What's Happening

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


Idle Dandy: Is there a trope for the way people wrap birthday presents on TV? How they wrap the box, then the lid, so all you have to do is lift it open? Presumably they do this in case there are multiple takes, but it's very annoying.

Also, whenever you see someone on TV doing a tarot card reading, something ominous always comes up. Sometimes the writers actually do this when everything seems happy as a way of foreshadowing trouble to come. At other times we know what the cards are referring to, so there's dramatic irony. In any case, nobody doing a psychic reading on TV is ever just a quack. Is there an entry for that?

BT The P: I'd thought for a while on the possibility of an entry in that vein. Something like Skepticism Failure, a catch-all for supernatural elements being presumed true, despite the fact that real-world evidence is overwhelmingly against them. A related phenomenon is the fact that the skeptic characters almost always buy it, because they presume to deny something that, in non-TV land, is patently false (thus far, the classic Scooby-Doo is the only series on record in which a skeptical perspective was consistently right). Unfortunately, my own strong opinion against is bound to clash with someone else's opinion for, and thus any article I'd produce would fail to be neutral, and draw in criticism unrelated to TV.

As for the giftbox rigging thing, do it up.

Airbud: I've found that anytime a character says, "I'm sure there's a logical explanation for this", they are always proven to be wrong (Scooby-Doo being the exception).

Whogus The Whatsler: Woah, that's very weird. Just earlier today I was thinking there should be an entry for this trope. Personally I have also always found it a bit bothersome, the way TV always presents skeptical characters as "Hey, this guy doesn't believe the hero about the psychic alien vampires from the future! What a moron!" Particularly in shows which are set in the real world, eg, the way Friends preferred to side with Phoebe over Ross on their science-vs-complete-insanity debates.

BT The P: I think perhaps a TV audience would be shocked if, at some point, the weird psychic phenomenon of the week did turn out to be a complete hoax, Scooby-Doo references aside.

Dark Sasami: Not to mention the subtrope where something spooky happens, the characters actually do find the perfectly logical explanation, and then they walk away and something spooky happens again—then roll end credits.

Airbud: Now that's one that I see all the time. Happened to MacGyver at least once, and probably on a dozen sitcoms.

Ununnilium: There was one of those U.S.Acres shorts like that - Orson's brothers pretending to be ghosts, and the actual ghosts of their ancestors scaring them off.

Dark Sasami: What I meant specifically was an ending in which the final spooky thing happens with no witnesses except you the viewer—as if to reassure you that yes, the supernatural really does exist. One can't help but feel that it's some sort of theist propaganda.

Ununnilium: Ah, I see. I'd say the "pure" version is relatively rare; more often there's only one minor thing the supernatural-fakers did that the protagnoists can't figure out, and when they ask them about it, the fakers said they *didn't* do it. Cut to spooky thing.

(And not "theist" so much as... what's the word for belief in the existence of the soul? `.`)

Idle Dandy: I went ahead and created Skepticism Failure. It needs examples, though. Also, I think there should be a related entry for that sort of "or is it?" ending.

Idle Dandy: If anything in this discussion looks funky, it's because I copied from the display page instead of the edit window and therefore lost all the wikification. I tried to properly rewikify everything.

Ununnilium: I'd say the "debunker" shows don't really fall under this, since it's about how fictional people act and how it's different from how real people do.

Later: And since nobody's responded to this, I'll cut out the examples and put them here.

  • The complete opposite of this happens in the Penn & Teller show Bullshit! (Yes, the exclamation mark is part of the name.) The duo spend their entire time debunking all manner of mystic claims.
    • In fact, several stage magicians have done this throughout the years; Harry Houdini famously spent the latter part of his career exposing spiritualists (whom he considered the worst sort of frauds, playing on the emotions of the recently bereaved). James Randi (aka The Amazing Randi) is an especially active member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims Of the Paranormal (CSICOP). Magicians, it seems, have little tolerance for (and a handy way with preventing) Skepticism Failure.

Also, I note that we don't actually have any straight examples on the main page. Is this an actual, common trope?

Idle Dandy: I swear at some point I went through and separated the examples from the aversions. Must have been lost in the Great Crash.