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Can Deus Ex Machina be a YMMV?

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Sep 13th 2021 at 11:55:49 PM

I ask this because of a recent mild edit war that took place on a ymmv page.

Basic context was, the end of a particular story met many of the criteria for a Deus Ex Machina. IE, main character suddenly gained great and unforeshadowed power at the end of the story, powers suddenly working in previously impossible ways due to influence of minor character, etc.

Others disagreed, so I figured that it would fit best as a YMMV entry, but they said that Deus Ex Machina wasn't a YMMV trope, but in the it says that almost anything can by a YMMV trope, but it's best to be cautious.

Deus Ex Machina is largely dependent on relative judgements of what qualifies as sudden/unexpected. IE, if a character is showing whistling to summon crickets, and at the climax whistles to summon loads of crickets or really big crickets, that's foreshadowing. If they whistle and somehow summon a Kaiju, that's Deus ex Machina.

So my basic question is, can Deus Ex Machina be a YMMV trope?

Edited by xlblplk on Sep 13th 2021 at 11:56:31 AM

SeptimusHeap from Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Sep 14th 2021 at 12:44:23 AM

No, one should not use a YMMV page for a non-YMMV trope.

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." - Richard Feynman
Sep 14th 2021 at 8:44:22 AM

While some narrative tropes may be applicable to a ymmv subject matter (such as Be Careful What You Wish For), they are not to be used as the header trope on the ymmv page.

One rule is that Tropes Are Not Arguable. A trope either happens or it doesn't. In the case of Deus ex Machina, the trope lists multiple qualifiers on what it has to be (a hopeless situation, a solution to a problem, outside the control of the characters). Based on your example given that sounds more like 11th-Hour Superpower.

If you're joking that's cruel, but if you're being sarcastic well that's even worse!
Fighteer Lost in Space from The Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
Lost in Space
Sep 14th 2021 at 12:54:43 PM

Moving to Trope Talk. No, an objective trope cannot be YMMV. If there is a discussion over whether an example qualifies for Deus ex Machina, it should be worked out first and then added (or not).

"It's Occam's Shuriken! If the answer is elusive, never rule out ninjas!"
Sep 14th 2021 at 7:44:54 PM

@Emerald Source - 11th Hour Superpower certainly is its own trope, but the extent to which something is foreshadowed very much determines whether or not it's a Deus Ex Machina. There are multiple examples of Deus Ex Machina(the Bleach examples stand out) that are basically just poorly-foreshadowed 11th Hour Superpowers.

@Fighteer I'm sorry, but that just doesn't make very much sense. One of the primary requirements of the Deus Ex Machina trope is fundamentally subjective. Being 'sudden or unexpected' is a subjective determination. For example, if there's a character who can summon metal weapons, only at the end, there's an enemy that's immune to metal weapons, only for that character to summon a weapon made of MAGICAL metal, which then works. Was that foreshadowed? Or is that a deus ex machina? That's a perfect case for a YMMV trope, imo.

EDIT: As a further example, the second or third item on the Deus Ex Machina page is as follows:

"At the end of Dave Duncan's tetralogy A Handful of Men, the heroes are in a totally hopeless situation. Thanks to his army of sorcerers with loyalty spells on them, the Big Bad has become the most powerful sorcerer ever. He's even become more powerful than the main character was at the end of the previous series - and said main character was a demigod (one Power Level higher than a sorcerer) who only avoided a Superpower Meltdown because his Love Interest managed to depower him before he burst into flames and died from it. Having been on the run from the Big Bad throughout the whole series, the heroes have finally been captured and are about to be killed. They end up being saved when two of the heroes achieve the Power Level above "sorcerer" without having a Superpower Meltdown by becoming a complete god instead of a demigod, and proceed to free everyone from the Big Bad's Mind Control sorcery. Several of the main characters knew how to do this, but, normally, becoming a full-fledged god means that you Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence and simply stop caring about what happens to mere mortals, so it's never mentioned as a way to stop the Big Bad until it happens."

