Informed Flaw

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
"When the FBI goes looking for Ecks, for example, they find him sitting morosely on a bar stool, drinking and smoking. That is of course always where sad former agents are found, but the strange thing is, after years of drinking, he is still in great shape, has all his karate moves, and goes directly into violent action without even a tiny tremor of the DTs."

Much like the Informed Ability, an Informed Flaw is a Fatal Flaw that simply doesn't have any effect on the plot or character. It can come up in one of two forms:

  1. The narrative tells us about a flaw, whether it be through a character, the narration, or some other source. Said flaw then doesn't materialize and nobody would have ever thought of it if the segment describing said flaw was removed.
  2. Alternatively, the flaw in question might be showcased as an Establishing Character Moment. After their first scene (where it will usually be pretty contrived and blunt), it will evaporate for the rest of the work. Think Compressed Vice, only compressed to a single scene and not given any natural resolution.

In either case, the defining part is the total abandonment of the flaw after its introduction, with it playing no role and thus having no importance. Often, it comes about because a character is decided to be too unrealistic, so they add in a token flaw or two to add some flavor. Other times, it's just to pad out some of the length. However, most of the time, it's a result of careless rewrites.

Infallible Babble ensures that it's never a case where the characters talking about his flaw are misinformed, or spiteful.

This is often seen as a Mary Sue trait, especially when it's a flaw that would actually be pretty awesome were it not for the consequences (e.g. substance abuse, nymphomania, etc.).

Clumsiness is by far the most popular of the informed flaws, since it can be showcased once (so that another character can heroically save them) and then doesn't affect the plot or actually detract from the character's personality or motivations for the rest of the narrative. Alternatively it can be used a few times for comedic effect but can also be ignored as the plot demands.

Disabilities, especially milder, inconsistent or not readily visible disabilities, very often turn into informed flaws. They are milked for Angst at various moments, without interfering with the character's ability to do the things the plot expects them to do.

A Sub-Trope of Show, Don't Tell, A Super-Trope of Hollywood Homely, Hollywood Pudgy and Gorgeous Gorgon. Related to Informed Ability, Informed Attribute, Suetiful All Along and Anti-Sue. Contrast with I Am Not Left-Handed, Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, and Obfuscating Stupidity.

