Broken Ace/Playing With

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Basic Trope: The Ace turns out to have big problems.

  • Straight: Derek is a popular, handsome, charming fellow... But behind that winning smile hides a guy whose greatest fear is failing and losing the reputation he's strived so hard to achieve.
  • Exaggerated: Derek's the absolutely perfect guy -- but only because his Complete Monster parents beat into him the idea that the very second he makes even the slightest mistake, the whole world will scorn him and turn their backs in an instant.
  • Justified: Derek has a psychological compulsion to be the best at everything to the point of self-destruction.
  • Inverted:
    • Derek's a dim underachiever, but is the happiest and most innocent character in the show.
    • Derek is Brilliant but Lazy.
  • Subverted: Derek has big problems and fears, but he pushes his problems aside while he focus more on being The Ace, believing that as long as he tries his best, nothing is impossible and like any other human being, no one's perfect.
  • Double Subverted: ...yet his focus on putting his problems aside merely adds to the growing mental stress, hastening the collapse.
  • Parodied: Derek is really great at everything because of his many psychological problems: all of his myriad obsessions and quirks and sociopathic tendencies counteract and mix with each other in such as way that he effectively becomes The Ace.
  • Deconstructed: As it turns out, Derek is a fully capable and effective Hero in his own right, but due to the pressures of society's expectations of larger-than-life supermen -- not to mention their assumptions that he must have some hidden inadequacies, since everybody does -- he's over-thinking and overworking himself in the quest to become The Ace. Had he just striven for Heroism without trying to live up to the "role" society presented him, he could have excelled.
  • Reconstructed: Derek knows that his constant need to be the best and live up to high expectations will destroy him, but he pushes forward because his problems are bigger than him and You Can't Fight Fate.
  • Zig Zagged:
    • Derek confides in Sara that playing the ace is actually really stressful for him... only to turn around and secretly gloat about how that sob story left her completely wrapped around his little finger. However, it's later implied that he wasn't completely lying about the toll it takes...
    • And that he turned around and gloated to her to cover his tracks, because the thought that someone knows he's not perfect was eating him alive. Turning his moment of weakness into a Sarcastic Confession retroactively.
  • Averted:
    • Derek isn't presented as an Ace, or is completely mentally balanced.
    • Derek is talented enough to be The Ace, but ultimately his flaws keep him from becoming one; he averts the Broken Ace because his brokenness is inverse to how much of an Ace he is.
  • Enforced: "Well, Derek needs to have a flaw; otherwise how is Jason going to win his girl from him at the end?" "I know! Let's make him secretly a nutcase!"
  • Lampshaded: "Wow, Derek is so great at everything!" "Yea, he'll drive himself to a breakdown at that pace."
  • Invoked: Derek's parents intentionally mind-screw him while driving him to become The Ace.
  • Exploited: They do so so that whenever Derek decides to turn his back on them, they would be able to pull off a Hannibal Lecture as a defence.
  • Defied: As part of his training to become The Ace, Derek was provided with the best psychoanalysts and therapists money could buy.
  • Discussed: "In the end, any Ace is really just compensating for his own inadequacies."
  • Conversed: "Wow, the movie's hero's great! He can do anything!" "Just wait: he'll break down from the stress at any moment."
  • Played For Laughs: Derek's breaking point is finding a single loose thread on one of his expensive suits.
  • Played For Drama: Thanks to all the pressure to be perfect, Derek's sanity hangs by a thread, and those around him keep unknowingly mashing on his secret Berserk Buttons...

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