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Shaggy Dog Story / Film

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  • The Aristocrats is a film which features many stand-up comedians, comedy writers, and other entertainers and celebrities all performing variations on the same shaggy-dog joke, "The Aristocrats". The joke has long been a sort of "secret handshake" between fellow comedians, or an impromptu contest of improvisational skill. The structure of the joke is thus: a man goes into a talent agent's office, and describes (or performs) his "family act" for the talent agent. The content of the act is improvised by the teller of the joke, usually (but not always) involving as many varied, violent, obscene, or offensive acts as possible. The punchline, when the talent agent asks what the man's act is called, is "The Aristocrats!"
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  • In the Disney live action-animation mix Bedknobs and Broomsticks, most of the movie is spent searching for a powerful spell which could help the English in World War II, but upon obtaining the needed object containing the spell's magic words and returning home, they discover that they can't take objects from one world into another, making their excursion into cartoon land pointless. Not only that, but they later find out that the magic words were all in the children's book, making it a double shaggy dog story.
  • Big Fan: Paul spends the movie being tight-lipped about exactly what happened with Quantrell Bishop because he doesn't want the New York Giants to lose their star player, and lose the upcoming championship to the Philidelphia Eagles as a result. However, when he drives to a sports bar in Philadelphia to watch the game, the Giants lose to the Eagles.
  • Extra Ordinary (2019):
    • The reason why Rose and Martin go around town exorcising ghosts is to collect their ectoplasm to undo the Gloating Christian put onto Sarah. By the time they manage to collect the seven jars of ectoplasm, Christian undoes the protective binding spell and has her float to his mansion.
    • Even better, it is revealed that Sarah wasn't even a virgin, the Hellgate spitting her back out unharmed when Christian tries sacrificing her.
  • In Horse Feathers, Chico explains how he goes about kidnapping someone; call them on the phone, and then send his chauffeur. Groucho asks what kind of car he has, and Chico says he has no car, just a chauffeur. Groucho wonders why someone would have a chauffeur without a car, and Chico replies that he couldn't afford both so he sold the car. Groucho says he would have sold the chauffeur and kept the car, but Chico says he needs the chauffeur to take him to work. Groucho asks how he does so without a car, and Chico says it doesn't matter because he doesn't have a job.
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  • The Killer ends with one of the protagonists dead, the other wrecks his career by killing the Big Bad right in front of the cops he's surrendered to, and the damsel in distress is doomed to go blind, not even able to salvage the eyes of her dead love interest, because he got shot in the eye.
  • The Killing: all that meticulous planning, all those moving parts, all that split-second timing required for the racetrack heist to go off successfully, and it does... only for the gang to all be killed save two men, one of whom lives to see his wife betray him and ends it all for them both in a murder suicide, and the other who comes this close to escaping with all the cash, only to see it disappear right and front of him and the police track him down, all because of the interference of an actual, four-legged shaggy dog.
  • Mr Jones (2019): Not only nobody believes Gareth's revelations about the secret famine in Ukraine, but trying to discredit him was for naught, too. The British government choose to not believe the truth about the Holodomor is order to maintain an alliance with Stalin against Hitler; in 1939, Hitler and Stalin signed an alliance anyway.
  • A classic example of this trope is found in the Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera. Groucho and Chico spend several minutes haggling over a contract. Chico keeps objecting to the terms, and Groucho keeps tearing off the sections that Chico won't agree to. Finally, nothing remains but the space where Chico has to put his signature, and Groucho hands him a pen. "I can't write," Chico admits sheepishly. "That's all right," replies Groucho, "There's no ink in the pen, anyway."
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: The entire subplot of Calypso's release which actually adds nothing to the ultimate outcome of the war except to have everybody on both sides, on every individual side, running around for a while as she comes close to choosing a side and destroying the rest, instead of everyone. The filmmakers suggest that the maelstrom scene was designed so that she would "Provide the arena," which pretty clearly translates to, "Yeah, we weren't really sure what she was doing in our script either."
