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Foreshadowing is one of those things that takes a lot of effort from the writers but goes largely unnoticed by viewers -- it exists mainly as a reward to those loyal fans who watch a movie or TV show over and over. Yet, as we've already pointed out on several occasions, your favorite movies and TV shows are absolutely rife with tiny clues that predict important plot developments. Here are five major plot twists that were actually spoiled by the characters themselves, if you'd just listened closely ...

Everyone in The Matrix Tells Neo That He's Going to Die

Warner Bros.

The Matrix was a pretty groundbreaking movie in many regards, not the least of which was trying to convince us that Keanu Reeves is in fact Jesus Christ. The movie achieved this by first putting Reeves' Neo into a virtual reality game and having him kill a bunch of cops before ultimately (and thankfully) giving way to the main plot twist where Neo dies and comes back as "The One," the trench coat-wearing kung-fu savior of humanity.

Warner Bros.
"I don't need a cross. I'm already wooden enough."

Why We Should Have Seen It Coming:

First, the obvious ones.

Early on in the movie, we get a glimpse of Thomas Anderson/Neo's life as a cubicle schmuck where he has a few interactions with regular people that are just lousy with foreshadowing. The first is when Neo sells a floppy disk to the '90s cyberpunk Choi.

Upon delivery, Choi then tells Neo:

"Hallelujah! You are my savior, man! My own personal Jesus Christ!"

Warner Bros.
The disk is just Depeche Mode MP3s.

In hindsight, this reads like a stealth advertisement for Subtlety in Screenwriting and You, considering that Neo eventually does pull a Jesus by coming back from the dead. But a little less subtle is Choi somehow managing to read from Neo's completely blank facial expression that he is stressed out, and telling him:

"It sounds to me like you need to unplug, man."

This is of course soon followed by Neo literally unplugging a bunch of cables from his body and waking up in the real world through what can only be described as a virgin birth.

Warner Bros.
"Pee! It's all pee!"

But the biggest clue to Neo's inevitable, messianic death comes from his interaction with the Oracle: the kindly cookie-baking lady who lies to Neo and tells him that he's not the One because he needs to discover it on his own and all that jazz. Except that ... she didn't really lie. When Neo confirms with the Oracle that he is not the One, she tells him he is waiting for something. What, exactly?

"Your next life, maybe. Who knows? That's how these things go."

Warner Bros.
"Cool. Thanks for nothing, Miss Cleo."

In the movie, the line is played off as a sarcastic remark from a sassy character, but sure enough, Neo didn't become the One until his "next life." As in, the life he lived after he died and came back. She could have made it all easier by just telling him he was going to get shot in a hallway, but apparently there's a law that says all prophecies have to be kept super vague.

The First Episode of Sherlock Predicts the Main Character's "Suicide"


The second season of the acclaimed BBC series Sherlock culminates in a rooftop confrontation between the genius scarf mannequin and his archnemesis, Moriarty, in which Sherlock is presented with a tough dilemma: kill himself or Moriarty's assassins will kill everyone he loves. He tries to persuade Moriarty to stop being such a dick and call off the hits, but Moriarty inconveniently shoots himself in the mouth (see: dick), leaving Sherlock with no choice but to leap to his death. OR DOES HE?

Spoiler for the next sentence: He doesn't.

Well, obviously he doesn't, because he appears alive and well at the end of the episode. Still, his faked suicide was the shocking plot twist that would keep viewers in suspense for the next two years, and it had apparently been in the works from the start.

Why We Should Have Seen It Coming:

Two people around Holmes actually told us Sherlock was going to die by his own hand, and they all did it in the very first episode. Doing her duty as a TV cop (that is, being antagonistic toward the brilliant outsider who always turns out to be right), Sergeant Sally Donovan says this early on in the episode:

"One day we'll be standing around a body and Sherlock Holmes will be the one who put it there."

"Now, if you'll excuse me, any more dialogue might turn me into an actual character."

She's convinced he's a psycho, and to Sally's credit, he is, but it's also true that at the end of Season 2 the police end up on the scene of a death Sherlock was responsible for -- his own.

Even more chillingly, the taxi driver who'd been responsible for all the murders throughout the first episode turns out to be a pawn in Moriarty's cat-and-mouse game with Sherlock, and even says this to the detective:

"I'm gonna talk to you, and then you're going to kill yourself."

"Then you're going to turn into a dragon and terrorize your little friend out there."

By the end of the scene, it appears that Sherlock outwitted him and the man has been proven wrong, but two years and five episodes later, that's exactly what Sherlock does. Or appears to do -- Sherlock does such a good job of faking it that he even fooled the foreshadowing gods.

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One Line in Futurama Reveals That Something Is Up With Fry's Grandpa

20th Century Fox Television

Near the end of Futurama's third season, the space delivery crew find themselves hurled back in time to 1947 Roswell, where they proceed to paradox the shit out of the time stream. This includes the main hero, Fry, popping into the local military base to say hello to his grandfather Enos. However, Fry then decides that 1940's America is a death trap, so he tries to "save" Enos by locking him in an empty house where he is promptly nuked to death.

After Fry doesn't fade from existence Back to the Future-style, he then realizes that the man he thought was his grandfather can't be him. He consequently ends up consoling Enos' now grieving fiancee, accidentally impregnating her. The twist is that the woman actually was Fry's grandmother, which means that the redheaded human Popsicle is his own grandfather, and that Futurama just showed you some pretty graphic sorta-incest.

20th Century Fox Television
"Those bastards would just Rule 34 this anyway, so fuck it."

