Talk:Deus ex machina

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I added an 'Examples' header, as I found myself reading examples when I expected criticism, ruining the endings of a couple of things I haven't seen / read.

Last two paragraphs.[edit]

The last two paragraphs are completely useless, in my opinion. I suggest deletion for them.

I agree. The bit about Battlestar Galactica strikes me as original research--or something in that kind--where are the references to support such 'arguing'? --Anzuhan (talk) 07:10, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
I concur that Battlestar Galactica should be removed as an example of the subject. It's a matter of opinion and there's strong dissent to it. The specifics are best left to the appropriate BSG page. — Preceding unsigned comment added by TheLastBrainLeft (talkcontribs) 17:40, 6 July 2011 (UTC)


I cleansed most of the examples because none of them improved the article. They were simply arbitrarily-chosen examples from modern fiction. I left the opera example in place because it illustrated another use of 'deus ex machina' that was not otherwise explained. Chris Croy (talk) 17:24, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

Negative Connotation of DEM[edit]

"...The term is a negative one, and it often implies a lack of skill on the part of the writer." I believe the source didn't give enough explaination about why the use of a DEM showed the writer has "no skill". Please try to repair with adequite sources.--SpartaGeek23 (talk) 19:40, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

I have edited out the "bad writer" reference and the source. anyone else can replace if suitable evidence can be found that all writers who use a Deus Ex Machina are horrible.--SpartaGeek23 (talk) 20:49, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
It's not that the writers who use it are bad or lack skill, necessarily. It's just a lazy way to do things that's less satisfying to the audience: presenting them with a puzzle and when they can't figure it out, say "Oh, by the way, I changed the rules".--Loodog (talk) 20:59, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

Writers who use a deus ex machina lack skill. It takes artistic skill and ability to write a plot that can be resolved without introducing extraneous elements. Try it yourself and see if it is easy for anyone to do.Lestrade (talk) 20:13, 4 December 2008 (UTC)Lestrade

Stephen King[edit]

Should his penchant for DEM endings be mentioned? -- (talk) 22:59, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

No, but we do need one clear example to demonstrate the subject.--Loodog (talk) 00:01, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
The problem is that if we have ANY sort of 'list' of examples, well-meaning fans will endlessly add examples of DEM that don't improve the article. This would be a prime example: How would this article be better by mentioning "Steven King uses it a lot"? Would anyone familiar with the concept look at the article and say to themselves, "The bastards! They forgot about King!"? But I agree: If someone would add a single, solid, well-known modern use in a paragraph of prose, that would be great. Chris Croy (talk) 02:29, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
The classic Stephen King example is in the Dark Tower series where he, as the author of the book, places medicine in a medicine cabinet for a character as a penance. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:46, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
I thought the Superman example was good. It was an obvious and well-known Deus ex machina.--Loodog (talk) 20:19, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. It's well-known and pretty much everyone has the exact same reaction when first exposed to it: "...he flies so fast he turns back time? wtf?" You want to add it back in or shall I? Chris Croy (talk) 20:37, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
I put it back and added a HTML comment to users to not examples without discussion on the talk page.--Loodog (talk) 20:55, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Wasn't his ability alluded to earlier in the movie? It's been a while, but as I recall, Jor-El's recording specifically warns him not to travel through time, implying that he has the ability to begin with. Caswin (talk) 23:29, 9 June 2008 (UTC)
"It is forbidden to interfere with earth's history". If that somehow conveys to the audience, "Superman has the ability to time travel," it's only in the vaguest possible way.--Loodog (talk) 00:56, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, that's the one. It's certainly not very clear-cut, but it's still meant as foreshadowing, as supported by how the movie revisits the warning just before Superman does exactly that. And while I doubt many people at all could have seen it coming, it didn't just come out of nowhere, either. If the Superman example remains, I propose that it should be amended to reflect this. Caswin (talk) 03:49, 10 June 2008 (UTC)
Re Steve King and the DEM plot resolution device: I think a prime example of King's use of DEM (there are many others; I choose this one because it is most salient) is in 'The Stand'. All the characters, good and evil are assembled for some sort of showdown and POW! the hand of God intervenes. This is a pretty clear example of DEM to me, especially given that God Himself helps to bring the novel to its conclusion~~Ursito —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:16, 6 May 2010 (UTC)
That's not the hand of God - it's a nuclear device being detonated!Vonbontee (talk) 09:47, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Negative Connotation of DEM, An Argument Against[edit]

The word 'contrived' has a negative connotation and therefore I am not sure it fits the definition. Since before the time of Spinoza and Descartes, people have believed in the notion that within the mechanics or system of any object (man made or not) there is some form (Plato) of spiritual presence or entity, and this notion is replete almost throughout all artistic expression and throughout the world. Plato points out that artistic expression itself (through Forms) is imbued with this kind of metaphysical presence. It is only in recent times that we think of mechanics (even the mechanics of a crane) as begin devoid of spiritual presence or influence through underlying spiritual design; yet that is what Deus ex Machina connotes, that not only is there a spiritual or (in a sinister way) ghostly presence within a machine, but in the very design or system of all things. There are many examples of it that point to this underlying belief. Just one example from contemporary drama emphasizes the “spirit” of what I'm stating: Donnie Darko involves Deus ex Machina in the denouement, where time travel and its mechanics are attributed with a metaphysical (a spiritual) design, and it is used to resolve the plot. Many would say, also, that the Bible itself frequently makes use of Deus ex Machina, either in terms of Logos, where God is implied to be in the Words of the New Testament itself (see Deus ex Machina context on wikidot), or in terms of direct intervention where Christ, for instance, raises Lazurus from the dead. And this notion, of spiritual entities being within the mechanics or design of the written word is not exclusive to the Bible. It is implied in the phrase, “Intelligent Design”; Plato mentions it (Logos); the Popul Vuh states that the words of deities created the universe; and some in the far east still believe that a word, specifically within the sound of “Ohm”, created the universe. All of this is to say that although the English word 'contrived' fits the definition, it also implies a negative connotation that does not fully capture the contemporary definition and use. And because of this it is clear that people are falsely attributing this creative device as something to avoid when writing, and falsely attributing this creative device to what they consider to be bad plots within movies or fiction. Further, many are falsely indicating that in a contemporary context Deus ex Machina does not imply something metaphysical within any human artifice such as machines, or the mechanics of writing itself. That is not true as can be found in many novels, paintings, films, lyrics, etc. To name just a few: Ghost in the Machine by the Police; Gremlins by Steven Spielberg; The Ring as directed by Gore Verbinski; Frankenstein by Mary Shelly; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick; or even Salvador Dali's painting of melting clocks. . . By contrast, it would be a challenge to find Deus ex Machina used in the contemporary movement of Realism, such as anything written by Hemingway, Steinbeck, or Cormac McCarthy. Therein, I believe, lies the confusion: Competing contemporary artistic schools of thought, where one group of artists emphasizes logical and structural objectivity (within fiction), and another group emphasizes belief, which is subjective. Charlessauer (talk) 19:18, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

DEM has nothing to do with metaphysics or an intelligent omnipotent entity; it's a literary device and nothing more. In Donnie Darko, for example, the ending is NOT a DEM because the whole movie has been setting up the notion/expectation of time travel for the viewer.--Loodog (talk) 20:26, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
Oh? I can site three authoritative texts on the matter of metaphysics used specifically in terms of logos (deus ex machina) to imply a spiritual connotation within the context of the mechanics of writing, or the written word, or anything mechanical : 1.) A Glossary of Literary Terms by M.H. Abrams and Geoffrey Harpham; 2.) Natural Supernaturalism by M.H. Abrams; 3.) A Dictionary of Critical Theory by David Macey. Charlessauer (talk) 20:44, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
All of which ignore the common definition of DEM in modern context.--Loodog (talk) 21:17, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
And you, a physics graduate, are a greater authority on the matter than say the General Editor of the Norton Anthology of English Literature, M. H. Abrams? Charlessauer (talk) 21:37, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
I'm not asserting my authority on literature, I'm asserting the authority of Merriam-Webster on usage in English language.--Loodog (talk) 21:47, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
You are defending the arguments of Aristotle, and I am defending those of Plato. To that extent, the question is moot. And by the very fact that the question is moot, and that this ancient argument goes back to classics such as Oedipus Rex, which many scholars believe to be not contrived and worthy of classification as a Classic, begs the question again about use of the negative word "contrived". May I suggest a simple alternative: Use the words "artistic device" or an equivalent phrase to replace the word "contrivance" or "contrived". I've stated my argument. I suggest we put it to a vote, or at least let a few others state or defend their position for or against. Charlessauer (talk) 22:03, 18 July 2008 (UTC)
No, I'm making no arguments on content or literature whatsoever. I'm talking about its modern non-pedagogical usage. In this meaning, DEM absolutely carries dirty and lazy connotations and is warned against by every authority in writing precisely because of its contrivedness. In your other usage, a DEM might be a desirable thing — I don't know; I'm not a literature expert. What you're ignoring is the primary meaning of this phrase.--Loodog (talk) 22:18, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

I think that for you to indicate you are making no arguments is an example of the philosophical notion of “bad faith”. But let's not belabor that one because it is outside the scope. Let's go back to your argument about Donnie Darko. Do you really believe that a human being, Donnie, can stop a jet engine from falling from the sky by mentally going back in time, by simply willing it with his mind, or through the use of some funny looking blob that comes out of his chest? Also, the very same jet engine in the beginning of the movie that came from nowhere while Donnie's sister and mother are asleep at home, by the end of the movie is one that potentially comes from a plane that Donnie's sister and mother are riding. Even if they are not riding it, and it is all a dream, it is a dream of the future and in such, are we to believe that Donnie has psychic powers? So you are arguing that the literary mechanism is one to be avoided, and yet you are arguing against many popular films and novels that sell. Charlessauer (talk) 22:55, 18 July 2008 (UTC)

