Created By: Psi001December 11, 2011 Last Edited By: Psi001July 10, 2015

Immune To Slapstick

When a character tends to avoid involvement with cartoon antics or injuries

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Trope
There are some characters who just won't be part of the gag. They won't indignify themselves with zany acting, they won't take a pratfall on that banana peel on the floor and generally avoid doing anything clownish or potentially humiliating.

Not all characters are comedic. The Stoic Anti Hero certainly can't be seen indignifying himself in the wacky antics of the heroes, while that new more sinister Big Bad likely isn't going to fall victim to a comedic Humiliation Conga like the previous Harmless Villain did.

As such, whenever the scene gets a bit Denser And Wackier, such a character disappears, not to be seen until the mood gets a little darker.

Alternatively the character may still appear but generally doesn't involve himself in the antics of those around him. This is particularly prominent with another character type, usually The Fool or The Ace, who can be comical, however manage to always avoid the same slapstick pain and humiliation as almost everyone around them. Such an event is usually always Played For Laughs, and usually at the expense of those who aren't so immune.

Female characters were often prone to this, due to wariness to placing them in violent situations and still having the same comedic value, though as of recently, some works have become braver and shown Slapstick Knows No Gender.

Contrast The Comically Serious, a character that is normally dignified, but only to make their eventual fall to a gag more effective. Also compare Shoo Out The Clowns, when a comedic character disappears when the story gets more serious. Compare Bulletproof Fashion Plate, where a character does go through the abuse, but still comes out smelling like a rose.


Examples

Anime And Manga
  • Robin in One Piece to some degree. Although she doesn't balk at partying and laughing with her crewmates, she's the only member of the Straw Hat crew that never gets Super Deformed and is never targetted by a gag.
  • Meta Knight in Kirby Of The Stars to an an extent. Though he does have moments as The Comically Serious he usually stays out of the lighthearted scenes in Papupu Village, only appearing when required to battle a threat to the village.
  • Kai of the Beyblade anime series (being The Stoic Anti Hero of the team) rarely took part in comedic moments, usually acting as a bemused audience or leaving to do his own thing. Rei/Ray, though more jovial, usually only had a handful of cartoony moments per series as well.
  • The super-serious Stoic Signum and the Wolf Man Zafira are among the few members of Lyrical Nanoha cast who rarely appear in comedic sequences and even when they do, it's usually in a Deadpan Snarker way.

ComicBooks
  • Word Of God explains this as the reason the female grey spy of Spy Vs Spy comics always won in her appearances, since Antonio Prohías was unwilling to put a female character in the same slapstick brutality as the male spies. The character was retired for a long period of time since the inability to place her in physical humour made her boring.

Film

Literature
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of novels. The Guild of Fools, Joculators, Clowns, Buffoons, Minstrels and Mime Artists in Ankh-Morpork specialises in physical comedy. pratfalls, tumbles, amusing escapades with custard pies, buckets of water and joke flowers that squirt liquid are their stock-in trade. But one Clown never, ever, lands in the middle of the pies or buckets or general pratfalling. In a funny sort of way, he is Ground Zero. But Ground Zero from the point of view of the nuke. Doctor Whiteface, the stern, austere and utterly joyless Head of the Guild, is above that sort of thing. He walks unscathed through the circus ring whilst physical humour happens to other people.

Video Games

Web Comics
  • El Goonish Shive NP (NewsPaper) edition's "Oblivious Hand-Waving" arc, in which Tedd buys a magic wand that randomly warps reality.
    • In one of the strips Susan is shown reading and totally unaffected by the weird goings-on (she was originally supposed to have turned part-armadillo) because of her serious nature.
    • In this strip Adrian Raven tries to resist the weirdness but fails: he ends up being turned into a woman.

