Alternative Character Interpretation/Live-Action TV

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    Examples of Alternative Character Interpretations in Live-Action TV include:

    Battlestar Galactica (2000s remake)

    • Many viewers seem to think Bill Adama is an incredible leader whose history is one long string of Crowning Moments Of Awesome. Another theory is that he's an asshole. Let's see: this man lied to everyone about knowing where Earth was. (Oh sure, it was to give them hope. How long could it possibly have lasted, and how much worse did it make the inevitable discovery?) He's frequently threatened violence against people under his command, most often a woman half his age. He's committed what was, depending on how the Colonial government works this week, a military coup. He's forced a man under his command to beat him up and then used it to make everyone in the room feel guilty for a mistake that he made! Adama is no great leader—though he may be a Magnificent Bastard for getting everyone to think so. The funny thing is that the show makes him out to be a great leader and a jerk.
    • The flashback in the finale with the lie-detector test. Adama acted less like a man angered at having his integrity questioned and more like a man who had a lot to hide. The test was standard procedure, and none of the questions seemed like they were referring to any specific event... unless Adama did steal money from a cash drawer once.
      • His reaction was spot on for any senior military man whose integrity is questioned. The first thing he's guilty of is pride.
      • Perhaps it was the "Are you a Cylon?" question that riled him up; the next question simply acted as the proverbial last straw. To the operator, it was a perfectly plausible parameter question—but Adama saw the Body Horrors the Cylons did as they tried to become humans.
      • Perhaps it's the Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking way the questions were ordered that pissed Adama off. First the examiner used as a control question something that Adama simply couldn't take lightly (it would be like if the examiner had asked a senior US military officer if he was one of the 9/11 highjackers). To go from that to asking if Adama was a petty thief? Not only was it insulting to Adama's personal integrity and the horrors he experienced in the war, but it was also a good indication that his potential employer was a major Jerkass.
      • Consider also his family's involvement with organized crime (and Adama's own youthful hooliganism abetted by his uncle) as revealed on Caprica. Perhaps the questioning was striking a little close to home?
        • As the Caprica finale showed: wrong Adama.
    • No one on Battlestar Galactica is supposed to be good, with the possible exception of Helo. Adama messes up. Badly. So does everybody else.
      • May we at least debate everyone's shades of grey?
    • Frak Almighty, Alternate Character Interpretation is built into the very nature of the show - some viewers would argue it's what makes the show great.
    • Speaking of Helo: his decision to sabotage the plan to wipe out the Cylons. Was he a moral paragon of humanity keeping his friends from doing something they regret, or an arrogant prick who put his personal pride above the survival of the human race? The question becomes muddier once one realizes that all but two deaths from that point on are a direct result of that choice and therefore Helo's fault.
      • Having their lives spared by Helo's action does not relieve the Cylons of moral agency or free will, and in fact makes them even worse people for continuing to kill humans even after their lives were spared by one. Helo may own his misdeeds, but not theirs.
    • Gaius Baltar: Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds? Or Karma Houdini?

    The Big Bang Theory

    • Sheldon Cooper does seem to have Asperger's Syndrome, despite the creators denying this. He displays the usual signs of Asperger's: heightened vocabulary, lack of caring towards people's feelings, monologue-like speeches, difficulty in understanding social norms, obsessions, altered brain chemicals with coffee, etc.
      • He could be "Clark Kenting" to what he thinks all geniuses should be, copying a professor/doctor/whatever who had Autism whom he idolized when he was growing up in a highly religious part of Texas. Now he has become the mask. He has stated twice that his mother had him tested for insanity; signs of being on the autistic spectrum should've popped up, and so he might not have autism.
        • Maybe the tests did say that he has autism. Just because he has been diagnosed with autism doesn't mean that his mom would do anything about it (quite possibly believing that it was "God's Will" or something), or that he would ever feel the need to mention it.
      • Also, his lack of understanding of social norms stems solely from disinterest, not an inability.
        • Many, many people with AS say the same thing. It doesn't make it true; it is an attempt to deal with the disability by rejecting the world and other people, claiming that you don't do the thing you can't do because you don't want to, not because you can't. It can work for a while but, unless you are lucky enough to find work in a niche where you can get away with acting like this, depression often hits hard in your mid to late thirties.
          • It could be as set of skills one might be bad at, yet not give a shit about. Or he could just find the trade-off not worth the effort.
          • Yes, but there is no evidence of this in the show. Sheldon genuinely doesn't give a damn about anyone else's feelings and doesn't try to hide it.
          • Given what Asperger's Syndrome is believed to be, that could still go either way.
      • The entire male cast shows many of the very same tendencies, just to a lesser degree. Leonard is the most socially savvy and has a vast understanding of human psychological conditioning, but that doesn't make him any less awkward than the other guys in a social setting.
      • Given that, according to Sheldon, his mother had him tested, and that this presumably occurred when he was a child, it is possible that he has a personality disorder that cannot be diagnosed in children and that would not have shown up until he was an adult.
        • Or he was successfully diagnosed with autism as a child and, quite simply, no one feels the need to bring it up on any regular basis.
        • There have been lots of hints (some subtle, some not so subtle) that Sheldon's family life was not exactly ideal: his father was an abusive drunk and his mother uses religion as a form of denial. Losing his father no doubt added to the trauma. And then there was the analogy Sheldon once drew between schmoozing wealthy university donors for grant funding to being molested in the back of a van...which was probably a little too descriptive for the otherwise overly literal Sheldon to be making an extended metaphor. One gets the impression that Sheldon's childhood was horror even leaving aside the bullying he experienced as a result of his intelligence. Combined with at least three severe emotional breakdowns we've seen him have, Sheldon's arrogance and aloofness may well be a defense mechanism which is breaking down over time.
        • Another aspect of his home life that might be affecting his social ability: Sheldon is extremely logical and scientific. His mother is The Fundamentalist. He was raised by someone who, from his perspective, believes in irrational superstitions that there is no evidence for. He would have been terrified at living with and being raised by a person who went around talking about, or even to, a being that doesn't exist; imagine hearing the story of Abraham (almost) sacrificing his son, and worrying that your own mother will act this out on you.
      • Asperger's Syndrome only got added to the DSM-IV in 1994, so if Sheldon was tested earlier in time...
        • In at least a few parts of the world, it was not recognised until the last few years. (I'm looking at you Hampshire, England)
      • His vocabulary aint heightened, he is just arrogant and has misused words in certain cases, and this provides another alternate character interpretation; he is no genius he is merely funciontal at his field and an arrogant jerkass that does everything to lie to himself in order to convince himself he is special, and succeeds at it, making his intelligence an informed ability. The most complex words he ever utters and uses appropiately are standard jargon for his field of study so he shall know them and all his friends unders tand them, actually his inability to understand sarcasm means he is very bad with semantics.
        • Interesting idea. Remember "The Einstein Approximation"? He had a mental breakdown trying to find the solution to a problem and ended up working at the cheesecake factory to try to give himself time to think on it. The solution was a basic premise of particle physics - that electrons can act as a wave and therefore suffer no interference. It took him all episode to come up with. It doesn't take a physics genius to work it out in 2 minutes.
      • Completely alternate Sheldon interpretation: He's a genuinely nice person.
        • He's genuinely concerned when he thinks Penny's been hurt, runs to get her and takes her to hospital. Rather than just telling Leonard that he wouldn't cover for him sleeping with Priya, he constructed an elaborate and detailed cover to help him. When Leonard lied to Penny about her singing, Sheldon could again have simply said he didn't care and told the truth, but instead chose to follow through and help. He went to great extremes to get Howard's forgiveness when he'd ruined his chances of getting security clearance. When he felt that it would be construed as disloyal to have dinner with Penny, he almost killed himself trying to keep both she and Leonard happy. He couldn't ignore the possibility that Amy was hurt when he didn't hear from her.
        • As much as he may pretend otherwise, he actually cares about his friends. When given the option of being trapped in one of the the coldest parts of the planet with anyone, he chose his three friends. He maybe even values their friendship more than any of the rest of them and, even if it may be seen as condescending, is the least frequent to ever intentionally insult any of them (try watching an episode and counting the number of insults Sheldon gives that would actually be considered an insult to his mind, then compare them against those Leonard makes).
        • Though his demands may be extreme, he's just as willing to go to as extreme lengths with things he sees as being as important to other people as those things are to him.
    • The relationship of Penny and Leonard: Romantic Plot Tumor or a romance hindered by best intentions? for the tumorness, see the first season finale. Leonard badgered her to go out with him around the end. And then she dumps him in the second episode and with someone else by the ep after that. And in the third season they get together and seem happy until they break up over Penny not being able to say "I love you" to Leonard and Leonard badgering her over the span of the ep. Is Penny just a Shallow Love Interest who just goes on about how Leonard thinks of her as stupid whenever they argue to win a fight or really new to dating intelligent guys? And is Leonard a whiner who really can't be in relationships because he never really learned love from his mother?
    • In the episode of Bernadette wanting Howard to move in, was Howard pulling a Batman Gambit? He knew Bernadette would keep bugging him about moving in but he wasn't ready (possibly to save money on his engagement ring) so he had to make a plan. Move in, piss her off by his neediness and make her stop. Notice that in his explaination he said he wrote an email to his mother about moving out and her saying she never reads email since she doesn't know how to properly work a computer.

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    • Joss Whedon himself presented an Alternate Character Interpretation for Buffy the Vampire Slayer by saying that the ending of sixth season episode Normal Again (in which Buffy hallucinates that she's a patient in a mental hospital and has been imagining the entire "vampire slayer" gig) might be the truth.
      • Just how stupid is Buffy and how much of her "stupidity" is fake?
        • Her canonical SAT score of 1430 puts a sharp lower bound on her possible IQ. Her repeated tactical, strategic, and emotional blunders in canon put a sharp upper bound on her level of practical smarts. If you want a clear example of the difference between intelligence and wisdom, Buffy's a good place to start.
      • The high amounts of incredulity everybody has at the idea that Buffy should put her slaying before going to a good college in Season 3.
        • Remember that many of these statements are from before Faith's Heel Turn - with another Slayer in town who is visibly not interested in furthering her education (remember that Faith dropped out of high school), it is not unreasonable for Buffy's family and friends to think that she could afford to take a college sabbatical.
      • On the other hand, that statement could just be Joss being Joss.
      • Who says it has to be firmly one way or the other? What if it's two worlds, and the Buffy in each hallucinates being the other?
      • Do we really think a Buffy who went "girl, interrupted" at 15 has the imagination to create the evolving characters of her show?
        • Maybe Buffy is actually Joss, who has been imagining himself as a beautiful young blonde who fights vampires. In that episode, the vampires suddenly vanished, but the blonde girl delusion was still in place.
      • One could posit a similar theory based on a fourth season episode of Charmed which presents much the same scenario: the show, the Charmed Ones, and everything else is the creation of an insane Piper, inspired and encouraged by her roommates.
      • Speaking of Buffy, was her season 6 relationship with Spike his taking advantage of her post-heaven depression and manipulating her away from her friends for his own selfish desires, her taking advantage of his helpless romanticism to get a punching bag and sex toy, both at once, or a genuine loving relationship? Fanfic has supported all of these.
        • Everything about them is subject to Alternate Character Interpretation. When did she fall in love with him? Did she fall in love with him? Why did he tell her she didn't? Did he want his soul back to be good enough for her, to say "sorry," or because he wanted to sleep with her again? Or did he want the chip out but get double-crossed? And let's not go into what he was thinking during the Attempted Rape...
      • Pre-souled Spike - a sensitive romantic too shy to admit to his true feelings, suffering years of cruel physical and mental abuse from Buffy? Or an evil, selfish, violent vampire consumed with a psychotic obsession for Buffy, who should have staked him years ago?
        • James Marsters has said that he played Spike as being attracted to Buffy from the beginning.
      • Willow Rosenberg, card carrying lesbian or in the bi closet?
        • 'The Fluke' arc of season 3 requires Willow to either be capable of feeling genuine sexual attraction to a man or to be perpetrating a long-term psychological gaslighting of exceptional cruelty on Xander for no known reason. Door #2 being unlikely in the extreme, we are left with door #1 as not only most likely but only likely hypothesis. So, 'bi closet' is pretty much canonical.

