Immune To Slapstick
When a character tends to avoid involvement with cartoon antics or injuries
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.
ExamplesAnime 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.
- Played with in the Pokémon anime. While the hero cast aren't immune to cartoon injuries, a lot of suspense in the show is reliant on their supposed inability to perform the same Toon Physics as Team Rocket. One episode had the trio fall down a cliff in a manner reminiscent of a Road Runner cartoon, when one of the protagonists almost did the same seconds after, it was totally Played for Drama. For extra insult she even suffered a Thundershock from a random Pokemon while clinging for her life, again completely dramaticallynote .
- Ranma ˝: The two elder Tendo sisters often come through the most insane of occurrences with hardly a scratch, thought for very different reasons. For Kasumi it's that she's such a Nice Girl that there seems to be an unspoken taboo for harming her. Even when she gets taken over by an oni that can only be removed by knocking her unconscious, no one can bring themselves to do it, and so endure the "evil" actions she commits while possessed. For Nabiki it's often that she's manipulating the participants and has been known to sow wanton destruction simply for her own entertainment, and so makes a point to be somewhere else when the violence starts, and so never pays the price for her actions.
- Word of God explains this as the reason the female grey spy of Spy vs. Spy comics always won in her appearances, since Antonio Prohias 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.
- In The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé, one step in the marble staircase at Marlinspike Hall is broken, and every main character in the story seems to make a pratfall because of this (Captain Haddock even injures his foot), except for Bianca Castafiore, who never falls despite walking around in high heels all the time.
- When Joe Besser joined The Three Stooges he refused to partake in the Comedic Sociopathy, but later relented.
- Played with 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.
- 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.
- BlazBlue 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.
- Shadow of Sonic the Hedgehog for the large part upkeeps a Darker and Edgier tone and rarely engages in highly comical moments. This actually became a hinderance during his inclusion in the sitcom heavy Sonic Boom, as writers stated they had trouble utilising him without turning him into a joke. His Archie comic counterpart will subvert it every now and then however.
- El Goonish Shive NP (NewsPaper) edition's "Oblivious Hand-Waving" arc, in which Tedd buys a magic wand that randomly warps reality.
- During To Boldly Flee, Mechakara (Linkara's evil robot duplicate), did not engage in any of the wacky antics or zaniness of the show. In commentary, Linkara stated that Mechakara was one of his most menacing, most serious antagonists, and so he felt that it would be out of character for him to be the butt of jokes. He had a few moments of being The Comically Serious or forcing slapstick onto OTHER characters, however.
- Even Looney Tunes, the quintessential slapstick cartoon series, has examples of such:
- A key criticism towards Lola Bunny in her debut in Space Jam, who despite being boosted a new leading character to the 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.
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