This is far from bad faith. I am amazed at how different your read of my words are from my intentions.
  1. "No arguments." Please parse this within its the context, or even the rest of the sentence. I am making no arguments based on literature. I am neither praising nor condemning any author or literary technique and so I have no literary arguments to make, which seemed to be your interpretation of my response. I am not making a value judgement on DEM; I am defining it.
  2. Your categorization of Donnie Darko as a DEM suggests you are applying some other definition of deus ex machina, than the modern colloquial one as defined by Merriam-Webster. The definition this articles uses and therefore categorizes by is:
This definition has nothing to do with a deity. No one needs to have god-like powers. This definition of a DEM refers merely to the writing process. If you don't understand that you're working with a different definition of "deus ex machina" than the article is, this argument can go nowhere.
--Loodog (talk) 00:47, 19 July 2008 (UTC)
I am arguing against the negative connotation of a word. You are arguing for it. You said, "DEM absolutely carries dirty and lazy connotations." What dictionary did you find that in? Can you cite one source? You say you are "making no arguments based on literature." Then what is your purpose? That is what this article is about - a literary device. You say you are "neither praising nor condemning any author or literary technique." Then why did you say that "DEM absolutely carries dirty and lazy connotations"? That is a value judgement. Rather than assist in creating an encyclopedic entry, you are insisting on derogatory connotations, such as "dirty" and "lazy". You defended Donnie Darko to not be DEM because you say it does not contain contrivances. What do you call "time travel" which solves the plot? On the other hand, I agree, Donnie Darko which used DEM shouldn't be viewed negatively. You say it has nothing to do with "deity". Then, why is the word "Deus", which translates as "god" used? Have you ever listened to the director's commentary for Donnie Darko? He unequivocally indicates he used Theological ideas. I've pointed out that the writing process is a mechanical process and you insist that we are talking about the writing process. True. We are talking about the mechanical process of writing, particularly the literary device, Deus ex Machina. Charlessauer (talk) 04:49, 19 July 2008 (UTC)
  1. I'm not proffering any personal opinion on the quality of DEM; I'm explaining what is commonly felt about it by other people, which, at this point is moot because you're working with some other definition. I'm claiming doctors support eating apples and you're saying, "No, no no. Bananas are bad for you!"
  2. Time travel is not a DEM in Donnie Darko because it doesn't come about without introduction. The entire movie is spent explaining that time travel is possible, how it works, etc... so that when time travel appears, it's been set up as plausible in the logic of the story. Whether God is responsible does not matter. In modern usage the "God" part of it is a metaphor for the solution. The dictionary definition is asserting that God does not factor in. I suggest you read this article to gain an understanding of this meaning. When you do, then it won't be futile for me to explain why DEM has a negative connotation and is advised against by every writing workship, which has nothing to do with my opinion of it.
Beyond that, I'm sorry, if you won't accept a dictionary definition you're basing your argument on meaningless words in a meaningless language. Anything can be redefined to the benefit of the point you're trying to make and there's no point in continuing.--Loodog (talk) 14:29, 19 July 2008 (UTC)
In Donnie Darko they use the words Deus ex Machina. To say that every writing workshop advises against Deus ex Machina is illogical, and unsubstantiated. I'm sorry too, that you are determined to apply physics and law to the study of literature. We are talking about fiction where metaphore, symbolism, illogical constructs, and other figurative language are allowed and encouraged. I'm sorry that you don't like that, but just because you don't like it doesn't make it wrong, or "dirty", or "lazy". Fiction will continue to thrive. I have said my piece. Charlessauer (talk) 17:21, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

Hi, I'm responding to a request for comment.

Loodog, Charlessauer, do you think maybe we could include both definitions? It sounds like both of you have something meaningful to contribute to the article in different sections. I think it would be really cool if there were some sections on the modern definition spoken of by Loodog followed by some more sections that talk about the definition that Charlessauer describes, with a lead section that summarizes both definitions.


  • I don't think Loodog is trying to assert that he has a higher knowledge than professionals, he is just saying that the most used definition today is "an artificial or improbable event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction or drama that resolves a situation or untangles the plot."

Loodog, a few things:

  • First, you are right in that the most commonly used definition is what you said. But that doesn't mean that's all there is to say about the topic. Charlessauer looks like he has some valid and verifiable input that would make a great definition to the article. If he has reliable, published sources that support his statement, he likely has some valuable input for the article.
  • The dictionary doesn't necessarily include every possible definition of a word, and it especially doesn't include the history of a word. That's more the realm of references such as the Oxford English Dictionary, which is much more thorough. Perhaps there's some history behind the phrase that neither of us knows about?
  • I wouldn't say the dictionary says that God absolutely does not factor in. Like you said, deus ex machina is a literary device, and so whether or not God factors in is something the author can decide.

Also, Charlessauer mentioned some sort of debate between Plato and Aristotle about deus ex machina. That would be a great thing to include in the article as well!

You could say something like,

"Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle discussed deus ex machina in their lectures.

Plato's teachings[edit]

insert Plato's teachings here.

Aristotle's teachings[edit]

insert Aristotle's views here."

Talk about the controversy, if any, between them and how their views differ from those of other philosophers who taught about deus ex machina. Were there any others? A detailed, neutral section on that controversy would add considerably to the article, in my opinion.

You see, since Wikipedia wants comprehensive articles, it's wonderful to address lots of different meanings, definitions, and controversies (if applicable). It sounds like, between the two of you, you've got enough material to make this a great article. If you need any help deciding on the order, flow, or structure of the article, or on a wording that would be a compromise between both of you, I can help with that, too. Just ask for it here or on my talk page.

As for the word "contrived", I think there may be a word that would flow better English-wise. Perhaps "plot device"?

I hope this helps. Cheers! SunDragon34 (talk) 02:48, 23 July 2008 (UTC)

This misses what I'm saying. Insofar as the modern usage for laymen and movie critics and so forth is concerned, a deus ex machina is a contrivance that is acknowledged across the board as undesirable in writing. Charlessauer is therefore unintentionally defending a straw man as the usage he seems to be referring to carries no such undesireability in execution. I have so far failed miserability at conveying this to him.--Loodog (talk) 03:17, 23 July 2008 (UTC)
...Do all reliable schools of thought really consider it undesirable? The postmodern literary style does try deliberately to destroy suspension of disbelief because it wants to jar the audience out of its comfort zone. Are there reliable, published sources saying that it is or is not desirable? If there are reliable, published sources that say that it is desirable, then there must be two sides to the issue and we should consider including both sides in the article for neutrality. So, perhaps there is someone who says it actually is desirable.
In fact, a google search gives me the following hits: [1] (ninth paragraph, beginning with "A postmodernist film"), [2] (fourth paragraph, this is a specific author), and [3] (middle of the page). It looks like there are some people who don't want to suspend disbelief. (Though I admit that one of these sources isn't good enough for the actual encyclopedia, but I think it's enough to show what I'm saying in this context. At least one, the third one, looks like it passes WP policy for inclusion in an article.)
If we do make absolute or general statements as to what most people believe, we have to have reliable sources backing it up. I'm just saying that if deus ex machina is considered undesirable, we need published sources to support that claim per WP:Verifiability, and also to have no reliable, published sources to the contrary (see the second-to-last sentence two paragraphs above this one).
SunDragon34 (talk) 06:21, 23 July 2008 (UTC)
That's all I could find. There was a line from Robert McKee in Adaptation: "Find an ending, but don’t cheat, and don’t you dare bring in a deus ex machina!", but fictional movies aren't really RS either.--Loodog (talk) 20:25, 24 July 2008 (UTC)
Point One: I agree and have understood your argument, all along, Loodog. And having thought it over, I will concede to the use of the word contrivance. Even the Marriam-Webster dictionary defines “contrived” as “to form or create in an artistic or ingenious manner,” and does not hint at the contemporary negative connotations of this word.
Point Two: But I do agree with SunDragon34 that there is more to be said about this topic. I have found several sources on the web and one from M.H. Abrams.
The Literary Glossary web site points out that the term is often used negatively, but says that in some genres it is positive and expected, such as in various vitae.
At an On-Line Glossary of Literary Terms, they say that it is a "highly improbable chance or coincidence."
This web site used the same sources as the first example to explain that it is sometimes, such as in vita, a positive trait of some genres.
M.H. Abrams, see this site, by describing authors that use it as "hard-pressed", indicates it has a negative connotation, but simultaneously points out that it is used by Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, and Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, which are two well known and highly acclaimed novels.
As mentioned, I agree that it is used negatively, and I will agree to the use of the term contrivance. That said, there are numerous entries on the web as demonstrated by my examples (which are not blogs), indicating that it is not always used negatively. Charlessauer (talk) 00:37, 25 July 2008 (UTC)
Unfortunately, none of these meets WP:RS either since they're all personal webpages, but I'll put one in to source the "lack of skill" concept until we can find something better.--Loodog (talk) 14:21, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

There appear to be a great many inaccuracies, distortions and misunderstandings in the debate above. Firstly, where, specifically, in Plato's writings does he discuss the deus ex machina? I believe that you will find that he didn't. Not least because the phrase is of Latin origin. To attempt to crowbar Plato's theory of forms into an article on deus ex machina is nonsense. There might be some justification for all those heebie-jeebie musings in the ghost in the machine article, but certainly not here. The translation from Aristotle's Poetics that the article originally provided was misleading too; again, because of the use of a latin phrase. I have replaced the relevant quotation with a more recent scholarly translation, which makes it clear that the phrase is a mechane, which, when understood as a moment of the plot, is rendered as "contrivance". (See too Janko's note on this on p.111.) The notion that "intelligent design" is something other than a Biblical concept is an opinion not shared by anyone who is not a religious fundamentalist. To collapse subjectively-orientated fiction into a religious perspective isn't accurate either; one can write subjectively without falling into religious distortions. Finally, the analysis of Donnie Darko is utter nonsense. While it's true that deus ex machina is definitely a part of the overall design of the plot, it is far from being "metaphysical" or "spiritual"--quite the reverse. The plot is explicitly intertextually related to The Last Temptation of Christ; from the inciting incident onwards, Donnie Darko explores the same kind of parallel alternative timeline that Scorsese's film does, when Jesus gets down from the cross and leads an entire alternative life. The intertextual reference is there for us to mark its divergence from the Jesus-story: Donnie is a Jesus-like figure in a world without God. It is due to a chance accident that the sky falls on his head. This article needs a more historically-grounded account of the development of the concept; the "god" in the machine is a character in a tragedy--we need a discussion of how this developed during the fifth century Athenian theatre. Then Aristotle's discussion in the Poetics, with reference to complication and probability in design. Then how this developed through Roman and neo-classical dramatic theory right the way down to its (often rather facile) use in contemporary screenwriting manuals. There ought to be a parallel/related account of the different and changing use of the device in the history of post-classical drama. This topic is far more complex that either the present state of the article or the discussion above appears to appreciate. DionysosProteus (talk) 16:08, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Request for comment[edit]