    Doctor Who

    • Doctor Who is an example of Alternate Character Interpretation within a series, thanks to being portrayed by over a dozen different actors (in canon, anyway) and a slew of writers, directors and producers over more than four decades, the Doctor has received every interpretation imaginable, from eccentric wanderer, to a literal god, and everything in between. Not to mention the various speculations on the nature of the Doctor's relationship with various companions.
      • With Ten in particular, the question is, "Does he mean well?" Many are convinced he's being intentionally written as an egotistical Jerkass who demands the attention of others and refuses to give anything in return, running roughshod over people's lives and never feeling the need to explain himself or ask permission.
      • Ten's regeneration scene: one of the most moving and emotional scenes in the franchise's history as he desperately hangs on for as long as possible, or an act of spite against his next incarnation, forcing him to be born in a crashing TARDIS? Or just scared out of his wits of dying?
      • Perhaps the Tenth Doctor's strident pacifism is a form of detached arrogance fitting with his god-complex. He pompously berates the "little" lifeforms for using violence (frequently in self-defence) because, as a Time Lord, he has no way of seeing things from their perspective or at their level (or at least no way that sticks after he reopens the fob watch). There's a hint supporting this theory in the episode "The Christmas Invasion" from 2005: Ten berates the Prime Minister for destroying a Sycorax ship. The Prime Minister measuredly responds by telling him that Earth needs to defend itself because the Doctor is "not always [there]". Ten petulantly rejects this and sets events in motion to force the Prime Minister from office.
        • And despite his pompous attitude, Ten is not the pacifist he sometimes claims to be. He can get quite nasty. Either by losing his temper or worse, while telling you how sorry he is.
      • Ninth Doctor: Emotionally unstable, battle-scarred Woobie Last of His Kind? Or egotistical, violent Knight Templar?
        • And is his first companion, Rose Tyler. A book dumb but brilliant girl who was loving and caring, and helped the Doctor recovery from the pain of his war, but with human flaws? Or a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who cares nothing about her friends and family, cannot take responsibility and is unable to cope without the Doctor? Or a mix of both?
      • In-Universe, the Eleventh Doctor episode "The Pandorica Opens" gives us an idea of how the Doctor is seen by species he doesn't save every week - particularly the Exclusively Evil ones, but possibly also the no-worse-than-humans ones as well: he's a world-ending demon who must be shut away for all eternity before he destroys the entire universe.

    There was a goblin. Or a Trickster. Or a warrior. A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
    You make them so afraid. When you began all those years ago sailing off to see the universe... did you ever think you’d become this? The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name! Doctor. The word for healer and wise man throughout the universe. We get that word from you, you know. But if you carry on the way you are, what might that word come to mean? To the people of the Gamma Forests, the word "doctor" means "mighty warrior". How far you've come!

      • On the companion side of things, Amy Pond has been getting a lot of this. Is she a quirky girl/young woman who never quite fit in and has found someone like her in the Doctor? Or a somewhat unbalanced, obsessive woman who can't relate to anybody easily because she's just spent that long devoting her life to waiting for the Doctor? How much of this is directly because of her abandonment by the Doctor, and how much is just her?
        • And then there's the issue of how she had a psychic parasite living in her house and actively absorbing her memories from her formative years through to adulthood...
        • Then there's the fact that the crack in time in her house deleted her parents from history, but in such a way that Amy would still exist. Just thinking about that kind of temporal anomaly is enough to muddle someone's brain. Imagine living it.
          • On top of that, the crack kept pouring the Universe through her dreams. The Doctor says that affected her memory; did it affect anything else?
        • And now she remembers all sorts of complicated events that never really happened; what would that do to your mind?
          • And others can't help but interpret her as a horrible person due to that time she tried to seduce the Doctor the night before her wedding with her wedding dress hanging on the wardrobe. And does she really deserve Rory's Undying Loyalty when it takes near-death experiences for her to show him affection? She had a terrible case of cold feet about the wedding and at the end of the series is pretty open to kissing the Doctor in front of him. She can also been seen as having an attachment disorder.
            • Then on top of that, the show throws the possibility out there it was pure adrenaline and not in character for Amy. And this brings us to Rory- how much does he actually like his relationship with the openly-flirty Amy? Is he just willing to put up with it because he loves her that much, or does he not mind much as long as it stays at the flirting level? In general, series 5 is... debatable.
              • Also, does Rory's love for Amy border on Loving a Shadow? She's (on the surface at least) a beautiful and funny young woman, and Rory is clearly amazed by his good fortune but at times seems pretty willfully ignorant of her flaws. And then he waited 2000 years for her, and that's got to be hard to live up to.
      • This carries on another of Eleven's major companions, River Song. Is she an egotistical psychopath who cares more about herself and the Doctor than doing what's good? Should she be pitied because of his twisting path and time-line which has blasted every possibility of a normal life from her? Is she too dependent on the Doctor, to the point where he's her only reason for being, and if that's true, should we interpret this as just part of her character, or a bad thing?
      • Lest we begin to think that this is limited to the new series, the classic series also brings in alternative character viewpoints. Take, for example, the Seventh Doctor. The conventional view of the Seventh Doctor—and certainly the one which carried primarily into the expanded universe—is that he's The Chessmaster, a ruthless Manipulative Bastard who knows all the moves and has the winning gambit planned out before the game's even started, and who's willing to ruthlessly play his companions like pawns. However, if you watch his television episodes closely, you see that for a supposedly hyper-sharp chessmaster he seems to screw up a hell of a lot. Things that he didn't anticipate keep happening, meaning he has to compensate for them. People make moves he didn't expect and hasn't planned for. Sometimes it looks like the villain actually has won, until the Doctor essentially pulls a rabbit out of a hat to save the day. A convincing case can be made that the Seventh Doctor actually sucks at being a Chessmaster, but happens to be excellent at improvisation and for whatever reason is determined to make it look like he knew what he was doing all along.
      • Similarly, the Sixth Doctor; is he just an arrogant, pompous bully? Or is he maladjusted and riddled with psychological issues from a difficult regeneration—including PTSD—that he never fully manages to overcome?
      • "The End of Time" adds a bit of this for The Master, who up to that point had mostly come across as a Card-Carrying Villain with extra Foe Yay, with The Reveal that the drumming that had been driving him insane throughout his new series appearances was implanted by the other Time Lords as a Gambit Roulette to get themselves out of the Time War. Whether you think this is a Stable Time Loop or not (i.e., the drums were the reason for his insanity in the old series as well) can change him from a borderline Complete Monster who happens to be a victim to a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Though either way, the Time Lords were bastards for doing that to him.
      • The Tenth Doctor is not actually very powerful. If he were very powerful, he could have figured out how to fight the Daleks effectively without killing off his own people. Also, I'm not actually sure how you're supposed to "survive the war by fighting on the front lines" armed only with a magic wand in all but name. I mean, UNIT carries weapons that in some ways are much more practical.
    • Torchwood has Ianto Jones. Meek tea-boy, or a secretive Badass Normal who conned the con man?
      • Ianto was originally intended as a much darker character, how much of this lingers on?
      • Captain Jack can also be seen from an Anti-hero to a borderline Complete Monster.
      • The entire team. I group of highly skilled specialists defending the Earth from aliens or a bunch of selfish twits who are the very cause of the dangers they're supposed to be protecting humanity from.


    • In "Need To Know", did House leave Stacy because a) he was being self-sacrificing, b) he didn't want to go through the heartbreak of five years ago again, c) he wants to keep being miserable, d) he hadn't forgiven her for what happened with the infarction and wanted to hurt her, or e) all of the above?
    • Another one occasionally brought up in context is whether House honestly cares about his patients and wants to find out what's wrong with them to help them, or if he just sees them as puzzles to be solved, not caring whether he helps or harms them in the process. And then there are all the permutations of the combination of the two, such as "he cares about some but not others", or "he does care but also sees them as something to be solved at all costs."
    • Many fans believe that even though House is a jerk, he does genuinely care about those around him (evidence in the episodes "Euphoria" and "Wilson's Heart") and his patients.
      • On the other hand, we have "Last Resort", when House put Thirteen's and the other hostages' lives at risk by giving the gun back to the disarmed hostage taker just because he wanted to solve a medical mystery and didn't want the SWAT team to interrupt him. Or the way he treated the patient from the episode "Who's Your Daddy?" Apparently the writers of the show don't struggle for consistency here.
      • Maybe House cares only about those whom he's close to, and everyone else is a puzzle.
      • House still showed that he is a decent person in "Who's your Daddy" because he did not reveal to him the girl was not his biological daughter because that revelation would have harmed both that father and the girl. It could be argued that he acted as he did because he was concerned for his friend.
    • A prominent argument in recent times has been created over Dr. Wilson's character. After Wilson practically asked his best friend to sacrifice his life for Wilson's girlfriend and then held said best friend responsible for her death for a while even though he had done what Wilson asked (it was already too late by then), some people feel that he's not as nice as he seems. There are online communities devoted to exploring the darker sides of his character.
      • This could be considered canon if you consider the last developments about his schizophrenic brother and how he constructed his "nice guy" persona as a huge overreaction. As House himself said:

    "You're all persona".

      • Yes, but even then there's still room for interpretation. What's under the persona? Nothing (the literal meaning of House's statement, but likely not what House meant)? A normal human being who is no more and no less bastardly than most of the PPTH staff? A Chessmaster attempting to manipulate everything, including House, for his own personal gain?
      • This was hinted at even earlier, in season three, when he gives advice to Foreman on how to tell a patient she's dying, which includes directions on just when and how to touch a patient's arm so she feels comforted. The scene can be interpreted as Wilson being so practiced at telling people how to die that he's reduced it to a science, or as Wilson being a master of faking sincerity. (Remember, if you can fake that, you can fake anything... It's almost a pity Wilson didn't stick with acting.)
    • About House caring, Wilson claims from the first episode that the real reason House refuses to meet with patients is that, if he does, he'll begin to care about them as human beings, and then he'll hesitate when it comes to ordering the crazy dangerous treatments that are often the only chance to save their lives. About Wilson caring, in the fourth season episode "Frozen," the patient—a psychiatrist trapped in Antarctica and communicating via webcam—remarks on the oddity of Wilson's friendship with House, since the latter has such a bad reputation among his colleagues and the former has "a perfect score." When Wilson asks if she thinks House is secretly a lot nicer than he seems, she replies that she thinks Wilson is secretly a lot less nice than he seems. She qualifies, saying "indescriminate niceness is overrated," but yeah.

