's] Chiefs as one of the all-time great NFL dynasties. Largely because of Andy Reid, who surely would've been snatched up by another team had the Chiefs not had a head coach vacancy in 2013. Which they only had after firing Romeo Crennel. Who was only there because of a signature win as an interim coach. Which he only was because Todd Haley was fired days prior. Which he only was because at that particular time in large part because the day before, his team made what might be the most undisciplined defensive stand in NFL history. Thank you Todd!

    Literature 
There are these moments in your life that seem totally innocent at first, you know? Like normal everyday life. But then it's like you stepped off a cliff, and before you know it you're falling. Suddenly you realize your innocent little decision has gone spinning out of control. I had decided to sneak into a concert. I had not decided to uncover one of the greatest secrets of human history, or become the person who would decide the fate of an entire race. I just wanted to hear some music. It should have been no big deal.
Animorphs #10: The Android

And the Bastard grant us, in our direst need, the smallest gifts:
the nail of the horseshoe,
the pin of the axle,
the feather at the pivot point,
the pebble at the mountain's peak,
the kiss in despair,
the one right word.
In darkness,
understanding.

20:18.
A red warning light failed to go on in the drive room, beginning a chain of events which would lead, in a further twenty-three minutes, to the total annihilation of the entire crew of
Red Dwarf.
Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers

    Live-Action TV 
Daisy: One regret can't change an entire life. It doesn't change who you are.
Dr. Radcliffe: Of course it can! One person in your life? One decision? One sentence has the power to change you forever.

"Every great decision creates ripples, like a huge boulder dropped into a lake. The ripples emerge, rebound off the banks enough to see the waves. The heavier the decision, the larger the waves, the more uncertain the consequences."

"Should a traveler appear earlier in the timeline of his own existence, he would be but as a pebble, cast upon still water... but the ripples he creates would over time radiate upon far distant shores, geometrically altering events in its path."
Einstein, Farscape

Sometimes a small thing can have large repercussions. If the driver of Franz Ferdinand hadn't been momentarily lost, World War I would have likely been delayed and taken a different form. If a cat hadn't been so crappy when it was trying to scratch up a bird with its claws, the human watching it wouldn't have been inspired to create the cotton gin, which is considered by many to have been a contributing cause of the Civil War. It's been said that one of the Roman spies, observing a horse being bothered by some flies, was given the idea of how to get into the off-limits area of Carthage and would help ensure Roman victory over their mortal enemy. You're about to witness something greater than all of them from an act probably even smaller... and nobody knows it.
(Chiana spills a drink on a Peacekeeper commando, and apologetically wipes it off - taking the opportunity to steal the key to the commandos' secret cargo off him in the process)
And there it is. You have just witnessed the event that will change the galaxy.
SF Debris reviewing Farscape - "A Bug's Life"

Now that they've escaped, change is inevitable. Scorpius needs that wormhole technology to use against the Scarrans, and his interest in Crichton is going to compel the Scarrans to take their own interest, until the Moya crew are pulled into the midst of this massive power struggle throughout the series in the desire to secure the knowledge from Crichton. This wouldn't happen if Scorpius hadn't pursued him, and he wouldn't have done it if Crichton hadn't wound up in the Aurora Chair at this particular base, which he wouldn't have done except to save Aeryn from a mortal wound... a wound she wouldn't have acquired if Chiana hadn't decided to open that crate. As I said, from little things...
SF Debris, reviewing Farscape - "The Hidden Memory"

"What happens if Bobo causes one of those weird numbers where he goes back into the past and steps on a butterfly or something, and because of that mammals as we know them never evolve, and because of that mankind never invents slot machines, and my favorite hobby goes straight down the toity, huh?!"

Tim: Did you notice that everything that transpired in those three films - and I mean everything - can be attributed to the actions of one very minor character?
Brian: Who's that?
Tim: The gunner on the star destroyer at the beginning of the first film.
Brian: What do you mean?
Tim: Because, if the gunner had shot the pod that C-3P0 and R2 were in, they wouldn't have got to Tatooine, they wouldn't have met Luke, Luke wouldn't have met Ben, they wouldn't have met Han and Chewie, they wouldn't have rescued Princess Leia. None of it would have happened.
Spaced S-1 Ep. 5, Chaos

"There are threads of my life that I am not proud of. But I found that when given a chance to pull at one, it undid the tapestry of my entire life."
Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Tapestry"

"The Jean-Luc Picard you wanted to be, the one who did not fight the Nausicaans, had quite a different career from the one you remember. That Picard never had a brush with death, never came face to face with his own mortality, never realized how fragile life is, or how important each moment must be — so his life never came into focus. He drifted through much of his career, with no plan or agenda... going from one assignment to the next, never seizing the opportunities that presented themselves. He never led the away-team on Milika III to save the ambassador, or take charge of the Stargazer's bridge when its captain was killed. And no one ever offered him a command. He learned to play it safe. And he never, ever got noticed by anyone."

