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As we've learned from all films ever made, whenever you have a special skill, it will eventually save your life, regardless of how impossibly stupid it is.


Training in any kind of skill, ability, or knowledge that will likely later come in handy. Much like Chekhov's Gun, Chekhov's Skill covers instances where a character takes time in-story to become proficient at something.

If the hero takes time to teach his sweetie a self-defense Judo throw in scene 2, expect this Damsel in Distress to throw the Mook holding her into a Shark Pool by scene 5.

This is a counterpoint to Suddenly Always Knew That, as proficiencies are gained and learned rather than mentioned or pulled out of thin air. Taken to extremes, Chekhov's Skill can be used to justify Implausible Fencing Powers or turn the Farm Boy into a gun toting Badass. In frustrating cases, it might go the way of Forgotten Phlebotinum and never see use again. Used well, it can lead to some satisfying heroics from unexpected places.

Chekhov's Skill can also be used as a catalyst for other plot elements by having one character teach another, and getting some good Character Development out of it as well. Or even drive a plot as the seeker looks for a mentor to teach them Chekhov's Skill. If the skill is too complicated to be perfected so quickly, see Instant Expert.

If it is not a skill taught or otherwise demonstrated to the individual in question, then it is a Chekhov's Hobby. In the hobby, the skill is mentioned through dialogue and never takes up more plot than that. In the skill, even if the character hasn't perfected the Dangerous Forbidden Technique it still shows them training for it.

See also Someday This Will Come in Handy, Crazy Prepared, Chekhov's Classroom.

Examples of Chekhov's Skill include:

Anime and Manga

  • The very first Sound Stage of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha had Nanoha trying and failing to do a bind spell. Needless to say, she had to do one properly to catch a Jewel Seed monster by the end of the day. She would later perform this spell in the anime itself during a decisive moment in her final battle against Fate.
    • The second season introduces the concept of Transformation Magic through a distraught Shamal when, after finding out how close their master was to the heroes, she makes an offhand comment of how she should have applied it to the Wolkenwritter. When The Reveal came, it turned out that certain other parties didn't forget to apply this useful spell.
      • Fridge Logic made me wonder why Shamal didn't use said transformation magic to go and check Hayate instead of putting on glasses and a Conspicuous Trenchcoat (that, needless to say, it didn't work).
    • And then there's Area Search, a utility spell Nanoha created way back in the third episode of the first season to solve a specific problem and has never had the chance to use again...until the last episodes of the third season, which gave the hidden Quattro a very nasty surprise.
  • Naruto has the titular character walking into a person practicing a ninjutsu technique (naked); we can tell it's Hinata, but he can't, because he's Naruto. She uses this at the end to kill a bunch insects the enemies were attacking with.
    • She is shown earlier training with the technique; she activates her Byakugan, some kunai fly at her, and within moments all of them are on the ground, broken.
    • Naruto himself debuts the series unable to use his (second) most famous technique (the most famous being the Sexy no Jutsu)
    • There is the most famous Sennen Goroshi (Thousand Years of Death) which was introduced for comedic effect, but Naruto uses it differently during his battle against Gaara. Apparently he thinks that is obviously the technique to use in that situation, and belives that Kakashi taught him that technique.
    • Naruto's Rasengan ability counts. At first it seemed like just another technique in Naruto's arsenal that he would use to defeat the current arc's villain. Thing is, it becomes his signature technique near the end of the next arc when he enters a famous clash with its counterpart, Sasuke's Chidori.
  • In Dragonball Z, King Kai teaches Goku the Spirit Bomb, and outlines exactly what kind of power this attack has. Not only that, but he says only to use it as a last resort. So of course Goku has to use it in his following battle as well as nearly every movie and future Big Bad.
    • It's okay though. It may have all the power of life, the stars, and the universe, but it never works anyway.
      • Except on Kid Buu. At the end of the series.
  • In the first chapter of One Piece, Shanks scares a sea monster away by staring it down. Over 400 chapters later this is revealed to be an actual superpower that any pirate captain worth their salt has.
    • Actually it's a very rare superpower (it was mentioned to be an innate ability that only one in a million people have) and only a few elite pirate captains have it. Luffy, being the protagonist, is of course able to use it.
  • The fights in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple often feature Kenichi, at a critical moment, using a technique taught to him in the last training session shown.
    • And occasionally bringing back old techniques from earlier in the series, such as the yamazuki double punch. Other characters make particular note of whenever he uses the "kouhou - haihou" stepping method, as it was the first technique he was ever taught. This isn't So Last Season either: the techniques usually remain just as useful as they were the first time.
  • Negi's Axe of Lightning/Axe of Zeus spell in Mahou Sensei Negima. Taught by Evangeline at the start of Vol. 8, he was naturally forced to do it perfectly by the end of the volume to defeat the Big Bad for that Story Arc.
    • A more far-reaching example; in volume 3, Negi uses a bunch of magical decoy spirits during his fight with Evangeline. 200 chapters later he pulls out a much larger scale version of the same technique to fight Kurt Godel.
    • During the fight between Negi and Rakan, Jack mentions that now several people in the world know how to effectively battle Negi's Thunder God technique. Guess which elemental Averruncus Fate ends up fighting?
  • Occurs in Ranma ½ during the moxibustion storyline. Cologne teaches Ranma a new technique so he can fight back against Happosai without strength, a technique which requires Ranma to stay calm and not emotionally react to his opponent. Genma, his father, immediately tries to get a rise out of him with "Humiliating Photo Fu," whipping out embarrassing naked baby pictures. The whole sequence seems like an extended riff on Genma's usual Jerkass tendencies...but Ranma actually puts Humiliating Photo Fu to use during the climactic battle against Happosai, by flashing photos of himself as a girl in lingerie.
    • Also, moves that characters learned throughout the series are often used later.
  • In Cowboy Bebop Spike had a guy requesting to teach him martial arts, where Spike demonstrates a knife disarm and the philosophy of being calm as water. The guy was having a hard time understanding it all, but in the climactic fight he manages to pull off the same move against a mook. And immediately subverted when he is shot and killed in the midst of his celebration.
  • In Monster, Nina is shown innocently practicing Aikido. Later, when Tenma is attacked, it comes in handy.
  • Early on in Bleach, we see Ichigo's dad trying to put the hurt on our poor hero, and of course, he fights back. This actually provided really good training when it came to beating up Hollows.
    • The later reveal that Ichigo's dad is a former Shinigami Captain suggests that this may have been intentional.
  • Subverted in Suzumiya Haruhi. After completely rocking out at the Cultural Festival, Haruhi comments that she never knew that Yuki was such a good guitar player. Kyon, of course, reminds us that she probably picked up the skill the moment Haruhi suggested it because of her freakishly awesome powers.
  • In Summer Wars, a lot of the Jinnouchi family members have skills or positions that end up becoming relevant to the fight against Love Machine. The most important, though, are Kenji's math abilities and Natsuki's Koi-Koi skills.
  • In Pokémon Special, Lady Berlitz tries her hand out in many new things, so it's inevitable that some of them would come in handy. One good case is that by becoming a whiz at the slot machines, her eyes become very skilled at keeping up with fast objects. She manages to defeat Maylene's Riolu despite it jumping around behind a wall of falling rocks, and later has an easy time at the Battle Arcade by always landing on favorable results.
  • One episode of the Pokémon anime had Team Rocket against a poacher who stored his captures in electrified cages. Due to their run-ins with Ash and Pikachu every episode for five years at that point, Meowth was able to completely ignore the shock from the cage as he unlocked it.
    • In the episode "Noodles, Roamin' Off!", Team Rocket breaks up and each pursues their own goals before reuniting in the end. Oddly, everything they do comes back to help Jessie earn her third ribbon in the later episode "Dressed For Jess Success". Jessie decides to develop her Jessilina role and distances it more from her own career in Team Rocket...thus turning it into a role that anyone can play, including James. Meowth's natural talent for making ramen noodles wins him the appeal round. And James's fearless battle style against a far greater foe, though only infuriating his opponent before, pays off when his Carnivine throws Dawn's Mamoswine completely off its game and causes it to go berserk, costing it points with the judges and winning him the third ribbon.
  • In Kemonozume, Bon sadly mentions that his Flesh Eater arms prevent him from achieving his dream of being a shot putter. Near the end, when Toshihiko and Yuka need Ooba's eyes to stop the giant rolling ball, Bon picks up Ooba's head and shot puts it back to them.
    • Yuka also uses the paralysis technique Toshihiko taught her on Toshihiko, to stop him from following her in the last episode, but it doesn't last long enough to work.
  • The first episode of Diebuster shows Nono accidentally splitting a plate in half with absolutely no effort. She mentions, almost as a throwaway joke, that she's good at splitting things. Fast forward to the second half of the series. Nono uses that same power to completely bisect Saturn's moon Titan and then later a freaking black hole, which even the characters admit should be impossible.

