Created By: SomeSortOfTroper on June 6, 2010 Last Edited By: SomeSortOfTroper on June 7, 2010
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They Wasted A Perfectly Good Character

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The character is brilliant. They might be the hero. They might be the villain. Hell, they might be the love interest, the woobie, a lucky promoted mook, a total jerk (but with a heart of gold), or just some poor cabbage vendor who laments his way into the hearts of fans.

No matter what trope they fall under, whether a single trope or many, they all have one thing in common. You love them but the writer doesn't.

It's not their fault. They do the best they can. They worm their way into your heart with a Crowning Moment of Awesome or they lambast people with their sharp tongue but it doesn't matter. They just never seem to get the screentime that you think they deserve.

Often happens when a single- or few-episode character is introduced and they could have been extremely interesting and could have potentially spawned an interesting plot or new dynamic if made a permanent fixture but was underdeveloped and then discarded.

A subtrope of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot.


  • Apparently people feel this way about Alice from Twilight. If only the series could be about her romance with Bella.
  • Angel. The fifth season big bads, The Circle of Black Thorns, are introduced and killed off in just two episodes.
  • Stargate SG-1: Linea, the genocidal maniac who could effortlessly hack computers, cure the blind, and make diseases that destroy planets, that had a complete understanding of how the Stargate worked, and was an old lady, seemed like such a cool villain for SG-1 to face. It was their fault she was loose in the first place which adds drama, she is obviously smarter than them, and how often do you see a quiet old lady as a villain anyway? Instead she came back a year later, younger, mindwiped, and redeemed so Daniel could have a rebound girl and then was completely forgotten about all over again.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • June 6, 2010
    SomeSortOfTroper
    • Star Wars Expanded Universe fans will never agree on it, but it seems that the decision to kill Anakin Solo just as they'd launched three major plot arcs around him (romance, check; special abilities, check; unique connection with enemy culture, check) was a bit of a dead end. Oddly, the writers of the post-New-Jedi-Order era seem to agree, as they keep making everyone relive his death.
  • June 6, 2010
    MatthewTheRaven
    • I've never read the books, but Murtagh from Eragon seems to be liked even by the anti-fans, and not just because he opposes the Psychopathic Manchild hero.
    • Honestly, every character but Bella and Edward from Twilight is pretty cool.
    • Michael Gough's performance as Alfred in Batman And Robin is the one genuinely touching, emotionally moving performance in the entire film. This may not count, however, as the Batman franchise as a whole is beloved and has many great moments.
    • Doblone from Escape2000 was a kick-ass, swarthy Italian with a truly infectious personality. He was such an Ensemble Darkhorse that the Boisterous Bruiser was once named The Toblerone, after the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew's mishearing of his name.
    • Torgo may also be a similar case. His actor didn't turn in a great performance, but the character was endearing in an inexplicable way despite being a creepy white trash satyr.

  • June 6, 2010
    TJ
    • Brian Jacques is guilty of this quite often in the Redwall Series, introducing a charismatic, kickass new character and then killing them off within two chapters. Has overlap with Too Cool To Live.
  • June 6, 2010
    callsignecho
  • June 6, 2010
    asterselene
    No, Ensemble Darkhorse is about someone who everyone likes despite not being a main character. This trope is about a character that could have been developed more, or could have appeared more.
  • June 7, 2010
    SevenOfDiamonds
    @Matthew The Raven: "Honestly, every character but Bella and Edward from Twilight is pretty cool."

    Renesme's suffers from the same Canon Sue syndrome as her parents (though she's not without potential.) Otherwise, I'd have to agree this is true.

  • June 7, 2010
    IuraCivium
    • For people who never delve into the Expanded Universe of Star Wars, General Grievous. He gets name-dropped in the opening crawl and appears for just a few minutes total in the film before Obi-Wan pwns him.
  • June 7, 2010
    joeyjojo
    how often do you see a quiet old lady as a villain anyway?

    Wizard Of Oz?
  • June 7, 2010
    TheBigSock
    Same as the Star Wars example: Nihilus in Mass Effect has a bridge drop on him five minutes into the game. Only those who read one of the Mass Effect novels can fully appreciate Nihilus' badassness.
  • June 7, 2010
    Freezer
  • June 7, 2010
    joeyjojo
    Honestly, Trudy from Avatar was one of my favorite characters, because she really sacrificed the most in the final assault. Yet while the others had a happy ending, she went down fighting.
  • June 7, 2010
    IgnoreMe!
    It seems like Too Cool to Live is when this is done well and serves the story.

    Horror movies like to up the tension by killing the coolest or most sympathetic character. The problem is, this person may have been the only thing the movie had going for it. The blonde assassin chick in Alien Vs. Predator. This Troper inner monologue while watching said flick: "Oh, she looks cool. This might be okay... oh, wait never mind. What else is on?"
  • June 7, 2010
    TrustBen
    Could be said of some of the short-termers on Lost: Libby, Charlotte, Ilana, etc. Shannon got the bridge when she was just starting to develop.
  • June 7, 2010
    MatthewTheRaven
    @Ignore Me!: Hell yeah, the blonde assassin chick from Alien Vs. Predator is soooooo one of these.

    Anyone feel this way about Marlena Diamond from Cloverfield? Basically because she had a personality beyond Holds-Camera, Hot Chick, and WAAAAAAAAAAALT! WAAAAAAAAAAALT!
  • June 7, 2010
    TJ
    @gneissi: But were you upset because Trudy died, or because she hardly showed up at all? I don't remember the movie well at all, but if she got plenty of screentime before she died, she may be an Ensemble Darkhorse, not this.
  • June 7, 2010
    larynxist
    Agreed, this is a lot like Ensemble Darkhorse. If a character is not a main character, it necessarily follows that the writer does not give them as many appearances or as much development.

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