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Sao Feng's charts, a downplayed case, introduced in At World's End as a device that could provide destinations for future sequels, ended up being destroyed at the start with Gibbs simply explaining that he memorized the whole thing. The passing of the knowledge that was hidden within them renders them redundant though they at least led on the mysterious waters.
  • The Sword in the Stone: Nothing that happens in the film seems particularly relevant to Arthur actually drawing the Sword from the Stone. Merlin's lessons are obviously going to have a big effect on the kind of King that Arthur is going to become, but the film stops at that point.
  • For most of its plot, Velvet Goldmine finds Christian Bale as a journalist tracking down the whereabouts of a clone of David Bowie, who had disappeared ten years earlier after faking his own death. He interviews his former manager, ex-wife and eventually his artistic collaborator and lover (himself a knockoff of Iggy Pop) only to come up empty. There are hints that he resurfaced as a different pop star but nothing is confirmed. And then there's the bizarre and inexplicable implications that Oscar Wilde was an alien.
  • The French movie Chacun Cherche Son Chat (Released in English as While the Cat's Away) plays with this - most of the cast of the movie is looking for the protagonist's missing cat. The cat turns up on its own, midway through the movie, but it hardly ends the movie.
  • Cabaret, to an extent. The real tragedy of the story is that almost nobody learns anything about how dangerous the Nazis are, except for the protagonist, who can't really do anything about them except leave Germany.
  • The Finnish Affectionate Parody film Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning ends with Pirk, Dwarf, and Info trapped in Hawaii during Earth's Ice Age. Info says that if he goes into low power mode he can survive until modern day, at which point he will prevent everything in the film from ever happening... pan out... credits. To make the story even shaggier, it's implied that since during the panout, you can see space debris that resembles the space station seen earlier in the movie, they're actually in the NEXT Ice Age with no chance of preventing the events and Info was lying just to give them some vague sense of hope and/or prevent Pirk from somehow making things even worse.
  • The Final Destination series movies are about a group of people who somehow escaped death and then find themselves dying from improbable accidents one after another. They spend the movie trying to figure out death's plan and finding a way to defy it and live. They invariably fail and succumb to the inevitable.
  • Monster a-Go Go, the monster movie where it turns out that there was no monster at all.
  • The climax of Medium Cool is set in motion by a search for the female protagonist's son. Later, he turns up safe at home. His mother and her boyfriend die in a car crash.
  • The film of The Bonfire of the Vanities attempts this by changing the book's ending.
  • The Big Lebowski follows a bizarre and convoluted Random Events Plot where ultimately the protagonist fails at everything he tries to do. Not only that, most of it turns out to have been completely pointless to begin with: the kidnap victim was just on an unannounced vacation, the ransom notes were sent by opportunistic thugs pulling a con, the Briefcase Full of Money had been empty from the start, and the guy he was working for was just setting him up as the fall guy to cover for a bit of embezzlement. His car has been destroyed, his apartment trashed repeatedly, he's been drugged once and beaten several times, his best friend has caused much of the above by Millstoning him at every turn, his other best friend is dead from a heart attack, and he never got his freakin' rug back (mostly because he never lost it). All he has to show for the entire movie is a night of sex with the admittedly pretty hot Maud Lebowski and potentially an illegitimate child he'll never see. But hey, The Dude abides.
  • A Serious Man has one scene where a rabbi tells Larry Gopnik about one of his friends, a dentist, who found Hebrew script meaning "Help me, save me" inscribed on the teeth of a gentile customer of his. The rabbi describes many unsuccessful attempts the dentist makes to figure out the answer, until his story peters out. When the main character demands a resolution or message to the story, the rabbi simply states that there is no ending or message. The point of the story was that sometimes things happen for no reason, and we have to accept that.