    The Office

    • Dwight in The Office. On the one hand, he's a hopelessly deluded man whose pretensions of Nietzschian grandeur clearly make him a loser. On the other hand, he does what he loves and is very good at it, he had the best love life out of any of the characters for several seasons, and he's always making reference to having regular friends outside of work who he does stuff like play laser tag with. Out of all the characters, Dwight's life is arguably the least sad and depressing. This might not be a case of Alternate Character Interpretation, though—he started as a Butt Monkey, but the writers upgraded Dwight to a more formidable character when they realized that the fans liked him.
      • On the other, other hand, he could be antisocial or dyssocial. He shares no empathy over killing his cousin Mose's pet dog (he thought it had rabies, but it turned out ate some whipped-cream pie. Dwight says he killed it because it was a thief), his ex-girlfriend Angela's cat (it looked like it had died, so he froze it—but it died from freezing to death) and shot a neighbor's dog thinking it was a werewolf. He constantly deceives people (like when he attempted a coup against his boss Michael). He stores weapons like poison darts, nunchucks, knives, cross-bows, etc. all around the office. He is shown fighting and or threatening co-workers. He is a narcissist. He cares for no one else's safety when he LIT THE OFFICE ON FIRE to prove they don't care for fire drills and caused property damage, and gave co-worker Stanley a heart attack during that fiasco.
        • From Dwight's POV, the fire was his idea of proving how much he cared for everyone else's safety, as he hoped it would prove that a more thorough evacuation plan was needed. The same goes for the weapons: he believes that his Crazy Preparedness ultimately makes the office a much safer place to be (he did save Jim from getting his ass beat by Roy). As for his lack of empathy towards animals, if memory serves, Jim tricked him into thinking there was a werewolf, and ended up buying Angela a new cat.
        • Jim tricked Dwight into think Jim was a vampire which, considering the "werewolf" incident, was probably pretty dangerous. Dwight killed the "werewolf" long before that episode.
        • Dwight bought Angela a new cat - and then couldn't understand why she was still upset. He had no comprehension of Angela's emotional connection to her cat. Then there was the time he tricked Angela in marrying him, and couldn't understand why she was upset.
        • Didn't he grow up on a farm? It's only reasonable that he'd think of animals in terms of utility first (she lost her pet, get her a new pet) and sentimentality after. As for the con wedding, he and Michael both live as if they're inside a movie, so to Dwight it would have seemed like the kind of crazy romantic stunt that always works out in movies.
    • A common theory about Michael Scott is that he's a genius in disguise, and all his bumbling and whatnot is a part of the plan. See the episode in which Michael and Jan go to Chili's to meet with a client, where Michael just tells jokes and stories the whole time, which ends up being the perfect strategy for getting the client on-board with them. This leads Jan to develop a crush on Michael. Other characters have also theorized aloud that Michael may be a secret genius.
      • Michael definitely steps up his game when he deals with clients. He has a rolodex of all of his clients, which includes lots of personal information, and topics to avoid and to emphasize. And he tells a good story. But when he's in the office, he's insulting, inconsiderate, and can't tell a joke to save his life.
        • It's not a matter of stepping up his game. The dominant interpretation of his character is that Michael as office manager is the Peter Principle in action: he really was an outstanding salesman, but he's been promoted to a position that's above his level of competency; he honestly tries to be the world's greatest boss, but continually fails miserably.
      • Confirmed by the Michael Scott Paper Company arc. At the end of it, Michael single-handedly negotiates his old job back, as well as getting sales positions for Pam and Ryan, all while knowing full well that if he gets called on his bluff he doesn't have a leg to stand on. It's probably the first time in the series that we actually get to see why Michael made manager in the first place. He's actually really good at his job.
        • He was only able to get their jobs back because of other people's work though, not his own managerial skills; his main concern for the negotiations was not blurting out that the Michael Scott Paper Co. was going bankrupt. He only knew about the buy-out in the first place because of inside information that Jim gave them because of his relationship with Pam. And it would have fell through if Jim had not discredited Dwight in front of Charles. And the only reason Dunder Mifflin even wanted to buy them out was because of Michael took the client list (via his crude corporate espionage) and many of the clients (mostly because of Ryan's accounting error making him think he could charge lower prices). So Michael's only real contributions were stealing the client list and coming up with the idea of asking for their jobs back, the rest came from other people.
      • Michael's branch is the best preforming branch of the entire company, despite being staffed by a bunch of idiots, so he has to be doing something right.
    • The pilot script for NBC's vs. of The Office was the pilot script for The BBC's vs. of The Office with all the names changed. Once the script-lines diverged, some characters diverged dramatically. David Brent was very different from Michael Scott, for instance.
      • One ACI for both of them is that they were not Bad Bosses until the cameras came and triggered their increasing Small Name, Big Ego moments.
        • Possibly confirmed for David Brent in the BBC post-series Christmas special. It's never gonna be confirmed for Michael Scott even if it's true for him; it is against NBC Universal's interest to make viewers aware just how much cameras can affect behavior.
          • How so? Also on topic, the characters of Pam and Jim; Is Jim a smug popular jerk that knew he wanted to break up Pam and Roy but found out it wasn't working and went to Stamford, found a new love in Karen and then was surprised his plan actually worked when he came back and just dumped Karen after going under the influence? Or was Pam the one who gave hints despite being committed to Roy and made it very clear that she wanted him in her rant on "Beach Day" and made Jim dump Karen for her?
            • Alternately - is Jim just completely immature in Season 3, sulking about the fact that after he declared his love for Pam a week before her wedding, it took her a few days to break off her relationship of 10 years? Or is he making a considered decision that for a real relationship to work, Pam has to chase him for a while, too?
    • Ryan the Temp seems to be "The Only Sane One" but he is actually the most incompetent salesman in the entire company having never made a single sale
      • Also, even though he brags constantly about having women throwing themselves at him, but really the only one who he can really be with is Kelly
      • Is Ryan actually an intelligent guy who knows more about business than Micheal or is he someone who is book smart but has little to no practical knowledge. Having never made a single sale doesn't necessarily make him incompetent since it is Truth in Television that there are some people who can't be salesmen to save their lives but seem otherwise intelligent in Real Life, but his other plans, such as the website, don't work out in the real world the way they did on paper either.

    Star Trek franchise

    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • Weyoun: ingratiating, deceptive snake? Or loyal, selfless Founder dog? One alternative interpretation isn't so much as who he is or what he does, but how he's seen. When you take into consideration that he (along with all the Vorta) is a family-less clone who was never born and had no childhood, but instead was callously created by the Founders with the express purpose of serving them, it's actually kind of heartbreaking. In universe, absolutely nobody likes Weyoun. And he doesn't even seem to be all that aware of this. He's also commented about his lack of aesthetics, stating that no Vorta has any sense of art because the Founders didn't think it was important for them to have it. Still, he has said wistfully, it would be nice to carry a tune... the Vorta (with Weyoun being the most extreme example) would do anything for the Founders, and the Founders are quite apathetic most of the time. Looking at it from this point of view, Weyoun isn't so much the bastard you can't help but hate, but the underdog victim that you can't help but root for.
      • The Founder who was running the Alpha Quadrant theater said that Weyoun was the only solid she truly trusted when they were about to be captured on Cardassia Prime. Her demeanor and the circumstances lead one to believe she was being sincere.
      • Strongly hinted in the show: that the series exists only in the mind of '50s sci-fi writer Benny Russell.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Data does have emotions. He's always had them, but they're deliberately bypassed by his programming. This could explain his more human moments, when his programs are working so hard to figure out the situation—such as, say, in a moment involving the death of a comrade—that the program performing the rerouting process gets distracted and doesn't do its job properly, resulting in Data's almost-but-not-quite emotional moments. Data has a computer program in his brain telling him what to do (influenced by Soong's ideas of what should and shouldn't be done) that ignores whatever emotions he has. The addition of his emotion chip doesn't add anything new to Data's programming; it just removes the influence of the program telling him how to behave. This explains several things, including why Lore could manipulate Data into feeling individual (mainly negative) emotions in Descent.
      • Alternatively? Data is in the biggest, most convincing case of Denial ever encountered in an artificial being.
        • Makes sense. How could an emotionless being want to have emotions?
      • Perhaps the emotion chip is just a Magic Feather.
        • If so, then it's one powerful placebo. Lore got something from that chip himself, though neither he nor we know what—and he already had emotions!
          • Lore didn't have emotions; he had simulated emotional response that gave him the appearence of emotions. The problem was that even that was such confusing and complicated chore to program that it quite often overrode his basic morality. When Data was built, Soong didn't bother with emotions and wrote a more clearly defined moral code instead. When Data meets Soong decades later, it's implied that he was working on the emotion chip for the entire time.
      • Perhaps the most likely explanation is that Data only has some simple emotions, like curiosity, the desire for companionship, and the desire to be better. Full on love or rage is beyond him, but it's inaccurate to say he's without feeling.
        • Alternatively yet again, his 'desires' could simply be pre-programmed goals. Data may not feel any actual attachment to his friends, but when an opportunity to make and keep friends comes up, his programming dictates that he choses that option over others.
        • Or alternatively yet again, he does feel emotions, but he doesn't know that a feeling he has is love, anger, sadness, etc., because he doesn't have any physical or psychological reaction when he feels them. He feels "pure" emotions, rather than emotions plus all the reactions and behavior that accompanies it. And he can't realize this, because he always acts in a calm, logical manner, even if the true motivations for his actions are not logical. Kind of like Spock trying to rationalize caring for Kirk as solely logical interest in the captain's safety (which is perfectly valid), even though it's obvious that the real reason is that he likes/feels affection for Kirk. Except Spock is actively trying to scrounge up a logical excuse for his actions because he doesn't want to admit that he feels emotions, whereas Data can't find any illogical excuse for his actions, because emotions don't make him act illogically. So the emotion chip just allowed Data's body/sensory system to react to his emotions, it didn't actually give them to him.
    • One from Star Trek: The Original Series, although it was put forward by the character in a later appearance: Scotty's miraculously fast solutions are due as much to blatantly padded estimates as to his personal genius.
      • In the NextGen episode "Relics" Geordi tells Picard in Scotty's hearing how long a certain engineering miracle will take. After that call is hung up, Scotty asks Geordi how long it'll really take. Geordi repeats the same figure and is scolded by Scotty for not exaggerating the time it would take. ("Relics" is a post-Roddenberry episode.)

    Kirk: Mr. Scott, have you always multiplied your repair estimates by a factor of four?
    Scotty: Certainly sir; how else can I keep my reputation as a miracle worker?

      • Perhaps the most famous TOS Alternate Character Interpretation of all: the nature of Kirk and Spock's relationShip. By which we mean, they were the love of each others' lives. It's worth noting that Gene Roddenberry all but admitted that was the case.
        • The Ship's Closet is dedicated entirely to proving that this interpretation is the intended interpretation. Britanny even builds a timeline of the relationship - during the events of the show, Kirk and Spock are merely expressing interest in and flirting with one another. They get together as a couple during the first film. McCoy finds the whole thing amusing.
      • Also, on Alternate Character Interpretation, James T. Kirk. Lovable, charismatic, all-American good guy? Male chauvinist Mighty Whitey imperialist egomaniac? Or both?
        • Interestingly, Kirk's character has gotten increasingly egotistical over the years. In the original '60s series, he was written as an ultra-serious leader type concerned mainly for the safety of his ship and crew. He tended to come off as somewhat arrogant due to William Shatner's hammy performance and the fact that he ended up breaking Starfleet rules in every other episode, but this appears to be unintentional. Then Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan came along and Deconstructed Kirk's clever Take a Third Option solutions, effectively canonizing hubris as part of his character. By Star Trek VI the Undiscovered Country, a villainous character denounces Kirk as "an insubordinate, unprincipled, career-minded opportunist". Finally, the 2009 film completed the transformation, portraying Academy-era Kirk as an arrogant young hot-shot. So, Kirk is an example of an Alternative Character Interpretation gradually becoming canon.
          • Not the same Kirk. This one lost his father few minutes after he was born. Should chance something.
      • Is Geordi LaForge merely an unlucky-in-love Gadgeteer Genius, or is there something more to it? Over the course of the series, all of his closest personal relationships have been formed in one way or another with machines. He's chief engineer of a starship, his best friend is an Android, he later befriends a Borg drone, and he once fell in love with the ship's computer in the guise of a computer-generated simulation of the woman who designed the Enterprise. When he finally meets the real her, he finds her lacking; they eventually end up friends, but it's made clear it won't go further... Clearly, his own biomechanical augmentation has isolated him socially from his fellow Human beings, and he tends to relate better to machines. Since most humans in the Star Trek 'verse have severe prejudices against machines and computers, Geordi has to hide his preference behind the facade of doomed brief relationships.
        • Not quite. Geordi is married by the end of the series in one possible future timeline, and Picard clearly says that her name is Leah—the aforementioned starship designer. Clearly Geordi's luck could turn around at some point.
        • Also, in the episode "Hide and Q," Riker is offered the powers of a Q and he grants Geordi sight. The first thing Geordie does is look at Tasha Yar and exclaim that she's just as beautiful as he'd always imagined her...
          • He was blind from birth. What could his imagination have granted him that the VISOR didn't? Or is Tasha that beautiful?
            • The VISOR lets him sense the presence and shape and color of phsyical objects, but in a very computational sense rather than human sight.
          • This could be one of those intentionally doomed relationships that he built up in his mind. Perhaps he was so completely in the closet about his robosexual feelings that he had to hide them even from himself. It would even explain why he asked Riker to take back his gift.
          • "Leah Brahms LaForge" is not a complete joss, not once Voyager's EMH gets hold of that tech that lets him leave the true holodecks. That came too late to allow Geordi to intend to go for hologram!Leah canonically, but the topic's open for Epileptic Trees.
      • For that matter, Q. Character development aside, it's easy to look at his seemingly immature meddling and misuse of godlike powers as a Mary Poppins act.
      • The Entire Federation in Star Trek: Utopian, Democratic Post-Scarcity Utopia? Or Incompetent, Lawful Good to Lawful Neutral, conformist, military state? Starfleet has a lot of power, access to all the cool toys, and control of interstellar communications. They try civilians in military courts. Other than the Maquis, most Federation citizens are accepting of this level of control by the military and the few that do not see Starfleet as a pack of holy angels are explicitly pointed to as misfits. On the other hand, their citizens do enjoy a number of freedoms due to the advancements of 24th century technology that we can't possibly dream of, and despite the number of insane admirals promoted by the military meritocracy, is a mostly benevolent organization.
        • There is an argument that Starfleet in general and Picard in particular are lawful evil, because of the consistency with which arbitrary rules are used to justify allowing people, or even entire planetary populations, to die.
          • In "Homeward", people are threatened with utter extinction through natural disaster, and Picard just quotes the Prime Directive. In the real world, when a tsunami hit Asia, nobody suggested we just let the people die to that natural disaster, even considering the thought would be viewed as thoroughly and irredeemably evil.
      • Star Trek, beneath its veneer of utopian optimism, is terrifying in a vaguely WH40K way. The Alpha Quadrant powers are 'merely' a few hundred to thousand year old interstellar civilizations carefully building over the ruins of countless other bygone sapient races from the past few billion years, occasionally stumbling across a functional doomsday weapon that typically kills billions before it can be stopped. Meanwhile, for the sake of their mutual continued non-extinction, all the nation-states are maintaining the polite fiction that they only need phasers or photon torpedoes to fight wars while stockpiling said ancient weapons and hoarding the Phlebotinum it intentionally 'forgets' [read: suppresses] to avoid a Singularity. Plus everyone's just a single scientific discovering away from accidentally elevating themselves into immature godlings who, typically, are enfant terribles one temper tantrum away from murdering a whole starship/planet so they can have their way with the hot yeoman they're crushing on. And the only people standing between galactic civilization and its own (self-)destruction? Starfleet. Starfleet, from its coup-prone admiralty down to its ignoble redshirts, is fighting to preserve the ultra-pure humanist ideal and the limitations on the war by any means necessary against all comers. Because, when everyone else has fallen to their knees, who else is going to ask 'God' why He needs a starship?
        • That's because Star Trek is a metaphor for left-wing politics. It has a veneer of utopian optimism because left-wing politics is utopian optimistic, and it's terrifying because left-wing politics happened during the cold war. The Federation is the Mensheviks, Section 31 is the Bratva, the Mazarites are the Mafia, the Romulans are the KGB, the Klingons are the Red Army or the GRU or something, the Ferengi are Labor UK, the Democratic Party in the USA after about 1950-1970, or are the Mensheviks' idea of chances that the West would bury the East instead of the East burying the West, the Pakleds are GOSPLAN, the Bak'u are the later phase of Invariance, the Borg Collective are the Bolsheviks, the Borg Cooperative are the PRC, red matter is nuclear weapons, the Betazed are the USSR's interest in the paranormal, the Vulcans are analytical Marxism, the Andorians are the more aggressive aspects of the East's foreign policy, and so forth. This could also be the reason why Star Trek is science fantasy: the writers are clearly skilled enough to write normal fiction, but the metaphor for left-wing politics is so difficult to write and political activists make such lame writers that they must take immense liberties with physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and when it comes to Voyager's torpedoes, basic arithmetic so that they may create the small-scale stories that they have done instead of immense hard-sf epics with complete attention to detail. Also, it's on television, and Viewers Are Goldfish, so epics can't fit there.
    • The Opinionated Guides to Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise have a lot of fun with this, especially regarding the captains of the two shows. Janeway is a tyrannical genocidal maniac who wants to break the will of everyone around her and has singled out Harry Kim as her favorite punching bag. Archer is a complete lunatic who considers his dog an equal member of the crew and insists on being called "Duchess."
      • On the subject of Janeway, many have (only half-jokingly) suggested that the character is bipolar (largely as a way to explain her varying characterization).
        • Kate Mulgrew, the actress who portrayed Janeway, has even stated that she agrees with the idea that Janeway was bipolar or mentally unstable.
      • He applies it on a grand scale to Star Trek V, saying the film works beautifully if you take it as a satire of Roddenberry's idea of a socialist utopia, with things like the military having a number of competent people you can count on one hand and a decades-old failed publicity stunt considered important enough to send all of them on.

    Stargate franchise


    • It might depend on how brave you are, but it's easy to see a level of crush-like attraction in Dean's militaristic, obsessive devotion to his father. Especially since he can't even comprehend disobeying him and almost always loses all backbone when his dad is nearby.
      • That's not the only crush-like behavior on the show. There's brotherly love, and then there are the Winchesters.
      • Y'all can say things like that because you never saw your grandfather rule your father and uncles like John Winchester led his boys. When granddad said do something, it got done. Not a crush—unswerving, dysfunctional loyalty.
        • Dean and Sam's relationship with their father is a direct parallel of the classical Christian relationship with God, with Dean as the dutiful son and Sam as the heretic vying for independence. Not too far off from the Paradise Lost's depictions of Micheal and Lucifer, though that poem is also rife with alternate interpretations. Holy foreshadowing, Batman!
          • That technically is the point of that plot arc though. They were chosen as the vessels for Michael and Lucifer because the relationship they shared with each other and their father was parallel to that shared between Michael, Lucifer, and God.
    • The Amulet-Giving in "A Very Supernatural Christmas": A heartwarming moment where Sam realizes just how awesome Dean is and how crappy his father is in comparison, or a disheartening moment where Dean gets something just because John wasn't there? Depending on how much depression you can take, both options are believable.
    • Dean's devil deal: A heroic sacrifice born out of love for his brother, or the selfish act of a codependent depressive who knows firsthand the emotional devastation it will cause but does it anyway? Characters on the show say it's the latter.
    • John Winchester: A good man who, under difficult circumstances, did the best he could for his kids? Or a pitiful, borderline abusive parent who made too many mistakes and messed up Sam and Dean for life?
      • From what Bobby said about the John/Sam rift in the fourth season finale, maybe he doesn't have that high of an opinion of John's parenting either.
    • Ruby: Before she died along with Dean in the third season finale and came back in the fourth, was she really planning all that stuff in the fourth season with Lilith since the beginning? Or when she died her personality took a 360 in the middle of seasons 3 & 4? And her relaitonship with Sam; Was she really in love with him or just using him? Or maybe she really did die at the end of season 3 and it was a new demon just pretending to be Ruby.
    • Is Dean the straightest most boob-lovingest man ever to be heterosexual? Or is he overcompensating and in denial about his sexuality?
      • He's straight and overcompensating, canonically. Remember, he has a somewhat inaccurate view of "manliness", and when he does sleep with women, he's a gentle lover, somewhat at odds with his macho-macho act, which would stereotypically hit 'em and quit 'em.

