Created By: BreadBull on April 30, 2016 Last Edited By: BreadBull on March 22, 2017
Troped

Handy Shortcoming

A character's perceived shortcomings come in useful

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There's this character in a show named Bob who is a little different from everyone else. Maybe his personality is a bit quirky, or perhaps he's abnormally short compared to everyone else, or maybe he has a third arm. The other characters wouldn't mention it (or maybe they will), but one episode there comes a time where Bob gets annoyed or embarrassed at his differences. Luckily though, 10 episode minutes later it just so happens that the cast gets themselves stuck in a situation where said difference comes in useful and only someone with said difference actually is able to solve their predicament. Ooh, how convenient.

This trope comes up either for a bit of character development for Bob, or as an Aesop of sorts towards the audience where the lesson is "Be Yourself" or "Don't be ashamed if you're not like everyone else".

Compare Bunny-Ears Lawyer and "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome. See also Disability Immunity, Disability Superpower, Heart Is an Awesome Power. Sister trope to This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In One Piece, Usopp's pessimism means that he isn't affected by Perona's Negative Hollows, which send everyone else into a Corner of Woe. He even manages to make the ghosts themselves depressed.

Comic Books
  • Astérix: Cacofonix (the village bard)'s legendarily off-key singing (occasionally causing it to rain indoors) means he's often attacked as soon as he opens his mouth, but there are several occasions when he's weaponized.
    • Asterix and the Normans: The Normans don't know what fear is and are looking for someone to teach them (they hear it gives men wings and want to acquire this power). At the end of the story, in recognition for his role he's seated at the village feast while Fulliautomatix is the one tied up.
    • The Mansions of the Gods: To persuade the Romans to desert the Mansions, the Gauls rent an apartment for Cacofonix, telling him that this way, he'll be allowed to practive his singing without the Gauls telling him to shut up, not to mention he'll be surrounded by the refined and cultured Romans. The Romans clear out the next day.
    • In Asterix and Scherahazade, an Indian fakir comes to the village after hearing rumors of a man who can cause rain by singing, and takes Cacofonix, Asterix and Obelix back with him to solve the drought of the Ganges.

Literature
  • Good Omens: When trying to prevent a computer from starting World War III by launching nukes, Anathema hits on the idea of using Newton's uncanny ability to destroy any electronics he touches by trying to improve them. He looks at the computer, start moving things around so they'll work better, and before long the day is saved.

Live-Action TV

Western Animation
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose...You get the idea. Everyone made fun of Rudolph for his 'condition' but on Christmas it was his red nose that saved it.
  • One episode of U.S. Acres had Sheldon upset that he wasn't as tall as everyone else, but then all the characters get stuck in a silo and the only way to get out is through a tiny hole which only Sheldon fits through.
  • Irrational Treasures from Gravity Falls features Mabel ashamed at her silliness, but when Dipper and her get caught up in a conspiracy said silliness helps them solve the case.
  • American Dad! "CIAPOW": Director Bullock believes humans are flawed and machines can do a better job. Later though, when the guys have to escape prison their flaws (as Stan puts it) is what saves them.

Real Life
  • People who are blind can, with some practice, "see" just as well as those who have vision, perhaps even better. Blind people who use echolocation (same principle as bats) would actually have an advantage in times such as night or in a cave where there is low visibility.
Community Feedback Replies: 35
  • April 30, 2016
    DAN004
    This is often the in-universe reasoning for Crazy Awesome.

    Compare Bunny Ears Lawyer for when their quirks are just there as a contrast to the character's general competence, while this trope makes the quirk part of the plot-significant asset.

    Name should change though. Maybe Odd Trait Saves The Day.
  • April 30, 2016
    DAN004
    Supertrope to This Seems To Be A Job For Aquaman (this trope with seemingly useless powers/ability).
  • May 1, 2016
    Snicka
    Yeah, the trope name is a case of Trope Namer Syndrome. I first thought of Handicap Saves The Day, but some of these odd traits aren't handicaps, only unusual traits. Dan's Odd Trait Saves The Day could work.
  • May 1, 2016
    Arivne
    • Examples section

    Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is a Zero Context Example and has been marked as such (ZCE). It needs more specific information about how it fits the trope.
  • May 1, 2016
    Snicka
    What now is in Description is a perfect context for Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - and write a new Description.
  • May 1, 2016
    DAN004
    How does Rudolph's red nose save Christmas anyway?
  • May 1, 2016
    Snicka
    "Then one foggy Christmas Eve / Santa came to say: / "Rudolph, with your nose so bright, / won't you guide my sleight tonight?" - i.e. on a foggy Christmas night, Rudolph's bright nose helps Santa guide through the fog and deliver the presents.
  • May 1, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ so it shines. That's news to me.
  • May 1, 2016
    TonyG
    Dumbo was ostracized for his oversized ears, which in the end are what enabled him to fly and become world famous. Timothy spelled it out succinctly: "The very things that brought you down are gonna carry you up and up and up!"
  • May 1, 2016
    HeroGal2347
  • May 2, 2016
    Arivne
    ^ x 6 @Snicka wrote:

    What now is in Description is a perfect context for Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - and write a new Description.