Comic Books

  • In the final chapter of Watchmen, Nite Owl, still trying to make sense of the huge Batman Gambit that Ozymandias pulled off (thirty-five minutes ago), tries to explain to him that one part of his plan—where he staged his own assassination attempt—couldn't have worked because the assassin might have shot him first instead of his secretary. Ozymandias just innocently smiles and says "Well, I supposed I would have had to catch the bullet, wouldn't I?" Nite Owl finds the very idea of this ludicrous. Later, after Ozymandias vaporizes Dr. Manhattan, Silk Spectre shoots him. As she approaches his body, his hand opens and she discovers that he caught the bullet!
    • Something of a subversion - after doing it, Ozymandias admits that he didn't actually know if he could do so. On the other hand, one bit much earlier on mentions that he used to boast he probably could do it.
  • Hyde's heat-sensitive vision in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which he very wisely does not tell Griffin about.
  • Empowered's embarrassing and apparently useless parlor trick of turning her suit invisible is demonstrated in a one-off story from the first volume (she is not affected, cannot wear anything over or under it, and was trying to affect only her mask instead of everything but). Turns out it had a use after all, some volumes later.
  • In Preacher, the main character learns to fight with Jody, the bastard. That skill is used often in the series, in fact, once he doesn't even think about using his special abilities.

Fan Works

  • In Kyon: Big Damn Hero Mikuru asked Yuki to teach her to be a paramedic in order to build confidence and have an helpful skill while Kyon and Kanae are training. This becomes useful later when Kyon got hurt after a battle and Yuki can't heal him.
  • This is more like Chekhov's Habit, but there's a Running Gag in Hunting the Unicorn of David writing down everything relevant to the Warblers (and especially Blaine). It proves useful when he has hard evidence that Blaine has a stalker.
  • In the Transformers fanfic series Black Crayons, Ironhide begins teaching Annabelle how to speak Cybertronian. First, it is a cute way learn about the Twin's pranking plans. Later, it becomes a life saving skill when she overhears a key piece of information from Starscream.
  • Jack's ability to memorize fingerprints on things to distinguish them from similar things helps him put out a fire at Dr. Brainstorm's lab in Calvin and Hobbes The Series.


  • Aliens
    • "Well, I can drive that loader."
    • During a lull in the action, Cpl. Hicks takes the time to teach Ripley how to use the Marines' weapons. This allow her to go on her Mama Bear rampage at the end.
  • Back to The Future: Marty holds onto cars while skateboarding in Part I in 1985. He uses the same trick in 1955 to escape Biff's gang on a plank with wheels, then on a hoverboard in Part 2 to steal the Almanac from Biff, and then to travel along a train in Part 3.
  • In Death Proof, it's established early on that two of the four heroines are stunt drivers, just like Stuntman Mike, which comes in handy during the car chase.
  • Planet Terror lampshades the trope, with Cherry listing off a number of her many "useless talents", all of which become quite useful during the final gunfight.
  • In Dragonheart: A New Beginning, Drake attempts to learn the lost dragon art of breathing ice. He never quite gets it down, but manages to pull it off in the climax of the final battle.
  • Face Off combines this with Chekhov's Gun when the villain (who thanks to a surgical face swap is posing as the hero) gives a knife to the hero's daughter and teaches her a technique for stabbing someone. Later, after he's shown his True Colors and is now threatening her, she pulls out the knife he gave her and stabs him the way he taught her.
  • Friday the 13 th Part 2: "Come on Ginny! Use some of that psychology you've been studying!"
  • In Iron Man, Tony Stark is testing his Mk. II armor's flight capabilities, and decides to break the altitude record, just because. He fails because the suit builds up a layer of ice which shorts out its systems; Tony later Hand Waves a fix for this. Later in the movie, he lures the Big Bad Iron Monger to similar altitudes, causing Iron Monger's suit to freeze up while his own suit is protected.
  • In Iron Man 2 a similar thing happens during the fight at his birthday, Tony and Rhodey connect repulsor blasts and cause an explosion, they later use the same technique to defeat Whiplash.
  • The Karate Kid: Paint the fence, paint the house, Wax On, Wax Off...Danny Laruso tended to use a new Chekhov's Skill as the main means of defeating opponents at the end of a movie. He tended to get his ass kicked across the screen for the remainder of all three movies. Each film featured a Chekhovs Skill, the most famous one being the Crane Kick. When the crane kick failed in the second movie, Daniel had to turn to the drum technique. The third movie had Daniel psych out his opponent his kata moves he learned, and in the fourth movie Julie used the praying mantis kick. The remake has Drey mimic the woman who was controlling the cobra with extreme concentration.
    • Also from the fourth movie: Julie learning how to fight blindfolded. It comes in handy when she cops A Handful for an Eye.
  • In Kill Bill Volume II, we learn in flashback that the Bride's amazing skills were taught to her by Pai Mei. This is effectively demonstrated in the Texas Funeral sequence (in which the utility of the one-inch punch triggered the flashback in the first place - also a Shout-Out to Bruce Lee). Then she uses the eye-pluck to permanently disable Elle Driver (foreshadowed thrice: a Crazy 88 henchman in Vol. I, Bill mentions it when he delivers her to Pai Mei, then Elle herself, in flashback, suffers it). Later, during the final duel with Bill, we finally see the Bride use Pai Mei's final secret, that he taught no one else: the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.
  • Quatermain, in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, spends a very Dramatic Scene teaching impudent Tom Sawyer how to shoot his elephant gun, counseling him on taking his time and feeling the shot. This is vitally important at the climax, when this skill is needed to take down the escaping Big Bad.
  • The original The Man Who Knew Too Much does it with guns.
  • In Master and Commander Stephen Maturin's interest in science is a constant thorn in Jack Aubrey's side; right up until one of his zoo specimen's gives him the necessary strategy to take down the enemy ship.
  • The wrap-the-ropes-around-the-pole-to-climb-it trick that Mulan figured out during the "I'll Make a Man Out of You" musical number, which she and her comrades used to infiltrate the Emperor's palace.
  • Mystery Men: It's a Running Gag throughout the film that Invisible Boy can only turn invisible when there are no people watching. Consequently, we never get to see him use his power; he is merely told "your time will come". In the climactic assault on Big Bad Casanova Frankenstein's lair, Invisible Boy is able to turn invisible in front of a camera-operated laser and thus circumnavigate it.
  • In Outlander, Wulfren challenges Kainen to a friendly contest of shield-jumping, and Kainen turns out to be the first person to match Wulfren's skill. Kainen later volunteers himself and Wulfren to serve as bait to trap a monster: they use shields atop posts as stepping-stones over the pit, and when the monster tries to follow, it falls in.
  • In Quest for Camelot Kayley defeats Big Bad Ruber by dodging out of the way of his strike at the last moment, causing him to put Excalibur back in the stone, a technique she learned from Garrett earlier in the movie.
  • Sky High gives us a bunch of sidekicks, each with rather strange powers (glowing, turning into a guinea pig, melting, making plants grow at will). And they all get their own Crowning Moment of Useful during the prom invasion.
  • In Star Wars A New Hope, Obi-Wan began teaching Luke about how to sense things out with the force and not rely on sight. This was used in a lightsaber training exercise, but a voice from beyond Obi-Wan gives Luke the same advice when it came to making the Million-to-One Chance of hitting the Death Star's Achilles' Heel, instead of relying on targeting computers that had failed another pilot before.
  • Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny is filled with these. The boys use their power slide to get through a closing security door and the infamous cock push-up to press a security button. While evading the police, KG uses his video game driving skills, though this point was mostly left on the cutting room floor. And, of course, they use the power of their rocking to save themselves from Satan.
  • Used straight and then inverted in Yes-Man. Carl learns to play guitar, speak Korean, and fly a plane. The ability to speak Korean and play guitar are used to his advantage...but the plane lessons and Korean get him targeted by Homeland Security.
  • In Zoolander, Derek Zoolander is obsessed with perfecting his new "Magnum" expression. Later, in the climax, he uses it to stop a shuriken aimed at the Prime Minister of Malaysia, halting the projectile in midair.
  • In Titanic, Jack teaches Rose how to "spit like a man," and she later uses it to get away from Cal when she distracts him by spitting in his eye
  • Early in the 2008 horror film, Train, when the protagonist is having doubts about her future in wrestling, her boyfriend, who's on the men's team, teaches her a move he calls the "Todd Patterson invincible double leg double hook throw". In the end, she uses this move to take out the last antagonist.
  • In Kung Fu Panda, Po uses all the skills he learned in his training, like the chopstick fight, in his final battle with Tai Lung.
    • In the sequel, Po has some difficulty mastering Shifu's "inner peace" form. When he finally attains inner peace and gets the move right, he is able to use it to defeat Shen's battery of cannons.
      • In all fairness, it's doubtful Shifu himself could've done it.
  • The Incredibles has Violet Parr only able to do tiny force fields, even failing to save her family members from an exploding plane, before finally getting the hang of it midway through and saving everyone every time she uses it.
    • Dash already knew how to run, of course, but he didn't know what superspeed could really do. He learns a great deal about his power during a chase sequence on the island, running from Syndrome's mooks, such as his ability to run on water. This is called back during the fight against the Omnidroid mk. 10.
  • In Cars, Lightning McQueen learns about backwards driving and opposite-lock drifting in Radiator Springs. Both skills prove crucial at the final Piston Cup race.
  • A three-second segment of a montage in Ratatouille shows that Linguini's a good rollerskater. This skill proves vital in the climax.