Examples of Informed Flaw include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The 4Kids dub of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds gives Yusei a phobia of bugs for apparently no other reason than to add an element of fear to his episode 2 duel against an Insect duelist - despite the fact that his character shows no outward signs of being afraid of bugs at all.
  • In Sonic X, in a rather shabby attempt to make Chris Thorndyke likable, he often complains about being rich meaning he doesn't have any real friends, and his parents never being home. While at first this seems almost true, over the course of the show he is shown to have more human friends, more guardians, and his parents repeatedly manage to show up for special occasions. Being obscenely wealthy is certainly never played as a disadvantage.
  • In one of the episodes of Sailor Moon, Usagi lists a bunch of her faults, one of them is flat-chested. Have the writers actually seen any art of the show?!
    • Then there's a later episode where the Monster of the Week and Chibi-Usa both agree that she's fat. In reality, her proportions are more exaggeratedly thin than Barbie's even though she's constantly portrayed as a lazy Big Eater.
    • The topic of Usagi's weight actually comes up more than once in the show; apparently, Naoko Takeuchi originally intended Usagi to be slightly chubbier than the rest of the girls. Not that you can tell by the actual graphics. As for flat-chested-ness, well, there's always Huge Schoolgirl Makoto to compare (who actually used her bust size talent as an argument for getting the lead role in a stage play). Too bad these in-universe comparisons don't exactly match those made by the viewers who are used to real-world proportions.
  • In Elfen Lied, we're told Lucy's vectors only have a range of two meters, but judging from visual estimates, she often extends them a good few meters further. This can be explained as Lucy holding back, or it could just be a mistake.
    • The two meters was used as a plot point, in that she's unable to reach people who stand beyond that (though, when this happens, she just throws things so it's pretty pointless). She wouldn't be holding back, it's just an artist error.
  • Josuke is afraid of turtles. You only hear of this in the beginning when first introduced to him and it could have been used as a tactic against him by Kira, like having an enemy Stand that turned things into turtles or even just resembled one.
  • Nami of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei is something indicated to be kind of plain, on account of being the normal girl. However, outside of clearly Gonk characters in the series, Generic Cuteness applies for everyone, Nami included, and and there's nothing that really distinguishes her features from everyone else's. Of course, she really is the most normal compared to the other main girls, which makes her unique in and of itself. Also, she loudly objects whenever someone brings this up.
  • In Beelzebub, Furuichi is revealed to have the highest standardized test score at Ishiyama High (where studying is hated "180 percent!")...a 59 (though Oga pointed out no one knows what it was out of, it's assumed 100). Furuichi himself is often shown to be smarter (as are other characters like Himekawa and Natsume), and none of the class mentioned any grade trouble one moving to Ishiyama Academy (though they might not have been graded, it was a temp thing...and the teachers were terrified of them...).
    • Most chalk the episode up to Rule of Funny, which the series usually runs on.
  • In One Piece, Trafalgar Law was stated to be a coldly cruel pirate and even Kidd was wary of the rumours surrounding him. From what we have seen, he appears to have a friendly relationship with his crew, took pity on an enslaved pirate captain and risked his life to save Luffy for no particular reason. Then post-timeskip, we find out his "resume" to join the Shichibukai - extracting and delivering 100 pirate hearts.
  • Musashi's kicks in Eyeshield 21 are supposedly powerful with the drawback that he isn't entirely accurate. Yet he never missed a single kick in the series (apart from a flashback where Shin had directly blocked it). Even his rival Kotaro who is known for his 100% accuracy instead of power misses a pivotal kick.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • X-Men villain Sabretooth is color-blind. If you just said "Really?" that's because it hasn't come up in decades.
  • When "he" first appears in New Avengers a sharp-eyed reader might notice that the mysterious character Ronin seems to be ignoring Spider-Man and Iron Man. This makes sense when it's revealed that Ronin is actually Echo - a deaf woman - who can't lip-read someone whose mask/helmet covers their mouth ... unfortunately, once that's revealed, Echo's deafness seems to go away; she even replies to comments made by people facing away from her.
  • In The Umbrella Academy, Alison, The Rumor, is described as being narcissistic. Now, we have never seen her being narcissistic on her adult ages, nor on her younger years. That she lost her narcissism growing up, could be acceptable.
  • Averted heavily in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Quatermain is called a drug addict, and he is a drug addict; he spends weeks going through painful withdrawal, abandons his first mission to go buy drugs, and he outright states that Jekyll's presence was the only thing stopping him from using when they walked into an opium den.
  • An early Superman Christmas story shows us an older boy who's supposed to be spoiled and unappreciative of his wealth, but the actual writing shows him as no worse than sheltered, and far from being unappreciative of his many toys, he's surfeited, and wants to move on to real things, which is perfectly normal and reasonable for a twelve year old.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • Seems to happen a lot with original characters in fanfiction. When beginning writers hear the ubiquitous advice that "a balanced character needs flaws", they typically either default to "safe" flaws like being unable to sing, or introduce a flaw that should have devastating consequences but is only ever used as a virtue, such as having a bad temper.
  • Snap and Loopin in the infamous My Immortal story. Apparently, they are pedophiles. Ebony is of legal age. Also, they are apparently very dangerous. The only thing they do that presents a direct danger to anyone at all is when Snap tries to rape Draco, twice. But Loopin doesn't do anything, and is actually somewhat polite with Ebony.
  • A shining example of the trend described above happens with Ronan of Naruto Veangance Revelaitons. When reviewers complained that Ronan had no flaws (apart from those the author doesn't consider as such, including his terrible treatment of women), the author pointed out that Ronan did have a flaw, namely a mole on his face that was never mentioned before or since.
  • The Naruto fanfic For Your Eyes Only describes Sakura as being the type who Really Gets Around, which isn't really even much of a flaw in the first place but is treated like one. She violently rejects the only male to speak with her onscreen, only ever flirts with one male offscreen and is killed for it. We never even hear her point of view on this, as she doesn't get so much as a word of dialogue.


Film[edit | hide]