    Other Works

    • Absolutely Fabulous: The whole cast. Saffron, dogged good guy or generic university socialist who sponges off her mother? Edina, crazy new age retro hippy and Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist or resourceful modern woman who likes to have fun and has to put up with a zoo of people with weird quirks, including family who sponge off her? Mother, dealing with the problems or later life or was never quite right(She held Edina with Rubber Kitchen Gloves at birth.)?
    • Rachel from This Life: a sneaky manipulator who intentionally winds up Millie? Or a sweet girl who is the object of Millie's paranoia and jealousy?
    • There was a common debate in the first three series of The L Word between those who saw Jenny as a faithless, narcissist and those thought of her as a nice girl who made a few mistakes. However after series 4 she was almost universally loathed. Similarly, Bette Porter is viewed by some as a bitch and others as a decent but flawed person.
    • Sophie in Peep Show. The actress Olivia Coleman has mentioned in interviews that while other cast members like Sophie she sees her as a detestable character who uses and abuses Mark.
    • Father Ted. The show is nice and peaceful and relatively harmless. Or so it seems. Craggy Island is effectively a prison island, to which the characters have been sent by Bishop Brennan, who hates them. Ted was sent there because he stole money from the church, Dougal was sent there for 'the blackrock incident' that involved the death of several nuns, Jack was sent there for being an alcoholic pervert, and Mrs Doyle was either sent there or escaped there for killing her husband (though this is only hinted at). The characters of Johnny And Mary actually form a sort of metaphor for the series - it's all happy to the general public but behind the scenes, something dark is going on.
      • Why is Mrs Doyle always making tea? Enthusiasm, boredom? Or could it be obsessive compulsive behaviour caused by being nervous/wanting to always be occupied so you don't end up doing something bad?
        • Father he in love with Father Ted?
    • Cameron from The Sarah Connor Chronicles. We know that she is capable of feeling emotions—she becomes very emotional whenever she becomes Allison Young—but she generally suppresses them whenever she's in her main persona. To make things even more confusing, she is apparently capable of realistically faking any human emotion. Even that can't explain all of her behavior; she sometimes behaves emotionally even when no one is watching. It makes sense to think that she does have emotions, but they are secondary to her primary function: protect John Connor at any cost.
      • Even more complicated yet—a lack of emotional behavior on her part might indicate emotions. In one episode, Cameron displayed flat, monotonous, sincere concern for John's mental health and happiness, contrasted with another Terminator perfectly faking normal, human affection.
      • It is actually up in the air as to whether Cameron truly does care for John's emotional well-being, or if she is simply a cold machine that knowingly manipulates his emotions and feelings in order to keep him safe. Both concepts have their support in canon, as Cameron does seem to care about John, but at the same time there are several scenes which show her using both his feelings for her and his feelings for others to manipulate him.
    • It could just be fans over-thinking things, but the LiveJournal consensus on Hawkeye from M*A*S*H is that he's either bisexual (flirting with anyone that moves), bipolar (four breakdowns at least and incredibly quick to go from depressed to manic and back again) or both. In the words of Sidney the psychiatrist:

    "Anger turned inwards is depression. Anger turned sideways is Hawkeye Pierce."

      • This theory is so popular, Futurama has a field day with it: Hawkeye as the robot "iHawk", operating and drinking a martini at the same time while hitting on the nurse. Also, he has a switch on his side which changes his mood from irreverent ("Zoidberg has twice as much experience as you do" - "Right, He's a doctor AND a butcher") and maudlin ("When will the killing end?")

    "This isn't a war, it's a murder." * flips switch* "Dis ain't a war, it's a moider!"

    • I Dream of Jeannie This is the ultimate fantasy about a master and slave, all right... Just who is the master, again? The first episode alone has Jeannie threatening to turn "her master" into a serpent, angrily demanding to know what another woman is doing there, and refusing to leave and release her new boytoy from her clutches. Jeannie's the one holding the proverbial whip—she takes over Tony's life, and there's nothing he can do about it.
      • In traditional Arab fairy tales, being the "master" of a djinn has always been a precarious position to be in, so perhaps this interpretation is more apt than can be told on first blush.
      • Jeannie's sister. Homewrecking troublemaker or a bored, unhappy slave whose sister naively rubbed her freedom and her attractive master's lack of demands in her face? Of the two masters of hers who appeared on the show, one was an ugly, ancient chainsmoker who imprisoned her most of the day and threatened to whip her, and one was a brute who was never there and pulled her around by the hair when he was. Having not been freed like Jeannie, she was forced to obey their every command, whenever they could find her. Her malicious streak seems to be a genie trait, not completely a personal one. Jeannie herself did many of the same things on occasion to get what she wanted.
    • Bones: Asperger's Syndrome, while not mentioned in the show itself, would explain an awful lot about the behavior of both Zach and, to a lesser degree, Bones herself.
      • To someone who has worked closely with people with Asperger's Syndrome (or who is one), Zach appears to be a textbook case of a moderate-functioning Aspie (at least, before his revelation in the Gormagon story arc). Tempe "Bones" Brennan appears to be a high-functioning Aspie, combined with the sort of Ivory Tower mentality common to professional academics.
        • If tested, both would be found to have Asperger's, though Zach would have more markers of having the disorder. Both also are locked in the empiric mindset of scientists, rejecting almost all outside stimulus as irrelevant to how they should act towards others, especially those "unequal" to themselves, as well as anything not recorded and accepted as fact or definite to science.
        • Look down at Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory for more.
        • Word of God confirms this for Zach. Nothing has been said concerning Bones. Given what we know, it's probably also true for her.
        • From series creator Hart Hanson: "If we were on cable, we would have said from the beginning that Brennan has Asperger’s. Instead, it being a network, we decided not to label a main character, for good or for bad. But those elements are in there."
    • The cast of Lost fall under this. To some, Locke is truly special, with a divine reason for doing what he does. To others, he's just overzealous; and he has risked far too much in his attempts to find himself and protect the island, making him a Jerkass. The show loved zig-zagging on this point.
    • This is the underlying theme in the second season of Dexter: is he a good person doing bad things, or a bad person doing good things?
      • The second season? That theme showed up in the first episode and slowly expanded to include every character in the show. It has such deep moral ambiguity.
      • Then there's the other controversy. Is Dexter a genuinely emotionless sociopath doing his best to simulate normal relationships and emotions? Or is it more a case of deep trauma and denial warring with his feelings for friends and family? Or did he start out as the former and is now slowly turning into the latter?
        • Or is he just so good at pretending to be human that he's begun to fool himself?
      • Another question. Harry? Cop who turned a budding serial killer into a force for good, or heartless bastard who ignored the psychological needs of a scarred boy?
    • Firefly: Jayne is suspected of Obfuscating Stupidity - and Obfuscating Disloyalty. It's posited on the WMG that he is completely loyal to Mal, and there is evidence that he only betrayed the Tams because he considered them a threat rather than crew.
      • The fandom is also divided over whether Gabriel and Regen Tam are evil parents-from-hell who knowingly sent their daughter to be Mind Raped at the Academy and then disowned their son when he objected, well-intentioned idiots who did what they thought was best for their daughter and were truly ignorant of the consequences, or one of each. In fanfics that take the third option, Gabriel is usually the evil one, and Regan the oblivious one.
      • River is almost nothing but Alternate Character Interpretation. How much of her actions are taken up by her madness, post-traumatic stress, Mind Rape mental trauma, and her psychic powers? How does she perceive the world around her? How do her Psychic Powers even work?
        • There are also questions and interpretations relating to her murdering her counselor/interrogator in The R. Tam Sessions. Was she doing it because she had been ordered to do so? Was she doing it because she was insane? Or was she lashing out at her torturers in the only way she could?
      • After reading an article about Kaylee on "The Hathor Legacy" and noticing that everyone reflexively leaped to Kaylee's defense upon someone saying that she sympathized more with Simon—and nearly all of Kaylee's defenders said that "Sure, Simon's under a lot of stress, but that doesn't mean he has to be so THOUGHTLESS when he talks to her!"—one wonders if Kaylee's the messiah that everyone treats her as, or a sweet but naive girl that desperately needs to realize—horror of horrors—that Simon doesn't always think before he talks.
        • It's very possible that Kaylee might not be as innocent as she seems, apart from being far more experienced than might be thought at first. In fact, it's possible she has a very dark streak. In an unfilmed script called "Dead or Alive," Kaylee actually indicates either that someone is hunting her down for something she's done, or that she's entirely capable of taking bloodied revenge if she ever had to.
    • On the show Special Unit 2, it's specifically said that the Links are the predecessors to mankind; in other words, human. Considering how badly they're treated by the human government—they're murdered, put down, beaten, insulted, and tortured—it's easy to imagine that SU2 is less a story about human cops fighting monsters than about humanoid lifeforms trying to lash out at an unjust system while racist humans kill them for having the nerve to be born anything other than Homo sapiens sapiens. Oh sure, some Links are genuinely dangerous...but even then, some could be merely striking back against an oppressive system. Considering how the humans treat the gnome (calling him scum, insulting him constantly, threatening him if he doesn't help), a part of the audience doesn't blame them!
      • The gnome was doing community service for liquor store robberies.
    • NCIS: Is Gibbs a man who's had no luck in relationships since the deaths of his wife and daughter or who's ruined them due to his inability to move on?
      • He ruins them because he never commits to the relationship. This is backed by the fact whenever he is asked about something in his past, he refuses to talk about it.
        • In regards to above, is Gibb's team the family he never got to have (his subordinates as his "kids" and Ducky as a surrogate father-figure) or a crutch he uses to keep from moving on with his life? In his free-time he keeps making those damn boats and that's it. Sure, they're Nakama but they can't be around Gibbs all the time.
    • Neil Flynn, the actor playing the Almighty Janitor of Scrubs has said:

    "I think it's possible that he doesn't hate J.D.. Maybe J.D. is as close to a friend as he has. For all we know, he just has poor social skills. I think that the Janitor constantly misreads J.D.'s motives and assumes he's a young punk."