  • One Flintstones movie subverts it has Fred bowl a perfect game at the beginning. Then later own the villain has kidnapped Wilma and is standing on a bridge over a volcano, Fred picks up a round rock and bowls it at him completely misses.
  • Under Siege 2. Bobby Zach is taken out with a judo move used on him by Sarah Ryback (humorously). He is soon after shown practicing the move on himself. He finally puts it to some use when he throws skilled mercenary Afifi from a helicopter with the same move.
  • Lethal Weapon 2. Riggs wins a bet early in the movie by getting out of a straitjacket because he can dislocate his shoulder. This comes in handy when he is thrown in the ocean in a straitjacket.
  • In the Serbian film Underground, we learn that the electrician Blacky is completely immune to electric shocks. He can bite a live wire with no discomfort at all. Later, he easily resists Nazi Electric Torture to the point that a confused Nazi captor incapacitates himself trying to test the equipment for malfunction.
  • Surprisingly averted in The Brothers Bloom, in which Rachel Weisz's character is a "collector of hobbies" and has an untold number of skills revealed in a humorous montage. None of these skills actually come to help her in any way.
  • Averted in Honeymoon In Vegas. Although Nicholas Cage's character is a private investigator, this fact plays no part in his efforts to locate his fiancée.
  • The Host has Nam-joo, an archer who tends to hesitate too much. Obviously, both parts of this come into play by the end of the film.
  • In Big Trouble in Little China, Jack catches a bottle as it hurtles toward his face. Later he displays the same skill by catching a knife thrown at him.
  • Subverted in Demolition Man. Much is made of Spartan's implanted knitting skills, but the most that comes of it is when he makes Huxley a sweater by way of apology.
  • In Hostel, it's established in early scenes that Paxton speaks German. Later on, he uses it to plead for his life to his German torturer. It doesn't help much—he just ends up with a gag in his mouth as a result—but the torturer is visibly rattled by it.
  • One quick gag early in Aladdin establishes that Iago can imitate voices. Later in the movie he lures Aladdin away from the lamp by pretending to be Jasmine.
  • In The Lion King early on Simba wrestles with Nala as a cub and he never beats her (he finally does as an adult), later he uses these skills to defeat Scar in the end.
    • The fact that Nala always pins him is one of these in and of itself; it's how they wind up identifying each other as adults.
  • The Laurel and Hardy version of Babes in Toyland: At the beginning, Stan plays a game that ends up being his main means of attack in the final battle.
  • Marathon Man. Dustin Hoffman character's training as a marathon runner comes in handy when he escapes from ex-Nazi Szell and outruns his henchmen.
  • In Knight and Day, Tom Cruise gives Cameron Diaz a patient onscreen lesson on how to break free when an attacker grabs you from behind. She needs that skill a ridiculously short time later.
  • Julia Roberts' character in I Love Trouble (an eminently forgettable film) can palm small objects like coins. This comes in handy at the end of the movie.
  • It's established early on in the third Mission: Impossible film that Ethan can read lips; one of his superiors later has to silently mouth orders to him, so as not to arouse suspicion from a mole in IMF. Also, Ethan's wife is a nurse; the climax of the film has Ethan stopping his heart with an improvised defibrilator, his wife revives him with CPR.
  • About halfway through the first Toy Story film, Woody and Buzz Lightyear actually both get into an argument and fly out of the car they were in. During the said argument, Buzz actually slaps Woody in the face, causing it to spin 360 degrees. Woody then spins his head 360 degrees later in the film in order to scare Sid and save Buzz Lightyear.
  • During the start of Tron: Legacy, Sam displays athleticism as he was evading Encom security and the police, which he would need to survive the games.
    • Sam's motorcycle skills comes in handy when he is in the light cycle games. His BASE-jumping skills, shown as he escapes from the Encom tower, helps him and Quorra escape from Clu's quarters. Sam even lampshades this to Kevin.
  • Jim Hawkin's solar surfing which got him into trouble at the beginning of Treasure Planet proves to be vital and amazing in the climax when the Planet is self-destructing. He then uses a makeshift surfer using a sheet of metal and a severed cannon to fly back to a portal and change the destination to Montressor Spaceport. His resourcefulness, quick thinking, and Chekhov's Skill save the RLS Legacy and those on board from a very unpleasant demise. Small wonder why Jim is jailbait and Mr. Fanservice at the same time.
  • In Thor, Jane Forster's area of research is the creation of an Einstein-Rosen Bridge. After the Bifrost Bridge was destroyed, Jane now attempts to create a bridge from Earth in order to reach Asgard.
    • Also Loki's ability to create illusionary duplicates of himself.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean : Curse of the Black Pearl, Will Turner demonstrates his skill at throwing swords in his fight with Jack Sparrow at the beginning. This skill ends up saving Jack's life during the climax, as Will throws his sword to prevent Jack from falling too far when he is hanged.
    • Also, in On Stranger Tides, while you might not notice it when watching it for the first time, Scrum plays and sings "My Jolly Sailor Bold" at the Captain's Daughter. Later, he has to sing that song in order to attract mermaids.
  • In the South African comedy There's a Zulu On My Stoep (AKA Yankee Zulu), Zulu Mashebela was known as "the champion mud slinger of the world", able to throw mud (or anything mud-like) from a stick with deadly accuracy. In the end, this is not only used to defeat the Big Bad but also to reveal to his daughter that he is her father, who only knew this one fact about him.
  • In Birthday Girl, the protagonist is shown rigorously jogging every morning. Later, he is able to catch up to a slow-moving car.
  • Similarly, in The Lovely Bones, Lindsey's regular jogging allows her to outrun and escape Harvey.
  • About halfway through The Iron Giant, the title robot is blown up in an accident, but immediately starts putting himself back together. At the end of the film, the Giant explodes again and is supposedly killed after being blown up by an incoming missile, and moments later, he immediately starts putting himself back together again meaning that he actually survived.
  • Executive Decision: In his very first scene, David Grant lands a small airplane during a flying lesson. He is very nervous about his first solo flight and remarks, "God, why am I doing this?" At the end of the film, both pilots of the hijacked 747 are shot dead and David must land the plane.
  • In Hot Rod, Rod learns a Tai Chi move that makes the target lose control of their bowels from Denise. In the ending, he uses this technique on his stepfather as a finishing move.
  • In The Swan Princess, early on while doing survival training Derek's friend Bromley is instructed to shoot an arrow at Derek's heart and in turn shoot the apple off his head he succeeds, later he uses this skill to kill Rothbart.
  • In Galaxy Quest, Jason Nesmith decides to try doing his signature "forward-roll" maneuver (that he hadn't done since the show ended) when the crew first lands on the rock planet. Gwen DeMarco asks Nesmith why he's doing it, and Nesmith remarks that he hasn't done it in many years and wanted to try it out. It comes in handy during the second-last scene where, after Sarris emerges from the wreckage of the ship, Nesmith grabs Tommy Webber's gun before using the forward-roll maneuver and gets in place to shoot him.
  • In Cowboys and Aliens, Meacham spends time teaching "Doc" how to shoot a rifle. Later, Doc uses that rifle to pick off an alien that's about to take down Colonel Dolarhyde.
  • During their vacation in A Goofy Movie, Goofy teaches his son Max how to perform "The Perfect Cast." This winds up saving Goofy's life later.
  • Black Widow's introduction in The Avengers has her "interrogating" an arms dealer by making him think he's outsmarted her, has her at his mercy, and is free to monologue, thus revealing information. She later uses this same strategy against Loki when he thinks he's caused her to have a Heroic BSOD .


  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 novel Titanicus, Golla Ulduna is introduced as a midwife, to emphasize the insanity of her being called up as part of the tertiary reserve. But when they find a princeps in the ruins of his engine, Golla is able to get him breathing air again, just as she would get a baby breathing.
  • Robert Heinlein is rather fond of this trope. The skill in question is usually some sort of mechanical engineering, which the main character does as a hobby, but ends up saving his life later.
    • One particular example is noteworthy because it's the premise for the entire novel. In Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, the main character wins the titular suit in a contest. He spends his free time from then on making it space-worthy, and gets it fully operational just in time for him to be the Right Man in the Wrong Place to save all of humanity.
  • At the beginning of the second The Wheel of Time book, Lan is giving Rand training in swordfighting, and insists to never use the "Heron Wading in the Rushes" technique—a stance lifting your sword high, that leaves yourself open to attack so that you have a chance to strike.
    • Turns into a real problem when shortly there after, Lan tells him of the technique "Sheathing the Sword" taking an attack so you have a chance to strike.
      • A Chekhov's Skill in the making, Mat, Thom and Oliver are constantly seen playing Snakes and Foxes, a kids game, which Mat is openly dismissive of. By the end of book 11 it has become clear that the game is an instruction manual for invading the world of the Finn and defeating them, which those three are well on their way to doing to save Moraine.
  • Happens many times in Harry Potter, usually in regards to an important spell they need to learn.
    • Any specifically named spell, even from the Unforgivable Curses from the Bad Guys, eventually gets used at least once during a key event.
    • A good non-spell example is Ron's skill in chess. Sadly it isn't mentioned much after the first book.
    • Also Harry's superb flying and Snitch-catching skills make appearances throughout the series, usually with the line "Harry wasn't the youngest Seeker in 100 years for nothing."
    • Ancient Runes is one of the many electives Hermione is mentioned taking. In the seventh book, She translates The Tales of Beedle the Bard from runes, leading them to the story of the Deathly Hallows.
    • Harry being a Parseltongue. Him being able to speak the language of serpents appears in The Philosopher's Stone as an example of all the weird things happening around him. Since it doesn't come up again in the rest of the book, one could think it was nothing unusual in the magical world. However, in The Chamber Of Secrets, Harry learns that this ability is extremely rare and only previously appeared in descendants of Salazar Slytherin. The skill ultimately allows Harry to enter the Chamber and fight the basilisk inside. More importantly, it is later revealed that Voldemort possessed this ability and inadvertently passed it on during his first attempt to kill him. Thus, Harry being a Parseltongue helped to slyly foreshadow that he was one of Voldemort's Horcruxes all along.
  • Every other Hardy Boys novel had Chet Morton take up some hilarious new hobby, such as ventriloquism or shot-putting. These skills would always come in handy by the end of the book, and would never be referenced again in any later books.
  • It's learned quite a while before the book, but in The X Wing Series Face, a former child actor, was stated to have lived on Lorrd for a while, a planet whose hat was body language and the reading of such. He uses what he picked up to Sherlock Scan how people walk. This does come up again.
  • Subverted in the first Xanth book: Bink learns some throws from Crombie before the two part ways, and in a confrontation with Evil Magician Trent, uses one. Trent, an experienced warrior, counters expertly, while politely pointing out that amateur moves like that just don't work on a skilled opponent.
  • Justified in A Prayer for Owen Meany. Owen is too short to dunk a basketball effectively, but he's so lightweight that when he jumps into Johnny's arms Johnny can lift him high enough for a proper dunk. Owen insists that the pair practice this, and that what matters is being able to do it in under three seconds. (The narrator also finds out later that Owen was practicing how to perfectly pronounce a specific Vietnamese phrase). As it turns out, Owen is Dreaming of Things to Come, and he knows exactly what situation this will be useful for.
    • In Simon Birch, the extremely loose movie adaptation, the Skills are, instead: "holding your breath underwater for an extended period of time" and "almost supernatural ability to command other kids", both of which become useful for rescuing a bunch of kids trapped in a submerged bus.
  • Used to good effect in Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede. The main character spends the first chapter learning skills her parents think are useless. She spends the rest of the book using those skills to melt wizards with lemony dishwater.
  • In Matthew Reilly's Hover Car Racer, Jason's Crazy Prepared mentor teaches him what to do in any situation that might come up in a race, including how to do a manual pit stop if the power is cut off. This skill allows him to cut a 30 second lead in an important race.
  • The first chapter of Desmond Bagley's thriller The Vivero Letter briefly mentions the hero's hobbies of fencing and SCUBA-diving. The diving later comes in handy for underwater archeology, and at the story's climax the hero kills the Big Bad in a hand-to-hand duel with machetes in which his training in sabre fencing gives him the edge.
  • In Black Dogs a secondary character reveals that she is a demon, and trusts the protagonist with her true name in case a situation ever arose again where a sorcerer tried to banish her (which happened in a recent fight). Later on in the fight between the protagonist and the Big Bad, in a moment of desperation she speaks her friend's true name and she appears in full-demon form to help deal with the Big Bad's summoned demon.
  • In Zora Neale Hurston's Moses, Man of the Mountain, when Moses is learning magic from his tutor Jethro he is particularly skilled at summoning large amounts of vermin. Those familiar with a certain other work will realize this comes in handy later in convincing the pharaoh to free the Hebrews.
  • In the Vatta's War saga, several characters either off-page has learned something, or in the books learns something that turns out to be useful. Examples: Grace Vatta being the company spy and fruitcake maker extraordinaire, and Kylara Vatta having been trained in the military as well as learning how to use fairly exotic weapons, which all turn out to be useful.
  • In Ranger's Apprentice, Gilan teaches Will how to use two knives to defend himself with a sword and has Horace practice with him. Horace later uses this skill to win his duel with Lord Morgorath when his sword is sliced in half, leaving him with a "useless" sword and a dagger.
  • In book one of The Sharing Knife, Dag says offhand to Whit that someday he'll teach him archery. In book three, it turns out Whit has been practising, and Dag gives him more lessons. In book four, Whit buys a crossbow. Towards the end of book four, Whit shoots down a flying malice with a sharing knife that's been converted into a crossbow bolt.
  • Averted at one point in the Belgariad. Early on Silk demonstrates the ability to alter the appearance of his face through muscle movements. He uses this as a prank on his teammates, and it then never comes up again.
  • This shows up twice in The Pale King: Leonard's medical knowledge and Toni's ability to not blink for minutes at a time.
  • All the undersea settlers in Dark Life know sign language. This comes in handy when Ty needs to communcate with a mute man. Justified in that sign language is necessary to communicate while diving.
  • In the novel My Louisiana Sky, by Kimberly Willis Holt, Lonnie Parker can forecast the weather by watching the behavior of animals. In the novel's climax, he realizes that a hurricane will hit, and convinces his co-workers to shelter the seedlings at the plant nursery where he works in time, so they aren't destroyed.
  • In Heather Tomlinson's novel The Swan Maiden, Lady Doucette is brought up knowing how to supervise those who care for a castle. This is useful later when she magically builds her own.
  • In Dorothy Gilman's The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax, the titular character started learning karate from a retired police sergeant. This came in handy several times later on in the series.
  • Most spells in Septimus Heap are used in this manner: Introduced in the beginning of a book as almost random spells, then used in the climax to plot-deciding effect.
  • In the A to Z Mysteries book The Bald Bandit, Ruth Rose's ability to scream really loudly comes in handy when the Bald Bandit tries to kidnap her.
  • Ruth Mallory in Someone Elses War has a wide array of culinary knowledge. Early on, she mentions in what is supposed to be a throwaway joke that cassava is poisonous uncooked; if she only had some cassava root on hand, she could trick the LRA enforcers with it. Toward the very end of the novel, the LRA gets relocated to a jungle filled with cassava. Matteo doesn't even realize what's happening when the adults around him start dying.

Live Action TV

  • Jericho has Robert teach his daughter to shoot to better defend herself from the uncertainties in their After the End world. Not only does it bring this estranged father and daughter together, but six episodes later she saves his life.
  • iCarly: In Spencer's 3-day stay in law school, he managed to learn some of the most basic knowledge in law also with the help of his law book. His "background" becomes very handy whenever the gang encounters legal matters like in iPromote Techfoots and iOwe You.
    • Sam's unerring ability to pick locks (as much as using a sharpened duck bone) has been of great help to Carly and Freddie (or assault Freddie from his apartment) in a lot of episodes.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Elena spends some time lifting weights and training so that she can protect herself against vampires.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures Alan is established as a former Skateboard champ in the first part of one story, guess how he KOs an alien in the second part? It was even joked about as being "Chekhov's Skateboard" on Outpost Gallifrey.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Bloodlust", there is an early scene where the heroine goofily tackles the hero (for no apparent reason) causing him to jokingly remark that he shouldn't have gotten involved with "the daughter of a judo expert." Sure enough, the movie later contains a scene where the heroine uses her judo skills to dump a mook into a vat of acid.
  • In one episode of Monk, Randy spends most of his time playing jenga. In the showdown at the end of the episode, he uses these skills to knock out the bad guy using a stack of lumber.
    • In another episode, we find out Adrian met his wife when she wrote her phone number on a piece of paper on his back, for another guy. Natalie refers to this as a really useless superpower. Later in the episode he's able to find out where someone is staying as she wrote it on his back at the beginning of the episode.
  • The Wire: Snoop and Chris teach Michael how to pull off murders, which allows him to figure out when * he* is being set up for one and turn the tables.
  • In an episode of Sister, Sister, Lisa claims that she has a sixth sense, citing that she once saw a ghost of a relative. This is played off as a joke, Laugh Track and all. Later in the episode, she meets the ghost of Ray's old wife.
  • Not really a "skill" per se, but the fact that Sam Tyler was a DCI in 2007 while a DI (one rank below DCI) after going back to 1973 becomes very important in the final episode of Life On Mars.
  • In one of the first episodes of Power Rangers RPM, Ziggy mentions that he is good with shadow puppets, something treated as a joke. This skill manages to save the Rangers' lives at least once or twice over the course of the series.
  • In Season 2 of Lost, Locke teaches Michael how to use a gun. Big mistake.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angelus shows that he is really, really skilled at sketching, but it's not really commented on. Two years later on Angel, this is very plot important for the whole season as he has to discover what the visions from the PTB are by sketching them from descriptions.
  • In Torchwood, Gwen's husband is a truck driver. In the miniseries Children of Earth, he uses his knowledge of trucks (his company in particular) to save himself and Gwen at a critical moment.
    • It's useful before that as once he learns about Torchwood in the episode "Meat", he uses the truck to sneak Torchwood into the factory hiding a suffering creature the workers are harvesting meat from while it's still alive. It's also useful in the second miniseries Torchwood: Miracle Day when he and Gwen save Gwen's father from the overspill camps.
  • Pretty much the basis of the show Psych, in which almost every episode begins with Shawn being taught a skill by his dad when he was a kid, only to flash-forward to the future and see it come in handy.
    • Subverted in a recent episode where Shawn and Gus's Three-Legged Race "skills" are demonstrated, and when it comes up in the episode...they trip on a stump and fall down a hill.
  • In season three of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow and Buffy joke a few times about how Willow's witchcraft has only progressed to the point of levitating pencils. This later turns out to be a very useful skill in a world where vampires are intensely weak to pointed wooden objects.
    • To some small degree Xander's experience as a construction worker. In the final battle of the Season 5 it allows him to attack the Nigh Invulnerable Big Bad with a wrecking ball. Just a distraction to be sure, but an awesome one.
  • In Highlander the Series, newly immortal Richie makes an enemy of an female immortal who was friends with Duncan. Duncan trains him to counter a specific move she likes to use. Naturally, he's able to win the fight using it, but chooses not to take her head.
  • The Jonathan Creek episode "The Three Gamblers" opens with Jonathan's birthday, and Maddie has given him a book called Cards As Weapons by one of his magic heroes, Ricky Jay. Later in the episode he's practicing the tricks in the book. At the climax he uses a well-thrown playing card to save Maddie's life.
  • In Leverage's "The Bottle Job," we see a flashback to Nate's dad breaking a guy's fingers while young Nate watched. At the end of the episode, Nate breaks Doyle's fingers in the same way to provide a little extra emphasis to telling Doyle to get out of town and never come back.
  • In the Merlin series (the one with Sam Neill) and novelization, Merlin uses his magic this way. At the end of the film, he restores the youth of himself and Nimue using the same Hand-Wizardry that didn't work while Mab was alive. The novelization goes further, by elaborating that Merlin has the power to alter reality by combining fairy illusion with human feeling, something only Half Human Hybrids can do, a trick he only uses once early on but later uses in the final book of the trilogy.
  • The Gates: To break the ice when trying to talk to his son in "Identity Crisis", Nick performs an old sleight of hand trick, making a coin disappear from his hand. Later, he uses the same trick to hide a flash drive containing info on the identities of ~10,000 vampires.
  • In Doctor Who, Donna Noble's claim that she is 'the best temp in Chiswick' seems somewhat irrelevant, but comes in handy on several occasions: in realizing that not one member of the staff at ATMOS had ever taken a single day of sick leave, and they were in fact hypnotized drones, in noticing that the numbers throughout the underground of Messaline were datestamps, and in operating Davros' typewriter-like death ship control panel, for example.
  • In "The Great Game," in Sherlock, Sherlock showcases his ability to judge fluctuations in weight to the half-pound, by commenting on Molly's three pound weight gain (though she claims it's only two and a half). A similar skill helped him deduce Irene Adler's exact measurements in "The Scandal in Belgravia."
    • Inverted in the same episode: John casually mentions at the beginning of the episode, to everyone's hilarity, that Sherlock has no idea the earth revolves around the sun; near the episode's end Sherlock almost fails to solve a case in time because of his lack of knowledge about the solar system. John lampshades this nicely.
  • In the pilot of Pushing Daisies, Aunt Lily manages to get back at her would-be killer after he tries to strangle her with a paper bag. As a former member of a renowned synchronized swimming duo, she can hold her breath for a long time.
  • The Shadow Line has DS Lia Honey's sniping, which is demonstrated in the final episode's pre-credits sequence and ends up playing into the episode's climax in a big way.
  • An episode of The Master (shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000 as Master Ninja II) did this TWICE, once for each main character.
    • The Master's ability to stop his heart and thus fake his death fools the baddie of the week. Though when he later explains it actually COULD kill him if he overuses it, one wonders why he wasted one of his attempts screwing with Max's head in the hotel at the start of the episode.
    • Max being forced to work on his cardio is rather useful when he needs to cross town by foot when he loses the van.
  • Parodied in the pilot episode of Arrested Development: one of Buster Bluth several graduate degrees is stated to be in cartography. When the SEC close in on the family while they are on their yacht, we get this exchange:

Lindsay: You’ve had $80,000 worth of cartography lessons. Get us a channel to the ocean.
Buster: Okay, okay, okay. [beat] Obviously this blue part here is the land.


  • In Three's Company, Jack complains about how their old roommate Chrissy's way of opening the door forcefully kept causing injuries, and attempts to teach her the right way. Then at the end of the episode, Jack, Mr. Furley, Janet, and the new girl were held at gunpoint by a psychopath who robbed the store earlier (the newspaper claimed that Jack saw the robber's face). After they knocked out the cop detailed to protect them, Chrissy bursts in and knocks out the robber. Jack asks her if she knows what she's done and she apologizes.
  • Subtle example from the Zordon era of Power Rangers. Mighty Morphin through Zeo, some of the Rangers taught martial arts to some of the people of Angel Grove. Those lessons would pay off during the big invasion in Power Rangers in Space.
  • On NCIS Tim McGee's second career as a bestselling author (under a pseudonym) is usually the subject for jokes once found out, but in one episode when they need to get someone into an exclusive club, Gibbs realizes they don't need work to get in; they've already got a celebrity who would be invited past the velvet rope. To enhance the effect McGee arrives in the expensive sports car he'd earlier mentioned he'd just bought with Ziva and Abbie hanging off his arms.

Video Games

  • The Zelda series typically has the boss of each dungeon's weakness based around whatever piece equipment Link finds in (and sometimes before) it. For example, if you find the Bow expect to be shooting arrows at a weak spot, if you find a hammer then expect to smash some armour and so on. The more recent a game is, the more they do this.
    • Early on in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, Link can learn how to use Din's Fire, a reasonably useful area-effect fire spell, but like the other magic spells, not perfectly necessary. It isn't until he gets to the Shadow Temple that Din's Fire becomes essential, as its the only way to light the torches at once and open the doorway.
    • In Oracle Of Seasons, the Rod of Seasons can be used to smack enemies out of the way, but it doesn't actually do any damage, which makes it pretty much useless...right up until phase 2 of the final boss.
    • And odd little one shows up in in The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess. Near the beginning of the game, if you speak to the mayor of the village, a goat comes flying out of the Ordon ranch, and you either catch it by holding 'A' or get run over. This 'skill' is used in the final fight with Ganondorf, while you're both in animal form.
      • The goat-catching skill comes into play a lot earlier, when Link is climbing Death Mountain and ends up dealing with charging Gorons in the same manner, officially making this a Chekhov's Boomerang.
  • In Tales of Eternia, Rid gets the Kyokku skills (Aurora Artes) in three parts. The first two form his two-stage "Hi-Ougi", the high-powered low-HP sort of move most Tales leads get at some point. The last one is completely useless (and unusable) except as a requirement for the final Puzzle Boss.
  • Inverted in Jade Empire, where many characters comment on a mysterious seemingly unexploitable "flaw" in the protagonist's martial arts, one or two theorising that his teacher included it to trap opponents. Once the nature of the flaw is revealed it turns the plot completely upside-down.
  • In Trauma Center: New Blood, Valerie drags the operating team to a demonstration held by her friend. Unfortunately, she doesn't realize that her friend became a veterinarian. Any attempts to salvage the situation as having learned something useful are shot down by Markus as being highly unlikely, since human doctors would never have to operate on a dog. Much later in the game, a dog that had been given to them is shot, and they decide to use the skills they learned earlier to operate on it.
  • Parodied in Final Fantasy IX - early in the game, Vivi, being too naive to understand how to escape a captor, is easily kidnapped from the party. With Garnet standing right next to him, Zidane explains how to successfully resist capture. Later in the game, when Garnet is about to be captured, she only remembers to yell "Let go of me, you scumbag!", to the perplexity of the villains who then proceed to grab her anyway.
    • The trope is inverted in Disc 3. Kuja's final plan is to use the power of Trance, the game's Limit Break mechanic.
  • Inverted in Final Fantasy VIII - Ultimecia's trump card is summoning Griever, and finally, Junctioning with it.
  • Chekhov's Gun are the order of the day in any Point and Click Adventure, since most objects you can pick up will undoubtedly become useful later. The Monkey Island series also includes the occasional skill.
    • Insult Swordfighting, which is required to progress through several points in the game.
    • A neater example comes at the end of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: at the beginning of the game, you were taught how to make a voodoo doll to defeat Largo LaGrande. At the end of the game, you must recall this skill to defeat LeChuck.
    • The most amusing example comes from the first game, in which Guybrush mentions that one of his qualifications for becoming a pirate is to be able to hold his breath for ten minutes. Later in the game, someone attempts to drown him...and the player has exactly ten real world minutes to get him out of the water. This is also the only way Guybrush can actually die during the game.
  • In Devil May Cry 4, Nero, not Dante, is the main character of this one. One key feature of his gameplay is his claw, the Devil Bringer. You kill the final boss exclusively with it.
  • In Mech Assault 2, a key gameplay gimmick was the power armor that could latch onto the body of a mech, hack into it and force the pilot to eject so you could jack it. The last boss is a new, ancient mech that is crawling on it's hands because it's incomplete. You have no mech and the situation looks bleak. The only way to kill it is, yes! Latch onto it and hack it to it reveals a weakpoint.
  • Shinobi for Ps2: Your sword, Akujiki, will kill you unless you satisfy it's hunger for souls. At the end of the game, the homosexual-looking wizard reveals his true goals all along. Turn everyone in Japan into demons, set you loose against them, and steal the cursed sword once it's full. Oh, wait. You can use the Tate system you've been using the whole time to kill him instantly.
  • In EarthBound, Paula's 'Pray' ability seems somewhat useless and unnecessary at first. You have to use it to kill the final boss.
  • The first Fallout game included an optional perk called "Mental Block". This perk would allow you to resist the Master's psychic attacks, with the game describing it as "the ability to tune out any outside mental interference. You must have learned this talent from a passing guru, or from a really late night at a bar."
  • At the start of Wild ARMs 4, Jude Maverick is scolded for missing his sword-fighting lessons. Completely averted when he is then given a gun to use for the rest of the game.
  • In Banjo-Kazooie, one of the many basic moves learned at the beginning of the game is a crouch attack which propels you forwards. However, with the huge amount of other moves at your disposal, especially the other crouching moves, it can be easily forgotten fairly quickly. So, when you're trying to get a MacGuffin by destroying multiple outer layers that can only be broken with a specific move in a specific marked spot, you might just end up scratching your head at what move you need to do for that really low spot...
  • At roughly the midpoint of the main quest in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, you learn the Thu'um Clear Skies, which you use to reach Paarthurnax by clearing away the freezing mist on the Throat of the World. This Shout gets used again in Sovngarde, to clear the Misterious Mist Alduin has shrouded the place with and provoke him to battle.


  • From A Modest Destiny the main character learns how to control his shadow as a joke. It isn't mentioned again until he's facing down the Big Bad, when he uses this power to defeat him
  • Order of the Stick: Roy's grandfather takes the time to teach him a special move to disrupt spellcasting while they chill in the afterlife. The likelihood of this not coming back to play an important role later is approximately nil.
    • Earlier in the series, when Vaarsuvius is polymorphed into a lizard, s/he finds that only three of his/her spells will work in this new form: Hold Portal, Feather Fall, and Suggestion, all of which seem basically useless. Naturally the party find themselves stumbling over a steep slope, requiring Feather Fall, and then meet a dragon who speaks Lizard and is therefore a valid target for Suggestion. In a subversion, Hold Portal doesn't work when it could have been used because there are no portals around to hold.
      • This becomes a bit of a Chekhov's Boomerang later when Vaarsuvius is paralyzed during an attack but has the foresight to have these spells memorized just in case a similar circumstance would occur again.
  • We learn during Schlock's origin story that carbosilicate amorphs were basically evolved from advanced data storage systems. This becomes important in another story arc much later when a piece of Schlock is used to rescue a rogue A.I.
  • In Venus Envy, Zoe's Tai Chi comes in useful when Nina comes at her with a knife. Would have worked out great if not for the fact Zoe was holding something herself afterward.
  • In El Goonish Shive, it took nearly eight years to explain how Susan made a sword appear back during the Sister arc.
  • In episode 176 of Roommates, we see Jamie put to use the dramatic rope skills he learned from Erik all the way back in episode 68, over 32 months prior.
  • In The Fancy Adventures of Jack Cannon, the one in charge of Jack's Training from Hell was his Knife Nut mother. This finally becomes relevant on page three-hundred and fifty-eight.

