Created By: Clarkarius on December 28, 2012 Last Edited By: Koveras on April 29, 2013
Troped

Story Branch Favoritism

There are multiple story branches but one is better developed by the creator than others.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Formerly known as Creator Preferred Story Branch.

In a story that allows for some degree of Story Branching, a character is presented with a clear number of choices each with their own viable outcomes. However, one of these options sometimes appears to be substantially more developed then the others or appears to coincide better with the plot as a whole, as if the author wanted the players to follow this path and added all others as mere diversions. This is an example of Story Branch Favoritism on the developer's part, where a particular branch of the story features more content or is better developed than others--but does not render any of the other branches as non-canon.

One common variation is the Golden Ending, which is considered the best overall ending a player can achieve from the creators' perspective. Alternatively, some games employ Relationship Values to let the Player Character pair off with any of the cast member they choose, but one particular Love Interest seems unfairly promoted over others.

Cutting Off the Branches is a Sister Trope, which can be an ultimate expression of Story Branch Favoritism, wherein the author outright removes the unfavored branches from later continuity. Related tropes also include Railroading and Follow the Plotted Line, where the writer forces a character to follow a specific path regardless to what other options are available.

Not to be confused with But Thou Must! scenario, where only one option is viable. Does not apply to Fan Work for obvious reasons.

Examples

Comic Books
  • Played with in Marvel Comics' What If? series, where writers were able to print several stories based on Alternate Histories of the established canon. Although most of these were stand alone stories, popular entries such as Spider-Girl gained there own series in time.

Film

Literature

Video Games
  • King's Quest 6 has a branching storyline. Although there are many variables that dictate who shows up at the finale wedding, the choice of taking the "short path" or the "long path" is the most important. As the "long path" is happier, just about everyone (and the official novelization for that matter) chooses that as the "real" one. See the entry at Golden Ending.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Shepard is often portrayed in the default Soldier class, which by the games own lore makes the most sense in explaining his prowess in combat. This is particularly true in the first game where it is hard to justify how Shepard can match an Asari in biotic power or a Quarian engineer in Tech skills.
    • Liara T'Soni is the only Love Interest who can be romanced in all three games, by both genders, and cannot die under any circumstances except for low-EMS ending of the final installment.
  • In Persona 3 and, to a much lesser degree, Persona 4 the characters representing the Lovers arcana are suggested to be the preferred love interests over the other female cast members, who only will only show a romantic interest in the PC during their Social Links and in specific in-game events.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog plays this trope straight, where although the game features up to 11 different endings ranging from Evil to Neutral to Good; only the hidden Neutral ending against the obvious Big Bad is considered to be the games Golden Ending from the creator standpoint.
  • Where themes of Law vs Chaos are concerned, the Neutral endings in Shin Megami Tensei where humanity takes a stand and does not commit to a specific faction, are considered to be the best endings from the creator perspective. To say the least the alternative endings are not that desirable...
  • The Witcher splits into three distinct paths mid-game, one for the Order and the Scoia'tael and a neutral one. The latter features more content and is actually harder to unlock. This is justified by the eponymous Witchers' code, which forbids them from taking sides in conflicts--so the neutral path makes the most sense in-story.

Tabletop Games
  • Inevitable in most Role Playing Games where the GM will attempt to steer the party towards the story branch they want the game to follow, regardless as to how the party may have handled earlier encounters.

Live-Action TV
  • In the British sitcom Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps the ending to the Series 8 finale was decided via an online poll where viewers were encouraged to vote for the preferred conclusion to a love triangle. In time both endings would be broadcast, but following the release of Series nine, the winning conclusion became the preferred Branch.

Will go under Interactive Storytelling Tropes.
Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • December 28, 2012
    highwaystonowhere
    A obvious example to start you off is how Stephanie Meyer shamelessly favoured team edward over team jacob, and never even consider jacobella.

    Or how Glee favoured Will/emma over will/terri, or how Finchel was always going to win over fuinn.
  • December 28, 2012
    Clarkarius
    Hmm, that is true I suppose the writer did suggest that there was a choice as to which teams there respective fandoms could support when in fact only one of them was developed on, so it does fit, although I only really thought of it from a story that allows branching. May edit that part into the draft. Thanks for the help.
  • December 28, 2012
    dvorak
  • December 28, 2012
    O
    ^Could be listed as a sister trope.
  • December 28, 2012
    billybobfred
    Cutting Off The Branches would be the Retcon mentioned in the description, and takes place in a work's sequel.

