Adorkable


(permanent link) added: 2010-03-08 09:03:13 sponsor: FreezairForALimitedTime (last reply: 2010-03-13 22:57:12)

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(This is currently mentioned on the page for Moe, but I think it's widespread enough to be its own subtrope. In particular, I sometimes see people referring to these types of characters as The Woobie, when this is more fitting. [Although a character CAN be this AND be The Woobie too.])

"Moe" is a catchall term describing a number of different character types. While it can be used to describe instances of sickeningly over-the-top cuteness, its more unique meaning gravitates towards those who are cute for more character-oriented reasons. Quirky personalities, endearing vulnerability, and outer roughness hiding inner squishiness all contribute to the moe aesthetic. While Moe is generally thought of as applying mainly to female characters, male characters can be thought of as Moe, too.

"Adorkability" is a distinct subtrope (or Sister Trope, depending on how you look at it) of moe that applies mainly to male characters. Moe characters tend to be cute in both looks an appearance. For the Adorkable, looks help, but they're not a prerequisite.

The word "Adorkable" is a combination of "Adorable" and "Dork," and that fairly neatly encapsulates this trope. Adorkable characters are "dorky" in some fashion. Maybe they're socially inept or shy. Maybe they're really clumsy. Maybe they have some really, really conspicuous Character Tic that tends to earn them weird looks. Maybe they're just so darn sweet, against the odds, that it borders on embarrassing. However, rather than making them an outcast, these quirks give the character that same endearing vulnerability that often goes hand-in-hand with Moe.

Remember that this trope is almost Always Male. Now: While societal norms would seem to suggest that this is the opposite of the "Male Ideal" (A Real Man Is a Killer, after all), in reality, many women (and some men) find these types of characters appealing. Rather than an over-the-top ideal, these types of characters are appealing because they're not over-the-top supermen. Much as people grow tired of the Male Gaze and the Third-Person Seductress, so too do people tire of the Top-Heavy Guy with the Lantern Jaw of Justice. (Though with the right personality, even he still has the potential to be Adorkable.) They're both sincere and approachable.

But this trope can be female as well. Again, it's a contributing factor to Moe. However, the Badass Adorable, Action Girl, and other less-than-squishy ladytypes can still become this without going all the way to the Moe extreme.

See also The Woobie.


Examples of characters often considered "Adorkable:"

  • Milo Thatch, from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. 115 pounds of weapons-grade adorkable. He's so clumsy-cute, even a princess falls for him!
  • The Tenth Doctor. It helps that David Tennant is physically quite boyishly cute, but his quirky personality helps.
  • Sora, especially in the first Kingdom Hearts game. In the later games, he Takes A Level In Emo, but beneath it all, he still has a distinct boyish enthusiasm and optimism.
  • Marshall Flinkman, the resident geek in Alias.
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