I came here from RfC. I cannot see what you want comments on. Will someone please either summarise the issue requiring comment, or else remove the tag? AndyJones (talk) 12:25, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Since mine is the only comment in five days, and it hasn't been answered, I've removed the tag. AndyJones (talk) 07:55, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

Modern Use examples[edit]

In "War of the Worlds", when the Martians are killed by terrestrial germs at the end of the story, HG Wells is employing a literary device known as "dramatic irony". This irony "bookends" the whole text since the story also begins with those classic lines that describe Martians looking upon Mankind "as as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water". Through this device Wells is inviting us to consider a hierarchy of life forms while reminding us to be watchful of the complacency such a hierarchy may bring. This literary device isn't Deus ex machina. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:19, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

The example that comes to mind immeduately is the one fron The Deathly Hallos book in the Harry Potter series. The ability to speak Parseltounge is presented throughout the series as something special that only a few people can do. Towards the end of the book it is said that Ron uses parseltounge to open a door to find and destroy a Horocrux. This incredible and I beleive this is a good example of DEM. Superman example is weak. Deepak23 (talk) 07:06, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Actually Ron only imitated the sound of parseltongue, which sounded as total rubbish to Harry. Oddly enough, he could open the Chamber with his botched imitation, so yes, I think this would count as a DEM, if not a plot hole (of which the aforementioned book has enough, to be sure). - Redmess (talk) 23:45, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

The Single Greatest Example Ever Contrived by Modern Man[edit]

An example was certainly made for this article as it uses the actual phrase "deus ex machina": near the fin of the movie Dodgeball, the winning's from Peter's bet on the championship game are brought on court in a treasure chest bearing a plaque with the phrase "deus ex machina" on it. The money is, of course, probably the most perfect example of deus ex machina ever contrived as it solves a multitude of plot issues (such as salvaging Peter and Steve's friendship, redeeming Peter's for leaving the team thinking that any attempt to beat Globo Gym would be futile, and by offering the protagonist the ability to undo the antagonist by giving the former ownership over Globo Gym, which Peter turns into a bigger and better Average Joe's Gymnasium), and the example should be included in this article not simply because of its effective use of the device, but for its actual use of the phrase in the film. --Mierk (talk) 23:32, 12 October 2008 (UTC)

One more mention of deus ex machina[edit]

In modern times, deus ex machina is often used on purpose in the comedy and parody media. For example, in Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I, several otherwise-inescapable situations in the two main stories of the film were solved through the sudden appearance of a white horse named "Miracle".

I feel as though Magnolia is being sorely overlooked, for even though the <Spoiler> frog-rain </Spoiler> doesn't end the movie directly, it does trigger the dramatic upheaval which brings each of the film's major characters together. The fact that they fell from the sky and are a shock to every character also certainly lends validity to this example. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:29, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

I am sure there are many other examples of 'deus ex machina' used purposely for parody purposes and being pointed out as such. Another example is the movie 'Olive the other raindeer'. While being captured in the back of a mail truck, Olive finds a package adressed to her from 'Deus ex Machina' which contains a file which she uses to escape. (talk)

One more example of deus ex machina[edit]

As far as modern movies, Star Wars is a great example, as they always end up saved somehow. For example, in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, just as the jedi are surrounded by droids, the new Clone Army drops in in their machines. ———

I think this example should be used. --Kitch (Talk : Contrib) 20:14, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Star Wars normally manages to foreshadow it though - in Clones, they've already spent some time introducing the clone army earlier in the movie. Similarly in A New Hope, when Han appears to save Luke it's an important part of his character development that he doesn't just leave them - just because an ending is surprising doesn't make it a DEM, it shouldn't be foreseeable to a viewer at all.
  • Star Trek: TNG uses a bunch of DEM devices to resolve plots; at least that's what the folks at think. Does this count as a reference? I think this is one of those issues that isn't really referenced anywhere but is obvious to all of us.JM Straczynski, the dude behind Babylon Five, is on record (on WP in fact) as saying that he wanted to write a sf series that did not rely on 'particle-of-the-week' tactics to resolve plots. While he doesn't explicitly mention ST, I think we can safely assume that this critique is aimed at ST, given it's dominance of the sf TV series genre (and B5's difficulties finding an audience when competing with DS9 which was released at much the same time as B5; I'm pretty sure Straczynski doesn't send Christmas cards to Paramount execs.... All this to say, does Straczynski's statement count as a reference for arguing that ST uses DEM? If I haven't heard otherwise in a few days, I'll assume that folks agree ST is a well-known and popular show that uses DEM and add it to the list of examples~~Ursito —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:26, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

What about the third shot from a Zat'nik'tel in Stargate SG-1 and how it disintegrates a body or object right when they needed to infiltrate undetected and then they stopped using it after season 2? I think that's a decent example. (talk) 04:41, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

The machine[edit]

As seen via a google search everywhere, there is a "machine" by that name (hybrid motorcycle thing... go look on youtube) :

I suggest that the a disambiguation notice is in order, for a separate article; for all I know, Wikipedia has one somewhere for this machine >.< (talk) 01:34, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

The literary use is the most familiar and commonly used. The bike article would need to be disambiguated in its article title, and a note added to the top of this one, but it's unnecessary to move at all. DionysosProteus (talk) 12:59, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

Getting rid of non-ironic examples was a very, very bad idea[edit]

The modern section needed a true example of a true DEM that is NOT IRONIC. The Threepenny Opera example is ironic and not a good choice for a sole example. The Andromeda Strain is possibly the best-known instance of a modern DEM. It, and not the Threepenny Opera, should be the first example given because it is not ironic or in dispute.

I would also question the wisdom of huge warning comments saying "DON'T ADD EXAMPLES" when there are absolutely NO good examples given. --NellieBly (talk) 21:32, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

Does anyone else find it interesting that the reference about The Andromeda Strain is simply a page quoting Wikipedia? That seems rather circular, I suggest a proper one should replace it (if indeed a reference is needed). Constan69 (talk) 07:18, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
Personally I'd recommend Mel Brooks. He makes liberal use of DEM in his parody films. History of the World, Part I would be a perfect example. --Kitch (Talk : Contrib) 14:57, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
Another very good example would be Monthy Python and the Holy Grail. The cave monster almost eats the knights, until the animator gets a heart attack and dies, taking the monster with him. If that isnt ironic DEM... - Redmess (talk) 23:48, 21 December 2008 (UTC)
The ending of that film is a deus ex machina in itself. Hundreds of knights and infantry arrive for the final battle, only for the whole thing to come to a sudden stop when the police arrive and arrest the main characters. —Preceding unsigned comment added by SeverityOne (talkcontribs) 10:03, 26 November 2010 (UTC)
So, as this is now, the paragraph containing The Andromeda Strain and War of the Worlds I think it needs a rewrite, though I'm not sure how to go about that. As it reads now it's implying the books' endings make no sense in the context of the stories and are weak. That may be arguable for TAS (though I personally don't think so), but I was pretty sure WotW's ending is considered something of a work of brilliance more than not?
Wouldn't these be better referenced in a context pointing out that a deus ex machina is sometimes both desired and the more logical means to end a story? "The heroes have no hope, period; the only thing that will save them is if the situation resolves itself," is a legitimate way of going about a story when intended, definitely utilised in WotW. -pinkgothic (talk) 19:26, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
Okay, reading more of this talk page, apparently it's been beaten to death that deus ex machina in a positive context basically doesn't exist, so with that in mind, I withdraw my request, as it's nonsensical if that basis isn't given. I would ask for that to be discussed afresh since I have only ever seen it used as a neutral phrase, myself, factually describing a style of ending without attributing any quality to it, but apparently, I am in the minority. (That's not meant to snipe! I'm a bit baffled, but accept it.) Sorry about the clutter. -pinkgothic (talk) 00:30, 15 April 2009 (UTC)
Well, I might be the subject of flame wars for the next 100 years, but the sudden appearance of the Eagles at the end of the Lord of the Rings is getting pretty close to DEM territory. Anyway, what we need is a source.
Surprisingly there are very few sources on this. I think most writers on literary matters don't bother to give examples. Pretty much by definition an unambigious, non-ironic, DEM means you are dealing with a BAD BOOK. Bad books are almost by definition little-known (unless they are ironic, in which case we are back to our first question). Maybe we should just leave this. Everyone knows what a DEM is, once it's been explained, and can come up with their own examples. DJ Clayworth (talk) 01:57, 5 September 2009 (UTC)
In the movies, it could be argued so, although even then the Eagles' prior existence and relationship to Gandalf had been established in the first movie, which would make it arguable. In the books, the Eagles are explained a lot more and also play a notable role in the events of THE HOBBIT, meaning that they would not qualify for DEM status.--Werthead (talk) 18:26, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
So, Euripides is bad literature? And Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was either planned as irony from the outset, or is little known? --2001:A61:21EA:CC01:D49B:1651:F2D8:C9A1 (talk) 12:33, 25 September 2015 (UTC)

Do NOT create DigitalPh33r links or mentions here[edit]

While his work is good, at the present time he is not mentioned in any reliable sources. Just because he may have 100 subscribers does not mean that his series is notable. Anyway, the guy won't even finish the series. For a more knowledgeable and relaxed Wikipedia- Nemesis646 (talk) 09:15, 26 December 2008 (UTC)

DigitalPh33r's series does not contain any examples of dues ex machina thus far. It gets it's name because it is a machinima made using the game "Deus Ex", and it's tiltle is therefore a pun. (talk) 02:27, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Its made from halo not Dues ex —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:13, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Donnie Darko[edit]

It has previously been discussed, that the plot of Donnie Darko is based around the DEM plot device. What i find interesting is, at the ending of the movie when Donnie has a knife to his neck, he actually says "Deus ex Machina" out loud, as the car comes to his rescue. I found it quite ironic that he says it out loud. It's almost as if the director's having a laugh at Mainstream cinema. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:22, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

Breaking Dawn[edit]

I'm failing to see how the Stephanie Meyer book "Breaking Dawn" contains a deus ex machina. The events are foreshadowed well. If no one objects, I'll be removing "Breaking Dawn" as a see also example. Killswitch Engage (talk) 05:20, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

'Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011)' contains a Deus Ex Machina when Jacob Black "imprints" on Bella Swan-Cullen's child. There is no mention that a child can be "imprinted" or that "imprinted" people can not be hurt by the Coven Werewolf tribe. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:07, 4 March 2012 (UTC)

The current section about twilight - "Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series contained many instances of the same problem, most notably the eventual 'vampiric' powers of the lead character Bella Swan. Her abilities are far reaching, beyond anything that any other character in the series have and are shown at such a time that all previous tension-such as it is-is simply wiped from the story.", seems a little unspecific. I reckon it'd be better removed, or be more specific about the exact event being referred to. Farthin (talk) 21:54, 4 March 2012 (UTC)

There is a nearly perfect example of deus ex machina at the end, however. Nahuel, for whom there is no previous mention or foreshadowing, appears in the final moments of the book in order to solve the problem of Renesmee and the Volturi. Shanook28 (talk) 19:29, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

well-known example[edit]

If you want a widely known example of a deus ex machina, you could use Hermione's time-travel charm at the end of HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, particularly blatant in the film version. The possibility of time travel had not been mentioned up to that point and, having invented it, Rowling then had to explain why the spell could not be used to solve future problems.