  • Viewers of The Man Who Knew Too Little argue on whether this makes the film better or worse. The plotline is an American in London taking part in what he thinks is a live-action spy adventure, unaware he's involved in a real spy mission with actual killers about. At no point in the film does Wallace ever discover that he's fighting with real assassins and that others think he's an unbeatable superspy. Critics argue that it turns the movie into a series of gags with no payoff of Wallace freaking out upon realizing the truth. But some dispute this is what makes the movie work, avoiding this cliche and more fun to imagine how long after the credits roll and his training in a real spy agency before it finally sinks into Wallace that this is not some acting gig.
  • The 2005 The War of the Worlds. Aliens land and proceed to royally kick the shit out of America with superior technology. In the end, the aliens lose because they weren't immune to Earth-born diseases, as with the original novel.

    Despite this, the film actually does manage a more climactic ending that the book lacked: Ray destroys one of the Tripods from within, without benefit of any disease, and in this version the aliens aren't outright defeated by disease so much as severely weakened by it, so we get to see the humans deliver a Curb-Stomp Battle of their own before the end.
  • The late-60s Israeli comedy Sallah Shabbati uses one of these as a side plot: the poor immigrant's latest scheme to get cash (so he can get his family out of the refugee camp and into an apartment) is to answer a newspaper ad asking for a dog. When he shows up at the posh Tel Aviv house with a stray he found in the camp, the woman there reacts in horror: "That's not my Pookie!"
  • Big Deal on Madonna Street: The last shot about sums it up: a closeup of a newspaper article about an unknown person or persons who climbed in the window of an apartment, broke down a wall and ate some pasta.
  • Kandahar, which is about a woman who needs to get to Kandahar before her sister, who had both of her legs blown off by a mine, commits suicide. The movie is about her travelling around trying to meet her sister before the date when she said she'd kill herself - but sadly the woman is arrested while trying to cross a border checkpoint. and that's the end
  • A Time for Drunken Horses, which if I remember rightly has two little boys on their own without a family, who begin smuggling goods over a snowy mountain pass with horses. To help the horses survive the bitter cold, they are given alcohol (making this movie a case of Exactly What It Says on the Tin). One day they are smuggling a haul and they give the horses too much alcohol and the horses collapse. The end.
  • My Own Private IdahoWoobie male prostitute with narcolepsy is looking for his long lost mother with the help of a friend of his. Wherever he goes his mother has just moved on. Eventually he and the friend end up in Italy, where it turns out his mother has just left. The friend then decides to abandon him, and the movie ends with him dumped on a road, alone and asleep, having never found his mother.
  • The Pledge: A detective is obsessed with catching a serial killer of children. He sets what he thinks is an infallible trap...The killer never shows up. Years later, after the detective has ruined his life out of despair, it turns out that the killer was in a car crash on the way to the rendezvous.
  • In Eyes Wide Shut, Bill suspects that his wife is having an affair and gets himself embroiled in some dark sexual circles while trying to sow his own wild oats. It turns out that his situation was not nearly as dark as he thought it was, he decides against having sex with anyone after all, and his wife was never disloyal to him in the first place.
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy and the Nazis spend the whole movie fighting over the eponymous MacGuffin. Then at the end, the Nazis get the Ark and open it only to be swept away by The Wrath Of God. As is often pointed out, Indy could have done nothing and the movie would have still ended the same way.
    • Debatable, since according to Word of God, Hitler didn't really intend to use the Ark's power as the artifact was merely a symbol; this aligns with real life as Hitler seeked Hebrews artifacts to rewrite history and demonstrate the power of the Arian race, not because he actually believed in their powers.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is similar in that the villain does succeed in the end, and is destroyed by doing so, meaning the same thing would have happened had Indy stayed at home. Still, both of these stories end with him hooking up with Marion, so at least they are good for his social life.
  • To an extent Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is one as well. It turns out the Mcguffin can't leave the temple it's in, so the Nazis were again wasting their time and a good number of people died for precisely nothing. Although Indy does at least fix his relationship with his father during the adventure.
  • In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy had no reason to go on her whole adventure to find the Wizard and kill the Wicked Witch of the West. The only thing she needed to get home was right on her feet the entire time. As comedian Dennis Miller noted: "So Glenda appears at the end and says, 'You had the power to go home all along!' Many viewers wanted Dorothy to look at her and say, 'Yeah, bitch? And you had the power to tell me that two hours ago!" This is an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole resulting from the movie combining the book's two Good Witches into one - in the book the first witch legitimately didn't know how the slippers worked, while the second one, who only shows up at the end, did.
  • Burn After Reading ends with the CIA director and Palmer sitting in an office contemplating what the heck happened. The only thing they learned, they muse, is to not do it again, if only they knew what, if anything, they did to cause the whole thing in the first place.
  • The Britney Spears road trip movie Crossroads has this times three, with three childhood wishes: Lucy wants to reunite with her Missing Mom, Kit wants to get married, and Mimi wants to be a singer. Near the end of their journey, Britney learns her mom wants nothing to do with her (Caroline doesn't want any reminders of her slutty past(!)); Kit discovers her boyfriend is a cheater, and Mimi is just not that good at singing.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Not that the plot matters much but it is ostensibly about King Arthur's quest for the Holy Grail which Arthur takes seriously whether anybody else does or not. When he gets to the final climactic battle charge, he's arrested by modern-day police officers because a knight earlier in the film killed a historian narrating the tale.
  • Count Rugen is thrilled at the prospect of pulling this in The Princess Bride. Inigo's father was murdered in front of him (by Rugen) when Inigo was eleven years old, then he challenged the murderer to a duel and utterly failed, getting twin scars on his face. Burning for revenge, he spent twenty years doing nothing but studying fencing and swordplay for a rematch, which leaves him broke and working for the evil Vizzini to get by, hired to help kill an innocent girl to start a war. When that job fails, he's left drinking himself into a stupor, until it turns out that Rugen is nearby! But the man who might be able to plan an assault to reach him is mostly-dead, and getting him healed costs Inigo and Fezzik their last funds. Still, he's able to get into the castle and dramatically face Rugen at last — where he gets pinned to the wall by a thrown dagger to the gut.
    Count Rugen: I think that's the worst thing I've ever heard. <*Beat*> How marvelous.
  • Uncut Gems revolves around a shady New York jewelry shop owner with a gambling addiction trying to pay off his debts to his Loan Shark brother-in-law. Despite having the money at several points, he repeatedly makes gambits to get even more that backfire every time. At the end of the film his brother-in-law and his two bodyguards go to confront him during another one of his gambles, and he locks them in a security cage in his shop waiting for the game he bet on to play out. It works, but the bodyguard he annoyed throughout the film finally had enough and shoots him and his boss who didn't want that and tried to run before looting the store with his partner.
  • Two-Lane Blacktop: The film centers on a cross-country race between a mysterious man and a pair of street racers. Along the way, a girl gets mixed up between the two parties, but she eventually just leaves. We never find out the mysterious man's backstory, and both parties forget about the race before anyone wins.
  • A very unusual example is The Usual Suspects; the ending reveals that the entire movie was one great big pack of unbelievably audacious lies having almost nothing to do with reality, but this revelation actually sheds a fascinating new light on what has been happening.
  • U Turn. Bobby (Sean Penn) finds himself in a lot of trouble by accident due to a misunderstanding and is just trying to make his way out of a nasty town when he gets the mob onto him. His only exit out is his car, but then it breaks down and he needs to get it fixed. Meanwhile people are trying to kill him, and the girl he falls for turns against him and is out to kill him too. When the car is finally repaired he finds she stole his keys. Out of desperation to get out of this town he strangles her to death and retrieves the keys. As she lays dying, he finally makes it back to his car to drive off only to find the mechanic who repaired his car duped him and it breaks down again. He resigns himself to his fate.
  • In Duplicity, Ray, an ex-MI-6 agent, and Claire, an ex-CIA agent, are each working for separate cosmetics conglomerates; Ray for the one owned by Richard, and Claire for the one owned by Howard. Except Claire's really working as a double agent on behalf of Richard, and Ray and Claire plot to steal a new formula Howard's company is developing so Richard's company can beat them to the punch. Except Claire and Ray are really working together on their own, and want to steal the formula themselves and sell it on their own. Except there IS no formula; Howard just wanted to make Richard look foolish by having him chase his tail, and he succeeds in fooling Claire and Ray as well.
