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Someone who is Inexplicably Awesome is Crazy Awesome Shrouded in Myth. Whatever Backstory, secret origin or Mysterious Past an Inexplicably Awesome character has is by definition locked away: her existence is a conundrum; she usually displays powers or abilities that are unusual if not downright bizarre for the setting, and exhibits eccentricities to match. One would assume that such an impenetrable enigma would be a source of gallons of plot, and they'd be right, although not in the obvious way: rather than being a puzzle to solve, their very presence is typically a plot generator, setting people and events in motion as a direct result of their oddball take on reality.

It should be noted, that they only are this trope if they are genuinely unique in their setting. If "he/she must be a Time Lord" is a workable explanation for a character and the series isn't even Doctor Who, odds are it's this trope. [1] They can be anyone from a near omnipotent being to a mere weirdo, but that does not make them any less weird either way.

Attempting to actually explain their awesome may have unintended and hazardous consequences, including but not limited to Wallbangers, Cerebus Retcons and, in some severe cases, the dreaded Voodoo Shark.

Compare with The Wonka.

Examples of Inexplicably Awesome include:


Anime

  • Lala Ru of Now and Then Here and There is a Mysterious Waif with a magic pendant that links to an infinite supply of torrential water, but apart from the fact that she's a living MacGuffin who is Really Seven Hundred Years Old and that use of her powers drains her life force, nothing is ever divulged about her origins or backstory. Hamdo would be a lesser, villainous example: it's not at all clear how a raving lunatic who would probably have difficulty going to the bathroom without help ended up "king" of a flying battleship, other than a hitherto unhinted period of mental competence.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya, for now, at least. The light novels look like they're going to explain where she got her powers from.
  • Mononoke's The Medicine Seller, kind of. He comes with no backstory, unexplained magical powers, a Situational Sword and a dry sense of humour. Rather than causing the adventures however, he just goes to the source. Probably.
  • Pani Poni Dash! is already packed with random insanity, but even the other characters can't begin to wrap their minds around their class president, Ichijou. Observe. If anyone tells you they know what's up with Ichijou, they are lying!
  • C.C. and V.V. of Code Geass both have shades of this, at least in the first season. They're basically immortal beings with little to no backstory who grant mental eye powers and speak in riddles, in what is otherwise a Mini-Mecha Real Robot series that focuses on chess and politics. In the second season, much of both their backstories are explained, but not nearly enough to give a complete picture. Fans' desire to learn more about Geass and the Codes is part of the reason why a continuation of the franchise is wanted so much.
  • Guu's powers are never truly explained, though it's hinted that she's a Humanoid Abomination.
  • Walter C. Dornez is an ordinary human but one of the deadliest characters in Hellsing thanks to his Razor Floss, and that's in a setting full of vampires and other weirdness. But while Hellsing more or less gives explanations for every other character's abilities, it's never said how or why Walter can use his Razor Floss in ways that don't even pretend to follow the laws of physics. Even at the age of 14, no less.
  • Raphael from Tenshi ni Narumon is this even though he's not really doing much throughout much of the series - he's an angel professor from Angel Academy located somewhere in Heaven, has only one wing (the reason for this is probably the series' biggest unexplained mystery) has a very laidback and mischievous attitude and is in a relationship with his male student. For many fan(girl)s he's just Awesome incarnated.
  • Subverted in Ichinensei Ni Nacchattara. The protagonist is Inexplicably Awesome from the perspective of the other main characters, but we the readers know exactly how he came to be that way.
  • Done mildly in Eyeshield 21 with Hiruma. Just about all we know about his past is that he has a strained relationship with his father, has been living in a hotel since he was in middle school, and used to spend his time hanging out at a military base. None of this explains his endless supply of firearms, ability to blackmail people on an international level, or even why he has elf ears. His existence is simply crazy awesome.
  • The fan-favorite TK of Angel Beats. Spends all his time dancing, only speaks by quoting English song lyrics (despite not actually knowing how to speak English), and has physical skills that only Angel has ever matched (and she's using reality hax to do so). It's admitted by various characters that TK is a total mystery: none of them know anything about his backstory, or even his real name.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima: Even by the standards of the other girls, Zazie Rainyday has been an enigma. Even as we delve into the pasts of her classmates (Mercenaries, Mages, Mad Scientists, The Undead, a Robot, a Time-Traveler), the information we get on her has always been spotty: she's a Silent Bob, she can see ghosts, and she hangs out with unexplained, amorphous demon-like things. She calls them friends. Hundreds of chapters later, even after finally getting some info on her, her origins and motivation remain obscure.