I am puzzled about what the "deus ex machina" in HAMLET is supposed to be. The exchange of swords? It certainly looks clumsy in the original script, but in many productions Hamlet deliberately arranges the exchange, and it certainly doesn't avert the tragic ending. CharlesTheBold (talk) 21:46, 21 June 2009 (UTC)

I just removed that. That's one bizarrely incompetent deus who allows the hero, his mother, his stepfather and his best friend to die before her turns up. The exchange of swords rates only at the 'coincidence' level of unlikeliness, and since it doesn't resolve the plot doesn't count as a DEM. The only other thing I can think of is the implausibly coincidental arrival of Fortinbras and his army, but that resolves nothing in the plot. The only function it has, as far as I know, is to get enough people on stage to take off the four (five?) bodies in the days before stages had curtains.
Hermionie's time travel is close to DEM territory, but since it is introduced before it is needed, and does provide an interesting piece of subplot, I wouldn't count it as a full-blown DEM. DJ Clayworth (talk) 01:50, 5 September 2009 (UTC)
Not even close to DEM. It is introduced as Hermionie turning up unexpectedly throughout the first half of the book, and the time travle story drives at least the last third of the book. Just because you were surprised does not make it DEM. Go back and read the book again and you will see all sorts of little hints about what is going to happen. (talk) 11:59, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Transformers 2[edit]

Going with the request that examples be discussed here first, I think the ending of Transformers 2 could well qualify (Spoilers ahead)

The main human character has died, a medic uses defibrilator pads to revive him and fails, he is dead with no apparent way of coming back. Cut to some sort of dream sequence where the character is floating in the clouds and is told by a god like transformer in the clouds that he has done good. Bang, back to the real world and he jumps up to carry on the story with no sign he just nearly died. Given that there is litteraly a machine 'god' in the sky which appears from nowhere and solves the problem, I'm tempted to think this is deliberate (except that might be a touch sophisticated for Michael Bay)--ThePaintedOne (talk) 16:49, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

The Hobbit[edit]

I'm not very clear on deus ex machina, but would the person at the end of The Hobbit count? You would be 100% sure that Bilbo would kill Smaug, but it's some random person who had used a single arrow in Smaug's (left?) breast. Correct or incorrect? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:41, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

If you think it is Deus ex machina it is.[edit]

I think this is overemphasing Wikipedia's need for proof. An unbelievable situation needs no one saying 'this is unbelievable'. An unbelievable situation remains unbelievable. Ok, it might help for some critic to denounce a plot as unbelievable but most people know a plot is unbelievable and the solution has come from nowhere. (talk) 11:35, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

No not really that easy. All fiction is "Unbelievable" to some extent. The word use above was "contrived" but even that applies to pretty much any story when viewd from the outside. Take the comments about Superman (the movie) also on this page - I fail to see why someone should be surprised that Superman can alter time, when he can stop bullets, fly, leap tall buildings etc etc. It is all part of the story. You could complain that altering time is way harder than jumping tall buildings, but there you are applying real world logic to a fictional world. The story is all about Superman doing amazing things, so you shouldn't be surprised when he does something amazing. Same with Harry Potter and time travel. The whole final 3rd of the Prisoner of Azkaban is taken up with the time travel bit and time travel was introduced throughout the book, although not obviously. So time travel is a key part of the story, it is hardly sprung on the reader in the last 5 pages to bring the story to a happy but unexpected ending. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:55, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Comedic/Ironic DEM is needed[edit]

Considering the number of times DEM is used in deliberate ways for comedic or ironic purposes would be a good idea to add a "comedic use of DEM" section? Numerous people want to add Mel Brooks or Dodgeball as examples. Another example is the MST3K episode Mitchell in which Joel escapes the Satellite of Love via a never heretofore known escape pod called the Deus Ex Machina (though Mike butchered the pronunciation). This seems like it might resolve some of the issues raised on this page. Furthermore, I think it would in fact add to an understanding of what DEM is, since this has become its dominate use in mainstream film, books, etc... While DEM does seem to have a negative connotation to it, a plot device can be neither good or bad, it is just chosen by the creator. When chosen by a creator becuase they backed themselves into a corner and couldn't do anything else, then, yes, it is lazy. However, when used for comedic or ironic purposes, this is a completely valid use of the plot device since it is deliberate, obvious and often enjoyed by the audience, which is, of course, the purpose of comedy. In addition, it also serves as a meta-fiction, commenting on the ridiculousness of the DEM device as used previously. So I would suggest adding a section on that type of use. This would also help avoid confusion between different ways in which the device is used.--Priamus2020 (talk) 00:42, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

The Bad Seed[edit]

In the novel and play The Bad Seed the mother realizes that she has passed a genetic bad seed from her serial–killer mother on to her serial-killer 8–year–old daughter. She unsuccessfully tries to kill both herself and the child, but only succeeds in killing herself, leaving her daughter alive to continue to kill and to pass on the bad seed. However, the Hays Code would not permit movies in which crime was successful. Both suicide and murder were crimes, so in the 1956 film the ending of the story was changed to have the mother survive her suicide attempt and, more important here, a completely new deus ex machina final scene was created in which the daughter goes out on a dock in a rainstorm to try to recover the fruits of her crime and is killed by a lightning bolt. The new ending for the movie totally reversed the climax of the book and play and is one of the greatest modern examples of deus ex machina. Could we include the film as an example in the article, perhaps in a sentence saying something about deus ex machina sometimes being forced on drama by external forces? I haven't been bold on this one because this article seems fairly well tuned at this point and I wanted others to have a chance to comment first. TRANSPORTERMAN (TALK) 15:23, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

The Naked God[edit]

Surely the Sleeping God at the end of The Night's Dawn Trilogy (Peter F. Hamilton)---who rather magically makes everything OK again after three books' worth of almost continual disaster---is a perfect, honest (non-ironic) DEM? (talk) 06:03, 28 January 2010 (UTC)


In Avatar, half the movie is dedicated to explaining how the Na'vi and the entire Pandoran biosphere works together, so how could this be DEM? It is only a logical response from the eco-system to attack the invaders, and it had been hinted many times that it everything was working and thinking together. Then main character even asked for it to happen.
It does not sound like DEM to me.
ItWasThatGuy! (talk) 15:24, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

More Modern Use Examples[edit]

If the examples being presented in the Modern Use section actually use the phrase "Deus ex machina" within them (i.e., the Dodgeball or Donnie Darko examples), then they seem okay for that section. But to simply start listing examples of any DEM usage in literature/film is going to quickly create a ridiculously extensive list in no time. Examples should be limited to those that actually acknowledge themselves as a DEM, as that makes them noteworthy enough for the article. ChargersFan (talk) 01:15, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Since when does "modern examples" equate to "an exhaustive list of modern uses"? What's wrong with a few well-chosen representative examples? (talk) 13:58, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
First off, why are you putting the phrase "an exhaustive list of modern uses" in quotations as if somebody actually said that on this page (prior to yourself)? Secondly, your response couldn't possibly have missed the point any more than it did. The ENTIRE point of this section is that the list (as it stands right at this moment) is already exceeding what could be called a "few" examples, and the inclusion of the very weak "Beerfest" example perfectly demonstrates that the "well-chosen" portion of your response is also light-years off the mark. ChargersFan (talk) 22:55, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm putting "an exhaustive list of modern uses" in quotes because I'm paraphrasing you. Your objection is based on the list getting too long. Why on Earth would it? A list of five good examples is a good list, and it is not "simply start listing examples of any DEM usage in literature/film," as that would "quickly create a ridiculously extensive list in no time."
But you're missing the point. That section is already dominated by a long list of deliberate use of DEM, which is, as you point out, too long already, and needs cropping. The question is why there is not also a short list of good examples where it's not obviously used deliberately? The cop-out that books using DEM are bad books and therefore not know simply doesn't stand up. We could give a long list of well-known, otherwise good books with crappy DEM endings. Why isn't there at least a short list of examples? (talk) 09:47, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

Donnie Darko[edit]

I'd suggest making a reference to the 2001 film donnie darko in which he actually mutters the words DEM due to the fact that he's in a subsequent tangent unniverse. [1] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:04, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

The Life of Brian[edit]

Surely one of the best known, and an extreme example of, is where Brian falls from a tower and is saved by a passing space ship. Mannafredo (talk) 11:57, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Beerfest and the Natural[edit]

I don't think either qualifies as a deus ex machina and should be removed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Wilkyisdashiznit (talkcontribs) 04:47, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

First Paragraph[edit]

The first paragraph seemed messed up, so I changed it back to what it was a few edits ago. I saved the messed up part, as it seemed to be part of another section:

A deus ex machina (English pronunciation: /ˈdeɪ.əs ɛks ˈmɑːkinə/ or /ˈdiː.əs ɛks ˈmækɨnə/,[2] ==Ancient uses== The Greek tragedian Euripides is often criticized for his frequent use of the deus ex machina. More than half of Euripides's extant tragedies employ a deus ex machina in their resolution and some critics go so far as to claim that Euripides invented the deus ex |title=The Arabian Nights Reader|first=Ulrich|last=Marzolph|publisher=Wayne State University Press|year=2006|isbn=0814332595|pages=241–2}}</ref> Just when Harun is about to have Ja'far executed for his failure, a deus ex machina occurs when the murderer suddenly reveals himself,[3] claiming to be the woman's husband.[4] Daedalus733 (talk) 19:48, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Deus Ex Machina in video games[edit]

In the LucasArts video game The Curse of Monkey Island, the hero Guybrush Threepwood finds himself trapped in a quicksand pit. The only way to get out is reaching a life-saving vine that, as for most of the things on Plunder island, has a plaque near it. This one explains that its latin name is "Arborealis Deusexmachinas" (reference: World of Monkey Island, a fan web page about the Monkey Island series). Marzios (talk) 22:37, 15 march 2010 (UTC)

Did some "modern" pruning[edit]

The Natural and Pineapple Express are not examples of DEM. Neither is Dodgeball, really, but its writers seemed to think so. DEM properly comes at the end of a narrative and features a character unseen up to that point. Ifnkovhg (talk) 04:06, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Deus ex machina in Lost[edit]

Episode [1x19] of the TV series Lost bears the title "Deus Ex Machina". In a nutshell, the survivors of the plane crash find a previously unnoticed seaplane perched in the jungle canopy, which miraculously contains a functioning radio. Unfortunately, just as they manage to make contact with their potential rescuers, the plane falls, destroying the radio. In my opinion, this is an extremely well-executed example of both dramatic irony and deus ex machina. After all, if the plane had not fallen, the survivors would have been able to relay their position to their rescuers, and the plot would be resolved. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think it should be noted here for further reference. Perhaps a section on irony in combination with deus ex machina could be added to the article, if more examples can be found. (talk) 04:04, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Thank You For Smoking[edit]

The editors of this page will know whether this is relevant or not but the satirical film (and book) Thank You For Smoking contains a hilarious (and clever) scene that highlights the cringe-worthy use of DEM in cinema.

Jeff Megall: Sony has a futuristic sci-fi movie they're looking to make.

Nick Naylor: Cigarettes in space?

Jeff Megall: It's the final frontier, Nick.

Nick Naylor: But wouldn't they blow up in an all oxygen environment?

Jeff Megall: Probably. But it's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. 'Thank God we invented the... you know, whatever device.'

Use at your leisure. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:04, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

There's a world of difference between a DEM and a lampshade.--Louiedog (talk) 19:30, 26 November 2010 (UTC)

Toy Story 3[edit]

Removed this from the examples as it's a previously set-up rescue, not a deus ex machina. The source used was from an author's personal web site. The screenwriter himself explains why it's not a DEM in the Creative Screenwriting podcast 29th Oct 2010 edition. Jumble Jumble (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 11:07, 3 November 2010 (UTC).

Incorrect Attribution of the Phrase to Horace[edit]

My research indicates that the phrase is not from Horace's poem. Rather, the Oxford English Dictionary says that the Latin phrase is a translation of a Greek phrase.

You can search Horace's poem for the phrase here: but you will not find it.

I am unsure about how to go about correcting wikipedia.


Paul. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:55, 1 May 2011 (UTC)


Wiktionary has the standard classic pronunciation: IPA: /ˈdɛ.ʊs/ (Sort of like "day-oos", but shorter) I've always heard this pronounced the classical way also. Should we add an alternate pronunciation with the correct/classical way? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:17, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

Why not just do it yourself? (talk) 00:55, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

The chapter on Piano in the Bushes does not end in a complete sentence...[edit]

Could someone who knows the topic fix that, or erase the entire section? Cuardin (talk) 12:29, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

It was a lot weirder before I trimmed a bit (and before it disappeared completely, of course). As the paragraph that I deleted went on, it made less and less sense. It kind of dissolved into complete nonsense at the end. It was either a prank, or very badly translated text. RIP Piano in the bushes. You were enjoyed. --Andylindsay (talk) 23:13, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

One more example in a film....[edit]

I remember the movie Mars Attacks! has a thoroughly ridiculous example, when the attacking Martians, with advanced technology, amazing weapons that can absorb a nuclear missile and convert it into a balloon etc, start blowing up whenever a Slim Whitman musical number is played! This finally saves the earth-lings. I thought it was neat, in keeping with the rather crass, yet subtle spirit of the movie. Is it worth a mention? NarasMG (talk) 06:03, 25 November 2011 (UTC)


The translation "god out of the machine" seems to be wrong. It should be "god in the machine" or "from/of the machine", like "ex libris". So "a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention" of a supposed "god in/of the machine", not from outside.

You could call "the market" in economics a deus ex machina.

Janosabel (talk) 19:28, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

Mass effect 3 ending[edit]

Mass effect can be added to the video game section of this article — Preceding unsigned comment added by Julian Grebe (talkcontribs) 08:43, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

I don't see how the Mass Effect 3 ending is deus ex machina according to the article cited. The matter is still very much under debate. -- (talk) 13:44, 21 March 2012 (UTC)sam

It fits the definition perfectly. Unsolvable problem: Reapers are destroying all life in the galaxy with no conventional solution available. Contrived and unexpected intervention by a new character: the Star-God appears abruptly and offers to end the Reaper threat. What's the debate? (talk) 03:17, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

The Star Child is not a case of deus ex machina. He is there to explain the situation, not solve the problem. The Crucible itself may be a case of deus ex machina, however, as the previous two games never mentioned the past cycles building a super-weapon to destroy the Reapers and it appears abruptly at the beginning of Mass Effect 3. Shanook28 (talk) 05:35, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

The Star Child is the Catalyst, aka the Citadel itself. The Crucible is the other half of the tool that is capable (somehow) of doing one of three distinct things, hence the three endings. The Star Child IS the tool, literally. He explains your choices as well, of course. But since he is the Citadel, and the Crucible combines to make one object, he is the solution to the problem. It wasn't clear up until that point that the Citadel was even a character instead of an object. If that argument is deemed a failure, I have another. Now, yes, the Citadel has been around since the beginning and the Catalyst and Crucible were around for most of the third game. But the definition as read here calls for "some new event, character, ability, or object." The scene with the Star Child is most definitely an unexpected and contrived event, and arguably the three heretofore unmentioned abilities may also qualify, IMO. (talk) 01:15, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

Incorrect, the Citadel is the Catalyst's home, not the Catalyst. The Catalyst is not an unexpected event, it is one of the 3 main plot points (build the Crucible, gather forces, find the Catalyst) and a driving force behind a lot of the game (going to Thessia, going to Cerberus, going to the Citadel). What it is is unexpected, but the Catalyst itself is not newly introduced at the end of the game and is known about from early on in ME3. The Catalyst also solves nothing, it mearly relays information on what the Crucible does, it's Shepard, the Crucible, and the Citadel which solves the problem. Seeing as though it's a plot device that is introduced early in ME3 and doesn't actually solve anything in the end I have removed it. (talk) 17:31, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

I find the debate over this to be nit picking at best. You may as well remove the Lord of the Flies' Deus ex machina because the boys created signal fires, foreshadowing their rescue. Just because Mass Effect 3 foreshadows the Crucible, the Catalyst, and Shepard's involvement in uniting the two doesn't make the ending any less of a Deus ex machina. I mean, why even argue it? The Reapers, of which the Star Child/Catalyst is the head member, fancy themselves unknowable God-like beings. The Star Child shows up literally out of nowhere at the end, when all hope seems lost, to offer 3 different solutions that work "just because." It is literally one of the most straight-forward examples of Deus ex machina in videogames ever to exist, but we're arguing that it doesn't qualify as Deus ex machina because it involves 3 different factors conveniently solving everything instead of just one factor, among other specific things. I will concede that the Catalyst specifically isn't a Deus ex machina (even though it is a literal god in the machine), but that doesn't change that the ending still relies on Deus ex machnia to solve its primary problem. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:36, 8 August 2012 (UTC)

It's not deus ex machina as you're told well in advance that you need the Catalyst and the Crucible to stop the Reapers and all of the choices are foreshadowed throughout the game (Destroy being the primary objective of the galaxy, Control being the Illusive Man's goal, Synthesis being essentially what the Reapers were doing). You're told that the Crucible joined with the Catalyst will stop the Reapers, and you do exactly that in the end. What option you choose or the Catalyst being an AI within the Citadel does not change that in any way. The entry also claims that organic/synthetic conflict is "the series' primary problem", which is entirely inaccurate: you sought to stop the Reapers in the first game, sought to stop the Reapers in the second game, sought to stop the Reapers in the third game, and stop the Reapers at the end of the third game. The idea of organic/synthetic conflict is the reason why the Catalyst was created and why it created the Reapers, but the ending does not revolve around that conflict; in fact, the Catalyst itself explicitly states that Destroy is not a solution. CaiusRagnarok (talk) 18:53, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

Another Example in Animation[edit]

An awesome, shameless use of DEM can be found in "The Angry Beavers" S4 E7 "Moby Dopes" where Norbert and Daggit are saved from a rampaging Killer Whale by a tyrannosaurus rex. Norbert: Where in the name of deus ex machina did that T-Rex come from? (talk) 04:31, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

It came from China?[edit]

just wanting to see if it's really noteworthy to point out that China isn't "China" in China & that "deus ex machina" is logically identical to those little stickers on the bottom of various goods that says...

"made in China"

pointless? not really. ironic? totally. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:25, 3 November 2012 (UTC)

Only on Wikipedia[edit]

Only on Wikipedia could an article about a literary device provide as illustrations Greek tragedy and The Lord of the Flies, on the one hand, and a "Simpsons" episode on the other! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Partnerfrance (talkcontribs) 19:08, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Stargate SG-1[edit]

Should Stargate SG-1's use of the idea that a third shot from a Zat'nik'tel disintegrates a target be mentioned. They only used it to dispose of a body in season 2 and stopped talking about it afterward. -William slattery (talk) 23:07, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

The Return Of The King[edit]

Eagles can see a rat one mile away. Apply it to a hypothetical giant eagle and you have a one hundred mile long vision. Add to it the fact that Gandalf knew exactly where Frodo and Sam were (Mount Doom) and the hope that they were still alive and it was not only POSSIBLE but TOO EASY to the Eagles finding the Hobbits.

