1. The thing I took away from War of the Worlds is that it’s not humanity who defeated the Martians in the end. Meaning that if they ever try again (and why wouldn’t they?) we’re pretty much screwed. It’s a very hollow victory.

    Of course, this is rendered null and void if you’re reading the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen version.

  2. LumpyG

    Great list with one major flaw. Any list that is numbered should be in REVERSE order. This BUILDS suspense and drama. #petpeeve

    • Lauren Ipsum

      From the introduction to the article:

      “Note–these are not the ten “best” or the ten “worst” deus ex machinas (so they are not presented in any significant order)


      • LumpyG

        Then it’s a bullet list. Stop using numbers when bullets will do. Why use numbers when they are meaningless. On a side note: making a list and not putting it any order is weak sauce.

        • L.B. Gale

          I guess it’s time for a comment. My rationale is: I wouldn’t put it in order because I think this is a topic that’s somewhat unique. Some of the deus ex machinas are ‘unforgettable’ for being well done and some are ‘unforgettable’ on the bad side of the trope. I suppose I could have made two list posts with good ones and bad ones but I didn’t think it would be a huge deal to put them together in no particular order. But apparently some people care a great deal, so instead of prolonging an unnecessary Internet debate I will apologize to the Internet gods for not using bullets or not ordering them in a meaningful way. I was wrong. So very very wrong.

  3. Martin

    Perhaps one of the most egregious Deus ex Machina is the ending to Peter Hamilton’s
    ‘The Night’s Dawn Trilogy’ in the Naked God, pretty much ruined the whole theme of the book for me

  4. L.B. Gale

    Thanks for all the ideas/responses everyone! I hadn’t heard of your example before David–it is from “Starcrash?” I’ve never seen that. Interesting look for Christopher Plummer…

  5. […] Fantasy author L.B. Gale has a few recent win-the-internet posts, with Top 15 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Honeymoon Destinations, 12 Best Words and Phrases from Invented Languages in Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Ten Unforgettable Deus Ex Machina Moments in Science Fiction and Fantasy. […]

  6. MatW2

    Have to disagree on the Lord of the Rings one.

    If eagles could fly to the top of Mount Doom, doesn’t it make the majority of the trilogy pointless? Just send an army of eagles to drop the ring in, fit the whole trilogy into 3 hours or less.

    I think it would have made more sense for them to be rescued by the victorious army.

    • Elton

      They couldn’t just take them to mt doom, there was a giant eye and the Nazgul who would kill them. they might have succeeded, but it was at least as dangerous as sneaking into Mordor and on top of that you had to trust the eagles who aren’t really on their side.

    • No One

      The eagles would have been taken down by the armies of Mordor before the final victory, genius.

      Also, the ending of Signs isn’t a DEM once it is hinted during the entire film.

  7. Dee Barr

    The ending of the Matrix is not deus ex Machina at all…

    The reason the super computer negotiates with Neo is because he is speaking on behalf of the people to end the war and because he can hook up to the matrix, get the smith virus into himself (as he does as soon as he fights him and the rest of the smiths) which can then be deleted by the super computer thus saving the day.

    That the computer is called Deus Ex Machina is completely ironic. Neo is the version of God (Jesus, the One) in the matrix and the computer needs him to save the day. Neo is the “ghost in the machine”…

    • Matt

      well if Deus ex Machina isn’t one, then the way Neo defeats Smith is. Smith corrupts Neo. Smith/Neo explodes… Ok then.

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  9. Lewis Clark

    Great List.
    Toy Story 3 gets extra credit for the inside joke about the translation of Deus Ex Machina being used literally.
    I was just wondering if Superman should be given a similar credit, since during the movie Lois calls him a god.
    Maybe it was also intentional.

  10. The absolute worst Deus Ex Machina ever is the character who shows up at the very end of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series who, (***SPOILER ALERT***) when he draws anything on a notepad and then erases it, the object he drew is also erased from reality. He then uses this ability to literally erase the villain.

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  12. What about the Time Turner in Harry Potter 3? That was easily the worst Deus Ex Machina I’ve ever seen and I can’t believe it isn’t on this list. Couldn’t they just go back in time and murder Voldemort in his sleep before he became a villainous wizard a la the Terminator? That really pissed me off, and literally every book in the series after that one continued to upset me because they knew the whole time they had this technology and they chose not to use it at like, any moment to change things for the better. How was this not addressed? How are more people not pissed off about that terrible story-telling?

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