Comic Books

  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac was intentionally created without a backstory because author Jhonen Vasquez knew that no backstory would satisfy reader expectations. He also felt that "I got pantsed in school. I kill now!" is a pretty silly motivation.
  • The Phantom Stranger went decades without any kind of "origin", until DC did a special issue of Secret Origins that offered four different, contradictory explanations for his mysterious abilities. Nowadays, most fans and many writers treat Alan Moore's tale of an angel who wouldn't choose sides in the War in Heaven as the de facto origin.
    • Geoff has put a new spin on his origins: apparently, he was cursed by a group called the Circle of Eternity to watch what he sowed. That only leaves us asking this question: what did he sow?
  • During Marvel's run of G.I. Joe, Zartan was very much this. How can this assassin/biker gang leader make himself look like anyone within seconds? Never answered! The closest we got was outside speculation that it is "a mixture of hypnosis and holograms". Later on Devil's Due as well as IDW's reboot both gave their own origin to Zartan, and they had two things in common: they do not explain the full extent of his ability, and they both sucked.
  • Wolverine was like this for years after he was introduced. His face went unrevealed for about six months, the nature of his claws for a bit longer, several of his powers (healing factor, unbreakable bones) were unmentioned for years, the name "Logan" wasn't revealed until months after that, and his true origin took decades to come out. Marvel Comics was genuinely worried that his mysterious past was what made him cool, and if they revealed too much, they would not only ruin Wolverine, they would ruin the X-Men, and thus destroy Marvel Comics.

Film

  • The Joker as depicted in The Dark Knight proves conclusively that you don't have to be even remotely on the side of good to embody this trope. The movie goes to great lengths to deny that the Joker has any Backstory whatsoever, even having the Joker himself lampoon the idea by twice (and nearly three times) giving mutually contradictory explanations of how he got his signature scars.
  • Yoda in Star Wars. Every single alien in the cantina scene of A New Hope has been given a name, a species, and an extensive backstory in the Expanded Universe, but we don't even know what species Yoda is. He's just some little old green guy who happens to be the most powerful Jedi who ever lived. And George Lucas intends it to stay that way; Yoda's history is officially off-limits.
    • It should be noted that Yoda isn't unique; we've seen a few other members of his species (Yaddle, for example). They've all been powerful Jedi, and just as mysterious as he is, making them an Inexplicably Awesome species.
  • Mystery Men: The Sphinx has two superpowers, apparently: he can slice guns apart with his mind, and "He's very mysterious".