  • In Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, Jeremiah Ecks is introduced as an alcoholic that spent the previous couple years getting sloshed in bars. Apparently, not only did it not reduce his physical prowess at all, but he didn't even need any time to sober up.
  • The Russian animated movie Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Robber draws attention to Ilya's superstitiousness for about its first half, and then it's forgotten and has no effect on the plot when the characters get to Constantinople.
  • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: Yoda flat-out tells Anakin "I sense much fear in you". Anakin didn't seem afraid when he decided to risk his life by entering (and winning) a podrace.
  • The film adaptation of Twilight has Bella's purported clumsiness displayed in a throw-away scene where she slips and falls on wet steps only to be caught by her father.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Eddie Valiant seems to be healthy enough for five years of alcoholism, though the chili dogs have clearly had some effect on his stomach. He quits with no ill effects, too.
    • However, he only quits very late in the movie, and the following events occur over a few hours at most. Hardly enough time for him to start going through the DTs. He also does very little running around or heavy physical activity except when in Toon Town (where it can be assumed he's getting some benefits of Toon Physics).
  • Averted in Die Hard With a Vengeance, in which McClane, established as being only "one step away from becoming a full-blown alcoholic" enters the story with a splitting headache from the previous night's drinking, and spends the entire day bitching about his "bad fucking hangover". He still retains his badass moves, though. It even proves a help when as a "last request" he asks the Big Bad if he has any aspirin for his headache: he does, provided by the hotel he was staying at.
  • The Absent-Minded Professor's absent-mindedness is showcased in the first fifteen minutes of the movie, then never appears again.
  • In The Broadway Melody, the two main characters, a sister act, each have one. There's the "attractive but untalented one" (who seems every bit as good a dancer and singer as the other) and the "talented but plain one" (who is not even a little plain).
  • In Thor, Loki is said to be "sometimes mischievous", possibly as a nod to the mythological character he's based on. Except he's deadly serious and never does anything you could consider to be mischievous except in the absolute loosest sense of the word. His pranks were cut from the theatrical release and only included in the Extended Cut.
  • In The Mummy Trilogy, Evy's Establishing Character Moment has her clumsily toppling over every bookshelf in a library like a row of dominoes. Though she does revive Imhotep by carelessly reading from a cursed book, physical clumsiness never plays any part of her character after that opening scene.
    • Actually, the bookshelf doesn't happen because of physical clumsiness... it's because Evy has bad judgment and tries to reach across the aisle while high up on a ladder. That same bad judgment is what led to her reviving Imhotep, and does tend to crop up here and there throughout the trilogy.
  • The protagonist in the pro-life film October Baby is a survivor of a botched abortion, and is said to have depression, epilepsy, asthma, and a childhood full of hip surgeries. Throughout the film she never exhibits any symptoms of the first two, never uses the inhaler after a couple of scenes in the opening act, and doesn't walk with any sign of a limp (and in fact spends hours dragging around a heavy suitcase).