      • Acknowledged in-show when the Janitor, having reached a temporary truce with JD, sarcastically suggests, or so it appears, that they "go to a baseball game and share a big tub of popcorn". As JD turns away in disgust, the Janitor begins to proffer two tickets before muttering, "That's the last time I reach out to someone."
      • The personality changes of Jordan's sister, Danni, happened after the death of her brother Ben. It's possible that she's just acting out to deal with her grief.
      • One episode is actually built on alternate character interpretation. JD is trying to write a speech honoring Dr. Kelso, but throughout the episode sees no evidence that he's anything other than an amoral Jerkass who shirks responsibility whenever possible. JD never reads the speech, but suggests that Kelso's responsibility as Chief of Medicine requires him to detach himself emotionally to benefit the greatest number of people, accompanied by a shot of Kelso leaving the hospital and exhaling in relief, rather than cheering the end of his duty for the day. Other episodes follow up on this - one is told from Kelso's perspective as he tries to end a harsh streak of infighting between his employees by becoming their common enemy. And after he retires and just stops by to sit in the coffee shop, there's no antagonism left to be seen.
      • When Cox takes over Kelso's job as Chief of Medicine, we learn that Kelso himself recommended Cox to the hospital board. This suggests that as far back as the first season, and probably before, that Kelso had been grooming Cox to take his place for years, which explains why Kelso let Cox get away with so many things and nearly always explained his decisions to Cox.
    • The Systems Commonwealth in Andromeda: beneficent, Federation-esqe near-utopian, intergalactic civilization? Or bungling, incompetent, bloated, brutal, elitist and imperialistic civilization headed by a bunch of full-of-themselves jackasses who viewed the non-Vedrans as cannon fodder and abandoned the galaxies when they were needed the most, and whom the galaxies are better off without? (Inspired by The Cynic's Corner.)
      • The titular ship itself flings nova bombs everywhere - even after the original stock was mostly depleted on purpose just so that they would not carry them. Nova bombs are so controversial that Dylan Hunt would not even discuss Machine Shop Five in front of his own crew. Nova bombs were used on both Commonwealth and Magog worlds alike, to little if any practical purpose. Beka is supposedly addicted to Flash. Maybe someone else on the crew is addicted to Voltarium. Dylan Hunt was so high on it, he'd even started mistreating Trance. After all that firepower, they still have an epic firepower-measuring contest against the Magog - whose spies are too inept to play dumb for one simple chemistry question. Also, the Magog Worldship, judging from its design, was designed by a computer programmer and small-scale engineer disguised as a shipwright. For example, the component worlds are joined together with trusses, leaving no provision whatsoever for the planets to rotate in such a way as to create a day-night cycle. There is in fact some sort of star or star-like reactor in the center, but the same part of the planets always faces it, and the same part always faces away. Also, the trusses are quite thin relative to the planets, raising the question of how exactly the trusses are supposed to be strong enough to stop the entire ship from just collapsing in on its own gravity. The question of how, assuming the trusses are strong enough, the planets don't just break up, fall off of the trusses and fall off is similarly unanswered. Had what passed for the ship designer used even the most basic Bishop ring-style design, then the ship would have been far more sound in what passes for peace for the Magog, and depending on the way Nova bombs work, it would have been a lot more survivable in that case, also. How the worldship was able to get through the Commonwealth attack merely crippled instead of completely destroyed - well I don't know exactly, but it seems unlikely to be from sound ship design principles. Clearly, Kroton has some proficiency, but when it comes to mega-scale engineering and ship design, he's clearly out of his depth, but then again so is everyone in the franchise, and so are the writers. For example, if they had proper ship designs, then there would be some serious radiators or at least flash coolers. You would be able tell when the ship was doing something, because the radiators would light up usually in infrared, but considering some of the things the ships can do, like getting up to 50 percent speed of light, maybe the radiators would have glowed white hot. There was clearly some sort of effort to make the show hard-sf, but then again, Viewers are Morons and can't tell the difference. If it is that difficult to fight against an enemy that inept, then both sides must be inept. The Systems Commonwealth seems really inept from here.
    • Home Improvement Brad, Mark, and Randy: are the Three Faces of Eve. (Randy is the Maiden, Mark is the Mother, Brad is the Crone.
    • Victorious: Is Tori sweet, innocent and just trying to be normal without conflict? Or is she a bitchy and unsympathetic Jerk Sue who rivals the likes of Megan Parker, and needs to be taught a lesson? No episode asks this question better than "Prom Wrecker", where Tori's prom renders Jade unable to perform her art project, and when confronted, Tori shows no signs of caring or remorse, while at the end Jade (who tries to destroy the prom as revenge for such) is the only character to receive punishment. This caused an outrage among Tori haters and a few Tori fans themselves.
    • From Angel, there is Jasmine. Is she good or evil? Just look at the Just Bugs Me section for her.
      • Wesley: Romantic, intelligent guy who's made some questionable decisions, or Too Dumb to Live obsessive stalker?
        • Given that Wesley's response to the girl he wants instead choosing to have a relationship with his best friend is simply to politely absent himself from the equation, do nothing to disrupt their situation, and when their relationship failed entirely on its own to still not attempt to get with the young woman in question for almost a year afterwards -- indeed, to do absolutely nothing beyond polite friendship until she made it unambiguously clear to Wesley that she was now interested -- he clearly cannot be accused of 'obsessive stalking', regardless of what other decisions of his are questionable.
      • Connor: Ax Crazy with a serious case of Oedipus Rex, or unable to overcome his distrust from being trained to hate Angel from infancy and clinging to the only person in his life who's nice to him?
      • Holtz: Obsessed manipulative villain willing to drag everyone down with him or a noble man driven to violence by Angelus? Despite being a villain, Holtz is often portrayed as having perfectly valid points that not even Angel can argue with. What happened to him was heinous and unforgivable. Angel knows that better than anyone. His concern often seems to be with innocents and he never deceives his followers about his intentions. He doesn't use Violence unless he has to, and he is well aware of the shades of grey involved in what he is doing.
        • Holtz is an exceptionally useful example of the difference between an antagonist and a villain, precisely because he made the transition from one to the other on-screen. For as long as Holtz is merely trying to avenge himself against Angel for the hideous crimes Angelus has committed against him he is at worst misguided in that he's assigning liability to souled-Angel for his soulless' counterpart's actions, a gray area distinction that everyone else in the franchise - including Angel himself - has struggled with at one point. Clearly no one questions the monstrousness of Angelus' actions against him or fails to agree that he has entirely understandable reasons to seek vengeance. However, the instant Holtz' vengeance takes the form of abducting Angel's innocent child in order to raise him as a weapon to kill his own father with Holtz crosses the line to villain - not least because that's exactly the same thing Angelus did to him in the first place, by turning Holtz' own daughter.
    • Helen Cutter from Primeval: Complete Monster, incredible Jerkass and Nietzsche Wannabe, or Well-Intentioned Extremist who went mad from the revelation that humanity wipes itself out and is caught in a nihilist Heroic BSOD?
    • Bree from Desperate Housewives: two-dimensional right-wing Christian Pleasantville Stepford wife? Or tragic Martha Stewart who lies even to herself so much that appearances are ALL she has? (Oh, and guns! She likes guns, too.) This is particularly interesting since she's the most two-dimensional character on the show, bordering on Strawman Political (including the guns), and yet she's the character who was based on a real person, the creator's mother.
    • It has been suggested (with varying degrees of seriousness) that Jessica Fletcher, the Amateur Sleuth from Murder, She Wrote, is a clever serial killer who kills people to further her writing career, hides behind the persona of a harmless elderly lady, and manages to cover up her crimes by somehow manipulating other people into confessing to them.
      • Murder She Did?
      • The German dub is titled "Mord ist ihr Hobby", which would translate back to "her hobby is murder".
    • Wizards of Waverly Place‍'‍s Alex Russo: Noble Demon or Jerk with a Heart of Gold?
      • On the other side of the Russo sibling dynamic, Justin. Socially awkward teacher's pet, or is he more spiteful and Anti-Villain then his sister? And this is without counting Alex's Logo.
    • In Goodnight Sweetheart, is Gary Sparrow a genuinely nice guy trying to do the right thing by two women, or he is a heartless jerk having his cake and eating it and manipulating his best friend for his own goals? A Dream Sequence episode shows that Gary seemed to be aware of the latter.
    • Is Maxwell Smart a bungling idiot who gets by entirely by luck, or is he secretly a highly-competent (and somewhat sociopathic) superspy who only acts like an idiot because he enjoys destroying expensive property and annoying the Chief? With his surprising success rate, he knows full-well that CONTROL is never going to fire him.
      • Depends which Max. Don Adams' version is almost certainly a lucky Cloudcuckoolander. Steve Carrell's is an unlucky Genius Ditz.
      • The same question could be asked about Inspector Clouseau.
    • The surprisingly large LazyTown fandom is known for its interpretations of character backstories. Fanfiction writers often give Robbie Rotten a tragic past. A few diehards have created interpretations of the mythical "Number Nine", mentioned only in one episode. A lot of fan theories revolve around Nine being Sportacus' father.
      • Another story interpretation is in this thread; Robbie Rotten is a Tragic Hero, and the series actually takes place After the End so his goal to keep the kids inside is actually to protect them from radiation.
    • There are two competing alternate theories about Columbo (other than Obfuscating Stupidity). One is that he's a Genius Ditz. The other is that he isn't smart at all. He himself claims in one episode that the main reason he's successful is that he's a professional with years of experience in hunting murderers, while most of the murderers he captures are amateurs who are doing it for the first time and thus making rookie mistakes.
      • Either that, or (as he freely admits) Mrs Columbo solves all the crimes when they talk about it over dinner (which he probably cooks, given that he's shown quite a proficiency and interest in cooking on a number of occasions). Assuming she exists (Falk himself once claimed that Mrs Columbo is Columbo's way of being nice to the criminals with the added get out clause should someone claim conflict of interests that "it's not me, it's my wife who likes them").
      • Is Columbo a Manipulative Bastard? He's overly nice to people in a bloodhound sort of way; he convinces people that he's just a country bumpkin more interested in whatever 'hat' the villain wears than solving the crime, only to reveal in the end a cold detachment and clinical mind that the bumpkin persona allowed free reign. He plays with the feelings of the criminals, making them like him (more often than not) or at least pity him and drop their guard, or he pushes them subtly and continuously to the point where they break.
        • The answers to some of these questions depend on what you consider Canon. Core canon is the NBC series, natch. But if you accept the ABC Columbo movies as canon, then Obfuscating Stupidity and Manipulative Bastard}} are both Canon (since we get to see glimpses of them).
        • Peter Falk gives his take in his memoirs "Just One More Thing". In it he says Columbo is absent minded, but that's because he's concentrating all his thoughts on cases he hasn't solved.
    • Interpretation for Gilmore Girls: Lorelai and Rory are self-absorbed and are given a lot of leeway by almost everyone they know and almost the whole town of Stars Hollow. The only exceptions seem to be Lorelai's parents and Jess (of all people). Lorelai styled herself as a young and cool mom, but she gave bad parenting advice, and she came off to some as extremely immature and judgmental. Luke and the whole town are oblivious to this. Dean gave off emotionally abusive vibes in his scenes with Rory, especially considering that he cheated on his wife with her. The only people who got positive character development were Paris and Jess.
      • It's not at all hard to flip the POV and see Emily Gilmore's view of matters. It would take only a very slight adjustment of the storyline to make Emily the voice of sanity, and someone Rory should model herself after rather than her mother.
    • Patrick Jane in The Mentalist: is he a good guy with a tragic past, or is his charming persona another act as he plots the murder of Red John? Could he be Red John himself?
      • The second is confirmed in the episode "His Red Right Hand" when a dying Bosco asks Jane to promise to kill Red Jack and not simply arrest him; Jane tells him that was always the plan. The third is disproven in assorted episodes (including the mentioned one) where Red John is seen doing or known to have done something when Jane isn't physically present, and/or when Jane confronts people who do know who Red John is, or at least what he looks like.
        • Those aren't mutually exclusive.