  • The World War II docudrama Conspiracy (2001) plays with the illusion presented to the Nazi ministries that they were collected to provide their genuine opinions on the "Jewish Question", and to determine policy. By the end it becomes clear that the gas chambers have already been built, the SS organized the meeting simply to bully everyone into line, and disagreement was futile from the very start.
  • The Earth civilians that manage to land on Elysium (after sacrificing quite a bit just to even try) only to be immediately arrested and deported...if they were lucky.
  • Inside Llewyn Davis follows this pattern, as is typical of the Coen Brothers. After a week of travel and worries, by the end of the film, Llewyn is in just as bad a position as the beginning, having been left beaten in the alley at the back of a folk club. The film even possesses a Finnegans Wake - like cyclical nature to it, illustrating the cycle of mediocrity that the main character has found himself in.
  • At the end of Smokin' Aces, when everything is revealed it transpires that the hit was one big mistake resulting from a mis-overheard conversation; Lazlo Soot was the only one actually hired and that was not to kill Israel but to abduct him. The Bureau then decided it only wanted Israel for his heart to save his Mob boss father and all the dead FBI agents died because they weren't told. Messner is so upset that his partner died just to save the life of the Mob boss, who he doesn't think will give up any useful information, that he pulls the plug on both him and Israel, making everything that happened for nothing.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • X-Men: The Last Stand: The entire movie. The cure is temporary.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past, partly in the sense that Wolverine was sent to the past to get Charles and Erik to put their differences aside. While they do ultimately succeed to prevent Mystique from assassinating Trask, Erik still pulls a Heel–Face Door-Slam.
      • And the entire movie is this in light of Logan, which reveals that Wolverine literally went against time itself to try and save mutants from dying off, only for just that to happen.
  • At one point in It's Pat!, Pat finds out that some people can't tell whether Pat is male or female, so Pat goes to a hair stylist and says "I want to look more like my own gender". The hair stylist, who is as clueless as everyone else about what Pat is, gives Pat both male and female haircuts, neither of which Pat likes but doesn't mention them not being the right gender. Eventually, the stylist reverts Pat's hair to its usual gender-ambiguous hairstyle, and Pat exclaims "it's me!"
  • The comedy film The Wrong Guy is an unusual variation in that it has one of these as a premise. The film begins with a man who discovers his boss has been murdered shortly after publicly threatening to kill him and, after blundering around doing seemingly everything he can to accidentally contaminate the scene, flees in a panic because he's convinced that the police will suspect him of murder and a Miscarriage of Justice will ensue. Only problem is, the police have ample evidence that he isn't the murderer, including video tape footage of the actual murderer committing the crime, and so aren't interested in him in the slightest. The rest of the film follows the man as he bumbles through his completely inept, pointless and unnecessary attempts to 'escape' while the disinterested police officer in charge of the case basically wastes time misusing funds for the investigation for his own personal advantage.
  • A scene in the 1934 comedy Six of a Kind has W.C. Fields deliver a physical-comedy variant, when his character is asked why he's called Honest John. It turns out simply that he once returned a man's glass eye, but he takes a long time to tell the story not only by drawing it out, but by simultaneously attempting a billiards shot while in an alcohol-addled state.
  • My Effortless Brilliance involves two men who are estranged friends at the beginning of the film and their attempt to find something in the tattered remains of their relationship. The film ends with them being just as estranged after not much of anything happens.
  • Much of the Random Events Plot of Ken Park is centered around trying to find out why the titular character killed himself. At the end, it's revealed he killed himself because he got a girl pregnant.