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Tom and John's father in The Great Brain books has a reputation for buying new inventions that turn out to be worthless, but it never happens in any of the stories. He orders a flush toilet in the first book that works, to everyone's surprise, and gives John a basketball and backboard that make him the most popular kid in town.
  • In the Pellucidar novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs there are a race of gorilla-like humanoids called Sagoths. In the book it is stated a few times that Sagoths are inferior to humans in intelligence. However, none of the Sagoth characters appear to be particularly stupid, the Sagoth guard captain in the second book is able to see through a human's ruses and the Sagoth that Tarzan befriends in the fourth book seems to be of at least average intelligence.
  • Sherlock Holmes' drug use is this in the first few books. Naturally, since A. it wasn't really all that out of the ordinary for the time, at least for those of Holmes' bohemian lifestyle. B. He mainly does it from boredom when he doesn't have a case, and the stories are all about cases. and C. Watson eventually gets him to kick the habit, it just doesn't come up. Adaptations, like The Seven Percent Solution love to push the angle for all its worth.
  • Ellery Queen wrote four novels in the 1930s featuring retired Shakespearean actor Drury Lane. Lane was forced to retire from the stage when he became totally deaf. One wonders why, when Lane routinely does perfect voice imitations of people he never met before losing his hearing on the first try.
  • In Darksaber, Pellaeon is said to have little charisma. What does he do in that series? Display more persuasive ability and likability than anyone else on his side. Before that was written, he was known to have taken command of what was left of the fleet during the disaster at Endor, calling the retreat. After this was written he set up a peace treaty with the New Republic and talked the Imperial Remnant into accepting it. Yeah, that's something someone with little charisma can do.
  • In one book of the X Wing Series, Wedge Antilles' childhood friend Mirax teases him about his ego, saying that it's so big he thinks he can control it. Wedge's pride is barely shown at all - in Wraith Squadron he puts up with one of his pilots saying that at twenty-eight he's too old for the job to a point and then challenges her to a race and wins, but he doesn't even rub it in. He once goes on a spectacularly destructive but strategically unnecessary strafing run because a TIE pilot and the ground defenses "irked" him for almost shooting him down, but that incident is never followed up on. Wedge is happy getting little credit, and once when playing a gambit for the benefit of one of his pilots regrets that credit will go to him and not them. Granted, Mirax also says (in the same dialogue, no less) that as a redeeming characteristic, he usually can (and does) keep it in check. And those few times he doesn't, it's usually his enemies that are the worse off for it. In Legacy of the Force has the sixty-year-old Wedge say that he knows he wasn't involved in a particular plan because that plan had failed. He's got much more of an ego after the X-Wing novels, though those are the books which show him in the most detail.
  • The Sword of Truth series supposedly has Richard behave as something of a Deadpan Snarker, whose mouth sometimes writes checks his ass can't cash. Most often this flaw is mentioned only in its absence, where the author states that Richard was tempted to say something snarky, but managed to keep it under control. You can count on one hand with fingers left over the number of times in the entire series where Richard actually spits out some quip that he ends up regretting.
  • For a guy who claims he was far too squeamish to finish medical school, Escott from The Vampire Files seems awfully at-ease with collecting bottles full of cow blood for Jack every couple of books or even letting Jack bite his wrist when he's really horrifically injured.
  • Because the universe of the series runs on tropes, the cop protagonist Vimes of Discworld is naturally described as being a Noble Bigot with a Badge, but this is never really born out. While he's presented as bigoted in a Hates Everyone Equally way, he never uses racial slurs in the way his model Dirty Harry did, and the series actually has a bigoted cop, Colon, who behaves and thinks quite differently from Vimes. In fact, not only are there scenes showing Vimes reacting negatively to bigotry, but part of the plot in Jingo only works because Vimes had a politically correct mindset.
    • Of course, Vimes is also a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, so it would make sense if he only acted that way.
    • According to Pratchett, Vimes thinks he is a much worse person than he is, because he's aware of all the impulses he tries to curb... much like everyone else.
    • Vimes is always the first and loudest to object to new species being added to the Watch, but this can be gotten around by either Vetinari insisting really heavily or by Vimes seeing a member of a minority being mistreated or particularly brave (often by them getting involved in the plot).
    • Also, once somebody is a member of the Watch, they're under Vimes' protection and he will do his best to protect them.
  • The Star Trek novel "Immortal Coil" has android antagonists who are supposedly incapable of applying the information they gather to personal growth or change. Yet either their personalities have profoundly altered since their creation, or the (organic) Old Ones were profoundly stupid to craft a race of androids with an obsessive hatred of non-cybernetic life and then go on depending on those androids for more than the time it takes to switch them off or pick up a firearm.
  • Bertie Wooster claims to have terrible luck with women in general, only being able to attract a certain type. It seems that that type is the only one who ever shows up in the stories.
  • Percy Jackson and The Olympians: Annabeth's fatal flaw is said to be hubris, but she gets in more trouble from complex abandonment issues that result in irrational distrust of people who have done nothing to deserve it (particularly Percy and her father) and exaggerated devotion to distant parental figures who treat her like crap (particularly her mother and Luke. Percy's fatal flaw is said to be personal loyalty, but he gets in a lot more trouble from his big mouth and recklessness. Bianca, as a child of Hades, is said to have a fatal flaw of holding grudges, but it never really shows up, though the book doesn't have much of a chance to show it before her death.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Heroes, for all of Volume 3's talk about Sylar's uncontrollable "hunger", he seems perfectly capable of hanging around and interacting with other supers without popping open their brains to see what makes them tick. This seems to be the case even after he turns back fully to the side of evil (he never chows down on Luke, for example, despite on multiple occasions being given a good reason to do so. Ditto for Doyle, who he must have been lugging around for more than a day). Peter Petrelli, on the other hand, pretty much chops open the head of every single person he meets after acquiring Sylar's ability, despite (unlike Sylar) receiving no apparent tangible benefit from doing so. This becomes even more baffling when Sylar learns how to take powers without killing but decides to do so anyway (it's fun for him), leading one to assume the hunger talk was nonsense and Peter is so thick he felt the compulsion because he thought he would.