Jack: FINALLY! DO YOU HAVE. ANY. IDEA. how long I've been waiting for someone to throw a knife at me?


Web Original

  • Just before their first encounter with the Brain Trust, Achilles of the Global Guardians teaches his teammate Arachne how to use a pick to open a set of handcuffs while her hands are cuffed behind her back. By the end of the story, she's used this brand new skill twice.
  • This sometimes happens in Survival of the Fittest with the profiles of the characters. Newbies often try to cram in as many potentially useful skills as possible (such as survival training, firearm proficiency and martial arts. Made ridiculous when you consider that the characters are supposed to be Ordinary High School Students
  • In the Whateley Universe novel Ayla and the Tests, five-foot-nothing Phase is pushed by a teacher to use his particular Warper power to take over a size-Warper's power. In a different novel, "Boston Brawl 2", Phase figures out how to use this trick to beat the holy crap out of a forty-foot giant.
    • And an awful lot of what the teenagers learn in martial arts class. Aquerna learns a couple cool moves, plus Le Parkour, and she uses those in every one of her own stories.
    • Or else what students learn in the 'Survival' class, like what Heyoka learned, allowing her to beat Captain Canada! in their combat final.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series, Kimo (the guy who always talks about his hair) mentions taking child grabbing classes. It comes in handy several times.

Kimo: Attention duelists! Those child grabbing classes were worth every penny!


Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender. After his initial Earth Bending training, the third season reveals that Toph had trained Aang to sense movement through Earth Bending like she does, which he used later on.
    • In "The Puppetmaster", Katara learns a particular nasty technique called Bloodbending that allows her to control someone when empowered by the full moon. The episode makes it very clear she does not like the technique. She does use it later, but her willingness to use this technique to torture someone does a good job of showing her vicious side.
    • Iroh's original technique of redirecting lightning was first demonstrated in the first season with little fanfare. In the early second season Azula demonstrates the ability to actually generate lightning, where Iroh reused that technique against her. This prompts Zuko to request to be trained in the art of lightning bending. After failing to use the regular lightning strike, Iroh teaches him the redirect technique, but refuses to help him practice with actual lightning. Needless to say, Zuko does have to put that training to use over a season later, though not against Azula.
      • Zuko would also pass the technique on to Aang, who uses it to avoid a fatal blow from Fire Lord Ozai in the finale.
  • In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra "A Leaf in the Wind" Young Airbender Jinora demonstrates the spiral dodging movements and footwork that form the base tactics of her Supernatural Martial Arts, which teenaged Avatar Korra struggles to master, until a Die or Fly moment in a pro-bending match causes her to relate the movements in the abstract to dodging the attacks of her opponents.
    • Asami's defense training, which allows her to quickly subdue her father and The Lieutenant.
  • In The Simpsons Movie, Homer has to do a stunt with a motorcycle inside of a spherical cage in order to win a new car. He then uses this same stunt at the end of the movie with the glass sphere surrounding Springfield in order to save the city from a bomb.
  • Jonny Quest
    • In the TOS episode "The Mystery of the Lizard Men", Jonny learns a judo throw from Race Bannon that he later uses on one of the title opponents.
    • In the series premiere of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, "Darkest Fathoms", Jonny is seen to be practicing how to escape from being tied up. Later in the episode, he is captured by pirates and uses this skill to get free (and save Jessie and his dad while he's at it).
  • Part Two of The Fairly OddParents TV movie trilogy "Wishology", Baby Poof is seen watching a ninja film based very loosely on what happened in Part One. Wanda proceeds to turn it off, as it is "too violent for him." During the next few minutes, Poof kicks, punches, and generally bounces around the room. Later, Timmy's friends, family and godparents have all been captured by the Eliminators, who came back from the Darkness, which apparently was only slowed down after Part One. Poof is the only one who can go through the bars of their cell, and when threatened by the Eliminators, he dons a blanket around his head and body, smears eyeliner on his face for a shadow, and proceeds to kick ass big time.
  • Subverted (hilariously, by the way) in South Park, where Stan goes through the Training Montage, only to win his climactic ski race with the same two skills he learned near the beginning: pizza, french fries. The actual difference is made when the Meganekko flashes the Jerk Jock and stuns him for more than enough time for Stan to cross the finish line first.
    • Played straight in a later episode where Randy becomes obsessed with Food Network and Sharon ends up getting a Shake Weight. Her use of it culminates with her giving a handjob to Randy at the end of the episode, curing him of his Food Network fixation.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door Operation Z.E.R.O. Number One has learned a new fighting style which allows him to take down four enemies at once, each time he is about to use it he is interrupted, he does eventually get to use it in the finale to take down his agified zombie friends.
  • In Batman: Under the Red Hood, this is done in reverse with Red Hood cutting the line before it goes taut, and Jason Todd as Robin doing the same thing in a flashback.
  • Regular Show takes this to its usual ridiculous extremes in "The Power": Rigby claims "Hamboning will save your life someday!", and is proven correct when he uses hamboning to distract a giant monster.
  • In The Tigger Movie, Tigger teaches Roo the "whoopty-dooper loopty looper alley-ooper bounce" (essentially a bounce, but BIGGER), which comes up again near the end when they have to escape from an avalanche.
  • In Wild Kratts any discussed animal ability gets used to achieve that episode's goal, whether it's to free the animals from Zach Varmitech or just getting their gear back.
  • In the American Dad episode "With Friends Like Steve's", Steve expresses utter boredom with all of Stan's CIA tricks like speaking Dolphin and stealing uniforms. After he gets shipped off to a prison camp on an oil rig, Steve uses all these skills to escape.
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode "A Little Piece Of Home", Lois throws scrunched up paper balls into a wastepaper basket early in the episode and claims it helps her think. Later on she has to throw a chunk of Kryptonite into a lead goblet so that Superman can fight a mechanical T-Rex
  • In Thundercats 2011, Young Hero Lion-O is introduced as a hobbyist Collector of the Strange, acquiring and tinkering with Black Market Lost Technology. Though rudimentary, his familiarity with it helps him figure the user interface of a Black Box that he uses to blow up Walking Tanks invading his city, and, as time goes on, gives him a leg up on his companions when they encounter Schizo-Tech.
  • Christy's marble skills in Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation are used to save the Care Bears from their Crystal Prison.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Twilight Sparkle is shown as very organized in "Winter Wrap-Up". It comes in handy when she's not allowed to use her unicorn magic to help clean up the winter weather in preparation for spring, but eventually learns the clean-up efforts of her friends and neighbors are horribly disorganized.

Real Life

  • In an interesting real life example, Astronaut Jim Lovell, during his flight on Apollo 8, remarked that he could use a portion of the Earth as a reference point to control his spacecraft's attitude should his guidance computer fail. During his Apollo 13 flight, an explosion forced the crew to shut down their guidance computers to conserve power. When he had to fire his engine to correct his craft's trajectory, he used the very same technique he came up with a year and a half earlier.
  • Steve Jobs took a course in calligraphy at college. It later proved invaluable in Apple pioneering the Graphical User interface. Now think of how far CGI has gone ahead since that development.