7 of the most hugely contrived plot twists in TV shows

Ian Sandwell
Photo credit: FX/ BBC / Getty Images

From Digital Spy

We've all been there: watching our favourite shows and things are looking super bleak for the characters – then suddenly something comes out of nowhere to resolve the problem.

If you weren't aware, that's a deus ex machina (literally 'god from the machine'): a situation is resolved by something out of the blue with no build-up or connection to the action so far.

Some shows have knowingly used it over the years for comic effect – like Batman's Shark Repellent Bat Spray or Stargate SG-1's brilliant '200' episode, where the team on Wormhole X-treme! the show-within-a-show, spitballed incredibly lame endings for their programme.

But here we're focusing on the times where TV shows meant it seriously. It's not a gag, it's just remarkably convenient.

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon seems to be pretty fond of a deus ex machina with several examples in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, with the most blindingly obvious one coming in the very final episode of Buffy.

Not only does Angel give Buffy an amulet that *happens* to destroy the Hellmouth, but Willow discovers she can activate all the potential Slayers *at the same time*, which goes against the established rule that only one can exist at any one time (except for that time that Buffy died and Faith was activated).

How remarkably convenient.

2. Doctor Who

Ah, Russell T Davies and his fondness for a reset button, often in a season finale. We're going for 'Last of the Time Lords' where after a year of total domination over Earth, the Master is undone by his own mind-control network.

You see, Martha is able to use that network to give the Doctor a whole range of powers, as long as everyone on Earth thinks about the Doctor at the same time, restoring him to health and his David Tennant self and allowing him to defeat the Master.

How remarkably convenient.

3. Star Trek: The Original Series

Another show with a host of examples to choose from. The 'it's an amusement park' resolution from Star Trek: The Original Series' 'Shore Time' was a close second, but we're going for 'Operation: Annihilate!'.

In this season one episode, Spock is unfortunately infected with alien parasites. It's okay because bright light can kill them, only it will leave Spock blind. Fortunately, he's Vulcan and it turns out he has inner eyelids that save him from permanent blindness. Phew.

How remarkably convenient.

4. Once Upon a Time

It's not just Buffy the Vampire Slayer that has ripped up established rules for its own convenience. Enter Once Upon a Time, where there are different types of magic – namely Light and Dark Magic – and only the Saviour can use Light Magic.

Well, that is until they need to stop Zelena, the Wicked Witch of the West, from enacting a time-travel spell and her sister Regina, the Evil Queen, manages to use Light Magic for the first time to defeat her. How? "I make my own destiny," Regina handily explained.

How remarkably convenient.

5. Sherlock

The first season of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's successful modern adaptation ended on a huge cliffhanger, with Sherlock and John Watson in the aim of Moriarty's snipers, as well as John wearing an explosive vest.

No possible way out, right? Wrong. Within minutes of season two starting, Moriarty receives a phone call (from Irene Adler, as it turns out) and leaves, sparing the lives of Sherlock and John.

How remarkably convenient.

6. Fargo

Noah Hawley's winning adaptation of the Coen Brothers' Fargo is often just weird for the sake of being weird, but usually it's not of any particular consequence to the plot and is played for laughs.

However, in the penultimate episode of season two, just when it looked like Bear was going to kill Peggy and Ed in their motel room, a UFO appeared out of nowhere, understandably distracting Bear enough for Lou to shoot him. And it was never heard of again.

How remarkably convenient.

7. Battlestar Galactica

Another multiple offender, but the one that stands out the most for us concerns the fate of Colonial President Laura Roslin and her apparently fatal struggle with breast cancer.

She's certainly on her death bed in 'Epiphanies' when Gaius Baltar suddenly announces that the blood of the unborn Cylon-human hybrid baby could completely cure Roslin and, miracle of miracles, it does.

How. Remarkably. Convenient.

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