  • How I Met Your Mother has an episode about these. The informedness of each characters' flaws is handwaved by the fact that the theme of the episode was that you often don't notice them until they're pointed out, and eventually learn to love them despite their flaws. Plus, some of the flaws are exaggerations of past behavior of characters, thus not as informed as some examples, other than Lily's, whose flaw of "loud chewing" is never experienced befor or after.
    • In the episode "Jenkins", the gang tells Marshall that he is the "reacher" to Lily's "settler". Which means that Marshall would never get anybody better then Lily. Yet in a past episode, the opposite is true in which it show a single Marshall getting numbers from other woman and having Lily fail at making out her own and wanting to get back together with Marshall.
  • In Star Trek, much is made of Q being a liar. For example, Worf in "Déjà Q" says "You have fooled us too often, Q," and Vash in "Q-Less" mentions that the people of the planet Brax believe Q is the god of lies. Yet he almost never lies onscreen.
    • He is often deceptive about his actual motivations and intent when he visits, and has occasionally outright lied about them (such as claiming his visit had benevolent intentions, when if it did such intentions were buried so deep that you can't blame the characters for not realizing them). In his first appearance he also lied several times about the intent of the Starjellies, urging Picard into a violent confrontation to prove himself right about humanity. Plus it wouldn't be out of the question for him to act differently to different races he comes across (at least once he's implied to have been outright malevolent towards an entire race of gaseous entities, instead of just futzing about with a few of their members like he does humans).
  • In Blood Ties, the main character supposedly has retinitis pigmentosa, which makes her have very poor peripheral vision and night vision - not that it affects her at all after the very first episode. Even if she could see reasonably well in daylight, she should have been blind at night - after all, retinitis pigmentosa is also known as night blindness. But she can easily navigate in a darkened room using a tiny little penlight. In the book series Vicki has serious problems navigating at night. The fact that she can't drive in the dark is a major plot point in the second book.
  • The pilot episode for No Ordinary Family informs the audience that the family in question is highly dysfunctional and on the edge of fragmenting. The show's framing story is that of the two parents seeking marital counseling in an effort to save their family. However, the 'dysfunctional family' idea is dropped for the rest of the series.
    • Each of the characters starts with an Informed Flaw but the superpower they gain negates it. The wimpy father becomes super strong and indestructible. The workaholic mother gains superspeed and has time to do everything she wants. The son who is failing his classes, gets super intelligence. The daughter gains telepathy and thus becomes a much better judge of character and more sympathetic to others.
  • Martin on Frasier suffers from a bit of this. While he is often described as being cranky and intolerable before moving in with Frasier, flashback episodes generally portray him with the same pleasant, easy-going personality he always has. Likewise, as an active and energetic man for his age, he rarely comes off as crippled enough to justify having a full-time, live-in medical assistant. This was lampshaded to a degree in the episode "Dial M For Martin," where the plot centers around the question of whether Daphne's services are still needed (with a predictably belaboured Reset Button ending).
    • Similarly, Lilith is usually spoken of as if she is the devil herself. Yet while she is portrayed as a bit emotionless and overly rational, there are no signs of malign intent or immorality that would justify this reputation.
      • The Cranes' extreme hatred of Lilith seems to be more rooted in a Thicker Than Water-related personal vendetta against her for dumping Frasier than an objective opinion. It's not completely her fault that the marriage didn't work out, but when even your actions even inadvertently drive someone's son and/or brother to such misery that he threatens to commit suicide, rationality and fairness tends to take a holiday.
  • James Berluti on The Practice is supposed to be a less-good lawyer than the other employees at McDonnel-Young. In fact, Bobby pointedly makes everyone except James partner in one day. But while he may lack polish, James seems to have a similar win-loss record as everyone else, and is shown winning cases through sheer relentlessness the partners couldn't match.
  • Mike and Molly has Mike buying a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, driving it for several days, showing it off, and then flaws that are supposed to exist before he bought it, like poor transmission peformance, no heat and an exhaust leak show up that no one could have missed in the time he owned it.
  • Frank Burns of MASH is stated to be a terrible surgeon despite being one of the camp's only four doctors and the camp having a 97% survival rate. Other than Burns occasionally breaking down under pressure and making human mistakes, we don't see him actually kill every single patient he's given, and handles about the same number of wounded as any other doctor.
    • Frank doesn't usually outright kill his patients, but numerous episodes have him making mistakes due to being sloppy... not taking the time to look for all the shrapnel, not being thorough with stitching up and leaving bleeders, in other words things that the other doctors have to go in and fix afterward when the patient doesn't recover properly. Hawkeye and the others are also shown repeatedly keeping an eye on his table and either giving him/his nurse directions or moving to assist when he's in over his head, and those who do triage are apparently told to send Frank the least severe of the group of wounded being brought in. Frank isn't shown to be 100% incompetent, but he's leaning heavily on the rest of the medical staff as a crutch.
  • In Merlin, Morgana speaks of Guinevere's hands, saying "her fingers are worn, her nails are broken." In a later episode, a villain identifies Gwen (disguised as Morgana) as an imposter because she has "the hands of a servant." Yet whenever we get a close-up of actress Angel Coulby's hands, the audience can see she has smooth skin and beautifully manicured nails.
  • Season four of Sons of Anarchy makes a big deal out of the club's racism, and what the Sons would do to their secretly half-black member if they found out about it. This is despite the club having at least two Hispanic members, one Jewish member, the president having a Jewish wife and another member having had a black wife, and generally having no more problems working with black, Asian or Hispanics criminals than they have with Russians or Irish. They also fight two white supremacist skinhead groups, who see the club as traitors to their race. This is because real life outlaw biker groups are often racially segregated, even if the members themselves are not really racist, but a little explanation before would have been nice.
  • In Survivor's 23rd season, everyone apparently says Edna was weak. Yet the only challenges that Upolu didn't win was where Edna was sitting out.
  • Liz Lemon of Thirty Rock is often described as, at best, homely, despite the fact that Tina Fey is arguably twice as hot as Jane Krakowski, who plays Liz's hot actress friend. It's explained in universe/by breaking the 4th wall when Liz steps in front of an High Definition camera, which reveals that her face looks like it belongs to the Wicked Witch of the West.