    According to How To Write An Example - Remember That This Is A Wiki, examples should not be dependent on other parts of the page because those parts can be changed at any time. Each example needs to stand on its own.
  • May 2, 2016
    Aubren
    @Dan 004 If you were raised in the U.S, then I'm disowning you as an American. There's no way you could be American and not have known that.

    Ahem

    Compare Disability Superpower
  • May 3, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ good for me I'm no Yank.
  • May 3, 2016
    Snicka
    Yeah, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is a very American children's story. Non-Americans have an excuse for not knowing it. ;)
  • May 3, 2016
    BreadBull
    Darn - the reason I named the trope Rudolph was because I thought it was such a famous example everyone would know it as a Trope Codifier. Apparently not.
  • May 4, 2016
    Arivne
    The current Description is an Example As A Thesis and should be changed to clearly and simply explain what the trope is about.
  • May 4, 2016
    Snicka
    ^ x6 Arvine: I think you misunderstood what I meant. The current description is, as you point out, an Example As A Thesis. However, the text there is exactly the context the Zero Context Example about Rudolph needs. So what I suggest is that a new Description should be written, as you suggest, and the current Description, instead, should be the context for the Rudolph example. I hope it's clear that way.
  • September 2, 2016
    BreadBull
    bump (sorry)
  • September 3, 2016
    DAN004
    Usually Disability Immunity and Disability Superpower, as well as Insanity Immunity, come up with this trope.
  • September 3, 2016
    MiinU
    Suggest rename to Shortcomes In Handy (i.e. that a shortcoming comes in handy).
  • September 3, 2016
    DrNoPuma
    Would Chekhovs Skill be related in any way?
  • September 3, 2016
    MiinU
    ^A shortcoming doesn't count as a 'skill'.
  • September 4, 2016
    BreadBull
    ^Not sure about Shortcomes In Handy. Kind of hard to tell it's a pun on shortcoming.
  • September 11, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ it's good for a redirect at least
  • September 11, 2016
    DAN004
    Also Chekhovs Flaw for redirect.
  • September 13, 2016
    WildKatGirl
    In One Piece, Usopp's pessimism means that he isn't affected by Perona's Negative Hollows, which send everyone else into a Corner Of Woe. He even manages to make the ghosts themselves depressed.
  • September 13, 2016
    ginsengaddict
    Compare Heart Is An Awesome Power.

    Also, title suggestion: Handy Shortcoming

    "Chekovs" variety tropes are usually reserved for story elements which are brushed over early and recalled later when they become plot-relevant. This particular trope seems to be about a Character Trait that is considered a weakness and a reason to pity the character, but proves to be vital in the end. As such, this definitely needs a better title. But definitely a trope.

    • Sky High: Violet's shapeshifting is limited to morphing into a guinea pig. She get's a lot of flak for this. That is, until she is the only one who can access the gravity controls and prevent the school from falling out the sky.
  • September 13, 2016
    eroock
    How dies this contrast against Disability Immunity?
  • September 13, 2016
    BreadBull
    I still say my original title of Rudolph Saves The Day is a better choice but no, apparently not everyone has heard of that Christmas carol.
  • September 14, 2016
    Chabal2
    Asterix: Cacofonix (the village bard)'s legendarily off-key singing (occasionally causing it to rain indoors) means he's often attacked as soon as he opens his mouth, but there are several occasions when he's weaponized.
    • Asterix And The Normans: The Normans don't know what fear is and are looking for someone to teach them (they hear it gives men wings and want to acquire this power). At the end of the story, in recognition for his role he's seated at the village feast while Fulliautomatix is the one tied up.
    • The Mansions Of The Gods: To persuade the Romans to desert the Mansions, the Gauls rent an apartment for Cacofonix, telling him that this way, he'll be allowed to practive his singing without the Gauls telling him to shut up, not to mention he'll be surrounded by the refined and cultured Romans. The Romans clear out the next day.
    • In Asterix and Scherahazade, an Indian fakir comes to the village after hearing rumors of a man who can cause rain by singing, and takes Cacofonix, Asterix and Obelix back with him to solve the drought of the Ganges.
  • September 15, 2016
    DAN004
    @ eroock: the odd trait that saves the day doesn't have to provide immunity to be useful. And odd traits means more than just disability.
  • September 17, 2016
    BreadBull
    @Chabal 2: What category is that supposed to be?
  • September 18, 2016
    DAN004
  • January 12, 2017
    Chabal2
    Good Omens: When trying to prevent a computer from starting World War III by launching nukes, Anathema hits on the idea of using Newton's uncanny ability to destroy any electronics he touches by trying to improve them. He looks at the computer, start moving things around so they'll work better, and before long the day is saved.
  • V Ideogames > RP Gs > Tales of Symphonia - Collette's clumsiness ends up saving the day when she just so happens to trip and fall onto the specific book they needed to find in a massive library.
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