What is this called? The trope where, in some episode, a character suddenly has advanced, expert knowledge in a field that they have never mentioned, especially something almost out of character for them, and especially it is never mentioned again in the series.

The one I just saw that made me think of it: In Daria S02E02 "The Daria Hunter" Britney displays expert knowledge in guerrilla combat when they go paintballing, but she is more or less a stereotypical cheerleader ditz in every other episode.


Community S01E23 Modern Warfare, S02E23-24 A Fistfull of Paintballs, For a Few Paintballs More, S06e11 Modern Espionage, where the main characters are all pro-level paintballers, but do nothing paintball related otherwise in the series.

How I met your mother S02E15 Lucky Penny where Barney successfully runs a marathon, after having displayed no serious athletic ability other than having sex all the time, and did not ever again for the rest of the series.

Weaker examples:

House S04e15 House's Head, where Chase, a diagnostician and a surgeon, suddenly becomes an expert hypnotist (not that great of an example since it is still a medical skill)

Simpsons S04e02 A Streetcar Named Marge where we find out Flanders is incredibly muscular.

  • 1
    Also is an Ass Pull trope: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AssPull
    – jwatts1980
    Jun 25, 2015 at 13:56
  • 1
    I think the Barney example is kind of off because it was a comedic action that got him into consequences. He later couldn't walk and got stuck going round and round in the subway.
    – LeonX
    Jun 30, 2017 at 18:50
  • It's an "inverse Chekov's gun". Yes, I just made that up.
    – moviegique
    Jul 8, 2020 at 2:07

1 Answer 1


I can't find a globally accepted trope name for it but tvtropes has given it a name Suddenly Always Knew That and Tvtropper always do this trope naming for this kind of things.

How did a character suddenly acquire a needed skill? By an unrelated previous life experience he never knew would prove so useful, sometimes a Retcon. In other words, the character always had the skill, but You Didn't Ask.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .