Created By: Arha on October 28, 2011 Last Edited By: Arha on November 23, 2011

Character Shilling

Unwarranted praise of one character by another.

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This ykttw has been split off of Shilling The Wesley as part of an effort to clean up that trope.

Sometimes, we hear about a character who doesn't really match the way they're described where it be a deed or a trait. Sometimes, though, this information all comes from a second character who is simply amazed at this character. They sing their praises, gushing their little hearts out. Okay, that's all well and good, Mister Fervent Admirer, but why are you praising them so openly?

This is what is known as Character Shilling. Whether it be an attempt to make us like the character, a way of quickly establishing that someone new is a badass a level above anything we've seen before or whatever the case may be, other people will be extremely impressed with this person and let we the viewers know about it. Whether they actually match up to the hype is optional. Sometimes they really are amazing, and sometimes we have ourselves a case of Informed Ability. Or worse, Creator's Pet.

Remember, it's only really shilling when we don't know why such praise and admiration is being given. If they've already they can back it up, it probably doesn't count.

Compare Informed Attribute, Informed Ability and Creator's Pet, the last of which is what happens when this goes wrong and the fans just end up hating the shilled character. May lead to Stop Worshipping Me if its to the person's face and they're more modest.

  • In Gundam Seed Destiny Heine Westenfluss is set up as an ace pilot like Athrun as well as charming and a really nice guy. Unfortunately, he doesn't get a chance to live up to his extreme reputation since he dies too soon.
  • Early The World God Only Knows shills Haqua as being amazing, but it's actually part of an obvious setup to show that despite how talented she is the only one she's fooling is Elsie. She's been unable to get any results after graduating and is pretty depressed. Eventually, she does end up deserving her reputation[[hottip:*:when you take into account that she's basically a low level supervisor who has just graduated high school and is thus about the equivalent of 18]].
  • Constantly done with Paul in Pokémon, who acts like a jerk to everyone and abuses his Pokemon in order to make them stronger, outright abandoning the ones who he finds to be a waste of time, and yet he's constantly called a "great trainer", who just clashes with Ash because of "different methods", rather than because, well, he's a jerk. When Ash beats him with one of his abandoned Pokemon he's actually seen apologizing and promising to be good from now on... or at least that's where the story looked like it was heading. What happened instead was Paul pulled a few slight signs of kindness completely out of nowhere with no development at all and then shrugs off his loss to Ash the way he does in his only other two losses of the series. They still acted like he somehow redeemed himself, despite not really changing that much.
  • This has debately happened with Touma, the main character of Nanoha Force. His characterization was fairly bland in the first few chapters, up until it was revealed that he was the adopted little brother of Subaru, a far more popular character. While it's shown how they met, it doesn't quite show how they became so close, and the two don't even interact for a long while. It's basically just to say 'hey, Subaru likes him!' to the reader. It gets more obvious later on, when it's shown that other characters like Nanoha know and like him too, which happened entirely off-screen.

Comic Books
  • Happened with Kyle Rayner when he replaced Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. Having folks like Martian Manhunter and Superman (not to mention Batman and Sandman) say what a terrific guy you are, completely unsolicited, led to much eye-rolling even amongst fans of the character, who felt that such shilling validated many complaints that haters of the character had. Luckily, Rayner managed to survive the shilling and was officially rescued from the scrappy pile.
    • It's been widely joked that Kyle got shilled specifically because DC were pissed off that fans (rightfully) saw how The Death of Superman and Azrael becoming Batman were temporary plotlines. DC were deadset that Kyle would stick, hence the shilling. However, Grant Morrison refused to give Kyle the same treatment in JLA. Yes, most of the team respected him, but he had to work to really be seen as something more than a rookie. And The Flash was open about his initial dislike of Kyle and it took a good amount of character development for them to become friends. As a result, Kyle Rayner grew his own crop of decidedly enthusiastic and loyal fans...
  • Invoked in The Flash comics for Barry Allen after his recent return to life. Writer Geoff Johns acknowledged that people who haven't read any story with Barry in it before (basically anyone who started reading comics after the Crisis, which is to say, anyone under 30), will see him as a Replacement Scrappy for Wally, so his first priority in the Flash: Rebirth miniseries was to sell Barry to newer readers. The first issue of Rebirth is mostly scenes of every single major superhero in the DCU talking about how awesome Barry is, save for Kid Flash, who refuses to accept him because he's not the one he grew up with, essentially making him their Straw Fan.

  • This is, more or less, the only way that the two main characters in the Left Behind series ever interact with non-main characters. It's either Buck and Rayford are thinking about how special they are and what a privilege it is for the rest of their unnamed co-workers and friends to associate with them, or it's said unnamed co-workers and friends gushing about them. This can be seen as the authors ignoring the Show, Don't Tell method of storytelling, merely telling us how earnest, passionate, and sincere their characters are rather than actually showing any of these qualities.
  • Parodied and Played for Laughs in the first two Discworld novels. Rincewind is the most incompetent and cowardly wizard on the Disc, even to the point that he can't spell the word right. His companion Two-Flower, however, thinks he's the mightiest magician who ever lived. This really gets on Rincewind's nerves, especially when he's going on about what a mighty warrior he is, and all the wizzard wants to do is run far, far away.