Therefore stop calling this scene a Deus Ex Machina because it isn't. (talk) 20:06, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, stop mentioning a blatant example of Deus Ex Machina because of some weird scientific reason that doesn't change neither the fact that the eagles appear out of nowhere nor the fact that the whole climax wouldn't have happened, had they appeared earlier. How does it not match the definition given in the article as "a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object." (talk) 14:45, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

Deus ex[edit]

Shouldn't the game Deus Ex be in this line under computer games. At the end of part one you're defeated or has to surrender and you end up in a cell. Then suddenly Daedelus hacks the door. The name of the game is also a reference to this subject. (talk) 17:18, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Bad examples[edit]

Yeah, I'm a bit peeved that someone has used The Lord of the Flies, The Lord of the Rings and The War of the Worlds as examples. In the case of The War of the Worlds where you have that old-school, more hard-sciency, less literary material, if you are quite involved in the story as a reader you can be forgiven for feeling a bit cheated with the ending. With the Lord of the Flies, the contributor has redeemed himself somewhat by qualifying his inclusion of that great novel. In the case of The Lord of the Rings, however, I just don't see where he is coming from. The phrase 'Deus ex machina' is defined in the article as an "...unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object"... to read: it should be too convenient and not in keeping with the rest of the fiction. The eagles dropping in was a piece of luck, but this is Heroic fantasy... such devices are essential to the genre, and the eagles were not quickly invented and inserted to get Tolkien out of trouble. The man was far too invested in his work to be accused of any cheapness, and the suggestion of cheapness makes me choke. I'm too upset to correct this article myself. — Preceding unsigned comment added by GetSnufflegartened (talkcontribs) 04:36, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

Concerning Lord of the Rings: after being appalled by the blatant use of DEM in the movie, I didn't bother to check the novel, but there is no doubt that it's DEM in the movie: our heroes are helplessly outnumbered with no way in sight of accomplishing their mission, when suddenly the sky opens and vastly superior creatures that we haven't seen before appear, make their entry, defeat the enemy and help our heroes accomplish their goal. It is even quoted as "classic example of deuts ex machina" on other webpages. But to make the argument really clear: DEM is when a god suddenly appears on the scene and solves and unsolvable problem in the play. In LotR, eagles suddenly appear on the scene and solve our hero's unsolvable problem. Yes, it is DEM. (talk) 17:15, 24 December 2013 (UTC) ps Merry Christmas!
There is no such scene in Return of the King - eagles do not defeat the enemy (at the battle by the black gates of Mordor). Eagles are used as DEM to carry Frodo and Sam from the Mount Doom after the destruction of the ring and ending of the battle (which was lost by Mordor army not due to eagles, but due to destruction of the ring). Eagles were also used as DEM in the first LOTR movie when Saruman trapped Gandalf on the tower and they rescued him. The information which is now in the article - " the final resolution of the battle where the good heroes are vastly outnumbered is brought about by magically appearing bird-like creatures that easily defeat the evil forces" - is factually wrong. Mpov (talk) 17:09, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
I agree the section in question is factually wrong (it is also problematic for other reasons: POV, questionable claims with no reliable sources, redundent with the example already given with regard to the book, poorly written, etc.) I will remove it. Paul August 17:52, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
I completely agree with GetSnufflegartened, though not for any sentimental reasons. In The War of the Worlds the whole point of the story is that we (the human race) are defenseless against the superior invader, but they are defenseless against terrestrial microbes. Microbes were not invented ex nihilo to 'save the day' - they really exist. As the final paragraph states; "It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the Earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain."
Similarly, in The Lord of the Flies, it was inevitable that the boys were going to get rescued eventually (though they didn't know that of course). It was hardly outlandish, and the naval officer wasn't just passing; he was looking for survivors. It was only the boys' naïvety that led them to believe they were there forevermore, and behave.. *gulp* ..accordingly.
And finally, there are lots of parodies of The Lord of the Rings that make fun of the eagle saving Frodo and Bilbo from certain death, asking why didn't they just use said eagle to complete the task in the first place. The thing is, parodies are just for fun. They don't make very good sources about the films they parody. And the whole reason the hobbits were able to complete the task that no-one else could was because they could slip under the proverbial radar. One might imagine a parody of the parody in which the eagle is entrusted with the ring and flies to Mt. Doom only to be instantly incinerated before it gets within a country mile of the all seeing eye!
These are very bad examples, not in keeping with the working definition of deus ex machina, and should be removed. nagualdesign (talk) 04:15, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Ok, so the eagles don't defeat the enemy, they just distract them successfully, leading to their defeat. It's still blatant deus ex machina. And it remains so even if the same device was used before. There is a reason this is cited across the web as deus ex machina, there is a reason why there are fan-sites defending it as not deus ex machina, and there is a reason why it's being parodied as deus ex machina: because it is a blatant example of deus ex machina.
I think it would be more helpful if the people who can describe the proceedings accurately correct the paragraph instead of removing it. The only reason I can see anyone disputing that we're dealing with deus ex machina is a combination of strong emotional investment in the book and the negative connotations of DEM. That shouldn't keep wikipedia from describing the facts. If only people who are emotionally invested in the book or film can describe the proceedings accurately enough to meet the standards of the people emotionally invested in the book or film, wikipedia should at least try to break this vicious circle instead of just looking away.
Now one could discuss whether it deserves mention in both the sections on literature and in the section on movies. I would — to noone's surprise — argue 'yes': from what I found on the web, fansites argue that this is not DEM, because this is explained in more detail in the book. So while this may apply to the book, the movie has to stand on its own. Best regards. 2001:4CA0:0:F292:1431:72F5:9DA0:BD26 (talk) 15:03, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
I appreciate the feedback, though I would point out that I have zero emotional investment in The Lord of the Rings series. You are mistaken though. A quick read of this and this would tell you that Tolkien hardly painted himself into a corner, then whipped out a Get Out of Jail Free card. His books describe in great detail an entire world with its own elaborate history, languages, etc. Mark Flanagan has evidently only seen the films, or watched a few online parodies, and is mistaken in his assertion. As for the film having to stand on its own; why is that? Surely a movie adaptation of a book cannot be accused of making up the ending due to a lack of forethought. And finally, the idea of adding examples to this encyclopedic article about DEM is to elucidate the topic. A questionable example is therefore useless, no matter which camp you ascribe to. Regards, nagualdesign (talk) 19:18, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the answer. I should really get an account. The second of the pages you linked to again feels the need to describe how the appearance of the eagles is not Deus Ex Machina (see under trivia). I would say that's clear proof that it is. If it isn't, it wouldn't have to be justified in a contrived way. Actually, the logic is faulty: just because the second part of the original criticism -- namely, that the movie could have been much shorter, had the eagles not come to the rescue -- doesn't apply, doesn't explain the fact that they suddenly intervene. Anyway, because I think it's funny that conservapedia would be on my side, I feel the urge to link to it. Here's a LOTR wiki which explains the eagles as Deus Ex, this comment calls it an obvious Deus Ex, the following few comments add some nuance, etc. There are literally dozens of places calling it Deus ex. Here it's listed as one of the best and one of the worst battle scenes in movies. Why worst? Because of "[a]n oversimplified cop out", i.e. deus ex.
If you say that in the book it actually isn't a Deus Ex Machina moment, then this would even be a very interesting example, as it would show how the requirements of a different medium affect the original artists work in a detrimental way. I cannot tell, because after seeing the movies and being very disappointed by what I felt was an "oversimplified cop out" -- to use the expression from above --, I had no more interest in reading the books. (talk) 22:43, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
A few points: Try to stop inferring people's feelings! The second of the pages I linked to explained, in logical terms, why LOTR could not have been cut short as some would have it. This explanation is obviously a response to the meme-ish accusation (for want of a better word) that can be seen in various places on the Internet (this one's quite funny). To state that such explanations, by their very necessity, are 'clear proof' of the opposite being true is very blinkered. Sometimes there really is smoke without fire. And please do not link to conservapedia or user-generated comments within the article (see WP:RS).
Look, I'm not trying to convince you of anything here, only to address the issues with some discussion, and I've pretty much said everything there is to be said on the subject. But I do want you to understand this; To give an 'example' of anything, which may arguably not be that thing, is to give a bad example. That is to say, if it doesn't elucidate the reader to the topic it is, by definition, a bad example. A strawberry would be a bad example of a berry, for instance, not an 'interesting' example. Similarly, High-dynamic-range imaging has been pared down recently because of some confusion as to what it is, mainly due to the current trend of people confuddling each other online with pseudo-HDR examples. Just because lots of people on the Internet say something is so, it does not make it so, and it is our duty as editors to disabuse readers of their misconceptions, not throw another proverbial log on the fire. nagualdesign (talk) 23:41, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Ok, bad choice of words, I said 'feel' where I could have just left out that part of the sentence. I wasn't inferring people's feelings. Sorry, this is not my native language, I may sometimes infer meanings that I don't intend to, especially when I try to write in a way that one actually enjoys reading. My main point was that their arguing against deus ex machina exactly DOESN'T address the question of whether it's deus ex machina. I linked to real critics calling it an "oversimplified cop out", i.e. deus ex machina, and to a fan-site that calls it deus ex machina. Those are not random comments on random websites. I also pointed out that I was linking to conservapedia for the humorous value of it. Anyway, so far the counterargument against deus ex machina is "in the book this, this and this is explained beforehand, that's why the eagles couldn't intervene earlier". This doesn't address why they suddenly intervene, this doesn't make it any less of a cop-out, and it doesn't explain it to moviegoers. Are German- or French-language resources valid research on wikipedia, I just did a search and found several critics that support my view. (talk) 10:56, 31 December 2013 (UTC) ps I may have mixed up the various dei ex machina there, what is the Army of the Dead again? see the bottom, where I give more links that specifically address the eagles.
It must be an ironclad rule of literary tropes that every last example be backed up with a decent critical source identifying the trope as being used in the example. If we feel that the eagles in LoTR are a deus ex machina, that's too damned bad; we need a citation from a real critic which says so, and not just J Random Blogpost. This is absolutely not negotiable; to do otherwise is to engage in orogonal research. Mangoe (talk) 03:58, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
I gave a linnk in this discussion, I'll repeat it here. Now you can argue whether "contrived cop out" == "deus ex machina", but to me the case is clear. (talk) 10:56, 31 December 2013 (UTC) ps, sorry, I got mixed up in the various dei ex machina … here's a critic that actually cites both examples, eagles + army of the dead. Also here, plus another example of deus ex machina in the movie. This page refers to Gandalf as 'resident deus ex machina of LotR', in particular because he leads armies (= the eagles) at convenient points. etc.
another ps with a few example quotations: "However, J.R.R. Tolkien is the one who used this device extensively in all his stories.", "You can’t have a list of deus ex machina without mentioning Tolkien’s giant eagles." etc. Maybe we can agree on the wording giving on this list of "deus":
"In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, some consider the rescue of Frodo and Sam by the Eagles a deus ex machina. They also arrive to help the Army of the West against Sauron in the Battle of the Morannon, though Sauron is not defeated until the Ring is destroyed. It should be noted that the Eagles play the role of unexpected helpers throughout most of Tolkien's writings. In various versions of The Silmarillion material, an eagle saves the body of the elf-king Fingolfin from defilement, another carries the lovers Beren and Lùthien away from dire peril, and Eagles help fight the dragons of Morgoth during the War of Wrath. In The Hobbit, they helped the Dwarves, Men and Elves defeat the Goblins (Orcs) and Wargs at the Battle of the Five Armies. Tolkien's consistent use of the Eagles in this way, and the fact that these Eagles were servants of the angel-like Vala Manwë, suggest to some readers that this was entirely intentional, making them agents of fate — "machines of the gods" rather than "gods in machines". (Also, some readers believe no satisfactory explanation is given as to why the Eagles could not have simply carried the Ring to Mount Doom, though others disagree with them.)"
I think this is much to weak a statement, it's hard to find a more blatant example, but if we need outside research even for blatant examples, and if the research I've linked to isn't enough, then such a "neutral" statement would be more suited to the article. (talk) 11:28, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
These are blogs, blogs, blogs, and, well, one best/worst entertainment list about the movie by someone who clearly slept through part of it. Find a book by someone qualified. Better yet, find several texts about literary tropes and see what examples they use in common. This is the work that needs to be done, not simply thinking to yourself and then finding someone to support your idea. Heck, around this house we are wont to refer to Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen as "the big blue deus ex machina" because of the way he functions in the denouement, but I don't have a work of real criticism to justify this, and I don't think that most critical works on the book see this particular problem.
Get the big, historically important cases first about which there is a lot of agreement. Resist the urge to put in your or someone else's pet peeve in the article. Mangoe (talk) 12:21, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
You may want to apply the same level of rigor to the Eucatastrophe article while I go looking for a source that satisfies you. I don't share your opinion that wikipedia should only contain the smallest subset that everybody agrees upon, and I find this such a blatant example, and I'm not alone in this view, that I have a hard time seeing what more could be needed. I mean, there's a whole wikipedia article on how Tolkien tried to discuss away Deus Ex Machina (namely Eucatastrophe), so he deserves at least some mention in this article. (talk) 13:37, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
I might, and I don't think it would be hard to put some citation force behind what is said in that article: substantive criticism of eucatastrophe is abundant. But that's other stuff. You aren't an expert in plot tropes, and it doesn't matter if you and your friends agree that this is a blatant example. You need to find someone whose opinion is authoritative. If you cannot see how the sources you are providing are inadequate, then it's time for you to head over to WP:RS and pick up some education on this. I think it is an extremely safe bet that, when English teachers talk about this trope, Gwaihir is not the first example they pull out; indeed, I imagine that he isn't used as an example at all, and I think it's also a safe bet that this is because they don't think this trope is in play at those points in the story. (I would also point out in the movie at least it is made quite clear that Gandalf has ways of getting the eagles to come.) Mangoe (talk) 14:11, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
BTW I was strictly talking about the movies. (talk) 14:27, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Eucatastrophe is directly related to this. This is pointed out in the Eucatastrophe article which dedicates its major part to defending Tolkien from the "accusation" of Deus Ex Machina. You can tell, I'm not too familiar with wikipedia's practices, but there should certainly be some level of coordination between articles.
Anyway, back to the original subject, since only printed stuff appears to be good enough for you: Tolkien's Art: A Mythology for England names it Deus Ex Machina. The relevant section is also reproduced in this book on the best Tolkien criticism, so other critics agree. This source of course refers to the books where I was referring to the movies so far. (talk) 14:53, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
The Jane Chance passage (it's the same text in both books, BTW) looks to me to be a good reference; you can also look her up and see that she has creds. But was that so painfully hard? Mangoe (talk) 15:42, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Arbitrary break for eucatastrophe[edit]

