Created By: KingZeal on June 30, 2014 Last Edited By: KingZeal on July 20, 2015

Debuting and Debating

Using an argument as an EstablishingCharacterMoment.

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The Debuting and Debating trope occurs when characters are introduced to a story by arguing with one-another. This can be one new character arguing with a series regular, or several new characters arguing with each other. It is also not limited to the literal debut appearance of the character(s), but can also be their first speaking scene or their first scene with significant development. The point is that we did not see much of the character and/or their personality before now, which is why an argument with another character is being used to give us a crash course.

Advantages to this technique include setting up characters as Foils for each other, and giving us a quick insight as to how everyone relates to each other. It becomes much easier for the audience to fit them into a preconcieved archetype, such as The Smart Guy, The Lancer, Hot-Blooded, Idiot Hero, Alpha Bitch, Jerk Jock, and more. This method also gives us a good glimpse of where the character's passions lie; we now know their Berserk Buttons, and possibly gain Exposition on current events as well.

Disadvantages to this technique include possibly setting up a character as "unlikeable" from the beginning. If the first thing we know about them is that they're obnoxious or petty, then the "archetype" the audiences files them under could easily be "The Scrappy". This may be by design if the character is a Hate Sink or a Love to Hate villain, but audiences tend not to like being annoyed, no matter the reason. Another possible disadvantage is that there's a very thin line between this trope and Padding, where the argument wastes screen time that could be used to move the plot forward.

Sub-Trope of Establishing Character Moment. May involve Hate at First Sight.


     Anime & Manga 

  • Bleach uses this trope repeatedly. In addition to the entire series starting after an argument between Ichigo and Rukia, every faction (such as the Shinigami, Vizard, Arrancar, and Vandenreich) and even sub-factions within that faction (the 13th Division third seats, Harribel's Amazon Brigade, and the "Fem-Ritters" are introduced by bickering with each other.

  • Hunter Hunter: The humanoid Chimera Ant generals spend their first scene arguing with each other and providing exposition about one-anothers' motives and hints at their powers.

     Film - Live Action 
  • Star Trek: We're introduced to the protagonist, James Kirk, when he's lectured about joyriding a car and driving it off of the side of a cliff. Later on, we're also introduced to Captain Christopher Pike as he argues with Kirk about wasting his life and potential.
  • Iron Man: Our first full scene with Tony Stark is him having an ethics debate with a beautiful reporter (and they carry that aggression into bed later). Later, the same reporter and Pepper Potts exchange catty dialogue during Pepper's onscreen debut.
  • X-Men: One of the opening scenes in the movie is a debate between Jean Grey and Robert Kelly, which then segues into an argument between the Big Good (Xavier) and Big Bad (Magneto), setting the stage for the events of the film. Later on, Wolverine's first characterization moment is a brief argument with Rogue, and even alter, he berates and mocks the X-Men—especially Cyclops, with whom he shares Hate at First Sight.
  • In the Terminator franchise:

  • War and Peace: Pierre makes his debut in society by arguing, among a bunch of highly conservative, pious Russian aristocrats, that the French Revolution was a great thing and Napoleon is an awesome guy.

  • Final Fantasy VIII: Several characters are introduced this way. In particular, when Squall first meets the fellow members of Squad D (his team during the final SeeD exam), they lightly jab and insult each other during the briefing, and then have a full-blown argument inside the transport on the way to the mission.
Community Feedback Replies: 8
  • June 30, 2014
    Just generalize the Bleach example and give 1-2 specific example of it.
  • June 30, 2014
    ^ Agreed. There isn't enough other examples to prevent the Bleach examples from dominating the trope as of this moment.
  • July 1, 2014
    • War And Peace: Pierre makes his debut in society by arguing, among a bunch of highly conservative, pious Russian aristocrats, that the French Revolution was a great thing and Napoleon is an awesome guy.
  • July 1, 2014
    Alright, I'll rewrite it later.
  • June 26, 2015
  • July 19, 2015
    "X-Men: The opening scene in the movie is an argument between the Big Good (Xavier) and Big Bad (Magneto) which sets the stage for the events of the film."

    Correction: the opening scene is Eric in the concentration camp. Also, Jean is shown arguing for mutant rights before we see Charles and Eric confronting.
  • July 19, 2015
    • Kira Nerys' introductory scene in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine pilot "Emissary" opens with her arguing with somebody in the Bajoran government over Video Phone. When he hangs up, she promptly lays into Benjamin Sisko.
  • July 19, 2015
    • "It Sucks to be Me," One of the opening musical numbers in Avenue Q introduces roommates Rod and Nicky bickering about something petty before they go into their routine about how living together sucks.