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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Tzintzuntzan: I can actually think of a Libby who may be an exception to the heroine having to "understand" her — Paige Michalchuk of Degrassi: The Next Generation. There is an episode where Paige gets raped and the girl she picked on has to comfort her. However, this is not backstory, but an event in the show; it is clearly established that Paige was a bully long before she got raped, and her home life (what little we see of it) is fine.

Speaking of Degrassi, I'm removing my own Michelle example because she's not a villain, and she isn't even an Anti-Hero or Tragic Hero like the Evangelion crew. BTW, am I the only troper here who watches Degrassi?

Lale: We watched Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High in Health class in 9th grade. I liked it- don't remember any names, though.

About the Paige example, though- say "the girl she picked on" in question was the one who got raped, would you catch anyone lecturing/preaching to Paige to comfort/be nice to her? Does The Libby ever get An Aesop about not tormenting people? That's the problem.

Tzintzuntzan: Okay, long response (and I do agree with a lot of what you say). The Libby usually doesn't get An Aesop. However, this may be because The Libby isn't usually a viewpoint character, and thus never learns anything. Honest John's Dealership never learns a lesson about not cheating people, and the Obstructive Bureaucrat never learns a lesson about not gumming up the works, for much the same reason.

OTOH, while the Jerk Jock and the Libby both never learn anything, it seems the hero learns about treating the Jerk Jock right much less often that the heroine learns to treat The Libby better. Maybe there's a trope in this.

I can think of one example where The Libby does learn: Stephanie in Degrassi Junior High learns not to be a bully (after she gets totally humiliated in front of the whole school). And she genuinely does treat her nerdy brother better after that. She's a viewpoint character, which is why she learns. But she also gets to Pet the Dog almost every episode, so I don't know if she counts as a full Libby.

About Paige again, an interesting thing is that while she never learns An Aesop, and she gets away with just about everything, she's the Butt Monkey. For instance, in one episode, she takes credit for another girl's work at the cheerleading squad, than forces that girl to be the mascot when she won't stop complaining about it. This does not lead to Paige learning anything or changing. But it does lead to her cheerleading squad deliberately dropping her during a game. Not only does it break her leg, but the squad totally gets away with it, and the show portrays this as no worse than making the girl the mascot.

Lale: Sounds fair. Now that is a good plotline.

Tzintzuntzan: Maybe I'm clueless, but what do you mean by fair? Fair in that it's appropriate justice, or fair in that finally, a show finally makes The Libby sweat?

Lale: Now that you mention it, both. After all, shows never spare the Margaret Simon from sweating over how she treats people.

Your Obedient Serpent: Two-Face doesn't exactly fit this trope. He's almost something of an inversion. Most Freudian Excuses are added to a villain's Back Story later. The original Two-Face story had him go mad from pain and rage — circumstances excusing his behavior, a Good Man Going Bad Because He Was Driven Mad. When later writers fleshed the character out, they injected the idea that Harvey had always had a dark side, if not full-blown MPD.

Lale: The Joker example had nothing to do with a hard childhood or family problems, either.


Tanto: Stock Aesops? I don't think so.

Later: That lyric (?) at the top might be too long, and there's no attribution.

Kinitawowi: Replaced it with the Larkin quote. Far more famous, far more apropos, shorter, attributed, and fundamentally better.
Lale: Took out the Severus Snape example since the opposite actually applies. Snape hates Wangst as much as any of us and doesn't cut Harry any slack for having had a rough childhood; the author provides us some details of his Back Story, but never as an excuse for being a Death Eater. It does appear, however, that his love for Lily motivated his Heelface Turn pre-series.
Ronfar: WE DO NOT SPOIL THE MOUSETRAP!
Meems: Can we cut some of the quotes at the top, please? One or two to illustrate the trope is fine, but four we do not need. Especially since I now have to scroll down to see any of the actual trope text.
Actually, what the new series of Doctor Who has revealed is that the Doctor thinks the Master was driven insane at the age of eight. For all we know, he could have been one of the ones who was inspired.
BrightBlueInk: So, can this trope fit anti-HEROES, too, or is it merely for villains?

Jefepato: It seems to me that it's fitting for just about any character with a crappy-childhood excuse for their behavior.
Jefepato: Aren't some of the "subversions" listed (8MM, Intensity) more like lampshaded aversions?

Anonymous Mc Cartneyfan: It's not an Averted Trope if it's lampshaded. Averting tropes is always done quietly.


Racha Re Moriarty: Wha'???? Isn't this reading too much into it? Way more likely than everyone in the Moriarty family (I make it only the Arch Enemy himself and Colonel James) having the same name is 1) Moriarty was completely made up due to Holmes's own reasons (which one of these days I'll put in the Epileptic Trees section) and therefore any articles by Colonel M were penned by him or, likeliest of all, 2) Sir Arthur didn't give two hoots about Continuity and thought no one would ever notice. Of course, everyone does! Though at least it clears one little mystery up. When Mary accidentally calls Watson "James" it's because she's having an affair with both Moriarties!
MercuryInRetrograde How about one I saw recently on a CSI type show. A cast member suggested to a criminal that she could use her past with an abusive husband as a legal excuse for her criminal behavior. The suggestion was done in all honesty and played straight. What baffles me is that _this_ type of an excuse is acceptable when, apparently, being abused by your parents isn't. Last time I checked children are a lot more vulnerable then adults—it's often a lot harder to get over traumatic experiences you experienced as a child then traumatic experiences experienced as an adult—so I must confess I find this general attitude bizarre.


Austin: About Two-Face's origin in the animated series, I remember the episode said that Harvey developed his other personality after he punched out a bully and it ended up causing medical problems. Did they add on the abusive father part later, or is the entry mistaken?

Caswin: Assuming the entry hasn't changed since this posting, the entry is a bit unclear. There's nothing about an abusive father in the show — it's just mentioned that his alternate personality has the name "Big Bad Harv".
Dausuul: Jeez, what's with the enormous frickin' King Lear quote? It was on the Magnificent Bastard page too... and here it doesn't even apply, since Edmund is specifically rejecting the idea that astrological influences are responsible for his evilness. Removing it.


Austin: "The new remake of Halloween attempts this with Michael Meyers. In this editor's opinion, it fairs about as well as the attempt with Hannibal Lecter."

Tell me, is it any worse than a little boy suddenly murdering his sister for no reason and becoming an immortal slasher also for no reason?

Caswin: For what it was... well, it can be said that he wasn't immortal at first. It also helps that one of the main characters of the series is a psychologist who is both baffled and terrified at the sheer, causeless evil behind Myers' eyes. So I'm going to agree, yes, yes it was.
Xenon: Removed the bit about Sasori from Naruto, because Sasori didn't LOSE his parents, he killed them and used their bodies to create his first human puppets
Caswin: I think this page is missing something on why this trope is so prevalent (and occasionally works) to begin with — that is, how trauma or sustained abuse at an early age can warp someone's morality and turn them into [insert your favorite complex here], often is a major cause behind "villains" in real life, et cetera. The description seems to take it as self-evident, but some examples seem to be missing the point.

Caswin: Also (if not a case-in-point), in NCIS, how is Ari Haswari's past an "excuse" for what he became, while Ziva killing him isn't an excuse, but "a valid reason" for her severe trust issues? (Funny, I've seen exactly enough of the show to know what it's talking about...)
Edgukator: Reading the G.I. Joe examples, I'm not sure they fit the trope, they merely explain a career choice. My understanding is that they should be focused on why someone went psychotic...