          • Not mutually exclusive? What is he? Jumper raised up to eleven? Insane Troll Logic!!!!!
            • I think he means that its not mutually exclusive that Patrick Jane could be a charming man who genuinely likes the people he works with and who is willing to use that charm to manipulate them as he works towards his goal of revenge-murdering Red John. And it's not. The best lies are based on a kernel of truth.
      • The Season Two finale confirms the third as false, as Red John and Jane appeared in a scene together. Granted, we didn't actually SEE Red John, but the actions he took confirm his identity.
      • Season Six finally reveals the identity of Red John -- Sheriff Thomas McCallister of Napa County.
    • Red Dwarf has a few. One presented in the show itself is whether Rimmer was acting as he did to genuinely fulfill Holly's brief (that is, keep Lister sane); in that case, when he was offered the chance to become Ace, he let his true personality show. Another, outside the show, is whether the Alternate Universe presented in the episode "Back to Reality" is the "true" one, and they really were playing a total immersion video game. Among fans who believe that those events were true, that was where the series Jumped the Shark.
    • Dollhouse has a couple of much-debated interpretations:
      • Bennett: Vicious, cruel, cold-blooded torturer who plays with Dolls like toys, and is bent on hurting Caroline? Or tragic, damaged, and mentally-scarred genius who was betrayed by someone she deeply cared about and possibly loved? Or both?
      • Although Topher is usually considered an ur-Woobie, he's the series's most morally culpable character in some interpretations, bordering on monstrous (though hardly completely so). Of all the Dollhouse employees, runs the argument, only Topher has the intellect and imagination to understand the technology's full philosophical implications—and he whole-heartedly embraces them. Even at the end, his brokenness and remorse are wholly based on the technology's this-worldly unexpected consequences.
    • Sam Puckett of iCarly displays classic signs of sociopathy such as a lack of empathy and guilt, a parasitic lifestyle (leeching money off Carly and the gang), impulsiveness, poor behaviour control (always beating Freddy and everyone else), being manipulative (any time she makes up a plan), being emotionally shallow, a poster child of juvenile delinquency, superficial charm, need for stimulation (the eagerness of her wanting to hurt someone or make them suffer) as a way to relieve boredom. Also Carly could know this already and willing to exploit it as she rarely has qualms about Sam beating Freddie mercilessly on any occasion and the fact that in "ILookalikes" she doesn't bother letting Spencer get beat up and go against his wishes a lot of the time. She could be a two-faced bitch that just manipulates people to get the highest ratings on the internet for her show in a smaller case of sociopathy.
    • Big Time Rush: Is Gustavo Rocque a flat out Jerkass who doesn't give a flying fuck about the boys, thinks they can't do anything right and always thinks what he does is best? Or is he a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who wants to make things better for them and improve them?
    • Blair, Serena and Chuck on Gossip Girl. Fans disagree wildly on which girl is mature, empathic and "just in a bad place right now", and which one is an immature, selfish bitch. And as for Chuck... Misunderstood, mistreated good guy and just the best boyfriend ever, or sociopathic, deranged attempted rapist? Depends on who you ask.
      • Chuck's attempted rape of the 14(15?) year old wasn't the first time he's committed such an act. If anything, the rape was supposed to be her 'initiation' to the High Schools 'Society' which many of the popular girls have gone through, as in, the complete ordeal without the benefit of being rescued.
        • Yea on the first bit, nay on the second. Blair was the so-called "Queen B" of their school, and she was a virgin until she was 17 incidentally, to the Chuck in question
    • Meredith on Grey's Anatomy. Strong feministic character, or selfish, unfeeling bitch?
    • Dave Chappelle's sketch on Sesame Street points out some particulary hilarious ACIs on its various characters that you probably realize when you grow up. For example, Cookie Monster has drug-laced cookies, apparently.
    • The first Blackadder is either a power-hungry cowardly usurper or a simple nobleman that wants respect from his father
    • In Royal Pains, is the brother Evan an annoying load, or a competant accountant and the only thing keeping his passive doctor brother from starving to death?
    • An unofficial fanguide to The X-Files argues that Mulder and Scully don't actually represent faith versus logic, they represent subjective reality versus objective reality. Scully is the one who really believes that "the truth is out there," and that the logical explanation remains true even if everyone casts it aside for fantasy. (She's just unfortunate enough to be in a setting where there may not be an objective reality.) Mulder, meanwhile, believes that whatever he thinks is the truth must necessarily be the truth. He gets an idea regarding aliens or monsters, and he holds onto it no matter what, baffled that nobody else agrees with him when he's "obviously" right.
      • This one actually goes a long way towards explaining Mulder and Scully's tendency to switch believer-skeptic roles when confronted with cases that have a religious basis (unless we just assume that Mulder's skepticism towards Christianity is a combination of being Ambiguously Jewish and having a Dead Little Sister). One omniscient creator god actually fits much better into Scully's objective reality than it does to Mulder's subjective, anything-weird-goes reality. IIRC, that unofficial fanguide came out long before Agent Doggett showed up, but you could view him as a Subjective Skeptic. Unlike Scully's objective, science-based skepticism, his skepticism is based largely on his personal view of the world combined with his desperate need to believe that he did all he could to save his kidnapped son and calling in psychics wouldn't have helped save his boy's life./ If Doggett's skepticism came across at times as more obnoxious and pig-headed than Scully's, that's because it had a deeper personal base. Unfortunately, the writers didn't take pains to establish Reyes as an objectivist believer, which might really have redeemed the character...
    • The gang of Eric, Donna, Hyde, Jackie, Michael and Fez of That '70s Show ; Morons who make bad decisions or just people who grew up in crappy families and neglectful/abusive parents and did their best to do the right thing?
      • Hyde, Jackie, & Donna: Neglectful parents. Michael & Eric: Morons. Fez: Fish Out of Water who's been trained in US culture by the aforementioned idiots and neglectful-parent-havers.
      • In Eric's case though, Red sure isn't the greatest father, how would you take being called dumbass, overbearing and coddling mother and have a whore of a sister that's favored by your father everyday of your life?
      • One interpretation of Red is that he really cares about Eric, but he's unhappy with his own mediocre life and doesn't want Eric to turn out the way he did. When Eric wanted to marry Donna, Red kept interfering and making his life miserable. When Eric stood up to him, Red told him that it was a test, to see if Eric had the guts to stand on his own.
    • The family on Malcolm in the Middle. Lois is either emotionally distant—often trying to connect with her kids and then reverting to chaos because she's unable to—and strict due to her own tough upbringing, but a loving mother who works hard and tries her best; or horribly abusive and manipulative. The sons are either virtually irredeemable jerks who bring her wrath on themselves or actually pretty good kids who act out in good part because that's the only way they can get a consistent reaction from their mom, and additionally are so emotionally abused/neglected/manipulated by her that they're lucky they're only as screwed up as they are. Hal may be Obfuscating Stupidity because it's easier to let his wife handle things, had a good deal of his spine ripped out by Lois, simply matured from rebellious teen to meeker father on his own, or a mixture of the three.
      • A flashback episode revealed that Hal used to be like Lois and Lois a passive enabler who became the sort of evil bitch monster after her passive parenting of Francis led to baby Francis almost setting himself on fire and her proclaiming that she was going to be a complete cunt towards him and any future children, "for their own good" as far as protecting them from themselves.
        • Also, several episodes have painted Hal have as having a serious selfish streak (like his skipping work on Fridays for over a decade to go do fun things without the family ruining his good time).
      • The episode where Reese gets his own apartment really points to the latter. When he lives on his own he completely turns around, other than mishandling his money (which had nothing to do with his good school performance) and given his nonchalant attitude about the subject with his parent, it seems to be their fault that they neglected to teach him anything about money management in the first place.
    • Glee has a lot of this due to having a huge fanbase that can either over-identify with characters or completely hate them and there's enough leather pants for everyone.
      • To be fair, the creators seem to purposely encourage the fans to have competing interpretations of the characters. It's just part of the fun of the show.
      • Glee: Is Brittany really just stupid, or is she also delusional? Among other signs, she believes her cat has been reading her diary. With the episode 'Night of Neglect', a common interpretation is that she's a Genius Ditz mixed with a Cloudcuckoolander.
      • Is Quinn a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, or the Alpha Bitch, or The Chessmaster, or even a Smug Snake or Manipulative Bastard?
      • Also, could the same be said for Santana and (to a lesser extent) Rachel?
      • For the relationship of Satanna and Brittney, is Satanna an abusive partner in the making? She seems eager to emotionally sway her to her side of an arguement no matter what said conflict is, and makes her believe she can do no wrong and makes sure she still remains loyal to her.
    • The cast of Two and A Half Men. On the page it has Alan's buttmonkey status debated but here's some more; Chealsea: Creator's Pet of the show because she's kind of a bitch but everyone loves her or someone who's trying to change to change Charlie's attitude towards Alan but really doesn't have a clue how damged they are? Is Jake really Too Dumb to Live or just an expert of Obfuscating Stupidity? Is Judith a bitch or is she just making up for all the crap Charlie and Alan have given her before her Flanderization kicked in?
    • The characters on Gilligan's Island are the manifestation of the Seven Deadly Sins. Supposedly, creator Sherwood Schwartz confirmed this ACI. Generally: Lust = Ginger, Greed = Mr Howell, Sloth = Mrs Howell, Pride = Professor, Envy = Maryann, Wrath = Skipper, and Gluttony = Gilligan, though sometimes Skipper is both Wrath and Sloth or Mrs. Howell is Sloth and Gluttony, leaving Gilligan as the red-clad Satan whose Obfuscating Clumsiness keeps them imprisoned on the island!
    • Veronica Mars is schizophrenic. Think about it: in "Kanes and Abel's," she, while fully awake and aware, sees and has an extended conversation with the long-dead Lilly Kane. Seeing things and hearing voices is practically the definition of schizophrenia. And she has at least some of the symptoms of paranoia. Plus, she is in her late teens; that is generally the earliest schizophrenia manifests. Also, consider that schizophrenia can often be an inherited condition, and that her mother was an alcoholic. Maybe Lianne Mars was self-medicating for her own symptoms. Lastly, consider what Aaron Echolls says in the season one finale when he has Veronica trapped in the fridge: he goes on this whole rant about Joan of Arc and how the voices she heard were really symptoms of schizophrenia. Why would that occur to him? What if Veronica is a highly organized, high-functioning schizophrenic?
      • Alternatively, Veronica a full-on Alpha Bitch who's fall from grace only served to give her an excuse to hone her bitchery to new heights of life ruining and that once she won back the few people who's opinion of her actually mattered (IE Logan and Duncan), she was willing to return to her life as one of the popular crowd. Only her morality pet Wallace being framed for drug abuse caused her to return to fighting evil and then, once she got into college, Veronica still wormed her way into all of the right social circles and crusading against the little guy.
      • Sheriff Don Lamb: Is He an insufferable Small Name, Big Ego type with delusions of grandeur or simply a good cop who has been made cynical and uncaring? It's quite clear that Neptune lets many of its richer residents get away with crimes up to and including Murder and the Sheriff's department is unable to do anything about it (When He tried, Keith was ousted from his job). In the first episode, He is coldly dismissive of Veronica's rape claim but at that time Veronica was still kind of a part of the popular scene and We see later that Lamb had good reason to think She was crying wolf. Which is to say nothing of Lamb's backstory: Abusive parents and seeing his boss and friend fired for trying to do his job. He does do the right thing when He can (Letting Veronica and Duncan go when He saw the abuse in the Manning household) and given Veronica's jerkass tendencies and deliberate flouting of the law, it's easy to see his dislike of her. Under further examination, He comes across more as the Knight in Sour Armor rather than the monster We are clearly supposed to see him as.
    • We're supposed to see the main character of The Big C as an uptight woman who becomes liberated by her impending death by incurable cancer; unfortunately quite a few critics see her as a selfish woman who cares so little about her family (Man Child husband and Jerkass teen son; she doesn't have any friends) that she doesn't bother to explain her abrupt change in character. Everyone else is justified in thinking she's just an incredibly rude person.
    • This "Los Angeles Times" article makes a case for Don Draper actually being Satan, "lowering everyone's standards a little at a time".