Now, that's clearly an example of something that was somewhat foreshadowed beforehand. However, there is disagreement on whether it was SUFFICIENTLY foreshadowed. Another example:

"In The Blue Sword by Robin Mc Kinley, the main character, Hari, is vastly outnumbered by the enemy army but she sends her ragtag group of friends out to fight them anyway. Then, most of them die, and she gets super upset. She climbs to the top of a convenient cliff that wasn't there a minute ago, and uses her amazing magic powers that she didn't know she had to bring an entire mountain range down on the enemy army. Wouldn't it have been nice if she'd done that to begin with? Now, it was shown that Hari had some magic she was being trained in low-level magic!"

Again, a case of limited, but subjectively insufficient foreshadowing.

Another, from the Anime section, Bleach-specific:

"Ulquiorra reveals that he has a second, more powerful transformation and deals Ichigo a fatal wound. Suddenly, Ichigo's hollow takes over, and turns into a super form that tears Ulquiorra apart. While the hollow had been shown to transform as Ichigo gained power, nothing suggested that it could bring him back from the brink of death."

The story in question DID show that the hollow could staunch and heal wounds, and the character HAD gotten stronger, but to some viewers, it was not sufficient foreshadowing. To others, it was.

I could go on. The point is, Deus Ex Machina is a fundamentally subjective judgement, and therefore really should be a YMMV trope.

Edited by xlblplk on Sep 14th 2021 at 8:03:12 AM

Sep 14th 2021 at 8:56:03 PM

That's not how YMMV works. YMMV is about fan behavior and reactions, like Memetic Mutation. It is not about a subpoint someone can debate over, because Tropes Are Flexible and may be exaggerated, downplayed, subverted, invoked or Played for Laughs.

Deus ex Machina is one of the most well documented narrative tropes, going back to ancient Greece. There is the possibility of a bad example, but the trope is not subjective in any way.

If you're joking that's cruel, but if you're being sarcastic well that's even worse!
ArsThaumaturgis Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
Sep 15th 2021 at 3:27:55 AM

Hmm, thinking about it, "value judgement" is a little more specific than merely "arguable". Thus perhaps the sort of debatability that xlblplk is describing doesn't fall under it.

Should such debatability be considered "YMMV"? That's another question—and one outside the scope of this thread, perhaps.

So, I retract my previous argument, but leave the original post below for transparency.

[up] While "audience reaction" is one form of YMMV entry, it's not the only one. As per the YMMV page, another is:

The article might call for a value judgment and your judgment call could be different from another troper's.

That seems to be the sort of thing that xlblplk is referring to.

Now, as to whether Deus Ex Machina might fit that description, that discussion I won't weigh in on right now, I intend—I just wanted to address the question of what does and does not fall under "YMMV".

Edited by ArsThaumaturgis on Sep 15th 2021 at 12:31:26 PM

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RainbowPumpqueen Fat baby from The Dark World Relationship Status: In Spades with myself
Fat baby
Sep 17th 2021 at 8:21:08 PM

If we did make Deus ex Machina a YMMV trope, how would it be different from Ass Pull?

Fanservice Cleanup, My Wall
Sep 22nd 2021 at 4:08:01 PM

Pragmatically speaking, there wouldn't be much of a difference. But pragmatically speaking, many of the existing Deus Ex Machina listings would better fit on the Ass Pull page or Eleventh-Hour Superpower already.

Perhaps Deus Ex Machina should be further clarified to remove debate? Clearly ruling out cases of Ass Pull and defining Deus Ex Machina as, perhaps, only clear intentional uses?

Because right now we're seeing a LOT of overlap with Eleventh-Hour Superpower/Ass Pull.

WarJay77 The better black suit Spidey from The Void Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
The better black suit Spidey
Sep 22nd 2021 at 4:15:25 PM

Think about it like this. Deus ex Machina is the act itself. Ass Pull is the reaction to the act- what people think about it.

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