Why We Should Have Seen It Coming:

Futurama has always been one for foreshadowing, and in this case it came early in Season 3 with the episode "The Luck of the Fryrish," where we see Fry being born and his parents deciding on the name Philip for him. This causes Fry's cranky older brother, Yancy, to freak out and demand that he be given the far less dorky name of Philip, to which his father proudly states:

"Son, your name is Yancy, just like me, and my grandfather, and so on, all the way back to Minuteman Yancy Fry, who blasted commies in the American Revolution."

20th Century Fox Television
"Why do you think they were called redcoats?"

It's just a throwaway joke about a goofy name, and you'd have no reason to give it a second thought. But when you dissect that line, you'll notice something isn't right here. When Yancy Sr. tells his son about this generational legacy, he states that the name "Yancy" has been shared by himself and his grandfather, not himself and his father, which would make a lot more sense.

It's just so odd to try and sell someone on the tradition that has survived generations but somehow missed one random guy, unless that guy was a time-traveling granny banger. With that in mind, of course the Yancy naming tradition could not include Yancy Sr.'s dad, because by then the name had already been given to his older brother, thus resulting in a paradox that caused the name to skip one incestuous, time-traveling generation.

Two Episodes of Firefly Predict That the Ship Will Break Down

20th Century Fox Television

Firefly follows a group of space travelers thrown together by circumstances (a high-class escort and a priest on the same ship? Conflict!) as they try to make ends meet doing various illegal activities on their Firefly-class ship, Serenity. Unfortunately, in the episode "Out of Gas," the ship becomes stranded in outer space after the engine suddenly stops working. Things are looking dire: oxygen is running low, temperatures are dropping, and wisecracking Whedonesque banter is at critical levels.

20th Century Fox Television
"Can't put situation ... into ... irreverent ... phrasing ..."

Why We Should Have Seen It Coming:

The characters figure out that the engine has unexpectedly shat itself due to the "catalyzer on the compression coil" blowing up. But if you'd been paying attention to the dialogue from the start, it should have been clear that the cat-laser on the compression cola or whatever was going to fuck everyone over sooner or later.

Serenity's resident mechanic, Kaylee, mentions on two separate occasions in early episodes that the catali ... cathaly ... the technobabble is going to cause major problems in the future. In the pilot episode, for example, this line is quickly slipped in as some back-and-forth between Kaylee and Captain Malcolm Reynolds, which at the time just comes off as banter:

Kaylee: I'd sure love to find a brand new compression coil ... Compression coil busts, we're drifting.

Mal: Best not bust, then.

20th Century Fox Television
"We need to keep this thing going for many successful years."

Then in the second episode of the series, we again see Kaylee trying to give Captain Reynolds a serious compression coil-based warning after she had to rewire the entire engine because:

"... somebody won't replace that crappy compression coil."

Six episodes later, the inaction of that unspecified sexy somebody nearly kills everyone on board when the compression coil breaks and leaves them adrift in deep space.

20th Century Fox Television
"Curse its sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

And while we're in the Whedonverse ...

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Counts Down to Buffy's Death

20th Century Fox Television

Before there was Joss Whedon, The Avengers director, there was Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: a modern tale of a strong, go-getting young woman who for some reason had an annoying habit of constantly dying. Having already been drowned and resurrected way back in Season 1, Buffy Summers' next significant trip to Deadville came in the Season 5 finale when she sacrificed herself to save her sister, Dawn.

She naturally comes back in the next season, but this doesn't mean that Whedon killed Buffy off all willy-nilly to boost his show's ratings, because he was in fact planning her death for more than two years.

20th Century Fox Television

Why We Should Have Seen It Coming:

The show actually started counting down to Buffy's death in dream sequences all the way back in Season 3. In that season's final episode, "Graduation Day," during an ongoing fight to stop the renegade slayer Faith, Buffy encounters Faith and hears her say:

"Little Miss Muffet counting down from 7-3-0."

20th Century Fox Television
She then starts dancing with a backward-talking little person.

It seems like nonsense dream babble, but "730" was in reality the number of days until the planned broadcast of the Season 5 finale where Buffy was meant to snuff it. Unfortunately, the two-part finale -- which culminated in a violent showdown in the halls of Sunnydale High -- was set to premiere only a month after the Columbine shootings, which forced it to be postponed, in effect rendering the countdown incorrect. This, however, was remedied in another dream sequence in the Season 4 finale, where a character glances at a clock and says ...

"Oh ... that clock's completely wrong."

The time on that clock?

20th Century Fox Television
This was also a symbol of Whedon's undying hatred of daylight saving time.

But there's even more meaning packed into these sequences. Later in the show, it actually turns out that Dawn isn't human at all, but rather a mysterious entity called the Key with the power to unlock otherworldly dimensions. She appears suddenly during Season 5 after everyone has been implanted with false memories of always having known Dawn. It has since become one of the most important elements of the Buffy canon and, you've guessed it, it too was telegraphed months in advance on the show.

In two dream sequences in Season 4, we hear these seemingly random lines:

"Be back before dawn."

"Little sister is coming."

In the next season, BAM, Dawn is introduced and ends up as the crescendo of a carefully planned-out story arc that Whedon kept foreshadowing for years without once getting distracted by his actresses' feet.

You can read more from Amanda at her blog or follow her on Twitter. Lachlan has been known to sometimes tweet.

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Related Reading: Speaking of foreshadowing, did you know a song in one episode gave away the Breaking Bad series finale? And a seat-belt malfunction gave away the disastrous twist in Jurassic Park? We've always been big fans of movies that put insane detail into things 90% of viewers won't notice: cases in point!

Exactly what drives us to bone the things that we bone? Jack O'Brien sits down with Kristi and Soren in our latest podcast to figure this conundrum out. Be sure to subscribe here and download it here.

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