A Chekhov's Gun is a form of foreshadowing by which an object or character is introduced early in the story, but its importance does not become fully realized until later.
Defined by Russian playwright and short story writer Anton Chekhov in the late 19th century, a Chekhov's Gun is a type of foreshadowing in which an object's importance to the plot is gradually (or suddenly) revealed as the story evolves. Chekhov felt that an object introduced into a story must have some future significance lest it not be included at all. One of the earliest forms of the Chekhov's Gun is called "repetitive designation" and can be seen in One Thousand and One Nights.
Examples of a Chekhov's Gun include: Babylon 5's Triluminary; Voldemort's horcruxes in the Harry Potter series; and information about music producer Frankie Sharp's cross-country tour via car in Wayne's World.
"One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it." Chekov, letter to Aleksandr Semenovich Lazarev (pseudonym of A.S. Gruzinsky), 1 November 1889.
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