Happy new year. I've reinstated the example, linking the reference. I have also added a reference to Eucatastrohe and a quote of Tolkien's where he describes the eagles as 'machine' (in quotes). (talk) 14:40, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

Much appreciated, though I did reword the paragraph slightly to remove the last remnants of POV. I hope you can see why we were such sticklers in demanding reliable sources, and why 10,000 assorted blog entries count for absolutely nothing. And I also hope you got some satisfaction from putting in the effort and building an objective and robust case. ...Now the onus is on me and others to find a solid source that refutes Professor Chance's position. Face-tongue.svg (Although you're welcome to help with that too, of course.) Little by little we make progress. Happy New Year,! Kind regards, nagualdesign (talk) 16:03, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! You will see that I slightly reworked it once more to make clear why Eucatastrophe is mentioned in this context, because your edit obscured the connection. The work on this item made me find another interesting reference on the relation between this and DEM, so I added the reference to both articles. I think that now we have the whole of this specific topic covered. I'm not sure I buy that any reader is helped by requiring references for obvious examples, but I learnt that having a "good" reference certainly helps when people don't see as obvious what I see as obvious :) Happy new year again. (talk) 16:25, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Hmmm... Now it's beginning to look like you're applying undue weight, since at the moment we lack any mention of counter arguments (which we know to exist in relative abundance). Tolkien himself certainly did not equate eucatastrophe with deus ex machina, hence his coining of the term, though the section now appears to assert the opposite. Try to remember, this isn't a battle of wits in which one set of editors vehemently fight for one point of view while another set fight for the opposite, and expect that to produce a neutral article. We must all strive for WP:NPOV together. In answer to your question, it is WP policy to demand good references for this kind of thing, as is stating the obvious. Perhaps if you let go of what you consider obvious and embrace a more objective stance you will better serve Wikipedia, as well as gaining a better understanding of any given subject (and even of yourself). Now there's a thought! nagualdesign (talk) 17:43, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
...Actually, in the spirit of stating the obvious perhaps I should spell out here the difference between eucatastrophe and deus ex machina. (And I urge you to read this carefully, and with fresh eyes.) In eucatastrophe a sudden change of events occurs which saves the hero. These events were foreshadowed earlier in the work, and the agents of eucatastrophe were well established. In Tolkien's works they often represent 'the will of the gods', to put it crudely, as is the case with the eagles. Deus ex machina also involves a sudden change of events which occurs which saves the hero, but these events are not foreshadowed, and the agents of change are conjured ex nihilo, without previous mention. They don't necessarily embody 'the will of the gods', despite their Latin nomenclature. So you see (I hope), they are similar in some ways, but very different in actual fact. Does this help at all? nagualdesign (talk) 18:01, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Consider this reference: "Eucatastrophe is not synonymous with deus ex machina (literally 'god in the machine'), which is an implausible or inept plot device used to escape a storyline quagmire, nor is it used merely for commercial appeal. Rather eucatastrophe makes the bold claim that the arc of human history ultimately curves toward justice, restoration, and hope. From this perspective, rescue comes not from a conveniently inserted god but is part of the very fabric of a fictive world. The approach is easily distinguished from films that seek to demonstrate the gritty realism of human existence, such as one might find in film noir." Mallinson, Jeffrey. "Eucatastrophe". In Mazur, Eric Michael. Encyclopedia of Religion and Film. ABC-CLIO\YEAR=2011. p. 175. Retrieved 2014-01-01.  Mangoe (talk) 19:27, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
I've added this into the article and reworded once again to provide balance. I also removed one of the references to The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy as it was a redundant duplicate. So, now that all the hard work is done we are left, as expected, with an example of DEM in an article about DEM that is merely a pseudo-example. If others think it interesting enough to leave in then I won't complain any further. Personally I think, as I stated way up there ^^, that it doesn't provide an adequate, unambiguous example whatsoever. However, since the Interwebs are replete with people who blindly believe that Peter Jackson somehow committed the sin of deus ex machina, because they haven't read the books (and perhaps lack the attention span to watch a 3-hour film without getting woefully distracted, I half-jest) then at least they might find something of interest here. Everyone happy? nagualdesign (talk) 21:21, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Fine by me. I believe the definition of eucatastrophe given falls well into the range of what constitutes a deus ex machina, but I guess in the current version the reader can form their own opinion on this. I think a lot of the back and forth took place simply because "deus ex machina" is associated with "bad composition" automatically, and some people like their Tolkien a lot. This is to be contrasted with the two references I gave: they are fully sympathetic towards Tolkien, yet they are very clear in calling the eagles DEM. Concerning the attention span of the various web-critics who have labeled divine creatures falling from the sky in the most convenient moment DEM, well, I don't think we have to pursue this further :) Bye, and thanks! (talk) 10:58, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

Lord of the Flies[edit]

I propose that Lord of the Flies be removed from the examples, or the reference be heavily rewritten. Though the source is solid it does not simply state that the ending of the book is DEM. In fact it goes on to say:

What Golding calls the "gimmicked" ending of Lord of the Flies and the Greek deus ex machina used most conventionally in Iphigenia in Tauris are alike in their technical function: to reverse the course of impending disaster. Yet their effects are quite different. Athena's wisdom is incontrovertible, her morality unassailable. High above the awed mortals she dispels chaos and imposes ideal order. The very fact of her appearance underlies the role of the gods in shaping human destiny. Golding's spiffy naval officer is, however, no god. Nor does he represent a higher morality. Confronted by the ragtag melee, he can only wonder that English boys hadn't put up a better show, and mistakes their savage hunt for fun and games à la Coral Island. While he cannot know the events preceding his arrival, his comments betray the same ignorance of human nature that contributed to the boys' undoing. Commanding his cruiser, the officer will direct a maritime search-and-destroy mission identical to the island hunt. Lord of the Flies ends with the officer gazing at the cruiser, preparing to reenact the age-old saga of man's inhumanity to man.