Literature

  • Mary Poppins is not only an example of this trope, but quite possibly scarier than the Joker once you realize that in the original books, she was practically a Physical God. She wasn't the nice, motherly, "oh children, what shall I do with you?" type of nanny either, but the "put you through Ironic Hell until you cry uncle and promise to behave" type.
  • Tom Bombadil from The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was deliberately vague to his origins, so that some mysteries might remain in the world. It is implied that Tom is one of the oldest beings in Middle Earth.
  • The Magic School Bus, featuring the eccentric and wonderful Ms. Frizzle, was a set of picture books before it was a cartoon series.
    • The former Trope Namer before a more general name was subbed in.
  • At the start of the series, Angela from The Inheritance Cycle seems to be a short and harmless herbalist with a sharp wit who doesn't like to use magic and enjoys knitting. Then we find out the she can speak Urgal, happens to be a Seer, is the only person in the entire Varden who is able to shield her mind and thoughts from the cursed-child Elva (whose powers even the Dragon-Rider Eragon isn't immune to), is able to simultaneously hold the amazingly skilled fighter Arya, the ferocious dragon Saphira and the dragon-rider Eragon in place with her mind alone, has killed eight-feet-tall Kulls in hand-to-hand combat, and is an expert at using the sword she carries - which turns out to be the sharpest blade in all of existence. Her origin and past is unknown and left open to speculation.
  • Derek Leech in The Quorum by Kim Newman. He first appears standing on the bed of the river Thames in 1961. He already has "language, knowledge, purpose" and a name, but he doesn't have any history before then. He goes on to build himself from nothing into a highly influential Corrupt Corporate Executive who is part Rupert Murdoch, part Richard Branson and part Satan, working inexorably towards a diabolical purpose, not sleeping and chewing constantly to keep his rat-like teeth from growing too long, but there's never an explanation of where he came from.
  • There is a character called Hoid that shows up in all Brandon Sanderson's adult fiction (which are all in the same verse. The only things we know are that it's the same person every time, he can hop from world to world by some unknown means, and that he's apparently immortal (seeing as the books he's appeared in take place over a 500 year or thereabouts time span according to Word of God ) He frequently acts odd but seems to have a honing instinct for significant events and people, even if those people don't really understand their own significance. He has some skill with a type of magic called Lightweaving, which is talked about in one of Brandon Sandersons unpublished works, Dragonsteel (or the Liar of Partinel). The magic involves, among other things, illusions. He may well be one of the oldest living things in the universe, given that he was there at the shattering of Adonalsium.

Live Action TV

  • In Doctor Who, the Doctor, towards the start of his decades long run was a bizarre man with no solid explanation for his story-generating time-travelling abilities. It was felt at the time that no backstory could satisfy viewer expectations.

    Since then much of his background has been revealed. Plans to explicitly portray his origin [2] and plans to demolish it with a Retcon [3] to restore the enigma have both failed to happen. The Doctor remains half-shrouded and still strange -- we never get to the bottom of everything he does, and we only know snippets of his life before he left Gallifrey to travel.
  • The titular character of Ghostwriter is an amnesiac ghost who communicates by manipulating text to form messages. His full backstory, however, is never so much as hinted at.
  • Mr. Roarke of Fantasy Island, especially in later seasons, where he demonstrated supernatural abilities well beyond the fantasies he provided for his guests, including confronting and turning away demonic entities.
  • Myth Busters - Jokes about Jamie Hyneman's Expansion Pack Past can sometimes turn him into a bit of this -- maybe he can't actually pull off all this stuff they're saying, but doesn't it sound like he could?
  • Karen Walker from Will and Grace would frequently joke about outrageous, often contradictory episodes from her life, even from before she married Stan and became the over the top Rich Bitch. Still, Noodle Incidents ("You know how I'm into gangster rap right?"), celebrity friends, her real age, and even the condition of her immortal soul were strictly on a need-to-know basis.

Newspaper Comics

  • The title character of Lio. It's possible the entire strip is the non-school-approved daydreams of a very weird kid. But if the pet squid, the outer space trips, and the showing up of other comic strip characters are real, he's got to be Inexplicably Awesome.

Tabletop Games

  • The Lady of Pain in Planescape manages to be this, which is quite a feat in a setting where the actual gods are an important element. Partially because she's capable of keeping them out of Sigil, and even seems to be responsible for killing a god who tried to set up shop in her town, and partially because nothing about her is ever explained. We don't even know her Character Alignment or if "she" is actually female. But don't, don't try to worship her.

    Because of the more philosophical nature of the setting, the creators went out of their way to keep her an enigma, including vetoing any and all attempts to attach stats to her. (The closest they got to giving her any kind of stats was in the 3rd Edition sourcebook Planar Handbook, in which she is described as Lawful Neutral and female. This alone was too much for some older fans to stomach.)
  • Cypher in Warhammer 40000. We don't know who he is, where he comes from, where he's going, or what he wants. All we know is he periodically shows up on battlefields to turn people into smoking craters with his two pistols and that he has a sword that he never uses.