Western Animation
  • A key criticism towards Lola Bunny in her debut in Space Jam, who despite being boosted a new leading character to the Looney Tunes franchise, played very little part in the cartoony antics of the original cast (to the point even some of the live action characters fall victim to squash and stretch slapstick more than she does). The one instance she is put at harm by one of the Monstars, it is Played For Drama and averted by Bugs performing a Heroic Sacrifice. The character was revised for The Looney Tunes Show, with the character having a more abrasive personality, albeit still mostly in a dialogue centric sense.
  • Wile E Coyote And The Road Runner. The Road Runner is one of the few regulars to never be the butt of a gag. While most Looney Tunes protagonists are more frequently dishing out slapstick abuse than taking it, they at least have some exceptional cases. The Road Runner's most distinguishing wacky characteristic was holding up a sign reading his opinions.
  • Scenes in The Dreamstone taking place in the Land Of Dreams give something of a slight Mood Whiplash against those in Viltheed, due to the heroes' usual avoidance of slapstick violence or cartoony Wild Takes. The Noops at least may suffer the odd non deformed pratfall every now and then, albeit for every dozen or so times the Urpneys get comically squashed, fried and beaten to a pulp.
  • Thomas The Tank Engine (and The Railway Series novels they were based on)
    • Older And Wiser engines such as Edward and Toby were initially depicted as far more experienced and competent than the other more arrogant or childish engines, rarely causing accidents or getting into standard unusual predicaments (Toby's first appearance even notes he hasn't had an accident in years). As the show became more Aesop-centric, the cast was rewritten to have more equal shortcomings, leading most of said engines to get into scrapes of their own.
    • Gordon boasted being this in "Off The Rails", having never had a true accident, but was only Tempting Fate.
Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • December 11, 2011
    randomsurfer
    When Joe Besser joined The Three Stooges he refused to partake in the Comedic Sociopathy, but later relented.
  • December 11, 2011
    Damr1990
    A Broken Bird,Cool Big Sister and an Aloof Big Brother may also could fit here, as they only don't get too involved and simply see their close ones enact on Lapstic, while they just observe them with amusement,fondness, or Melancholy(specially if they have a secret that torments them and they consider the slapstick momment a brief tranquility moment)
  • December 12, 2011
    Koveras
    Chaste Hero has this trait by default.
  • December 12, 2011
    Lyendith
    • Robin in One Piece has this role to an extent. Although she doesn't balk at partying and laughing with her crewmates, she's the only member of the Straw Hat crew that never gets Super Deformed and is never targetted by a gag.

  • December 12, 2011
    Koveras
  • December 12, 2011
    Lore
    Reaaaaaly not sure about this, but isn't the Road Runner litteraly Immune To Slaptick
  • December 12, 2011
    Psi001
    That may count in the latter more comical sense (ie. the very competant or Born Lucky character that never gets hurt by cartoon violence). Other Looney Tunes heroes like Bugs and Speedy, while still rather wacky, also usually dish out a lot more than they take, though do fall victim to it every once in a while. The Road Runner however never got so much as a feather out of place.
    • Similarly the scenes in The Dreamstone taking place in the Land Of Dreams give something of a slight Mood Whiplash against those in Viltheed, due to the far less prominant use of slapstick violence. They do get it engage in it every now and then but in a much Lighter And Softer sense than the Urpneys. Subverted in the pilot due to Rufus' klutzier personality.
    • Meta Knight in Kirby Of The Stars to an an extent. Though he does have moments as The Comically Serious he usually stays out of the light hearted scenes in Papupu Village, only appearing when required to battle a threat to the village.
    • Shadow of Sonic The Hedgehog for the large part upkeeps a Darker And Edgier tone and rarely engages in highly comical moments. His Archie comic counterpart will subvert it every now and then however.
    • Norbert plays with this in The Angry Beavers as he is only this when they want to enthasise how much Daggett isn't. Daggett even lampshades his ability to dodge cartoon pain when they switch roles.

