What books (or TV shows, movies, anime) have excellent use of Chekhov's Gun?
According to Wikipedia: "Chekhov's gun
is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make "false promises" by never coming into play."
I hate wasting time, and one way to waste time in entertainment is by adding elements of a story that never come back into play, or are never set up or very poorly set up. In other words, set up elements of a story, maybe remind the audience it still exists, then bring it back one last time, usually in an unexpected yet logical way.
Bad examples of things never being set up:
- Jojo's Bizzare Adventure: Part 1. In one example, one character drop kicks another with two legs, the person getting kicks blocks with both arms, and as both feet come into contact with the arms, the person doing the dropkicking suddenly does a split to spread the arm open, leaving the other wide open to attack. In another example, somebody punches through a wall using hamon, but it's never been established hamon can do such a thing. Worst of all, in Part 5 with Giorno, out of nowhere thanks to a special arrow, he gets a new stand power that has not been built up at all to defeat the villain.
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Palpatine was in no way hinted that he would return. And too many others to waste my time remembering. There was no plan for the sequel trilogy.
Bad example of poor set up:
- The Mummy with Tom Cruise. In the beginning of the movie, he sleep with a woman, the two do nothing but bicker through the entire movie, the god of death enters Tom's body, but through the power of his love for said woman, he is able to mentally control his body and gain the powers of a god.
- Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spiderman 2. Too many side plots aren't given enough time to properly develop and establish an emotional connection with the audience, so when the end finally comes around to the big reveal or finale, the audience doesn't care because there was nothing perviously established to care about.
Good examples of excellent set up:
- Kingsman: The Secret Service. There are plenty of great example, but my favorite flips everything on it's head for a logical reason. In the beginning, people working for the villain are implanted with a device with a notable scar. Later after we find out a very important character has that scar, our character removes the device, and brings it to be examined. Merlin, the Q of the Kingsmen, discovers the implant blocks the rage-inducing effects of a cellphone card and also blows up the person's head if they talk about the villain's plans to the wrong people. The main character heads into the villain's lair, but is trapped by too many soldiers. The main character asks if they can turn on all of the implants, and they do. In glorious fashion and a fun piece of classical British music, all the heads of the soldiers blow up, along with rich people, politicians, celebrities, and so on. Except the villain and henchwoman.
- The Quiet Place: 2 examples. Earth has been invaded by monsters that are blind and locate beings by sound. #1 The mom is doing laundry and heading up stairs when something is snagged on the stairs. She pulls on it to get free, but that caused a nail in the board to stick straight up. A little later when the monster arrives close to the house, she is walking down stairs frantically, and unknowingly steps on the nail, screaming in pain for just a moment before covering her mouth. #2 A deaf daughter has hearing aids, the family has a shotgun for desperate times, and the dad has a radio system. When the monster gets close enough to the girl, the hearing aid makes sounds of distortion, which the monsters don't like and exposes their weak spot. At the end of the movie, the monster chases the mom and daughter into the basement where the radio is located. The daughter discovers it was the hearing aid that caused the monster top reveal the weak spot, puts the aid to the microphone to increase the distortion sound, further exposing the weak spot, and the mom shoots the monster.
- The Dark Tower book 2: The Drawing of the Three. We are introduced to three magical doors that allows Roland access into our world, specifically, into the mind of a person in our world. The first door leads us to meet Eddie, and shows and sets up all the rules and experiences of hopping into a person's mind through a door. Roland's body is left behind in his world, but his consciousness is in Eddie's looking through his eyes in first person. When Roland goes back through the door, he returns to his body. Roland and Eddie communicate mentally, and they help each other bring things from our world to his world and back again, namely aspirin, food, and cocaine (or was it heroine?). Eventually with no way to escape the police or SWAT team, Roland brings Eddie through the door and into his dying world.
- Portal 2: The main character shoots portals on white surfaces through the entire game, and that does not change. We are in the first boss fight that shows us we need to hit a button to switch control of the facility. Later, it's explained that moons rocks are great portal conductors if crushed into a power and applied like paint on walls. I haven't played the game in a while so my memory is foggy on this detail: The player is introduced to three kinds of paint to apply onto the floor and walls, one of which is white, which allows the character to put portals on. During the final boss fight, we apply the white paint underneath the villain to allow rockets to hit him from directly underneath him. The button to switch controls of the facility is revealed, but it's booby trapped with explosives. I believe that explosion causes a water pipe to break or the sprinkler system to put out the fires. All that water washes away almost all of the white paint, leaving one white spot on the floor with our one remaining portal. Disoriented from the explosion, our character looks up to see the roof now has a hole in it. We also see it's night time, and there's a full moon. Control is returned to the character, we aim at the moon, and we shoot a portal to the surface of the moon.
- Hunter X Hunter: The Dodgeball game. That's too long for me to explain here.
- Hajime no Ippo: 2 examples. This is in the second boxing match between Ippo and Miyata. #1 Ippo's coach trains him the proper form for the uppercut: pull your punching arm back, squat, rise up, thrust your hips forward and up, and swing your arm up to hit the enemy's jaw. #2 It was established previously that if a boxer is hit in the chin, it rattles the brain, causing temporary disruption between the brain and body, and if done properly, that player may be disrupted enough for the ref to count to ten. When the two fight again, they aren't evenly matched, with Ippo as the underdog. Ippo uses the uppercut, which Miyata hasn't seen before, but due to Miyatas talent as a counter puncher immediately counters the uppercut. This shuts down Ippo's greatest weapon. It's the final round, and Ippo is on his last leg, while Miyata (I believe) can go on another round or two. Miyata goes in for the final punch, and in a move of desperation, so does Ippo. Ippo's arm swings upward, but Miyata sees it and pulls his head back. This is called a short-motion upper, essentially swinging an uppercut with just the arm, instead of with the lower body, which pays of #1. It's then revealed that Ippo hit Miyata in the chin, because no matter how hard he tries he can't stand up well enough for the ref to think he's capable of continuing the match, paying off #2.
What kinds of books (or movies, TV shows, anime, manga, etc.) can you recommend me with excellent use of Chekhov's Gun?
Thanks for reading this long post. It's difficult to explain why I love certain stories in a short way, so I try to explain why I love what I love.
Edit: Marked post as spoilers because it’s impossible to describe examples of Chekhov’s Gun without spoiling what happens near the end of a story.