Video Games

  • The entire main cast of Killer 7 probably qualifies, all the more since the officially published backstory doesn't actually match what's presented in the game. Even the character with the most backstory given in the game, Dan Smith, still counts once you realize he had to have died twice.
  • The G-Man from the Half-Life games. He is creepy and sinister. He has few Wonka-like tendencies and that puts him in a minority for this trope. He appears to be a plainly dressed businessman with a speech impediment; a bit of a strange-looking one (described as "Emaciated Robert Oppenheimer" by one fan), but still basically normal-looking. Yet he pulls the weirdest tricks in the whole game, freezing time and walking right into a scene as if through the Fourth Wall. The way he speaks, the words he chooses, and the references he makes accentuate his oddness. For that matter, looking like a calm and plainly dressed businessman is itself odd when he appears in the middle of a alien-infested war zone.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
    • The Happy Mask Shop Man.
    • Majora's Mask itself, which borders the line between this, and Cosmic Horror.
    • The Fierce Deity Mask

Web Comics

  • Minus., from minus.. Like Mary Poppins, but much more irresponsible.
  • The dragons in Ozy and Millie are a mild case. Oddly enough, they're not magical beings as such, but they do seem to be involved in the surreal from time to time. Ozy put it best: "They like to attempt the impossible on a regular basis. Sometimes, to their surprise, it actually works." This may account for why there's a portal to another dimension in Llewellyn's couch...
  • Richard from Looking for Group. Hilariously entertaining and essentially a Memetic Badass, we don't really know anything about Richard's past.
    • Although we have gotten a couple of recent hints, his backstory still remains vague and confusing.
    • And now we know he's not actually dead.
  • King Radical from The Adventures of Dr. McNinja.
    • In Futures Trading, The Ultimate Diplomat reveals how he got that name with a single sentence.
  • Jones ("just Jones is enough") from Gunnerkrigg Court. She's "Practically perfect in every way" -- as tricky as Mary Poppins, as coldly precise and as unstoppable as a Terminator, and apparently even Coyote has no power over her -- yet almost no one (including the readers) knows who and what Jones is, other than she's "not a robot". Which is less than informative, given that non-robotic beings known to visit or inhabit the Court range from shadow folk to extradimensional psychic arthropods to deities from three different pantheons... so far.
  • The crazy gymnist assassin Oasis of Sluggy Freelance. Pete has shown us hints as to who (or rather what) she is but has pulled the rug out from under us before. Whether she's a robot, a real girl with fire powers that's immortal to boot, a zombie-like being who heals all wounds, a ghost that 'dominates' other beings to the point they even look like her, or something else we don't really know. All we know is she apparently can't be killed and goes berserk whenever she sees someone from Hereti Corp.
    • Also Bun-bun. A badass talking rabbit with a bad attitude, a switchblade, and a glock he pulls out from nowhere. The only clues we've had to his past so far is that he's been thrown out of time once before by Santa Claus, his mother was probably killed in front of his eyes, and he was put back into the right timeline by Uncle Time who admits it was just somewhere in the right 'ballpark'.

Web Original

  • The closest thing Ruby Quest has to a full-fledged antagonist is Ace, a mysterious hulking bruiser wearing a bird mask. What little is divulged about him (he used to work as an orderly at the Metal Glen before going berserk, he was actually excavated from the bottom of the ocean, and his real face looks like a mass of writhing tentacles) fails to explain the questions of what he is and who he really works for.
  • Ebony of My Immortal.
  • At Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, there's this one teacher in the Magical Arts Department. She goes by 'Circe', but that may be her real name instead of a codename. She may be the real Circe from classical Greek myth. She occasionally rambles, but her ramblings tend to be real prophecies. No one knows why she came to the academy, or how old she really is, or how she got her powers, or even if she's a mutant. She has a history of picking people to mentor, and later the people die horribly while fighting great evils. She just decided to mentor one of the main characters.
  • SCP-076. Basically, the dude just... kills. Constantly. For no reason.
    • Also a number of other SCPs have incredible reality-defying attributes; some benign, some innocently dangerous, some malign and some that threaten to destroy all life, but as far as can be determined are just ordinary objects or people.