    • Peter Wingfield played Methos, the world's oldest Immortal on the Highlander TV show. In an interview given shortly before the end of the series' run, he commented that it would make sense if it were to be revealed that every single thing his character had ever done on the show had been a manipulation to get Duncan MacLeod into a position where he could kill him. Wingfield added that he didn't personally believe this to be the case, but noted that it would fit perfectly with what we know of the character, and that he'd have no problem playing such a scene if the writers decided to go that route. In a seperate interview, one of the staff writers claims that the character of Methos was not originally intended to be quite so dark, that Wingfield played the character as having his own agenda, and the writers decided to run with it.
    • There are good arguments that both Colonel Klink and Sgt Schultz of Hogan's Heroes are not as quite as idiotic as they appear. This is especially true for Schultz, who clearly is well aware of some of the activities Hogan's crew is carrying out and actively assists them in some cases.
    • Howling Mad Murdock of The A-Team: Genuinely crazy to the point of institutionalization, or a talented, eccentric actor with a guaranteed meal ticket? Interestingly enough, the film portrays him as perfectly sane during the trial, and the next time we see him, it's in a mental institution. So he was deemed fit to stand trail, but is suddenly unfit during sentencing? Curious.
    • Blake's 7: Dear God...everyone is up for debate. Is Servalan a Complete Monster, or just attempting to keep the only stable government for billions of citizens intact, morality be damned? Is Blake actually fighting for justice, or is he an Omnicidal Maniac who doesn't give a damn who gets hurt as long as the Federation burns? Is Avon even sane by Season 4? And who betrayed who in the Bolivian Army Ending - did Blake betray Avon, did Avon betray Blake, or did they betray each other? Dayna - Action Girl or Faux Action Girl? Is Villa truly a stupid coward or Dangerously Genre Savvy and playing dumb in order to keep out of Blake and Avon's suicidal plans?
    • True Blood- For a supposedly reformed Friendly Neighbourhood Vampire, Bill sure does kill a lot of people he doesn't necessarily have to, but he's pretty easy to interpret opposed to Sookie. For one, why does somebody that can fight off two hardened criminals with a metal chain need to be rescued so much? Why does she throw herself into so many situations where she needs to be rescued? Most of the time, when Bill ( or Sam, in the first series) come to her aid, does she need it , or is she obfuscating vulnerability? Why did she tell Bill about her paedophile uncle after she knew he'd already killed two people that had threatened her ( the Rattraes)? Did she tell him because she secretly wanted revenge, because she genuinely believed he wouldn't act and it would build trust between them, or because she wasn't sure and wanted to see his reaction? Why did she tell the Vampires that visited Bill's house that the man they were drinking was carrying a vampire disease. She must have known exactly what they would do to him when they found out. She carelessly outed telepathic barhop at the vampire hotel even though she must have known at that point that doing this to an unprotected human with an ability that was useful to the vampires, would most likely be enslaved, manipulated into doing unethical things and risk death. She's not the innocent Southern Belle she imagines herself to be, and that the writers try to present her as.
      • Even in her personal relationships, there's a real question about how innocent and sweet she really is. For example, her treatment of Sam is frequently manipulative and mean. Whether you choose to view Sam as a Dogged Nice Guy ( pun unintended) - or just as a boss with a tendency to sexually harrass his female employees - he genuinely cares about Sookie and tries to act in her best interests. In turn, she continually manipulates his romantic feelings in order to achieve a variety of ends: to make Bill jealous,to have a sounding board for her own problems (without reciprocating by being interested in him), to get time off work for her vampire-based escapades and as a free body guard. When he cofesses his deepest and most painful secret to her - which he had never told anybody before as its discovery had resulted in familial abandonment- she loses it , because he didn't tell her sooner. It wasn't that she needed to know for any reason, just that she was curious and bored, and felt like she was entitled to the information.
    • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: are Bulk and Skull the typical bumbling "bad guys" you see in kiddie shows and the result of Dawson Casting... or high school students who had to repeat every year multiple times and behave like that because they were harassed by everyone including the Power Rangers?
    • Morgana from Merlin also qualifies: She could easily be seen as a) an innocent girl who was raised by a sociopath, was taught her to hate herself for who she is from an early age, was betrayed by one of her closest friends and denied the readily available help she needed to get better by everyone around her or b) an evil, manipulative bitch whose inevitable spiral happened the first chance she had to show her true colors.
    • These two nurses from Holby City. One blonde, the other Indian/Portuguese/unknown - are they Dumb Blonde and Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Hospital Hottie or Deadpan Snarker?
    • Abed on Community; a Lovable Nerd Woobie who just has problems reading peoples emotions, or Manipulative Bastard who’s main goal is purposely influencing people around him so they get into all kinds of trouble resembling his favourite movies?
      • Pierce. The show itself goes back and forth on whether he is inherently and fundamentally an unlikeable Jerkass or whether he's just a lonely but socially inept old man who just wants to have friends but doesn't know how to acquire or keep them and who ends up lashing out because people exclude him, or something in between; a running theme is Jeff and Annie debating this very problem, with Jeff taking the former side and Annie taking the latter side. It's worth noting that while Annie is often shown to be overly naive and idealistic at times, Jeff himself has a consistent problem with not treating his friends as well as he should, and can be especially and deliberately cruel to Pierce. It does, however, nevertheless point out that regardless of whether it's one, the other or both, many of Pierce's problems nevertheless remain his own damn fault, and that whichever one is true he still can go way too far with being a jerk (see "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" and "Intermediate Documentary Making" for examples).
    • Season 4 of Hannah Montana finds Miley Stewart, now an 18-year-old high school graduate going through personal changes, ruminating on her future, choosing to stabilize her offstage life by abandoning the carefully controlled, glittery, perfect-perfect "Hannah Montana" pop star persona that made her famous since she was a small child, and revealing herself as a human, flawed, less glamorous teenage girl. She is unfairly scrutinized and harassed by the press, her image is somewhat damaged, she finds she cannot lead an ordinary life or escape from the pressure or the paparazzi, many of her longtime fans and their parents are disappointed in her, and she has to learn to perform and conduct herself in this new incarnation. Her fanbase is reluctant to accept her new artistic and personal directions, though Miley decides she alone must go in a direction she feels happiest in regardless of the backlash, and ultimately, she takes time off to begin the next chapter in her life away from the spotlight and her "Hannah" past. Perhaps a metaphor for Miley Cyrus' own career?
    • From Big Brother, Brendon is either a naive fool who fell in love with a bad girl (rachel) or a Woobie because he is going to be stuck dealing with Rachel, an uber diva, for the rest of his life.
    • Some Frasier fans suspect that Daphne might have been secretly in love with Niles as long he was secretly in love with her, but repressed and concealed her own attraction better than he did. Certain moments, such as the time she ill-conceivedly sort-of-tried to seduce him him in "Daphne Hates Sherry", her behavior towards him in several episodes such as "First Date" and "A Midwinter's Night Dream", and her suspiciously sincere words and actions in "Moon Dance" make it difficult to be sure that her feelings for him were really as innocent as everyone assumed.
    • Is Sherlock really, as he himself claims, a sociopath who finds solving crimes a pleasant diversion from boredom, or does he genuinely care about certain people and simply put up a Jerkass Facade out of force of habit?
      • Later episodes - "The Reichenbach Fall" in particular - seem to hint at the latter, or that he has/is changing because of John.
      • What about John? Is he really the meek Badass Normal he presents himself as, or is he a man Born in the Wrong Century who hangs around Sherlock out of a psychological need to fight for something or someone? Mycroft pointed out that he is only calm when in a dangerous situation and he didn't hesitate to shoot through two windows to murder an old man to protect Sherlock.
      • Lord knows the sexuality and romanticism of both characters both are constantly called into question at least once an episode. Most prominent examples are: for John, in "A Scandal in Belgravia" when he tells Irene "I'm not actually gay" and she responds "Well I am, and look at us both" in terms of their feelings for Sherlock; and for Sherlock, when Molly points out to Sherlock "you look sad when you think he (John) can't see you" and Sherlock's demand that John watch as he throws himself off a building, for John's protection. While the most prevalent assumption is that Sherlock is asexual, some, especially with the awareness of sexuality being different from romanticism, suggest he is Watson-romantic, with John being either hetero- or bi-sexual Sherlock-romantic. The things Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, and Martin Freeman say online and in interviews really doesn't help fan speculation much, nor do any of the characters. Or any of the writing. Or the music.
    • Elena in The Vampire Diaries has been interpreted as incredibly self-absorbed and an awful friend, despite her "goodness" supposedly being her weakness. Much of this stems from the way she deliberately associates with and defends Damon, despite him being an unrepentant mass murderer and rapist and him having enslaved, tried to kill, or actually killed almost everyone she's supposed to care about for reasons that include "she's a nuisance" and "I'm in a bad mood and he's annoying me".
    • Some of this took place behind the scenes of Seinfeld:
    • The documentary style TV shows like The Office have omnificent camera men. Are the camera men Eldritch Abominations that pry on another universe and influence that world? Or are they people who have no attachment for any of the characters where they could have influence on them? Like any Idiot Plot or horrible consequence they could have stopped. And they won't. Or they simply just not want to.
      • One wonders why few people in the shows ever seem to have actually watch the documentaries which are being made. The Office US has 8 seasons and 175 episodes as of May 2012.
    • The West Wing: President Bartlett was a mediocre president
    • A large contingent of fans of The Prisoner who believe that when Number Six asks, "Who is Number One", the New Number Two gives a straight and honest answer when he responds, "You are, Number Six." If true, this would make it the Mind Screw to end all Mind Screws.
      • Its worth noting that he lives at "No. 1" in the Village.
      • Another is that they know exactly why he resigned, but they want him to tell them. Which would mean that the only person really keeping Number Six in the Village was himself.
    • Everybody Loves Raymond: Is Ray just a bumbling doofus, or does he actually have Asperger's Syndrome? Let's go over some of Ray's most notorious characteristics:
      • He often does things other people perceive mostly as rude and inconsiderate and seems genuinely oblivious to it. Yet he is also always the peacemaker, indicating that he never intends to hurt others.
      • He frequently betrays Debra and says mean things about her yet when she gets mad and storms off he feels guilty about it, indicating that he is unaware of how bad his actions are until someone points it out to him.
      • He is immature, lazy, and hates it when other people pull him away from something he's doing. When he is interrupted in the middle of something and prompted to do something against his will, he gets angry or upset and whines. Real-life people with Aspergers tend to strongly dislike spontaneity.
      • He also has strong social difficulties insofar as he simply cannot deal with people. Whenever he tries to, he has the most simplistic method of doing it which never works with people and it often backfires on him.
      • He can't even get his kids to clean their room properly and when he tries to handle things with them, he invariably does a piss-poor job of it, yet he is clearly not stupid: if he's able to be a writer in any way, then he is obviously smart, and he seems to know how to settle situations when it comes to logical reasoning, but when it comes to dealing with people's emotions and knowing what to say, he is often utterly clueless.
      • He repeatedly throughout the show (and his actions seem to back this up) claims that he has trouble "reading" Debra, and there are clues that he has trouble reading people in general.
      • He doesn't seem to really "know" Debra at all.
      • He also never seems to know what Debra likes unless someone tells him.
      • He never likes doing things he doesn't want to, and seems to genuinely not understand that a person can be capable of doing things that aren't fun, such as the epsiode where he royally screws up the checkbook and Debra even says to him that, just like a child, he simply will not do something unless it is enjoyable.
      • The only reason Ray has never been diagnosed is because he was raised in a very traditional and conservative Italian household and because his wife would apparently rather nag him than see him get proper treatment.

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