Plot Armor!

June 21st, 2010 • Kate

cuff-platforms-01I was digging around on Twitter and the internets for an idea for today’s blog post, and came across a tweet suggesting I blog about Glee. Not that I don’t love me some all-singing, all-dancing, high school shenanigans, but what it reminded me of was another tv show I like to watch, namely TNT’s Leverage. Now, for those of you who don’t know what Leverage is, it’s a series about a rag-tag group of con artists who use dubiously-legal (but mostly not) methods to gain “leverage” for their down-trodden clients, and make them some money. At the end of last season, Nate, the criminal mastermind of the group, went to jail. In last night’s season premiere (spoiler warning for those of you that want to skip ahead), Nate got out of jail, and after a token effort to get the hell out of dodge, he and his team went right back to business-as-usual in the same apartment where they were busted last season, and the same local pub.

When I complained about it on Twitter, one follower replied that Nate has “plot armor.” And, well, I just love that phrase, and all it implies: the sense that such little details as your secret hideout being not-so-secret anymore just aren’t worth mentioning, or changing.

Now, if you did something like that in a novel, everyone would call you on it, right? You’d think so…

But tell me this, when James & Lily Potter were killed protecting their newborn Harry, and he was given to his aunt to raise, why didn’t someone change his name? I mean, if you’re Voldemort, and you’re searching for the prophesied child of the Potters, would you expect to find him as a Dursley? No! You’re looking for a Potter, you find a Potter.

Plot armor. Who else has it?

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13 Responses to “Plot Armor!”

  1. giantlawnmower Says:

    'Plot armor' is a great phrase and it happens all the time. Alex Rider, the teenage spy in the Anthony Horowitz series has it in droves! Especially the film – his uncle is a spy and has a personalised number-plate with his real surname.

    But it terms of Harry Potter (not to be the annoying, pedantic fan with all the answers) but everyone thought Voldemort was dead (apart from the ever-wise Dumbledore) and the reason he lived with the Dursley's in the first place and not be adopted into a wizarding family was he needed the blood wards for protection. It doesn't matter if Voldemort knows where you live if he can't get in anyway.

  2. Emma V. Says:

    Bella Swan – all those vampires and she doesn't get really bitten/wounded in a life-threatening manner until book 4? I don't buy it. I mean I bought it, but with great doubt and consternation.

  3. Gordon Says:

    Well, to be fair to Dumbledore, why would any wizard know Petunia Dursley as Lily Evans's sister? And the majority of wizards(doubly so when you consider the people Voldemort attracts as followers:Pureblood wizards) wouldn't have any idea how to go about doing a background check/missing persons search. Even then, would Harry even show up in a Muggle database anywhere? The Dursley's seemed intent on keeping him a secret, and I sincerely doubt Lily and James were putting him on their income tax forms.

    Though it does make me ask the question: Did no one think to follow Harry home from school? Wouldn't it just have been easier for a Death Eater to incendio the Dursley's car on the way home from the train station? Boom! No more Chosen One.

    I guess that's just proving your point, though.

    As for my own writing, I can't think of any specific examples.

  4. Susan Says:

    F: Gandalf, can I have a ride to Mordor on that big eagle friend of yours?

    G: No, sorry, you have to walk there and back again. It builds character.

    F: *whine*

    G: And it makes the story longer.

    F: *double whine*

    G: Okay, okay. I'll give you a ride home. Be outside the main entrance at five.


    G: You've always had the power to go back to Kansas.

    D: I have?

    S: Then why didn't you tell her before?

    G: Because she wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

    D: Could you lean over a little closer, please, so I can splatter your brains all over the yellow brick road?

    G: Tee hee.

  5. Mandy Says:

    Your post is really funny, Susan. It literally made me laugh out load.

    It really all comes down to the fact that the bad guys are idiots in fiction (or at least have some fatal flaw). I've never heard the phrase "plot armor" before. Usually I say that the villain went to "storm trooper school". Stormtroopers can't shoot a gun properly to save their lives. Princess Leia could stand in front of a legion of them with no armor and every one of them would miss.

    Plot armor and stormtrooper school have their point, though. Because let's face it: if Voldemort's Death Eaters hadn't attended stormtrooper school and if Harry hadn't had plot armor, Harry would have been killed on his first outing with the Dursleys, like Gordon mentioned. The Chosen One is killed at age two – so much for "the boy who lived" and there goes the entire story.

    You can't make your villains too smart – or else then they win.

    And why did the second Death Star have a hole in it large enough to fly through? Who's idea was that?

  6. Mandy Says:

    wow – typo. "laugh out loud".

  7. allreb Says:

    I've always wondered that about Star Wars, too. I mean, I guess Vadar thought the kid(s) had died in childbirth, along with Padme, but his brother (was that who Owen was?) was still on Tatooine, and he suddenly had a kid of the exact same age, named Skywalker… I guess Vadar didn't keep much of an eye on his hometown. Just sayin, Obi-Wan probably could have found somewhere less obvious to hide Luke. Or at least not used his father's last name.

  8. Red Boot Pearl Says:

    Percy Jackson.

    So these books are fun, but I find it interesting that he can go back to school every year (I get that they are different schools, but still)–even when it was an emergency to get Camp Half Blood in the first book.

    One of the reasons he was able to 'hide' from the monsters was because of his smelly step-dad, but after the first book there isn't any reason he should be safe at home during the school year…

    Annabeth going back to live with her dad after so many years of being at camp…same inconsistency…

    All this 'plot armor' talk makes me want to look through my own WIP…

  9. Kater Says:


    Top secret organization that the FBI doesn't know about, and even a professionally trained spook can't find evidence that they exist.

    And yet, they need rich clients to stay liquid.

    Where, oh, where, do they advertise? Doesn't the FBI look on Craig'slist from time to time?

  10. Sara Raasch Says:

    Kater — I wondered about that ALL SEASON(s). But I came to the conclusion that it was like the movie Hitch with Will Smith; info was passed on a hand-to-hand, reference basis. So it remained secretive and need-to-know.

  11. Trading Plan Templat Says:

    As long as people buy it…this little things do not matter much any more… Yes, why didn't they change Harry's name?

  12. Alicia Says:

    I love that you watch Leverage. I love that show. And no, I missed the season premiere…gotta go check my Tivo.

    The movies that drive me crazy are the ones where the girl dresses up like a guy or vice versa, like She's The Man. Even though I think that movie is hilarious, I can't get past the fact that she rooms with this other guy and he never suspects that she's a girl. I mean, really? But it doesn't stop me from watching it over and over again.

  13. Kaia Says:

    As far as I'm concerned Glee is a big plot armour party. There's so much that doesn't make sense (even if the singing is awesome) that it makes me cringe.