What's Happening

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

Luc: I'm not sure if the Newhart example qualifies: It's an example played straight. That it ties into another series is merely a surprising elaboration. A Zig Zagging Tropes should be a bit more difficult to classify.

Devil's Advocate: I was the one who added that, but I'm not married to it. It won't hurt my feelings if you delete it.

Devil's Advocate: Now that I've come across the Not a Subversion page, the Newhart example would probably be better there as an example of the second type ("a slight spin on a trope.") If that page had examples. (Should it?)
Devil's Advocate: Thinking about it a bit more, I'm not really comfortable with having a "none of the above" type entry like this one: if there's types of playing with a trope that we don't already cover, shouldn't we create an entry for that specific type of playing with a trope, rather than dump it under "none of the above?" But more importantly, I'm not sure that any of the examples currently listed here don't fit under the other types of playing.

Consider ones that are claimed to be triple-or-more-subversions (The Matrix, Gunnerkrigg Court). What, exactly, is the difference supposed to be between a "triple subversion" and a double subervsion followed by another subversion of that trope—especially considering that a double subversion gets us back to the original form of the trope? And is the "quadruple subversion" alleged in the Matrix example really a quadruple subversion, or just two consecutive double subversions? Heck, for that matter, did anyone really think Smith was going to win? If not, you don't even have a single subversion of that trope.

The alleged triple subversion in the Animorphs example is something else entirely: it's not a subversion itself being subverted, returning to the original trope (as we think of a double subversion) which is then again subverted. It's just a subversion of the Alien Animals trope which varies in that three different aspects of the trope are not fulfilled, rather than just one which is not fulfilled in the most basic form of a subversion—but it's still just a subversion.

Some Sort Of Troper: I'm inserting myself here since it's seems the most relevant position; could we try splitting up the discussion with lines? You're right it is just one thing and it's not even a subversion. The trope wasn't set up to be knocked down hence Not a Subversion. You either say it's got to be an animal so it's just a different trope, you say it is a sort of use of the trope, in which case it's fairly straightforward. The stuff about being dangerous and whatever... well that's not really in the trope and the bits about them only showing their heads at the end of the world doesn't seem to be a required part of the trope. This examples gone.

The Asshole Victim example from The Naked Sun looks like it's played straight to me. The audience perceives the Victim to be an asshole, even if the other characters in the story do not. Since the main point of Asshole Victim is to make it look like the victim "had it coming" and/or make the killer sympathetic, it seems fairly clear to me that what is important for that trope is the audience's perception of the victim, and not so much the other characters' perceptions.

The two What Measure Is a Non-Cute? from the Men In Black series: The example from "The Buzzard Syndrome" is hard to say for sure without a better description of whether more of the characters cited are cute or not, but just based on how it's described at the moment, it looks like just a single subversion: Cute Alien turns out to be a dangerous killer. Whether Space Policeman/Heartless Bounty Hunter is another example, whether straight or subverted, depends on whether it's cute or not but the text doesn't tell us that. The example from "The Star System Syndrome" is just one example of a single subversion of the trope (with the Space Demon) plus one example of a double subversion of the trope (with the Astro Tots).

I'm tempted to Cut List this. Thoughts?

fleb: It is weird to define something as having no definition of its own. If our categories fail us in describing an example, we shouldn't go to a Trope of the Gaps like this as our last resort, but actually use real words, like "strange example," "unusual variant," "troper Logic Bomb." You know, get creative.

Luc: In defense of this page, I (the original creator of this trope) always viewed it as a gathering place for either "Triple or more subversions" and "examples that may or may not fit in with the trope, but are definitely worth mentioning", put together because the two can blur together quite easily.

To provide an example of the edge case situation, there's a case of a possible aversion or playing straight of Straw Vulcan in the Dolled-Up Installment of I, Robot: The protagonist complains that a robot used the wrong kind of logic in a given situation (his view was that one human life can be worth more than another), rather than using logic in an "illogical" situation. It's clearly related to the Straw Vulcan, but it's equally clearly not a straight playing or an ordinary aversion.

Now, this trope might need renaming and/or redescripting. Those are open options, in my mind. But the 'edge case' situation deserves its own page, if for no other reason than because we need a way of labeling edge cases.

Some Sort Of Troper: In overviewing some things listed as "partial aversions" or "partial subversions" I actually found a lot of things that were what this page seems to be about. Writers would seemingly set up a trope, then it would be subverted but then something would be changed or revealed that showed that it was the trope after all. It turns up a lot and it's a very useful way in describing some interesting cases. This page shouldn't be a catch all for all interesting cases (we have Playing with a Trope, let's just admit we haven't categorised everything) but when it comes to "zig zagging" - going one way (in terms of trope use) then going in the opposite direction then going back in the original direction- I like it.

Oh and that I, Robot example? Aversion since it's not a straw vulcan, it's an interesting aversion since it takes place in a context where the Genre Savvy might expect to have to deal with one but they're simple using a different way of portraying the problems of the logical processes of an artificial intelligence.