Live-Action TV
  • How I Met Your Mother has begun to do this in season 5 with Don. He was introduced as "the guy Robin would inevitably marry," but his subsequent appearances paint him as annoying and flawed. However, once he started showing romantic interest in Robin, he met the group and suddenly Marshall does not stop gushing about him. We don't see their interactions, but Marshall opens by saying that he is "smart, handsome and funny." This is jarring because two episodes ago we were supposed to hate the guy.
  • In one particularly glaring example from a first-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a Sufficiently Advanced Alien known as "The Traveler" stopped-in seemingly for the exclusive purpose of telling the crew how wonderful the original Wesley was. While Wesley hadn't quite become The Wesley by that point, further treatment along these lines basically ended up as one of the most definitive examples of Creator's Pet.
    • Another TNG example, "The Outrageous Okona", did nothing actually outrageous except taking advantage of his incredibly hyped reputation as a wild maverick man of action to get laid. Popular with the ladies, but not with the fans, who largely consider him a joke.
    • Second only to the Wesley is Will Riker. Picard (who seems to be the official "You Will Like This Guy" mouth piece for the show) was constantly touting Riker's leadership abilities and the fact that he'd passed on several Captain's posts of his own to stay with the Enterprise. Other characters would hype Riker's skills at "Activity X" as the plot demanded. But even when he got a Day in the Limelight episode to show those skills, the fans' reaction was a hearty "So what's so special about that?" At least he grew a beard...
  • Babylon 5 had a Lower-Deck Episode in its last season, featuring a couple of maintenance workers who end up praising new character Captain Lochley and telling her that she was OK in their book. Apparently, both of the two "little guys" were openly Author Avatars.
  • Increasingly, Glee treats Will and Finn this way -- particularly, other characters stand around gushing about how talented, good-hearted, and attractive they both are.
  • In the sixth season of Bones, for the character of Hannah Burley there is constant reinforcement of her beauty, talent and intelligence. Other popular characters in the show (including Angela) constantly refer to Hannah and Dr Brennan as being "friends", although the scenes depicting their "friendship" seem awkward at best. Many fans found it frustrating.

Visual Novels
  • Played for dark humor during the fifth and sixth chapter of Umineko no Naku Koro ni where the narration and everyone keep going on about Erika Furudo. The problem is that there's so much gushing because it's Lambdadelta's script and she's also callous and an incredible bitch. She does end up satisfying her reputation. But she's still a bitch.

Western Animation
  • Owen on Total Drama Island. Most of his accomplishments are either a) based on dumb luck or b) somehow related to eating, yet in some episodes the other characters will praise him excessively. In the first episode of Total Drama Action, for example, he manages to avoid being caught by the monster simply because he's too fat to pick up, then eats a bunch of fake food because he wouldn't just stop and listen to Chris tell him it was fake. But by coincidence he happened to burp out the key they were supposed to find, and immediately the scene cuts to several other characters praising his success.

Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • October 30, 2011
  • October 30, 2011
    • Chronicles Of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Caspian has insincere praise heaped on him on at least one occasion.
  • October 30, 2011
    Also compare The Ace, who gets talked up and may demonstrate their skill in the work.
  • October 30, 2011
    ^^ Caspian? The King of nearly everyone on that ship? You might be thinking of a different character. Regardless, you should give an example, and not X Just X.
  • October 30, 2011
    I seem to recall the narration and other characters telling us about how awesome Caspian is so I put it on despite the way its phrased being questionable. But I haven't read those books for at least six or seven years, so I don't remember the context or even if it was the fifth book instead of the fourth.
  • November 1, 2011
    Hmm, this needs more examples if it's going to work as a trope. Doesn't Sandbox.Shilling The Wesley have a lot of examples that would fit into this trope?
  • November 1, 2011
    Hm. I tried to salvage some of the examples but some were really negative and I had no idea where to start. I also tried to downplay the Creators Pet angle to keep the complaining out of the trope but it's kind of hard.
  • November 3, 2011
    ^^ I think he was shilled, but the example says insincere praise. So, not only is that not this trope, it is worse than X Just X, because it can only cause confusion.
  • November 3, 2011
    There was genuine shilling going on but I can't honestly remember the context. However, since I can't remember said context and it's focusing on an unrelated scene I went and deleted it anyway.
  • November 6, 2011
    May prompt a Think Nothing Of It response.
  • November 7, 2011
    • Parodied and Played For Laughs in the Discworld novels. Rincewind is the most incompetent and cowardly wizard on the Disc, even to the point that he can't spell the word right. His companion Two-Flower, however, thinks he's the mightiest magician who ever lived. This really gets on Rincewind's nerves, especially when he's going on about what a mighty warrior he is, and all the wizzard wants to do is run far, far away.
  • November 7, 2011
  • November 9, 2011
    ^^ That's not really shilling from what I recall. Twoflower just has a unique view of reality.
  • November 9, 2011
    No, this is a great example. Twoflower is trying to convince people how badass Rincewind is. This is shilling to other characters, and, if the audience knows the other works, ironic. Rincewind admits that he did do the things he is praised for. This isn't a Creator's Pet, though. We know he isn't badass... Kinda...
  • November 10, 2011
    Part of why Mary Sue fanfics are so abhorred when they do this, as they twist other characters into nonstop admiration of the Sue.

    • Golden Sun: After beating the Inevitable Tournament at Tolbi, it's mentioned that the city's leader Babi was singing Isaac's praises. Though since Isaac only got into the tournament by saving Babi's life (and he thought Isaac and friends would beuseful to him), it's understandable.

  • November 13, 2011
    Well, this has been in ykttw for over two weeks now and has quite a few examples. Are there any comments or complaints that need to be made?
  • November 14, 2011
    Will launch after exams finish if nobody else has anything to say, I suppose.
  • November 23, 2011
    Oh, right, forgot this. Will launch tomorrow afternoon.