Western Animation

  • Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus takes a very hands-on approach to education which typically involves taking her students on "Field Trips" in her bus, which has the power to shrink, expand, change, transform and generally do things school buses aren't supposed to be able to (it is a magic school bus, after all), and that doesn't even begin to describe the various things it can do to the students themselves for the sake of first-hand experience with the subject of the day. All that's ever revealed about her and the bus is that her first name is Valerie and the guy who built the bus doesn't seem particularly magical himself.
    • The fantastic nature of Ms. Frizzle is actually reflected in the theme song. See below.

 Arnold: Please let this be a normal field trip.

Wanda: With the Frizz?

Everyone but Arnold: No way!

    • In short, everyone has long since accepted that Ms. Frizzle is strange...and they kind of like it.
      • Heck, this trope was originally named "The Frizzle."
  • Miss Tickle from Mission: Magic! did the same shtick as Ms. Frizzle, but earlier. She used a magic cat statue and a door she drew in a chalkboard in place of a school bus, but otherwise had the same hair color and even a similar group of students. Miss Tickle is probably Ms. Frizzle's cousin or older sister.
  • Dr. Henry Killinger from The Venture Brothers. Even though other characters on the show have magical powers, Killinger is clearly a cut above everyone else, especially because nothing about him is ever explained. He inexplicably knows everyone's backstory and most secret desires, he can magically cure herpes and pull anything he needs out of his Magic Murder Bag, and despite his name and costume, he seems to be single-mindedly promoting happiness and helping people realize their potential. He can fly on an umbrella like Mary Poppins, and at one point his face appears in the stars and quotes Shakespeare.
    • It's also heavily implied he's just Henry Kissinger, and always has been.
  • Inspector Gadget - Gadget manages to be a superb example of Inexplicably Awesome despite also being Inspector Oblivious. Never mind that it is his niece Penny and his trusty superintelligent dog Brain who actually do all the investigating (and get none of the credit): just how the hell did he end up as a walking Swiss Army Hammerspace Knife who would probably be the most dangerous crimefighter in the world if he wasn't such a flaming idiot? The show never tells us, and that is more fitting than any mundane explanation. The Movie takes a stab at it, but it predictably does not go well.
    • The professor who gave him the gadgets did appear in at least one episode, but the story behind them was never shown.
    • At least one continuity had him have tripped down the stairs!
    • Penny makes even less sense. Where did that computer book come from? When did Penny learn how to hack everything in the world? How does she always have the time to follow Gadget around? Though the last question could be answered by Penny's freakish intelligence getting her out of school early.
  • The Flintstones: Bamm-Bamm's Super Strength went completely unexplained. When his biological parents appeared they were perfectly normal.
  • The twins from Superjail have Reality Warper powers, affect the plot in ways that border on Deus Ex Machina to Diabolus Ex Machina and almost never interact directly with the other characters, but there doesn't seem to be any explanation at all as to why they can do these things. They don't even seem to be Superjail employees or inmates and don't seem to have any specific reason for messing with the jail (besides maybe hating the Warden which is sometimes sort of implied).
    • In the second season however it is revealed that they're alien pranksters who came to Earth on a year abroad but had too much fun in Superjail to go back to their family.
  • Pinkie Pie in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic regularly ignores, leans on or stares at the fourth wall, defies the laws of physics whenever plot or humour convenient, and launches into musicals when no one else does. She's popped out of locations too small for her to fit, appeared inside of mirrors, and even fought the closing circle at the end of the episode. While this itself isn't unusual for a cartoon, she's the only one, and everyone else is well aware that Pinkie Pie doesn't really work with the same rules as anyone else, and just do their best to ignore the weirdness. Her strange actions drive the plot in several episodes.
    • To drive the point home, this is a setting with magic-using ponies, and Pinkie is strange even to them. She is, quite simply, too weird for magic to explain.

Notes

  1. Or you've been spending too much time in the Wild Mass Guessing page.
  2. A concept that eventually became The Sarah Jane Adventures
  3. The "Cartmel Masterplan" was a story outline created before the show went on hiatus: what we know about the Doctor would have been revealed to be a lie, the Doctor turning into a Chessmaster with a connection to one of the founders of Time Lord society.
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