    This would appear to be a pre-emptive attempt to prune non-favored branches, and takes place in the work itself.
  • December 28, 2012
    billybobfred
    Also I'm 99% sure the Twilight example can't fit, because it's non-interactive literature.

    You have to be able to actually choose, rather than just tell all your friends you made a choice.

    at least that's how i understand it............
  • December 29, 2012
    MorganWick
    ^The description seems to disagree: "Examples of this in shipping tropes, would be if Bob was given a choice to date either Alice or Clair; yet despite choosing Clair, Alice continues to flirt with Bob frequently and his new relationship with Clair gets little in the way of story mention. Bonus points if Clair is later removed from the plot making Alice the de facto love interest at the end of the story."
  • December 29, 2012
    Clarkarius
    I was not sure about the Twilight example myself, as it is a book with a clear plotline and as such never had Story Branching to begin with outside of Fan Works.

    Still better examples would be appreciated.
  • December 29, 2012
    Koveras
    I have beef with the word "Canon" in the current title. Basically, canon is something definitive. A story branch is either canon or non-canon or head-canon. It cannot be "more canon than the other". If I understood the write-up (which is ungodly long, by the way) correctly, this is about situations where certain story branches are presented as more satisfying or have more content than others. In that case, "Creator-Preferred Story Branch" might work better as a title and be related to the Golden Path.
  • December 29, 2012
    Clarkarius
    Did not think about thank you for pointing that out :). Still I'm struggling to find examples outside of Videogames and Pn P RPG's. Anyone have any suggestions?
  • December 29, 2012
    MrRuano
    Dawn Of War Winter Assault, Dark Crusade and Soulstorm both had different routes depending on which race the player chose to play as. For Winter Assault, the true ending is that the Eldar do defeat the Necrons, but General Sturnn reclaims the titan instead of dying with it while Gorgutz kills Crull and takes his skull while fleeing Lorn V. Dark Crusade makes it canon that the Blood Ravens take over Kronus, with noted victories against the Necrons and the Imperial Guard under Governor-Militant Lukas Alexander. Soulstorm has Commander Boreale and the Blood Ravens all but eradicated in Kaurava, with the victors generally assumed to be the Imperial Guard under General Vance Stubbs at the cost of a hundred baneblades.
  • December 29, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Maybe that's because the Story Branching trope is almost exclusive to the Video Game medium and RPGs lend themselves best to choice-driven gameplay?

    • The Witcher splits into three distinct paths mid-game, one for the Order and the Scoia'tael and a neutral one. The latter features more content and is actually harder to unlock. This is justified by the eponymous Witchers' code, which forbids them from taking sides in conflicts--so the neutral path makes the most sense in-story.
  • December 29, 2012
    Clarkarius
    ^That was my conclusion on the matter, although there are some exceptions in media, like when an audience have been offered to the chance to vote for the preferred ending.
  • December 29, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In the gimmick film Mr Sardonicus just before the end, producer William Castle appears and asks the audience to hold up cards so as to vote for whether Sardonicus lives or dies...but Castle only filmed one ending.
  • December 30, 2012
    TairaMai
    Played with as SF Debris points out: Marvel Comic's What if? where the writers were not bound by canon. You could have a main character murder on page 2 for example. Spider Girl was born in a What if? book. However if everything was possible and none of it mattered some issues sold better than others. So when Star Trek Voyager did their Year Of Hell two parter, while it was exciting television (earning a 9 out of 10) the show hit the reset button invoking this. It should have changed this dynamic of the show, growing the beard the characters and plots needed. Instead it all went back to normal.
  • December 30, 2012
    Clarkarius
    In response to the Star Trek Voyager example, was the plot reset part of the actual episode or an executive decision that was made later on? If it was in the episode itself it would not qualify turning it into It Was All A Dream type scenario.
  • January 2, 2013
    BeerBaron
    • Averted hard with the ending to Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall . Future games in the series reveal that all of the endings happened simultaneously as part of a "dragon break."
  • January 2, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    Kings Quest 6 has a branching storyline. Although there are many variables that dictate who shows up at the finale wedding, the choice of taking the "short ending" or the "long ending" is the most important. As the "long ending" is happier, just about everyone (and the official novelization for that matter) chooses that as the "real" one. See the entry at Golden Ending.
  • January 2, 2013
    Koveras
    Also from Mass Effect: Liara T'Soni is the only Love Interest who can be romanced in all three games, by both genders, and cannot die under any circumstances except for low-EMS ending of the final installment.
  • January 3, 2013
    Koveras
    The write-up already needs cleanup, as some examples fall under Cutting Off The Branches. The way it is defined now, Creator Preferred Story Branch is a story branch that features more content or is better developed than others but doesn't render said other branches non-canon. Cutting Off The Branches, on the other hand, does render previously equally (non)canonical branches either definitely canon or definitely non-canon. As such:

    • Dawn Of War is clearly Cutting Off The Branches, since later expansions render alternate branches in the previous expansions non-canon.
    • Daggerfall is an aversion of Cutting Off The Branches, not this trope.
    • "A better example of this trope from [Mass Effect]" is actually Cutting Off The Branches: without Old Save Bonus, the second game assumes that Shepard refused most sidequests in part one, cutting most secondary arcs short. If anything, this starting-from-zero path features less content, not more of it, so it cannot be preferred by the creator by definition of the trope. The same applies to Mass Effect 3.
  • January 3, 2013
    Koveras
    More related tropes: Follow The Plotted Line, Railroading.
  • January 14, 2013
    Koveras
    • The devs' preference for the Wizard's story route in Nox is obvious in the fact that it features several levels absent from the Warrior/Conjurer's routes (such as the Underworld after Castle Galava) and a Twist Ending where Jack manages to actually redeem Hecubah instead of killing her off. The reason for such preference is obvious from the development history: the game started off as a magical combat simulator, and the other two classes along with the whole RPG aspect were added much later in the development.
  • February 15, 2013
    Koveras
    Bumpity bump.
  • February 15, 2013
    GoldenDarkness
    • In Fire Emblem Awakening part of the gameplay involves forming couples between party members, including main character Chrom. There are five girls he can get paired of too, but the game though seems to make the Pegasus Knight Sumia his official love interest. The opening CG sequence has a part that depicts Chrom and Sumia together with Sumia holding Chrom's baby daughter in her arms. And halfway through the game Chrom has to get married for plot reasons. If he hasn't married anyone yet, he automatically marries the first available girl with the highest Relationship Values. But if he has the same Relationship Values with multiple girls the girl he marries is based on their programmed priority. Sumia has the highest priority of the five.
  • February 15, 2013
    randomsurfer
    At the end of The Princess Bride (the book) all the protagonist characters are seen Riding Into The Sunset together, implying they all Live Happily Ever After...and then adapter/annotator William Goldman says that what happened in the original book isn't quite as nice as that.
  • February 17, 2013
    Koveras
    ^^ Good example.

    ^ That's more of Cutting Off The Branches via Word Of God.
  • February 17, 2013
    acrobox
    • A lot of Fire Emblem games that have support and marriage systems, either in game or post game in the end credits tend to do this too. In BlazingSword, despite the fact that Eliwood can marry one of three girls, there's a whole romantic subplot in the main story that clearly suggests that he's 'supposed' to end up with Ninian. Similarly, especially in Hector mode, the plot seems to favor a Hector and Lyn paring, though Hector can marry any of 3 girls and Lyn can marry up to 5 different guys. It the sequel game however no pair is ever confirmed since you only ever see one parent.
  • February 17, 2013
    blueflame724
    Doesn't this happen in fighting games? Though there are number of endings for each character, generally the ending of the main character is the true ending(as with Liu Kang)
  • April 15, 2013
    Koveras
    Bump.
  • April 15, 2013
    Prfnoff
    @Koveras: "Cutting Off The Branches via Word Of God" is what the current name sounds like. I think this needs a more accurate name.
  • April 15, 2013
    Koveras
    Suggestions?
  • April 18, 2013
    Koveras
    I have renamed the draft, tell me what you think.
  • April 21, 2013
    Koveras
    Some feedback on the new title?
  • April 27, 2013
    Koveras
    Bump.
  • April 27, 2013
    StarSword
    ^^I like it. Shorter than Creator Preferred Story Branch and is just as descriptive.
  • April 27, 2013
    Koveras
    Yeah, I thought "Favoritism" was a fitting descriptor, since it implies the superiority of one branch at the expense of the others without the latter being completely disregarded.
  • April 28, 2013
    GilvaLepista
    I like Story Branch Favoritism. As far as I'm concerned, you're ready to launch.
  • April 28, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Was Rise really suggested in Persona4 to be the preferred love interest? It always seemed open ended to me whether he chose any of them. In Persona 4 golden they even play this for comedy by joking about the protagonist being indecisive.

    She's the most forward of the female characters about her interest in him. But I don't think that's the same thing as favoritism.
  • April 29, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ I changed the example write-up to downplay the Persona 4 part.

    Also, I have tightened up the trope description in preparation for launch. I will launch it as soon as I have five hats.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=3ibw7t0ym2fb0cu9unh1ak04&trope=StoryBranchFavoritism