  • The Last Jedi has the entire Finn and Rose's subplot to Canto Bight. The original plan was to find and enlist a Master Codebreaker then sneak onboard Snoke's ship to disable the hyperdrive tracker, allowing the fleeing Resistance forces to escape. The plan goes wrong at every turn. Finn and Rose couldn't get to the original codebreaker and are forced to enlist someone else untrustworthy instead, who then betrays them to the First Order at the last moment to save his own skin. Worse still, it was totally pointless. General Leia and Vice Admiral Holdo already have a plan in motion to sneak the Resistance forces on small ships to a nearby planet while the First Order fleet is distracted by the big ships. Finn and Rose's mission almost derailed that plan when the traitorous codebreaker reveals it to Hux, which would have doomed the Resistance altogether had it not been for Holdo's spectacular Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The romantic dramedy Rocket Science has a young man battling his inability to talk in public in order to participate on a debate club contest so he can impress a girl he's smitten for (who is captain of his school's debate team), even enlisting the help of the previous captain of the team... and getting kicked out during his opening argument because the contest judges decided his application was fraudulent and the girl he liked revealing herself as an Alpha Bitch (and when he gives her a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, she ends up firing back a better response about how pathetic his behavior is). The Title Drop is the protagonist's father saying (while he's trying to reassure the kid) that life and love shouldn't be so absurdly complicated.
  • During the Japanese counter-attack in Hacksaw Ridge, the protagonist, Doss, encounters an injured medic from the unit that merged with Doss'. He attempts to administer aid, but the medic insists that the plasma infusion should go to someone who needs it more than he does. Doss then finds a wounded Andy "Ghoul" Walker and administers aid with the plasma, but a stray bullet ends up shattering the container. In the aftermath of the battle back at the wound station, it was revealed that the medic who refused the plasma didn't make it because he bled out.
  • Subverted by National Lampoon's Vacation. The film tells the story of the Griswold family as they travel across the country to the Walley World amusement park. Along the way, they encounter car trouble, lost credit cards, and a minor case of infidelity. They finally reach Walley World and discover it's closed for maintenance. The Subversion comes when Clark buys a BB gun, takes a security guard hostage, and forces him to take them on the rides.
  • Played for Laughs and invoked in Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Roger and Eddie get handcuffed together, forcing Eddie through a scene of wacky hijinx to keep Roger concealed. Once Eddie finally gets ahold of a way to remove said handcuffs, it turns out Roger can slip in and out of the cuffs at will — provided it would provide the punchline for a joke. In other words, the whole subplot was a shaggy dog story and Roger went along with it until the time for an ironic reversal came, at which point he provided it.
  • Atomic Blonde ends with Lorraine killing all the bad guys and successfully swindling both the Russians and the British out of the MacGuffin, giving it to her true allegiance, the Americans. However, the senseless bloodshed over said MacGuffin gets two complete innocents killed, one a valuable East German defector, the other Lorraine's new girlfriend Delphine, and she accomplishes her mission on the very day the Berlin Wall falls, meaning she and the rest of the gargantuan Cold War intelligence machine she and most of the other characters are part of will soon descend into irrelevancy. This is lampshaded several times throughout the movie, but none more blatantly than in the Big Bad's Motive Rant to Lorraine right before she puts him down - a former British operative, he'd realized that seemingly against all odds, the Cold War would end without a shot fired between Russia and the West, and all the hysteria was All for Nothing, leading him to Go Mad from the Revelation and swear allegiance to nothing but his own pocketbook.
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: Downplayed, but still probably qualifies. Why bother about all the spying if in the end it takes just a bit of Lorelei's charm to persuade Gus and his father that she deserves to marry into their family?
  • Once Upon a Crime sees three couples and George Hamilton travel to Monte Carlo and get caught up in a murder investigation. The movie follows their efforts to deflect blame and remove evidence pointing to themselves. In the end, the detective investigating the murder finds a clue that specifically implicates the victim's maid and butler, so there was no reason to suspect any of the others in the first place.
  • Play Dirty sees an Allied raiding party traveling behind enemy lines to blow up a fuel dump during the North African Campaign in World War II. Not only do they fail to do this (or anything useful at all, beyond killing a few unarmed medics and civilians), but it turns out the British Army has broken through the German lines and is only slightly behind the raiding party anyways, rendering the entire mission meaningless anyways.