As noted in William Golding, the author fought in the Royal Navy during WWII onboard a destroyer, and was briefly involved in the pursuit and sinking of the Bismarck. It's hardly a stretch of the imagination to concede that the ending to Lord of the Flies was indeed a plot device (ie, "gimmick"), but one based on his wanting to make a deep sociopolitical statement, not the shallow 'cop-out' that the article currently implies. Using it as an example of deus ex machina demonstrates great ignorance unbefitting of an encyclopedia. nagualdesign (talk) 18:54, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

I see that earlier in the passage Friedman says that "the officer is neither more nor less than the Greek deus ex machina in modern uniform." Friedman's argument is rather involved but I think it would be accurate to say that he holds that the arrival of the navy officers has the same effect within the plot, but because they are not god-like, this effect is also necessarily not god-like. It would be good to get another source on this to corroborate/supplement it, given Golding's admission that this is something of a weakness. Surely Friedman isn't the only source. (BTW, please be more careful with the citations, folks. Harold Bloom didn't write this text; he was only the editor of the book.) Mangoe (talk) 20:02, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
The way I read it was that Friedman was elucidating both sides of the debate. He first states that Golding's 'admission' of the "gimmick" ending has been used by his detractors as a means of bashing him, then goes on to delineate the differences between the ending and classical deus ex machina. It can't really be said that Friedman holds either camp as being right or wrong, only that he provides a discourse on the subject. Therefore, to quote Friedman's paraphrasing of Golding's detractors as Friedman's opinion, and then to state that opinion in Wikipedia's voice, is misrepresenting of the source. Moreover, a gimmick is simply a device intended to attract attention. Unfortunately the word is synonymous with contrivance, a device that gives a sense of artificiality. Golding 'admitted' the former, not the latter. nagualdesign (talk) 20:30, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
The phrase "the way I read it" should be ringing alarm bells. There's plenty of indication in Friedman's words which tell us that there are other analyses out there which address the ending and its defects or virtues as a DEM; it's time to go looking for them rather than rely on boiling down an extended argument. Mangoe (talk) 20:46, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
I was simply conceding my own fallibility. Was Friedman elucidating both sides of the debate? Yes, he definitely was (stated nagualdesign, self-assuredly). Friedman does not argue that the ending is DEM, he actually goes on to describe how the ending is much more nuanced than that. nagualdesign (talk) 21:24, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── If you're happy with the current wording, I'm satisfied that it be retained in the examples. After all, critics have indeed argued that the ending is DEM, and the source expands upon that discourse in a well-written NPOV manner. The problem I had with this and other examples is that they were written in WP's voice as though things are definitely DEM. Thanks for the help, Mangoe. Kind regards, nagualdesign (talk) 21:51, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Infinitely improbable[edit]

I've taken out the section about the infinite improbability drive from Hitchhiker's guide because it is uncited and because I don't see that a citation is going to be forthcoming. But don't let me stop anyone from finding a real reference for the claim. Mangoe (talk) 14:12, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

Asimov and ironic use of deus ex machina[edit]

It seems ironic that asimov's fascination and use of deus ex machina in the Foundation series and I, Robot is not included in this article. The irony of its use in I,Robot where Asimov seems to take its more literal meaning and the irony of its omission in Wikipedia the modern realization of azimov's Encyclopedia Galactica from his Foundation series are notable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:01, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

Jurassic Park[edit]

I added an entry into modern examples of Deus ex machina, yet it was removed today. Can you enlighten me as to why this example should have been removed? Frankly, I find the "modern examples" section interesting -- if the examples there are good. Yet it appears as though others have listed examples that have later been removed. Sure, perhaps one doesn't want 50 examples here, that isn't really necessary. But there are so few modern examples currently, that there really is room for more.

Here is what I added yesterday, please enlighten me as to why this shouldn't be in the list:
At the end of the film "Jurassic Park" (1993), Grant, Sattler, Tim and Lex are cornered by two Velociraptors in the Visitor Center. Suddenly a Tyrannosaurus appears from off-screen, attacking and killing the Velociraptors allowing Grant and everyone to escape. Not only was the Tyrannosaurus too large to enter through any doors of the Visitor Center, it was unmotivated and didn't allow the ultimate confrontation between man and Velociraptor to be solved by the characters in the story. Classic deus ex machina. (talk) 03:54, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Because your own authority in analyzing this is insufficient. You need to be able to cite some reputable critic who gives this analysis, and really, it needs to be more than one person's eccentric idea. Mangoe (talk) 12:29, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Ideas about Edits[edit]

Hi everyone-

I wanted to introduce myself. I am taking a look at this page and editing it for my graduate theater history class at Brooklyn College. Here is a list of my proposed edits based on research that I am doing. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

Structure (sections should be flushed out more and organized better) a. Origins, Greek, Roman (if any), Renaissance, Neoclassical, Modern, etc. 2. Discussion on Aristotle, Horace, and any other critic 3. Flush out the examples a. Shakespeare uses it (does he)-how? 4. Influence over theater a. Why do we care? 5. More/better pictures a. Possibly a timeline 6. Term usage a. Do we still use the term to discuss magical plot endings? Has a different term been coined?

Jsattler07 (talk) 17:07, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

Donnie Darko[edit]

As someone noted above, the list of examples could use extension. Is there something wrong with mentioning Donnie Darko? It's a great example, it's talked a lot about above. If it's any help, the director Richard Kelly had an extended scene directly addressing the mechanism that had to get cut out of the film because it was too lengthy. It's on the deleted scenes of the original DVD. Squish7 (talk) 04:28, 4 April 2015 (UTC) Please ping me with [[User:Squish7]] whenever replying to me.

Please, the translation is wrong and in fact much simpler.[edit]


māchina f ‎(genitive māchinae); first declension

  1. machine
  2. scheme, plan, machination

Literally from Latin: machination from god, scheme from god, plan from god. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Davedudie (talkcontribs)

While machina may indeed mean "scheme" or "plan", your translation is still back to front! It says "god from the machine", or "god from (the) plan" at a push, but not "plan from god". I'm going to revert your edit once more. Please do not edit the article again unless you can provide a reference to back up your assertion. nagualdesign 21:49, 12 October 2016 (UTC)
Alright, however. Languages don't translate straight like that. It clearly makes more sense with "plan from god" and isn't back to front at all. I thought wikipedia was collaborative? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Davedudie (talkcontribs) 00:59, 13 October 2016 (UTC)
To be perfectly honest, I have a strong feeling that you know even less about Latin than you do about Wikipedia. Yes, this is indeed collaborative, hence the three of us (Vítor, Davedudie and nagualdesign) thrashing this one out. Let me ask you a simple question; What makes you think that Deus ex machina means "Plan from god"? Did you read it somewhere? And if so, where? Wikipedia relies on reliable references. nagualdesign 15:40, 13 October 2016 (UTC)

Use of Gendered Pronouns[edit]

Hey, I'm new to editing on this site as opposed to simply reading it, so sorry if I missed anything or went about this the wrong way, and also sorry that I end up getting so verbose in this entry, but I changed an instance of the pronoun "himself" to "themself", since the pronoun refers to a hypothetical writer whose gender is left unspecified. However, since the phrase in which this pronoun appeared was in quotation marks, and since there was no superscript hyperlinked number enclosed in square brackets indicating that the phrase was a verbatim quote from one of this article's sources, I am unsure whether the quotation marks are supposed to convey that the phrase was indeed intended to be a verbatim quote, or that the phrase expresses an opinion which is included for the sake of making the reader aware that such opinions exist rather than making the article itself explicitly express said opinion to the reader. If the quotation marks are in fact supposed to convey that their contents are a verbatim quote, then I suggest that either the source of the quote be cited and the word "themself" be enclosed in square brackets, or that the quotation marks be removed for the time being. If the quotation marks are there for the other reason I hypothesised above, then I believe that the article is acceptable as-is. AriaLyric (talk) 21:29, 13 February 2017 (UTC)

Welcome to WP, AriaLyric! I see that somebody has already undone your edit before I could, and although it wasn't me who undid your edit perhaps I could explain why I would. Basically, "themself" isn't really a proper word. It mixes them, which is plural, with self, which is singular. While it's becoming more commonly used it should be avoided in formal written English. In the English language it's perfectly normal to say "himself" when describing somebody of indefinite and irrelevant gender. Don't worry, this has no bearing on the subjugation of women. Nobody is being oppressed by the fact that the writer "painted himself into a corner", rather than herself. I believe that the quotation marks are there to signify that the painting is done only figuratively or metaphorically. It's a turn of phrase. nagualdesign 02:44, 7 March 2017 (UTC)

Tolkien, eucatastrophe, cleanup and removal[edit]

Tolkien's concept of 'eucatastrophe' has nothing to do with 'deus ex machina'. It is a sudden turn in a story, but typically one that has been earned. The example Tolkien gives is this, from The Black Bull of Norroway:

Seven years I served for thee:

The glassy hill I clomb for thee:

The bluidy shirt I wrang for thee:

And wilt thou not wauken and turn to me?

He heard, and turned to her.

The material I have removed, conflating this concept with 'deus ex machina', contains no evidence that either Tolkien, or anybody else, believed that the two concepts had anything in common. — Preceding unsigned comment added by ChengduTeacher (talkcontribs) 04:41, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^
  2. ^ Random House Dictionary
  3. ^ Pinault, David (1992), Story-Telling Techniques in the Arabian Nights, Brill Publishers, pp. 92–3, ISBN 9004095306 
  4. ^ Pinault, David (1992), Story-Telling Techniques in the Arabian Nights, Brill Publishers, p. 94, ISBN 9004095306