Annorax: Four billion years ago fragments from that comet impacted a planet. Hydrocarbons from those fragments gave rise to several species of plant life which in turn sustained more complex organisms. Ultimately several space-faring civilisations evolved and colonised the entire sector.
Chakotay: By erasing the comet I altered all evolution in this region.
Annorax: Past, present and future. They exist as one. They breathe together. You're not the only person to make this mistake. When I first constructed this weapon ship I turned it against our greatest enemy, the Rilnar. The result was miraculous. With the Rilnar gone from history, my people, in an instant, became powerful again. But there were problems. A rare disease broke out among our colonies. Within a year, fifty million were dead. I had failed to realise that the Rilnar had introduced a crucial antibody into the Krenim genome and my weapon had eliminated that antibody as well.
Chakotay: And you've been trying to undo that damage ever since, but each time you pull out a new thread, another one begins to unravel.
Star Trek: Voyager, "Year of Hell"

"Well, you see, that's another reason I can't help you catch this guy. I might adversely affect the fate of the future. I mean, his next victim might be the mother of the daughter whose son invents the time machine. Then the son goes back in time and changes world history and then Columbus never discovers America, man never lands on the moon, the U.S. never invades Grenada. Or something less significant resulting in the fact that my father never meets my mother and consequently, I'm never born. So when do we start?"
Clyde Bruckman, The X-Files, "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose"

    Music 
"For the want of a marker
"The doctors lost their place
"For the want of a cutline
"They couldn't lift his face
"For the want of a facelift
"His ratings dropped
"Then the Sitcom folded
"Then the network flopped"
The Newsboys, "It's All Who You Know"
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    Other 
I made a big decision a little while ago,
I don't remember what it was, which prob'ly goes to show
That many times a simple choice can prove to be essential
Even though it often might appear inconsequential.

    Tabletop Games 
"You don't have to change much to change everything."

    Theatre 
Jared: You know, when you really stop and think about it, Connor being dead, that's pretty much the best thing that's ever happened to you, isn't it?
Evan: That's a horrible thing to say.
Jared: Well, but, no, think about it. If Connor hadn't died, no one would even know who you are. I mean, people at school actually talk to you now. You're almost... popular. Which is just... wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles.

    Video Games 
"What if the entire map is contingent upon me doing this correctly, and I can't, because of a flower? What if a flower just screws up time? The time itself is ruined all because of a flower! This one stupid flower, it ruined the universe! Timespace continuum is broken because of this one flower! I can't do anything! That's it, folks, that's all."
Jordan Maron, on his Let's Play of a Minecraft custom map. note 

But that first play through will almost inevitably end with all four characters dying horribly on their mission.
The trick is that how they die furnishes the player with conversational clues; in my case, they were all cut down by something called an AEGIS defense system. On my next try, I could input that name to get them talking and strategizing about how to deal with it, increasing their odds of survival.
The full sweep of the game is not a single ten minute cycle, but rather the iterative process of living, dying, learning from your mistakes, and repeating.
Katherine Cross describing the game One Last Cup (warning: spoilers for Puella Magi Madoka Magica)

There once was a servant who didn't know how to read. The day came where his master asked him to read something for her, to which he replied, "I'm sorry, my lady, I can't read." That reply immediately got him fired. So he went out in the streets looking for a tea house to relax and accept the bad news. When he couldn't find any, he reckoned he probably wasn't the only one to wish there was a tea house in his small town, so he opened up his own. It really picked up, so he built many more, and became rich in the process. One day, his accountant asked him to review a piece of document, to which he replied he didn't know how to read. The accountant, who couldn't believe his ears, said, "If you became a millionaire without even knowing how to read, just imagine where you would be if you could read." "Oh, I know exactly where I would be," the rich man replied. "I would be a servant."
The Shopkeeper, The Messenger (2018)

Lovrina: The plan is perfect! ...XD001's condition was off by just a little tiny bit.
Naps: Being off by just a little tiny bit was enough to make it drop a ship? And would you look at the uproar...

That day, if our positions were switched...Would our fates be different. Would I have your life, and you mine?
Vergil, Devil May Cry 5

Some believe the fate of our worlds is inflexible. My employers disagree. They authorize me to nudge things, hm, in a particular direction from time to time.
The G-Man, Half-Life: Alyx

In the first reality...you all didn't become as good friends with Estelle and Joshua. Or with Renne, either. So that night, the four of you went in alone, and Renne never came to help...
KeA, explaining the original outcome of the infiltration into the Sun Fort, The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure

    Western Animation 
"Break the sound barrier and there's a sonic boom. You broke the time barrier, Flash, time boom. Ripples of distortion radiated out through that point of impact, shifting everything just a tiny bit. But enough. Enough for events to happen slightly different."
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