    Often a recurring trait with female characters in fiction, due to writers having a harder time enflicting slapstick violence in a equally comical tone on them, hence the subverted trope Slapstick Knows No Gender.
  • December 12, 2011
    Duncan
    In The Great Race, The Great Leslie is a Bulletproof Fashion Plate- he manages to walk through a giant pie fight in a bakery in a white suit without getting anything on him until the very end when he gets hit with a white pie.
  • June 22, 2013
    Psi001
    • A key criticism towards Lola Bunny in her debut in Space Jam, who despite being boosted a new leading character to the Looney Tunes franchise, played very little part in the cartoony antics of the original cast (to the point even some of the live action characters fall victim to squash and stretch slapstick more than she does). The one instance she is put at harm by one of the Monstars, it is played seriously. The character was revised for The Looney Tunes Show, with the character having a more abrasive personality, albeit still mostly in a dialogue centric sense.
  • June 22, 2013
    AgProv
    • The Guild of Fools, Joculators, Clowns, Buffoons, Minstrels and Mime Artists in Ankh-Morpork specialises in physical comedy. pratfalls, tumbles, amusing escapades with custard pies, bucxkets of water and joke flowers that squirt liquid are their stock-in trade. But one Clown never, ever, lands in the middle of the pies or buckets or general pratfalling. In a funny sort of way, he is Ground Zero. But Ground Zero from the point of view of the nuke. Doctor Whiteface, the stern, austere and utterly joyless Head of the Guild, is above that sort of thing. He walks unscathed through the circus ring whilst physical humour happens to other people. He and his Clowns are to be found in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of novels.
  • July 8, 2013
    MrRuano
    Blaz Blue has Hakumen play this, being a character entirely defined by his seriousness. For example, the first game only had him in a single scene in Tager's humorous route, but even then is not involved with any of the comedy. Continuum Shift expands this further by denying him an entire gag route just because of his seriousness.
  • July 8, 2013
    Psi001
    • Naz of Ed Edd N Eddy was rarely an individual victim to the show's rather violent slapstick, usually only seen as collateral damage or an outside witness to the strange goings on.
    • Kai of the Beyblade anime series (being The Stoic Anti Hero of the team) rarely took part in comedic moments, usually acting as a bemused audience or leaving to do his own thing. Rei/Ray, though more jovial, usually only had a handful of cartoony moments per series as well.
  • July 8, 2013
    MiinU
    How is this different from Only Sane Man?
  • July 8, 2013
    Jokubas
    I'd like to add that the One Piece example with Robin was made explicit during the Thriller Barque arc, when Franky randomly decided to activate Tactics 15: Pirates Docking 6, which involved the characters all joining up like mecha in a transformation sequence. Robin absolutely refused to be a part of it, devastating the rest of them.
  • July 8, 2013
    Psi001
    ^^ An Only Sane Man doesn't necessarily have to be dignified, and can still be The Comically Serious or even the Butt Monkey. This is a character who specifically doesn't get involved with anything cartoony or clownish (or at least does to a noticeably sparse degree).

    • In Thomas The Tank Engine (and The Railway Series novels they were based on), Older And Wiser engines such as Edward and Toby were initially depicted as far more experienced and competent than the other more arrogant or childish engines, rarely causing accidents or getting into standard unusual predicaments (Toby's first appearance even notes he hasn't had an accident in years). As the show became more Aesop-centric, the cast was rewritten to have more equal shortcomings, leading most of said engines to get into scrapes of their own.
      • Gordon boasted being this in "Off The Rails", having never had a true accident, but was only Tempting Fate.
  • July 11, 2013
    Arivne
    Web Comics
    • El Goonish Shive NP (NewsPaper) edition's "Oblivious Hand-Waving" arc, in which Tedd buys a magic wand that randomly warps reality.
      • In one of the strips Susan is shown reading and totally unaffected by the weird goings-on (she was originally supposed to have turned part-armadillo) because of her serious nature.
      • In this strip Adrian Raven tries to resist the weirdness but fails: he ends up being turned into a woman.
  • July 11, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this an internal gag in the pie-throwing scene in Blake Edwards' The Great Race? Specifically, Leslie moves through the trajectories of a number of flying pies unscathed until he finally gets a slow one in the face.
  • July 11, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Happy Days: Chachi & Roger are having a friendly battle and each has a pie. They decide to pie the next person who walks in - which is Fonzie. They take one look at him and pie each other instead. (In a Hilarious Outtake they do pie Henry "Fonzie" Winkler.)
  • February 8, 2014
    Psi001
    • In universe parody with The Simpsons episode "The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show", where the aforementioned Show Within A Show introduces a new Totally Radical character to the series. The character immediately becomes unpopular, due to grinding the ultra violent show to a halt to rap and speak hip slang.
      Milhouse: When are they going to get to the fireworks factory? *sobs*
  • July 17, 2014
    Arivne
  • July 17, 2014
    DAN004
    What's Bulletproof Fashion Plate doing here?
  • July 17, 2014
    Psi001
    ^ It applies to someone who takes a lot of abuse, but still comes out smelling like a rose, usually for comedic effect. May count more as compare example though (being a person who does take slapstick, but doesn't suffer any of the pain or indignity from it).
  • July 17, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ as I see it, BFP is played for drama, not slapstick. As in, what ppl suffered in BFP can be more dangerous or serious than slapstick.
  • July 17, 2014
    wattage
    Brodie Lee (now Luke Harper of The Wyatt Family) had this trait in CHIKARA. Whenever the usual tomfoolery broke out, such as a mid-match baseball game, he'd refuse to involve himself and just beat the piss out of all the participants.
  • July 10, 2015
    Psi001
    • Word Of God explains this as the reason the female grey spy of Spy Vs Spy comics always won in her appearances, since Antonio Prohías was unwilling to put a female character in the same slapstick brutality as the male spies. The character was retired for a long period of time since the inability to place her in physical humour made her boring.

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