  • At the climax of Avengers: Infinity War, Scarlet Witch is forced to destroy the Mind Stone, and Vision with it, to prevent Thanos from claiming it. Of course, by that point, Thanos already had all of the other Infinity Stones, including the Time Stone, which he uses to rewind time to before Vision was destroyed and rips the Mind Stone out of his head. This is probably a lot more palatable to audiences because this was only a sub-plot of a later story, and it's meant to be a heartbreaking defeat.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp revolves around the titular super-heroes working together to retrieve Janet van Dyne, the previous Wasp, from the Quantum Realm where she was trapped for decades. Only for their successful accomplishment of this goal to be rendered absolutely meaningless when Janet, her husband and her daughter are all reduced to ashes by Thanos' culling of half the universe's sapient life. Scott's now trapped in the Quantum Realm, with no idea what happened. Granted, this is corrected in the sequel.
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs's second segment, "Near Algodones", tells the story of a man whose hanging for failed bank robbery is interrupted when Comanche raiders kill everyone else but leave him there to suffer. After struggling not to strangle as his horse wanders around for hours, he's rescued by a rancher. Then the rancher turns out to be driving wrangled cattle, takes off when the law arrives, and gets the would-be robber hanged after all.
  • In Shaft (2000), Shaft tries to get a racist killer in prison, only for the killer to be gunned down on the day of his trial by the victim's mother, rendering the entire movie pointless. Though Shaft doesn't seem to mind anyway.
  • In The Guilty, Asger realizes towards the end that Iben was never in any danger and that all his efforts were in vain at best and made matters worse at worst.
  • In November Criminals, Addison spends most of the film trying to figure out why someone would kill his black friend, Kevin, despite the police and school just chalking it up to "gangs". After a relentless investigation, including doing a job for the gang in return for information, he learns that Kevin had been dealing drugs for the gang and was killed for disrespecting a dealer.
  • The 1959 movie The Shaggy Dog ends like this. Wilby helps break up a spy ring that's trying to steal a piece of missile technology, and recue the daughter of the spy, who he had a crush on. However, his father who was thought to be crazy is given credit for busting the ring, the girl goes back to her home country, and the girl that Wilby and his friend had been neglecting, ditches them, and starts dating some other guy.
  • In The Hugga Bunch, Bridget procures the youngberries to help her grandma, but drops them all on the way back through the mirror, making them disappear.
  • One of the biggest criticisms of Terminator: Dark Fate is that it turns Terminator 2: Judgment Day, one of the most beloved films of all-time and one of the greatest sequels of all time, into one of these by revealing that a mere three years later a T-800 terminator wandered up and murdered John Connor with no real difficulty, meaning everything they accomplished in Judgment Day was rendered completely pointless since John still died before he could lead the resistance and a murderous AI (albeit a different one) still caused The End of the World as We Know It. Fans, critics, and even Edward Furlong and Linda Hamilton themselves weren't fond of this one.
    Richard Roeper: Even though Dark Fate tosses aside the third, fourth and fifth entries in the series like a Terminator disposing of a hapless cop, it also undercuts the impact of the first film and the follow-up (which is one of the two or three greatest sequels of all time). First, they get rid of the John Connor character in almost casual fashion.
  • You Know from Keep Off My Grass! lovingly tends to his pot plant, hoping to become a pot magnate once it's legalized. Then he finds out it's just an ordinary weed, and everyone pretended it was pot to make him feel better.
  • The Hangover has four friends take a trip to Las Vegas because one of them is getting married and they're going to have his bachelor party. The morning after the party, the groom is missing and the other three have no memory of what happened the previous night. They try to track him down by investigating the leads they find in their hotel room, but wrap up all clues without finding him. Then, they remember there was one clue they never solved and look into it. It turns out that the groom was trapped on the hotel's roof the whole time and if they had just looked into that clue to begin with, they would have found him immediately.


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