Music[edit | hide]

  • Devo's Mongoloid is about someone with down syndrome who is 'happier than you and me' but otherwise lives a perfectly normal life, with no one aware he is different. The song initially seems to be praising this guy's ability to fit in with society. However Devo are actually saying that society has devolved to the point where it's impossible to tell a mentally handicapped person from someone who isn't.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Charlie Brown in Peanuts claims that everyone hates him and he has no friends, even though Schroeder and Linus are clearly his friends, and although Lucy insults him, she also hangs around with him an awful lot. Also, all the neighborhood kids let him be manager and captain of the baseball team. Of course, this makes more sense when you know that the creator Charles M. Schulz, even when he had a wife, five children and millions of fans, still complained of being anxious and lonely.
    • Charlie Brown's defining characteristics are being wishy-washy and most of the symptoms you think of when you hear the term "clinical depression". Too bad There Are No Therapists other than Lucy.
  • Therese of For Better or For Worse was repeatedly described as shallow, petty, materialistic and whatever else Lynn Johnson could use to paint her as the villain in Anthony's marriage. However, she rarely got any panel time that involved anything other than complaining to Anthony about Liz - whom she turned out to have good reason to dislike. When she was shown interacting with other characters, she came off as little more than a normal, if somewhat removed person and some thought her actions were justified when details of their marriage came to light.
  • Lieutenant Fuzz of Beetle Bailey is often described as the world's biggest Jerkass by the other officers (and by Sergeant Snorkel) for no other reason than that he's a bit immature and occasionally dull. Sure enough, he bugs General Halftrack (for advice or approval) quite often, but that still doesn't explain why the other officers seem to hate him so much and with such sincerity. Even the military chaplain claims he can't find any redeeming qualities in Fuzz (and he doesn't help matters by adding "I really tried!")
  • Though he started out as a legitimate terror, due to Menace Decay, anyone who read Dennis the Menace US after the late 80s might feel that he isn't menacing at all.
  • Ever since the start of the strip's run, Garfield has been consistently described as being fat, but, as drawn, he has actually gotten significantly more svelte over the years.
    • He is still drawn as rounder than many other cats in the strip, who can often be described as tubes with heads and legs.

Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • This is usually done on purpose by the rudos (hence why they're called rudos). Claim a fan favorite wrestler is stupid(Rob Van Dam), then you can by extension call his fans stupid because they relate to him. Call one of the humblest guys on the roster(John Cena) arrogant because he brought up a flaw you actually have.
  • Another way is accuse the fans of something. Chris Jericho once showed video evidence to prove the fans were hateful toward men like him because they hated values, but the video showed the audience clapping for him.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • A standard trick by powergamers in tabletop RPGs is to take a character flaw that will have almost no impact on their character, to reap the benefits (Flaws usually come with perks, or extra XP). A common example is taking a social flaw, and then to simply never speak in character.
  • World of Darkness played this straight by giving you character creation points for flaws. New World of Darkness corrects it by making flaws work by granting you additional experience after any session where they came up and caused you actual problems—so if you choose a flaw that never causes you any problems, you don't get any benefit from it, either.
  • Any system that includes a "Nightmares" flaw is generally ripe for this, mainly because most GMs/Storytellers aren't willing to waste time coming up with elaborate, horrifying nightmares for one character, and many systems only describe the consequences of the character being tired from lack of sleep or nerves without applying actual mechanical penalties in the flaw's description. This often results in a grumpy, obnoxious character with little patience, which is what your average munchkin is looking to play anyway.
  • Somewhat famously, GURPS had the flaw of Weirdness Magnet. This was popular among min-maxers for the expedient reason that player characters are invariably Weirdness Magnets already.
    • Later editions have attempted to address this by reminding the DM of two principles -- for purposes of the disadvantage "weird" is defined as weird when compared to the rest of the party, and that a disadvantage that never actually shows up in play is worth no points. So if you take the advantage, the GameMaster is supposed to make sure that however bizarre your friends' lives might be, yours is even more bizarre -- and what's worse, bizarre with inconvenient timing.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Metal Gear Solid - Meryl Silverburgh was mentioned several times as having had 'special psychotherapy to destroy her interest in men'. It didn't work. It's not even that Snake 'cures' her - she's flirting with him from the very beginning, before she even knows who he is or what he's like, besides 'handsome'. The aim was probably to present her as someone who'd locked away all of her femininity in order to succeed as a soldier, but it has absolutely no effect on her character and absolutely no explanation is even attempted.
    • For that matter, Psycho Mantis claims that Snake is even worse than the game's Big Bad, Liquid Snake. While Snake is undoubtedly a Jerkass, he's not without conscience and actually stopped World War III twice, while Liquid is trying to start it. There is no obvious indication in spoken dialogue or backstory to back up Mantis's claim.
  • In Super Robot Wars Original Generation Kyosuke's mech Alt Eisen is stated to be a awkwardly designed mech that Kyosuke can only use because of his insane luck, yet Statistically Speaking there isn't anything that keeps the thing from functioning perfectly as a Mighty Glacier and fair much better than the average Gespent.
  • In Spore, the Ecologist attribute card points to a scary dogmatic side (namely, the belief that they must slaughter any sentient species that harms a world's environment), that doesn't seem to show up.
  • At the very beginning of Chrono Trigger, people talk about how Lucca's made yet another "crazy invention", and sarcastically say they hope it doesn't blow up like all the others. Over the course of the game Lucca then proceeds to invent a teleportation device (the Telepod), a portable flamethrower (her Flame Toss attack), a portable hypnotic device (her Hypno Wave attack), a knockout device (her "Zonker 38", which she can use to rescue Crono), a supply of potent hand grenades (her Napalm and Mega Bomb attacks), a device capable of controlling warps in the space/time continuum (the Gate Key), fixes and improves on a piece of futuristic technology that's been rusted out for over 300 years (Robo), and discovers a way to harness solar energy and use it as a weapon (the Wonder Shot).
    • The teleportation device manages to make someone vanish instead of successfully teleporting them the second time it's used, and many of those (flamethrower, grenades, Wonder Shot) are literally inventions that blow up or blow other things up—they're just supposed to do that.
    • Lucca's father Taban fits this too. He's amazed that their teleportation device works, but he then proceeds to develop a series of increasingly effective pieces of body armor for Lucca (the Taban Vest, Taban Helm and Taban Suit), and also converts solar energy into a device capable of increasing its user's physical power (the Sun Shades).
      • One of his devices did cripple his wife. At least until Lucca uses time travel to change that, though he would have built a device that almost crippled his wife. Perhaps this is a case of in-universe Never Live It Down.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, Seth Of The Dead's official bio on the website claims he's a meth addict. In game, he's completely insane and not healthy-looking, but we never see him anywhere near meth or impaired by need for it (especially in contrast to a character met later on who is a cocaine addict, and talks about almost nothing besides his coke addiction to the point where it reaches Overly Long Gag).
    • Red Dead Redemption is set in 1911. At the time, methamphetamine wasn't well-known outside of Japan, and crystal meth, the common drug form, wouldn't be synthesized for another 8 years. Simply getting a hold of any meth then would have been quite the trick. (Then again, there weren't many zombies either.)
    • Landon Ricketts' bio describes him as 'vain and pretentious'. The worst he gets is slightly arrogant about his genuinely phenomenal gun-slinging ability, when poking fun at Marston for 'barely being able to shoot straight'. His self-deprecating attitude towards himself (and his love life), his genuine devotion to the people of Mexico, his compassion towards Marston and his thoughtful but straight-talking manner actually lead to him coming across as humble, the precise opposite of what his bio says. Especially in contrast with the genuinely vain and pretentious Mexican politicians.
  • Various sources state that Sonic the Hedgehog can be a jerk at times. This contrasts with his actual in-game portrayal. He is always portrayed as a caring, friendly, if somewhat snarky guy.
  • The nobodies in Kingdom Hearts are frequently described as being "emotionless" yet they frequently seem quite emotional. For example Larxene always seems to be angry, Demyx seems bipolar, Saix is a berserker, Luxord and Axel both seem to enjoy themselves on a frequent basis (cracking jokes,laughing ,and even saying they're having a good time) and Vexen screams in terror and begs for his life before being killed. It is claimed that they are just "pretending" to have emotions yet in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days they are STILL acting like this even though there is no one else around to be pretending for.
    • A lead nobody said they forgot or fooled themselves. Somehow they think they have emotions even thought they should notice they get no pleasure from joking.
    • The game does have credit or at least TWO scenes where they're called on it, drop all emotions, and the battle starts immediately.
  • In World of Warcraft, the Goblins have a reputation of things they invent blowing up in their faces, most notably their zeppelins, where everyone remarks about crashes and explosions, yet no matter how many times you ride them, nothing bad happens. In particular, the Azshara-Twilight Highlands zeppelin is described as a virtual deathtrap filled with volatile gas, fuel that "shouldn't even be moved, much less flown", and even the parachutes will most likely kill you. Yet the zeppelin is brought down by dragons near its destination.
    • To be honest, they're some of the only Goblin technology that doesn't have a chance of blowing you up. And how fun would it be to be on a zeppelin that suddenly kills everybody onboard?
    • This is partly Gameplay and Story Segregation - some NPC goblin technology in the game does blow up, but zeppelins are just supposed to get you around, and it would be incredibly annoying to players if they didn't - and partly The Artifact. The engineering profession is unique among professions player characters can learn in that a fair number of malfunctions are possible with the items or abilities it grants. In classic WoW, some malfunctions could single-handedly kill your character, and goblin-related gadgets would usually kill you with explosions. Recent patches have toned down the side effects, making most of them inconvenient or funny but harmless, but lots of players specialized in goblin-style engineering did in fact blow themselves up once upon a time.
  • We're told that Tex Murphy's Love Interest Chelsee is a mutant, but unlike the other mutants featured in the game who all have noticeable physical deformities, Chelsee looks like a normal human. In fact, she's even rather pretty. Lampshaded, in that it's mentioned in-game that nobody knows what her mutation is, and she's not telling.
  • Saki from Snow Sakura is teased as being flat-chested every now and then. However, when you're looking at her, there's not any angle that you can consider her chest flat.
  • Legend Of Zelda Skyward Sword, at the start the game Zelda complains about how lazy Link is. For the rest of the game, Link comes off as far from lazy with all running around the surface killing a small army of demons he does.
  • Garet in the original Golden Sun is mentioned by his little brother to be a compulsive glutton. This is never mentioned again in canon (though Tyrell gives it a Call Back in Dark Dawn).

Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Red Mage abuses this as much as possible to max out his "character sheet".
  • As does Pete in Darths and Droids. He took Lactose Intolerance as a flaw...for R2-D2.
  • In Sinfest, Crimney assures Fuchsia he's not always sweet, he gets angry. His flustered difficulty shows how seldom this happens. (He in fact had a prior flaw which Character Development has (plausibly!) removed: he used to hide from the world behind piles of books.)
    • He's been shown to be angry before, managing to make Seymour back off and run away.
  • Keli from "World of Fizz" is said to have a "high gas factor" [1] [dead link] although other characters are more frequently shown belching or farting than Kelli ,in fact she is rarely shown doing it all.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In one episode of South Park, Cartman is sent to jail, leaving the other boys to single Clyde out as "obviously" the fattest kid in the class, even though he is literally the exact same shape as all the other kids other than his hair.
    • South Park plays with this a lot, such as informing the audience that a character is hideously ugly or very attractive when they look no different than anyone else.
    • Special mention goes to Ugly Bob, who was exiled from Canada for his ugliness despite looking identical to every other Canadian (and not being considered ugly by non-Canadians). It turns out that his ugliness gives him the gorgon-like ability to turn anything that looks at him into stone.
  • As stated by multiple characters in Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbuh One's butt is supposed to be ridiculously huge, but it looks just about the same as the other character's.
  • In Invader Zim Dib is regularly mocked for having a giant head, even though his head is the same size as any other characters.
  • Family Guy: Meg Griffin is constantly being called fat and ugly by the rest of the cast—she's apparently so ugly that people maim themselves to get out of taking her to a school dance. However, she's drawn just like the rest of the cast, no worse, and while she does look a bit chubby, she's certainly not fat. The really hilarious thing is, aside from being slightly pudgier, Meg looks almost exactly like her mother Lois who the series depicts as a ravishing sex goddess.
  • Jay Sherman from The Critic is constantly described by the other characters as being ridiculously overweight and ugly, he's fairly normal looking and he's short and chubby.
  • Ackar from Bionicle: The Legend Reborn is said to be an old warrior way past his prime, and as such, his people are growing tired of him. Doesn't stop him from performing impossible multi-somersaults and wiping away a gang of marauding Bone Hunters and their dinosaur steeds with ease.
  • Lana Kane from Archer is constantly made fun of by other characters for having big hands, even though her character is drawn in proportion with normal sized hands.